Corbelle

by Rolli -

There was a girl. A pretty girl. Why don't we call her Corbelle? Names aren't important, anyway.

Corbelle was lucky. She was pretty. Her father wasn’t rich, no, though he wasn’t poor, as so many were in those days. She was a fortunate girl. But she did not feel fortunate. For she didn't have a golden pin.

One morning she was sitting on her front lawn. This was where she did most of her daydreaming. As she sat there dreaming, a girl walked past. It was Josette, who lived next door.

“What is that?” Corbelle asked. For something glinted in Josette's hair.

“It is a golden pin,” Josette said proudly.

“Where did you get it?” Corbelle was fascinated.

“Le Petit Monde,” said Josette. That was the shop for young girls in those days. “Two hundred francs. My father bought it for me.”

Corbelle was hardly listening, though. She could only stare at the lovely pin, wishing it was her own.

“I am the luckiest girl in the world,” Josette said with a grin. It was the sort of grin, though – do you know it? – that is at once lovely and sharp. Like a rose. And like a rose on water, Josette floated down the street.

Of course Corbelle ran to her father and asked him if she too could have a golden pin. Of course the man said no, no, it was silly. Besides, there was no money for it. And of course Corbelle stormed into the backyard and seated herself on the tree swing where she did most of her sulking.

“It is a lovely day,” a voice said.

“Terrible,” said Corbelle, without even looking to see who it was.

“Oh, I wouldn't say that. The sun is shining, the trees are blossoming, and there are plenty of nice long worms to eat.”

It was such an odd thing to say, Corbelle looked around to see who on earth was speaking. All she could see, though, was a fat crow sitting in the branches above.

“Well?” said the bird. “Are you going to tell me what's troubling you, or not?”

Though a talking crow, even in those days, was a very strange thing, Corbelle was so upset she told the bird all about the pin and her father's refusal. She was so emotional, she broke into tears.

“Tut, tut,” said the crow, clicking his beak together. “It's nothing to cry over. Why, I can get you a silly pin if it will make you happy.”

“You can?” asked Corbelle, wiping her eyes.

“Of course! Though I should warn you, mademoiselle, that...”

But Corbelle wasn't listening. All she could think of was having her very own pin at last.

“How does that sound?” said the bird, finishing his speech.

“Fine, fine,” said Corbelle, pretending she'd really listened.

“Excellent!” the crow cried. And off he flew.

In no time, the bird returned and perched in the tree. In his beak something sparkled.

“Is that...” began Corbelle. But before she could finish, the crow opened his beak, and a golden pin fell into her hands.

Without even thanking the crow, Corbelle raced upstairs, sat down at her dressing table, and stuck the pin in her hair. She admired it in the mirror. Yes, it was just as lovely as Josette's. She couldn't wait to show her. The child was about to stand up when something else caught her eye in the mirror. Her pinky finger, on the left hand. It was turning...black. It grew blacker, and blacker, and softer, and thinner, until....There could be no doubt about it. It had changed into a feather...

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