A Garden Fairy Tale
There is a tiny kingdom where a princess and her father, King Gentian, gently rule over the land. The King had an enormous garden just outside the walls of the castle. When he went inside the walled garden, he pretended he wasn’t a king. Like everyone in his kingdom, he worked pulling weeds, planting crops, and tending his beautiful flowers. His people knew that unless there was an emergency, nobody was to disturb him. Ever! The only one who did not have to obey his do-not-disturb rule was his daughter, Princess Anna.
Anna loved the garden too. “That’s where the fairies live, Father!”
She knew he couldn’t see them. He would go about his chores and the fairies would sit on the leaves watching him go back and forth through the garden. They would giggle when he would stoop down with his face right next to them. Sometimes they would stick their tongues out at him when he came too close.
“Father, the fairies are right in front of you!”
Even though the king couldn’t see them, he would nod at his little girl and smile. “Of course they are! How do you do kind fairies?”
The fairies jumped up and down and cried, “Hey King, look at me!” But the king never did.
Anna laughed, “He doesn’t see you.”
The fairies knew that some people never encounter their kind.
“Only because he doesn’t believe we are here,” one fairy told the princess.
One beautiful spring day, Anna came in after playing in the garden. She plopped down on the pillows on the floor and let out a big sigh. Seeing his troubled daughter sprawled across the floor pillows the king asked, “What’s wrong?”
“The fairies told me something today.”
He wanted to smile, but the seriousness of her voice along with her cute little pout made him stop. “What did your little friends say that is making you pucker up your face like that?”
“They said do not disturb the nymphs that hide in the bubbles,” she replied.
King Gentian looked over at her. “Spittle bugs? Those hideous-looking, white frothy, foamy things?” He didn’t mean the words to come out so strongly, he loathed those creatures. Their spittle spoil the looks of the royal garden every year. “Anna, they are just pests.”
The princess hung her head down. “They’re not pests, they’re just blowing bubbles.” Her voice quivered as she spoke. “You have to stop your decree that all the little spittle bug nymphs are to be destroyed.” She had to save the little nymphs.
“The garden looks unsightly, with all the white foam on the plants,” he said.
“But, Father, the bubbles are magical!”
“How do you know this?” he asked.
She looked up at him in earnest. “The fairies told me.”
How could a father argue against his daughter’s fairies? Even if he were the king, to go against fairy wisdom would break his daughter’s heart.
“They said that nymphs are only here for a little while. In their kingdom, the bubbles are as precious as the jewels in your crown. When the nymphs make their bubble homes, the fairy world celebrates the arrival of spring.”
“Really?” the King asked.
“Really, Father.” She gathered her strength, so that she wouldn’t back down from her plea. “The nymphs returned today and we celebrated in the garden!”
“The fairies and me. Please don’t have them killed, please?” she begged.
“All right Anna, I will reconsider, and only if you ask the fairies and the nymph to come see me. I want to see them for myself.”
Anna jumped up and threw herself into her Father’s arms. “Yes, Father, I will go fetch them at once!”
“Ask them to meet here in the morning,” he called as she ran down the long hall. She skipped through the courtyard, past the guards, and then ran out into the garden in search of the fairies and a tiny nymph.
She found a little one all nestled inside its bubbles. “Father will spare you, little nymph.” Her breath moved the bubbles delicately away from the tiny creature until she could see its shiny, yellow body. He looked at her with his big brown eyes, but didn’t answer. He only blew more bubbles, and slowly moved them around with his tiny feet.
A small voice behind her said, “The princess brings good news!” Anna slowly turned her head and found two fairies sitting on a daffodil leaf. Their feet dangled over the edge. They playfully swung their feet back and forth, and the leaf gently bobbed up and down.
“I wish I was small enough to sit with you. That looks like fun!” The fairies smiled. “Father wants to…” her voice trailed off, “I mean, the King wants to meet you and the nymph. Will you meet with him in the castle tomorrow?”
“He will see us then!” they replied.
They nudged each other playfully. “Ha! I told you he would see us,” one said to his companion.
“No, I told you!” the other replied, sticking her tongue out as fairies often do.
“Ahem!” said Anna. “You will meet with the King?”
Both nodded their heads, “Of course we will!”
Just after sunrise the following morning, they arrived, carrying a twig with a drape of bubbles. The Princess greeted them and escorted them to the King’s chamber. She noticed the leaves shaking as they carried the twig. “Are you nervous?” The Princess asked.
“Just a little.”
“A little?” the other fairy cut in. “You must have changed your frock three times this morning!”
“Well what about you? You barely touched your hibiscus tea. And all that pacing! Your cup clattered about every time you picked it up. There was more tea in the saucer than what went into your mouth!”
“He’s going to see us, so don’t you stick your tongue out at him!”
The Princess giggled.
Together the fairies said, “It’s not every day, you have an audience with a King that can see you!” The Princess laughed, which made the fairies laugh at their silliness, which put them at ease. They smoothly carried the leafy twig with the nymph and its bubbles into the King’s Chamber.
The fairies bowed at the King, and were surprised when he bowed back at them.
“Well, let’s see this tiny magical creature,” the King said.
“May I?” The Princess asked the fairies. They nodded. She took a deep breath and silently blew on the froth of bubbles, gently moving them away from his yellow body with the big brown eyes. He remained still. “Isn’t he cute, Father?”
“Yes,” he said. It was a lie.It’s a stupid looking blob of a creature that makes a mess in the garden every year. He looked over at the fairies. They silently stared at him, and said nothing. With a twinge of guilt, he looked back down at the nymph. The small body glistened and started to blow bubbles. The King looked into the big brown eyes of the tiny creature and watched bubbles appear around its stomach. The little creature stopped and waited for the King.
The King blinked his eyes, this time he carefully looked over the creature. He could see that the tiny bug was cute. “Why yes, Anna he is, he is!”
The nymph waited patiently for King Gentian to give permission to retreat into his bubbles. The King waved his hand at the nymph in dismissal and said, “Yes, yes, yes, go back inside your bubbles.”
The fairies bowed before the king and said, “Thank you, your majesty.” The King smiled, he knew it was right to spare the nymphs.
The little creature blew bubbles all morning, and slowly disappeared under the pile of foam.
That afternoon the King made a decree. “From now on, all spittle bug nymphs are under the protection of the king. We will celebrate their return in spring with our fairy friends.” When evening fell upon the kingdom, the princess thought she heard her father skipping down the hall, giggling.
And to this day, all who live in the Kingdom celebrate the magic of the real return of spring, when the tiny nymphs return and drape the world with their temporary houses made of bubbles.