She recalled receiving a message that day from a flyer who had just witnessed the terrible calamity. The flyer said that Bron, Thora (Littlefoot's mom), and Dvora were on their way to live with Grandma and Grandpa Longneck when it happened. A mild earthshake, not much to shatter the entire landscape, yet a powerful enough tremor to cause a tremendous landslide. Poor Dvora, momentarily pausing to gather tree stars, got caught in the avalanche. While she was not severely injured, the rock slice blocked her way; the trail was completely obliterated. She tried to call out to her sister and Bron, but they could not hear her.
It was assumed Dvora got buried alive with no chance of escape. Bron and Thora tried in vain to dig their way to Dvora but it was no use. It pained Thora to leave her sister behind, but the threat of more tremors put both Bron and Thora in greater danger. Bron reasoned, "If Dvora is still alive then she'll find her way to us. If not..."
Never will Grandma forget that day Bron left to find a new home for all of them, some place safe to raise the little one yet to be born. Thora was so sad; she loved Bron that much and wanted him by her side always. She also missed her sister, who she insisted was still very much alive. "As Bron said, if she is alive, she'll find her way here. But what if she doesn't?" At least the birth of Littlefoot gave Thora much joy and sadness, all the same. She wished Bron had returned, and she hoped that Dvora would miraculously appear, but either was not meant to be.
"She died, never to see Bron and her sister again."
"What's that you say, my dear?" That was Grandpa Longneck who had just had a long discussion with Mr. Thicknose, Bron, and the Old One. It was just as he and Grandma suspected: Didi is really Dvora, and that lady had valid reasons – well, really one big reason – not to reveal herself, not just yet.
Grandma, tears in her eyes, said in a hushed voice, "I was just thinking of Thora, and how much she loved her sister. If only she was alive now..."
"I thought the same, too, dear," said Grandpa, comforting his mate, "When Bron introduced Didi, I knew right away who she really was. That is why I was with Bron and the Old One, and Mr. Thicknose. Seems Thicknose noticed immediately, yet Dvora made him swear to tell no one. And I agree with Bron and Prudence: We must let Dvora tell Littlefoot in her own way."
Now Grandma was a little more than outdone. "How can she be so secretive? What is keeping her from telling the world she is alive and well?"
"Because," replied Grandpa, in very hushed tones, "she is in love with one of our Valley residents. His identity I don't know, and he is not aware of her feelings. Neither Pru nor Bron knows of this unrequited love. Apparently she had pined for this young buck all these years. According to Mr. Thicknose, Dvora doesn't want this male to know; she fears instant rejection."
"Poor thing!," said Grandma, now thoroughly intrigued. "So that is why she won't reveal herself. My dear, let us do a little detective work, just you and I. If we can find out the identity of Dvora's true love, perhaps she will drop all this secrecy. After all, if it is a sure thing, one can't stop love."
To this Grandpa chuckled in good humor. "Oh, that sounds like fun, and I believe, if everything goes well, we should prepare for nuptials..."
"That is," Grandma said cautiously, "if he is an accommodating male. We do have a few here in the Valley who profess lifelong bachelorhood."
Grandpa laughed again, saying, "I'm sure whoever he is, he'll be quite flattered a female has carried this love all these years. He wouldn't dare say 'No'."
"So how will we get them together?," asked Ducky.
The kids, back in their secret hideaway that overlooked the Great Valley, began to map out their plan to bring two special longnecks together. Problem was, how? They couldn't tell Pat outright that Didi loved him, and that lady would be angry if she ever found out the kids were playing matchmaker behind her back. So the youngsters had to be extra secretive, not let either Didi or Pat know.
"I say," said Cera, who always had a plan that she insisted was failsafe, "we invite Pat to listen to Didi's stories. We can just say she tells great stories, and he shouldn't mind that."
"Why not invite him to join us," suggested Ali, "but we don't show up. It'll be just Didi and Pat, so they can be alone and get to know each other better."
Now why didn't Cera think of that? It was no secret the little threehorn didn't like to be shown up by others, especially a longneck. But Ali's suggestion, Cera thought begrudgingly, was perfect.
"We have to time it perfectly, though," said Littlefoot, "and we need the perfect place for them to meet."
