The Graham Quartet

Here is all the parts of this story that I've published so far, with no breaks. Enjoy!

The Graham Quartet and the Mysterious Strangers
Rebekah Morris

    Snow lay everywhere. Every branch of every tree was laden with the white stuff just waiting to drop down on some unsuspecting head. However, not a person was to be seen. Nothing but snow was visible all around the cabin. Nothing moved. Nothing could be heard. Not even a bird sang or a squirrel chattered. Though not a breath of breeze blew, the air was bitterly cold, the type of cold that penetrates through coats and scarves to the very bone. All the shining of the mid day sun in the clear blue sky couldn’t add warmth to the day, but rather only enhanced the freezing air. There was no sign of life in the cabin. No light, no sound, no smoke. All was still. Still and intensely cold.
    This sense of quietness was broken at last by the faint far-off creaking of snowshoes. Closer and closer they came. In the quiet the sound seemed louder, more obtrusive. Drawing nearer and yet nearer the cabin, the steps continued. Now two distinct sets of snowshoes were heard. Behind a clump of pine trees the intruders halted. Silence once again prevailed.
    After several minutes of watching and listening to nothing but the stillness around them and feeling the bitter cold penetrating their layers of clothing, one of them, the oldest, spoke in tones scarcely audible.
    “I don’t see anything. Perhaps we should move up.”
    “Not until we know Elsa and Tim are in place.”
    “They could be there waiting for us.”
    The smaller form shook her head. “They’d have given the signal.”
    “I suppose you’re right, as usual.” Seventeen-year-old Matt’s eyes smiled down at his younger sister.
    For several more minutes they waited, hearing nothing but quiet. Suddenly the stillness was shattered rudely by the sharp crack of a twig breaking. Then another. Matt and Selena looked at each other questioningly. Was this the first part of the signal? As if in answer two more snaps were heard almost immediately. That was it! The signal they had waited for. Now it was time to advance.
    Slowly, with great caution, the two slipped from their hiding place. Matt was in front while Selena followed closely. They approached the cabin from the front. All was hushed save for the squeaking of their snowshoes. Selena, pausing for just a moment and listening hard, thought she heard a similar creak coming from behind the house.
    Then without warning, another crack of a twig breaking startled them both. They froze in their tracks hardly daring to breathe. What was that? Another crack followed by two more was heard. How could that be? The signal had already been given. Was this a trap? Had they just imagined the first signal?
    Slowly Matt turned his head to look at his sister. Her eyes were wide and questioning. What should they do? There was no place to hide; they were half way to the cabin. Should they risk going on or should they wait? Matt made gestures, asking Selena what she thought. He didn’t dare speak even in a whisper now. He thought they could go on, but knowing Selena was not reckless, he wanted to know what she thought. To his surprise, Selena motioned forward and nodded. It was too risky to wait out in the open. Better to be right next to the cabin.
    With twice as much caution the two continued their way, eyes and ears tuned to anything that might mean danger. Each creak of their snowshoes was as a shout to their taut nerves. They hardly dared breathe. When a small shower of snow fell with a soft plop without warning in front of Selena, she started and just barely managed to choke back a scream. As it was, her sharp intake of breath alerted Matt, and he turned quickly. For an instant they stared at each other then slowly lifted their eyes to the branches above them. There was nothing there. All it had been was a branch shaking off its blanket of snow.
    Selena shivered and once again they set off stealthily. When they reached the cabin, they paused. Matt carefully, cautiously pressed his ear to the door and listened. Nothing. Not a sound could be heard behind that wooden partition which separated inside from out. Leaning close to Selena he breathed,
    “Should we go in?” Matt was not at all fearful, yet he had learned that though his sister was only fourteen, she often had more caution and wisdom in tight or dangerous situations than he.
    He was not surprised therefore when she shook her head and replied equally low,
    “Not yet.”

    Meanwhile on the hill behind the lonely cabin, nineteen-year-old Elsa was holding a conference with her youngest brother. “I don’t see any smoke, Tim. Do you?”
    Tim had been gazing down at the cabin. “Could be it is only a small fire. You know,” he added, “wouldn’t want to give it all away.”
    Elsa nodded. The boy’s keen brain and quick thinking were constantly amazing her. Now, with great care they began their descent. By keeping close to the trees and using them as walking sticks they managed to make the descent without any mishaps other than breaking some twigs now and then.
    At last the level ground was reached. Both paused a moment and listened. There was nothing to listen to. All was still. Before them lay several yards of open ground where the sun shone in dazzling splendor on the carpet of snow. Elsa shaded her eyes with her heavily gloved hand and peered in the direction of the cabin. Not a sign of smoke could be seen from the chimney.
    Tim turned to her with a frown between his eyes. He gestured towards the cabin and shrugged. Elsa also shrugged. Should they go on? The cabin looked uninhabited, but suppose it wasn’t? Suppose someone really was there, maybe hurt or sick? With a slight nod she started forward only to pause suddenly and look back up the hill. Was anyone watching them? They would be easy to see in the open. Satisfied that all was clear she once more set off. Their snowshoes made easy going over the drifts of snow. When at last they reached the shelter of trees once again, they gave an inward sigh of relief.
    Elsa motioned for Tim to give the signal. Feeling around in his pocket, Tim frowned, pulled off his glove and felt again. At last he turned to Elsa. The look on his face and shrug of his shoulders told her that what he was to use as a signal had been lost. What should they do? Should they go on? She hesitated. They were so close, and yet, if Matt and Selena weren’t ready . . . She shivered, and Tim put a hand on her sleeve.
    “We’ll freeze if we just stay here. I think we should go,” he whispered so low that had his mouth not been next to her ear she would not have heard the words.
    Feeling the cold penetrating her coat she realized the wisdom of this, and together they started forward. Reaching the cabin from the rear, they halted, listening. Tim thought he heard a sound, faint but there. With gestures it was decided that they would each go a different way around the building, looking for signs of life and of Matt and Selena.

