El Wolpertinger y el Duende

Érase una vez, un Wolpertinger que vivía en los bosques de Baviera, cerca de Taubensee. El Wolpertinger estaba encogido al lado de un pequeño abeto, llorando. Entonces un duende que pasaba por allí le preguntó por qué lloraba. El Wolpertinger le dijo que estaba triste porque era su cumpleaños y estaba lloviendo.

‘No me gusta cumplir años en invierno. Todo está muy triste y de color marrón o blanco.’ dijo el Wolpertinger, moviendo su nariz rosada y bajando con tristeza su cabeza astada.

Entonces para animarlo el duende le señaló el arcoíris que acababa de salir.

‘Ten en cuenta ‘, dijo con voz chillona, ‘que para que salga el arcoíris primero tiene que llover. ¿No te parece un espectáculo de lo más hermoso? ‘

‘Vale sí, es verdad.’ dijo el Wolpertinger, admirando el arcoíris, que trazaba una curva completa sobre el bosque y además era doble.

El Wolpertinger se secó las lágrimas en el abeto, en donde se quedaron brillando. Sin embargo, seguía teniendo un aire tristón, por lo que el duende se sentó a su lado en una roca y le dijo:

‘¿Sabías que si sumas todas las cifras del número de años que cumples, el número que obtengas es mágico? Dime, ¿cuántos años cumples?’

‘No te lo digo.’ dijo el Wolpertinger, repentinamente tímido y huraño.

El duende suspiró, se bajó de su roca y se acercó al arcoíris. Pasó sus manitas por ambos arcos, y volvió con el Wolpertinger llevando consigo catorce velitas de colores.

‘Toma. Pon esto en tu pastel de cumpleaños, enciéndelas y antes de soplarlas, pide un deseo por cada una de ellas. Te aseguro que se cumplirán, porque es tu cumpleaños y además ésta es una época muy especial, en la que el viejo Yule regresa al mundo. Esto hace, pues, que este día sea algo extraordinario.  Además, nunca olvides que todos los cumpleaños son siempre motivo de esperanza e ilusión.’

El Wolpertinger contó las velas y, asombrado, le preguntó al duende:

‘¿Cómo lo has sabido?’

A lo que el duende respondió:

‘Tu mirada te delata. Tus ojos son los ojos de la sabiduría.’

El Wolpertinger se puso muy contento y abrazó al duende, con patas y alas. Entonces le hizo una última pregunta:

‘Gracias, amigo. Me sentiría muy honrado si festejases conmigo mi cumpleaños. Pero dime, ¿No te doy miedo?’, dijo, con una sonrisilla en la que se entreveían sus colmillos.

Y el duende respondió:

‘No sé de qué me hablas. Yo sólo veo un lindo conejo.’

Y el Wolpertinger celebró su cumpleaños con el duende, con una gran tarta, las velas de colores y muchas luces, al lado del abeto que centelleaba, alegrándoles la vista a ellos y a todo el bosque. Se acercaba la Navidad.

{AVANCE}

¿Qué chica no sueña con ser princesa? Levantarse un día de la cama y descubrir que en un suntuoso palacio la esperan a una, para cubrirla de finas galas y coronar el atuendo con una deslumbrante tiara de diamantes.

Bueno, lo de casi todas es fantasía pura, que se evapora más o menos con la edad. Mas, yo sí conocí a una princesa perdida que vivió el sueño, y os puedo asegurar, que lo interesante es lo que hizo después de despertar.

{Texto completo próximamente }

Un encuentro inusual

Hace poco encontré un singular relato en un diario de mi tía bisabuela Elisa. El hallazgo del diario en sí ya fue extraordinario, pues estaba oculto en una caja de secretos entre sus pertenencias casi olvidadas, cuyo cierre sólo yo acerté a abrir. El truco estaba en presionar suavemente los laterales de la caja y a la vez soltar el pestillo casi invisible de la tapa.

Mi tía bisabuela Elisa siempre ha sido una figura legendaria en la familia. Una joven que a los dieciocho años se fugó de casa y desapareció sin dejar rastro, para reaparecer años después al otro lado del mundo como una reconocida escritora de cuentos para niños.

