from my novel Cappuccino ~

Mani gave the tree a couple pats, followed by a full-blown hug.  Then he sat down and peered into a large cavity in the base of the tree and reached his arm deep into the hole.  In a moment, he let out a ho-ho of delight as his arm re-appeared clenching a yellow leather pouch. Unexpectedly, Mani saw movement out of the corner of his eye and a sandy-haired young girl came running in, crouching down next to the tree’s cave.  “Is it okay to hide here?  I’m playing hide and seek.”

“Of course.  I won’t tell  anyone.  And the Elf Tree won’t say anything either.”

The girl peeked out, satisfied that no one could see her.  Her eyes rested on the pouch.

“What did you say?”
“Welcome to the Elf Tree. My name’s Mani.  What’s yours?”

“Taza.”

“Very pleased to meet you.  Do you know why I call this the Elf Tree?”

Taza shook her head, inquiring, “Why?”

“Because the Elves live here.  They come out at night, that’s why I’ve never seen them.  But we exchange gifts all the time.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, one week ago, after I’d left the Elves colorful beads, I returned a day later to find they had made me a beautiful wristband.  See, I’m wearing it.  So, I thanked them by placing ten shiny pennies in this pouch.  I wonder what they did with them?  Do you want to open the bag?”

She peered around the tree and saw her brother searching for her.  She carefully untied the looped leather bow and her dainty fingers searched for treasure.  Tara withdrew ten glistening silver dollars.

“Aha!”

Taza’s eyes grew to as big as pine cones.  “This is amazing!”

“Yes, this is Elf magic.  Would you like to have a coin?”

“Oh, please.  Thank you!

As Taza held her gift up to the light, an older boy appeared.  “Oh, there you are.  The rest of us have already been found.  C’mon, it’s time to go home.”

Mani waved goodbye.  Her brother tugged Taza’s arm, pulling her with him. As they walked away, the boy asked, “Who’s that guy?”

Examining her coin, Taza barely heard him, answering softly, “A wizard I think.”  ~

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