A/N I heard something pretty cool about a scene in the previous chapter. In the book/special, the Lorax pops out of the stump almost immediately. But in the movie he doesn't appear until one of the fish knocks on it. I can't say how accurate this is, but I read somewhere that the reason for that, is because real-life lumberjacks used to knock on tree trunks before cutting them down. Apparently it was their way of both asking for permission from the forest spirits and promising to plant a new tree in its place. The Once-ler doesn't do either of those things.
The Once-ler wasn't a responsible woodcutter, thus he didn't get the permission of the forest. So, when the humming-fish knocks on the stump, it summons the forest spirit, the Lorax. Who then angrily goes up to the Once-ler and speaks for the trees.
If that's true, I think that's a really cool detail.
"Oh, I know what you want," said the Once-ler. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a marshmallow. He held it out. "I've got one of these for the cutest little guy I ever saw," he baby-talked. "Yummy-yummy-yummy…"
"Alright, that's just being condescending," said Astrid.
The Lorax stared at the marshmallow. "How dare you! Give me that!" He grabbed the marshmallow and sniffed it. Deciding it smelled good, he proclaimed "Hmmm... I'm going to eat this, but I am highly offended by it."
Several surprised laughs sounded at that.
He plopped it into his mouth. He then hopped off the tree and made his way over to the Once-ler's tent-house. He stood in front of one of the stakes determinedly, leaving the Once-ler very confused.
"Wait a second, that's a tent?" asked Anna. The Once-ler nodded.
"That's a cool tent," said Kristoff.
The Lorax kicked up the stake and the tent started to collapse. "Whoa, what are you–" said the Once-ler. "What?! Hey, mustache!" He slept to hammer the stakes back into the ground. "Will you stop that!"
"Whoa! Why would he do that?" exclaimed Ned.
The Lorax continued circling around the tent-house pulling up stakes. The Once-ler grabbed his hammer and followed, pounding them back in. "What's your deal, man?!" asked the Once-ler.
"Time for you to go, beanpole!" said the Lorax.
"Is all this really deserved?" asked Hiccup. The Once-ler had been kinda rude, but most didn't think he was the one in the wrong in this situation. "Why not just, er, ask him to pay more attention to his surroundings? And to, uh, plant new trees to replace the ones he cuts down?" he suggested.
"Hey," Ted asked as the Once-ler, "do you think you'd have listened then?"
Thoughtful, the Once-ler nodded slowly in response. It was painfully ironic; if only the Lorax hadn't made such a big deal over the first fallen tree, he might've been more inclined to listen to him when the harvesting had actually started to become a problem. But he quickly caught himself staring to blame the Lorax for his own actions. The Once-ler's choices were his own, he chastised himself. At the end of the day, it was still his fault.
They circled faster and faster around the tent-house, the Lorax pulling up stakes and the Once-ler pounding them back in. Melvin eyed them, unimpressed.
"Pull 'em right out and I'm just gonna put 'em right back in," said the Once-ler. "I can do this all day. Unbelievable."
A rapid sequence played of the Once-ler catching the stakes in midair and then hammering them back in. Until the Once-ler caught not a stake, but Pipsqueak.
Not everyone's eyes were quick enough to notice right away. But those who did laughed quite a bit.
"Whoa!" yelled the Lorax, holding out his hand to stop the Once-ler. "Stop right there! Stop it!"
Gasps and giggles filled the room as everyone saw the Once-ler had been about to bring his hammer down on Pipsqueak, right where the stake would've been.
The Once-ler, to his credit, looked horrified, and immediately dropped Pipsqueak and stood.
"So you'd hammer one of nature's innocent creatures?" accused the Lorax.
Ojections filled the auditorium. The Once-ler obviously hadn't meant to grab Pipsqueak, so everyone was quick to jump to his defense.
"That whole thing was your fault," Audrey said to the Lorax accusingly. He was the one who'd started kicking up stakes to begin with.
Pipsqueak happily ran off screen. "What?! No, I would never hit this little guy," said the Once-ler. "You, on the other hand, I would gladly pound you and your mustache into the ground."
