The Village of The Monsters.
The Guest of Honor.
Long ago there were real people living in
the Village of The Monsters,
back when the village was simply known as Umanitat:
There were schools and shops there,
and beautiful avenues lined with shade trees,
small corner parks where children played,
and a charming canal with playful little gondolas floating on it.
But all was not well with the little village.
The problem began the day the fun-loving citizens of Umanitat
decided to throw a grand fancy-dress ball in 'honor' of Peter
(whom they considered their village fool), as a joke on him.
Not knowing it was a joke on him, though,
Peter was overcome with happiness when told
that he was going to be the village's 'guest of honor'
at the fancy-dress ball
and he ran out to his beloved forest
(which surrounded the village on all sides),
there to shout out his happiness
at the trees and bushes, which were like family to him.
Well, just as he was shouting out his joy all over the place,
a funny-looking little man with a pair of scissors on his belt,
needles pinned to the lapels of his coat, and a tape measure
about his neck approached him... smiling. And
he asked Peter if he too might share in his happiness.
"Why, of course," said Peter, who was always very obliging.
Then he told the little stranger about the fancy-dress ball
at which he was going to be the 'guest of honor.'
"Is that so?" Was all the little stranger replied.
But the smile had faded from his face.
Then he asked Peter a rather curious thing
--whether the Village of Umanitat had a tailor.
"Yes," replied Peter: "Amsel. Although he's not a very good one,
to be honest. Are you a good tailor?"
Peter asked the little man as they walked.
But when he turned around to look for his reply
Peter discovered that he was as alone as if
there had never been anyone but himself out there.
Peter returned home that day accompanied by a distant echo:
"A very good one!" (Which was a good thing for him to hear,
because otherwise he might have
thought he had imagined the whole thing.)
The Little Tailor.
Peter hadn't imagined it, of course:
Next morning, the same funny-looking little stranger
showed up in the streets of the Village of Umanitat.
He wore a long beard (growing down to his knees);
and he carried with him a heavy satchel, sewing tools,
and he dragged an old heavy trunk behind him.
"I have heard that your village is about to hold
a fancy-dress ball," he told the startled villagers:
"So I have come here because I happen to be
the country's greatest maker of fancy-dress costumes."
"We already have a tailor," said Amsel at that.
"So I've heard," said the little stranger:
"But I have seen your handiwork," he told Amsel,
"and this bargain will I make with you:
If you can make better costumes than can I, and at a lesser cost
--I'll pack my needles and threads on the spot
and seek work elsewhere."
Then he pulled out a fine costume and showed it to Amsel.
It practically put Amsel to shame--so well made was it:
A sparkling costume like nothing Amsel himself could have ever
hoped to come up with even in his wildest dreams!
Alas, Amsel the tailor knew immediately that he was not
even a good enough tailor to enter a head-to-head contest
with the little stranger--so he withdrew his opposition
and went home to try to become a better tailor himself.
The Tailor's Helper.
"I will need a helper," the little stranger told the villagers.
"But because I am not going to be making much money
in the beginning, I shall have to have
somebody who will work cheaply.
Do you know of such a worker?"
They all did: "Peter," said most of them at once:
"Peter the fool!" And they all laughed,
except Peter... and the little tailor.
"What sort of costumes will we be making, Master?"
Peter asked his new boss as he helped him
to carry his great big trunk to the location where
the little tailor was going to set up his shop.
"Clothes to fit everyone," Peter was told:
"So we must first take a good look long at our customers.
Take yourself, for instance:
Are you happy being thought a fool?"
"Hardly," Peter had to admit: He wasn't. "And yet,"
he asked the little tailor: "Am I not a fool?
Suppose I weren't:
What other position am I fit for?"
"You're no fool," the little tailor assured Peter:
"You're already a tailor's helper.
And with the right clothes from me
... you could even be Sheriff of Umanitat,
or its Mayor, I dare say!"
"Just with the right clothes?" Peter marvelled.
"From me," the little tailor wanted it understood:
"It's all in the head, first. Then in the eye:
But such clothes must be made to perfection:
And, frankly, I am the only tailor
who can make clothes to perfection:
Every other tailor makes them to fit
somebody or another."
"Come," the little tailor interrupted himself:
"Though you are dressed like a fool
(something which will never do):
Try on this suit!"
Then, as if by magic,
the little man brought out of his trunk
the uniform of a tailor's helper for Peter.
It was a perfect fit.
As soon as Peter tried it on
he immediately understood all about waist measurements
and shoulder lengths, and padded this and padded that.
Peter suddenly realized he could recall at least
twelve hundred different shades of thread
--And that he knew exactly where
each and every spool of it was stored
inside the tiny tailor's shop the little stranger opened
quite on the spot --So quickly, in fact, that
he did so in the time it took Peter to blink once!
Certainly not the nature of a fool to have
such vast a store of knowledge.
It made Peter suspect that there was something magical
about the little stranger
and that whatever he had come to the Village for
he was certainly more than just a simple tailor,
that was for sure!
"Come, let us start!" the little tailor told Peter then:
"Everyone will soon be dropping by
... to have me pick a costume for them
to wear to the celebration tomorrow evening
--Of which you are to be the guest of honor.
That means we must also pick out a special costume for you.
But for the time being let's just
get ready for all the good citizens who will be dropping by
to be fitted for a costume."
They soon had the little tailor's shop up and running
... in time for Clara Reid (who was always the first
at everything), to show up at the door:
"I'll have you understand," Clara Reid told Peter
and the little tailor, "that the greatest crime in our village is
for a tailor to sell the same costume to two different customers."
"I understand," said the little tailor:
"That is the greatest crime in every village
I have ever had the pleasure of working in, madam.
Yet here I am, never having had any trouble with the law
anywhere I've visited:
Every costume I make is always tailored specifically
to fit the character and body of its wearer."
"The character?" laughed Clara Reid
... like the stuck-up old hen she was:
"How will you manage that?
You barely know anybody in Umanitat."
"I have some help," answered the little tailor,
pointing to his helper (for Clara Reid was not
the person to be told that people were mostly
the same everywhere).
"Foolish helper!" Said Clara Reid:
"All your costumes will probably be foolishly out-of-character!"
It didn't faze the little stranger one bit:
"Since no two persons have the same character,"
he was bold enough to instruct the great Clara Reid:
"No two customers can ever end up with the same costume
"I see," said Clara Reid, blindly placing her trust on
the talent of the village's odd new little tailor:
"What have you to offer in any case?"
