Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven Chapter 21

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 , Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15. Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20

Chapter 21: In the Outhouse

Sissy jogged up the road between the ponds toward the outhouse. A skunk was waddling down the middle of the road from the cabin toward the outhouse. She wondered if it was the same skunk they had seen several times before. If Sissy didn’t hurry, she wouldn’t be able to get to the outhouse until the skunk passed, and it was going fairly slowly, so she’d be late to dinner.

She put on a burst of speed and dashed to the door, opening it and reaching quickly for the ring. In her haste, she knocked the ring into a crack between the boards. Only the drop of blood was keeping it from falling through to the darkness below. The ring was swinging back and forth on the blood drop. Sissy looked back out at the approaching skunk and reached again, more carefully, for the ring.

This time, it slipped through the crack. Grumbling to herself, Sissy went all the way into the outhouse and let the door shut behind her. She stuck her face down by the hole and looked in. There were lots of cracks between the boards, and the whole outhouse tilted to the side, so there was plenty of light at the bottom of the hole. It looked just as it had a little while ago. Her little folded piece of toilet paper and the damp spot where she had peed were the only differences. There was no sign of the ring.

Sissy had clearly seen the ring drop into the crack. She looked again, but the ring wasn’t there. It just wasn’t there. Sissy opened the door and peered out at the skunk. It was sitting at the edge of the road right in front of the outhouse. It was licking itself like a cat. When Sissy made a little sigh of unhappiness, the skunk looked up at her. It had a nice face. But Sissy was afraid it might spray her if she tried to leave the outhouse. She decided to look one more time for the ring and went back in.

The door shut behind her. The ring still wasn’t there. Sissy tried to lift the boards where the ring slipped in, and to her surprise, the whole platform holding the two toilet seats lifted. It was hinged at the back right behind the seats and could be lifted and leaned against the back wall. There were so many cracks in the outhouse that Sissy hadn’t noticed the slightly wider crack in the boards behind the seat.

After Sissy had leaned the toilet seat platform against the wall, she noticed an open wooden box at the top of the opening on the far left, out of reach of the toilet hole. It contained 4 coffee cans, each containing a perfectly fine, unchewed roll of toilet paper. An emergency supply.

Then she looked at the spot where the ring had slipped through. There, under the platform was another wooden box. She tried to take it off, but it was securely attached. There was no opening that she could see until she looked on the side closest to the wall. That side was open and inside, she could see a grey metal box tied with twine.

She reached in, stuck her fingers under the twine, and pulled the metal box out of the wooden one as if it were a drawer. There was barely enough room between the wooden box and the outhouse wall to get the metal box out, and it was heavy. Sissy was afraid she would drop it into the pit. As the metal box slid out into her hand, there was a little clinking sound in the wooden box. Setting the metal box carefully on the outhouse floor, Sissy reached back into the wooden box. She felt her blood-siblings ring lying in the bottom back corner of the box. She pulled it out and put it on her finger. The swelling had gone down and it slipped right on. Then she lowered the platform back down.

Picking up the metal box, she shook it slightly. It sounded as if it had money in it, coins and papers. The treasure! It wasn’t a very big box, so it couldn’t be a very big treasure. But even a little treasure was pretty exciting. Of course, she probably wouldn’t be able to keep it, but at least it was hers for a little while.

The box was tied with thick brown twine, around and around in both directions. Under the twine was a folded piece of paper. She cut through one strand, which loosened the twine, but not enough to get it off. She started working on a second strand when she heard voices. They were coming up the road between the ponds. It sounded like the fat cop and his friend were coming back, possibly to look around more for treasure.

“I gotta take a crap,” the fat cop’s voice came clearly from close on the road. “Do you think that run-down outhouse would hold me? Or would it collapse if I went inside?”

Sissy looked desperately around. There was no back door and the windows were high up and way too tiny. She would have to lift up the platform and hide underneath. There was enough room on either side of the seats so that she wouldn’t get dirty. But what if he looked in the hole? Still, she had no choice. She lifted the platform and leaned over to drop the treasure box to the bottom.

“I think you’d be better off hanging your butt over a log,” the skinny man’s voice said, less stench and varmints, and besides, look, there’s a skunk sitting in front of the door.”

“Guarding the old outhouse, eh?” The fat cop asked. Sissy stood waiting, ready to leap into the pit. “I’ll go out back, I wanted to look around out there anyway in case the old geezer buried it somewhere.” Sissy could hear their voices getting farther and farther away. “And maybe we should come back later and check the outhouse. That old guy would be just weird enough to hide his money there.”

Sissy clutched the box. She watched through a crack as the men walked slowly up the hill. In spite of what the fat cop had said, they went into the cabin. The front of the outhouse faced slightly away from the cabin.

Sissy opened the door a little. The skunk looked up at her.

“Listen skunk, I need to go home. If I don’t, I will get into trouble. Big trouble. Now I am going to come out very slowly. I won’t hurt you. I am just going home. You don’t need to spray me.” Sissy slipped out through the partially opened door. The skunk turned and looked at her as she backed slowly away from it. It took a few steps toward her.

Chapter 22, P365-07W

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven, Chapter 20

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 , Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15. Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19

Chapter 20: The Otters

When they got home from school, Sissy finally remembered to look up the Frog Haven animal in her Audubon Field Guide to Mammals. She flipped through the black pages at the front first, seeing nothing it could possibly be. But then, she saw a silhouette of a river otter that looked like it might be the right shape and remembered her father saying that it sounded like an otter. She turned to the picture. It was definitely their animal, she was sure of it. Grabbing the book, she ran over to Garryd’s.

“Look, Garryd, look! We saw an otter. Papa said they were really rare around here. She showed him the pictures.

“That’s it all right, wow! That’s neat.”

“Let’s read what it says, ‘dark brown (looks black when wet) . . . males larger than females . . .’ I wonder if the one we saw was a male or a female, it seemed pretty big. Listen to this: ‘slides on riverbanks eight inches wide, much wider with heavy use.’ It says here that males are evicted when the young are small and return to help care for them when they are half grown. Do you think our otter could have a mate?”

