By Sam, age 18, Massachusetts
Sweet Designs Staff Intern
Henry Gobstopper was a boy of few words. In fact, Henry was much more often a boy of no words. This, however, was not the fault of Henry himself. He was a very intelligent young lad with very many things to say. It just happened to be that poor Henry was also very cursed. Yes, that's right, cursed.
No one was quite sure when or how it happened, but every time Henry Gobstopper spoke, something terrible happened. When he saw a playful little puppy and said, "Oh, what a good dog," the dog became vicious. When he tried some of Old Abigail's famous soup, and said, "Mmm, this is delicious," the soup became sour and rancid.
When he saw a rain cloud and said, "It looks like rain," a hurricane struck the town. Even when he returned a "Good Morning" to some poor unsuspecting stranger who didn't know better, the visitor was guaranteed to not have a good morning.
The villagers soon became wary of Henry Gobstopper. They knew he was a sincere boy who meant no harm, but even kind-hearted villagers can only handle so many rotten vegetables, crying children, crumbling houses, and all the other messes that occurred whenever Henry opened his mouth.
And so Henry and his parents moved to a small cottage in the middle of the forest out of the villagers' way. Henry's parents could still travel to town easily enough to work and buy food and such, and the village had its biggest trouble out of its hair. Everyone was happy. Even little Henry, who may have been a bit sad or lonely at times, was still happy.
One day, while Henry's parents were in the village doing some shopping, there was an unexpected knock at the door. Henry didn't even respond to the first knock. He merely thought his ears were playing a trick on him. His parents weren't due back for another few hours and no one ever came to the cottage.
Then the knocking came again, and Henry realized there actually was someone there. Caught off guard, Henry stumbled to the front window, deciding he would get a good look at the mysterious knocker before he went to answer.
The man standing on the Gobstoppers' doorstep, however, was not at all who Henry expected. The man was impossibly tall. Even while leaning on his cane he still looked to be a good head taller than Henry's father (who was uncommonly tall himself). He was wearing a pristine, royal blue suit with matching pants and a black tie. His hair, which was the reddest hair Henry had ever seen, was wildly curly and clumped around the black top hat sitting on his head. He even had a bright red mustache to match his hair.
Taken aback by the sight of the strange man standing in front of his house, Henry wasn't even aware he had opened the door until a boisterous voice knocked him from his trance.
"Good afternoon, lad!" the man greeted him with a bright, energetic smile. "Thank goodness you were home. You have no idea how fortunate I am to have found this quaint cottage. I thought I'd be walking for days before finding shelter here in these woods." Henry doubted the man would be lost for days, seeing as the village was only a few miles away, but said nothing, knowing that if he did say something the man could very well end up lost for days.
"You see, I am Sir Francis Derdrick Sniggleswaggle," the man continued, "of Sir Francis Sniggleswaggle's Traveling Magic Cart of Spells, Potions, and Tricks. Yet unfortunately, it seems I have lost my traveling magic cart of spells, potions, and tricks." Magic? Henry thought. Henry had never seen anything magical. Well, expect for his own unfortunate circumstances.
"Yes, my boy!" Sir Francis exclaimed, "Magic! At this point I would usually perform a small trick of entertainment to pay homage to my great talent. Unfortunately, under the current circumstances of losing my cart, I have nothing at my disposal to really use for an amateur display of trickery. So, my dear boy, I just need you to take my word for it." Henry didn't really take his word for it, but nodded to be polite.
"That a boy!" Sir Francis exclaimed. Henry was getting a bit irritated with the shouting, but still said nothing. "Now, please tell me, do you by chance have a spare compass I can use?"
Henry thought for a moment then nodded. His father kept quite a few compasses with the rest of his traveling and emergency gear. Henry motioned for Sir Francis to enter the house and make himself comfortable. He then went off in search for a compass. He returned a few minutes later to find Sir Francis observing his living room. Henry coughed to get his attention and then showed him the compass in hand.
"Fantastic, my boy! Just fantastic!" Sir Francis nearly flew across the room to grab the compass from Henry's grasp. "You truly are a life saver. I will surely be able to find my cart now. Oh, thank you. Thank you." He waved his hand over the compass. The red arrow began to spin rapidly, before slowly stopping to point west.
"Now that that's settled, I must find some way to repay your sincerity," Sir Francis said in an oddly serious voice. "I know! How about I get rid of that nasty little curse of yours? Yes, I think that would work out quite nicely."
Sir Francis then turned to Henry with a fox-like grin on his face. "But we'll have to leave right away," Sir Francis continued. "Who knows where that cart of mine has run off to. Well, come along then." He grabbed Henry by the arm and nearly dragged him out of the house and into the woods, all of his attention focused on the way the compass' little red arrow was pointing.
"Hey, wait!" Henry called out, trying his hardest to fight against Sir Francis's iron grip. But whether by the means of the curse or his own determination, Sir Francis did not wait. And poor, dear, cursed Henry was caught in the grips of an adventure about to unfold.