Friday, October 23, 2009

Chapter 8: "The Parrot Ships"

Question to Madeleine:  Who is Lady Bird Feathering?
Answer:  Captain of the Ship

Madebonne and Henry walked down the path towards shore, passing under the trees blooming with clothes.  They were on their way to meet Lady Bird Feathering whose fleet had just sailed in to shore on the Island of Boys.  She looked up at the tree branches that still sagged with the boys’ shirts and ties swinging in the breeze.  Then she swished her arms against her own beautiful dress that Tilda had made for her.  There was no way she would take it off and hang it on a tree.  Those boys were crazy. 
The trees parted and Madebonne stepped onto the sandy shore.  She stared in amazement.  Fifteen sailing ships with parrot green sails were dropping anchor in the bay.  As the ships landed the sails seemed to come alive as flocks of parrots lifted away from the sails and flew off over the island.  She hadn’t seen anything that beautiful since she had bounced on top of the Princess’s wedding cake.  Madebonne ran over to where Tomas stood wrangling the boys who hopped up and down with excitement at the edge of the water.  They waved at a tall lady wearing a long green dress who appeared at the bow of the ship closest to land.  A small boat rowed up alongside the ship and she stepped down into it and was brought to shore.
“Lady Bird Feathering,” said Tomas with a bow.  “Lovely to see you as always.”  She bowed her head in return and her shiny black hair sparkled in the sunshine.  Her dress was made of tiny green feathers that ruffled in the wind.
“Hello Tomas,” she said then turned to the boys.  “My, haven’t you turned into handsome young men.”  The boys suddenly turned shy and goofy as she looked at each one of them in turn.  “And who is this lovely young lady?” She asked as her gaze landed on Madebonne.  Her skin was the palest green but her eyes were her most striking feature, purple eyes the color of juicy grapes or wild violets that grow in the woods.  Madebonne had always wished for purple eyes.
“This is Madebonne and her cat Henry.”  Madebonne bowed and Lady Bird Feathering reached out and touched her gently on the head.
“You are on a great adventure aren’t you my dear?” she said as Madebonne stood back up.  Madebonne looked into Lady Bird Feathering’s purple eyes and nodded.  “There are more obstacles in your path but if you stay true to your course and act with your heart you will succeed.”  Before Macebonne could ask her what she meant, Captain Fletcher strode over with Linda the Penguin and Tilda. 
“What brings you to this neck of the woods Lady Bird?” asked Captain Fletcher taking her hands.  They hugged.  Captain Fletcher turned to Madebonne.  “I learned to captain from Lady Bird’s grandfather.  She has since taken over his fleet and is now the Captain of the Parrot Ships.  We have sailed all over the world together.”
“Oh, take us somewhere please!” said Soren excitedly.
“Yes, please” said Valentin.  “Our Grandmother taught us how to sail.”
“Could we go to Africa?” piped in Oskar.
“Boys!” said Tilda.  “Where are your manners?  We haven’t even offered Lady Bird Feathering something to drink and you’re already asking her to take you to the other side of the drain.”  Lady Bird Feathering smiled kindly.
“I’d love to take you with me but it looks like I am stranded here until my parrots come back.  We were on our way to Antoola when they suddenly flapped their wings and created such a strong westerly wind that we sailed directly into your port.  I can’t imagine what possessed them.”
“Remember how we got stuck in the middle of the Atlantis Ocean?” asked Captain Fletcher.  “Well, Lady Bird Feathering crosses oceans all the time with her fleet.  So when there is no wind the parrots fly around the sails and create wind so that they don’t get stuck.”  Madebonne nodded.  Pretty clever.
“We were just finishing up lunch” said Tomas.  “Would you like something to eat?  Then the boys and I can head a search party across the island to find your parrots.”
“That sounds lovely,” said Lady Bird Feathering.
“We even have singing sucker balls for dessert,” said Per.  “See?” and he took his out of his pocket and popped it in his mouth.  He opened it again and a lovely chirping song came out.  Suddenly there was a flash of green and the parrots swooped back through the trees and swarmed around Per.  Before he knew what was happening or could even close his mouth, the parrots landed on his head and arms and his body and his toes until he was covered in a blanket of green feathers.  They nuzzled and cooed around him.  The more he laughed from the tickling of their feathers, the more the chirping of the sucker ball sang out of his mouth.  The parrots chirped in return and flapped their wings excitedly.
“So this is what they’ve been chasing after,” said Lady Bird Feathering.  “Per’s singing sucker ball sounds just like the parrots from the jungles where they were born.” 
The birds continued to flap their wings in excitement.  Captain Fletcher and Tomas tried to pull the birds off Per but they just flew back as soon as they were let go.
“Tomas, we need to get the sucker ball out of his mouth” said Tilda.  Tomas turned towards his wife.
“I can’t tell where his mouth is” he said looking at his son who was a cloud of feathers.
“I’ll go back to my ship and get the parrot wrangler,” said Lady Bird Feathering.  “He’ll know what to do.”  She stepped back into her rowboat and started back towards her ship.  She hadn’t gotten more than twenty feet from shore when Gustav yelped.
“Look, Per’s flying away.”  Sure enough, Per floated off down the beach while his brothers ran after him in hot pursuit. 
“Where are they taking my son?” yelled Tilda as Per soared higher into the air and over the water.  Madebonne ran after the boys with Henry right on her heels.  Captain Fletcher ran into the water and jumped into the row boat with Lady Bird Feathering.  They turned the boat towards Per but the birds were taking him farther and farther away.  Madebonne grabbed Tor by the hand.
“We need Glen,” she said. 
“You’re right Madebonne.  Good thinking.”  She and Tor ran towards the swimming hole.
“Glen!  Glen!!” they shouted until they saw the familiar fin slice through the water.  Madebonne flung her dress on a nearby tree and she and Tor dove into the water.  They hopped on Glen’s back and steered towards the ocean.  As they passed through the mouth of  the swimming hole, Henry stood on shore meowing.
“Come on Henry, leap!” shouted Madebonne.  Henry hesitated for a second then jumped onto Glen’s back. 
“Hold on,” said Tor as they headed off after Per.  He was still visible in the distance where he looked like a green cloud floating on the horizon.  Tor stood on Glen in the front and steered with his feet.  Madebonne sat behind him with her legs dangling in the water.  She put Henry on her shoulders so that he wouldn’t get splashed by the waves but he still wasn’t very happy about being out on the ocean.  Luckily, the water wasn’t too rough and they were soon able to gain on Per and the parrots.   

“What is our plan once we catch them?” asked Tor.  Madebonne wasn’t sure but they would have to think fast.  They were closing in on Per but he also seemed to be floating up higher and higher.  They crested a bigger wave and spray misted over them.  Henry let out a meow and held on tighter to Madebonne. 
“Quickly,” shouted Madebonne.  “They are taking him higher into the air.”  Tor steered harder and they flew over another wave.  This time, Henry’s whole tail got wet.  He sure wasn’t happy about getting wet and let Madebonne know with another meow.  But Madebonne was distracted.  She was keeping an eye on Per.
“We’re almost below him” shouted Madebonne excitedly.  Tor dug his feet into Glen to make him go as fast as he could and the water sprayed all around them as they shot through the water.  Henry stood on his tip toes and meowed and meowed.  Madebonne noticed that the birds were beginning to fly off a few at a time.  Henry shook himself and licked one of his paws to dry off.  The birds flew back to the flock.  Suddenly another wave splashed them and Henry meowed again.  More birds flew away and hovered nearby.  The cloud of birds dropped a little lower.  Madebonne had an idea.  She turned to Henry and gave him a pat.
“I’m sorry to do this to you Henry,” said Madebonne and she gave Glen a squeeze with her legs.  Glen sped through the water and the spray shot up like a fountain around them.  Henry meowed and meowed as the water fell around him getting him more and more drenched.  With each meow, the parrots flew away in alarm back towards the safety of their ship.
“The birds are afraid of Henry.  Spray more water” shouted Madebonne to Tor.  They were now able to see all of Per’s legs and the tips of his fingers.  Henry let out a low growl when the next wave hit and more parrots flew away.
“It’s working” said Tor as he continued to chase after his brother.  They could now see most of Per’s head.
“Spit out the singing sucker ball” shouted Madebonne.  Per’s ears were still covered with birds so he couldn’t hear her but he was floating down towards them as more and more parrots flew back towards the fleet.  Suddenly a huge wave came towards them.
“Hold on” shouted Tor as Glen dove and they went right through the wave.  When they came out on the other side, Henry had finally had enough.  He meowed and growled and snarled.  The parrots feared for their lives and dropped Per right there in the middle of the ocean.  He plopped into the water with a splash and sank and sank towards the bottom.  Tor leapt off of Glen and dove in after his brother while Madebonne tried to calm Henry down.  Glen circled around the spot where the brothers had both gone in.  Madebonne held her breath.  She hoped they would come up soon because she was starting to turn blue.  Just when she couldn’t hold her breath a moment longer, Tor and Per popped up out of the water like a couple of corks.  Per spat out the singing sucker ball into his hand.
“That was awesome,” said Per with a huge grin.  Madebonne helped them back up onto Glen and they headed back towards shore.  The rowboat with Captain Fletcher and Lady Bird Feathering met them half way.
“Is everyone alright?” asked Captain Fletcher. 
“Grandma did you see me?  It was so cool,” said Per.  “I flew.  I flew across the ocean and then was dropped down into a huge school of fish.  I want to do it again!”
“I think you’ve had enough excitement for one afternoon” said Captain Fletcher.  “Besides, I am sure that Lady Bird Feathering is happy to have her birds back so she can get on her way.”
“Thank you for rescuing Per,” said Lady Bird Feathering.  “I am so grateful to you both.”
“It was Madebonne’s idea to find Glen so that we could go after Per.  And then she figured out that when Henry got wet, he would meow and scare the birds away,” said Tor.  “I didn’t know girls could be so cool.”  Madebonne blushed.
“It wasn’t such a big deal,” said Madebonne shyly.  “I remembered that Henry scared the birds when we were in Section Blue of the rainbow” Lady Bird Feathering gave her an appraising look while Henry sat in the corner of the rowboat and grumpily groomed his fur.  “Tor is the one who dove into the water and rescued Per from the school of fish,” Now it was Tor’s turn to blush.  They both sat awkwardly in front of Lady Bird Feathering.
“You are both very brave and think well on your feet.  What would you like as a reward?” asked Lady Bird Feathering.  Tor leapt up with excitement and the boat rocked violently.
“Could I go with you to Antoola?”
“We’ll have to ask your mother, but I don’t see why not.  How about you Madebonne?” asked Lady Bird.
“Can you change my mom from a goldfish back into my mom?” asked Madebonne.
“I’m afraid that I don’t have magical powers but I can certainly help you get back home,” she replied.  “I’ll lend you a flock of my parrots so that you won’t get stuck on your way to the Porthole of Atlantis.”  Just then they reached shore and Tor ran to tell his brothers all about the rescue.  Tilda splashed through the water and grabbed Per and hugged him.
“Are you alright my darling?” she asked while squeezing him tight. 
“Mom, I’m fine,” said Per as he wriggled out of her arms.  “When can I do that again?”
“Not until you are thirty seven” said Tilda.  “Now give me that singing sucker ball.”  She held out her hand.  Per reluctantly fished the singing sucker ball out of his pocket and handed it to his mother.  She then turned to her other sons.  “All of you.  Hand them over or next thing you know a hoard of elephants with parade through and carry you all off to the circus.”  Tilda collected the singing sucker balls and gave Tomas a sharp look.
“I’ll hold onto these” she said as she put them in her pocket.  Tomas looked a bit sheepish but this wasn’t the first time that he had gotten in trouble for one of his inventions and it probably wouldn’t be the last. 
“Let’s head back up to the house and get Lady Bird Feathering something to eat before she has to head back out onto the high seas” said Tomas, deftly changing the subject.  The boys chattered noisily with Per all the way up to the house, wanting to hear what it had been like to fly.  Madebonne followed behind with Linda the Penguin.  When they got back up to the house Madebonne put a large glass of water on the floor for Henry who was parched from all the saltwater he had licked off his fur. 
“We should be going” said Captain Fletcher.  “It’s still a long journey to the Porthole of Atlantis.”  The boys all piled on top of Captain Fletcher and begged her to take them along.  Tor pulled on his mother’s sleeve.
“Mom, Lady Bird Feathering said that I could go with her to Antoola as a reward for rescuing Per.  Can I go mom?  Can I?” he hopped excitedly on his right foot.
“It’s quite a long way to Antoola isn’t it Lady Bird?” asked Tilda.  Lady Bird Feathering nodded slightly.
“It is a six week sail from here,” she said.  “But if the winds are to our advantage it could only take four weeks to get back.”  Tilda put her arm around Tor.
“Two and a half months is much too long a time for me not to see your face,” she said.  “Besides, you start singing camp and fencing lessons next week.”  Lady Bird Feathering could see the disappointment on Tor’s face.
“My offer is always good,” she said.  “You can come sail with me anytime.  I would be honored to have such a heroic young man aboard my ship.”  Tears sprung to Tor’s eyes.  He couldn’t help but be disappointed.  It’s not every day that you are so brave that you are invited to sail to Antoola on a Parrot Ship.  Tilda kissed her son’s head.  Captain Fletcher strode over.
“I could use some help on the My Boat.  Maybe Tor could join us on the trip to the Porthole of Atlantis.  Once we drop Madebonne off in New York City I can swing by here with Tor before I head back to The Castle.”  Tor held his breath while Tilda considered her answer.
“He needs to be back by dinnertime” said Tilda. 
“I’ll feed him on the boat Tilda,” said Captain Fletcher.  “He’ll be back by bedtime.”  Tilda looked at her mother-in-law sternly.
“It needs to be a real meal.  Not just chocolate mousse,” she said.  Captain Fletcher threw her arms up in disgust.
“What has happened to everyone lately?  Chocolate mousse is a perfectly fine meal.” 
Tilda turned her attention to Madebonne.  “Now, let’s go quickly try on your adventuring outfit.”  Tilda lead Madebonne back to her sewing room where she pulled out the adventuring outfit with a flourish.  She was so excited to see how it looked that Tilda practically dragged Madebonne behind the changing screen.  Madebonne pulled on a pair of pale yellow pants and a light blue jacket.  She stepped out to show Tilda who clapped her hands with excitement.
“Perfect,” she said.  “Everything is made with a special material that stretches so you can climb trees, do cartwheels or slide down drains.  Go ahead, give it a try.”  Madebonne did an couple of squats and a cartwheel.  The outfit was really comfortable and didn’t feel at all bunchy or bothery.

