Gammelnok in Andalucia - Chapter 6: Harvest time  
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"Hey, come over here. Quick," 323301 was getting all exited.

The garden had been free of Servants for days now, and the GreyFaces were getting very daring, running around in daylight, investigating and eating everything in sight that had any juice.

The rest of the party scuttled over to where she was sitting, staring up into the sunshine at a huge yellow sunflower looking down on them.

"Yummy" 1066 licked his front paw then gave his tail a wash. "WinterFood. But how do we get it home? It's attached to the ground."

"I have a cunning plan." 479210 always full of good ideas, looked as mischievous as ever. "Look here, the Servants have made it easy for us, by planting a bamboo stick next to it. We run up the stick, grab hold of the flower with both paws and chew through the neck."

"Caramba! That will not work. The head will fall on the ground and all the seeds will fall out. Capice." 482880 liked to think things through.

Much head scratching followed. Ideas were put forward, bounced around and rejected. "Gammelnok!" 1066 exclaimed. "He has got all sorts of things in his Handsack. Maybe he has got a SafetyNet."

The idea was so brilliant in its simplicity that it took several moments for it to sink in. Then as one, they ran, jumped and scuttled across Level 4 and up onto the lawn by the pond on Level 5 where Gammelnok was fast asleep in his chair.

But no amount of nudging could wake him. He was sleeping like a stone. Now what to do?

"We will just have to wait until it gets dark," 323301 said disappointedly, head hanging close to the ground.

"Time for a snooze then. Your place or mine?" 482880 grinned."Get lost," 323301 replied "You are as bad as Benny the Frog."

The rest of the day was spent resting in the sunshine, high above ground on branches, overlooking the area.

Far below, hiding in the parsley patch in the herb garden, Mr P was stalking a gathering of birds, busy picking grubs of the lawn on Level 3.

He was not normally allowed to have a takeaway when his Servants were about. But they were on holiday and had left GT1 in charge.

"Now." Mr P wriggled his body from one end to the other. Crouching low to the ground, he moved forward a few steps on bended legs, head level with the ground, eyes and ears forward and stopped still, waiting a moment to see if he had been noticed. Then fast as lightening he pounced. Catching a bird by the neck, a practised bite and the prey was killed instantly.

"Bingo!" he cried, threw the bird in the air, caught it again and proudly carried his trophy down the steps, through his own little front door into the house.

A quarter moon had replaced the sun, and a pale light covered the garden. The four GreyFaces that had discovered the Sunflowers were gathered around Gammelnok, waiting for him to wake up.

It seemed to take forever, so 323301 jumped onto the back of his chair and tickled him under the nose with her bushy tail. And was nearly blown into the Pond by the force of the sneeze that ensued.

"Drossel! What was that? What is going on? Where am I?" Gammelnok was totally confused, preferring to wake up slowly.

"We need your help, please," 1066 said without answering him directly. "Have you got a SafetyNet? In your Handsack."

"NisseHat!" Gammelnok was still not with it, and was determined not to wake up in a hurry. He stretched, scratched, shook himself, yawned and finally looked closely at the crowd by his feet. "Now then, what can I do for you?" he said.

"SafetyNet. Have you got one? We need one for catching sunflower heads. Or they will break. That's what 482880 says." 1066 chattered on, impatiently exited.

"Lets see then." Gammelnok started to pull things out of his Handsack, and soon the whole area was covered in bits and pieces, from rope ladder to ladle, from mirror to handkerchief, from twine to pipe cleaner. But no safety net!

"Please look again. Please look in the bag. Again." 1066 pleaded. Gammelnok dived into his Handsack once more, and finally emerged with a safety net.

"HowsAboutThatThen," he said, exhausted but triumphant. "I knew I had one somewhere. Now what do we do?"

"Tidy up for starters." 482880 for ever practical replied. "Then I think we need to get hold of 266409. He knows the ropes. 323301, would you get him please. Prego. Finally, we must make sure that The Great Controller has not issued a rule against eating sunflower heads."

"Oh be quiet with your Great Controller. He will never know. Isn't he still on holiday anyway?" 1066 was not in favour of regulations of any kind.

"Yes, I believe so. But look at the moon. It will soon be black, and then we might just get a rule against necking sunflowers. Best get on with it before it's too late." 479210 was not a great supporter of central control either.

323301 and 266409 had joined them by now, and the whole gathering started down towards Level 4 where the sunflowers were growing tall. Gammelnok, lacking behind on his short legs was carrying the safety net over the shoulder, hat firmly on his head and pipe smouldering away in his face. Humming a Ditty quietly to himself, he finally caught up with the GreyFaces and put the safety net on the ground.

266409 was already up by the head, chewing away at the exposed neck, and the others quickly spread the safety net on the ground underneath the sunflower.

With a crash, the heavy flower head came down, landed neatly in the middle of the safety net and scattered sunflower seeds in all directions.

"Oh no, this is not going to work," 323301 cried disappointedly.

"MammaMia! You stupid Number. For a safety net to work, it has to be safely of the ground. We must lift it. Each of you take hold of a corner, stretch it and lean back." 482880 got them organised, although it took some time to work out that a round safety net does not have any corners.

They all moved to the next flower, 266409 ran up the bamboo stick, chewed the neck through and Wallop! the head landed safely in the middle of the net. Cheers all round. They put the first head in a pile, moved on, repeated the process and by the end of the night, all 43 heads were down, neatly stacked in single piles.

"I must be getting home now." Gammelnok was worried he might get caught in the open.

"Thanks for your help, and have your net back. We must get some help to carry these heads home to the drays." 1066 was dropping with tiredness, having worked all night.

They waved Good Morning to Gammelnok, as he struggled up the steps to StepSixtySix, Level 5 and his chair, then set about carrying the first heads home.

© Copyright January 2004
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