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The Magic Stocking

"There's 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 indeed."

Stephen gazed at the long woolen stocking his grandmother was holding. It bulged with mysterious bumps. "What's inside it, Granny?"

"Someday, 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.

It 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.

The 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.

"I've got a magic stocking," said Stephen, holding it up.

"That's 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 hand.




©1973, 2013 The Silversteins