Friday, September 25, 2009

Chapter 6 "Captain Fletcher"

Question to Madeleine:  How is Madebonne going to get home to Brooklyn?

Answer:  She should call the Fairy Godmother and ask for help using her magic wand.

            Madebonne was deflated. She and Henry and Linda had worked so hard tasting the Royal food for the wedding and making ice cream and taming dragons.  All for nothing.  The 29 fish rubles in her pocket weren’t going to get Madebonne any closer to her Fairy Godmother.  Madebonne looked at Linda with a trembling lip.
“If I don’t get my mom home soon my Fairy Godmother might not be able to turn her from a goldfish back into a mom.”
“It’s the only way I know to get back to the other side of the drain,” said Linda sounding worried.  “Let’s go back to the Penguin Express Igloo and see if they have a waiting list.”  They started to walk towards the elevator when Madebonne suddenly stopped in her tracks.
“I’ve got it!” she said.  “I’ll call my Fairy Godmother and she can use her magic wand to get us back to Brooklyn.”  Madebonne pulled her butterfly phone out of her pajama pants pocket and started dialing.  Linda stopped her before the operator picked up.
“Your Fairy Godmother’s magic wand doesn’t work on this side of the drain.  That’s why she sent me to help you get back to Brooklyn.  Otherwise she would have popped you back home when you landed at the fountain at the end of the rainbow.”
“Oh” said Madebonne.  This was a real bummer.  Linda started waddling down the hallway towards the elevator.  Madebonne took her mom out of the water glass and put her back into her pajama pocket then added some water.  When her mom seemed settled Madebonne and Henry headed off down the hallway after Linda.  Madebonne rubbed her lucky necklace.  She had to think of a faster way to get back to Brooklyn.  She couldn’t be raised by a goldfish.  It wasn’t fair.
“I’ve got it!” said Madebonne again.  Linda stopped to listen.
“Maybe the Royal Magician can change her back.  If he can turn a bunch of folded paper into an army then he must be able to change my mom from a goldfish back into a mom.”
“I guess it couldn’t hurt to ask,” said Linda.  “Which way to the folding station?”  Madebonne looked around her.  The hallways were still bustling with people but she actually knew some of them now.  She saw Pixie, Trixie and Ollie who were heading towards the kitchens to finish icing the Princess’s wedding cake.  They could point the way to the Royal Magician.  Pixie saw Madebonne and waved, then fell abruptly to the floor. 
“Maxum!  Watch where you’re going” scolded Pixie as she picked herself up off the ground.  Madebonne saw people scattering as Maxum blew down the hallway.
“It’s Maxum!  He got away again,” yelled Madebonne.  “We have to catch him.”  Linda stopped and considered.
“I thought we were trying to find the Royal Magician” she said sensibly.  But Madebonne and Henry were already galloping down the hallway after Maxum.
“Come on.  He’s getting away!” shouted Madebonne over her shoulder.  Linda dove onto her belly and followed behind as they all tore down the hallway after the Royal Baby.  He sure was fast for a little guy.  They flew past the kitchens and were soon in a new part of the castle.  Madebonne realized that if they lost sight of Maxum they would be completely lost.  She stretched her legs longer so that she could keep up with him.  
They ran past sewing rooms full of luscious fabrics, dashed through the Royal shoe closet where thousands of shoes sparkled and shone, vaulted over musicians practicing the wedding march, and sprinted through a room of poets writing love songs.  Madebonne’s hair flew in the wind and her pajamas rippled and swooshed with the force of her running.  She smiled and then laughed as she ran along.  It felt great to run and run just for the fun of running.  She followed Maxum right out of the castle and across the lawn.  Luckily it had recently been watered and was nice and slippery for Linda to slide across.  They ran and ran and ran some more until the lawn started to shrink in front of them and just beyond they saw the sparkling water of the harbor.  Madebonne stretched her legs a little longer.  She needed to keep up with Maxum so that he didn’t speed into the water.  But he was fast and showed no signs of slowing down.  Madebonne could smell the salt water and feel the spray on her face.  A few more steps and they would soon be swimming instead of running.
“Stop Maxum.  Stop!” screamed Madebonne.  And he stopped.  Just like that.  Madebonne, Henry and Linda didn’t have time to put on the brakes and they crashed into a heap at the edge of the harbor.  Madebonne looked down into her pocket to make sure that her mom was okay, then lifted her head and looked at Maxum.
“You are one crazy baby” she said, laughing.  
A beautiful sail boat drifted in to the slip.  The captain stood at the helm, his crisp white shirt billowing in the wind.  He docked the boat, tied it up with some fancy knots and then hopped on shore.  He had a mop of blond hair that poked out from under a large straw hat.  Madebonne could tell that he had been sailing the seas for many years because his face was creased like a map and his eyes danced with secrets.  She stood up and brushed herself off then walked over to where the sail boat was docked.  The captain was busy tying off the boat to a pylon.  When he was finished Madebonne introduced herself.
“Hello, I’m Madebonne,” she said.
“I’m Walter Fletcher, Captain of the Maxum III, at your service” he said with a bow.  As he stood he swept his hand towards the sail boat and sure enough, right there on the side of the boat was its name “Maxum III” printed in purple letters.
“Is this Prince Maxum’s boat?” asked Madebonne.
“This is his Grandfather’s boat,” said Captain Fletcher.  “Prince Maxum is Maxum V.”  Madebonne looked around but Maxum V was no where to be seen.  Once again he had given her the slip.  She sighed and turned back to Captain Fletcher.
“I don’t suppose you know how to get to Brooklyn,” said Madebonne.
“I am one of the senior captains of the Royal Fleet,” said Captain Fletcher indignantly.  “Of course I know how to get to Brooklyn.  I can sail anywhere in the world.”  Madebonne stepped back, a little frightened by his anger.
“I’m sorry Captain Fletcher,” she said.  “I just didn’t know if it was possible to sail to the other side of the drain.”
“Well, you can’t take the drain or the Express tunnel,” said Captain Fletcher softening a bit.  “You have to go around the long way.  Depending on wind speed it could take up to seventeen hours.”
“Seventeen hours?”  Madebonne had no idea she had gotten so far away from home.  She looked down at her mom in her pocket.  Would seventeen hours be too long for her mom to be a goldfish.
“Yes, seventeen hours,” repeated Captain Fletcher.  “What’s all the interest in Brooklyn anyway?  It’s nice and all, but it doesn’t compare to this beautiful land now does it?”
“It’s where I live,” said Madebonne with tears in her eyes.  “And I have to get back there as quickly as I can so that my Fairy Godmother can turn my mom back into my mom.”
“Why what’s happened to her?” asked Captain Fletcher.
“She’s turned into a fish,” said Madebonne and she let Captain Fletcher look into her pocket where her mom swam around in circles.
“I haven’t ever seen that before and I’ve seen some crazy things in my lifetime,” said Captain Fletcher.  “Well good luck getting back home.”
“I don’t suppose you could take us to Brooklyn,” said Madebonne hopefully.  “We can pay you.  We have twenty-nine fish rubles.”
“Oh no, not a chance.  I am not a chauffeur.  I work for the Queen,” said Captain Fletcher.  “Besides, I have been invited to the Princess’s wedding.  It’s a great honor and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”  Madebonne’s heart sank.  If she had to wait two weeks for the next seat on the Penguin Express her mom might be a fish forever.  Suddenly her butterfly phone fluttered out of her pocket. 
“Hello,” said Madebonne.
“May I speak to Captain Fletcher please?”
“It’s for you,” said Madebonne handing the phone to Captain Fletcher.  She couldn’t put her finger on it but the voice sounded familiar.
“Hello, this is Captain Fletcher,” he said into the phone.  “Of course.  Yes.  I had no idea.  You don’t say.  That’s amazing.  Yes Your Royal Highness.  I’ll get right on that.  Good bye.”  Captain Fletcher handed the butterfly phone back to Madebonne.
“That was the Queen,” said Captain Fletcher.  “She has enlisted me to take you back to Brooklyn.  I apologize Madebonne.  The Queen said that there would be no wedding if you hadn’t captured and tamed the dragon.”  Madebonne blushed.
“How did the Queen know that to call you on my phone?” asked Madebonne.
“The Queen knows everything,” said Captain Fletcher.  “Shall we get going?  We have a long trip ahead of us.”  Madebonne was so happy that they had found another way home that she hugged Henry until he squeaked.
“Hop on board and I’ll show you our route to Brooklyn,” said Captain Fletcher.  Madebonne climbed on board the sail boat with her mom safely in her pocket.  Linda and Henry hopped up behind her and Captain Fletcher brought up the rear.
The sail boat was massive.  Captain Fletcher led them below deck to a wood paneled room where everything was dedicated to maps.  There were maps everywhere, pinned to the walls, rolled up on shelves, in books and folded up in stacks.  Captain Fletcher hunted around for a moment and then spread out a map on a large table in the center of the room.  Madebonne peered at the map.  She recognized some familiar spots like the rainbow at the end of the drain, the ballerina fountain, the sled shack, the Penguin Express igloo and the Castle.
“As you can see, we’ll depart from the Royal Harbor here” said Captain Fletcher, pointing at the map “and sail through the Straits of Maxumus which will lead us to the Atlantis Ocean.”
“Don’t you mean the Atlantic Ocean?” asked Madebonne.
“An excellent question.  I see you are a lover of geography.  On this side of the drain we sail through the Atlantis Ocean.  When we are ten degrees south of the Isle of Gertrude we dive.”
“What do you mean we dive?” asked Linda.
“We dive, like a submarine, through the Porthole of Atlantis and right out the other side to the Atlantic Ocean.  From there we turn left at the Statue of Liberty and then it’s a short sail up the East River to Brooklyn.  Piece of cake.”  Captain Fletcher traced his finger along the map, landing in Brooklyn.  He looked very pleased with himself.
“How does a sail boat dive?” asked Madebonne.
“It’s very technical but entirely possible,” said Captain Fletcher.  “I’ve done it many times.  We just have to make sure to close all the hatches.  I forgot the rear hatch one time.  What a mess.  Luckily I had on my scuba gear or I would have been a goner.”
Madebonne looked at him with alarm but Captain Fletcher was already heading out of the room.  Madebonne, Linda and Henry followed after him.
“What do you mean you would have been a goner?” asked Madebonne as she followed Captain Fletcher above deck.
“It’s all part of the adventure on the seas my dear,” he said with a wave of his hand.  “Now let’s set sail so that we can get you back home.”  They all stood on deck as Captain Fletcher untied the boat from the dock, hoisted the sails and then steered the sail boat into the harbor.  As they headed out towards the Straits of Maxumus, the Castle faded farther and farther away.  Finally, they were headed home.  They were a couple of hours out to sea when the sun began to set and the stars came out.  Madebonne, Henry and Linda lay on their backs on deck and looked up at the stars. 
“Ggggrrrrrrruuuuuuunnnnnkkkkkkk.”  Madebonne sat up and looked around.
“What was that?” she asked.  Captain Fletcher rubbed his hungry belly.
“It’s getting late.  We should probably have some dinner,” he said.  “Let me set the controls to auto sail and then we can head below deck.”  Henry’s stomach growled in agreement.  

“Madebonne, let me borrow your butterfly phone and I’ll call your Fairy Godmother and let her know where we are,” said Linda.  “I’ll meet you in the kitchen in a few minutes.”  Madebonne handed Linda her phone and then followed Captain Fletcher to the kitchen where he rummaged around in the cabinets looking for something to eat.  He finally pulled a large bowl out of the refrigerator and four spoons from a drawer.
“Voila!” he said triumphantly.  “Dinner is served.”  Madebonne giggled.
“Chocolate mousse for dinner?” she asked not believing her eyes.  Henry growled a bit.  He preferred something a little saltier like chicken feet or camel whiskers.
“Who says you can’t have chocolate mousse for dinner,” said Captain Fletcher defiantly.  “We are Adventurers of the Sea and no one tells us what to eat or when to go to bed.” 
“My mom would never let me do this.” said Madebonne grabbing a spoon.  She avoided looking into her pocket although she could feel her mom wiggling away.  By the time Linda made it to the kitchen, half of the bowl of chocolate mousse was gone and Madebonne’s face was covered in chocolate.
“Oh no,” said Linda grabbing Madebonne’s spoon but realizing that she was already to late. 
“This chocolate mousse is so delicious,” said Madebonne jumping up onto her chair.  Then she hopped up onto the table, ran across it and jumped off the other side.  Captain Fletcher looked at her in amazement as Madebonne ran laps around the kitchen.
“What is she doing?” asked the Captain.
“This happens when she eats too much chocolate,” said Linda.  “We need to sing to her to get her to calm down.”  Captain Fletcher was only too happy to sing one of his seafaring songs and eventually Madebonne slowed down and exhausted, flopped into a chair.
“My stomach hurts,” said Madebonne rubbing her belly.
“Whatever made you think that you could have chocolate mousse for dinner?” scolded Linda coming over with a lemonade pitcher full of water. 
“Because I’m an Adventurer on the sea,” replied Madebonne sheepishly.  Linda gave Captain Fletcher a sharp look but he just whistled a tune and pretended to tie his shoes.  They carefully put Madebonne’s mom into the pitcher.  She swam around dizzily after the mad dash around the kitchen then finally settled down.  Madebonne felt her mom staring at her so she went over to the pitcher and leaned down and peered through the glass.  Her mom swished her tail and stared into her eyes.
“I know mom, I know better than to eat chocolate mousse for dinner,” said Madebonne.  “I’m sorry.  And now I have a terrible stomach ache.”  Her mom gave another swish of the tail then pressed her fish lips to the glass and swam away. 
“At least she’s still acting like my mom,” said Madebonne gratefully.
“I think that we should get Madebonne to bed,” said Linda to Captain Fletcher.
“Good idea,” said Captain Fletcher, happy to leave the kitchen before he got a scolding too.  He led them out of the kitchen to their sleeping quarters.  Madebonne would have been excited to see that they were staying in the Princess Suite if her stomach didn’t feel so terrible.  It was a beautiful creamy white room with portholes for windows, a four poster bed piled high with lavender pillows and a sitting area with a plush couch and a reading chair.  Captain Fletcher tucked Madebonne into bed and then strapped the lemonade pitcher with Madebonne’s mom to the lamp on the night stand so she wouldn’t slide off in the night.  Henry curled up at the foot of the bed.  And Linda, who didn’t need much room now that she was a penguin, hopped up on the couch and snuggled under a blanket. 
“Where will you sleep?” asked Madebonne.
“I never sleep when I sail” said the Captain.  “Plenty of time to sleep on land.”  He gave them a grand bow and headed back up top.  Madebonne, Henry and Linda were all asleep in minutes as the boat gently rocked over the waves towards home. 
The next morning the sun streamed through the portholes and woke Madebonne with a blast of light to her eyelids.  She stretched and turned and stretched some more.  Finally she cracked open an eyelid.  Henry cracked open an eyelid back at her.  They both sat up in bed and their stomachs growled so loudly that Linda woke up from the noise.  Madebonne and Henry hopped out of bed.
“Let’s go find Captain Fletcher and see how close we are to Brooklyn,” said Madebonne excitedly.
“You go ahead,” said Linda, who was not a morning person.  “I’ll catch up with you in a minute.  Let me know if you find any coffee.”  She pulled the blanket back up under her chin and closed her eyes.  Madebonne unstrapped her mom from the night stand and she and Henry dashed out of the room.
Up on deck they found Captain Fletcher at the helm of the boat gazing into the distance.  He looked like he needed some coffee too.
“Good morning Captain Fletcher,” Madebonne exclaimed.  The sun was shining and sparkled on the water which stretched as far as she could see in every direction.  They must have sailed far into the Atlantis Ocean during the night.
“Finally, you’re awake.  I thought you might sleep all day.”
“Are we close to the Isle of Gertrude?” asked Madebonne.
“I’m afraid not,” said Captain Fletcher rather glumly.  “We have a big problem.  No wind.  It’s been like this for hours.  And you need wind to sail.  At this rate we won’t get to Brooklyn until my birthday, which isn’t for months.”  Madebonne wasn’t expecting this kind of news on such a beautiful day.
“What are we going to do?” asked Madebonne.  “Are we stuck?”  She looked up at the sails.  They were a sad sight and hung limply from the masts.  This didn’t look good.  Henry curled up in a patch of sun and put a paw over his eye.
“There’s only one thing to do” said the Captain.  “We have to make a storm.”
“How do you do that?” asked Madebonne with wide eyes.
“Follow me” said the Captain as he strode below deck.  Madebonne hurried after him down some stairs and along a hallway.  Captain Fletcher stopped at a door marked “closet” and went inside.  Madebonne stepped in behind him and was surprised to see that they were in fact standing in a real closet not a broom closet.  There were racks and racks of clothing along the walls.  Captain Fletcher grabbed things off of hangers and out of drawers and piled them into Madebonne’s arms.

“Put these on” he instructed.  Madebonne pulled on a yellow rain slicker, some green rubber boots that came up to her knees, a pair of orange goggles and a rain hat.  The Captain stuck some silk scarves in her pockets.  He grabbed a rain slicker and some boots for himself and ushered her out of the closet.  They bumped into Linda as she waddled sleepily down the hallway. 
“What in the world are you doing?” asked Linda with an amused look on her face.  Madebonne shrugged.  She wasn’t sure what they were doing yet either.
“We’re making a storm” said the Captain as he climbed the stairs.  Madebonne and Linda followed behind.
“There’s no wind and the boat hasn’t moved for hours” Madebonne explained.
“Oh, that’s not good” agreed Linda.  She followed them up top.  
“What’s this about a storm?”  Madebonne shrugged.  She was beginning to sweat.  Rain slickers are not good in the sun.  They really are made for the rain.  Captain Fletcher was all business.
“We need to batten down the hatches” he bellowed.  “Madebonne go fore, Linda go aft, I’ll raise the gollywobbler.  Henry head up to the monkey deck and tighten the leech line.”  They stared at Captain Fletcher, not understanding a word he was saying.  But he didn’t seem to notice and ran around locking portholes and tightening lines until everything was set for the storm.  Henry did manage to wake up from his nap and watched with a certain amount of interest.  Finally, after strapping the lemonade pitcher with Madebonne’s mom to the mast, Captain Fletcher gathered them together.
“Now for the storm.  Ideally we would like to only summon the wind.  Unfortunately, once you get a good wind going the big fluffy, white clouds start rolling across the sky.  Then the rain clouds follow behind.  The wind shakes the rain drops out of the clouds and then there’s thunder and lightening before you know it.  So we must summon the wind slowly and carefully.“
“I sure could use a breeze,” said Madebonne, sweating in her slicker and her goggles.  “I feel like it’s raining in my coat.”  Linda snickered but Captain Fletcher looked at her sternly.
“You’ll be happy you’re wearing that get up, trust me.  Now, take those silk scarves out of your pocket and we’ll get started.”  Madebonne pulled three white silk scarves out of her pocket and handed them to Captain Fletcher.
“The wind is very playful and curious,” explained Captain Fletcher.  “When it sees a cloud it wants to dance and play with it.  We can trick the wind with these scarves by making them dance like clouds.”  Captain Fletcher demonstrated by taking one of the scarves from Madebonne.  He gracefully swayed and twirled across the deck and his scarf flirted and rippled above his head.  Madebonne clapped wildly. 
“Let’s get this wind brewing” said Captain Fletcher.  “Madebonne and Henry will perform the cloud dance on deck.  Linda, I’d like you to hop in the water and make some waves that tickle the sides of the boat.  I’ll stand by at the helm with my wind sounder and as soon as we get the slightest breeze I will steer us towards Brooklyn.”  Madebonne grabbed a scarf in each hand and Captain Fletcher tied the third scarf to Henry’s tail.  Linda waddled to the side of the boat and dove over the edge.  Captain Fletcher stood at the helm and pulled a conch shell out of his pocket.

          “Ready, set, wind!” he said and then blew into his shell and made the most beautiful swishing windy sounds.  Madebonne started her dance with a gentle fluttering of her arms, two twirls and a saunter.  Henry leapt nimbly from deck to mast to mast to deck with his scarf billowing after him.  Linda’s swam in dips and circles and her waves dreamily lapped the sides of the boat.  The tiniest of breezes began to tickle Madebonne’s cheeks.  She looked at Captain Fletcher whose eyes sparkled excitedly.  He gave her a nod.  Madebonne added a warble and a swoop to her dance.  The sails fluttered.  Captain Fletcher put one hand on the helm and blew a little harder into the conch shell.  The waves gently rocked the boat and the breeze blew a little harder.  The sailboat crept forward.  Captain Fletcher pointed up at the sky where several clouds had gathered.  Madebonne sashayed to the left and jelly rolled to the right.  Henry jumped onto the deck and started chasing his tail.  The sails plumped up with wind and the boat picked up speed.  

              Captain Fletcher put his shell back in his pocket and steered the ship towards the Isle of Gertrude.  More clouds danced across the sky as Henry spun around and around in a flurry of white as the boat sliced through the waves.  Madebonne laughed at Henry who had turned into a swirling white tornado.  She spun around with him and laughed and laughed.  The boat picked up speed as they danced and spun in a frenzy.  Clouds flew across the sky and Captain Fletcher shouted into the wind but his voice carried away from Madebonne and she couldn’t make out what he was saying.  Madebonne fell to the deck, dizzy and tired and felt the cooling winds sail them along.  Linda shot straight up out of the water and landed on the deck.  They were racing along and would get to Brooklyn in no time.  The boat picked up momentum and the waves sprayed over the sides of the deck.  Water misted over them and Henry began to growl.  He sunk his belly low to the ground and another wave crashed over the side.  A flash of lightening lit up the sky and some pearl grey clouds appeared above them.  Henry hated getting wet and he growled louder.  A thunder clap roared back at him.

“Uh oh” said Madebonne.  Henry slunk low to the ground and ran below deck.  The boat rocked wildly and the rain started to fall in buckets.  Madebonne pulled her goggles over her eyes and ran over to her mom who was still securely strapped to the mast.  Water was sloshing over the sides of the lemonade pitcher as the boat sailed over the gigantic waves.  Captain Fletcher raced over and helped Madebonne untie the pitcher from the mast.
“Get below deck before you fall overboard,” ordered Captain Fletcher.  Madebonne grabbed the pitcher and she and Linda headed to the stairs.  Captain Fletcher headed back to the helm.  Linda hopped down the stairs and as Madebonne closed the hatch they heard a loud crash.

Question to Madeleine:  What is the loud crash?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chapter 5 "Dragons!"

Question to Madeleine: Where is the Royal Baby hiding?

Answer: Behind the throne.

Madebonne was having a hard time waiting for the Royal Acrobats to arrive. The excitement of painting with icing on a wedding cake for a real Princess was almost too much to bear. She stretched to the top of the cake to have a look around. The castle grounds stretched away in front of her. She gazed in every direction but she didn’t see any Royal Acrobats heading her way. Madebonne took a couple of hops on top of the spongy cake. She couldn’t believe how high up in the air she could bounce. Suddenly a bird swooped past her and Madebonne lost her footing. She fell with a plop. Luckily the cake was soft and cushiony and she didn’t even skin her knees. She sat up and caught her breath and then noticed the water glass rolling away from her and her mom was flopping around on top of the cake.

“Oh no, oh no,” said Madebonne, alarmed. “I need to find water, right away!” She carefully scooped up her mom and put her back into the glass then stretched back down to the bottom of the wedding cake. Madebonne looked around frantically. She ran as fast as she could down the hallway and found a pantry full of pots and pans of every shape and size on one side and jars and bottles and spices on the other.

“There must be water in here somewhere,” said Madebonne as she tore through the room. She set her mom down and climbed up the shelves, took the lids off pots, foraged behind bags of grain and flour until she finally found a case of bottled water on a bottom shelf near the back. She whipped the cap off the bottle and ran to the glass where her mom flopped around, trying to breathe.

“Here I come mom,” shouted Madebonne as the grabbed the glass and poured the water into the glass until it overflowed. She sank to the ground and watched her mom swim around, letting the water wash through her gills. The tears poured out of her eyes.

“I’m so sorry mom,” she gulped. She couldn’t believe how careless she had been. Her mom swam towards her and bumped her fish lips to the glass. Madebonne laughed.

