by Dawn Knox
Previously: It’s New Year’s Eve and for once, Crispin isn’t in charge of the celebrations. It’s just as well, because he’s about to fall in love…
“It’s rubbing my neck,” said Sylvester, tugging at his collar, “and I can’t do this stupid tie up.”
“Stop grumbling,” said Crispin, “let me do it.” And within seconds, he’d deftly fashioned a bow at Sylvester’s throat.
“Very smart,” he said, brushing dust off the young Elf’s dinner jacket.
Sylvester pushed his hand away irritably, “I feel like a dog with a collar. I can’t believe Jubbly planned a formal ball and not a Mexican fiesta.”
“He was going to, but then he spotted a rather glamorous ball gown in a catalogue, and he couldn’t resist it.”
Sylvester checked his reflection in the hall mirror, “Huh! I look just like Mr Willetts, Her Ladyship’s butler.”
“You’ll enjoy it when you get there and all your mates will be dressed the same… Come on, cheer up, it’ll be exciting.”
“Will there be strippers?”
“No, of course not! It’s a New Year’s Eve ball, not a stag night.”
“No strippers? Then, trust me. It won’t be exciting.” He paused, “Will the Fairies who live at the end of the Garden be there?”
The words ‘flirty’ and ‘flighty’ always popped into Crispin’s mind when the Fairies who live at the end of the Garden were mentioned. “I expect so,” he said apprehensively. But at least Sylvester had cheered up which was a relief as his grumbling had started to dampen Crispin’s enthusiasm. And that was a shame, as he’d been looking forward to the ball, knowing that Jubbly had volunteered to organise it.
Bartrum had wanted Crispin to be in charge as usual, but his resolve had crumbled when Jubbly, with the dress catalogue clutched to his chest, had got down on his knees and begged.
Not that Crispin had been able to avoid all responsibility. Jubbly had asked him to come early, to meet and greet the guests at the entrance to the Gazebo, and Crispin had been more than happy to agree. He hadn’t been quite so keen when he realised Frank Fowle would be at the door too, ‘in case of any trouble’. But it was still preferable to organising refreshments, music and all the other things that Jubbly had agreed to arrange. Crispin had no idea what sort of trouble Frank was expecting, but at least he looked the part in his t-shirt, with ‘SECURITY’ emblazoned across the front. Crispin noted that it actually said ‘SEUCRITY’ but he doubted anyone would point this out or indeed even dare to stare at the Troll’s chest for any length of time, to spot the error.
“Ah Crispin!” said Jubbly, flouncing towards the entrance, smoothing the tiers of tulle on his enormous ball gown skirt, “Well, what d’you think? Have I overdone it? The skirt’s a bit on the large side,” he said, raising the hem to show off layers of net petticoat, “But it’s hoopless.”
“Looks pretty hopeless to me,” whispered Sylvester.
“Hoopless,” Crispin whispered out of the corner of his mouth at Sylvester, “meaning it has no hoops.”
“It doesn’t have any hope either,” Sylvester whispered back.
Jubbly’s smile was beginning to slip.
“Erm,” said Crispin “It’s … well, it’s…
“Hoopless,” said Sylvester, trying to help Crispin out.
“You don’t like it, do you?” Jubbly’s bottom lip began to tremble.
“Yes, it’s… well, I’m just speechless,” Crispin finally managed. “Yes, it’s speech-defying.”
“Speech-defying!” Jubbly’s smile was back and his eyes glittered with excitement. He did a twirl, sending the skirt ballooning out as he spun. Halfway through the second twirl, he stopped abruptly and shouted “No! Don’t put those in there!” The Gnome who was about to place a large bouquet in the punch bowl froze and began to tremble as Jubbly strode menacingly towards him.
“Lots o’ nervous tension ‘ere tonight,” remarked Frank, “People need to chill. Yeah, to chill,” he added thoughtfully and pushed his finger up his nostril.
“No! No! This bowl is for punch,” Jubbly shrieked, “something I’m going to do to you if you try to put those flowers in there again!”
Frank Fowle shook his head “’E’s gonna blow a gasket before midnight if ‘e don’t calm down.”
A small delivery Pixie staggered towards Frank carrying a large crate of glasses.
“Where d’ya want these, mate?”
“Better see ‘im over there,” said Frank nodding his head at Jubbly.
“The bloke in green?”
The Pixie peered short-sightedly into the Gazebo. The only person in there was Jubbly, furiously tweaking the flowers.
“Not the bloke in green?”
“Nah,” said Frank, “it ain’t green, it’s chartreuse.”
“Wossat then?” asked the Pixie.
“It’s like green,” said Frank.
“Aah!” said the Pixie and he lurched forward with the crate of clinking glasses.
“Can I be of assistance?” asked Crispin, grabbing the end of the crate that had tipped perilously close to the ground.
“Cheers, mate,” said the Pixie letting go of the other end and leaving the crate to Crispin. He tipped his hat to Sylvester and Frank as he left, whistling.
