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Authors: Edward Eager

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"Hawks?" said his wife, who was rather deaf.

"No, auks," said the man. "
Great
auks, by the size. And they're extinct, you know. I shall write to Miss Bristow's bird column."

But otherwise no one looked up and saw them all the length of lower Weed Street. It is surprising how few people
do
look up during the course of a day, though they might find it rewarding if they did.

At the corner of Weed Street and Richmond Hill, John perched in an oak tree, and the other four flocked to nearby branches, greatly to the annoyance of seven bird families of various species who were already nesting in the tree and who now all started uttering their different calls at the top of their voices, in shrill complaint at the crowded conditions.

"We change here," said John, and indeed they had, for their wings had already vanished. "I couldn't decide between wings and magic carpets; so I wished both."

At this moment their particular magic carpet arrived, right on cue, and the five children clambered on. Riding it was even more fun than flying had been, for it involved less of what tennis players call "form." All the five children had to do was sit while the carpet rose stiffly in the air and then took off at a swift horizontal. As a great writer on the subject has put it, it was like tobogganing, only there was no doormat to stop short on. (I think the great writer must have been thinking of the kind of tobogganing that is done on front staircases, with tin trays, a sport that might well be revived more generally. )

The shooting, sliding feeling went on and on without a bump, but only as far as the library roof, to which the carpet soared swift as any homing pigeon and without having to be steered at all.

"Look," said John. "No hands!"

Luckily the roof was a flat one, and the carpet paused on it long enough for the five children to

 

clamber off, before proceeding on its way, probably back to some Arabian night.

There was a trap door in the roof, and it was accommodatingly unlocked. Where John led, the others followed. They went down a ladder and found themselves in the upper part of the library, where they had never ventured before because only grown-ups were allowed.

On every hand were what looked like thousands of books, ranged on shelves, stacks and stacks of them.

"Think of all those that we haven't read yet!" said Abbie.

"Maybe some of them have magic inside, too!" said Fredericka.

"
All
of them, I should think," said Barnaby, "one way or another."

They went down a staircase and through a door at the bottom to the main floor, and no one noticed or questioned them. But just outside the children's room they stood hesitating.

"I hate to say good-bye," said Susan, and she voiced the thoughts of all five.

"Maybe it's just
au revoir
," said Abbie.

"If the magic ever does come back into our lives," said Barnaby to John, "you get first turn. Needless to say."

And the five children went into the children's room, Susan leading the way and carrying the book because it was she who had found it in the first place.

She thought Miss Dowitcher looked at her a bit strangely when she saw what the book was, but "Oh, that!" was all she said. "Did you enjoy it?"

"Yes," said Susan, "we did. It got a little bit torn just at the end, though."

Miss Dowitcher riffled through the back pages. "I don't see where," she said.

And neither could Susan, now. The book had grown together and was its old plump, comfortable, shabby, but untorn self again. And Susan noticed something else about it.

As Miss Dowitcher laid the book aside with other books that were to be put back on the shelves, Susan nudged Barnaby and Barnaby nudged Abbie and Abbie nudged John and John nudged Fredericka and they all looked where Susan was looking.

On the book's spine, where before the old gold lettering had been rubbed away, new letters shone.

Seven-Day Magic
, the letters read.

"It's got a name now," said John.

"And we made it," said Barnaby.

"Only it doesn't say who the author is," said Susan.

"That's 'cause there wasn't room to put all of us," said Fredericka.

"I wonder who'll take it out next," said Abbie. "And will it be a magic wishing book for them,
too,
or just a book of stories about
us?
"

Miss Eulalie Smythe Prang looked up from the far end of the table where she was sitting and sighed, putting her hand to her head as if it ached.

"Please," she said. "Can't we have quiet?"

The five children went out of the library and along the village street that turned into the curving country road home.

Edward Eager
(1911–1964) worked primarily as a playwright and lyricist. It wasn't until 1951, while searching for books to read to his young son, Fritz, that he began writing children's stories. In each of his books he carefully acknowledges his indebtedness to E. Nesbit, whom he considered the best children's writer of all time—"so that any child who likes my books and doesn't know hers may be led back to the master of us all."

BOOK: Seven-Day Magic
7.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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