For the first several hours of his journey, Malcolm felt good about his choice. He kept thinking about the mountain and the waterfall and all those beautiful flowers. But then his stomach started to growl and his pace began to slow. He wasn’t thinking about the mountain at all now – what he really wanted was some food. In his eagerness to start his journey, he completely forgot to eat breakfast and he certainly didn’t have any food with him now.
Malcolm looked around the forest. This area was entirely new to him and he wasn’t sure what to do. Then he noticed a big oak tree up ahead. It looked warm and inviting so he decided to stop there and get his bearings.
As Malcolm sat beneath it, he leaned back against the trunk. He wiggled back and forth, it felt so good on his tired body. He suddenly didn’t feel so worried, so he closed his eyes just for a moment to rest.
RAWR! Malcolm’s stomach had other ideas, though, and it let him know just what exactly that was.
“Oh my goodness,” said a chipper, squeaky voice from above. “Was that you?”
Malcolm opened his eyes and looked up into the branches of the tree. There high above, was a silver gray squirrel watching him.
“Yes,” Malcolm admitted. “I’m on my way to see Nana Owl, but I left so quickly I didn’t bring anything to eat with me.” He felt kind of embarrassed about his poor lack of planning, but as his stomach growled again he knew he needed help. Now was not the time for pride.
“You poor dear,” said the squirrel. “I only have these acorns. They’re not much, but you’re welcome to have them.”
Malcolm saw that the squirrel was pointing to an opening in the trunk of the oak tree and it was filled with a stash of acorns. Acorns were not Malcolm’s favorite, but in that moment he felt enormously relieved and so he told the squirrel, “Oh, yes, please. Thank you so much.”
The squirrel tossed a bunch of the acorns down to Malcolm. As he began nibbling on them, she scampered down the tree trunk. When he seemed to be finished she asked him, “Is there anything else I can do to help you?”
“Tell me your name,” Malcolm replied. The squirrel smiled at him. “It’s Jersey,” she said.
“Thank you, Jersey,” Malcolm told her. “Your kindness means so much. I hope someday we can meet again,” and with his belly full and his eyes bright, Malcolm again headed off to the west. He didn’t know what adventure lay in store for him next, but he now felt better prepared.
To be continued….