The Tale of a Dead Flower

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The day was hot. The sun did not warm, but seemed to burn and bite. Chloe, along with Cousin Louise and Cousin Alan, collected strawberries from the house.

“I’m tired,” Louise said. She sat down on the path and set before her a bowl with a berry.

“Louise, take my bowl.” I filled it with strawberries to the top. Bring the berries to my mother, and in the meantime I will collect the strawberries in your bowl, “Chloe asked.

“Maybe you’ll gather some berries in my bowl?” Alan asked and smiled.

“No. It’s not fair. Louise is two years younger than us, so I’m helping her,” Chloe said, and threw a rotten strawberry into Alan.

“Chloe stop throwing a berry at me,” Alan said. “I do not want to offend you.”

“Do not make me laugh,” Chloe said, and laughed aloud.

Alan got angry with his cousin. He took a handful of earth and threw it at the girl. A little bit of land fell into a bowl of strawberries.

Chloe exclaimed, “Alan stop throwing the earth. You’ll spoil the berry.”

Alan did not stop. He again collected a handful of earth and swung, but did not abandon the ground.

“You’re right Chloe. Perhaps, stop fooling around. We are already ten years old and I think we need to calm down a bit, “said Alan.

“A miracle happened, and you’ve become a smarter cousin,” Chloe chuckled.

“How funny you joke,” Alan muttered. He gathered a full bowl of strawberries and went to the house.

“Alan, do not be offended,” Chloe cried to her cousin. She put some more strawberries in Louise’s bowl and went to the house too.

The house was large and two-storied. On the second floor there were small bedrooms, and at the bottom there is a hall and a kitchen. The interior was decorated in warm colors, and oak furniture complemented the picture.

Chloe lived with Uncle Stefan and Aunt Emma from the age of three. Why little Chloe was an orphan, no one told her, and she did not ask. She fell in love with my uncle and aunt.

Chloe always spared and not hurt Cousin Louise, as well as the cousin of Alan.

Chloe’s hair was chestnut, and her eyes were blue like the sea. The girl’s white skin was very susceptible to sunburn, so Chloe tried to hide in the shade in the summer.

Chloe entered the house and saw her aunt picking up things in a large bag.

“We collected almost all the strawberries,” Chloe said to Auntie.

“Well done,” Aunt Emma complimented, and continued to gather her things.

“Where are you going,” Chloe asked her aunt.

“Chloe does not distract me,” Emma said.

Chloe put the bowl of strawberries on the table in the living room and went back to her aunt.

“Auntie, let me help you,” Chloe suggested.

“All right,” Emma agreed. “Take the bag I’ve already packed and carry it into the wagon.”

Chloe took a small blue bag and left the house. She went to the cart and put a bag in her. Uncle Stefan led the horse out of the stables and began to harness her into the wagon.

“Uncle Stefan, where are you going with your aunt?” Chloe asked.

“My dear girl, it’s hard times,” Uncle Stefan answered. “I’m almost ruined and in order to pay my debts and keep the house we will have to sell something valuable in the market.”

“Get ready to go with Chloe,” said Aunt Emma. She took out a large brown bag with things from the house and put it in the wagon.

“Will Louise and Alan come with us?” Chloe asked.

“No,” said the aunt, “they will stay at home and watch the pets.”

“Maybe I’ll stay home too?” Chloe asked politely, despite the fact that she dreamed of going to the market.

“No baby. I need your help in the market,” Emma answered.

Chloe was delighted and ran into the house to collect things. Chloe wore her favorite green dress and black shoes. The girl put a plaid in her bag and, having made some sandwiches on the road, left the house.

“What a fine fellow you are, Chloe. You collected your own things and even made sandwiches on the road,” Emma complimented the girl.” Sit in the wagon it’s time for us to go.”

Chloe climbed into the wagon.

Uncle Stefan and aunt Emma put two more small bags in the cart and began to say goodbye to Alan and Louise.

“Do not forget to feed the animals,” Uncle Stefan warned.

“Do not worry. We will do everything, as you taught us, “Alan replied.

Auntie kissed her children and climbed into the wagon.

“Let’s go,” Uncle Stefan shouted and hit the horse with a whip. A beautiful mare neigh and drove the cart. Chloe said goodbye to Louise and Alan, waving to them.

