Y - The Mirror of Dilgirth
The Mirror of Dilgirth.
Sam kicked the empty can, hard, and watched as it flew across
the road and come to a noisy, skittering halt in the gutter. Fed up,
rotten well fed up, he thought. Sam was a nice, friendly, intelligent
and open young boy all of which made him totally unsuitable for life in
an inner city school.
School demanded that he belong to one gang or another; if you
played with x it meant that you should not play with y or you couldn't
be in that gang. All Sam wanted to do was to be who he was and play
with who he liked. This often led, like today, to trouble in the
playground when an older boy, Leon, had been picking on, James, a new
boy. James had done nothing, just been in the wrong place at the wrong
time. Sam had gone over to mediate and it had turned into a pushing
match and a teacher had had to come and separate them. Sam was really
miffed because all he was trying to do was help and now he might have a
detention. He found a stone to kick. Bang, take that.
Tonight he thought he'd take a long slow walk through the
park; taking the long way home so he could put off telling his mum the
As he shambled across the park he found many other rocks and
stones to rearrange until something caught his eye. It looked like a
big stone but it was the wrong shape and colour. He picked it up and
examined it for a while then, putting it in his pocket, continued his
slow trudge home.
At home, Sam's mum listened to his long tearful story of what
had happened at school and gave him a big hug. 'Don't worry, I'll sort
it out.' She said. 'I'll call the school tomorrow and sort it out'.
Sam had tea with his family and went to his room to do his
homework. Once he had completed his work he suddenly remembered his new
find. He withdrew his prize from his pocket and started to examine it.
It was hard, larger than a fifty pence piece and covered in a hard
crust of filth and mud. He tried to wash it in the bathroom and found
that in parts it shone. He returned to his room and examined it again.
Maybe if it's pretty I can give it to mum, he thought and rubbed a bit
more. This time the crust gave way and beneath it he found a gleaming
piece of glass like a piece of a mirror.
Wow! He thought, cool. He held it up to the light and watched
as reflections danced around the room. Really cool!
He charged down stairs with his treasure and ran excitedly
into the living room where his Mum, Dad and brother where watching the
'Look. Look at this, it's really great. I found it in the
'Bring it here. Let's have a look.' Said his Dad, Geoff.
'Looks like part of an old mirror or something. It's not sharp but mind
'It's for Mum', said Sam. 'It's treasure that I
Mum smiled, took his token and examined it. 'You're right'
she said, 'it's really beautiful. Thanks very much, it's a wonderful
'It looks like a pile of poo to me,' said Nelson, Sam's older
brother, and went back to the football.
'Come here.' said Mum, Anne, with arms outstretched and gave
Sam a huge hug that left him beaming. 'Will you look after it for me
for a while; I'd hate to lose it?'
Sam blushed. 'I'll look after it for you'.
'Thanks heaps Sam, you are wonderful. Said Anne and plonked a
huge kiss on his cheek. Sam immediately tried to rub the offending kiss
away but, nevertheless, was proud that his mother had entrusted him
with the task of guarding the treasure.
Sam scampered back to his room feeling a mile high. After one
last look, he placed his treasure under his pillow and lay back on the
bed. He could hear the football downstairs but he was happy to stand
guard. Instead, he spent his time in flights of fancy as to where his
prize had come from, occasionally, withdrawing it to watch it twinkle
and shine in the bedroom light. After the match, Anne and Geoff came to
check he had brushed his teeth and tucked him into bed.
That night Sam slept fitfully. He had a strange dream in
which Mr Wilkinson, the Geography teacher, was telling him a long
involved story. They were sat around a camp fire and Wilko was speaking
slowly and carefully. As Wilko spoke and stirred the fire Sam began to
see the story that he told pictured in the flying embers:
'In a time before now, in a place not so far away there was a
friendly, peaceful village of a few hundred people called Dilgirth. The
villagers did not have much but what they had they shared. No one went
hungry, or stole. People worked together and things generally worked.
The young people of the village, if they left, did so with regret. In
the village the young felt valued, their voices were heard and they
were truly involved in the development of their lands.
