Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Imogen, the spring queen

A children’s short story for Easter by Edward Sierpowski.

A children’s short story for Easter by Edward Sierpowski.

IMOGEN was awake early as she wanted to do a bit more reading while it was still quiet and before the rush of the day started.

She peered out of the window to see a frost on the ground and said to herself: “Spring is a bit slow in coming.”

With that she sat on her bed and found her page in the book. Soon she was deeply engrossed and enjoying the story.

Then, just as she was starting a new chapter, an awfully familiar tingling started in her feet.



She quickly looked up and, sure enough, there on the floor was a familiar patch opening up and glowing with a rainbow of colours. She put the book aside and jumped off the bed.

“Loppy?” she called into the gap.

A distant “Yes, miss” came in reply and a scurrying up the rainbow path.

“Sorry to be a nuisance, miss.”

“It’s wonderful to see you and so soon.” Imogen picked up the the rabbit and gave him a hug.

“Ah, yes, well....” the rabbit was searching for words.

“Something the matter?” asked Imogen, hopefully. “Need my help?”

“Yes, miss, I didn’t know what else to do.”

“Why, whatever can it be?”

“We seem to have lost spring.”

“Is that why we still have frost?”

“Yes, miss.”

They were now both on the rainbow path on their way to Loppy’s home under the great oak.

“So what can I do?”

“Well, what usually happens is the Spring Queen comes and tells the snow to go away and starts off the season by sprinkling some seeds to get things started.”

“And?”

“It’s about a week late and we’ve had no word of her.”

“So how can I do that then?”

“Oh anyone can, it just has to be done but traditionally we have the Spring Queen.”

“So why don’t you just go out and do it?” asked  Imogen.

“Because all our holes to the garden of the great oak are frozen over and the alarm hasn’t gone off so no one has thought to try anything else. The only way out I can see is up through the great oak. And...” Loppy paused.

“Yes?”

“Rabbits don’t climb so well,” replied Loppy, looking a bit embarrassed.

“Oh, all right then,” agreed Imogen, still doubting that she would manage.

“What do I have to do when I get there?”

They had reached the big roots of the great oak near the coloured dome of the rabbits’ home.

“Well,” said the rabbit, getting excited, “there are some seeds” and he put some in each of her pyjama pockets.

“When you reach the outside you need to tell the snow to go away and scatter the seeds to start the new growth for spring.”

“What do I have to say exactly?”

“Oh, anything as long as it is telling the snow to go away.”

“That’s it?” said Imogen, surprised.

“Oh yes, you see it’s the thought that counts and the magic will know, but it just needs a bit of a prod to get going.” Loppy grinned.

“If I had known that I would have used a lot of magic by now.”

“Ah, but it only works in special places and at special times like Easter and Christmas, or in the Garden of the Seasons or the North Pole.”

“I thought it wouldn’t be that easy.”

Then Imogen climbed up inside the trunk and hitched and grabbed, scrambled and pulled her way up until she crawled out of the knot hole on to a branch high up the tree. From the outside the great oak looked even more impressive.

Imogen shinned along the large branch until there was enough space for her to stand safely and see out from between the twigs.

“Oh, my!” she exclaimed as she saw how much snow there was still lying. “It’s definitely still winter here.”

She thought about what Loppy had said to her and prepared some words in her mind.

“I hope this works,” she mumbled under her breath.

Then, taking a big breath, she commanded:

“Away from here, away you go.

“No more ice and no more snow.”

To her surprise, as soon as Imogen had said the words, the cloudy sky grew brighter and the sun burst through.

Quickly, Imogen filled her hands with the seeds from her pockets and, first with one arm, then the other, she waved them in a wide arc in front of her, releasing the seeds.

As they landed, the snow receded and little green shoots appeared. First snowdrops looked out over the melting snow.

Then, as if the world was opening its eyes, bursts of colourful crocuses opened to greet the warming sunshine. Imogen clapped her hands in delight.

Spring had begun.

“Gawk,” said the magpie appearing beside her.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Imogen. “But I wonder what happened to the real Spring Queen.”

