Thea was yearning for home. The fairy glen of her childhood called her in a voice she could not fail to answer.
It seemed like years since she was last there, but saw it with the same clarity every night in her dreams. Every breeze that gently moved the trees seemed to whisper her name and she was transported back to the day she watched the dragonflies dancing on the shallow stream. They had basked in the sun atop the smooth flat rocks and fascinated her with their hues of peacock blue, green and gold. Darts of colour flitting here and there across her vision.
To her innocent mind they were the folk of the fairy who lived in the mound nearby, come to take a human child, and Thea would gladly have gone, except her fairy tale books had spoken of children who ate and drank with the fair folk and hadn’t returned to their homes for long years, and Thea loved her mammy and da very much.
Each time she came, she left an offering of a little cake for the fairy folk. They liked that, she’d been told. Thea went to explore, clutching the sticky cake in her hand until she found a fairy ring to leave it in. It had become a ritual of her childhood, and even when Sean, her brother had teased her, she continued doing it.
One day she had wondered off a way from her family and become lost. It had taken her a long time to find a ring to leave her cake but she still left it for them even though she was hungry and tired herself. When Thea realised she was lost, she’d started to cry quietly. After a while, she opened her eyes and saw a lady coming towards her. The lady was little and dark and wore the most beautiful dress Thea had ever seen, it was made from lace, as fine as cobwebs and was all the colours of the forest. She took Thea’s hand gently and led her silently through the woods. The lady had little bells on chains around her ankles and they rang gently as she walked, making music among the trees.
When after a while they neared the edge of the woods and Thea could see the stream again, she hugged the lady tightly to thank her for helping and turned to run to her mammy and da so they could meet the lovely lady who brought her back, but when she looked behind her, the lady was gone.
For years afterwards when she visited the glen, Thea could hear the music of her bells if she listened hard enough.