The cobweb was all alone high in the rafters of the barn. Its spider had gone off, saying she was sick to death of the barn and wanted to see the bright lights of the big city. The cobweb felt sad, for who was there now to repair the big gap in its side where the bumblebee had crashed through?
I’ll sing, thought the cobweb. That might cheer me up. I’ve never sung before, but it’s worth a try.
The Ipsy Wipsy Spider was the only song the cobweb had ever heard. Its spider had sung it quite a lot at dinnertime. So that was the song the cobweb sang. It was most surprising how well the cobweb sang in its woven strand of a voice.
“Here, what’s that there, a singing cobweb?” remarked the hoot owl without a single hoot. The owl sidled over along the beam. “Cobweb, hold on there a tick or two. How long have you been a singer, and what’s more, where’s your spider?”
“I thought singing would cheer me up, so I tried it. My spider has gone to see the bright lights of the big city,” answered the cobweb.
“Pah! Bright lights are nothing. I’ll show you something. It’s Halloween, you know. Wrap yourself around me like a shawl,” said the owl.
The owl spread wide her wings, and the cobweb wrapped around her body. With a leap and a whuff whuff of wings the owl shot out of the barn and headed for the old graveyard.
“What do you think of this?” crowed the owl, landing on a twisted limb.
“Oh, wonderful!” said the cobweb, and it floated down to mingle with the thousands of other cobwebs in the graveyard. It taught them all how to sing The Ipsy Wipsy Spider, and the joyous chorus was heard as the clock struck midnight, and many ghosts came out to dance.
The owl flew off, proud of its good deed.
Once it happened that a king out hunting was trapped by a clutch tree and wrapped in its branches. People of all stripes and degree came from miles around to stand and stare at the captured king.
‘The tree’s got ‘im, that’s for sure.’
‘No way to escape the clutch tree, they say.’
A local wizard stepped forth to stand near, but not too near, the king. He said, ‘There be one sliver of hope. If a volunteer were to travel far and pass by the seven serpents on the seven hills to where the red leaf dwells, the red leaf would grant a wish to free the king. Who will go?’
All looked one at the other and around, not saying a word. Seven serpents sang danger in all heads save one.
‘I’ll go,’ said a tiny maid. She seemed far too small for her boots.
After the laughter and snorting had died down, Elspathia, for that was the tiny maid’s name, asked the wizard to point her in the proper direction, and off she marched.
Go ahead and imagine the trials, tribulations, swamps, rocky heights, lizards, thorny mazes, floods, tornadoes, and most especially the serpents. Clothes in tatters, boots punctured by serpent teeth, skin pockled with stings, Elspathia crawled to rest the palm of her hand on the trunk of the red leaf’s tree. The red leaf shuddered in sympathy.
‘Child, what will you?’ said the leaf.
‘Our king is captured by a clutch tree. I would have him released,’ gasped Elspathia.
‘Done,’ said the leaf.
And done it was, and not only that, Elspathia was flown through the sky to return in triumph and live the rest of her days eating all the cake she wanted.
One midnight in San Francisco a crosswalk’s third stripe from the curb finally had had enough.
‘I’m sick and tired of people walking on me and buses and trucks and cars rolling over me,’ it announced loudly. ‘I’m leaving.’
‘You can’t leave,’ said its neighbor, 2nd from the curb.
‘Watch me,’ snapped the third stripe.
It struggled and strained, rippling up into a loop of a hoop. Then, having no idea what to do next, it rolled off down the hill toward the bay.
‘Where are you headed?’ asked a lamppost.
‘Mind your own business,’ snarled the stripe.
‘You don’t have to be so cross,’ said the lamppost.
‘Yes I do, dimwit. I was part of a stupid crosswalk,’ replied the unpleasant stripe.
The stripe continued its roll down to the bay, where it dove in and swam wriggling like a giant eel under water until it came to a spot near a bridge where it decided to live forever. And so it did, happily exchanging insults with rude mermaids.
