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Pivotal part of the story....
It was becoming increasingly more difficult for Grandfather to tell Jack and Sierra this story. “Rather than doing what was right, I kept the two coins I had taken from the statue of Mahakala.” Grandfather looked down, shaking his head. “My boy, we all go through life searching for something — whatever it might be. We chase dreams. There are times though, in our pursuits, that we lose sight of what we were even looking for in the first place.” He paused, and then said, “Sierra’s grandfather and I mapped out all of Africa and Asia, charting our every step. Eventually, though, we realized we had missed what was most important and most meaningful in our lives: our families.”
In a regretful tone, Grandfather continued, “When I grew too old to travel, Jack, I passed the coin I carried on to your father and asked him to use it wisely. Sierra, I gave the second coin to your mother.” Grandfather reached out and grasped Jack’s hand before he said, “The map, Jack, is simply a tool to enable us to follow our dreams and pursue our aspirations in life. And, Jack, what is most important is that you followed your heart — every step of the way. You are, for certain, the Jack-of-Hearts, my boy, the Jack-of-Hearts.”
The expression on Grandfather’s face made it clear that he had more to say while he repositioned himself in his chair. “You have made good choices — and, at times poor, choices. Through your successes and failures, Jack, know that you have tested your boundaries, found your voice, proved your inner strength, and conquered your fears. Your journey this summer, Jack, is one of self-empowerment — a great story of courage and bravery. It’s a boy’s imagination — an imagination that he sets free — that can take him to the most wondrous places in life. Ingenuity combined with real-life experience is what truly makes a man, and, of course, a woman.” Grandfather gave Sierra his wink. Then he leaned toward Jack and said, “Your adventures have led you to an abundance of discoveries, the greatest one of all being you, Jack. You have found yourself — the most poignant find ever for a boy! Always, always follow your heart and dreams.”
Jack found himself behind the mansion. He looked toward the back of the estate over the tall grass. In the distance, there was something peculiar on a hilltop. It was large and white, sitting high in a magnificent Oak tree. He put on his hat, picked up the suitcase, and with his other hand, dragged his knapsack toward the large Oak. As he approached the tree, he was stunned. It was a large boat perched high in the tree. It was as if the tree grew around it while pushing it high off the ground.
The sizable boat did not appear seaworthy, even if it wasn’t in a tree. In large capital letters, the word “IMAGINE” was painted on the boat’s stern. A tattered rope ladder hung from the stern of the boat with its other end staked to the ground to secure it. The steps were evenly spaced and knotted every 12 inches. Jack counted them; the ladder stretched 17 feet high.
How could Jack resist climbing the rope ladder? He had never been on a boat before, not even a canoe. Carefully navigating his way up each wrung, he began to sweat and tremble while being careful not to look down. When he reached the top, he climbed over the side of the boat and onto the deck. The deck boards were rotted and squeaked beneath his feet as he moved toward the living quarters in the galley below.
There was a rusted metal railing wrapped around the bow. Jack was uncomfortably high up, but his mind wandered regardless. He imagined that he was on a ship crashing through waves while smelling the salt air in a warm tropical breeze.
There was a small anchor on the deck tied to the rusted railing with a long rope. Obviously, the anchor was meant to be thrown over the side of the boat so that someone like Jack could shimmy down the rope. Jack leaned over the rail and flung the anchor over the side. With both hands on the rail, he watched it sail through the air, but it became apparent quickly that the rope wasn’t long enough to reach the ground.
The weight of the anchor broke the rail and Jack tumbled off the boat. He, feeling weightless for the first time, was falling headfirst toward the Earth. The plunge seemed to last forever, though hitting the ground came soon enough when he belly-flopped onto what felt like unforgiving terrain. The impact knocked the wind out of him. He gasped for air with his legs and arms thrashing about. He rolled side-to-side as he waited for his abdominal muscles to relax but it was just not happening. Finally, he lay calmly on his back while looking directly up at the white-hot sun. His eyes closed and he lost consciousness.
A few minutes later, Jack began to wake up. He gulped, inhaling deeply while opening his eyes and looking directly into the sun again. He lay there for a moment, unsure of what just happened.
“MOUSE POOP! I’ve done it again.” Jack exclaimed! “I’m so clumsy!”
His head hurt terribly. He felt a bump on his forehead twice and then looked at his fingers. ‘No blood,’ he thought. He tested his arms and legs and they still worked. ‘No broken bones.’ He averted his eyes from the sun only to see the anchor above swinging back and forth like a pendulum, still attached to the broken railing.
Still catching his breath, Jack heard a clicking sound on top of his chest and then a whirrr. Click, click, click, whirrr. He sat up quickly and brought his hand to his chest. The gold coin was making the sound! He unsnapped the leather compartment that held the coin. It was hot and he dropped it to the ground. Click, click, click, whirrr. Click, click, click, whirrr. The black center circle of the coin began to turn counterclockwise and rise up from the coin. It got taller and taller. Click, click, click, whirrr. Click, click, click, whirr. The perimeter of the circle then turned clockwise and also rose. Very slowly, it rose an additional six inches and stopped.
“A TELESCOPE!” Jack yelled out loud. “IT’S A TELESCOPE!”
The black marble of the coin was the eyepiece of the telescope. Jack peered through this extraordinarily powerful tool, scanning the shore of Lake Pennacook; he saw people, small fishing shacks, and ships with sails moored in the harbor along with other vessels tied to docks and piers. The land was flat, and heat was rising toward dark clouds creeping in from the north behind a village. Jack lowered the telescope. ‘Something’s wrong!’ he thought. ‘There are no houses or boats and certainly no ships on lake Pennacook!’
