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Firebird

The firebird swirled and rolled in the sky. The sun glinted on its feathers of orange, red and gold. It landed by the side of a lake. When the magnificent coat was removed a beautiful young woman was revealed. She hung her coat of feathers on a bush and waded into the water. All the time eyes were watching her and admiring her beauty. Crouching behind the Buses was a solitary forester. He watched her as she swam and tossed and turned in the silvery water. Tint rivulets clung to the satin skin of her body and her moist lips kissed the water as she pushed her face against the soft ripples. The forester wanted her. He crept forward and took her coat. He ran into the trees, knelt down and buried the coat under a huge pile of leaves.

When he returned the young maiden was looking desperately for her coat. She was frightened when she saw him but he spoke softly and as she stood shivering he offered her his coat. She took it nervously and he continued to speak softly to her. He invited her back to his cabin. When she accepted he slowly led the way through the woods but he did not tell her then or later that he had hidden the coat. He did this not because he was wicked but because he was so desperately lonely. She was so wonderfully beautiful. And he was scared that he would lose her.

She stayed at his cabin and in time they grew to love each other and in time she forgot she had been a firebird, glittering and whirling in the wide blue sky. In time she bore the forester a son. He had golden hair that gleamed when the sunís rays touched it. The boy love to play in the woods and go for walks. As he grew older he walked longer and longer in the woods.

On his tenth birthday his father was still away in the great forest beyond the wood so he walked alone. He kicked up the leaves as he walked towards the lake. Sometimes he dived into the leaves that lay at the side of the path. He saw an enormous pile of leaves, dived and yes he found the coat of feathers. It still shone as if painted by the flames of a fire.

Excited he ran back to the cabin holding the coat in the air as he did so. When his mother saw the coat she began to remember that she had once been a firebird. That night she sat alone by the hearth, the coat on her lap. As the sun rose over the trees she put the coat on and soared into the air. She never returned.

Some say that from that day onwards the boy was struck by grief and that he never spoke again but others say that when the boy awoke he found three feathers on his pillow. They were red, orange and gold. The red one was the gift of courage, the orange the gift of kindness and the gold the gift of luck. The boy never wanted for any of these all his long life.