“Jim-John’s Search,” Friend, Oct. 1986, 20
Jim-John thought his mom was mean to keep him in on Halloween, to give him lots of silly chores before he got to go outdoors.
“Put back your toys. Please make your bed. Pick up your clothes,” his mom had said. “Unless your room is nice and neat, you can’t go out to trick-or-treat.”
“Mom, if you make me stay and clean, I might miss out on Halloween! I have my mask; I have my hat—,”
“Right now!” said Mother. “And that’s that!”
Jim scowled. His room was such a sight, to pick it up might take all night! He wished that unseen help would come—an elf, a gnome, a magic chum—and do the job for him real fast so he could get outside at last.
Why not? thought Jim. It’s Halloween, the very day for things unseen.
So Jim-John went into the yard and there began to search quite hard in bushes for a leprechaun—or clues to where one might have gone. But all he saw, to his dismay, were ants, which promptly marched away.
He peered in tree stumps, where, he’d heard, a gnome will sometimes catch his beard. “I’ll set him free, but not before he promises he’ll do my chore.” When Jim-John looked inside the logs, all that peeped back were pop-eyed frogs.
Next, Jim poured cream in Kitty’s bowl, in hopes a brownie or a troll would drink it up, then turn and say, “What may I do for you today? For you have kindly quenched my thirst.” But Kitty came and drank it first.
“I think I’ll try to catch a fairy, although they’re shy and kind of scary.” So Jim sat down. He didn’t wiggle. He didn’t squirm and didn’t giggle. The only wings Jim-John could spy were on a great big butterfly.
Deep in the pond there swam a fish. Jim hoped that it would grant his wish. But goldfish are quite hard to grasp; it slipped away from Jim-John’s clasp and sank below. For all Jim’s trouble, he only caught an empty bubble.
Jim stamped his foot. “It isn’t fair. I can’t find magic anywhere! It takes more work than just a look. It’s not like stories in a book. So now it’s up to me, I guess, to go and clean that awful mess.”
As if he had a witch’s broom, Jim quickly flew around his room. Jim-John made both the rag and mop work fast and hard. He didn’t stop till all his clothes were put away, his bed was made; ’twas child’s play.
And when his mother came and saw what Jim had done, she said with awe, “Jim-John, someone has cast a spell! You’ve never cleaned your room so well. You washed the window—it’s still damp. You must have found Aladdin’s lamp!”
Then Jim-John laughed and shook his head and bounced upon his new-made bed. “Such magic things are scarce right now. I didn’t need them anyhow. Just by myself I’ve made things neat. I’ve done my tricks—now comes the treat!”