The Lorax turns to all of the watching animals. "Behold the intruder and his violent ways!" The Once-ler dropped the hammer, hiding it behind his feet.
Several laughs sounded.
The Lorax turned back to the Once-ler. "Shame on you. For shame."
"What the heck did he do that was so wrong?!" asked Anna. "He cut down one tree, and he almost hit the bear by accident." Sure, he probably should've planted a new tree in place of the one he cut down, but it wasn't as if not doing it one time was going to lead to deforestation.
Most of the theater shared the same sentiment, including the other protagonists in the front row. The Once-ler inwardly sighed. While he appreciated their kindness, he really wished they'd stop defending him. So far, he'd gotten to quite like these people, and he dreaded the inevitable moment when they eventually realized what his true role in the story was.
The Once-ler had had it. "All right, you know what, that's it." He pointed at Lorax. "You listen to me, you furry meatloaf. I'm gonna chop down as many trees as I need. Okay, news flash, not going anywhere." He walked off screen. "End of story!" he said, entering his tent/cottage.
He slammed the door, unaware that the Lorax somehow teleported inside with him.
"Powers?" asked Ted.
The Once-ler sighed. "Probably powers."
"Then you leave me no choice," said the Lorax, causing the startled Once-ler to jump back.
Numerous giggles sounded.
The Once-ler looked confused as the Lorax hopped off the end table onto the floor. Flailing his arms dramatically, the Lorax began to speak in a spooky voice as if casting a spell. "If you're not gone by the time the sun sets on this valley, all the forces of nature will be unleashed upon you-"
The screen showed the Once-ler looking nervous, yet skeptical.
"-and curse you until the end of your days! You have been warned," the Lorax finished, pointing threateningly at the Once-ler.
"Is that actually what happened? Is he cursed?" asked Fishlegs, remembering the old Once-ler living alone in a wasteland as a crazy hermit. He wasn't even human anymore, right? He'd been turned into some sort of creepy monster? Or was that part just his imagination filling in the gaps?
"Uh, no-er well maybe yes and no? I don't think this curse here actually did anything," clarified the Once-ler. For a brief moment he considered the possibility that it had, given how his life had eventually turned out. But immediately he remembered that his downfall had been self-inflicted. Plus, if the Lorax really thought his curse had worked, then what would be the point of trying to send him down the river?
However, a week ago, he would've described his existence as such. Cursed. He lived in a hell of his own making, taunted by that one word. Unless. Unless what? While he'd been living every day alone with the consequences of his actions, little to no hope things would ever change for the better, that stone had felt like more of a curse than anything.
Yes, he would've whole heartedly declared that dialogue perfect foreshadowing. Until, that is, a young boy came to him, asking about trees.
The Lorax tried to make a dramatic exit, but was too short to reach the doorknob.
Everyone laughed. "Why can't he just teleport, like he did to get inside?" asked Jamie.
"That's not how it works," said the Lorax.
"Well then how does it work!?" asked the Once-ler, frustrated.
Finally, the Once-ler opened the door to let him out.
"Thanks," huffed the Lorax.
Laughter rang even harder.
"You have been warned," said the Lorax ominously.
The screen cut back to the present day Once-ler talking through his window. "But I didn't listen to his warning," he said.
"You think?" said Stoick, raising an eyebrow.
"And you won't believe what happened that night!" finished the Once-ler.
Like a TV show ad thought Sandy.
"Way to build suspense," said Aunt Grizelda.
"What?" asked Ted, invested.
There was a brief pause.
"If you want to hear more, come back tomorrow," said the Once-ler, before beginning to retreat into his house.
"Wait, what?" asked Elsa. All across the auditorium, mouths fell open in shock at the abrupt unexpected stop.
Jack shook his head. "There's no way that's what happened in the book!" he laughed.
"I don't know what I was expecting," said Jane Kangaroo, "but it definitely wasn't that."
"Now that's a cliffhanger," said the Lorax.
"Hey, wait, wait! Tomorrow?" exclaimed Ted.
