The Major walked to center stage and looking at his audience, more people than he would have imagined, his gaze fell on the eleven extraordinary people in the front row unconsciously bowing to them before he began.
In a voice with more bravado than uncertainty “Good afternoon all, I am Stephen P. Quickstep, simple teller of tales, at your service.” Well, I’m off to a start if not a good one, he thought.
Lowering his head he brought his right hand up to his chin, as if to stroke a beard or lost in thought. Then in a wink, lifting his eyes to the gathering, “Do you believe Faeries, Pixies and Elves, you know the Dawn Folk?” Before anyone could answer, with a wave of his hand as if brushing them aside, “No matter, most of the Dawn Folk that I have encountered don’t believe in people, they know we’re just tales they tell their children at night.” Some of the audience chuckled.
“This story began with a knock on my door, a rather loud knock. Expecting a person of considerable size to be calling, using the standard inverse ratio of sound to height…this sounded something like a battering ram) you can understand my surprise when before me was a very small man (with solid knuckles). He stood about”…the Major stopped from indicating with his hand the height of his visitor; and drew on a more tangible reference.., “not much taller than the door knob. The hair on his head and the hair of his beard were the color of flames and seemed to give off heat when you got too close to him. His clothes seemed out of place, if not out of time. But it was his smile that my eyes were drawn to first and in all the time that we would be together, that smile never faded, not for a moment.”
“It was in November that Charly (that was his I name I came to find out) came to visit. Had it been December, I would have thought that Santa had sent a messenger, by way of an elf; but this message wasn’t from Santa.” The Major stood as if talking to someone on his right, he turned his head back to the listeners
“‘Stephen…’ Charly said.
“You know my name?’
…of course, Stephen P. (and I know about your grandfather’s quip) Quickstep.’
“How could you know about the P? No one knows about the P? I said in disbelief.
“‘Please, knowing names is easy…comes natural, but I know some things that you NEED to know…to set the record straight, as it were. Histories…real ancient histories, histories that go so far back that they’re remembered only by the sun and the sea.’
“The sun and the sea you say…like in an adventure. I was skeptical.
“‘Yup, you could say an adventure; but do you have the courage to go on that adventure?’ Charly waited a moment, ‘I got me a simple test of courage, right here.’ He reached into the outside right pocket of his forest green coat and pulled out a twig, a little twig with four small leaves clinging tightly to it.” The Major squatted low and placed his hand in his pocket and slowly removed it holding a twig that was only seen in the mind’s eye.
“That’s your test, your test of courage?
“How does that work, this test, the twig will shiver and point at me if I’m worthy?
“‘Nope.’ He said as he bent over and placed the twig on the threshold of my front door, with his hand still on the twig, he looked up at me and said, ‘You’ll have to jump over the twig. With your eyes closed. Hands behind your back! If you’ve the courage.’
“I quickly calculated my chance for serious bodily injury, they were close to nil. I closed my eyes put my hands behind my back and jumped.”