“You forgive me?” she asked. “I promise to be more careful.” Madebonne kissed the side of the glass and her mom went back to doing laps. A pot on a lower shelf started rattling and shaking. Madebonne jumped sky high. When she landed back on the ground she gingerly walked up to the pot as it rocked from side to side. What could be in there? Lobsters snapping their claws? A swarm of angry bees? She heard a squawk. Maybe it was a chicken. Madebonne crept closer and pressed her ear against the pot. She heard a gurgle and then another squawk. It didn’t sound like bees so Madebonne slowly lifted the lid and peaked inside. It wasn’t a lobster or a chicken. It was a baby wearing a tiny crown. With one giant grateful squeak the baby lifted up his arms and Madebonne helped him out of the pot. As soon as he was free, the baby squirmed out of her arms and crawled away. Madebonne grabbed the glass with her mom and followed him but he crawled so quickly that she had to run to catch up. Just as she was about to grab the baby by the toe she looked up and saw Henry. The baby quickly crawled out of sight but Madebonne was so happy to see her friend that she barely noticed.

“Henry!” Madebonne shouted. He was standing next to a giant ice cream machine and held the crank with his tail. Linda stood on a ladder, pouring buckets of berries into the ice cream mixture.

“Hey Madebonne” said Linda. “Have you already finished icing the wedding cake?”

“No,” she replied. “I’m still waiting for the Royal Acrobats to arrive.” Linda poured in the last of the berries and closed the lid.

“Crank away Henry” she said. Henry gripped the crank and started to trot around the ice cream maker. With each turn of the crank, the berries mixed with the cream and froze into ice cream. Suddenly there was a commotion and a disheveled looking group dashed into the room carrying butterfly nets and pushing a baby crib.

“Excuse me,” said a short man who was out of breath. “Have you seen the Royal Baby? We’ve been chasing him for hours. I wish I could stop for just a minute to catch my breath and have a wee cup of tea.”

“Impossible!” said an even shorter man. “We must find the Royal Baby before the wedding. He will be the one to bring the wedding ring down the aisle. We don’t have a moment to lose.” The short man nodded his head and sighed.

“I saw him,” said Madebonne. “He was stuck in a pot so I helped him out. He crawled that way.” And she pointed towards a door on the other side of the room.

“Thank you” said the short man and the shorter man. The whole group dashed out the door. Madebonne snickered as she watched them go. They were going to have a hard time catching the Royal Baby. She had never seen a baby crawl so fast.

“I better get back to the wedding cake” said Madebonne. Henry continued his cranking and Linda waved a flipper. “See you when you’re done.”

Madebonne got back to the courtyard and was delighted to see that the Royal Acrobats had finally arrived. They were bouncing around on the top tier of the spongy cake, doing double and triple flips. Madebonne balanced her mom on her head and stretched to the top of the cake.

“Hello,” she said. “I’m Madebonne. Chef Pinetop sent me to help ice the wedding cake." Madebonne grinned like a Halloween pumpkin. She was so excited that she could barely talk. The Royal Acrobats stopped their jumps and flips and stared at Madebonne. They peered over the edge of the cake and saw that she was stretched forty feet down to the ground.

“Pretty impressive,” said one of the Acrobats. “We could definitely use your help. My name is Rodolfo and this is Pixie, Trixie, Nick, Ollie and Abigail.”

They all took a bow forward and then did a back flip.

“Stretch on up here and we’ll show you the ropes.” Madebonne snapped herself up to the top of the wedding cake. Rodolfo handed her a bucket of icing and led her across the top of the cake until they were on the other side facing the Royal Garden. They peered over the side and Madebonne could see dozens of people busily icing the cake all the way down to the ground.

“The bottom nine tiers are iced and the decorations team is painting on the flowers,” said Rodolfo. “The Royal Acrobatic Team needs to finish the top three levels. First we put on the base coat of white icing to seal in the moisture in the cake. Then we paint a second coat for extra glazing. The third and final stage is the sparkle coat. If you are ready I’ll send you down to tier three with Nick, Ollie and Pixie to start the base coat.”

“I’m ready,” said Madebonne. She grabbed her bucket of icing and her roller and followed the Acrobats to the edge of the cake. Nick, Ollie and Pixie vaulted over the edge. Madebonne stopped to take one last look before she jumped down to tier three. She could see the Royal Gardens bursting with flowers just past the courtyard where the cake was being iced. Beyond that was a sea of rolling hills where she could see pops of light like sparklers.

“I love it here. How do the hills twinkle like that?” Madebonne asked Rodolfo.

“Twinkle?” asked Rodolfo looking alarmed. He pulled a pocket telescope out of his coat and peered into the distance.

“This isn’t good,” said Rodolfo.

“What is it?” asked Madebonne.

“Dragons! They are trying to ruin the Princess’s wedding. I need to sound the alarm.” Rodolfo somersaulted to the bottom of the wedding cake. Madebonne followed with her mom balanced on her head. He marched over to the wall and pushed a giant green button. Suddenly deafening bells clanged throughout the castle and people started rushing everywhere.

“Where is everyone going?” asked Madebonne.

“We have to report to the folding station. Come on. We don’t have a moment to lose.” Rodolfo grabbed Madebonne’s hand and hurried her along with the crowd. The other Royal Acrobats followed closely behind. After a few twists and turns Rodolfo rushed through a giant door into a huge room filled with long tables and stacks and stacks of paper. Madebonne looked around, confused.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “What’s a folding station?”

“We have to build the army to fight the dragons,” said Pixie. "Here, I'll show you how."

The Royal Acrobats took Madebonne over to one of the tables and grabbed a stack of paper. They showed her how to fold and fold and crease and fold and then fold the paper again until presto! There stood a paper armor knight ready for battle. The room started to fill with knights. The Royal Magician activated them with a swish of her wand and sent them out the gate to battle the dragons.
Madebonne watched for a while and then decided to give the folding a try. Her first knight had three legs and seventeen fingers. Her second knight had no arms and two heads. Her third knight was so grumpy that he bit the Royal Magician. But her fourth knight was perfect. Madebonne was so proud that she walked him over to the gate and gave him a hug as he left for battle.

He marched in perfect formation across the battle field with the other paper armor knights. A dragon flew into view and circled over the army. The knights drew their swords and yelled a battle cry. The dragon swooped lower and with a loud huffening grump breathed fire onto the paper armor knights. They all burst into flame and their ashes floated to the ground. Madebonne couldn't believe her eyes. Her beloved knight had just burst into flames. She was so mad that she stomped out the door towards the dragon. Another army of knights marched out with her. The dragon circled high into the air as they crossed the battle field. He dove right towards her, licking his lips. Then he took a deep breath and was about to spit a fireball right at the new army of paper armor knights.

“STOP!” bellowed Madebonne, little puffs of smoke escaping from her mouth. The dragon was so surprised that he screeched to a halt in mid air and then fell to the ground with a plop. The knights were crushed under his big rump. Madebonne stared at him with fire in her eyes.

“What do you think you are doing?” she scolded the dragon. He stared back at her with fire in his eyes. Then he started to rumble and growl. Madebonne heard a shriek from the castle.

“Madebonne! Run for your life!” screamed Pixie and Ollie. But Madebonne wasn’t going to let any old dragon ruin the Princess’s wedding. The dragon took a deep breath. Just as he was about to breathe fire and burn her to a crisp, Madebonne punched him in the nose. The dragon’s eyes smarted and he looked at her in disbelief.

“Come with me,” said Madebonne grabbing the dragon by the wing. “We need to fix your bad attitude.” Madebonne marched back across the battle ground towards the folding station. The dragon limped behind her. As she neared the gate the Royal Folders scattered in terror and hid under the tables. The new army of paper armor knights quaked at the knees.

“Hold your breath so we don’t have any accidents” Madebonne ordered the dragon. They crossed through the folding station where Madebonne picked up the water glass with her mom the goldfish. Then they went down the hall, past the wedding cake, through the pots and pans pantry and into the ice cream station. Henry and Linda looked up in surprise as Madebonne came through the door with a dragon.

“We need some ice cream” said Madebonne. “And lots of it.”

“Perfect timing,” said Linda. “We just finished this batch. Are you having a fire emergency?”

“Yes. This dragon keeps burning down the army and he wants to ruin the Princess’s wedding,” said Madebonne, exasperated.

“Well that’s very badly behaved,” said Linda putting a large bowl of ice cream in front of the dragon.

“You look like you could use some ice cream too” and Linda put a smaller bowl of ice cream in front of Madebonne who still had fire dancing in her eyes. She and the dragon started to eat and with each spoonful of ice cream the fire in their eyes dimmed a little bit more. When the fire was at a safe level Madebonne asked the dragon why he wanted to ruin the Princess’s wedding.

“Because we are never invited to any Royal events. No weddings, no birthdays, not even to a Royal bar-b-cue. And we’re really good at cooking burgers and chicken,” said the dragon. As he spoke the fire began to dance in his eyes again.

“Pop a few of these in your mouth” said Madebonne, handing the dragon some ice cubes. “Maybe if you promised not to burn things down, you could be invited to the wedding.”

“Do you really think so?” asked the dragon hopefully.

“I do,” said Madebonne. “Let’s go talk to the Queen.” Madebonne, Henry, Linda, her mom the goldfish and the dragon went off in search of the Queen. After wandering the halls for twenty-six minutes and frightening every single person who crossed their path, Madebonne realized that she had no idea how to find the Queen.

“Why don’t you try calling her on your butterfly phone” suggested Linda the Penguin. Madebonne hit herself in the forehead. Of course! This was obviously an emergency. She pulled the butterfly phone out of the pocket of her pajamas and opened it up. The wings fluttered and hummed. Madebonne dialed “Q” for Queen.

“Hello, Operator,” answered the Operator.

“Hello.” replied Madebonne. “May I please speak with the Queen?”

“What is the state of your emergency?” asked the Operator.

“I have captured a dragon who wants to burn down the Princess’s wedding but he just had some ice cream and he’s feeling nicer and he may want to be friends but we need to talk to the Queen,” explained Madebonne.

“I’ll connect you to the castle. Please hold.”

Madebonne held.

“Good Afternoon. Castle of Her Royal Highness, Queen Winifred of Elderberry, how may I help you?”

“Hello” said Madebonne. “I need to see the Queen right away. It’s very important.”

