Nigel contacted his men updating orders and sharing information.  He listened intently watching as June lit a small fire, enough to keep them warm but hopefully not enough to alert others to their presence.  Luckily there were plenty of aromatic smells in the area to disconcert.

They ate in companionable silence as while contemplating the current state of affairs.

“Roland’s notebook was his talisman.  He wouldn’t go anywhere without it.  That he left it behind is telling,” June remarked between mouthfuls.

“I get that.  I’m also hoping we’ll find other clues they’ve left to indicate a direction.”

June paused, took a deep breath and said, “As long as we’re finding clues, it’s safe to assume they’re still alive.”

Nigel stared intently into her eyes before responding.  “Yes, it is.”  She was a strong woman and he wasn’t about to hide pertinent facts from her.  Better she knew what they might find, could find, what might lay ahead.  Even though he hoped it was otherwise, it was a distinct possibility that one or both could be injured whether by fowl means or otherwise. 

If the situation had escalated into a kidnapping, they wouldn’t have much use for Roland unless Jackson was injured or made it part of the deal that Roland remained with him. 

“I know Roland would never leave Jackson stranded; nor would the reverse be true.  I’m sure they are together, wherever they are,” then added, “It could be they are working in tandem, leaving clues.  I don’t understand why we aren’t finding footprints or campfires, something to suggest they were here.”

“The brush here is dense. They’d be smart to hike beside what little path there is, but even the path itself is laden with fallen leaves etc.  But your right, I’ve wondered the same.  Could be they are tossing the clues when no one is looking.”

“Or one is trailing the other. I hadn’t thought of that.”

“It’s a possibility as well.”

June sighed, “My mind keeps running through a hundred different scenarios and I can’t decide which makes more sense.”

“Hopefully the clues they’re leaving (and continue leaving) will add up to create a picture for us.”

“I hope so.  I truly hope so.”

Night fell and they dragged their sleeping bags out and before long were sound asleep as the distant sounds of creatures lessened and silence reigned.

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