December 1993 | Volume 44, Issue 8
In Chapter XXV: Confusion Rings Out in the Dingo
Here is a way of making jolly entertainment of nothing more than a forest.
Coniferous or deciduous, it is of no moment. Summer or winter or in betwixt, is likewise immaterial to the didoes. It must only be a forest.
Having found a forest, do you have a friend? Then bring him, for the game can only work with two.
Entering the wood primeval, inquire of your friend, “Harry, how many trees do you suppose there to grow all around?” Harry, if true friend he be, will enter in the spirit of the thing with alacrity. “Oh! A counting bee!” he will exclaim, or some such thing. “Oh! Me first!”
Now, there is barely time enough for all the “high-jinks” to be had ‘neath Nature’s canopy.
Each count all the trees within eyeshot, in his head. Before tea time, in this wise, yon woods will echo with the most amusing of exclamations and excitations.
“I am already at fifty-three thousand, six hundred and six, no, six hundred and five—oh, d___, I have lost track, and must return to the forest edge to start quite from ‘scratch’ again!”
“That tree is crooked, Asa, but no more ‘crooked’ than the veracity of your sums!”
“Harry, you have counted yonder oak, second from the left but one in that grove over a hundred yards to the west, twice. I swear it. You must now revise your talk’ to account for this error!”
“Asa, I shall soon take umbrage at the thrust of your innuendo. Tuh! So many may-flies!”
In this way, you and your friend—if friend he remain!—may count your way cross from one edge of the forest, right through to the other.
If you become lost, then subtract in succession, reversed, each tree that you have thus far counted, until the number should once again be at zero, and you shall again be at the forest edge, from whence your wonderful counting game commenced. If in your peregrinations mathematical you should encounter a Grizzly Bear, or a Wolf, then run in the direction opposite —left for right, south for north &c.— from that which your four-footed pursuer chooses.