El por qué se fue así, nunca estuvo claro, aunque nunca faltaron rumores acerca de un matrimonio de conveniencia del que cualquiera habría huido. Esto era algo que mi abuela y su hermana comentaban a menudo, con expresión resabiada.

Cómo logró desvanecerse como si se la hubiera tragado la tierra, y burlar a todos y cada uno de los grupos de búsqueda que envió mi tatarabuelo es gran parte del misterio, así como sus cuentos de hadas, capaces de encantar a toda una generación.

Ahora, leyendo su diario he comprendido muchas cosas. La verdad sobre el matrimonio concertado, sobre el que se desahogaba en varias páginas del diario, intercaladas con algunos cuentos muy buenos, como ‘La Trenza del Hada’ o ‘La Flor Tardía’, en los que en retrospectiva puedo ver el talento innato y creciente que impulsaría su fama.

Pero la última entrada del diario es de lo más extraño. No es un cuento, o al menos no está narrado como tal. Es igual que tantas otras entradas anteriores, pero con una diferencia: lo que cuenta ahí Elisa no puede ser real.

Está bastante claro que era una criatura fantasiosa y quizá un poco lunática. Sin embargo, lo que escribió aquel 19 de abril de 1910, unido a su posterior desaparición, suscita muchas dudas y preguntas, y deja tras de sí muy pocas respuestas.

La versión oficial es que efectivamente huyó del matrimonio concertado. Yo ya no lo tengo tan claro.

Juzguen ustedes, a partir de la transcripción, palabra por palabra, de la última entrada del diario adolescente de Elisa Gascó, la famosa cuentacuentos.

19 de Abril de 1910

Ayer por la tarde le dije a padre que no me casaré, aunque me lleven a rastras ante el altar. No hay mujer cuerda que quiera pasar el resto de su vida junto a ese hombre infame. Pero padre no quiso escucharme.

Salí como tantas otras veces al monte, a respirar aire fresco y a ordenar los pensamientos, dejando atrás el caserón familiar y bordeando los campos de naranjos hasta la colina cercana, como acostumbre a hacer cuando arrecia la tormenta.

No obstante, ayer tomé una senda distinta a la habitual, y al poco me había desorientado. El Sol ya se había ocultado tras las montañas y su resplandor ya no era visible en el cielo, donde ya empezaban a aparecer las primeras estrellas. Sin embargo, no hacía frío. El aire primaveral era cálido y mecía mi vestido de algodón mientras avanzaba por los pastos.

Entonces quise fijarme en donde me encontraba, para tratar de hallar el camino a casa. A parte de unas pocas colmenas de madera para abejas, no vi nada reseñable que determinase mi paradero. Ninguna señal, ni marca alguna. Un sendero completamente desconocido y libre de presencia humana.

Vi que estaba en un camino de flores silvestres de vivos colores. Había margaritas, clavelinas, campánulas y lavanda, el aire estaba impregnado de su olor. Las flores eran preciosas, todas ellas, coloreando la falda de la colina como un ordenado mosaico.

Demasiado ordenado y demasiado pulcro. Me pregunté si no me habría metido por error en terreno cultivado. La visión de tan bonitas flores contrastando con las luces del crepúsculo y la villa a lo lejos, preparándose para la noche, junto con su dulce aroma silvestre era reconfortante.

Me incliné sobre una de las perfectas campánulas. Estaba cerrada, pero tenía todos y cada uno de los pétalos impecables, de un tono rosa intenso con el borde oscuro. La acaricié con delicadeza, asombrada de su belleza. Y la flor se estiró y me miró.

No era una flor después de todo.

Contuve la respiración y alcé la mirada. La senda de flores silvestres estaba ahora salpicada de pequeñas lucecitas, que eran en realidad más criaturitas como aquella, iluminadas desde dentro y observándome.

Me temo que me desmayé. Debió ser así, porque desperté tendida en el pasto rodeada de las flores y personitas brillantes. Sentía un regusto dulce en la lengua, como a miel. Supuse que aquellas criaturas me habían dado algo para reanimarme.

