Chapter the 26th: Back to Wolmsley
This time the travelers followed the Old Road straight through Wishwood. With the Great Parasol they had nothing to fear. There were no lurking phantasms to lure them astray, no illusions of easy answers to keep them from their destiny. The Road also seemed clearer, more plainly marked, and wherever they wandered it seemed to be springtime, much as it had in the Gardens of Isapher. As they journeyed they discussed all that had happened.
“How did you decide Auntie Woezzl was not an imposter?” Scramble asked Jonathan.
“Do you remember how Hermann told us that the Gardens would not allow spies in?”
“Yes, something like that.”
“Well, the Gardens did allow us in, so we could not have been spies for an imposter. If the Gardens trusted us, then our quest could not have been wrong. At least I hoped that was what it meant.”
“Well reasoned, Grubbley,” responded Fulsome.
They soon came to Zymel Meadow, where they paused for brunch. Although they had no provisions this time, they simply stood expectantly while Jonathan held the parasol aloft and Fulsome intoned, “If we have served you worthily, O Woods and Glens, grant that we but have enough to pass in joy and depart with grateful hearts.” It was after this brief invocation that they noticed an apple tree further along the road, and Scramble espied several nut trees. Jonathan gathered wild blackberries down by the stream and Fulsome identified miner’s lettuce and other edible greens. They were soon refreshed and continued their journey.
It was late afternoon when they came to Gwaeron Stream on the other side of the Ulban Hills. Scramble had continued on the journey beyond his home on the edge of Zymel Meadow in order to meet Auntie Woezzl and reassure himself that Jonathan would safely return to his home, although neither he nor Fulsome really wanted to lose their companion.
When they had crossed the stream and ascended the slope which led to Auntie Woezzl’s tree, they were surprised to find no tree at all. Instead there rose “Old Lady Dyrnmantle’s Castle,” hardly like the great Timnel but still a stately chateau with graceful lines an dozens of small towers crowning its heights. At the door stood a strikingly handsome woman in her mid-thirties in a light grey gown with an ample hooded robe of deep blue velvet cast about her shoulders. Her warm smile greeted the threesome as they approached.
“I beg your pardon, Mum,” Jonathan began, but was cut short.
“Is that any way to greet your old Auntie, Grubbley?” the woman demanded.
Jonathan stared at her kindly face in puzzlement.
“My Lady Isapheria,” Fulsome said as he kneeled before the woman.
“Your Ladyship,” followed Scramble.
“Please don’t gape, Grubbley, you’ll catch flies.”
Jonathan finally recognized his Auntie Woezzl behind the reprimand, but he did not kneel. He merely exclaimed, “Oh, Auntie, it is you!”
“Of course it is, Grubbley. Now if you’re done with being surprised, will you kindly finish your mission?”
Jonathan handed her the shocking orange Great Parasol with its golden handle studded with gems.
“Kneel, Grubbley, please. Only this time not for Auntie. Lady Dyrnmantle wishes it.”
Jonathan knelt alongside his companions.
“I dub thee Jonathan of Wolmsley (or Woezzl, as the peasants pronounce it), Champion of the Lady Isapheria, forty-first rightful ruler of the Isenwild; and thee I dub Randall, Knight of Zymelglen and Watcher of Wishwood; and thee, friend fetchit, I dub Fulsome the Faithful, Castellan of the Timnel and Lord Chancellor of the Isenwild. Arise, Sir Knights.”
The three arose solemnly, but Jonathan then rushed forward to hug his Auntie Woezzl (for such would she ever be to her nephew Grubbley).
“Come inside,” she continued. “We must prepare for even more journeys.”