Eloise was out for her morning walk in the woods when she spotted what looked like a blue dragonfly flitting in front of her, then darting off, then flitting back toward her. She decided to try to follow the dragonfly and soon she was walking deeper and deeper into the woods, further than she had ever been. There were no trails in here, but the dragonfly seemed to know just the right way to go and Eloise followed along. After all, she didn’t have to go to work today and she wasn’t much interested in the chores that waited back at home and she was just in the mood for an adventure on this sunny crisp fall day.
And so she followed the blue dragonfly. Why not, she thought. She had no destination in mind. She just wanted to get out into the woods, and she was certainly doing that. In the back of her mind a thought popped up that she might get lost, but she quickly pushed that thought away and continued onward. It sure seemed as if the dragonfly wanted her to follow, and this was certainly more fun than doing laundry or cleaning the house. Eloise felt like a little girl again off chasing imaginary friends, and she decided that it felt really good.
She’d been following the dragonfly for about a half hour when she noticed a large fallen tree ahead, a tree with a hollowed out hole in it. She then noticed a couple squirrels darting frantically around the tree trunk, looking, if she didn’t think it was too impossible, very worried. The more adult part of her brain thought how can a squirrel look worried, but again she ignored that. She was on an adventure and she decided anything could happen. After all, the Winter Solstice was less than a month away. This was the most magical time of the year.
Eloise stepped forward toward the fallen tree and she was amazed to discover that the squirrels didn’t run from her. They looked up, saw her, and immediately began chattering. The blue dragonfly was hovering over them as well. Ah, thought Eloise, this is what the dragonfly wanted me to find, but what is going on.
All of a sudden Eloise realized that there were small creatures inside the hollowed out tree trunk. She was amazed. They looked like tiny tiny dolls but they were alive. What were they? Brownies, Pixies, Gnomes? She just wasn’t sure. But she bent down very carefully and all of a sudden she could hear voices. They were speaking to her, and she had to get closer and listen very hard to hear them as their voices were quite soft, at least to her aging ears.
“Help,” cried the woman nearest to her. The woman looked just like her grandmother had, but in miniature, thought Eloise, as she listened. “Help us please,” the woman continued. “My husband was trying to gather acorns and he fell. I think he has broken his leg.”
Eloise looked more closely and she saw an old man lying on a moss bed inside the tree hollow. He was obviously in a lot of pain. And Eloise soon noticed that his left leg was at a very strange angle and there was what looked like a toothpick but which had to be bone sticking out. Eloise didn’t know much first aid, but she realized this was indeed a very nasty break.
Suddenly the blue dragonfly was speaking to her. Eloise started as she realized that what she had been following, what she had taken to be a dragonfly was in fact a faerie. The faerie was speaking, “You must help him, please! None of us is strong enough to pull the leg so that the bone will slide back into place. We need your help.”
Eloise didn’t hesitate. “Of course I will help. We’ll need splints and bandages to fasten the leg once the bone is back in place.”
“We have everything in readiness,” said the faerie whose name was Lucinda. “We were so glad you decided to go for a walk today as poor Gerald has been in a lot of pain since he fell very early this morning and Rachel has been beside herself trying to figure out what to do. I told them that I’d followed you on your walks in the woods and that you seemed like a very good person. I do hope you can help.”
“Of course,” said Eloise in her most business like voice. “Let’s get to work. Do you have something that Gerald can bite down on when I pull? I’m afraid this is going to hurt a lot.”
“Yes,” Rachel said as she looked up from tending her husband. “I have an old maple branch I’ve cut down for him and I’ve also given him lots of his favorite whiskey to numb the pain.”
“Yes, that will help I’m sure,” said Eloise, hoping that he was good and drunk by now. “Ok, I can pull the leg myself,” as she realized that he was so small that she could easily hold his ankle in one hand and his waist in her other. “I just need you to be ready to splint and bandage it as soon as the bone snaps back into place. You will need to treat the wound and bandage it first and then apply the splints.”
“We are ready,” said Rachel. “My daughters well help me.”
All of a sudden Eloise realized that there were many more of these beings than she had at first realized. There is a small village here, she thought as she bent down to get into position. “Right, here goes,” she said as she took ahold of Gerald’s leg, being careful to apply firm stretching pressure without crushing him.
Thankfully the bone easily slipped back into place as Gerald let out a cry and then mercifully slipped into unconsciousness. Rachel and her daughters worked quickly and efficiently. They obviously knew much more about injuries than Eloise did. Eloise suspected that they would have found a way to get the bone back in even without her help, but she felt honored that Lucinda had trusted her enough to bring her here.
Soon Gerald was sleeping peacefully and his leg was properly bandaged and splinted. Rachel looked up at Eloise and thanked her for her assistance. “You made the job much easier and faster, and for that we thank you,” said Rachel. “Would you like some tea?”
Eloise would have loved to stay but she thought that probably the family wanted to rest after the morning’s excitement and she did have a long walk back home and then chores of her own, so she politely declined the invitation, noticing that Rachel looked relieved. “Maybe another time then,” said Rachel as Eloise got up to leave.
Eloise realized that she really didn’t know what direction to walk to get home. She was totally lost in a part of the forest she had never entered before. Lucinda called to her, “I will take you home now. Just follow me, but you must promise to keep our world secret.”
“I certainly will,” said Eloise, “as I wouldn’t want any harm to come to any of you. I doubt very much that any of the people I know would even believe me. I do hope you will allow me to return sometime for that cup of tea.”
Lucinda smiled. “You will always be welcome. Now, let’s get you home.”
Eloise mused as she walked back through the forest that she might be an old lady, but she was still game for an adventure.