The Nicklebys: A Story for Catholic Children
by: Sue Felton


It is raining. Raindrops are plopping into the puddle outside the window. Celeste is peering out. She watches the drops slide down the window pane while she wiggles her loose front tooth. Very soon, it is going to come out. She can't wait. She plans to put it under her pillow for the tooth fairy.

The children are busy. Edward is putting together a Meccano model. Kate is in the kitchen. Delicious smells are wafting through the doorway. Kate is baking brownies for morning tea. Joe is sprawled on the floor absorbed in the latest Bush Boys adventure book given to him by Father Brown. Lizzie is threading beads onto string to make a necklace for Annie who is dressing up pretending to be a queen.

Only Celeste has nothing to do. She can't think of a single game she wants to play. "What shall I do?" she whines but no-one is listening. Mum is far too busy to listen to complaints. She is talking to a friend on the telephone and flaps her fingers, telling Celeste not to interrupt.

Celeste wanders around the room. "I'm bored," she moans to Edward.

"There is no such thing as being bored," Edward replies, repeating a favourite saying of Dad's. "Boredom is an attitude. There are lots of things to do. Use your imagination." He continues to tighten up the bolts on his model and Celeste sighs and wanders over to Joe.

"I've nothing to do, Joe," Celeste whines. Joe looks up from his book. "You'd never make a Bush Girl," he says. "They always find lots to do."

Celeste wonders when the brownies will be ready and while she waits, she runs Lizzie's beads through her fingers.

Suddenly she catches sight of an old baby toy lying half hidden in the corner. It is a trumpet. "That'll make a great noise," thinks Celeste. She pops it into her mouth and gives it a good strong blow. Honk! Honk! She decides to march around the room like a soldier. Honk! Honk! Honk! Mum quickly disappears with the telephone into another room, closing the door firmly behind her. Everyone else continues their activities except for Joe.

It is a horrible noise and Joe can't concentrate on his book. He scowls at Celeste and tells her to be quiet. But Celeste does not want to stop blowing. She feels full of mischief. She looks at Joe's face and sees he is getting angry. Instead of stopping, she blows even harder.

"If you don't stop blowing that trumpet," Joe warns, "I'll take it off you."

"Just try," challenges Celeste, before letting out an even longer honk! She skips away over to the other side of the room but Joe is close behind. Suddenly, she finds herself trapped in the corner and Joe reaches forward and pulls on the trumpet. For a moment Celeste pulls back but then the trumpet comes free.

It is now very quiet. Everyone is staring at Celeste. Her eyes are wide open and she is gulping. And then she bursts into tears. "My tooth! My tooth!" she screams. "You've knocked out my tooth!"

Joe's angry look disappears and he starts to look worried. "Show me," he says.

"I've swallowed it," cries Celeste. "My tooth was loose and you've knocked it out! What will I give the tooth fairy now?"

Celeste is sobbing like her heart is breaking. Occasionally she looks at the door hoping Mum will come in so she can tell her the sad story. But Mum does not appear. Instead Kate has been sent to find out what all the noise is about.

"It was Joe," accused Celeste, hurrying to tell her side of the story first. "He knocked out my tooth!" She opens her mouth wide and yes, there is a big gap where her tooth used to be. She expects Joe to interrupt and say it wasn't his fault but he doesn't. Joe is standing still looking very pale. "I'm really sorry, Celeste," he says quietly. "I didn't mean to knock out your tooth."

And all at once Celeste stops crying. She no longer wants to get Joe into trouble. She doesn't like to see Joe looking so worried. She hurries over to her brother and stretches her short arms around his waist. "That's alright, Joe," she says. "I was making an awful noise. I should have stopped. I'm sorry too." Then she remembers how she swallowed her tooth. "But I do wish I had my tooth!"

At last Mum appears. By this time Celeste and Joe are friends again and there is only one problem that needs solving. What will Celeste give to the tooth fairy instead of her tooth?

"How about you draw a picture of the tooth," suggests Mum. "And we can write a letter telling the tooth fairy what happened to the real one."

"We don't have to mention that it was Joe who knocked out the tooth, do we?" asks Celeste.

"No, I don't think that will be necessary," smiles Mum.

Celeste thinks about writing a letter and decides it is a good idea. She runs off to find some paper and when she returns there is Joe holding his tin of very special pencils that no-one but he is allowed to use.

"Perhaps I can help you," suggests Joe. "We can use my special pencils and I can help write the letter." Celeste's face lights up and they go together to the table to draw the best picture of a tooth they can.

Later that evening, the children gather to say their evening prayers. "One decade of the Rosary," announces Dad who has arrived back home from work. All the children fall to their knees. Edward and Kate take expert hold of their Rosary beads. They are ready to begin. Lizzie snuggles close to Mum so Mum can help her count the beads. Annie kneels for a moment then sprawls on the floor. She is tired. Joe and Celeste are kneeling quietly side by side.

They begin to recite the Creed. Then, "Our Father who art in Heaven," says Dad wondering if it is safe to close his eyes. But Annie is nearly asleep and all the other children are kneeling quietly for once.

When he gets to, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," Dad opens his eyes and looks at Mum. He has heard all about the trumpet and the swallowed tooth. They glance over to Joe and Celeste who are praying peacefully side by side.

Then prayers are over. Annie is lifted into her bed. Kate takes Lizzie off to the bathroom to clean her teeth. Edward puts the kettle on to make Mum and Dad a cup of tea. Mum and Dad settle down to watch the news. This leaves Joe and Celeste. They look at each other.

"Hey Joe, can I play with your new Lego model?"

"No! You're too young. You'll lose all the pieces."

"No I won't!"

"Yes, you will!"

"You're mean, Joe!" and Celeste pokes her brother in the side. Joe pokes Celeste back.

In the lounge room, Mum and Dad can hear the noise. They look at each other and sigh. Life is back to normal.

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