“Hhmmm, yes. Let me see here. I am looking at the Royal Appointment Book and the next available time to have an audience with Her Royal Highness will be in seventeen months and three days from today. Shall I pencil you in?”

“Seventeen months and three days?” squeaked Madebonne. “I don’t think that the dragon will wait that long.”

“Dragon! Are you the girl who captured the dragon?”

“Um, yes” whispered Madebonne.

“The Queen will see you right away. Please wait for an escort.”

Madebonne hung up her butterfly phone and put it in her pocket. A few minutes later she heard a loud rustling and six paper armor knights marched around the corner and stood at attention, ready to lead them to the Queen. They were led into a grand hall that sparkled and shone. Madebonne could see the Queen at the other end of the hall. She took the dragon by the wing and slowly approached the throne. She recognized the Queen from her portrait by the elevator at the Penguin Express train station. Madebonne cleared her throat.

“Good afternoon your Highness,” shouted Madebonne. The Queen winced.

“No need to shout young lady. I am not an elevator!” said the Queen with a wink. “Now what can I do for you?”

“I come on behalf of the dragons your highness,” Madebonne explained. The Queen bristled. She was clearly not a fan of the dragons.

“The dragons have spent the past six months trying to ruin my daughter’s wedding. What could you possibly have to say on their behalf?” she replied indignantly.

“Your Highness, the dragons’ feelings are hurt because they are never invited to the Royal festivities. Since they are not allowed to have fun, they don’t want anyone to have fun.” The dragon nodded in agreement.

“Well that’s a very nasty attitude,” said the Queen. The dragon began to rumble and puff. Madebonne slipped him a few more ice cubes to crunch on.

“Your Highness, how would you feel if you only ever heard laughter from far away or never tasted a chocolate volcano or danced in your favorite party shoes? Wouldn’t that make you a little grumpy?” The Queen softened a bit.

“Go on,” said the Queen.

“The dragons are really quite entertaining. And they are quite talented with fireworks. I bet they would put on a wonderful display at the Princess’s wedding.”

“Oh yes, we’re quite good at fireworks,” said the dragon proudly.

“Hmm,” said the Queen. "I will take that into consideration."

“We’re really very sorry for the trouble we’ve caused,” said the dragon. “We just wanted to be included.” The Queen consulted with her Royal Advisors it was decided that the dragons could indeed be in charge of the fireworks at the wedding reception. The dragon was so happy that he kissed Madebonne and then flew out the window to tell the other dragons.

“You are a very brave little girl” said the Queen. “As a token of my thanks for repairing our relationship with the dragons and for saving the Princess’s wedding, I would like to present you with this necklace.”

One of the Royal Ladies in Waiting approached Madebonne. She carried a plush purple pillow and on it lay a delicate necklace that glinted in the light.

“This necklace is made from golden pink shells from the Caspian Sea on a string of mermaid hair” continued the Queen. “It will bring you luck on your adventure.”

As the Queen spoke Madebonne saw something rustling beneath the Queen’s gown. A tiny foot stuck out and then popped back in. Madebonne saw the Royal Baby scuttle behind the throne. He popped his head out and Madebonne waved. The Royal Baby waved back. Quicker than a flash of lightening, the Queen grabbed him and held him in her arms.

“Have you been hiding behind the throne the whole time you little vixen?” asked the Queen. She smothered him with kisses then turned to Madebonne. “Maxum is quite an adventurer himself. He explores the whole castle and gives us all quite a fright when we can’t find him.”

“I know,” snickered Madebonne “I found him in a stock pot in the pantry and he scared me too.“

“Thank you again your Highness,” said Linda the Penguin. “It has been a great honor to meet you but we must be on our way. We have a train to catch.” They all bowed to the Queen and the Royal Baby and left the Grand Hall.

“Henry and I made so much ice cream that we earned ten fish rubles each,” said Linda. “We now have enough money to buy our tickets on the Penguin Express back to Brooklyn. We even have a little extra for hot cider.” Madebonne twirled with joy. Linda held up their slips of paper for payment.

“Let’s head over to the paycheck window and collect our fish rubles.”

The paycheck window was bustling with activity but the line moved quickly. When they got to the front, Linda handed the Paymaster their slips of paper. He had a friendly smile and golden fish wiggled on his cap.

“What are you going to do with all this money?” asked the Paymaster.

“We are going to buy tickets on the Penguin Express so we can go back home to Brooklyn,” said Madebonne excitedly.

“I am afraid to tell you that there are no seats left on that train until after the wedding,” said the Paymaster. “It’s completely booked for the next two weeks.”

Madebonne couldn’t believe her ears. Another two weeks before she could get back to Brooklyn? By then it might be too late for her Fairy Godmother to change her mom the goldfish back into her mom. She slumped down right there in front of the window and refused to move. Linda the Penguin, Henry and her mom the goldfish sat down next to her as people continued to hand slips of paper to the Paymaster over their heads.

“Linda, what are we going to do?” asked Madebonne with a trembling lip.

Question to Madeleine: How is Madebonne going to get home to Brooklyn?