“I’ve been trying to think what Jubbly reminds me of,” said Sylvester to Frank “and it’s suddenly come to me. Standing there with his hands on his hips, he looks like a lettuce with handles.”
Crispin was doing his best to meet and greet guests but Frank Fowle wasn’t making it easy. He insisted on checking each ticket individually and searching all bags.
“What are you looking for?” Crispin asked in exasperation.
“You never know,” said Frank tapping the side of his nose with one finger and then sliding it up the adjacent nostril.
Crispin wandered off to get a sausage roll while Frank inspected a Gnome’s enormous handbag. He could see it was going to take a while before Frank got to the bottom of what looked more like a suitcase. On his return, the Troll had allowed the Gnome and her bag in, but was now standing with arms crossed, blocking the way of the most beautiful being Crispin had ever seen.
“Stop dribbling,” said Sylvester, who’d suddenly appeared next to him. He pushed Crispin’s lower jaw up to meet the top one, “It’s not a cool look.”
“Stop it,” said Crispin crossly but he couldn’t take his eyes off the vision in the brilliant white dress. Her golden curls were held back by a colourful butterfly which periodically took off and fluttered delicately around her head to alight on her shoulder or arm, then to resume its position holding back her blonde locks.
“Looks like she needs help,” said Sylvester, nudging Crispin, “What’re you waiting for?”
Crispin strode forward importantly.
“What’s the problem, Frank?”
“This young person, claims she’s an Angel.”
“Well, that certainly seems likely,” said Crispin looking from the dainty white shoes up to the glowing halo. “Is there a problem with that?”
“No, but she doesn’t have a ticket. No ticket, no ball.”
“But I don’t want to go to the ball, sir, I simply want to speak to someone,” said the angelic being.
“That’s what they all say,” said Frank.
“Who?” asked the Angel.
“Anyone who wants to gate-crash.”
“But I don’t want to come in, I’d just like a word with McTavish. Please, if you could bring him here, I could see him and I wouldn’t need to bother you anymore.”
“Sorry. Can’t do that. Rules is rules,” said Frank stubbornly.
“What rules are they?” asked Crispin, finally finding his tongue.
Frank glared at him.
“Would you mind if I dealt with this, Frank? There are lots of people with tickets who are waiting to come in.”
“’Ear, ‘ear,” said someone in the rapidly growing queue.
“On yer own ‘ead be it,” declared Frank, turning to the Fairy who was next in line.
“About time too,” she said tartly, snapping open her clutch bag and pushing it under Frank’s nose.
“If you’ll follow me,” Crispin said, leading the Angel into the Gazebo. It wasn’t far to the room at the back where McTavish was playing poker, but Crispin was stalling for time and he led her in the opposite direction.
“I’m Crispin,” he said and paused, waiting for her to introduce herself. She merely smiled.
“And you are?” Crispin prompted.
“I’m pleased to meet you,” she said.
“And I’m pleased to meet you too… but you are…?”
“I’m still pleased to meet you,” she said “this is a lovely ball. I wish I’d been invited.”
“You can stay,” said Crispin, staring into her blue eyes, “please,” he added.
She blushed slightly “I need to find McTavish. His sisters and I have come a long way and his house is locked. He usually leaves the key under the flowerpot but it’s not there. We’re all really tired.”
“Of course, of course,” said Crispin.
“You, sly old dog, Crispin,” said Jubbly when he spotted Crispin and the Angel, “I didn’t know you were bringing someone. And someone so beautiful.” He smiled at her, “And you are?”
“Very pleased to meet you,” she said.
“Likewise,” said Jubbly, winking at Crispin.
“You wouldn’t happen to know where McTavish is, would you?” she asked.
“Yes,” said Jubbly, he’s out there,” indicating a door at the back of the Gazebo. Crispin now had no excuse to delay taking her directly to the room, so he made full use of the press of dancing bodies to take as long as possible while he enjoyed the company of the beautiful Angel at his side. The feel of her downy wing brushing his hand was giving him shivers of delight that made Doggett’s tingles appear like the merest itch.
“Perhaps we could have one dance before we find McTavish?” Crispin asked hopefully.
“I’m really sorry,” she said, as he’d known she would, “but I can’t help thinking of the others. They’re waiting for me…”
“Of course, I understand,” said Crispin. She was, after all, an Angel, and an Angel wouldn’t leave people outside a locked house in the dark while she danced with a stranger. But he was disappointed all the same.
The cards hadn’t been kind to McTavish and he’d been losing heavily, so he wasn’t exactly welcoming when the Angel disturbed him.
“Here,” he said, handing her a key, “let yourself in. I’ll be home later. Don’t wait up.”
Crispin had watched from the door and was astonished that McTavish hadn’t greeted her or asked how her journey had been.
“Thank you,” she said with a smile that made Crispin’s knees tremble. But McTavish had already turned back to his cards.
“So, what happened?” Sylvester asked when Crispin finally got home.
“But the Angel. Don’t tell me you let her get away.”