"Me know," said Petrie, "They can go to flowery meadow."
Ducky giggled, saying, "Oh, yes, yes, yes! It is very pretty there with so many good smelly flowers."
Shorty, not one to go for mushy stuff, just rolled his eyes, snorting, "You mean like a date? Won't they suspect something? What if they don't like each other after all?"
Littlefoot thought of this. Yes, Shorty made a couple of points. What if Pat and Didi end up hating each other? Didi never said she was in love with Pat; she just asked about him, that's all. This he said to his friends who laughed, especially the girls. Ali giggled uncontrollably, saying, "Littlefoot, didn't you notice the look in Didi's eyes when she asked about Pat? That's the same look my mom gets when my dad is around. She's in love, all right."
"Me think you right," said Petrie. "Littlefoot's grandparents look that way all the time."
Littlefoot now wondered if this love stuff was for real. Well, he knew Grandma and Grandpa loved each other very much, and Bron still talks about Thora as if she was still alive. Yes, that look of love was very evident in Bron's eyes. Littlefoot could have kicked himself for not noticing that loving light in Didi's eyes. Now if Pat's eyes will have that same glow when he meets Didi...
"O Bright Dreaming Star that never leaves the sky. You've granted one part of my wish: to be among family once again. Now I wish to let him know how much I love him. I've waited all this time, and now, just when I thought my fondest dreams would never come true, I learn he is here. But I'm so afraid he'd reject me – He is so much older than myself; he would never consent...I just want him to know my feelings. That is all I ask..."
Staring up at the sky with teary eyes, Didi whispered her deepest secrets to the Dreaming Star, hoping that, soon, she would be able to gather courage to tell a certain longneck she loved him. What joys to discover Pat actually lived in the Great Valley. What frightening visions ran through Didi's head if he ever knew how she felt. Surely he would reject her, but ever so gently; he'd not be that callous. However, there was the delicate matter of age difference. Pat was old enough to be Didi's father. Not too many older gentlemen dinosaurs, longneck or otherwise, paired with much younger females, but it was not unheard of. But folks talk, spread scandalous gossip if one of their senior males decided to take up with a sweet young lady.
On this night, Didi made up her mind on at least one thing: She was coming clean with Littlefoot. Oh, she knew the fallout, that the boy's grandparents would lay into her for keeping such news so secret. But, somehow, earlier that evening, Didi got a feeling Grandma and Grandpa Longneck already knew her true identity. They never let on, of course, just made nice small talk and invited her to lunch with them the next day. Didi accepted the kind invitation, wondering if it was all a trap to get her to open up. Nonetheless, she passed a restless night, fretting over how to tell Littlefoot she is his maternal aunt; how to deal with her unrequited for Pat. She also wrestled with the decision whether to settle in the Great Valley permanently or take to the road again, never to return. It was the anticipation of Pat's rejection that frightened her most, not Littlefoot's reaction to his Auntie Dvora being alive and well.
She finally settled to sleep, but restful slumber did not come. Heavy footsteps approached. At first she thought it was Bron or the Old One, or perhaps Grandma Longneck. They had to hear her words waft out in the night air; she had no idea her voice carried that much.
"Having trouble getting some sleep? I guess that makes two of us."
That voice sounded so familiar – a deep roughened drawl that she hadn't heard in years. Could it be...?
Didi never turned to face the one addressing her; she just said, "Oh, I think it's being in unfamiliar surroundings."
"Well," he said with a throaty chuckle, "I know the feeling." A brief pause, then, "You know, it does a world of good if you can't sleep to just sit up and talk. I could use the company right now."
A heavy pain shot through Didi's heart. No, she wasn't sick or in agony, not physically but sick in mind and heart. She slowly turned her head to face him, allowing those big brown eyes to meet his bright blue. Even in the dark, she would know him anywhere.
"Pat," she whispered.
"Why," Pat replied in equally hushed tones, "Dvora...I thought you were dead. Seeing you now, I can't think of anything to say but...Darlin', you don't know how much I've missed you."
That said, he bent down to nuzzle her face then planted a tender kiss to her cheek. The feelings rushing throughout her very being quite took her breath away...
To be continued...Go to Chapter 5
Copyright © 2005, 2006 by PRP.