The Three Merry Friends of Ettingswimple: A Christmas Story

by GRACE E. ROBINSON Contributing Writer
| December 31, 2020 1:00 AM

Continued from last week

And the day of the party arrived! All was decorated, with every bough hung to perfection. There came a rappity-tappity-tap upon Thimbleweed’s front door. The maid opened the door to a grinning man wearing an orange and gold cap.

“Bonjour, my dear lady! I am Roncevérte, here to cater a party being held two hours hence at this fine estate!”

A large wagon was parked at the street, pulled by two dragons. They stood in their harnesses, conversing quietly with one another while Roncevérte and his assistant unloaded boxes from the wagon.

With a flourish and much chattering, they had dishes of food laid out on crisply pressed linens. When Cook made her way upstairs and saw the spread, she was a little insulted. “Will there be any need for my food? I’ve been cooking all day.”

“Dearest lady,” said Roncevérte, bowing and dipping his hat most fancily. “There is always room for more food. I should be honored to have your fine dishes laid out beside mine.” With bejeweled rings flashing, he grasped and kissed her hand most properly.

Cook could not help but be charmed by this, so she hurried back to the kitchen to finish her work.

Then a ring at the front bell! Lord and Lady Twindlewipkins were the first arrivals. Thimbleweed greeted them, dressed in his best vest and tails, and had managed to tame his fly-away hair.

Soon the house was full. Everyone who had received an invitation came, for Thimbleweed had a reputation of being an upstanding and generous citizen. Everyone had more than plenty to eat; Roncevérte’s food was complimented many a time for being so deliciously unique. And Cook’s more traditional fare was proclaimed to be the best they had ever tasted.

After dinner, games of cards were played, such as Whist, Pig, and Gimpy’s Lament; and then there were carols round the tree. Much talking and laughter went long into the night, along with several rounds of desert and Roncevérte’s pear wine. Thimbleweed sent every guest home with a Christmas gift.

Roncevérte and his assistant bustled about, clearing their own dishes and utensils away in a flash, and even whisked Thimbleweed’s own dishes down to the kitchen.

“A merry Christmas to you all!” cried Roncevérte, giving a bow to Thimbleweed. Then he flourished his hat at Gilthorp, and handed Guido the bill, along with a Christmas card.

“Thank you so much!” Thimbleweed bubbled. “You are a most excellent cook, Mr. Roncevérte!”

“Thank you, kind sir. A merry holiday!” Then he was gone.

“Oh, this was the best party I’ve ever had, thanks to my two dearest friends!” said Thimbleweed hugging Guido with glee; then Gilthorp picked him up into a bear-hug.

“The best party ever!” Gilthorp agreed.

“And the best Christmas ever,” smiled Guido.

Everyone thought so. The boy Bram helped the servants all evening, and had been called adorable by everyone. It had been the grandest evening he’d ever had, and he was stuffed with wonderful food. Shaquita-Marie the pet dragon had been on her best behavior all night, and had not begged for a single table-scrap. But she was an excellent conversationalist, and had gotten quite a few table-scraps anyway.

Late that night, the three friends sat in front of the fire. Guido read aloud a Christmas story from one of Thimbleweed’s books. Thimbleweed listened and sipped on his eighth glass of pear wine. Gilthorp dozed contentedly, since he couldn’t hear Guido’s reading. Shaquita-Marie sat on the rug and listened, as well; but then she saw Cook approaching the doorway.

“Shaquita-Marie,” whispered Cook. “I have something special for you. It’s in the kitchen.”

“Something for me? Oh, joy!” She scampered after Cook, her talons clicking on the floor.

Down in the kitchen, Cook set a bowl on the floor. “A venison pie, baked especially for you.”

“Oh, it’s the best Christmas gift ever!” the dragon squealed. She happily began to eat.

Cook then saw that Bram had fallen asleep at the table, his head pillowed on clean dish towels. She gently picked him up. “Little dear, all tuckered out. Come, I’ll put you to bed.”

His head on her shoulder, he murmured sleepily, “Merry Christmas, Sarah.”

She kissed his hair. “Merry Christmas, Bram. This is indeed, the best Christmas ever.”

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