Jonathan and the Goblin

The Coming of Wheat (for Class 3)

The Birthday Story (for Class 1)

Classes 1 to 3 (6-9 year olds) Classes 4 to 5 (9 to 11 year olds) Classes 6 to 7 (11 to 13 year olds)
Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5 Class 6 Class 7


            Jonathan and the Goblin
Paul King

 There was once a boy named Jonathan.   He lived in a small house on the edge of a village surrounded by fields and meadows, hills and forests.   He was a strong boy, always ready with a friendly smile, a kind word and a helping hand.   Everyone in the village - but especially the other children - loved him.

            Now there were two very special things about Jonathan.   The first was that, although no-one else could see it, Jonathan could feel a light all around him, like a cloak or a cocoon surrounding him.   The other thing was that Jonathan knew his angel.   You see, every night when he went to sleep, Jonathan would dream the same dream.   He dreamt that his soul rose up into a land of light, where all the mountains and valleys, the woods and rivers were shimmering light.   And there, on the edge of that land stood his angel, waiting for him.   His angel too seemed to be made of light;  he had wise warm eyes, and large upward-streaming wings that shimmered with many colours.   The angel would always ask the same question:  “What have you brought from the day to-day?”   And Jonathan would hold up his hand.  In it would be a beautiful flower, a patterned feather, a crystal, or perhaps a jewel.   Always there was something beautiful.   And then the angel would smile and hold Jonathan close to his heart, as though listening to everything that Jonathan had done and said that day.   And in the morning Jonathan would wake up and feel his light renewed and fresh.

            Jonathan loved to roam the fields and woods around the village.   Although he was unaware of it, his angel often guided him.   He would be walking along the side of the hedge, and the angel would tell Jonathan to look in.   Jonathan would suddenly get the idea to part the twigs at a certain place, and there was a thrush’s nest, with three flecked eggs as blue as the sky, cupped in its grassy weavework.   Because he was so gentle, and because his angel was close by, the creatures were not afraid of him.   And the mother thrush, alighting from a short flight, would look at Jonathan as if to say, please be quick, for I must sit on my eggs again soon.

            The angel would also help Jonathan to see the fairies.   The boy would often sit in the fields with the meadow flowers all around him, watching the elegant little beings weaving sunlight into the plants to make them grow strong and well.

            The angel guided Jonathan into the woods, and brought him to a very hidden place where a vixen was watching her cubs tumbling and frolicking near the den.   She sat calmly as Jonathan approached, and he was allowed to play and romp with the cubs, laughing at their antics.

            When he went into the village all the children grew happy.   He was kind and so full of fun that all the children wanted to play with him.   He played with them all, but there was one small boy called Angus whom he was particularly fond of.   Angus would rush up to him with glee, “Carry me on you back, Jonathan!” and Jonathan lifted Angus onto his strong shoulders and trotted around like a pony, with the small boy squealing with delight.  

            But the thing Jonathan loved most of all he kept a secret.   Whenever he was able, at full moon, Jonathan would creep from his house deep at night, and follow a moonlit path through the woods to the side of a hill.   In a hidden dell there was a waterfall which tumbled over mossy rocks into a pool.   Here Jonathan sat very quietly and watched, until gradually in the sparkling moonlit water, the water-sprites would appear to play and dance in the silvery light.   They would sing too, and as he watched their carefree capering and listened to their lovely otherworldly music, Jonathan felt such happiness and peace.   And when, after returning home, he fell asleep at last, he would hold out his hand to the angel, and there, hovering over his open palm, was the arch of a pale rainbow woven of moonbeams and mist.

            But alas, not everything in the world is good and beautiful.

            In a dark lonely part of the forest there lived a wicked goblin.   He had long lank arms that dangled to his ankles, and green skin with warts like a toad.   His small piggy eyes glowed eerily with a greenish light, and his long pointed ears were covered with coarse hair.   Two tusk-like teeth jutted up from his jaw, his lip was twisted down in a sneer, and his long hooked nose was always sniffing about for mischief.   The goblin hated beauty and kindness, he loathed the good, and shunned the light.

            The goblin did not always stay in his gloomy part of the forest, and one day when he was roaming abroad, he noticed Jonathan, and saw how all the creatures loved him, and how kind he was to everyone.   The goblin hated what he saw and made up his mind to ruin this horribly shining boy.   So the goblin began following him.

            Soon after this Jonathan went into the village and as usual the children ran up to him to play.   The goblin seeing his chance, sidled up to Jonathan and began whispering in his ear.

            “Why don’t you show these scruffy urchins who’s boss?   You’re stronger than any of them.   Tell them to do what you say, and kick them if they don’t”

            Jonathan was amazed and horrified by the strange idea that had suddenly popped into his head.   He’d never had a thought like this before.  

            Then his angel spoke to him.   “Jonathan, don’t listen to the goblin.   You have a good heart.   Be strong and listen to your heart.”

            Jonathan was made uneasy by the strange thoughts he was having, and so he quickly told the children he had to go, and ran off to the fields.   His friends were puzzled by his unusual behaviour, but they soon went back to their games.

            The next day Jonathan came to a blossoming tree. On a twig he noticed a little caterpillar.   It had beautiful black and white stripes and was arching and stretching  itself along in its funny fashion.   Jonathan watched the comic little creature with enjoyment.   Then the goblin was there.   “Kill it!” he said,  “See how powerful you are, think how strong you’ll feel  if you kill it!”

            “Don’t listen,” urged the angel again, “Be strong.   Listen to your heart.”  

            Jonathan was again puzzled by these unusual thoughts.   For a moment though, he hesitated.   All he would have to do is knock the branch and stamp, and that would be the end of the caterpillar.   How easy it would be.   But then suddenly he was horrified that he could even think such a thing, and ran from the spot.

            On the third day he was walking over the meadow.   He watched the little fairies busily flitting around to weave  light into a flower.   How beautiful it was.   The goblin saw this and was revolted.   He hissed loudly at Jonathan:  “Trample the thing!   Think how powerful you are to destroy something these creatures have worked so hard to make.   Trample, trample, trample!”

            “Don’t listen, Jonathan,” said the angel quietly.   “Be strong.”

            “Think of the power!” hissed the goblin urgently, “Crush it into the ground!”

            What a strange thought.   But perhaps it would be interesting to try.   It would, after all, be such an easy thing to do.   Suddenly, Jonathan raised his foot and crushed the flower.   Stamp, stamp, stamp went his foot, and the flower was a crumpled mess in the mud.   The goblin howled with delight and danced with glee.  But  the fairies flurried away in alarm, and Jonathan could see them no longer.   His light, too, felt slightly dimmer.  

            That night as usual, in the land of light, the angel asked, “What have you brought from the day today?”  When Jonathan held out his hand, there was the dead flower.    Such sadness came over the angel’s face, but he held Jonathan to his heart as he always did.

            But from then onwards things got worse and worse.   Jonathan saw the caterpillar again and stamped it dead.   When he went to the foxes, the Goblin whispered “Hit them and beat them,” and when Jonathan came rushing at the cubs waving a stick and yelling at the top of his voice, the mother fox only just had time to bark a quick urgent warning, and the cubs fled.

            That night, all Jonathan could give the angel was a piece of torn out fur.   The angel’s sadness grew deeper.

            Jonathan got the idea to crush the thrush’s eggs - we know where that idea came from!   And he would have, except that the angel didn’t show him things any more and Jonathan couldn’t find the nest.   Angry, he went into the village.   The children ran up to him to play.

            “Make them do what you want,” said the goblin, “and hurt them if they don’t.   You are stronger than they are, kick and punch them.”

            “Jonathan, listen to your heart,” whispered his angel.  

            But Jonathan seemed to have lost his heart.   He began shouting at his friends, “You do what I tell you, you hear - or else!”  They stared at him in amazement.    What on earth was wrong with Jonathan?  These harsh words could surely not be coming from the friend they liked so much.  

            Then Angus ran up.  “Give me a ride, Jonathan,” he said excitedly.   Suddenly, with a sharp kick and a punch, Jonathan knocked the little boy to the ground.   At first Angus was so shocked he didn’t move.   Then large tears welled up in his eyes.   “Jonathan!” he said in hurt amazement.   “Clear off!” shouted Jonathan, “Or I’ll punch you again.   Do you think I’m your servant?”   Angus looked at him again for a moment as if to see whether he should believe his ears, and then he ran away sobbing with sadness.   The goblin pranced with vicious delight, clapping his hands and rolling his eyes.

            Soon Jonathan found himself quite alone.   He could no longer see the fairies; the birds fell silent when he came near; the animals hid themselves for fear of him; and the children kept away from him.   Everyone feared him.   No one wished to be with him any more.  And his light had grown so dull.   Despite the cruel things he did, Jonathan didn’t feel any stronger.   In fact he felt smaller and smaller, more and more worthless.   He grew lonely and sad.

