Three short stories to make you smile!
Copyright © Judy Brulo 2016
Published by Judy Brulo at Shakespir
For Kaia and Taio
King Sixpence’s greed could mean extinction for the Kingdom’s Blackbirds. Is there anyone who can save them?
Four Cats On The Fiddle
A concert at the Home For Retired Cats turns into a riotous event for the Queen!
The Cow That Went Bump In The Night
Poor Freddie can’t sleep, even after three of Grandma’s bedtime stories. So, she tries her own version of a familiar Nursery Rhyme and this is where the adventure begins.
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Golden signs of dawn, at first gently speckled and splintering, then slashed and searing across the ink-black, blue-black cloak of night.
As the cloak draws back for the new day, the sinister darkness gradually and reluctantly reveals, as if it were shy, the familiar hills, villages and trees. Even the jagged, cold outline of Castle Sixpence appears less fearful in the softening, pale golden glow of the sun.
Along the battlement walls, the angular silhouettes of the sentries slowly move into position for the changing of the watch. The dawn is a welcome sight for Burrus as he prepares to hand over the night watch to Montague. The brisk sound of boots heralds Montague’s approach.
“Good morrow, Burrus and a fresh one it is at that!”
“Good morrow, Montague, you are a sight for sore, tired eyes! In truth, it has been a frosty night but the signs in the sky are for a pleasant day ahead.”
“A pleasant warm day would be most welcome indeed. After all, it is almost spring. Listen to the birds! Isn’t that a glad sound?”
“Aye, it is, Montague but we do not hear the Blackbird in the dawn chorus as often as we once did.”
“Methinks it is due to the King’s insatiable gastronomy. All he thinks about is eating Blackbirds. I am afraid for these exquisite creatures.”
“Don’t forget, money and the counting of it is also one of his obsessions. And when he’s not eating Blackbirds, he’s in his Counting House.”
“Indeed, ‘tis a sorry state of affairs. Well, enough talk for now, Montague. You’ll be ready for your duties. As for me, I shall go indoors to rest myself, and warm my bones by the fire. We’ll speak some more, soon.”
While the two sentries are exchanging these thoughts, down below in the courtyard, the clanging of metal and the rhythmic scrunching of boots on stone mark the changing of the guards.
Somewhere else, an army of an entirely different kind will soon be gathering.
That same morning, King Sixpence reluctantly but bravely thrusts aside his fur bedcover, draws back the heavy curtains of his four-poster bed, heaves himself up, and relieves himself noisily in his chamber pot. Taking the offensive container away, his Manservant, by necessity, holds his nose. The hefty King awkwardly pads over to the basin to freshen himself in the ice-crusted water.
“Pas de savon!” He murmurs angrily to himself. “Sacre bleu! Pas de savon! This is not good enough. I will have to change my Manservant!”
His Manservant returns, bowing very low. The King grunts and pulling himself up to his full six feet height, bellows, “Godrick. Zounds, man! Je n’ai pas de savon, ce matin! Ou est le savon? I need soap to clean myself, and mark you, I most sincerely hope there’s grilled Blackbird for breakfast, or else!”
“Yes Sire, I will attend to the soap immediately and… err… hum… I have happy news from the kitchen Sire; the Blackbirds are almost cooked.”
“Very well. Go hence, you fopdoodle and about your duties, whatever they may be. Is the Queen still eating her bread and honey?”
“Oh well, poor soul. She may do as her little mind pleases. For myself, after breakfast, I shall go to the Counting House to count my money. I do not trust my Chancellor!”
Godrick, the fopdoodle, departs, bowing even lower than before. He fears for his life. The King goes off to his Counting House to console himself by counting his money, again.
Noble Reader, at this point it must be explained that, as foul as it may seem to us now, in those days it was quite common for persons of nobility to eat wild birds, especially songbirds. What was not quite so common was the particular obsession the King had for Blackbirds. He would eat nothing else. Blackbirds x 2, grilled for breakfast. Blackbirds x 12, toasted for lunch. Blackbirds x 24 in a pie, with gravy and all the trimmings, for supper. Not only that, every night, the King insisted on a bugle fanfare being played as the dish was placed before him. It was the talk of the Kingdom.