“Do not be upset Chloe. Three days later we will return home,” said Aunt Emma and smiled sweetly at the girl.

The road was long and boring. The evening was approaching. Chloe regretted not taking her favorite book with her. She covered her legs with a blanket and began to look at the darkening sky. The sun had not yet disappeared behind the forest, but a few faded asterisks continually peeked out from behind the clouds. They seemed to play hide-and-seek with the sun. Suddenly, one star swayed and began to fall. She left behind a barely visible white trail in the sky.

“I’d like to come as soon as possible,” Chloe wished.

Suddenly the horse stopped. Chloe cautiously looked out of the cart and saw four men on the road.

“Who are they?” Chloe whispered to Aunt Emma.

“Become silent and hide under a plaid,” her aunt ordered.

Chloe covered herself with a plaid and did not move.

“Your way is over,” one of the men said in an orderly tone. His name was Butch.

Butch went to the wagon and grabbed Uncle Stefan by the hand.

“Who are you such? What you need?” asked Uncle Stefan. He tried to free his hand from the strong grip of Butch.

“We are those who do not kill, but they take on someone else’s good. We are forest bandits,” Butch answered.

Butch was in charge of the gang, so he behaved very confidently and persistently. He threw off the uncle’s wagons, and then to his aunt.

Chloe hid herself and was afraid to move.

“We are not alone,” Uncle Stefan shouted.

“Of course. With you, your things,” the robber agreed and hit the horse with a whip. The horse drove the cart.

“Chloe’s daughter,” screamed Aunt Emma.

Chloe looked out from under a plaid and, after seeing Butch, hid again. The remaining robbers fled into the forest. Aunt Emma and Uncle Stefan looked sadly at the wagon in which Chloe was sitting.

“Our poor girl,” said Aunt Emma and began to cry.

Uncle Stefan embraced her, and stroked her head.

The moon entered into its full rights and changed the sun. Faded stars flashed in the sky with silver fireflies. The birds died down, but occasionally in the distance an owl hooted. The cart stopped.

“I made a wish,” Chloe thought. She looked out from under a plaid and gingerly looked around.

Butch got off the cart, tied his horse to a tree and went to the fire. At the fire stood his son Colin and stared at the cart. Butch went to his twelve-year-old son and patted him on the shoulder.

“There are many things in the wagon. Tomorrow we will decide what to do with them,” Butch said to the robbers present at the fire.

“I’ll wait for the robbers to fall asleep and run away,” Chloe thought.

The robbers spent a long time rustling about, like a flock of birds, and after a while dispersed through their huts. It became quiet and eerie. Chloe looked out from under a plaid and looked back. The fire nearly died out, and the girl could not see anyone in the dark.

“We need to get out of the cart,” whispered Chloe. She crawled out from under a plaid and listened.

“Father, I’m staying at the wagon,” Colin’s ringing voice rang out in the darkness.

“All right,” said Butch.

“What a nuisance. The escape is postponed for the morning,” Chloe mumbled and crawled under the warm, black plaid. She hid herself, like a mouse and dozed off.

The morning singing of the birds awakened Chloe. The sun had not yet risen, but it was already light. The girl began to cautiously get out of the cart. Suddenly the horse snorted and scared Chloe. The girl pricked up her ears. Colin rolled over to his other side, but did not wake up. Chloe jumped gently from the cart and took a step.

“Who are you?” Chloe heard behind her. She turned around and saw Kolin.

“I, I,” said Chloe, and took three steps from the boy.

“Who are you?” Colin asked again.

“My name is Chloe,” the girl answered and ran away from the boy.

“Do not run away,” Colin shouted.

Chloe did not look back and ran with all her might. Colin ran to his father and woke him.

“Father, the girl was hiding in the wagon. She, she just ran away,” Colin said.

“If the bear does not eat it, the wolves will catch up and tear,” the robber answered his son.

“And if she has taken away something valuable from the wagon?” Colin did not stop.

“Okay, you tired me son. Go and wake Breda. We’ll catch up with the little thief,” Butch ordered.

Colin ran to Bred.

“Wake up wake up. My father needs you,” Colin said.

Black-haired and shaggy Brad opened his eyes and looked at the boy.

