“Feeling fear is all right, my sweet Pippin. But being brave is confidence despite fear.”

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“Is that them? “said Pippin while peeking through a flowering shrub.
“Yes, my dear Pippin. Those are artisans.”
“I see. Well… artisans look almost like elves!”
“That’s right, “replied Mary the Squirrel while gently brushing Pippin on his left shoulder with her tail.
“What is he doing?”
“Shhh, Pippin. The Maestro might hear us.”

An older man with a bushy white mustache standing in front of a white stucco house reached into his gray apron’s front pocket. With a handful of bread crumbs, he lifted the treats up as he stood at the doorway. In a matter of seconds, half a dozen pigeons flew around him, hovering, picking bread crumbs from his hand. The man laughed and kept taking more breadcrumbs out of his pocket. Once he ran out of morsels, The Maestro waited for the pigeons to fly away and went back into the house, closing the door behind him.

“Just slightly taller…” muttered Pippin.
“What was that again?” asked Mary the Squirrel.
“I said artisans are just slightly taller than elves!”
“Right…”
“Also, their ears are much smaller, and their costumes are plainly boring.”
“Well, actually, that was a simple white shirt. A pretty common thing among artisans. And that is an older artisan you saw feeding the pigeons.”
“Aha… Okay. Boring shirt included, he is nothing like me.”
“Exactly… Pippin, will you go to him now?”
“Why?”
“Well, to ask the artisan if he can reattach the pom-pom to your shoe?”
“Okay…” The elf said falteringly.

“Hmm, Mary the Squirrel?”

“Yes?”
“What is that?” Pippin asked and pointed at a small window on the second story of the little white stucco house.
“What is what?”
“That!” Pippin pointed his finger to a small human head, looking out the house’s small upstairs window.
“Oh. That! That is Maestro’s grandson.”
“Well, why can’t I ask him? He looks more like me!”
“Because he doesn’t repair shoes. He is not a full artisan yet. He is the grandson of an artisan. Pippin, just go to the main door and ask the Maestro.”
“No. I want to go to the upstairs small human.”
“You mean the child?”
“Yes. Is the child a human too?”
“Yes, and undeveloped child…”
“Okay. I am going to the child!”
“Okay, do as you like,” agreed Mary the Squirrel.
“Mary the Squirrel?”
“Yes?”
“I will wait for the night.”
“How is the night a better time than now? Do you want to scare the child, Pippin?”
“Scare? I will not scare him! I will ask him for help. He looks kinder than Maestro, anyway.”
“Okay. Then let us wait for sundown in the garden.”
“Will they see us?”
“No, they won’t.”

“No. We have no time. Introduce the fourth stimuli now.”
“How? P. said he will wait.”
“Change the squirrel’s response.”

“…. not really brave of you, though…” taunted Mary the Squirrel under her breath.
“Mary the Squirrel?”
“Yes, Pippin?”
“I heard you. You said, not brave of me, right?”
“What exactly do you think I meant?”
“Well, not meeting The Maestro now and waiting for after sunset to meet the child. I suppose procrastinating.”
“Honestly, Pippin, it is not brave. It is downright coward,”
ridiculed Mary the Squirrel.

Pippin exhaled loudly.

“I understand you feel fearful and apprehensive,” offered Mary the Squirrel.
“I really am,” admitted Pippin with droplets welling in his eyes.
“Feeling fear is all right, my sweet Pippin. But being brave is confidence despite fear.”
“Okay… I will brave the distance. Now!”
“Great! Just knock on the door.”
“You mean to the window?”
“What window, Pippin? We enter homes through doors.”
“But I want to go upstairs and meet the child.”
“You just said you would be audacious!”
“Well… Yes. I will not wait for the night. I will meet the child now!”
“It really must be hard to be as firm as you, Pippin,” raised Mary the Squirrel her eyebrows.
“Well… Thank you for noticing,” said Pippin proudly.
“Pippin… Please go to Maestro. Please do not scare the child. Please… Let’s just fix your shoes.”
“My Elven crakows, you mean.”
“Yes, your Elven crakows.”
“Okay. I am going in now.”

“Bravo, Pippin!” cheered Mary the Squirrel as Pippin willingly placed one foot in front of the other, crossed the distance from the yard to the door, and reached the doorknocker.
“Who is it?” a deep voice said from the inside.
“Umm. Pippin! It is Pippin.”
“Who?”
Flummoxed, Pippin ran back behind the shrub. Mary Mary the Squirrel, he doesn’t know who I am. What do I do next?

“Artisans are creative craft workers. Just say why you are here, Pippin. Behave as you usually do. Like when you walked into my house. Confidence is an act.”
“Ah, okay. I can do that. Pippin can do that,” repeated Pippin to himself as he walked to the little house. Pippin held his pom-pom in his right hand and inhaled deeply. His left hand knocked twice. He then stood still, anxiously waiting.

This time he heard footsteps. At first, they seemed far away, but soon they became louder. And louder. Then the door opened.

“Who is there? Why are you knocking?” asked the man loudly while looking above Pippin’s head, straight into the garden.
“It is me, sir. Pippin,” smiled Pippin nervously as he took a step back, tilted his neck to see the older man.

The Maestro looked down and frowned. He blinked twice and kept staring at Pippin, standing akimbo in silence.

“I am an elf. My name is Pippin, and I need your help. My friend told me you are a craftsman and you fix shoes. I have my Elven crakows, which are like shoes and my…”
“Ah, you sweet being!”—chuckled Maestro as Pippin jabbered on about his crakows—”Let’s go right in.”
“Well, thank you!” said Pippin with a sense of relief and entered The Maestro’s home. The doors closed behind them, and the sun slid behind the hills, leaving both the garden and Mary the Squirrel in a pink-tinted twilight.

Report on experiment number four (“Human”):
The subject of the experiment: An elf named Pippin.
The elf in question successfully passed experiment number four. Human-like behavior observed; the elf in question experienced pride and shame. We are now starting with experiment number five.
A report issued by The Human-Elf Interaction Laboratory

WE&P by EZorrilla.

The Human-Elf Interaction Laboratory

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