The King’s cooks, who actually hate cooking the lovely blackbirds are, as you read this, struggling to keep up with the alarming number of birds that King Sixpence is consuming. They too, fear for their lives, but what, you may ask, does the Queen think about it? In truth, she is only a teensy weensy bit concerned. To take her mind off it, the only solution she can think of is to console herself – not by counting money, but by eating bread and honey all day long. Perhaps, she thinks that eating bread and honey instead of Blackbirds will give her a clearer conscience. Zounds! What wisdom is this?
If you are thinking, Noble Reader, that it will not be long before Blackbirds will be in short supply in the Kingdom, then you are right. The King’s Archers, who also love the beautiful Blackbirds, have the horrible job of shooting them, but there are hardly any left to shoot these days. Now they have to work even longer to find and shoot enough Blackbirds for the King. Gadzooks! The Archers’ arms ache into the bargain. They, as well as the King’s Manservant and Cooks, now fear for their lives.
The few Blackbirds who have so far managed to avoid the arrows are, not surprisingly, in a state of utter panic. “The situation is desperate! We must make a plan, or we will become extinct,” they say. “We understand that the Cooks and the Archers have no choice but to do their horrid jobs. If they don’t obey the King, they will die at his hand, as sure as eggs is eggs! Because of this, we have no choice but to take refuge in yonder Kingdom, the Kingdom of Pye. King Sixpence cannot cross over to the Kingdom of Pye without provoking a war. We will be safe there, and we will form an army with the Blackbirds in that Kingdom and with those of any other neighbouring Kingdom who wish to join us.”
At this point, they begin whispering and so, Noble Reader, you must be patient. Later in the story, you will learn the outcome.
Meanwhile, back in the kitchen at King Sixpence’s Castle, the Cooks are getting really hot under the collar. The King is at the point of chopping everyone’s head off because his ration of Blackbirds has been reduced to half: Blackbird x 1, grilled for breakfast. Blackbirds x 6, toasted for lunch and Blackbirds x 12, in a pie, with gravy and extra trimmings (to make up for the lack of Blackbirds) for supper. Day by day, down and down the numbers go.
Godrick, the Archers, and the Cooks, indeed everyone in the Kingdom fears for the survival of the gentle Blackbirds.
Haply, Godrick has a timely brainwave. “I have heard that the Blackbirds have gone hence to the Kingdom of Pye to rally a Blackbird Army. Tonight, under cover of darkness, I will go there with my friend Burrus and speak with them. From the battlements, Montague can watch for our safety as we depart and he will await to report our safe return. The Blackbirds know that we will not harm them and they know that you, Archers and Cooks, also wish them no harm. If they are brave enough to take part in the plan, then this is what we shall do. We shall suggest that the Blackbird Army come back with us. Twenty four of them will be tasked with being placed in the King’s pie for his supper. BUT, they will not be hurt. When the Cooks prepare the Blackbird pie, they will cover the Blackbirds with pre-cooked pastry crust, leaving some holes for them to breathe through. The pie will be presented to the King, as is the custom, but when the pie is opened, the birds will begin to sing louder than they have ever sung in their lives. The noise will drive the King mad. At the sound of the supper fanfare, the Blackbird Army, waiting in the nearby woods, will swoop in and add to the cacophony. Then, one of the Blackbirds will fly into the garden and peck off the huge nose of that disgustingly ugly and deceitful maid who eats the King’s leftovers. What do you think?”
“Brilliant plan, Godrick. The King is mistaken. You are not a fopdoodle at all!”
That night, under cover of the inky-black, blue-black cloak of night, Godrick and Burrus creep away from the Castle on their mission. Montague keeps watch from the battlements.
The two men know the path through the forests and fields like the back of their hands. As they approach the Kingdom of Pye, they are spotted by the Blackbird Army. Within seconds, the flock of birds spiral down and encircle them.
“Do not be afraid, it is I, Godrick, King Sixpence’s Manservant and my friend Burrus, the Sentry. We wish you no harm. We are here to help you.”
“Tell us your plan, Sirs.” says the Blackbird General.
On hearing the Manservant’s words, the Blackbirds do not hesitate to fly, with all haste, to the Kingdom of Sixpence to execute the cunning plan.
In the damp, swirling mists of darkness, Montague can just make out the approach of the first Blackbirds. After a short while, he catches sight of Godrick and Burrus, emerging from the dark wood. He runs down to the kitchen to warn the Cooks. They are already waiting with their pie dish and pastry crust. It’s everyone to their action stations now! The twenty four volunteer Blackbirds fly in and settle themselves in the dish. The Cooks carefully cover them with the pastry. The remaining troops of the Blackbird Army wait on the Castle battlements for the bugle signal.
It’s time for supper. Godrick goes up to attend to the King.
“Gadzooks you fopdoodle! Where have you been?”
“Sire, I have been assisting in the supply of Blackbirds for your supper.”
“Oh well, in that case, you are forgiven. Are they prepared? Are there twenty four? If not, then there will be all hell to pay.”
“Yes, Sire. There are at least twenty four and they are all very well-prepared. Shall I bring the pie up from the kitchen?”
“Of course, man. I have a great hunger. Twenty four you say? Then tell the buglers to sound the supper fanfare.”
Godrick hurries down to the kitchen. Burrus gives the signal to Montague. Montague signals the Blackbird Army to be at the ready. The pie is taken up and placed before the King. The buglers sound the supper fanfare. Godrick makes the first careful cut in the pastry. The twenty four blackbirds explode out of the pie and at the same time the Blackbird Army, having heard the fanfare, sweeps into the dining hall through the windows like a menacing, black tornado. One bird peels off; her special mission is to attack and peck off the maid’s ugly nose – a messy outcome for the maid. Meanwhile, back in the dining hall, the noise is unimaginable.
The King has been forced to the floor by the swirling, black, maniacal mass. He is shaking uncontrollably from head to toe. In vain, he tries to cover his ears but he cannot protect himself.
“Godrick, Godrick, please come to my aid. God’s teeth! Help me! Help me!”
Godrick lifts his hand and the Blackbirds begin to settle. The noise subsides but the King, looking deathly pale, is still shaking uncontrollably.
“Sire,” says the emboldened Godrick, “perhaps now you realize the harm your gluttony has brought upon these beautiful creatures. Mark this! Your greed has driven them to the point of near extinction and necessitated this desperate action of ours.”
The King, at the point of madness, can hardly speak. “G – G – G – Godrick,” he stutters, “You are r – r – right. I am truly sorry for my greed and indeed, I, the King, I am the fopdoodle, not you.”
With embarrassment and contrition, the King turns to the Blackbirds. “Blackbirds, noble Blackbirds, please forgive my stupidity, my cruelty and my selfish greed.”
The Blackbirds, who could have pecked the King to pieces then and there, twitter amongst themselves and with generous hearts, agree to forgive the selfish, small-minded, stupid King.
On hearing the considerable commotion, the Queen drops her bread and honey and rushes from the parlour to the dining hall post-haste. She cannot believe the sight before her. “What is this, my Dear? You do look pale. Why are you shaking? Talking to Blackbirds, are we? Fie! Are you mad?”
Godrick speaks for the quivering King. “In truth, My Lady, your husband has had, shall we say, a feathery fright! He will no longer partake of Blackbird for breakfast, lunch and supper, or at any other time.”
The Queen replies. “There there, my King, my Dearest, my mad husband. Let me take your hand and lead you down to the parlour. I’ll wager you will find that bread and honey is really quite tasty.”
Four Cats On The Fiddle
Once upon a time, there were four cats, Milly, Ziggy, Marley and Bo-Bo. They all lived a very happy life together in London. So far, so good. “Nothing unusual about that”, I hear you say!
One day – oops, here we go, this is where it starts to get interesting – they were lazing around in the sunshine when the oldest cat, Milly, said, “You know, boys, we are wasting our talents here. Naturally, we can congratulate ourselves for keeping the house mouse-free, even though our humans feed us well… those pesky mice!” she added. “Mind you, I sometimes can’t even be bothered to re-arrange my fur for the skinny ones, so I let the poor things go. But don’t you think we really ought to do something more meaningful?”
“Such as what, exactly?” replied Ziggy, distractedly strumming his claws on the kitchen table. “Jigsaws, Monopoly, Scrabble, vacuuming?”
“Don’t be daft, Zig. Now, listen up boys! I have an idea. Let’s go up to the loft and get our fiddles.”
