The Wisps of Rugby Pond
Flit and Chirp and the Great Gray Gosling Race
Flit and Chirp are twin wisps, fairies the human call us. They, their parents and I live among the other wisps that call Colonel Reginald Rugby`s estate home. Now there are many differing kinds of wisps I should like to point out. Wood wisps and water wisps, air wisps and floral wisps.
Not that the humans know about the wide variety of fey folk that live side by side with them. The humans call we wisps fireflies or some other such very humanistic type thing. But as for this telling I`ll pass along that Flit and Chirp are wood wisps as I am.
We wood wisps live in the hollows of trees and tend to our forest friends. The trees are thankful for the care of their roots, branches and leaves and allow us residence. It is a very purposeful and fulfilling existence. But I should not dally about such trivialities. Let us return to the telling shall we?
Both Flit and Chirp have bright red hair and freckles that are splattered across their upturned noses. Most days both young wisps hair is blown akimbo from racing about among the bulrushes that line the pond our band live near. Colonel Reginald Rugby`s pond that is.
The twins are rambunctious boys even by wisp standards. Many a time I have seen them tugging at the tails of tadpoles as they hover above the surface of the pond, their iridescent wings moving in a blur and their blue shirts and brown trousers soaked and caked with mud. Their mother is continually on nerves end about her children and their follies but boys will be boys, even wisp boys.
One late spring morning the boys had come streaking down to the pond as I was gathering green seed pods from the whippet plants that grew at ponds edge.
“Good morn to you Elder Cristo!” both young men called. I straightened from my task and waved at them as is proper. The twins dropped down to a lily-pad and watched me with bright emerald eyes.
“What is it you do Elder Cristo?” one of them asked. I never could tell one child from the other so I called them both ‘Lad’.
“I am gathering green seed pods to brew into a salve for healing the roots of that sickly elm by the fence lad,” I explained then moved some long silver hair from my face. The twin wisps nodded in unison.”What sort of mischief are you two up this morning?” I inquired and placed my hand to my lower back as I moved to and fro. Damp mornings are quite uncomfortable for such old wisp bones as mine.
“We are going to the other side of the pond!” one lad exclaimed.
“To catch two gray goslings!” the other said.
They tended to finish each other sentences more times than not.
“And what do you propose to do with the two gray goslings once you have caught them?” I asked as the sun peeked over the very tops of the oak and beech trees.
“We are going to saddle them!” one lad with an upturned freckle nose said.
“And have a race across the pond!” cried the other lad with the upturned freckle nose.
“I see. And have you asked Mister and Mrs. Gray Goose about this?” I asked with neither displeasure nor condemnation in my voice.
Both wild red heads shook soundly. Now as my role as elder it sometimes falls upon my old shoulders to pass the wisdom of my hundred years of wisp living along. Then there are times that rambunctious young wisps need to learn their lessons on their own. This, I decided, was one of those times.
“I bid you good favor on your gosling quest. If you wish I shall call out the winner as you pass the fallen log by the beaver dam?” I offered most graciously.
“We would be very pleased!”
“To have you do so Elder Cristo!”
“Now we need gather bark for saddles!”
“Also vines for reins!”
I waved merrily at the two lads as they zipped skyward to begin their hunt. Then a large splash erupted to my right. I peeked over to spy Gragon the bullfrog hop from amid the lily pads to the bank beside me.
I placed a finger over my lips when the bright green frog opened his wide mouth to speak. His large yellow eyes grew even wider but he remained silent until Flit and Chirp flew to the nearest tree to ask for some loose bark.
“Cristo,” the bullfrog croaked then licked his bulging eye with his long tongue.”Even I know not to tamper with Mister and Mrs. Gray Goose, especially when they have nestlings!”
“Yes, that is common knowledge for those who reside by Colonel Reginald Rugby`s pond,” I replied and shook the dew from my shimmering wings.
“Then why did you not relay that to those two wisplets?” he asked so loudly my pointed ears rang.
“Because my good friend sometimes the best lessons are those learned by error,” I told him.”Shall we move to the beaver dam for the show?”