“Now watch this,” said Tilda and she stood Madebonne in front of a fan and turned it on.  As the breeze began to cool her off, the clothes began to change color and thickness.  She looked down and saw that she was wearing orange corduroy pants, and a forest green jacket.  Tilda then walked her over to the air conditioner and turned it down low to freezing.  Madebonne’s jacket puffed into a lavender down jacket with a fuzzy hood and black fleece pants.  Finally, Tilda put Madebonne in front of a space heater and turned it on.  Suddenly Madebonne was standing in a pair of spring green shorts and a pink floaty top.  She looked just like a tulip.
“All weather clothes!” said Tilda triumphantly as she turned off the heater.  “I won’t throw a bucket of water on you but they’re waterproof too.”  Madebonne was very impressed. 
“Thank you so much Tilda,” said Madebonne  “You’ve made me such beautiful clothes.  But I left the dress you made me on the beach when we went to rescue Per.”
Tilda laughed.  “Clothes tend to get abandoned on this island.  Don’t worry, they eventually end up back in the sewing room and I make them into other things.”
“But I loved that dress,” said Madebonne.  “I would have worn it every day it was so beautiful.”
“There’s one very similar to it in your pocket,” said Tilda.  Madebonne was confused.  How could a dress fit in her pocket?
“Go ahead, take a look,” said Tilda.  Madebonne looked down and saw that she was back in her jacket and pants.  She put her hand in the right pocket..  It was empty but nice and smooth and cool.

