“Chase me! Chase me!”
If he caught her, he would cast a spell on her. Gabrielle ran faster, but she couldn’t escape. “You are now a Princess!” she heard him proclaim.
“I don’t want to be a Princess!”
“What did you say, your Royal Highness?” asked an elderly lady seated beside her.
“Oh, nothing!” replied the Princess. On the carriage seat across from her were,
The Princess’s Book of
What to Do
The Princess’s Book of
What Not to Do
She could have screamed.
When they arrived at the palace, the King and Queen waited at the end of a long red carpet, and stared intently to see that their daughter did exactly as she ought to do.
Now, since it had rained a lot recently, the number of frogs in the palace moat had increased enormously. Despite the moat-keeper’s best efforts to keep them all there, one of them did manage to escape. Across the grass, it hopped, hopped until it stopped in front of the Princess.
“Croak!” it said.
“What?” she asked.
“Croak!” the frog said more loudly. “Croak! Croak!” Then it jumped into the Princess’s dress pocket.
That night, while her frog hopped in and out of a pitcher of water, the Princess had a dream. She dreamt that she was a girl called
Gabrielle and that she was playing chase across the autumn leaves with her uncle.
“Chase me!” she called. “Chase me!” And her uncle ran after her with a branch in his hand that was a magic wand.
“If I catch you,” he said, “I’m going to turn you into a Princess.”
“No, no,” she protested. “I don’t want to be a Princess. I’d rather be a frog!”
The dreaming Princess lay on her bed, a pitcher of water sat on a bureau and Gabrielle, who was now a frog, immediately jumped into it. After she got herself good and wet, she crouched beneath the Princess’s hair and went to sleep.
When morning came, Gabrielle, the frog, awoke to find the Princess reading a book. It was called,
The Princess’s Book of
How to Name a Royal Pet
“I’ve decided to give you a name,” said the Princess, “You will be Sir Gabby, Knight of the Lily Pad, but I will call you Gabby. You talk a lot and that is the best name for you.” Her frog croaked and then jumped into the pitcher of water.
It was a Saturday, a good day for a picnic. The entire palace came, including the King and the Queen, who sat on a swing for two.
When Gabby wriggled her way out of the Princess’s dress pocket, she looked for something wet to sink into. Whatever was in the punch bowl was red and cool and made her dizzy. She attempted a big hop back to the Princess but landed instead on the Queen. Next, a lady-in-waiting. She mishopped and she mishopped until … she landed in the picnic cake where she stuck and blushed a deep green.
“Haha!” cried the King.
“To the dungeon!” ordered the Queen.
That night, it rained. The dungeon was not entirely below ground, for its one barred window sat just above the moat that encircled the palace. The rain kept falling and soon a trickle of water began to flow down the wall. When the trickle became a stream,
Gabby’s eyes grew larger. A lily pad appeared with a frog croaking on top of it. Over the window ledge it slipped and landed in the pool that was forming on the dungeon floor.
Before very long, the pool of water was a rising flood fed by a waterfall that brought with it lots and lots of frogs. They surfed into the dungeon on their lily pads or simply tumbled down only to go up again with the ascending water, Gabby included.
When the curious guards outside opened the dungeon door, a wall of water fell over upon them, tossed them about and rolled them away.
Freed, Gabby and the other frogs headed for the bedroom of the Princess. When they reached it, they began to croak.
The Princess was fast asleep dreaming that she climbed a ladder in a vast palace library. She was headed towards two books that sat on the very topmost shelf:
The Princess’s Book of
How to Dream
The Princess’s Book of
How Not to Dream
when she found herself falling through the air and about to land on the hard library floor with no cushion in sight.
Wait! A sound. A croak! A thunderous croaking! Wake up! Sit up! With a jerk, she was awake.
When she opened her bedroom door, a flood of wart-covered, bulge-eyed, paddle-pawed, flick-tongued hoppers on and hoppers off ballooning and hiccuping overhopped and overthrew her.
Finally, Gabby jumped onto a chair and uttered a commanding croak that caused all the frogs to seal tight their lips.
“We have just escaped from the dungeon,” the Princess’s frog explained, “because of a great flood that came pouring in, bringing my friends with it and sweeping us out the door that the guards opened much to their getting wet.”
The Princess listened in puzzlement to her hopped-up friend’s series of croaks. She didn’t know what to do. None of the books she had read could help her. She thought and she thought. When she finally took a rest from thinking, an idea came to her. She would write her own book:
The Princess’s Book of
What to Do with a Bedroom Full of Frogs
“My bedroom is full of frogs,” she wrote. “If the King and Queen should find them, this time they won’t escape. If only they were back in the moat! Where they were safe!” she scribbled. “That’s it! Even Gabby has to go back. She will be happier there, happier than jumping in and out of a glass of water!”
