Bom Goes Adventuring
First edition: 1958
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: R. Paul-Höye
Category: Bom Series
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: R. Paul-Höye
Category: Bom Series
On This Page...
Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Title Page from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
The goose-girl is a little shy because she thinks Bom looks so grand with his fine uniform and plumed hat but she offers to share her lunch with him. Bom has good manners and he refuses at first but the girl insists and the little drummer accepts with an offer of his own — he'll let her have a go on his drum which is rather generous of him. He doesn't usually let other people use it but as the goose-girl is sharing her lunch with him he feels a little obliged so, after partaking of an enjoyable little picnic, Bom helps the little girl to put on his drum and they set off down the road. The young lady leads the way beating away for all she's worth and curiously the geese start following their mistress in single file almost as if they were performers. Bom probably feels a little naked without the drum strapped to his front because it's a fairly integral part of the way he presents himself to the world but he'll get it back when they reach the market and now, there they go — the goose-girl in front banging furiously and the seven geese in a straight line behind her with Bom and Wuffy-dog at the rear.
The market is the standard one that you'd find anywhere in England during those days. There's a clock-tower and a few buildings with coops of birds and presumably other animals spread out round the square with the vendors' voices shouting their wares —
"Buy, buy, buy!Wuff is a little put out by all the sounds of the hens and ducks and geese so he creeps into a box. The goose-girl sits down on it and hopes that she'll gets a fair price for her uncle's geese because if she doesn't she'll get a good whipping. Bom watches as the girl sings her goose-song which is an entreaty to the villagers —
Ripe plums, penny for ten,
Brown eggs, warm from the hen,
Buy, buy, buy ..." (it goes on for another six lines)
"Buy my geese so fat and white,The peasants peer at them but aren't really interested in birds which are —
Sure they are a pretty sight,
Buy, buy, buy ...!"
" ... as skinny as you are, Goose-girl. You can keep your geese!"
This reaction almost reduces the goose-girl to tears so Bom suggests they set off for another market and with the geese once more in line and Bom beating his drum, they march off again. Round a corner they go —
A jolly looking man in a sailor's uniform falls down as they plough into him. There are only eight books in the official Bom series so I don't know whether anything could be called historic but this is quite a memorable occasion because it's where Bom meets Skipper Heave-Ho who remains a loyal friend in most of the little drummer's future adventures. The Skipper is dressed in a blue suit with a sailor's cap and he sports a ginger beard and moustache. The man scrambles to his feet, introduces himself, and looking the geese over he judges them as performers which may interest his brother who owns a fair so he thinks he might buy the birds as a birthday gift. The goose-girl cheers up considerably when she hears this and they all march off with Skipper Heave-Ho leading the way and demonstrating that he can create poems and songs as well as anyone in these stories by bellowing out a tune to accompany the little procession.
They arrive at the fair and search out the Skipper's brother whose name is Sammy Say-So. Apparently he has a voice which is even louder than the Skipper's and another thing about him is that he loses his temper about once a minute! There he is coming over the field with a big welcome for Heave-Ho in a booming voice,
"WELL, WELL, WELL! Haven't seen you for a year. WHAT have you been up to?" ... he goes on and on with the Skipper trying to get a word in to tell him he's brought a birthday present but what would Mr. Say-So want with seven skinny geese?
"Put them into the dustbin."
The little goose-girl is terribly unhappy when he says that and she bursts into tears. The Skipper says they're wonderful geese but Say-So is not convinced. He wouldn't mind having that smart little dog though and when he's asked why he would want Wuffy seeing he's got at least ten performing dogs of his own, he tells them that robbers are creeping into the fair at night and none of his dogs bark. Bom tells him he couldn't part with Wuff and Mr. Say-So asks him who he thinks he is to speak so boldly. Bom tells him his name and strikes his drum so loudly that Mr. Say-So falls down in a sudden fright. He sits on the ground, stares at Bom, and then points a finger at him.
"HA! Now I know you! You're the little drummer who escaped from the fort. I'll tell Captain Bang you're here if you don't give me your dog."
Poor Bom what a fright he gets! It seems that no matter where he goes someone recognizes him and threatens to inform that horrible old Captain Bang. The only thing he can do is to run and that's exactly what he does. The goose-girl weeps big tears but can't go with him because of her geese and now the two brothers have heated words which end with the Skipper telling Say-So that he'll never visit him again. He takes the goose-girl's hand and departs with the geese following but Say-So, feeling a little sad about what's happened, calls after them and says he'll keep the geese for the night seeing there won't be room for them at Heave-Ho's place. He also admits to the goose-girl that he's rather bad-tempered but he really did want the dog to guard the fair-ground. The bad-feelings are repaired a little and the Skipper then takes the goose-girl off to his home which is actually a boat-house.
Where's Bom wonders the little goose-girl. Where indeed? He had hurried out of the field and is now wandering down the road with Wuff and squeezing into a hedge whenever he hears a horse coming by just in case it's Captain Bang. On and on they go, until the sun sets and the stars come out. Eventually, they come across a curious little dwelling that looks like an upside down sea-vessel and Bom, recognizing it as a boat-house, guesses that maybe it's Skipper Heave-Ho's place. He tiptoes towards it and looks in the window.
What a wonderful sight! His two friends are inside sitting at a table and having supper. Bom beats his drum softly and, rapping on the door, he announces himself and gains entry. What a delight for Skipper Heave-Ho and the goose-girl when he appears and joins in the meal.
