By Larry Watson
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In the woods there was less snow but more debris—fallen branches and leaves and undergrowth—and these made for slow going. Not having discussed a strategy, we each began to search in our own way. Johnny moved rapidly through the woods, hopping over branches and zigzagging through the brush in an effort to cover as much territory as possible. I kept my head down and determinedly trod through the leaves, deadfall, and thorny stalks of weeds. Only nineteen days separated Johnny and me in age, but I often felt like his older brother, his worldly, rougheredged older brother.
And if you were lucky enough to be on his team, your game improved instantly. He’d pass the puck to you in such a way that it didn’t even seem as if you had to catch it; it would simply land on your stick at exactly the instant when it had to be there. And with what seemed to be little more than a flick of the wrist, his shots on goal flew from his stick as if the puck were rocket propelled. One Sunday a few weeks after that Thanksgiving Day when Louisa Lindahl was brought to the doctor’s clinic, we gathered for a game.
Julia, often willing to allow her more vocal sister to speak for her, eagerly nodded her interest as well. The Dunbar twins were bright, bold little girls whose adventurous spirits made them seem more like their father than their mother. Dr. Dunbar looked from one daughter to the other as if their request warranted serious consideration. Finally he said, “I don’t doubt that you two have eyes every bit as sharp as the boys’, but that’s just the problem. I’m afraid you might find her. And that means you might see something you wish you hadn’t.