She got up and led her frogs away.
“What was that?” cried the Queen when the Princess and her bulge-eyed entourage padded by the royal bedroom door.
“Oh, it’s a lot of frogs and our daughter, I think,” mumbled the King.
“Frogs! The Princess! She has frogs! Ring the alarm!” ordered the Queen.
Outside the palace, a little pond behind a cluster of trees had attracted the Princess, her frog Gabby and the rest.
Here the frogs were playing a game they called, “King of the Lily Pads.” Each frog would sit in the centre of its own lily pad and utter challenging croaks. The frogs edged closer and closer to the water. Eventually, to save themselves from foolishly tumbling in, they would boldly dive instead. The last one left on its pad won the game. Croaking loudly, this frog expanded in size showing itself bigger and better than all the others.
“Goodness! It’ll float away if it doesn’t watch it,” the Princess said to herself. She was about to try the same thing when there was no time to do anything but flee!
The Keeper of the Moat had come with his dogs in search of his frogs.
“Where have they got to?” he blubbered and whined.
Now, his dogs were a special breed of dog called a Folly Dog. It has stiff green fur, buggy eyes, holes for ears, and a long wart-tipped tongue. It is able to round up frogs just like sheep but, with the Princess in charge, no one was going to be rounded up if she could help it.
Through the woods, they hopped and ran. “Catch us if you can!” the Princess called back, and then tripped on a tree root. Gabby stopped beside her.
The Princess urged her friend to go on but Gabby wouldn’t leave. Beneath a Folly Dog’s opening jaws, she rolled over and played dead. As the teeth closed upon her, she decided she had had quite enough of this dream and left it, left it to find herself playing chase with her uncle.
“Chase me!” she called. “Chase me!”
Back in the dream, the Princess also came to a decision. “Expand!” she commanded. “Expand as you’ve never expanded before!” Immediately, all the frogs obeyed. They ballooned so much that the slightest wind carried them away. The Princess too expanded and rose into the air, snatching Gabby from the closing jaws of the Folly Dog.
Where the Princess and her frogs ended up, no one can say.
One thing is sure: At last the Princess went just where she wanted and did exactly as she pleased!
THE STAR-DUST DREAMERS
As big as the world, Humpetty Dumpetty’s back rose above and about him, wobbling but firmly in place. You could land a plane on it.You could take day-long walks across it and not reach the other side. It would be easier to bicycle to China on a sunny afternoon than to cross this Humpetty’s back. There were no maps, no proper sense of up or down.
“Make way there! Make way!” Humpetty Dumpetty would shout as he knocked over walls and church steeples. “More room! I need more room!” He cast his bad temper about him as he did his shadow.
When Humpetty walked the streets, or wandered in the country, he acted like the moon when it blocks the sun. Darkness went before him, and all the creatures, all the birds that found themselves in this darkness would think it night and do what was proper, that is, immediately go to sleep.
“Wake us up in the morning!” they’d say. “It’s been a short day, hasn’t it?!”
As for people, they would have to turn on their headlights or just play blindman’s buff with the difference that nobody could see. At the very least, they had to get out of the way. It should be said right away, however, that, while everybody wondered about such a bad temper, no one objected to this upsetting of their day. They accepted it like a mountain that you live around rather than try to move – something that has as much right as anything else to be wherever and whatever it is. And so it was with Humpetty Dumpetty.
Now Humpetty had a very pretty wife who, when needed, would give her husband a good scrub-down. This, as you can imagine, was quite an operation, entailing much soapy water, ladders, pulleys, galoshes, rubber aprons, sponges and a truckload of towels. At each washing, she could always count on whoever was around to pitch in. Firemen, shopkeepers, passersby, playing children, interested dogs and cats would gather about, raise the ladders, fill the buckets, add the soap and give a helping hand wherever needed.
Once the wash was done – usually in a park – Humpetty Dumpetty’s wife would bring out a picnic she had prepared: egg and cucumber sandwiches, chocolate cake, lemon pie, butter and blueberry jam sandwiches, peaches and cream and then, with rounded bellies, all the picnickers would settle down in Humpetty Dumpetty’s shade and go to sleep.
They always dreamed and, curiously, they all had the same dream, Humpetty’s wife included. Once again, they brought out the ladders and followed her to the very top of her husband’s back. There she opened a secret door just large enough for one person at a time to enter. Not knowing why or why not, except that to pass through a secret door seemed the only sensible thing to do in a dream, each and everyone, urged on by the pretty young wife, stepped into the darkness.
Now falling through the pitch black, each and everyone underwent a transformation. First, they lost all sense of their picnic bodies. The legs and hands they had used to climb the ladders and plunge through Humpetty Dumpetty’s secret door ceased to exist along with every other solid thing about themselves. Their ability to see, feel and understand, however, remained and they continued to fall through the vast darkness. With very good eyesight, one could detect them as the tiniest particles of what is known as star-dust drifting, drifting down through the endless reaches of space within the mountainous hollow. They might not have existed at all. But then, it may not matter how small you are, as long as you are.
Down, down they drifted, sinking deeper and deeper into the dark ocean of space. When they reached a certain unknown level, they came upon huge snowy birds with coal-black eyes, yellow beaks and snake-like necks. As to how many of these swans there were, it was impossible to say and so one might as well settle on “a lot” – they kept appearing out of nowhere. At their head floated one much larger than the rest – oh five times as large at least.
All the star-dust people now found themselves quite irresistibly drawn to the graceful birds. They saw that each swan was a world of dreams and that they could enter whichever of these worlds they wished. For a dreamer, it was an easy decision to make – like light entering the eye, they entered the dream worlds of the swans, floating into the light of swan worlds. Now the dreaming truly began, everything else having been little more than a process of getting there.
For one, however, the dreaming stopped right here. Humpetty Dumpetty’s wife, having waited until all of the star-dust dreamers had safely entered the dream worlds of the swans, now closed the secret door and … woke up. She, in turn, awakened her husband who never dreamt. They would get their things packed and tiptoe away together as quietly as they could in order not to disturb the sleeping picnickers. As for the cats and dogs, these followed for awhile but eventually lost interest and wandered off in different directions.
This pattern repeated itself wherever and whenever the bad-tempered Humpetty Dumpetty needed to have a bath. With the passing weeks, months and years, his back grew larger, larger and larger, rounder, rounder and rounder. Across the land, more and more groups of picnickers were enjoying a long after-lunch sleep – which seemed to go on and on.
Within the darkness of this mountainous back, innumerable swans, that is, much more than “a lot” twisted and turned through the inky air while at their head one giant swan gravely and sedately led the way. Unless you were a dreamer, that is all you would see. Anyone else would have to imagine all the other things that were happening.
What might one dream if one could choose to dream whatever one wanted? To fly like a canary or to sit with the monkeys and laugh at the people in their funny fur? To build an ice cream man in the summer that will give you a cool, sweet and sticky hug? To have passing clouds drop something other than rain, perhaps grand pianos floating softly down just because it’s so much nicer than falling with a crash or having to wait and have the delivery truck find your door, which is much more trouble? Yes! better to have them come down like snowflakes – enough for you and all your friends, just where you want them, in the park or at the seaside, with a glass of juice on top of each, arranged with two straws – much nicer, much more interesting.
One day, after yet another back-washing, the picnic over and a new crop of dreamers stepping through the trap-door, one jolly looking, very polite fellow turned to Humpetty Dumpetty’s wife just before going through the secret doorway, and said, “After you, Madam, please, after you.” She could not say no. And so, lifting one foot and then the other, she plunged right in.
“Pull the door after you!” she called merrily as she and the handsome young man headed toward the star-dust dreamers.
Once arrived, the pretty young wife and her new friend chose to enter a dream world together where they could hold hands and look at each other – since they got along so well and seemed to agree on practically everything.
When Humpetty Dumpetty awoke from his after-picnic nap, he was surprised to see his wife still in dreamland under his nose. He called to her. “Gwendolyn! Gwendolyn!” but with no response. As he studied the situation a little more, he saw that lying beside her was a satisfied-looking young man, that both sleepers were turned towards each other and had the sort of smile that a cat might have after licking up the cream it has just accidentally caused to spill from the kitchen table. “Yummy!” That is what their smiles said to him.
“Gwendolyn!” he tried again. “Gwendolyn!” he called loudly giving her a shake. Still asleep.
“Try the young gentleman,” he thought. He emptied a bucket of cold water over the broadly smiling face so close to that of his blissful wife – water cold enough to jar awake the deepest, most lifeless sleeper. As Humpetty Dumpetty looked on, the icy water trickled away from the still smiling, sleeping face.
