It’s Fiction Friday and we’re back with another episode of the Man in the Cupboard. Enjoy!
To read the previous episode, click here!
To start at the beginning, click here!
Mike crouched down and squeezed his way through the narrow earthen tunnel that led to Auntie Marie’s burrow. Tilly and Jacob had already hurried through ahead of him, eager to tell Auntie of their visitor. Smells of roasted parsnip and nuts drifted up the tunnel reminding Mike that he had missed lunch in all the excitement of the day.
The tunnel opened into a warm cozy burrow that was thankfully large enough for Mike to stand in, if just barely. Tilly and Jacob had hung their belongings on pegs in the wall and now stood at a long low basin washing away the dirt from their paws and snouts. Auntie Marie stood over a large pot wielding a wooden spoon as long as her arm. Strands of silver flecked the fur at the tips of her ears and tail. When she saw him she stuck the spoon in her ruffled apron and rushed toward the door.
“Why isn’t this a treat! It’s been ages since I’ve had a proper visitor. If only I’d known earlier I would have made something special. I make a wonderful seed tartlet with the most delicious crab apple sauce you could imagine. But look at me gabbing away! Go hang up your things and get washed up, supper will be ready in no time.”
She bustled back to her pot as quickly as she had come leaving Mike with his mouth hanging open. He had meant to introduce himself properly, and thank her for her hospitality but instead only managed a mumbled, “Yes, of course m’am.”
“Look at you. Has Auntie got your tongue?” Tilly chided as she walked by, the fur of her head still damp from washing. “Don’t worry, I’m sure we can get her to stop talking long enough for you to have a chance to have your say.”
“She’s something else, isn’t she?”
“That’s one way of saying it. Make sure you tell her how much you enjoy her cooking and she’ll like you forever.”
“That I will lass, thanks for the advice.”
Jacob had already sat at the tidy table and was helping himself to one of the petite biscuits from a walnut shell serving bowl. Auntie, as expected, was talking in a non stop stream as she tended to her pot, tossing in a pinch of this and that as she went. Mike joined him and was happy to find the biscuits still warm and fragrant. Tilly joined Auntie in the kitchen and prepared the tea, ladling a deep red liquid from the crock next to the fire into four earthenware mugs.
Auntie gave her latest creation a taste and declared that supper was indeed ready, and none too soon, between Mike and Jacob somehow all of the biscuits had disappeared. With steaming bowls set in front of each of them, they set in to eat.
For the first time since they entered Auntie stopped talking.
“Dear Auntie, it is very gracious for you to have me in your lovely home. Thank you. Allow me to introduce myself, I’m Mike Finnegan.”
“He’s a Tinker, Auntie. He’s come searching for other tinkers here in the park.” Tilly added, not giving Auntie a chance to start in again.
“Tinker you say? I haven’t heard of tinkers being in the park for ages. But then again, I only talk with the other animals who live around here. Perhaps there still are a few on the other side of the park, which reminds me, I spoke to Roger this morning. You remember Roger, the meadowlark? Always such a nice chap, he brings me nuts and berries from all over the park. He told me that that he heard that there was another storm on the way and I’d better make sure that all of the burrow was well protected against leaks. Perhaps you could check over the burrow before you head home, Jacob. A nice fit mouse like you would be able to get it done in a minute.”
Jacob made as if to answer but Auntie didn’t stop for a moment.
“Now that that is decided, you must tell me where you are from Mr. Mike. You sound like you come from the Northlands, is that it?”
“Well not exactly -”
She cut him off with a wave of her paw. “No, now that I listen closer I’m thinking perhaps not.”
This exchange went on for the rest of the night, Auntie talking at her guests and no one getting a word in edge wise. Mike was more than grateful when it was time to head to bed, his head throbbed and he had learned nothing that would help him in his quest.
To be continued…
To read the next episode, click here!