THE MARVELLOUS MOAT: the King decides that Custard Castle needs a moat. What could possibly go wrong?
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by Emma Laybourn

A Custard Castle story

Custard Castle

Princess Fifi was reading to the King from her Bumper Book of Princes.

"Prince Peregrine has the finest castle in the land," she read.

"Hah!" said the King. "I bet it's not as fine as Custard Castle."

"His castle has the tallest tower in the land," read Princess Fifi.

"Hah!" said the King. "I bet it's not as tall as Wizard Watchit's tower."

"Prince Peregrine is very proud of his new moat," read Fifi. "It is the most marvellous moat for miles around."

"Hah!" said the King. "I bet it's-" He stopped. "Hang on. We don't have a moat. Why don't we have a moat?"

"We've never had one, dear," the Queen replied.

"But we can't let Prince Peregrine get the better of us! We need a moat. I'll start drawing up plans for one right away."

"Oh, good!" said the Queen. "I can do the plumbing."

"Oh, good!" said Fifi. "I can have a fancy boat."

"And Wizard Watchit can make a drawbridge," said the King.

So the King drew enormous plans in blue ink for his new moat. Then he hired workmen to dig a wide, deep ditch right around the castle.

The Queen did the plumbing. She built a long pipeline from a nearby stream all the way to the ditch. Water began to pour in and fill it up.

Princess Fifi got a boat. She painted it purple and covered it with ribbons and bows. Before long, there was enough water for her to practise rowing.

The Wizard had no idea how to make a drawbridge. So he got Jack the servant boy to saw up a few planks and put them across the moat.

"Wonderful!" said the King, rubbing his hands. "This is a marvellous moat! The only thing that spoils it is that bridge of yours, Wizard."

It was not a very good bridge. But the Queen's pipes worked very well. Water poured swiftly into the moat. Soon it was completely full.

"That's enough water now," the King said. "You can turn the tap off."

a tap, or faucet, and a plug

"Tap?" said the Queen. "There isn't a tap."

"What? You didn't make a tap? The moat will flood!" exclaimed the King.

"No, it won't. Just pull the plug out," said the Queen.

"Plug?" yelled the King. "There isn't a plug!"

"What? You didn't make a plug?" the Queen exclaimed.

"Of course I didn't! It's a moat, not a bath-tub!"

"Uh-oh," said the Queen. "Then we're in trouble."

"Wizard!" the King bellowed.

Wizard Watchit came running down from his tower.

"There's too much water in the moat," announced the King. "Do something before it floods the castle."

"What shall I do?"

"I don't know!" the King said. "You're the wizard! You must have a spell for this sort of thing. Off you go and sort it out!"

The Wizard tramped back up the stairs to his tower. He felt very annoyed with the King.

"First he's rude about my bridge," he complained to the ghost who lived in his tower, "and then he expects me to empty his moat for him! I don't know any spells to empty moats. There's no mention of moats in my spell book."

"Woo woo woo?" the ghost suggested.

"Yes, I suppose I could make one up," said the Wizard grumpily. He thought for a few seconds. "How about this?
Eye of newt and toad of frog,
It's like falling off a log.
Custard Castle's moat of water,
Start behaving like you ought ter."

"Woo woo woo," said the ghost doubtfully.

"What do you mean, that's awful? It's good enough for that stupid King."

And Wizard Watchit went to the window and shouted his new spell at the moat.

The moat began to bubble and froth. Clouds of steam rose from it.

"See?" said Wizard Watchit as the steam cleared. "It's worked."

"Woo..." The ghost stared down.

The spell had worked all right. The moat wasn't full of water any more.

It was full of something thick and gloopy, and as yellow as a dandelion.

It was full of custard.

* * *

The moat did not stop filling up. More and more water poured in through the pipe. As it entered the moat, it turned into thick, gloopy, yellow custard.

"Watchit!" yelled the King.

The Wizard pretended not to hear. He stayed up in his tower, well away from the angry King - and the custard.

For soon the moat began to overflow. The custard crept up to the castle walls. Next it crept up to the castle windows. Then the castle began to flood with custard.

This custard did not pour in. It was too thick. It oozed under doors, and flopped through windows in big yellow dollops. The castle was full of the sound of custard plopping and flopping. The floors were covered in a gloopy, blobby custard carpet.

"This is disgusting!" said the King. He was wearing his gumboots, which were full of custard.

The King with his boots full of custard, from the free kids' ebook The Marvellous Moat

He shouted at the servants. "Bella? Sweep up all this custard!"

