The Queen’s Ruin

Queen StatueLiam took a walking tour with his parents through Shrewsbury Castle gardens. On the edge of the Severn River, a tour guide named Julia waved Liam’s group into a ruin with broken columns and wall fragments, some with windows still framing the soft Shropshire sunshine.

“This is the Queen’s Ruin,” said Julia, the tour guide. “Queen Maud and her cousin Stephen battled for the throne of England. At one point, Queen Maud is said to have taken refuge here, and after she left, Stephen pulled it to the ground, leaving only ruins. This statue in the flowers is said to be of Queen Maud as a young woman, descended of kings, married to a king and mother to a king.”

Liam looked at the statue for long minutes as the rest of the tour continued on to the archways of blooming wisteria. She looked so peaceful there in the shadows of the lilacs. Unfortunately, both arms were broken off of the white marble. Liam was sad to see her damaged.

An animal darted out of the flowering shrubs and climbed up the statue to sit on her head. “If you are sad to see her broken, leave her a gift and dawn will see her right.” Liam’s mouth dropped open. The animal was brown except for a creamy throat, and had a bushy tail. What kind of animal was this that could talk? All at once, it gave a huge leap and disappeared.

“You have been lucky to see a pine marten,” the tour guide said, suddenly appearing behind Liam’s shoulder. “They are very strong and quick, and hardly anyone sees them.” He wondered if Julia had heard the pine marten speak, but he did not want to ask in case she had not.

“What do you give a queen?” he asked instead. She responded: “Your service.” She dropped a curtsy to the statue.

As Liam and his parents toured the castle, and as all the visitors exclaimed over the scary spiral staircases and extraordinarily thick walls, Liam pondered. He finally decided the best service he could give a queen so badly ruined by her own family and time itself was to give her a flower. He knew his mother very much liked flowers. At last, Liam’s tour was left to explore the gardens on their own. The tour guide left Liam in front of a patch of white daffodils.

“These flowers symbolize truth and chivalry,” she said. Then her smile glinted and she walked away. They seemed like a perfect gift, and when all the visitors were looking away, Liam picked three and placed them before the statue. That night over dinner in a pub, he begged his parents to visit the castle gardens again. After awhile, they agreed but they could only make a quick stop before heading to London for their flight home. The gardens were quiet in the dark early morning. As dawn broke, Liam could see the statue was perfect, not broken at all.

Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham


8 thoughts on “The Queen’s Ruin

  1. All my best friends on here are not from Texas. Britain, Switzerland, anywhere!

    I love flower symbolism. Unfortunately, they are not immediately understood, and often have to be explain. Also, they tend to vary greatly between color and such.

    Lilacs symbolize transformation to adulthood.
    wisteria – this one seems to symbolism way too much stuff. Playfulness seems to be the best I’ve found.
    White daffodils – daffodils symbolize truth.

    Actually, I love all kinds of symbolism. I’m going to build me a big database, one of these days, and may an interactive symbolism search so when I want a symbol for something, I don’t have to crawl the internet for hours.

    Not that I might, I’ve found some random inspiration while researching. One of the flowers I mention in my book talks about it being picked at the freshest of times, just after the fairies had opened its bloom. I had found somewhere that told of that particular flower having been thought to have had its blooms opened by magic fairies at one time. It was the Aster. My deep cherry Aster.

    I really liked this story, it was odd and different. It was vivid and makes we want to know more!


    • I’m so happy you did! Wow, you really took time and thought it out. I actually research my elements, like flower symbolism while I’m planning or writing. I enjoy the research, and sometimes it takes me in an unexpected direction. This story had its genesis in a trip I took to see a castle near Cheltenham, where part had been torn down in a war, and I remember thinking about what that would mean. To have your home torn down. To be forsaken by a country you were supposed to rule. I wondered if today we can affect the past. I love symbolism, too, and I usually use it. I so appreciate your reading one of the early stories. Few people read the early ones. 🙂


      • I find myself to be very all or nothing. I like to start from the beginning a lot of the time.

        “I actually research my elements, like flower symbolism while I’m planning or writing. I enjoy the research, and sometimes it takes me in an unexpected direction”

        You’re kidding. Me too! I’ll research important elements as I’m writing, sometimes it affects the story in ways that I wouldn’t have imagined to begin with. Its even better if you know the theme of the story, so you can tie in symbolism with the meaning of the story.

        I’m the all or nothing sort. I have to start from the beginning, and work to the most recent.

        Sorry it has taken me so long to respond, these comments got lost in the scrolling list I guess.

        If you are any good at riddles, you should see if you can solve that Riddle of Keys that I created. I’ve got four people bashing there heads on it, and they still haven’t figured it out. I’m beginning to love writing riddles.


  2. Pingback: ABCs of Fairy Tales | friendlyfairytales

Comments welcome!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.