A young child finds his first friend
The House Elf
In a small, country home nestled within the arms of the forest, lived Theodore Bodducker, a House Elf. He stood all of nine inches tall with tiny hands and a turned-up nose, curly blond hair he stuffed beneath a wrinkled old cap with a blue-jay's feather stuck in one side.
Like most Elves, he was quick as a wink, and the large human folk that lived with him, never knew he existed at all. Until one day, when young Billy Adams was playing “explorer” under his bed, he noticed a small loose board. Carefully lifting it up, he found Theodore fast asleep in an old cigar box. It was just a simple matter of flipping the box lid closed and the House Elf was trapped.
“Wow! I can’t believe it! I’ve caught a little man!”
No sound came from the box, and Billy began to wonder if he had actually captured anything at all. He dared not peek inside for that would surely be the moment that the little creature would try to escape.
“Hello? Are you still in there? I won’t hurt you. I promise! Won’t you at least talk to me?” Still there was no answer from inside the box.
Billy was pretty sharp for an eight year old, so he set the old cigar box on a shelf and put a fair-sized rock on top. “That ought to hold you ‘til you decide to talk,” he said, triumphantly.
He sat down on his bed and rested his chin in his hand thinking hard. Billy was patient and knew how to play the waiting game. He had played it many times before with his mother.
“You can’t open your presents until Christmas morning, Billy. You’ll just have to be patient and wait.”
“Ahh, geewiz . . . Mom!”
Inside the box, Theodore also sat thinking hard.
“Hello!” Theodore finally called out. “I’m still in here . . . are you still out there?”
“Oh, yes, I’m still here,” Billy said, smiling and climbing off the bed. “Are you still in there?”
“Uh, yeah, I’m afraid so.”
“You’re really real, aren’t you? This is so fantastic! My name is Billy, what’s yours?”
“Yeah, yeah, I know who you are,” Theo said sarcastically. “I was here long before you ever moved in. In fact, I’ve lived here all my life. This just happens to be my house! Now please, let me go!”
“First, tell me who you are,” said Billy cleverly. “What’s your name? What are you, anyway?
“Names are shared between friends. And friends don’t lock their friends inside of cigar boxes!”
“Oh, well I . . .” Billy thought for a moment. “I didn’t want you to run away. At least not until I had a chance to get a good look at you. Besides, you’re the smallest person I’ve ever seen!”
“How can you see me when you’ve shut-me-up inside of here?” asked Theodore.
“You’re right,” Billy said feeling a little sorry. “I outta let you out. It’s just that . . . well, I don’t have any real friends to play with, not even a brother or a sister. It would be awfully nice to have a friend like you. Won’t you just, you know, be my friend? Please?”
"I can see why you don't have many friends, you woke me from a very relaxing afternoon nap, bent the feather on my hat, and locked me up like a prisoner. With all your rudeness, the word 'friend' doesn't come to mind."
“No, no, not at all. I’m so sorry! Here, let me open the box.” Billy removed the rock and gently carried the box to his bed. “Please, don’t run away. I promise I won’t hurt you. Honest to goodness!”
Billy slowly opened the lid, and in a flash, Theodore was out of the box and on the other side of the room.
“Ah, I knew it! I knew it! I just knew you’d run away!” Billy flopped down on his bed in a discouraged heap, then rolled over and buried his face into his pillow.
Theodore watched the boy from behind the leg of a very large stuffed bear. He heard him crying. Cautiously, he crept toward the bed to get a closer look. Theodore knew what it was like to be lonely. He knew how terrible it could be and how the feeling could sometimes make you cry. He felt sorry for the child. Quickly, he jumped onto the bed next to Billy so he could study him for a moment.
The child was dressed in blue jeans with a plaid shirt. His brown hair was long and uncombed. Theodore slowly approached and sniffed the air. The boy smelled of cookies and milk, Theo’s favorite.
“You didn’t try to chase me,” he finally said. “Why didn’t you chase me? I thought that’s what all humans did.”
