Everyone has a gift, something that identifies them as a person and makes them unique from others. Some people are lucky and have more than one special skill but, even for these people, one of their skills is the more dominant and it is that which defines who they are as a person.
Elves are no different – Elves have gifts too. The only difference between the gifts of an elf and the gift of a human is that elfin gifts tend to be somewhat more magical and mystical in nature. The elf Maxwell, for example, can talk to animals. He found that he had this gift right from his earliest days as an elfin child. He realised that the hushed whispers he overheard, when attending to his pets, where not the remnants of some far away echo from distant crowds but the incessant subdued chatter and gossip of the pets themselves. On his subsequent journeys, Maxwell met elves who could carve delicate runes into the clouds and record the histories of the earth within the very borders of the clouds themselves. He met river elves who could orchestrate the multitude of water drops that cascade from the heights of a waterfall to produce a magnificent symphony of sound and movement. He even met one elf who was a seeker, one who could explore and find any lost item, be it a forgotten word or a lost thought. There is such an array of special magical gifts to be found in the world of the sprites and one paragraph here hardly does justice to the width and depth of gifts that are to be seen there. However, that is another story and one that deserves an entry of its own.
Little Teddy knew what Maxwell’s gift was, for he had heard him chatting to the squirrels and butterflies in the woodland meadows as they played together. However, it did pass his mind many a time as to the nature of Skippy’s special gift and what it was that made Skippy so special in his life.
“Perhaps we ought to take butterfly nets,” suggested Teddy, “and we could hunt amongst the plants and flowers in the meadow. Perhaps we could find your gift there.”
Skippy and Teddy go butterfly catching
Skippy looked down lovingly at his little bear and nodded approvingly. It sounded like a good idea to him for, if they were to catch the gift, it would sparkle and shine within the net and cause it to glow with an iridescent light. So, the two of them set off to the tall grasses and flowers of the meadow and swept their butterfly nets too and fro in delicate arcs though the undergrowth. Despite spending several hour hunting in the flowers, neither Little Teddy nor Skippy were successful in finding anything other than a multitude of butterflies, moths and fireflies in their hoard.
“It’s time for bed,” sighed Skippy as he led his teddy back home, hand-in-hand, “We can always try again tomorrow. It’s bound to be hidden here somewhere and we have many long summer’s days filled with adventures with which to find it.”
The two of them trekked their way back home and Skippy gently tucked Teddy safely away for the evening as their elder brother, Kris, arrived and saw them saying their night time goodbyes. It wasn’t long before Teddy fell into the world of dreams and soon images of chasing mermaid in crystal seas with his brothers entered his sleepy night time world of nocturnal dreams. Kris bent over the sleeping teddy and gently brushed his cheek with a finger.
“Look inside the mussel shells!” he whispered into the dreamtime of Little Teddy, as the small bear lay there sleeping in a contented world of blissful slumber.
Even in the midnight world of dreams, hunting in the mussel shells, Little Teddy was unable to find Skippy’s gift. That one essential goal still eluded him and all he was able to find was an array of candyfloss pearls within each shell. The search for Skippy’s gift was going to be a long and difficult one and there were a million and one more places yet to be searched before the gift could be found.
The following day, Little Teddy lay on his back in the fairy ring and watched the passing clouds traverse the morning sky. The brothers were elsewhere playing games and doing things that only small boys can do and Teddy laid there waiting for their return so that he could once again play and help in the search for Skippy’s gift.
One-by-one magnificent massive monster clouds rolled across the open sky. One appeared to take the form of a two-headed dragon breathing a great billowing mass of fire and smoke. Little Teddy relaxed as he recalled his boy, Johan, and how he would enjoy playing monsters amongst upturned chairs in the kitchen. Another appeared to be a long and rolling steam train excluding a swirl of misty steam from its funnel. Little Teddy smiled as he recalled his recent train adventure with his boys, Kris and Skippy. Another took the form of a three-legged bear climbing into an overgrown bush. Little Teddy’s tummy rumbled as he thought of a hidden honey pot shrouded by the overgrown branches. Finally, one passing cloud took the shape of an up-side-down crocodile with a huge yawning gape in his jaws. The small teddy trembled with apprehension and thought to himself how, looking in a crocodile’s mouth would be the very last place he would ever want to search for Skippy’s gift.
Then, a stroke of genius struck the small bear’s conscience; they would, of course, search for Skippy’s gift until they found it and then they would stop looking. Therefore, the place that it would be found in would be the last place they would search. This he knew was correct. Therefore, all they had to do was to search in the last place first and then Skippy’s gift would be found. Little Teddy thought back to the passing clouds; the last place he would ever want to search for Skippy’s gift would be between the back teeth of a sleeping crocodile’s jaw and so, it made sense that that would be the very place where the gift was to be found. Little Teddy marvelled in his own sense of genius.
“That’s it!” he shrieked out aloud in his eureka moment, “Skippy’s gift is stuck between the back teeth of a sleeping crocodile!”
He yelped in delight in being able to determine the location of the hidden goal and could barely managed to contain himself as he waited for the return of the brothers later that day. When, finally, they did arrive and Little Teddy managed to exclaim his plan with excited squeals of delight, they decided that Skippy and Teddy should venture out and Kris should remain at home close to the telephone. It would be reassuring to have an emergency backup close the phone should anything go wrong, for this was indeed a very dangerous plan and one that could easily become fatal should it fail or go wrong. Kris explained that he would feel happier sitting by the phone in case the plan went wrong and Skippy and Teddy immediately began to plan for their incredible journey.
