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Mersina's Revenge

"Definitely not," said Mersina's mother, folding a long black cloak into her suitcase. "You are much too young to go to a witches' convention. Now stop sniffling. I'll only be gone till tonight."

At a wave of her hand, the suitcase snapped shut and then shrank down to the size of a walnut. Popping it into her pocketbook, Mersina's mother snapped her fingers for her broom and opened the window.

"Now remember," she called as she sailed out, "be sure to take your nap this afternoon, and don't get into any mischief while I'm gone. I don't want any more trouble with door-to-door salesmen."

At that Mr. Bauldron, the cat, jumped up and hissed, arching his back. Mersina gazed at him unhappily. "I'm sorry, Mr. Bauldron," she sighed. "I know it wasn't your fault that you were the fifth salesman to ring our bell that day when I was trying to take a nap. And I'm trying hard to think up another spell to change you back, really I am."

She reached down to scratch Mr. Bauldron's head, and the cat began to purr. "Come on," said Mersina, "Let's get some lunch."

With a snap of her fingers, the refrigerator door opened, and a head of lettuce, a bag of carrots, and a bowl of cottage cheese sailed out. Mersina put the carrots in front of Mr. Bauldron, who let out a surprised Meow.

"Oh," she giggled, "you forgot your napkin." And with a wave of the napkin, the carrots turned into little fish, and the lettuce and cottage cheese turned into a chocolate layer cake and a big bowl of ice cream.

After lunch, Mersina lay down for her nap. But just as she closed her eyes, the air was filled with a terrible blaring sound. Mersina buried her head under the pillow, and Mr. Bauldron curled himself into a tight ball, covering his ears with his long black tail. But the noise was everywhere.

"Oh, no!" Mersina exclaimed. "Jimmy is practicing his trumpet again!" She hopped out of bed. "I know just the spell to fix him," she giggled.

Mr. Bauldron shook his head warningly. But then another blast from the trumpet sent him curling into a tight little ball again.

"Come on, Mr. Bauldron," Mersina called. "Come and see the fun."

On her way out of the house, Mersina picked up a pencil from her mother's desk. Then, followed by her cat, Mr. Bauldron, she hurried down the street. She stopped across from Jimmy's house and ducked down behind some bushes. The pencil went flying through the air, straight to Jimmy's doorbell. As soon as the chimes rang, the pencil dropped down to the doormat and turned into a flute. The door opened, and Jimmy looked out, puzzled.

Then he spotted the flute on the doormat. "Hey, that's a beaut!" he exclaimed and picked it up.

Suddenly Mr. Bauldron leaped from the bushes and ran toward Jimmy. "Don't blow that flute!" he tried to shout. But he only meowed.

"Get away, cat!" Jimmy muttered, and kicked out with his foot. And as the screeching cat sailed back into the bushes, Jimmy lifted the flute to his lips and began to blow. Beautiful music floated through the air. Jimmy was so pleased with it that he didn't notice at first that he was floating through the air. The doormat had turned into a flying carpet.

Mersina watched gleefully as the flying doormat carried Jimmy away over the roof-tops. "Come on, Mr. Bauldron," she said. "Maybe we can take a nap now."

But no sooner did Mersina close her eyes again when the air was filled with a new and even more terrible noise. "Bang! Bang! Zzzzzzzz...Rrrrrrrppppp…" Mr. Carter, across the street, was building a fence.

"Does he have to do that every day?" Mersina grumbled. "I'll never get my nap!" The hammering and sawing continued.

Mersina went down to the yard. With a stick she scratched a design in her sandbox. A small cloud of sand swirled up, and across the street, straight for an apple hanging from a tree just over Mr. Carter's head. As the sand touched the apple, the apple changed. Now a big, powerful drill was hanging from the tree.

Mr. Carter looked up. "Where did that drill come from?" he thought. "It's just what I need."

As Mr. Carter reached up for the drill, Mersina's cat tried to meow a warning to him. But Mr. Carter did not notice. He tried out the new drill on a piece of wood.

The drill cut through the wood easily. And then it kept on going -- down into the ground. Mr. Carter tried to stop it, but he couldn't. He couldn't even let go. Into the ground the drill dug, pulling Mr. Carter along after it.

"See you in China," Mersina giggled, as her neighbor disappeared into the hole. Then she went back to bed.

But scarcely had Mersina settled down to sleep, when, "Clang! Bang! Clunk! Clatter!" Mrs. Berk, her next-door neighbor, was getting dinner ready. And it seemed as though she was banging every pot and pan she owned.

