Jonathan was looking really unhappy.
“What’s up?” Asked Robbit.
“The beetle boys were bullying me,” Said Jonathan glumly, “They wrote things on my shell.”
Robbit looked: there, all across Jonathan’s carefully polished shell was scrawled the word “SWOT”.
“Why didn’t you just chase the beetles away?” Demanded Robbit “Cos I’m just a snail,” Replied Jonathan, “I’m too slow.”
Robbit put a friendly paw round Jonathan’s shell.
“Never mind,” He said, “Let’s go home together.” So they did.
On the way, they met Old Mrs Spider. They told her all about Jonathan being bullied.
“I’m just a snail,” He explained, “I’m too slow to chase anybody.” “Fiddlesticks!” Said Old Mrs Spider, “We’ll soon see about that.” She held up a small, dark green bottle.
“Try some,” She instructed.
Cautiously, Jonathan took a sip.
“Now,” Said Old Mrs Spider, “See how fast you can run.”
Jonathan gave a little hop of excitement and, with a puff of dust, shot off in a blur of speed.
“Wow!” Exclaimed Robbit.
“Ooooh!” Sang Jonathan as he whizzed along, ” This is exciting.”
Too late, Jonathan saw a bush in front of him: he tried to turn, but skidded straight into it. Crunch!
“If you really want to run fast,” Said Robbit, wiping mud and leaves off Jonathan’s shell, “You’re going to have to look where you’re going.”
“But,” Jonathan scratched his head, “I wear glasses, so things sometimes arrive before I see them.”
Robbit thought for a bit.
“I know!” He snapped his fingers, “We could ask Andy the ant to sit on your shell and tell you which way to go.”
So, off they sped off to find Andy.
They found Andy building a huge ant nest in a sunny corner of the meadow.
“Hi Andy,” Robbit yelled up to the top of the hill.
“Hi Robbit,” Andy called out of the corner of his mouth, his teeth clenched on a large twig, “What can I do for you?”
“We were wondering,” Robbit began, “if you could steer Jonathan.”
“If I could do what?” Andy’s mouth dropped open in amazement, and his twig fell out, tumbling down the hill.
“Steer Jonathan,” Said Robbit.
Andy scurried down his hill, grabbed his stick and bustled back up again.
“You crazy?” He called out behind him, “You think I’ve got time to steer a sleepy, slow snail?”
Jonathan bristled indignantly.
“I’m not sleepy and slow,” He declared, “You just watch me.”
With a noise rather like a little jet plane taking off, Jonathan screeched off across the meadow and out of sight.
“Wow!” Exclaimed Andy from the top of his hill.
They watched in amazement as Jonathan raced round in the distance and headed back towards them.
“Oh, oh,” Said Robbit.
“Jump, Ant!” Yelled Old Mrs Spider.
But it was too late. There was a loud crunch! as Jonathan crashed right into the middle of Andy’s carefully built pile of twigs and little sticks. Andy came hurtling down and landed at Jonathan’s feet.
“Ooooph!” He gasped.
“See?” Said Jonathan triumphantly, “I told you I wasn’t sleepy and slow!”
Andy stroked his chin thoughtfully.
“You want me to steer Jonathan?” Andy asked Robbit, “Why?”
Robbit explained the whole story.
“H’mmm,” Said Andy when Robbit had finished, “I never did like the beetle boys.’ it would be nice to chase them off the meadow.”
Andy climbed up on the front of Jonathan’s shell
“I’ve never driven a racing snail before,” He said, “This could really be fun.”
The two Beetle Boys looked up as they saw Jonathan slide into view.
“Oh, look,” They sneered, “it’s a boring, slow snail.”
They peered at Jonathan’s shell.
“Ooh, look,” Tittered one, “it says SWOT.”
“I’d like you to clean it off my shell, please, ” Said Jonathan, quietly.
“And if we don’t?” Said one of them menacingly, “What will you do then?”
“I’ll chase you,” Said Jonathan bravely, “So fast you fall over. Then you won’t be able to get up.”
“Hooo, hooo, hoooo,” The beetles hooted, and scampered off up the hill.
Suddenly, Jonathan leapt after them like a rocket.
“Yikes!” Screeched the beetles.
They scuttled down the hill as fast as they could. So fast, they didn’t see Old Mrs Spider’s fresh new web lying right across their path.
Crash! Thump! Thump!!
The two beetles tripped and rolled over and over down the hill, landing upside down.
“Help,” They called, their legs waving in the air, “Turn us back upright”
“Not’til you’ve said sorry and promised to clean my shell,” Said Jonathan firmly.
“Oh, all right then,” The beetles called out crossly, “We’re sorry.” Jonathan and Andy hoisted them back on to their feet.
“Right,” Jonathan instructed them, “Now you can start cleaning.”
The two beetles scrubbed and polished Jonathan’s shell until it gleamed.
“Thank you,” Said Jonathan, “My shell looks like new.”
The beetles shuffled their feet: nobody had ever said thank you before.
“Glad you like it,” Said one of them gruffly.
“We could polish your friends’ shells as well,” Added the other.
And so, for the rest of the week, the two beetle boys washed and polished the shells of every snail in the meadow. All the snails were thrilled, and said thank you very much.
The beetles felt so good about the way everybody was pleased with them, they didn’t feel like bullying at all.
“Now that everyone knows we’re not nasty,” They declared, “We don’t have to be bullies. We can just be friends.”
And, from then on, the beetles became friends with everybody in the meadow. And they never, ever bullied anybody again.