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Rag, Tag and Bobtail and Other Magical Stories

Enid Blyton


  Rag, Tag and Bobtail

  The Little Paper Boats

  The Cat and the Wishing-Well

  The Surprising Hoop-Sticks

  The Little Pinching Girl

  The Tale of Flop and Whiskers

  Peter’s Horrid Afternoon

  The Palace of Bricks

  Jeanie’s Monkey

  Thimble’s Whirlwind

  A Shock for Freddie

  The Three Naughty Children

  The Two Good Fairies

  The Newspaper Dog

  Mr Candle’s Coconut

  Chipperdee’s Scent

  The Quarrelsome Tin Soldiers

  The Tall Pink Vase

  Whiskers and the Parrot

  The Odd Little Bird

  The Meccano Motor-Car

  The Jumping Frog

  The Little Brown Pony

  About the Author

  Rag, Tag and Bobtail

  Rag, Tag and Bobtail were three small pixies, all as mischievous as could be. They lived together in Windy Cottage and worked for old Lady Grumble, the wise woman on the hill.

  Rag scrubbed the floors, Tag swept and Bobtail dusted. For this work Lady Grumble paid them sixpence a day each, which didn’t buy them anything very grand to eat or to wear. But they were so quarrelsome that nobody else would give them work, and old Lady Grumble didn’t mind how they quarrelled, for she was deaf and couldn’t hear.

  Rag and the others were half afraid of the wise woman, for she knew a great deal of magic. She knew how to make spells, and how to grant wishes, she knew how to turn people into frogs and how to change a beetle into a prince. She really was very clever indeed.

  When she first had the three pixies to work for her she warned them on no account to touch any of her magic bottles or boxes.

  ‘You don’t know what may happen if you begin to meddle with magic you know nothing about,’ she said. ‘So keep your little fingers away from my magic cupboard, Rag, Tag and Bobtail.’

  For a long time they did – and then one day Rag found a little yellow box on the floor.

  ‘Look!’ he cried, pointing with his scrubbing brush. ‘There’s a tiny yellow box. It must have fallen out of Lady Grumble’s magic cupboard. One of you pick it up and look inside to see what there is in it.’

  ‘Look inside it yourself!’ cried Tag. ‘Coward!’

  ‘I’m not a coward!’ cried Rag, and he boldly picked up the box. ‘Ho, coward am I, Tag? Well, I’ve picked it up – and now you can open the box!’

  And with that the rude pixie threw the box straight into Tag’s surprised face. The box burst open and out fell a pile of purple sweets.

  The pixies stared at them in astonishment, for they knew quite well what they were! They were wishing-sweets! Whoever swallowed one of those purple sweets and wished would have his wish come true.

  ‘I say!’ said Bobtail, looking down at the sweets. ‘Shall we keep them and eat them?’

  ‘No,’ said Rag. ‘Lady Grumble would find out and punish us.’

  ‘We could wish her away to the moon!’ cried Tag.

  ‘No, let’s go and tell her we found the box of wishing-sweets and ask her to let us have one each,’ said Tag. ‘She will think we are very honest pixies, then, and will perhaps reward us for being good.’

  So Tag picked up the sweets, put them back into the yellow box, and then all three of the pixies went to tell Lady Grumble. She was lying down in the back room of her cottage, thinking out a wonderful moonlight spell. They had to shout at her to make her hear what they had to say.

  When she understood that they had found the sweets and were bringing them to her, she seemed pleased. But she shook her head when they asked her if she would let them have a sweet each.

  ‘Wishes are only for sweet-natured people,’ she said. ‘Bad-tempered and quarrelsome creatures like you should never be allowed to have wishes. You only do harm.’

  ‘Oh, please, please let us have a wish each,’ said Rag. ‘We won’t quarrel, we won’t be bad-tempered, we’ll be good and kind. Really and truly.’

  He had to shout it all over again before Lady Grumble heard what he said. She looked at him and shook her head doubtfully.

  ‘Well, well,’ she said, opening the box of sweets. ‘I’ll do as you say – but mind, pixies, if you are not kind and loving to one another, you will find that the wishes do you harm instead of good. So be careful!’

  Joyfully the pixies popped a sweet into their mouths and thanked Lady Grumble. Then they ran to the kitchen to talk about their good fortune.

