When Margueritte awoke, she could not wait to tell Elsbeth all about her adventures with Gerraint, son of Erbin and Ali the thief and Bodanagus the king. She leapt out of bed and then remembered her ankle which still hurt though it was not nearly as swollen as it had been. All the same, she limped as fast as she could to Elsbeth’s room where she cracked the door and peeked. Elsbeth was still fast asleep, and Little White Flower slept on the pillow above Elsbeth’s head.
Margueritte frowned and closed the door as quietly as possible. She felt disappointed as she returned to her own comfy covers. She saw castles, and Gwynyvar, and Arthur, and everything. Rhiannon was the most beautiful creature she had ever seen. And there were battles, and monsters, and intrigue and romance. They had everything! By contrast, Margueritte felt her life was so dull.
“Sheep and dogs.” She described it. “And Latin every Wednesday.” She pulled the covers over her head.
Marta came in. “And so? We are awake.” Marta said, as she pulled out Margueritte’s favorite dress. Margueritte uncovered, and when Marta picked up her matching red slippers, Margueritte could not help herself.
“Shoes! Shoes!” Margueritte shouted and giggled.
For all of her acceptance, in the end, Lady Brianna had the hardest time adjusting to having the little ones around. Lord Bartholomew had no trouble getting the little ones to earn their supper, when he could find them. He even got to where he could look Hammerhead in the eye. Luckless and Redux, of course, hit it off right away, while Grimly found a place acting as page for the young Squire, Tomberlain. He also became invaluable breeding the Arabians and mixing them into the herd to produce just the right horse for his lordship—one which he finally hoped would actually be a winner. Lolly the dwarf and Marta ended up good friends, because it turned out Lolly also preferred a clean and tidy house. Marta finally had her help, and she and Lolly even began to tell jokes about how, in the face of work, Maven could disappear quicker than an elf. And then there was Elsbeth.
Elsbeth and Little White Flower became inseparable. They went everywhere and did everything together, whatever it was they did. Margueritte felt a little left out until she found Goldenrod one-day, peeking at her from the tree over her head.
“Come down,” Margueritte called, and her new puppy, a gift from the queen, barked, excited.
“Can’t,” Goldenrod insisted. “The beast might get me.”
“Come down,” Margueritte said again. “Puppy won’t bother you. He just gets excited, that’s all. He loves Little White Flower,” which was true enough.
“If you come down and get big, you will be much bigger than Puppy,” Margueritte suggested. Goldenrod scrunched up her face. Her little head had not thought of that.
“Okay,” she said grandly as she flitted in her mind from one position to another without an afterthought of any kind, the way Fairies do. She was down in a flash and stood looking for all the world like a fourteen or fifteen-year-old girl, which Margueritte calculated meant she was actually about seventy years old.
Puppy stood up to her thigh and panted, and she petted the beast grandly and eventually got down beside Margueritte, looking like a true young woman and making Margueritte feel very girlish as she had not quite turned twelve.
“You’ve been watching for days,” Marguerite pointed out. “But never close enough to call.”
“Yes, but I wanted to see,” Goldenrod responded in pure honesty. “Mother said we are not supposed to bother you, even though we now know who you are. She said it would be just awful if all the little ones flocked to the Triangle. Why, the crops would all be trampled there, and nothing would grow quite right anywhere else. She said we all have our work to do and we should stick to it, and that doing a good job is what you really want, anyway.”
“But you could not resist coming to see,” Marguerite said, not even bothering to put it as a question.
“Exactly,” Goldenrod said.
“You are a little rebellious, huh?”
“Yes. I guess I am.”
“I was just thinking of being a little rebellious myself,” Margueritte admitted. “I am going to be twelve, you know, and that is almost a teenager.”
Goldenrod’s face lit up with heartbreaking joy. She took Margueritte’s hand without thinking about what she was doing. “We could be rebellious together,” she said with such contagious excitement it got Puppy to his feet and his tail wagging again.
