One man stood nearest the front of the group. Dressed in flowing, silvery gray robes, like the bark of a beech tree, he had a long white beard and wore a tiny woven circlet on his head.
Because it seemed the right thing to do – and because she wanted a better look at the tiny people –
The little man nodded, looking pleased. “My child,” he said in a voice that was tiny but surprisingly deep, “You greatly honor the people of Whitaker Woods by coming to hear our request. I commend your noble spirit, for I know it is no light matter for a giant such as yourself to respond to something so unusual as a talking squirrel! You were chosen in part because the younger of your species seem to be more willing to accept such notions.
“Allow me to explain why we have sent for you this day: For many, many years my people have occupied this vast tract of land known to you giants as Whitaker Woods; in fact, we have been here far longer than the woods have borne that name! In recent years, however, the giant people have become far too active, erecting dwelling places ever nearer our borders, crisscrossing our territories with trails, allowing the ridiculous beasts known as ‘dogs’ to rampage through our forest and harass our animal friends…you see the picture, I hope.
“The bottom line is this: we must leave this world as soon as possible. We have a door designed for just such a purpose, but we need someone to shut it behind us, for it cannot be closed from the inside. We have watched and waited for a long time for a giant sensible and kind enough to assist us, and my scouts tell me that you are the ideal candidate. So I ask you, are you willing to help us exit Earth?”
“You are distressed,” Wellinghurst observed. “Giants’ faces are so easy to read…so large…well, my child, what is troubling you?”
Wellinghurst’s solemn face softened slightly. “Well, I can’t deny that we are a fascinating people…very well. I shall grant you three hours among us, but at the end of that time, you must promise to do what we have asked you!”
The sparrow dove back down to the boulder and landed lightly in front of Wellinghurst.
Wellinghurst, now more than a head taller than
“Thank you, sir,”
Squirilious bounced forward, his tail twitching in excitement. He now towered over her. “Ready, ready, ready?” he demanded. “Climb on and let’s go!”
Sure enough, as soon as
For a time all they did was make their way through the trees, bounding from branch to branch seemingly miles above the forest floor. Squirilious scampered up and down tree trunks, chattering and laughing as he went, obviously enjoying himself immensely.
But then who would shut the door behind her? Like clouds creeping in front of the sun, darker thoughts intruded on her happy vision. What would her parents do if she disappeared? What if she missed home once she was in the new world, but couldn’t ever get back?
Her tumultuous thoughts were interrupted as Squirilious suddenly skidded to a halt on a branch high in a White Pine. She looked around, wondering why they were stopping, and let out a cry of delight – they were visiting someone’s home!
Nestled against the trunk of the tree was a carefully built log house, small to her even as a tiny person. It seemed to be held in place by a combination of dried-grass ropes and pine pitch. The little front door had a window cut into it with a curtain gently swaying in the breeze.
“My good friend Bancroft and his family lived here,” Squirilious commented. “They’ve packed up now, though, and are probably riding my cousins Rambunctious and Trillium to Jewlie’s Rock.”
“Are the animals leaving too?”
“Some of us are. But don’t worry – there’ll be plenty of animals left in the woods. Not many of us have learned to speak and carry passengers.”
Before they moved on,
To be continued...