Hey there,
I think I found out a new meaning of the following text: "When he was a child, Horatio was a very curious boy. Sometimes he would walk off into the jungle by himself. His family spent hours trying to find him. He could have been dead for all they knew! But then the young boy returned home, after having killed a leopard. 'You shouldn't go into the jungle alone,' his mother would say."

I wrote "Sometimes he could walk off into the jungle by himself." and you corrected saying: "could: Although it is grammatically correct, 'could' does not make sense in this construction. Using 'could' here refers to Horatio's ability or capacity to 'walk around'" but I thought here "the could" would mean a possibility to do something that Horatio's parents don't like at all or would reluctantly do. That's why "His family spent hours trying to find him."

"He would have been dead for all they knew!" It's because he was so obsessed so much about the wildlife that, of course not literally but he would have died for all that his parents knew very well. "But then the young boy returned home, after having killed a leopard."

'You shouldn't go into the jungle alone,' his mother could say." For we didn't know exactly what happened whether she said or not.

My question is whether this text is correct in my reading or not.

Thank you for your answer

Anosmia