Dewey and the man-servant both shook their heads and walked back to Jaxon’s straw pile, but Jaxon was not there. For Jaxon to be out at night was very unusual, so they both decided to stay there for a while and catch him when he returned. It was not long.
As soon as Jaxon came through the barn door opening, Dewey and the man-servant confronted him.
“Jaxon,” said the man-servant, “where have you been at this time of night?”
Jaxon looked really uncomfortable. “Oh … well … I thought you would have gone back to the farmhouse by now.”
“Well, you thought wrong!” said the man-servant. “Would you please tell us what is going on, because we are concerned.”
Jaxon hesitated. “Well … I had to meet somebody.”
Dewey looked at him. “Jaxon, why would you want to meet somebody this late at night?”
Jaxon was looking at the ground. “Well, because that was the easiest time to meet her.”
“Her?” asked Dewey.
“Well yes … but it’s not what you’re thinking, and I can’t tell you anything else.”
The man-servant stood there for a moment, and then said, “Okay, Jaxon. It’s getting late now, but tomorrow we are going to have a talk!”
Dewey and the man-servant walked back to the farmhouse and, as they were about to open the door, they heard a noise from the barn. They both turned around, and saw Odessa once again flying off into the night. The man-servant turned to Dewey. “Why is Odessa constantly going out? Do you have any idea what she is doing?”
“Not really,” said Dewey. “I did ask Jaxon about it, and he said that she was looking for food, but I am pretty certain that Jaxon knows a lot more than he is saying. Why don’t we go back to the barn, now that Odessa has gone, and talk to him again?”
The man-servant thought that was a good idea, and so he and Dewey turned around and went back into the barn … but Jaxon was not on his straw pile. They looked around for him, but he was nowhere to be seen. They had both started walking down to Odessa’s end of the barn when they suddenly heard a squeaky kind of sound. Out of the shadows, came Jaxon. “Hi again!” he said. “Let’s go down to my straw pile, as I am guessing that you want to talk.”
Jaxon had settled down on his straw pile, and turned to face the man-servant and Dewey, when Odessa flew through the barn doorway and went straight up to her beam. They heard that squeaky sound again from her end of the barn for a brief moment, and then all was quiet once more.
“Jaxon!” said the man-servant. “Are you going to tell us what is going on here?”
Jaxon looked from the man-servant to Dewey and then back to the man-servant. “Yes, I am,” he said, “but please come back tomorrow morning. I will then answer all of your questions.”
The following morning, directly after breakfast, the man-servant and Dewey walked over to the barn. When they reached the straw pile, they were rather surprised, because both Jaxon and Odessa were sitting there and obviously waiting for them.
“Okay.” said the man-servant. “What have you two been doing?”
Odessa took a step forward. “I think that you had better come down to my end of the barn,” she said. Odessa flew down to her part of the barn, while the others walked. When Jaxon, Dewey, and the man-servant reached Odessa’s area, they all looked up to see her sitting on her beam with one wing outstretched. They once again heard the squeaky sound they had noticed on earlier visits.
Odessa looked down at them. “Man-Servant and Dewey …” She hesitated, and looked under her outstretched wing. “Allow me to introduce you to Hermione.” Odessa lifted her wing and folded it back against her body. Right there, sitting next to her, was a baby Barn Owl. The man-servant’s mouth dropped open and he was lost for words. Dewey just looked at the two Barn Owls over his head, and sat down on the barn floor.
“Odessa,” said the man-servant, “I have to ask an obvious question. Where did Hermione come from?”
Odessa looked at him in total disbelief. “I don’t believe you asked that question, Man-Servant. Hermione came from her mother.”
“No!” said the man-servant. “I didn’t mean that!”
Odessa looked at him. “You never cease to amaze me, Man-Servant. What did you mean?”
The man-servant thought for a moment. “I meant to ask how she got here … in this barn.”
“Well,” said Odessa, “I brought her here.”
“But where did she come from?” asked the man-servant.
Odessa looked down her beak at him. “Man-Servant!” she said. “You’ve already asked that question!”
“Oh yes, I’m sorry,” he said to Odessa. “I wasn’t thinking.”
Odessa rolled her eyes. “Not thinking is a bad habit that you humans seem to have. Perhaps I can help you to change and become better at expressing yourself?”
The man-servant totally ignored her comment. “Where did you find Hermione?”
Odessa hopped off her beam and landed in front of the man-servant. “Now that is a much more productive question; however, to find somebody assumes that they were lost in the first place.”
The man-servant was puzzled. “You mean that she was not lost?”
Odessa stared at him. “I did not mean that at all. Why must you make everything so confusing and complicated? I merely made the statement that you cannot find somebody who was not lost in the first place. Anyway, to stop you from wasting any more of my valuable time on lessons in elementary English, which I must stress is YOUR primary language and not mine, I will tell you that I found her alone on a branch of a tree. She was shivering and hungry, so I brought her back here and have been looking after her until we could find her mother.”
The man-servant looked up at little Hermione, and smiled. “How are you planning on finding Hermione’s mother?” he asked Odessa.
“Well, I’m not … but Jaxon is!”
The man-servant turned to Jaxon. “Well?”
“I have been using my magical powers to try to find her mother,” said Jaxon.
The man-servant was about to ask whether he’d had any success when there was a whoosh-whoosh sound, and a large Barn Owl flew into the barn and landed facing Jaxon.
“To answer your next question, Man-Servant,” Jaxon said, “yes. I was successful. Meet Florence.” He pointed to the new arrival.
The man-servant looked at the new visitor. “Hi Florence!” he said. “How are you?”
Florence did not answer, but Odessa stepped between her and the man-servant. “Man-Servant,” she said, “Florence cannot speak to you, because she does not understand your language.”
“Why not?” said the man-servant. “You do!”
“Oh, Man-Servant,” said Odessa, “you don’t understand, do you. It is simply a sort of miracle that I can talk to you. Barn Owls are not usually capable of communicating with humans. I thought you would have known that.” Just then, Florence flew up to the beam and perched next to Hermione. A few moments later, they both flew out of the barn and disappeared into the night.
The man-servant looked at his three friends. “C’mon!” he said. “Let’s all go the farmhouse and talk by the fire.” Then he turned to Jaxon and Odessa. “Nice work, guys. I’m proud of you both!”
When they were settled in front of the fire, the man-servant said, “Odessa, why didn’t you tell us?”
Odessa looked straight at him. “You couldn’t have done anything.”
“Well, we could have helped somehow I’m sure,” said the man-servant.
Odessa looked at him. “Man-Servant,” she said. “Why are you so delusional? Your presence would have frightened Hermione. You couldn’t have given her food, and you would have no way of trying to find Florence. I thought that the whole incident should be kept within the four walls of the barn.”
The man-servant looked at her for a moment. “Yes, Odessa, you are probably right!”
Odessa turned her head. “Probably?” she said.
“Okay, Odessa, you were right!” said the man-servant. Then he turned towards Dewey. “I guess, Dewey, that we …”
He never finished what he was going to say. Dewey was sound asleep!