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Knights of the Vine RUSSIA


Pileloops’ Festival
This story, written by a talented local author, will be continued.
Written by Natalie Kurtog
Illustrations by Nika Harrison

Chapter One. Grandfather’s Hat

That’s the way, press the dough!”

Granny pressed the dough round the pastry, leaving the meat stuffing inside, and delicately moulded the pie. “It’s ready!”

“Like this?” Peter asked, covered from head to foot in flour. Meat stuffing obstinately oozed out of the edges of his pie. He tried to put it back inside but the stuffi ng had got the whiff of freedom and wasn’t going anywhere.

“Oh no!”

“Never mind, you’ll learn. You’ve got to get the knack.”

“What’s the knack?” Peter asked.

“You’ve got to know how to use your hands, and experience,” said Granny, turning over a new pie, “like a magician.”

“You are a real magician, Granny.”

“No, I’m not, but your great-grandfather was,” said Granny nodding towards a yellowing photograph in a frame hanging on the wall.

Peter went up to the portrait and started to look at it carefully. A man with a moustache and a hat peered down at him.

“Is this your father?”


It seemed to Peter that his greatgrandfather was looking right at him and smiling. The boy dodged to the left, out of great-grandfather’s line of vision:

“He keeps on looking at me! What a strange costume he’s got on.”

“It’s a waistcoat. He used to wear that when he did shows at the circus.”

“And what did he do?”

“He did tricks. Just imagine, in less than a minute he could pull all sorts of things out of his hat: a cat, a rabbit, a bouquet of flowers, a ribbon, handkerchiefs and a whole flock of pigeons.”

“Was the hat magic?” Peter asked.

“In his hands it was magic,” Granny sighed.

“I wish I had a hat like that. When I was this small,” with the palm of his hand, Peter showed half his height, “I dreamt of being a magician! Granny, can you do tricks?”

“My biggest trick is tasty pies!”

Peter watched closely as granny carefully cracked an egg, took a goose feather and started to stroke the pies, which made them turn yellow and shiny.

“There, the pies are ready!” she said at last. “Let them stand for a little while. We’ll light the stove and bake them, so that you won’t be hungry any more. Tomorrow I’m going into town very early, for the whole day. Will you be alright on your own?”

“Babushka, where is great-grandfather’s hat now?” Peter asked, poking his head into the flue. He wanted to see the sky through it.

“It’s somewhere in the attic, in with the old things. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen it for a while. I used to come across it from time to.”

“Will you give it to me!” Peter asked, peering at the black hole in the flue.

“If you find it, please, it’s all yours,” granny replied.

Then Peter saw two small shining eyes looking at him from deep inside the chimney. Suddenly – whoosh! He was covered with soot.

Peter jumped away from the stove. At first he was scared, then he decided it was just his imagination, and he calmed down.

Granny came up to the stove to stoke it.

“Oh, you’re completely covered in flour and soot! Go and get washed and get into some clean clothes. Dinner’s almost ready.”

“I want to have a look in the attic first, it’s dusty there!” Peter couldn’t wait to find the hat.

He wiped the soot off his nose with h is sleeve, shook the flour off his trousers and quickly climbed up to the attic. He was itching to find the hat.

Chapter Two. Getting Aquainted

It was dark in the attic.

“Ah-Tchoo!” the boy sneezed loudly, “where has all this dust come from?”

“Now that’s a question nobody knows the answer to. It gets in everybody’s way,” a rasping voice said.

Peter swivelled round to where the voice was coming from, but all he could see was dust swirling in the light of a lamp.

“All I can see is dust!” he shouted.

“That’s what I am!”

“You are dust? Sure you are,” Peter said in a doubting voice. He waved his hand, but dust had got into the light.

“You just blew me out of your nose and shook me off your trousers.”

“I blew soot out of my nose and shook flour off my trousers.”

“It was me up your nose, when you looked up the flue. I heard everything, Peter. You came here for the hat.”

“What’s your name?” The boy peered into the dust, trying to see who he was talking to.

“My name is Peeleloop!”



“Can I see you?”

“You can do if you turn into dust like me.”

“Like you!” Peter laughed. “Turn into dust?”

“I haven’t seen you here before,” said Peeleloop.

“This is yet first time I’ve been to Granny’s. She used to come to see us.”

“What do you need the hat for?”

“I want to be a real magician, like my great-grandfather.”

“Every boy dreams of doing magic and all that.” Peter heard a heavy sigh.

“Do you know where it is?

“I’m old, unfortunate Peeleloop, and I’ve got a hole in my memory. I left it on the pine tree!”

Peter was so surprised he sat down.

“You left your memory with a hole in it on a pine tree?

“No! The hat with a hole in it. Really! You’re going to get me completely confused! The hat hasn’t got a hole in it! It’s as good as new! It’s hanging on a pine tree, in the forest.”

“And why did you take it there? Why’s the hat so important?”

