19 September, 2017 by katelaity
‘Is it magic?’ Tansy asked with an unhealthy air of interest.
‘I do not know if it is really magic,’ the lady said with a thoughtful pause, taking Tansy’s arm as they walked along the path. ‘Fruits are sweeter in our trees, corn grows more swiftly and the milk of our goats is more luscious than yours. Perhaps it is the dirt itself.’
‘But is it another land or simply another part of the same lands?’ Chambers seemed most eager to record every thing for his notes. He was forever stopping to scribble something in the margins of his book then dashing after us again. The pace was rather less than leisurely and I would have gladly dawdled more along the way for it was indeed very fine country we were passing through. I had no concern whether it was the same country or not. Beauty is beauty.
But when we reached the gardens, Tansy for one was in raptures. I must admit, it was a pretty sight. There was something distinctly medieval about it to my eyes. Maybe not the rows of little apple trees which blossomed prettily in the sun, though they did seem rather more picturesque than the gnarled ones I remember from my gran’s orchard. They quite frightened me in the evenings when I was but a boy, for they seemed grotesquely alive in the darkness at day’s end. These fairy trees offered a rustic charm that quite delighted the eye.
But the chief appeal was the walled garden at the center of the greenery. Even from a distance we could see through the open door to a burst of colour. The green hedges surrounding the lush flowers were clipped into various amusing shapes that brought smiles to our faces.
‘How I should like to have a picnic right here!’ Tansy said, impulsively throwing himself to the soft green grass below his feet. He lolled quite like an undergraduate on the banks of the Cam.
‘We should be starved when we return to our lands,’ Chambers scolded. ‘We cannot eat fairy foods. What is it Miss Rossetti wrote?
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us.’
Tansy laughed. ‘But these are not goblin fruit. Are they, mademoiselle?’
The Lady Ælfscinu peeped from under the parasol she had erected against the bright day’s sunlight. I noted for the first time how very pale her cheek was despite its blush of pink. So pale was her skin that it was almost transluscent and almost seemed to glow in the light. Perhaps she was a fairy after all.
‘I am not entirely certain that we mean the same thing by “goblin” I fear,’ she said at last. ‘The goblins we know do not have fruit trees at all.’
‘Perhaps they are only tradesmen, bartering like wholesalers. Perhaps working from carts would suggest that.’
Tansy made a sound of great annoyance. ‘Who cares about merchants when it is all so lovely here. I rather think we should sing.’
‘Oh no, not sing!’ The shining lady seemed quite adamant about that and for the first time looked slightly abashed.
‘Why ever not?’ Tansy asked, curious at once.
‘We might wake him,’ the lady Judith said with slight consternation.
She pointed across the garden to a darkened corner. Under a green gage tree there lay a figure whose shape was not at once clear, but his crown was. A king?!