Isabelle and Alastair gazed at the sight of the rainbow pulsing with the red rose of love and the orange ray of the morning sun.
“Dear Rainbow,” whispered Isabelle, “Where do we find your bright yellow?”
Then the two children did what all children do when they have a question they need answered. They went to their mother as she bustled about the warm kitchen surrounded by the smell of baking bread.
“Mother,” they asked, “Where do we find the yellow of the rainbow?”
Their mother smiled and in her smile it seemed all world was awash with golden light. “Well,” she said, “Yellow is the colour of gold. It is the colour of Isabelle’s hair in the sunshine and of fresh honey straight from the bee hive.”
Then she made them sandwiched covered in honey with her warm bread straight from the oven and sent them off with a kiss.
“I think mother is right,” said Alastair, licking the honey off his fingers. “Yellow is the colour of treasure, but where can we find treasure?”
“Well,” said his sister slowly, “I think it depends on what the treasure is you are looking for?”
“What do you mean?” asked Alastair.
“I mean that treasure is different for each person. Some people may want golden coins, a young wife may want a child or a hungry family a loaf of bread.”
They sat and thought about it for a long while, wondering what type of treasure the rainbow would like.
“Maybe,” said Alastair slowly, “It isn’t what kind of treasure it is, it is why it matters and what it means that is important.”
“What does it mean?” asked Isabelle.
“It means success and reward,” said Alastair.
“Yes, and joy and confidence,” added Isabelle.
“It’s a bright future.”
“And fresh bread and honey,” said Isabelle.
“It is the treasure hidden inside things you would never imagine hid something of value,” thought Alastair aloud.
“That’s right,” exclaimed Isabelle, “And the same for people. Sometimes the people hide their own treasure inside themselves and can’t find it.”
“I think I know what we need to do,” said Alastair.
The children walked into the valley where they knew they would find Melissa, Keeper of the Bees.
As they drew near they heard the strange humming music from the bees at work and stopped to breathe in the sweet scent of the blooming flowers.
“Look, Alastair,” Isabelle pointed to a thick cloud of bees, “There she is.”
Sure enough in the heart of the swarm of bees was the figure of Melissa dancing to their music.
“I think we should stay here,” said Alastair, “If we gave her a fright they might sting her.”
“I don’t think they would ever sting her, she’s their queen,” laughed Isabelle.
Melissa waved at the children and the bees flew from her. She looked as if she was created from honey herself, with golden hair that flowed down her back and soft golden skin.
“It is not often that I have visitors here,” said Melissa in voice thick with honey.
“I am Isabelle, and that is my brother Alastair,” said Isabelle, “We are trying to save the rainbow and we thought you might be able to help us.”
“Tell me about it?” Melissa asked.
Alastair took a deep breath, “Please could we have a little of your honey so that we can bring the yellow of the rainbow back to her?”
“Why do you think my honey will work?” asked Melissa.
“Honey is the golden treasure you find inside the hive. It is the joy of life and the promise of tomorrow, and when you look at the hive, you’d never think such gold would lie inside it.” said Isabelle.
“You are right,” said Melissa smiling, “But I cannot give you what you seek, you must ask the bees first.”
Soon Isabelle and Alastair found themselves standing quite still as Melissa called the bees to her.
“They will not sting you, but they need to make sure you are worthy of their gift,” said Melissa.
The swarms of bees covered the children from head to toe, humming and buzzing as they walked all over them.
Suddenly they took flight and returned to Isabelle.
“You have done well,” she said to the children, “The bees can tell that your hearts are pure and they will grant your wish.”
Melissa filled a jar with golden honey and said, “This should help your rainbow, the bees have given you a very special gift, they have added Royal Jelly from the queen to aid you. The honey in this jar is able to cure the sick and banish sadness from the soul. Use it wisely.”
“Thank you, Lady Melissa,” the children said and watched as she surrounded herself once more with the bees and danced across the meadow.
As they walked along the paths home, they heard a woman weeping. Without stopping, they turned and ran towards the sound.
They found their way to a small house and inside they saw a woman on her knees crying desperately.
Isabelle ran to her and put her arms around the woman, “What is the matter? How can we help you?” she asked.
“No-one can help me,” cried the woman, “My child was bitten by a snake and even now he slips further and further away from me into death.”
“Maybe we can help,” said Alastair, “May we see him?”
The children went further into the small dark room and found a little boy, no more than 5, lying as if already dead on a small wooden bed.
Carefully Isabelle opened the jar of honey and poured the golden syrup into the boy’s mouth. As soon as the honey touched his tongue his eyes opened and he smiled.
The boy’s mother embraced him and now her tears were of joy and no longer of sorrow.
Quietly, Isabelle and Alastair, left the house and continued on their way.
Soon they met a young man on the road and walked with him for a way.
“Where are you going?” they asked him.
“I am journeying to find a healer for my sister,” he said, “She had a voice like none you have ever heard and when she sang the angels wept it was so beautiful. Last winter her husband took ill and died and since then she has not spoken a word.”
“She must be very sad,” said Isabelle.
“We have something that might help,” said Alastair.
Very carefully he poured some of the honey into a little bottle and gave it to the young man.
“Go home and give this to your sister. It will banish her sadness and free her from her grief.” said Alastair.
The young man thanked them and ran back towards his sister, hope blossoming in his heart.
“We only have a little left,” said Alastair, “We must be careful of the rest.”
They were almost home when they heard an animal cry out in pain in the woods. They could not ignore it so they followed the sound into the trees. There they found a beautiful golden stag caught within a hunter’s trap. They struggled to free him, but soon they realised that he was badly hurt and would soon die of his injuries.
They did not stop to think, but gave the stag what remained of the honey. He stood to his feet and bowed his huge antlers in thanks before turning and galloping away.
The children went straight to the rainbow and explained what had happened to them. Sadly, they opened the jar and were only able to get out one small drop of the honey.
Isabelle wept, “I am so sorry there is no more left.”
As the children bowed their heads and prepared to turn away a beautiful yellow light shone from the rainbow.
They heard a child laughing, a woman singing and saw golden stag leap over the rainbow.
Astonished they watched as the rainbow’s yellow arc filled with colour.
As they looked around they saw the Lady Melissa and her bees. She smiled at them and said, “You have helped save many treasures this day, a small child, a grieving widow, the king of the stags and the rainbow. The honey alone would not have saved the rainbow, only your spirit and goodness of heart could do that.”
Note: Melissa comes from the Greek word μέλισσα (melissa), “honey bee”, which in turn comes from μέλι (meli), “honey”. According to Greek mythology, Melissa was a nymph who discovered and taught the use of honey and from whom bees were believed to have received their name. The bee was an emblem of Potnia, the Minoan-Mycenaean “Mistress”, also referred to as “The Pure Mother Bee”. Her priestesses received the name of “Melissa” (“bee”). In addition, priestesses worshipping Artemis and Demeter were called “Bees”. The Delphic priestess is often referred to as a bee, and Pindar notes that she remained “the Delphic bee” long after Apollo had usurped the ancient oracle and shrine.
It seemed fitting to do something positive with the time on my hands and so I decided to finally get around to writing some more of my daughter’s story.
To read the beginning chapters link here: