The Total Turtle Tea Trolley rushed towards its destination as the sun slowly warmed the misty morning. The Chief Tea Turtle had been awakened very, very early by a carrier pigeon sent by Melba Penguin, patissière extraordinaire. Her husband, Binky, had had a nighttime encounter with the Snarflodon, and needed tea as soon as possible. “The Snarflodon!” thought the Chief Tea Turtle to himself. No one had ever seen the Snarflodon, but all had ideas as to what he might look like — a gigantic sheepdog with a huge, round ball of a nose, for example. He was a feared creature, for he made very loud snorting and slurping noises that made it seem as though he were going to eat you up. It was as though your spouse were snoring with a bad head cold, except much, much louder and more terrifying. Binky was in particular fear of the beast, and was apt to dive into one of his wife’s eclairs, where he would hide, covered in custard, and concealed by a layer of dark chocolate ganache, for the entire night. In the morning, he would have to be persuaded to eat his way out and take a hot bath, but it took some doing. The trusted Tea Turtles were practically the only ones who could convince Binky to emerge.
Today, the Chief Tea Turtle is wearing a white lambswool V-neck cricket sweater with a navy and maroon neckline and a white newsboy’s cap. His dust ruffle is a cream-colored canvas, with navy rickrack. The Under Tea Turtles are wearing rich cream and orange dustruffles in alternating diagonal stripes, and puffy pink chef’s hats. The Tea Treats for today are digestive biscuits with arrowroot flour, slices of fruah and grapefruit, their tartness cut with a little sugarcane juice, and chocolate mousse made with a tiny bit of cognac, boiled to remove the alcohol. The tea for today is chamomile, which will hopefully help calm Binky down. It is served in a lavender Tibetan teapot with silver cloisonné, enclosed in a white cotton piqué cosy.
When the Tea Turtles arrived at the Penguins’ house, they were so startled that they retracted entirely within their shells, leaving the Trolley to roll almost up to the door. The Snarflodon was still at large around the other side, and the slurping and roaring had just commenced once more. The Chief Tea Turtle and the Under Tea Turtles conferred about what to do. All were resolved that they should confront the Snarflodon. From one of the lower tiers of the Trolley, the Chief Tea Turtle retrieved a large white tablecloth, under which they could all hide, and, properly covered, they crept around to the other side of the house. There, they saw… a giant black nose, leaping around from nostril to nostril! When it saw them, before they could say a word, it leapt upon the tablecloth and blew itself, as loudly and tunefully as an ocean liner. The Chief Tea Turtle sighed at the now-ruined tablecloth, but he and his colleagues emerged and greeted the nose. As politely as possible, the Snarflodon — for it could be none other than he — introduced himself in a strong Russian accent. He apologized, but said that he had never been able to find proper tissues in the metmow, and had been in a terrible state of congestion ever since. The Turtles were immediately put at ease. A nose, without a mouth, could never have eaten anyone. They decided to take the Snarflodon to the front door and introduce him to Binky and Melba, but urged him not to make a sound. In minutes, the penguins and the Snarflodon were on cordial terms. Tea and treats were served, and a spirit of conviviality prevailed. The Chief Tea Turtle promised the Snarflodon that a pallet of the finest facial tissue would be delivered to him, on the condition that the Snarflodon keep a box with him at all times. And Melba offered the Snarflodon all the custard pastries he could eat, if only he had some way of eating them.