Yesterday we enjoyed the first Royal Banquet to be held in the new royal palace beneath the magnolia tree.. and there was a hint of romance in the air..
Spring: Chaper Nine – The Betrothal Gift
After the banquet, there followed two weeks of entertainment for the visiting monarch and his family. There were picnics, concerts and sporting events that tested the strength and endurance of the courtiers and stretched Chef Marcelle’s culinary skills to the limit. Rarely were Queen Filigree and Prince Ronan apart, except for those few hours at night when they retired to their individual bed chambers. King Philip and his wife looked on approvingly as they had long wished for a suitable and regal enough wife for their eldest son. Queen Filigree might be quite a bit older than the Prince, but in fairy lifetimes, it was not sufficient to cause concern. Anyway, Queen Seren knew that her son planned on giving his bride-to-be a gift, that she knew from experience would make any age difference unimportant.
One evening, as the court prepared itself for an informal supper in the roots of the magnolia tree, Prince Ronan requested the chamberlain to convey an invitation to her majesty, to join him for a glass of mead in the miniature rose garden. The queen had already finished dressing for the evening, choosing something a little low key as befitted a night of Irish dancing and accompanying shenanigans. The Storyteller had sent over the Dapperman with a gift of a white blouse and emerald and blue tartan kilt, set off with a pair of black leather ballet pumps. She didn’t have time to change into something more formal, and decided that perhaps the off the shoulder blouse, and the string of daisies necklace, made her appear much younger than her years.
The look on Prince Ronan’s face, when she opened the gate to the rose garden, was proof indeed that she looked ravishing. She walked towards him, taking his outstretched hand, only to be pulled into his arms. Breathlessly she looked up into his sparkling green eyes, and within seconds, she found herself kissed as she had never been kissed before.
Reluctantly the prince pulled away from their embrace, and taking her hand, led her to a corner of the garden, lifting away a green silk drape. There before her eyes was a wondrous garden fountain, held up by two lovers entwined with leaves and roses. Queen Filigree gasped, reaching out her hand to touch the water that flowed from a small spout above the fountain, embedded in the root of the magnolia.
‘How did you find my fountain, I thought that it was safely in France with my son at his palace?’ She wiped a tear from her cheek and turned to face the handsome young man by her side.
‘I was visiting your son to discuss joint trade ventures and we walked his rose garden together, making a deal to import our Irish Amber Nectar special blend, in exchange for the lavender grown in his fields.’ He took the queen’s hand in his. ‘Your son told me that this was your treasured Fountain of Life that you could not bring with you to Ireland. He explained that by dipping your hands in its rejuvenating waters each day, and taking a sip of its sweetness, you will remain young and beautiful for ever.’
At Prince Ronan’s beckoning, the queen dipped her hands into the fountain and brought the water to her lips to drink, all the time staring deeply into the eyes of this handsome prince.
She felt a surge of energy as if every nerve in her body was tingling. She turned to Prince Ronan and whispered. ‘You have brought me the most treasured gift I could wish for,’ she touched the side of his face gently. ‘How can I ever repay you?’
The prince took to one knee and smiled. ‘Will you honour me by becoming my wife, and living the rest of your life with me?’
Filigree regretted for a moment, that she had not thought to change into a more fitting attire for this momentous occasion, but the sight of the handsome face in front of her banished all thoughts from her mind as she urged the prince to his feet.
‘I would be most delighted to accept your proposal,’ she whispered in delight.
King Philip and Queen Seren were already in attendance at the party, when the happy couple slipped in beside them an hour or so later. It was clear that an announcement needed to be made, and Queen Filigree requested that King Philip do the honours. The news was met with great excitement by her two daughters despite their envy of their mother’s handsome suitor. The little minxes recognised that they now would have a much more exciting social calendar to look forward to.
This new development further delayed the visiting royal’s trip to their summer home in Meath. The wedding date was set for a week ahead, and it was decided that Queen Filigree would accompany her new husband and his family for a month to celebrate their honeymoon. This too gave Princess Persephone and Narcissus a cause for celebration, as they would stay behind and be in charge of the court. And they would enjoy a great deal more freedom that they usually managed under the eagle eye of their mother.
The upcoming festivities had the whole fairy kingdom and their new friends, the Storyteller, Summer and Dapperman, in a whirl, as they hurriedly organised this royal union.
