Asarum the Great

Asarum the GreatAsarum's cousins were almost finished with their preparations for the winter. They just needed a little wax for their candles and a little honey for their cakes.

"I guess we can't put it off any longer," said Dicentra. "Shall we draw straws?" She grabbed three straws and they each pulled one.

"Okay, looks like it's me this year," Nymphaea said forlornly. She went into her bedroom and came out dressed in her fairy best.

"What's this about?" asked Asarum.

"Every fall, we have to ask Queen Mellifera for some of her honey and beeswax," explained Levisticum. "She always gives it to us, but it never comes easy."

"May I come with you?" inquired Asarum.

Nymphaea shrugged. "I guess, but don't tell your parents that you saw me grovel before a bee." Then she looked at him. "And go home and change first into your finest clothes."

He returned wearing his best tunic and leggings, and the two fairies set off for the beehive.

Upon reaching their destination, she cried, "Oh, great hive of honeybees, come see your humble servant Nymphaea!"

No response. She called louder.

"Oh, great swarm! Oh, marvelous insects! Let me gaze upon you!"

No response.

"Oh, subjects of the great Queen Mellifera, have pity on me and show me your wondrous selves."

At last a single drone exited the hive and approached. "Yes?"

Nymphaea appeared overjoyed. "Oh, wondrous drone! Thank you for heeding my call! I have come to express my great love for your queen and to plead that she might grant these humble fairies an audience."

"I'll see," replied the drone flatly, then disappeared. He kept them waiting a very long time, but Nymphaea didn't dare call out again. At last the drone reappeared.

"Your names?"

"Nymphaea Odorata from Summer and Asarum Canadense from the woodlands."

The drone disappeared again, then stood at the entrance to the hive, where he announced in a magisterial tone, "Her royal benevolent highness, the great Queen Mellifera will speak with you!" He disappeared and a plump old queen appeared in his place. The two fairies bowed.

Nymphaea cleared her throat to begin her pleading, but the queen spoke first. "Asarum Canadense? Surely you must be a relative of Asarum the Great, who was a friend to the insects?"

"Yes, your majesty. He was my great-grandfather's great-grandfather, and my namesake."

"Well, young man, let me have a look at you!" Asarum rose. "Yes, the very likeness! You are bound for great things, my friend. And let it not be said that Queen Mellifera wasn't a friend to you when you started out." Then she called into the hive. "Drones! Fetch me the finest honey and the purest wax. Asarum and what's-her-name shall have the very best from us this year!"

"Thank you, your highness!" the fairies exclaimed in unison, as the drones came marching out laden with honey.

They stumbled home burdened with the queen's generosity.

"Who was Asarum the Great?" asked Nymphaea.

Asarum said nothing for a long time. Then, "He was a truly great fairy, but I should let my grandmother tell the story. When you visit us in the woodlands you will have the story straight from her mouth."

"I can't wait!" replied his cousin.


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