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The Making of a Queen: Chapter 5

Started by DerynifanK, November 20, 2020, 04:42:06 PM

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Link to previous chapter: https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,2625.0.html

THe Making of a Queen; Eirian's Journey. Chapter 5,  The Rose

"This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere."
"Lo How a Rose E'er blooming" 15th century hymn

Rhemuth Castle Garden
Spring, 1130

Eirian skipped along the garden path. It was a beautiful spring day with bright sunshine and a warm breeze. Eirian sniffed the air, fragrant with the smell of flowers, especially the scent of roses and lavender. The garden was her very favorite place and she visited it as often as she could. She had been excited when, after morning lessons and lunch were finished, her nurse had said, "Tis such a beautiful day, the garden will be the perfect spot for our afternoon  play." She had quickly gathered up dolls, knights on horses, balls, and blocks as well as some sewing and ushered Amelia, Eirian and Albin out into the garden.

Amelia settled under a shady tree with her doll. Albin was soon busy building a castle with his blocks, watched by two of his knights.. Nurse had also settled in the shade with her sewing where she could keep an eye on the children. But Eirian was full of the joy of the spring day and unable to sit quietly. She wanted to explore the garden, to see what flowers had come into bloom since she was last outside. "Please, Nurse Anna, may I go exploring? I want to see all the new plants and flowers."

"You may go for a walk as long as you do not go too far and remain on the paths. You must stay close so you can hear if I call you." Nurse Anna smiled at the young princess.

"Oh I will, And I will come right away if you call. Do you want to come with me, Melia?"

Amelia looked up and shook her curly head. "I have a new outfit for Lady Ophelia and she wants to try it on and see how she looks in her new clothes.." Amelia turned her attention back to removing the doll's outfit and dressing her in an elegant new outfit.

Eirian tossed her head and started off down the path leading to the castle's rose arbor. She couldn't see why Amelia wanted to keep playing dolls when it was such a glorious day. They could play dolls inside anytime. She considered that more of a rainy day activity.  She certainly was not going to waste this beautiful day sitting under a tree.

The rose garden was her favorite place in the garden. She loved the tapestry of colors of the rose bushes; shades of red, pink,yellow and white.  They glowed against the grey of the stone walls of the castle. As she looked for her favorite rose, Eirian saw the head gardener examining one of the bushes with one of the younger gardeners who was leaning on a spade. She thought they were looking at her favorite rosebush.

Eirian's favorite rose had a deep gold center shading into a paler yellow with a tinge of pink at the edges of the petals.  It was a prolific bloomer, usually covered in flowers and buds, and its fragrance scented the whole area of the bed where it grew. But there was something wrong. Master MacFarlane was crouched in front of her rose, holding one of its branches in his hand, closely examining flowers and leaves. Eirian edged closer, trying to see what he was doing. The younger gardener whispered something in his ear and he turned quickly to look at her.

Master MacFarlane was head gardener and had been in charge of the castle garden for many years. He was of middle height (though he looked taller to the young girl) and his skin was rough and wrinkled from constant exposure to the elements. His hair had once been red but had faded over the years and was now threaded with gray and he had bushy eyebrows that were more gray than red. He didn't have much patience and could be very brusque. He terrorized the younger gardeners. He was a law unto himself and took orders from no one but Queen Araxie and of course the King. But he was not mean although he could cause young gardeners to tremble with a look. He  tolerated questions from the children if they were not silly and he was not too busy. He did sometimes scold if they were picking too many of his flowers.

Master MacFarlane rose to his feet and both he and the young gardener faced Eirian and bowed. She dropped a graceful curtsy. "How may I help you, my lady?" The old man was not smiling and his formidable eyebrows met over his eyes.

"Is there something wrong with the rose?" She asked in a worried voice.

Mac paused a moment and scratched his chin. He has a soft spot for the little princess who loved his garden and often asked him questions about the plants there. He knows this rose is a favorite. "Ahm afeared the bush is ailin and ahm not sure she can survive."

"What's wrong?" The young girl's voice was full of concern.

"Come here an see fer yersel." The old man motioned her forward. Eirian moved forward to crouch beside him. "See here. See these flowers." The edges of several flowers were brown and curling; even the center which was normally a deep gold was pale and dry. "And look 'ere at the leaves." The leaves were not green and healthy but were dry with black spots. Even a gentle touch caused the leaves to fall off.  "If too many leaves fall off the bush won't survive. And it's important that it doesn't infect the other bushes."

