Morning came. What would this day bring to the lives of the children who had been through so much?
Belle was at her daughter’s bedside waiting to meet with a doctor that had come highly recommended. Amanda was so sick, yet according to the staff at the sanitarium, she hadn’t been diagnosed with anything other than exhaustion and depression.
In the two days Belle had been with her, Amanda had talked very little. She said nothing at all about what her life had been like these past two years since her father had abducted her. She had been ripped away from her home and the friends that were her family.
Belle wondered if Amanda resented her. Did she think her Mother hadn’t looked hard enough to find her? Joseph had hidden Amanda well. He had unsavory connections in the business world and prison hadn’t rehabilitated him. It seemed it had only made him more bitter and vengeful.
Poor Amanda. Would she ever feel safe again? Belle’s thoughts were interrupted by a nurse with a message. The doctor she was meeting with had arrived.
They made it through the night. Beau had done his best to keep Abby from freezing. She had been so close to giving into the cold, but Beau had saved her. She knew she had probably suffered some frostbite. Her fingers were blue and waxy looking, and her toes had been numb for hours. Her drowsiness was a sign she might be on the verge of hypothermia.
It was extremely difficult for Abby to walk , and they had to leave the sled behind. Beau knew exactly where he was going, and he patiently led the way. He was careful to avoid deep snow and other perils. When she thought she couldn’t take another step, Beau whimpered or barked to encourage her on.
Finally, she could see the cabin hidden in the trees. When they got a little closer, Beau ran ahead and barked at the door. Alice and Andy came running out, and Tony stood in the doorway grinning. At first they only saw Beau, but he ran back to Abby to show them he was bringing her home.
The cabin was cold. They had run out of wood, but the children had it all figured out. Andy would get the wood. He would take Beau with him, so he wouldn’t get lost. Alice and Tony helped Abby into some warm dry clothes. They rubbed her hands and feet with the homemade salve she had so lovingly rubbed on Tony’s legs, made sore from the Ill fitting prostheses.
The four brave little souls had been through so much. They learned to survive the many challenges they were faced with, but they wondered if they would ever get to be children again.
Beau helped Andy collect some wood and soon the little cabin was warm again. They would have to go farther from the cabin for a better supply, but perhaps Beau could help them locate the sled. Alice made Abbie some warm broth to sip. They were so grateful for Beau. The loyal dog was clearly worried about Abby, who was suffering the effects of being too cold for too long. Beau was nervous and impatient. Immagine how the poor dog felt knowing he had to leave them all again.
Aaron and Andrea got up early the next morning and went back to the clearing. They didn’t know what else to do. They prayed the coon hound, Beau would be back to guide them to wherever it was he wanted them to go. Was it crazy for them to believe that after two years, the children would be found? It was unlikely, but they had to try once more.
The two ranchers had insisted they would meet Andrea and Aaron in the clearing. This time they would bring two extra horses. They had thermoses of hot coffee and rolled up extra blankets behind their saddles.The group was determined they would see this out. They just needed the dog to be there to guide them.
Beau wasn’t there to meet them, so they proceeded to take the same path they had abandoned the day before because of darkness. They didn’t have a plan beyond getting to the area where they had turned around. When they got there, they stopped to have some hot coffee and figure out what to do next. It was cold, but not as bitter cold as it had been the day before. The skys were clear and the wind had not yet begun to blow.
They were all lost in ther own thoughts when Andrea clearly heard a dog bark. The other’s heard it too. Soon, they saw Beau running toward them. He was beyond excited, and so were Andrea, Aaron, and the two men who were so willing to help them. Once again, they were trusting the beautiful coon dog to lead them to the children, wherever they were.
They couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the cabin. who had built the little log house so far out in the middle of an area with no roads or even wide paths to get to it?
They thought it was probably abandoned…then, they saw the thin sliver of smoke coming from the chimney. “Could this possibly be where the children are?” Andrea didn’t dare to hope. Beau went running to the door. He was barking, whimpering, and running back and forth between the cabin and the humans on horseback, who came to get the children and take them home.
Andy opened the door when he heard Beau, but when he saw the horses, he became frightened. Andrea recognized his fear. She got down from her horse, but before moving toward him, she tried to find the right words.
“You must be Andy,” she said softly. “I am Mr. Sander’s niece, Andrea, and this is my husband Aaron. We have come to take you home.”
Andy began to cry as he walked with Beau to where Andrea stood. He had not seen a grown up in ever so long. He was sobbing as he looked up at this lady, who spoke so softly. “Abby Ann is really sick, he said. We really need someone to help us.” This little boy who would barely even talk to the other children, had found his voice. He let Andrea hold his hand as they hurried back to the cabin. The exhausted Beau had completed his task, now all he wanted was to eat some food and sleep by the fire.
Abby was not well enough to ride on the back of a horse, and once again it was getting too late in the day, to make the arduous trip back to the clearing; especially with the children in tow. The ranchers brought in plenty of wood to keep the fire stoked, then rode back to the clearing. They would be back with a sled to carry Abby. Hopefully, she would be some better in the morning and be able to make the trip. The other children would ride behind Andrea, Aaron, and one of the men.
The little family in the cabin got very little sleep that night. The excitement of going home kept them awake, plus, they wanted to make sure they weren’t dreaming.
Andrea sat by Abby through the night. Abby thought surely she must be dreaming, but she looked up at Andrea and ask the question that was most on her mind.
“Did they find Amanda?” she asked. “Will she be home when we get there?”