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The Making of a Queen, Chapter 6

Started by DerynifanK, January 18, 2021, 09:09:52 PM

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Link to previous chapter: https://www.rhemuthcastle.com/index.php/topic,2665.0.html

The Making of a Queen: Chapter 6  The Plant Whisperer

It is a base, dishonourable, unworthy part of the College of Physicians in London to train
up the people in such ignorance that they should not be able to know what the herbs in their gardens be good for.  Nicholas Culpepper, A Physical Directory, 1650

Rhemuth Castle
Spring, 1132

Eirian Haldane sat curled up in the window seat of the solar gazing wistfully out at the sunny garden. The garden was the part of the castle and grounds she loved best, and she spent as much  time as possible there. She delighted in planting and tending the flowers and herbs and watching them respond to her loving care. The roses with their beautiful colors and delightful scents were her special favorites. She remembered proudly how she had saved the queen's favorite yellow rose. It was her best loved among the roses also.

She was a favorite of the crusty old head gardener, Master MacFarlane, who allowed her to work in his gardens and had been teaching her much about the plants found there. She had learned how to choose the best place for various plants, the best way to prepare the soil, how to plant them and what care produced the most healthy and beautiful plants. He even praised her efforts, but she had been unable to convince him that talking to her plants helped them grow and thrive. When she tried to explain it to him, he listened with his forehead wrinkled and his eyebrows meeting over his nose, saying nothing until she finished. Then all he said was hurumph. "I dinnae see any reason ta spend ma time talkin' tae plants. I hae cared fer em many years and they have done well so I see nae reason tae change." However, he  had given her plots of her own for her plants, where she could satisfy her love of gardening.

But even though it was a lovely day for the garden, she remained in the solar, sitting in the window gazing out. She was alone as the other members of the family were busy with their various duties. Amelia was in the nursery with Nurse. Albin was at the Schola with Briony and Kelric who were presently in residence with their parents. She was feeling rather left out.

There was a slight noise from the entrance to the apartment. The door opened and as she turned toward it, Ronal entered. At first he didn't see her, but as she stirred in the window embrasure he caught sight of her, bowed and smiled. "I have a message for the Duchess and hoped I might find her here.  I did not think to find you here on such a lovely day. Why are you not out in the garden? It's a perfect day  for it. Why are you sitting here alone? Is something wrong?"

Eirian lowered her eyes, looking down at the floor. "I love gardening but how useful is it? Master MacFarlane and his assistants grow all that is needed. The others are all attending the Schola, learning  to use their powers, but I am not Deryni and I have no powers that I need to learn to use properly in order to be of service to my father or to the king.  I don't attend the Schola because there is nothing for me to learn there. I wish there were."

"You may not be Deryni but you do have a very special power. You have a green thumb." Ronal grinned at her as she held up her hands and looked at them closely. "My thumbs are both the same color. They are no different from the rest of my hand. I don't see any green."

Ronal laughed. "Having a green thumb doesn't mean your thumb is actually colored green. It means that you have a special way with plants. They grow for you in a way that they do not for others. They respond when you talk to them and give them love and care. Remember the way the queen's rose responded to you. Master MacFarlane had tried everything he knew but it drooped and nearly died. You talked him into giving you a chance to save it and look at it now. Its leaves are glossy and green and its flowers are gloriously bright and golden. That is what it means to have a green thumb."

"I do love plants but what does that have to do with attending Schola as the others do? That is not a power such as the others have.  What could I do there? "What's the use ? I have no real powers to train." Eirian's mouth drooped at the corners and she still looked sad.

"Are you so sure there is nothing for you there?  Tell me, if you could choose any power or ability for yourself, what would you choose?" Ronal came over to join the princess, taking a seat opposite her.

Ronal continued. "Think about it. Do it for me. I really want to know what power you would choose for yourself if you could do so."

Eirian was silent for a few minutes, appearing to consider the question Ronal had asked her. What power would be the most useful as well as rewarding to be able to wield? She raised her eyes to meet Ronal's gaze. "I most wish I could heal, to help people recover from injuries and illness and pursue their lives. But that is only a dream. What does it have to do with what the Schola does to develop the powers of others? I know that healers are rare, and it is an inherited power that cannot be acquired any other way. I shouldn't be wasting my time longing for what I cannot have."

Ronal studied the young girl who had become almost like a little sister to him during his service in Rhemuth. "While it is true you cannot be a healer like Briony or her father, there are other kinds of healing for which I think you have a definite talent."

