Moondella and the Humrunners (a bedtime story)
In a simpler place, Humrunners live and thrive. For those not familiar with these wonderful tiny people, an explanation is appropriate. Humrunners are wee creatures, no bigger than a man's thumbnail. They are people of habit and chance. Having the habit of forever seeking chances to render good deeds. Yet so small, that in times gone by they were usually rarely seen, except by children. And then only by children keen to notice things closer to the floor or ground. Children who's imaginations were still raw enough to believe what they saw before their own eyes. So really the good deeds of Humrunners were hardly ever noticed at all!
Humrunners are exceedingly swift indeed! Oh yes. So swift that normally the only trace of their being about, is the soft melodious sound their fast paced running makes as they pass by. But you must listen very closely and quickly to hear the little sound. They are so fleet when traveling about that the hum never lingers long.
Humrunners do love children. All children. Even the children of the big folk.
At times Humrunners will pause in their running about seeking chances, just long enough to admire a babe or small child. And if ever you happen to see one, it will probably only be ever so briefly. So look fast, and you will notice tiny hands clasped under a small chin, and a dreaming, joyous look on the happy little face, with the small head tilted slightly, and a contented smile just for the child. Oh do please look quickly! Because before you can blink half way, the Humrunner will be gone. Leaving you to wonder exactly what you saw, or which way he went. But listen carefully for the tale tell whisper of the hum, and you will know without doubt a Humrunner was near by.
The Land of Bloom is a secluded place of temperate clime and rich fertile soil, surrounded on three sides by beautiful tall mountains, all colored purple, gray, and other shades like a pigeon's wing, completely outlined in green. The fourth side looks onto a vast, brown rugged and scorched barrenness.
The Barren Land is a mystery to the big folk of the Land of Bloom. There had never been a reason for anyone to venture into it's emptiness. Nothing grows there at all. And it is so hot that no one was ever willing to risk life and limb to actually go into it. Not even to near the edge of it's boundary.
Oh, certain stories are told of distant ancesters who walked out of the Barren Land, and into the Land of Bloom a very long, long time ago. But most people believe it to be only myth. However there are some lovely pieces of quartz that were said to be brought out of the Barren Land with these ancient travelers. But the quartz were kept secreted away in the House of History, and no-one had actually seen them for generations. Not until After Moondella was a child.
Each year at the time of the Feast of Remembering, just before the Keeper of the Knowledge for the coming year is chosen, the story of the ancient ancestors are told, and even the quartz may be mentioned. A name is mentioned too, by some of the very elderly elders, of the man who brought the quartz. Saying their grandfather's grandfather knew the name. And the name was Rockcarver. It is believe this ancestor carved most of the beautiful statues located throughout the land. But many believe it all to be myth. But descendants of Rockcarver live in the Land of Bloom, in a dell.
At the Feast of Remembering, many stories are told. The history of the folk, (as well as is known), is repeated, along with the history of the cultivations of the land. Of the tall Oak in the middle of the land thought to be the planted there by the ancestors. It is said this tree is the great-great-great-grandmother of all the other Oaks in the Land of Bloom.
Yes the Feast of Remembering is a joyful time of repeated history, of song and dance. Of food and happiness. A time when toddlers sit on the knees of older folk and bigger children gather round in half circles to hear and learn the tales from this one and that one. Knowing to listen carefully, so that someday when their time comes, they too will repeat each tale with wisdom and skill.
Also while the feasting and telling proceeds, all girl babies born since the last Feast of Remembering are named! Many may find this an odd custom. But custom it is! So until this happy day, girl babies are called many pet names by Mamas and Papas, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, loved ones and friends.
Each year at the feast many little girls come away with names such as Daisy, Rose, Lilly, and Marigold. The folk in the Land of Bloom do love their flowers! But a few little girls stand apart from the others with different names all their own.
Which brings our story to a little girl who was given a name all her own. She was the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Rockcarver, and she was named Moondella.
Her name was chosen because she was born on a cool, clear, bright, and breezy night, while the moon hung plump and low over the dell where her home sat nestled. That night you could smell the honeysuckle, lush near the home, and hear the wheat as it danced in the breeze. It was a beautiful night, and she was a beautiful babe.
