THE BIRTHDAY PRESENT
Jack was ten years old and, although he had lots of friends, he preferred to spend his spare time with his Grandpa in his wood workshop at the end of the garden. The workshop always seemed like a magical place to Jack. The smells of the different woods that Grandpa had collected over the years and to seehis many wonderful tools, some of which, had been handed down to Grandpa by his Father. Grandpa seemed to be able to create something amazing from the most simple piece of wood. Jack wasn't allowed to touch the tools, as some of them could be dangerous, Grandpa had told him,so Jack was delighted whenGrandpa had made up a special box of all kinds of tools that that he could use safely and , withhis guidance, Jack had made lots ofthings that he was very proud of.
Today, Jack was going to complete the little jewel box that he was making for his Mother's birthday. The box was squareandGrandpa had shown Jack how to make a little divider inside the box so that there was a space in the bottom for largerpieces ofjewellery.The top was divided into little compartments for smaller items, such asrings and earrings. Jack had painted the box red, his Mother's favourite colour, and Grandpa had helped him engrave some little flowers on thelid. All that had to be done now was to glue the piece of white satin, that Grandma had given him, inside the lid, and thento ask Grandpa to help him fix the little brass hinges onto the lid and onto thebase of the box, and it would be complete.
With the hinges now fixed to the box and the lid opening and closing perfectly, there was just one more task for Jack and that was to wrap the box, as neatly as he could, into the pretty silver wrapping paper and tie it with the silk ribbon, supplied by Grandma. When this was done, Jack stepped back and looked at his pretty parcel. He had to admit it - he was very proud of his work. "Well done son", said Grandpa "your Mother will be delighted and I am sure this birthday will be a very special one for her because of your hard work". Jack smiled, he knew quite well that he would never have finished the box or made it half as nice without his Grandpa'shelp and guidance but at the same time he was very pleased with himself and knew his Mother would be too.
That night, as he lay in his bed he felt very excited and couldn't wait for his Mother's birthday in just two days time, and to see her face when she opened this special gift he had made for her. As he was drifting off to sleep a light tap on the window startled Jack - he sat up quickly and then for a few seconds thought he must have been dreaming. Just as he was about to lie down again he heard the tap again, a bit louder this time. Jack crept out of bed and slowly pulled one of the curtains aside and as he did so he was blinded by a bright blue light. As he looked closer he could see an object, on the lawn. It lookedjust howJack had always pictureda Space hip - round withlots of lights around it 's border and hovering silently above the ground. Sitting in the vehicle were two elf like creatures dressed all in brown, with pointed ears. Suddenly from nowhere, it seemed, Jack heard a voice and when he looked to the left of the window he saw another creature. He was about three foot tall and dressed completely in green. He had pointed ears and his hat was also very pointed. Although Jack was shocked, he was not frightened,this creature wasn't scary, in fact Jack thought he looked like one of the elves that Grandma used to read to him about in fairy stories when he was a little younger. "Who are you"? Jack asked him. "I am Oliver the King of the elves and fairies" he told Jack. "I have come to earth on a very special mission" - "Oh" said Jack, but what has that got to do with me?" The King told him that it was to be his Daughter, the Princess Lilliput's birthday in a few days and he had wanted to make it special with the only present she has said she wanted. "That's very nice said Jack, but I still can't see how I can help?" The King told him that from his Kingdom the elves and fairies could look down to earth and the Princess had been watching Jack make the beautiful jewel box in his Grandpa's workshop. Lilliput, who had been spoilt all her life it seems, had told her Father that the box was the only present that would make her happy on her birthday. "As I never deny my Daughter anything she wants", he told Jack " I have come to ask if you will let me have the box - of course I will give you something in exchange" he told Jack. "No, that was impossible", Jack told the King "this box was for his Mother and there was no way he would let anyone else have it. The King, who had appeared friendly before, now suddenly looked very angry. His dark eyes frowned and Jack felt quite scared. "My daughter always has what she wants" he told Jack, "especially on her birthday, and if you don't let me have it I will have to call my men and we will take it and you by force." Jack told him that he had made several little things out of wood and he felt sure he would be able to find something else that the Princess would like just as much. This seemed to anger the King more - "Did you hear what I said?" he yelled at Jack "Lilliput wants the box and the box she will have, one way or the other". The King then beckoned to the other creatures in the Spaceship - whilst the King grabbed the parcel with the box in it from the shelf - the two elf like creatures each took one of Jack's arms and forced