"I don't have anything you can pick off the rack,"
the little tailor explained: "All my costumes are finely tailored
to each and very customer: Take yourself (for example),
your costume will have a lot of noble feathers to it
--But trust me: Everything will be ready
on the eve of the fancy-dress ball. Not one second later,
and not one second before then.
That way all the costumes will surprise everyone."
"Well," Clara Reid protested: "There are surprises,
and then there are surprises: You'll get paid if
and when I first approve of my costume. Agreed?"
"Agreed," said the little tailor, matter-of-fact,
walking the great Clara Reid to the front door
of his tiny tailor's shop
as if she had been the queen she liked to pretend she was.
After Clara Reid there was Charles Board,
huge moustache and all:
He too made it clear that no money was to change hands
until he was satisfied with his costume... even before
he set a foot in the shop (so loud was his voice).
"Agreed," the little tailor yelled back at Charles Board
at the top of his voice, so Charles Board
almost didn't even have to set a foot inside the tiny tailor's shop
for him to conclude his business there.
So it went with every customer that dropped by
the tiny tailor's shop that day:
the strange little tailor promised everybody
that their new costumes would fit them
better than any they had ever worn before.
And Peter wrote down all their shoulder lengths,
waists measurements, arms and legs sizes, neck sizes
... while the little tailor himself spent his time whistling
and twiddling his thumbs.
"Master," Peter finally asked the little tailor:
"Shouldn't you be starting to work
on some of the costumes we've been promising your customers?
After all, the ball is tomorrow evening
and practically everybody in town, including Amsel the tailor,
has ordered a costume for himself or herself!"
"Look at me," the little tailor said then to Peter:
"Take a good look and tell me:
What do I look like to you?"
Strange request, but Peter took careful notice
of the little tailor's measuring tape and scissors, pins,
needles and chalk, and everything else.
Then he conceded that the little fellow looked to him
very much like... a little tailor.
"Exactly!" he was told: "So let's hear no more about it:
I am the tailor, by my looks
--You are the tailor's helper, by the look of you:
I will lie back here and whistle and twiddle my thumbs.
You will help me tailor people up
--You do know what a tailor's helper is supposed to do,
Strangely, Peter did
--So without another word Peter continued
taking down measurements
and doing all else that falls to the tailor's helper to do
(while the little tailor himself twiddled his thumbs).
Hopefully, thought Peter, hopefully his little master was resting
for the work he was going to have to do
(if he was ever going to fill all the orders for costumes
This went on like this all day long,
and all evening as well,
and even all the next day (the day of the fancy-dress ball)
from the earliest part of the morning
until it was practically time for the customers to start showing up
at the tiny tailor's shop to pick up their 'finished' costumes...
"Master," Peter finally could control himself no longer
(looking out the window at the first customers headed their way
the evening of the ball): "Master,
we do not have a single piece of work finished
--We have not even so much as started work on a hat or a sock!"
The little tailor smiled, shook his head, and laughed
like the devil had got into him:
"Are you the tailor, or am I?" he asked Peter.
And you all know the answer to that: "Well then."
The little tailor immediately instructed Peter to bring forth
his dusty old trunk. Which they opened:
It was filled to the top with thin dusty old rags
--which the little tailor then began pulling out of it
and spreading all over the shop with as much care and flair
as if they had been the most magnificent costumes on earth:
"Surely," Peter asked his master:
"Surely you don't expect your customers to
have anything to do with these dusty old rags,
"Dusty old rags they may be to you and to me,"
said the little man with a wink: "But
to everyone else who comes through our door
they shall be the most magnificent costumes
they have ever set eyes on--Trust me! Watch and learn:
It's all in the way you put it to them."
It sounded crazy to Peter, but what could he do?
They had already settled the matter of
who was the tailor and who the tailor's helper:
Peter had to admit that he knew nothing about
putting costumes together (or about sales, or about
practically anything else that had to do with tailoring
for that matter).
Next the strange little tailor pulled out a dusty old rag
(not unlike all the hundreds of other dusty old rags
stored away every whichway in that dusty old trunk of his),
all mildewed and sad-looking, and...
"Now you take a look at a piece like this piece,"
which ages and ages ago might have been a fine costume
(of a big red hen): "Our very fretful Doctor Thomas
would never go for a piece like this one," he told Peter:
"It doesn't suit his character
--And that's what we're in the business of:
To suit people's character. Well,"
he then pulled out a second dusty old set of rags
which ages and ages ago must have been a cat-like costume:
"This is more like the good Doctor's style," he told Peter:
"See, it has sharp claws and other instruments."
Then, without pausing: "This old hen
will fit our old trouble-making Mrs. Clara Reid," he went on:
"And for the ill-willed Mister Tundry,
what could be more perfect than a serpent's skin?"
At which point he pulled out still another flimsy spun of rags
he obviously intended to try to pass for
the costume of a snake...
"Fine," thought Peter, fine if the dusty old rags
the strange little man was showing him
were marvelous new costumes and looked anything at all
like what he was describing to him they were
... but, unfortunately, they were just pitiful dusty old, thin,
rotting rags to Peter... the whole lot of them!
And that's when the first actual customer walked into the shop!
Dusty Old Rags.
Without waiting to see who was at the door,
Peter gave some serious thought to hiding himself
or running away--Anything to avoid the fuss
the customer was probably about to raise
over being offered dusty old rags to wear
instead of the fine costume he or she was expecting.
But there was no escape for Peter
(it was a very small shop):
As the little tailor's helper
he was simply going to have to face the music
alongside his master.
"Oh!" screamed Miss Gumpers (a woman so proud
of her teeth that she always made it a point to smile
in spite of having quite a crossed disposition),
sending shivers up and down Peter's spine.
Suddenly here she was,
not only the little tailor's first customer
but also utterly delighted with the costume of a crocodile
the strange little man pulled out for her.
A costume which only Miss Gumpers seem to delight in,
because in Peter's opinion it was one of the most shabby
and flimsy set of rags
the little tailor had yet come up with from his trunk!
Yet Miss Gumpers herself could hardly wait to try it on:
In her eyes it suited her to perfection
--she swore to it--
showing off as it did every one of her
endlessly marvelously white teeth.
She paid for it on the spot,
janked it out of the little tailor's hands,
and raced for the dressing room to slip into it
without wasting one more second.
Peter was floored by the spectacle
--no matter what, the dusty old rags were dusty old rags to him
(even if they might have indeed been a crocodile costume
hundreds of years long past).
