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My name is Tony      Welcome to my Page

The title of my new book is:

"The Land of Magic"

 

 

 

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Synopsis:


An exciting children’s adventure story based around Nicky and his magic cloak. On his ninth birthday, Nicky buys the cloak which has a very unusual riddle on the label:

Put on this cloak for all to see
It’s mystery to unfold
A magic land is where you’ll be
Within the ring of gold

Eventually solving the riddle [or he “always” thinks he has] and with the help of a magic ring he finds in a hidden pocket in the cloak; Nicky is whisked off to a Land of Magic. Hereafter he has numerous adventures involving well known nursery rhyme characters with totally unforeseen twists and turns.

What an unexpected development. Nicky loses the ring and instantly finds himself back in his bedroom. This is a major disaster, without the ring…… Oh no!...... this must be the end?

An exciting development happens when one of the characters appears back in his bedroom at home and Nicky has to solve the problem of how? and thence the story flits excitingly between “Nursery Rhyme Land” and “The Real World”.

Share the excitement of the chase and Nicky’s escape, when he is pursued through the dark overgrown forest. Have you ever had a nightmare? Nicky certainly has one!

What could possibly have happened? Nicky finds that whatever he tries, nothing works anymore. Perhaps the magic has simply run out? Without knowing it, Mum comes to the rescue.

Feel a “shiver” run down your spine and the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end when Nicky actually meets the “Good” wizard face to face. Will he pass the test?

In an exciting conclusion Nicky has a brainwave which ends up with him travelling back in time to …………. I really don’t want to spoil it for you by revealing any more details.

The story has it all, universally known characters, excitement, adventure, fear, sadness and happiness. It could well bring a tear to your eyes!

It’s a children’s “nail biter” with a difference.
 

   

The complete story:

   
 

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Nicky’s Adventures in the Land of Magic


                   
 
  Chapter   1 – Nicky’s Birthday
  Chapter   2 – The ‘Magic’ Cloak
  Chapter   3 – The Riddle Solved
  Chapter   4 – The Lost Ring
  Chapter   5 – Oh! What Have I Done?
  Chapter   6 – The Unexpected Reunion
  Chapter   7 – Jack Comes to Visit
  Chapter   8 – The Chase
  Chapter   9 – Alive and Well
  Chapter 10 – The Final Chapter, Or Is It?
  Chapter 11 – Mum To The Rescue?
  Chapter 12 - The Good Wizard
  Chapter 13 – Nicky’s Dilemma
  Chapter 14 – Miracles Do Happen
  Chapter 15 – The Final Chapter
 
 


                    Nicky’s Adventures in the Land of Magic



Chapter 1 – Nicky’s Birthday


Nicky clearly remembered the first time that he had been really scared out of his wits. He just couldn’t work out where he was or what was happening to him. It certainly was a very strange experience when he’d suddenly realised that he was actually flying through the air at high speed. He knew it was impossible but no, here he was, high above the dark forest and obviously going far too fast. Hearing a strange noise behind him he looked round to find that he was being chased by what seemed to be a huge cloud of large black birds. Trying to go even more quickly to escape, his cloak was ripped from his shoulders by the force of the wind and he felt himself falling faster and faster towards the trees below.

Everything went black and what seemed like an eternity later Nicky stirred. ‘Rat-tat-tat.’ Someone or something was knocking at the door. Then it was even louder, ‘knock-knock-knock.’ Now it was ‘Bang-Bang-Bang.’ Gosh! He clearly remembered every single detail oh so well, but that was well over a year ago.
This time however, it was entirely different. Nicky was wide awake and was sure that he knew exactly what he was doing. However he still couldn’t help wondering if he had made the right decision, should he really have come here at all? It had started in the now familiar way, exactly the same as all the previous times. All he had felt was that now familiar tingling sensation all through his body, which once again made him momentarily close his eyes. In a tiny “puff” of smoke, he had simply disappeared.
Now, nervously trying to look around himself, Nicky couldn’t see a single thing except several blurred, dull, or glowing objects that appeared to surround him. He could hear strange noises all around and he was sure that he felt something briefly touch his back. Of course he had absolutely no idea where he was. He felt a shiver down his spine and was sure that his hair was standing on end. He felt so frightened that he was trembling like a leaf, too scared to move a muscle as he certainly didn’t want to draw attention to himself.

Gradually he started to make out different shapes as his eyes grew used to the gloom. The glowing objects were burning torches, hanging on the walls with black metal brackets and they seemed to be giving off far more smoke than light. He remembered seeing something like them when he’d been to the cinema with Mum to see Robin Hood. On the walls and roof, he noticed several grotesque shapes distorted by the flickering torches as they moved round the huge room. A minute or two later, he began to notice far more detail. The shapes he saw were the shadows of some large black birds and bat like creatures and they were making the strange noises he heard. They were flying round and round this absolutely huge room, but every so often one would swoop down to within a hairs breadth of him, as if to take a closer look. Nicky still hadn’t moved an inch, it was if he was glued to the spot.

Once again, he asked himself ‘Have I really done the right thing? Even now it’s not too late’ he thought. ‘Should I call the whole thing off or am I right to take such a huge risk?’ He couldn’t help thinking about the way the whole adventure had started on his birthday……..



Nicky woke up with a start and jumped straight out of bed. It must have been the noisy seagulls that disturbed him or was it because today was the day he’d been waiting for… it seemed forever. He looked out of his bedroom window towards the castle on the cliff top, where the sun was just poking its head above the main tower. There was not a cloud in the sky. In the harbour below, the boats were gently bobbing up and down with hardly a wave in sight. It was definitely going to be the best day of his life. The only regret he had was that his Dad couldn’t be there with him as tragically he had gone missing in a fishing boat accident about eighteen months ago. Nicky would never forget the headlines in the newspaper “Skipper Missing Feared Dead.” “There is still no trace of Paul Young, skipper of the ill fated trawler the ‘Lucky Catch’. Following an intensive search lasting over 24 hours there is now little hope of finding him alive…..” Fortunately the rest of the crew had been rescued safely but Dad had just disappeared without trace. Mum still believed that he must have lost his memory or something similar and that one day he would turn up alive and well.

‘I wonder if the postman has been yet?’ he thought and glanced at his watch. ‘Half past six. No it’s much too early. Oh I do hope that I get as many cards as I did last year.’ Yes, you’ve guessed, it was Nicky’s ninth birthday.

Nicky quietly crept to his bedroom door and slightly opened it but not a sound was to be heard. ‘I’d better not wake Mum up yet’ he thought, and quietly closed it again. Walking round his bed he picked up his favourite book from the bedside table, “The Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes” ‘Yes’ he thought, ‘this was the first book I ever bought from Mr Carter in his “Antiques and Book Shop” with my birthday money on my fifth birthday.’

Mr Carter was his Dad’s best friend from school and had been thrilled when he was asked if he would be Nicky’s Godfather when he was born. Nicky remembered that birthday well because it was when Mum had told him that she was going to give him fifty pence pocket money every week to save or spend on whatever he liked. Nicky preferred to save it up to buy something special.

When Nicky read a book it was as if he was really living in the story. I suppose that’s why he enjoyed reading so much. He remembered first going to the library with his Mum when he was very young, about four or five. Since than he’d gone most weeks, always enjoying browsing along the long shelves bursting with hundreds of books.

Today of course it was very different. He just couldn’t settle down with his favourite book at all. ‘Come on Mum, please get up soon’ he thought, ‘come on Mr postman please be early today, come on clock please whiz round to nine o’clock so that we can go shopping.’

He knew that today they were going down to the post office and on the way they passed Mr Carters Antiques and Book Shop which was his very favourite shop. He loved to collect books and old things, and over the last three or four years had bought a fine album of old postcards, a small collection of tin soldiers and his favourite, a box of old books of nursery rhymes and fairy stories. All out of birthday money and pocket money he had saved up. Yesterday in the back of the shop window Nicky had spotted the most wonderful brightly coloured old cloak and felt he must have a closer look at it and might even buy it if he could afford it.

‘Is that?’ Sweeeeeeeeeesh ‘yes, it is, Mum’s filling the kettle in the kitchen. I must have been thinking so much that I didn’t hear her in the bathroom.’ Nicky ran to the door and called ‘Hi Mum, I’ll be down in a minute’ as he rushed into the bathroom.

‘That was a bit too quick, but I’ll let you off today’ his Mum said as exactly one minute later Nicky walked into the kitchen. ‘Happy birthday Nicky’ she said as she gave him a big hug and the traditional birthday kiss. ‘Guess what? The post was early today and there’s a whole sack full just for you, but… breakfast first.’

‘Nicky’ his Mum’s voice was quite firm. ‘You’re not in a race for the world record, don’t rush your breakfast, you’ll get indigestion and you’re making a mess all over the table cloth.’ ‘Sorry Mum! but I’ve finished now, please may I leave the table and open my cards and presents?’

‘Alright’ Mum said ‘but just make sure you wash your hands first.’

It was rather obvious that Nicky was in quite a rush to be out this morning, as barely half an hour later he said ‘Well that’s the last one,’ with a big grin on his face ‘twenty nine cards, five presents and altogether forty eight pounds in money, my very best birthday ever.’

‘Time to go shopping now isn’t it Mum?’

‘At last’ thought Nicky as they were walking up the hill towards the shops. ‘There’s Mr Carter’s, I hope the cloak is still there.’ ‘Thank goodness’ he thought as he could just see the bright colours of the cloak through the window as they crossed the road towards the shop.

‘There it is Mum, it’s still there’ Nicky said excitedly ‘can we go in now please?’

‘If you bought it now, we would to have to carry it all round town so I think we should call on our way back don’t you?’ said Mum.

‘No Mum, please no, someone else might buy it first, and if we do buy it I’m sure Mr Carter won’t mind us collecting it on our way home. Please let’s go in now.’

Finally his Mum agreed, and full of excitement he rushed in to examine the cloak and see how much it would cost.

As you know, Mr Carter the owner of the shop was Nicky’s Godfather and had known Nicky all of his life. He was very pleased that Nicky often popped in to ask his advice, or to buy something special to add to his collection. Getting the cloak from out of the window he walked across the shop floor to Nicky and his Mum. ‘Yes!’ he said ‘it is a very stunning extremely unusual cloak indeed, just have a look at this label’ and passed it over to Nicky.
The cloak was even more striking than it had appeared in the window. The colours were quite brilliant vivid shiny and clear, every word seemed to describe it accurately and it was also very smart looking. Looking inside at the label he could clearly read some strange words:

Put on this cloak for all to see
It’s mystery to unfold
A magic land is where you’ll be
Within the ring of gold

‘It’s a riddle’ said Mr Carter ‘there’s a legend that the cloak was made by a good wizard in olden times and that it has magical powers but although many people have tried to work out what they are and what it can do, everyone has failed. I think it’s just a clever joke.’
‘I really don’t mind’ said Nicky, ‘I love it so much I would like to buy it if I can afford it. Please Mr Carter, how much is it?’
‘Well, let me see. It should be one hundred pounds, but errrr for such a special customer like you... and as it’s your birthday, I can let you have it for err… sixty pounds.’
‘Wow!’ Nicky yelled ‘Mum, please can we get it? I have all of my birthday money left and I’ve saved a little pocket money, I’m just two pounds short.’
‘If your Mum agrees’ Mr Carter nodded, ‘I’ll let you pay the difference with your pocket money the next week.’
Of course Mum agreed and Mr Carter promised to wrap it up for them to collect later.
After they had finished shopping, and had lunch out at a little café, they made their way back to Mr Carter’s to pick up the cloak on their way home. ‘What a very special birthday this is turning out to be’ thought Nicky ‘I was right, it’s definitely going to be the best ever.’




Chapter 2 – The ‘Magic’ Cloak


Nicky couldn’t wait to get home to try his new cloak on. He ran upstairs and banged his bedroom door shut. He looked in the mirror and slipped on his new cloak.

 ‘This is wonderful’ he thought, ‘it fits perfectly and the colours are superb.’ His Mum had explained to him that whoever had made it, had used many pieces of different brightly coloured materials sewn together in a pattern, just like a patchwork quilt.

While he was trying it on he noticed the tiniest of little marks where two of the pieces of material were sewn together. ‘I hope that will come off’ he thought, slipping off the cloak and reaching out for the clothes brush on the chest of drawers. ‘That’s strange, it’s not a mark. It’s a little bulge where something seems to be caught up in the lining.’

Probably because the cloak was very very old, some of the stitches had broken and Nicky was able to carefully move the little bulge to the gap where the lining was not fixed properly.
‘This is very strange’ he thought ‘it looks like… yes, I’m sure it is… it looks like a hidden pocket that’s been stitched up instead of using a button or a zip.’

With extreme care, Nicky was able to loosen some of the stitches and put his finger inside. The little bulge now felt like a small coin, no a ring. Yes it was definitely a ring and Nicky managed to ease the ring out of the hidden pocket.

Slipping the cloak back on in front of the mirror ‘that’s much better’ thought Nicky, ‘the mark has disappeared, it was just a tiny little bulge caused by the ring. Yes, it really is a very nice ring.’ Holding it up to his eyes to examine it more clearly, he noticed some characters engraved on the inside, but they were too small for him to make out. ‘Yes’ he thought ‘I’ll need my magnifying glass to read that. M’mmm, it’s very interesting, just like the cloak it looks very old. I wonder if it will fit me?’

Just as he tried the ring on his finger a bright ray of sunshine came through the bedroom window as the sun peeped out from behind a whispy cloud. Nicky noticed it through the mirror because it shone straight onto Humpty Dumpty, in the Giant Book Of Nursery Rhymes that he had left open on his bedside table earlier that morning. He’d often thought how wonderful it would be if he could actually meet the people in person but of course they were only characters in a book. ‘But yes,’ he thought ‘It really would be great to actually meet Humpty Dumpty, I really wish I could.’ Suddenly without any warning whatsoever, he disappeared from sight in a tiny “puff” of smoke.

All Nicky felt was a sudden tingling sensation all through his body, which made him momentarily close his eyes. When he opened them again, totally unexpectedly, he found himself in a very strange but quite breathtaking place. He was standing by a gurgling stream in a beautiful land filled with gently rolling hills and sunshine. Birds were singing in the trees, the bees very busy collecting honey and the hosts of butterflies flitting round a carpet of wild flowers. What stood out more than anything were the bright vivid colours. It was just as if he was in the middle of a newly painted picture.

As Nicky walked along the narrow path by the side of the river he was actually trembling with excitement. He clearly remembered what Mr Carter had said to him just a short while ago ‘There’s a legend that the cloak was made by a good wizard in olden times and that it has magical powers but although many people have tried to work out what they are and what it can do, everyone has failed. I think it’s just a clever joke.’

Clearly there was no other explanation, Nicky had stumbled on the secret of the “magic cloak” and somehow he had been whisked away from his bedroom at home to this wondrous land. Just a few yards away he spotted a family of baby rabbits chasing each other in and out of the twisted roots of a great oak tree that grew perilously on the river bank.
Nicky was bubbling over with excitement. ‘This was absolutely amazing ” he thought, ‘what a truly wonderful place this is ‘ as he carried on walking briskly. Naturally he wanted to explore as much as possible of this wonderful land he’d unexpectedly found himself in. As he walked along the path, in the distance he saw a huge wall and instantly he recognised the person who was there sitting on top of the wall - Humpty Dumpty.

[Humpty Dumpty]

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses
And all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

‘Hello there’ Nicky said ‘are you Humpty Dumpty?’
‘Yes, but how do you know who I am?’ said Humpty with a frown on his big round face.
‘Why I’ve read all about you’ said Nicky ‘you’re famous, everyone where I come from has heard of you. But why do you always sit on the top of the wall, it’s very dangerous and you could have a terrible accident?’

‘Famous! That sounds very important… so who are you and where is it that you come from then?’ asked Humpty.

‘I’m Nicky Young, and I live in Scarborough’ said Nicky ‘it’s in a land far away from here called England.’

‘Scarborough, England, Faraway Land. I’ve never heard of any such places so you must live a very long way from here. Faraway Land, yes, Faraway Land, I will remember that’ said Humpty. ‘But why do I sit on the wall, I thought that would be quite obvious. Whenever the king, his family or all the king’s men leave the palace, or arrive back again, I have the best possible view. I love all the splendour of every occasion and wouldn’t miss it for the world.’

‘Wait !, wait !, here they come again. Look, over there’ said Humpty excitedly rocking backwards and forwards perilously on top of the wall and pointing to the castle.
Sure enough, Nicky could clearly see what could only be the king dressed in his finest robes riding in a beautiful gold coach coming through the gateway closely followed by a never ending line of the king’s men all riding on perfectly matched white horses. As the coach drew level with Humpty, the king turned his head to look at him, waved his hand and said ‘Good day my old friend. Oh! Please be careful, we don’t want you falling off that wall, do we?’

Humpty waved and waved until the king and all his men were a mere speck in the distance. He turned to Nicky and said ‘There you are you see. I told you it was worth while sitting on this wall and because I like you so much, you are very welcome to join me.’

