Finally Verona could simply take no more. “Why, oh cruel wind, why?” she cried to the heavens, clutching the mantel clock in one arm, the other looped around the weather vane atop the ship. “See what’s become of us! See what you’ve done to my poor family, oh merciless wind! See how we’ve been struck by madness and folly!”
Tick, tock went the mantel clock.
Verona took the clock in both hands and lifted it high above her head. She gnashed her teeth and rolled her eyes and roared:
“I’ll be here until the end of time!”
And with that, she hurled it away with all her might.
For a moment, the clock hung in the air, and Verona thought it might sail away over the sea and across the horizon and disappear, leaving them all behind.
But it did not. The mantel clock plummeted down to the deck and shattered into a million bits.
An awful silence fell over everything, like a heavy woolen coat. Verona clung to the weather vane and closed her eyes. She didn’t hear pots clanging or teapots steaming or Mamma’s singing from the kitchen. She didn’t hear the fire crackling in the study, and she didn’t smell Pappa’s favorite pipe-smoke wafting out the windows. She didn’t hear Fritz and Felix noisily engaged in some mischievous new game. She didn’t hear the clatter of Waldo’s tools or the buzzing of the creatures in his collections.
There was only silence, as dead as the doldrums.
“Perhaps I’ll be smothered in silence,” she thought. “Then this will finally be over and done with.”
But just at that very moment, a sound burst through the quiet like a stone through a window. It grew in strength and volume until it rang out across the still water. A moment passed before Verona recognized what sound it was. When she did, her heart sank into her stomach.
Pip was crying.
“Oh no,” gasped Verona. “He’s been struck by the clock!”
She scrambled off the roof, dove through the lookout window, and skipped down the spiral stairs four at a time. Even from inside the ship, she could still hear her baby brother’s horrifying wail. “He’s mangled, or maimed, or worse!” she thought. “What have I done?”
She reached the foyer and flew out the front door to the deck. There she found Mamma, scooping Pip into her huge arms. She rocked him to and fro and hummed an old lullaby, patting his back. Pip’s cries dwindled to whimpers, and finally to sniffles.
“Is he hurt?” Verona asked in a small voice.
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