The Magic Sweet Shop – Enid Blyton

Betty and Robin were going over Breezy Hill for a walk when they saw a narrow path that they had never seen before.

“Hallo!” said Robin, in surprise. “Where does that path go to? I’ve never been along it.”

“Perhaps it’s just a rabbit-path,” said Betty. “There are lots of rabbits on Breezy Hill.”

“No, it isn’t a rabbit-path,” said Robin. “It’s too wide for that. Let’s go down it and see where it leads to, shall we, Betty?”

So off they went down the funny little green path, and that was the beginning of their strange adventures!

When they had gone some way they came to what looked like a tiny village just three or four cottages set closely on the hillside with two little shops in the middle. One of these was a sweet-shop.

It was a funny little shop with a small window of thick glass, and behind the panes were tall, thin bottles of brightly-coloured sweets.

“A sweet-shop,” said Betty, surprised. “I didn’t know there was one on this hill, did you, Robin?”

“No,” said Robin, puzzled. “It’s a funny place, Betty. There doesn’t seem to be anybody about and yet I feel as if people are peeping at us from behind curtains. But whenever I look, there’s nobody!”

Betty looked all round. There was nobody anywhere. The doors of the cottages were shut, and not a sound was to be heard. It was a strange little place.

Betty pressed her nose to the sweet-shop window and looked at the bottles of sweets. She began to read the labels on them. Then she cried out in surprise.

“Robin! These are very queer sweets! Just read what they are!”

Robin looked at the labels, and certainly the names of the sweets in that sweet-shop were very strange. A bottle of blue sweets was labelled Giant-sweets, and a bottle of pink ones was called Dwarf-sweets. Another bottle had the label Invisible-sweets,

“You know, this must be a magic shop,” said Betty, excited. “Let’s go in and buy some of the sweets! I’ve got a penny and so have you.”

So they pushed open the door, which had a little tinkling bell, and went inside the dark shop. At first they thought there was nobody there, and then they saw behind the counter a small nobbly-looking man with a pair of large spectacles on his long nose. He had a strange tuft of hair growing straight up from his head and two long, pointed ears. He was sitting by himself reading a brightly coloured newspaper.

When the bell rang he looked up. He didn’t seem at all surprised to see the children.

What do you want this morning? ” he asked, folding up his newspaper neatly.

“Could we have a pennyworth of mixed sweets each?” asked Robin, eagerly. “They look such funny sweets.”

“There’s nothing funny about them at all,” said the shopman, twitching his pointed ears like a dog. “They’re quite ordinary.”

He took five bottles from the window and emptied some sweets into his scales. Betty looked at the labels on the bottles so that she would know which of the sweets were which. She saw that a Giant-sweet, a Dwarf-sweet, an Invisible-sweet, and two others, one a Spiky-sweet and the other a Home-again-sweet, were put into the scales. She felt very much excited.

Each of them was handed a bag of these sweets by the shopman. He took their pennies and put them into a tin box. Then he picked up his newspaper and began to read it again.

“Shut the door when you go out,” he said.

They ran out and shut the door carefully behind them. Then they stopped outside to look at their very strange sweets. They didn’t like to eat them in case anything queer happened to them.

“Shall we go back into the shop and ask the man there to tell us what will happen if we eat these sweets?” said Robin. Betty nodded so back they went.

“What will happen if we eat these sweets?” asked Betty, putting her head in at the door.

“Try, and see!” answered the shopman, without looking up from his queer newspaper. “Shut the door, please.”

The children didn’t like to ask him any more so they went outside again. They walked up the little crooked street, talking hard about their strange sweets. They didn’t look where they were going, and they were surprised when they came to a big white gate that was placed right across the road so that they could go no further.

“This is stranger and stranger,” said Robin puzzled. “I’ve never seen that village before, and now here is a gate across the road that I’ve never seen before either.”

“We’ve never been this way,” said Betty. “What shall we do? Climb over the gate? We are nearly at the top of the hill.”

“Yes, let’s,” said Robin. So over the gate they climbed. They walked on down a lane lined on each side by great hedges of hawthorn, whose blossoms were as thick as snow. It was lovely.

They came to the top of the hill and looked down. To their great surprise they saw quite a town on the other side!

“How queer!” said Betty. “There has never been anything on the other side of this hill before. Now there are houses and shops everywhere!”

They went on down the hill towards the town, and soon came to some most peculiar-looking people. They were very round, and their arms were very long indeed. Their faces were as red as tomatoes and they all wore big white ruffs round their necks, which made their faces seem redder than ever.

Some of them were riding in small motor-cars, rather like toy-motors but with hoods like sun-shades instead of proper hoods. Betty and Robin stared in astonishment.

They stood in the middle of the road and looked about at the queer folk. A motor-car with a bright yellow hood came along at a tremendous pace. Robin jumped to one side, but Betty was just too late and the little car ran into her. To her great amazement it exploded like an air-balloon and flew up into the air in a hundred pieces ! She wasn’t hurt at all, but simply fell over into the road.

