The next day the King explained to The Duchess that the man who came into the palace was just a trickster. As proof he presented her with the little blue bunny.
I’ve been foolish, the King thought. I must protect my daughter and give up this foolishness. He went into his bedroom and pulled out the rude daisy, the letters, and the vial of immortal blood. He threw them into the fire. He then sat down and slept away the day in a deep depression.
While he slept the Bishop went and found The Duchess sitting on the floor of the throne room dragging one of her magical pendants across the ground, letting the little blue bunny hop after it. The Bishop sat down next to the duchess. She was singing quietly under her breath.
“A gift for me
A death reprieved
Until my faith
Has been relieved”
She stopped when she noticed the Bishop sitting beside her. “Daddy says it was all a trick” she told him. The Bishop reached out and tickled the back of the bunny’s neck.
“It was magic. Real Magic,” she said, not looking up. “But, Daddy told me I shouldn’t believe in magic anymore” she finished.
“What do you think?”
The Duchess kept watching the little blue bunny and did not answer him
“Well, I for one think he is wrong,” The Bishop continued for he had a bad-heart and did not mind playing tricks with the soul of a child.
“Do you like the little thing?” He asked. She told him she did. He told her that the bunny was magic, that he would make sure no one ever took it away from her. That real magic must be protected.
“But” he told her “it must sleep in a special bed each night to keep the magic going.”
He said each night he would come and take the little blue bunny to a special place and in the morning, bring it back to her. He said that as long as she never took the bunny from its bed at night, it would stay forever the same.
“Do you believe me?” He asked her. She told him she did. He made her promise to never go looking for the little blue bunny after it had gone to bed.
“I promise.” She said.
So that night and a hundred after The Duchess brought the little blue bunny to bed and the Bishop came and took it. And, as he promised, it always came back the same. The King paid little attention to his daughter after that day. His eyes slipped into a fog. He had no passion for life. He scorned himself for his curiosities and wouldn’t hear a word about magic from anyone. Then one day, he died.
The Duchess mourned. Flowers grew and died. Trees bloomed and were skinned by winter winds, the sky grew darker and lighter, darker and lighter. Years passed.
The Duchess grew into a beautiful young woman while the Bishop grew old and frail. She had, long ago, misplaced her magical pendants and sachets of magic beans, but, she never let the little blue bunny out of her sight, except at night when the Bishop would come and take it away to sleep. As time passed the Bishop became more and more despondent. His eyes cowered behind dark circles and his lips often twitched as he sat and listened to The Duchess chat away about the various princes who’d been courting her.
One such Prince who’d taking a liking to the Duchess, and she to him, snuck one night into the Duchess’s bedroom window to steal a kiss. He hid in the closet as the bishop came in to collect the little blue bunny.
When The Prince questioned her The Duchess told him the story of that day so long ago and how the little blue bunny was magic. The Prince, who had grown to love The Duchess very much, told her he believed her. The part of him that loved her, did. But, for all his love of her, he did not trust the Bishop.
TO BE CONTINUED…