Dad to the Rescue
“He’s not gone. He went down to get water.”
“That was an hour ago.”
“Hey,” Doug suddenly thought about it. “You’re right.”
Kelly knew she was right. But it usually took her brothers a while to figure that out.
Brent came along then.
“Have you seen Dad?” she asked.
“No, he went for water.”
“I know that. But it was at least an hour ago.”
Her red haired brother looked at the new fancy watch he’d gotten for his birthday.
“Hey, you’re right.”
Kelly sighed. Now she had to convince Matt.
But Doug wasn’t about to wait for Matt. “Let’s go find him. I’m hungry. He was going to make breakfast. Eggs and bacon.”
The way Doug always liked to eat, Kelly wondered that he hadn’t notice Dad was missing a lot sooner.
She was hungry, too. And they didn’t have bacon very often. Mom wasn’t here, so Dad had gotten the real stuff—
“Hey,” came a shout from Matt. “Have you seen Dad? Thought we were going fishing?”
The four kids trooped down to the stream. They glanced at each other, concerned, for there was the red bucket, laying on its side in the mud—and a couple of big footprints at the edge of the water.
They crouched on the grassy area near the stream, examining the footprints.
“It looks like he went into the water!” said Kelly.
“Why would he do that—especially without the bucket?”
“Maybe the current was strong and he got washed away!” suggested Kelly, trying to hold back the tears.
Matt just rolled his yes. “He’s here somewhere. Come on. Let’s split up and look. You guys go that way. We’ll go this way.”
“Yes, boss,” said Doug.
“Maybe those two shouldn’t go together,” murmured Brent.
Kelly nodded in agreement. They never could seem to get along, especially when Matt got into his know-it-all mood. But Matt and Doug had already taken off.
“Hey, wait,” called Kelly. “We need a plan. When shall we meet?”
“Twenty minutes. Back here,” replied Matt.
Kelly and Brent headed upstream. Pretty soon, the going was rougher for the brush was close to the bank. At times, they had to climb boulders. There was no grass here, so they walked in the mud, trying to keep away from the ripple of water.
“The current is kind of strong,” observed Brent.
“Why would he go in the water, though?” asked Kelly, more worried than she wanted to admit, even to Brent. The others often made fun of her, but he didn’t.
Even now he took her hand, whether to steady her as she jumped off a rock or just to encourage her, she wasn’t sure.
“We’re not getting very far. They’re probably going a lot faster.” She looked out to midstream, watching the water rush along, then scanned the opposite bank carefully.
Brent looked at his watch. “It’s been ten minutes. We’d better head back if we want to meet the guys on time.”
“They’ll be worried about us if we don’t—wait! Look!”
Brent shielded his eyes against the sun. “There’s a girl over on the other side. She’s waving at us.”
“She wants us to come over.”
“Well, that’s impossible without a boat.”
They scrambled on and suddenly saw it….
“A footbridge!” they said together.
They clambered over the wooden bridge.
“Hello! Hello!” called the little girl. She met them on the other side.
She was younger than them. And she looked frantic.
But before she could speak, Kelly exclaimed, “we’re looking for our father.”
The girl looked startled and started to cry, as Brent asked, “are you out here all alone?”
“I got lost. My puppy got caught in the stream. Maybe it was your father. A man swam out to get him—and got washed away!” She was crying in earnest now.
“Down there!” They noticed a little whirlpool. It led to an offshoot of the stream which ran rapidly off to the west.
“Come on, let’s go!”
“Don’t you have a phone or something? I could call my parents.”
“It’s in the tent. There’s no service up here.”
“I’ll go back and get the guys,” said Kelly. “One of us can go after the Vernons.”
The family who had traveled with them were camped a ways up from the Lorings. They had wanted a better place to fish.
“They’re not there, remember?” said Brent. “They were going into town to get food and then sightseeing.”
“I forgot. I’ll go tell Matt and Doug. You keep looking.”
“I couldn’t see him at all,” wailed the little girl.
Kelly and her brothers caught up very quickly with Brent and the girl.
“There’s no sign of him,” said Brent as they checked the whirlpool, and then followed the smaller stream as it splashed over rocks. It finally ended in a large pond. “This is Ashley, by the way.”
They went back to the whirlpool and explored some more, calling for their father, listening for the barking of a puppy.
“Wait! Look!” this from Doug.
Dad’s hat. The red baseball cap.
“I think one of us had better go into town and get the ranger or someone,” said Brent.
“Or maybe the Vernons are still at the grocery store.”
“We should stay with a partner,” Kelly reminded them all.
“We’ll go,” said Matt. “Don’t go anywhere. Stay here or you’ll get lost, too.”
Brent rolled his eyes at Kelly. At times like this, Matt always acted like the MUCH older brother, not just a couple of years.
“Take the phone. Then you can call Mom when you get closer to town.”
“Oh, right.” Matt apparently hadn’t even thought of that.
Ashley began to cry again. “It’s all my fault. He was trying to save Rusty.”
“Hey We’ll find them both—and then we’ll work on getting you to your parents.” Brent gave her an encouraging grin.
