During the Colton family’s journey along the Great National Road, their driver stops to assist an overturned stagecoach. As the men work, Suzannah, her cousin Daniel, and their friend Timmy walk along the Road to stretch their legs.
“Let’s have a snowball fight!” cried Timmy.
They ventured into the woods only a few steps to get the soft snow which was just right for packing. Soon snowballs were flying.
“Got you, Daniel!” Suzannah shouted as one plastered his face, freezing his grin.
“And here’s one for you!” He snapped a quick return and sent the snowball sailing through the air. She ducked, and it splatted harmlessly on the shoulder of her cloak.
They were having a fine time, wandering deeper and deeper into the forest, when Timmy said, “Look!”
Suzannah turned. Just behind her stood two bear cubs. Plump and round, they had bright button eyes and soft-as-down fur. She put out her hand and took a step toward them.
Curious, one of the cubs shuffled over to nose her traveling bag.
As if from nowhere, a huge black bear appeared out of the dark recesses of the forest. Rising up on its hind feet, the bear growled. Even in the shadows, Suzannah could see a row of sharp teeth and the long toenails extending from the front feet.
Daniel, who’d been gathering snow further away, caught
sight of them. “The mother bear! Run!” he shouted.
But Suzannah stood rooted to the spot, her legs weak and heavy. Beside her, Timmy seemed just as stunned.
“Run!” Daniel urged again. “They smell the strawberry jam sandwiches! Leave your bag and run!”
The thought of parting with the gold coins jolted Suzannah into action. “Run, Timmy, run!” Traveling bag in hand, she ran with him for the Road.
Once she turned, almost tripping over a tree root, and saw the cubs still behind them and the huge mother bear in pursuit. Suddenly Suzannah knew just what to do. Still running wildly, she grabbed in her bag for the strawberry jam sandwiches, then pulled one out and hurled it at a cub.
[Excerpt adapted from Suzannah and the Secret Coins by Elaine Schulte (Chapter 6, pp. 64–65). This title is the first in the Colton Cousins Adventure series.]