“I don’t know,” said Garryd, who was reading over her shoulder, “Look, it says, ‘the river otter is active by day if not disturbed by human activity.’ The range map shows us right on the edge of their range.”

“Papa says they are rare here. Very rare. I’ll have to ask him about that again. Listen, I know we shouldn’t keep going back to the cabin, but lets just got look for the otter again. We can take a snack and got to the mound where we saw the slide. You can give me another sign language lesson, and we can sit quietly to see if another otter comes. Maybe we will see a heron or a beaver or something, too. We don’t have to go to the cabin at all; we can just stay at the pond.”

“Okay, let’s see what we have for snacks.”

Garryd’s mom was working in the kitchen. “Hello,” Sissy signed, “It’s nice to see you!” Then to Garryd, she said, “I remembered!”

Garryd’s mom smiled a warm wonderful happy smile. Then she moved her hands slowly, trying to say something back to Sissy.

“Help, Garryd! She said ‘hello,’ but I don’t know what else she said.

“She said, ‘Hello, Sissy, it’s nice to see you, too. How are you today?’”

“How do you say, ‘I am fine, how are you?’” Garryd showed her and she did the signs slowly and carefully.

“Now what’s she saying? It looks something like what I said, ‘I’m fine.’”

“Yes, she said, ‘I’m fine, too, thanks.’ And now she is asking if you are hungry.”

Sissy smiled, nodded, and rubbed her tummy. She didn’t know what the sign for ‘hungry’ was, but Elke understood. She smiled and signed back to Sissy.

“She wants to know what you would like to eat.”

Sissy remembered when they had a troupe of Mimes visiting the school. They did some funny stuff on stage in the auditorium, and then came around to the classes. They’d done workshops in miming in class and all the kids had had a turn. The mimes told Sissy she was good at miming. She started miming making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“Don’t forget to go slow—remember, she can barely see at all.”

Sissy started over, going slowly, expanding her mime. She created an imaginary refrigerator, took out a loaf of bread. She opened the bread and took out two slices and laid them on an imaginary plate. She took a jar of jelly and a jar of peanut butter out of an imaginary cupboard and set them on an imaginary table. She unscrewed the peanut butter and spread it on the bread, scraping the knife clean on the edge of the bread. Then she opened the jelly and spread lots on the other slice of imaginary bread. She set the knife down on the imaginary table and pressed the two slices of bread together. Some of the imaginary jelly was leaking out the side so she licked it off.

Elke was smiling and nodding. She got out a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and jelly and made Sissy a sandwich. It was white bread, and she liked rye or whole wheat better, but she thanked Elke in sign language anyway. Elke made another for Garryd.

Then she said something else to Sissy in sign language.

“She’s saying, ‘Thank you for helping us out.’”

“How do you say, ‘You’re welcome?’” Garryd showed her, and Elke nodded graciously to Sissy as she repeated his signs. They bagged their sandwiches and started to leave.

Elke signed again to Garryd. “She wants me back at 5:00 rather than 5:30, we have to go some place.” They went the roundabout way so no one would see them. Sissy felt a little guilty, but after all, they weren’t going to the cabin.

When they got to the sign language mound across from the otter slide, they sat and ate their sandwiches, looking around. The beaver swam lazily by and didn’t even splash his tail. A heron fished in the farthest away swampy part of the pond, but there was no sign of the otter.

They started the sign-language lesson, first reviewing the alphabet and then going over the conversation they had had with Elke. Garryd laughed about her miming and showed her how to do peanut butter and jelly. Suddenly, there was a lot of splashing in the pond, not beaver-tail splashing, but more like the sound of children playing in the water. There were soft grunts and growls and squeaks. Sissy looked up. There was a whole family of otters playing in the pond. Their otter was the biggest, probably the male. The next one was a little smaller and there were four little ones, all frolicking about in the water. Suddenly, all six of them took off in a mad chase up the hill, bounding in an up and down snaky sort of jumping run. Then zing, zing, zing, zing, zing, zing, they went down the slide in quick succession, tumbling into the water, somersaulting, diving. They seemed so wonderfully happy. Sissy wanted to jump in the water and swim over and play with them. Instead, she sat absolutely still and watched. Not wanting to spook the otters, she sat far more still than she had ever sat in church.

The otters played for a long time and the children watched and never spoke a word. The otters slid and tumbled and dove and swamp and ran along the bank of the pond. They wrestled playfully with each other both in and out of the pond. Then, quietly, they swamp away down the length of the pond toward the cabin.

The children stood and stretched. “I’ve got to go to the bathroom,” Sissy said, “I’m going to go in that outhouse, okay?”

“Okay, but hurry, I have to be home in 15 minutes.”

Sissy twisted the blood-siblings ring. It itched here a mosquito had bitten her finger when she was trying to be utterly still. The finger was swelling a little. When she got to the outhouse, she took off the ring and set it near the wall on the platform that held the toilet seats. She looked down the hole. There was no sign of any poops. The ground wasn’t very far below. It was covered with a few scraps of ancient toilet paper, and the new paper she had thrown down the other night, that was all. She peed and found the toilet paper sitting on the little shelf where she had left it.

I peed in the woods while you were inside,” Garryd said, “Come on, let’s hurry.”

When they were halfway across the pasture, Sissy was absently rubbing the itch on her finger as she walked. She realized suddenly that she hadn’t put her ring back on. “Garryd, I’ve got to go back to the outhouse and get my ring. You go ahead, I’ll be okay. I’ll be right along in a minute.”

“Are you sure? You don’t mind going alone? We could go back later.”

“No, it’s fine.” Sissy turned back toward the ponds. Sissy turned back at the edge to the woods and saw Garryd just parting the wires at the top of the dirt cliff. He waved, she waved, and ducked into the woods.

Chapter 21; P365-07W

Monday, January 29, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven, Chapter 19

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 , Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15. Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18

Chapter 19: Field Day

Garryd was not at the bus stop again in the morning. Sissy corned Paul LeFevre and hauled him off away from the other kids gathered under Fontenellas' oak waiting. She quizzed him about anything more he might have found out. Missing school, Paul said, was one of the things that the Social Services people had complained about in court. Garryd and Sven missed "a lot of school" by having to act as interpreters for their parents. Children in "normal" families did not have to "baby sit" for their parents. "Having to care for an adult at such a young age is not good for the proper development of children," Paul told Sissy that Social Services had said. He said it in a prissy voice imitating his father who was imitating Miss Penfield, the old biddy from Social Services.

