Jamie could hear hooves pounding behind her. She ran hard, but the hooves kept coming. Then from the midst of the herd came a girl riding on a Blue Roan. She rushed toward Jamie and pulled her into the saddle. Then the horse quickened his pace and they left the herd at a gallop. The girl had ginger hair and jade colored eyes. She started talking to Jamie.
“That was Hoogan’s herd. It’s good to steer clear from them. Hoogan’s not a mean horse, just a protective one.”
“Hoogan’s herd?” asked Jamie.
“Yes, Hoogan’s herd.”
Then Jamie woke up. She had had this dream often and was puzzled by it. She shrugged and went down-stairs to eat breakfast.
Jamie Gillset was rich, but not spoiled. Yes, it was true that her parents allowed her a lot of things, but that didn’t mean she wanted a lot of things. Yet, when her birthday came around, there were some things she found that she wanted. No, she even said she needed a few things. Jamie was also adopted. Her dad, Mr. Gillset, ran a company that sold the new (and very popular) Creams Crunch candy bar.
It was her 12th birthday, May 27th, and this year it was the first day of summer vacation and she was going to go to the water park with her parents. She never had a party, for everyone at her school thought she was stuck-up, so she didn’t have any friends there. Well, she once had a friend. Her name was Jennie, but she moved to Rhode Island three years ago and Jamie hardly ever saw her.
After the water park, Jamie would get tons of visits and packages from her aunts and uncles (her mother had eight siblings and her dad had ten).
She got for her birthday, a very rare plant with an unpronounceable name from her grandmother Euphemia; a 6 foot stuffed mole from her aunt who sold stuffed animals; an aqua colored purse with a burglar alarm from one of her aunts and uncles; a Dalmatian puppy which she named Checkers from the maid, the cook, and the butler; a diamond and pearl necklace from her mom and dad; and tons of clothing from all of her other aunts and uncles. Jamie loved every single thing.
She was playing with her giant mole (she named him Truffle) when the maid called her into the living room and said that her mom and her uncle were waiting for her. Jamie put Truffle in his closet, and went down the stairs to see her uncle.
In the living room was her Uncle Levi, her mom, and Zach, the butler.
“Hello James!” Uncle Levi bellowed.
“It’s Jamie.” She muttered. Being called James was her pet peeve, and she was pretty sure her uncle knew that.
“Well then, hello Jamie! I’ve brought ya a gift!”
“Oh! Thank you!”
“Would you like anything to drink Levi?” Jamie’s mom asked.
“Well, I love a good Sprite!”
“Zach, get Levi a Sprite, please.”
“Diet?” asked Zach.
Uncle Levi handed Jamie the present. It was a camouflage gift bag with mud brown tissue paper sticking out. Jamie wondered who made such disgusting tissue paper. She took the bag and stuck her hand in. She felt something pretty small that had a knob on it. She brought her hand up and pulled out… Binoculars!
Jamie gave a half-hearted smile. “Yay! Now I can look for, uh, birds!” Uncle Levi didn’t realize that Jamie didn’t like her newest gift.
“Yup! When I was growing up we always called them field glasses.”
Another measly smile.
“Well,” Mrs. Gillset said with an optimistic tone, “That is just a wonderful gift! They look simply beautiful!”
Jamie stared at her mom. Binoculars were not exactly beautiful.
“See this little knob on it?” Uncle Levi asked, pointing to a knob on the big end of the binoculars. “You can twist that and things get blurrier or clearer!”
“You make it get blurry, and then when you see a blob of something you twist it the other way until it gets clear!”
Jamie wondered if her uncle wanted another pair of binoculars. She didn’t even want one.
“Welp, Cheerio!” and with that, Uncle Levi was out the door. That was the way with most of the Gillsets. They were talking about something and all relaxed like, and then away they went. Oh well, now Jamie could get to more important things. She started to climb the stairs back up to her room when her mom called to her and said, “Make sure you come quickly for supper! Your father is back from his trip and wants us to eat supper all together.”
