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Hop about man.
By AGNES GROZIER HERBERTSON
Start of Story
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.
"There is something in that," said the Green Ogre, and he set down his
peas, and thought. Then he said: "Very well, I will come and look at
your blue blow-away." And he set off at once.
Now when the Green Ogre saw the blue blow-away in Wee-Wun's garden he
thought it was certainly the best he had ever seen, and much too fine
for a little gnome like Wee-Wun. So he dug it up in a great hurry and
carried it away.
"There, that was managed very easily," said Wee-Wun the gnome joyously
to himself, and he looked at the hole where the blue blow-away had
been, and laughed. Then he went into his fine home, but that was no
longer empty, for in the seat by the fireside sat a little man in a
blue smock and feather cap. And he looked quite happy and at home. And
above his head on the mantel shelf were the little blue shoes, as
quiet as could be.
"This is a nice thing," said Wee-Wun, opening his eyes wide. "Who are
you that you have come into my little house where I like to sit all
And the little man replied at once:
"I am the Hop-about Man, and since you have let the Green Ogre carry
away the blue blow-away in which I lived, I have come to live with
"But my fine house is not big enough to hold two people," cried
Wee-Wun, and he was in a way.
"It is big enough to hold twelve tigers," said the Hop-about Man, "so
it can easily hold two little gnomes. As for me, here I am, and here I
mean to stay."
And not another word would he say. At this Wee-Wun was in a terrible
way, as you may think. But there was the Hop-about Man, and he did not
seem to care, not one bit.
So Wee-Wun went on his way, and when he had made a platter of porridge
for his breakfast, the Hop-about Man said:
"Ah, that is my breakfast, I see," and he ate it up in a twink. So
Wee-Wun had to make another platterful, and alack, he was careless,
and let that porridge burn, and he could not eat it, though he tried
hard. Afterwards he went out to fetch wood for his fire, and when he
had fetched it, he threw it into a corner, and he left the door wide
open, so that a draught fell upon the Hop-about Man. But the Hop-about
Man said nothing.
Then Wee-Wun went out to dig in his garden, and he dug there the whole
day long, and when he came in in the evening, there was the Hop-about
Man sitting in his chair. When Wee-Wun looked at his blue smock and
his feather cap he saw that the Hop-about Man looked just like a blue
blow-away growing in the chair at Wee-Wun's fireside. But when Wee-Wun
the gnome came in the Hop-about Man flew out of his chair, and he flew
all around the room, singing this song:
Let all careless things hop about if they will."
Alack! he had no sooner sung this song than the door which Wee-Wun had
left open jumped off its hinges and ran about the floor, and the wood
which he had thrown into the corner flew out and rushed about too. The
Hop-about Man's platter, which Wee-Wun had forgotten to wash, flew up
to the ceiling, and the wooden spoon spun round like a top on the
floor, and all the chairs and tables Wee-Wun had left awry began to
"Certainly my fine house will come down about my ears," cried poor
Then he felt a tug at his hair, and that was his cap, which he had put
on inside out, and which was anxious to be off and join in the fun.
And his spade, which he had left lying on the ground outside, came
running in at the place where the door had been, stirring everything
as it came. That was a muddle, and Wee-Wun began to weep.
"Oh, dear Hop-about Man," he cried, "do tell everything to be quiet
again, please, for I can hear the walls of my fine house shaking!"
But the Hop-about Man, who was again sitting in his chair, replied:
"Things will be quiet again when you have put all careless things
So Wee-Wun set to work, and he wept ever so fast. You see it is
difficult to put careless things straight when they are running about
all the time, and you have to catch them first. But at last Wee-Wun
set the door on its hinges, and put the wood in the wood cellar, and
washed the Hop-about Man's platter and spoon, and set straight all the
chairs and tables, and put the spade in the place where it ought to
be, and he was so tired that he could hardly move another step. But
the Hop-about Man did not notice him at all, and when Wee-Wun cried
out to the little blue shoes:
"See how hard I am working," they were quite silent. And you do not
know how silent blue shoes can be.
The Hop-about Man was falling asleep in his chair when all was
finished, and Wee-Wun again shed tears.
"Oh, Hop-about Man," he cried, "are you never going away?"
And the Hop-about Man replied:
"Certainly I am very comfortable here, with half of this fine house
for my own, and I can only walk away if I have a pair of little blue
shoes to walk in, and I can only go when you have set all careless
Poor Wee-Wun! He took the little blue shoes in a hurry, and his tears
were dropping all the time.
"Good-bye, little blue shoes," he said, but the Hop-about Man did not
seem to notice. And when Wee-Wun gave them to him he put them upon his
feet, but he did not stir, not an inch.
Then Wee-Wun sighed a long sigh, and he flew over the Bye-bye Meadow
till he reached the garden of the Stir-about Wife, which is bound
about by a wall. And there all night he weeded, pulling up blue
blow-aways by the score. But when in the morning he went back to his
fine house, the Hop-about Man was gone.