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Most of the time John Midas was a very nice boy. Every now and then, 0 f course, he broke a rule, such as the rule against pretending to be a tiger when his sister, Mary, was supposed to be getting to sleep.
Generally speaking, however, he behaved very well.
He should have behaved better.
He lived in a comfortable house surrounded by a green lawn and widespreading shade trees that were suitable for climbing. His mother was gentle as well as practical. His father, when he didn't have to hurry to town, spent hours telling John interesting things about baseball, beetles, birds' nests, boats, brigands, and butterflies.
John went to school and liked it. His teacher, Miss Plimsole, was fairly easy to get along with, as long as he did careful work. He had received a new, shiny golden trumpet and music lessons as a going-to-school present. Mrs. Quaver, the music teacher, had soon agreed to let him play small parts, a few notes at a time, with the school orchestra.
Finally, there was Susan Buttercup, who was in his class. Susan had soft yellow curls, round pink cheeks, blue eyes, and one of the best collections of marbles in the neighborhood.
John should have been completely wellbehaved. But he wasn't.
He had one bad fault: he was a pig about candy. Boiled candy, cotton candy, licorice all-sorts, old-fashioned toffee, candied orange and lemon slices, crackerjack, jelly beans, fudge, black-currant lozenges for ticklish throats, nougat, marrons gldces, acid drops, peppermint sticks, lollipops, marshmallows, and, above all, chocolates-he devoured them all.
While other boys and girls spent their money on model airplanes, magazines, skipping ropes, and pet lizards, John studied the candy counters. All his money went on candy,
and all his candy went to himself. He never shared it. John Midas was candy mad.
At lunch one Saturday Mrs. Midas noticed a couple of little red spots on the end of John's nose. "Look," she said to Mr. Midas. "John has spots."
Mr. Midas leaned forward to look at them. He gravely shook his head and clicked his tongue. John tried to look too. But it is very difficult to see the end of your own nose without a mirror unless you happen to be an elephant with a long nose that you can bend double. When John tried to look at the end of his nose, first with one eye and then with the other, and then with both together, all that he could see was a pink blur. Besides, trying to look at something so close-made his eyes ache.
I can't see any spots, Mother," John said.
"Well, I canMr. Midas said. "Just because you don't see a thing doesn't always mean it
isn't there. Try feeling the end of your nose with your finger."
John rubbed his finger over the tip of his nose. It felt a bit rough.
"It may be measles," Mrs. Midas said anxiously. She placed her hand on John's forehead to feel whether he was warmer than usual. "But I don't think he has a temperature," she decided.
"I suspect John has been eating too much candy again," Mr. Midas said. "Have you been eating candy this morning, John?"
"Some," John admitted.
"What?" Mr. Midas asked.
"Well," John replied. "Well... I had a few Cream Delights. Susan gave them to me."
"Anything else?" Mr. Midas asked.
"A little Toffee Crunch," John said.
"And what else?" Mr. Midas asked, beginning to look cross.
John's ears grew red. He knew he wasn't
supposed to eat candy before meals. "Oh, only, er, oh ... hardly anything else," he said.
'John!" Mr. Midas said, and his son recognized the tone. It meant that John had to tell everything.
It turned out that John had been around to see most of his friends and had managed to get candy from nearly all of them. The list he recited was a long one.
"No wonder you have spots," Mr. Midas commented at last. "I think we'd better take John to see Dr. Cranium," he said to Mrs. Midas.
Dr. Cranium was a tall, thin man with a bald head and a gray mustache. He looked through his glasses at John and said, "Hmm."
"He eats a lot of candy," Mr. Midas said.
"He hasn't been eating his meals properly," Mrs. Midas said.
"That's just what I thought," Dr. Cranium said. "I can tell by looking at him that he eats much too much candy." The doctor shone a little electric light into John's right ear. Then he shone it into John's left ear. Then he shone it in John's nose. He told John to open wide and say ah. Then he shone the light into John's mouth. "Much too much candy! Gracious me-he seems to be full of candy!"
He told John to sit down and relax. Then he picked up a small rubber-headed hammer and gave John a light tap on the right knee, just below the joint. John's foot gave a weak kick. John giggled.
"It's nothing to laugh about," Mr. Midas said.
"No, John," the doctor reproved him.. "A healthy little boy who didn't eat too much candy would kick harder than that."
"I'm sorry," John said politely. "But I can kick harder if you want me to." He gave a sudden high kick, which knocked the hammer out of Dr. Cranium's hand. It landed on its rubber head and bounced across the room.
"John!" exclaimed Mrs. Midas. "I'm so sorry, Dr. Cranium. John, tell the doctor you're sorry for kicking his hammer."
"I'm sorry I kicked your hammer," John said.
I would recommend less candy," Dr. Cranium told Mr. and Mrs. Midas. "An upset stomach can lead to all sorts of complications."...The Chocolate Touch. Copyright © by Patrick Catling. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Excerpted from The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling
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