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For Miranda, who shines.
c Timothy Ley, Mandy Emett-Ley, Miranda Ley & Alexander Ley, 2009
1 Glow-worm 2 The Spider and the Frog 3 Oﬀ We Go! 4 The First Adventure 5 The Fishing Rod 6 Glow-worm and the Scientist 7 Carl 8 Over-land 9 The Mysterious Magician 10 The Curious Cloud 11 The Genuine Genie 12 Time to Go Home 3 7 13 21 27 35 47 59 77 93 111 129
Chapter 1 Glow-worm
Glow-worms are not like ordinary worms. Sometimes when they grow up they turn into ﬁreﬂies. Sometimes they turn into spiders. Sometimes they just stay as glow-worms. And in the dark of the night they glow. This glow-worm was so bright that he glowed in the day as well! He was so bright that he taught himself to read. This is something that most worms, even bookworms, can’t do. Once he’d learnt how to do it, Glow-worm became a great reader. He read. . . and he read. . . and he read. . . until he had become fascinated by the world and all its wonders. He was particularly interested in books about human adventures and discoveries. Humans, it seemed, had been everywhere and done almost everything. And they were just animals really. Big animals (compared to Glow-worm) and clever ones, sometimes, but they were still animals. They didn’t even know how to glow, and yet they had achieved so much. Humans 3
had even managed to sail around the world. If they can do it, thought Glow-worm, so can I. Of course before he could sail around the world he would need a boat. Glow-worm didn’t know of any animals that possessed such a thing, so he would have to build one himself. Glow-worm designed his boat, and decided to name it the good ship Glow-boat. To build it he gathered together one hundred and ﬁfty-four small nuts (to build the cabin), one banana leaf (to build the hull), two twigs (to build the mast), one lost, human-sized pocket handkerchief (to use as a sail), one very small bird’s nest (not a crow’s, even though it was to build the crow’s nest) and ﬁnally an old apple core (to use as an anchor). All of these bits and pieces came together to make a very little boat, so it would have been easy for you or me to build it. But it was very hard far Glow-worm because he was so small. In fact, to him it seemed he was building a magniﬁcent ocean-going yacht, and he was building it without any experience, or indeed any hands. But he had enthusiasm, he had vision, he had ingenuity and, above
all, he had brains. So after many days and nights of hard work, he had ﬁnished. The good ship Glow-boat was ready to set sail. By the time he had ﬁnished it, Glow-worm discovered he was very tired. As it was quite late in the evening, he decided to have a good night’s sleep before he set oﬀ on his voyage. Tomorrow morning, weather permitting, he would set sail. One more sleep, and then the greatest voyage of animal discovery ever undertaken would begin. It would make history.
Chapter 2 The Spider and the Frog
Later that night almost all was calm at the little landing stage where the good ship Glow-boat was moored. I say almost all because in fact there were some animals awake, and three pairs of eyes were peering at the little ship and wondering. The eyes were almost hidden behind three blades of grass, but they were peering so intently that three blades were never going to be enough to conceal them. One of the pairs of eyes belonged to a small green frog. Not a very clever small green frog, but a very good natured one just the same. The other two pairs belonged to a slightly sinister looking white spider. The spider was fairly cunning, but even though he looked a bit sly he was every bit as good natured as the frog. Both animals were a little down on their luck, and had been for some time. They were cold; they were hungry; 7
they were tired; and, had it been raining, they would have been wet too. So there was something very attractive about a shiny, new, animal-sized yacht sitting moored to the side of a stream. “Let’s go inside,” said the frog, hopefully. “Even if there isn’t any food, there are bound to be beds. Maybe comfy ones. Maybe very comfy ones. We could have. . . ” he shivered with anticipation. “We could have. . . a sleep!” This sounded reasonable to the spider. But. . . “It looks like the kind of ship that humans build,” said the spider. “But human ships are always either human sized or toys. This one isn’t either of those things.” “No,” said the frog, “it’s the right size for us. Isn’t that lucky!” “Lucky?” said the spider. “It’s odd. Very odd. I think we should stay away. It could be dangerous.” The frog was disappointed. “But what about the beds? Couldn’t we go in and have a sleep, but carefully?” It was dark. It was quiet. It was very tempting. “All right,” said the spider, “we’ll just go and have a quick look. But if there’s anything suspicious or out of the ordinary we leave straight away.” 8
“Hooray!” shouted the frog, and he leaped from their hiding place and ran helter-skelter towards the mysterious boat. As he ran he shouted: “Can’t catch me!” and “last one to the beds is a scaredy-ﬂy!” Across the grass and through the pale shaft of moonlight the animals ran, ﬁrst the frog then, more cautiously the spider. At the bank of the stream, where the little boat was moored the frog paused brieﬂy, then leaped into the air (he was a good little leaper) and landed squarely on the deck. He was ready for bed. “I’m the winner!” he cried. But what had he won? To the spider, following closely behind, things still didn’t look right. “I’m still not sure about this,” he said. But already the frog was exploring the boat. He hopped here and there, up and down, around the deck (which was a leaf) and over the anchor (which was an apple core) and ﬁnally towards the cabin (which was made of nuts). The spider crept behind him. “That’s very odd,” he thought. “There’s everything here a human could want — but it’s all really small.” “That’s cool!” shouted the frog. “There’s everything here a human could want — but it’s all really small!” “We’ve got to get out of here right now,” declared the spider. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but it isn’t natural.” “Oh come on,” said the frog, “where’s your sense of adventure?” “I don’t know,” said the spider, in a voice dripping with sarcasm. “Maybe I dropped it somewhere when we came on board.”
“Don’t worry,” declared the frog cheerfully. “I’ll ﬁnd it for you. Maybe it’s in here?” and with that he hopped at full speed into the mysterious nut-cabin. “No!” cried the spider, but it was too late. The frog had disappeared inside. Cautiously, and a little bit reluctantly, the spider followed after him. Inside everything was very cosy and, again, very complete. The spider, after his eyes had become accustomed to the gloom, was amazed by the attention to detail. There was a little table and a little chair; a little book case and little books; a little desk on which was spread out a (not so little) map. The spider didn’t know what a map was for, but he did know it was something to do with humans. Yet here was one placed inside a tiny room where no human could possibly ﬁt. There was a little telescope, and even a little compass (although this was actually a magnetised needle hanging from a piece of cotton, so it didn’t look that little to the spider). There was a little cupboard (the door was closed, so the spider didn’t know what was in it). There was a little writing desk on which was a little log book, a tiny pot of ink and a very delicate little quill pen. Finally, against one wall of the cabin just under the little window was a comfy looking little bed. In this bed, snoring happily, was the frog. He had found what he was looking for, and had achieved his ambition. He was having a sleep. With a big sigh the spider lay down beside him. He knew he would never be able to wake his friend up now, and he couldn’t abandon him in this mysterious (and perhaps dangerous) place. So he would just have to stay with him, 10
and hope that nothing bad happened. Of course, he would try to stay awake, just in case. Two minutes later he too was fast asleep, and snoring happily. During the night he dreamt that a glow-worm came on board, cast oﬀ and sailed the little boat out to sea. Curiously, the frog had exactly the same dream. And even more curiously, this was what actually happened.
Chapter 3 Oﬀ We Go!
The very next morning Glowworm got up early. Today was the day, the day on which the great voyage was to begin. This was the day on which animal history would be made. But no matter how excited he was, Glow-worm was determined to do this properly. Without fuss, and without fanfare the great explorer left his home and squirmed his way down to the dock. So it was that almost no-one saw him depart. Glow-worm thought it was better not to make too much fuss about telling anyone. If something went wrong, and he had to turn back before the voyage was completed, no-one would know. But if he waited until he had completed the voyage, then announced his success he would become a hero. So, while almost everyone else was sleeping, Glow-worm slipped away. Only the early bird, who always got up at ﬁrst light in the hope of catching him, saw Glow-worm leave. “Where’s he oﬀ to?” he thought. 13
Thus it was that the good ship Glow-boat sailed away. It passed up the creek with its captain at the helm, and into the stream. Down the stream it sailed with only some snails as witnesses. From the stream it sailed into the river, and from the river, via the harbour, into the sea. In the harbour were many other boats, and some of the people in them were awake. But the good ship Glow-boat was so small that none of them noticed it. At the helm of his mighty vessel, Glow-worm sang for pure joy. It was the beginning of the great adventure, the adventure that would prove once and for all that animals really were as good as humans. His only regret was that he was on the great voyage alone. Perhaps it would have been nice to have a crew, for company. Of course, as it turned out he need not have worried. Because he was not alone. Two deeply asleep animals were in the cabin. In fact, they weren’t quite as deeply asleep as they had been. The rocking of the boat now that it was out amongst the ocean waves was making it hard to lie still. The frog opened one eye. Then he opened the other. Through the little porthole he could see the slightly cloudy sky. It was rocking up and down. In his vague sort of way the frog wondered why. He decided to go outside and see why the sky was rocking. After all, in his limited experience, it usually didn’t. He climbed out of bed, being careful not to wake his friend the spider, and tried to open the door. But it wouldn’t open! This was because, at exactly the same time, Glow-worm was on the other side of the door trying to open it too. They were pulling against each 14
other. “Oh bother,” said Glow-worm, who needed to check his charts. “Oh dear,” said the frog. “I think I’m in trouble.” He pulled again. Again, nothing happened. Again he found himself worrying. Should he wake the spider? The spider had said they shouldn’t come on board. Perhaps he had been right. The frog swallowed nervously. Then he had an idea. Perhaps he should push instead of pull. So he pushed. Of course, since Glow-worm was on the other side pulling at the same time the eﬀect was doubled. This time the door opened all right. In fact it shot open! The frog, who had been putting his whole weight on the door, ﬂew through, tripped over Glow-worm, and landed in a very surprised heap on the deck. “Hello,” said Glow-worm, a little surprised. “Eek!” said the frog, a little terriﬁed. The frog decided to go. It was way too scary on this boat, in spite of the bed. He was oﬀ. With one bound he leaped over the side of the boat to where he knew the bank of the stream to be. Splash! The bank of the stream had disappeared. The frog was now very wet (which he didn’t mind) and very salty (which he did). “Glug. . . glug. . . glug. . . help!” he said. At this, the spider woke up, and very awake he was too. With a slight tangle of legs (for he had quite a few of those) he raced to the side of the boat and saw the frog, sinking slightly in the ocean. He had never seen the ocean 15
before, but he was a wise enough spider to know what it was. “Uh oh,” he said. Then he saw Glow-worm for the ﬁrst time. “Hello,” said Glow-worm cheerfully. “By the way, don’t panic.” At once the spider panicked, and leaped over the side too, even though part of him knew this was a very silly thing to do. Splash (again)! “Glug. . . glug. . . glug. . . help!” said the spider and the frog together. Fortunately for the two soggy animals, Glow-worm had equipped his ship with life belts that were just the right size for the two accidental stowaways. He tossed these out to the stricken animals and slowly reeled them in. Of course, as the spider realised afterwards, he could have simply spun a web to save himself and his friend, but in the panic of the moment he simply didn’t think of it. Glow-worm couldn’t spin a web, but on the other hand he 16
never panicked. Once Glow-worm had rescued his two visitors, he wrapped them up in warm, ﬂuﬀy, animal sized towels (made by a cousin of his who was a silk-worm), and gave them some nice, sustaining dead ﬂies to munch on. “I’m Glow-worm,” he said, when they had stopped trembling. “Who are you?” “I,” said the spider, “am a spider.” “And I,” said the frog, who had not really understood the question, “am not.” “Yes yes, I can see that,” said Glow-worm. “What I meant was, what are your names?” The spider and the frog looked at one another. “The spider and the frog?” they both suggested. Glow-worm shook his head disapprovingly. “That won’t do. If animals are to match human beings in this world, then they must do as humans do and give themselves names. You,” he said the the spider, “will be Sydney, and you,” he said to the frog, “will be Freddy.” “Wow,” said Freddy, as if all his birthday presents had come at once, “I have my very own name!” “Hang on,” said Sydney suspiciously. “If animals need names, how come you’re called ‘glow-worm’ ? That’s not a name.” “It is if you spell it with a capital G,” said Glow-worm happily. “And I do.” At this, Freddy’s eyes lit up, and he realised he was in the presence of an animal of unusual sagacity and knowledge. He was truly impressed. Sydney frowned. He thought this was one of the silliest things any animal had ever said. “Okay, so you have a name. Sort of. But what are you doing on board this 17
mysterious boat?” “Simple,” said Glow-worm. “This is my boat. I built it.” At this, Freddy’s eyes opened wider, and Sydney’s frown deepened. “You built a boat? A boat just like humans make? And in it, you have actually sailed out to sea?” Glow-worm nodded enthusiastically, and Freddy’s eyes popped a little bit further out. “Okay,” said Sydney. “Why?” “I’m going to sail around the world, just like the humans have done. You can come with me, if you like, and be my crew. What do you think?” “What do I think? It’s insane!”
“Wow,” said Freddy, who looked like his eyes should have fallen out by now. “Can we really come with you? Really? Wow! Oh Sydney, can we stay? Please? Pretty please? I’d really like to sail around the world.” Sydney glowered. “You want to sail around the world?” “Yes please!” said Freddy. “Do you actually know what the world is?” “No idea,” said Freddy, happily. “Please can we sail around it?” “I’m not going,” said Sydney. “It’s impossible, not to mention dangerous. Glow-worm, will you please take us back to dry land.” “Of course I can take you back,” said Glow-worm, “but Freddy can stay if he wants to.” Freddy jumped up and down (which was an impressive sight, for he was a very good jumper) and clapped his hands. “Hooray! I’m going to sail around the Word!” “World,” Glow-worm corrected him, happily. “I will teach you how to read a chart, and you can be the navigator. But ﬁrst we’ll take your friend back home.” “Yes boss!” cried Freddy, the light of devotion gleaming in his eyes. The spider, from now on always to be called Sydney, looked from his hopelessly stupid friend to his hopelessly clever new acquaintance and buried his head in several of his arms. Left to their own devices he was sure Freddy and Glow-worm would both end up drowned or eaten by something. Without someone practical to look after them they were doomed, and there was only one practical animal he could think of in the near vicinity. He was very fond of the frog. He had been looking after him for a long time. 19
“Okay,” he said, and he could hardly believe what he was hearing himself say. “If you must try to sail around the world then I’d better come with you. I think it’s a stupid thing to do, but I’m going to come too.” “That’s the spirit!” cried Glow-worm, “and don’t worry. If humans can do it, then we can do it too.” “Hooray!” said Freddy. “By the way, do you think we’ll be back in time for lunch?” The epic voyage had begun.
Chapter 4 The First Adventure
Across the billowing waves the good ship Glow-boat sailed, it’s crew of three safe aboard. For a long time they followed the same routine; Freddy up in the crow’s nest watching for land, Glow-worm and Sydney pacing the deck. Glow-worm was lost in thought, picturing his heroic future in all it’s glorious detail; Sydney was merely lost in anxiety. Nothing bad had happened to them yet, but he was sure it was only a matter of time. And so the ﬁrst day of the voyage wore on. From his vantage point in the crow’s nest, Freddy watched for any sign of land. Then, without warning, something appeared. “Land who! Land how! Land woo! Or whatever. Land!” he cried. At once, Glow-worm and Sydney ran up to see what had happened. Sydney (who was good at sticking to things, being a spider) crawled up the mast and had a look at what 21
Freddy had seen. “Ah,” he said. “Right.” He didn’t know what to say. Freddy was so excited about his ﬁrst glimpse of land, that Sydney really had not the heart to tell him it wasn’t land at all. It was an abandoned bird nest. It had clearly fallen out of its tree, and was now drifting out to sea. It wasn’t a very impressive bird nest. In fact, it was falling apart. “Look!” cried Freddy with joy. “Is it an island? Or a continent!” “Er,” said Sydney. “It’s an island,” declared Glow-worm, who had ﬁnally joined them. “What’s it called?” said Freddy.
