CH. 15.3 — Ezra stared out the window at the green, leafy maze on the south side of the gardens. On a grassy hill in the center of the maze was a giant sundial, built by his great-grandfather.
Ezra shook his head. The slithy toves had just about eaten all the limestone beneath the sundial. In spite of all the efforts to get rid of the toves, they still continued eating everything made of stone. Pretty soon the hill would crumble and fall, and then how would anyone in the castle know the time?
Ezra gasped and sat up straight. “That’s it!” He ran to his desk and began to draw. That night he snuck out and consulted with his gnome friends, who grew very excited over his idea. The next morning, he called through the door to Franklin. “I need some materials. Could you get them for me?”
Franklin peered cautiously into the room. “What’s the trick?”
“No tricks, I promise. Since I’ve been unjustly imprisoned here for a year, I’ve decided to become an inventor.”
Franklin scratched his head. “An inventor? But what will your father say?”
“He didn’t say I couldn’t work in my room. Now go and get these materials for me.” He handed Franklin a long list.
After his bodyguard left, Queen Natalie came in the room.
Ezra hugged her. “Good morning, Mama.”
She looked worried. “How are you, dear?”
She studied him with concern. “I wish I could do something for you. Your father is being completely unreasonable.”
Ezra smiled bravely. “I deserved it. No, really, stop worrying. I’ll be fine.” At that moment, he couldn’t have been happier – unless he was being set free, of course. But even his mother couldn’t do that.
The queen studied the room. “It’s so dull in here. Perhaps I could redecorate. Brighten the place up for you. That old tapestry has been here for three hundred years. I could commission a new one.”
Ezra kissed her cheek. “No, I love that tapestry. Don’t ever change it. It’s my favorite thing about this room.”
She gave him a puzzled look. “Very well, then. Would you like some books?”
“As a matter of fact…”
Many days later, with the daily help of his mother, who brought books from the library and often stayed to talk or assist him, and the nightly help of several trusted gnomes (including Butterfingers, who turned out to be rather good at mechanical things when not flustered), Ezra finished his first invention.
The next morning, accompanied by his mother, four guards, and Franklin (who was wringing his hands), Ezra carried his invention to the throne room.
Ezra’s heart raced. He couldn’t stop smiling. His father would be so glad to see how responsible Ezra was now. Father would praise Ezra and realize he’d been too hasty, and that Ezra had learned his lesson. Then the king would set him free.