I'm writing this Thursday evening as we have to leave for the convention at 7:45 and I probably won't have much time to do anything online in the morning. So . . .
I really don't know what to tell you this time. I got a little bit of writing for "Dr. Morgan" done this week as well as just a little of one of the stories for TCR-4. I haven't "officially" started writing TCR-4, this was just an idea I had and I wanted to get it written.
Now I think I'll head to bed. It'll be a busy day tomorrow. Will any of you lovely readers be at the conference?
And now enjoy this next part of—
The late summer sun was warm, but Preston was grateful for its light. It would make tracking her horse a little easier if she wasn’t in her usual haunts. But if she wasn’t there, where could she be?
The evening stillness was descending on nature as Preston rode up to Dani’s favorite fishing spot. “Dani!” he called.
There was no answer save for the sound of the water tumbling over a small waterfall some fifty feet away.
Swinging down from his horse, Preston dropped the reins and looked about. There was no sign of a light colored horse anywhere. Upon hearing a movement on the other side of a large oak tree near the bank of the stream, Preston frowned and his long strides quickly carried him across the few separating yards; however, the only thing there was a squirrel who, on catching sight of him, scampered up the tree and scolded.
“Dani?” he shouted, and again there was no answer.
“Well, it’s pretty clear she’s isn’t anywhere around here.” With a shake of his head, Preston remounted, turned the horse’s head towards the meadow and nudged him into a canter.
He reached the large pleasant meadow only minutes before Raymond arrived. “No sign of her?” he asked as his younger brother rode up.
Raymond shook his head. “No, she hasn’t been up there since last week.”
“Last week? How do you know?”
“There’s no new notch.”
“Notch? Ray, what are you talking about?”
On seeing that Preston was confused, Raymond quickly explained. “Didn’t you know she puts a new notch on that old dead tree near the promontory every time she goes there? She told me that in the spring when we went up there together. I was up last week and counted the notches as I always do; it’s the same number it was then.”
Preston sighed. “Hopefully Levi will find her. While we wait for him or the signal, let’s ride around the meadow and look for any sign of her coming this way. That way if Levi doesn’t find her . . .”
“I was just thinking the same thing.”
Each taking a different direction, Preston and Raymond started off around the meadow, hoping to find something or hear the signal shots from Levi announcing Danielle had been found. There were no shots and in another five minutes Levi rode into the meadow.
“Any sign of her?” he called to the others.
“No,” Preston shouted back.
“Dani!” Levi bellowed.
A sudden shout from Raymond brought the other brothers to him at a dead run. Raymond was out of the saddle and down on one knee in the shadow of the surrounding woods by a small but distinct trail. “Hoof prints,” he pointed out as Preston and Levi joined him. “Fresh ones too and the right size for Dani’s horse.”
“You really think she’d try exploring these woods alone?” Preston wondered. “Without permission?”
Levi snorted. “We are talking about Dani, the one who doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything, and doesn’t think about things until afterwards, remember?”
“Where does this trail lead?”
“Oh, it winds through the woods and splits off several times. I’ve been out hunting this way before,” Raymond remarked, looking up at his brothers.
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Levi demanded. “Let’s get moving.”
In single file the Perry brother’s headed off into the woods with Raymond in the lead. The shadow of night was already falling under the shelter of the tall trees, even though the sun had not yet set.
“Dani! Dani!” the calls rang out through the woods every few paces, but only the twitter of hidden birds and the soft thud of the horses’ feet answered. The darkness grew deeper and soon the three riders stopped to light lanterns.
“How much longer is this trail, Ray,?” Preston inquired.
Raymond shrugged. “I’ve never reached the end. It splits off soon and then again a little later.”
“Ever reach the end of those trails?” Levi asked.
On they rode, growing more anxious with each passing minute. Were they even on the right track, Preston wondered? Had she been found and was their mother now worried about them?
“Here’s the fist split,” Raymond remarked, pointing to a path that at first seemed to parallel the one they had been on. “It turns off to the west in a little while.”
“I’ll take it,” Preston said quietly, turning his horse. “Two shots if you find her,” he reminded the others who agreed quickly and were soon lost in the darkness, the thick foliage hiding their lanterns.
“Dani!” Preston shouted into the still night air. “Dani!”
“Help!” The answer was faint but seemed to come from the direction Preston was headed.
Urging his horse forward, he called again. The answer that came was much closer and unmistakably Danielle’s voice. Drawing his pistol, Preston fired two quick shots in the air and hurried on.
The trail twisted and turned and Preston wondered if he’d ever reach his sister, but at last the light of his lantern fell on a well known horse.
“Sundance,” he exclaimed softly. Dismounting quickly, he calmly made his way around the horse to find Danielle lying on the ground near a fallen tree.
“Dani!” he exclaimed, dropping onto the trail beside her and setting the lantern down. “Dani, are you all right?”
For answer, the girl opened her eyes, tried to sit up and fell crying into his arms. “I think so,” she whimpered. “I was afraid you’d never find me.” She sniffed. “I thought I’d die out here.”
From her dramatic way of talking, Preston knew she couldn’t be much hurt and he asked, “What happened? Can you get up?”
Dani shook her head, brushing away her tears. “No, my foot is caught in the tree and I can’t budge it an inch.”
Shouts were heard down the trail and Preston called back. In another minute Levi and Raymond had joined them.
“Just where have you been, young lady,” Levi demanded when she smiled up at him.
“Hold it, Levi,” Preston directed firmly. “Let’s get her free from this tree and home before Mother is beside herself with worry. There’ll be time enough for talk after that.”
Will you be back next Friday?