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…rose in the clouded sky above the Fairy Tale Lobby.

Edmond Dulac’s illustration for “The Buried Moon.”

It shed enough light to illuminate the golden pumpkins in the garden and the marigolds along the path, but when it reached the edge of the forest, all became shadowed and dark. Simplia stepped out from the stoop to view the full sky.

“I think I’d rather stay here tonight,” she said.

“Me, too!” Sagacia agreed. “If we leave at dawn, we can be home for breakfast!”

Simplia turned toward the house and took one step–just one!–when a “whoosh” sounded above them. Startled, they looked up and saw the clouds shudder, and a small rectangular object came fluttering downward. Then came a cackling laugh that trailed away, or maybe it was just the crackle of dry leaves, some frightened varmint skittering over them. Sagacia reached high for the bright, lilting rectangle, which soon revealed itself to be an envelope, and when an unexpected zephyr lifted it just out of her grasp, Simplia followed it a few steps and reached for it again.

“Got it!” she said.

Back inside, Sagacia lit the oil lamp and sat in a side chair. Murzik jumped into her lap and listened with her as Simplia read aloud.

Dear Vasilisa the Wise,

Last year a storyteller came to my children’s school and told a story about you and a witch to my daughter’s fifth grade class and then told “Hansel and Gretel” to my son’s fourth grade class. My children told me the stories were scary, and they had trouble getting to sleep that night.

Naturally, I called the principal the next morning and asked if he knew that stories about witches were being told in his school. He said he’d dropped by the library, and, though he missed any witch stories, it was clear to him that the children were fully engaged, and their minds were going 90 to nothing. (Right! And about what!!? Witches and other devilish thoughts!) In the end, he said he was going to just “sit” on it. That’s all he ever does: just sit! And he’s still sitting, I guess. Now I hear they are going to hire the same storyteller again this year, and he even knows about it and has approved!

Honestly, Vasilisa! Our children are assaulted by evil every day, and they don’t need their schools to actually hire people to come in and regale them with stories about more wicked, Godless creatures! I’m not against stories or storytelling at all, but there are plenty of good stories around, so why do storytellers have to pick the ones with witches in them?

Faithful in Fairbanks

No further words were uttered, but Murzik heard two small sighs. The Simpletons looked at one another transmitting a hope that some of their magical friends might have stirring words of advice or perhaps powerful shaming censure for one “Faithful in Fairbanks.”