Published by Daphne Tzamali Yakinthou
Copyright Daphne Tzamali Yakinthou
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, lived a boggle called Longarm. The boggle used to spend all day guarding a bridge, demanding a toll from travelers in order to let them cross it. Sitting from morning till night at the same spot expecting someone who would pay to cross the mossy bridge was not an easy task, but Longarm didn’t care because he was a hardworking honest boggle.
There were days of course, when he had to deal with a few setbacks. Days when a tough knight would happen to cross the bridge or a bunch of crafty billy goats would find it especially funny to throw him into the river. Usually on those days poor Longarm was left with a growling stomach having nothing to eat. Thankfully those occasions were rare. One might say, without a hint of exaggeration, that the friendly boggle had a great fondness for his old bridge and it had never crossed his mind that someone would attempt to take it from him.
But one day, behind some nearby tall trees, all of a sudden emerged a horrible figure. A monster twice his size with arms like logs was coming furious towards him. It was an ogre, a large monster, whose ilk had been terrifying all the fairytale land.
- Top of the morning to you! Said Longarm trying desperately not to show how scared he was. How is it that you grace us with your presence?
But the giant was not in the mood for jokes.
- Who owns this bridge? He growled.
- Eh… well… eh… this is my bridge, I think, stuttered Longarm.
- Wrong! Yelled the monster. This bridge belongs to Crasher.
- Who…who is Crasher?
- I am Crasher, barked the ogre full of rage. So beat it!
What choice did poor Longarm had? He said goodbye to his lovely little bridge and left bitterly disheartened and sad. Now what would he do? Only one person in the world could listen to his troubles and understand him: his old friend Munch, the troll. He was very old but friendly and wise.
Without a moment’s waste he followed the path that led to his cave. Munch didn’t move about during the day, because a single sunray was enough to turn him into a solid rock.
- Something must be done, whimpered Longarm, when he was finally in the safety of his friend’s cave. I can’t lose my little bridge forever. But I am very weak. How am I to face this giant?
- Your problem is that you are a wimp, said the troll. You need to toughen up. Only if you build up some muscle, you’ll be able to fight him.
- But I’ve been this way all my life, complained Longarm.
- Well, I reckon that’s as good a time as any for you to change. Right outside this cave you can find large rocks. You’ll carry them back and forth till you build up some muscle and you won’t stop, until you’ve become a regular juggernaut like Crasher.
- Do you really think I can make it? Asked Longarm a little unsure. But he trusted his friend’s judgment, so he did as he had dictated.
There was no time to waste, so he went out of the cave right away and began to work out. At first he stood in front of a huge rock with the intent to lift it. He put his arms around it and tried to move it up. He clenched all his muscles huffing and sweating but to no avail.
- This rock is too heavy, sighed the poor boggle and looked around for a smaller rock he could lift hoping to fare better this time.
Once again he did his best but what if he sweated, what if he growled, what if he did all sort of funny faces, he didn’t manage to lift that rock either.
- I won’t give up, he said and, determined to keep on trying, he went further away and, forgetting the rocks for the time being, he started examining plain stones. But even those were pretty heavy for the weak boggle.
- That’s impossible, he said annoyed, the stones have conspired with Crasher to make me lose my courage.
Finally he picked a not so heavy round stone, one of the smallest he could find, and pleased with himself that he had finally found something he could lift started working out moving it back and forth outside the troll’s cave.
- I’ll be a juggernaut, he sang merrily. I’ll be a juggernaut!
And with the stone in hand he thought he was exercising his tiny muscles.
At nightfall the Troll came out of the cave to see how his friend was doing and he found him under a tree sleeping utterly exhausted.
- What do you think you are doing, you slacker? Screamed the old troll. Have you no shame? Spending your time sleeping idly under a tree, instead of working out?
- I am exhausted, my friend, explained Longarm. I’ve been working so hard all day. I carried this huge rock from the cave to the river and from the river back to the cave, till my whole body was sore.
- You don’t say! And exactly how many times you moved it back and forth? Sneered the troll.
- Eh…three, I think, replied the boggle.
- You poor thing, you must be absolutely burned out.
But then in a much more severe tone he said:
- You should be ashamed of yourself, you lazy dolt. You did a few strides with this tiny stone in your hand and you have the nerve to say you are tired. If you keep on dawdling like this, you’ll never get your bridge back. Well, what are you waiting for? Move your butt! You’ll grab onto that tree branch and do one hundred pull ups. After that you’ll run a hundred times around the cave and then you’ll lift a fallen log and you’ll carry it to the forest end. From now on I’ll be your personal trainer. You’ll take back that bridge, even if it kills me or, to be exact, even if it kills you!
