by Dawn Knox
tea and a giant chocolate muffin
Previously: The teabags have decreed Doggett is going to get married, so there must be a stag night…
The following morning, Crispin checked his drawings of the wedding carriage and laid all the pieces of knitting that had been completed the previous day, on the living room floor, making a note of what still needed to be done. There was a depressingly large number of panels still to be knitted. Despite the lack of knitting experience, yesterday’s helpers had done remarkably well. A few pieces were so full of dropped stitches they’d have to be re-knitted and Frank Fowles’ piece of knitting was grimy and needed a good wash but the rest was satisfactory. Crispin was concentrating so hard on how to tackle the remainder of the task, he didn’t hear Sylvester come into the living room, eating a bowl of cereal.
“Come on, Crispin. You’ll be late.”
“Bartrum’s called a meeting. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten.”
“Oh no!” Crispin turned back to the woollen pieces on the floor, “It’ll never be ready in time,” he wailed.
Doggett was waiting for them outside the Toadstool.
“Only seven more sleeps ‘til the big day,” he said, “and you know what today is?”
“Bartrum’s meeting,” said Crispin gloomily.
“And…?” asked Doggett.
“Is it your birthday?”
“No! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten! It’s my stag night. You’re my best Elf,” he said to Crispin anxiously. "You’re supposed to have organised a really memorable night. You have, haven’t you?”
“Oh yes!” said Crispin with his fingers crossed behind his back. “Yes, a really memorable night.” He wondered how furious Nina would be if her carriage wasn’t quite finished. Missing Bartrum’s meeting definitely wasn’t an option. And as Doggett’s best Elf, he was responsible for organising a night of mayhem and madness. There was nothing for it, he’d just have to knit all night—every night for seven more sleeps—or in his case, seven more lack-of-sleeps.
“Are you all right, Crispin? You’re looking really pale,” said Sylvester.
“Of course, I’m pale; I’m a white Marble Elf!” Crispin snapped.
“All right, there’s no need to get snippy…”
I will not panic, I will not… thought Crispin, as his knees gave way.
Doggett and Sylvester hauled Crispin to his feet and helped him to the meeting.
“D’you think he’s taken on too much?” Doggett whispered to Sylvester.
“He’s panicking the knitting might not be done in time. But don’t worry, lots of people are coming over today to help. I’ll have a word with Jubbly and see if he can sort out the stag night. Would you be very upset if you had a Mexican do?” asked Sylvester, who’d already spotted the top of a sombrero poking up above the sea of heads and guessed Jubbly’s persona for the day.
“A Mexican stag night would be just perfect, amigo!”
There was something about being in his garden that always soothed Crispin and the fact that he was surrounded by a crowd of volunteers, was cheering him up no end. He was particularly grateful to see that yesterday’s knitters had returned with friends and were enthusiastically showing them what to do. And he was extremely relieved to see that Euclid wasn’t amongst them. The skipping fiasco had resulted in so many dropped stitches in the young Gnome’s knitting that Crispin was thinking about using it anyway and passing it off as lace. But things had got rather heated whilst Euclid had been skipping. He’d tripped over Frank’s large, hairy feet and had dived headfirst into the Troll’s lap, knocking the knitting from his hands. There had been an instant of silence before someone shouted “Uh oh! Duck everyone! The Troll’s gonna blow!”
Crispin had grabbed Euclid from Frank’s lap, tucked him under one arm and raced to the garden gate. He’d put him down, thanked him for his time and suggested he skip home before Frank had managed to extricate himself from the wool and struggle to his feet. Doggett had rushed forward and pressed a cup of tea in the Troll’s enormous hand and Nina had appeared from nowhere with a chocolate muffin of such proportions that Frank had immediately forgotten about his grievance with the skipping Euclid.
Difficult incident averted.
And all was peaceful now. Well, not exactly peaceful, with so many voices chattering, and twice as many needles clacking together at various speeds, but at least all was harmonious. And the pile of knitted panels was growing.
