For a few seconds, no one moved. Which door had slammed? Who had slammed it?
Then, a chirpy voice called out,
“Sky! Sky dear! Are you here yet?” Grace began to look in the other room.
“Oh! That’s my grandma!” Said Sky, jumping up from the table, “Excuse me for a moment! I’ll just go and let her know we are here.” She ran from the room and across the main entrance lounge hall to the front door. Her fairy dress flowed as if she was flying.
In a sense she was, due to the fact that she was bubbling over with excitement and happiness!
Out to the front porch she ran and called out to her grandmother. “Grandma! We’re here! Over here!”
Grace came straight to the dolls house and kneeled down. She looked at her tiny granddaughter and her hand went straight over her mouth in surprise. With a shocked look on her face she sat down on the floor like a child and didn’t take her eyes off Sky once!
“Hi Grandma! It’s me. Are you okay?” She said, smiling cheekily.
“Yes!” Said Grace, still taking it in that Sky was only three inches tall. She half smiled and half cried with the realisation of it. “Yes, I’m fine dear!” She said, “I just, I…” She stuttered, not knowing where to start.
“It’s okay Grandma, we’re having dinner. Are you joining us?” She motioned to the door.
“What! Join you…” She said, knowing what Sky meant, but finding it hard to imagine, “You mean…”
“Yup! Just a sec!” Said Sky, and ran inside to get the Changeabilitea for her.
She came back out with a large white jug full of tea, and handed it to her.
“What’s this?” She asked.
“Drink it Grandma, it’s okay, it doesn’t taste bad or anything. It’s called Changeabilitea. Hold it under your tongue and think of yourself as tiny, like me…well maybe a bit taller…”
Grace poured the mixture under her tongue as she was told and thought small thoughts. A mist appeared around her that sparkled with all colours and before she could say ‘Oh my goodness!’ down she went with ease and there she was, just a little taller than Sky, like she normally was.
“Oh my heavens!” She said, “Is this really happening!” She looked at her hands and over herself to make sure she was all there.
Sky watched, still with a huge grin on her face. “Are you okay Grandma?” She said, putting her hand on her shoulder.
“Oh Sky! Yes! I’m fine, just a little, bewildered, I guess.” She said, pulling a few funny faces and trying to comprehend what had happening.
“Well, come inside with me, and meet the others!”
She led her startled grandmother in through the doorway. This took her breath away for a moment before she slowly moved forward. “Oh Sky! You know, I always dreamed of walking into this house. I loved it so much as a child. It looks twice as beautiful.”
Sky took her by the hand and led her to the dining room. “Come on, we’ll have a look around later, dinner’s on the table.”
Grace took a little longer to walk through; she was trying to look at everything at a different perspective for the first time in her life. She had believed it and had known it in her heart about the little people, but now, this was real. This was very real! They walked through into the dining room where everyone was seated. They all got up and came to meet her.
Grace was overwhelmed and had tears in her eyes as she was being introduced.
“Everyone, this is my Grandma. Grandma, this is Yellow Flower, Florrel, Malley, Coral, and Curley. And somewhere around here is a little Galah called Dusty.”
Everyone said “Hello, pleased to meet you” before she said, “Please, call me Grace, it’s easier!”
While she took in the look of the nutleys and Yellow Flower, and shook her head quietly to herself in sheer fascination, she sat down where her granddaughter had made a place for her previously.
All the stories that had been passed down through out the ages were true after all! Her whole being had ached with knowing, yet only now, in the twilight of her years, was she experiencing it.
Sky served her and then sat down to join them. She picked up her glass and held it up and said proudly, “To the best Grandma in the whole world! Welcome to our dollhouse, and the world of Nutlidge!” Everyone happily repeated what she said and clinked glasses. There was happy chatter around the table while they all ate heartily.
Curley had run out of steam and was falling asleep at the table and Dusty had come back from checking out the huge house. He climbed up on Curley’s chair and tugged at his hair.
“Hello! Dusty’s the name! Laughter’s my game! Pleased to meet you!” He said, and squawked in excitement. He bobbed up and down as if he were dancing and it make them all laugh.
“Hello Dusty,” said Grace cheerfully, now fairly well adjusted to her strange situation, “Pleased to meet you too.”
“Where have you been Dusty?” Said Yellow Flower, curious as to what he had been getting up to. “You’ve just about missed dinner.” She was opening her bottle of Spotted Gum wine and poured them all a drop, making sure there was a little less in Sky’s glass.
The bird nodded and then swayed his head from side to side, whistled and rubbed his beak on the wood of the chair.
“Chatting to the lady upstairs. Very nice!”
“Oh you must mean the doll,” interrupted Sky, “The one that goes with the male doll over there. I put them in the attic so they wouldn’t frighten anyone.”
