My mother is a worrier. She doesn’t think that anything could possibly become of me. I am so little. But I know what I’m meant to be. And I know how to get around. Of course I don’t use my own feet. I use the horse’s feet. I get up under the saddle and prick the horse with a pin. I’ve learned how to steer with pinches and pricks. It is no problem for me. I can even ride on the back of a bird. I just tie a silk cord around the joint of its wings.
It has become clear to me that my mother is mostly worried about money. Now that I am twenty, it is time to say farewell. I tell my parents that I am going to set out into the world. When I become rich, I will return.
They laugh. They don’t believe me.
In the evening, I creep up onto the roof and tie a cord around the joint of a stork’s wing. In the morning, the storks are leaving to nest in their home country. As I snuggle into its soft, downy, feathers, I think about what a great flight it is going to be.
Hazelnut Child in The Hazelnut Child, Yellow Fairy Book. Illustration by Cicely Mary Barker.