Bom and the Rainbow
First edition: 1959
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: R. Paul-Höye
Category: Bom Series
Publisher: Brockhampton Press
Illustrator: R. Paul-Höye
Category: Bom Series
On This Page...
Cover from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Endpapers from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Title Page from the 1st edition, illustrated by R. Paul-Höye
Apple-Tree Village on a signpost is enticing enough to make Bom want to pay a visit and perhaps he can also get something to eat so he and Wuffy-dog enter the cosy little settlement and find just what the doctor ordered ... a pie-shop. Bom loves pies and soon he's sitting down and tucking in. Wuffy gets a bone to gnaw and they eat happily until the sound of shouting and yelling comes to their ears. Mr. Crumbs the shop-owner and his wife tell Bom that it's the Dumble family being turned out of their cottage because they can't pay the rent and anyone can understand that it's difficult to feed six children and pay out good money when father has a broken leg and mother has been ill. Bye and bye, Bonny and Benny the raggedy Dumble twins appear at the shop approach and tell Bom and Mrs. Crumb that they are going off to try and earn some money so the rent can be paid. Mrs. Crumbs gives them each a pie which they gobble down and then they stare at Bom who looks so grand in his bright uniform.
"Are you very rich, Drummer?" asks Bonny. "Do you live in a castle?"
Bom tells them he's just a wanderer and as for money, well ... just feel in his pockets. These children actually follow his suggestion and are disappointed to find no cash so they ask how he funds himself and he tells them that he drums for pennies and he can always find board with his friend Skipper Heave-Ho if he wants to settle down for a while. Having finished their pies the children can't pay for them of course but Mrs. Crumble gets them to wash all the dishes up for her and they do so gladly. Feeling a little sad for the destitute family Bom and Wuffy set off with Bom drumming softly as he goes and then he turns a corner and comes across a sad sight ... Bonny and Benny's parents, together with their furniture, are sitting out in the street. It's just TOO bad especially as it's started raining as well and now drops of water are pattering down on Bom's drum as he trudges along but what's this? Bonny and Benny run up and say they want to go with him and see if they can earn some money. But, what can they do? They don't know, but they have confidence in Bom because he looks so grand and clever. Bom is a truthful little soldier and he tells them that he isn't all that wonderful because he couldn't even shoot straight when he was living in the fort from which he absconded. The twins laugh and then the weather clears a little as they start walking along with their new friend.
"LOOK! There's a rainbow. The biggest and beautifulest I ever saw," says Bonny and sure enough there's a great shining arch stretching across the sky and at that moment Bom remembers something his Aunt Twinkle had once told him. She had said that long ago a crock of gold had been buried at one end of the rainbow and whoever dug it up could have it. Bom tells the twins and they ask if anyone has found the crock yet.
"No," says Bom and he points to where the ends of the rainbow touch the ground. "The gold must be in one of those two places."
Well, Bonny and Benny are raring to go and find it but naturally they'll need spades however Benny thinks they should get to the rainbow before bothering about those so they all walk down the lane, round a corner, beside a pond, over a stile, across a field, down a hill and up another. Meanwhile the rainbow hangs in the sky as the eager treasure-hunters get nearer and nearer with Bom banging his drum and singing one of his songs -
Up the hill we goThat's sufficient thank-you. Goodness me, somebody likes it because Benny pants out -
To the beautiful glittering bow
Bonny and Benny and Wuffy and Me
And what do you think we're going to see ...
"That's a lovely song. I wish I could sing like that!"
At the top of the hill the rainbow seems to spread all over the ground with its lovely colours and they notice a small hut nearby. Just as they kneel down to scrabble about in the earth a loud voice hails them.
"What are you doing on Rainbow Hill? Do you want a ticket to go over the rainbow?"