The Whisper-Ma-Phone started to pull back up. Ted leapt up and grabbed it, getting carried up along with it.
"But why pause there?" asked Horton. "It seems like you've barely gotten started."
"I mean, you can't really tell until you've seen the whole thing, can you?" asked Hiccup.
"Whooooa!" said Ted.
The Whisper-Ma-Phone retracted into the shutters while Ted got flipped up into a bucket hanging near the window.
"Are you serious right now?" asked Ted from the bucket. "Ugh! You live in the middle of nowhere! It stinks out here! Don't make me come back."
"Then I guess you don't really want to hear the rest of the story," said the Once-ler. He sent the bucket down as Ted yelped. The bucket stopped just at the ground, but Ted was stuck. A mechanical hand knocked the back of it, and he fell out onto the ground.
Some of the younger kids laughed at his predicament. Ted's face turned slightly red with embarrassment.
Ted got back up and shouted up to the Once-ler. "No, no, no, no, I do. I really do. I wanna hear the story, I just–"
The Once-ler did an exaggerated gesture with his arms. "Nah! You don't have what it takes. Goodbye!"
"I gotta say, having heard the entire story," said Ted. He paused, smirking. "That probably wasn't the best place to stop," he smirked.
The Once-ler threw his arms up in defeat. "What do you want me to say? I stopped when my voice got tired."
His green arms left the window. Ted realized he'd pushed too much. "Wait, wait, wait! I have what it takes."
The light behind the Once-ler window went dark, signifying the conversation was over.
Ted made a frustrated expression before rolling his eyes. "It's alright. It's okay. I'll come back. It's no problem!"
"I guess it's going to show some more present day?" said Ned. That definitely seemed interesting. Sure the concept of stories within stories was nothing new, but it wasn't common to have it broken up by the storyteller.
"I was thinking it'd only follow Ted at the beginning and the end, like a modern Robert Walton," said Anna.
"I was comparing it more to the Princess Bride, but I guess that works, too," said Jack.
"Um, who's Robert Walton?" asked Ted, confused.
"In Frankenstein, the original book, anyway," explained the Once-ler, "It's framed as a bunch of letters that this ship captain is writing to his sister while on an expedition to the North Pole. They end up rescuing a half-dead Victor Frankenstein. They bring him onboard where he proceeds to tell the entire story of the novel to Captain Walton."
"But within that story," said Elsa, almost smirking. "There's the part where the monster forces Victor to stop and listen to his entire life story. Y'know, inside of Victor Frankenstein recounting his own life story?"
"And inside of that," said Anna, mischievously. "There's a chapter which is basically the backstory of this one family that the monster runs into. All of which Walton is mailing in letters to his sister!"
Ted stared at them. "So, it's a story, within a story, within a story, within a story?" he asked, eyebrows raised. The Once-ler bit his lip before nodding. Ted sighed and shook his head. "Yeah, no. I'll take our movie any day, please."
Ted turned and quickly headed down the path back to his scooter. "See, here I am leaving! Walking away now. I'll see you tomorrow!" he said.
The camera showed Ted through the Once-ler's window. The edge of the Once-ler's shadowy figure appeared in frame.
Apparently the Once-ler had still been watching him, Ted realized. He'd thought he'd left by that point.
The Once-ler watched as Ted he ran down the path. "Hmmmmm," he said to himself. "Maybe...just maybe."
Ted, for his part, let out a small gasp and then began to smile. The Once-ler had been considering him even then?
"Maybe? Maybe what?" asked Horton. The entire theater murmured in curiosity. Shocked, Mrs. Wiggins and Audrey both turned to Norma, silently asking if this had something to do with how Ted had gotten that seed. Norma, herself, probably wouldn't have answered even if she had known any more than they did.
Ted and the Once-ler exchanged a knowing look. "You'll see soon enough," announced the Once-ler.
A/N Sorry it took so long to get this chapter out. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to be able to keep updating monthly like I was doing before, but I'll try to compensate with longer updates.
I am still looking for opinions to the question I asked in the last chapter. So if anyone's interested, feel free to share your thoughts in a review or pm.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter!