Seligor's Castle, fun for all the children of the world. HeyDiddleDiddle
The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast
William Roscoe published
substantial quantities of poetry but much is regarded as rather
uninspiring. The exception is the children’s poem The Butterfly’s Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast which
is perhaps Roscoe’s best, most popular and imaginative poem. He wrote
it to placate his young son, Robert, who one evening in 1806 wanted to
go with his father to a dinner invitation. It first appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine in
November 1806 and was published, illustrated with coloured drawings by
William Mulready, in 1807 by John Harris, owner of the Juvenile Library
in London. Two early editions of this poem are on display.
The poem attracted the attention of George III and the Queen, and was
set to music at their request by court composer Sir George Smart for
the young princesses Elizabeth, Augusta and Mary.
Come take up your Hats, and away let us haste To the Butterfly's Ball, and the Grasshopper's Feast. The Trumpeter, Gad-fly, has summon'd the Crew, And the Revels are now only waiting for you.
So said little Robert, and pacing along, His merry Companions came forth in a Throng. And on the smooth Grass, by the side of a Wood, Beneath a broad Oak that for Ages had stood,
Saw the Children of Earth, and the Tenants of Air, For an Evening's Amusement together repair. And there came the Beetle, so blind and so black, Who carried the Emmet, his Friend, on his Back.
And there was the Gnat and the Dragon-fly too, With all their Relations, Green, Orange, and Blue. And there came the Moth, with his Plumage of Down, And the Hornet in Jacket of Yellow and Brown;
Who with him the Wasp, his Companion, did bring, But they promis'd, that Evening, to lay by their Sting. And the sly little Dormouse crept out of his Hole, And brought to the Feast his blind Brother, the Mole.
And the Snail, with his Horns peeping out of his Shell, Came from a great Distance, the Length of an Ell. A Mushroom their Table, and on it was laid Water-dock Leaf, which a Table-cloth made.
The Viands were various, to each of their Taste, And the Bee brought her Honey to crown the Repast. Then close on his Haunches, so solemn and wise, The Frog from a Corner, look'd up to the Skies.
And the Squirrel well pleas'd such Diversions to see, Mounted high over Head, and look'd down from a Tree. Then out came the Spider, with Finger so fine, To shew his Dexterity on the tight Line.
From one Branch to another, his Cobwebs he slung, Then quick as an Arrow he darted along, But just in the Middle, -- Oh! shocking to tell, From his Rope, in an Instant, poor Harlequin fell.
Yet he touch'd not the Ground, but with Talons outspread, Hung suspended in Air, at the End of a Thread, Then the Grasshopper came with a Jerk and a Spring, Very long was his Leg, though but short was his Wing;
He took but three Leaps, and was soon out of Sight, Then chirp'd his own Praises the rest of the Night. With Step so majestic the Snail did advance, And promis'd the Gazers a Minuet to dance.
But they all laugh'd so loud that he pull'd in his Head, And went in his own little Chamber to Bed. Then, as Evening gave Way to the Shadows of Night, Their Watchman, the Glow-worm, came out with a Light.
Then Home let us hasten, while yet we can see, For no Watchman is waiting for you and for me. So said little Robert, and pacing along, His merry Companions returned in a Throng.
Follow this link for more exciting and interesting facts about William Roscoe, who not only rote books and poems but also was a leader in the Anti Slave Trade Campaign.
Hey Diddle, Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle The Frog jumped over the Tortoise This was fun at the time, but I really can't rhyme Many words rhyming 'sept Porpoise.
Don't go away though, I've been searching for some really nice stories or rhymes for us..... and I have found a few in a 107 year old book. so they should be brand new for most of you. Now the first poem is called "The Foolish Frog " and was written by a gentleman called Stephen Southwold,
but he changed his name quite a lot when he became famous, though he
wrote this as Stephen Southwold when he was in his twenties.
THE FOOLISH FROG.
A nimble, lithe and spruce young frog, Who gambolled by the riverside With many an eager hop and jump, A slow old tortoise there espied.
Puffed out with pride, the vain young frog Sneered at the slow one's crawling gait; "It must be hard," he jeered, "To be condemned to such a fate."
I don't suppose," he then went on, "You know how fine it is to leap, In fact," he mocked, "I half believe You merely crawl along asleep.
"Yet, if you'd only try to learn, It's simpler far than A B C. Why, mother said she did not spend A single moment teaching me."
"Now watch me!" said the foolish frog, The tortoise tried to hide a smile. The young frog leapt . . . . too late he saw The slyly waiting crocodile !...
HEY DIDDLE, DIDDLE. THE CAT AND THE FIDDLE THE COW JUMPED UP TO THE STARS THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED TO SEE SUCH FUN, AND THE SHEEP CAME DOWN FROM MARS
Hey diddle diddle, not more cats.... meiow Seligor does love her pussy cats. CAT'S PARADISE:
A cat died and went to Heaven. God met her at the gates and said, "You have been a good cat all these years.Anything you want is yours for the asking."
The cat thought for a minute and then said, "All my life I lived on a farm and slept on hard wooden floors. I would like a real fluffy pillow to sleep on."
God said, "Say no more." Instantly the cat had a huge fluffy pillow.
A few days later, six mice were killed in an accident and they all went to Heaven together. God met the mice at the gates with the same offer that He made to the cat.
The mice said, "Well, we have had to run all of our lives: from cats, dogs, and even people with brooms! If we could just have some little roller skates, we would not have to run again."
God answered, "It is done." And the mice had beautiful little roller skates.
About a week later, God decided to check on the cat. He found her sound asleep on her fluffy pillow. God gently awakened the cat and asked, "Is everything okay? How have you been doing? Are you happy?"
The cat replied, "Oh, it is WONDERFUL. I have never been so happy in my life. The pillow is so fluffy, and those little “Meals on Wheels” you have been sending over are delicious!"
This tale comes from : - Self Help Books & Personal Development Site Content Guide
"Queen Pepper has given me permission to use the pictures of the Googlenok's from Peppercorn Green for pictures, I said a big thank you from all of us"
THE OLD WOMAN WHO LIVED IN A SHOE Chapter One
Everybody knows that once upon a time there was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, and that she had so many children she didn't know what to do. And they know that she gave the children some broth without any bread, and whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed. And that's all that most people know, because it's all that the song tells about them. But a little bird came one morning and told me a great deal more. He told me how they came to live in the shoe, and how the children turned the Old Woman's hair gray with all the tricks they were up to - in fact, he told me about everything. The first thing you need to know is that there were twenty - three children. The eldest was called Anne and the second Benjy and the third Chalotte and the fourth Dan and the fifth Eliza and so on through all the letters of the alphabet, (except Q and X and Y, becaus the Old Woman could think of no names that began with those letters). The name of the youngest was Zedekiah, but he was always called Zed for short. And there was just one sad thing about Zed, and that was that he was lame, and could not run fast, because one leg was shorter than the other. Before they lived in the shoe, the Old Woman and the Old Woman's husband and the twenty three children all lived together in a little house near a wood. It was a cosy little house with a big garden. There were a few flowers near the house, but most of the garden was filled with vegetables which they used to take to market to sell, and they grew the best vegetables in all the countryside. There was a little stream running through the garden too, and there was a water cress bed. And they had hens that laid a lot of eggs, and a flock of geese, and three goats that gave milk for the children. And last but not least there is a donkey and a little cart, and on market day they put all the things they had to sell into the little cart, and the Old Woman and her husband drove off to the town at the other side of the wood. The Old Woman's husband worked all day in the garden, and so did the Old Woman when she was not working in the house, and the children worked just more or less except Zed, who worked with a will and whistled why he was working. In the evening they all sang songs round the fire in the winter and by the porch in the summer, while the Old Man played the banjo. They lived happily in this manner till one day when the Old Woman's husband came home from the market with bad news. She had not gone to market with her husband that day because she was spring-cleaning. As soon as she saw him she knew something was the matter, for he looked so sad. "What is the matter, my Old Man ?" she asked. I can see that you have sold all the eggs and vegetables. Can it be you have lost the donkey on the way home." "Worse than that?" answered the Old Man, "There is a war, and another king is coming with an army into our country, and all the men must go and fight, so I must leave you tomorrow morning." They were all very unhappy when they heard this and the Old Woman's husband went on, "but what makes me sadder stilll is that I don't know what will you do when I am not here to work iin the garden." The Old Woman said: "I will work hard in the garden, and I will keep things going until you come back, and the children will help me." And all the children from A to Z said they would work too. So the next morning at break of day the Old Woman's husband set off to join the army, and the Old Woman and her children tidied the house and began working in the garden. For a time all went well and all would have gone on well if the children had liked work. But I'm sorry to say that they hated work and were always up to their tricks. As the days went by they worked less and less, and Zed was the only one out of the whole twenty three of them who really helped his mother. One fine morning the Old Woman got up very early and harnessed the donkey, and filled the little cart with the first green peas and spring onions also the first of the new potatoes that she had packed in baskets the evening before. "Now my dears," she said to her children, "it is market day, and I must be off. Take the goats and geese out to pasture, and look after them well so that they don't stray. The windows are dirty after the rain so you can clean them while I am away, and scrub the kitchen