Maxwell Grantly

Magical stories from an independent author

Archive for the tag “Little”

New Free eBook Release

Maxwell Grantly is very pleased to announce the release of his latest steampunk-themed children’s eBook: A Clean Sweep.

A Clean Sweep Cover Page

Isaac Little was a chimney sweep apprentice who worked for the cruel Mr. Grubber.

It was a difficult and dangerous life sweeping chimneys, especially as Isaac was forced to crawl within the flues. It was his awful task to climb up the brickwork and loosen the soot with a brush by hand. Each evening Mr. Grubber would spend the day’s takings on drink at the local pub, leaving Isaac to clean the yard and pack the soot into sacks, for sale to farmers as a fertiliser for their fields.

The only consolation that Isaac had for this miserable existence was an anonymous handwritten letter that he kept hidden away in his jacket pocket. Isaac couldn’t recall how he had found this note but he knew that it was his, for his name was included in full within the last sentence of the letter. The mysterious note promised Isaac that his life would improve and that he should trust its unknown author.

One day, Isaac succumbed to temptation when he stole a cigar case from a rich customer’s home. In doing so, he discovered a tiny fragment of a tragic newspaper report, rolled up inside with the cigars. The discovery of this newspaper fragment would change Isaac’s life forever and lead him on a terrifying adventure that would end with a face-to-face meeting with the anonymous author of his treasured mysterious letter.

Who wrote the prediction for Isaac’s life and how did the writer know what the future held for the wretched chimney sweep?

What awful news was written upon the newspaper fragment and why was it hidden within a cigar case?

In common with all stories from Maxwell Grantly, all is not what it might first appear to be.


The Pirate Adventure

One June Sunday afternoon, Johan handed Little Teddy a pirate’s hat and took him by the hand, into the back garden.

“What’s happening?” enquired Teddy with an inquisitive tone.

“We’re going to play pirates,” replied Johan, as they stepped towards an old cardboard box lying on the lawn. “And we might be gone a very long time.

“When we will get back?” asked the little bear with an intrepid glance back towards his boy.

“Weeks and weeks,” Johan answered with a mischievous smile, “We won’t be home until teatime at least!”

The little bear stepped into the cardboard box and Johan followed in behind.

“Raise the main sail,” called out Johan, “and steady as she goes.”

The sails billowed in the sailed and tugged away at the small ship, as they sailed out across the ocean. Soon their homeport was no more than a small speck on the horizon behind them and the expanse of the ocean lay before them.

As they journeyed away, Little Teddy pointed to the two barrels on the main deck and his curiosity began to get the better of him.

Teddy and Johan Guard the Honey Barrels

“What’s inside these?” he asked Johan, pointing to the two sturdy containers lashed together on the exposed deck of the vessel.

“That’s our valuable consignment of the finest honeys, stolen from the King’s ships off the Caribbean Isles,” replied Johan proudly.

The small bear looked up with awe and wonder at his faithful companion. Johan certainly knew how to treat his little teddy well and he was obviously a loyal and faithful friend.

A single spot of rain landed softly upon Johan’s face.

“We’re in for a heavy storm,” the boy called out and he began to lash the honey barrels securely with think binding hemp ropes, as the ship began to heave and roll in the mighty surf. “Did you see that flash of lightning?” he yelled to his teddy through the imaginary gales of tormenting winds. “Fasten down the main hatch!”

Another single spot of rain fell onto the bear’s nose and Little Teddy felt its gentle caress as it rolled down to his nostril. He licked it off with a single swipe of his tongue.

A Storm at Sea

“Aye Aye Master!” replied the bear and he attended to his chore dutifully anticipating a dreadful gale to strike the vulnerable ship as she heaved in the mighty waves.

Mrs. Jones from next door dashed out into her garden with an empty laundry basket, towards her linen blowing gently in the breeze.

“It looks like rain!” she called out over the fence, as she hastened to collect her drying clothes before the rain set in.

Johan screamed at the neighbour with feigned surprise, “A sea monster! A sea monster! It’s after our valuable cargo.”

He pointed to a mass of seething tentacles erupting from the surface of the waves. Slowly and methodically, each tentacle began to entrap the tiny vessel and began to pull at the delicate structure. Little Teddy began to panic as the ship began to heave under the strain.

The Monster Attacks

“What shall we do?” he squealed with a terrified wail.

“We must save the honey,” called out Johan and he began to lash through the air with a wooden sword at the entanglement of tentacles as they seethed and pulled at the small ship. The small bear pulled his small wooden sword from his sheath and began to swing and wave his sword in the air too but the two of them were no match against the massive monster of the deep.

Monster Attacks!

“Perhaps we could sacrifice one of the barrels in order to divert the monster,” suggested the little bear.  “There are two of us and two barrels. Let’s release your barrel into the sea as a diversion and then make good our escape.”

Release the Honey!

Johan gave a knowing wink and shouted his agreement above the sound of the imaginary  gale. Soon the two of them had unlashed one mighty barrel and rolled it to the edge of the ship. With one enormous heave, they barged it over the edge of the vessel and it fell gently, almost too gently, like a champagne cork onto the surface of the frothing waves. The sea monster’s tentacles loosened their grip on the ship and coiled around the bopping container as it sunk beneath the waves, clutching its prized honey-barreled treasure.

