By Sally Rippin
Come for a wander with me, sproggin. I have a special place to show you. It’s not far, but we have to walk through the woods. Your mammy told you never to walk through the woods, did she? Well, sprog, I wouldn’t worry about your mammy. She’s not around now, is she? There’s just me. Now, come along.
It’s dark in the woods, is it deary? Well, don’t you worry, your peepers will soon become accustomed. Look now, the clouds have rolled back and there shines the moon, all fullsome, upon our path. Just keep walking. It’s not far now.
What’s that sound, you say? Well, that be the wolves, my child. Wolves are always a-howling when the moon comes out. Don’t let it fear you. Those wolves may be hungry but they’re far, far away. And anyways, you be safe with me.
Keep up now, child. Don’t want to be losing yerself among the leafy-tallings now, do you? The woods is no place for a child on its own. What’s that? You want to go home? There now, child, that’s not the voice of the sprog I know. Come along. We be nearly there. There’s no going back now.
There. You see it? There. Between the leafy-tallings. Dainty innit? That be my snuggery. And a cosy one at that. But that’s not what I wanted to show you. No, child, what I want you to see waits inside. Come along now, don’t tarry. Ah, yes, there tis. See how it the light beckons? All friendly-like? Ah, it’s good to be home.
Not that I don’t like yer ma and pa. No, child, it’s not that. They be fine people, for sure. But I got my own sprog to care for, too. You didn’t know that? Well, of course, my child. Why do you think I work so hard for yer ma and pa? You think I clean their house for fun, my sprog? No, child. I have my own sprog to feed. Yes, child.
Here we are. Come along my inchling. I hear my babe a-callin. He be hungry fer sure. Don’t be fearsome, child. Why, your face be turnin’ white as a bone! I thought you had more courage in you than that. What’s that? You don’t like that sound he’s makin? He’s but a babe! Sure he be noisy, but he’s howlin’ with hunger. You be howlin’ too if you had a hunger like that.
In you go, my fingerling. Shhh! Yes, dear just like that. You don’t want me to lock the door? But we must lock the door, dear. Keep the hungry beasties out. No dear, yer ma won’t be calling you. She’s having a nice tea now with yer pa. In a fancy dining place, innt she? She knows yer safe with me. I says to yer ma, now don’t rush back, dear, yer fine sprog be safe with me! No, child, your ma and pa won’t miss you for quite a bit longer.
Come along now, child. Don’t pull yer hand like that. Of course it’s going to hurt your wrist if you keep pulling away like that. Just be still, would you child? There’s no sense in making a fuss. There! All yer kicking and screaming’s upset my babe. Oh dear, child. You know it’s not good to upset him. He gets awful cranky-like when he’s upset. Come here, child! Don’t tug. Come see my little darlin’.
Now that’s not a very nice thing to say about my baby, is it? Sure he be big, but he be no monster. He’s my belov’d, aren’t you, Bonnikins? Bonnikins is hungry, aren’t you darling? He’s just drooling because he’s hungry, poor miserable thing. Look child, he’s happy to see you, isn’t he? There, there Bonnikins, that’s better. Don’t cry. Bonnikins has been waiting for his ma to come home with his dinner, hasn’t he?
Mind those bones, child!