"Another problem I heard Daddy telling Mommy about this morning," Paul lowered his voice, "when they thought I wasn't listening, was 'inadequate supervision.'" He leaned closer to Sissy, "I guess Garryd and Sven have both gotten into trouble where they used to live. I thought they were real goody-goodies, but Dad said that when Garryd's father is not home, his Mom can't tell what they are doing very well, since she is deaf and almost completely blind. Dad says she has a hard time keeping track of them and they sneak off without her knowing it."

"I thought they were all so nice. Both parents and the kids. The Mom, Elke, was so worried about Garryd that first day."

"That's probably why. She doesn't want him to get in trouble again."

"Paul and Sissy, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" Marc, Michael and Guy chanted in a singsong voice. The other kids hee-hawed like a bunch of donkeys. Everyone at the bus stop knew that Sissy and Paul hated each other. Paul turned scarlet and flew at his brother, knocking him to the ground.

The bus pulled up and everyone lined up. Guy was the last in line. He was still trying to brush grass and dirt from his clothes. Paul was just ahead on him wiping off his knees and shooting evil looks at Guy.

"Let's think of all the reasons why Garryd and Sven should stay with their parents, Sissy suggested. The bus driver hadn't opened the door yet. Lannie McKeever took out a notebook and volunteered to be the secretary.

"First of all, families are happier and better off together than apart. Sven and Garryd would be happier with their parents than with some dumb strangers," Lyssa said.

"Sven and Garryd LOVE their parents," Sissy said, "and their parents LOVE them. No one else could love them the way their parents do. And Garryd's mom is a great cook and a good housekeeper. She may be legally blind, but she keeps their house neater than my parents keep ours! And . . . "

"Whoa, Sissy, slow down, I can't write that fast," Lannie objected. The driver opened the door and they all piled aboard, continuing their suggestions.

Instead of driving away, the bus driver sat for a long time. Then he stood up and surveyed the children with his arms crossed. He stood that way for a long time while the kids waited to get bawled out. No fighting of any kind was allowed on the bus or at the bus stop, and he had obviously seen Paul tackle Guy. Finally, he turned around, sat down, and started driving. The kids sat absolutely silently until Bruce Decker and the other kids on Round Tree Lane got on. They came in laughing and chattering and soon the bus was back to normal.

Lannie passed her notebook around to anyone who had an idea. Not just the kids from Van Vleck Drive, but anyone with an idea. Garry's plight became to talk of the bus. Everyone wrote their ideas down and signed their names underneath. Every time the thought they had run out of ideas, someone thought of another one. Bruce Decker wrote that Garryd wouldn't get in trouble riding bus 120 because the driver was such a good disciplinarian. The Van Vleck Drive kids laughed when they saw that.

Sissy wrote"

BHBL has the best teachers anywhere. Especially Mr. Sharp and Mr. Halligan. Good teachers are real important, specially if there are problems learning at home. And the woods behind the school is a really fun place to play with lots of yummy snakeberries and cool snakes.

She had heard her parents saying something about Garryd needing good teachers. And everyone knew BHBL was the best school system around. But it was important to remind people. But really, the best part was the woods. The snakes were mostly along the far edge by the cedar swamp and she hadn't yet had a chance to show them to Garryd. And the huge stand of intertwining and nearly impenetrable snakeberries was the best stand Sissy knew of. That's what made BHBL special to Sissy.

It was field day at school, a day of races and other competitions. The kids had to work all morning, but when Mrs. Waverly heard Garryd's problem, she let Sissy pass around her notebook, and the kids took turn writing down their ideas as they worked. Sissy was doing a math worksheet when she had a brilliant inspiration. She thought of one of the best ideas she had thought of yet and borrowed the notebook back from Willy Boatright who was still thinking.

She wrote:

It is very important for kids to have good friends, friends who love them and share things with them. These friends should be trustworthy, reliable, and faithful. Garryd has a good friend, many good friends, on Van Vleck Drive, and may never find any other friends as good as we are, or as faithful. Maria Mancini

Mrs. Waverly suggested that Sissy go down and start a list in Mr. Sharpe's room, so she did. When Sissy collected the ideas, she saw that a lot of them were the same. But a lot were different, too. Alvin, for example, had said that the Ozone layer in Burnt Hills was conducive to high brain functioning, whatever that meant. Alvin was the class genius, so maybe he knew something Sissy didn't. He was also the class clown, so maybe he was making something up. Mr. Sharpe had written that Garryd was a fine boy who deserved to be with his family and friends. He also wrote that next year, he would be glad to give Garryd any remedial help he needed even though he wouldn't be his teacher. Anna Louise Francher wrote that Burnt Hills had the best school system in New York State and that if Garryd were taken away, he would be deprived of the best possible education. Anna Louise's father was the Superintendent of schools, but she didn't put that down.

Walking back down the hall to her own room, Sissy added another comment:

If Garryd was taken away, I would miss him so much I would be DEVASTATED!!! I would be really sad!

Sissy added the last line in case the judge didn't know what "devastated" meant. It was a word she had learned from Mrs. Doolittle [MNS1] , who was always "devastated" when Sissy ran through her roses.

After lunch, there was nothing but competitions. Sissy had signed up for the 2.5K run, which was just over a mile and a half. Sissy was a terrible sprinter, but she was pretty good at running distances. She could keep going for along time. And she'd been getting lots of practice running back from Frog Haven.

She got off to a slow start and ran dead last for a long time, trailing the next to the last kid by a really long ways. She began to think she'd never catch up, but slowly, she did. She passed Gail Turner and Jennifer Simpson. Then she passed Ellen Langley. Then she passed a boy, Billy Martin. Then she passed a whole cluster of kids running together.

"Go, Sissy, go! You can do it, come on, run!" Sissy turned, stumbled and almost fell. Garryd, at the sideline, screamed, cheering her on. She put on a burst of speed and surged toward the front of the pack. She passed everyone but Paul LeFevre. She was catching up with him, but the finish line was just ahead. She tried to force herself to run faster, but she was already running as fast as she could.

