The Drum is a spooky story for kids about two young girls who are promised a reward if they behave badly. This story is based on an old folktale called “The Pear Drum”. A version of this story appeared in Scary Stories to Tell in the dark under the title “The Drum” and another version was written by Lucy Clifford, called “The New Mother”.
Once upon a time there were two little girls. Their names were Blue-Eyes and Turkey. Blue-Eyes was named after the color of her eyes and Turkey after the red dress she wore. They lived in a little house on the moor with their mother and their baby brother, Arthur. Their father was a sailor and he was always away at sea, traveling to faraway lands.
One day Blue-Eyes and Turkey went for a walk upon the moor when they met a Gypsy Girl playing on a little drum. As she played, a little mechanical man and woman came out of the drum and danced. Blue-Eyes and Turkey were enchanted. They had never seen such an amazing toy and they begged the Gypsy Girl to give them the drum.
The girl just laughed. “I will give it to you,” she said, “but only if you are very naughty! Come back tomorrow and tell me how naughty you were. Then we shall see.”
As soon as Blue-Eyes and Turkey got home, they began to behave as badly as they could. They started shouting, they spilled their food on the floor, they drew all over the walls with their crayons and refused to go to bed. The two sisters did everything they could think of to upset their mother.
The next day, they got up very early and hurried out onto the moor. There, they found the Gypsy Girl playing on her drum.
“We were very naughty yesterday!” they cried. “Can we please have the drum now?”
“Tell me what you did,” the Gypsy Girl replied.
So they told her.
The Gypsy Girl just laughed. “Oh no!” she said. “You were only a little bit naughty. You’re going to have to be far worse than that if you want this drum.”
As soon as the sisters got home that day, they were as naughty as they could be. They threw their cups on the floor, they tore their clothes, they walked in the mud up to their knees and pulled up all the flowers in the garden. They also let the pig out of the pen and let it run away.
Their mother was even more horrified than before by their behavior.
“If you don’t stop this,” said the mother, “I will go away and take Arthur with me and you will get a new mother. One with glass eyes and a wooden tail.”
That scared Blue-eyes and Turkey. They loved their mother and they loved their baby brother, Arthur. They could not imagine being without them and the thought of it made them cry.
“I don’t want to leave you,” their mother said. “But unless you change your behavior, I will have to go away.”
“We’ll be good,” the girls promised. Yet, they did not believe that their mother would really go away.
“She’s just trying to scare us,” Blue-eyes said later.
“We’ll get the drum tomorrow,” said Turkey. “Then we can go back to being good again.”
The next day, the sisters got up very early and rushed off to meet the Gypsy Girl. When they found her, she was playing with the drum again and the little mechanical man and woman were dancing back and forth.
They told the gypsy girl how naughty they had been the day before.
“That must be bad enough to get the drum,” they said.
“Oh, no,” replied the Gypsy Girl with a smile. “You will have to be much worse than that.”
“But we promised our mother we would be on our best behavior from now on,” said the sisters.
“If you really want the drum,” said the gypsy girl, “you must be much naughtier.”
“It’s only for one more day,” Blue-eyes told Turkey. “Then we will have the drum.”
“I hope you’re right,” Turkey said, nervously.
Again she told them they had not been naughty enough. “You must be really bad,” she said.
As soon as they got home that evening, the young girls set about being as naughty as possible. This time, they broke the kitchen table and chairs, they smashed all the fine china and ripped their clothes to shreds. As if that wasn’t enough, the girls whipped the dog unmercifully, they beat their baby brother with a stick and they punched their mother in the face.
Their mother began to cry. “Blue-Eyes and Turkey,” she sobbed, “You’re not keeping your promise. If you don’t stop being so naughty, I will have to go away and instead you will have a new mother with glass eyes and a wooden tail to live with you.”
“We will be good,” said Blue-eyes.
“We promise,” said Turkey.
“I hope so,” said their mother. “I can’t wait much longer. Please try to behave yourselves.”
However, the two girls still had their hearts set on the amazing drum and when they were alone, they said to each other, “Tomorrow we will be good. Once we have got the drum we will be good again.”
Early the next morning, before their mother was awake, Blue-Eyes and Turkey ran out onto the moor. There, they found the Gypsy Girl. They told her all about the bad things they had done the day before.
“We were horrid,” said Turkey.
“We were worse than we have ever been,” said Blue-eyes. “You have to give us the drum now.”
That was when they noticed that the Gypsy Girl wasn’t playing with the drum. In fact, it was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is the drum?” the sisters cried.
The Gypsy Girl just laughed. “It is gone. We Gypsies are all going away today. I am the last to leave.”
“But we did as you told us” cried Blue-eyes and Turkey.
The Gypsy Girl laughed again. “Yes, I know” she said. “You have been really naughty, and now your mother has gone away, far, far away and instead you have a mother with glass eyes and a wooden tail.”
Blue-Eyes and Turkey began to cry. They rushed home as quickly as they could. But their mother and Arthur were gone.
“Maybe they’re just out shopping,” said Blue-eyes hopefully.
“Yes, they’ll be back soon. I’m sure of it,” said Turkey, trying to reassure herself.
But, when lunchtime came and went and they were still not back, Blue-Eyes and Turkey began to feel lonely and scared. They wandered about on the moor all day, but when evening came, they went back home.
The lights in the house were off, but when they peered through the window, they could see their new mother’s glass eyes glistening in the in the glow of the firelight and they could hear her wooden tail thumping on the floor.