This is the eighth section of my story “The Rose in Twelve Petals.” If you would like to see the previous sections, look below!
Long after, when the gardener has grown into an old man, he will tell his grandchildren about that day: skittish horses being harnessed by panicked grooms, nobles struggling with boxes while their valets carry armchairs and even bedsteads through the palace halls, the King in a pair of black velvet slippers shouting directions. The cooks leave the kettles whistling in the kitchen, the Queen Dowager leaves her jewels lying where she has dropped them while tripping over the hem of her nightgown. Everyone runs to escape the spreading lethargy that has already caught a canary in his cage, who makes soft noises as he settles into his feathers. The flowers are closing in the garden, and even the lobsters that the chef was planning to serve with melted butter for lunch have lain down in a corner of their tank.
In a few hours, the palace is left to the canary, and the lobsters, and the Princess lying on the floor of the tower.
He will say, “I was pruning a rosebush at the bottom of the tower that day. Look what I took away with me!” Then he will display a rose of the variety called Britannia, with its twelve petals half-open, still fresh and moist with dew. His granddaughter will say, “Oh, grandpa, you picked that in the garden just this morning!” His grandson, who is practical and wants to be an engineer, will say, “Grandpa, people can’t sleep for a hundred years.”
(Illustration by Walter Crane.)