Twylla and the Tiger
When Twylla West was good (which wasn’t very often) her nanny took her to the Metropolitan Zoo. And there they were, one day. The two strolled hand-in-hand, wearing red sun-hats. All around them people were pushing and shoving to get a look at the animals. But the only thing the monkeys and tigers and kangaroos did was lay dozing in the shade, not moving a muscle, like a bunch of STUFFED ANIMALS.
Yes, it was very boring.
So Twylla let go of Nanny Grindle’s hand (which wasn’t allowed) and ran off into the crowd.
“Come back at once!” cried Nanny Grindle, shaking a wart covered finger.
So of course Twylla only ran faster.
“If you don’t stop, there’ll be no kisses at bedtime!” cried Nanny Grindle, bearing teeth as sharp as scissors.
Twylla had no choice but to leap right over people’s heads like a kangaroo.
“I’m going to tell!” sobbed Nanny Grindle, who blew her long nose on a spotted handkerchief.
Twylla found herself trapped in front of the monkey cage. The old woman was getting closer and closer, so the girl had no choice but to grab hold of the bars and start climbing up the cage. She was so happy when she made it to the top that she danced about, just like a monkey.
“Look at me, I’m Nanny Grindle!”she shouted to the crowd below.
At first the monkeys laughed—and then everybody else did.
“I can’t bear this any longer!” screamed Nanny Grindle, pulling at her hair. She climbed up the monkey cage, lifted Twylla high over her head, and threw the poor child into the tiger pit. I’m sorry to say a big fat beast swallowed her—gulp!—just like that.
Of course I’m only joking. The tiger really did swallow her, but that wasn’t the end—it was just the beginning.
When Twylla found herself in the tiger’s belly, the first thing she did was check herself all over to be sure there were no pieces missing. Lucky for her, this tiger never listened to its mother, and swallowed things without chewing them properly.
The second thing she did was look around.
“The inside of a tiger,” she said to herself, “is a lot like a hotel room.”
There was a small lamp on a desk, and two beds that didn’t look at all comfortable. Over in the corner sat a shiny black telephone. Oh yes—and there were three doors, each a different colour. I musn’t forget that.
Just when Twylla began to wonder what on earth she’d do to pass the time, the telephone rang. She let it ring 3 or 4 times, to see if anybody else would answer it. When nobody did, she picked the phone up herself.
“Hello? Really? That door, there? The red one? Well, alright.”
She hung up the phone, walked over to the red door, and opened it up.
Out sprang a very little boy who cried, “Sister, you saved me!” and rushed into her arms.
“Rodney?” she gasped. “But I thought you were kidnapped by Eskimos.”
“No,” said the little boy, “That’s just what Nanny Grindle told you. She really fed me to this tiger. I think she might be a witch.” The poor child shook from head to toe.
Well, Rodney had been missing a year, and as you can imagine the two had a lot to catch up on. But while they were both jumping up and down on the bed, the phone rang again.
“Hello?” said Twylla, picking it up after the second ring this time. “Really? That door there? The blue one? Well, alright.”
She hung up the phone, walked with her little brother to the blue door, and opened it up.
Out popped a medium-sized boy, who shouted, “Sister, what a surprise! And brother, how you’ve grown.” He shook them both by the hand.
“Philip?” she gasped. “But I thought you fell off the china cabinet, and broke into 17 pieces.”
“Oh no,” he said, shaking his finger. “That’s just what Nanny Grindle told you. She really fed me to this tiger. She’s probably a witch, you know.”
Well, Philip had been missing 2 years, so, as you can guess, they had a whole lot to catch up on. But while they were all giggling and jumping from one bed to the other, the phone rang yet again.
“Hello?” said Twylla, picking it up right away this time. “Really? That door there? The yellow one? Well, alright.”
She hung up the phone, walked with her two brothers over to the yellow door, and opened it.
Out stepped a very big boy, with a beard, who said, “Do you mind? Who on earth are you people?” He shook his head, and said, “The name’s Netherby, by the way.”
Twylla, Rodney, and Philip stood there, not saying a word. First of all, they were too surprised. Second of all, they had no idea who he was, either.
“Oh wait,” said Netherby. “You all look a lot like mother and father. I’ll bet you’re my little brothers and sisters, who I’ve never met. And I bet you’ve been swallowed by a tiger, just as I was 20 years ago. I expected this would happen. You’ve figured out Nanny Grindle’s a witch, I hope?”
Twylla nodded her head, and said, “Yes—but a bit too late, I’m afraid. And now there’s no way to get out.”
“Ridiculous,” said Netherby, lighting his pipe. “There’s always one very good way of getting out of a tiger’s belly. You take the elevator.”
There was an elevator close by, you see—only no one had noticed it. They all squeezed in, and stared at the buttons, which were numbered 1 to 46.
“Which button do we press?” asked Rodney.
“One, of course,” said Netherby, crossly.
“What about all these other buttons?” asked Philip.
“Never mind those!” snapped Netherby.
Twylla pushed the button, and in no time all four of them were back outside. They climbed out of the tiger-pit as quickly as they could.
“What do we do now?” wondered Twylla, out loud.
“Well, I’m buying a newspaper,” said Netherby. “I suppose you can do what you like.” And off he went.
The other three sat about, wondering what would happen next. For a while they watched the old zoo-sweeper, cleaning up papers and cups and peanut shells. It was very dull. But they weren’t bored long! For who should come bounding ’round the corner but Nanny Grindle, licking a gigantic ice-cream cone. Her tongue was so very long, not to mention green, that it could twirl ’round all three scoops of banana-slug ice cream (a witch’s favourite flavour). But when she saw Twylla, she shook so badly that the top scoop fell—plop—onto the ground. When she saw Rodney she shook so very badly that the second scoop fell too. And when she saw Philip, the last scoop leaped onto the ground—splot—and joined the rest.
It was a terrible mess. Just when the old zoo-sweeper was about to clean it up, Nanny Grindle grabbed his broom, put it between her legs, and shrieked, “So, you’ve figured it out! Well, just try to stop me now, on my magic broom!” And off she flew, laughing madly. “HE HE HE HEEEEEEEEEEE!”
The old zoo-sweeper itched his mustache, looked up into the sky, and said, “oh no, miss. T’aint a magic broom, just a reg’lar one. It sweeps up papers, and cups, and peanut-shells like magic, I s’pose—but t’aint a magic broom at all.”
“Really?” gasped Nanny Grindle.
The old zoo-sweeper was right. Down she fell—eeeeeee—out of the sky—aaaaaaaa—and right into the tiger-pit, where a big fat beast stuffed her into its jaws.
“Now, Bengy, be sure to chew that up carefully, like a good creature,” said Mother Tiger.
“Oh, all right,” grumbled her son—and he did.
And that was the end of Nanny Grindle.
As for the children, they all skipped home, eating cotton candy. Mother and Father were happy to see them, of course, and in a short while life was back to normal. Every morning, Twylla and Rodney would play together for an hour, and fight for two. Philip would roll his eyes, and call them “oh so childish.” And as for Netherby, he’d put on his suit and tie, and go off to work.
One last thing to make this a happy ending. The children all saved up their money, and bought the old zoo-sweeper a new broom—because the last one broke into 17 pieces when it landed. After he thanked them, and took hold of it, the old fellow suddenly flew off into the sky, screaming. Because this one really was a magic broom.
I have no idea what happened to the poor man.
(I really mean it this time)
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