Jamie was swimming in their heated pool when the supper song started playing. Mrs. Gillset didn’t want a bell to ring for supper so she got one of her friends to write and sing a short “supper song” for her. The song went like this:
Supper, supper everyone!
Come to the table, run, run, run!
When you hear this song you’ll know,
That food is waiting for you, OH!
Breakfast lunch and supper,
These three meals are super!
Breakfast lunch and supper,
These three meals are superrrrrrrr!
There was also a breakfast and lunch song but these were worse than the supper song so I won’t put them on.
Jamie groaned and ran to the table.
Jamie slipped into her seat at the end of the table where her dad and mom were waiting. The supper song stopped.
Mrs. Catie, the cook, brought in salad for everyone. It was very delicious. Mr. Gillset always started the conversation at the table and now he started it with:
“So, what’d you get from Uncle Ollie? Your mom told me he came today!”
“Aha! That sounds great! Now you can see birds up close, and then you can tell us what they are!”
“Maybe binoculars aren’t the greatest present ever for a girl, but maybe you could use them sometime, what do you know? It might be fun!” This came from Mrs. Gillset.
“Mom, I can easily see the birds at our place by looking through the gazillion telescopes we have.”
“Well, woods have different birds than gardens do, and that would be a good place look!” Mrs. Gillset argued.
“And where are these woods?” Jamie asked.
“Well-!” Mr. Gillset’s said. “Well, that is what I’ve been wanting to say, I just bought the woods outside our estate and it’s called Paterson’s Woods. You could go there to look for birds!”
“Oh! Could I go tomorrow?” Jamie wasn’t interested in the birds, just that her dad had bought The Woods! They had always seemed so nice and Jamie had always wanted to see what they looked like.
“Of course! And since I’m still going to be here tomorrow, you can tell us about all the birds you see!” Mrs. Gillset seemed genuinely excited.
“Okay, I’ll probably get up early, so don’t expect me for breakfast, and can you ask Mrs. Catie to put a bag of food on the counter for me?”
Mrs. Catie came in the door carrying a plate of oysters just then and said, “I’ll be glad to do that for you honey!”
* * * * *
Jamie sighed contentedly as she swallowed the last piece of chocolate mousse cake. She put one last oyster into her pocket for a bedtime snack and asked to be excused. Then she ran up the stairs to see if there were any new clothes that would be good for tomorrow.
When Jamie woke up it was dark. She thought she had woken up in the middle of the night until she realized that Truffle was on top of her. She pushed him off and saw the oyster that she forgot to eat for her bedtime snack. She ate it, and then spit it out. She did not feel like oysters when she would normally be eating breakfast, and plus she thought she bit down on something hard.
She looked at the chewed up oyster and saw a little round ball. Could it be a pearl? Once Jennie had found a pearl in an oyster she was eating. She stuck it in Truffle’s ear and went down to the kitchen.
On the counter there was a sparkly green gift bag waiting for her, stuffed full of delicious breakfast foods. Beside it was an identical bag that had a note on it saying, “If you want to stay out until lunch, here are some sandwiches for you” Jamie groaned at the sparkly bags and got a normal, brown paper bag out of the cupboard and transferred everything into it. She grabbed her binoculars in case her mom would notice that she hadn’t taken them, and headed out the door.
She got to the big gate and the end of the Gillset estate and pressed her finger on the picture of a fingerprint. The door swung open. Last year Mr. Gillset had installed a finger print sensor so that everyone in the Gillset Estate could get in and out without any key.
Jamie walked past the two beavers guarding the entrance to Patterson’s Woods and into the trees. She took a deep breath of the forest air and walked on. She wasn’t exactly sure what she was going to do here, but she thought she remembered her dad saying that there was a waterfall somewhere in these woods. She walked on until she found a stream. She slipped out of her flip-flops and into the cool stream.
Jamie turned her head quickly. She thought she had heard a rustle in the bushes. At first she thought it was a bear, but then remembered that there were hardly any bears in this part of North Carolina. But then she saw a flash of red. Then she thought she saw a piece of blue cloth. “H-hello?” She stammered. Then, out of the bushes came a girl.
Jamie started in surprise. This girl looked like the same girl that had been riding the horse in her dream. She had the same ginger hair but her eyes were different. They were a bluish gray. She had on a blue shirt and on it was a watermelon with sunglasses. She had capris on.
“Hello?” Jamie repeated.
“Umm, hi!” The girl looked like she was trying to decide whether to stay or run.
“What are you doing in my father’s woods?” Jamie asked.
“Your father’s woods? I-I didn’t know!” The girl’s eyes were wide open.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, they are, and who are you?”
“My name is Jessica.”
“Mine is Jamie.”
“Well, uh, why are you here?” asked Jessica.
“My dad just bought these woods and so I wanted to explore them. I also got these binoculars from my uncle, and my mom wanted me to try them out.”
“Aha! Well, umm would you like to see my house?”
Jamie thought this was a little strange, being invited to a stranger’s house five minutes after she met her, but she said, “Alright!” anyway.
So Jessica picked up the basket she had dropped when she had first seen Jamie, gathered all the blueberries back up, and led Jamie down a very scrawny path.
“Here we are!” Jessica announced as they walked into a big clearing.
“A leaf pile?!” Jamie sputtered .
“No.” Jessica pulled the leaves aside and underneath there was a board, nailed to the ground, with another board hinged onto it.
Jamie gasped, “What’s behind the door?”
Jessica pulled it back to reveal, “A hole?” Jamie asked.
“Nope” Jessica jumped into the hole. “Come inside! Don’t worry, there’s a big pile of leaves at the bottom, you won’t get hurt.”
So Jamie jumped down and indeed, there was a big pile of leaves that cushioned her fall rather nicely.
Jessica got down on her hands and knees and crawled into a tunnel. Jamie followed her, but not without wondering how long the tunnel was and where it led to. Finally, it opened up into a bigger room. Well, at least a higher room. Jamie couldn’t really tell how big it was seeing as it was pitch dark.
Jessica got some matches that were on top of a shelf and lit four candles.
‘Whoa, Jessica! This is amazing!” Jamie looked around the room at each thing. There was a box with a ragged looking tablecloth and two stumps around it. Against a wall was a chest with the four candles on. A thing resembling a bookcase held some dishes, cups, a basin, and a bin marked ‘SPOONS AND FORKS’. There was also something that looked like a hall leading to another room, but it was dark so Jamie couldn’t tell for sure.
Jessica smiled and got down two plates from the shelf. Then she took the tablecloth off of the box, opened it, and pulled out a clump of leaves. When Jessica crumpled one it gave off a delicious smell.
“Mint?” Jamie asked.
“Yes, and grown right by the waterfall too!”
Jessica proceeded to make a fire and hang a rather old looking kettle full of water above it.
“This looks like something in a movie!” Jamie said smiling.
When the water was boiling Jessica put the mint leaves in the kettle which she had placed on the ground and stirred it with a spoon. After the leaves soaked a while in the water Jessica went over to the box again and got some sugar. Then she fished out the leaves and put a little bit of sugar in. After dumping the whole thing in to a big glass jar with some more water in she asked Jamie if she wanted ice with it.
“Sure!” Jamie replied. “But do you have any, is the question.”
“Yes I sure do. Follow me!” And she led Jamie down the something that was a hall and into a very cold room. This had a big pile of ice in the middle of it that was covered with a blanket.
“Where’d you get the ice?” asked Jamie.
“In the winter the creek freezes in some places, and I manage to get some pieces of ice. This room is deep in the ground and it stays cold. Although on really hot days it will melt a little. But let’s go now, I’m freezing!”