Travellers often remarked on their hospitality and
friendliness and looked forward to returning. The village was a haven
for them away from the rigours of the outside world. Unlike the outside
world where people could be two-faced and dishonest, Dilgirth people
where as you saw them.
Much conjecture there was as to why the people of this one
place could be so warm honest and friendly when many of their
neighbours where grasping and avaricious. Over many years a whisper
came about, 'The Mirror of Dilgirth?'
The Mirror of Dilgirth was the whisper but no one could say
exactly what it was. When travellers began to ask about the mirror the
villagers simply answered, 'It is our teacher, our pride and our power,
it makes us what we are in the world. Without it we would be as lost as
all those in your world.' It was a standard answer and that was all
they would ever say.
Time passed and the world outside continued to fight among
themselves to gain land, wealth or ascendancy over each other whilst
the villagers of Dilgirth grew quietly and peacefully more prosperous.
As the world turned to ruin, avaricious eyes turned to Dilgirth. People
sought to possess the 'power' that was manifest in the mirror of
The most powerful and dangerous of the curious was Hugo, a
warlord, who had conquered many of the surrounding villages and
enslaved their populations or put them to the sword. He decided that he
should possess the much vaunted mirror and despatched a company of men
to demand the mirror. The villagers did not fight; they could not
fight, they had neither the weapons, the knowledge or the skills
required for warfare; the village had been at peace for so long.
However, they declined to part with the mirror. Many emissaries went to
plead or negotiate with Hugo but each returned to the village beaten or
mutilated. Hugo wanted no parlay; he wanted the mirror.
Finally, after some weeks had passed, Hugo's patience was
exhausted. In the early hours of the morning his troopers advanced on
the sleeping village and dragged the populace from their beds. Silently
they stood and stared at the armed legion.
Hugo addressed them in the square, towering over them on his
'Give me the mirror and I will leave you in
Villagers murmured and shook their heads; finally, an old man
came forward and, in voice that belied his age, spoke clearly and
firmly. 'The mirror is our teacher, our pride and our power; it makes
us what we are in the world. Without it we would be as lost as all
those in your world.'
'This I have heard', replied Hugo. 'However, I have not come
to bargain with you. I will have the mirror or you will all die. The
lucky ones quickly, the others slowly and painfully. The choice is
The old man turned to look at his fellow villagers and,
returning his gaze to Hugo replied, 'Without the mirror we are as the
dead, so do as you will. We have no power here except the choice of our
decision to defy you and your men.'
Hugo's face grew dark with anger.
The old man continued. 'The mirror will bring you no joy and
no wealth like this, the mirror can only teach those who wish to learn.
Do you wish to learn?'
'I also teach,' snarled Hugo, pointing to the old man. As
his arm lowered the old man fell to the ground pierced by a dozen
'Is that your choice, your free choice, will you all
This time an old woman advanced. 'Have the mirror for all the
good it will do you and leave us in peace. It is wrapped and hidden
behind the paintings and wall hangings in the meeting
Hugo thanked her sarcastically and despatched four men to the
meeting house to retrieve the mirror.
The woman melted back into the crowd and continued, with the
rest of the villagers to stare silently at Hugo and his
After a while the troops returned with a box the height of a
man and two hands wide. The villagers gasped.
'Old woman', bellowed Hugo. 'Is this the
'Yes', came a voice from the crowd.' You hold the Mirror of
Dilgirth, use it wisely.'
'Thank you for the advice', replied Hugo. 'Now, to show you
I am a man of my word, I will leave you in peace.' Turning to his
lieutenant he spoke.' Give them peace, lieutenant.'
The lieutenant barked an order and wave after wave of arrows
fell on the cowering people. Some tried to run but were cut down by the
ring of swordsmen, others stood there ground holding hands, but none
When the slaughter was done Hugo slid from his horse,
despatched the guards to check the corpses and houses for jewellery or
other riches and began to unwrap his new treasure. As the layers of
skins and bindings fell away he found his heart racing. He was now the
possessor of this, the mythical mirror, the greatest treasure of the
age. As the last wrapping was removed Hugo held up the mirror and
stared. As he stared, his mouth fell open, his eyes narrowed in shock
and surprise. Suddenly he screamed. He screamed a wild scream, the
scream of the possessed. For a while it was as if the mirror was as
fire in his hands but he could not put it down. The screaming continued
until the lieutenant pulled it from has hands and threw it face down
upon the blood sodden earth.