Margueritte held on to that hand, freely. “That would be great,” she admitted, very much wanting a friend at the moment. “Only I haven’t decided yet in what way I want to be rebellious.”
“I have a question, too.” Goldenrod looked suddenly serious. “What does rebellious mean?”
In any case, it got settled, that Goldenrod would come to visit every chance she got, and that happened often enough. She usually came to the pasture when Margueritte tended her sheep, because every time she got too close to Sir Barth, his eyes teared up, and his nose filled, and he began to have inexplicable sneezing fits. But it turned out to be a good thing, that Marguerite and the fairy became friends, because on the night of Mayday, Margueritte got awakened by a tapping on her window. It happened around midnight. The moon looked nearly full, and the light made a bright square and splash across the floor.
At first Marguerite thought a stick broke off the old oak and got caught in the roofing. She imagined it hanging down, tapping on her glass. That happened once, long ago. The minute she opened her window to see what was the matter, however, Goldenrod fluttered in, all in a rush.
“It’s Elsbeth.” Goldenrod panted, overexerted. “Little White Flower has taken her to the hills. There are unsavories there. Come quick.”
Margueritte understood that Elsbeth was in a risky situation, but not in trouble yet. She nodded. She wisely felt it would be best not to follow the fairy alone, but she had to think a minute. Father would not do if silence was needed. All his sneezing would give them away much too soon. Tomberlain, on the other hand, might be some help, and it also would not hurt to have Grimly and his bits of magic around.
Margueritte tapped her shoulder and Goldenrod came to stand there and held tight to Margueritte’s hair. “Not another word.” Margueritte whispered and Goldenrod nodded, though Marguerite could hardly see her from that angle. Slowly and quietly, they went out onto the upstairs landing. Margueritte left her door open for the light she could get through the window. In Elsbeth’s room, sure enough, Elsbeth and Little White Flower were not to be found. Margueritte left the door to Elsbeth’s room open as well, and that gave her just a little more light to see. She could not do anything about the creaking floorboards.
Tomberlain was hard to wake, and she had to cover his mouth to keep him from shouting. His eyes got big, but he recognized his sister and the worried look on her face and quickly his startled look changed to curiosity and concern. Grimly got up immediately when they entered the room. He helped wake the boy, but then Margueritte had to explain.
“Elsbeth has run off,” she said. “She and Little White Flower have gone into the woods at night and Goldenrod fears there may be trouble.”
“We should wake father,” Tomberlain said, almost too loud.
“Shh. No,” Margueritte responded. “We don’t want her in trouble, just to fetch her home, safely.”
Tomberlain nodded, rose, and dressed quickly. He tied his long knife to his belt and Grimly also grabbed his own weapon. “But how far is it?” Tomberlain asked.
“Far, far.” Goldenrod squeaked in her little whisper.
“No good.” Grimly did whisper. “Can’t walk in time and dare not take time for horses.”
Margueritte thought briefly about being in her nightgown. Seeing Tomberlain dressed made her think, but she imagined she had no time to change. She needed to think of something else, and at last she had an idea. “Come on,” Margueritte said, and lead them back into Elsbeth’s room where Maven had been cleaning earlier in the day and lazily left things stacked in the corner. “Can you help us fly?” she asked Goldenrod.
“Oh no,” Goldenrod said seriously. “You are much too big for my little magic. I’m not nearly old enough for that.”
“I think, yes, maybe.” She sounded uncertain. She sprinkled golden dust on the broom, spoke some words of the first tongue which were almost unintelligible. She scrunched her little face in such a concentrated effort, Margueritte felt sure she would get a little headache, if she did not pass out altogether. All at once, the broom jerked in Margueritte’s hand, and she had to hold it down.
“Steady,” she told the broom. “Wait for us.” Though she imagined she had no power to perform the magic herself, because of her special relationship with the little ones, she did have some ability to control their magic, once the magic was performed.