The Wrong Land

by Evie Mitchell

Once again, Saucepan has made a mistake! How will the children escape from the Land of Sadness?

"Children, are you going to the wood to-day?" asked Mother.

"Well, yes, Mother," said Joe. "Unless, of course, you need us for anything."

"No, I won't need you in the house to-day," said Mother. "Will you be going to see that funny little man with the round face-"

"Moon-Face!" said Joe.

"And that pretty little fairy-"

"Silky," said Beth.

"And that funny little boy with all his saucepans and kettles."

"Dear old Saucepan," said Frannie, with a giggle. "I wish you liked him, Mother."

"I'm sure he's a pleasant little fellow," said Mother, "But, really, when he comes into the garden crashing his pans about he's really rather annoying! Ask him if he can sell me a saucepan, a nice big one."

"We'll ask him," promised Joe. "Frannie, do hurry up."

Frannie did, and before long the three children were skipping through the woods, making their way to the big Faraway Tree, whose top reached the clouds, leading into a different land each week.

Moon-Face had let down his basket as usual, and the three children got into it. It was pulled up through the trees- past the Angry Pixie, past Dame Washalot and past Silky's little house. Then, finally, it reached Moon-Face's.

Moon-Face was there, his big round face beaming like the moon. Silky was there too, as beautiful as ever, and the Saucepan Man- a boy who sold saucepans, but instead of having a cart, wore them round his body- a saucepan for a hat, two saucepans on his feet and the rest were tied onto a bit of string, wrapped round his body. The saucepan on his head was so big that all you could see of his face was a little snubby nose and a big white grin.

"Hallo, children!" said Moon-Face, beaming. "We haven't seen you for a while!"

"Saucepan says there's a land at the top of the tree called the Land of Happiness," said Silky. "I've never been there, but old Dame Washalot has, and she says it's wonderful- everybody happy, and they make you happy, too! Shall we go there today? It always stays for a week, so we'll be quite safe."

"Yes, let's!" said Beth, thrilled.

"Yes," said Frannie. "It's been such a long time- it will be such fun!"

So the six friends went off together up the ladder- and had a dreadful shock!

Instead of smiling, happy faces, they were greeted by the saddest, longest faces they had ever seen!

"Saucepan, you really are a silly!" said Silky, crossly. "This is the land of Sadness, not Happiness! I expect you heard wrong, as usual."

"Sorry," said Saucepan, looking very apologetic. "I really did think that the Land of Happiness would be here to-day."

"Well, we can still look around," said Silky, trying to make the best of it. "It will be interesting to see how these people live their lives."

"There's one thing you need to remember, though," said Moon-Face, seriously. "If anything happens to make you sad in this land, you'll be trapped here forever. So make sure you're happy at all times."

It was a strange warning, but everybody stuck to it. They yelled it a few times for Saucepan's benefit, and they managed to make themselves understood.

They wandered around the land. It wasn't very interesting. There were some dirty little houses and shops, and lots of sad looking people.

They stopped at an ice cream van. Only Silky wanted an ice cream, so she gave the miserable old woman in the van one silver piece, and took a bite out of her ice cream.

"Ooh!" she said, looking upset. "There's something in my ice cream!"

With trembling fingers, she picked a stone from her mouth and threw it on the floor. Her mouth was sore from nearly swallowing it, and she looked close to tears.

"Smile, Silky, smile!" shouted Joe, remembering what Moon-Face had said.

Silky tried- but she couldn't! For the split second that she had felt sad, that had been enough for the 'magic' to work.

"She's stuck here now," said the miserable old woman, grabbing Silky by the arm and pulling her into the van. "She can help me sell my ice creams- a pretty little fairy like her will encourage customers."

"You let Silky go!" yelled Joe, in a rage.

Silky tried to walk out of the van, but when she got to the children, it was as if an invisible wall was preventing her from walking too far.

The others had a hurried conversation. "It's my fault," said Saucepan, miserably.

"Saucepan, smile!" cried Frannie, and Saucepan gave a big grin immediately- to everyone's relief, the spell had not been put on him. Everybody put a fixed smile on their face.

"What are we to DO?" asked Joe, helplessly. "Isn't there a spell you can use, Moon-Face?"

"No," said Moon-Face, in despair. "I simply don't know WHAT we can do!"

A little pixie sitting on the grass nearby got to his feet and walked over to them. "I might be able to help."

"YOU?" said Joe, in surprise. "But you belong to this land!"

"I don't," said the sad little pixie. "My name's Fluffy, and I got trapped here last year, because I got upset when I tripped and hurt my knee. Most of the people here belong here, but there are three others who are stuck. Only outsiders like you can help us."

"How?" asked Beth curiously.

"Well," said Fluffy, "Each person who gets stuck here has one person who rules over them, and they have to be a servant to. Mine is the old man who lives in the cottage over there- he knows I can't get out of here because of the spell. But if you go up to him and act all happy, the spell will go off me."