The magpie hopped and fluttered and gawked at her, then took off and circled the great oak and landed on a lower branch.

Imogen looked down but it wasn’t the bird she noticed. Because the snow had melted she now saw someone reclining under the tree.

“Gawk, gawk,” went the bird and hopped lower.

Imogen climbed down after it until eventually she stood beside the sleeping person.

“Oh my!” she exclaimed. “This must be the Spring Queen. I wonder what happened?”

“Gawk! Waarrk!” went the magpie and picked up a shiny object.

“Just a minute, you!” Imogen scolded the bird. “Stop stealing for once.”

The bird dropped the object in surprise and fluttered to a branch above, still gawking rapidly, upset.

Imogen picked up the object and looked at it. It was a beautiful silver hair comb studded with colourful gems that made it look as if it was covered with flowers.

“This must belong to the Spring Queen,” she said. “She must have dropped it.”

Gently, Imogen combed it back into the sleeping queen’s hair and stood back.

In a moment the Spring Queen took a very deep breath and her eyes fluttered open. She sat up, gave them a rub and looked about.

Upon seeing Imogen standing there, she said with surprise: “Oh, hello.”

“Hello, your majesty.” Imogen curtsied. “I’m glad you’re awake now and I must be getting home.”

“Well, this is a surprise. I must have dropped the comb and without it I couldn’t wake to start spring.”

“Yes,” replied Imogen. “Loppy was worried and asked me for help. I’m not sure how much help the naughty magpie was.”

There was a loud “wraakk, gawk” from above her.

“Yes, I am talking about you,” said Imogen looking up.

“Oh, don’t mind Shady,” said the Spring Queen, “he’s as helpful as he can be.”

“Gawk,” went the bird, tilting his head and blinking.

“So, that’s your name,” said Imogen. “I met him last year when he brought the warren an abandoned bunny.”

“Oh, you’re that ‘bigun’ the rabbits talk about,” said the Spring Queen, “then I have a gift for you.”

Reaching into her flowery apron, she took out a shiny brooch, which sparkled in the sunlight.

“Wear it with pride and honour for you are the meaning of true friendship,” she said, pinning the broach to Imogen’s pyjama top, where it sparkled.

It was in the shape of a rabbit holding an egg. The rabbit was made of shiny smooth silver with a blue amethyst eye and the egg was decorated with all sorts of gems.

Imogen beamed. “It’s beautiful, thank you,” she said and curtsied again as best she could.

Shady hopped closer, cawing softly and eyeing up the brooch.

“Now, now, you have enough of your own things,” said the Spring Queen.

Shady seemed to caw with disappointment.

“Well, I must really be going now or I will be missed and I can’t really tell anyone where I’ve been,” said Imogen with slight sadness.

She loved her adventures with the rabbits and wished they would happen more often.

At her feet Loppy appeared. “All the alarms have gone off, miss. You did it! Now we can get a move on...”

His voice trailed off as he saw the Spring Queen.

“Sorry, ma’am, didn’t mean to be rude.” And he bowed his head.

“That’s quite all right, my dear,” said the Spring Queen, “you’re quite the inventive hero yourself, aren’t you?”

She picked him up and rubbed noses with him.

Imogen giggled at the sight. Loppy went cross-eyed and hopped in circles until the Spring Queen’s magic had left him.

“Please take Imogen home now,” she said.

“Yes, ma’am!” replied Loppy, almost shouting. If he could, he would have stood to attention and saluted.

“Goodbye,” said Imogen.

“Thank you,” said the Spring Queen.

Once again Imogen climbed down inside the great oak and met Loppy and more of their friends on the way. Then she stepped on to the rainbow slide that would take her home.

“Bye, hero!” Imogen shouted and waved to Loppy.

“Bye, bye, miss, see you at Easter!” he replied.

“Wonderful!” she said in the distance.

And then she was standing beside her bed, watching the doorway to Easterland close and fade.

She took the brooch, wrapped it in a tissue and  put it in her box of special treasures.

Picking up her book, she said to herself: “I’ll put it on for Loppy and his friends on the night of Easter  Saturday.”

Then she tried to find where she had got to in her story.



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