"Where was the sales-pitch?" Peter asked
his little master: "I never exactly saw
the way you put it to her."
"I showed it to her didn't I?" said the little man proudly:
"In my business that's the most important thing,
as the costumes easily sell themselves:
That's how it is when one does absolutely perfect work,
Peter scratched his head at that.
But then it was the same thing with the show-off Robert Weiss,
who thought the idea of coming to the fancy-dress ball
dressed as a cobra... "Too much!"
He was delighted with his cobra costume
enough to not only pay the asking fee,
but to also give the little tailor a generous tip on top of it,
showing him by those means just how impressed he was
with the dusty old rags he was handed.
He too couldn't wait to try his costume on
(even though it was still too early in the evening
for the fancy-dress ball):
He shoved dear Miss Gumpers aside
while pushing his way into the dressing room
and quickly put his own dusty old cobra rags on.
"Ha!" Robert Weiss laughed at poor Miss Gumpers's
dusty old crocodile set of rags.
And, "Ha!" laughed Miss Gumpers right back
at Robert Weiss's dusty old set of cobra rags
(as they passed each other).
"Thank you, your honor, your ladyship,"
the little tailor told his two satisfied customers,
while Peter shook his head and wondered
whether he was the fool
... or it was possible that it was everybody else:
Something was definitely crazy somewhere,
except Peter couldn't figure out what or where.
For the rest of the citizens of Umanitat who
came to the little tailor's shop that evening
to get their costumes before heading out for the fancy-dress ball
all the dusty old set of rags they were handed by the little tailor
were, every last one of them, quite simply:
"Marvelous! Stupendous! Magnificent!"
One right after the other one... every person
that entered the tiny shop
immediately seemed to find the 'costumes'
the little tailor pulled out of his dusty old trunk for them
... perfectly suited to them (even though they were all
really nothing but rotted old rags to begin with
--and they certainly didn't get any better afterwards).
"Oh!" the intolerant Mrs. Tremble was quite happy
to go to the fancy-dress ball as an ass
(to put it kindly). At least an ass in her eyes
--although she was not all that far removed from an ass
in the eyes of everyone else.
Bar brawler Mister Kyle, for reasons known only to himself
instantly fell in love with the moldy old costume of
what ages ago must have been a pink bunny
--And so much so that he didn't even go through
with his promise to punch the little tailor a couple of times
(as was his usual greeting to strangers,
friends and foes alike).
Mrs. Conrad HAD to go as a peacock, naturally,
and couldn't get enough of the dusty old rags
that seemed to her the most magnificent imitation of a peacock
she had ever seen.
The librarian made quite a kangaroo
(although she had Peter praying that she wouldn't
try to do any hopping in it, because the flimsy costume
would have surely ripped to shreds,
so thin and ancient was it).
The sheriff preferred to go as a lemming;
while the Mayor went as a fat pitiless mink
(a very small one too).
So it continued until all the citizens of the village
(down to the last man, woman and child) were costumed
to suit themselves perfectly
--exclusively in their own eyes,
since they were all really dressed in dusty old rags
as far as everybody else was concerned
--until the little tailor didn't have one more dusty old set of rags
he could pass for a costume
and there were no more customers waiting for them either.
"And me?" asked Peter. Because
even though he was still in his tailor's helper outfit,
Peter still hoped to go to the fancy-dress ball as 'finely costumed'
as the rest of his neighbors--even if it had to be in the dusty old rags
everybody else thought such fine costumes.
"To you, Peter," said the little tailor: "To you I will give
the costume you are wearing now,
since you have worn it so well.
I also leave you the fool's costume you were wearing
when we first met, for it was the costume you picked for yourself.
And this one!" Saying which he pulled the last dusty set of rags
from the bottom of his apparently empty trunk!
And although old rags they were,
to Peter they seemed like the most beautiful costume
he had ever seen in his life:
The costume of a very high dignitary,
full of shiny bright brass buttons and military sashes and stripes:
"A mayor's costume!" the little tailor explained.
And Peter agreed it was a mayor's costume
if ever he'd seen one (which he never had,
since even the Mayor of Umanitat had never
been able to afford one himself).
"Yes," said the little tailor: "It is the costume of the Mayor
... of your own village: You will need to wear it
once or twice, I dare say
--But wear it only after the citizens of Umanitat ask you to:
If you show up wearing it before then
they'll only think it rags and laugh at you
--since they don't see you as their Mayor yet."
"Oh," said Peter: "They would never--"
"Ask you to be Mayor? We shall see,"
the little tailor interrupted him. And with that,
now his truly empty trunk, the tiny tailor's shop, himself
and all in it
down to the least bit of dust floating in front of Peter's eyes
(excluding Peter himself and his three costumes)
... all vanished in a cloud of dust.
Only the little man's voice stayed behind long enough
to remind Peter: "Always wear the costume that fits you best:
You're the only one in town who has three of them.
And," mysteriously, "let the people of your village know
that they shall have a fool as their Mayor
until they learn the magic of getting themselves
a mayor who is not a fool. Then and only then
can they change their costumes--because until then
they shall each have but a single one to wear!"
"Change their costumes?" Peter asked
the disappearing little tailor's already invisible voice.
But he was answered only by the strange little man's fading laughter
as it all finished vanishing in front of Peter's unseeing eyes
--until it was as if there had never been anything there at all!
The Fancy-Dress Ball.
But what might it matter to all of the finely-costumed
citizens of Umanitat
whether the little tailor had been real or not?
Or how many costumes he thought each of them owned?
Everybody thought the costumes he had made for them
real and good enough to wear to the fancy-dress ball
(even if in their eyes it was only their own costumes, that is,
since each of them thought everyone else there was
wearing dusty old rags, in all truth):
That evening they all showed up at the fancy-dress ball
wearing their finely tattered and dusty old rags,
about which they all laughed roundly
while at the same time boasting of how well they themselves looked
in their own costumes individually.
It made Peter's head spin.
Then there was the terribly obvious exception of Peter:
Just as the little tailor had put it to him,
Peter dared not wear to the fancy-dress ball
the highly overblown costume of mayor
the little tailor had given him
--dusty old rags they might have been
or grand and beautiful costume
(certainly Peter couldn't tell for sure either way,
and wasn't about to have anybody else there tell him).
Instead Peter showed up wearing his usual fool's costume
(and was none-the-less laughed at by all, I dare say
--every last one of them dressed in old rags too
--for they had expected no better of their so-called 'guest of honor').
Then everybody had a grand time at Peter's expense,
formally dedicating the fancy-dress ball in his 'honor'
and making him their special guest
... until it finally got dark:
That's when the costumes everyone thought had looked so 'fine'
and fittingly on themselves
unexpectedly turned back into the dusty old rags
they had really always been--Only now
they looked like dusty old rags even to those wearing them.
And as if that weren't enough,
suddenly everybody also discovered that they had all
been turned into the animals
their costumes had been copies of!
"O, how wonderful," cried Prunella Clark,
finding herself a beaver with a fanciful full tail and all,
even as she was trying to figure out how the little tailor
could have managed to hide such a much better costume
under the cobwebs which were all that were left
of the rags sheerly ripping off her body.
Only, "You are a beaver, my dear!" Her husband Tom,
now an out-and-out cat, tried to explain to her.
"This is not funny," said Marie Morton, now a duck
down to her shivering tail feathers!
"What will people think?"
"What people?" Asked a skunk.
Sure enough, as far as the eye could see
Peter was the only citizen in the whole village
who had remained a human being (although barely,
in the opinion of most, since they still saw him as
not much more than the fool
they had always seen him as).
"Well, I like this," said the peacock:
"What are we to do?"
Then a ferret: "I demand
that the authorities do something immediately!
Where's the Sheriff?
Where's that rascal the Mayor?"
"I am the Mayor," a fat little mink spoke up
--Hardly possible, really. But there you have it.
Some of the other animals refused to believe
that the fat little mink was their Mayor
... no matter how perfectly
his speaking voice sounded like the Mayor's.
"I am the Sheriff," said a lemming next
(a lemming who was gnawing on a turnip
while standing next to the fat little mink).
"This will not do," said the horse: "In my opinion
we need to do a bit of straight thinking about all this!"
But how to do that?
Everybody was all bent out of shape.
"What's to think?" Asked the cow next
in a quite snotty tone: "Obviously
we've all been turned into animals
--Although I must say some of us are
a lot worse-looking animals than the rest (of us)."
Peter's 15 Minutes.
"Suppose we send for that little tailor?"
proposed a bat who was hanging upside-down
from a highly decorated tree:
"It looks to me like he must be at the bottom of all this."
But, "He's gone," Peter had the unenviable task
of informing the mob.
"What do you mean 'gone?'"
A great big outraged pig asked Peter. Who
now had to explain to the animal
(as well as to the rest of the other animals)
that he had seen the little tailor vanish into thin air,
tailor shop, trunk, scissors and all--!
"Such nonsense!" said a finely feathery turkey:
"That's the most ridiculous thing I have ever been told
--Only a fool would believe such a thing!"
"But my dear," said a rooster
standing next to the turkey:
"You miss the whole point--Peter IS a fool."
"Well," said Peter: "All I can tell you is
that the last time I didn't see him
the little tailor told me that the village would
have to have a fool as Mayor
until everybody in it learned the magic by which to
put off their costumes
--and until that time
each of you will have only one,
or so he said."
"Well, what are we going to do now?"
a rabbit wanted to know:
"And how come Peter hasn't been changed
into some kind of an animal like the rest of us?"
A goose wanted to know as well.
"He's probably too stupid already," laughed the mule
(along with several other animals),
"to be turned into a worse animal:
Lack of imagination, you know."
"Well," said Peter: "The little tailor did
give me a costume to wear to the fancy-dress ball.
I just decided against wearing it."
"What sort of animal was it?"
a goat who had once been the tailor Amsel
(of all things) asked then.
"It was a mayor's costume," answered Peter:
"Not any sort of animal you might call a proper animal at all!"
"A mayor's costume!?" they all echoed in shock.
Then they laughed at the very idea of Peter as Mayor:
As a joke, it was funnier than having him as
their fancy-dress ball's guest of honor.
"That would have been quite a spectacle," said
a little green frog: "Peter dressed up like a real mayor
--medals and everything, I suppose!"
"Yes," Peter commented: "It is quite spectacular:
Take a look at it yourselves!"
Saying which he brought out the costume in question.
Only, no matter how splendid it seemed to Peter
... it was, unfortunately, just a pile of dusty old rags
to everybody else.
"Yes," they all agreed, and laughed still more.
However, "We are still... animals," a squirrel pointed out,
making everyone serious again.
"We've noticed," said the skunk, rather testily:
"The problem is what are we going to do about it."
"And talking animals no less!" marvelled a bloodhound
all the time he was trying to get his big floppy ears
out of the way of his mournful eyes.
"People! People! People!" the turkey was suddenly
trying to get everybody's attention:
"The way I see it
--we have a more pressing problem on our hands.
If memory serves me... didn't we invite several guests
from the surrounding villages to join us after dark?
They must be due any minute: Look at the sky!"
"Yes," said the cow: "It's beginning to get dark all right.
What are we going to say to them when they get here
and find that we're a bunch of animals:
They're bound to think we're cursed or something."
"Why don't we tell them there's an epidemic in our village,"
suggested the duck:
"And that they should come back some other day!"
"That's a good idea," the mule told them:
"But has anybody thought about who
is going to actually go and tell them that (or anything else):
Certainly not me--I'm a mule, if you hadn't noticed."
"And," of course: "I am a pig!" said the pig.
"And I a pigeon!" the pigeon said.
"And I a bull!" said the bull.
There were also some slobbering pooches
and a few mongooses there, as well as a handful parakeets,
... and a gopher or two among others:
"I ask you," bemoaned a baboon:
"What manner of curse is this?
What could we possibly have done
to deserve this punishment?"
The fat little mink who had been Village Mayor
up until it got dark
got up (upon his little hind legs) and made a speech:
"Obviously Peter is the only one among us
who can still pass for a human being.
So I put it to you that we will have to send him
out to tell everybody he sees heading our way
that we have an epidemic here
and no one is allowed to come or go until further notice."
"Agreed!" cried the rest of the animals at once.
Yet, "What, oh what," lamented a great big toad:
"What could we've possibly done
to deserve Peter the fool as our keeper!"
Peter The Mayor.
The rat, who, by the way, didn't care much for
the cat standing next to it,
the rat suggested first things first
and second things second:
Said he to the rest: "As everybody now understands
Peter is the only one among us presentable enough
to go out and stop our approaching guests
--and everyone else-- before they wander into us..."
the rat suggested they all swallow their pride
and appoint Peter their temporary Village Mayor
until they came up with a way to
turn themselves back into people.
Although, "He's bound to find a way to bungle the job,"
the frog was willing to bet:
"If there's any possible way to bungle it."
"Nevertheless," the kangaroo insisted:
"It will have to be Peter, otherwise
people will think we're bewitched.
And heaven only knows how they'll react:
You all know how people are!"
"I'll say," the chimpanzee agreed:
"If people from the villages out there find out
that the only creatures living here are animals
they'll be here the next day with axes for the turkeys,
geese, chickens and pigs,
with collars and leashes for the cats and dogs,
milk buckets for the cows,
and harnesses for the bulls, saddles for the horses
--and cages for the rest of us!"
"Heavens!" cried the rabbit:
"It's too horrible to contemplate!"
There was little disagreement
with the fact that the only thing
standing between them and utter doom
was Peter... the fool.
A chicken proposed they stop yacking and go ahead already
with Peter's election as temporary Village Mayor
(until things got back to normal).
Then the chicken wept like no chicken has wept before
... not so much over the villagers from outside Umanitat
coming with sticks, whips, cages, ropes, et cetera,
as over the thought of having a 'fool' as their Mayor,
no matter how temporarily.
No matter: The animals immediately voted
Peter their temporary Village Mayor
with a near-unanimous (and rather beastly) shout of approval
--the vulture voted against it.
Giving him the immediate job of rushing out to
turn back everybody who might be headed their way.
Naturally Peter did as his fellow villagers (now mostly
barn animals, although there were a few wild ones among them),
as his fellow villagers asked
and he immediately headed out
to meet the guests from the nearby villages
who had been invited to the fancy-dress ball
... to tell them that they would have to turn back
because everybody in Umanitat
had come down with an as yet unnamed sickness.
The Village of The Monsters.
"But aren't you yourself from Umanitat?!"
asked him one of the many guests in the first group
on their way to the fancy-dress ball Peter stopped.
Frankly, Peter was forced to concede that indeed he was.
But he was also unexpectedly 'rescued' by another guest
in the same group
who either knew him or knew of him.
That man told the other guests in his party: "You fools!
Don't you know who that is? Peter, their village fool
--He's probably too stupid to know any better
than to be out here spreading that as yet unnamed epidemic,"
(but which from then on would be formally known everywhere
as the Village of Umanitat's Epidemic).
At this point all the horrified guests
who had been heading for Umanitat's fancy-dress ball
screamed in horror and scattered off every whichway
back to their own villages, leaving Peter all by himself
wondering what he was going to do next.
Well, after making sure he turned back every last stranger
once invited to the fancy-dress ball,
Peter went back to his little house inside the Village
... from where all the animals promptly plucked him
and sent him back out of their village again
charged with the (rather more permanent) job
(at least until everybody turned back into people)
of stopping everybody headed for the village
and turning them away
no matter how long he had to stay out there doing so.
It was a job Peter agreed to work at for his fellow villagers
not only because he was such a nice person,
but also because he already spent most of his time in the forest
surrounding the little village anyway.
Besides, for some reason or another,
being around all those talking animals unnerved the poor fellow
so much that it even made him question his own sanity
(so it was a good decision for all concerned,
including Peter himself).
In no time the word was out over that whole region of the country
that everyone in Umanitat had come down with
their own personal mysterious epidemic
--Which, if nothing else, certainly made Peter's job
of turning people away from the village easier
... because back in those days (before modern doctors)
nobody wanted to have anything to do with
anyone playing host to an epidemic.
With time things even got back to a kind of crazy normality
in the Village of Umanitat:
Life continued as it always had (well, mostly)
... outside of the fact that now everyone was
an animal instead of a person.
But the schools reopened for the little ducks and lambs,
and cows sold their milk, birds weaved their wares;
cats got new jobs ridding houses of mice
--except for the mouse's house...
At least the outside world left the strange new inhabitants
of Umanitat pretty much in peace to carry on their lives
as they saw fit to do so... in some measure thanks to Peter,
who never allowed even the most curious neighbor
from the surrounding countryside
to come close enough to the village to get a peek at
all the crazy stuff which was now taking place in it.
For his part, Peter himself stayed away
from the village proper most of the time
--something which was just fine with the animals of Umanitat,
because if there was one thing that remained the same about them
it was their opinion that Peter was a fool who
would never amount to anything,
and they all felt it was a waste of time even talking to such a person
(even if he was the last person still a person they could talk to).
Then a strange thing happened,
as is usually the case in strange cases like these:
No matter how much time went by
none of the animals in Umanitat ever grew any older
--Not by so much as an hour in a year:
All the little baby ducks and lambs
remained little baby ducks and lambs
no matter how much time went by,
and had to keep repeating their grades.
The dogs and cats which normally each lived
only seventeen years or so
lived on and on instead like they would never die at all
--while now talking things out between themselves
instead of barking and scratching at each other!
Stranger still was that Peter himself shared that same strange fate
with the rest of his fellow villagers (animals as they all were now):
He too remained as young as he had been
on the day of the grand fancy-dress ball the villagers had
staged in his 'honor' ... soon many, many years past.
With so much time on his hands now,
Peter decided to build a small cabin for himself
out in the forest outside the village,
and in it he made quite a cozy life for himself across the years
... ever unchanged since the day his fellow citizens had
been turned into animals by the strange little tailor
--Whom no one ever saw or heard from again
no matter how long and hard every last animal of them
tried to find him.
With the passing of the years,
the world itself around the talking animals of Umanitat
even as it lost touch with the never again visited little village.
After a few years all the memories of a village
peopled with real people called Umanitat
once existing within the forest
began to fade away from the minds of everyone
outside the little village (with the exception of Peter).
And dark legends began to grow in their place:
Legends that spoke about a place beyond the little cabin of
a certain forest hermit (whom few people from the outside ever saw
and fewer still ever talked with):
An enchanted place peopled with... monsters!
Naturally, children who liked to fib
(and others not so young who also went in for fibbing)
were soon telling how they had actually been
to the enchanted place deep in the forest
and seen two-, three-, and even four-headed monsters
roasting and eating people
like people themselves eat chickens and ducks.
Good sensible folks laughed at such tall tales.
But, unfortunately, for every good and sensible person in the world
there were many others who were neither as good nor as sensible.
So the dark legends of mysterious man-eating monsters
living beyond the cabin of the fabled forest hermit Peter had become
not only persisted but continued to grow worse
and worse with the passing of years.
Finally there came a time when people were not only
scared to death to even mention the terrible place
but even got into the habit of trying to scare their children
into behaving themselves... by hinting that
the 'Village of The Monsters' was where bad children ended up
(even as they added more and more terrible details still
about the former Village of Humanitat).
Naturally, when those children themselves grew up
(believing every silly thing they had been told)
not only did they also retell the terrible tale to their own children
but, to make them behave, they too made up
a few sillier details on top of it
to make the place sound even worse.
Thus the legends mounted upon each other,
until after a few generations
not only was the whole world around the Village of Umanitat
convinced that there was indeed a place deep in the forest
which was teeming with horrific monsters,
but that Peter (whom they almost never saw or spoke with),
that Peter was the powerful wizard who owned and controlled them,
and who kept those 'man-eating monsters' of his
from running loose all over the place
and eating up everyone!
The Mayors' Meeting.
Thus it could only be a matter of time before
the citizens of all the villages around Umanitat
came together in a great meeting
to discuss what they might be able to do about
having to live with a place full of monsters in their midst:
"What if the monsters break loose
and come after us?" cried all.
Most were of the opinion that 'somebody' should
go into the forest immediately to hunt down every monster in it
until they were all dead (the monsters, that is).
"Well," the Mayor of one of the villages spoke
(for the mayors were normally regarded as the wisest
of the villages' citizens, and
they were the only ones permitted to speak):
"Why don't we go and ask the wise and powerful wizard
who lives in the forest outside the Village of The Monsters
to just get rid of them for us (after all, he is, as we've all been told,
the all-powerful keeper of these terrible beasts)?"
"Just like that?" another Mayor from another village
commented sarcastically (this particular Mayor
was known to be quite a cynic).
Said the most democratic Mayor there at that,
"I suppose we'll have to pass a law or two first
(against keeping monsters, stuff like that).
Then we'll put it up to a vote..."
"We'll be dead and eaten by the time we finished talking
about it," said the youngest Mayor.
"Why should the wise and powerful keeper of the monsters
get rid of them for us?" asked the Mayor who
always liked to look on both sides of every issue:
"After all, they're his monsters.
Maybe even his dearly beloved pets--"
"Yes," the oldest Mayor then told everyone:
"If it were in his interest to get rid of them,
it seems to me that he would have done so long before now.
Yet I remember my grandfather telling me about
the Village of The Monsters
when I was a child. And that was
... quite a number of years ago."
"I agree," agreed the most pro-law-and-order Mayor there:
"In fact, he may be the very person
who is going all over the countryside kidnapping people
to feed to the monsters."
"Funny," said the dullest Mayor of them all:
"I don't recall ever having heard of anybody having been kidnapped
and dragged off to be fed to monsters."
"All that's besides the point," the Mayor with the most
get-up-and-go among them said next: "The point is
that I'm not going to go out into the forest to
speak to a wizard as powerful and horrible as that one!"
"Neither am I," said the most liberal Mayor:
"If he's going to kidnap me to feed me to his monsters
that wizard is going to have to come to my house,
break down my door, and drag me away screaming
and hollering every last inch of the way
--Because that's where I'm headed this minute!"
"Me too," added the most conservative Mayor.
And, "Me three," said a third Mayor.
"Me four," said a fourth Mayor still
... and so forth until all of the mayors,
and everyone else attending the big anti-monsters rally
immediately ran home to their villages and into their houses,
quickly shutting and locking their windows and doors behind them
... to protect themselves and their families as best they could
from the terrible blood-thirsty wizard who
everybody had convinced themselves
was going around kidnapping people to feed to his monsters.
Emma Does And The Great Wizard.
Well, everybody ran home, that is, except Emma Does
... who was not only a brave young lady
but a good and sensible one as well:
Hearing so much talk being backed up with so little action
Emma Does made up her mind
that people had probably been spreading not much more than lies
about this so-called 'village of monsters.'
And that she herself was going to go out there
and find out once and for all
whether there was any truth at all to any of the lies.
To that end Emma Does bravely packed
a big hefty lunch for herself
and boldly headed out into the forest
which grew around the hidden Village of The Monsters,
walking with determination in the general direction people said
the strange village was located--all by herself.
On and on went Emma Does
past the last house on the last open meadow
and then on into the eerie forest
at whose heart lay the Village of The Monsters.
Only, the thing that happened to Emma Does first of all
once she entered the forest
which had grown thick and ancient around Umanitat,
was... that she ran right smack into the so-called 'wizard'
whom everybody supposed was in charge
of keeping an eye on all those monsters of his--
"Hello!" said the startled but delighted Peter.
(Quite a sight he was too, even in his fool's costume
--which Emma Does took to be the colorful costume of
every wise and powerful wizard
... added to which his great uncombed hair blowing in the wind
like a thousand lit wicks, and his flaming red eyes
--Well, I exaggerate a bit.)
Emma Does was very impressed with the young man,
especially with how young and handsome he was
--The legends always spoke about a wizened old wizard
(but apparently they too had exaggerated some).
But then, "You must return to wherever you came from,"
the wise and powerful keeper of all those monsters
told Emma Does: "No one's allowed to go beyond this point,"
(which was practically at the door of Peter's small cabin
in the woods, where the wonderful scents
of Peter's frying some fish he'd just caught
had brought Emma Does).
"Why is that?" Emma Does wanted to know:
"I'll have you know I am on my way to
the Village of The Monsters!"
Realizing that the young lady was talking about Umanitat
and not caring to hear his village talked about
in such an awful manner
... Peter immediately stood up for his home village
--being the citizen in good standing he was.
He told the young lady (who by then
was trying out some of his fried fish):
"I will have you know that the people of Umanitat are
as good a bunch of people as everyone else."
"Umanitat, eh?" asked Emma Does,
complimenting Peter on his fish-frying ability
... "In that case, let's go take a look at
this good bunch of people you're so proud of."
That... was the problem right there,
as far as Peter was concerned,
because even after all these years
Peter perfectly knew there were nothing but barn animals (mostly)
living back in the actual Village of Umanitat--
The whole point of his being out there
trying to get Emma Does to go back wherever she came from
was precisely because practically the only reason he was out there at all
was to prevent anyone from the outside world finding out
about the poor, helpless animals
that now lived in the Village of Umanitat.
"Who are you, anyway?"
Emma Does came right out and asked the young man
who, quite annoyingly, kept blocking her way.
And, suddenly, after so many years of being pretty sure he knew
exactly whom he was
--now Peter was no longer all that certain.
Maybe it was the years he had spent out there in the forest
loyally standing guard for his fellow villagers.
Although those years had been magic ones,
and magic years don't have much effect on those who live them
(that fish Peter was frying, for example, was the first meal
Peter had thought to prepare since he had moved out into the forest,
for this was the first time in all that time
that he had actually felt hungry).
Most probably it was simply that the young lady
whose path he was trying to block... seemed so attractive to him.
Whatever the reason, however: "Peter is my name,"
he managed to remember just then:
"You will have to take my word
about exactly how good a people the people of my village are
because there is a well-known epidemic running loose in it,
and nobody's allowed to visit there."
"An epidemic?!" marvelled Emma Does, puzzled:
"Why haven't you sent for doctors?
What are the symptoms? And especially," she told Peter,
trying to push her way past him: "What are you doing to
keep it from spreading to all the other villages?"
All very fine questions... which, quite unfortunately,
Peter had absolutely no answer for
right off the top of his head like that.
In place of any explanations Peter mumbled a few words
about feathers and hooves, about long fly-swatting tails
and other strange items... which he remembered seeing
on the poor villagers all those years ago (frankly,
even if the years had been magical, it was a long time
since he himself had been inside the village
and talked with any of its... talking animals).
"This can only be settled one way,"
proposed the brave and bold Emma Does:
"We must push on ahead--both of us,"
yet trying to move Peter out of her way:
"We must push on ahead to the actual village you are talking about
so we can see for ourselves
exactly what sort of epidemic is on the loose there."
"Oh!" Peter tried to prevent the strong-willed young lady from
carrying out her plan, but it was useless
trying to stop Emma Does once she got underway:
The very determined young lady took out her big hefty lunch
and bravely took a bite out of one of her sandwiches
(after which she kindly offered another one of her sandwiches
to Peter, who gratefully accepted it... since,
not having eaten much in all the magic years he'd been
the temporary Mayor of his little village
outside of a piece of a fried fish just now
... he was very hungry).
It was quite a fresh sandwich, and tasted quite good:
His mouth filled, and his mind half-empty
by the sight of the brilliant Emma Does,
Peter was left utterly helpless
to try to stand in the way of the determined young lady.
Soon the two of them took off, walking, eating
and mumbling ... on their way
to the so-called Village of The Monsters.
"It's really quite a nice little place, you know,"
Peter reluctantly went along with the beautiful Emma Does:
"There are parks and rivers, and beautiful shade trees
over each little house. We have white-framed windows,
and practically every house is decorated with its own garden,
"We are there!" Emma Does suddenly announced.
"Oh dear," bemoaned Peter,
not really knowing what he was going to say
to his boldly walking, eating and mumbling companion
once she got a load of all the talking animals in his village.
Inside the little village, "Peter!"
A familiar voice suddenly came from somewhere:
"Hey, look, everybody! Peter's come back!"
"That goat just called to you," commented Emma Does
--coolly impressed with a wizard
wise enough to teach goats to talk.
"Don't you remember me?" the goat asked Peter.
To which, "No," he answered:
"Not off the top of my head--"
"I am Amsel the tailor," said the goat proudly:
"Or, rather, I should say I was
--Although even after all the years
it still seems like only yesterday
that we were all turned into animals!"
"You turned all these people into animals!?"
Emma Does chided Peter, outraged
that the wizard she believed to be so wise
should also turn out to be such a wickedness-working wizard.
"No," Peter protested: "It wasn't me:
It was a little tailor I worked for
--He was the one who changed them into animals
(for some reason or another
none of us have ever understood)."
"And left Peter, of all people,"
a big red hen then pointed out to Emma Does,
"the same way he always was."
"You mean Peter was always the wise and powerful wizard
he now is?" Emma Does asked the gathering animals of Umanitat.
"Not exactly--" a hamster attempted to explain.
"But we won't go into that," added a beaver.
"Yes," said an ostrich (which was shyly hiding behind a tree):
"We wouldn't want Peter's friend
to get the wrong idea about the boy."
"After all," commented a very courteous flamingo:
"She is a stranger. And the boy has been living by himself out there
in the forest outside our... village
standing guard for us all these years, protecting us,
shielding us from who knows what--"
"Don't think we're not grateful to you Peter,"
added an iguana, sticking out its tongue:
"We've been thinking about you all this time."
"You have?" Peter marvelled, a little taken aback
by the marvelous welcome he was receiving after all these years
(after all, he had always expected his neighbors to resent
the fact that he was not turned into an animal
like the rest of them).
But, "Yes," a red-headed woodpecker spoke then:
"And mostly we've been thinking about
how wrong we were about you--"
"All those years of standing guard out there for us!"
wept a chicken, quite touched with Peter's loyalty
to his fellow villagers. (And even if they were magic years.)
"So grateful are we, in fact," said an otter next,
"that if this young lady Peter has brought all the way here to meet us
wishes us to treat Peter as a wise and powerful wizard
(for reasons known only to herself)... we will."
Then the otter asked the other animals: "What say you to it?"
"We all agree!" cried the animals at once in complete agreement:
"Long live Peter the wise and powerful wizard of Umanitat!"
"Furthermore," said the little fat mink who himself used to be Mayor
of Umanitat: "Furthermore, I propose that in order to show Peter
how sorry we are about the way we treated him in the past
... I propose that we immediately elect him to be our permanent Mayor--"
To which the animals also agreed.
Including even the vulture (who, by the way,
was then the first to sound the alarm about a great big angry mob
of people who seemed to be headed straight for their little village):
"Heavens!" sang a tiny cricket: "What could it mean?"
The Angry Mob.
"I'm afraid it probably means that
they think your wise and powerful wizard Peter has kidnapped me
and intends to feed me to his monsters,"
said Emma Does apologetically.
"What monsters?" the racoon wanted to know.
And, "What wise and--?"
"Save us, Peter!" the anteater interrupted the racoon,
pleading: "If they find out we're animals
there's no telling what might happen!"
"Is that true?" Peter asked Emma Does
(whose friends and neighbors these were, after all,
angrily rushing towards the Village of Umanitat):
And Emma Does had to admit that at times it was
difficult to predict exactly how an angry mob
like that one might behave.
"There is no telling what they might do, really!" she said.
And everybody agreed that bursting in on a bunch of talking barn animals
(mostly) was about as tricky a situation
as a mob of angry people was ever likely to get itself into.