The Monster Retires

Mrs. Jones collected the last few items of clothing from her washing line and dashed back inside her house as the spots of rain began to hasten.

“The monster’s retreating!” they cried out together, “The plan has worked!”

The two companions stood on the deck and surveyed the remaining barrel, labeled “Johan’s Honey” lashed safely on board.

“Which barrel did we push overboard? quizzed Johan to his bear, as the realization of their dreadful error began to sink in.

“Its of no importance,” blushed the little bear, “You might have known that two barrels of honey was too great a temptation for a little bear like me, on such a long voyage like this.”

He tapped the side of the remaining barrel with the hilt of his wooden sword and a hollow boom echoed out from its depths. Johan looked at his playmate with a loving glance and he could hold no grudge for his teddy’s honey fetish. He should have realized that the small bear could not avoid the temptation of the honey treasures on such a long voyage.

“We had better make our escape before the sea monster returns,” exclaimed Johan and he reset the main sail.

The wind billowed in the canvas sheets and tugged the small vessel assuredly out across the ocean, away from the monsters lair.

The Escape

“Our pirate adventure was incredible!” Johan whispered to his faithful toy companion.

“And so was the honey!” the teddy replied, with a wink, to Johan.

The Big Space Adventure

One clear June evening, Skippy took Little Teddy to the Fairy Dell and there they laid looking at the stars. Skippy told the bear all about the North Star in the constellation of Ursa Minor (The Little Teddy) and how to find it using the pointers in Ursa Major. (The Great Teddy) How Little Teddy wished he could explore those stars!

Skippy Shows Teddy the Stars

It had been a long evening and Skippy began to splutter. Perhaps he had caught a cough in the chill night air. Even still, he promised Teddy that they would visit a real space exhibition the following day.

Skippy and his Cough

Despite his tickly throat from the previous evening, Skippy took Teddy to a space exhibition and the first thing the little bear wanted to do was to sit in a replica space craft.

“What does that sign say?” Little Teddy asked.

Skippy looked carefully at the words and read them out.

“What does that sign say?”

“D-cough-cough-on’t,” spluttered Skippy with a hacking cough, “Push the red button.”

Skippy Splutters a Reply

Obediently, the little bear did what he was told and pushed the red button firmly with one claw of his paw.

The doors slammed locked shut and the red warning lights started to flash. Billowing clouds of steam and smoke escaped from the engines and a loud voice was heard counting down over the speakers. Skippy knew at once what had happened but it was too late to stop the launch, even if he had wanted to. He turned to Little Teddy and gave a knowing wink and a small smile radiated from the corner of his mouth.

“Take this.” He said to the teddy, “I think we may be due for an adventure pretty soon indeed.”

Helmets On!

The two of them held each other’s hand very tightly as the rocket soared into the depths of outer space. (Had they of looked down to the ground, they might have even seen the hazy unfocused outline of two small shadowy figures looking up at them as they flew towards the stars. More about this strange paradox will be revealed later in the story!)

Exploring Space

There isn’t the room to describe the things that they saw or the adventures that they had, perhaps that may come in a different story. Only the expanses of an innocent child’s imagination can grasp the breath of wonderful adventures that they experienced in the realms of outer space.

Space Adventures

Soon it was time for bedtime and Skippy spotted a wormhole in some distance galaxy. He took the hand of Little Teddy and, together, they jumped into the inky darkness and back through space and time through the bizarre twists and coils of the astro-anomaly.

Skippy and Teddy Find a Wormhole

Within an instant they were standing back at the space station where they saw a familiar rocket soar into a space, with the helmeted faces of a little boy and his teddy at the window of the craft.

Back in Time to the Start of the Story

“Perhaps someone has made the same error as me,” said Little Teddy, “and pushed the red button by mistake.”

Skippy looked down lovingly into the eyes of the little bear that stood beside him. He was sure in his heart that there could only be one teddy in the world that would have done that!

“Who ever it is,” he whispered to his companion with a knowing wink, “they are sure going to have the most amazing adventure!”

Johan’s Fathers’ Day

The first early morning sunrays nudged their way through the folding drapes of a badly drawn pair of curtains and teased their way onto the yawning face of Little Teddy, who laid asleep on his astro-bunny bed. He knew that Sunday was a special day, for Johan had been reminding him all week but he simply couldn’t recall what was so special about this Sunday: after all, the early morning sun was making his eyes squint in exactly the same way as it did yesterday.

Teddy wakens

He leant over to the calendar that Johan kindly placed by his bedside, to help him make sense of the passing days. The exposed sheet of the calendar showed a black stroke and a black tadpole sitting side-by-side and Teddy remembered to rip this carefully off, in the way that Johan showed him, to expose a fresh sheet with other black lines on – this would be sure to assist him to understand that a whole day had passed and that another day of new adventures was awaiting him.

