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