Inspired by an old Grimms tale called Star Money.
© Andreas Kornevall There was once a girl and she was very poor, and both of her parents had died. The only possessions she owned were a loaf of bread that some charitable soul had given to her, and the clothes that she wore. At least she had a hood to protect her from the coldest wind. But she was a brave girl, and she decided to take to the open country to follow an unknown trail that led towards the West. As she was walking along she passed many farmsteads, and finally she chanced upon the outskirts of a village. She passed a small child who said to her: “Please, please - I am so hungry! Please give me your bread; I haven’t eaten for three days.” The little girl gave the child her bread, and continued on down the road. As the wind blew across the land, and not before long, she met an old man. He was frail and his walking stick was crooked. He looked into her eyes and pleaded: “I am very cold! Could I please borrow your hood so I can get home safely to the village, because this northern wind will have the last of me?” (He thought she lived in a farm nearby.) “Of course you can,” the girl said, happily. She wandered into a forest and there she slept and the wind swirled around her. She awoke surrounded by the morning dew, which gave her some nourishment. That morning as she continued on her journey, a wide valley opened up before her and she saw smoke drifting in the far distance. It was getting dark before she reached the homestead. She wondered if someone there might give her some food. As she approached the farm, a thin woman opened the door, and she saw that the family living there had all been taken ill. The mother asked if the girl could lend her thick coat to her daughter. The girl could see that the child needed her coat. The mother too needed clothing so that she could look after her child. She gave both her coat and shirt away without second thoughts. She said to herself: “I can give my shirt, because no one can see me in the dark.” And so they took her clothing and left her outside. Then she wandered further into the wooded valley and she understood in her heart that she might not survive the night. Fear gripped her. She discovered an old oak tree which was hollow inside; it gave her some comfort and she sat there patiently. The combination of fear and cold left her shaking. It seemed that the world had forsaken and forgotten about her. In the middle of the night, she looked at the stars through the cracks of the trunk; she looked at the pearly dust of the Milky Way: the wind had subsided and it was a clear night. As she was sitting there, she thought of the people she had helped: the young hungry child, the frail old man and the family struck by illness, it gave her some comfort. Then she caught glimpses of shooting stars everywhere. First there were just a few, and then they fell in the hundreds, then in the thousands; it was a Milky Way firework; the whole universe was dancing above her and creating a spectacle. She walked out of the hollow tree to praise the sight. She had forgotten about her perilous condition and she just smiled at the wonder of it all. Once she was outside, an enchantment caught her: a spell had been whispered. She found herself wearing a thick and soft embroidered coat. She had a new pair of boots which were made with strong, but yet soft leather, and with fur inside. She looked around her in astonishment and disbelief, but there was only the old oak tree and the mute silence of the forest before dawn. As well as the clothing, there were glimmering golden lights shining inside the tree hollow, and when she looked closer, she saw that they were gold coins, too many to count. She slept under the oak tree that night in comfort and she was deeply grateful for all that she had been given. She would have wealth for the rest of her days, and all those who ever met this girl were rewarded with great abundance for as long as they lived. Many say that she is still walking and helping those in need; others say she passed beyond the western sea. Since that night, a new gold coin would appear whenever there was a shooting star in the sky where she first lain that night, long ago.