by Dawn Knox
Previously: The teabags have decreed Doggett is going to marry Nina the Ninja and he’s asked Crispin to be his Best Elf. However, Crispin might not have been so quick to accept if he’d know what the Best Elf duties included…
“What d’you mean it’s not a stag?” asked Doggett incredulously, “we saw Big Po unwrap it.”
“We didn’t stay to see him take all the packaging off. You said you wanted to go home to pop the question. Would it have made a difference if you’d known it was a unicorn?” asked Crispin.
“Would it have made a difference to what?” asked Nina, suddenly appearing from nowhere.
“Nothing, dear,” said Doggett
“Did you say ‘unicorn’?” asked Nina.
“It’s an omen,” she said
“It is?” asked Doggett.
“Definitely. It’s every girl’s dream to arrive at her wedding in a carriage drawn by a white unicorn. It is a white one, isn’t it?”
“You see, I knew it! A white unicorn, how wonderful! I must tell Wendy, she’ll be so excited. She’s my bridesmaid, you know,” she said to Crispin.
“Yes, I know,” said Crispin who’d heard about little else the previous day when Wendy had turned up at his Toadstool with an armful of bridal magazines and had insisted he sit with her and go through them to choose a bridesmaid dress.
Nina almost skipped out of the room on her way to the Wendy House.
“Well, I might have been wrong about it being a stag but it looks like the omen was telling me to propose,” said Doggett with relief, “have you met him yet?”
“Oh, you mean Stanley. Yes, I met him yesterday at Garden Inspection. Big Po placed him in that clearing in the woods, you know the one where the Fairies hang out.”
“What am I going to do?” asked Doggett, “How can I ask a complete stranger if he’ll pull a rather large bride and even larger bridesmaid about in a wedding carriage?”
“He seemed quite nice…” said Crispin.
“Yes, but it’s a big ask, isn’t it?”
“Well, as I see it, you don’t have a lot of choice.”
“No,” agreed Doggett gloomily, “but if you’ll come with me, I’m sure that between the two of us, we could persuade him.”
“Please!” said Doggett putting his arm around Crispin’s shoulders.
“Ow! Oooh! Mmm!” said Crispin, “Oh all right. When is the wedding, by the way?”
“Yes, when is it?” asked Nina, appearing from nowhere.
“I thought you were going to see your bridesmaid, dear,” said Doggett.
“Later,” said Nina, “so, when’s the wedding?”
“How about Midsummer’s Day?”
Nina flew at him and covered his face with kisses.
Crispin whispered, “I’ll come back later…” and crept out. It didn’t do to get in the way of true love or even to be in the same room.
“Ow! Oooh! Mmm!” said Nina as Crispin closed the door.
“Stanley P. Weissmeister,” said the unicorn when Crispin introduced Doggett, “at your service, sir.”
“Pleased to meet you,” said Doggett.
“Well, what can I do for you gentle Gnomes?”
Doggett’s eyes bulged with the effort of ordering his thoughts. He gulped and began, “It was the teabags, you see. I didn’t know it but they were telling me—well they were omenising me—and it wasn’t until Nina—she’s my intended—except at the time she wasn’t because I hadn’t realised what the teabags were saying—well, I did but I didn’t believe them. And when she told me, well I wasn’t sure but then we saw the stag although of course, it wasn’t. It was you. And apparently, that’s also an omen. But I don’t really like to ask, especially now with you being so slender. You see Nina and Wendy are slightly large. No, I lie. They’re both normal-sized large and you might not be able to move them and a carriage and now Nina’s asked her sister, so that’ll be three people—three large people—in the carriage—”
“Sit down, dear chap, you seem quite overwrought,” said Stanley producing a hip flask from nowhere, “a cup of rosehip tea,” he said unscrewing the top and handing it to Doggett, “is fortifying in a crisis and full of vitamin C. Take your time, my good chap.”
By the time Crispin had clarified Doggett’s request and explained about the teabags, Doggett had drained the hip flask and Stanley had agreed to pull the wedding carriage.
“I’m stronger than I look, old chap, and one couldn’t stand in the way of an omen, could one?”
Doggett gratefully agreed that one couldn’t, and then invited Stanley to the reception and the stag night.
“So, when can I take sight of the wedding carriage?” asked Stanley.
“Well,” said Doggett, “I’ll let you know when we’ve built one…”
“So, the carriage doesn’t actually exist?” asked Crispin with an air of foreboding, as they walked back to Nina’s Toadstool.
“Only in Nina’s imagination,” admitted Doggett.
“What are you going to do?”
“Build it, of course.”
“Out of what?”
“No idea. I’ll ask Nina.”
“Suppose she says pumpkin or crystal or something impossible?”
“Well, we’ll just have to worry about that if it happens—”
“We? You mean as in you and me?”
“Well, you know how dreadful I am at making things…”
“What makes you think I’m any better?”
“Look at all those lovely things you made at Christmas…”
“But they were all knitted. I can’t knit a carriage,” said Crispin with a laugh.
“Why not? I bet you could if you tried…”
“No,” said Crispin, “definitely not. I vowed I’d never pick up another pair of knitting needles after staying up all night making balaclavas for Peggy and her Boys.
“But how are we going to make Nina a carriage?”
“I don’t know,” said Crispin “but knitting isn’t an option—”
“Knitting isn’t an option for what?” asked Nina, appearing from nowhere.
