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Fairy Realm #06: The Unicornby Emily Rodda
Synopses & Reviews
Chapter One Early One Morning
Jessie woke just before dawn. She wasn't sure what had woken her. She sat up in bed and shivered. It was cold. Very cold. And she felt uneasy — as though something was wrong.
She listened, but Blue Moon was silent. There wasn't a sound anywhere in the old house. Everything was dark and still. She shivered again. The breeze coming through her bedroom window was icy.
"There's snow about," Granny had said the night before, as Jessie's mother, Rosemary, added a log to the crackling fire in the living room. "I'd say there'll be a fall tonight or tomorrow. Just in time for the Festival."
Remembering this, Jessie turned quickly to look out into the garden. It was still dark but she could see that there was no snow outside. Just frost, white and hard, icing the grass.
Maybe it'll snow later, thought Jessie. Oh, I hope it does.
She lay down again and cuddled deep under her quilt. It was Saturday, the day of the Winter Festival. This afternoon she was singing with the school choir at a concert in the town hall. Afterward there would be a barbecue and fireworks and dancing in the park.
Jessie knew it was going to be a tiring day. She should get some more sleep. But somehow she didn't feel like sleeping at all. That strange fearful feeling was still with her. Even the thought of snow hadn't driven it away.
Jessie closed her eyes and lay still, trying to let her mind drift. She used all the ways she knew to make herself slip back into sleep.
She counted slowly to a hundred. Then she tried to think of things that made her feel happy and peaceful. She thought of her mother, and Granny, and Granny's big ginger cat, Flynn, all fastasleep in their beds. And, of course, she thought of the magical world of the Realm.
No one but Jessie and her grandmother knew about the invisible Door at the bottom of the Blue Moon garden. No one else knew about the enchanting fairy world beyond. Jessie had discovered them both by accident. But of course Granny had known about them all her life.
Snuggled under the covers, her eyes tightly closed, Jessie smiled. It was still so amazing to think that her own grandmother had been born in the Realm. That she was its rightful Queen, but had left it, long ago, to marry Robert Belairs, the human man she loved.
Robert had lived at Blue Moon. He'd discovered the secret Door. During his life he'd become famous for his wonderful paintings of the Realm.
Of course, everyone thought Robert Belairs had just imagined these magical fairy scenes that appeared in so many books, and hung in art galleries all over the world. But Jessie knew her grandfather had painted things he'd really seen. Fairies and elves. Mermaids and unicorns and miniature horses. Gnomes, pixies, and dwarfs. And so much more.
Jessie thought about all the extraordinary things she herself had seen and done since she had found the secret Door. She thought about all her Realm friends, especially Maybelle the miniature horse, Giff the elf, and Patrice, the palace housekeeper.
On the table beside her bed lay Jessie's charm bracelet. Every charm had been given to her by the Folk of the Realm, to remind her of her Realm adventures. As if she could ever forget. How could anyone forget such magical, exciting times?
Jessie knew she was very lucky to have found the Realm. And she was very lucky to have such aspecial grandmother.
Her thoughts drifted on. What would her friends think, if they knew? To them, Granny was just Mrs. Jessica Belairs of Blue Moon. Jessie's grandmother. Rosemary's mother. A widow now, since Jessie's grandfather had died. An old lady with sparkling green eyes, white hair, and a soft, laughing voice.
They didn't know how special she was. But everyone loved her. Except, of course . . .
Jessie turned over restlessly. She'd started thinking of something that didn't make her happy. The problem of the next-door neighbors — the Bins family.
Most people thought Granny was unusual, because she talked to her cat, and enjoyed walking in the rain, and things like that. But they liked her just the way she was.
The Bins family didn't. Mr. and Mrs. Bins, and their daughter, Irena, thought Granny was crazy. They never stopped making jokes about her and causing trouble. And now that Mr. Bins was town mayor, he was ruder and more unpleasant than ever. He seemed to think he was so important that he could say and do anything he wanted to.
At school Irena was always giggling and whispering to her friends about mad old Mrs. Belairs, and the latest loopy thing she'd done.
Jessie's own friends told her not to take any notice. But she couldn't help it. And just lately everything had become even worse. Because of Grey Prince.
Grey Prince was Irena's pony. She asked and asked her parents for a horse, and when they finally bought the pretty gray pony for her, she was very pleased and proud. She talked about him all the time, brought all her friends to see him, and rode him every day.
But after a while she became bored with him. She said grooming and feedinghim was a lot of trouble and took too much of her time. She started begging her parents for a new bike. And once she had that, she stopped riding Grey Prince every day. She went out on her bike with her friends instead.
As the months went by, Irena spent less and less time with Grey Prince. Every day he stood, lonely, in his paddock at the bottom of the Bins' garden. His shiny coat grew dull and rough. His mane and tail were tangled with prickles and burrs.