"Tell us about the Voice in the Forest," Laura would ask him.
He crinkled up (squeezed) his eyes at her. "Oh, no!" he said. "You don't want to hear about the time I was a naughty little boy."
"Oh, yes, we do! We do!" Laura and Mary said. So her father began.
The Story of her Father and the Voice in the Forest Part 1
WHEN I was a little boy, not much bigger than Mary, I had to go every afternoon to find the cows in the forest and bring them home. My father told me never to play, but to hurry and bring the cows home before dark, because there were bears and wolves and panthers in the forest.
One day I started earlier than usual, so I thought I did not need to hurry. There were so many things to see in the forest that I forgot that the dark night was coming. There were red squirrels in the trees, chipmunks running through the leaves and little rabbits playing games together. Little rabbits, you know, always have games together before they go to bed.
I began to play, I was a mighty (strong) hunter, hunting the wild animals. I played that I was fighting the wood-men, until the forest seemed full of wild men and then all-at-once I heard the birds singing good night. It was dark on the path and night was coming in the forest.
I knew that I must get the cows home quickly, or it would be black night before they were safe in the barn. And I couldn't find the cows!
I listened, but I could not hear their bells. I called, but the cows didn't come.
I was afraid of the dark and the wild animals. I could not go home to my father without the cows. So I ran through the forest, looking and calling. All the time the shadows were getting bigger and darker. The forest seemed larger; the trees and the bushes looked strange.
I could not find the cows anywhere. I climbed up hills, looking for them and calling. I went down into dark places, calling and looking. I stopped and listened for the cows' bells and there was no sound, but the wind blowing on the leaves.
Then I heard loud breathing and thought a huge wild cat, like a panther was there, in the dark behind me. But it was only my own breathing.