The magic wand
On that day, Magali walked beside her daddy. What a nice walk! And what a good time they were having. She had him all to herself that afternoon. Arnaud, her big brother, who was eight, was playing at his friend Manon's house. Julien, her little brother, was at home with their mommy.
Daddy and Magali were walking along fields of wheat and through meadows until they finally entered a wooded area.
There, walking under the trees, the little girl spied a little stick about eight inches long. It was leaning against the trunk of a tree. The stick had white bark and, funnily enough, looked an awful lot like a magician's wand.
Our friend had watched a magic show on TV the night before. She had been dazzled by the breathtaking illusions. Especially when the magician had, by lightly touching it with the wand, turned a mouse into a giraffe. Then he'd changed the giraffe into a tiger, then a chicken, until, finally, he'd turned it back into a mouse.
Magali picked up the pretty white stick and slipped it into the pocket of her red overalls. She ran to catch up to her daddy and take him by the hand.
"I think, my dear," Daddy said, "that we should go back home soon. Look at those nasty clouds over there. We don't have anything for the rain. If we keep going, we could get soaked."
The girl stopped, sad. She'd been so happy to have her daddy all to herself that day. She really didn't want to call an end to their walk.
What if the white stick in her pocket were really magic? she thought to herself.
"Wait, Daddy, wait. I'm going to whisk the clouds away; watch closely."
Magali gripped the wand. She pointed it at the clouds and said:
"Go away! So I wish."
Believe it or not but ... fifteen minutes later, the clouds went away and not one drop of rain fell all that afternoon.
They could continue on their walk. They didn't get back to town until about five. Magali was tired but very happy.
Returning home, she started to feel hungry.
She headed into the kitchen and saw a white cardboard box on the table. She recognized the package. It was from the bakery. Surely, Mommy had bought a pie or a cake for dessert. What a good idea!
The little girl was curious. She carefully undid the sticker that kept the box closed. Opening the box, she cried out,
"Oh, no! Lemon! I don't like lemon meringue pie. Darn! And I was so excited!"
Right then, she thought of her white wand. She pulled it out of her pocket and gripped it firmly in her fist. She closed the box from the bakery and touched the lid with her wand, murmuring:
"I want a strawberry pie. So I wish."
Then she went up to play in her room.
At the end of dinner, Mommy brought out a lemon meringue pie ... and also a strawberry one.
"Yes!" Magali cried out. "It works! Oh, yes, I'm so very happy."
Mommy looked at her daughter, a little puzzled. Our friend quickly explained that her white stick was magic and she'd made the strawberry pie appear.
"If you really have a magic wand, make Julien be quiet. I don't know what's with him today but he's been crying and going on for a good half hour now. I'm at my wit's end."
Magali excused herself from the table. She took her white stick in hand again and traced it around Julien's head.
The baby, astonished, stopped crying and watched her carefully. Then she touched the wand to his head and said firmly,
"Go to sleep. So I wish."
The baby lay down in his playpen and, a minute later, he was sound asleep, his little fists clenched.
Mommy congratulated her daughter.
"Good job, my dear. You're wonderful."
"It's because of my magic wand, Mommy."
"Even better. You're a real sorceress."
The next Sunday, Magali went with Arnaud, Julien, Mommy, and Daddy to Grandma's.
As soon as they arrived, she told her everything that had happened since she'd discovered the white stick leaning against the tree in the forest. She said how much it looked like the wand the magician had on TV.
She explained in great detail how she'd made the clouds and the storm disappear, how she'd made the strawberry pie appear alongside the lemon one. Finally, she told how she'd made her little brother Julian go to sleep. This was after he'd been crying and no one had managed to calm him down.
The grandmother looked at her granddaughter.
"Are you 100% certain, my dear, that your little white stick had managed to do all of that?"
"Of course," Magali replied. "What else could it be?"
"Maybe the wind had simply changed directions and brought the storm with it," her grandmother suggested gently.
The little girl was quiet. She looked her grandmother right in the eyes.
"Maybe your mother had bought one lemon and one strawberry pie. But because one was under the other, you hadn't seen them both when you'd opened the box."
Our friend pouted, upset.
"And, just maybe, Julien was already tired," her grandmother continued. "Sometimes babies don't know why they're crying. What you did happened at just the right time and that's why he went to sleep."
"But no, Grandma. My magic wand did it all. I'm sure. Each time I said, 'So I wish,' it happened."
Her grandmother took her granddaughter on her lap.
"My dear, I really want to believe you. Since you're so sure your stick is magic, take a look at the fireplace. See my cat there? He's all black with a little white spot on his throat."
"Okay, then. Try to turn him blue, with some yellow stripes. For example."
Magali got up. This challenge did seem pretty much impossible. Change a black cat blue with yellow stripes? Unbelievable! On the other hand, if she managed it, he'd look like a fish. It'd be pretty funny. And her grandmother would believe her.
Our friend would have proven that her white stick was magic.
Slowly, she went up to the little creature. Uninterested in the talk about him, the cat let her come near. The little girl placed the wand on the cat's head, right in the middle, between its two ears.
"I'm turning your black fur into blue fur with yellow stripes. So I wish."
Our friend opened her mouth, astonished. Her grandmother was so surprised she spilled her cup of tea. Believe it or not. The cat had turned blue with yellow stripes.
Magali, with a big smile, put her wand down by the fireplace and went to play in the garden.
When it started getting dark, she went home with her mommy and daddy and her two brothers.
The next day at school, Magali remembered that she'd left her magic wand at her grandma's, by the fireplace. She wanted to show it to her best friend and use it in class for some fun.
As soon as she got back home, at around four, Magalie asked if she could make a call.
"Hello Magali. How are you my dear?"
"Grandma, did you find my magic wand?"
"No, my dear. Where did you leave it?"
"By the fireplace, beside the cat, after I'd turned it blue and yellow."
There was a moment of silence.
"Why aren't you saying anything, Grandma?"
"A little stick about eight inches long? With white bark, like a birch?"
"Yes!" Magali cried.
There was another long silence ...
"My dear, I forgot that that was your magic wand. I picked it up and put it with the other wood in the fire. It burned."
"Oh, Grandma," Magali whispered. "My magic wand ..."
But from that day on, her grandmother's cat was blue with yellow stripes. It didn't dare go out of the house. It was afraid that the mice would make fun of it.
Translation : Andrew Gordon Middleton