Once upon a time there was a cowardly boy called Robert MacDonald. He was on the way to see his Andrew Thunder, when he decided to take a short cut through New Swamp.
It wasn’t long before Robert got lost. He looked around, but all he could see were trees. Nervously, he felt into his bag for his favourite toy, Blankey, but Blankey was nowhere to be found! Robert began to panic. He felt sure he had packed Blanket. To make matters worse, he was starting to feel hungry.
Unexpectedly, he saw a cunning horse dressed in a pink waistcoat disappearing into the trees.
“How odd!” thought Robert.
For the want of anything better to do, he decided to follow the peculiarly dressed horse. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.
Eventually, Robert reached a clearing. He found himself surrounded by houses made from different sorts of food. There was a house made from red cabbages, a house made from sweets, a house made from cakes, a house made from chocolates and a house made from muffins.
Robert could feel his tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease his hunger.
“Hello!” he called. “Is anybody there?”
Robert looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else’s chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a whole house, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.
A cackle broke through the air, giving Robert a fright. A witch jumped into the space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Blankey!
“Blankey!” shouted Robert. He turned to the witch. “That’s my toy!”
The witch just shrugged.
“Give Blankey back!” cried Robert.
“Not on your nelly!” said the witch.
“At least let Blankey out of that cage!”
Before she could reply, four cunning horses rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the clearing. Robert recognised the one in the pink waistcoat that he’d seen earlier. The witch seemed to recognise him too.
“Hello Big Horse,” said the witch.
“Good morning.” The horse noticed Blankey. “Who is this?”
“That’s Blankey,” explained the witch.
“Ooh! Blankey would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!” demanded the horse.
The witch shook her head. “Blankey is staying with me.”
“Um… Excuse me…” Robert interrupted. “Blankey lives with me! And not in a cage!”
Big Horse ignored him. “Is there nothing you’ll trade?” he asked the witch.
The witch thought for a moment, then said, “I do like to be entertained. I’ll release him to anybody who can eat a whole front door.”
Big Horse looked at the house made from muffins and said, “No problem, I could eat an entire house made from muffins if I wanted to.”
“That’s nothing,” said the next horse. “I could eat two houses.”
“There’s no need to show off,” said the witch. Just eat one front door and I’ll let you have Blankey.”
Robert watched, feeling very worried. He didn’t want the witch to give Blankey to Big Horse. He didn’t think Blankey would like living with a cunning horse, away from his house and all his other toys.
The other three horses watched while Big Horse put on his bib and withdrew a knife and fork from his pocket.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Big Horse. “Just you watch!”
Big Horse pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from sweets. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
Eventually, Big Horse started to get bigger – just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of sweets, he grew to the size of a large snowball – and he was every bit as round.
“Erm… I don’t feel too good,” said Big Horse.
Suddenly, he started to roll. He’d grown so round that he could no longer balance!
“Help!” he cried, as he rolled off down a slope into the forest.
Big Horse never finished eating the front door made from sweets and Blankey remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
Average Horse stepped up, and approached the house made from cakes.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Average Horse. “Just you watch!”
Average Horse pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from cakes. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
After a while, Average Horse started to look a little queasy. She grew greener…
A woodcutter walked into the clearing. “What’s this bush doing here?” he asked.
“I’m not a bush, I’m a horse!” said Average Horse.
“It talks!” exclaimed the woodcutter. “Those talking bushes are the worst kind. I’d better take it away before somebody gets hurt.”
“No! Wait!” cried Average Horse, as the woodcutter picked her up. But the woodcutter ignored her cries and carried the horse away under his arm.
Average Horse never finished eating the front door made from cakes and Blankey remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
Little Horse stepped up, and approached the house made from chocolates.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Little Horse. “Just you watch!”
Little Horse pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from chocolates. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
After five or six platefuls, Little Horse started to fidget uncomfortably on the spot.
He stopped eating chocolates for a moment, then grabbed another forkful.
But before he could eat it, there came an almighty roar. A bottom burp louder than a rocket taking off, propelled Little Horse into the sky.
“Aggghhhhhh!” cried Little Horse. “I’m scared of heigh…”
Little Horse was never seen again.
Little Horse never finished eating the front door made from chocolates and Blankey remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
Tiny Horse stepped up, and approached the house made from muffins.
“I’ll eat this whole house,” said Tiny Horse. “Just you watch!”
Tiny Horse pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from muffins. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.
However, on the next mouthful, the food fell straight out of Tiny Horse’s mouth. She tried to stuff in another forkful of muffins, but once again, the food fell out. There just wasn’t enough room left in her belly.
“This is just not fair!” declared Tiny Horse, and stomped off into the forest.
Tiny Horse never finished eating the front door made from muffins and Blankey remained trapped in the witch’s cage.
“That’s it,” said the witch. “I win. I get to keep Blankey.”
“Not so fast,” said Robert. “There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from red cabbages. And I haven’t had a turn yet.
“I don’t have to give you a turn!” laughed the witch. “My game. My rules.”
The woodcutter’s voice carried through the forest. “I think you should give him a chance. It’s only fair.”
“Fine,” said the witch. “But you saw what happened to the horses. He won’t last long.”
“I’ll be right back,” said Robert.
“What?” said the witch. “Where’s your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Blankey back.”
Robert ignored the witch and gathered a hefty pile of sticks. He came back to the clearing and started a small camp fire. Carefully, he broke off a piece of the door of the house made from red cabbages and toasted it over the fire. Once it had cooked and cooled just a little, he took a bite. He quickly devoured the whole piece.
Robert sat down on a nearby log.
“You fail!” cackled the witch. “You were supposed to eat the whole door.”
“I haven’t finished,” explained Robert. “I am just waiting for my food to go down.”
When Robert’s food had digested, he broke off another piece of the door made from red cabbages. Once more, he toasted his food over the fire and waited for it to cool just a little. He ate it at a leisurely pace then waited for it to digest.
Eventually, after several sittings, Robert was down to the final piece of the door made from red cabbages. Carefully, he toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. He finished his final course. Robert had eaten the entire front door of the house made from red cabbages.
The witch stamped her foot angrily. “You must have tricked me!” she said. “I don’t reward cheating!”
“I don’t think so!” said a voice. It was the woodcutter. He walked back into the clearing, carrying his axe. “This little boy won fair and square. Now hand over Blankey or I will chop your broomstick in half.”
The witch looked horrified. She grabbed her broomstick and placed it behind her. Then, huffing, she opened the door of the cage.
Robert hurried over and grabbed Blankey, checking that his favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Blankey was unharmed.
Robert thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Andrew. It was starting to get dark.
When Robert got to Andrew’s house, his threw his arms around him.
“I was so worried!” cried Andrew. “You are very late.”
As Robert described his day, he could tell that Andrew didn’t believe him. So he grabbed a napkin from his pocket.
“What’s that?” asked Andrew.
Robert unwrapped a doorknob made from sweets. “Pudding!” he said.
Andrew almost fell off his chair.