floor and peel some potatoes for supper. There is some bread and some cold bacon in the cupboard for your dinner. And what ever you do don't play with the fire." When she had said this, she kissed her children and started off on her way to market. After she had turned the bend of the road and was out of sight, Anne said, "Who will take the goats and the geese out to pasture?" "I won't" said Benjy, "they always stray when I am looking for birds' nest." "I won't either,"said Charlotte, "I get so hot running after them." "And I'm sure I won't, said Dan, "it's far too dull a job." "And you won't catch me doing it!" said Eliza. "I won't and that's flat," said Frank. "Nor I," said Grace. "Nor I" said Harry. In fact, they all said they wouldn't till it came to Zed. "Well, if none of you wants to take them, I will," he said. I don't mind taking them at all. So he put some of the bread and cold bacon in his pocket and went to the shed where the three goats were kept and the geese, and away he went to the pasture. When Zed had gone, Anne said: "How silly of us to let Zed take the goats and geese out to the pasture, that's a nice easy work, and we shall have to scrub the floor and clean the windows, which is much harder." "Oh bother the floor and the windows, said Benjy, "There is plenty of time for that, we have the whole day. Lets play first." "Yes we will play first and leave the cleaning till after ," said Charlotte. "What would be better would be to leave the cleaning till Zed comes home to do it," said Dan. "Anyway we'll play now, " said the others. They played until dinner-time, and then they ate their bread and bacon. Then they went out playing until the sun was getting low and that it was towards evening, and they remembered that their mother soon would be coming home. "Then Anne said :"Oh dear ! Mother will soon be home and we've not done any of the cleaning.!" And Benjy said: "And we shall only have time to peel the potatoes." And Charlotte said : "I won't want to peel potatoes, it's to much trouble. And Dan said : I don't like boiled potatoes. There much nicer roasted in their jackets. " And then Eliza said : "But we can't roast them because there's no fire." And Frank said: "We can easily make one." And Grace said : "But mother told us not to play with fire!" "But we won't be playing with fire, stupid! It's working with the fire." Harry said. So it was decided thay would make a fire and roast the potatoes. Some of them brought a lot of dry chips and twigs and threw them in a big pile on the floor, and then some logs, because they only had wood fires, for there was no coal in those days. Another got the bellows, and blew up the bits of wood that had not quite gone out , so the red embers began to glow. They then threw on more chips and dry twigs and soon there was a good blaze. A few more twigs and chips and they had a roaring fire. "I think that fire's to big now," said one. "We must take one of those logs off and put it by the side. "Yes, that's what mother does," said another, and taking a pair of fire tongs he took a burning log off the fire. But the piece of wood was too heavy and it slipped from the tongs and onto the pile of dry chips and twigs that the younger children had thrown on the floor. Within seconds the wood was burning intensly. "Go quickly and get some water, said the children, dashing round in fright, they tumbled out the door collecting buckets and the watering can and dashed down to the stream. But it was too late the house was blazing away and the children could do nothing but watch as it burnt to the ground.
In the mean time Zed was returning from the pasture with the goats and the geese, and the Old Woman was very happy with her day at the market having sold all her produce,and smiling quite merrily to herself she drove the donkey home, telling him all about the day. I've bought a sack of flour for bread and some sausages to go with the lovely mash, not to mention corn for the hens and a nose gay for you." she clicked the reins and trotted happily along the lane. That was until she caught the smell of fire and smoke. "Dear me!" she thought what could that be, I do hope none of the children have been playing with fire.! She hurried the donkey as fast as he would go, but he couldn't go that fast. So she jumped down from the cart and ran ahead of him, round the bend of the road and and there, where her cottage should have been standing was a pile of ashes" Twenty two children stood crying in the garden, all except Zed who just arrived with the goats and geese. Mother and son stood together and cried. "What have you been doing, how is it that the house burnt down? So the children told her how they hadn't done what she had asked, but made a fire for roast potatoes and burnt the hous down. Then the Old Woman sat on a stone by the side of the stream and began to cry. "Oh my, what am I going to do now, without a house to live in?" She cried, "Oh what shall I do.. What shall I do?" As she was sitting by the stream still crying, she heard a voice near her say, "Old Woman, whats the matter?" She didn't take the handkerchief away from her eyes, but went on crying as she answered: "My children have burnt down the house whilst I was at the market and now we have nowhere to live. Isn't that matter enough?" "Matter enough! I should think so," was the reply. "But look up, Old Woman, and say "good-evening to me. We'll see if there isn't something that can be done."
AND THAT IS WHERE WE SHALL LEAVE IT FOR TONIGHT. TOMORROW YOU WILL HAVE TO TUNE IN TO SEE WHO THE STRANGE CREATURE IS WHO IS GOING TO HELP THE OLD WOMAN.. SLEEP TIGHT, HOPE THE FLEAS DON'T BITE XXX SELIGOR. XXX
THE OLD WOMAN WHO LIVED IN A SHOE
The Old Woman looked up. "Good evening to you, I'm sure, and it's very good of you to help me," she said, "but where are you?" For she saw nobody but her children, and she was sure that it wasn't one of them. "Whereare you looking?" said the voice again. "I'm not far away from your feet." When the Old Woman heard that she looked down at the stream, and there half in and half out of it, she saw a big green frog with golden eyes staring at her. "Now you want a new house I suppose," said the frog. "I do want it sadly," said the Old Woman, for we have nowhere to live, and I haven't got a penny to pay for the building of it." "Fiddle-de-dee!" said the frog. "What should I do with money? But I have seen how you work so hard and I don't like to think of you without a home. Besides, it would be sad for your husband to come home and find his house burnt down. Now take off your shoe." The Old Woman took off one of her shoes, wondering how this would help. But she didn't have to wonder long, he splashed some water over it, and as the water touched it the shoe creaked and squeaked, turned and stretched itself into a house! And a beautiful house it was too. The Old Woman could hardly believe her eyes, she shut them , blinked and opened them again and the house was still there. "Well go along indoors," said the frog. "There's the house, but I must give you this warning. You may use the water from the stream to water the garden as much as you like, but, you must never use it for washing, cooking, drinking, scrubbing or anything like that. That water MUST be drawn from the well. Goodbye! I hope you'll be happy in your new house." And before the Old Woman had time to thank him, he had turned round, jumped into the deep water and puff he was gone. To look at it from the outside it just looked like a larger version of her shoe, but once inside, well as you can see in the picture it was a home, that indeed was big enough for the Old Woman and her twenty three children, and something realy special. by the side of her bed was another shoe, just like the one she had given to the frog. Which was a good job really for the Old Woman only had the one pair. The Old Woman looked through out the house, and with a contented smile on her face she went outside and took the harness off the donkey and began unloading the cart of her shopping and empty crates. The children, very upset for what they had done, helped their mother to unload the cart and they did help the following day, and the day after that, and the old woman was pleased that the children had at last began to behave themselves. But sad to say it didn't last long and by the time the next market day arrived it was almost the same as before. The next market morning the Old Woman was up and gave the children their porridge and went out to harness the donkey, she had packed the cart as usual and Zed had filled the basket with fresh eggs and he put these next to the vegetables to be sold. Returning to the kitchen, she gathered up all the children and bade them sit down and listen: "Now my dears I must be off to the market. Be good while I am away. Take the goats and geese to the pasture, and there are a lot of weeds in the carrot patch, I want them removing before they choke the young carrots. And as it is a wash day, I want all the washing put in the wash tub to soak. BUT remember you must draw the water from the well. DON'T take any from the stream. Oh yes and there's some bread and cheese in the cupboard." And with that she was in the cart and away to the market. She had no sooner gone round the bend than the children went outside and sat on the grass. "I don't care, all thos bothersome weeds to do and I'm not going to do them." "Weeding makes my back sore.I'm not doing it either." The sun on my head makes me quite dizzy," said Charlotte. "I'm not doing any. "Oh come on." said Dan, "there isn't that much to weed." "I don't care," said Eliza, "I am not doing any. "Neither shall I." said Frank. "Nor will I," said Grace. "Nor I" said Harry. And so it was right down the line till it came to Zed. Well I suppose if you lot won't do the weeding, I'll do it. " So he picked up his little fork and limped over to the carrot bed. "Well that's no good, " said Anne, " with Zed doing the weeding we shall have to take the goats and geese out to pasture." They sat there for ages squabbling as to whom was going to take them to the field, till in the end they all decided to go and whilst two watched the goats and geese the others would play. "That is a great idea," said Charlotte, "but we will have to put the washing in to soak first." "This is so stupid bringing the water all the way from the well," said Dan. "Come on let's get it from the stream. "It will be ever so much quicker if we do." added Charlotte. "Why should Mother listen to what an old frog had to say anyway, " said Grace." "Come along then, the stream it is," said Harry. "It will be done in half the time," said Ida and Jim. And with that they all decided to go get the water from the stream. Now that the children had finally decided what they would do. Kate and Lawrence got the wash tub ready, Maggie and Ned, fetched the clothes, and the rest fetched the water from the stream, poured the water into the tub as well as some soap suds and after getting their bread and cheese from the cupboard they were away up to the pasture with the goats and the geese.
