The Castle’s Surprise
“GARRETT!” yelled his mother. “If you want breakfast you had better hurry!”
Garrett lazily stretched in his bed and then looked at his watch. I have twenty minutes, he told himself. If I hurry I can take a quick shower, have ten minutes to eat, and still catch the bus.
Smiling to himself he stretched luxuriously one more time then jumped out of bed. After his quick shower he headed downstairs for the kitchen.
His mom looked at his wet hair, smiled at him and said, “One of these days young man you are going to miss the bus and then what will your father say?”
Garrett returned his mom’s smile and between bites of food he said, “Aw mom, you say that every morning!”
“Yes I do and one day it is going to come true.”
I certainly hope not, thought Garrett. Dad already told me what he would do if I missed the bus. Out loud he said, “Don’t worry mom, I won’t miss the bus.”
Quickly he wolfed down the rest of his food, went upstairs , brushed his teeth, ran down the stairs, kissed his mom goodbye, and ran out the front door and managed to catch the bus, just in time. Man that was close, he thought.
Watching from the window his mother smiled and said to herself, “One day!”
Garrett is twelve years old and in the sixth grade. He has blondish red hair, beautiful gray blue eyes and is very skinny. He is about four feet eleven inches tall with great promise of reaching six feet or more, especially if he grows into his feet. At twelve he already wears a size ten shoe. Sometimes, because he is at that awkward stage and because of his giant feet, he stumbles and falls, which causes him great embarrassment. Of course, that also depends on who is looking at the time when he has what he calls one of his “attacks.”
Currently his family lives in Justin, Texas. They have a beautiful home. This is partly due to his mother’s creative decorating talent. Friends, and friends of friends, are always asking her for help and it has become a profitable business. Bethany, his mom, is thirty-five and stands five feet two inches tall. She has brown hair with lovely hazel colored eyes. Matthew or Matt, his dad is thirty-two. He is six feet two inches tall with short light brown hair, blue eyes that are darker than Garrett’s and is slim. He has very long legs. Matt works for the Electric Company.
“Hi mom, I’m home,” called Garrett as he entered the house.
“I’m upstairs sweetheart,” his mom called out.
Garrett entered the sewing room and said, “What, another order! You must be the best seamstress in Texas!” he declared.
“I doubt that but thank you. Are you hungry?”
What’s new, thought his mom. “There is some apple pie left and some milk in the fridge,” she offered.
As Garrett headed towards the kitchen she called out, “Only one piece and don’t forget your homework.”
“Aw mom!” Garrett yelled back.
He cut himself a generous portion of the apple pie and poured himself a large glass of milk. While he was finishing his homework his mom walked in and tousled his hair.
“Aw mom, you know I hate that!”
“Why do you think I do it?” she asked.
“I thought you did it because you love me not because I hate it.”
“There is that too. Did you have a good day at school?”
Thinking to himself he replied out loud, “Yeah, I did. I only had one “attack” today.”
“That is good,” replied his mom.
“What time will dad be home?”
“You can’t be hungry already. It’s not possible!” cried his mom.
Looking at her son’s sad expression she realized that it was possible. “If you are done with your homework why don’t you go out and play. Dinner will be at six thirty if I get started right now.”
Jumping out of his seat and heading for the front door he said, “Don’t let me get in your way. What are we having?”
“All right!” he yelled. Halfway out the door he stopped, “Can I help with anything?” he asked.
“Not right now. However, after I make the dough for the crust, and after it rises, you can help me make the pizzas,” she answered.
“How long will that take?” he asked.
“If you come back in an hour I will have the crusts rolled out and on the pans and we can add the sauce and toppings.”
Looking at his watch he said, “I’ll be back in one hour. Don’t forget I like thick crust.”
“Go on silly,” said his mom. “How long have I been making you pizzas?” she asked.
By the look in Garrett’s eyes she knew something special was coming. With eyes shining brightly he said, “Well mom, you aren’t as young as you use to be.”
Laughing she said, “Dear me, what was I going to make for dinner?”
Garrett laughed loudly and said, “Aw mom!” as he closed the door. When he reached the sidewalk in front of the house he stopped and stood still. He thought, She was kidding, right? He almost went back into the house to check but decided that she must have been kidding.
One hour later, Garrett entered the house. He went to the kitchen but his mom was not there. Neither were the pizzas. Hearing his mom’s sewing machine he ran upstairs.
“Hey mom, where are the pizzas?” he loudly asked.