Now Humpetty didn’t necessarily think of himself as being in a story, but he did something next that seemed to come right out of a story. He went and he sat on a wall. He was very sad and gloomy. He was very much in one of his bad tempers.
“Abandoned,” he said to himself. “I’ve been abandoned. My wife, my pretty wife has run off with …”
But here he stopped himself, for he could see very well that his wife had not run off at all. She was, in fact, right there … right there in front of him and, yet, not there, all at the same time.
“Maybe, when she awakes … if she awakes, everything will be fine,” he told himself as he rocked back and forth on the wall until, before long, he lost his balance and fell over. He fell all the way over with such a thud when he hit the ground that – although he said to himself, “This isn’t so bad!” – he was, in fact, quite knocked out. Unconscious. In dreamland.
He who had never dreamt before began now to dream that he was a magnificent swan, the leader in a gorgeous parade of other swans. He was in a world of dreams where at this very moment two other dreamers dreamt: his pretty young wife and a handsome young man who walked hand in hand by the rustling edge of the sea. They murmured to each other and murmured to each other. So happy were they, so content were they to sit on any old pebbles, that they never complained when they had to eat raw fish or stay outside all day in rainy weather.
In fact, every attempt to split them apart … with lightning, with sea monsters fierce enough to make other monsters quake, every effort merely produced the same reaction: “We must run and hide! We must protect each other! We must become even closer!” A final effort, with an enormous tidal wave, to carry them away from each other only made them turn into two sea gulls and soar away over the top of all that simply annoying water!
They were infuriating! and put Humpetty Dumpetty who was a swan into a really good bad temper. He whirled round and round. He didn’t stop. He whirled until he caught up to himself, until his whirling whirled him around, spun him round and round, and up and up above a great wind that roared beneath him and roared around him, a great black wind that grew and grew and carried him away, lifting the other dream swans with him, spinning them higher and higher, tumbling them round and round after him as he burst with all his bad temper through the open trap-door, sprung open by his toppling fall off the story-book wall, drawing all the other swans up and out with him. Into the sunlight.
It is time to wake up. It is time for one’s sleeping body to wake up. All the picnickers, all the picnickers everywhere awoke from their dreaming. Humpetty’s wife and her jolly young friend also awoke. Only the great swan couldn’t stop being a world of dreams, couldn’t return to a sleeping body, for Humpetty Dumpetty couldn’t awake and was, in fact, no more.
The great dream swan looked down at what was no more with an angry beating of its wings, but it didn’t help. No one noticed. It flew off and came down on a lake in the middle of the park, where a family of real swans was swimming about and enjoying themselves. It opened its mouth and hissed something very rude at all of them but they couldn’t hear it – and so, at last, it gave up and, instead, contented itself with its dreams.
THE WITCH WHO STOLE THE PINK
Gabrielle loved pink.
“Oh, hello Gabrielle,” the little pink-haired old lady would say. “Here’s a beautiful blue dress. Can I exchange it for that little pink button?”
With a quick snip from a pair of scissors, the little old lady had what she wanted.
One morning, Gabrielle woke up to find that her pink satchel had lost all of its colour!
“I have no idea,” said Gabrielle’s mother, “what has happened.”
On her way to school, the colourless satchel on her back, Gabrielle passed the little old pink-haired lady.
“Tee hee! Tee hee!”
When she looked back, she saw a fat Persian cat. And the cat was bright pink!
It was simply too much when her beautiful pink walls faded as well.
“WHAT HAPPENED HERE?” roared a voice.
Gabrielle turned to find a plump gentleman in a business suit seated on a chair which floated in the air. On his lap was a glass bowl containing a pink goldfish. Behind him, a hole in the wall was closing itself up.
“Who are you?” Gabrielle asked.
“I am the Chairman. I run things from my chair. Meet Roger, once just another fish in the pond!”
“Hello Roger!” Gabrielle said politely. “And why are you here?”
“You are having a colour problem?”
“Yes, someone is taking all of the pink away. I think it is the lady who lives just down the street with her pink, I mean, her black cat. It seems to have turned pink.”
“Most unusual,” said the Chairman. “You must help us put an end to this, Gabrielle!”
“Of course,” said Gabrielle. “But my mother will have to meet you first.”
“Naturally,” agreed the Chairman.
“You get about by means of the chair?” Gabrielle’s mother said when Gabrielle brought her new friend down to the kitchen.
“Not exactly,” said the Chairman.
“And you want Gabrielle to tie up a loose thread in the sweater of the world, is that it?”
