An Adventure With the Water Queen
(With Emily and David)
Daddy, when you left this morning we watched from the upstairs alcove window and waved and waved, but you didn't see us. Of course, we were invisible so you couldn't have seen us even if you had looked up, which made us giggle as we knew you thought we were still in bed. David said perhaps we should stay invisible all day, but I told him the Water Queen wouldn't be able to see us, so in a snap we were right again just as you rode away in the hansom.
Mummy called us down to breakfast and told us we had to sit like "proper English children" while we ate jam and toast, but even she laughed when Mr. Thompkins jumped up on the table and sniffed the butter pot. Cats are very clever you know, at making people laugh, but David and I tried to hide it as we were being most prim and proper, holding our noses high and curling our little fingers at one another. David laughed first, and then Mummy, but I pretended not to notice, only rolling my eyes much as great Aunt Ophelia does when David and I tell her we have been to visit the Water Queen. Mr. Thompkins pretended not to care.
The garden was still damp from the Water Queen's silvery drops of dew when we ran down the path behind the potting sheds toward the pond and the low side of the garden. She puts them out every morning, but then she takes them back every afternoon. The dew drops, I mean. She doesn't care a fig about potting sheds. We had to stop when we came close to the buggawump's hole under the apple tree. He might be there, you know, and we didn't want him to take our shoes. One rainy day after Christmas he ate my very best pair. Do you remember? Bailey sniffed at the hole, but he acted as if the buggawump was not at home.
Even so, we shushed one another and tiptoed past the dark hole, being careful to stay away from the ferns and the calla lilies where he might be hiding. Did he ever take your shoes, Daddy?
After the palace was finished I sat on the garden bench while David took off his shoes. He was certainly determined that he was going to stand on one foot on that blue rock in the pond. A big green frog, the kind that goes "galoomp," jumped up on the blue rock! In a moment he was gone, but then another one jumped on it, and then the first one came back and they both sat on the rock, looking like matched guards for the palace. They took great gulps of air and blew themselves up ever so big and blinked and galoomped and blinked and galoomped some more. It wouldn't do for David to stand there too, as the rock was barely big enough for the sentries, so we sat on the bench and wondered if we could master the language of the frogs. David spoke first, although I didn't understand a word he said. But one of the frogs seemed to turn its head to look at us, and David said he had a nice conversation with him and told him how handsome he looked as a sentry. He did seem to sit a little taller after that. The frog that is, I don't mean David. I'm afraid I will never learn to speak as the frogs do, and I don't know how David learned so fast. It took him the longest time to tie his shoes, if you remember. Daddy, do you suppose the Water Queen understands? The frogs, of course. She already talks to David and ignores Bailey, but the frogs watch him carefully. David told them that he is an English sheep dog...Not an English frog dog.
Both of the sentries must have seen the buggawump, because they seemed to jump at the same time, right into the ferns and lilies at the end of the bench! Oh, the ferns shook so hard the dew came flying off and we just knew the brave frogs were trying to protect the queen's palace. We ran straight to the ladder for the tree house expecting to see a fierce battle in the ferns below. The excitement was something I could feel all the way down to my toes. The ferns were waggling and shaking and I shivered at the thought of what might be happening in them. The guards had found the buggawump. He had been so close to us, Daddy!
With a great flutter a shiny, black crow landed on the branch over our heads. He was awfully loud and absolutely rude as well; I thought the crow wanted to watch the battle with us, but he was so noisy I couldn't keep my attention on what was happening below. I certainly had to look at him. David lay on the floor and covered his ears, so I asked the crow to please be quiet, and surprisingly he obliged. After that he was very polite and simply strutted back and forth as we turned our attention again to the ferns. What I didn't know then is that he is probably a friend of the buggawump. Can you imagine? I think he was trying to distract the queen's sentries so the buggawump could get away, because that's what happened. What do you think? Are the crows and our buggawump friends? When we looked again it had become very quiet in the ferns and one of the sentries was back on the blue rock, but the other sentry was making a galoomping noise in the ferns. At least the nasty buggawump couldn't come uninvited to the palace. The Water Queen said she was rather pleased with her new home and its brave guards, and she promised to promote the two frogs to be captains. The dreadful crow flew away, making that loud cawing noise as he went.
