More Wishing-Chair Stories (6 page)

BOOK: More Wishing-Chair Stories
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“I’m sorry, but we couldn’t have it,” said Chinky. “Stealing is wrong.”

“Not in Scally-Wag Land,” said the goblin, his cunning eyes twinkling.

“It’s wrong anywhere,” said Mollie firmly. “Come on, Chinky. We’ll put this loaf back into the cart.”

They set off to the cart—but do you know, just as they were putting the loaf back, that horrid little goblin began to shout for all he was worth. “Baker, Baker! Thieves are at your cart! Look out!”

The baker came hurrying out. He caught hold of Chinky and began to shake him. “You bad Scally-Wag!” he cried.

“I’m not a Scally-Wag! I was just putting back a loaf that the goblin stole!” cried Chinky.

“You are a fibber!” said the baker, and he shook Chinky again until his teeth rattled. Mollie ran to the rescue. She tried to catch hold of the baker’s arm— but he pushed her and sent her flying. She caught at the little cart to try and save herself—and it went over! All the loaves rolled out into the road.

The baker gave a loud yell and ran to his cart. The watching goblin shrieked with delight. Mollie and Chinky ran off as fast as they could, crying, “We’re so sorry! But it was your own fault for not believing us!”

They ran until they came to a field of buttercups. They squeezed through a gap in the hedge, and sat down to get their breath.

“I’m thirsty as well as hungry now,” said Mollie.

“Where can we get a drink? If we went and asked for a drink of water surely no Scally-Wag would want to steal that for us! Look, there’s a cottage over there, Chinky. Let’s go and ask.”

They went to the cottage, hot and thirsty and tired. A brownie woman came to the door. She was a cross-looking creature.

“I thought you were the milkman,” she said.

“No, he’s just down the road there,” said Chinky, pointing. “Please, Mam, may we have a drink of water.”

“I’ll get you a drink of milk!” said the woman, and to Chinky’s surprise she darted down the road to the milkman’s little hand-cart, and turned on the tap of the churn. The milk ran out of the tap on to the road.

“Come on!” said the woman. “Drink this!”

“But we can’t do that!” cried Mollie in surprise and disgust. “That’s stealing. Oh, do turn off the tap. The milk is all going to waste!”

The milkman could be heard coming down someone’s path, whistling. The woman ran back to her house, leaving the tap turned on. The milkman heard his milk running to waste and ran to turn off the tap, shouting angrily, “Who did this? Wait till I catch them!”

“They did it, those children did it! I saw them!” cried the brownie woman from her door. The milkman saw Chinky and Mollie standing nearby and made a dart at them. But this time they got away before they were caught. They ran down the lane and darted inside a little dark shed to hide.

“It’s too bad,” said Mollie. “These Scally-Wags keep doing horrid things and blaming them on to us. I do hate them!”

“Sh!” said Chinky. “There’s the milkman coming after us. Cover yourself in this old sack, Mollie, and I’ll do the same.”

They lay down in a corner, covered with the sacks. The milkman looked into the shed and ran on. Mollie sat up. She looked at Chinky and laughed.

“You do look dirty and hot and untidy,” she said.

“So do you,” said Chinky. “In fact, we look like proper little Scally-Wags. They all look dirty and untidy too! Now, where shall we go next! If only we could find Peter!”

They went out of the shed. The hot sun shone down on them. They felt thirstier than ever. They saw a little stream running nearby, looking cool and clear.

“What about getting a drink from that?” said Mollie.

“Well, I don’t like drinking from streams,” Chinky said. “But really, I’m dreadfully thirsty! Let’s try it. But don’t drink too much, Mollie.”

The two of them knelt down by the stream, took water into their cupped hands and drank. Ooooh! It was so cold and delicious. Just as they finished, and were feeling much better, they heard a voice behind them.

“That will be twopence each, please. You have drunk from my stream.”

They turned and saw a wizard behind them, in a tall, pointed hat, and cloak embroidered with stars.

“We haven’t any money,” said Chinky.

“Then you had better come with me and work for me for one day to pay for the drinks you have had,” said the wizard. He tried to grab hold of Mollie—but quick as thought Chinky lifted his fist and brought it down on the wizard’s pointed hat. It was crushed right down over his long nose, and he couldn’t see a thing!

Once more Mollie and Chinky ran. “Oh dear,” panted Mollie, “we really are behaving just like Scally-Wags, Chinky—but we can’t seem to help it!”

“Look! There’s the river again!” said Chinky in delight. “And there are our two geese. Let’s get on their backs, Mollie, and go away from this land. I’m sure Peter isn’t here. No one seems to have seen him. I’m tired of being here.”

“All right,” said Mollie. They ran down the river-bank and called to the geese.

“Come here! We want to fly farther on!”

And then, to their great surprise, a witch in a green shawl stood up on the bank and cried, “Hie! Leave my geese alone!”

“They are not yours, they are ours!” yelled Chinky in anger. He cut the string as the geese came swimming to the bank. The witch tried to grab the two big birds — and in a fright they spread their big wings, flew up into the air and away! Mollie and Chinky watched them in the greatest dismay. Their way of escape had gone!

Chinky was furious with the witch. Before Mollie could stop him he gave her a push, and she went flying into the water. Splash!

“Chinky! You mustn’t keep pushing people into the water!” cried Mollie, turning to run away again — but this time it was too late. The witch shouted a few magic words as she made her way out of the river — and lo and behold, Chinky and Mollie found that they could not move a step!

“So you thought you could push me into the river and run away, did you?” said the witch. “Well, you were mistaken! I shall now take you before our King—and no doubt he will see that you are well punished. March!”

The two found that they could walk—but only where the witch commanded. Very miserable indeed they marched down a long, long road, the witch behind them, and at last came to a small palace. Up the steps they went, and the witch called to the guard there.

“Two prisoners for the King! Make way!”

The guards cried, “Advance!” and the three of them, Mollie, Chinky, and the witch, walked down a great hall. Sitting on a throne at the end, raised high, was the King, wearing a golden crown and a red cloak.

And oh, whatever do you think! Mollie and Chinky could hardly believe their eyes—for the King was no other than Peter—yes, Peter himself! He was still wearing his golden cardboard crown and the red rug for a cloak—and his throne was the wishing-chair. Its wings had disappeared. It looked just like an ordinary chair.

Peter stared at Mollie and Chinky in amazement—and they stared at him. Mollie was just going to cry, “Peter! Oh, Peter!” when Peter winked at her, and Chinky gave her a nudge. She was not to give his secret away!

The Prince's Spells

FOR a minute or two Peter, Mollie, and Chinky gazed at one another and said nothing. Then the witch spoke.

“Your Majesty, here are two prisoners for you. They pushed me into the river after they had tried to steal my geese.”

“Leave them with me,” said Peter in a solemn voice. “I will punish them, witch.”

The witch bowed and went out backwards. Mollie wanted to giggle but she didn’t dare to. Nobody said a word until the big door closed.

Then Peter leapt down from the chair and flung his arms round Mollie and Chinky. They hugged one another in delight.

“Peter, Peter! Tell us how it is you are King here!” said Mollie.

“Well, it is quite simple,” said Peter. “The chair flew off with me, as you know. It flew for some time, and then began to go downwards. It landed on the steps of this palace, which had been empty for years.”

“As soon as the Scally-Wags saw me, all dressed up in my crown and cloak, sitting on the flying chair, they thought I must be some wonderful magic king come from a far-off land to live here. So they bowed down before me, and called me King. I didn’t know what to do because the wishing-chair’s wings disappeared, of course, so I couldn’t escape. I just thought I’d better pretend to be a King, and wait for you to come along— for I guessed you and Mollie would find some way of getting to me! Now, tell me your adventures!”

How Peter laughed when he heard what a lot of people Chinky had pushed into the water! “You really are a bit of a Scally-Wag yourself, Chinky,” he said. “That’s the sort of thing the Scally-Wags love to do!”

“Peter, how can we all escape?” asked Mollie. “If only the wishing-chair would grow its wings again! But it never does when we really want it to!”

“What will Mother say if we stay away too long?” said Peter, looking worried.

“Well, a day here is only an hour in your land,” said Chinky. “So don’t worry. Even if we have to be here for two or three days it won’t matter, because it will only be two or three hours really. Your mother won’t worry if you are only away for a few hours.”

“And by that time perhaps the chair will have grown its wings again,” said Mollie, cheering up.

“Look here,” said Chinky, “I think you ought to make up some sort of punishment for us, Peter, or the witch will think there is something funny about you. Make us scrub the floor, or something. Anything will do.”

“But do give us something to eat,” said Mollie. “We really are very hungry.”

Peter clapped his hands. The door swung open and two soldiers appeared. They saluted and clicked their heels together.

“Bring me a tray of chocolate cakes, some apples, and some sardine sandwiches,” commanded Peter. “And some lemonade, too. Oh, and bring two pails of hot water and two scrubbing-brushes. I am going to make my two prisoners scrub the floor.”

The guards saluted and went out. In a few minutes two Scally-Wags, dressed in footmen’s uniform, came in with the tray of food. How good it looked! Behind them followed another Scally-Wag carrying two pails of steaming hot water, two scrubbing-brushes, and some soap.

“Your Majesty, is it safe for you to be alone with two prisoners as fierce as these?” asked one of the Scally-Wags.

“Dear me, yes,” said Peter. “I would turn them both into black-beetles if they so much as frowned at me!”

The Scally-Wags bowed and went out. Mollie and Chinky giggled. “Do you like playing at being a King, Peter?” asked Mollie.

“I’m not playing at it, I am a King!” said Peter. “Come and help yourselves to food, you two. I’ll have some too. It looks good.”

It was good! But in the middle of the meal there came a loud knock at the door. Mollie and Chinky flung down their sandwiches in a hurry, caught up scrubbing-brushes and went down on their hands and knees! They pretended to be hard at work scrubbing as three Scally-Wags entered with a message.

“Your Majesty!” they said, bowing low till their foreheads bumped against the floor. “His Highness, the Prince of Goodness Knows Where, is coming to see you tomorrow, to exchange magic spells. He will be here at eleven o’clock.”

“Oh,” said Peter. “Thanks very much.”

The three Scally-Wags looked angrily at Mollie and Chinky scrubbing the floor, and said, “Shall we beat these prisoners for you, Your Majesty? We hear that they have pushed three people into the river, and smashed down the old wizard’s hat on to his nose, and . . .”

“That’s enough,” said Peter in a fierce voice. “I punish my prisoners myself. Any interference from you, and you will scrub my floor too!”

“Pardon, pardon, Your Majesty!” cried the three Scally-Wags, and they backed away so fast that they fell over one another and rolled down the steps. The two children and Chinky laughed till their sides ached.

“Oh, Peter, you do make a good King!” said Mollie. “I do wish I could be a queen!”

“I say! What about this Prince of Goodness Knows Where,” said Chinky. “If he is really coming to exchange magic spells with you, Peter, you will find things rather difficult. Because, you see, you can’t do any spells at all.”

The three stared at one another. Then Peter had an idea.

“Look here, Chinky, couldn’t you change places with me tomorrow, and do spells instead of me?” he asked. “I’ll say that I will receive the Prince alone— so that none of the Scally-Wags will know it’s you and not me.”

“Good idea!” cried Chinky at once. “I don’t know anything about the Prince, but perhaps I can manage to satisfy him. That’s just what we’ll do— change places!”

That night Mollie and Chinky slept in the kitchen of the palace. They were quite comfortable on a big sofa there, though the two kitchen cats would keep on lying down on top of them. They were nice, warm cats, but very fat and heavy. Peter slept on a golden bed in a big bedroom—but he said he would much rather have slept with Molly and Chinky on the kitchen sofa with the cats. It was lonely in the golden bed.

Peter told the soldiers that he meant to keep the two prisoners, Mollie and Chinky, as personal servants, and therefore they were to bring him in his breakfast. You may be sure that the two of them piled the trays up well with food of all kinds when they took the breakfast in! They laid it on a table, and then they all ate a good meal, though Mollie and Chinky had to eat theirs standing behind Peter’s chair, in case someone came in suddenly.

As the morning went on and the time came nearer for the Prince to come, the three began to feel rather excited. Peter gave orders that he was to be alone with the Prince.

“See that no one comes into the room whilst His Highness is here,” he said to the soldiers. They saluted and went out smartly. Peter said it was fun to have two soldiers obeying him like that.

“Now here’s the crown, Chinky,” he said, handing him the golden cardboard crown. “And here’s the red rug for a cloak. Get on to the wishing-chair throne. I guess the old wishing-chair never thought it was going to be used as a throne!”

Chinky put on the crown and sat down on the chair, pulling his cloak round him. Mollie and Peter stood behind him as if they were servants. Eleven o’clock struck.

BOOK: More Wishing-Chair Stories
13.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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