I told this story yesterday during the Tales of the Shire night, organized by Miss Nannie. Once upon a time, there was a mother who lived alone with her small son. In many ways, the boy was just like any other small hobbit boy: He loved food, racing and music… But one thing separated him from the other boys and lassies. The boy didn’t speak a word. He could laugh, cry and shout, but he couldn’t express himself using words. It was all just meaningless mumble. In addition, he didn’t have much interest to be with others, he enjoyed being alone. But life can get hard if you cannot say what you want and how you feel. The mother understood his son mostly, but sometimes even she didn’t have a clue what the boy wanted. There was one thing who understood the boy… his favourite toy, the My Bear. It was not a teddy bear, but a round, fluffy ball, with colourful stripes and a face that had the friendliest and widest smile on it. It was called My Bear though; the boy had shouted out something similar when he first saw that toy. And even though My Bear was quite worn-out, it and the boy were inseparable. Because My Bear understood everything the boy thought in his mind. And it never got upset, it was always happy, comforting the boy. And when the boy went to bed with My Bear, it sometimes became alive… It took the boy into a lovely, enchanted forest, where fairies sang their eternal songs and small creatures played their funny games. The forest was filled with a soothing, peaceful atmosphere that made the boy feel better. Because to him, the normal world was, many times, too loud and incomprehensible. But this forest was where he felt happy and safe. And it was like a maze, with dozens of tricksy corridors that lead to different parts of the forest. But the boy had a good memory and always could find his way anywhere. And when the day dawned the boy was back in his bed, My Bear by his side. But one day, My Bear got lost! It happened on a day when the mother had just washed it and fastened it on a clothesline to dry. A silly hawk flew over and thought that the furry ball was some kind of food. So, the bird snatched the toy and flew up to the skies. The mother shouted at the bird angrily. “Bring My Bear back, silly bird!” she shouted. The hawk noticed its mistake as it was flying over a forest, and it dropped My Bear… Down it fell, straight into the deep, dark forest. The mother was horrified… for it was the Old Forest. “I must get that toy back!” she thought. “Otherwise my little boy will be heartbroken.” And as she loved her boy so much, she walked into the forest to search for My Bear. She walked and walked in the maze of trees that seemed to walk. Fearless, she crossed every bog and clearing, trying to find the lost toy. And as if by design, she saw My Bear, sitting on a stone. But as she approached the stone, a figure appeared from behind it… It was thin as a skeleton, with eyes cold as the heart of winter. It stepped forward and glared at the mother. The mother didn’t know what to do, but she wanted to have the toy, so she tried her luck and asked: “Can I have that toy on the rock, please?” But even though she was polite, the figure didn’t step back. Suddenly, the mother felt how the cold gaze from the ghost’s eyes turned her into ice… and she got frozen. And everything could have ended there. When people heard that the mother had disappeared into the Old Forest without coming back, they started to talk about a rescue mission. But as they knew how ghostly and dangerous the forest can be, nobody wanted to volunteer and rescue the mother. The boy who never spoke watched the forest silently. Suddenly, he went towards the entrance and stepped in. And as he stepped in, he instantly knew deep in his heart that he was safe. For this was the forest of his dreams. In his eyes, it was a magical, peaceful and soothing place. And the forest trusted him too, that boy who was wild at heart too. He walked in the maze of the trees like he was at home, never flinching. Finally, he reached the place where My Bear sat on the rock, and his mother was standing in front of it, frozen. As he came to the rock, the ghost appeared again. But the boy didn’t say a word to it… he didn’t even look at its eyes. He looked at My Bear who smiled happily as ever. And the boy walked to the toy and took it from the rock, and then he returned to his mother. Silently, he took his mother’s hand and waited. And then, the mother began to thaw. She was horror-struck, but couldn’t utter a word. Before the mother could look back at the ghost, the boy pulled her away, leading her away to safety. The ghost looked at them angrily, but no one didn’t look at it to see its anger. Finally, the boy and the mother got away from the Old Forest. The mother told the others what had happened. “How on earth did he manage to get you free from that evil spirit?” the others wondered. The mother smiled. “Sometimes it is good to be silent and ignorant of things that happen around you,” the mother said. “He might be peculiar to us, but who knows, there might be a beautiful forest inside him too.” So, this was the story about the boy who didn’t speak… Well, it is an invented story, but it is based on a wee lad I happen to know. He never listens to my stories and speaks very little… But sometimes words can be overrated. There are places where they won’t help you. Sometimes the things we do are more meaningful than words. We should all remember that. Here is a picture of the boy and the toy who inspired me to write this story: He loves running, hugging trees and lanterns, and he eats like a full-grown hobbit! And above all things, he loves his Mai-karhu.