Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was a little girl, whose name was Emily, and she had a shop. It was a rather unusual shop because it didn’t sell anything, everything in the shop was something that Emily had found, and brought into the shop to Bagpuss. Emily’s cat Bagpuss, the most important, the most beautiful, the most magical, saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world.
When Emily brought something, she would set it down in front of Bagpuss, and say some magic words:
Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss,
Old furry cat-puss,
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring,
Wake up, be bright, be golden and light,
Bagpuss oh hear what I sing.
Slowly Bagpuss would stretch, and look at the thing which Emily had brought, and when Bagpuss woke up, all his friends woke up as well.
One day Emily arrived with something big and heavy wrapped up in an old piece of cloth which she lay on the floor in front of Bagpuss, and said the magic words before leaving the shop. (One day, Emily told herself, she would hide around the corner, just out of sight, and find out what happened next…..) What happened next was just the same thing that always happened - Bagpuss yawned looked slightly bleary eyed at the object in front of him and asked in a slow puzzled voice "What is this thing that Emily has brought us?"
There was a sudden flurry of movement, and the mice from the Mouse Organ crowded around the mysterious object and peeled away the cloth. "It’s very heavy" said one mouse. "It’s rather dirty," said another, "And I think it may be bent." "This end looks like a handle," said the first mouse, "What does your end look like?" "Flat and sort of square, with some coloured bits," said a third, "I think if we polished it enough it might be shiny!"
"I know! I know!" said Charlie Mouse, "It’s a great big axe! It looks like a magical axe – it could be a Plus Two Vorpal Axe of Smiting!’"(Last week Emily had found a ‘Dungeon Masters’ Guide for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Second Edition’ that Charlie Mouse had been very excited by.) "Or even" said Charlie Mouse, warming to his theme, "Thor’s Axe, and when we clean it there will be thunder and lightning!"
"No, no, no!" said Professor Yaffle, the wooden woodpecker bookend on the shelf. "Everyone knows that Thor had a mighty hammer, and I don’t even think that thing is called an axe – I think it is an infamous magical scythe!"
"It can’t be," said Charlie Mouse, "Scythes have a long slightly curved blade set at right-angles to their long wooden handle – I know – I’ve studied all the weapons available to both fighters and clerics!"
"Ah yes," said Professor Yaffle, "but the writers who work for Mutant Enemy hadn’t – and they designed it to represent a scythe! Now stop arguing with me and get on with the cleaning!"
"Yes, yes!" said Madeleine the rag doll, "I will try to explain, if Gabriel will play me a tune."
At the other end of the shelf from Professor Yaffle a cheerful green toad struck a chord on his banjo, and launched into the twenty-two verses of the ‘Ballad of the Slayer’s Scythe.’
As the tune finished, and Madeleine completed her plot arc, Charlie Mouse said "I will go and fetch some silver polish", and the other mice all started to bustle around, with cloths and little brushes (for getting into the intricate bits of carving – they’d watched ‘How Clean Is Your House?’) singing "We will mend it, we’ll unbend it, we will sharpen it up, up, up," to the musical accompaniment of The Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ.
Soon the magical weapon was bright and shiny and sharp, and it looked as good as new. The mice dragged it with care to the front of the window, to display it in a place of pride. Madeleine just had time to remind them to add a little note to say that, as a sharp bladed implement, it could not be reclaimed by any Slayer under the age of eighteen before Bagpuss yawned, and settled himself down, and went to sleep; and when Bagpuss went to sleep, all his friends went to sleep.
Around the corner, just out of sight, Emily was whittling a piece of wood into a nice pointy shape; she wasn’t sure why but since the mice had polished the nice shiny thing she suddenly felt VERY fit – and she wanted to kill something evil!
Bagpuss and friends are the property of Peter Firmin and the late Oliver Postgate. The Slayer ‘Scythe’ is the property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. If they are quick off the mark they can collect it from Emily’s shop.