1802. During the course of this year Ludwig van Beethoven will publish his Piano Sonata No. 14 in Vienna and Marie Tussaud will for the first time exhibit her wax sculptures in London. Much is going on in the world and there is beauty and creation all around while at the same time many countries are caught up in wars. Lydia Monroe knows very little about these things. She prefers to be blissfully unaware of what the rest of the world is up to.
Lydia is happy to walk through the field of wild grass behind her parent’s home. It’s a wonderful and unkept place where the wild flowers have colorfully exploded over the land and made it look like nature has painted the scene with its rainbow of brilliant colors. The air smells delicious and fresh. And today there is just a light breeze, enough to blow her hair about and keep her from getting too warm. It is a very nice spring day indeed.
In Lydia’s hand is her favorite basket that holds the pieces of her traveling tea party. From party to party she never knows exactly where she’ll find the perfect tea table in nature. She’s always thoughtful to bring enough to serve three extra people just in case one of these days someone comes to join her. This is the only thing that makes her sad some days: The lack of people to share this beautiful time of the year and her tea with.
While walking through a particularly thick bit of wild grass something hidden within it is disturbed and rushes up into the air as the little girl moves through it. Quite suddenly there is a haze of white floating wisps that Lydia is happy to believe are pale fairies, at least until they gently move on the breeze and find the little girl’s nose. The nose is not humored by these tickling pale fairies one bit and decides to give her sinuses a good kick. The little girl’s face scrunches up and a massive HA-CHOO! explodes out of nowhere. The sneeze is comically large and loud, almost knocking the poor little girl onto her bum.
Lydia’s eyes blink back against her threatening tears and she takes several deep breaths to make sure all the nose annoying wisps are gone. Quickly she moves out of that patch of upsetting wild grass and into a small clearing. Obviously there is something in there that has a vendetta against the little girl’s nose and she will not allow it to cause her afternoon to be spent sneezing. Sneezing has no place at a tea party.
As the little girl steps from the clearing she hears a strange noise low to the ground. Grrr! Grrr! it sounds like in a very small and squeaky voice. Lydia looks all about and sees no one there. “Excuse me?” she calls out to the empty clearing. No one answers back so she turns back to her flat patch and continues walking. There again comes more grr’ing and this time it is louder.
Lydia stops and sets her basket down. The noise is vexing and she doesn’t like to be vexed. “Alright now.” the little girl calls out to the unseen noise maker. “I don’t have time to play games with anyone or anything. I have a tea party to set up.”
Behind her there is rustling in the tall grass and there she sees what looks like a small pair of yellow eyes watching her. This is a strange thing to see and the eyes are like no wee furry creatures she normally comes upon out there. So the little girl kneels down so that she’s at eye level with the mysterious gazer. “Who are you then?” she asks it.
There is a pop of scrambling noise and then suddenly the tall wild grass blades part like a curtain and a tiny creature bursts from it and starts running at full charge at the little girl. Lydia scrunches up her face in mild confusion as she looks at the charging strange thing. She’s not sure it its meant to be frightening or comical, but still strange all the same. Its skin is quite red, like it was left to bake in the sun for too long. It’s wearing odd clothes that appear to be made out of burlap: Knickers and a short vest so poorly made all of the X stitches are clearly visible and barely holding all bits together. But most strange is the two tiny horns coming out of the top of its hairless head. It might have been more frightening if it wasn’t the size of a toddler, also sharing a bit of a toddler’s lack of coordination and grace.
“Grr! Grr!” It says in that tiny voice and raises its short arms as though it means to be threatening. The tiny red creature puts up quite a show of irritability and fuss until it hits a small clump of up-turned ground and stumbles forward in a spectacularly clumsy fashion. It ends up face down in the grass. “Gr…err” it whimpers.
The little girl shakes her head as she crosses her arms across her chest. She is not impressed. “Well you’re not a very graceful thing are you? What’s with all this grr’ing? Are you trying to be scary?”
The tiny red creature looks up and scowls at the little girl. It gets to its feet and swats at the dirt and grass on its burlap clothes. “I’m here to torment you. I was growling at you!” The creature seems quite perturbed.
“That’s supposed to be growling?” Lydia laughs softly. “I’m afraid you’re not very good at it are you?” And what’s all this about tormenting me? What have I ever done to you? I’m known to be quite pleasant to anyone, or thing for that matter, who I come across.”
The tiny red creature frowns, putting its claw-like hands on its hips. It looked greatly annoyed with the little girl’s question. “You summoned me here didn’t you? That’s how it works. You say my name and I appear here and torment you till you go insane. Those are the rules.”
