Waldo leapt to his feet, grabbed the machine off the floor, and stood it upright on the table. Then he dashed inside and brought back an armful of discarded pistachio-bug shells from the kitchen. He poured them into the top and turned the crank. He held a teaspoon under the spout, the machine churned, and a single drop of green oil dripped out.
Waldo fell to Mamma’s side and tipped the teaspoon into her mouth. He fidgeted and watched for signs of life. “Come on,” muttered Waldo, “this must be it! I drank the oil this morning, but nobody else did. That’s why I wasn’t paralyzed by the tarantula! And the wild man ate the pistachio-bug shells, but not the innards—the oil from pistachio-bug shells must be some kind of natural anti-poison. It’s the only logical answer!”
“Pfffppphhhhthhh,” sputtered Mamma in agreement.
Waldo yelped and hugged her around the neck. “Ha ha! I knew it! I knew it!”
The color returned to his mother’s face, and she sat up, blinking. She patted Waldo on the back. “Phhththhpppfffssbb,” she said.
“Don’t talk,” said Waldo excitedly, “you’re still partly paralyzed. I need to make more oil!”
He gathered all the pistachio-bug shells he could find and cranked them through the machine. He filled an egg cup with the green oil and administered a little to each of the family members in turn, dripping it into their mouths with an eyedropper. They all sputtered and came back to life like Mamma, shaking their heads and stretching, sore and a bit grouchy, but alive and well nevertheless. Waldo gave monstrous hugs to each of them as they woke, even tackling Fritz and Felix and shouting happily.
The family Wicklow was back.
* * *
Waldo and his family worked tirelessly through the rest of the night to cure the people of Marjoram. Luckily, since the population snacked constantly on pistachio-bugs, there were millions upon millions of discarded shells available for use. Verona and the twins took to the streets, sweeping the shells into sacks. Mamma set up a table on the pier and cranked the machine all night long, churning out the anti-poison drop by drop. Waldo attached a hose to the machine’s spout so it drained into a bowl. Pip filled eyedroppers from the bowl and handed them to Waldo and Pappa, who distributed them to the population. Soon hundreds of Marjorami were queuing up to get the cure for their paralyzed friends and relatives.
By the first light of dawn, everyone was utterly spent, but the paralysis of the poisonous flying tarantula had been banished from Marjoram. Grand Consular Magistrate Tarbush himself came down personally to thank Waldo and the Wicklows, and Waldo donated his pistachio-bug shell-press machine to the city. In return, the Magistrate and the Assembly of Administrators awarded Waldo the Medal of Ingenuity and Good Manners, their most prestigious honor.
Before long, the hustle and bustle returned to the streets of Marjoram, loud and lively, and the Wicklows went back aboard the Merry Mariner to get some well-earned rest.
“Very fine work today, Waldo,” said Mamma as they climbed up the ramp. “I’m proud of you.”
“Me too,” said Pappa, clapping his hand on Waldo’s back. “They’ll write books about you some day, my lad. Make no mistake!”
“This was all your fault,” laughed Fritz.
“From the start!” agreed Felix. “But being paralyzed is awfully boring.”
“Yeah, so thanks for un-paralyzing us, I guess,” said Fritz, and the two of them scampered away cackling before Waldo could hit them with his shoe.
“If we’d listened to you from the start,” said Verona, “none of this would have happened.”
Waldo shrugged. “It’s all okay now,” he said. “What are you going to do today?”
Verona yawned. “I’ll probably sleep for a week.”
“Yeah, me too,” replied Waldo. “But tell me when you all go out exploring again! I want to come with you this time.”
“All right,” said Verona.
They walked through the ship’s front door and shut it gently behind them.