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Let Sleeping Sea-Monsters Lie-And Other Cautionary Tales (Short Story Collection)

Let Sleeping Sea-Monsters Lie-And Other Cautionary Tales (Short Story Collection)


   










    To Ellen




    Contents
    Foreword by Julia Donaldson
    The Worm and the Toffee-Nosed Princess
    Never Steal Milk from a Frid
    Let Sleeping Sea-Monsters Lie
    The Boobrie and the Sheepish Scotsmen
    The Brollachan Who Kept Mum
   




    Foreword
    As long as stories and people have existed, parents have been telling cautionary tales to their children, warning them what might happen to them if they are nasty, reckless or just bad-mannered. But these are cautionary tales with a difference. True, the offenders have the usual vices – they are rude, snobbish, disobedient, aggressive and bossy – and are bound to come a cropper. But the way in which they get their comeuppance is ingenious in every case, and always has something to do with an imaginary monster. In these adventures you will be introduced to a Frid, a Kraken, a Boobrie and several other creatures populating Eva Ibbotson’s fertile mind.
   
    Eva Ibbotson, in common with some of my other favourite writers such as E. Nesbit and Roald Dahl, writes with a delightful mixture of wild imagination and down-to-earth common sense, tempering her flights of fancy with a satisfying sense of justice. These are the sort of stories I enjoyed as a child, which my children enjoyed and which I’m sure my grandchildren will enjoy too.
    Julia Donaldson




    The Worm and the Toffee-Nosed Princess
   






    Once upon a time there lived a worm. Not an earthworm – earthworms are smooth and pink and soft with purple bulges in the middle. Not a tapeworm – tapeworms are white and flat and slippery and like to live inside people’s stomachs if they can. Not a lugworm either – lugworms, which people use for fishing, stay buried in the sand.
    No, this was a very different sort of worm. It was a great, long, hairy worm, and when I say “long” I mean as long as a train or as two football pitches or as four thousand, three hundred and fifty pork sausages laid end to end. This worm had a forked tongue like so many monsters and a poisonous breath but it didn’t have wings; it just slithered. Dragons have wings; worms don’t. What it did have was the power to join itself up again when it was cut into pieces. It also had blue eyes which is unusual in a worm.
   
    One day this worm was lying peacefully in a field. Its head was by the gate and its body was looped round and round and round the field it was in, and a bit over into the next field. And as the worm lay there, just thinking its own thoughts, the gate opened and a Princess walked in.
    The Princess looked at the worm and the worm looked at the Princess. Then the worm lifted its head, with its cornflower-blue eyes, and said:
   
    “Good morning.”
    It did not say “Good morning” because it thought it was an enchanted prince and wanted the Princess to kiss it and turn it back into a prince. It knew perfectly well that it was not an enchanted prince. It said “Good morning” because it was a polite worm and that is what you say to people – and certainly to princesses – when they come through your front gate.
    But the Princess did not say “Good morning” back. She made a rather rude gesture and then she said:
    “Phooey!”
    Now “Phooey” is not a nice thing to say to a worm when it has just said “Good morning” to you. The worm was amazed. It thought it had misheard. So it lifted its head to speak again.
   
    “I said ‘Good morning, Princess’,” said the worm.
    “And I,” said the Princess, making an even ruder gesture, “said ‘Phooey!’.”
    Now this worm was not particularly ferocious or troublesome but it was a worm. Worms are like dragons or serpents: they are monsters and able to be fierce. So when the Princess said “Phooey” to it a second time, the worm did the only thing it could do. It shot out its forked and poisonous tongue, wrapped it round the Princess, pulled her into its mouth – and swallowed her. Then it went back to lying peacefully in the field.
   
    Well, you can imagine the fuss in the palace when it was discovered that the Princess had disappeared.