wildforce71: Takeru smiling. Sort of. A bit. (Default)
[personal profile] wildforce71
Gobbolino is the story I remember most from my childhood. Like, if you don't like this, you may as well just unfriend me now, that is how much I love this story. This version is shortened and adapted from Ursula Moray William's novel, which I only read years later when I was in charge of ordering books for the children's bookshop I worked in before my current job.

Also, I have figured out, I think, how to embed the audio files for these stories; I'll go back and do the old ones over the next little while. I would really, really appreciate you guys letting me know if A) it works, and B) you prefer it with or without audio.

Gobbolino is in four parts.

On a dark and cloudy night, two tiny kittens crept out on the cave where they had been born. It was the first time they had set foot outside the cave. It was so dark that Gobbolino could barely see his twin sister, Sootica. She was as black as the night itself.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked Gobbolino.

“Oh, I’ll be a witch’s cat like Ma,” said Sootica. “I’ll learn magic and how to ride a broomstick and turn mice into frogs and frogs into guinea-pigs. I’ll fly on the night wind with the bats and the owls saying Mee-eee-ow! And people will say There goes Sootica, the witch’s cat!”

Gobbolino was silent for a long time. Then he said: “I’ll be a kitchen cat. I’ll sit by the fire with my paws tucked under my chest and purr. When the children of the house come in from school they’ll pull my ears and tickle and tease me. I’ll mind the house and chase the mice and watch the baby. And when all the children are in bed I’ll climb on to their mother’s lap. And they’ll call me Gobbolino, the kitchen cat.”

“Don’t you want to be bad?”

“No,” said Gobbolino. “I want to be good so that people will love me. People don’t love a witch’s cat.”

Just then a ray of moonlight fell across the kittens. Sootica hissed and arched her back. “Brother! Brother! One of your paws is white!”

Everyone knows that witches’ kittens are black all over, from head to foot, with eyes as green as grass. In the deep, dark cave, nobody had noticed. But now the moonbeam lit up a pure white sock. And his lovely round eyes were...blue!

Sootica rushed into the cave. “Ma! Gobblino has a white sock! And blue eyes! And he wants to be a kitchen cat!”

Her mother came to the mouth of the save. The witch was not far behind. They knocked Gobbolino head over heels, cuffed his ears, pulled his tails and threw him into the darkest, dampest corner of the cave, among the witch’s toads.

Later he heard the witch talking to his mother: “Sootica will make a clever little witch’s cat. But what shall we do with Gobbolino?”

When the moon rose, the witch and her cat mounted their broomstick with the two kittens in a bag behind them.They flew so fast that little Gobbolino, peeping through a hole in the sack, saw the stars flutter plast like a shower of diamonds. It made him dizzy to look down. Sootica mewed with joy, but Gobbolino shivered and tears of terror dropped on to his white front paw. “Oh please, please stop! Please!” he cried. But no one paid any attention.

At last the witch and her broomstick swooped down on to Hurricane Mountain. An ugly old hag lived there who agreed at once to take Sootica and train her to be a witch’s cat.

Sootica was so happy that she hardly stopped to say goodbye to her little brother. She wanted to begin learning how to turn people into frogs and toads.

But the hag refused to take Gobbolino. “A witch’s cat with a white paw! No-one will want him!”

So Gobbolino rode away on the broomstick behind his mother and the witch. They visited fifty caves, but none of the other witches wanted Gobbolino because of his white paw and blue eyes. They flew home again, and the witch flung Gobbolino back among the toads.

In the morning he woke up and found himself all alone. The witch and his mother had gone. “Suppose they never come back. Oh, what shall i do?”

But then an idea struck him. “Now I never have to be a witch’s cat. I can go and find a happy home to live in forever and ever!” And he stopped crying.

The witch’s cave was on the edge of a forest, not far from a river. Gobbolino washed his face and coat very carefully, and then trotted through the fields till the forest was out of sight. In front of him was the bubbling river, with bright fishes in it that made his mouth water.

Quite soon, a lovely trout - pink and gold and blue - swam slowly towards him. Gobbolino trembled with excitement and lifted a front paw. At the same moment the trout saw him and flashed by with a swish of its tail. The kitten made one wild grab, overbalanced, and tumbled into the water.

