The Thiefs Tale
Contest Winners: willh87 and hpwestham13
Endora, wearing a set of eye-glasses with a fake nose and mustache attached, sat huddled and fidgety in a waiting room at St. Mungos
Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Beside her sat Sadie, still veiled, scraping the bowl of her pipe with a small knife in spite of
a large sign posted directly above her head: THANK YOU FOR NOT SMOKING, FIZZING, POPPING, SENDING JETS OF LIGHT, OR BRINGING GUBRAITHIAN
FIRE ON THIS WARD. From time to time, Sadie paused to pat Endoras hand and say something comforting, such as, Im sure old Merle can hold
off those quack healers long enough to make a getaway.
Across the aisle, Joe Albuquerque (disguised as a vicar, the next best thing to invisibility) was reading a newly-released book titled
Growing Up Twice, which had a lot of adult material in it for a book written by a little kid. On the other hand, it was ghost-written
by the same ghost who had co-written Joes favorite book: Become a Metamorphmagus in Thirty Days. Joe grunted with pleasure as he
recognized an incident Merlin had described in one of his stories. So far, there hadnt been many similarities between the book and the tales
Merlin had narrated in the back room of the pub.
By and by, Spanky and Harvey came out of Merlins ward and sat down with the group. Harvey held a small wooden box that hadnt been in his
hands when he went into the ward.
Oi, whats that? Sadie demanded.
Merlin slipped it to me when the healers back was turned, said Harvey, prising the lid off the box. It was built like a square hatbox,
made of age-darkened wood. Inside was something that may have been a stone, or perhaps a bone...
Why, its that goats hoof that I ni-HEM, that I acquired for that pubkeeper fellow, Sadie exclaimed.
A goats hoof? Spanky said, looking outraged. That stingy old goat sent our friend into mortal danger for a goats hoof?
Well, it does turn trash into food, Sadie explained apologetically.
He should use it more often, mumbled Joe Albuquerque, without looking up from his book.
Probably saves him a mort of money, Harvey added.
It just doesnt make sense, Endora wailed. All that panic over a bit of cookware?
He said it was something his late brother gave him, said Joe, closing his book. He made it sound very valuable, or very important.
Wait a minute. Sadie snatched the box out of Harveys hands. Harvey groped for it uselessly, then gave up with a small chuckle. This was
the very sort of thing he needed Sadie to do for him. At least she was good at it.
See, said Sadie, poking her finger into the box and then measuring the outside of the box with it. Theres got to be a hidden compartment
in it. She held it up to her ear and gave the box a gentle shake. She tapped it very gently with a fingertip, across the bottom and around
the sides. Then, snatching up the box lid from the empty chair next to Harvey, she closed the box, turned it sideways, and pulled off a lid
facing a different side of the box.
I didnt know it could do that, said Joe, beaming with interest.
Sadie held her breath as she fished out the object inside the box. It turned out to be a large pocket-watch, rimmed with strange symbols.
The watch had more than the usual number of hands moving at different speeds, some of them anticlockwise, and some odd-looking dials on the
clock face as well.
Harvey stood up so suddenly that he might have been mounted on a spring. Put that back, he whispered harshly, before someone sees it.
Eyeing him curiously, Sadie did as she was told, and handed the box back to Harvey. The latter stuffed the box into a pocket of his robes
where it didnt seem to make any bulge at all. Everyone sat back in their seats, waiting for Harvey to tell them something, but he held his
silence for now.
A few minutes later, Joe had returned to his book, Endora to her fidgeting, and Sadie to cleaning her pipe. Spanky scribbled something in a
notebook, and Harvey scrounged a copy of Healers Journal from a nearby table. The lead article, announced in bold letters on the
cover, was titled: Medical Divination: Head Off Health Problems Before They Happen!
For Albus sake, Endora exploded. Will someone please say something to get my mind off...
Everyone looked at her. They looked at each other.
Sadie gave the table a loud rap with the bowl of her pipe, startling Endora slightly. Then she said, All right. Since I can get a word in
edgewise for once, Ill tell you how I made my first six or seven fortunes. It doesnt hold a match to Merlins story, but itll have to be
Spanky put his notepad away. Joe and Harvey ditched their reading materials. Everyone prepared to listen, while Sadie rubbed her nose and
prepared to tell.
+++ DOUBLE CHALLENGE FOR TMQ #82 +++
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