When Hobie reached the clearing, the morning sky was clear and light blue, although the Sun was still well away from topping the surrounding trees.  The chill still hung in the air, but here the air was drier, and the cold was not as penetrating as during the night. Hobie was grateful for the putrid hot spring and the cozy spot under the evergreen.  He paused to ponder his situation and devise a plan.  

His immediate priority was food and water; The stream bank would be his first stop. His search would begin once his hunger and thirst were satisfied.  He headed back down the path toward the stream.

The grass and clover and other vegetation beside the creek were just as inviting as yesterday. Hobie munched hungrily on the greenery, then lapped up some cool water from the stream to wash it down, then ate some more.  He knew he needed the nourishment, but didn't want to wait around here long.  He needed... wanted to find his coat.  with his hunger and thirst finally abated, he started his search at the tree where he had hung his coat.

The fragrance was somewhat faded, but was definitely canine.  He couldn't understand why he had missed it yesterday.  At that moment, something stirred at the nearby edge of the forest.  Hobie's right ear twitched around rearward, but the forest was still.

Dew still lay on the untrodden grass.  Near where he stood, near where his coat had hung, Hobie spied tracks.... not his own tracks in the dew.  He followed a set of tracks to an inconspicuous path back into the woods.  In a sandy patch on the trail, he could see four claw marks with each footprint.  A wolf!

The End

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