Missed the beginning? Start here.
Georgette led Sabrina and Juniper the rest of the way down the mountain and into a forested area where they stopped for lunch.
“Now I want to hear your stories. How did you ever land in this mess?” said Georgette, as she handed out the lunches.
Both Sabrina and Juniper shared their experiences with her, and then Georgette said, “The world can be a very cruel place at times. Both of you have been bullied by your peers which is inexcusable. Unfortunately, being different is never easy, and it is all too common that those who are different get picked on. But Sabrina, the adults in your life should definitely know much better! That French teacher has no business being a teacher at all! And I get that your father is hurting, but he should know better than to take it out on you!”
Sabrina answered her. “I think that he wants to toughen me up so that I don’t suffer as he has, but I’m just not tough.”
Georgette said, “I am sick of folks talking about being tough. All that becomes is meanness. Don’t they realize that kindness and gentleness are the true strengths? Anyway, if you’ve finished eating, we’d better get moving.”
They hiked through the forest and after a few hours came out onto the edge of a meadow. Georgette stopped them and listened very carefully. “Someone is coming,” she said. “Get back into the forest behind that big tree while I figure out who it is.”
After about ten minutes they heard Georgette calling out a greeting. “Hey, Betsy, what are you doing huffing and puffing way out here?”
Sabrina and Juniper peeked around the tree they were hiding behind only to see a large brown bear lumbering over to Georgette. After Georgette had greeted her friend, she called to Sabrina and Juniper, “It’s OK. Come on out and meet Betsy.”
Once Sabrina and Juniper had been introduced, Betsy turned to Georgette and said, “I’d heard something about you being on a rescue mission, but I had no idea that you had two young ones.”
“Yes, they managed to get themselves trapped on the wrong side of the river and I’m taking them to the secret passage so that they can get home,” answered Georgette. “But you didn’t come all the way out here just to hear that. What brings you so far from home?”
“I was looking for you,” answered Betsy. “We have a big problem. Remember Anna and Roger and their two small children?”
“Yes, we are getting ready to send them along the secret passage once their youngest is a bit older.”
“Well, we can’t wait. They’ve been arrested. And the leaders of the village say that Anna and Roger will be publicly tortured in the morning. Once the leaders have gotten all the information they can out of them, the entire family is to be executed.”
“What,” exclaimed Georgette as both Juniper and Sabrina gasped in horror.
“Yes,” said Betsy. “The leaders are tired of losing villagers. The population has dropped so low with all those who have chosen to leave that it is barely sustainable. The leaders are determined to find the escape route and use it themselves. They want to attack the dragons on the other side of the river.”
“No!” wailed Juniper. “They can’t do that. We’ve left them alone. We’ve never hurt them.”
“Hush, little one,” said Betsy kindly as she patted Juniper. “I know that and nothing is going to happen to the dragons. In fact, if the leaders had half a brain between them, they would realize that the dragons could do a lot more to them than they could do to the dragons. But we don’t plan on letting things get that far, do we, Georgette.”
“Indeed we don’t. I take it that rescue plans are being prepared.”
“As we speak,” answered Betsy. “But we need you.”
“How ever did the leaders suspect them in the first place. I know Anna and Roger would never let on,” said Georgette.
“From what we can gather, little Benjamin let something slip. Remember when he wandered away from home a few months ago and fell into the pit, breaking his leg. And he was rescued when Jerome told his father where he was. Well, apparently little five-year-old boys don’t keep secrets very well and he told a friend how a cute raccoon had found him and calmed him, and so forth. At least that’s what we are thinking, and the story got back to the village leaders.”
Georgette shrugged. “Sounds likely. I wish people had more smarts. Poor Benjamin fell into that stupid trap and was nearly impaled by the sharp sticks the hunters had set in the bottom. Instead of being thankful that Jerome had found Benjamin and had the good sense to notify his parents, so that Benjamin was rescued with nothing more than a broken leg, all they can see is that it is an abomination that non-humans can talk and think.”
“I know, but some folks just can’t change,” said Betsy. “But now we have to hustle! No one will do anything until you approve the plan.”
Georgette turned to Sabrina and Juniper. “Your trip just got detoured. I hadn’t planned on having you get anywhere near the village, but we have to rescue this family.”
“And we want to help,” said Juniper.
Sabrina nodded vigorously. “Yes, we’ve been talking about stopping bullies. Well, this is the time to put our words into actions,” she said.
“Thanks,” said Georgette. “We have to travel fast now. Sabrina, you get on my back and hold tight. Juniper, you climb onto Betsy.”
Once the girls were securely on top of the fox and the bear, Georgette and Betsy took off at a run. They sped straight across the meadow in the direction of the river. As the fox and bear ran, Juniper and Sabrina looked across at each other. What now, thought Sabrina.