‘Yes! That was most impressive,’ Nicky said, ‘You really are a very famous person to have a king for a friend. Unfortunately I can’t join you today. I’ve been away from home for quite a long time already and there’s so much I would like to do. I promise I will come back one day, I give you my word as I’ve really enjoyed talking to you and seeing the king and all his men.’

So, having said goodbye to Humpty Dumpty, Nicky continued along the road. It twisted and turned, uphill and down dale, seemingly never ending. Probably, as he was still so excited and had been walking so quickly, Nicky was feeling quite tired by now. ‘I wonder how long I’ve been here’ he thought, looking down at his watch. ‘Oh dear it seems to have stopped at half past three so I’ve no idea but it certainly seems like a really long time.’ As he felt so tired after his adventures so far today, Nicky decided that it was time to have a little rest, so he laid down in the shade of an enormous tree to protect him from the hot sun, but Nicky just couldn’t get comfortable. The ground was very uneven and uncomfortable to lay on, because of the roots of the tree, so he decided to take his cloak off to use as a pillow. As he slipped it off his shoulders, in a tiny “puff” of smoke, he quite unexpectedly found himself back in his own bedroom with his cloak still grasped in his hand.

‘Gosh!…’ Nicky instantly realised that his problems were only just beginning. ‘How on earth do I explain to Mum where I’ve been for most of the day? But most of all, what exactly happened? How did I get back to my bedroom?’ It was extremely confusing.

‘Nicky, Nicky, are you going to let me see what you look like in your new cloak?’ called Mum from the bottom of the stairs.

‘Ok Mum I’m coming down, just give me a minute.’

‘This is very puzzling’ he thought, ‘I can only remember taking off the cloak to rest my head on. Of course! That must be it. If I take the cloak off I come back home but how did I get to wherever it was in the first place? Humpty Dumpty, well it sounds crazy but I’m sure I could only have been in Nursery Rhyme Land. But how did I get there? When I first put the cloak on nothing happened.’

Nicky thought very hard about the problem and suddenly the answer came to him. ‘Yes!...’ In the excitement he had forgotten about finding the ring. ‘Now I remember, after I found the ring, I put the cloak back on and tried the ring on my finger to see if it would fit. That must be the answer, the cloak has magical powers after all, but only when you also wear the ring.’

Put on this cloak for all to see
It’s mystery to unfold
A magic land is where you’ll be
Within the ring of gold

Nicky remembered the riddle on the label inside the cloak quite clearly and was feeling very smug after working out the answer to such a big problem.

‘No wonder it has never worked for anyone else’ he thought. ‘The Good Wizard who made it was also very clever and cunning to hide the ring in such a way. What a pity I can’t meet him, what an adventure that would be.’ But that’s another story!

‘Nicky’

‘Oh dear, that’s Mum calling again, I’d better rush down or I’ll be in big trouble.’ Nicky thought as he skipped towards the stairs. As he dashed into the lounge he couldn’t help noticing the clock on the wall over the fireplace. It said just one minute to four and checking his watch, it had started working again and was showing the same time, one minute to four. Nicky was getting used to working out all of the problems caused by the magic cloak and it came to him in a flash that the only logical answer was that when he was in the ‘Land of Nursery Rhymes’ real time stood still. As he was now back home again, everything was back to normal.

‘Oh yes, Nicky’ said Mum, ‘I really do like it very much and I think you could wear it in the school Christmas pantomime this year.’

Nicky grinned ‘Yes Mum, that’s a good idea’ he said. His Mum was always coming up with funny ideas.

‘Right’ said Mum, ‘I think you’d better take it off now and have a wash and change ready to go to aunt Dora’s.’

‘Ok Mum’ Nicky said ‘I’ll only be a few minutes.’

The visit to aunt Dora’s on his birthday was another special treat. Aunt Dora was very old at least forty and very fussy. The only thing he didn’t like was again, that traditional sloppy birthday kiss that always left a red, wet patch on his cheek. But it was certainly worth putting up with because the birthday party tea she set out was a real feast. Cooked meats, sausages, cheeses, tomatoes, at least three different sorts of pickle, a huge bowl of salad, cracker biscuits and even chips. For afters chocolate éclairs, trifle, fruit jellies, and lashings of ice-cream. Finally a delicious birthday cake with real candles. As his Mum said on every occasion, he always finished up “FFTB” - full fit to burst.

At bedtime that night Nicky thought, ‘what a wonderful exciting day, I wish it never had to end.’ He couldn’t wait until tomorrow when he would try to go back again and hopefully have many more adventures. Or could it even be today?




Chapter 3 – The Riddle Solved


The next morning, Nicky was sure that he had worked it all out correctly. Quite simply, unless he put both the cloak and ring on together, nothing happened. Just to make sure, he first tried the cloak on, on it’s own. Just as before, nothing happened. The ring on it’s own had no effect either so the only conclusion was that to visit the Land of Nursery Rhymes again, he had to wear both the cloak and the ring at the same time.

That is just where that first problem started. He looked into the mirror and put on the cloak, thinking how good he looked in it, whilst at the same time he slipped the ring on his finger. Nothing happened. No little puff of smoke, no Nursery Rhyme Land, just Nicky standing looking at himself in the mirror.

‘Oh dear’ he thought, ‘what if it only works once?’

Looking in the mirror, he took the cloak off and put it on again and was sure it was exactly the same as the first time yesterday. He slipped the ring on and off and on again, but nothing whatsoever happened!

‘What on earth do I do now?’ he thought, shaking his head from side to side in desperation. Suddenly out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes on his bedside table, just where he had put it down after reading it yesterday, and still open at the same page.

‘I wonder if that could be the reason’ he thought, suddenly remembering that he had been looking at the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” reflected in the mirror when he had slipped the ring onto his finger yesterday.

He crossed over to the bedside table and picked up the book. ‘There’s only one way to find out for sure’ he thought, and randomly selected a page. ‘Georgie Porgie, yes, that will do, I’ll give it a try.’

So he left the book open on the bedside table and slipped on the cloak. Looking into the mirror at the reflection of the “Georgie Porgie” nursery rhyme, thinking how wonderful it would be if he could be there in person, he held his breath in anticipation.

‘Oh I wish I could’ he thought as he pushed the ring firmly onto his finger. Once again, he felt the same sudden tingling sensation all through his body, which made him momentarily close his eyes again, and he disappeared in a tiny “puff” of smoke.

This time when he opened his eyes, Nicky couldn’t believe where he found himself. Yesterday, the first person he saw was Humpty Dumpty. Today he was in a lovely little village, overlooking the school playground, which seemed to be full of young girls all crying their eyes out. After congratulating himself on working out how the magic cloak and ring worked together, he remembered that his Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes was left open on the ‘Georgie Porgie’ nursery rhyme page. ‘It actually looks just like the page in my book he thought’ as he looked across the road into the playground.

[Georgie Porgie]

Georgie Porgie, Pudding and Pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry.
When the boys came out to play
Georgie Porgie ran away.

Once again,  it was quite obvious to him that all the girls’ crying could well be the fault of that naughty boy Georgie Porgie.

Nicky walked over to one of the doorways in the main school building, where he could see a very stern looking elderly gentleman peering across the playground at the girls. He couldn’t help noticing above the door, a large sign “Headmaster”.

‘Good morning sir’ said Nicky, ‘I’m just passing through the village and noticed that there seems to be a problem. Is there any way that I can help you?’

‘Not really young man, I’ve already been in contact with the Grand old Duke of York and his ten thousand men, and have asked for their help’ said the headmaster, ‘however if you do happen to see Georgie Porgie on your travels, please report his whereabouts to me immediately. He must be severely punished for upsetting all the girls in this way.’

‘Poor Georgie Porgie’ Nicky thought to himself, as by now he was starting to feel a little bit sorry for him. ‘I would definitely like to hear his side of the story first’ he thought. However, he promised the headmaster that he would keep his eyes open for him.

So after saying goodbye to the headmaster and taking a final glance back at the girls in the playground, who still appeared to be crying their eyes out, Nicky continued on his journey through the village. On over a hump back bridge that crossed a narrow stream and out into the countryside, on and on he went. After he’d been walking for about an hour (he could only guess an hour as his watch had stopped working again) he suddenly said to himself ‘it seems a long time since breakfast and I’m simply starving.’ Can you believe that, after the huge birthday tea he’d had only yesterday? So when he came to a crossroads a few minutes later, and down one of the roads he was sure he could see an inn in the distance, that made his mind up for him. That was the road he chose, secretly hoping that he would be able to get something to eat there.

‘Phew! That was a lot further than it looked’ Nicky puffed, quite out of breath, as he’d walked as quickly as he could to get to the inn. However he still went up the steps two at a time eager to get out of the hot sun. It always seemed to be warm here in Nursery Rhyme Land. But that was probably because he was always in a rush to get somewhere or other.

It was quite gloomy inside the inn. Sitting in the one small window were a very strange couple. The gentleman was very slim and quite good looking for an old man, but his wife was very plump with a contented look on her chubby face. But what an unusual meal they were eating. The gentleman was eating a plate full of very lean meat and what looked like a pile of boiled cabbage. The lady had a plate full of what could only be meat fat with another pile of boiled cabbage. Once again Nicky guessed quite correctly who the odd couple were - Jack Sprat and his wife.

[Jack Sprat 'could eat no fat']

Jack Sprat could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean,
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.

‘Ugh! I couldn’t fancy that’ Nicky thought as he looked round the room now his eyes had adjusted to the gloom. There in the far corner he saw a boy about his own age heartily tucking into a huge pie.

Looking up as Nicky approached he called out ‘Hi ! I’m Jack Horner.’

[Little Jack Horner]

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner,
Eating his Christmas pie.
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum, and said,
“What a good boy am I”

‘This is my absolute favourite pie, I have one every day but there’s far too much for one. Would you like large slice?’ The bright red plumbs, thick rich pastry with lashings of fresh cream looked so delicious that Nicky simply could not resist the temptation.
‘Oh yes please, I’m starving and when we’re finished I’ll tell you about the wonderful adventure I’m having.’

After finishing off every single crumb on his plate, and then having seconds and finally thirds, Nicky noticed that it was such a huge pie that there was still well over half left in the dish. ‘That was delicious’ Nicky said and remembering his promise told Jack about his exciting journey so far in the land of Nursery Rhymes. Jack listened intently, nodding his head and occasionally interrupting the story. I remember Mum and Dad telling me about the king and all of his soldiers and men, but I knew nothing about Humpty Dumpty’ he said obviously totally fascinated by the story. ‘I agree with you, he is a very lucky person to have a king for a friend. I would love to meet him one day.’

Nick carried on with the story of his adventure and told Jack all about Georgie Porgie and what the headmaster had told him.

‘Have you met Jack and Jill?’ Jack suddenly asked out of the blue. ‘Their Mum is one of my Mum’s best friends from her schooldays and I know that Jack is Georgie Porgie’s twin brother’ he said. ‘Perhaps they would know where he has run away to, or he might even be safe and sound at home with them right now. But like you, I would like to know what Georgie Porgie had to say about the matter first. Oh ! I’m sorry for interrupting again, please do go on.’ he said.

‘Well. Actually, that’s about it.’ Nicky said thinking to himself that it would be best to leave out the details about his magic cloak because in any case, he was sure that Jack just wouldn’t understand or believe him.

‘Well, it must be your lucky day as I think I might be able to help you’ said Jack. ‘Just hang on here, I won’t be a minute’ as he disappeared through the door behind his chair.

Nicky barely had time to take a breath before Jack was back with a big grin on his face. ‘I thought so, I’m sure this is just what you need’ he said as he passed him a old map of the area. ‘This shows you how to get to an ancient castle in the next valley. I know the Grand old Duke of York often stays there when he’s in this part of the land. His men might have even found Georgie Porgie by now. But whatever, please call and see me whenever you are in the area, you are welcome to share my pie anytime.’

‘Of course I will’ said Nicky, ‘I give you my word that I will most certainly call in to see you next time I’m passing, and I really do appreciate your kind offer to share your pie.’
‘I’m sure that we can become very good friends.’

Feeling quite refreshed Nicky decided to carry on searching for a while. ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could find Georgie Porgie.’ he thought. Now he had the old map, probably his best chance would be to head for the castle and hope to see the Grand old Duke of York. With ten thousand men, surely one would be able to help out. Of course Nicky failed to consider that on the map it didn’t look very far at all to the castle, in fact it was quite a long way. Far too far to reach before night time.

After walking for quite a long time, the road suddenly came to an abrupt end. There, just ahead of him were two narrow paths. One to the left through some very dark and scary woods, or one to the right with open fields on one side and a quite high wall on the other. On checking the map, Nicky noticed that both paths eventually led to the castle, although in different ways. As the second path with the high wall brought back memories of the enjoyable time he’d had with Humpty Dumpty, and it was much too late to turn round to go back to the inn, that was the path he decided to take.

By now, the sun was quite low in the sky and Nicky guessed that it would soon be dark, as he could clearly see the moon rising over the wall. Of course, he knew that he could simply take off the cloak and be back in his bedroom at home in an instant. However, whenever he chose to do that, he was sure that he would arrive back at exactly the same time as he left, so he decided to continue with his adventure for the time being.

He had only been walking for a few minutes when he heard some very strange noises from behind the wall. He scrambled up to the top of the wall, peeping over carefully, as he didn’t want to frighten whoever was there. It was so unexpected. There in front of him was a huge shoe that seemed to be some kind of house!

‘I know exactly what this is’ Nicky said to himself, ‘It’s the house belonging to the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.’

[Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe]

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe;
She had so many children she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread,
She spanked them all soundly and sent them to bed.

All those strange noises seemed to be coming from a bedroom in the shoe house. Nicky guessed that it must be the children who were crying because they had been punished for no reason at all and sent to bed early. Nicky felt so sorry, not only for all the children, but also for the old woman. He remembered his Mum explaining that she was really a very kind old lady, and the children were orphans who she was looking after as her own. It was obviously very difficult for her to cope with having to look after so many children without any help, and as it was now getting quite dark, he had an idea.

‘Rat a tat’ he knocked on the door.

‘Hello little boy’ said the old woman ‘What’s your name?’ as she opened the door ‘Why! It’s quite dark and getting cold out here, are you on your own?’

 ‘I’m Nicky, and yes I am on my own today’ said Nicky. ‘Usually I would never be out alone after dark without Mum but today I seem to have walked too far and wondered if you would let me stay the night?’

‘Oh you poor thing, of course you can, come in’ said the old woman. ‘If you’re hungry, there’s some broth in the pot, you’re very welcome to a bowl.’

‘No, thank you very much’ said Nicky politely as they walked through into the living room. He was still feeling quite full after eating those three large helpings of Jack’s delicious pie.

Just a glass of water would be very nice please,’ thinking to himself how kind the old woman really was, even to strangers.

‘Yes’ she suddenly said, ‘and you had better stay the night, it wouldn’t be safe for you out there all on your own.’

‘I think I really would be very nervous on my own’ Nicky answered. ‘It’s extremely kind of you to offer, and perhaps you would let me help you out at the same time? I heard the children upstairs in the bedroom, and wondered if you would let me look after them for you tonight?’

The old woman thought it was a wonderful idea and agreed straight away. Of course he would have to sleep in the chair as there was no room in the bed. That suited Nicky down to the ground as he knew that, whatever happened, he had to keep his cloak on, otherwise he would be immediately whisked off back home. Sleeping on the chair meant that he could keep his cloak on in order to keep warm during the night. The old woman was extremely happy. With so many children, it was very hard to keep them occupied and Nicky’s being there would help to do just that. At last, she would have some time to herself, the first for a very long while.
So up to bed he went, snuggling down in the chair with his cloak fastened tightly round him to keep warm. The children had suddenly gone so quiet that you could have heard a pin drop, when a single tiny voice asked ‘will you tell us a story please?’

‘Of course I will’ said Nicky, only too happy to tell them about his adventures. So first of all, Nicky told them about his exciting meeting with Humpty Dumpty and seeing the King and all his men. He was about to tell them about Georgie Porgie, but before he uttered a single word they were so tired out that they had all fallen off to sleep, including Nicky.

The next morning, they all woke up bright and early. As usual in this land of magic, the sun was shining brightly and everything looked... Nicky searched for the right word but had to give up, ‘I suppose “special or perfect” will do’ he thought but it wasn’t quite right.

At breakfast, which Nicky thought was not at all appetising, he watched in amazement as every single one of the children tucked into the gooey porridge with relish.

[Pease Porridge Hot]

Pease porridge hot,
Pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in a pot
Nine days old.
Some like it hot,
Some like it cold,
Some like it in a pot
Nine days old.

Nicky decided that it was time he went on his way, but not before he thanked the old woman for her kindness in allowing him to stay the night and have breakfast with them. He also had a very good idea, and told her about the inn where Little Jack Horner had that huge delicious pie every day. He was sure that there would be plenty left to feed all of her children, and he knew that Jack certainly wouldn’t mind sharing it with them. Once again, the old woman was extremely grateful and told Nicky that he would always be welcome at their house.

