About Nippers and Little Nippers

Lesley's Story

One day Lesley and Jimmy were going home from school. Lesley was seven and Jimmy was six.

"Shall I tell you a story?" said Lesley.

"Yes," said Jimmy.

"All right. Once upon a time, there was a girl. And she lived in a cottage in a wood."

"What's a cottage?" said Jimmy.

"Oh, you know what a cottage is," said Lesley. "It's something in stories. People live in them."

"You mean a flat." said Jimmy.

"No, I don't mean a flat," said Lesley. "She lived in a cottage. Like a little house all by itself."

"Like Mrs Brown," said Jimmy. "She lives in a little house all by itself. But it's got to come down, and then she'll have to live in a flat. She doesn't want to live in a flat."

"Yes, she does!" said Lesley. "She says it'll save her poor old legs. She'll have a lift, and won't have to go up any stairs. And it'll have a bathroom."

Mrs enjoying the lift/Lesley & Robert arguing
"No, she doesn't!" said Jimmy. "She says she doesn't want to live in a poky little flat, and have baths all the time."

"Do you want to listen to this story, or don't you?" said Lesley.

"Yes," said jimmy. "Go on."

"Well, this girl lived in a cottage in a wood," said Lesley.

"What's a wood?" said Jimmy.

"Oh, shut up!" said Lesley. "A wood is always in stories."

"What is it?"

"It's a green place," said Lesley.

"Like Mr Hunt's barrow in the market," said Jimmy. "With cabbages and lettuces. And cucumbers."

"How could she live in a barrow?" said Lesley, crossly. "Don't be daft."

"Well, what is a wood?" said Jimmy.

"How do I know! I expect it's a place where children can walk about, in and out of their cottages."

"You mean a yard," said Jimmy. "Like our yard where Mum hangs the washing. I expect the girl hung the washing in the wood."

"No, I don't mean a yard!" said Lesley. "A wood is a place where things grow."

"You mean a window box," said Jimmy. "A window box on the balcony. Like Mrs Clark's."

"No, I don't!" said Lesley angrily. "It's a place where trees grow. Trees! Now shut up, will you. Do you want to hear this story or not?"

"Yes. Go on," said Jimmy.

All this time they were walking. Sometimes they stopped to shout at each other. Then they went on again.

They went past the sweet shop that sold liqorice. They went past the fire station. At last they came to the railings.

The railings were on the edge of the pavement, to stop children running into the road. They waited for the lights to change. "There was a thick hedge all round the cottage," said Lesley. "A magic hedge."

"What's a hedge?" said Jimmy.

"Oh, you do get on my nerves!" said Lesley. "A hedge is what you put round a place to stop people running in and out."

"You mean railings," said Jimmy.

"No, I don't!" shouted Lesley. "Be quiet! One day, a prince came along and looked through the hedge."

Kids arguing at railings/Prince peering through hedge at princess
"How could he look through a thick hedge?" said Jimmy. "That's silly."

"No, it isn't!" shouted Lesley. "He looked through the hedge like this!" And she put her head through the railings. "There!"

"All right," said Jimmy. "Come on. We can cross. The lights have changed."

But Lesley couldn't come on. She couldn't get her head out of the railings. It was stuck.

Julie came by. She was eight. She didn't take any notice of them because she thought they were playing. She was going to the market.

"Get Dad!" shouted Lesley to Jimmy. So Jimmy crossed the road while the light was still green, and ran and ran.

At last he came to the house, and Dad came out, and got Lesley's head out of the railings.

"What happened to the girl next?" said Jimmy.

But Lesley's ears were very red from the railings and she didn't want to talk about the girl any more.

© Leila Berg, sample illustrations © Richard Rose
Reproduction of illlustrations online may not do them justice.
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