In a Time Far Away

Back in camp, Joan found Tim gaping in amazement at the cloth weaver’s loom. He sat fixated with his mouth open, watching the weaver twine the strands together. Most of the elves had gotten bored watching Tim watch the weaver and had wandered off.

“Amazing,” said Tim when saw her. “Did you know that she can turn thread into fabric? This is a wondrous power.”

“Amazing,” Joan echoed kindly. “I see you’ve gotten over the spoons.”

Tim proved her wrong by proudly displaying his new wand—a hand-carved wooden spoon. Pleased and excited, he explained how the wood-smith had been very interested in the pencil and offered the trade. Tim was thrilled with the bargain.

At that moment the elf king and his entourage entered the grove. He had gone hunting, and the newly arrived elves carried a buck trussed to a pole. Having heard of the visitor before his arrival, he searched protectively for any signs of magical mischief. After assuring himself of no catastrophes, he quickly sought out his daughter.

“Joan, I’m so happy to see you safe,” he said with relief as he hugged her. The king then cast a wary glance at the wood sprite and whispered, “But you brought him here into our community. That could be dangerous.”

“Father, I didn’t bring him,” she explained. “He brought me home. I would never have found my way back from his world without his help.”

She told him of her perplexing troubles and of Tim’s patient assistance. To the king, the most disturbing part of the story was the fact Joan could not find her own way home. Elves never got lost. With a look of deep concern, he again expressed his doubts about having Tim in camp.

“You know, brother,” interrupted Ned. “A sprite might be handy to have around.”

“Sprites don’t make reliable associates,” said the king. “They are unpredictable, and their curiosity is fleeting.”

Uncle Ned eyed his brother’s beautiful daughter. “Maybe we can keep him interested.”

Joan’s father didn’t notice Ned’s suggestion. He approached Tim and thanked him for bringing Joan safely home. Hoping to judge for himself if his powers were dangerous, he asked the wood sprite for a display of magic. Tim was eager to comply. Looking for a suitable demonstration, the king glanced toward the center of the clearing where the elves were preparing the buck.

“Can you cook that deer for us?” he asked.

Tim was entirely confused at the request, as if he had never heard of such a thing.

“You know,” the king clarified. “Make it into a meal.”

“Oh!” Tim exclaimed, delighted to have figured out the riddle. “You mean turn it into food?”

The king wasn’t sure why the idea of cooking had to be explained. “Yes,” the king nodded patiently.

“No. That’s magic. I can’t do that.”

It was the king’s turn to be confused. He glanced over at Ned who shrugged his shoulders and commented, “He has some strange ideas about magic.”

The king looked back to Tim. “You can’t make food?”

“Oh, I can make food,” Tim confirmed to the baffled king. “I just can’t turn one thing into another. That’s magic.”

There was some sort of communication problem which the king couldn’t quite identify. He rephrased his question. “Can you make us a cooked deer?”

Tim waved his spoon. Next to the unprepared animal appeared a fully cooked, steaming, aromatic buck ready for eating. The elves working on the first animal jumped in surprise, dropping it into the dirt.

Hmm, the king murmured. His eyebrows rose, and a smile eased onto his face. Ned slapped his brother’s shoulder and laughed.

The animal the king had brought home was no longer needed, so they dragged the carcass into the woods and left it to rot. It was an unusual thing for them to do; in fact, they had never done such a thing before.

That night the elves feasted. The meat was delicious, and it had been prepared with no effort at all. Ah, yes, thought the King. This could be very easy to get used to.