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Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August


Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August

Author:John August
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press


18

KNOTS

“THE RABBIT GOES OUT OF THE HOLE, around the tree, then back in the hole.”

Connor pulled the rope tight, showing the completed bowline knot. It looked exactly like the illustration in the Field Book.

Arlo followed Connor’s instructions, looping the rope to make a “tree” and a “hole,” then using the free end of the rope as the “rabbit” to circle out and back in. He pulled on it, but all he got was a tangle.

“The tree has to grow out of the ground,” explained Connor, demonstrating which side of the loop needed to be on top. Arlo tried it again. This time, it worked. The knot was strong.

They were prepping for the knot relay, a race between patrols to see who could tie all ten Ranger knots first. Knots were always one of the Alpine Derby stations, so the company spent a lot of time making sure every Ranger knew them.

Having only just started ropecraeft (“There’s an extra e,” explained Indra. “It’s silent but it’s important.”), Arlo knew he was a liability to Blue Patrol. He was slower than the others at tying the knots, and more likely to mess one up.

Plus he only knew eight of the ten knots.

He felt confident with his square knot, taut-line, clove hitch, sheet bend, timber hitch and two half hitches (which was a single knot, despite the name). He hoped he could remember the bowline and the blood knot. But—

“If he draws a sheepshank or a zeppelin bend, we’re toast,” said Indra.

The patrols were gathered in their respective corners of the church basement. Some Rangers were stretching their legs for the sprint. Arlo was so worried about his knots that he hadn’t even considered the running part. He imitated their stretches, though he wasn’t quite sure which muscles he wanted looser.

“Remember, taut-line has two inside the loop, one outside,” said Wu. “And sheet bend goes up, around, then tuck under.”

“Why is it called a sheet bend?”

“It’s good for tying sheets together,” explained Indra. “Like if you had to make a rope.”

Arlo sparked—that was exactly the knot he needed for escaping from his bedroom in the event of a rockslide! He was about to ask what a sheepshank was for when Christian blew the assembly whistle. It was time to line up.

With six Rangers and ten knots, almost everyone in Blue Patrol would need to go twice. Connor put Arlo at the back of the line. “That way, you’ll only have to go once.” Arlo nodded, relieved.

He counted Rangers in the other patrols, figuring out who he would be racing against. In Green Patrol, it was a girl named Zaylin. In Red Patrol, it was Russell Stokes. The redheaded brute saw him staring and made wild eyes back at him.

Senior Patrol would be serving as judges. Each took a station at the far end of the room, with a stack of index cards and a three-foot-long rope at their feet.

“Rangers ready!” called Christian. “Set! Race!”

The patrol leaders took the first leg, sprinting across the room to flip a card revealing which knot they had to tie.



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