Macy and Anna Save Candyland Bite 14
The lollipop trees were grouped in colors much like a rainbow. They traveled through a red grove which blended into an orange group which in turn blended with yellow and so on. The areas where the trees began changing color were Anna's favorite. These lollipops swirled the previous color with the next. The Lolly Mansion stood in the area where the green lollipops began to swirl into the blue. The effect was breathtaking. The mansion was built of solid bricks made from the blue lollipop trees, and through the translucent candy, Anna could see the thin lollipop sticklike trunks helping to join them together. The home was massive, seven stories tall and built in a square. There were smaller outbuildings each made out of different color lollipops. A red horse barn stood near a yellow chicken coop. On the other side of the mansion, a green greenhouse adjoined a purple shed.
"We grow all our new lollipop varieties in that greenhouse," Lily pointed out. "I've been playing with some new flavors. I'm trying to blend flavors as well as colors. I'm also trying to strengthen some of the old strains. All of the old varieties are dying out, and I don't like to see that happen. I've had limited success so far. Pfeffer, perhaps later you and I could take a look at what I'm working on."
"Sure," he agreed. "I've been doing some tinkering with new grafting techniques myself. I'd be happy to take a look and trade some secrets." Macy and Anna exchanged a significant look.
The front door of the mansion opened and a man and woman came out. Anna could tell immediately they were Lily's parents. The dark hair and freckles came from her father, but the upturned nose and beauty were all from her mother. They looked so much alike they could almost pass for sisters. It wasn't until they were all shaking hands and making introductions that Anna could see the fine smile lines around Lady Lolly's eyes and lips.
"Lady Lolly, Lord Lolly, it is so good to see you again," Mr. Mint said, shaking each of their hands.
"Welcome back, young man," Lord Lolly said. "It has certainly been a long time. I can barely believe my eyes. What happened to the gloomy young man with the hair in his eyes? Where's the short one of the bunch?"
"I guess I grew up, sir." Mr. Mint said, turning red. Anna wondered what it was about this family that brought out that response in him. Probably because of Lily she supposed.
"Well, come in! Come in!" Lady Lolly enthused. "You have just enough time to freshen up before supper. Lily will show you where to go."
Lily led the ladies to the left side of the mansion, the side facing the green lollipops, then she took the men to the opposite side of the home, the side facing the blue lollipops. She came back to where the girls were in their room washing up for supper at a dressing table.
"Ok, girls, spill it." She said flopping onto the queen bed in the center of the room.
"Spill what?" Macy turned from the mirror, confused.
"Everything! I want to hear all about your travels, your adventures. How did you meet Mr. Mint? How long have you been traveling? Everything!"
"The Mr. Mint story IS pretty funny," Macy said, smirking at Anna. "Are you going to tell it or should I?"
"Go ahead," Anna said with an exaggerated eye roll. "I know you're dying to." As Macy recounted their tasting the peppermint leaves, even singing the song from their childhood, Anna watched Lily. Every time Macy said Mr. Mint's name, Lily's eyes would light up. Uh oh, she's a goner, Anna thought. Or maybe it's him that's a goner!
The story took them until suppertime, with Macy doing dramatic reenactments of the funniest bits that had all three of them rolling on the floor with laughter.
"Macy and Anna, you two and I are going to be great friends, I just know it," Lily said, wiping tears out of her eyes. "My sides hurt. I don't know the last time I've had such a good belly laugh. You'll have to save the rest of the adventure stories for the supper table, but maybe later you can tell me all the good bits again.”
A Needed Break
The dinner hall where they enjoyed supper that night rang with laughter and good cheer as each one told stories about their travels. Lord and Lady Lolly expressed their grief at hearing about the deaths in the Mattel family, and asked how the war was getting on.
"We've been grateful to have a lull in the action since Lord Licorice had been in jail." Alexander responded. "Unfortunately now that he's escaped we have no idea what he is planning, or whom he is planning it with. We've rounded up so many of his old cronies, it's hard to guess who would side with him now." Lord Lolly nodded sagely and said,
"I was always surprised that he left us relatively alone. After all, it was partly our fault that he didn't get what he wanted in the first place. But he's never really bothered us or the townspeople near here."
