“Shiny, shiny little flower,” sang a little child named Hannah, whose curly red ringlets shone in the sunshine. Her stomach rumbled. She had not had her porridge for breakfast. Her family was all out of food, as was most of Seaside Village. The villagers did not lock the doors of their houses, and instead all the villagers locked their gold in the village tower. Three nights before, a landslide had rumbled down the foothill, leaving a great mountain of earth blocking the villagers from getting to their gold.
The tower was made of smooth granite with seven foot-thick walls. The only way in now was one long, narrow window forty feet in the air. No one could climb the tower, although many young men and women of the village had tried all day. For three days and nights, all the villagers had worked to shift half the earth away from the door. Even Hannah had carried dirt in her pail. No one had had any time for fishing, and everyone in the village was exhausted and hungry. The tax collector was due the very next day.
The elders were meeting, and Hannah could hear a lot of shouting.
Hannah, even though not quite four, had a lot of wisdom, and she decided to put aside her sad feelings, and sing to her flowers. A beautiful patch of what her mother called black-eyed susans were blooming next to the harbor. She could see the masts of the fishing boats bobbing. She patted the heads of the susans, as she called them, singing and whispering her secrets.
The sun bloomed overhead, like the biggest susan of all, and warmed her. A light wind softly rustled little Hannah’s curls just like her father’s hand. She looked up and admired her father’s green dinghy tied to the dock.
She heard her mother’s voice, “If we don’t pay our taxes, the King will send his soldiers to seize our men for his army. My daughter will be without a father, and many of you will be without husbands!”
Next came the village chief’s voice: “We will never be able to shift all that rubble blocking the door before tomorrow even if we work all night. We must find another way!”
“Oh, my beautiful susans, if only I could fly through the air to that small tower window,” sighed little Hannah quietly, believing no one could hear her. “I would get our gold, and we could pay our taxes!”
A small voice squeaked, “a little girl like you wouldn’t be brave enough to fly!”
Hannah looked around, but she saw no one. “I would be brave for my daddy,” Hannah answered.
“Then we will fly,” returned the squeaky voice. The green dinghy of her father’s freed itself from its mooring rope and drifted slowly through the air toward Hannah.
“Who are you?” Hannah asked with wonder in her voice.
A small fairy buzzed up out of the black-eyed susans. She had black hair, a shiny yellow dress and sparkling hummingbird wings.
“My name is Susan-Sister. I heard you talking to me, and I decided to grant your wish. You wish well for a whole village, not just for yourself. You are of good heart. But once I grant your wish I will have to move on to a new home far away, that is the rule,” sighed Susan-Sister as she danced on the breeze. “I will be sad to leave my little susans,” she said and patted the flowers just as Hannah had. “Climb in, you’ll be safe,” she said as the boat drifted up to the flowers.
Hannah climbed into her daddy’s floating dinghy, and Susan-Sister buzzed beside her. She held the sides very tightly. At the tower window, she scrambled through and picked up a bag of gold. She needed both hands, it was much heavier than she expected. She heaved it out the window, and dropped it into the boat with a clang. She clambered aboard, and shouted “Cast off!” just as she always heard her father yell in the early mornings. She gave a giggle, and started to enjoy herself.
The shout brought the villagers boiling out of the village hall in time to see Hannah riding down from the high window like a fairy princess herself with her magical boat and Susan-Sister shining by her side.
“Hannah! How did you get up there?” called her mother.
“Hannah, come down here!” called her father. The boat set Hannah down gently.
“Hannah has saved Seaside!” Susan-Sister called out in her high, clear voice. Many villagers gasped. “Good-bye now!” Susan-Sister was gone between one heartbeat and the next.
“We all share your luck!” joyfully called the village chief, who Hannah called Mother Meg. “It’s lucky to see one of the garden folk!” Hannah grinned from ear to ear, and picked up the bag with both hands for all to see.
“She has the gold!!” The villagers carried Hannah around the village. They paid their taxes and had enough left over to buy food. The fisherfolk went back to fishing. Slowly over the next year, they shifted the remaining earth away from the tower. As they did, they got in the habit of calling the tower, the bank, for the thick bank of earth that had settled in front of the door. Slowly and with the effort of all the villagers, the village was restored to prosperity.
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham