“I am sure this is all exciting and everything, but shouldn’t we start doing something?” Mitch asked. There was a moment of silence, then Seth frowned thoughtfully.
“I suppose we can, but what are we going to do first?” There was another silence, and finally Gideon spoke.
“Could we go to the woods?” he asked hopefully. The Grants looked at Andi and Mitch.
Andi grinned. “Yes, let's!”
Gideon bounced up and down on his chair in excitement, and kept saying “hurrah” over and over again.
Andi, Mitch, and the Grants all pulled on their boots, slipped into jackets, and went out the door after Seth left a note on the table for Mrs. Grant letting her know where they were going.
As they got out of town and further into the “wilderness,” Andi breathed deeply. The air was moist and sweet. She smiled to herself; she knew she was really going to enjoy this stay.
Jenny walked next to Andi and pointed out certain birds, flowers, and trees that she would want to know about.“That’s a maple tree. They usually drop a lot of leaves in the fall. They make the best leaf piles for jumping into, because they're nice and soft, not prickly like the fir and spruce trees. There’s a robin! They're said to be the first signs of spring. Around here they sometimes come as early as January . . . maybe even December. They’re always ahead of the other birds! Also, there’s a goldfinch. Those birds are really pretty; I love their bright, cheery colors.” Jenny stopped to catch her breath as they climbed a large hill, and Andi heard Micah give a laugh behind them.
“Jenny loves everything about all birds!” he said with a grin. “Don’t ask her for favorites.”
Andi laughed.“Alright, I won’t! I feel the same way about horses. I love all horses in general, but I must say Taffy is my favorite.”
Gideon, who was walking next to Micah, tilted his head. “Can you tell me about your horse?” he asked curiously. Andi smiled, but before she said anything, Jenny broke in.
“Oh, yes she would like to tell you about Taffy! But be careful…” Jenny shook a finger at Gideon in mock severity. “Once you get her going about her horse, she’ll go forever!”
Mitch grunted.“Yeah, you got that right. Every day at our house it's ‘Taffy this’ and ‘Taffy that’. I can’t believe she can find so many things to say about one horse!” There was a general laugh. Up ahead, Eli and Seth called out that they were to the woods.
Andi looked in awe at the cedar and Douglas fir trees towering above her. They seemed to reach up to the very sky. She could hardly drag her eyes away from them long enough to make sure she didn’t trip over roots or the sword and bracken fern taht covered the ground.
Mitch whistled in admiration. “These trees sure are tall.”
Andi nodded mutely, unable to say anything.
Gideon pulled on Andi’s coat.“I want to show you our cave!” he said excitedly, but somewhat mysteriously. Andi’s curiosity was aroused. A cave?
“Lead the way, Gideon!” she said. He bounded ahead with Micah. Seth and Eli fell back with Mitch. Soon the three of them were in a deep discussion over ranch stuff and sawmill stuff, so the girls followed Micah and Gideon further into the woods, leaving the older boys far behind.
Suddenly, there in front of them, was a cave. Gideon popped out of it with a wide grin. “I found it myself, and Micah helped me sweep the floors and make it ready for company.”
Micah stepped out of the cave. “Please, ladies, come in and make yourselves comfortable.” He said in an over-done gentleman’s voice.
Jenny rolled her eyes. “Stop that,” she said, lightly punching Micah on his shoulder. “Just let us in!” He laughed, but held aside the ivy for Andi and Jenny to step in. Gideon lit a well-used candle, and Andi looked around in amazement, as did Jenny.
“You did a great job on this cave,” she exclaimed in admiration. Jenny nodded.
“When did you find it?” she asked, her voice echoing through the cavern. Gideon thought for a moment.
“About a month ago, I think.” He said. Micah shrugged.
“Yeah, about then, we had lots of fun working on it too!” Gideon nodded.
“We stored some food in here as well, the cave keeps it cool, and it stays fresh!” Andi exchanged a look with Jenny.
“Food?” she asked. The boys nodded.
“Yeah.” Micah gave Gideon a remember-your-manners nudge, and Gideon scooted
Gideon came back with a basket full of some bread, crackers, and a jar of jam, some tea, coffee, and a kettle to boil water in. Micah left when Gideon came in, and while Gideon prepared the tea, bread and jam, Micah came back with a table cloth. He set down plates that were only slightly cracked.
A delightful feast began. Andi ate everything in front of her. Once done, she gave a satisfied sigh, and declared the meal was the best she had ever had. Micah and Gideon seemed pleased.
The meal was finished and cleaned up when Jenny suddenly spoke. “I wonder where Seth and Eli are. Shouldn’t they be here by now?”
A look of worry came to Andi’s face. “What about Mitch? Where are they?”
Micah gasped. “I don’t think they know where we are,” he exclaimed. “We kept the cave a secret so we could surprise you.”
Jenny moaned, and Andi bit her lip.
“What are we going to do?” Gideon asked in dismay.
Micah frowned thoughtfully. “Let’s go home.”
“And leave them out here searching for us?” Andi asked.
Micah remained calm. “They’ll be fine.” He stated matter-of-factly. “It’s us I’m worried about. We need to get home before dar, or Mother will worry. Seth and Eli know the woods better than Gideon and me. And they’re a lot older than any of us. Don’t worry. We’ll be home soon. C’mon!”