Billy lifted his head and stared in amazement at the little man standing in front of him. Theodore wore a light brown outfit made from an old gunny-sack that was trimmed in shiny, green ribbon. His brown cap looked to be made from the fur of some animal, possibly a mouse or a rat. Stuck into the over-sized hat was a bright blue feather from a jay-bird.
“You’re different,” Theodore said, matter-of-factly. “I like that.”
Theodore reached toward Billy and touched a tear he saw running down the boy’s cheek. “You really are different, aren’t you. Please, don’t cry anymore. I promise I won’t run away.” Theo smiled hoping to cheer the boy up. “Uh, so, you wanted to look at me -- go ahead! Look all you want.”
Billy stopped sniveling. “Who are you?” he asked, wiping his eyes dry with the back of his sleeve.
“The name’s, Theodore Bodducker,” he said, removing his hat and performing a low sweeping bow. “At your service.”
Billy smiled at the gesture. “What are you?”
“I’m a House Elf!” exclaimed Theodore putting his hands upon his hips. “You didn’t think I was human, did you?”
“A House Elf? Are there more like you?”
“Oh, no!” said Theodore, slowly shaking his head. “Sadly, there is only me.”
“Oh, that is sad. How long have you lived here all alone?”
“Hmm, I don’t really know. My family lived here since the beginning.”
“You have a family?”
“Of course, don’t you?”
“I mean, where are they?”
Theodore hung his head down. “Oh, if only I knew ....”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel bad. I’ve still got my mom. I don’t really know what happened to my dad. I’ve just never had one that I can remember.”
“Ah, yes, I know how you feel. Long ago, when I was very young, an old gentleman came to live in the forest. He was the kindest human the elves have ever known. His name was William Adams, your great grandfather, Billy. He built this house with his own hands and invited all the elves to stay with him. We lived out in the open and never had to hide. One day, he became very sick and some people came and took him away. He never came back again.
“We lived here all alone then, until finally another family of humans came. They were not like your great grandfather. They were uncaring humans that thought of no one but themselves. With them came three giant, slobbering dogs that chased all the elves out of the house. But my parents refused to go and we hid under the floor boards. One night the dogs discovered where we were and attacked us. In the horrible commotion that followed, I was knocked down a large water pipe. When I was finally able to drag myself out, my family had disappeared.” Theodore sighed, heavily. “I only hope that they made it safely to the forest,” he said, staring off into the distance.
“Since then, I’ve learned the ways of mean humans and their snooping, sniffing pets. I stay well hidden at all times and leave traps full of black pepper for any nosy beasts.”
“Oh, Theodore, that’s just terrible! Luckily, we don’t have any pets, not even a canary.”
“I know, Billy, and that’s why I want you to stay. It’s so good to have an Adams living here again. I especially love your mom’s cookies. They’re the best I’ve ever tasted.” Theodore smacked his lips and smiled. “Do you really want to be my friend?”
“Oh, yes, Theodore! Yes!”
“All right then. We’ll be friends, Billy Adams. We’ll be friends forever!” Theodore reached up with both hands and grabbed Billy’s little finger and they shook on it.
And so it was that Billy Adams and Theodore Bodducker came to love each other like family.
They were inseparable, and there was never a moment when they weren’t together having an adventure of one kind or another. Often times, while playing outside, Theodore would ride upon Billy’s shoulder hanging tightly onto a lock of his hair. But whenever Billy’s mom was around, Theo would make himself comfortable in the front pocket of Billy’s shirt; staying well out of sight. Together they searched the surrounding forest for Theodore’s missing family, but never found them.
“Someday we’ll find them, Theo, just you wait and see.”
“That’s nice of you to say, Billy, but I think I may be the last Bodducker alive,” Theodore said sadly. “Maybe the last House Elf in the whole wide world.”
“Oh, Theo, don’t talk like that. I’m sure there’s another Elf out there somewhere. We’ll keep looking and never give up, okay?”
“You are a good friend, Billy Adams . . . a good friend.”
“Billy! Billy Adams!” It was Billy’s mom. She sounded serious. “Are you up there?”
