Once upon a time, there was a girl who refused to leave her home when the Great Famine swept through her village. Her name was Nea.
Nea’s mother declared her insane, for she was always busy digging in their garden. When asked why she did so, she said she was searching for a magic box of seeds that had the power to grow in the worst of weather.
In the parched garden
Seeds lie hidden
Tenth feet in line
Dig for renewal times nine!
“That is the clue. I have dreamt of it. Many times. Help me find it, Mama!” Nea begged. But her mother didn’t take her seriously.
“What nonsense! Your crazy imagination will starve us to death!” Her mother poked her forehead.
But Nea’s heart was full of hope. She believed that one day she would find the magic seeds and nobody would go hungry ever again. So she kept measuring ten feet from all sides and corners of their garden and marked them. While her mother made preparations for the mass exodus of people from the village, Nea was busy digging.
One morning, she was engrossed in deciphering the lines from her dream. The village priest came walking by Nea’s garden and leaned on the fence. He removed his broad-brimmed hat and dusted it.
“I heard you were giving your mother a hard time, child. If it’s up to me, I would abandon you. We will have one less mouth to feed!” His voice startled Nea, but after seeing the minister’s sneer, she glared at him and moved away, taking the back stairs to her house.
The day of exodus arrived. Everyone in the village abandoned their lands. They took everything except the sick animals. They were terrified their meat might make them sick.
“I can take care of myself,” Nea assured her mother.
“You know where to find us,” her mother said.
With people gone, silence shrouded the village. Even the sick animals didn’t make any sound.
More determined than ever, Nea resumed digging but got up when she remembered her sick companions. She brought them to her place and fed them.
“Until we find those seeds, we will eat only once a day, okay?” Though the animals did not answer, she felt happy.
The following morning, when Nea flung open the back door, she found two dogs, two goats, a sheep, and four chickens waiting for her below the stairs.
“I know. I am hungry, too. But -“
She stopped as soon as she realized that her animal friends were standing in a straight line facing her. With her heart pounding fast, her eyes instantly counted the legs.
“Tenth feet in line! Oh my…don’t move!”
When Nea dug where the sheep stood, she finally found what she was searching for.
The tale of Nea spread far and wide. Before long, her picture with the animals frolicking in the lush fields appeared on countless billboards that proclaimed —“Magic lives in the hearts of the innocents.”
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