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bylvester

and the

Mugic Pebble

by

WILLIAM STEIG
MOORESTOVJN LIBRARY

MioRESiowr.J. N.J. 08057-2490

\\-inchnill Books Simon and Schuster

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Sylvester Duncan lived rvith his mother and father at
Acorn Road in Oatsdale. One of his hobbies was collecting
pebbles of unusual shape and color.

?ri? 44

In all his young life


Sylvester had never
had a wish gratiffed so
quickly. It struck him
that magic must be at
work, and he guessed
that the magic must be
in the remarkableJook_
ing red pebble. (Where
indeed

it

was.) To make
a test, he put the pebble

on the ground and said,


"I wish it would rain

again." Nothing hap_


pened. But when he
said the same thing
holding the pebble in
his hoof, the sky tumed

black, there was light_


ning and a clap of thun_
der, and the rain came
shooting down.

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"What a lucky day


this is!" thought Sylvester. "From now on

can

have anything I want.


My father and mother
can have anything they
want. My relatives, my
friends, and anybody at
all can have everything
anybody wants!"

He wished the sunshine back in the sky,


and he wished a wart
on his left hind fetlock
would disappear, and it
did, and he started
home, eager to amaze

his father and mother


with his magic pebble.
He could hardly wait to
see their faces. Maybe
they wouldn't even believe him at ffrst-

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As hc was crossing Strarvbcrry llill, thinking o{ some o{
the many, many thilgs hc could rvish for, he was startled to
see a mcan, hungry lion looking right at hirn from behind

sone tall grass. He was frightcned. If he hadn't been so


friglrtened, he could havc made the lion disappear, or he
could have wished hirnself safe at home rvith his fathcr and

FIe could have wished the lion ivould tum into a butteror a daisy or a gnat. He could have wished n.rany things,

fly
but he panicked and couldn't think carcfully.

"I

wish

were a rock," he said. and he became a rock.


The lion came bounding over, snified the rock a hundred times, walked around and around it, and went away
confused, perplexed, puzzled, and bovildered. "I saw that
little donkey as clear as day. Ivlaybe Iin going crazy," hc
muttered-

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ihere u'us Sylrestlr.. rr r.or,li ou Slrlrilxr.rv llill.


urith thc nragic peirl;ir: 1,,irg riglit lx'siclc liirrr on thc grourrd.
antl ht: rvas rrnubli: [o pick it up. 'Oh. luru, I *,ish I l,cre
rrrvsclf agairr." hc tluruglrt. but rrollring happr:lecl. IIc lrad
lo be touchirg thc 1x'bble to rrrrrkc ihc ntagic lor.k. llrl thcrcr
rvns rothing ]rr: coultl clo about it.

llis

thorrellts ltcgrn to r.acre lilic rrrrcl. I:lc *,as scarcd


irrd .,rllit'cl. Bt:irrg lrtllitss. hc {clt ho':.,lcss. }1c irirgiru:cl

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-brit ryhlt orr earth n.oulil rrraiic
lLcnr rrislr that a locl. lr:rc a clolkc_.r ? .l.lii:
chairct las r;,,r,

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l\,Let clsr: corrlcl he clo? \iglrt

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trIeanl'hilc. birck at lulnc. \Ir. rrncl \Irs. l)uncar paccd


thc floor, {rarrlic with \\on\'. S_vlvester hacl nt:r'er cornc homc
latcr than dinncr tiure. 'r\'hcrc coulcl hr: ltc? 'fhev stnl,cd up
al) right rvonclcring rvhat hacl happcrrtxl, t:rpccting tliat Sylvcstel would surcl;' turn up by ritorrring. But he <lidrr't, o{
coulsc. \lrs. I)uncan criecl a lot ald \'Ir. Duncan ditl his br:st
to soothe her. Both longecl to have tht'ir.clt:ar son rvith thcnr.
"l l'ill level scold Syh'estcr agail ns long as I live," said
\,Irs. I)Lrncan. "lo lriattc. rvltat hc does."

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At darvn,

the1, went about

inquiring of all the neighbors.

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They talked to all the children the puppies, the kittens, the colts, the piglets. No one had seen Sylvester since
the day before yesterday.