‘This really is a wonderland’ Nicky thought as once again he walked briskly down the lane. ‘I’ve met so many very nice people and made such a lot of special friends already.’ Nicky walked on for about another hour. He could only guess the time because, as you know, his watch had stopped working again of course. By now he was really beginning to miss his Mum as, in nursery rhyme land time, he’d been away for a whole day and night. ‘Should I go back home now?’ he thought, ‘No, I’ll just give it a little while longer’ after all, he hadn’t met anyone since leaving the old woman and her children after breakfast that morning.

He checked the map again and yes, he was definitely heading in the right direction, but it really was a long way. On and on he went and, as it all seemed so very quiet he was just about to give up and return home to his bedroom, when suddenly he thought he could see someone in the distance. As he got closer, he instantly knew there was something familiar about the people he could see. ‘Yes I’m sure now. It’s a boy and girl walking up the hill with a bucket.’ Quite used to being in Nursery Rhyme land by now, this time Nicky didn’t have to guess who they were. Of course, he knew it could only be Jack & Jill. ‘Oh No!’ Suddenly Nicky realized that there would be a terrible accident if they continued up the hill, so he started to run quickly up the hill as fast as his legs would go, calling their names.

[Jack and Jill]

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.

Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper.

Then Jill came in, and she did grin,
To see Jack’s paper plaster;
Her mother whipped her across her knee,
For laughing at Jack’s disaster.

As Nicky got closer, Jack and Jill heard his calls and turned round, waiting for him to catch up with them. ‘Thank goodness,’ Nicky was thinking very quickly, ‘If I can get them to help me to look for Georgie Porgie, it could save Jack from having that dreadful fall.’

‘So there it is’ said Nicky ‘that’s the whole story,’ after telling Jack and Jill all about Georgie Porgie. ‘I’m not having any luck so far searching on my own, so I’m hoping that you will help me out.’

‘Well of course we’ll help out’ said Jack ‘But first of all you really need to know the
truth. Georgie Porgie is my twin brother and although he’s always getting into trouble, it’s not his fault.’

‘No, it’s not’ Jill piped in. ‘It’s really all the girls’ fault. They always tease him and threaten to report him to the headmaster if he won’t kiss them again and again. When they were caught kissing in the playground, they all pretended to cry and blamed him and so he ran away frightened. When all the other boys came after him, he just didn’t stop running and no one has seen him since.’

‘Oh! and when we do find Georgie, I would like to report that “Elsie Marley” to the headmaster. I’m sure she’s the one that started it all off in the first place’ said Jack.
‘Elsie Marley’ thought Nicky, I wonder who she is? I can’t remember hearing her name before.’

‘Yes, actually I did know that he was your twin brother’ Nicky said, and he told them briefly about meeting Little Jack Horner at the inn. ‘Right! that’s settled then’ Nicky continued. ‘We had better make a start now if we want to find him before the Grand Old Duke of York does.’

So Nicky, Jack and Jill set off walking up the hill together when suddenly they clearly heard the sound of a bugle. Looking over towards the noise, there in the distance they saw what could only be the Grand Old Duke of York and his ten thousand men charging straight towards them.

[The Duke of York]

Oh, the grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down.

‘Oh my goodness!’ exclaimed Nicky thinking quickly once again. ‘He must have mistaken Jack for Georgie Porgie and wants to capture him. Quick let’s run away and hide before they can catch us.’

Perhaps the right thing to do would have been simply to wait for the Grand Old Duke to catch up with them and explain his mistake. But with the ten thousand men charging towards them, they all just panicked. They spun round on their heels, running off as fast as they possibly could, but then the worst thing imaginable happened. Just a few yards ahead of Nicky, poor Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill went tumbling after him.

‘Oh no!’ Nicky thought, as he ran past them, ‘poor old Jack, it’s all my fault now, and Jill looks badly shaken up.’ Whilst he was thinking, Nicky was trying to stop as quickly as he could. Of course, he should have been looking where he was going, but he was far too worried about Jack and Jill. Suddenly, he tripped as his foot caught in a thick tuft of grass and as he fell, his cloak slipped off his shoulders. Desperately, Nicky managed to grab hold of it before it hit the ground, but without warning, in a tiny “puff” of smoke, he found himself back in his bedroom, with the cloak grasped firmly in his hand.

Nicky was extremely upset. This was the second time that, totally unprepared for it, he had been instantly whisked back to his bedroom. The one positive result of it all was that he now knew without any doubt that in the future, to return home, he simply had to slip the cloak off his shoulders. Automatically he glanced down at his watch and then across to the alarm clock on his bedside table. Yes, they were both now showing exactly the same time and it was just a few minutes after he had left his bedroom to visit Georgie Porgie. Nicky was much happier now, as everything was slipping neatly into place.

Before he went off to bed that night, Nicky remembered to check in the Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes and to his surprise, there it was:

[Elsie Marley]

Elsie Marley is grown so fine,
She won’t get up to feed the swine,
But lies in bed till eight or nine.
Lazy Elsie Marley.




Chapter 4 – The Lost Ring
 

Nicky had worked it all out last night, but to be absolutely sure, this time he went over it all again in his mind. Now, once again, Nicky was at last absolutely positive that he had it all worked out. Open the “Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes” at any page you choose and put it where you can see it in the mirror. Put on the cloak, slip on the ring and that’s it. In an instant you will find yourself in the Land of Nursery Rhymes with the character you chose in the book.

‘Somehow it just doesn’t seem quite right’ Nicky thought, turning it over and over in his mind. ‘What if, yes, what if you didn’t have a mirror?’ he thought. ‘It just didn’t make sense what possible reason could the “Good Wizard” have for making a mirror necessary? Surely he would make it as simple as possible.’

No, he definitely hadn’t got it quite right yet. It was bound to be easy and yet it was certainly far more complicated than he’d first thought. After the problem with Jack and Jill, when the cloak slipped off his shoulders, Nicky wanted to be completely sure that he’d got it all worked out properly this time before his next adventure. ‘When I do work it out, I’ll still have to put it to the test by trying it out anyway’ he thought. The one thing that he was still absolutely certain of was that to return home, he simply had to slip the cloak off his shoulders.

‘Why didn’t I think of that before?’ said Nicky to himself after quite a long time. ‘It’s so obvious. The mirror isn’t important, I just happened to be able to see the book in the mirror the very first time, so the book must be the key. Yes, as long as I can see the page in my book, that’s where I go. So, I open the “Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes” at any page I choose and put it somewhere that I can see it put on the cloak, slip on the ring and that’s it.’ As Nicky was thinking about the ring, he was looking at his finger and noticed the time on his watch. ‘Goodness me’ he thought ‘Mum will be wondering why I’m spending so much time in my bedroom if I don’t go down soon, it’s almost time to go shopping.’

Of course Nicky failed to consider that all those years ago, when the good Wizard had made the cloak and ring, that the “Giant book of Nursery Rhymes” probably didn’t even exist. So had he really worked it out? Also it wouldn’t really have mattered if Nicky had gone back to “Nursery Rhyme Land” before going shopping with Mum as at the end of that adventure, he would have returned home at the very instant he left, which of course is now!

Nicky helped his Mum tidy round the house and peg the washing out on the line so it was almost midday when they went out shopping. As it was so late, and Mum had promised to visit aunt Dora that afternoon, they had lunch out at Nicky’s favourite fish and chip restaurant and then off to aunt Dora’s. Once again, Nicky was greeted with a sloppy kiss and the red wet patch on his cheek but it was worth it. As there were still loads of goodies left over in the refrigerator from his birthday, they stayed over for tea. It was like having a second birthday party, and as before, Nicky finished up “FFTB”. As it was well past his usual bedtime when they arrived back home, it was straight up to the bathroom for Nicky for a quick wash, clean his teeth and then off to bed.

‘It must be nearly midnight’ Nicky thought as he laid in bed unable to sleep. So much had happened in such a short time since his birthday and he just couldn’t get the cloak and ring out of his mind. He still hadn’t tried out his new idea of travelling to the Land of Nursery Rhymes without using the mirror. He’d heard Mum go to bed at least an hour ago and yet sleep just wouldn’t come. ‘Perhaps if I read my book it might help’ he thought. Many times he’d heard aunt Dora tell Mum she always read a book at night as it helped her get off to sleep. He switched on the lamp on his bedside table and picked up the “Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes”.

‘I must have read at least thirty pages and it’s not helped a bit’ Nicky thought sometime later. Suddenly he sat bolt upright in bed ‘Why not?’ he thought. ‘Yes I might as well visit my new friend Jack now, that will kill two birds with one stone as I can try out my new idea. ’The last thing Nicky wanted at this time of night was to disturb Mum. As quiet as a mouse, he slipped out of bed and crossed over to the wardrobe where his cloak was hanging up.
Thankfully the door didn’t make a sound as he opened it to take it out. Once back sitting up in bed, he carefully opened the “Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes” on the “Little Jack Horner” page. He slipped the cloak over his shoulders and said ‘see you in a moment Jack and I wish it could be midday, and not the middle of the night there’ as he looked at the picture of Jack and pushed the ring firmly onto his finger. Once again without warning, he disappeared in a tiny “puff” of smoke.

‘Brilliant’ shouted Nicky almost at the top of his voice with the excitement, ‘it worked,’ as he found himself standing at the bottom of the steps outside the inn where he had first met Jack. ‘It’s just like the last time’ Nicky thought, ‘the sun is shining brightly in the sky, the birds are singing in the trees, and the bees still very busy collecting their honey.’

‘It must be lunch time again, just what I hoped’ he thought as through the small window he could make out Jack Sprat and his wife, who were obviously having another meal. Once again he went up the steps two at a time eager to find out if Jack was there.

After the bright sunlight outside, it took a minute or two for Nicky’s eyes to adjust to the gloomy room, but he still noticed Jack sitting at the same table in the corner where he had been the first time they met. He smiled and said ‘hello’ to Jack Sprat and his wife as he walked past them towards the corner but they were too busy eating their dinner to notice him. Jack however was already on his feet almost running towards him with a big grin on his face. ‘Oh! it’s so good to see you again’ Jack said, shaking his hand vigorously. ‘I don’t have many friends and I was hoping that you would come back one day as you promised. But what a wonderful surprise to see you here so soon.’ Pointing over to the table in the corner he said ‘Please come and share this delicious pie with me and then bring me up to date with your adventure.’

Obviously there was absolutely no way that Nicky’s new friend Little Jack Horner could possibly have known that he had been home since he last saw him. Nicky was still feeling quite full after his fish and chip lunch in town with Mum and the second party tea he had eaten at aunt Dora’s, but he certainly didn’t want to upset Jack by refusing his generous offer.

‘I would love to’ said Nicky secretly hoping that Jack wouldn’t be offended if he only had one helping today. ‘I agree with you, it’s without doubt the best pie I have ever tasted. But yes, I’ve an amazing story to tell you about what’s happened since I left you the other day.’

‘Oh! I just can’t wait’ exclaimed Jack ‘Please tell me all about what happened after you left me, please. We can have the pie afterwards if you don’t mind.’

‘Yes, that’s fine’ said Nicky, ‘I don’t mind at all. Thank goodness for that, I’m sure I’ll enjoy the pie so much more later on’ he thought.

Nicky continued ‘After I left you, I walked on and on until it was almost dark. Suddenly, I heard some very strange noises from behind a wall. When I peeped over the wall, it was a house in the shape of a giant shoe and the noise turned out to be some children crying in the bedroom. The old lady who lived there was a very kind old lady and the children were orphans who she was taking care of as if they were her own.’

Jack was filled with wonder and delight with Nicky’s story. ‘Yes! Go on! Go on…’ he kept saying. When he told him about meeting Jack and Jill, and the truth about Elsie Marley and Georgie Porgy, he could hardly control his excitement. ‘I’ve never heard anything like it’ he said ‘this is so thrilling.’ Then of course came the part where the Grand Old Duke of York and his ten thousand men charged towards them after mistaking Jack for Georgie Porgie.

‘Unbelievable, simply unbelievable. But how on earth did you manage to escape?’ he asked.

Nicky had to think quickly as he still didn’t want to tell Jack about the magic cloak and ring just yet. ‘Well’ he said, ‘I was simply very lucky - after Jack and Jill fell down, I just ran and ran right to the bottom of the hill and into some woods, where I hid. The Grand Old Duke of York and his men didn’t follow me as they seemed only interested in catching Jack who they thought was Georgie Porgie. I don’t know exactly what happened as the last thing I saw was Jack and Jill being taken away by the Grand Old Duke of York and his men.’

Whilst he was talking, Nicky had been absentmindedly twisting the ring round and round on his finger. Although he was listening intently to the story, Jack couldn’t help noticing the ring and suddenly said ‘That looks like a very unusual ring you have there Nicky,’ and holding out his hand said ‘could I have a look at it please?’

‘Of course you can’ Nicky said without thinking, and slipping the ring off his finger, he dropped it into Jacks outstretched hand.

Once again without warning, Nicky disappeared in a tiny “puff” of smoke, leaving Little Jack Horner sitting in the corner clutching the ring tightly in his hand with a look of sheer bewilderment on his face.




Chapter 5 – Oh! What Have I Done?


In the Land of Nursery Rhymes, Jack was left thinking about Nicky’s sudden disappearance. He just couldn’t get it out of his mind, going through all the details over and over again. All there was left of his best friend was the ring that Nicky had passed over to him to look at. ‘What could possibly have happened to him’ he thought. Of course there was absolutely no way that Jack could even imagine in his wildest dreams what had really happened to Nicky.

Nicky however, found himself sitting upright on his bed with the cloak around his shoulders.
‘Oh no! Oh no!...’ he groaned ‘I hope this is just a dream.’ He pinched himself really hard  ‘Ouch ! That hurt’ he said out loud ‘So I am awake and it’s not a dream.’ His eyes jerked down to his finger ‘Oh no!’ he said again as he realised that the ring was nowhere to be seen. ‘Oh ! what have I done now?’

Of course, it was well after midnight again, as Nicky had arrived back in his bedroom at home at exactly the same time as he had left. But what a night it was going to be. It was quite obvious that there was no way that Nicky was going to get any sleep at all, even though by this time he felt absolutely worn out.

This was the end. Nicky realized that there was absolutely no way that he could use the power of the magic cloak without the ring. He’d only finally worked out how the cloak and ring worked together earlier that day. ‘Open the “Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes” at any page I choose and put it somewhere that I can see it. Put on the cloak, slip on the ring and that’s it. But I got it all wrong again’ he thought. Without the ring, it certainly was the end. Tears welled up in Nicky’s eyes and he couldn’t stop himself uncontrollably sobbing his heart out. He fought as hard as he could, forcing himself to be as quiet as possible as the last thing he wanted now was to wake Mum up. It was not that he wanted to keep secrets from her, but he was sure that, even if she believed him, she wouldn’t understand. It was more likely that she would think he’d had a bad dream.


Nine months later……….

‘Are you ready Nicky?’ Mum called up the stairs. As it was Saturday morning, Nicky knew that he was meant to be going shopping but once again just couldn’t face it. Thinking quickly, he said ‘I’ve such a lot of school work to do Mum and we’ve got a test next week. I would prefer to stay at home and get on with it if you don’t mind?’

Mum had been very worried lately as for well over six months Nicky had been behaving in a very strange way. She noticed that unusually he hadn’t read his favourite books or even been to the library for a very long time. At first she thought that Nicky might have had problems at school. There were always stories in the papers and on the television about pupils being bullied, but there were no other obvious signs, and he had assured her that there he had no problems whatsoever at school. It must have been about three months ago when she had gone to the open day at Nicky’s school. His teacher had asked her if he had been poorly and told her that he seemed unable to concentrate now, and his work had deteriorated considerably over recent weeks. Eventually she insisted that he went to see the doctor with her, but after a thorough check up he came away with a clean bill of health. So it was an extremely troubling time.

Even yesterday she had to keep him off school because he’d looked so poorly. As this was the first time that Nicky had apparently shown any real interest in his school work for such a long time, and the weather wasn’t very good as it had snowed quite heavily in the night, Mum called up to him ‘of course you can Nicky, I’ll be back about one for lunch’ and off she went to the shops, feeling a little happier than of late.

Now Mum had gone out shopping, Nicky all but burst into tears. He felt so fed up and miserable. Even after all this time he still couldn’t stop thinking about Jack and the missing ring.

He got up from his chair and walked across his bedroom to the window. ‘I wish I could go back to my birthday and start all over again’ he thought, clearly remembering every detail of that wonderful day. He looked out of his bedroom window towards the castle on the cliff top, but today it was difficult to pick out the main tower as everything was covered in snow that the wind had blown into deep drifts along the castle walls. The harbour below was crowded with small fishing boats sheltering from the gale force winds blowing inland from far across the sea. Just like it was the day of Dad’s accident, now well over two years ago.