“I’ll tell you what, why don’t we fly and get it, and I’ll tell you everything.”

“What do you mean ‘fly’? I can’t fly.”

“Oh oh, there she goes again! Just listen to her.”

From downstairs a voice rang out: “Peter!”

“Granny’s calling!”

“Are you scared of her?” Peeleloop asked.


Granny raised her voice:

“Peter where are you? The stove has gone out!”

“I’m coming!” the boy answered and went over to the stairs.

“I’ll wake you up in the night! Just don’t tell Granny anything about me, not a word!” a whisper reached his ears as he came down form the attic.

Chapter Three. The Adventures Begin

The pies were amazingly tasty. Peter demolished them with great speed, sloshing them down with tea.

“Did you find the hat?” grandmother asked, when Peter, with his mouth full of pie, reclined back on the spine of his chair.

“It’s not there.”

“Did you look in the cupboard?”


Grandmother fell into thought. Then, watching as her grandson pushed his plate away from him, asked: “Full up?”

“Bursting!” Peter replied, patting his stomach.

“Don’t get lost tomorrow,” grandmother reminded Peter, “I’ll be getting back late. There’s some pies in the saucepan! I’ll take my umbrella with me just in case, they said that the good weather might change on the telly.“

Fresh air, and grandmother’s pies did their job. Peter yawned. He said good-night to Granny and then went up to his room.

It seemed he had only just closed his eyes when he heard a voice saying: “Peter! Peter! You sleep like a log!”

Peter opened his eyes. It was dark in the room.

“Is that you, Peeleloop?” the boy sat up.

“Shhhh! Granny will wake up. I’m up here in the attic. Get dressed and let’s set off!

The wind rattled the window. The curtains moved, and the moon looked into the room.

Peter got dressed quickly, threw on his anorak, a cap, picked up his rucksack and sat on his bed. He was scared: he didn’t know what was waiting for him upstairs. Will he ever return?, and if he knew he would really upset Granny if he didn’t. But he was burning to find great-grandfather’s legendary hat, and find out why it was so special to Peeleloop. There were so many questions, and even more secrets.

Peter straightened his bedclothes so that it looked as though he was still in bed. Then he tiptoed past granny’s room and out onto the veranda. The floorboards betrayed him and squeaked.

Peter knocked over an empty bucket and there was a crashing noise. He froze on the spot and listened. When he heard Granny’s regular breathing he sighed with relief, shoved some pies into his rucksack and quickly went up the steps to the attic.

“Peeleloop” the boy said.

But nobody answered.

“Peeleloop, I’m here,” he said a little louder. Silence.

“PEELELOOP!” the boy shouted.

“What are you making such a din for? Come up here!”

Stepping carefully, feeling his way with his hand, Peter moved in the direction of the voice.

“It’s dark and frightening in here, and I don’t know where you are. Where are you?”

“In the barrel!” answered Peeleloop.

The moon glanced into the small window, and Peter could see a large old oak barrel. The barrel had been used to soak apples, and then stored in the attic, forgotten and had darkened with age.

“I’m getting the place ready for your transformation.”

“You’re going to transform me? Into what?”

“Into dust!”

“What did you say?”

“You think you can fly with your weight and size?”

“Where can I put this?” Peter asked, swinging his rucksack above the barrel.

Then he heard a scraping laughter that was so infectious that Peter had to join in, although he didn’t understand why Peeleloop was laughing.

“Well you really prepared yourself well didn’t you!” Peeleloop chuckled. “You should have packed a fishing rod as well!”

“I thought we might get hungry, after all, we’ll be flying all day.”

“Even pies, aha!” Peeleloop choked with laughter.

“A little bit more, and I won’t be able to move!”


“From tears!” Get into the barrel, now!” Peeleloop ordered.

“Why?” Peter said, surprised.

“Are you flying with me to get the hat or not?”


“Then stop asking questions and get into the barrel, we haven’t got much time.”

Curiosity got the better of him. Peter climbed into the barrel and sat down. Dust started showering down on him, there was so much of it that the boy closed his eyes with his hands and shouted:

“Why are you chucking dust at me?”

Peeleloop carried on: “Remember, Peter, stay away from water and strong wind, they’re dangerous for you!” The boy tried to stand up, but the barrel rose up over the fl oor and turned around.

“If the wind carries you away, you’ll get lost, if you come into to contact with water, you’ll need time in order to dry off and become light again.”


“Listen and remember: you must be home before sunset. If you don’t get home in time, you will be a Peeleloop for ever!”

Peter felt that he could be many things: syrup and cream for a mixer, a football just about to be kicked into a goal, anything but a boy inside a barrel turning into dust. The barrel revolved so fast that he thought he’d be sick.

He stretched out his arms, trying to reach the sides of the barrel, but then it stopped.

“Well, what are you sitting there for, fly!” he heard Peeleloop saying.

Peter opened his eyes, and immediately overcome with fear, closed them again. be continued!

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