Slowly, she pulled up beside him. They crossed the finish line nearly neck and neck, but Paul was ahead by a tiny bit.

"Photo-finish," the crowds shouted.

Sissy was gasping for breath, but she managed to say, "Paul won. He beat me."

"You ran a terrific race," Garryd said, putting an arm around her shoulder.

"Yeah, you did," Paul agreed.

Mr. Sharpe came up and congratulated them. He was holding the ribbons in his hand. Big long fluttering ribbons, a blue for Paul and a red for Sissy.

When the crowd around them dispersed, Sissy said, "Garryd, you're here, I'm so glad, now you'll get to race." Then, lowering her voice, "How is everything?"

"We don't know yet, Sissy. I can't believe you hired us a lawyer."

"I didn't do it!"

"Our new lawyer said you did. Mr. LeFevre."

"He's Paul and Guy's Dad, didn't he tell you that? I got my father [MNS2] and Lyssa got her parents to talk to him. We went around and collected money from all the neighbors, even Mrs. Doolittle.

"Thanks, Sissy!"

"You don't need to thank me," Sissy said, embarrassed. She didn't think she'd done anything special. She just wanted to help her friend.

"Of course I do!" He gave her a hug.

"When will you find out?"

"The summation is tomorrow morning so we will probably find out then."

Sissy decided the lists the kids made of reasons to keep the family together better get to Claude LeFevre as soon as possible. Maybe Paul could take it to his dad.

They were announcing the hurdles. Paul and Garryd were both in the hurdles. They ran neck and neck the entire way and tied for first. Sissy hugged them both. Paul turned scarlet, especially when Marc hissed, "K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" at them as he ran by with a silly smile on his face.

The sack races were next. Sissy went out ahead, but she fell and everyone passed her. She finished last. Lyssa was her partner in the three-legged race. They tripped a couple times but then got a good rhythm of moving the untied legs together and then the tied ones and began to move forward through the pack. They finished third and both got green ribbons.

Lyssa and Sissy were partners again for the balloon toss. The boys just shot their water balloons at each other for the fun of it and got all wet, but Sissy and Lyssa tossed very gently and caught even more carefully. More and more kids were eliminated until just Lannie McKeever and David Fontenella and Sissy and Lyssa were left. Both balloons broke on the next toss, drenching Sissy and David. They all laughed and were tied for first. Sissy was glad. She wanted a blue ribbon for the bulletin board in her bedroom. Mr. Sharpe gave her a hug when he handed her the ribbon, even though she was all wet.

Sissy ran to watch Garryd, Marc, and Paul compete with other kids in the high jump. Marc, Paul and Garryd took third, fourth and fifth place, which was sort of amazing since Paul and Garryd were the two smallest kids competing. Two fifth- graders took first and second.

Michael, Guy and Paul were competing in the standing broad jump and Sissy went to watch. Michael took third. Then she watched Marc and Michael take first and second in the running broad jump. Guy took first place in stilt walking, which he'd perfected for the Van Vleck Drive Community Circus last summer. Then she, Lyssa, Lannie, Margo, and Bellamy took first place in the relay egg roll and 4th in the relay balloon toss. By the time the afternoon was over, They all had several ribbons and felt great.

[MNS1]Another mention of Mrs. Doolittle, whose intro was cut.

[MNS2]Sissy's mother should have gone, too, or had a reason not to—announced her tests just HAD to be graded

Chapter 20, P365-07W

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven, Chapter 18

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 ,Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15. Chapter 16, Chapter 17

Chapter 18: The Plan

“Old Man Williams was supposed to be mean, you said.”

“I heard that somewhere; someone said that. Lyssa, maybe. But I don’t think so. I think whatever killed him killed them. First. Listen. We’d better go home. It’s getting late and I have something important I have to do. I should have done it before I came to you house, but I wanted to see you so bad.”

“That’s okay, I haven’t had any dinner and I am starved.”

“Oh, Garryd, why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because you were so upset about the cabin and I wanted to see what they had done.”

“Well, now we know. I wish I knew what we should do about it,” Sissy said, as they came out of the woods into the pastures. “I’d like to tell my parents what those guys did, but if I tell them, they will know I disobeyed again.”

“I don’t know what to do either. Let’s think about it and then have a blood siblings’ pow-wow.”

“Okay, good idea.”

As soon as Garryd went into eat, Sissy ran over to LeFevres’. She pounded on the door. Guy answered and called Paul. He didn’t even look surprised. Or make any remarks. “I need to talk to you. Can you come out for a little while?”

“Can I, Mom?” Paul asked his Mom, who was washing dishes in the kitchen behind him.

“For a little while.”

They sat on the back fence. Guy came out and walked by, headed for Mancinis’ back door. Sissy looked around to make sure no one was nearby. She told Paul what she and Garryd had seen in the cabin. Then she told him about the graves and whom she thought was in them.

“Listen, Paul, does your father know anything about Garryd?”

“Yes, he does. I heard him talking to Mom about it last night. They thought I went out with Guy, but I had gone into the bathroom, and when I started back out, I heard them talking in the living room, so I stood quietly in the hall and listened. Dad told Mom that social services are trying to take Sven and Garryd away from their parents because their parents are deaf and poor.”

“Oh, no! Really?”

“That’s exactly what he said,” Paul assured her.

Marc ran by, “Paul and Sissy, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” he shouted

Michael ran by, “First comes love, then comes marriage,” he shouted as he ran by.

“Then comes Sissy with a baby carriage,” added Guy as he ran past.

The three boys peeked around the back of LeFevres’ house and roared with laughter.

“Shut up, you idiots,” Paul screamed, running after his brother, snatching him by the shirt, and pulling him to the ground. His face was beet red and he started pounding on Guy.

“Stop it, stop it,” screeched Sissy. “Listen, you guys, social services is trying to take Garryd and Sven away from their parents. We’ve got to help them. I need your help. Come on; let’s see if we can think of something.

Lyssa came around the back of Mancini’s house. “Can I stay over at your house tonight?”