One minute he was there in his bedroom all on his own and the next minute his friend Little Jack Horner was totally unexpectedly standing there beside him.

Nicky was simply astounded!




Chapter 6 – The Unexpected Reunion


‘It’s a miracle’ said Jack looking round the room and then staring at Nicky in total astonishment. ‘I just can’t believe this. Where am I?’

“’How? Oh! Gosh! Where on earth did you come from?’ Nicky shouted out almost at the top of his voice and unable to believe his eyes.

‘I don’t know, I mean from home, the inn’ Mumbled Jack, obviously extremely confused.

‘I was there and now I’m here, wherever here is’ he said. ‘Oh! I just don’t understand… but thinking about it, perhaps I’ve disappeared to where you disappeared to. Oh dear, I can’t work it out’ he said, looking totally bewildered and unable to think clearly.

Nicky’s mind was working overtime. Jack obviously knew nothing of the magical powers of the cloak and ring, and he was now certain that he must have got at least some of it wrong yet again, otherwise Jack wouldn’t be here in his room. He knew the magical powers were linked between the two, but how and why had Jack suddenly appeared here? There was only one way to find out. ‘Calm down Jack’ he said in a quiet but firm voice. ‘You’re quite safe and in my home where I live with my Mum. We can easily solve this problem but first of all, I need to know exactly what has happened since I left you so suddenly when you asked to have a look at my ring.’ Nicky clearly remembered slipping the ring off his finger and dropping it into Jack’s hand.

Jack was obviously still extremely very nervous and was anxiously looking all round the room. ‘Well, I just couldn’t believe my eyes’ he said ‘it was amazing. One minute we were there talking happily together and in an instant you had just disappeared. For weeks and weeks I thought about it but I don’t know what happened, nothing made any sense to me. Eventually I just gave up any hope of working it out, hoping that one day you would turn up again.’

‘For a while there has been a very serious problem in Nursery Rhyme Land when things started to disappear. The problem only started two or three months ago and everyone was under suspicion by the Grand Old Duke of York. No one could work it out until today, when the Knave of Hearts was caught stealing the Queens tarts.’ Said Jack.

[The Queen of Hearts]

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer’s day;
The Knave of Hearts
He stole the tarts,
And took them clean away.
The king of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the Knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he’d steal no more.

‘When you suddenly disappeared all those weeks ago I left your ring in the drawer in my table in the corner. At first I was sure that you would soon be back, but time went on and on and I felt that something terrible must have happened to you. When the Knave of Hearts was caught stealing the tarts, I decided that it wasn’t a good idea to leave your ring in the drawer, as anyone could have taken it. All I wanted to do was to keep it safe and sound, and at first I couldn’t work out where to keep it. Suddenly it just came to me that the safest place would be on my own finger and so that’s exactly what I did. I put it onto my finger and without any warning, here I am, in your home.’

‘Anyway, first things first, you must have your ring back’ said Jack as he got hold of the ring to pull it off his finger.

‘Wait! Wait!’ shouted Nicky as he suddenly realised that if Jack took the ring off he would probably instantly disappear just as he had done and go back home to the Land of Nursery Rhymes. But he was just a split second too late. As Jack slipped the ring off his finger, in a tiny bright “flash” of light, Jack disappeared just as quickly as he’d arrived only a few minutes ago. The only sign that he had ever been there was the magic ring, lying on the edge of the bed.

No one in the whole world could have imagined how Nicky was feeling at this moment in time. “Sheer elation” only comes close to the way he felt. The impossible had happened and once again he had both the cloak and the precious ring safely in his possession.

Now of course, Nicky was certainly not upset. He was completely confident that he knew exactly what must have happened, it was so obvious. He had worked it out a long time ago that the good Wizard had made them so that the cloak and ring worked together, remembering that he had been returned to his bedroom when he took off the cloak to use it as a pillow, and also when it had slipped off his shoulders when he was running away from the Grand Old Duke of York. At the time he had still been wearing the ring. So he could only stay in the Land of Nursery Rhymes whilst he was actually wearing both the cloak and the ring. When Jack had put the ring on his finger, the magic in the cloak had pulled him back to it with the ring. Therefore it must be that the ring’s magical power only worked if it was being worn. As soon as he took it off, Jack was whisked back home again. ‘I would even bet that while Jack was away, here with me, time stood still in the Land of Nursery Rhymes.’ Nicky thought, feeling very proud and congratulating himself for his ability to deal so capably with such unusual problems.

It certainly had been extremely complicated to work out, but that was the only answer. ‘At last I’ve definitely got it sorted out now,’ he thought. ‘So, I know how to go back and visit Jack. If I do, and give him the ring to put on his finger, we should both end up back together in my bedroom at home. So that’s what I’ll do and I’ll try it right now.’

Nicky promptly opened the Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes at the page for Little Jack Horner before he crossed over to the wardrobe to get his cloak. He slipped it over his shoulders and was thinking how wonderful everything had turned out now Jack had unexpectedly returned the ring to him. He glanced down at his book thinking ‘I’ll see you in a second Jack’ whilst he pushed the ring onto his finger.

This was just totally unbelievable. Nothing whatsoever had happened, and Nicky was just standing there in his room with his fingers still firmly on the ring, after pushing it onto his finger. ‘Could it be that now Jack has used the ring, it’s somehow stopped working for me?’ he thought. ‘No, that didn’t make any sense whatsoever.’ He racked his brain for a reason but nothing came to him so in desperation he just tried again. Still nothing happened. ‘There just has got to be a logical reason’ he thought. ‘Obviously I must be doing something wrong, but what? What could I have missed out that was absolutely essential for the magic to work?’ Cleverly, he decided that the only way to work it out was to carefully think back on exactly what he had done each time before. Something must be different and the best way to find out what was to write down everything that he could remember.

As you can imagine, it was extremely difficult to remember exactly what had happened on each occasion, and of course writing down everything he remembered seeing and thinking. So it took quite a long time to get it right with crossings out and alterations all over the page. Finally Nicky was almost certain that he remembered it all correctly so now, as it was all complete, he read through it again.

On his first visit, he remembered noticing the book, it was through the mirror, because the sun shone straight onto “Humpty Dumpty” in the “Giant Book Of Nursery Rhymes” that he had left open on his bedside table earlier that morning. He’d often thought how wonderful it would be if he could actually meet the people in person but of course they were only characters in a book. ‘But yes’ he thought ‘It really would be great to actually meet Humpty Dumpty, I really wish I could.’

On the second visit he clearly remembered looking into the mirror at the reflection of the “Georgie Porgie” nursery rhyme, thinking how wonderful it would be if he could be there in person. He remembered thinking ‘Oh I wish I could’ as he pushed the ring firmly onto his finger.

He had then worked out that the mirror wasn’t actually needed for the magic to work. So the last time, he had been sitting up in bed and he had carefully opened the “Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes” on the “Little Jack Horner” page. He slipped the cloak over his shoulders and said ‘see you in a moment Jack and I wish it could be midday, and not the middle of the night there’ as he looked at the picture of Jack and pushed the ring firmly onto his finger.

Reading it all through for a second time, he suddenly stopped, trembling with excitement as he instantly realised that at last he was sure that he had solved the problem once and for all. One single word stuck out like a sore thumb “WISH”. It was the only possible explanation. All Nicky had to do was wish he was with Jack and it was as simple as that.

Nicky looked over at his book just to confirm that it was open at the correct page. The ring was still on his finger from the last attempt to visit Jack, so he slipped the cloak over his shoulders and said aloud ‘Oh how I wish I could be back with Jack now.’ Once again, he felt the same sudden tingling sensation all through his body, which always made him momentarily close his eyes, and Nicky disappeared in a tiny “puff” of smoke. As before, he instantly found himself standing at the bottom of the steps outside the inn.




Chapter 7 – Jack Comes to Visit


This time, Nicky only got as far as the door before Jack was beside him vigorously shaking his hand up and down again. ‘I knew you would be back soon’ he said ‘I just knew it. But I still can’t work out what is happening. Please tell me’ he pleaded.

‘Ok, I agree it’s time that I told you the facts about what is happening’ said Nicky. ‘But you must first swear an oath of secrecy. No one, absolutely no one, must find out what I am about to tell you. ‘He thought about it for a short while and added ‘also it’s very important that you trust me implicitly and do exactly what I say.’

‘Of course I agree Nicky’ Jack said vigorously nodding his head up and down, ‘you are my very best friend and I do give you my word that I’ll never let you down. Whatever you tell me will be our secret forever.’

‘Right’ said Nicky ‘In a moment I’m going to take off my ring and give it to you. You must not be afraid or worry because exactly the same thing will happen as before. I will simply disappear from here and go back to my bedroom at home. When I’ve gone, you must put the ring on your finger again and you will follow me there. I promise that I will explain everything and tell you all about my latest adventures as soon as you get there.’

‘I’m not actually afraid now’ Jack said, as he knew that just a few minutes ago, when he met Nicky in his bedroom, there had been no problems at all. Then, although totally bewildered at what had happened, he had arrived back home in complete safety. ‘I’ll do exactly what you’ve asked, but I must admit that I’m very nervous, even though I’ve just been there with you before.’

Nicky slipped the ring off his finger and dropped it into Jacks outstretched hand and once again instantly disappeared in a tiny “puff” of smoke.

Nicky hardly had time to slip off his cloak before, in the blink of an eye, Jack was standing there beside him in his bedroom. ‘Right’ he said, feeling very satisfied that everything was now working perfectly. ‘Whatever you do, you must not take my ring off again or you will immediately return back home.’ Nicky glanced at the alarm clock on his bedside table, it was almost twelve o’clock. ‘Gosh’ he said aloud, ‘Mum will be back in about an hour so we had better work out what we should tell her about you. She doesn’t know anything about my visits to Nursery Rhyme Land and I don’t feel it’s the right time to tell her just yet. In any case, I’m sure she wouldn’t believe me, she would probably think that I was playing some sort of game with her. I know,’ he said, ‘we’ll just tell her that you are a friend from school and that you phoned me to see how I was, after being off school yesterday. When I told you that I was feeling much better and was doing some school work, you kindly offered to come round to help me with it.’

‘That’s fine by me, whatever you say’ Jack said ‘But I don’t understand. What do you mean “you phoned me” what’s phoned?’

Nicky realised that they were going to have to be very careful as, coming from Nursery Rhyme Land, there were an awful lot of things that Jack had never seen and clearly wouldn’t understand. It was also very important that they didn’t slip up in any way that would cause Mum to think that something else was wrong. He had caused her enough problems over the last nine months and the sooner that was over the better. ‘Right’ he said suddenly feeling extremely apprehensive as he realised that this was going to be very difficult for him and even more so for Jack. ‘For now, I’ll have to concentrate on explaining about some of the exciting things we have here in my time, and I’ll start downstairs with the telephone.’

As Jack followed Nicky round the bed towards the bedroom door, he glanced out of the window. ‘Goodness me!’ he exclaimed ‘what a strange land you live in Nicky. Everything here in your room seems to be quite colourful and normal, but outside - why! it’s just black and white! To me it looks very peculiar, even a bit weird.’

‘Oh I can explain all that’ Nicky said laughing. ‘Usually it’s all bright and colourful but it’s winter time now where we live and in the winter it’s usually very cold. When it rains, the rain sometimes freezes and turns into snow which is very cold, I’ll show you that later on. But although you haven’t seen any, I know you have some snow in Nursery Rhyme Land,’ clearly remembering the rhyme:

[The North Wind Doth Blow]
The north wind doth blow,
And we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then?
Poor thing!
He'll sit in a barn,
And keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing.
Poor thing!

As they went through the door, Nicky automatically switched the light on to go down the stairs. Jack almost jumped out of his skin. Never in all his life had he seen anything like it. It was just like a small sun shining brightly and lighting up the stairway.

‘Please don’t worry about anything you see here’ Nicky said to Jack. ‘I assure you that there is absolutely nothing for you to be concerned about and I can explain everything that you don’t understand. Back home when it gets dark, you would use a candle to help you to see in the dark. The light you see is what we use instead. If you think of a tap in a barrel of ale in your inn, when a customer wants some you turn it on to fill his glass. When we want some light, we switch it on or off like this’ he said pushing the switch up and down at the same time. ‘It all works with electricity, and we have many more things in the house that work using the power of electricity. But first of all, let me show you the phone.’

They walked downstairs and into the lounge. Jack had never seen anything like it in all his life, it was so luxurious. ‘Nicky and his Mum must be very wealthy people’ he thought.

‘This is the phone’ Nicky said, picking up a strange object that had been resting in a peculiar stand. ‘These are buttons, and the green one switches it on like this’ he said pushing it with his finger. ‘Listen’ he said, holding the phone to Jack’s ear.

All Jack could hear was a strange buzzing sound like a huge bee. ‘I still don’t understand what you mean by “you phoned me”’ he said.

‘I’m sorry’ said Nicky, ‘That buzzing means that its switched on. To speak to someone you first have to switch it on, a bit like the light on the stairs. You then connect to the phone in their house; like this’ he said as he dialled aunt Dora’s number. The buzzing had changed to another strange noise and Jack jumped as suddenly a voice said ‘Hello, Dora here.’

‘Oh ! I’m sorry aunt Dora’ Nicky said, ‘I must have dialled your number by mistake, I really am sorry.’

‘Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter Nicky’ said aunt Dora ‘See you soon, bye for now.’

‘Bye aunt Dora’ Nicky said and then put the phone back onto it’s stand.

‘That’s it’ Nicky said. ‘Using the phone we can talk to almost anyone in the whole wide world, as long as they also have one. But look at this’ he said as he picked op the remote control and switched the television on.

Jack got the shock of his life. He’d already seen the most amazing things he could imagine but this beat the lot. He rushed over to the television and checked the back and both sides.
‘How, Wow! How did those little people get in there?’ he said, ‘this is amazing.’

‘Don’t get so excited’ said Nicky, now trying to calm Jack down, ‘they’re not real people. Look at this’ he said as he picked the photograph standing on the mantelpiece. ‘This is a photo of Mum, Dad and me taken when I was very young. It’s a bit like the painting of the king that I saw on the wall in the inn where you live. The television is like that in a way, but the pictures move just like real life. Look, think of it this way. If you read a book, it tells you a story. The television tells you the story in pictures. To tell you the truth, I don’t even understand how it actually works, but just like the light, it uses electricity. I only know how to switch it on and off and change the channel, like this’ and he changed the channel several times to show Jack before finally switching it off.

‘Just try to remember what I tell you about electricity. Most things that we use need it to work. The lights and television as you know. Mum also uses it to cook our food. Do you remember me telling you how cold the snow was that you saw from the bedroom window?’ Jack nodded his head ‘Well, we even use electricity to keep our house warm in the winter when it’s very cold outside, but I don’t really know how that works either. Again, I just know how to switch it on or off. Mum said I must never mess around with it at all because it can be very dangerous and could even kill you, it’s so powerful.’

‘Gosh!’ Nicky said, ‘just look at the time’ as he glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece. ‘Mum will be home any minute. I can’t possible show you everything, there isn’t time, but in any case it would be impossible for you to remember it all. Look, the best thing to do is if Mum asks you anything you don’t understand, I’ll answer for you and you just nod your head as if you understand and agree with what I’ve said. That will have to do for now.’ Jack simply nodded his head to show that he agreed with what Nicky had said and hoped that he wouldn’t let him down.

‘Ok.’ Nicky said as he heard the front door open and close as Mum came into the hall.

‘Hi Mum, I bet you’re glad to be in out of the cold.’ Nicky said as she came into the room.
‘This is Jack, my best friend from school. He phoned me just after you left to see how I was and offered to come round and help me with my schoolwork.’

‘Hello, I’m very pleased to meet you. I’m Jack Horner’ he said.

‘Hello Jack, it’s very nice to meet you as well’ Mum said. ‘I’m just going to make lunch for us, would you like to stay and have some with us, or does your Mum expect you home?’

‘No, that’s great Mum, of course he’ll stay’ Nicky piped in. ‘Before he left home he asked if he could stay out until tea time so I’d already asked him to have lunch with us.’ Nicky had quickly thought it all out. Just before teatime, Jack could take off the ring and give it back to him, which would send him back home to the inn. The next morning, he could go back to Jack’s and they could decide whether to stay there for the day, or both return to his bedroom exactly as they had done earlier today. So they could continue where they left off whatever they decided.

Nicky’s Mum couldn’t have been more pleased. She had been worrying about Nicky for such a long time, but today he seemed more like his usual self. Jack coming round seemed to have worked wonders and what a nice polite boy he was she thought.

After lunch they helped Mum with the washing up and once again Jack was very surprised when hot water came out of what looked like a kind of tap with a red top. He also guessed, quite cleverly, that cold water would come out of the other one with the blue top. It certainly was a wonderful place that he found himself in with his new friend. After they had finished, Nicky said ‘do you mind if we go out for about an hour Mum? Then we’ll come back and sort out some schoolwork before Jack has to go home.’

That’s fine Nicky,” Mum said ‘but make sure that you wrap up nice and warm as it’s bitterly cold outside, I’ll see you later Bye.’

