Chapter the Sixteenth: A More Excellent Way
Having exhausted Alternate Plans A through F, the weary trio decided to examine the hedge further north of the gates, searching for a breach, a weakness, or perhaps an inspiration. Alas, they found none. At last they sat down in the shade of an oak just outside the obdurate hedge and rested, and thought, and rested, and pondered, and promptly fell asleep.
There is no question that they needed the sleep and, though it was but a short nap, they awoke feeling much refreshed. They immediately began to plot once more against the hedge. Then Jonathan recalled something.
“Auntie Woezzl said there were all kinds of enchantments in the Gardens of Isapher.”
“That is now more than obvious,” snorted Fulsome.
“But she said something else. She wasn’t sure if the enchantments were still good…”
“They aren’t,” Scramble interrupted.
“Or all bad…”
“They are,” added Fulsome.
“Or, more probably, a mixture of both.”
“You mean…?” they both questioned, neither of them at all sure what he meant.
“Precisely. All we need to do is invoke the good powers which still exist in the Gardens. We have been trying to attack the Gardens, but they are not the enemy. The gnord is our enemy, and the Gardens themselves are only his unfortunate victims. Perhaps if we approach them as friends and liberators they will assist us.”
“The sun has touched your head, lad,” Fulsome said, afraid at this point to hope.
“But he’s right,” countered Scramble.
“Of course he is,” Fulsome agreed. “I’m just afraid to believe it. We’ve had so many disappointments already.”
“But you have to,” said Jonathan. “All we have are faith, hope, and love, and they outlast everything, including spells. I’m sure we can do it.”
The chipmunk and the fetchit sighed, but they did not roll their eyes or cast meaningful glances at one another. Instead they replied, “All right then. Let’s do it.”
So the three approached the hedge once more. This time the pink and purple blossoms seemed even prettier and their fragrance more enticing, though at this stage of the game the trio could not be sure is this were an auspicious sign or a dangerous enticement to even greater peril. In any case, they stood their ground.
But how does one address a garden? Jonathan had no idea, though he had heard of people who talk to their house plants. Squaring his shoulders, he began.
“Good day, O flowers, vines, hedges, trees, mosses, bushes, grasses, and all growing things.”
The hedge rustled.
“We come to you in peace. We wish you well and long to set you free. We beseech your permission to enter.”
To Jonathan’s amazement, even the grass beneath his feet seemed to ripple. Then the hedge began to waiver, almost as if in the tension of making up its mind. Its thorns bristled, its vines tightened, and then relaxed. Blue and gold blossoms suddenly sprouted amid the lavender spectrum, releasing a yet more delightful fragrance on the breeze that began to stir. Thorns appeared to shorten, blunt, and in some cases vanish altogether. Vines which only moments before had formed a nearly solid wall now untangled and retracted before them until the stupefied adventurers beheld a perfect arch of living tendrils lined with hundreds, nay, thousands of miniature flowers.
And thus it came to pass that Jonathan, Fulsome, and Scramble entered the Gardens of Isapher with wonder on their faces and growing faith and hope in their hearts.