In any case, the Elder Princess picked us all up and we spent several long, rattling days traveling to the home of the healer. We three companions tumbled, jostled, and climbed over each other for hours on end each day in the dark, unlined basket, exclaiming over our hurts. My basket companions and I quietly whispered, softly as a sigh, over how we could get the Elder Princess to take more care with our fragile forms. We argued and asserted our own ideas endlessly, taking so long in this endeavor that we arrived at the cottage of the Old Woman before we fully had a plan devised.
With heart-swelling joy, we saw that we had finally arrived at the home of our much sought after healer. My companions and I were so excited we crawled our way to the sharp edges of the basket to peak out at the proceedings. The Elder Princess, in her usual state of uncertainty, hesitated to knock on the oak door, with its elaborate carvings of the forest and the animals that thrived within its sheltering confines. She gazed upon the door with uncertainty, a strange look of emptiness appearing there, and I felt a quiver of apprehension race through my injured tail. I wondered if it was the carving that frightened her, or was it the turn our adventure was going to take next that confused her.
“Do you think she’ll lose her nerve, and run away, before knocking on the door?” I asked my companions.
“She just might,” said the toad while the cockroach simply wound its head in a circle, giving no direct answer.
We were in a panic because we all needed to feel the healing ministrations of the Old Woman within the cottage. We had travelled, with no amount of comfort, to see the Old Woman and now the princess, plagued by doubts, was busy trying to decide whether she was making a mistake by coming to the Old Woman. I looked up at the inky midnight sky, cogitating on what it would take to get the Elder Princess to knock on the door. I then watched her, thoughts and emotions racing across the exquisitely befuddled face of our royal caretaker.
Oh! Finally, I saw her arm shoot out and give a staccato knock on the door. Bang, bang, bang, and there was the Old Woman, our kindly healer, staring at the troupe presented before her. I saw the elderly woman, white of hair with her timeworn face, greeting us with friendship. I also noticed her hands, precise and spindly, prepared for surgery or for giving soft cuddles to the injured. They were able hands, with pink, firm palms and thinly long fingers. These were the hands of a healer, and I rejoiced quietly that my hurt would soon end, and my tail would finally mend.
I studied her head next, noting the hoary but silken hair trailing down her back in a twist, the emerald eyes that matched the green of the forest encompassing the cottage, and the scar upon her right ear. This scar, long healed, and fading with time, matched the incision-like cut that the princess had endured when she ran through a thicket of thorns during our travels. The ancient hurt on the Old Woman had only just begun to heal on the Elder Princess, and I knew this was a magical place; whimsically exchanging time but also cleverly weaving moments together.
Then, before the Elder Princess could faint away completely from hunger, the Old Woman shepherded the Elder Princess into the dimly lit cottage, where countless eyes welcomed us.