left Sigworth's Dust: Wumples dance of the Twing-Twops

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Wumples dance of the Twing-Twops

‘Where is this place?’ asked George who was slowly coming to terms with the fact that she must have gone completely mad.

Ponkle looked around, his manner resembling that of an escaped prisoner. He did not want to be here but in truth, part of him was hopelessly relieved. Relieved that his navigation had led them here instead of Swamp Valley.

George nudged him, bringing his attention back to the present tense.

‘Over there!’ she said excitedly, pointing to an odd fellow stood in a field some distance away. ‘What’s he doing?’

Ponkle followed George’s gaze. Sure enough, Ponkle could pick out a shape on the edge of a field full of wild grasses. George saw a cloud of sadness hover over Ponkle’s face.

‘Who is it?’

The shape was, in fact, another Boffwungler and Ponkle was thankful for the girl’s naivety for the Boffwungler in question was doing something quite extraordinary.

‘That’s Wumple,’ said Ponkle, desperately trying to avoid looking at the young Boffwungler, who had now spotted them.

‘What’s he doing?’ George persisted, curious as to why the top half of the small, round creature’s body was engaged in some sort of exotic limbo dance, whilst his enormous feet remained firmly attached to the ground, as if refusing to join in the charade.

‘He’s..um...’ Ponkle mumbled nervously, ‘..um..celebrating the gift of such a glorious morning.’

He hoped that might be the end to their conversation as he started walking down the stony path. Now if they could just pass through the Valley of Otherin unseen, they could cross back over the River at Thorny Point. Naturally, it would cut their journey time in two if they simply hiked over Bogglers Hill to their right but that would be too conspicuous. That was his normal route, they were sure to be waiting in ambush for him there.

‘Funny,’ said George from ten paces behind, still mesmerised by Wumple’s dance. ‘Is that the done thing here? I’ve never seen anything quite like it!’

‘Oh yes,’ said Ponkle uneasily, now realising that George would not be satisfied until she knew more. ‘It’s a famous tradition here to...um...’ he sought frantically for an explanation, ‘to....acknowledge how fortunate we are by...um...by doing the symbolic...um...symbolic dance of the Twing-Twops.’

He was then silent. He dared not look at the inquisitive girl for fear she would guess he was lying through his enormous back-side. All this thinking was not easy for him at this time of the morning. He turned again to where Wumple was stuck and the two friends exchanged a sorrowful glance. There was nothing either of them could do. There was a great power in the air and it was not in any mood for an argument.

‘Look!’ shouted George.

‘Sshhh!’ cried Ponkle, running back to her. ‘What now?’

‘Can you see? His mouth’s making odd shapes,’ she laughed, ‘it’s as if he’s shouting but we can’t hear him. Do you think we should go over?’

George had long forgotten that she hadn’t wanted to come here. She was fascinated and more than content to explore the day to day activities of this new found race.

‘NO!’ yelled Ponkle, nearly blowing his cover. ‘I mean, I don’t think that would be advisable. If you must know...he’s...miming a traditional chant...which loses its meaning if anyone hears it. Now, let’s get going shall we?’

Ponkle set off once more and this time, to his delight, George followed. They did not look back. Whatever Wumple Boffwungler had done, no, better not to think of it. Anyway, a faithful army of strapping Trunglers would be here very soon to collect him so it was high time the two of them were not.

‘You don’t really want me to meet this Judgess of yours, do you?’ asked George as they trundled along the rough path. She wished she’d put a pair of shoes on.

Ponkle sighed. ‘I don’t really know what I plan to do,’ he said honestly. ‘I didn’t think she’d let me get this far’.

He halted and turned to her as if he had reached a life or death decision. Looking her straight in the eye he made her an offer any sane person could not refuse.

‘I’ll take you back, I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking of bringing you here like this. What must you think of me? I could get you back in no time at all, no-one would notice you’ve even been gone. Please forgive me, I’ve not been myself lately, you must believe me, I haven’t the slightest bit of common sense. What do you say?’

‘I say that if you ever want to reach your village, we’d better get a move on. We won’t achieve anything standing here all day!’

George smiled at her new acquaintance who was beaming up at her as if suddenly given a new lease of life. She was growing rather fond of him. Then, as if hearing a starting whistle, the pair set off towards the Otherin Valley, talking as if they had been friends for years.