The little round man in the car shot up in the air and down again. He landed with a bump by Betty and he was cross!

“You silly, stupid, foolish, ridiculous girl!” he cried. “Why didn’t you get out of my way? Look what you’ve done to my car. It’s gone pop!”

“Well,” said Betty, getting up and dusting herself. “I’m sorry about it, but you had no right to come along at such a dreadful pace. You didn’t even hoot.”

“You horrid, nasty, rude, selfish girl!” cried the man, looking as if he was going to smack Betty. But Robin was not going to have his sister spoken to like that, so he pushed the man away and spoke sharply to him.

“Now then, now then! Don’t speak to Betty like that! Haven’t you any manners? You might have hurt her very much running into her like that! It’s a good thing your car has gone pop because you won’t be able to drive like that again for a little while!”

The little round man went quite purple with rage. He took a trumpet from his pocket and blew loudly on it. “Tan-tara! Tan-tara!”

At once a whole crowd of the funny-looking people came running up and took hold of Betty and Robin.

“Take them to prison!” shouted the man whose motor-car had exploded. “Give them nothing but bread and water for sixty days!”

Robin was very angry but he could do nothing against so many, and he and Betty were marched off to a big yellow building and locked up in a tiny cell together. Robin banged on the door but it was no use. It was locked and bolted on the outside.

“Look here, Betty!” said Robin, suddenly. “Let’s eat one of these sweets each. Perhaps something will happen to help us then!”

So they each picked from their bags a blue sweet and put it into their mouths. And before they had half-eaten them a very curious thing happened! They began to grow taller. Yes, and fatter, too! In fact they were soon giant-like, and their heads touched the cell ceiling.

“I say! Those must have been the sweets out of the Giant-sweet bottle!” said Robin, in excitement. He kicked at the cell-door and it nearly broke, for his feet were now very big.

“Stop that!” cried an angry voice outside. “If you kick your door again, prisoners, I shall come in and smack you both!”

“Ho!” said Robin, pleased. “I shall certainly kick it again! Then when it’s opened, Betty, we’ll walk out and give everyone a shock!”

“Bang, bang, bang!” he kicked the door hard again. At once it was unbolted and unlocked and a very angry keeper came in. But when he saw Betty and Robin both as tall as the ceiling, nearly filling up the whole cell, his red face turned pale and he fled for his life!

“Now we’ll go out,” said Robin, and he and Betty somehow managed to squeeze themselves out of the door! They walked out of the prison, seeing everyone run in fear before them. How they laughed to see the astonishment on the red faces of the townsfolk, who now looked very small indeed to the children.

They went down the street, frightening everyone they met, and soon came to cross-roads. There was a signpost there, and on one arm was printed:

TO GIANTLAND

“Goodness! ” said Betty. “How exciting! We are giants now, Robin, so do let’s take this road to Giantland. It would be fun to see some giants.”

So they took the road to Giantland, feeling more and more excited. After half-an-hour’s walk they came to some enormous trees and knew that they were coming near to Giantland. They were soon there after that but dear me, the giants were far bigger than the children had guessed they would be! Although Robin and Betty were much bigger than they were usually, they were still very small compared with the giants!

A very large giant with eyes like dinner-plates saw them first. He gaped at them in surprise and then called to his friends, in a voice like thunder.

“HIE! LOOK HERE! HERE ARE SOME QUEER CHILDREN! ”

In a trice the children were surrounded by a dozen enormous giants. They didn’t like it at all. One of the giants poked his finger into Robin’s chest.

“He’s real,” he said, in a booming voice. “He’s not a doll.”

“Of course I’m not a doll! ” shouted Robin, crossly. “Don’t poke me like that! ‘

It amused the giants to see how cross Robin was, and they poked him again with their big, bony fingers. Robin felt sure he would be bruised all over.

“Aren’t they nasty, unkind creatures,” said Betty, almost crying, for she didn’t like the great giants with their enormous eyes and teeth like piano-keys. “Can’t we escape, Robin!”

“How can we?” said Robin, trying to push away a finger that came to tickle him. “Oh, Betty, I know! Let’s eat another sweet!”

In a great hurry the children took out their sweet-bags and ate a pink sweet each. In an instant they felt themselves growing smaller and smaller – smaller and smaller.

The giants seemed to grow bigger and BIGGER and BIGGER. Soon they were so big that they seemed like mountains! The children were tinier than sparrows to the giants tinier than lady-birds even!

“Quick!” said Betty, catching hold of Robin’s hand. “Quick! Let’s go somewhere safe before their great feet tread on us!”

There was a large hole in the ground not far from them and Betty and Robin ran to it. It seemed like a dark tunnel to them, but really it was a worm hole! The children were now so small that even a worm hole was enormous to them.

Down the tunnel they went, and suddenly came to a thing that looked like a large snake. It was a worm that squeezed itself against the tunnel side most politely so that they might go past. They ran on, rather frightened. A great beetle hurried by them, treading heavily on Betty’s toes. It was all rather alarming.

