Verona raced inside and into the kitchen, where she located her grandmother’s cookbook. Flipping through the pages, she came upon the recipe for a stunning three-level chocolate lime crumble cake, and brought it out to Mamma.
“I think this one would be perfect today,” Verona said.
“Absolutely out of the question,” said Mamma, shaking her head. “I can’t spare the butter.”
“Oh come now, Mamma,” said Verona. “Better to use the butter now while it’s still good. Anyway, the wind might pick up at any moment!”
Mamma frowned at the list of ingredients. “Impossible. I’m sure I haven’t got any limes,” she said. “Although, a lemon might do just as well, you never know. I’ll have to check the pantry. Come to think of it, I believe I saw a bottle of Medimarinean citrus juice in the icebox. I wonder, would black or red chocolate be tastier with citrus in this case?”
It wasn’t long before Mamma had returned to the kitchen, mixing and stirring and beating once more, singing her loud songs from the old country. Soon the sweet, warm smell of a baking cake wafted throughout the ship, and Verona’s mind cleared like mist in the morning sun.
She went to the study and knocked down Pappa’s fortress of books.
“Eeek! Help!” cried Pappa. He was pale from lack of sun.
“Come along,” said Verona, helping him up and handing him his tobacco-pipe. “Don’t you want to sit in your comfortable chair and have a good think?”
“Oh my no,” said Pappa sadly. “I’ll go barking mad out there!”
“Don’t be silly!” said Verona. “What better time and place to contemplate the meaning of existence than in the doldrums in the middle of the sea? You couldn’t hope for a better atmosphere!”
Pappa brushed himself off, then peered out the large study windows and stroked his mustache. “It certainly does make you think,” he said, and the color returned to his cheeks. Verona pushed the comfy chair under him and he sank into it. He lit his pipe, puffed gently, and waggled his bushy eyebrows. “Gracious, I’m having a number of quite interesting thoughts already!” he announced.
“Excellent,” said Verona. When she checked in on him later that evening, he had returned all the books to their proper places on the shelves, and had his nose buried in a large one about zeppelins.
It took her some time, but Verona eventually found Fritz bottled up in a dark corner of the storage hold, plotting and scheming by lamplight. When she opened the hatch he cried out and attacked her with a sack of flour.
“There now,” said Verona, calming him. “Good news! Waldo has concocted a potion which cured everyone of Cabin Fever.”
“Really?” said Fritz. He looked as though he hadn’t slept in a week.
“That’s right,” lied Verona. “And Felix told me he would help you catch an electric octopus.”
“Hah!” cried Fritz, leaping out of the hold. “He needs my help, more like. Felix couldn’t catch a snowflake in a blizzard.” He ran into his room and emerged with an assortment of fishing poles, nets, twine, and hooks, and ran up the spiral stairs.
Verona found Felix cramped inside one of the cabinets in the cockpit, also scheming by lamplight. He attacked her with a rubber lifesaver.
“Good news!” said Verona when Felix had calmed. “Waldo cured everyone of Cabin Fever, and Fritz said you need his help catching an electric octopus.”
“Hah!” cried Felix, tumbling out of the cabinet. “Fritz doesn’t know an electric octopus from a hat on his head!”
Before long the twins were together again, casting lines and nets and laughing and hooting. They soon gave up on electric octopi and sent their fishhooks through the kitchen window, hoping to catch dinner. When they caught Mamma’s apron instead, she leaned out and roared at them, and the twins ran off, cackling.
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