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Life at Yurble Manor

by eehad



     Vykroth the white Yurble jumped up from the couch in the Victorian Living Room and hurried up the wide staircase in the entrance hall.

     The noise originated from his study and as much as he wished he was wrong he could imagine what the cause of the noise was.

     He opened the door and there it was! The cause of so much damage, the reason for so many migraine attacks.

     Sitting in midst of pieces of the Totem of Wisdom of the Ongatoova tribe that he had brought home from one of his many journeys was a googly-eyed baby Yurble.

     'Sowwy!' it said.

     'Sorry? Petit, I'm afraid sorry will not do this time! How often have I told you my study is not a playground?'

     Petit's lower lip quivered, first as if she would start crying but then the lip was pushed forward and her little face hardened.

     'I'm bowed!'

     Vykroth slowly counted to ten, reminding himself that he was talking to a little toddler here.

     'Then why don't you take your little Angelpuss,' he said calmly while picking Petit's little partner in crime from a shelf full of ornaments and trophies that it was just about to climb, 'and go and play in the garden?'

     'Bowing!!' Petit proclaimed but couldn't do much when Vykroth picked her up and carried her and her squirming pet Susie down the stairs, through the hall, and out of the back door.

     'There!' he said as he put her down on the grass. 'Now eat grasshoppers or do something else that babies like to do.'

     Petit pulled a very disgusted face and started giggling when she saw her Angelpuss trying to imitate it.

     Then she looked around the garden and just before Vykroth managed to sneak back inside she asked: 'Uncle Vykwoth???'

     'Yes??' Vykroth froze and turned his eyes skywards.

     'Why don' we have any pwetty flowews? Butte'flies like flowews!'

     Vykroth turned around. Unfortunately he had to admit that Petit had a point.

     The garden of the old Mansion was surrounded by mighty trees and had a healthy, green lawn that was in desperate need of mowing, but besides that it was missing some flowerpots or beds, maybe even a little pond with an ornament or fountain.

     They only moved in a few months ago in late autumn. The trees around the house were impressively painted in shades from bright yellow to orange brown back then.

     This was their first spring in the Manor and with the sun shining warmer each day the garden really seemed to lack some color and diversity.

     'Well, my little Petit, maybe we should hire a gardener to take care of that. I definitely don't have the talent for this kind of work.'

     'I can help!' Petit said enthusiastically and started digging on the spot.

     'Hmmm?' It took a minute or two before Petit's remark sank in as Vykroth was imagining how the garden could look like if they would find somebody to take care of it. By the time the remark finally hit his brain, Petit had already managed to turn herself in a muddy brown Yurble with an even dirtier Angelpuss that was always eager to help her in her mischief.

     'Oh Petit! Look at you! Now I have to take you upstairs and run you a bath!'

     He picked Petit up with outstretched arms to make sure he wouldn't get too dirty himself. And this time he didn't even waste his time on snatching Susie the Angelpuss. He just relied on the fact that it would follow wherever Petit went anyway.

     After the usual water fights in the bathroom, the mopping of the flood, the attempts of drying a squirming little Yurble with a towel, Petit got tired and Vykroth put her into her room for a nap.

     'So you can regain your strength for tonight's food fight over dinner,' he whispered as he tucked her in.

     This baby was really a handful. But at least now he could return to his book in the living room and enjoy one or two hours of uninterrupted reading.

     At least he thought so, but as he passed the study he was reminded of the chaos that Petit had caused in there earlier.

     Sighing he started to clean up the mess. He never really liked the totem that much, but it was a present and a part of his former life when he was traveling the world, studying different cultures.

     As he watched the last pieces of the totem sliding from the dustpan into the bin he caught himself thinking: 'What this house needs is not a gardener but a Child Minder!'

     Finally he was able to return to the living room. As he picked up his book he decided not for the couch but for a comfy chair right by the window that was bathed in afternoon sunshine. He dropped into it but jumped up immediately again as if he had sat down on a needle. The reason for this leap was what happened directly outside of the window. He rushed out through the backdoor again, around the house and managed to grab his Tyrannian Babaa Byron by the neck before it could cause any more damage to the old rosebushes.

     'How did you get out of your pen?' he bellowed at the rare sheep as he was dragging the stubborn thing back to the enclosure.

     Byron was offered him on his journeys through the Tyrannian plains by a village of the Grongawoogo tribe. He accepted the little thing because it looked like a cute, harmless fuzz ball.

     The villagers called it Baai-rou, what he thought to be a name, and therefore called him Byron.

     But later on Vykroth found out that Baai-rou actually meant 'nuisance' or 'plague'. And Byron really earned that name as it grew, even though it had the best sense when it came to only eating and trampling the most expensive flowers.

     Vykroth decided to lock Byron in his stable for a while as a punishment and he saw that these clever eyes behind all the fur knew exactly what the Babaa had done.