But she was a very exceedingly tiny babe, with apple cheeks, and a very small cry. She was seemingly quite delicate. But she was robust,and lovely. She was alert and contented. But her smallness caused her to be carried on a pillow, where she peacefully cooed and observed the world around her.
News of this lovely babe had spread very quickly thoughout the entire Land of Bloom. And through the tiny busy village of the Humrunners as well! The Humrunners reported to each other that she was more lovily to behold than any other child ever born of the big folk. And she was said to be the most near to their own size!
So by the time of the Feast of Remembering when Moondella received her name, Humrunners had been coming to see her daily for a fairly long time. Watching with loving awe as she learned to sit, to clap her pretty little hands, and speak her first words.
Yes the Humrunners grew to love Moondella, and lingered near her sometimes a full minuet in admiration! Sometimes even stopping long enough to sing her a sweet lullaby. They would draw near to her ear while she drowsed in her cradle. As Mama and Papa talked quietly by the fire, Mama often remarked at the smile on the babe's face of an evening.
Moondella, not knowing differently, accepted the tiny Humrunners as part of her ordinary world. Just another happy part of life.
When Moondella was carried to town so that Mama and Papa could see friends, and to buy and sell, one or two Humrunners zig and zagged along behind. Just to be satisfied she was safe, happy, and pleased. They were her friends. She, one of their beloved.
As Moondella grew from a babe to a small child, time and again the Humrunners shared her company. Sometimes when she sat in Mama's flower bed. Or as she wiggled her toes in the grass at the edge of the wheat field. They told her short tales of what they had seen. They brought her drops of honey in tiny pails. And so all was well.
One day when Moondella was almost five years old there came a late spring shower, making the whole world fresh, crisp, and clear. Moondella quietly stepped out the door of her home and walked off through the dell toward the rainbow, wishing only to touch it.
A Humrunner named Little Low, was just running over a hillside nearby and he saw as she walked too far away alone! He, quick and in a flash, ran after her. Trying hard to catch her eye. But he was so small, and she never looked down. And though he circled her round and round as fast as he could, to make his hum as loud as he had ever hummed, from the speed of his speedy feet, Moondella never saw him. And with the birds singing, and the still dripping drops from the trees, she did not hear her friend's desperate little sound. No, his humming was lost into the day.
With so much energy spent, and getting rather tired, Little Low soon could only follow along as Moondella walked farther and farther from home toward the ever retreating rainbow. And much too soon, she was out of the dell. But the farther Moondella walked, the higher the sun rose, and the dimmer the rainbow became. When Moondella stopped to look at a fat, fuzzy, green catapiller, she noticed when she looked up again that the rainbow was completely gone!
Moondella slowly turn all the way around in a circle searching the sky. Then she turned all the way around again, looking for home. But home had vanished as surely as the rainbow. She saw the boundary of the Barren Land only a few paces away. And so for the first time in her young life, Moondella was alone, and she was scared.
Seeing the fear in the child's eyes, and the tears beginning to flow down her cheeks, Little Low began to wring his tiny hands. He paced back and forth so fast he was barely more than a blurr. Back and forth he zipped and zipped wondering what he should do!
Moondella sat down, sobbing. She cried and cried, until finally she was spent. She then lay down under a lilac bush, and fell soundly asleep.
Little Low came near, and whispered into her ear, "Lay quiet and still. Do not stray from this spot. I will send help. I will bring big folk to your side." Then he told her to sleep as long as she wished. To dream sweetly and peacefully. Moondella sighed in her slumber and curled up.
So with a fleeting glance back, Little Low ran faster than he had ever ran before! The sound of his hum even noticed by rabbits and other small creatures for the first time.
Quickly, oh so quickly, he came to his own village. He shouted in excitement for all the Humrunners to gather round. He told the tale of Moondella, alone and exactly where she was sleeping under the lilac bush. Plans were laid in haste to help the beloved little wanderer. A brigade set out immediately carrying tiny pails of nectar, honey, and water. Another brigade left at once with bundles of bread. Mere crumbs to you and me, but whole loaves to the Humrunners.
