The Little Imps

The Little Imps

"I don't believe any more in fairies and brownies, and I don't believe in elves and imps, either," said Mary in a firm voice, trying to show her father that now she was a big grown-up girl.

"Well, you are right, Mary," answered her father, "yet, I believe that there are still plenty of little Imps around and they are causing a lot of trouble."

"Do you believe in Imps, Daddy?"

Her father's words made Mary's eyes pop in surprise.

"Daddy believes in Imps," she said to herself in a low whisper. "Yes, some of the worst Imps go to your school. But there are a number of them who live in our house, too."

By now Mary was so confused that she asked, "What do you mean Daddy?"

"Come over here by my desk," her father motioned. "Imps," he said, "are very tiny and hard to see." He picked up a pencil from his desk. "The Imps are so small they can sit astride a pencil. In fact, they like to slide down your pencil when you are working in school on a hard arithmetic problem. A bad little Imp slides down your pencil looking straight up at you with saucy eyes and shouting, IMPossible, IMPossible, IMPossible. You can't do it. You can't do it. It's IMPossible.' " Then with a smile her dad said, "I hope you box his ears so soundly that he will scamper away and never dare to come near your pencil again."

"But you said some Imps are in our house, Daddy. I never saw any here."

"Oh, haven't you?" answered Dad. "Well, let me tell you. I heard one last night when you were getting undressed. He probably crawled through the keyhole in your door. For when you couldn't untie the hard knot in your shoestring, I heard you lose your temper. I knew that IMPatient—yes, that bad IMPatient—was leering and laughing at you from the toe of your shoe."

Mary was now beginning to catch on. She blushed and asked, "Do we have any other Imps around our house?"

"Oh yes, IMPolite likes to hang around and make trouble. When you forget to say 'Thank you' or 'Please may I,' I know that IMPolite is sitting there on the rim of your ear whispering, 'Oh, don't bother to say "Thank you" and don't bother to say "Please." I never do. Just be IMPolite like me.'"

"I just wish he'd lose his balance and fall like Humpty Dumpty, so he could never be put together again."

"Actually," her father continued, "IMPolite has a twin brother whose name is IMPudent. Somehow he climbs up on the lips and sits on the corners of the mouth. When you are sulky and talk back to your mother or say when you are asked to do an errand, 'I won't go there now,' of course, it's that mean old IMPudent who gets on the tip of your tongue. If you let IMPolite and IMPudent stay around you very much, they will keep you from being liked by other people, and they will keep you from making friends."

"Well, I hate those Imps anyway," said Mary, who did try hard to be kind and polite.

"I think I have seen an Imp, too," said Mary, who now began to believe in the kind of Imps her father was talking about. "Well," she said, "I think my brother John is very self-IMPortant just because he has a new bicycle. He's so self-IMPortant that he won't let me ride on it ever. Wait and see if I don't pay him back, the old meanie."

"You may be right, Mary. Probably John has let self-/MPortant creep up on him. But when you said you'd pay him back, that was another Imp. You were IMPenitent, hard and cold and unforgiving. IMPenitent takes all tenderness and forgiveness out of our hearts. But when I hear a boy or girl say, 'I'm sorry, I forgive you, will you forgive me?' then I know they have driven IMPenitent out of their hearts. Then I know they have driven the whole gang of IMPs­IMPossible, IMPatient, IMPolite, IMPudent, self-IMPortant, and IMPenitent out of their hearts and lives."

Mary was very thoughtful for a long time. Then she lifted her head and looking at her father said, "Dad, will you come and look into my room after I get into bed tonight?"

After Mary was snugly tucked in bed that night, her father looked into her bedroom. There he saw a sign stuck on the mirror over her bureau. He walked over and this is what he read, "No Imps Allowed on These Premises."

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