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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.

Hop about man.

From The Book of Stories for the Storyteller by Fanny E. Coe.

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Wee-Wun was a little gnome who lived in the Bye-bye Meadow, in a fine new house which he loved. To live in the Bye-bye Meadow was sometimes a dangerous thing, for all the big people lived there. Wee-Wun might have lived on the other common with the other gnomes and fairies if he had liked; but he did not. He liked better to be among the big people on the Bye-bye Meadow. And perhaps if he had not been such a careless fellow he might not have got into so much trouble there; but he was as careless as he could be. One day Wee-Wun was flying across the Bye-bye Meadow, with his cap at the back of his head, and his pockets full of blue blow-away seeds, when he saw lying upon the ground two little shoes of blue and silver, with upturned toes. "Here is a find!" cried he, and he bent down over the little shoes with round eyes. There they were, and they said nothing about how they had come there, but lay sadly on their sides, as silent as could be. "I shall certainly take them home to my fine house," said Wee-Wun the gnome, "for they must be lonely lying here. They shall stand upon my mantel shelf, and every morning I shall say, 'Good-morning, little blue shoes,' and every night I shall say, 'Good-night,' and we shall all be as happy as can be."

So he went to put the little shoes into his pockets, but he found they were already full of blue blow-away seeds. Then Wee-Wun took the blue blow-away seeds, and cast them over the wall into the Stir-about Wife's garden. And he put the little shoes into his pocket, and flew away. The garden of the Stir-about Wife is full of golden dandelions. That is because the Stir-about Wife likes best to brew golden spells that will make folk happy, and of course dandelions are the flowers you use for golden spells. But the very next day after Wee-Wun had passed, when she came into her garden to gather every twentieth dandelion she could hardly see a dandelion because of the blow-aways that were growing everywhere, and casting their fluff into the dandelions' eyes. When the Stir-about Wife saw this mournful sight she wept, because her beautiful spell, which she was about to finish, was quite spoiled. And after a little while she went into her house and made another spell instead. On the morrow Wee-Wun the gnome came flying over the Bye-bye Meadow, just as careless as ever. He stopped for a moment by the Stir-about Wife's garden to look at the spot where he had found the little blue shoes, to see if there were another pair there. And after he had seen that no one had dropped another pair of little blue shoes, he hung over the Stir-about Wife's wall and looked at her garden, and when he saw the blue blow-aways he laughed so that he fell upon the ground.

"That is a new kind of dandelion," said he, and he picked himself up, laughing still. Then he saw that upon the ground where he had fallen there lay a large seed that shone in the sun. It was as blue as the little blue shoes, and Wee-Wun had never seen any seed like it before. He took it in his hand, and how it twinkled and shone! "I shall plant this in my garden," said Wee-Wun, "and I shall have a plant which will have sunbeams for flowers." So he dropped it into his pocket and flew away home. That evening he made a little hole, and when he had dropped the blue seed into it he patted the earth down. "Grow quickly, little seed," said he. Then he thought of the Stir-about Wife's garden, and he began to laugh, and he laughed now and again the whole night through. But when he awakened in the morning, alack! he laughed no more, for his fine home was so dark that he could see not a pace in front of him. "This is very odd, very odd, indeed!" said Wee-Wun the gnome, and he rubbed his eyes very hard. But this was no dream, and no matter how hard he rubbed, he could not rub it away. Then he heard upon the floor a clatter and a rustle, and then a stepping noise--one, two; one, two--and that was the little blue shoes that were marching round and round over the floor very steadily.

And as they marched they sang this song:

"Ring-a-ding-dill, ring-a-ding-dill, The Hop-about Man comes over the hill. Why is he coming, and what will he see? Rickety, rackety--one, two, three."

And they sang it over and over again. "Well, this is a fine time to sing, when it is as dark as can be!" cried Wee-Wun. But the little shoes took no notice at all. So Wee-Wun went outside to his garden, and then he saw that the whole world was not dark, as he had supposed, but only his little home. For in the spot where he had sown the blue seed had sprung up a huge plant which covered over the window of Wee-Wun's fine house, and reached far above its roof. Wee-Wun began to weep, for he did not see why this thing had come to him. And after he had wept awhile he went close to the fearful plant and walked round it, and looked up and down. And then he said, "Why, it is a blue blow-away!" And so it was, but far, far larger than any Wee-Wun had ever seen in his life before. And it had grown so high and as big as that in just one night.

"What will it be like to-morrow?" thought Wee-Wun, and he began to weep again. But the blue blow-away took no notice of his tears, and the little shoes inside the house went on singing; so Wee-Wun had to stir his wits, and consider what was to be done. And when he had considered awhile, he set off for the house of the Green Ogre, shaking in his shoes. The Green Ogre was planting peas, one by one. When he saw Wee-Wun come along, with tears still on his cheeks and shaking in his shoes, he said: "My little gnome, you had better keep away, lest I plant you in mistake for a pea." But Wee-Wun said: "Oh, dear Green Ogre, wouldn't you like a nice blue blow-away for your garden? I have one which is quite big enough for you; it is taller than my little house. You have never seen a blow-away so fine." "And are you weeping, my Wee-Wun, because you have such a fine blue blow-away?" asked the Green Ogre, and he began to laugh. But Wee-Wun said: "I am weeping to see such a fine garden as yours without a blue blow-away in it. That is a sad sight."


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