“Freddiland,” said Glow-worm. “It was named after its original discoverer.” “Freddiland,” said Freddy, happily. “What a coincidence!” With a minimum of fuss, Glow-worm prepared to disembark. First he lowered the apple-core anchor, then, using a piece of string, he secured the ship to the bird nest. It wasn’t much of an island, being barely bigger than the good ship Glow-boat itself, but it was their ﬁrst, so Glow-worm was determined to make the most of it. Together, the three explorers went ashore and planted a ﬂag of conquest (the ﬂag was basically a picture of Glowworm). The next thing to do was to explore, which given that the island was so small was never going to be diﬃcult to achieve. There was, however, one important discovery to be made. “Lunch!” said Freddy. And so it was. It seemed that this bird nest in ﬂoating out to sea had carried a small colony of ﬂies with it, and they were buzzing around dreamily in the sea breeze. Sydney, who was feeling peckish, began to spin a quick web to catch some. “I can do better than that,” said Freddy. He stuck out his tongue. Now, when a frog sticks out its tongue it’s not a rude gesture. Nor is it a delicate little licking of the lips. A frog’s tongue is very, very long. Much longer than the frog is tall, as a matter of fact. It is also sticky. When a frog sticks its tongue out it is dinner time. Freddy’s tongue shot out and caught a ﬂy. Then he reeled it in with a smug look on his face. 23
Meanwhile Sydney had ﬁnished his web. “Only one at a time?” he said, looking at his friend. “Let me show you the eﬃcient way.” Two ﬂies managed to get stuck in Sydney’s web. In a relaxed manner he sauntered up the web to eat them. Glow-worm watched his crew fondly. “Shore leave,” he thought to himself. “What a good idea.” So Sydney and Freddy enjoyed a well earned meal, while Glow-worm kept watch over the slowly disintegrating island (or rather, bird nest) that had been their ﬁrst port of call. But eventually it was time to go. The animals returned to the good ship Glow-boat, Glowworm (of course) leading the way. “Raise the anchor,” Glow-worm ordered. Freddy ran to obey. He grabbed hold of the anchor string and pulled with all his might. Nothing happened. Freddy pulled once more, straining his froggy-muscles as much as he could. Nothing continued to happen. “It’s stuck,” said Freddy. Sydney came over to help. His arms weren’t as strong as Freddy’s, but on the other hand he had a lot more of them, so his help should have made a diﬀerence. It didn’t. 24
Nothing happened just as much as it had before. “I wonder what you’re doing wrong?” said Glow-worm. He came over to help. The combined strength of all three animals pulling on the anchor string did make a diﬀerence. At last the anchor started to move. However, it seemed to be a lot heavier than it had been. “Maybe it’s tangled up in something,” said Sydney. “Let’s pull harder.” So they did. They pulled, and they pulled, and now the anchor really was moving. In fact, it was moving so fast they didn’t need to pull it any more. With a terriﬁc splash, what should have been the anchor shot out of the water. But it wasn’t the anchor any more; now it was an enormous ﬁsh (well, it seemed enormous to the three little animals) with tremendously big, sharp teeth. It was on the end of the anchor string, and it was not happy. It ﬂew through the air, and came crashing down on the deck of the good ship Glow-boat. At once, Glow-worm, Sydney and Freddy took cover, as the giant monster thrashed about, trying to get free of the anchor string and the boat. For a moment, Glow-worm was worried that the monster would shake the boat to pieces, and at one point it looked as if the thrashing of its tail might 25
even squash one of the crew. Fortunately, even Freddy was sensible enough to keep out of its way. Then, with one last heave of its vast, scaly body, the great ﬁsh rolled oﬀ the deck and into the sea. A terriﬁc splash followed, which drenched all three explorers and even washed out the cabin, so that Glow-worm’s sheets and charts remained damp for several days. The explorers sat stunned on the soggy deck, and thanked their lucky stars that nothing worse had happened to them. Sydney looked at Freddy. Freddy looked at Sydney. They both looked at Glow-worm.
“Hm,” said Glow-worm, “maybe having an apple-core as an anchor wasn’t such a good idea.” They had survived their ﬁrst encounter with the terrors of the deep. The epic voyage could continue.
Chapter 5 The Fishing Rod
The good ship Glow-boat sailed on for many days. Always Glow-worm looked ahead, staring through his home-made telescope. His enthusiasm for the voyage was undiminished, but Sydney and Freddy were starting to get nervous. Eventually, days turned into weeks, and the ship sailed on through high seas and low, through storm and calm, through terror and boredom and all the usual things you ﬁnd when you have an adventure on the high seas. Glowworm enjoyed it all, and even Sydney and Freddy managed to take it in their stride. But there was a problem. The supply of ﬂies from their adventure on Freddisland had long since run out, and neither Sydney nor Freddy were designed for a diet of salad. It was tricky. Their one hope was that soon Glow-worm would lead them to land and the cheerful buzzing of ﬂies. Of course, with Freddy on look-out they were faced with another problem: the only island Freddy had so far 27
seen was a bird’s nest; so this was the sort of thing he was looking out for. Thus it was that several perfectly good and interesting islands were passed by: Glow-worm and Sydney were asleep; Freddy judged these land masses as far too big and scary to be of interest to them. But eventually, a land mass appeared that was so vast even Freddy had to pay attention to it. And, once again, he was the only one who saw it. As always, he was in his look-out spot at the top of the crow’s nest staring out to sea and dreaming of blow-ﬂies, when suddenly there was a bump. “What was that?” said Freddy to himself. He grabbed his telescope (Glow-worm had made him a telescope of his own more suited to his large, froggy eyes) and squinted through it. He couldn’t see anything. And this was odd, because just for once he was actually holding the telescope the right way round. “Oh well,” he said, “I must have imagined it.” He turned round to make himself more comfortable, and nearly jumped out of his skin at what he saw. There, on the other side of the good ship Glow-boat, was an entire world: miles and miles of it, consisting of golden beach followed by thick forest. It ran all the way along what Freddy now assumed to be the edge of the sea, ﬁnally disappearing over the horizon. The ship had run ashore somewhere — diﬀerent. Freddy mopped his brow with relief. “Oh, it’s just the edge of the world. Good thing there’s another world right next to it, or we would have fallen oﬀ.” Then he had another thought. “I wonder if we have to go around this world, too?” This made him a little anxious. 28
Then he had yet another thought. “I wonder if there are. . . ﬂies in this world?” At this moment, Glow-worm and Sydney came on deck. “What was that bump?” said Sydney. “Did we hit something?” Glow-worm stared at the amazing sight of land in huge quantities. “Wow,” he said. Then he looked up at Freddy. “Freddy, you’re on look out. Why didn’t you call us?” “Oh, it’s not an island or anything,” said Freddy happily, “it’s just the end of the world.” Sydney rolled his eyes. Glow-worm helped Freddy down to the deck and explained. Slowly. “Oh,” said Freddy. “So this is land. Now I get it.” But there was still one important question to answer: where were they? The animals went into the cabin to consult the charts. According to Glow-worm’s calculations they were in the middle of the Sahara dessert. This didn’t seem right to him, though, because of all the trees. “Let me have a go,” said Sydney. Glow-worm had been teaching him how to navigate, and he was getting quite good at reading the maps. Sydney came to the conclusion that they were in the Himalayas. “No,” said Glow-worm. “This land isn’t quite tall enough.” Eventually Glow-worm came to a decision. “This,” he declared, “is the New World.” Before long, the good ship Glow-boat washed up on the shore. With the help of a friendly beaver, the ship was pulled up away from the high-tide mark. 29
“Thank you very much!” said Glow-worm. “My pleasure,” said the toothy animal, and it disappeared into the trees.
The animals disembarked, planted the oﬃcial Glowworm ﬂag, and their leader made a quick speech. “I claim this land in the name of, er, whatever the other place was called. You know, the one we came from. Thingy.” “May someone or other bless it and all who sail on it,” added Sydney. “For he’s a jolly good fellow,” said Freddy, and saluted. 30
Plans for exploration of the New World needed to be made, plus the good ship Glow-boat needed a new anchor. The explorers wouldn’t always be able to rely on a beaver to turn up when they needed help with the ship. Glowworm decided they should split up to search. If they were very lucky, that way they would end up with three anchors. So oﬀ they went. Glow-worm and Sydney set oﬀ in opposite directions along the shore, while Freddy began to explore the forest. This turned out to be a little bit frightening. Because everything in this forest was really big. The trees (of course) were big. This wasn’t that unusual — Freddy was a small frog, so all trees seemed big to him. But these trees were really big. The grass was big too. The grass at home (probably thanks to the sheep) was quite short. This grass wasn’t. Very soon Freddy was surrounded by giant stems, and couldn’t even see the ship any more. Then there were the pebbles. Freddy was used to pebbles. He was a frog, so he had been born in a pond where there were lots of pebbles. But these ones were huge. Twice normal size, in fact. Big. It was hardly a surprise that Freddy started to feel rather small. But then he saw his ﬁrst New World ﬂy, and he cheered up at once. It too was twice normal size. Out popped a long froggy tongue, and the ﬂy disappeared. Freddy chewed, swallowed and sighed. That was nice. Now he was ready to conquer anything. So it is with people and frogs that too much conﬁdence can be a dangerous thing. Freddy, poor thing, was about to come unstuck. 31
As he walked along, quite full of himself, he suddenly came across a stream. It looked very cool and inviting, and Freddy hadn’t been for a swim (in fresh water anyway) for ages. He hopped in and swam and swam. It was very nice, and he went down nice and deep. Suddenly, he saw a length of line dangling into the water, and on the end of it was a large metal hook. The perfect anchor! But ﬁrst he would have to untie it from the line. At once the eager young frog swam over to it and set to work. He held onto the hook and started ﬁddling with the wire. Of course, it is very hard for frogs to untie things, because they don’t have thumbs. Glow-worm could have managed it, because he was very clever. Unfortunately, Freddy was only very keen. The anchor remained thoroughly tied up. “Hm,” thought Freddy. “What would Glow-worm do?” At this moment he noticed a dark shadow creeping up on him from the depths. It was a pike. A very big one. And as it looked at Freddy it did the pike equivalent of licking its lips. “Eek!” said Freddy, and cleverly climbed up the line out of the water. He was safe. Or was he? Suddenly a shadow fell across him; a human shaped shadow cast by a twice normal sized human boy wearing a backwards baseball cap, a white T-shirt and very baggy shorts. To the little frog he seemed terrifying. The line Freddy had climbed up was attached to a ﬁshing rod, and the ﬁshing rod was attached to this gigantic human boy. Then the boy said something even more terrifying. 32
“Live Bait!” “Eek!” said Freddy as he made a desperate attempt to escape. He dashed back down the line into the safety of the water. Then he remembered the pike. As the great (and extremely nasty) ﬁsh jaws turned towards him, Freddy ran back up the line to the safety of the air. Then he remembered the boy. As the great (and extremely pudgy) ﬁst reached out to grab him, Freddy dashed back down the line into the safety of the water. Then he remembered the pike (again). Back down the line Freddy ran. Then up. Then down again — in fact this could have gone on forever, except that Freddy couldn’t. He was getting tired. Pretty soon either the pike or the boy was going to get him. 33
Fortunately for Freddy, it turned out to be the boy that ﬁnally caught him, and the boy was getting a bit tired of ﬁshing now, especially as his bait wouldn’t keep still. In desperation, Freddy tried one last trick to scare the boy away: he puﬀed himself up to twice his normal size. “Cool!” said the boy. “I’m going to keep you.” And he stuﬀed the inﬂated frog into his bait bucket. Freddy was trapped!
Chapter 6 Glow-worm and the Scientist
While Freddy was having his adventure with the ﬁshing rod, Glow-worm had an adventure too. He had followed the shore line until he came to a garden, running down to the edge of the beach. This garden was full of vegetables and ﬂowers, and little apple trees. Being a very thorough explorer, Glow-worm began examining the plants, and so engrossed was he that he didn’t notice something creeping up behind him. This something was very tall, very thin and wearing a lab coat. It was a human scientist, every bit as focused as Glow-worm himself. Unfortunately the thing this scientist was focused on was Glow-worm himself! Carefully the scientist crept up on Glow-worm, a butterﬂy net in one hand and a jam jar in the other. Before the adventurous worm knew what was happening, he was scooped up in the net and whisked into the jam jar. At ﬁrst, Glow-worm was surprised, and a little 35
dazed at the suddenness of his capture. Soon, though, he became aware of his captor. There was a huge face staring at him through the glass of the jar; a huge, white haired, moustached and bespectacled face. It looked puzzled.
“Amazing,” said the voice of the human scientist. “This glow-worm has a glow visible in daylight. This is truly wonderful! Also, it appears to be wearing a hat. I must discover its secrets.” Eagerly the giant scientist ran inside, with his treasured prize. The house in which the scientist lived was so extraordinary that Glow-worm, looking around in wonder, forgot to be afraid. It was clear that, in some respects at least, this scientist was a kindred spirit. 36
“Wow,” he said to himself. “I must get myself somewhere like this. Smaller, of course.” The place was vast, but single storey, and ramshackle. Its high ceilings were lit by bare light bulbs covered in cobwebs. And it was dark. Glow-worm quite liked the dark, but this wasn’t why he liked this place so much. Oh no. He liked it for the things it contained. And there really were a lot of these. Bookshelves, and thus books, were everywhere. The ﬂoor was covered in interesting looking tomes, some technical, some not (some even with pictures!) And where there was space between the books, there were scientiﬁc instruments, retorts, test tubes, pipettes, micrometres and all sorts of things. Glow-worm had tried to make miniature versions of many of these things (usually out of twigs, and not very successfully), so he was excited to see the real thing. The next hallway led to a room equally full of books and glass instruments (and what looked like the remains of a model train set), but in other respects it was not quite so comforting. For in the centre of this room were several sets of metal shelves, and arranged upon these shelves, in individually labelled little jars, were dozens and dozens of captive glow-worms. Glow-worm was shocked. It was a glow-worm detention centre. Worse, all these interesting books were too big to ﬁt in any of the jars, so the prisoners weren’t even able to read. With an enthusiastic ﬂourish, the human scientist placed Glow-worm’s jar on the very top of the central set of shelves. He then pulled a tiny little light meter out of his pocket and pointed it at Glow-worm. He stared at the 37
dial in wonder. “Extra-ordinary! Just like a little light bulb!” he cried. “I must telephone Professor Crumb! He will know what to do.” For a moment the scientist gazed wistfully into the distance. “A chair at the Smithsonian. . . the Nobel prize. . . a cover story in Celebrity Gossip Magazine. Anything is possible! Now, where is that telephone?” Suddenly he was gone, rubbing his hands together and dreaming of the reaction of the scientiﬁc world when they discovered Glow-worm.
But Glow-worm, trapped in a jar on the top of a shelf, was not happy. This human might have an interesting library, but he was clearly no friend to glow-worms. He was endangering the voyage and that, to Glow-worm’s way of thinking, would never do. 38
Of course, he was not alone. There were others here, other prisoners like himself. He called out. “Hello! What’s going on here? Can anyone hear me? How do I get out of here?” Several voices answered, sleepily. “It’s not dinner time yet, New-worm. Go back to sleep.” Glow-worm peered as best he could out of the jar to see what his companions looked like, but it was hard. They were curled up in their own little worlds, and they were clearly a dull lot, for even in the gloom of this room it was only just possible to see their glows. “Where am I?” Glow-worm called again. The worm in the jar nearest to him raised a sleepy little head, and scowled. “New-worm,” he said, “the rule in this hotel is that everyone sleeps until dinner time.” “Right,” said Glow-worm. “Then what?” “Then we eat.” “Right. Got it. Then what?” “Then we go back to sleep.” “Is that all?” said Glow-worm. One of the other worms spoke up. “Pretty much. Unless the human wants to dissect one of us. Sometimes he does that.” Glow-worm was horriﬁed. “And you don’t mind?” Other worms were awake now, and listening to the conversation. A rather portly one, who ﬁlled his jam jar most impressively, said: “I don’t mind. I’ve never been dissected, of course, but it can’t be that much worse than going to sleep. Probably not as good as being fed, of course.” “It’s a nice place,” said the worm who had spoken ﬁrst. “Regular meals; regular sleep times; only occasional dissection.” 39
This wouldn’t do at all. “I’m not being dissected,” said Glow-worm, ﬁrmly. “And I’m not living a life of just eating and sleeping.” “What else is there?” said the portly worm. “There’s escape, for one thing,” said Glow-worm. “What’s that?” said several of the worms together. “Watch,” said Glow-worm, “and learn.” By now the scientist had found his telephone. It was a particularly old one, with a ragged looking and thoroughly tangled cord. The scientist rushed into the room with it, dragging the cord behind him. In its journey through the house the cord had collected a volume of Encyclopædia Britannica, a glass retort and a stuﬀed iguana. The collection came clattering into the room after him. Placing the telephone onto the shelf beside Glow-worm, the scientist searched his pockets for his notebook. “Where is that telephone number?” he mumbled to himself, then: “ah! That’s the one.” Eagerly he dialled the number, hands trembling as he did so, then listened for an answer. He ﬁddled with the telephone cord, wrapping it around his ﬁngers in a way that looked very unhealthy. “Hello,” cried the scientist. “Is that Professor Crumb! Ah, excellent! I have discovered the most remarkable animal, a glow-worm with a glow visible by day. A very active little fellow, too. Found it crawling about my garden. Most unlike usual glow-worms. Might even be a new species.” “Don’t forget to mention that it was wearing a hat!” said Glow-worm. Glow-worm was not the ﬁrst animal ever to learn to speak human, however most other animals that have done 40
this have never been able to make themselves heard by humans. The humans just don’t listen. Glow-worm, however, had not merely learned how to read, write and speak human, he had also learned how to project his voice. He could have been, had he wished, a public speaker. He was also an accomplished mimic and a ﬁrst class ventriloquist.
