Annie's Travel Adventures Book 2:
Get Your
Eyes Open
My Photonic Adventures

A. J. Kryka


© Copyright 2014 A. J. Kryka Sr.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author.

ISBN: 978-1-941696-03-3 (e)

ISBN: 978-1-941696-04-0 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-941696-05-7 (sc)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015914640

First Edition 2014-05-26 Published by Anton J. Kryka Sr.
Second Edition 2015-09-06 Published by Anton J. Kryka Sr.
Salem Township, Michigan USA

Books by A. J. Kryka

Annie's Travel Adventures:

1. Turn On Your Ears
     or My Adventures as a Duck

2. Get Your Eyes Open
     or My Photonic Adventures

3. Power Up Your Brain
     or My Mathematical Christmas Adventures

The first chapters of each of these books can be viewed at


Turn On Your Ears Characters ()

01. Annette "Annie" Susan Baker

02. Grandfather (Nicholas "Nick" Baker)

03. Father (Joseph "Joe" Baker)

04. Austin (dog)

05. Holly (cat)

06. Ike (Isaac Franklin Scott)

07. Captain Bart (Bartholomew Bear)

08. Sheriff Scully Skunk

09. Officer Frank Blue-Snake

10. Mike Monkey (wagon driver)

11. Max Little-Dog

12. Sid Big-Dog

13. Guardian Frederick Fox

14. Judge Randolf Raccoon

15. Mister Tall-One Mushman

16. Mister Shorty Mushman

17. One Potato

18. Two Potato

19. Three Potato

20. Four Potato

21. Nurse Wilma Wolf

22. Crazy Tina Turkey

23. Henry Horse

24. Rita Reindeer

25. Senator Pugsley Pig

26. Senator Pudgy Pig

27. Tillie Turkey

28. Terrie Turkey

29. Tonnie Turkey

30. Torrie Turkey

31. River

32. Annabel Ant

33. Bill Blackbird

34. Carl Cardinal

35. Mister Engineer

36. Woody Woodchuck

37. Mister Conductor

38. Ida Idaho-Potato

39. Betsy McDonald

40. Roy McDonald

41. Harriet Horse

42. Ryan McDonald

43. Joanne (speaker)

44. Tom Turkey

45. Tim Turkey

46. Cowleen Cow

47. Beelinda Bee

48. Wylie Wolf

49. Wilbur Wolf

50. Annita Ant

51. Primo Pig, the Prime

52. Joanne (jailbird)

53. Helen Horse

54. Hadwin Horse

55. Harwin Horse

56. Bob Gale

57. Dorothy Gale

58. Rick Reindeer

59. Joanne Baker (Grandmother)


Get Your Eyes Open Characters {}

60. Lady Liberty

61. Squeaky Squirrel

62. Battania "Battie" Bat

63. Dunstan "Dusty" Downright

64. Debra Downright

65. Dunstan "Dustbin" Downright III

66. Misses Dwight

67. Gracie Goat

68. Gus Goat

69. Dunstan "Dustier" Downright, the Elder

70. Glenda Goat

71. Frederic "Freddy" Fox

72. Becky Bear

31. River (Snowman)

73. Millicent "Millie" Monkey

74. Melville "Mel" Monkey

75. Manfield "Mannie" Monkey

76. Margaret "Maggie" Monkey

77. Mayor Martin Monkey

78. Martha Monkey

79. Madison Monkey

80. Misses Gallen

81. Andy Gallen (baby)

82. Mister Gallen

83. Hannah Gallen

84. Rachel Gallen

85. Commander Harman

86. Corporal Clifford

87. Billy Jackson

88. Mizz Kilbran

89. Martha (student)

90. Jane (student)

91. Edmond "Eddie" Elephant

92. Jack (the sleeping cook)

93. Mary Baker (Mother)

94. Karab Wolf, the Emperor of Kalifia

95. "Blind" General

96. General Rightfield

97. Squared Squirrel

98. Shirley Squirrel

99. Valter (Vohteerian)

100. Darwin (Dwarf)

101. Eternal Elm

102. Varick (Vohteerian)


1. Grandmother at Home or Chalkboard Lessons

2. Equations or Captain Bart Returns

3. Lemonade Economics or Captain Bart's Story

4. Captain Bart Sails Away or Grandmother's Departure

Day One: Spelunking or Friends My Size

  5. Blinding Darkness or Silver Light

  6. Bat-fully Sad or Flying Lessons

  7. Tracks or Straw Memories

  8. Dwarf Insight or Railroad News

  9. Home in the Mountain or Seeing in the Dark

  10. Neighborly or Solid Footing

  11. Mountain View or A One-Carrot Job

  12. Legs and Eggs or Got Milk?

  13. Cooking Lesson or An Egg-cellent Lunch

  14. Unexpected Guest or Historical News

  15. A Peaceful Ride or Goodbye and Hello

  16. A Wild Ride or Look Before You Leap

