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The Wingless Angel

Chester was not really a bad angel. It's just that he was a little naughty sometimes. Once he locked the Gates of Heaven and hid the key. All the new people were stuck outside for a whole day. And then there was the time he loosened all the strings on the harps.

But one day Chester was so naughty that he lost his wings. They would not stay on him, no matter how he tried.

He was very unhappy. For days he moped around in the clouds, dragging his fallen wings behind him.

Finally They said he could have his wings back if he proved that he really deserved them. He was to bring back a tear from each of ten children who were unhappy. And he had to bring back a laugh from each of the very same children.

Chester looked down at the Earth below, wondering where he should start. He looked and looked. Down in the land of Sri Lanka, sitting in a field in the hot sun, a little boy was crying.

In a wink, Chester was beside him. He leaned over and caught a tear in a tiny crystal bottle. The boy looked up, startled.

"Who are you?"

"I'm an angel," said Chester. "See my wings?"

"Why aren't they on your back?" the boy asked.

Chester was too embarrassed to answer, so he quickly asked, "Why were you crying?"

"I am hungry," said the boy. "And my mother and father and sisters are hungry, too. We have had nothing to eat since yesterday."

"Why don't you buy some food?" asked Chester.

"We have no money, and my father has no job." The boy began to cry again.

Chester thought. He already had a tear, but he would have to find some way to get food for the boy's family before the boy would ever be happy enough to laugh. He remembered that They would allow him to work one miracle for each child. He got an idea.

"Look," he said to the boy. He waved his arm, and the empty field was suddenly filled with a towering mountain of rice.

The boy gasped. "There is enough rice here for us to eat for a whole year. There is enough for the whole village. There is even enough for us to sell to the other villages. We will all be rich!"

The boy raced off to tell his parents and bring them to see the mountain of rice. Chester sat down on a pile of rice and pulled out a little bag. He wanted to be ready to catch the boy's laugh when he came back.

Suddenly a dark cloud passed overhead. Then another and another. Thunder rumbled and lightning crackled. And a torrent of rain came down. All the rice was washed away into the river.

After the rainstorm, when the boy and his parents arrived at the field, all the rice was gone. The boy's parents left, warning him not to make up such foolish tales again. The boy began to cry even harder than before.

What was Chester to do? He had used up his miracle, and he still did not have a laugh.

"Maybe They won't notice," he thought, "if I try the same miracle over again." So he waved his arm again -- and a little mound of rice appeared at his feet.

Chester sighed. "Well, maybe that will last you for a few days," he said.

"Or even a week or two, if we're careful," said the boy, scooping up every grain of rice into the sack he had brought with him. "But what will we do then?"

Chester walked back and forth, thinking. He kicked a pebble with his foot. Suddenly he got another idea.

In a wink, Chester was in New York City, in the office of a large boys' magazine. No one could see him, but he was able to whisper into the mind of the editor.

The next issue of the magazine carried an ad telling the readers to send a quarter and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to a boy in Sri Lanka, to get a genuine Sri Lankan stone.

The next week there was a flood of mail for the boy in Sri Lanka. Chester translated the letters for him. All the boys and girls in the village gathered pebbles to pack into the envelopes.

Now there was enough money to buy food for everyone.

The boy scooped up two handfuls of quarters from the pile of money and threw them up into the air and laughed and laughed.

Chester quickly caught one of the laughs in his little bag. He looked up to the clouds above and smiled.


©1972, 2013 The Silversteins