by Dawn Knox
tea made with a teabag.
Previously: Nina’s wedding has been foreseen in the teabags… but the teabags have more to say… oh, so much more…
Crispin was dreaming about teabags. They’d been making all sorts of improbable demands for the wedding and now, they were dancing around the maypole, with Nina, her mother and her grandmother, while Crispin was trying to escape from the treacle pit, into which he was rapidly sinking.
“Are you all right?” It was Sylvester, banging on Crispin’s bedroom door. “You keep screaming.”
Crispin sat up, he was covered in sweat but thoroughly relieved to have escaped the teabags, the treacle and three generations of Nina’s family.
“Yes, I’m fine… It was just a nightmare, sorry to have woken you.”
Crispin could hear Sylvester grumbling that sunrise was a thoroughly uncivilised time of day, as he shuffled back to bed. The subject of sunrise had come up quite often since Nina had informed everyone that the wedding, which was to take place in three days’ time, would begin at dawn and the celebrations were set to go on well into the night, as decreed by the teabags. This would allow the bride and groom time to enjoy every hour of the longest day of the year.
And it was probably just as well because if the teabags suggested many more things, they’d need several days to get through them all. As Best Elf, it was Crispin’s job to see that everything the teabags wanted, Nina got. And now that Nina’s mother and grandmother had arrived, the list of essential items for the wedding was growing exponentially. Nina’s mother, Queenie, was insistent that her daughter should have a day to remember. Well, thought Crispin, if Nina doesn’t remember her day, he definitely would. It would be imprinted on his memory.
Crispin sat up in bed. He was too afraid to go back to sleep although he had to admit, real life was just as fraught as his nightmares at the moment. The more so, since Nina’s mum and gran had arrived.
“They look like Russian dolls,” Sylvester had observed.
“Shh!” Crispin had elbowed him in the ribs. He could tell it wouldn’t do to upset Queenie. She shared that same dogged determination with her daughter. And combined with the obsessive ‘mother of the bride’ viewpoint, she would be formidable indeed. Not that Granny was any less scary, with her gimlet eyes and rather startling set of dentures that seemed to have a life of their own.
But Crispin had to admit that Nina, Queenie and Granny did look just like Russian dolls—dumpy, brightly dressed women in three distinct sizes. And it didn’t take much imagination to visualise a ‘Granny’ doll nesting inside a ‘Queenie’ doll, inside a ‘Nina’ doll.
Crispin wondered if Doggett and Nina were planning to have children. If the next generation grew large enough to contain all the other dolls… Crispin tried—and failed—to imagine the size of Nina’s offspring.
“D’you think the women in Nina’s family start out as giants and then shrink as they get older?” Sylvester asked.
But when Lulu, Nina’s younger sister arrived a few hours later, she disproved Sylvester’s theory by being slightly smaller and slimmer than Nina although very, very much louder. And that wouldn’t have been so bad, thought Crispin, if she hadn’t taken an immediate shine to him and followed him around for the rest of the day, assaulting his eardrums with her thunderous voice and shrill laughter.
“As the Chief Bridesmaid, I expect to spend a lot of time with the Best Elf,” she’d told Crispin and batted her eyelashes. His heart had sunk. Not only would he have to put up with her noise, but he also knew there would be trouble when Wendy learned that Lulu had appointed herself Chief Bridesmaid.
There was still an hour to sunrise but Crispin decided to get up. He wasn’t going to get back to sleep now and he might as well take advantage of the quiet while the rest of the Garden slept to go over his pre-wedding list. It had been his fault that it had grown so long, so rapidly. In an attempt to limit Nina’s suggestions, he’d recommended she consult a wedding website, expecting her to select one of the ideas on how to organise the perfect day. But a consultation with the teabags had resulted in all the ideas from the website being on her wish list. And then Queenie had arrived… He sighed and flicked through the many pages of what had started out as Nina’s Wish List but had evolved into Queenie’s Demand List.
Crispin ran his finger down the items on the first page. He ticked off the unicorn-drawn wedding carriage that was now beautifully decorated with knitted panels and awning. Tick.
Wedding buffet. Frank Fowle had agreed to cook a hog roast at the reception. Nina had wanted a sophisticated sit-down meal, just like Bartrum’s dinner party but Crispin had tried to persuade her otherwise, explaining that Frank had merely heated and served the meal the French Chef had made and that his culinary skills were definitely not up to a stylish three-course dinner. Crispin’s advice fell on deaf ears and Nina had asked Frank anyway.
“I can do you burgers in buns,” he’d offered helpfully “but I don’t know what half them things were we had at that meal. And I’ve no idea where you can buy lobster beaks.” Nina had finally been persuaded that hog roasts were in fact, the height of fashion. Tick.
Aeroplane flypast. Well, that was completely out of the question. Large cross.
Everlasting flame. Nina wanted an archer to shoot a burning arrow into an enormous container of inflammable stuff. But Crispin was certain Bartrum would have something to say about that, if indeed they could find an archer brave enough—or stupid enough, to try. Crispin was going to have his work cut out preventing Doggett from starting fires. It had been a dry spring and when he got excited, he produced more sparks than usual. Large cross and note to himself to ensure fire blankets and buckets of water were available in case Doggett ignited something.
Three-tier wedding cake. Mrs Bartrum had made a magnificent creation covered in millions of hundreds and thousands. Sylvester had told him that Wilmslow had found them in the kitchen of Her Ladyship’s house, but Crispin didn’t believe it. Garden Ornaments didn’t just wander into the Old Priory’s kitchen willy nilly and Wilmslow’s story was much too far-fetched, involving ladders, drawers, jam tarts and a broom-waving cook. Anyway, however Mrs Bartrum had acquired the jar of hundreds and thousands, the cake was now finished and more importantly; Nina thought it was breathtaking. Large tick.
Flowers. Wendy was in charge of flowers and would start to arrange the bouquets and buttonholes the day before the wedding, so there was nothing Crispin could do but trust that Wendy would get it right. Small Tick.
“I’ve found a photographer, so you can cross it off the list,” Doggett had said a few days ago.
“Who’ve you got?” asked Crispin who’d been having trouble finding anyone.
“You remember that delivery Pixie who brought Nina’s wool? Well, he told me his brother knows his way around a camera.”
Alarm bells rang in Crispin’s head.
“Are you sure that delivery Pixie is trustworthy? Have you seen any of his brother’s photos?” Crispin had asked anxiously, well aware that if anything went wrong, Nina would blame him.
“He’s got a camera and he’s not doing anything on the day. What could possibly go wrong?”
Crispin was tempted to buy a camera and take a crash course in photography, just in case. But there was no time. He’d just have to trust that Spanners, the delivery Pixie’s brother, did actually know his way around a camera and more importantly, could take photos with it. Small tick.
White doves. A white owl to deliver the wedding rings in its beak. McTavish had booked doves and an owl from a friend of his who ran a bird agency and they were due to arrive the night before the wedding so they could rehearse. Tick.
Candyfloss machine. Wendy said she could probably make something similar to candyfloss although she hadn’t been specific and Crispin couldn’t think of anything similar to candyfloss, except cotton wool. Question Mark and note to ask Wendy exactly what she was going to make.
A circus with a big top. Large cross.
An ice rink. Very large cross.
Maypole. This had proved rather difficult but eventually, a maypole had been found and erected in a clearing in the woods. Large tick.
Pre-wedding dancing lessons for all Garden Ornaments who didn’t know how to dance around a maypole. This had puzzled Crispin who assumed it was just a question of grabbing a ribbon and skipping round and round the maypole until the ribbon was so short you had to stop, then you reversed direction and unwound. Nina and Wendy assured him this was not the case and that it might be best to be on the safe side and make pre-wedding dancing lessons compulsory. Crispin had asked if any of the Garden Ornaments knew how to dance around a maypole and if they’d be willing to teach everyone else. Thankfully, several of the Fairies who live at the end of the Garden agreed to instruct all those whose education was lacking in the finer arts of country dancing. There would be a lesson for everyone after breakfast and Nina had a list of all Garden Ornaments in case anyone should forget to turn up or should be misguided enough to believe that what they’d planned to do was more important than dancing correctly at her wedding. Nothing and no one would be allowed to jeopardise the smooth running of the maypole dancing. Tick.
