TITLE: The Lilac Queen 18 May 2013
By Elisabeth Puruto
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The Lilac Queen
It was a beautiful afternoon in spring when Shane and Amy, the five-year-old twins, were watching grandma plant some pansies into the freshly dug garden bed. Grandma was sorting out the colours of the pansies for planting.
“What do you think, children? Shall I put a row of yellow ones in the front or the purple ones first? “
Amy and Shane looked at each other, thinking, and then both had the same idea at once.
“Grandma, how about mixing them? The purple and the yellow pansies. That would look really great.”
“Well, I think you are right. Now, why didn’t I think of that,” she said, reaching for some yellow pansies first.
Amy and Shane watched at first, but soon grew a bit tired and wandered off towards the blossoming bushes. Oh, how they liked the smell of these flowers, the jasmines and the cherry blossoms, but most of all they loved the lilac bush. This one had deep purple spikes shaped like bunches of grapes and so heavy, they almost bent the branches. Underneath the lilac bush was a little stone bench, Shane and Amy settled there, almost hidden by the overhanging branches. It was so good just to sit and smell the sweet perfume of the lilac blossoms. The children took a deep breath and closed their eyes.
All at once they saw in front of them a large wooden door. It stood just a little bit ajar but now, slowly, slowly, it opened wider and then a boy appeared. He was about their own age. He was wearing dark-green pants, a white shirt with wide sleeves and big green buttons in the shape of a heart, just like the leaves of the lilac bush. A mop of dark hair tried to escape from under his little purple cap which was embroidered with the same leaf shapes as the buttons on his shirt.
“Hallo Shane and Amy,” he said in a friendly voice, “how nice to see you again here. I have noticed you often at this place but you won’t remember me because I have never introduced myself.” Shane and Amy looked at him, wondering who this strangely clad boy might be. They had never seen him before.
“What’s your name? And why have we never seen you before?” asked Amy. She was always the one to speak first while Shane was a bit more shy.
“My name is Lindon,” answered the young boy, “and today I have an invitation for you from the Lilac Queen.”
“And who is the Lilac Queen?” Amy wanted to know.
Lindon was a very polite messenger of the queen, so he did not show his surprise too much. “You don’t know who the Lilac Queen is? She is the most beautiful lady I have ever seen and she owns all the lilac bushes in the world. She also decides their colour, white, light-purple or deep-purple. Since you two love this bush so much she has decided to invite you to visit her royal palace and enjoy a meal with her. Will you come?”
The children were lost for words but nodded eagerly. Lindon turned towards the wooden door and opened it wide. Amy and Shane hesitated a little. It was the first time, they had noticed the door, hidden in the dense branches of this lilac bush. As Lindon opened it, the children noticed a yellow light shining from the path at the other side of the door. It had a friendly warm glow and they decided to follow Lindon. The short path soon led into a wide entrance hall. There were cupboards of polished wood in several colours along the walls. Some almost white, others a reddish-brown and others in a deep red shade. In the middle stood a beautifully carved table with a huge bunch of white lilac flowers. But Amy and Shane had little time to admire this room because Lindon was already walking ahead towards one of the doors in the panelled wall. It had a small door knock, shaped like a lilac flower.
“This is the Lilac Queen’s afternoon chamber. She will meet you here,” Lindon explained. Gently he opened the door and asked Shane and Amy to follow him.
“Oh, what a beautiful room,” Amy exclaimed. The children almost didn’t dare stepping on the shiny white and purple marble floor. A huge crystal chandelier in the shape of a huge lilac flower sent thousands of sparkles over the room. On several small tables were vases with lilac blooms in different colours.
Lindon led the children to a corner with a smaller table, and a white sofa with silken white and dark purple cushions. Two comfortable little armchairs in the same colours stood on the other side of the table.
Silently another door opened in the wall and a tall lady appeared. Her long brown hair caught in a plait and tied with a green ribbon. She wore a light purple gown, reaching to her feet, and on her head sparkled a crown, shimmering with hundreds of green emeralds and clear diamonds. As Lindon made a deep bow he waved the children to do likewise. Amy couldn’t take her gaze off this beautiful lady but she managed a deep curtsy.
“Good afternoon, Amy and Shane,” she addressed the twins, “and welcome to my palace. I am happy to see my faithful servant Lindon delivered my invitation and brought you here.” With that she turned to Lindon, “ You may now go until I call you again.” Lindon left.
“Please take a seat in the armchairs,” she said, making herself comfortable among the silken cushions on the couch. “ Perhaps you are surprised about my knowing you? I am the queen of all lilac bushes in the world and when someone, like the two of you, loves my flowers very much, I can sense it and reward them with a visit to my palace.”
Amy was the first to gain courage. “Thank you very much, mm.. my l...l.. lady.” For once she was at loss for words.
“You may address me as Queen Lila,” the queen helped her out.
“Thank you for inviting us, Queen Lila,” Amy managed to say, feeling a bit more bold now.
“Yes, thank you,” stammered Shane.
The Lilac Queen smiled at the children and lifted a small silver bell from a side table by the sofa. At once a maid in a dark green dress and white apron appeared. Similar to Lindon, she wore a little purple cap with green leaves.
“Alina, you may serve the refreshments now,” the queen ordered.