     And it didn't look the slightest bit guilty.

     With the second troublemaker taken care of, the old Yurble went to the rosebushes to see how much damage was done.

     It didn't look good. One bush that looked like it was here for decades had lost nearly all its leaves and stood there as an ugly stem sticking out of the ground, and on another bush all flowers and blossoms were bitten off with precision. Or perhaps determination?

     Whichever, it was quite clear now what had to be done! A Gardener was needed.

     Vykroth returned to the living room, in hopes that this time he would get a few minutes without being disturbed. He gathered paper and pen and sat down at the coffee table.

     'Required: Gardener for Victorian Mansion. Exclusively outdoor activity. Landscaping Skills highly appreciated. Full accommodation and catering provided. Interviews are held at 2pm sharp on the 8th of the Month of Running at Yurble Manor, Tranquil Woods in the Endless Plains. (About 1 hour ride from Neopia Central.)'

     Happy with what he wrote, Vykroth didn't waste another minute to get to his neomail to contact the Neopian Times, so his ad would be published as soon as possible. After all the 8th of the Month of Running was already in 10 days and the white Yurble was somehow doubting that the Garden would survive until then without further Baby- or Babaa- destruction.

     As he sent the neomail a thud upstairs signalled that Petit must have finished her afternoon nap.

     Vykroth sighed, took the book he was reading what seemed to be so many years ago from the table, neatly put it back into its place in the bookshelf and braced himself for whatever Petit would come up with now.

8th of the Month of Running

     Something lay in the air this morning. Petit didn't quite understand was it was. Her always strict and grumpy patron was humming all the time. Even when she toppled over her breakfast cereal and Susie started to kick the flakes around the kitchen floor, he stayed in a good mood and cleaned everything up without giving out to her. At lunchtime she couldn't ignore it anymore and had to ask.

     'Vykwoth?' she quaked. 'Why aw you so happy? Haw you seen a butte'fly?'

     He actually smiled even more and patted her head.

     'No my dear Petit, not yet. But maybe we will have lots of butterflies for you soon.'

     Petit clapped her little hands and giggled. 'I wuve butte'flies!'

     'I know', replied Vykroth. 'And this afternoon a few good men will visit us. All I have to do is to pick the best one to stay and to take care of our garden. And therefore,' and he raised his index finger in front of Petit's face, 'I need you to be at your best behavior and play upstairs for the afternoon. Think you can do that?'

     Petit wrinkled her forehead and pursed her lips.

     Sometimes Vykroth was not sure if that meant that she was thinking or if she probably only had wind. This time at least she seemed to think.

     'But I wanna see the butte'fly man!'

     Even this couldn't bring a shadow over Vykroth's good mood.

     'You will, Petit, as soon as I choose the right one. But until then you and Susie have to stay upstairs.'

     With lunch still heavy in her stomach even Petit didn't feel like arguing and gave in.

     'Ok, but you haw to pwomise he knows how to gwo butte'fly bushes!'

     Vykroth picked Petit out of her chair and made his way to the hall.

     'He will, Petit, I promise! And you have to promise that you keep a good eye on your little Susie. The men will be here soon.'

     'Pwomise!' smiled Petit, but Vykroth could have sworn he saw her winking towards her Angelpuss that was following them up the stairs.

     After putting Petit in her room and emptying nearly all her toy boxes around her, so she would be distracted, Vykroth started to get the living room prepared.

     He boiled tea, arranged biscuits on a plate and wondered how many applicants would actually arrive. After all it was a very promising position at a great estate with full accommodation. Just to be on the safe side he decided to gather some more chairs from the dining room.

     At 2 pm sharp, as written in the ad, he opened the front door.

     A group of about 10 people were waiting already. Not as many as Vykroth expected, but maybe some people turned around when they saw the manor and realized what big responsibility it would bring with it.

     He welcomed them all in and directed them into the living room. It was an interesting mixture. One Ruki, a Halloween Lupe, where Vykroth hoped he wouldn't be qualified because Petit would probably be scared out of her mind of him. Two Blumaroos, that looked at each other in a very suspicious way, a very old Ixi, a Bori, a tired looking Kougra and two Yurbles, one of them female. As they went into the living room, the female Yurble with rainbow colored fur stopped Vykroth.

     'Excuse me, sir, I only came here to keep my cousin Smoogle company on the journey.' She pointed at the purple Yurble that was already sitting down with the other applicants around the couch table.

     'If you wouldn't mind, I would prefer to wait in the hall until after the Interview.'

     'You don't have to stay in the hall, Miss. Feel free to join us inside,' Vykroth offered. After all he never forgot what it takes to be a good host.

     She smiled at him and he noticed what a bright friendly face she had. 'It's no trouble at all; I'd prefer to stay here. It will not take that long anyway, I assume.'