Thy were very pleased with themselves and apart from the one who was looking after the goats and the geese the others had a great time playing. That was until it was Ned's turn to look after the creatures, he went to sleep, and let some of the geese stray. And when it was Olive's turn, she was sat making a daisy chain and didn't realise thatmore of the geese had gone. Then it was Peter's turn and he went to find the geese and the goats that had vanished. Ruth was fed up, and she would't take her turn at all. So Sam and Theresa went to find the Geese. And Unwin, Vera and William went to find the goats. But one of the goats and two of the geese couldn't be found and by now the sun was beginning to set. They started on their way home and had just passed over the brow of the hill, when they could see their Mother and the donkey and cart coming back from market. She was very pleased, she had sold all of her produce and had bought new shirts for the boys and new frocks for the girls. How pleased she thought the children would be when they saw their new clothes. Glancing up the road she also espied the children coming from the pasture, so she decided to wait for them. "Well my dears," she said, when they came up, "have you had a busy day? Have you weeded the bed of carrots?" "Zed is doing the weeding," said Anne. "What, you left him to do the weeding all on his own. Why didn't you help him? I hope you soaked the washing and drew the water from the well as I said. "We did put the clothes to soak Mother, "said Benjy, But the well was too far away so we got the water from the stream." "Oh my goodness," cried the Old Woman, "You naughty, naughty, disobedient children! What did I tell you, what did I tell you she cried again. You knew dashed well that it was a fairy house, because the frog made it out of my shoe. Oh No , I wonder what misfortune we will see. Come on let's hurry home, if we have one left
And sure enough as they turned the bend in the road and came in sight of the house, they saw that it was standing indeed, but that water was pouring out of the doors and windows, and water was swishing and swirling all round it and the garden was completely flooded. And it was all because the children had not listened to the warning the frog had given their Mother. It seems that as soon as the children had left the house with the geese and the goats, the buckets which had been thrown on the ground suddenly jumped up as the sound of croak, croak, croak came from the stream, then the buckets went to the stream, filled themselves up with water and then ran to the house and emtied themselves in to the wash tub. This they did over and over again, you could hardly see them they were moving so fast. The water rose higher and higher, filling the cellar in the heel, then the kitchen cupboard al but the two top shelves. Out floated the bread, like little boats on a great sea. Poor Zed was trapped outside he had to climb up into the cherry tree to avoid being drowned. Poor Old Woman, once again she was unable to get into her home, she couldn't even save Zed up the tree. Sitting down on the nearest stone she began to cry and wail, "Oh dear, oh dear!" she climbed, "I don't know what to do with all my children. They won't work, and they won't do what I tell them. First they burn down our house, and then we had a lovely house to live in, and they did just what the frog told them not to do, and now it is flooded. What shall I do, Oh what shall I do? "What indeed!" said a voice at her feet, and looking down the Old Woman saw the frog. I told you not to take any of the stream water into the house. And they disobeyed you and me. I have a good mind to wash them all away." Said the frog, they deliberately disobeyed you, his eyes blazed and rolled round and round , and he looked very angry indeed. "I am very, very sorry, "said the Old Woman. "I'm afraid you are right, my children are very bad, they should not have taken water from the stream. But please, please don't wash them away. Forgive them this once. I will tell them never, never to do it again." The frog sat there thinking. "Well for your sake, I will let them off this time, " said the frog. "I heard you telling them not to draw water from the stream, it is their fault not yours. But they had better watch their P's and Q's now or they will really get into trouble sooner or later." The frog went silent and after a few minutes the Old Woman plucked up the courage to ask: "Please Mr Frog, what shall I do to drain the water from the house and the garden? "What shall you do?" said the frog, and then he laughed. "Ho! ho! ho! as if you could do anything. The water wouldn't go away if you worked for a year and a day. But you needn't be afraid, I will let you get into your house again." Then the the frog opened his mouth very wide, and the flood that was in the house and all over the garden began to trickle into it, and then it began pouring and then rushing and swishing and swirling like a huge whirlpool, and soon it had all swished and swirled, rushed and poured and in less than five minutes there was no more water left in the house or the garden. And now all the water had gone, and the Old Woman opened her mouth to say thank you to the frog, but before she had even got the "th," of "thankyou" out, the frog gave a great big leap into the deep water and was lost to her sight. She turned back towards the garden only to see the whole garden back to right and all her plants standing straight again.In fact everything was bigger, fatter and taller than they were when she went to the market that morning.
There was an old woman,
Who lived in a shoe;
She had so many children,
She didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth,
Without any bread;
She whipped them all soundly,
And sent them to bed.
Then she went into the shoe house, and there I must say things were very topsy-turvy, for all the clothes that had been put to soak, and the table and chairs and stools and bread from the cupboard had been floating about in the water, and when the water had poured out of the house it had left things scattered about on the floor anyhow. The table and chairs were overturned, one loaf of soppy bread was in the fire-place, and the other was at the foot of the staiirs. Only the broth that the Old Woman had cooked for supper was in it's place because it had been put on the top shelf of the cupboard where the water had not reached. All the children had followed their mother into the house, and stood near the door looking at all the mess the flood had left, and at all the wet soppy things lying about on the floor. It didn't look like a home one little bit where everything was so neat and tidy, as a rule. "You see what you have done, children," said theOld Woman, "And all this because you were lazy and did not do as you were told. Now, first you must put things straight and bring some dry wood to light the fire, while Zed and I unharness the donkey. And then I shall give you some broth for supper, but there is no bread to eat with it because it is all soppy and wet. And then I shall just whip you and send you to bed, and I hope you'll never be so naughty again." The children set about tidying, and then fetched some wood for the fire, but although the Old Woman made a big fire everything was very damp and cold. Then she gave them some broth without any bread and whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed, just as the song said. But of course she didn't whip Zed, because he hadn't been naughty. The next day she opened all the windows so as to let in plenty of sun and air, and by evening the house was dry and cosy again. And now you would think that the children mended their ways and worked properly, and did what their mother told them without grumbling. Not a bit of it! That is to say they worked well for three or four days, and then they began to get lazy and idle again and to grumble over their work, and by the time next market day came round they were as bad as ever. The Old Woman felt very worried on the morning of market day. "I really don't know what to do with all you children," she said "I must go to market to sell my peas and beans and lettuce and spring onions, but you always get into some trouble or other while I'm away, for you never will do as I tell you. We promise not to play with fire and and we promise not to get water from the stream into the house, so no harm will happen Mother," the children said. "Well," said the Old Woman, I hope it will be alright, anyways there is a lot of work to do , so if you stay busy all the time perhaps I shall find that no harm has happened while I have been away. Zed , you must take the goats and geese out to pasture, because you look after them well and do not let them stray. You others must mend all the clothes and dig the whole patch of garden which is by the stream where the cabbages were. There is bread and brawn in the cupboard for your dinner. Good-bye, be good children and work well. I shall be home by sunset,
The Old Woman went off to market, and Zed put some bread and brawn into his pocket and took the goats and geese out to the pature. The other children watched their mother till she went round the bend of the road, and then ssat down by the stream and began wondering what they should do next Ann was the first to speak. "What a horrid lot of work Mother gave us to do while she is at the market. "All that digging! just fancy!" said Benjy. "All that mending too!" said Charlotte. "It will take all day," said Dan. "And there'll be no time at all left for playing," said Eliza. "I hate digging," said Harry, "and I don't see why we should do it." "And I do hate mending," Said Ida, and I don't see why we should do that either." "And I can't see why we have to work at all," said Jim. "Well I for one shan't work," said Kate. "And I shan't work for another," said Laurence. "The rest of you can if you like." "Indeed I shan't," said Maggie. I wish we might never have any work to do." "So do I," said Ned. And they all said much the same. "Is that what you really wish?" asked a croaky voice at there feet, and looking down they saw the big green frog sitting on a stone in the stream. "Of course it is." Said the children. "Who wants to dig and mend and weed and wash up plates and saucepans? And who wants to chop wood and sweep the floor and water the garden? Why it would be much nicer if we never had any work to do all our lives." "Well, if thats what you really think, I will see what can be done" said the frog. "But are you quite sure that that is what you want?" The children nudged each other and whispered: "He's a fairy frog, and he is going to do our work for us." And then they said aloud: "Of course, that's what we want. We hate work, all of us except Zed. He's so stupid that he enjoys it. You can let him work as much as he like, but none of us want to." "In that case, it shall be as you wish," said the frog. "Get up all of you and stand in a row." The children scrambled to their feet and stood in a row laughing and whispering together: " Hooray! we will never have to work any more. Good old frog! He's going to do all our jobs for us." "Am I
though?" said the frog, and he dipped his head into the stream and
sucked up some of the water, and squirted it over the children as they
stood in a row, so that a few drops fell on each one of them. But no
sooner did the drops of water touch them than they all turned into
poplar trees. Yes, there they were, twenty two poplar trees standing in
a row at the edge of the stream. "Now you have your wish," said the frog, and he jumped into the deep water and swam up the stream.