There was a terrible splash. Then he began to swim, as only a witch’s cat can. He swam and swam as the river carried him far from the cave where he was born. He swam until the river ran into farmland. Some children were playing on the bank.

“Look! Look!” they shouted. “There’s a kitten out there in the water!”

“He’ll drown!” cried one of the girls.

“Quick! Quick! Get him out!”

They boys ran to the bank with a stick and fished Gobbolino out, dripping wet.

“What bright blue eyes!”

“He’s got three black paws…”

“And one pure white!”

The children took Gobbolino home to the farm to show him to their mother. And it had the kind of kitchen little Gobbolino had dreamed of! There were bright pans on the shelves, a blazing fire, and a baby in a cradle…

“Oh what a lucky cat I am!” Gobbolino thought. “Now I can settle down and be a kitchen cat for ever.”

The farmer’s wife took Gobbolino on her lap and wiped his wet fur with a warm cloth. “Now where do you come from, little cat? How did you come to fall in the river? You might have been drowned.”


When his fur was dry, the farmer’s wife gave him a drink of warm milk. And when she went to milk the cows, he played with the children. Every witch’s kitten knows all sorts of tricks, and though Gobbolino wanted to be a kitchen cat, he knew them all. He made blue sparks come out of his whiskers and red ones out of his nose. And to the children’s delight he made himself invisible, then reappeared, hiding himself in all sorts of strange places.

In the middle of all his fun, the farmer came in to tea. He saw Gobbolino’s tricks, but said nothing. The children were sent off to their beds, and the little cat curled up in a box under the kitchen table.

The fire died down. Gobbolino slept peacefully, dreaming and purring. Then, suddenly…

Tap! Tap! Tap! A hobgoblin peered in at the window. Gobbolino sat up and whispered, “Who’s there?”

“Come and let me in, little cat!” said the hobgoblin.

Gobbolino sat and stared at him.

“What a lovely kitchen. What bright dishes! What a pretty cradle! What a warm fire. Won’t you let me come in?”

But Gobbolino only sat and stared at him. The hobgoblin began to rattle the window. “You kitchen cats are all the same. Look at you, all warm and safe. Look at me - lonely and cold outside!”

When Gobbolino heard this, he remembered being lonely and lost. He trotted to the window. “You can come in and get warm for a while,” he said.

The hobgoblin jumped through the window and left dirty wet footmarks all across the kitchen floor. “How are you? How are your family?” he asked, giving Gobbolino’s tail a pull.

“My mother has gone away with my mistress the witch!” replied Gobbolino. “And my little sister Sootica has been apprenticed to a hag on Hurricane Mountain. I don’t know how they are.”

“Oho!” grinned the hobgoblin. “So you’re a witch's kitten?”

“Oh no! Not any more. this afternoon I became a kitchen cat and I’ll be a kitchen cat for ever and ever.”

The hobgoblin laughed loudly, and turned head over heels. He knocked some knitting off the chair and it became tangled round the table legs.

“Oh, do be careful!” cried Gobbolino. But the hobgoblin ran into the larder and shut the door. The kitten trotted round trying to pick up the stitches. But it was no good. The hobgoblin bounced out of the larder. He had eaten all the cream.

“Well, I’m going! Goodnight, little witch’s kitten!” said the hobgoblin, jumping out of the window.

Gobbolino trotted back to his box and slept. Early in the morning, the farmer’s wife came downstairs. She found her knitting in a tangle and all the cream stolen from the larder. Written across the floor in milky letters were the words:


“Look at this mess,” she yelled.

“I told you so!” said the farmer. “He’s a witch’s cat, and no good to anyone. I’m going to drown him!”

When Gobbolino heard the farmer’s angry voice he was out of his box in one bound and out of the kitchen door, across the cobble-stones, past the hayricks, and up the hill.

“Yesterday I was a witch’s cat,” thought Gobbolino. “Last night I was a kitchen cat. Now it look as if I’ll have to be some other kind of cat. I wonder what kind it will be?”



wildforce71: Takeru smiling. Sort of. A bit. (Default)

March 2017


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