A helping hand

It was an ideal day for a picnic — bright and sunny without a cloud to mar the perfect blue of the sky.

Dazel reached the lake with a flap of her bright, yellow wings. "Hello, Delma! All set for the picnic?" chirped Dazel.

"Most definitely!" said Delma with a grin, "Just wait till you see the fantastic spot I have discovered on the lake where we can spend the day".

"I can't believe Din Din is late today!" exclaimed Dazel as she fluttered around the lake bank in anticipation. Just then, they saw a massive, green figure lumber towards them. "There he is!" squawked Dazel.

When Din Din approached them at the lake's bank he was heaving and panting. "I made it just in time," he gasped, out of breath.

"Almost!" replied Delma with a kind smile.

Din Din had a basket made out of reeds strapped onto his back. "My mum has collected the most delicious assortment of fruits from the Fruit Park for our picnic," said Din Din.

"C'mon, we'd better get moving if we are to reach the part of the lake I have discovered before the sun gets too high in the sky and it becomes sweltering hot," said Delma.

"I hope the spot isn't too far away," moaned Din Din.

"Oh come on, Din Din! You need the exercise." quipped Dazel with a good-natured laugh and the three friends set off. Delma swam along the edge of the lake; Dazel flew above her while Din Din trudged along by the pebbled path along the lake.

The eastern edge of the lake was surrounded by the most glorious bank of green turf. The clearing was spattered with flowers in every imaginable colour — splashes of pink and fuchsia; dabs of blue and violet.

The lake made a narrow inlet into this part of the bank creating a pool where Din Din and Dazel could also bathe with Delma. After splashing each other thoroughly and playing a range of water games, the three friends were famished.

"Let's eat!" bellowed Din Din as he strode out of the pool. He walked up to the basket he had put under the shade of the birch trees. When he opened it he was aghast to see that it was empty.

"I don't believe this!" Din Din cried in horror. "The fruits are gone!"

"What," screeched Dazel as she flew over to Din Din.

"Someone's taken our picnic lunch!" said Din Din angrily. "Look there are footprints leading from the basket to behind the tree".

A very wet and fuming Din Din and Dazel followed the trail of footprints as Delma waited in the lake water. The footprints were tiny and seemed to end at an opening in an oak tree. Dazel peered inside the opening in the bark. Inside she could see a family of chipmunks hungrily devouring the papayas, grapes, pomegranates and oranges Din Din had brought.

"Excuse me," said Dazel sternly, “But that is our lunch you have stolen".

The family of chipmunks froze in panic at the loud, strange sound. The younger chipmunks began to whimper in distress. From the darkness of the tree trunk emerged an older chipmunk. She spoke in calm and hushed tones to the younger creatures and came out of the trunk.

"Let's talk somewhere else," the chipmunk whispered to Dazel urgently. When she saw the enormous Din Din outside the tree, the chipmunk baulked and staggered back, losing her composure.

"Oh my! You are huge!" she stammered.

"Forget that. You stole our lunch!" boomed Din Din. He could be menacing when he wanted to.

The chipmunk's eyes began to fill with tears. "I'm sorry. But I needed to provide food for my young brothers and sisters. My mother gave birth to these babies just a few days ago. She left to find food for them last night but has not returned. They were crying with hunger and I was desperate to find something for them."

Din Din and Dazel listened in silence, their hearts melting as the chipmunk told her tale. The chipmunk continued, "I was wandering about looking for something to feed them when I saw your fruit basket. We don't find fruit in this part of D'Land and I wanted to see if the little chipmunks would have this fruit. They seemed to enjoy the first few oranges I got from your basket. So I crept back and got all the other fruit. Please forgive me but I didn't know what else to do. They wouldn't stop crying."

Din Din and Dazel could hear the little creatures crying softly inside the trunk. "Oh don't cry," said Dazel at last. "We just want you to know that you could have taken our fruit by asking us. We would never have said no if we had known your predicament. But taking something without permission is stealing."

Din Din said softly, trying to wipe the tears which had leaked out from his own eyes at the chipmunk's sad tale, "What is your name?"

"My name is Chipper," sniffed the chipmunk. "I need to go find my mother. I fear she is in danger, otherwise, she would have returned. But I can't leave my chipmunk siblings alone."

"Oh don't worry," said Dazel quickly. "I will look after them. Let me first go and inform Delma about what has happened." Dazel was off in a flash of yellow and back within no time.

Din Din accompanied Chipper to look for her mother. They found Chipper's mother trapped in a thorny bush a few miles away. Din Din carefully pulled the thorny branches away with his blunt teeth as Chipper helped her mother emerge from its spiky depths. The mother chipmunk's furry body was scratched badly and bleeding in a few places. Din Din carried both the chipmunks to Delma near the lake's edge.

Delma looked at the scratches and dove underwater. She returned soon with a fin full of wed mud, "This is from the bottom of the lake and is supposed to be very healing". Din Din smeared the cuts and bruises with the cool, wet mud.

Soon the mother chipmunk was feeling better. Din Din carried her and Chipper back to the oak tree which was the chipmunks' home.

The newborn chipmunks were delighted as their weak but relieved mother hugged them close.

"Thank you," the mother chipmunk said to Dazel and Din Din. "If it wasn't for you both and your dolphin friend I would never have been reunited with my family. You were sent from the Heavens to rescue me".

Dazel and Din Din blushed with pleasure. When they returned to the lake to Delma, they were tired but contented.

Thus the day which had begun with just leisure ended with a deep sense of satisfaction and the three best friends touched yet another life in D'Land.

The Adventures of D'Land
Animated Series

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