"Let's go hiking up on Bean Peak," suggested Willie. "I've been reading in the paper that there's been several mountain lion sightings up there. I'd love to see a real mountain lion!"
"I'd be satisfied with finding some mountain lion tracks. I'd like to make some plaster casts," replied Grace, who tended to turn everything into an art project. "And the wild flowers ought to be just beautiful up there, with all the rain we had this winter."
Willie agreed. "Let's ask our parents if it's OK, and if they say yes, let's pack our lunch and meet at my house in half an hour."
Half an hour later the two friends were on their bikes, heading towards the Bean Mountains on the outskirts of town. Bean Peak was the highest mountain in the range. They stopped at a ranch at the foot of the mountain, where a rancher's wife had a stand where she sold fruit and vegetables. Strawberries were in season, and Grace wanted some!
Willie asked the lady if they could leave their bikes with her while they hiked. She graciously agreed, and introduced herself as Mrs. Emma Parker. Mrs. Parker said, "kids, I hope y'all have a nice hike, but I want you two to be careful on the trail. There's been several sightings of mountain lions around here lately. If ya stick together, ya should be OK, but be careful, y'hear?"
"We'll be careful," answered Grace as she wiped red strawberry juice from her chin. "Have you actually seen a lion, Mrs. Parker?"
"Naw, but I've seen paw prints, and last week one of our prize calves disappeared."
"Do you think a mountain lion got the calf?" asked Grace.
"Must be! I can't think of another explanation. Now, git on up that mountain, and I'll watch out fer your bikes. When ya git back, I'll have some lemonade fer ya."
Willie and Grace found the trail that led up the mountain, and for a while they walked very quietly, thinking every sound they heard was a lion. "Just a bird in the bushes!" commented Willie, "but I am a little jittery."
Suddenly, they heard a crunching sound coming from around the next bend in the path, and a very loud growl!!!
NEXT STORY: "YIKES!!!"