As I stepped out of the mansion and into the mass of people who had come to celebrate my birthday, I felt a strange sense of trepidation. I realized I was probably slightly nervous that upon seeing the celebrated birth-day boy in their presence, the celebrants would relentlessly hound me for attention. This fear turned out to be unfounded. Apparently the individuals mother and father hired to organize the party in their absence were sensible enough to invite only the sort of proper young ladies and gentlemen who would not behave in such a manor. Indeed, most carried on with their activities as if they didn't notice nor recognize me at all - what sporting chaps!

After a time I began to grow weary of everyone behaving quite so well and decided to approach a group of boys about my age.

"Good day to you, gentleman," I began. "The weather certainly is more than satisfactory for such a day of celebrating in the out-of-doors. Have you sampled any of the available comestibles? I hear the raspberry preserves are simply to die for!"

So strictly guided by their conscience to not pester me during my birth-day celebration, the boys rolled their very eyes up and away to avert their gaze from my face, then turned their whole bodies away from me! This was very grand of them, but quite unnecessary. I attempted to tell them as much.

"It's quite all right, fellows," I said, stepping closer to them as they turned away. "I grant you permission to engage in conversation with me."

But they would have none of it. The notion of leaving me alone had been so drummed into their heads that the eldest boy among them put his hand out toward me to keep me away. They must not have noticed that this accidentally sent me falling face first into a puddle of mud and dirt.

I had never fallen face first into a puddle of mud and dirt before and was uncertain for a moment just what action to take next. Surely nanny would lift me up and clean me off! But no, my ruse of sending nanny away had worked too well (likely the old cow had devoured half of my birth-day cake by now). After some minutes I realized it was up to myself to take further action. I, Winthrop Merriweather Pinfeather-Smythe, raised myself up out of the puddle of dirt and mud and lived to tell about it.

What a strange sensation it was to feel the heaviness of my wet and muddied suit against my arms and legs! This sensation did not last too long though, as I ventured out of the shade and into the hot sun. After my suit had dried, though, I noticed another curious sensation... it was becoming tighter! How could this be?

I realized with shock - I must be growing larger! After all, it was my birthday - was I not expected to grow up a little? I pulled out my new knife to look at my reflection in the blade. I scarcely recognized my own face! There, in the same place where I had fallen in the dirt, my face looked much darker and grittier. Just as nanny had said I would, I was growing whiskers! I let out a little shriek at the sight.

A young girl nearby heard the yelp and approached me. "Are you quite all right, sir?" she asked.

There - yet another sign of growing up that nanny had predicted: the attention of young ladies!

My birth-day had fully taken hold and I was turning into a man at an alarming rate! I shrieked again and shoved the little girl aside as I ran from her, tearing through the crowd of celebrants, knocking over planters and spoiling games of Kick-the-Irish as I went.

Finally, I stopped suddenly upon reaching the table of edible delights, dazzled in my haze by the sight of an iced-sculpture in the middle of the table, gleaming in the sun. The sculpture was that of a young boy with lovely ringlets cascading from his head. He was dressed smartly in a little suit with a laced collar. How in form he reminded of me of myself when I was still young, before my rapid aging had kicked in. However, he had a disagreeable way about him, this iced-boy. He carried himself in such a way that suggested he felt the whole world was his own and that everyone in it should only live to serve his whims. His little iced lips smiled in such a way that they were a sort of sneer as well. How I hated him!

But even as I noticed these details, I saw that they were slowly, slowly disappearing as well. As the sun's rays beat down upon him, the boy of ice was melting, his form becoming less defined. He was, in fact, shrinking. Here, on his birth-day when he should be growing and becoming something more, he was instead becoming even smaller, less significant, even more petty.

My rage at the ice-boy boiled over within me, took hold of me. I leaped up onto the table and tackled the hated boy of ice onto the ground. I howled with rage as I pulled the knife father had given me out and began hacking away the sculpture. I yelled words that had no meaning and stabbed and stabbed and stabbed. I vaguely remember the boy's head snapping away from the body before I succumbed to the blackness easing in around the edges of my vision.

* * *

I awoke eventually, unsure of how much time had passed, looking up to see Nanny nervously bending over me. It looked as though she had been crying. She was holding a damp cloth to my forehead.

"There's the birth-day boy," she said. "Come back to us once again. Are you feeling all right now, love?"

"Wh-where am I?" I asked.

"Back in your bedroom, Master Winthrop," Nanny answered.

"Shouldn't you be dead?" I asked.

"Why in the world would you think that?" Nanny asked stupidly. Hadn't she promised that when I had grown up she wouldn't still be around? Could it be that...

"Fetch me my looking glass," I ordered.

Nanny brought it at once and handed it to me. I looked at the reflecting surface to see my own familiar face, once more restored to a hairless angelic vision. Indeed, I could tell now that my bed and room seemed the same size in relation to me that they always had.

"I'm a boy again!" I cheered.

"Whatever are you on about?" dull Nanny inquired.

"It must've been a gift from the fairies, just as you said," I explained to the foolish old sot. "They turned me into a grown-up, just for a moment, to teach me how quickly youth may fade, and to help me learn to cherish every moment of childhood's simple delights."

"Did they?" Nanny asked, clearly still confused.

"They did indeed. And I have learned my lesson," I announced. "From now on I shall be a changed boy."

"Will you, truly?" Nanny asked, clasping her hands together at her drooping bosom.

"Indeed I will," I said. "From now on I shall revel in all my boyish impulses. I will follow my every whim, I shall delight fully in my lack of responsibilities, I shall be demanding of others free of remorse or guilt! For I am a boy again, and the world is mine!"

"Oh," said Nanny, adding after a time. "How different you shall be."

"I shall retire for the evening now," I announced. "Wish me once more a happy birth-day."

"And many happy returns," said Nanny.