In the long-ago times, when Naboo was just past her first blooming, there lived a loving
family of a husband, a wife, and their young daughter. They were weavers by trade, and
hard workers, but poor.
In the year that the daughter, whose name was Alw?, turned eight, the family moved from
their longtime home in the warm lowlands of Naboo to a cooler climate in the northern
"For where it is cold," said Alw??s father, "there will be more need for our wares."
So they set up house in the hill country. Alw??s father repaired their motorized spinning
wheel and loom and tended to making their little home snug and warm. Alw??s mother
took wools and linens and cottons, and, with her skilled fingers to guide the loom, turned
them into cloaks and shawls and blankets. Every market-day Alw? went into town with a
bundle of her mother?s goods on her back. Most days she came home with nearly as
many goods as she had brought, and just a bit of bread or a few credits in her pocket, but
this was enough to provide simple meals for her family, and they were happy.
The months passed, and the days drew more swiftly to their close. When Alw? made her
way home after a day at the market, stars dotted the sky.
One evening as she traveled home from the market with one of her schoolmates, the first
snowflakes of winter began to fall.
"What is this?" cried Alw?, who had never seen snow. "Are the stars falling?"
"No," laughed her friend, "It is frozen water, called snow. In the wintertime it falls in
place of rain."
"Ah," said Alw?, but privately she thought the snowflakes looked like stars, and would
have stayed where she was just to watch them fall, but the wind grew chill and the sky
dark, and she had to go home.
"Papa," she asked her father that night after the evening meal, "are the stars made of
Her father laughed heartily at that, and drew her onto his knee.
"No, my child," he said, "What do they teach you in that school of yours? No, the
stars are quite the opposite of frozen water; they are made of fire, like the lights you see
in a swamp, or in your mother?s neon lamp. They are much bigger than a lamp, though.
Bigger than you or me, bigger than this town, bigger even than this planet." And he
launched into a merry tale of the dancing of the stars.
Alw? listened intently, for she loved to hear her father?s stories, but privately she thought
that perhaps snowflakes were little bits of stars that broke off and froze on their way to
The next week, at the end of market-day, it began to snow again. Alw? had sold no wares
that day, and traveled slowly and alone. She paused in her walking to look up at the sky
and feel the fresh snow kissing her face. It was very pleasant, but she soon found that the
snow fell much more thickly than it had the week before. In the time she had been
standing there it had already blanketed the ground. So she hurried homeward.
It was slow going, and the snow fell faster and thicker as night clouds covered the sky.
Alw? was only halfway home when she was obliged to stop and rest. She could not see
more than a few feet in front of the place where she was.
There were no houses nearby, but by good fortune she had stopped at the base of a tall
marble statue. It was a likeness of Queen Elsinor? den Tasia, the woman responsible for
the colonization of the planet by the Naboo. The Queen held her arms outwards, as
though in welcome, or in preparation for an embrace. The folds of her robes, white as the
snow, hung down from her arms to her feet and created a little three-sided hollow; into
this hollow crept Alw?, bundle and all, and pulled her cloak tight about her to wait out
She did not know how long she sat there, huddled in Queen Elsinor??s robes, but when
the snow abated and the sky cleared it was still night. She stepped out and made a little
curtsey to the statue.
"Thank you, Your Majesty," she said. Then she saw that if the statue were alive it could
never have heard her, for its head and face and arms were covered in snow.
"N?, n?, this will never do," said Alw?, and taking a shawl from the pack on her back she
carefully brushed every trace of snow from the statue. It was difficult to reach the top
parts, but she was resolute, and when she had finished she tied the shawl round the
statue?s head as a kerchief. Then she took a blanket from her pack and tied that round
the statue?s shoulders as a shawl.
Satisfied with her work, Alw? bid the statue goodnight and ran home, the moon lighting
When she arrived, her parents were most relieved to see her, and smothered her in hugs
and kisses. Then her mother asked how the market-day had gone.
"I sold nothing," admitted Alw?, "But I gave a shawl and a blanket to the statue of Queen
Elsinor?, to keep off the snow. I will repay you somehow, I promise."
"N?," said her father, "It is a good and a right thing you have done, to honor our
ancestress. Knowing the work of our hands has been used for such a purpose is its own
So Alw? went to bed tired but content, and her parents too slept soundly.
The next day, Alw? had to pass the statue on her way to school. As she drew near, she
saw that the shawl and the blanket were gone, and she was distressed to think that
someone must have taken them.
Then, it seemed out of nowhere, a woman appeared. On her head she wore a kerchief,
and round her shoulders a shawl, and as Alw? looked from the face of the woman to the
face of the statue she saw they were one and the same. In great wonder she curtseyed to
the woman, her face to the ground.
"Do not be afraid, my child," said the woman. "For your kindness I wish to reward you.
What is it your heart desires? Riches, wisdom, health and long life for you and your
family? Only name it and it is yours."
Alw? considered her words carefully before she spoke.
"O Lady," she said, "I and my family are poor but happy, for we love one another. I do
not believe that riches or wisdom or long life could make us happier. Therefore I desire
that all the people of Naboo should share the love and happiness of my family."
The woman beamed.
"That is a good and noble request," she said, "And because you have done this, and not
asked for blessings for yourself, I will grant your request for your people. Moreover, I
will bless you and yours; you will know peace and prosperity, and from your line will
come one who will be called the savior of her people ? and her children will be greater
Alw? curtseyed again, and the woman held up one long white hand.
"I will also give you a gift, that all you meet may know you speak the truth when you tell
of this day," she said. She extended her hand to Alw?. Resting on her palm was a small
faceted stone, white as the snow. When Alw? touched it, it was cold as ice, but within it
burned a flame bright as the sun.
"It is a piece of a star," said the woman, "that broke off from its home, and froze in the
deeps of space on its way here."
Alw? accepted the gift silently, for her heart was too full for words. The woman smiled,
and vanished. Alw? tucked the stone into her pocket, and hurried to school, full of the
wonder of what she had seen and heard.
After that day, Alw? wore the stone close to her heart as a remembrance. It is said she
was the kindest, gentlest, most generous soul that ever walked the earth of Naboo. And
all the days of Alw??s life, the Naboo knew no sadness beyond what is common to man;
indeed, they knew most uncommon happiness.
Original cover by Cosmic. Illustrations by Wilhelmina. HTML formatting copyright 2003