Day Two: The Other Side of the Mountain or New Traveling Companions

  17. Big Splash or Bear-ly Alive

  18. Dressed For the Occasion or Degrees

  19. Way the Wind Blows or Snowman River

  20. Sipping Water or Monkey Spies

  21. Bear Back Riding or Bonking Party

  22. Giving Rides or Spear Throwing

  23. Sight Seeing or Hypnotic Hype

  24. Shake Spear or Smile

  25. A Chuckle a Day or Motherly Advice

  26. Past and Present or Moving On

  27. Wolf Tales or Old Friends

  28. A Wonderful Lunch or Rumors of War

  29. Lunch Talk or Fare Talk

  30. All Aboard or Arrival Surprise

  31. Under Attack or A Barrel View

  32. A Counting or What Plan?

  33. Plan Correction or Truck Bed

Day Three: History Lesson or Let There Be Light

  34. Brain Washing or Equality

  35. Food Tasting or Escape From School

  36. Zoology or Elephant Tales

  37. The Rest of the Story or Midland Wild Man

  38. Hide and Seek or Glenda Butts In

  39. Clever Clothes or Kitchen Hideout

  40. Breakfast Talk or Who's All Here?

  41. A Short Long Story or Plans For Freedom

  42. Fitting Disguises or Bark Like a Dog

  43. Trucking or Into the Zoo

  44. Invisible Discussion or Sight Seeing

  45. First Battle or Escape

  46. Not on the Menu or Surprise Disguise

  47. Elephant Jokes or Battle Scene

  48. Movie Sail or Magic Bullets

  49. Riding a Wave or Another Battle

  50. Flying Fears or Reunion Flight

  51. Palace Plans or Sunshine Vision

  52. The Empty Chair or Sound Discussion

  53. Bad Hair Day or Karab On The Run

  54. Last Battle or Thoughts of Home

  55. Hello Goodbye or Homeward Bound

Chapter 1
Grandmother at Home
Chalkboard Lessons

My name is Annette, but everyone calls me Annie.

I used to spend most of my days with my grandfather, but that changed after Grandfather taught me to turn on my ears. I went on an adventure to help him, and we brought Grandmother home. Now I spend most of my days with Grandfather and Grandmother.

Every morning Father would drop me off at my grandparent's home on his way to work. Grandfather and Grandmother would always be waiting on the porch for me. Father usually did not stay long. There would be a few quick greetings, then Father would say, "I best be getting to work. Annie, you be a good girl."

"I will," I would say.

"Have a good day, Joe," Grandmother would say.

"Have fun," Grandfather would say.

Father would then walk down the sidewalk. As he turned to get into his truck, we would all wave to him, and he would wave back. As he drove out the driveway, we would go into the kitchen for breakfast.

A few things have changed since my last adventure. I used to help Grandfather a little with making breakfast. Now Grandmother has started teaching me how to cook. This may seem like a silly thing to learn, but Grandmother always has a reason for things. She has often sung the following silly little rhyme to me.

There was a hungry man. His head was filled with rocks. There was soup in a can And bread in the breadbox.

He sat at the table To calm his hungry mood. Though quite young and able, He could not see this food.

He could not see the soup. He could not see the bread. His eyes were filled with goop And pebbles filled his head.

He had a hungry look. An anger came his way. He should have learned to cook, But starved to death that day.

He was a silly man With a head full of rocks. He could not use a pan And died near the breadbox.

"Sometimes, you have to really open up your eyes to see what is right in front of you," Grandfather would say.

Grandmother has also changed my education. "Annie, we need to make sure that you get a more proper education," Grandmother said. She bought me a mathematics book, a physics book, and a large chalkboard on wheels. She has even suggested that I might need to go to a real school, one called a high school, in a few years. I love my grandmother, but she does seem to have some strange ideas at times.

After breakfast, Grandmother was my teacher. She used these two new books. The chalkboard could be used in the kitchen or rolled out onto the front porch. If the weather was nice, Grandmother preferred outdoor schooling. Austin and Holly liked to lie on the porch and learn too.

Austin is a dog, and Holly is a cat. They live with Grandfather and Grandmother. They can both talk, but they let me answer all the hard questions. They are not very good at the chalkboard though. They have to hold the chalk in their mouths. Austin often tries to talk with the chalk in his mouth. This usually results in smaller pieces of chalk. Holly just dislikes the taste of the chalk. "Annie, could you please write down the equation as I say it?" she would always ask.

I do enjoy the things Grandmother teaches me. Grandfather usually listens quietly to my lessons, but now and then, he helps too. When I do not understand something and Grandmother cannot seem to explain it, Grandfather always comes through with an example.

"Take your mathematics book, for example," Grandfather would say. "It is just setting on this table. It is very happy to stay just where it is. That is called inertia. I'll put this piece of paper under it. If I pull the paper slowly, I move the book, because the force of friction is greater than the inertial force of the book. If I pull the paper quickly, the inertial force is greater than the frictional force, and the book does not move. All forces have a time dependent aspect."

Every now and then, Grandmother would say, "I don't feel like doing mathematics today. Let's go play the piano." This seemed like it should have been a break in my schooling, but it wasn't. Grandmother would find some sheet music and play a short tune. Then she would explain all the things about notes and scales. She would explain how the keys on the piano are arranged. Then she would tell me that it was my turn to play. Grandfather would always add something about the physics of the piano and the mathematics of music.

In the afternoons, Grandmother and Grandfather would take turns telling stories. This usually took place in the swing in the backyard. Grandfather's stories were still mostly about "The Four Brothers." Grandmother's stories seemed to be adventures that she has actually lived. Grandmother might be telling a story, and she would turn to Grandfather and say, "Do you remember that blue house we lived in just after we were married?" Grandfather would say, "Yes," and Grandmother would continue with her story, and eventually that blue house came into the story.

Grandmother's stories were just as colorful and unusual as Grandfather's stories. I had always thought that Grandfather created stories from his imagination; that the people, creatures, and places did not really exist. But maybe his stories were real too.

Sometimes when Grandfather told a story, Grandmother would sit on the grass and brush Austin. She used a special wire brush. After several strokes, she would pull the hair off the brush and let it go into the breeze. "These clouds of Austin don't get very far off the ground," she would say.

By the time Grandfather was done with the story, there would be many "clouds of Austin" scattered on the grass. Each cloud was stuck in the grass, gently moving with the breeze. I would sometimes brush Austin too and set each "cloud" free as well. If I wasn't careful, the wind might blow a "cloud" back at me. I eventually learned how to set them free.

* * *

There came a day when Father stopped for longer than usual as he dropped me off.

"I have to be gone for about two weeks," Father said. "Can you take care of Annie while I'm gone?"

"Certainly, we can," Grandmother said.

Father had already talked with me about this possibility, so I wasn't surprised. I liked being with Grandfather and Grandmother. I would just be sleeping in a different bed for a while.

"Thank you," Father said. "This project is very important. When I drop Annie off tomorrow, I'll bring a suitcase with her clothes."

The next day, when Father dropped me off, I carried a backpack, and Father carried a suitcase up to the porch.

Grandfather and Grandmother were waiting on the porch as usual. "Let's take your things into the guest room," Grandmother said as she took the suitcase from Father.

Grandmother and I went into the house and headed back to the guest room. Grandmother took the clothes out of the suitcase and put them into a dresser as I unpacked my backpack.

When we came back out onto the porch, Father was still there.

"This test run is very important," Father was saying.

"I know, son," Grandfather said, "but don't get too tied up in the politics. Politicians have a way of making the simplest things very complicated. Often the original, and publicly stated intention, yields the opposite result. Their solutions often become bigger diseases than what they started out to cure."

"Father, I've heard you say that a thousand times," Father said. "I will do my best to keep the project away from their control."

"Annie is all unpacked," Grandmother said.

"That's good," Father said. "I had better get going. Annie, you be especially good for Grandfather and Grandmother. Learn your lessons."

"I will, Father," I said.

"Good luck on the project," Grandmother said.

"Be careful and keep your eyes open, Joe," Grandfather said.

