"Adventure in the Woods of Visalia"
“Andi, come to the chuck wagon! Cook wants you,” said Levi, panting as he ran up.
“What does he want me for?” asked Andi, who was feeding the horses.
“Don’t know, but if I were you I would hurry ‘cause Cook is in a bad mood.”
Andi put down her bucket and ran to the chuck wagon.
“Girl, I need you to go and get some fire wood for me,” Cook said, obviously annoyed at something. “Be back in 30 minutes.”
“Yes sir!” exclaimed Andi, glad to finally get a chance to explore the woods. “Should Levi come?”
“No, I need him here,” Cook growled.
“Alright,” Andi replied.
The sun was already beginning to set as Andi skipped happily towards the horses. She walked over to Taffy, her palomino mare, and grabbed the rope that was wrapped around her saddle horn. She thought to herself: It will be easier to tie up the wood with a rope, than to carry it loose.
As she walked off, Chad was speaking to the cowhands, “We are going to stay here for tonight. We’ll travel around the forest tomorrow; we can’t bring the cattle and the horses through it. Hopefully we will reach Visalia by tomorrow afternoon.”
Andi ran towards the woods, eager to explore. If I hurry and gather the firewood, then I should have about ten minutes to explore! That will leave a few minutes for me to get back, Andi thought to herself as she neared the woods. She walked briskly deep into the forest and quickly gathered a pile of dry sticks and a few small logs.
|A great climbing tree!|
She tied up the firewood and carried it with her to the foot of a tall oak tree. This looks like a good climbing tree! Andi thought. I will be able to see for miles from the top of this tree. Andi was a good climber and she was at the top within minutes.
“Wow!” she said aloud. “I can see the cowhands way over there behind me! They look so small!”
In front of her was a big expanse of trees, a small strip of land, and in the distance another small expanse of trees. Andi sat on the branch for a few moments, soaking up the beauty of the forest. The sun was slowly sinking behind the trees.
Suddenly, she heard a noise. SNAP! It sounded like a stick breaking. What was that? Andi looked down, but she couldn’t see anything. “It was probably just an animal,” she said aloud. She climbed slowly down from the tree and looked around. Still, she couldn’t see anything. “It must have run away fast, whatever it was!” murmured Andi as she picked up her bundle of firewood and started back toward the camp.
Suddenly a man jumped out from behind a tree, grabbed Andi, and clamped his hand over her mouth.
Andi gave a muffled scream. “Let me go!”
“Not a chance! I can get some good money for a girl like you. You look like you could work hard!” the man said with a smirk.
Andi struggled to get out of his grasp.
The man slapped her in across the cheek. “Stop struggling you brat!” he said. He stuffed a gag into Andi’s mouth. He held onto her firmly with one hand, he pulled a rope off his shoulder with the other.
Andi struggled and kicked, trying to break free of his grasp. But he was strong, and he succeeded in tying her up with the rope.
He then tied her to a tree. “I will be back in a minute,” he growled. “You can’t break free.” He walked several yards away, stepped behind a tree and picked something up.
Just as he reached down, Andi saw someone peek out from behind a tree. It was Levi! Please get help! she thought as she looked at Levi, a sense of urgency in her eyes.
Levi looked her in the eye and then ran quietly away.
Andi’s kidnapper returned carrying a pistol. “Now, you try and get away, and you’ll regret it,” he said, pointing the pistol at Andi’s head.
Please get help, Levi! she thought as she nodded at her kidnapper, a scared look in her eyes.
“We’ll be going as soon as my brother Horace gets here with my horse.” A few minutes later, a man in his twenties showed up with two horses. Andi assumed that he was Horace, the man’s brother and partner in crime. “Lookee here Horace, I’ve got myself something to sell in Los Angeles!” the man exclaimed. “She’ll bring in some good cash!”
“Well, Oren, what did I tell you. Somehow we’d get some extra cash,” replied Horace with a grin.
“Wait a second,” Oren said. “Where does we come into the picture? The cash will be comin’ to me!”
“I thought we were partners,” Horace said indignantly.
“We will both be gettin’ a share in the profits from the gold, but you ain’t gettin’ nothin’ from this gal,” Oren said, in a very firm tone.
“Oh whatever, let’s get going, man.”
“Right. I’ll take the girl on my horse. Let’s go to the hideout and then we’ll start travelin later tonight.” Oren untied Andi from the tree, and pushed her over his saddle.
He and Horace jumped up onto their horses and started towards their hideout. They rode in silence for a few minutes, twisting and turning, this way and that.
Andi felt sick, the saddle jamming into her stomach with every step.
Suddenly, Oren stopped. “What was that?” he whispered. “It sounded like hoof beats!”
“Quick, we’ve got to hide somewhere,” said Horis frantically.
“There is nowhere to hide,” replied Oren. “We’ll have to run.”
Oren and Horace wheeled their horses around and galloped into the forest, pistols in hand. As they started galloping, so did the horses that they had heard.
Please, Lord let it be Chad and Mitch! Andi prayed. And please don’t let me be sick!
The hoof beats drew closer and closer, and Oren and Horis started to panic. “Where can we go?” Horace asked.
Just then a shot rang out in the forest and a voice shouted, “Drop your guns now!” Six men on horseback (Chad and Mitch among them) surrounded Oren, Andi, and Horace.
Thank you Lord! Andi thought.
“I said, drop your guns,” Chad repeated sternly, his gun pointed at them. Mitch and the other men had their guns pointed at Oren and Horace too.
Oren dropped his gun and his brother followed suit.
Chad dismounted and walked over to Oren’s horse. He untied Andi and lifted her down. Mitch and the other men still had their guns pointed at Oren and Horace, who had their hands in the air.
Chad pulled out the gag and said, “Andi, are you okay?!”
“Yes, I think so, apart from my stomach,” said Andi shakily.
“Well, I’m sure glad Levi came and got us,” Chad said with a sigh. He helped Andi onto his horse and then turned to Oren and Horace. “Mitch, help me tie them up,” he ordered.
Suddenly, Horace galloped off through a gap in the ring of men, leaving Oren by himself. Oren tried to escape but the men closed in around him. Three of the men went after Horace but were unable to catch him. Meanwhile, Chad and Mitch tied Oren up.
Chad climbed onto his horse behind Andi, holding the rope to Oren’s horse. By the time they reached their camp, it was dark and the rest of the men had finished supper.
Levi ran up as soon as he saw Chad, Andi, and the other men. “Phew, I’m so glad you’re safe Andi,” he said with a sigh of relief. “I was so worried that the man would do something to you before I could get help!”
“Thanks for getting help. I don’t know what would of happened, had it not been for you, Levi,” Andi said. As Andi lay down that night, she looked up at the stars. “Thank you, God, for protecting me today,” she prayed as she drifted off to sleep.