by Dawn Knox
Previously: One more sleep before the Wedding of the Century and Crispin is almost at the end of his tether…
One More Sleep
Sylvester upended a bowl of cornflakes over the sleeping Crispin. “Well, thank goodness that woke you up at last,” he said picking a rather large cornflake off Crispin’s shoulder and popping it in his mouth, “Don’t scowl at me like that, you ought to be thanking me for waking you. I’ve looked at your diary for today and you’re already behind.”
Reality suddenly caught up with Crispin and he dashed for the shower. As well as removing all traces of the milk and cornflakes Sylvester had tipped over him, the water jets cleared Crispin’s head and he began to remember all the things which hadn’t been done yesterday and that would now join the extensive list of things to be done today.
Sylvester hovered uncertainly as Crispin grabbed a piece of dry toast for breakfast. He obviously felt rather guilty about his messy wake-up call but didn’t know how to make amends.
“Wendy and Lulu delivered the rest of the programmes yesterday after they brought you home,” he said helpfully. “And Wendy said not to worry because she’d definitely find some flowers for the bouquet today, so you weren’t to panic and Lulu said she’d be over this morning to help you with everything else…”
“What!” shrieked Crispin, leaping up, “So she could be here any minute?”
Crispin hopped down the garden path pulling on a boot. He stopped at the gate and inspected the boot he was trying to put on.
“Sylvester!” he yelled as he hopped back up the path, “Where’s my other boot?”
Sylvester stood at the door with Crispin’s boot, his wedding list, a colander in case he came under aerial attack by hostile insects, an umbrella in case it rained, a pack of mustard sandwiches and two pairs of bicycle clips. It seemed he’d applied a lot of thought to how he was going to make it up to Crispin for his earlier misdemeanour. And if he was lucky, Crispin wouldn’t insist he did the laundry this week too. He didn’t fancy picking cornflakes out of Crispin’s sheets.
He held one pair of bicycle clips and the boot out to Crispin. “I’ve got the tandem out,” Sylvester said as he fixed the other pair of clips round his legs and dropping the items in the wicker basket, he leapt onto the front saddle. “C’mon!” he said “Let’s go!” as Crispin held the gate open and jumped onto the rear saddle.
“Aargh!” yelled Crispin, as Sylvester sharply applied the brakes. “I’ve told you before not to brake so hard. I nearly sailed over your head. Why’ve you stopped?”
“I don’t know where you want to go first.”
“To the Fairies at the end of the Garden, by any path that doesn’t go near Nina’s Toadstool…”
“When I said ‘any path that doesn’t go near Nina’s” Toadstool’, I didn’t have that sort of route in mind,” said Crispin picking twigs out of his hair. “And promise me we won’t go home that way. We might not be so lucky freeing the tandem from that boggy patch a second time.”
“It’d be too hard to go home that way. It’s all uphill. I can’t imagine what that shopping trolley was doing there, though…”
“No. I don’t know how you missed it. Well done. It’d have made a nasty dent in the bike… or us.”
Sylvester glowed with pride. At least Crispin assumed he was glowing with pride. It was hard to tell with all the stinging nettle welts and dock leaf juice that streaked his face.
“Have you got any more of that dock leaf juice?” Sylvester asked.
From the perch, in what he thought of as the forest canopy, but was actually a bough in the apple tree in the woods, Boggy, the zealous Eco-Gnome was able to see through a gap in the trees into the Fairies’ clearing. It was fascinating viewing, with glimpses of tiny figures spontaneously bursting into song and dance. It was certainly different from the last time Boggy had been there in the middle of some terrible gangland battle. He looked back to the Fairies and wondered if he’d made a mistake and this was somewhere completely different. He knew it wasn’t though, because the last time he’d been here, he’d escaped with the clothes he stood up in and nothing more. Miraculously, the gang members hadn’t found the shopping trolley that he’d hidden in the undergrowth, nor the primus stove, hot water bottle or sleeping bag that were still in the tree. The Garden might seem very different but it was definitely the same place. He’d had to evict a small, black cat with a pink ribbon around its neck from the sleeping bag and sustained several puncture wounds and a deep scratch for his troubles but otherwise, everything else was as he’d left it.
After his previous experiences in this Garden, he began to wonder at the wisdom of returning but he hadn’t had much luck spreading his message elsewhere and he had nothing to lose and everything to gain—especially if he saved the world.
He’d just made the bough as comfortable as he could and was planning his campaign when he heard a commotion from below. Someone was screaming “Stop! Stop!” and another voice, equally loud and panic-stricken was yelling “How? How?”
Boggy watched two figures on a tandem bicycle hurtle into the clearing beneath his apple tree. Their mud-covered legs were held out sideways, away from the pedals which were spinning so fast, they were a mere blur.
“Aargh!” they both yelled, as their course took them through the middle of a large patch of stinging nettles which Boggy thought might have slowed them down, but there was no appreciable decrease in speed as the bicycle raced towards the shopping trolley parked under the apple tree. The rear passenger spotted the obstacle first and clutched at the driver in panic.
During his solitary Eco-Gnome nights in trees, Boggy had often wondered whether sound bent around corners and now he saw, or rather heard, the phenomenon first hand.
The driver’s words, “Hold tight!” came at him head-on, then as the handlebars were swung to the left, “Hold tight!” seemed to hit him sideways, finally tailing off as the sound caught up with itself.
Boggy watched in fascination as the fearless riders ground to a halt some way off and leapt from their saddles. They grabbed handfuls of leaves and rubbed them over their faces and arms.
Camouflage! thought Boggy with a thrill of excitement. This was indeed the cutting edge of Eco-warfare. He could learn a lot from experts such as these.
“Madam, will you please stop screaming!” Crispin said. His eardrums were rather fragile since the previous day which had been spent with Lulu.
The Fairy stopped shrieking and peered at the two muddy, twiggy, puffy-faced Elves.
Crispin took the checklist from the bicycle’s wicker basket and turned to the relevant page.
“What’re you doing?” asked the Fairy suspiciously.
“I’m just checking the flash mob is under control.”
“Of course, it’s under control. We’ve been rehearsing for weeks. What’s it to you?”
“I’m the Best Elf and I need to make sure everything’s going to be perfect tomorrow.”
“Well of course it’s going to be perfect tomorrow. We don’t need you poking your nose in.”
“All right!” said Sylvester, “he’s only doing his job. Don’t give him such a hard time.”
The Fairy peered at Sylvester.
“Hah!” she said triumphantly, “I thought you looked familiar. Don’t think all that green stuff on your face will stop me recognising you! You were the one who caused all that fuss at the pole dancing lesson.”
“It wasn’t my fault. I was only trying to help…”
“Help like yours, we can do without.”
“Well, anyway, Madam,” said Crispin politely, “if I can just check on the costumes for tomorrow…”
“Hah! So that’s your game!”
“What game?” asked Crispin, “there’s no game. I just need to check the costumes.”
“I’m not letting you anywhere near my girls.”
“But I need to know they’ll be dressed appropriately.”
“So you say! Now, be off with you!” The irate Fairy seized the umbrella from the wicker basket and started menacing the Elves.
“Well, we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed the Fairies are dressed, I suppose,” said Crispin as he and Sylvester rode off.
“Where now?” Sylvester called over his shoulder.
“To the Gazebo. I need to check Spanners has delivered the photo booth.”
To Crispin’s surprise, not only was Spanners at the Gazebo with his camera but he’d also brought the photo booth as promised.
“You’re here,” said Crispin in wonder.
“Yes, weren’t you expecting me?”
“No, err, yes…” said Crispin, “that is yes but, well, no…”
“Rightio,” said Spanners, “if it’s okay, I’m going to have a chat with the bride and groom and make sure I cover the whole event as they’d like. Is that okay?”
“Oh yes!” said Crispin, “Yes, please.”
“Now, I just need the plug socket so I can test out the photo booth and then I’ll go and find the lucky couple.”
Spanners held up the plug from the photo booth. “Yes, I’ll just plug it in and make sure everything’s working.”
“Aaargh!” said Crispin.
“I think what he’s trying to say, is that we don’t have a plug socket outside the Gazebo,” said Sylvester.
“Well, we have two options,” said Spanners, “either we move the photo booth or we set up the cycle generator.”
“Cycle generator?” asked Crispin.
“We can generate enough electricity to run the photo booth,” said Spanners.
“We?” asked Crispin.
“You just need a volunteer to cycle while the photo booth is in operation,” said Spanners.
“Sylvester?” asked Crispin.
“No way, I’ve had enough cycling for one day. I’ve got so many bruises on my shins from those pedals I’ll be lucky if I can still walk by tomorrow.”
“Well, can you think of anyone who might be willing?”
“No one’s going to want to spend their time cycling rather than enjoying themselves at the wedding,” said Crispin, “I suppose I’ll have to do it myself.”
“Hmm,” said Sylvester thoughtfully, “not necessarily. Just leave it to me. Now, where’re we off to next?”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” said Crispin, checking his watch again, “where is everybody? And suppose the Bird-Gnome doesn’t come? What if McTavish ordered the wrong birds?”
“Stop panicking,” said Sylvester, “we’re half an hour early.”
Crispin paced up and down the Sunken Garden. He’d positioned the lectern from which Bartrum would conduct the ceremony and he’d set out the chairs for the guests. A large area had been strewn with rose petals ready for the bride and groom. Nina was afraid that if Doggett got too excited, he might set fire to a chair so it was agreed the couple would remain standing. Several buckets of water and several fire blankets were at hand in case, despite his best efforts, the groom went up in flames or set fire to Nina’s dress.
Crispin moved the lectern slightly to the left, then moved it back to its original position.
“It’s all perfect,” said Sylvester, “stop fiddling with things.”
“Don’t sit there!” screeched Crispin as Sylvester started to sink onto one of the chairs in the front row, “You’re filthy.”
Sylvester leapt to attention. “Don’t shout! And anyway, you’re just as dirty, so stop touching things.”
Crispin looked down at his muddy legs and groaned. “D’you think we’ve got time to go home and shower?”
Before Sylvester could reply, Lulu appeared.
“Oh, you poor darling!” She rushed at Crispin and hugged him tightly, “What happened? You look dreadful!”
“Mwmff,” said Crispin.
“Lulu! Put him down, he’s filthy,” shouted Queenie, “I hope you’re not planning to turn up tomorrow looking like that!” she added, wagging her finger at the Elves.
Crispin sucked air into his crushed lungs, grateful that he hadn’t had time to shower and change. At least now he was off-limits to Lulu—until tomorrow, anyway. But first, he had to survive the wedding rehearsal.
When Wendy arrived, she was rather vague about the bouquet and buttonholes although she assured Crispin he wasn’t to worry. “It will all be fine,” she said. Crispin decided to call by the Wendy House on his way home from the rehearsal to check. If he had to comb the Garden for flowers overnight, so be it. Better that, than the bride finding she had a daisy chain on her big day.
The Wooden Robin hadn’t been invited to the rehearsal but he turned up anyway. He didn’t have a role despite his best efforts to volunteer. In the end, to reward his persistence, Nina had said he could be the Wedding Robin although she hadn’t been specific about what this entailed. It had been enough for the Wooden Robin that he had a wedding job title and he hopped excitedly from foot to foot.
“If that wooden creature doesn’t stop tripping me up, I’m going to tread on him,” said Queenie grabbing the back of the chair to steady herself.
“Wooden Robin, I wonder if you could check the, umm, the wind chimes. Yes, the wedding wind chimes,” said Crispin, “It’s most important they err, chime. And perhaps while you’re there, you could check the, err, wind.”
The Wooden Robin hopped excitedly out of the Sunken Garden just as McTavish arrived with his friend, the Bird-Gnome, and two large cages—one full of doves and the other containing a single white owl.
Bartrum had been the last to arrive and had immediately taken over although Crispin could see Queenie and Granny were beginning to get rather cross at being ordered about. But Bartrum did seem to know what he was doing and the rehearsal was going well, with everyone in position and no one missing their cues.
Crispin laid a fire blanket on the ground for the bridal couple to stand on as Doggett was beginning to char the grass around his feet.
“Now,” said Bartrum, “we need to rehearse the giving of rings. Who has the rings?”
Everyone turned expectantly to Crispin.
“I haven’t got them” he spluttered, blood draining from his face.
Doggett patted his pockets. “I don’t think I’ve got them,” he said, “are you sure you haven’t got them, Crispin?”
“No! You haven’t given them to me yet.”
“Don’t panic everyone,” said Nina fishing in her handbag, “you don’t think I’d trust anyone with the rings, do you? And there’d be no point giving them to Doggett, he’d have short-circuited himself with two rings in his pocket.”
“Well, this is the part where the owl flies in with both rings in her beak, so Crispin, if you’d carry the rings to the yew tree and give them to the Bird-Gnome, we can proceed,” said Bartrum.
Crispin was happy to hand them over to the Bird-Gnome to place in the owl’s beak. He didn’t trust the bird. At first sight, it appeared to be asleep but when it blinked, Crispin was struck by the vicious look in its eyes.
Don’t be so fanciful, he told himself, it’s just a bird. It’s probably upset at being woken during the day.
He realised something was wrong as he walked back to Doggett and Nina. The owl was behind him but he could see the rest of the wedding party’s surprised expressions and hear the powerful flap of wings.
“Stop him!” cried Nina, “He’s got our rings!”
“It’s a her, not a him. And stop shouting, you’ll frighten her!” shouted the Bird-Gnome, “Come on girl, come back, look, I’ve got a lovely mouse for you… Mavis! Come back, Mavis!”
But with a single backwards glance, in which Crispin was convinced Mavis was grinning, she flew off.
Nina was screaming. Queenie and Granny were trying to console her and Doggett was showering the grass with sparks as he ran back and forth, looking upwards. The Sunken Garden was in uproar.
“Cwithpin! Do thomething!” screamed Wendy.
Everyone turned to look at him expectantly. He was the Best Elf and it was up to him to rescue the situation. But his mind had gone blank.
Sylvester sidled up to him and out of the corner of his mouth whispered “Use Pie Skology.”
“Like this,” Sylvester whispered. “Now, listen up everyone, Crispin has an important announcement,” he said loudly.
“I have?” asked Crispin in horror. Granny’s gimlet eyes bored into him.
“Yes, you have. You were going to say something like ‘Are we going to let a little thing like some missing rings spoil our wedding day?’ weren’t you?”
Crispin nodded. He wasn’t sure whether this particular Pie Skology might just backfire but he was completely out of ideas.
A few people looked at him uncertainly, a few shook their heads. “Yes?” suggested Doggett looking hesitantly at Nina.
“No!” said Sylvester, “Crispin says we are definitely not going to let the loss of some rings spoil the day. It’s going to be the very best day of all our lives!”
“Hear, hear!” said Bartrum, banging his gavel on the lectern.
“Who needs rings?” shouted Lulu.
“Well…” said Nina uncertainly.
“It’s going to be the best day of our lives, rings or no rings,” shouted Sylvester, “according to Crispin, anyway.”
“Three cheers for the Best Elf!” said Doggett.
Crispin wondered if he was going to faint.
Bartrum called an emergency meeting and explained to all the Garden Ornaments what had happened during the wedding rehearsal.
“A perfidious bird of prey has purloined the wedding rings…”
“What?” whispered the Wooden Robin.
“A naughty owl stole the rings while you were checking the wind chimes,” whispered Crispin.
“Outrageous,” squeaked the Wooden Robin, “what is the world coming to?”
“Well volunteered,” said Bartrum.
“Eh?” squeaked the Wooden Robin, “Who’s volunteered? Why’s everyone looking at me?”
“Wooden Robin, you are the perfect person for the job,” said Bartrum.
The Wooden Robin’s delight at being the ‘perfect person for the job’ soon turned to dismay when he realised what he was expected to do.
“But I can’t fly,” he’d explained when Bartrum had told him he was going to deliver two substitute rings to the bride and groom in place of the owl.
“Not a problem,” said Bartrum and he instructed Klaus to install a zip wire from the top of the tall oak tree to the lectern in the Sunken Garden and to provide the Wooden Robin with a harness.
“Where are the brakes?” squeaked the Wooden Robin. He looked nervously up to the top of the oak, “And how am I going to get up there?”
“You’ll be hoisted up. Don’t worry. All you’ve got to do is keep the rings in your beak and then hand them to me when you get down here,” said Bartrum.
“Couldn’t I just be in charge of the wind chimes?”
But Bartrum had turned away.
“Now, I expect every Garden Ornament to keep a watchful eye out for the real rings and for the treacherous thief. I am putting up a reward for the return of the rings and the apprehension of the perpetrator of the crime.”
The Elves were nearly home when Crispin remembered he’d forgotten to check on Wendy’s bouquet and buttonholes and that the cage of doves had been left in the Sunken Garden after the owl fiasco.
“Don’t worry, I’ll sort out the doves. You go and see Wendy,” said Sylvester.
“Thank you, Sylvester. You’ve been a real help today,” said Crispin as he turned off to the Wendy House.
“Oh, Cwithpin! How lovely to thee you. Ith Thylvethter with you?”
“No, he’s sorting out the doves for me but I just wanted to check you found enough flowers for the bouquet and buttonholes.”
“Well,” said Wendy nervously, “actually, I didn’t. Thothe fairieth have taken all the flowerth, but I’ve improvithed.”
Crispin began to panic. A bouquet of stinging nettles would definitely not be good news.
“I made thith,” said Wendy, leading him into her living room.
“Ooh, Wendy!” said Crispin, “It’s beautiful!”
The bride’s bouquet would have been a sorry sight indeed if it had simply consisted of flowers and ribbons. The Fairies had certainly stripped the Garden if these were the only blooms Wendy had been able to find. But the lack of floral content was eclipsed by the colourful and sparkling array of sweets that were incorporated into the bouquet. Jewel-like boiled sweets, foil-wrapped toffees, pastel peach twists of cough candy coated in sugar were tastefully arranged amongst the flowers and long tendrils of red and black liquorice coiled round the lengths of pink ribbon.
“I hope it’th all right…” said Wendy hesitantly.
“It’s wonderful, Wendy. You’re so clever.”
“Unfortunately, there weren’t any more flowerth for the bridethmaidth or the button holeth, tho I made thethe. I hope they’re all right.”
She gently raised a cloth to reveal two posies and dozens of buttonholes made of colourful lollipops. Each buttonhole lollipop had several leaves attached as if it were a flower and the posies were spherical arrangements of lollipops, decorated with bows and lengths of gently coiling ribbon.
“They’re really lovely,” said Crispin, “I can’t tell you how pleased I am…”
“Well, tho long ath you don’t hug me. You’re very, very dirty and quite thmelly.” She wrinkled her nose.
It was time for Crispin to go home and have a long, hot soak in the bath. There was nothing more he could do tonight and the longest day was only a few hours away.
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
Chapter 18 – Wedding Preparations - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/10/the-crispin-chronicles-18-wedding.html
Chapter 19 – Even More Wedding Preparations - https://www.cafelitmagazine.uk/2021/10/the-crispin-chronicles-19-even-more.html