The Cookies That Wouldn't Crisp
Nestled in a serene little village there lived a serene
little bakery. Its siding was pink, its shutters were white, and a candy-decorated
sign merrily proclaimed it the "Intellectual Bakery." Inside, Zhehi the Biscuit
Ruki was happily preparing another batch of her popular iced cookies. The holidays
were fast approaching, and the friendly Ruki knew that her business would pick
up the closer it came to the Day of Giving.
Zhehi was a skilled baker. She had two loves
in her life--baking and reading--so she had merged them into one, opening
her bakery/book store combination to the public several years prior. So far,
she had achieved fantastic success and received instant popularity with her
neighbors and the visitors to her little village.
Zhehi smiled as she finished cutting her cookies
into festive shapes, sliding a fresh sheet of cookies into her antique oven
to bake. Her hands moved deftly, quickly icing a cooled batch of cookies and
coating them in sprinkles. She arranged her finished cookies in small baskets,
setting out a warm kettle of hot cocoa beside them. Her customers would appreciate
these! Satisfied, she opened her shop for business for the day.
Before long, curious customers began trickling
in, stomping snow from their boots on the pink entry mat and calling greetings
to Zhehi. After the Ruki passed around warm mugs of hot cocoa, her customers
happily selected books and cookies to take home. Only a few hours after Zhehi
had opened shop, her iced cookies were completely sold out--her best day of
Just as a young Buzz was fluttering from the
bakery with the last of the cookies, a rather disagreeable-looking dark faerie
bustled inside. Upon seeing the empty cookie basket, she looked at Zhehi angrily
and demanded, "Why are the cookies gone?"
Zhehi was amazed; she had never had a faerie
in her shop before! "I'm so sorry, ma'am," Zhehi said politely. "They sold out
just before you came in. But if you'd like to wait a bit, I have a new batch
baking that should be ready in just a few minutes..."
The dark faerie cut her off with an impatient
whisk of her hand. "I don't want to wait! You should always have cookies available
for your customers; what a horrible store!"
With a disdainful huff, the faerie whirled about
and stalked from the bakery. Zhehi was devastated, for she had never had an
upset customer before. Quietly she closed her shop and retreated to her oven,
peering in at her cookies.
Instead of the lightly-browned cookies she was
expecting to see, her cookies were little more than limp white lumps of dough--as if they had never been cooked! Zhehi was shocked.
"But this can't be... they've been cooking for
a good twenty minutes now! They *have* to be done!"
But much to her dismay, when she pulled the cookies
from her oven and experimentally poked a claw in the center of one, her finger
came away with a glob of uncooked dough.
Much to her customers' confusion, Zhehi's shop
did not open the following day, nor the next. Instead, Zhehi spent her days
peering worriedly into her oven. It had not been a fluke; her cookies just weren't
crisping, and with the Day of Giving just around the corner! She was able to
bake cakes and pastries and muffins, but whenever she placed a sheet of cookies
on the oven rack, they always came away limp and uncooked.
How would she explain to her hopeful holiday
customers that there would be no cookies this year? Sadly, the Ruki conceded
defeat and gave up on her cookies, instead working twice as hard to make beautiful
cakes and pastries. She would make such wonderful desserts that nobody would
miss the cookies, she decided.
Remembering the faerie that had been upset about
missing her cookies, Zhehi prepared a special gift basket for her consisting
of iced cinnamon buns, a small vanilla cake, and half a dozen chocolate-chip
muffins. She set the basket aside, hoping the faerie would come back, and opened
her shop to the public once more.
Before long, excited customers arrived, but their
excitement quickly turned to disappointed confusion when they learned Zhehi
had not prepared any of her delicious cookies. Her other items were tasty, however,
so the sad Neopets paid for their lonely cakes and donuts and vanished into
the snow. Zhehi was about to close shop for the night, terribly missing her
cookies, when the faerie from days prior pushed her way into her shop.
The faerie glanced through the pastries for sale,
but her eyes eventually landed on the empty cookie basket.
"Why do you still have no cookies?! You would
think you'd have learned your lesson!" She scowled at the Ruki.
"I'm terribly sorry," Zhehi murmured, her eyes
downcast. "No matter what I do, my cookies won't crisp. I tried so hard to make
beautiful cookies for everyone, but I've failed."
A sinister smile appeared on the dark faerie's
face. "Good! Maybe now you'll be more careful about keeping your shelves stocked!"
At once, Zhehi realized that her inability to
bake had not been an accident, but was instead the doing of this strange faerie.
She gasped and asked, "Have you put a spell on my cookies so that they won't
"I have," the faerie said. "I don't reward people
who don't deserve it."
Zhehi was hurt; she had prepared a special basket
for this beautiful faerie, only to realize that she was the source of her troubles!
She sighed, and reaching behind the counter, she lifted the festive gift basket
and held it out to the dark faerie.
"I'm sorry that you think I don't deserve anything,
but I hope you'll accept this gift anyway. I put it together for you since you
weren't able to get any cookies, and it would be a shame to let it go to waste..."
She set the basket before the faerie and turned away to sadly begin cleaning
up for the night.
The faerie stared at the basket in amazement.
She had put a cruel spell on the Ruki's cookies, yet Zhehi had gone to the trouble
to prepare such a beautiful gift for her. She suddenly felt so very foolish...
A short time later, Zhehi heard the door to her
bakery quietly close, signaling that the faerie had left. Disappointed that
she hadn't said anything before leaving, Zhehi emerged from the kitchen to close
the shop. Her eyes widened and she came to an abrupt stop, looking around her
bakery in disbelief.
Every bin and basket in the store was filled
to the brim with crisp cookies, just waiting to be iced. All the cakes and pastries
that had sold out the previous day were back on the shelves, and the gift basket
remained on the floor, this time with a small note attached to it. An astounded
Zhehi pulled the note from the basket and read it:
"I don't reward people who don't deserve it,
but I bless those who do. May your cookies always crisp!"
Overjoyed, Zhehi immediately set to work icing
and decorating the abundance of cookies. When she opened shop the next morning,
her cookies sold out in record time, and there wasn't one customer who minded