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Something Rum Afoot

June 10, 2012

I thought I’d post a children’s story this week as it’s been a while since the last (‘The Skygazer and the Rascally Ram, 25/03/12).

‘Something Rum Afoot’ is one of my own favourites though it’s the most realistic to date, without any magical or fantastical happenings.  I wrote it during the Easter of 1989.

Several years had passed since our two eldest daughters used to snuggle up for stories.  They’d become horse-mad and I’d been taking them to a riding school every Saturday.  Now in their early teens, they’d signed on for paper rounds at the village newsagent’s, and the elder had fallen for Jason Donovan.  My story was written to the inescapable accompaniment of ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’!

I hoped ‘Something Rum Afoot’ might appeal to Junior School children like our youngest daughter, aged seven.  (Our son was only a toddler then, so rather too young!)

Please note that my next post will be on Sunday 24th June.  This is because we’ll be in Cadnam in the New Forest for a family wedding next weekend.  It’ll be a great occasion whatever the weather – but a bit of sunshine wouldn’t go amiss!




Katie and Amelia were quite the most quarrelsome sisters you could ever meet.  They were pretty girls both, Amelia in a slinky slender way, little Katie in a roly-poly kittenish way.  But leave them alone together for just thirty seconds and they’d start to quarrel, for a whole minute and they’d tear each other’s hair out.  Everyone called them the Wildcats.

So you can imagine how surprised Mummy and Daddy were one Saturday morning to see the Wildcats down by the stream and not trying to throw each other in!

“I don’t believe it,” said Daddy.  “Look at them, sitting together on the bank, chummy as can be.”

“What’s that they’re looking at?” asked Mummy.  “Is it a book?”

“Perhaps Amelia’s reading Katie a story,” suggested Daddy.

“Hummm,” said Mummy.  “Perhaps…”

Lunchtime came around and still the Wildcats were chummy as can be.  Not one cross word all morning; not one tweaked nose or kicked shin.  It was amazing.  It was lovely.  But how long would it last?

The girls were excited over something.

Mummy said, “Are you looking forward to your Summer Fair this afternoon, Katie?”

“Oh yes, Mummy,” replied the little girl with a twinkle in her eye.

“Me too!” said Amelia.

Mummy gave the sisters a long look.  And after they’d left the table, she said, “They’re up to something, Alfred.  Mark my words, they’re up to something.”

“Aye,” said Daddy.  “There’s something rum afoot.”



Katie’s school was abustle when they arrived, the Summer Fair in full swing: parents jostling at the stalls for cookies and cakes and things, kiddies bouncing to music on the bouncy castle and riding the miniature railway with its cheery whistle.

Over the loudspeaker, Old Grottyblobs the headmaster announced the winners of the Knobbly Knees Competition.

Katie giggled and whispered to Amelia, “My turn soon.”

“Shhh,” said Amelia.

But Daddy heard.  “Your turn for what, Katie?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing,” blustered the little girl.

“A surprise,” said Amelia quickly.

And before Daddy could speak again, the cheeky sisters were skipping off into the crowd, heading for the hotdogs and drinks.

“Mark my words,” said Mummy.  “They’re up to something, Alfred.”

“Aye,” said Daddy.  “There’s something rum afoot.”



Half an hour later, Old Grottyblobs announced the results of the Pupils’ Colouring Competition.

First prize was a gift voucher, and the winner was a certain little girl we know…

Katie, that’s who.

Roly-poly kittenish Katie, whose pictures were always so awful!

How could Katie possibly have won first prize?

Everyone was clapping – everyone, that is, except the two people who should have been clapping most of all, Mummy and Daddy.  The same nasty thought was in both their minds.

Said Mummy, “Didn’t I tell you they were up to something, Alfred?”

“Aye,” said Daddy.  “There’s something rum afoot… Let’s find the little perishers!”



The little perishers had cheated, of course.  Katie hadn’t coloured her picture at all.  Amelia had done it for her as they sat beside the stream that morning.  And she’d done it so beautifully that her little sister was bound to win.  Katie would share the prize with her: that was the deal, they’d shaken hands on it, and that was why they were so chummy today.

But wait a minute, what was that?

They were back home now, and upstairs a sudden commotion had broken out – thumps, bumps and screams.

Mummy groaned.  “They’re at it again,” she said.

“Wildcats again,” said Daddy.  “Fighting over the prize voucher – stand back!”

Down the stairs they came, thumpety-bumpety-bump!  Katie was clutching the voucher, Amelia hanging onto her hair.

“Give it here!  Give it to me!”

“But it’s mine – it’s MINE!”

Amelia made a grab for the voucher but Katie threw her off and dashed outside…

Only to end up face down in the mud with Amelia on her back.

Snarling like wildcats, the sisters fought in the mud, rolling closer and closer to the stream until, with a great SPLOSH-SPLOSH, they both fell in.  Frightened fish scattered and the prize voucher went floating off downstream.



A year went by, the Summer Fair came round again, and Katie again entered the Pupils’ Colouring Competition.  But this time her picture was all her own work.  The Wildcats were wild still but they were both done with cheating forever.

Katie had worked long and hard with felt-tips and crayons, but for all that she did not win a prize.  She did get a special mention though.  Old Grottyblobs said her picture was the only one that really made him laugh!

Everyone clapped – but Mummy and Daddy and Amelia most of all.

Katie was never more thrilled in her life.




© Copyright Paul Beech 2012

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