THE TALE OF MR. BUSYBODY
your money, run off with it. I have chased him all day long for you. If he does not return, will you let me be your servant? "
Jog-About stared at Busybody in surprise, as he told his story. Then he began to laugh. How he laughed! He laughed so loudly that the folk of Dreamy Village came round to see what was the matter. They peeped in at the tent, staring in surprise.
" Oh, you silly fellow! Oh, you interfering busybody! " laughed the old magician. " So you thought poor little Pipkin was a thief, and had run off in my magic shoes with all my money? No no—he's my nephew and an honester fellow never lived! I told him to put on the magic shoes to-day, to take all my messages and do my shopping, for they take him faster than his own small feet. As for the money, he needed it to buy peacock feathers for me."
" But where is he, then? " said Busybody. " He hasn't come back, has he? That shows he is a robber! "
Pipkin crawled out from beneath the table and grinned at Busybody. " Here I am! " he said. ' Ho ho! I've heard of you, Mister Busybody! For once in a way, you've been too busy! Ha ha! Who's walked and run for miles to-day, all for nothing? Who's had a sound drubbing from Witch Curious? Who's been flung into a pond? Who's been pitched into a bed of stinging nettles? Ho ho ho! "
Busybody grew very red. All the folk of Dreamy Village, who were listening by the tent, joined in the laughter.
" Ha ha! Ho ho! Busybody's been too busy at last! What a joke! "
Busybody grew redder and redder. So he had rushed about all day for nothing! Pipkin wasn't a thief after all. Why, oh why, had he tried to interfere? It wasn't his business. Oh what a great big silly he had been!
He ran back home, sore with his smacking, wet with his ducking, and smarting from nettle-stings. Never, never again would he poke his nose into other people's business!
Mister Busybody still lives in Dreamy Village but he isn't a busybody any more. He has changed his name, too, so if you should ever want to see him, don't ask for Mister Busybody. Ask for Mister Mind-Your-Own-Business!