own, down, in the deepest valley in Yagador, the darkest forest to be found in the King’s realm, lived the seven little scallywags. They lived in a magic house and garden surrounded on all sides by an impassable hedge of brambles.
No-one knew how they had come to live in a magic house and garden – because no-one knew they were there. No paths led through the deep forest centre. And you’d need long stilts to peep over the bramble hedge into the garden where the sun shone every day and at night the stars twinkled.
The little scallywags couldn’t tell you either. They had lived in the magic house for as long as they could remember and life was such fun!
They never needed to dress because they slept in their clothes.
You might think these little scallywags must have been very stinky if they never changed their clothes. But these were magic clothes that cleaned themselves every fifteen minutes.
So they rushed downstairs, pushing and shoving and sure enough, there on the magic table were seven bowls of thick creamy kangleberry yoghurt and piles of buttery toast.
“Eat, seat, what a treat!” sang the little scallywags, as they swallowed delicious dollops and gobbets and played flick in the eye with spoons loaded with yoghurt.
“Time to play: clear away!” they shouted as they ran from the table into the tunnel that led to the sunny garden. Behind them the magic table swallowed the dirty dishes and invisible hands swept the floor and mopped up any mess. In the tunnel, sprays of warm water, giant soapy flannels and hot air washed them down and dried them in a split second.
Out in the garden, each day began with a song and a dance. The seven little scallywags joined hands in a ring and began to hop and skip, always to their left, faster and faster till they were like a whirring whirligig. And they sang this song:
Stinky slinky onions
My shoes are full of bunions
A bumpa! A flumpa!
We all fall down.
And at the word down each scallywag let go of his partners’ hands and the force of the whirling ring flung his body outwards, so he rolled and rolled to the very edge of the lawn.
The little scallywags were like India rubber balls. They never got a cut or bruise. They just bounced up and bounded towards each other in a game of Pushme-shoveyou. This boisterous game had them bumping, sprawling and rolling and jumping up and bumping again.
In the house the oven hummed, saucepans hissed. The magic house was cooking a delicious lunch for the seven little scallywags. When they came back from the garden, huffed and puffed, sluiced and spruced, there were seven heaped plates of gozzlywiggle stew with as many roast kissnips as seven scallywags could eat. This lip smacking feast was helped down with jugs of toffee beer.
After lunch there were more games of Hunt the jumper, Blind bopper, Shufflebottom and Bulldog Scallywag 1-2-3.
Often around three o’clock when the sun was at its warmest, the little scallywags felt sleepy and rolled themselves up on the lawn for a spell of ninety winks. An hour later, they were stretching and yawning. In a trice they were jumping up and down under the fruit salad tree, hands behind their backs playing a game of Snap’nchomp. Sticky juice ran down their chins, their necks and under their vests.
You would think that by tea time, when it got dark, the seven scallywags would have knees as muddy as potatoes and faces as sticky as fly paper. But the tunnel did its work. They were washed and wiped as clean as cars in a carwash, then dried as dry as autumn leaves in the wind.
“Mmmm! Mmmm! Mmmmm!” The little scallywags murmured for there on the table were piles of pancakes dripping in pinknut syrup and steaming mugs of chocolate soup.
And later as they ran upstairs, tired and yawning, invisible flannels and toothbrushes scrubbed and brushed and driers blew away the damp, and each scallywag curled up in their beds. Clean sheets and blankets covered them to their very noses and the house sang a lilting lullaby.
Goodnight sweet scallywags! Another day tomorrow!
And the scallywags fell asleep.