  ‘Think of it!’ said Rag, jumping up and down in delight. ‘A wish for each of us! What shall we wish? Who will wish first?’

  ‘Shall we wish to be very rich indeed?’ said Tag.

  ‘Or shall we wish never to work any more,’ shouted Bobtail.

  ‘What about wishing for a palace bigger than the King’s?’ said Rag. ‘That would be exciting!’

  ‘And a hundred servants!’ cried Tag.

  ‘And chocolate pudding and ice-cream for dinner every day!’ said Bobtail, smacking his lips in delight. ‘Ooh! How I wish we could have a great big ice-cream each now! I’m so hot and . . .’

  He stopped – for before him on the table appeared three very large ice-creams, one strawberry, one vanilla and one chocolate!

  Rag, Tag and Bobtail stared at them in the greatest dismay – and then Rag turned on Bobtail in rage.

  ‘You silly, stupid, foolish, ridiculous pixie!’ he cried, angrily. ‘Look what you’ve wasted your wish on! Just look!’

  ‘Yes, look!’ shouted Tag. ‘Three silly ice-creams, when we could have had sacks and sacks of gold! Oh, you fool!’

  ‘Fool yourself!’ cried Bobtail, in a rage too. ‘I didn’t think what I was saying, that’s all! I just said it and they came, those three ice-creams!’

  ‘Well you’ve wasted your wish nicely,’ said Rag. ‘Tag and I are not going to be so silly. We are going to wish for a big palace and lots of servants.’

  ‘No, I’m not,’ said Tag. ‘I’ve thought of something else I’d rather have. I want a nice white horse to ride on. I’ve always wanted a white horse.’

  ‘White horse!’ cried Rag. ‘You silly creature! Fancy wanting a white horse when you could have all the stables in the world! Why not wish for a hundred white horses if you want such a silly thing!’

  ‘It’s not a silly thing to want!’ said Tag, fiercely. ‘Mind what you’re saying, Rag. And look out for those ice-creams, you silly pixie! You’ve knocked mine on to the floor! I shall have yours!’

  He was just going to pick up Rag’s ice-cream and eat it when that bad-tempered little pixie picked it up himself and threw it at the astonished Tag.

  ‘There!’ cried Rag, angrily. ‘Have it if you like – and may it drip all down your neck till it makes you cough and sneeze without stopping!’

  The ice-cream splashed into Tag’s face, and began to drip down his neck. Tag tried to wipe it away but it wouldn’t be wiped. It stuck there, dripping, dripping, dripping! The wish had come true!

  ‘Oh, Rag, you wished a wish!’ said Bobtail in horror. ‘What a horrid wish! Poor Tag! He’ll have ice-cream dripping down his neck for ever, and he’ll cough and sneeze all day long!’

  Sure enough Tag soon began to cough and sneeze without stopping, for the ice-cream was giving him a dreadful cold. Whatever was he to do?

  ‘A-tishoo, a-tish-oo!’ sneezed Tag, trying to find his handkerchief. ‘Oh, you horrid thing, Rag! Look what you’ve done! Go and fetch Lady Grumble and ask her to take the nasty ice-cream away!’

  So Rag fetched Lady Grumble and when she came a
nd saw poor Tag with ice-cream running down his neck and heard him sneezing and coughing twenty times a minute, she was surprised.

  ‘Please stop the ice-cream dripping down Tag’s neck,’ begged Rag, nearly crying.

  ‘But how did it get there?’ asked Lady Grumble in great surprise.

  ‘I wasted a wish and wished for ice-creams each,’ said Bobtail, hanging his head.

  ‘And I quarrelled with Tag and used my wish in wishing that his ice-cream should drip down his neck and make him cough and sneeze,’ said Rag, very red indeed. ‘And it’s come true, though I didn’t mean to wish it. Please, please, Lady Grumble, take away the spell.’

  ‘But what about the third wish?’ asked Lady Grumble. ‘Hasn’t Tag wished his wish yet?’

  ‘Not yet,’ said Rag.

  ‘Well, why doesn’t he use it to get rid of the ice-cream and to stop it dripping down his neck?’ asked the wise woman.

