This is the prequel to Tales from the Irish garden and shares the stories of statues we inherited when we bought the house, and for the magic kingdom beneath the Magnolia Tree. The book is also available in Spanish translated by
Olga Nunez Miret
Chapter Six – Trouble in Paradise – Part Two (you can read Part One Here)
The dwarf was mortified and hung his head trying to hide his thoughts from his queen who he could see was dreadfully upset. He also knew that he had been in the forbidden part of the garden and should not have seen the two lovers in the first place. But he had lost his rabbit and knew that he often entered the patch of magic ivy to eat its luscious green shoots.
The queen waved him away before he saw the tears that filled her eyes…but as he turned to go she demanded that he tell no-one of what he had seen on pain of being expelled from the orchestra.
She knew that this was probably futile and over the next few hours it was clear that the story, or a version of it, was circulating amongst the fairy community and the rest of the garden inhabitants.
Life beneath the magnolia tree was usually peaceful and undisturbed and to be honest a little monotonous. This revelation about the highest family in the land was too good to keep a secret; even for those she trusted most to do so.
Her power as ruler of this invisible kingdom was in jeopardy, and if she was to maintain her status and dignity action needed to be taken. Not just to punish the king for his actions, which under fairy law meant instant banishment to the human world, but to the woman in his embrace.
The queen knew who she was. The lady-in-waiting that the king had unwisely danced twice with at the summer ball. As a member of the court and daughter of one of the royal counsellors, this floozy knew exactly what the consequences were for flirting with a married man and particularly with the king himself.
There was only one course of action and it had to be taken quickly. The queen called her trusted advisors together in the council chamber in a clearing beneath the magnolia tree. Apart from fairies she also sent out messengers to find the wisest creature in the entire garden.
Felis silvestris catus was descended from the royal cats of ancient Egypt and had wandered into this garden in Spain many years ago. He said little but when he did speak it was always profound and the words valuable.
The palace guard had led the king to an ante-chamber where he waited head in hands to discover his fate. He had tried to speak to his queen but had been held back by her soldiers and he knew that his life here in this world was at an end.
The discussions continued through the night and into the next day. Angry voices could be heard and also desperate pleading by the father of the lady-in-waiting, who was terrified of losing his daughter for good.
Eventually the doors to the council chamber were flung opened and the king was led through to face his fate.
White faced and visibly shaking the queen pronounced the sentence that would be carried out immediately. She faced the king and made him kneel at her feet. She looked down at his bowed head and sorrowfully delivered the judgement.
‘You will be banished to the human world to live in another garden far away. You will be turned to stone, in the form of a one-eyed pig. You will then live beneath a wide-limbed evergreen tree that is home to many pigeons.’
The king raised his head and stared at his wife in disbelief but she returned his look coldly.
‘In addition, you will be guarded by one of my most trusted ladies of the bed chamber, who will be transformed into a black dog so that she can live in comfort in the home of the humans. She will report back to me should you decide to use your own magic powers to change your form.’
The queen smiled grimly. ‘Do not imagine you will be able to put anything past the Lady Ellie as she is keen of mind as well as a rare beauty.’
The king ventured to speak and begrudgingly the queen indicated that he could stand and address the court one last time.
‘I am deeply sorry for my actions, but I truly love the Lady Oleander and would beg that you do not punish her for my unseemly actions.’ He looked at his wife with his hands held out towards her.
‘Her punishment has been carried out and you can no longer help her.’
The harsh words drew a sharp breath from the king.
‘She was found waiting for you in the secret garden beneath the clock and has been frozen in time where she will now wait for you forever.’
Many years passed and the fairy world slowly recovered from the loss of their carefree king and moved on with their lives in the heat and cold of the changing seasons within the garden.
Eventually the queen found love again with a dashing prince who was visiting from another fairy court many miles distant. As she basked in the new love, and after discussing the matter with her handsome young husband, she came to a decision.
Far, far away in the human world the one-eyed pig sat silently beneath the pigeon filled tree, becoming increasingly more decorated with their offerings. He was watched over daily by the Lady Ellie who herself had become a little bored with her restrictive life as a guard dog.
Then one day messengers arrived from the fairy kingdom having flown for three nights and three days. The swans had acted as protectors for the tiny robin who had been sent with a message for the Lady Ellie. Now as the misty early morning sunlight filled the garden, the red-breasted bird delivered the royal decree.
The king was to be released from his stone curse but could not return to the fairy kingdom. He would now have to live as a mortal man with a human lifespan. Since the queen was now happily in love again herself and had no wish for the king to remain alone, she would also release the Lady Oleander from her vigil beneath the clock.
The Lady Ellie cast the necessary spells and some days later a tall, good looking man was seen waiting patiently at a railway station with a suitcase at his feet. After all the years of living beneath the pigeons in the tree, it was a great relief to actually have two of them pecking away at crumbs at his feet instead.
Suddenly, he noticed a beautiful young woman with flowing blonde hair walking towards him along the platform. As he heard the sound of the steam engine travelling slowly into the station, the lovely vision stopped in front of him. She smiled and reached out a hand and he swept her into his arms and kissed her passionately.
A world away beneath the magnolia tree someone else was watching the scene. The queen opened her eyes and smiled. She could now live happily ever after. Even if it was just for a brief human lifespan, her old love would now be happy too with his Lady Oleander.
©Sally Cronin Tales from the Garden 2015
About Tales from the Garden
Tales from the Garden reveals the secrets that are hidden beneath hedges and trees. You will discover what really happens at night as you sleep unaware in your bed. Stone statues and those hidden worlds within the earth are about to share their stories. The guardians who have kept the sanctuary safe for over fifty years will allow you to peek behind the scenes of this magical place. They will take you on a journey through time and expand your horizons as they transport you to the land of fairies, butterflies and lost souls who have found a home here. Fairy Stories for children of all ages from five to ninety-five that will change the way you look at your garden forever.
One of the reviews for the collection.