They continued to walk along the path and then onto the worn trail that led away from the hills and between the tall firs. Gray Neckties reached into his pocket and pulled out a white lump of sugar. “Do you think William Shakespeare might like this?” he asked, showing Opal the sugar. “I had an extra, just in case I made a new friend.”
“Oh, yes,” she said, taking it from his hand, “this will give him well feels all through the night. Thank you,” she said, and held the cube up to the horse’s gray muzzle. He sniffed it and plucked it from Opal’s hand with a soft nicker. You’re welcome,” Opal said. “Dear William Shakespeare has appreciations for your kindness,” she said to the man. “It will make the bad feels go away.”
“Does William Shakespeare have bad feels today?” Gray Neckties asked.
“Only on somedays, you know, but yes, today,” Opal said, her face clouding over. “This day he is tired and, because he was slow pulling the logs, the Choreboy laid that big whip to his back. Oh, look, there’s William Wordsworth,” she said pointing to a great oak tree beside the lane. “And Theodore Roosevelt, did you remember your prayers this morning?” she asked, as she handed the man the lead rope and walked up to a giant fir a few feet from William Wordsworth. She patted his trunk and turned back to the man and whispered. “Theodore will forget to say his prayers unless I remind him every day,” she said. “But still, he has a good heart.”
“Indeed,” Gray Neckties said, handing the rope back to Opal. “I can see that, yes.”
Opal skipped along the forest floor and stopped in front of a great old log, stretched across a small clearing about thirty feet behind Theodore Roosevelt. She put her fingers to her lips and looked around to make sure they weren’t being watched, then tiptoed to the hollowed end of the fallen tree. She motioned Gray Neckties to come near, then knelt down and reached inside the log. She pulled out a simple box covered with short green tendrils of lichen. “This,” she whispered, “is the moss-box where I put all my very special secrets.”
“I’m honored, Princess. Is it a magical box?” Gray Neckties asked.
“It does hold magical things, and the fairies do come to visit and sometimes bring things.”
“How do they know what to bring?”
“I leave them prints. On leaves. I tell them what I do have needs for – like colored pencils. Do you believe in fairies?”
“Of course. Who doesn’t?” he asked.
“The Mama,” Opal said, and put the moss-box back in the log.