Authors: Gary Paulsen
Two anxious yellow eyes searched back and forth continuously. The Ancient One was hungry all the time now. The food supply was dwindling, and anything large or small that dared disturb the calm waters was considered a meal.
It remembered a time when there was no need to hunt, no need to gobble down the small schools of fish near the shore, and no need to venture any farther than the mouth of the caves. But even as it remembered, its empty stomach yearned to be satisfied.
Wait. There was something. A tiny ratlike creature dangled in the water just above it.
The Ancient One rose to the top.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
THE SECRET FUNERAL OF SLIM JIM THE SNAKE
AWFULLY SHORT FOR THE FOURTH GRADE
THE SUMMER I SHRANK MY GRANDMOTHER
HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS
HOW TO FIGHT A GIRL
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s degree in history from St. John’s University. She holds a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. She was a teacher and reading consultant for many years, and is the author of numerous books for young readers.
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
a division of
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
New York, New York 10036
Copyright © 1997 by Gary Paulsen
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.
The trademarks Yearling
are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.
Series design: Barbara Berger
Interior illustration by Michael David Biegel
Real adventure is many things—it’s danger and daring and sometimes even a struggle for life or death. From competing in the Iditarod dogsled race across Alaska to sailing the Pacific Ocean, I’ve experienced some of this adventure myself. I try to capture this spirit in my stories, and each time I sit down to write, that challenge is a bit of an adventure in itself.
You’re all a part of this adventure as well. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of talking with many of you in schools, and this book is the result of hearing firsthand what you want to read about most—power-packed adventure and excitement.
You asked for it—so hang on tight while we jump into another thrilling story in my World of Adventure.
Two glowing yellow eyes stared up toward the light that filtered down through the darkness. They were unblinking, waiting patiently for the slightest disturbance in the water. The Ancient One didn’t like coming this close to the surface but a fierce, gnawing hunger was driving it. There were hardly any large fish left on the bottom near the caves, and it had been almost five days since the Ancient One had eaten
The smooth water suddenly rocked with movement. Something large with four thrashing limbs, odd rubbery flippers, and a hard metal can on its back approached. The Ancient
One had only seen this type of fish a few times over the years. But it remembered how they tasted and how good it felt to be full and satisfied
The Ancient One moved carefully upward
“It’s nice here, don’t you think, Ryan?” The pretty blond woman’s tired blue eyes traveled from the road to the thin, dark-haired boy sitting in the passenger seat beside her.
Thirteen-year-old Ryan Swanner looked out the window. The Colorado mountains were okay, but they weren’t anything like the ones back home. Ryan had grown up in Louisiana, fishing on the swamps and bayous, and it had been hard to say goodbye to his friends there. But his mom was so excited about her new job
that he didn’t have the heart to spoil things for her. So he’d kept his feelings to himself.
She was now the new manager of a restaurant called The Cove, which catered to tourists at the Black Water Lake Resort. It was a big break for her. Back home she had waitressed at truck stops and coffee shops. This job meant a lot more money.
Ryan collected his thoughts and turned back toward his mom. “Uh, yeah. Real nice. Lots of … trees and stuff. It’ll be great.”
The old car rumbled down the narrow gravel road and turned off onto a deeply rutted dirt lane. They stopped in front of a log cabin that was almost completely covered with vines.
“This is it, Ryan. What do you think?”
Ryan opened the car door and stepped out. In ways the scenery reminded him of the thick green foliage that had surrounded their house back home. But there was something different about the quiet and the crispness of the air here. He stepped up onto the wooden porch and was about to reach for the doorknob when a large woman wearing baggy
jeans and a red flannel shirt stepped out of the cabin, shaking a dusty rug in his face.
“Oh my!” She drew back and tried to wave away the choking dust cloud. “I didn’t realize you were here. You must be the Swanners. You’re early. I’m Mrs. Brown from over the hill, your landlady.”
Ryan’s mother climbed the steps and extended her hand. “Nice to meet you in person, Mrs. Brown. I’m Cynthia Swanner and this is my son, Ryan.”
The woman surveyed him. “Rita has been looking forward to meeting you. Annie was hoping for a girl. But she’s only four so I’m sure she’ll make do.” Mrs. Brown smiled. “I’ll get out of your way now and let the two of you unpack and get settled. If you need anything, my house is the yellow one just over the hill behind you.” She gave a friendly wave and marched off into the woods.
They watched her leave and then Ryan’s mom pushed the cabin door open. “Mrs. Brown told me we’re not far from the lodge, and Black Water Lake is within walking distance.”
Water. That was one thing Ryan knew something about. Maybe it wouldn’t be so awful here after all.
The inside of the cabin was small but cozy. Cynthia Swanner stopped to smell the wildflowers that stood in a vase on the kitchen table. “It already feels like home.”
Ryan hadn’t seen his mom this happy in years—not since before the car accident that had taken his dad’s life. “I think it’s gonna be just fine, Mom. Just fine.”
Ryan moved the branch of a pine tree and there it was—the lake. The water lay flat and shiny like a big black slab of onyx. This was the Black Water Lake the resort was named for. It was a large, kidney-shaped body of water as dark as its name. This end of the lake was some distance from the lodge, which was hidden from sight by hills and trees.