I hope this Sunday finds you snuggled up somewhere and in the mood for a miniature fantasy tale about one of my beloved characters, Bartholomew the Gnome. If you enjoy his adventure, do share below. He is a modest and shy sort of gnome, but any feedback on his work is always warmly received.
Bartholomew the Gnome neared completion of the day’s final masterpiece. One more flick of his mystic paintbrush and the striped burrow frog would take its first breath, hop from riverbank into recently brush-stroked pond, gurgling pleasantly past the artisan’s hollow. The frog would make his first ripples and find in the friendly pond many creatures to keep him company, as the summer season had barely begun.
Bartholomew’s back was haunched from hundreds of years of service as a master animator. His creations ranged from tiny conch shells to giant sycamore trees. It was in his early four hundreds that the gnome’s eyesight began to fail. And while the farsightedness slowed his painting, he simply crafted a pair of tiny spectacles and kept right on dabbing and swirling. When the chorus of crickets began their nightly concert, Bartholomew was reminded that there is always another day ahead to paint the world perfect, and even a master animator needs his porridge and bread.
This particular evening, in his haste, Bartholomew left behind his most prized possession: his sacred wooden palette. It was from this palette that his creations were infused with life, for the wood of the palette was formed from the tree of life itself. In a panic, Bartholomew ventured out into the summer night with a feather torch to light his way. He managed to navigate back to the river bed, but could not find the wooden treasure anywhere among the mossy, brambled banks.
Considering turning back, he had one final idea. He would call out to his latest creation in hopes that the young amphibian might remember his kindness and aide him in his search.
“Burrow frog! Oh, burrow frog!” Rising from the water, a dripping figure of blackness, invisible except for a pair of red-rimmed eyes.
“You call, master animator. The frog bowed before Bartholomew who imparted to him a soft pat between his nares.
“My youngest child. It appears I’ve lost my palette, carved from the tree of life. Have you seen it? If so, I would ever so grateful if you would go quickly and retrieve it.”
“I see.” The burrow frog did not proceed, for how could he tell his creator that his most precious palette was indeed deep in his gullet. Having mistaken the tool for a colorful grub, he had swallowed the magical item whole.
“Spit it out, youngster. Have you seen it, or no? The night grows cold and I will soon have neither will nor strength to journey home.”
“Master, I know not what to say. You see..” The frog fidgeted on his hind linds. “Your palette looked quite appetizing, and in my infant hunger, I swallowed it. Should it be of any consultation, it’s given me quite a bad case of indigestion.”
Bartholomew acted in haste. He took from his pocket a tiny bottle, uncorked it with his teeth, and then splashed it up on the silly creature, watching as the colors streaked and faded, leaving behind nothing but one irregular piece of petrified wood.
Tucking the palette safely in his belt, Bartholomew made for home. It was well past sunset, and he realized that it was to be his last day of work, for any good animator knows when it is time to retire his imagination and instead enjoy the paradise of his creations.
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