The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11 (January 1, 1939)
Chapter X. — Happiness Cottage
Where could Gobby have got to? The children looked under the beds, underneath the chairs and behind the pictures on the walls, while their Mother sat with an amused smile on her face.
They were just giving up the search in despair, when a little voice said, “Here I am!” and out popped Gobby from the vase on the dressing-table!
“Oh, you naughty goblin!” cried Barbara. But Gobby was not listening. He took off his tiny cap, bowed low and said very politely to the children's Mother, “How do you do?”
“Are you really a goblin?” asked their Mother.
“Of course,” answered Gobby. “I look like one, don't I?”
“I don't know,” replied their Mother.
“I haven't seen a goblin before, so I can't say.”
“Your education has been neglected, then,” said the goblin cheekily, “if you haven't seen a goblin.”
“This is really amazing,” said their Mother. “I must see your Father straightaway, and I must take you home at once, Peter. Your parents are very worried about you.”
That night Barbara and Michael related the story of their adventure over again to their Father. Their Father was very amazed to see the goblin, who was dancing joyously round the room. Peter also told the tale that night to his parents and June, his sister, was very jealous that she had not had the adventure, too.
The police were notified that Peter had returned home, and soon the newspapers heard the story of the adventure. When Barbara and Michael woke up one morning two days after their return home and looked out of their bedroom window, down below in the garden they saw a number of young men, holding large notebooks and pencils tucked behind their ears, standing in a long line from the front gate to the front door. The first young man had his rather inky thumb pressed heavily on the bell, and its insistent pealing rang through the house.
Barbara and Michael dressed quickly and scampered downstairs. Barbara threw open the front door. “Good morning,” she said.
“Good morning,” said the first young man, “I am representing ‘The Nosey News,’ My card.” Barbara gazed at the piece of white pasteboard he thrust in front of her.
“May I request an interview. My Editor is very anxious to hear the story of your exciting adventures, and so are our readers. Of course,” he coughed discreetly, “we are prepared to pay for your story.” He smiled, and he had rather a pleasant smile, thought Barbara.
“How much?” she asked.
“How much?” The young man was a little taken back by the sudden question. “Well—er—” he coughed again—“shall we say fifty pounds?”
“F-f-fifty p-pounds!” stammered Barbara.
“Gosh!” exclaimed Michael, “What a lot of money! Let him in, Barbara!”
But Barbara's brain was working at a furious rate. She brushed past the young man, stood on the doorstep and looked down the long line of young men.
“Are you rep-sent-ing papers, too?” she asked.
“Yes,” they answered in chorus.
“Well,” she went on, “We have been offered fifty pounds for the story of our adventures by this young man,” she indicated the first man. “Are you going to pay us, too?”
“Excuse me,” put in the first young man, “but my offer was for exclusive rights. That means the story is to me, only.”
But Barbara appeared not to hear.
The young men grouped themselves into a formation called a scrum. There was much whispering and nodding of heads. Then the men fell quickly into line again. The second man nearest the door said, “We are willing to offer you ten pounds each from our respective papers.”
Inside the not over large drawing-room, the young reporters gracefully drooped themselves over the table, settee and chairs, and lounged against the walls like wind-blown hollyhocks.
While the young men scribbled industriously, Barbara and Michael in turns told their story and Gobby had a wonderful time, pulling the reporters’ hair, and flicking their ties in their eyes. It was a most exciting morning.
Barbara and Michael flung themselves down on the settee and kicked their legs high up into the air, after the young men's departure.
“Ten multiplied by thirty is three hundred pounds!” Michael giggled with joy. “Gosh! What a lot of money!”
“Don't forget,’ said Barbara, “we will have to give a share to Peter.”
“Oh, I forgot him,” said Michael.
“And me,” said Gobby, as he landed with a bound on Michael's chest.
“Oh, you don't get anything,” laughed Barbara. “And you really must be good, you know. You were naughty this morning.”
“Some of those funny men wanted to ‘snap’ me, they said,” went on Gobby.
“‘Snap’ you!” exclaimed Barbara.
“Oh, he means having his photo, taken, I suppose,” said Michael.
“And did they ‘snap’ you?” asked Barbara.
“Oh, they thought they did!” laughed Gobby. “But they didn't, you know!”
And with that mysterious reply he ran out of the room.
And Gobby was right. For though his photograph had been taken many times, when the photographs were developed, Gobby simply wasn't there! I don't think anyone has ever taken a photograph of a goblin, for they are very elusive little creatures.
The newspapers came out with great headings—
“Children's Amazing Story.
Adventure on Magic Island.”
For many weeks the children were the centre of all interest in their little township. Children came from far and near to see the goblin. Gobby was enjoying life to the full. He would get into the kitchen and when the cook wasn't looking, he would empty a pot of pepper into the soup, and pour vinegar into the milk, and wipe soap on the floor of the kitchen for the cook to slip on.
Occasionally, Barbara and Michael would take him to school with them. But he was so naughty, pulling the children's hair, writing queer sayings on the blackboard, jumping into the inkwells, that the teacher would not let him come to school any more.
Barbara and Michael had told Peter about the three hundred pounds they had obtained for the story of their adventure. Between them they agreed, with the consent of their parents, that with the money they should build a cottage on the site where the Crazy Cottage used to be. This cottage was to be for the use of poor children, who could come and have holidays there.
And if at any time you visit the town in New Zealand, where Barbara, Michael and Peter live, you will see this cottage with a bright nameplate on the front gate with the words, “Happiness Cottage” the name bestowed on it by the children, and you will know that the cottage has been aptly named, for the money that built it came from a happy adventure, and happy children's laughter, at certain times of the year, rings through its rooms.
And if you look very carefully, you will see Gobby, the goblin, playing in the cottage, for he had been too naughty to stay with Barbara and Michael.
But Gobby doesn't mind, for he still sees the children and he plays with the little boys and girls who come to stay at the cottage in their holidays, and he often tells them about the wonderful adventures Barbara, Michael and Peter had on the Magic Island.