THE TRUE HARVEST OF MY DAILY LIFE IS SOMEWHAT AS INTANGIBLE AND INDESCRIBABLE AS THE TINTS OF MORNING OR EVENING. IT IS A LITTLE STARDUST CAUGHT, A SEGMENT OF THE RAINBOW WHICH I HAVE CLUTCHED
-HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Chapter One: LOST
"Poor Lady," whispered Emily. Spider webs matted over the pony's twitching nose. She had been riding all the long summer afternoon with her older sister Hannah and cousin Kellie. In the steamy heat of the day, the slow steady beat of the horse's hooves felt like sleep walking. She was drowsy, and her thoughts drifted to her dream of last night. Another rainbow! She wanted to tell Hannah and Kellie about her dream, but was startled to see the forest trail changing fast. The woods were deeper, and the shadows longer. Emily gulped down a welcome breath of cooler air, but a shiver of uncertainty moved up her spine.
The girls were in trouble. They misjudged the time left before sundown, and even with map and compass, they made a wrong turn somewhere. Now the trail was all downhill with river scenting the air. They were determined to push on, but the deep woods put up a barrier as they struggled with overgrown tangles that snagged, poked, and scratched. Rocks on the steep slope rolled and turned underfoot. Hannah gave Gracie free rein, allowing her to find her balance on the sliding rocks. The steady gray mare seemed intent in this direction, and Hannah had confidence in her determined attitude. Gracie was a horse that could take care of them, and her senses seemed fixed on taking them to water, the river. Hannah knew if they could make it down to the river where the horses could drink, they could build a fire on the the bank and find help. They needed to stop and rest.
Kellie and Hannah worked with the horses nearly every day and were experienced riders. Hrimnir followed Kellie around almost like a puppy. Gracie had too much dignity for that, but the mare followed Hannah's every move with her eyes. All three loved Emily's pinto pony. They had all learned to ride on Lady. It was too bad that they chosen this day to venture out in a new direction, because eight year-old Emily was with them on a big ride for the first time. She had begged her parents to let her come along. If Emily became really frightened, would the other girls lose their nerve?
Soon they saw a path that led off to the left just ahead. It was narrow and descended sharply, but strange, it looked smooth and well-traveled! The girls knew to be cautious of strangers. What now? Kellie dreaded that since she was the oldest, she should be the one to know what to do. Yet a small panic was welling up in her, and it was something she did not want the others to see. Now in the light mist she could smell the river. Maybe she could spot it down this path.
"Well? What do you think we should do? Huh, Hannah?"
"You're asking me? I haven't gotten over taking a wrong turn yet."
"Oh forget that now. Look, it's steep, wait here with the horses and I'll walk down to see where this path goes."
"Pleeeease...don't get out of sight!" Hannah begged.
"Maybe it's time to call home." Emily offered sheepishly.
"What??" The older girls turned on her.
Emily's smile was mischievous. "Dad said it was my first big ride so I needed to tuck the cell phone in my saddlebag or I couldn't come along."
The three looked at each other and started to laugh, but just then Gracie tossed her head up at something moving on the path. Hrimnir picked up on it and called alarm. There, watching them amid the dense forest, stood an old man and a dog.