That comment came from Neera who, as a child, heard the old folktales. But she never believed them to be the truth. They were, for the most part, just legends that never could be proven true. At least that is how Kron regarded such stories. Well, Kron isn't here, and from what Baylene said about the Old One, the story has to be true, isn't it?
Eema replied, "That is the way I heard it. And those little ones really put their plan in motion to bring Didi and her true love together. The problem was he didn't know she felt this way. And don't forget: Didi was not her real name, and she had yet to reveal herself to the family. After all that time, they thought she died, and understandingly so, seeing what caused her to be separated from her loved ones."
"But," asked Aladar, "did Littlefoot's grandparents figure out who Didi really was? I mean, surely after watching her, they could tell..."
"They did," replied Baylene, "but they left it up to her to tell Littlefoot. Even Bron felt it best to let Didi set things right. But there was that little matter of revealing herself to her true love, and he, at first, had a hard time accepting that fact."
"Oh, Baylene," said Eema, "we're getting ahead of ourselves, so why don't we pick up where Didi befriends the children and begins to tell them stories..."
"The same stories," said Plio, "that Littlefoot heard from his own mother...They will strike a chord..."
Back to the late Jurassic, to the Great Valley..
Many days into the herd's visit to the Great Valley, the ice had been broken. The mysterious lady longneck who called herself Didi soon endeared herself to the youngsters, telling them stories that seemed to strike a chord with Littlefoot. Wasn't the story about the "Dreaming Star", as Didi called it, the same his mother told him so long ago? Before the Sharptooth and earthshakes took her away...
"I know," Didi said to her enraptured young audience, "while travelling to the Great Valley, we followed the Great Circle to where it touches the ground. But there is another way. I used it when I was on my own for so long. It is a star that never leaves the sky. You can find your way even at night, long after the Great Circle has gone. Why, every night, I speak my wishes to it. Before I found the Old One and Bron, I wished I could find a nice herd, not be on the road by myself so much. Maybe find a nice place to settle and make friends."
Petrie, perched on a nearby rock, said, "Me think your wish come true."
Didi smiled, saying, "I guess it did. Bron and Prudence have been very nice to me. And," she said, looking at Littlefoot, "Your grandparents have made me feel so welcome. I think I've found my home."
Littlefoot didn't know what to make of this statement. Did Didi say that right? That she decided to stay on in the Great Valley – permanently? This he asked, and Didi was quick to reply, "Why of course, Littlefoot. I have been on my own too long, without a family to love. Oh, I had family, but..."
"I see you're telling the young ones about the Dreaming Star. Mind if I join your little circle?" That was Mr. Thicknose who had been listening from a distance but decided to join the group. Besides, there was something about Didi that was very familiar.
"Mr. Thicknose," said Littlefoot, "Didi is telling us about the Dreaming Star. She said it never leaves the sky, and you can find your way even at night when the Great Circle has gone to sleep."
"That is correct, Littlefoot," Thicknose replied, "The star is quite bright and it always points in the same direction."
Ducky rejoined, "And you can wish upon it. Didi said she wished she could find a nice home. Her wish came true. It did, it did."
Thicknose smiled, his wrinkled face lighting up in Didi's presence. He still had the feeling he had known her from long ago. But no, the girl longneck he knew must be dead. How could anyone survive such a catastrophe alone? Well, these little ones certainly managed to band together, outsmarting sharpteeth and who knows what other dangers after the great earthshake. Yet Didi, by her accounts, was alone with no one to protect her. She must be quite a plucky gal to survive alone this long. He asked, "Didi, where have you been all this time? Surely you have encountered many a herd to travel with."
Didi, ever being on her guard, knowing that Thicknose obviously recognized her, merely replied, "It is true. I was separated from my family, but I managed to survive. And you are right: I did meet up with a herd or two but didn't stay long. I just wanted to be on my own. Independent streak, you know."
Swiftly changing the subject, she turned to Cera and said, "I know you and your friends were at the crater, when we pushed the Great Circle back up into the sky. Did you by chance meet an elderly gentleman longneck? Well, he would have to be much older by now, since I hadn't seen him since I was a young girl. Someone said he is here in the Great Valley."
Cera looked at Ali, who looked at Ducky. Both Ali and Ducky nodded knowingly. The boys' eyes, especially Littlefoot's, widened in surprise. The little threehorn wondered if he was the one Didi was in love with. Could it be? Cera had to know, but she was careful in replying.
"Well," she said, carefully choosing her words, "we did meet up with a longneck. See, we – that's Petrie, Ducky, Spike, and I – decided to look for Littlefoot, and...Well, we got chased by a Sharptooth after coming out of the icky place, and we had to hide. But this longneck came along and said the Sharptooth was gone."
"Then," piped up Ducky, "Cera tried to jump over the fast water, but Pat saved her from drowning. He did, he did."
"And no forget," said Petrie, "Pat burned his foot in hot gurgly stuff."