    Crouching under the window against the wall, Matt and Selena waited. Each minute added to the growing numbness each was beginning to feel. They had heard no sound from inside. It seemed as though it had been hours since they had first heard the signal. How long did it take to get to the cabin? Suddenly Selena stiffened and grasped her brother’s arm. Had she really heard something? Footsteps perhaps. Was it from outside or in the cabin? Her breath began coming quicker, and she felt she would scream. She almost did when suddenly around the corner beside her Elsa appeared. Then around the other side came Tim. At last they were all together.
    “Hear anything?” whispered Elsa.
    Matt shook his head.
    “There was no smoke and no light,” put in Tim. “What should we do?”
    “Did you see any other signs?” Matt questioned.
    Elsa and Tim shook their heads.
    “Then let’s give the signal knock.”
    Holding their breaths, the Graham siblings waited Matt gave five quick raps on the door followed by two slower ones. They waited. Silence. Not a single solitary sound was to be heard. Selena shivered. She was cold. Matt knocked again, but still no answer.
    “Perhaps he didn’t come,” Tim murmured.
    “I think he would have let us know if he hadn’t,” Elsa answered.
    After a moment of silence, Matt said softly, “I think we should just go in.”
    Gasps came from the girls at the mere thought. But though they gasped, neither of them protested as Matt grasped the doorknob and turned it. It was locked.
    “Search for a key somewhere,” he whispered.
    They all looked. Even Selena who felt as though she was about frozen. It was no use. If a key was hidden somewhere abouts, they couldn’t find it.
    “You know what that means,” queried Tim, wild excitement in his eyes. “It means,” he continued as the others looked at him, “that he is inside but is in dire need of help. He must be hurt and can’t get to the door.”
    “Or it could mean he has gone and taken the key with him,” Matt observed.
    “Or maybe he never came in the first place,” Elsa put in.
    Selena didn’t speak. She was trembling from cold and excitement.
    Matt glanced at her. “Well, we just have to get in, with or without a key.”
    He nodded toward Selena.
    Elsa put an arm about her younger sister. “Get in then,” was all she said, for at that instant she began to realize that she too was freezing cold as the excitement began to wane.
    Matt and Tim began trying the windows. The ones on the front were locked or jammed, either way they didn’t open. On the side Matt at last found one that seemed loose. He pried and pushed it until at last he was able to raise it about twelve inches and there it stuck fast. Cautiously he moved the curtain and looked in. The room was empty. No one was there. It looked completely deserted.
    “Tim,” Matt called quietly, “Do you think you can get in that window?”
    “Sure thing.” Tim was game to try anything.
    “Just remember,” Matt added, “you have more layers on than usual.”
    For answer Tim pulled off his heavy coat, scarf and hat and shoved them inside the window first. Then with a boost from his brother he managed to squeeze through. It was with relief that the girls, waiting in the front, heard the door unlock and then saw it open.

    A blazing fire had driven out the last finger of cold from the room leaving it cozy and warm. The four siblings sat about the table discussing the note Matt held in his hand.
    “Read it again,” Elsa requested.
    Matt read:
        “Graham Quartet,
    Sorry I couldn’t wait for you as planned. I just discovered I had to catch the next train. If I leave now I should make it. You probably won’t see my tracks as it is snowing. If you read this note that means you found the window I left unlatched. Thanks for all your help and hope to see you again. Take care and be careful.
    Your friend,
        Guy Fox”

    “Well, that’s that,” Tim said.
    “I just hope he’s safe,” murmured Selena almost to herself.
    Matt and Elsa exchanged startled glances. “What do you mean?”
    “I don’t know, but I think we were being watched. If whoever it was knows Guy isn’t here, then—” she stopped significantly while the others stared at her.
    “Perhaps we should head back and talk to Dad.”
    As heads nodded, Matt stood up. “Then we’d better get going. The sun’s going to be going down soon and with it any warmth it may have offered.”
    “Matt,” Tim suggested, “maybe we should check all the windows and see if we see any signs of life out there first. If Selena thinks we were being watched—”
    “Good idea. But, if we were, whoever it is knows we’re here. How could they not with a blazing fire going and tracks all around the cabin?”
    The Graham Quartet looked at each other.
    “Perhaps,” Elsa began slowly, “they’ll think that Guy is still here and won’t follow or bother us.”
    Matt, glancing at the sky which now held a hint of pink, said, “It’s not likely anyone will bother us now, but if we don’t get back soon, we’ll worry Mom. Come on. Tim, make sure that window is securely fastened. You didn’t try the windows in the loft, did you?”
    Tim shook his head. “Not when I checked upstairs earlier. I’ll run up and check.”
    Meanwhile, the girls had been getting their coats on and preparing to leave the warm cabin for the bitter outdoors as Matt carefully put out the fire.
    “Matt!” Tim’s excited, but low voice came from the loft and everyone froze. What was Tim excited about? “Someone is outside spying on us!”
    “What!” In a flash Matt was up the ladder while the girls waited breathlessly at the bottom.
    “Right over there, behind those bushes. Don’t you see that dark object?” Tim pointed.
    The waiting girls couldn’t hear Matt nod, but they heard Tim continue. “I looked out and saw him move from that tree. Do you think there are any more?”
    A long moment of silence followed Tim’s question. Then Elsa said in a low but distinct voice, “Selena, check the windows on the west for any sign of life. I’ll check the east. Tim, keep an eye on that one figure and Matt, check the north side.”
    Soon every eye was scanning the silent snowy lands surrounding the cabin and remembering how it had all started.

*        *        *

    The snow was rapidly falling from the leaden sky and a cold wind blew down from the north. Seventeen-year-old Matt Graham picked up another log to add to his younger brother’s load. “You sure you can carry one more, Tim?” he asked.
    “Sure I’m sure,” and Timothy, who was five years younger than Matt, grinned as the last log was placed onto the stack he was ready to carry to the house. “See.”
    Matt merely grinned back and picked up a large armful himself and then together the brothers headed back towards the side door of the house. It was the perfect night to enjoy a blazing fire in the large fireplace. No doubt Dad would tell a story, Mom would sing and Elsa had said something about popcorn. Reaching the door, the boys stamped the snow off their boots and then looked at each other. With their arms full of wood, neither of them could open the door.
    “Kick it,” Tim suggested, and Matt did.
    A moment later fourteen-year-old Selena answered their summons. She didn’t say anything, but her laughing brown eyes told of her amusement at her brothers’ predicament.
    Soon a blazing fire was crackling, snapping and hissing in the fireplace, casting strange and fantastic lights and shadows on the walls and faces of the Graham family settled about the cozy family room in their home deep in the northern woods of Minnesota; a room filled with the wonderful smell of burning pine and oak mingling with that of golden popcorn which danced and jumped in the wire popper Matt was shaking briskly over the flames.
    It was an evening full of warmth and comfort and one the children remembered for some time because of the events which followed it.
    The Graham Quartet, as the four children of David and Hannah Graham were called by all who knew them, were much alike except in ages and therefore sizes; all had brown hair and eyes, rather square faces and could nearly always be seen in the company of at least one other sibling. They were a fun loving yet helpful group, always seeming to stumble upon some adventure or another.
    When the last of the popcorn had been eaten, Mr. Graham stretched himself and yawned. “I’d say it was about time to turn in.”
    “Dear, did you get those boxes taken out to the barn?” Mrs. Graham asked.
    Mr. Graham gave a groan of dismay. “I completely forgot them, Hannah. I’m sorry.”
    “What boxes, Mom?” Matt asked. “How many are there? Where do they go?” Matt always liked as much information as possible at once.
    “There are three boxes and they have the Christmas decorations in them so they need to go back in the storage room of the barn.”
    Glances flashed between the Quartet and then Elsa, the oldest, said, “We can take them out, Mom.”
    “Yeah, a walk in the snow when it’s dark will be fun!” Tim added with excitement.
    Giving a sigh of relief, Mr. Graham smiled. “Three boxes for the four of you?”
    “Someone has to carry a light,” Matt replied and scrambled to his feet. “Come you guys. Let’s get our coats on.”
    “You all might want your snowshoes,” Mrs. Graham called after them.

