“Well,” Ava Anne said impatiently, “what is it, Mary Caroline?”
Mary Caroline’s grin was growing and her eyes seemed to hold a secret. She waited for a dramatic pause, encouraging her cousins to stare at her impatiently.
“The adventure I want to take you on is very dangerous. We will travel through the deep, dark, forest,” Mary Caroline said.
“Why are we going through the deep, dark forest?” Savannah Lynn asked. Her eyebrows were furrowed and she swallowed one loud gulp.
Mary Caroline sighed. “Because we are going on an adventure,” she said. “How else will we find a rare new animal that lives in a deep, dirty cave?”
Hunter Thomas raised his eyebrows and smiled. “A new animal? Like, a snake! O-ah a wizard?”
Mary Caroline looked confused. “A wizard? Wizards are not animals, Hunter.”
“He means a lizard,” Ava Anne corrected her cousin’s error.
“Whatever. Are we going on an adventure or not?” Mary Caroline was growing impatient.
Ava Anne looked out of the corner of her eye at Savannah Lynn.
“Let’s do it!”
Mary Caroline led the way down the ladder, on the rope, and across the yard to the deep, dark forest.
“First, everyone needs a stick,” Mary Caroline instructed.
Hunter Thomas was already carrying one very large stick. He was swinging it and hitting trees and bushes with it.
“Ok, now remember, there are lots of animals and maybe a few monsters in here, so watch out,” Mary Caroline warned as she stepped into the deep, dark forest.”
The four cousins walked cautiously, slowly taking each step. Hunter Thomas was very occupied with searching the ground for a “deep, dirty cave” with a “rare new animal.” Savannah Lynn’s eyes scanned the whole forest again, and again, hoping the “rare new animal” would be small and on the ground.
Suddenly, when everyone was looking different directions, Mary Caroline stopped dead in her tracks. She held her arms out to signal everyone else to stop. Savannah Lynn’s eyes grew with suspense.
“A wizard?!” Hunter Thomas exclaimed in a half whisper.
Mary Caroline motioned with her eyes and her head. In the leaves and weeds near her feet was a snake. It was as still as the cousins were, waiting for them to pass by. Slowly, slowly, Hunter Thomas crept past Mary Caroline and out of the snake’s vision. From behind, he crept ever closer until he was finally within reach of the back of the snake’s neck. Hunter Thomas was a great snake catcher.
“Gotcha!” Hunter Thomas exclaimed as he leaped forward, one hand holding a stick and one hand holding a snake.
“YAY!” The girls cheered.
“We captured the rare new animal!” Savannah Lynn said.
“Let’s take him back to the Mulberry House,” Ava Anne suggested.
The successful troop nearly marched back through the deep, dark forest. They emerged from the trees to the sound of Momma’s voice calling for lunch-time.
“Macaroni and cheese for lunch,” Momma called.
“A rare new animal for a pet!” Mary Caroline called back.
The cousins could hardly wait for their after lunch adventures to come.