‘C’mon Muffin,’ she said to her little dog. ‘Let’s play dress-up, I’ll be a fairy and you can be a dragon.’
Muffin looked at Rosie and pricked his pointy ears up. He wagged his stubby tail in agreement but he certainly didn’t LOOK like a dragon.
Rosie leafed through her fairy-tale book until she found a picture of a real fire-breathing dragon.
‘Hmm,’ she mumbled as she rummaged in the dressing-up box. ‘This will have to do.’
She dressed Muffin in a little, green t-shirt, which was adorned with spiky leaves.
‘There Muffin! Those leaves look a little bit like scales! I’ll just put this leafy crown on your head and you’ll be all ready to breathe fire!’
‘Follow me Muffin,’ she whispered. ‘Something’s going on in the kitchen.’ Muffin, in all his green glory, trotted at her heels all the way down the thickly carpeted stairs.
‘Perhaps Mum is baking a cake, let’s go and investigate.’
As they got closer to the kitchen Rosie’s nostrils began to do a little dance. ‘I just KNOW that something REALLY exciting is happening in here!’ she told Muffin as she opened the door a fraction and peered around it.
Rosie’s eyes grew round as she stared at the sight before her. She couldn’t see his face, because he was looking at the rocking chair in Mum’s needlework corner. But athough he was no taller than one of Rosie’s fashion dolls he looked very scary. Wild, red hair stuck out from his head and he shook his tiny, yellow fists.
Rosie heard him mutter in an out of breath voice. ‘This Fairy Queen’s palace is fit for a giant, so it is . . . but that there is comfilicious! And it’s exactly where I wants to be.’’
‘How did he know we were here?’ she whispered to Muffin, who just whined again and skulked further behind the coat-stand.
The little man turned around slowly and Rosie almost gasped out loud. Just like his hands, his face was yellow and his amber and blue eyes twinkled like jewels behind the strangest glasses she had ever seen.
‘I have the treasure to give ye,’ he continued in a pleading voice.
‘Did ye no hear me - oh Fairy Queen? I really need yer help. Have ye got tattie-bogles in yer luggins?’ he asked.
‘Wh-what are you doing in my h-house?’ she asked him - her voice coming out all squeaky. She swallowed once more and continued bravely, ‘And wh-what have you d-done with my Mum?’
‘Mum?’ croaked the little man. ‘What’s a Mum? I haven’t seen anyone but yerself and yer timid, wee creature friend - oh Fairy Queen. Has this Mum got wings like yers?’
He got to his feet again and spun around, taking in every corner of the kitchen. His purple waist-coat strained across his belly and Rosie saw a leather pouch hanging under his grimy, grey jacket. Tiny yellow feet stuck out from the hems of his brown trousers and green slime dripped off them. Rosie shuddered as she noticed slimy footprints all the way across the table top. She knew her Mum wouldn’t be pleased.
‘That’s disgusting!’ she exclaimed. ‘Mum will be very angry when she sees that, you know!’
He began to dance on the table and pull at his red hair. ‘The Mum’s going to get me! The Mum’s going to get me!’ he ranted, squeezing his eyes shut.
‘Don’t like angry! Don’t like angry!’ he said, dancing ever faster and spreading more slime along the table-top.
‘Stop that!’ ordered Rosie, walking towards the kitchen window. As she stretched out to grab a handful of paper towels from the dispenser she saw her Mum outside in the garden. She was pegging the washing onto the line.
The little man did as he was told and hopped down onto the chair, then down again onto the tiled floor. As Rosie wiped the table, she looked down at him, he didn’t look nearly so frightening anymore.
‘Okay!’ she said, turning round with her hands on her hips. ‘Who are you, where did you come from and what are you doing here?’
‘Ye’re very nosy for a Fairy Queen – that ye are,’ said the little man, slime still dripping from his trouser legs. He ran towards the rocking chair in Mum’s sewing corner, ‘It is me destiny to sit in this splendiferous chair - so it is.’
‘Oh no you don’t!’ said Rosie stepping in front of him. ‘You’re NOT putting your slimy feet on Mum’s pretty cushions.’
‘Erm . . . just Muffin and my dolls Mum,’ Rosie called back.
‘Okay!’ replied Mum. ‘We’ll have some lunch once I’ve finished pegging out the washing.’
‘Quick,’ whispered Rosie, ushering the little man towards the stairs. ‘Go upstairs, you’d better hide – at least until we can get you cleaned up properly - Mum doesn’t like dirty things.’
‘She called ye Rosie. A-are y-ye not the Fairy Queen?’ he stuttered. ‘Is this not the palace at the top of the hill?’