“Oh I remember playing with those dolls for hours!” Said Grace, reminiscing. “I called him Alistair and she was Nell and the two children were Billy and Polly. They had some very busy days I can tell you!” She took another sip of the wine, which was delicious. “We use to have it outside the back door at one stage and I made a garden for it. Oh it was so cute, and so lovely. Unfortunately it was in the way a bit and it got moved some years later to here…” Grace was off with the fairies telling a little of her childhood days.
Malley picked the sleeping Curley up and took him to his bedroom. It had been a huge day for him and it was the quietest Sky had seen him. He must have been exhausted.
Sky remembered the ring. “By the way Grandma! Have you ever noticed the ring in the music room cabinet? Curley spotted it earlier on. It’s just beautiful!”
“Yes that’s right!” Added Yellow Flower, who was playing with her long floaty hair. “It had some writing on it too didn’t it Sky?”
“Yeah! It said something like ‘To Constance, all my love…something, something, love Edward.’”
Grace thought for a moment. “Well! Isn’t that interesting? I don’t recall any ring but Constance and Edward built this doll’s house together and decorated it. It’s been in the family ever since. I have read a lot about them over the years. Edward kept an extensive diary as I’ve told you. But the book got lost before I had chance to finish reading it.”
“Come on, let’s go and have another look. It is so beautiful to look at, and the size of it!” Said Yellow Flower, now getting quite tipsy on the Spotted Gum wine.
They all agreed and headed for the stairs when they heard music coming from the music room. They all looked at each other. Malley had rejoined them, and Yellow Flower was there, so, who was playing the piano?
“Who’s that?” Said Florrel.
“Don’t know.” Replied Sky.
“Maybe it’s Henry.” Said Grace.
Sky looked at her frowning. “Henry, in the music room?”
“Well, no. I thought maybe he brought some music down and plugged it in for us. He knew I was coming to join you for dinner tonight.”
“I think that is definitely coming from the music room,” piped up Malley, “I can hear the harp playing.”
“It’s quite lovely too,” said Florrel who also appreciated good music.
They all went down the stairs, huddled together, and quietly giving nervous suggestions as to who it might be.
They finally got to the ground floor where the staircase flowed out into the main sitting room. They slowly walked over to the door of the music room and quietly peered around the corner.
To their greatest surprise, there was a young woman playing the harp. She had long thick red hair, and a beautiful orange dress that reminded Sky of a picture on a card she was given once. She was stunning, and had flowers in her hair. Her playing was beautifully magical and for a moment they all just looked and listened. Then they noticed a young man sitting in the corner in a Chester armchair, playing a lyre that harmonised with the harp beautifully.
He wore a pair of dark pants that came to the knee and a shirt with a ruffled collar and ruffles on the end of his sleeves. He had long white socks on with leather slippers and a gold chain around his neck with a large crystal gumnut hanging from it. His hair was long and tied at the back.
The tune they were playing came to a perfect close and when they had finished playing, the woman stood up from the harp and turned to them. She smiled and said. “Come in, please. Don’t be afraid.”
The man placed his lyre on a stand and came forward to join her.
“Edward’s the name, pleased to meet you all. This is my wife Constance.”
The small group came into the music room, with open mouths. They gathered before the couple.
Grace was the first one to speak. “Oh my! You really are them aren’t you? Oh! I am so honoured to meet you! I am Grace, your great-great-great granddaughter.”
“Grace! It is wonderful to meet you!” They both gave her a hug.”
“This is my granddaughter, Sky.”
“Oh yes we know who you all are, and it’s an absolute pleasure. Sky, it is absolutely marvellous that you set this up. Oh, and welcome Yellow Flower, Malley, Florrel and Coral also, come in, come in. We’ve been watching you and I must say, you put on a fine meal for your guests Sky. It is lovely to meet you all. We hope we didn’t startle you too much. We wanted to let you finish your meal before we came to say hello, but you beat us to it!”
“You play the harp beautifully.” Said Florrel, smiling and shaking Constance’s hand with two of her own.
“Thank you,” she replied smiling warmly, “It is a great love of mine.”
“I suppose you’re wondering how we came to be here?” Said Edward, quite cheerful in his manner.
“Please, come and have a seat, I’ll explain everything.”
They all piled into a circle of chairs that were put together and sat comfortably awaiting his story.
“I suppose you know that I found the tree as a young boy. I had many a day to myself while the house was being built in the other paddock, so had plenty of time to explore. One day a Raven caught my attention and I followed it right to the massive tree trunk. I climbed it as young boys do, and came across a magnificent city in which I soaked up for most of my school holidays and weekends. I met Lord Nutwood and Elm and other wonderful members of the community and had a lot of fun.
As I got older, the more I had to do that filled my days in a more unpleasant manner, and I lost touch with it all. I feared that if I went to the tree, some one might follow me and there would be a sorry thing! I didn’t want anyone to know about it. To me it is an absolute treasure. A world of its own, and within that world are men and women, children, and wildlife to an enormous degree, not to mention the huge variety of fairy folk, as well as nutleys, that inhabit the tree! Well, I have to say, it became my mission in life to protect this tree and so I did everything I could to keep this when my father passed on.
