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|The Wishing Cave (youngsters:fairy tales, 2988 words)|
|Author: Ian Hobson||Added: Jan 29 2006||Views/Reads: 3127/1387||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|'But wells are very dark, and we might fall in and never be seen again.' Anther bedtime story from the fabled land of Astrantia.|
The Wishing Cave (Another tale from Astrantia) © 2005 Ian G. Hobson It was a very hot day in the part of Astrantia where Luzula lived. She was sitting beside the ornamental pond in her mother's garden. It was just a small pond with a single water lily and two goldfish, and sitting around it were three stout little garden gnomes, all dressed in red suits and hats, and shiny black boots, and each with a long white beard. They had been there in the garden since long before Luzula was born, and she was very fond of them and would often sit and talk to them, just as she did to her dolls. 'It's so hot today,' she said, pushing back several long strands of dark hair from her forehead, 'even with my parasol.' Luzula had found a bright green parasol lying across the footpath beside the river. It was rather a large parasol, especially for Luzula as she was only eight years old, but it held back the heat of the sun very well indeed. 'Are you hot, Fisherman?' she asked. The gnome she called Fisherman sat on the edge of the pond and held a fishing rod. The other two gnomes were amongst the flowers, one carrying a lantern and sitting on a wooden toadstool, and the other, with a pickaxe tucked into his belt, sitting on a rock. Luzula always thought the one with the pickaxe looked a bit grumpy. Suddenly one of the goldfish leapt out of the water and returned with a splash, and as ripples quickly reached the edge of the pond, Luzula noticed, for the first time, that the water level was very low, and that the water was looking rather murky. 'Hello,' said a very familiar voice. Luzula's mother, Caltha, had just returned home carrying two heavy wooden buckets; both full of water. 'I had to go all the way to the river for these,' she said. She set down the two buckets and rubbed the small of her back. 'All the village wells have run dry. That's never happened before. I don't know what it can mean.' 'Can I put some water in the pond?' Luzula asked, folding her parasol and then trying to lift one of the buckets, but it was too heavy for her. 'Good heavens, no!' replied Caltha. 'Not if I have to go to the river for it. Perhaps the wells will have water again tomorrow; then we can bring some for the pond.' She lifted the two heavy buckets and walked off towards her cottage, soon followed by Luzula. *** As the sun went down, the day cooled and darkness descended. But soon Hesperis, Astrantia's pale pink moon, rose into the sky, giving enough light for creatures of the night to go about their business. A hedgehog stopped beside the pond and lapped up a little water before moving off in search of slugs and snails to eat, and nearby an owl hooted. And then three other nocturnal inhabitants began to move. 'Could be serious,' said Gromwell, sliding off his toadstool and setting down his lantern. 'If there's not enough water for the pond and it dries up... well... it won't be the same without the pond, will it?' 'Your right there,' replied Willowherb. He adjusted the pickaxe in his belt and then stood up from the rock he'd been sitting on all day and rubbed his bottom. 'By heck, my bum's numb tonight.' Fisherman, whose real name was Sedum, lay down his rod and got to his feet and walked around the pond towards Gromwell. 'Be worse for the fish though... if there's no water.' 'As if you care!' exclaimed Willowherb, as he joined his two companions. 'You've been trying to catch 'em since they were just tiddlers.' 'I don't mean 'em no harm,' replied Sedum. 'It's not as if I have any bait on my hook.' 'Now don't start that argument again,' said Gromwell with a grimace. Click here to read the rest of this story (282 more lines)
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