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Friday, February 26, 2016

A Change of Visitors - Part 3

Hello Friday Fiction Fans,
Well, we're back to cold. It's in the 20s right now but is supposed to warm up to the 50s later today and be in the upper 60s tomorrow.

Today is GoofBall's 8th birthday! It's hard to believe it's been that long since he was born! And my brother's birthday is tomorrow. And "Puggle Bug" (that's what my youngest nephew told me he was) is going to be 3 next Saturday! Since my grandparents are coming down today, we are all going out for lunch and then tomorrow we'll have a cookout over at my brother's house and celebrate all three birthdays. I'm sure it'll be a bit crazy, but fun. :)
Tonight my grandparents, sister and I are going to a concert to hear the Chanticleer men's chorus. Grandpa loves listening to them and was delighted and impressed that they were going to be singing here in town!

Not much to update you all on. I still haven't gotten everything corrected in the Graham Quartet, nor made any progress on a cover design. Sorry. Hopefully next week will be better.

I'm glad you came back for the next part of this story. I hope you enjoy this next part as much as you have the first two.

A Change of Visitors
Part 3

    There was a moment of hesitation before the boy backed away from the doorway, pushing the door wide open. Smoke poured from the room, sending both children into a fit of coughing. Scott pulled them from the house. “Stay out here until I see what the problem is.”
    Autumn couldn’t tell if the girl was cold or just frightened as she pressed close to the boy, wrapping her arms about herself. Quickly undoing the pack behind Nutmeg’s saddle, she pulled out the two warm jackets. Approaching the children, she said softly, “Here, why don’t you two put these on while we wait for the smoke to clear.”
    The boy turned to look at her and then took the smaller jacket and put it about the girl’s shoulders. “I’m okay,” he said, but a visible shiver belied his statement, and Autumn put the jacket about his shoulders with a slight smile.
    The silence was awkward. “My name is Mrs. Wood. What are your names?”
    “Dylan Sedano.”
    “I’m Fern and I’m eight. I wish Mom would come back cause I don’t like staying here alone.” There was nothing shy about that little girl.
    “Did your mom tell you where she was going?”
    Dylan shook his head. “Huh uh. She was here one minute and then she was gone. I thought she’d gone to see about getting the car fixed.” His voice dropped and he kicked a small stone. “But now I wonder.”
    The smoke had pretty much cleared from the doorway and Scott stepped out. “The wood was green and damp. That’s why it wasn’t burning and you were getting nothing but smoke. Did you gather that wood today?”
    Dylan nodded. “We used up the other stuff last night.” He paused and then asked, “Are you really in the army?”
    Scott nodded. “Yep. Well, I was. I’m just a reserve now, but–” he shrugged and wiped his hands on his pant legs. For a minute he looked about the yard, glanced back into the house, and then raised an eyebrow at his wife. When she nodded, he said, “Suppose we take you kids with us. We’ll leave a note here for your mom, telling her where you are, and then we can make some phone calls and see if we can locate her. How does that sound?”
    “Can we ride on the horses with you?” Fern asked, looking eager.
    “Sure you can,” Autumn answered quickly. “You can ride Ginger with me.”
    “What about it, Dylan?”
    “Okay.”
    Scott pulled out a small pad of paper and a pen from his pocket. “Let’s get your backpacks, and I’ll write the note. We’ll make sure the fire is out and then we’ll be on our way.”

    By the time the horses had stopped before the Wood’s home, Fern had fallen asleep and Autumn could tell that Dylan was having a difficult time staying awake. Her sympathetic expression was met with a nod of understanding before Scott dismounted, assisted Dylan to dismount and then came over and reached for the sleeping girl.
    “Where should I put her?” he asked in low tones.
    “On the couch in the den. Do you want me to start calling or work on supper?” Autumn had slipped from her own horse as she spoke, run up the stairs and quickly unlocked the side door.
    “Supper. I’ll lay her down, put the horses up and then be in to call.”
    Autumn nodded and beckoned to Dylan.

    Sitting at the table, Dylan looked about. The dining room was cozy and warm. The food was really good, and he was glad he and Fern weren’t still alone in the old house. If only their mom would show up. Mr. Wood had made several phone calls after he had come in, but nothing had been learned. Silently he looked across the table to where his sister sat. After her short nap she had awakened eager to do something and was now chattering away around mouthfuls of food. At least she wasn’t talking about their previous life.
    “I’ve always wanted to ride a horse. Can little girls ride your horses or only big people? Did Ginger ever have a baby? Why do you have such a big house when there are only two of you? Do you like dogs? I do, but only if they aren’t mean. Do you think Mom will come tonight? What if she goes to that cabin place? Oh, I forgot, there’s a note for her. But if she doesn’t have a flashlight she won’t see it until morning and she might go looking for us.” The chatterbox paused and took a long drink of water, giving Scott a chance to say something.
    “The police said they’d have someone out there if case she did come back.”
    “Mom won’t like that. She doesn’t like the police.”
    “Fern!” Dylan hissed.
    “Well, she doesn’t. She said so.”
    “Only those other police.” Dylan cast swift glances at the faces of the two adults at the table, but neither one seemed to notice the half whispered conversation.
    Just then the phone rang. Scott excused himself and went into the den to answer it.
    Dylan looked after him. Was that call about their mom? He wished he knew.
    “Mrs. Wood,” Fern said, her young voice suddenly concerned, “sometimes Mommy doesn’t hear us talk to her even when we’re right beside her. And sometimes she starts crying over really strange things like one time–ouch! Don’t kick me, Dylan, or I might get mad.”
    Dylan glared at his sister. Why wouldn’t she learn to shut up? “Fern! Tell her about the owl.” He had to change the subject.
    “What owl?” Autumn, as much as she wanted to know what the little girl had to say, was hesitant about encouraging her in talk that her brother seemed to think wasn’t right.
    Instead of answering, Fern turned and glared at her brother in reply. “I don’t like owls and I’m not going to talk about any.” Her words were short. “I’m going to tell her anything I want.” She didn’t add, “And you can’t stop me,” but her face said it.
    Autumn knew it was time to change the subject. “Who wants cookies?”
    The change in Fern’s attitude was instant. Her face brightened and an eager light came into her eyes. “I do!”
    “All right. Suppose you both carry your dishes into the kitchen for me and then you can each pick two cookies from the cookie jars.”
    “You have cookie jars?”
    Amused at the little girl’s awestruck tones, Autumn chuckled. “I sure do.”

What do you think has happened to their mom?
Will Fern tell what she shouldn't?
And why would the kids' mom not like the police?

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Change of Visitors - Part 2

Happy Spring, FFFs!
Okay, so it's not "officially" spring yet, but when we have the windows open and it's warmer outside then inside, it sure enough feels like spring. Yesterday it actually got up to 77º! And it's not even March! I guess we'll see if we get any good snowfall this "winter." :)

I finally reached the end of this new Graham Quartet mystery. The last parts haven't gotten to my editor yet, and there are a few places in the rest of the book that I need to go and change a few things. Nothing major though. Sorry, I don't have any synopsis  for you and certainly no cover. I guess you'll have to wait a little longer.

I really need to get a few more short or longer short stories written or I won't have anything to post on here. As of now, unless I re-post some old stories, I don't have anything to post after this story is finished.

Now, I'd better let you all get to reading. I hope you enjoy this next part.

A Change of Visitors
Part 2

    The young girl offered no further objections, but, keeping close beside her brother, moved forward.
    The barn was empty except for one sleepy owl on the rafters above them. There was no hay in the loft, just dried leaves from previous autumns. An old halter still hung, half rotted, on a rusty nail. Boards creaked and dried leaves rustled in the draft created by the open door, but no mom was to be found.
    “Let’s go back, Dylan,” Fern whispered, shrinking back as the owl tipped its head and opened one eye.
    “All right.”
    The afternoon was slipping rapidly into evening, the wind had picked up and there was a cold nip in it as the children hurried across the yard and into the cabin. The fire was still burning, and the room was warmer than outside. In silence Dylan and Fern sat down on the dusty floor near the bright blaze and stared into the flames for several minutes.
    Then Dylan got up, grabbed their backpacks and brought them over. “Here, Fern, let’s put on our sweatshirts. We’ll be warmer.”
    “Can we eat?”
    Dylan had no way to tell what time it was, so he shrugged. “I guess, but I don’t think it’s supper time yet.” He wondered how long they would be left alone at the cabin. Where had their mother gone and what sort of animals roamed the woods in this part of the country? There was plenty of wood for the fire. At least he thought there was, and he hoped he’d be able to keep it going all night because he didn’t have any matches.

*

    “Autumn, you ready to go?” Scott called into the house.
    “Yep!” A bright voice answered, and a moment later Autumn appeared, dressed warmly for their ride. “Now I’ll feel like I married an army guy,” she said, noticing he was wearing his army sweatshirt.
    “As if you didn’t already know it,” Scott retorted. “Come on, I think that wind may shift before the day is done and then it’s going to get cold.”
    Autumn looked concerned. “Should we bring extra jackets or something, in case it does?”
    “Already got ‘em.” Scott glanced over his shoulder at the bundle tied on behind his saddle. “Ready?”
    The day was lovely. The sky held scattered clouds which alternately hid the sun and then let it shine forth. Both horses were eager and nodded their heads, trying to persuade their riders to let them pick up the pace.
    “Should we let them out?”
    Autumn nodded. “They might settle down if they get a good canter first.”
    After a short but brisk ride, they pulled their mounts to a walk.
    “I’m sorry your brother and his family couldn’t come next week. We had so much planned to do with them.”
    Scott nodded. “Yeah. It would have been fun to have them, but maybe they can come another time. Once of these days we’ll get them to come visit.” He smiled at his wife.
    Autumn gave a little pout, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “But I didn’t want to wait to have visitors! I’ve been looking forward to having someone to cook for and to keep me company when you are off to work.”
    Reaching over, Scott put his hand on his wife’s arm. “You can still cook for me,” he promised with a wink. Then, growing serious he added, “Richard and Kathy were as disappointed as we are. Maybe if the kids get over the measles they can come before the end of the year.”
    At that Autumn brightened up. “I’ll be praying they do.”

    It was nearly forty minutes later when Scott and Autumn neared the old house. The wind had picked up just a little, but as both riders were warmly dressed, neither wanted a jacket. “Autumn, do you smell smoke?”
    With a puzzled frown, Autumn sniffed the air. She thought she smelled something. “I think so. But where would it be coming from?”
    “I don’t know. I hope no one is dumb enough to try starting a campfire with the wind picking up.”
    Still sniffing, Autumn said, “Maybe someone is at the house.”
    “Maybe.”
    Autumn saw her husband’s face settle into a serious expression. Surely they were just imagining things. But the closer they got to the cabin, the stronger the smell seemed. “Look, there’s smoke coming from the chimney.” She pointed to the cabin on the edge of the clearing. “Should we ride up and see what’s going on?”
    “Yep.” Scott’s right hand slid to his side where he always carried his handgun when out in the woods.
    Silently the couple turned off the road and onto the overgrown lane. There was no car and no sign of horses. It seemed too far for a tramp to have come just to find shelter. Suppose it was a fugitive?
    “Hello in the house!” Scott’s voice rang out and seemed to fill the clearing.
    There was no reply from the cabin.
    “Whoever is in the house had better come out right now.” There was no doubting the command in his voice, and Autumn felt a tingle of pride to think that Scott Wood was her husband.
    The front door cracked open and a young boy stepped into the doorway, his eyes wide and frightened.
    Still keeping one hand on his holstered gun, Scott asked, “Where are you parents, son?”
    The boy’s eyes were darting back and forth between the two riders. “We don’t know where Mom is.” At his words, a small girl crowded up close to the boy’s side.
    “Who else is with you?”
    “Just Fern and me, sir.”
    There was a noticeable change in Scott’s tones as he moved his hand from his gun, dismounted and asked, “Where’s your dad?”
    The boy shrugged.
    Autumn slipped from her horse. “How long have you been here?”
    “Two days. But we didn’t mean to trespass. Mom brought us here and said we could stay til we got the car fixed.”
    “Then she disappeared,” the girl added. “And she didn’t come back.”
    After tying their horses to an old fence post, Scott and Autumn approached the house. Both children had remained where they were, planted in the doorway, eyes filled with mistrust, hope, fright, and some things Autumn couldn’t read.
    “You have a fire going inside?” The question sounded casual, but Autumn noticed Scott had been glancing at the chimney where smoke continued to curl upwards in increasingly dark drafts.
    “Sort of. It won’t burn right anymore,” the boy replied, looking back over his shoulder. The girl coughed.
    “Perhaps I can help; mind if we come in?”

Are the children telling the truth?
Why wouldn't their fire burn right?
Will you be reading next week?

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Change of Visitors - Part 1



Hello Friday Fiction Fans,
I hope you all had a good week. Mine has been good. Most of it was usual. I spent quite a bit of time creating felt flowers and turning them into corsages for a widows' luncheon that takes place tomorrow. My sister and I are a part of a widows' ministry at church and it's time for the special luncheon.

You wanted to know about my writing? As in how is "The Graham Quartet and the Day Maid" coming along? Well, I've already written over 6,000 words this week. But . . . I'm stuck. On the ending. I'm so close to finishing this story, but I can't seem to end it. This has been one of the hardest books I've ever written. At one point this week I spent over 30 minutes just trying to figure a few things out so I could write the next part of the story. There were so many possibilities but I knew only one would work. But which one? So, right now I'm praying for inspiration so I can finish this story.


Last night I was thinking about today and what was going on. We babysit my nieces and nephews over lunch time and then this evening S and I go help decorate for tomorrow's luncheon. Suddenly it dawned on me. Tomorrow. Friday. I have to post! What am I posting? Then, just before I panicked, I realized that I already had a story ready to go. I hope you enjoy this one. It was written in the fall, but I didn't have time to post it then. If you want to see the picture that inspired the start of it, here it is.

Autumn Fall Trail Ride. Beautiful day for horse back riding.:

A Change of Visitors
Part 1


    The sun filtering down through the leaves of the tall trees seemed to make their autumn garb of red, gold and brown to glow. There was a crisp chill to the air, and when the wind whispered through the treetops, it often sent a few scarlet leaves fluttering down to decorate the drab grasses of the trail. Everything was hushed save for the steady plodding of the horses’ hooves, the muted creak of saddles and the crunch of leaves.
    Autumn glanced over at her husband and smiled. He held out a hand and quickly she put hers into it. “I love this time of year,” she remarked quietly. “But I didn’t know my name would fit so well.” Her laugh was bright and seemed to sparkle with life.
    “Sorry you married me?” Scott teased.
    With a toss of her chestnut curls, Autumn grinned. “Nope. I’d have married you even if your last name was something strange like Pain or Ditty. I rather like the name Autumn Wood. It sounds . . .”
    “Poetic?” Scott ventured to guess when she didn’t continue.
    “Something like that.” She smiled again and then clicked to her horse and gave her a nudge with her knees. “No, Ginger, we’re not taking a detour through the woods today.”
    “Talking to your horse.” Scott’s face was perfectly serious, but his twinkling eyes gave him away.
    Autumn laughed. “Of course. I always talk to my horse. Don’t you talk to yours?”
    “Huh uh. It’s not a ‘guy thing,’ you know.”
    “Oh.” Autumn’s head was turned away a minute before she said softly, “I’m so glad I married you.” Her eyes were half shy as she looked over at her husband.
    Leaning over, Scott was preparing to kiss her, but Autumn slyly nudged his horse away causing him to exclaim, “Nutmeg, what’s gotten into you?”
    The merry peal of laughter which met his words brought a rueful grin to Scott’s face. “Okay, okay,” he admitted. “So I talk to my horse too. Just don’t tell my brother when he comes.”
    A shower of leaves fell about the young couple as they paused a few moments to enjoy each other. At last Autumn straightened up in the saddle and said, “If we don’t keep going, we’ll be out after dark.”
    “Scared of the bears?”
    “No, I’m just hungry. Can we ride tomorrow?”
    Scott shrugged. “I don’t know about tomorrow, but probably the next day. Have some place in mind?”
    “I wanted to ride down the road past the old house. Wouldn’t it be fun to buy that place and put in electricity and running water? I mean real running water, not just a pump in the kitchen.”
    “That would be fun, but I don’t know who owns it.”
    Still talking, they continued on their ride, their hands clasped as they rode side by side though the dappled sunlight filtering through the arched roof of russet and gold.