There's a ginger-haired man inside the hut and he's looking at them from the window. Bom boldly states the reason for their presence and the man tells him they're at the wrong end. If they want to go over the rainbow and down the other side to the other end they'll need tickets. Yes, it appears that the search for the crock of gold has attracted an entrepreneur but what's the use of asking two destitute children and a penniless soldier for ninepence? As it has before, Bom's drum saves the day because the man says he'll give them tickets if Bom will let him have a few bashes on it. The bargain is sealed and the funny little man emerges from his hut, hands them their tickets and then gives the drum a few enormous BOM BOM BOMS. The noise makes the rainbow shake and shiver so much that Bom's rather scared it might shatter to bits and he tells the man to cool it a little. After a few more BOMS the man returns the drum and tells them that they need to climb the first half of the rainbow and slide down the other side but they'll need rugs to sit on or the friction will wear out their clothes. Bom is sure the loan of rugs would cost more bangs on his drum so he vetoes that and walking up to the shimmering end of the rainbow he wonders how they're supposed to climb it. The ticket-man has all the answers so take note - you use Rainbow Gum. You put a little on your hands and feet so that you won't slip down as you go but it costs. This man is in for everything he can make from his position as the official Rainbow Guardian and I can't quite understand why he hasn't gone over and claimed the crock for himself. Bom's not having any more money talk however and he says that he wants the gum for nothing ... well, almost nothing. He'll get Wuffy to lick the man three times for luck. How's that? It meets with approval so the transaction is made and the gum is handed out. Once sufficiently daubed, the adventurers plus dog begin there climb. Up and up they go and soon it's rather scary to look down because they're so high and the earth is so far below. They reach the top and then, mindful of the damage they may do to their clothes, Bonny has an idea - they can all sit in the enormous hanky that Bom received from the tramp and slide down on it. First Bom lets his drum roll away to the bottom of the rainbow and then they all sit on the hanky and - WHOOOOOOOOSH! Down they speed with Bom ever willing and able to sing no matter what the circumstances -
Here we all goEnough, enough! Any more of that might send us round the bend. Bom and the children experience a wonderful slide and I'm not surprised seeing the height they were at and then ... BUMP! They're at the bottom and rolling over half-laughing and half-frightened. The hanky has certainly come in useful because although it's full of holes, everyone's clothes have been protected including Wuffy-dog's fur. Now what? Looking about them they spy an old woman sitting outside a souvenir shop knitting a scarf with rainbow thread and in the window they see several spades for sale. That's just what they need so they approach the woman who guesses why they're visiting and she lets on that it's a waste of time to search for the crock of gold because about a million people have borrowed her spades yet no one has found anything of value. Bom and the twins are still anxious to try so the kind lady says she'll lend them three spades for nothing and give them a bun each. Well! Now I'm hoping they find the gold if only to pay the woman back for her kindness. They eat their buns then begin digging but eventually they become very tired so Bom decides to quit and search for his drum which rolled off the end of the rainbow and is nowhere in sight. The others have had enough as well so they return the spades and set off to help Bom but their search seems destined to end on a forlorn note. They have no luck at all and after a while, hungry and tired, they sit down and Bom starts tapping his drum-sticks on a hollow tree in the hopes that his drum may hear the noise and know that its owner is nearby.
On the shimmering bow,
Bonny and Benny and me!
We're over the bend ...
What a surprise they receive when suddenly there comes an answering "Bom-diddy-bom-diddy-bom-bom-bom!"
Bom is terribly excited and they all stumble off in the direction of the bom-boms and when they push through some thick bushes they spy the drum lying on its side by a stream. How can a drum play itself one might wonder? The explanation is simple ... a furry bunny-rabbit is standing on it and drumming away with his feet. Seeing Bom, it runs down a hole but then returns with another dozen or so of its friends once it realises that the little soldier and the children aren't threatening. Bom starts beating his drum happily and then Bonny gives a sudden shout and points to the rabbit hole. Everyone stares. What has she seen? In an Enid Blyton book where children are searching for valuables and one of them gives a shout and points to something I think an educated guess could be made as to what's been spotted. Did you guess right? No, you didn't because you thought it would be the Crock of Gold. Maybe I'm wrong but anyway, what Bonny is pointing at is a single, shiny, piece of gold wedged in the side of the burrow. Bom scrapes it out and then digs frantically at the earth with his drum-sticks to widen the hole a little but that's no good so Wuffy takes a hand. Dogs are pretty good at digging earth out of holes but rabbits are even better equipped so they all join in as well. They dig the hole wider and wider and then Wuffy gives a loud bark and jumps out with another piece of gold. Bom tells the rabbits to exit and then with Bonny and Benny holding his feet he lowers himself into the opening and, unbelievably, his hands actually touch the revered crock of gold! After all these years, it has been found! Bom can't get hold of it properly because it's broken so he grabs a few handfuls of the contents and passes them up to the others.
What an exiting moment. After plenty of hugs for the rabbits, the three adventurers and dog make their way back through the woods with the gold pieces inside Bom's drum for safety. EB is spinning this tale out well because now the three friends are lost! All the money in the world and nowhere to spend it! They walk on and on for miles it seems and then come to a river which they can't really swim over but then they spot a boat coming along with a brownie rowing it. He pulls up to them and ... yes, he'll take them across for a gold piece but of course this little trio of innocents wouldn't have such an item would they? My Goodness, they do have a gold piece so the brownie's quite happy to relieve them of it and the passengers clamber into the boat. Unfortunately, the boat-owner is not a very nice guy and when they're halfway across the brownie stops and tells them that he's heard the gold rattling inside the drum and he wants a goodly share of it ... or else.
"I'll push you all into the river and row of with the drum!"
What one does in a case like this is to yell for help so Bom does that and the brownie laughs because there's no one else about - he thinks. Wuffy-dog is set on to him but the brownie manages to throw the dog into the river and that's quite enough for Bom so he puts his hand into the drum to get some gold for the nasty fellow.
