Scrufty's Magic
Juju Shoppe


Scrufty pawed at his grizzled grey chin as he listened to Marty's sorry story. "Hmm," he grumbled thoughtfully. "And what did Slippy say when you told him you weren't happy?" Marty looked embarrassed, and admitted that he hadn't mentioned it. "But why ever not?" Scrufty asked. "Slippy is supposed to be looking after the conkers for all the forest folk, not just his slimy friends. You need to remind him of his responsibilities."

Scrufty inside his shop

Scrufty listens to Marty's sorry tale.

"But Slippy is a big bad nasty weasel," protested Marty timidly. "Why, he'll never listen to me."

"He'll jolly well have to listen to you," said Scrufty. "After all, they're your conkers. Here take this, it will help you to be heard." And with that Scrufty pulled a gleaming brass instrument from beneath the counter. "It's a magic trumpet. Blow it three times, and Slippy will do exactly what you tell him."

And so, clutching the magic trumpet, Marty ambled back through the forest, hopping over the stepping-stones in the rushing white water brook, past the ivy grotto by the old weeping willow, until he reached the clearing where the conker hopper stood. It seemed very busy and bustling these days, far busier than it ever used to be. All sorts of weasels and stoats and toads and foxes stood in line with their sacks and barrows and buckets and bags. The queues were constantly shuffling and bustling as they stepped up to receive their conkers. And there, right in the middle, was Slippy Wriggleton. Every few seconds he would pull the chain and, with a chugga-chugga-chugga, another batch of conkers would rumble down the chute, tumble into some deep receptacle and get carried off into the forest.

Marty took a deep breath and marched on up to the wily weasel. "Now see here, Slippy," he said firmly. "All this handing out of conkers willy-nilly has got to stop."

"Can't talk now," Slippy said, as he tugged on the chain once more. "Very busy." With a chugga-chugga-chugga another sack full of conkers disappeared.

Marty confronts Slippy

Slippy was a big bad nasty weasel.

"But Slippy!" Marty protested. "The embankment is now beyond repair, the duck pond is in a terrible state and I dread to think about what's going on in the dell. Something has to be done." Seeing that Slippy wasn't paying any attention, Marty held up the magic trumpet. "Okay, so you're not listening to me right now, but three blasts on this - "

"Oh, but my dear Marty!" Slippy said, suddenly taking an interest. "There's no need for that. No need at all." He put one arm around Marty's hairy shoulders, and gently twizzled his weasely moustache. "You know I'm only acting for the best."

"Well, I..."

"And you understand that times are particularly hard at the moment," he continued unctuously.

"Oh yes, but..."

"It's at difficult times like this that we all have to make sacrifices." Slippy smiled an unpleasant, thin-lipped, pointy-toothed smile. "Now, I suppose I could just accept that you're not happy with my work and leave you in the lurch, but that's just not the kind of weasel that I am. After all, I do have a certificate in Conker Management, so I feel that it's my duty to stay and help you through this difficult time. What do you say?"

"Uh, I suppose..."

"Good! Good!" Slippy slapped Marty heartily on the back. "So just hand over the trumpet and we'll say no more about it."

Marty did as he was told. "It's just that..." he began but broke off when he realised that Slippy was no longer listening. Chugga-chugga-chugga went the hopper, and Marty shambled away as the conkers continued to rumble down the chute.



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