I am satisfactorily drowsy after writing this final chapter, and so to, you will find, are Timothy and Lisa, and, in fact, the Grenobles themselves. But I do not doubt, and I think you cannot, that after all are sufficiently rested (how long that will be I cannot say), they will wake up and have another adventure together.
Timothy, meanwhile, skipped, leapt, dropped, lowered himself, and, at times, fell down the stairs. He arrived at the next door unaware that Lisa was had stopped following him. Looking inside he saw a little kitchen. In he stepped, and turned all the way around, staring up at open, wooden shelves. A beautiful, wild window frame was carved into the wall, but there was no glass, only glowing amber lighting the room, showing up wisps of smoke and steam from the stove. Pots and pans hung from the wall; a deep, Earthy smell, like fresh bread but ten times better, wafted from the oven; and in the cabinets were all manner of roots, petals, grinders engraved with labels, and brown packages tied with rough yellow twine.
As the smell reached Timothy's empty stomach he sat down in the middle of the paneled floor and cried.
The Grenoble seized two moss gloves, dipped them into a basin of water, flung open the over, letting out more of the smell and a brilliant glow, and pulled out two trays, the mitts hissing and spluttering. With a flourish it carried them over Timothy's head, dripping water onto his bangs, to the only open counter and set them down on wicker coasters.
The spluttering and splashing and, most importantly, the trays of food, had stopped Timothy's eyes. He stood behind the Grenoble's leg, looking from the counter's edge, which he could not quite see over, to the Grenoble above him, which was busy doing to the food whatever mothers and fathers and Grenobles do to food while they make you wait too long before you can eat it. Finally, it raised a deep brown, almost-black colored muffin to its mouth, smacked a bite out of it, and closed its eyes.
Timothy let out a quiet whine.
"It is ready," whispered the Grenoble through dark crumbs, and handed one to Timothy. Timothy, now that he had his food, took his time examining it, and picked off a few crumbs to fall to the ground. Then he bit in. It's texture was that of rich wheat bread, and it tasted of freshness, grains, sugar-glaze, and birthdays. Then the Grenoble took from the other tray what looked something like the play clay snake Timothy had made the day before. Timothy examined this even more carefully (for he had taken a bite of the snake, and it had not pleased him); it was brown, flakey, crisp, and firm on the outside, and curled all around. He bit it; it crunched all the way through and filled his mouth with a strong taste, like after he had eaten six ginger-snaps at once when no one was looking, and started crying because of it. This time he did not cry at first, because he was getting to be a big boy and like spicy things. He took bite after bite, and then ran around the room in circles, tears pouring down his face, but laughing hard even as he wailed with the strength of the root. The Grenoble did something else on the counter, and then carried two packages with steam coming from them over to one of the cabinets. Putting these away, it rang a little triangle and stepped back out onto the stairs. The light coming down the trunk was reddish, like that at sunset, and Timothy yawned. Lisa came out of the room up the stairs, also yawning, and stretching, with the other Grenoble. The brother and sister took each other’s hands; Timothy thought Lisa smelled like syrup; Lisa thought Timothy smelled like gingersnaps.
"Food," said Timothy, pointing into the kitchen.
"Hmm," yawned Lisa, "books," she flung her hand behind her to indicate which way.
"Now, we..." she began to say to the Grenobles, but then she noticed that they had already begun to descend again.
"Come on!" she giggled, remembering a part in the book she had just read where the children found a cave on the estate and explored it.
They passed many more quaint little rooms with knothole doors. Timothy found it all quite ordinary, and nothing to compare with how tired he was, or how good the food had tasted, and Lisa marveled at how perfect and pretty it all was. There were several sitting rooms, with various types of lamps and chairs and tables, and writing rooms with desks and almost-empty shelves, old yellowed papers, quill pens, and ink wells, and closed doors, and dusty pantries, and rooms that were only a tangle of vines or branches, and two rooms that must have been the Grenoble's bedrooms, for inside of them were round beds of leaves and moss and dirt. Instead of cups and baths were little springs bubbling up from the floor, and foresty mobiles hung from the ceilings and circled slowly, casting shadows of leaves and creepers on the walls.
when they came to these two doors, the Grenobles yawned, stretching their limbs so that they squeaked and creaked, and opening their mouths wider and wider, so that wind sighed straight down the stairs, sleepy, pulling downwards, making Timothy's eyes sag.