As soon as they stepped a foot outside, Jack wanted to examine the snow. It was very strange. When you touched it, it felt very soft, but where it had been walked on it went as hard as stone. Nicky told him how they used to make a snowman, and how to make snowballs that they threw at each other in a strange game. It really was extremely cold and after a few minutes his fingers tingled and turned blue and white.

Nicky almost jumped out of his skin when suddenly Jack shouted out at him ‘Oh my goodness what are they?’ as they went through the gate onto the footpath. ‘I’ve never seen monsters like them before.’ He was pointing excitedly at the traffic moving slowly up and down the icy road.

Jack couldn’t help laughing out loudly. ‘You really must trust me when you’re here,’ he said ‘Do you remember me telling you about Humpty Dumpty and the King riding in his beautiful gold coach? Well, here we don’t need horses to pull our coaches now. Long before I was born, even before my Dad was born, a very clever man worked out a way for them to pull themselves. I promise I’ll take you for a ride in one called a bus when the weather is better.’

‘Gosh!’ exclaimed Nicky glancing down at his watch, ‘Doesn’t time fly?’

Jack looked up to the sky, wondering what an earth Nicky meant. ‘How can time possibly fly?’ he Mumbled, ‘I’m finding it even more confusing than ever now.’

Once again, Nicky couldn’t help bursting out laughing ‘I’m sorry Jack’ he giggled, ‘It’s just a way we have to say that time seems to be going by faster than normally. When you are enjoying yourself, it always seems to “fly-by”. I told Mum that we would only be out for about an hour and we’ve been much longer than that, so I think we should go in and sort out that schoolwork we told Mum about.’

Once back in Nicky’s bedroom, he could see quite clearly that Jack was starting to get very worried about something. ‘Come on Jack, there’s obviously something troubling you. Is it anything I can help with?’

‘I hope so Nicky’ Jack said. ‘I’m really worried that if I stay here much longer my Mum and Dad will miss me and what can I possibly tell them when they want to know where I’ve been all this time?’

‘Please don’t worry about that’ Nicky said as he remembered that he had faced the same problem when he had suddenly found himself back in his bedroom, after meeting Humpty Dumpty on his first visit to Nursery Rhyme Land. ‘I promise you that you have absolutely nothing to worry about. I know that it sounds utterly unbelievable, but when you are here with me, time actually stands still back in Nursery Rhyme Land. It’s very strange I know, but exactly the same happens here when I visit you. When I return home it’s exactly the same time as when I left, so it’s just as if I’d never been away. That’s another reason that this must be our secret. We must never let anyone else know about the ring and it’s magic powers.’

Although Nicky felt that he could completely trust his new best friend, he decided that this was not the time to tell him anything about the magic cloak. For now, it was best that he alone knew the secret of how the cloak and ring worked together.

‘Where! How! Nicky, that’s a picture of me’ Jack exclaimed excitedly pointing to the Giant book of Nursery Rhymes, which was still lying open on the bedside table. Once again, Nicky had to think very quickly, but as usual he managed to come up with a believable solution. ‘Well’ he said, ‘the magic ring that brought you here to me, was made by a Good Wizard, so that he could easily travel wherever he chose to go. On his travels in the Land of Nursery Rhymes, he must have written this book to record the wonderful adventures he had and the people he met.’

Jack was still looking at the book, nodding his head up and down. ‘Now I understand’ he said, but he must also have been an extremely clever wizard. But I still can’t believe that, however powerful he was, he could really make time stand still. I’m sure that Mum and Dad are going to be very worried about me by now.’

‘Right, I don’t want you to worry anymore’ said Nicky as he glanced down at his watch.
‘We told Mum that you had to be home for teatime. So as it’s getting dark already and its quite late, perhaps it’s best if you go back home now. I’ll tell Mum that you’re leaving, and I’m walking to the end of the road with you and I’ll be back in a few minutes. Then I’ll meet you back at the inn tomorrow, and possibly we could try to find out what has happened to Georgie Porgie since he went missing.’

So that’s exactly what they did. Just round the corner from Nicky’s house shaded from the streetlight under a large conifer hedge, Jack slipped off the ring into Nicky’s outstretched hand. In a tiny bright “flash” of light, Jack disappeared from sight and Nicky knew that he was already safely back home with his Mum and Dad at the inn in “Nursery Rhyme Land”.




Chapter 8 – The Chase


Nicky was quite cross with himself. Yes, it had been late when he went to bed as he’d stayed up chatting to Mum when she had asked him about his new friend Jack. Of course he realised that his Mum was so much happier now, when so unexpectedly he seemed to be almost back to his normal self, and of course it was quite natural for her to want to know all about Jack. Fortunately she had fully understood when he said that he was very tired and did she mind if he went off to bed. When he eventually got to bed, at least an hour later than his normal bedtime, he had found it very difficult to get off to sleep. Yesterday had been quite a day to say the least. So much had happened that he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He could still hardly believe that now he had both the cloak and the ring safe and sound. He felt the ring which was quite secure on his finger and knew that the cloak was where he always kept it, hanging up in his wardrobe. It seemed like hours later when he had finally dropped off to sleep.

So instead of the early start that Nicky had promised himself, it was almost midday when he finally met Jack at the inn. Jack was extremely excited as he had lots of news for him. First of all, the bad news was that Georgie Porgie was still missing. After all this time no one had seen neither “hide nor hair” of him. Georgie’s mother, who was a very good friend of his Mum, had called in to ask if she could put up a missing persons poster in the inn, just in case one of their visitors had happened to see him on their travels. But up to now no one had come forward with any information and it was a complete mystery where he could be hiding out.

‘I’m more worried than ever about Georgie Porgie now’ Nicky said. After having to hide from the Grand Old Duke of York for such a long time he must be quite desperate by now. Especially as he was blamed for something he hadn’t done by that Elsie Marley. Look! I know where Jack and Jill live.’ He remembered seeing them for the first time going up the hill to fetch a pail of water, and as a full pail would be very heavy, their home must be close by. ‘Do you think it would be a good idea if we went over there and offered to help look for him?’

Jack nodded his head vigorously knowing that it was quite a challenge to pit their wits against the Grand Old Duke of York, and of course, it was certain to be very exciting. ‘Yes, that’s a great idea’ he said ‘but I’d better ask Mum first as it’s quite a long way and we may have to stay overnight, but I’m sure she won’t mind.’

‘But of course I don’t mind’ Jacks Mum said ‘I think it’s extremely generous of Nicky to offer to try to find Georgie Porgie. As you know, his mother is one of my best friends and I know she will be delighted for you to stay overnight. She is frightfully worried and will be so grateful for your help.’

So without delay, they set off on their way to see Jack and Jill. It was quite a long way to their cottage, but the time seemed to pass very quickly, as Jack couldn’t stop talking about his visit to Nicky’s home. On and on he chattered. He just couldn’t get over that wonderful snow, the electric light, telephone, television and of course the traffic on the road outside. What a wonderfully exciting world Nicky lived in.

Suddenly Nicky came to an abrupt stop, grabbing hold of Jack’s arm as he heard an all too familiar but dreaded noise. For the second time, he clearly hear the sound of a bugle and looking over in that direction, once again, there was the Grand Old Duke of York and his ten thousand men charging towards them.

Once again, the best thing to do would have been to wait for the Grand Old Duke to catch up with them, and try to explain his mistake. But it was quite a frightening sight to see ten thousand men charging towards you, they both just panicked. ‘Oh no! not again’ Nicky shouted. ‘You carry on in that direction to Jack and Jill’s and I’ll go the opposite way and see if I can lead them away from you.’

Nicky ran as fast as his legs would carry him. Halfway down the hill, he’d noticed a large wood that stretched as far as he could see. ‘I’m sure that if I can get into the wood before they catch up with me, I’ll be safe’ he thought. He could hear the horses hooves pounding on the ground, louder and louder as they got nearer and nearer to him. Someone was shouting at the top of his voice telling him to stop, but Nicky clearly remembered what had happened the last time he had been chased by the Grand old Duke of York and his men. Poor Jack had fallen down and broken his crown and what a nasty fall Jill had had as well.

By this time, Nicky was just entering the wood, with the horsemen only a few yards behind him. ‘Thank goodness it’s far too thick for the horses to enter’ he thought ‘but there’s no way that I can slow down. ‘He remembered that the last chase ended when he’d suddenly tripped as his foot caught in a thick tuft of grass. He’d almost lost the magic cloak when he’d been unexpectedly whisked off back home.

The trees and undergrowth got thicker and thicker and the sky darker and darker until he could hardly see. Suddenly his cloak got tangled up in some of the bushes and once again, he had to be quick to pull it back tightly around his shoulders before it was torn from his body. By now, he was desperately gasping for breath and his heart was beating so fast it was a miracle it didn’t burst. But at last Nicky couldn’t hear any noises from the chasing Duke of York’s men. Of course with ten thousand men after him, he was still sure that it wasn’t safe to stop and rest just yet.

On and on he went until suddenly he realised that it was getting lighter. Nicky stopped abruptly, listening intently for any sound of pursuit, but all he could hear were the birds singing in the trees. ‘What a relief’ he thought, ‘it certainly looks as if I’ve managed to lose the Duke’s men but I must be extremely careful from now on.’ Just ahead of him the trees started to thin out. Instinctively he headed towards the brightest light and there it was, a vast clearing in the trees bathed in bright sunshine. As he left the safety of the trees, he squinted his eyes automatically in the bright light and it’s warmth made him feel quite relaxed. There in the centre was an enormous pile of rocks with thick overgrown bushes and tall grass growing around the base. ‘Thank goodness’ Nicky thought as he instantly realised that at last he could stop for a rest and hide here for the time being. Picking his way very carefully through the bushes and undergrowth, as he got closer, he spotted what appeared to be a small cave-like opening at the bottom which had been hidden from sight by the bushes. It seemed to be just perfect and so he cautiously tiptoed inside. ‘Thank goodness for that’ he thought as his eyes got used to the gloom and he saw that he was inside quite a large cave where he could safely hide from the Duke of York’s men. Someone must have been there before, as on the floor he noticed several old planks of wood which he carefully propped up to cover the opening, securing them with some of the large stones that were lying around. Feeling quite worn out by now, Nicky laid down on the floor and after making sure that the cloak was securely fastened, he dropped off into a sound sleep.

Why Nicky simply didn’t take off the magic ring and instantly be whisked off back to the safety of his bedroom back at home, we’ll never know. Perhaps in the heat of the moment, once again he’d simply panicked and run away as fast as his legs would carry him. At the time it seemed the best thing to do. Perhaps this time in the back of his mind he felt he really must help Georgie Porgie. Who knows?

Nicky just couldn’t work out where he was or what was happening to him. It certainly was a very strange experience and he suddenly realised that he was flying through the air. He was high above the dark forest and seemed to be going far too fast. Hearing a strange noise behind him he looked round to find that he was being chased by what seemed to be a huge cloud of large black birds. Trying to go even more quickly to escape, his cloak was ripped from his shoulders by the force of the wind and he felt himself falling faster and faster towards the trees below.

Everything went black and what seemed like an eternity later Nicky stirred. ‘Rat-tat-tat.’ Someone or something was knocking at the door. Then it was even louder, ‘knock-knock-knock.’ Now it was ‘Bang-Bang-Bang.’


[Someone Came Knocking]
Someone came knocking
At my wee, small door;
Someone came knocking
I’m sure-sure-sure;
I listened, I opened,
I looked to left and right,
But nought there was a-stirring
In the still dark night;
Only the busy beetle
Tap-tapping in the wall,
Only from the forest
The screech owl’s call,
Only the cricket whistling
While the dewdrops fall,
So I know not who came knocking,
At all, at all, at all.

Nicky woke up with a sudden start and found himself standing just outside the cave. He was sure he had heard someone knocking at the door and he’d come out to see who it was. But of course there was no door, only the planks of wood now lying on the ground by his feet. There securely fastened around his shoulders was the magic cloak, exactly as it was when he’d dropped off to sleep. “ What a relief ” he thought as he was sure that somehow he had lost it. ‘Of course!’ he thought, ‘I must have been dreaming, or more likely it was a nightmare.’

‘I hope Jack made it safely to the cottage yesterday,’ he thought, as he recalled what had happened when they split up after noticing that they were being chased. Should I go home?’ he thought, thinking of the safety of his bedroom. The sun was just starting to peep it’s head over the trees at the edge of the clearing. He carefully looked around listening intently for any sound but all he could hear was the slightest breeze gently rustling the leaves in the tall trees. ‘No. They must have given up searching for me by now and after the way they keep chasing me, it’s even more important than ever that I help to clear Georgie Porgie’s name.’

And so, with even more determination than ever. Nicky set off for Jack and Jill’s house. This time cautiously picking his way back through the trees and undergrowth with the greatest of care.




Chapter 9 – Alive and Well


It must have been well over two hours later when Nicky eventually saw Jack and Jill’s cottage. As he reached the brow of yet another hill, there it was, down in the valley by the stream. He had of course been extremely careful this time, frequently glancing round over his shoulders as he certainly didn’t want to be caught out unawares.

He was barely halfway down the hill when suddenly both Jack and Jill came rushing out of the front door and up the hill towards him. Normally, they didn’t have many visitors, but yesterday the Grand Old Duke of York had arrived with only about five hundred of his ten thousand men and, of course, Little Jack Horner from the inn. Jack had told them how Nicky had once again managed to escape deep into the woods, and that the Duke had ordered over nine thousand of his men to continue searching the woods for him. Once they had finished telling Jack and Jill the complete story about what had happened that day, and of course how they had eventually found Georgie Porgie, they left to meet up with the rest of his men and to take Jack back home to the inn, as he was far too nervous to travel back on his own.

Naturally, Jack and Jill had half expected Nicky to find his way there if he had successfully continued to hide from the Duke. So they had kept peering through the window and suddenly, there he was. Nicky of course was also extremely excited after his latest but quite frightening adventure. He was feeling quite hot and thirsty after his long walk from deep in the woods, so he drank three full glasses of lemonade made with cool fresh water from the well, before they finally sat down to exchange stories.

‘Well!’ said Jack. ‘It’s extremely complicated and a very long story. But first of all, I think I’d better start off when we first met, and Jill and I fell down the hill. If you remember, we were running away like mad, when Jill and I had a terrible fall. We had no idea what had happened to you but were really pleased that you had managed to escape. I was so dizzy that I couldn’t stand up properly and Jill wasn’t feeling much better either, so the Grand Old Duke of York caught us quite easily. Eventually he finally believed that I really wasn’t Georgie Porgie and he brought us back home to Mum. When I was asked about you, I told him that you were a friend, helping to find my brother.’

Jack continued, and explained that when Nicky saw the Grand Old Duke of York and his men yesterday, he had immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion again. Nicky had thought that they were chasing after him because they had seen him with Jack and Jill the first time, when they thought that Jack was Georgie Porgie.

As it happened, the Grand Old Duke of York had some really good news, and was calling in to see Jack & Jill with their Mum, on his way home. After such a long search, they had finally managed to track down Georgie Porgie and get to the bottom of the problem. When he’d spotted Nicky and Jack heading in the same direction he instantly recognised Nicky and Little Jack Horner from the inn, and guessed that they, too, were probably on their way to see Jack and Jill and their Mum. Of course he remembered seeing Jack, Jill and Nicky fall down the hill. But in the confusion when they were helping Jack and Jill after their very nasty falls, Nicky had simply disappeared, and they had been unable to find him.

‘So’ Jack continued, ‘what had happened to Georgie Porgie and where on earth had he been hiding for such a long time? Well, when he ran away from school, he was very frightened. He was absolutely sure that no one would believe that it was all the fault of that Elsie Marley. Especially when all the girls had blamed him and all the boys had even chased after him when he ran away. ”

‘Poor Georgie’ Nicky thought as the tale unfolded. The Duke had told them that he ran and ran, until he could hardly take another step. As it was getting dark, he headed for an old barn that he’d spotted, hidden from a farmhouse by some tall trees. He cautiously climbed in through an open window and had dropped off to sleep in a pile of hay. When he woke up, it was the middle of the night and Georgie was starving and extremely thirsty. Very carefully, walking on tiptoe, as he certainly didn’t want to disturb anyone in the farmhouse, he walked around the barn. He couldn’t believe his luck, just round the corner, he found a cattle trough by the side of a well, where he quenched his thirst. His luck held, as just behind the barn he discovered a huge orchard crammed full of fruit trees and so he was able to satisfy his hunger with several apples and pears.

Being scared stiff of getting caught, Georgie crept back into the barn and sat down on the pile of hay to make his plans. He worked out that there would be less chance of being caught if he travelled during the night and rested during the day when everyone was about. So that’s exactly what he did until he was many miles from home and felt quite safe. As it was almost morning, he stayed exactly where he was before setting off on his long journey the next night.

