Further to my post the other day. For your enjoyment and comment, I give you an example of what one critic of Goblin Tales with no appreciation for lighthearted story telling, damned as childish in the extreme. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if they were right or not.
When you read it, hopefully you will want to buy a copy of the thirty timeless tales, to read for yourselves…
I Juth Want One Night’th Thleep!
In which Bejuss, the one eyed lisping raven with the twisted beak, seeks revenge.
As the sun slowly climbed in the sky all was quite in the world, except for the sound of loud snoring echoing among the ancient trees, terrifying the woodland creatures. Glob yawned, broke wind, stretched, burped, scratched his backside and turned over. A few more minutes in his warm bed was all he asked of life at this particular moment in time.
Make curled his arms tenderly around his pillow and began murmuring sweet nothings to it with a silly smile on his face. Mous tossed and turned muttering unintelligible bursts of nonsense words as he fought an imaginary monster. Byz lay on his back kicking his feet in the air dreaming he was a goblin youngling once again, gurgling happily and furiously sucking his thumb. Between his loud snoring bouts, Neo mercifully fell silent with a look of total bliss on his old leathery face. In these far too brief moments of silence he dreamt of waking up each morning nestled beside his beloved Miranda. Then as his dream faded, his snoring quickly resumed.
Over the countless years they had all shared their comfortable oak tree home with him, each and every one of his brothers had become immune to the effects of Neo’s nightly audible assault; but not simpleminded Byz’s pet raven, Bejuss.
The old bird suffered terribly each night with Neo’s ear-splitting assault on every fibre of his being. Deprived of precious sleep yet again, his feet locked themselves even more than usual to the perch, as his cage was violently vibrated with each fresh snore, threatening to shake him loose at any moment.
Now wide awake, bleary eyed and decidedly unhappy with the situation, he covered his ears with the tips of his flight feathers. Poor Bejuss did his level best to rest a few moments more before the sun’s rays finally entered the window, bathing the interior of the goblin household in its golden light.
Ever since the day when he first willingly joined the band of goblin brothers, he had come to dread bed time. Within an hour after sunset he knew that Neo would be the first of the brothers to go to sleep. Something had to be done about the goblin’s peace destroying snoring – but what?
After breakfast Glob sat beside the window enjoying his favourite view of the southern woods, allowing his meal to digest properly. Make carefully packed a plug of his honeysuckle flavoured tobacco in his bestest briar pipe, lit it and enjoyed the pleasant taste of the sweet herb, while idly blowing smoke rings out through the window past Glob’s head.
As usual, Neo left the domestic duties to his brothers, considering tasks like cleaning and washing up beneath him. He quickly left on his morning visit to Miranda in her stable. Along the way, he picked a bunch of the finest, juiciest blades of grass for her breakfast.
Back in the goblin brother’s home, it was Mous’s turn to do the washing up. Being the accident prone goblin that he is, almost as soon as the pot of water had boiled on the fire, he managed to tip the lot all over himself as he struggled with its weight. He let out a yell at the top of his voice and ran outside onto the large bough beyond their front door, waiving his hands in the air, frantically trying to cool them. “It hurtz, it hurtz; takez itz away, it hurtz!” he screamed loudly, as inflamed patches on the skin of his bony goblin hands deepened their colour while the pain intensified. Glob ran to him with a jar of honey and gently applied a generous amount to his scalded hands.
“Why don’t yer blows on them thens?” Make suggested between puffs on his pipe, thinking he was being especially helpful to his best friend.
“I’z hatez yer Make!” Mous sobbed, with tears welling up in his eyes, despite the soothing feeling of the honey slowly doing its work, easing the pain.
“I’s wos only trying ter helps brother, sorry’s I’s sure!” Make replied indignantly, puffing furiously on his pipe, sending more smoke signals into the air.
As usual, Byz was totally oblivious to all that was going on. After he had replaced the stale oak leaves in his armpits with freshly picked ones, he found a spider in his bed and began playing with it, completely forgetting to feed Bejuss.
