Mandy lead the way along the creek and Austin and Melissa followed behind, "Slow up Mandy!" Yelled Melissa. Mandy looked behind her and saw that Melissa and Austin had fallen behind quite a distance so she set her backpack down and sat on the ground to wait for them to catch up. While Mandy waited she noted that Melissa was walking very close the bank of the stream, when suddenly Melissa lost her footing and screamed as she slipped off the bank of the creek. A loud splashing sound followed instantly.
Mandy jumped up and ran down to help Melissa hoping she was not hurt. At the stream Mandy found Melisa sitting in the cold stream trying to get up. Austin hung over the bank trying to reach Melissa without falling in the water himself, but his arms were too short. Mandy reached out and grabbed Melissa pulling her back up onto the bank.
"You all right?" She asked. "Yea, I slipped on that loose rock there," replied Melissa scowling at the rock as if it knew better. "Anything feel broke or bleeding?" Questioned Mandy. "No, I'm ok just bruised and wet," sighed Melissa as she wiped the mud off her pants.
"Well we can rest here until you're feeling better. Can I get you anything? Asked Mandy. "Some dry clothes." Replied Melisa with a smirk.
"I'm glad you're not hurt. If you're feeling better we should get going and maybe we should close up the gap between us a little," ordered Mandy. "I mean we should stay close together like Dad said just in case something does happen," stated Mandy trying not to sound like she was being bossy.
The three of them started up the path, "Hey!" Yelled Mandy. "My packs gone! I know I left it here.
Are you sure, or did you leave it back at the rock?" Asked Melissa. "No I'm sure I had it with me I set it down on the ground to wait for you two."
"We have to find the pack it has the map and Austin's and my lunch in it," moaned Mandy. The three of them looked all around where Mandy thought she left the pack when she jumped up to help Melissa and they couldn't find it anywhere. "You don't think it fell in the creek and floated down stream do you?" Asked Austin.
"I don't know, maybe, but it couldn't of just grown legs and walked out of here," replied Mandy. "Maybe in the excitement you knocked it in the creek with your feet and we'll find it on the way home stuck on a rock or tree trunk in the stream?" Stated Melissa.
"I don't know we might find it downstream, but Mom is sure going to be upset if I lose that pack, even though it's an old one she doesn't like it when we lose stuff," replied Mandy.
"Are we gonna have to stop and go home now Mandy?" Asked Austin. "Naw, little buddy I don't think so I have most of the map memorized and there's nothing else in that old pack except our lunches, besides Melissa's got stuff in her pack we can eat and you probably wouldn't have eaten your sandwich anyway," stated Mandy. "You're probably right," replied Austin then he suddenly blurted. "But Melissa's got cookies in her pack doesn't she? Yes Austin," she replied smiling and taking his hand to lead the way.
"Lizzy we hit the jack pot. Look what she got in this ole pack." Lizzy looked down at Tommy digging through the pack and her tummy growled. She saw two sandwiches in plastic bags with thick slices of ham and cheese between two slices of golden brown wheat bread. Tommy pulled out a bag with a half a dozen Oreo cookies and he squealed like a little piglet getting ready to eat a hardy meal. Also in the pack were two silver foiled fruit drinks.
Lizzy put her head down and started praying out loud. Tommy quickly swallowed his cookie bowed his head and closed his eyes and listened to Lizzy pray. "God, were sorry we stole from them kids, but we thank you for providing them and their lunch. Please help Tommy and I to stay together and find a new home with people that love us like our real Mom and Dad did. Amen. Me too God Amen," chimed Tommy.
Hungrily, the children feasted in silence both savoring the long lost taste of real home food, the type their Mom used to make for them, so long ago. Lizzy ate one cookie but insisted Tommy eat the rest telling him that she was full, but really wanting him to have the extra treat for himself.