Grandfather always said, "Have fun," when Father left. It felt strange for him to say, "Be careful." But that is a different adventure.

For this adventure, I was happy to be spending even more time with Grandfather and Grandmother.

Chapter 2
Captain Bart Returns

Grandfather, Grandmother, and I went into the house after we waved goodbye to Father.

I'm getting used to cooking. I can now crack an egg without breaking the yoke, but since Grandmother came home, Grandfather's favorite breakfast has become omelets. So if I break a yoke, it doesn't matter.

I washed my hands before starting to cook. Then I made ham and cheese omelets for breakfast. Grandfather made tea with honey and lemon for all of us. Grandmother made slices of toast and spread them with strawberry jam.

On my first adventure, strawberries always made me think of Grandfather, but now strawberries make me think of Ike. Ike is a toad who lives in Grandfather's garden. He is also my guardian angel. He went with me on my first adventure.

After breakfast, there was my morning schooling. In mathematics, I was working on solving multiple linear equations. This may sound complicated, but it really isn't. If you have two variables in an equation like X + Y = 12, it defines a straight line. Three variables define a plane; not an airplane, something like a piece of paper. Four variable equations are box-like shapes.

Anyway, if you have two line equations, they cross at some point if they are not parallel. When solving multiple equations, you find where the two lines cross or as my math book says, intersect.

If you have two non-parallel planes, they can intersect to form a line. Three non-parallel planes can intersect a one point.

Four variable box shapes are much harder to picture. At what point do four infinitely large boxes touch each other?

Grandfather has tried to describe this, but my mind just goes blank trying to imagine such a thing. Grandfather has a much more vivid imagination than I do. I can solve the equations, but the answer doesn't mean much to me yet. Perhaps that is how Ike and I traveled to the world of our first adventure. My grandmother calls that place New Hope, but Grandfather calls it Annie's World and then smiles. Sometimes Grandfather is very sentimental.

After my morning schooling, Grandmother made sandwiches for lunch. Grandfather poured a glass of milk for each of us. The milk made me think of Cowleen, and then I thought about Betsy, Roy, and Ryan McDonald. Cowleen was the cow on the McDonald's farm in my first adventure.

After lunch, we all went out to the backyard and sat in the swing. Holly sat in Grandmother's lap. Austin lay on the grass near the swing. Grandfather began the story of "The Four Brothers and The Toy Stealing Twister." I think I remember Grandfather telling this story before, but it was still a good story.

We all listened to Grandfather's story. The four brothers had left their toys all over the yard. They hadn't put any of them away. A passing twister stole all their toys, and the four brothers went to get them back. It was a good adventure.

Grandfather was getting close to the end of the story. The four brothers were returning home with their toys. "Look," Grandmother said as she pointed down to the pond.

A big sailing ship was docking at Pirate's Cove. That is what Grandfather calls the dock on his pond. A bear was standing on the deck of the ship. He was wearing a blue coat and a three-cornered hat. The bear's name was Captain Bart. Up in the riggings of the ship, many squirrels were lowering the masts.

Grandfather hurriedly said, "And the four brothers did not exactly live happily ever after. They had many, many more adventures. The end. Let's go see what Captain Bartholomew is up to."

Grandmother and I got off the swing and followed Grandfather down the hill to the pond. Austin and Holly walked with us. As we approached the dock, Captain Bart called out, "We have brought something of yours back for you."

Just then, several flying squirrels appeared from around the stern of the ship. All of Captain Bart's crew could fly. They wore flying necklaces that Grandfather had made for them. They were pulling on a rope. At the end of the rope was Grandfather's paddleboat.

I thought that paddleboat would be gone forever, since Ike and I had left it on a faraway beach during our first adventure. "Thank you, Captain Bartholomew," Grandfather said as he took the rope from the squirrels. He tied the paddleboat to the dock.

"Nicholas, I request permission to come ashore," Captain Bart said.

"You have no need of Nicholas's permission," Grandmother said laughingly. "You have my permission."

"Thank you, fine lady," Captain Bart said.

"You have my permission as well," Grandfather said, smiling at Grandmother.

"And thank you, Nicholas," Captain Bart added.

"Lower the gangplank," Captain Bart ordered to his crew. Some squirrels pulled on ropes. Two flying squirrels carried the one end of the gangplank. The gangplank was quickly lowered onto the dock.

As Captain Bart came down the gangplank, a green and red creature flew around his head and stopped a short distance from his face.

"Good day to you, Ike, Protector of Good," Captain Bart said.

Ike always wore his red vest, his sword, and the sash that Grandfather had given him. Toads don't normally fly, but the sash was a special machine just like the ones the squirrels wore. It gave Ike the power to fly. Ike loved flying.

"Captain Bartholomew, may I have permission to come aboard?" Ike asked. "There are several walnut trees that may be of interest to your crew. These trees have said that their nuts are ready to be harvested."

"Have you suddenly become a tree-talker that you can talk to trees?" Captain Bart asked.

"I am still a toad, but I seem to have better hearing these days," Ike replied. "Anyway, the trees told me that if your crew will plant a few of these nuts on the lands that you visit, most of them can be eaten by your crew."

"I'm sure they would agree to the task and enjoy the reward," Captain Bart said. "Such a treasure is not easy to come by." Looking to Grandfather, Captain Bart added, "Nicholas, will you also grant my rowdy crew permission to come ashore?"

"Yes," Grandfather responded. "They may have all the walnuts they can find. They may fill the hold of your ship until it sinks from the weight."

"Not as full as that I hope," Captain Bart laughed. "Being stuck in the mud of your dock until my crew has eaten enough to raise my ship is not what I want. By then, they would be too fat to be a good crew. Besides, they must leave some nuts for the squirrels of this world."

Captain Bart turned to his ship and shouted up into the riggings, "Shore leave for all. Ike has found treasures for you."

Ike flew up to join the squirrels in the riggings. "The walnut trees have a treasure for you," Ike shouted. Two hundred squirrels took flight. They followed Ike over the top of the house to the front yard.

Captain Bart continued down the gangplank and shook hands with Grandfather. Grandmother gave Captain Bart a hug. When Captain Bart came to me, he gave me a very adult handshake. For Austin and Holly, Captain Bart got down on one knee to shake hands.

"May the wind always fill your sails, Captain," Austin said in his down-under accent. After all, Austin is an Australian Shepherd.

"It is a pleasure to see you again, Captain Bartholomew," Holly said in her sweet voice.

"Come up to the house," Grandmother said. "We can sit and talk."

We all headed up the small hill to the backyard.

Grandfather offered Captain Bart a seat in one of the lawn chairs. Captain Bart said, "Ladies first," and remained standing while Grandmother and I sat down in the swing. Captain Bart then sat down, and Grandfather sat in the lawn chair next to him. Austin took a spot in the grass between Grandfather and Captain Bart. Holly jumped up into the swing between Grandmother and me.

"Would you like something to drink, Captain?" Grandmother asked.

"A tall glass of ice water would be great," Captain Bart said.

"How about some ice-cold lemonade?" Grandmother asked.

"I wouldn't want to put you to any bother," Captain Bart replied.

"It won't be any bother," Grandmother said. "Annie, can you help me with the lemonade?"

"Yes, Grandmother," I replied.

Grandmother and I went into the kitchen through the back door. We washed our hands and rinsed off the lemons.

"Annie, you cut the lemons in half," Grandmother said, "and I'll squeeze the juice." Grandmother had a special, small bowl that was designed for just such a job. After each half lemon was squeezed, she poured the juice into a large glass pitcher.

When the lemons were all squeezed, Grandmother added sugar and water to the juice. "Annie, get some ice cubes from the freezer," Grandmother said. She stirred the mixture with a long wooden spoon as I added ice cubes one at a time. When the pitcher was full, Grandmother stopped stirring. She moved the stepstool so that she could reach into one of the top cupboards.

Water started condensing on the outside of the pitcher. I drew a smiling face in the moisture. Grandmother took a carrier for glasses down from the cupboard. When she got down from the stepstool, she put four glasses into it.

Grandmother carried the glasses and a folding table to the backyard. I brought the pitcher of lemonade.

Chapter 3
Lemonade Economics
Captain Bart's Story

Captain Bart and Grandfather stood up as Grandmother and I returned to the backyard. Grandfather took the table from Grandmother and set it up near the swing. Grandmother removed the glasses from the carrier and set them on the table. I handed the pitcher to Grandmother, and she filled each glass with lemonade.

I took two glasses and handed one to Captain Bart and the other to Grandfather. Then Grandmother and I each took a glass and sat down in the swing. We were careful not to swing until we had each taken a sip.

