I led Creepster through the hayfield at a full run. The moon was full, illuminating the path that entered the woods under Barney the Owl’s nest. He saw us, but only fluffed his feathers as he nodded. He would sound the alarm if Ralph the Raccoon showed his masked face.
Barney and George were as close as brothers. Once, when they were young, George had held off a squad of weasels and saved the owl nestlings. To look at Barney now, you would never guess that he had once been an owlet only two inches tall. Now, he had a six-foot wingspan, and all the baby weasels feared him. Many of their nightmares I had been told were made up of Barney chasing them through the dark field. Indeed. Many of them had lost that chase. He could be trusted.
Although we had been led in while Ralph and I covered our eyes, there was only one tree in the woods that their headquarters could be located. The biggest, oldest tree: Old Holler, we called it, and soon we were standing within ten feet of the five squirrel sentries charged with watch.
Two of them were flirting with each other. Sniffing, nipping, playing tag while racing up and down the bark of the tree. The other three had bored with watching them. One had fallen asleep, the other two were deep in conversation, arguing about the possibility of receiving new swords that month.
Since I had been the one that saw the location of the book inside the squirrel’s headquarters, I motioned for Creepster to distract them. A smile lit up her face. My sister is the bravest cat I know. Without question, she soundlessly withdrew into the woods. In a few seconds, I could hear the love cry of my people. The squirrels sat up and took notice.
I could hear them discuss whether they could take leave for the few minutes it would take to watch some romance. From the smirk on their faces, I knew they would not be able to resist.
The love cries grew louder, and more insistent. Soon all five squirrels raced off into the dark to watch the spectacle. And I was in.
It only took a minute. I tied the book around me with a vine growing at the base of the tree. I was soon headed back to the Concrete Palace. I had no worries over Creepster, I knew she could hold her own. But just to be safe, I passed under Barney’s tree and pointed. He would spread the alarm if I needed to return.
The trip back was much more difficult pulling the book behind me, but I soon was close to the lit porch of the Palace, where George waited for me within its light. We spread the book out, open to the page that showed the map.
Now the one thing about George, is that he loved books. There wasn’t a book he hadn’t had his paws on, and some days he would take hours just to devour them. Page after page he read, his paws weaving back and forth over the words and pictures. His brow furrowed. I could tell it was serious.
A scratch came at the door, and I peered out. Creepster stood proudly on the porch. In her mouth, she held the squirrel sentry that had been so enchanted with the she-squirrel. He didn’t seem so enchanted at the moment, hanging from my sister’s fangs. He was begging for his life. One look into his eyes told us that we would not be able to grant that wish. We dispatched him quickly, and had a meal of rare steak while studying the map.
George made short work of destroying the evidence of the book theft. After memorizing the pertinent information, he ate the book.
Stay tuned for Episode 8: The Alarm Sounds Over Dove Breakfast