“Hi dear, did you have fun?”
“Yes ma’am. Where are the pizzas?”
“Pizzas?” questioned his mom.
“You know, dinner at six thirty,” he prompted.
His mom jumped up, screamed and yelled, “Dinner!” and ran out of the room.
Garrett followed her wailing. “Mom, you didn’t forget the pizzas did ya? Mom?”
Garrett entered the kitchen where his mom was standing with the freezer door open. He heard her say to herself, “I guess we can have liver and onions with mashed potatoes.”
“Mom!” cried Garrett. “What happened to the pizzas?”
Still looking in the freezer his mom absentmindedly said, “Pizza, what are you talking about?”
Groaning Garret sank to the floor in despair. He muttered to himself, “Life’s not fair. We’re having liver and onions instead of pizza!”
Ignoring her son, Bethany opened the refrigerator door. “Maybe we have something in here,” she said.
She stood to the side so that Garrett could see inside. “This looks good,” she said.
Looking up Garrett thought, Anything will be better than liver and onions.
Inside the fridge were four pans with pizza crusts. “Mom!” exclaimed Garrett, “that was not funny.”
“Want to make a bet,” she said and then burst out in hysterical laughter.
Garrett was not amused. “Why are the pizzas in the fridge?” he asked.
Trying to control herself, she responded, “Your, your father ca-called. He, he is stuck in tra-traffic and will be, be late. I put, I put the crusts in the fri-fridge so they would not rise as fast. You should have, you should have seen your face,” she said as the tears streamed down her face. “I wish, I ha-had a camera!” She could not say anymore.
Grinning Garrett said, “You win this one mom but I will get even.”
While they were making the pizzas the phone rang. It was Garrett’s dad. Hanging up the phone Garrett said, “Dad will be here in ten minutes.”
“Perfect, the pizzas will be ready for the cheese by then. Come help me set the table.”
By the time Matt had cleaned up, the table was set and the pizzas were ready. After the blessing Bethany set the pizzas on the table.
“Eat before it gets cold,” she admonished.
She served Matt first and then put some on Garrett’s plate. “Enjoy your liver and onions,” she said tousling his hair.
Matt raised one eyebrow and asked, “Liver and onions, what’s that all about?”
Bethany started to tell him but could not stop laughing long enough. “You, you tell him Garrett,” she managed to say.
Garrett told his dad the whole story including what he thought while standing on the side walk.
“I knew it,” declared Bethany. “When I saw you standing on the side walk I knew what you were thinking and that is when I thought of my plan!”
“Let that be a lesson to you son. Never call your mom old.”
“Yes sir, I mean no sir, I mean I won’t!”
After dinner Garrett loaded the dishwasher while his mom put away the left over pizza.
While his mom went upstairs to finish sewing Garrett and his dad played video games together for a while. “I think that you had better be getting to bed. You have a bid day ahead of you tomorrow.”
“Yes sir, good night dad.”
The week before…
The drive to the castle took only thirty minutes. Everyone knew about the castle on Lake Lewisville but very few had ever been inside it – if anyone had. The castle is three stories high, plus attic and dungeon. It was built in 1907 by Mr. Ringgold and given to his wife for a wedding present. The castle originally was in Belgium and he had it dismantled and brought over to the states. It sits on two hundred acres of fenced in land and is on Lake Lewisville.
At the four corners there are towers and the castle is called Four Towers Castle. There are sixty-six rooms in the castle and a guest house out back. The castle cannot be seen from the road due to the curving driveway and all the trees. It can be seen from the lake along with the fifteen foot electric fence to discourage unwanted guests.
Mr. Appleton, the attorney handling the property, drove down the long driveway after keying in the proper code to open the gates. The drive was very pleasant. It was lined with Japanese Red Maple trees that were carefully trimmed so that they did not overrun the driveway. After a short drive of two hundred yards the driveway takes a sharp turn to the right, then after fifty yards it turns back to the left, and heads straight towards the castle. Mr. Ringgold designed the drive that way so that no one could see the house from the road. Even in winter the castle was not visible from the road. Mr. Ringgold liked his privacy. After making the turn the castle came into view.
“Wow!” exclaimed Garratt. “Is that my castle?” he asked excitedly.
“It is, if your parents decide to move here,” replied Mr. Appleton.
Bethany and Matt were too shocked to say anything.