Eirian looked up at him with hope dawning in her eyes. "What are these other kinds of healers, what knowledge and skills do they have?  How could I learn them?"

"There are those who grow herbs in their gardens and also collect them from the fields and hedgerows where they grow wild. They use the herbs and plants to make potions, salves, infusions and medicines to heal the body of disease and injuries that are not responsive to healers' talents. Some are called wise women, some are called herbalists, some are priests or monks. They are much valued by the people in need of curatives for diseases. Experienced healers from Torenth come to the Schola to conduct classes, not just on developing healing powers but also on how to find, grow, and use herbs and plants to heal. Both kinds of healing are very important. I have attended some of their lectures and found them to be very useful."

He watched Eirian's face as he continued. "You have that green thumb,  a special feeling for plants and a talent for getting them to grow. You could learn to use them yourself to make healing potions and how to teach the people to use the plants in their gardens to heal themselves and to keep themselves and their families well.  I think you should be attending these classes. The Schola does have a place for you."  Ronal paused to give Eirian time to think about what he had told her.

Her face lit up, her eyes began to sparkle. "I would love to be able to go beyond growing plants in my garden and learn to harvest and use them to make healing medicines to help people. I would love to become a herbalist. Do you think I could? "

Ronal smiled his encouragement. "Of course you can. If you are sure, you could begin by talking to your maman. I am certain that she will support you in your desire to attend the Schola to learn to heal with herbs and plants. She can help you speak with Magistra Helena about your desire to attend the healers' classes.  I am sure that there will be no difficulty in your joining the classes and developing your own special talent. There is need for both kinds of healing."

Eirian jumped up from the window seat almost quivering with excitement. "Let's go find maman right now!

Ronal stood, bowed, and held out his arm to the excited young princess. She curtsied to him and placed her hand on his arm. They turned toward the door to start their search for Duchess Meraude so Ronal could deliver his message and her daughter could tell her of her new goal. They had taken only a few steps when the curtain between the solar and the day room was pushed back and the duchess stepped in.

She looked a little puzzled to find her daughter and Ronal alone together. Ronal quickly spoke up. "I was seeking you, my Lady, with a message from Master Rhodri. He has a few questions about the seating for tomorrow night's dinner since Duke Dhugal and his party arrived to attend Easter Court this afternoon, two days earlier than expected. He has two alternatives and would like your approval of one of them. He is in the workroom."

The Duchess nodded. "I will go to him in a few minutes. Was there something else needed?"

Ronal bowed but before he could say anything, Eirian spoke up.  "Maman, Maman, I have something I need to tell you. It is very important." Eirian turned pleading eyes on her mother.  The Duchess patted her daughter's shoulder and turned to instruct Ronal. "Tell Lord Rhodri I will be with him shortly." The squire bowed and left the room, giving Eirian a reassuring smile as he left. 

Meraude took her daughter's hand and led her to a cushioned bench near the fire. They sat and the duchess put an arm around Eirian's shoulders. She spoke encouragingly. "Tell me what this important thing is that you need to share. I am listening."

Eirian turned toward her mother. "I have longed to be able to attend the Schola with the others, but I knew I had no power of value. I miss them so when they are learning and I am left here alone"

Meraude had not been unaware of her daughter's feeling of  being left out, of being of less value because she did not have Deryni powers, and she had tried to help her by encouraging her interest in gardening. But of course it wasn't the same.

Ronal has shown me that I do have a power of my own that I can develop that can be of value. I can learn to be a healer, not like Briony but a different kind of healer." Eirian had not looked this excited and happy for quite some time and Meraude had been concerned.

The duchess smiled at her daughter.  "And what kind of healing did Ronal show you?"

"He told me about my green thumb and how I can use it to cure illnesses using plants."

"What is this green thumb he told you about? Both your thumbs look the same color to me." Meraude looked at her daughter curiously.

Eirian bounced a little in her seat and her eyes were sparkling. Meraude had not seen that sparkle for some time, and she had missed it. "He didn't say my thumb was really green to look at. That's what he called my talent for growing things. He said I could learn to harvest plants that I grow or find growing wild and turn them into medicines to help people heal from sickness. He said that healers who come to the Schola also teach classes in growing and using herbs and plants for healing. I could learn to be that kind of healer."

Eirian looked happier than Meraude had seen her look in some time, not since most of the other children had begun to spend more time at the Schola. "Master MacFarlane has told me of your talent for growing things, and he is not easily impressed. Growing plants and turning them into medicines to help sick people recover seems a perfect way to make your talent even more useful. But are you sure this is what you want to do? You will need to work at it. This is not something you can start and then give up when you get bored."

