Chapter 2: Door Belles
Now mice, as you know, are a curious sort and they are never quite satisfied until they have poked their noses into everything and discovered all that they possibly can (which is why so many of them end up in traps in our world). Mice in Fairlawn are every bit as curious but much smarter. So when Belle found the door she immediately began poking about.
The door sat tucked into a fold of the hill among some rocks. Thick moss covered everything and nearly hid the door altogether. Belle had herself quite a time uncovering it and inspecting it from every possible angle.
Belle's explorations left her with many questions and very few answers. So, after much thought, she headed off to see Badger Ol'Warp to ask the many questions pressing on her mind.
Badger Ol'Warp was by far the oldest creature in AllenDale (The town Belle called home). To say someone is old in Fairlawn they must be 5000 years old or more, so to say Ol'Warp was the oldest in AllenDale was saying much indeed. Creatures in Fairlawn know perfectly well that when you need answers you seek those who are old and wise for they have seen much and learned much. (This is a lesson too few people in our world have learned.)
Belle soon found herself sitting comfortably on Badger Ol'Warp's best teacup nibbling a sweet plum. The old badger was walking slowly along his great library of books looking carefully over his nose at the gold printing along each spine. All the time he muttered.
"Door you say"..... "Carved of stone"..... "Two circles touching"..... "FAIRY TALES!"
Belle simply nodded. The sweet plum was good and to speak with your mouth full would be quite rude.
Ol'Warp finally made some selections and brought them over to the table where Belle was currently sitting. He sat himself down, adjusted his glittering topaz wings, and carefully opened one of the ancient parcus-bound volumes he had collected.
NOTE: parcus is bark from the parminius tree which is used to make books, furniture and clothing in Fairlawn. It is very similar in looks and feel to leather but is nearly indestructible once treated.
Now, while Belle and Ol'Warp are going over the stories and diagrams found in those old books I think you might like to learn a little more about Fairlawn.
At first sight Fairlawn is a world much like any you've seen, with oceans and continents, mountains and river valleys, forests and deserts. The sun rises and sets. The moon glows full every night. (This is the first obvious difference you would notice.)
Fairlawn is, above all, fair. It is fair in both land and weather. The world, no matter where you are, is beautiful. Blooming or fading it is lovely. Nature's displays are always perfect. The weather is always gentle. The rain falls softly, freshens the land, and then leaves politely. Snow sparkles clean and never makes mud while leaving. The wind is never above a breeze.
One of the reasons that this world is so lovely, I am sorry to say, is that humans do not live there. They have not been able to ruin and destroy it in the name of progress or profit.
The world is populated with creatures that look just like animals. The animals are of all species and types from huge elephants and whales to small mice and minnows. The creatures are slender and light with fine coats and bright eyes and every one of them has graceful transparent wings. The wings are in a wide variety of colors and textures. All of the creatures can run quickly and quietly. And, all of them can and do fly. (Yes, even the elephants.)
The creatures call themselves Meir (which means "Being" in our language). They live very long lives: 7000 years on average. They live peacefully together and with their world.
With such long lives you will not be surprised to know that the children don't start school until they are 25 years old. But, before you get excited, they don't complete mandatory school until they are 50. I realize you won't believe this but most of the young choose to seek higher education.
Belle herself attended 15 years at Myhill University where she studied the medicinal qualities of plant pollens (or something like that).
Oh dear, I have quite nearly forgotten about Belle altogether. I realize I have probably added far more questions to your list, but this story really is about Cherry Hill Farm and the Rose family and Belle.
Belle, as you remember, was with Ol'Warp studying some very old books trying to understand a strange stone door she had found.
The two books that gave Ol'Warp and Belle the most information were Fairy Tale volumes. (At least that is what Ol'Warp had believed until now.) The first book was called Through the Circle Cloud. It was written by a fine horse named Pegallion Asus (who we call, in our world, Pegasus). The other book was called Evil Beyond the Door. It was written by Drewlong Angle Onlee. He was a beautiful creature we would call a dragon. I am sure you can imagine the horrible things he might write about humans in the world beyond.
The stories, from both writers, told about beings called Hue-Mans. These Hue-Mans were full of selfishness, greed, hate and pride, which led to murder, assault, destruction and war. Many of the stories told of beautiful things but far too many were sad.
Ol'Warp and Belle shuddered with fear when Drewlong wrote of armies of Silverknights coming to chop out his heart, seeking power to rule their world for their own purpose.
Some of the stories were funny and some made them cry. Belle would be full of curiosity one minute and trembling with fear the next.
Who were these Hue-Mans who could be so kind and caring then turn and be so cruel and mean? Belle wondered.
At the end of the day Belle returned to the door. She sat there for a very long time trying to decide what to do. Could the fairy tales be about the world beyond this door?
She had so many questions about our world. Was it really the way the writers had described it? Had things changed? Maybe the Hue-Mans just needed help? Would it be possible to help?
Remember, mice are very curious. Belle was kind and good as all those in her world are but mice are not as wise as badgers. She knew she needed to make a wise decision so she took a very long time to decide.
The moon was very high indeed when she finally decided to cover the door once more so that no one would find it until Mier far wiser than she could decide what to do.
She tucked the moss into the rocks around and over. She packed the moss into the two circles in the center of the door. Her little hand was just pressing in the last little bundle of moss when her finger pressed a hidden spring. The door fell open and Belle tumbled into the world beyond the door (our world). Before she could catch herself the door swung back and snapped shut. So there she was trapped in our world.
It was raining. Not the soft, gentle rain of Fairlawn but a strong, hard rain of stormy spring nights as we know it. It was dark, so very dark. The wind howled. The tree limbs cracked together. Poor Belle nearly died of fright. You can imagine how horrified she was.
Belle scurried this way and that and finally tumbled down a great hill, at least it was for her, but no more than a good jump for you. She pulled herself up under a huge skunk cabbage leaf and shook with terror all night.
So that is how dear Belle came to Cherry Hill Farm. I realize I have left many questions unanswered but now I should tell you a little about the Rose family.
Airabella Quick of Cherry Hill Farm is © copyright 2008 by Kimberlyn Kammerer. All rights reserved.
May not be reprinted elsewhere without permission from the author/illustrator.