“Yes. Someone appears to have gotten their hands on the pink thread of the world, and is pulling at it, removing it inch by inch. Once it is entirely gone, the whole sweater could unravel.”
“I shall have to write a note to your teacher informing her that you have been called away on urgent business,” said Gabrielle’s mother.
“Umm, one thing more,” added the Chairman, “if I might ask you for … .”
” A chair,” said the Chairman.
Gabrielle had to both think and feel where she wanted to go and that’s where she went in her chair.
As they floated down the street, they passed the little old pink-haired lady.
“Oh, what a pretty pink goldfish!” she said. “Do you think you might care to exchange it for a very precious jewel?”
“I have all the jewels I require,” the Chairman said. “What I have a real need of would be a nice fat, black, Persian cat.”
“No, no!” said the little old lady. She half-walked, half-ran away.
“Most interesting,” said the Chairman. “Shall we go and visit the cat?”
They directed their chairs down the street to where the lady lived. The cat was napping on the top front step. As the visitors approached, it opened one eye and spat.
“That’s no way to carry on, pussy,” said the Chairman as he placed the glass fish bowl before it.
“Roger!” Gabrielle exclaimed. “The cat will eat him!”
“No,” corrected the Chairman. “The fish has been thoroughly trained and will only be swallowed.”
As Roger leapt and splashed about, with a single bound from the cat it was all over!
“Good-bye, Roger,” Gabrielle said.
As she spoke, the cat began to turn a shocking electric pink, opened its mouth wide and Roger flew out. From his goldfish jaws, a pink thread trailed back to the cat’s mouth. Roger spun round and round inside his bowl of water. Soon a great pink ball grew about him and the cat returned to its natural blackness.
“That, Gabrielle, is the missing thread,” said the Chairman. “We must return it to its proper place.”
Moving at a good clip, they soon reached the coast and stopped on a high cliff that overlooked the sea. “You go down to the beach,” the Chairman said.
A little way along the shore, Gabrielle came upon the pink-haired old lady, with her black Persian cat crouched at her feet. Only, the lady’s hair was now white.
“How did you get here?” Gabrielle called out.
“Oh, I flew,” said the white-haired lady in a vague sort of way. “And yourself?”
“Oh, I flew,” answered Gabrielle, moving off in her chair.
She turned her gaze towards the sea just as a golden chariot
plummeted headlong into it. She couldn’t tell if it was a chariot or the sun that sat on the water.
“The chariot is pulled by the horses of the sun,” said the Chairman when Gabrielle reported back to him. “Their reins are made up of the colours of the sunset and of the sunrise. But, when one of the colours is missing, the Charioteer can no longer control the horses.
“It is the Charioteer who gives the world its beautiful sweater and, to keep warm in cool sunset evenings, he also wears one. With age, however, it became a little frayed around the edges, and the witch saw her chance and plucked a stray pink thread dangling down from the sky. This gave her power over all the pink everywhere.”
“What can we do?” asked Gabrielle.
At the edge of the sea, the Chairman drew one end of the pink yarn from about Roger and tied it around Gabrielle’s little pinky
finger. “Introduce yourself!” he said. “Explain why you have come and give him my best regards!”
As Roger swam toward the horizon, Gabrielle followed him on her chair, the sea becoming a pool of colours. The great chariot of the setting sun glowed, and the water bubbled silver.
The huge figure in the chariot, with snow-white hair and salt-caked beard, seemed very old. His head was slumped forward beneath his golden helmet.
“Watch out there! Night follows me! The horses of the sun will rise and scatter all the past before them! Watch out!” roared the Charioteer, coming out of his sleep. He stared fiercely at Gabrielle. “Who are you? You’re not the past. You’re the future. What is that tied to your finger?”
When he heard her story, the old Charioteer laughed uproariously. “That should teach you a good lesson!” he said although he didn’t say what it might be. “Now, I need someone to knot up these frayed ends before my whole sweater unravels. I
can’t control these horses and see to this at the same time.”
Gabrielle set about making little knots up and down the
Charioteer’s colourful sweater.
“And what do you mean to do with that pink thread?” he asked pointing at her finger.
“The Chairman said to tie it to the reins. That will break the spell,” Gabrielle replied.
“He did, did he? Well, he should take care of witches and suchlike,” snorted the Charioteer. “Give it here. I’ll show you how it works!”
Gripping the pink thread tightly among his fistful of other colours, the Charioteer gave a loud “YO!” The reins became taut, pulsed and throbbed as Roger braided his pink among them, and the golden chariot heaved forward out of the sea behind stupendous horses.
