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I wonder what it is?
It's nice to receive a parcel, isn't it?
But I don't know who this parcel is from.
It just says it's from,
"A. Stranger Esq."
I wonder what it is?
Oh! Some packets of herb seeds.
There's some thyme...
..and some basil.
I love herbs, what a nice surprise!
I wonder if they're from the same stranger
as the one in tonight's bedtime story?
It's by Mini Grey and it's called Three By The Sea.
On a pebbly stretch of shore, in a beach hut, by the sea
there lived a black cat, a white dog and a little grey mouse.
The dog tended to the garden,
the cat took care of the housework
and the mouse looked after the cooking.
And they lived happily.
Or so they thought.
One night, a stranger blew in to the shore
and found his way to the beach hut by the sea.
He invited himself in.
The stranger announced that they were the winners of a visit
from the Winds Of Change trading company.
And it would be absolutely free.
He explained that if you felt strangely discontented,
or wondered if your life was missing something,
then Winds Of Change was the company for you.
And, of course, everything was absolutely free!
The stranger also explained that he needed to sleep in a proper bed
with plenty of pillows and eiderdowns.
There was only one bed.
The next day, after breakfast, the stranger took the mouse aside
and said, "You know, Mouse, I don't mean to be rude about Dog,
"but his idea of gardening is a bit odd.
"He only plants bones! Who wants a bone garden?
"Where are the flowers? Where are the vegetables?
"Where are the herbs?"
The stranger gave Mouse some things to read from his suitcase.
After lunch, the stranger said to Dog,
"Dog, while you've been busy digging the garden,
"Cat has been doing the housework.
"Come and look at Cat doing the housework."
"Hmm?" said Dog,
"Well, we didn't sleep very well last night."
But he felt a little upset.
The stranger gave Dog a present too.
Around suppertime the stranger found Cat alone and said,
"You know, Cat, I've never been that keen on fondue myself,
"but I suppose that mice never get tired of cheese.
"Do you have fondue every night?"
"Pretty much," said Cat.
Cat also got some gifts from the suitcase.
At dinner everyone was very quiet, until,
"A spot more fondue anyone?" asked Mouse.
And, "Why do we always have to have fondue?"
"Well, you do the cooking then, if you don't like it!"
"Maybe I will!"
"Maybe you won't fall asleep while you're doing it!"
"What do you mean?"
"I saw you doing your so-called cleaning!"
"That's not fair, Dog. What about the garden?
"When did we say that we wanted a BONE garden?"
"You're cooking is horrible!"
"Your housework is rubbish!"
"Your garden's a mess!"
That night, while Cat and Dog were trying to sleep,
Mouse was packing his things,
planning to travel to somewhere where his cooking was appreciated.
At about midnight, the cat woke with a lurch
and a sinking feeling that something was wrong.
She walked along the seafront.
On the pebbles was a bundle of things.
The sort of things that belonged to Mouse.
Through the roar of the sea
her keen ears heard a desperate, far away squeak.
Cat couldn't swim but she waded into the water anyway.
She just had to rescue Mouse.
Cat scooped up mouse and put him on her head,
but she was having trouble staying afloat.
Then, from the watery darkness, a pale blob got nearer,
and nearer, and nearer.
Dog was a good swimmer,
good enough for all three of them.
Dog carried them all to safety by the shore.
Back on the beach they made sure that everyone was still alive
and nobody was drowned.
They all agreed that it was probably time for the stranger to leave.
But in the beach hut there was not a shred of the stranger,
or his suitcase.
Except a note
and these packets of seeds.
"Called away on urgent business.
"Borrowed boat - hope you don't mind."
"Here is a last free gift for you from the Winds Of Change company.
"Yours, A. Stranger Esq."
And now, if you happen to drop by the beach hut by the sea
you might notice that they're doing things a little differently.
You might see Mouse and Dog
cultivating their bone and herb garden.
Or you might see Cat and Mouse making cheese and pilchard fondue -
with a twist of thyme and a bay leaf.
In the morning you would probably hear Cat and Dog humming a tune
as they kept the hut cosy and clean.
And you might just notice a scent of herbs in the sea air.
And that story was called Three By The Sea.
I love the smell of herbs.
I'm really looking forward to planting these seeds tomorrow.
Right, it's time for you to go to sleep.
And I'll see you soon for another bedtime story.
I wonder what I could cook with these herbs?
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