By Ilsa Graceland

Editor’s note: In collaboration with Western’s WordHorde, we will be bringing you creative work from some of Western’s finest creative writers in a weekly themed format. For our first weekly Creative Writing Series theme, we landed on short stories set as letters in the 18th Century. We hope you enjoy!

18 February 1852 

My dearest friend, 

It has been some time since our last exchange, and I am terribly sorry for that. I always promise to write but am exceedingly poor at following through with this. A mystifying problem entered my cottage approximately three moons prior, occupying many of my thoughts.  First, I must bring to light some details of my garden; you know how thoroughly I enjoy idling in my much beloved garden. In late autumn, I planted a whole new selection of spring bulb flowers—the most delightful miniature daffodils and the loveliest hyacinths, in an array of pastels. Oh, to see those merry colors spring forth after a dreary winter; it certainly will brighten the grey days before spring proper unfurls! This leads me to wonder if you have seen the newest German novelty—the garden gnome? It is a particularly whimsical departure from the German’s oft-serious inclinations. My distant cousin in Germany brought one such fellow all the way here to England just this past autumn. I must admit, I was instantly charmed by the gnome’s cheeky expression and pointed, red cap. What a delight! I promptly affixed him in my tidy garden, amongst where the aforementioned bulbs will peek through the soil come spring. He faithfully stood guard where posted until well into November. 

Imagine my great surprise when I walked up the stone path through my garden one foggy morning, which goes right past the stout gnome, and I find a second, smaller gnome beside the original. I knew instantly I had not in fact acquired a second gnome as there is never even a single flower petal out of place. I could only think that a friendly neighbor had snuck him in for me, as perhaps a thoughtful surprise. This second little fellow also sported a red cap and rosy cheeks. I decided I best welcome this second fellow into the garden and leave him be. Wouldn’t you know it, a mere fortnight after the second gnome’s appearance, I was astonished to find yet another one, this time under my lilac shrub in the eastern corner of the garden! He was of medium build, and rounder than his compatriots. Perhaps someone was pulling my leg after all? Where had this mysterious third gnome come from? They seemed to be simply springing up from the earth, just as I had been hoping my flower bulbs would eventually do. I pondered on these questions another fortnight, this time keeping a close eye on all three of the mischievous gnomes. Imagine my surprise once more when I found my original garden gnome gone! Thievery, you might ask? It seems so very doubtful, as this village is entirely tranquil and everyone has garden gates without a single lock in sight. I looked about my entire garden, but he was nowhere to be found. The other two most assuredly knew where he had gone, but they were not of a sharing mind.  

That very day marked the beginning of some peculiar occurrences within the home as well. Before long I began to realize how quickly I was going through a jar of fruit preserves. It is an odd detail to notice, to be sure. I love a good jam just as much as the next person, but I had certainly never gone through it at such a high rate. Then, to my continued puzzlement I started finding the honey jar’s lid slightly agape morning after morning! To top it all off, I could clearly trace a trail of fine crumbs every morning as well. They seemed quite surely to be originating from my larder, where the scones are kept for breakfast and afternoon tea. I would never be so forgetful of the honey or untidy with the crumbs—you know how meticulous I am in my mannerisms. These strange incidents have continued to occur, even to this day, here just slightly past mid-February: sweets missing, honey mysteriously open, jam gone, crumbs all about the kitchen, tea leaves scattered, galoshes out of order at the back door. Oh my, you will never believe it—the other two gnomes have since disappeared as well, though on entirely separate occasions! 

As you can see, all sorts of strange happenings have been occurring here. I have become steadfastly convinced I do in fact have a gnome problem! They are almost surely residing within the home alongside me now, in winter’s colder days, helping themselves to my provisions. At this time I cannot see any other explanation for all of it. In light of this, I have begun to leave out a bit of porridge and honey, or sometimes a scone and a dollop of jam. I can only hope this will appease my impish houseguests. I must admit that there have been far fewer crumbs scattered about my larder and kitchen as of late, so I can only conclude the garden gnomes—though they are house gnomes now—appreciate my offerings. I certainly hope my tale has not left you in any state of alarm. I can assure you I am faring quite well and am still looking forward to my garden come spring. I do think I must caution you away from the garden gnome though, until I have further details of their escapades, hopefully in the near future. 

Yours fondly,