Black Bramle WoodBlack Bramble Wood

Written by Mollie Kaye
with decorations by Margaret Tempest

Published in 1938 by Collins, London
Abridged 7 October 2001

Black Bramble Wood tells the story of a little pig who, because of his disobedience, gets into serious trouble and almost rues the day that he was naughty.  A synopsis of the story follows:

Black Bramble Wood was a gloomy sort of wood, full of rather nasty people but quite the nastiest was Mr Gingertail, the fox.  He lived in a house with bars on the windows and an extremely large lock on the front door.  Not that anyone had ever tried to get in, but Mr Gingertail sometimes found it convenient for keeping people from getting out!

Over at Little Trodgers Farm, Mrs Prudence Pumeloe, Farmer Wraggs’ prize pig, lived with her family of nine little pigs.  Four good little pink girl pigs and four good little pink boy pigs.  The ninth little piglet was coal black and he was far from good.  His name was Perkin Pumeloe.  One sunny autumn day, Mrs Prudence sent her children out blackberrying.  She gave them each a small basket and warned them not to go anywhere near Black Bramble Wood.  “People who go into the Wood do not always come back!” 

It was a beautiful afternoon and the hedges were covered with ripe blackberries.  Soon the little piglets’ baskets got fuller and fuller.  All except Perkin’s.  His blackberries did not go into the basket!  “Oooh Perkin,” said the four little sisters.  “No blackberry pie for you.”  Perkin looked at the hedges, but the blackberries remaining were all out of reach.  “I shall go to Black Bramble Wood to pick blackberries,” said Perkin Pumeloe.  “and I shall get more than any of you!”  The eight good little pigs were horrified!  “You will never come back,” they said.  “Pooh,” said Perkin “I’m not afraid.” And he tilted his little black snout in the air and set off in the direction of Black Bramble Wood.

The bramble bushes were indeed covered with hundreds of juicy blackberries and Perkin Pumeloe picked and picked.  He went from one bush to another, and never noticed that he was getting further and further into the wood.  When the sun was almost down, Perkin thought he would go home.  But he had wandered so far into the wood that he had quite lost his way.  Perkin sat down on a tree root and squealed with misery.  Just then, from round the tree trunk, stepped a sandy coloured gentleman with a large ginger tail.  “Dear, dear.” said the Sandy Gentleman.  “Have you met with an accident?”  Perkin Pumeloe stopped squealing and sniffed.  “I’ve lost my way,” he said.  “How very unfortunate” said the Sandy Gentleman sympathetically.  “My name is Mr Gingertail.  Perhaps you will allow me to direct you?”   So Perkin got up and followed Mr Gingertail. 

Presently, they came to a house in a very damp part of the wood.  “My humble house,” said Mr Gingertail.  “Come inside for a few moments while I find my muffler,” invited Mr Gingertail. “I find the evening air rather chilly and we still have quite a long way to go.”  Now it happened that Tippy Scat, a little red squirrel, had been gathering acorns for supper when he saw Perkin and Mr Gingertail.  “Don’t go in there whatever you do!” called Tippy Scat in a loud whisper.  But Perkin was one of these people who always think they know better than anyone else and never like to be told what to do.  So he only said “Shan’t.” rather rudely and followed Mr Gingertail into his house.   Mr Gingertail shut the door behind him with a bang and Tippy Scat climbed up a fir tree to watch. 

After a while, Mr Gingertail came out alone.  He locked the front door carefully and put the key into his pocket.  Tippy Scat waited until he was out of sight and then came down from the fir tree and tapped on the glass of the window with heavy bars.  “Are you all right, Perkin?” said Tippy Scat.  “Help!” squealed Perkin.  “He says he’s going to f-f-fatten me up to make a p-p-pork pie for his birthday p-p-p-party!”  Tippy Scat promised to do everything he could to save him and hurried off to get help. 

Tippy went to see his friend Professor Fluster-Whuffle, an extremely learned owl to ask his advice. “Let us go and have a good look at Mr Gingertail’s house,” said the Professor “to see if there is any way of getting this pig child out.”  And so they went off to the deepest part of the wood where Mr Gingertail lived.  The Professor inspected the front door and said: “I have a plan!  All we have to do is to borrow some woodpeckers to peck out this lock.  But first we need a plan to get Mr Gingertail out of the way.” They both stopped to think for a while. “The kennels!” shrieked Tippy Scat.  “One of the hounds is a particular friend of mine.  His name is Bugle Boy.  If you flew over and asked Bugle Boy to help he would come and chase Mr Gingertail out of the wood.”  Foxes do not like hounds.  “Capital.” said Professor Fluster-Whuffle and promised to leave at once.  “While you are gone, I will go and see about the woodpeckers.” said Tippy Scat.  So the Professor flew off across Gold Gorse Common toward the kennels.  He found Bugle Boy who, of course, agreed to help.  “We will all come.” said Bugle Boy. 

Next morning, no less than ten woodpeckers lined up on a branch near Mr Gingertail’s house.  Presently the front door opened and Mr Gingertail came out, carrying a pail and locked the door after him.  He snarled at the birds and went off to fetch some water from the pool in the wood.  Suddenly, from far away, came the sound of a hunting horn.  Mr Gingertail dropped the pail and ran off between the tree trunks as fast as ever he could. 

As soon as Bugle Boy and his friends disappeared through the wood Professor Fluster-Whuffle called “Attention!” to the woodpeckers and said “One! Two! Three! GO!”  How they worked!  Chips of wood flew in all directions as the woodpeckers worked away until at last they had picked the lock right out and it fell to the ground with a bang.  The door flew open and out rushed Perkin Pumeloe.  Guided by the birds, he ran through the wood and across the fields and he never stopped running until he reached the farmyard. 

The adventure of Mr Gingertail had given Perkin such an awful fright that ever afterwards he was the best behaved pig in all the farmyard.  Nobody ever found out what happened to the wily fox.  But one thing is quite certain.  Mr Gingertail never came back to Black Bramble Wood.