Carrot Elf

Carrot Elf
© Vera Kovacevic
With grateful thanks to the Center for Slovenian Literature
©Vera Kovacevic
©Vera Kovacevic
The Carrot Elf (or Carrot for short) and the grey Darnmouse are the best of friends; until the day, that is, when a big argument disrupts their harmony, and an angry Carrot Elf decides to go out and see the world. He meets many interesting creatures: a grass-snake, a cuckoo, the Fern Elf and his Blackmouse. He finds the world a great deal of fun and generally a delightful place, but something is missing nonetheless. The story of the Carrot Elf, interspersed with songs and poems, and richly illustrated, presents fairy-tale creatures conjured up by the most eminent Slovene author of children's literature, Svetlana Makarovic.

Translated from the Slovene (Korenckov Palcek, Center za slovensko knjizevnost: Ljubljana, 2007) by Tamara M. Soban

Carrot Elf turned his back on Darnmouse and took off. Leaving his home carrot patch for the first time in his life, he set off along the ant-trail out into the vast field. Darnmouse watched him go for a while, and once she almost called out after him - but mice can be so stubborn at times! So she simply muttered angrily:

- I'm not going after him. I'm not and I'm not and I'm not. And that's that!

Carrot scampered through the field, climbing up molehills and sliding down the other side on his bottom, swinging on grass-stalks, and whistling and singing for courage.

My, Carrot was in such a good mood! And Fern Elf's place looked ever so nice! How he admired the pretty doily that Blackmouse had made for Fern Elf's six hundredth birthday. Blackmouse said it was no big deal, you just plucked at a forest spider's web like so and there you had a lace doily all ready...

- Blackmouse is really something, threw in Fern Elf. She can also get the squirrel all riled up and make all manner of things from spruce tips. Blackmouse was quite embarrassed.

- If somebody sang my praises, I wouldn't be embarrassed at all, Carrot admitted ingenuously. I'd be downright pleased. And so would my Darnmouse.

- Why didn't you bring her with you, Blackmouse wanted to know.

- Actually, we've had a falling out, Carrot admitted, abashed. But, as I was saying, she can also make all sorts of things, like long necklaces out of aniseeds. Once when a shortsighted vole bit me, thinking I was a real carrot, she gave him such an earful he moved out of our garden!

In the end they said goodbye calmly enough, and Cuckoo guided Carrot safely to the brook. There they sat down on the bank to wait for Yarmila. Carrot showed Cuckoo his new slingshot:

- A splendid slingshot, isn't it? But I won't aim at flies, you know, I feel too sorry for them, I'll aim at peapods instead. I don't feel so sorry for them. Or else I'll aim at the Parsley Elf in the garden next door; he's so mean he wrings out caterpillars and laughs! And that's not right, is it?

- Well, as far as caterpillars are concerned, I feed on them, if you really want to know, laughed Cuckoo, making Carrot burst into tears.

- Oh, poor caterpillars, poor caterpillars. How can you be so heartless? Say it's not true!

- All right, then, it's not true. I feed on & on pine bark. Are you happy now?

- Of course I am. I feel far less sorry for bark, you know. That's the way I am. But look, the sun's directly over that spruce over there, and Yarmila's not here yet. What if she's forgotten about me? What if something's happened to her?

- Sabadam sabadam, what if I've kept my word and am already here , Yarmila spoke up right next to him. Quick, hold on tight, let's go!

- Bye-bye, Cuckoo, called out Carrot, already on Yarmila's back.

- What do you say when someone's nice to you, muttered Cuckoo. Carrot played dumb.

- I said goodbye, didn't I?

- Go jump in a pond, Cuckoo snapped back and flew off, while Yarmila slid into the water with Carrot on her back. Brrhhh, how cold the water was! When they reached the bank, Carrot hopped about a few times and grumbled:

- Ugh, I'm all wet! That'll be because of the water, right?

- I should think so, yes, sabadam, sabadam, laughed Yarmila. Well, good-bye, then, sprightly elf!



With grateful thanks to the Center for Slovenian Literature


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