    Fifteen minutes later, bundled in coats and hats, the four siblings made their way over the snow towards the barn, thankful for the reminder to use their snowshoes. All around them snow fell silently and in the stillness the noise of their footsteps seemed extra loud. No one suggested Selena turn on the flashlight she carried though it was dark; it was more enjoyable without it.
    At last the dark shape of the barn loomed up before them and Matt shifted his box to one arm as he reached for door. With a loud creak of protest, the door slid open enough for them all to slip inside. It was pitch black inside.
    “Turn the light on, Selena.” Tim urged. “I can’t see a thing.”
    Selena did and then gave a gasp.
    “What is it, Selena?” Matt asked quickly, turning around.
    There was no reply. Selena just stood as though rooted to the spot, her eyes wide and her face pale.
    “Selena,” Else urged, moving up beside her, “what’s wrong?”
    “Look,” Selena whispered so softly that it was scarcely audible. The hand holding the flashlight had started to shake and Matt quickly grasped it with his free hand.
    In the steady beam of light, a dark spot on the floor became noticeable. “Blood,” breathed Matt, bending down for a closer look.
    “What—” Tim began, but Elsa quickly hushed him.
    All listened intently, straining their ears to catch the slightest sound. So intently were they listening that the falling of the snow outside seemed to be heard. Then it came. A slight rustle and a low, half suppressed moan.
    Silently, Matt lowered his box to the floor and motioned the others to do the same. Taking the flashlight from his sister, he beckoned the others to follow while putting his gloved hand over the light leaving only a faint glow to follow. Tim gripped the back of Matt’s coat while Selena held Tim’s scarf and Elsa kept a hold of Selena’s hand.
    Slowly, quietly the Graham Quartet moved forward through the barn in the direction of the noise. They scarcely dared to breathe so intent were they on listening for another sound.
    Suddenly, when they least expected it, came a click as though as gun had been cocked and a voice called in low tones, “Stop where you are.”
    Everyone froze. Who had spoken?
    The voice went on. “I can see your light, so don’t try to make a sudden move. Now who are you?”
    “It’s the Graham Quartet,” Matt replied in a steady voice though his heart was pounding against his ribs. “This barn is on our property. Who are you?”
    A sigh sounded and the voice replied softly. “Oh, is it just the four of you?”
    Another sigh, very much like a suppressed groan came before the stranger spoke again. “All right then, you can turn the light on.”
    Instantly Matt flashed the full beam of the light towards the voice revealing a middle aged man lying on some straw. His face was white and his eyes closed.
    “He’s hurt!” Selena exclaimed, darting forward to kneel beside the man whose left pant leg was stained with blood.
    Elsa quickly joined her sister and after a quick glance looked up at their brothers. “One of you is going to have to go get Dad and call the doctor.”
    “No!” the man gasped, raising his head and looking wildly about as he clutched Elsa’s arm while dots of perspiration beaded his forehead. “Can’t let others know I’m h—” His voice stopped, his eyes closed and his head dropped back onto the straw while the gun which he had clutched in his right hand fell to the floor.
    “Is he dead?” Selena whispered.
    Matt hastened to undo the man’s coat and leaned over him, feeling for a pulse. After putting his ear to the stranger’s chest a minute, he sat up.  “No, not yet. But he might be soon if we don’t get help. Tim, run to the house and get Dad! Have Mom call the doctor!” This last was ordered loudly for Tim was already on his way to the door where the snowshoes had been left.
    “But, Matt, he said not to—” Elsa began.
    “I know what he said, but if he doesn’t get help he’ll die. I think he just doesn’t want lots of people to know he’s hurt.”
    “Or it could be that he doesn’t want certain people to know he’s here.”
    Matt and Elsa looked at Selena with surprised expressions. Selena didn’t talk much but when she did, the others listened.
    “But Matt, Elsa, we have to stop this bleeding.”
    By the time Mr. Graham arrived with Tim, the bleeding of the wounded leg had been checked, but the man, whoever he was, hadn’t regained consciousness. After checking him over carefully, Mr. Graham, with the help of his children, carried the man in a blanket to the house where he was established in the spare room.
    “I wonder who he is and what he was doing in the barn,” Tim said to the others as they waited in the dim hallway for the doctor to come out of the room.
    “He was hiding,” Selena replied.
    “But from who, and—”
    “Whom, Tim,” Elsa corrected.
    “Whom then,” Tim repeated. “And how did he get hurt?”
    Matt shrugged. “I can think of all kinds of answers to those questions and a host of others such as where did he come from, why did he have a gun, why was he hiding and why did he not mind when I told him who we were, but who knows if they would be right.”
    “I hadn’t thought of that before,” Elsa mused. “He did suddenly seem to turn sort of friendly when you mentioned it was us.”
    Sitting in silence for several minutes, Selena at last spoke. “I think he looked like a friendly man and I want to help him.”
    The others nodded and then they waited for the doctor to come out.
    When at last he did, followed by Mrs. Graham, the children sprang up eagerly.
    “How is he?” Elsa asked.
    “Plenty weak from loss of blood. Has a bit of a fever, but he’s conscious and wants to see the four of you. Wait!” The doctor halted the rush for the door. “What he really needs is rest, so make your stay as quiet and quick as possible. You can talk tomorrow. He’s not going anywhere for some time.”
    Softly the four make their way almost on tiptoe into the room and to the side of the bed. “Don’t stay too long,” Mr. Graham whispered to them, looking at Matt and Elsa. “Doc said he needed rest.”
    Matt nodded and his father slipped from the room. Matt might not be the eldest of the Graham Quartet, but Elsa was more than happy to follow his leading most times.
    As the door shut, the man on the bed opened his eyes. “A fine mess I’ve made of everything,” he murmured with a slight smile.
    “Don’t try to talk much now,” Elsa told him gently. “We can talk tomorrow.”
    Another brief smile crossed the man’s face. “I like you four. I think I can trust you.”
    Tim leaned forward with wide eyes, but spoke not a word. It was Matt who asked, “What’s your name?”
    Hesitantly, the man gazed into the face of each one gathered by the bed. “Promise me you won’t tell anyone . . .” he paused. “Except your parents if they won’t mention it.”
    “They know how to keep secrets,” Elsa said quietly.
    Wearily the man nodded. “It’s Guy Fox.” His eyes closed.
    Matt touched Elsa’s arm. She nodded and Matt whispered softly, “We’ll be back tomorrow. Rest now.” Then the Quartet slipped silently from the room more excited and puzzled than before. Who was this man whose name was “Guy Fox” and where did he come from? Why was he so worried about others finding out his name? And how did he get hurt? Did he know them? These thoughts and a host of others churned through the four young minds as they quietly bid their parents and each other good night and went to bed.