"AHOY THERE! WHAT'S HAPPENING? AHOY"
Who could that be? Well, Well, Well! It's none other than Bom's great friend who is very much at home on the sea or the river and more so than the evil little brownie. Yes, it's Skipper Heave-Ho in his sailing ship which is scudding over the water towards them! What a relief to think that he should come along at this very moment. He sails alongside the brownie's boat, grabs him up in his strong hands and shakes him hard. He knows this character of old and his name is Mr. Sly so the good Skipper knows exactly what to do with him. Heave-Ho by name and Heave-Ho by nature ... he chucks the brownie into the drink! Well, good riddance to him and now they can all watch Mr. Sly swimming off as scared as can be. How marvellous to be with Skipper Heave-Ho and to be able to climb up onto his big boat and feel safe again with Wuffy dog boarding last of all because he was in the water trying to nip the brownie's toes. Bom explains what they've been doing and tells the Skipper that all the gold is going to pay for the rent of Bonny and Benny's house which I think is a wonderful gesture.
They arrive at Apple-Tree Jetty and plans are made for a Great Big Supper which will include Mr. and Mrs. Crumbs who'll have their best day ever because Bom is going to buy all their meat-pies, buns, and biscuits. The twins parents are sure to be there as well and they're going to be well looked after with their furniture once more in the house and lots of gold in their purses to go shopping with and to buy the services of the best doctor in the world to look at their father's broken leg.
Well, the wonderful supper party took place and now it's over. The Dumble family's furniture is back, the rent paid, the larder is full to the top, the children have hugged Bom warmly and invited him to visit them again sometime, and now Bom has departed. He and Wuffy-dog are with the Skipper sailing back home under the stars and look ... there's Bom fast asleep on the teak planks with his hat for a pillow and the soft noise of his drum tap-tapping as a deep voice croons out -
Bom-diddy-bom,That's a nice song Skipper. Sing it to Bom when he's awake. Good night Bom and Wuffy-dog. Sleep well and we'll see you again in your next adventure.
The moon's in the sky,
The river is singing,
And so am I!
The water is splashing,
The little stars peep,
The wind is a-blowing,
But Bom is asleep ...
A fairly lengthy synopsis has been given once again because, like many of the Blyton books, the "Boms" are relatively scarce and more suited to very young children who don't necessarily flit around the internet searching for reviews.
We met Aunt Twinkle in the last adventure of Bom (Book #4). She lives in Ho-Ho Village.
For those who are interested in trivialities - when they all reached the bottom of the rainbow, Wuffy rolled over 22 times!
Instead of going to all the trouble of climbing the rainbow, could Bom and Co. simply have run across the ground and up the hill to the other end of it? Perhaps there's some kind of a magic rule stipulating that to retrieve the crock of gold it is necessary to slide down the rainbow.
Like Frederick Trotteville who is a well-known EB character, the many readers of the Blyton books like to do a little detecting by pointing out any mistake that makes its evidence known. I have to report an enormous one that may have evaded all those fans who have read and re-read the books for so many years. Here it is at last although there's always the slight possibility that it can be explained. The fact is that it would have been impossible for Bom and Co. to find the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow because many years before our little soldier arrived on the scene, a girl called Molly discovered the booty and claimed it. Molly was one of the characters who starred in Good Old Wishing Chair and she, together with her brother Peter and a small pixie called Chinky went through the routine. Their means of transport was far superior to that which was available to Bom and his companions because they simply sailed onto the top of the rainbow in a flying chair. With Molly leading the way (falling) the other two flew down after her and it was no problem all to pull the crock from out of the ground when they reached the bottom. One explanation may be that a crock of gold graces every single rainbow but Bom had been told by his Aunt Twinkle that "long ago" somebody had buried the gold which tends to signify that only one rainbow exists and that the gold has always been at its base.
In case you are thinking about it, the rabbits didn't get any of the gold but that's not due to any reticence on the part of Bom and Co. The fact is that rabbits don't need it because, as Bonny said, "They never go shopping."
I think Bom is a little over generous which I suppose does him credit but if I'd been him I would have taken some of the gold for myself - just enough to build a house and perhaps buy a horse and buggy so that I wouldn't have to walk everywhere. Maybe even a boat as well so, like my good friend Skipper Heave-Ho, I could sail anywhere I wanted to.
It's a little curious as to why the Dumbles didn't buy a house outright instead of having to pay rent forever! I suppose a lot depends on just how many gold pieces Bom managed to hand up before emerging from the hole. I don't think he took it all out of the broken crock because some may have been unreachable. Still, there's quite a pile of it in the picture but I guess every angle has to be considered and gold may have been quite common coinage in those days and worth far less that the $600 or so per ounce that we have to pay for it in these times.
Bom's been wandering over the countryside since Book #3 so it's a little odd that Skipper Heave Ho always seems to be handy. Perhaps our intrepid soldier is going around in a circle or he and Wuffy-dog could be very slow walkers ... but I think it's probably because they keep getting side-tracked.
Near the end there's a picture of Bom sleeping soundly on the deck of the Skipper's ship. Surely Heave-Ho would have had a spare bed or perhaps Bom could have used his one seeing the Skipper had to steer the ship. Mind you Bom may have momentarily slid off into a deep sleep right were he was due to sheer exhaustion.