  ‘What, waste my wish in wishing a thing like that!’ cried Tag, crossly. ‘Not I! I’m keeping my wish for something grand. I’ll be a rich man when Rag and Bobtail are poor! I’ll show them what I can do with my wish! I’ll punish Rag for doing this to me! A-tishoo! A-tishoo!’

  ‘You are all three horrid, quarrelsome, unkind and selfish pixies!’ said Lady Grumble, in disgust. ‘I certainly shan’t do anything to help you, Tag. If you want to get rid of that ice-cream you can wish it away. But if you’d rather have it dripping down your neck all your life long, and be a rich man, well, you can choose!’

  Tag stared at the wise woman in dismay.

  ‘A-tishoo!’ he said. ‘Lady Grumble! Do, I beg of you, take away this spell and let me use my wish as I like! A-tishoo!’

  But Lady Grumble seemed to become deaf again all of a sudden, and walked out of the room, laughing to herself. The three pixies looked at one another.

  ‘A-tishoo!’ wept poor Tag. ‘I sh-shall have to use my w-w-wish to t-take this ice-c-cream, because it is so dreadfully cold and it’s f-freezing my neck all the time it drips. Oh, dear, what a waste of a wish!’

  ‘Never mind,’ said Bobtail, feeling very sorry for his brother. ‘Wish it, Tag. Quick, before you get a dreadful cold in your head!’

  ‘I wish – a-tishoo – that this ice-cream would go away!’ said poor Tag. At once the ice-cream disappeared, and Tag wiped away a few drops from his neck. He sneezed once more and then sat down on a stool.

  The three pixies looked at one another. They could hear the wise woman chuckling away to herself in the back room, and they grew very red, for they guessed she was laughing at them.

  ‘She said that bad-tempered people should never have wishes to wish,’ said Bobtail, sadly. ‘And it’s true. Look at us! We could have been happy, rich and loved by everyone – and instead of that we are just three silly, poor, hard-working and quarrelsome little pixies.’

  ‘We can’t help being poor and hard-working,’ said Rag, ‘but we can help being silly and quarrelsome. Let’s cure our bad temper and be nice to one another. Then next time we have wishes to wish we shall use them properly and have everything we want!’

  So they are trying very hard to be good and kind to one another, in case Lady Grumble one day might give them another chance. But I don’t somehow think she will!

  The Little Paper Boats

  One night, when Paul and Mary were fast asleep, someone came knocking at their bedroom window.

  ‘Tap!’ went the noise. ‘Tap-tap! Tap!’

  Mary woke up first, and thought it was the wind blowing a branch against the window. Then she thought it wasn’t, because it did sound so exactly like someone knocking. So she woke Paul up.

  ‘Doesn’t it sound as if someone is outside?’ she whispered. ‘Do you suppose it is a pixie?’

  ‘Let’s look!’ said Paul and he jumped out of bed to see. The moon shone brightly outside – and what do you think he saw? Standing on the window-sill was a tiny creature dressed in silver, and she was tapping with her hand on the pane. ‘Tap-tap! Tap!’

  ‘It is a pixie or an elf!’ cried Paul, in delight. He opened the window and the tiny creature climbed in.

  ‘Oh, do forgive my waking you,’ she said. ‘But a dreadful thing has happened.’

  ‘What?’ cried both children.

  ‘Well, you know the stream that runs to the bottom of your garden?’ said the pixie. ‘We were going to meet the Fairy Queen on the opposite side tonight, because she is going to hold a meeting there – and we had our pixie ship all ready to take us across. But a big wind blew suddenly and broke the rope that tied our ship to the shore. So now we can’t get across because the ship has floated away, and we are so upset.’

  ‘Oh, what a pity!’ said Mary. ‘Can we help you?’

  ‘That’s what I came to ask you,’ said the pixie. ‘Could you lend us a toy boat to sail across in?’

  ‘We did have one,’ said Paul, ‘but it’s broken. Its sail is gone, and it floats all on one side. I’m afraid it wouldn’t be a bit of use to you.’

  ‘Oh dear!’ said the pixie, looking ready to burst into tears. ‘Isn’t that too bad? We felt quite sure you would have one. Have you anything else that would do?’

  ‘No, I’m afraid not,’ said Paul, trying to think of something. ‘We’ve no raft, and not even a little penny rowing-boat. I am sorry!’

