Laurie couldn’t believe it. She’d always wanted a real friend and now she had one. Princess Jezebel, who preferred to be called Jazz, had a plan. Her family had a summer “cottage,” more like a palace. She had become friends with an old shepherd who lived nearby. She shared her unhappiness with him and he told her she always had a place to stay if she wanted it. She brought a sack of money and two horses and left the castle, intending never to returned. She really hoped Laurie would join her.
Laurie felt a little pang of sadness about leaving her stepmom. She quickly wrote her a note and left it inside her stepmom’s book, sticking out just a little, so she would see it. She didn’t tell her where they were going. She didn’t even know. But she thanked her for all she had done and promised to send word when she could.
They rode all night long and through the morning. Laurie wasn’t used to riding and her legs and bottom were sore, but she held on. Her life had been given back to her and she would do whatever it took. They rode past the “cottage” palace and Jazz said they were almost there. Laurie imagined the shepherd living in a little hut with a straw roof and dirt floors. She wondered if he would really be happy to have not only a princess but also her brother’s run-away fiancé living with him. She hoped so!
Saul laughed with gladness when he saw Jazz and welcomed Laurie, as well. He was an old man with sparkly blue eyes and a big bush of white hair that stood every which way on his head. The house turned out to be built of stone and had planks of wood for the floors. It had two bedrooms on the second floor and the main living space below. It was definitely not a hut.
“This is where I started my new life, and I’m happy to help you start yours,” he said. “But you will have to help. This house doesn’t take care of itself, although sometimes the food does cook itself.” He winked.
The big wooden wardrobe in their room contained clothes, simple handspan, but colorful There were dresses and also pants and shirts. Jazz and Laurie stared in amazement. Had Saul known they were coming? They looked at him and he winked again. “Simpler clothes will suit your life here,” he said. “And pants for you, Jazz. I know you prefer them. But now you both need rest.” He pulled two white nightshirts out of the bottom dresser drawer. The girls washed up and changed. When they came back to their room, they found a platter with bread, cheese and apples along with some buttermilk. They decided that Saul’s house was a magical place.
Laurie carried her full bag of wool back to the house. Saul had gone away for a few days, they weren’t sure where. He was very mysterious about his life now and his past. Laurie and Jazz were sure that he was more than the simple shepherd he claimed to be. They wanted to make him a present to thank him for his kindness. Laurie would spin the wool into yarn tonight, then they would dye it tomorrow so Jazz could finish weaving his cape. It was dark blue with yellow stars and swirls of white, a magician’s cape. Saul insisted he wasn’t a magician, but there was a little pot that cooked when they asked, and it made whatever they wanted. It was a gift from a friend, Saul told them. Saul wouldn’t tell them how the clothes that fit both of them perfectly just happened to be waiting in the wardrobe when they arrived.
He had helped them make disguises so they could go out of the house without fear of being recognized. When the king’s men came looking for the missing princess and fiancé, they walked away thinking they had spoken with an old man, his crazy old sister and their nephew. Laurie enjoyed being an old woman, although she didn’t like the teasing and sometimes the wig made her head itch.
The pot made macaroni and cheese for dinner, and Jazz gathered some fresh lettuce and herbs from the garden to make a salad. They sat behind the house and ate as they watched the moon rise. It was full and so bright that they could hardly see the stars.
“This would have been my anniversary if you hadn’t rescued me,” said Laurie.
“I’m really happy here,” said Jazz.
Laurie put her hand over Jazz’s. “Me, too.”
When the night got chilly, they lit a fire and worked on their spinning and weaving.
As they worked, a fat, warty toad hopped onto the table.
“What on earth?” said Laurie, who was sitting at the table.
Jazz hurried over to see, for she still loved all little creatures.
“He shouldn’t be here,” she said. “He should be living by a pond or some water.”
The toad started to croak, hopping back and forth between Jazz and Laurie.
“I think he wants something,” said Laurie.
“Don’t be silly, he’s a toad,” said Jazz. “But he does seem to want something. I wonder what it is.”
She started asking him about all the things she thought he might want, some water or mud, fat juicy flies, green leaves. That was all she could think of.
“Maybe he wants a lady toad,” said Laurie.
As Jazz started to disagree, the toad hopped excitedly off the table and onto Laurie’s lap.
Jazz laughed. “Maybe he thinks you’re a toad.”
“He reminds me of your brother, only this guy’s cuter.”
They heard a funny sound and looked. He was snoring, sound asleep on Laurie’s lap.
TO BE CONTINUED…..
If you want to read the rest of the story, here are links
Well, here’s the second installment of The Woolgatherer. It’s getting curiouser and curiouser. I wonder what will happen next.
It’s been a busy week this past week. Although I can’t remember everything. I did attend my first twitter Pitch party, which is where you create a 140 character (or less) pitch for your book and publishers and/or agents read them and “like” them if they’re interested. There’s a bunch of these on twitter, but I just found out about them. This one was called Pit2Pub. The woman who runs it told me that last time 12 people got book contracts from it!
It was mostly fun, and I got 3 likes from two publishers for my two novels. So I sent one manuscript off, but the other one wants chapter summaries, so I started working on them, but in order to summarize them I had to read them and when I started reading, I started editing and so, in short, I’m up to Chapter 5 of about 25 chapters. But I’ll keep plugging away at it. I let them know it would take a little while.
On Wednesday, I’m off to NYC to visit my daughter and attend the Society for Children’ Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference. I hope it will be fun. I always get nervous before I travel.
Oh, and I have other exciting news: an article I wrote will be in the Spring issue of Gateways Journal, which is the magazine for the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America.
Well, I guess that’s it for now.
Thanks for stopping by!