June Rose took a deep, deep breath, smiling at the smell of honey, fresh grass and flowers. She began to sing softly, trying to follow the melody of the bees’ humming, while her velvet hair shone with the glints of golden light passing through and under the branches.
Nonetheless, her little paradise was broken by the voice of her mother. “June Rose!” The girl turned her head to see her mom waving at her and her father picking up their things. “It’s time to go!” The woman announced.
June Rose sighed, but her dismay lasted no longer than that. She turned to the apple tree and the bees in quite a high spirits. “Bye! I’ll see you next week!” She exclaimed with a cheerful voice.
Half an hour later, her parents and she arrived to a small cottage. Its front garden was fully green and wild in some places, the grass being as tall as five year old. On the borders, Mrs Corfu had planted her favourite flowers, creating a great range of colours and sizes. There were lilies, irises, marigolds, and narcissus besides, of course, roses as red as June Rose’s hair. It was all surrounded by a white fence, which paint was quite bubbled and cracked.
Without waiting a second, the child jumped out the carriage exclaiming: “He’s here!” Then, she rushed to the hall, where a boy a little bit older than herself was waiting, with a wide smile as well, but containing his own excitement more satisfactory. At least till June Rose wrapped him with her arms. With rosy cheeks, he hugged her back.
“Oh, I’m so happy of seeing you, Jem!” She said, smiling wider and wider with every passing second.
“Me too, “replied James, leading June Rose inside the house. “I’ve been so bored without you these past months, “he complained. “I even had to read a book or two; I would have died of boredom otherwise! Not that reading is funny or anything,’ he was quickly to add.
June Rose only laughed by response and began to tell him all the things she had done since the last time they had seen, last August.
“We’ve been visiting the moor every week since the summer began, and we have lunch there and stay long after, so I play with the bees and the birds and the trees!’ she told him, her eyes shining with joy as they ate their milk and cookies on a table of the backyard.
James frowned and shook his head, unable to speak at first because his mouth was full of cookies. “You can’t play with a tree,” he declared once he had swollen. “You can play on a tree, but not with it.”
“Of course you can play with a tree!” June Rose argued indignantly.
“So you think? How?” challenged James, putting his empty glass away.
“Next week, “answered the younger girl drinking the last drops of her milk. “Next week you’ll see.”
To the moor again they went the following week, and James was still firm at his resolution that it was impossible to play with a tree. June Rose kept contradicting him that, in fact, it was possible, just as decidedly as him.
They weren’t allowed to leave the adults till after lunch, when they just couldn’t wait any longer; both eager to prove themselves right.
June Rose led Jem to the same apple tree she had acquainted the past weeks and told him to climb to the top. James obeyed and when the top had been reached, he gasped at the sight he found. Right under him there extended the whole moor; the tall grass, the wild flowers, white, pink and purple, sparkling through the greenery. Big, yellow bees hummed noisily, creating a sort of background melody and some other trees here and there, as much bloomed as the one in which he stood. Everything bathed in a golden light. The villege beyond had never seen so picturesque to the boy, with its reddish roofs and rarely shaped, white hills.
“Do you believe me now?” June Rose’s was heard voice from below, bringing him back to their argument.
“No, I don’t. How is this supposed to be me playing with a tree?”
“Wait,” she asked and, seconds later, had reached the top of the branches too. “This is how I and the tree play,” she began, with her face covered in light. “I come up here and imagine I am a beautiful, brave princess and that this old, dear tree is my little, magic kingdom,” and that simple explanation seemed to be quite enough to her.
James smiled with superiority at these words.
“So you are playing on the tree, not with it!” He said.
“Well of course I’m playing with it, silly! “She argued.” I wouldn’t be able to play if not because of this tree. I wouldn’t be able to see the tops of the other trees and the red roofs of the houses of the village, and the birds and the flowers! “She made a little pause to look at all this before continuing. “If it were not for the tree, I would see and know nothing. So I am playing with the tree, because he wouldn’t be a magic kingdom if not for me, either.”
The older boy stared at her a minute and smiled, but without maliciousness this time, before laughing. “I think I get it now, Rosie.”