Grandfather and Captain Bart sat down. Captain Bart took a long drink of the lemonade, finishing half the glass.

"Thank you, Joanne," Captain Bart said. "This is just what I needed after the long trip here."

"You are very welcome, Captain Bartholomew," Grandmother said. "Can I refill your glass?"

"Thank you, but not just yet," Captain Bart replied. "I'll let this glass cool my belly first."

"How is Lady Liberty sailing these days, Captain?" Grandfather asked.

"Who is Lady Liberty?" I asked.

Captain Bart chuckled and said, "Lady Liberty is the name of my ship. She's a good ship, seaworthy and strong. She'll out last me by a good many years." He turned and looked down to the pond and added, "But it looks like I need to repaint her name. It has faded a bit."

"Does she talk to you?" I asked.

"Yes, but she doesn't talk very much," Captain Bart replied. "She is made from many trees who cherish their life together as one ship. She did make a heck of a racket once when pirates were boarding her. She's not one to give up without a fight."

"So there really are pirates?" I asked.

"Get your eyes open, Annie; it's a big world out there," Captain Bart said. "Yes, there are pirates."

"What did the pirates want?" I asked.

"The pirates wanted to steal my cargo," Captain Bart replied. "We were hauling a load of silver from the dwarves. We were taking it to the southern colonies. The pirates wanted that silver."

"Who are the dwarves?" I asked.

"Dwarves are short fellows with beards," Captain Bart said. "They helped defend your grandfather's machine in the battle with the Gray Army. Don't you remember?"

"Oh," I said. "I didn't know what they were called. I just thought of them as people more my size."

Captain Bart laughed and said, "That they are, Annie. They are short in size, but tall in stature."

"Did the pirates get the silver?" I asked.

"No," Captain Bart replied. "As I said before, Lady Liberty made quite a bit of noise and alerted us when the raccoon pirates started climbing up her sides. After that, the squirrels flew near the raccoons and bumped them, teasing them. The raccoons lost their grip trying to fend off my very annoying crew. They all fell into the Blue Sea."

"What happened to the pirates?" I asked.

"Raccoons don't like water, but they can swim," Captain Bart said. "They swam back to their boats and then returned to shore. Many other trading ships have not been so lucky. The raccoon pirates can be very sneaky."

"But after the battle with the Gray Army, I thought the monkeys were going to keep the raccoons from doing bad things," I said.

"Those were only the raccoons who fought on the side of the Gray Army," Captain Bart said. "These pirates were not a part of that army."

"Oh," I said.

"There are many kinds of evil in the universe," Grandmother said.

"There is also much that is good," Grandfather added. "Always keep your eyes open."

Grandfather and Grandmother are both smart potatoes. I knew that they were both right, and I wanted to learn more. "Why do the pirates want silver?" I asked.

"Silver is a valuable metal," Captain Bart said. "It is easy to mold and shape into things. It is used as money in many places. Myself, I like best the Vohteerian silver coins."

"Where do the dwarves get the silver?" I asked.

"The dwarves dig tunnels into the mountains," Captain Bart said. "They are hard workers and excellent miners. The dwarves say that there is a hill of silver, copper, or iron ore at the heart of every mountain. They dig out and refine these ores. They melt the silver into bars."

"Do the dwarves give you the silver?" I asked.

"Oh no," Captain Bart said. "I sell them sugar and molasses for their silver. The dwarves love their sweets. I use silver to buy the sugar and molasses from the southern farmers."

"What do they do with the copper and iron?" I asked.

"The dwarves forge the copper and iron into tools," Captain Bart replied. "The dwarves are not skilled with wood, but the tree-talkers are great artists in the shaping of wood. The dwarves pay the tree-talkers with silver to create wooden handles for their tools. The tree-talkers make the silver into fine coins and jewelry."

"Who are the tree-talkers?" I asked.

"Tree-talkers are the tall ones who fought with your grandfather and the dwarves against the Gray Army," Captain Bart explained. "Everyone calls them tree-talkers, but they call themselves the Vohteerians. They are especially good listeners."

"So you take silver south and sugar north," I said. "How did you ever get started?"

"A wise old tree-talker, Varick of Vohtatwater, loaned me the money," Captain Bart replied. "Varick was in the ship building business and was willing to take a risk on me. I was young, but I had a dream. The old tree-talker believed in my dream too, and secretly, I think Varick loved sweets as much as the dwarves."

"How did you ever pay back the loan?" I asked.

"It took six years and over three hundred trips," Captain Bart replied. "I paid back every ounce of silver owed, but I had also agreed to haul cotton for Varick as the interest on the loan. The tree-talkers spin and weave very strong cloth from the cotton."

Captain Bart took another long drink of his lemonade. "Captain, let me refill your glass," Grandmother said as she got up from the swing.

"Another glass would be wonderful," Captain Bart said.

Grandmother got up and refilled Captain Bart's glass. "Thank you, Joanne," he said.

When Grandmother rejoined me on the swing, I asked, "How did you make enough to pay back the loan?"

"First, you have to trade in what your customers want," Captain Bart replied. "Second, you have to be determined to do the job. In the south, we buy sugar, where sugar cane was grown and refined. We buy it for less silver than we sell it for in the north. So back and forth we went. On each trip, there was a little extra silver for the crew and me. Speaking of the crew, Nicholas, how much do I owe you for the walnuts?"

"Nothing," Grandmother said, answering for Grandfather. "The pleasure of your company is enough."

"Joanne, it is I who am enjoying your company," Captain Bart said. "So on that score we are even. I still owe you for the lemonade and the walnuts."

This time Grandfather spoke for himself. "The lemonade is free. As you would put it, it's the price of doing business. For the walnuts, since your crew is harvesting and loading, one Vohteerian silver coin will be the charge."

"Nicholas, you will never make any money as a business man," Captain Bart laughed, "but I will pay your price."

"You know I am no business man," Grandfather chuckled. "I leave that to those who understand it, like you."

"Nicholas, you are skilled at many things, but you are right. It is a different kind of skill to manage a crew," Captain Bart sighed. "Sometimes it is a heavy task. It is easy to make money when the crew is happy, but when the crew has problems—their problems are mine. Loyalty to each other is what keeps us all going." He put his left hand into one of the pockets of his blue jacket and removed a shiny object. I could see a flash of sunlight reflecting off the coin as he handed it to Grandfather. Grandfather held up the coin between his thumb and index finger.

"Grandfather, may I see the coin?" I asked.

"Yes, come look," Grandfather replied.

I got up from the swing, and Grandmother took my glass. I approached Grandfather, and he handed me the coin. One side of the coin had a tree in the center with wavy lines around the border. It looked like a river flowing all around a maple tree. The other side of the coin had two arrows lying across each other. The border had many symbols that I could not read.

"What does it say?" I asked.

"The Tree of Liberty," Captain Bart said. "It's written in the Vohteerian language."

I handed the coin back to Grandfather, but he didn't take it.

"Keep the coin, Annie," Grandfather said. "Keep it with you. It will bring you luck."

Captain Bart finished his second glass of lemonade and stood up. "It is time to check on my crew," he said. "They have been flying overhead during our whole conversation. They have taken many walnuts to the ship. I must make sure that they have not over filled our ship to the point that you suggested. I don't wish to be a permanent guest at your dock."

Chapter 4
Captain Bart Sails Away
Grandmother's Departure

We all stood up and walked with Captain Bart as he went down the hill to Pirate's Cove. A band of squirrels flew overhead. Each was carrying one walnut between its paws.

"Come aboard, my friends," Captain Bart said as he started up the gangplank. We all followed him.

Captain Bart headed over to an opening in the deck.

It is beautiful to look upon a sailing ship from a distance. It is quite a wonder to actually stand upon the deck of one. Each rope and pulley had its purpose. Each piece of wood lay in its place for a reason. It would take thousands of equations to describe the physics of the ship. Yet as one whole machine, its purpose was simple, travel upon the fluid called water.

A group of squirrels was flying up from the hold as Captain Bart reached the opening.

"Squeaky, we need to keep an even keel," Captain Bart said to one of the squirrels. "Have you balanced the cargo?"

One of the squirrels stopped and hovered just in front of Captain Bart.

"Yes sir, Captain," Squeaky said.

"How many nuts have you brought aboard?" Captain Bart asked.

"Close to one thousand, Captain," Squeaky replied.

"How many more will the trees give you?" Captain Bart asked.

"Not many more," Squeaky replied. "For as many as we take, Ike says that they want an equal number left for their squirrel friends here. I expect we'll make only one more trip to the front yard. Ike says that the trees are counting every nut."