Teddy tugged at the upper sheet and carefully pulled it away from the calendar to expose a fresh sheet with a black line and a bent black line together. He spotted a small coloured picture of Daddy drawn in the lower corner of the sheet and a distant memory jogged his head and gently eased its way into his consciousness.

“It’s Daddy Day!” yelped Little Teddy, with a gasp of excitement, “I remember now – it’s Daddy Day!”

With a quick cry he leapt out of bed and down into the hall, where Johan was already dressed with his outdoor shoes and woollen hat.

“Shh!” whispered Johan, raising his index finger to his lips, “Be very quiet or you’ll wake Daddy. We’ve got an adventure to tackle before daddy wakes up.”

With that, Johan took his little bears hand and lovingly led him towards the front door and out into the garden. Step-by-step, they made their way to the very edge of Little Teddy’s world, the Garden Gate, and beyond that into new and exciting territories, the Wooded Dell.

“What are we coming here for?” enquired the little bear, his face aglow with excitement and the nervous apprehension that comes from leaving the sanctuary of the back garden. Johan bent down to Teddy’s face and pointed to the ground blanketed with fallen acorns, like spilt jewels from an upturned pirate’s chest.

“It’s Fathers’ Day,” he replied with a contented smile, “and today we need to make Daddy a special present.”

He bent down and carefully inspected a fallen acorn. He raised it to the air and allowed the morning sunshine to sparkle across its glossy crown and exaggerate the intrinsic beauty of such an ordinary mundane object.

“We need to find a perfect acorn,” Johan explained to his little bear, “One that is special, unique and perfect.”

With that, he tossed the acorn to the ground and picked up another, and another, and another. With each acorn, Johan inspected it fully and methodically from every angle. He held it up to the dappled light, which eased its way through the oak foliage, and allowed the sun to caress the chestnut-coloured exterior. Each time, there was some flaw: a subtle mark, an indistinct blemish and incorrect shading. Each time he would toss the acorn to the ground and move onto the next. Little Teddy looked in wonder at his boy and copied his movements, his gestures and his actions. He was determined to assist his boy complete the quest for the perfect acorn, even though he didn’t know exactly what the perfect acorn was.

Collecting Acorns

After an hour of searching Johan found what he was looking for. There was a beautifully formed acorn that lay symmetrically in its crusted case, with the slightest hint of a flawless twig branching out from beneath. The dappled sunlight sneaked its way through the dense oak foliage and danced upon its surface, like a thousand fairy wishes, and the reflection of an innocent boy’s face was captured in its glossy smooth exterior. Johan bent down to his teddy and showed him the beautiful acorn that he had discovered and Little Teddy just looked in awe – it truly was the perfect special acorn for a special father on a special day.

Little Teddy glanced down to the ground where there was a grubby broken acorn half-poked into the softened mud of the ground. He bent down and prised a single claw of his paw into the soft mud and picked it up. The acorn had a deep scratch grooved into its shell and the twig strutted out from the case awkwardly at an obtuse angle. Little Teddy passed it to Johan.

“I think I’ve found the perfect acorn too,” he said expectantly, his eyes glowing and his face beaming. “Wouldn’t Daddy love another acorn too?”

Johan smiled down at his beloved cherished bear in only the way that a small boy could. He took the acorn and wiped a smear of dirt off its shell and held it to the light too. The sunlight bounced abruptly off the discoloured shell and the acorn seemed to groan discordantly within the fingers of the small boy.

“Why, it’s perfect!” exclaimed Johan, “Simply perfect! You are such a wonderful little teddy. Daddy will be so pleased to have both of these.”

Johan smiled down at the expectant face of his teddy and placed the grubby acorn alongside his own, within his pocket. Then he picked the little bear up and hugged him tightly.

“You’re such a special little teddy and I do love you so,” Johan whispered into the ear of his toy and, with that, he carried him back to his home: for it had been a very long walk and the poor little bear was so very tired.

Little Teddy Gets Tired

On arriving home, Johan threaded the two acorns onto a shoelace and presented them to his father, who was working in the garden shed. His father laid down his working tools, took the acorn necklace delicately into his hands and placed it around his neck. He didn’t notice how one acorn was mangled and discoloured. He didn’t understand how his little boy has spent many many valuable hours of treasured playtime making him such a special gift. He just knew that he loved his son beyond what words could describe and that he treasured the gesture that his adored boy had performed.

Daddy Wears the Acorn Necklace

“Thank you Johan – I love do you so,” said Daddy as he took the boy into his arms and hugged him closely.

Little Teddy remained quiet, hanging limply from Johan’s hand. If you had looked closely, as Daddy hugged his son, you might have seen a wink from the teddy bear too for the bear was sure that his acorn was the best.

Skippy’s Gift (Part Two)

Little Teddy scratched his fluffy head with the claw of a paw and looked around for someone to write down the rest of the words of Skippy’s “Quest” story. The room was empty and no one appeared.

”I guess I’m gonna have to tell you what happened instead cos there’s no one around to note my words. Being’s I’m a bear, I can’t read or write so please ‘cuse me if I ramble about in a wiggly sorta way or if I can’t find the right words to say what happened. Perhaps you’ll understand, I’m only a teddy – but I was there and I saw everyfing that happened so this is what I saw.