Joe at once knocked on the door of the cottage. An old man with sad eyes opened it. "Yes?" he said, in a bored voice.

"Are you having a nice day?" asked Joe, beaming, "I've having a WONDERFUL day!"

The old man coughed and spluttered and retreated into his house. Instantly, Fluffy smiled.

"Yes!" he cheered. "I can smile again! Let's go and rescue your friend, then the three others who are trapped here."

They went up to the Ice Cream woman, and Beth beamed at her. The same thing happened- Silky smiled, and the woman was horrified.

The three 'others' who Fluffy had talked about were two rabbits called Sam and Anne, and a doll named Angela. They were rescued, and went happily down the ladder with the children.

"How will you all get home?" asked Joe, when they were back in Moon-Face's little house.

"We'll catch the train," said Angela the doll. "We all come from the Land of Toys, apart from Fluffy, who is from the Land of Pixies. A train goes to both lands, and there's one every ten minutes."

Goodbyes were said, and the rabbits and the pixie set off together to the train station, waving happily to the children.

"Well," said Moon-Face, "All's well that ends well! It was a bit disappointing, though, that the Land of Happiness wasn't there."

"Actually," said Saucepan, suddenly, "I believe it comes tomorrow!"

"Well, we can't really trust you, Saucepan," said Moon-Face doubtfully. "If it wasn't for Fluffy the pixie, Silky would still be stuck with that horrible old woman."

"Saucepan's right," Silky suddenly piped up. "The Land of Sadness only ever stays for one day and then after that the Land of Happiness always comes for a week. Shall we go tomorrow?"

Everybody wanted to go tomorrow, for they knew that if they didn't then the Saucepan Man would be upset, as it had been his idea to go in the first place but it had gone badly wrong.

Luckily, the children were allowed to go off the next day. They were pulled up in the basket and met by Moon-Face, Silky, Saucepan, Dame Washalot and the Angry Pixie, for everybody visited the Land of Happiness when it came.

They went up the ladder, and saw a very different sight from yesterday! All the people were happy and smiling and looking like they were having the times of their lives, and in the land there was lots of nice places, such as ice cream shops and pretty little houses and beautiful forests and fair grounds.

"Well," said Moon-Face, "This is the Land of Happiness! Whatever makes you happy, just go and tell one of the Happy Pixies and they'll tell you where to go."

The 'Happy Pixies' were special pixies that lived in the land. They had a powerful spell to make anybody happy, and they used it on visitors.

Each of them found a pixie and said what he wanted. Moon-Face asked where he could find a shop that sold only round furniture, for his round little room. Dame Washalot wanted a huge basketful of washing to take back down the tree with her, and the pixie produced an enormous basket of the dirtiest clothes they had ever seen! Silky and Beth both asked for some pretty frocks, and Frannie wanted a doll as big as herself. A gorgeous one with long golden curls and big brown eyes appeared, and she scooped it up in her arms, saying she would call her Betty. Joe wanted a little toy train that moved when it was wound up.

"What do you want to make you happy, Saucepan?" asked Silky.

"Lots of saucepans, of course!"

"You will find a saucepan shop on the edge of the village," said the pixie. "All the saucepans are free. Take as many as you wish."

They all asked for other things, too, such as the money to have ten rides each on the roundabout at the fair. The Land was very busy, because people had got trains from all over the Enchanted Wood to come there. A large group of Goblins had asked for a gold mine, and were now filling sacks of it. Four little fairies who didn't know how to fly asked for flying lessons, and were soon flapping about happily.

"Moon-Face," said Joe, suddenly. "If we feel happy here, shall we be stuck here forever?"

Moon-Face laughed. "No!" he said. "It's not like the Land of Sadness. If it was dangerous, why would people come here, anyway? You can be as happy as you like."

That wasn't difficult in the Land of Happiness! Everyone was sorry when it was time to go. Frannie asked if they could stay a few nights, as the land would be there for some days, but Silky said it was dangerous.

"Sometimes, powerful wizards come here," she explained. "And they might put a spell on you so you have to be their servant."

So back down the ladder they went, and everyone was beaming. Frannie had her lovely doll, Beth and Silky had their frocks, Joe had his toy train and Dame Washalot had her basket full of washing, which she intended to start as soon as she got home.

"Thank you, Moon-Face, Silky and Saucepan," said Beth, when they were about to leave the round little room. Silky was staying at Moon-Face's for the night, and the children had invited Saucepan to come home with them.

"Oh, it's old Saucepan you need to thank," said Moon-Face, and the Saucepan Man beamed with joy. "He found out the land was coming- even though he took us there a day early!"

Everyone laughed, and Joe said, "Saucepan, will you EVER manage to hear properly?"