“Colin, you can go. I’ll be right there,” Brad said and rubbed his eyes.

Colin left the hut and went to his father. Brad dressed and followed the boy. The robbers went in search of Chloe.

The sun rose and began to warm the air. Chloe stopped and sat down on the grass to rest a little. The shadow of the trees sheltered the girl from the stinging sun.

“I want to drink,” Chloe mumbled.

“We’ll give you water,” cried the robbers and surrounded the girl.

Chloe screamed in surprise. She put her feet under her and closed her eyes in her hands.

“Oh, you rascal, you wanted to escape. Immediately show me what you took with you from the cart,” said Butch in a rasping voice. He walked over to Chloe and grabbed her arm.

“I did not take anything from the cart. I beg you to let me go,” the girl asked.

“No! I’ll sell you in the market,” the robber answered and rudely pulled Chloe by the arm. Chloe began to fight and scream.

Barking dogs could be heard in the distance.

“It’s time for us to go,” Butch shouted. He dragged the girl along with him.

“Help,” cried Chloe, and fell to her knees.

Butch was angry with the girl. He swung his hand on it to strike, but did not have time. A man on horseback struck Butch with a whip on his back, and the robber crouched in pain.

“How dare you,” Butch asked in a rude and malicious voice.

“Be silent! I’m King Harold. You are in my kingdom. If you do not want to go to the dungeon, then you must obey me,” ordered the king.

“I do not want to be in prison. Let me go, Your Majesty,” Butch asked.

“Go away,” said King Harold.

Butch called his son and Bred. The robber grabbed Chloe’s hand and pulled after him. Chloe jerked her hand away.

“You must come with us,” Butch said.

“No, I will not go with you!” Chloe cried.

“Why does not the girl want to go with you,” the king asked.

“My sister’s dead. Her daughter does not want to live in my family, so snaps,” the robber answered politely.

“You all lie the pilferer. You kidnapped me and you want to sell on the market,” Chloe cried.

“Baby does not insult me,” Butch said politely. He clenched his fists, barely restraining his anger.

“As her name,” the king asked.

Butch did not expect such a question and was confused. He looked at his son in the hope of getting a clue.

“The girl’s name…” Butch said slowly.

“Get away from the girl,” the king ordered the robber. He took some gold coins out of his coat pocket.

“I take away the girl from you. She will go with me to the palace,” said King Harold.

“Is that enough coins?” The king asked the king and threw the gold coins to the robber.

“Yes, your majesty,” said Butch in a satisfied voice. He waved his hand to his son and disappeared behind a tree. Colin and Brad hurried after the robber.

“Baby come to me,” ordered the king.

Chloe stood up and walked over to the horse on which king Harold sat.

“What’s your name?” asked Harold.

“Better in the palace to serve, than again to return to robbers,” the girl thought and answered, “my name is Chloe.”

“Charming,” said the king. “You will serve my daughter Princess Elizabeth.”

Chloe dutifully nodded her head in agreement and in the evening for the first time entered the huge white-stone palace.

The marble floor of the palace was decorated with beautiful carpets, and on the windows hung dark green drapes.

“A beautiful palace. Even in my dreams, I could not imagine such a beautiful decoration of the rooms,” thought Chloe

“Father who is this girl?” asked the little prince Richard at the king.

“I found her in the forest. She will serve your sister Elizabeth,” replied King Harold.

The prince went around Chloe and his face twisted in displeasure. He was three years older than the girl and looked down on Chloe.

“Another crybaby,” Richard chuckled.

“Where’s my butler?” the king asked the servant.

“He examines the bedrooms,” the servant answered.

“Take the girl to him. Let him tell the girl about her new duties in the palace,” the king ordered the servant.

The servant took Chloe’s hand and led him up the stairs to the second floor of the palace. A huge picture depicting King Harold hung at the door of one of the bedrooms. She caught the girl’s attention. Chloe stopped and looked at the picture.

“What’s your name?” the princess has asked. She approached Chloe and looked at her.

“My name is Chloe,” the girl answered.

The princess took the tip of her snow-white curly locks in her hand and smiled sweetly. Princess Elizabeth was older than Chloe for one year, despite the fact that the height was slightly lower than the girl.

