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The Big Gallery

Variable Tilings

The Adventures of Lulu Lizard and Bubba Bat

Bats and Lizards

Busy Beetles

Penrose Gallery



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Chapter 7

In Which the Crystal Ball is Found

“Well,” said Bubba, considering carefully the question of what they should do next, now that they had seen all the mirrors. “I suppose we could explore the upstairs,” and when Lulu looked puzzled at that he went on: “I mean the real upstairs. The stairs are carpeted, so I think you can climb them easily enough. Or I could fly you up.”

“Why yes! That sounds like fun,” replied Lulu. “Let’s go.” And off she ran, dodging around mirrors, to the front hallway where she paused and looked around for Bubba. Bubba was following in no particular hurry, and practicing echolocation obstacle-avoidance by flying with his eyes shut around and around each mirror on the way.

“Come on, Bubba.” cried Lulu, and, running, took a long slide across the smooth hallway floor. Her slide ended in the doorway of the front parlor. Just inside the parlor the floor was heaped high with trunks and boxes of every size and kind along with all sorts of bags and baggage in a colorful and unkempt heap.

“Gee. I wonder what all this stuff is,” Lulu murmured to herself, the proposed expedition to the upstairs now forgotten.

“It looks like a flea market waiting to happen,” said Bubba, who had now followed her in the air to the parlor door. Flying into the parlor and over the mountain of bundles he said, “It almost makes me itch just to look at it!”

“Oh Bubba!,” reproved Lulu, “Come on down here and let’s decide something.”

“What’s to decide?” asked Bubba, alighting beside Lulu.

“Well, what we are going to do about all this?” asked Lulu.

It looks like someone’s belongings,” said Bubba, “and I don’t think we should do anything at all about it”.

“But aren’t you curious?” asked Lulu.

Bubba refrained from remarking that lots of people thought he and all his relatives were very “curious”, and replied, “Yes, but it’s none of our business.”

“But they left all this in our house!” responded Lulu. “Shouldn’t we at least look it over?”

“I’ll tell you what,” said Bubba, trying to avoid a criticizing answer. “You grab hold of my feet and we’ll look it over together from the air.”

That wasn’t quite what Lulu had in mind, but she did not want to miss a chance to go flying with Bubba again, so she nodded, and did what he said. Up they flew together, and over the pile of belongings. With shrieks of “wheeeee” from Lulu, they circled the room several times. Finally Lulu calmed down enough to look down at all the boxes and trunks and bags that almost filled the room. The small mountain looked much the same from every angle, but perched on the very top was what seemed to be an old Pirate-style sea chest. It was quite small, as though made for a child, but it seemed very like the old curve-lidded and iron-bound sea chests that, in stories, always hold pirate gold and jewels or other such treasures.

“Can we land on that sea-chest on top?” asked Lulu. “We could see everything from there, and we would have a chance to think about it.”

Flying, Lulu had decided, was not conducive to thinking. At least not for lizards. It was too exciting. Besides, that was an intriguing little chest. Maybe she could find out what was inside it.

Bubba said it would be easy, and he flew them in for a landing on the chest’s curved lid.

They had no more than alighted, and Lulu was telling her tightly gripped hands to let go of Bubba’s feet, when something large and heavy seemed to shift inside the chest. The chest tipped, the weight moved further, and suddenly Bubba and Lulu were flying again as the chest tumbled heavily down the mountain of trunks and bags and boxes. Halfway down, the lid flew open and a big gleaming crystal sphere tumbled out and down and then rolled out into the front hallway. It came to rest, seeming almost alive with light, in a patch of late afternoon sun that streamed through the beveled glass panel by the front door.

Lulu was speechless, partly from fright and partly from chagrin at having caused such a mess, because other things had scattered out of the open chest in the wake of the crystal ball.

“I guess we kind of caused an avalanche there,” commented Bubba. “Lucky we didn’t get rolled over by that crystal ball. Let’s look at it.” And so saying, he and Lulu alighted in the sunny patch next to the gleaming ball.

“Oh Bubba, its the most perfect thing I ever saw!” exclaimed Lulu.

“A Fortune Teller’s crystal ball. Wow! replied Bubba, for he too was very impressed by the eye-entrapping beauty and perfection of the crystal sphere.

“And look at this design of light and this bright spot it puts on the floor,” said Lulu, dashing over to stand on the bright spot, which, falling on her, brought her emerald green color to a truly marvelous intensity. “See, Bubba?” she posed in the light. Then, “Ouch!” she cried, and jumped away from where the hot spot of concentrated sunlight now once more shone on the floor.

“Are you all right?” asked Bubba. But then he saw that she was, and said, “Sorry about that. The thing seems to act sort of like a magnifying glass, doesn’t it? Or maybe it is what they used to call them: a ‘burning glass’.”

“I’d say it’s a ‘burning glass’ all right!” replied Lulu, rubbing the still uncomfortably warm spot. “Is it my imagination, or is there a smoky smell around here?”

“I think you’re right.” said Bubba. “Look at the bright spot now.”

There was a small wisp of smoke rising from the wood floor where the hot and bright spot of sunlight was concentrated by the crystal ball.

“I think we had better move it out of the sunlight,” said Lulu, and waited for Bubba to do something.

“Yes,” said Bubba. “Ahem. I’m not sure of how to get a grip on it though.”

“I guess I’ll have to do it then,” said Lulu, “because it it surely has to be done right away.” Indeed, the wisp of smoke already seemed larger. So Lulu went up very close under the curve of the crystal ball and peered around it at the front parlor door, and then peered around its other side at the parlor door again. She then pushed her shoulder into the angle between sphere and floor just halfway between her two sighting points.

“What are you doing?” asked Bubba.

“I want to roll it back into the parlor so the sun will not be able to reach it even if we are not here,” replied Lulu, who then held her breath and lifted as hard as she could against the smooth curve of the heavy crystal sphere. It rolled nicely away from her, but not very far. Bubba was examining the scorched spot on the floor from which smoke had now ceased to arise.

“Nice work, Lulu” he said. “It has stopped smoking. I think it’s great that you can move that thing. I couldn’t do it, I'm sure.”

Proud of herself, Lulu now kept the ball rolling with her shoulder, looking like a small green football lineman as she aggressively shouldered the sphere straight toward the parlor door. Soon she and the crystal ball disappeared into the relative dimness of the front parlor. Bubba, who had stood watching, followed.

“I think you just saved the house and both our families from burning up,” said Bubba. “Thank you, Lulu.”

“As they say south of the border, ‘De nada’,” replied Lulu. “It was nothing.”

“On the contrary, it was really something!” said Bubba. “But I know how you feel about making a fuss over things.” And he flew up a ways to look over the other spilled contents of the toy chest.

On to Chapter 8!

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