    They were still thoughtful when they gathered for breakfast the following morning. The snow had stopped though it was still overcast and looked like it might being snowing again. The kitchen where the Graham Quartet was gathered was warm and cozy. Mr. and Mrs. Graham were elsewhere and the four siblings had the room to themselves, except for the family cat.
    It was Tim who broke the silence. “We still don’t know who or what that guy is!”
    “Sure we do,” Matt retorted, slathering butter on a large, thick piece of toasted bread, “he’s a fox.”
    “Matt!” Elsa begged with a grin. “Don’t make fun of the poor guy’s name!”
    At that the entire Quartet burst into laughter, for the excitement, fright, wonder and bewilderment which had so filled their minds needed an outlet. Once the laughter had subsided, a silence fell upon them.
    “Tim’s right,” Selena spoke quietly. “We really don’t know anything about him except his name and that he’s hurt.”
    “There’s only one way to fix that problem,” Matt declared. “Let’s have a talk with him.”
    “We’d better wait until the doctor says we can. He said he’d come by again this morning. Perhaps he’ll give us the okay before he leaves.” Elsa looked across the table which was tucked in an alcove of the large kitchen and beside a large window. “There’s his truck now.”
    “I’m not done eating yet,” Tim protested, shoving a huge bite of eggs in his mouth.
    Elsa laughed. “Don’t hurry so, Tim, the doctor has only just arrived. I don’t think we’ll be allowed in the room until he’s seen him. Besides, such large bites aren’t very polite.”
    Tim just shrugged his shoulders.

    When the doctor came out of the sick room, having finished his call, he found Elsa, Matt, Selena and Tim waiting for him. “Well, well, you look like a delegation or a firing squad. If you’re wanting to visit your friend, I see no reason why you can’t. As long as,” he held up his hand to halt the sudden rush for the door. “As long as you are quiet. He needs rest, and some breakfast wouldn’t do him any harm either. Don’t wear him out! I will warn you that he does have a slight fever, but it’s not contagious. Selena, see to it that the rest of your siblings don’t cause my patient to have a relapse.” The doctor smiled at the girl as she blushed at the unexpected compliment.
    “I’ll fix him some breakfast,” Mrs. Graham offered. “After I show the doctor out.”
    “Oh, don’t bother with me, Hannah, I know my way,” and the old doctor departed down the hall.
    As eager as the Quartet was to discover the answers to their multitude of questions, they all hesitated outside the bedroom door, uncertain if they should knock or just enter. Before they could decide, the man’s voice, sounding stronger than it had the night before, called.
    “Quit standing out there whispering, you four. Just open the door and come in here.”
    Somewhat sheepishly the four siblings entered the room. The man lying in bed looked better than he had last night. He wasn’t as pale though he still looked sick. “Come on in and find yourselves some seats,” the man directed waving a hand. “Is it still snowing?”
    “No sir,” Matt replied. “It stopped during the night, but it looks like it could start again soon.”
    The man nodded.
    There was a light tap on the door before it opened, and Mrs. Graham entered with a tray bearing the man’s breakfast. Selena propped the pillows behind the sick man’s back and head while Elsa set the bed-table up. “Now,” Mrs. Graham said when all was situated. “I’ll leave you all here. Children, see to it that he eats and don’t wear him out.”
    “Yes, ma’am. No, Mom, we won’t,” Matt assured. “Selena will see to that.” Matt grinned at his little sister who, though quiet, was known as the family nurse.
    For a few minutes after the door shut behind Mrs. Graham, the Quartet sat in silence watching the man eat his breakfast. He must not have been very hungry for he ate slowly. At last he looked around the room with a slight grin on his face. “All right, I know you’re dying to ask me the hundred questions which have been running through your minds. To save time, let me just answer some of them now.”
    “But you should finish your breakfast,” Selena urged.
    For a brief moment the man’s eyes closed as a look of pain flashed across it. The look was gone in a minute, however, and he replied, “I reckon I’m just not that hungry right now. Besides, I feel like I should do a bit of talking.”
    No one said a word, but Tim leaned forward in his chair and rested his chin in his hand, his eyes never leaving the sick man’s face.
    “I told you my name last night, so just call me Guy. I’m not quite sure where to begin.” He paused. “Matt, will you hand me my wallet. It’s over in that drawer. Thanks.” After rummaging through several papers that were stuffed in it, he pulled out one and passed it to Matt. “That’s my identity.”
    Matt gave a low whistle and passed the card to Elsa. When it at last returned to Guy’s hands, each sibling had seen that their visiter was a detective for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “I don’t flash that thing around everywhere,” Guy said. “Especially when I’m on assignment. But with the way things are right now, I figure you might as well know. I talked to your dad this morning though I didn’t tell him much. He didn’t want to know. I don’t think I can say the same about you four though.” He flashed a brief smile.
    “I can’t tell you why I’m here, but I’ve been watching many people for quite some time now and I know I can trust you four.”
    “How do you know that?” Tim asked, always eager to know more.
    Again there was a brief smile. “In my line of work you get to be a pretty good judge of character, Son.”
    “I guess so,” Matt agreed, then added, “but how did you get hurt?
    “Fell and caught my leg in a trap. I was able to get it out, but knew I’d have to get to shelter so I used your barn. I must say though, I was sure praying for help when you all came in.”
    “You sure scared us,” Elsa broke in.
    “Sorry about that,” Guy apologized. “I had to be sure it was you and not—” He stopped abruptly and toyed with his fork. “I don’t want to alarm you . . .”
    “You won’t sir,” Matt replied. “We’ve been involved in a few dangerous situations ourselves and we don’t frighten easily. Unless, of course, you startle us when we least expect it,” he added this with a grin at his sisters.
    “I like your courage. You may need it. Let’s just say that there are a few around these parts that would give anything to see me dead.”
    Selena gasped but didn’t say a word.
    “I don’t want to put you all in danger, but I’m going to need your help. At least for a while. If you don’t want to help or think it might be too dangerous, just say so, and I won’t hold it against you.”
    There was a minute of silence as the Quartet exchanged looks. At last Matt spoke quietly. “Guy, we stick together through everything. We watch out for each other and what one of us does, the others do. We’re ready to help. Just tell us what to do.”
    A look of relief flashed across the man’s face and he visibly relaxed. “I was hoping you’d say that.”
    Before he could say more, Selena interrupted. “We shouldn’t stay much longer. You need to get some sleep or the doctor won’t let us come back to see you.”
    “Selena’s right, sir,” Elsa put in, rising.
    He nodded. “I know. But let me teach you a secret knock. You can use it anytime you come to the room. That way I’ll know it’s you and won’t have my hand on my gun.”
    Tim’s eyes opened wide and he gasped, “You have your gun with you?”
    For answer, Guy pulled from beneath the blankets a small handgun. Then he slipped it back. The knock was learned in no time and then the sick and exhausted man was made comfortable and left to rest.