“Rarrk, me’th hungry – me needth food!” the old bird lisped angrily from within the witch cage.
Glob kicked Byz in the shins causing him to yelp. “Bejuss is yer sponsibility, so yer’d better feeds him, sharpish like – or else me lad!” Glob yelled, above the noise all around him. Byz began crying loudly as he ran outside. In between sobs he yelled back at Glob. “Yer is a bully Glob, I’s hates yer!”
Feeling totally fed up and decidedly angry, Bejuss opened the door to his cage and flew off to the kitchen. “Can’t get any thleep, n now me can’t get me breakfath neither!” he lisped, while casting his one eye around the kitchen shelves looking for something juicy to eat. Finding nothing, he flew back into the living room in disgust and perched on the back of Glob’s chair beside the window.
Byz sulkily returned from outside after a few minutes with some juicy bugs for Bejuss’ breakfast. The old bird made him yelp again when he angrily snatched his breakfast from him with his sharp twisted beak, swallowing them so quickly that he gave himself hiccups.
Glob hung his head low and sighed heavily. As if things weren’t bad enough already what with Mous scalding himself, now Glob had an angry hiccupping raven perched behind him to contend with. The day was not exactly getting off to a good start.
Bejuss hiccupped loudly in his ear before saying, “it’th bad enuff that a bird can’t get any, hic, thleep around here coth of Neo’th thnoring; but forgettin me breakfath, hic, ith the latht thtraw!”
Then a ray of hope shone on the day’s gloomy beginning when Mica arrived. “Good morning my friends,” Mica shouted to make himself heard over the sobs, yells, hiccups and moans coming from the leafy branches of the ancient oak above his head.
Glob leaned out of the window and saw his humin friend below with a heavily pregnant Agnitha sitting on Miranda’s broad back, accompanied by Neo, who was seated between the old mare’s large soft ears, constantly whispering sweet words to her.
“We were wondering if you fancied joining us for a picnic beside the stream, and maybe a bit of fishing.” Mica enquired, as Miranda suddenly lowered her head to crop the grass, almost unseating Neo, making him cling on tightly to one of her ears.
Quickly forgetting their bickering, the remaining goblin brothers hastily put together a supply of their favourite foods, plates and mugs as well as an acorn barrel full of Neo’s freshly brewed special mead, all stowed carefully by Mica in a basket slung from Miranda’s back.
Despite the pleasant prospect of a picnic, Bejuss could not forget the troubles of the night as he glared angrily at Neo. Glob was relieved for the welcome distraction. He led his brothers down to the ground and soon they were on their way along the path for a nice day out with their humin friends.
Agnitha’s mothering instincts took over as she tenderly cradled tiny Mous in her arms, kissing his pointed goblin ears and wiping away his tears with her soft blond hair, making him totally forget all about his scalded hands. Byz hobbled along tethered to Make, rubbing the painful bruise on his shin. Bejuss perched on Glob’s shoulder in deathly silence, except for his constant hiccups, while the old goblin walked and talked with Mica.
By mid-morning they had finally arrived in a lush meadow beside the stream. Mica helped Agnitha down, and between them they spread a large flax sheet on the grass. Glob and Make carried the picnic baskets between them and helped Agnitha set out the wooden bowls, mugs, and the pots and parcels of carefully wrapped foods.
By now, Mous was completely head over heels in love with his surrogate humin mother, fair Agnitha. He fussed around her, fetching and carrying for her despite his tiny size, dragging a humin sized mug over to her, so she didn’t have to stretch too far for anything in her delicate condition. Whatever she desired from the delicious repast, Mous delivered. Each time, no matter how large or small the request from her, she rewarded him with a gentle kiss on the top of his leathery head, making him blush deeply, much to everyone’s amusement. Mica nudged Glob, pointing at the spectacle of the tiny love struck goblin and grinned. Perhaps the day would turn out far better than Glob could have hoped for after all.
Neo sat on Miranda’s neck combing her main, making it shine. Make sat back to back with Glob, while he packed his pipe once more, lit it and closed his eyes, puffing contentedly. Byz, still tethered to him, played with a butterfly.
