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Marion MacDonald and the Five Grey Tortoises

A Fairy Tale
by Dove Windsor

Once upon a time there was a splendid girl called Marion MacDonald. She was on the way to see her Daniel Ball, when she decided to take a short cut through Greenton Woods.

It wasn't long before Marion got lost. She looked around, but all she could see were trees. Nervously, she felt into her bag for her favourite toy, Mr Teddy, but Mr Teddy was nowhere to be found! Marion began to panic. She felt sure she had packed Mr Teddy. To make matters worse, she was starting to feel hungry.

Unexpectedly, she saw a grey tortoise dressed in a purple top hat disappearing into the trees.

"How odd!" thought Marion.

For the want of anything better to do, she decided to follow the peculiarly dressed tortoise. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.

Eventually, Marion reached a clearing. She found herself surrounded by houses made from different sorts of food. There was a house made from lettuces, a house made from macarons, a house made from pancakes, a house made from humbugs, a house made from humbugs and a house made from fruit gums.

Marion could feel her tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease her hunger.

"Hello!" she called. "Is anybody there?"

Nobody replied.

Marion looked at the roof on the closest house and wondered if it would be rude to eat somebody else's chimney. Obviously it would be impolite to eat a whole house, but perhaps it would be considered acceptable to nibble the odd fixture or lick the odd fitting, in a time of need.

A cackle broke through the air, giving Marion a fright. A witch jumped into the space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Mr Teddy!

"Mr Teddy!" shouted Marion. She turned to the witch. "That's my toy!"

The witch just shrugged.

"Give Mr Teddy back!" cried Marion.

"Not on your nelly!" said the witch.

"At least let Mr Teddy out of that cage!"

Before she could reply, five grey tortoises rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the clearing. Marion recognised the one in the purple top hat that she'd seen earlier. The witch seemed to recognise him too.

"Hello Big Tortoise," said the witch.

"Good morning." The tortoise noticed Mr Teddy. "Who is this?"

"That's Mr Teddy," explained the witch.

"Ooh! Mr Teddy would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!" demanded the tortoise.

The witch shook her head. "Mr Teddy is staying with me."

"Um... Excuse me..." Marion interrupted. "Mr Teddy lives with me! And not in a cage!"

Big Tortoise ignored her. "Is there nothing you'll trade?" he asked the witch.

The witch thought for a moment, then said, "I do like to be entertained. I'll release him to anybody who can eat a whole front door."

Big Tortoise looked at the house made from fruit gums and said, "No problem, I could eat an entire house made from fruit gums if I wanted to."

"That's nothing," said the next tortoise. "I could eat two houses."

"There's no need to show off," said the witch. Just eat one front door and I'll let you have Mr Teddy."

Marion watched, feeling very worried. She didn't want the witch to give Mr Teddy to Big Tortoise. She didn't think Mr Teddy would like living with a grey tortoise, away from her house and all her other toys.

The other four tortoises watched while Big Tortoise put on his bib and withdrew a knife and fork from his pocket.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Big Tortoise. "Just you watch!"

Big Tortoise pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from macarons. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

Eventually, Big Tortoise started to get bigger - just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of macarons, he grew to the size of a large snowball - and he was every bit as round.

"Erm... I don't feel too good," said Big Tortoise.

Suddenly, he started to roll. He'd grown so round that he could no longer balance!

"Help!" he cried, as he rolled off down a slope into the forest.

Big Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from macarons and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch's cage.

Average Tortoise stepped up, and approached the house made from pancakes.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Average Tortoise. "Just you watch!"

Average Tortoise pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from pancakes. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

After a while, Average Tortoise started to look a little queasy. She grew greener...

   ...and greener.

A woodcutter walked into the clearing. "What's this bush doing here?" he asked.

"I'm not a bush, I'm a tortoise!" said Average Tortoise.

"It talks!" exclaimed the woodcutter. "Those talking bushes are the worst kind. I'd better take it away before somebody gets hurt."

"No! Wait!" cried Average Tortoise, as the woodcutter picked her up. But the woodcutter ignored her cries and carried the tortoise away under his arm.

Average Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from pancakes and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch's cage.

Little Tortoise stepped up, and approached the house made from humbugs.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Little Tortoise. "Just you watch!"

