3 April, 2018 by katelaity
‘Good heavens!’ I tried not to stare at the lady’s feet, but it gave me a funny feeling in my middle section to see that they were indeed floating just above the stone floor. How had I not noticed before.
‘Then it is true we are in the fairy lands, though no one has named them so?’ There was a rather unhealthy glow of excitement on my friend’s face. Tansy would always be drawn like a moth to a candle flame when danger was about.
Chambers gave this a moment’s thought. ‘I suppose it is not their name for the land so they do not call it so, but it certainly seems to be what we would call fairy. Or the Other Lands or the Irish name Tír na nÓg.’
‘Why are there so many names for it then?’ I said with some irritation that had nothing to do with the lure of the tarts I must not eat even though that cheese tart over there made my mouth water with longing. ‘Can’t they make up their minds?’
‘Are there not…many lands?’ Tansy asked softly, staring off into space like a philosopher or something. A rather unsettling habit he had there; it put people off.
Chambers, however, rubbed his hands together with enthusiasm. ‘That is my theory! We have always talked about the Other Lands as if they were one, but why should they not be as numerous and varying as our own lands? Indeed, I wonder that there is not some variety within the race of faerie as it were. Are brownies and pixies of the same people?’ His eyes positively sparked with excitement.
‘It seems rude to talk about these people while we are guests,’ I said quietly. It hardly fell to me to be the one to express propriety, but since I knew them to be extremely dangerous folk when they were displeased—which was not at all uncommon it appeared to me anyway—I though it unwise to gossip about them in such close quarters.
Tansy had that careless look I knew presaged something dangerous. I did not like the look of it. He saw me looking and smiled. ‘I was merely thinking that it would not be so terrible to stay, would it?’
‘Yes, it would be!’ Always the dreamer my friend. ‘Not only do we have responsibilities back in our own country but there is the little matter of the wager, need I remind you?’
Tansy laughed. ‘This is true. I had nearly forgotten.’ But he took the little silver tape measure out and played with the unspooling tape. ‘I wonder if there is anything else I should measure?’
‘Not the cheese, for it looks so appetising I cannot imagine there is anything the least bit absurd about it apart from the fact that we are not allowed to eat it.’ A touch of exasperation may have crept into my tone just then. Hunger may have made me slightly delirious. When I thought no one could see me, I slipped a cheese tart into my jacket pocket.
If I ate fairy food here, I might not be able to leave. However, if I ate fairy food when I was back in our lands, they could not drag me back to fairy lands, surely? And the cheese tart was so beautifully golden. Who could resist such a delicacy?
Not me, alas.
Jus then we were called before the queen who looked rather stern—or perhaps only solemn. We arranged ourselves before her with proper obsequiousness and awaited her words.
‘I am grateful for the service you delivered on my behalf. With the lady Judith, who has agreed to remain as my aide-de-chambre and closest councillor, I am pleased to offer you these ribbons to honour your bravery in arms.’
With the help of the lady Judith she affixed these medals to our chests and shook our hands with great pomp. I must say I was quite chirky to be getting a tangible award like this. I’d like to see what our old schoolmaster Timpkins would say if he could see me now. Ne’er-do-well, my foot! Grinning, I felt as giddy as a schoolboy again.
‘And now the lady Judith will deliver you to your own lands again.’ The queen looked very serious yet, and I wondered if we had displeased her. She had a changeable temper like all monarchs. But the lady Judith explained the reasoning.
‘If you spend the night here, you will not be able to leave for another seven years at least!’