"But what is it? What can we do to heal it?' she asked anxiously.

"The old gardener looked at her with sympathy. "It mae be the best thing we can do is dig it out and replace it with another bush." Eirian noticed the spade and mattock lying on the path nearby,

"Oh no!" she cried. "There must be something we can do!" She stroked the petals of one of the roses gently.. She looked up at the old gardener with pleading brown eyes. Her lower lip trembled but she would not cry. Princesses did not cry. "The rose is very sad, but I can make it feel better. I know I can. Please give me a chance, please."

Mac couldn't resist those big eyes on the verge of tears. He could look fierce but inside he was a marshmallow. "Weel, I guess 'twouldn't hurt if you want to try. But twould be best if ye ask Her Grace, yer lady mother for permission."

Eirian looked at him seriously. " I will. I know she will agree, especially since this rose is also a favorite of the Queen. She brought it all the way from Horthanthy when she married the King. Tell me what is wrong and what I need to do. I promise i will do what you tell me faithfully."

"The rose has the Black Spot. Tis caused by soil that is too wet and mulch that is old or dirty or too moist. Ye'll need to rake away all the old mulch and dispose of it. Loosen up the soil around it, being careful not to damage the roots. Then stick yer finger in the dirt as far as you can to see how far down you can go before ye hit dry soil. Lemme see yer finger." Eirian held up her hand with her fingers spread out. Mac took her forefinger and pointed to the part just above the second joint. "It shouldna be wet below this point. If it is, give it no more water until it's dry to the point I showed you. No more mulch fer now. When the time is right, we will spread new mulch. Ewan here will help you."

Mac watched as Ewan carefully raked away the old mulch, placed it in his cart and wheeled it away. He handed her a small spade and showed her how to carefully dig and loosen the dirt around the bush. Once that was done, she stuck her finger into the loosened soil as far as it would go. "It felt wet almost all the way to here," she pointed to her knuckle.

"Ye will need to check it every day and add no water or mulch til it feels dry past the part I showed ye. I will have Ewan keep it well weeded. When ye think it is ready fer water or mulch, you send for me and we will see." Eirian nodded seriously.

Once Master MacFarlane left her to tend to other duties, she knelt down beside the rose. She stroked its petals softly and spoke quietly to it. "I know you feel sad now but we will make you feel better. I promise." Tears formed in her eyes and a few ran down her cheeks. Then she heard footsteps on the path behind her. She turned to see a young man in Haldane livery approaching. Wiping her eyes she saw that it was Prince Ronal.

"Is something the matter, Princess? Why are you crying? Are you hurt?" He studied her with concern in his face.

"No, I am not hurt. I am sad because this rose is sick. It is my favorite rose and I am afraid it will die. Master MacFarlane was going to have it dug up and replaced with another bush. They would just throw it away." she looked up at him.

"Isn't there anything that can be done to save it?" he asked.

"Master MacFarlane has given me a little time to try to heal it and has told me what to do. One of the under gardeners will help. But what if I can't make it better?  What if it still has to be replaced? "

Ronal looked down at the disconsolate young girl. "At least you have a chance to save it and you know what to do. I am sure you will try your best and that is all anyone can do. If Master MasFarlane had not thought you could do it, he would not have given you the chance. If I can help when I am not on duty, I will.

Just then they heard the voice of Nurse Anna calling Eirian's name. Ronal offered her his arm. "May I escort you back to Nurse?" She placed her hand on his arm and they headed back along the path.

Once they had reentered the castle, Eirian turned to the nurse. "Please, I have something I must tell Mama."

"It is time for your naps. I am sure she will look in on you after your nap or at bedtime." She settled the children on their beds for their naps. Eirian did not think she would be able to fall asleep but to her surprise she did. When she woke up it was time for supper. She was very anxious to ask her mother about caring for the rose so she didn't eat much of her supper. After supper the nurse prepared the children for bed. Eirian was sitting in the bed she shared with Amelia when the nursery door opened and Duchess Meraude stepped in.

Amelia and Albin ran to hug the duchess, clamoring to tell her what they had done during the afternoon and begging for a bedtime story. Eirian hung back, not rushing forward to get her hug. This was most unlike her, and Meraude noticed right away. Hushing the other two children, she sat beside her daughter on the bed. "Is something wrong?" She asked. "Are you feeling unwell?"