“I don’t think so. We have school in the morning. Besides, we’re trying to figure out what to do about Garryd.” Sissy explained to Lyssa about Garryd’s family and social services.

“That’s stupid, I’m going to go tell my Mommy and Daddy. They won’t let them do that.”

“How can they stop them,” Paul sneered, “they’re not even lawyers or anything.”

“Well, your father is, why can’t he help?”

“Maybe I’ll go in and ask him.”

“Then he’ll know you were listening,” Guy said.

“No, he won’t. For all he knows, Garryd told Sissy and Sissy told me. She was all upset when she came over. He heard how she said she needed to talk to me.”

“I’ll go with you,” Guy said.

“Well, I’m going to talk to my parents; they will know what to do even if they aren’t lawyers,” Lyssa said, heading off across the lawn.

“Let’s go talk to Pa and Mom,” Sissy said to Marc and Michael.

“Paul must have been mistaken, honey,” Papa said when Sissy told them their news and worries. “They don’t do things like that any more. This isn’t the Dark Ages.”

“Can you find out, please, Papa? Go over and ask Mr. LeFevre, PLEASE?”

“Well, okay, if it will put your mind at ease. You guys can come with me and see what he has to say.”

“You may think this is not the Dark Ages,” Claude LeFevre remarked, “but as far as the Dutcherville County Social Services are concerned, it still is. They are definitely trying to take Garryd and Sven away from their parents. They cite the fact that each of the boys was held back a grade for failing to develop proper speech patterns . . .”

“But they talk fine now,” Sissy interrupted.

“They are still behind in their school development, and Social Services insists it’s because both parents are deaf. They also say that their income from Social Security is insufficient to provide an adequate home for the boys.”

“Then Social Security should give them more money,” said Sissy.

“Sissy,” Papa said, “stop interrupting!”

“As far as I’m concerned, Sissy’s right. Social Services should be supportive of the Family, give them food stamps and whatever aid they need, tutors, even, anything to keep the family together rather than tear it apart.”

“Can’t their lawyer help them?”

“They just have Darren Muscovy the Third, a court-appointed lawyer. He’s an old man and a bit of a souse. He’s ready to retire and can’t even stay awake during his own cases. He’s no help at all.”

“What about you, Claude, can’t you help?”

“I can’t just walk in and take over the case. It’s disrespectful and disallowed. Someone has to retain me. It has to be done legally.”

“I’ll retain you, Claude,” Anthony Mancini said, “How much do you need as a retainer?”

There was a knock at the door. Lyssa, Bill, and Dr. and Dr. Taylor were at the door, looking worried.

Claude LeFevre laughed. “Word travels fast around here! Have you come to help pay Knudsons’ legal expenses?” He laughed again and filled them in.

Later, Sissy and Lyssa went door-to-door asking for help for the Knudsons. Everyone agreed to help, even Mrs. Doolittle, who looked disapprovingly at Sissy’s dirty bare feet.

Chapter 19, P365-07W

Friday, January 26, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven, Chapter 17

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 ,Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15. Chapter 16

Chapter 17: Ransacked!

The bushes and brambles on the road to the cabin had been cut and cleared.

“Brush hog,” Sissy commented, having seen them at work on the Forestry trails at Pack Forest. There were tire tracks on the road. Sissy and Paul clung to the brush remaining along the roads and snuck slowly up to the cabin and peered in, wanting to be sure no one else there. No one was. The place was empty.

Old Man Williams was gone from the cabin, along with a few of the blankets from his bed. Nothing else was moved, but the cabin seemed different, violated somehow. Something was wrong. They gazed around without touching anything.

“Here, put these on,” Sissy said, handing Paul a pair of gloves. Then she realized she was bossing him around. “Wait, she cried, yanking her hand back. “Let me try that again.” She thought for a moment and said, “Paul, I don’t think it would be a good idea for us to leave any fingerprints. What do you think?”

“Of course not, dummy, give me the gloves, quick!” Paul sounded angry, but he was smiling. They began searching. Sissy didn’t know what they were looking for exactly. She was sure someone else had already been looking. The place felt different, it felt disturbed.

“Sissy, there’s someone coming,” Paul whispered in a panicked voice. “They’re down there on the road,” he pointed.

“Quick, let’s get out of here.” The children waited just inside the porch door until the men were hidden at the curve of the road. Then they dashed around the side of the cabin. They heard the men coming up the hill and dared not run into the trees for fear they’d be spotted, so they stayed tightly pressed against the side of the cabin. Sissy wanted to look, but she was afraid they’d spot her, so she didn’t. Instead, she listened hard. She could almost feel her ears prick up like a dog listening to a distant howl. She recognized one of the voices. It was the fat cop, Sergeant Maroni.

“Don’t worry about making a mess, we’ll blame it on the kids,” Maroni said. “We’ll tell them the kids did it. Just look fast, everywhere you can think of. That old man was rolling in dough. There’s got to be treasure here somewhere. Or maybe a map. Look everywhere!”

Sissy could hear the cops crashing around. They’re going to wreck the place and blame it on us,” Sissy whispered to Paul.

“Shhhhhhh,” Paul hissed back, very quietly.

Sissy could see some dead plants of the windowsill of the window closest to where she stood. She thought they would screen her from sight, and hiked herself up to the window ledge and peered in. The fat cop was there all right, but he wasn’t in uniform. He was wearing dirty overalls with a T-shirt that must have been white once but was now a brownish yellow and full of little holes. The other man was not the nice cop, Harrison. Sissy was glad. He was a little skinny guy with a sharp-hooked nose and long stringy blond hair. He was wearing a yucky T-shirt and jeans and his jeans were so low that part of his behind was hanging out. It was all hairy and ugly and gross. He had lifted up the mattress and was feeling around the springs. Then he started thumping the bottom of the mattress, and his pants slid further down. If they came down any more, they would fall right off.

When the skinny guy straightened up, he gave his pants a yank and pulled them up a little. Sissy noted that he was not wearing gloves. She looked over at the fat cop who was pulling stuff out of the roll-top desk. He was not wearing gloves, either, and he should have known better. Sissy knew better, and she was barely eleven. She had learned that from watching detective shows on TV.