For almost three weeks Georgie stuck to his plan, until at last he felt that it was safe for him to show himself during the day. Once again, luck was with him when, a few days later, he was offered a little job helping out cleaning and sweeping up in the local inn. This was really great as he was given his own little room and meals thrown in.

It must have been about three or four months later, when, one evening, as Georgie was sitting down warming himself by the open fire, he just happened to overhear a group of men who were sitting round the next table, chatting as they enjoyed their drinks. He noticed from their clothes that about half of them were soldiers from the army and the rest obviously sailors in the navy.

‘What a wonderful life it is, full of fun and adventure’ said one of the soldiers. ‘Three good meals a day and plenty of money to spend. There’s nothing to beat it.’

‘I don’t agree’ said two of the sailors at the same time. ‘The navy’s simply got to be the best. We get to see the whole wide world as well’ they said.

‘No! I can’t stand all that bobbing up and down on the sea’ said the soldiers all together ‘it makes me sick.’

‘Were all lucky’ they chimed in unison ‘I wouldn’t swap with anyone.’

A plan was already starting to form in Georgie’s mind. Why shouldn’t he join the army or the navy? Ok, it was a very long way to Seatown where the army barracks were and the navy fleet was based, but what an opportunity. Of course, he desperately missed his brother and sister, Jack and Jill, and of course Mum. But he was still far too afraid of the Grand Old Duke of York to risk going home. Georgie had made up his mind and immediately decided to leave for Seatown the next morning, so off he went to tell the innkeeper.

Once again, Georgie was off on his travels. Over the last few months he felt his luck had changed and he no longer had to keep looking over his shoulder. So this time he felt much better with himself. He was now on his way to Seatown to start a new life. At first he couldn’t make up his mind between the army and the navy but after remembering what the soldiers and sailors had said, he decided to try the navy first. After all, if his luck held, he would then be safely away at sea, well out of reach of the Grand Old Duke of York.

[Army and Navy]

These doggies three, as you can see,
Are members of the Queen’s Armee;
"Of all the lives," said they, "to lead,
A soldier’s life’s the best indeed!"

They stood at ‘tention, stiff as starch,
Till Corporal Pincher cried, "Quick march!"
They drilled so well , they were all three,
A credit to the Queen’s Armee!

They had for friends, as you can see,
Three sailors in the Queen’s Navee.
"We sail," said they, "the ocean blue,
And we can dance a hornpipe too!"

With soldiers bold and sailors true,
I feel the country’s safe, don’t you?
No danger now need be expected
Because we are so well protected.

Oh dear! Georgie’s luck had changed again. First of all, he was turned down by the navy. They said that he was far too young to sign up for himself. They would only take him on as a cabin boy if his parents would sign for him, which was impossible. So then he applied for the army and that’s where his troubles really started. Of course Georgie had absolutely no idea that the Grand Old Duke of York would have sent out his description, with orders to detain him, to all of the army units throughout the land, but that’s exactly what he had done. So when he went along to apply to join the army, that was that. Georgie found himself locked up while the captain in charge sent for the Duke.

Of course the story was even far more complicated than that however. When the Duke originally caught Jack and Jill, and he finally accepted that Jack was Georgie’s twin brother, they told him what had really happened at school with Elsie Marley and the other girls. How Georgie had been so afraid of the headmaster and the other boys that he had run away from home, and how worried they all were for him. The Duke was so concerned about the possible injustice that he decided to investigate the matter for himself, so he arranged a meeting with the headmaster. The girls were then called in and interviewed one by one. By now, they all felt so ashamed of what they had done, blaming themselves for what had happened. Each in turn confirmed that Georgie was innocent, all of them except Elsie Marley who had suspiciously been away from school, ill, since Georgie had run away.

The Duke was very relieved when, after such a long time, he finally got the message that Georgie had been caught and was being detained as he’d requested. Bright and early the very next morning, he set off with his men to Seatown to sort everything out.

Georgie was terrified when the guard came in and told him that the Duke had finally arrived. He just couldn’t imagine how he would be punished as he was taken up the stairs to the captain’s office. It was therefore a complete surprise when he was asked if he would like a chocolate bar and some lemonade as he was invited to sit down next to the Duke. What a relief. He could hardly believe his ears as the Duke told him about his investigation, and that he had been completely cleared of all blame. Everyone, the Duke himself, the headmaster and of course all of the girls, couldn’t do enough to make up for the way he had suffered since running away from school.

Georgie was “over the moon”. On the long journey back home with the Grand old Duke of York and his ten thousand men, he told him all about his adventures. When the Duke realised that he was quite serious about joining the army, he had offered him a job immediately. He was so impressed with the way he had looked after himself and overcome so many problems. As long as his Mum agreed, he would join the Duke’s army to train as a junior officer.

It was on the last leg of their journey home, when the Duke had spotted Nicky with little Jack Horner apparently on their way to Georgie Porgie’s house. Naturally they tried to attract their attention and catch up with them, not only to tell them the good news, but also to offer them a ride on one of the spare horses.

Nicky clearly remembered grabbing hold of Jack’s arm as once more he heard the sound of that bugle. There again was the Grand Old Duke of York and his ten thousand men charging towards them. Nicky had thought that he’d been very fortunate to escape from the Duke again. Now he realised that he could have avoided those terrible experiences in the woods, and vowed never to jump to conclusions again in the future.

‘So that’s the whole story’ Jack said. ‘Yes, but wasn’t it exciting’ Jill piped in again. ‘We were all so worried about Georgie Porgie and now simply everything has turned out for the best. Mum agreed straightaway that he could join the army and they left straight after tea as they wanted to see if the men had found you. Little Jack Horner went with them as he thought that he would be too frightened to go home alone.’

‘Well, what an adventure this has turned out to be’ Nicky thought. But as aunt Dora always said ‘Alls well that ends well.’ Jack and Jill and their Mum were happy now that Georgie Porgie was safe and well. Georgie was away happily beginning his training in the Dukes army. ‘And me’ he thought, ‘after so much excitement and all I went through last night, I’m shattered.’

‘Well would you?’ Jill was saying.

‘Sorry’ Nicky said, ‘I was just thinking how wonderfully well everything had turned out. Would I what?’

‘Mum called to ask
you if you would like a piece of chocolate cake and another glass of lemonade’ she said.
‘Oh yes please’ Nicky said, ‘that would be very nice as I’ll soon have to set off back to the inn and it will help me on my way.’

About half an hour later, after thanking them for their hospitality, Nicky said his goodbyes to Jack, Jill and their Mum. He really was feeling quite tired as he knew that although time stood still at home when he was away, it was well over twenty four hours since he had met Little Jack Horner back at the inn. Within a few minutes, when he was certain that he was completely out of sight, Nicky carefully slipped the ring off his finger. Once again without warning, Nicky disappeared in a tiny “puff” of smoke, instantly finding himself back in his bedroom.

As he took off the cloak to hang it in the wardrobe, he happened to notice that the label with the riddle on it was hanging on by a single thread. ‘Of course’ he thought, ‘that must have happened when I was chased into the woods by the Duke’s men.’ He remembered exactly how frightening it had been when the trees and undergrowth got thicker and thicker and the sky darker and darker until he could hardly see. Yes, that’s when all of a sudden, his cloak got tangled up in some of the bushes and he had to be quick to pull it back tightly around his shoulders before it was torn from his body. Just the thought of that long scary night sent shivers down his spine.

Finally, Nicky hung up his cloak and popped the label into a drawer for safe keeping. It gave him a really great feeling, knowing that now he had both the cloak and the ring safe and sound. He felt the ring which was again quite secure on his finger and knew that the cloak was where he just left it, hanging up in his wardrobe. ‘Life is good, no it is very good’ he thought as he slipped back into bed and immediately dropped off into a deep sleep.




Chapter 10 – The Final Chapter, Or Is It?


It was several days later when Nicky finally got rid of that tired out feeling. At school, all was back to normal and he was working really hard again. Everyone, the headmaster, his teacher and especially his Mum and aunt Dora were so pleased that things were going so well. Of course Nicky thought it would have been great to spend a lot more of his time with Jack, but knew that it would be far too tiring. So for now, he decided that he would only go at the weekends. Preferably on a Saturday so that he could have a lie in on the Sunday to recover his strength.

When Saturday eventually came round, Nicky could hardly wait for Mum to go out shopping. She was quite surprised when he said that he’d decided to stay at home as he had loads of schoolwork to do, especially as she was going to aunt Dora’s for lunch again. Finally she went into the hall to get her coat and off she went to the shops with a ‘see you soon Nicky’ and a peck on his cheek.

Controlling his impatience, Nicky waited for a full five minutes before finally rushing upstairs to his bedroom. As he now always kept the ring on his finger for safekeeping, he went straight over to the wardrobe to get the cloak before crossing over to the bedside table to open his “Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes” at the page for “Little Jack Horner”. As he looked at the book, wishing that he could be with him once again, he slipped the cloak over his shoulders.

Nicky looked around him in alarm. Nothing whatsoever had happened. No tiny puff of smoke, no sudden tingling sensation through his body! No inn!! Absolutely nothing had changed!!! By this time Nicky was feeling very frustrated. It seemed like every time he tried to use the magic power of the cloak and ring, something went wrong. How could it be? What could possibly have gone wrong this time?

Once again, Nicky had no idea what could have happened, after all, he had the cloak, the ring and the book, which was open at the right page. In desperation he racked his brains trying to work out what was different from before. Even though he had eventually proved them wrong, he tried all of the different ways right from the first time it had worked when, just as he tried the ring on his finger, a bright ray of sunshine came through the bedroom window, shining  onto Humpty Dumpty in the Giant Book Of Nursery Rhymes on his bedside table. So he tried looking at the book through the mirror at the Humpty Dumpty page, again nothing happened. He tried again at the page for Little Jack Horner, thinking how much he wished to be with Jack, but again nothing at all happened.

Nothing and nothing, yet nothing. By now, he was feeling completely helpless and desperate. He tried everything he could think of, with dozens of different nursery rhymes but nothing happened. He tried putting the ring and cloak on in a different order, using the book both with and without the mirror. Sometimes he wished and others he didn’t. He tried using a different nursery rhyme and then even tried it without opening the book, but it was hopeless. What a problem. Eventually it came to him that perhaps the magic only worked for a certain number of times and he’d used it all up. It really seemed that obvious. Whatever the reason why the magic had stopped, there was absolutely nothing whatsoever that he could do about it.

As you know, Nicky was a very bright boy. When the magic had stopped working before when, without thinking, he had slipping the ring off his finger and dropped it into Jack’s hand, it had all been his own fault. That had been a really bad time as he’d blamed himself over and over again for his misfortune. This time however it was completely different. He was certain that there was no way that he could have been responsible for the problem. So Nicky just thought how lucky he had been to work out the secret of the magic cloak and ring in the first place. Ok, sometimes it had been very scary but what a fantastic adventure he’d had and such wonderful people he had met on his travels.

Glancing down at his watch he saw that, although it seemed like an eternity since his Mum had gone shopping, barely an hour had actually passed. ‘I will get over this’ he thought, and his thoughts took him way back in time when his Dad had gone missing. That was the worst thing he could remember in his whole life, but Mum always told him to only remember the good times. ‘Yes, I was lucky, it was great fun and as with Dad, I’ll never forget the good times’ he thought.




Chapter 11 – Mum To The Rescue?


Nicky was upstairs in his bedroom sorting out some of his old clothes in the huge chest of drawers by the window. He had grown so much over the last year or so that Mum had spent a small fortune buying him new ones. Mum always asked him to give her anything that was too small for him and she took them to the charity shop to help out less fortunate people.

It was now well over a year since the cloak had suddenly lost it’s magic powers. This time of course it was completely different and they had obviously gone forever. At first, he’d tried to visit Jack every day but it always ended in failure. For many months he’d still tried most weeks without success. By now, he didn’t hold out much hope at all and the cloak was just hung up in the wardrobe, out of sight and out of mind. It was like a torch when the battery was worn out he thought, no matter how many times you switched it on, it wouldn’t work. As a reminder of the great adventures he’d had in the Land of Nursery Rhymes and the good times with Jack, he wore the ring permanently. But of course now, it had no magical powers.

As he took out the last two shirts for Mum, he suddenly noticed something small, crushed up and pushed into the corner of the drawer. He recognised it immediately. It was the label that had come loose from his cloak and he remembered putting it into the drawer for safe keeping. He took it out with care, smoothing out the creases with his fingers. ‘It’s such a shame’ he thought, ‘I really must ask Mum if she will sew it back into the cloak.’

‘Yes! I’ll do it now’ he said to himself as he crossed over to the wardrobe to get the cloak.

‘Mum, here are the clothes for the charity shop’ he said as he put them into the cardboard box at the side of the sewing machine. ‘By the way, the label with the riddle on it has come out of my cloak, can you sew it back in please?’ he asked.

‘Of course I will, I’ll do it now before I go out’ she said and within a few minutes, there it was safely sewn back inside the cloak.

Nicky took his cloak from Mum’s outstretched hand and went back up into his bedroom to put it away in the wardrobe. He couldn’t resist slipping it onto his shoulders and looking in the mirror at himself. He would never forget how exciting it had been when he’d first read the riddle.

Put on this cloak for all to see
It’s mystery to unfold
A magic land is where you’ll be
Within the ring of gold

Then of course he’d found the ring. He automatically glanced at it on his finger as the thoughts flashed through his mind. He clearly remembered, as if it were only yesterday, meeting Humpty Dumpty on his first visit to the Land of Nursery Rhymes, and then how he had met Jack for the very first time almost two years ago. ‘Oh how I wish I could be back with Jack now’ he thought feeling quite upset again knowing that it was impossible.

Without warning, Nicky suddenly felt that almost forgotten tingling sensation all through his body, which again made him momentarily close his eyes as he disappeared in a tiny “puff” of smoke. ‘No! Surely it’s impossible’ he thought not daring to open his eyes again. Nicky was absolutely sure that his mind was playing tricks on him and he must have just stood there rooted to the spot for a full minute with his eyes closed as tightly as possible. When he finally opened them again, there he was, standing at the bottom of the steps outside the inn!

The impossible had just happened. Being so unprepared for what had so unexpectedly taken place, there was no way that Nicky wanted to see Jack at this very minute. But he just couldn’t resist the temptation to peep in through the window. Everything seemed to be exactly as it was the very first time he met Jack. There he was sitting in the corner tucking into another huge pie and sitting in the window having their dinner were Jack Sprat and his wife. At that moment he felt extremely confused, but in his mind he knew that it was essential that he finally figured out how everything really worked once and for all. Without hesitation, he slipped the ring off his finger and was instantly back in his bedroom. Again, he pinched himself hard to make sure that he really was wide awake and ‘ouch,’ it hurt as it always did.

‘Where on earth could I have possibly gone wrong this time?’ thought Nicky. He had worked out exactly how the magic cloak and ring worked so many times, always convinced that ‘”this time he was right” but on every occasion he had been proved wrong.

‘Of course’ he suddenly almost screamed out with glee. ‘I was almost right before. The only thing that stopped the cloak from working was that the label had come out. Now that Mum has sewn it back in again everything’s back to normal. Oh what a stupid fool I’ve been,’ he thought, ‘I’m going to be extremely careful from now on.’

Then again, it suddenly came to him in a flash. ‘Oh no! I’m wrong again or certainly only part right or part wrong!’  Nicky had just realised that this time, his favourite book, the Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes was where he had put it in Dads old trunk up in the loft, after the cloak lost its power almost a year ago. He had felt so miserable that he couldn’t bear being reminded of his best friend, Jack, and their adventures. So now, without the help of the book, how had he found himself totally unexpectedly back in the Land of Nursery Rhymes? ‘Am I ever really going to work out exactly how the magic cloak and ring really work?’ he asked himself. ‘It should be so simple but I always seem to somehow get it wrong’ he mused.

Nicky was extremely puzzled but eventually, in yet another flash of inspiration, the answer came to him. He suddenly realised exactly what he was doing at the time he disappeared again. He clearly remembered slipping the cloak onto his shoulders as he was looking in the mirror at himself. As he always wore the ring now, the answer was obvious. At that exact moment, he remembered thinking ‘Oh how I wish I could be back with Jack now.’

The more he thought about it, the more obvious it became that this time he was exactly right. It wasn’t the Giant Book of Nursery Rhymes after all. That must have been just a coincidence all along. Every single time that he had disappeared, he had ended up with the person or at the place he had actually been thinking about and wishing he was there. This time he was absolutely certain, there could be no other possible explanation!

Some things were just common sense but there was still just one thing that simply didn’t add up. Nicky suddenly realised that although he had known Jack for almost two years, he was sure that he hadn’t grown any older. The more he thought about it the more certain he became that he was even wearing the same clothes. Come to think of it, all of the other people that he had met were still exactly the same as they were the first time he met them. Yes, it was just after his ninth birthday when they first met and Nicky would soon be eleven. Very puzzling unless perhaps this whole world, the Land of Nursery Rhymes had really been created by the good Wizard as he’d originally told Jack and like in a book, the people can’t grow old. ‘No that’s wrong’ he thought, ‘Or is it? Oh! this time it’s far too complicated for me to work out.’