They rvcnt to thc police, The police could not find their

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All the clogs in Oatsdale rverrt sciirching {or hirli. They


snifi:d behind evcr1. rock and trec and bladc oI grass, into
cvcry nook and grrllv ol thc rreighborhooci anci bcyorrcl, but

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found not a scent of hirn. They sniffed the rock on Strax',
berry Hill, but it srnellcd like a rock. It didn't sncll likc
Svh'ester.

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After a month of searching the same places over and


over again, and inquiring o{ the same animals over and over
again, Mr. and Mrs. Duncan no longer knew what to do.

They concluded that something dreadful must have happened and that they would probably never see their son
again. (Though all the time he was less than a mile away.)

They tried their best to be happy, to go about their


usual ways. But their usual ways included Sylvester and they
were always reminded of him. They were miserable. Life
had no meaning for them any more.

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Night followed day and day follorvecl night over and


over again. Sylvester on the hill woke up less and less often.
When he was arvake, hc was only hopeless and unhappy.

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IIc felt he would be a rock forever and hc triecl to get used

to it. Hc wcnt into an endlcss slecp. .l'he d;rvs grerv


colder.
Fall carne with thc lcaves changing color. Then the
lcaves
fell and the grass bent to thc ground.

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Then it was winter. The winds blew, this way and


that.
It snowed. Mostly, the animals stayed indoors, living on
the
food they had stored up.

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One day a wolf sat on the rock that was Sylvester and
howled and howled because he was hungry.

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Then the snows rnelted. The earth warmcd up in the


spring sun and things budded.

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Leaves rvere on t]re trccs again. Florvers shorved their


young faces,

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One day in May, N'Ir. Duncan insisted that his wife go


rvith him on a picnic. "Let's cheer up," he said. "Let us try to
live again and be happy even though Sylvester, our angel, is
no longer rvith us." They went to Strawberry Hill.

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Mrs. Duncan sat dorvn on the rock. The warmth of his


own mother sitting on him I'oke Sylvcster up from his deep
winter sleep. How he rvanted to shout. "Mother! Father! It's
me, Sylvester, Iir.r right herel" But hc couldn't talk. He had
no voice. He was stone-dumb.

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Mr. Duncan rvalked airnlessly about while \{rs. Duncan


sct out the picnic food on the rock alfalfa sandrviches,
picklcd oats, sassafras salad, timothy conpote. Suddcnly Mr.
Duncan sarv the red pebble. "Wllat a fantastic pcbble!" he
exclaimed. "sylvester would have loved it for his collection."
He put the pebble on the rock.

ialqqad rrSeu eql se^\


{ceq slq uo Suqser alqqad aql teql pazllear puq aq ,{1uo g1
'l,uplnoc aq tnq 'lnoqs o1 palue,n ;a1se,r1,(S
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...{eare .re; }ou pue e^{e 11ps s1 ra1sa,r1,,{g
reeP rno l"ql Sulaal lsa8uBrts aql c^eq 1,, ','(luappns pres
sqs ..:raql"d '^\ou{ notr,, luauallcxa snorrals,(ut aulos lloJ

uecunq 'srliyaq .(lqrssod pFoc {cor B su,t,r l?qt ,{a{uop


a{,tr? epl^\ sB ,{\ou sr?,r\ ralse^1,{S l"a ol u,rop }Bs FaqJ,

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"Oh, how I wish he were here with us on this lovely May

day," said Mrs. Duncan. Mr. Duncan looked sadly at the


ground. "Don't you wish it too, Father?" she said. He looked
at her as if to say, "How can you ask such a question?"

Mr. and Mrs. Duncan looked at each other with great


sorrow_

"I

wish

were myself again,

wish

were my real self

again!" thought Sylvester.


And in less than an instant, he was!

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You can imagine the scene that followed


braces, the kisses,

the questions,

the answers,

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- the em-

the loving

looks, and the fond exclamationsl

When they had eventually calmed down a bit, and had


gotten home, Mr. Duncan put the magic pebble in an iron
safe. Some day they might want to use

it, but really, for now,


what more could they wish for? They all had all that they
wanted.

The End