It was sunset as Ogg and Robin gathered themselves and started up the creek again. Robin walked in a crouch like her back was hurting and motioned for Ogg to do the same. Ogg walked like that whenever she looked back at him, but when she wasn’t looking, he walked regular, scanning the area for some sign of dinner.
“You need to keep down!” Robin said again.
“Don’t tell me ‘Okay’. She was speaking sharply. “Just do it. You’re not keeping down.”
She sighed and turned and walked on, bent over like before.
Ogg tried to walk that way but it was hard to do. The axe bumped into the ground, it made him really tired and it seemed that even when he did walk like that, he wasn’t very hidden. The creek bed was shallow here and for as far as he could see ahead.
“It’s dark, let’s walk regular,” he offered.
Robin turned, still in a crouch, and looked at Ogg. He quickly bent lower, not wanting another scolding.
“While you’ve been looking around, have you seen anything?”
“Do you think we’re safe? No one is following?”
Two questions. Which to answer. Always tricky.
“No.” He had answered the wrong question.
“No one’s following?”
“Why did you say yes?” She was angry now. This always happened.
“I don’t know.” Retreat.
She shook her head. “If it’s safe then we can just go on. Stay in the creek bed and keep in the shadows as much as possible.”
“Okay.” He stood and arched his back in relief. Robin led on toward the hills ahead, still walking kind of bent over. Ogg decided he was excused from this rule now and walked along looking for signs of game. On either side of the creek was a dry, rocky hillside with sparse grass and scrub. It was not too different from home and Ogg knew there were bunnies and foxes and birds somewhere, but he also knew his chances of catching dinner were small with only an axe. He picked up a rock to throw in case he saw something, but he was not optimistic. He had hit a possum once with a rock, but never a bunny.
It was full dark and Robin called a halt. Ogg had seen nothing that would make a dinner. Robin was not very quiet when she walked and Ogg figured anything along their path had hidden well before he had had a chance to throw a rock, much less hit it with the axe.
“You haven’t seen any game?” Robin asked. She was clearly disappointed in him.
“If you walk more quiet, maybe I can sneak up on a possum or something,” he suggested. He hoped this wouldn’t start an argument like it often did with Queedle.
“Sorry, I thought I was being quiet.”
“Not really.” Ogg was glad she didn’t raise her voice and argue. Maybe she was trying her best and just didn’t know how to be quiet. There was a way to step, and knowing the right speed and quiet breathing and things his Daddy had taught him. Must be that no one had taught her.
“Well, let’s stop here and rest. Maybe you can go out on your own, without me making a lot of noise.”
There was a tone in her voice that sounded unfriendly, but the words were right.
“It’s too dark to hunt; I’ll sit a bunny trap for now and get up first thing in the morning and try to catch something.”
“A bunny trap?”
“Yes. With a string. I know how.”
“I’ll bring back some fire wood.”
“No! No fire. Someone might see.”
Ogg turned and climbed out of the creek bed and started to look for a good place to set his trap. The chill of the evening was settling in and Ogg wished there could be a fire. He stopped to listen. He could hear Robin scuffling around back in the creek bed. He was very hungry.
. . .
Ogg woke up cold and achy. He had found no soft spot to rest and had fought the rocks all night. It was still dark. Dawn was close, but clouds had moved in. Ogg stood and stretched. Robin was curled at the base of a sapling, having found a cradle in the roots for her bed. That was a good spot, but she had found it first.
He checked the bunny trap, but it was empty. He hunted the area for a while in the early morning gloom, but saw no tracks and returned to camp discouraged. Robin was still asleep when he got back. He looked around again, trying to decide whether to start off in another direction to look for game or whether to get Robin up and head on to Sunflower. Maybe he could teach her how to be quiet and they would scare up some game along the way.
As he considered this, he caught sight of movement down the creek. Down towards the road and their first camp, but still quite a ways off. He peered into the morning shadows. Something was there. Someone leading a horse. He edged into the brush, keeping an eye on whatever was moving. He watched as it moved closer. The sun was almost up and Ogg was pretty sure it was only one man walking very slowly up the creek bed and leading a horse. He listened. Robin still slept.
Ogg needed to go down and check this out. He would leave Robin sleeping. She would be too noisy to take along. And she might not want him to go. But, if they just hurried away, he would have no time to hunt and he wasn’t ready to go all day without getting something to eat. He decided to go down and check on this man with the horse and see who he was and what he wanted. He was sure this was a good plan.