When Mariella was quite small, not much older than a Spodling, she found herself in trouble with the Squirrel Council, and it started one autumn afternoon.....
Mariella was entertaining herself in the woods, watching the to and fro-ing of all the creatures, when one in particular caught her attention. It was a young squirrel. He was coming and going from a particular spot, with acorns and nuts. He was hiding them away so intently and with such purpose, Mariella found herself watching him for most of the day. As happens, when one is watching someone else be very busy, Mariella became quite peckish. I have to warn you, what Mariella is about to do is very naughty - and I have no excuse for it at all. She slipped down the tree, and whilst the squirrel was gone, she ate all the nuts. She did! In her only defence, she intended to eat only a few. But once she started that naughty little Spryte could not stop! Just as she was munching the last delicious acorn, the squirrel appeared, furious, shocked, devastated.
"Thief!!" He started to yell "THIEF!!" The squirrel was hopping to and fro around Mariella, and before she could run away, three very large squirrels appeared, took hold of her, and carried her off!
Mariella found herself in the hollow of a huge oak, a very wizened looking squirrel sitting opposite her, with two more on either side. She had been brought to the Squirrel council. Above her, hundreds of faces peeped through holes in the tree, watching.
"You have been brought here, young Spryte" the Squirrel suddenly announced, "Because you stole precious food, food that belonged to us, and namely to Scratch" Here, he pointed at the teary eyed Squirrel Mariella had stolen from, whom she now realised was probably the same age as herself.
"Seeing as you feel entitled to eat our hard earned food, SQUIRREL food - we offer you a challenge. If you win, Scratch will have to re-forage the food himself, alone, but if you loose, you will. Do you accept?"
Mariella was to afraid to query what the actual challenge was, and so she simply nodded.
The challenge turned out to be a race, through the tree tops from one end of the wood to the other. Mariella felt quite hopeful, as she was fast, light, and extremely brave.
The race began. Scratch immediately took the lead, knowing the route better, his anger fuelling his speed. Mariella wasn't to far behind however, and had the advantage of long arms she could swing from branch to branch with.
All of a sudden Mariella heard the terrifying call of a buzzard. "Scratch!!" She called ahead, trying to warn him. "There is a buzzard! Go down!" They were high on the treetops, you see, going under the canopy would give them safety.
Scratch though Mariella was trying to trick him, trying to slow him down by making him race through the thick branches. He wouldn't listen to her. Mariella started to panic, she could see the shadow of the buzzard hanging over them, and as Scratch stopped running to tell her she couldn't fool him, the Buzzard swooped. Without thinking, Mariella leapt forward - hurling herself at Scratch barreling into him just as the Buzzards talons closed in, too late. The two of them fell painfully down to the woodland floor, relieved to have escaped the buzzard, but sore and tired from the descent.
"You saved my life! I am sorry I didn't believe you, I just couldn't hear it....I, I.... I don't know what to say" Scratch trailed off, looking rather sorry for himself.
"How about thanks?"
"Oh yes, of course, Thankyou"
Scratch jumped over, and the two of them hugged, laughed, cried, and checked out their injuries. "It's lucky we had a soft landing" Mariella giggled, the ice broken.
"Pinecones! Hundreds of pinecones!" Scratch started hopping around again, bruises forgotten.
"Uhm, I take it you like pinecones....?"
A few moments later, the adult squirrels arrived having followed the race, a few paces behind. They had seen what Mariella had done, and in addition to finding more than enough pinecones to feed all the squirrels over winter, they deemed her not only forgiven, but forever a friend to the Squirrel family.
Mariella is still best friends with Scratch, and indeed her closest friends are squirrels, she can be found racing, riding, and gathering with them, causing trouble, terrorising blue-tits.