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Marty stood in the shadows at the edge of the clearing. This time he wasn't going to let Slippy get the better of him. This time he was jolly well going to give him a stiff talking to, and no mistake. He clutched the piece of chicken spine tightly and marched out into the clearing.

"Stop this!" he cried, as he pushed through the queues. "Stop this at once! You there, yes you - put those conkers down. And you over there - yes, I can see you, stuffing them in your cheeks. Put the conkers back and step away from the barrow. There will be no more handouts today!"

The weasels and the slimy toads and the crafty foxes quickly fell silent. Who was this fuzzy little person? Who had the nerve to stop them from helping themselves to what was rightfully someone else's? What was the world coming to?

Everyone watched in astonishment as little Marty Fuzztail, owner of the biggest bestest conker tree in the forest, boldly stepped up to big bad Slippy Wriggleton. "Marty?" Slippy said. The slimy weasel froze in the act of dispensing another batch of conkers, his hand still clasped around the chain.

Marty gazed at that cruel mouth and those jaggedy teeth, and he almost backed down. Then he felt the piece of spine pressing into his palm, giving him courage, and he looked Slippy straight in the eye.

"These are not your conkers," Marty said. "You have no right to go handing them out to all your friends. You have done a bad thing, and I jolly well want you to leave."

For a moment the two of them just stared at each other: Marty with grim determination, Slippy with glassy-eyed loathing. Everyone looked on with bated breath. Then suddenly Slippy let go of the chain. "Fair enough," he said. "Come on lads, the gig's up."

Scrufty's Magic Juju Shoppe

And with that he led everyone away. One by one they filed from the clearing, the weasels, the slimy toads and the crafty foxes, until Marty was left quite alone. Slippy Wriggleton was never seen again, the forest folk lived happily ever after and, from that day on, Marty vowed he would never allow anyone to abuse his conkers again.

And the moral of this story? Well, sometimes, all that it takes to deal with a nasty problem is a bit of backbone.

Also, when some weasel's got his hands on your conkers, it doesn't mean he can yank your chain whenever he feels like it.

 
     

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