“Don’t you ‘Nothing, dear’ me, Doggett! What is knitting not an option for?”
“A carriage!” she said rapturously, clasping her sausage fingers together, “Oh, yes, yes! I can see it now—”
“No!” squeaked Crispin, “No, really…”
“Tea,” said Nina, “what we need is a nice cup of tea.”
Crispin knew what was coming and if he had dared, he’d have groaned.
“I knew it,” said Nina, pointing to the dripping teabag she was holding up, “Look just there, it’s a unicorn and it’s pulling a beautiful, knitted carriage…”
Crispin knew there was no point challenging the omen in the teabag. His time would be better spent looking for his needles and a knitting pattern.
The unicorn-drawn, knitted carriage had captured everyone’s imagination and there had been no end of offers of help. Bartrum had given Doggett four large wheels and Klaus had some lengths of wood, out of which he was making a frame. The design bore more than a passing resemblance to a Wild West covered wagon that might have been more at home on a prairie. However, in this instance, the wooden base would be draped in knitted panels as well as the hooped struts. Jubbly had said that if Nina was certain she didn’t want him as a bridesmaid, he’d be happy to dress up in livery and drive the coach. Although he made it clear he’d be willing to assume the duties of bridesmaid at short notice should Nina change her mind. But the bride-to-be expressed her preference to have Jubbly in livery rather than in pink satin. Little did she know that Jubbly’s idea of livery actually involved pink satin.
Nina ordered enough white wool to knit a cavalcade of carriages and checked daily to see whether it had arrived. Crispin was beginning to panic. Not only was he running out of time but each day that he delayed starting the project, meant the teabags came up with something else he needed to include. Finally, one morning, the knock on Crispin’s door wasn’t Nina, it was the delivery Pixie.
“Parcel for Crispin…”
“Thank you, that’s me.”
“Fifty balls of tartan wool,” the Pixie read off the list on his clipboard, “sign ‘ere.”
“What?” screeched Crispin, “Tartan?” He pressed his palms to his temples, “I ordered white!”
“All right, keep yer wig on, it was just my little joke. Lighten up, will yer. You’ve ‘eard of jokes, ‘ave you? Let me explain, it’s a joke because there’s no such thing as tartan wool. Mind you, there should be. I reckon there’s a market for it. Any old how, your wool’s all ‘ere, present and correct. Sign ‘ere. Fifty balls of brown wool.”
“Heh, heh!” he added as he sauntered down the path.
“Please don’t be brown,” Crispin muttered as he tore at the packaging.
The wool was white. Crispin nearly collapsed with relief.
He put a chair in his garden. It was going to be a long process and he might as well enjoy the sunshine while he knitted.
“What’re you doing?” asked Sylvester when he arrived home.
“Knitting.” Crispin’s needles were clacking together furiously, and he yanked at the ball of wool.
“Can I do some?”
Crispin knew better than to refuse. It would be faster if he cast on a few stitches and showed him what to do. He was certain that within minutes, Sylvester would lose interest and he could carry on without interruption.
But surprisingly, Sylvester wasn’t too bad at knitting and since the strip he was making was fairly narrow, it grew quite quickly.
“What’re you doing?” Wilmslow was peering over the garden gate at Crispin and Sylvester.
“Can I do some?”
Crispin sighed. He cast on a few stitches and Sylvester showed him how to knit.
“Hey, Wilmslow, what’re you doing?” It was Euclid.
“Can I do some…?”
By mid-afternoon, Crispin’s garden was filled with the click-clack of knitting needles, the occasional swear word, requests for more wool and dozens of faces with determined expressions and tongues poking out.
Doggett had tried to join in but Crispin had begged him to stop when it became clear that despite his eagerness to help, sparks kept leaping from his hands and igniting the wool.
“I can wear gloves…”
Crispin was adamant and eventually, Doggett had been persuaded to keep well away from the wool.
“Go and check Klaus’ wooden frame,” Crispin suggested, “but don’t touch it—please.”
Doggett had returned later with trays of drinks and plates piled high with sandwiches for the knitters and reported that Klaus had finished the carriage frame, “It’s going to be amazing,” he said happily.
“Amazing” wasn’t the word Crispin would have used but his mental search for a more appropriate word, such as ‘disastrous’ or ‘woeful’ was interrupted by one of the knitters.
“’Ere! Mind where you’re treading!” said Frank Fowle.
“What on earth are you doing, Euclid?” Crispin asked.
“Yeah, ‘e’s skipping all over my feet,” said Frank, jabbing at Euclid with a knitting needle.
“D’you think it might be better to put the knitting down if you want to skip. Or even better, stop skipping?” suggested Crispin.
“Will it still work if I’m not holding it?” asked Euclid.
“Will what work?” Crispin put his knitting down and moved between Frank and the skipping Euclid. Frank’s hands were bunched menacingly.
“The knitting pattern,” said Euclid, “says ‘skip’ but the knitting’s not getting any longer.”
Crispin picked up the pattern and scanned the instructions.
“There,” said Euclid, pointing to the page.
“Ah, I see. It actually says ‘skp’, not ‘skip’, that means slip, knit, pass slipped stitch over…”
Euclid looked horrified.
“Can’t I just carry on skipping?”
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
Chapter 14 – Bellarella - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/08/the-crispin-chronicles-14-bellarella.html
Chapter 15 – The Stag Omen - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/09/the-crispin-chronicles-15-stag-omen.html