He passed by the same place innumerable times. Karen would never even know that he kept looking for her forever... he smiled a bitter, defiant smile at the thought of her finding out, at least. He was exhausted now beyond all feeling, but he held himself up straight as a soldier now and walked towards the next turn. The willow tree was there. And there was something under it.
Something bluish. And pudgy. And very very silly. It was laughing and laughing, and when the thing saw Wendell it had a lot to say.
“What took you so long? I’ve been expecting you all morning! Hee hee ha ha ha! Of course, you’re not the only one I’ve been expecting... but the others weren’t as smart as you. Not for a long, long time. Ha ha Hee hee!”
“What? Is Karen here?”
The blue thing tilted its head rakishly and smiled.
“Is that what you fear? Oh, dear!”
Then it burst into a mad fit of giggling, the likes of which Wendell had never seen. The thought of Karen trying to figure out how to get out of this place was not a funny thought to him.
“Tell me where she is!”
“Is that what you will miss?”
“Why don’t you be quiet?”
“I never thought to try it! Hee hee!!”
Wendell’s fingers dug into his hands, but he made himself quickly calm down and think... this thing... creature... liked to rhyme. Maybe he could trick it into saying something useful!! It stopped laughing, and starting rocking, back and forth, back and forth, humming a little tune. Wendell almost found himself swaying too.
“I have a secret I won’t tell, I won’t tell, I won’t tell...” the tune went as it sang.
Perhaps something rhyming with east, if that was the way to go next...
“Did you get so fat at a feast?” Wendell asked cheerfully, in time to the tune.
“I suppose, to say the least!”
“Was the food the very best?”
“Better than the rest! Hah ha!”
“Did you stuff it in your mouth?”
“Why don’t you ask Mrs. Bouth?”
“Did you then try to go forth?”
“That’s what it was worth, Hah ha!!”
Then the creature went back to humming and rocking, rocking and humming. There was one more thing to try.
“You have a secret you won’t tell, you won’t tell, you won’t tell?” Wendell asked innocently.
“Well, well, well, you’ve said it well, I have a secret I won’t tell!!”
Wendell thought for a moment, a sly grin creeping onto his face.
The creature stopped rocking and grinned back at Wendell, mischievously.
“Very well, very well. I smell very well!!”
Wendell danced a little fierce jig and grinned even more.
“Do I go forth?” he sang.
“No, you don’t go north,” The beast sang, dancing too, and grinning.
“Do I go to my best?” he sang, snapping one finger and turning to one side.
“No, you don’t go west.”
“Do I go to a feast?” he sang, calming down a bit and beginning to feel a bit happily anxious, until he could hardly bear it.
“No, you don’t go east.”
The thing was waiting.
“Do I go… to … Mrs. Blouth?” Wendell asked finally, trembling, even though he already knew the answer.
“Yes,” the beast asserted, nodding and smiling with satisfaction, “I tell you with my mouth, you go South.”
Go South from the well... Wendell thought about it. He had always passed it going North!
The well was easy to find now, and Wendell walked up to it, and promptly turned around to go back the way he came, to the South. But now the maze had changed to a single pathway, going off into the distance...