“Now the day breaks,” murmured the Charioteer as they skimmed along just above the tops of the waves.
“By the way, the Chairman told me to say, ‘Hello!'”
“Did he!” gruffly answered the Charioteer.
“Good-bye,” said Gabrielle and glided slowly away in her chair.
“YO!” called out the Charioteer as the horses of the sun galloped toward the sleeping world ahead of them.
With day rapidly ending, Gabrielle and the Chairman had to make the journey back at a much faster rate than they had come. They flew faster and faster until Gabrielle heard the Chairman say they were at “WALL SPEED” and suddenly they were inside her house, seated at the kitchen table.
Gabrielle’s mother looked up from what she was doing. “So there you are!” she said. “Just in time for bed.”
THE HALLOWEEN COSTUME
It was sort of horrible what happened to Annette that Halloween. She picked up her Dior skeleton costume all right. It seemed to fit. Out into the pumpkin-filled street she went, with all its goggly-lit dragon eyes, up close each one a grinning monster. Bodies hung from balconies – roped about the neck – speechless as they jerked back and forth in the wind. The sound of a goose or a hen – some kind of fowl – cackling in the sky made her look up but it was just a witch flying across the moon – or maybe it was only a black cloud. Something flitted in the air, brushing children’s faces – they screamed and covered their hair with their hands. Bats usually prefer the dark but tonight they headed for the bright windows. On Halloween, of course, everything goes topsy-turvy.
Annette went from door to door collecting treats. Edward Scissorhands gave colourfully wrapped candies, opening her bag with his long sharp fingers. Some of the children backed away from him down the stairs. A man with two heads looked at Annette twice and dropped in twice as much. A mummy came to the door but his bandage had slipped away at the top and … nothing was there. Maybe his neighbour had borrowed his head. He gave her something round, all neatly covered with blue metallic paper. “Ha ha!” A chocolate egg, she hoped. At the next house, the ghost was just someone inside a white sheet except that, when Annette dared to look, she didn’t see any feet. Whatever it was, it floated away after dropping some liquorice out of its sleeve.
She was doing pretty well until, that is, she came to one house where the owner crossed his eyes above his walrus moustache and stuttered as though already frightened by what trick she might perform.
“Th’ th’ that’ll be a trick please!”
Didn’t his mother ever tell him not to do that, Annette wondered as she looked at his twisted eyes. She decided to play along and so, like any self-respecting skeleton, she gave her bones a rattle. However, this didn’t satisfy the gentleman. He rattled his false teeth back at her.
“N’ n’ no. I wa’ wa’ want a r’ r’ real trick.”
“Okay,” said Annette, “you asked for it, you’re going to get it.” She promptly fell to pieces on his porch. Bone by bone, she came apart and formed a heap, her skull precariously perched on top.
“How about that!”
“P’ p’ pretty good. Ha, ha, ha,” replied the gentleman and closed his door.
“O oh,” said Annette to herself, “now what’ll I do? Let me see. The knee bone’s connected to the chin bone, the chin bone’s connected to the shoulder bone, the shoulder bone’s connected to the ankle bone, the ankle bone’s connected to the head bone, – oh bother! Maybe I can just crawl out of here. I’ll just fix this piece and that piece. There! All done!”
Annette looked sort of like a crab – perhaps a galaxy of stars spinning out of control – her head somewhere in the middle of a circle of leg bones and arm bones and back bones.
“I think I’ve got it now,” she said, and made her way to the next house.
“Trick or treat!”
“Aghhhhh!” the lady screamed and ran back into the house.
“This is pretty good,” thought Annette. “This is what’s supposed to happen. Scary stuff.” But then, she realized she didn’t get a treat. She tried the next house. Same thing. This was no good. Here she was giving out tricks and no one would give her a treat. Her bag was only half-full.
She began to blubber. Just a little bit.
“What’s the matter, Annette?” said her big sister Juliette, from across the street.
“No one’s putting anything in my bag.”
“You’re not the little skeleton sister I remember,” said Juliette, who had come closer.
“It’s me! It’s me!”
“No, no,” said her sister. “Annette’s a well-connected little skeleton; whereas, you are a misconnected bunch of bones. If you don’t watch it, a dog will come along and bury you. Now, where is my sister?”
She looked up and down the dark street for Annette.
“No! no! I’m here! I’m here! And my bag’s only half-full!”
“I know you’re here! Whoever or whatever you are! Prove to me that you’re Annette!” said her sister.
“My hair is black.”
“So is a lot of little girls’.”
“My drawing is on the refrigerator.”
“I like to play in the park.”