“I wasn’t going to say anything about the hat,” said the scientist, then he realised where the voice had come from. He stared at Glow-worm, open mouthed. “Go on then,” said Glow-worm. “Tell him it can talk, too.” The scientist’s open mouth opened wider. “Oh all right,” said Glow-worm, “I’ll tell him.” Glow-worm, imitating the scientist’s voice perfectly, projected into the telephone: “It is also wearing a hat, 41
and can talk. It appears to be extremely handsome and digniﬁed.” Glow-worm couldn’t hear what the scientist’s colleague had to say about this, but he could see the scientist turn pale. “No no,” said the scientist, “I didn’t say that. Really, it wasn’t me.” “No,” said Glow-worm in the scientist’s voice. “It was the pink elephant. I forgot to mention this elephant before. It’s got a hat too, but it can only speak with the aid of a megaphone. It oﬀered to do my laundry for me.” The scientist was deathly white now, his Nobel prize dreams dissolving around him. “I didn’t say that!” he cried into the phone, almost in tears now. “There is no pink elephant. It was the Glow-worm — it’s throwing its voice. . . hello? Professor Crumb? Are you there?” There was a clicking noise from the telephone. Professor Crumb had clearly lost interest. With a terrible wail, the scientist dropped the phone. Then he stared at Glow-worm, ﬁrst in wonder, then with anger. “How,” he cried, “how is it possible?” “It’s not,” said Glow-worm cheerfully. “You’re just going mad.” This suggestion stunned the scientist. He looked hard at Glow-worm. What the worm had said, or seemed to have said, was dangerously close to being a logical explanation. Not a very nice one for the scientist, mind you. He looked hard at his own hands. Then he spun around, and ran out of the room. Very sensibly, he had decided to go and take his blood pressure.
Alone now, apart from the (rather complacent) other specimens, Glow-worm turned his mind to escape. The jam jar he was imprisoned in was far too solid for him to break out of, but it was only sealed with a thin piece of cloth and an elastic band. The same was true of the other specimen jam jars. Probably this was to enable the animals inside to be able to breathe without the scientist (who didn’t seem to be a very practical chap) having to drill holes in an actual jam jar lid. This gave Glow-worm an idea. He had always thought that, theoretically, if he could concentrate really hard he could make his glow bigger and stronger, and actually make it heat up. If he could make it heat up enough, he might be able to burn his way through the cloth seal. Carefully he inched his way to the top of the jar, and began some serious glowing. He glowed, and he glowed, straining as hard as he could. “Do you mind turning that light down?” called out the portly worm, “some of us are trying to sleep.” Glow-worm ignored him, and glowed all the harder. Eventually, he began to smell a burning smell. Then a little dark ring began to appear in the cloth just above his glow. The plan was working! One last strain of his glow-muscles, and a hole began to appear. At last, the hole was big enough for him to pass through. Glow-worm sighed with relief, relaxed his glow down to normal levels and crawled out. “What under earth do you think you’re doing?” cried the portly worm, who had been watching Glow-worm suspiciously.
“I’m oﬀ,” said Glow-worm. “Would you and your friends like to come too?” “Are you oﬀering to feed us?” asked the portly worm. Several of the other worms had woken up now, and were listening to the conversation in a vague, dreamy sort of way. “No,” said Glow-worm. “Any food you’ll have to ﬁnd yourself.” “What about sleep?” said one of the other worms. “Would we get some sleep?” “Well,” said Glow-worm. “You’d get some — but the thing with adventures is you can never guarantee these things.” “Can we take our jars with us?” asked another worm. This was starting to seem a bit silly to Glow-worm. “Of course not,” he said. “Now, do you want to come or not?” “No jars?” said the portly worm. “Finding our own food? No guarantee of sleep? Why under earth would we
want to go with you?” “Well,” said Glow-worm, “you won’t be dissected, for one thing.” “So?” said the portly worm. “That’s still better than anything you have to oﬀer.” “Mad,” thought Glow-worm. “All right,” he said, “I’ll leave you here. I’m going to sail around the world.” “Mad,” thought the other worms, then they went back to sleep. Carefully, Glow-worm made his escape, inching across the room as quickly as he could. Suddenly the door opened, and there before him was. . . the scientist! “You’re out of your jar!” he cried. “How is that possible?” “It’s just your imagination,” said Glow-worm, still hoping to bluﬀ it out. But the scientist didn’t look puzzled any more. He looked angry. “I don’t think you’re a ﬁgment of my imagination,” he said. “But I’m going to ﬁnd out what you are.” He reached down and grabbed the escaping explorer. “Time,” said the scientist, “to do some dissecting,” and he thrust Glow-worm deep into his trouser pocket. This didn’t suit Glow-worm’s plans at all, but at least he now knew what to do. If his glow could burn its way out of a jam jar, it could burn its way out of a scientist’s trouser pocket. He concentrated, he strained, he heaved and he glowed. Before long there was a distinct smell of something burning. “Odd,” said the scientist, “I must have left the toaster on.” 45
Glow-worm concentrated harder. The scientist’s pocket began to smoke. This time the scientist said: “Ow,” then he said: “my trousers are burning!” As Glow-worm plopped out of the hole he had made in the pocket, he saw the giant scientist running oﬀ in search of water, a thin stream of smoke coming from under his lab coat. “Bye,” said Glow-worm, being just a little bit cheeky, then he crawled oﬀ to ﬁnd his way out, and back to the good ship Glow-boat.
Chapter 7 Carl
While Freddy was being menaced by a giant ﬁshingboy, and Glow-worm was ruining the career of (and escaping from) a sinister scientist, Sydney had an adventure too. His was perhaps less dangerous than the other adventures, but no less interesting for that. And, as it turned out, this adventure was very important to the voyage as a whole. It happened like this. Sydney crawled on, looking for an anchor or information (or both), when he started to feel a bit peckish. One or two nice, fat, juicy ﬂies would make him happy. But ﬁrst he had to spin a web. The best webs, as it happens, are in bushes. Lots of ﬂies ﬂy past bushes, and a hungry young spider, like Sydney, loves nothing so much as a nice thick bush (to attract the ﬂies), with a couple of bare twigs or branches sticking out (to spin a web between). So when he saw a very bushy (orange) bush with two ivory coloured and completely bare 47
branches sticking out in front, he felt very pleased with himself. Now, if Sydney had known a bit more about the country he was in, he might have been a little suspicious of a big, orange bush, with leaves that looked a lot like hair, and two branches that looked a lot like horns. But everything in this new world was strange to him, and it never occurred to him that this was anything other than a bush. So he began to spin his web. It wasn’t a particularly good web (Sydney was a little out of practice), but it was good enough. The local ﬂies, Sydney knew, didn’t stand a chance. As soon as they drifted towards the bush, they would be caught in his snare, and soon after that dinner would be served. Time to wait. The next question was, should he wait on the web (and possibly frighten the ﬂy oﬀ) or wait in the bush (and risk giving the ﬂy a chance to escape before he could get to it). It was a tough decision. In the end, Sydney decided on the bush. So Sydney sat in the bush, and waited. Then he waited some more. Then he yawned, and waited a bit more. Then, of course, he fell asleep. It was the delicate vibrating of the bush that ﬁnally woke him up. He looked, and saw that a ﬂy had indeed been caught in his web. But what had made the bush vibrate? “Oi,” said the bush. “Wee creepy-crawly. I think you’ve caught one. Now, you can get this sticky muck oﬀ my face and clear oﬀ.” Sydney jumped. It was a talking bush! Surely that was impossible? Had he been Freddy, he would have simply assumed that talking bushes were perfectly normal here 48
and gone about his day. If he had been Glow-worm he would have been excited about discovering a mystery to solve. But being Sydney, he just became very frightened. “Aargh,” he said. “Er, sorry. . . I didn’t mean any offence, er, honestly. I’ll go. I’ll take my little snack, clear up my web and go. Please don’t be angry, there’s a nice bush.” The bush laughed. “That’s a new one,” it said. “Bush? Do you think I’m a bush then, wee creepy-crawly?” This puzzled the spider. “You mean you’re not?” “Och no. I’m a coo. I’m a muckle coo.” Sydney was not completely satisﬁed with this explanation. “You’re a what?”
The bush sighed. “It’s the accent, isn’t it? Look, I don’t usually talk to creepy-crawlies, a coo has his dignity, after all, but I’ll tell you my life story if you’ll clear this muck oﬀ my face. What do you say?” This seemed reasonable to Sydney. So he started cleaning up his web (after putting the ﬂy somewhere safe for later). As he cleaned, he started to notice some interesting things about the bush. Firstly, what had looked like twigs before now looked rather like horns: big, long horns. Secondly, what he had taken to be hairy looking leaves were in fact hairs. Thirdly, this bush (if that is what it was) had legs. It wasn’t a bush at all. It was a bull. A very big, very hairy orange bull. When it said coo what it meant was cow. “You’re a cow!” he said. “You’re a big cow!” “Aye,” said the big cow. “That’s what I said. I’m a muckle coo. From Scotland” Scotland? Sydney didn’t have a brilliant grasp of geography, but this sounded wrong to him. “But what are you doing here?” said Sydney. The hairy bull snorted. “I was about to tell you. Now, do you want to hear my life story or don’t you?” “Yes please.” “Then shut up,” said the hairy bull. “Now then. I was born a long way from here, way across the big sea in the highlands of the bonny land of Scotland. Where I come from, all coos are big, bushy if you like, and proud. And we do, I grant you, look a bit diﬀerent to the coos in other places, them being funny little short haired, short horned, big eyed, rather stupid things. So you see, we highland 50
coos are diﬀerent. And being diﬀerent was the problem.” “Why was it a problem?” “I was coming to that, wee creepy crawly. My herd belonged to a human who was a bit strapped for cash. Cash is something humans seem to like getting their hands on, a bit like food is to us except that it tastes awful. So when this other human came along and oﬀered to buy us all, he agreed. The other human bought us all, me, my brothers and sisters, all my wives and shipped us out to this enormous great place. Seems he wanted to make a ﬁlm.” “A. . . what?” said Sydney. “Human pictures that move. Bit ignorant, aren’t you wee creepy-crawly? Aye, moving pictures. Seems he wanted to include us in his ﬁlm. Said we’d be playing the parts of buﬀalo in a ﬁlm about the Wild West. Seems we were cheaper than the real thing, and he was the kind of human known as a cheap-skate.” “A buﬀalo?” “Aye. Humans round here keep calling me a buﬀalo because they think I’m a bison.” Sydney was puzzled. “Then why don’t they call you a bison?” “No idea. Anyway, here I was, with my whole family, trapped in this place where the grass is all brown and unpleasant, not like the tasty green stuﬀ we have at home. We started ﬁlming, and basically we didn’t have much to do except stand around or be chased by humans on horses. I don’t know what that was all about, but at least the horses seemed to be having a good time. Eventually the humans ﬁnished nearly the whole ﬁlm, except for one bit they only needed one of us for. So my family was sent 51
home, and I wasn’t.” “That’s a bit rough,” said Sydney. “It certainly is, my wee creepy-crawly friend. I had one scene to do: a death scene. I’m not a bad actor, if I do say so myself, but it’s not really what I want to do with my life. I’m more for the quiet, retired, ruminant existence, if you know what I mean.” Sydney didn’t, but he nodded thoughtfully anyway, so as not to give oﬀence.
“Anyway,” said the bull, “ﬁlm over, what do you suppose happened next?” “What?” “Nothing. Not a thing. They stuck me in a barn with a few bails of hay, and expected me to hang around just in case they need me again.” 52
Sydney was shocked. “That’s a bit rude,” he said. The bull snorted. “You’re telling me. Too rude. So I said to myself, nuts to this, I’m oﬀ, and I left. Broke out, headed for the coast.” “You’re trying to get home?” “I am. There’s supposed to be a herd of my kind up North somewhere, but home is where I really want to go.” “Across the ocean?” “Aye, well, when I ﬁgure out how. That’s the plan, anyway.” The bull sighed deeply. “Not working too well at the moment, though.” This bull was obviously upset. Plus he was a traveller. He made Sydney think, and what Sydney thought was Glow-worm. “I’ve crossed the ocean,” said Sydney. “Oh aye?” said the bull. “Came on a human ship, did you?” “No no,” said Sydney, as casually as he could. “I’m a crew member on an animal ship. The captain is a glow worm, and we’re sailing around the world.” The bull looked surprised, as well he might, even under all his hair. “Wee creepy crawlies like you? Sailing round the world? By yourselves?” “I know it sounds odd. I thought it was impossible myself, at ﬁrst. But we’ve come a long way. Glow-worm, that’s our captain, well, he’s a bit eccentric. But he’s clever. He’s very clever. He might be able to help you.” “Are you saying I can come with you?” said the bull. Sydney wasn’t, of course. The bull was, not to put to ﬁne a point on it, rather too large for the good ship Glowboat (unless he’d wanted to eat it). But Sydney felt sorry for the bull, so he could hardly say no, could he? “Well, 53
I’d have to check with Glow-worm ﬁrst, of course.” “Right,” said the bull, cheerfully, “let’s do it then.” So oﬀ they went, Sydney hanging from the bull’s horn and telling him which way to go. “My name’s Sydney, by the way,” said Sydney. “Oh aye? I have a name too. I’m Carl, Carl the Coo.” Thus it was that Carl the highland cow came, more or less, to join Glow-worm’s crew. Before they reached the good ship Glow-boat, however, they had one more little adventure. As they made their way through the trees they heard the sound of something large (although not as large as Carl) crashing through the bushes. “Sounds like a human chasing something,” said Carl. Sydney, who hadn’t a clue what it sounded like, said nothing. He was, however, quite surprised at what he saw next. It was Freddy, running and hopping along for dear life, with a human sized ﬁshing hook over one shoulder and a human sized human running after him. “Odd,” said Carl, “humans don’t usually chase frogs. Funny looking frog too. Very green.” “He’s a friend of mine!” cried Sydney. “We must save him!” Carl shrugged his enormous hairy shoulders. “Okay,” he said, and he put down his head and bellowed. The human sized human chasing Freddy was, of course, the ﬁshing boy. If you remember, the ﬁshing boy had caught Freddy and stuﬀed him into his bait bucket. In the bait bucket were all the ﬁshing boy’s spare ﬁshing hooks. They were exactly the sort of things Freddy needed to use as an anchor for the good ship Glow-boat. 54
Back in his pre-world travelling days, Freddy would have been too terriﬁed to think by this stage. But now, after associating with Glow-worm, he was too terriﬁed to do anything else. So he thought and he thought and he thought, and as soon as the ﬁshing boy opened the bucket to take a look at his prize Freddy grabbed a hook, leaped out and ran for his life. “Hey, live bait,” called the angry ﬁshing boy, “come back!” The boy was a very big boy, and Freddy was a very small frog. Normally Freddy, an expert hopper, could have outrun the human and escaped easily. But carrying the heavy hook he was a lot slower than usual. It was just as the boy was about to catch him again that the really strange thing happened: a big orange bush 55
suddenly turned into a giant monster and roared at the boy. Even stranger, from on top of the monster came a familiar voice. “Freddy, up here, quick!” It was Sydney. Freddy stopped in surprise. “What are you doing on top of a bush-monster?” “He’s not a bush monster, he’s a bull.” “Oh, I see. What are you doing on top of a bull?” “Stop asking silly questions, and hop up here. His name’s Carl, and he’s our friend.” So Freddy hopped. He didn’t know how Sydney had come to acquire this strange new acquaintance, but when you are being pursued by an angry ﬁshing boy (who wants to use you as live bait) having a giant, hairy, horned friend who can roar like a monster is a good thing. The ﬁshing boy stopped chasing Freddy and stared in horror at Carl! “Aargh!” he cried. “It’s a buﬀalo!” and he turned tail and ran. He crashed through bushes, splashed through the stream and disappeared into the trees. “Hello,” said Freddy. “I’m Freddy.” “Hello,” said Carl, “I’m Carl.” “Why did he call you a buﬀalo?” asked Freddy. “Because he thinks I’m a bison,” said Carl. “Oh,” said Freddy. “That makes sense.” “Does it?” said Sydney. United at last, the two small animals told each other of their adventures, and Carl told his life story again (for Freddy’s beneﬁt). When they had all ﬁnished, Freddy said: “I wonder what Glow-worm’s been up to?”