The wedding dress was being spun by a family of silk worms that the Dapperman had brought from India and installed in his attic. The fine threads were then dipped in vats made from halved dried pumpkin skins from last autumn. Dyes, that had been made the last summer from the flowers in the Spanish garden, were blended to create the prettiest pinks, the most vivid blues and purples, and the brightest reds and greens. Queen Filigree had decided upon a rose pink dress with multi-coloured bodice with a train of mauve and violet.
Even the Dapperman was in awe when he attended the final fitting, and he hurried away to add a dash of purple to the grooms velvet wedding suit, ensuring that he was in perfect harmony with his bride.
Meanwhile Chef Marcelle was beside himself with the stress, but finally with the help of the Storyteller and his suppliers, he managed to put together a feast like none other. For hundred hungry guests he would need 3 filleted trout, 2 lbs of sirloin steak, 1 lb of goat’s cheese, two pints of double cream, 25 fresh strawberries, 100 fresh baked rolls and 2 lbs of butter for cooking and for the feast. Luckily the magic garden had some spring vegetables, and the chef had stored away plenty of mushrooms last autumn in Spain, bringing them with him on the back of an express goose.
The Storyteller donated six bottles of Champagne, and six more each of white and his finest red wine. There were also two large vats of the amber nectar fermented from the court’s own beehives, and sweet water that had been collected in tubs at the base of the magnolia tree.
Finally the day arrived and with the Storyteller presiding, in his capacity of guardian of the magic garden, the wedding began. The groom stood nervously at the end of a carpet of rose petals as the two royal families and courtiers sat on chairs either side. The musicians began to play a gentle anthem that announced the arrival of the queen.
A hush fell over the assembled guests as the beautiful bride, dressed in a shimmering vision of pinks and mauves, stepped delicately onto the rosy carpet. She clasped a bouquet of miniature roses and bluebells, and she glided down the aisle with her eyes firmly fixed on the handsome man waiting for her. It is sad to say that, despite wearing delightful dresses of pale blue and lilac that glistened with sparkling sequins, Princess Persephone and Narcissus were largely overlooked.
With the solemnity that was required for this great state occasion, the Storyteller began the service of wedlock according to fairy lore. Ten minutes later, to resounding cheers, Prince Ronan and Queen Filigree were officially announced as man and wife, and were invited to seal the marriage with a kiss; which went on rather a long time. With anticipation and excitement the guests piled into the rose strewn aisle to follow the happy couple through to the ballroom to enjoy the sumptuous feast. Chef Marcelle looked upon the avid partaking of his finest meals with great satisfaction, before retiring to his kitchen and a filched flagon of the finest amber nectar.
The dancing went on to the early hours of the morning and nobody noticed when Prince Ronan and Queen Filigree melted away together at midnight. The two princesses however, did see the departure, throwing themselves even more enthusiastically into the dancing, knowing that for the next month they would be largely unsupervised.
A day was needed to recover from the festivities, but bright and early two days later, King Philip, Queen Seren and the newlyweds departed by carriage to continue their journey to their summer palace. The Storyteller was left in charge of the two princesses and it was with some misgivings that he watched their mother heading off with a smile and a wave. A month was going to seem a very long time with these two young ladies on the loose.
© Sally Cronin – Image Tales from the Irish Garden.
I hope you have enjoyed and will join me tomorrow for more adventures in the magic garden.
My latest short story collection is Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries: Sometimes Bitter, Sometimes Sweet.
One of the recent reviews for the collection
Cleverly penned from the title on the front cover to the final word on the last page with a unique voice, addressing life’s dilemmas and challenges, Sally weaves heart-warming storytelling about ordinary people in real life situations that in some cases can be life changing.
For some of us on-line shopping is straightforward, others find it frustrating. While in short story, The Weekly Shopping, Sally takes the experience one step further in addressing this and brought a smile to my face as I turned the pages, intrigued.
Kind people with big hearts, courageous and generous, offering a glimmer of hope. Long lost relatives, offering a sense of belonging. A reminder romance is not only for the young and we are never too old to find love. Entwined in these engaging tales are peppering’s of beautiful prose. Highly recommend this book
You can find out about my other books and their most recent reviews: Sally’s books and reviews 2019/2021