“No need to be afraid,” Christine chided, as she put her arm around, Sarah, her oldest daughter. “Come on, girls; let’s see if we can name the birds as we go along.”
With that, the troupe began their descent down the rutted trail. Approximately two miles down the path, Christine heard rustling in the bushes. She stopped. It stopped. She tightened her grip on the rifle and moved the children along at a quicker pace. “Come along, girls, we must get there before dark.” As the afternoon waned, Christine continued to hear movement in the underbrush. It came as soon as they crested a large hill-- a low guttural growl emanating from the left side of the woods within a few feet of Maryann. The girls all screamed at once, crying and yelling, “Momma, what is it?” Christine knew what it was. David had told her about the panthers in this area. Root, their hometown, was populated, and she had never heard nor seen a panther though she had shot wolves that attacked their sheep. Sarah knew the growl of the wolf. This was higher pitched and it frightened her to realize that it was tracking them. So far, it had not revealed itself, but she knew it could at any moment.