Sunday Scribblings-Two peas in a pod
(sorry in advance for the length!)Once upon a time, in a land circled by magic seas, there lived a wise Matron Queen. After much spellcasting and praying and working in her youth, she was finally big with child. As her belly grew rounded and heavy, it brought with it an unexpected gift. The Queen experienced strong cravings throughout her time, and these cravings enabled her to foretell the future. Soon the word traveled far and wide, as these things often do, and the kingdom was crowded with villagers and merchants and the royalty from lands near and far, standing patiently at the palace door with the most delectable treats to tempt her—chocolate from Africa and wine from France (for wine in this land would not hurt the babe) and apples from windblown orchards east of the Moon. Anything to provoke the Queen into a craving, and thus get a glimpse of what was to come. After all, there were wars raging in the land, and anxious business dealings, and students quailing as they waited for midterm grades.
“Go to the east!” she would command while in her trance. “Don’t sell the farm!” to another. “Study harder in your math class next time,” to a third.
But of course, as any expectant mother would tell you, such powerful cravings cannot be predicted or controlled, and sometimes they come when no one is looking.
Such a desire overcame the Queen one fine summer morning, as she turned her ponderous body gingerly in bed, so as not to hurt the babe or disturb the King. She wanted peas…fresh, tender green peas in the pod. She wanted to pull them out of the pod herself and scatter them in a salad of field greens, crunchy and still moist with morning dew. The very image made her head pound and her blood race, and soon she padded down the hall to the Royal Kitchen.
The kitchen wenches were still sleeping, and the Queen took care not to wake them, as no doubt they would want to shell the peas themselves for her. And kitchen wenches have many friends. Before long her door would be crowded with avid spectators, waiting to see what grand prophecy would come from this craving.
She didn’t want to be bothered.
Soon, she settled down on the floor with a basket of peas in the pod, and hummed a quiet little tune as she shelled them. But the craving was only growing in intensity, even as she popped the peas in her mouth with abandon. She found herself growing frightened. Was she being punished for something? What if she spent the rest of her pregnancy longing for something and never being satisfied? That would probably be terrible for the babe.
But before long, as the mists of the morning burned away, she found the object of her quest. A perfect little pod, buried at the bottom of the basket, with two peas that looked like luminous green pearls inside. She dug her pudgy finger into the pod, and as she did so, they each rolled away.
Her cry woke the couriers and the wenches and the King himself, as they all ran into the kitchen to see the Queen pull up her frock and run past them as she chased…what?
“Don’t let them get away!” she shouted over her shoulder. “I must have those peas!”
And everyone ran and searched…in closets, under the carpet, in riverbanks. By now, many were thinking, privately, that the peas would be squashed, ruined, but who wanted to argue with the Queen in that state? She could not be appeased, even with chocolate and apples and tempting Champagne. She wanted THOSE PEAS!
But the peas had disappeared.
And so had her power to see the future.
In time, the Queen learned to live with the disappointment of losing the Peas and her power. She assumed that such things happened to women as their months passed by. Her power had ebbed, and with it, her energy. She spent the rest of her pregnancy in bed.
As the summer passed into fall, the Queen gave birth to two beautiful baby girls—twins! The kingdom quipped that she who could see the future had missed what was growing in her own body. But they didn’t make that joke around her, especially in the early months of sleep deprivation.
The Queen learned to live with the new emptiness inside of her body, and if she still dreamt of those delectable peas as they rolled away with her fortunetelling power…well, she never said.
The girls grew into beautiful maidens, bright and as a graceful as wind chimes dancing in the breeze.
But they each had a secret.
Penelope, the eldest by two minutes, loved to steal away to the field where the knights trained. She wanted nothing more out of life than to learn to sit a horse properly, how to joust and parry. As the knights told tall tales around the fire, she longed to join them on their journeys and adventures. But how to convince her parents of this? To them, she and her sister were the center of the world, hard won. There was no way they would risk her life and safety on foolhardy grail quests.
Phillipa, the youngest daughter, could almost always be found strolling the grounds with one of the monks from the nearby monastery. She was fascinated by their work of copying great manuscripts so that everyone would have access to their wisdom forever. The friendly youngest monk began smuggling texts to her, so that she could help with their endeavor, as she had the loveliest script in the land.
The sisters talked often about how to break it to their parents that they didn’t want the life of a princess, didn’t want to marry princes and rule over faraway kingdoms. They just wanted to be left alone to do their work.
But their parents wanted the twins to have the future that was theirs by birthright--a future identical to every other Princess in every other fairy tale.
One day, as they were swimming in a stream on the edge of the kingdom, they saw two litle objects half buried in a mud bank.
Two peas, curled around themselves like green beginnings. So alike and yet completely different.
Of course, Penelope and Phillipa knew of the famous peas, and they had no doubt they had found them here. Each daughter washed a pea and held it aloft to dry in the sun. They would make fine presents for their mother.
It was the Queen’s 50th birthday celebration, and she couldn’t quite stem a sense of uneasiness. Something was disturbing her little kingdom, that she knew…but what? She ignored the images flashing green through her brain, because after all, she couldn’t see into the future now, any more than you or I can.
A trumpet herald sounded in the Great Hall, and the two lovely twins entered the ball, each holding a velvet pillow. On each the pillow rested…a green pea. There was no doubt about it. No peas had ever quite resembled these peas...no peas had ever quite taken their place.
The assembly gasped, and the Queen leapt from the throne and hugged her daughters, weeping with joy.
“Of course, now, you will go study with the Knights!” She proclaimed to the stunned Penelope.
“And you, dearest little Phil, we shall build you a library so that you can have a grand setting for your illuminated texts!” Phillipa squealed with joy before she remembered that maybe scholars should be more dignified.
For the Queen had known all along about her daughters and their unusual dreams…but without the peas, had doubted.
She would doubt no more.
The dancing went on well into the night, and the Queen shared many visions of the future with her guests. Her gift had returned, full force and forever.
The twins, being dutiful girls, did exactly as their mother said and thrived with joy.
And the peas still live in a glass case, on separate jewelled cushions, eternally green and eternally tempting.
More peas grow here
Labels: sunday scribblings