'My lord, my lord. Are you displeased?'
'Destroy it. Smash the accursed mirror into a million pieces
where it lies and scatter them to the four corners of the world. It is
an instrument of the devil, it must be completely destroyed.' He
shrieked; eyes wild and spittle flying. 'This godless place must be
wiped from the face of the earth. Let no two stones lie together, let
no roof remain standing, let no kine, no fowl, no creature that walks
or crawls in this village live. Do you understand?'
Great was the warlords displeasure and none would disobey
him. Had his mood been more calm he might have asked himself, Where are
'Yes, my lord.' Replied the lieutenant. 'It will be
And so it was. The mirror was rent by axe, sword, boot and
hoof. The pieces were carefully gathered and carried by a dozen riders
to the furthest regions of the kingdom and buried in many locations,
piece by piece, as the warlord had commanded. No two pieces lay
together. The village was razed and it's stones strewn across the
countryside. The bodies of the dead villagers were burnt on a massive
pyre and the ashes scattered to the four winds.
But don't forget the children. The children had been
spirited out to their relatives in other villages and were taught the
ways of their people. They were sworn to secrecy for their own
protection as Hugo was crazy for vengeance for the rest of his life.
Which, happily, was not long?
A few weeks after the attack on the Dilgirth Hugo died. He
was completely insane; out of his mind and eaten up by whatever he saw
in the mirror that day. As the children of the Dilgirth grew they where
charged with the sacred task of finding the shards of the mirror and
reconstructing it so that peace would again return to their lands.
However, as time went on it became apparent that this would not be
possible. Hugo's rage had been visited upon the Dilgirth and the mirror
had to all intents and purposes been totally destroyed and wiped from
the face of the earth. But the people of Dilgirth did not give up. Over
the years, decades and centuries the Dilgirth and their ancestors
continued their search and sometimes they where successful.
Occasionally, a part of the original mirror would be found and
collected and returned to their homeland.
You see, the mirror calls to the Dilgirth ancestors when it
is activated. But it is only activated when it is found by someone who
is honest and truthful. Like you Sam, like you. I am a child of the
Dilgirth and the mirror called to me when you found and cleaned it.
Guard it carefully, we will speak soon.
Now you must rest, you have school tomorrow.'
In the morning Sam awoke especially early. He had had an amazing dream
and he really needed to tell his Mum and Dad about it, like now. He
bounded into their bedroom and leapt on the bed. 'Mum, Mum, Dad, Dad. I
was round a camp fire with Mr Wilkinson, he told me a story; my
treasure is treasure a big treasure.'
Geoff and Anne yawned and stretched. 'Get in', they mumbled
together. 'Tell us at breakfast, ok?'
'Sleep now, talk later.'
Three hours later, at breakfast, Sam told them all about his
crazy dream and said that he was taking his treasure to school to show
Mr Wilkinson. Geoff and Anne agreed. It was much easier than trying to
Sam retrieved the mirror piece from under his pillow and,
somehow, it seemed to be different, it seemed to have grown larger,
brighter and clearer. As he looked into the shard Sam could see his
face reflected but it was wrong. It was surrounded by a halo of bright,
white light which grew the more Sam stared into the glass. He started
to pull faces and he noticed that happy faces made the mirror brighter
and sad faces made it dim. So Sam smiled and the mirror 'smiled' back.
That's it, thought Sam. It's about being happy. The mirror magnifies
what you give it so a happy person will see happiness and a sad person
will see sadness.
'Sam? Time for school,' came Anne's voice from the kitchen.
'C'mon, we'll be late'.
'Coming Mum', Sam shouted back. He placed the mirror in his
pocket, picked up his satchel and came down the stairs two at a
Anne kissed Sam goodbye and watched as he wandered into the
playground, then started her walk home.
Sam hung around in the playground with some of his mates for
a while and was just about to tell them about the mirror when he saw Mr
Wilkinson walking through the school gates. Wilko saw Sam and lifted
one finger to his lips as if to say, Shhh, and carried on walking on
towards the school's front entrance. Sam stopped in mid sentence and
decided to try and talk to Wilko before school started. He grasped the
mirror in his hand and raced toward the entrance. He had not gone three
steps before he cannoned into something big and solid. He was knocked
to the ground and the precious shard of Dilgirth flew from his hand. He
quickly picked himself up and searched urgently for the
'Are you looking for this?' Inquired Leon, the bully from
the previous day.
'Give that back', shouted Sam. I've got to give it to Mr
'Don't think so,' replied the bigger boy. 'It's mine now,
'No, you can't do that. I've got to take it to
'It's mine now and I say it stays with me. What do you
A crowd had now started to gather and Sam stood tall and
said in a loud voice. 'Use it wisely.'
Leon replied, 'I'll do what I like thanks'.
Sam continued to stand his ground.
'I think I'll take a closer look at my new toy', said Leon
with a laugh in his voice.
He held the mirror up to the light and took a closer look.
His face froze, his eyes turned wild and a scream built up in his
throat. It started as a low rumble, built to a blood curdling roar and
then settled in a loud, painful whine. The observant children noticed a
wet patch growing at Leon's feet.
Just as Sam doubted that the scream would ever end, Mr
Wilkinson pushed his way through the crowd and tore the mirror from
Leon's hand. Leon's scream subsided to a whine; his eyes where filled
with tears and he had great trails of snot running from his nose.
'Break it up you lot, show's over.' Shouted Wilko as other
teachers came to assist. 'Take Leon to the sick room. Sam, come with
Sam obediently followed Mr Wilkinson to an empty form room
and sat down at a desk in the front row as Wilko closed the
'Will he be alright?' Asked Sam.
'I don't know', replied the teacher. 'It depends on how
strong he is and what sort of person he is.'
'I don't understand', said Sam.
'It's simple and it's not', said Wilko smiling. 'You looked
in the mirror and you saw happy, good things because that's the kind of
by you are. For instance, you even bothered to ask if Leon would be Ok.
It's questionable if he would do that if the shoe was on the other
I can't be sure what Leon saw when he looked in the mirror but I can
only guess he saw a reflection of all the horrible things he has done
to other boys and the emptiness and sadness in his life. That's what
drove Hugo crazy; seeing all the evil he had done, how it had affected
his life and the hopelessness he felt. He saw all that and it drove him
The Dilgirth where taught from birth to know themselves and to be at
peace with themselves and that is why the mirror brought them only joy.
They could see the joy within themselves and where determined to let
their light shine, that's why they could be truly happy and
Sam was shuffling his feet, agitated. 'Sir, I had a dream
'Yes, Sam. I know. I was there.'
'But how, Sir?'
'The mirror. When it is activated it calls to the children
of the Dilgirth. Your kindness made it all possible. If you had just
left it where you found it it might not have been found, but you did
something selfless when you found it and that's how I found you'.
'I gave it to my Mum as a present,' chimed
'That would be it', said Wilko. 'That would do it. Listen
Sam', he continued. 'I have something very important to tell you.
Whatever happens I need you to remember that you are a very special
boy. Not many people are able to find the mirror, activate it and
survive unscathed. It means that you are honest and have a good heart.
Whatever happens, wherever you go, remember that for
Sam shuffled his feet. He wasn't quite sure what it all meant
but he knew Mr Wilkinson was telling him something
'Off to class now, Sam'.
'Yes, Sir'. He replied and headed off for his English
When Sam arrived home he did his best to tell his parents and Nelson
everything that had happened that day and apologised to his Mum for
giving her present away. She seemed to be ok about it and told him that
when she had phoned the school the headmistress had said he would not
have to take a detention so everything was fine.
The following day at school was strange. Sam was the centre
of attention in the playground. Everyone wanted to know what he had
done to Leon. Sam told them the truth; he had done nothing. He even
overheard some teachers saying that Leon had refused to return to the
Later, at assembly, it was announced that Mr Wilkinson had
gone away to look after his sick mother and was unlikely to return. Sam
felt a bit sad as he still had many questions to ask but as the day
went on he forgot all the questions and got on with being a boy, a very