“Fiddles? You mean violins? Are they still up there?” asked Marley.
“Yes,” Milly replied, “at least they were there the last time I had the chance to look.”
Bo-Bo butted in, “Hang on a minute everyone, we are soooo out of practice. I’m not sure our paws are in shape and – this is a horrible thought – we’d have to clip our claws as well!
“It’s true, it would take us a while to get up to scratch, excuse the joke,” Milly chuckled “but I think we could do it. Ziggy, you can play the cello, Marley can be on the first violin, Bo-Bo on the second violin and I’ll take the viola. What do you say? Starting tomorrow?”
“OK. Let’s do it, starting tomorrow,” they agreed.
After breakfast the next day, Mum and Dad left for work and the twins went to school. The coast was clear. The house was quiet… but not for long.
“OK guys,” said Milly, “the game is on!”
They crept up to the loft, brought the instruments down and dusted off the cases, sneezing non-stop. Bo-Bo got his violin out and was struggling to tune it up when pi-oi-oi-oing! One of the strings broke!
“Oops! One down, three to go,” laughed Marley.
“Don’t be mean, I’m not as experienced as you lot! Anyways, there are some spares here. By the way, were any animals harmed during the making of these strings?”
Milly replied, “Don’t worry, thankfully they use modern materials these days… mostly!”
“That’s a relief. I would hate to think of one of my relatives being tuned up like this!”
The music stands were put up. Sheets of music were flying all over the place. Finally, after much discussion, they began with Mozart. It was a difficult choice because Mozart’s first name was Wolfgang and Marley didn’t really like the idea of wolves being involved.
At first, some of the sixteenth notes sounded a bit furry and Ziggy, unfortunately, “let one off” in the quiet bit and they all fell about, laughing! It took a couple of hours of serious rehearsal before they got back into shape.
During the break, Bo-Bo suggested, “Let’s do a concert. I have heard that the Rest Home for Retired Cats has some vacant entertainment slots. I’m sure we’ll be able to give them a bit of a giggle.”
“A bit ambitious perhaps but… great idea,” replied Marley. “We’d have to get a good selection of pieces together to keep them amused.”
“To keep them AWAKE, you mean,” responded Ziggy. “Sorry, I promise I’ll try to be more helpful… mmm… let’s think… they usually like songs from the shows, don’t they?”
“‘Cats’, perhaps?” sniggered Bo-Bo. “Anyway, better not play any Bach; that would give them all a heart attack!”
“Ha ha!” replied Ziggy. “Any more jokes like that?”
The concert date was arranged and the long-awaited evening finally arrived. The “Four Cats On The Fiddle” – Milly, Ziggy, Marley and Bo-Bo – wore their smart evening clothes. They looked really cool. For the boys – black suits, white shirts and black bow ties. And for Milly? She had made a lovely flowing black dress, dotted with sparkly sequins in a mouse motif.
The Rest Home audience consisted of a vast array of different cat breeds – all of the “older” variety. Some had fur which had turned grey and ruffled. Some had hearing aids. Others had walking sticks and Zimmer frames. But one thing they all had in common was that they all sat quietly and expectantly, eager for the concert to begin. The Manager of the Home had even arranged a surprise event… a very special guest. Take note, dear Reader. Now it gets very interesting!
The “Four Cats On The Fiddle” played their first piece – “The Canary” by Zabach. It went down a treat (ha, ha) and the enthusiastic applause continued for several minutes. Next, they played a medley of pieces from “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and then their favourite, “The Bird Catcher’s Song” by Mozart.
About halfway through the slow bit of the Mozart , Ziggy was distracted by a tiny movement coming from under a chair in the front row. Unfortunately, the person sitting on that chair was no ordinary person. It was the special surprise guest: THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND!
Ziggy couldn’t concentrate, he just couldn’t control himself. His cello playing became wobblier and wobblier. Milly, Marley and Bo-Bo nudged his music stand and looked at him with angry scowls but Ziggy couldn’t take his eyes off THAT CHAIR. Then, he saw what the disturbance was. It was a plump, juicy mouse! He wasn’t bothered about the Queen at all. His cello went flying, his sheet music landed on the Queen’s Lady-in-Waiting. His cello bow nearly pierced the Queen’s Beefy Bodyguard!