"Make sure each of the crew thanks each tree," Captain Bart said. "We must respect their generous nature."

"Yes sir, Captain," Squeaky said.

"Be off now," Captain Bart said. Squeaky obeyed and flew up over our heads, heading to the front yard.

Captain Bart turned around and walked toward us. "My crew is almost finished," he said. "When they return, we shall set sail. So goodbye for now, my friends."

"Goodbye, Captain," we all said.

"Thank you for returning the paddleboat," I added.

"It was my pleasure, Annie," Captain Bart said, smiling.

"Joanne, one moment," Captain Bart said as we started down the gangplank.

Grandmother stopped. Captain Bart leaned close to her and whispered into her ear. "Mary has been seen in the west," he said.

I don't think anyone else was supposed to hear this, but with my ears turned on, I could not help it.

Grandmother's eyes opened wide. "Are you sure?" she whispered.

"The message came from a tree-talker," Captain Bart whispered back.

"Thank you, Captain Bartholomew," Grandmother said in her regular voice. She then came down the gangplank and joined us on the dock.

The last of the squirrels had returned, and Captain Bart shouted to them, "Raise the sails. Prepare to get underway."

We all watched as the ship left the dock and reached the middle of the pond. Just then, a mist surrounded the ship. After a few moments, the mist vanished, and the ship was gone.

We returned to the house and had a quiet supper. It had been a big day, and we were all tired. We went to bed early. As I was getting on my pajamas, I remembered the silver coin from Grandfather. "Keep it with you," Grandfather had said. I took it out of the pocket of my jeans and slipped it into the pocket of my pajamas.

Before falling asleep, I could hear Grandfather and Grandmother discussing something in their bedroom. I could not make out what they were saying even with my ears turned on.

I gradually fell asleep.

I was flying through the air, and Grandmother was with me. We landed on the deck of Captain Bart's ship.

"Who touches me?" Lady Liberty asked.

"Friends," Grandmother said.

Suddenly, I was in the hold of the ship, sitting on a big pile of walnuts. The ship was rocking back and forth.

"Stop sitting on us," the walnuts complained. "You're going to crack us."

"I'm sorry," I said sincerely.

The pile of walnuts became a roller coaster, and I was going very fast down a long, steep grade. When I hit the bottom, I woke up.

I heard the sound of a train whistle. It was dark, and I was still waking up. Then I heard the sound again. I was awake enough to wonder what was happening. There were no railroad tracks near here, and this whistle sounded very close.

When I was packing, I had forgotten to bring my slippers. So I slipped on my shoes and went into the kitchen. Out the back window past Grandfather's garden, I could see a single bright light.

I dashed out the back door and ran to the garden.

The train conductor was holding up a lantern. I could see that Grandmother was fully dressed. She wasn't in her pajamas. She wore a cowboy hat and a green flannel shirt with blue jeans. She also carried a small suitcase. The conductor waved to her, and she boarded a passenger car.

"Annie, go back to bed," Ike said sleepily.

"No, I can't," I said. "Grandmother is getting on that train. I must go with her."

"If she wanted you to go, she would have taken you along," Ike said.

"I know, but..." I said, trying to think of a good reason to go with her.

"You're still in your pajamas," Ike observed.

"At least they're my size," I said.

"Did you bring any money?" Ike asked.

"After our last adventure, I always keep a dollar bill in my pajama pocket," I said.

"I'm sure that one dollar will not cover the fare for both of us," Ike said.

"Then you're coming too?" I asked.

"Annie, I have promised to protect you, even if that means protecting you from yourself," Ike said.

"The car after the passenger car is a box car," I said. "Its doors are open. If we can get in there before the engine starts, we can follow Grandmother."

"Okay, but to make sure we do this safely, I'll fly you into the box car," Ike said. Ike jumped up next to me and took my hand. In another second, I was flying along with Ike toward the boxcar door.

We landed gently and safely inside the boxcar. Just then, the engine started moving. It jerked the cars forward. I fell down on my bottom into a pile of straw.

As the engine sped up, a cool wind blew through the boxcar. I shivered from the cold. To get out of this wind, I crawled on my hands and knees to the front of the boxcar.

I sat with my back against the front of the boxcar. It wasn't as cold there.

Ike sat on his belly next to me.

The gentle rocking of the train soon persuaded me into finishing my night's sleep.

* * * * * * * *

Day One:
Friends My Size

* * * * * * * *

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