    The rest of that morning found the Quartet often in huddles talking in low voices for a few minutes before they hurried off to attend to their chores. How thankful they were that it was Saturday and there would be no school that day or the next.
    “Perhaps there’ll be so much snow that we’ll get to stay home Monday too,” Tim whispered in one such huddle.
    “Maybe, but don’t count on it,” Matt cautioned.
    “I wonder what he wants us to do,” Elsa mused.
    The others nodded in agreement. That seemed to be the question they most wanted answered though others continued to float in and out of their minds nearly driving them distracted. What if they knew the men who wanted to kill Guy? How does he know they want to kill him? How long has Guy been in these parts? How could the Graham Quartet help the FBI?
    It was a maddening morning and lunch was eaten rapidly so that they might take lunch to Guy and have another talk.
    At last they stood in the hallway. Elsa carried the tray and Matt gave the secret knock.
    “Come in,” Guy called quietly.
    “We brought you some lunch,” Elsa said softly as they entered the dim room. The sun was still behind the clouds and the curtains were drawn most of the way.
    “Should we turn on a light?” Tim asked.
    “If you’d like.” Guys voice sounded feeble and tired.
    “The lamp, Tim,” Selena whispered and Tim turned on a small lamp on the dresser.
    By it’s light the siblings could see the pallor of the sick man’s face. “You don’t look very well, Guy,” Matt said softly.
    A wave of pain seemed to sweep over the man, and he moaned. “Sorry,” he gasped, and then pressed his lips together tightly while his hands clenched.
    “Does your leg hurt?” Selena asked, moving to the bedside and placing a gentle hand on the suffering man’s head.
    There was no answer save another moan which the compressed lips couldn’t hold back. “Matt, he’s burning up!”
    “I’ll get Mom,” Elsa offered, hurrying from the room with her tray of lunch still untouched.
    Matt brought a damp washcloth and handed it to Selena. “Stay with him, Sis,” he whispered. “I’ll make sure the doctor’s on his way.” Then he too hurried from the room leaving Tim standing like a guard over the patient and the young nurse.

    For several days the unexpected visitor was too sick to talk with the Graham Quartet. The leg wound seemed to be more serious than the doctor had first thought, and Matt overheard him tell his father on Sunday evening: “David, I don’t know who that man is and I don’t care. But if he’s to get well he must have complete rest and freedom from worry. Something seems to fret him now, for he’s nervous and restless and that’s not doing any good. Perhaps your four can help him. Call me if he seems worse, otherwise I’ll be back in the morning.”
    “Thanks Doc. We’ll see what we can do . . .” Mr. Graham’s voice died away as he walked the doctor out to the porch.
    Matt waited impatiently for his father to return. “Dad, I overheard what the doctor said just now,” Matt burt forth as soon as his father came back. “We told Guy we’d help him. Won’t you let us stay home from school for a while?”
    For a moment Mr. Graham looked thoughtfully out the window. Then he beckoned his son to follow. Once they were in the study with the door shut behind them, Mr. Graham motioned his eldest son to a seat.
    “Please Dad.” Matt’s eyes and his whole face were pleading.
    “Listen, Matt,” Mr. Graham began. “I know you all want to help our visitor and personally I would like to help him too. But what about school? I don’t have any worries about you graduating all right, for you’re good with your studies. But what about Tim? I’m afraid several days behind in school and he’s liable to never catch up.”
    “I’d work with him, Dad. You know his greatest problems are the subjects I like the most. I could help Selena, too, if she needed it.”
    “She may in math. But would Tim really cooperate with you as teacher?” There were many times when the brothers clashed and it was mostly over lessons, for Tim was impatient to be done and on to other things while Matt stuck to a subject until he mastered it and thought his younger brother should too.
    “I think he will, Dad, if the four of us talk it over.”
    “Well,” Mr. Graham began slowly, fingering a pen on his desk. “I suppose if Tim is willing to really work with you as teacher, I’ll let you try it. But—” he added as Matt began to rise. “There’s something else I want to talk to you about.”
    Resuming his seat and looking at his father, Matt asked, “Yes sir?”
    “I assume you know who Guy works for?”
    Matt nodded.
    “I don’t know what he’s doing in the area and I’m not sure I want to know, but I don’t want you four getting in harm’s way. How much do you know? What were you planning on doing to help him?”
    “All we know is that some people would like him dead. We don’t know what he’s doing either, Dad. I thought it might make him easier if we told him we’d keep a watch out and let him know if anyone came over or if we saw anyone out the windows. Maybe he could rest then.
    “So you think that’s what’s worrying him?”
    “Probably not all, but it’s all we can do for now. And don’t worry, Dad, I’ll do everything I can to keep us out of danger.”
    “That’s what I wanted to hear. I know I can trust you, Son. Just remember, this is not child’s play. There are dangerous people who don’t seem to have a conscience at all. Pray about things and talk to me if you think something might be too much.”
    “We will, Dad. Thanks.” Matt followed his father’s lead and rose. The interview was over.

