“What is all this other stuff?” asked Bubba curiously, alighting
on some papers near the crystal ball.
“I don’t know,” replied Lulu inattentively. “Look at how beautiful
this crystal ball is. It’s got a sort of pearly look, now that it’s
out of the sun.” She was pressing her nose against the ball. “Ewww.
I wonder if I’m seeing into the future. That’s what gypsies are supposed
to see in crystal balls. I see all sorts of lizard and bat shapes
all at once! They’re not like reflections. They cover everything!
Now I even see you, Bubba! You’re reading something!”
“You see me reading something because you’re looking at me through
that ball and I AM reading something!” replied Bubba wryly. “Come
around here and look at this.”
“What is it?” asked Lulu, coming to look over his shoulder and blinking
her eyes to get them back in focus.
“It’s a letter signed ‘Madam Czonka’,” replied Bubba, “and it was
in this envelope addressed to The Right Honorable Maurice Sievert,
care of Sievert’s Circus Magnus. And look at the stamp! It’s from
Czechoslovakia! the Czech Republic!
“Oooh, yes,” said Lulu, “It’s very pretty. But let’s read the letter.”
Here is what they read:
My Dear Maurice,
As you know, I have spent many years studying day and night trying
to understand and follow the directions left to me by my master, The
Great Magician Noah, Count Konman, who, in lieu of mere riches, bequeathed
me a meager supply of his most precious creation, the Powder of Life.
I am enormously indebted to you, my dear Maurice, for enabling me
to pursue this work, and for our many invaluable discussions concerning
it. But you know that for an equal number of years all my efforts
and researches have been unsuccessful. Always, the deep and cryptic
meaning of Count Konman’s instructions, which read, “It is only necessary
to reflect on this powder to realize one’s alter ego,” escaped me.
I studied, I pondered, I mused, I reflected, in short, I gazed at
that powder and exercised my brain over it these many winters, summers,
springs, and falls for countless dismally disappointing days and hours.
But of course you know all about my labors. Suffice it to say
that last month, though suffering a terrible head cold, with sneezes
and chills wracking my poor body, I sat at my dressing table, the
powder spread out before me, and pondered my perennial problem doggedly
into the wee hours of the morning. Then, by some subtle and serendipitous
trick of mind, (which I have not been able to recreate because just
as it occurred, I sneezed and lost the tenuous thread of my thoughts),
I was finally blessed with success!
Ah Maurice! I cannot tell you how sweet it was! Suddenly there
were two of me! Then three! And finally seven of me,--or us, were
crowded into the little travel trailer in which you have allowed me
to make my home! Let me tell you that true alter-egos they are, too.
One of them thinks of nothing but clothes, another of money, and another,
the sixth, I think, is a compulsive cleaner, always dusting and polishing!
As you know, such traits seldom found expression in me, but nevertheless,
we make an admirable and congenial team. Realizing this, we decided
on the spot to make an extended celebratory tour of our homeland in
eastern Europe. There was barely time to board our ship, so off we
went, and I am writing you now from Czechoslovakia to ask you to put
my, (our), belongings in storage somewhere where they can safely await
our return in a year or two. Since there were seven of us, the funds
I had on hand were insufficient, and I know, dear Maurice, that you
will not hold it against me that I temporarily borrowed the contents
of the Circus cash box. So please, my dear, take particular care of
the little chest which contains my crystal ball and the remaining
precious sachet of the Powder of Life.
Thank you so much for this and for all the assistance you have
always given me, dear Maurice.
Affectionately and faithfully,
“My goodness,” said Lulu. “She went off to Czechoslovakia with six,
--six magical sisters---.”
“Six slightly light-fingered alter egos,” said Bubba. “Or that’s
what Mr.Maurice Sievert was supposed to believe!”
“Yes,” continued Lulu, “leaving some of the Powder of Life here.
Let’s look for it, Bubba.”
The two of them spent quite some time searching the area of the “mountainside”
down which the chest had tumbled. But finally the light grew too dim
for searching, and they decided to call it off until the next afternoon.
They were both hungry, thirsty, and tired from their long afternoon’s
activity, so Bubba once again flew Lulu to their Doorway, and they
descended to the underhouse. There, they bade each other good night
and went their separate ways, Bubba to the night sky, and Lulu to
the family nest and bed. But they had agreed to meet again upstairs
the next afternoon.
On to Chapter 9!
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