Authors: Judith Silverthorne
© Judith Silverthorne, 2006.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from The Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit www.accesscopyright.ca or call toll free to 1-800-893-5777.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Edited by Barbara Sapergia
Cover illustrations by Aries Cheung
Cover and book design by Duncan Campbell
National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data
Silverthorne, Judith, date-
Dinosaur stakeout / Judith Silverthorne.
(Dinosaur adventure series ; 3)
Includes bibliographical references.
I. Dinosaurs—Juvenile fiction. I. Title. II. Series:
Silverthorne, Judith, date— Dinosaur adventure series ; 3.
ps8587.i2763d57 2006 jc813'.54 c2006-901289-x
2517 Victoria Avenue, Regina Saskatchwan Canada S4P 0T2
The publisher gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Canada Council for the Arts, including the Millennium Arts Fund, the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development
Association for the Export of Canadian Books,
and the City of Regina Arts Commission, for its publishing program.
As always to my son, Aaron,
who inspired me with this series
from the beginning.
To Danion and Modeste
for their enthusiasm and support
In memory of Blackie and Wild Bill.
aniel bolted upright before the six a.m.
alarm rang. Daylight streamed across his bed through the slits in the blinds. Without hesitation, he threw the covers off and limped into the bathroom as fast as he could to beat the rest of his family. Today, the first of the tourists would be arriving at their dinosaur dig operation, and he didn’t want to miss a thing!
The idea for a tourist business had begun a year and a half earlier when the Bringhams’ reclusive neighbour, Ole Pederson, had located an almost complete
skeleton right on the border of their adjoining property. Daniel had helped with this important find and other fossils they’d unearthed too. Their discoveries had been housed in the Climax museum soon afterwards so the public could view them.
A short time later, he and Mr. Pederson had campaigned for a paleontology tourist operation with Daniel’s parents. They agreed the plan would be a great way to bring much-needed income to help them keep their farm. Then the Lindstroms, his best friend Jed’s family, had become partners in it too. Tourists could visit a real dig, stay for lunch, or even camp overnight in the new campground the two families had built.
Stepping into the shower stall, Daniel groaned. He clung to the towel rod as the water cascaded over him, trying to avoid getting the scrapes on his head wet. He examined the abrasions on his arms and legs and the long scratch across his chest. He thought again of the past few days and how the bullying Nelwin brothers – Craig and Todd – had caused many of his injuries. Of course, tussling with dinosaurs hadn’t helped any, but he hadn’t told his parents that part of the story. Who would believe that he’d been flung into prehistoric time?
It was bad enough that the Nelwins had attacked him and tried to destroy his secret hideout. Their jealousy over his and Ole Pederson’s previous paleontology finds – and the special recognition that resulted – had boiled over the day before. They’d caused some serious damage to his hideout and to his parents’ property too. The worst thing was that they’d been hurled into the time of the dinosaurs with him, and now they were in on his secret.
Daniel had acquired a piece of redwood bark a few days earlier when he’d been unexpectedly transported back in time to the Cretaceous Period, and he’d learned that even a small object from that time had the power to send him back to the era of the dinosaurs. He’d hidden the bark in his hideout, but the Nelwins had uncovered it as they tried to wreck Daniel’s belongings. When Daniel had grabbed Craig to keep him from touching it, Todd had seized his arm. They’d all connected when Craig touched the bark, and found themselves instantly thrown back to a dangerous prehistoric world.
The Nelwins couldn’t believe it. They’d thought Daniel had tricked them somehow, and Craig wouldn’t give him the piece of bark – their only way to get back to their own time. Only after a
ripped a chunk out of Daniel’s pant leg and a
tried to eat them for dinner had Daniel been able to convince Craig to give up the piece of bark. Even so, at the last moment a
narrowly missed slashing Daniel’s chest open. So much for his trying to save the Nelwins! He shuddered again as he remembered the harrowing experience.
Once they’d returned safely, Daniel demanded that the Nelwins restore his hideout and swore them to secrecy about its location. He also secured Pederson and Jed’s silence about their time travel adventures.
Back at home, Daniel’s family decided to drop the charges of vandalism against the Nelwin brothers in exchange for restitution. This meant they would have to work off the damage they’d done around the farm and at the campground after they’d cleaned up Daniel’s hideout. They also had to help Daniel with his barn chores, because he’d been hurt when they pushed him down a hillside in a barrel during their rampage.
They had seemed contrite enough the evening before, but would Craig and Todd keep up their end of the bargain and show up for work today?
By the time Daniel dressed, he could hear his mom rattling breakfast dishes in the kitchen. She had worked some of her nursing wonders on him the night before, and his scrapes and cuts were already beginning to heal over. Even his leg seemed to have limbered with the hot water from the shower and his moving about. As he stepped into the hallway, he met his dad with a fresh towel slung over his shoulder, heading for the bathroom.
“I can see you don’t need any prodding to do your chores this morning, son!” Dad’s dark eyes rested on him with affection. He tousled Daniel’s hair, avoiding the painful areas on his head.
