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The Wishing Cave (youngsters:fairy tales, 2988 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Jan 29 2006Views/Reads: 3673/1725Story 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 

'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. 

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