The Lucky Hat


Richard had a lucky hat. He wore it to breakfast, and he wore it to bed. In fact, he hardly ever took it off. His grandfather had given it to him, and on the very first day that he wore it, Richard had caught a fish.

“It must be a lucky hat,” Grandfather had said, and Richard knew that it was true.

But it was hard to keep a hat on all the time—even a lucky hat. He couldn’t keep it on in the shower or when he went swimming. It was almost impossible to keep his hat on when he turned a somersault or did a cartwheel. And when it was windy, or when Richard ran really fast, his hat would be blown onto the ground.

When it blew off Richard’s head, his little brother Andrew would snatch it up and run with it because he wanted a lucky hat too. But no matter how much Andrew cried or screamed or kicked the floor, he always had to return it. The hat was Richard’s—Mother had said so!

Richard was glad he didn’t have to share his hat. I don’t know what I’d do without it, he thought. He had learned to do many things while wearing his lucky hat. He had learned to throw a football and to ride his two-wheeler without the training wheels. He had learned to build a house three stories high out of play logs. And now he could even write his name on the drawings he made for his mother.

But of all the nice things that had happened to Richard while he was wearing his lucky hat, the very best thing had been meeting his new friend Bernie. Bernie had moved in right next door, and he was just the kind of friend that Richard had always wished for. All summer long they had played together. Now that fall was coming, they would start school together too.

Once, Richard had been afraid to go to school. He was scared that he wouldn’t know where to go or what to do. He was scared that he wouldn’t make any friends. But since he had his lucky hat, and since he had his new friend Bernie, he wasn’t afraid at all. He couldn’t wait for the school doors to open.

And when they did, it was wonderful. He liked the room full of bright colors. He liked his teacher, Miss Evans. And he liked his classmates. Richard liked everything about school—that is, he liked it until the moment Miss Evans noticed his hat. “Please take off your hat, Richard,” she said. “You mustn’t wear it in the classroom.”

“But it’s my lucky hat,” Richard pleaded.

Miss Evans insisted, though, so Richard removed his hat. He stuffed it up the front of his shirt, but it made his stomach itch. He tucked it into his belt. But a boy grabbed it and wouldn’t give it back. Miss Evans finally took the hat and put it into her desk drawer. “You may have it back after school, Richard,” she promised.

The next day Richard didn’t want to go to school at all. First he said his head ached. Then he said his throat was sore. And then he said his stomach hurt. It did, too, because Richard was scared. But he had to go to school anyway—Mother said so.

So Richard took his lucky hat and put it up high in his closet, where Andrew couldn’t get it. Then he trudged to school with Bernie.

“It will be terrible without my hat,” he said to Bernie. But the day surprised him. Miss Evans gave him a big smile when he helped her pick up some papers she had dropped. Then he was the third one chosen in a game of ringtoss. Later his painting with the big yellow sun was hung on the wall for the whole class to see. That made Richard very proud, and he could hardly wait to tell his mother. Afterward he went out to play with Bernie and forgot all about his hat. He did remember it at bedtime, but he was too tired to get it down.

So the lucky hat stayed safe, high up on his closet shelf. Richard didn’t think of it again until two weeks later. He was looking for his favorite blue racing car when he found his hat. He dusted it off and tried it on. It fit as well as it ever did, but somehow it didn’t feel right.

“It’s hard to wear a hat all the time,” Richard murmured, “even a lucky hat.”

He took it off and started to put it back on the shelf. Then he thought, I don’t need this anymore, but I know who does.

And Richard climbed down from the stool and went to find Andrew.

[illustration] Illustrated by Pat M. Hoggan