is said that the Emperor Nero started the fire that burned
down the ancient city of Rome," Miss Robbins told her class.
didn't really do it!" Mersina called out. "I saw what happened."
you're making up stories again," Miss Robbins scolded.
I'm not. I really saw Nero. And did you know he was bald?"
The class laughed. "That's enough, Mersina!" Miss Robbins
said firmly. "Let's get on with the lesson."
show all of you," Mersina whispered. She reached into her
witch's bag and pulled out a little ball. It looked like a
tiny globe, with all the continents and oceans on it. She
mumbled a spell, bent down, and rolled the ball up the aisle
between the desks. When the ball hit the blackboard at the
front of the room, there was a shower of sparks. For a second,
the whole room was filled with a mysterious light.
Suddenly the door burst open. A husky man in a strange costume
strode in. He looked like an ancient Roman centurion.
are you doing in my classroom?" Miss Robbins demanded. "Did
you check in at the office?"
ask the questions!" the man exclaimed gruffly. "I have orders
to take you to the Emperor Nero. He is very angry at you for
interrupting the games." He gave a signal, and six armed guards
rushed in. They forced Miss Robbins and the whole class outside.
The classroom was resting right in the middle of a huge stadium.
There was a roar as they came out the door. Thousands and
thousands of people were in the stands pointing and yelling.
They were all wearing strange clothes. It was like - ancient
The guards hustled the class up to the Imperial Box.
Nero!" cried Mersina, pointing to a man dressed in a purple
robe, with a golden crown on his head.
Billy poked her in the ribs. "You were wrong," he jeered.
"He's not bald."
a minute," said Mersina. She snapped her fingers and whispered
a magic word. A sudden gust of wind swept across the stadium
and headed straight for the emperor. It lifted his crown and
swept his hair off his head. The emperor's hair fluttered
through the air and came down gently to rest on Mersina's
outstretched hand. "See!" she proclaimed. "It's just a wig."
Emperor Nero stared at the wig for a moment. Then he raised
his hand to his head. When he felt the bald scalp beneath
the golden crown, he turned purple with rage. He pointed to
the gates at the side of the stadium. The metal gates creaked
open. Dozens of lions raced out, growling. The guards dashed
for cover, leaving Miss Robbins and her class alone in the
middle of the arena. The lions were closing in.
Mersina spun around in a circle, pointing at each lion in
turn. The lions immediately shrank to the size of kittens.
They bounded up to the children and rubbed against their ankles
For a moment Nero looked startled. Then he grew angrier than
ever. Once more he waved his hand in the direction of the
gates. Once more the gates creaked open. This time a group
of gladiators surged out. Some had spears. Some carried heavy
clubs. Some slashed with swords. And some swished flaming
torches through the air. They all ran toward the children.
As they approached, Nero held out his fist, and his thumb
Once more Mersina spun around. As she turned, an invisible
dome formed around the class. The approaching gladiators bumped
against it and stopped.
cried Miss Robbins. "Everyone back into the classroom." They
rushed into the classroom and slammed the door. Through the
window the class could see t he gladiators pounding at the
invisible barrier with swords and clubs. One man tried to
throw a flaming torch over the barrier. It skidded along the
top of the dome and bounced into the stands. Quickly the fire
spread to the hanging draperies around the Imperial Box.
Mersina quickly picked up her tiny globe and rolled it to
the back of the room. As the ball hit the back wall, the strange
light again filled the room. Suddenly the classroom was back
where it belonged.
said Mersina, "I told you Nero didn't start the fire."
you're really a witch," Billy sneered, "why didn't you stop
can't change history," said Mersina.
2013 The Silversteins