It had so far been a wonderful morning for Waldo Wicklow. Unusual though it was, he was in the best of spirits.
The Wicklow family’s adventuring windmill-ship, the Merry Mariner, was docked in the port of Marjoram, a large and important city on the Fertile Coast. Waldo’s older siblings, Verona and the twins, Fritz and Felix, had left before breakfast to do some exploring. Soon thereafter, Mamma and Pappa had departed down the ramp as well, taking little Pip along with them. At first, Mamma had insisted that Waldo join them. Waldo had begged and pleaded to be allowed to stay behind aboard the ship. He had already wandered Marjoram the previous day, and anyway he was in the middle of several important inventions and experiments down in his workshop.
“Can’t I stay here, please Mamma?” Waldo had asked. “I’ll just stay right in my room the whole time.”
Mamma sighed. “Well…oh, all right.”
Waldo thanked her and raced down to his room before she could change her mind.
Finally alone and undisturbed by noise or interruption, Waldo had spent the morning gleefully engrossed in his work. He concocted a sweet-smelling salve from jungle tree sap which could soothe insect stings and bites—useful, as Waldo kept a wide variety of stinging creatures in his collection. The prize among these was his poisonous flying tarantula, which he had found on an island in the Ivory Sea and had so far been unable to identify. Today, however, after much careful research, observation, and study, he was able to classify it as megarachnis toxicus-volantius: extremely rare and exceedingly dangerous. He then drafted a letter to the Royal Society of Taxonomists, of which he was a Junior Member, to report his find.
Finally, he completed work on his pistachio-bug shell-press, an invention of his own devising. The common pistachio-bug was a small, tasty edible insect, native to the Fertile Coast region but popular across the Seven Seas. One simply had to roast it and pop off its shell to enjoy the crunchy innards. As a snack, they were awfully addictive, but Waldo noticed that the discarded pistachio-bug shells piled up and were simply thrown out. He wondered if he could make use of them, and thought up the shell-press machine.
It had been such a productive morning that Waldo was tempted to declare it the best day ever.
When he heard the front door burst open and the family Wicklow tumble aboard the ship, kicking off their shoes, chattering all at once, and banging around, his heart sank just a centimeter or two. Nevertheless he gathered his things and went up the ship’s spiral staircase to show them what he’d accomplished.
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