“Thwack” the thought hit him like a thunderbolt between his eyes. The instant the idea came to him, he realised that he had no other alternative. However dangerous, however impossible it seemed he had no other choice. This was the biggest yes, the biggest and most fantastic idea, no, challenge, he had ever faced. By now his head was a confusing multitude of thoughts, spinning round and round, completely out of control. What thought could it possibly be to have such an immediate and enormous effect on Nicky?

Well suddenly, he had realised that it might be possible for him to rescue Dad. If he could actually travel to any time or place he thought of and wished for, with the power of the cloak and ring it had to be possible.

Of course, such a daring rescue plan was going to require meticulous planning. Nicky knew that this time, he could not afford to take a single risk. He must be absolutely sure that he knew exactly how everything worked. Once again that night, although it was now well after midnight, Nicky couldn’t get off to sleep. However, at last he felt that finally he knew for certain how everything really worked and he was completely in control of the situation.




Chapter 12 - The Good Wizard


At last, after what had seemed to be an impossibly long sleepless night, morning finally came round. Nicky was still confident that he’d finally discovered the true secret of the magical power of the cloak and ring. He now knew for certain that he could actually travel to anywhere he “thought” about, using the power of them both together. Of course he now knew that the key word was “wish” which seemed to act like a switch. But there were still an awful lot of difficult problems to be solved before he could put his audacious plan into action.

‘What a totally unbelievable idea.’ Nicky thought once again, thankful now that everything was working perfectly once more. ‘I’ve just got to grab this opportunity firmly with both hands.’ Yes, this most amazing and daring idea had just come to him in an instant yesterday. But if all the problems could be solved, he could see absolutely no reason why he couldn’t go back in time to Dad’s boat and rescue him. The magic had worked with Jack, when after that dreadful nine months after Nicky lost the ring, he had suddenly appeared in his bedroom. Yes, there was no reason at all why his plan wouldn’t work and he could definitely bring Dad back home using the ring.

Everything, even the simplest parts of his plan must be carefully listed and memorised. There would be no time for suddenly thinking “What do I do next?” it must come automatically. Nicky reached over for an old exercise book on the bookshelf. Picking up a pencil at the same time, he turned to the first blank page and started his list:

1. Put on the cloak, making sure that it is fastened tightly. The last thing he wanted was for it to come off accidentally.

2. Check the ring. ‘Even clean it first’ he thought ‘Just in case!’

3. Simply wish I was with Dad on his boat at the time of the accident.

4. Explain to Dad what has happened and that he must put on my ring in order to get home safely.

5. Take off the ring and give it to Dad.

Nicky carefully read through the list. It all seemed so simple and straightforward. If everything went to plan, the main snag that Nicky could see was that Dad would have to wear the ring forever. If he ever took it off, he would end up back on his boat just before that gigantic wave had smashed it to pieces. This meant that if his predictions were correct, he would never be able to use the magic cloak again. ‘Oh no!’ he suddenly realised that it would also mean that he would never ever be able to visit Jack again. But of course it was worth anything in the world to bring Dad back home safe and sound. But then, what if Dad didn’t believe his explanation for why he was there in the first place? He simply must be able to convince Dad instantly, that he had no other choice and had to follow his instructions, but how? This was going to need a great deal of thought.

Question after question popped into Nicky’s head. What if the ring only worked for a given length of time? Who knows what security precautions the good Wizard had combined with the magical powers. It might suddenly just stop working after a fixed time, or there might be other unforeseen difficulties. What of Dad then? After all this time, Mum still hadn’t given up hope. Would it be fair if, miraculously, Dad did come home, suddenly to disappear again forever? Of course not. So although Nicky was absolutely determined to attempt to rescue Dad, he had to solve this problem, above all others, first.

As had happened several times before, it suddenly came to him in another flash of inspiration. There was only one way to be absolutely certain of knowing exactly what would happen and this would definitely work. Nicky could think of no reason why he couldn’t actually visit the Good Wizard who made the cloak and ring in the first place. He could then simply ask him for his advice and help. All he had to do was to follow the first three steps on his list but wish to meet the Good Wizard at stage three. So clearly that must be his next step.

Nicky was extremely nervous and wouldn’t you be if you knew that in a few moments you could be face to face with one of the most powerful wizards there had ever been?  He could only hope that what Mr Carter had told him all that time ago on his ninth birthday was true, everything depended on it. He clearly remembered his exact words ‘there’s a legend that the cloak was made by a good wizard in olden times.’

‘Lets hope he really is a “good” wizard’ he thought.

‘I must get this exactly right’ Nicky thought. First of all he slipped the cloak over his shoulders. As he always wore the ring for safekeeping he twisted it around on his finger just to reassure himself that it was still there. Finally, he thought as hard as he could about the cloak and ring, at the same time wishing that he could meet the good Wizard in person. Of course it worked perfectly. All Nicky felt was that now familiar tingling sensation all through his body, which once again made him momentarily close his eyes. In a tiny “puff” of smoke, he simply disappeared.

Nervously trying to look around himself, Nicky couldn’t see a single thing except several blurred, dull, or glowing objects that appeared to surround him. He could hear strange noises all around and he was sure that he felt something briefly touch his back. He felt a shiver down his spine and was sure that his hair was standing on end. He felt so frightened that he was trembling like a leaf, too scared to move a muscle as he certainly didn’t want to draw attention to himself. He seriously thought of taking his ring off to get back to the safety of his bedroom, but the possibility of saving his Dad’s life spurred him on. Gradually he started to make out different shapes as his eyes grew used to the gloom.

The glowing objects were burning torches, hanging on the walls with black metal brackets and they seemed to be giving off far more smoke than light. He remembered seeing something like them when he’d been to the cinema with Mum to see Robin Hood. On the walls and roof, he noticed several grotesque shapes distorted by the flickering torches as they moved round the huge room. A minute or two later, he began to notice far more detail. The shapes he saw were the shadows of some large black birds and bat like creatures and they were making the strange noises he heard. They were flying round and round this absolutely huge room, but every so often one would swoop down to within a hairs breadth of him, as if to take a closer look. Nicky still hadn’t moved an inch, it was if he was glued to the spot. He wondered if he would ever pluck up enough courage to search for the good wizard.

By now, his eyes had grown completely accustomed to the gloom and he could see everything quite clearly. Thank goodness it wasn’t as bad as it seemed at first, but it was a very strange room, more like a gigantic hall. It must have been at least fifty metres wide and at least double in length. There were no windows at all and only one door that he could see. That was up a very long steep flight of stone stairs and must have been over twenty metres above the floor level.

At the far end of the hall he could see what appeared to be a cave, but at this distance there was no way that he could see what was inside. Quite naturally Nicky was still feeling extremely frightened. But his confidence had started to return as he felt sure that if anything terrible was going to happen to him, surely it would have done so while he was almost blinded in the gloom. Still feeling extremely uneasy, but with a feeling of self-assurance returning, Nicky pondered over what to do next. He had only two choices, the door at the top of the staircase, or the cave. Nicky had simply forgotten that as a third choice, he could have slipped the ring off his finger instantly returning home, but in any case he would never have considered that as an option with so much at stake. He looked at the staircase and decided there could be a serious problem if he was trapped halfway up, so he chose to check out the cave instead. After all, it was possible that the wizard lived in there and was resting.

So as to make no noise, Nicky walked all the way over to the cave on tiptoe. As he got nearer, he noticed a long stone seat outside, cut into the wall. Above the seat was a notice

To meet the good Wizard
Please sit here
Place your trust in him
And have no fear

‘Oh thank goodness’ said Nicky almost at the top of his voice with relief ‘thank goodness I’m in the right place.’ His words seemed to echo round and round the hall, fading away to nothing and suddenly he noticed how quiet it had mysteriously gone. Even the birds and bat-like creatures were nowhere to be seen. To be truthful Nicky was quite relieved.

‘Before I sit down and wait for the wizard, I should just have a little peep in the cave’ he thought still nervously looking around. As he cautiously went inside, he was numb with shock at what he saw. One of his favourite stories used to be Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and it was just like the cave in the book. Boxes, tubs and drums everywhere, all packed full of gold bars and coins, diamonds and pearls, jewels, every kind of precious stone glittering brightly, even in the poor torchlight. ‘Wow’ Nicky thought “’the good wizard is also a very rich wizard but I would rather have my Dad back than all the riches in the world.’

By now, Nicky was starting to feel much more confident. Surely it couldn’t be a very dangerous place if the good Wizard felt it was safe enough to leave so much treasure unguarded. Nicky felt his eyes start to close and he couldn’t suppress a long yawn, so he decided to sit down and rest on the stone seat outside to wait for the Wizard. It may have been the fright he’d had when he arrived in this strange place, or perhaps that he had so little sleep last night. The instant Nicky sat down on the seat he was so tired that he dropped straight off into a deep sleep.

Nicky woke up with a start, immediately jumping up to his feet. Once again the hair stood up on the back of his neck until he suddenly realised where he was. Standing just in front of him was a formidable looking person who could only be the good Wizard. He was quite tall, at least six feet, with a very old, wrinkled yet extremely kind looking face with a long white beard. He was wearing a long coat like a flowing robe right down to the ground. ‘What an impressive coat it was’ Nicky thought having never seen anything quite like it in all his life. Navy blue and purple with black edges and silvery white flashes that looked like real lightning flashing. On top of his head, making him look even taller, he was wearing a very dark blue conical hat with silver stars on it that, again, seemed to be twinkling just like real stars in the sky at night.

Showing all the respect that he possibly could, “ are you the good Wizard?’ he asked.

‘I certainly am Nicky’ said the wizard ‘and what can I do for you?’

Of course Nicky noticed that the Wizard had called him by his name, wondering how he knew it, but that wasn’t so important.

‘Oh thank goodness I’ve really managed to find you’ Nicky said feeling so relieved. ‘You are the only one that I can turn to and I’m desperate for your help and advice. Perhaps the best thing for me to do is to tell you everything that has happened to me since I found the magic cloak you made.’

He noticed that the Wizard was nodding his head and smiling kindly, so Nicky went on to tell him all about how he had first bought the cloak from Mr Carter on his ninth birthday. Then how he found the ring and worked out the riddle on the label.

‘Would you mind answering just one question for me?’ said the Wizard, adding ‘your answer must be the complete truth.’

‘Of course not’ Nicky replied ‘also I give you my word that whatever I tell you will always be the truth. Mum has brought me up to always be completely honest about everything, however important or even trivial.’

‘It’s a very simple question’ said the Wizard. “ When you first saw all the treasure in my cave, why didn’t you help yourself to any of it, not even a single coin as a souvenir?’

Nicky answered without hesitation. ‘Mum and Dad always taught me that it was wrong to take anything that didn’t belong to me, or to tell deliberate lies’ he said. ‘Once you do something so foolish, you then have a bad reputation and it can affect your whole life. I know some people at school who say they are bored and do silly things. Unfortunately for them, they’re always in trouble and then they try to blame everyone else. But I would much prefer to go down to the library or even look for shells on the beach for my collection. So I would never take anything that belonged to someone else, even something very small as a souvenir, without the owners permission.’

‘I thought that was the case, in fact I knew it was’ said the Wizard. ‘I’ve known for a long time that you are completely honest and trustworthy. That’s why I allowed you to keep the cloak for a short time once you had discovered the secret of it’s magic powers. I also have to be honest with you Nicky Young. This was in fact a simple test which you have passed with flying colours and few do that. To keep the cloak and ring everyone has to take and pass the test.’

‘I think that I’d better show you something now,’ said the Wizard in a very soft but assertive voice. Please come with me.’ The Wizard spun round, immediately walking into his treasure cave with Nicky following close behind. They walked on past all of the treasure to the back of the cave, where it narrowed to a thin, almost flat wall. The Wizard stopped abruptly and clapped his hands three times and to Nicky’s astonishment the wall simply disappeared into thin air. In it’s place was a short corridor leading to what looked like an extremely comfortable lounge. As he followed the Wizard down the corridor, Nicky heard a strange swishing sound behind him and on looking round saw that the wall had magically reappeared behind them. ‘What a simply amazing place this is’ he thought.

The Wizard walked right across to the far side of the room and sat down on a chair by a very big table. With a wave of his hand, he beckoned Nicky to join him on the next chair.

‘Well here it is, this is what I want to show you’ he said as he whipped off a black cloth that had been covering a giant crystal ball.

‘Gosh! It’s almost like a television’ Nicky thought as he peered at it intently. But it was definitely far better than a television set as, although the characters were inside the ball, they were in 3D, as in real life. ‘Wow! Wow! That’s impossible, how on earth can you do that’ he almost screamed as he suddenly realised that the people he could see were actually Little Jack Horner and his Mum.

Nicky glanced at the Wizard expecting an answer but all the wizard did was to nod his head, smile back at him and make a sign with his fingers. Totally unexpectedly, Nicky suddenly realised that he could now hear what Jack and his Mum were actually saying. By this time, Nicky was completely mesmerised by what was happening before his very eyes, listening intently to every word.

‘This is very strange, very strange indeed’ he thought. They were talking about Jack and Nicky’s meeting with Humpty Dumpty. But they hadn’t been to meet Humpty Dumpty yet!
 ‘What on earth is happening now’ Nicky thought as the scene changed to a very familiar place. ‘It’s like watching a video that you’ve seen before’ he thought. He was actually watching himself, on his ninth birthday, when he bought the cloak from Mr Carter. There he was, getting the cloak from out of the window walking across the shop floor to Nicky and his Mum. ‘Yes’ he said ‘it is a very stunning extremely unusual cloak indeed, just have a look at this label’ and passed it over to Nicky.

Put on this cloak for all to see
It’s mystery to unfold
A magic land is where you’ll be
Within the ring of gold

‘It’s a riddle’ said Mr Carter ‘there’s a legend that the cloak was made by a good wizard in olden times and that it has magical powers, but although many people have tried to work out what they are and what it can do, everyone has failed. I think it’s just a clever joke.’

Out of the corner of his eye, Nicky noticed the Wizard click his fingers and instantly the picture faded away to nothing, just perfect blackness.

‘I wanted to show you that, just so that you would know that I have been following your adventures in the Crystal ball, and with considerable curiosity. I am also aware of your plan to rescue your father using the magic ring, and I applaud your absolute sincerity and complete unselfishness. Because of this, I am prepared to help you with your rescue plan. I realise that you will have no other alternative but to tell your Dad all about the magic cloak, the ring and it’s power. That alone would cause a considerable number of problems. I have resolved this by making a second ring which will work only once. You must use this ring for the rescue and in exactly the same way as the original. No one other than you and I will ever know there were two rings. You will simply have to tell Dad that should he remove the ring himself within seven days, he will instantly return to his boat and unfortunately that will be that. As long as he leaves it on his finger, after seven days, it will simply disappear into thin air and the rescue will be complete. If anyone happens to notice that it has disappeared, he must simply tell them that it must have slipped off his finger and it has been lost. Finally you must not, under any circumstances, tell another single soul about the magic cloak and ring’ he said, as he held out his hand with the new ring for Nicky.

Turning to look directly at Nicky with a wonderfully friendly smile on his face he said ‘Now, would you please be kind enough to remove the ring from your finger, as I have a tremendous amount of work to catch up with?’

‘Oh, and the best of luck.’




Chapter 13 – Nicky’s Dilemma


After all the incredible excitement of his visit to the Good Wizard, Nicky now had an awful lot to think about. The most important thing he had to do was to plan the rescue of Dad. However, before he made the attempt, it was very important that he visit Jack for probably the last time. It was only just before his visit with the Wizard that he’d suddenly realised that although he had known Jack for almost two years, he hadn’t grown any older. Eventually Jack would notice the change in him and it would be extremely difficult to explain how, although he, Nicky, grew older every day, Jack didn’t.

He couldn’t help thinking about his first visit when first of all he met Humpty Dumpty. The last thing Nicky remembered saying to him was ‘I will come back one day, I give you my word, as I’ve really enjoyed talking to you and seeing the king and all his men.’ He also remembered that when he told Little Jack Horner about it he said that he’d remembered his Mum and Dad telling him about the king and all of his soldiers and men, but that he knew nothing about Humpty Dumpty. He had been totally fascinated by the story and had said he would love to meet him one day.

So it was quite clear in Nicky’s mind that he should visit Jack for the last time and tell him about his plan to rescue his Dad. He could then keep his promise to Humpty Dumpty to go back and visit him one day and at the same time introduce Jack to him. He smiled to himself as he thought that aunt Dora would say that he was “killing two birds with one stone”. Aunt Dora had some very peculiar sayings.

So that’s exactly what Nicky did. It was a beautiful morning and Mum had just gone out shopping early, so now was an ideal time to go. Automatically he slipped the cloak over his shoulders. He always wore the ring now, but still without thinking, checked that it was securely on his finger before wishing that he was back with Jack. Of course it worked perfectly. All Nicky felt was that now familiar tingling sensation all through his body, which once again made him momentarily close his eyes. In a tiny “puff” of smoke, he simply disappeared.

