“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
Over the next few days, Marvin continued to act very strange.
As soon as Mom or Dad let us out in the morning, Jasmine and I would run to the back corner of the yard to find him.
We would talk for a while and Marvin would be polite, but he wouldn’t have much to say.
If I suggested that we all play a game or go to the fence line and find Spots, Marvin would make an excuse and go back into his branch pile.
One of Marvin’s favorite games was for him to sit on top of his branch pile and throw the tennis ball for me to fetch and bring back to him. I decided that maybe a good game of fetch might cheer him up.
The next morning, Mom was still brushing Jasmine’s coat when Dad let me go outside first. I grabbed the ball in my teeth and ran back to Marvin’s house.
“Hey Marvin,” I yelled. “Come out and see what I have.”
Marvin stuck his head out of his branch pile as I pushed the ball with my nose and it rolled to him. “Let’s play fetch!” I said as I ran around in circles.
Marvin’s face broke out into a big toothy grin as he grabbed the ball with his tail and scurried up onto the top of his house of branches.
He would hold the ball with his tail and spin around and around and then let it fly into the air. I would run and try to catch it before it hit the ground and then bring it back and sling it up on top of the branch pile.
We did this again and again until Marvin began laughing again like his old self.
It was about this time that Jasmine came running and bouncing out of the house to join in the fun.
“Can I play too?” she asked in her sweet little voice.
I was about to say “sure” when Marvin suddenly dropped the ball, scurried up the tree, and jumped across the branches until he disappeared into the wooded field next to ours.
“What’s the matter with Marvin?” Jasmine asked.
I told her that I had no idea, not realizing that we were about to find out exactly what the problem with Marvin was the very next morning.
I had been telling Jasmine about The Rescue Club. I explained to her that each of us had been rescued in our own way.
I told her about how Mom and Dad had found me starving to death under the cedar tree in the field and rescued me.
I told Jasmine how Marvin and I met and about the winter snowfall when a tree branch fell on his branch pile and broke his tail.
I told her how my family had rescued him and nursed him back to health.
I explained to her how Marvin and I had rescued Spots from the burning barn and then we all decided to start a rescue club that only we animals would know about.
Then I told Jasmine the stories of how we had rescued Chester the goat from across the street and Rambo the pot-belly pig from the mud hole.
Jasmine was amazed at how God had used us little animals to help others who were in trouble. I explained that we had discovered the Creator had given each of us different talents and abilities that we could use together to do remarkable things.
I believed God had given her talents also. Maybe He would use Jasmine to help us in the club if she wanted to be a part of it.
Jasmine said that she would like to be a member if the others agreed. That’s when I decided to call together a meeting of The Rescue Club the next morning.
As soon as Mom let us outside the next morning, Jasmine and I ran around the house and across the back yard to the chicken coop.
“All for one” I shouted as I ran. “And one for all” came the answer back from Marvin and Spots.
We all gathered near the fence behind the chicken coop, except for Chester who had decided he was too old to be a member of the club.
“What’s the emergency?” said Marvin. “Does someone need to be rescued?”
“No, there’s no emergency this time,” I said. “But I wanted to call this meeting of The Rescue Club so that we could talk about letting in a new member.”
“Who is it?” said Spots. “Does Rambo want to join, or did Chester change his mind?”
“No,” I said “It’s Jasmine. I believe that one of the reasons the Lord brought her into our lives is so that she can be a member of The Rescue Club. She can add her talents with ours to help others.”
“That would be great!” said Spots. “She has my vote!”
“No way!” said Marvin. “She’s a GIRL! She can’t help rescue anybody. We were doing just fine until SHE came along.”
“Marvin, that’s a mean thing to say,” I replied.
“You know that’s not true. God will use anyone if they are just willing to help. Why would you say something like that and hurt Jasmine’s feelings?”
“It’s not fair,” said Marvin. “You’re supposed to be MY friend not HER’S!” he shouted as he turned and ran across the yard and disappeared into the wooded field.
I turned and looked at Jasmine and I could see the tears in her eyes. It broke my heart to know that her feelings had been hurt.
“I am so sorry, Jasmine.” I said, “I don’t know what has gotten into Marvin or why he would say such mean things to you.” I nuzzled her nose to let her know how I was feeling.
“He’s afraid,” said Chester. The wise old goat had heard everything from his barn. “He’s afraid that Jasmine has taken his place and you’re not going to be friends with him any longer.”
“Oh no!” I said. “No one could ever take Marvin’s place. He’s my best friend. My feelings for Jasmine are more than just friendship. Marvin will always be my best friend.”
Without realizing it I had blurted out my true feelings for Jasmine. I looked at Jasmine and she turned her head and smiled.
I knew that I had been wrong by ignoring Marvin the way that I had. I should have explained to him the way that I felt about Jasmine.
I knew that I had to make it right with my possum friend.
But I didn’t see him the rest of the day. When it got dark outside I sat looking out the back window, hoping to see him running across the yard in the moonlight.
But I never did.
I lay down on the floor beside Mom’s side of the bed thinking, “Tomorrow I have got to explain things to Marvin. I have got to make this right.”
(TO BE CONTINUED)