The Great Forest Caper: A Shelby F. Squirrel Adventure 

 Chapter Nine: Aftermath 
by: Eleanor Lawrie 

A few days after the ‘first skirmish’ another battle was necessary to chase away two men who  arrived and began spraying yellow markers on all the smaller trees. The men left in a hurry, and the forest friends and their allies from the farm discussed and perfected their plans for continuing to protect their homes and their trees. During this whole time a TV mobile truck had been sitting in the clearing by the road. The crew arrived suddenly one morning, in time to film the unloading of a monster machine that the animals named Tyrannosaurus Rex. A small version of the same thing was brought in and parked beside it. Immediate plans were made to sabotage both of them, and this was done under cover of darkness the same night. Chapter 9 begins with the animals talking about this eventful night before going home for much-needed rest.  


  Before splitting up and going home, the team who had wreaked havoc so brilliantly sat together near the ruined machines in a spirit of triumph and happy camaraderie. Even the skunks were included, and it was evident how much it meant to them. Tears glistened in their eyes now and then, but they were grinning like Cheshire Cats the whole time.  
  “Okay, now what?” Marvin F. Mouse asked brightly.  
  “Yeah, what if they fix everything and start cutting trees tomorrow?” said Petra nervously.  
  “Maybe they’ll just bring new machines and everything we did will be for nothing!” whined Molly Raccoon. Polly nodded beside her as if she was worried about that too.  
  “Please, please! We have to stay optimistic, and believe in what we’re doing!” Shelby pleaded, front paws punching the air. “Let’s have a good sleep tonight, and come back early tomorrow to see what happens.” He had to stop this negative thinking in its tracks. It wouldn’t get them anywhere.  
  “And whatever that might be, we will figure out how to deal with it then!” finished the Wise Old Owl.  
   Realization dawned on all their faces: being united was the most important part, and that left no room for doubts or bad thoughts.  
   The father of the skunk clan spoke up, “We’ve never been included before, and we just want to say thanks! This will change our lives, I can feel it. The world feels like a pretty nice place to us right now!  And we’re so happy to help save this forest, it’s a real honor!”  
   He was very well-spoken, which impressed everyone. And the conversation that followed was very enjoyable for all of them. Finally, though, it was time to get some rest.  
    They all slept soundly and peacefully, confident that their efforts would not be in vain.  
                                           * * * *
    When Shelby opened Charlie’s gate in the morning, the old horse insisted on going to the forest right away to be there when the workers returned.  
    “This I have to see!” he gloated, “Never got to do anything this exciting in my whole life!!”  
    Shelby hopped onto his back and Charlie trotted over to settle behind the first couple of trees, well into the shadows. In the branches sat the flying squirrels, raccoons, Marvin Field Mouse and several of his family members. Each small mouse had been ferried up the trunk on someone’s back. The robins sat high in the treetops on swaying feathery branches. More concealed, because of their size, were the owls, mottled gray plumage helping them to blend in.  
    Shelby noticed Sultan and half a dozen brown hens hunkered down silently among a cluster of raspberry bushes, and soon even Billy Goat could be seen peering around a young evergreen.  
    They didn’t have to wait long; hearts started thumping when a minivan appeared and pulled in off the road. Two men got out of the front and several more piled out of the back.  
    “Holy smoke, what a stink!” the first one exclaimed. “Skunks, guys! Take a look around to make sure they’ve left!” They checked frantically in all directions, then continued forward with trepidation. When the foreman reached the side of the big tree-cutting machine, he let out a yell that brought all the rest at a run.  
      Holding their noses, or covering their faces with sleeves and handkerchiefs, they swarmed closer to the cab.  
     “Something’s chewed the wires to shreds,” one of them shouted, “and the knobs are all gone off the levers!”  
     “The seat’s ruined, men, this is why we’re smelling skunk here. Everything’s covered in this horrible reeking goop!!”  