"Oh, no," moaned Mersina. "This has got to stop!" She snatched up a doll's bottle and threw it out the window.

The bottle grew and changed its shape as it sailed through the air toward Mrs. Berk's window. Now it was a large bottle of dishwashing detergent, gaily wrapped and labeled "Free Sample."

Mrs. Berk looked up as it floated in her kitchen window. "My goodness!" she exclaimed. "It's just like the TV commercials!"

Quickly she unwrapped the package, popped open the cap, and poured some of the liquid into the sink. Beautiful bubbles appeared and grew...and grew, and GREW. They foamed up over the sink and down onto the kitchen floor. They swept up Mrs. Berk and carried her out the open window, down the street, and off into the distance.

"Quiet at last!" sighed Mersina, settling down under the covers.

"Mersina, Mersina!" Her mother shook her. "It's time for supper. And I have three new spells to try, for changing Mr. Bauldron back."

Mersina's mother mixed some herbs in a saucepan and heated them gently on the stove. After reading a magic formula out of her pocket notebook, she poured a few spoonfuls of the mixture into a saucer. "Here kitty," she called. "Drink this, and you'll soon be back to your old self."

Mr. Bauldron looked at the liquid nervously, then began to lap at it. Soon he began to change into a…

"Eek!" shrieked Mersina's mother. "A mouse!"

"It's only Mr. Bauldron," Mersina laughed. "I guess that wasn't the right spell after all.

Mersina's mother tried again. She added a few more ingredients to the pot and whispered some magic words. Then she filled a thimble with the liquid and gave it to Mersina, who placed it on the floor near the mouse.

Mr. Bauldron sniffed at the liquid. Then delicately he began to lap. Larger and larger he grew, and his body began to change. But what was he changing into? Surely not a man. He looked more like a… Help! He was an eleven foot dragon.

Mersina and her mother backed away. The dragon was making snuffling noises, and his face was turning red. "Oh, Mommy," cried Mersina. "I think he's going to sneeze!"

And he did -- straight out the open window. His breath scorched three rose bushes and burned a hole in the fence, but fortunately there was no one out on the street at the time.

Mr. Bauldron closed his mouth and gazed at them mournfully. Thin wisps of smoke drifted up from his nostrils.

"I guess I'd better try the other spell," said Mersina's mother. And sure enough, when Mr. Bauldron slurped up the pot of liquid, he changed instantly into a salesman in a neat gray pin-striped suit.

He looked wildly about him, grabbed his sample case, and ran out the door without a word.

While they were eating supper, Mersina's mother suddenly tilted her head to one side, listening. "It seems awfully quiet around here," she remarked. "I haven't heard Jimmy's trumpet all evening. And I wonder if Mrs. Berk is out tonight."

Mersina did not say anything. Her mother stared at her. "Mersina, did you do anything while I was away?"

Mersina turned red. Finally she told her mother how she had sent Jimmy off on a flying doormat, Mr. Carter down to China with a drill, and Mrs. Berk floating off on a sea of detergent bubbles.

"Oh, Mersina, I'm ashamed of you!" her mother exclaimed. "We'll have to do something about this right away." She thought for a moment. Then she went over to Mrs. Berk's house. On the kitchen counter she found the detergent bottle. She carried it out to the hole in Mr. Carter's yard and poured some of the liquid into the hole. In a moment, bubbles began to rise out of the hole. Soon Mr. Carter floated up, still clutching the drill.

"What's going on?" he sputtered, then snorted in amazement. For the drill in his hand had turned into an apple. Shaking his head, he went into his house.

Then Mersina's mother placed the bottle on her doorstep, stepped back three paces, and clapped her hands. The bottle turned into a large white bird. Flapping its wings, it soared up into the air and flew off.

In a few minutes the bird was back, towing the flying doormat, with Jimmy still riding it. The bird swooped down. As soon as the doormat touched the ground, Jimmy jumped off, and the flute in his hand turned into a pencil.

"Come on, Mersina," said her mother. They hopped onto the doormat, and with the bird by their side, they flew off after Mrs. Berk. Soon they spotted the trail of bubbles, and then Mrs. Berk, foating along. They helped her up onto the bird's back and flew home. As soon as the bird landed, it turned into a detergent bottle. "My free sample!" Mrs. Berk exclaimed. But then it turned into a doll's baby bottle.

Back at home, Mersina's mother gazed at her sternly. "I guess I'll just have to take you along next time," she sighed.

Mersina smiled.


©1973, 2013 The Silversteins