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Hop about man.

By AGNES GROZIER HERBERTSON
From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.

Start of Story

"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 alone?" 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 you." "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: "Ring-a-ding-dill, ring-a-ding-dill, 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 dance. "Certainly my fine house will come down about my ears," cried poor Wee-Wun. 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 straight."



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 things straight." 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.

       



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