Bella tried. But the custard stuck to her broom.

"Jack?" cried the King. "Shovel up this custard!"

Jack tried. Shovelling custard was easier than sweeping it. Jack shovelled up a whole wheelbarrow-full of custard.

"Now what shall I do with it?" he asked. "Shall I tip it back in the moat?"

"No!" howled the King. "Take it across the bridge and dump it on the other side."

So Jack began to push the heavy barrow full of custard on to the bridge.

All at once, the planks cracked. Then they broke in half and fell into the custard moat. They drifted away slowly on the yellow tide.

Jack jumped back onto shore. "Now what?"

"You can use my boat!" cried Princess Fifi. "Hooray! My purple boat will save the day!"

The purple boat did not save the day. It did not like being full of custard. It did not like trying to float on custard.

It did not like it when Fifi rowed through custard. It turned itself upside down and tipped Fifi, Jack and the wheelbarrow into the custard moat.

"Help!" yelled Jack.

"Help!" yelled Fifi. "We can't swim in custard!"

Bella ran for her broom, and held it out for Fifi to grab. Then she pulled.

With a loud SLURP, Fifi came out of the custard. With a loud BURP, Jack followed.

"Now what?" he asked. "We're stuck in the castle with no bridge and no boat, and we're surrounded by custard!"

Fifi licked her hands. "That's tasty custard," she said.

The King dipped his finger in to try it. "Very tasty," he agreed. Then he smiled. "Why, that's the answer! Easy peasy! All we need to do is eat the custard up."

So everyone in the castle began to eat the custard.

They had custard for every meal. They ate custard with pasta and custard with potatoes and custard on toast. They ate fried custard and custard salad and custard stew.

Soon the other food ran out. All that was left to eat was custard. Everyone was getting very tired of it.

And no matter how much of it they ate, the moat made more and more.

And more.

* * *

All this time, Wizard Watchit stayed in his tower, where he had plenty of emergency pies.

Then the pies ran out.

"Bother!" said the Wizard. "There's nothing left to eat."

"Woo woo?" suggested the ghost.

"But I don't like custard! I'll have to go and find some proper food."

The Wizard put his fork and spoon in his pocket and ran down from his tower. He waded nervously through the custard-filled corridors of the castle. He was worried about meeting the King.

But he saw nobody at all until he reached the kitchen.

He peered in. Everyone was sitting round the table with bowls of custard.

"More custard, anyone?" the Cook was asking. "Do you want some custard gravy on your custard?"

They all groaned and shook their heads.

The hungry Wizard crept away. He went outside to look at the moat. Water was still pouring in and turning into custard.

Wizard Watchit thought for a while.

"I know!" he said. "When someone comes along, I can shout across the moat and tell them to block the pipe."

He looked for somebody to shout to, but there was nobody there.

The Wizard thought again. Perhaps he could make up another spell?

But he couldn't think of anything that would rhyme with custard, apart from mustard; and he certainly did not want to fill the moat with mustard.

"Ear of spider, tail of pig, this custard moat is really big!" he muttered. His stomach was rumbling so much that he couldn't think properly.

"Listen to my empty belly. What I need is cake and jelly!" moaned the Wizard.

Then his eyes widened. "Oops..." he said.

The custard moat began to gurgle. Clouds of steam rose from it. It fizzled and sizzled.

The King came running out. "What's going on?"

"Oh, I just thought I'd try a little spell," said Wizard Watchit casually.

Together they stared at the moat. Slowly the steam cleared.

Now they could see the banks, still piled high with custard. But the moat was full of something else.

Something bright pink and wobbly. On the shuddering pink surface sat a broken bridge and a boat made out of sponge cake.

"There you are!" said Wizard Watchit. "You now have the most marvellous moat in all the land."

"But what is it, Watchit?" gasped the King. "What did you turn it into?"

The Wizard took his spoon out of his pocket. "Nothing much," he said. "Well, just a trifle."


Copyright © 2012 Emma Laybourn

Download the ebook of THE MARVELLOUS MOAT:
   Click here for Kindle (mobi) or click here for other ereaders (epub).

Read another Custard Castle story:
    The Thing in the Dungeon
    The Dragon under the Stairs
    The Messy Princess
    The Surprising Storm
    Princess Fifi's Frog
    Spring Clean
    Dragon Dilemma
    The New Witch
    The Other Ghost

You can read six more Custard Castle stories in the ebook:
    The Ghost of Custard Castle
Find out more here!

The cover of the ebook: The Ghost of Custard Castle

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