Chapter 4 The May Queen
Asia recalled the story of the Prince in the window lights, how a water nixie had changed him into a frog. Now the spell was broken. Now the Prince must go to his Princess, for she is waking up. The spell that she received from the boy dragon lifted out from her mind when she dreamed. Now these evil thoughts appeared as the three witches that wreaked havoc on the land where the fairies lived.
"The Prince will make everything all right again," thought Asia. She looked up at him and smiled. Then the Prince turned to her and said: "When I leave, go near to the Maypole and wait . . . soon you will find the medicine you seek. Do not be afraid, Asia. Never falter in your step!"
Asia stepped back and watched the unicorn run forward and jump, lifting its snow white wings in flight. The Prince and the unicorn circled ever higher, spiraling up into the sky, shining upon everything like the noon day sun.
Remembering her task, Asia stood near to the Maypole and waited. The children all were in a joyful mood. They began dancing in a circle around the maypole. A tall, strong young man ran up to the pole and climbed it carrying some colorful ribbons in his hand. As he climbed, the long ribbons fell all about him reaching to the ground. He tied the ends to the top of the pole and jumped down. The children ran and took hold of the ends of the ribbons that trailed on the ground, pulled them outward, then placed them carefully onto the ground.
There were screams of joy and laughter behind Asia and she turned to find out who was making the commotion. A team of two boys and two girls were carrying towards her a wicker chair made of bamboo reeds. The children placed it just beyond the ribbons and told her to sit. As Asia sat upon it a bower was placed over her and to her sides by another team of children. Girls with baskets of flowers came over and decorated it while singing.
A young girl wearing a dress with yellow daisy flower patterns walked up to Asia and placed a crown of daisies and baby’s breath on her head. Then she backed away and curtsied. She held hands with some boys and girls and, walking delicately around Asia’s chair they sang:
The children moved away from Asia’s chair and circled about the maypole. Two circles they made, one inside the other. They lifted up the ribbons and began to move around the maypole.
Asia watched in silence and was amazed to see the ribbons weave in and out and around till the weaving had reached nearly to the ground. What the children had made reminded Asia of a circus tent, only this tent was much more colorful. At the bottom, in front of her, some children had parted the ribbons. All the children called to her to enter her palace.
The entrance to the ribbon palace was small, so Asia got down on all fours, crawled through the entrance and stood up on the other side. The rays of the sun were shining through the ribbons casting beautiful colors throughout the room. The palace room was very large, much more so than Asia had expected. There were many flowers blooming all about her feet, rabbits hopped about, squirrels scurried to and fro, and birds flew about above her head and up along the ceiling. The plants grew from the ground, blossomed into lovely flowers, withered and fell to the ground only to sprout up anew from the seeds that had fallen with them. This happened so fast that they appeared to be blinking.
Asia had to look up and away from them for she was loosing her balance. She looked towards the end of the room and there, to her surprise, stood a lovely woman whose eyes were crystal blue and whose blond hair stood out upon her head like wheat grass. Asia thought she looked familiar and then remembered. She was the priestess in the window lights who spoke to the Kingdom of people about the strange quest the Prince had to go on. The priestess stood behind a wooden table and on the table before her was a white cake with seven candles.
"In celebration of your birthday, Asia," said the priestess, "come blow out the candles."
"It isn't my birthday yet," replied Asia.
"I have a gift for you," said the priestess. She lifted her hands, revealing a golden cup that she placed on the table on the side facing Asia. "This cup contains the medicine you have been seeking."
"I am seeking the medicine that will help my friend get well," said Asia.
"Then come and blow out the candles," said the priestess. "In celebration of your birthday come and receive your gift."
Asia stepped forward, and as she did, another lit candle appeared on the cake. With each step she took, another candle appeared on the cake. Also, Asia began to feel strange. As she stepped forward, she grew taller and older. Now her legs and arms and whole body were longer! She took another step and again the grassy floor seemed to shrink in size. In just a few steps she had become a young woman, in a few more, a woman the age and size of her mother. Somehow her clothes magically changed in size as she walked across the ground.
The animals did not appear bothered by her presence. A rabbit hopped across her path, a squirrel scurried about looking for nuts. A cat rolled on its back and swatted at a plant growing near its head.