    “Which would you rather do, Tim,” Elsa asked at the meeting Matt called right before the younger two went to bed. “Have to go to school or work on your lessons with Matt here?”
    “Well, I don’t want to go away,” Tim began slowly. For a moment he seemed to hesitate and then, just as Matt was about to speak, Tim’s shoulders straightened and he said, “I’ll do my lessons here. But Matt, please,” he turned to his brother, “can’t we just work on history and science?”
    “Not a chance, brother!” And Matt laughed. “We’re going to get you ready to take top honors in math.”
    A collective laugh covered up Tim’s exaggerated groan.
    And so it was that the Graham Quartet all remained at home the rest of the week. Matt was true to his word about working with his younger siblings on school, and even if they were keeping a watch out the back windows above Guy’s room, he worked with either Tim or Selena. Elsa also pitched in with teaching and watching. Having practiced and drilled themselves to notice details that others normally would pass over, nothing escaped the watchful eyes of the Quartet. Even during the night the four siblings took turns sitting in the sick room near a window watching. This careful and constant alertness on behalf of the Quartet seemed to be what the injured man needed, for he relaxed and slept, growing better so that by the end of the week the doctor was quite pleased with his condition.
    “I’m going to let you out of that bed this afternoon,” the doctor told Guy on Saturday. “Only for a short walk and then you are to sit and put your leg up. It’ll be a few more days before I’ll agree to your leaving this place. But that leg’s healing nicely now. Don’t you go and ruin things by being impatient.”
    Guy smiled. “All right, Doc. But I can’t remain here too much longer. I’ve imposed on these people enough already.”
    “You aren’t imposing,” Elsa, Matt and Tim protested warmly while Selena shook her head.
    Guy smiled at the four young friends he had made and silently thanked God that it was the Graham’s barn he had taken shelter in.

    At last the day came when the doctor said good bye to his patient, cautioning him against over using it for a while and told the Grahams to call him if he was needed again.
    “Now what are you going to do?” Matt asked as the entire family were gathered about the family room with their guest.
    Guy shook his head. “I’m not sure. I think I should find a place where I can live for a while and come and go as I please without others knowing. Before I got hurt I noticed a cabin on the edge of a clearing set back from the road and in a secluded spot. Any idea who owns it?”
    “Is it between the nearest towns?” Mr. Graham leaned back in his chair and asked.
    Guy thought for a moment and then nodded. “Know who owns it?
    “Yep. I do.”
    Sitting up quickly, Guy looked at his host eagerly. “Would you rent it to me?”
    The four siblings exchanged glances. If Guy stayed in the cabin, would they be able to visit him? Would they be able to help him anymore? True, they didn’t feel like they had done much and it hadn’t been exciting, since no one had come to the house and they hadn’t seen anyone in the woods or fields. They also didn’t know why he was in the area or who would like him dead. Perhaps if he was going to move into the cabin he’d tell them more.
    While these thoughts and many similar ones were racing through their minds, Mr. Graham and Guy Fox had come to an agreement about the cabin.
    “The children can take you there and help you settle in,” Mr. Graham said.
    “When do we go?” Tim asked eagerly.
    “No one is going anywhere tonight,” Mrs. Graham decreed firmly. “They’ll be plenty of time tomorrow and light to see by. I don’t want anyone getting caught in another trap.”
    Guy yawned. “Well, since I can’t head anywhere outside tonight, perhaps I’ll just head to bed.”
    “I think that would be a sensible thing for all of us to do,” Mr. Graham agreed, rising from his seat. “Matt, bank the fire, please.”

    The following morning, the Graham Quartet and Guy Fox bundled up well and strapped on snowshoes.
    “There’s already food out in the cabin,” Elsa informed Guy. “Dad likes to keep it stocked with canned goods just in case it’s needed suddenly.”
    “And we’ll bring you fresh food,” Serena added, “if you’ll let us come.”
    “I’d be happy for your company, but I don’t want to put you four in any danger.”
    “We can talk about that later. Don’t you have anything to take out there?” Matt looked questioningly at their friend.
    Guy smiled. “How long have you known, Matt?”
    “Since the day after you arrived.”
    “Well, if you think we can get it all out to the cabin, I’d sure like to have it with me. I’m sure I’ve been missed.”
    In answer to the others mystified looks, Matt said, “Radio.”
    “You’ve got one?” Tim’s eyes widened. “Where is it?”
    The five persons had by this time neared the barn. “In the hay near where we found him.”
    “What? You knew?”
    “Matt, why didn’t you tell us?”
    Matt shrugged. “Since he worked for the FBI and hadn’t told us about it, I thought I should keep it a secret.”
    “Matt was right. Though I would have liked to use the radio while I was laid up, I thought it would be too dangerous.”
    “Won’t it be dangerous for you alone in the cabin?” Selena was clearly worried.
    “Don’t fret, Selena,” Guy reassured, smiling at her. “It wasn’t my own safety I was thinking about. It was your family’s. When there is only myself to take care of, it’s a might easier than when you have an entire innocent family who might be in danger.”
    As they talked, they had been collecting Guy’s things and having stowed them in packs, the Quartet hoisted the packs onto their backs and prepared to set forth. To Guy’s request to help carry the loads, they all shook their heads. “Doc said to take it easy,” Elsa reminded him.
    “The walk will be all that leg should be doing without the added weight of these packs,” Matt put in.
    “And besides,” Tim added with a grin. “We want to impress you so that you’ll let us help you more.”
    At that Guy laughed. “All right. You win. You carry the packs and once I’m settled in the cabin we’ll talk.”