The rest of the drive was lined with beautiful flower gardens. Some of them had fountains, and others had statues and benches. The whole landscaped yard was beautiful. The driveway went beside the left side of the castle to the back where the garages were. The driveway also branched to the right forming a large circle where guests could be dropped off at the front door. Inside the circle was a large fountain that shot sixty feet into the air.
“Wait till my friends see this!” exclaimed Garrett.
“Remember son, we have not agreed to move here,” said his dad.
Garrett did not respond. He was praying that they would move. Little did he know the surprise that was waiting for him inside the castle.
Mr. Appleton parked in front of the mansion. A very nicely dressed man came out of the castle and opened the car doors for them.
“Ah, Gentry, it is good to see you again. This is the Honea family. They may be the new owners of Four Towers Castle.”
Gentry bowed to them. Garrett started to giggle but stopped when his mom poked him in the side.
Extending is hand Matt said, “It is nice to meet you sir.”
Gentry, being a little nervous, was not sure what to do. Slowly he took Matt’s extended hand and said, “The pleasure is all mine, sir.”
Gentry opened the massive front doors and allowed the Honea family to enter. They were impressed.
It took a while for them to tour the large castle. It consists of sixteen bedrooms, some with baths. Ten of the bedrooms are guest suites. The rest are in the family quarters. There are two separate libraries, an art gallery, bowling alley, exercise room, men’s and ladies spas, and much more.
While they were touring the mansion Garrett kept hearing whispering voices. One time he stopped everyone and asked, “Did you hear that?”
No one had. Another time Garrett stopped and burst out with, “Surely you had that!”
“Heard what?” asked his mom.
“Never mind,” Garrett replied. Was he going crazy? He wondered.
Mr. Appleton led them down to the main sitting room. As they sat down to discuss the situation Garrett still heard voices. Normally they were not loud enough for him to understand what was being said but once in a while he heard someone say things like, “Is that him?” or “Is that the boy?” or “Is that the nundan?”
He did wonder what a “nundan” was.
“What do you think of the castle,” Mr. Appleton asked Garrett.
Hesitantly Garrett said, “I, um, think it is great.” Looking at his parents he said, “When can we move in?”
“I have a question before we decide what we want to do,” replied his mom. “Mr. Appleton, if we decide to move in and accept the inheritance for Garrett, will we be able to redecorate as we want to?”
“Yes and no,” answered Mr. Appleton.
“Could you be a little clearer?” asked Matt.
“The castle will be Garretts and he can do almost anything that he wants with it. The only thing he cannot do is tear out walls.”
(At this Garrett heard someone say, “I should hope not!” but who said it? He looked around but did not see anyone. No one else seemed to hear anything.)
“All the plumbing and electrical wiring is up to today’s standards.” Turning to Garrett he said, “You understand right, you can never take out walls or do anything to the structure. You may add on and redecorate however you wish but the original structure must remain the same or you forfeit the inheritance.”
“How strange!” declared Bethany. She and Matt looked at each other. She turned to Mr. Appleton and asked, “May we have a few days to think about it?”
“Certainly, but please do not take too long.”
Mr. Appleton stood up and headed towards the front door. The Honeas followed him. Before leaving the castle Garrett stopped, turned, and smiled. “I think I understand,” he whispered to himself.
The move went well. There was a large storage shed on the property so they stored all their furniture in it. To their surprise Mr. Appleton gave Garrett two checks. One was the fifty thousand dollar allowance and the other was a one hundred thousand dollar redecorating allowance from the estate.
Before Mr. Appleton left Garrett asked, “Sir, do I really own the castle?”
” Yes, you may do whatever you want to the castle except removing walls. Okay?”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir.”
It was decided that since Garrett owned the castle that he would live in the master suite. His parents would live in one of the large guest suites. That night a tired young boy fell asleep almost immediately. He had not heard any voices during the move in.
In the morning he awoke to hearing water running. He got out of bed and walked to his bathroom and saw a strange man.
“Master Garrett, I am running your bath sir,” said the man.
Quickly Garrett jumped back around the doorway. He was only in his underwear and he had no idea who the man was.
“Who, who are you?” he asked.
“My name in Jasper, sir, it is my job to run your bath and to look after you. I have already laid out your clothes. If you do not mind my saying so sir, I think that we need to go clothes shopping. You don’t have anything suitable for someone in your position to wear.”
“But, but…..” stammered Garrett.
Turning off the bath water Jasper said, “If you will step out of your shorts sir I will help you with your bath.”
Garrett turned red. “That’s okay Mr. Jasper, I can take my own bath, thank you.”
