Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Wild honey was so valuable that Li Du would be glad to collect it if he came across it, but only if doing that didn’t mean risking his life.
Compared with farmed bees, wild bee venom had higher toxicity. If one came across them, it was better to run away, because one was a lot more likely to get beestings than honey.
Godzilla was scared when he saw the wild bees, He whispered, “Let’s get away. Leave quickly. These little bastards are very fierce. Any aggravation will make them attack.”
Li Du was reluctant to leave and took a last look at the beehive. The beehive was big, and he could imagine how much honey it contained!
He opened the mountain map, and Brother Wolf quickly found another route.
Vegetation flourished in the lower half of the mountain, and on the new route, they came across clusters of hardwood, red spruce, glue-fir, beech, ash, and birch.
At noon, they chose a mountain stream for a spot to take a break.
The stream gurgled down, and clear water appeared among the rocks.
Li Du went up to wash his face and found the stream very cool, which was very rare in the summer. He felt nicely refreshed washing his face with the cold water.
After washing his face, he was ready to get some water. Meanwhile, two salamanders emerged from the cracks in the rocks by the stream. They were as long as Li Du’s palm and had bright red spots on their backs.
Because their body color was so striking, Li Du was not sure whether they were toxic or not, so he called Brother Wolf over.
“The red-spotted salamander. You would often run into these fellows in many Appalachian streams. Rich in protein and edible,” said Brother Wolf after taking a look.
As soon as he heard the word ‘edible’, Godzilla was ready for action.
Li Du stopped him and said, “What can you make with such a small thing? And we do not know if they have parasites, so you’d better leave them alone.”
Godzilla smacked his lips ruefully. “They look tasty.”
As usual, it was Firecracker who set up the cooking stones. Brother Wolf started the fire and Li Du went to fetch some water to cook.
He wanted to let Ah Ow and Ah Meow go into the woods to hunt, but after considering this, he got Ah Ow to stay back and sent Ah Meow to hunt alone.
Ah Meow walked silently through the forest. Even if there were hunters or poachers they wouldn’t be able to find him, so he would not encounter any danger. Ah Ow wasn’t able to move as quietly.
Li Du was boiling water when Ah Ow jumped into the stream.
The current in the stream was a little strong, but not excessively so. Li Du thought that Ah Ow was not in danger of being washed away, so he left her as she was.
As a result, the water splashed all over the place. Ah Ow climbed up the bank, jumped down, and then climbed up again, shaking out her fur vigorously.
Ah Ow was very good at playing by herself. Li Du did not bother her and only told her, “Be careful, Ah Ow. Don’t jump too hard.”
After a while, Lu Guan, who just came back from collecting firewood, exclaimed, “Hey, boss, look! What is Ah Ow dragging?”
Li Du turned his head quickly, and then saw Ah Ow who was dragging a big turtle on a nearby rock. She couldn’t hold the turtle in her mouth, so she had to lower her head and bite above its shell.
The turtle had a rough shell the size of a rice cooker, a short thick neck, a long pointed tail, and muscular limbs.
“There are snapping turtles in the river!” exclaimed Li Du.
The snapping turtle was a dominant reptile, relatively common in North America. In nature, they did not have to deal with any predators except the alligator, as no other creature would dare to mess with them.
However, Ah Ow was not an ordinary animal. She spotted the turtle and pulled it out of the river.
The snapping turtle was full of aggression. Li Du went to see it and discovered it was fatally injured. Unlike other turtles, it could not shrink its head and limbs back into its shell, so it could be killed by its opponents.
If the snapping turtle was unharmed, Li Du would choose to respect nature and let it go. Things being as they were, however, he decided to just put the creature out of its misery and cook soup with it.
Like regular freshwater turtles, snapping turtles could also be eaten and had good nutritional value. In addition, because of their unique appearance, they were often kept as pets.
It was easy to kill a snapping turtle, but it was difficult to eat, and the shell was hard to clean up, even though it was thinner than a regular turtle’s.
Godzilla and Brother Wolf knocked and hammered at the shell and finally scooped out the turtle meat. The shell remained intact. Brother Wolf cleaned it and gave it to Li Du to make a decoration out of it.
Turtle stew was good, but Li Du found something more appetizing when he saw the several rabbits that Ah Meow brought back.
Brother Wolf separated the skin and bones, then cut the meat and minced it. Li Du kneaded it into meatballs, and then stir-fried the turtle meat, adding water to make it into a stew.
When the water boiled, he put in the meatballs and made something like a turtle meatball stew.
Rabbit meat was low-fat, and dry braising or roasting wouldn’t be the optimal way to cook it. Snapping turtles were rich in fat, which made up for the disadvantage of the rabbit meat. The combination of turtle and rabbit would taste good.
It took Li Du half an hour to cook the dish, but they had plenty of time now. It was hot at noon and they had a rest instead of climbing.
The meat was stewed and smelled good, and the men were hungry after a morning’s climb. They enjoyed the meal with some dried pressed biscuits that were put in water to make them expand.
The meal gave them plenty of energy, and when they had finished eating and drinking, it was past the hottest hours of the day, so they set off again up the hill.
As they started on their way, Ah Ow’s ears twitched and she stared down.
Li Du knew she noticed something, and said to Brother Wolf, “Stop first, see what’s going on. Ah Ow seems to hear some human voices.”
Brother Wolf took out the telescope and looked through it, then frowned and said, “Yes, behind us there are some people, Indians.”
After a few minutes or so, a few natives appeared in front of them, dressed in semi-traditional attire. They were wearing jeans and leather sandals and went topless. They had painted faces and bird feathers on top of their heads.
The two parties came face to face, and one of the natives pointed at the others and shouted, “Yes, they did it!”
The other natives came swiftly up the rocks, shouting as they walked.
Li Du was not sure whether they had some misunderstanding. “Guys, excuse me, but how did we offend you? I think there’s been a misunderstanding!”
“No misunderstanding! You have invaded our territory and you dare to hunt here!”
The other natives roared:
“Punish them, we can’t let them go!”
“That’s too much, son of a bitch. Look at what they’ve done!”
“Hey, get out of here. Are you sure you want us to go up and get you?”
Godzilla pulled out his shotgun and said, “Boss, let’s get them to calm down!”
Li Du said, “Yes, we need to calm down and talk…”
Boom! Godzilla pulled the trigger when he heard this.