On the fourth day of December

Dusk again found the little bearded fellow upon an errand. At quite a clip, he walked a full Norwegian mile1 through the forest, on old pathways, before halting at a house.

He was — in his preferred designation — a clock-tenderer, and it was indeed the house's clock to which his errand pertained. He had yesterday called upon its occupants to obtain a key; today he would expect them to be away whilst he carried out his work. In a sweeping revolution, he ascertained that there was nobody to be seen.

Though only rarely and specifically exercised, the little bearded fellow, as all of his kin, inheld a deep magic. At one moment, the clock, a Baroque longcase, was imperiously standing in its corner of the house; in the next — whoosh! It was in the forest clearing. For our clock-tenderer preferred to work in the winter air: the rush of stream and fistle of leaf heightened his wizardry.

A moment more, and the clock was hardly to be glimpsed amid whirls of white and silver, of fizzes and sparks. Like olive oil upon a hot pan, they seered from the clock's mechanics at its tenderer's magical touch. He was joyously absorbed: a little laugh of appreciative comprehension upon restoring a cog to rotating as freely as it should; a tug at his beard and a chuckled exclamation at the stubbornness of a sprocket.

Unbeknown to the clock-tenderer, a little girl, coming upon the forest clearing, had in the meantime silently hidden herself in the undergrowth, enraptured by the spectacle of the magical overhaul; entranced by the little bearded fellow's engrossment.

Soon the clock was repaired, and whizzed back inside. The clock-tenderer turned his boots and beard for home.

At sufficient distance for her forest-rustling to be noiseless, the little girl followed...

This is the fourth part of an episodic tale written in November and December 2022. Previous part. Next part.


  1. Ten kilometres.

Last updated: 02:45 (GMT+1), 5th December 2022