      Quickly, someone peeked into the smaller cab and confirmed that it was in the same appalling condition.  
      With great resolve, the foreman reached into the Tyrannosaurus Rex cab, inserted the ignition key and turned it. The massive machine started with a roar, then began to splutter. It gave several gasping heaves and died with a pathetic groaning shudder.  
     “Okay, that’s it! This is outright war!” the foreman screamed. The other men backed off a little, not knowing how to react.  
     Just then the TV crew arrived in a small white car, and approached with curious looks on their faces. Awareness dawned in an instant and they dove into the parked truck, soon re-emerging with the requisite cameras, microphones, and cables.  
     Everything was filmed, the unwilling workmen were interviewed briefly, and quickly retreated in their little bus, looking ready to explode with rage. The TV cameras continued to run, and a couple began focusing on the trees. Someone’s sharp eye spotted the owls perched in a row, and then all eyes were straight up.  
     “Look at that!! There’s a crowd of critters here just to watch!  Something’s really happening here. Man, will this ever be breaking news today! See how much you can get on film, people.” All the rest of the TV crew turned to follow suit.  
     When one of them began to walk into the trees, and almost bumped into Charlie, with Billy right behind him, he screamed, “There’s more here in the woods!  It’s like some crazy version of ‘Animal Farm’!!” Then Charlie let loose a wild neigh and charged madly across the clearing and off into the woods.  
     The people froze in their tracks. That’s when Billy Goat lowered his head and aimed for the cameraman closest to him.  
     Shelby screamed with all his might, “STOP IT! These people aren’t cutting trees, so leave them be. What they’re doing could even help us!!  Let them alone, and just go home quietly, everyone. P-L-E-A-S-E!!”   
     Billy swerved sharply at the last split second, his hooves throwing up clods of grass, and galloped out onto the road toward the farm, the cameras following him until he was out of sight. Sultan the Rooster and his small harem headed back into the trees, disappearing as quietly as they had come. Rosie Robin started singing to try and bring some sense of normalcy into this sudden craziness. “Cheerio! Cheerio!” she warbled, her eyes scanning as things settled down.  
     Molly and Polly Raccoon slithered down the tree and waddled off, and some of the mice got rides on the flying squirrels if they could, but the rest climbed down on their own and slipped into the burrows close by to be safe.  
     Shelby breathed a huge sigh of relief, just as the Wise Old Owl alighted beside him. “A close call!” he stated, “You shouted just in time, and good that you did! We need every ally in this whole venture.”  
      “But what’s going to happen now?” Shelby wondered. “It’s getting more confusing all the time!”  
      “Don’t worry, Shelby,” his long-time mentor assured him. “I think things are developing just fine. And we still have our trees, don’t we?”  
      “Yes, we do!  Thanks for the reminder!  I’ll try to stay strong; I have to for the others, don’t I?”  
      “It seems that way, they look up to you, and that can mean a lot. Puts a load of responsibility on you, but I have a feeling we’re more than halfway there, and that this danger will soon go away.”  
      Oh, how Shelby hoped that was true!!  
      By then the camera crews had departed in their small white car. But Tyrannosaurus Rex and his miniature partner remained in position, silent threats nobody was able to ignore.   

Multiple Choice Questions:
1. After their night adventures disabling the monster machines, the animals talked about their efforts. They were feeling:  
   a) drained
   b) confused
   c) united

2. When the TV camera people noticed the animals watching, they wanted to film them and started to walk into the woods. They felt:  
   a) disheartened
   b) jubilant
   c) angry

Questions for discussion:
1. The idea for trying to wreck the Tyrannosaurus Rex and its miniature buddy was suggested by one of the raccoon twins. Why is this important to note?  

2. When the TV camera people notice the animals watching, they want to film them and started to walk into the woods looking for more. Why do you think Charlie and Billy Goat tried to launch a defensive attack?  


Special thanks to Eleanor Lawrie for providing us this excerpt from her wonderful book. 

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