But Kelly was worried. Their mother was at a conference about an hour away. But if Dad was missing, she’d get up here pretty fast. The conference was almost over. She was supposed to meet up with them and the Vernons tomorrow anyway….
“Let’s sit here a minute and figure out what to do,” said Brent. “Matt’s right, to a point. We don’t want to get lost in the woods and make things worse.”
“Your daddy was real nice. He jumped right in the water. Rusty likes water but the current was too strong for him. He’s just little.”
“Hey, our dad’s pretty brave. And smart. I’m sure he’ll be okay. We’ll find them both. You know what?” Brent sat down on the rock next to the girl. “He’s a good swimmer, too. Once when I was a little kid, the rowboat I was in came loose. I’d crawled back in there to go to sleep. And suddenly I heard Kelly screaming for help. And there I was out in the middle of the creek. And my dad and another guy were swimming out to me—and they made it too.”
“And then one time,” said Kelly, “when we were at the beach, we were in this cave—and the ocean water was coming in, and he made us all get up on a high ledge, and we were safe. We finally found a way out. So see, he’s probably all right,” said Kelly.
Brent looked at his sister and grinned, “say what is it with our family and water?”
“Do you think your brothers are near town yet?” asked the little girl. They hadn’t cheered her up much.
“Oh, I doubt it. It’ll take a while.”
“My mom and dad are probably looking up the other way. We’re in a cabin up on the ridge. I didn’t mean to get lost but Rusty ran away, and I followed him….” She sniffled some more. “He always does that.”
“Well, let’s go just a little ways into the woods,” said Brent, to get her mind off things. “We won’t get lost. We’ll make sure.”
“Hey, look! There’s even a path,” said Kelly. “If we come to the end, we won’t go any further. We’ll just come back. That’s why most people get lost—they come to a crossroad or the path disappears and they get themselves turned around.”
Brent grinned and she gave him a friendly swat. “Okay, I get lost. Most people don’t. I just have a lousy sense of direction.” She really didn’t mind when Brent teased, because he wasn’t mean about it.
The path went on for some time. They trooped along through the forest.
“He can’t have come this far. Why would he? I think we should go back,” said Brent, finally.
At that second they suddenly heard a voice. “Who’s there! Help! Is somebody there?”
Brent and Kelly broke into a run. The little girl followed.
“It’s us! Where are you, Dad?”
Then came a bark.
“Hurry up! I’m can’t hold him!”
They rounded a curve in the path, and came upon a pile of boulders in the midst of a grove of pine trees. There was Dad, up on the rocks, only his legs and feet showing. The rest of his body was in a hole. And from the hole, came the yipping of a puppy.
“I can’t get myself out, and hang on to him, too. He was stuck and I got him loose—but….”
Kelly and Brent almost laughed at the sight of him, but then they quickly climbed up the rocks and each grabbed one of his legs. They pulled and it was just enough for Dad to get his elbows up on the rock and heave himself out.
In his hands was a little brown puppy. They both were soaking wet from the stream, and pretty dirty, too.
“Hold on tight,” Dad told the girl, as she took the puppy in her arms.
“What are you two doing here, Dad? This is a long way from the stream?”
He gave the puppy a disgusted look. “I let go when we got out of that whirlpool, and he took off so fast that I could hardly follow him. Next thing I knew, he was climbing the rocks, and then he disappeared. The hole wasn’t deep—but deep enough that I could hardly reach him!”
“I’m sorry. He’s always doing stuff like that. Mommy and Daddy are trying to train him.” The little girl looked so upset that Dad gave her a hug.
“It’s okay. That’s what puppies do, I suppose. But I’ve never seen one run so fast.”
“Thank you for saving him–twice.”
Just then they heard voices—lots of voices.
“Mommy! Daddy!” cried the little girl.
And then, there was Matt and Doug. And the Vernons. And a couple of rangers!
“Honey! We were so worried!”
“He’s all right.”
“About you!” the woman said. She sighed and looked at Dad, who was wet and grimy. “Thank you. It’s our own fault for letting him escape without his leash. Somebody opened a door and out he went! And Ashley raced after him! We had already called the rangers, and then we found your boys before they started walking to town.”
“And we called the Vernons to come help. They hadn’t gone off sightseeing yet!” exclaimed Doug.
“And I called Mom. She’s coming tonight. She’s had enough of that conference anyway,” reported Matt.
“First things first,” said Ashley’s dad. “Let’s get his leash on him!”
The whole gang was invited up to the cabin for a cook out, even the rangers, who were going off duty. What a great time they had.
Ashley presented Dad with a large card she’d made. A picture of Rusty was drawn on the front cover in brown magic marker. Inside was printed, Thank you for rescuing me! Love Rusty. (And Ashley)
Rusty ran up, still on his leash which was securely looped around a tree, and plopped in Dad’s lap.
“I guess you made a friend,” laughed Ashley’s mother. .
“I’ll never forget him, that’s for sure,” grinned Dad.
By Carol Bennett
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!