Flash mob. Thankfully, the Fairies had loved the idea of a singing, dancing ‘spontaneous’ performance and had assured Crispin they would organise the most exciting flash mob the Garden had ever seen. As he’d never seen a flash mob and wasn’t quite sure what one was, he was more than happy to leave it to them. Tick.
Photo booth. The delivery Pixie said that his brother, Spanners, would bring a photo booth with him but Crispin was reluctant to place a tick next to the item. He wasn’t sure that Spanners would turn up at all. Question mark.
Skydiving display. No, definitely not. Very large cross.
Masked ball. Jubbly had been very pleased to be asked to organise this, so it was one less thing that Crispin had to worry about. Large tick.
Jousting tournament. Crispin wasn’t sure what jousting was and wondered whether it would be something that Jubbly would be interested in organising. Jubbly had said definitely not because he was afraid of horses and he didn’t hold with people whacking each other with large sticks. That had been enough for Crispin. Two large crosses.
By the time Crispin had got to the end of the list, the sun had risen and Sylvester had come into the kitchen yawning.
“You’d better have some breakfast,” said Crispin, “we’ve got dancing lessons shortly.”
Sylvester was still grumbling after two bowls of porridge and four slices of toast.
“You’re going to be sick. That’ll really give you something to moan about,” said Crispin removing the toaster before Sylvester could insert any more slices of bread.
Crispin was pleased to see every single Garden Ornament on Nina’s list had arrived at the maypole in the clearing five minutes before the lesson was due to begin. From Bartrum to the Hermit—from Stanley, with four legs, to Arnold the Snail, with none. And each one had been ticked off the list. Sylvester continued to complain under his breath and Queenie had told him that if he didn’t turn his frown upside down, she’d turn him upside down, because nothing and no one were going to ruin her little girl’s wedding, especially a sulky Elf.
The Fairies were the last to arrive and Crispin stepped forward to suggest that if they needed a few more minutes to get dressed, he was sure everyone wouldn’t mind waiting. He added he was worried about them catching a chill, dressed only in their underwear. Sylvester’s frown was now definitely upside down, his jaw had dropped and his eyes were bulging. Doggett was blushing and a salvo of sparks fired into the air from his skin. Nina glowered, looking from scantily-clad Fairies to her incandescent intended, who was now gently smoking.
“Music!” shouted one of the Fairies as she jumped up onto a small rock, so everyone could see the demonstration.
The grass around Doggett’s feet began to smoulder.
“Right,” said the Fairy, “we’ll start with some warm-up exercises. Firstly, we’ll touch our toes…”
She bent double and placed her palms on the rock.
“I had no idea skipping around a maypole could be so painful,” Sylvester whispered to Crispin as he bent forward and grabbed the pointy end of his boots.
There was a lot of grunting and wheezing as arms reached down to feet. A few Garden Ornaments managed to get close but most were struggling to touch their knees.
“The trouble… is… my arms aren’t… long enough…” grunted Bartrum.
“If he had arms long enough to go over his stomach and reach his toes, his knuckles would scrape the ground when he stood up,” whispered Sylvester.
“Shh!” said Crispin and elbowed him.
“Stop the silliness at the back,” bellowed the Fairy as Sylvester toppled into the Gnome next to him and the domino effect flattened the rest of the row.
“I think that’s enough warming up,” said the Fairy when everyone had picked themselves up and Wendy had stopped giggling.
“Right, I’ll demonstrate on the pole and then you can each have a go,” said the Fairy.
“Well, that was much more fun than I’d expected,” said Sylvester as he and Crispin went back to the Toadstool, “Apart from the bruises when you pushed me over, of course. It’s a shame Nina stopped the lesson so soon.”
