Storytime Friday: East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Part 3
Here’s the next installment! Enjoy.
The next few weeks went by quickly, as if in a dream. The palace was huge and magnificent, and every day she discovered some new hidden treasure. There was a fountain made of solid gold, covered with magnificent carvings of fish that sprayed cool clear water out of their many mouths. There was a room made of mirrors of the finest crystal, and within it was a tree made of pure silver with glass leaves and marble apples. One night, when she had gone farther into the palace than she ever had before (there seemed to be no end to the place) she descended a spiral staircase deep into the earth, and came out in a huge cave whose walls sparkled in the candlelight with precious gems of all kinds, and whose ceiling was too high to see. These were just a few of the wonders she discovered.
The bear was usually gone, off on some secret business of his own. But some days he stayed with her in the palace, and they would eat and talk together. Once, when she was in a particularly playful mood, she snatched a fish right off the bear’s dinner plate and ran off into the garden, shouting “Catch me if you can!” The bear rumbled with his particular laugh, and chased her all through the garden. Though she knew he could have caught her in an instant if he chose, the bear instead let her stay just a little bit ahead, until he finally tackled her and wrestled the fish from her hands. Though his limbs were thick and strong enough to batter her to bits the bear was as gentle as could be. They played this way often, and it always ended with them both collapsing into a happily exhausted heap. Often she would curl up next to him and fall asleep in his warm, soft, fur. She liked those days the most.
Of course whether the bear was there during the day or not, she would always hear him come in and night, and sit in the chair beside her bed. She wondered how a bear his size could sit in that chair every night without crushing it to splinters, but she remembered the bear’s warning and tried not to let her curiosity get the best of her. She refused to look. Still, she found she couldn’t sleep soundly until she could hear him breathing next to her, and knew he was there.
Still, after some weeks had gone by, she began to miss her family. She wondered how they were doing, and whether they were worried about her. So when she next saw the bear she asked him if she could visit her family.
“Of course.” The bear replied. “You are not a prisoner. I can take you there today if you’d like, and you may stay with them as long as you wish. I’m sure they’ll be very pleased to see you.” The bear’s voice suddenly became very serious. “However, you must promise me one thing. Your mother will want to talk to you alone; do not let her. Only speak with her when there are others around. She will try her best to lead you into another room to speak privately, but you must not let her. If you do we will likely become unhappy, and great misfortune may come upon us.”
She was confused, but she would agree to almost anything if it would let her see her family. Besides, the bear had given her everything she had ever wanted. She trusted him. “I promise.” The bear simply nodded in reply, slowly.
After they had eaten a magnificent breakfast she climbed on to the bears back, and held on as tightly as she could. Immediately the bear began to run in his incredible way, and soon the world was a blur around her. A few minutes later the bear stopped, and she could see her old home. Or rather she could see the valley where the little shack and stunted farm once sat; but now where the shack once was there stood a grand white farmhouse, two stories tall with windows of real glass. The land around her had been transformed into beautiful fields and pastures, with hundreds of cattle, goats, and sheep. In front of the farmhouse many of her brothers and sisters were playing; when they spotted her they let out a shout of excitement, and ran to see her. She jumped off the bear’s back and found herself embraced by many arms, and the air was filled with exclamations of joy. “Welcome back!” You’re alive!” “Do you see our new house? Do you see it?” “Where did you get such a beautiful dress!” She laughed and gave them all a great big hug. “It’s so good to see you again!” She turned to thank the bear, but the bear was gone. He had left as silently as a cat.
End of Part 3
This installment was a bit on the short side. I usually like my cliffs to be a bit hangier at the end of a post, if you know what I mean. I might end up posting an extra storytime friday update next week (if only to make up for last friday, which had no storytime at all). So keep your eyes peeled for that.