So they went back to the big room and drank the mint tea which Jamie thought was even better than Mrs. Catie’s.
“So how did you make this place?” Jamie asked.
“Oh, I didn’t make all of it. Actually, I was going to make a small one but I when I started digging, I found there was already a hole. Not this big, but I have worked on it for around three years now. I made the ice room last year.”
“Three years?” Jamie exclaimed. When she thought about it now, the room seemed huge!
“Yeah. In the winter I work on it a lot, since it makes me hot in the summer and there is a lot of food that can be gotten in the other seasons.” Jessica put down her cup and picked up the basket, emptied of berries now. “Hey, would you like to help me pick berries?”
Jamie’s eyes sparkled like they always did when she was excited. “Would I?”
“Oh, sorry, I thought you might want to… uh, I guess you can just stay here…” Jessica said.
“No! I meant I would LOVE to come with you!”
“I know, I know. I was just kidding.” Jessica grinned at Jamie and handed her a basket.
“What kind of berries will we get?” Jamie asked.
“Well, there aren’t really anything but strawberries, wild ones, in May. But there is some wild asparagus that can be picked. And maybe we can find some Morels.
“Morels? What are Morels?”
“Edible mushrooms. I’ll show you if we find any.
Jamie got her tennis shoes out of the back pack she was wearing and put them on. Then she heard the sound of a bell, and it sounded like it was inside Jessica’s “house”. She lifted her head, listening.
“That’s just Jumbo.” Jessica blew out all of the candles and felt her way down the hall. Jamie ran after her, tennis shoe still untied. She didn’t want to be stuck in here in the dark.
Jessica got to the trap door which Jamie noticed had a bell with a rope going up through a hole in the board.
I bet Jumbo, whoever he is, pulled the rope at the top to make the bell ring. Jamie thought.
Jessica opened the trap door and Jamie let out a loud shriek.
I guess there are bears in this part of North Carolina! She thought, shrinking away from the shaggy creature staring at them from above.
When the thing started barking, Jamie was pretty sure that this wasn’t a bear. She stood up, still keeping her distance.
“Is this Jumbo?” she asked.
“Yes, this is Jumbo, and I’m sorry for not telling you that he was a dog, I am sure he is pretty frightening at first glance.” Jessica climbed out the door and reached her hand down to help Jamie up.
“That’s okay. I like dogs, but I thought he was a bear when I saw him.”
Jessica started laughing. Her laugh was loud, but Jamie liked it. Jessica laughed for a long time until finally she stopped, stood up, and started walking down the path.
“Don’t say funny things too often or I might wear out! I can laugh about basically anything, funny or not.” Jessica grinned at Jamie.
Jamie grinned back and they walked down the path in silence for the next little while.
Soon they got to a patch in the woods with tiny bright red dots scattered about like confetti.
“Oh! They are so cute!” Jamie exclaimed.
“Try one!” Jessica popped a big one into her mouth. Jamie did likewise.
“PLET!” Jamie spit the strawberry out and made a face.
“I am assuming you don’t like them?”
“No! Are these even strawberries?” To Jamie the berries were like the dried strawberries you get in cereal mashed up and mixed with water.
“Oh, you learn to like them. Come on! Pick some! I think it’s kind of fun.”
It was fun! They picked for what Jamie thought was about an hour and a half and got half of a basket full. They could have gotten more, but Jamie thought it was so funny that Jumbo liked to eat them and kept feeding him.
Later Jessica found some morels and they picked those too. Morels are mushrooms, and they look really strange. They are tall and rather odd shaped with deep wrinkles.
Then Jamie realized that she hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet so they went back to Jessica’s. Jamie shared her breakfast with Jessica which turned out to be four delicious omelets, four slices of bacon, an apple (which Jessica cut with her cleaned-off pocket knife), and a thermos of apple juice.
Jamie was glad she had someone to share it with or she could never have finished it.
Chapter 8 isn’t on this page yet. 🙂