Without wasting any time Munch, the old troll, took over the rigorous training of his friend and for several weeks he housed him in his cave till the time was right for him to claim back his old bridge.
As the rigorous training was coming to an end the boggle had really started to feel a lot stronger. Believe it or not, he was able to lift even that big heavy rock that he was unable to move before he started working out.
- Excellent, said the troll. Now you are really in shape. I reckon that this very day you should go back to your bridge and face this bully. You must make him understand that he can’t push us around, push you around I mean, and steal another man’s bridge.
Next morning Longarm with great confidence, following the path that led to his beloved bridge, went on to face the huge annoying ogre. But one look to that enormous foe was enough for him to start having second thoughts. These weren’t arms, these were regular tree trunks. That back was bigger than a square mile.
- He didn’t seem that huge last time I saw him, mumbled Longarm.
- You again! Growled the beast, seeing Longarm standing at the edge of the bridge. Didn’t I tell you not to set your foot on this bridge again, unless you want to pass and you intend to pay the toll? I’ll take food, if it is delicious, and of course gold.
- I have no intention to pay the toll, replied Longarm. I am here on serious business.
- Really? Now that’s priceless! I can’t wait to hear it, laughed the monster.
- I want my bridge back! Yelled angrily the boggle.
- You don’t say!
- That’s right and I demand that you leave immediately, never to return.
- You certainly have a big mouth but that’s not enough to get you your bridge back. You’ll have to fight me. Do you have the guts to face me?
- I have more than enough guts, shouted the boggle and immediately lowered his head and darted forward to deal his stronger blow to his foe and knock him out.
But what was that? Instead of hearing a cry of pain, at the moment his long head collided with the huge gut of the ogre, an insulting laughter echoed in his ears.
- Please stop! That tickles, laughed the beast. Is that the best you can do?
- What? Asked Longarm trembling with fear and anger.
But the ogre had no intention of giving him a second chance. He put immediately his arms on the shoulders of his tiny foe and lifted him with a sarcastic smile high above his head.
- Next time you’ll think twice before confronting me. Now it’s launching time. And with these words he turned Longarm upside down with his head facing the ground and his feet pointing towards the sky.
- What…what will you do to me? Stuttered Longarm.
- You’ll soon find out, growled the ogre and without delay started spinning him around in the air so fast that poor Longarm thought his stomach was in his mouth.
- Leeet me gooooo Craaaasher youuuuu will be sooorrry, threatened the unhappy boggle.
- Gladly, said the ogre and with those words he threw poor Longarm high above the nearby trees, towards the troll cave.
- Mommy, the earth is spinning, somebody stop it! said the boggle, as if at a loss, while at the same time his dizzy head was counting stars, that of course weren’t there, since it was morning. When he felt a little better he entered his friend’s cave and tried to explain to him what had occurred.
- He is too strong, Munch, he said disheartened. I’ll never get my bridge back.
- Maybe that’s all for the best, pointed out the troll. If you can’t have that old mossy bridge back he can keep it. I know a big, beautiful bridge made of marble on the great road outside the forest. You should go and settle there. I bet travelers will pay a fortune to cross that bridge.
- Do you really think so? Asked Longarm full of excitement.
- You should run there immediately, advised the troll, before someone else discovers that wonderful bridge and steal your post.
- I’m off, said anxiously the boggle, and without delay he took off to make sure no one else would beat him to the ideal spot on the big marble bridge.
When he arrived there he could hardly believe his own eyes. He had never seen a more beautiful and imposing bridge! He sat down immediately right in the middle of the bridge and waited for someone to pass. “It’s funny that no monster in the land of fairytales has discovered this great spot,” he thought. “That proves it: not everyone is as smart as old Longarm!”
Terribly satisfied with himself Longarm remained there, in that very spot and, as he had done so many times in the past, he waited for someone to pass. Indeed soon after a well dressed rider in silken clothes and a sword tucked into his belt made his appearance mounting a horse and prepared to cross the marble bridge.
- Now is my chance, said Longarm to himself. Surely a fine gentleman like that, with such impressive attire will surely carry plenty of gold in his pouch. It must burden him immensely. I hope he will not be cross, when I relieve him of that excess weight.
- Hey, boggle! What do you think you are doing standing like a common brigand in the middle of the royal bridge? Thundered the heavy voice of the horseman. Don’t you know that’s the time when the great duke goes to visit his Majesty, king Heavyhead the magnificent? Who do you think you are to delay me?
- Well, your Highness, explained politely Longarm, as you see I’m a humble boggle and this bridge is mine since this morning. So whoever wants to cross it will have to pay the toll. No exceptions, I’ m afraid.
- Indeed, said the duke with interest, the king likes to brag that he has cleared his kingdom of all the monsters. He’ll be pleased when I take this cheeky boggle to him to toss in one of his dungeons. Guards, he yelled, capture this fool immediately!