Meanwhile, the rest of the audience, some of whom had been dozing off, woke up to the mayhem and all of them, even those with Zimmer frames, scrambled to catch the mouse. It was a CATASTROPHE (another bad pun)!
In the middle of this disarray, the Queen, God Bless Her, was trying really hard to “Keep Calm And Carry On” being Queenly but disaster! She fell off her chair!
Amazingly, the mouse, God Bless Him, miraculously escaped through a hole in the skirting board.
It took at least ten minutes for the Manager of the Rest Home to quieten everyone down. The Queen’s Beefy Bodyguard and the Lady-in-Waiting assisted Her Extremely Confused Majesty back onto her chair and the Carers helped pick up those other members of the cat audience who couldn’t get up on their own. Our quartet were desperately trying to recover their music stands, music sheets and instruments. Finally, and still trying to catch their breath, they sat down on their chairs and “composed” themselves .
The audience finally settled down but there were more surprises still to come . The Queen had regained her Queenly calm and serenely rose to her feet (thankfully, she had not broken any bones). Everyone was as silent as a mouse.
She spoke! “Ladies, Gentlemen, Cats, Musicians and all my loyal subjects. One has not failed to notice that today has been a very different day from that which one could have imagined. According to, may one say, boring tradition, events should have been, shall one say, more normal. However, rather than being “not amused” by these events, one finds oneself, one must admit… Very Much Amused!”
Everyone cheered. The Queen turned to Milly, Ziggy, Marley and Bo-Bo, and said, “My thanks to the marvellous and talented ‘Four Cats on the Fiddle’. You will be receiving an invitation to the Palace whereupon, I shall bestow on you the coveted title of KQHL. Your invitations will arrive in due course. Good day to you all.”
With a flourish of her hand, she was escorted out by her Beefy Bodyguard, Lady-in-Waiting and attendants. Everyone bowed. The Queen, God Bless Her, was still smiling!
You can imagine how excited the whole company was to have been in the presence of Her Majesty. You can also imagine how shocked and amazed Milly, Ziggy, Marley and Bo-Bo were at receiving such praise from so distinguished a person as the Queen. And for those who do not know, KQHL means Knight of the Queen Has a Laugh!
The “Four Cats on the Fiddle” became famous (of course). And even though they were kept very busy playing concerts all over the world, they always kept a day free each year for a particularly special appointment. They would visit the Palace to play for the Queen but before they began to play, her Beefy Bodyguard and her Lady-in-Waiting would always check under her chair, just in case!
Pussycat, pussycat, where have you been?
I’ve been up to London to visit the Queen.
Pussycat, pussycat what did you there?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.
The Cow That Went Bump In The Night
It was a hot night. Grandma was slowly and peacefully nodding off in her chair next to the bed, when… there was a tap on her shoulder. She jumped. “Oh! Oh! My giddy aunt, what’s going on? What’s the matter?”
“Grandma, are you asleep? Can I have another story? I’m really tired but I can’t get to sleep, it’s so hot.”
“It’s way past your bedtime, Freddie, you should definitely be asleep. And you’ve already had three stories.”
“I think I’ll be able to go to sleep if you read just one more. Please, Grandma.”
Grandma sighed. “Poor Freddie” she said. She thought for a moment and into her head popped a sneaky idea. “OK, let’s do something different. I’ll tell you a Nursery Rhyme,” she said.
“They’re for babies, Grandma, I’m too old for Nursery Rhymes.”
“You’re not too old for this one. Just wait and see.”
“Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle,
The cow bumped into the moon.”
“Grandma, you got it wrong! It should be ‘the cow jumped over the moon!’”
“Oh! You noticed. Just checking. I was hoping you were only pretending to be awake.”
“Ha ha! Grandma.”
“Actually, I like the idea of the cow bumping into the moon, don’t you, Freddie? Makes it more exciting.”
“Not more exciting for the cow, Grandma! Can you do it again? You can keep the bumping bit in the rhyme, if you like.”
“Alright. Here we go.”
“Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle,
The cow bumped into the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport,
And the dish limped away with the spoon.”
“You’ve done it again. It should be ‘the dish ran away with the spoon’, not limped! Silly Grandma.”
“Just kidding. Anyways, come on Freddie, you really ought to try to sleep now. You have school tomorrow, remember?”