“Not that pocket,” said Tilda.  “That’s the goldfish pocket.  It doesn’t leak when you fill it with water.  Try the other side.”  Madebonne put her hand in the left pocket and pulled out a handful of tiny plastic squares, the size of sugar packets.  Each one had a tiny label on it.  She saw ‘party dress’, ‘bathing suit’. ‘ball gown’, ‘scuba gear’, ‘ski suit’, ‘soccer uniform’, ‘chef whites’, and even ‘pajamas’.

“I don’t understand” said Madebonne looking at the pile of packets in her hand.

“Well, you always need to be prepared when you’re out adventuring.  So I made you a few extra outfits just in case.  That way, you don’t ever have to worry about packing a suitcase.  You just open the packet and shake out the clothes.  They air fluff and grow to normal size.  Shoes are in the pocket above the clothes,” Tilda added.  She then plucked the anti-shark protector out of Madebonne’s belly button.  “You can put this in here for safe keeping” and she slipped the shiny jewel into a small zipper pocket on the arm of the jacket.
“This is the best outfit I’ve ever had,” said Madebonne and she gave Tilda a huge hug.  Tilda squeezed her tightly.
“As sad as I am to see you go, I think that we need to get back to the others so that you can get on your way to the Port of Atlantis before dark,” said Tilda.  Madebonne nodded.  She was having a great time on the Island of Boys but the fact was, she needed to get back to Brooklyn to change her mom back into a mom.  Madebonne slipped into the flip flops that matched her outfit and she and Tilda headed back to the veranda.  As they walked along Madebonne heard a squelching sound.  She looked down to see that her flip flops had changed into red rubber rain boots and they were wading through a sticky muck.  It was a clear colored ooze, kind of slippery, kind of squishy.   
“What now!” said Tilda with a sigh.  “Tommmaassss.”  She lost a shoe in the ooze as she strode off towards her husband.  Madebonne tried to follow behind but the ooze was sucking at her boots and she was finding it harder and harder to move.

 Question to Madeleine:  What is oozing?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Chapter 7: "The Island of Boys"


Question to Madeleine:  "What is the loud crash?"
Answer: "The mast broke from the lightening."

Madebonne stood just below deck on the steps, clutching her mom the goldfish in the lemonade pitcher.  Linda the penguin stood at the bottom of the steps and Henry growled somewhere nearby.  Their wind dance had created a raging storm outside and Captain Fletcher had sent them down to safety while he sailed through the storm towards Brooklyn.  But Madebonne was worried.  She had just heard a huge crash up on deck.  Very carefully she lifted the hatch an inch and peered outside.  To her horror she saw the mast lying across the deck of the ship.  Madebonne turned to Linda in alarm.
“The mast fell down.  It must have been struck by the lightening.”  Linda looked worried.  She hopped back up the stairs.
“Go find Henry and try to get him to stop growling.  The lightening must think that Henry is the thunder and keeps flashing in response to him.  I’ll go up top to see if I can help Captain Fletcher.”  Linda hopped out the hatch door and Madebonne closed it tightly after her.  She climbed down the stairs and looked for Henry.  She found him cowering in the hallway near the kitchen.
“Come on Henry,” said Madebonne.  “Let’s find someplace safe for you.”  Henry followed Madebonne with his belly low to the ground.  Henry growled and the boat rocked wildly.

“You have to stop growling Henry or the lightening won’t go away.”  Henry looked at her with wild eyes and slunk down the hallway after Madebonne.  She led them to the Princess suite and tied her mom to the nightstand.  Then she grabbed some pillows off the couch and crawled under the bed with Henry.  She made them a cozy fort and then talked to him in her calm voice and rubbed his belly.  The boat eventually stopped its wild rocking and sailed along more calmly.  A few minutes later Madebonne heard the bedroom door open.  She saw Captain Fletcher’s feet and Linda’s flippers came into the room.  Madebonne stuck her hand out from under the bed and waved at them.  They bent down and peered under the bed and then lay down on their bellies.
“We have to make a pit stop,” said Captain Fletcher.  “We’ll never be able to make it to Brooklyn with the main mast broken.  I am going to sail us over to the Island of Boys where I can make my repairs.”
“What’s the Island of Boys?” asked Madebonne.  She’d never heard of such a place.
“It’s a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantis Ocean.  Only boys have ever been born there so it’s called the Island of Boys.”  Madebonne gave Captain Fletcher a good long stare to see if he was joking.  That was the craziest thing she had ever heard.
“There have to be some girls there,” said Madebonne.  “Every boy has a mom and moms are girls.”
“Or fish,” said Linda which made them all laugh.
“It’s true that there is a mom there but she wasn’t born on the island.  Tomas fell in love with her on the main land and after they were married he brought her back to the island.”
“Who’s Tomas?” asked Madebonne.
“He’s my son,” said Captain Fletcher.  “But enough with these questions.  You’ll meet him soon enough and I have to set our course so that I can make these repairs and get you back to Brooklyn.”
Madebonne and Henry crawled out from under the bed.  Madebonne put her mom back in her pajama pocket and they headed up on deck.  The sun was back out and there was enough of a breeze blowing for Captain Fletcher to navigate home.  Madebonne took off her slicker and her goggles and tucked the scarves back into the pockets.  Soon enough the Island of Boys came into view.  The water surrounding the island was a beautiful turquoise blue and palm trees swayed on land.  They glided to shore and a passel of boys ran into view.  They jumped up and down excitedly and pointed and shouted.
“Grandma!  Grandma’s back!!!”  Captain Fletcher stood at the edge of the sail boat and waved to the boys with his hat.  Madebonne, Linda and Henry peered around curiously.  Captain Fletcher grabbed the rope and threw it to shore.  The boys deftly grabbed it and tied the boat off to a palm tree.  Captain Fletcher lowered the gang plank and they hopped off the boat.  The boys all rushed over and hugged Captain Fletcher.
“Grandma!” they clamored.  “We didn’t expect you back so soon.”  They hopped around happily and stuck their hands in Captain Fletcher’s pockets looking for treats from far off lands.  Madebonne was really confused.
“Why are they calling you Grandma?” she finally asked. 
“These are my grandsons,” said Captain Fletcher.  “Let me introduce you.  This is Tor, Valentin, Gustav, Per, Oskar, Rowan, Bjorn, Soren and Rurik”  The boys lined up and each one bowed as he was introduced.
“Pleased to meet you,” said Madebonne and she bowed in return.  She turned to Captain Fletcher and whispered in his ear.  “I don’t understand why they are calling you Grandma.”
“Because I’m their grandmother,” replied Captain Fletcher.
“But aren’t you their grandfather?  Your name is Walter,” said Madebonne.
“Walter Fletcher is my sailing name,” explained Captain Fletcher with a wink.  “My real name is Joan.” 
“Hmmm.  Makes sense,” said Madebonne who knew all about having an adventuring name.  Captain Fletcher turned to her grandsons.
“Where’s your mother?” she asked.
“Where do you think?” said Gustav.
“In the sewing room of course,” said Tor waving towards the house. 
“She’s making us all new dinner jackets,” said Rowan making a face.