Gragon shook his green head and chuckled warmly. I had to assume for his silence I would have to bake a batch of gnat cookies but that seemed a small price to pay for the sight we would soon be witnessing. I bent over to retrieve my basket of green seed pods. I took to the air with my basket under my arm and Gragon leaped with long strong leaps to the top of the beaver lodge.
Flit and Chirp raced over our heads with hoots of glee, each lad holding a shank of smooth dark bark and several vines from a weeping willow tree. Those willows are most gracious! Not like the elder oaks who horde everything greedily. How many arguments I have had with elder oaks about sharing I cannot say but they have been numerous.
I placed my basket of green seed pods down on the roof of the beaver’s stout home, gathered my robe up over my knobby knees, tucked my wings tightly to my back and sat down. Gragon arrived then and apologized for his delay. He had seen a dragonfly within range and well…..it WAS time to break his fast. I was just about to inform him not to worry about being tardy when a commotion erupted from the far end of the pond and what a commotion it was!
Gragon let loose a loud ‘RIBBET’ in shock and I lifted my sight from my friend and Friday night card playing partner. Out of the bulrushes came Flit and Chirp on the backs of two fluffy gray goslings. And directly on their tails-The goslings AND the lads-were Mister and Mrs. Gray Goose. It seemed as if the lads were having some trouble holding their mounts to a steady course I noticed. One boy’s gosling went to the left, flapping its short wings while the other boy’s gosling veered to the right.
Mister Gray Goose went left and his wife went right. Gragon leaped behind me for he fears the gray geese greatly. I shouted out encouragements to the lads yet I suspected they may not have heard me, what with the honking and loud cracking of adult goose wings on the once tranquil pond. Then the rest of the goose family arrived. The seven siblings were also making a terrific racket. Madame Beaver surfaced then from her underwater tunnel.
“What ith going on out here!?” she asked with a very heavy lisp.
Beavers have such long front teeth you see. I shouted out what was occurring and she sighed wearily then climbed up beside Gragon and me to watch. She smelled strongly of castor but I said nothing and merely moved some to accommodate her rather large brown furry rump and flat tail. Suddenly the lads appeared and they were looking much worse for the wear. They were being drug through the water behind their steeds, each wisp instigator clinging to a vine rein for dear life.
I stood as quickly as I could, due to my knobby knees, and yelled to the two red-haired wisps to stay the course for they were nearly to the finish line. Mister and Mrs. Gray Goose erupted from a tangle of thick reeds and rushes as did their seven other offspring. Oh the uproar! I nearly laughed aloud when one lad’s goslings raced pell-mell past us spectators. I could see bits of pond scum stuck to the lad’s freckled nose and cheeks as he was drug past.
“We have a winner!” I shouted loudly and raised my hand into the cool morning air.
Gragon peeked around the side of my robe as the adults sped past. The second gosling carrying the other lad swam past so quickly it collided into the side of its father soundly. Mister Goose reached down and pinched the rump of Flit…or it may have been Chirp…I can never tell them apart. The boy squealed out and was then unceremoniously dropped back into the pond. Mrs. Goose delivered the same punishment to Chirp or Flit then gathered her very weary young to her side.
“Well that wath thertainly ethciting!” Madame Beaver said with a chuckle.
She too had dealt with the rapscallions on more than one occasion. The last time being just a few days ago when the lads had tried to use her youngest kit as an underwater diving devise complete with periscope made of hollowed out pond reeds. She had chastised the wisp twins soundly then told their mother of their misbehavior. I believe they had been made to clean the inside of the beaver lodge for punishment.
I folded my arms over my chest as the two bedraggled lads sloshed their way from the pond, each boy rubbing his posterior as their wings dragged sodden behind them. It would take some time for them to become dry enough for flight I knew.
“Well lads that was quite the race!” I said as the duo slogged up to the top of the beaver lodge.” What say we schedule another one for tomorrow morn?”
“We think we are not really keen,” one lad muttered still rubbing his pinched bottom.
“On gosling races anymore Elder Cristo,” finished the other holding his offended cheek tenderly.
“Ah well that is too bad. Would you care to have a seat?” I inquired just filled with wispish devilment.
Even Madame Beaver had to laugh at their wide-eyed announcement that they would stand until their wings dried sufficiently thank you all the same.