Sally & Fairy One-Step
Lightly translated by Gill from Terry Jones’s Fairy Tales
A girl called Sally was on her way to school one day when she heard a strange tapping coming from underneath an old log on the pathway besides her. Tap, tap, tap, it went. She stopped. Tap, tap, tap. She crouched down. Tap, tap, tap.
“Help me!” said a tiny voice from inside the log. “Help me!” Sally leapt back in surprise.
“Hello?” she ventured. “Is there someone in there?” she asked, a little nervous to say the least.
“Yes!” cried the voice. “Than goodness you can hear me!” “I’m trapped underneath this log and I can't get out, I'm too small to lift it! Would you please turn it over so I can get out and go home?”
Well, Sally was a little nervous at this - what if it was a trick? What if it was a talking dog poo that wanted to eat her? Or an evil caterpillar that wanted to take over the world? Or or-?
“Please?” said the little voice. “I’m a fairy."
“Well, if you’re a fairy, why don't you just magic yourself free?” said Sally , with a bit of a smarty pants tone to her voice. She was quite pleased at how clever she was being, especially if this WAS an evil caterpillar or wicked human-eating dog poo.
“I’m only a very little fairy,” said the voice, “and I only have one spell,” and Sally thought she heard a little whimper and a sniff and perhaps even a little sob come from underneath the log.
“Do not eat me. Or kill me. Or anyone else,” said Sally .
“I promise,” said the voice.
And, being a good soul, Sally accepted the promise for what it was, because after all, if the voice broke its promise, she had done her best. So she lifted up the log. And what do you think she saw? That’s right - a fairy. Not a poo or a caterpillar. I mean, there might have been those things in the near vicinity but this was neither evil, nor human-eating, nor keen to take over the world in any combination of 100-legged filthy smelliness.
“Thank you,” said the fairy to Sally. “Let me repay you - what can I do?”
“Well,” said Sally , “I think it’s traditional for you to grant me three wishes at this point, isn't it?” The fairy blushed and shuffled his feet.
“I’m err - not a very big fairy,”
“Yes, you said that. I can see you’re telling the truth,” said Sally.
“And I only have one spell.”
“Ah, yes, you mentioned that, too,” said Sally. “Well, I’m not greedy. How about that one spell instead of three wishes? After all, I didn't do a HUGE thing, just lifting up a small log.”
“Ah, but you did a brave and kind thing. And you didn’t have to do that. But Im afraid my spell isn't amazing.”
They looked at one another, Sally wondering if the fairy was going to tell her and the fairy gathering up the courage to tell Sally his slightly disappointing spell.
Sally smiled, encouragingly.
The fairy took a deep breath. “OK. I can give you a really big step.”
“A really, really, really, really big step.”
“Told you it wasn't great.”
“No, it’s - it’s - “ Sally didn't really know what to say. So she asked a question instead, “How do you mean, a really big step?”
“Ah!” said the fairy, now starting to smile. This was where he could get impressive.
“I can magic you to do the biggest step you can possible imagine. “
“One step? OK - could I step as far as my house?”
“As far as Granny’s house?”
“As far as America?”
“As far as - the moon?”
“Further?!” asked Sally in astonishment.
“That’s the one,” said the fairy with a smile on his face. It wasn't the worst spell in the world after all.
“Wow,” said Sally.
“I know,” said the fairy. “Would you like that?” he said.
“WOULD I?!” grinned Sally. So the fairy did the spell and Sally felt the magic tingle all the way up her legs.
“Now,” said the fairy - “ you must be careful how you choose to use your step.”
“Hang on - I just realised,” said Sally - “I can go anywhere with my one step - but I won't be able to get back again!”
The fairy blushed again. “Afraid so. It’s because I’m just a small fairy.” He said. “Like I said, be careful what you wish for.” And off he flew, while Sally carried on her way to school.
All day, Sally found it hard to concentrate on her lessons. All she could do was think about all the places she would like to go - and not come back. But no matter how hard she imagined all the wonderful place in the world, she knew that she would always want to come home again.
After a sleepless night of wondering her way around the problem, she got up and grinned.
“I’ve got it. I know what to do! I’ll use my step to go to the queen or king of the fairies and that way they can magic me backhome after I've visited the fairy kingdom!”
And so she started to wish. “I’m going to step to the queen or king of the fairies!” She took her step and a tingle went through her legs. It felt like she was taking the biggest step the world had ever seen. One foot was in the street outside her house and her other foot was moving further and further away. She could see her house, her school, the next city, the sea, the mountains, the forests, and the wind was whistling in her ears and her face was going cold in the high, high clouds.
On and on and on went this huge one step, until in the far, far distance she could see a land with high mountains that sparkled as if they were made of cut glass, then she found her big step foot was coming down and down and down and she landed in a green valley at the foot of the cut glass mountain. And there on a hill up above her was a white castle with towers and turrets that reached up into the sky. She could hear strange music and she knew that this was the castle of the fairy queen or king. She had arrived.
