Chapter the 27th: The Way Home
After a hearty tea, not quite so homely as the first one Jonathan had experienced with Auntie Woezzl, there were indeed journeys to be made. Scramble had to return to the woods where the Ulban Hills met Zymel Meadow, although he could make his return homeward in the company of Lady Isapheria and Fulsome. These had to continue westward to the Gardens, where, as the travelers informed her Ladyship, the Timnel and its staff awaited her.
Jonathan, of course, had to return home. He was just realizing how long he had been away.
“My parents must be ill with worry over my whereabouts,” he fretted.
“Just leave everything to your Auntie,” the noble lady replied.
“But it’s been days since I left home,” Jonathan countered.
“In Wolmsley and the Isenwild, it has, Grubbley, but not in your land. See, even now the clouds regather to escort you home on the very day you left.”
“I don’t understand, Auntie Woezzl.”
“You needn’t understand, Grubbley. If you had understood, I’m sure you would not have gone to face the enemy on my behalf.”
Before any of the three could protest her use of the term “enemy,” she responded quickly, “Yes, I know Hermann was a likable gnord as ever there was. And he was not all bad. The Timnel had never had a better castellan, and I suppose I could not face him myself because I knew he was such a love. Nevertheless, his designs were ultimately evil, and he would have destroyed all the beauty of which he was so proud had he continued unchecked. It is both a relief and a great sadness that it was the Gardens themselves who had to end his days. I am sure he is please to know that his glorious wings now grace the gates of Isapher.”
“Excuse me, your Ladyship,” Fulsome began. “There is one thing I still do not understand. Why did my family tell me Cluggin would carry me away if I were good?”
“Don’t you see, Sir Fulsome, that you have been good, and I am carrying you away?”
“Quickly now, we must see my champion, Sir Jonathan, off towards his home.”
And so they rose and went outside, where it was beginning to sprinkle.
“I regret that I cannot offer you my yellow bumbershoot to ward off the droplet, Grubbley, but you could never explain it to your parents. Besides, I suspect it will clear soon. Now proceed due south toward the Isa River. The spell is broken, and I am afraid you will soon be out of Wolmsley Wood forever. But it has been good, and we shall always remember you dearly. And don’t forget your rubbers and overcoat.”
Fulsome proffered them and Jonathan dutifully donned them. He then shook Scramble’s paw, hugged the grey, leathery fetchit, kissed his Auntie’s cheek, straightened himself manfully, and set out.
The weather did clear as he walked among the trees and they gradually became more familiar. There was soon no doubt that he was strolling among the trees of the Grubbley orchard. When he came to the soggy back lawn, which just once in his life may have been the Isa River, he ran across the squishy gravel path to the door and entered the house through the kitchen.
“Where have you been, Jonathan,” his nanny inquires as he hurried up the stairs.
“Strolling through the orchard,” he tried to reply casually.
“You really oughtn’t on a day like this,” she reprimanded tersely, but Jonathan was already in his room now. As he looked out the window, he tried to catch a glimpse of Wolmsley Wood, but only saw the same old trees he had always seen.
As for the others: Scramble, Watcher of Wishwood, returned to find a much more receptive Miranda, Fulsome became almost as gracious a castellan as Hermann as he watched over the great castle that became his home, and the wrinkled old lady of Wolmsley Wood ruled wisely and kindly over the Isenwild for many years and was remembered for many more as the loveliest Chlougheign (or is it Cluggin?) of them all.
(“What is that: a Norman ending?” Fulsome protested.)