Two mornings before, Hobie had not gotten as early a start, and the thought had occurred to him just after he wriggled under the wall that the morning light might allow easy detection by the shepherds.  That would have spoiled his plans for a day of adventure and exploration.  He determined that on his next foray into the surrounding countryside, he would make an earlier escape.  In view of present exigencies, adventure and discovery were forgotten.  The foursome Must Not be detected by the shepherds.  Still, as they entered the night-cloaked woods trail, Hobie felt an inner voice wishing for light.

There was enough daylight coming from the sky directly above the trail, through the nearly joining boughs of the trees to make the path distinguishable from the surrounding brush.  The forest to either side, however was all but black.  Expected shades of green, yellow, brown, and red were not to be seen, and any shapes were only discernible to the extent of becoming fuel for the discomforting imagination.  Hobie thought he had seen a pair of bright, slanted eyes to the left, but when he turned to confront them, they were gone. The friends stayed close together, making little sound as the walked the trail.

To the relief of Hobie and his little band, as they progressed along the track, the woods to either side took on color.  Shapes acquired resolution.  They drew in deep breaths of the forest, both of new growth and of decay.  They began to discuss plans to find and recover Hobie's coat.  No one was sure of the significance of the tracks that Hobie had seen yesterday, but the tracks together with the day-old scent that Hobie described was suggestive of a likely thief.

They made their way toward the clearing by the stream.

The End

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