Chapter 13: The Garden of Errors

 

Jenny could see the Green horses waiting outside the Dome, and beyond them the Witches chairs and the Royal Carriage. And the Dragonflies’ wings reflecting all the colours of the rainbow:

Red … Yellow … Green … Blue … Indigo … Violet

Queen Peony led her party outside and Jenny watched the Dome close behind them. She had enjoyed her time amongst the LOST things, but she was quite nervous about the Garden of Errors.

Molly knew that Jenny was worried: ‘Jenny,’ she said, ‘the Garden is very beautiful. It’s full of Yellow flowers all the time. And Yellow is our favourite colour, isn’t it? And the Errors are just other people’s mistakes.’

‘But, Molly, sometimes other people’s mistakes are bad for you. Like when Daddy walked off with the wrong shopping trolley. That was bad for Emily and her dad. And when I lost my library book. That was bad for everyone.’

Molly pulled Jenny’s hand: ‘Well, when the Fairies remember how to put things right, it will be good for everyone. But, now the Queen is in her Carriage and she is looking impatient.’

Jenny and Molly hurried to the Royal Carriage, curtsied then climbed in beside Grandma Lily. And as soon as the door was closed the Dragonflies left the ground and pulled the Carriage high, away from the Dome. Soon they were flying over the most enormous Yellow Garden. Jenny had never seen so many daffodils. But there were also Yellow tulips, hedges of Yellow sunflowers and tall laburnum trees. And everywhere the lawns were speckled with cowslips and buttercups.

Grandma Lily pointed to a wide bed of Yellow snapdragons: ‘The Dragonflies will not land near them because they bite. Although, I have never seen that happen!’

Just past the snapdragons the Dragonflies started to descend. They brought the Carriage to land in a meadow of giant dandelions. And, as the Witches landed beside them, clouds of giant dandelion seeds filled the air. Somehow, that made Jenny feel happier.

‘Dandelions are so magical, aren’t they?’ said Molly.

‘But they say if you pick them, you’ll wet the bed,’ whispered Jenny.

‘Nonsense!’ laughed Grandma Lily. ‘That’s just a Tale the Fairies tell, to stop you picking dandelions before their clocks are ready.’

‘Really?’ said Queen Peony. ‘I didn’t know that.’

*

Everyone stepped out into the dandelion meadow, although Sir Lucas and the Knights rode on ahead to check all was safe. And as they made their way, dandelion seeds filled the air. Jenny wanted to run and catch them, but Grandma Lily warned her that, if she fell over, they would have to waste time picking her up. So Jenny walked sensibly and soon they reached the first Picnic Garden. It had tables and chairs, but no picnic, just piles of money and several miserable-looking Boy Fairies, who were scratching their heads. Some of the Queen’s Fairies started to pull their hair to make them feel worse, but the Queen clapped her hands and ordered them to go and sit on the grass until they remembered how to behave.

‘This is where the wrong change has to be recalculated,’ whispered Molly. ‘But Prince Sorrel’s Boy Fairies can’t do their sums anymore.’

Queen Peony sighed with frustration: ‘Witch Daisy,’ she commanded, ‘you are our best Counting Witch. For Goodness sake help these Fairies. And do not leave them before they can all say their Times Tables. Up to Twenty-three! And including the Tens and Twenties!’

Jenny bit her lip and said nothing. She only knew as far as the tens. And why on Earth would anyone need to know the twenty-three times table?

‘Because that’s how many jelly babies King Persimmon has in his sandwiches,’ said Molly, reading Jenny’s thoughts. Jenny was getting quite used to her doing that.

Queen Peony led them briskly towards the next Picnic Garden where the tables were covered in broken cups and saucers, teapots with their spouts missing, cracked pots and chipped garden gnomes. In the middle of one of the tables was a large cauldron of bubbling liquid. Some of the Raggedy Knights were already there helping the King’s Men to sweep broken bits and pieces out of the way so that the Royal Party would not accidentally step in them. But their task was being made more difficult by a swarm of tiny silver and white boy and girl Fairies who were dashing about on top of the tables tossing more and more broken things onto the ground.

‘What are they doing?’ demanded the Queen.

One of the Raggedy Knights stopped sweeping and bowed towards the Queen: ‘Majesty, the Tooth Fairies cannot find the correct pieces, so they are throwing the wrong pieces onto the ground. And they say that even when they find the correct pieces the magic glue does not work anymore.’

