THE TALE OF MR. BUSYBODY
with Pipkin and weighed out a pound of beautiful blue-green peacock feathers. She put them into a bag, and Pipkin counted out the money for them. Then he threw the bag over his shoulder and went to the door.
" If you should see a thief in a curious red hat, and he should ask where I've gone, give him a drubbing for me! " said Pipkin, and he told the witch how someone had chased him that morning and frightened him.
Then he said good-bye and went on his way. Not long after he had gone Mister Busybody came panting up. He asked a small pixie if he had seen a little fellow in red and yellow shoes, and the pixie nodded his head.
" Yes, he went to Witch Curious," he said. " I saw him." He pointed to her house, and Mister Busybody hurried on.
" I've no doubt the little rascal went there to sell the magic shoes," he thought. He banged at the witch's door and the witch herself opened it. As soon as she saw Busybody she remembered what Pipkin had said, and she caught hold of him at once. She took off her slipper and gave the surprised little man the soundest smacking he had ever had!
" Smick-smack, smick-smack! " went the leather slipper, and Busybody howled dolefully. He wriggled away, rushed down the garden path yelling and went along the road, feeling very angry. Soon he met a brownie and he asked him if he had seen a little fellow in red and yellow shoes.
" Yes, he took the road to Tick-Tock Village," said the brownie. So Busybody hurried on, quite determined to catch Pipkin if he walked all day!
Pipkin was in Tick-Tock Village. It was a strange place, for everyone there made clocks, so all day long you could hear the ticking, striking and chiming of clocks.
" Tick-tock, tick-tock," went the clocks as Pipkin walked into the village. Just as he got there he looked round and saw to his horror, the figure of Busybody hurrying along in the distance.
" That horrid robber again! " thought Pipkin. " Oh dear! Well, I'd better do my business in Tick-Tock Village as quickly as I can, and get away."
So he went to the head man's house and spoke to him quickly.
" Please will you send a red chiming clock to Old Man Jog-About on Tuesday of next week? Thank you. And oh, I say, if a nasty fellow in a curious red hat comes your way, throw him into the pond, will you? He's a robber and I'm sure he's after my money! "
Off he went, and the head man of Tick-Tock Village watched