"No, Mama. But I'm very worried about my favourite rose, the really pretty yellow one. Master MacFarlane says it's really sick and he was going to dig it up. I asked if there is any way to make it better. He said I could try and told me what I needed to do to take care of it, but if I want to try, I need your permission. Please Mama, can't I try to heal it? I will do everything Mr MacFarlane tells me.I promise. Please!" Eirian pleaded.

Meraude hugged her daughter close, looking into her eyes. "Of course you may. But you realise that you have promised to do all Master MacFarlane tells you. If you begin this, you must carry it through to the end. And you must be prepared for the end not to be what you want. Do you think you can do this?"

"Oh yes, Mama, and Ronal has said he will help me when he is free."

"Very well. I will speak to Master MacFarlane tomorrow and tell him you have permission to care for the rose. I will also tell Nurse Anna that you will be doing a bit of gardening when you are outside." 

"Thank you, Mama." Eirian hugged her mother tightly.

"Now who wants a bedtime story?" Meraude looked at the children who quickly gathered close for their story.

Rhemuth Castle Garden
3 weeks later

It was a warm, sunny June day and the children were playing in the garden. Briony and Kelric had joined them as their family was currently in Rhemuth. Kelric and Albin were busy constructing a castle for their knights. Amelia was sitting near Nurse Anna playing with her doll. Eirian took Briony by the hand and was urging her to come along to the rose garden.

"Nurse Anna, I'm taking Briony to the rose garden to show her my rose." Eirian tugged at Briony's hand.

"Do not go any farther and come right back."  The nurse smiled as the two girls ran along the path. Eirian had told Briony about the rose and her efforts to save it so Briony was anxious to see it. When they reached the rose bed, Eirian pointed to the yellow rose then she did a double take and gasped. Both girls studied the rose bush carefully. Its leaves were green and glossy. For the first time, there were no black spots to be seen. And there were two clusters of fat yellow buds. Eirian was so excited she was hopping on first one foot then the other. "Look, Briony, look! The rose is going to bloom again and it has no more of those horrible black spots! It has been healed!"

They were so excited, they had not heard the footsteps on the path. They were startled when a gruff voice spoke behind them on the path. "Well, my Lady, ye have indeed healed the rose. Ye have done a good job. Her Majesty will be pleased as this is also one of her favorite roses. I wasna so sure it could be done but ye did it. I will be tellin her Majesty about your hard work. Ye are the one that saved it." Mac actually smiled at the girls, something he did not often do.

Eirian and Briony curtsied to the old gardener and turned to run back to the nurse. But Eirian hesitated. "Thank you, Master MacFarlane, for allowing me to heal the rose. I did everything you told me, but I also talked to her often to cheer her while she was healing." Eirian reached out and gently stroked one of the yellow buds. "She was sad before but she is happy now."  The two girls skipped away leaving the old gardener standing by the rose bed looking at the rose bush and scratching his head

Link to next chapter: https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,2694.msg25352.html#msg25352
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance


A very nice chapter, DFK.  I am glad the rose survived!
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


I love this scene it shows our little princesses true character. I think our little Eirian is going to be a gardener and a warm care giver as she grows.  Thank you DFK. More please, I want so more.
May your horses have wings and fly!


Thanks, this is lovely! I can't help but wonder why they don't try to activate her Haldane powers? Or is that supposed to be only possible for people with a Y chromosome?  Certainly it seems to me that, especially given what happened with her eldest brother, the wisest thing to do with all Haldane kids is try to get them well trained from early on, with empowerment triggered as soon as they have a strong moral sense, and make certain that they are feeling like they have worthwhile, useful contributions to make, so that they don't fall prey to the petty jealousies that lead to stupid decisions.


I agree with your way of thinking, Kareina. I believe, at least in fanfic, we have proven that the Haldane powers are not just on the Y chromosome. And in the Novels, I believe Kelson did Activate Queen Araxie's powers, even though she is part Deryni already. So that should prove that KK has disproved her own early thoughts that the Haldane powers were for men only. In this story, I am thinking that Eirian is still young, her "moral sense" is starting to show it self well to her parents, so this may be in her future.
May your horses have wings and fly!


Don't worry. It is in her future but noy quite yet.
"Thanks be to God there are still, as there always have been and always will be, more good men than evil in this world, and their cause will prevail." Brother Cadfael's Penance