Once upon a time…there was a girl named Ashling. She lived in the countryside with her parents, both of whom she adored. One day, as her father toiled in his fields sowing the food that would last all winter, Ashling’s mother called her into the kitchen, which smelled of a delectable soup simmering on the kitchen stove. Her mother stirred the pot, and said to her, “Child, though your father is dreadfully ill. He would not want me to tell you this, but if you do not find a cure, his heart will break and he will die.”
The child replied, “What is wrong with him, mother? How can I cure him if I don’t know what he needs? Where would I go? And why don’t you go? You know more about it than I do.”
Her mother replied, “The illness is mystifying. His pain manifests itself infrequently, and I must stay with him. An oracle foretold that his healing must come from his child. Go now!” Needless to say, our heroine was daunted by this task. She looked around her room in a futile search for some semblance of a clue as to how she might begin. Soon, day became night, and the child cried as she wondered what the future held. She could not bear to lose her father, not could she endure the lines she saw forming around her mother’s eyes as she fretted about him. Alas, for all she pondered it, she did not know how to take the first step.
As she gazed out her bedroom window, she heard a tinkle of bells. She turned her head and saw a little black field mouse sitting on her windowsill. She screamed. It was not the sight of a small mouse, however, that frightened her. It was the sound of the bells that shocked her. She craned her neck toward her window and moved slowly toward the mouse, trying hard not to scare the little creature away. “Hello little guy. Where did you come from?” she whispered. She reached her hand out to touch the mouse, when suddenly, with another ringing of bells, the mouse sprang into action, leapt out of the window and disappeared…