Wendell and the Dragon's Heart

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Chapter 47

Quickly Wendell went out through the door where Karen had left, but of course there was no sign of her. He couldn’t see any servants to ask.

After wandering, he found the gate to the gardens. He went quickly from one place to another, but the garden was much more immense than he had ever imagined; there were more out of the way corners and courtyards than he thought imaginable.

It was a place of unending pathways, lined by beauty and mystery, as neatly laid out patterns of rose hedges gave way to places of solitude and wild, overgrown trees, and then led swiftly to rows of bright flowers. But there was no sign of Karen. He strained his ears into the soft breezes, but couldn’t find any sound.

At last he found himself in a walled place of arches and corridors, some ancient, neglected meeting place. There was a faint noise from over one of the walls far off, but he couldn’t tell if it was near. He kept on, wandering with an aimless desperation, never knowing what made him take one way or another.

Now there was a broken wall in some forsaken corner, and he stepped through, and went along a long, twisting, endless way.

After what felt like forever, the closed-in walls led to an empty courtyard, growing with many trees that hung over the walls reverently. The paving stones were cracked and weathered through until patches of grass ran wild everywhere.

In the center was a large, blossoming tree, with branches that hung down, never touching the ground. Karen sat under the tree, her arms folded around her knees, her red hair lying motionless on her blue dress.

Wendell stopped for a moment, trying to think of anything to say. She looked up now quickly, and he could see that there were many streaks of tears that had yet to dry. Anger and shame haunted her eyes, but she looked at him boldly, as if to say, “What is it now?”

Then she looked away quickly again, and huddled against the tree. Wendell forced himself to walk forward. If only he could explain, it would all be okay again!!

Karen stared up at him again, as he started to say something. Her words trembled with sadness, but she said them forcefully.

“I know I shouldn’t have run away yesterday. But you didn’t have to yell at me!!”

“...I thought you were Violet!!” he said, hesitantly.

Karen looked up as if she wasn’t sure to believe it.

“You have to believe me!” Wendell said.

She looked off to the side, then started saying something, in a little quavery voice.

“I never knew...”

“Never knew what?” he asked quickly.

“...you could be like that!!” she said. “If you could do that to Violet...”

“then what??” Wendell said exasperatedly.

“What about me???” she snapped.

Wendell stood, silenced.

“But you’re not Violet!!” he said suddenly. “Who cares about her?”

Karen looked shocked. “She’s my sister!!”

“She’s always mean to you! But I chose you!! Even though you’re not...” he said, bewilderedly.

“...I’m not pretty enough? I’m not beautiful like wonderful Violet?!?”

“Look, none of the princes ever chose you! And you weren’t even the way I expected!! But I chose you anyways!!”

All along Karen looked like she couldn’t think of anything poisonous enough to say. Then suddenly, she got up and ran past Wendell, trying to get away. He tried to follow, but she was gone. “She probably knows a shortcut,” he thought vaguely now, as he made his way slowly out from the garden, not even sure it was worth the effort.

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