The Christmas Magician
Editors Note: I like this story and this version could be more of an outline for a more in-depth long short story or mini novel, or something later on. For now, the minor concrete descriptions and such will be left to the imaginations of the readers, much like how my poems. The message is the most important thing, though. Enjoy.
The Christmas Magician
Peter liked to pick locks, but not as a criminal. From the time was old enough to work in a shoe shop with 20 to 30 other children under 12, he tried to get away from the forced labor in England. The task masters were unsympathetic and downright mean. Locks were on problem children in locked rooms. His wages went to his parents since his father went to prison for not being able to pay bills owed to the greedy owner of a company. Peter lived in quarters provided by a different company, that happened to be owned by the same man, which meant a not-so-soft bed and basic meals to keep him working the 12-14 hour days. He became an escape artist by choice.
On several of the days he had a self-made holiday, he went to a carnival with sideshows and magic acts. It was far enough away from the city that he would be safe for a while. He took some money from a box he knew the owners kept cash. He saw people swallow swords, blow fire from their mouths, and people moved from one box to another without being seen. He was most interested in the people who escaped from a variety of contraptions after being chained and locked to the devices. He stayed as long as he could, and he found out that the carnival was leaving the next day. He decided to stay with the group and learn from these magicians as much as he could. He made quick friends with one of the women with the carnival and he spent the night in her wooden trailer in the corner bundled up after she gave him some food.
This was his escape from his past, and he cherished the chance to learn a trade he enjoyed. He worked with troupe doing odd jobs and earned his own money. He watched and learned as much as he could from not just the magicians, but how they had the show to draw the maximum interest from the simplest series of tricks.
Peter was listed as a runaway, and his family wanted him back. He noticed many of the people he worked with had less-than-desirable pasts. Not that they were bad people, or murders, or anything like that. The authorities were open suspect in the places where the carnivals traveled. Peter went from smaller outfits to bigger shows that offered an opportunity for him to grow as a magician and showman. He became known by many as “Peter, the Great” as he grew into a man, and his audiences enjoyed his exaggerated feats of daring that seemingly tempted fate each time such tricks were performed.
The financial compensation grew, too, as he became in demand to be part of several shows as an independent act. By the age of 25, he was a handsome man who was the object of affection of several women, some of whom had money in their families. He used this advantage to eventually command and fund his own fully complete entertainment company much like the one he used to run away from the shoe factory. It was complete with dancers, a small orchestra, and a few sideshows, others to run the operation, and people to help him create the newest and most daring magic acts.
A duke, Duke Simon, announced a competition to determined the nation’s best magician, and Peter, The Great, had many people who thought they were just as good as him, if not better. He was ready for a three-day contest with the duke declaring himself as the judge for the event. Peter boasted he would do three magic tricks which had never been done before, and he entered the contest with this in mind. Posters went up for the event, and the anticipation grew the closer the weekend came for the contest.
While getting ready for the event, Peter learned Duke Simon had a daughter, Constance, who was very sick from an unknown disease. It was surmised by the gossip that perhaps the greatest magician could perform the greatest feat of all, cure his daughter, or that the duke was just was mesmerized by the greatest of magic acts as anyone else. Peter knew what he had to do to win the competition, his three yet unperformed acts. He prepared for two months and the days of contest eventually arrived.
He brought his whole troupe to back him in his tricks. It was a real show. On the first day, he had the duke’s armorer place the strongest plated steel around a ten-inch diameter tree with some extra around opposite branches of the tree to resemble a cross between a knight and a scarecrow. There was another large tree in a straight line from the first about 25 feet way. This tree had round target, with colored bands, attached five feet from the ground. Peter said his special arrow would go through the first tree and split another arrow in the center of the target. He aimed and the arrow he shot split the second in half after piercing the armor around the first tree. People touched the holes to verify the feat.
The second day he said he would walk through the wall of castle where Duke Simon lived. The solid stone walls where Peter had selected were two feet thick. With much pageantry, the thickness was measured and authenticated by royal services. Sentries were posted on both sides of the wall to verity the feat. He had a time limit of five minutes or he would be stuck in the stone forever. He made it through in three minutes, to the crowd’s delight.
By now the crowd and Duke Simon were anticipating his third act, which some were think would have to be a miracle. Talk of saving Constance was mentioned. The day came, and the troupe had kept the next trick a secret. Peter, the Great, knew that Duke Simon, would do almost anything in the name of magic by now. In the main court hall, Peter had one large box constructed on site by his assistants to show it was real. The box was as tall as a man. It was demonstrated the floor was solid stone. The other part of the trick was a wooden -supported booth, as tall as a man, with a sliding curtain that went around all four sides. Peter asked Duke Simon to come down from his throne and step in the open both. Peter said he would make the ruler move from the booth to the enclosed wooden box.
A hush came over the room. What was Peter really doing? Advisers circled around the Duke as Peter waited patiently, and they moved away. “I am pleased that you have selected me to participate in your next trick, but I am the judge,” Duke Simon said.
“Exactly,” said Peter promptly.
“Perhaps someone else would do?” The Duke suggested.
“No. I have proved myself twice before in this competition. It is a matter to trust. You have a daughter, Constance, who is very ill, and your own doctors have not discovered any cause or cure. I can cure her, or rather, I know how she can be cured, but you have to believe in me and who I represent. I have pledged my life to the illusions of magic, so it appears I can walk through stone walls or shoot arrows through steel and wood. These would be great assets in war, I know. I believe in a higher authority, greater than any mortal. Jesus once walked on this earth and is now at the side of his father, our God. Whoever believes in Him will have a blessed prospers life here on earth and Heaven. If you believe the Lord can heal your child and protect the rest of her mortal life, you will come down from your throne and stand here beside me to be covered by this curtain. If not, I am through with this competition, and perhaps someone else will win the prize,” Peter declared.
The Duke just looked at Peter and slowly he pushed up himself from the arms of his chair. He walked to be covered by the curtain and was moved to the box to the relief of all those attending. Guards rushed the wooden box to confirm the duke was safe and unharmed. The winner was quickly declared and in a week Constance was cleared of any ailment by royal doctors. The contest was two weeks before Christmas, and the Duke had a great feast to celebrate his good fortune and his new faith. Duke Simon and Peter remained friends for many years after this contest.
See all the short stories on the World of Words by Elias Tobias by clicking here.
Did you know that Elias Tobias has published two books, and one is an anthology of 145 poems, and the other a short story murder mystery. For complete information about these books and how to purchase them, click here..
QR code for the Elias Tobias Amazon Author Page