“Yick!” said Bjorn.  Captain Fletcher laughed and lead them up the path towards the house.  There were piles of clothes strewn everywhere along the way.  Jackets hung from trees, ties were wrapped around branches, shirts and shorts were shoved under bushes, socks of every color waved from flower stalks.  It was like a giant outdoor closet.
“We hate wearing clothes,” explained Valentin who took off his shirt and hung it on a tree branch as they walked by.  Madebonne noticed that all the boys were shedding their clothes until they had stripped down to their swim trunks.  Madebonne looked down into her pocket where her mom was swishing her tail disapprovingly.  Madebonne snickered and followed the boys and Captain Fletcher up the path.  Linda and Henry brought up the rear.
The trees finally parted and a beautiful house stood in the clearing.  They went inside and directly into the sewing room where the boys’ mom sat hunched over a sewing machine.  She turned around excitedly when she heard the boys enter. 
“Just in time.  I can start fitting you for your jackets,” she said to her sons who groaned.
“Grandma’s back,” yelped Tor before his mom could wrestle him into his jacket.
“Hello Tilda” said Captain Fletcher.  “I had to stop by to make a quick repair before I head back out on my trip.  I’d like you to meet Madebonne, Linda, Henry and Madebonne’s mom, the goldfish.” 
“A girl!” squeaked Tilda.  “Oh my gosh, a girl.  I can make dresses and blouses and skirts.”  Tilda grabbed a measuring tape and immediately started measuring Madebonne.
“How about a bathing suit” suggested Captain Fletcher.  “Madebonne can go swimming with the boys while I repair the mast on the sail boat.”
“Good idea.  Then I’ll make her a few outfits just in case.  What in the world are you wearing?” asked Tilda taking a look at Madebonne’s pajamas.  “She might need a whole new wardrobe Joan.”
“This is my adventuring outfit” said Madebonne.
“No, no, no,” said Tilda.  “I can whip up a much better adventuring outfit.”  She clapped her hands excitedly and gave Madebonne a hug.
“Mom, she needs a bathing suit first,” said Rurik.
“Alright, alright.  I’ll go express,” said Tilda and got to work whipping up a bathing suit while the boys plopped themselves on the floor to wait.  Captain Fletcher put Madebonne’s mom into a glass of water.
“I’ll take care of your mom while you go have a swim with the boys,” said Captain Fletcher.    
“Will the repairs take that long?” asked Madebonne.  This adventure was taking a lot longer than she had expected and after last night’s chocolate mousse incident she wanted to have her mom back to normal.
“The sooner I get started, the sooner we’ll be on our way,” said Captain Fletcher.  Madebonne smiled meekly as she watched Linda follow Captain Fletcher out the door to find Tomas. 
In a matter of minutes Tilda ushered Madebonne behind a screen and handed her a bathing suit.  It had orange and green swirls and sparkled in the light.  Madebonne pulled the suit on and stepped out from behind the screen. 
“It fits you perfectly,” said Tilda excitedly.  “You look just like a sun fish.”
“That’s great Mom,” said Per grabbing Madebonne by the hand and leading her out the door.  “Let’s hope the sharks don’t try to eat her.”
“Very funny Per,” said Tilda.  She turned to Mabebonne.  “Maybe you should wear one of these just in case.”  She opened a drawer and pulled out a shiny jewel and popped it into Madebonne’s belly button.