Daniel grinned and headed towards the stairs. When Dad had safely closed the bathroom door, Daniel slid down the banister, and with a
landed on the floor at the bottom.
“Daniel!” Mom said, with a warning raise of her eyebrows.
“It’s easier, Mom!” He pointed to his sore leg.
She shook her head and popped the batter-filled muffin pans into the oven. “We don’t need you falling on your noggin too!”
Daniel headed out the door to do his barn chores. As he made his way across the yard, the twittering of the sparrows in the caragana hedge signalled a perfect July day. A gentle breeze ruffled his still damp dark hair and there wasn’t a cloud in the bright blue morning sky. Dactyl, his golden retriever named after the prehistoric pterodactyl, dashed across the yard towards him. Daniel sank slowly down on one knee to pet him, then continued on his way.
With each step, he studied the ground and thought of the many layers of rock underneath him, which designated the various geological ages of the earth towards its
molten centre. The one he was most keenly interested in –
the Cretaceous Period – lay only a few metres below his feet. A flush of excitement coursed through him as he recalled the fantastic things he’d discovered in that prehistoric world. He got goosebumps just thinking of what fossils might lie beneath where he walked. If only he could explore more of it.
Once at the barnyard, he herded the two milk cows into the barn, luring them with a ready pail of chop – today, just crushed oats – from the feed room right inside the barn. He fed and watered the two animals, then eased himself carefully onto the milking stool by their prize Holstein, Lily. As he leaned his head against her soft belly and began milking her, the Nelwin brothers entered the barn. They already knew what they were supposed to do. Daniel watched to see how they’d do it.
Todd, a strapping sixteen-year-old with dark, bristly hair, grunted hello to Daniel. Snatching up a pitchfork, he moved into a newly vacated stall where he hoisted manure onto the stoneboat parked in the middle of the barn. He attacked the muck in short rapid movements as if he was afraid of being reprimanded for not doing the work fast enough.
Craig shuffled behind his brother, sullenly letting his shoulder-length brown hair fall over his eyes. The stocky fifteen-year-old nodded at Daniel as he picked up a second fork and began cleaning out a stall.
They all worked quietly for a few minutes. The only sounds came from the scraping of pitchforks on the wooden floor, the
of milk hitting the metal pail, and the soft mews of the kittens as they chased one another through the loose straw. Dust motes floated in the air, caught on the sunbeams flowing from a high, small window. Daniel glanced over at the brothers across the barn in the subdued light of the interior. He could see they’d rolled up their sleeves and were working industriously.
When he was done milking Lily, Daniel gave her a pat on the rump and moved over to Daisy. Robotically, he milked the second cow while she stood placidly chewing her cud. A few moments later, Dactyl came through the open sliding door to investigate. He sniffed Todd and Craig all over as they petted him eagerly, then he wandered about the barn examining the stalls.
“Dactyl!” Daniel called softly.
Wagging his tail happily, Dactyl came over and licked Daniel’s face. Daniel gave Dactyl a nudge with his shoulder and continued milking Daisy. His pet wandered back outside, and gave chase to some crows that had landed on a nearby fencepost. From the pasture just beyond the barn, Gypsy, his grey pinto mare, whinnied anxiously for her breakfast.
Daniel’s stomach rumbled too and he quickly finished milking. Releasing Lily and Daisy to wander back into the fenced part of the farmyard, he stepped outside to pour some milk into an old tin saucer for the kittens and Marble, the mother cat. Then he dropped the pails of milk inside the separating room. With a quick backward glance at the Nelwins, he walked outside to feed Gypsy and the older horse, Pepper.
When Daniel headed back to the separating room, a shaft of daylight shone across Todd and Craig. Daniel looked more closely at the pair and noticed there were bruises on Craig’s arms. He approached the brothers, who were talking together, but as he drew closer, they went silent again. At least they were keeping up their end of the work bargain so far. What was going on with them wasn’t any of his business.
Some minutes later, Daniel finished separating the milk. Dismantling the machine, he left the components to soak in the hot water provided by Dad earlier. Mom would finish washing them later when she fed the chickens and gathered eggs. When she had to be at work at the hospital early, these tasks became Daniel’s, and he was relieved that he didn’t have to do them today. Many families in the community just bought milk products and eggs at the store, but the Bringhams preferred fresh, home-produced foods wherever possible.
“I’m going in for breakfast now,” Daniel said, carrying the pails of milk and cream to the door. The boys continued to work, barely acknowledging him.
Suddenly, a thought struck him. He turned back to the brothers. “Have you eaten?”
More mumbles came from the brothers with a general nod of their heads that Daniel could only take to mean they had. Thoughtfully, Daniel limped across the yard towards the house. How had Craig got the bruises?
In the kitchen, he sat down beside Cheryl in her high chair and helped himself to muffins and chunks of juicy cantaloupe. Shortly afterwards, Dad came in and joined them at the table. Cheryl poked at the muffin, broke a piece off and popped it into her mouth, then offered a chunk to Daniel, her blue eyes sparkling with
mischief. She laughed as he took a big bite and chomped
There was a knock on the door and Ole Pederson appeared. He was clean-shaven and his white wisps of hair were patted down. His grey eyes twinkled with anticipation.
“Anything for you, Ole?” Mom asked.
“Just coffee,” he answered, sitting next to Daniel. “Had breakfast some time ago.”
As Mom poured the steaming brown liquid, she glanced out the window at the sound of a tractor starting up.
“That’ll be the Nelwins hauling the stoneboat to the manure pile,” Dad said, without getting up to look. “They’re done in good time.”
“Guess it makes a difference with three of you doing the work.” Mom smiled at Daniel.
He nodded with a wry look on his face. “Sure is a hard way to get some help!” Daniel declared, pointing to his bruises, as they all laughed.
“Do you know if they’ve had breakfast?” Mom asked Daniel.
“I think so,” he answered, passing the plate of fruit to Mr. Pederson. “At least, that’s what they said.”
Without a word, Mom poured juice into two disposable glasses, grabbed a couple of serviettes, and a paper plate, placed four muffins and a stack of fruit on it, and headed out the door. Dad and Ole Pederson didn’t seem to notice. Daniel stared after her with curiosity.
A few minutes later, he peeked out the window and saw Mom heading back to the house empty-handed. So the Nelwins hadn’t eaten breakfast after all.
When Daniel’s mom reappeared in the kitchen, he thought she looked upset.
“Something wrong, Libby?” Daniel’s dad asked.
“It’s the Nelwins. I don’t think they had any breakfast before they left.”
“That’s not good. We’ll have to feed them well when they’re working here.”
“Yes,” she said, “we can certainly do that.”
Pederson addressed Daniel. “So, you all set to go?”
Dad consulted a sheet of paper at his elbow. “The first guests will be here in an hour or so. They’re doing the quarry tour, and some hikes, and are camping here tonight.”
“How many are there?” asked Daniel.
“Looks like two adults and their two young children.”
“Piece of cake!” said Daniel. He thought about his best friend Jed and his sister Lucy, coming to help as guides.
“Yes, but there are twenty other groups coming throughout the day!”
“Whoa!” Daniel took the last bite of his muffin. All three of them would be busy keeping track of the visitors, while the adults did their respective jobs.
Dad continued reading down the list as they finished their breakfast.
“Most are staying over,” he said. “Then there are the ones that may just drop in.”
“We have our work cut out for us today!” Ole Pederson said. “So let’s get to it!” He downed the last of his coffee and shuffled to his feet.
Daniel felt the excitement ripple through his body. Sharing their paleontological finds with others was a thrill, although maybe not as exhilarating as seeing the creatures in the flesh. He had learned a great deal about dinosaurs by flipping into prehistoric time and would love to know more, but he could do without the danger. Going
to the ancient past again was out of the question anyway –
since he’d tossed away the scrap of redwood bark on his last trip. He had no way to get back, and no way to return. Still, a little part of his adventurous spirit wished he could find a way to go back one more time. The rest of him was relieved it could never happen again.
penny for your thoughts,”
said Ole Pederson when they stepped into the bright sunshine of the farmyard. Dad had stayed behind to have a last minute conversation with Mom, so they were alone.
“Just thinking about seeing live dinosaurs,” Daniel said quietly.
Pederson cocked his head and waited for Daniel to continue.
“Mr. Pederson, do you believe I’ve been going back to prehistoric time?” Daniel asked tentatively.
The old man took his time responding, as they sauntered over to his old Studebaker truck.
“I don’t know what to think, Daniel. I can’t imagine how you could have. Yet you certainly experienced something. Do
think it was real?”
“Sure felt like it,” answered Daniel. “It was just like you and I standing here now. I’ve had dreams, but they weren’t that vivid.” He eyed Mr. Pederson, waiting for his reaction.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it, but this old world is a strange place and I’ve always tried to keep an open mind. So I suppose, why not this?” said Pederson, unloading the equipment he’d take with him for the day.
“I can’t think of any other likely explanation,” said Daniel, watching the old man. He was pretty sure Pederson believed him.
Pederson raised his eyebrows. “Indeed, how would you have acquired some of those cuts and bruises during your episode otherwise? The Nelwins sure aren’t responsible for all of them. I know it’s not your imagination and you surely couldn’t do that to yourself.”
He patted Daniel on the shoulder. “I never would have thought it possible. But I’m glad that’s behind us and it won’t happen again.”
“Me too,” replied Daniel, feeling happy and relieved now that his friend and mentor accepted the truth about his travels. Then he looked at Mr. Pederson and asked, “Would you have liked to go, if you’d had the chance?”
“Who wouldn’t want to explore knowledge like that first-hand?” Mr. Pederson hoisted his pack onto his back. “But this is a great time to experience too, lad.”
Then, drawing his arm across the skyline encompassing the farmyard, the campsite, and the direction of the quarry, he said, “This quarry operation is enough of an accomplishment for me.”
Pederson adjusted his backpack and they stood in companionable silence, each lost in his own thoughts.
