The Swamp – Day Four

If only the strangest thing I had to deal with today was an argument between the cauldron of plenty and my singing tea kettle.

The kettle was an earlier gift (I use the term loosely) from the double rainbow and has settled in surprisingly well. It sings as it boils its water and the melodies are charming. I have to take it out and let it boil on a campfire every now and again, so it can get some of the more robust operatic arias out of its system, but in general it’s all very civilised

Naturally it was most put out by the cauldron’s rude usurpation of its fire hook and the cauldron sulks and pings coins around the room whenever I remove it from the hearth. I haven’t yet put anything else into it. Can you imagine if it got into a mood with stew inside?

They were clanging and hissing and rattling fit to wake the dead this morning and I only managed to settle things down by promising the cauldron a full night on the hook and the kettle an evening out on a campfire, under the stars.

I’d have to see to a second fire hook and probably a larger fireplace. That’s if the cauldron stays. It feels far too disruptive to be somewhere this quiet for long.

I checked the place I normally set any fire I have outside, well away from the forest trees and my orchard, on a nice little rise to one side of the island with a view across the swamp. I’ll admit, it’s not the most inspiring outlook but it’s calm and I’m fond of it. The ring of stones was undisturbed and I set a decent store of wood beside it.

I wondered what the cauldron would make of the kettle’s outdoor tripod, it seemed to be the covetous type.

As evening came in, I settled the cauldron onto the hook. It’s smug little clang as it slid into place made me want to smack it. Instead, I pulled out the tripod, checked it was all in order, and stalked out of the door, tripod in one hand, kettle full of water in the other.

What felt like a coin hit me in the back, not hard, the cauldron was petulant but not vicious. I smirked and said to the air. “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

I soon had a lovely little fire going and the kettle was indulging in a full range of musical delights.

As always happened when the kettle sang outside, we attracted an audience. The various creatures of the waters and the woods gathered, just on the edge of vision and hearing, and the will-o-the-wisps whirled above us. I wondered if we’d spared any unwary traveller an unexpected fall this evening as the faery lights chose to wheel and dance above us rather than lure people from the faint paths in the wilderness behind me.

Then I noticed they weren’t dancing alone. Between the amorphous balls of light bounced bees. Many, many bees. It seemed a swarm had been attracted along with all the other creatures and they were delighting in a mid-air ballet with the will-o-the-wisps.

One bee danced its way down and landed on my knee. If I wasn’t mistaken, and I’m rarely mistaken in these things, it was the swarm’s queen and I was uncomfortably sure she was looking for a new home.

Not that my island wouldn’t be perfect, mind, what with the ward and the blossoms in the orchard and the herb garden, but where would they live? I have no hives.

My ward shimmered in a Cernunnos sort of way and the bee took off in that direction. I left the kettle singing and found Cernunnos standing awkwardly just inside the barrier. He was holding a large beehive.

The queen was buzzing around it, putting me strongly in mind of someone assessing the suitability of a new house.

I raised a brow. He tucked his neck into his shoulders. “Her Queenship was looking for a new home and asked me to build one that would fit nicely into yours. I said she should ask your permission first, but I thought I’d build it just in case.”

The bee flew up, then back down again, a summons I would guess, since the rest of the swarm arrived seconds later. They danced in the air beside me, forming a question mark. Oh saints and spirits, they were those kinds of bees.

Nothing for me to do or say but to welcome them and find a suitable spot in the orchard for the hive. Not that I was in any way upset you understand. A hive of sentient bees looking over my home and my neighbours? This was a boon beyond value.

Cernunnos positioned the boxy wooden house to everyone’s satisfaction and said. “You’ll learn their language over time, although I’m sure you’re picking up much of the intent already. Her Queenship wishes you to know that you may remove wax and honey from the front section whenever it’s full, then when that’s cleaned and returned, you may do the same regarding the back section.”

I laughed. “Very sensible and organised. Thank you, Your Queenship.”

The queen bee circled my head once, then flew into the hive with a satisfied buzz.

All in all, the kettle returned to the kitchen very happy with its evening out.

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