by Cassandra Solon Parry
Oh, she is a devil!
What does she grow in her garden? Bleeding Heart with its perfect, pretty heart-shaped droplets clinging to the stem in pink and red; Nightshade with its black berries in which it stores its poison; Firethorn that blazes with its golden berries and pierces with its needles. Everyone knows not to go in the garden.
But Little Boy Blue doesn’t know.
He loves the colors of the pale-green and blood-red hellebores. The sinister fritillaries seem to nod their snaky heads his way, encouragingly. He skips through the garden gate and, bairn that he is, lies down on the path to better look for funny, little crawling things that hide among the leaves and stones. Breaching the flower border, he wriggles between the tall-growing stems of pale foxgloves and dark, haunted-blue delphiniums. He peers up through the twisted, tearing branches of the hawthorn tree.
The lady spies him from the window and she comes downstairs, and she opens the door. “Hello, little boy in blue,” she says. “What a pretty mortal child you are! Have you come to pick the flowers and eat the plump round berries?”
“No,” says Little Boy Blue, looking upon the face of the lady who is very fair though her hair’s dark as a crow, and her eyes green as grass after a hard rain. “I came to ask if you would be my friend.”
The lady in green, whose clothes are made from the cloth of leaves, laughs and says, “Oh, but I will.” She holds the door open for him so that he can go into the house which is crooked in all its dimensions, swathed in ivy and half-swallowed by a holly bush. Oh, she is a devil!
First, he must be fed.
He dines on blackberries and a cup of honey, proffered by a honey bee.
Then, he must be clothed.
He is dressed in a cloth of fresh, woven grass, soft and fine. He wears a flower crown.
Then he must hear the music.
He hears a choir of blue tits that come down out of the chimney and trill as they flutter before him. There is a toad that croaks the bass part, and the lady herself sings the alto. Oh, she is a devil.
What a marvellous time he has had! Now he is ever so tired. ‘Thank you so very much,’ says Little Boy Blue, stifling a yawn. ‘Now I must get home.’
“Now, dear,” says she, “there is no need to rush away. Come sit here with me. Rest in my arms, and close your eyes a while.” She is so warm, and he is so tired: within a minute he has fallen fast asleep.
Who knows what it is that he dreams of? but sometimes he laughs in his sleep and sometimes he cries.
When he wakes, he is lying on the bare brown earth. He aches from top to toe. A man full grown, with a tangled beard and a sunburnt head. His thoughts are all a muddle; his eyes are still full of dreams. Now he sits in a holly bush, where a crow squawks and blue tits flit here and there. Wherever he goes, nobody has heard of Little Boy Blue. If you speak with him, he will only rave about a most beautiful lady with grass green eyes and soft black hair. He says she was the loveliest creature that ever walked on the earth.
But, oh, she was a devil.
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