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"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Tanya commented, her voice softly pitched. Even John and Danny stood in silence, the scene impressing them, too.

Jake's hand stole around her waist, drawing her into the shelter of his chest and arm. "Geologists claim that these Ozark Hills are the oldest mountains or highlands on this Continent. It's amazing how after all these years they still manage to look untouched by civilization."

"Dad." John looked up, his face drawn into a quizzical frown. "How old is the Trail That Is Nobody Knows How Old?"

"You've answered your own question," Jake smiled. "Nobody knows how old it is."

"Why don't they?" he persisted.

"Well, when the first settlers came here in the late 1800s, the trail was here curving along below the Matthews place to Dewey Bald and on to the outside world miles away. Those settlers said the fur traders and trappers used it before them. The trappers said the French and Spanish explorers travelled over it, guided by the Indians who had used it before the explorers. And the Indians said the trail was there before them when the Old Ones walked the hills. So you see, it was named correctly—The Trail That Is Nobody Knows How Old."

John nodded, and stood there gazing intently at the scene.

"He's an intelligent boy," said Jake, lowering his voice so that his comment was for Tanya's ears alone.

"A bit too serious sometimes," she added absently, enjoying the gentle rise and fall of his chest beneath her head as she stared dreamily at the panoramic view.
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