[I'm sorry it's so long, I think I might be rubbish at bedtime stories.]
After Dylan had had a look into both Ben's and Emily's room and had seen that both were already sound asleep, he quietly went into Charlotte's room. Here, of course, the bedside lamp was still on. In the yellow-ish light, Charlotte was lying in bed flipping through a The Famous Five book, her pink duvet pulled up to her chin.
"Hey, you," Dylan said, sitting down on the side of her bed, "it's getting time for you to go to sleep now, young lady."
Charlotte closed the book, keeping her index finger between the pages. "You have to tell me a bedtime story first. You promised, this afternoon."
"I did, didn't I. So," Dylan tugged at the the duvet cover to smooth out some wrinkles, "what kind of story would you like to have?"
"I don't care. Just a good one. Or maybe one with princesses."
"That's a nice change from the pirates we had yesterday. I was starting to run out of the accents."
Charlotte smiled. They both settled down for the story. When Dylan began to speak, his voice was calm and low, but ready to break out into other people's voices and accents at any moment.
"So, there was this country, quite far away from us..."
Charlotte interrupted. "How far is quite far?"
"Well, it's farther away than Scotland, I can tell you that much. I'd say it's about as far away from us as China. But it's not China. It was a country where there were huge mountains and glaciers in the north, but in the south there were green pastures and huge forests, and people liked living there a lot. They also quite liked their King and Queen, who ran the country. They were a nice King and Queen, and they had a little Princess who was also very nice and, incidentally, was just about eight years old. The three of them, the King, the Queen and their little Princess, lived in a palace in the capital of their country. The palace had beautiful gardens, with marigolds and poppies and sunflowers and tulips, in which the Princess liked to play and wander around in all day. As it happens, though, she had to have lessons by a house teacher, something which she didn't like at all. When she was sitting inside the palace, learning about maths and history, she stared out the window into the beautiful gardens and wished with all her little heart that she could be out there. One day, the flowers could feel that the little Princess was sad and they hung their beautiful heads and withered, which made the little Princess even more sad, and she hung her head as well. All the flowers withered except for the Bleeding Hearts, but they were a little bit homely anyway, so it didn't really help the general view.
When the house teacher saw the Princess' sad face, he asked her if she had suddenly fallen into some benighted state of mind and if that was that firstly why her maths exercises were so wrong, and secondly why she was being so quiet, since she was usually a very loquacious girl. You have to know that the teacher always wanted the Princess to extend her vocabulary, so he liked to use big words to encourage her to look them up and learn them. But the Princess didn't answer and just continued to stare at her wrong math homework.
Meanwhile, other people had noticed that the flowers in the palace gardens had withered, and someone had even gone to see the King about it. The King, who knew how much his little girl liked the flowers, was shocked at the event and immediately started to get people to try and make the flowers pretty again. All of the gardeners walked around the garden with giant cans watering the flowers, but that didn't help. The court physician was called to have a look at the flowers, but he didn't know what to do. They even asked the man from a foreign country who claimed to be a magician if he could do anything about the flowers, but he just decidedly shook his head and shut his door in the face of the Royal Messenger.
By lunchtime, everybody was desperate, knowing how much it would upset the little Princess if she saw all of her flowers brown and wilted.
But as the clock struck one o'clock and the Princess was allowed to close her books, leave the school room and run outside into the garden, all of the flowers were happy with the little Princess and rose their heads again and smiled at the girl. And everybody was very much relieved because now they did neither have to explain to the Princess what had happened to the flowers, nor did they have to plant new flowers. So the Princess could play all afternoon in the beautiful palace gardens, and the following day, her maths exercises weren't even all that wrong."
Dylan ended the story and smiled down at Charlotte, whose eyelids had begun to start getting heavy.
"Was that a good story?"
"Yes. Do you think we can have marigolds in the garden when summer comes?"
"I think we absolutely can. But now it's sleeping time for you." Gently, he took the book out of her hands and placed it onto the bedside table.
"Ready for lights out?"
Charlotte nodded, snuggling down into her pillows. Dylan turned off the lamp, then leaned in to give her a kiss.
"Sleep tight, sweetheart."
"You too, Daddy."
"I'll see you in the morning."
This message was edited by the author on April 5, 2012 at 2:24:39 PM