Moments later, the Lindstrom family pulled into the driveway. They parked their bright red Chevrolet Silverado crew-cab truck in the shade behind the combination outdoor kitchen and snack bar. Jed’s family poured out of the truck, all chattering at once. Dactyl barked excitedly, running from one to another, wagging his tail.
Mom came from the house with a huge coffee urn, headed for the outdoor kitchen. Greta Lindstrom, Jed’s mom, followed from the truck with large plastic containers of baking. The two youngest daughters, Leanne and Lindsay, came behind with bags of groceries containing fresh fruit, vegetables, homemade bread, and assorted condiments. Lucy carried a portfolio under her arm, and she and Jed joined Daniel and Mr. Pederson.
They could see Jed’s dad, Doug Lindstrom, coming slowly down the road in a beat-up old jeep with a string of trotting quarter horses tied behind. These gentle animals would be used for the tourists, while the guides rode Gypsy or Pepper. When Doug Lindstrom arrived in the yard, Dad jumped into the jeep with him and they drove at a snail’s pace down the winding trail towards the campsite halfway down the valley. Meanwhile, Ole Pederson gathered Daniel, Jed, and Lucy around him.
“All right, team, are you ready to go?” Ole Pederson asked, eyeing each of them. “Lucy, tourist maps and info sheets?”
Lucy opened up the satchel and held up a sheaf of papers. “Ready!”
“Check!” said Pederson. “Jed?”
“Ready to go, sir!” He dug a piece of paper out of his pocket and unfolded it to reveal a map with special markings on it. The plan was to give their guests the best view and include botanical sights along the way, while at the same time preserving the natural habitat.
Pederson nodded at Jed. “Good!”
Then he turned to Daniel with a twinkle in his eyes. “I already know you’re revved up!”
“Who’s taking the first group?” Lucy asked, turning businesslike.
“That will depend on what the guests want – if they’re hiking on foot, or want the horseback trail – and what all of you decide.” Pederson replied. He obviously didn’t want to choose between them.
“I’ll go over the information and rules with them,” Lucy volunteered. “Then if either Jed or Daniel wants to take them, that’s okay with me.”
“Why don’t you take them, Jed?” Daniel offered. “I have to get the Nelwins started at cleaning my hideout.”
“You’re sure?” Jed said eagerly, tucking in his shirt and patting down his fair curly hair.
Daniel nodded. He could see the Nelwins out of the corner of his eye. Todd jumped off the parked tractor as he approached, and Craig closed the barn door firmly. “You’ll do fine! I’ll be just a whistle away.”
The three guides had devised a sequence of whistling with their fingers to alert each other when they needed help. Pederson also had a code, if he needed them.
“All right, I’m heading off to the dig,” Pederson said. “I’ll see you there soon, Jed. And the rest of you later.”
Pederson strode off to his truck to pick up the remainder of his gear. Jed and Lucy headed for the outdoor kitchen to help where they could. Mom crossed the yard to the henhouse, egg basket in hand. Daniel headed towards the Nelwins.
“All done the barn chores?” Daniel inquired pleasantly when he joined them.
“Yeah,” Todd said. His stance suggested he had better things to do, but would tolerate Daniel.
Craig joined them, his head hung low. He wouldn’t look Daniel in the eyes.
“What do you have planned for us next?” Todd asked somewhat sourly.
“Hey, I didn’t cause the problems in the first place, you know?” Daniel said, somewhat taken aback by Todd’s attitude.
“Yeah, right, I know,” said Todd in a low voice. “That doesn’t mean we have to be cheerful.”
“Fine.” Daniel said. “We’re headed for the hideout. Did you bring the cleaning stuff?”
“We left it in the hills on our way over,” Craig mumbled.
“Okay, let’s go.” Daniel took the lead.
As they covered the rough terrain across the hills, Daniel guided Craig and Todd along the most direct route to his hideout. Dactyl joined them, scampering ahead. The landscape around them was typical southwestern Saskatchewan – scrubby brush, grassy knolls, stones, and rolling hills. The Bringham farmyard was on the crest of a hill overlooking the Frenchman River Valley. Daniel’s hideout was in a natural cave in a coulee between two hills.
Perky gophers darted through the patchy meadow grass to their holes, in the bright morning sunshine. Crows cawed as they winged their way across the valley floor. All around them grasshoppers whirred and tiny flying insects bobbed about their heads. As they scuffed past tallish pale green stalks with long, slender leaves, whiffs of pungent sage wafted up to them.
Craig and Todd said little, and halfway there, they came across the broom, shovel, and several garbage bags the Nelwins had stashed earlier. When they stopped to retrieve them, Daniel unzipped his backpack and reached into the middle section. He handed each of the boys a bottle of water. Gratefully, they accepted and took big swigs. The sun was much higher and hotter now.
“Daniel, can I ask you something?” Craig asked tentatively, peering at him out of the corner of his eye.
“Do you, uh, do you believe we really went back to dinosaur time?”
Todd shuffled closer to hear the answer.
“What do you think?” Daniel asked.