“What’s that for?” asked Mabebonne wiggling her belly.
“It’s an anti-shark protector,” said Tor.  He and his brothers rushed Madebonne out the door before their mom could measure them for any more outfits. 
“Anti-shark protector?” asked Madebonne with a quiver in her voice.  Henry trotted at her heels as the boys led Madebonne towards the swimming hole.  “Are there really sharks in the water?”
“Of course, silly” said Bjorn. “Where else would they live?”  Madebonne started to slow down but Per had a firm hold on her hand and pulled her along.  They came to the crest of a hill and stopped.  The hill dropped off directly below into an inlet with sandy dunes on each side.  One by one the boys began to jump off the edge of the hill into the water below.  Madebonne stood and watched while the boys swam around like fish, whooping and hollering, dipping and somersaulting.  Oskar and Soren jumped out of the water and ran up the sand dunes back to the crest of the hill. 
“Come on Madebonne,” said Oskar.  “The water is amazing.”  Madebonne peered down into the water.  It was crystal clear and she could see all the way to the bottom.  She didn’t see any sharks and decided that the boys must be teasing her.  Madebonne patted the jewel in her belly button just in case. 
           “Okay, I’m ready,” said Madebonne.  Oskar and Soren each took one of her hands and they jumped into the water with a gigantic splash.  Henry ran down the side of the sand dune and stood at the edge of the swimming hole.  The water was lovely and Madebonne swam around with the boys.  There were all kinds of beautiful objects in the water.  They dove for sea shells, swam with a school of fish, stood on their heads underwater, and had races from one side to the other.  Henry found a spot in the sun and sat down but he kept a watchful eye on Madebonne.  Henry still didn’t like being around water and his growl was ready to rumble at any time.  Madebonne hopped out of the swimming hole and ran up to the crest of the hill. 

