Ollie's Mission of Mercy





Ollie the Owl was sleepy, but knew he had to forego rest. It was dawn and the bright yellow sun was just peeping over the green tree tops. Ollie had a breath-taking view from the top of a huge oak tree, the highest in Forestville.

Ordinarily owls were busy at night, hooting and doing what these interesting and big-eyed birds do. And then, after a busy night of activity chasing after mice and other food and making hoo-hoo noises, they usually took a long nap.

But no such luck for Ollie this day. He had to set out on patrol. For the animals and bird citizens of Forestville recently had voted him into office as mayor.

And since Ollie was a quiet, hard-working owl who took his new job seriously, he planned to make the rounds to make sure the citizens were safe and secure and at peace with one another.

So Ollie, with one more look around with his binocular-like eyesight, launched himself from his perch and circled the town.

The first animal he saw was a good friend, a fat lady brown bear, and she looked worried. And because she seemed worried, Ollie began to worry, too.

He decided he had better float in for a landing on a beautiful rose bush near the garden Beulah Bear was tending. Ollie liked to perch on them because he enjoyed the delightful perfume of roses. But he was always careful to avoid the thorns that rose bushes grow to keep people from picking them. These were red roses, too, Ollie's favorite color.

"Morning, Beulah," he said, "why do you look so concerned?"

Beulah was startled when he spoke, for he had come in for a silent landing behind her as she was watering the tomato plants. In fact, she spilled some water from the hose all over her furry feet. But she quickly regained her composure when she recognized him.

"Oh Ollie, I am so glad to see you," she said in her deep, growling bear voice. "I need help, a search party, or something."

"My, that sounds serious," Ollie replied. "What's this all about?"

"It's my family, they have all been gone since yesterday afternoon, missed dinner and everything. And my cubs, Bandy and Billy, are always on time for dinner. When they didn't show up, Barney was fit to be tied."

"Well, I can understand that," said Ollie. "Barney is one of the finest fathers we have in all of Forestville."
When Ollie thought deeply, his eyelids fluttered up and down over his large round eyes. They looked like camera shutters as he reflected on what he could do to help the Bear family. They were some of his favorite animals.

"Tell you what," he said, placing a comforting wing over Beulah's shoulder. "I'll just take a turn around the woods and see what clues I can come up with."

"Oh, would you, Ollie," cried Beulah happily, thinking she was glad she had voted for Ollie in the mayoral election. He always seemed to know the right thing to do. "I would be so thankful."

So Ollie turned, gave a little thrust of his wings and was airborne. Before you knew it, he was way up in the air, looking this way and that, for his wise old eyes could see for miles and miles.

Soon he was a long ways away and saw Harry, Farmer Jones' tall brown horse. He was a beautiful animal, with a white diamond on his forehead, and white-stocking feet. Harry had huge muscles and was famous in that part of the state because he could pull a great weight and plow for hours at a time without rest. No other horse could beat him in a race, either.

Ollie banked his wings and came in for a landing a few feet from where Harry was munching on rich, nourishing grass in the Farmer Jones meadow.

"Well, hello there, Ollie. How are you?", whinnied Harry." He trotted over quickly for he and Ollie were old friends. "You haven't paid me a visit for a long time," he added, chewing his grass as fast as he could, for he knew it wasn't polite to keep on talking with his mouth full.

"Yes, I know," said the owl. "But you see I've been pretty busy lately. The Council of Animals elected me mayor of Forestville and I haven't had much time to get around lately."

"Now tell me something I didn't know," said Harry with a mirthful whinny. "Who do you think I voted for?" He swallowed his well-chewed mouthful of delicious grass and added, "That was the best news of the year. I can't think of a better animal or bird for the job."

"But that can't be the reason for your visit, you don't need votes now," Harry said with a chuckle. Sometimes Ollie couldn't tell whether Harry was laughing or talking because they sounded almost the same in his small owl ears.

Ollie laughed, too, admitting that he wasn't seeking votes just then. His face became serious.

"I talked with Beulah Bear and little while ago. It seems that Billy and Bandy disappeared last night. And when Barney went to look for them, he didn't return either. I'm a little worried about hunters, since this is bear season when it's legal to shoot them. Did you see them by chance?"

"Why as a matter of fact, I did," said Harry, making Ollie's face brighten up and his beak twitch.

"I was out pulling the plow last night for Farmer Jones, and I saw Bandy and Billy come running along the fence near the wheat field. They were headed for the brook down at the edge of the woods. You can see the animal path from here, we call it 'The Paradise Nature Walk'."

Harry bent down and nipped at some clover, but didn't take much because he didn't want to appear impolite. "I was busy working at the time, so I didn't have a chance to talk with them," he said, switching his tail and stamping a hoof to discourage a circling fly.

"Well, thanks so much for the information, Harry," said Ollie gratefully. "I appreciate it very much, and so will Beulah. You didn't by any chance see Barney come through here, did you?"

"No, I didn't," said Harry reflectively chewing on the clover buds. "But it was getting dark then, and Farmer Jones and I stopped working shortly after that. I was tired from plowing all day and I suspect he was tired, too."

"He gave me the day off today," said Harry proudly. "He certainly is a good boss."