Asia was only a few feet away from the cup when her legs began to tire. "What is wrong with me?" she asked herself. Her hands and the skin of her arms reminded her of Grandmama. Now she was no longer a strong young woman, not even like a woman in the prime of her life. Now she had grown old and it was then that she realized the danger of reaching for the cup.
"I do not know if I can make it," she said to the priestess.
"Come and blow out the candles," replied the Priestess. "Come and receive the gift."
Along the path, Asia noticed a stick lying on the ground and she picked it up. It was the perfect size and shape of a walking cane. Perhaps if she turned back, she would not need the cane. Again she would become the young girl she used to be. But only a few feet away was the cup. How could she turn back now? "Never falter in your step!" were the words of the Prince. Somehow the Prince must have believed that she could find the medicine.
Asia took another step and then another. Her back was bent over, her whole body ached. "I am so weary!" Asia sighed, looking about for a place where she could sit. The birthday cake now had so many burning candles, it appeared to be on fire. Asia took another step and reached her hand toward the cup. "If I continue this," she thought, "then I might die before I reach the cup." Asia took another step. Her legs gave out from under her, but as she fell her fingers touched the cup and it fell with her.
The children began to unwind the ribbons of the maypole. When it was finally undone they were surprised to see Asia lying on the ground soaking wet!
"Asia, wake up! What is the matter with you? Why are you all wet?" Brandy leaned over and shook Asia. Asia looked up at Brandy, looked down at her body that was young again. She jumped up and hugged Brandy. "I'm alive! I'm not dead! I did it!" she squealed.
"What did you do? asked Brandy.
"Why I . . . " Asia looked around but saw no cup, then felt the drips of water falling from her hair. "I guess the water saved me, but now there is none left for Bobby." Asia's heart sank.
"What are you talking about?" asked Brandy.
"I found the medicine that would help Bobby but it spilt on my hair."
The two girls just stood there wondering what to do. Suddenly, Brandy's eyes lit up. "Hey, I know!" she exclaimed. "We'll wring your hair out on Bobby. Maybe that will work!"
Meanwhile, the other children, who had been standing about, decided to continue their Mayday celebration. They pulled Asia and Brandy up to the Maypole and began dancing around it. Asia and Brandy held onto the Maypole and ran wildly around it with the other children till it seemed the whole world was spinning. Suddenly the pole disappeared from their hands and the world no longer was spinning. The children and the land they had been in rose up like a cloud. It whirled above their heads round and round, lifting upwards into the starlit night sky.
"Oh Pooh!" screamed Asia. She had felt her hair and it was dry. " That spinning cloud must have dried my hair!"
The two girls looked out and realized they were back in the fields that the Sandman had taken them to. The cloud was drifting over the field. On it went and then it hovered over the dreaming fields where Bobby lay in his flower in a deathlike sleep.
Asia and Brandy ran speedily through the field arriving at the flower in time to see an amazing sight! The cloud hovered above Bobby and began to rain! The flower petals curling inwards over Bobby now lifted and spread out. Bobby, who's face now shone with life and health began to dream into the mists.
Asia and Brandy watched the dreams appearing in the mists. They saw a giant slam a huge hammer down, striking the ground with such force that sparks flew and lightning flashed and thunder rolled through the mists.
"He must be having a nightmare!" exclaimed Brandy, stepping closer to the side of her friend. The nightmare passed; rolling dark clouds gave way to blue sky, the giant turned into a tall tree that spread it's leafy branches out toward the light. The girls laughed to see a jackrabbit hop about the tree trunk. They would have been happy to stand there and watch these pleasant dreams for a long time, but they did not have a long time. The night was growing old and the moon stood low to the horizon and the souls of the children were beginning to float back up into the sky.
A sudden gust of wind blew into the faces of the two girls, and just as suddenly, it stopped.
"It is very late or very early my sweet Petunias!" said a familiar voice. Asia and Brandy turned and saw the Sandman sitting in his cart that had settled on the ground.
"We didn't even see you!" exclaimed Brandy, running up and jumping onto the seat next to him. Asia quickly followed, sitting next to Brandy and pushing the bangs out of her eyes.
"Looks like you two had quite an adventure!" said the Sandman.
"You would not even believe it!" exclaimed Asia.
The cart lifted up with its umbrella turning round and round, then crossed over the field in the direction of their homes.