The Magic Finger Read online
ABOUT ROALD DAHL
Roald Dahl is one of the most popular children's authors of all time. He was born in 1916 in Wales of Norwegian parents. He was educated in England and went on to work for the Shell Oil Company in Africa, becoming an RAF fighter pilot when the Second World War began. He wrote James and the Giant Peach in 1961 and every one of his subsequent books has become a much-loved bestseller all over the world. Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of seventy-four.
Books by Roald Dahl
BOY: TALES OF CHILDHOOD
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
CHARLIE AND THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR
DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD
GEORGE'S MARVELLOUS MEDICINE
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH
For younger readers
THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE
FANTASTIC MR FOX
THE GIRAFFE AND THE PELLY AND ME
THE MAGIC FINGER
DIRTY BEASTS (with Quentin Blake)
THE ENORMOUS CROCODILE (with Quentin Blake)
THE GIRAFFE AND THE PELLY AND ME (with Quentin Blake)
THE MINPINS (with Patrick Benson)
REVOLTING RHYMES (with Quentin Blake) Plays
THE BFG: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN (Adapted by David Wood)
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY: A PLAY (Adapted by Richard George)
DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN (Adapted by David Wood)
FANTASTIC MR FOX: A PLAY (Adapted by Sally Reid)
JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH: A PLAY (Adapted by Richard George)
THE TWITS: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN (Adapted by David Wood)
THE WITCHES: PLAYS FOR CHILDREN (Adapted by David Wood) Teenage fiction
THE GREAT AUTOMATIC GRAMMATIZATOR AND OTHER STORIES
SKIN AND OTHER STORIES
THE VICAR OF NIBBLESWICKE
THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR AND SIX MORE
THE ROALD DAHL TREASURY
SONGS AND VERSE
This book is for Ophelia and Lucy
The farm next to ours is owned by Mr and Mrs Gregg. The Greggs have two children, both of them boys. Their names are Philip and William. Sometimes I go over to their farm to play with them.
I am a girl and I am eight years old.
Philip is also eight years old.
William is three years older. He is ten.
Oh, all right, then.
He is eleven.
Last week, something very funny happened to the Gregg family. I am going to tell you about it as best I can.
Now the one thing that Mr Gregg and his two boys loved to do more than anything else was to go hunting. Every Saturday morning they would take their guns and go off into the woods to look for animals and birds to shoot. Even Philip, who was only eight years old, had a gun of his own.
I can't stand hunting. I just can't stand it. It doesn't seem right to me that men and boys should kill animals just for the fun they get out of it. So I used to try to stop Philip and William from doing it. Every time I went over to their farm I would do my best to talk them out of it, but they only laughed at me.
I even said something about it once to Mr Gregg, but he just walked on past me as if I weren't there.
Then, one Saturday morning, I saw Philip and William coming out of the woods with their father, and they were carrying a lovely young deer.
This made me so cross that I started shouting at them.
The boys laughed and made faces at me, and Mr Gregg told me to go home and mind my own P's and Q's.
Well, that did it!
I saw red.
And before I was able to stop myself, I did something I never meant to do.
I PUT THE MAGIC FINGER ON THEM ALL!
Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I even put it on Mrs Gregg, who wasn't there. I put it on the whole Gregg family.
For months I had been telling myself that I would never put the Magic Finger upon anyone again - not after what happened to my teacher, old Mrs Winter.
Poor old Mrs Winter.
One day we were in class, and she was teaching us spelling. 'Stand up,' she said to me, 'and spell cat.'
'That's an easy one,' I said. 'K-a-t.'
'You are a stupid little girl!' Mrs Winter said.
'I am not a stupid little girl!' I cried. 'I am a very nice little girl!'
'Go and stand in the corner,' Mrs Winter said.
Then I got cross, and I saw red, and I put the Magic Finger on Mrs Winter good and strong, and almost at once ...
Whiskers began growing out of her face! They were long black whiskers, just like the ones you see on a cat, only much bigger. And how fast they grew! Before we had time to think, they were out to her ears!
Of course the whole class started screaming with laughter, and then Mrs Winter said, 'Will you be so kind as to tell me what you find so madly funny, all of you?'
And when she turned around to write something on the blackboard we saw that she had grown a tail as well! It was a huge bushy tail!
I cannot begin to tell you what happened after that, but if any of you are wondering whether Mrs Winter is quite all right again now, the answer is No. And she never will be.
The Magic Finger is something I have been able to do all my life.
I can't tell you just how I do it, because I don't even know myself.
But it always happens when I get cross, when I see red ...
Then I get very, very hot all over ...
Then the tip of the forefinger of my right hand begins to tingle most terribly ...
And suddenly a sort of flash comes out of me, a quick flash, like something electric.
It jumps out and touches the person who has made me cross ...
And after that the Magic Finger is upon him or her, and things begin to happen ...
Well, the Magic Finger was now upon the whole of the Gregg family, and there was no taking it off again.
I ran home and waited for things to happen.
They happened fast.
I shall now tell you what those things were. I got the whole story from Philip and William the next morning, after it was all over.
In the afternoon of the very same day that I put the Magic Finger on the Gregg family, Mr Gregg and Philip and William went out hunting once again. This time they were going after wild ducks, so they headed towards the lake.
In the first hour they got ten birds.
In the next hour they got another six.
'What a day!' cried Mr Gregg. 'This is the best yet!' He was beside himself with joy.
Just then four more wild ducks flew over their heads. They were flying very low. They were easy to hit.
BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! went the guns.
The ducks flew on.
'We missed!' said Mr Gregg. 'That's funny.'
Then, to everyone's surprise, the four ducks turned around and came flying right back to the guns.
'Hey!' said Mr Gregg. 'What on earth are they doing? They are really asking for it this time!' He shot at them again. So did the boys. And again they all missed!
Mr Gregg got very red in the face. 'It's the light,' he said. 'It's getting too dark to see. Let's go home.'
So they started for home, carrying with them the sixteen birds they had shot before.
But the four ducks would not leave them alone. They now began flying around and around the hunters as they walked away.
Mr Gregg did not like it one bit. 'Be off!' he cried, and he shot at them many more times