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  • Writer's pictureOliver Sun


Updated: Aug 21, 2022

Chapter 2 Frosty Season


Blair Caldwell found Mr Seamus a very pleasant man to be with. All’s well ends well, as a famous saying says. But this proves that is not the case, for Blair and Mr Seamus were all well and ended quite roughly, when autumn passed and it was wintertime. Leaves withered and slowly fell off the poplars, which lost their reddish colour as snow fell and the foxes had to stay in for the cold season. Mr Seamus thought it frosty – for he had been opposed by Blair Caldwell in the matter of woodcutting. “Why don’t you try to knit?” asked Blair. “I suppose you’re doing a slight bit of effort I say, old man, in your knitting. After all, how were you able to endure the past winters? I suppose, if you didn’t do any woodcutting, you would be frozen to ice, eh?” “I haven’t taken out my axe for a long time. I haven’t woodcut for, perhaps, four years by now. But last winter, this is how I endured the yearly frost. My mother, who is much better at knitting than I, sent me gloves and sweaters of a warm wool. It’s not possible, a single bit, now, you know. She’s off somewhere on a business trip, and the delivery fees are high.” “Before you woodcut and your mother sent you winter garments?” mused Blair. “Ah… I began to woodcut when I was sixteen and before that, I lived with my parents. So, I’m not really sure,” said Mr Seamus, “But it’s not supposedly cold, is it?” although a wicked little reply came to his mind, ‘it is supposedly cold’. “Maybe should forage around outside,” suggested Blair. “Well at least the cat is fine. It is enough for the cat to endure,” as he tried to pat the tabby on his pink nose but the cat miaowed in discomfort and the Caldwell boy drew his hand away instantly, in the terror of being bitten. Mr Seamus reluctantly got up and put on his boots, going outside, as a terrible blizzard commenced and the wintery winds brutally blew against Mr Seamus’s face. Blair had to be tucked in the old man’s pouch where it was warm. Puss Velvet sat on the shoulder of the woodcutter, and they wandered for many miles. A two-hour stroll in the blizzardy weather passed. “Where are we?” asked Blair. “We’re not… we haven’t… lost our way, by any chance… what I want to say is I’m freezing to ice, and I don’t want to.” “Don’t you say we’ve lost our way, Blair,” said Mr Seamus, half-chuckling, half-fearful. “I know these woods better than you… ah! Must be this way… I remember firs this way. Oh dear, Blair Caldwell, we’ve lost our way!” “Pshaw!” murmured Blair. “What rotten fortune! Oh bother… we’ll never get back to your cosy bungalow. May the good Lord have mercy on us!” and indeed the good Lord did, a matter of fact, have mercy on them, for, soon unveiled from the snow, was a hole in the ground. Not the Cremien-sort of ‘hole-in-the-ground,’ no, for this hole in the ground is spelt without any hyphens. It was more of a fox’s burrow. “Ah… I don’t think anyone would mind a short visit and we’ll be on our way,” said the woodcutter as he climbed into the hole. It was not as moist as he thought it may’ve been and was over his expectations. As Mr Seamus climbed in deeper, it grew brighter until he came across a small room of lamps and piles of novels. Mr Seamus did not have to be on his elbows and knees, for he could stand up, without his head bumping into anything, in the room. On an armchair by a hearth was a fox wearing glasses and a posh little suit with a cane. He had put his cane by the roaring fire and had a heavy novel in his lap. He was stunned to find a trespasser in his burrow. “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” he screamed, in a hysteric tone, holding out his cane to threaten Mr Seamus with. “My name is Ferdinand E. Lupus Seamus, and this is Blair Caldwell,” replied the man calmly. “I cannot resist the cold breeze outside and I seem to have wandered away into the woods a slight bit too far and I hope I haven’t caused you any bother. Pshaw, I guess I have caused you bother, then. Pray ask, what is your name? Are you new to the neighbourhood?” “Pierre is my name. Pierre F. Edmond Foxtail,” said the fox. “I have lived in this hole a few years ago, so I am not new to the neighbourhood, and I shall live beyond my life too for my burrow had been habited by all my family tree. I apologise for my behaviour. Do come in and have a sit-down and a cup of tea, would you?” “Splendiferous,” said Mr Seamus contently. “Oh, but I don’t like cats, you see,” said Pierre. “Cats give me lice, and I’m a fox, who are very sensitive to lice. Please leave your moggy outside, please, they give my children a fright, and I don’t want my three darling children and my darling wife to be startled.” “Well I can’t leave him out there, there’s a blizzard, you see,” said Mr Seamus. “Cats are rather sensitive to cold temperatures. Maybe I let her stay in this room while we have tea,” and he put Puss Velvet on an armchair. Pierre led them into the kitchen where his wife and three pups were. “Ah, Pierre,” cried the she-fox. “Goodness you’re here. Pygmy seems to have vanished I say, and I don’t know where. Oh, do help us, Pierre, otherwise Pygmy might be a dead fox somewhere!” “I thought one of the pups were missing,” remarked Pierre. “All morning, in fact. Say he’s hiding, then, probably pulling a prank. You know Pygmy… when Pippy and Philly were playing cards, Pygmy helped himself to our stash of roast rabbits. Fortunately, I’ve been out and butchered a few rabbits to roast. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for Pygmy.” “Very well to meet you,” said Mr Seamus, shaking hands with the she-fox, for it really was the time for him to speak up. “My name is Ferdinand E. Lupus Seamus… pray ask, what is yours, dear madame? I hear you are this gentle-fox’s wife.” “I am Elizabeth D. Daphne-Walters Foxtail,” replied the gentle-fox’s wife. “Mrs Foxtail at your service. But I do prefer to be called simply Elizabeth, maybe Eliza. El? Ah! I have got it! You shall call me E. How’s that? E is a perfectly plain sensible name.” “Elizabeth is fine,” said Blair, climbing out of Mr Seamus’s pouch to say a good proper salutation. “Splendiferous to meet you, Mrs Foxtail. My name is Blair Caldwell… don’t you stare at me like that. What is it with everyone staring at me?” “You’re… so… tiny,” spluttered Elizabeth, trying not to be impolite in saying that. “Why, are you a shrunken dwarf without a beard? Maybe not. Dwarves always say, ‘with no beard, you can’t have life.’ I suppose it is pretty silly, those dwarves. Always blabbering random whatsits when they’re fake.” “Dwarfs? What dwarfs? There is no such thing as dwarfs, you superstitious fox,” an astonished Mr Seamus said. “Are you well? Why, there are no dwarfs around here.” “Oh, yes there are,” argued Pierre, as he grabbed some whiskey out of the fridge. “Well, my friend, let me tell you about Hazel Hollow, a mountain six miles from our burrow. I say, I’ve been there once… but didn’t see any dwarfs. Anyway, there is a pothole in the mountain. If you dive into the pothole, you will sink, for the water in the pothole is able to flow and will carry you to where the dwarfs are. You are able to breathe in it. We do not know why – but it is dwarf magic.” That moment, Pygmy came out from behind the couch to listen to the tale. “Pygmy! I say, were you hiding? Oh, you defiant creature!” cried Elizabeth, half indignantly, as she hurried over to the pup. “Pygmy! You really gave me a fright, you little thing.” “As I was saying, it is dwarf magic,” repeated Pierre. “You will find many crystals and glittery bits and pieces. Be careful of the dwarfs though… they’re very, very wicked. If a being goes near a dwarf, they get out their scythe and batter you up with it… and if you are still alive, they get a whip and whip you with it five-hundred-and-sixty times. Beware though, after the whip comes…” Pippy, one of the pups, fainted. “An axe of the finest metal… they’ll whack you with it until you’re lifeless, which will end you for sure. As you can see, a dwarf is very harsh,” and Philly, another pup, a young one (the youngest) fainted, along with Pygmy. “How atrocious and vile,” remarked Blair. “Ghastly! I won’t be messing with a dwarf, you know… but I suppose I wouldn’t be, for before I really can mess with it, it’ll squeeze the life out of me. How about we have lunch?” “Perfect timing. We have roast rabbit and turnips,” replied Elizabeth merrily. “Pierre! I need you to serve it up, would you? Oh, but I don’t suppose the tiny boy will be able to eat out of his big bowl, will he? We shall serve a piece of his lunch using a bottlecap. Yes, it’ll be the right size, won’t it? Go on.” They had lunch in silence, as Pierre and Elizabeth and the pups usually did it, for little did they socialise very well – not in public either, they were a very taciturn family. But a fox shall always eat in silence, for it was the tradition. All the silence was broken by Blair, who said, “Well tell me about the neighbourhood, my very good madame and very good sir… along with pups, tell me about the neighbour shall you?” and Pierre replied (taciturnly), “Well, I suppose we haven’t had neighbours a few years from now. Miss Bonnet was the last – she moved to live with her cousin a year ago. Miss Bonnet’s cousin Brougham had psychological and perceptual problems.” “What was Miss Bonnet like?” inquired Mr Seamus. “She was a very benevolent she-bear,” replied Elizabeth. “Knocked on every single door she visited and went to Sherwood Cathedral every day and dear Miss Bonnet needed to walk five miles to Sherwood Cathedral to hear the sermon and it was always so crowded. I remember going to Sherwood Cathedral when I was twenty-five… it was where I first met a fox named Pierre. We held our wedding at Sherwood one year later, you know, and Miss Bonnet was a candlelighter. She wore a beautiful dress.” “Not to mention Miss Bonnet has five aunts. Five dead aunts, I should say,” said Pierre. “What disappointment Miss Bonnet had to move to live with Brougham her cousin,” remarked Mr Seamus. “Perhaps we should finish our feast in silence,” and they did for a few minutes until Blair said, “How dull this is. I really think we should have some music on,” and so Pierre started the gramophone. Once they ended the feast, Elizabeth got up and went to the room where Blair and Mr Seamus first met Pierre, where the hearth still had its everlasting fire in it. Elizabeth got a bit of a shock, for then came the holler of an ‘argh’ and an ‘eek.’ “Elizabeth? Are you right?” inquired Pierre, as he got up from his chair. “Hm! I better go see her. Maybe she missed her brother’s wedding or something like that. You know a fusspot she is,” and so the gentle-fox strode over, to see Elizabeth on the floor. “Dear oh dear, she’s fainted. What gave her such an…” and that moment, Puss Velvet came beside him, with a small tail of a mouse dangling out of his mouth. “Goodness,” continued Pierre. “Come over quickly, Mr Seamus and Blair! It’s your cat and it’s eaten a mouse!” “Congrats, dear Pussy,” said Mr Seamus enthusiastically. “What a noble mouse-catcher you are. Thank him, my dearest Pierre, or your cheese would’ve been stolen.” “THOSE MICE WERE OURS!” shrieked Pierre, sobbing. “Oh dear… I’m terribly sorry, Mr Pierre F. Edmond Foxtail,” Spit the poor rodent out at once, Pussy,” snapped Mr Seamus, and Puss did, an unconscious mouse, at least.

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