"What monsters?" the racoon still wanted to know.
"I'll explain it later," said the village's new permanent Mayor Peter:
"Right now I have to go out there and stop that mob of people
from coming in here and discovering that
you're all a bunch of animals!"
Said Emma Does: "Let me help--I feel as if it's my fault,"
(which the vulture pointed out it was): "Besides,
they're my neighbors, friends and family
--They might listen to me!"
"Let's go then!" said Peter.
And he was about to get going
when a horse got in his way.
"We can't let you go out there dressed like a fool,"
the horse said to Peter:
"They already think you're the evil wizard who's behind it all."
"That's right," Emma Does agreed: "Why,
they'll kill you before you can say a word."
"Not," said Peter: "Not if I go out there as the Mayor
I now am." Saying which Peter brought out the costume of mayor
the little tailor had left for him and put it on.
"My," said an admiring loon: "It fits him so well!"
"Yes," a ferret added: "Now he really looks every bit our Mayor,"
for, whether it was because the costume
was no longer a bunch of old dusty rags,
or that the animals of the village simply wanted so much
for it to be the best mayor's costume ever,
everyone there (including Emma Does) now saw it
as the magnificent mayor's costume
that Peter himself had always seen it as:
"I think those people will listen to him now!" said a fish
who stuck his head out of the water long enough to say this.
"I knew Peter wouldn't let us down," said the vulture.
"Don't worry," added Peter: "I won't let them harm you!"
And that's when the great big angry mob of people
broke into the Village of Umanitat waving sticks in the air
and shouting threats at the wizard as well as to all the monsters
(they no doubt expected to have to fight it out with to the end
the minute they got there).
Only, "Why," said Emma Does's father:
"There are no monsters here! Just barn animals (mostly)."
Words which surprised Peter so much
that he immediately turned around--and then almost fell back
as soon as he discovered that instead of the mob of angry people
he was expecting to see before him
... he was instead staring straight into
a mob of angry barn animals (mostly)...!
Rubbing his eyes Peter quickly turned around
to the citizens of Umanitat
--But they were all still animals down to the peacock and the duck!
Emma Does was still a human being, thank Heavens. In fact,
he and Emma seemed to be the only two human beings
in the entire place!
Even Emma Does's father was now an angry little squirrel
(while her mother was a tiny parakeet):
"This is extraordinary," said the tiny parakeet
that moments before the angry mob of Emma Does' friends, family
and neighbors had burst their way into the village
had been Emma Does's mother.
"I demand an explanation!" said the angry little squirrel
that moments before had been Emma Does's father: "I mean,
look at your mother and me
--We're not even in the same species!"
Human Beings Again!
"Oh no," explained the fat little mink
who had once been the Mayor of Umanitat:
"We're all people all right--every one of us,
and not simply Peter and this young lady."
"Now how do you figure that?" asked the big red hen
of the fat little mink. "Look at us!"
"Oh, I know we look like animals," the fat little mink replied:
"The problem all along has been that we just
haven't been behaving like the people we're supposed to be
--Now have we!? Look at all those other animals
who just arrived in our little village:
You can see the same thing happening to them
right in front of your eyes!"
And having finished saying that,
suddenly the fat little mink began to grow and grow
... and soon he had turned back into a human person!
He was quickly followed in this by the racoon,
then the turkey, the horse after that,
and then the goat which had once been Amsel the tailor
and was suddenly Amsel the tailor again.
"Oh dear," said Emma Does:
"Now that the citizens of Umanitat are turning back into people,
what's going to happen to my neighbors and family?
I can't have a squirrel for a father--"
"Don't forget me, dear," sang the parakeet that had
once been Emma Does's mother.
"Yes," said Emma Does: "She too."
"This is the work of that little tailor," conjectured the vulture,
not yet quite ready to turn human again.
"Indeed," said then the squirrel that used to be Emma Does's father
excitedly: "It was a tiny little stranger who told us
our daughter was about to be fed to the wizard's monsters..."
"No," said Peter at that: "I don't think the little tailor ever
had all that much to do with it:
Look, I am the only one here wearing one of his costumes
and yet some of you are turning yourselves back into persons
while a lot many more of you have turned yourselves into animals
--without any help from anyone or anything."
"You mean it's all in our heads?" asked the pig.
"Whether in our heads or our skin and bones,"
Peter told him: "It's more a thing in us than upon us."
"I agree," said Emma Does: "Mother, Father,
listen to this wise young wizard:
"You were both human beings just now
--What made you turn into animals so suddenly?"
"Why," said the tiny parakeet that had once been Emma Does's mother,
thinking about this: "It was you, dear:
The thought that you had been kidnapped by this evil wizard
and brought here to be fed to his monsters
--That's the last time I remember any of us being human beings."
"Yes," agreed Emma Does's father
(while yet remaining very much a squirrel):
"Next thing we knew after that we were all a bunch of animals."
"And you," Peter asked Amsel the tailor (now fully human again):
"By what magic did you turn back into a human being?"
"Apparently by the same magic that kept you human
all these years, Peter," explained Amsel the tailor:
"I have come to my senses at last.
You apparently never lost yours."
"You mean," asked a chicken
that was slowly beginning to turn back into a person:
"You mean that we were the ones who were the fools all this time
and not Peter!?"
At once, as if in answer to the chicken,
almost every citizen of Umanitat
began to turn back into human beings again.
Even a few of the animals among the angry mob of strangers
who had with so much hatred in their hearts burst violently into
the village--even a few of them also began turning back into people.
It took them longer to get the hang of the magic of being human
(again) than it did for the citizens of Umanitat,
who had had a lot more time to think about
how to learn to behave like people again.
Still, soon even Emma Does's parents were again human
enough to give their blessing to their daughter's plan to marry
the brand new powerful and wise young Mayor of Umanitat
--For there was no doubt now in anyone's mind
that Peter could not have been better suited for Mayor
than had he been tailored specifically for the job.
So it continued for some time afterwards
(animals turning back into people right and left)
until practically every last villager of Umanitat
(as well as their 'guests' from outside it) had learned
the magic of behaving like proper people
and thus nearly ceased being animals... all of it
in time to attend the grand celebration given
in honor of Peter's wedding to Emma Does.
Well, practically everyone learned the magic right away,
for it was true that neighbor George Bobal
remained quite a mule a lot longer than he needed to
... after everyone else had made up their minds
to be human again.