*

    “Mom!” The shout came from a rustic log cabin set back on the edge of a clearing. “Mom!”
    There was no answer. Quickly the door of the cabin was flung open and a ten-year-old boy looked outside, gazing all around. “Mom?” He pushed the door open all the way and stepped out.
    Only stillness greeted him, the crunch of leaves beneath his feet and the rustle of leaves as a brisk breeze danced through the trees, but no answer. There was no red sweater to be seen anywhere. Where was she?
    “Dylan, where’s Mom?”
    The boy glanced back toward the cabin. “I don’t know, Fern. Maybe she went to get more firewood or to see if she could get the car to start.”
    “But the car’s hours and hours away,” Fern protested, her large, dark eyes growing worried. “I don’t want to be here alone.”
    “I’m not going anywhere,” Dylan reassured, casting one more quick glance about the clearing before returning to the door where his younger sister stood. No one would have guessed they were brother and sister, for Dylan’s hair and eyes were light brown while eight-year-old Fern had black hair over dark, expressive eyes. Now those eyes showed the fright she felt.
    “What are we going to do?”
    “Go back inside and wait, I guess.” Dylan shrugged and gave Fern a nudge so he could step through the door. “At least we have a fire going.”
    Fern didn’t reply but shadowed Dylan’s every move as he crossed the room and picked up his backpack. After rummaging through it, he remarked, “I’ve got some granola bars still and my extra water bottle. What do you have?”
    “I don’t know.”
    Seeing that his sister wasn’t going to go look in her pink backpack, Dylan moved around the table. Another quick look showed about the same thing he had. “Come on, let’s go look around the cabin.”
    “I already did.”
    “Well, I haven’t.” Dylan knew it wouldn’t take long to see the entire building, but it would at least give them something to do. The rooms downstairs were small and had no furniture save one dusty rocking chair near the fireplace and the old table where their backpacks sat. A narrow set of steps let to the tiny upper rooms. Everything was dusty and dirty. Cobwebs and dead bugs littered the window sills and corners. Turning from the last room, Dylan nearly tripped over his sister. “Fern,” he muttered, “you don’t have to stick to me like glue.”
    Fern didn’t say anything but glared at her brother.
    “Sorry. Come on, let’s go look at the barn.” Dylan held out his hand as a peace offering. He knew if Fern got mad at him, there was no telling what she’d do. She might even try running off. She’d done that before back home.
    The barn, flecks of red paint curling on the sides, stood fairly close to the house. All was quiet as the children approached it. To Dylan, the silent structure before them was both exciting and frightening. What was inside? Had their mom gone in there and was she hurt? The thought brought a cold shiver racing up his spine.
    Fern pulled on his hand. “I don’t want to go in there,” she whispered.
    Dylan wasn’t sure he did either, but the thought of their mother needing them overcame his fear. “Maybe Mom is in there.”
    “Then why didn’t she answer when you called?”
    “You know she sometimes doesn’t hear us.” He didn’t want to voice the thought that she might be hurt. “Let’s go look. You can even hold my hand, and see,” he pulled something from his pocket, “I even have my flashlight.”

Would you want to explore a strange barn?
Do you think anything/anyone is in there?
Will you be back next week for Part 2?

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Graham Quartet - Part 6

Good morning Friday Fiction Fans,
The sky has faded now, but a few minutes ago the eastern sky was glowing pink. I love seeing the sunrise in the mornings. Well, we're back to winter here. At least somewhat. It was 16º yesterday morning, but it warmed up to 50º by the afternoon.

It's been a good week. I've gotten a good bit of writing done and have plans to write again tonight at least. I had no idea how many plot twists I could put in my story when I have one story day to end it. It's getting complicated. There are all kinds of things happening with flowers and yellow doors and boats. It will be interesting to see how it all comes together.

On Tuesday, S and I went over and babysat all the kiddos. It was crazy! I think the volume buttons for the kids' voices were broken because they kept getting louder and louder! Well, we did have some pretty intense times with a cave in of "Old Joe's" gold mine. At least the "doctor" had come up to visit. The hunting party that went out brought back dozens of bear, deer, mountain lions, rabbits, turkeys and other wild game. It was quite the evening. :)


Well, if I can get my other story corrected this week, you might get a new story starting next week. I don't want to make you tired of the Graham Quartet, you know. ;) But read this part and then tell me any thoughts, ideas or questions you might have. Who knows, it might inspire another plot twist. :)

