another stocking just like this somewhere," Stephen's grandmother
said. "At least, that's what my granny told me. And if anyone
could ever match them up again, he would have great powers
Stephen gazed at the long woolen stocking his grandmother
was holding. It bulged with mysterious bumps. "What's inside
when you grow up, you'll find out." She carried the stocking
back to the chest in the attic and closed the lid.
That night, when everyone else was asleep, Stephen lay thinking
about the stocking in the chest in the attic. What was in
it? What mysterious power could it bring? He quietly crept
up the stairs to the attic and opened the lid of the chest.
It was dark in the attic. Stephen groped around in the chest
until he felt the stocking. He lifted the stocking out of
the chest and carried it down the attic stairs.
Moonlight was streaming in through the window in the hall.
Stephen reached into the stocking and felt something round.
He pulled it out. It looked like a compass. But the arrow
was not pointing to the north. As the moonlight beamed on
the compass, Stephen began to feel a strange force pulling
at him. It was growing stronger and stronger. The compass
pulled him down the stairs. Still clutching the stocking,
he found himself almost running down the road.
Now Stephen was running faster and faster. For miles and miles
he sped onward down the road. And yet he was not tired at
all. The compass in his hand was pulling him somewhere.
Suddenly the strange pull stopped. The moon had gone behind
a cloud. Stephen placed the compass in his pocket. He sat
down by the roadside to think about what had happened.
It was dark. If only Stephen had something to help him to
see. He reached into the stocking again and felt around with
his fingers. There was something that felt like a flashlight.
He pulled it out.
was a flashlight. He switched it on. A beam of light shot
out into the darkness. There was something strange about the
light. At first Stephen saw a few insects dancing in its beam.
But as he watched, dozens, then hundreds flitted into the
light. Then he heard a rush of wings as two owls swooped down
into the light. Suddenly there was a twittering, as songbirds
from all over the forest awakened and flew toward the light.
Red gleams of animal eyes peered out at him from the trees
and bushes. Foxes and weasels, bears and wolves closed in
on him. One of the bears growled as he towered over Stephen.
Stephen gave a frightened yelp, dropped the flashlight, and
raced off into the darkness. As he ran down the road, the
sound of the animals milling around the light grew fainter.
Stephen ran on until he was too tired to keep going. He flopped
down by the side of the road. He stretched out on the ground
to rest, but the stony ground was very uncomfortable. Stephen
reached into the stocking and pulled out something soft. As
soon as it was out of his stocking, it swelled into a fine
spongy mattress. Stephen curled up on it. Still clutching
the stocking, he fell asleep.
next morning, when he awakened, Stephen shrieked in surprise.
He was floating in the air. The strange mattress was carrying
him along. When he leaned over the side and looked down, he
gasped. He was over the ocean!
In the distance Stephen saw lightning flashes. A storm was
coming. Soon it began to rain. As the rain soaked into the
spongy mattress, it began to get heavier. Stephen was slowly
sinking down toward the ocean. There was no land anywhere
to be seen. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the
compass. As a bolt of lightning flashed, the compass seemed
to pull Stephen and the mattress through the air. With each
flash of lightning, the mattress flew faster.
Up ahead Stephen noticed a large, beautiful yacht. The yacht
seemed to be riding in a patch of bright sunlight and calm.
Suddenly, the flying mattress dipped downward. It was heading
right for the yacht.
In a moment, Stephen was on the deck. A tall bearded man threw
open the door of the cabin and stepped out onto the deck.
"How did you get here?" he demanded.
got a magic stocking," said Stephen, holding it up.
the mate to mine!" the man exclaimed. He reached into the
cabin and held up a stocking that looked just like Stephen's.
"Give me yours!" the man demanded. He reached into his stocking
and pulled out a heavy club.
Shaking it menacingly, he strode across the deck toward Stephen.
Stephen reached into his stocking and pulled out the first
thing he found. It was a large glass ball. He threw it at
the man. It shattered on the deck at his feet. The large glass
ball broke into a hundred tiny balls. The man slipped and
went crashing down onto the deck. Before he could stop himself,
he had rolled across the deck and out under the rail. Stephen
heard a large splash. Quickly he picked up the other stocking,
which the bearded man had dropped on the deck.
Suddenly Stephen knew he could do anything he wanted. He wished
the man a lifeboat -- and he had one. He wished himself home.
And there he stood before his grandmother, a stocking in each
2013 The Silversteins