All seemed well with the world. But high above the happy scene, Bejuss was already plotting and planning. “Me can’t take another night of Neo’th noith,” the old bird muttered to himself. And then a solution occurred to him. Of course, why hadn’t he thought of it before? Plug the hole, no more noise! The germ of a plan slowly formed in his tiny bird brain. He would need an assortment of items necessary to complete the task, so he flew off in search of the things on his list, unnoticed by his friends below.
By mid-afternoon they were all mostly asleep. Mica and Agnitha were curled up in each other’s arms with Mous snuggling blissfully between them. Byz and Make lay back to back on their sides on a bed of soft grass, bathed in the warmth of the sun. Glob sat with his back to the trunk of a tree beside the stream, holding his willow wand fishing pole and its spider silk line, baited with a caddis fly, watching it drift on the surface of the stream. His hat was pulled low over his eyes while he drifted contentedly between awake and asleep. Miranda had laid down in the shade of a willow with Neo fast asleep beside her soft muzzle. Inevitably he lay on his back with his mouth open.
Bejuss returned from his trip and landed on one of the willow’s branches. At long last his hiccups had gone. On the way back he had found a fat juicy worm, a snail and a slug for his own picnic lunch, which he now deposited in a knot hole on the branch. He had hidden his secret weapon elsewhere for the moment. As the afternoon drew on, Bejuss slowly devoured the worm, before he pecked the snail carefully out of its shell with his twisted beak and swallowed it whole. Next he ate the slug.
Then the peaceful scene was finally broken as Neo began to snore loudly. “Right – it’th time!” the old raven lisped determinedly to himself. He picked up the empty snail shell and flew down to where Neo lay. Carefully positioning himself above the snoring goblin from a lower branch of the willow, he dropped it neatly into Neo’s mouth. Instantly the old goblin began choking and coughing. Everyone was immediately aroused by the sound of the violent coughing fit. Mica picked Neo up by the scruff of his neck and slapped his back hard. With one or two more slaps, he coughed up the snail shell.
Bejuss’ one eye focused on the scene below him with growing satisfaction. Phase one of his plan was successful. Phase two would have to wait until nightfall. “That’ll teach him,” he chuckled and flew off home unnoticed.
On their return, the goblin brothers entered their home to find the old raven sitting on his perch in the witch cage. He had his back to them lisping angrily to himself, clearly in no mood for friendly conversation. Simpleminded Byz was about to say something when Glob stopped him, shook his head and gestured to his brothers to leave Bejuss alone.
By now Make and Mous had made up and were best friends once again. Thanks to Glob, they all had a nice fish for their supper. Glob took it upon himself to feed Bejuss his supper of worms, taking great care not to induce hiccups in the old bird once again. Very soon night took over, and the five goblins turned in.
Bejuss didn’t have to wait long to complete his revenge. Within a few minutes, Neo began snoring, quietly at first. But inevitably, each fresh snore grew louder than its predecessor. The old raven carefully opened the door to his cage. Next, he silently flew to where he had hidden a balled up spider web, collected earlier that day.
With a couple of deft hops along the rafters, he positioned himself above Neo’s bed. Slowly he lowered the spider web ball on a single thread of silk, until it was just above the goblin’s mouth. The next two snores threatened to dislodge the old raven as the vibrations built up, but he hung on with grim determination.
In an ‘it’s now or never’ moment, he lowered the ball of web till it tickled Neo’s tonsils, before rapidly retrieving it. Neo woke, saw nothing, and quickly returned to sleep. As soon as the snoring resumed, Bejuss did it again, with the same result. The old bird kept it up, until eventually Neo turned on his side and peace reigned in the household.
At long last Bejuss returned to his cage after hiding the balled up spider web, with a look of deep satisfaction on his face. From now on whenever Neo snored, Bejuss merely had to repeat the process. Just one good night’s sleep was all he had ever asked for, and now he had the instrument to ensure nocturnal raven bliss forever more, safely stowed away in the rafter above Neo’s bed.