“Yeah, Mom!” he yelled, then signaled for Theodore to hide as his mom’s footsteps could be heard coming up the stairs.
Theo scrambled under the bed, as Billy met his mom at the bedroom door. She was carrying a giant pile of blankets, some clothesline, and a hammer and nails.
“Help me with this stuff, would you, dear?”
“Sure, Mom.” Billy took the top half of the bundle from his mother, revealing her face. “What’s going on anyway?”
Mrs. Adams was an attractive young woman about twenty-nine years old. She had curly blond hair that was now securely wrapped in a blue cleaning-smock.
“Be a good boy and carry up the cot at the foot of the stairs too, please.”
“Are we having company, Mom? Who’s coming over?” Billy dropped his load on the bed.
Mrs. Adams set her bundle of blankets down and began to stretch the thin rope. “I’ve just received some distressing news from your Uncle Jack,” she said as she worked.
Billy saw the worry in her face. “Is everything okay, Mom?”
“Yes, thank God, everything is fine now. There was a terrible fire! And your Uncle Jack’s house burned down to the ground. Everything they owned was destroyed, the poor dears. I’ve invited his whole family to stay here with us for as long as they want; at least until they can sort this whole mess out, okay? It’s really a miracle that no one was hurt.”
“Stay here? In my room?”
“Your cousin Charlotte will share this room with you. You remember her, don’t you?”
“Sure, Mom, but she’s a girl. Can’t she stay in the spare room?”
“I’m afraid not. That’s where her mom and dad will be staying, Billy. I have an idea though. We’ll divide the room in half with blankets, that way, you’ll each have a little privacy.”
Mrs. Adams hammered one end of the clothesline into the wall, then pulled the rope tight to the other side of the room and fastened it there. Billy helped her throw quilts and blankets over the entire length of the rope which she secured with clothespins.
“Thanks for helping, honey. They should be here sometime this afternoon. Now, I want you to be nice to your cousin Charlotte, okay? She lost everything she owns in that fire, everything but her silly old doll house that my grandpa built years ago when he used to live here. Your Uncle Jack said she actually ran back into the burning building just to get it; she frightened him so much he almost had a heart attack. He said he didn’t know what had got into her to do such a crazy thing. Kids today, jeez . . . .”
“This isn’t fair, Mom. This is my room! She better not touch my stuff!”
Mrs. Adams ruffled Billy’s hair. “It’s just temporary, Billy. Please promise to be kind to her.”
“Aw Mom,” Billy whined. “Okay, I promise.”
“That’s my boy. Now, I’ve got to get the other room ready. You keep an eye out for them. They should be here anytime.”
“Oh, all right, Mom. I will.”
Billy plopped down on his bed as his mother left. He felt pretty upset about the whole thing. “Gosh, Theo, what are we gonna do now?”
Theo came out from under the bed and hopped up next to Billy. “Well, I sure hope they don’t have any pets. I was just getting used to the way things are around here. Maybe your mom could make some cookies to welcome them.”
“Come on, Theo, this is serious. You’re gonna have to stay hidden all the time now. There’s no way Charlotte is going to believe a House Elf lives with me.”
“It is sad for us, my friend, but sadder still for your cousin. Fires can be terrible things! I dislike them more than animals. I remember my parents telling me about how a forest fire drove them away from their first home. House Elves are bound to their houses, you know, Billy. They can only leave if they are chased out, or if their home is destroyed.” He sadly shook his head. “Fires can do that, yes they can.”
“You mean, you can never leave here? Ever?”
“Leave? Goodness no! This is my home. Why would I ever want to leave?”
“Well, what if I had to move? You wouldn’t come with me?”
“I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to go,” Theodore said, downheartedly. “You’re not moving are you?”
“No, but maybe someday I will. I couldn’t stand to leave you behind all alone, Theo.”
Theodore walked around and pulled gently on Billy’s hair. “I’ve always found, Billy, that whenever something bad happens, something good always happens right after. That way, the world stays balanced. Life continues to be . . . to be wonderful!”
There was the sound of a car pulling into the driveway.