‘Un don por otro don.’- dijo la pequeña de color rosa que había visto primero, con una voz tan indescriptiblemente dulce como el roce de una brisa o el lenguaje de las mariposas.

‘¿Perdón? – dije, sin saber muy bien si el sonido había llegado a pasar por mis oídos.

‘Danos el mejor de tus dones, y nosotras te daremos otro a cambio’ – replicó el hada, y las otras se acercaron más y se sentaron rodeándome, unas sobre las flores, otras acomodadas sobre mullidas setas, sobre raíces, y de rodillas en la hierba. Las hadas más pequeñas saliendo de entre grietas en las rocas, llenando el lugar de decenas de luces. El olor del azahar y la madreselva, del romero y la lavanda, lo envolvían todo como un hechizo.

El mejor de mis dones. No sabía qué ofrecer, y no sabía qué podía pasar si declinaba la oferta. Pensé, miré mis manos, mi vestido. Ninguno de mis objetos personales podía considerarse un gran regalo, salvo quizás el relicario que llevaba colgado al cuello. Mas, ¿qué iban a hacer las hadas con un relicario? No creía que se refiriesen a eso. Al final, después de reflexionar un poco, decidí que les daría lo que mejor sé hacer.

Les conté una historia, sobre un sultán del Lejano Oriente que poseía todo cuanto pudiese desear, bienes materiales comunes y también fabulosos, raros y mágicos. Y sin embargo lo dejó todo atrás, partiendo a toda prisa en su alfombra mágica, con la única compañía de un mono, un áspid y un ratón hacia los confines del mundo, para encontrar una cura para su esposa enferma. Y otras historia sobre una hoja flotando en un lago que cambió todo un pueblo, y otra sobre una flor que no quiso crecer a tiempo y aprendió el sentido de la vida demasiado tarde. Y otra sobre un roedor que domesticaba un dragón con té. Y otra, y otra.

Mi pequeña audiencia me escuchaba atentamente. Eran muy buenas oyentes, las hadas. Contenían la respiración en el momento adecuado y aplaudían con sus pequeñas manitas y con las alas al final de cada relato. No sé cuánto tiempo estuve contándoles cuentos, quizás una hora o dos, o puede que toda la noche, acompañada por el movimiento de la Luna Llena por el cielo estrellado, y las pequeñas luces brillando a mi alrededor.

Empecé a sentirme muy somnolienta, y creo que llegué a ver despuntar el alba.

Recuerdo a la pequeña hada rosada acercarse y decir:

‘El mayor de tus dones es especial y maravilloso. Verás tu don aumentado, por la gracia de las hadas. Las historias que nos has entregado serán joyas entre nosotras, y a partir de hoy, todas las historias que cuentes, serán tesoros.’

He despertado esta mañana en mi cama, con el Sol ya alto brillando a través de la ventana. Las imágenes del sueño de la noche anterior eran tan reales, y las sensaciones … notaba incluso aquel regusto como a miel.

Me incorporé, y vi en mi mesilla de noche algo que no estaba ahí el día anterior.

Una pluma. Una pluma estilográfica, de la más exquisita factura, plateada como un rayo de luna. Con mi nombre grabado en el capuchón. Descansando sobre una camánula rosada.

Así que no fue un sueño. He sostenido el regalo de las hadas en mi mano izquierda y las palabras han empezado a fluir como un río. La siento latir entre mis dedo, ansiosa por contar aventuras e historias encantadas.

Siento un nuevo coraje para perseguir mis sueños y encontrar maravillas. O inventarlas.

He visto que el mundo es un lugar mucho más misterioso y mágico que lo que percibimos. Ahí fuera está lleno de secretos, y voy a descubrirlos y a transformarlos en cuentos, para que los niños nunca dejen de creer en prodigios.

Saldré cuando todos duerman, y jamás darán conmigo, hasta que mi nombre y mis cuentos sean conocidos por todos.

Y creo que ya sé cómo conseguirlo.

