I need to find help, thought Lucy. She walked around the young girl lying on the ground. The child was not moving and appeared to have fallen from the 10-foot cliff above. Lucy started to walk away to get help, but then returned. I can’t leave her by herself. An animal might get her. Maybe somebody is nearby, thought Lucy.

Lucy cried out again and again, but there was no response. She hoped her family should be along soon. Lucy liked to explore the mountains and creek. Lucy was young and adventurous. Thankfully, she knew how to handle herself in the woods. Suddenly, Lucy heard leaves begin the rustle on the ground nearby. She turned to investigate and saw a dark snake slithering in their direction.

Moving quickly, Lucy put herself between the snake and the child. Stomping her feet, and yelling at the snake, caused it to stop. The two stared at one another for several seconds. Lucy stomped her foot again and hollered. The slithering reptile had had enough. The serpent changed directions and went on its way. Concerned there were other snakes, Lucy carefully checked a five-foot perimeter around the injured child.

Once more, Lucy began to call out for her family, or anyone who might be nearby. The only thing she heard return was the echo of her voice. Surely this little girl’s family must be close, she thought, she’s too small to have ventured this far by herself. The sounds of footsteps and small branches breaking gave Lucy hope. She turned around to see who was coming and began to call out.

To her surprise, a small bear cub appeared. Alarmed, Lucy began to yell, jump up and down, and stomp her feet. At first, the cub stood there curious. Lucy kicked up dirt with her feet and continued her rant. Finally, the bear cub turned and ventured back into the forest. Lucy was petrified. She knew if the mother bear showed up neither she nor the child would have a chance. A groan from behind her made Lucy turn to see who else was sneaking up.

The little girl groaned again, and Lucy ran over to check on her. She kissed the little girl on the cheek in an attempt to wake her up. However, the injured child fell back into her slumber. Lucy turned towards the water and considered the clear running creek that flowed a mere 10 feet away. She walked over and gathered some water. Lucy returned and gently put some of the refreshing liquid on the girl’s cheek. The small child’s face twitched, but she would not wake up.

From within the woods, the sounds of a large animal well out of sight began faintly but were slowly increasing. Lucy looked around panicked, unsure of what to do. There was nothing on the ground that she could use to battle the animal. It must be the mama bear, thought Lucy. A moment later the sound stopped. Lucy thought she could smell an animal, but it was unlike anything she had smelled before.

The putrid odor of dead flesh and rotten vegetation seemed to fill the air. Lucy barely breathed as she slowly turned her head, and then her body, all the way around trying to find the animal. The footsteps and breaking of sticks began again up the creek from her. However, the footfalls faded away, and Lucy finally took a breath when the sounds were almost entirely gone.

To her left, there were more footsteps. Oh no, thought Lucy, not another animal. However, she soon heard familiar voices among the footfalls. Lucy began to cry out, and her brother called back her name. Lucy hollered for all she was worth, again and again. She forgot her surroundings and focused on getting her family to the injured girl.

Suddenly, Lucy heard a large branch break and spun to her right. There, on its hind legs, was the full-grown mother bear. She appeared angry. Lucy froze with fear. Not only would the bear come after her, but she would undoubtedly hurt the injured girl and possibly kill her. To her left, she heard the voices of her family.

Her father yelled out with authority, “Everybody back.” He walked over and stood beside Lucy. Pulling a can from his waist, he waited on the bear. The rest of the family had maneuvered themselves behind Lucy, their father, and the injured girl. The bear started to make its charge, and Lucy’s father let loose a giant red cloud in front of them. Even though it shot away from her position, it burned Lucy’s nose.

The bear stopped, but not before inhaling much of the red cloud. It pawed at its nose, and then turned and ran into the woods until it was out of sight. Lucy’s father pulled out his cell phone and called for help. The mother ran over to check on the injured girl. Her older brother ran over to Lucy, and he kissed her on top of her head and petted her furiously. He grabbed her face, and looked her in the eyes, and said, “That’s our brave girl.”

Her father bent down and petted her as well. Then everyone circled the little girl. Lucy’s father and mother carefully rolled her over. The father pulled out a canteen and slowly dripped water across her lips. The little girl began to wake up.

A few moments later a Ranger and a young couple appeared out of the woods. The couple ran crying over to the little girl. “These are her parents,” said the Ranger. “We’ve been looking for her for the past two hours. The parents said she wandered away this morning while they were getting dressed and making breakfast. Who found her?”

“She did,” said Lucy’s brother pointing at her.

The Ranger bent down and scratched Lucy’s ear. “Good, dog.”

Lucy watched as the Ranger went over to check on the little girl. “She should be fine, but she may have a broken leg.” The father gently lifted the child into his arms, and everyone followed the Ranger back down the trail towards the campground with Lucy leading the way.

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