“Let’s ﬁnd out,” said Sydney, and with their giant new friend to protect them the animals made their way back through the trees, down towards the beach and to the good ship Glow-boat. The captain himself had just arrived. “Hello there,” said Glow-worm, gazing in admiration up at Carl. “You’re a highland cow, aren’t you?” “I am that,” said Carl, “most animals round here don’t know that. You are a clever wee beasty, aren’t you?” “I have my moments,” said Glow-worm, modestly. And so the animals introduced each other, and Carl was formally sworn in as a member of the crew. After this Carl mentioned something that had been bothering him. “Your wee boat,” he said, glancing suspiciously down at the little collection of leaves and nuts, no bigger than 57
his foot, in which his new friends planned to complete their voyage. “Well, your wee boat is a wee bit, well, a wee bit wee, isn’t it? Will it do?” “Yes,” said Glow-worm, “but don’t worry. Thanks to Freddy we have an anchor again.” “It’s not that,” said Carl, “it’s more that I think it might be a little small for me. How am I going to come with you?” “Don’t worry,” said Glow-worm cheerfully, “I’ll think of something!” And with that, he crawled oﬀ to bed.
Chapter 8 Over-land
The next morning the animals woke up bright and early. Carl had found a warm spot to sleep near some tasty bushes — not as tasty as the yummy green grass of home, but not bad all the same. Sydney and Freddy had slept poorly; Sydney was worried about how they were going to take Carl with them on board the good ship Glow-boat; Freddy was having nightmares about enormous ﬁsh and even more enormous ﬁshing-boys. Glow-worm slept like a log. When he awoke, his ﬁrst task was to check on his crew. “Everyone here?” he said. “All present and correct? Jolly good. Let’s go then!” Sydney was still rubbing the sleep out of one of his pairs of eyes, and Freddy was trembling slightly. “What about Carl?” said Sydney.
“Aye,” said Carl, “what about me? How’re you going to include me in your voyage?” “By thinking laterally, or rather, upside down.” “Oh,” said Freddy. “I see.” Then he added: “What does that mean?” Glow-worm unpacked his favourite chart, and started studying it. “Simply this,” he said. “We can travel over land for a little while. That way, instead of Carl having to get on board Glow-boat, Glow-boat can get on board Carl.” The other animals looked at each other. Then they all looked at Carl. Carl looked at Glow-worm. “Aye,” he said. “I suppose that could work. What do we do after that?” “Think of something else!” declared Glow-worm with good cheer. “I’m always full of good ideas.” Carl nodded, but he still looked a bit dubious. “Alright, mighty land cruising non-bison,” said Glowworm, with gravity. “Pick up the good ship Glow-boat, and let us begin the next stage of our journey!” Carl shrugged his enormous shoulders. “Okay,” he said, “why not?” Then, with a mighty heave of his great horns he tossed the little ship onto the top of his head. “Which way, captain?” he asked. “Inland,” said Glow-worm. “In the direction of the rising sun.” So that was what they did. With the good ship Glow-boat mounted on the head of huge, hairy, horned Carl there was little danger from other animals. The main problem was humans. Faced with one or two, the animals had nothing to fear — one or two humans would simply run away. But lots of humans might try to capture Carl, and then they would all be in trouble. 60
So Glow-worm, Sydney, Freddy and their fake buﬀalo made their way through quiet, unfrequented pathways until they passed out of the trees and into the open plains. Sleeping under the stars they refreshed themselves until it was time to walk on. From the plains they passed into the desert, which was not so much fun. Carl suﬀered from lack of grass, and they all suﬀered from lack of water. After many weeks of travelling, they paused to admire a vast canyon the likes of which even Glow-worm had not imagined. “That is awe-inspiring,” said Glow-worm, who was aweinspired. “Wow,” said Sydney. “Ooh er,” said Freddy. “We’ve got bigger ones than that in the highlands,” said Carl.
They moved on, and again water (and grass) became plentiful, much to the relief of everyone. On they travelled, through the hills and the mountains, into cool new forests and towards the coast once more. Here they hit a problem. “You think we should avoid people, don’t you?” said Carl. “Yes,” said Glow-worm. “I think that would be best.” “And what do you call that?” “It’s a city,” said Glow-worm. “A huge city. A massive city. It stretches from horizon to horizon, and it lies between us and the coast.” “So it’s a problem,” said Sydney. “It’s an impossible problem.” “Not at all,” said Glow-worm. “It is a challenge.” The city was still some distance away, but already it was becoming hard to hide Carl — there just weren’t enough trees or bushes anywhere. As they got close to the road, things became even more challenging.
“Let’s ﬁnd somewhere to hide,” said Glow-worm, and we can have a rest and a think.” “How’re we going to get past the city?” said Sydney. “That’s one of the things we’re going to think about,” said Glow-worm. “And if we do get past, how’re we going to ﬁnd the harbour?” said Sydney. “That’s another of the things we’re going to think about,” said Glow-worm. “And if we do ﬁnd the harbour, how’re we going to get Carl across the ocean?” “That too is something we’re going to have to think about,” said Glow-worm. “Actually, we might have to have a really big think. If you need me, I shall be in the cabin. Thinking.” As it turned out, thinking wasn’t necessary after all. While they were resting and thinking Freddy (who was really only capable of resting) fell asleep and Carl (who was very tired after walking for hundreds and hundreds of miles with a boat on his head) fell asleep too. Sydney stayed awake to think about all their problems, but in the end had to give up. He couldn’t think of any solutions, so he fell asleep too. In the little cabin, curled up in bed, Glow-worm too was asleep. He did a lot of thinking while he was asleep. Something would come to him, he was sure of that. And something did come to him. It wasn’t the idea he was expecting. It was a thing. It was several things, in fact. Several human things. He woke to feel Sydney shaking him. The spider looked worried. “What’s up?” said Glow-worm. 63
“I think we’ve been spotted,” said Sydney.
“What makes you think that?” said Glow-worm. Sydney showed him. Surrounding Carl, who was still sitting nervously behind a small bush with the good ship Glow-boat on his head, were people. Lots of people. Some of the people had cameras (some of the camera’s had the letters TV written on them); some of the people were wearing uniforms with the words City Zoo printed on them, and these people had big nets. Some of the people (and this made even Glow-worm a bit nervous) were carrying guns. “Whoops,” said Glow-worm. “I think we overslept.” They were also surrounded by cars and small trucks. Glow-worm had thought the bush they were hiding behind was far enough from the road for them not to be seen. He had clearly got this wrong. 64
Someone, driving along, had spotted them, and stopped. He had phoned someone else, who had come along to see too. Meanwhile another person driving along had seen them, stopped and phoned someone else. While this was happening yet another person had phoned the police, who had phoned the zoo. A few people seemed to have phoned the television companies and the newspapers as well. This whole process would seem to have repeated itself several times, for now, looking down from his boat on top of a cow, Glow-worm could see a veritable ocean of people. There were big people and small people, girl people and boy people, old people and young people, oﬃcial people and unoﬃcial people, police people and zoo people, armed people and scared people. All the people with cameras were taking photographs. All the television news people were making ﬁlms of themselves. The people with nets and zoo uniforms were edging closer, and the people with guns were trembling slightly. “Look!” cried a voice in the crowd, “I think the buffalo’s seen us.” “Nobody move!” shouted the chief zoo-person, and everyone with a gun moved. A dozen or more gun barrels were now pointing at Carl’s head and the good ship Glow-boat. “Right,” said Glow-worm. “Here’s the plan: run for it!” So Carl ran. He put his head down, bellowed for eﬀect, and ran as fast as his hairy legs could carry him. Several hundred people screamed, and tried to get out of the charging bull’s way. Several guns ﬁred simultaneously. No-one was hurt (which was lucky), but several 65
people were severely embarrassed (which was not). “Which way?” panted Carl. “Follow the road!” said Glow-worm. “Head for the buildings.” “Why?” said Carl. “Why not?” said Glow-worm. And so Carl the highland cow, still with a boat on his head (containing three passengers) bolted down the freeway towards the vast buildings of the great human city. Around him vans and cars and buses (and one very surprised looking cyclist) swerved to avoid the mighty horns. With no time to read the road signs (or to make sure he was on the right side of the road) the mighty bovine galloped along.
Car horns bellowed, tyres and brakes squealed and police sirens blared. There was a whole convoy of irate and angry humans following by now, and for every car Carl caused to swerve oﬀ the road or bump into another car the convoy got longer. No-one was having any fun, except possibly Glow-worm who stared in fascination at all the wonders around them. All the humans were shouting (or even screaming), and even the ones who weren’t angry looked scared enough to be dangerous. Close behind came a van from the zoo, with two netwielding humans hanging precariously from its side. “Drive it towards the harbour!” one of them cried. “Good idea,” said Glow-worm to Carl, “let them drive us towards the harbour.” Carl wondered brieﬂy why the humans wanted to drive him to the harbour, but there was no time to worry about it, so he did as he was told and ran on. Past news stands and shop fronts, under the shadows of skyscrapers, past the museum and through the ﬁnancial districts Carl ran, becoming more and more tired as he did so. All the time he tried to work out which way the humans wanted him to go, so that he could go that way without them having to do anything to him. As he and his passengers ran through a park in which there was an enormous fountain and lots of beautiful, shady trees, Carl heard Glow-worm say: “what a pity we can’t stop to explore.” But of course, they couldn’t, so Carl ran on. They passed a tour bus pulling up outside a department store. All the human tourists leaped from the bus, took photographs of them, then leaped back into the bus.
Suddenly they were within sight of water, and heading down to the harbour. There was a reception committee of armed policemen and news photographers waiting for them. “What now?” said Carl. Glow-worm thought. “If we were human, I’d say we should put our hands up.” “No hands,” said Carl. “Any other ideas?” But no ideas were forthcoming, so the animals waited. The sun shone on the glimmering water of the harbour, and boats of many shapes and sizes bobbed up and down before the buildings. Strangely, Glow-worm felt as if the water was calling him. He was anxious to be oﬀ. “I have a plan,” said Carl. “I’ll try to toss your wee boat into the harbour, then I’ll distract the humans while you slip away. That way you can get on with your voyage.” “But what about you?” said Sydney. “Och, I’ll be all right. The worst they can do is put me in another ﬁlm. I can live with that.” “But we were going to take you with us!” said Sydney. “Aye, well, that was never really going to happen, was it?” Meanwhile Glow-worm was scanning the harbour. Something had attracted his attention. There was a particularly interesting boat, a boat with a particularly interesting smell and particularly interesting letters on its side. “Can anyone other than me read what it says on the side of that ship?” asked Glow-worm. Freddy had been trying to learn to read, one alphabet letter at a time. So far he had got as far as A is for Apple. “Er,” said Freddy. “Does it say Apple?” “No,” said Glow-worm. 68
“Er, does it say some other sort of fruit?” “No.” “Er. . . ” said Freddy.
Sydney interrupted. “Why doesn’t Glow-worm tell us what it says, since he obviously wants to?” “It says,” said Glow-worm, “Taronga Zoo; that’s in Sydney, Australia.” “Oh aye,” said Carl. “Is that good?” “I think,” said Glow-worm, “that you should edge slowly towards it. Slowly, mind you. We don’t want the humans to get nervous and shoot you. I think the two zoo humans with the net came from that ship. I wonder if they’ve got any friends on board?”
It wasn’t at all clear to Glow-worm’s colleagues what his plan was, but they did as he said anyway. Carl edged slowly towards the boat. The crowd of humans stirred. “Stop that buﬀalo!” shouted one of the policemen. “No no,” said one of the zoo humans (the shorter, fatter one), “that’s actually the way we want it to go. Try to drive it on-board.” Unfortunately the humans were nervous. Fortunately though, they were not nervous enough to shoot, at least not quite. The two zoo humans and the braver of the policemen crept towards Carl, holding their nets and guns out in front of them. Carl walked slowly away from them, in the direction of the zoo ship. This ship was quite large, with a big deck. The deck was very deep, however, and there were crates on board. There was one very small cabin, and towards this Glowworm cast his eye. Carefully, the adventurous worm threw his highly trained voice in the direction of the ship, saying, with a perfect New World accent: “Come ashore and help us for a minute, please,” he said. The two zoo humans with the nets looked at each other. “Who said that?” said the short fat one. “You did,” said the tall thin one. “Did I?” The third zoohuman appeared from inside the cabin of the boat, net in hand. He was older than the other two, with thick glasses and slightly scraggly grey hair. He ran down the gang plank towards them, squinting a bit. Glow-worm threw his voice again. “Good work,” he said, sounding exactly like the short, fat zoo human. “Help us drive the buﬀalo on board, then cast oﬀ the boat.” 70
The new zoo human squinted at his colleagues. “Are you sure about that?” he shouted. “What?” said the ﬁrst two zoo humans. “Yes!” said Glow-worm. The new zoo human shrugged his shoulders. “Okay,” he said. He came towards Carl tentatively, holding his net out protectively in front of him. But he need not have worried. Carl was surprisingly easy to drive on board. “Quick,” said Glow-worm, “untie the boat and cast oﬀ!” “Shouldn’t there be someone on board?” said the zoo human. “I’m on board!” said Glow-worm. So the zoo human shrugged his shoulders again, and untied the boat. At once the engines started, and the ship pulled away from the harbour. On the shore the three zoo humans stared at each other, then at the departing zoo boat. “Who’s driving the boat?” said the short, fat zoo human. “You are,” said the old zoo human. “Aren’t you?” “How could I be driving the boat if I’m right here?” This was a good question. At once, the three zoo humans ran around in helpless circles. The Chief of Police approached them. “Well done, men. Thank you for saving us from the mad buﬀalo. Excellent work.” As the Chief of Police walked away to address the crowd of spectators, the tall thin zoo human hissed in his colleague’s ear. “What about the boat? We’ve lost the boat! Not to mention the animal.” 71
The short fat zoo human scowled at him. “Then let’s hope nobody notices. Come on. Let’s get to the zoo. I need a coﬀee.” And so, the good ship Glow-boat, mounted on a cow riding on a stolen zoo boat, sailed away from the New World. On board, Carl, Sydney and Freddy were jubilant. “Well done, Glow-worm!” said Sydney. “I knew you could do it!” said Freddy. “Aye, very impressive,” said Carl. “You certainly are a clever wee beasty.” “Thank you all very much,” said Glow-worm. “Just one question: who actually is driving the boat?” The animals looked at each other. They looked at the cabin. They looked at each other again. “We’d better investigate,” said Glow-worm. “Well don’t look at me,” said Carl. “I can’t get into that wee cabin.” Carefully Carl put the good ship Glow-boat onto the deck, and Glow-worm disembarked. “Right,” he said, “I’ll just go and explore. Anyone want to come too?” Sydney and Freddy looked at each other. “Is it safe?” said Freddy. “No idea,” said Glow-worm, cheerfully. “That’s part of the fun!” “I’ll come,” said Sydney, reluctantly. “I’ll stay here,” said Freddy, “to, er, look after Carl.” Carl gave him a look. “Right,” said Glow-worm, “let’s go and meet the pilot.” He crawled oﬀ, through the open door of the cabin. Pausing brieﬂy to count his legs (just in case) Sydney followed him. 72
There were really only two rooms inside the cabin, and one of them was the wheel room. The door to this room was tightly closed. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the gap at the bottom of the door was easily big enough for the two small animals to crawl through. Once again, Glow-worm led the way. Once again, Sydney counted his legs before following. They passed under the door, and there an extra-ordinary sight met their eyes. “G’day, mate,” said the pilot.
