By Hector of the Black Height
Not so long ago, when the land was as old as old, and the wisdom of the North whispered in the winds, all the birds and beasts of the Northlands met in the meadow down by the Inland Sea, for they had observed many strange and wonderful things.
"I saw one of the humans enter the woods," said a starling, perched in a tree. "She was a beautiful lady, and when I sang my morning song, she sang back to me a song like the angels sing."
"I heard that song," the sparrow replied. "That must have been the same lady who came across my chick, fallen from the nest, and picked up my sweeting and put him back in the nest with me."
"I too saw this lady," said the doe, "a maid dressed all in white, who met the daughter of the old widow woman who lives down by the Inland Sea. I saw her take the little girl and hold her to her bosom and comfort her, and then lead her home to her mother."
Next to speak was the hare. "I saw her, then, and her lord beside. They were together, leading the girl back to her mother, and came across me, trapped by a great limb of a fallen tree. Her lord lifted the limb from me, and set me free."
Brock badger said, "When in their travels they came across the terrible tyger of the south, the lord drew his sword, poked the tyger in the snout, and whacked it across its rump and sent it scurrying. I'll wager the tyger doesn't disturb the Northlands for a while."
The wise old owl said, "I too saw these humans, and saw them return the daughter to the old widow woman who lives by the Inland Sea. I saw his lady take the girl to meet her mother, and I saw the lord behind the widow's hut, and after I saw a great pile of firewood stacked, where before had been poor deadfall."
The old wolf of the North woods spoke up. "These are no mere humans, my brothers and sisters. You have seen the Prince and Princess of the North, and we must pledge fealty to them."
The next morning, as the Prince and Princess of Ealdormere stepped outside their great hall by the Inland Sea, the path, and the meadow, and all the lands in sight of the great maple by the Inland Sea, were covered in sparkling white flowers. The Prince and Princess were amazed, and sought an answer to this beautiful vision in the whisper of the winds.
The winds spoke clearly to them, and said, "Your birds of the Northern skies, and your beasts of the North woods, pledge fealty to their true Regents. As token of this, they would give you a treasure, a flower of three white petals, for the beauty, kindness and compassion of their Princess. To support those petals, the flower has three stout leaves, for the strength, courage, and humility of their Prince."
The Prince and Princess heard the wisdom of the wind, and saw the Trillium flower for the treasure it is, just as the birds and beasts saw their Prince and Princess for the treasures they are. And from that day to this, the Trillium is the treasure of the North, blossoming freely throughout the realm of Ealdormere, where no man dares pluck it, for that would be a theft of the North's gift to its ruler.
This story first was published in The Book of the Reign of David And
Copyright A. McLean 1991, 1998. All rights reserved.
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