Often, we find the things we’ve searched for aren’t the things we’ve wanted. ~ V. Shnodgrate
And we ran into them.
“Whoa me!” Ruber exclaimed.
“I say!” exclaimed Lucy.
“Professor!” Sandra said.
“Sandra!” I said.
“Everyone!” Lucy said.
“You’ve some explaining to do,” I said, looking straight at Sandra—and just a bit at Ruber. “We ran into Daddy Salami—”
“No!” Sandra seemed worried.
“Yes!” Lucy said. “Yes indeed. And he said that you told him everything about our searching for his wife!”
“I didn’t!” Sandra was adamant.
Now this was an interest, for Daddy Salami seemed to know all about it.
“He knew all about it! How?” Lucy asked.
Ruber was shaking his head. “Okay, okay. So, I told him, eh?!”
We all turned on him. The brute! He’s betrayed us. And you know how it goes: If one betrays; one gets feathers, tar, and roses. All over himself, too.
I was just about to tell Ruber this, but he continued:
“Me dad cornered me. So, I told him. I had to.”
“No, you didn’t!” Sandra snapped.
“What harm, eh?” Ruber asked.
He really didn’t seem to know.
“Well maybe that he’s onto us and might try to stop us, you blundering scamp!” Lucy exclaimed.
“Whatever.” Sandra shook her head. “Anyway, we got a lead.”
“So do we!” I said.
“You do?” Ruber asked. “A wonder you two did anything productive.”
“How rude!” replied Lucy. “I shall have you know that we are often being productive.”
“How so, eh?” asked Ruber.
“Well, you know…” Lucy was fumbling for an example. “Producing things…that’s productive!”
“Oi! All you two produce is loud noises and bad smells.”
“Rather like your kitchen!”
“Enough!” Sandra was always ordering. “What’s your lead, P.VJ?”
“Madam Zelna,” I said.
Sandra seemed a bit shocked. “That ours too! I found another Daddy Salami letter…this one was addressed to his cook: Madam Zelna, and—”
“And,” Ruber said interrupting, “we tracked her to this very castle.”
“To the kitchens!” I said.
And we all set off.
Now, you should know, it’s a wonder trying to get through a maze. Especially a gray, dark maze. It probably took us about two hours to make it back to where the party was taking place. (We followed the sound of Fats Henry’s boomings. Like a thunderclap, you know.)
The party was still in full force.
And now there was dancing.
And then we got separated.
And then…well, it was horrid after that.
Lucy and I followed a chap (he didn’t now we were following him) who led us to the kitchens.
You wouldn’t believe the kitchens either. So many people hard at work. It was like a mill full of rats—or something like that.
“Where is she?” I shouted to Lucy. You had to shout to be heard.
“Over there by the fryers!” Lucy shouted back. “She is like a vicious-looking hedgehog!”
Lucy was right. Across the kitchen there was a lady giving orders. She was small and possessed a long, fat nose. Short gray hair and little beady eyes. It had to be her.
We made our way over.
“What?!” she demanded upon seeing us. “Are you here to chop carrots? Get to work, then!”
“No, no,” Lucy said quickly, “We here to ask if know where we can find Daddy Salami’s wife!”
That stopped her cold. And she just stared. Her beady eyes got beadier.
“Why you want to know?”
“‘Cause,” I said, “Sandra is searching for her.”
“Sandra?” she asked.
“That’s Salami’s adopted daughter,” Lucy said.
Madam Zelna scratched her cheek.
“And we thought you might know where she was…” I trailed off, and Lucy picked it up.
“Because you were his cook, all those years ago!”
Madam Zelna said, “Maybe I’m her.” And with that, she started giving orders again.
That’s when Ruber came flying into the kitchen. “Get out!” he was yelling at us. “Dad is really mad and the whole party is in an uproar!”
Everything after that was chaos, you know. People running here, people running there, people running everywhere—but not in heaven or hell.
We managed to escape the castle that night.
I didn’t really believe Madam Zelna and neither, apparently, did Sandra. We related everything to her the following day. For, you see, after that, the whole search was dropped.
You know how it is: Sometimes it’s better not to know who your mother is than to know and regret.
That, folks, is the moral.
Written by Professor VJ Duke and Lucy Brazier
Copyright Now & Then
Professorish Note: PLF! So, TPL will be taking a bit of a break. There is some editing and updating that I must do, see. I think I may even have to hunt for a new theme. But we’ll be back! Promise.