Viviane

So by now you must be wondering what has happened to Bren and the other children, and the snake. Well, Serpent and Jon disagreed on which way to go on nearly every turn and every bend, curve or corner. Mostly, Jon insisted that the mountain was to the west, but Serpent guided the eastward. After meandering from west to east, slowly making their way northward, for quite some time Bren decided that they needed to go one way or the other; either Jon would lead them or Serpent would. They quarrelled and bickered about who should lead them for ages and when Bren decided that Jon would lead them Serpent went off in a huff and made his way eastward by himself.

            They felt bad about leaving him on his own – all of them except Jon, who was still annoyed with him – and didn’t see him for quite some time, until they saw him whizzing past them from right to left, and then left to right. He must have been following them. They didn’t speak to him for a long time though, but they did occasionally catch a glimpse of him as he zipped past.

            They seemed to have more of a direction under Jon’s guidance as they headed north-westward and very soon they came to a clearing. As they approached, they noticed that the clearing was enormous. It would take days and days – or maybe even a week – to walk all the way round it, and right in the centre was a colossal mountain (and several others behind it), and at the top of the mountain – you could only just see it from the bottom – was a city. As they left the cool cover of the trees, they could really feel the sunlight, and it was strong. As soon as Ben stepped forward into the clearing he felt tremendously drowsy and all of a sudden he could barely walk. He wanted nothing more than to sit and lay in the sun for the rest of his days.

            Jon pulled him back into the shade. “This is mount Olympus” he explained. “There is a path that leads to the city on top, but it will take us a day-and-a-half to get there. We will need to pack food and water and we will need some umbrellas for shade, so we don’t get stuck in the heat of the sunlight.”

            They walked around the edge of the clearing until they came to a lake with a boathouse and a teashop sitting just on the edge, peeking over the lake. There was a full teapot inside, and freshly baked cakes, and all sorts of delicious treats along with the most beautiful smelling vegetable soup. How Bren loved soup! But there was nobody in! It must be closed thought Bren, Jon, Jenna and Rebecca simultaneously, each as disappointed as the next. No cakes for Jenna, no treats for Rebecca, no soup for Bren and no – well – nothing for Jon either! Oh how terribly disappointed they were!

            Just then Serpent turned up. He saw their glum faces and went over to tell them his solution.

            “We can’t just take the cakes!” squealed Jenna, shocked and appalled (oh how she loves to screech and squeal! Thought Bren) “They obviously belong to somebody, and somebody who has put a lot of time and effort into making them too!”

            Bren and Jon neither agreed, nor disagreed with either point. Although someone had put a lot of time and effort into making the food, they had obviously put a lot of time and effort into making it delicious! It all looked stunning and smelled marvellous. It didn’t take a lot of convincing from Serpent and Jon was giving Bren a boost through a small open window into the teashop. He brought out cakes for Jenna, treats for Rebecca, soup for himself, a bit of everything for Jon and a teapot and some cups for everyone.

            The all sat and ate and ate, and even when it was all gone and they were completely full, they wanted more. They heard the voices of a lady and a man coming toward them and they all ran and hid in a bush, leaving the cups, teapot, plates and bowls where they were. When the lady found that someone had broken into her shop and ate all of her food, she was so upset that she fell on her knees and wept.

            They all felt terrible and when they turned to ask Serpent what they should do next – as this was all his idea! – they found that he had ran off and left them (as he was wont to do). Bren decided to confess and to make it up to her – for all his flaws Bren could, in some respects, still be considered a decent young man, and if there is one thing that any decent young man cannot bear to do it is to just sit by and watch when a lady is crying. His eyes stayed fixed to his feet as he climbed out of the bush and walked over to her. She didn’t look up at him until he knelt beside her, and then he explained everything.

            She was – understandably – upset, and annoyed with the children, but she understood that they wanted to make up for it. She introduced herself as Viviane and suggested that they could help her to make all of the cakes, treats and soup again and they could boil the kettle and make her another pot of tea. They could also clean all of the crockery they used, and by then, they would have made up for their misdemeanours. She even suggested that they should take food with them when they left and her umbrellas too, and above all she warned: do not trust snakes!

            The children each promised that they would never listen to the snake again and they meant it too. He was a contemptible and deceptive creature. They each said they were sorry and got to work. Bren started on the soup, as Jon put the kettle on, Jenna found some cake recipes and Rebecca helped Viviane to make all sorts of puddings, tarts and other deserts. When it came to washing up there was much more than they had expected (they had accumulated lots of pots and pans, and trays and bowls while cooking) and it took them forty-five minutes to finish it!

            Finally they were done, and they sat and had tea with Viviane and her man-friend, Dan. She sent them off with the food they had made and an umbrella each, and their farewell was much more pleasant than the situation in which they had met. As they set foot on the mountain they saw Serpent whizz ahead of them. What a loathsome and wicked creature he is.

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