The Fairy Plait

Inspired by the foreword to ‘The Forgotten Garden’, by Kate Morton.

Once upon a time, there was a young and handsome prince of a very powerful kingdom, destined to one day be the wise king of those lands, when his father gave him the throne. However, when the time comes the prince should prove his worth and pass a single test, proving that he was worthy of fulfilling his destiny.

Therefore, one fine day, his father the king took him to the edge of a mysterious forest, thick and tall, with the tops of the trees fading high above as far as the eye could see. He told him that his proof was in there, and that when he had overcome it leaving the forest, he would be the king.

The valiant prince hastened to carry out his father’s orders, and entered the forest, sword ready, prepared for any difficulty that presented him: a bear, a huge boar or some similar beast, perhaps a dark wizard to whom defeat, or maybe a fierce fire-spitting dragon.

The truth is, he did not have the slightest idea of ​​what his test could be.
Then the prince came to a clearing in the woods. In it stood a cottage, almost as tall as the tree that grew from it, breaking through the roof and disappearing high above. The brave prince entered the cottage, without knocking on the door, since he already sensed what was to be found.

At the end of the cabin, next to the hearth, was an old woman sitting in front of a loom.

‘But what manners are those? Don’t you know how to call before entering?’ said the old woman, who was a witch, in case you hadn’t noticed.

‘Here I am to fulfill my test, old crone, and thus be worthy of my destiny. Speak, then. Shall I defeat you in a battle like no other? Or do I have to disenchant a maiden under your hex? Perhaps solve a riddle on the edge of a magical precipice? Speak up!’

‘Sit down and shut up.’ said the witch.

The prince, to his surprise, obeyed.

‘I have a kettle on the fire. Do you want sugar? And some pastries, right?’

Instantly a pink porcelain tea set materialized along with a glass coffee table in front of them. The prince knew that he must be suspicious of anything the witches offered to eat or drink, or so they said… but the pastries were chocolate and the tea smelled to pennyroyal.

The prince then found himself chatting happily with the old witch while they were drinking tea and laughing like old acquaintances.

When the witch had finished tasting her tea and pastries, with a satisfied sigh she turned to her loom and began spinning a new piece.

‘Good. Now let’s talk about serious things. Your test. To seal your destiny, this is what you must do.’

The prince sat up in his chair, suddenly serious. He had almost forgotten what he was there for. He looked suspiciously at the tea and pastries. Were they enchanted to cloud his judgment? But he decided no. Something told him that the witch had a good heart.

‘You shall bring me three strands of the Fairy Kingdom sovereign’s hair, which you will find if you follow the path that brought you to my cottage and know well where to look.’

The prince considered the witch’s words. Is it? Was it all? No dragon to defeat in a singular battle? No dark wizard more cunning than any beast? No riddle with which to challenge his wits? The prince told himself that the task must be more important than it seemed, and much more difficult. It had to be.

‘But why must I bring back three strands of the Fairy Queen’s hair?’ spoke the young prince to the crone. ‘Why no other number, why not two or four?’

The crone leaned forward but did not halt her spinning. ‘There is no other number, my child.

Three is the number of family, for do we not speak of past, present and future? Three is the number of time, for do we not speak of mother, father and child? Three is the number of fairy, for do we not seek them between oak, ash and thorn?’

The young prince nodded, for the wise crone spoke the truth.

‘Thus must I have three strands, to weave my magic plait.’

The prince looked at the loom, and thought that the witch would surely want to braid the enchanted strands to weave a mighty or invisibility cloak. So he said goodbye to the old woman and with her best wishes, went further into the thick forest.

In search of the Fairy Kingdom. A place as wonderful as it was dangerous, where a wrong step could mean the loss of the man who dared to set foot there. Ruled by its own rules and symbols, rites and enchantments more powerful than any force on earth. Where the Sun, Earth, Moon and Starlight marked the passage of time that nevertheless seemed to stop forever. A place that very few managed to get to, and from which no one managed to get out.

The prince removed branches and leaves, and walked silently, respectfully, searching among the oak, ash and thorn. He did not dare to cut any branches or leaves, or damage any bush. He admired the brightly colored flowers from afar and was always watching where he stepped. It was not a good idea to break into someone’s house breaking things. One could end up cursed for life. The witch had told him.

