Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Write something suitable for CHILDREN (05/31/07)
TITLE: The Skipping Stone
By Lucile McKenzie
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On the way to the cave, they stopped at the river so Jeremy could practice skipping rocks. He chose a flat rock and sailed it across the water. It skipped twice, then sank with a small ripple. He chose another.
Alice cried, “Make it skip ten times.” Naturally, Alice didn’t realize the skill needed to skip rocks. It skipped three, four times, and then skipped four times back and landed on the rocky beach.
“Did you see that?” said Jeremy.
“Yes, do it again.”
“I don’t know which one it was. Maybe this one.” The rock skipped twice and sank. The next one skipped once and sank. “I’ll try one more.”
The rock skipped four times across the water and then skipped back. Jeremy watched closely and grabbed the rock as it dropped onto the beach.
They examined the rock.
“It’s a plain old rock,” said Jeremy. “I don’t see why it skips back like that.” He put the rock in his pants pocket.
“Let’s eat our lunch at Robber’s cave.”
But something was strange. The river seemed bigger, the trees shorter, there were fewer bushes.
This is weird, thought Jeremy. Must be the sunlight shining crazy or something.
As they reached the path to the cave they heard the rattle of wagon wheels. A stagecoach, drawn by two big, brown horses, came around the bend. They stared as four horsemen with handkerchiefs over their faces rode up and surrounded the stagecoach.
“Get down, Alice,” cried Jeremy. Jeremy watched from behind a bush as the robbers forced the passengers out and took their money and jewels. A young woman wept when they pulled the wedding ring off her finger.
The robbers left, the shaken passengers returned to the coach, the driver cracked the whip, and the stagecoach drove away down the dirt road.
Alice cried, “Jeremy. I’m scared.”
Jeremy remembered the stories about Robber’s Cave.
“I bet they took the money to Robber’s Cave. If we knew, we could call the police and they could get it and that lady’s ring.”
“They might hurt us,” said Alice.
“We’ll be really careful.” Hesitantly, Alice agreed.
Following the path, soon they heard voices.
“Wait here. I’ll see what’s going on.”
Jeremy crept forward and peered between the bushes. As three men sat on horses, another came out of the cave. Jeremy recognized him as the one who took the lady’s ring.
“Finished?” asked one with a yellow kerchief around his neck.
“Yeah, it’s all stashed.”
Yellow Kerchief said, “Let’s ride out to the ranch.”
“Shouldn’t someone guard?” asked another.
“Nah, nobody knows about this cave but us.”
The robbers rode away.
“I’m going to get the stuff,” said Jeremy. “The police won’t believe us unless we have proof. If anyone comes, yell, then run home.”
Jeremy dashed to the back of the cave, jumping when a loose pebble dropped from the cave wall. Heart pounding, he grabbed a bag.
Just then Alice cried,“Run, Jeremy, they’re back!”
They ran through the trees, toward the river, the horsemen fast behind them.
“Jeremy,” sobbed Alice, “I can’t run any more.”
Jeremy dropped the bag. He had to keep Alice safe. He took the magic rock out of his pocket. If he gave it to them, maybe they would let Alice go.
“Run, Alice.” Turning toward the horsemen, he slipped and fell sprawling. The rock flew out of his hand.
Face in the dirt, hands clasped over his head, he prayed, “Please, God, let them take me and let Alice go.”
“Jeremy!” Alice called. He looked up. The bag and horsemen were gone.
“What happened? Where are they?”
“I don’t know,” said Alice. “Suddenly, they disappeared.”
Jeremy looked around. The landscape was familiar now. He thought about the strange rock.
“Alice, it’s crazy, but I think that rock made us be somewhere else for a while.”
“Oh, Jeremy, you lost it. Let’s look, maybe we can find it.” Jeremy shivered.
“That’s o.k. Alice. “ He said. Gently he took her hand. “Let’s go home. It’s almost supper time.”
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