Little Tortoise pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from humbugs. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

After five or six platefuls, Little Tortoise started to fidget uncomfortably on the spot.

He stopped eating humbugs for a moment, then grabbed another forkful.

But before he could eat it, there came an almighty roar. A bottom burp louder than a rocket taking off, propelled Little Tortoise into the sky.

"Aggghhhhhh!" cried Little Tortoise. "I'm scared of heigh..."

Little Tortoise was never seen again.

Little Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from humbugs and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch's cage.

Tiny Tortoise stepped up, and approached the house made from humbugs.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Tiny Tortoise. "Just you watch!"

Tiny Tortoise pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from humbugs. She gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

However, on the next mouthful, the food fell straight out of Tiny Tortoise's mouth. She tried to stuff in another forkful of humbugs, but once again, the food fell out. There just wasn't enough room left in her belly.

"This is just not fair!" declared Tiny Tortoise, and stomped off into the forest.

Tiny Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from humbugs and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch's cage.

Even-Tinier Tortoise stepped up, and approached the house made from fruit gums.

"I'll eat this whole house," said Even-Tinier Tortoise. "Just you watch!"

Even-Tinier Tortoise pulled off a corner of the front door of the house made from fruit gums. He gulped it down smiling, and went back for more.

   And more.

      And more.

Suddenly, Even-Tinier Tortoise stopped eating and started dancing. While he danced, he sang at the top of his lungs, "Fruit gums! Watch me eat all the fruit gums!"

"It looks as though the fruit gums are making you hyperactive," laughed the witch.

"Oh no they're not!" cried Even-Tinier Tortoise. "I'm always this excited." With that, he walked into a tree.

Bong!

Even-Tinier Tortoise banged his head and fell backwards onto his bottom. He passed out, exhausted.

Even-Tinier Tortoise never finished eating the front door made from fruit gums and Mr Teddy remained trapped in the witch's cage.

"That's it," said the witch. "I win. I get to keep Mr Teddy."

"Not so fast," said Marion. "There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from lettuces. And I haven't had a turn yet.

"I don't have to give you a turn!" laughed the witch. "My game. My rules."

The woodcutter's voice carried through the forest. "I think you should give her a chance. It's only fair."

"Fine," said the witch. "But you saw what happened to the tortoises. She won't last long."

"I'll be right back," said Marion.

"What?" said the witch. "Where's your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Mr Teddy back."

Marion ignored the witch and gathered a hefty pile of sticks. She came back to the clearing and started a small camp fire. Carefully, she broke off a piece of the door of the house made from lettuces and toasted it over the fire. Once it had cooked and cooled just a little, she took a bite. She quickly devoured the whole piece.

Marion sat down on a nearby log.

"You fail!" cackled the witch. "You were supposed to eat the whole door."

"I haven't finished," explained Marion. "I am just waiting for my food to go down."

When Marion's food had digested, she broke off another piece of the door made from lettuces. Once more, she toasted her food over the fire and waited for it to cool just a little. She ate it at a leisurely pace then waited for it to digest.

Eventually, after several sittings, Marion was down to the final piece of the door made from lettuces. Carefully, she toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. She finished her final course. Marion had eaten the entire front door of the house made from lettuces.

The witch stamped her foot angrily. "You must have tricked me!" she said. "I don't reward cheating!"

"I don't think so!" said a voice. It was the woodcutter. He walked back into the clearing, carrying his axe. "This little girl won fair and square. Now hand over Mr Teddy or I will chop your broomstick in half."

The witch looked horrified. She grabbed her broomstick and placed it behind her. Then, huffing, she opened the door of the cage.

Marion hurried over and grabbed Mr Teddy, checking that her favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Mr Teddy was unharmed.

Marion thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Daniel. It was starting to get dark.

When Marion got to Daniel's house, her threw his arms around her.

"I was so worried!" cried Daniel. "You are very late."

As Marion described her day, she could tell that Daniel didn't believe her. So she grabbed a napkin from her pocket.

"What's that?" asked Daniel.

Marion unwrapped a doorknob made from macarons. "Pudding!" she said.

Daniel almost fell off his chair.

The End

Created on 5th September 2021.





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