If you were a bookish child born in (I’m going to guess) the 80s, chances are you read the Serendipity books.
I checked out a lot of these from the library over the years, but I think the only one I actually owned was Misty Morgan. That book has ended up on my kids’ shelf, and while it hasn’t gotten into the regular routine yet, I have read it to them a few times over the last few years. And I’ve got a bone to pick with author Stephen Cosgrove.
To catch you up, the title character Morgan is this majestic stallion:
He has a friend, “a very pretty princess dressed in pinks and purples” who “lived by time and time alone.” She lives in a “magnificent” castle filled with clocks: “alarm clocks, cuckoo clocks, grandfather clocks, and even a grandmother clock.”
The princess spends all day every day running from clock to clock, making sure they’re all set and keeping the right time. This is literally how she spends all her time. There’s no explanation given for why she has to babysit these clocks, or what will happen if she lets them fall out of time. But it’s clearly important to her – she is always “rushing here and rushing there, crying ‘Can’t be late!’…Time was the master and the princess was the slave.”
Morgan, on the other hand, loves to “play and frolic in the forest and meadows…He would chase after butterflies and kick at the sun, for his life was his own and filled with fun.”
Good for you, Morgan.
Morgan goes to the castle one day to see if the princess can play, but surprise! She’s busy. She tells him she doesn’t have time, but maybe later. He goes outside to wait for her (while doing absolutely nothing) and then heads back inside, “sure that he had waited long enough.” She gets impatient and tells him she doesn’t have time to play right now, and runs off.
Morgan goes back outside. He waits for her. Let me tell you exactly what he does:
A day, maybe two, passed by while he nibbled on some flowers and chased a bird about the meadow. He idly spent his time scratching his back on the bark of a tree, or taking naps in the bright, golden sunlight. He waited, and wiled away the time. Finally he galloped back to the castle.
Inside, he finds her shoveling coal in the basement. She’s annoyed and says, “Listen, unicorn! I am very, very busy. Time is wasting and I don’t have time to play right now. When I do have time to play I’ll find you! For now, leave me be!”
He is very bummed out, and leaves. He wanders away from the castle, and into the Misty Meadows, “a place so lonely, quiet, and empty, that even the birds wouldn’t sing.” He’s so despondent that he walks straight into the Misty Meadows.
The princess continues working, until one day she notices that Morgan is missing. She goes to look for him, and when she can’t find him right away, gets scared that something’s happened. She follows his hoofprints and sees they go straight into the Misty Meadows. “‘Oh no!’ she cried. ‘No one or no thing has ever gone into the Misty Meadows and ever come out!'”
She tries to go into the fog to find him, but everything is “shrouded in silence” and she’s out of luck. So she sits down at the edge of the “Stream of Regrets” and “began to cry and cry. She cried for her selfishness. She cried for those times that she didn’t have time to share.”
Magically, Morgan appears out of the fog, and she runs to him. She leaps on his back and “off they ran, the wind whipping at their hair. The last thing the princess did before they ran out of sight was to take off her watch and toss it far into the Misty Meadows, for she would never be a slave to time again.”
To which I say…wtf? First of all, the princess doesn’t even get a name. And we only see her face one time out of the ten illustrations she’s in.
And who has made her a slave in this castle? She’s the princess but doesn’t seem to rule anything – she just works 24/7. Is this a metaphor? What’s the backstory here?
Also, why can’t Morgan read the room? She needs help. OFFER TO HELP HER. Maybe if you helped her she would have more free time. It’s not like you’re busy. (See above, with the wiling away the time.)
I think the moral of the story is the most annoying part to me. Like, this whole thing was her fault? Because she was feeling overwhelmed and couldn’t stop to run around outside?
It’s also possible that recently I was trying to vacuum, and my five-year-old paused Super Mario Brothers to say, “Hey, you are distracting me with that vacuum sound!”
Okay, new moral:
THERE IS A TIME FOR WORK
AND A TIME FOR PLAY.
MAYBE HELP YOUR MOM WITH ALL THE CHORES
AND ALSO LEARN HER NAME
AND LOOK AT HER FACE.