The two sisters moved through the woods on their way to their grandmother’s house. Their mother had been reluctant to allow them to go alone, since there were many dangerous creatures in the woods, and she was afraid that they were going to be hurt. But they promised that they would be careful and quick, and they would stay stay inside their grandmother’s house when they got there, so none of the dangerous things could harm them.
Reluctantly, their mother had agreed, and they went quickly, laughing as they went along.
“What do you think we will do when we get there?” Onyx (the younger of the two) said. “Do you think Grandmother will play with us?”
“I’m sure she will,” Camille said. “Doesn’t she always?”
“Yes,” Onyx said, “but she might decide that she doesn’t want to this time. She might be too tired.”
“Don’t be silly,” Camille said. “She’s never too tired for us. We are going to have a great time.”
Picking up some speed, they nearly ran to get there, and when they made it, they burst through the door without knocking.
“Grandmother,” Camille called. ‘We’re here. Where are you?”
“I’m here,” she said, and she came out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.
“What were you doing?” Onyx said. “What is that smell?”
“The two of you are just in time,” Grandmother said. “I’ve just put some cookies into the oven. One of you get some cups, and the other get the milk. When they are done baking, and they have cooled off, we will taste them to make sure they are good.”
“They must be,” Camille said. “They smell like they are.”
Then, the two of them hurried into he kitchen and got the milk and plates ready. Then, they waited impatiently, asking many times when the cookies would be ready.
Their grandmother sat them down at the table, but the squirmed in their seats, getting up more than once and starting to move closer to her.
Finally, they were ready, and the three of them sat down at the table, eating away at the cookies that Grandmother had made. All the while, they told her about the things that had happened to them since the last time they had seen her; they told her of the bright red birds that had made a nest in a nearby tree (and the babies that were making so much noise), about their friends and the trades they made with them, and they told her all about their little brother.
When they were done, they helped their grandmother clean up (getting everything washed and dried and put away), and when they were finished, they spent the rest of the afternoon playing games (hide and seek, tag, card games . . .).
It was nearly dark when they realized how long they had been there, and their grandmother said she would walk them back home; it wouldn’t be safe for them to be out after dark by themselves.
She got a lamp and a coat, and the three of them strode back home, their grandmother watching and listening for anything dangerous that might be following them.
She was relieved when the house came into sight, and the girls ran to the front door but stopped before opening it up. They looked at the door, and then, they looked back at their grandmother.
“What is it, girls?” Grandmother said. “What’s wrong?”
“The door is broken,” Camille said, and she pointed.
When Grandmother came up to the door, she saw that Camille had been right. The door was had been torn off its hinges and propped back up to look like everything was still alright.
Grandmother stood at the door, unsure of what she should do. She would need to go inside and make sure that everything was alright, but if there was something in there that might frighten the girls, she didn’t want them to accidentally see anything. She also didn’t want to leave them outside, where any of the creatures that lived in the woods might get to them.
Taking a deep breath, Grandmother positioned both of the girls behind her and pushed on the door, which fell onto the floor with a crash. Then, she called out to their mother, letting her know who was there so she wouldn’t be frightened by the sound the door had made and think that someone had come to the house to hurt her.
But their mother did not respond.
So, she called out again, and there was still no response.
That was not good.
“Come along, girls,” Grandmother said. “We are going inside, but if I tell you to cover your eyes, you make sure you do it quick.”
They both nodded in agreement, and the three of them went inside.
They searched all of the house, but Mother was not there. She was gone, and it looked like someone had broken into the house, and she had fought with them.
“Where is Mom?” Onyx said, starting to cry. “Why isn’t she here?”
“I don’t know, darling,” Grandmother said, “but it’s probably a good idea if we don’t stay here.”
Going back to the front door, they walked over it and went outside. Then, Grandmother set down her lamp and tried to pull the door back upright, hoping that might keep any animals out of the house.
Then, the three of them hurried (nearly ran) back to Grandmother’s house, locking the door behind them.
“Where is Mom?” Onyx said again. “I want her.”
“So do I,” C amille said.
“I wish that I knew,” Grandmother said, “but we can’t do anything about it tonight. It’s too dark for us to figure out anything. We will have to wait until the morning, when we can see better.”