A path led from where she stood up to the castle, so off she went. She hadn't gone more than a few steps when - POOF! - a cloud of smoke appeared in front of her. When it cleared away, she found she was staring up the nostrils of a gigantic dragon and was almost getting her eyebrows burnt!
“Where do you think you're going?” demanded the dragon.
“To see the queen or king of the fairies” said Sally.
“Huh! said the dragon and he breathed a massive jet of fire and set fire to the three next to Sally. “Go back wherever you came from,” it said.
“No, “ said Sally. “I can’t. I came with one magic step and I haven't got another. So I can only go forwards.”
“Well, in that case,” said the dragon, “I will have to burn you and perhaps eat you.”
But Sally was too quick for the dragon and she sprang behind the dragon’s back, and made it spin around to chase he so quickly that it set fire to itself! Sally ran away, while the dragon was left trying to put out its fiery tail.
Sally ran fast as she could and found herself at the door of the castle. She rang the great big bell. The door fell open and out came an ogre with hair all over its face. It yelled at her, “Go back where you came from or I will have to cut you into tiny pieces and feed you to my dog.”
“I cant go back,” said sally. “ I came with one magic step and I haven't got another. I came to see the queen or king of the fairies.”
“It's a king, " said the ogre, "and he is FAR too busy to see you!” And he pulled out his sword which was six times as long as Sally was tall. He held it over his head, ready to swipe at her, when Sally jumped up and pushed the ogres’s disgusting beard tight up his nose. The ogre gave a terrible sneeze and brought his sword down on his own leg and cut it off!
Sally ran inside the castle and shut the door. The castle was dark but in the distance she could hear fairy music. She crept through the corridors as the music got louder and louder. At any minute she thought she would meet another monster, After all these things usually come in threes, in stories, don't they?
As she crept along the corridors she could hear the clinking of chains in dungeons below. She could hear a moaning of prisoners and the wind howling around the castle. She could smell disgusting scaly animals and the stench of nasty potions. But on and on she crept getting closer and closer to the sound of faerie music.
Sally reached a door and pushed it open. Behind it was a great big hall. Lights were everywhere, the walls were covered in mirrors and in the middle of the hall, hundreds of fairies were dancing. As soon as Sally entered the room, everyone stopped and turned to look at her. The music stopped immediately and Sally could now see the king of the fairies. He was massive, with great bulging eyes and a fierce looking beard and a great ring in his ear.
“Who are you? Who dares to interrupt me?” he bellowed.
Sally felt very frightened and she could feel the power of the magic in the room, and all those cold, angry fairy eyes glaring at her.
“Please,” she said, “I've come here to complain.”
“COMPLAIN?!” roared the fairy king. “Complain?! No-one has ever complained to me!”
“Well,” said Sally as bravely as she could. “I don't think its very fair that Fairy One Step only has one spell - and that it’s not a very good one.”
“But Fairy One Step is a very small fairy!” shouted the king, and he stood up and towered over all the fairies in the room. Then he held his hands in the air and everything went even more silent than it ever had been before. Sally felt even more frightened but she stood there fairly and said, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Just because you're the biggest fairy of them all, that's no excuse to treat the small ones badly.”
Well, as you can imagine the fairy king wasn't very pleased. First of all he went purple. Then he went green and then he went yellow with fury. But just then a little voice at Sally’s elbow could be heard yelling out, “She’s right!” and Sally looked down and saw Fairy One Step was standing right next to her.
Then another voice at the end of the hall said, “It’s true! Why should small fairies be worse of than big ones?” And then a third voice piped up, “Yes, why?!” and before Sally knew it all the fairies were shouting, “Yes, why?!”
The kind of of the fairies drew himself up to his full height and roared, “Because I am more powerful than any of you!” and he lifted up his hands to cast a spell. All the fairies stood there staring at this horrible king of theirs, the backs again the mirrored walls of the fairy hall.
And they called out in one clear voice, “You might be more powerful than any one of us alone, but you're NOT more powerful than all of us put together!” and all of a sudden, POOF! Just at the very moment when the angry fairy king’s magic spell was supposed to hit them all, every single one of them disappeared!
Can you guess what the powerful magic spell did? That’s right - it hit the mirrors and bounced back even more powerfully right onto the fairy king himself.
" ARGHHH!" he yelled.
He shook and then he trembled. His beard fell off and then his nails. He shrank to half his size and then a quarter and then a tenth. He fell forwards onto all fours and then he turned into a wild boar with a snout and tusks and hairy leathery skin and a curly tail like a pig and he ran round and round the hall of mirrors in the nastiest bad mood you ever did see.
Then all the other fairies reappeared and threw him out the castle into the forests to fend for himself.
And they all made Fairy One Step their new king and granted Sally one more magic step to take her back home.
Where would you go to if you could go anywhere? What would make you turn back?
What did the small fairies say to the king?
Have you ever felt that someone has forgotten how much power they have just because they’re big and not used it very well?
What could they have done differently?