It was a kangaroo. It was a tall, cheerful looking grey kangaroo. “Name’s Skipper,” said the kangaroo. “Saw your adventures on the dock. Fancy a lift?” Glow-worm was impressed. An animal after his own heart. With Sydney’s help he swung up onto the ship’s wheel, so he could look Skipper in the eye. “Hello,” said Glow-worm. “I’m Glow-worm, and this is Sydney. Interesting to see a kangaroo driving a human boat. From what I’ve read, that’s quite unusual.” “Not the humans’ idea,” said the kangaroo. “I’ve been locked up in this ship for ages; they’ve been taking me to their local zoo. I was planning a prison break anyway, then I was going to take over the boat and steer it back to Australia. You blokes gave me the perfect diversion. Cheers for that, by the way.” “But how do you know how to drive a boat?” Sydney asked. “Kangaroo dreams,” said Skipper. “Cool, isn’t it?” “Australia,” said Glow-worm, thoughtfully. “That’s roughly the right direction. Can we come with you? We’re going around the world.” “Feel free,” said Skipper. “I’d appreciate the company.” “Jolly good,” said Glow-worm. “Come on deck, and meet the others.” And so Glow-worm’s crew expanded once more — he now had a spider, a frog, a highland cow, a kangaroo and two ships (one pre-loved). As the new ship, now to be known as Glow-boat II, sailed away from the New World, the travellers had one more wonder to see.
It was a statue. A giant statue of a woman, holding something aloft. The statue was standing on an island, and since it was growing dark as Glow-boat II sailed past, the animals were able to see the giant statue light up. The thing she was holding up in the sky began to glow. “Good grief!” said Glow-worm, suddenly. “She’s holding a Glow-worm!” “That’s odd,” said Freddy, “isn’t it?” “No,” said Glow-worm. “It is a sign. We have been given a sign. It proves we’re going to be successful.” And no one could argue with that.
Chapter 9 The Mysterious Magician
The good ship Glow-boat II sailed on across the eastern sea, its crew, for the most part, content. Carl and Skipper were perfectly happy, as long as they had food to munch on, and fortunately there was a lot of that on board. Glow-worm was a little concerned that using a human boat they had simply borrowed was cheating. He thought that perhaps they should re-launch the original Glow-boat and have the two ships sailing as separate ventures. But nobody agreed with him. Only Freddy was really unhappy. In fact, he was feeling rather left out. Wasn’t he the hero who had found the ship its new anchor? Yet this act of heroism had hardly been mentioned. Of course, they hadn’t needed the anchor since, but that was hardly the point. Freddy had once been Sydney’s best friend. Yet now Sydney seemed to spend most of his time talking to Carl, or Skipper. Almost as if he had forgotten about his froggy 77
pal. As for Glow-worm, he spent his time studying charts and checking the position of the Sun, none of which made any sense to Freddy. So Freddy felt a little lonely, and lonely frogs are sad frogs. Meanwhile Glow-worm declared that they had reached a part of the world known as The Mystic East. He also declared that they should probably try to ﬁnd land, as they were nearly out of food. The problem was Carl. Even more than Skipper, Carl had a big appetite. Plus, he had two stomachs to support (he was very proud of that fact). So what had seemed like a lot of food when they ﬁrst borrowed Glow-boat II was now diminishing rapidly. The crisis came at breakfast time several weeks after the animals had left the New World. “Feeling a wee bit peckish this morning,” said Carl to Sydney (who was in charge of the food). “Fancy some hay.” “Ah,” said Sydney, nervously. “Do you?” “Aye. Lucerne please. That’s my favourite.” “Er, sorry. No Lucerne left.” “Okay then. Orchard-grass please.” “No, sorry. Out of stock.” “Timothy?” “Um, well. . . ” “Och man, what have you got?” Sydney looked a bit embarrassed for a moment. “Straw?” “Straw? Yuck. Oh well, better than nothing. Straw please.” So Sydney gave him straw for his breakfast. In fact he gave him all the straw in the hold. Both pieces. 78
Carl was shocked. “More please.” “Sorry. That’s it.” “Oh. . . ” said Carl, suddenly very nervous. “Good morning mates,” said Skipper, bounding up to Sydney. “Where’s my morning straw?” “Er,” said Sydney. “It’s in Carl.”
This presented a problem. Very soon, both of Carl’s stomachs were rumbling. Glow-worm summarised the problem as brieﬂy as he could. “Carl is a ruminant,” he said. “Which means he needs to eat nearly all the time to survive.” “So,” said Sydney, “from Carl’s point of view, running out of food is a very bad thing.” “Absolutely,” said Glow-worm. “I’m hungry too,” said Skipper. “Carl ate my breakfast!” “I’m sure you are,” said Glow-worm. “But you can survive for a few days without breakfast; Carl can’t.” “Couldn’t he have some of our food?” said Freddy. 79
“What? Eat ﬂies?” said Carl. “You are a stupid wee beastie, aren’t you?” “Yeah,” said Skipper. “Get real.” “Don’t be silly,” said Sydney. “Freddy,” said Glow-worm, “both Carl and Skipper are herbivores. They can’t eat insects.” From that point Freddy, who had only been trying to help, kept quiet. “We must ﬁnd land, and we must ﬁnd it quickly,” said Glow-worm. “According to the charts, there are no islands for hundreds of miles.” “Oh great,” said Carl, over the sound of his rumbling stomachs. “But,” said Glow-worm, “according to ancient and unreliable legends of the Ottoman Empire, there are Mysterious and Dangerous islands in these parts, homes to Genies and other magical beings.” “Hang on,” said Sydney, “that’s all nonsense, surely?” “Oh yes, probably,” said Glow-worm, cheerfully, “But beggars can’t be choosers. So we either give up now, and bid farewell to our friends Carl and Skipper, or we set sail for the Islands of Legend. No choice really, is there?” So the intrepid Glow-worm and his crew set sail for the mysterious Islands of Legend. It took two days of hard sailing across troubled seas before Glow-boat II reached land. During that time Carl’s stomachs rumbled more and more, and his tongue started hanging out. Skipper’s stomach started to rumble too, and he started muttering things about how he should never have let Carl and the others come on board. There was even a time when the crew started to doubt Glow-worm’s ability to ﬁnd land at all. Truth to tell, even 80
Glow-worm himself started to be worried. Throughout all this time, Freddy remained silent. He was just a little bit too sad to speak. But nobody noticed. Eventually, however, land appeared: a sinister, dark island dominated by a tall, dark, craggy mountain. There were storm clouds gathered about the peak of the mountain, and it was an altogether scary place. But there was grass on the lower slopes of the mountain, and that was what they were after. “Perfect,” said Glow-worm. “Let me at that grass!” cried Carl, and as Glow-boat II reached shore, he and Skipper leaped overboard and ran (or hopped) for the patches of green. Sydney went too, just in case. Glow-worm went back to his charts, to double check for islands. If this really was an undiscovered island he wanted to name it. And that would mean thinking of a name, preferably one with the word glow in it. Freddy approached him cautiously.
“Can I help with anything?” said the frog. Glow-worm looked at him. He thought of the struggles Freddy was having with A is for Apple. Then he looked at the charts. Even he was having trouble with those. “I don’t think so, Freddy,” he said. “Why don’t you go and, er, play on deck?” Glow-worm turned his back on Freddy, and went back to the charts. Poor Freddy. Nobody needed him, or so it seemed. So he decided to leave. Here, on this mysterious and scary island, he would leave the crew. Probably, no-one would miss him; and if they did, if it made them sad, then that would serve them right. So Freddy packed all his possessions (there weren’t many of these) into a little parcel which he could carry on his shoulder. Then, checking that no-one was watching (they weren’t — Glow-worm was checking his charts, Sydney was oﬀ with Carl and Skipper, checking out the grass) he slipped quietly ashore, and made his way from the ship. Perhaps here, on this island, he would ﬁnd someone to appreciate him.
He walked a long way, up a mysterious path on the mysterious mountain. And there he did, indeed, ﬁnd someone who appreciated him, although perhaps not quite in the way he was hoping.
Some distance away, in the middle of a patch of what had been tall grass, Carl had managed to eat his ﬁll. “Och, that’s nice,” he said. “Quality tucker,” said Skipper, greatly relieved. “Nice ﬂies, too,” said Sydney, who’d been having a little snack himself. Satisﬁed, and no longer hungry, the three animals headed back to Glow-boat II, where they found Glow-worm conﬁdent and cheerful. They asked him why. “I believe this island to be unknown, and therefore unnamed,” he declared. “Therefore we have the right to name it. So I declare that this island shall henceforth be known as the island of Glow-grass.” “That’s a daft name,” said Carl. “I think it should be called Carl Island.” “No way,” said Skipper. “El Skippo, that’s the name.” “Excuse me a moment,” said Glow-worm, slightly disgruntled. “Who’s in charge of this expedition?” “Me!” declared Skipper, cheerfully. “No you’re not!” “Well, I’m in charge of the boat, anyway.” “The boat,” declared Glow-worm with dignity, “is not the expedition.” The animals argued on; and none of them noticed that someone was missing.
* * * Meanwhile, the missing someone was exploring the island, and already beginning to regret his decision to leave. There wasn’t much for a young frog to enjoy up this mountain, apart from the occasional ﬂy. But Freddy didn’t want to admit defeat just yet. Maybe further up the path there would be something for him. Rounding another bend, Freddy came upon a cliﬀ face. Not a little cliﬀ face that a frog might have hopped over or (at a pinch) climbed up, but a great, big cliﬀ face. Freddy looked up. Way too high to climb. Freddy looked back, to see how far he’d come from the ship, but he had gone too far around the mountain, and Glow-boat II was long out of sight. Suddenly he noticed that he wasn’t alone beneath the cliﬀ face. There was also a human standing and studying the rock. At once Freddy became afraid. He’d had a fair bit of experience with humans during his time with Glowworm, and it hadn’t inspired him with conﬁdence. Something about this human made Freddy even more nervous than humans usually did, and that was saying something. This human was very tall, with dark hair, dark eyes and a long, dark moustache. He was wearing a long, dark red robe decorated with symbols of stars and moons. On his head he wore a Chinese-style hat, very broad and very mysterious. The most sensible thing to do, Freddy decided, was to sneak away before the human noticed him and did something nasty. He was just about to do that when the human turned and looked at him. “Hello little frog,” said the human. 84
Freddy didn’t move. “Aren’t you going to say anything?” said the human. Freddy cowered. He had little experience of talking to humans, only of running away from them. But there was one question even Freddy had to ask. “How come you can speak animal?” said Freddy. “I have studied all the old texts — some very old indeed. I have studied under ancient masters, and learnt a thousand and one magical arts. I am a magician.” “A. . . a good magician?” said Freddy, hopefully. “I am a master of the Dark Arts,” said the human. “My name is Hieronymus Krulp, and I am a Wicked Magician.” “Oh dear,” said Freddy. “Do not be afraid, little frog,” said the Magician, bending down low to get a better view of Freddy, “or at least, do not be too afraid. I have need of you, and if you do good work for me, then I may even reward you.”
This sounded very odd to Freddy. What possible use could he be to a wicked magician, except possibly as an ingredient in some magic potion? “What,” said Freddy, “would happen if I said, no thank you, I don’t want to work for you?” The Magician raised himself up to his full height, and frowned ferociously. His eyes ﬂashed green for a moment. “Then,” he said, “I would turn you into a. . . ” Freddy’s little froggy heart was racing. “Into a. . . what?” Krulp the magician frowned even more. “Hmm,” he said. “If you were human I would turn you into a frog, but since you are a frog already. . . I have it! If you do not obey me then I will turn you into a human being!” Freddy screamed with terror. Then he stopped. “Hang on a minute,” he said. “That’s not possible, is it? You can’t to that.” “Oh can’t I?” said Krulp. “Very well, if you require a demonstration of my power. . . ” At once, Krulp’s eyes ﬂashed green again. He raised his hands to the skies and glowered at Freddy. Mystic incantations poured from his lips, and Freddy, watching nervously, suddenly began to feel a little queer. He started to feel taller. He started to feel a little less moist. He started to feel a little bit hairy. He started to feel as if he was wearing clothes. He started to feel as if his tongue was just a little stumpy thing, and that his ﬁngers and toes were losing their webbing. Worst of all, he started to feel decidedly warm blooded. Not a pleasant feeling at all for a proud young frog. Strangely, Krulp seemed to have shrunk. He was now only a head taller than Freddy. This at least was an improvement, although it further enforced in Freddy’s mind 86
the thought that he had indeed turned into something. Freddy looked at his hands. They were human hands. Freddy felt his face. It was a human face. By our standards, Freddy was not a particularly ugly human. From certain angles he would even have looked quite handsome. But to his froggy way of looking at things, he had turned into a monster. He looked at his hands again. “Oh no,” he cried. “I’m the wrong colour!” Krulp handed him a small make-up mirror. “Do you like it?” he said. “Like it?” screamed Freddy. He continued to stare at is new reﬂection in the mirror. Tentatively he reached a hand to the side of his head and touched his new ears. “Yuck!” he said. “Please change me back! I’ll do anything!” “Jolly good,” said Krulp. “If you promise to do this job for me, then I will turn you back.” “Okay, okay,” said Freddy. “I promise. Whatever it is, I’ll do it.” He had another look at the ears, and shuddered
again. “Good,” said Krulp. “But mark this, little frog: if I have to transform you again it will never be possible to change you back. You will be human forever. Do you understand?” “Er, probably not,” said Freddy. “Understanding’s not really what I’m good at.” Krulp scowled. He explained again to Freddy, this time slowly. “Okay,” said Freddy. “Now please change me back.” Krulp waved his hands in the air, and his eyes ﬂashed green again. Freddy felt himself shrinking, and his skin moistening. Suddenly the wicked magician was a giant again, and Freddy’s new ﬂippy-ﬂappy ﬂeshy ears were gone. Freddy looked at his hands and feet. They were green, webbed and sticky again. He was back. Suddenly the giant hand of the magician scooped him up, and lifted him up to eye level. “Now,” said Krulp, “it is time to begin your task. In this mountain, this dangerous and magical mountain, there is a secret object of great power and peril. Only I can use it, for only I know enough of magical arts. But I need you to get it for me.” “I managed to ﬁnd an anchor once, so I’m quite good at ﬁnding things.” “Shut up and listen. It is hidden in a vast cave which lies before us in this cliﬀ face.” “But why do you need me? Why don’t you go and get it yourself?” “Observe!” Krulp pointed to a little crack in the cliﬀ face. It was only just wide enough for a small animal, like Freddy, to ﬁt through. 88
Freddy didn’t particularly like caves. “It’s not. . . dark in there, is it?” “Of course it is!” shouted Krulp, “it’s a cave.” So Freddy the frog embarked upon his scariest adventure yet. Through a crack in the wall of the mighty cliﬀ of the mysterious island he went, into the vast (and, of course, terribly dark) chamber beyond. In the dim light from the tiny entrance he could see almost nothing; but he could feel a vast space before him, and an immense weight of rock suspended above his head. All in all, rather spooky, really.
“Er,” called Freddy, “what am I looking for?” “A vessel,” came the voice of Krulp from outside. “A jar, or a lamp or a bottle. It will be sealed. What ever you do, do not break the seal. Only I have the power to master the forces within.” “So I’m looking for a bottle, but I mustn’t take the top oﬀ?” “Yes.” 89
“Right. Er, it’s a bit dark in here. Is it all right if I just wait by the entrance until it gets a bit lighter?” “What? It’s not going to get lighter! It’s a cave! Just go into the cavern and ﬁnd that vessel!” Suddenly Krulp grabbed a stick and thrust it into the hole, pushing Freddy into the darkness, and over the edge of a precipice that he hadn’t even seen. “Ooh er!” said Freddy, as he fell into nothing. The nothing was very dark. Freddy ﬂailed around for a hand hold, or even a rocky surface he could cling to. Eventually he found one, and managed to stick to the wall of the chamber. “Er, I’m in now,” called Freddy. “Good,” said the voice of Krulp from outside. “Now ﬁnd that vessel. I am eager to possess it!” “I’ll get on to it straight away,” said Freddy. Then he added: “Boss,” as an afterthought. All he could see in this vast, dark world was the entrance of the cave, revealed as a tiny dot of light high above him. Even worse, he was starting to feel peckish. Suddenly a shadow ﬂew across the dot of light. Freddy acted on instinct, and his instinct said: ﬂying thing = ﬂy = breakfast .
