the swaying top hat

“What is it you believe in, Sir?” She asked the old man in her most dignified voice.

From beneath his top hat, he gazed at the brim. “Maybe the answer will come to me tomorrow.”

The next day she would search again for the familiar swaying black top hat. It would not be difficult to find. Its owner swung back and forth like a metronome arm–every step his old feet landed marked eighth notes on a lumpy bar measure. But the next day, the young girl could not find the melodic top hat. The moon had risen and the only thing swaying were the stalks of wheat Mrs. Norty hadn’t sold. Though the very last loaf of her hearty bread was gotten for fifty cents.

The young girl’s head was intoxicated with possibilities. She could barely contain the exploding dreams. The sandman had eaten Mrs. Norty’s dense bread and was bouncing off the old town’s tiled roofs. Sleep would not come. What did the old magician believe in? What would a person of magic wish for when he could conjure up the world and eat it with a golden fork?

The next day the anxious child balled the bottom of her ruffled nightshirt into a pair of loose burlap slacks. She tied a thin red sash through the belt loops so they wouldn’t fall down. She ran onto the cobbled street barefoot in anticipation of a glorious answer. Her little nose angled upward as she sought out the shiny swaying black topper. This day she was not disappointed. Up she bounced, tapping his old stooped shoulder.

The elderly gentleman magician turned around. He looked squarely into her bright brown eyes. “The answer has come to me, child,” he said in an elegant, spectacular voice as befitting a noble magician. He removed the near-perfect top hat from his head and placed the satin stovepipe upon the youth’s corn silk hair.

She became petrified with excitement, beneath the magical top hat. “Please Sir, today is yesterday’s tomorrow,” she timidly put forth, “Kind Magician, what is it that you believe in?”

He placed his crooked hands on her diminutive shoulders and for a moment thought of delicate hollow bird bones. “My child,” he gently answered, “I believe in the magic of unanswerable questions.” He pat the top of his old top hat and said, “For luck.”

“But most generous Sir, you should not be separated from this treasure-”

“I’ve no need of it where I am going.”

Her brimming eyes begged one thousand questions but, “Where?” was all her trembling bowed lips could manage.

He pat the top of his old top hat once more.
“I do not know that answer,” he said with a smile, then he turned and walked away.



this is my only top hat drawing and I do so love this quirky little fella though the gentleman magician described in the above little tale would appear much more elegant


13 thoughts on “the swaying top hat

  1. And he would be taller, too, I think! We used to have a friend who never took off his hat (perhaps in bed, but I don’t know about that). My theory was that he had no top to his head. I like this funny little tale very much. Much more than the angsty poetry (but that’s my Pollyanna side). – Fawn


    • Much taller 🙂
      Thanks, Fawn. I apologize for my dark stuff, but I’m just sort of experimenting here – trying all different ways to move words around. The funny thing is, I’m not necessarily unhappy when I write some of the darker thoughts…


    • The man popped in my head the other day and he seemed like such a nice fellow. I’ve no doubt been influenced by the book I’m currently reading, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark – about 1800’s magicians in England though no mention of top hats in the book yet (that probably is a leftover from playing Monopoly ;))
      Thank you for your most encouraging words.


    • Stuart,
      I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m trying to expand my writing in every direction. I do hope/pray/wish/fairy dance that I can one day in a nearby future associated with me 🙂 – get published. I’d love to leave my kiddies and their kiddies a ‘real’ book or two…


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