Monday, 29 August 2011

How the toy maker died

There used to be an old toymaker.  He built a house in the middle of a wood, beside a beautiful birch tree and a tiny stream that twinkled by.  He was alone in the world and he carved a family of wooden toys and dropped one of his tears in each of their hearts, and at night time they came alive, and talked to him, and sang him songs and kept him company.
  Just down the stream, and not very far away, two trolls lived.  They built a rundown shack, and they were poor and mean fellows, and hunted rabbits in the wood, and were hungry and lean.  They were ugly, bony men, with long arms and groping fingers, and their hair was red and tatty, and their eyes large and black.
  They spent all day grumbling over their lot in life, until one struck up an idea on how to enrich their pitiable way of life.

‘Now our lives are miserable as you well know,’ said the troll. ‘We’ve had a meagre way of life for a long time; but here’s a plan I’ve had, and I’ve been thinking it through all night.
  ‘-NOW!  There’s the toymaker,’ he started. ‘You know the one I mean. The really odd fellow who lives up from us, just a little way along the stream. Now he’s a strange one, as I’ve said before now, however, it is said he sleeps on a great box of gold! He’s as rich as kings, they say. Now he won’t share any of that with the likes of us so I say we go and take it from him!’
  ‘Do we ask him for it first?’ asked the second troll, but the first troll shook his head.  ‘I say we kill him.  I say we knock him out while he sleeps.  And the best part is no one knows about him, except us of course.  No one will ever know we did the deed!  And the gold will be ours afterwards!’
  ‘I says I like that!’ said the second troll - ‘Sneak into his house!’ he said, ‘knock him over the head!  Yes!  Good idea!’
  They both jingled with excitement.

They waited till nightfall, and with their blood pumping ready for the hunt, they followed the tingling stream, to the house where the toymaker lived.
  The trolls, with their clubs in their hands, waited for the lights in the windows to dim, and then the leader nudged his friends and said, ‘Right!  He’s gone to bed!  Follow my lead!’
  The door was locked, but they were able to snap open the window.  It was an old house, and not strong enough to keep the heavy handed trolls at bay, and so the two easily pulled themselves in, and they crept along the kitchen floor, along the passageways, to the dark room where the toymaker presently slept.
  The two trolls stood either side the bed, and after a One! Two! Three!  They clobbered him to death!  They bashed him till the bed beneath him broke in pieces!  Feathers in the sheets swam peacefully and lithely around the air.  The moon leaned out of the clouds, and turned the room silver, and red, where the blood lay.
  They rummaged about the mess and after seconds the trolls found their quarry.  It was the box beneath the bed, the treasure trove the toymaker slept on!  The troll leader held it up triumphantly in the moonlight, and he nudged his friend and said, ‘Let’s get out back home, lad.  We’ve done good this day!’

But in the sunshine of the following day the two trolls sat miserably around the box with their heads bowed in their hands.  They had spent all night and all morning trying to open it.  But they couldn’t, not for anything!  Neither had been expecting this.  The troll leader bashed the box over his head.  ‘Curse this thing!’ he shouted.  ‘What a nasty trick to play on us!  But know this, brother!’ and he made a pledge, ‘I will open this box whether it kills me!’

In the house where the toymaker used to live, there were no lights, no songs, no cheery talk, just dust and gloom, and an unhappy quiet.
  His old toys were sat on the shelf, one beside the other in a row, looking on their dead master, and each one shed a tear, but they would never bring him to life, as he had done with them.  They whispered, and whistled, and waiting and watched, and when the sun dragged the light away, and the sky was darkness and stars, the toys helped each other down from the desktop, and together, in single file, set out into the wood.  They followed the ways of the stream, to the shack where the trolls lived.  They were sleeping now around a campfire, and the leader was resting his head on the box.
  With a cautious care not known to those of humankind, they slipped the box from under the sleeping trolls’ head, and then they opened the lid, for the box was made for them by the toymaker in person, and only the toys knew the special way it opened.  Inside the box was a pouch of ground dust produced from the seeds of a deadly flower.  They sprinkled the dust on each of the trolls; putting the dust in their mouths and ears and eyes, and that night both trolls died.
  Like the toymaker, they would never see another dawn.
  Before the sun rose the toys put wood around the dead trolls and put a fire on the bodies.  They waited till the early hours of the morning, till the trolls were turned to cinder and dust, and then they worked with such subtle haste, taking every single fragment of the trolls with their tiny hands, till they had bundled the remains into the box, and then closed the lid down over them.
  They returned back to the toymakers house, carrying the box over their tiny wooden shoulders, and they did not stop till they reached home.  They put the box under the broken bed where the toymaker slept, and there the trolls remain, to this very day.

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