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Carmen-Andreea Pridie, Stories for children, Group II

Carmen-Andreea Pridie participates in the “Stories for children” section of the International Literary Creation Competition, 4th edition, from Bucharest, Romania. Carmen-Andreea is 17 years old. She is guided by professor Sorin Mărgărit. We thank her for her participation and wish her success.

                                                                                                    Sky without jewels

	Once upon a time, before the sky was flooding the earth with rain and before the birds flied to other territories, terrified by the cold winter, there was a courageous young thief, well-known and well-searched. He was wanted, dead or alive, by the royal guards because after taking away lots of jewelry and gemstones, he had done the most outrageous act in the history of stolen goods: he had stolen the reading glasses right of the nose of the sleeping king!

He was hunted through the whole kingdom for hundreds of days, but he was never giving up, never lowering his head, always running away for the sake of his freedom. 

One night, when the chase took place in a huge forest, the guardians rushed to make a circle around him. The young man, confident and with both of his feet firmly on the ground, saw a tree in front of him, which appeared to be so enormous, that the tree crown fully disappeared in the layer of the clouds above. He began climbing without hesitation and disappeared in the thick layer of clouds, leaving his followers forever behind. 

The guards couldn’t follow him, for the trunk of the tree was big like three manors put together and so smooth, that no man could ever be able to climb it except the dexterous young thief. Ranting and swearing about their unsuccess, they left ten men around the base of the tree and hoped for the escaped to return as soon as possible. 

But the thief climbed day and night, holding onto limbs, branches and knots, breaking them, so that nobody could follow him and only surrounded by the white lumps of clouds. The trunk never seemed to end. He climbed past the highest mountain and winds, until the ninety ninth day, when he reached the top, tired and exhausted. He had climbed the highest tree on earth. There, he could see himself over a sea of milky clouds, and the sun welcoming him with his warm golden hands, but he discovered his terrible mistake: He couldn’t climb back down, for he had broken most of the branches, and he was lonely, on top of the world.

Gloomy, the thief sat on a branch, ate the fruits of the tree and drank the drops of rain. He admired the lavender sky, the white sea, but also understood that he couldn’t admire the stars anymore as much as he used to, because they were far, far underneath him. He had trapped himself up there, seeing a sky without stars, out of foolishness and vanity.  

Time passed and one day boredom built a way through the mind of the young man. Jokingly, he took out the reading glasses stolen from his Royal Highness and put them before his eyes. Suddenly, his sight could break through the dense clouds and he could see every single little living thing out there: the bizarre, magical glasses were showing him children playing on the fields underneath him, women washing the dishes through the windows of the houses, the guards underneath him playing with their boots in the mud and even the king himself, in his royal dormitory, narrowing his eyes in order to be able to read without his dear missing glasses! But, as a punishment for his acts, his beloved stars remained the only ones hidden to his eyes, and his heart filled itself with grief. 

Looking every day through the magical reading glasses, he also noticed near the royal palace a farm on a yellow field, where three poor sisters were living a harsh life with their father. The barbarous man was beating them every night with his cane, drinking away all of their money with carelessness. While the older ones were trying to ease him with whispering voices and soft words, the youngest was the only one to confront him and roar like a lioness, with fury and toughness, resisting against the violence. 

The thief was laughing, recognizing his own temper in the young woman, whom he was watching all day feeding the gooses in front of the little farm. But one evening, after another cruelty of their father, she fell on her knees, full of mud and sweat, between her birds and began crying bitterly. The thief heard her weeping and, full of mercy and admiration, took one of his precious stolen diamonds from his pockets, thought for a bit, then threw it from the giddy heights right into the lap of the desperate young sister.

When she opened her eyes and saw the shining jewel, the young woman, surprised, held the stone tight to her chest, gave it a kiss and thanked the sky. She ran to the market, sold the gemstone and bought socks and warm coats for her sisters, all joyful and merry. 

Now, every time the courageous thief would see her in despair, he would take out another precious stone and drop it in front of her feet. But he didn’t stop there: he also began giving out his stolen goods to the poor people of the country, throwing them one by one, on their lap, in their hands, in their garden and soon enough his little diamonds were falling so often, that poor people’s lives were eased for a moment. 

One night, the solitude above the clouds made him sing. The melody was so sweet and powerful, that the clouds pitied him and made a hole right above the little farm of the poor girl, were she, standing at the window and admiring the land, could see the mysterious gems falling all over the land and bringing joy to people. When she went outside to admire the view better, she thought to see a little diamond falling right above her head. As she reached out her hand, she realized soon enough that the shining thing was not a diamond, but a tear drop, and it plopped agonizingly into her palm, warming her skin. The thief was crying. 

Right then, she heard through the clouds his beautiful melody, his verses about his stealing, his vanity, his mistakes and understood that the living being who had been the most generous to her, was a thief from above, whose biggest sorrow was his inability to admire the stars. 

Contemplating for some time about his suffering, the girl took a roll of paper and folded it gently into the form of a big bird, went out of the house and woke up her sleepy gooses. Knowing that her beloved birds were not so smart and would mistake the big paper goose for one of their fellows, she took a few steps back, sent up a little prayer and threw it strooongly into the depths of the sky! The gooses, thinking it was their leader, flied right after it, higher and higher and higher with their strong wings, bursting through the dense clouds and flying right over the melancholic thief! Watching them fly over his head, looking like white little dots on the deep-blue sky, the lonely thief began crying with joy, for he had the impression for a moment, that he was admiring the star-covered sky again. 

From that moment on, every night, the young woman would throw her paper birds in the air for her thief and the gooses would go up! up! right above the top of the enormous tree where he, wishing for freedom, had imprisoned himself forever. The gooses began wandering to other territories when feeling it was getting too cold and soon enough, other colorful birds commenced the same journey. Thus, the poor young man could admire a white starry night, a yellow starry night, even a multicolored one! for the rest of his life, through the kindness of a simple girl, that has seen a soul reaching for the stars, behind the image of a hunted thief.