“Billy! Billy, they’re here,” cried out his mother. “Come down and greet them, will you?”
Billy and Theodore ran to the upstairs window. A small grey car was parked outside. Theodore watched as a man and a woman got out. The man pointed to the house enthusiastically while he grabbed the woman around the waist and held her close to his side. Theo thought they looked nice enough, and very happy too. He didn’t see any pets.
The woman turned to the back door of the car and opened it. A small girl with long blond hair and a yellow dress stepped out. She seemed sad compared to the man and woman. Theodore watched her curiously.
“That’s Charlotte,” Billy said. “She’s all right, I guess. All she ever does is play with her dolls.”
The little girl lifted a miniature house out of the back seat of the car and gently carried it toward the house.
Billy saw his mom run out and greet her brother and his wife. They hugged each other for a long time.
“You better hide, Theo. I’ve gotta go say hello to everybody and then I’ll be back.” Billy dashed down the stairs.
Charlotte was standing at the foot of the stairs holding her large dollhouse. Billy noticed how much she had grown since the last time they had met. She was a year older than him.
“Hi, Charlotte, can I help you carry that upstairs? That’s where you’ll be staying.”
“Oh, no, I’ve got it, thank you,” she said. Charlotte looked at him. “It’s good to see you again, Billy.”
“Yeah, uh, you too, Charlotte. My mom and I divided the room with blankets. You can put your stuff against the far wall. Are you sure you don’t want any help?”
“No, I can do it, really. This is the only thing that wasn’t burned up in the fire, and I don’t want to see it get broken. Our great grandfather made it and it’s very old. I don’t want you to ever touch it, understand?”
“Yeah, sure, Charlotte, whatever. I don’t play with dolls anyway. Just don’t go messing with my stuff either, okay?”
“Fine!” She turned angrily and headed up the stairs with her dollhouse.
Billy watched her for a minute, shook his head, then ran outside to meet his aunt and uncle.
Theodore heard the little girl enter the room. Charlotte let out a big sigh as she looked around.
“Don’t worry, Rebecca. It’s all over now. We’re finally here at last.”
She gently set the large dollhouse down in the corner of the room.
“I hope you didn’t get bounced around too much. I was so worried about you!”
Theodore’s ears perked-up. He wondered who the little girl was talking to? He carefully crept-out from hiding and peeked under the wall of blankets. He saw Charlotte sitting in front of her dollhouse, peering into one of the upstairs windows just chattering away.
“This will be our room, Rebecca. You’ll be safe here with me, but you’ll have to stay out of sight. We’ll be sharing this room with my cousin, Billy. And we don’t want him snooping around, okay?”
Charlotte looked around to see if anyone was about.
“We’re all alone, Rebecca, you can come out now!”
The front door to the little doll house slowly began to open . . . .
Just then Billy came running up the stairs. “Charlotte!” he called. “Your mom and dad want you downstairs.” Billy entered the room and began checking his stuff to make sure everything was just the way he had left it.
“I’m coming,” she said.
Charlotte walked out from behind the quilts. Billy could see her plainly for the first time now that she wasn’t carrying that big old dollhouse. She was quite attractive. Her hair was the color of butter and her eyes were as blue as the lake Billy and Theo swam in all summer long.
“Uh . . .” Billy suddenly couldn’t think of what to say. He was mesmerized by how pretty Charlotte had become. “Your dad wants ya, Charlotte.” he stammered. He noticed her yellow dress had a large pocket sewn in the front and that she had both her hands crammed inside as though she was hiding something.
“Thanks for sharing your room with me,” Charlotte said smiling. Then quickly, she kissed Billy on the cheek and ran downstairs, giggling.
Billy touched his cheek feeling his face turn warm. He stood there dumbfounded for a minute unable to move or think.
“Pssst, Billy.” It was Theodore. Billy had forgotten all about the elf.
“Billy? Are you okay?”
“Are you okay?” repeated Theodore.
“Yeah, yeah, sure. What happened? Did she see you?”
“No, of course not, but I’ve got to get a look inside that dollhouse. I heard her talking to somebody!”
