wildforce71: (triskell)
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One dark night, little Gobbolino was trotting along a lonely forest road. Then he saw an old woodcutter walking along in front of him, carrying a heavy load of wood. Feeling lost and lonely, Gobbolino was delighted to see someone, so he followed silently at the woodcutter’s heels until they reached a tiny cottage. The old man threw down his bundle of sticks, and only then did he see Gobbolino.

"Well! Where did you come from?" he said. "Perhaps you’re hungry. Would you like a saucer of milk in my kitchen?" And he opened the door to the cottage.

Gobbolino was amazed. In the kitchen stood Rosabel, the serving girl who had looked after the Lady Alice in the forest tower. She was the woodcutter’s grand-daughter!

"Rosabel! What are you doing here?" shouted the old man. "Why aren’t you with your lady at the tower?"

Before she could answer the girl saw Gobbolino in the doorway. "Send him away!" she screamed. "Send him away! He’s a witch’s cat! He made the tower fall down and he woke up the dragon. Turn him out, grandfather!"

But the woodcutter picked up Gobbolino and spoke to him gently. "Is this true? Are you a witch’s cat?"

Gobbolino just gave a long, sad meee-oww.

The old man could not believe that such a pretty little cat could do anything really bad, and he refused to turn Gobbolino out. And although at first Rosabel sulked and refused to talk to Gobbolino, after a few days she began to like him.

Every morning Gobbolino sat comfortably in a chair while Rosabel washed the dishes and cooked the dinner. And every evening she would ask her grandfather for money to buy a new dress. She begged and pleaded so much that at last he gave her a silver coin. Now Rosabel had to wait for the peddler-woman to pass the cottage, selling her silks and satins.

A few days later the peddler-woman arrived. "Come in by my fire and have a cup of tea and show me your wares," said Rosabel. The woman laughed as she tied up her donkey outside the cottage door. There was something about her cackle that made Gobbolino prick up his ears and look at her closely. Only witches laugh like that and have such long, crooked noses, he thought.

At last Rosabel chose a material the colour of pure gold. So bright that it glittered in the sunlight.

"How much would it cost to make a dress of this beautiful gold satin?" she asked.

"Two silver pieces!" said the witch.

"But I only have one!"

"What! Do you think I can give it away?" And the witch began gathering up her things.

"Stop! Wait! Won’t you take something in exchange?" begged the girl. "Won’t you take my silver piece and one of these cakes. Or my silk bedspread? Or our cuckoo clock?"

"Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!" laughed the old woman. "I eat wild berries and I sleep in ditches and I tell the time by the sun and the moon. Don’t offer me cakes or bedspreads or clocks. But there is just one thing I will take in exchange, my dear. Give me that handsome cat and the silver piece and you can have the satin."

"But the cat belongs to my grandfather!" said Rosabel. "He would never forgive me if I gave away Gobbolino."

"Hmm, well, never mind. I will be at the wooden hut on the edge of the forest for 3 days if you change your mind."

For the next two days, Rosabel was very bad-tempered. But then she suddenly changed. She poured Gobbolino out a saucer of cream and whispered, "Beautiful Gobbolino. Look at this. It’s my best velvet bag. Wouldn’t it make a handsome bed for you?"

"How kind," thought Gobbolino. "How wrong of me to think that she was bad-tempered!" And he hopped inside the bag at once. The moment he was inside Rosabel drew the strings tight so that he could not get out.

"Ha! Ha! Now I can have my gold dress. I’ll tell grandfather you ran away." And she hurried through the forest with the velvet bag until she reached the hut.

The old woman was just packing up to leave. "Ho! Ho!" she croaked. "I knew you would come." She took the bag and hung it on the donkey’s saddle, and gave Rosabel the gold satin in exchange for Gobbolino and the silver coin.

For weeks Gobbolino traveled through dreary witch country, where the sun never shone. Then the peddler-woman paid a visit to a friend of hers who lived in a cave high on a mountain. At the mouth of the cave sat a young black cat with eyes as green as grass. It was Gobbolino’s twin sister Sootica! The little cats were very glad to see each other. They shared a bowl of soup cooked in the witch’s cauldron and Sootica showed Gobbolino all the witch’s cat tricks she had learned.

She made strange music come out of the cauldron and flying pigs swoop about the cave. She made the witch invisible and for a moment turned Gobbolino bright red. "Now show us some of your tricks, Gobbolino!"

"He can’t do anything at all," sneered the old peddler-woman. "A few sparks, a bit of disappearing, the odd prank. But he refuses to do anything bad!"

"It’s true," said Gobbolino. "I never wanted to be a witch’s cat. Witches’ cats are bad, bad, bad. And witches’ spells are so cruel!"

"Miserable cat!" shrieked the witch. "Cruel? What kind of a word is that for a witch’s cat?" And she picked him up and hurled him into the cauldron. He sank and bobbed and gasped... and all the magic that made him a witch’s cat washed off in the witch’s brew.

"Jump up behind me, brother," said Sootica, as she mounted a broomstick. Gobbolino struggled out of the cauldron and on to the broom. It soared up, up, up, higher and higher above Hurricane Mountain.

"Oh thank you for saving me, Sootica!" sobbed Gobbolino. "Thank you!"

"No need for thanks," said Sootica. "After all, you are my brother. But you’re a disgrace to the family and I never want to see you again. I’m going to drop you now. It’s time I was going home." The next moment she cried "Jump!" and gave Gobbolino a little push with her paw.

Down, down, down he fell until he splashed into a cold river. "Oh, I’m drowning, I’m drowning!" cried Gobbolino. As a witch’s kitten he had swum like a fish. But now he found he could only struggle and flap the water.

Luckily some children were playing on the bank. "Look! Look!" they cried. "A little cat! Quick! Quick! Get it out!"

The boys ran to get a stick and fished out Gobbolino, all dripping wet.

"Oh!" they cried. "It’s Gobbolino - the kitten we rescued ages ago. Can you still blow sparks out of your nose? Can you still become invisible?"

He shook his head sadly, but the children still hugged him and carried him home. "Look what we found drowning in the river!" they said to their father. "The witch’s kitten has come back again!"

"Witch’s kittens swim, they don’t drown," he said. Then he took Gobbolino out of their hands and looked at him very carefully. "This isn’t a witch’s kitten," he said. "It’s a common kitchen cat!"

"Can we keep him then?"

"I don’t see why not." One by one the delighted children went off to bed. The farmer’s wife gave Gobbolino a saucer of cream. Then he crept on to her lap and dozed.

At last, after so many strange adventures, Gobbolino was happy and content. He had found a home for ever. He was Gobbolino, the kitchen cat!


(I'm just pointing out, in the novel Rosabel gets lost on her way home and her cloth is all torn up by brambles and stained by mud. I'm just putting that there. For karma.)


https://soundcloud.com/jenn-mitchell-984638890/cobbolino-the-kitchen-cat

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