The goblin knew that at the foot of one of the hills lived a very bitter family. Life had been hard for that family and, with every misfortune, they had planted bitter fruit in their garden – gourds and eggplant and bitter melon and the bitterest of grapefruit that you could find. There was not a plant in their garden that was not bitter, and with each new misfortune they planted more and more, until their garden was bitter even just to walk in. The goblin’s plan was that he would visit that family’s garden one night and, when they were sleeping and dreaming their bitter dreams he would take one of each of the fruit in the garden until he had the bitterest array of ingredients he could find. Then he would blend all the bitter fruit together to make a juice, and then he would take some of the juice and mix it with the Christmas pudding mixture before it was cooked and distributed to the neighbouring families on neighbouring hills. Whatever magic the pudding contained would be destroyed by the bitterness of the bitter juice he would add.
Every day and every night as Christmas approached, the goblin watched the mother through the kitchen window so that he was ready when the moment came for her to make the puddings. He did not stir from his place perched by the windowsill until the day finally came when the mother entered the kitchen and began to take out boxes of dried fruit, jars of flour, cartons of milk and eggs…He watched and watched as she mixed the ingredients together, hoping upon hope that he could see what the ingredient was that made the pudding so magical. If he could see what that ingredient was, then perhaps he could steal it and prevent its ever being used again…As he watched, he began to grow anxious, fearful that his plan would not work, fearful that he could not be able to poison the puddings without the mother noticing…His palms began to sweat, and, as they sweated, he began to lose his grip by the window…His hands slipped, and slipped, until he fell to the ground beneath the windowsill.
Now, you may never have heard a goblin fall.
Well then, you would know that when a goblin falls, it tends to make a large sound, because there is so much evil machination at work inside the goblin that it clangs like a sack of metal pots being dropped on a hard floor. The ground where the goblin fell was not hard, but it still made quite an impressive sound when he fell – so impressive that the mother looked out the window to see what had made that noise. She could not see anything from the window, but she called her husband to look too, and soon they had both come outside to look for the source of that mysterious noise.
Now, goblins are loud when they fall but, being subterranean creatures, they are used to having to get up again quickly.
(“That doesn’t make sense,” says Alana. “Yes it does; they fall down all the time, on hard rock ground and need to get up again. Now just let me tell the story.”)
No sooner had the mother gone to get the father to help her than the goblin had picked himself up and snuck behind the doorway nearest to the kitchen, waiting for an opportunity to strike. It came; the mother and the father ran out the door, looking eagerly everywhere but behind the now opened door; lithely, the goblin crept out from behind the door, his bitter juice in hand. He snuck into the kitchen, spied the giant mixing bowl on the bench and, pulling himself up onto a stool by the bench (because, being a goblin, he was also quite short), he tipped a thimbleful of the bitter juice into the middle of the mixture, then another thimbleful to the left side, another to the right, and three more at random spots on either side. Too much and the mother might have noticed; too little and it might not have spread throughout the whole mixture. This, he hoped, would be just enough. Then, fearful of being caught, the goblin jumped down from the stool, clanging a little as he did so, and crept out the still-open door.
Go to Day Four