Chapter 1: Summer It had been a beautiful morning in the Redwood Forest, but now wind was whistling through the trees, warning all the animals and birds in the forest that a storm was coming.  Lightning flashed, frightening a little fawn and his mother. They swiftly ran for cover under some low- hanging branches. Then came the thunder roaring across the sky.  A little squirrel, his face fat with a big nut stuffed into his mouth, ran up a tree and squeezed into the first hole he could find.  The rain started slowly, plopping down on the dry, brown earth. Soon the rain was falling faster and faster, washing off dust from trees and ferns.  Puddles began to form in the dips and hollows. Slowly, the thunder and lightning passed.  The sound of the rain changed from pattering hard against tree stumps and ground to soft little plops in the streams and pools.  The sun peeked out from behind the clouds.  As the wind passed by, raindrops slid off the ferns onto the wet, brown earth.  A little fox, peering out of his den, jumped as a drop of water fell from a wet, shimmering leaf onto his nose.  It was summer in the Redwood Forest.   Mr. and Mrs. Buffington and their two children lived in a little house near the Redwood Forest.  After the summer storm had passed, Mr. Buffington sat down on a kitchen chair, put on his old shoes and said to his little family, “Now’s the time to weed the garden! The rain has softened the earth, so pulling up weeds will be fun.” Ben, ten years old, with big, brown eyes, looked up at his dad.  Ben really liked to pull weeds when his dad was helping.  Mr. Buffington would tell Ben how strong he was, what a good worker he was, and how proud he was of him.  Somehow, that made working in the garden more fun, and pulling weeds was much easier.  Mr. Buffington said, “Emily, you help your mother in the flower garden, and we’ll be finished before you know it.” Emily was eight years old and had long, blond braids.  Mrs. Buffington always put bright-colored bows on the ends of her braids.  Emily’s blue eyes were sparkling now as she said, “Mother, if we work hard, can we have a picnic in the woods together when we’re finished?” Mrs. Buffington, having already been up early to bake bread, suggested instead, “You and Ben can have a picnic, but your father and I are going to have a rest.” Chapter 2: Trouble in the Forest The weeding was finally done, and now the children could go to the forest for their picnic.  Mrs. Buffington placed the lunch in a sack and put it in the backpack Ben would carry.  She always sent the children with a good lunch and extra cookies.  Ben pulled his cap over his dark, brown hair as the children started towards the forest. Emily was skipping along at the side of Ben and breathing in the wonderful smells of the forest after the rain.  Suddenly Emily screamed, “Stop, Ben!  Something’s wrong in the forest!” “Duck!” shouted Ben, as a little mouse went flying over Emily’s head.  A bird came whizzing by Ben, upside down! “What’s happening?” yelled Ben, as a squirrel went rolling between his legs with a very surprised look on its little face. There was trouble in the Redwood Forest all right!  “Ben, we have to find Elf,” said Emily.  “He’ll know what’s wrong in the forest.” (You will recall, children, that on a previous picnic in the forest, Elf had been blown off a tree limb into Ben and Emily’s lunch box and carried to their home without their knowing it. Ben and Emily soon became acquainted with Elf and all his aunts, uncles, cousins and brothers and sisters.  They also became acquainted with fairies.  Yes, Fairy Prince Pompous and the King and Queen of all the fairies!)  Now, on with our story.  Ben and Emily ran fast through the forest, hoping to find Elf at home in his tree house.  It was very deep in the woods, but they knew the way; they had visited Elf and the fairies several times before.  They splashed through puddles and dodged as a rabbit flew by, followed by a mother porcupine and her babies.  All the other animals tried to stay out of the porcupines’ way, as needles shot from their little bodies into tree trunks and bushes.  Oh my, but things really were bad in the forest!