April 1, 2009
It was a cottage with unbelievably low ceilings.
Madeleine goes up the front door, which is a simple wooden door, and knocks. “Who lives here?”
Several trials and no answer later, she pushes the door, and find that it is not latched.
“What tiny plates! And spoons! There must be seven of them, the table’s laid for seven people.” Madeleine goes upstairs, and upstairs is a bedroom with seven neat little beds.
When they are downstairs again, Bambi nudges Madeleine, and causes her to look at him with a look that could kill. “What?” Madeleine asks curtly.
“Well, Your Highness, maybe you can cook something for the people who live here. You know,” Bambi adds hesitantly as Madeleine is once more looking like she’s ready to turn Bambi into pot roast.
Madeleine narrows her eyes, thinking, “It will certainly help if they are in a good mood, if I am to ask for their help.” So Madeleine starts to cook.
Or, at least, she tries to.
By the time she’s done, there’s seven bowls of hot steaming soup, whose aromas will make any hungry soul lose his appetite. And the kitchen is in such mess, the house such a wreckage one could think that there was an earthquake recently.
Tired, Madeleine goes upstairs and sleeps at one of the bed. Bambi takes the opportunity to excuse himself. He has a mother to find, plus he doesn’t really like this snobby brat of a princess. (Poor Bambi… It’s going to be a long and vain search…)
Madeleine later wakes up to a poking in her feet. It is dusk already.
“Oh, good gracious… Another day passed and I have not made progress at all,” she says to herself, while still lying on the bed.
She feels another poke on her feet, and that does it. “What is it!? she yells, and sits up on the bed to see who it is that dares to poke her. “It better be a cat and has seven lives,” she mutters, “cause-“.
Madeleine stops. Staring at her are seven little midgets, wearing multicolor robes, all standing on the end of the bed she’s occupying, cluttered together. The midgets standing behind are pushing and nudging the ones in front, trying to get a look of Madeleine.
“Midgets,” says Madeleine. “You are midgets.”
“Dwarfs,” says a rather angry-looking dwarf in red robes, “We are dwarfs, not midgets!” says he rather curtly.
“Okay, grumpy, dwarfs then,” says Madeleine.
“How do you know his name?” asks one of the other dwarfs very shyly.
“I do not know his name,” snaps Madeleine.
“But you just called him Grumpy,” says another sleepy-looking dwarf.
“I do not know his name, now, I need help,” says Madeleine who then tells them the story of the curse, the witch, and the prince who turns into heaven-knows-what.
“Tell you what,” says a bespectacled dwarf, “Tomorrow we’ll skip mining, and we’ll go to see a friend of ours. He is a wizard, so he might help.”
“Okay, I’ll come with you,” says Madeleine.
“No, you better not,” says the dwarf, “you may not be accustomed to the road, princess.”
“Fine, then,” Madeleine feels herself curiously losing interest in Frederick. She is anxious to get Nate, however, before the witch turns him into stew or barbecue.
The dwarfs then eat the meal that Madeleine prepared. All of their faces curiously turn a shade bluer or greener, and Grumpy is complaining out loud that the food is not fit for dog, when a kick on his shin stops the words coming from his mouth. Then they all go to bed, Madeleine sleeping on Grumpy’s bed and Grumpy grumpily sleep on the floor.
The morning after that, the dwarfs can’t get out of their beds.
“I think it’s food poisoning…,” says the bespectacled dwarf, who then adds, stammering, after seeing the look on Madeleine’s face, “b-b-but I may be wrong, princess, I have been wrong many a time before.”
So Madeleine sets out to the wizard’s place, after receiving directions from the dwarfs, and bringing with her a map drawn by the dwarfs.
She walks and walks and walks, and she is lost. But she doesn’t like to admit she can’t read a map, so she just keep on walking for three days, before she gives up and completely loses all her nerve and then breaks down. Then she sees a rabbit, white and curiously wearing a waistcoat and carrying a watch, running in such a hurry and muttering, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”
Madeleine quickly seizes the poor rabbit by its ears, and lifts it to examine it closely.
“Curious,” remarks Madeleine, “I’ve seen a talking deer, dwarfs, but a waistcoat-wearing rabbit? Hmmm…”
“Release me, release me,” the rabbit struggles hopelessly, “Please, I’ll be too late and the Queen will surely have my head. Please, lovely lady, I’m begging here.”
“Well, if you can show me to the wizard’s, I’ll release you.”
“And if I can’t?”
“I’m mighty hungry, rabbit, and you are looking rather like a stew now.”
The rabbit gulps, and then nods, “Very well, wicked wench,” the rabbit says, pulling something black from the pockets of his coat, “Here.”
It was a black candle.
“What am I going to do with this?” asks a furious Madeleine.
” ‘Tis a Babylon candle, wench, it will take you anywhere you want.”
Madeleine winces; she has never heard of a Babylon candle. “How do I know you are not lying?”
The rabbit sighs, “You don’t. Fine, chop me up and cook me. The Queen’s going to have me beheaded anyway. I’m telling you the truth, though, lit the candle, but think only of the place you want to go to, or the people you want to go to.”
“Fine,” Madeleine finally says, releasing her grip on the rabbit’s ears. The poor furry thing fall with a loud thud, and is quickly on its feet again, running full speed. He then jumps to a hole, and disappears.
Madeleine takes a deep breath, lits the candle, thinking of the witch, and all of the sudden the air is sucking her, and she is caught up in a whirling vortex of wind. And before she can say, “Bloody rabbit,” she is standing in front of a man, old with long grey beard, grey hair, and wearing a grey robe. A staff is leaning on the empty chair next to the one he is sitting on.
“Well, this surely is a surprise. Who are you, child?” asks the old man.
“I am Princess Madeleine Vittoria Artemis Lucille Charlemagne, daughter of King Marcus Charlemagne of the Farther Away Kingdom. Are you the wizard the dwarfs told me of? I need your help.”
“I don’t know what dwarfs talked about me. Her Highness can simply call me Gandalf. Gladly at your service, princess.”
(to be continued)