Seeing the alarm in Didi's eyes, Cera quelled Petrie with a look that could blow the top off the fiery mountain, she said, "But he was okay after that. We had a tough time when we found Littlefoot, but the Sharpteeth came again, and–"
"No," interrupted Didi, "Say no more. I think Pat is the one...Tell me, what happened during the Sharptooth attack? You know, when you arrived at the crater. I heard from others who witnessed the whole thing, so I didn't see it myself."
The kids went on to recount the daring battle with three Sharpteeth and the valiant efforts of Littlefoot's grandparents and father to roust the deadly trio. Didi tried not to cry when Cera recounted how she and Shorty, at the last minute, gave that nasty Sharptooth the boot before he made a snack out of Pat.
"He's okay now," added Cera, "The burn healed up nicely."
"Though," rejoined Ducky, "he has a nasty scar. Oh, we did not tell you. We invited Pat to come home with us. He is very nice. He is, he is."
Didi smiled, thanked the children for such timely news, then said, "I think we can have story time later. Right now, I want to talk to Mr. Thicknose. You know, grown-up stuff."
That said, the kids looked at Didi with sheepish grins. They finally knew the identity of Didi's secret love, but how would they bring Pat and Didi together without either one knowing? They would have to devise something, anything, but not let the grown-ups discover their scheme.
"Thank you," said Littlefoot, "for telling us those stories. I really like the one about the Dreaming Star. My mother told me that same story, and that she learned it from her mother. She said she and her sister would ask their mom to tell that story every night."
Didi felt her eyes well up, but no tears fell. She just asked, "Did your mother tell you anything about her sister?"
"Just that an earthshake separated them long ago, just before Mom went off to live with my Dad and grandparents."
Not long after the kids left, Mr. Thicknose took Didi aside, saying, "You may have fooled Littlefoot, but you don't fool me. I would've known you anywhere...Dvora."
Now Didi had, as the Old One advised, to come clean. It was obvious Thicknose, after all this time, would be the first to recognize her. Of all dinosaurs, he could be trusted to keep secrets.
"Okay," she said with some relief, "you found me out. But please, for my sake, don't tell the children, especially Littlefoot. This has to be my call. Let me tell him in my own way."
Thicknose wasn't buying it. He immediately launched into a series of questions: Where was she all this time? Didn't she have any idea her nephew and in-laws resided in the Great Valley, and that she had the opportunity to make herself known during the Great Longneck Migration? Did she stumble upon Bron and the Old One by chance or on purpose?
"I know you too well, Dvora. Even after all this time, we've been friends long enough for me to tell when you're hedging. So, out with it!"
Didi knew she had no choice; she had to tell him.
"Mr. Thicknose," she began, "You know what happened that day of the earthshake. I took a tumble down the mountainside, then the landslide blocked any possible way out. I was hopelessly trapped, alone, with no way to make it back to my sister. All this time, I prayed that I would find my sister again, but it never happened. I just wandered from place to place, teaming with a herd only to strike out on my own again–"
"You could have settled anywhere," said Thicknose, "but you chose to wander around like a vagabond. Uh, not to bring back sad memories, but did you know what happened to your sister, to Thora?"
Didi's tears came fast and hard. "Someone told me...Rooter told me what happened, that Thora died of her injuries. Sharptooth attack...Littlefoot simply vanished. He told me Bron had returned but could not find Thora or Littlefoot anywhere. I suppose they were en route the Great Valley. That is where all the herds were going, he said. I never thought that my nephew would survive such a journey on his own, yet he did."
"But how," pressed Thicknose, "did you 'stumble upon' Bron's herd?"
"I didn't find him, or the Old One, by accident. I searched for them, acting on a tip from Sue. See, after the longnecks left the crater, I ran into her and her new love along the way. I asked a few questions about Littlefoot and his grandparents, and about Bron. Sue said word got back to her that Littlefoot had returned to the Great Valley with his grandparents. Bron simply left with his herd. She even told me the direction in which they travelled. I just followed the footmarks..."
"And you just bumped into them," said Thicknose, not angry but a bit disappointed. Didi could tell by his expression that he was a little annoyed with her evasiveness. "You know, Dvora, that young one deserves to know the truth. You're family, and everyone needs to know you're still very much alive."
"But," protested Didi, "what about Pat? I just found out he is living here now, and I just can't face him, admit that–"
"That you're in love with him?" Mr. Thicknose chuckled, his eyes twinkling. "Of all longnecks, you had to fall for him. Tell me, Dvora, does he, or did he, ever know about...Well, you know, that you've fallen for him?"
"No, and he must never know! It would kill him, and me. You know he's not the marrying sort, always treasuring his freedom–"
"Yet, he gave up a life on the road to settle in the Great Valley, just as you are doing."
Didi shook her head in disbelief, saying, "I had to ask the children about him, but only out of curiosity." She sighed, adding, "I guess I could tell him, but letting Littlefoot know his auntie is alive and well is my top priority. Thicknose, promise one thing: Don't let Cera's dad know about me. If I know him, he'll blab to everyone before I have a chance..."
TO BE CONTINUED...Go to Chapter 4
Copyright © 2005, 2006 by PRP.