She thought to herself that it had been three days since they had eaten something as filling as this meal and she worried about tomorrow and the tomorrow after that. What am I going to do? She thought. We can't just keep wandering like this eating out of garbage cans and looking for handouts or worse stealing. What have I done? What kind of sister am I? Maybe, we should have stayed at the house and waited to see what happened when Children Services arrived, but everyone said they would split us up and the Social Worker said herself. I couldn't bear to leave Tommy, she thought, there has to be a way for us to stay together. Oh God help us. Help me to find something for Tommy before something goes wrong.
Lizzy's concentration was broken when she realized Tommy was shaking her by the shoulder. "Lizzy, Lizzy what ya thinken about? Nothing," she replied. "Tommy ya know them kids said they were heading for a Cabin some place. We better hurry up and try to catch up to them. That cabin may come in handy we need a dry place to sleep and hide out. Come on pick up that trash and put it in the pack and let's go.
Should I bring the pack with us?" Asked Tommy. "Yea, you never know when we might need something to put food in or something. Never throw nothing out Tommy ya never know when you might need something. I remember Mom telling me that enough times."
"Mandy, how much farther is it to the Cabin?" Moaned Austin. "Not too much farther… I think," murmured Mandy. The path was steadily climbing and the creek seemed to be flowing faster a low humming or roaring sound was coming from in front of the explorers. The sound was low and seemed to grow louder with each step they took forward.
Soon, Melissa came up behind Mandy and said. "Mandy, what's that noise we're hearing? I think it's the water fall Dad told us about," she replied. As the three children stepped out around an old thick Hemlock tree they looked up and saw the source of the roaring sound.
Grayish white water rushed and spilled over the top of a cliff cascading off the rocks that jolted out as it fell some thirty feet down into a cloud of mist partially hiding the dark pool of churning misty water. Piles of dirty foam drifted down stream forever lost in the fast flowing current.
"Wow!" Stated Mandy. "You can say that again," replied Melissa. "Wow!" Chimed Austin. "It's fantastic," exclaimed Mandy. "Did you know it was this big?" Asked Melissa. "No," replied Mandy.
"Look, you guys! There's a opening in the corner where the two walls meet," yelled Austin as he raced past the girls to get a better look. "Austin!" Yelled Mandy. Austin slid to a stop and looked a Mandy with a puzzled look on his face. "What?"
"The shore line look it's all covered with moss, you can't run up to the banks like that and not watch what you're doing. If you fall in that pool there isn't anyone that can get you out." But what do you suppose that opening is?" Asked Austin.
"It sort of looks like a cave," replied Melissa. "Cool, I wonder if there is a way to get down into it." quizzed Austin. The cave opening was down in the lower corner of the falls and was just large enough to let a single person enter. The opening was completely surrounded by water and couldn't be accessed without going swimming in the dark cold swirling water far below.
"Are you nuts Austin? We don't know what's down there and if the opening even leads anywhere," chided Mandy. "It could lead to a deep hole that you could fall into and never get out."
"Gee, thanks for the nice scary visual Mandy," murmured Austin. "I bet Dad doesn't even know this opening is here," sated Mandy "and I'm sure he wouldn't want us nosing around without him being here either."
"Yea, I know," replied Austin "But, it sure would be neat to check it out though. There could be Indian stuff in there, maybe even some bones or something," he continued.
"Now I'm getting the creeps, this place is scary enough with it being so dark and the noise from the water fall you can't hear anything but the rushing water. Let alone talking about an Indian burial grounds," complained Melissa.
"Cool you think there's an Indian burial ground here too?" Asked Austin. "No! It's just you said there might be Indians bones or something in that cave and where there's Indians bones there's an Indian burial grounds," replied Melissa. "Yea, and spooky stuff," remarked Mandy. "Umm, Mandy maybe we should get back to looking for that cabin after all, you agree?" Asked Austin.
Mandy smiled and pointed towards a path leading up around some huge gray boulders. The path wound its way up through the rocks to the top of the waterfall. "Come on," she yelled trying to be heard over the noise of the falls. "Let's go this way and see where the path leads."
The other two explorers fell in behind Mandy who lead the way around the huge boulders left there from an ancient ice age. "Whew!" exclaimed Melissa. "This is a long climb up." The other two weary travelers just nodded their heads in agreement they were too exhausted to speak.