“Who is this young assistant?” Eric asked the servant. Eric served as a butler for more than one year and perfectly performed all the assignments of the royal family.

“Yes. The king told me to bring her to you. She will serve as an assistant to the princess,” the servant replied.

“Again a new maid? Our king has a kind heart,” Eric said, and smiled.

“Follow me, little girl. I’ll show you and tell you what you’ll do in the palace,” Eric said, and began to descend quickly down the stairs. Chloe hurried after him.

Butler told Chloe in detail that she would have to help the princess every day to wash, dress and fulfill all her orders. Then Eric showed the girl a small room in which she would live, and left.

Chloe inspected the room and went to the window. She looked through the window at a piece of blue sky and whispered, “How to proceed? Escape or stay?”

Chloe has got clean clothes of the servant from a case and began to change clothes. The old bolt of the door creaked and Richard looked into the room.

“Shut the door,” Chloe said.

“The coward,” the prince laughed.

“The prince was lucky that I had time to change. Otherwise, I would,” Chloe threatened.

“You would cry,” laughed Richard.

“An ill-mannered boy,” Chloe muttered and left the room.

From this moment, a child feud began between her and the prince. At the slightest convenient opportunity, Richard ridiculed Chloe’s behavior. She, in response to the Prince’s carping, was adjusted to him by petty mischief. Secretly poured he in the water or tea salt and even occasionally accidentally tipped his favorite cake on his shoes. Elizabeth was delighted with the new assistant and day by day became more attached to her.

Chloe no longer bothered with the question: to escape or stay. The answer was obvious — the palace and the royal family liked Chloe no less than the life in the palace itself.

Chloe learned everything that Princess Elizabeth learned from, which made him an interesting conversationalist and friend.

Time passed. One day was replaced by another, treacherously taking the serene and mischievous childhood of Chloe to an empty past. Seven years passed. The king is a little old, and his beloved son Richard has matured noticeably and grown stronger. The princess, on the contrary, became more feminine and tender unlike Chloe. Chloe was still at odds with the prince. She showed in every possible way to others their persistent will and steep temper. Children’s antics remained in the past and gave way to a verbal skirmish, from which Chloe managed to emerge victorious and remain in superiority. Prince Richard was not upset, but joked and left.

The cold came and the princess suddenly fell ill. The doctor looked at Elizabeth and asked Chloe to collect some medicinal herbs for tea. Chloe was a diligent student and well versed in herbs. She threw her purple cloak and went into the forest.

Black clouds hovered over the forest, warning of the approaching thunderstorm. Chloe quickly gathered herbs, but did not manage to get out of the woods. The rain caught the girl and collapsed from the sky with large cold drops. Luckily in the distance, Chloe saw a small hut and ran to her. She hid under a canopy at the door of the hut and began to look around.

“Who can live here?” Chloe asked in a whisper.

“I live here,” the young man answered and opened the door of the hut. He looked at Chloe with an interested look and invited her to enter the hut.

“No. Thank you,” Chloe said. “I’ll wait until the rain stops at the hut.”

“A stubborn girl,” the young man chuckled and went to her from the hut.

“My name is Tederik,” the young man introduced himself. “What’s your name as a stranger?”

Chloe was embarrassed, but tried to hold back.

“My name is Chloe,” the girl replied graciously.

“Why are you wandering alone,” Tederik asked.

“I like to walk in the woods,” Chloe mumbled.

“Are you embarrassed about me?” The young man asked politely, and took Chloe’s hand.

Chloe looked at the young man and their eyes met. Tederik smiled and winked at the girl.

“The rain is over and it’s time for me to go,” Chloe said, and shyly released her hand from the young man’s hand.

“I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow at this hut,” Tederik said.

“I will not come,” Chloe said, and went to the palace.

“Tomorrow we’ll see,” whispered the young man and entered the hut.

Chloe entered the palace and took the medicine to the doctor.

“Chloe’s clothes are soaked in the rain. You need to change your clothes urgently. I do not need another patient,” said the Doctor. “I’ll make tea and take it to the princess.”

“Thank you,” Chloe said, and went to her room. She had already approached the door of her room when she heard footsteps behind her.

“You chose the wrong time for Chloe’s walk,” Richard said in a reproachful tone.

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