A Strange Guest
My mother was not entirely happy when I brought home a monster and asked if he could stay with us.
“Oh, Edward!” she said, rolling her eyes. “It’s bad enough having you go off to strange places with Moongobble all the time. Your father and I certainly don’t need you bringing strange people back with you!”
“But it’s only for a little while! Just until we can fix him.”
“Fix me!” growled Oggledy Nork happily.
Oggledy Nork was the monster we were talking about. He was really very sweet, but I had to admit that there was a lot of him. He was almost twice as tall as my father, and his arms and legs bulged with muscles. He had no hair on his head, but his shoulders and elbows were pretty shaggy.
Also, he tended to drool a lot.
Moongobble stepped forward. Urk the toad was sitting on his shoulder.
Moongobble is a magician. He’s also my boss, since I have been his helper ever since he moved into the cottage on the hill. Moongobble is taller than me, but shorter than Father. He has a kind face, a shaggy white mustache, and a bit of a belly. He also has some mice living in his hat, which mother thinks is disgusting.
Nothing much happened in our little town of Pigbone-East-of-the-Mountains before Moongobble came to live here. Life has been a lot more interesting since he arrived. Now I want things to stay just as they are.
“I would be glad to have Oggledy Nork stay at my house,” said Moongobble. “But with all the magical items I have up there… well, I’m afraid something bad might happen.”
“Something bad,” agreed Oggledy Nork, putting his finger on his lower lip and nodding his head wisely. Then he smiled as if he had just had a good idea. Picking up his club he bellowed, “Oggledy Nork BASH bad things!” He looked around for a moment, then cried “Like BUGS!”
He raised his club over his head then crashed it down on the rock where a bug had been resting. The bug flew away. So did Fireball, the little dragon who is our friend. He had been sitting about three feet from the rock but when Oggledy Nork’s club came crashing down he darted into the air, spurting out a burst of flame as he did.
As for the rock, it shattered into dozens of little pieces.
“Goodness!” cried Mother, looking alarmed.
Father stepped in front of her, as if to protect her.
“Oggledy Nork!” I said sharply. “No bashing!”
Oggledy Nork’s lower lip trembled. He looked as if he was going to cry.
“No bashing?” he asked sadly.
“No bashing,” I repeated firmly.
Oggledy Nork turned to Moongobble. “No bashing?”
Moongobble shook his head. “No bashing.”
Oggledy Nork sighed, and his shoulders slumped. “No bashing?” he asked again, as if he was trying to understand the idea.
“Absolutely no bashing!” bellowed Urk.
Oggledy Nork nodded, then roared happily, “Oggledy Nork understand! No bashing!”
“See?” I said. “He’s really very nice.”
“Nice!” said Oggledy Nork, smiling again.
The strange thing about Oggledy Nork was that he wasn’t really a monster at all, at least not inside.
Inside, he was the brother of our friend the Rusty Knight.
It’s just that he was under a curse.
Moongobble was planning to go on a quest to break that curse. Since I am his helper, I thought it was important that I go along. But we still had to convince my parents it was a good idea. I was saving that problem for later. Right now I just wanted them to let Oggledy Nork stay at our cottage.
“I will be glad to pay for his meals,” offered Moongobble.
“Oh, goodness, it’s not that,” said my mother, though I knew feeding one more person really would be a problem. “It’s just that… well… “
She turned to my father, as if she wasn’t sure what to say.
Father cleared his throat. “It’s just that I’d rather not have things upset your mother right now, Edward.”
“I never want to upset Mother. But why is now any worse than any other time?”
Father slipped an arm around her shoulder and said softly, “Because she’s going to have a baby.”
“Baby!” roared Oggledy Nork happily. “Me like babies!”
I didn’t say anything.
I was too shocked to speak.