“I’m glad you’re back, Miss,” said Joseph, crushing his hat between his hands, which was never a good sign.
“What is it?” asked Judy
“It’s about the rhinos, Miss.”
“What about them? Are they okay?” she asked, suddenly nervous.
“Since you didn’t have time to talk to them before you left, and because you said I was in charge of the rhinos, I told them about your plan. The one where they could choose a new family.”
“What did they say?” asked Judy, who was watching Joseph’s hat take a beating.
“They said they don’t want to leave for any reason. I told them you thought they would be happier that way, and they said they weren’t going anywhere. They said they have never been this happy in their entire lives and they like being together. They said they love all of us and they aren’t budging. And a rhino named Nancy would like a skirt…in purple,if that’s possible.”
Judy burst into laughter, then threw herself at Joseph and said, “How WONDERFUL,” she shouted. Then she started dancing with him and said, “Let’s go and talk to the rhinos, shall we?”
Rosy, Runway and Roland trotted over to greet them when they saw Judy and Joseph heading their way. Judy kissed them, petted them and gave them all apples. Joseph saw the old rhino standing under one of the trees and went over to him. He patted his neck and gave him a couple of apples as well.
“Okay,” said Judy. “Here’s how it’s going to go. All of you have a forever home right here. You may live here as long as you like. If you would like to leave, for any reason, please let me know, so that I don’t worry and never stop crying. Deal?”
Rosy pushed her with her horn and got a few scratches for her effort. “Then it’s settled. As many of you who wish to stay, are welcome to do so. Joseph, Burt and the rest of the crew are going to start building winter quarters for you, so you will be warm and snug when it snows.”
“It doesn’t snow here.”
“Does it get cold?”
“It does,” he said nodding. “Goes down to about 45 degrees.
“Uh, that’s not cold, that’s fall.”
“Whatever you say, Miss.”
“Well, build the shelters anyway. Everyone needs a house, and if it rains they can all go inside, if they like.”
“How’s your friend doing?” she asked, looking at the old, worn, rhino.
“Better,” said Joseph happily. “He’s eating the way he should and he’s getting closer to the others. Runway and Roland visit with him everyday and he likes that.”
“Joseph, can you tell me about me? Was I born here? Who are my parents? Why can’t I remember any of that?”
“Best you ask your Knight, Miss.”
“I’d rather hear it from you,” she said, softly.
Joseph bowed his head. “Your not exactly from here, Miss. You’re from the place you just left.”
“You mean the earth plane?”
Joseph nodded. You father was human.”
“What was she?”
“Wasn’t,” said her Knight, coming up next to her. “She wasn’t.”