Once upon a time there were a brother and sister of exceptional talents who lived in the woods all alone with their father.  Their father was also a man of exceptional talent, but the children did not know that.  They only knew that he worked hard to make sure they had food and to keep them safe from danger and to teach them to use their talents wisely.  He was their whole world, and it was a happy world.

Then one day he disappeared, and their world was forced to get much bigger.

It did not take long for them to see signs of struggle and to realize that it had not been their father’s idea to leave them alone.  It took only a little longer to pack two small bags and sling them on their backs and find the correct direction to follow.  That last part was not difficult.  There were no footprints to be seen, but a very clear trail was left.  Starting at the edge of the small yard, birds had gathered.  They were hopping about on the ground and in the trees, twittering to each other in a happy way.  A bit past that,  a fox was lying, ignoring the delicious birds and rolling in the grass.  Down through the trees in a continuous line were animals of all shapes and sizes all apparently happy, all come to sniff or play or take a nap along the trail, drawn as if to a stream of water.  The children were amazed.  They knew their father had a way with animals and that they often came to him while he was working in the forest, but they had never seen anything like this.  They began to realize that their father’s talents were much beyond anything they had suspected.

They followed the living trail all day, and when night came they were far from home.  On and on stretched the trail in the distance, and they knew the journey would not be short.  They did not feel tired or sore.  They did not want to rest.  They felt worried and afraid.  They wanted to be at home and safe with their father again.  They decided to keep walking.  It was a dark night.  The stars seemed cold and far away.  Animals that seemed harmless and even friendly by day now seemed strange and even menacing.  They held onto each others’ hands and kept walking.

At last they came to end of the forest.  One last lone tree stood ahead and then a flat, stony ground stretched out in the distance.  They could see a few birds fluttering here and there, but the trail was much less clear now.  There must not have been many animals in that part of the world.  The children paused, not sure what to do, afraid to step out into that exposed, unknown world.

“If only we had more light,” the sister said to her brother.

He nodded, thinking of the cozy fire at home, and lamps, and candles, and the lovely paper lanterns their father had once made for them.  He had an idea.  He did not know if it would work, but there is really no point in having exceptional talents if you will not try to use them.  He walked toward the last lone tree spreading its branches before them.  Putting his hands on its rough, gnarled bark, he began to tell a story.  He told the story so quietly that his sister could not hear the words, but she understood.  The story was not for her.  It was for the tree.  She watches as the tree began to sway and the leaves shivered with happiness.  She watched as a small bud formed on the central branch of the tree and grew and grew until it was fat and round and looked ready to burst into bloom at the first touch of sunlight.  Then she knew what she needed to do.

She began to sing, and as she sang, the tree began to glow.  Starting with the branches nearest her, the glow spread up and up until it lit up the bulb, still quivering with life at the center of the tree.  She shifted the song, and the glow concentrated itself right there.  Now the bud was absorbing all the light from the rest of the tree, burning now with a orange light that cast pretty leafy shadows on the ground.  Gently, gently, she finished her song, never taking her eyes off the glowing ball.  In the silence that followed, she heard her brother murmer a few last words.  He stepped away from the tree.

For a moment the ball just hung there, like a glowing lantern hung right in the middle of the tree.  Then, with a soft plick, the light floated up through the branches and came to hover in the air over their heads.  In the light of the glowing ball, they could see the trail perfectly again, now marked more with small rodents and insects and a few ground birds than with the larger animals they had seen before.

Holding hands again, the brother and sister walked forward in the light that they had made.

It will not surprise you to learn that with the ability to move both day and night, they soon caught up with their father, and with the evil men who had taken them.  It will also not surprise you that three people with such exceptional talents were able to fight their way free and make their way home again safely.  What might surprise you, what certainly surprised them, was that the glowing globe they had made to light their way on one dark night continued to light the way for all the nights after.  Night after night it could be seen in the sky, rising higher and higher, sharing its light with more and more people, until finally it came to rest among the stars and be seen by all the people on earth and give comfort and light where none had seemed possible before.

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