Most of this morning we stayed in the tree house wondering how we might attach a huge sail to the bench below. David described in great detail how it might take us up over the house tops, where we could watch all of the people in the village and they wouldn't know we were up there. I said perhaps we could use it to follow the hansom some morning as you went off to take care of matters. Daddy, what are matters? Oh, but before we could even think about asking the pirates where we might find a sail, we saw that the tree fairies were peeking out, wondering what all the commotion had been about. They were wearing their summer clothes, and some had on sun bonnets, but David said only the girl fairies were wearing them. He was sure the boys were wearing helmets. He called the sun bonnets silly, and sounded just like you as he said it. We lay on our backs on the floor of the tree house and counted the fairies we saw, but I think some of them changed clothes with each other and tried to confuse us, and some of them made the hanging moss shiver, wanting to trick us into thinking one of them was behind it so we would count them twice. They were laughing almost as hard as we were, and they would jump behind a leaf when we would point them out. Tree fairies are shy and don't like to come out in the midday, but early in the morning they are just everywhere. They seem to be as resplendent as the different colors of the rainbow, and did you know you see them mostly out of the corner of your eye when you are not looking at them?
Daddy, you must get the repairman to mend our broken gate to the garden, the one that goes to the planted squash and beans. It's very difficult to open because the latch post is wobbly. Did you know that a small troll lives behind that garden gate? Be sure to tell the repairman. We saw him from high up and climbed down to get a better look, but he was gone when we got there. His nest was there, right behind the gate and under the hedge. I think you told Mummy it was a sett...Isn't a sett a place where badgers live? Anyway, David says his name is Macklewine. Oh, Daddy! No, David didn't change his name! That's the name of the troll! I asked David how he knew that, and he said one of the frogs had told him. He also said the crow's name is Lanthorpe. I wish I could speak to the frogs, but it seems to be a difficult language and I don't think I will ever learn it. Mummy says I will learn to speak French, though.
For lunch we had soup and bread and a bit of chocolate. There was some old bread in the back of the box and Mummy said we could take it with us back to the garden, but she scolded David for leaving his shoes on the bench. We tried to explain about the battle and she said that was certainly understandable, but he needed to put them on again. What did you have for lunch, Daddy? Oh, look! I still have some bread here in my apron. See how hard it is? But the ducks just love it.
After a good nap, where I rode on the back of an orange elephant and David said he was a great sea dragon, we went back to the garden and took the long way around to the pond. We hoisted my apron which had become a small flag and held it between us as we marched on the path, like two soldiers in a parade. We wanted to avoid the shoe snatcher, as I was still wearing mine but David had to find his.
Oh my! David's shoes were gone. It must have been the buggawump! They were not on the garden bench. We looked along the edge of the pond and we asked the Water Queen if they were in the new palace, but they were not there, either. That's when Dillard and Demora swam up and I remembered the bread in my pocket for them. I was careful to break it into very small pieces and not throw it all at once, just like you showed me the time I rode on your shoulders. David fooled them a couple of times when he tossed pebbles, but there was lots of bread. That's not really mean to toss pebbles because Dillard and Demora are too fat anyway. You said so yourself. Besides, it's funny to hear them complain. The ducks inspected the new palace and found a snail who had invaded it. Do the French people really think snails are good to eat?
We played hide-and-seek, but that's lots more fun when cousins Gerard and Margaret come to visit. Both David and I know places to hide that they can't find, you know. We thought Gerard would probably like to meet our new gate troll and decided to look for him again, instead of each other. He still had not returned, but that rude crow was on the latch post, being his noisy self. I've never seen such a pest. As we watched him he scraped his beak across the top of the post a couple of times and then picked up a sock that was hidden up there. Naturally, it was David's sock and we both knew it. That crow, Daddy, is not only rude but he's a thief as well! I'm not sure I want him in our garden anymore if he can't pick better friends and learn some manners.
Did the pixies live here before we did? Or did they move here when you and Mummy came here? Why do they like to live in the foxglove and the snapdragons? Do they like to eat the sugar peas that grow all in a row, or do they prefer the wild berries? I know they don't like onions. There's ever so much I don't know about the pixies and you just have to tell me about them. I never see a pixie when Mr. Thompkins is in the yard. Why is that? Don't they like cats?
We crossed over the foot bridge to the carrot patch looking for bunnies and found even more than last week. That was the time we counted four, but today there were six. David and I peeked in the little house we had built for them, but no one was home. I guess they had business to take care of, just like you. Where do you go, Daddy, when the hansom takes you away on business? Oh! And the cabbages are getting ever so big!
We visited the Water Queen again late in the day and had another lovely discussion of how many goldfish were in her domain, but this time she told us there were twenty seven, and babies were expected soon. She seemed very excited about the news. We asked about David's shoes and she told us to look behind the garden bench for them, because that's where the buggawump had hidden them. One sock was missing, but it was the one with the hole in it, so David said he didn't care that Lanthorpe had taken it.
Daddy, the Water Queen said the pirates have invited us to take a trip on their awful ship tomorrow, and we will be able to shoot their cannon as often as we wish. David said he will show me how. Do we have any pirate hats, Daddy?
I'm glad you're home now. Will you fly us to bed this evening after supper?
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by Roy Wilson