Princess Rosie of Rosieland stepped into the forest, following a pudgy little squirrel with a peanut. It was almost dinnertime and she wanted to make sure he had something to take home to his family. It shouldn't take long to get his attention, she knew exactly how to speak Squirrel, as she'd listened to them chatter in the trees every day of her young life.
But the squirrel didn't seem to understand her and darted up a tree, then sat very still behind a clump of leaves so that Princess Rosie couldn't see him. She walked around the tree, and saw him dive for a branch of a nearby tree, then dive again and again. "Little squirrel, I'm not going to hurt you, I have some food for you and your babies!" she said, holding up her little hand filled with peanuts. She saw the squirrel high up in the tree, just staring down at her, a little winded from his acrobatic escape.
Princess Rosie shrugged her little shoulders and placed the nuts at the foot of the tree. It was getting late, almost time for dinner and she knew her parents would be wondering where she was.
She took a step or two, looked around her and realized that nothing looked familiar. She was off the path, and too far into the trees to even see it anymore.
She looked up, and there was no sunshine peeking through the leaves overhead anymore. Dark. Out after dark was against the rules. Mommy and Daddy would surely be worried and looking for her by now. But would they look in the woods where she wasn't supposed to go alone? Tears of doubt began to well in her eyes, and fear began to make her little lip quiver.
From the hollow tree trunk over her head, Joey Owl saw her distress.
"What's up, Princess?" Joey Owl asked as he landed on Princess Rosie's shoulder. She nearly jumped out of her skin because he'd flown so silently, but smiled at her friend.
"Oh, Joey Owl, I was trying to feed a squirrel and he ran into the woods, up a tree and jumped into other trees. I followed him, and got lost! And it's dark! And it's time for dinner! And my Mommy and Daddy aren't coming! And I'm scared!" After all that, Princess Rosie hung her head and began to weep.
Joey Owl leaned against her cheek and rubbed his little feathered head against it, drying up her tears, then flew to the other shoulder and did the same. "It's okay, Princess Rosie, I can see in the dark, I know how to get to the path, and I will help you."
Princess Rosie looked at Joey Owl with her doubts, but nodded. "I hope so Joey Owl, or I am doomed. And won't your Mommy and Daddy be expecting you home for dinner?"
"Dinner? I just had breakfast! Two big, fat, juicy worms!"
"Worms for breakfast!!" Princess Rosie said, grimacing. "And it's time for dinner!"
"Not in the Owl family! We get up at night and go to bed in the morning. So our meals are at different times than humans."
Joey Owl smiled, though, because while Princess Rosie had been busy being grossed out at his breakfast menu, she had stopped crying. So he flew to a low branch of a nearby tree, and said, "Walk this way. Keep following me, for I have special eyes that see very well in the dark." And Princess Rosie did so.
Joey Owl flew from tree to tree, very slowly so that Princess Rosie's human eyes wouldn't lose him in the dark.
Tree by tree by tree, Joey Owl led Princess Rosie through the forest until they came to the edge of the palace yard. Then Joey Owl landed on her shoulder because there were no longer tree branches on which to perch.
"Princess Rosie! Princess Rosie! Where are you?" she and Joey Owl heard her Queen Mommy and King Daddy walking about the palace grounds looking for her. She could see their flashlight beams sweeping back and forth around the yard, into bushes, and she hurried toward them so fast Joey Owl almost fell off her shoulder, twice!
"There she is! There's my Princess!" King Daddy called out to Queen Mommy, and she ran to him, Joey Owl and all, and King Daddy lifted her up and twirled her around, he was so happy to see her.
Queen Mommy hurried up to them and joined in the group hug, and Joey Owl got smooshed into it too, a little owl smile spreading across his face, sparkling in his big, round owl eyes.
Finished hugging for the moment, Queen Mommy and King Daddy led Princess Rosie, Joey Owl still on her shoulder, inside the palace to have dinner.
Joey Owl sat on the edge of the table beside Princess Rosie as she told of her high adventure in the royal woods.
All were amused and very relieved that she was safe, thanks to Joey Owl, whose meal was served to him on a silver platter – two giant, juicy worms. Just what would hit the spot on this happy occasion.
And somehow he knew he would be seeing a lot more of his friend Princess Rosie.
He looked over at her as she sucked in a long string of spaghetti from her plate. At the same moment he sucked in one of his worms.
Yep! They were like two peas in a pod forevermore!
With all my love and hugs to Rosie and Joey