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?


  1. Tomas invented a doughnut glaze-producing tree, but they all melted from the viscocity produced from Henry chasing his tail!