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Oct 2019
In the the Forest of Time and Whispers there grew a wondrous tree hidden among all other trees and here and there were caves and odd rock formations . Old and bearded-gray this tree had survived ten thousand summers.  Nothing very much happened until one particular day.  Somewhere deep beneath the ground tunneling upward was a little worm.  Not an everyday worm but a worm consumed with the desire to learn as much knowledge as possible and to put that knowledge to good use.

Was it accident that he rose above ground where the wise tree's roots were being chomped by carpenter ants whose aim it was to bore through and take down the tree and the entire forest if it stood it their way?  Now our little worm had once lived in a castle and had been blessed to see the most wondrous of all things, BOOKS.  Books were rare, and only the very rich could possess them.  He wasn't sure how he learned to read, he only knew that he could and when volumes were left open, he memorized them line by line.  Once he was reading when the Princess Beatrice came in.  Not wanting to be caught he tried to hide, but to his consternation she saw him and worried that this worm might eat or ruin the parchment pages.  So after countless years of study he was thown out the window by a servant, landing somewhere on the side of the moat outside the castle walls.  How sad the little book worm was. But it seems he was destined for something more important.  Upon seeing the ants attacking the old roots of the tree he searched around and found a Maple tree. Begging in his biggest worm voice, he asked for a little maple sugar on a fallen leaf.  "Why should I," asked the Maple?   The worm explained that carpenter ants were particularly found of sweets and loved honey and syrup best of all, and if he could spare a bit, he might be able to save the old tree, in fact he might save all the trees and the animals and birds who lived among them.

He had a plan if he could just obtain the needed ingredients.  He would make a glue and swipe it across some fallen leaves and then coat them with a bit of maple sugar.  The ants wouldn't be able to resist it and they would become stuck to the leaves and the tree would be saved. So the Maple agreed and the worm worked all night hoping he remembered the recipe correctly.  With the help of some birds, and a rabbit all was put in place.  Soon the ants swarmed to the old tree ready to bore his roots which would have been disasterous, when suddenly they discovered something too wonderful to resist.  The scent of that maple sugar was like manna from heaven and quickly they all found their way to the coated leaves and became stuck fast.  Unable to move the entire swarm was imprisoned and soon died or were eaten by critters or birds.  The tree bent it's limbs and thankfully caressed the little worm imparting whispered secrets never before heard.  A bound of undying friendship was made that day in forest of yore.  Only the very fortunate were allowed to hear their varied conversations, or strategic moves.  The worm gave the tree something he didn't have previously, flexibility and a true conversationalist and an avid debater and a binding friendship was struck.  The tree bloomed over night and his beard was no longer gray but black, as if he had regained his youth.  Some say it was the fruit of knowledge he bore, others say apples but with a delicious flair having a taste of something totally enchanting and spicy.  The worm too changed, becoming very learned, and he too grew to larger proportions and sprouted limbs, arms and hands and even legs and he had a very professor like voice.

The forest flourished and soon there were villagers who swore by the worm's remedies.  Soon word spread, of the miracles that had taken place there deep in the forest.  The princess Beatrice was so saddened by the illness of her father that she grasped at any straw.  Un-chaperoned she ventured out in the guise of a lowly servant to see if the stories were true.  How she prayed it was so and that there was a cure that could save him.  The birds were the first to see her, and not even her poor disguise could hide her beauty, so they guided her gently over fallen logs and around bogs, to the sacred place in the hollow. There she spied a very scholarly worm, sitting cross legged on the root of a magnificent tree, deep in conversation.  She bowed downed before them and begged for their help, all pride forgotten in hope of saving her father the King.  The worm recognized her instantly, but she didn't recognize him, for he had grown in stature and wisdom and possessed a very scholarly demeanor.  But the worm was kind, as was the tree, for friendship had softened their hearts.  The worm listened to her tale of woe and then there was a great discussion.  An elixir was recommended and love and patience too.  The worm offered to return with her to the castle so he could see her father and make further recommendations.  It was in the castle, watching the worm turn the pages of a multitude of books that Beatrice remembered who he was and felt her spirits drop at her own cruelty.  But the worm was kind and in a few weeks her father was returned to health.  They wanted to make him chief physician of the land a very notable post, but the worm missed his friend and wanted to go back to his home in the forest.

And so it was that the forest was then put under the protection of the King and all his heirs and theirs, and theirs of generations that followed.  The kingdom thrived with the knowledge of two, one of books and one of secrets no one knew, and they lived some say they still do, deep in the shadowy heart of the forest.
patty m
Written by
patty m  ether
         Eloisa, G Alan Johnson, B, Fawn, M-E and 10 others
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