Missed the beginning? Start here.
The next morning Juniper and Sabrina awoke to find Henrietta and a fox standing outside the cave. “Wake up, sleepy heads,” said Henrietta. “Georgette and I have arrived with breakfast.”
“Food!” exclaimed Sabrina. “We’re so hungry.”
Sabrina and Juniper sat down with Henrietta and Georgette, a gorgeous red fox, and began eating rolls laden with honey. As they ate, Henrietta brought them up to date with the situation.
“Georgette is the leader of all non-human beings on this side of the river. She has agreed to help you find your way back to your home, Juniper, and she also agrees that for now, Sabrina, that is your best option as well.”
“Thank you so much,” said Sabrina in between bites.
As Sabrina and Juniper ate, Georgette began her tale. “Long ago, there were no humans in this world, but one day, a large group suddenly appeared. We don’t really have any idea where they came from. Maybe they came through the way you did,” Georgette said, looking at Sabrina.
“In any case,” Georgette went on, “we welcomed them to our world and tried to help them adjust. The leader of the dragons greeted them, but she was met with great hostility. The new settlers, for we found out that was their intent, to take over the land, began shooting arrows at her. No amount of talking would convince them that the dragons meant them no harm. So the dragons left. Things became even worse when we discovered that their belief system would not allow for intelligent non-human species. They began preaching that we were abominations which had to be slaughtered so that they could take over this world.”
“That’s horrible,” said Sabrina, with her hands over her face.
“Indeed,” agreed Georgette. “As the years went by, the land was settled as you now find it. Most of the non-human species have moved across the river and live with the dragons, your people, Juniper.”
“But we have humans as well,” said Juniper, “and they are nice and we all get along just fine.”
“Very true, little one,” said Georgette. “As the humans settled in, some of them started to doubt what their leaders were saying. Some of them wanted our help and believed that we could all live in harmony. They learned that humans are no better or worse than any other species. We are all equal. And so, the secret passage was developed.”
“Secret passage?” asked Juniper.
“Yes, as Henrietta said, I am the leader of those who remain on this side of the river. We stay here so that we can help any who are caught on this side of the river but who wish to live differently. We try to make friends with those humans who seem interested, especially the young. After all, no one is born hating. Hatred has to be instilled in them. We try in small ways, to undermine the teachings of the leaders.
“And when we find those whom we are sure want to live a peaceful life, we send them along the secret passageway over to the other side of the river. There, others work with them to be sure they aren’t spies or enemies trying to infiltrate, and once we are sure, they are helped to start new lives with most of our world.”
“Wow,” said Sabrina. “That is amazing. And you say, most of your world. Does that mean that this part of the land is much smaller?”
“Yes,” said Henrietta. “I fly over much of this world, and the reality is that the river has cut off this section of land separating it from the rest of the world. This part is bordered by the mountain cliffs, the river, and off to the west, by the ocean.”
“And the humans have just enough land to survive on, but occasionally they try to expand, to get back up the mountain and along the cliff you too came down, so Henrietta and others on this side, as well as the dragons on the other, patrol the area to be sure none can cross,” said Georgette.
“The otters and other water creatures keep a sharp eye on the river as well,” said Henrietta. “We would welcome any who want to work in harmony, but we won’t be threatened or bullied by those who think we are evil!”
“So does that mean you can get me home?” asked Juniper. “I’m sure my parents are very worried by now.”
“Messengers have already been dispatched to bring word to your parents,” said Henrietta. “They should know by now that you are safe and that you will be coming home as soon as we can manage it.”
“How long will that take?” asked Juniper.
“It will be several weeks at least,” said Georgette.
Juniper started to cry. “Weeks! I miss my mom. Oh, why can’t I be like the other dragons? Why can’t I fly?” she wailed.
Sabrina put her arms around the little dragon and said, “I like you just the way you are. I think you are perfect, and if others can’t see that, well that’s their problem.”
“Well said, Sabrina. Now if you two have had enough to eat, we need to be on our way. Thanks so much, Henrietta, for bringing them off the mountain. I’ll keep you posted on our progress,” said Georgette.
“Yes, thank you so very much,” said Sabrina and then without even thinking, she stood up and gave the owl a hug.
“Well, yes…” blustered Henrietta. “Anyone would have done the same.”
“Not anyone,” said Sabrina, “and you know that. We could have been found by those people in the village.”
“You saved us,” said Juniper, “and maybe one day I’ll be able to fly like you.”
Henrietta chuckled and said, “I’m sure you will. Now be on your way and remember, do everything that Georgette tells you to do. She knows how to keep you safe.”
“We will,” both Juniper and Sabrina promised, and with that, they headed down the trail to the meadow.
“Now if that isn’t a sight,” said Henrietta as she swooped over them, “a fox, a dragon, and a girl.”
Georgette laughed and said, “Thanks again, Henrietta,” as both Juniper and Sabrina waved.