The Longest Night
(renamed by Jennifer McCormack, originally found as "A Winter Story")
The days had become shorter and shorter and colder and colder. The nights very long. At last the boy heard someone say “Tonight is the longest night of the year.”
“This must be quite special”, said the little boy, “I will go and find out why.” It was nearly dark. He put on his worn scarf, lit his little lantern and went outside. He sang:
The sunlight fast is dwindling
My little lamp need kindling
It’s beam shines far in darkest night
Dear lantern guard me with your light
Near a wattle tree he heard a scuffle. Something ran past him up into the tree. He saw two bright eyes shining. “Hello little ringtail possum,” he said. “Can you tell me what is so special about tonight?”
“I don’t know,” said the possum, “I’m just glad that the wattle trees are covered in golden flowers full of nectar,” and he scrambled further up the tree.
The little boy went on, singing (repeat song)
Then he heard “Boobook! Bookbook!”
“Who’s that?” said the boy. He looked into the tree. Two round eyes were looking at him.
“Boobook! Bookbook! What are you doing?” asked the owl.
“I have come out to find why this night is so special,” said the boy. “Can you help me?”
“Bookbook,” said the owl, “I cannot tell you, but if you are willing to search and search and keep your eyes wide open you may find out. Bookbook! Bookbook!” He flew away on silent wings.
As the boy walked on he sang (repeat song).
Then the boy stopped. Something was knocking. He listened. Indeed, some knocking was coming from behind some rocks. He listened again and he heard:
Crack, crack, the rocks we hack
Quake, quake, the mountains shake.
Bang, bang, our hammers clang.
In caverns old we seek the gold
“Goodness!” said the boy:
“Who is that kncking?
It must be the gnomes
Hacking and cracking the rocks and the stones
Finding the jewels
Shining them bright
Like the moon and the stars
And the golden sunlight.”
There was a movement in a crack in the rock and a little glimmer of light. He went over. “Hello!” he said, “Is anyone there?”
A long, thin creature came out of the crack.
“What are you doing out here all alone on this longest night?”
“I am trying to find out about this special night,” said the boy.
“I will show you how special it is for us,” said the long thin creature and he led the boy inside the rock.
The boy gasped when he saw the cave shining inside the rock. His lantern lit up the jewels in the cave and the shone as bright as day and lit up the longest night.