            In his loneliness Jonathan began to long for the thing that had always given him joy - he began to long for the moon.   He wanted to visit the waterfall, for that would surely give him happiness again.  

            When full moon came at last, he crept from the house and made his way along the path.   His own light had now all but gone, and his tread was heavy and dull.   He could hear the beautiful singing from a distance.  Ah, soon he would be happy.   But as he approached, the singing suddenly stopped, and when he came to the pool the water-sprites vanished.   They did not like the presence of someone who hurt others.   They did not feel secure with someone whose light had gone.  

            Jonathan was dismayed.   He had counted the days till full-moon, and now the sprites wouldn’t stay near him.   Would he never hear their beautiful music again?   Could he ever be happy without it?  

            At that moment a cloud passed over the moon, and it grew pitch black.   The darkness around seemed to intensify the darkness within him.   He felt so worthless that it became almost unbearable.  The animals, the fairies, his friends, the water-sprites all feared and avoided him, and now it felt to Jonathan as though even the moon no longer wished to shine on him.   His misery was complete, and Jonathan suddenly put his head on his knees and sobbed.   He wept for a long time, and he wept alone.  

            At last, desolate and exhausted, he went home and slept.   When he came into the land of light, he said to the angel, “I have nothing to give you, and I am so unhappy.   Please help me.”

            The angel looked as though he had been waiting a long time for this.   He held the boy to him and said, “It is simple, Jonathan.   You have a good heart.   Be strong and listen to it.   Next time the goblin tells you to do something, say NO, and order the goblin to go away.   I will be there to help you.”   The light around Jonathan already began to grow a little brighter.

            The next day Jonathan found a bird with a broken wing.   “Kill it!” said the goblin.   Jonathan was about to, and then he remembered his dream. He planted his feet firmly on the ground, stood very straight and said, “NO!  And I order you to go away!”   His light suddenly flashed around him like lightening.    The goblin screeched with horror.   He couldn’t bare the horrible brightness.  He jumped back covering his eyes, jabbering to himself in alarm.  He attempted to turn to Jonathan once more, but the light was too bright and "Go away and don't come back!" ordered Jonathan again.  The goblin had no more power here - that was clear. Muttering and cursing he scuttled away back to his gloomy corner of the forest, where all was dank and comfortless.  

            Meanwhile Jonathan carefully picked up the bird and bandaged its broken wing.   He would look after it till it could fly again.   But now he had something very important and urgent to do.

            He went to the village and looked for Angus.   He called and called for him, but Angus was hiding, afraid of being kicked again.   It is very painful to be kicked by someone you love.   But Jonathan kept on calling, and his voice sounded so much like the kind and gentle Jonathan he had known, that at last Angus came hesitantly out.   Jonathan sighed with relief to have found him, and looked him straight in the eye, although this is a very difficult thing to do when you know you are in the wrong.

            “I’m very sorry for what I did, Angus,” said Jonathan (and he meant it with all his heart), “Please forgive me.”  

            Angus had looked worried and cautious.   But with these words the worry vanished from his face and he beamed from ear to ear, his eyes shining with happiness.  It was clear he had forgiven Jonathan at once.

            Jonathan sighed again with relief.   “Come,” he said, “piggy-back time!”   And he lifted the smaller boy onto his shoulders and ran and cantered and trotted and hopped, till the little fellow was laughing and squealing fit to burst.   Jonathan’s light grew brighter.

            It took longer to win back the confidence of the foxes and the thrush, but with patience and care, they too forgave Jonathan.   But he never saw the fairies again;  they remained hidden although they were still there.  

            Anxiously Jonathan waited for full moon.   When at last the time came, and midnight approached, he walked quietly towards the waterfall.   Would the water-sprites know that he was listening to his own voice again and not to the wicked goblin?   Would they still shy away from him like the fairies?       Well perhaps his angel helped, for when Jonathan came to the waterfall he was again allowed to see the sprites in their moonlight dance and hear their beautiful music.   And happiness that spread through him  was complete, like warmth melting ice.  

            And later, when he fell asleep and rose into the land of light,  he opened his hand to bring a gift from the day to his angel, and there, arching over his palm, was a wonderful rainbow woven of moonbeams and mist.




            (From time to time the goblin tries to influence Jonathan again.   But Jonathan is now truly strong.   He says very firmly, “NO, Goblin, and I order you to go away!”    And the goblin obeys, for Jonathan is speaking from his heart, and I suppose no goblin is stronger than that.)


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