“Sure felt real,” answered Craig.
Beside him, Todd nodded slowly.
“It was scarier than any nightmare I’ve ever had.” Craig offered. “I guess it must have happened.”
“I can’t think of anything else that makes any sense,” admitted Todd.
“There doesn’t seem to be any other explanation, does there?” Daniel asked, giving them an opportunity to suggest other reasons, even though he knew it had truly happened.
The boys shuffled uneasily. Almost at the same time, they looked over at the cuts and scrapes on Daniel’s arms and legs, easily visible since he wore shorts and a T-shirt. The cuts and scrapes to his body hadn’t been there before their trip to prehistoric time.
“The whole episode was as real-life as right now,” Daniel said. Then he confessed, “But if I hadn’t done it a couple of times before, I wouldn’t think it actually happened either.”
The boys were silent then, thinking. Craig shivered. Todd’s face had a haunted look, as he scuffled off with the tools in his arms. Craig grabbed the rest of the cleaning stuff and followed his brother. Daniel walked along behind them.
By the time they arrived at the hideout, the Nelwins seemed more relaxed in Daniel’s company. Dactyl disappeared over a rise as Daniel led the way inside, crawling on his hands and knees. Todd followed. Then Craig brought in the tools.
Most of the larger chunks of debris the Nelwins had strewn about were gathered together into piles, but there were still plenty of bits all over the floor. Broken pieces of rock, bones, parts of a rattlesnake skin, twigs, wrappers from snacks, fossils, and clumps of dirt littered the place from front to back. Sunlight streamed through the hole Daniel had made as a window at the top of the hideout. Off to one side, Daniel’s old paleontology research book lay in a heap, tattered, with many of the pages torn out of it.
Daniel set down his backpack and went to retrieve the sections of his almost ruined book. He sat down, heavy-hearted, on his tree stump in the middle of the cave under the skylight opening, sighing as he tried to piece it back together. It was going to take more than glue!
As he worked to reassemble the pages, the Nelwins picked up the bigger chunks of wreckage, tossing them into a garbage bag. Then they stood looking at the piles of stones, arrowheads, animal bones, special rocks, archeological tools, and other items as if they didn’t know where to begin.
“Set the rock samples along that wall,” Daniel pointed to the back of the hideout. “You can roll up the sleeping bag and set it beside them. The string and twine need to be rewrapped and put into these containers,” he nodded towards rusty coffee cans on the floor next to his feet.
“Just leave the piles of stones and fossils where they are. I’ll need to bring some new containers.”
They’d stomped on the plastic ice cream pails and crushed the coffee tins during their rampage. Daniel also knew they would never be able to sort out the stones and fossil pieces properly. He’d have to do it another time.
A while later, those tasks completed, the brothers began sweeping the floor and gathering the leftovers into the shovel, then dumping it into the garbage bags. Daniel ducked outside to get away from the dust. By now, he’d done the best he could with his book. He’d have to take it home to do any other repairs. He grabbed a side flap to stick it inside his backpack.
With the flap opened, Daniel’s hand stopped in midair. A small pine cone was stuck to the Velcro tab! He dropped the backpack and stepped away. Rooted to the spot, he stared down at the small cone. It must have fallen into his backpack during his last trip into prehistoric time. Maybe it had happened when he and the Nelwins had leapt from the trees after the
had left them for a better meal?
What was he going to do? He was sure the pine cone would work the same way as the piece of redwood bark that had catapulted him and the Nelwins into the past. He couldn’t leave it on his backpack. And if he came in contact with it, he knew he’d be hurled back into the past again as quick as a bee sting. Sure, he could probably drop the cone to return to his current life, but would he be lucky enough to escape being seriously injured or eaten before he could come back?
He shuddered just thinking about the final thing he’d experienced the time before. He’d nearly lost his life – narrowly escaping a small, fast, meat-eating theropod dinosaur with its deadly sickle-like claw on each foot, which had attacked just before he’d suddenly returned to the present.
What if he removed the cone with a stick or something? But even if he unstuck it from his backpack, where would he keep it? He needed somewhere safe so that no one else would be exposed to it. He recalled again how the Nelwins had intruded into his special place and discovered it. He didn’t want anything like that to happen again. But thinking about the Nelwins brought him back to the present. They must almost be finished cleaning. He had to do something with the cone before they came out.
Taking a deep breath, Daniel seized a branch from near the entranceway of his hideout – one he figured would do the job properly. Quickly, he stripped the branch of dead leaves and twigs. Then he took another gulp of air. Reaching out with the stick, he stood for a few moments unsure if he was about to disappear. He held his breath as he gathered his courage. Then, quickly, he jabbed at the cone with the tip of his stick. Nothing happened. He drew back.
Okay, he had to be directly touching it before anything could happen. He nudged at it again. The Velcro on the backpack held the cone fast against his soft proddings. He stabbed a third time, using more force.
All at once it let go and flipped into the air. Daniel watched the cone rise as if in slow motion. It did a slow twirl and landed nearly touching his left foot. He jumped back with a little yelp.
