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7. UP AND COMING
“Once upon a time, there was a girl named Margaret. She lived with her mother and father on a mountain by the sea, and they lived a very peaceful life as farmers. One day, as Margaret went out to fetch the eggs from the chicken coop, she saw someone coming in the distance. A strange-looking person it was—he wore a cape, a floppy hat with a feather in it, and boots, and he strode towards Margaret with long steps.
“Greetings,” the man said with a low bow. “I have been travelling a long ways, Lady Margaret, to find you.”
“Find . . . me?” Margaret asked. “How do you know my name?”
The traveler replied, “It is destiny that told me. I am an adventurer from another land, the Land of Clouds, and I have roamed far and wide to find you, to join me in my missions in the service of the queen.” Margaret looked at the odd character disbelievingly. “You don’t believe me? Look yonder.”
The man pointed with a gloved hand down the hillside, and suddenly Margaret saw shining stairs appear at a short distance, leading up and up to the clouds, where a white city shone white and still.
Without another word, Margaret took the odd man’s hand, and he led her up the steps. A city like marble spread before the girl when they reached the top, with white streets, white houses, and white shops. There were people everywhere, except they were just about Margaret’s height.
“Come,” the odd man said, “let me introduce you to the queen.” He strode in front of her, and she followed him up to a great white castle door, though it was a purplish-blue in the shadow. He knocked three times, and a solemn guard opened the door. “Behold,” the odd, cape-wearing man exclaimed once they reached a great, gold and black hall, “the Lady Margaret!”
The queen who sat on the little throne at the end of the room was a fair lady with golden ringlets draped over her shoulders.
“Welcome,” she said with a warm, airy sort of voice. Margaret curtsied. She’d never seen anyone so beautiful in her life.”
“Mary! Dinner’s ready!”
Mary looked up from the paper she was writing over on the floor. She got up and went downstairs. She helped her father set the table. A pot of roast beef with potatoes and carrots sat on the table already, with a few slices of garlic bread.
“How are the college applications going?” her father asked.
“Good. I’m in the middle of getting all the stuff for the third one.” The two prayed, and then began to serve themselves. A large, yellow dog came in, and sniffed longingly. “I wonder if any campuses allow pets.”
“Oh no! That would be a great hassle. You have studies to focus on,” said her father.
“That’s true,” Mary agreed with a sigh. As a future veterinarian, she would have a lot of studies to focus on!
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