Whenever I can’t think of anything to write, I’ll always refer back to one of the first books that caused me to fall in love with words and the power they are capable of. I’ve read this story approximately seven times now… Born with a wicked curse of having to be obedient, no matter what the demand (whether it be hopping on one foot for two days or chopping off her own head), Ella will always and forever be my triumphant heroine. Enjoy this excerpt:
Hattie didn’t tell anyone about my obedience. When she had an order for me, she’d tell me to meet her in the garden after supper when on one else was near. On the first such occasion, she instructed me to pick a bouquet for her.
Luckily, she didn’t know I was goddaughter to a fairy cook. I picked the most fragrant blooms, then ran to the herb garden hoping to find something useful. Effelwort was my preference. If I found it, Hattie would have an itchy rash on her face for a week.
Most of the herbs were the ordinary sort, but as I turned to leave, I spotted a sprig of bogweed. Taking care not to breathe its scent, I plucked it and placed it next to a rose.
Hattie was delighted with the flowers and buried her face in them. “They’re sublime. But what . . . .?” As the scent of the bogweed worked on her, her smile faded, and her expression became vacant.
“What would make you stop giving me orders?”
She answered in a flat tone, “If you stopped obeying them.”
Of course. I had wasted a question and I had no idea how long the bogweed scent would last. But as long as it lasted, I could ask her anything and she would answer honestly.
“What else would stop you?” I asked quickly.
“Nothing.” She thought. “My death.”
No likely release from that quarter. “What orders do you plan to give me?”
“I don’t plan.”
“Why do you hate me?”
“You never admired me.”
“Do you admire me?”
“You’re pretty. And brave.”
She envied me. I was amazed. “What do you fear?” I asked.
“Ogres. Bandits. Drowning. Becoming ill. Climbing mountains. Mice. Dogs. Cats. Birds. Horses. Spiders. Worms. Tunnels. Poi–”
I stopped her. She was afraid of everything. “What do you want most in the world?”
“To be queen.”
A rabbit queen. Only I would obey her.
Her face was changing, resuming its usual expression of gleeful malice. I tried one more question. “What are your secrets?”
She didn’t answer, just tugged cruelly on a handful of my hair. Her eyes lost their dull cast.
“Why am I standing here?” She looked down at her flowers but didn’t sniff them again. “Oh, yes. What a good lady-in-waiting to bring me such a beautiful bouquet.” She frowned. “But one scent is not sweet. Take it out.”
I removed the bogweed and ground it under my foot. If I had thought of it, I could have asked her how she could be defeated.
– Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine