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Mark McClelland, 13 Feb '13

        It had been a tradition, for some years now, that the badger Holly Hockstedter hosted a tea party every other Saturday afternoon. As with most occasions, especially those which stirred within him an anticipation of good tea and good company, Cyril Frolix made it a matter of some pride to arrive at the time best fitting the situation. Holly, famous for her talent for making marvelously delicious pies, both savory and sweet, was rather lacking where her talent for timing was concerned. In planning her tea parties, she invariably forgot to account for the time it takes to tidy up, set the table, and generally make those preparations not involving the actual making of pies.

        Knowing Holly well, Cyril was not at all surprised to observe this little gap in her otherwise ample gifts for hostessing. He also knew her sufficiently well to guess that she would not be at all put out by the help of a guest who happened to arrive early and happened also to be able to move about a kitchen without getting too much in the way of the cook. In fact, he was willing to wager she would find such able assistance quite welcome, especially were it to come from a dapper bachelor.

        On his second visit to a Holly Hockstedter tea party, two years back now, he ventured to test his theory; and, had there been anyone foolish enough to wager against him, Cyril would have been counting his winnings within two seconds of passing through her open door. For there was Holly, hot thimbleberry pie in one hand and mounded plate of steaming crumpets in the other, looking high and low for a trivet. And so it was that Cyril surmised, at least where Holly Hockstedter was concerned, that fifteen minutes early was precisely the appropriate time to arrive.

        It also came as no surprise to Cyril that his good friend Pendarvis, to whom credit goes for the suggestion that Holly hold tea parties, would habitually be at least half an hour late. This in spite of his deep and dire concern that he not miss out on Holly's tangerine-lavender-honey punch, with which she always started things off in warmer weather, or the fig-vanilla-black-pepper tipple she preferred in colder months.

        Pendarvis was not creative by nature. His adventures in cooking were the one great exception, and he invariably forgot just how much time it takes to adjust for the unexpected, tweak his invention to get it just right, and then figure out how on earth to transport his ingenious tea-party contribution over Sugar Hill, named for the abundance of sugar maples, across Berrythorn Meadow, named for its dense growth of thorny berry bushes, through the evergreens, through the old cemetery, and down the bank of Sperry Spring Creek to Holly's happy home.

        Being a woodchuck, and thus having rather short legs and a generous quantity of self to carry on those legs, this journey was no small feat for Pendarvis. The sight of him, huffing and puffing as he barreled through the door, never failed to elicit fond laughter from the friendly little group that waited, eager to see what Pendarvis had brought this time.

        And always, without fail, they would produce the last of the tangerine-lavender-honey punch or the fig-vanilla-black-pepper tipple for dear old Pendarvis, cutting short his agonized assertions that this time he must be too late.

Comments · 5

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  • Mark McClelland said...

    Sketch for a scene from a children's book I'm working on. Cyril Frolix is a bachelor fox, and Pendarvis, a woodchuck, is his dearest friend.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • David Taylor said...

    This is a nice, jovial sketch that I enjoyed reading! Though, if I may say so, it might be worthwhile trying to split your prose into shorter paragraphs. I think this will make the whole piece flow better and help to make it easier to read, which is something that you should bear in mind especially carefully since you are writing for children :)

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mark McClelland said...

    You're absolutely right about the paragraph breaks. Not something I give much thought to when writing a sketch, but definitely something to pay attention to in a finished piece. The syntax is deliberately complex, to stretch the reader's brain a bit and get it in the habit of complicated momentary structures. Throwing big blobby paragraphs around on top of that is a bit much.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • Mark McClelland said...

    @David Taylor, I took your advice and broke the two paragraphs into seven. Much nicer.

    • Posted 6 years ago
  • David Taylor said...

    You're welcome @Mark McClelland! Thanks for the advice you gave me on my ship burrst as well :) And yeah, it definitely looks nicer now!

    • Posted 6 years ago