     Vykroth shrugged and wondered what she might mean by that.

     'If that is really your wish, but please join us at any stage if you want.'

     She smiled at him in acknowledgement as he turned to face the waiting applicants in the living room.

     Vykroth offered everybody around the table to help themselves with tea and biscuits and watched them while they did. The two competitive Blumaroos nearly started fighting over the teapot; the Kougra was already dozing off and only awoke as one of the Blumaroos nudged him while swiping a biscuit directly in front of the nose of the other one. The white Yurble made mental notes of everything going on, as he knew that observation could tell you so much about a person. He noticed how the purple Yurble named Smoogle poured tea for the Ixi and the Bori first before helping himself.

     'Very polite,' thought Vykroth.

     As everybody was taken care off, he decided to address them with the expectations he had, the responsibilities that the position of the Manor Gardener would bring with it and he made sure not to mention Petit's Butterfly-bushes.

     Meanwhile upstairs a certain Baby Yurble was getting very, very bored and decided that she had spent long enough in her room. It was not that she was directly disobeying Vykroth, she just forgot about what she had promised. She was only a little Yurble and therefore only remembered little things. And the little thing she remembered at the moment was a glass sculpture with a paper butterfly embedded in it on the desk in Vykroth's study. So she got on her way with Susie by her side.

     Downstairs Vykroth decided to show everybody the gardens around the Mansion after the tea was finished. That would also give him a possibility to hear different opinions about what could be done in the likes of features and landscaping in the back garden.

     He had already narrowed his choice of candidates down to three. The old Ixi, the Ruki and the Yurble. The Halloween Lupe luckily failed to impress and also seemed a bit smelly, Vykroth noticed when everybody kept moving away from him inch by inch on the couch.

     Waiting in the hall, Twurie, the cousin of Smoogle heard a bang from upstairs. Even though her manners didn't allow her to investigate where the noise came from, she was curious who else lived in this huge estate. She looked up the stairs but couldn't see anybody.

     Suddenly a door upstairs swung open and a plushie Angelpuss balancing on top of what seemed to be a completely round glass paperweight came rolling towards the top of the stairs, followed on all fours by a Baby Yurble.

     The Angelpuss seemed to have no control over the glass ball and rolled closer and closer to the staircase.

     Twurie forgot her manners and leaped up the stairs, just in time to catch the Angelpuss with her left and the baby Yurble that tried to jump to catch her little friend with the right hand. She turned, slumped down on the top of the stairs panting with the two terrified adventurers in her embrace.

     They watched the glass ball bouncing down the stairs and crashing into a million pieces as it hit the ground floor.

     The baby Yurble had tears in her eyes. She was shaking from the shock and Twurie rocked her gently, whispering into her ear, 'It's ok, little one. You're safe. Everything's ok.'

     At that moment Vykroth came running into the hall. He saw his precious paperweight smashed into pieces and then looking up the stairs he saw Petit sobbing in the arms of the rainbow Yurble.

     'What happened? Are you alright, Petit?' He knew Petit didn't cry until she was really scared or hurt.

     'She's alright.' The rainbow Yurble got up from the stairs and slowly walked down, still with Petit and Susie on her arm. 'She's just a bit under shock. She and her playmate nearly fell down the stairs.'

     Vykroth would have turned white if he wouldn't already have been a white Yurble.

     'Oh my poor Petit, why were you playing on the stairs again?' He wanted to take Petit out of the female Yurble's embrace onto his arm, but the baby had her face buried deep in the rainbow fur. So he just proceeded to pat her back gently.

     'She will be all right, but she shouldn't have played so close to the stairs anyway. Where's her mother?'

     A shadow fell over Vykroth's face. 'I'm the only family she has.'

     'Oh I'm sorry, I didn't know.' The rainbow Yurble was a bit embarrassed but then gathered herself again.

     'What about her Nanny?'

     'Erm, I was meant to get one as soon as I found a gardener. You know we are still settling in here...' Vykroth explained when he suddenly realized that he had left all the applicants standing in the garden.

     He looked at the female Yurble and noticed that Petit was now breathing more calmly in her arms.

     'Would you mind just taking care of my little Petit for a few minutes longer? I really have to get back outside.'

     The rainbow Yurble smiled one of her bright smiles again.

     'Sure, no problem at all. I'll take care of her.'

     And to the baby in her arm she said, 'So, your name is Petit, I assume?'

     Petit raised her head out of the fur, sniffled and looked into the face of her rescuer.

     'Uh-huh.' She nodded. 'And who *sniff* aw you?'

     'I'm Twurie. Please to meet you.' Twurie smiled.

     Vykroth had heard enough. Petit was in good hands.

     He made his way out into the garden again. Before he even reached the backdoor he already heard Petit giggling again. That was a great relief for him.