“Mm,” muttered Crispin. He knew he was in trouble, not only for causing the domino falling fracas but also for booking the Fairies to give a pole dancing lesson. Well, how was he to know that dancing with a pole could come in so many diverse forms, one of which was absolutely not the sort that was usually performed around a maypole and especially not at a wedding?
“I wish you hadn’t offered to give the pole-dancing Fairy the kiss of life,” said Crispin.
“I was only trying to help and how was I to know everyone would push me out the way to get to her first?”
“But she hadn’t fallen at that point. She didn’t need the kiss of life, although by that time, it looked like Doggett did. He’d been quite overcome by smoke. If you’d left the Fairy alone, she’d have been fine.”
“Well, I’ve never seen anyone upside down, halfway up a pole before. She wasn’t wearing a safety harness.”
“She wasn’t wearing much of anything,” said Crispin gloomily.
“I was only trying to do the decent thing,” said Sylvester.
“If you’d been trying to do the decent thing, you’d have looked away.”
“What! And have missed all the fun!”
“You didn’t find it much fun when Granny grabbed you.”
“No, that’s true. She’s really scary when she gets cross.”
“Lucky for you she only told you off. The way her teeth were snapping, I thought she was going to eat you—well, until they fell out anyway. I hope they turn up before the big day or the wedding photos are going to be ghastly. That is if Spanners turns up to take any.”
When Crispin arrived home, he made himself a large cup of tea to calm his nerves. As he ran his finger down the list, a dreadful thought occurred to him. The Fairies were going to organise the flash mob and if it was as X-rated as their maypole dancing, Doggett might spontaneously combust. And as for Nina… Crispin groaned. In three days’ time, it would be the longest day of the year and the longest day of his life. If indeed, he survived until then. Queenie had asked for a wedding update this afternoon to find out how many ticks were on the list. Crispin feared there were going to be far too many crosses for her liking.
“What’s for lunch, Crispin?” asked Sylvester.
“Lunch. I’m starving. What’ve we got?”
“Whatever you can find. I haven’t got time for lunch.”
“I shall be glad when this wedding is over,” grumbled Sylvester.
“If I live that long, so shall I…”
Sylvester opened the larder, slid tins across the shelves and restacked them in towering heaps.
“Have we got any baked beans? I fancy beans on toast. We must have beans somewhere…”
“You’re searching in what was the fruit section,” said Crispin “but it looks like you’ve done a good job of muddling all the tins up, so the beans could be anywhere.”
A large pile of tins toppled onto the floor.
“Sylvester, please! I can’t concentrate if you make so much noise.”
“Well, I’ll stop if you’ll find the beans for me. What’re you doing anyway? P’raps I can help you, then you can make lunch.”
Crispin groaned. He didn’t have time to stop, on the other hand, he couldn’t concentrate while Sylvester was disturbing him.
“I’m making a timetable from the items on the list so everyone will know where they’re supposed to be at any given time. The only trouble is, there aren’t enough hours in a day—even the longest day of the year—if everything is done according to Queenie’s instructions. People need to be in two places at one time. It’s just impossible.”
“You need a break,” said Sylvester looking over Crispin’s shoulder at the list, “make yourself some beans on toast and have a rest. You’ll think faster if you have something to eat. Beans are brain food.”
“You’re thinking of fish,” said Crispin.
“Beans are the vegetarian brain food option.”
Sylvester’s probably right, thought Crispin, I ought to eat something and a short break might do me good.
“Can I have four slices, please?” asked Sylvester.
Crispin rummaged in the larder.
“I knew exactly where everything was before you messed up my storage system. You’re banned from all kitchen cupboards in future.”
“Oh dear,” said Sylvester without much feeling.
Crispin reorganised the tins in the larder, stacking them neatly by type and in date order. How was he so easily manipulated? If he survived the wedding, there were going to be changes in his life. He was fed up being everybody’s doormat.
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
Chapter 17 – A Wild Stag Night - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/09/the-crispin-chronicles-17-wild-stag.html