The Graham Quartet
Part 6

    Half a dozen boats were tied up and Matt quickly scanned them all. “There,” he pointed, his voice low. “That looks like the one I saw.”
    The boat, built slightly differently than the others in the harbor, was dark. The name Day Maid was painted in swirly yellow letters on her bow. No one was to be seen on her decks.
    “Lieutenant,” Matt asked, stepping up beside the officer. “That boat down there, the Day Maid, looks like the boat I saw on the lake, doesn’t she?”
    Giving a slight start as though his thoughts had been far away, the lieutenant cleared his throat. “Well, she does rather look like it. Of course it was hard to read the name when she was so far away. I don’t see anyone on board. Perhaps the owner is in the hotel. Why don’t I step in and see if he’s available to talk to.” He glanced around the dock and then said, “Wait here. I’ll try to hurry.”
    Left alone, the Quartet looked about them. The dock, mostly deserted save for themselves, was quiet. A few men were seen on one of the boats but they weren’t talking much, and the nearby streets were empty. The sun was low in the west and the sky was a brilliant mix of gold, pink, blue and purple. Blowing in off the lake, the breeze was refreshing and tossed the girls’ brown hair and ruffled through the boys’ shorter cuts.
    “I guess everyone is still at home eating supper,” Elsa remarked. “Or relaxing after a day’s work.”
    In the stillness, the sound of the lieutenant’s voice came through the open window of the hotel. “You’re sure the owner didn’t register here?” A low murmur sounded followed by the Lieutenant’s crisp reply. “No, It just looked like an interesting craft, and I thought maybe the owner could tell me a bit about her. No matter. Thanks for your help.”
    Matt exchanged glances with Elsa. There seemed a different tone in the lieutenant’s voice. “Almost as though he were putting on an act.”
    “What was that?” Tim whirled around, his eyes fixed on his brother. “What did you just say?”
    “I’ll tell you later,” Matt murmured, nodding his head slightly toward the hotel where Lieutenant Ashwood was leaving the building.
    The Quartet was silent as the officer approached. “Sorry, guys,” he said. “No one checked into the hotel from that boat. Maybe he lives around here.”
    “Could he be staying in another hotel?” Selena asked.
    “Maybe. But I don’t see any others around here . . .” His voice trailed off, and a half puzzled, half-thoughtful look came into his eyes as his gaze slowly roved from one building to the next.
    Tim opened his lips to ask a question, but Matt’s elbow nudged him to silence. Quietly the Quartet waited, each pair of brown eyes searching the growing darkness for something, anything, that might shed a glimmer of light on this growing mystery. That there was a mystery, that somehow involved the Day Maid, her owner, and Lieutenant Ashwood, the Graham Quartet was certain. Why else would the sight of the boat cause such strange behavior from the Navy officer?
    The breeze, blowing off the lake was growing cool, and Selena shivered.
    “Cold?” Matt whispered.
    “Just a little chilly,” replied Selena, folding her arms.
    As though suddenly recalled to his duties, the lieutenant turned. “I’m sorry. I was lost in my own thoughts. That breeze is quite fresh and the sun is going down. We’d best be heading back to the house before your parents think I’ve drafted you all into the navy.” He chuckled, but, to Matt’s ears, it sounded almost forced.

    Together in their room, Matt and Tim prepared for bed. Eagerly Tim began talking about the strangeness of their new friend’s actions in town. “What do you think, Matt?” he queried at last, sitting in bed, his eyes aglow with excitement.
    “I think,” Matt began, turning out the light and stretching out on his own comfortable bed, “that we should wait until morning to talk about it.”
    “But–”
    “Because,” the older brother went on ignoring Tim’s interruption, “the girls should be with us, and things might seem different in the sunlight.”
    A deep sigh came from Tim’s bed. “Oh, all right.” The bed squeaked softly as Tim lay down and relaxed. “But I do wish tomorrow would hurry up!”
    Matt couldn’t refrain a grin in the dark.


    The Graham Quartet met at the breakfast table. Eager glances were exchanged along with smiles and nods. The absence of the lieutenant at the table put each sibling on the alert until Aunt Doris remarked that often the lieutenant went for an early morning walk or slept late. “He’s not at the breakfast table many mornings,” she said, holding out a platter of sausages to Tim. “But he’s never missed a dinner and only missed lunch one time, though he has been a bit late at times.” Her merry laugh brought smiles all around the table. “When he gets to exploring the countryside, he’s apt to lose track of time.”
    “What are you going to do today, Dad?” Matt asked, looking across the table.
    “Well, your uncle and I were planning on doing some fishing. Any of you want to come along?”
    Had it been any other time, Tim would have jumped at the chance, but not this morning. What he wanted was an opportunity to talk over their new mystery. “No, thanks, Dad,” he spoke quickly, not giving any of his siblings a chance to speak. “We’re going to do some exploring. I couldn’t sit still long enough to fish today anyway.”   
    A hearty chuckle came from Uncle James. “Then we certainly don’t want you along, Tim. We’re hoping to catch enough for supper.” He chuckled again. Since Uncle James and Aunt Doris had no children of their own, they often found their nieces and nephews amusing.
    Mr. Graham looked at the rest of his children.

Do you think the lieutenant was putting on an act?
Is there something going on with the Day Maid?
What would you do if you were there?