Crispin sighed. That’s exactly what he’d done. He’d escorted her to the entrance but Frank had distracted him and she’d slipped away.
“What’s the rush?” Frank had asked as Crispin had pushed past him but it was too late, she’d been about to disappear into the woods.
“Please!” he’d called, “Please don’t go! At least tell me your name…”
A sound like tinkling bells drifted out of the woods towards Crispin. Unfortunately, Gusty Bob had been drinking fizzy lemonade and chose that exact moment to vent off some of the fizz.
“Nooo!” yelled Crispin but it was too late. All he knew about the exquisite Angel was that her name began with ‘B’ and that she’d lost a feather from one of her wings. He stooped to pick it up and stroked it against his cheek.
“For goodness sake, stop moping and go and look for her,” said Sylvester, “so what if you don’t know her name? She’s staying with McTavish and if you can’t remember what she looks like, which is highly unlikely, you can always match her up to that feather. Oooh! It’s just like Cinderella.”
“Don’t be so ridiculous,”
“Have you got a better idea, Prince Charming?”
“This had better not take long,” grunted McTavish the next morning over a mug of black coffee. “I’m feeling a bit under the weather.” He puffed at a fat cigar and coughed.
“It’s about your sister,” said Crispin politely.
“The one you gave the key to, last night.”
“I don’t remember giving a key to my sister last night. What’s her name?”
“Well, that’s just it, I don’t know. All I know is that it begins with ‘B’.”
“They all begin with B. Bess! Come and sort this out!” he yelled, wincing at the sound of his own voice. “Now see what you’ve made me do.” He scowled at Crispin.
A tall Angel glided into the room.
“Deal with this. I’m going to bed…”
“Yes, dear,” said Bess looking enquiringly at Crispin, “Can I help you?”
“I met one of your sisters last night and I wanted to…well, I wanted to…say hello…”
“Beryl and I are the only two here,” she said, “the others left about an hour ago.”
“And it wasn’t Bess or Beryl?” asked Sylvester.
Crispin shook his head sadly.
“So, what was her name?”
“It doesn’t matter now. All McTavish’s sisters, except Bess and Beryl, have gone.”
He sighed and stroked the feather in his palm.
“My Cinderella,” he whispered.
Not far from the Ornamental Bridge, Bella, the Angel, sat, staring at the tiny stream which trickled into the lake. A colourful butterfly tried vainly to pull the golden curls off her face and finally, giving up, it fluttered into the air and alighted on her outstretched finger.
“He was so handsome, Mr Lambert,” she said to the butterfly, “and so kind and gentle. And I’ll never see him again.”
A tear slid down her cheek.
The butterfly rose into the air and hovered near her ear, dipping and bobbing.
“Yes, Mr Lambert,” Bella said to the butterfly, “I have asked Uncle McTavish if he knows Crispin but he’s been in such a bad mood since he lost at cards, he said he’s never heard of him and anyway, he can’t be expected to know every Tom, Dick and Harry in the Garden.” She shook her head forlornly.
“I don’t want any Tom, Dick or Harry. I just want Crispin.”
Mr Lambert heaved a butterfly sigh. He’d never seen his Bella so distraught. But if she’d set her heart on Crispin, then he’d see what he could do.
In the meantime, he wondered what were the chances of interesting her in a Tom, Dick or a Harry instead…?
About the author
Dawn’s two previous books in the ‘Chronicles Chronicles’ series are ‘The Basilwade Chronicles’ and ‘The Macaroon Chronicles’ both published by Chapeltown Publishing.
The Crispin Chronicles
Links to the previous chapters:
Chapter 1 – Her Ladyship’s Garden - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/04/the-crispin-chronicles-1-her-ladyships.html
Chapter 2 – The Letter from OFSGAR - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/search/label/The%20Crispin%20Chronicles%20-%20The%20Letter%20from%20OFSGAR
Chapter 3 -The Sweet Smell of Success - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-3-sweet-smell-of.html
Chapter 4 – A Visit from Peggy the Pram - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-4-visit-from.html
Chapter 5 – Nightly Disturbances - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-5-nightly.html
Chapter 6 – Just Desserts - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/05/the-crispin-chronicles-6-just-desserts.html
Chapter 7 – A Little Girl at Large - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/06/the-crispin-chronicles-7-little-girl-at.html
Chapter 8 – The Halloween Party - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/06/the-crispin-chronicles-8-halloween-party.html
Chapter 9 – A Glimmer of an Idea - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/07/the-crispin-chronicles-9-glimmer-of-idea.html
Chapter 10 – Doggett Sees the Light - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/07/the-crispin-chronicles-10-doggett-sees.html
Chapter 11 – Doggett’s Blues – https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/07/the-crispin-chronicles-11-doggetts-blues.html
Chapter 12 – A Genie out of the Bottle - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/08/the-crispin-chronicles-12-genie-out-of.html
Chapter 13 – The Christmas Beast - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/08/the-crispin-chronicles-13-christmas.html