  ‘Well, never mind,’ said the pixie, climbing out to the window-sill. ‘We shall just have to stay on this side of the stream and hope that the Queen will not be too cross with us. We have no wings, you see, or we could fly across.’

  Mary suddenly clapped her hands. ‘I know!’ she cried. ‘I know! What about some paper boats, pixie? Paul and I can make nice paper boats that will float on the water. They don’t last very long but they would take you across the stream all right, I’m sure. Shall we make you some?’

  ‘Oh, will you?’ asked the pixie, in delight. ‘That is kind of you! Thank you so much!’

  ‘That’s a good idea of yours, Mary,’ said Paul. ‘Quick, let’s put on our dressing-gowns and go down to the stream with the pixie. We can take a newspaper with us and make as many boats as they like.’

  So they put on their dressing-gowns, took an old newspaper from the cupboard, and then ran downstairs and out into the garden. The pixie met them there and they all three went down to the little stream that ran at the foot of the garden.

  What a sight the two children saw! The moon shone brightly down on a crowd of little silvery creatures, dressed in misty gowns. They had tiny pointed faces and little high voices like swallows twittering. They were astonished to see the children and ran helter-skelter to hide. But the pixie that came with Paul and Mary called them back.

  ‘It’s quite safe,’ she cried. ‘These children are going to help us. They will make us some boats.’

  ‘A small boat will take one or two of you,’ said Paul. ‘We’ll make some of all sizes – and then some of you can go in crowds and some can go in twos and threes, just as you like.’

  He and Mary began to tear the paper into oblongs, and then, very quickly, they folded their paper into this shape and that, until at last there came a little paper boat. The pixies watched them in delight. They had never seen such a thing before.

  Paul and Mary soon put two boats on the water, and two or three pixies clambered in. The boat went rocking up and down on the stream, and the pixies guided it towards the opposite bank. They screamed with delight as it went, and all the pixies left on shore begged Paul and Mary to hurry up and make some more boats for them. Very soon there was a whole fleet of the little paper boats on the stream and the pixies sprang into them in joy. Across to the opposite shore they sailed one by one and landed safely on the opposite side.

  The last pixie left was the one who had tapped on the bedroom window. Mary made her a dear little boat for herself and the pixie stepped into it.

  ‘Good-bye,’ she said. ‘Don’t wait here any longer, in case you catch cold. It’s been so kind of you to help us. If you find our ship you may keep
it for your own. It’s a dear little ship, and we’d like you to have it.’

  The children waved good-bye and then went indoors to bed, talking excitedly of all that had happened. They thought that they were much too excited to go to sleep, but it wasn’t long before they were dreaming, their heads cuddled into their pillows.

  The next day they were quite certain they had dreamt it all, and they were surprised to find that they had both had the same dream – but they really didn’t think they could have seen pixies in the night. It didn’t seem real in the morning.

  But what do you think they found later on in the day, when they went for a walk down by their stream? The little ship belonging to the pixies! There it was, caught in some rushes, a little silver-sailed ship with the name ‘Silver Pixie’ on its hull! Then they knew that their dream was true, and in great delight they rushed home to show their mother what they had found.

  They keep the ship on the nursery mantelpiece because it is so pretty – and there it is to this day, a little glittering, silver ship! It sails beautifully, and you should see all the children stare when Paul and Mary take it down to the pond to sail!

  I’d love to see it, wouldn’t you?

  The Cat and the Wishing-Well

  There was once a little boy who was most unkind to animals. He threw stones at birds, he chased dogs and he caught cats and tied tin cans to their tails. So you can guess that all the animals and birds around his home feared him and hated him.

  His mother was angry with him.

  ‘One day, Tim,’ she said, ‘you will be very sorry for your horrid mischief. How would you like to be chased, or have tin-cans tied to you?’

  ‘Pooh!’ said Tim. ‘I shouldn’t mind at all!’

  Now it happened that the very next day Tim chased the next-door cat and frightened the poor creature so much that it fell down the well at the bottom of the garden. Tim roared with laughter, but he didn’t go to help the cat. No, he left the poor thing to get out as best it could.

  The cat swam to the side of the well, and held on to the loose bricks with its claws. ‘How I wish that I could do to Tim all the things he does to me and to the dogs and birds!’ thought the cat.