“Watch this Henry,” she shouted and then jumped off the edge holding her knees.  She sank into the water and a huge fountain sprayed up behind her and splashed all the boys.  They whooped and yelled with delight.  Madebonne’s feet touched the bottom of the pool and she opened her eyes.  Thousands of bubbles floated around her.  As they cleared she saw a big toothy grin smiling at her and then a shiny gray snout nudged her shoulder.  Madebonne pushed her feet into the bottom of the pool and shot to the surface screaming “SHARK!!!”
“Where?  Where?” shouted the boys and they all dove underwater.  Madebonne scrambled out of the swimming hole as fast as she could and ran over to Henry.  A moment later the shark broke the surface of the water with Tor holding onto his fin and Bjorn and Gustav latched on to his tail.  Tor jumped to his feet and rode the shark like a surf board.
“Look at me,” he shouted to Madebonne as they sped around the swimming hole. 
“My turn, my turn,” shouted the other boys.  The shark sailed by and Tor leapt off his back onto shore.  He walked over to Madebonne who looked at him with wide eyes.
“Did you see that?  Pretty cool, huh!” said Tor.  “Gustav can ride him almost as well as I can but I can stay up the longest.”
“That’s a shark,” said Mabebonne.  “It could eat you!”  Tor laughed.
“Not Glen.  He says boys taste terrible.  Want to give it a try?”  Madebonne looked at Tor like he had lost his mind.  The other boys hopped out of the water while Gustav rode around the swimming hole on Glen.
“Don’t worry.  You’re wearing your anti-shark protector,” said Rowan. “Come on.  It’s fun.”
“But you’re not wearing anti-shark protectors,” said Madebonne.  “How come Glen doesn’t want to eat you?”
“Our mom sews anti-shark protectors into our swim trunks,” explained Rurik.  Madebonne looked down at her jeweled belly button.
“These things really work?” she asked.
“Only one way to find out,” said Rowan and all the boys jumped back into the water.  Madebonne went to the edge and stuck her foot in.  Glen swam by and didn’t even give her big toe a lick.  So Madebonne jumped back into the water and took a few turns riding the shark.  At first she just held on to his tail but as she got bolder Madebonne sat on top of Glen and even tried standing up a couple of times. 
A bell clanged nearby and the boys jumped out of the water.
“Lunch!” they shouted and scrambled back up the dune.  “Come on Madebonne.  Aren’t you starving?”  Madebonne’s stomach rumbled and she realized that she was hungry.  She had only eaten chocolate mousse since her lunch as a Royal Taster.
“Pretty good for your first time shark surfing,” said Gustav to Madebonne as they headed back to the house.
“Thanks,” said Madebonne and smiled proudly.  She couldn’t wait to tell her dad all about it.  When they got back to the house Captain Fletcher, Linda, Tomas, Tilda and Madebonne’s mom were already at the lunch table on the veranda.  Tilda clapped excitedly when she saw Madebonne and slipped a dress over Madebonne’s head.
“Tomas can you believe it?  Joan brought us a girl,” said Tilda.
“Tilda,” said Tomas sternly, “Madebonne is only here until we fix the mast on the sail boat.  She will be heading back to Brooklyn after lunch.”
“After lunch!” said Tilda with alarm.  “I’m not finished with Madebonne’s adventuring outfit.  I have to go express.” Tilda leapt up from the table and flew out of the room.  The boys were clearly used to this because they didn’t even look up from their food.  
Bjorn turned to Madebonne.  “She rushes around making clothes all the time.  You’ll probably have a whole new wardrobe by the end of lunch.”  Madebonne didn’t mind at all.  She twirled in her dress and then sat down at the table.  Shark surfing and no breakfast had given her a real hunger.
“What does your dad do?” Madebonne asked Bjorn.
“He’s an inventor.  He makes lots of cool stuff like the anti-shark protectors.  One time he invented pop corn that pops in the sun.  We put it all over the lawn one day when it was really hot and the whole back yard started popping.  The lizards went crazy.”
“That was hilarious,” said Valentin.  “Remember when dad invented the anti-gravity toe rings and we got footprints all over the ceiling?  Boy was mom mad about that one.”
“And the glow in the dark tooth paste,” chirped in Oskar.  “Our teeth glowed all night long and it was so bright that we couldn’t sleep.”
“Hey dad,” said Soren.  “Did you invent anything today that we can show Madebonne?”  Tomas looked up from his meal.
“Well, I’ve been working on singing sucker balls but I haven’t had a chance to perfect them yet,” said Tomas.
“Please dad!  Please let us try them,” pleaded Tor.  Tomas reached into his pocket and pulled out a dozen colorful round candies.
“You can try them, but I’m warning you, they’re still a bit rough.”  The boys crowded around Tomas and each picked a candy.  Valentin was the first to pop one in his mouth.  He rolled it around on his tongue and then opened his mouth to speak but all that came out was a deep sound like a fog horn.  The other boys hooted with laughter.  They popped the sucker balls into their mouths and a symphony of sounds sang around the table.  Chirping, cooing, elephant trumpeting, horn honking, whistling, purring, and bell clanging filled the air.
“Would you like to try one Madebonne?” asked Tomas.  Madebonne nodded and picked a candy out of Tomas’ hand.  She popped it in her mouth.  It was smooth and round and tasted a little spicy.  As Madebonne rolled the candy around on her tongue it got hotter and hotter until it felt like her teeth would pop right out.  Madebonne opened her mouth and sang “LLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”.  One by one the glasses on the table shattered.  But Madebonne couldn’t stop.  Her tongue got hotter and hotter and she kept singing and the glasses kept shattering and the boys cheered and Henry meowed.  Madebonne pointed frantically at the table as she continued her operatic song.  Captain Fletcher grabbed the glass with Madebonne’s mom and ran inside as Tomas plucked the candy out of Madebonne’s mouth. 
“Looks like this one could use a little work” said Tomas.  The boys whooped and cheered and laughed so hard that they fell on the floor.  Madebonne plopped into her chair and Tomas handed her a glass of mango juice to cool her mouth.  Henry kept meowing.
“That was so cool Madebonne,” said Tor.  “I’ve got to try that.  Dad do you have any more of those?”  Before Tomas could answer Tilda flew back into the room.
“Tomas, there are fifteen ships pulling in to shore,” she said clutching Madebonne’s brand new adventuring outfit in her hand.  Tomas reached into his pocket and pulled out a telescope.  He gazed towards the water.
“It’s the parrot ships,” he said after a good long look.
“Pirate ships!  Cool.”  The boys jumped up and down with excitement.  Madebonne looked at Linda nervously.
“Not pirate ships you nincompoops,” said Tomas.  “Parrot ships.  Let’s go down to shore to greet Lady Bird Feathering.”  The boys leapt up from the table and raced down the path.  Linda patted Madebonne on the knee.
“Can you talk again?”  Madebonne opened her mouth gingerly but no operatic sounds came out.
“Back to normal,” she answered.
“Why don’t you head down to shore with the boys while Captain Fletcher and I finish fixing the mast on the Maxum III.”  Madebonne hopped up from the table then turned to Linda.
“I’m worried Linda,” said Madebonne.  “My mom wouldn’t eat any of my food at lunch.  Do you think it’s too late to change her back?” 
“I sure hope not,” said Linda.  “But we should be ready to leave in the next hour.”  Madebonne tried to stay hopeful as she and Henry followed Tomas and the boys down to shore. 

Question to Madeleine:  "Who is Lady Bird Feathering?"