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Rick Rogers Meets a Wizard

Rick Rogers was packing. Ever since they had moved to their new house, nothing seemed to go right. The kids on the block called him an egghead. They didn't want to play with him. And he didn't want to play with them either.

He hardly ever saw his father anymore. Ever since his father got the new job, he was always working - even weekends. Nobody seemed to understand Rick. So he was going to run away from home.

Suddenly there was a tapping on the window. Rick turned around and was surprised to see a face in the window. It was an old man with a long white beard. How could anybody be out there? Rick's room was on the second floor!

He went over to the window and looked out. There was an old-fashioned surrey parked outside his window --hanging in midair. The old man pointed to the window, and it suddenly creaked open all by itself.

Rick stared. Before he could do anything, the old man stepped through the open window and into Rick's bedroom. "I hear you're planning to run away from home," he said.

"How did you know that?" Rick asked, surprised.

"Oh, I have my ways," the old man chuckled. "How would you like to be my apprentice?"

"What kind of apprentice?" Rick asked.

"An apprentice wizard, of course!" the Wizard said.

"I'm getting old now, and I need to train someone to take over the business. I've been looking through 20 centuries for a boy like you."

"Twenty centuries?" Rick gasped.

"Oh, yes. I come from a long, long time ago. My work takes me to all times and places."

Rick pointed to the surrey. "You mean that's a time machine?"

"You might say that. Why don't you step into my surrey? I'll show you how I operate."

In a moment Rick was sitting in the surrey beside the Wizard. The Wizard called to his four horses, and in an instant they were up sailing through the clouds.

On and on they sped. Then the horses dipped downward, carrying the surrey below the clouds. They were over a thick forest now. Ahead was a lake.

"Aha," said the Wizard. "There's a problem that calls for our attention." He pointed to the center of the lake where there was violent splashing.

Rick squinted, but he could not make out anything. The Wizard handed him a telescope. "Hey!" yelled Rick. "That boy is drowning! Take the surrey down so I can save him. I can swim."

"Just a minute, Son," the Wizard cautioned. "If you want to live as long as I have, there's a lesson you have to learn. Never do anything dangerous if a little magic will work just as well."

With that the wizard pointed his staff at a giant tree standing at the edge of the lake. There was a crackle of thunder. A lightning flash arched out from the Wizards staff and struck the tree. The trunk split, and the tree plunged into the water. The top branches landed just a foot or two from the struggling boy. He grabbed one of the branches and pulled himself to safety.

Then the surrey sped off again into the clouds. Their next stop was a small village, five centuries in the past. The Wizard explained to Rick that the people of the village were starving. For months now there had been no rain.

"Now it's your turn, Son. Let's see how you can handle it." The Wizard handed Rick his staff. "Just point this and think of what you want."

Rick asked the Wizard to land the surrey. The Wizard was surprised, because there were already some clouds over the fields around the village. He had expected Rick just to point the staff at them.

But instead, when they landed, Rick pointed the staff at the ground.

Suddenly there was a shiny bar of silver on the ground. He pointed the staff again, and a mound of violet iodine crystals appeared. The Wizard scratched his head and stared as Rick pointed his staff again. In a puff of smoke, the silver and iodine mixed, and a sack of orange silver iodine crystals appeared in their place.

Rick scooped up the sack and said, "OK, I've got what I need. Now can you fly me up to those clouds?"

Flying above the clouds, Rick sprinkled them with the silver iodide crystals. Suddenly it began to rain, harder and harder. Water soaked into the dry fields, and the people ran out of their houses, dancing with joy.

The Wizard looked puzzled. "What happened?"

"Haven't you heard of making rain by seeding clouds with silver iodide?" Rick asked.

"In my day, we never heard of that. But I guess it's the modern way." The Wizard shrugged. "Well, that's enough for this trip."

In a flash they were at Rick's house. "I'll be back again soon," the Wizard promised. Rick leaned out of his window and watched as the surrey sped off.


©1972, 2013 The Silversteins