Just then, Craig thrust his head outside the hideout. He stopped short, causing Todd to holler at him from behind. Craig stared at Daniel, taking in the situation. He cowered back. Todd squeezed out past him and came to an abrupt halt.
Daniel stood still, not daring to move. “Don’t touch it!” he yelled.
“Is that from dinosaur time?” Todd asked in a low, scared voice.
Craig shuddered. “Keep it away from me!”
“You bet I will,” said Daniel. “I don’t want anyone to touch it. I just don’t know what to do about it yet!”
“Where did it come from?” Craig’s voice quavered.
Daniel explained his suspicions. Todd and Craig sidled away from the cone and moved behind Daniel.
“How about burying it?” Todd asked.
“But what if someone or some animal accidentally uncovered it?” Daniel asked.
“Bury it really deep,” suggested Craig.
“I wouldn’t trust that! We could get a big rain and then wind could erode the dirt away!” Daniel said. “That’s how many fossils came to be discovered.”
“How about hiding it in there?” Craig pointed to Daniel’s hideout. “At least the weather wouldn’t get directly at it.”
Daniel thought about it for a few moments, eyeing the Nelwins suspiciously.
Todd spoke up. “We wouldn’t go looking for it. Promise!”
Craig shook his head. “No way. We don’t want to be anywhere near it again!”
“You’ll be the only one who knows where it is,” said Todd.
“We won’t ever come back to your hideout again, either,” Craig promised.
“That’s right!” Todd agreed.
“Okay,” Daniel decided reluctantly. “Are you finished in there?”
“Yes,” said Todd.
“Get your stuff, and you can go back to the farm, while I figure out how to do this,” Daniel directed them. “Find my dad, and he’ll tell you what needs doing next.”
The brothers scrambled back into the hideout and within moments had shoved out the tools and bags of garbage. Outside, they gathered everything into their arms and left. With barely a backward glance, they lit across the hills and soon disappeared from sight. They didn’t even wait to see what Daniel would do next.
Daniel’s mind was on his precarious task. Would he be able to hide the cone safely without being flung back in time?
aniel stood rooted to the spot
for a few more minutes. How was he going to move the cone? Obviously, using a stick wasn’t reliable. Then he remembered an old garden trowel he had in his hideout. At least, he hoped it was still there. Carefully, he stepped around the pine cone and crawled into the dark recesses of his cave.
Once he located the trowel, he scanned the walls. He found the perfect spot – a small crevice about halfway down the east wall that he could dig a little deeper. He worked away at it, forming a hole. Once this was accomplished, he crawled back outside.
Cautiously, he edged the trowel under the dangerous cone until it rested in the middle. Daniel wiped away the sweat that was forming on his brow – knowing it wasn’t from the heat of the sun’s sharp rays. Grasping the trowel handle with two hands, he softly trod over to the hideout doorway. Gently, he pushed the trowel inside and set it down beside the door, making sure the cone was stable. He crawled inside, and slowly picked it up again.
As he made his way to the freshly dug crevice, he held his breath. With great care, he tipped the trowel and let the pine cone slide into the opening, pushing it firmly into place. Then he found a stone and plugged the hole, making sure his fingers didn’t touch the cone. Next, he patted moist dirt from the floor over the hole, using the trowel to smooth the wall until no seams showed.
Relieved, Daniel plopped himself down on his tree stump, and let the trowel slide from his hand. He gave a huge sigh and wiped the sweat from his forehead. The pine cone was safely hidden for the time being. Once the dirt dried, no one would see anything unusual.
know where it was. Could he leave it there?
Or would he be tempted to make use of it?
Imagine discovering new information and being able to verify some of the things the scientists debated? One thing he could do right now was tell them about the colours of the various creatures. But he couldn’t prove it.
Suddenly, a thought struck Daniel. What if he were to go back in time on purpose? He could make sure he was prepared with the proper equipment. Why not make use of the cone? A tremor of fear ran up his spine. No, he couldn’t do it! What if a carnivore dinosaur actually succeeded in attacking him? No one would know where he was and no one would be able to help him! His parents would never know what had happened to him.
He shook his head and got up. It was time to get back to the farm and see how things were going. He hadn’t heard any whistling, but then he wasn’t outside where he could listen for it either. He gave one last look at the hiding spot and left. Dactyl joined him moments later.
Hustling home, Daniel found ideas popping through his mind like kernels in a hot-air popcorn maker. If he
go back to prehistoric time, a camera would be great and maybe he could bring back samples of plants. Then he jerked his thoughts back to the present. The journey would simply be too dangerous!
When he reached the yard, Dactyl wandered off and Daniel made his way to the tourist campsite. Craig and Todd ignored him when he arrived. Craig concentrated on applying a layer of stain over the exterior outhouse walls that he’d covered with spray-painted swear words a couple of nights before. Todd kept himself busy sanding the tops of the picnic tables. He’d etched his initials into them with his pocket knife. Daniel saw that one of them had also pounded out the dints in the forty-five-gallon water barrel that they had dumped Daniel into and then rolled down the hill.