    The walk across the snow to the cabin was taken in almost complete silence because the Quartet, taking note of the way Guy was constantly scanning the area around them, followed suit and watched and listened as well, though they were uncertain what or who it was they were watching and listening for. At last the cabin was reached and the door unlocked and opened. A bright fire was soon blazing in the fireplace, the packs opened and things set to rights. It wasn’t a large cabin though it had a good sized loft on the south end, a large kitchen-dining-living room and a small bedroom. The simple, sturdy but unpretentious furniture, the homespun curtains at the windows, the large stone fireplace and the homemade rag rugs on the wooden floor gave a homelike atmosphere to the cabin and Guy looked about him with a smile of pleasure.
    “There’s one disadvantage about this cabin, Guy,” Matt said as they all gathered around the warm flames to enjoy a rest.
    “What’s that?”
    “You can’t very well hide the smoke.”
    “That’s true,” Guy nodded. “but as long as no one knows who’s staying here, it shouldn’t matter, should it?”
    Matt shrugged, “I wouldn’t know.”
    Several minutes of silence followed and at last Guy grinned. “All right, you four are probably sitting on pins and needles right now.”
    “We have been since we first found you,” Tim blurted out.
    “Sorry,” Guy laughed. “I know it’s been hard to wait. I can’t tell you much about the case I’m on right now; only that I’ve been working it for nearly two years. I thought I was close to ending it a few times, but always some new twist comes along. The last one was when I fell and got hurt. That put a damper on things. But now I’m up again—”
    “Don’t overdo it, please,” Selena begged, her brown eyes anxious.
    “Don’t worry, I plan on sticking to this cabin for another week at least if . . .” he paused and glanced at the four faces around him. They seemed so young. How much should he tell them or ask of them?
    “If what?” Matt’s voice broke the silence.
    Guy drew a quick breath and continued. “If you’ll help me. Now,” he held up his hand, “before you say yes right away, let me explain a bit more of what I want. You are used to going everywhere in this neck of the woods, aren’t you?”
    The Quartet nodded and Elsa added, “We know this area from one town to the other. We’ve all tramped the woods many a day, and night too for that matter.”
    “And do you think that if you saw a face just once you would remember it again?”
    Again every head nodded.
    “How good are you at asking questions and finding things out without letting on that you are prying for information?”
    “Leave that to Tim,” Matt smiled. “Everyone around here knows he likes to ask questions.”
    The detective nodded thoughtfully. “How about seeing things that no one else sees?”
    “We’ve been working on that,” Elsa replied. “We aren’t experts or anything, but we notice more than most.”
    “Good. I already know you can keep things quiet when you need to.”
    A sudden crack and shower of sparks from the fireplace made everyone start. A log had broken. Matt stirred up the fire and added a few more logs.
    “There’s one thing more.” Guy had looked over at the snowshoes leaning up against the wall near the door. “How much experience have you four had at hiding your tracks, slipping through the woods without being seen or noticed, and leaving such tracks that few can follow?”
    The four siblings exchanged glances and then began to shake their heads. Would this mean they wouldn’t be able to help their new friend? They could manage to leave no trail and to slip up unnoticed when it wasn’t the dead of winter and snow lay everywhere.
    Guy must have understood their looks for he said, “Well, there’s no time like the present to start. Of course it’s harder not to leave tracks in the snow unless it is snowing, but here are a few things you can remember and start working on. If you are coming to this cabin, always come a different way than the time before. Don’t make it obvious that this is your destination.”
    Heads nodded.
    “Sometimes it is good to just act as though you were only out for a walk in the snowy woods. Then you could all go together and talk and throw snowballs and take your time.” Guy leaned forward and lowered his voice. Instinctively the Quartet also leaned forward, their eyes fastened to the speaker’s face as though his words were hard to hear. “But other times come quietly, slipping from dark object to dark object. No talking unless necessary, never more than two of you together at a time, always watching, always listening, always ready for anything.” The detective’s keen, dark eyes notice the alert attention his words were receiving and knew that whatever happened, he could count on the Graham Quartet to follow instructions and to learn quickly.
    “Okay, I think I can safely ask for your help.”
    “Really?” Tim exclaimed in excitement. “What do you want us to do?”
    “First I want you to fetch me the brown folder which is in the yellow envelope under the second blanket which had been in Elsa’s pack and is stacked in the east closet in the bedroom.”
    Tim was off in a flash and Guy waited in silence to see if his complicated instructions had been followed fully. He knew there were two stacks of blankets in that closet and wondered if Tim would know in which stack to look.
    He didn’t have to wonder long, for in a moment Tim was back and handed the brown folder to him. “Well done.” From the folder he drew out a photo. “Take a good look at this face.”
    The Quartet crowded around.
    “Who is it?” Tim asked.
    Shaking his head, Guy replied, “That I’m not at liberty to tell you. But, if you should see him, let me know right away! How good are you at remembering things people say and then repeating them afterwards?”
    “I’m not very good,” Selena offered shyly.
    “But she’s not bad,” Matt spoke up. “And she can tell you what anyone was wearing, where they were and what they were doing.”
    “And the rest of you?”
    “I’d say we were were fairly good at remembering a short conversation nearly word for word,” Elsa said. “Of course we’re still working on it. If there are any numbers to memorize or anything like that, Matt’s the one for the job.”
    “Sounds like you all need each other to succeed.”
    Matt nodded. “We do. None of us could manage without the others in this line of work.”
    Once the picture had been carefully studied and each was sure they would recognize the person should they see him again, Guy slipped the photo back into the folder. “All right,” he said, “I don’t really have many instructions for you, but if you should see the person in the photo, get to me as quickly as you can!
    “The other thing is when you come to visit. Always come a different way. Try not to let anyone else know that I’m staying here. Think you four can handle that?”
    “Of course we can,” Tim agreed while the other three nodded.
    “If that’s all, Guy,” Matt spoke up, “we had best be getting home. There’s only about two hours of daylight left if it doesn’t start snowing again, and it looks like it could.”
    Guy agreed and the Quartet quickly put on their coats and hats, pulled on their boots and began to strap on their snowshoes.
    “Oh, one other thing,” Guy said before he opened the door. “Be careful!”
    “We will be.”
    The door was opened and the Quartet struck off through the snow towards their own house leaving Guy looking after them. “I wonder if I’m doing the right thing,” he muttered. “They’re just kids. Oh, if only I hadn’t caught my leg in that trap!” Shutting the door and carefully locking it, Guy turned to his chair near the fireplace and dropped to his knees as he had often done before in times of stress.

    The walk home was one of silence for the Graham Quartet. Each one was busy with his or her own thoughts about all that had been happening and everything their new friend had told them. Could they really be of any assistance to the FBI or was Guy only making them feel useful? Not one of them dared utter that thought aloud, but it lurked in the back of each mind and unconsciencely made them more determined than ever to do their very best to help with Guy’s assignment, whatever it was.
    Upon reaching home, they quickly scattered to do their assigned chores before washing up for supper. There wasn’t much talk around the table that night and Mrs. Graham suggested everyone get to bed early. This sounded like a good idea for until then, none of the siblings had realized just how taxing their vigils had been, nor how tired they really were. However, before slipping off to their rooms, the Quartet gathered in what they called “their corner” of the library to talk.
    “I don’t know how to process everything,” Matt confessed, after they had all settled themselves. “So much has happened lately and now looking for someone, secretly visiting the cabin, conversations . . . Maybe I just need a good sleep.”
    ‘I think we all do,” Elsa said. “I must say it all sounds strange to me, but if it helps any, I’m ready to try.”
    “We all are,” Selena put in.
    “Of course. But I think that we shouldn’t have a certain time each day to visit the cabin or someone is bound to find out.”
    “Good thinking, Tim. It would be a dead giveaway if we always left at the same time.”
    “I’m not sure when we’ll be able to go,” Elsa said, looking at Matt. “You three will be in school during the week.”
    “That’s true.” And Matt looked thoughtful.
    “We could get up early some mornings,” Selena suggested quietly.
    “We should have asked how often he wanted us there.”
    “Well, we can next time we visit,” Elsa assured Tim before pulling a piece of paper and a pen off a nearby table.
    Matt glanced at his sister. “What are you doing, Elsa?”
    “Starting a list of things we need to ask Guy about.”
    “What do you have so far?”
    “Only how often we should visit him. Can any of the rest of you think of anything else?”
    For several minutes the Quartet sat in silent thought. Then Selena said, “What kind of conversations are we supposed to memorize and what kind of information does he want?”
    Elsa’s pen scratched the questions down and then Matt yawned. “Sorry, I couldn’t help it. What say we all get to bed?”
    This was agreed to and before long the Graham house was shrouded in quiet darkness while a new blanket of fresh snow fell softly outside and covered all the tracks which had been made that day.