Well, we got back to the cabin, me and Skippy, and we sat on the floor. Skippy had the gift in his pocket and we wanted to look at it more carefully somewhere safe – like in his cabin. So there we sat, me and Skippy, and we just looked at each other in that sorta expectant sorta way, ‘cos we knew that something special was about to happen.

We choose the cabin ‘cos it was safe in there and we didn’t want to get the gift out, only to find that it flew away or scarpered off into the woods. It had been hard gettin’ it and we both wanted to make sure that it kept safe. So there we sat, me and Skippy, and we just looked at each other.

Then slowly, oh so slowly, Skippy put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the gift. Then, oh so very gently, he placed it on the floor in front of us and we both looked at it. It just sat there; the gift, with me and Skippy lookin’ at it.

Skippy and Teddy in the Cabin

It was kinda beautiful, you must admit, it glowed with a slight gentle glow and it looked so beautiful, just sittin’ there on the rug on the floor alone in the safety of the cabin.

Carefully, Skippy knelt down close and peeped inside. He turned to me and whispered that he could see something inside and I was kinda impatient to find out what it was. I poked him a bit I asked him to look and find out. Skippy explained that it was some words and he showed me them. As I said, being a bear, the words were all wiggly and muddled and kinda long too so Skippy said that he would read them to me and that is what he did. It sounded more like a poem or a riddle than a gift and Skippy told me that this was exactly what it was. These are the words that he said:

Through century, locked door, dwells inky snaked trail,

Along rugged back high, lays stocking silk veil,

Sits lonely watchman, many eyes one head,

Find your precious gift, in tangle of thread.

They didn’t make any sense to me at all. I was stumped as to where a 100-year old door was or the whereabouts of a snake on the island. The watchman wearing silk stockings simply seemed too bizarre for even a bear to understand and I couldn’t work out what Skippy’s gift was.

Skippy asked me for help in trying to understand the message but the whole thing seemed a jumble of words and all I could suggest was that we went to the Fairy Dell and find Mister Wolf. Wolves are intelligent creatures and perhaps he could give us a hint or two.

Skippy carefully picked the gift up and placed it in his pocket. Then he picked me up too and walked me right down to the fairy dell. There was a fairy there playing in the woods and so we sat down on a bench and waited for Mister Wolf to come walkin’ past, as he tended to do. So we sat and watched the fairy dance in the long grass, and sat and watched, and sat and watched.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before Mister Wolf came by. Skippy excitedly told him all that had happened and how we had found the gift and what was inside and how we needed to find the answer to the riddle, in order to claim Skippy’s gift.

Now, here is the weird thing. I explained that wolves were intelligent creatures but I never realized how intelligent they were until that moment. I mean, I had heard it in stories and I had heard my boy read books – but it wasn’t until that moment that I finally understood how very intelligent wolves can be. The reason was, he never told us what the gift was – he simply asked questions. Bit-by-bit Skippy answered the questions and ended up telling Mister Wolf exactly what he had waited for Mister Wolf to tell him. That’s really weird – really weird indeed. It was like Mister Wolf knew the answer all the time and simply led Skippy and me to discover it for ourselves  -without actually sayin’ so. Mister Wolf just simply led us to the answer, without disclosin’ what that answer was. That’s why I say again, wolves are really intelligent.

Anyway, Skippy ended up tellin’ Mister Wolf that the century clue didn’t refer to the age of the door – it referred to the number one hundred, that was connected to the door. The snake was a metaphor for the path (whatever a meta-four is) and the path was inky black because the door was locked closed and the path led deep underground.

Skippy told Mister Wolf that there was a silky draped web hangin’ from the roof of the path, hidden in some rugged nook, and in this sat a solitary creature that had lots of eyes. Skippy explained that a spider had eight eyes and it was the only creature that he could think of that would sit absolutely still in a web of silk and so that was where he would find his gift.

Everything made perfect sense then. Obviously, the gift we were searchin’ for had become stuck on the sticky threads of the web and it was being safely guarded by a spider until the time when Skippy could claim it.

I know I do tend to hark on a bit – but I just wanted to end by saying how wise wolves are. Mister Wolf told us one thing before we thanked him and left him and the fairy and it was so important, I think I ought to say it separately.

“Sometimes, it’s not the destination that is important – it’s the journey that you take to get there.”

I didn’t quite understand what he meant by that when he said it but later, at the end of the quest, I did. I’ll leave it to you to ponder on as I continue.

So, after we had said our farewells to the fairy and Mister Wolf, Skippy carried me to the short way to the cavern. Strangely, it was only a few steps away from the fairy dell – it’s weird how things just fall into place when you want them to. It’s like the whole universe conspires to make things happen, ehh?

Luckily, in my rucksack, I had a pair of underground helmets. You might wonder how on earth I had them there but weird things occur in the world of fantasy and sometimes it pays not to ask questions but simply “go with the flow.” Anyway, me and Skippy went with the flow and took our helmets and walked to the locked door of the cavern, torches in hand.

Standing at the Cavern Door

Skippy fumbled around for a key and found that he could buy one for one hundred pounds – that kinda linked in with the riddle too! Soon we were off down the tunnel and it didn’t take long to find the spider’s web because the riddle explained exactly where it would be.

Searching for the Web

We spotted a glowing orb in the web, guarded by a spider and so Skippy lifted me up and jumped slightly so that I could reach up and pick the orb out of the web. It wasn’t that hard really and, with one snatch, I had it in my paw. I carefully passed the orb to Skippy – after all, it was his.

Skippy holds Teddy to reach the Web

We decided to continue to walk to the end of the tunnel to look inside the orb and discover the secret gift there, in the clearin’, and so we did. It was only a few more steps to the end so it only took a few seconds. When we got there, Skippy gently lowered me to the ground and we both sat down on the stoney floor. Skippy, careful peeped inside the orb.

Skippy and Teddy find out the Gift

Do you remember the parting words of Mister Wolf, about the journey being more important that the destination, ehh? Well, we found out what Skippy’s gift was – it all finally made sense. I could tell you that Skippy’s gift was that he is a “Weaver” and tell you what that means but I won’t. It’s not as important as the journey itself and how we got to that point. It all made sense to me at that moment – of course, yes, Skippy is a Weaver. After all, he can take the finest spider silk and make the most incredible ropes and ties with it. I think I knew that all the time. I think he did too. The important thing was that we had completed the quest together and had an amazin’ journey. We had met some amazin’ people and shared some memorable moments and that’s what counted.

Yeah, Skippy is a Weaver but I guessed, like us, you knew that all the time too.”


If you enjoyed reading this, take a look at Skippy’s two versions of these stories here:

The Riddle


Skippy’s Gift (Part One)

Everyone has a gift, something that identifies them as a person and makes them unique from others. Some people are lucky and have more than one special skill but, even for these people, one of their skills is the more dominant and it is that which defines who they are as a person.

Elves are no different – Elves have gifts too. The only difference between the gifts of an elf and the gift of a human is that elfin gifts tend to be somewhat more magical and mystical in nature. The elf Maxwell, for example, can talk to animals. He found that he had this gift right from his earliest days as an elfin child. He realised that the hushed whispers he overheard, when attending to his pets, where not the remnants of some far away echo from distant crowds but the incessant subdued chatter and gossip of the pets themselves. On his subsequent journeys, Maxwell met elves who could carve delicate runes into the clouds and record the histories of the earth within the very borders of the clouds themselves. He met river elves who could orchestrate the multitude of water drops that cascade from the heights of a waterfall to produce a magnificent symphony of sound and movement. He even met one elf who was a seeker, one who could explore and find any lost item, be it a forgotten word or a lost thought. There is such an array of special magical gifts to be found in the world of the sprites and one paragraph here hardly does justice to the width and depth of gifts that are to be seen there. However, that is another story and one that deserves an entry of its own.

Little Teddy knew what Maxwell’s gift was, for he had heard him chatting to the squirrels and butterflies in the woodland meadows as they played together. However, it did pass his mind many a time as to the nature of Skippy’s special gift and what it was that made Skippy so special in his life.

“Perhaps we ought to take butterfly nets,” suggested Teddy, “and we could hunt amongst the plants and flowers in the meadow. Perhaps we could find your gift there.”

Skippy and Teddy go butterfly catching

Skippy looked down lovingly at his little bear and nodded approvingly. It sounded like a good idea to him for, if they were to catch the gift, it would sparkle and shine within the net and cause it to glow with an iridescent light. So, the two of them set off to the tall grasses and flowers of the meadow and swept their butterfly nets too and fro in delicate arcs though the undergrowth. Despite spending several hour hunting in the flowers, neither Little Teddy nor Skippy were successful in finding anything other than a multitude of butterflies, moths and fireflies in their hoard.

“It’s time for bed,” sighed Skippy as he led his teddy back home, hand-in-hand, “We can always try again tomorrow. It’s bound to be hidden here somewhere and we have many long summer’s days filled with adventures with which to find it.”

The two of them trekked their way back home and Skippy gently tucked Teddy safely away for the evening as their elder brother, Kris, arrived and saw them saying their night time goodbyes. It wasn’t long before Teddy fell into the world of dreams and soon images of chasing mermaid in crystal seas with his brothers entered his sleepy night time world of nocturnal dreams. Kris bent over the sleeping teddy and gently brushed his cheek with a finger.

“Look inside the mussel shells!” he whispered into the dreamtime of Little Teddy, as the small bear lay there sleeping in a contented world of blissful slumber.

Even in the midnight world of dreams, hunting in the mussel shells, Little Teddy was unable to find Skippy’s gift. That one essential goal still eluded him and all he was able to find was an array of candyfloss pearls within each shell. The search for Skippy’s gift was going to be a long and difficult one and there were a million and one more places yet to be searched before the gift could be found.

The following day, Little Teddy lay on his back in the fairy ring and watched the passing clouds traverse the morning sky. The brothers were elsewhere playing games and doing things that only small boys can do and Teddy laid there waiting for their return so that he could once again play and help in the search for Skippy’s gift.

