The Sorcerer's Apprentice Not
"A Young King Arthur Story"
Arthur looked at the huge log pail that Merlin had built from a fallen tree trunk and the soap water within it, then he looked at the huge cave floor that stretched for yards and yards in all directions. Then he thought about the huge backrooms and the entrance, and the lower levels and the upper levels. Well, you get the idea. He did a lot of thinking. He had become immobilized.
Toe Troll, a pet he had picked up quite by accident at Givers Creek as he was crossing its rope bridge, popped his tiny head up from behind the pail, and clambered to its top. He sniffed the air, made a happy sigh, then dove into the water.
"Oh no!" Arthur cried out and ran to retrieve his little friend.
Toe Troll popped to the surface, blowing bubbles that he poked and popped as they blew from his tiny mouth.
Arthur scooped him up and shook a finger at him. "I was supposed to use that water to clean the floors."
Toe Troll gave Arthur an "I'm Sorry" look, then dove back from his hands into the pail of soapy water again. This time he began stroking around the edges of the water, singing a tiny song he had made up as he swam. "Toe ho, toe ho, it's in the bucket we go. Ho-ho-ho-ho. In the bucket we go."
Arthur shook his head and laughed. "You're so silly, Toe."
Toe clasped the pail's edge and pulled himself up to the top of it, then reached his arms up. Arthur caught him by the back of his tiny jerkin and set him in his right shirt pocket, next to the soap and sugar.
Toe looked at the sugar, rolled his eyes with pleasure and reached for some.
"That's for Dandelion, Toe. She'd be miserable if I didn't bring her some."
Arthur took pity on him and set him down on the table he and Merlin always ate on and took some of the sugar and spread it there.
Toe let out a whoop of approval and began licking it up.
Arthur laughed again, then turned to eye the job Merlin had left for him.
"If I had magic, this would be a piece of cake. Or bread at the worst." He kidded himself.
Then his eyes caught a flickering at the right of his side. He turned and sure enough it was Merlin's spare wand, making itself known. Merlin claimed it had a mind of its own and that it only did the magic it wanted to do, much like Arthur when it came time to doing his chores.
Arthur laughed yet again. Maybe there was hope for this day yet.
He'd seen Merlin use his wand enough times to know how they worked now, so he strode to the corner where the wand was dancing for attention and clasped it from the notch holder it had been stuck within.
The wand squirmed eagerly in his hands.
Arthur gave it a suspicious look.
"You're not trying to trick me , are you?"
The wand shook its top from side to side. It really did understand him, Arthur thought to himself. Or did it? He'd test it.
"Okay. If you understand what I'm saying, make a lump of sugar for Toe."
The wand nodded, then gestured with its leafy hands...Merlin always grew his wands from tree limbs he planted himself. It gestured with its leafy hands and a sparkle of white glittering light lumped in front of Toe, who burst into applause, then eagerly began digging into the extra sugar.
"Ohhhh kay." Arthur muttered, still not convinced.
The wand made a gesture of impatience.
"Refill my pail of soapy water with fresh soap and water."
The wand gestured at the pail and it sprouted legs and hiked from the cave's main room, which was also its kitchen and sleeping area, and then marched from the cave to fetch more water. Or at least that's what Arthur hoped it was doing.
Arthur sat down at the table and watched Toe eat at the sugar lump, his tiny eyes swirling with pleasure. They were black with flecks of yellow iridescence within them, so they appeared to glow, even in the daytime.
Arthur's eyelids were starting to grow heavy from waiting when the pail walked back inside with fresh water and soap inside it.
Arthur sighed with relief.
"You know." He said to himself. "Maybe instead of being a knight, I should become a wizard like Merlin."
He grabbed the wand and pointed it at the bucket. "Wash all the floors of this cave until they sparkle like the sun."
Arthur waited. Nothing happened. He pointed the wand again. "Wash all the floors of this cave until they sparkle like the sun."
This time the pail sprouted a pair of arms and hands and began sloshing water onto the floor and scrubbing it. In a matter of minutes it had cleaned the main room and was beginning on the rooms connected to it.
Arthur yawned. "Maybe a little nap until it's done won't hurt. Merlin won't be back until nightfall anyway."
Arthur went to his small cot near the stove and laid on it, closing his eyes.
"Yeah. Maybe I won't be a knight after all."
He found himself drifting off into a dream where he was taking a bath in the cave and it was filled with so much water he could swim throughout it. The water was soapy and he was blowing huge bubbles everywhere. The water was warm and pleasant and kept getting deeper, which didn't alarm him at first, until he realized he couldn't swim back out, the water had shut all the exits.
"Help!" Arthur cried out. He realized he couldn't swim forever and he was growing more and more tired. More and more weak."
The water continued to rise and soon it was up to his nose and the ceiling of the cave was a mere few inches away from his noses. "What a miserable Sorceror's Apprentice I am!" He cried out in misery.
"Arthur!" Merlin's voice boomed at him.
"I can't hear you, I'm drowning." Arthur replied.
He felt a strong hand shake him and he opened his eyes to realize that he had been dreaming. He stood up quickly and examined the cave floor. It was not wet anywhere. He looked to his right.
Merlin held up the second wand. "I found it wandering around outside with the pail of water."
Arthur gave Merlin a contrite look. "I..."
Merlin sat Arthur down. "You have far greater things to do with your life than the humble work of a magician."
"But I want to be like you, Merlin, when I grow up!" Arthur protested.
Merlin smiled. "You are more like me now than you could ever possibly imagine."
And with those words of encouragement and the rest of his nap, Arthur took the pail and began doing the work he had been putting off. And you know what. He wasn't tired when he had finished. He even had enough energy to go swimming in the moonlight at the pond, with Toe on his head and Merlin playing a flute.
No, he was a Sorceror's Apprentice not. But he was a happy young teen.