Here is a short story I wrote last winter, to entertain two shy, young children!
Willoughby Whitney’s Mishap
It was winter in the big wood, and if a girl or boy would have walked through it in the white month of January they would have found it quite still and quiet. Many of the beautiful birds had flown south to where it was warmer, and many of the four-legged animals were sleeping the cold away in their warm homes. Of course if one listened very closely they might hear the pitter patter crunch of papa Tigglebaums little feet as he scavenged for a treat for the Tigglebaum children. It was just such a day and papa was hurrying home with his basket over his arm and an excited look on his face.
When he entered he found Mama Tigglebaum in front of the fire making a large batch of porridge. “How are you this morning my dear?” asked Papa as he set his empty basket on the table. “Very well thank you! And how was your search in this blustery weather? You must be chilled to the bone, come sit by the fire and warm yourself. I’ll fetch your tea and your porridge in but a minute,” cried Mama in one long breath as she bustled about. Just then the children burst forth from their room with wild hollers and squeals of delight at the sight of Papa sitting in his easy chair by the fire. The oldest Tigglebaum was named Henry, the next was Ellen and the youngest was Bill, and all at once they descended upon Papa begging for the treat that he brought them without fail. “Well,” said Papa “First you must all eat your porridge and finish your lessons and then I shall tell you of the surprise.” “Oh Papa please won’t you tell us know?” begged Ellen while Bill scrambled up onto Papa’s lap. “Please give us just a hint,” cried Henry. “No my dears,” laughed Papa “You must be patient and finish your work but I will not say a word!” The Tigglebaum family finally settled to the table, Papa said grace and they all ate heartily. After breakfast the children practiced reading, arithmetic and history, until Mama said they might go. “Everyone put on your warmest clothes,” said Mama “And then come to me for inspection.” An excited scuttle followed before all three lined up for inspection.” An excited scuttle followed before all three lined up to be looked over. “Alright, you may go!” said mamma. “But stay with Papa all the while.”
The young Tigglebaums followed closely behind papa who carried a large and knobby sack ever his shoulder, whistling as he walked. After a short but brisk tramp the Tigglebaums came to the small pool in the centre of the wood. “Well,” said papa “This is the surprise! Go ahead, walk on it” “Hurrah, hurrah,” all cried at once. “Here are your skates my dears,” laughed papa as he handed them out to his waiting children. As soon as everyone had fastened on their skates the slender form of Willoughby Whitney appeared from behind a tree. “Hello mates,” he said as he casually strapped on his skates. “Oh why did that weasel have to show up and ruin our fun?” moaned Ellen to her brothers. “Weasel!” exclaimed Willoughby pretending to be angry. “I am an ermine, thank you very much . So don’t call me ‘weasel’,” finished Willoughby almost shouting. “Now, now children let’s not have a row,” said papa with a sigh, “And all of you be careful of the middle, the ice might not be hard enough. That goes for you to Willoughby; you remember your accident last fall and how you haven’t been able to swim well since.”
All of the animals stepped carefully onto the ice and then began skating around the edge as daringly as they knew how. Willoughby started with skating fast around Ellen and Bill, who were both rather wobbly, because you see Willoughby was quite a naughty young weasel who at times was a bit of a bully. He laughed at the young Tigglebaums as he skated nearer and nearer the centre of the pond. No one paid him much attention and papa and the children raced and played until they heard a splash followed by a scream. Papa turned just in time to see Willoughby fall through a hole in the ice. As fast as he could papa ran towards the hole, “Henry fetch a stick or rope or something, but hurry,” he called as he went. Even though Henry did not like Willoughby he obeyed papa and frantically searched the bank for something papa could use to pull Willoughby out with. Papa carefully sprawled on the thin ice near the hole. “Willoughby, give me your paw,” called papa. Gasping and spluttering Willoughby reached for the offered paw but slipped and disappeared beneath the icy water. As he was quite a young weasel and as he had been in an accident in the fall, poor Willoughby forgot nearly all he knew of swimming in the freezing water. At that moment Henry found a suitable stick and raced as fast as he could to papa, who took it and implored Willoughby to grab the stick. Finally the unfortunate Willoughby caught hold of the stick and held on for dear life, while papa Tigglebaum and Henry did their best to pull him out. The Tigglebaums’ fun was cut a bit short, since papa and Henry helped Willoughby home.
On the Whitney’s front porch, Mr. Whitney scolded Willoughby for not heading papa Tigglebaum. Then he questioned his son as to why he did not just climb out himself. “Oh Father, I was so startled and the water was so cold,” whimpered Willoughby who then turned to papa. “I am so sorry I didn’t listen to your warning, Mr. Tigglebaum.” “I forgive you lad,” said papa.
When the entire Tigglebaum family was gathered around the glowing fire at home, they told mama about their adventure, and papa said to his children, “I am very proud of you all for obeying me today. Willoughby Whitney’s mishap has shown us how dangerous disobedience can be.” “Very true papa,” said mama with a smile at her brave and obedient children.
By Ia Stavig