One-by-one magnificent massive monster clouds rolled across the open sky. One appeared to take the form of a two-headed dragon breathing a great billowing mass of fire and smoke. Little Teddy relaxed as he recalled his boy, Johan, and how he would enjoy playing monsters amongst upturned chairs in the kitchen. Another appeared to be a long and rolling steam train excluding a swirl of misty steam from its funnel. Little Teddy smiled as he recalled his recent train adventure with his boys, Kris and Skippy. Another took the form of a three-legged bear climbing into an overgrown bush. Little Teddy’s tummy rumbled as he thought of a hidden honey pot shrouded by the overgrown branches. Finally, one passing cloud took the shape of an up-side-down crocodile with a huge yawning gape in his jaws. The small teddy trembled with apprehension and thought to himself how, looking in a crocodile’s mouth would be the very last place he would ever want to search for Skippy’s gift.

Then, a stroke of genius struck the small bear’s conscience; they would, of course, search for Skippy’s gift until they found it and then they would stop looking. Therefore, the place that it would be found in would be the last place they would search. This he knew was correct. Therefore, all they had to do was to search in the last place first and then Skippy’s gift would be found. Little Teddy thought back to the passing clouds; the last place he would ever want to search for Skippy’s gift would be between the back teeth of a sleeping crocodile’s jaw and so, it made sense that that would be the very place where the gift was to be found. Little Teddy marvelled in his own sense of genius.

“That’s it!” he shrieked out aloud in his eureka moment, “Skippy’s gift is stuck between the back teeth of a sleeping crocodile!”

He yelped in delight in being able to determine the location of the hidden goal and could barely managed to contain himself as he waited for the return of the brothers later that day. When, finally, they did arrive and Little Teddy managed to exclaim his plan with excited squeals of delight, they decided that Skippy and Teddy should venture out and Kris should remain at home close to the telephone. It would be reassuring to have an emergency backup close the phone should anything go wrong, for this was indeed a very dangerous plan and one that could easily become fatal should it fail or go wrong. Kris explained that he would feel happier sitting by the phone in case the plan went wrong and Skippy and Teddy immediately began to plan for their incredible journey.

They would, of course, both require pith helmets and (since they were set to explore the deepest darkest jungles) a stout hand torch would be essential too. It was no problem finding torches, these were stashed away at home and every boy can tell you that it is no mean feat to lay ones hands upon a torch in a matter of seconds. There can be scarcely a boy alive who is not able to locate a torch, catapult and magnifying glass within three steps of his bed – however; a pith helmet was another matter. Where could they find a pith helmet with which to wear for protection on their dangerous journey? Little Teddy flicked though a shopping catalogue and found one that was suitable and it was very soon that he and Skippy had phoned for an urgent delivery. They both ran to the window and waited for their first glimpse of the postman who was sure to deliver their urgently required package. They knelt at the window with their noses pressed against the glass and waited …  and waited …  and waited. This was sure to be a difficult expedition if even the delivery of a pith helmet was fraught with problems!

Kris looked across to the two impatient characters at the window. He knew that the postman was going to take longer than a few minutes and he didn’t want his brother and his teddy to have to wait any longer than was possible before they could begin their journey of pretence and locate a sleeping crocodile in some distant jungle. In an act of selfless generosity, Kris hunted around in his store of playthings and found exactly what Skippy and Teddy needed for their journey.

“That is what a being a brother is all about,” thought Kris, “It’s only right to support Skippy to find his gift in whatever way I can – be it sitting by the phone for emergencies or by giving away the most treasured of toys and props so that Skippy and Teddy could play.”

Kris passed two special playthings across to his younger brother and his teddy and the three of them exchanged hugs before Skippy took teddy in his arms and ventured outside into the mammoth unknown jungle to continue their quest. This was turning into a quest that was fraught with adventure.

Skippy and Teddy wear their pith helmets

After many steps, too many to count, Skippy and Teddy found themselves deep in the darkest depths of the African jungle. They switched on their torches and looked around. Jungle vines draped from the canopy of trees, with shrubs and ferns making a blanket of green across the ground. Skippy turned his torch to the near distance and the beam gleaned upon the metallic surface of a red jungle buggy.

“Let’s be real explorers,” exclaimed Teddy, “and travel in a jungle buggy!”

And, with these words, he jumped into the driver’s position and pulled Skippy along side of him, into the adjacent seat.

Skippy and Teddy take the buggy

“Can you drive, Teddy?” enquired Skippy nervously; “This does look somewhat large for you.”

“Can I drive?” repeated Teddy, “Of course I can!”

And, with that, he pushed his foot hard down on the accelerator pedal and reversed into a large tree truck. Teddy swung the steering wheel to the left and the nose of the buggy clipped a second tree, showering the two companions with a gentle cascade of leaves from above. The engine clunked and whirred as Teddy pushed his foot hard down again and it nudged another tree and then into a large boulder, veering it from left to right, and sending a plume of mud flying from the two spinning rear wheels.

“Of course I can drive,” repeated Teddy, “I drive incredibly badly – what do you expect from a teddy?”