The skinny guy yanked the sheets off the bed and started feeling the top of the mattress. The fat guy took papers from the desk, looked at them, wadded them up, and tossed them toward the woodstove. Some went in and some didn’t.

Paul pulled himself up beside Sissy. They wedged their toes between the logs and hung on to the projecting windowsill. Sissy turned toward him for a moment and saw his face relax a little as he saw the screen of plants. But the men never looked toward them anyway, they were too intent on what they were doing.

Every once in a while, Maroni would stand up, walk to the door and peer out. Then he would return to searching the desk. The other man took the cushions out of the chair and couch and felt the cushions. He unzipped each cover and felt around inside. He looked under the cushions and stuck his hands down inside the chair around where the cushions would be. Once, Sissy saw him pocket a coin, a quarter maybe. That didn’t mean much. Sissy often found coins when searching for a lost card or toy down inside a chair. She always gave them back to her parents, and they usually let her keep them.

The skinny guy turned a chair upside down and slit the bottom with a pocketknife. Sissy gasped. Paul elbowed her and gestured to be quiet. The skinny guy peered in and then reached in and felt around. He proceeded to slice open the next chair. Sissy quietly let out a snort of anger.

The fat cop stopped going through the papers and looked at his watch. Sissy looked at hers. It was 5:20. The fat cop went back to working at the desk. Sissy pointed at her watch and lowered herself to the ground. Paul dropped down beside her. They went around behind the cabin and into the woods, thumping suddenly over two wooden platforms, cutting through the trees parallel to the road. Sissy wondered what the wooden platforms were. A moment later, Sissy stumbled over a large stone. She looked back at it. It stood at the end of a mound. It looks like a grave, Sissy thought, as she hurried on.

They didn’t dare take the road between the ponds, knowing how visible they’d be, and how easily spotted from the cabin. They ran as fast as they could through the woods behind the back pond, retracing the stream a ways and then crossing. It was no problem for Sissy with her bare feet but Paul slipped on the muddy rocks and got his sneakers and pants wet. They cut through the woods into the pastures praying Dzabel wouldn’t be there. They’d never make it if they went all the way through the butterfly fields.

At the edge of the woods, tangles of blackberry canes with sharp thorns tore Sissy’s bare feet and legs. Even with jeans and sneakers, Paul still shrieked in pain a couple times. Sissy was silent as her skin ripped and ribbons of blood streaked down her legs. They sprinted across the pasture, up the dirt cliff under the barbed wire. Then Sissy grabbed Paul—“Do you think we could not go that way, if they see us, they’ll know where we’ve been.”

It was 5:30, but they skirted Paul’s yard at a dead run and Sissy came into her yard from his. AT 5:33, she burst through the door garage gasping for breath. Trying to breathe quietly. Papa was at his place at the head of the table. Mom was dishing food into serving bowls. The boys were crashing around in the bathroom. Sissy dashed in, washed her hands well, and sat at the table.

She wanted desperately to tell someone what she had seen, but then she would have to admit, once again, that she had disobeyed a direct order. She knew she had to think it over carefully and decide later what she should do.

After supper, Sissy went over to Garryd’s. When he answered the door, Sissy was relived to see him.

“Why weren’t you in school?” she demanded.

“I had to go to court.”


“My lawyer told me not to talk about it.”

“Oh.” Sissy didn’t know what to say. She felt left out somehow. Like Garryd wasn’t her best friend or her blood brother after all. Secrets.

Then she remembered her own secrets and in her excitement, forgot his. She told Garryd first about the lightning-lit argument between the cops and then about what she and Paul had witnessed.

“They wrecked stuff, and they’re going to blame it on us!” Sissy concluded.

“Let’s go back right now and check it out,” Garry said.

Sissy checked her watch. “Okay, but we’ll have to hurry!”

They couldn’t believe the mess. The flour and sugar bins were upside down and there was flour and sugar all over the floor. Apparently, the men must have thought something might be hidden under the flour and sugar in the bins. Cans of food and macaroni were strewn over the floor with paper and other junk.

“Don’t touch anything,” Sissy commanded, “Don’t walk in it, either. I mean, Maybe it would be better and safer if we don’t touch anything or walk in there, because we don’t want our fingerprints or footprints on anything.”

“I knew what you mean. Come on, let’s look upstairs.”

The loft was wrecked, too. The mattresses were off the beds and the toys were lying helter-skelter. One of the rag dolls was split in half. It had been cut open and all the stuffing had been pulled out and scattered across the floor. Another doll had its head off and several were missing arms and legs.

Sissy looked around. Time seemed to slow down and the air seemed like liquid. She felt as if someone had punched her in the stomach. She couldn’t seem to get her breath.

“This is awful, really awful,” she finally managed to say.

“I wonder if they found the treasure,” Garryd said.

“They sure didn’t find it right away or they never would have wrecked everything looking. I bet they didn’t find it at all.”

“I hope you’re right,” Garryd commented, angrily surveying the mess.

“I want to go outside and check something,” Sissy said.

“Okay.” Sissy led the way to the spot behind the cabin where she had tripped over a large rock. There, side by side, were what looked like two old graves. There were two mounds of dirt with two large rocks side by side like headstones. They were ordinary rocks, small boulders, really. Nothing was written on them.

“These are the kids who lived in the loft. They died, and old man Williams buried them here,” Sissy said with conviction. The graves were small ones and Garryd could see that they might be children’s graves. If they were graves at all.

“They could be graves, kids’ graves.” He lay down between them, then sat up, looking at his feet. “They’re the right size. But . . . how do you know?”

“I just know. It’s a hunch, I guess, but I am almost certain I’m right.”

“What are you, psychic or something?”

“I don’t think so. It just makes sense. Two beds. Two sets of toys, two small graves.”

“Maybe the old man killed them.”

Chapter 18, P365-07W

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven, Chapter 16

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 ,Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15

Chapter 16: The Ladybird Beetle

In the morning, Sissy couldn’t wait to talk to Garryd. But Garryd wasn’t home. No one answered when she pounded on the door. Garryd didn’t come to the bus stop, and the bus left without him. Before she went to her room, she ran down to Mr. Sharpe’s room. Mr. Sharpe was busy talking to the principal, so she couldn’t ask him, but Garryd was nowhere in sight.

