One day Harry felt like going for a hike. He missed his parent’s farm and woodlot trails, but he knew a friend who had a farm nearby. He called his friend.
“Johanna,” said Harry, “I need to go on a hike.”
“Well,” answered Johanna, “My young son Henry is just getting home from school. He would be a great guide for a hike.”
“Done,” said Harry. He jumped in his car and drove over to the farm. Henry had just arrived home. His dogs, big Burke and little Bruno met Harry in the driveway.
Big Burke normally ate visitors to the farm, but she liked Harry. She licked his ear and he rubbed her head and they were ready to go.
Henry knew all of the trails on his farm. With Burke leading the way, Henry and Harry made their way past the horses and the chickens and the goat and headed into the forest. There were trilliums and trout lilies blooming everywhere. Spring was finally really here!
“You have to watch out for the arrows,” said Henry, casually.
“What?” exclaimed Harry, getting ready to duck.
“Before we moved here, they used to do archery,” explained Henry. “Sometimes I find arrows in the forest. You have to look for the yellow ends.”
“Ahh,” replied Harry, relaxing. “So old arrows on the ground with yellow nocks. I get it,” said Harry. “You know, Henry, I have bow collection of my own.”
“Really?!” said Henry.
“Yes indeedy. All wood, old school – I used to pretend I was Robin Hood on my farm. I’ll bring them over next time.”
“When I find the arrows, I fix them up,” said Henry.
“Then we’ll have to call you Henry Fletcher,” laughed Harry. “A fletcher is a person who fixes arrows.”
They walked and talked for quite a while, and then Henry said, “There’s a big old house back here, near the toboggan hill. It’s abandoned.”
“Seriously,” asked Harry.
“Yes. I got in trouble there once. I went hiking over with another kid and we looked in and he threw rocks and we went inside and a can of paint sprayed all over me and when we got back home he blamed me but my dad called his dad and he apologized.”
“Well,” said Harry, “You don’t need friends like that.”
“He wasn’t a friend,” replied Henry, matter of factly, “just a boy visiting.”
Harry smiled. Innocence keeps it all so simple. Then he looked up and saw the house across the field. The toboggan hill loomed off to one side, but there was no mistaking the house, if you could call it that. It looked like a big white monster mansion, not what you’d expect to find in the back forty.
“There it is,” said Henry. “Nothing inside now, they took the insides away. Just some old junk now. And broken stuff.” Harry had his theories about who would build something like this way back here. Being an investigative reporter he was going to do a little “Clark Kent” on this one.
“Henry,” he mused, “How about if you and I take a little closer look next time we go on a hike? Like detectives. With your parent’s permission of course.”
“Sure!” exclaimed Henry.
Harry’s cell phone alarm vibrated. “Henry, we have to head back. Not only do I tell stories, and write the news, and have bows and arrows, but I am also the cook and I have a dinner to prepare.”
“Follow me,” said Henry, and they headed back through the beautiful woods to the farm with Burke leading the way. Suddenly Henry stopped. “Hey, look at this!”
It was a pile of feathers on the ground. Some bird had been plucked for dinner. “I wonder if it’s coyotes.” said Henry, “They took the head off one of our chickens last night.” He picked up a feather. “I wonder how they put this on an arrow?”
Harry thought the chicken killer was more likely a weasel or a raccoon or even an owl, but he’d keep that for the next hike. “Well, then it’s a good thing we’re hiking with Burke,” he exclaimed, “Don’t want any old coyotes plucking off our heads! And keep that feather – next time I’ll bring over an arrow and you can fletch it.” Henry smiled.
When they got back to the farm, Henry shook Harry’s hand, and took off to play. Henry’s Mom came over to say goodbye.
“Quite a boy,” said Harry, “Great guide on the trails. I’m going to write down his stories. I’m already looking forward to our next hike. Thank you for sharing.”
“Thank you for caring,” answered Johanna, “Henry will love the story.”
Harry patted Burke and Bruno goodbye and got in his car. “I wonder,” he thought as he drove home, “who owned that big abandoned mansion hidden in the back forty? Curious and curiouser ….” Harry knew exactly what he and Henry were going to do on their next hike.
Coming soon: Part 2 – Henry and Harry, fletchers and detectives