On the hilltop steeped in summer-green trees sat a boy who was born as free from cares as the world was when it was young. He wore black shoes, and a brown vest with laces and one breast-pocket – for his watch – which did not tell time but would someday. His hands had been gloved earlier that morning, but the gloves were stuffed in his pockets, and his long white fingers held a copper cup.

He nestled by a tree, for he was sore of foot. He set the cup in his lap as he slipped off his shoes. The day was young and full of many steps through the long dark halls of the forest’s trees, which had many beasts, though he was sure to miss them.

The cup had to be in church by noon, but he had just enough time for one quick wink.

When the boy woke he found he had slipped off from the tree’s full roots into a bed of leaves. He sat up straight and leaves clung on to his black hair like a laurel. He brushed them out – and found his hands were empty.

Alarmed, he jumped up to his feet. His shoes were gone.

“There you go, Farin, fumbling with your work,” he said aloud in chiding tones. “Did the beasts come by, do you think? No. No doubt they would have taken you and left the cup well alone.”

Farin did not think of elves, for being a boy, he was clever enough to expect that the cup might go missing, but not enough to suspect that there might be more sorts of thieves than he had imagined. Had he thought of elves, he might have searched the heights of the trees, and not their roots, which he stumbled over with his small bare feet for a good long shot of time, before he found anything interesting.

It was a glimmer of something very precious that poked its head out between the leaves, as if it was gasping for the light of day (which was dim). Farin knelt and cleared the leaves. And though he hoped to come up with the little copper cup, his hands pulled out instead a broken half of a golden heart.

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