     Outside, the applicants were waiting, everybody in their own way. The Blumaroos looked like they were close to a fistfight, the Ixi and the Ruki were examining the condition of the lawn. The Kougra slept curled up in the sun in the middle of the back garden and Vykroth could have sworn he saw the Lupe sniffing one of the big trees. Looking around for the purple Yurble he found him standing next to Byron's pen, softly talking to the Babaa.

     Vykroth cleared his throat and called all applicants together. Even though it took a bid of nudging of the Lupe before the Kougra woke up.

     'First off all I would like to thank you all for coming,' the old white Yurble announced. 'It was really not easy for me to come to a decision, but I can say that I narrowed my choice down to three of you, the Ruki, the Ixi and the Yurble. Thanks again to the ones that didn't make it. You may leave now.'

     The first punch flew between the Blumaroos. But aside from that everybody else left peacefully.

     Vykroth now faced the finalists and to make it easier to decide to guide them to the middle of the back garden and face them with a challenge.

     'Please tell me, if you would get the position, what would you do with this particular part of the garden?'

     After Vykroth had left, Twurie carried Petit towards the chair she was sitting on just a few minutes ago. While carefully stepping around the pieces of the broken paperweight, she noticed something colorful amongst it. Petit saw it too.

     'Butte'fly!' she said pointing at it.

     'I'll get it.' Twurie sat Petit down in a safe distance from the scattered glass and picked up the paper butterfly that was once concealed in the weight.

     'Will it be ok?' Petit asked.

     Twurie kneeled down in front of the baby Yurble, stretched out her left hand and placed the paper in her palm. Then she put her right hand above it like a dome.

     'Petit, do you like butterflies?' She looked Petit straight in the eye and the baby smiled from one ear to the other.

     'I luve butte'flies!'

     Slowly Twurie lifted her right hand and in front of Petit's eyes a real butterfly was sitting in her palm, slowly swaying its wings and getting ready to fly.

     Petit giggled as it lifted off and clapped as it flew a few loops in the hall before it made its way to freedom through an open window in the living room.

     When Vykroth entered the hall again with the three finalists he saw Twurie and Petit sitting in the living room watching something outside in the garden through the window. He brought his attention back to the two people that he would have to thank and send on their way home and his new gardener.

     He shook hands, wished them well and then entered the living room with Smoogle by his side.

     Twurie beamed at Smoogle.

     'You got the position?'

     'Yep.' He smiled back.

     'It was a difficult decision to make indeed. But the Ixi decided to withdraw his application because he felt too old for such a big responsibility and the Ruki had nice ideas but 'Lost Desert style' was not quite what I had in mind for my gardens. Mr. Smoogle here on the other hand,' Vykroth explained while patting Smoogle on the back, 'had a very intriguing idea about garden design that would attract song birds, bees and butterflies that I bet Petit would love to see realized.'

     'Twurie made a butte'fly! Look!!' Petit squeaked, pointing out of the window.

     'My gosh, there's the first butterfly already!' Vykroth nodded as he looked out of the window.

     'But nobody can 'make' butterflies Petit.'

     'Twurie can!' Petit, still sitting on Twurie's lap hugged her as much as her little arms allowed her.

     Vykroth cleared his throat and faced Smoogle who shared a bright smile with Twurie.

     'I'm not sure about your plans, Mr. Smoogle, but the position is available as soon as you like to take it. And as it is getting rather late I would like to invite you to stay with us already tonight to save yourself the journey home.'

     'Can Twurie stay too?' Petit interrupted.

     'Of course, I would be a bad host, sending somebody away after rescuing my little treasure.'

     'But the papa weigh' is bwoken!'

     Vykroth leaned over Petit and tipped her on the nose with his finger.

     'Don't be silly, the paperweight means nothing. You are my little treasure.'

     Petit giggled and looked up to Twurie.

     'You can stay for eva an make butte'flies, Twurie!!'

     Twurie smiled at Petit and with a glance at Vykroth she replied.

     'Well I don't know if I can stay forever. I'm not sure if Mr. Vykroth wants to employ a Gardener and a Child Minder on the same day.'

     Vykroth's face brightened up. There was so much going on today that he didn't even think that Twurie might be interested in a position as a Child Minder. But Petit seemed to love her and if her manners were equally as good as Smoogle's he would have found two great employees in only one day. He cleared his throat, knowing that Petit watched his every move, hoping he would say what she wanted to hear.

     'Miss Twurie, would you be interested in the position as Petit's Child Minder? Including free accommodation and catering of course?'

     Twurie smiled one of her bright smiles.

     'I would be honored!'

     Will Twurie master the Job?

     What could possibly go wrong?

     Will Petit ever learn how to pronounce the letter R?

     What will Byron eat next?

     Don't miss the next edition of 'Life at Yurble Manor' at your local newsagent soon!

The End

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