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Authors: Frank Peretti

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BOOK: The Legend of Annie Murphy
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Mac laughed—he could do that now—and gave a big nod. “You
know
I did!”

Dr. Cooper laughed too. “So did I. But I was still hoping I was right about Annie's last carving.”

“So were we,” said Jay. “We were hoping she didn't finish it because she got interrupted.”

“By all of us,” said Lila.

“She was never able to finish the right arm because the time vortex unraveled the moment she touched you,” Dr. Cooper mused.

“I wonder if she knew that would happen?” said Jay.

Mac shrugged. “I think she was just trying to save you. Since the judge was aiming a gun at you, she could see you were on her side. But when she touched you, it threw you into the vortex. You popped back into the present, and that bumped the sheriff back into the past, instantly. With the time/space fabric untangled, she returned safely to her own time and space.” He shook his head with his next thought. “But imagine returning to find the bodies of her two enemies fallen across her grave, each shot by the other.”

“Quite a homecoming gift,” Dr. Cooper chuckled, “and the source of that spooky legend.” He asked the kids, “So how did you figure out she would be at the grave of her husband?”

Jay shrugged. “We discovered that she was carving her story, and we figured she was doing it in the order that it happened. Since the carving of her weeping over Cyrus's grave wasn't there when we first arrived in the past, we guessed it had to be the last one she did. So how did you figure it out?”

“Well, Alice, Mac's secretary, played a major role in that.”

Mac explained, “She followed the lead we had from the old newspaper articles about some deputy named Hatch who became the sheriff right after you kids were there.”

Jay and Lila brightened at that news. “You mean he wasn't killed?” Lila asked excitedly.

Mac was happy to reply, “No, he recovered from his wound just fine and went on to be Bodine's sheriff for many years. And he kept a journal, which Alice found! He wrote about the whole Annie Murphy case, and even wrote about you kids.”

“Did he say what finally happened to Annie?” Jay asked.

“She moved back to Chicago, married a fine gentleman, had five children, and . . . oh yes, she eventually took Judge Crackerby's widow to court and got back ownership of the mine. The old newspaper reports of Annie's death were what the judge and sheriff wanted everyone to believe. We never read far enough into the future to discover she was alive.”

Jay was still curious. “So . . . how did you figure out Annie would be on Cyrus's grave when she was?”

“Well, by retracing her story just the way you did,” said Dr. Cooper. “But we did have one other major clue.” He rose from the campfire, clicked on his flashlight, and beckoned to them. “Come have a look.”

They followed him past the tent to where a mound of camping gear had been stacked up against an old tombstone.

“Hatch recorded in his journal how the bodies of both the judge and the sheriff were found lying on Annie Murphy's grave the morning of June ninth, 1885. But since it was such a strange legend, we had to be sure.”

“Annie's carving of the sheriff shooting at Cyrus was one confirming piece of evidence,” said Mac.

“But we also found this.” Dr. Cooper began to remove the bedrolls and food supplies from the pile, gradually uncovering a gravestone. “Still here, just as Hatch described it in his journal.”

As Dr. Cooper removed the last folded blanket from the stone and shined his light on the inscription, the kids could read it clearly: Dustin Potter, Sheriff of Bodine, April 3, 1843 – June 9, 1885.

The kids were awestruck.

Dr. Cooper explained it. “So both Deputy Hatch and this tombstone agree that Sheriff Dustin Potter died on June ninth. He had to be back in the past for that to happen, which meant the vortex had to be untangled by then. As I considered the fact that Annie didn't finish her carving of herself weeping, I had to hope it was because we all interrupted her.”

“And so it was,” said Mac.

Dr. Cooper led the way, and they all returned to stand on the grave of Cyrus Murphy. The moon was rising. The weeping woman was appearing once again.

“She can stop crying now,” said Lila. “Her story's been told for all time.”

“And God's justice finally came through,” said Dr. Cooper. “Sometimes it takes a while.”

“Sometimes it has to reach across time and space,” Mac added.

Jay sighed with amazement. “And sometimes it takes little people like us to help out.”

Dr. Cooper chuckled and put his arms around his children, pulling them close. “But that's what makes life interesting.” Then he began a prayer of thanksgiving. “Dear Lord, we thank you that you have helped us through this adventure and brought us all together once again . . .”

They all huddled there under the light of the rising moon, thanking God for where they were in space, time, and His purpose. And perhaps it was just the angle of the moonlight, but as Lila looked up at the face of the weeping woman, it seemed Annie was no longer mourning, but praying right along with them.

An Excerpt from
The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey,
Book Six in The Cooper Kids Adventure Series
®

Dr. Cooper spotted a narrow, new trail leading into the jungle. “Is that the trail to the Corys' camp?”

“It is. I can have Tomás take you there now if you like.” With that, Dr. Basehart introduced Dr. Cooper, Jay, and Lila, to his assistant. Tomás Lopez shook their hands, grinning a toothy grin, happy to be of service. “He'll take you to see the Corys' camp and answer any questions you have.”

Tomás's smile vanished, and he looked wide-eyed at his boss. “Señor Basehart . . . is that such a good idea?”

Basehart became quite impatient. “Tomás, I will not have this discussion again with you! There is nothing to be afraid of!”

Tomás was clearly upset, but he led the Coopers down the trail into the jungle.

The Coopers were cautious but not afraid. With firm resolve, they stepped into the clearing, moving carefully, observing every detail. Tomás followed behind, sticking close, eyes wary, his rifle and machete ready.

The camp was a disaster area with camp chairs knocked over, the tent half collapsed, the camp stove overturned on the ground, food and supplies torn, scattered, and spilled everywhere.

Jay found a small, thin reed stuck in a tree trunk near the tent. “Dad.”

Jacob Cooper went over and examined it without touching it. “Poison dart.”

Tomás nodded warily. “The Kachakas. They use poison darts and blowguns. The poison kills in seconds.”

Lila noticed the overturned vase and scattered orchids. “I bet these orchids were beautiful before they wilted.”

Tomás smiled crookedly. “Americans. They would pay lots of money for such flowers in their own country. Here, we see them everywhere.”

“All the tools are still in place,” Dr. Cooper observed, checking the collection of shovels, picks, brush hooks, and metal detectors near a tree. He found a large wooden chest, eased the lid open, and whistled his amazement at the contents.

Jay came to look. “What is it?”

“Explosives,” said his father. “That always was Ben Cory's style: Just blast away and get the treasure out, never mind the historical value of the site.” He closed the lid gently, with great respect for what the chest held. “Let's have a look in that tent.”

The tent had half-fallen. Dr. Cooper found a long stick near the firepit and stuck it into the tent to prop up the roof.

“We'll have to gather up all these notes,” he said, indicating the papers scattered on the floor. “We need to know everything the Corys knew.”

“Careful!” Jay cautioned, pointing to another poison dart that poked through the tent.

Lila picked up one of the sheets of note paper. It was heavy, sticky, and stained red. “Euuughh.”

“I told you there would be blood,” said Tomás from outside where he nervously stood guard. “The Corys were slaughtered in this tent.”

There was blood, all right, spattered on the floor of the tent, on the clothes, work boots, and gear. The Corys
had
died violently.

Jacob Cooper kept his tone calm and even. “Lila, I think we need one more set of eyes and ears outside. We don't need any surprises.”

Lila welcomed the idea. Her face pale, she quickly ducked outside.

Dr. Cooper drew a deep breath and spoke to Jay. “Let's do it.”

He and Jay began gathering up the notes, drawings, charts, and maps from the tent floor, separating them from the shirts, socks, bottles, and boxes lying everywhere.

Jay spotted a small notebook partially hidden under some wadded up rags. He reached for it then jerked his hand away, his heart racing. “Dad!”

Dr. Cooper's hand went to his gun. “What is it?”

Lila poked her head in. “What is it?”

Jay backed away from the pile. “There's something under those rags.”

The rags were wiggling and heaving.

Lila stifled a cry of fear, pressing her hand over her mouth as Tomás stuck his head into the tent. “Qué pasa?”

“I think we've got a snake in here,” said Dr. Cooper. “Stand back.” He found a piece of broken tent rod and extended it toward the rags, prodding them slightly. The motion stopped. He slowly lifted the rags.

They saw a fluttering, a flash of dull yellow and heard a tiny, shrill scream!

Lila screamed as well, and Jay and Dr. Cooper ducked. A strange, fluttering, flapping shape shot from the rags and began banging and slapping against the walls of the tent like a trapped bird.

Tomás hollered, “Get back! Get back!” and plunged into the tent, swinging his machete. The thing continued to fly, land, leap, bump against the tent, and flutter over their heads. Lila jumped away from the tent; Jay and his father dropped to the floor. Tomás kept swinging.

BOOK: The Legend of Annie Murphy
7.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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