Once upon a time, there was a little squirrel. His name was Rudy. He was all alone in the forest, because he could no longer find his family. All sad, he sat under a tree and thought of his mother’s admonitions: Rudy, always stay close by and don’t run too far away.
Rudy remembered his siblings happily playing hide-and-seek in the high treetops. They had chased each other and had races. Who will get to the top of the tree first?
And when they were quite exhausted by this, their mother would call them all together. Then they gathered in a big branch fork, which served as their nest.
It was very cozy and soft in there, beautifully padded with moss and soft leaves. There were lots of goodies, and they ate together delicious nuts, mushrooms and fruits, and sometimes juicy berries.
Every day anew, the mother admonished her charges: Don’t run too far away from the nest! A large hawk is lurking nearby. He is just waiting to snatch one of you to prepare a scrumptious meal for himself.
But the youngest and smallest squirrel, Rudy, was not afraid of the hawk at all and did not listen to his mother’s warnings. So it happened that Rudy ran especially far away from the nest on a warm autumn day. He bravely wanted to explore the forest on his own.
Rudy jumped from one branch to the other, climbed from one treetop to the next, and did not stop until his stomach suddenly growled. Slowly it was getting dark, and Rudy wanted to go home quickly. He looked around, but he no longer knew the way home. All the trees looked the same.
Rudy suddenly got scared and felt terribly lonely. He called very loudly for his mother, but he got no answer. Now he sat there and didn’t know what to do.
Suddenly, he heard something rustling in the leaves. Curious as he still was, he ran to the place where the rustling came from. A big, old hedgehog was making its way through the undergrowth.
He was carrying a juicy, somewhat rotten apple on his back. Rudy knew the hedgehog. He was already very old and somewhat forgetful.
“Good day, Mr. Hedgehog,” said Rudy. “Do you know how I can find my way home? I’m lost, and I can’t find my way back!”
“No, I can’t tell you the way home. But if you are afraid, you are welcome to come with me, and we will ask the wise owl for advice. She lives in my neighborhood and gets around a lot in the forest. Maybe she knows the way to your family,” replied the hedgehog.
Rudy was relieved. At least he was no longer alone. They set off together. The old owl would have liked to show Rudy the way home, but she didn’t know it either.
However, she knew a nice mouse family and sent the two of them there. She said, “Maybe they can help you!”
When they arrived at the mouse family, the hedgehog and Rudy asked for the way home. Everyone pricked up their ears, but again, no one knew Rudy’s family.
They sent the two on to the clever fox. He knew his way around the forest very well. But the fox also said, “I know many animals in the forest, but I haven’t met your family yet!”
Just then, a porcupine passed by the fox’s den and heard their conversation from afar. “Wait!” it called out. “I think I know the way!” It said, “Yesterday, when I was looking for acorns – mmmm…my favorite – I heard a mother squirrel calling for her baby. I could lead you there!”
Rudy was excited and wanted to go right away. And so they set off. All the animals felt sorry for the squirrel, and suddenly, they were all there to help. The owl flew ahead, the fox sniffed along the path with his fine nose, the mice rustled wildly through the leaves, the hedgehog followed, and the porcupine gave the direction.
The fox was the first to spot the hawk, which the squirrel mother had always warned him about. But nothing could happen to Rudy now, because the other animals were watching over him. Immediately, they heard the calls of the mother.
Nimble as the wind, Rudy ran ahead and straight into his mother’s arms. He felt so happy and secure as never before. Never again would he run so far from the nest. Rudy’s mother thanked her new friends very much and was very relieved that the family was now complete again.
All the animals rejoiced with the squirrel family and could now contentedly make their own way home. Rudy’s mother still explained to Rudy that he was only allowed to follow the old hedgehog because he knew him and that he must not simply trust all the animals in the forest.