II. The Shimmering Pool of Krie

By Katherine Rudolph

“Do you suppose that Kathy ever really went to see the landof Tooln, or did Ichabod just tell her about it?’’

Keith, Carol, and Connie had been swinging on the backyard rope-swing. Autumn leaves were blowing hither and thither, everywhere at once and nowhere in particular, as the sun slowly disappeared beyond the rooftops.

“I wish I knew, said Keith.” I can’t seem to get her to tell us a thing anymore. You know, she’s always playing with the big kids now But I think she must have really gone there; otherwise how could she have met King Kroleen, the King of ancient Tooln?”

“ Oh yes, and that was in the Mudlands, when Kroleen came to celebrate the planting of the Great Seed at New Year’s, 0001, in company of elves and gnomes”

“ Why yes, I remember now. But wait,”, said he, and stopped swinging. “I have an idea. Let’s go visit Miss Prune. She’s not dried up at all, although her face is withered and wise. Kathy used to spend hours with her under the crabapple tree, but now she has probably gotten to be too ‘grown-up’for that. Old Miss Prune knows a lot of strange stories. Some of them are sure to be about Ichabod.

So they ran, up the hill and around the bend, past the lily-pond to the big blue door of Miss Prune’s summer cottage. Carol could just reach the brass door-knocker by standing on tiptoe; but before she could rap, she heard a voice calling from under the crabapple tree. “Here we are children; come on down!”

Sure enough, in the shade of the crabapple tree sat Miss Prune, and Kathy. Miss Prune was rather too small to be called grown-up herself. She always wore a dress of light blue with white polka dots, and her white hair was done up in a knot. When she smiled, her grey-green eyes smiled too.

“Hello, hello,” she said, have a crab apple and sit down for a spell, yes, there on my yellow bench. What kind of adventures have you been having today?”

“ Oh, singing and swinging, and making up rhymes to the wind,” replied Carol shyly, “but we wished one wish.”

“ That was to know about the landof Toolnand if Kathy had ever actually visited there,” finished Keith.

“Well, answered Miss Prune, turning to Kathy, “have you?”

“Kathy was quiet. “I can’t remember any more, you know, it seems so very long ago now, though it has only been a year. Anyway, I’ve had other things on my mind lately…”

Keith and Carol looked at each other as if to say, “See, she is getting too old for Ichabod!” They knew she was changing schools, and was sorry to leave her best friend, Karen who was just a year younger.

“Well,” said Miss Prune, “sometimes, if you listen, the story itself will tell you. Let’s try and see.”

They all sat still and listened hard. Not a leaf rustled, not a bird cheeped. A buzzing bee came winding its way to them over the lawn, down to the shady tree where it circled ‘round and ‘round, then spiralled up to the highest branches. Perhaps it had just been waiting for them to listen.

“ Ah, yes,” mused Kathy, “I remember now. It was a day just like today, and I was sitting on the backyard fence, out where the mimosas grow. The field grass was waving, shining green and dun brown. Nearby were the bees, playing in the clover…. Suddenly one of them flew apart from the others and hovered above my nose. I knew that I must follow him.

He flew right down to the cool dark woods where the old brook bubbles and churns around mossy roots. Only a patch of sun shone here and there. The bee stopped still in mid-air, and I sat down nearby to muse and to listen, The voice of water’s flow seemed to chortle and rhyme, telling me of its pebbled path; and I said to myself, “If only I too could float along that bubbly path and go somewhere with the brook, maybe in a milk-pod boat with gossamer sails, like a Krienol on his way to Tooln!”

“…On his way to where?” said a small voice at my side.

“ Why, to Tooln,” I replied; “oh, it’s you, Ichabod. What a fine surprise. They did go there by watery routes, didn’t they?”

“ Watery? Why, yes; streams they rode underground through tunnel and cave to Tooln. Do you remember now?”

“ Remember? No I guess not”

“ By stars and sunbeams, you earth children certainly are forgetful!” But, of course you were there, in the main council chamber with all the white stones.”

“ Oh, that? You mean the round room where we sat, while the shimmering pool showed us all the flower stories? Keith was there too; oh, we both must have forgotten!

“That day we disappeared right into the mud; It seemed to pull us down deep ravines where water’s voice spoke slowly, half-asleep in the dark earth; then a tunnel led to a cave where all the ceiling was carved in white stone. White stone seats arranged around a pool of still deep water…. the shimmering pool of Krie, an entrance to the FairyTale Temple!…. Do you mean we were already in Tooln? But where were the Krienol’s?”

“What am I then, but the last Krienol left above ground? Yes, you were in a room of old Tooln. As I told you all the other Krienols have gone far deeper down under the earth; they’ve been away ever since the time of the great flood. Now there has been so much noisy digging around by you big folk, that the others may never return here. Yes, they have gone so deep that even I may not be able to find the way again. But then I chose not to go.”

“But, if you were to, maybe, visit, Ichabod, how far away would the pathway be? I would so like to visit; we would all like to go with you!” I spoke up quickly.

“Oh-ha, Ah-ho, not by measuring miles could I find my way home, but by feeling the way in my heart – the span from a wink to a smile!”said Ichabod. “Then I would know where to start, you see.”

“Before I could say how extraordinary it all would be,” said Kathy, “Ichabod had actually winked and disappeared – perhaps on his way to a smile!”

“ But now the Krienols must have a new homeland,” added Connie. “What do you suppose it is called? Each and every person, place or thing that they discover would certainly be given a special name, don’t you think?”

“Well I don’t know. The next time I met Ichabod, other adventures were at hand because of the Mustard Lady’s secret, you know. Maybe you all will learn how to go in your hearts from a wink to a smile! I don’t remember now how it was then.”

“ That is not for sure. How old do you think I am? But now our bee has buzzed on for today,” said Miss Prune. “Look, the sun is already setting. Don’t be late for dinner.”

The End for now