knickersThe Mackintosh University tower clock struck five, only half an hour to go! thought Derek Scuttle. He was attending a special tuition group run by Professor Armstrong in his study. Along with him were Esther Miss Smarty-pants Hilditch and Trevor daddy’s-money Wilkins, Derek didn’t think too highly of his fellow students but he liked the Professor and to be invited to his private study sessions was an honour not to be missed. Today though he was finding it hard to concentrate, Gwendolen Poole from the refectory was meeting him out and they were going to the pictures, she had been very impressed at his, in reality Prof Armstrong’s, reincarnation of her cat Tibbles.

It was true that Tibbles now bayed at the moon, had glowing green eyes and could bite through doors but Gwennie thought it a small price to pay for the return of her beloved moggy and she had shown Derek her undying gratitude, several times in fact!

“Mr Scuttle, if you could join us in the room for a moment?” Professor Armstrong’s voice broke through his reverie. “What is the secret of conjuring objects from thin air?”

“Erm, they appear to be conjured from thin air but they are in fact trans-placed from elsewhere, Sir.” Derek replied, glad he’d read up before coming here today.

“Good, we’ll make a mage of you yet, Scuttle.” The Professor smiled, he liked Derek who was somewhat prone to mistakes but had great potential, if he would only concentrate more! “So, you must be careful what you conjure, for instance trans-placing boiling tea from a pot would be a stupid thing to do but conjuring water into a burning building would be a good thing. Magic, proper magic, is not a party trick.”

“Or a lobster from a boiling pot!” ventured Trevor.

“Hmm quite, thank you Wilkins?” said the Professor with barely concealed vexation. “Now, what is the most important thing to remember?”

“I know sir!” squeaked Esther in her nails-on-blackboard voice. “Concentrate.”

Derek spotted the object of his affection in the yard below standing next to a fruit tree, Gwennie was a well upholstered girl of the sort called pleasantly plump, with apple cheeks, dark ringlets and was wearing a pink flowery dress, he thought she looked beautiful.

“Derek!” said Armstrong rather loudly. “Pay heed to what Miss Hilditch said. Now all of you concentrate hard and when I tell you, conjure something out of thin air and remember, there is no need for incantation Mr Wilkins, we all know how you like a good chant. Right Miss Hilditch, you start.”

A book appeared in her hand and she beamed smugly.

He nodded approvingly “Mister Wilkins your turn.” An angry rooster appeared and flew about causing some disruption till the Professor sent it back from where it came. “Yes… I’m not quite sure what you were thinking there, now, Mr Scuttle, astound us with your trans-placement!”

Derek was thinking about Gwennie and there was a surprised squeal from the yard as something appeared in his hand. Derek had meant to conjure a fruit from the tree below, what was in his hand was not an apple but a pair, made of pink silk with a lacy trim and they were still quite warm, the other two students were laughing loudly and he could feel his face burning.

“Ahem” said Professor Armstrong, glancing out of the window. “I think we’ll call it a day, and I’ll see you all in the lecture hall tomorrow, you go first Derek, I think a young lady downstairs may want a word with you…”