Scary For Kids


Chips is a scary story for children about a man who sells his soul to the devil and gets plagued by a talking rat. It is based on a spooky story that Charles Dickens remembered being told as a child by his nanny.


There was once a shipwright and his name was Chips. His father’s name before him was Chips, and his father’s name before him was Chips, and his father before him, and his father before him. So he came from a long line of Chipses.

Chips the father had sold his soul to the devil for an iron pot, a bushel of tenpenny nails, a half ton of copper and a rat that could speak; and Chips the grandfather had sold himself to the devil for the same; and Chips the great-grandfather had done the same thing; and all of them came to a terrible end, but the bargain had run in the family for a long, long time.

One day, young Chips was at work on a ship at the docks. He was all alone, down in the dark hold of a ship that had been hauled up for repairs. All of a sudden, he heard a voice saying:

“A lemon has pips, a yard has ships and I shall have Chips!”

Chips looked up and there, lurking in the shadows, he saw the devil. He had eyes as big as saucers and they burned with a red glow, spitting out sparks of fire whenever he blinked. Hanging over one of his arms by the handle was an iron pot, and under that arm was a bushel of tenpenny nails, and under his other arm was a half ton of copper, and sitting on one of his shoulders was a rat that could speak. So, the devil said again:

“A lemon has pips, a yard has ships and I shall have Chips!”

Chips was so frightened, he didn’t say a word. He just went on with his work and tried to pretend it was just his imagination.

“Chips Ahoy!” said the rat that could speak. “Chips, Old Boy! What are you doing?”

“I’m putting in new planks because you and your kind have eaten the old ones away,” said Chips.

“But we’ll eat these timbers too,” said the rat. “We”ll let in the water and drown the crew, and then we’ll eat them too.”

“I’d like to see you try,” replied Chips as he carried on with his work.
He did his best to ignore the devil, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off the half ton of copper or the bushel of tenpenny nails; because nails and copper are like gold to a shipwright, and shipwrights will do anything they can to get them.

“I see what you’re looking at, Chips,” said the devil. “You’d better strike the bargain with me. You know the terms. Your father before you was well acquainted with them, and so were your grandfather and your great-grandfather before him.”

“I like the copper,” said Chips. “And I like the nails, and I don”t mind the pot, but I don’t like the rat.”

“You can’t have the rest without him,” said the devil, fiercely. “He’s part of the deal.”

Chips was afraid of losing the half ton of copper and the bushel of nails, so he said, “Hold on a minute!”

He took a pencil and a piece of paper and scrawled out a deal with the devil to sell his soul. He handed over the signed contract and in return, got the half ton of copper, the bushel of nails, the pot and the rat that could speak. With a cunning smile, the devil vanished.

Chips used the copper and the nails to finish repairing the ship, and the deal made him very prosperous. He tried to sell the pot, but nobody wanted it.

Now that he was a wealthy man, Chips wanted to find himself a wife but no girl would come near him. The rat was perched on his shoulder day and night and as soon as any girl saw it, she would run a mile away. So, Chips decided to kill the rat.

One day, when he was at work in the shipyard, he put the rat into the iron pot. Then, he heated up a big kettle of scalding hot pitch and poured it into the pot, filling it full to the brim. He kept his eye on it until it cooled and hardened. Then he let it stand for twenty days, and then he sank the pot in water for twenty days more, and then he got the smelters to put it in the furnace for another twenty days. When they took it out, the pot was glowing red hot, but the rat was sitting in it, looking just the same as ever! It laughed and said with a jeer:

“A lemon has pips, a yard has ships and I shall have Chips!”

With that, it jumped out of the pot and scampered away. Chips hoped that he had gotten rid of the rat for good. After that, he met a lot of women and every night, he went out on a date. When he found one who was more beautiful than all the others, he asked for her hand in marriage and she, of course, accepted.

But, a terrible thing happened next day. When he put his hand in his pocket, he found a rat. In his hat, he found another; and in his other pocket, another; and in the sleeves of his coat, when he pulled it on to go meet his fiancée for dinner, he found two more. From that time on, he found himself plagued by rats. They climbed up his legs when he was at work and sat on his tools when he tried to use them. They got into his house, and into his bed, and into his teapot, and into his beer, and into his boots.

When he bought a box of chocolates for his fiancée, a big fat rat jumped out of it and scratched her face. When he put his arms round her and tried to comfort her, he found a bunch of rats clinging to her back. So, the marriage was called off and everything was cancelled. The rats even ate the wedding invitations.

You can imagine what a terrible effect all of this had on poor Chips. His life was in ruins and he fell into a dark pit of depression. He kept yelling and screaming at the rats to leave him alone. His boss in the shipyard thought he was mad and fired him, and he couldn’t find another job. Soon, Chips was penniless and the rats were still crawling all over him, day and night.

Eventually, Chips couldn’t take it any more. He was driven to the depths of despair by the rats and was desperate to escape from them. One night, he went down to the shipyard on the docks where he had made his deal with the devil. He stood at the edge of the docks and stared down at the water. He intended to put an end to it all and drown himself.

But, when he jumped off the docks and landed with a splash in the water below, Chips looked back and realized that the rats weren’t able to follow him. They were all gathered at the edge of the docks, staring at him intently. Rejoicing at his good luck, Chips swam as fast as he could and managed to grab onto a rope that was trailing behind a ship that had just set sail.

When the sailors pulled him on board, dripping wet, he realized it was the very same ship he had repaired in the shipyard. He signed up to become a member of the crew. When the Admiral learned that Chips had been a shipwright, he set him to work immediately doing any repairs that were necessary. The ship was bound for the West Indies and as they sailed and sailed across oceans green and blue, Chips fell in love with the freedom of the sea. With the cool breeze in his hair and surrounded by the salty stench of seaweed and fish, he finally felt at peace.

The ship was called the Argonaut, and on the bough of the ship there was a large carved wooden figurehead. One day, the sailors noticed a small hole in its forehead and so Chips was lowered down on a rope to repair it. Dangling on the end of the rope, he found the hole but he couldn’t figure out what had caused it. Peering into the hole, he was shocked to see millions of red eyes and sharp, white teeth and he could hear the sound of nibbling and gnawing.

Suddenly, a large rat poked its head out and said, “Chips ahoy! Chips, Old Boy!”

Chips recoiled in horror. It was the rat that could speak.

“We’re eating these timbers through,” said the rat. “We”ll let in the water and drown the crew, and then we’ll eat them too.”

Chips was filled with terror and dread. He climbed back up the rope and tried to tell the other sailors what he had seen, but nobody would believe him. They all thought he had gone crazy. Chips demanded to speak to the Admiral.

When he entered the Admiral’s quarters, Chips gave a big salute and said, “Sir, I must speak to you about a matter of the utmost urgency.”

“What is it?” asked the Admiral.

“We are sailing on a doomed ship, Sir,” said Chips. “If we don’t put to shore immediately, we are all going to die.”

The Admiral looked him up and down. “Young man, your words are a madman’s words,” he said.

“Sir, the ship is infested with rats,” said Chips. “They are nibbling us away. There is dust and hollowness where solid oak ought to be! Those dreadful rats are turning us into a floating coffin! The life of every man on board is at stake.”

“My poor fellow, you are clearly insane,” said the Admiral, shaking his head. Then, he turned to the guards and barked, “Take this man below deck and lock him in irons!”

So, Chips was dragged down to the hold of the ship and the guards shackled his wrists and ankles and left him there. He lay in his cell for six whole days and nights. By day, he would scream, over and over, “We’re all going to die!” but nobody paid any attention to him. By night, he would lie awake and listen to the rats nibbling and gnawing in the walls.

Around midnight on the seventh night, a small hole appeared in the hull of the ship and water began to leak in. Within minutes, there were holes all over the ship and they kept getting bigger and bigger. A torrent of water rushed in and nothing could stop it. The ship went down with every living soul on board.

A few days later, the remains of Chips floated to shore. The corpse had been partially devoured and, sitting on his chest was an enormous, overgrown rat that just kept laughing and laughing:

“A lemon has pips, a yard has ships and I’ve got Chips!”

scary for kids


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