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NickerNews Wovel, Chapter Two

Published: 10/28/2009
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To read Chapter One, click here.

[The story picks up on the trail, as Jean and Lily head out alone for a ride in the Towas National Forest.]

By Maddy Butcher Gray

...Jean maintained a steady dialogue with Lily. It was a strategy she’d used since she was a girl to calm and distract her horse. Heck, it'd been a way to calm and distract herself in those days when she had less faith in her abilities.
But then something interrupted the conversation.
Or, rather, it was the lack of something that interrupted the conversation.
All of a sudden, things were still. The birds had stopped chattering. The quiet gave Jean and Lily pause. Jean leaned back slightly and pulled up her horse to a halt.
They looked around the woods, then peered into the shadows of the forest. They listened. The tops of the trees rustled but there was little else. Not even the squirrels chittered.
Then, a hundred feet ahead, there was a rush of brown from behind a downed tree. Then a cat yowl and Jean saw a flash of a mountain lion.
Two big masses – one tan and one nearly black rushed off at opposite angles.
Lily coiled underneath her - obedient but urgent in her desire to flee. She listened to Jean who was silently telling her to stay put.
She and Lily (an agitated Lily who pranced slightly in her place) watched the big animals sprint through the trees. They bobbed and angled like combat soldiers dodging bullets.
“All right, girl,” said Jean in as soothing a voice as she could manage. “They’re gone. For now, anyway.”
She wondered what the predators were doing right before she and her horse spooked them.
Jean asked Lily to move off the trail towards the spot where she had first seen the cat and bear.
They walked through underbrush and over a few downed trees. Ten yards ahead, she spotted a freshly killed deer.
She dismounted and got a better look. It was a big buck, a nine-pointer weighing over 200 pounds, she guessed. She couldn’t tell from the wounds which animal had killed it. She was no game warden and, to be honest, she didn’t quite have the stomach for it this day.
It took a few seconds to figure out what had just whizzed before their eyes.
But here’s what happened, Jean theorized: the bear had likely killed it. Then a mountain lion had come across the bear and his prize and was attempting to fight for a piece of it when Jean and Lily had shown up.
It could have been the other way around, with the bear smelling out the cat’s prize, Jean wasn’t sure.
  She was sure that if they had been hungrier, more desperate, or just plain meaner, the predators might have stayed to defend and claim the carcass. But, this time anyway, neither did.

“I suspect they’ll be back,” Jean told her mare.
They got back on the trail. It might have been the most exciting and surprising start to any trail ride they’d ever had. And for a second, Jean considered returning to the ranch to settle down, replay those few crazy moments and see if she could draw more detail from her recollection.
“Well, heck,” she laughed. “We’ll have plenty of time to tell our tales. Let’s head up to Hollow Top.”

Click here for Chapter Three
Jean and Lily find company on Hollow Top Mountain...

View Reader Comments:

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So far, so good.
10/29/2009 Sue
I want to hear more the adventures of Maddy!
8/17/2011 Jessie
Bravo! Can't wait to ride along for the rest of Jean and Lily's adventures!

"The ears never lie" - Don Burt