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Thu, 25 Jun 2009
I have just come across this little story, written by Michael Fairless. Enjoy.


by Michael Fairless.

          All the trouble arose one day when the Princess (there is always a Princess in a fairy tale, you know) was playing in the garden with her ball. She threw it up in the air much higher than usual and it never came down again. There was an awful shriek, like ten thousand steam-engines; all the ladies-in-waiting fainted in a row, the inhabitants of the place went stone-deaf, and the Captain of the Guard, who was in attendance with a company of his troops, seized the Princess, put her on his horse, galloped away followed by his soldiers to a castle on the top of a hill, deposited the Princess in the highest room, and then and only then told her what had happened.

        "Miss," he said, for he was so upset he forgot Court etiquette, "Miss, your ball must have hit the Dreadful Griffin in the eye (I noticed he was taking a little fly in the neighbourhood) and that was the reason for the awful shriek. Well, Miss, the Dreadful Griffin never was known to forgive anybody anything, so I snatched you up quick before he could get at you and brought you to the Castle of the White Cats. There are seventeen of these animals sitting outside the door and twenty-seven more standing in the court-yard, so you're as safe as safe can be, for the Dreadful Griffin can't look at a white cat without getting the ague and then he shakes so a mouse wouldn't be afraid of him. And now, Miss, I must go back to your Royal Pa, so I will wish you good-morning."A Bronze Griffin

        Having made this long speech the Captain suddenly remembered the Court etiquette, became very hot and red, went out of the room backwards, and instantly fell over the seventeen cats who all swore at him, which so confused the poor man that he rolled down the stairs and out into the court where the twenty-seven cats were having rations of mouse-pie served out to them; and the Captain rolled into the middle of the pie, scalded himself badly with the gravy, and was thankful to jump on his horse and ride away with his soldiers to report matters to the King.

The King was so pleased with his promptitude that he made him the General of the Flying Squadron, which only fights in the air, and conferred on him the medal of the Society for the Suppression of Superfluous Salamanders, whereat the Captain was overjoyed.But this is a digression, and I only told you because I wanted you to see that virtue is always rewarded.

      Now for the poor Princess. Well, she cried a little, of course, but the cats brought her some mouse-pie, which she found very good, and she was soon quite happy playing with some of the kittens and nearly forgot all about the Dreadful Griffin; but he did not forget about her, oh dear no! He flew after the Captain when he galloped away with the Princess, but when he saw the White Cats he shook with ague so fearfully that his teeth rolled about in his mouth like billiard balls and he had to go and get a new set before he could eat his dinner. Well, he was in a perfect fury, and how to get at the Princess he did not know. He swallowed several buckets of hot brimstone, rolled his head in a red flannel petticoat, put his tail in a hot sand bag, and went to bed hoping to cure the ague, which he did completely, so that he was quite well next day and more anxious to eat the Princess than ever.

            Now next door to the Dreadful Griffin (that is, a hundred miles away) there lived a Wicked Witch, and he went to consult her as to how he might get at the Princess. When the Wicked Witch heard what a sad effect White Cats had on the Griffin's constitution she said that she would have expected a Griffin of his coils to have had more sense.

        "Any slow-worm knows," said the Wicked Witch, "that cats love mice better than Princesses; therefore get a large sack of fat mice, let them loose a little way from the castle, and when the cats see them they will run after them, and you can eat the Princess."

        The Dreadful Griffin was so pleased with the Wicked Witch that he presented her with a pair of fire-bricks and a hot-water in, and then flew away to the Purveyor of Mice, who lived in a town about seventy miles away. He bought twelve hundred dozen fat mice of the best quality, all the Purveyor had in stock that were home-grown, and flew on with them to the castle. When he was a little way off he let the mice out, expecting all the cats to arrive at once, but not a cat appeared. They heard mice and they smelt mice, but not a cat moved, for they were on their honour, so they kept guard and licked their lips sadly. When the Griffin saw the last of the twelve hundred dozen mice disappearing down the road with never a cat after them, he was in a tremendous temper and flew away to the house of the Wicked Witch, only stopping to pick up a steam engine which he dropped through her roof, and then went home to bed. Next day he remembered a friend of his called the Grumpy Giant, who lived six doors away, that is, about a thousand miles, so he flew to ask his advice. When the Giant heard his story, he said in the gruffest voice you ever heard,

"Mice is common, try sparrers" (by which you can see that he was quite an uneducated person), and then he turned over and went to sleep.


Posted 14:43

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