The Plink-Tink Door is a magical fairytale. It welcomes children again into the wonderful world of Boy and Girl where they explore the world around them. For the previous stories, click here (#1) and here (#2). The very first lesson is unpublished, but deals with learning how to properly hold and blow a flute.
For a .pdf of the music: We are working little gnomes
Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink, rattled the chain against the door as Mother closed and locked the house up for the night. It was a sign that she had finished with her sewing, finished with her reading, and finished with her everything-else. She had crept around the darkening house turning off the gaslights, thrown a large log in the fireplace to keep them warm, and set out the cat for a night’s hunt. All these tasks completed, it was time to lock up and go to bed.
Boy and Girl knew this. It happened every night. They lay there silently; warm under the quilts Mother had sewn them, and snug in the wooden beds Father had built. Girl sighed a little, and ran her hands along the bedrail. She felt the curves and angles of the wood, carved with the most beautiful scenes of animals, and insects by Father’s nimble fingers. Boy gripped the edge of his blanket and, turning onto his side, curled it into the crook of his arm, his fist under his chin, wrapping himself tightly into the folds of what once were curtains, tablecloths, and other pieces of fabric Mother had cut up and re-worked into the quilts.
They anticipated the soft scuffing of Mother’s late-night footsteps across the kitchen floor, down the narrow hallway where Cat slept, around the corner by the linen closet, and up the stairs to her and Father’s bedroom. With the soft familiar rasping sound of the hinges, their door was closed, and the house was still.
Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink.
The dark, Autumn air was still moist from the afternoon’s rain. Everything outside was shiny in the shadows, glinting any stray light from the crisp stars above. Even the dullest brown leaf, fallen weeks ago, was slick with glisteningly delicious rain-water. And, from the sound of the chain, another storm was coming in.
Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink. Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink.
“It must be very windy”, whispered Boy, for he knew Girl wasn’t asleep yet.
“Yes, it must be very windy,” she answered.
Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink. Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink. Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink. The sound was growing now; getting more…what was it, regular? It was as if someone were tapping the chain against the door outside.
“Do you think Mother let the chain fall?” asked Girl as she sat up on the edge of the bed, “I’ll just go set it again”.
“I do not think Mother let the chain fall,” replied Boy. “I think something else has happened, but I don’t know what that something-else is.” he said, also scooting to the edge of his bed, and also slipping on his house-shoes. “Let’s go find out what is making that tapping noise.”
So the two of them slid out of bed, tied their robes around them, and quietly entered the hallway, lantern in hand.
Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink. The sound continued, but now it seemed to be like wood on metal. Strange, they thought as they crept down the staircase, past the linen closet, through the narrow hallway where Cat was sleeping, across the kitchen floor, and up to the door Mother had locked. It was still locked.
Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink. The sound continued, but now that they stood in the kitchen, it seemed to be coming from the root-cellar. Boy looked at Girl. Girl looked at boy and they both shrugged their shoulders not knowing what to think, but the sound continued nonetheless.
Like shadows on wet grass, they silently opened the root-cellar door, allowing the light to fall on the earthen walls, wooden stairs, and dirt floor, and, to their surprise, little door. Boy looked at Girl and shrugged. Girl saw the little door, too.
“What is that?” asked Girl.
“When did that get there?” asked Boy.
“Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink” answered the door. They stood in amazement as the little wooden door, no bigger than a bag of flour, opened. As the lamp-light cascaded down the steps to the door, it illuminated a small man wearing brown woolen trousers, a bright green felted vest with swirly yellows and blues over a cream colored shirt, and a very surprised look on his face.
“Well, this won’t do,” he mumbled to himself as he stepped into the room, looking up the stairs directly at Boy and Girl. “Won’t do ‘t all.” He was quite small, and built like a box. “Can’t have Kynderken wandering about, can we? Sticky fingers, sticky noses sticking into everything they shouldn’t, those Kynderken. And telling stories, stories, stories, those Kynderken. Telling everyone about the Folk, they will. Telling stories, waving their sticky hands about. Telling everyone about the Folk. Can’t have that, can we? No, no, no. This won’t do ‘t all.”
By now, he had climbed the stair case, moved behind them, and was very gently urging them down into the basement toward the mysterious door.
“I don’t know that I want to go in there,” whispered Girl matter-of-factly.
“I’m certain that I don’t want to go in there,” stated Boy in reply as he jerked his hand free of the little man. Plink tink-tink, plink tink-tink. The sound echoed faintly from within the doorway as it opened up letting warm candle-glow fill the small basement. Then, the most delicious breeze of hot cocoa and fresh baked bread scents swirled around them. “Well, I’m mostly certain that I don’t want to go in there,” restated Boy. “At least, not alone…and if it were dark.”
“Kynderken, and on a work night.” the little man continued to mutter to himself. “And now they won’t come with me. Don’t know the opportunity I’m giving them. Don’t understand I have to let them in to the secret. Don’t know they’re Secret Foundlings now, these Kynderken. Don’t know nothing, Kinderken, don’t know nothing but sticky fingers, sticky noses, sticky business.” And, with this, the little man had vanished beyond the door into the welcoming candle-light and delicious smells.
Completely overcome by their curious natures and the possibilities of a taste of warm bread and cocoa, Boy and Girl nodded at each other, then crawled through the little door. The walls were carved out of stone, and near the ceiling were interestingly shaped gas lamps that appeared to be made out of scraps of brass and other things. Ahead of them a few feet further was another door, similar to the first, but with beautiful carvings, knobs, and gemstones set as a window. The ever-present plink tink-tinking was getting louder and louder.
Completely full of the want to learn what was behind that door, Girl turned the door knob, and pushed it open. Behind the door was the most busy of workshops! Lots of workers dressed the same as the little man were busying themselves about their work. Baker Gnomes in the far corner were working with their tiny fire-breathing dragons to bake the bread. Others weaved in and out of the crowd carrying platters of treats, trailed by rivers of sweet-smelling steam rising off the loaves and mugs. Gadget Gnomes sat on tall stools hammering away on the intricate objects in front of them, some of which looked strangely familiar to Boy and Girl. One lady-gnome in particular seemed to be walking right at them with a great smile, open hands, and a slight hint of caution.
“Welcome, Secret Foundlings.” she said as she rested in front of them. She was no taller than the rocking horse upstairs in their nursery. Her hair was a sparkling silver, tied back with a knot of brass and diamond. “You are quite unexpected, and also quite welcome. I suppose you’re interested to know what you’ve become, and how you’ve become here?”
Girl, thinking the lady was the most beautiful creature, with the most beautifully welcoming green eyes, smiled and giggled a little. “Hello,” she said. “I like your pretty hair clip.”
“Why, thank you Secret Foundling. Perhaps you will allow me to make you one?”
The Lady Gnome bade them follow her to a workstation where she very skillfully, and deftly pounded lumps of gray, silver, brass, and gold into thin strands with her hammer. As she worked, she sang her song.
We are working little gnomes,
We hammer metal,
When our eyes are grey and tired
We stumble home.
Then, after selecting gemstones the color of Girls eyes, she wound them together into a brilliant, and very difficult knot. Girl stooped down, as the gnome gently pulled back her hair, and clipped it into place.
“Oh, thank you! Thank you! It is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!”
“You are very kind, Madam.” interjected Boy “May I ask how this workshop came to rest in our basement? And, why do you call us Secret Foundlings?”
“Oh, certainly! You are a Secret Foundling because you have found the secret of us! We gnomes love to build, you see. We love to fix things. Every evening we walk to the workshop, and the tunnel takes us to another Kyndeken house. After everyone is asleep, we go into the house and find things which need mending. Why, just look over there and you’ll see things we’re fixing for your home.” And sure enough, on the table-tops across the workshop were many things which came from upstairs. A basket was being rewoven to collect eggs from the hens in. Tools were being straightened, and sharpened. Clocks were being oiled and having the time set right. And, across a few tables was a mountain of laundry being washed and mended!
They were led over to a lovely velvet couch where they sat for a while eating chewy bread and sipping velvety cocoa and watching all the wonderful mending and building and baking. They snuggled softly under a warm soft-woven blanket, and felt the comforting warmth of the dragon’s breath ovens until the small workshop faded behind drooping eyes, and they fell soundly asleep.
The morning sunlight made the white lace curtains shine like snow against the bedroom windows The wind had blown all the clouds and rain away, and the world outside was clean and vibrant with color. Girl stretched her arms and yawned, and tossed off the quilt on her bed. What a strange dream, she thought as she looked over at Boy who was looking back at her.
“Good morning, brother.” she said. “Did you sleep well?”
“I think so,” he answered.
“What a strange night I’ve had.” whispered Girl to herself.
“And what a strange night I’ve had.” whispered Boy to himself.
And Girl slowly reached her hand behind her head, and patted her ponytail, and was amazed by what she found.
Stay tuned for teaching strategies and activities!