They would, of course, both require pith helmets and (since they were set to explore the deepest darkest jungles) a stout hand torch would be essential too. It was no problem finding torches, these were stashed away at home and every boy can tell you that it is no mean feat to lay ones hands upon a torch in a matter of seconds. There can be scarcely a boy alive who is not able to locate a torch, catapult and magnifying glass within three steps of his bed – however; a pith helmet was another matter. Where could they find a pith helmet with which to wear for protection on their dangerous journey? Little Teddy flicked though a shopping catalogue and found one that was suitable and it was very soon that he and Skippy had phoned for an urgent delivery. They both ran to the window and waited for their first glimpse of the postman who was sure to deliver their urgently required package. They knelt at the window with their noses pressed against the glass and waited … and waited … and waited. This was sure to be a difficult expedition if even the delivery of a pith helmet was fraught with problems!
Kris looked across to the two impatient characters at the window. He knew that the postman was going to take longer than a few minutes and he didn’t want his brother and his teddy to have to wait any longer than was possible before they could begin their journey of pretence and locate a sleeping crocodile in some distant jungle. In an act of selfless generosity, Kris hunted around in his store of playthings and found exactly what Skippy and Teddy needed for their journey.
“That is what a being a brother is all about,” thought Kris, “It’s only right to support Skippy to find his gift in whatever way I can – be it sitting by the phone for emergencies or by giving away the most treasured of toys and props so that Skippy and Teddy could play.”
Kris passed two special playthings across to his younger brother and his teddy and the three of them exchanged hugs before Skippy took teddy in his arms and ventured outside into the mammoth unknown jungle to continue their quest. This was turning into a quest that was fraught with adventure.
Skippy and Teddy wear their pith helmets
After many steps, too many to count, Skippy and Teddy found themselves deep in the darkest depths of the African jungle. They switched on their torches and looked around. Jungle vines draped from the canopy of trees, with shrubs and ferns making a blanket of green across the ground. Skippy turned his torch to the near distance and the beam gleaned upon the metallic surface of a red jungle buggy.
“Let’s be real explorers,” exclaimed Teddy, “and travel in a jungle buggy!”
And, with these words, he jumped into the driver’s position and pulled Skippy along side of him, into the adjacent seat.
Skippy and Teddy take the buggy
“Can you drive, Teddy?” enquired Skippy nervously; “This does look somewhat large for you.”
“Can I drive?” repeated Teddy, “Of course I can!”
And, with that, he pushed his foot hard down on the accelerator pedal and reversed into a large tree truck. Teddy swung the steering wheel to the left and the nose of the buggy clipped a second tree, showering the two companions with a gentle cascade of leaves from above. The engine clunked and whirred as Teddy pushed his foot hard down again and it nudged another tree and then into a large boulder, veering it from left to right, and sending a plume of mud flying from the two spinning rear wheels.
“Of course I can drive,” repeated Teddy, “I drive incredibly badly – what do you expect from a teddy?”
The buggy zigzagged left and right, up and down, in and out, round and about until they eventually arrived at a swamp where three crocodiles lay sunning themselves in the heat of the blazing sun. Skippy tactfully suggested that they dismount from the buggy as soon as possible and go to the crocodiles, where it might be somewhat safer. As he did so, one of the monsters gave a lazy sleepy yawn and a flash of ruby light shone from the back of its mouth. As the crocodile maintained its sleep-ridden yawn, Skippy and Teddy peered into the crocodile’s jaw and saw the glimmer of a ruby-coloured orb shine from between two of the back teeth.
Teddy spots Skippy’s gift
“Your gift!” exclaimed Teddy, “It’s your gift – We found your gift!”
Teddy took his torch and turned it to its side, wedging it between the upper and lower jaw of the crocodile and, as quick as a flash as the crocodile awoke, Skippy reached in and grabbed the shining orb from out of the crocodile’s jaws.
“Run for it!” shrieked Teddy, as the crocodile began to make sense of its surroundings and began to awaken from its slumber.
The two friends left the buggy where it stood and ran backwards into the jungle, back to the safety of the tall grass (where there hid a prowling lion.)
“Run for it!” shrieked Skippy, as the lion roared a mighty roar and bared its gleaming teeth.
A brush with a lion
The two friends scarpered from the tall grass and into a small clearing, next to the shade of a darken shape (the side of a mighty rhino.)
“Run for it!” shrieked Teddy, as the rhino reared up its head and looked threateningly at the two of them.
A brush with a rhino
Skippy and Teddy escaped through a gap between two trees and into a mass of overgrown shrubs (where there hid a slithering snake.)
“Run for it!” shrieked Skippy, as the snake coiled its body and spurted a spray of venom into the air.
The two of them dashed from the shrubs and into an enclosure, surrounded by thorns and thickets (where there lay a sleeping tiger.)
“Run for it!” they both shrieked, “It’s time to get home” and they made a hasty exit from the jungle surrounds and ran (without turning) to the distance. They had found the gift but what was it? They couldn’t wait to get home to look inside and discover what Skippy’s gift really was.
(To be continued.)