Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Tumbledown Fairies Visit the Sun

The subjects of Tumbleby were known far and wide for the wicked tricks they played, but there was no mischief more wicked in all of the land than the tricks of the Tumbledown Fairies.  It was the fairies, no less, who stole the tarts the Queen of Hearts had made, and it was the fairies too who fed them to the knave though his tummy soon complained.
This wicked trick, the tummy of an unfortunate prince complaining from summer fruits, and a queen without any treats for tea, did nothing to improve their fairy ways; no sooner indeed had the knave been sent up to his bed, his tummy jiggling and wiggling beneath the confines of his shirt, than the band of fairies were skipping off upon some new, wicked quest.
It took them that afternoon right into the garden of the King.  All fairies knew that this garden had been forbidden by the sternest of decrees, and none could doubt the severity of the King if he was to find them there; and so it was with the hushest of fairy giggles and the quietest of scampering feet and hands that Flora led the fairies over the high wall and onto the bed that was forbidden.
The pride of this forbidden, royal bed was the sunflower that grew in its sunniest of centres.  This flower was watered by royal command, and so great was this royal care, that the golden head upon the thick, green stalk rose high above the dark, brown earth.  So tall was it indeed, that the King’s own boots tipped to their tops as he made the royal measures.  He read these aloud each day.
 “The royal sunflower”, he had announced that day, standing upon the highest step of his royal castle, the royal ruler grasped in his royal hand, “is ten feet tall this day; ten feet and seven inches.”
And yet, though this royal measure was followed by another of the sternest royal prohibitions, the royal voice making it known that this flower was for the royal eye alone, such prohibitions served only to encourage the wicked fairies.  Their fairy feet skipped with the merriest of skippings, their petal tunics dancing upon the royal earth, even as the King wrote out the latest of the royal proclamations.
His royal eye was so busy with this important work that it did not turn to the fairy faces beneath the watchful royal window, and the many coloured petals of the fairy tunics might have been no more than leaves upon an autumn breeze; and so the fairies skipped in play, whilst the royal words sounded from the window above: None shall enter, they proclaimed, none at all shall enter except the water-bearer and  I.
            “And I,” called the naughty Flora as she hid beneath a leaf.
            “And I”, called Galant, following close behind.
            “And I”, called Schmetter, stepping boldly forth, her brightly coloured tunic fluttering as she danced for all to see.
It was Schmetter no less, still dancing with her naughty play, who was the first to skip unto the forbidden flower.  Her strong, knobbled hands reached high up to the thin, white fibres of the stalk, and so quickly did her her fingers climb that her large, brown feet were left chasing the knobbles of her knees.  Schmetter climbed lightly in the bright autumn sun and she was soon out of sight among the thick, green leaves.
There Schmetter rested, her merry, round head supported by her long, knobbled fingers, and her thick, green leaf rocking gently as the flower head followed the sun.  She was joined soon after by the rest of the sleepy band, their stick arms stiff now from their many, long stretchings, and their tiny stick tummies growing as full as can be of the hungriest of spaces. 
            “I can dance in the sun”, called Schmetter, when the cranky band stepped unto the leaf, “like a butterfly on the breeze.”  She gave an energetic skip to demonstrate.
            “I can dance in the sun”, said Flora, not wishing to be outdone, “like a noisy swarm of bees”; she too skipped.
            “I can dance in the sun”, said Ferkel, his words much quicker than his thoughts, “ like the knobbles of my knees.”
Fairy knobbles, as any tumbledown knew, did not dance.  It was their fairy feet that skipped, their fairy hands that climbed and their merry, fairy lips that giggled; their knobbles were just knobbles.  And so the fairies laughed at the silly words; then they frowned at the foolish Ferkel, and Ferkel might indeed have wished himself at home in bed, were it not for Dente and the feast ahead.
Dente, with his long, sharp teeth, had not paused to play the game that day, and as the fairies laughed the hungry Dente continued on his climb, Schmetter and Galant behind. The fairies did not wait to hurry after, climbing to the yellow petals of the flower’s head.  There upon the golden disk they joined their friends, skipping and dancing among the many thousand florets, and having the merriest of fairy feasts. 
Such merriment did the fairies have, and so sweet was the pollen from the golden sun, that they were soon the noisiest of fairy bands, skipping in the evening air; but the royal ear need not have bothered with the giddy sound, nor the royal head have leaned from the tall royal window, for even as he reached for the royal swat the fairies were asleep once more among the tallest of the tumbledown trees.