"I've ended up with a fine dinner in front of me. I'm happy, I'm happy, I'm happy!"
There are three bunks, one for each so after their meal it's time for bed and a good night's sleep only to be woken up in the morning by a loud knocking on the door. Luckily it isn't Captain Bang. Mr. Say-So is on the doorstep all apologetic about not taking the geese and he's prepared to pay double because he needs them. Apparently the robbers came to the fair last night and the geese that were sleeping by the stream heard them and hissed as loudly as a thousand snakes! They woke up the whole camp and this resulted in the fair-folk nabbing the robbers. That had solved Mr. Say-So's problem and once he's handed the goose-girl a purse of money he bursts into a loud and funny song which hints that he might give the geese some police-helmets to wear. Suddenly he stops and looks solemn as he tells them that Captain Bang has already been notified of Bom's whereabouts.
"You TELL-TALE!" bellows the Skipper and he looks so fierce that Say-So disappears out of the door as if the geese were after him. NOW, what's going to happen? Will Captain Bang arrive at ANY moment? Bom had better go but it's too late because from the open door he spots some soldiers in the distance. The Skipper has an idea and he instructs the goose-girl to sit on a stool and spread her skirt round it so that Bom can hide underneath. The girl does so and Bom crawls into the small space whilst the Skipper nips out the back way with the drummer's hat just before the soldiers knock on the front door and enter. What do they spy? They see a young girl sitting on a stool and shelling peas. The solders inform her of a report that Bom's in the vicinity and are told by the goose-girl that he was but when he heard they were coming he went into hiding. She suggests they search for him out in the fields and they'll probably do that but first they'll have a look around the boat-house. Wuffy barks all the time they're there and even nips one of them. They can't find Bom so, utterly annoyed by the dog who's snapping at them left, right and centre, the soldiers make off to search in the surrounding countryside and Bom's able to come out from under the stool to hug his brave little dog. He decides it's now safe to leave and after giving the goose-girl a hug also and saying that he hopes to see her again some day, he makes his exit into the fields. He feels he'd like to have his helmet back and then he suddenly sees it bobbing along the top of a hedge with its white plume waving. How extraordinary! He figures out the explanation when he hears Skipper Heave-Ho singing a loud tune and crawling about in the field with the helmet showing over the hedge to lead the soldiers on a fine dance. They see it and give chase only to find that instead of locating Bom they've come up against the Skipper who, when a soldier questions him as to why he's wearing the helmet, replies that it's to keep his head warm.
"Why do you wear yours?" he retorts.
When they enquire as to where he got it he tells them that he took it from the head of a little drummer boy. This causes a reaction as it naturally would and when they ask after the drummer's whereabouts they're told that he's probably miles away by now and — no, they can't have the hat back. What? One of the soldiers is drawing his sword, well that'll be enough of that and the powerful Skipper grabs him and throws the man over the hedge! Does anyone else want the same treatment? It appears not and the soldiers decide they'll hunt in yonder wood. As soon as they've gone, Bom shows himself to the Skipper and they have a good laugh over what's happened. Heave-Ho wants the little drummer to stay with him but Bom thinks it might be a too risky because the soldiers could return and, anyway, he wants to continue adventuring with Wuffy-dog.
Well, this has certainly been an adventure and after Heave-Ho has put the helmet back onto his pal's head he asks him if he ever gets lonely and Bom tells him that he has no friends at all except for Wuffy-dog. The Skipper offers to be his friend as well and tells him that if he ever needs help he can just let him know because the little drummer is young and might need a little advice now and again. Bom's delighted to accept the proposition and now it's time for him to depart so, watched by the burly Skipper, he and Wuffy-dog set off down the lane with Bom beating his drum and singing a song to bring the story to an end.
Goodbye, little Bom, and Wuffy-dog too. See you again sometime!
I think that by 1956 when the Bom books appeared, Enid Blyton would have been only just past her highest peak although one or two good Find-Outer stories were due a year or two later. Bom is much a younger child's fare and in combination with the colour illustrations should be quite an enjoyable read. The pictures themselves could be judged as to merit by older readers.
You can get a rough idea of the medieval era that in which Bom may have existed by the fact that you could purchase 10 plums for a penny!
One of the marketeers was yelling out "Brown eggs, warm from the hen." Some people don't know that white eggs come from white hens and brown eggs come from dark-coloured hens.
The goose-girl's birds were crtiticised for their lack of fat. In some countries geese are fattened up by being force-fed with grain stuffed through a funnel down their throats so that their livers, after becoming diseased and swollen to several times their normal bulk, can be sold as a delicacy under the name — Foie gras.
Just to keep Enid Blyton's truthful world intact, the Goose-girl didn't lie and say that Bom wasn't in the boat-house when he was there hiding under her skirt. She simply told the soldiers that Bom was in hiding.
In the book, Bom's soldier-hat is also called a helmet.
The little goose-girl would definitely be classed a friend of Bom's so he can say that he has at least three friends (including Wuffy) but I'm sure he must have more than that.
An Old Salt (Man of the Sea) is often used in stories as a character with whom the main player or players can chum up so there are a few Sailor Sams or Barnacle Bills in children's tales. Rupert Bear's seaside friend was Captain Barnacle. The Kirrin children met a few, especially George because she lived by the sea, and one they all became acquainted with was Jeremiah Boogle. The relationship in this Bom book made me think of Pippi (Långstrump) Longstocking for some reason although her Old Salt friend was actually her father.