Morwenna McCallister and the Hooting FoxOnce upon a time, there was a hopeful girl called Morwenna McCallister. She was on the way to see her grandma Annie Platt when she decided to take a shortcut through Grizedale Forest.
It wasn't long before Morwenna got lost. She looked around, but all she could see were trees. Nervously, she felt into her bag for her favourite toy, Bunny, but Bunny was nowhere to be found! Morwenna began to panic. She felt sure she had packed Bunny. To make matters worse, she was starting to feel hungry.
Unexpectedly, she saw a hooting fox dressed in red dungarees disappearing into the trees.
"How odd!" thought Morwenna.
For the want of anything better to do, she decided to follow the peculiarly dressed fox. Perhaps it could tell him the way out of the forest.
Eventually, Morwenna reached a clearing. In the clearing were two houses, one made from butternut squashes and one made from fruit gums.
Morwenna could feel her tummy rumbling. Looking at the houses did nothing to ease her hunger.
"Hello!" she called. "Is anybody there?"
Morwenna 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 Morwenna a fright. A witch jumped into the space in front of the houses. She was carrying a cage. In that cage was Bunny!
"Bunny!" shouted Morwenna. She turned to the witch. "That's my toy!"
The witch just shrugged.
"Give Bunny back!" cried Morwenna.
"Not on your nelly!" said the witch.
"At least let Bunny out of that cage!"
Before she could reply, the hooting fox in the red dungarees rushed in from a footpath on the other side of the cleaning.
"Hello Big Fox," said the witch.
"Good morning." The fox noticed Bunny. "Who is this?"
"That's Bunny," explained the witch.
"Ooh! Bunny would look lovely in my house. Give it to me!" demanded the fox.
The witch shook her head. "Bunny is staying with me."
"Um... Excuse me..." Morwenna interrupted. "Bunny lives with me! And not in a cage!"
Big Fox 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 Fox 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."
"There's no need to show off," said the witch. Just eat one front door and I'll let you have Bunny."
Morwenna watched, feeling very worried. She didn't want the witch to give Bunny to Big Fox. She didn't think Bunny would like living with a hooting fox, away from her house and all her other toys.
Big Fox put on his bib and withdraw a knife and fork from his pocket.
"I'll eat this whole house," said Big Fox. "Just you watch!"
Big Fox 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.
Eventually, Big Fox started to get bigger - just a little bit bigger at first. But after a few more fork-fulls of fruit gums, 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 Fox.
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 Fox never finished eating the front door made from fruit gums and Bunny remained trapped in the witch's cage.
"That's it," said the witch. "I win. I get to keep Bunny."
"Not so fast," said Morwenna. "There is still one front door to go. The front door of the house made from butternut squashes. 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 fox. She won't last long."
"I'll be right back," said Morwenna.
"What?" said the witch. "Where's your sense of impatience? I thought you wanted Bunny back."
Morwenna ignored the witch and gathered a hefty pile of sticks. She came back to the clearing and started a small campfire. Carefully, she broke off a piece of the door of the house made from butternut squashes 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.
Morwenna sat down on a nearby log.
"You fail!" cackled the witch. "You were supposed to eat the whole door."
"I haven't finished," explained Morwenna. "I am just waiting for my food to go down."
When Morwenna's food had digested, she broke off another piece of the door made from butternut squashes. 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, Morwenna was down to the final piece of the door made from butternut squashes. Carefully, she toasted it and allowed it to cool just a little. She finished her final course. Morwenna had eaten the entire front door of the house made from butternut squashes.
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 Bunny 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.
Morwenna hurried over and grabbed Bunny, checking that her favourite toy was all right. Fortunately, Bunny was unharmed.
Morwenna thanked the woodcutter, grabbed a quick souvenir, and hurried on to meet Annie. It was starting to get dark.
When Morwenna got to Annie's house, her grandma threw her arms around her.
"I was so worried!" cried Annie. "You are very late."
As Morwenna described her day, she could tell that Annie didn't believe her. So she grabbed a napkin from her pocket.
"What's that?" asked Annie.
Morwenna unwrapped a doorknob made from fruit gums. "Pudding!" she said.
Annie almost fell off her chair.