“As you wish sir. Your clothes for the day are pressed and laid out on the settee. If you need me I will be in the next room.”
Garrett waited for the man to leave. Quickly he got into the large tub filled with bubbles. He soaked for a while and really enjoyed himself. He pulled the drain on the tub and then turned on the shower to rinse all the bubbles off his body.
Garrett grabbed the large towel and dried himself off. He peeked around the doorway to be sure that Jasper had really gone. He walked into his bedroom drying his hair. Passing by his dresser mirror he stopped to admire his body in the mirror as only a scrawny twelve year old would do. He flexed his muscles and smiled.
The settee with his clothes was across the big room. He turned around and stood there staring. There on the settee, along with his clothes, was a boy. Shrieking, he grabbed the towel he had dropped and wrapped it around his body. Jasper came running in to see what was wrong.
“Are you alright Master Garrett?” asked Jasper.
Garrett stared at the man. He then stared at the smiling boy. Jasper looked at the settee and said, “I hope those clothes are okay sir. They were the best that I could find.”
Garrett realized that Mr. Jasper could not see the boy. “Yes Jasper, they will be fine, thank you. I will call you if I need anything.”
Jasper knew he was being dismissed so he left the room. Garrett slowly walked over to the settee.
“Who are you?” he asked quietly. He did not want Jasper coming back in.
“My name is TUMBLEKINATOUSNITbut you can call me Nit,” said the smiling boy. “I have been watching you.”
Garrett blushed. He could not believe that he was talking to a boy less than twelve inches tall. “You must be one of the little people. Are you real or am I dreaming?”
Before Nit could answer there was a knock on the door.
“Who is it?” asked Garrett.
“It is dad, may I come in?”
Garrett’s dad entered his room. Garrett looked at the settee but the boy was gone.
“Don’t you think you should get dressed son. After all, breakfast is waiting.”
Smiling Garrett said, “Yes sir, I will be right there.”
When his dad left he dropped his towel and reached for his underwear. At the same time the boy reappeared.
Garrett jumped back. “Don’t do that!” he cried. Quickly he got dressed.
“I can’t believe it. The little people are real?” asked Garrett again.
“Nit at your service sir,” said the boy with a bow. “I am a Niblet.” Before the tiny boy could a say more there was another knock at the door.
“Coming!” Garrett called out.
At breakfast Garrett was in for some more surprises. He and his parents sat down so that the servants could serve them.
In the middle of the table sat a large flower arrangement and Nit was standing by it smiling. Garrett just knew that everyone would see him but no one did.
The servants started putting the food on the table. Nit, who had not eaten much lately because there was no one to feed the Niblets stared hungrily at the food.
Nit looked at Garrett and made motions to show that he was hungry. Garrett understood but what could he do? Seeing that Garrett was not going to do anything Nit decided to takes matters into his own hands.
Slowly he walked across the table towards a plate of sausages. Garrett swished his hand at Nit and his mother saw it.
“Garrett what are you doing? You weren’t going to take a piece of sausage and eat it with your hands were you? You know better than that young man,” scolded his mom.
“No ma’am, I mean yes ma’am, I mean … oh forget it. I was not going to take a piece of sausage I was swatting a pest.”
Garrett said this and looked at Nit who was contentedly eating a small piece of sausage and smiling.
Nit, still being hungry decided that he wanted a bit of egg. He walked over to Garrett’s mom’s plate and examined it.
Garrett knew that no one could see Nit except him, but surely they would see the egg floating through the air. Quickly Garrett swished his hand over his mother’s plate knocking over her water glass. The water splashed on his mom. It gave Nit enough time to take a piece of egg and hide behind Garrett’s cup.
“Garrett, what is wrong with you this morning?” asked his mother.
“I’m sorry mom. It was an accident.”
Garrett saw Nit eying his father’s plate. He watched as Nit slowly made his way across the table. What should he do?
Garrett jumped up, dove across the table trying to capture Nit and proceeded to knock his father’s plate into his lap.
“Sorry dad, I tripped,” said the blushing Garrett.
Nit was in the middle the table rolling around laughing. Garrett thought about squashing the small boy but stopped himself when he wondered if that would be committing murder.
“May I be excused?” he asked.
“You did not eat very much,” said his mom.
“I’m not very hungry. I think I would rather explore the castle than eat right now, if that would be okay?
“Go ahead son,” said his dad. “Maybe it will calm some of your nervousness this morning.”