When the Old Woman had sold all her vegetables, she bought a little pig and a sack of sharps to feed it on and put them in her cart and started home. "I must hurry up," she mumbled to herself. "How I hope my children have done what I told them, and not been up to any of their tricks. My hair has gone quite grey with worry, for I never know what they will be doing next. And she bade her donkey to go a little quicker and they jogged along the road home. When she got to the bend in the road, she, looked to see if the house was still as she left it. "Well that's one mercy, "she said, when she saw it. "They haven't burnt it down anyway. Then she looked at the garden, and she saw that all the vegetables were standing bright and green. "That is another mercy," she said. They haven't flooded the garden either. but hold on, what is that row of trees standing by the stream? I don't think I have ever seen them there before, maybe the children have been up to their tricks again." She drove the cart towards the gate and called to her children, but there was no answer. Then she got out of the cart and went to the house and called them, but still there was no answer. She searched the house from attic to cellar, but there was still no sign of the children. Then she noticed the pile of mending had not one stitch of mending put to it, and hastily she rushed out to the garden to see if the cabbage patch had been dug, but not a spadeful of earth had been moved. Just then she saw Zed coming home with the geese and the goats, and asked him if he had seen his brothers and sisters. "No, " replied Zed. "I went out with the goats and geese all day, I haven't seen them since I left this morning." "I fear they have been doing something that they shouldn't have." said the Old Woman, and went to the stream and called, "Mr Frog, Mr Frog, can you tell me where my children are?" But there was no answer, not even a croak. Then she looked up at the trees and said, "Oh poplar trees, poplar trees, can you tell me where my children are?" But the trees only shook their leaves sadly. "They might have gone to the woods to play," said the Old Woman. "They will surely be coming home presently for it will soon be dark. Come, we will unload the cart and put the animals in their shed. Then you can milk the goats, while I get supper ready. By that time, perhaps, they will have come home." So they did what that had to, theOld Woman had made the supper, but heedless to say, the children did not come home. They ate their supper and then went out again into the garden, calling the children's names one by one. But as there was still no reply the Old Woman said they must go to bed, and hope that the children would come home in the morning. They both went to bed, but Zed could not sleep, he had noticed that when they called the children by their name, there was something strange about the leaves of the poplar trees. He noticed that when Anne's name was called the first tree shook its leaves sadly and some of the leaves fell like tear-drops. The same with Benjy and then the rest in turn did the same as each tree heard his or her name being called. Zed could not help wondering what the reason of this must mean, But he didn't tell his mother, for fear she would be sadder still. So he waited till he heard the sound of his mother snoring and he crept out into the garden in his nightshirt. He ran over as best he could to the row of trees and asked if they were his brothers and sisters but they only shook their leaves. "If I could only find the frog," said Zed, "He might just tell me what to do," and he searched the the bank and the stream, but there was no frog anywhere. "Perhaps if I go up the stream to where the spring in the wood starts," was Zed's next thought. And so he set off up the stream. He ran along the bank and scrambled through the brambles and paid no attention to the nettles that stung his bare little legs. He couldn't go really fast because as you know, he was lame but he did go as fast as he could. When he came to the place where the spring started he saw to his surprise that it was brightly lit up by the light of a few thousand glow worms, who sat on the grass, leaves and flowers at its edge. Rows and rows of frogs were sitting on stones round the spring and in the water, and in the middle sat the big green frog himself with a golden crown on his head and his eyes blazing. As Zed came up all the frogs except the big green one in the middle turned round and gave a croak, and as they all croaked together the noise was so loud and so sudden that for a moment Zed was afraid and wanted to turn and run off home. But then he remembered why he had come and he stood were he was ready to ask his question. One very fat frog with a spiky reed in his hand came up to Zed and asked what business he had there. "No one comes to the Frog King's Council House unless he has a written order from the Frog King. Where is your written order?" said the fat frog sternly. "I do not have a written order," answered Zed. "But I want very much to speak to the Frog King." Then a lean, scraggy frog bustled up. "It's one of those children that belong to the Old Woman who lives in a shoe," he said. "They are naughty, idle, disobedient lot. Drive him away at once" At this the fat frog with the spiky reed shouted. "Guards! forward and charge!" and a whole row of frogs with spiky reeds in their hands began to rush towards Zed. But just before they reached him the Frog King said. "Stop, frogs of the charge!" In a very loud voice, and every one of them stopped jumping and stood stock-still, though they still pointed the spiky reeds at Zed. "Bring the boy here!" Ordered the Frog King. "If he wants to speak to me, he shall be allowed to speak." When the Frog King said this, two of the frogs of the Guard went up to Zed and each took hold of one of his arms and they brought him before the Frog King. Share
That's it my darlings another chapter of The Old Woman who lived in A Shoe I wonder what will happen to him, or if his brothers and sisters will be changed back into children again. I wonder what I would do? I wonder what you would do? Tune in tomorrow for Chapter Four. Will it be the last chapter. Somehow I think not, we shall have to wait and see. Seligor xxx
"What have you come here for?" asked the Frog King in an awful voice, when Zed was standing before him. "And what do you want to say to me?" "I came to ask you where my brothers and sisters are?" replied Zed. "None of them were there last night when my mother came home from market. But there were twenty-two poplar trees that had never been there before standing in a row by the stream." "Those are your brothers and sisters and there they shall stay." "Oh please, please don't let them stay there!" Begged Zed. "Turn them back into boys and girls again, as they were before." "No!" Answered the Frog King, and his voice was still more awful. "Why not? Oh please do!" said Zed. "Why not? Why not? They are so idle and lazy that they wished for to do no more work all their lives, and I granted them their wish. " Said the Frog King. "Well, I will do their work for them," said Zed. "That will not do. I cannot have idle children getting into mischief along the banks of my stream," said the Frog King. "And it's no use begging. You had better go home." "But perhaps they will be better now," went on Zed, for he could not bear to think of his brothers and sisters turned into trees for the rest of their lives, so he would not give up begging for them. "Please give them one more chance. Think how sad my mother is, and how sad my father will be when he gets home." The Frog King thought for a moment and then he said: "I shall not turn them back into little boys and girls at once, for they would only remember the fright they had for a few days, and then would drop back into their old ways again. But I will allow them to have their shapes at night. If I am pleased with them after three nights, they shall keep their own shapes in the day time as well, but if not they shall be washed away by the stream. All this, can only be done on three conditions." "What are the three conditions, " said Zed. "The first is while they have their own shapes, you will be turned into a frog and sit on a stone in the middle of the stream till they come back at dawn, every one of them, you will be a frog all your life. The second is that they must please me three nights running and not any three nights, when you happen not to be sleepy and may have a fancy to go into the garden. And the third is that you do not breathe a word to anybody until they are boys and girls again by day as well as by night." "Yes, yes," replied Zed. "I will be a frog and sit in the stream while they are boys and girls, and I will do it three nights running, and I will not breathe a word to any one about it until they have their proper shapes again by day as well as night. Only tell me quick what to do." "It's too late tonight," said the Frog King, "or rather it will be by the time you get home. But tomorrow night you must get out bed when your mother is asleep and take some water from the stream and pour it over the roots of each of the poplar trees. When you have watered the whole row of the trees you must say:
"Brothers and sisters, work with a will, And the Frog King says there is hope for you still. Come back at daybreak before the cocks crow, And be changed back to trees in the poplar row; Or else I shall never more look like Zed, But must stay in the stream like a frog instead."
