14th July

Jack and the Wizard

‘The clock’s broken,’ said Jack’s mother. ‘Take it tae Hugh the clockmaker tae get it mended. Here’s some money.’

The clockmaker was also a wizard. He drew a chalk circle on the floor round Jack’s feet. ‘Just you stay in there, Jack,’ he says, ‘while I look at the clock.’ And he starts fiddling with the mechanism.

Well, first of all he makes the hands go backwards, very fast. While Jack is watching this he feels like he’s shrinking, and then he looks down at his feet and he is shrinking, and when he cries out in terror his voice is like a wee laddie’s, and he begins to greet like a bairn and that’s because he’s become a bairn. Next, Hugh makes the hands go forward, and Jack grows back to how he was before, but then he feels his joints stiffening and sees his skin wrinkling, and when he cries out again it’s in a croaky old voice, and he’s so terrified that he loses his balance and staggers out of the chalk circle.

‘Now ye’ve done it,’ says Hugh. ‘If I canna fix this clock, ye’ll be stuck like that for ever.’

He works away at the clock for ages. ‘Right,’ he says at last, ‘when I say “Jump!” you jump back intae the circle, and before ye land I’ll gie the balance a wee push and let’s hope it keeps tickin. Ready? Jump!’ So Jack jumps back into the circle, and the clock keeps ticking, and Hugh sets the hands to the right time and Jack is restored to his original self, to his great relief.

‘Och, that’s the best bit of fun I’ve had in ages,’ Hugh says. ‘Now, did ye bring ony money?’

‘Aye,’ says Jack, ‘but it was cruel, whit ye did, and I’m awa tae tell ma mither aboot it.’

‘Now,’ says Hugh, ‘dinna be sae hasty. Here’s a receipt for yer mither, but you keep the money and if you don’t tell her aboot it then nor will I.’

So Jack took the clock home, with the receipt in one pocket and the money in another, amazed that even a wizard was feart of his mother.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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