Palace of fairy queen Celandine
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 ....one winter morn when a white mantle covered the land and the milk froze in the dairy-maid's pail there came a loud persistent knocking at the door. The palace guard was not at all pleased to be woken at such an unearthly hour and normally would have ignored the disturbance until such time as  the effects of last night's meadowsweet wine had mellowed. Today however the frantic persistence of the banging suggested that further rest was an unlikely event and so, with some reluctance, he eased the bolts on the huge oak door and squinted out over the snow covered valley. 

"Vetch ! What the hemp are you doing here at such an hour?"

 Vetch shrugged but that is what Vetch always did  -shrug. Shrugging was Vetch's way of not answering questions. When he was young his teachers had beaten him for shrugging saying it was both slovenly and ill-mannered but Vetch  shrugged at them anyway. A youthful Vetch had been  beaten a lot  perhaps that is why he had  found solace in books.

And now Vetch was no longer young, his frail blue-veined hand grasped the twisted fruitwood staff and he made  wild gestures with it through the frosted air. The guard nervously lowered his pike, placed the blade  between himself and Vetch and eyed the physician with an even more wary gaze.

"What do you want Vetch?," he demanded " damn it man it's only  quarter after six."

"Bird Flu," said physician " bird flu !"

"Bird flew ? A bird flew where ? Which bird  Vetch?" enquired the guard.

"No , no bird flu" he said placing more exaggerated stress on the phrasing.

" No bird? You said there was a bird. Which bird? " repeated the guard feeling somewhat exasperated by the lack of progress in  the conversation.

"I need to see the queen," said Vetch changing the subject." It's urgent," he added.

" You have an appointment ?"

" No, but  I said it's urgent."

" You need an appointment," said the guard.

Vetch raised his staff and began the first few lines of a well known  transmutation spell before the guard relented.

" OK , Ok stop wait there I'll see what I can do," said  the guard.

"No, don't shut the door!" said Vetch and gestured again with his staff. The guard nodded sheepishly  walked along the corridor and occasionally glanced behind him fearful that Vetch had followed.

   It was a full eight minutes before the queen arrived at the door, her hair was in rollers, and she wore  a crimson dressing gown with teddy-bear slippers on her feet.

"Vetch ! Vetch ! My dear friend how are you? " she said hugging the physician. The guard quickly departed. " You should have come straight in there is no need for you to knock."

"It was the guard Your Majesty.... " began Vetch but was interrupted before he could present an excuse.

" Phfff !" said the queen " the guard is a fool, his father was a fool he comes from a long lineage of first-rate fools and another thing don't call me 'Your Majesty' I'm still Celandine remember? but call me 'Celly' like when I was a little girl. You were always my favourite tutor you know. Oh and come in Vetch, come in don't stand out in the cold on such a morning, you must be freezing. Now, what can I do for you darling ?"

   The lounge chairs were soft and inviting, the logs crackled in the grate and Queen Celandine's Greek Mountain Tea warmed Vetch right to his toes. In fact he was so cosy he almost forgot the urgent nature of his visit. At last however, when his cup was drained and he had wiped away the crumbs from his third biscuit he began.

" I came here first," he said " I know what a great singer you are so I know you will understand the gravity of the situation."

" Gravity? gravity has that fool Newton been messing with it again? I mean we just get things falling nicely into place when he goes and throws some new variable into the equation. I wish he would  leave the stuff to us fairies," she said.

"No, no Celly it's not about the gravity stuff it's more serious than that, it's fairy bird flu!"

The colour drained from the Queen's face and she glanced into Vetch's worried eyes.

"Ok," she said after a prolonged pause, "tell me straight what are symptoms and what can we do?"

"Well any bird in the realm that is not immune to the sickness will permanently lose its ability to sing. It's as serious as that. Can you imagine a silent Spring?"

"No bird song? we must do something and at once," she replied. She sprang from her chair and reached for the bell pull.

"No wait," said Vetch "there is hope -I have developed a Vaxspell."

 

   And so it was that special  centres set up in the realm to administer the spells and these were named Nightingale Centres for it is that bird that is the sweetest singer of all. It was some months  later the queen spoke in private to Vetch.

