Author's Chapter Notes:
A little follow-up to the previous.
LIV. It's a Ridiculous Life
"Perhaps that can be arranged," spoke a voice, and there was Petal smiling blue-eyed behind them.
"Fine," Butternut said after a startled moment. "Just put me in a place where there are no females, no Darlings, and no hairy-foots slinging pony-shoes about and saying thank you and such nonsense, and I shall be perfectly content."
"Very well then," Petal said, still smiling, as the others giggled. And he suddenly found himself surrounded by the ugliest and smelliest creatures he had ever seen and smelled in all his short life. They were huge, they were hairy all over, and were obviously not female. They appeared to be boiling something in a pot, although they were obviously not human. He had to back far away, for the pot was made of iron, as if the stink were not enough. Then he heard the creatures talking, although he could not understand one word they were saying.
Then a strange feeling came over him, and he felt his limbs swelling, and something was clearly happening to his face. Looking down at himself in the firelight that came from beneath their pot, he could see that his body was coming to resemble those of the hideous creatures before him. Frantically he looked about for Petal, then remembered he had requested to be put in a place where there were no females.
But what a dirty trick she had played upon him!
"Do not fear," she spoke, and he felt a mixture of relief and fury. "No female Fairies, Darlings, nor Big Folk will come near you. Love is a thing these creatures know not, nor any such thing as manners, so I promise they will never thank you, even if you should save their lives. They do not have young, so you will not be plagued with any Darlings. Therefore, you will never see nor hear anything ridiculous again. Of course, you must avoid sunlight, which will turn you to stone. I wish you a fine life with these wondrous folk, and hope you will be happy now for the rest of your days. Now I bid you farewell, and--"
"Wait," he said with a hand raised in what he hoped was an authoritative manner. "I do not wish this life. Put me back as I was, at once. Do it now, or I will tell those...things...to drop that iron pot on you."
Then it occurred to him that making threats might not be such a good idea, after all.
"I promise to tell them not to drop their pot on you, if you will only put me back," he amended.
There was no answer. He began to grow quite terrified.
"PLEASE put me back as I was!" he wailed. "I will do anything you wish! I will dance for TEN Darlings!"
Still no answer.
"And I will take you for my mate, and not look at any other," he said. And thought, If that does not do the trick, what will?
But she was gone.
He looked down at himself once more, then at the other creatures. They were looking at him. And talking to each other.
He could understand them now. They were grumbling about the poor quality of their dinner, and wondering if he would be good to eat. Even though he was of their kind.
He thought to tell them where they might find truffles, but had a feeling they would not be impressed.
He began to run, even though it was too dark to see where he was going. He ran and ran, stumbling over big stones, bushes, branches, and other obstacles, feeling some most unpleasant sensations in several body parts. He did not know whether the others were following him or not. He did not even care.
And he realized soon that he was becoming what humans called exhausted. It was very serious business indeed.
Finally he could go no more, and he dropped down on his belly, whimpering, very glad for the ground he fell on, not even caring that they were on him.
The next thing he knew, it was daylight and he was lying underneath a tall and fragrant golden lily, Bittersweet standing there looking down at him with a frown on her very lovely face.
He looked up at his sister with the most ridiculous grin ever.
"Fetch my breakfast, if you please," he said, thinking how delighted his mother and Petal and Persimmon would be at his wonderful new manners.
LIV. It's a Ridiculous Life