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Extract from Children's Stories

Mr Skillett and Mrs Round

Mr Skillett was as tall as a bus, and as thin as two pieces of paper stuck together. When he entered his house in The Street, he had to fold in half at the waist. And once inside, he had to sit down very quickly in case his head went through the ceiling.

Mr Skillett was always lonely, because as soon as he went out into The Street, everyone else disappeared indoors. Parents would drag their children in, saying, "Come away in! You don't want to go near that freak!" And when their children misbehaved, parents would often say, "You'd better be good, or Mr Skillett will be after you!" The only people Mr Skillett ever saw were gangs of nasty boys who would follow him at a safe distance shouting abuse at him, like, "Skinny Skillett, lofty freak!" and sometimes throwing stones at him.

But one day, Mrs Round got stuck in her door. Mrs Round was quite short and very, very fat. She spotted Mr Skillett out of the corner of her eye, and tried very hard to get into her house as quickly as she could. But she was so fat she stuck fast in the doorway. She heaved and she panted, she pulled and she pushed, but she couldn't budge.

Mr Skillett drew near, and greeted her politely. "How now, Mrs Round," he said. Then lifting his hat he added, "May I help?" First he took her shopping bags from her and placed them on the ground. Then he turned her sideways in the doorway and gave her a little shove. Mrs Round tumbled into her house and Mr Skillett followed with the bags.

"I think I could make the doorway a little wider for you, Mrs Round," he said thoughtfully. And without more ado, he unhinged the door, fetched his hammer, his chisel, his nails and his saw, and set to work.

Mrs Round was so overwhelmed by this unexpected kindness, that she didn't know what to say. So she put the kettle on and made a cup of tea and cut two large wedges of her favourite cake, because she knew Mr Skillett would never put on weight however much he ate.

After that, Mr Skillett and Mrs Round often went shopping together. Mr Skillett would carry the bags, and Mrs Round would trot beside him, even though she only came up to his knees. On the way home, they always stopped to sit on the bench in the park and feed the ducks, and they became quite friendly together.

One day, they found their seat in the park taken by Hopalong. When the other boys had spotted Mr Skillett in the distance, they had all run off, but Hopalong had only one leg and was much slower than the others. As he had grabbed his crutches and tried to run, he'd slipped and fallen, and his ankle was hurting so much he was in tears.

"There, there," murmured Mr Skillett, folding himself in four so as to reach Hopalong's level. "I think we'd better take you to Dr Black. I don't like the look of that ankle."

Mrs Round picked up the bags and Hoppy's crutches, and Mr Skillett picked up Hoppy. He was light as a feather in Mr Skillett's arms, and it felt as if he was floating in air, for he'd never been so high in his life....