When Garrett left he heard his mom and dad talking about him. They thought that he was acting rather strange and decided to keep a close eye on him.
He heard several of the servants say how clumsy he was.
Back in his room Nit reappeared.
“I ought to clobber you!” whispered Garrett.
Nit smiled at him. “You cannot blame a hungry boy for trying to get some food.”
“Why are you hungry?” asked Garrett.
“You must be one of the dumbest nundan I know,” exclaimed Nit.
“What is a nundan?
“It is what we call you humans.”
“Wait a minute. Just how many of you are there?”
“We are a small colony. There are only about fifty of us.”
“Fifty!” exclaimed Garrett. “Where?”
Nit smiled at Garrett. “You really don’t understand do you?”
“I thought that when grandma talked about the “little people” that they were only in her mind. I can’t believe you are real? I’m glad I didn’t try and smash you.”
Nit stared at Garrett. After a while he said, “Maybe I should explain some things to you.”
“That would be nice. You can start by explaining why I can see you but no one else can.”
For the next hour, while Garrett lay on his bed, Nit explained everything to him.
“You mean that it is my job to provide food for all of you? What have you been eating since grandma died?”
“We have not been eating much. That is why I was and am so hungry.”
“Does anyone else in the castle know that you exist?”
“No, only those who we trust can see us. In fact-“
“Wait a minute, why do you trust me? You don’t even know me.”
“That is true but Mrs. Ringgold said you were someone we could trust. That is why she left the castle to you.”
“How did grandma get you food?”
“She always insisted on an evening snack. When it was brought to her she cut it up and we all came with our bags and loaded up on food. We have our own kitchens and are able to heat things up but not cook anything. We also have refrigerators and bathrooms, and things like that, but we have no food. We depend on you for that.”
“I’m sorry, I did not know. I will go right now and get some food.”
“I’ll come with you,” said Nit.
“No, you stay here.”
“I won’t be any problem. I promise.”
Yeah, right thought Garrett. Against his better judgment Garrett said that Nit could come. He was not sure how to keep him from coming anyway.
Garrett headed for the door.
“Nundan, aren’t you forgetting someone?”
Garrett looked at Nit. “I thought you would just follow me.”
“I could if I were as big as you are. Come here and hold out your hand.”
Garrett did as he was told. Nit stepped into his palm. Garrett realized just how much Nit trusted him.
“Put me in your shirt pocket. No one will see me and I’ll be able to see out.”
Gently Garrett wrapped the small boy in his hand, picked him up, and put him in his pocket. He then headed towards the kitchen.
Garrett quietly walked towards the kitchen.
“Why are you being so quiet?” asked Nit. “You are now master of this castle. You can whatever you want to do.”
“Not exactly. Anyway, here we are.”
Garrett opened the refrigerator door and asked Nit, “What do Niblets eat?
Laughing Nit said, “We eat the same thing as you nundans. We are just like you.”
Garrett grabbed a bag and started putting things in it. When he was nearly finished one of the maids entered the kitchen.
“Excuse me sir,” said the girl. She quickly left.
Smiling Garrett took the opportunity to escape and head back to his room.
The girl headed for the servants lounge. “You will never guess what I just saw the young master doing!” she exclaimed.
When everyone was looking at her she continued. “He was raiding the refrigerator and putting things in a bag!”
“Did you say in a bag?” asked one of the other servants.
“Yes!” she said and started laughing. “That boy sure is strange.”
At that point another servant entered the room. “If you are talking about the young master, you got that right. I just saw him with a bag in his hand and talking to his pocket!”
“He was doing what?” asked the head housekeeper.
“You heard me correctly; he was talking to his pocket!”
“Maybe he is as nutty as Mrs. Ringgold,” said another servant.
Everyone started laughing.
When Garrett got back to his room he set the bag of food on his bed. Nit hopped out of his pocket. Garrett spread out some paper on his desk and began to cut everything up. Soon Niblets began to appear.
He sat back and watched as the “little people” divided the food and left. He was impressed, they all said thank you.
Over the course of several weeks the servants noticed Garrett talking to his pocket. They saw him sneak food out of the kitchen. Often as he and his parents ate the servants saw Garrett slip food into a napkin in his lap.
When they were alone they all talked about the young and strange new master of the castle. It soon became the highlight of their day, to gather around their table at night relating their strange tales about Garrett and laughing their heads off. Garrett never knew what the servants were doing. He was having too much fun with his new friend Nit. That is, except when he was getting into trouble because of Nit’s antics.