“Hello, Daniel,” said Dad, appearing from behind the stack of firewood with Mr. Lindstrom just behind him. “How’s it going?”
“Great.” Daniel glanced over at the Nelwins. “Should I go help them?”
Both men shook their heads in unison.
Dad said, “They have to learn the full value of consequences.” Then he asked how the Nelwins did at the barn.
“Okay,” answered Daniel. “So, what would you like me to do?”
“Would you mind checking the horses?” Dad asked.
Mr. Lindstrom agreed. “See how they’re doing for water and such, seeing as how this is their first day here.”
“You bet,” said Daniel, happy to have a responsible job to do, although he doubted it was as important as Dad and Mr. Lindstrom made it out to be. They were probably trying to spare his feelings, because they figured he couldn’t do much strenuous physical work. Still, it kept him occupied.
He puttered about with his dad and Mr. Lindstrom, doing the less demanding chores, readying the campsite for all the guests, until Jed’s two youngest sisters called them for lunch. When they arrived back in the yard, Dad and Mr. Lindstrom hopped out of the jeep and went straight into the outdoor kitchen to wash up. But when Daniel poked his head in, his Mom asked him to wash Cheryl outside.
“The rest of you can wash out there too.” She threw him a couple of older towels.
Daniel headed to the trough and water pump with Cheryl chattering and squirming, as she tried to get down to pet Dactyl, who had just arrived. The rest of the group, including Jed’s sisters and the Nelwins, straggled behind.
He set Cheryl down at the low wooden trough, which normally was used for watering the livestock. She splashed her hands into the water, laughing as she got herself wet. Daniel primed the pump and caught fresh water in a basin. He returned it to its wooden stand and washed his hands. Then he propelled Cheryl over and washed hers. By the time their hands were dry, Craig and Todd had joined them. Wordlessly, the brothers washed up.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry,” Daniel said to break the silence.
“Suppose so,” Todd grunted, bending to plunge his hands under the stream of water that Craig pumped.
Craig caught the last of the water with his hands and gave a quick rinse. Lindsay and her sisters strode up then and Craig pumped the water for them with one hand.
“Thanks,” Lindsay said, seeming surprised at Craig’s helpfulness. Then she reached for Cheryl. “Can I take her now?”
“Sure.” Daniel handed her over. Cheryl did one of her koala bear hugs around Lindsay and they trotted off with Leanne and Lucy beside them, stopping to pick wildflowers to tuck in their hair.
Hurrying to the camp kitchen, Daniel found Craig and Todd loitering outside under the tree with the swing on it. From inside the building, they could hear the scraping of benches and clatter of utensils, along with the chattering of several voices.
“Come on,” he called, quickening his pace. “The others are already eating.”
Timidly, Craig and Todd followed Daniel inside.
“You can sit right over here, boys,” Mom indicated a bench behind the table where the three of them would fit.
She passed them glasses filled with ice cubes and juice, and the others began handing dishes of food to them. Daniel filled his plate with ham and cheese sandwiches, some dill pickles, and a mound of potato salad. Craig heaped on extra potato salad. Todd stacked his plate full of sandwiches, and then he looked guiltily around, because he’d almost decimated them all.
“Eat hearty,” said Dad. “I know there are plenty more!”
After they’d eaten, the Nelwins hung about under the trees, waiting for Dad and Doug Lindstrom to finish gathering some tools they needed. Mr. Pederson appeared unexpectedly in the yard, and walked straight over to Daniel.
“How’s it going, lad?” he asked cheerfully.
“Great! How about with you at the dig?”
“Couldn’t be better,” he said. His face crinkled with a smile.
“You’ve found something?” Daniel whispered.
“We’ll see,” he said, his eyes lit with excitement. Then he turned serious. “I need to talk to you about the quarry. I think we’re soon going to need quite a bit more overburden removed.”
“Maybe I could come out and dig tomorrow morning?”
“You need to mend, lad.” Pederson shook his head.
“But I’m feeling fine now!” he protested.
“And we need you for the tours,” Pederson said, calming Daniel down. “You’re the best we have! Besides, there’ll be plenty more digging later on.”
Resigning himself to the fact that he wouldn’t be able to do any heavy work for a few days, Daniel guessed what Pederson was going to recommend.
“This might be the time to try Craig and Todd,” Pederson suggested. They’d been asked the day before, and they were enthusiastic.
Daniel started to protest. Even though he’d agreed to the suggestion at first, he wasn’t so sure he wanted them on-site after all. He still didn’t trust them after their attacks on him over the last couple of days. Had they learned their lesson? Even if they had, could they change their behaviour that fast? Yet they had worked hard and quickly so far this morning. Maybe he should give them a chance.
Pederson gave Daniel’s shoulder a squeeze, sensing his doubts. “Let’s see how they do. If they don’t work out, well, there’s nothing lost.”
“Sure.” Daniel cracked a smile. “I guess we can use all the help we can get.” There was plenty of work to do if they were going to uncover more sections of the fossils that they’d already found before fall came.
