Daisy looked from Griselda’s discarded knickers, to Klukelunnen.
“Is there no privacy,” he muttered.
Daisy didn’t hear. “Oh good,” she exclaimed with an awkward clap of her hands. “Ted’s Jimmies are perfect for you.”
Perfect? This loosely termed ‘suit of clothes’, aka Ted’s Jimmies, comprised a buttoned-up jacket—with room in the sleeves for at least one more arm—and pull-on pants a bit tight where it hurts yet in need of a knot to keep them up. Except the provided cord was too ruffing bulky to tie with any degree of success. Granny’s Knickers! Whose idea was this? Oh, aye, that would be Little Daisy. But at least the fabric was soft—even if it was in Klukelunnen’s least favourite colours of green and yellow squares. But she had tried.
And now here she’d brought him his food. He could see the tub of mixed seeds, as promised, her hand curled around it. She set it down on the floor to his ‘run’. A pink palace, she had called it after letting slip it was a hutch for rabbits with attached fenced-in exercise area.
“We’re on our own,” she said, and flopped to the floor beside him, beside the fenced run. “Jason says we’re not to tell Pops and Mum about this—I mean you being here. He says Pops already has enough on his plate. Something to do with taxes, I think. Mum didn’t fill in her returns as she should have, something left undeclared. I don’t understand about taxes, only that those who cheat them go to prison. ‘It is your patriotic duty to pay your dues, and not just for the sake of your country but for all the folk in it. Taxes help to pay for …’ well, for everything, really. Do they have taxes where you come from? Where do you come from, Klukelunnen? Jason says Fleur found you in the attic—and, oh, is she so going to get it when Mum finds out she’s been up there. Did you see the huge trunk? Every one of Mum’s costumes since she was a kid at school, all stored in there. All the way through school, through RADA, and those years in Rep. Folks think it’s all provided by the producers, but that’s only in the larger companies. I reckon Fleur was hoping for something Goth-y to wear. So where are you from; I mean, how did you get into our attic?”
Was that her monologue done? But at least with her he’d no need to fear that she’d trick him to wed her, not like her half-related sibling Fleur.
“It was a spell gone wrong,” he said. “It was supposed to take me to Gruff’s Cavern not to your attic, and not to this … this Land of Giants.”
He noticed the rise of her eyebrows. Indeed, they nigh disappeared beneath her fairish-red hair, crinkling her freckled brow. He supposed with her being a giant she didn’t call her land that name.
“Your Land of Giants, see,” he said before she could launch herself into another monologue, “isn’t part of our world. Not at all—though we do have tales … The Giantess and the Stone and … Anyway, we have but the four lands. Dolnixen—where the Nixies dwell. Dolpixel, that the Pixies inhabit. Dolfernan—aye, you’ve guessed it: for the Fernamon. And Dolstone for we Stones; that’s where I’m from, Dolstone. And that’s where I was till that wretched spell went wrong. It shouldn’t have delivered me here. And why are you looking at me that way?”
Daisy was staring, emerald eyes huge, pale lashes all but a blend with her brows.
“Nixies and pixies and … though I haven’t heard of fernamon, and … stones? You mean like pebbles? But the pixies and nixies, we have stories of them. Folk tales and … things.”
She sat quiet for a while. Thinking? The volume of silence struck Klukelunnen as astounding, and while she was around, too. But it didn’t last long. She jumped to her feet. Clapped her hands. Pranced around. “You know what this means, don’t you!”
No, he didn’t—except he was here where he shouldn’t be.
“It’s not the Anthropology geeks we need to see,” she said—which clearly delighted her. “They’ll not be able to sort you out. Not identify you. Not help you to return home. More likely they’ll put you in a cage and imprison you while they hum and hah about what you are. No, who we need to see isn’t Anthropology at all, but Professor Angelus Margev. He’s well into folk-lore and … stuff. He’ll understand of nixies and pixies and … fern-a-man—what are the fern-a-man?”
“Fernamon,’ he corrected. ‘The fire-folk.” He would have said more but …
“And, oh boy, are you in luck. For I, Daisy Doley, can number amongst my closest friends this same Professor Angelus Margev. I’ll take you there—tomorrow. He lives in Cambridge. But, problem. It’s only a five-mile drive but I don’t drive, and Mum’s using Jason’s car and Fleur … no, we can forget about her. Besides, she’d probably corrupt the professor. Sweet old man—no idea his age. He says he’s been at Cambridge since forever but that can’t be true ‘cause he’s resident at Trinity Hall and Trinity Hall wasn’t built until thirteen-something. He holds the chair in Theology & Religious Philosophy. Oh! And that’s a thought. I had best ask you, cos I know that he will. What religion are you?”
“What ‘what’ am I?” Klukelunnen asked in return. “Religion? What’s that when it dons its clothes and sits at home.”
“You mean you don’t know?” Her eyes went wide, great emeralds studding glossy white orbs. “But maybe it’s only the word you don’t know. I mean, everyone knows what religion they are. Catholic, C of E, Methodist, Baptist, Jew or Moslem. Though this last century we had an influx of Buddhist, Hindi and Sikhs. And the Pagans are gaining ground again, almost as strong as before the saints were martyred, or so says the Prof—it’s not really my thing, religion, I just follow Pops and Mum. They’re kind of Buddhist-cum-Hindi-cum-Gnostic—that’s with a ‘gee’ not a ‘kay’—or so says Professor Margev. He says they’re ‘typical of the seventies’ generation of spiritual enquirers’, what he calls ‘the psychedelic experiment’. He says they’ll probably settle back to Christianity, given time. Already they hold to the Christ’s festivals, you know, like Christmas. You don’t have Christmas? Oh, the professor is so going to enjoy you.”
Well, thought Klukelunnen, as long as he doesn’t crush my bones and spread me on toast …
“You’ll need to be up early in the morning. I’ll wash out your clothes, tumble and iron them. You can’t go in those Jimmies, and I’ve nothing other you can wear. Not ‘less you don’t mind wearing a dress? Nah, best not in public—though Cambridge is quite liberal, it’s not quite that far out, not according to Jason. Now, I’ll need to think of a way to get us there. Driving is out, for reasons said. And I know it’s only five miles, but five there and another five back, that’s ten. I might be able to walk it but I doubt that you can, and I’m not carrying you, you’d soon grow heavy. Oh dear, that’s leaves just the bike or the bus, and Mum doesn’t like me biking into town on a Saturday. She says it’s too busy, and this being summer hols, the town is top-loaded with tourists. So, the bus it is. But we’ll have to find a way that you won’t be seen. Gosh-golly-doodah, that would set the tongues wagging; be front-page news, headlining everywhere: ‘Little Man Seen On Cambridgeshire Bus, is it a Hobbit?’”