Queen Peony and Grandma Lily walked over to look in the cauldron. Jenny nudged Molly for an explanation.

‘These are the Tooth Fairies. They mend all the things that get broken when their owners look away,’ said Molly. ‘The Fairies have to stick them together by the time their owners look back. So the glue has to be very magical. They make it from melted icicles and all the teeth that they collect from under children’s pillows. But I think that the Fairy Gluemaker must have made that pot of glue the wrong way.’

And sure enough Grandma Lily was sniffing the bubbling glue and frowning.

Queen Peony stepped away in disgust: ‘Witch Cardamine, Witch Acacia, Witch Bindweed, please try to do something with these Fairies. At the very least just take them away from here until this whole problem has been solved.’

And so Queen Peony went from one Picnic Garden to the next, leaving her Witches and Fairies behind to help repair the Errors. Witch Columbine stayed to help correct the wrong ideas. Witch Honesty stayed to help mend broken promises. And Witch Love-in-a-Mist stayed to help mend broken hearts; Witch Elderflower stayed to correct all the spelling mistakes; Witch Speedwell stayed to repair all the bad dreams … and so on, until all the Witches and most of the Queen’s Fairies were busy helping.

So now the Queen was alone with only Grandma Lily, Jenny, Molly and a handful of Fairies to guard her. And, of course, her Raggedy Knights. Sir Lucas galloped over to inform Queen Peony that the Knights had captured the Knave Prince Sorrel’s Fairy General and imprisoned him in the Bandstand. Sir Lucas ran his fingers through his Green curls: ‘Your Majesty, we believe he has information about the Prince.’

‘Take us to him!’ demanded the Queen.

So Sir Lucas bowed and led the way. But as they approached the Bandstand a disgusting noise filled their ears.

‘It is the Band,’ explained Sir Lucas. ‘They have forgotten their music so they are all playing different notes. In fact, I think they are playing different tunes, although it’s difficult to tell.’

The Queen stood still and put her hands over her ears: ‘Sir Lucas,’ she said, ‘take my Knights and confiscate their instruments!’ Use force if necessary. I cannot think with such noise going on!’

So the Queen, Grandma Lily, Jenny and Molly and the few Fairies watched from a safe distance as the Raggedy Knights collected up the drums and trumpets, cymbals and triangles. The Queen’s Fairies laughed to see a fat trumpeter running away through the dandelions holding his trumpet above his head. But at last all was quiet and Queen Peony continued towards the Bandstand with Grandma Lily and her Fairies hurrying behind.

Jenny tugged Molly’s sleeve: ‘Do the Fairies have names?’

‘Of course they do!’ said Molly. ‘But nobody knows what they are.’

By the time Jenny and Molly arrived at the Bandstand, the Queen was sitting in the Conductor’s chair and Grandma Lily was questioning the Fairy General. He was sobbing into his hankie, which Jenny thought was quite a strange thing for a General to do. Although, Sir Lucas and two of his Raggedy Knights were standing behind him looking very stern, and that might have explained the sobbing. The General confessed that Prince Sorrel was last seen hurrying through the Valley of Terrors towards his Ebony Palace. He was carrying a box and he was in a very peculiar mood. It was just after that that his Fairies started to forget how to do things.

‘Please, Your Majesty, make everything normal again,’ whimpered the General. ‘We do not wish for things to be this way.’

Jenny suddenly felt sorry for the General, and she could see, from the way the Raggedy Knights were looking at each other, that they felt sorry for him too. Sir Lucas asked the Queen’s permission to question him. She nodded her permission, so he stepped round and took Grandma Lily’s place.

‘General,’ said Sir Lucas, ‘have you heard any recent reports from the Valley of Terrors? Six of the King’s Men entered there and nothing has been heard from them since. I gather your Fairies will no longer enter the Valley.’

The General looked up at Sir Lucas. His eyes were big with fright: ‘It has become very dark and scary in there. We all watched the King’s Men enter but we have not seen them return.’

Sir Lucas turned to the Queen. He was looking very brave: ‘Your Majesty, we believe it is too dangerous for any of you within the Valley of Terrors. Please allow the Raggedy Knights to go alone to the Ebony Palace. We will bring news as soon as possible.’

The Queen beckoned Grandma Lily aside and Jenny watched them whispering to one another. ‘Molly, do we have to go through the Valley?’ she whispered. ‘Isn’t there a long way round?’

‘No,’ said Molly. I’m afraid that he only path to The Ebony Palace goes straight through the Valley of Terrors.’