The four boys remaining sat around a small, smoky fire, praying that neither the light nor the smoke would give away their location. They watched each other carefully, but were too tired and scared to do much more than that. None dared sleep, none dared speak.
A dragging, splintery noise came from out of the forest. Softly now, but the boys gasped and twitched. Davey reached for his walking stick and stumbled to his feet. His neckerchief was askew, his hat long lost, his face pale , but he tried to look heroic as he faced the trees. He was the oldest, it was his responsibility to keep them safe, the last four boys.
The noises were getting louder and now there was the huff puff noise of ragged breathing. Jake started to whimper, holding his knees tight to his chest. Ethan hunkered down with the fire between him and Davey and the noises. That left Jeremy, the littlest one, to stand beside Davey and wait.
Underneath the huff puff splinter thump now came a new noise, the high-pitched wail of a child.