Now now Markus

now_now_markus_ausschnitt.jpgOne day Markus said to his parents, “I want a bird!”
“Oh, my goodness,” said his mother.
“Now, now, now,” said his father.
“A beautiful bird, but not in a cage!”
“Oh, my goodness,” said his mother.
“Now, now, now,” said his father.
“My bird will sleep in my bed with me, and eat breakfast with me,” said Markus.
“Oh, my goodness,” said his mother.
“Now, now, now,” said his father.
“So do I get a bird or don’t I?” asked Markus.
“I won’t have a bird in my house,” said his mother.
“And certainly not without a cage,” said his father.
“Fine,” said Markus. “Then I will drop dead on the spot!”
And he did.
“Oh, my goodness,” said his mother.
“Now, now, now,” said his father.
“Well, do I get a bird or don’t I?” asked Markus, lying dead on the floor.
“Well, yes, I guess so,” sighed his mother.
“But only in a cage!” said his father.
So Markus came back to life and went out to get a bird.

He was back in an hour.
“Well, where is your bird?” asked his father.
“I hope it won’t smell,” said his mother.
“He’s coming,” said Markus. And in came the bird.
Well, it wasn’t a canary, it wasn’t a budgie, it wasn’t a parrot – It was a beautiful white swan.
“Oh, my goodness,” said his mother.
“Now, now, now,” said his father.
“Here is my bird,” said Markus.
“No!” said his mother. “No! This swan is not coming into my house!”
“Swans belong outside!” said his father.
“Fine,” said Markus. “I will drop dead on the spot!”
“Now stop this nonsense!” said his mother.
“This won’t help you at all!” said his father.
“I’m dead!” said Markus.
“Okay,” said his mother. “But let me tell you one thing: dead boys don’t get supper in this house!”
“Well, and if you are dead,” said his father, “I guess you don’t need a bird.”
“Very well,” said Markus. “The we’ll got and live in the woods.” And he got up and left.
“Oh, my goodness,” said his mother.
“Now, now, now,” said his father.
And the swan left too.

It was almost dark when Markus reached the woods.
“There’s a stranger coming,” hooted the owl.
“Someone who doesn’t belong here,” hissed the snake.
“Someone we don’t like,” growled the fox.
“Someone who frightens me,” wailed the hare.
“We’ll chase him away,” hooted the owl.
“Yes, get rid of him,” hissed the snake.
“Make sure he never comes back,” growled the fox.
“So that he can’t hurt me,” wailed the hare.
“Should I peck his eyes out?” hooted the owl, fluttering his wings.
“Should I poison him?” hissed the snake, sticking out his tongue.
“Shall I bite his legs?” growled the fox, baring his teeth.
“Oh, I can’t stand the sight of blood,” wailed the hare, and he jumped into his hole.
Just then the swan came up behind Markus.
“Oh dear, he’s not alone,” hooted the owl.
“He has a mighty protector,” hissed the snake.
“There is nothing we can do,” growled the fox.
“I hope he won’t hurt us!” wailed the hare.
“And Markus said, “Oh shut up and be quiet!”
Then he lay down on the ground and went to sleep, and the big white swan covered him with his wing.
The moon rose and moved across the sky. And Markus slept.
The moon set. And Markus slept.
Then the sky grew light and the sun rose.
Markus woke up and said to the swan, “Come on. You and me, we are going to find a giant.”
And off they went.

It wasn’t long before they found a giant.
“Hey, giant,” called Markus.
“Yes?” roared the giant.
“We’ve been looking for you,” said Markus.
“I can see that!” roared the giant.
“Aren’t you afraid of us?” asked Markus.
“Me? Afraid? Ha! You’re the one who should be afraid!” roared the giant.
“But I have a mighty protector,” said Markus.
The giant laughed, “I will eat him for breakfast. And you, too!”
“We’ll see about that!” said Markus.
So the giant grabbed Markus and the swan and swallowed them in one gulp.
“Delicious,” he said, smacking his lips.
Then he burped, and all the flowers wilted.
But inside the giant the swan fluttered his wings.
The giant’s stomach began to growl.
“I feel terrible,” the giant sighed.
“That was not a good breakfast at all,” the giant complained.
“I feel sick!” the giant wailed.
The growling and rumbling in his stomach grew worse and worse.
The giant began to shake.
His mouth opened
And shwapp – Markus was out.
And shwapp – the swan followed.
And shwapp – everything the giant had recently eaten followed the swan:
Children and bicycles and watchdogs and wristwatches and racing cars and soap bubbles and circuses and dormice and doormats and dormitories and chestnut trees and doughnut stands and laughter and liveries and liberties and leap years and thunderstorms and canaries and canopies and can openers and candies and cannonballs and soda pop and French fries and fresh flies and ice cream and nice dreams and five screams and riverbeds and flower beds and flower pots and hippopotami and drainpipes and hornpipes and secrets and miracles and a little elf in a little box and a drawerful of socks and Turkish delight and a murky night and puppies and poppies and peacocks and guinea pigs and turtles and turtledoves and moles and buttonholes and parakeets and parachutes and parrots and carrots and ants and pants and panting aunts and flesh-eating plants and a honeybee and a funny flea.
“Fine,” said Markus. “Now we can go home.”

“I’m back,” said Markus when he opened the door.
“Now just look at you!” said his mother. “Get into the tub this minute!”
“An owl almost pecked my eyes out,” said Markus.
“Do what your mother says!” said his father.
“A snake almost poisoned me!” said Markus.
“And give me your dirty clothes so I can wash them,” said his mother.
“A fox almost bit my legs!” said Markus.
“Do what your mother says!” said his father.
“And a giant swallowed me!” said Markus.
“Yes of course,” said his mother.
“But naturally,” said his father.
“But my brave swan protected me and tickled the giant until he spat me out, and my life was saved. And that’s why my brave swan must stay with me – or I’ll drop dead on the spot!”
“Well, we’ll see,” said his mother.
“But only if you’re good!” said his father.
“And may all the others that were inside the giant coma and live with me too?” asked Markus.
“Yes, yes, but now get into the tub!”
So they all came in – all the children and bicycles and watchdogs and wristwatches and racing cars and soap bubbles and circuses and dormice and doormats and dormitories and chestnut trees and doughnut stands and laughter and liveries and liberties and leap years and thunderstorms and canaries and canopies and can openers and candies and cannonballs and soda pop and French fries and fresh flies and ice cream and nice dreams and five screams and riverbeds and flower beds and flower pots and hippopotami and drainpipes and hornpipes and secrets and miracles and a little elf in a little box and a drawerful of socks and Turkish delight and a murky night and puppies and poppies and peacocks and guinea pigs and turtles and turtledoves and moles and buttonholes and parakeets and parachutes and parrots and carrots and ants and pants and panting aunts and flesh-eating plants and the honeybee and the funny flea.
And they all marched into Markus’s room, and the flea closed the door behind them.
“Oh, my goodness,” said Markus’s mother.
“Now, now, now,” said his father.
“And now I’ll have my bath,” said Markus.

And maybe they all came and sat in the tub with him

Cover illustration by Simone Klages

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