Once upon a time, a little girl wished with all her heart that she could play with the stars in the night sky. Her parents gave her everything -- dolls and dresses, tin toys and trinkets, cookies and cakes. But the little girl only wanted the stars.
So one day she decided she would find them. She put on her bonniest bonnet and her most beautiful dress, and she set off.
She walked and walked, up steep hills, through forests, across wide lawns, past croquet, lacrosse and polo games, until at long last she reached a mill dam, and she said to the miller, "I'm looking for the stars. Have you seen them?"
"Indeed I have," the miller said. "Every night they shine so brightly I can barely see. I see them in the sky and in the water."
Hearing this, without hesitation the little girl leaped into the water. She began to swim past otters and schools of bright fish, past minnows and boats, but no matter how hard she looked, she did not find the stars.
When she reached a brook, and she called out, "Brook, I am looking for the stars. Have you seen them?"
The brook was bubbling loudly, and as the little girl listened, she began to understand the words: "The stars shine on my bank. Stay here and you'll surely see them."
The little girl paddled about until sunset in a rowboat, then climbed upon the other bank. The night was overcast with clouds, and she saw not a single star. So she wandered on, over hills and into valleys, until at long last she came to a hillock and saw a group of people no bigger than she was. She knew these must be the Fair Folk. They were dancing and singing, and they seemed so happy that she was sure they must know how to find stars.
"Excuse me," she said softly, stepping closer to them. "I'd like to play with the stars. Do you know where I can find them?"
One of the fairies smiled and said, "Of course, the stars shine on our grass at night. Dance with us and maybe one of them will decide to play with you."
So the little girl danced and danced until she was exhausted -- too exhausted to stand. She dropped into the grass and sighed, because she longed for the stars.
"What's wrong?" the Fair Folk asked.
"I walked, and I swam, and I paddled, and I ran, and I danced, and though everybody promised me otherwise, I fear I will never find the stars."
The Fair Folk began to whisper, and their voices were like the wind -- the moment the words were out of their mouths, they blew away. At last one of the female fairies took her hand and said, "Since you have left your home and your mother, you must go on. Walk forward, and you will find Four Feet who will carry you to No Feet, and No Feet will take you to the stairs that have no steps. Climb those and you'll find the stars."
The little girl was overjoyed at this news, and she turned to thank the young woman, but she was dancing again. The Fair Folk waved and said, "If you do not find the stars, you'll find something else ..."
The little girl walked on until she came to a pony tied to a tree. "I'm looking for the stars," she said. "The Fair Folk sent me to you, if you are Four Feet. Carry me to No Feet, please."
The little horse whinnied and said, "With pleasure, I do what the Fair Folk ask."
So she climbed upon his back, and off they rode. They galloped so long that the little girl thought they might never stop. But eventually they reached the edge of a wide blue sea where a long path glistened upon the water.
The great Gold Fish swam to shore. "You must be No Feet," the little girl said. And with this, Four Feet whinnied and turned away, back to where he came from.
The little girl continued, "The Fair Folk sent me to find you so you could take me to the staircase with no steps."
"Climb upon my back then," the Gold Fish said. The little girl settled herself on his back, and off they rushed through the water, along a golden path.
The girl was amazed to see an archway of colors before her, rising from the ocean to the sky.
"Here's your stairway with no steps," the Gold Fish said, "but it isn't made for little girls, I fear."
"Never mind!" the little girl cried with delight. Now she was sure she would reach the stars.
She leaped onto the stairway with no steps, and she began to climb and climb, but the light of the ocean water and the rainbow and the sun blinded her. She slipped and slid, and suddenly she was tumbling down.
She landed with a thud and slowly opened her eyes, realizing she was in her bed, tucked under the covers, surrounded by her dolls and plushies. Through the window she could see the stars twinkling at her, and she began to cry. "I'll never play with the stars," she sobbed, but she understood. She would watch the stars, and she would wish upon them, but she would not possess them.
As she lay safely in bed with her dolls and stuffed animals, she thought over her adventures and began to realize that there are some things that we may not have. And with that pleasant thought, she fell fast asleep.
And of course she reached for the stars... in her dreams, that would fade as soon as she awoke in the morn... but what matters is that she finally reached the stars.