Mamma pointed up at the troll in his booth. The troll pointed down at Mamma.
“He dumped garbage on me!” said Mamma.
“She’s a nincompoop,” said the troll.
The barge captain scratched his head and chewed his pipe. “We’re on a schedule here! We can’t be dawdling for every likes of ye who want to befuddle the goings-on with trifles! Just doff yer cap to the troll, madam. Let it push daisies, I say! Sure them trolls’re stubborn as widow’s gas, they are, no use wringing wrists about it.”
Mamma turned her withering gaze on the captain. “If you think I’m going to say a single sorry word before he does, then you’re very much mistaken. I’d rather sink my motor-car! Someone needs to teach these trolls some manners, and it looks like that’ll have to be me.”
The troll slammed his window shut. Behind the barge, a line of boats was forming, honking horns and ringing bells.
“Well, someone ought better apologize to someone around here, or we’ll have a right pickled doozy on our mitts,” said the captain.
Verona shook her head. “The only thing more stubborn than a troll is my mother, I’m afraid.”
“Oh, for pity’s sake!” said the captain. He huffed and swore and turned around to inform the other sailors of the situation.
Verona climbed back on board the amphibious motor-car. “The food is spoiling!” she cried.
Mamma hurried over. Sure enough, the butter was melting, the milk was turning sour, and there were bees buzzing in the sugar. “It won’t last much longer in the midday sun,” said Mamma. “Cursed troll. This is probably exactly what he wants!” She handed Verona a piece of paper and a pencil. “Take note of everything that spoils. When this troll is found guilty by law of blockading a public waterway, we’ll send him the bill for our ruined goods!”
But Verona didn’t take the paper and pencil. Instead, she gathered up as much butter, cream, and other endangered items as she could carry and stepped up onto the footpath. “I’m going back to the Merry Mariner, Mamma,” she said, “and I’m going to tell the others about this whole stupid thing.”
“Good idea,” said Mamma. “Bring Waldo back with you. He’ll figure out a way to open this gate.”
Verona shook her head and walked off along the canal, arms full, leaving Mamma behind on her rotting castle.
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