Train of tales Children

Fantastical encounters

The story so far: Aniket and Fortune, travelling on a boat steered by Omen, arrive at Lady Laura Lucklina’s golden castle on Destiny Island. In the garden, they meet her pets: the sweet fish, Patience, and the wild scorpion, Anger.

A gnome stood outside the main gate of the castle. Dressed in blue dungarees, he held a long black spear in his right hand.

As Aniket and the imp came near, the gnome saluted smartly. All of a sudden, 11 similar-looking gnomes, all holding small black spears, appeared beside him; all with the same shiny skin, pointed long nose, curly black hair and thin scarecrow-like body. All of them smiled, revealing their teeth: molars in front and incisors at the back. These quaint and charming creatures heard through their nostrils and smelt through their ears.

Laura Lucklina’s castle had one large gate and eleven smaller gates, each guarded by a gnome. As the 12 gnomes saluted smartly, the huge golden gate opened, as if by magic, allowing Aniket and Fortune entry into Laura Lucklina’s castle.

Exotic pets

In the exotic garden, they saw Laura Lucklina’s other pets: Mercy the goat, Snob the lion, Timidity the hen, Tell-Tale the rat, and Toughie the ram.

Accidentally, Aniket stepped on the grass Mercy had collected for her supper. Before he could apologise, Mercy said in her squeaky voice, “It’s okay. There is no need to feel bad. I’ve forgiven you. You didn’t do it on purpose.”

“Thank you, Mercy, for being so understanding,” Aniket petted the goat.

Seeing the lion, they stood a little distance away. The haughty lion looked away, as though he hadn’t seen them or heard their greeting. “Arrogant creature,” Aniket muttered.

Seeing the visitors, Timidity scuttled to the back of the castle; the shy creature hid from all the visitors. The brown rat lived up to his name — Tell-Tale was a gossiper and spun tall tales. “Look who has come,” he announced. “Two thieves have entered the castle grounds.”

“Stop it, Tell-Tale,” Fortune scolded. “You know we aren’t here to steal anything.”

In the centre of the garden was a silver fountain, surrounded by small statues of fairies; its clear water gurgling like a happy child. “This is the Fountain of Youth. Laura Lucklina takes a daily dip in the sparkling fountain to preserve her youthful looks and beauty,” Fortune explained.

As they walked towards the main door of the castle, Aniket saw a pair of scales hung over the carved oak door. “Why the scales?”

“Only when the scales tilt are visitors allowed entry into the castle. For some people, the scales don’t move even in strong winds. These disappointed visitors return without meeting Laura Lucklina. Ultimately, it all depends on your luck,” Fortune said philosophically.

The scales stood steady. A few minutes passed and then a few more. It was as though their patience was being tested.

Aniket’s agitation slowly increased. He had come so far; would he return home disappointed? He didn’t like the idea of leaving the island without meeting Laura Lucklina.

Seeing his face, Fortune pursed his lips and his forehead creased in a frown. The imp looked left, then right, as though searching for someone or something. Then he moved closer to the door and sighed heavily, as though he was tired.

Slowly, the scales moved; then one side tilted down. The door burst open, as though by magic.

Grinning widely, Fortune high-fived Aniket. “Nothing is impossible, buddy,” he said.

The moment they entered the castle, they felt a strange presence, though they couldn’t see anything.

“It’s Omen again,” Fortune whispered. They followed Omen’s footsteps to Laura Lucklina’s parlour.

Seating them, Omen disappeared. Not that he had ever appeared in the first place, but they knew he had gone away, because the sounds stopped and they couldn’t sense his strange presence.

Lucklina’s retinue

The parlour was a large and spick-and-span room, painted a creamy white, with antique furniture and beautiful paintings. Four elegant ladies sat on single-seater sofas.

Aniket and Fortune sat close together on a sofa. “That lady in the green dress,” the imp gestured with his eyes, “is Miss Stitch, Laura Lucklina’s dress designer.” Beside her were stacked yarns and reams of fabric in varying shades. On Miss Stitch’s lap were books with the latest designs of gowns. “Miss Stitch has come to take Laura Lucklina’s approval before she starts designing her clothes,” Fortune explained.

“The lady in pink is Miss Salt ‘n’ Sugar; she is Laura Lucklina’s dietician,” Fortune grinned. Opening her diary, Miss Salt ‘n’ Sugar took out her pocket calculator and busied herself with calculations. “She decides what Laura Lucklina eats, the time at which she eats and even the quantity of food she consumes,” Fortune smiled.

“And Miss Cream ‘n’ Powder, the gorgeous lady in purple clothes, is Laura Lucklina’s beautician. The lady she is chatting with is Miss SnipSnap, Laura Lucklina’s hair-stylist. Miss SnipSnap has come to take Laura Lucklina’s final approval for the hair styles,” Fortune said.

Aniket stared at Miss SnipSnap. Dressed in orange clothes, her multi-coloured wavy hair was like a rainbow of curls, rippling every time she moved her head.

To be continued...

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 11:11:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/fantastical-encounters/article33258227.ece

Next Story