So as Moondella slept, to and fro the Humrunners came and went. Quickly, quickly bringing food, and drink. Lining the pails up within her reach. Placing the bundles of bread close by. And always, always as they came and went, and came and went, one or two stayed near by to watch for her safety, and to notice as soon as a big folk could be spotted coming to find her.
The devoted little Humrunner, Little Low, who had alerted his village, was soon at Moondella's home in the dell. He knew he must find a way to tell these big folk where Moondella was!
When the home was in sight, he heard Mama calling and calling for Moondella as she ran from the chicken coop to the red barn, through the garden, to the brook, and back again. Tears shown on her face.
Then Papa came into view, and Little Low heard him say he had found no sign of the child. Mama broke down and wept bitter tears.
Papa took Mama by the arm and lead her through the door of the home. Moments later he came back outside and hurried in the direction of the town.
Little Low quick as a wink was inside the home. He found Mama lieing on the bed with her head on a pillow. Tears flowed like rivers from her closed eyes. Oh the sadness of it all! Little Low was so sad! This poor Mama must hear his small voice! Carefully and bravely, Little Low did what no Humrunner had ever done before! He crawled upon to the bed, more near than a Humrunner would dare go to a grown up big folk. No never in the long history of the Humrunners had anyone ever thought to approch a grown up big folk, or to speak to one! But brave Little Low denied his fear, and came close to Mam's ear.
"Please", he said. "I am small and all alone with you." The mama's eyes opened through her tears. She had heard the wee voice close by. It came as if from a childhood memory. She became very still.
"Please", Little Low repeated. "The child lays slumbering".
Mama turned her head oh so slowly and saw the Humrunner! And in a instant she remembered her own very young years. She knew this tiny messenger brought the truth, and would help her find her daughter!
"Where?" Mama whispered.
"On the very edge of the world. Safe under a lilac bush. But far too near to the Barren Land", Little Low said quickly, hands wringing again.
"Please show me", Mama whispered.
And so Mama gathered Little Low onto the palm of her hand, and followed as he pointed out the way to go. Then before the sun was low in the sky, Mama came upon the child, Moondella! She was sipping from tiny pails and eating tiny loaves, as a score of little Humrunners sang sweet songs to her, and danced to and fro. They had entertained her in this way, so she would not wander into the Barren Land to be lost, and to perish.
"Moondella!" Mama cried with joy as she ran toward her child. The singing and dancing stopped as tiny Humrunners scattered in all directions. Mama gently lowered Little Low to a rock before scooping up the child in her arms.
Moondella hugged Mama tightly as Mama kissed her cheeks over and over.
Finally Moondella said , "I want the pretty rainbow", and pointed toward the boundary of the Barren Land.
"What child?" Mama asked as she looked where the little girl pointed. And sure enough! She saw the colors of the rainbow bouncing from the ground.
Mama set Moondella on her feet, and slowly, cautiously they walked together to the place from where the rainbow came. Moondella reached down and picked up a piece of quartz, held it up to show Mama, just as a ray of sunshine struck the quartz again. The rainbow danced across both their faces, and across their clothes!
"May I keep the rainbow?" Moondella asked.
"Yes you may" said Mama with wonder. "But promise you will never walk away from home alone again".
"I promise Mama", Moondella said solemnly.
Little Low, watching and listening from the rock clasped his tiny hands under his small chin, tilted his little head to the side and smiled with much content.
And so Moondella, who was the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Rockcarver, the finder of the quartz, had found quartz of her own!
After these events, it came to be that at the time of the Feast of Remembering the whole village of the Humrunners was invited to attend. And every year after that as well! They had tales to tell also. And always the brave Little Low, who had followed Moondella, who sent his kinsmen to her side with food, drink, and entertainment, he who was was fleet of foot and tireless, and brave enough to be the first Humrunner ever to speak to a grown up big folk, was a guest of honor. He along with his whole family were always seated at a tiny table right on top of the table Moondella sat at.
From that time onward the big folk and the Humrunners shared joy, songs, life and tales in the Land of Bloom.