So out ﬂew his incredibly long and incredibly sticky tongue to intercept the ﬂying meal. As always, his aim was true. Freddy’s marvellous tongue hit its target and stuck fast. This would have been very good news if the ﬂying thing had indeed been a ﬂy. Unfortunately the ﬂying thing was not a ﬂy. It was a bat, and just as big as he was. 90
Startled, the bat ﬂew away from the entrance into the deep dark of the cavern, dragging the unfortunate frog with it. Freddy felt his ﬁngers and toes lose their grip on the wall, then he was being pulled, by his tongue, into the deepest darkness he had ever not seen.
Frantic, he tried to pull his tongue in. This had the eﬀect of dragging him closer to the mysterious ﬂying thing, until he felt himself clinging to a small, furry body beneath the spread of two, large, ﬂapping leathery wings. At this point he realised that what he had caught was not a ﬂy. In fact, it wasn’t clear whether he had caught it, or it had caught him. He began to be terribly afraid. He wasn’t the only one. “Who in Cave are you?” said the bat. But Freddy, clinging on for his life, had nothing to say. 91
* * * Back at Glow-boat II all was not well. Carl and Skipper, who had been hungry for so long, were now complaining that they had eaten too much, and that they didn’t feel well. “I did tell you both to pace yourselves,” said Glowworm. “We did,” said Skipper. “I paced myself with Carl.” “Aye,” said Carl, “and I paced myself with Skipper.” “Honestly,” said Glow-worm, “that’s the kind of silly thing I’d expect Freddy to say. By the way, where is Freddy?” Everyone looked at Sydney. Sydney looked back, puzzled. “Wasn’t he with you?” he said to Glow-worm. “You know, I can’t remember. Anyone seen Freddy?” They all looked. Glow-worm and Sydney looked in the good ship Glow-boat; Skipper checked Glow-boat II ; Carl checked the shore. But there was no sign. “All his things have gone,” said Sydney, “and there’s a note.” “What does it say?” asked Glow-worm. “A is for Apple,” said Sydney. “He has gone,” said Glow-worm, gravely. “Why would he go?” said Carl. “Do you think,” said Sydney, “that I might have been neglecting him a bit?” “It is time,” Glow-worm declared, “to mount a rescue mission. There is not a moment to lose.”
Chapter 10 The Curious Cloud
It was time to rescue Freddy. Glow-worm organised his troops into single ﬁle, with himself leading the way (as was only right), then Carl (as the biggest and strongest member of the crew), then Skipper(as rear guard, because he had the biggest feet). Sydney hung from a web he had spun between Carl’s horns and, armed with a special pair of multi-noculars that Glow-worm had made for him, served as the lookout for the expedition. “Which way do you think he would have gone?” said Sydney. “Forwards,” said Glow-worm. “He would do what I would do, and head for that mountain.” “Why?” “Because it’s there! Come on, crew. Follow me.” It was a long and arduous trek for all the animals: for Glow-worm, because he was small and insisted on leading the way; for Carl and Skipper because they had much 93
longer legs than their leader, but still had to walk behind him; and for Sydney because he was worried about his friend. How could they ﬁnd so small a creature as Freddy amongst all this space? But Glow-worm, conﬁdence undaunted no matter how tired he became, pressed on. After a while they reached the rocky and winding path up the great mountain that Freddy himself had taken. They hunted around for any frog foot prints that might give them a clue, but they couldn’t see anything. “Any sign of Freddy from up there?” Glow-worm asked Sydney, as he was still riding on Carl’s horns. Sydney looked all around. “No, nothing. Are you sure Freddy came this way?” “Of course,” said Glow-worm. “Freddy is a trainee explorer, and this mountain is the single thing most worthy of exploring. He must have come this way.” “But Freddy isn’t clever enough to do any real exploring. . . ” “Nonsense. Or at least, he isn’t clever enough to realise that he isn’t clever enough, which comes to the same thing. Now, we must go where Freddy would have gone. We must go up.” Carl and Skipper stared up at the bleak, winding path as it climbed up the bleak, cloud shadowed mountain. They thought of how long it would take if Glow-worm led the way. They looked at each other. They looked at Glowworm. “Here mate,” said Skipper, scooping Glow-worm up in his paws and popping him onto Carl’s back, “have a lift!” “Hey,” said their disgruntled leader, “what are you doing?”
“Och, that’s all right, wee Glow-worm,” said Carl. “No need to thank me,” and before Glow-worm could protest any further, he headed oﬀ up the path at something approaching a gallop. “Wow,” said Skipper, struggling to keep up, “you’re keen.” As Carl hurtled up the path, Sydney kept looking for signs of his friend. There was nothing. Still, he was amazed at the pace Carl was setting.
“It is a little known fact,” said Glow-worm, resigned now to being a passenger, “that cows and bulls ﬁnd it easier to run uphill than downhill.” “Really?” said Sydney. “Yes. I think it’s something to do with the fact that their heads are lower than their bottoms.” Even though he had wanted to lead the rescue mission, Glow-worm had to admit that they were making better progress now. Only Skipper, whose head was not lower than his bottom, had any cause to complain as he tried to match the furious pace set by Carl. 95
Up into the clouds the animals rose, along the sinister path until they came to a cliﬀ face. The path carried on around it, but standing before the cliﬀ face was a man, a strange man staring so intently into a hole in the rock that he didn’t notice them coming. Given the sheer size and speed of Carl, this in itself was rather odd. “Oh no,” whispered Sydney, “a human. How are we going to get past him to look for Freddy?” Glow-worm watched the strange human carefully. “I don’t think we need to,” he said. “Look at his clothes. He’s wearing magician’s robes. You don’t see a lot of that sort of thing these days.” “So?” said Sydney, wishing that just for once Glowworm would explain things clearly. “Well,” said Glow-worm, “magicians are interested in frogs, aren’t they? Let’s see what he’s up to.” But it was too late for secrecy. The human had realised he was being watched, and spun round to face them. Of course, it was Krulp, and he was amazed at what he saw. “A whole menagerie!” he said in ﬂuent animal. “A highland cow and a kangaroo? You two aren’t native to this island. How did you get here?” Most of the animals were terriﬁed — a human who could speak animal! Glow-worm, of course, took it in his stride. “Hello,” he said, from the back of the quaking Carl, “I’m Glow-worm. How do you do?” Of course, Glow-worm couldn’t resist showing oﬀ, so he said this in human. Now Krulp looked impressed. “A clever animal? You might well be useful to me, especially since my previous employee failed me. I have a job for you.”
Carl and Skipper were huddled up together in fear, and Sydney was hiding behind Glow-worm, but they need not have worried. Krulp only had eyes for their leader. “You’re a magician, aren’t you?” said Glow-worm. “Well spotted,” said Krulp. “I am Krulp the Magnificent, Master of the Dark Arts!” He raised himself up to his full height, which was fairly impressive. “I have need of your services.” “Sorry,” said Glow-worm, “I don’t need a job right now. Thanks for the oﬀer. Where’s Freddy?” Krulp scowled. “Who is Freddy?” “He’s a frog. He’s a friend of ours, and we’re looking for him.” 97
Krulp laughed. “Your friend was working for me, but he failed me. He is now lost in the abyss. But you, clever worm, will help me. You and your spider friend will go into this tiny cave, and bring me the mystic bottle that lies within. You must not open it, for the power it contains will destroy any lesser being. You will bring it to me, and you will do it now!” Glow-worm scowled. “I hope you haven’t hurt Freddy. That would upset me, and I really don’t like being upset. I also don’t like being pushed around, and I never like being bullied.” Krulp looked less than impressed. “Are you trying to sound threatening, little worm?” he said. “Because if you are. . . ” But now Glow-worm had had enough. “Let me explain,” he said, this time in animal, for the beneﬁt of Sydney, Carl and Skipper. “You have done something to our friend; he is missing; it is your fault. Now you are trying to bully me. . . ” At this, Carl’s ears pricked up. “He did what? He’s got Freddy?” “That’s right,” said Glow-worm. “And I for one would like him back.” Krulp was furious. “You pathetic, insigniﬁcant worm!” he growled. “Yes,” said Glow-worm. “That’s me. Apart from the insigniﬁcant part, of course. And the pathetic bit.” Carl was beginning to snort. He glowered at Krulp, and lowered his horns. “You’re starting to get a bit pushy there, my wee mannie. You’d better watch your manners when talking to Glow-worm, or I’ll. . . ”
“You’ll what?” sneered Krulp. “Remember, I am Master of the Dark Arts, and as such have the power to control you by Mighty Enchantment!” “Oh aye?” said Carl, getting ready to charge, “then enchant this!” Unfortunately for Carl, Krulp did. The evil magician raised his hands, muttered several sinister spells, and pointed at Carl. “So, you like to associate with small animals, do you Cow? Then become one yourself!” At once the mighty bull began to shrink, and the look of surprise on his face made Krulp laugh. Now Carl was no bigger than Glow-worm and Sydney. “That’s odd,” said Glow-worm. “What do you mean, odd ?” squeaked Carl. “It’s up to you now, Skipper,” said Glow-worm, “get him!” “What?” said Skipper.
“You’re a kangaroo. You can box. Use Queensbury rules, of course, but quickly, before he can do anything to you too.” Skipper swallowed nervously. “You mean, ﬁght him?” But it was too late. Krulp waved his hands at Skipper, muttered his mystic words, and watched as the kangaroo shrank down to the size of a mouse. “Now,” said the triumphant Krulp, “you are all small; small and powerless.” But Glow-worm was not to be intimidated that easily. “Small? Yes! Powerless? No.” He concentrated as hard as he could until his glow became very hot indeed. Sydney and the miniature Skipper and Carl backed away in case they got burned. The ground around their leader started to steam.
“Impressive,” said Krulp. “But not impressive enough. A little shower should cool you oﬀ.” Again the mysterious magician waved his hands, muttered darkly, and pointed at Glow-worm. Suddenly a little 100
silver jug appeared above Glow-worm and began to pour cold water over him. For a moment the steam intensiﬁed, then it stopped altogether. The magical water continued to pour. Glow-worm sneezed. He was lost for words. Krulp laughed again. “Not so conﬁdent now? I thought not.” He turned to Sydney who tried, unsuccessfully, to look as if he wasn’t there. “And what are you going to try to do to me, spider? I notice that you are not poisonous. Are you going to oﬀer resistance?” Sydney shook his head vigorously. “No, no,” he said, quickly, “I’m pretty sure I surrender.” He put as many of his legs in the air as he could manage without falling over. Carl was fuming. “Och, you can’t just give up,” he squeaked. “Can’t you spin a web over him, or something?” Sydney told him to shush. Krulp reached down and picked Sydney up. “At least one of you has some sense,” he sneered as with his other hand he scooped up the soggy Glow-worm. Carl and Skipper he left where they were. “You will now ﬁnd me that bottle! If you are successful, I will restore your companions to their proper size. But if you fail me I will step on them! Their fate lies with you.” The very small bull and the very small kangaroo trembled. Krulp looked at Glow-worm. “To help you in your quest I will remove the enchantment from you alone.” He muttered two words (Glow-worm couldn’t quite hear what they were) and the magical watering can disappeared. “But remember, little worm, I can restore it at any time I please!” Stepping towards the cliﬀ face, Krulp thrust Sydney and Glow-worm into the tiny opening. “Know this,” he 101
said. “I will not tolerate failure! Your pathetic friends are counting on you! You have one hour. Then I will begin to step!” Inside the tiny cave opening things looked grim. Glowworm and Sydney could see (thanks to Glow-worm’s glow), that the cave itself was vast. Sydney couldn’t imagine ﬁnding anything in such a huge place. “Something’s wrong,” said Glow-worm. Sydney looked at him. “Er, yes. I know.” “Something’s not right,” Glow-worm said again. Sydney sighed. “Come on,” he said. “Lets get away from the entrance. That human’s probably watching to make sure we do as we’re told.” “As we’re told,” said Glow-worm, suddenly happy again. “That’s what’s wrong!” Sydney looked at him carefully. He couldn’t see anything to be happy about. “Jolly good,” he said, slowly. “What do we do now?”
“We have two things to ﬁnd,” said Glow-worm. “A bottle and a frog, not necessarily in that order. Then we will see what we will see! Follow me!” Glow-worm crawled to the edge of the chasm, and peered into the gloom. “On second thoughts,” he said, “we will need your web to get down. I’ll follow you.” So Sydney span a web and together the two animals descended into the darkness. “Can you make your glow a bit brighter?” said Sydney. “Not without burning the web, and that wouldn’t be a very good idea.” “But where are we going?” “Down! We don’t need to be able to see to do that!” Further down went Sydney and Glow-worm, into the unknown. All was quiet around them, save for the occasional sound of dripping water. It was unnerving. All Sydney could see was himself and Glow-worm and the end of the web. There was no sign of the ground, and now no sign of the entrance tunnel high above them. He hoped they wouldn’t run out of web before they reached the bottom! But he did not need to worry. Before very long the outlines of rocks became visible beneath them, and soon they were standing on ﬁrm ground. “Is this the bottom?” said Sydney, nervously. “No idea,” said Glow-worm, cheerfully. “Let’s explore.” Sydney watched as Glow-worm crawled oﬀ into the gloom, then quickly ran after him when he remembered he was taking the light with him. Not that there was much to see. This cave was deﬁnitely on the grim side. “I’m a little disappointed,” said Glow-worm, “I’d have expected there to be all sorts of wonders down here, given 103
that a magician is interested in it.” “Really?” said Sydney, who, not for the ﬁrst time, didn’t know what his friend was talking about. “Yes,” said Glow-worm. Then he chuckled to himself. “I wonder where the wonders are?” Sydney gave him a look. “You’re not . . . enjoying yourself, are you?” “It’s an adventure, isn’t it? Of course I’m enjoying myself!” “But Krulp . . . and the magic . . . and what he’s done to Carl and Skipper . . . not to mention poor Freddy.” “Yes, Krulp’s a bit of a problem I agree. But he’s only human. I’m sure we’ll think of something.”
