Part I The First Travels
A Cremien is a tiny person no taller than your thumb. We hear so little of these Cremiens for they are very silent, and you hardly hear them coming. At the dead of night is the only time when a Cremien is likely to appear. A Cremien will only be found where there is rye, for they wear yellow shirts all around the place (unless in the shower) in colour of the grain, for, because of that, no Giant will be able to capture them unless they wear red which will stand out in the yellowish rye and any Giant will be able to seize them for no absolute reason, for Giants, as any Cremien will say, are always doing a thing without any intention nor reason for it. Amidst all the vast lands of rye in Hollandwood, in what the Hollandwood Giants would call ‘Kay’s Rye’ after Vladimir Kay, former vicar, known most famously for his wonderful wedding prayers, there was a little community of Cremiens among the rye. In these busy Cremiens there was a family of these tiny people no taller than your thumb. They were the Caldwell family. Were the Caldwell family rich? Certainly. I have never heard Mrs Caldwell, a good-mannered woman, be mentioned under any other name except for ‘the bride’. Despite this, they did not look up to society, and they lived by a well, which is how they got the name ‘Caldwell.’ Mr Caldwell held an estate in the Northern parts of Kay’s Rye and lived in a hole-in-the-ground exactly like the other citizens, although he was certainly wealthy enough to inhabit a home better than that. But even though it was a hole in the ground, looking from in the outside, the inside was beautiful. The pairs of polished shoes, no larger than your fingernail (if a Cremien itself was no larger than your thumb then the foot would be about the size of your fingernail), was made of a rare leather, the finest in the fields. When our tale begins, it is a windy autumn day and the year is 1881. Blair Caldwell, the only boy of the Cremien Caldwells, was being shone on the face by the morning sunlight, as he lay in his little haybed. He looked out of his window, where rye, a thing he expected to see, was yellow and healthy. He was content to smell the fresh rye outside. Blair Caldwell strode down the stairs where Mrs Caldwell was. “Your dear father has gone to his donkeywork,” said Mrs Caldwell as Blair came down. “He is running late again, and his director will fire him if he’s late one more time. But the boss of his always says that and never means it. Pastry?” and Blair Caldwell was soon served a plate of pastry from Elizabeth. “Now, Blair, I’ll be off now. I’ve got millets to spread around the place to keep away the birds. You know how much bother a bird can be, Blair,” said Mrs Caldwell and she made a quick departure. Blair slowly got up from his chair and wandered over to the window. His mother was a very nimble woman and had gone a few well metres by then. Blair Caldwell cautiously opened the front door as the smell of fresh rye wafted into his hole-in-the-ground. Blair’s nose was not very sharp, for a Cremien has a very small nose (being small people themselves) and the only smell sharp to them is the smell of a horse’s mane, and, despite living along it all his life, the Caldwell boy could little smell the rye. He sauntered off, waving to the sparrows as they tweeted by, singing their symphonies, pecking at seeds and resting upon the gables of old-fashioned lady’s houses. The poplars were bleeding a reddish, autumnal colour (for it was autumn). Within moments, the Caldwell boy had wandered away from the vast, unowned lands of rye and had stumbled upon a brook in the Wood, or Hog Pines, as the Cremiens who lived in Kay’s Rye called it. Mr Caldwell had invited Blair into his chamber to tell him a bit about Hog Pines (along with a warning not to go there). “Don’t you think of it,” warned the Caldwell man. “You think of it, you go to it, and a few seconds later, you become a splendid spider feast on a plate. You got that, Blair?” and the boy remembered that he’d nodded to that – and a nod meant he shall obey his father’s words consequently. It was a nod which Cremiens said was a ‘sacred promise,’ and that one shall keep, and that way of thinking, Blair thought to head home otherwise he’ll be spider feast. He turned around, to find an ogrelike creature waiting for him. It was a spider, Blair a few moments later realised. Hurriedly, he grabbed a stick and prodded it at the spider. A sudden moment later, the spider pounced, merely missing Blair Caldwell, who had been unexpectedly pushed into the brook. The wet Cremien clambered onto a mossy rock. A spider was certainly afraid of water and would drown exactly like a Cremien would, for the spider had no intention to cross the brook, due to how fast it was. He would, by certain, drown in it. Blair had escaped, as he sat on the rock. He thought it was better to head back, for he did not want a repeat of spiders. He slowly got off the rock… but he slipped, for the rock was far too mossy! Blair felt himself sinking, as he desperately tried to swim back onto shore, but a current swept him off his feet, sending him to float down the brook. A twig was drifting beside him, and that he grabbed onto, and climbed up on. The wet boy was now drifting down the brook on a twig, and it was much more peaceful that way. He looked back. Where he had come from was now a long way, but he was surprised a bit already that he was still in one piece after all the traumata; that spider would’ve ripped him into shreds if he hadn’t fallen into the brook. It was soon noon. Blair Caldwell could see it was an awfully long brook, for he had been on the twig for now four hours and the brook had finally come to a steadier part, where it seemed to become a lake – there was little flow in the brook by then. By the bank, later he saw, was a bungalow. It was ridiculously small and seemed like the home of a poor Giant. As the wind carried the twig over to shore, Blair hopped off his twig and marvelled at the bungalow. It was incredibly old, nearly as if it’d been passed down seven generations of Giants. At that moment, the Caldwell boy noticed that a silhouette was perched high upon the rooftop of the bungalow. It was a black cat. Blair was not concerned of the cat, for he did not know what it was, nor did any of the other Cremiens who lived in Kay’s Rye. Blair Caldwell went up to the bungalow and he climbed up to a windowsill and looked into the bungalow. Inside there was a bearded Giant, whose thumb was taller than Blair himself. It was quite definite that the Giant was what they call a woodcutter. He had a fine row of axes and on his right hand was an infection, beginning to recover, from a wood splinter whilst out in the woods. In the wood the bungalow was in, were many headless stumps. This was inferred to be the works of the woodcutter. Blair Caldwell quietly slipped through an open window. Blair was being overly cautious, hiding behind a pot plant, eyeing this Giant, smoking a cigar, as he sat down on a comfortable armchair. His eyes were closed, and he seemed to be in a peaceful daydream. Blair Caldwell, on seeing that the Giant little knew that he was in the bungalow, crept out from behind the pot plant, and leapt off the little tabletop the pot plant was on. He saw behind him was a cat. It was the cat perched on the rooftop earlier. It glared at the boy. It bared its silvery teeth. The cat purred and pounced, nearly onto Blair, who had a chance to run away and took it wisely. He hid in the mantelpiece, until the cat went off to mind its own business rather than chasing a poor Caldwell boy. Once the cat curled up in a tight corner of the bungalow as Blair Caldwell got out of all the soot and dusted himself off, coughing. By then the woodcutter had woken up. He, a very astounded man, stared at the tiny person in great amazement. The woodcutter had white hair and white beard and moustache (nearly brushed). Blair could see there was some sort of sparkling sensation in his eyes which made him seem an upright man, open to society, in a decent way, despite that he was poor. “I am very astounded,” the man started to say. “My eyes must be tricking me. But, ah, I know that tiny people only come out in Gulliver’s Travels… or may I be in a dream? I’m hoping I haven’t scared you, tiny person,” trying to hide his bewilderment. “No your eyes are most certainly not tricking you,” said Blair, slightly offended. “I am a Cremien, and I see I am no taller than your thumb. My name is Blair Caldwell,” and a small bow he gave (this was a tradition of Cremiens). “I am Ferdinand E. Lupus Seamus,” said the bearded man. “Call me Mr Seamus. I will prefer that very much, Blair Caldwell. Please don’t mind my puss here. She’s a week old, you know. But be aware of her. Goodness knows when she’ll pounce on you!” “Yes, Ferdinand E. Lupus Seamus,” said Blair Caldwell, “I suppose I’ll adapt to that cat of yours. Where are your neighbours? I cannot see any other house out the windows for hundreds and hundreds of miles – I suppose your only neighbour is trees.” “Oh! Well… I don’t suppose I have a neighbour for at least five-hundred miles. It can a bit be lonely at times, but to sit down in the wood and to see the squirrels and listen to a loud owl hoot each night is not much different to chatting away with a neighbour.” “Well you really mustn’t be a woodcutter,” said Blair. “You’re cutting down the trees. I say, it is awfully disturbing for the woodland creatures to cut down the trees, you know. You better quit. It’s exactly like cutting down your neighbour’s house.” “I suppose… I haven’t got out my axes for a few years,” said Mr Seamus. “I’ve been very mindful of the wild beasts. But I cannot stay warm in winter. What a shame I can’t knit. I’ve tried, but I ended up pricking my finger, and the other day I tried once more, then I lost my needle, and the next day I went to find the needle, I stepped on it incidentally, so I ended up pricking my foot. But I suppose knitting is women’s work.” “I doesn’t have to be,” argued Blair. “Show me how you knit,” and Mr Seamus did so. He picked up a pair of needles and some string and started to knit. After a few moments Blair was suddenly started by the terrible knitter saying, “Oh blow!” “Pricked your hand, I suppose?” assumed Blair, not surprised. “Are you alright, sir? Do you need a bandage, Mr Ferdinand E. Lupus Seamus? I hope not… perhaps we may give up knitting for a few days if you prefer, Mr Ferdinand E. Lupus Seamus.” “Pricked my hand? No, Blair, I pricked my finger, there’s a difference,” replied the old man. “Perhaps I put down the cotton string and the needles. It’s not until three months until winter. Maybe I’ll be fortunate enough to move into a larger, more populous town where they’ll provide me with warmth… but then I’ll have to leave the wood. I say, must not we be haven’t morning tea by now? Well, quite so… ginger biscuits, it seems like it,” and he went to the oven and got out a tray of ginger biscuits. After tea, they went out to the brook to fish. Mr Seamus’s cat came along. “Puss Velvet will behave herself today,” promised the man. “Come along now, Puss Velvet,” and the cat came perched up on Mr Seamus’s shoulder as she liked it. After they caught seven or so fish out of the brook (they had to get back in for the bear had took over where Blair, a cat and Mr Seamus fished) they were content and carried back home to fry. Puss Velvet, who cannot resist doing it (being a cat) grabbed a fried fish and gobbled it up instantly, before Mr Seamus could stop her.