After school, she went back over to Knudsons’, but no one was home. She wanted to go back to the cabin, even though it meant disobeying, but she didn’t want to go alone. And she eager to share her news.

Sissy felt something crawling on the back of her neck. She reached up to swat it, but something made her stop. It didn’t feel like a mosquito. Carefully, she picked the insect off her neck. It was a ladybug, or, as her mom insisted, a ladybird beetle. Sissy lay on her stomach on the grass on the little hill between her house and Garryd’s. The ladybird beetle crawled across her hand. She let it crawl from one hand to the other over and over, watching its small round shape move forward on tiny black legs. Her head was hot and she took off her baseball cap. The ladybug crawled across the cap and right across the white letters that said DODGERS. It shone brilliant red and black against the white and blue cap. Twice, it lifted the little curved plates that her Mom had told her made it a beetle and unfurled the black transparent wings underneath, but did not fly. They folded so neatly back. So smooth and shiny.

There was a thumping plop beside her, and Paul LeFevre was lying on his stomach next to Sissy. He spotted the ladybug and reached out to squash it with his thumb.

“No!” screeched Sissy, snatching the cap away, and looking down to be sure that the ladybug was safe. Paul had an evil expression.

“Look, Paul, look at this ladybird beetle. It’s little, but it’s alive. It looks like a toy, all shiny and new, but it’s alive like me and you. Watch its little legs. They’re so tiny, but each one of them can move. What would happen if you squashed it? It would just be an orange and black spot on my cap. It would never move again, never walk or fly or shine in the sun.” Sissy reached out her hand and the ladybug crawled onto it. She lifted her hand to her mouth and blew, and the insect lifted two curved red plates and unfolded tiny transparent black wings. It flew up, circled around, and landed on Paul LeFevre’s hand. Sissy jumped up, holding her breath, but Paul stared at the little insect as it crawled up his thumb. Once again, it lifted curved wing-plates and unfolded its thin wings. This time it flew away, and they watched it until the tiny speck disappeared from sight.

“That was neat, Sissy,” Paul said, “You’re okay. I don’t think I’ll ever kill anything again, at least, not on purpose.”

Sissy looked sharply at Paul. She couldn’t tell if he was serious or if he was being mean and teasing her.

“You know,” Paul continued, “that initiation thing with the frogs was just something I dreamed up to freak you and Bill out. And Garryd, too! We don’t usually do stuff like that. Not that we never kill anything. Just not that often. We have other things to do.”

“What about the time you were killing frogs with spears?”

“We saw you coming and I wanted to gross you out. I don’t usually like to kill things either, but I wanted to get even with you.”

“Get even with me, why?”

“Because you’re so bossy. You think you’re the queen of the world. You’re always telling us what to do and you get mad if we don’t do things your way.”

“That’s not true,” Sissy cried, hotly.

“Yes it is, ask anyone.” Sissy sat quietly and thought about it. She thought a lot of angry thoughts. Paul was a real jerk, anyway. But the feeling that he might be right, at least a little, wouldn’t go away. She saw herself with Garryd, always telling him what to do. Well, not ALWAYS, but . . . LOTS of times.

“Well, I don’t think I am ALWAYS bossy,” Sissy said, “but I’ll tell you what. If you are really serious about not killing any more frogs, I mean any more animals of any kind, including insects and worms, I’ll try really hard not to be bossy. But you might have to remind me. Deal?”



“Shake!” They shook on it.

“Listen Paul, can you keep a promise, cross your heart and hope to die?”

“What, about Frog Haven and the Dead guy?”

“How’d you know about that?” Sissy asked, indignantly.

“Everyone in the whole neighborhood knows you’ve been carting off frogs somewhere. We saw you a long time ago—you’re not exactly invisible, you know. We followed you to see where you were going.”

“I never saw you following me.”

“You were so busy jabbering to Garryd you never even looked back. That’s how we know you call it Frog Haven—we heard you blabbing on and on about it.”

“Oh, and all this time I thought it was a secret,” Sissy moaned.

“Don’t worry, we didn’t hurt any of your precious frogs. Marc and I thought about sticking them on stakes for you to see, just to laugh at you for thinking you were so great, but Michael and Kelvin talked us out of it. They said it would spoil the secret of our following you. I think they were tired of killing frogs, too, to tell you the truth, but didn’t want to admit it. But you know what, we found the dead guy before you did. We went to check the cabin while you guys were having your dumb old sign language lesson.”

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

“Are you kidding, my parents would KILL me if they knew I went there. I can’t believe you told. Didn’t you get grounded?”

“No, I didn’t. I just got a speech about disobeying, about not ever disobeying again. But I want to go there again; I want to look around more. Will you go with me?”

“Are you serious? You’d go back there after all this? You must be nuts.”

“Please, Paul, please. Please?”

“I don’t know. If we ever get caught, we’ll be grounded all summer.”

“We won’t get caught. We’ll be careful.”

“All right, I guess so. We’ll have to be a lot more careful than you and Garryd were!” Paul’s face was so serious and worried-looking that Sissy had to work hard to keep from laughing. He didn’t look at all like a tough guy. She had never seen him looking so serious.

“Let’s hurry, because we have to get back in time for supper. Let me get my watch, okay?”

Paul scouted around to make sure no one was watching. Sissy came out with her watch on and two pairs of glove-liners stuffed in her back pockets. They walked to the end of Van Vleck Road and ducked down the steep hill to the butterfly field, cut into the woods behind the field, and followed the stream. It led, as Sissy had guessed it would, right to the ponds. They were out of view the entire way. Paul looked back often and never saw anyone following.

Chapter 17, P365-07W

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Drafts: Frog Haven Chapter 15

Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 ,Chapter 9, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, Chapter 14

Chapter 15: Eavesdropping

“We didn’t take anything,” Garryd said, indignantly. “We thought it was abandoned. It looked like it from the outside. We were just looking.”

“No, we didn’t take anything. Nothing at all,” Sissy said. “I already told you that.”

“He doesn’t trust anyone,” David Harrison said, jerking his thumb toward Maroni. “Don’t worry, I believe you.”