“When Constance and I married,” he said, looking at her with much love expressed in his eyes, “We had the cottage renovated, and the dolls house was a kind of hobby that reminded me of the little people I had met.
Through the years, the property has been handed down to the oldest child, with the condition that the forest must never be used for public reasons, and that it must never be sold or felled. It was the only way to keep it safe from roaming humans! I mean, not that they would all be able to step into that world, but it would only take one to spoil the whole thing.”
“But how come you look so young?” Asked Grace again, quite fascinated.
Constance smiled and looked lovingly at Edward before saying, “We have a love that is endless. It is unconditional, and it is timeless. When my finger got too thin for my wedding ring, I placed it in the cabinet for safekeeping. We both knew the energy from it would be enough to bring us back here if we chose to do that after we passed on. And when we passed, it was only a few days between us. We chose to not be without each other. And when we got use to the different plains of the astral world we realised that we could live in the doll’s house after all, and so we flit from here to other parts of the astral levels of consciousness, to suit our needs.”
“Once you have mastered the astral” said Edward, “and we have had plenty of time to master it,” he chuckled, “you can appear to be any age you like! The ages we appear to you are our early twenties, just after we got married.”
“We see a lot of your mother Grace. She is always asking after you,” said Constance.
“My mother?” She said, “asked after me?”
“Oh yes!” Said Constance, “None of your relatives are gone. They are simply in another space. Their physical bodies may have been laid to rest, but their souls are alive and well! As a matter of fact, your mother is spending most of her time at the Institute of Art. Do you know Leonardo Da Vinci and Rembrandt teach there?”
“True?” Said Grace, fascinated and pleased that her feelings on all this were being confirmed. “My mother, Elise, loved to paint. She always wanted to further her art studies, but was home raising a family. She died far too early, and never got around to doing what she planned.”
“Well she’s doing it now by crikey! And loving it, I might add!” Replied Edward in a jolly fashion.
“And your Father actually chose to incarnate again soon. He didn’t much like the astral; he was too ingrained in the material world! So I expect you’ll be bumping into him somewhere soon!”
“Edward, do you remember the folk law, or the legend of Podsinia?”
“Oh yes! Nutwood did mention that to me at the time as one of the old stories, and yes we know of the coming disaster. We thought perhaps we could help?”
They all looked at each other, and before they could say a word, a bright green mist glittered with gold appeared in the room and before them stood their friend Elm and his helper Lobes.
Yellow Flower giggled straight away. Grace covered her smile with her hand, as did Sky in a similar fashion. Malley and Florrel cracked up laughing and Coral grinned from ear to ear trying not to laugh. Edward and Constance were finding it just as difficult to keep their faces straight at the picture before them.
Dusty was the first one to say something. “Woopsy Daisy!” He chirped, and tilted his head in curiosity.
“Yes I know I know!” Said Elm, feeling quite embarrassed. “I don’t blame you! Who would think the resident wizard could be so clumsy!”
There he stood, covered from head to toe with a leafy vine that had a daisy type flower on it. He was literally covered. Only his eyes they could see and it appeared to be still growing! As the vine grew some died off; new shoots sprawled around his body. It was the most extraordinary thing! Buds grew to flowers and then lost their petals in a matter of moments!
Lobes grinned, making sure his ‘mentor’ didn’t see him, and then trying to keep a straight face said, in a timid voice. “Master Elm was trying to mix a potion for getting the seasons functioning the right way again, which meant, he needed to get it to the ozone layer. I’m afraid that when he said the words for the enchantment, he said the word ‘daisy’ instead of ‘hazy’ and spilled some of the potion on himself. He’s been fighting off these vines for hours now!”
The others were now sniggering, and it got louder. They just couldn’t help but laugh! It was such a funny sight!
Lobes went bright red from embarrassment and he was also laughing. He hid himself behind his long ears and this made everyone laugh even more!
“I see you still haven’t quite got the hang of this magic old boy!” Said Edward, in between chuckles.
“Blast!” Said the wizard, “What’s an old wizard to do?” He leant against the wall because every time he sat down, the vines would tie him to the chair!
“Oh don’t worry Elm,” laughed Malley. “I’m sure it must have something to do with the energies in the tree at present. Don’t take it to heart.”
“Don’t take it to heart!” Said Elm indignantly. “I’d take it to the ends of the earth if I could just get it off!” He said, half frustrated and half laughing now. They all cracked up laughing again, and even Elm had to laugh at his own situation. He realised how funny it must have looked.
“Would you like a glass of water Elm?” Said Yellow Flower, stirring him a little. “Perhaps you could do with a nice watering…” This got them going again!
When they managed to stop laughing they focused on the problem at hand.
Between Lobes, Malley and Yellow Flower, they managed to break the spell for him and he sat down and joined them for a cup of tea. They caught up on the most urgent news of all, which was that Podsinia had been spotted near the surface of the soil and was getting stronger by the hour.