The Cake in the Middle of the Forest

 There's was once a forest that stretched out for miles and miles. But this story has little to do with how big the forest was, for no matter how many trees a forest has, each one has only one center. And it is the center of this very large forest with which we concern ourselves. You see, the center had a secret. And that secret had to do with cake. For at the center of the forest was a hearth and the baker who tended to the coals was very fond of baking cake.

    One day, a little boy was wandering through the forest and came upon the sight of the baker mixing up the cake batter in the middle of the day.

    Now, the little boy was very hungry because he had been walking since dawn and hadn't had anything to eat — not even any breakfast. His family was very poor, and he had gone out searching for something to bring home that could either be sold or eaten so that his family would not starve.

    'Please, Ms. Baker, Ma'am, could I please have some of that cake to bring home to my family?' the little boy asked.

    The baker pursed her lips, and cocked her head.

    'Whose to say you wouldn't eat it all up before it could get to your family, eh lad?' the baker asked, her voice skeptical and her eyes wary at first sight. A second glance would have revealed the smallest hint of a twinkle, but the boy was too nervous to look a second time.

    His eyes went wide.

   'Oh, I don't think I would do that,' the little boy said, for he was a good little boy.

    'But even good little boys get hungry and cave into temptation at the smell of cake. And from the looks of you I can see that it is a long way home.'

    The little boy looked crestfallen, and his stomach grumbled.

    'Well, the only solution that I can see is to give you a big slice of cake now, so that you won't be tempted when I send the rest of the cake home with you,' said the baker with a smile, for that had been her intent all along.

    The little boy's eyes went wide at the slice the baker put before him. He ate it all very quickly, and thought it was the finest thing he had ever tasted.

    'And now, to the cake. I'll wrap it up for you only...' the baker paused and put a finger on her chin. 'But once your family eats the cake, then they will be very hungry again, won't they?'

    The little boy nodded reluctantly, thinking that perhaps the baker was having second thoughts about sending cake home with him. This made the little boy very sad, for he wanted his family to taste something so delicious.

    'Well, I think I will just have to send home a lot of flour with you, and some sugar too. Some butter and some eggs. Goodness, this will all be too much for you to carry!' said the baker.

    The little boy was blown away at all the food the baker was going to send home with him, and devastated at the thought that he was not strong enough to carry it.

    'I know!' exclaimed the baker. 'I'll send it with you on Runcle. You can keep Runcle, I think. It'll do you both good. Now, promise me that you will take care of Runcle for as long as he is yours, for he needs special care, scrubbing once a week, and lots of pats. Promise?'

    The little boy promised, even though he didn't know who Runcle was — that was how eager he was to bring his family home all that lovely food.

    And then he met Runcle, who came slowly out of the wood and smiled a smile with very sharp teeth.

    For the baker was putting all the food and even two cakes on the back of a dragon!

    And when Runcle was loaded, the baker popped the little boy onto the back of the dragon, and he flew off home. It was the best adventure he had ever had in his entire life, and his whole family made enough money to have food to eat by selling tickets for anyone to come and see Runcle.

    The baker smiled and waved as the little boy departed, knowing even then the truth of what would happen to his family. Then she smiled again. For she would do the same thing all over again tomorrow. And the next day, and the one after that. For there were plenty of dragons, and more than enough ingredients for cake.

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