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It's cold outside so I thought I'd come inside to tell tonight's story.
I've been down to the pond fishing, looking for bog babies.
You don't know what a bog baby is?
Listen carefully and I'll tell you about them in the story.
It's by Jeanne Willis and Gwen Millward
and it's called The Bog Baby.
Long ago, when we were little, me and Chrissy did something bad.
We said we were going to Annie's house to play, but we didn't.
We went fishing all by ourselves, which wasn't allowed.
Chrissy said there was a magic pond in the bluebell wood.
It was only ever there in spring.
When it rained, it made a huge puddle in the dell
and pond creatures came. "We could fish for newts," she said.
"I won't tell if you won't." So we went.
We found the pond. It was squelchy round the edge.
The bluebells squeaked under our boots.
We fished and fished, but we didn't catch a newt.
We caught something much better.
We caught a bog baby.
He was the size of a frog, only round and blue.
He had boggly eyes, a spiky tail and I remember he had ears like a mouse.
He swung through the flower stalks and jumped into the water.
He floated on his back and sucked his toes.
That's when I fished him out.
He didn't struggle. He sat in my hand and looked surprised.
He was as soft as jelly, like he had no bones.
When we stroked him, he flapped his wings.
They were no bigger than daisy petals,
but they seemed too small for him to fly.
Chrissy said he might be able to fly if we blew on his wings. We blew
and blew, but all we did was blow him into the mud.
He didn't try to escape, he just sat with his paws over his eyes.
We put him in a jam jar and took him home and hid him in the shed.
He was our bog baby.
He wasn't meant to be a secret. We wanted to show Mum, but we daren't.
If we did, she'd know we hadn't gone to Annie's.
We made our bog baby a beautiful home in a bucket.
Gravel, shells, clean water.
Whenever he saw us, he jumped up and down.
We picked him up and played with him. He was very ticklish.
We fed him on cake crumbs.
We loved our bog baby. Our friends loved him, too.
We sneaked him into school in a margarine tub.
When the teacher wasn't looking, he played in the sandpit.
In the afternoon, he slept in his tub on a piece of damp cotton wool.
Chrissy made him a lead and we took him for walks in the field.
Once, a crow nearly ate him, but we scared it away just in time.
We took great care of our bog baby.
At least, we tried.
But he got sick.
He didn't jump up and down any more, he went pale and his wings drooped.
He wouldn't touch his cake crumbs.
We gave him all sorts, but he spat them out.
We wanted to ask Mum for help, but we daren't because of Annie.
But the bog baby got thinner. He wouldn't walk on his lead,
he hid under his shell.
He wouldn't come out no matter how much we loved him.
Mum found us in the shed.
Chrissy wouldn't say why we were crying. We promised not to tell.
But I blabbed. Mum wasn't angry, though.
When she saw who was in the bucket, she smiled
and her eyes went misty.
She said she hadn't seen a bog baby since she was little.
"Please make him better," we cried, "We love him so much."
"I know," she said, "but the bog baby is a wild thing.
"He doesn't belong here. He isn't meant to eat cake or walk on a lead
"or sleep in a tub." She picked up the bucket and we followed her out.
If we really loved the bog baby, we had to do what was best for him,
no matter how much it hurt us. That was real love.
That's why we let him go. Back where he belonged.
Living in the wood, playing in the pond,
sleeping in the damp leaves under the moon.
We never saw him again.
I think he grew up and had babies of his own.
Last spring, my daughter found the magic pond and guess what she saw?
Hundreds of bog babies swinging, catching flies,
floating on their backs, sucking their toes.
That's what she told me.
And that's what I believe.
That story was called The Bog Baby.
It's too late to go out looking for bog babies tonight,
but maybe you'll see one tomorrow.
I hope you do.
Night night. I'll see you soon for another story.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd