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Elfa and Holger

Read about Elfa and Holger.

Who are Elfa and Holger?

The first thing they want you to know is that they are sister and brother!

Elfa is the elder, and that might explain why she’s the leader. Also, Holger is extremely shy. In fact, he’s so quiet that you hardly ever hear him speak. He relies on Elfa to speak up for him. Even though he’s quiet, Holger loves to play, and he sees the funny side of things. His eyes see everything. All the tiny details stand out around him. He just has a hard time letting you know—communicating.

However, Holger would like to share a special secret with you: He has a small pet, a little mouse, that he keeps in his pocket with him all the time. His mouse never leaves or runs away, as they are best friends.

Elfa is also quiet, but not quite as shy as Holger. She’s not afraid to do the talking for her brother and herself. She also knows how to read, which comes in handy at times.

Both Elfa and Holger are gentle and kind.

Even though they are children, Elfa and Holger live and work in a cotton mill. The mill turns the puffy cotton harvested from the fields into thread and cloth. Elfa is a spinner. Her job is to brush lint off the machines that spin thread onto cone shaped spools, called bobbins. All day long, she walks along the rows of machines, brushing and paying close attention to see if any threads have popped. When a thread breaks, she must stand on a box so that she can reach over and tie the ends together. Then, the bobbin can continue spinning. Her tiny hands are good for handling the thread, but Elfa looks even teenier than she is while next to those big, loud machines.

Holger is a sweeper. His job is much more fun than his sister’s. Going from room to room with his broom, he sweeps lint off the floor. He loves his freedom to move around the factory, and he also has time for play.

Both of their days start early, well before the sun rises, and continue into the night. Most nights, by the time they finish work, they are exhausted. Staying awake long enough to eat their dinner is hard, but they feel fortunate. They have a place to sleep and food to eat. Elfa and Holger also have friends, and that makes everything nearly all right.

But why are Elfa and Holger working in a cotton mill? Where are their parents?

Elfa and Holger are living on their own at the mill, but that was an accident. Their real home is far to the north, where it’s extremely cold and the wind always blows. In fact, Elfa and Holger are Wind Travelers. They get about on the wind.

Does that sound odd? Of course, it does, but not for Elfa and Holger. It’s what they know!

Wind Travelers have a special sense that tells them which direction the wind is blowing. Instinctively, they know just where it’s going. Even more exciting, if they want to go in the direction of the wind, they jump on and then jump off at the right time.

The jumping off part isn’t always perfect. The wind can be unpredictable, sometimes dropping off a Wind Traveler a little further or closer to the place he or she had in mind. Therefore, while Elfa and Holger can always catch a ride, they can never control the wind. Not even the most experienced Wind Traveler ever controls the wind.

That is why Elfa and Holger ended up in the mountains. It happened on a day when two winds were blowing in nearly in the same direction, but not quite. Elfa and Holger wanted to visit their grandmother. She lives on the other side of the lake. To reach her house, they needed to step onto the smaller wind. Instead, they stepped onto the larger, stronger wind. Oh, it was a powerful, dangerous wind!

Immediately, Elfa and Holger felt a horrible, sinking feeling in their stomachs—theone that creeps inside your body when you know something is about to go terribly wrong. They could do nothing but hold on and wait until the wind let them go, when the force of the wind finally died. At that time, they landed with a thud and a bump in the Tennessee Mountains. At first, they sat in silence. Shocked, they gazed at their surroundings and then looked at each other. The sister and brother were still stunned and silent over their situation, when Holger's mouse ran out of his sleeve, scurried up his arm and crawled through his hair, all the way to the top of Holger's head. Sniffing the air, the little mouse knew, too, that they were not just across the lake. They were somewhere else, far away from home.

Elfa broke the silence, saying, “It’s fine. We will find a new wind to take us back,Holger. Remember, I always have the map with me.” Holger said nothing. Even though he was younger, he was smart enough to know that such a strong wind was unusual. The three of them were stuck!

Knowing what her brother was thinking, Elsa said, “Let’s walk down into the valley. Maybe we will find something there and someone to help.”

So that is what they did. Elfa, Hoger and his little mouse went down the hill, through the woods and into the valley. Sure enough, they found something, the cotton mill, and someone, Mrs. Teabrewer.

Looking through the tall window of her office, Mrs. Teabrewer noticed Elfa and Holger standing and staring at the gate to the factory. She could recognize lost children any day. Lost children always had a sad feeling about them. They also fiddled with their fingers. Hence, she kindly invited them in for tea. Mrs. Teabrewer served hot lemon tea with honey and thick, heavy slices of shortbread, sprinkled with sugar. As the children drank and ate, they explained—well, Elfa explained—to Mrs. Teabrewer that they were lost.

“Bad weather,” Elfa began, “it was a terrible storm that separated Holger and me from our parents. We’re sure our Mommy and Daddy will come and find us—soon!” Elfa did not go into details about wind travel. Most people would find the news of Wind Travelers so strange that they would not believe it.

Mrs. Teabrewer knew nothing about wind travel, but she was a smart woman. Quickly, she figured out the important facts. Elfa and Holger needed meals and a place to stay. They were well-behaved children. They would be perfect for the mill. They could live and work there while they waited for their parents.

On that afternoon, she introduced Elfa and Holger to Mr. and Mrs. Bobbinhead, the husband and wife who ran the cotton mill. All agreed that Elfa and Holger could stay in the children’s house and work at the mill until their parents showed up.

To be continued...


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