Richard Roberts Wind and the Wizard

ISBN 13: 9780942380095

Wind and the Wizard

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9780942380095: Wind and the Wizard
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When seven-year-old Bertie's toy monkey opens one of his books, they find themselves traveling through space and time and entering the worlds of Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Oz, and other fictional creations.

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Book Five - Metal
The events I am about to relate constitute the singular most challenging and astounding of all the many cases of Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, so very strange was the story that Holmes asked me, Dr. John Watson, his friend and house companion, to forego any publication of this story until after his death, for fear of compromising his reputation as one of the foremost scientific investigators of his time, albeit primarily in the field of crime.

Before I begin this incredible narrative, which commences when a young boy and his monkey (ostensibly a stuffed toy but at times displaying remarkably lifelike qualities) emerge from a bower in Kensington Park in 1898, having walked out of Sherwood Forest at the same moment in the year 1163, I should like to introduce myself to readers otherwise unfamiliar with the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

"The point is," he said, "that Sherlock Holmes is the greatest logical mind in the world, and I need his help in solving the mystery of how I came to leave my own time, and to be in other times and other places. I know my purpose now, and I need to get back into my own time."

When he finished, I sat there looking completely perplexed.

"I know you don't believe" he said. "But at least I can prove it - or at least some of it."

"How can you do that?" I inquired.

"I'll tell you how. I've been on Baker Street once before with a servant of my aunt's, and there is a bookstore at the other end of it."

"Yes, I know it."

"Well, this morning Bongo and I were walking in Sherwood Forest. We had spent many days there with Robin Hood. I had always admired him because he was so strong and courageous and such a good shot, but he turned out to be rather simple, and not at all responsible, like an overgrown Peter Pan."

"Who?" I said.

"Oh, Peter Pan hasn't been written yet," said the boy. "But Peter didn't want to grow up. And Robin didn't want to leave Sherwood; he just wanted to go on robbing people. Very irresponsible for someone his age. Also, he thought the earth was flat. You see, I am going to be a theoretical physicist, so Robin didn't prove to be a very good model for me in my life, if you know what I mean?"

My head was spinning. How I wished Holmes would get back. I should have felt more comfortable entertaining Professor Moriarty in the sitting room. "Anyhow, I changed Robin in some ways. I convinced him to suggest to the King a plan for redistribution of the land, so finally Robin gave up his old irresponsible outlaw ways.

"Now here's how I can prove what I say is true. When I passed by that bookstore down the street in the 1940s with my aunt's nursemaid, there was a book on Robin Hood in the window."

"Yes, I know that," I said. "The owner purports to be something of a Robin Hood scholar and displays that book in the window to entice passersby who may have similar interests. But the book is not for sale." "Well, when I stopped and looked in the window before, the title of the book was Robin Hood: The Great Outlaw. Now, as I just passed by that bookstore, this time the title is Robin Hood: The Great Reformer."

"I am sorry," I said, "I've missed something. How does that prove the truth of your story?"

"It proves I was back in Robin's time, and my influence changed him from being an outlaw to becoming a reformer."

When we arrived back at Baker Street, Holmes was engrossed in a communication which had arrived that afternoon, hand-carried by the wife of one of London's well-known artists, Norton Sanders. Sanders had attained notoriety a decade or so ago as a companion of Prince Edward, Queen Victoria's grandson. According to rumors, his mother, Princess Alexandra, had introduced Edward to Sanders in order to broaden his education, but she got more than she bargained for, because Sanders' circle of friends included many bohemians.

Holmes had been inspecting a piece of paper with his magnifying glass, and when I removed my overcoat and had sat down, he handed the paper to me. "See what you make of it, Watson."

"A riddle in verse?"

"Exactly. I've read it a hundred times and can't make heads nor tails of it, but I am afraid it may be from our old friend the Ripper."

"Great Scott! Jack the Ripper on the loose again."

"No, Watson, I think he's finished with murdering women. But the riddle implies that he may have some unfinished business with someone who knows too much."

"Now, Bertram," said Holmes, going formal with the boy as if opening a judicial inquiry, "I believe you told me that you were in London in the 1940s at your aunt's house just before you found yourself appearing as a character in Peter Pan?"

"No," answered Bertie.

"No?" said Holmes.

"No, that is how everything began. I first was in a book called The Wind in the Willows. Then I was in The Water-Babies and then I was in Peter Pan."

"Good Lord!" said Barrie, startled. "Do you know who wrote The Water-Babies?"

"Of course, Charles Kingsley," said Bertie.

"That in fact is a book , Mr. Holmes, but I am afraid you won't be able to contact Mr. Kingsley. That book was one of my favorites as a child, but he died in 1875."

"I'm not concerned with that," Holmes retorted. "What I want to determine from you is if the boy knows details of your book which are known only to you."

"Yes, of course, I see."

"Holmes," I interrupted. "Why don't you let the boy tell the story as he remembers it?"

"I was just coming to that, thank you Watson."

"Oh, um, regarding that little matter, Watson, there is the unpleasant business of the bodies I had Scotland Yard dig up in order to examine the feet. I would appreciate your not mentioning that in any of your narratives in the future."

"Of course, Holmes."

"And what about you, Bertie?" Holmes asked.

We were at that moment passing Kensington Gardens, when Bertie suddenly bolted from the cab. The driver heard our calls and halted, but the boy was running full speed towards cover, and it was obvious that he did not want to be caught. However, we criss-crossed the area by cab and on foot for more than an hour before returning to the cab and proceeding on our way home.

We were both feeling downhearted at not being able to help him, when suddenly I got a bright thought.

"What, Watson?" Holmes barely replied, deeply wrapped in his thoughts.

"Kensington Gardens" I said. "He told me that he was walking in Sherwood Forest and suddenly found himself in the Gardens at the place where they are going to put up the statue for J.M. Barrie. Maybe he'll find his way out from there."

"Out to where?" Holmes said.

"I guess that is part of the mystery of time/space," I said. I commenced this narrative by saying that this was the most astounding of all of Sherlock Holmes' many cases. So it remains to this day. And it shall go unpublished with me to my grave, at Sherlock Holmes' request.

No one spoke for a moment, and then James Barrie said, "And if the Rat knows it, then Kenneth Grahame knows it, for the Rat is his creation." From the distance came the sound of slow hoof beats, approaching ever nearer. A carriage appeared through the trees on the driveway, and slowed to a stop beside them. A door opened, and a man stepped down.

"It is time to go, Bertie!" he called. They got to their feet and walked towards the carriage.

"Who are you?" said Bertie, perplexed.

"Arthur Conan-Doyle, later Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle," he said. "Small consolation, perhaps, and not standing very tall beside your statute, James Barrie."

"Good God, Conan-Doyle," said Barrie. "We collaborated on a comic opera about five years ago, wasn't it, Arthur?" "Jane Annie, or The Good Conduct Prize. It opened at the Savoy in May 1893. And I see you are not on your best behavior, James Barrie."

"My God! The author of Sherlock Holmes" said Grahame in disbelief.

"I thought this was Dr. Watson's story" said Bertie.

"Watson merely narrates for me. He is my creation-like Holmes. I am here to take you out of the story, Bertie, and to show you I am not as cold-hearted and pragmatic as my creation, Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Indeed, you have had some disappointments in the story because of his qualities, which I regret."

"That's right," said Bertie. "I no longer want to be like him anymore."

"As you gentlemen have stated so eloquently" Conan-Doyle said, "You, Barrie, are Peter Pan and Peter Pan is you. And you, Grahame, are the creative, philosophical Water-Rat, and he is you, musing on the wonders of nature as you drift lazily downstream on a river outing." Book Six - Fire

"The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire."

--T. S. Eliot

Now some of you may know the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and some of you may not. What happened, of course, was that a tornado picked up Dorothy Gale's house in Kansas, and dropped it, along with herself and her dog Toto, in Munchkin country in Oz. Following the yellow-brick road to the Emerald City; Dorothy met the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, who joined her on her journey to see the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy managed to defeat the Wicked Witch of the West, sister of the Wicked Witch of the East, upon whom Dorothy's house had landed and killed. She hoped to return to Kansas in a balloon piloted by the Wizard, but at the last moment, Toto ran after a kitten and Dorothy went after him. The balloon took off without her, and she seemed to be stuck in Oz forever. Although in many ways Oz did seem more desirable than Kansas, Dorothy wanted to get back because she was afraid Aunt Em would be worrying about her. Finally, Dorothy sought the help of Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, and by means of the magic slippers she was able to return to Kansas.

Did you know that Frank Baum wrote fourteen Oz books, and that many, many more were written after his death by other authors? So Oz has always been true, awaiting revival by someone such as you or I.

In Gillikin Country, which is the North Quarter of Oz, there lived a lad called Tip. This boy remembered nothing of his parents; for he had been brought when quite young to be reared by the old woman known as Mombi, whose reputation, I am sorry to say, was none the best. The Gillikin people had reason to suspect her of indulging in magical arts, and therefore hesitated to associate with her.

It is said that Nature abhors a vacuum, which means that anytime there is an empty space, something will rush in to fill it. This was the case in Oz after the death of the two wicked witches. There was still a Good Witch of the North, and of course Glinda in the South, there were no more wicked witches. So without realizing what she was doing, Mombi, who had only been a Sorceress before, rushed in to fill the void.

"Look! Look!" cried Tip, pointing above. "A falling star!"

Indeed, from so far away, the strange object did appear to be a falling star, but it was instead a boat, and in it were two terrified travelers, whom we have come to know quite well: Bertie and Bongo.

You may remember that when we last saw them, they had said goodbye at dockside to Conan-Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Their little boat had drifted down the Thames unto the sea, just as they had journeyed once before in another boat given them by Rat in The Wind In The Willows when they had come to the sea of The Water-Babies.

It was night-time and the drifting motion of the boat and the gentle lapping of the waves soon lulled them to sleep. They awoke at dawn to a stiff breeze and whitecaps on the water. When the waves began to tumble and toss, growing bigger each minute, the ship rolled up and down, tipping sideways-first one way and then the other-and the two small sailors aboard had to hold fast to keep from being pitched headlong into the sea.

"Now what have you got me into?" cried Bertie to Bongo, recalling that all their adventures had begun so long ago when Bongo had opened The Wind In The Willows and they had suddenly found themselves to be characters in the book. Bongo shook his head emphatically, indicating that he did not know what was going on.

Ominously, a water spout began to form ahead of them. Now a water spout is like a cyclone, only because it forms over water and sucks up the water in its path and carries it up into the sky.

As they watched, the spout began to veer their way, churning a furious path through the waves. In the next moment, they were blinded by water and felt the boat begin to spin, slowly at first and then ever more rapidly. As it spun faster and faster, it began to rise higher and higher, until it was way up in the clouds. At the very top of the water spout, they broke through the fleecy clouds, which were like marshmallows festooning a sundae. Rubbing the water from their eyes, a wondrous sight lay below. A nearly square country of valleys and meadows, hills and mountains, rivers and lakes, surrounded on all four sides by barren deserts and wastelands. Slowly the boat stopped spinning, and now for a moment sailed the sky as light as a thistledown seed. Then very slowly, the boat began to spin in the opposite direction, gradually descending. The four parts of the country below glowed like a gentle fire with four colors, purple, blue, green and yellow. But the very center of that marvelous country shimmered like green fire, or like a gemstone set in a fabulous ring.

As they fell lower and lower, Bongo and Bertie saw the gem become a many-faceted emerald that was in fact a circular city, constructed mainly of emerald that winked with a fiery light in the morning sun. From this city to the desert boundary ran a road of gold. Now towards this road and away from the city at the center, they fell.

Fortunately for Bongo and Bertie, over this road a bridge arched, under which a river crossed, meeting yet another river. Where the two joined, there was just enough water to cushion the falling boat, which landed with a great splash. When they had picked themselves up from the bottom of the boat, they noticed a curious thing. Both banks of the river moved, one forwards, the other backwards, so that if they looked towards a bank, it appeared that the boat was moving in the opposite direction. For a time, they played a game of looking quickly from one bank to the other, and then down at the water in front of the boat, which was quite still, so they were certain that the river was motionless.

"What a curious country, Bongo," remarked Bertie.

Then, standing on one bank and waving goodbye to them was none other than Arthur Conan-Doyle. Presently the hansom backed up to the river's edge, and he got in, and the cab drove away backwards. As he continued to watch, Bertie saw the events of his last adventure with Sherlock Holmes repeated backwards. Then a large forest appeared on the horizon, and Bertie witnessed a rerun of the events with Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest. Then Hook's pirate ship sailed into view and his adventure with Peter Pan was seen again in rever...

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