He had hardly finished his sentence when from among the trees appeared several horsemen in shiny armors, armed to the teeth, galloping towards the bridge.
- Mommy, I smell trouble! Shrieked in a comical way the boggle and started running for his life.
- Capture him dead or alive! Shouted the duke. If he’s alive, the king will put him in a cage and, if he is dead, his head will find a place on the wall among the other trophies.
- I don’t want my head hung on the wall, mourned Longarm, I like it better on my shoulders. He ran and ran, all the while feeling his pursuers breathing down his neck.
- Mother of all boggles, he kept repeating to himself over and over again, they can have all the bridges on the face of the earth, if only I manage to remain in one piece!
Luckily for him the riders weren’t all that familiar with those parts and so with zigzags and cunning manoeuvres our hero managed to escape and reach the cave of his friend Munch.
- He has ruined me, he said covered in sweat and out of breath. I was a happy boggle till this oaf came and stole my only fortune, my little bridge.
- Come now, don’t be like that! Tried to comfort him the kind troll. I’m sure there are other bridges that are not the king’s property or Crasher’s.
- You’ve got to be kidding, said Longarm exhausted. These are probably the kind of bridges no one ever crosses except perhaps some woodcutter with a slice of goat cheese, an onion and some olives in his backpack. What a toll! Besides, the way I am now probably even that kind of a foe can defeat me in battle.
- Nonsense, echoed a crystal voice and Phylloxera, Munch’s daughter, a charming young female troll appeared carrying a cup of hot beetle juice that boggles and other similar monsters always seem to like.
- See how my sprig takes care of you! Said Munch proudly. She’s a treasure! She heard you had come to our cave and caught the beetles all by herself to make you this beverage. We are lucky that so many run around in here.
Longarm took the cup from her hand and with his eyes half closed out of pleasure and satisfaction he took the first sip.
- That’s heavenly! He said ecstatic. Thank you, Phylloxera.
- You are most welcome, but the reason I made you this beverage is not plain kindness. I wanted to talk to you. My father told me of your trouble with that bully ogre of yours and I am very disappointed with you that you gave up so easily. That bridge is yours and nobody has the right to take it from you. It’s a pity, because, if there’s one thing boggles are famous for, it’s their fighting spirit.
- But what can I do? You haven’t seen him. It’s impossible to defeat this beast.
- You don’t say! Continued, undaunted by his arguments, the trollette. This guy is tough. I’ll give you that. You can’t beat him using brawn and muscle. So you’ll have to use something else.
- Like what? Asked Longarm terribly excited.
- Your cunning, said separating each syllable from the next that intelligent young monster with the shifty eyes. I have a brilliant plan! You only have to get out in the forest with my father tonight and hunt all kinds of wild game, boars and rabbits and deers. The more you manage to catch the better. Then bring them all back here and I’ll cook a meal fit for an emperor.
- Then what? Asked Munch.
- Patience! All will be revealed in good time. For now concentrate on doing exactly as I said.
The very next day Longarm was back on his bridge but this time in a mood very different from the one he was in last time he went there to face Crasher.
The ogre gave him a dirty look. Why was that idiot back?
- If you want to cross the bridge, you’d better be loaded with gold, he said roughly, unless you want a second walloping.
- If you must know, replied the boggle, I haven’t come to fight. I’ve decided I’m not strong enough to defeat you in physical combat, but there are other fields in which I bet you can’t possibly compete with me and hope to win.
- Like what? Being a loser? I’ll give you that much, laughed Crasher.
- No! I bet you a bridge three times the size of that, that all kinds of rich people cross, made of the finest marble, that you can’t beat me in eating and drinking.
- You know of such a bridge? Said Crasher obviously impressed.
- Absolutely, replied Longarm with an innocent smile.
- And why don’t you keep it for yourself? Asked suspiciously the beast.
- Oh, it’s too grand for the likes of me, said Longarm humbly. How can a tiny boggle take on all the responsibility for such a great bridge? That bridge is made for a great monster like you. But first you’ll have to prove you’re worth having it. Do you accept?
- Oh boy, oh boy, do I? Giggled the monster. I’ve beaten you once with my muscle; I’ll beat you again with my gut.
With those words the two adversaries entered the forest to start the contest. Smart Phylloxera had already prepared a huge table with all sorts of fresh game and other delicacies from her father’s cellar, but, to her great disappointment, she couldn’t come out of the cave to watch the result of her cunning.
On one side of the table sat Crasher and on the other side Longarm, like two champions of gluttony and began to gobble up everything they had in front of them and empty one plate after another.
