Winter camp was located in a small valley surrounded by snow-covered hills. Skandar took one look at those slopes and decided something must be done with them. He persuaded Sir Arlan to allow him and the other boys a break from training to spend the day exploring in the hills. What he failed to mention was that they were going to take some large shields with them. Skandar had an idea: Sit on a shield and slide down the hills on the snow.
The shield worked beautifully. Its curved surface allowed the boys to sit comfortably inside, holding onto the arm straps. Skandar and his brothers had a grand time of it, sliding down the hill, toiling their way back up, and sliding down again. Then Skandar persuaded the boys to link themselves together, in a sort of human chain. So there they were, lined up on the shields, with each person holding onto the legs of the fellow behind him. Rhino, at the head, gave a push and they all went flying down the side of the hill.
Toward the bottom of the slope, they encountered a small hummock of ice covered with snow. When they hit it, they broke free from their chain and tumbled in different directions. Skandar, Trevor, Wilfred, and Elbert struggled to free themselves from the snow, laughing and whooping in excitement. The boys regained their footing and took stock of their situation—there was no sign of Rhino! They looked around and shouted his name in mounting panic; Rhino was nowhere to be found.
“What have we done?” cried Elbert. “We’ve lost Rhino!”
“Now, lads, let’s not get in a muck,” said Wilfred. “He’s got to be around here somewhere. Here Rhino, come on, lad; tell us where you are.”
The only response to Wilfred’s call was the muted creak of tree branches shifting under their burden of snow. In the meantime, Skandar and Trevor had been combing the surrounding area for any trace of the prince.
“Whatever will we tell Sir Arlan,” Trevor fretted, who was nearly in tears.
“Brace up, Trevor. He’s here; I can feel it. We just can’t see him as yet.”
The boys continued their search, carefully scrutinizing the terrain beneath their feet and the trees overhead.
Suddenly Skandar shouted, “Over here! I see something!”
He pointed to the base of a huge fir tree. The others crowded around and looked where his finger was pointing. There in the snow was a small object that looked like the tip of a boot. They immediately began digging around the object and in a few seconds exposed the entire boot. Heartened, the boys intensified their efforts and in a few minutes uncovered Rhino, who had been buried in the snow.
Apparently when Rhino made contact with the hummock, he sailed into the air and landed at the base of the tree. His body impacted it with such force its branches dumped their load of snow on Rhino’s head. The boys anxiously crowded around Rhino, who was trying to catch his breath. Skandar was beside himself with remorse.
“Rhino,” he said, “I am so awfully sorry. I never should have suggested such a mad scheme. Are you broken anywhere? Oh, I am such a heedless dolt! Speak to me, Rhino, please; tell me that you forgive me.”
Rhino shook the remaining snow out of his ears and drew a deep breath.
“Skandar”, he said. “You’re brilliant. Let’s do it again!”
Excerpt from The Book of Rhino