Alina disappeared through yet another door, hidden in the silk pattern of the wall paper, soon to return with a large tray of delicacies. The white cups and plates of fine china were decorated with purple and gold patterns of intricate lilac branches and flowerets. But the twins’ eyes were on the platters with many sorts of biscuits. There were chocolate coated macaroons, tiny éclairs filled with cream, a variety of shortbreads, caramel-filled thin wafers and scotch fingers dipped in coloured sugar.
“ Let us enjoy these sweets together,” the queen said, “would you like to drink some hot chocolate or rather a cool lemonade? I really would like you to try the lilac tea with honey from my lilac flowers. It is delicious.”
Shane chose the hot chocolate and Amy the lilac tea. The queen was just about to pour the tea for Amy when suddenly a loud noise was heard, like someone pounding the door, and a voice called,
“Get out of my way, this is my palace and no one stops me from coming here.”
Queen Lila became pale and spilled the tea all over the white table cloth. The door was slung open till it banged against the wall and a big man in dirty brown pants and shirt stomped into the room. He was wearing a heavy brown woolen cape over the shirt and from his neck dangled a necklace of dirty rocks that got entangled in his scraggy beard. With every heavy step leaving clods of wet soil on the palace floor, he marched across the room towards the queen and the children, swinging a hefty wooden stick.
“This is my palace. Nobody else may come in here without my permission. I am Nogor, the ruler of the underground and my servants will chase you all away at my command. I hate coloured things, coloured and smelly flowers. And who are these two creatures here?” he glared at Amy and Shane who were cowering in the armchairs.”
The queen, too, was shivering with fear, but stood her ground.
“This has always been my palace and that of my ancestors before. How dare you enter here and disturb our peace?”
“I enter where I want and I am stronger than you all together,” and with that he swept his hand across the beautifully set table, scattering the dainty cups and saucers and all the sweets across the floor.
The children looked for Lindon but he was nowhere to be seen.
“Guards, Lindon!” the queen called.
“Ha, you are calling for help. That will do you no good. They have all been tied up by my men outside, and you will be next. Then you can live out your days in my dark brown dungeon and all your lilacs will die.”
While Nogor threatened the lilac queen, Amy and Shane, having regained their wits, quickly looked around for a weapon to attack the intruder. Shane had a talent for accurately throwing stones, he had practiced many times in his grandma’s garden, chasing away crows. Amy was thinking how she could divert Nogor’s attention from the queen. There were no stones in this place but right at their feet Shane spotted the unbroken lid of the teapot. With one unnoticed movement of his foot he slid it close to his side. Amy, having understood Shane’s plan of attack, loosened the cord that held her frock and moved across to the queen.
“ So, you silly little thing, you want to join the queen in the dungeon? Ha, you won’t be of any help to her,” Nogor bellowed.
“Of course, I will. And you cannot do us any harm at all,” Amy cried boldly, trembling with fear but holding her ground beside the queen.
“How dare you, you little nobody? How dare you speak to me like that? I will show you!”
He moved towards her, swinging the heavy stick and tried to grab her by the wrist when suddenly – “Ouch,” he reached to the back of his head, just when he was struck by a second, heavier weapon. Shane had taken hold of one of the heavy silver platters and threw it with all his might at Nogor. The man’s knees buckled as he fell forward, flat on his face.
“Quick, quick, now. Let’s tie him up!” cried Amy, using the belt from her dress. By now the queen had recovered from her shock and helped the twins to fasten the hands of the intruder.
“Here, take my belt for his feet, silk is very strong,” the queen offered.
“Now what are we to do?, they asked each other. “His helpers are still outside.”
“I know,” said Amy. “We will open the door and show them their evil master is in your hands and will be taken into your dungeon for many years, Queen Lila.”
“But first I shall ring the bronze bell that brings my private army to our aid,” added the queen. She went through another secret door, while the twins were guarding the intruder. Soon a deep, resonating sound was heard throughout the palace and not long after, a group of gnomes in dark-green and purple uniforms arrived. As they approached the main entrance they found the companions of Nogor standing over the palace servants, including the maid and Lindon. Using their special, bows and arrows made of lilac wood, they made short shrift of these villains, overpowering them with ease and untying the servants.
Lindon showed them the way to the chamber where Queen Lila and the twins were holding Nogor.
“Your Majesty,” the leader of the gnomes greeted her with a deep bow, “how did you manage to overcome this monster of the underground? It is remarkable. He and his men must have slipped unnoticed into the palace when we were changing the guard.”
“I couldn’t have done this without my faithful friends Amy and Shane, here. They love the lilac bushes and I invited them for tea with me. Without their help I would now be in Nogor’s dungeon.”
Pointing at the intruder, she commanded, ”Take him and his evil companions far away to the heavily guarded fields at the edge of my kingdom. There they shall prepare the manure for my garden soil for the rest of their lives. Never to be released.” The gnomes obeyed her and removed the intruder.
“ Now, children. I am so sorry our afternoon tea has been spoiled but never mind. There is plenty of supply in the palace kitchen. We simply shall move to an even more beautiful room and ask Alina to serve us another, even more beautiful afternoon tea. And I think we all are in need of a cup of soothing lilac tea. And as a special treat, we shall ask the cook to serve us one of his very delicious ice cream cakes with lots and lots of sweet chocolate sauce. Wouldn’t you like that, Amy?”
“Amy, Shane, wake up. I don’t believe it, you both have fallen asleep right here under the lilac bush.” Grandma was standing in front of them, looking a bit puzzled, as the twins still enjoyed the taste from their visit to the Lilac Queen.
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