Crispin checked his watch. He’d have to stop knitting soon and try to arrange something for Doggett’s stag night.
If only he knew what.
He checked his watch again. Yes, he’d have to stop soon.
But not just yet.
There was a limit to what a Gnome could do on his own, even if he was a party organiser extraordinaire. Jubbly hadn’t expected the stag night arrangements to be so difficult. He had music, drink and party poppers, as well as ideas to make such a celebration go with a swing. He’d even acquired a lamp post and the handcuffs with which they’d secure Doggett to it—once they’d relieved him of his trousers—since his research had shown that this was obligatory. However, he’d expected people to give him a hand. It had been Sylvester who’d asked Jubbly to arrange the party at short notice and it would have been nice if he’d helped. It was very disappointing. He’d put up some of the lights in the Gazebo but if he was going to be ready in time, he needed assistance.
As he made his way to Crispin’s Toadstool, in search of Sylvester, it occurred to him he hadn’t passed anyone since he’d left the Gazebo except that strange, young Gnome, Euclid, who appeared to be hopping up and down. As he approached Crispin’s Toadstool, he could hear voices—lots of voices, just like the sort of chatter and laughter found at a party. Jubbly started to run. Had he got the venue wrong?
“What’s going on?” he demanded, trying to catch his breath.
Almost everyone who lived in the Garden, was now in Crispin’s garden—knitting.
“We’re just doing some last-minute stuff for the wedding carriage before the stag do,” explained Sylvester.
“Listen up, everybody,” Jubbly shouted above the hubbub, “the stag party starts in half an hour and I need a few volunteers to help me put up the rest of the lights…”
While he waited for several people to finish their rows, he picked up a pair of needles and started knitting. Half an hour later, he realised that people had finished the particular row that had been so important, and many more besides, but they were still reluctant to leave their woolly pieces. Strangely, the pressing need to party had waned in Jubbly’s mind as he was lulled by the tapping of needles and the cheery chatter.
It wasn’t until Crispin passed around lanterns so that people could carry on in the failing light, that Jubbly remembered what he’d come for.
“C’mon people,” he begged, “there’s a party going on in the Gazebo, or there will be, as soon as someone arrives.”
More people expressed the need to ‘just finish this row,’ before they could possibly consider a party and Jubbly sat down again. He’d been a bit worried that he wouldn’t be able to remember where he was in the knitting pattern and he could understand their concerns.
“Did you have a lovely time, dear?” asked Nina when Doggett finally got home in the early hours, “How did you get your trousers back?”
“Hmm?” asked Doggett, who was too tired to reply.
“And how did you get out of the handcuffs?”
“Hmm,” said Doggett as he curled up in bed and thought back over the evening. Miraculously, all the pieces of the knitting were finished and Crispin had promised that the carriage would be ready by the end of the following day—well, actually, today, since it was past midnight.
Very much past midnight.
“You certainly know how to hold a party, old thing!” said Stanley when he bumped into Jubbly much later that day.
“Oh well, you know how it is…” said Jubbly bashfully, “I’ve had a lot of practice, over the years.”
“I must admit, I thought the decoy lamp post was simply genius, dear boy! Simply genius!
“Probably best we keep what really happened to ourselves,” said Jubbly, tapping the side of his nose, “the bride-to-be might be a bit… er, put out, if she knew what actually happened, you know how women are…”
“Mum’s the word, dear boy.”
Yes, it’s best we keep it to ourselves, thought Jubbly as he made his way home. Nina might not be too happy to know her intended hadn’t spent a night of riotous merrymaking to celebrate his final days of bachelorhood, as was customary. The stag night had not taken place at the Gazebo as she’d assumed, neither had it involved large quantities of alcohol or dubious jokes. And unless someone told her, she would never suspect it had involved copious cups of tea, plates and plates of biscuits and plenty of knitting.
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
Chapter 16 – The Wedding Carriage - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/09/the-crispin-chronicles-16-wedding.html