Soon the three of them reached the top of the falls and were amazed at the view. "You can see for miles up here," stated Mandy. "Look!" Yelled Austin as he pointed to the sky above them.
A single large Eagle soared in a large circle high above the children, the eagle let out a loud single screech. "What do you suppose he's trying to say from up there?" Asked Austin. "He's probably saying to get out of here your scaring away my dinner," remarked Melissa.
The Eagle remained high in the sky circling and calling out from time to time as if searching or warning something. "That is so cool to see an Eagle. I've never seen one in the wild like this," explained Melissa.
"You'll see a lot of animals you don't normally see around here," replied Austin. "Yea it's like a virtual zoo around here," agreed Mandy.
The three children happy about seeing such a rare large bird looked out and from the top of the falls they could see rolling hills and other farms dotting the hill sides miles away. Also, from their vantage point they could see the dark woods they had just come out of, it looked like a patchwork green Quilt thrown out to cover the pale green hay and young wheat fields. It was cooling seeing the tops of the trees never seen by the explorers before.
"Look!" Exclaimed Austin. "You can see Dad on his tractor way out in the far right field." The tractor looked like one of Austin's toy tractors because it looked so small from such a distance.
Seeing and knowing her Dad was not too far away made Mandy feel better and a little safer. "This is awesome," exclaimed Austin. "You can see for miles." Then, Austin's attention was quickly caught by something on the ground. He bent down to look at it and noted it wasn't anything loose like the arrowhead he'd found earlier that day, but rather it was some kind of carving in the stone they were standing on.
Austin traced the carving with his fingers whispering to himself each letter as his finger followed it. CARROLL. Carroll he mumbled to himself. "CARROLL, what kind of Indian name is that," he yelled.
Startled by Austin's remarks the girls jerked back. "Austin! What are you doing yelling like that?" Screamed Mandy. "Look," he yelled from down on the ground. "There's writing carved in the stone."
Both girls got down on their knees beside Austin and looked at the faded carvings. The carvings were so worn from years of wind and rain it was difficult to make out each letter.
"Your right Austin it does say Carroll," agreed Melissa. "Let's see if there are any more around here, but be careful not to get to close the edge of the water and the falls," warned Mandy.
Melissa found the next name it was George. Then they found the name Amy and Seth. "Who do you think put these names here?" Asked Austin. "Better yet when did they put them here?" Chimed Melissa.
"I don't know," replied Mandy "But, you can tell it wasn't Indians by the names here. Maybe it was Pioneers traveling west and they stopped here to camp or maybe they had problems with their wagon and had to stay here while they fixed it. Better yet, maybe the pioneers got attacked by a wild band of Indians and had to fight to the death and carved their names in here so they would be remembered," explained Austin.
"Geez's Austin, you've been reading to many westerns," chided Mandy. "Well, they could of," stated Austin. "More than likely they lived here and carved their names in the rocks to make someone wonder where they came from," explained Mandy. "Maybe, it wasn't anything more than a big joke, or they're like us exploring and wanted to leave something to let folks know they were hear." she added.
"I know! We can look up the deed records at the county court house and find out who lived in this house since it's been built." Explained Melissa. "That's a great idea," remarked Mandy.
"Maybe we can do it later this week. I know Mom wanted us to go to the library this week. I bet she'll let us go to the court house if we asked," said Austin. "Yea she might even count it as a book report or something," agreed Mandy. "This is going to be the coolest summer," chimed Austin.
"Hey! We better get a move on if we're going to find that cabin today," stated Mandy. The three explorers were so lost in the search for names carved in the rocks by the falls they had forgotten their quest to find the missing cabin. Mandy jumped from rock to rock to cross over the stream, while the others followed. According to her Dad there was supposed to be a small path leading from the falls through a meadow following the creek. She thought to herself and wondered if her Dad knew about the carvings. He must not have known or he would have told me. Who do those names belong too and how long have they been there?