Unusually, Nicky walked slowly up the steps into the inn. This was the part he dreaded most. It was going to be far more difficult than he’d first thought, telling his best friend that he would never see him again and he was deep in thought, still thinking the matter through. As usual Jack was absolutely thrilled to see him, pleading with him to have a slice of a new pie his Mum had just made even though it was early in the morning. ‘Honestly Nicky’ Jack said, ‘It’s piping hot, straight from the oven. It tastes even better and with loads of fresh cream it makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Please have some.’
 
Of course Nicky didn’t want to upset Jack, especially today so they sat down for some pie and actually as usual, Jack was absolutely right. It really was superb.

Now came the difficult part. Nicky had never previously told Jack about how tragically his Dad had gone missing in a fishing boat accident all those years ago. Naturally Jack was very upset when he told him and said he couldn’t imagine what life would be like without his Dad. Of course Jack knew all about the ring and it’s magic powers, after all, he’d been to Nicky’s home twice, using it. So when Nicky told him about his daring plan to use it to rescue his Dad just before the accident had happened, he thought that it was an absolutely brilliant idea. Of course Jack hadn’t thought about what had actually happened to himself when he took the ring off. How he had instantly been whisked back home to the instant he left in the first place. So choosing his words with care, Nicky explained to Jack that if after the rescue, Dad ever took the ring off, he himself would be “whisked back” onto the boat and once again his life would be in danger.

‘That’s no problem Nicky’ Jack said instantly, ‘It’s obvious that as long as your Dad keeps the ring on he will be completely safe.’

‘I totally agree with you’ Nicky said ‘That’s what I thought all along, but you know what? Without the ring, after today, I will never be able to see you again.’

Seeming like minutes, the seconds ticked by and it seemed an age later when Jack finally spoke.

‘Oh! Oh no! I do agree with you Nicky, but never see you again…’

Nicky noticed immediately that Jack was devastated by the thought that he would never see his best friend again and he had to fight back his own tears.

‘That’s another reason I have a wonderful surprise for you’ he said quickly. “ Before I leave to rescue my Dad, I want to take you on a very special trip to meet Humpty Dumpty.’

The slightest trace of a smile appeared on Jacks face. ‘That would be great’ he said ‘I always wanted to meet Humpty Dumpty after you told me all about him when we first met. But oh dear! This is so difficult’

‘Right! so that’s agreed then.’ Nicky said quickly not wanting to give Jack time to think about not seeing him again. ‘I suggest we set off straight away, as its quite a long way from here. But you should just pop and make sure it’s alright with your Mum first.’

Jack’s Mum thought it was a great idea but insisted on giving them some sandwiches, cakes and a bottle of lemonade for their journey. So after a large glass of cool water, they set off for the kings castle, where Nicky was sure Humpty Dumpty would be sitting on that huge wall.

With the two of them chatting away, it didn’t seem long at all before far in the distance they spotted Humpty Dumpty sitting there on top of the wall just as Nicky remembered. He had obviously spotted them from a long way away, for as they approached he called out

‘Hello, Nicky from Faraway Land.’

‘Goodness me’ Nicky called back ‘I never thought that you would remember my name and where I came from after all this time.’

‘Ah! That’s where most folk go wrong’ he said. ‘Just take a good look at me What do you really see?’

‘I don’t understand what you mean’ said Nicky ‘Why I see you, the one and only famous “Humpty Dumpty” every one I know would recognise you.’

‘You are missing the obvious though’ said Humpty ‘Look closely at my shape and what do you really see? It should be quite obvious that the shape of my head means that I possess the largest brain in the land. I never ever forget a single thing that I ever see or hear. It’s just impossible.’

‘Well I never’ said Nicky ‘you won’t believe this, but where I come from very clever people are sometimes known as “egg heads”, now I think I understand why.’

Humpty looked down from the top of the wall, peering intently at Jack, and said ‘Who is your friend Nicky and where does he come from?’

‘Oh, sorry for being so rude’ Nicky said. ‘Can I introduce you to my best friend, Little Jack Horner, his Mum and Dad own the inn in the next valley to the ancient castle where the Grand Old Duke of York sometimes stays.’

‘Wait!, wait!, here they come again. Look, over there’ said Humpty once again excitedly rocking backwards and forward perilously on top of the wall and pointing to the castle.

‘How lucky we must be’ thought Nicky as once again he could clearly see the king dressed in his finest robes, riding in his beautiful gold coach, coming through the gateway, closely followed by the king’s men, all riding on perfectly matched white horses.

It seemed very strange when, as the coach drew level with Humpty, the king once again turned his head to look at him, waved his hand and exactly as the last time Nicky saw him, said ‘Good day my old friend, Oh! please be careful, we don’t want you falling off that wall, do we?’ and Humpty continued to wave and wave until the king and all his men had completely disappeared from sight.

‘Oh! I’m sorry about that’ Humpty said to Jack, ‘It was extremely rude of me to ignore you like that. I’m afraid it always has that affect on me and I can never control my enthusiasm.’

Jack was so excited he could hardly speak. It was better than he’d even imagined when Nicky had first told him about Humpty Dumpty.

‘Well! Yes! I agree with you, phew! It was absolutely brilliant, please, please can I bring Mum and Dad to meet you one day? I know they will enjoy it all so much’ he added.

‘Of course you can my new little friend Jack, I invite you and your family over anytime you wish. I really enjoy meeting new people and chatting to them, that’s how I know so much’ said Humpty.

They chatted and chatted, long into the afternoon and suddenly realised that if they didn’t start back home soon, Jack’s Mum and Dad would be worried that they could be lost somewhere. So after saying their goodbyes to Humpty Dumpty, Nicky and Jack turned round, reluctantly making their way back to the inn. Nicky couldn’t help thinking that there was one other thing that made him feel even sadder - knowing that some day, Humpty Dumpty himself was going to have a dreadful accident. When it did happen that would be the end of poor Humpty Dumpty because “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.”

The nearer they got to the inn, the less they had to say as they were both deeply engrossed in their own thoughts. This time, the opposite happened, and it seemed to take for hours before they finally reached the bottom of the steps to the inn.

Nicky turned to Jack and gave him a big, long hug. ‘It’s been great knowing you Jack, you’re a wonderful friend’ he said.

‘The same to you’ Jack Mumbled fighting so hard to hold back the tears.

Nicky continued ‘You walk up the steps and into the inn without looking back ‘he said, ‘I will do the same and walk round the back of the inn. As soon as I’m out of sight, I’ll take off the ring and be whisked back home.’

‘Goodbye my very best friend.’

With tears streaming down both of their cheeks, that’s exactly what they did.




Chapter 14 – Miracles Do Happen


It was almost nine o’clock on a bright and sunny Sunday morning in May. As usual, Mum had gone to church with aunt Dora. in fact Nicky could hear the church bells chiming at that very moment. ‘This just has to be the day I try out my plan to rescue Dad’ he thought. With the help from the Good Wizard, Nicky had very carefully worked out a plan to rescue his Dad using the magic cloak with the new ring the Wizard had made especially for this one special occasion.

Out of his drawer he took the newspaper that had reported the tragic accident, now well over three years ago. To save his life, Nicky knew that he had only a minute or two at the most to convince Dad that his life was in real danger, and unless he acted very quickly he would surely die. He racked his brains and thought long and hard before deciding that the one thing that would prove to Dad that what he was saying was absolutely true was this newspaper.

Nicky would never forget the headline in the local paper The Scarborough Evening News, on that fateful day. ‘Skipper Missing Feared Dead……’

Although he’d been only seven years old at the time, Nicky remembered it so clearly, mainly because thanks to Dad, the rest of his crew had been safely rescued. Then they had been able to give an accurate version of exactly what had happened on that fateful fishing trip.

The storm that hit them was totally unexpected and had not been reported in the shipping forecast. The waves were huge, continually pounding on the deck causing the boat to take on large amounts of water. Finally, the engines had failed, probably because by now they were almost completely underwater and the boat was being tossed about like a cork in the now violent storm. When the rescue boat arrived, Dad had insisted that the rest of his crew were taken off first. It wasn’t that he was exceptionally brave, just that because it was his boat he felt that he was entirely responsible for his crew’s safety. It was now Dad’s turn. The crew, now safe and sound onboard the rescue boat, had witnessed the whole thing. They had watched in horror when his boat had been engulfed in a gigantic wave which had literally smashed it to pieces. Unfortunately, Dad had never been seen or heard of since. Although all his friends and many other boats searched for him for over forty eight hours, the only things they found were pieces of wreckage from his boat and an empty lifejacket.

Nicky carefully put the newspaper into his rucksack, fastening it tightly so that it couldn’t possibly fall out. Although he knew by heart exactly what he had to do, he read through his notes once again.

1. Put on the cloak, making sure that it is fastened tightly.

2. Check the ring. ‘Clean it first, just in case!’ Of course this time, it was the wizard’s new ring on his finger. As a precaution, he had carefully hidden the original one in his bedroom.

3. Wish that I was with Dad on his boat just before the time that the accident actually happened.

4. Explain to Dad what actually happened and that he must put on my ring in order to get home safely.

5. Take off the ring and give it to Dad.

The time had finally arrived. Nicky slipped the cloak over his shoulders, tying it as tightly as he possibly could. He had already made sure that the new ring was spotlessly clean and he pushed it firmly onto his finger. For a full minute Nicky just stood there with his hands clasped together and his eyes closed in silent prayer, before he took a deep breath and wished that he was with Dad in the wheelhouse, just before the radio SOS message had been picked up.

It could only be because he was so anxious and tensed up, but this time everything seemed very strange. In fact at first, Nicky wondered if anything had happened at all. When he opened his eyes, he automatically grabbed at the table for support as the boat was again tossed up on another huge wave. Thankfully everything had gone exactly to plan and Nicky found himself standing next to his Dad in the wheelhouse.

‘What the!!’ said Dad in astonishment as he just couldn’t believe his eyes. ‘Where the, is it! where on earth have you come from Nicky?...’

‘Dad! Oh thank God’ Nicky shouted above the noise of the storm. ‘Please, don’t say anything, just listen. The boat will be sunk, your crew are all safe and you are missing.’

‘Look at this’ It was far more difficult than he had ever imagined. However much you plan, it was impossible to allow for everything and Nicky found it extremely hard to just get the newspaper out of his rucksack whilst they were being tossed around in the storm. ‘Thank goodness’ Nicky shouted as he finally managed it and passed it over to Dad.

Dad quickly glanced at the paper. ‘Skipper Missing Feared Dead’ the headline told it all and he noticed just below ‘…crew were all saved by the Scarborough lifeboat…’ But he just stood there completely bewildered, shaking his head from side to side.

‘Dad! Please! The fact that I’m here is a miracle and I can save your life as well. You must believe me and do everything, exactly as I tell you. Promise me?’

Although he was extremely confused by what was happening, Dad was fully aware that his situation was getting desperate. ‘Ok! Nicky, Ok I promise, but why do you look so different?’

‘Dad, I’m nearly eleven now but I can’t go into all of the details. Look, I bought a magic cloak and ring from Mr Carter on my ninth birthday. It really has magic powers and that’s how I got here now. If I take off this magic ring and give it to you. I will be whisked off, safe and sound to my bedroom at home. When you put the ring onto your finger, you will follow me and be saved. Please Dad, please, I don’t want to lose you again forever, please don’t die.’ ‘You must believe me’ Nicky pleaded.

‘Ok Nicky, I’ve promised and I will do exactly what you’ve told me. But I must send an SOS first. I must be sure that my crew are safe before I could think of leaving them...’

‘Right, you’d better let me have your ring then’ he said holding his hand out to him.

Taking extreme care as the last thing he wanted to do was to drop it, Nicky carefully passed the ring over to Dad for him to put on.

Instantly he found himself safe and sound back in his bedroom actually trembling with relief and congratulating himself on a job well done.

One minute passed, then two and now it was a full five minutes since he arrived back in his bedroom. Nicky was really starting to get extremely worried about his Dad. ‘Oh! what could have happened? Where can he possibly be?’ he said to himself ‘I just can’t imagine what could have gone wrong.’ Time passed so slowly, each second seemed like a minute and each minute like an hour. The tension was unbearable and almost half an hour had passed when in a tiny bright flash of light Dad was there standing next to him, soaked to the skin in seawater but safe and sound at last.

‘I’m so sorry Nicky’ Dad said, looking round himself in amazement ‘I just had to be absolutely sure that the rest of my crew would be rescued safely before I saved myself. I could never have forgiven myself if anything had happened to any one of them and I was safely at home with you. Fortunately our SOS signal was picked up by the Scarborough lifeboat station and their boat was less than half a mile away. I watched them arrive and rescue the rest of the crew. When it was my turn an absolutely gigantic wave reared up high above the boat and I knew straight away that was how we’d been sunk. As it came crashing down onto the deck, I pushed your ring onto my finger and here I am, just as you said I would be and I still can’t really believe that its true. It seems more like a bad dream with a fairy tale ending.’

Nicky was more excited than he’d ever been in all his life. Yes, even more than on his very first visit to the land of Nursery Rhymes. Even when he met the Good Wizard which at first was without doubt the most terrifying time of his whole life. Nothing that had happened in the whole of his life came even close. Who would have believed it possible? With the Wizard’s help, he had successfully rescued his Dad and saved his life.

Dad was looking round the room and then out of the window in sheer amazement. Just a few moments ago, he’d been on his boat in a raging storm in the middle of January. Now, only a few seconds later, he was looking out of Nicky’s bedroom window towards the castle on the cliff top, on a beautiful warm and sunny day. Instead of the raging storm and gigantic waves, the boats were gently bobbing up and down in the harbour with hardly a ripple in sight. He could hardly believe his own eyes and just stared and stared out of the window as if spellbound.

Suddenly, Nicky glanced at the clock on his bedroom wall. Crikey it was well after ten o’clock and church service would be just about over. Mum usually had a cup of tea with aunt Dora and was back home well before noon for lunch. It didn’t leave much time to work out what they were going to tell her when she came home.

‘Dad!’ he called ‘Dad! We must get organised, Mum will be back before we know it and she will be over the moon to see you home safe and sound. We’ve got about an hour but she could be back anytime after that.’

‘Sorry Nicky, it was just as if I was in a trance. So much has happened in such a short time, it’s very difficult to sort it out in my mind. Look, I think I’d better have a quick bath and sort myself out. Do you agree? Oh, in the meantime will you please get rid of these clothes before Mum sees them’ he said as he carefully emptied the pockets.

So Dad had his bath and changed into some of his old clothes that Mum had put away in the spare wardrobe. In the meantime, Nicky hopped onto his bike and took Dad’s old clothes to the local tip.

It was difficult to work out exactly what to tell Mum. Nicky insisted that they must not tell her about the cloak and ring as he remembered the Wizard saying ‘Finally you must not under any circumstances tell another single soul about the magic cloak and ring.’ That certainly wouldn’t be a very good idea, who knows what the Wizard might do if they went against his wishes. Because even to this day, Mum still believed that Dad must have lost his memory or something similar and that one day he would turn up alive and well, it was easier to say that she had been right all along. He had been knocked unconscious during the storm. When he came round, he found himself in an unknown hospital in France, not knowing who he was or where he came from. When he eventually got some of his memory back he rushed home as fast as he possibly could.




Chapter 15 – The Final Chapter


Mum was oh so happy. She still told everyone that she knew all along that one day, Dad would come home safe and sound and she never stopped smiling. Only yesterday she told Nicky the wonderful news that in just a few months he was going to have a new brother or sister. That would be great. Aunt Dora was so delighted with the news that she decided to put on another of her fabulous party teas to celebrate. As you know, that was really something to look forward to.

Dad decided not to go back to sea again. He used the rest of the insurance money from the loss of his boat to start his own business. He opened an auction house in partnership with his best friend Mr Carter. Nicky’s favourite day was the “Antiques auction sales” they held once a month.

As for Nicky himself, everything was just perfect. Even school had been great and he was now looking forward to starting at the new High School after the holidays. Naturally he still thought of Jack and Humpty Dumpty with a twinge of sadness, but he knew that he had made the right decision not to return to the Land of Nursery Rhymes. At least for the time being that is, one should never say never. In fact so much had happened since Dad’s successful rescue that Nicky hadn’t even thought of using the magic cloak and ring since.

So, happily, all ends well for Nicky and his whole family. But we know of course, that this was only the first of many adventures in “his” Land of Magic.

Don’t we?




Revised 20080504

The original story began on page 3 with:
Nicky woke up with a start and jumped straight out of bed……..
 
 
Nursery Rhymes used

Army and Navy
Elsie Marley
Georgie Porgie
Humpty Dumpty
Jack and Jill
Jack Sprat ‘could eat no fat’
Little Jack Horner
Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe
Pease Porridge Hot
Someone Came Knocking
The Duke of York
The North Wind Doth Blow
The Queen of Hearts

   
     

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