©2011 Padraig De Brún

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Tumbledown Fairies Tumble Down

The King of Tumbleby had many naughty subjects, but there was no naughtiness in the kingdom to match the fairies of Tumbledown Wood.  It was the fairies no less who tickled poor Humpty as he sat upon his wall, and it was the fairies too who laughed when he had his great fall, his large round head sinking deep into the prickles of a thick, green hedge.
This wicked deed, a king’s hedge shaking with the wobbles of an egg, and all the king’s men woken at the noisy cries, served only to encourage the naughty fairies; no sooner indeed had poor Humpty been lifted unto his uneven seat, hammered and glued and boarded with wood, two fat goose-feathers where his ears had been, than the wicked fairies were skipping off for some further fun.
They found their fun that afternoon in the very wood by which they earned their name.  Tumbledown Wood grew right outside the castle wall, its trees so tall they could peep down at the king, and its timber so plentiful they gave heat to the great royal fire all winter long.  Such heat was exactly what an important king should need, and it was this need that gave voice to his most important royal proclamation.
            “No subject shall enter Tumbledown Wood,” the king announced, his royal personage standing upon the royal steps, and his royal nose shivering with the winter’s cold; “none at all from this day forth, except the wood-cutter and I.”
And yet, though the Seven Sleepers awoke and hurried from their beds, and even the spring grass plucked up its roots and galloped off beneath the cover of snow in search of some new lush meadow, the fairies gave not a care to the orders of their king.  They were too naughty to heed his words, and so they skipped and danced, each naughty voice competing to repeat the royal declaration.
            “By order of Me”, they laughed, puffing out their stick chests and creasing their eyebrows in wicked imitation of royal frowns.
            “And Me!”
            “And Me!”
When they had done with this sport, their tummies quite empty now from the efforts of their mischief, they soon forgot what had been said, and thinking only of the wood-cutter with his long, sharp axe, they tipped and toed beneath the new royal fence and off into the forbidden wood, the tunics of their many-coloured petals marching across the snow like an army of ants busy at work. 
These fairies were too tiny for the royal eyes, and those eyes were too sleepy from royal work to search the ground below the castle walls; and so, even as the royal toes warmed before the royal heat, the tumbledowns went deeper and deeper into the forbidden royal wood, their large brown feet sinking deep into the snow, right up to the hairy knobbles of their knees.
So cold were the tumbledowns as they marched that even Flora’s teeth began to chatter, giving off the sound of a sleeping cricket, and Dente too froze, his nose the colour of a dark blue berry.  Only Galant remained fearless that day, his thoughts upon the snow-drops in the clearings of the trees, and his lips already tasting the sweet pollen of their six yellow anthers.
It was Galant then who first spotted the clusters of bell-shaped flowers, and it was Galant too who leapt unto the tall, green stalk, his long stick fingers, climbing faster than his chasing feet.  Galant took no rest upon the pedicel from which the white flower hung, and he was deep within the green, pleated skirt of the delicate tepals whilst his friends continued their climb.
He might have stayed there too, feeding upon the rich food, his tummy swelling from the feast, but he was soon too rounded for the space in which he hid and he tumbled down into the snow.  There his friends joined him, one by one, tumbling plip, plop, plup, their tummies full, and when they had done with laughing at the sport, Flora stood up to begin a new game.
            “My name is Flora,” she announced, standing tall and reaching high into the air, “and I love snow-drops.”
            “My name is Dente,” said her friend, standing also and rubbing his fat, round belly, “and I eat flowers.”
“My name is Ferkel,” said the tiniest of the fairies, still busy within the tepals of his flower, “and I.............”
“Tumble down”, chimed all the fairies together, as Ferkel fell to the earth.
The inconvenience to his play, an anther still uneaten in his hand, did nothing to upset the little Ferkel; he sank his teeth without another word, whilst the others skipped about with their jest.  Their play was soon so noisy the sound carried to the wood-cutter nearby, but he need not have stomped his boots to where they were, for they were gone, cosy in their petal beds and dreaming of the naughty days ahead.