After that, there were a few minutes of rustling from Freddie’s bed, quite a lot of yawns and then… silence. Grandma breathed a sigh of relief, “Phew. Asleep at last!”
Freddie began to feel strange. He felt that he was floating weightlessly, like a white ghost, through the cool, ink-black sky.
“Wow! This is awesome! I can see the starry patterns. That’s Leo, and Gemini. And I can see Jupiter. The earth is underneath me! I can see black shadows – they must be trees and valleys. And the street lights look like rows of diamonds. Ooh! Oops! I feel dizzy.”
Freddie floated magically on. He had no sense of time; it was as if he was in another dimension. He rolled over and over looking at the earth and then the sky. Over and over he rolled. When suddenly—
“There’s a Cat! It’s playing a Fiddle. Well, that’s OK. Cats play violins all the time, they are quite good at it. “Hello Cat!” called Freddie, as if it was an everyday occurrence to talk to a fiddle-playing cat.
“Hello Freddie. Do you like my tune?”
“It sounds beautiful, Cat.”
“See you soon, Freddie.” And with that, Cat whizzed by, still playing his violin.
Freddie floated on till he almost bumped into a beautiful brown and white Cow. She was mooing and leaping up into the sky, heading for the moon. Quite an unusual thing for a Cow to do.
“Hello Cow. How are you? You are a wonderful jumper,” called Freddie, as if it was an everyday occurrence to talk to a jumpy Cow.
“Moooo, thank yoooouuu,” replied Cow politely. “I do this quite often, well, whenever I hear people saying… you know… ‘IT’. The ‘Hey diddle’ thingumajig! Actually, I’m usually quite good at jumping but I have to admit that I’m not always successful at jumping over the moon. I end up bumping into it instead.”
“What a shame,” replied Freddie. “Do you hurt yourself a lot?”
“Yes, I do. It’s really not much fun and I get sad because that little Dog— by the way, can you see him just down there?”
“Yes… just about,” replied Freddie.
“To be honest, I hate that Dog. I’m sorry but I REALLY DO NOT LIKE THAT DOG ONE BIT because he always LAUGHS at me. Then, on top of that, the stupid Dish tries to run away with the Spoon. As if a Dish can run. I mean, I ask you! He can barely limp and what he sees in that Spoon, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine. I’m the only really sensible animal in the… you know what… the ‘IT’. I can’t speak ‘IT’ because when it’s spoken out loud, I HAVE TO DO IT! I have to attempt some more flippin’ jumping.”
“I’m going to help you,” Freddie said, with determination. “Just wait a minute, I’ll be back.” Freddie floated down to the Dish and the Spoon. They tried to run, or rather limp away when they saw him coming but he caught up with them, easily.
“Now then, you two,” said Freddie, as if it was an everyday occurrence to scold a Dish and a Spoon. “You need to behave yourselves. People need you, especially at meal times, so stop trying to get away all the time.”
The Dish and the Spoon looked at Freddie and burst out laughing.
“OK, that’s enough!” Freddie said firmly, “I’m going to teach you a lesson. Come here, Mr. Spoon. Instead of thinking that this is all a joke, you must learn to be useful. You must help Cow. Sometimes she can’t quite leap clear over the moon and she hurts herself… a lot! You have a very long handle, so you must be her vaulting pole. AND, you must apologise to her. BOTH of you. And MEAN IT!”
The Spoon and the Dish looked at one another and agreed to apologise.
“OK,” said Spoon. “I’ll do this pole vaulting malarkey, but on one condition. If I do this for the Cow, then you, Miss Dish, must go back into your cupboard and get ready to be helpful as well.”
“Well, alright. If I must,” said the Dish reluctantly.
The Spoon floated up to the cow and said, “Mrs. Cow. I’m sorry that I have not been helpful and Miss Dish is sorry too. Aren’t you, Dish?”
“Yes,” said Dish, her head bowed in shame.
“Freddie has told us we must change our behaviour,” continued Spoon. “I’m here to help you vault over the moon so that you won’t bump your head again, and Miss Dish has promised to be useful at meal times.”
“Moooo. Thank yoooouuuu,” said Cow. “That is very kind. I forgive yoooouuuu. Shall we have a practice a bit?”
