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Luzula and the Biloba Tree (youngsters:fairy tales, 2976 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: Apr 25 2006Views/Reads: 3365/2120Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
'I like your parasol,' said the sleek black cat, 'it's a lovely shade of green.' Another bedtime story from Astrantia.

Luzula and the Biloba Tree (Another tale from Astrantia) 

© 2006 Ian G. Hobson 

It was a lovely autumn day, though still quite hot for the time of year.
 The leaves on the trees had just begun to turn to red and gold.  And 
in the river, big fat trout were breaking the surface to catch flies 
and then, with a flash of silvery scales, returning to the deep. 

'I like your parasol,' said the sleek black cat, 'it's a lovely shade of
green.'  The cat's name was Thymus and he was sitting beside the water 
with his friends Luzula and Callistephus. 

Ah yes, Callistephus.  The boy who, at the age of nine, was bewitched by
Asperula and thus unable to grow any older and forever condemned to be 
a wolf from dusk till dawn.  A lot of water has flowed down the river 
since I told that story. 

'Thank you,' replied Luzula as she lifted the parasol and gave it a
twirl.  She was a little over nine years old herself now and looked 
very pretty sitting on the grass in the simple pink dress that her 
mother had made for her.  'I found it not far from here, just lying 
beside the river.' 

But the parasol was not all Luzula had found that summer, though she had
kept the other things secret. 

She pushed a stray lock of her long dark hair back behind her ear and
then frowned.  'My mother keeps saying it's too big for me and that I 
should return it to its owner.  But it keeps me cool on the hottest of 

'Perhaps you should return it,' said Callistephus.  He was a very honest
boy.  Sitting beside Luzula, in his faded and patched leather clothing, 
he studied the parasol, thinking that there was something very strange 
about it; it was such a bright green, the same colour as bracken when 
it was still young and fresh. 

'But I don't know who it belongs to,' Luzula replied, sounding almost
angry; which surprised Callistephus.  Though recently he had noticed a 
change had come over his friend, as though something was troubling her. 
Perhaps it was just that she was growing up. 

This thought saddened Callistephus, as he knew that one day Luzula would
be a grownup and he would still be just a little boy.   And that, in 
turn, made him think of the witch who had enchanted him.  'It might be 
Asperula's?' he suggested.  'Her cottage is not far from here.' 

'No,' said Thymus, taking Luzula's side in what he thought was about to
turn into an argument, ' Asperula's favourite colour is black.'  He too 
had noticed a change in Luzula and was beginning to suspect what the 
change was about.  'No, your parasol would be far too bright a green 
for Asperula.  And anyway, she's gone.' 

'Gone?' said Callistephus and Luzula, both speaking at the same time. 
'Gone where?' 

'Who knows!'  Thymus yawned and then stood and stretched.  'The last
time I saw her she was not in a very good mood and I've not seen her 
since.  And when I passed by her cottage the other day, that talking 
doorknocker of hers told me that she had packed her bag and her 
broomstick and left without saying a word.'  Thymus yawned again.  
'Well,' he said, 'it's time I was going home for my afternoon nap.  See 
you soon I hope; and take care of that parasol Luzula; it really is an 
enchanting shade of green.' 

Luzula and Callistephus said goodbye to Thymus and then sat for a while
without speaking; just watching the river flow silently past, both of 
them busy with their own thoughts.  But then Luzula folded her parasol 
and lay it on the grass and broke her silence.  'I found something the 
other day,' she said. 

'What did you find?' asked Callistephus, absentmindedly.  He was still
thinking of Asperula.  The last time he had seen her she had promised 
to find a way to undo the magic spells she had cast upon him.  But now 

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