"Thanks again for the information, Harry. I'll fly down to the brook by following that path and maybe I can find out a few things. Hoo-hoo!"

"Goodbye to you, too, Ollie. Stop by again when you get the chance," Harry whinnied, nipping again at the luscious clover.

In a flash, Ollie was in the air again, flying along the well-worn animal path toward the brook. All the animals in the woods used the brook for drinking, for the water was crystal clear and very sweet and refreshing, especially on the hot day. All the animals agreed to be careful about not hurting the fish, mostly catfish, carp and bass. They regarded them as friends.

Soon Ollie arrived at the brook and saw several animals standing at the waters edge. Some were drinking and others were talking about news of families in Forestville. A few brought jugs and jars to carry water home so they could have a cool drink whenever they were thirsty.

Ollie floated in for a drink himself, and afterwards spotted Bertie Beaver in the crowd.

"Hi there, Bertie, how are you today?"

"Hello Mayor Ollie," he replied, "how are things at the Town Hall?"

Ollie and Bertie were good friends. Bertie had made many fine speeches to help get Ollie into office as mayor.

"I'm fine, Bertie, but a bit worried. I'm searching for some missing animals."

"Don't tell me, I think I know already," said Bertie surprisingly. "They wouldn't be Barney, Billy and Bandy Bear would they?"

For a moment, Ollie was too shocked to answer, for he couldn't figure out how Bertie knew already. But owls have a way of hiding surprise, and his expression didn't change.

"Yes, those are the animals I'm searching for," he said quietly.

"I know where they are," exclaimed Bertie soberly. "I saw them early this morning. I talked with Barney Bear and you are really going to be shocked when you find out what happened."

"Where are they, Bertie? I must find them and let Beulah Bear know what happened. She is beside herself, when I left her she was in tears."

"Well they're down in the glen, near the east fork of the brook. I believe that Barney is trying to build a raft to float them down this far."
"Float them!" Barney hooted loudly. "Can't they walk?"

"I'm afraid not," replied Bertie smiling. "But don't worry, it's not too serious. You'll see the reason they can't walk when you get there."

So without further delay, Ollie took to the air again, trying to hurry but somewhat exhausted from lack of sleep. Before long, he spotted three figures on the bank of the brook near the east fork.

"Hello Ollie!" roared Barney Bear, who had the loudest voice in Forestville. Noting the concern on Ollie's square face, he said, "Whatever is the matter? You look as if you were trying to solve the problems of the human world, too."


"Barney, where in the world have you been? Don't you realize your wife is worried about you. What's happened to Billy and Bandy Bear?"

Then he noticed the two cubs lying on the ground, groaning and moaning, with their hands over their stomachs.

"They've been bad little bears, Ollie," said Barney, with a grin on his big, brown face and his eyes squinting in merriment. "I think they are being punished for running out of their own back yard without anyone knowing about it."

"Whatever do you mean?", inquired Ollie.

By this time, Barney was laughing so hard, he couldn't respond. His fat belly bounced up and down and shook all over and tears were rolling down his big jowls, which are what humans call cheeks.

Since he wasn't getting answers to his questions, Ollie hopped over to where the small bears were lying on the banks of the brook.

"Oh Uncle Ollie," cried Bandy Bear, "we've been so bad. We ran away from home and got lost."

"Yes, and we found some honey," said Billy Bear, "and wild berries, and apples and pears and we ate too much."

"Now our stomachs really hurt and we don't know what to do," chimed in Bandy.

"Well, well, well," said Ollie sympathetically, "that's too bad, but you are getting just what you deserve for running off without telling your mom and dad. Do you realize how worried your mother is?" But the bear tots were in so much pain they weren't paying much attention.

Ollie turned to Barney with a better idea of how to get the sick cubs home. He told Barney to get his beaver friends to stop cutting down trees. And he flew off to Farmer Jones' meadow and told Harry to hitch up the wagon. Harry put a layer of hay in it for little-bear comfort and trotted quickly to the scene. A few hours later, the two sick bears were delivered into the arms of their beaming mom, Beulah Bear.

"Ollie, I don't know how to thank you for all you've done"

"Please don't mention it Beulah," said Ollie, who was embarrassed at such praise, for he was a very humble owl and felt uncomfortable when people talked about his good deeds. They were many, and that's one reason he was popular and was elected to the highest office in town.

"As mayor of Forestville," he told Beulah, "it's up to me to see that the problems of all the animals are taken care of. That's my job, and I want no thanks for it. Just make sure those two sons of yours behave from now on."

"I don't think they'll ever do that again, Ollie," she said, smiling and happy to have her children back, safe and sound. "Having the stomach ache was bad enough. But I had to give them some very bad-tasting medicine and you should have seen the faces they made when that went down."

His main mission of the day accomplished, Ollie Owl took a short rest in one of his favorite perches, the nearby red rose bush, deeply inhaling the fragrance. A few bees came buzzing around and some hummingbirds had planned to drink some nectar from the gorgeous roses. But they talked it over and agreed to wait until Ollie woke up so he wouldn't be disturbed.

It was only a brief nap before Ollie's big round eyes flew open, and he soared away to check on the welfare of the other animals of Forestville, because he was mayor and he wanted to help everyone as much as he could.