|The Creepie-Man’s Poke-Sack|
When browsing through book dealers catalogues my attention is often drawn to books with odd sounding names. This is one such book.
It's a simple enough story about a gnome called Be-Wee and a strange little person by the name of The Creepie-Man. The two haven’t seen eye to eye since Be-Wee built his home under the Punker tree which is where the Creepie-Man has his shed.
|Be-Wee the Gnome and the Poke-sack|
Once in a while the door to the shed is left open and Be-Wee watches as the Creepie-Man prepares his meals. At other times, the Creepie-Man simply sits on his creepie-stool with his poke-sack held tight between his knees. Be-Wee would dearly love to know what's in the poke-sack but the Creepie-Man won’t tell him.
|The Creepie-Man sits on his Creepie-stool|
Luckily, the Punker-tree can talk, and it is more than happy to tell Be-Wee about the ‘odd bits of weather’ the Creepie-Man hides in his sack.
Be-Wee longs for a nice bit of fair-weather-without-too-much-sun and wonders if he might find some inside the sack.
Just then the smallest twig on the Punker-tree starts singing, and this is what it sings;
"The Creepie-Man is ever so far, and he has left his door a-jar;
This is my chance thinks Be-Wee as he tiptoes to the door of the shed. Hurrying inside he seizes the poke-sack and running out tips all the odd pieces of weather onto the ground.
Picking up a piece of bright and pleasant looking weather Be-Wee makes a little hole in the ground and buries it. Alas! The smile has hardly crept across his face when there is a noise like breaking glass and hail stones start raining down, and with the hail comes a cold wind. Next it begins to thunder, and then to snow! There has never been such a terrible storm.
The Creepie-Man is extremely angry with Be-Wee
In the middle of all the noise and confusion the Creepie-Man returns and realising what Be-Wee has done tells him “there was not one piece of fair-weather-without-too-much-sun in my poke-sack, for if there was I would have used it long ago!”
With that, there is a rumble-rumble-rumble from the Punker-Tree followed by a strange rustling movement as the branches turn into wings, and the tree now a bird flies away.
The Punker-Bird drew his claws out of the ground and flew away
Eventually, the Creepie-Man forgives Be-Wee but only on condition that he fetches the topmost leaf from the Tousle-Bush. The Creepie-Man is going to use it to flavour his porridge, but he doesn’t tell Be-Wee that!
Be-Wee sets off and the Creepie-Man finding a tiny piece of weather in a corner of the poke-sack buries it along with a pinch of pepper, thereby bringing an end to the terrible storm and the story.
The Creepie-Man's Poke-Sack
Tales of Happy Common ... No. 4
By Agnes Grozier Herbertson
Illustrated by Lilian A Govey
London: Dean & Son, Ltd.
Having read it, I still have no idea how or why the Creepie-Man got his name. This is book four in the Tales of Happy Common, so I can only assume the answer is in one of the earlier stories.
I’m also confused by the term poke-sack. According to the Oxford dictionary, poke has a variety of definitions with prod being an obvious one. Did you know tea-pokies are tea bags, and stoorsooker pokes are vacuum cleaner bags? No neither did I but apparently they are in Scotland. I’ve also seen poke used to describe a purse or wallet so presumable a poke-sack is just a small bag or sack?
If you have read any of the Happy Common Stories, or you know how the Creepie-Man got his name, please leave a comment, and maybe you can also enlighten me about Punker-Trees and Tousle-Bushes. I found a reference to a Punk tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia) which is a subtropical evergreen, native to Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. But I can't find any reference at all to a Tousle-Bush.
This little gnome looks as perplexed as I feel right now.
What are your thoughts on the story? I would love to hear from you.