him out through the window. They bundled him into the Spaceship and although Jack tried to scream for help - no words seemed to come from his lips. With just the turn of a small key, the Spaceship was spinning into space. They passed through lots of planets and Jack felt that if he wasn't so frightened he would probably have enjoyed this experience. The Spaceship twisted and turned and then, without warning, it came to an abrupt halt. As Jack looked out of the window of the craft he saw they had landed on a long runway. Therunway was lit up with a variety of coloured lights, which looked very beautiful Jack thought. At the top of the runway was a huge castle. Jack asked theKing where he was taking him and why - "you will belocked in the cells" hetold Jack . It was treason to refuse the King anything and now Jack was to suffer the consequences. Although Jack insisted thatas he was from earth he was not bound by the rules of the King's planet- the King would not hear of it. "Throw him in the cell " he told his guards and with that they marched Jack along a dark and dingey corridorinto a very small room. There was just one small light and single bed and a cupboard in the room and it was very very cold. Jack started crying, how was he ever to escape this place he wondered, and even if he did,he couldn't get back to earth. It seemed to Jack that he would be aprisoner forever and Grandpa and Mother and Father would never know what became of him. As he lay on the bed he started sobbingis little heart out. Jack heard a key in the lockand he prayed that theKing had changed his mind and was going to take himehome, but no, there was another creature standing there, this time he was much taller than the King andthe Elves and looked morelike a Wizard, Jack thought. "I am Wizard Wesley" he told Jack " I hear you have refused to give the Princess Lilliput her chosen birthday present" he said. Jack then told the Wizard the story of what had happened. "I am afraid you are in big trouble Jack" the Wizard told him, "nobody ever refuses the Princess anything, she has been very spoilt from the day she was born and the only way you will escape here is to agree that she can have what she wants". "But I made the box for my Mother" said Jack and some spoilt girl cannot just demand to have it, it's just not fair". He started to cry again. The Wizard felt sorry for Jack and he knew what it was like to be ordered to give up something you treasure very much. Last year, he told Jack, the Princess took a liking to a watch that the Wizard's father had given him and he was ordered to let her have it or else suffer the consequences. "I was just a coward and let her have it" said the Wizard sadly. "She soon tired of it but instead of giving it back to me when she did, she just threw it away".
After a few hours had past, the Wizard returned with a drink for Jack and asked if he needed anything. There was one thing he could do to help him he told the Wizard and that was to try to get the Princess to come to visit him - he felt sure that if he could speak to her and explain everything she would tell her father to let Jack go and change her mind about the box. The Wizard laughed "that would not be possible Jack - we would both end up in the cell" he told him. There must be a way - perhaps if you just mention to her that I am here and would like to see her sometime to wish her Happy Birthday, she might come out of curiosity. "OK I will try". It seemed ages since the Wizard left - Jack hoped that he hadn't got into serious trouble and had also been locked away. The Wizard was his only friend, without his visits he would just be left here alone. Suddenly the key went into the lock again and the Wizard appeared with a very beautiful girl. "This is the Princess Lilliput" said the Wizard toJack. "Hi" said Jack "it's nice to meet you". "Well!! exclaimed the Princess, not returning Jack'sgreeting. I understand that you have something youwant to speak to me about. It had better be important as I hate coming overto this part of the Castle". "It's about the jewelbox" said Jack" I know youlike it and if you will give me sometime I am sure I can make another just like it for you, but you seeI made this one for my Mother and .................. but before he could finish speaking, she yelled at him "I already have the jewel box in my cupboard and I will open it tomorrow - my birthday". "You will have to make yourMother another one, but you cannot have my box back". "But it isn't your box" said Jack angily. "Don'twaste anymore of my timeboy", she said and sweptout of the cell door. Asshe fled the Wizard fled after her afraid she wouldgo back and tell her Father how he had taken her tothe cell.
Sometime after the Wizard and the Princess had left Jack noticed that the cell door was still ajar andthe keywas stillleftin the lock. Jack quicklyclosed the doorquietlyand locked it then he put the key into his jacket pocket. As he did he felt something else in the bottom of his pocket and as he pulled the objectout he saw it was the little necklace that he had bought at the church fete the week before. It was a gold colour chain with little red stones all around it - it was very pretty he had thought at the time and also the proceeds of the sale was going to one of Jack's favourite Dog Rescue charities - so he had bought it but not for anyone or anythingin particular. Jack decided to sleepif hecould and then tomorrow he would try to find a way of escape.
The next morning when Jack awoke - he wasn't sure what to do. Even if he found his way out of the Castle, he thought, he couldn't get home without someone taking him in the Spaceship and there was no hope of that.He started out of the cell and along the corridor.The corridor was full of nooks and cranies and if he thought he heard footsteps or voices he just ducked into one ofthe alcoves until the coast was clear. Jack managed to get to the other side of the Castle and he could understand why the Princess had said she hated coming to the side where the cellswhere. This side of the castle was very luxurious with thick carpets and beautiful drapes, so different to the other side. Then Jack heard voices- he hid behind a large marble statue of a lion and watched as the King's army of elves marched up to the big double oak doors at the end of the corridor. They had their arms full of lots of beautiufl flowers and balloons andeverything that would be needed fora very special party. Asthe doors opened Jacktried to see insidewithout being noticed. He could see tables laid with beautiful table cloths. There was all kinds of wonderful food on the table. The birthday cake was more like a wedding cake, thought Jack. It had fivetiers and the icing was pink and white and the topetier was decorated with real flowers. Today is her birthday, thought Jack. He knew that if he didn't get to the box soon - hewould never get it back. Then suddenly the doors opened and the Princess made her entrance. She looked beautiful in her ivory coloured satin and lace gown with slippers to match and her golden curls just hanging perfectly down her back. The fairies had on their very best dresses all made of silk and in the most beautiful of colours. Even the elves had changed out of their drab browns and greens and were wearing the brightest yellows and reds which looked so smart and cheerful at the same time. Jack looked at the Princess and wondered how someone so beautiful could be so horrid and then realised that his Grandma was so right - "beauty comes from within" she hadtold him - "never judge someone by the way they look". The Princess began opening her presents immediately and as she opened them,one by one, she just cast them aside with no words of thanks to anyone. There were so many parcels, that Jack tried to see where his Mother's box was, he hoped he could get to it before she opened it. There were throngs of people and Jack managed to view what was going on unnoticed. Then , without warning, Princess stamped her feet, where is the necklace I asked for she yelled. "What necklace" asked her Father in a worried voice. "I wanted a necklace to go with my dress, I told you - I told you" she screamed. "You didn't mention a necklace, just the jewel box" said her Father. You haven't even opened that parcel yet? "No I haven't 'cause I know what's in it and I don't want it - I don't want the box I want a necklace Ohhh!!! Her Father looked on in despair, after all the trouble he had gone to to get the jewel box and she still wasn't satisfied - he didn't know what to do. He had never refused his daughter anything before but how would he get a special necklace at such short notice..
As the King looked up he saw Jack "what are you doing here, how did you get out of the cell he asked?" It's a long story your Majesty but I think before I tell you that , I want to say I think I can help solve the problem of the necklace. The King looked surprised but happy at the same time, anything that could stop his daughter throwing such a tantrum would be wonderful. "How" he said "there are just two things before I can give you the necklace" Jack said. "Anything, anything" said the King. "I want the box back and I want to be taken home as soon as I hand the necklace over". "Yes, yes no problem" said the King. and hopedhis daughter would agree to hand the box over. With that the King called the Princess over and Jack just hoped and prayed that the necklace would meet with the Princess's approval, else all would be lost. As she stood in front of Jack and her Father - she said a sullen "Yes! and what is this boy doing at my party?" "I have a present for you" Jack told her and with that he took out the necklace from his pocket and handed it to the Princess. He waited for herreaction, would she throwit to the ground and say she didn'tlike it? But Jack needn't have worried, thePrincess's face lit up with delight. She hugged Jack and said she didn't know how to thank him and she was sorry she had been so rude to him when she saw him in the cell. Jack told her that it was Ok andthe best way she could thank him was to return the box to him so that he could give it to his Mother onher birthday and to try to be gratefulforanything that was done for her and not to keep demanding things.The Princess handed Jack the box immediately and then she turned to the King and toldhim she would never be soselfish again. After spending some time enjoying the party it was time for Jack to be taken home. As he picked up the jewel box, the Princess came over and thanked him once more. She handed him a sweet wrapped in silver paper - it will bring you luck she said" Jack thanked her and put the sweet in his trousers pocket.
The elves took Jack to the Spaceship and before he knew it they had landed safely backon the lawn of his home. His bedroom window was still open, so he climbed in - waving to the elves as they took off for the last time. Jack looked at his bedroom clock and it showed that he had hardly left at all - he then realised that time stood still on the Planet of the Elves and Fairies, so he had never been missed.
The next morning when Jack woke up he felt sure he must have dreamed everything. He looked on the shelf and the box was in the same place he had originally put it. "Wow that was some dream" - he thought "I must tell Grandpa about it." As Jack started to get dressed he felt something fall out of his trouser pocket "Ah! the necklace" he thought -well he really was only dreaming as he still had the necklace. He bent down to pick the necklace up but was shocked to see it wasn't the necklace at all, but a small sweet wrapped in silver!!!
That afternoon, when he handed his Mother her jewel box and saw her face fill with pride at his work - he was so delighted that he had bought that necklace at the Church fete.
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