Once it happened that in the dead cold grip of winter a young maiden tended to her failing grandfather, a cobbler no longer able to practice his trade due the long and hard fought victory blindness and its ally arthritis had won over him. Covered with scraps of leather, the grandfather huddled on the hearth close to the flickering flames of the weakening fire.
‘Hesper, are you near?’ asked the grandfather.
‘I’m right here,’ replied Hesper, shoving the last crust of bread into the grandfather’s twisted shaking fingers.
‘The skoonie,’ whispered the grandfather.
‘The what?’ said Hesper, wondering whatever in the world a skoonie could be.
‘Find the skoonie. Find the twisted tree on the well scarred meadow high on the forbidden mountain. Ask …’ mumbled the grandfather, and he fainted away.
Hesper rushed to press an ear to his heart and was rewarded with its steady beat. She stood up and stared all about the tiny cottage, looking for she knew not what, while the message ‘twisted tree, well scarred meadow’ repeated in her head. She took her hooded cloak from its peg, wrapped it around herself, and hurried out into the night.
She headed away from the village toward the forbidden mountain for the first time in her life. The bright light of a fat cold moon led her on. Tiny mist clouds of her own breath marked her steady ascent. Through long tree shadows on the thin blue crust of snow she went. Finally, the mountain forest opened on a scrubby meadow. Well scarred, thought Hesper. Orange dawn crept up the sky, and Hesper crept toward the lightning blasted tree in the most distant part of the meadow. The sky was morning blue when at last she reached the tree.
What should I do? What should I say? She nodded once and cleared her throat.
‘Oh, skoonie, won’t you help my grandfather to see again and heal his hands?’ she said.
She watched the tree tremble away to become a rising spire of dust disappearing in the sky. Hesper felt rooted and firm. Her lightning shattered trunk and her broken twisted limbs reached up and out in glory.
His youth, vigor, and eyesight restored, the grandfather moved to a new land and became a prosperous cobbler there.