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The Fourth Wish: Chapter 5 - The Great Chase

Mondo the illusionist pursues the children, intent on finding out why his show was invaded by a "plague'' of rabbits. But then the mysterious Mrs Seraphina appears on the scene...

Elizabeth Varadan's magical story brings delight to children of all ages. If this is your first encounter with Mondo, Mrs Seraphina and the children, do please click on The Fourth Wish in the menu on this page to read earlier chapters.

"Not me." Arthur held his palms out. "I didn't have anything to do with it. Let's go," he told Cory. Cory nodded.

They both dashed across Tenth Street.

"You guys!" squawked Melanie. "Wait up!" She grabbed Erin and raced after them, making it to the other side just as the light changed.

"Stop!" yelled Mondo. "I want to talk to you!"

Melanie looked back, panting. He was running in place, forced to wait at the curb, holding the small trunk with one hand and the folding table under his other arm. His face wasn't friendly.

"Why is Arthur a joke?" he cried from across the street.

The boys had already started down Tenth Street. Melanie pulled Erin along.

"Why is it all Cory's fault?" yelled Mondo. Melanie tried to stop thinking about the earlier wish. She ran harder, despite Erin's protests.

"Who is Mrs. Seraphina?" Mondo bellowed after them.

Out of breath, Melanie and Erin caught up with the boys at the corner of Tenth and T, where they all jostled and fidgeted and waited for the signal to change. Melanie looked back again. Mondo had crossed T Street and was striding after them, his purple cape flapping. Miraculously, his hat clung to his head and bobbed with each step.

"Let's cut over to Ninth," panted Arthur. Daisy’s Do-nuts was between Ninth and Tenth.

"I don't want to," whimpered Erin. "I'm tired."

"Listen, Erin. Mondo is very, very mad at us," said Melanie.

"Why?" Erin put her thumb in her mouth.

"Erin?" Arthur stooped over to make eye contact. "Race you to the park!" Erin took her thumb out and grinned.

"We can go down Eighth instead," he told Melanie, "and walk back." He took off running toward Southside Park with Cory close behind. Melanie grabbed Erin's hand again and shot after them.

When they reached the corner at Ninth, they all halted to check traffic.

Melanie glanced over her shoulder. "I don't see him," she told the others.

"Good, we shook him." Cory gave his detective smirk.

"He probably just gave up, carrying all that stuff," said Arthur. "Let's go down Ninth, like we planned."

"I wanna go to the park," whined Erin.

Melanie sighed. "I thought you were tired."

"I was tired of running."

"Okay, we'll go down Eighth and walk back. Either way," grinned Arthur, "we get doughnuts."

"We aren't going for doughnuts," Melanie reminded him, as they crossed the street. "We're figuring out what to do about Mondo."

"I just want him to stop chasing us."

"Uh-huh. And how do we do that?"

"We have to find Mrs. Seraphina," said Cory.

Melanie turned to him. "And what are you going to ask her?" Now that they weren't running from Mondo, she remembered she was missing Race to Tomorrow. "If it wasn't for that stupid wish, Mondo wouldn't be trying to find us. How do you plan to undo that?"

Cory flushed.

"Of course, Scorpion Queen would never make such a stupid wish," Arthur told Cory.

"I probably wouldn't." Melanie flicked her hair over her shoulder.

"She only agrees to stupid wishes! Psych!" Arthur slapped hands with Cory.

"We all agreed to that stupid wish," she told them.

"So, what do you think we should ask Mrs. Seraphina, oh great Scorpion Queen?"

"Never mind!" They had reached the corner of 8th and T across from the park. Melanie leaned over and asked Erin, "Do you want to go to Daisy's and have a doughnut? Or play on the swings?"

The swings and slides were on the opposite side of the park.

Her sister's eyes lit up. "Doughnuts!"


Suddenly Cory made a weird, spluttering sound, pointing down the block. "It's...it's him!" he managed to get out.''

The magician's tall frame had just rounded the two-story gray house on the corner of the alley.

"Wowie, smart plan," Melanie told Arthur. "Now what?" A rumble made her look up. Dark clouds were gathering.

"Hah!" The magician had spied them. He set his folded table on the walkway and waggled his finger at them, yelling, "We need to talk!"

Melanie glanced back at the industrial supply company across T Street. Maybe they could run inside and go out the back door.

"Hey!" Arthur exclaimed. Melanie turned again.

The small figure in the black cape approaching Mondo from the alley was unmistakable. Holding the walking stick to one side as if it were an oar, Mrs. Seraphina moved as lightly as a leaf on water with no shopping bag to slow her down.

"Mrs. Seraphina!" Erin's smile stretched nearly to her ears.

But Mrs. Seraphina didn't seem to notice them. She glided up to Mondo and tapped him on the arm. When she spoke, he had to bend over to listen. She took his palm in one hand, her other hand resting on her walking stick. Mondo’s face took on a befuddled expression. He looked idly up the street and his gaze swept over Melanie and the others without interest. Mrs. Seraphina sent them a sly smile and made a quick motion with one hand, as if to shoo them all away.

"She wants us to leave," said Arthur.

“Duh,” said Cory.

The woman said something else and Mondo leaned over again to hear.

"Well, I think we should talk to Mrs. Seraphina and make her explain everything she did to Mondo,” said Melanie. “This is all her fault."

"You think Mondo's going to believe what happened?" snorted Arthur. "No way. We need to make another wish and fix everything back the way it was."

"If we ever get another wish," Melanie said bitterly. "That was probably the only one." If she had known they could really have a wish come true, she would have wished for their father to come home again, at least for Christmas.

As it was, his Christmas package was late. She tried not to think about that.

"Mrs. Seraphina, Mrs. Seraphina." Erin waved, hopping up and down.

But Mrs. Seraphina said something else to Mondo, which made him nod. With another glance their way, she repeated the shooing gesture.

"She wants us to go to Daisy's," said Cory. "I can tell."

"How can you tell that?" demanded Melanie.

"It makes sense. That's where we were going. She's probably going to meet us there."

"Hah! Some detective! She doesn't even know where Daisy's is."

"You think she can't find out? She just stopped Mondo from chasing us, didn't she?" Cory lowered his voice. "She has...powers."

They all turned to stare at Mrs. Seraphina and the magician who had pursued them so relentlessly a few minutes before. Now the two caped figures were chatting away. Mondo looked up at the sky, as if they were discussing the weather.

"I rest my case," Cory said.

Melanie's neck prickled.

Mrs. Seraphina motioned with her hand again.

"That's three times," said Cory. "She's told us to go now, three times.”

"Things come in threes," Arthur added. "That's what my dad says."

Thunder rumbled again overhead. A raindrop splashed on Melanie's nose, reminding her that none of them had an umbrella. She had been so annoyed about Arthur coming along with them, she hadn't even thought of umbrellas. Suddenly she didn't feel like arguing.

"Let’s go," she sighed, taking her sister's hand. They all started walking quickly back toward Ninth Street. Another growl from the overhead clouds made them walk even faster.

"Cover your head," Melanie told Erin, as more droplets came down. Erin clutched her hood with her free hand and pulled it over her hair.

"If Scorpion Queen hadn't spent so much time arguing, we could be there by now," grumbled Arthur.

"If you hadn't told us to go to the park, we would be there by now!"

A sharp clap of thunder drowned out Arthur's reply. Raindrops pelted them from above and splashed up from the sidewalk like a cloud of silver butterflies. The four of them began running as fast as they could for Daisy’s Do-nuts. They dashed into the shop just before the downpour began in earnest.

© Elizabeth Varadan 2006


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