Lydia shook her head slowly, amused but also confused. “Those are stupid rules. You have to come torment me just because I said your name? That makes no sense at all. And besides, I’m fairly sure I did not say your name.”
“You did too!” The tiny red creature stomped its hooved foot.
Lydia stood up, arms still crossed and her face growing irritated. “I certainly did not. I haven’t said a word while I’ve been walking. Not one word Mr. Tiny Red Thing!”
“Fibber!” The tiny red creature said with great indignation. “You had to or I wouldn’t be here! That’s how it works! I didn’t make the rules I just have to obey them.”
Lydia put her hands on her hips, now very annoyed at being called a fibber. “What’s your name then?” she challenged.
The tiny red creature tried to straighten up to its full size and look proud. “My name is Hah-chew.” it said.
This caused the little girl to giggle. It was a very funny thing wasn’t it? It was just a little absurd. “Well I know for a fact that I’ve never actually said Hah-chew, till just then of course. I did sneeze though. Can’t you tell the difference between someone saying your name and sneezing?” she laughed.
Hah-chew glared back at the little girl but slowly its upset started to drain from its tiny red body. Its shoulders slumped as its face grew sad. “No.” it said quite meekly. “I was just happy to think someone was calling me. I mean… its an uncommon name sure but I thought perhaps it was still written in some old book up here where someone might stumble upon it. It’s been a long time since anyone has though and I get lonely. I just wanted to be the best me I could be since someone had called me. By sneeze or not.”
Lydia gave Hah-chew a lop-sided smile. It was a very silly series of events but it was here now and she too had been lonely. “Well Hah-chew my name is Lydia. Would you like to come to my tea party? I have enough for us both.”
Hah-chew thought about this a moment and slowly nodded its head. Lydia motioned for it to follow her and together they walked to the edge of the clearing where the ground was the flattest and a tall wall of wild flowers and grass acted as shade from the sun. Lydia took a folded sheet from her basket and fluffed it out so the wind could catch it and spread it out. Slowly she brought it down to cover the ground.
The little girl began to set out the pieces of her tea party and stopped only when she started to feel an annoying poking on the back of her leg. She looked behind her to find Hah-chew repeatedly poking her with its claw finger. It reminded her of a chicken peck.
“What are you doing?!”
Hah-chew laughed nervously and stopped. “Sorry. Force of habit, you know? With the tormenting and everything.”
“Well you’re here for tea now, not tormenting. So cut it out.” The little girl turned back to her tea setting, calling back over her shoulder. “Perhaps if you worked on your people skills people would call you by more often. Nobody likes to have someone drop by if all they want to do is torment them.”
As the sun rose to its highest point in the sky the little girl and her new tiny demon friend sat at the make-shift tea party and sipped orange spice tea while they ate petite white cakes with marmalade spread on their tops. Both were quite pleased to have someone to talk to. Lydia talked about her grandmother, who was both a babysitter and school teacher for her much of the time. Hah-chew talked about how Hell was a little warm for its liking and how it had grown tired of the sulfur smell. It was quite taken by the spiced orange scent of the tea. It spent as much time sniffing the light amber brew as it did sipping it.
“Well you know…” Lydia started to say through a mouth full of cake and jam. “My grandmother could sew you up some nicer clothes and we could say you’re my cousin from another town… with a skin condition? We’ll say you got a sun burn from the infamous Port Loffy Tanning Incident of 1801 and anyone who brings attention to your burn is simply a poor mannered brute. And you could wear a little hat!”
Hah-chew liked this idea but soon was frowning. “I can’t. The rules say I come when I’m called, torment and then go back home. I would like to stay though. It is very nice here and you are very wonderful to talk to. I’ve never broken the rules though. I don’t know how.”
Lydia nodded, seeing this problem but also seeing a happy middle. “True, true, you did say that. However, you also said you had to torment me until I went insane. So that would seem to me that you can stay for quite awhile because I’m quite far from going insane. And frankly, I’m not sure they’ll even miss you Hah-chew. You don’t seem terribly good at your job.” The little girl flashed him a marmalady smile. “If they do call you back I’ll just say your name proper and bring you right back. Those are the rules, right?”
Hah-chew agreed and was delighted by the idea of being able to stay and sleep in a proper bed (it wasn’t exactly sure if a wardrobe drawer with a pillow in it was actually a proper bed but it did sound comfy) and wear comfortable clothes. It sipped its tea, all smiles and scary looking teeth.
On this day in tea 1802 two very different creatures met because of a sneeze and a very unlikely friendship was born. — Pagona Talbot
*This particular one was greatly influenced by a Young Ones marathon. 😉
is copyright 2016 Bethalynne Bajema. All Rights Reserved.
*Photograph above is found on many different tea party planning sites.
Original source is unknown at the moment.