    The following morning found the Quartet eager to be off through the woods and fields to the cabin. It was Saturday and their parents agreed that they might all go sledding after their chores were finished. Once those were completed and lunches packed, they set off dragging sleds behind them.
    “It’s convenient that there are some great sledding hills back behind the cabin,” Matt grinned. “That way we can warm up there and eat lunch in a sheltered place instead of sitting around freezing.”
    Upon reaching the hill the Quartet halted. The cabin was barely seen through the trees across the field and no smoke could be seen. “I think I can smell smoke though,” Tim whispered, and the others nodded.
    “You know,” Selena said softly, “as much as we’d all like to head right down and go to the cabin, I think we should sled for a while first.”
    “Why?” Matt turned to look at his younger sister.
    Selena shrugged. “Well, it would look rather strange if we just went down once, wouldn’t it?”
    “Do you think anyone’s watching?”
    Again Selena shrugged. “I don’t know.” Then she smiled. “Guy might be.”
    “That’s right!” Tim was excited. “If we’re going to act like we’re going sledding, let’s do it. We have to show him that we haven’t forgotten what he told us.”
    Matt and Elsa exchanged glances and Selena’s idea was acted upon. For over an hour the four siblings flew down the hill with shouting and laughter only to turn and trudge back up to the top again once the bottom was reached.
    At last, having grown cold and and hungry, they climbed on the sleds once more, took their lunches and snowshoes and flew down the slope. The tramp across the field and to the cabin took no more than a few minutes. Upon arrival, the Quartet noticed that the only sign of life was the delightful smell of a fire. They unstrapped their snowshoes and Matt gave the signal knock, five quick raps and then two slow ones.
    Instantly the door was opened and a smiling Guy welcomed them in. “I’ve been waiting for over an hour for the four of you to pay me a visit. Decided to make a good show of sledding, did you? Or is it really good sledding?”
    “Both,” Tim and Matt answered at once, pulling off their boots.
    Guy grinned. “It looked and sounded like fun. Took me back to my own childhood days of sledding. If it weren’t for this leg and a few other things, I just might have joined you. Now, get those wet things off, set yourselves before the fire and let’s have lunch. Matt, before you take your coat off . . .” Guy looked at Matt. “Would you—”
    “Sure thing. I just thought of it. Be right back.”
    “Where is he going?” Selena asked watching her oldest brother disappear outside once more.
    “Where would he go if I weren’t here?” Guy asked her, with a keen look.
    “Of course, he would have to get wood,” and Selena smiled. She turned to look at their friend. “I’m not as good a detective as the rest of them are.”
    Matt soon returned with a large armload of wood and in another minute had joined the group about the bright fire while the girls passed out the lunch.
    “So, how many questions do you have for me today?” Guy asked.
    The Quartet exchanged quick glances and, as Elsa reached into her pocket, Tim asked, “How did you know we had questions?”
    “Because I would have if I were in your shoes. I only gave you a little information yesterday in hopes that you would notice what I didn’t tell you.”
    “I don’t know if we noticed everything,” Matt said. “But we did come up with some things.”
    Elsa began reading their list. “How often should we visit? What sort of conversations should we pay attention to and memorize? What information should we bring you? Do you want any information written down or brought by word of mouth? Should we try to find out information for you or just tell you if we hear anything? Is there anyone else we should be watching for besides the man in the picture? Is there a name we should call the man? Some code name? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to come to the cabin at different times each day?” Reaching the end of their list, Elsa looked up. “That was all we had thought of for now.”
    Guy began to laugh. “I was right, you four don’t miss much!” He held out his hand for the list. “Now, let me see if I can’t answer a few of these questions.” Rapidly he scanned the list, nodding now and then and pausing with a slight frown once. At last he spoke. “Great idea to come at different times of the day and always use the secret knock! But wait,” he paused in thought. “We ought to have two knocks; one for everyday use and one if it’s very important.” He thought for a moment and then asked, “Do you all happen to know Morse Code?”
    The Quartet’s eyes lit up. “Sure we do,” Matt said quickly. “That’s one of the first things we learned.”
    Guy nodded. “Good. Then use the SOS Morse code for the emergency knock. That way you won’t have to learn anything new and you can remember it if you’re in a hurry. Now what else?” He turned back to the paper in his hand. “How often should you come? That’s a bit harder to answer. Certainly come if you have something to report, but unless you do, I don’t think it would be wise to come every day. It would be too obvious if anyone was watching. Code name for the man in the picture? Not a bad idea. Any suggestions?” He looked about at the silent group gathered about the fireplace.
    “I think that if he’s a bad guy we should call him . . .” Tim paused and looked about the room with a glint of a smile in his eyes. “Aaron Burr,” he finished.
    “That’s because you’re studying about him in school,” Elsa laughed.
    Tim shrugged. “So. You have any other ideas?”
    No one had and Guy remarked in a thoughtful manner, “That’s actually not a bad name for him. In fact, I like it; good idea, Tim. What next? These last questions are a bit harder to answer. As far a bringing me information, word of mouth would be safer, but if you have to write things down to remember them, create some code or only write down enough info for you to remember but which won’t tell anyone else who may chance to see it anything.
    “Now, as far as the info, conversations and such that I’m needing—” the FBI agent leaned back in his chair and stretched out his legs while staring thoughtfully into the fire. “That’s a bit harder.” It was a bit tricky to gather information through another person who didn’t even know what was going on. There was a very fine line between enough information and too much.
    Into the silence that followed Guys’s words, came a sudden crackle and a strange, slightly scratchy voice saying, “Farmer to Henhouse. Farmer to Henhouse. Come in Henhouse.”
    At the first crackle, Guy sprang to his feet, and limped quickly across the room, threw back a blanket revealing a small radio and picked up a microphone. “This is Henhouse. 10-12. Over.”
    “Roger that. Can you scramble? 10-17.”

. . . . . . .

Do to the hope of publishing this story before the year is out,
I have taken the liberty of leaving you hanging. :)
Don't worry, I will let you know as soon as it comes out!

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