There was once a baby girl as beautiful as the sun is hot, as brave as the moon is cold and as gentle and faithful as the stars are bright. Her parents loved her. Yet as she grew, she saw that they were not happy. In the mornings, her mother would sing as she brushed her daughter’s long dark hair, but her songs were sad. In the evenings, her father would laugh as he lifted her high above his head into the air, but when she looked into his eyes, she saw shadows there.
One day, while chasing a ball, the little girl crawled under her parents’ bed and came upon seven dusty boxes. She opened them and found in each a neatly folded shirt, delicately sewn in colors of the rainbow with patterns of the sun, moon and stars. They were so finely embroidered, only her mother could have made them.
That night at dinner, the girl wore the smallest of the shirts, hoping to make her mother smile. But her mother covered her face with her hands and began to weep.
“Your poor brothers,” she moaned, rocking back and forth. “Your poor, poor brothers.” Her mother told the little girl of a time when she had seven strong brothers, each more handsome than the last...
“They disappeared into the clear blue sky,” said her father. The girl looked into his eyes. She counted seven black shadows there and knew there was more to the story than that.
“I’ll find them,” she promised, resting her head on her father’s shoulder. “I’ll bring them home.”
“What’s done is done,” he said, shaking his head, and the shadows in his eyes spread through the house, darkening every crack and corner. That night the little girl could not sleep. Just before dawn, she left her bed. Taking only a loaf of bread, a jug of water, and a wooden stool, she went out into the wide world to find her brothers...