“Oh, that’s just Charlotte playing with her dolls.”
“No, I don’t think so. There’s somebody inside that dollhouse, I’m sure of it!” Theodore took-off running for the dollhouse.
“No, Theo! Get away from there.” Billy quickly chased after the elf. “Theodore, I promised Charlotte I wouldn’t touch that.”
Theodore was already opening the front door and looking around. He sniffed the air. “I smell something,” he said. “Something I haven’t smelled in a very long time.”
Billy got down on his hands and knees then looked through the dollhouse window. “I don’t see anything, Theo.”
Theodore stepped lightly inside and began to explore. “Billy, you should see all this stuff in here. There’s a small sofa, chairs, bed, and even a mirror on the wall.”
“Excuse me! Just what do you think you’re doing?” asked Charlotte standing right behind Billy and tapping her foot angrily with her hands planted firmly on her hips.
“Uh ... Charlotte!”
“How could you, Billy! You promised you wouldn’t touch it!”
“Charlotte, you don’t understand! I was just . . . .”
“Just what? You’re nothing but a big liar, Billy Adams! Now get away from there before you break something!”
“Okay, Charlotte, okay. It’s just that . . . .”
“Billy, please, just get on your side of the room and leave me alone!”
Billy looked at his cousin, then at the dollhouse. Theodore was still inside. “Charlotte, please let me explain . . . .”
She turned her back to him. “Just go!”
Billy glanced at the dollhouse and saw Theodore staring at him from the upstairs window. He put his finger to his lips warning Theo to keep quiet. Theo gave him a wink and ducked out of sight.
“All right Charlotte, I’m going.” Billy stomped away. “I didn’t hurt your stupid old dollhouse anyway,” he said as he left the room.
Charlotte watched him leave and then looked into the pocket of her dress. “Well, what do you think, Rebecca? Should we tell him? Sooner or later he’s going to find out.” She reached into her pocket cupping something in her hand. Then carefully lowered it down to the floor in front of the dollhouse.
A tiny six-inch girl with the face of an angel lightly stepped out. She had beautiful red hair that almost touched the floor. She danced from Charlotte’s hands and across the old wooden floorboards as though her feet barely touched the ground.
“Oh, Charlotte,” Rebecca said. “It’s just like I remembered it!”
She quickly jumped to the window, and took a deep breath. “I can smell the forest, Charlotte, the forest! Do you think there still might be others out there ... others like me?”
“We will search the forest until we find them, Rebecca. Just like I promised you.”
“I’ve waited so long! I do hope we can find them.”
“There are no others in the forest,” Theodore said as he boldly stepped out of the front door of the dollhouse. “We’ve searched. There is only me.”
Rebecca quickly darted behind Charlotte’s shoe.
“Oh my gosh!” exclaimed Charlotte. “You’re a House Elf!”
“Yes, I am. Isn’t that what you were looking for?”
“Rebecca, we’ve finally found a House Elf!”
“I haven’t seen one of my own kind for so many years,” said Theodore, totally thrilled. “Uh . . . do you think your friend is going to come out of hiding soon?”
Rebecca, unable to contain her excitement any longer, slowly peeked around the edge of Charlotte’s shoe to get a better look. “What’s your name?” she asked shyly.
Theo beamed a smile at her. “I am Theodore Bodducker!” he said, removing his hat and bowing. “Welcome to my home, m’lady. And what might your name be?”
“I am Rebecca Starrs,” she said blushing, “and this is my good friend Charlotte.”
“Pleased to meet you both,” said Theodore, placing his hat back upon his head.
Just then Billy entered the room and saw Theo talking with Charlotte. “Oh, no, Theodore! I told you to stay hidden!” He ran up and grabbed the elf in his hands and tried to hide him behind his back. “Look, Charlotte, no matter what, you’ve got to keep this a secret, okay?”
Charlotte started laughing. “No more secrets, Billy.” She bent down and lifted Rebecca up in her hands. “Meet Rebecca,” she said, presenting the beautiful red-haired elf, “my best friend.”
There was never a happier time for either of the elves, until one day . . . .