Day 6 for The Cramp Birthday. I've been reading a lot of fairy tales. . .
|Once upon a time, there was a princess that was loved by all the creatures of land and sea. On the occasion of her 19th birthday, they decided that they would like to give her something to show their appreciation. Fox was elected to run into the castle and discover all that he could about human birthdays. The kitchens were what he was most familiar with so that is where he started. There he saw the cook hard at work making something called a birthday cake.
He watched her measure out flour and sugar and crack a few eggs but that was as far as he got before he was chased out amidst cried of, “I’ll get you, you wicked vermin.” It was nothing he hadn’t heard before. He circled back and made off with a bag of flour before they could catch him and then he reported to the circle of animals that waited in the forest.
The first order of business was finding something to mix it all in. Beaver hollowed out the side of a fallen tree.
Fox dumped the entire bag of flour into the basin. “We need water.” He said.
Elephant went to the stream to collect some and she sprayed it into the bowl with such violence that half the flour was lost.
Fox shook his head and sighed. Some creatures just have no subtlety. “Now eggs.” He said.
Duck and chicken brought one each and fox carefully cracked them open and dropped them into the flour and water. The birds tilted their heads. So that’s what the humans do with the eggs after they take them.
“Now for something sweet,” said Fox.
The bees delivered mouthfuls of honey.
“What now?” the animals asked.
Fox looked mildly ashamed at this. “I don’t know.” He said. “They chased me off before I could see.”
There was silence while they all took time to consider. “Well, why don’t we add some of our favorite things? She’s been here 19 years so I think we should have 19 ingredients.” Said Eagle.
The plan was agreed upon and all the animals went their separate ways to find treasures to add.
Monkey and Bat brought fruits. Mango and apples, respectively.
Rabbit brought carrots and Zebra brought grasses.
Pig snuffled up through the grass and dropped a truffle into the mix. “Humans,” he said, “are always having me dig around to find these. Can’t think why, but they do seem happy when I find them.”
Crow brought a wiggly worm and Caterpillar brought the most delicious of leaves.
Frog delivered sticky flies and, as he had decided that this concoction needed some more greens, a lily pad.
Donkey threw in a very choice turnip even though it was his last one.
Squirrel carried in some of his choicest nuts and chipmunk threw in a mouthful of seeds.
Eagle said, “From what I’ve seen of cakes, I think they are supposed to be a little more solid than this.”
The animals paused and considered. Pig sauntered off and returned with a pack of mud upon his back. “Here,” he said, “Take this.”
Sparrow flew off and came back with his family in tow, each of them dropping pieces of straw into the bowl.
They packed and molded until, by Eagle’s direction, they had a rough circular shape that did manage to approximate the look of a chocolate cake, sitting on top of another log by the entrance to the clearing.
“And now, for the final piece! The humans always put sticks in the top of the cake for decoration. Where is Beaver?” called the Eagle.
Beaver sauntered up and placed a perfectly cut stick into the top of the cake.
They all glowed with the pride of a job well done.
That afternoon, as the princess went on her afternoon walk, Fox went down the path to greet her. She brought her into the clearing where all the animals waited.
“Is this for me?” she asked when she saw what they had done. “Why thank you, my dears, I love it! This must have taken you all morning.” She said. “What a lovely gift.”
She spent part of the afternoon with them and they basked in the glow of her attention.
Before nightfall she sent for a wagon and the huntsman and had him load the cake up to take back home.
Next year on the princess's birthday the queen had a replica of the animal’s cake made, complete with a facsimile stick in place of the candle, with considerably less ingredients and significantly more cocoa.