The Word Smith
Excerpt from.James a Bresco’s.” Hooter Hornebuckle & Barnabus Belmont. The Best of Friends ” publishing soon.
Dusk had fallen by the time Hooter reached the quaint little shop…
The sign over the door creaked mournfully as it swung back and forth in the gentle evening breeze, ‘Eeee aww…eeee aww.’ Written upon it were the words. “Zebidiah Redalotte. Bespoke Word Smith for gentle folk. ” Amused, Hooter knocked on the half glazed door, and went in.
Dozens of old, and dusty leather bound books lined the walls of the shops shadowy interior, however, a welcoming log fire burning merrily in the hearth conveyed a feeling of coziness to the room whilst casting long flickering shadows across the hay strewn floor. Two crusty old Elvin gentlemen, their Frock- coats, black buttoned gaiters and brass buckled shoes having long since seen better times, browsed unhurriedly through some of the volumes, occasionally withdrawing one from a shelf, and flipping it open; read briefly from it, replacing it soon after with a deep sigh.
Similarly attired, a third gentleman, his costume clearly of a later vintage though, was sat upon a spindled-backed chair at the table next to the shops front window. The gentleman scratched away diligently with a Goose feather Quill evidently copying a paragraph from an ancient book of verse, into an ink spotted and rather tawdry leather bound Diary. With only the light from two sputtering candles to see by, occasionally he would stop to check his work for errors with the help of a cracked but seemingly still usable magnifying glass while mumbling and grumbling to himself roundly.
Approaching the shops counter, Hooter said, hesitantly. ‘Good evening. I’m looking for some words, I’m supposing that you would be the Word Smith?’ Hooter inquired of the balding, grey haired, and rather plump little Elf, who was standing in front of the fire place, warming his ample posterior.
The Elf tipped his head slightly and, looking at Hooter over the top of his horn-rimmed bifocals, nodded and replied politely, saying;
‘Tis words that I sell Sir, aint got much else.
If you wants’ some, you’ll find em, through there, on that shelf.
They starts with an A Sir and, ends with a Zee.
So you takes your time Sir, there’s plenty to see.’
Hooter was pleasantly surprised; he had a definite affinity with forest Elves, moreover, their innate ability to spring into rhyme at the slightest provocation, had always pleased him. Still smiling from the encounter, he pushed aside a threadbare and rather mildewed, green felt curtain and, intrigued; he made his way to the rear of the gloomy little back room.
Sure enough, nailed crookedly to the rear wall, he found an lengthy wooden shelf; piled high with words. There were so many of them, in fact, that the shelf drooped profoundly in the middle, no doubt due to the great weight of words placed upon it. ‘Well I never!’ he thought to himself, ‘instant words; all made up and ready to go, whatever next? ’and proceeded to sort through them alphabetically.
It took him while to find precisely what he was looking for, but finally having made his selection, Hooter gathered up the words placing them up under his wing and, returned to the front of the shop once more, however, sensing that the style he had chosen lacked a certain intimacy, on arriving back at the shops counter he mentioned it to the Word Smith; explaining in hushed tones, that it was imperative that his words communicated his feelings of deep respect and adoration, towards a certain lady friend.
‘Ah. I see,’ said the plump little Elf. ‘So you have what you wants Sir but, you don’t likes the fonts…well there’s no need to worry, I’ve a box full right here!’
Then placing his box of fonts on the shop counter, he riffled though them until he came up with one that Hooter liked, saying,
‘Something Gothic I think? With whirls and, some scrolls,
Light, but not scratchy and certainly not, bold!’
‘Yes… I think so, replied Hooter, may I see?’
The Elf took the pile of words from Hooter then, placing them together with Hooters chosen font, he carefully put them in to a deep hessian sack. Then closing it, he whispered a secret spell, known only to Word Smith’s and, low and behold when he withdrew the words, they all bore Hooters chosen font. ‘That must be magic,’ Hooter said. ‘Just tricks of the trade Sir, replied the Word Smith, and winked. He went on. ‘I’ve taken the liberty of adding a little glitter to them as well,’ said the Elf, as I can tell you from my own particular experiences; with the fair sex, ‘that they loves a bit of sparkle they do,’ and chuckled. Then;
‘Now, how you shall you pay sir, if I may be so bold, will it be cash sir or shall it be gold?’
‘Cash will be fine,’ replied Hooter, ‘how much do I owe you..?’
Sometime later that evening…’
‘Barnabus, can you pass me up that hammer now?’
‘Here you are,’ said Barnabus reaching up the ladder with the hammer to where Hooter was balancing precariously against the bough of the huge oak tree. ‘Are you quite sure she’ll be able to see them there Hooter, Barnabus said ?’
‘I certainly hope so,” Hooter said. Look, as soon as I get the first one up, why don’t you scoot up her tree, over there, and take a look for me…’
…Having left the Words Smiths earlier. Hooter, his precious sack of words slung across his shoulder, had hurried down to Barnabus’s cottage on the edge of the river; eager to show him his recent purchases and, enlist his help in fixing his message to the bough of the tree opposite to where Tess lived.
‘What do you think Barnabus, a bit too lovey-dovey perhaps?’ said Hooter laying the last letter on the ground before Barnabus.
‘Not at all Hooter, in fact, I think you’ve chosen well, she’s quite lovely you know.
‘No. Not Tess, you old fool, I mean the message. Hooter replied laughing.
‘Especially the message, replied Barnabus, as he cast a critical eye over Hooters literary efforts. Although, I’m not at all surprised you know.He went on. “It was quite apparent, at my party the evening after the Naming ceremony, that you and Tess were getting on extremely well together.”
“Hooter said. ‘Was I really so obvious?”
“Let’s just say that I wasn’t the only one to notice, Hooter?”
“Why, who else noticed?”
‘Well Hermione for starters.’
‘You mean Hermione Heron? The water bailiff’s wife?’
‘The very same,’ and he laughed. “Actually, Hackett, her husband remarked that he thought it about time you settled down again. He went on. The old rogue said to me, he did.’ “Hooter, didn’t ought to be single and running round like that at his age, especially a chap of his standing.”
‘Hackett said that?’ Hooter exclaimed, his anger mounting.
‘I promise you.’ Replied Barnabus, amused, ‘he’s only jealous you know.
‘He’s a pompous prig,’ Hooter,said, feeling affronted,’ Isn’t it about time you looked at a rent review for his property?’
‘Now, now, don’t be like that, Barnabus said, chuckling by then; you know what he’s like Hooter…’
Sometime later as the work continued…‘…A little more to the left and, up a bit…bit more, there that should do it.’
By midnight all the words were nailed in place and, the next morning, when Tess would awaken, she couldn’t help but notice Hooters message…