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The Gang sat in the tree house eating moon pies, drinking RC Colas, and thinking about the night that Chloe and Susanna heard the screams in the woods.

Sara broke the silence first. “Those Snyder girls are pretty tough. If we go sneaking around their place and get caught…” Sara didn’t get to finish.

“That’s just it. We won’t get caught. Not if you do what I tell you to do.” Chloe sighed.

“And just what is that?”

“Well, gee whiskers, I don’t rightly know just this minute, but I’m working on it.” Chloe sat motionless, her eyes darting to and fro; it was obvious she was thinking. Suddenly she blurted out, “I’ve got it! We’ll sneak through the woods to the Snyder’s place and hide behind the barn and wait.”

“Wait for what?” Susanna interrupted. “I still remember what happened the last time we waited behind the barn!”

“What happened?” Sadie asked.

“Do you want to tell them or shall I?” Susanna asked Chloe, but didn’t wait for an answer. “We nearly got caught that’s what! I think that boy, Cletus, has a sixth sense. Do you remember what happened next?” Susanna stood facing Chloe with her hands on her hips and her head leaning forward, resembling a long-necked goose. “Just in case you forgot, I’ll remind you.” She then turned to the other girls, “We were behind the barn, barely peeking around the corner watching the red-headed Snyder girl chase after Cletus. He was headed toward the barn, but at once, he stopped running, so quickly that the girl smacked into him. His beady eyes shifted to a bug-eyed stare; he scrunched his flat nose, widening his nostrils, and sniffed the air like a hound that’d just picked up the scent of a coon. But it wasn’t a coon he smelled…it was us!” Her own eyes were now wildly wide. “And I ain’t going back there again.” She emphatically stated. “If you go, you go alone.” Dominating the scene with her adamant words, Susanna was anything but agreeable with Chloe, no matter what kind of plan she could come up with. The other girls, still shuddering with goose bumps after listening to Susanna explain things, simply nodded in complete agreement with her.

Obviously, Susanna had been frightened enough by what had happened the day she and Chloe decided to take matters in their own hands, and follow the suspicious trail that eventually led to the Snyder’s homestead. She had no desire to go there again, especially if they were guilty of killing someone.

“Oh, alright. But you’re all a bunch of scaredy cats!” Feeling outdone by her comrades, Chloe decided to go home and told them so.

Kicking a rock with the toe of her shoe, Chloe walked along the road. She couldn’t stop thinking about the article in the paper: ‘If anyone had any information regarding the death of the said victim, they should report it at once to the sheriff’s office.’

What if the screams we heard were those of the dead man? What if the Snyder’s’ were the ones who killed him? Wasn’t that information? Those were the questions that plagued her. It seemed to her, there was only one answer, but then she remembered her daddy’s words: ‘Sometimes, you just gotta let a dead dog lay.” But Chloe simply wasn’t convinced that she should walk away from her suspicions. She sat down beneath an oak tree, again to think. This time, her mother’s words came to her: ‘Chloe, you always seem to come up short with your thinking, and that’s what gets you into trouble.’ Well, she thought, this is one time I’m gonna think things through. I have to figure out a way to get proof—ironclad proof, that the Snyder’s are guilty. Or not.

Katy and Emily had gone over to Peg’s to help her finish with the summer canning, while Sam helped Dave work on the tractor. Their not being home, made it easier for Chloe to go back to the house and gather the items she needed for her adventure.

Chloe decided to take a short cut to the river, and although she was alone, she was most assuredly on her way to the Snyder’s.