©2011 Padraig De Brún

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Tumbledown Fairies Grow Tall

The tumbledown fairies loved mischief, and it was this mischief, more than anything that earned them their reputation as the king’s naughtiest subjects.  It was the fairies no less who baked the blackbirds that they might sing from the pie and it was they too who tickled the forlorn maid, causing her to squeal with delight as her pecked nose came to rest beneath the large, warm seat of an old mother swan.
The indignity of this deed, a poor maid laughing at the loss of her very own nose, did nothing to interrupt the fairies’ afternoon sport.  No sooner indeed had the dear old bird settled with grace upon her unexpected care, the sound of its sneezes causing her to look uncertainly about, than the round-faced tumbledowns were skipping off in search of some new naughty quest.
It was to be found on the evening of that long summer’s day in the square of garden beneath the splendid gold casing of the ever watchful royal window.  No fairy in all the land could doubt the greatness of the king’s displeasure, if he were to catch them there.  And so it was with the quietest of giggles, and the gentlest of skippings that Flora Tumbleden climbed over the garden wall.
The royal gaze, occupied at that very moment with the most serious of stately matters, the counting of the few remaining gold pieces, did not notice Flora’s stick-like form, despite the large knobbles of her nose, feet and hands.  Nor did the ever vigilant royal eye catch the flutter of the many-coloured petal-rags in which Flora’s friends were dressed.
The sound indeed that travelled to the royal ear was no louder than that of a common cabbage butterfly, and the hushed giggles of the tumbledowns might have been a mere whisper from the many flowers the king dressed his garden in.  And so the royal thought remained upon the shortages of the royal mint as the king counted out his holdings once again.
“One, two, three, four, five.”
Flora and her friends cared little for such important business, intent as they were upon matters of a mischievous sort.  Their eyes fixed firmly upon the purple petals of an aster, they climbed slowly up the long green stem, their sharp white teeth already imagining the golden crunch of the stamen, just as their bellies, stretched now and empty of food, longed for the rich sweetness of the aster’s pollen.
It was this, the most treasured of the garden’s delights that kept the fairies climbing on and on, past the thin green leaves, their tiny knobbled fingers stretching high above their heads and pulling their long, thin bodies upwards, causing their tired, brown feet to scrabble among the plant’s many fibres as they gave chase to their very own legs.
It might have been bedtime when they arrived on to the golden platform, so long was their climb, and the thought of the cosy petal hammocks in which they nightly slept made them cranky for their homes.  Only Flora, the naughtiest tumbledown of all, could still think of any wickedness.  She stepped forward on to the king’s flower, bowed low before her watching friends and spoke without a care.
            “I’m tall”, she announced in her most important, grown-up voice, “so tall I could eat a horseleech.”
The fairies laughed loud at these mischievous words, the thought of the slimy, black leeches wriggling down into their tummies, making them squirm and skip in delight.
            “I’m tall”, said Dente, taking up the fun and stepping forward to join his friend, “so tall I could eat a horse mushroom.”
This food, a favourite of the fairies, brought more laughter, and as they danced and skipped, not caring for the noise they made, Ferkel now joined the game.  Ferkel was the smallest of the tiny fairies, with a black tuft of hair on his round head.  He wore a bright red tulip tunic over his stick frame, and he stretched up on his toes as he spoke, his dark eyes glistening with naughty delight.
            “I’m tall,” he said, his voice as loud and important as the other two, “so tall I could eat a horseslip.”
This strange slip, better known for its attachment to a cow, brought no response at all from the waiting fairies.  The tumbledowns liked their silliness to make sense and so they looked on and waited, and as they did Ferkel’s eyes started to glisten now with sadness.  If it had not been for Flora’s wicked behaviour he would indeed have told them that he wished he had not come on the silly adventure at all.
But Flora knew that the best way to cure a fairy from his cranky words was to fill his belly with delicious food.  And so she broke the tallest stamen of them all, its yellow needle reddened from the rich juice it contained, and without any care for the king whose royal flowers she was proposing to eat she began the feast with a noisy, hungry chomp.
There was no need for sadness now, nor cranky thoughts of bed.  The fairies all were friends again and they danced and skipped and laughed as they fed, soon turning the tidy aster into a fairy mess.  It was to this mess that the king’s eye was drawn, but even as he reached for the spray it was sleep-time and they were gone, cosy in their hammocks, dreaming of the wicked deeds that would surely come when they awoke.
©2011 Padraig De Brún