- I hope for your own shake you’ve brought plenty of food, stumpy, said menacingly the ogre, because, when I start eating, I don’t stop easily. I may gobble you up without noticing it!
- Don’t worry about that! Said confidently Longarm. This table will not empty easily. But don’t forget to try the wine. It’s excellent, it’s from the cellar of a friend.
The ogre with huge bites gobbled down everything the two friends had hunted the night before and emptied thirstily his glass, as if his stomach was a bottomless barrel and nothing remained within.
Longarm also ate as fast as he could but soon it became obvious he was no match for the greedy ogre and his huge jaws. But for some reason the boggle didn’t seem especially sad that he was losing. On the contrary there were moments that he was taking a funny expression, as if he was struggling not to burst out laughing. Even more so when the beast filled his glass with wine and emptied one glassful after another. Finally the table was empty and only bones and leftovers had remained. The ogre burped.
- A good meal but not nearly enough for a gigantic appetite like mine. I think it’s about time you showed me my bridge. Let’s get this over with!
- But of course, said Longarm with a cunning smile. If I might make a suggestion though, what would you say if we finished the way we started with a last contest, a contest of sleep?
The ogre yawned and looked dizzily around.
- I second that idea, he said tiredly. I feel like I could sleep for days. I’ve never been sleepier. I think I’ll lie under those trees and take a little nap, but when I wake up you’d better take me to my new bridge, if you know what’s good for you.
- I think I can guarantee you that, laughed the boggle.
Indeed in a few moments the ogre had drifted into deep slumber snoring loudly and it would take the sound of a cannon to wake him. The sleeping potion that was in the wine he had so thirstily drank – the same wine which Phylloxera had prepared for him – might have had something to do with it.
Longarm of course, aware of Phylloxera’s plan, didn’t drink any of it. He just pretended doing so, in fact waiting for the amazing sleeping draught to have its effect. When Crasher finally woke he was securely tied with strong chains and left on the marble bridge for the king’s men to discover.
And Longarm? Oh, Longarm was dancing a few meters away ecstatic out of joy and exultation.
- What? What is the meaning of this? Growled the ogre angrily. You’ve tricked me, you scum.
- Technically no, said Longarm with a big smile. We had a bet, remember? We agreed that if you won, I would give you the biggest most imposing marble bridge you could desire. So why do you say I’ve tricked you?
- But you… you cheat! I didn’t agree to be tied.
- O yeah, a mere necessity I’ m afraid. It wouldn’t be polite, when the king’s men come to collect you, to find you missing, now would it? You see, I had to make sure that you wouldn’t come to disturb me again or try to reclaim my precious little bridge.
The ogre cursed and yelled and tried to break his chains but it was all in vain. Soon the king’s men discovered him and no one ever saw him again.
It goes to show you that most of the time intelligence beats raw strength.
Till we meet again, goodbye!
If you liked “Longarm’s Bridge” be sure to read “Blabbermouth’s Beard”. It’s funny, it’s free and it has a lot of colorful characters! If you want to read a romantic and exciting adventure with knights and dragons, read “The Crystal Knight”! It’s also free and it will take you to magical places and give you the chance to experience an adventure full of excitment and peril. Have fun!!!
Daphne Tzamali “Yakinthou” was born in Athens in 1981. From a very young age she showed an active imagination and loved creating stories that offered her the chance to give life to colorful characters embarking on exciting adventures. At the age of thirteen she wrote her first book, taught herself how to draw, while taking at the same time singing lessons to become an opera singer.
At the age of twenty five she wrote and illustrated her first epic adventure for young people and decided to pursue a writing career. At 2012 she publishes with Ocelotos Editions “Astrozacharenia istoria”, the tale of the starsugary Ballerina and the clown Babolino and a year later “Grumpy’s lesson”, another story targeted at the same age group. She has also published many e-books in greek. Among them are the stories “I want to be a prince” “Dewdrop’s child”, “The crystal knight, “The blessed prince”, “The queen of lightning” and many more. She has also published with Fylatos Editions the e-book “The tale of the white harlequin” and with Shakespir “The Crystal Knight” and “Blabbermouth’s Beard”.
Daphne Tzamali, pseudonym “Yakinthou”, is a member of the greek IBBY – International Board on Books for Young people.
Today she is dividing her time between all her different artistic activities and her beloved pets. She is still living in Athens.
Longarm the boggle loves his little bridge. After all he makes a good living with the toll he demands from travelers wanting to cross it! When that nasty old ogre appears and steals it from him, he will do everything in his power to get it back. But will strenuous exercise and brawn be enough or will it take something else? Will the boggle succeed in his effort to reclaim what is rightfully his or will it die in the attempt? A fun read for all kids who have to face annoying bullies and for their parents who insist on feeling young inside