It is over two years since I share the stories from Tales from The Garden that I wrote in tribute to our home in the mountains to the north of Madrid from 1999 to 2016. I went back and forth from Ireland for the first three years as I had my diet advisory clinic here, but finally sold our house, put the dog in the car and ferried and drove across the UK and Europe to live permanently. We inherited a number of statues from the previous owners that were too big to take with them, and I also found some discarded around the garden. Perfect characters for stories, some of whom moved on with us to Ireland and appeared in Tales from the Irish Garden.
Chapter Nine – The Boy, his Dog and a Fairy Princess
The toddler waddled across the damp grass, falling down from time to time with a resounding thump onto his backside. He giggled and struggled onto all fours until he could stand again. His blonde curly hair shone in the mid-morning sun and his old nurse looked on with pride as her young charge explored his domain.
There had been great joy at the boy’s birth. The owners of the house had waited many years and suffered terrible losses but finally, one bright winter’s day, the strong and healthy cry of a newborn was heard throughout the magic garden. The fairies beneath the magnolia tree held a celebration that night, and as the statues that guarded the garden came to life, music could be heard tinkling through the snow covered branches.
Eighteen months later the boy was beloved by all he came into contact with. His parents would have been astonished to find out that even the magical inhabitants of the garden adored him too. In fact, as he had slept in his carriage in the shade of the magnolia tree, he had been sprinkled with fairy dust to protect him.
Now as the young master played in the grass he was unaware that a young fairy had ventured out into the daylight. Normally the folk who lived beneath the magnolia only came out at night after the humans had gone to bed, but lured by the happy giggling of the infant, an inquisitive fairy had sneaked out of the palace gates.
As she perched on one of the branches her glittery purple wings drew the eye of the child. He focused on the shimmering vision in the tree and pointed with his little fingers at the young fairy. The two of them stared at each other for a brief moment until the spell was broken by the nurse sweeping the child up into her arms. But that brief moment was profound. A bond was formed that would grow stronger and stronger as the years passed.
With no other children in the family it was decided on the young master’s fifth birthday that he should be given a companion in the form of a robust puppy. As he played with the furry ball of love, he glanced upwards to the tree to see if his secret friend was watching. She was not there and even though he was still only a child, he felt sadness that the fairy was not present to share this special day.
Many years passed and the young boy and his dog grew to adulthood. They spent every free minute of the day together when the boy was not in school. They roamed the mountainside around the house and the dog slept at the end of the bed each night. As they played in the garden they were often observed. Cloaked with invisibility, the now teenage fairy princess kept a watchful and loving eye from her perch in the tree.
When the boy was eighteen years old; disaster struck. War was declared and he was conscripted into the local militia to protect the town and farms in the district. His terrified parents watched him march away through the gate in his polished black boots with his heavy knapsack. His old dog now weary with arthritis whined as he lay at their feet.
Days and nights passed and the humans lay in bed listening to the sound of canon fire in the distance. After many months of fighting the enemy forces retreated and the militia followed them to the borders. It had been several desperate weeks since they had word from their son and they feared the worst. They could also see that the old dog was losing his will to live as he pined away.
It seemed that the magic garden and all the inhabitants were holding their collective breath. Then one sunny morning, as the old and short-sighted dog wandered out to his position on the steps where he would lie all day watching the gate; a miracle occurred.
There before him was a pair of dusty black boots and excitedly the dog sniffed around the leather. He smelt his master and with his worn out heart beating like a bass drum, he followed the scent down the steps and around the back of the house.
Curled up in a ball beneath the magnolia tree was the body of a man with long dirty blonde hair and clothes that were torn and matted with filth. But the dog showed no hesitation as he licked the dirt from his beloved master’s face. The man stirred and reached out a hand to stroke the grey-tipped ears and tears streaked his mud covered face.
All night the man had been watched over by another creature whose own tears had fallen upon his body as he slept. The fairy princess had sat by his head as he tossed and turned in his troubled dreams, gently stroking his hair and whispering loving words to him. As he had calmed, she had gently snipped a lock of his long blonde hair and plaited it into a bracelet. She may never be able to love him in human ways but she would always wear this to keep him close.
The excited barking of the dog alerted the family and servants and they rushed out to the garden to find the reason for the uproar… As the delighted family embraced and then carried the young man into the house, the princess returned to the palace in the roots of the magnolia, where she found her stone-faced mother waiting for her in the throne room.
A few weeks later, when the returned soldier was fully recovered and peace had been declared, his parents decided to hold a ball for all their neighbours to celebrate. This was the first fiesta for many years and everyone dusted off their finery and the musicians from the town tuned up neglected instruments. The garden was festooned with garlands and tables were covered with a magnificent array of foods.
The handsome young host, now fully recovered greeted the guests but still glanced from time to time at the magnolia tree, wondering if perhaps he might catch a glimpse of his beautiful fairy. He began to move away to talk to his guests but a flash of turquoise caught his eye. As he turned his head a shimmering image appeared before him out of thin air and he caught his breath.
There, sat in a bower made of roses, was the most enchanting woman he had ever seen. She smiled and held out her hand to him. Around her delicate wrist he noticed a woven bracelet of blonde hair and gold that glistened in the sunlight. The instant they touched an electric charge raced from his fingertips to his heart and he knew who this beautiful stranger was.
‘How long can you stay?’ he asked in a desperate whisper.
‘Forever, my love,’ she smiled gently. ‘My mother has gifted me one hundred years to share with you. But only if that is what you desire?’
They lived happily ever after and as a reward for his long and loyal service the old dog became a guardian of the magic garden. And at night when his beloved master and his wife strolled hand in hand across the lawns, their friend would walk beside them, young and playful again.
©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015
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Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this snippet from Tales from the Garden.. thanks Sally.