Gateway to the Classics: Firelight Stories by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
Firelight Stories by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

The Little Girl Who Wanted the Stars

O NCE upon a time there was a child who wanted all the stars in the sky to play with, and she cried for them from morning till night. One day, she started out by herself to see if she could find them.

She went far, far away, and then farther still, until she came to a mill wheel, creaking and grinding away.

"Good day to you," said the child to the mill wheel; "I want all the stars in the sky to play with. Have you seen any near here?"

"Ah, yes," said the old mill wheel, "every night they shine in my face from the pond until I cannot sleep. Jump into the pond, little girl, and you will find them."

So the child jumped into the pond and swam about, but she could not find any stars. She swam until she came to the brooklet, and to the brooklet she said:—

"Good day, Brooklet. I want all the stars in the sky to play with. Have you seen any near here?"

"Ah, yes," said the brooklet, "they glint on my bank at night until I cannot sleep. Paddle about, little girl, and you will find them."

So the child paddled about in the brooklet, but she could not find any stars. Then she climbed up the bank, and sat down in the meadow to dry. Now it was a fairy meadow, and when it came night, out scampered the Good Folk to dance on the green.

"Good evening, Good Folk," said the child, "I want all the stars in the sky to play with. Have you seen any near here?"

"Ah, yes, we have," said the Good Folk, "they glisten in the grass in the night time. Come and dance with us, little girl, and you will find as many stars as you like."

So the child danced all night with the Good Folk, but not a star could she find. When it came morning the Good Folk danced away to hide, but they said as they left:—

"Ask Four Feet to carry you to No Feet. Ask No Feet to take you to the stairs without steps. Then climb, and climb up the stairs without steps, and you will find the stars in the sky."

The child thought that this was all very strange. She wandered about, not knowing which way to go, until at last she came upon a little pony, standing, saddled and bridled, in the woods.

"Good day, Four Feet," said the child, "will you carry me to No Feet?"

"I wait for the Good Folk's bidding," said the pony.

"It is from the Good Folk that I come," said the child.

"Then jump upon my back," said Four Feet.

Away they galloped, over field and meadow, until they came at last to the sea.

"I can take you no farther," said Four Feet.

The child looked out over the sea, and in the middle she saw an arch of beautiful colors. It glinted and glistened in the sunlight. It reached to the sky.

And a great fish swam from under the arch, and up to the child.

"Good day, No Feet," said the child, "I want all the stars in the sky to play with. Will you carry me to the stairs without steps, that I may climb up, and get the stars?"

"I wait for the Good Folk's bidding," said No Feet.

"It is from the Good Folk that I come," said the child.

"Then jump on my back," said No Feet.

So No Feet swam, and swam, with the child upon his back, until they were far from the shore. They came to a glistening arch in the middle of the sea.

"I can go no farther with you," said No Feet, "here are the stairs without steps."

So the child jumped from No Feet's back, and tried to climb up the rainbow, but as fast as she took one step, she slipped back, splash, into the sea.

She tried, and she tried, but it was no use at all. She could not climb up to the sky. So, after a while, she called No Feet, and he took her to the shore of the sea again, and she went home to her mother. She had found out that the stars are too far away for a child to reach, and she never cried for them again.


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