"Now shall you remember that?" asked the Frog King. Zed said the verse several times, till he was sure he would remember it, then he made a low bow to the king and started back home. The sky was beginning to grow pink in the east by the time he reached their garden, and his mother was already stirring. "Where have you been?" She asked in surprise, as Zed came into the kitchen. "I have been out," he said, but he couldn't tell her where he had been for he had promised the Frog King that he wouldn't. "What you have been out at this hour with nothing on but your nightshirt! cried the Old Woman. "You bad boy, you'll catch your death of cold. Go and get dressed at once, and then come and eat your porridge. You are the last child I have left. Where are the others? oh where can they be?" "Still Zed could say nothing that would comfort her except, "Don't cry mother, maybe they will make it home soon." But all day she cried wondering where they were and all he could say to comfort her was , "Don't give up hope, Mother, and don't cry. Just let us hope they make it back yet." When evening came Zed's heart began to beat like a drum. It beat so loud that he thought that his mother would hear it. "Soon I must go to the stream and be turned into a cold, clammy frog," he thought. "I wonder if it will be terrible." Zed went to his bed directly after supper, but the Old Woman stayed up two hours longing, for she hoped that the children might return. However Zed eventually heard his mother going to to bed, he heard her bed creak as she got into it, and soon after he heard her snoring.. Then he crept down the stairs, opened the door quietly and without making any noise he was soon on his way down to the row of poplar trees by the stream. He said the verse over and over again to make sure he hadn't forgotten it and then filling the watering can he proceeded to water the roots of the poplar trees in turn. He then put down the can and stood up straight and said the verse aloud:
"Brothers and sisters, work with a will,
And the Frog King says there is hope for you still.
Come back at daybreak before the cocks crow,
And be changed back to trees in the poplar row;
Or else I shall never more look like Zed,
But must stay in the stream like a frog instead."
The very instance the last word of the verse was out of his mouth the change that the Frog King had promised took place. Instead of the poplar trees there were the children from Ann down to William, and at the same time the little boy that was by the watering can was gone but a scraggy, spotted frog, who after casting one look at the children, leapt into the stream and swam to the middle, clamoured on the stone, and sat there without moving his head or legs or even his little pointed toes. only from time to time did he blink his eyes. As soon as the children found that they were in their proper shapes they said in low whispering voices: We must work, we must work. Come on let us find out what we can do. Thank you dear Zed; we will come back, all of us before the cock crows. They went to the house, moving silently as mice and the girls took their needles and thread and began to mend all the clothes they ought to have done the day the Old Woman went to market, and the boys took their spades and dug the whole of the cabbage patch by the stream where the cabbages had been. They worked with a will, and the clothes were all mended and the digging finished by the time the sky began to get a gentle light grey in the east, as it does just before dawn. "Quick! quick!" they whispered, we must put our things away before the cock crows, or we shall be too late for Zed. The boys put away their tools in the shed, the girls put up their sewing things and folded the clothes into a nice pile and then they went down to the stream. The little scraggy frog was still sitting on the stone in the middle of the stream, still without moving his head or his legs or his tiny pointed toes. The children stood in a row by the edge of the water, and the stream rippled over the stones at their feet. The ripples danced and grew bigger and bigger each moment and as they passed the children they sang:
"Turn back into poplar trees, children, and stand here the livelong day, At night time take heed our warning, and mind you do not play."
Then a big ripple washed over the children's feet and in a twinkling of an eye they had all changed back into poplar trees again, and the scraggy little frog leapt to the bank with one big leap, and Zed stood once more by the watering can. Little Zed ran up to the house got into bed and covered himself up to get warm. The Old Woman was just waking up, and soon she called out: "Zed, Zed, it's time to get up. We have to do all the work that was not done when I went to market, and there is only the two of us to do it. In fact there is only myself, for you will have to take the goats and geese to pasture. I am sure I don't know how we shall manage." Zed was very tired but he got up and dressed. When the Old Woman came downstairs and saw the pile of clothes all meanded and neatly folded up, she couldn't believe her eyes, and when she went into the garden, and saw the cabbage patch well dug she was even more astonished. "What is all this!" she cried. "You couldn't have done all that work Zed. Do you know who did it?" Of course Zed couldn't tell her who did it, because of his promise to the Frog King. "Well I didn't do it " he said, then he took the goats and geese to pasture, and the Old Woman fed the pig. The donkey was happy grazing in the field, so she just gave him a few carrots. She tidied the house and worked in the garden until Zed return with the goats and the geese. They then put the animals in the shed, milked the goats, had supper and then to bed. Zed waited till the OldWoman had gone to sleep, then he crept out of the house just as he did before and ran down to the stream in his little night shirt. He watered the roots of all the poplar trees, said the verse that the Frog King had taught him and the trees became children again and Zed returned to his stone in the middle of the river as the scraggy little frog. Once more he sat there without stirring. But as soon as the children returned to their own shape again, they looked round them and saw any number of toys scattered about on the grass. There was a trumpet or two, pop-guns and wooden animals, even a Noah's Ark for the animals to go in. there were so many dolls and any amount of doll's cloths, and a dolls house. A rocking horse, marbles and even skipping ropes. The children looked at the toys, but they didn't touch them. They didn't evn look closely at them. "Come on and work - don't let us think of playing, they said in low, whispering voices. "We really must see what we can get done tonight." They noticed first that the kidney beans were growing high and so they went to the wood to cut some canes, which they then placed along the rows for the beans to climb up. They scrubbed the floors and cleaned all the windows, polished the knives and chopped wood and placed it close to the fireplace for there mother when she woke up in the morning. And then, when the sky was pale greyin the east they went back to the stream. "There is a scraggy little frog sitting on a stone in the stream, and that really is Zed." they whispered. "Come we must make haste or Zed will never be a boy again. The ripples past by the row of children as they stood on the bank of the stream and as the ripples grew they sang, but this time they sang.
"Oh turn into poplar trees, children! and stand until night-time is here, Then touch not the dainties that tempt you. Remember our warning. Beware!"
And the stream danced by in bigger and bigger ripples, until one touched the children's toes and they were trees again. Zed leapt onto dry land and once more he was stood by the watering can. Quickly did Zed run up the garden path, and quickly did he climb into bed and cover himself. He was so tired, for he had not slept a wink for three nights, and to tell the truth he could hardly keep his eyes open, and was sound asleep in no time. But it was so near to getting up time that he hardly had any rest at all. The Old Woman was soon up and she called to Zed to get up, but he was so sound asleep that he didn't hear her. Then the Old Woman came shook him, and he still didn't wake up, so she put a cold sponge on his face. She didn't mean to be unkind of course, she just didn't know that Zed had had no sleep. "Dearie me! What's the matter with the boy?" she said. "I've never known him sleep like thisin all his life. Wake up Zed! You and I have all the work to do alone today, and I am sure I don't know how were going to manage." Zed stretched and yawned and woke himself up. "Why are you sleeping so late Zed? asked his mother. "This will never do" If you turn lazy too, I'm sure I don't know what will become of us." Still Zed could say nothing because of his promise. But he got up and got dressed quickly and said, "I'll be down in a moment, Mother, and then I shall take the goats and geese to pasture. The Old Woman went downstairs, and again her surprise was great at seeing all the work she had planned for today was all done. "I surely don't know what to make of it Zed, the floor have been scrubbed, the windows cleaned. All the knives have been polished, everything is done! And will you look the firewood has been chopped. Perhaps I am dreaming, for I never knew anything like this before in all my born days." After breakfast Zed took the geese and goats out to the pasture, And the Old Woman tidied the hose and worked all day in the garden. Zed came home before sunset and the Old Woman gave him his supper, but he was so tired that he put his head on the table and upset his mug of milk. The Old Woman slapped him. "For goodness sake Zed, look what your doing!" she cried out "I won't allow such bad manner, haven't you had enough sleep at night time that you have to behave in this manner whilst your eating your supper?" Still Zed could not answer for he was still bound to his promise, so he finished his supper and dragged himself up to bed. Pinching himself to make sure that he didn't fall to sleep. Then as soon as his mother was snoring he was away down to the stream and his brothers and sisters. He poured the water on the roots of the tree, said the verse and was on the stone in the middle of the stream before the children had changed shape. "As the children changed their form from trees to children, they noticed all around them plates filled with the most lovely good things you can imagine. Cherries, strawberries, candy, Turkish delight, pear drops. Then ice-cream, jelly, cakes with sugar icing on them and all within a hands reach of them. "Whatever you do, don't look at the dainties -don't look at them, If we look we may want to taste and if we taste... well you know what the ripples said, come on let's go to the house and see what work there is to do. They went up to the house and saw that the Old Woman had put some washing in to soak, so they washed all the clothes and rinsed them and hung them up to dry. That work took most of the time, but as they worked with a will there was still about an hour to dawn, and they took their hoes and their rakes and they went to the vegetable beds and worked all night till the sky became pale in the east. "What will happen to us now?" they whispered. "Three nights have gone by and we have done our best to please the Frog King. But what about Zed, what will happen to him. If we are not turned back into trees he will have to stay a frog forever. Come we must go down to the stream. So down to the stream they went and stood in a row ad waited to see if the ripples would come. The little scraggy frog was still sitting on the stone blinking his eyes and waiting too. They waited two minutes, three minutes even four minutes without speaking or moving. And then they heard a trumpet blast in the distance. The sound came from up the stream, and became clearer and louder until a small but very fat frog came in sight, blowing a trumpet. After him came a
whole row of frogs of the Guard, each of them holding a spiky reed in his hand. And after them came the King Frog himself, with a crown on his head and his eyes blazing. The children were very much afraid when they saw the Frog King, but they did not move, save to hold hold each other's hand. The Frog King, however only looked at them and said in his awful voice: "REMEMBER and BEWARE!" Then he turned to Zed and said: "You have saved your brothers and sisters.You shall now run as well and as quickly as any of them. Jump to the shore, Blow, trumpeter!" The trumpeter blew a blast on his trumpet and Zed jumped to the shore, and no sooner did his feet touch the ground than he was just the same little Zed that he had always been, except for one thing - - - he was no longer lame. Oh how the children kissed Zed and how they thanked him! Then they looked at the water and they were just in time to hear the last trumpet blast and to see the last of the frogs as they swam up the stream, and they all called out, "Oh, Frog King, we will always remember you and we will never be lazy or idle again. Then at that moment the Old Woman came out of the house and saw all her children standing by the stream, and she ran down to kiss them. They hugged her and kissed her and told her all about how they had grumbled and not wanted to work, and how the frog had changed them into trees. Then they told her all that Zed had done for them and they promised never to be lazy or idle again but to work when there was work to be done and play when they had free time. And believe it or not children, The Old Woman's children kept their promise, every one of them. They worked and helped their mother till their father came back from the war, and when he did come back they still kept on working and their garden became more and more beautiful every year, and they all lived together in the shoe, and were the happiest family to be found in all the countryside.
Phew that was a very long story. and I hope you have all enjoyed it. Do get mummy or daddy to drop me an email, if you would like another nursery rhyme changed into story, I won't always be able to do it, and definitely not in one go as Seligor has to work hard to keep the Castle clean and tidy., and there is Diddily's Dream world to Decorate and Dodie's Dream world. But don't despair, it will always be finished eventually. Hugs Seligor xxx 2009
Comes Peter Cottontail
comes Peter Cottontail,
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
hoppity, Easter's on its way.
every girl and boy
full of Easter joy,
to make your Easter bright and gay.
got jelly beans for Tommy,
eggs for sister Sue,
an orchid for your Mommy
an Easter bonnet, too.
here comes Peter Cottontail,
down the bunny trail,
hoppity, Happy Easter day.
comes Peter Cottontail,
down the bunny trail,
at him stop, and listen to him say:
to do the things you should."
if you're extra good,
roll lots of Easter eggs your way.
wake up on Easter morning
you'll know that he was there
you find those choc'late bunnies
he's hiding ev'rywhere.
here comes Peter Cottontail, Hoppin'
down the bunny trail, Hippity
hoppity, Happy Easter day.
NOW THIS REALLY IS AFUNNY ALPHABET, AS WRITTEN BY THE WONDERFUL EDWARD LEAR 1812 - 1888
A was once an apple-pie, B was once a little bear, Pidy, Widy, Tidy, Pidy, Beary! Wary! Hairy! Beary! Nice insidy Apple Pie. Take Cary! Little Bear!
C was once a little cake, D was once a little doll, Caky, Baky, Maky, Caky, Dolly, Molly, Polly, Nolly, Taky Caky, Little Cake. Nursy Dolly, Little Doll!
E was once a little eel, F was once a little fish Eely, Wely, Peely, Eely, Fishy, Wishy, Squishy Fishy Twirly, Tweely Little Eel! In a Dishy Little Fish!
G was once a little goose, H was once a little hen, Goosy, Moosy, Boosey, Goosy, Henny, Chenny, Tenny, Henny, Waddle-woosy Little Goose! Eggsy-any Little Hen?
I was once a bottle of ink, J was once a jar of jam, Inky, Dinky, Thinky, Inky, Jammy, Mammy, Clammy, Jammy, Blacky Minky, Bottle of Ink! Sweety-Swammy, Jar of Jam!
K was once a little kite, L was once a litle lark, Kity, Whity, Flighty, Kity Larky! Marky! Harky! Larky! Out of Sighty - Little Kite. In the Parky, Little Lark!
M was once a little mouse, N was once a little needle, Mousey, Bousey, Sousy, Mousey, Needly, Tweedly, Threedly, Needly In a Housy Little Mouse! Wisky - wheedly Little Needle!
O was once a little owl, P was once a little pump, Owly, Prowly, Howly, Owly Pumpy, Slumpy, Flumpy Pumpy, Browny fowly, Little Owl! Dumpy, Thumpy Little Pump!
Q was once a little quail, R was once a little rose, Quaily, Faily, Daily, Quaily Rosy, Posy, Nosy, Rosy Stumpy-taily, Little Quail! Blows-y - grows-y Little Rose!
S was once a little shrimp T was once a little thrush, Shrimpy, Nimpy, Flimpy, Shrimpy Thrushy! Hushy! Bushy! Thrushy! Jumpy - jimpy Little Shrimp Flitty - Flushy - Little Thrush!
U was once a little urn, V was once a little vine Urny, Burny, Turny, Urny, Viny, Winy, Twiny, Viny Bubbly - burny, Little Urn. Twisty - twiny, Little Vine! W was once a whale, X was once a great king Xerxes, Whaly, Scaly, Shaly, Whaly Xerxy, Perxy, Turxy, Xerxy Tumbly-taily, Mighty Whale! Linxy Lurxy, Great King Xerxes!
Y was once a little yew, Z was once a piece of zinc Yewdy, Fewdy, Crudy, Yewdy Tinky, Winky, Blinky, Tinky Growdy, grewdy, Little Yew! Tinkly, Minkly, Piece of Zinc!
"Hi, Mary, wait for me!" Mary Carlton paused in her steady trot along the quiet country road as her chum's voice reached her ears and presently Beth Cooper made it up to her side. "Phew!" she gasped. "You're the limit these days, out of school before I can even get my books together!" Mary laughed. "Sorry, old thing! But there's such a lot to be done at home just now while Dad is ill. I want to give mum a hand with the house, and then I like to try to do some odd jobs for Dick too. You see, he's practically got the whole farm on his hands, and is doing more than two men's work, for you can reckon poor old Silas as a half!" Beth nodded. " I know, it must be an awful job for him. Let's hope your father will be better soon, but I say, Mary, did you notice anything unusual this morning at the House with the Twisty Stairs?" "No, what do you mean? Has the new tenant moved in?" "Yes, so I heard ! Won't it be funny having someone in that old place, it's been empty for years?" "It's so lonely, it's a weird place for anybody to choose to live in." "Oh, but there's a mystery about the woman!" Beth declared with relish "She is a lone female, hadn't you heard that? People are saying that she's a Russian, anyway, a foreigner of some sort, and she's has been having the whole place renovated by workmen from the town, she hasn't employed any local folk. Goodness knows what she's been having done but my brother says he saw a great big tank being carried in!" "Yes I think I heard Dick mention that as well," Mary said thoughtfully; "but I never even noticed she had moved in. I was in such a hurry on my way to school this morning. That old rascal Patches followed me again, and it was just by the bridge there that I finally managed to make the bad dog go home!" "Here we are now then!" Beth whispered excitedly, as they approached the river's brink. "I wonder if we will see any one?"
A narrow bridge of planks and row now spanned the River Tarn, at the spot still known as Hunter's Ford. In the old days the crossing here had been quite possible on horseback or on foot, but a gradual alteration in the river bed had increased the depth of the turbulent little stream to an extent that made this way of crossing impossible. On the opposite bank from the two girls, there stood a quaintly shaped old house, which had once been a toll house in connection with the ford; it was generally known as the House with the Twisty Stairs, on account of the odd way in which its stairs climbed up round the outside of the building instead of within its walls. Some said this had been because of floods, as the house was built right on the water side. Mary looked at it with half aggrieved interest as she crossed the bridge. A wind was blowing and the light structure swayed dizzily on its supporting ropes; but she did not notice that as she gazed at the fresh print curtains hanging in the twinkling windows of the house. In a small way she sort of resented the house being occupied. On her long walks to and fro to school she had built so many dreams about the ancient, friendly place, and while it stood empty it had seemed exclusively her own. She knew its funny face so well; the frowning brow, made by its humpy roof, the little winking eyes of the strangly shaped windows, the huge, disarming, friendly grin, which was the Twisty Stairs running all up the front of it. "Why did anyone want to come and live here?" she burst out with sudden vehemence, but Beth took no notice, she clutched Mary's arm. "Shut up!" she hissed, look, look she's coming out!" The front door had indeed opened, the crooked door that Mary loved, and someone came swiftly out of it. The lady was very small, the owner of the Twisted House, small boned and neat, with raven black hair and large dark eyes set in a pale oval face. She wasn't exactly old by her looks, more tired really." Mary thought. "Very tired really with fine lines under her eyes and round her lips. "Good afternoon! she cried brightly, and her voice like her quick movements did seem very strange and yes, foreign sounding. "I think I saw you this morning, is it not?" she asked Mary. "And pardon but did you not have a leetle white dog?" "Yes," Mary replied curtly. "Ah, but I am glad that we do meet again! You will tell me where you got this dog and bring him to see me, if you please?" Mary frowned angrily. It did not occur to her that a foreigner might have some difficulty in expressing herself in English, which made Mary answer much more curtly than she should have done as she misunderstood the whole request. "Patches is not for sale." She snapped and turned away. A surprise voice followed her, "Then him I do not want to buy!" But at that same moment a pandemonium of barking emerged from the open door of the house, and a small black dog, limping rather badly came hobbling down the steps. "Ah, you bad one!" the lady cried, "and what is all that noise about? Hush Toto, Lurcher, Jack - !" The girls left her shooing the little creatures up the steps again and Mary was still muttering as she strode along at a pace her friend could hardly keep up with. "The cheek of the woman asking to see my Patches!" she growled. "If you ask me there's something jolly queer about her. The house seemed to be full of dogs, and did you see that poor lame one that came out?" "Well I'm sure she isn't cruel to them, if thats what you mean Mary," Beth said stoutly. "It seemed very fond of her. And oh Mary, I do think she is a most romantic person! "Well I don't" Mary snapped crossly. "Why does she want to go and plant herself down in a place more than a mile out of the village, in one direction, and two miles from the nearest house - that's our farm - in the other? I don't like her, and I'll take jolly good care to keep Patches well away from that place." "I think she's lovely," Beth murmered dreamily, " and I'm sure she's a Russian princess in exile - that's just what she looks like." Mary grunted. She wasn't going to let herself like the person who had stolen her dream house.
Patches came to meet her some half mile from home, the enthusiasm of his threshing tail causing his whole ungainly body to wriggle with delight. He was a cross between a terrier and some far larger breed, and though he was no longer very young he behaved at times with the most puppyish absurdity. It was three years now since he had wandered into the Carltons' farm, a pathetic, drooping, weary little figure; obviously exhausted and starving, as if he had run many, many miles. They had advertised, but never found an owner for him, and he had attached himself firmly as Mary's pet. She had called him Patches because of the strangely regular black markings on his back; but at his first washing they had amazingly disappeared, leaving him with a rather too long and very straggly white coat. Mary had felt sure this had been a disguise used by some wretched dog stealers, and had even suggested that perhaps he might be very valuable, but her brother Dick had laughed at this and said he was the most hopeless mongrel that he'd ever set eyes upon. "But who cares what you are, old thing!" said Mary, stooping to fondle his shaggy head. " "You're just my dearest darling and that Russian woman had better leave you well alone!" Dick's voice hailed her as she was passing the Long Paddock, and looking very dusty and tired he came to the gate. "Hello, Mary! I've been having another tussle with Demon, but I don't think I shall ever properly break that colt." "He's a beauty to look at, anyway! " said Mary admiringly, gazing across the field to where a handsome, jet black young horse stood pawing the ground in its farthest corner. "He's all that and a beauty in spirits too! But he's going to be a sad loss to the farm if I can't break him to the saddle even. It's a nuisance having this extra job just now, as I've got about enough on my hands already." "Poor Dick, I know you have! Couldn't I take a shot at him?" He laughed. "No my dear, I definitely forbid it! You're a good little horsewoman, but the Demon's different stuff to anything you've tackled! No, I'll just need to stick at him every day until he gives in." "How's Dad?" " The Doc said he was a lot better today," Dick answered cheerfully, as they entered the house together, with Patches at their heels "But he's to stay in bed for a while yet, so we'll just have to carry on, old lady!" Mary nodded understandingly.
The next week seemed to pass very slowly, but every day saw an improvement in Mr Carlton's health, and every day Mary hurried home, and some times stood watching Dick engaged in his daily struggle with the Demon colt. She deliberately tried now to avoid Beth and the other girls, because their conversation was so full of the "Russian princess" that she couldn't help being drawn into discussion of her. Despite herself Mary couldn't help feeling a strange fascination of the foreign woman's personality, but steadfastly she set out to resist it. Nearly aways, when she passed the House with the Twisty stairs, that small, dark figure was standing in the doorway or window - as if she was looking out for her. She always smiled and seemed to want to speak, but Mary walked on with stonily averted face. She knew she was behaving childishly and rudely, but something kept her from giving way; and she insisted all the more firmly because her curiosity was so aroused by the muffled barking and other strange sounds which often drifted from her house of dreams. She wanted to give way and speak, but with a fierce scorn would not let herself And she had taken the most particular care that Patches did not follow her to school again. And then came that dreadful Saturday when Patches vanished. he had trotted off by himself whenever she let him out that morning, but he often did that, and had never failed to return for his midday meal. But today dinner time came and went without a sign of a familiar white shape trotting composedly across the yard, or barking commandingly on the doorstep.
Mary went out and called him in every direction round the farm, but it was impossible to go any farther in her search just then, as this afternoon her father was coming downstairs for the first time and there were many things for her to do about the house. But the joy of the day was quite spoilt for her, and it was with a heavy heart and lagging step that Mary returned indoors. The hours past and still he didn't return. Mr Carlton had gone back to bed again, and mary and her mother sat down to tea alone. Dick had gone up to the far spinney that day to fell some trees, and warned them that he might be late in getting home. It was very lonely in the ebig old fashioned kitchen when Mrs Carlton had gone upstairs to sit with her husband. Old Silas, the general handyman, had looked down the lane. The young master was still "up along," he said, but the grey mare had cast a shoe, and so he had sent him down to the smithy before they closed. He had, however, been too late with it. Mary shivered and crouched closer to the fire. The wind had risen and was howling with an eerie sound round the wide chimneys. It was getting very dark too. What could Dick be doing? And Patches - Patches had never been out at night before. With a hasty movement she rose to her feet, and callling out that she was going to meet Dick, she seized her coat and slipped out the door. It was a wilder night than she had thought, and the wind played blustering tricks around her small, bent form as she struggled up the hill towards the spinney. Sometimes she called and whistled the missing dog, but all to no avail, while all the time the darkening clouds were hastening nights approach. Presently she stumbled in among the trees, and called Dick's name until his muffled voice came back to her. "That you Mary? I'm here." "Where?" Stumbling again she almost tripped, and heard half-laughing tones say with a catch of breath, "Here! You are almost on top of me!" With sudden horror she realised that he was lying at her feet, and falling on her knees she made out his dim shape pinned beneath the spreading branches of a tree. "Oh Dick !" "It's all right little one!" he declared hastily. "I'm not hurt - at least not much more than a broken leg, anyway, I don't think but the beastly thing has got me fixed so that I can't move an inch." "I can't budge it either," Mary answered despairingly, straining with all her might. Dick, how did it happen?" "The darned thing fell in the wrong direction and before I was ready for it I just didn't spring back in time.. Do you think you could get somebody?" "Oh Dick, there's only old Silas within miles and he'd never be strong enough to move you himself. We must get a doctor" "Well get Silas to ride into the village..oh you can't the mare has cast a shoe." His voice was fading and more unsteady, and Mary knew that he must be in considerable pain and that she must get help. In the darkness her firm jaw set squarely and determinedly. "No worries I will go and get the doctor, we'll knock old Silas up then, and he can get up here to you , and the two of them will have you home in a jiffy." "But how ?" "Don't you mind how, I wont be long, you just lie quiet and wait." Then not waiting for further questions she sped swiftly away. Demon! he was their only hope. Surely the colt must be more manageable by now. She had seen Dick riding him around the field, and he was making him wear saddle and bridle for some time every day before his lesson. She knew he had them on now, ready for the rider who could not come. Well she would have to ride him. Anyway he would be swift, and it was her only way of getting to the doctor save on foot. Breathing quickly she arrived in the paddock and approached the shadowy shape of the black colt. To her surprise he came towards her with a whinnying sound. She did not realise that he was cold and hungry and waiting his warm stable and a meal. With a swift running spring Mary leapt into the saddle, and then felt almost as surprised as demon did to find that she was there! After a moment's astonished pause the animal broke into a wild gallop, and as she guided him out onto the road Mary wondered desperately if she would ever manage to kep her seet. Presently, however, she ceased to think of anything, as she clung in the most undignified attitude around the horse's neck. He continued to buck and rear with a sickening violence which seemed to turn her outside in, while she hung on desperately, teeth set, and fingers clutching on a handful of his mane. But at last he tired of that and fell into a steady, headlong canter down the long, straight road to the village. Gradually she regained her breath, and though she knew the animal was quite outside her control it began to look as if she might yet reach her destination in safety. A light loomed up ahead. Her TwistyHouse. She must be just on the bridge; let's hope the Demon would aim straight for it' It was so dark now that Mary could hardly see the entrance to the narrow bridge herself, but the roaring surge of the river was in her ears, and with some strange menace in its usually level note the cry of the Tarn rose high above the beat of Demon's hoofs. Suddenly a flood of light streamed out, as the door of the House with the Twisty Stairs was flung open. A high voice shouted something which she couldn't hear; and then a streak of white flashed up before her astonished eyes, and a heavy weight was clinging tothe rein by Demon's head. "Patches!" Mary gasped, "Patches!" Their headlong pace had been considerably slowed; but already the horse's front hoofs were on the planking of the bridge, when Mary shut her eyes in the dizzy certainty that now she was 'seeing things.' In the light from the house she seemed to glimpse a small figure standing in a half crouching attitude on the rope framework above the bridge. She must be seeing things! But there was no doubting the reality of the soft thud of stockinged feet behind her back, as the shadowy figure landed cleanly above the black colts tail. Nor was there anything dreamlike in the two firm hands which reached forward and took control, dragging the terrified colt on to his haunches and bringing him to a slithering halt within a yard. "Parbleu! " said the cool voice of the "Russian princess." in her ear. "But that was a close shave! Back, my beauty, come!" Sweating and shivering in every limb, the Demon allowed himself to be led back from the bridge. Exhausted and with hanging head, he stood very quiet and docile now, while the foreigner slipped lightly to the ground, and Mary half fell, half tumbled after her. "Why did you stop me?" she demanded breathlessly. "I am going for the doctor. "This storm has done something to the river dam, the water she is running very fast, and it has taken half the bridge with it, we cannot cross." Mary caught her breath with a gasp. It was a practically certain and terrible death which from which she had been saved. Another moment and the Demon and Mary would have plunged over the broken bridge and into the roaring flood beneath. Then suddenly a wet nose was thrust into her hand, and she looked down to see Patches ungainly body lolloping contentedly across her feet. With a final burst of indignation she turned again to face the "princess." "You had Patches then! You are trying to steal him from me!" "But no my dear! Cheeko and I are old friends, an when he wandered to my house today in the joy of meeting him again I fear that we did both lose count of time. but now I shall put your horse in my shed, an' then I ave a telephone to summon the doctor." "Not until she was inside the House with the Twisty Stairs, and seated by a fire surrounded with friendly dogs, did Mary realise just how tired she was. It was a relief to feel that everything was being gently but firmly taken from her hands, and wonderfully comforting when her dark haired hostess came back to tell her that the doctor was driving round by the road in his car, and would pick them up at the cross-roads. "You are coming too, then?" she questioned in surprise. "Yes indeed if you will allow? It is surely the duty of a neighbour that she help, and I want very much to be a real neighbour and friend. Now won't you tell me what is wrong?" In an incoherent rush Mary blurted out the story of Dick's plight, and the understanding sympathy brought a lump into her throat. Presently she was on the road again, with Gerda (her new friend had asked quite simply to be called that) by her side, and Patches trotting at their heels. The ride home in the doctor's car, the rousing of old Silas, and carrying Dick down - while Gerda helped her mother prepare his bed for him - all passed in a daze. Then at length the welcome verdict came that but for a broken leg and some bruises Dick was quite unharmed, and would soon be his usual self again. Mary gave a deep sigh of relief as she looked at the slight, dainty figure who had brought her this good news and who with a gesture of weariness now sank into the opposite chair. "Tell me, " she said with abrupt earnestness, "Are you a real Russian Princess?" Gerda smiled, in the firelight she looked strangely sad , as she shook her head. "Neither Russian or a Princess, my child! I am French, and until lately a rope dancer and trick rider in a circus." "Oh my, then that is how you saved me so wonderfully then." She shrugged. "Ah well, I don't suppose a real princess would have been able to stand where I did, or known how to land upon a moving horse. But it was easy when the good Cheeko had slowed him down for me." And she stirred Patches' slumbering body with her foot. "Why do you call him that? oh please explain." Mary added. Gerda smiled down at the sleeping dog. "He was my great friend among the dogs of a travelling circus in which I once work. Le pauvre pup, his master was not nice to him, as he was growing to big to do his tricks. I trained him to come on in my act, an catching the reins of a running horse is one thing which he did - and which he show he not forgot when I give the old command again today. But he must have grown tired of the blows, for one day he managed to run away. We were pitched I think, about twenty miles from here, but then he must be that he come to you?" Mary nodded. "He was pretty starving, poor thing." Ah, well, those days are over now for both of us! An uncle who go abroad, that I have never seen, he die and leave me his money. So then I do what I always wanted; I take a house, a quiet house far from the crowds of which I tire, and fill it with animals who, like me, want a rest from circus life. The little Beppo who has hurt his leg, old Jack, an all the rest of them. Why I even have a tank with two very dear sea lions in it! They were old to work, but not to old for'appiness, an you should see them follow me around like lambs. But always I have thought of the dear Cheeko, and even without his spots I think I recognise him that day he follow you. That is why I speak. Mary's eyes were suddenly misty as she stretched out her hand. "I was a beast to you," she said quietly. "Can you forgive me?" "But yes, I 'av forgotten already. You thought I was going to steal him away from you, but all I wanted to know is if he was 'appy. And you will both come and visit me sometimes perhaps?" "You bet we will! " said Mary eagerly, and then she added in a softer tone, "Can you tell me why you chose that house?" "I looked at it," aid Gerda, with a spreading gesture of her hands, "and it looked at me and smiled! La, it was done" "Then you do understand!" Mary sighed contentedly. she stooped and fondled Patches' head. "I am glad," she whispered under her breath; "I'm glad you've come to live there - in my House with the Twisty Stairs." Written by Marjorie Taylor The Children's Golden Treasure Book for 1937.