An unexpected blizzard.
“Good god, will you look out there!” The surprise could be clearly heard in Mr. Moranis's voice.
It was almost a blizzard, with a lot of snow already down, and it was still coming down. The wind was picking up too. No one should be out in this. Visibility was already minimal
“They never forecast this, and my daughter's caught out in it.” He was clearly anxious for her safety.
Steve had paused upon hearing that about his daughter. They had but the one girl; Babs. How could she be caught out in this? Had she come home, and he hadn't known? His heart was doing handsprings in his chest, but he also had a deep feeling in the pit of his stomach, worrying about what could have changed in the intervening ten years since they'd last met.
“Hell fire. Of all the times….” Her father needed to think about what to do; what he could do. What he must do.
Steve was still wondering, his heart beating faster now. It sounded like Babs was here, somewhere close, but Mr. Moranis wouldn't know of Steve's interest in his daughter, nor his also suddenly-felt concern and curiosity about her. It had been ten years, but his feelings for her had never changed. Memory of her and the love they'd shared so briefly, had kept him alive for those ten years. And now she was back?
Mr. Moranis was still looking out of the window, debating with himself what he should do. “Looks like a foot of snow down already and more coming with the wind picking up. Could be two or three feet by morning.”
Typical mountain weather.
He turned to his visitor. “You won’t be able to go anywhere until this blows over, Steve. Not tonight anyway, maybe not even tomorrow either. No one will. She’ll be stuck out in this for sure and dressed too damned lightly when she rushed out and took a horse. Where she went, I don't know.”
He was agitated, needing to do something to make sure that his only daughter, whom he loved more than life itself, was safe.
Steve wondered what he could do to help, except her father was the obvious one to do something. Her father had known nothing about them, or what they'd got up to with each other. At least, no one had said anything to suggest otherwise.
He looked at his watch, talking to himself, but knowing that Steve was close by and listening. “She left the house a couple of hours ago, so she could be anywhere.” She’d also been as angry as he’d ever seen her, and upset, but Steve had known none of that.
He stood looking out of the widow and fumed, his concern, growing.
“No barn lights on, so she’s not back yet. Damn.” It had him worried.
He really loved his daughter, despite… despite her bull-headedness.
He made up his mind. “She’s all I’ve got now. I’ll have to go out and find her. She shouldn't be out on a horse in this, though she would have had to stick to an obvious trail, on a horse.” There were a lot of first-time admissions that he was making… all of them painful, and with other realizations falling into place.
Steve knew that once he’d made up his mind about doing something, he was hard to shake.
Mr. Moranis knew he had to go out there and find her and try and patch things up between them before he lost her again.
For the hundredth time he regretted all of the things he should never have said or done, in his heavy-handedness with his children over the years.
He’d discovered too late, that a father had to react differently to a daughter than to a son. He would always be learning that lesson, but he’d not dealt wisely with his sons either.
“When she was at odds with me before, she used to head for the ten-mile cabin and stay up there for a day or so, as her mother and I worried sick for her.” She'd always come back, of course, but with this weather in the mix...?
He looked around the room and then back out of the window.
“I gave most of the staff the weekend off, with us being alone. The others are in town, shopping and doing other stuff, so I can’t call on them to help…. They won’t get back here tonight, and maybe not even tomorrow.”
He looked at Steve.
“Would you mind staying here, son, so that I know if she comes back?”
Steve was anxious to help in whichever way he could. Babs, the girl he loved, was out in that?
“Of course I don't mind. I can’t go anywhere in this, either.” He' d be off the road if he tried, but he had no intention of even trying to leave, now that he knew Babs was somewhere out there, and close.
Mr. Moranis went over to the desk and wrote down some numbers. “I’ll leave you my number to call if she shows up. If I find her up there, or out there somewhere, I’ll call you.
“You shouldn’t try to go anywhere until tomorrow, or you’ll be off the road until they get it ploughed and some sand down, and this place is always at the end of that list.”
Steve already knew the difficulties of that steep 500-foot climb, out of town. The road was good. It had to be, to take some of those massive logging trucks and equipment, but it could also be treacherous when there was ice or snow on it, as now.
The older man went into the farther reaches of the house, coming back with a carry all that he'd hurriedly packed.
“Change of clothes for her, food, rope, bit and pieces. I’ll have to take the big four wheeler. It’s the only thing I can rely on to get me up there. I’d better take some grain for her horse, too.” He knew what he needed to do.
“I’ll give you a call if she’s up there or not. There’s sometimes a fair connection, sometimes not. You can tell me if she’s back.”
Steve nodded. He was feeling excited and antsy himself. He couldn't offer to go instead of Mr. Moranis, or his interest might be too obvious, so he'd just had to sit where he was and bottle up his own concerns about them both being out in it, but especially her.
“If she is up there, I’ll stick up there until this is over. If not…. I’m not sure what I’ll be able to do in this. I’ll probably be stuck up there if I can't figure out something else, but I have to do something.”
It didn’t matter that his daughter knew enough about surviving out in the woods. It wasn’t the same in this weather, and you needed much more than she’d taken with her for that.
He looked at Steve. “Am I asking too much of you? To stay here and wait?”
“No, sir. As you say, I can’t go anywhere until the road is cleared. There is nowhere else I need to be. I have a lot of work I can do here. I’ve stayed the night, before.”
“Yes, so you have.”
“I’ll have to phone Dad, and let him know about this, and that I’ll be staying here, but I think he already knows that by now.” His father would have seen what was happening on the higher ground, though it may be coming down as a mix of wet snow and rain, lower down the mountain.
Steve watched Bab’s father drive away on the big ATV, heading up a wood’s road which led directly to that distant cabin. There'd be no tracks for him to follow after this long, but he had plenty of gas, and food, and clothing, and a good winch that could pull him out of trouble, and that could even move, downed trees.