Silence fell, and Verona panicked.
The windmill-ship couldn’t very well make any progress without wind. Once so friendly and full of promise, the horizon now taunted her, wide and empty, without a speck of land or ship or even fish to be seen in any direction. The seconds ticked by in Verona’s head like thumping drumbeats. Each passing moment drifted up and away, slipping out of her grasp, never to return.
Verona turned and dashed inside the Merry Mariner to tell her family the awful news.
She burst through the front door and past the foyer. Pappa Wicklow, Verona’s father and the ship’s captain, was just coming down the spiral staircase from the cockpit. He peered at her from under his bushy eyebrows.
“Hullo, Verona,” he said. “Why, whatever is the matter?”
“What’s the matter?” repeated Verona. “The wind is gone!”
“Oh, yes,” Pappa nodded. “That’s true.” He continued down the stairs to the study, whistling tunelessly.
“But what will we do?” Verona cried after him.
“What’s all the hubbub here?” called a voice from the kitchen. Mamma Wicklow poked her head out. Mamma was Verona’s mother, the ship’s cook, and the proprietor of the Merry Mariner.
“There’s no wind,” answered Verona. “We can’t sail without wind!”
“Humph,” said Mamma. “Sometimes the wind blows, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s no reason to make a fuss.” She returned to stirring her stew-pot and checking the oven. The kitchen always rang with the sounds and smells of a dozen dishes baking or boiling or frying, usually topped by Mamma’s loud singing of songs from the old country.
Verona wrung her hands. “But what if the wind doesn’t come back for a week? What if it doesn’t come back for a month?”
“Good!” said Mamma. She wiped her hands on her apron. “Now that we’re not being jostled about by waves, I can finally try some of your grandmother’s more delicate cake recipes.” She pulled an old hand-written book from a shelf and began flipping through the pages.
“We’ll be marooned here forever,” Verona mumbled, staring blankly out the kitchen window at the desolate blue beyond. “I’ll go mad with sea and sun and die right here on this very spot, an old hag who never explored anything ever again in her whole entire life!”
Mamma clicked her tongue. “Don’t be foolish,” she said. “You’re not even thirteen yet. Now, how does lemon-squash tart sound?”
“How can you even think of cakes during a catastrophe?” cried Verona, and before Mamma could answer she raced out of the kitchen and down the spiral stairs to the study.
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