Verona went up to the greenhouse with Waldo’s toolbox and tried to coax him down from the persimmon tree.
“Forget it!” said Waldo. “I’m not touching those instruments. They might be warped!”
“Now that certainly is a puzzle,” said Verona. “Someone ought to study the effect of curious atmospheres on measurements, don’t you think?”
Waldo furrowed his brow. “Maybe,” he said.
“Why, I’d do it myself,” said Verona, “but I’m sure there are folks around here far more qualified than me…”
“Hm,” said Waldo thoughtfully. “I might be able to invent a device to detect variances in the proto-exospheric field. That way we’d know how far off our instruments are. I could even build it in a vacuum jar to prevent local contamination.”
“Sure,” said Verona with a shrug. “That sounds about right.”
He lowered himself from the tree’s branches and took the toolbox. “But don’t expect me to have it done right away!” he said. “You can’t rush genius.”
Verona smiled. “Of course not.”
She had gone out on deck to take down the emergency flag when something caught her eye. She turned to see Abbot the hermit crab, who had abandoned the old shoe in favor of a new residence: the smashed mantel clock.
“That’s a fine new house you’ve got there,” Verona said to Abbot. The crab clicked its claws.
Verona un-crumpled the Wicklow family flag. She climbed the flagpole, pulled down the emergency banner, and restored the Wicklow flag to its proper place. It fluttered spiritedly in a cool, refreshing breeze which lifted off the waves.
“The wind!” Verona cried.
She dashed to the front of the ship. The wind had returned to a fine, strong draft, churning the mighty windmill-sails of the Merry Mariner once more, propelling the ship forward over the waves. At the prow stood little Pip, his colorful pinwheel raised in the air, laughing as the colors spun around, faster and faster. Verona took his tiny hand in hers and put the other on her lucky yellow hat so it wouldn’t fly off. She could hear Mamma’s singing from inside, the clink and clatter of Waldo’s tools, and the boisterous laughter of Fritz and Felix. She could smell Pappa’s pipe-smoke, mixing with the blast of salt and sea which swirled on the air, fresh and full of life.
Verona closed her eyes and let the wind sweep across her cheeks, lifting her hair, and her heart soared.
And the Merry Mariner sailed boldly over the horizon, ready for the adventures of tomorrow.
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