The buggy zigzagged left and right, up and down, in and out, round and about until they eventually arrived at a swamp where three crocodiles lay sunning themselves in the heat of the blazing sun. Skippy tactfully suggested that they dismount from the buggy as soon as possible and go to the crocodiles, where it might be somewhat safer. As he did so, one of the monsters gave a lazy sleepy yawn and a flash of ruby light shone from the back of its mouth. As the crocodile maintained its sleep-ridden yawn, Skippy and Teddy peered into the crocodile’s jaw and saw the glimmer of a ruby-coloured orb shine from between two of the back teeth.

Teddy spots Skippy’s gift

“Your gift!” exclaimed Teddy, “It’s your gift – We found your gift!”

Teddy took his torch and turned it to its side, wedging it between the upper and lower jaw of the crocodile and, as quick as a flash as the crocodile awoke, Skippy reached in and grabbed the shining orb from out of the crocodile’s jaws.

“Run for it!” shrieked Teddy, as the crocodile began to make sense of its surroundings and began to awaken from its slumber.

The two friends left the buggy where it stood and ran backwards into the jungle, back to the safety of the tall grass (where there hid a prowling lion.)

“Run for it!” shrieked Skippy, as the lion roared a mighty roar and bared its gleaming teeth.

A brush with a lion

The two friends scarpered from the tall grass and into a small clearing, next to the shade of a darken shape (the side of a mighty rhino.)

“Run for it!” shrieked Teddy, as the rhino reared up its head and looked threateningly at the two of them.

A brush with a rhino

Skippy and Teddy escaped through a gap between two trees and into a mass of overgrown shrubs (where there hid a slithering snake.)

“Run for it!” shrieked Skippy, as the snake coiled its body and spurted a spray of venom into the air.

The two of them dashed from the shrubs and into an enclosure, surrounded by thorns and thickets (where there lay a sleeping tiger.)

“Run for it!” they both shrieked, “It’s time to get home” and they made a hasty exit from the jungle surrounds and ran (without turning) to the distance. They had found the gift but what was it? They couldn’t wait to get home to look inside and discover what Skippy’s gift really was.

(To be continued.)

Little Teddy Meets Johan

There are some things that are better in pairs than alone. What is the attraction of fresh toast with no butter, an autumn conker with no shoelace or … consider this … a teddy bear with no master?

Little Teddy felt alone and incomplete with no master to look after him and play with him. In addition, there is the natural obligation for a teddy to offer complete love and loyalty to a human child and, without one, any teddy’s life lacks lustre and is of no value or no reason. With the departure of Kelii, due to the onset of adulthood, Little Teddy began to look around for a new master – someone who would care for him and love him without condition and someone to whom Teddy could return the innocent trust and affection that is only understood in the world of teddies.

It was on one December afternoon that Little Teddy first met a new friend. Teddy was sitting on the fishing quay at Nemo beach relaxing in the hazy sunshine as he overheard a shuffling coming from behind, from the insides of the Escapades Store. He craned his neck upwards and caught the glimpse of a small boy looking through the T-Shirts one at a time, pondering on which one to purchase.

“Red is best!” suggested Little Teddy helpfully, as he giggled playfully at his own bravery in daring to talk to a complete stranger.

The small boy turned around and his eyes sparkled in the afternoon sun as he looked out, towards the quay. With a fleeting glimpse, Little Teddy caught sight of the boy’s soul through the glassy facades of the boy’s first glance and he knew at once that he was looking into the face of someone he could trust.

“Red? And what would you know?” replied the boy playfully, looking down on the face of the teddy that peered up over the boardwalks of the quay from below.

Little Teddy took his cue effectively and immediately delivered a lecture on the quirks of boyhood fashion, drawn from the many years of his own past with his old master. He recalled how Kelii would dress him in an array of multiple hats or how Kelii would share his birthday and Christmas wish lists with him. Teddy recounted fancy dress parades in the garden and Saturday afternoons shopping with Kelii and his mummy. Immediately the air was buzzing with conversation and playful laughter as the two strangers giggled and bantered and they, at once, felt at ease in the company of the other.

And so, one event led to another and the seeds of friendship were sown from that moment on. Day by day, the little boy returned to the fishing quay, hoping to see the courageous little bear that had dared to speak to a stranger, and the little bear returned, hoping to discover more about the youthful innocent play friend that he had found in the store.

Little Teddy discovered that the boy was named “Johan” and that Johan was a monster. Johan discovered that Teddy kept bees and that Teddy loved the taste of honey. Teddy discovered that Johan loved spaceships and that he was excellent at climbing trees. Johan discovered that Teddy’s favourite colour was red and that he had a compulsion of pressing buttons. Little-by-little the two characters began to find out more and more about the other and little-by-little the two became inseparable.

It was, in fact, a full months before Johan discovered the most important thing about Little Teddy and that, strangely, it was something that the little bear knew nothing about, nothing about until the April that followed that first meeting. Tucked safely away in a box inside Teddy’s home was a small piece of paper, carefully placed there by Kelii so many years before. Teddy had found it neatly folded and safely stashed in Teddy’s treasure trove; a box full of amazing trinkets and useless junk that only a teddy would find of value.  As teddy had sorted through his conch shell, his peacock’s feather, his pirate’s coin, his porcupine quiver, he had noticed a small rectangular folded paper sheet that he hadn’t noticed before. He inquisitively handed the paper to Johan who began to unfold the note and read the words aloud with a sense of bewilderment.

