Peter begins a unique building project.
|“It’s getting late,” Jack grunted, wiping sweat from his shiny forehead. He pointed a pudgy finger toward the cobblestone street. “Look there, Wee Willie Winkie is out in his nightgown again.”
Peter grinned and reached for the ladder leaning against the home he was renovating. His muscles ached from the first day’s work on the roof. “Aye,” he said, dropping the last few feet to the ground. “Must be ten o’ the clock. Will ye be back on the morrow, then? I’ll be needin’ a heap o’ help with the inside before the doors and windows can be put in.”
Jack nodded and adjusted the tool belt at his waist. “Of course. But this is a pretty big job. I may need to bring in some extra hands.” Jack’s lips puckered as he glanced again at the massive project in front of them. Peter slapped him on the back, sending a plume of dust into the air.
“Ay, ‘tis. Which is why I asked for the best contractor in the area. Everyone kens of the house that Jack built. Won’t be long afore they ken about Peter’s special house, as well!”
The two men walked side-by-side into town until they parted ways at a fork in the road. Lifting his eyes to the sky, Peter watched the cow jump over the moon before gathering his courage and nudging open the door to his cabin. One quick glance had his shoulders slumping in defeat. She was gone again.
Peter’s bed groaned as he threw himself onto the feather mattress. He closed his eyes, imagining his wife skipping down the flowered path to her mother’s house. He was tired of chasing her down and dragging her back to the house. He would let her be until his project was done and then…then he wouldn’t ever have to chase her home again.
The next morning Peter showed up at the construction site bright and early with a box of sweets from the Muffin Man’s shop and a fresh pot of tea from Polly’s Kettle. Jack was waiting with Simple Simon and Little Tommy Tucker. Peter’s eyebrows rose in surprise. Setting the breakfast on a sawhorse, he pulled Jack aside.
“I ken ya said we need more help but how am I suppose’ta pay these fellas for their time, Jack? My budget be stretched as ‘tis.”
Jack winked and grabbed a blueberry muffin. “Simon only needs a penny to pay back the pieman at the fair and Little Tommy’s only asking for a loaf of white bread and a bowl of butter. He’s quite tired of singing for his supper, you know.”
Peter eyed the two men, who shuffled nervously in front of the building project. “Well, I trust yer judgment, Jack.” Stepping closer to Simon and Tommy, he gestured at the tea and muffins. “Ye boys best break yer fast afore we set to work this morn.”
It wasn’t long before the four men were scaling the ladder and slipping the roof off of Peter’s future home. Peter glanced down into the building and grimaced at the slippery strands, like long spider webs, stretching across the innards of his future home. His fist clenched around his shovel and he slid feet-first into the pumpkin. Simon jumped in next to him and the two started filling buckets with slimy seeds. Once full, Little Tommy Tucker and Jack would haul the load up and dump it outside, where four and twenty blackbirds descended to pick and caw at the feast.
Around noon Peter and his crew paused for a break.
“I ordered some peas porridge early this morn,” Peter sighed, rolling his aching shoulders. He rubbed a weary hand over his neck. “Should be arrivin' any time now.”
“As long as it’s hot,” Jack said with a chuckle.
Simon sniffed and pulled a hanky from his pocket. “Hey, it’s not half bad cold.”
“Or nine days old, for that matter." Little Tommy butted in.
Peter wrinkled his nose. “It’ll be hot, fellas. And,” he squinted past a mound of pumpkin guts and blackbirds. “It appears to be on its way.”
A woman with jet black hair, wearing a crimson dress, was marching their way. “Excuse me!” she called.
“That’s not the delivery girl,” Jack complained, shooting Peter a disappointed look.
“Delivery girl?” the woman stomped a leather boot. Her hands took a defensive stand against her curvy hips. “I am a Spanish princess and I have traveled far to find the man with the tree that bore a silver nutmeg and a golden pear. I was told I could find him here.”
Peter fought back a smile and shook his head. “Nay, me lady. That fella lives ‘tween the ole woman who lives in a shoe and the farmer in the Dell.”
“Oh,” the princess’s gaze followed Peter’s finger across the field and past a crooked house. Her lips pressed into a pout. “I suppose I should keep walking then,” she sighed.
“Aye,” Peter nodded.
“First I want to know what you’re doing here. It’s a very curious sight, I must say. Birds everywhere and a pumpkin the size of a house!”
“Aye,” Peter said again. This time he couldn’t help but laugh. “We’re buildin’ a house.”
“Out of a pumpkin?” the princess gasped. “But … but why?”
Peter picked up a long knife and tested the sharp point with his thumb. Simon and Jack had already hefted their own knives and had started carving a door in the front of the giant gourd.
“Well, ya see, I have this wife but I can’t seem ta keep her. She keeps runnin’ off, ye ken? I figured if I put her in a pumpkin shell, I could keep her there fairly well.”
The princess’s blue eyes widened and her full lips twitched. Without a word, she turned on her heel and ran away. Peter shrugged and turned to the pumpkin. It was time to get back to work.
Nursery Notes ▼