Little Billy’s mother was always telling him exactly what he was allowed to do and what he was notallowed to do.
All the things he was allowed to do were boring.All the things he was not allowed to do were exciting.
One of the things he was NEVER NEVER allowed to do, the most exciting of them all, wasto go out through the garden gate all by himself and explore the world beyond.
On this sunny summer afternoon, Little Billy was kneeling on a chair in the living room, gazing out through the window at the wonderful world beyond. His mother was in the kitchen doing the ironing and although the door was open shecouldn’t see him.
Every now and again his mother would callout to him, saying, “Little Billy, what are you up to in there?”
And Little Billy would always call back and say,“I’m being good, Mummy.”
But Little Billy was awfully tired of being good.
Through the window, not so very far away, he could see the big black secret wood that was called The Forest of Sin. It was something he had always longed to explore. His mother had told him that even grown-ups were frightened of going into The Forest of Sin.
She recited a poem to him that was well known in the district. It went like this:Beware! Beware! The Forest of Sin!
None come out, but many go in!
“Why don’t they come out?” Little Billy asked her. “What happens to them in the wood?”
“That wood,” his mother said, “is full of the most bloodthirsty wild beasts in the world.”
“You mean tigers and lions?” Little Billy asked.
“Much worse than that,” his mother said.
“What’s worse than tigers and lions, Mummy?”
“Whangdoodles are worse,” his mother said, “and Hornswogglers and Snozzwanglers and Vermicious Knids.
“And worst of all is the Terrible Bloodsuckling Toothpluckling Stonechuckling Spittler. There’s one of them in there, too.”
“A Spittler, Mummy?”
“Of course. And when the Spittler chases after you, he blows clouds of hot smoke out of hisnose.”
“Would he eat me up?” Little Billy asked.
“In one gulp,” his mother said.
Little Billy did not believe a word of this. He guessed his mother was making it all up just tofrighten him and stop him ever going out of thehouse alone.
And now Little Billy was kneeling on the chair, gazing with longing through the window at the famous Forest of Sin.
“Little Billy,” his mother called out from thekitchen. “What are you doing?”
“I’m being good, Mummy,” Little Billy called back.
Just then a funny thing happened. Little Billy began to hear somebody whispering in his ear. He knew exactly who it was. It was the Devil. The Devil always started whispering to him when hewas especially bored.
“It would be easy,” the Devil was whispering,“to climb out through that window. No one would see you. And in a jiffy you would be in the garden, and in another jiffy you would be through the front gate, and in yet another jiffy you would be exploring the marvelous Forest of Sin all by yourself. It is a super place. Do not believe one word of what your mother says about Whangdoodles and Hornswogglers and Snozzwanglersand Vermicious Knids and the Terrible Bloodsuckling Toothpluckling Stonechuckling Spittler. There are no such things.”
“What is in there?” Little Billy whispered.
“Wild strawberries,” the Devil whispered back.“The whole floor of the forest is carpeted withwild strawberries, every one of them luscious andred and juicy-ripe. Go and see for yourself.”
These were the words the Devil whisperedsoftly into Little Billy’s ear on that sunny summer afternoon.
The next moment, Little Billy had opened thewindow and was climbing out.
Copyright © 1991 by Roald Dahl, illustrations copyright Quentin Blake. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.