The Secret Keeper






The Secret Keeper by Kate Coombs


The people of Maldinga take their unpleasant secrets to Kalli, the secret-keeper. A baker tells her that he sells bread that weighs less than full measure, a matchmaker reveals that she lied about a groom’s merits, and a rich man discloses that he refused to help a beggar that came to his home. Only Taln, a potter, does not bring secrets. Instead, Kalli visits his shop and they enjoy friendly conversations. One winter, she becomes ill, and it is only when the villagers share some happy confidences with her (My mama and I dance in the meadow) that she regains her health. Then Taln arrives to reveal his own hidden thoughts–I love the secret-keeper.

A few years back when my first girl was a wee one, we stumbled upon this yarn at the library. It has drifted in and out of my thoughts ever since. Haunting in that good way. This owl above (Bracken) was influenced by this story. Mine is a little different… Bracken was born mysteriously without the ability to speak, thus making her and exceptional listener. The animals of the forest come to her with all varieties of secrets, happy and sad knowing she can never reveal them. Once whispered to her or into the small doors of her home they turn to pearls, jewels and the occasional lump of coal. A cup of tea is always warm an waiting for the next soul desperate to be rid of thier secret.

And yes those doors really open. Behind them are the little jewels, pearls. I am always bothered by a door placed to inspire one’s imagination that is sealed shut. I much rather have it open to reveal an empty cavern. We have one really sweet door of the such on a trail by our home. Visitors are to bring a treasure to leave for the gnome that lives there and in return you can trade for a different treasure that has been left by another visitor. We have still to find them all. There are apparently many spread out along the trail.



About tinymatryoshka

artist, mom, fairytale lover
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6 Responses to The Secret Keeper

  1. Oh, God, now you’ve done it, Sharon! I ADORE doors in trees! So completely magical for children to come upon them and wonder! I love the metallic acorn did you find that or paint it?

    • tinymatryoshka says:

      I painted it of course with the same paint you were smitten with before. I am just going to send you a bottle for pete’s sake. So nice to be chatting with you today, feels like a nice cup of tea! xo.

  2. Oh GOD! I just read the part about the story! Man, doesn’t that sound a lot like my Answer Tree giving answers to questions? I thought of that w/o knowing about this wonderful tale! I LOVE IT!

    • tinymatryoshka says:

      Yes! so much so. and I am also reminded of the prayer walls that they make down south. just the thought of all that happiness and misery all in one place, put to rest in the earth. I think you must not be able to walk past either your tree or a prayer wall without being inexplicably shaken to tears!

  3. Kate Coombs says:

    Belated, I know, but I just came across this and was so pleased that the idea of a secret-keeper is appearing/evolving in other people’s thoughts and creative works. The owl is wonderful, as is the door in the tree! –Kate Coombs (AKA Book Aunt)

    • tinymatryoshka says:

      wow wow wow, I had to rub my eyes and clear the cobwebs in my brain to make sure you were the Kate Coombs of the same secret keeper story. So first… what an honor, I never anticipated when posting about your lovely story. And secondly, I really do have to tell you that your story really did affect some deeper permanent part of me. We read a lot of picture books, and I really mean a lot. I’m not as good with it with my now three year old but your story is such a touching tale. Thank you so much for reaching out and saying hello. Again, I never really imagine that anyone gives a hoot about what I post here. Just sort of post it out into that enormous black hole of an internet and believe maybe me and my sister actually take the time to read it. Glad you liked the owl, the woman who bought it was very taken with it and I shared your story with her as well. Happy Holidays! Sharon

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