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Ch.5: THE GEE-WHIZ SUBMARINE EXPRESS

The Widow Pickle kept studying over matters and things as she combed the Twins’ hair with the blue and green combs. She began to think, as a great many widows do, that after all her husband had perhaps been a very wonderful man, and better than she had thought at the time. She wished very much, as many widows do, that her husband were alive again for a few moments. She wished to ask him just one more question. We need not explain what that question would have been, for any one could guess that it would have been in regard to Chemical Substances.

At last, she arose and went to the glass door of the cupboard and began looking carefully behind the dishes on the shelves. At length she saw a little box, which she had not noticed before.

“Aha!” cried the Widow Pickle, “I am sure this is the powder which you mean. Is it not so, little man?”

The latter refused either to speak or to make any sign.

“I will try it, anyhow,” said the Widow Pickle. So she poured some of the powder from this box upon a plate and began touching a lighted match to it. To her great surprise, the powder burst out into a cloud of smoke, and when the smoke had cleared away, she saw, lying upon the plate, a small but perfect little ship, the like of which she had never seen before in all her life. It was something like a steamboat, except that it was covered over entirely with glass. At the stern it had a large wheel, evidently to make it go, and it had other wheels along the bottom, like feet upon a sofa. Its bow was curved up and backward sharply, something like the front of a sled, and its sides were gently rounded so that it could slip along easily. The deck was quite roofed over by this curved-glass shield, for what reason the Widow could not tell. Indeed, although she guessed at once that this was a boat of some sort, she could not tell what sort it was.

“Well, I’d like to know—” began the Widow Pickle.

“What was it you were about to inquire, my good woman?” asked the Private Secretary.

“Why, what should I inquire, my good man,” replied the Widow, “if not to ask what is this thing here on the plate?”

“That, madam,” said the Private Secretary, “is a boat.”

“A boat? A boat?”

The Private Secretary nodded.

“Can’t you read the name?” he asked.

So the Widow Pickle peered closely through her glasses and saw that there was a name printed in small shining letters on one end of the boat. “The Gee-Whiz Submarine Express!” cried the Widow. “But, alack! how small it is. Why, it is not as long as my foot, and I was always thought in my time to have a very small foot, too!”

The Private Secretary smiled in a knowing manner.

“Perhaps, mamma,” said Zuzu, “you have overlooked something in some other box.”

“Zuzu, you have a good mind for one so young,” said his mother. “I will look in the cupboard again.” So again she began rummaging around, and at length she found another box, a square one, covered over with dust, showing that it had not been opened for a long time. The first box had held a pale-blue powder, but this one was filled nearly to the lid with a light-green powder. On the top of this box, written in the hand of Aurelius Pickle, was the inscription, “Magic Powder of Gee-Whiz.” When the Widow Pickle saw this, she gave an exclamation of joy.