Getting out of the woods turned out to be a lot easier than Andi had thought. Micah, Gideon, and Jenny moved with ease through the maze of trees and bushes that all looked the same to Andi. In no time at all, they were back on the road through the town.
Once back in the Grants' home, they were greeted by a worried Mother and Father.
“Where have you been? Where are the others?” Mr. Grant asked. Bit by bit, the story came out, and Mr. Grant seemed satisfied.
“Well, at least it’s the oldest boys gone in woods, not you. They’ll be back by tonight, or tomorrow morning. Have no worrie,s children. Off to bed with you!” There was a hurried scuttle towards the rooms, and soon they were in their beds.
* * * * *
After a few hours or so of sleeplessness, Andi rolled over.
Jenny looked at her. “You can’t sleep either?”
Andi shook her head. “No, I can’t stop worrying about the others. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t stop.”
Jenny squeezed her hand reassuringly, but her voice had worry in it too when she replied. “I’m sure they’ll be fine.”
Andi chewed her lip thoughtfully, an idea forming in her mind. “What if we went out and looked for them?”
Jenny jumped on the suggestion.“Yes, lets! What a wonderful idea!” They slipped out of bed, pulled on warm clothing, and crept down the stairs. Once they heard something, and both girls froze, but it stopped and didn’t happen again, so they continued.
At the door they shoved their feet into boots and tiptoed outside. The moon was full and lit up the path to the woods nicely, so the girls weren’t afraid. The only sound in the still night air was their shoes on the gravel path, and crickets singing softly in the night.
Andi shivered, whether from excitement or cold she wasn’t sure, but she found reassurance in squeezing Jenny’s hand. They soon came to the woods, and Jenny took out the lantern they had managed to smuggle on the way through the house. Andi gave her a match, and they got it lit.
Jenny led the way into the woods, and Andi’s pulse quickened as they worked their way through the narrow trails. Excitement mounted inside both girls as they walked through the wood. Jenny’s eyes darted around the trees, and she whispered to Andi different landmarks her and her brother’s made to help them through the woods.
On and on they went, getting further into the forest. Andi was thrilled, an adventure almost right away! She exchanged a confident smile with Jenny. “Just wait until we find them! They’ll be so surprised it’s us!”
Jenny laughed. “I still wish I could find them faster. Maybe we could both do a story to help pass time as we go through the woods.”
Andi nodded eagerly. “You start.”
Jenny licked her lips and started the story:
“It was a dark night, like this one, and two girls were making their way through a dangerous wood to help their father, who was the sheriff of Dusty Town, capture three renegades…” She stopped for a moment to think on the next line.
Andi shivered. “You should make it less creepy, you’re giving me the shivers!”
Jenny smiled. “Alright…let’s see…Ah! It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, and the birds were singing sweetly in the trees overhead as two girls skipped happily on the way to find their three brothers who had worked all afternoon chopping trees down to help the family buy food… That better?”
Andi rolled her eyes.
“Never mind, the other one was more adventurous.” Jenny laughed, and continued with the first story.
“Well, as I was saying: The two girls worked their way through the undergrowth to help their father capture the criminals. All of a sudden…”
Andi took the cue and jumped in enthusiastically.
“The moon broke through the clouds and the once-dark forest glimmered with a silvery light. The two girls stopped in awe and admired the beauty around them before continuing their journey, now with a light which they used to guide them through the maze of trees. One girl had to stop to remove a rock from her shoe, and the other stood guard over her as she stopped. Then suddenly…” Jenny took the cue and began again. “The light was gone, and utter darkness made it almost impossible to see again.”
Andi groaned. “And it was so nice for a while.”
Jenny grinned, but suddenly, a wisp of air got through the lantern walls. The flame flickered and went out. Jenny gasped, and Andi groaned again. “This is what happens when you change a nice story.” She sank onto the ground.
Jenny sighed. “Do you have another match?” she asked hopefully.
Andi shook her head, but then realized Jenny probably couldn’t see her.
“No.” she said aloud. “I thought one would be enough.”
Now it was Jenny’s turn to groan.
Andi put her chin in her hands and began to do serious thinking. “We could try yelling.”
“But everyone is asleep; I’d hate to wake anyone up.”
“It’s better than freezing out here in the dark, and besides that, worrying your parents.”
“Alright, it’s worth a try.” Andi groped for Jenny’s hand, and they stood up together.
“One…two…three…HELP!” they both shouted at the same time. Almost immediately, there was a response.
“WHO’S CALLING FOR HELP?” a voice drifted from somewhere in the woods. Andi exchanged a glance with Jenny’s silhouette.
“ANDREA CARTER AND JENNY GRANT!!” There was a cry of amazement somewhat closer, and the voice spoke again.
“JENNY? ARE YOU ALL SAFE?” Jenny gave a sort of gasp.
“IS THAT YOU, SETH?”
“YES! KEEP YELLING: WE’RE FOLLOWING YOUR VOICE!”
“ALRIGHT, I’M YELLING, BUT MY VOICE WILL GIVE OUT EVENTUALLY. DO YOU HAVE A LANTERN?”
“NO! DO YOU?”
“NO WE JUST HAD OURS GO OUT!” The voice came steadily nearer, and at last, Seth, Eli, and Mitch, looking a lot worse than that afternoon, came into view. The moon decided to come through the clouds just then, bathing the forest in silver light. Andi took a deep breath, and Jenny sighed with relief. Seth grabbed her hand, and Mitch hugged Andi quickly.
“We had better go while the going’s good; you can explain where Micah and Gideon are on the way.” Seth said, pulling Jenny after him. Eli followed and Mitch dragged Andi in the back.