#AStoryAWeek | Week 10 (Mar 03 - Mar 09): Elodie Pathfinder's Collected Tales of Reason and Ruin - The Royal Amphibian (Excerpt)

Week Ten | 2,431 Words

Elodie Pathfinder's Collected Tales of Reason and Ruin - The Royal Amphibian

Mr Exley of Lantern Way was good enough to share this story with me. An acquaintance for some years I hope I may now be bold enough to declare him a friend. The afternoon that we spent together whilst he related the story below was one of the most enjoyable I have had for some time. Mr Exley is a lovely gentleman who enjoys flouting convention. As a person who admires those brave enough to distinguish themselves from the crowd I rather cherish him. Mr Exley is the proud owner of The Clockwork Umbrella Co., an establishment filled with colourful fabrics and ticking frames. It is true, the umbrellas do take a moment to put up, but Mr Exley told me that he would “rather wait a moment for something beautiful than experience something mundane immediately”. As the proud owner of my own exquisitely designed umbrella I have to agree with him. The winding of the key provides anticipation and satisfaction at each turn. The smooth and automated extension of the handle as it ticks and tocks into a frilled and hand-painted canopy makes every rainy day a joy.

Mr Exley has a large glass window to display his wares, with the words “good things come to those who wait” painted across the bottom. When last I was there some wag had used soap to cross out “wait” and scrawl “get wet” instead…

Once upon a time, when wishing was having, there was a fair and wise king who had three daughters. All were famed for their beauty, but the youngest, Princess Lilybet, was so exceedingly beautiful that the Sun himself was enchanted with her whenever she stepped out into the sunshine.

The King’s castle had many fine gardens, and it was at the bottom of the largest of these that there stood a lime tree and a fountain. Whenever she became too hot the youngest princess would run off through wooded glades to reach this shaded and pretty dell. The lime tree offered a broad canopy of fragrant leaves, and was bound with three iron bands around its trunk. If you pressed your ear up against the smooth bark between two of the bands you could hear a faint and slow noise, like distant drums.

The water of the fountain, deep and dark, was always warm to the touch. An ornamental cherub watched over the small pool, his brass bow pulled back to his rosy cheeks, firing a rare sally of hot water into the air, watching it land in the fountain, sunlight catching the drops of water as they fell and creating a rainbow of pretty sparkles in the air.