“What will we do then?” Camille said.
“We will find one of the woodsmen,” Grandmother said, “and we will see if he can figure out what might have broken down the door and fought with your mother.” Neither of the girls looked happy about that; they both wanted to do something right then. “Until the sun comes up, it’s probably a good idea for the two of you to try and get some sleep. Come into the spare room and get changed, and I’ll tuck the two of you in.”
“But we’re not tired,” Camille said.
“You may not be right now,” Grandmother said, “but you will be in a little while, and if you don’t sleep, you will be very tired in the morning. How will you help me after the sun comes up, if you are too busy trying to stay awake?”
The two of them did not look completely convinced, but they went into the spare room, got ready, and went to bed, laying awake for a long time.
“We have to figure out what we’re going to do to help Mom,” Onyx whispered. “No one else is oing to do better at finding her than we will.”
“How are we going to find her?” Camille said.
“Well . . .” Onyx said, thinking of what might be done. “I’m not sure yet, but I’ll think of something.”
“I’ll try to think of something as well,” Camille said. “Between the two of us, one of us is bound to come up with something.”
The two of them lay awake, trying to come up with a plan that would help them save their mother from whatever danger she was in, but they fell asleep long before either of them could think of anything.
The sun was bright in the morning, and it was the sunlight coming in through the window that woke Camille. She rubbed her eyes and stretched before she shook Onyx awake. At first, Onyx didn’t want to wake up, but then, she remembered what had happened the night before, and she opened her eyes and sat up.
“Did you think of anything?” Onyx said. “I didn’t.”
“No, I couldn’t think of anything,” Camille said. “Let’s go find Grandmother and see what is going on.”
They got dressed as fast as they could and went into the front room, but their grandmother was nowhere to be seen. They both started to get afraid, worried that something bad had happened to their grandmother as well.
Going outside, Camille began searching around the outside of the house, and Onyx searched the inside of the house. Neither of them found their grandmother, and they met each other in the front room, both of them scared, but trying to be brave.
“Where do you think she is?” Onyx said. “Do you think the same thing happened to her that happened to Mom?”
“I don’t think so,” Camille said, shaking her head. “The door wasn’t broken down, and there’s no sign that she was in a fight with anything. Plus, if there had been a fight, we would have heard it and woken up. She’s probably out somewhere, looking for help.”
“But why would she have left us here alone,” Onyx said, “without telling us what was going on?”
“I don’t know,” Camille said. “Maybe she thought she would be back before we noticed that she was gone.”
“Maybe,” Onyx said, but she sounded doubtful.
From outside, a large, wild cat came up to the doorway and sat just inside the house, looking at the two of them. They turned to the cat, wondering what it was doing, and then, it started to speak.
“Your grandmother is in danger,” the cat said, “and so is your mother. You need to work quickly if you are going to save them.”
Camille looked surprised, and Onyx looked at her in confusion.
“What is it?” Onyx said. “Why are you looking at that cat that way? It’s just a stray cat.”
“But . . . didn’t you hear it?” Camille said.
“Yes, it meowed,” Onyx said. “So what? That’s what cats do.”
“No, it talked,” Camille said. “It said that Mom and Grandmother were in trouble, and we need to hurry if we’re going to save them.”
“How can a cat talk?” Onyx said.
“I don’t know,” Camille said, “but this one did.”
“Ok,” Onyx said, looking at the cat, “ask it what we’re supposed to do to help them.”
Camille looked at the cat, and it turned to exit the house. When it was a few feet away from the door, it turned to make sure that they were following, and the two of them followed after it.
They followed the cat deep into the forrest, going farther away from home than they had ever been before, and when the cat slowed down, it told them to be careful not to be seen; there was a house up ahead, and that was where their mother and grandmother were being held.
They crept along, making sure that they were hidden behind trees as they made their way forward, and when they peeked out from behind one of the trees, they saw the house that the cat had been leading them toward.
Someone moved inside the house, and they saw a large shadow move on the other side of the window, but they couldn’t make out any of the person’s features. Then, there was a howl from inside the house, as though there was a wolf inside, and both of them jumped in fear.
This may be harder than they had thought it would be.