There was once a forest with deep green moss, which teemed with mushrooms in the autumn, and glistened with dew on spring mornings, when the sunlight could almost be touched between the elm trees, like a thin curtain. An old clock stood in the heart of the forest, with a little door at the bottom, and a tiny shutter in the clockface, that, every hour from sunrise to sunset, sprang open excitedly. One of the sparrows that dipped and hopped amongst the elms would glide through the little door, up the clock, and out of the tiny shutter with a playful cheep.
It happened one day that the playful cheep did not come. The sparrow whose hour it was to glide through the little door and out of the tiny shutter had dipped and hopped, dipped and hopped, until it had left the forest. The next hour, the playful cheep came again, as the sparrow whose hour it was glided through the little door and burst out of the shutter with glee, just as always. But hours began occasionally to not be marked, and, over time, playful cheeps came to be heard quite irregularly from the clock in the heart of the forest.
Many generations later, the moss of the forest lay mottled and ragged. No mushrooms peered through it in the autumn, and in the spring the sunlight could not find its way to it through the tangled elms. The clock in the heart of the forest still stood, forgotten.
But on the edge of the forest lay a house in which a little girl lived. When she ran to and fro in play, sparrows dipped and hopped gleefully around her. One day, the little girl, running from elm to elm in the forest with her train of sparrows, came upon the forgotten clock. It stood gracefully, melancholy rather than forlorn. It so happened that, just then, the hour came. The little door of the clock, and the tiny shutter in its face, sprang open as before. An intrepid little sparrow, dancing around the little girl, darted through the little door, arrowed up the inside of the clock, and darted out of the tiny shutter with a delighted cheep.
The little girl often came back to the clock in the heart of the forest, and playful cheeps began to be heard more and more frequently from it in the hours between sunrise and sunset, until so many sparrows would delightedly take their turn dipping down on a gust of wind through the little door and out of the tiny shutter that there was not an hour of the day that a playful cheep was not heard.
That autumn, the moss of the forest was again deep green, and teamed with a meadow of mushrooms as in autumns of old. The elms grew freely, and the next spring, the moss glistened again with dew in the thin curtains of morning sunlight.
Last updated: 13:12 (GMT+1), 22nd January 2019