At last, desperately, Annette said, “Sing me that song!”
“You know, the bone song. Sing me the bone song and I’ll prove to you who I am.”
“It seems to be either that or the wheelbarrow to cart you away,” said her sister and began to sing.
“The foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone’s connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone,
The hip bone’s connected to the back bone,
The back bone’s connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone’s connected to the head bone …
And that’s the way we are!”
“And that’s the way I am,” said Annette, who had followed along with the song putting herself properly back together, until finally she was upright on her two feet.
“Wait a minute,” said her sister. Juliette twisted Annette’s head bone so that it faced the right way.
“That’s better. Now, I think it’s time to go home.”
“But my bag’s still half-empty!” cried Annette.
“No, it’s not, it’s half-full,” said her sister.
“Half-full! half-empty!” Annette complained as they walked back home.
When they reached their house, she heard that old goose in the sky again. It was laughing at her. Annette turned to look just in time to see a black-robed and pointy-hatted figure crash right into the moon.
“She didn’t watch where she was going,” said her sister, but Annette was busy collecting everything that fell out of the witch’s sack. Soon her bag was full.
Inside the house, as she went through all her treats – froggypops, lollydogs, jellyworms, sluggydrops, wartychocs, loopysnakes and yummy gummy chewytoads! – trying to decide which she would have first, it was all too much for her bones and they began to rattle excitedly.
“Now don’t you come all undone!” she said. “I’m too busy to sing the bone song all over again.”
THE ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD
One day, the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD floated into the land of the MONKEY KING, who immediately took advantage of this air-borne visitor for his own FLYING PURPOSES.
“Perfect!” exclaimed the KING when his servants strapped the traveling compartment to the back of the ELEPHANT. In India, this conveyance is called a ‘HOWDAH’. The MONKEY KING sat on an EMBROIDERED PILLOW and rode all over the place in it.
Before long, the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD rained and whatever its rain fell upon grew hugely.
“Splendid!” said the MONKEY KING.
Also pleased was the PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA, his fair daughter, who liked to eat.
“MORE! MORE!” she called. “YUM! YUM! YUM! YUM!”
When the MONKEY KING passed over a vegetable garden, he ordered the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD to rain. The egg plants swelled up, the tomatoes bent their stalks, the carrots burst out of the ground. The PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA began to pick, when a shadow fell over her and with it came a “snopping” sound: “SNOP! SNOP! SNOP! SNOP!”
A Snapdragon had gurgled down all the delicious ELEPHANT RAIN pouring from the drain pipe above it and had gone in search of something more. “Anything will do!” it said. “SNOP! SNOP!” it went through the roses, the daisies, the petunias, the lilacs, the sweet-peas.
Eventually, it SNOPPED its way through the MONKEY KING’S entire KINGDOM until not a blossom remained and it was just as big as PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA herself had become. And so KERRBOB – as the growling, head-dipping SNAPDRAGON came to be called – decided to take up a MUSICAL INSTRUMENT in order to keep its mind off its BELLY until SPRING came again and everything would have grown back. He chose the CHURCH ORGAN as best for his size, and the MONKEY KING agreed to have one built.
KERRBOB sang while he played the BIGGER-THAN-ANY-OTHER MUSICAL INSTRUMENT:
KERRBOB’S BLOOMETTY BLOSSOMY SNAPPLETY SNOPPLETY SONG
also known as
THE SONG OF MY TUM
Pass the ketchoppetty, lovely ketchuppetty!
Pass the ketchoppetty do!
Wriggletty Wroggletty Piggletty Poggletty
Masheddy Mosheddy Misheddy Musheddy
Slurp it ecstotically
That is the Song
Of my Tum!
In his HOWDAH, the MONKEY KING listened to this song for the HUNDREDTH TIME, while he watched the news on his IPAD. It reported on the appearance of TIGERS, CROCODILES, SNAKES, GIANTS-WITH-ONLY-ONE-EYE and a PINK-HAIRED PLATYPUS in the SKY.
“It’s all a MYSTERY since no one can explain it,” the news announcer said. “One thing is sure, it has NOTHING to do with KERRBOB’S ORGAN PLAYING and his SINGING that EVERYONE is ENJOYING and HOPES VERY, VERY MUCH that he will play EVERY THURSDAY, like today, or any other day that he wishes.”
“Or all night and all week,” muttered the MONKEY KING, who looked up to see a ONE-EYE-IN-THE-CENTRE-OF-ITS-FOREHEAD GIANT trundle up and demand, “SOMETHING TO EAT! ANYTHING AT ALL! YOU’LL DO!” and the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD charged the GIANT and passed right through to the OTHER SIDE.