Before entering the Fairy Realm, something said to the prince that he should leave the sword behind. The prince did not know what he was going to find, but that impulse was much stronger than his fear. So he put the sword down and entered another clearing in the thick forest.

And at once he was captured by beings of overwhelming beauty and steely gaze in their slanted eyes. They were dressed in what looked like oversized leaves and flower petals, and their spears were made from branches that were sharper than any sword.

Oh, yes. They were beautiful and fearsome, but none of them was as beautiful and fearsome as the Fairy Queen.

The Throne Room was a rounded space of trees that the prince had never seen before. They were cobalt blue in color, with silvery thin branches and flexible like hair. The Fairy Queen was sitting among them, in garments as transparent and translucent as her great iridescent wings. Her honey-colored eyes seemed to know everything, on a face of unearthly beauty. But most impressive of all was her hair. Long and silky to the feet, dark blonde in color, braided and interwoven with the thin branches of the blue trees. It was such an intricate design, so complex, so delicate, that it was impossible to tell where the Queen ended and the trees began. It looked like she was wearing the forest as a crown.

The prince’s famous intuition spoke to him again, indicating that the strands of the fairy plait the witch desired were those and not others.

Then the Queen spoke, and her voice filled the entire clearing, and the prince’s ears and mind :

‘Speak, unknown, and tell why you entered the Fairy Kingdom without invitation. ‘

The prince would have fallen to his knees before the Fairy Queen, if he had been able to, but the guards held him tight, still without injuring him. He managed, however, to bow and said,

‘Your Majesty, I present myself before you and your people as a humble visitor who has not come to do any harm. I am the prince of the neighboring kingdom. I have come to ask you to give me three of the strands of your plait, the silver ones, for a friend who needs them.’

There was a shudder among the faerie people. It seemed that they had even stopped breathing.

‘We should execute him immediately’ said one of the guards, bringing his spear closer to the heart of the prince.

‘No’ said the Fairy Queen. – ‘He has come as a friend and not as an enemy, because he does not carry weapons or tricks, and he has spoken with ignorance, not with evil. You see, prince, these trees here are not ordinary trees. They are as old as the time of fairies on this earth, and will remain here as long as fairies and magic remain. They watch over, care for, and guard the Fairy Kingdom, and keep it secret except for a few. They are the true kings of the forest. They are the ancestors and memory of our people. Their name cannot be pronounced by any mortal, and they are nourished by the magic of the Fairy Queen, by means of these threads that you covet, in exchange for their innumerable gifts. There is nothing more important to fairies. Nothing.’

The prince was thoughtful at the Queen’s words, pondering what to answer, for he did not intend to surrender so soon.

‘What if I offer you something in return? Something to match its value?

The faerie people shuddered again, but this time with what seemed laughter. The amused Fairy Queen raised an eyebrow, and her gaze was a little less relentless.

‘What could you give us in exchange that can be so valuable? Such a thing is unthinkable. ‘

‘I still don’t know, if I have to be honest. But give me three days. Let me remain here among your people, and I will find a way to compensate you for your incalculable gift. Give me three days, and if my offer is not to your liking, I will leave forever and make sure no one else bothers you again. You have my word.’

Perhaps it was because of the prince’s courage, perhaps because the faerie people had begun to languish before the tedium of so many equal days and needed some fun, perhaps out of curiosity. The Fairy Queen accepted the deal and the guards released the prince.

‘Be, then. But we are going to change the conditions of your stay a little, before sealing the pact. If you are not able to offer me something that equals or exceeds the value of my precious strands, you will be executed for your daring. Do you still wish to stay?’

The prince nodded, for this was proof worthy of his courage and the prize to which he aspired. They sealed the deal, then, in a way that only pertained to those who were there.

Then the guard who had proposed to execute him arrived, and sulkily offered him a bowl of soup. The prince looked puzzled at the Queen.

‘It is nightfall. And you must supper something. We do not neglect our guests.’ She said with a musical laugh.