As there seemed to be no chance of getting her hands up to her head, she tried to get her head down to them, and was delighted to find that her neck would bend about easily in any direction, like a serpent. – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Alice’s delight in finding herself with a long bendy neck is in turn delightful to me.
The gentle float floated gently on the surface of the sea. There was nothing else to be seen for miles around. The float sighed. It felt blessed to be floating so peacefully on the sea. Suddenly it was sent wobbling when whacked from the side. A gasping hummingbird clung to it.
‘Oh good, oh well, oh nice. Thanks for being here. I never would have made it. I’m not cut out for long distance flight, I can tell you. What brought me here, you ask? (The float hadn’t asked. In fact, it hadn’t said anything at all.) Very well, if you insist, I’ll tell you. That scampering weasel told me there were gardens of glory beyond this sea. I fell for it. Are there gardens of glory? No, you say? (The float still hadn’t said a word.) I thought as much. Well, let me catch my breath a bit, and I’ll head back where I came from. I reached here, didn’t I? So I can reach back, can’t I? I agree. (The float maintained silence, concentrating instead on bearing up under the extra weight of hummingbird.) Whew, well, kind of boring out here, isn’t it? I thought so. (The float could have said a word or two about hurricanes and such, but didn’t.) I’m pretty sure I’ve got my second wind now. I’ll be off. Been nice chatting with you.’
The hummingbird zapped off. The float swayed back and forth for a time, then settled into a calm stillness. It floated gently on the surface of the sea.
One morning Fenwick, the baker’s apprentice, stepped outside to fetch water from the well. He was shocked out of the one wit he had when he found himself staring at a huge mound of water sitting in the meadow and lightly rippling in the breeze. He turned and ran.
‘Mound of water!’ he shouted, racing to the village square.
Citizens of all stripe and demeanor responded and were led to the phenomenal sight by the baker’s apprentice. Opinions in all flavors were expressed.
‘I don’t believe in it,’ said Mencken, the carpenter
‘Had a better one when I was a lad in the swamp,’ said the idle fool.
‘It’s beautiful,’ said the innkeeper’s daughter.
How can I turn this to my advantage? thought the mayor and many others.
Edwina, the miller’s toddler of a daughter, went straight to the mound, stuck her head in, and had a nice drink. When, after careful observation by the townspeople, the girl continued to skip about laughing and not die, what joy and celebration ensued. For years thereafter, the crystal clear mound of water supplied the needs of the village. People came from near and far to stare at it or make fun of it. Some studies were undertaken, but not many.
And one morning, long after Fenwick, the baker’s apprentice, had become Fenwick, the baker, he stepped outside to fetch water from the mound and sank to his knees in disbelief. The mound of water was gone. The people were depressed for weeks, but they got over it. After all, they had plenty of wells and a river and a nearby lake.
As for the mound of water itself, it had business to attend to on another planet.
A is for Brian, a very good student
B is for Karen, stung several times
C is for Juan, always agreeable
D is for Jamie, in Glasgow passed on
E is for Alice, afraid of mice
F is for Ken, a quite stupid fellow
G is for Timmy, who turned his horse right
H is for Melvin, who set up the goalposts
I is for Pascual, his vision is legend
J is for Kurt, an avid birdwatcher
K is for Doug, who always strikes out
L is for Annie, the Cockney sinner
M is for Phyllis, baker of cakes
N is for Bruno, nimble-fingered typesetter
O is for Corliss, who accepts all explanations
P is for Melody, with her very small bladder
Q is for Alabama Jumbo Jake, a noted pool hustler
R is for Gilles, the famous French pirate
S is for Midori, who won the slalom
T is for Boris, who brought the samovar
U is for me, from your point of view
V is for Hans, who has ways to make you talk
W is for Tish and Tosh, the two-headed sheep
X is for Edwina, passed out drunk
Y is for Alvin, inquisitive toddler
Z is for Rolph, asleep at the switch