But thinking of something would have to wait. Glowworm and Sydney had found Freddy. In fact, they’d almost bumped into him. The reason they hadn’t heard him 104
was that he wasn’t making any noise, and the reason he wasn’t making any noise was that he was asleep. Freddy, of course, could sleep anywhere, so they weren’t entirely surprised. They were, however, delighted. “Freddy!” cried Sydney, racing forward to hug him with as many arms as he could manage. The little frog woke up with a start. “Is it morning?” he said, vaguely. “The sun seems to have come up.” “It’s not the sun,” said Glow-worm. “It’s me!” Now Freddy understood, and suddenly became terribly happy, and very excited. He gave both his friends a hug (several, in fact) and danced for joy. “You’re here!” he cried. “You’ve found me! You’ve come to rescue me! Hooray!” “Delighted to see you again,” Glow-worm said. “I hope Krulp didn’t give you too hard a time.” Freddy shuddered at the mention of the evil magician’s name. “He . . . he turned me into a human!” Sydney was shocked, and nearly tripped over himself in horror. If Krulp could do that, then surely nothing in the world could stop him. Glow-worm merely chuckled. “Did he really? How clever of him.” Sydney and Freddy looked at him, puzzled. “So,” said Freddy, his conﬁdence fading a little, “you’re going to get me out of here now . . . aren’t you?” “After we ﬁnd the bottle,” Glow-worm said. “What bottle?” said Freddy. Sydney rolled his eyes. All of them. “The mystical and magical and, apparently, terribly dangerous bottle Krulp wants us to get for him.” 105
“Oh yes,” said Freddy. “Now I remember.” “That’s what Krulp wants,” said Glow-worm. “So, let’s look for it.” Sydney was ﬂabbergasted. “You’re not going to give it to him?” “Well,” said Glow-worm, “that depends what it is when we ﬁnd it. We have to ﬁnd it ﬁrst.” “Maybe Nagle can help,” said Freddy. “Who’s Nagle?” said Sydney, worried that his friend might have been in the dark too long. “I’ll introduce you,” said Freddy, and at the top oﬀ his froggy lungs he called out: “Nagle! ”
For a moment all was silent. Then, as if from far away, the animals heard a strange, rhythmic squeaking noise. Suddenly there was a leathery ﬂapping from within their midst, and a bat ﬂopped out of the air and landed at their feet. “Hello Freddy,” said the bat. “You’re not hungry again, are you?” 106
“Hello Nagle,” said Freddy. “These are my friends Sydney, and Glow-worm.” He turned to Sydney and Glowworm. “This is Nagle,” he said. “He’s . . . ” “A bat?” said Glow-worm, “Yes, I can see that.” Freddy turned back to Nagle. “Sydney and Glow-worm are a spider and . . . ” “A glow-worm?” said Nagle. “Yes, I can hear that. How do you do?” The animals exchanged greetings. It turned out that after being thrust into the cave and trying to catch what he, mistakenly, thought was a ﬂy, Freddy had found himself hanging from a bat. The bat’s name, it turned out, was Nagle and he was actually quite a nice bat. So Freddy had found a friend who had been able to look after him in the total darkness of the cave. He was still very glad that Glow-worm (and his glow) had turned up though. But now it was time for Glow-worm to ask the question. “Have you seen a bottle?” he asked. “Seen?” said Nagle. “No. Heard? Yes. I’ve got good hearing, I have. It’s just over there. I’ll take you to it, if you like.” Sydney whispered to Glow-worm: “How do you hear a bottle?” “It’s something called sonar.” said Glow-worm. “But this is probably not the best time to explain it.” He led them to a small hollow in the cave ﬂoor. Lying there, right in the middle, was a small bottle. If it was magic, it was very unimpressive. “It’s a lemonade bottle,” said Sydney. “A really small one.”
“Yes,” said Glow-worm, “it would have to be small or we’d never get it out of the cave.” “But lemonade? I thought it was supposed to be magical?” “Well, perhaps its something to do with the bubbles,” said Glow-worm. “Nagle, are there any other bottles around?” “Nope. And believe me, I know this cave inside out and backwards. This is the only bottle. Its been here as long as I have.” “Then it must be the one. Let’s open it!” said Glowworm. “Could someone with limbs please give me some help?” “Hang on,” said Sydney. “Didn’t Krulp say it was dangerous?” “He certainly did,” said Glow-worm, “and he’s probably right. Traditionally, this sort of story involves a genie, you know. But something tells me it will be a lot less dangerous if we open it than if Krulp does. Who’s going to help me?” “I’m game,” said Nagle.
Sydney and Freddy looked at each other. “Okay,” they both said, with a certain amount of reluctance. Together, the four animals tackled the top of the little bottle. It was a screw-top, but it hadn’t been opened for a long time, so it wouldn’t move. Eventually, Glow-worm decided to use his glow to heat the bottle-top up a bit. It was metal, so he thought this should make it expand. Finally, the top came oﬀ. There was an ominous hissing sound from the bottle. “Now,” said Glow-worm. “If I’m right, we’ll be having a visitor . . . ” The hissing sound from the bottle got louder, and the bottle itself began to shake. What looked like steam began to pour out of the top, and the hissing turned into a roar, much to the alarm of the animals. Sydney, Freddy and Nagle all tried to hide behind each other, but Glow-worm watched in fascination. A cloud of smoke, or steam was forming above the little bottle, a cloud that looked almost like a rain cloud. In the depths of the cloud was the shadow of a face, a cloudy face (of course) and fairly vague, but a face non-the-less. It was, indeed, a curious cloud. It spoke, which was even more curious, and said: “Hello.”
Chapter 11 The Genuine Genie
At the sound of a talking cloud, Sydney, Freddy and Nagle screamed. Glow-worm merely looked puzzled. “‘Hello?’” he said. “You said ‘Hello’ ?” “Er, yes,” said the cloud. “But. . . aren’t you a genie? Shouldn’t you be oﬀering me three wishes, or something?” The cloud looked embarrassed. “Oh yes,” it boomed. “That’s right. Sorry, I forgot. I’ve never done this before, you see. Let me start again.” The cloud made a throatclearing sound, which was very odd given that it didn’t have a throat, and said: “Your wish is my command, O Master.” Then he added, in a slightly smaller voice: “provided that what you wish for is a small shower.” “What?” “Or drizzle. I can manage drizzle. I can even do heavy rain, provided I don’t do it for too long. Otherwise I have to go back in the bottle to lie down.” Glow-worm was puzzled. “Are you sure you’re a genie?” 111
“Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean, I live in a bottle and grant wishes, don’t I?” “As long as the wishes are something to do with rain?” The cloud looked a little bit embarrassed. Glow-worm gave him a look. “You’re a rain cloud, aren’t you?” he said. The cloud looked even more embarrassed. “Oh, all right. I admit I used to be a rain cloud, before I became a genie.” “But you are a genie now, are you?” “Oh yes. Well, in training, anyway. I’m doing a correspondence course.” “A correspondence course?” “Yes,” said the cloud, happily. “And I’ve nearly ﬁnished lesson one.” The other animals were becoming interested now. Freddy, in particular, was beginning to sense a kindred spirit. “I’m learning something too!” he said. “I’m learning to read!” “Really?” said the cloud or genie. “How’s that going?” “A is for Apple,” said Freddy, with pride. “I’m going to have a go at another fruit next year.” “Oh yes,” said the cloud or genie. “That was a hard one. I’m doing B is for Box at the moment. That’s much easier. It’s not a fruit, of course.” Sydney sidled up to Glow-worm, and whispered: “This genie’s a bit, well, pathetic, isn’t he?” “Slightly less magical than I’d hoped, yes. Let’s ﬁnd out more about him.” The intrepid Glow-worm approached the genie once again. “Excuse me, Genie. But what actually is lesson one?” 112
The genie looked embarrassed again. “I’m not supposed to tell you until I’ve got it right,” he said. “It would look bad if I granted you a wish, and then couldn’t actually do it. How about some scattered showers?” “No thank you.” “Or a heavy mist?” “Not at the moment. Why don’t you go back to chatting to Freddy?” “That’s me,” said Freddy, happily. “And I am inspired by your example.” “I’m Sydney,” said Sydney. “And I’m Nagle,” said Nagle. While the cloud or genie was being entertained by the enthusiastic young frog, Glow-worm and the other animals gathered round to discuss what they were going to do next.
“Right,” said Sydney. “We’ve got the bottle. Now we can give it to Krulp, get Carl and Skipper back to their proper sizes, and get out of here.” “Oh no we can’t,” said Glow-worm ﬁrmly. “We’re going to teach Krulp a lesson.” To Sydney, this seemed like a very bad idea. He was quite convinced that Krulp was the most dangerous thing they had encountered on their voyage so far, and that the best thing to do would be to get away, very fast. But Glow-worm was staring at Nagle. More particularly, he was staring at Nagle’s ears. It wouldn’t be long before Krulp started to wonder what had happened to them, Sydney thought. If they didn’t get back soon, Carl and Skipper would be in big trouble. “There’s nothing we can do,” he said, hopefully. But Glow-worm remained thoughtful. “I wonder why Krulp needed us to help him, when Nagle already lives in the cave. He’d be much better at ﬁnding mysterious bottles, given that he knows his way around, and he’s small enough to get out through the entrance. Look how quickly he found the bottle for us!” “Maybe he doesn’t know Nagle’s here,” suggested Sydney. “Oh he knows,” said Nagle, with pride. “He’s had a few attempts at talking me into helping him, but I won’t do it. Never trust a human, that’s my moto.” Sydney was impressed. “Krulp has tried to get you to help him, and you didn’t? Weren’t you afraid? What about his magic powers?” Nagle strutted, just a little bit. “Oh, he can’t do anything to me. I know a few things, I do. I’m way too clever for a mere human magician.” 114
“Hmm,” said Glow-worm. “You’re also blind as. . . well, a bat.” Nagle scowled. “Your point, Wormy?” “Nothing,” said Glow-worm. “Just thinking out loud.” “Listen, mate,” said Nagle, who was now a little miﬀed, “I may be blind, but I’ve got sonar; that’s way better than eyesight. I can ﬁnd my way around by sound, using just my ears. My ears can out-perform your eyes any day. I don’t just get sounds, you know, I get shapes! I can hear shapes round corners. Can you see round corners? I don’t think so. Can you see in the dark? Nope. Eyesight is over-rated. A big pair of ears and a decent sonar system, that’s what you need.”
Glow-worm looked at Nagle carefully. “I wonder. . . ” he said, to no-one in particular. “I can hear more than you’ll ever see,” said Nagle, who was still feeling got at. “I can hear every corner of this cave. You and your glow, all depends on light, doesn’t it? 115
Well light makes shadows, and shadows get in your way when you’re trying to see. I’m not bothered by shadows. Shadows. . . ” “Shadows,” said Glow-worm, thoughtfully, “make you see things that aren’t there.” “Right,” said Nagle. Then he looked puzzled. “Hang on, are you agreeing with me?” “Probably,” said Glow-worm. “You reckon my hearing’s better than your eyesight?” “Absolutely. Or, at least, it is at the moment. I think our eyesight has been getting us all into trouble.” Now Sydney was getting curious. “What do you mean?” he said. “I mean,” said Glow-worm, “that Nagle has given us the clue we needed.” “Has he?” “He has. And now I think I know how to deal with our friend Mr. Krulp!” “Oh yes?” said Sydney, carefully. “How’s that, then?” “First things ﬁrst,” said Glow-worm. “The genie must be told what has been happening.” It was time to let the genie know what was going on. Glow-worm approached it with conﬁdence, while Sydney and Nagle held back, more than a little bit baﬄed by the whole business. Freddy, meanwhile, was still chatting to the genie. They had discovered, it seemed, a mutual interest in water. “Please may I interrupt?” said Glow-worm, politely. “Right ho,” said Freddy, cheerfully. “Yes, master,” boomed the genie. It waited eagerly for its ﬁrst command, hoping, no doubt, it would be something wet. 116
Glow-worm explained to the genie all about the evil Krulp, and what he had done, and that it was time to teach him a lesson. Then he gave the genie his ﬁrst order. “Genie, can you wait down here for a few minutes while I go back outside, and then come when I call?” “To hear is to obey, oh shining clever one.” “Jolly good. Are you allowed to tell little white lies?” “If my master asks me to, I can.” “Excellent! When I call you, I might ask you to do something. It won’t involve rain, so you probably won’t be able to do it. Just pretend to do it, all right?” “Er, yes. I think I understand.” Glow-worm scratched his head with the tip of his tail. “I think that’s everything,” he said. “Nagle, could you give Sydney, Freddy and me a lift back up to the cave entrance please?” “Sure,” said Nagle. “It will have to be one at a time, though.” So Nagle carried the other animals, one at a time, up to the cave entrance. Through the tiny opening in the rock wall they could see daylight once again. Outside, they could hear Krulp threatening and menacing his unfortunate hostages. Glow-worm became angry. Once everyone was assembled, he said: “Right then, everyone, let’s go! Nagle, do you want to come out with us to confront Krulp?” The bat looked around nervously. “Er, that’s okay. I’ll wait here as, um, backup,” he said. “Can we stay and be backup too?” said Freddy. “No,” said Glow-worm. “Come on, team. Time to settle with this sinister human.”
Resolute, the heroic worm led the way out of the dark and dismal cave. Slightly less resolute, Sydney and Freddy followed him. They emerged, blinking, into bright sunlight, to see Krulp, looking even bigger than they remembered, towering over Skipper and Carl. Trembling, the two reduced captives called to their friends. “We’re over here!” they said. Krulp glowered down at Glow-worm and his friends. “Just in time,” he thundered. “Another minute, and I would have crushed your pathetic friends!” “Really,” said Glow-worm, casually. “Lucky for us your watch is slow, then.” “Yes! Er, what did you say?” said Krulp. He looked a little surprised. Clearly, Glow-worm’s relaxed manner was not what he had expected. 118
Sydney and Freddy looked at each other nervously. “Does Glow-worm know what he’s doing?” whispered Freddy. Sydney just stood and stared. Krulp was glowering again. “ Where is the bottle I sent you to fetch?” Glow-worm looked at Freddy. “Freddy, have you got it?” Freddy looked like he was about to panic. “No!” “Sydney?” said Glow-worm, casually. Sydney shook his head. He didn’t dare to speak. Glow-worm laughed. “Whoops,” he said to Krulp, with a chuckle. “Looks like we forgot it.” 119
“You forgot it!” thundered Krulp, and he seemed to grow several feet. “We forgot!” Glow-worm thundered back, in a voice exactly like Krulp’s. Then he laughed. Krulp seemed to shrink again, slightly non-plussed. “Little worm,” he said, “do not cross me. Remember what happened to you last time?” Glow-worm looked puzzled for a moment. Then he smiled again. “Do you expect me to be quaking in my boots? Well, that’s not going to happen. No legs, you see.” “Very well!” screamed Krulp, “don’t say I didn’t warn you!” He waved his hands, and glowered at the animals. He pointed at Freddy, and his eyes ﬂashed ﬁre. “Become human!” he said. At once, Freddy started to grow; his ﬁngers lost their webbing, his skin lost it’s sheen and two large ears began to project from the side of his head. Understandably, he started to cry. Krulp turned to Sydney. Again, his eyes ﬂashed. “Spider,” he said, “you shall be wrapped up in a web of my creation!”
A huge web began to form in the air around Sydney, so that he couldn’t possibly escape. “Help!” he squeaked. “Oh dear,” said Glow-worm cheerfully. “Looks like you’ve defeated us again. It must be time for one last futile gesture of resistance.” “Er, what?” said Krulp. Suddenly he was looking less conﬁdent. The evidence of his eyes said Glow-worm was defeated, but Glow-worm’s manner said something else again. “What would be the point of a futile gesture?” “No point,” said Glow-worm. “That’s what futile means. Didn’t you know that?”
Krulp started to look nervous. “Before you can do that, I will. . . ” “Hush for a moment,” ordered Glow-worm. “I haven’t made my futile gesture yet.” He turned to Carl. “Please Carl, will you put your head down and charge Krulp?”
Carl squeaked with terror. “You can’t be serious? I’m only three inches tall!” “So? Charge him anyway.” “No!” thundered Krulp, backing away. “That will achieve nothing!” Glow-worm sighed, and rolled his eyes at Krulp. “Of course it will achieve nothing. It’s a futile gesture. We’ve been though that. Carl, oﬀ you go.” “No,” screamed Krulp, backing away even more. “Really?” said Carl. “Really,” said Glow-worm, positively grinning at Krulp. “If you dare to try,” said Krulp to Carl, “I will crush you!” Strangely enough, he seemed to be looking around for an escape route. “Er,” said Carl, “he says he’ll crush me if I try. . . ” Glow-worm sighed. “If I make it impossible for him to crush you, will you please charge him?” Carl looked puzzled. “I guess so. . . ” “You can’t do that!” said Krulp. “Oh yes I can,” said Glow-worm. Then he turned to the cave entrance and called: “Genie!” Krulp turned white as a sheet. “You opened the bottle!” There was a rushing, roaring, windy sound from deep within the cave. The rocks began to tremble, and the genie rushed from his hiding place, and formed itself into a huge, luminous cloud, hovering above them all. It looked so much more impressive in the daylight. “Yes, master?” said the genie to Glow-worm. Krulp panicked. He waved his hands at Glow-worm, and his eyes ﬂashed. “A torrent of water will pour down upon you, and drown your glow forever!” he screamed. 122
Water began to pour down on Glow-worm from no visible source: tidal waves, monsoons and ﬂoods. Amazingly, Glow-worm simply ignored it all. “Genie,” said Glow-worm, “please make Carl impervious to Krulp, so that Krulp cannot possibly crush him.” “Yon cloud can do that?” squeaked Carl. “Oh yes,” said Glow-worm, and winked at the genie. “Er. . . ” said the genie, “Okay. I’ve done it.” “Right,” said Glow-worm, with immense authority. “Charge!” The tiny Carl charged. “No!” screamed Krulp, and he turned on his heels and ran. This was very surprising to all the animals except Glowworm. Even more surprising, given how short his legs now were, Carl covered the distance between himself and Krulp very quickly. He caught him and, head down, struck the back of Krulp’s heel.