The prince thought fairies were very strange, but this time he did not distrust the food they offered him. He believed in the deal they had made and in the word of fairies, and he had three days before these people wanted to end their lives.

What a great hospitality.

So the prince sat next to the Fairy Queen’s throne to eat. It turned out that what they had given him was rice pudding.

The Queen stared in surprise at the prince sitting on the ground without remorse, in silent company. In her thousands of years of existence, no one had wanted to sit with her, leaving her alone with her regency.

The prince fell asleep curled up in one of the roots of the blue trees, and slept like never in his life. A long and deep dream, like in stories.

The next day came and went, and the prince and the Queen began to talk to pass the time. And at dusk, with the lights of the faerie village lighting up in the distance, the Queen Fairy asked:

‘Have you already decided what are you offering me in exchange?’

‘No, not yet, Your Majesty, but tell me more about the language of birds.’

And the Fairy Queen told him everything she knew about the countless birds that populated the forests, which was a lot, and she introduced her owl, the wisest of all birds, her friend and guardian, with whom she had long conversations about everything that happened within the limits of her Kingdom. The prince listened to the Queen’s words and contemplated her face, shining with fairy dust, absorbing her voice in wonder.

The next day came and went, and the prince and the Queen entertained themselves walking through the clearing. It turned out that the branches of the blue trees were infinitely long, so they could see fairies working, eating, singing, dancing and playing instruments that moved everyone who heard them. And at dusk, with the lights of the faerie village lighting up in the distance, the Fairy Queen asked:

‘Have you have already decided what are you offering me in exchange?

‘No, not yet Your Majesty, but tell me more about the things that grow.’

And the Fairy Queen told him everything she knew about the countless species of trees, shrubs, flowers, mushrooms, and herbs that grew in her domains, which was a lot, and she introduced to him each of the blue trees, having each one its name and personality. They spoke to the Fairy Queen in their sweet voices, which only she could understand, and she recited to the prince an ancient faerie poem that the trees remembered, about everything green and good in the world. The prince listened to the Queen’s words and contemplated her face, shining with fairy dust, absorbing her voice in wonder.

The next day came and went, and the prince and the Queen watched sadly the movement of the Sun across the sky and the rising of a beautiful silver-colored Full Moon. For they both felt an unexpected bond that had been forged between them, a bond that was to be broken when the day came to an end, one way or the other. The fairies gradually gathered around the throne with the arrival of twilight. And at dusk, with the lights of the faerie village lighting up in the distance, the Queen Fairy asked:

‘Have you already decided what are you offering me in exchange?’

-‘Yes, Your Majesty. Now I have decided’. And he knelt before her, before the entire Fairy Kingdom. ‘I offer you my heart. It is all I have, and more valuable than my kingdom, or my crown. Take it, for is yours, but in exchange for nothing. I no longer desire the strands of your plait, but tell me more about you, and what makes you laugh, before I’m gone forever.’

The Fairy Queen looked him in the eyes, while the faerie people held their breath. Then he could see in her beautiful eyes the same tenderness that he felt, the same connection that in a short time had become so strong. The Queen could see it clearly, a bright and indestructible braided thread that bounded them both. A bond that united two equal souls, stronger than the very roots of her land.

The Queen looked at the blue trees, listening for a moment to their voices, and at that moment three of the silver strands were released. And she herself with a magic pass cut all the others, leaving her free.

Everyone present looked at her in shock, and she turned and spoke to her people:

‘These trees are old enough. They are strong and wise, and they are firmly rooted in this powerful land. It’s time to change things up a bit. I think they can go on without me. ‘

‘But I want, and can, follow my heart.’

They married some time later in the witch’s cottage. The three strands with which she made the magic plait served to join their hands as they pronounced their vows, looking into each other’s eyes, the future and their destiny. They were the sovereigns of both kingdoms, which lived a prosperity and happiness never seen before.

The new couple planted some of the strands of the fairy plait in pots, to extend the enchanted forest beyond its limits. New silver leaves have already started to sprout in the pots. A beautiful new beginning.

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