“I wish we could get out of here,” said Robin, after a time. “Oh look, Betty! There’s a tiny pin-hole of light far ahead of us. That must be where the worm-hole ends. Come on!”

On they went and at last came out into a wonderful place of sunshine and green grass. Nobody was about at all, but not far away were some great red and brown animals.

“They must be giant cows,” said Betty, looking at them. “I hope they won’t eat us!”

The cows saw the two small children and walked over to them. One cow put her head down to nibble at them. Robin ran away and pulled Betty with him. The giant cows followed, very curious about these little creatures in their field of grass.

Betty was afraid she would be gobbled up by one of the enormous cows. She ran from buttercup to buttercup trying to hide. Then she noticed that, as the cows ate the grass, they left out the prickly thistles and would not touch them. And a good idea came into her head.

“Robin! Let’s eat one of the Spiky-sweets,” she cried. “I know which they are – the yellow ones! I don’t know what will happen to us, but if we grow prickles the cows won’t eat us. They will think we are a kind of thistle! ”

So they each took a yellow sweet and ate it. Then they looked at one another in surprise for at once dozens of spikes and prickles grew out all over them! They were as prickly as thistles and holly leaves! The cows soon left them alone then, and went off to another part of the field in disgust.

Betty and Robin ran down a very big rabbit hole, and frightened a family of rabbits very much indeed as they went. They ran on until they came to where the hole led up to the open air again and then out they rushed into the sunshine.

They were on a green hillside, and nearby was a notice which said:

BROOMSTICK HILL TRESPASSERS WILL BE TURNED INTO SNAILS

“Ooh!” said Betty, alarmed. “Look at that notice!” But they hardly had time to read the notice again before there came a whirring in the air, and to the children’s enormous surprise about a hundred witches came flying through the sky on long broom-sticks, darkening the sunshine as they gathered together like black clouds. Then down to the green hillside they flew together.

And, of course, the very first thing their sharp eyes saw was Betty, her black hair flying in the wind, and her prickles all round her! Robin had hidden behind a bush, but Betty was so surprised to see the witches that she hadn’t even thought of hiding!

Just as the witches came rushing over towards them Robin pulled Betty down beside him. “Get out your sweet-bag and eat a sweet!” he whispered. “We’ve got two left. Eat the purple one and we’ll see what happens!”

“Where are those trespassing children!” cried the witches. “We will turn them into snails! How dare they come to our hillside and listen to all we say!”

Betty and Robin popped their purple sweets hurriedly into their mouths. They looked at one another and to their great astonishment they couldn’t see each other. At first they didn’t know what had happened, and then they guessed the sweets had made them invisible!

Betty put out her hand and tried to find Robin. She felt him and took his hand in hers. He was rather prickly but she didn’t mind. She dragged him down the hillside and then looked back at the witches. They were hunting in astonishment all around the bush where they had seen Betty.

“There is no one here!” they cried. “Where have they gone?”

By this time Betty and Robin were at the bottom of the hill. They could not see one another but they held hands very firmly in case they lost each other.

“I’m tired of this adventure,” said Betty, at last. “Are you, Robin? We always seem to be chased by something giants, or cows, or witches. Goodness knows what it will be next time! Let’s go home.”

“But we don’t know the way,” said Robin, looking all round. “I’m hungry and I’d love to go home. I wish I did know the way!”‘

“Let’s eat the last sweet and see what happens,” said Betty, feeling for her sweet bag. “We’ve eaten all but the Home-again sweets, and maybe they will take us home!”

So they put a red sweet into their mouths. Before they had finished eating it they could see one another and all their prickles had gone! They were so pleased, for they were both tired of being so very prickly! They waited to see what else would happen. Would a big wind come and take them home? Or would their legs walk them safely back? What would happen?

Nothing happened at all. They just sat there at the bottom of the hill and waited in the sunshine. But still nothing happened. It was very queer. Wouldn’t the Home-again sweets take them back home? If not, how could they get home? They were quite sure they would never be able to find their way!

And then Betty began to look around her. She saw a big birch tree that she seemed to know. She noticed a house not far off. She heard a milk-cart clattering along a road a little distance away and she suddenly jumped up with a cry of delight.

“Robin! We are home! This is the hill just outside our own garden! That’s our house over there! There’s the milkman’s cart, look! Why we’re home and didn’t know it! However could we have got here! I’m sure the hill outside our garden isn’t really a witch’s hill.”

They were most astonished, but it was quite true they were home again, for they were just outside their garden, and they could even hear their gardener whistling a tune to himself as he hoed the garden beds!

“Well, how surprising!” said Robin, standing up. “We’re safely back after a lot of queer adventures. Let’s go and tell mother. Perhaps she’ll come with us and see that funny magic sweet-shop.”

Off they went, and that evening they took their mother up the hillside to find the sweet-shop. They followed the little path but alas, it did not lead to any sweet-shop; only to a great many rabbit-holes!

“It’s just a rabbit-path!” said mother. “You must have dreamed it all, my dears!”

But they really didn’t you know!