Posse Re-United

Hobie proceeded watchfully down the path that led between the cabin and the creek.  He slowed shortly before reaching the main trail, and observed carefully the wolf tracks, which direction they took, and how many in the pack.  As best he could tell, there appeared to be five wolves.  They had gone left, in the direction of his first visit to the creek days, forever ago.

He saw hoof prints leading across the trail, toward the creek, and felt relieved.  They had made the right choice.  Fortunately, the wolves had made a different choice.  He headed downhill and in a couple of minutes had reached the creek bank.  He saw where his friends had gone to the edge of the creek, and hoped that they had gone in.  He had no idea where they might have come back out, but believed that they had probably gone to the other side.

Hobie went into the water.  If he had still had his coat, the wool would have held his body heat against the cold water.  The flannel shirt just soaked up the water, and allowed it to bathe his bare skin with its icy fingers.  Although he crossed fairly quickly he was thoroughly chilled when he reached the far bank a little ways downstream from his entry point.  He thought that he would warm when he hauled out, but the air began evaporating the water, and he was shivering almost uncontrollably.  He had to find his band, but had no idea where to begin looking.

Then he saw tracks.  Three sets of hoof prints led up the bank, toward the woods.  Bent saplings, and small, snapped branches pointed the way.  He followed the signs.

Back in the forest, beyond sight of the creek, Hobie's friends were huddled in a small patch of thick brush.  They saw the wet, green shirt through the weeds, and got his attention.  When he joined them in the brush, they helped him get out of the shirt and pushed close around him, to let their coats shield him from the heat sucking air;  to let their body heat warm him.  

Some time after Hobie stopped shivering, they started back for the stream, knowing that Hobie would just get chilled again, and knowing even more certainly that they didn't want to be out tonight.  They also were sure that the shirt was important, so Molly carried it between her teeth.

The End

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