The Pottery

Arthur Rackham

When I awoke next, the party seemed to have ended and I felt more like my usual, down-to-earth self again.  I thought it was time to go upstairs for a cup of tea and asked a random individual to lead the way, which he did without enthusiasm and then waved in the direction of some cupboards as soon as we were in the kitchen.

I had sort of forgotten whose house I had entered but was undaunted in my pursuit of refreshment. The cupboard was high on one narrow wall of the oblong room and I needed to stand on the work surface in order to peer comfortably inside. Might I have been exceedingly small?

I opened the door to the cupboard and looked vacantly inside, literally wanting nothing but a decent tea-cup.  I was somewhat baffled and unamused, therefore, to actually discover what appeared to be a motley assembly of oddly-shaped, thick earthenware pots (with handles) that were a far cry from the clean, symmetrical, bone-china that I sought.

My first feeling was one of minor irritation but – upon closer inspection – the pots revealed themselves to be uniquely fascinating. The owner of the cupboard was evidently an artisan or collector of some sort, for he had the most marvelous set of vessels in there that one could ever imagine.

Each brown pot – in size the approximate volume of an ordinary tea cup – was fashioned with its own particular, three dimensional design, the majority of which were the faces of what looked to be elves, gnomes and pixies, but could equally have been people, I suppose.  There was also a smaller number that were decorated with life-sized birds in flight.  This in itself may not seem especially unusual, but if I add that the faces and the birds were real, perhaps the significance of my find might appear greater. Certainly, I was pleased.

I wondered whether the Potter actually owned a full set, the rest of which might have been in use somewhere, or if this was the sum of his collection.  Either way, I was impressed, now that the humble beauty of the potter’s hearth was clear before my eyes in the shape of this cupboard full of small creatures that he had made himself.

I wondered if I would ever be permitted a sight of this master at work. The fruits of his craft were indeed marvelous but I was sure the pots were far too precious for me to use for tea, and I was loathe to even examine them in detail as they were evidently of great worth and I was afraid of breaking them.  These objects were not for my curiosity or keeping and I thought I should look for something else to drink from.

I opened the adjacent cupboard but found nothing apart from half a dozen boring chipped mugs, some without handles, which generally seemed unfit for use. Someone had obviously been there already and used up all the good ones. My morning cup of tea seemed destined not to happen I thought moodily.  I looked over my shoulder into the kitchen for someone who’d made a round of tea without asking me.  Spotting two men standing by the door, I suspected that they had helped themselves nicely.  I obviously wasn’t part of the in crowd; I didn’t even want stupid tea anymore.

I climbed down from the cupboard and decided to go on holiday, seeing as consciousness still hadn’t arrived and reason was keeping quiet, content to go along with anything for the time-being. I cleared my voice and made a loud announcement:

“I’m going on a trip, who wants to come”?

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