The Story of Hyacinth
For as long Rose could remember, her father always had her watering the hyacinths that stood in the kitchen window. And for as long as she could remember, those hyacinths never withered in the winter nor died of old age. Rose became interested in gardening as she grew older, and the more she learned about plants, the more she wondered if those hyacinths were in fact enchanted hyacinths as no normal flower would have lasted so long.
One day, Rose’s father grew extremely ill and, thinking that his time was over, called Rose and her brother Linden to him and divided the few belongings he had. The house, of course, went to Linden, while a silver ring and the pot of hyacinths went to Rose. Their father passed away not long after that, and things seemed to take a downward spiral for Rose. Linden barely made enough for them to survive, but Rose worked diligently at her garden, providing them with something to eat and sell at the market for extras.
About a month after their father’s passing, Rose noticed that her hyacinths were a little drier than usual. Panicking, she realized that she had forgotten to water them the day before, grabbed a watering can, and rushed out to the river, their only source of water. Along the way, she came across a strange sight; a stately lady was strolling through the forest with seven other maidens not much younger than Rose. The lady noticed Rose and called her forth, offering her some of the food she had brought for a picnic by the river. Rose accepted, though she did mention that she had to hurry back to water her hyacinths and fix dinner for herself and Linden.
The maidens spread out the picnic, and the lady revealed that she had plenty enough for Rose to take some of the leftovers for dinner. Gratefully, Rose accepted, and the two chatted away, sharing tales of days gone past. Rose wished she could have given the lady some hyacinths, but instead asked the lady to take her silver ring as a token of their friendship. The lady was touched by this act of generosity from someone who had so little. The lady asked if Rose would become one of her maidens. Rose shook her head and declined, for she would not leave her brother to face these hardships alone. The lady nodded and accepted the ring.
Rose soon took leave of her new friend to gather the water, bringing a good dinner to her brother and a fresh drink of water for her hyacinths. Upon arriving in her room, she was startled to find an army of rats between her and her hyacinths. Terrified that they might do something to her, to her flowers, or even to Linden, she poured some of the water from her pitcher onto the rats. They scattered quickly, never to be seen again. Taking a few deep breaths to calm down her racing heart, Rose quickly watered her hyacinths. Only imagine her surprise when the hyacinths seemed to speak and told her they loved her. Thinking that she was delirious, Rose went outside for a breath of fresh air, only to be met by the lady from the forest and her brother.
Rose quickly told them everything that had happened with the rats and the hyacinths, still unsure, though, if she had heard the flowers or if it was some kind of trick. At that moment, a young man not much older than Linden exited the house and used the same words as the hyacinths to tell Rose how much he loved her. Rose stepped closer to her brother in fear, but the lady kissed the man’s forehead and began to explain the entire incident.
Many years ago, about the time Rose was born, the lady had some dealings with a genie. There was a witch plaguing the kingdom, and being part irshi, the lady took to asking the genies for help in setting the country free from the witch’s grasp. The genies were more than willing to help, and sent one of their purple-colored genies. Between the two, the witch was banished, but not before she laid a curse on the lady’s only son, Hyacinth, changing him into the flowers Rose had watered for years.
Stating that only someone of humble birth could ever save him, the witch finally left, cackling as she vanished into the night. The genie searched high and low for someone who could break the spell, and found Rose’s family the day she was born. Entreating them not to say a word, the lady and the genie left Hyacinth in their care, and waited patiently for the day when Rose would be old enough to break the spell. The lady went on to reveal that the army of rats was sent by that very witch in an attempt to stop Rose from breaking the spell.
As soon as the lady finished her tale, the genie appeared and offered to take them all to the mansion that was Hyacinth’s inheritance. Rose and Hyacinth were soon married, and Linden soon met and married a lovely girl. The four lived in peace and prosperity till the end of their days, their years of suffering now finally over, the wait every bit worth it.
By Aurora Mandeville