Then they closed their mouths so quickly that Timothy jumped to see them disappearing into their faces.
The two Grenobles stood by their bedroom doors, crossing their arms behind their backs.
"You have made us be home," they said, "goodnight." Then they each hugged Timothy and Lisa in treeish embraces, which felt like throwing yourself against a young mossy tree that gives way under your weight so that it does not hurt. Then they hugged each other, wind whispering about, went each into his room, and closed perfectly shaped doors on the knotholes. The light from the sunset was fading from above. Timothy shivered.
"Come back?" he asked the door in front of him.
It cracked open, and the Grenoble poked its head out, a nightcap on its head, the burr that tipped it hanging in front of its face.
"Go to the bottom; that is the way home for you," it said softly, and closed the door again.
Lisa looked down. She could see only one more light below them, and no more rooms. She looked up. It was getting dark; she could see the vaguest tint of red far up at the top of the submerged trunk.
"Oh, Timothy, our shoes are up there; we had better go get them," she said, and then stood still and sighed wistfully. Timothy's footsteps retreated from her hearing down the tunnel. By the time she understood the sounds, he was out of sight below her.
"Timothy!" she hissed, trying not to disturb their hosts. "Ah!" she bounded down the stairs after him. There was a wooden candlestick with an amber candle glowing in it on the wall; she took it carefully as she went past ("I'll return it later," she said to herself).
Timothy came to the bottom of the stairs and ran into a closed door. He pushed and shoved on the handle; he even growled at it and banged his head on it, but it would not budge. Turning back he found himself at the bottom of the tree trunk on a dirt floor covered with leaves. Lisa leaned down from the stairs not far above, lit up by her candle.
"Wisa, door won't go!" remonstrated Timothy, thrusting an accusative finger at the knothole. Lisa was a big sister, and Timothy knew that when she wanted to she could be very helpful with doors (only she didn't want to be helpful often).
But she could not budge this door.
"Open!" said Timothy, annoyed that she was not cooperating with him. He was hungry again, and tired, and cross. When he was hungry and tired and cross Lisa should not be so silly as to not open doors.
"It's locked," she said, beginning to realize they were alone in the dark. The shadows cast from her steady amber candle shivered inexplicably, and Lisa took Timothy's hand (in case he was scared) before turning to survey the rest of their surroundings. Across from them was an opening beneath the stairs. She stepped to it with her candle and peered through, Timothy shrinking back a little so that she had to stretch out both arms to get the candle to the opening.
A shallow gust blew through the doorway, but the amber glowed brighter in its presence. She could see trees of a forest, and, now that she looked so hard, some lights. She pulled Timothy through the doorway, and, turning back, saw that they had just stepped out of an ugly gash in the side of an oak. The sun was setting behind the tree. Dogs barked from the lights.
"Home. Come on!" cried Timothy, and yanked Lisa towards the lights, so that she dropped her candle. It hissed in a puddle, and when she picked up what she thought was it, she found only an oddly shaped branch in her hand. "Come home!" said Timothy, and carefully led his sister through the forest towards the sound of the barking. Soon they were trudging through the backyard. Timothy saw the rest of the family sitting down around the meal, and the siblings dropped each other's hands to run up the back porch steps and inside.
"Play wit' 'nobles!" yelled Timothy as his mother served him.
"What's that, Timothy?" asked his father.
"He said we played with the Grenobles," said Lisa somberly, looking down at her plate. "They...they...we played a game with them...a dancing game with the wind."
"Oh," said her father.
"Funny dancing, fell in wa-water, funny feets!" Timothy clapped his spoon in his hands.
"Oh!” laughed his mother, spooning him out a bowl of soup.
"I'm sorry I got my dress dirty...oh!" said Lisa, for she had just at that moment realized that her shoes were back on her feet. She stuck her head under the table to see Timothy kicking his feet -- shoes and all -- against his high chair.
"Lisa, what are you doing?" asked her father. She sat up quickly, grazing her head on the table and making a leaf fall from her hair.
"Making sure Timothy didn't loose his shoes."
"Want to play wit' 'nobles," pouted Timothy as he saw his mother approaching with the soup. He wished he could have another of the muffins, or one of the spicy snakes.
"It's dark now, Timothy; they probably had to go home, too," said his mother, sitting down beside his high chair. "You will have to play with them again later. Now, eat up."
She blew on a spoonful of soup.
It spun and danced under her breath.