wildforce71: (triskell)
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Boffy Brown was six years old. He was rather small and rather thin, with large glasses and a pale, serious face. He wanted more than anything to be an inventor.

"You can’t be that until you’re grown up," said his father.

"But I’m a genius," Boffy pointed out.

"Yes," said his mother, "I’m afraid he is."

Boffy’s mother found living with a genius very difficult. Geniuses tend to think it’s tea-time when it’s only breakfast-time. And they build things with biscuits instead of just eating them. And they always use long words.

Mrs Brown put the dinner in the oven early because she wanted to start her spring-cleaning. Soon the kitchen was full of buckets and mops and dusters.

"There must be quicker ways of cleaning a room," said Boffy, and he went to his little workshop behind the cabbage patch. In no time at all, he had made a large, funny-looking machine. It had a horn at one end and a plastic sack at the other, and it was held together by rubber tubes.

"What is it?" asked Mrs Brown, as Boffy appeared in the doorway with the new invention.

"It’s a Dust Extractor, of course." And before Mrs Brown could stop him, he had switched it on.

"It works!" cheered Boffy, and the awful noise drowned Mrs Brown’s screams.
Broom and mops rattled up into the Dust Extractor. A jar of marmalade flew off the table, followed by cups, saucers and then the tablecloth. Boffy was delighted, because not all of his inventions worked. It moved nearer to the cooker. Lids flew off the pans and out popped the potatoes and runner beans. They slithered down the tubes of the Dust Extractor and took the boiling water with them. Last of all, the oven door swung open and out shot the roast pork.

"You’re a disgrace!" thundered Boffy’s mother.

"You’ll go straight to your room and you will stay there," said his father that evening.

"I’m sorry," said Boffy. It was hard being so clever.

For a whole week Boffy behaved himself. He gave his Dust Extractor to the dustmen. He sat in the garden and counted the bees.

Mr and Mrs Brown began to worry. "Do you think we should have been so cross with Boffy?" they said to each other. "If only he would invent something small...."

The next day, Boffy went to school. He was in Class 4 - because of being so clever. He should have been in Class 1, but the teacher did not want him. He kept correcting her. But Mr Grim of Class 4 had been to university, so he knew one or two things Boffy did not.

Today Mr Grim was in a bad mood. He threw a piece of chalk at Herbert Entwhistle, and made all the children stay in at playtime. He even made Jenny Green cry.

"He’s horrible, horrible," she sobbed.

"Don’t cry, Jenny," said Boffy. "I have an idea. Tomorrow you’ll have nothing to worry about."

After tea, he went to his shed behind the cabbage patch and he banged and he hammered. Then he locked the shed, kissed his parents goodnight and went to bed. His small head was quite worn out.

Next morning Boffy took his new invention with him to school. "Ooh, what’s that?" asked the children, gathering around.

"It’s a Teacher Eater," explained Boffy.

The Teacher Eater was very large. It was sort of cross between a robot and a dragon. It was made mostly of tin and, on its enormous face, Boffy had painted a big smile, because he did not want to frighten Jenny.

"Ooh, he’s super, Boffy," she said.

Boffy kept the Teacher Eater hidden under a pile of coats until after playtime. Then he wheeled it out into Class 1. The Teacher Eater swallowed the Infants teacher.

"Hurray!" cheered the children. And the noise brought the other teachers racing out of their rooms. They clapped their hands and shouted angrily. Then the Teacher Eater took a liking to the Art teacher. Her red stockings were the last the children saw of her.

"Mon dieu!" gasped the French teacher. But he had no time to say more before he was swallowed too.

The terrible machine rolled down the corridor, hungry for more. It charged here and there, gulping down teachers until there was not a single one left.

Boffy put his invention in a big cupboard and locked the door.

"Well, children," he said. "Back to your classrooms." Everyone did as they were told. They were happy to have Boffy as their new Headmaster.

Boffy went to the Headmaster’s study and sat down to think.

The next day, all the children went to school early. With Boffy as their Headmaster, they expected to spend the morning playing games and the afternoon painting or messing around. But Boffy had been thinking. He pinned up a large notice in the hall. It read:

First lesson: Sums
Second lesson: Handwriting
Third lesson: Science
Fourth lesson: Serious talk by Boffy
(signed) Boffy (Headmaster)

"What about playtime?" said Simon Goodbody, halfway through the morning.

"Work is more important," said Boffy sternly.

"But you’re not working." said Simon. "You just sit in the Headmaster’s office."

"Of course. That’s what Headmasters do. You can stay in after school."

Then a dreadful thing happened.

The Dinner Lady did not arrive. She had heard about the Teacher Eater and was too afraid to come. So the children had no dinner. And Jenny began to cry.

"I’m hungry, Boffy," she wailed.

"So are we," said Johnny and Kate, and they began to cry too.

"And your lessons are too hard. I can’t do them!"

"Neither can I!" Soon the whole school was wailing and moaning.

"I wish our teacher was back," sniffed Jenny. "I wish she was."

Boffy was cross. "You just can’t please some people."

At that moment the door opened and in stamped Boffy’s father. "Now then, Son. Where’s the Teacher Eater?"

Boffy unlocked the cupboard. The Teacher Eater gleamed in the electric light.

"Right," said Mr Brown, pulling out the machine. "Now I’ve brought along an invention. It’s not a new one, but it does work."

It was a tin opener. And gradually Mr Brown cut a large hole in the Teacher Eater’s back.

Out rolled the Infant teacher, then the Art teacher, the Needlework teacher, the French teacher..... and finally the Headmaster himself. They sat in a heap on the floor, looking dazed and crumpled. They could not think where they had been, or why. Then the headmaster caught sight of the Teacher Eater and remembered. He turned very pale. "There will be a half-day holiday today. Good afternoon, children." And the children cheered.

Mr Brown drove his son home. "You’re a DISGRACE!" he said, "and you’ll go straight to bed without tea or supper. And you will never invent anything ever again..."

"Not until I’m grown up, anyway," said Boffy.

Then Mr Brown laughed very loudly, and Mrs Brown laughed too. And they thought how lucky they were after all to have a genius in the family.

And all the other mothers and fathers in the town thought how lucky they were that they did not.


Margaret Stuart Barry
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