A week passes before they stumble upon the Truffula Valley. (Well, a week is a bit of an under-exaggeration. It was much more than that. But a week passes between their last location and Truffula Valley, so it isn't too far off.)
And the Once-ler--
Well, our Once-ler laughs and laughs and laughs, not believing that it was real. (Not very many things in his life are real, if you recall; many years of his life were put to pretending.) An entire valley of truffula trees!
This is it! he tells Melvin, oblivious to the animals gathering at his feet, This is the place! (He forgets about wanting his family's approval, if only for that moment.) So, at random, he finds a tree - though "at random" holds very little meaning when there is an entire valley of trees to choose from - and takes it down without a thought.
He pays little attention to the horror of the forest animals at his feet. They aren't his problem, after all; he's sure they can survive without one tree.
He doesn't notice the clouds that gather or the lightning that flashes, or the orange peanut looking creature that pops out of the tree stump, or the way they mourn the fallen tree.
But he does very much notice when the truffula tuft he grabs is attached to another hand, the owner of said hand demanding to know who, exactly, chopped down this tree.
I think he did it, the Once-ler tells him, pointing an accusing finger at some baby Barb-a-loot, only partly joking. He wants to know who this peanut thinks he is, marching up to him all willy-nilly.
I am the Lorax! the peanut proclaims, though the Once-ler hadn't yet asked, I speak for the trees.
It sounded crazy, and the Once-ler tells the thing so, and pretends the Lorax is there for a marshmallow instead of trying to lecture him about trees. The Lorax huffs and takes the marshmallow, though claiming he is highly offended by it, and tells the Once-ler, who is nothing more than a child to him, to be gone by sunset.
The Once-ler is not gone by sunset.
The first thneed he makes himself, though the task itself is rather tedious. (Nothing unmanly about knitting, no sir!)
Of course, it just happens to be the night the Lorax and the forest animals put he, his bed, and Pipsqueak in the river. And of course, he doesn't wake up until the bed flips and he is drenched in freezing water.
The Once-ler thinks that he has never been more terrified in his life. (Though, he is worried about Pipsqueak. Not that he'd admit it, if you were to point it out.)
The Lorax makes him promise not to cut down any more trees. He isn't quite sure if he'll be able to keep that promise when the thneed takes off, but he'll try.
If only he could find his bed.
He heads out into the town near the valley the next day, intent on selling his thneed. (He had awoken to his house of sorts filled with forest animals and one Lorax. He wonders if it was such a good idea to leave the place in the hands of a peanut.)
The jingle doesn't quite work the way he thought it would. People started throwing tomatoes, at one point. And it goes on and on and on until he just...gives up. Discouraged. Desolate. Miserable. The peanut calls him a dictionary and an idiot for listening to the townspeople in the first place. But, well, if he managed to dodge the tomatoes and keep them from getting too smashed - hey, free tomatoes! It had to be better than those infernal pancakes, the Lorax tells him, all unhelpfully. And the marshmallows.
You ate one, the Once-ler points out.
One is the key word, kiddo.
The Once-ler thinks that living out here might not be too bad, if only he'd at least gotten one person to buy his thneed. Or have second thoughts about throwing tomatoes at him. (Someone was making money off of people by selling them tomatoes to throw at him! Can you even believe it?!)
Well. At least he wouldn't have any reason to cut down any more truffula trees. His father's bass guitar sits crudely fixed at his feet - he doesn't know whether it'll work anymore.
The past week had not been a good week. What was he thinking? The thneed was a dumb idea, anyways. It was lame, to use the town's vernacular. Who was the idiot who came up with that name? ...Right. It was him.
He was beginning to think that his family was right.
He goes into town the next day - without his thneed, and without his jingle. The townspeople look almost ecstatic when they see the thneed's absence. Finally, he'd stopped advertising such a stupid thing!
He thinks he remembers seeing a music store, one of the days that he was promoting the thneed. His father's guitar needed new strings, and it needed to be tuned, and the neck was woefully broken. (That little girl was vicious. She didn't need to go that far to make a point. Didn't she have parents who taught her not to destroy other people's things?)
And if there wasn't a music store-- well, he'd just have to improvise. The town was nice enough, anyhow, though he preferred the valley. At least the forest animals didn't hate him or his thneed.
Speaking of which, where was the thneed he'd previously brought to town? He had tossed it aside in a fit of self-pity, and he hadn't seen where it'd fallen.
Hm. The townspeople had probably desecrated it by now, if they hadn't completely destroyed it. The Once-ler supposed it didn't matter much what they had done with it; it wouldn't be much use if it was ruined beyond repair.
Unless...unless someone had liked it.
But that was wishful thinking.
There hadn't been a music store, but fortunately he'd had guitar strings anyway - now to figure out who it was that was tumbling down one of the many hills in the valley and making a ruckus.
It was a person from town, to his surprise; not only was it a person from town, it was a person from town with his thneed!
You left this behind! they say, looking at it curiously all the while.
Our Once-ler stutters and stumbles in surprise, tripping over his own legs. (The struggle of being woefully tall and towering over most everyone.) It's not--it isn't destroyed, he says not so smartly, then: I was trying to sell it but no one liked it so I stopped trying and--
The person laughs and he isn't sure if they're laughing at him or not, though he's betting on the first. (The Once-ler is someone foreign to kindness and being cared for, and it is what's keeping him in the valley. The animals like him well enough. The townspeople do not. It is an obvious fact to anyone that he preferred the willing trust and kindness of the valley's animals to the lack of human decency shown to him by his family and the townspeople.)
It's nice, the person says, meaning it, meaning it, and the Once-ler can't believe it, for all the days he spent thinking not a single soul liked his thneed.
He was beginning to think that his family was wrong.