It looked very odd to the animals. It looked as if Carl couldn’t possibly do any harm, yet as soon as Carl hit his heel, Krulp ﬂew through the air, did several cartwheels, and landed, in a folded, robe covered heap further up the path. “Oh look,” said Glow-worm gaily. “Not such a futile gesture after all! Okay Carl, charge him again!” “No!” cried Krulp, cowering on the ground. “Please! Have mercy! Call him oﬀ! I surrender!” Carl hesitated, and looked puzzled. “Er, I think he just surrendered. . . ” he said. “So he did,” said Glow-worm. “Okay Carl, leave him alone — provided he does as he’s asked.” “But. . . ” said Carl, “I’m little. . . Why’s he so scared?” Glow-worm laughed. “You’re not little,” he said. “You’re still full size. You just think you’re little.” “Eh?” said Carl. “Krulp hypnotised you.” “He what?” “He looked you in the eyes, and you looked into his. That way he tricked you into thinking he could do magic, making you see things that weren’t there. He tricked you into thinking you’d shrunk. It’s called hupnosis. It’s a good trick. But it’s still just a trick.” The other animals looked at each other. Sydney closed his eyes, and tried to walk through the web that surrounded him. It melted into the air as he did so. “Well I never,” he said. Skipper and Carl looked at each other, and realised that they were in fact their normal sizes and always had been.
Krulp lay still on the ground, and trembled. “How did you know?” he said. “Well,” said Glow-worm. “You had me fooled at ﬁrst, I admit. But once I was inside the cave, I wondered why you couldn’t just come in and get the bottle yourself. After all, if you could magic a bull and a kangaroo to the size of me, then surely you could magic the cave entrance to be big enough for you to get through. So either you were too stupid to realise you could do it, or you couldn’t do it. And you aren’t stupid, are you Mr Krulp?” Krulp sighed. “Neither, it seems, are you,” he said. Glow-worm blushed. “I try not to be,” he said. “But you couldn’t have been sure,” said Sydney. “I was once we’d met Nagle. If Krulp’s power worked on all of us, why wouldn’t it work on him? Answer: be125
cause he’s blind! He couldn’t see Krulp’s eyes.” “So Krulp couldn’t hypnotise him!” “That’s right.” Sydney was impressed. So were Carl and Skipper. Krulp looked miserable. “So, it was all a trick,” growled Carl. Skipper growled too, something kangaroos don’t normally do. “Fooled by a human in a funny hat,” he said. “How embarrassing.” Meanwhile, Carl was staring at Krulp and glowering. He snorted steam from his nostrils. Now that he was full sized, Krulp was starting to look very small in comparison. “What do you want to do with yon wee mannie?” said Carl. “Do you want me to charge at him again?” Krulp tried to hide under his robes.
“Er, no thank you,” said Glow-worm. “Still, we must think of something to do with him. We can’t just let him wander oﬀ and cause more mischief.” 126
“I’ll never do anything wrong again,” said Krulp, hopefully. “I’m a reformed character. . . ” Glow-worm laughed. “Dear Mr Krulp,” he said, “you’re not trying to trick me again, are you?” Krulp glowered. Meanwhile, another problem presented itself. “Excuse me,” said Freddy to Glow-worm. “Now that you’ve put everyone else back to normal, please could you turn me back into a frog?” Sydney sighed. “Freddy,” he said, “you are a frog.” Freddy looked down at his hands, which still appeared to be human. “No I’m not.” “It was a trick!” said Sydney. “You were never really turned into a human.” Freddy looked at his hands again. “Yes I was,” he said. “See? And Krulp said I would be stuck as a human forever if he changed me again, and he did, so I am.” Freddy started to cry again. “Oh dear,” said Glow-worm. To everyone else, the news that Krulp was simply tricking them had broken the hypnotic spell. But for Freddy, who never was very quick on the uptake, it hadn’t had the same eﬀect. The sinister Krulp laughed. “You may be a very clever worm,” he said, “but only I can restore your friend to rights. Give me the genie, and I will consider doing so.” “What do we do?” said Sydney, dangerously close to panic. “How do we save Freddy?” Krulp laughed again, the look of triumph slowly coming back into his eyes. Sydney looked at Glow-worm. Carl and Skipper looked at each other, then at Glow-worm. Freddy looked at his hands. He looked very unhappy. 127
Meanwhile, Glow-worm simply looked annoyed. “Right,” he said. “So much for Krulp being a reformed character.” Glow-worm thought for a moment. Then he looked around carefully. Finally, he looked at Freddy, and smiled. “Freddy!” he cried, suddenly. “Look behind you! There’s a ﬂy.” “Where?” cried Freddy. He span around, spotted the ﬂy, and in an instant his long froggy tongue shot out, caught the ﬂying snack and pulled it in. At once, he was a frog again. At that moment Krulp knew, if he hadn’t known it before, that he had ﬁnally and completely met his match.
Chapter 12 Time to Go Home
Something had to be done with the would-be evil magician. There was much discussion amongst the animals, sitting dejectedly on the side of the mountain. To Glow-worm, it seemed that the matter was becoming urgent. It was getting late in the day, and they really did need to get back to the ship before nightfall. Carl had suggested keeping Krulp as a pet, which was an amusing possibility in some ways. But the human was not the sort of creature Glow-worm could trust, and he really didn’t want any non-animals becoming involved in his voyage and spoiling things. Other suggestions were: 1. Pushing Krulp oﬀ the cliﬀ (Carl again) 2. Letting him go (Sydney) 3. Turning him into something (Freddy, who really didn’t understand what was going on) 4. Eating him (Nagle, who had joined the others once it became clear that Krulp was no longer dangerous) 129
5. Getting him to teach them hypnosis, so that they could play hilarious tricks on their friends when they got home (Skipper) But in the end, it was the genie who solved the problem. Somewhat shyly, he drifted over to Glow-worm and whispered: “Pardon me, master, but now might be a good time to tell you about lesson one of my correspondence course.” Glow-worm was puzzled. “Really?” he said. “Yes. You see it was called: ‘I Want to go Home’: Travel By Magic for Beginners.” Glow-worm gave him a look. “What, exactly, does that mean?” “I can send him home. I can send anyone home, if it comes to that. But in the case of Mr Krulp, I can send him back where he came from.” “By magic?” “Yes, master.” Krulp overheard. “No, wait, you can’t send me back there! I owe people money.” “You be quiet,” said Glow-worm. “Please!” begged Krulp, on his knees now. “Let me come with you! I can help you, give you the beneﬁt of my wisdom and experience. I’ll be loyal. I promise I will never give you any reason to doubt my loyalty.” Glow-worm’s mouth dropped open. He looked at the genie. “Okay,” he said. “I’ve had enough of this. Send him home.” “Your wish is my command! Oh, goody. I’ve always wanted to say that.” The genie moved to hover over Krulp. “Return,” he boomed. “Return, oh creature, to the place 130
or dimension from whence you came!” “Don’t you dare. . . ” said Krulp, but it was too late. Already the genie was beginning to glow — something magical was about to happen. There was a rumbling; there was a grumbling; there was a sudden chill in the air and the sinister smell of sulphur. And then. . . It started to rain.
It only rained a little bit, directly above Krulp’s head and only above Krulp’s head; and the genie looked as if it was straining to make even this happen. But still, it was raining, and the indignant look on Krulp’s face was priceless. Soon his robes were soaking wet, and the brightly coloured moons, stars and magical symbols imprinted on them began to run. Soon the robes were a messy purple colour, as if they had been coloured by a very small child with a very large paint set. 131
Worst of all, Krulp’s magniﬁcent hat began to dissolve. Clearly, it was only papi`re mach´. e e “You really are a fake, aren’t you Mr Krulp?” said Glow-worm, with a laugh. Krulp sneezed. He had nothing to say, and indeed he looked a very sorry sight. All the animals were laughing at him now, and only the genie looked equally miserable. “I’m very sorry, master,” said the genie. “That wasn’t quite right.” “That’s okay,” said Glow-worm. “Just try again, there’s a good chap.” The genie tried again. There was a ﬂash of lightning, and a very small thunder clap. “Ouch,” said Krulp. “Oops,” said the genie. “Third time lucky.” He tried again. There was a ﬂash of light, and suddenly Krulp disappeared. That is to say, only Krulp disappeared. His robes and his hat (what was left of it) remained in a soggy heap underneath the genie. The would-be wicked magician had ﬁnally been sent home. Admittedly, he had been sent home in the nude, which would no doubt prove very embarrassing for him, but this didn’t worry Glow-worm a great deal. “Well done,” he said to the genie. “That’s got rid of him.” And it was true, for there was no longer any sign or sound of the evil magician. Even Nagle, with his supersensitive hearing could detect nothing of him. “Right,” said Glow-worm, “let’s get back to Glow-boat II and cast oﬀ. We’ve spent far too much time here already.”
He, Sydney and Freddy turned to go, but Skipper and Carl hung back. They were looking at each other.
“Just one, quick, wee little question, if you don’t mind?” said Carl. “Would yon wee smoky thing be able to send me home?” “And me,” said Skipper. “Never signed up for this adventure in the ﬁrst place, and I’m not designed to be an ocean goer. Or a mountaineer. And I deﬁnitely don’t like encounters with creepy humans who can speak animal, whether they’re really magical or not.” This was not a possibility that had occurred to the others. Glow-worm, however, was quick to make the most of it. “So,” he said, “you want to go home. Fair enough. That means the rest of us will be able to go back to the original Glow-boat, and bid farewell to Glow-boat II.” But Sydney and Freddy weren’t listening. Now they were looking at each other. “We could go home too,” said Sydney. 133
“Could we?” said Freddy, eagerly. “Could we really? No more adventures? Back to where it’s safe?” “Yes,” said Sydney, “all of us.” He looked at Glowworm. “Couldn’t we?” “You could, if you wanted to,” said Glow-worm. “I couldn’t. I haven’t ﬁnished going around the world yet.” “But Glow-worm. . . ” “It’s all right. I shall be quite able to manage by myself. That was my original plan, after all.” Carl looked relieved. “Och, I’m glad it’s not just me. I’d have felt a bit bad if it had just been me. But since we all want to do it, that’s okay. Wee cloudy fellow? Can you send me and my pals home?” The genie shimmered a bit. “I can only do you one at a time,” he said, “and I’ll need my master to tell me to do it.” All the animals looked at Glow-worm. He nodded his head, slowly. “Of course,” he said. “If that’s what you want. Thank you all for your help. I shall miss you.” “Your wish,” said the genie, “is my command.” He turned to Carl. “Stand very still,” he said, “just in case.” So it was that Carl the Highland cow (standing very still) and Skipper the Kangaroo (trembling, ever so slightly) were sent home, using all the magic that the genie knew. It was a sad farewell, but even Glow-worm had to admit it was the right thing to do. Taking a large bull on a voyage around the world was not an easy thing to do, even with a big enough boat. Even Skipper had been hard to feed. So really, there were no regrets. Now it was time to send Sydney and Freddy home. But Sydney was still worried. He just didn’t feel right about leaving their leader alone. 134
“Please come with us,” he said to Glow-worm. “No thank you,” said Glow-worm. “I am not going home by magic. I am going home by boat. You two can go home by magic, though, if you like. It’s perfectly all right with me.” Sydney and Freddy looked at each other. They sighed. They couldn’t abandon Glow-worm now, even if they wanted to. They had been with him since the beginning, so they would have to stay with him until the end. “All right,” said Sydney. “We’ll stay with you. We’ve come this far, so we might as well go the rest of the way.” Glow-worm was delighted. He glowed even more than usual. “You’re sure?” Sydney and Freddy sighed. “Yes,” they said. “We’re sure.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Glow-worm, cheerfully. “Now then. What about Nagle?” Nagle was looking sleepy. He wasn’t used to staying up all day. “Eh?” he said. “What about me?” 135
“Do you want to come with us?” “No. I want to go back to my cave, please. I need a rest. I’m not used to working these long hours. Nice to meet you, Freddy. Nice to meet the rest of you, too.” With a big yawn, Nagle opened his leathery wings and ﬂapped away. Now there was only the genie to worry about. “Shall we take him with us?” said Sydney. “It might be useful to have a genie around, even one who can only do one piece of magic and make it rain.” “No,” said Glow-worm. “It wouldn’t be right. If we have magical help on the voyage, people might think we’d cheated. I think I will oﬀer the genie his freedom.” At this, the genie looked alarmed. “No,” he cried, “not that! I haven’t ﬁnished my correspondence course yet! They’ll kick me out if I’m free!” “Why would they do that?” “Because I wouldn’t be a real genie then. Please don’t do that.” “We could put him back in his bottle,” suggested Freddy. “He’d have more time to study that way.” Glow-worm looked worried. “He’d also be available for the next Mr Krulp who came along, and I really don’t like that idea at all. No, I think if the genie must have a master, I’d rather it was me.” The genie looked relieved. “Oh, thank you master. What is your command?” Glow-worm thought. “I think,” he said, “that it might be better if you ﬁnish your studies ﬁrst. Take as long as you like; take hundreds of years if you want to. Then I will have thought of some commands for you. Some big ones, so you better prepare yourself.” 136
The genie shivered with excitement. “Ooh,” it said. “Thank you master!” “And in the meantime,” said Glow-worm, “you can keep Nagle company.” “Your wish,” said the genie, with joy, “is my command!” At once he disappeared in a puﬀ of smoke, or at least in a splash of drizzle. Everyone was gone now, except for the three animals who had started the voyage together. Sydney and Freddy both looked rather sad. But Glow-worm was happy. “Right,” said Glow-worm. “Now that everyone else is sorted out, let’s go home.” And they did.
It wasn’t a straightforward job to get Glow-boat launched again. For a long time it had been parked on board Glowboat II as (more or less) luggage, and the three remaining members of Glow-worm’s crew were all very small animals. But Glow-worm was ingenious, and by virtue of his extreme cunning, a pulley system rigged up by a combination of a (large) number of small pebbles, some straw, 137
a very complicated spider’s web and a strong and willing frog, Glow-boat was returned to the ocean. The three explorers returned to their posts, Glow-worm made a speech, and they set oﬀ on the last leg of their journey. Oﬀ they sailed, through high seas and low, under sun and stars, always steering a true course. Sydney completed his studies of navigation, and could now steer the boat just as well as Glow-worm, and even Freddy made some progress in his eﬀorts to learn how to read. “B is for square thing” he declared, happily. “Good try,” said Glow-worm. Eventually, after another month at sea, Freddy sighted land. It looked vaguely familiar to Glow-worm. “That’s funny,” said Freddy. “Glow-worm seems to know where we are.” It was a while before the other animals realised what it meant. Sydney got it ﬁrst. “It’s where we started from, Freddy! It’s home! Glowworm did it. He’s sailed around the world!” But Freddy didn’t quite get it. “It can’t be home,” he said. “We haven’t turned round yet. How could we get home without turning the boat round?” Sydney explained about the world being round. “Like a dinner plate?” “No. Like a ball.” Freddy thought about this. “It can’t be. The sea would fall oﬀ the bottom.” Glow-worm tried to explain about gravity. “Oh,” said Freddy. “Now I understand. Now it makes sense. I suppose it must be very sticky gravy? And to think, I never knew the sea was made out of gravy.”
Sydney and Glow-worm stopped trying to explain. It was time to steer the boat back into it’s own harbour. “What will you and Freddy do now that the voyage is over?” Glow-worm asked Sydney. Night was closing in, but the moon and stars were coming out, so the animals could still see what they were doing. “I don’t know,” said Sydney, “I haven’t really had time to think about it.” “You could stay with me,” said Glow-worm, “and be my assistants.” “Why will you need assistants? You’ve done what you set out to do, you’ve sailed around the world. Aren’t you going to go back to being an ordinary glow-worm now?” Glow-worm gave him a look. “I don’t think so.” “Then what are you going to do?” “Keep exploring, of course!” Glow-worm looked up at the stars, glowing down on him. He glowed back. “World’s without end,” he said, dreamily. “I’m sure we’ll ﬁnd something to do!” And Sydney didn’t doubt it for a moment.
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