Johan recounted the words one by one, pausing at each one, trying to make sense of the seemingly random sequence of abstract terms, “Cirrus. Socrates. Particle. Decibel. Hurricane. Dolphin. Tulip.”

Little did he know at that time that, what he had just uttered was the start of the imprinting protocol for Little Teddy. Instinctively (and without any logic other than the subconscious law that governs our own fates and very being) he added his own name into the last three words, “Johan, Teddy, Johan”

“It’s just some weird poem, Teddy,” explained Johan with confussion, “It doesn’t even make sense!”

Little Teddy didn’t care whether the poem made sense, whether it rhymed or not – he didn’t even care that he didn’t care. However, he did know that the most amazing and wonderful little boy stood before him and that he cared intrinsically that this boy should be totally happy.

“Let’s catch fireflies,” suggested Teddy, as he pointed to the tall grass that lay before the two of them, beckoning them forwards with its undulating green waving fingers that danced with the gentle breeze. “It’s a perfect day for fireflies!”Image

Little Teddy Meets Tiny

Have you ever had that strange uncanny feeling that you are not alone? Whether you call it your sixth sense, a psychic ability or a natural heightened sense of awareness of danger, most of us have experienced the unease of feeling watched. Little Teddy had just that same feeling. He didn’t know whether it was the wolf-like howling, the heavy canine panting, the excited barking or simply the soft brush of a fur-covered tail against his face as a four-legged shadowy creature bounded past him but something told him that he was not alone. Little Teddy’s gaze diverted from the buzzing ambling insects darting too and fro between the summer’s rich blossoms and he stared across into the undergrowth of the meadow, to where the bounding shadow had darted away, into the depths of the swaying tall grasses.

“What on earth …” began Teddy with an astonished cry but, before he could finish his exclamation, a dark ebony muzzle poked back out from the tall stems of grass and Little Teddy found himself looking straight into a tiny pair of glossy eyes that beamed with a playful innocence of fun.

The head extended forward to reveal a surround of short golden-brown hair that shone with a rich radiance and it opened to reveal a sugar-pink tongue that drooled and slopped about. The head continued with its forward motion and nuzzled into Little Teddy’s face, coarsely grating Teddy’s fur with long slender licks of its tongue.

“Hey! Hey!” Little Teddy giggled with playful glee as he made half-hearted attempts to back away from the affection that he was receiving. His initial apprehension evaporated like the early mist on a summer’s morning and he found himself enjoying the novel friendly greeting of this new companion. He looked over the creature with an enquiring eye and marveled in the strength of its features, the muscular build upon its limbs and the symmetry of its pair of pointed upright ears.

Little Teddy looked up at the size of the new arrival and exclaimed with a sense of determined assertion, “What a beautiful horse you are. I’ve never seen such a magnificent beast!”

Teddy stepped back from the tall grass and the beast followed. With every few small bear footsteps that he took, the beast took one stride to remain at his side.

“Haven’t you a home to go to, Mister Horse?” Little Teddy enquired of the beast, as he continued his steps back through the meadow grass. The beast replied with a whimper and continued to follow the little bear as he backed through the undergrowth.

“You can’t stay with me,” continued the small bear with a sense of resignation, Surely, you have an owner and a home to return to.”

The beast yapped a playful bark and ran around the small confused bear with lighthearted bounds. Little Teddy stepped out of the meadow and onto the warm golden sands of the adjacent beach. The beast followed his every step and remained faithfully by his side as he walked.

“Well …” continued the bear, “… I guess I could look after you until someone comes to claim you. After all, I can’t leave you alone in the meadow with no one to care for you.”

And with that, Little Teddy stepped out onto the beach, for the long walk home to his seaside cabin. He gazed up at the gigantic creature towering over him.

“You make me feel so tiny!” he sighed

He paused on the word “Tiny” and repeated it again in contemplation.

“Tiny … Tiny … That would be the ideal name for you!” he chucked and he called the name aloud once again. “Tiny!”

With a bark, the creature bounded around Little Teddy and, with a gentle flick of its soft muzzle, lifted him onto his back. The small bear found himself being carried along the edge of the beach, in the direction of his home.

“Well …” exclaimed the bear, “You are one mighty fine horse and I am so glad that I found you.”

He learnt forward and grasped the beast’s neck with his soft stubby arms. Little Teddy hugged the strong muscular neck, as he rode upon its back.

“I’m Little Teddy …” he whispered into one of the beast’s pointed upright ears. “… and I think you are the most amazing horse I have ever seen.”

Tiny gave a contented yap and continued with his gigantic steps across the sand, towards Teddy’s cabin. He couldn’t explain to the small teddy that he had been abandoned and nor could he explain to the teddy how much he thought of his new friend but somehow (call it a sixth sense, a psychic ability or a natural heightened sense of awareness) Little Teddy knew.Image

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