“Dinner is at six and don’t forget the bread this time,” Salvo’s mother warned as she tossed a coin into his palm with one hand and waved a finger at him with the other.
Salvo slammed the door shut and skipped off with a football tucked under his arm, eager to play with his pals in the square below his apartment block.
The coin tossed around uncomfortably in his pocket as he played so he ran to the bakery to buy Mamma the bread she had asked for. He chose a plump loaf and set it aside on the church steps that overlooked the square, before re-joining the game.
When the church clock chimed six, Salvo’s mother beckoned from the balcony with wooden spoon and threadbare apron for all to see. When he went to collect the loaf, he found a jackdaw pecking the last of its crumbs.
“You naughty bird!” Salvo gassed, spooking the bird who flew away to preen his feathers in the church rafters. He returned home empty handed.
“Salvo! Where is the bread?”
“A jackdaw ate it!”
“I can’t trust you to do anything right!” Mamma scolded. For dinner they sipped broth and went to bed with echoing bellies.
Salvo was sent to buy bread again the next day. Off he went with a coin in his pocket, an empty belly and a scalding from Mamma.
With the loaf tucked under his arm, he passed his friends.
“Come and play with us Salvo,” they begged.
“I can’t, I’m already in trouble.”
Yet easily persuaded, Salvo set the loaf aside but this time covered it with an empty, upside down cardboard box.
The bell chimed midday and Mamma called from the balcony above “Salvo, lunch is ready!”
But when Salvo went to collect the bread, the box was over turned and where he had placed the loaf, two jackdaws pecked at the last of the crumbs greedily.
“I can’t believe this!” said Mamma as she held him by the ear, “Broth to eat again. No more football for you!”
“I’m sorry Mamma, the birds ate the loaf again!”
“If you show me these birds, I’ll make a feast of them.” Mamma hissed.
Sunday arrived and Salvo was sent to buy their daily bread.
“This is the last of our money, don’t let me down,” said Mamma as she handed him a shiny coin.
“Don’t worry, Mamma.”
Salvo hadn’t slept because his stomach had growled and churned all through the night, yet in his restlessness he’d conjured a plan. In the middle of the night when the jackdaws were tucked up safely in the rafters, Salvo went to the square and filled his pockets with stones and grit.
Off he went to the bakery that bright and sunny morning with heavy pockets. He chose the biggest loaf and made a hole in the bottom. Pulling out the soft dough, he replaced it with the stones and grit.
He set the loaf aside on the church steps and played football with his friends. Sure enough three jackdaws swooped down and pecked at the loaf. He let them peck every last crumb.
“Now we’ll see who is clever!” Salvo squealed as he went for the birds. They couldn’t fly away however hard they tried because they were full of stones!
Salvo returned home with three plump birds. That night Salvo and Mamma had a feast of their own and Mamma was most pleased.
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