There once was a young boy named Jack that became bored with his life in the sleepy village where he was born. Every day he got up before the sun rise and helped his grandpa feed the chickens and goats, feed the cow and milk her, and collect the eggs from the nesting boxes.

Every morning his grandma made a good breakfast and sent him off to school. At school he learned to read and write and do his sums. But his teacher was very proper and everything had to be done just so. He studied hard and learned his lessons but sometimes he forgot the rules and the teacher gave him bad marks.

One day as he was walking home from school a strange man was sitting on a rock at the side of the road. He wore a pointy green hat, a green coat and trousers and a brown shirt. His shoes were brown and as soft as rabbit fur. He was playing a tune on a tin whistle and Jack stopped to listen.

The man finished the song and grinned at Jack. “What’s your name and your heart’s desire?” he asked.

Jack thought for a minute and replied, “I’ll tell you my name if you tell me yours.” He had been warned about talking to strangers.

“I see you are a wise lad. Knowing someone’s name can give  you power over them. I’ll give you part of my name if you’ll give me part of yours,” the strange man said.

“That sounds like a bargain to me. They call me Jack.”

“Glad to meet you Jack. I’m called Gilbert.” the stranger replied. “And what is your desire, Jack?” Gilbert asked.

“I’d like to travel and see the world,” Jack said. Gilbert listened intently and nodded his head.

“What would you give me if I made that happen?” Gilbert asked.

“I have no money. What would you ask of me?” he replied.

“If I grant you this one favor, I only ask that you grant me three favors in return.”

“That sounds like you get the better end of that deal. Three favors for my one,” Jack said.

“A bright lad you are,” said Gilbert. “So, I will give you three favors but you must grant a favor of mine after I grant each one of yours. Three favors only will I grant. And three favors must you grant to me.”

Jack thought about it for a moment and agreed. No sooner than he had agreed, Gilbert disappeared and Jack was approached by a well to do man. He introduced himself as Mr Hightower and offered Jack a job as his assistant and they left town immediately  as Mr. Hightower had business all over the world.

Jack enjoyed seeing the world. They stayed in the finest hotels and ate in the finest restaurants. Mr. Hightower bought Jack fine clothes and taught him the ins and outs of his business. In short, he treated Jack like the son he’d never had.

Until one day, a year and a day after he had struck his bargain with Gilbert, Jack was sitting in a Cafe drinking coffee and waiting on Mr. Hightower to complete some delicate business transaction. Jack looked up and there stood Gilbert. “Won’t you join me?” Jack asked.

“No, thank you. I must be going. But I will ask my first favor of you. When your benefactor comes back he will ask you to carry his bag back to your hotel and have the concierge lock it up for him. You will do this but you will slip this flower in the bag before you give it to the concierge.” Gilbert handed him a small red flower. Jack looked at the flower carefully but when he looked up, Gilbert was gone.

[To be continued.]

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.