"Oh Maman, I will not get bored and I will work hard, just like I did when I healed the rose.  Please will you speak to someone at the Schola about allowing me to attend the classes about using plants to heal? Please."

"The Queen was most pleased with your rescuing of her favorite rose, and Master MacFarlane has told her of your special ability with plants. She is a patroness of the Schola, and I think we might speak to her about allowing you to attend classes to learn to be a herbalist. Would that make you happy?" Meraude squeezed Eirian's hand.

"Oh yes, Maman. That is what I want most to do.!"

Meraude stood. "I must go speak to Lord Rhodri now, but I will approach the Queen as soon as I can and we will see what can be arranged. You might not be Deryni, but your talent is most valuable and deserves to be nurtured. I will take you to the nursery now to play with Amelia until supper. I will tell you as soon as I have spoken with the Queen."

Eirian hugged her mother tightly around the waist."Oh thank you, Maman. I will do my very best if I am allowed to do this. You will see."

The Duchess took her daughter's hand and they left the solar together.
"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


I love this, I hadn't thought how hard it would be for Eirian.  And I envy her her green thumbs, I have the opposite talent, plants can be very healthy until the come into my care☹️
The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.


I think there is a lot she can learn from the schola, and it would be good for students to have some non Deryni classmates. I love Eirian's ability to talk to plants. They have done studies where caring words to plants does improve their growth.  My Grandmother had a green thumb. I do not. Her yard was so lush and her vegetable garden plentiful. I wish Eirian well in her studies.
May your horses have wings and fly!


Alas, most of my plants are plastic.

A nice scene, DFK.  It will be good for Eirian to be able to develop her very important talent.
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 story! Can hardly wait till you write some more, DFK!!
Judy Ward
You can buy a pretty good dog with money but you can't buy the wag of its tail.


I think good and well that a personal story is told and related about a person 'not Deryni', yet written so well and with heartfelt emphasis and meaning. Princess Eirian is not only willing to learn, she has spoken her desires to ones who see the value in continuing an education.


This is a delightful story! I had envisioned the Schola as being available to human as well as Deryni scholars (though admittedly it would likely have more of the latter, both because of the special emphasis on magical studies no other Schola in Gwynedd can offer, and also because there are other schools and universities available for humans to choose from), and healing is certainly a discipline where humans can learn nearly as much as the Deryni students. In some ways even the classes dealing more specifically with Deryni Healing would be beneficial to human students, in that anything that helps to foster understanding between the two subraces of humanity can only be a good thing when it comes to helping to minimize the fear and distrust between them in future generations.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


Thank you Evie. I agree that anything that fosters better understanding between humans and Deryni is a good thing. But this is the early days of the Schola and I don't see many humans seeking entry there, at least not at first, Also they have a very limited number of teachers who, in the early days, probably need to focus on the Deryni students who probably have a greater need. They have not been able to learn about their powers and how they should be used and this is critical to building trust with their human neighbors who have many more options. However, you have given me an idea. I think once Eirian gains admission, begins to learn about the uses of herbs and plants in healing, and has some success with healing illnesses, that will become known and some of the women in the castle will ask if they might have similar instruction. At this time it is Torenthi healers who are conducting the classes but as Eirian learns more and becomes more expert, she might even begin to hold some classes herself for the wives of those employed in the castle. This could become a major asset for Kelson's plan yo foster better relations among his human and Deryni subjects.
"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


In my story arc (in which things happen in my timeline that may or may not also be happening in yours, since I tend to think of our little individual fanfic universes as being like alternate dimensions to KK's canonical dimension that might sometimes intersect with each other but sometimes not), I had Sister Therese (a human who joined the Schola faculty due to her interest in healing and her years of experience as an infirmarian) teaching a class on herbal medicine for a mixed group of both Schola students and ladies of the Court, since knowing simple home remedies would have been part of a woman's general need-to-know education. So when it comes to herbal knowledge, at any rate, that might work as an early means of the Schola providing a service that even the human population could see some value in for themselves, and that might be a start in helping to generate goodwill and interest in the human side of the local populace . (Visionaries is also set just a few years after the Schola was established, around 1135/1136, if I'm remembering correctly.)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


I can imagine that the Schola would have an emphasis on healing given that it is the Deryni talent likely to be the most welcomed by non-Deryni. And both humans, and Deryni without the healing gift per se could learn  great deal that would be of benefit.

It also occurs to me that it would be good for Eirian to study under Torenthi healers and learn something more about her future homeland away from the royal court.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
(Psalm 46 v1)