It wasn’t a very good riddle perhaps, but Arnol had made it up on the spot. He was afraid it would be too easy, given that the wooden platforms that were the answer to the riddle formed the perch where they all stood. But the elves seemed perplexed and muttered among themselves in bafflement.
“Remember,” Arnol told them, “you must all close your eyes, and you can’t open them until you’ve solved the riddle. Once you’ve figured it out, see if you can find us!” With that he turned and led the others hurriedly away from the elves, along the wooden platforms and bridges, and through the intertwining branches.
The riddle kept the elves occupied until the mortals were out of sight. Every so often one would excitedly yell out an answer, but some of the smarter ones would quickly see the holes in his theory and silence him. A few of them couldn’t help peeking to see which way their captives went, but Arnol had expected this, and he had planned around it. Once he and the others were far enough away that the elves couldn’t see them, they carefully curved around and made their way back toward them from the other direction. Now they could see some of them again from around the edge of one of their tree-houses. One of the elves suddenly yelled out the correct answer, and a great commotion quickly sprang up as their excitement level skyrocketed. Then, as if they had just remembered that the riddle was only a prelude to the real game, they all rushed off together, jostling each other and leaping helter-skelter through the branches. They followed the path the mortals had taken at first, away from where they were now hiding, just as Arnol had anticipated. When they had gone, he led the way quickly, carefully and silently down to the ground.
Once they were safely back on the solid earth they had to find their way back to where they had left the other mortals. They hadn’t gone far when they were seen by a scout sent out from the main group. “Everyone was wondering what happened to you,” the scout told them. “Some of them talked about leaving you behind, but others said we should send someone to find you. It was decided that scouts should be sent out in every direction, and to bring back word when you were found.”
They followed the scout back and quickly relayed to the group what had happened. “You were right,” Arnol said to Elma. “Those creatures are a bunch of savages. Let’s leave quickly, before they find us again.”