The Pink Fairy Book HTML version
The Goblin and the Grocer
There was once a hard-working student who lived in an attic, and he had nothing in the
world of his own. There was also a hard-working grocer who lived on the first floor, and
he had the whole house for his own.
The Goblin belonged to him, for every Christmas Eve there was waiting for him at the
grocer's a dish of jam with a large lump of butter in the middle.
The grocer could afford this, so the Goblin stayed in the grocer's shop; and this teaches us
a good deal. One evening the student came in by the back door to buy a candle and some
cheese; he had no one to send, so he came himself.
He got what he wanted, paid for it, and nodded a good evening to the grocer and his wife
(she was a woman who could do more than nod; she could talk).
When the student had said good night he suddenly stood still, reading the sheet of paper
in which the cheese had been wrapped.
It was a leaf torn out of an old book--a book of poetry
'There's more of that over there!' said the grocer 'I gave an old woman some coffee for the
book. If you like to give me twopence you can have the rest.'
'Yes,' said the student, 'give me the book instead of the cheese. I can eat my bread without
cheese. It would be a shame to leave the book to be torn up. You are a clever and
practical man, but about poetry you understand as much as that old tub over there!'
And that sounded rude as far as the tub was concerned, but the grocer laughed, and so did
the student. It was only said in fun.
But the Goblin was angry that anyone should dare to say such a thing to a grocer who
owned the house and sold the best butter.
When it was night and the shop was shut, and everyone was in bed except the student, the
Goblin went upstairs and took the grocer's wife's tongue. She did not use it when she was
asleep, and on whatever object in the room he put it that thing began to speak, and spoke
out its thoughts and feelings just as well as the lady to whom it belonged. But only one
thing at a time could use it, and that was a good thing, or they would have all spoken
The Goblin laid the tongue on the tub in which were the old newspapers.
'Is it true,' he asked, ' that you know nothing about poetry?'
'Certainly not!' answered the tub. 'Poetry is something that is in the papers, and that is
frequently cut out. I have a great deal more in me than the student has, and yet I am only
a small tub in the grocer's shop.'