“There are five rhinos in the field,” said Joseph, at dinner, “but I’m expecting more.”
“How many more?” asked Judy, slathering butter on a thick slice of bread.
Joseph shrugged. “I don’t know exactly, but I feel their number rising,” he said.
Burt, nodded. “Joseph is always right about those things. If he feels the rhinos are coming here, they are.”
“Okay,” said Judy. “We’re going to need more food, aren’t we.”
“More food, yes, but we have enough space for them. There’s the back field as well as the one they’re in now. Shelter might be a problem in the winter,” said Joseph.
“Can they forage for some of their food?”
Joseph shrugged. “You’ll have to talk to them about it, but I don’t know if we can get them to leave for any reason. The poor things have never been treated kindly before.”
Judy’s eyes filled with tears and Danny bit her in the calf. “Get a grip,” he hissed. “You’re the leader, remember.”
Judy cleared her throat. “Let’s have a breakfast meeting in the morning. We need ideas about food supplies and how to take care of rhinos. And any ideas about shelters would be nice, as well. But I may have an idea that will solve our problems.”
“I could make biscuits for the rhinos,” said Linnie one of the young cooks.
“That would be lovely,” said Judy, smiling at her. “I think they would be nice as a special treat. Thank you for the idea. We’ll add it to the list.”
“Shall I make something for the boys to wear?” asked Tilly. “Rosy, Runway and Roland seem to enjoy wearing their skirts.”
“They do indeed, but let me think about that and get back to you.”
“I want to have a party,” said Judy. “I want to invite everyone from the surrounding towns. I want to invite our fighters and the rhino riders.”
There was dead silence, except for the fork that hit the floor, when it fell out of Joseph’s hand.
“What do you think?” she asked, looking around the table.
“Anyone?” she asked, hopefully.
“That is madness,” said the Knight.
“You mean about the party, or inviting the bad guys?”
“What do you think?” he said, glaring at her.
“If we have a party, everyone can get to know each other.”
“Or kill each other,” said Burt.
“Is it too soon? asked Judy, looking at Martha.
As one, they all said, “YES.”
“Fine,” she said. “And Joseph…”
“Can you set up a sound system that will play music in the rhino field? I think they might like that.”
“I don’t know, Miss. I’ll try.”
“Can’t ask for more than that,” she said, smiling at him. “I need to make lists. Lots and lots of lists. But we are having a party. Abby, you take care of the castle and planning, Martha you’re in charge of the menu and food, Linnie can work with you. Tilly, you can make sure anything that needs to be made, sewed or mended, is taken care of…and, well, you all know your jobs, so just do whatever you thinks needs to be done. Any questions, comments, or anything else?”
“Who’s going to do the inviting?” asked Abby.
“Uh, good question,” said Judy. “How do we usually invite people to things at the castle?”
“This will only be the second time, Miss,” said Abby. “The first time was when you were born.”
“What?” she said, stunned.
Judy looked at her Knight. He nodded.
“Okay, that’s going to change. Joseph…any suggestions?”
Joseph stared at her. “Burt could go to each town and put an invitation up in their square.”
“Okay, if that will work, do it, please. Let’s pick a date.”
“It should be soon, Miss. Before the weather turns.”
“How much time do you need?”
“If we hurry, one week. If we want to do it properly, then two.”
“So, Burt, the party will be the weekend after this one, that gives everyone two weeks. Anything else?”
There was low mumbling and everyone got up and went back to what they were doing before the meeting.
Danny jumped onto Judy’s lap, the fox was asleep under the table. “The furry red thing with the bushy tail is out of strawberries,” said the cat.
“Don’t tell me you’re looking out for him,” snickered Judy.
“I’m just sayin’,” said the cat, looking at the Knight. “You take up a lot of space in the bed. Could you make yourself a little smaller out of consideration for the rest of us?”
The Knight broke into laughter. “I’ll try,” he said.
Danny purred. “That’s all I’m asking.
“I’ll get your friend some more strawberries,” said Judy.
“Yeah, thanks,” said the cat, jumping to the floor.