“That’s the spirit, lad,” Pederson patted Daniel’s arm. “You can just sit back and watch the rest of us work and enjoy the results – looks like there may be plenty.”
Pederson walked over and acknowledged the Nelwins,
who were sitting morosely at the picnic table.
“Are you boys ready to do some volunteer work out at the excavation site later today?”
Instantly, their manner changed and their faces lit up with smiles.
“Yeah.” Todd’s eyes brightened.
Craig looked at Mr. Pederson happily. “Sure!”
Pederson explained. “It’s not the greatest job. It’s only digging, mind, but it needs to be done so that we can get to the good stuff, but it will give you a chance to see what’s going on.”
“We’ll be there!”
“I’ll expect you later this afternoon, then, as soon as you’ve completed your work for Mr. Bringham. Daniel will bring you out.”
“Okay!” Todd said with a smile.
“Yes, sir!” Craig said with real enthusiasm.
Pederson nodded to the Nelwins. Then he headed into the outdoor kitchen for a quick bite of lunch. The Nelwins spoke excitedly to one another in low voices. Daniel couldn’t make out what they were saying, but somehow he felt okay about Mr. Pederson giving the Nelwins an opportunity to work on the excavation and be part of the group excitement.
A sudden roaring of an engine and grinding of gears turned Daniel’s attention towards the road. He watched as a creaky ’78 Mazda pickup truck with a well-used topper over the box turned into their driveway. Daniel couldn’t tell at first if it was a man or a woman driving, but whoever it was, that person was alone. The truck lurched to a stop a few yards from him; its wheel wells rusted out and nothing much left of the fenders.
The driver’s side door opened. First a metal cane appeared, and then a couple of long, stocky legs in baggy sweatpants. Finally, a tall older woman wearing a Tilley hat squashed onto her head emerged.
“Dr. Roost!” Daniel called as he hurried to her truck. Within moments, she was surrounded by everyone in the yard.
“Hello all,” Mildred Roost pushed her hat higher onto her forehead. “Came to see your new digs.” She laughed at her own pun, as she swept her cane from right to left, taking in people scattered throughout the property, doing various activities. “Looks like you’re right busy.”
After the introductions were made, everyone tried to speak at once, but Mom broke through. “Can we offer you a drink or something to eat?”
“A cold drink might be a good idea,” she said. “Could use a speck of shade too,” she added.
As she headed towards the picnic table under the nearby tree, Daniel and Dad followed her with Cheryl in tow. The Lindstroms and Nelwins hung back, making small talk. A moment later, Ole Pederson emerged from the outdoor kitchen.
“Mildred,” Mr. Pederson said, going over to shake her hand. His eyes lit up with pleasure. “How splendid to see you!”
Mom arrived with a glass of iced tea for Mildred Roost,
setting a piece of lemon pie in front of her.
“Can we do anything else for you?” asked Dad.
“This looks just fine!” said Dr. Roost, digging her fork into the meringue.
“Are you here for a while? Do you need a place to stay?” Daniel asked, excited that she had come to see them.
“Thought I’d stop for bit,” she answered, taking a sip of iced tea and sighing in contentment. “All I need is a place to squat.”
“We have a spare room in the house,” Mom offered. “It’s a little small, but the bed is comfy.”
Daniel could see his dad was thinking about the guesthouse at the other end of the caragana hedge, but it wasn’t quite finished yet. There were a few more things they wanted to do inside and out to make it more comfortable.
“Sounds a little too fancy for me. I have my own roof.” She pointed to the back of her truck. “I just need somewhere to park it,” Dr. Roost declared.
“The campsite is just down there.” Daniel pointed down the valley.
“There are still a couple of places,” Dad said.
Mildred tilted her head as if sizing up the suggestions, then she looked around the farmyard.
“I could park in the yard – maybe over behind that stand of trees. Hope that’s all right with you?”
Her overbearing manner left little room for discussion, but Daniel’s parents didn’t seem to mind.
“That would leave your campsite for more guests. I’m sure you’re going to be full up soon.” She jerked her head towards the driveway as two more vehicles pulled into the yard.
“Sure thing,” said Dad, laughing.
They watched Lucy and Jed go over to greet the newcomers. Excusing herself, Mom picked up Cheryl and went back to the kitchen, followed by Greta Lindstrom, Lindsay, and Leanne. Moments later, Dad and Doug Lindstrom had the Nelwins in the back of the jeep and they headed back down to the campsite. Daniel hovered beside Mr. Pederson.
“So this is where you’ve created all the excitement.” Mildred Roost pushed her hat up even farther on her forehead and peered at Pederson.
“What really brings you here?” Pederson asked.
“You,” she said simply. “I came to see what you’ve been up to. Uncover anything good lately?”
Pederson hesitated, and then answered with a
dismissing shrug of his shoulders. “Nothing much for certain.”
“You always did hedge about when you were onto something good,” she said, chuckling. Her brown eyes shone excitedly from her wizened face. “Must be something spectacular.”
Pederson couldn’t stop a crack of a smile. “We’ll see.”