"Has every bird received the spell Vetch?" Vetch lowered his head and shrugged.

"No Celly, the crows refuse to have it, they say it will turn their feathers purple," said Vetch.

" Those bloody crows they always cause trouble I remember at the Midwinter feast they refused to eat the vegan dish and demanded to have freshly killed rat brought in. Well OK then what about the rest of the birds?"

" There's only the geese Celly they never got the spell as they were away on their Winter break at the time. That couldn't be avoided," said Vetch.

   And so that is how it was, and now, many years later we must thank Vetch and his quick thinking for saving the bird song of Warkworth. It's interesting to note  that also, thanks to Vetch, some of these feathered creatures went on to become famous pop singers -I am sure many readers may have already heard their hit single 'Mr.Tambourine Man'.

This story also explains why, to this day, neither the geese or the crows are able to sing.

Recently new research has uncovered  that owls too were somehow overlooked in the original vaxspell programme. During a press interview a spokesman for the Owls was asked about these latest findings and replied, "Frankly its all history now, I don't give two hoots about it."

 geese flying
bird and fairy
rainbow
fairytale title
once upon a time

........... the world was much more mundane than it is now -the sky was much closer, rainbows were still a dull grey and as for birds, I cannot begin to describe how boring they were with their mud coloured plumage There was however a boy who was about to change all that and he did this when he was just  as old as you, when you  were his age. The similarity between you and him ends there unless of course your name also just happens to be Valerian T. Bedstraw too. You have probably guessed that Valerian was part of that same Bedstraw fairy family who were regarded with suspicion by the less enlightened residents of the village. Did this bother Valerian? Did he spend many a sleepless night over this? Did he care about people's opinions ? No!

 Valerian spent his time looking up at the sky, counting the clouds, watching the stars, measuring all manner of things. Folks in the village said he could even speak Algebra. Now apart from all this cloud gazing, measuring, counting and stuff Valerian was very good at inventing things in fact you may not know it but it was this same young lad who invented the silent doorbell for clairvoyants. Valerian also liked sweets.

    I was told it was during the lead up to the Midsummer Festival that the work on the rainbow had begun  and all manner of workman had scurried back and forth outside of Valerian's house moving wheelbarrows around the rainbow's base. ( At this point I should point out that contrary, to popular belief, there is no pot of gold at the base of a rainbow that is just a rumour spread around by the Irish Fairy Tourist Board). Slowly day by day the curved grey arches of the rainbow had  stretched skyward until at last the two halves met seamlessly together.  Each day Valerian would view the rainbow through  his telescope  taking particular note of that small workman's hut at very top. Valerian had watched with interest as the structure had grown and now, apart from watching clouds, he had more important things on his mind. 

 He was proud of the  theodolite he had made from his old school protractor and two rulers. He also had in his possession a worn slide rule (which his dad had affectionately called a “ Guessing Stick") and  a notebook  firmly secured with a grubby elastic band. Today we  would call Valerian's calculations trigonometry the villagers, back then, called it "hard stuff." There was no need for him to take with him the spell book for Valerian knew the contents of that by heart.

  On that first evening's journey up the rainbow he took the minimum of stuff in the  old brown leather satchel and set off with a purposeful stride. His calculations had proved invaluable as the initial part of the climb was indeed the steepest  so occasionally he stopped for breath or sometimes just to admire the view. The air grew colder and soon the occasional cloud would  brush his shoulder. Eventually the pathway became less severe  and almost by surprise the workman's hut at the very zenith of the rainbow came into view. Here the area was strewn with wheelbarrows, spanners and all manner of discarded tools and the air was filled with the noisy chatter of the birds roosting below the great arch itself. It took Valerian less than a minute to undo the locking spell on the hut door which creaked on its rusty hinges, he peered into the darkened recesses beyond. The shed was practically empty apart from an old pine table and three equally shoddy chairs, everywhere was covered with a fine grey rainbow dust. The fact the shed was almost empty suited Valerian's purpose well and he wasted no time in replacing the locking mechanism on the door with a more secure spell of his own. On his way down the arch he collected cloud samples placed them in a glass jar and stowed this carefully away in his satchel.

 Over the next few days Valerian tried many experiments with the cloud sample, he found the texture of the cloud most interesting but the taste and colour were much too bland. After giving the problem some thought Valerian spent the next few weeks carrying jars of flavouring and food colouring up to the workman's shed. Here he spent hours collecting clouds washing them and providing them with the most agreeable flavours and interesting of colours.

 All this hard work of course paid off for Valerian made a small fortune selling his new confection to children at the Midsummer Festival. He marketed the produce under the name " A Cloud On A Stick" however I believe in the human realms it is known as "Candy Floss."

   That should have been the end of the story except for one oversight on Valerian's part, it was an oversight however that turned out to be be somewhat serendipitous. In his haste to produce the "Cloud On a Stick " Valerian had forgotten to remove  the coloured dyes and flavourings from the shed at the top of the rainbow and one night a great storm arose in the east.

 

jars colours

The storm shook the beech trees in the great forest, blew down fence panels in the fairy allotments and caused no end of damage to boats in the nearby harbour. It was however, the shed at the top of the rainbow that took the severest damage, all that remained of that was Valerian's locking spell and broken jars  that once contained the concentrated dyes and flavourings. These colours and flavours  eventually seeped into the rainbow  and slowly slid down the arch staining everything in their path. Even the birds roosting beneath the rainbow were not spared for the brightly coloured dye also seeped into their plumage and remains  there to this very day. It also explains why, if you are ever fortunate to taste a rainbow, it will somehow remind you  of candy floss.

 The village  awoke the following day to scenes of devastation from the great storm but they also awoke to a more beautiful world, a world in which a great arch of colour became the future backdrop to their lives.

snoring princess fairy tale
once upon a time
Bessie Smith 78 RPM

......in a castle high in the mountains of the human realm, there lived a princess called Belle who, despite her great beauty and wealth lacked true happiness for this princess had no prince to call her own.

 Her troubles had begun as a small child but the incident had long  been erased from Belle's memory  and only the terrible legacy remained. There was also of course the key an iron relic on a silver chain which still hung from her neck.

  Now, every night for two hours, when Belle slept  she snored, not the gentle cute squeaky snore of a princess but the raucous grunting snore of a huge fat pig. This was a snore that kept everyone awake; it shook the bed, rattled the cutlery in the kitchen drawers and even shook the bolts loose from the portcullis. It was  rumoured that even the frogs in the moat wore ear-muffs  to lessen the terrible burden of this nightly two hour ordeal. One can therefore, hardly blame her friends and servants for staying far away at night  choosing to hide in the east wing of the castle where the noise of the snoring was tempered a little by the calming sound of the ocean. By morning no one ever spoke of the previous night's embarrassing noises but some of the less kind servants would cruelly call the princess names for idle gossip was in their nature. Word of this terrible affliction had spread throughout the realm so it is little wonder that she received few visitors.

  Belle had heard all this cruel name calling and idle gossip  but tried  to be positive in her outlook.  She cheered herself up by painting every room in the castle purple for that was Belle's favourite colour. Purple walls, purple ceilings, purple floors, purple bed, purple bath et cetera, it was even  rumoured Belle owned a purple cat. Despite this purple onslaught it was still insufficient take Belle's mind off her problem and sometimes when sadness overtook her she crept into the music room and searched through her collection of early jazz and blues 78rpm records. On an old windup record player she lovingly would place a treasured disc perhaps Louis Armstrong or Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band and then sit back in her purple armchair and let the syncopation ease her worried mind. Of all the records at her disposal it was however those by Bessie Smith that touched Belle's inner soul the most, she heard in Bessie's voice  a kindred spirit. In her purple castle Belle heard the blues and was moved. 

 It was quite by chance that Belle came across the book hidden away in the darkest corner of the vast castle library, it  was a weighty volume bound in the finest tooled Moroccan leather. With a struggle she lifted it onto the carved oak lectern  opened up the first page  and read:

"A Comprehensive Directory of Fairy Godmothers

by

Peastalk & Bodkin Publishing Company (93rd Edition.)"

She flipped through the pages in a carefree nonchalant fashion until fate revealed itself .

Fairy Godmother

She stared at the words  read them  again and then a third time ( for three is a magic number). It was true, it was her name, her place of birth, her address and, crucially  in  the column marked "Fairy Godmother", was the name "Silverelle Woundwort of Oxlip."

 Belle motioned to the Royal Library keeper, a lean stooped man  with a beard containing part of his breakfast along with  some newly sharpened pencil shavings.

"Jackson isn't it?", said Belle.

"Yes your Highness", replied the librarian.

"It's this book I need some information about it."

"It's a directory of .... " began Jackson.

"Yes ,yes I know that. It's this word here, the word Oxlip, what does that mean ?" said the princess.

"It's a place name your  Highness"

"Yes I guessed that, " replied Belle slightly exasperated by the rather obvious reply, "but how come I have never heard of it?"

"It's a fairy word," replied the librarian ," I believe there is a map of the fairy realms in the back of the book."

Belle had never heard of fairy realms she leafed through the final pages of the book  and sure enough there was indeed a  beautiful hand coloured map of neighbouring fairy provinces. Belle scrutinised the chart the name "Oxlip" was  written in a fine copperplate hand. It seemed that the place was not too far away, probably less that a day's ride. She fiddled with the iron key around her neck, something she had always done in nervous situations, and then she glanced up at the librarian .

"Jackson does this mean I have a fairy Godmother?"

"Of course you have, did no one ever  tell you?", he replied.

The tears welled in Belle's eyes, she somehow felt betrayed. She turned to the librarian.

"Tell the groom I want the grey mare saddled at dawn for tomorrow I ride for Oxlip."

  The following day Belle, wrapped in her finest purple cloak, placed the doeskin riding boots in the stirrups  and turned the reins to the west. It was indeed less than a day's ride but she had stopped for lunch so it was dusk before she stood below the sign of the Raven Inn.

raven inn sign

 All eyes turned in her direction as she entered, she stood framed in  the doorway her black tousled hair and ruby red lips inviting attention.

"So what have we here then ? Such a lovely creature I'll be bound."

Belle eyed the man with contempt and opened her cloak fingering the hilt of the rapier as she did so.

"I am in need of information," she said "I am looking for a place."

"Place to stay is it sweetie ? You can stay with me", the men at the bar sniggered.

"It's a place called Oxlip" she replied. Immediately there was respectful hush, and the men eyed each other with wary glances then returned their gaze to Belle.

"What you want Oxlip for? That's Fairy realm that is, Fairy realm."

 "Suppose you just tell me where it is and let me decide what I want?" said Belle.

" Well you goes through the town out on the moors past the old gibbet like and you comes to a large standing stone with that old fairy script on it, that's where the portal to Oxlip opens. Won't do you no good though, you need a key", the man wiped his nose on his sleeve. " You can still stay with me the offer is still open. You of fairy blood are you ?"

Belle never answered she turned on her heels and left. The lights of the town faded behind her and the soft clop clop of the hooves on the heather moorland  path were the only sounds heard. In front of her lay the old rusted gibbet silhouetted in the moonlight beyond which on the barren skyline the great runestone itself. It was much more massive than Belle had imagined, she dismounted and tied the horse reins to small wizened sapling. She walked slowly around the stone studying the curious runic script. It was only then she first heard a strange humming coming from the stone itself as if the monolith was somehow calling her. She moved closer and an electric blue flash crossed the stone and a keyhole appeared where none had been before. She felt a tingling on her chest where the iron key rested and the silver chain snapped and the key fell neatly into Belle's palm. Apprehensively she placed the key in the lock and it turned with a soft but positive click.

  Space and time rippled she felt lightheaded and, on opening her eyes, she found herself standing on the porch  of a house with whitewashed walls and a thatched roof. She was not going back now not after coming so far, she knocked loudly  and then again.

"I'm coming I'm coming, " said a voice within. The door opened and a youngish woman about Belle's age stood at the door. It was not what Belle had expected.

"And you must be Belle ?" said the woman " come in, come in I have been expecting you." It was as  the woman turned to motion Belle into the sitting room that Belle first noticed the wings sticking out from the shoulder blades of the woman.

"Are you Silverelle Woundwort?" asked Belle.

The young woman shook her head.

"No, that was my mother she has been dead these fifteen long years but don't worry Belle I am your new fairy godmother, my name is Violet."

"That is such a beautiful name," said Belle. Violet smiled a knowing smile.

"Thank you, now please sit down and tell me your troubles," said Violet -although in truth she had  already  begun to suspect much.

Belle thought Violet was rather young to have to undertake this role of her fairy godmother but nonetheless was now committed to the increasingly surreal nature of the situation. She carefully  relayed all her problems of the snoring  to Violet who listened intently and when at last it was all told and the candles had burnt low Violet smiled at Belle.

"Ok I need you to do something, take off your riding boot and place your foot on the chair." Belle gave Violet a strange questioning look and removed the long doeskin boot. Violet scrutinised Belle's bare foot then said," Tell me Belle have you  a fascination for the colour purple?" Belle was reluctant to admit this  for  she regarded it as one of her quirky traits and was slightly ashamed of it . She thought however the truth was perhaps best brought out into the open and she nodded.

"See on your ankle here", said Violet pointing" you can perceive two small white scars." The marks were feint yet undeniable, Belle felt foolish she had never noticed them before.

"Yes I see them, what are they Violet?"

"It means that at sometime in your life, probably when you were very young, you were bitten by a Purple-Banded Snore Worm," said Violet " it is that which is the cause of the snoring  and also your infatuation with the colour purple."

"And can it be cured?" said Belle. Violet shook her head. It was a bitter blow for Belle having her hopes raised and then to be dashed so abruptly.

"But all is not lost Belle don't despair let me suggest something that should help you. Am I right in thinking this snoring lasts two hours ?" A tearful Belle nodded.

"In fairy realms the result of a curse is called an 'event' in your case the snoring would be classified as  a timed event. What I can do is adjust  this event to a timing that best suits you, however if that is during your waking hours your voice would still retain the loud raucous sound that was present in the snoring and would last for two hours. Would that help you?" Belle's mind whirled there was so much to think about, such important choices to be made but already a rudimentary plan was beginning to formulate itself and she spoke without hesitation.

"Yes Violet let it be done, I wish the event to manifest itself in me between the hours of 8p.m. and 10 p.m." And that was how it was.

 After thanks  and advice  Belle returned through the portal and rode a long thoughtful journey home during which many ideas clarified themselves in her mind. And, as foretold, for two hours every night Belle's voice lost is sweet gentle innocence  and she sounded like the fish wives  down at the harbour. Belle was not deterred by this for it was now part of the master plan, all that was required was a stage name. Of course the name of her hero Bessie Smith was influential in this, but "Dessie Belle  Princess Of The Blues" was a obvious choice.

 Initially the concerts were for just a few close friends but word of the power of this woman's voice soon spread to every corner of the realm and every night for two hours she held her audiences spellbound with her consummate repertoire of classic blues. People flocked to her concerts and it was at one such sell-out event that a handsome prince sat in the very front row of the audience. After the show he asked to meet Belle and of course they fell instantly in love (the fact that he played boogie-woogie piano may well have helped). Within a year they planned to be married  and  the story, is of course, about to  end here, for  Belle now finally has her Prince and  together they will start their Purple Reign.

Bessie Smith Empress Of The Blues
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 Mr. toffee Apple
once upon a time
magic painting book

......it was Molly's sixth birthday and it was the very first time she had been six so, as you can imagine, she was very excited. Now I suppose you are wondering what her very best present was and I guess you would probably say her new bike but you would be wrong. Her best present was the “ Magical Painting Book No. 43” sent to her (first class post) from Great Aunt Susie. I expect you are now probably wondering who Great Aunt Susie was – well so was Molly's Mum who was very puzzled indeed. 

   No one had heard of Great Aunt Susie but the card inside the parcel read:

“Happy Birthday Molly Six Today. “

 The card had picture of a clown on the front with the words“ Toffee Apple” written underneath. Molly wondered if a similar card had been delivered elsewhere with a picture of a toffee apple on the front and the word “clown” written underneath. It was all very mysterious.

  Now Molly's school has a rule that if it is any pupil's  birthday they allowed to take into school one of their presents to show their teacher. There is also a school rule that says the following day the pupil is allowed to take in a piece of birthday cake for their teacher to eat during yard duty. Well Molly could hardly take in her new bike so she decided to take in the very mysterious “ Magical Painting Book No. 43“.

  And so it was, in assembly, the head mistress Sarah read out Molly's name and all the pupils sang happy birthday and clapped six times which slightly embarrassed Molly. Her embarrassment however was short lived for suddenly there was a large puff of green smoke, a loud crackling sound and there, standing next to the headmistress, was a clown with very large feet. A few of the pupils shrieked in surprise and even Sarah was somewhat taken aback. The clown too seemed genuinely unnerved by his own unexpected appearance but made a very commendable quick recovery. Soon he was prancing about the stage with his great big shoes and did an impromptu juggling act with three library books. The children roared with laughter but  suddenly his bizarre antics  came to an abrupt stop. His head turned and he carefully scrutinised the assembled children.

“ Do you like magic?” he whispered - one or two children sheepishly replied.

“ Oh that's no good, no good at all, that won't make magic happen. Oh I know what's wrong you don't know my name I am Mr. Toffee Apple, now who likes magic ?

“We do Mr. Toffee Apple,” chorused some more of the children and, after three more practices, even the teachers were joining in the over-enthusiastic chant. Mr. Toffee Apple held up his hand and the children fell into an expectant hush. 

“Now,” he said peering out towards the sea of faces “whose birthday is it today?” All eyes turned towards Molly. Somewhat reluctantly Molly held up her hand.

"Ah-ha" said Mr. Toffee Apple with a flourish, "now don't tell me, let me guess. You are called Molly, you are six today and you have never been six before. Am I right? " Molly nodded.

" Now I think you have with you a present with you called a "Magical Painting Book, No. 43." Molly nodded again and held up the book.

"Could you open the book for me Molly?" Molly tried but the book did not seem to want to open.

"I can't it refuses to open, " she said.

"Ooooh "refuses" that's a big word, " said Mr Toffee Apple, "the only big word I know is greenhouse. Well Molly, you see, the book is locked it will only open if you know the magic words."

" I don't know any magic words" replied Molly.

"No magic words, my goodness what have your teachers been thinking about ? I suppose its all user passwords and all that technology stuff these days. Do you know even the witches no longer  fly on broomsticks anymore they all use vacuum cleaners. What is the world coming to? "Mr. Toffee Apple turned and faced all the pupils. " Children your teachers can't be expected to know everything, look I can prove it." He turned and faced the head teacher.

" Now Sarah, what is red and invisible ? " Sarah looked puzzled and slightly embarrassed  at not knowing the answer.

"I  am sorry I don't know," she replied.

"No tomatoes! " said Mr. Toffee Apple. "See how easy that was and yet even your teacher did not know. That's why you children must learn things don't expect grownups to know all the answers to stuff. Anyway Molly you must learn these  magic words which are **********  *** ( words kept secret for security reasons). Now say the magic words Molly.

"

"********** ***," said Molly (which was very difficult to pronounce for a six year old.) Immediately the book fell open at the first page which displayed a picture of Mr. Toffee Apple himself holding an egg timer. The egg timer contained blue sand  which somehow was magically slowly trickling through to the bottom portion of the timer.

"Goodness not much time left we must hurry." he said.

"Quickly now Molly turn to the next page!" said Mr. Toffee Apple. Molly turned over to  next page on which was another egg timer (with even less sand in) and a picture of a brightly coloured parrot.

"Quick Molly! the magic words" he said.

"********** ***,"said Molly. Again there was a puff of green smoke, a crackling sound and ,out of no where, a parrot appeared and flew over the children before settling on the piano keys where it walked up and down in a very unmusical fashion. It was then Molly noticed the sand in the egg timer had ran out and,  in a red puff of smoke, the parrot disappeared.

"Green for go, red for stop, " exclaimed Mr. Toffee Apple, " now quickly next page. What's on that page?"

"It's a picture of a rhinoceros," said Molly. The head mistress gave an alarmed look but fortunately Mr. Toffee Apple for once adopted a cautious approach.

"No, no perhaps not, too dangerous," he said "next page Molly. What's on there ?Quickly, quickly or we shall run out of time." Molly hurriedly turned the page and looked puzzled. This time there was no egg timer only a picture of what looked like a piece of string. 

"Please Mr. Toffee Apple , it looks like a piece of string."

" Ah-ha " said Mr. Toffee Apple with a flourish. That's exactly what we want, bring the book up here. Quickly now, make way for her children." Molly made her way to the front carrying the book with her she stood next to Sarah and looked across to Mr. Toffee Apple.

" Come on then Molly the magic words if you please," he said.

"********** ***" said Molly and immediately there was a green puff of smoke and a ball of string fell from the ceiling and bounced off Sarah's head. The children laughed and Molly bent down, picked up the ball of string and handed it to Mr. Toffee Apple. He unrolled a length  and asked Molly to snip it with her fingers which somehow worked remarkably well.

"Now open the book at the next page  and ask your headmistress what she sees."

"There is nothing there" said Sarah, "it's just a blank page"

"Now show everyone else," said Mr Toffee Apple. Molly turned the book so the children could see. Everyone agreed it was a blank page.

"Now Molly what do you see on the page?" he asked.

Molly looked and said, " I see a little dog with green and red spots on it."

"Precisely" said Mr Toffee Apple, " and now the magic words please Molly."

"********** ***" said Molly and there was a puff of green smoke, a loud crackle and a little dog with green and red spots appeared. Well that is not quite true  the dog could only be seen by Molly and Mr. Toffee Apple to everyone else it was quite invisible.

"Quick! quick! " said Mr Toffee Apple tie the string around his collar!" Molly made a dive for the little dog and quickly secured the piece of string around the dog's collar. To everyone else in the room it just looked like Molly was fastening the piece of string around fresh air. The little dog jumped around Molly with a cute little bark that only she could hear. Molly knelt down and stroked the little dog. Stroking an invisible dog looked so strange to everyone else but to Molly it was the most natural thing in the world to do. 

"So Molly that is your little dog now  so you must promise to look after him but remember he is a magic dog and is invisible to everyone but yourself. Any questions?"

Molly was bewildered and not quite sure what to say so much had happened, it was certainly a birthday to remember.

"What shall I feed him on?" said Molly.

"Rice Krispies of course, " said Mr. Toffee Apple "all magic dogs eat Rice Krispies. Don't they teach you anything in school these day?" He looked across at the headmistress disapprovingly. Sarah felt her face going red but said nothing.

"And what's his name?" enquired Molly.

"Pythagoras " said Mr Toffee Apple.

"Pythagoras? "repeated Molly.

" Yes, you will see why if you view him from the right angle," said Mr. Toffee Apple.

     

ball of string
sand clock timer

Suddenly in the corridor the school bell rang for start of lessons.

"Goodness me," said Mr. Toffee Apple " is it that late? I must be going." He turned and faced the children.

"Now boys and girls I want you always to remember what my Aunt Susie taught me that a wet bird never flies at night. I have no idea what that means but I remembered it and another thing......."

  But Mr Toffee Apple never got to finish his sentence for he suddenly disappeared in  a puff of red smoke leaving Molly standing there holding the end of a piece of string. Of course to Molly  there was still a red and green spotted dog at the other end of the string but to everyone else- nothing.

   Now that is the end of this story and I hope one day you too will get a Magical Painting Book No. 43 for your birthday. Meanwhile Molly's Mum is very puzzled about two things firstly why Molly trails a piece of string round with her and secondly  why the family  seem to run short of Rice Krispies much more often these days than they ever used to.

rice crispies