Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Breakfast fit for an elf

Something warm and sweet is good for treating shock, I'm told, so I brewed some chamomile tea and laced it with honey. Then I went into the Miniature Room. No, not a teeny-tiny room, but a room full of teeny-tiny rooms. That is, the room where I keep all of my miniature dollhouses and furniture. I dug out the little blue English tea set with its round, serviceable pot, washed it and filled it with tea for the welf. I also washed a plate, cup, saucer and the round blue tray with the piecrust edge that goes with the set. Then I tried very hard to think of things that a wood elf would like to eat for breakfast.

I sliced a blueberry up like an apple and put it on the tray. I thought she would like some kind of biscuit, so I gave her a little piece of shortbread as well. Then for protein I added a slice of slivered almond from my baking supplies and a shred of grated cheddar cheese. I threw in a little slice of bread and butter for good measure. I considered a chocolate chip but thought it might make her sick. I ate several myself instead. She wasn't the only person in the house suffering from shock! And chocolate, as we all know, is highly medicinal.

I placed the teapot, teacup, plate and tray of food on a full-sized saucer and was about to carry it all into the study when I recalled that I could hardly expect her to eat and drink on her knees. So I went back into the miniature room and fetched a little windsor chair and table for her, cleaned them off (I'm ashamed to admit that room gets rather dusty when I'm working on a book) and put them on a tray with the saucer. All of this then I took back to the study. Taffy refused to stay corralled in the kitchen; I could only hope as she ran ahead of me that she wouldn't give the poor little elf a heart attack. If she were still there, which part of me doubted.

However, she was there. She appeared to have fallen asleep under the washcloth, but opened her eyes as I entered. Taffy sat beside her on the sofa cushion with her paws tucked under herself, purring contentedly. It was quite a pretty domestic picture.

I set the miniature table and chair on my desk, on top of my mouse pad which is designed like an oriental rug. Then I laid the table. I wished I had a tablecloth for her, but anything I could have used would have stuck out stiffly and gotten in her way. I bowed and guestered for her to eat, then went to sit in my armchair on the other side of the room so as not to intimidate her. I was afraid that Taffy would jump up and sniff all the food, get her whiskers in everything and upset the table, but for once she stayed where she was, though she watched the proceedings with interest.

The welf sat up, wide-eyed, then slowly and stiffly crept to the little breakfast table. She kept glancing at me, then at Taffy, then back at her breakfast. She sat down and cautiously sipped the tea. It seemed to agree with her, for she cupped her tiny hands around the blue teacup and drank the rest in one long gulp. Not very elflike, but I'm afraid she was very thirsty. I watched her, fascinated, as she tasted all the food in turn. The blueberry she consumed right away of course, but the other things seemed unfamiliar to her. The cheese she rejected, though the bread and butter disappeared quickly, as did the shortbread. The thing she seemed to consider the greatest delicacy was the almond sliver. I realized that while walnuts are plentiful here, almonds don't grow in this part of the world and the flavor would seem quite delicate by contrast. I myself am not all that fond of walnuts. She nibbled contentedly on the slice, washing it down with tea, until both were gone.

Then she sat back reflectively, as if unsure what to do next. I quite understood her feelings. She seemed so out of place in my study, sitting so tiny and delicate on top of my desk in the spindly chair. The sun was shining cheerfully by this time and I wondered if she wouldn't like to go home, wherever that was. She gazed out the window for a few moments, then she turned to me and pushed the little chair away from the table. Rising, she bowed her thanks. Then she began to speak.

I couldn't understand a word that she said, but the language was beautiful and flowing. I had a feeling that Elf language was a bit like French, in that it falls so pleasantly on the ears that even an insult sounds like a compliment to those unfamiliar with it. Not that I thought she was insulting me. On the contrary, she seemed to be making a very pretty speech of gratitude and explanation in her thin, clear voice. Her hands were held out to me as if imploring my help. But I couldn't make the least sense of it. She realized this, but seemed to feel the making of the speech important in itself and continued to the end. I looked at her sadly and shook my head.

Taffy, however, seemed acutely interested. She sat up with one of those trilling noises cats make when their interest is piqued.

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