“Hah!” chortled the MONKEY KING, but the ELEPHANT HOLE had already filled in and the OGRE gobbled up the houses down below, the occupants still seated on their sofas and armchairs, and IT gobbled up EVERYTHING ELSE!
The next day, the IPAD announced, MOST FEARSOME GIANT GOBBLES EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING UP! while KERRBOB played and played at his CHURCH ORGAN, with more and more CLOUDY TIGERS, CROCODILES, and GIANTS appearing in the SKY ABOVE!
The MONKEY KING swung through the trees consulting all the OLD NEWS in the newspapers blown there by the WINDS from KERRBOB’S ORGAN, but they all agreed with his IPAD that EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS GONE!
“The only thing to do,” he decided, “is to do something about it.” He set about collecting all the NEWS in the land, stacking it up and sitting on the very top just as if it were his THRONE. “THAT,” he said, “should put the SITUATION completely under CONTROL.”
From this HEIGHT, he had a very good view of a CIRCUS PERFORMANCE that all the CLOUDY CREATURES were putting on with the help of KERRBOB’S ORGAN PLAYING. The PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA, munching on a SACK OF POPCORN and wearing a very pretty EXTRA-EXTRA-EXTRA-LARGE-SIZE DRESS patterned with daisies and buttercups from shoulder to knee, came and stood beside her HIGHLY PLACED father.
When the CIRCUS PERFORMERS began to fall out of the sky and TUMBLE ABOUT on the ground, the MONKEY KING called out, “KERRBOB, pay more attention to what you’re playing!” Turning, the MONKEY KING saw what had distracted the busily TWEETING-AT-HIS-IPHONE KERRBOB: the blushing and likewise TWEETING PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA in her flowery dress.
“Fetch the BOOK OF EVERYTHING!” commanded the MONKEY KING. Under ‘Snapdragons and Princesses,’ there wasn’t anything. He took out his IPAD and went to WIKIPOODIA. There it was! ‘SNAPDRAGONS. Purpose of: to kidnap PRINCESSES. Remedy: KNIGHT-IN-SHINING-ARMOUR.’”
He hopped onto the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD and set off, but all he could find were PILES OF RUSTY ARMOUR until he came upon a HORSE that wore saddle bags with PROPERTY OF THE KNIGHT-IN-SHINING-ARMOUR stamped on them. The HORSE merely whinnied to all the MONKEY KING’s inquiries.
“Just rain on him a bit, would you!” the MONKEY KING ordered his ELEPHANT CLOUD.
“Here, stop that!” cried the HORSE. “I’ve been trying to tell you that my master – the KNIGHT-IN-SHINING-ARMOUR – is having tea with the Princess MEEMEE but he did leave his MAGIC MIRROR for anyone who wants to do the HERO’S JOB himself.”
The MONKEY KING dug about in the horse’s saddlebags where he located the MAGIC MIRROR. When he looked into it, someone noble, strong and courageous stared back at him. His lip curled bravely.
“At last, I have found my TRUE SELF,” declared the MONKEY KING, “and I really could do with a shave!”
On his return, the MONKEY KING nearly fell out of his HOWDAH. Down below, the SNAPDRAGON KERRBOB had PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA in HIS GRIP. SHE had HIM in HERS. In front of them stood a PINK-HAIRED PLATYPUS, reading from a BLACK IPHONE, while the ONE-EYED GIANT played a WEDDING MARCH on KERRBOB’S ORGAN!
As soon as the CEREMONY was over, the HAPPY COUPLE looked at the MONKEY KING who grinned as he handed them their wedding present. “This looking-glass will also tell you if you need a shave,” he said to KERRBOB.
“How very THIN, how very BEAUTIFUL I am!” declared PRINCESS GABOOLALOOLA. Thinking of all the ADMIRERS that would soon be lining up to meet her, she passed the mirror to KERRBOB.
When he looked into the glass, KERRBOB saw a little snapdragon not at all suitable for a LARGE AND HUNGRY PRINCESS. Having thought better of things, he wandered away in search of a nice garden where he might tweet with the rhododendrons.
The MONKEY KING was most pleased at this turn of events and he dutifully set off to return the MAGIC MIRROR to its proper owner. Afterwards, he planned to visit all sorts of people in FAR-OFF PLACES. “They will be most pleased to see me in my howdah,” he said, and the ELEPHANT WHO WAS A CLOUD began to RAIN – just a little.