by John Pilling
Joe Ellis was generally a well behaved little boy but he had a terrible habit of picking up things that didn’t belong to him, if he saw something lying about, into his pocket it would go.
“But I only borrowed it.” Joe would say when his parents got annoyed.
“One of these days you’re going to get into trouble with your borrowing.” They said, and Joe would promise not to do it again. But he couldn’t help himself and within a day or two he was just as bad.
One day, Joe came home from school looking very pleased.
“James has invited me to his birthday party tomorrow.” He told his mum excitedly. “There’s going to be a magician.”
Joe loved magicians, he always sat at the front and watched as closely as he could.
The magician at the party was called “Mr Whizzo” he had a silver wand and when he waved it and said the magic words “Abracadabra” all sorts of incredible things happened. A rabbit appeared in his hat, his handkerchief turned into a white bird and perched on his head, things disappeared and then magically reappeared, he even made three sticks dance. He was the best wizard Joe had ever seen and he thought he would give anything to have a go at using the wand himself.
At the end of the show the wizard placed the wand carefully into a little wooden box before offering to answer questions and as the children crowded round Joe saw his chance and slipped the box into his pocket. He just couldn’t wait to try the wand for himself.
Back home in his bedroom, he was about to wave it when to his amazement a little face appeared on the side of the wand and a squeaky voice said.
“Here, who are you? Where’s Mr Whizzo?”
Joe was so flustered at the wand talking to him, he didn’t know what to say.
“I…..I don’t know” he stuttered at last.
“You don’t know?” the wand said suspiciously.
“Well why am I with you? Have you stolen me?”
“Certainly not,” said Joe, turning red. “I borrowed you.”
“Borrowed?” the wand said. “Mr Whizzo lent me to you, did he?”
“Not exactly” said Joe turning even redder.
“I knew it.” The wand said, “You’re a nasty little thief, and just how do you think poor Mr Whizzo is going to manage without me? He’s only got a young apprentice wand that we’re training, he’ll get all the tricks wrong and what will happen then?”
“I’m really am very sorry…” Joe started to say when the wand interrupted him.
“You will be.” It said nastily, “I know just the spell for people like you.” And with that the little face disappeared leaving Joe very worried indeed.
The trouble started just after he arrived at school the following day. He noticed a mobile phone left in the cloakroom and had just slipped it into his pocket when he heard himself shout.
“Oh look everyone, I’ve just stolen a mobile phone. What a nasty little thief I am.” The other children looked at him in great surprise, then one said.
“I left my phone there Joe, why did you take it?”
“I was only borrowing it,” Joe said, going red and pulling the phone from his pocket. “I was going to give it back.” Joe felt dreadful and even worse when he saw the other children whispering to each other and looking at him. All morning he tried to be very careful but at lunch time he couldn’t resist picking up a ten pence coin he saw on the floor. To his horror he heard himself shouting again.
“Oh look everyone, I’ve just put a tenpenny piece in my pocket. What a nasty little thief I am.” After that, nobody would speak to him or sit next to him. He was glad when lunchtime ended but then, as he passed the teachers desk, he heard himself shout out again.
“Oh look everyone, I was just thinking of picking up something off teachers desk, what a nasty little thief I am.”
Miss Burn, the teacher, was very annoyed.
“Joe Ellis, whatever do you think you are doing shouting like that?”
“I’m sorry Miss,” Joe said miserably, “it’s not me, it’s the wand making me.”
“The magician’s wand I borrowed…” Miss Burn, her face going pink, interrupted him.
“How dare you tell me silly stories Joe Ellis, go back to your seat at once, if I hear another word I shall tell your parents. Poor Joe went back to his seat and sat with his hands in his pockets until school was over and he could run home. The wand was leaning against its box looking pleased with itself.
“Hello Joe,” it said. “Enjoy your day, did you?”
“It’s been horrible,” cried Joe. “Nobody likes me any more, please take the spell off me, I’m sorry for taking you.”
“Learned your lesson, have you?” said the wand. “Are you sure?”
“Oh yes.” Said Joe, “I promise I will never, ever borrow anything again.”
“Well you know what will happen if you do…right, I’d best be getting back to Mr Whizzo.”
“How can you do that?” Joe said. “I don’t know where he is.”
The wand sniffed impatiently.
“Really Joe, I am magic you know.” And he disappeared in a puff of white smoke.