Jack then pondered why it was that Mount Olegwasi all but vanished while he was peering through the telescope. The wind began to gust as if a storm was brewing. He raised the telescope to his eye again, twisting it to focus. ‘Ah!’ Jack thought. ‘Again — a bustling village!’ He was perplexed once again. Bewilderment seemed a common occurrence since he arrived at Sir Jonathan’s estate. The blustery wind then began to howl.
“BARRELBOTTOM! BARRELBOTTOM! BAAARRREEELLLBOTTOM!” It sounded just like the way Aunt Melba would yell at him, but it wasn’t her. He lowered the telescope from his eye and was astonished to find himself standing in a crow’s nest high atop a sailing ship.
“Barrelbottom! Do you see land, boy? We should arrive at our destination on the African coast by day’s light tomorrow!” yelled the sailor from the deck below. Jack pointed Eastward. “Well get down here, boy! Dinner is being served!”
Jack swallowed hard when he looked down. “Trouble has found me again,” he whispered.
A rope ladder similar to the one he climbed to reach the tree house hung from the mast. Jack began to count the number of steps to the deck of the ship. When he lost count at 83, his heart began to pound. Then, realizing that the holster on his hip was actually for his telescope, he secured it and began his descent down the ladder. His entire body was trembling, his hands sweating. He could only look straight ahead. One by one, Jack carefully navigated the countless steps down. It was grueling and time-consuming, but with each step toward the deck, his confidence grew. When he neared the bottom, he leapt onto the deck where the impatient sailor stood.
“The cook is waiting for you and the food is almost gone!”
“Yes sir!” Jack said out of respect for the sailor.
“Sir? Did you call me Sir? You call me Captain! Captain Norris! Captain Howes Norris,” he shouted with anger. “Down to the galley, boy!”
Jack was hungry. ‘What a long day!’ he thought as he ran down the stairs to the galley. Jack estimated that there were 20 men eating dinner. As Captain Norris entered the galley the sailors all looked at him with disdain. It was clear that they despised the captain. ‘I bet he’s mean to them,’ Jack thought.
The wind was whipping, and the waves were big, which is why the lanterns were swinging back and forth. Jack struggled to maintain his balance as he walked through the galley and accidentally bumped into one of the sailors.
“Move it, boy!” yelled the sailor.
“Well, it’s about time,” the cook grumbled.
He threw Jack an apron and handed him two plates stacked with slop. Jack made his way back to the two remaining sailors who had not been served. When he returned to the kitchen, the cook was eating his own plate of slop.
“I want the pots scrubbed and put away!” It seemed the cook and the sailors could only communicate by yelling at one another.
“Sir, I haven’t had dinner yet,” Jack said nervously. The cook looked angry, just like the rest of the sailors.
“You can eat when you finish the chores!” he said.
While reaching for a dirty pot to wash, the bow of the ship rose dramatically and slammed down while listing to one side. A wall of seawater rushed through the opening of the galley and swept away whatever was strewn across the floor.
“DINNER’S OVER! A STORM IS BREWING!” warned the captain.
The sailors all fled the galley at once to man the ship. Jack could see black clouds approaching through the galley door as the bow of the ship rose again and slammed down. Jack braced himself; water once again burst through the galley door toward him, knocking over the table of dirty pots.
‘This is no place to be,’ Jack thought. When he climbed the stairs to the deck, the captain was muscling the wheel to stay on course. Jack was fighting his way through the driving rain and wind when a powerful wave hit the bow and recklessly overcame him. It swept him down the port side of the boat, causing him to slam into the railing of the stern. He was dizzy as he stood up clutching the rail.
Jack reached for a life ring, put his arms through it, and then pushed it down and twisted it to maneuver it around his waist. This time, the bow dipped below the surface of the ocean causing another surge of water to pummel him. The wave — larger than all the others — drove Jack over the rail and off the stern of the ship. Even while wearing the life ring, the strength of the wave caused him to plunge deep into the ocean’s frigid water. Slowly, the life ring did lift him back to the surface. Jack gasped for air and watched as the ship continued to fight the mighty surf. He continued to paddle his arms and legs to stay afloat. The ship bumped up and down at the mercy of the angry ocean, and in its battle to move forward, made its way further and further away from Jack until he could no longer see it on the horizon.
“Help, help!” Jack yelled to no avail.
It wasn’t long before the waters calmed. The dark clouds passed, and the sun began to shine through blue openings between white puffy clouds. He had never felt so alone, floating helplessly like a corked soda bottle. He pulled his telescope from beneath the water’s surface and scanned the ocean. He could see no land or boats from his vantage point.
“I could be floating for days,” Jack whispered. Hopeless, his heart continued to beat rapidly. “I have never been in such trouble and it’s my own fault. It must be my imagination or a daydream. But it seems so real.”
Again, Jack was puzzled. He raised the telescope to his eye again and looked through the lens which was blurred from the ocean water. Turning it to sharpen the focus, Jack thought with a fright, ‘Maybe there are sharks below, or a giant squid that will wrap its suction-cupped tentacles around me and swim to the bottom of the sea and eat me.’
Holding the telescope to his eye once again, Jack was astonished when he saw Noseworthy pushing through tall wet grass at the rear of his grandfather’s mansion.
“Mr. BARRELBOTTOM! Jack!!!” Noseworthy was frantic. Groggy, Jack dropped his telescope to the ground, and Noseworthy clutched his arm to pull him up to his feet....