The Drum is a story from More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. It is about two young girls who are promised a drum if they behave badly. This story is based on an old folktale called "The Pear Drum".
Once there were two sisters. Dolores was seven, and Sandra was five. They lived in a small house in the country with their mother and baby brother, Arthur. Their father was a seaman and was away on a long voyage.
One day Dolores and Sandra were running across a field near their house when they met a gypsy girl playing a drum. Her family was camping in the field for a few days.
As the girl played, a little mechanical man and woman came out of the drum and danced. Dolores and Sandra had never seen such a drum, and they begged the girl to give it to them. She looked at them and laughed. "I will give it to you," she said, "but only if you are really bad. Come back tomorrow and tell me how bad you were, and I will see."
As soon as the two sisters got home, they started shouting, which was against the rules in their house. Then they wrote all over the walls with their crayons. As supper, they spilled their food. And when it was time for bed, they wouldn't go. They did everything they could think of to upset their mother. They were really bad.
Early the next morning, they hurried off to find the gypsy girl. "We were really bad yesterday," they told her, "so please give us the drum." But when they told her what they had done, the gypsy girl laughed. "Oh, you must be much worse than that if I am to give you the drum," she said.
As soon as Dolores and Sandra got home, they pulled up all the flowers in the garden. They let the pig out, and chased it away. They tore their clothes. They sloshed in the mud. They were a lot worse than the day before. "If you do not stop," their mother said, "I will go away and take Arthur with me. And you will get a new mother with glass eyes and a wooden tail."
That scared Dolores and Sandra. They loved their mother, and they loved Arthur. They could not imagine being without them, and they began to cry. "I don't want to leave you," their mother said. "But unless you change your behavior, I will have to leave you."
"We'll be good," the girls promised. Yet they did not really believe that their mother would go away. "She is just trying to scare us," Dolores said later. "We'll get the drum tomorrow," said Sandra. "Then we'll be good again".
Early the next morning, they rushed off to find the gypsy girl. When they found her, she was playing the drum again, and the little man and woman were dancing. They told the gypsy girl how bad they had been the day before. "That must be bad enough to get the drum," they said. "Oh, no," said the gypsy girl. "You must be much worse than that." "But we promised our mother to be good from now on," said the girls. "If you really want the drum," said the gypsy girl, "you must be much worse." "It's only for one more day," Dolores told Sandra. "Then we will have the drum." "I hope you're right," Sandra said.
As soon as they got home, they beat the dog with a stick. They broke the dishes. They tore their clothes to pieces. They spanked their baby brother Arthur. Their mother began to cry. "You are not keeping your promise," she said. "We will be good," Said Dolores. "We promise," said Sandra. "I can't wait much longer," said their mother. "Please try."
Early the next morning, before their mother was awake, Dolores and Sandra ran to see the gypsy girl. They told her all about the bad things they had done the day before. "We were horrid," said Sandra. "We were worse than we have ever been," said Dolores. "Can we have the drum now, please?"
"No," said the gypsy girl. "I never meant to give it to you. It was just a game we were playing. I thought you knew that."
Dolores and Sandra began to cry. They rushed home as quickly as they could. But their mother and Arthur were gone. "They are out shopping," said Dolores. "They'll be back soon." But they were still not back when the time for lunch came. Dolores and Sandra felt lonely and scared. They wandered through the fields the rest of the day. "Maybe they will be home when we get back." said Dolores.
When they god home, they saw through the window that the lamps were lit, and there was a fire in the fireplace. But they did not see their mother and Arthur. Instead, there was their new mother-her glass eyes glistening, her wooden tail thumping on the floor.
- The illustration for The Drum is also on the cover of the book More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.