He greets everyone warmly, old friends always even if you’ve only just met. If someone refers to him politely as Mister Toad he will chuckle and say that Mister Toad is his father and do please call him George.
George offers cocoa and tea and mugs of warm soup made with winter squash and cinnamon and sage. To take the chill off, he says, even as the snowflakes continue to fall on your hat and in your soup.
(But he is correct, it does remove the chill as gently as unravelling the scarf around your neck, though your scarf stays cozily in place.)
Mr. Toad hops about under your chair and fusses over the sparrows in their house to be certain they have biscuits with their tea, explaining that the biscuits with the sugar icing birds are their favorites, resulting in a flurry of twittering cannibal jokes from the sparrows.
George tells stories and shares recipes and rhapsodizes about this magical time of the year, going on at length about how delighted he is to have such lovely company.
“He used to be a prince,” someone whispers quietly to their neighbor.
“He still is,” comes the deft reply.
George himself says nothing about the matter, but he winks at you as he refills your tea.
About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.