“Yes, OK. Wait a moment… can you hear ‘IT’? The Nursery Rhyme?”
From some distant place came the sound of children reciting… ‘IT’.
“Geronimo! … Here we goooo!” cried Cow, with a tremble in her voice.
“Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle,
The cow JUMPED OVER the moon.”’
Spoon hoisted Cow up… and OVER she went, clean as a whistle!
“HOORAY!” shouted Freddie. “It worked. Cow got over the moon.”
“Mooooooo! That was AWESOME,” said Cow as she landed. “We did it! Thank you Spooooooon.”
“My pleasure, Ma’am. Glad to have been of service!” said Spoon with a deep bow.
“But what about that horrible nasty, barky Dog?” mooed Cow. “We haven’t sorted him out yet and he really upsets me. And I can tell you, when I’m upset, I just cannot guarantee what I will do! Maybe I’ll do a cow pat on him. I’m sure he’d love that!”
Cat was enjoying the spectacle and missed a few notes in amazement. Dog saw what Spoon and Dish had been up to. He was afraid he was about to get the cow pat treatment. Nevertheless, this did not stop him from being snarky towards Freddie:
“What is this Freddie boy doing, disturbing our fun? Who does he think he is, messing around with our Nursery Rhyme?”
Freddie said. “Right! That’s it! ENOUGH! WE MUST SORT THAT DOG OUT! We can’t have him laughing like that, just to amuse himself. Wait a moment, let me think. Mmmmm… I think I’ve got it. If he laughs in a sneering, smug, smirky sort of way, then I’ll scrub him out of the Nursery Rhyme forever. If he laughs in a really happy, I-love-you-all sort of way, then I’ll keep him in. What do you think?”
“Sounds fine to me,” said the Cow.
“Sounds fine to me,” said the Cat and the Fiddle, the Spoon and the Dish.
“As long as he really means it,” they all said together.
They floated over to the dog and told him, in no uncertain terms, that the next time they heard the Nursery Rhyme, they would be testing him to see what type of laugh he had.
“We are warning you, Dog, that if you laugh in a sneering, smug, smirky sort of way, you’ll be out of the Nursery Rhyme forever. Got it?” warned Freddie.
The dog put his tail between his legs in shame. “Err… yes… I understand,” he replied cautiously. He was thinking of smelly, sloppy brown cow pats.
So, the next time they heard IT – the actual Nursery Rhyme – in full, with no changes, everything worked out as it should.
“Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed (in a nice way) to see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.”
No human or animal was hurt in the reciting of this Nursery Rhyme!
Suddenly, Freddie’s floating feeling began to fade. The wonderful star patterns began to fade. His eyes fluttered open and the cool, blue-grey morning light pushed its way through his curtains. He yawned, stretched, turned his head and saw Grandma asleep next to him, still in her chair… he must have fallen asleep after all!
Thank you for reading Tweaked Tales. If you enjoyed my book perhaps you might tell someone else about it?
About the author
Judy is a retired musician. She has a lovely husband, son and daughter-in-law. Her gorgeous twin grandchildren, Taio and Kaia, have inspired these stories. Judy spends most of her days writing, feeding her four cats, trying to control the garden and enjoying walks in the country.
Connect with me
Follow me on my blog: http://judybrulochildrenswriter.com
Discover other titles by Judy Brulo:
More Tweaked Tales
Hooray For Tweaked Tales
The Kingdom Of Forgetory
'Tweaked Tales' is a collection of three humorous short tales for children. Reading age 7-9. Interest 6+. The delightfully outrageous tweaking of familiar rhymes, will certainly make you smile! The three tales in 'Tweaked Tales' are: 'Blackbirds' Revenge', 'Four Cats On The Fiddle' and 'The Cow That Went Bump In The Night'. 'Blackbirds' Revenge'. King Sixpence's greed could mean extinction for the Kingdom's Blackbirds. Is there anyone who can save them? 'Four Cats On The Fiddle'. A concert at the Home For Retired Cats turns into a riotous event for the Queen of England! 'The Cow That Went Bump In The Night'. Poor Freddie can't get to sleep, even after three of Grandma's bedtime stories. So, she tries her own version of a familiar Nursery Rhyme and this is where the adventure begins.