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Rick Rogers Strikes Oil

Rick Rogers was in his room. He was supposed to be doing his homework. But instead he was doodling with a pencil on a blank page in his notebook. A tall pointed hat, a face with bushy eyebrows and a long white beard..."Was it just a dream?" Rick thought.

Two weeks ago, there was a tap on Rick's window, and a marvelous Wizard from another age appeared. He offered Rick a job as his apprentice and took him on a journey through time and space to help the people of a poor village. He promised afterward that he would be back again soon. But, though Rick raced up to his room after school every day, the Wizard had not come back. Now the whole adventure seemed like a dream. Could it really have happened at all?

Rick ripped out the page with his drawing and crumpled it up into a ball. Then suddenly he felt a cool breeze on his face. The window had popped open. And leaning in over the sill was the Wizard. "Ready for another trip?" he asked.

"Wow!" yelled Rick. In a moment he and the Wizard were riding high up in the air in an old-fashioned surrey. Rick gazed eagerly out the window. "Where are we going this time?"

"We have a special problem to take care of now," said the Wizard. "There's a prospector, drilling for oil, back in 1900. He's right over one of the biggest oil beds around, but he has some hard rock to go through and he's broken his drill. He's put all his money into this rig, and he can't afford to buy another one. So we're going to help him."

"What's so special about him?" Rick asked. "Aren't there some more starving people we can help instead?"

"One man can be important sometimes," said the Wizard. "This man was rich once before, and he used his money to help others get started in farms and businesses. If he strikes it rich again, he'll help more people than we could in weeks of magic work."

The surrey swung down below the clouds. Rick could see an oil derrick rising on the plain below. As they got closer, he could make out the prospector, hunched down beside it. He looked up in surprise when the surrey landed.

"We're here to help you," said the Wizard.

"Not much you can do," the man sighed. "My drill's busted, and even if I could buy a new one, those rocks would break that, too."

"You need a diamond drill," Rick cried. "That can cut through anything."

"Where could I get diamonds?" the prospector laughed. The Wizard looked at Rick. His young apprentice thought a minute, and then pulled a pencil out of his pocket. "The lead in here is a form of carbon," Rick said, "and so is diamond. It should be simple enough to change one into the other. I was reading an article last week about how they do it in industry."

The prospector gasped in amazement. As he stared at Rick, the Wizard handed the boy his staff. Rick found a big rock half-buried in the ground and pointed the staff at it. He thought as hard as he could, just as the wizard had taught him. A jet of flame shot out of the staff and burned a hole in the rock.

"What did you do that for?" asked the Wizard.

"You'll see," said Rick. He touched the end of the staff to his pencil, and the pencil began to grow larger. "That should be enough carbon," Rick said after a moment, and he placed it inside the hole in the rock. Then he pointed the staff at another big rock, and it began to rise into the air. "Better hide behind that boulder," he called to the Wizard and the prospector. "When I let go, that rock'll come down fast!" Slowly he backed toward the boulder, still pointing the staff at the rising rock. But then he tripped and fell. The rock came sailing down -- and crashed straight into the oil derrick.

"Oh, no," moaned the prospector. "My whole rig is ruined!"

"I think you need some more practice, Son," said the Wizard. He took the staff and pointed it at the wrecked derrick. In a blink it was standing straight and tall again. "Now where did you want that rock?" the Wizard asked his apprentice.

"On -- on the other rock," Rick stammered. So the Wizard raised the rock again, and then let it come crashing down onto the rock with Rick's carbon in it. There was a crash and a flash of light.

Rick ran over to the rock and tapped it with the staff. It split open, and the new diamonds inside sparkled in the sun. Quickly Rick and the Wizard fixed up a new drill.

Later, as they flew off in the surrey, they could see the first gush of oil from the well.




©1973, 2013 The Silversteins