“That’s good,” Sissy sighed.

“Can I take the children home now?” Sissy’s father asked. “They have school in the morning.”

“Sure,” David Harrison said, “We know where to find you if we need you for anything.”

“Why did that fat cop think we took something?” Sissy asked angrily as they walked back through the woods.

“His name is Officer Anthony Maroni, Sissy. Even if you don’t like him, you must show him respect. You were breaking the law when you went into that cabin. That was wrong, and it was illegal. If you could do one bad thing, why would he think you might not do another and steal something?”

“We thought the cabin was abandoned. I know better than to steal something.”

“I know you do, Sissy. I don’t think you took anything, either of you. But I can see where the policemen might think so. Lots of kids steal things, especially from abandoned buildings. But that’s still theft. Buildings that appear to be abandoned still belong to someone. And Sissy, you were forbidden to go there.”

Papa paused to climb over the fence, then held the wires apart for Sissy and Garryd. They started through the arboretum and Papa continued, “It doesn’t matter what Garryd said or what animal you saw, you shouldn’t have gone there. We had heard that Old Man Williams had threatened to kill anyone who came on his land. He shot at hunters; he even shot at Mr. Dzabel when some of his cows went through a hole in the fence into Williams’ Woods.”

“Did he hit anybody?”

“No, but I would hate to think that if he had been alive, it would have been you or Garryd that he hit.”

“He wouldn’t have shot us, Papa. I know he wouldn’t have.”

“Sissy, there is no way you could know that. You must never disobey us like that again.”

“Okay, Papa, she said, looking down at her feet. They were getting dirty again, and she had just taken a shower.

She washed them, sitting on the side of the tub, and kissed her parents goodnight. She lay for a long time but couldn’t sleep. She was thinking of the toys in the cabin loft and she was sure Old Man Williams would not have shot her. And she was thinking about his papery skin and the longish white hair with the grey streaks, and Maroni accusing her of stealing. She might have taken something, if they hadn’t have found the body. She sort of thought the place didn’t belong to anyone any more. Mom went by and stuck her head in the room.

“You have school in the morning sweetheart. Try to relax and go to sleep.”

“Okay, Mom, I will.”

A while later, Sissy’s Mom walked down the hall again. She poked her head in the door, and seeing that Sissy was still awake, she went in and sat on the bed beside her. Sissy sat up and leaned her head against her mother. Her mom put her arms around Sissy.

“How do you feel about finding a dead person? Does it bother you?”

“We found a dead fox, too.”

“But that’s not really the same, is it?”

“Well, it is and it isn’t. I feel sort of sad about the man. But I feel sad about the fox, too. Sadder, about the man, I guess. But I don’t feel freaked out or anything, if that’s what you’re worried about. Maybe because he’s been dead so long. It’s Okay, Mom! It’s all right, really.”

Sissy’s Mom gave her a hug. “I’m worried about your still being awake. You must be upset, at least a little. Maybe more than you realize.”

“That’s not it, Mom, I don’t think. It’s not so much the dead guy that’s bothering me, it’s that some fat, mean cop wanted to blame us for something. For something we didn’t do. It was as if he was looking for an excuse to get us in trouble.”

“Well, keep your nose clean and you won’t get in trouble. Seriously, Sissy, you shouldn’t have gone over there. You know that. But don’t worry, we know that you haven’t done anything seriously wrong, and we will see to it that you don’t get blamed for anything you didn’t do. Now go to sleep. Lie down and close your eyes. Keep them closed no matter what until morning. Unless the house burns down or something of course. Come on, close your eyes.”

Sissy’s Mom leaned over and kissed Sissy goodnight. But Sissy still couldn’t sleep. The police car was still in their driveway. The policemen hadn’t yet come back from Frog Haven. It was getting darker and darker. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash of light. Sissy sat up in bed. It was completely dark out. Another flash of light lit up the neighborhood. Sissy could see the colors of the roses across the street, brilliantly pink in front of Taylor’s and yellow in front of Smith’s. She could see the green blades of grass in the lawns and the green leaves of the trees and then the neighborhood plunged into darkness again. When another flash came, Sissy watched the colors brighten and fade. It was like adjusting the color and contrast on the TV. Only much better and more exciting.

Lightning, but no thunder. It flashed again and again. Finally, a rumble of thunder followed. Sissy pushed her window down against the coming rain. In the next flash, Sissy saw the two cops walking past her window toward their car. They were deep in conversation. In the next flash, Sissy saw that they were having a heated argument. Both of them were waving their arms around and she could tell that they were shouting, but she could not distinguish the words. She inched her window carefully back up.

“I don’t care if Old Man Williams does have a treasure hidden somewhere, it’s not ours and we had no right to look for it. Our job is to simply report the death and our findings about the children and follow whatever orders we are given!” That was the blond cop, Harrison.

“Everyone knows Old Man Williams was rolling in dough. Why shouldn’t we get a cut of it?” the fat man pleaded. His voice was angry and whiney at the same time.

“We don’t know that. It was probably just a rumor made up by suspicious neighbors. Old man Williams was a weird one. He never spoke to anyone. You know how people can’t tolerate anything different.”

“Well, if we get sent back there, I’m having a look around. I just might, anyway.”

“You’d better not. You’d be breaking the law.”

“Why are you such a goody-goody, Harrison?”

“I’m not a goody-goody. I just think that some things are right and some are wrong. I want to be on the side of the good guys. That’s one reason I became a policemen. Listen, we’ve got to go report in.” They climbed into the squad car and the engine purred to a quiet, well-oiled start. The car rolled almost silently down the driveway and Sissy sat for a long time staring out the window. She wanted to get up and go wake Garryd and tell him what she had just heard, but she didn’t dare. She had promised her father not to go back to the cabin, and besides, it was starting to rain.

Big drops splashed against her window and spattered through the screen. Soon it was pouring. Lightning and thunder crashed, and the pines between Taylors’ and Sampsons’ lashed almost sideways. The wind and rain blowing through the window made Sissy shiver. She closed the window and snuggled down into the covers. The last thing she heard was the sound of Henrich Hamster the Third and Henrich Hamster the Fourth running in their wheels.

Chapter 16; P365-07W