"Maybe he figured he would own it all eventually anyway," Cargo suggested.
"Yes, perhaps that is it." Lord Lolly changed the subject. "Lily, did you tell the girls about your engagement?" Shocked at this question Macy and Anna looked to Lily. Lily ducked her head and said,
"Yes, I'm engaged to Prince Bazooka. We're to be married early next year." Anna stole a glance at Mr. Mint. His eyes were wide, but other than that his features looked placid. This can't be good news for him, she thought.
"Yes, the arrangements have been made with King Kandy for a long time," Lady Lolly put in. "We first decided shortly after the time we were officially recognized as the rightful owners of the Lollipop woods. We felt the marriage would strengthen the bonds between our families and ultimately strengthen the kingdom."
"No pressure there," Anna murmured sarcastically to Macy.
"Hush, be kind," Macy scolded in a whisper.
"Now that Lily is of age we have begun arrangements in earnest." Lady Lolly continued, not noticing Macy and Anna's side conversation. "We wanted to have the wedding as part of the celebration of King Kandy's birthday, but our dear Lily wouldn't go for it."
"I didn't want to overshadow his big day," Lily put in quickly.
"Of course not, dear," Lady Lolly beamed at her daughter. "Our Lily is always so thoughtful." Though the words were kind, Anna felt an undercurrent of disapproval running through them. Lady Lolly must be anxious to see this marriage through, she thought. I wonder if there is more to it than that?
Meanwhile, Macy was thinking of Mr. Mint. How did he feel about this upcoming wedding? It certainly couldn't be a surprise to him, if it had been planned for so long. Perhaps he had forgotten about it. Or maybe he hadn't and that explained the awkwardness he displayed around the Lolly family. At that moment, Cargo piped up, breaking the tension beginning to filter through the room.
"Did you hear the one about the Oreo who refused to eat supper?" At their replies of No, Cargo continued "He was already stuffed." The group laughed obligingly and the talk moved away from weddings.
The blue green lollipop trees glistened in the sunlight as they readied to leave the next morning. Lord Lolly provided the company with horses to ride. Each horse had a splendid saddle and colorful reins. Starlight's legs were too short to properly ride a horse, so Lord Lolly had his groom hitch a small cart to Anna's horse. Mr. Mint elected to walk saying,
"I don't think I want to burden any beast with my girth." Lord Lolly nodded in approval. Macy looked around for Lily, but didn't spot their new friend. The girls had stayed up long into the night whispering and giggling. Macy supposed Lily had simply slept in. As they prepared to ride out the driveway of the Lolly estate, another rider came galloping up. Macy was not at all surprised to see that it was Lily, dressed in traveling clothes.
"What are you doing?" her mother asked, her voice sounding shocked.
"I'm going with them," Lily announced, as though it were already a done deal.
"You most certainly are not!" Her mother protested. "You need to stay here and work on your wedding plans. You can ride out with us when we go in a few days."
"I don't want to wait. And I certainly don't need to be here for wedding plans, you've got that well in hand, Mother." Lily calmly replied. "Besides, wouldn't it be good for me to get to know Prince Bazooka a little better before the wedding? By the time I would arrive with you, there would be so many people that I wouldn't get any time to talk to him." Lady Lolly looked unconvinced.
"Your ladyship, we will keep her perfectly safe," Alexander said. "She is most welcome to come with us. With these horses we should be to Kandy Castle in two days. I too am anxious to spend time with King Kandy's sons."
"Oh, let her go, Mother," Lord Lolly said, impatiently. "She is so rarely with young people anymore. She's right too about spending more time with Bazooka. She barely even knows him." Still looking unsure, Lady Lily caved.
"Alright, I suppose she can go with you. But promise me you will deliver her safely to the castle." The men in the traveling party gave their solemn word, Mr. Mint most solemnly of all.