When was the last time Mary Stokes saw a dinosaur? Ever so long ago, in 1906, and it wasn't even a live dinosaur, just the bones. Of course, those early renditions of dinosaurs were quite inaccurate by present-day standards. Even so, Mary, who spent a rare afternoon off at the Crystal Palace with Rose, the head- houseparlourmaid at 165 Eaton Place, was in awe of these ancient creatures.
And here I am now, in Oz, in the presence of an actual living dinosaur. Oh, if only Rose or Mr Hudson were here to see this magnificent creature! What would Mrs Bridges say? Oh my! And whenever that cheeky Edward pinched my bum, I'd love to have this great beast come to my rescue and teach that little footman a thing or two about respect.
Poor Pat! He is a cheery sort, but sad. He says he left the Great Valley after his wife died. And that wife was Littlefoot's aunt, his mother's sister...They weren't married a year when she died...
While Gladys adjusted the specially made large viewscreen in the backyard of Lindens End, Mary brought forth much green leaves for Pat, an early arrival to Oz. How wonderful to have the jovial apatosaurus as a neighbor. Still, he is living in the valley all by himself. That, naturally will change once the rest of the Great Valley herd, and the Nesting Grounds Herd, relocate to Oz."It must have been quite a shock for you." said Mary as she filled the big washtub with fresh cool water. "Wandering the Mysterious Beyond then finding that tunnel. Ozma says that tunnel has the power to cross time portals. You were quite fortunate to find it as many of our recent Oz residents."
"That Ricar," said Pat in his gravelly yet soothing drawl, "We'd never seen
anyone like him before. Walked on two legs...Well, he wasn't dangerous for a two-
legger. The only two-legged ones we know are Sharpteeth, egg thieves, and
Gladys laughed, saying, "Well, you won't see anything like that in Oz. It's quite safe here."
Pat nodded, "Yep, that's what that kid said when I came out of that tunnel. That I was in some place called Oz. Looks friendly enough, but some of the folks here are sure different."
He glanced around, taking in the house, gardens, as well as that strange contraption Gladys set up. What is that thing? And why do I see these ladies coming in out of that big thing. Must be where they live 'cause they go in at night and don't come out till morning.
Again, Gladys, in her lovely Welsh lilt, laughed, noticing Pat's bewildered
expression. Not only did he have many questions about his new surroundings but he
has no idea of houses or humans or anything so far removed from his more familiar
Jurassic environs. So, to introduce this ancient animal to all things Oz, Gladys
began to explain the viewscreen and why.
"This is how we are able to view things from faraway Emerald City. See. there is a concert tonight, and Miss Madeline – She's a descendant of Ricar Tasou – is the new director of the orchestra. Princess Ozma is so pleased to have Miss Maddie here, and–"
Mary interrupted with, "She's to become a Jedi like Ricar. Tomorrow morning she's to leave for Quadling Country to begin her training."
"And," added Gladys, "Miss Maddie is not conducting tonight. Someone else is doing that, but I don't know who he is."
Turning to Pat, the housekeeper said, "I suppose you've never heard such
splendid music. You are in for a treat. This is why we invited you to Lindens End,
to watch the concert with us."
A still bewildered Pat replied, "No, I don't think I have, but while I was in the Mysterious Beyond, a flyer from the Great Valley said some of the folks there been hearing music and singing. Why, just before I found that tunnel, the flyer said old Topsy and Mr. Thicknose just up and sang. Don't know what to make of that."
The mention of the Great Valley herd gave Mary an idea. Since Maddie would
eventually, after her training, visit that valley and reconnect with her Jurassic
family, that lady would need to know how to make effective contact. Maddie,
according to the Wizard and Ozma, would have only three days to convince the
dinosaurs she's really Bron's sister reborn. She'll also have to persuade them to
relocate to Oz.
So she asked, "What are they like? Your Great Valley friends? I'm asking because Miss Maddie will go there soon. She'll need to know which of the little ones to approach first."
The old longneck smiled and replied, "Oh, they're a good bunch. Real nice folks, and the kids are great." He thought it over then added, "If your friend goes to the Great Valley, she should look up the young'uns first. Might help if she starts out with Ducky or Spike; they're very sweet kids. Littlefoot is good, and so is Petrie the flyer. Now, as for that little threehorn Cera–"
"What about Cera?," asked Mary warily. She had to ask because, through a series of secret contacts, Mary learned Cera was to receive a special visitor this very evening, through a sleep story. Why did Pat pause like that at the mention of the child's name? Surely those people have researched each dinosaur child, concluding that Cera was the one.
Pat picked up on Mary's concern, replying, "Oh no, she's a great kid, once one gets on her good side. She's a brave sort, quite fearless, and very sure of herself. And she has this...How can I put it? Well, Cera is a born leader. Did I mention it was Cera who persuaded her friends to find Littlefoot and his grandparents? Oh yeah, she got her friends to follow the foot holes all across canyons, deserts, even the 'icky place' as she put it. Yep, she's one plucky little gal."
Interrupting the conversation, Gladys said, "Well, we can discuss the Great
Valley children later. The concert is ready to start."
She indicated the images on the viewscreen. The orchestra was now fully assembled on the stage, and Six made her entrance. Sounding the "A", echoed by the principal oboist, she led the orchestra in the customary tuning.
"See the lady on the right of the podium?," said Gladys pointing to the principal cellist chair. "That is Miss Madeline. She's a very famous cellist, but for tonight she's playing with the orchestra. Said she wanted the spotlight off her for once."
"Hey," said a mesmerized Pat as he watched the transmitted images, "How about that? Didn't have anything like this in the Great Valley. How does it work? And these folks are in your Emerald City now?"
Mary laughingly said, "Oh, don't ask me because I've never seen anything like it, either. Not before coming to Oz that is. Look, the conductor enters..."
Both women and dinosaur watched the images on the viewscreen, the latter still quite in awe and totally mystified by this strange device that transmits images and sound across great distance. Yet, Pat wasn't too confused as he instantly recognized that guest conductor. So did Gladys and Mary who looked at each other in puzzlement.
"I thought," gasped Mary, "he wasn't to make a public appearance until much
She made a face, adding, "And I didn't know he had a musical background."
Gladys shook her lovely head, just as astonished as Mary. "Neither did I. Whatever possessed him to...You know, Mary, I don't think Madeline has met this man, but Six...She's as mystified as are Ozma and the Wizard, I'm sure."
Indeed, when the conductor made his entrance, a few gasps could be heard from the audience, but soon the surprised Ozites erupted in thunderous applause. He was quite handsome, tall and slender, dressed in the traditional black tuxedo with the stylish swallowtail coat. His long, graying brown hair was, for this occasion, neatly tied back by a black velvet ribbon. After shaking Six's hand, he momentarily turned to Maddie and did likewise. Nothing out of the ordinary registered on the woman's face. She simply smiled and exchanged pleasantries. He took his place on the podium, raised his baton, then gave the downbeat. Instantly, the orchestra launched into Beethoven's Lenore Overture.
Pat, forgetting his bewilderment, lost himself in the music, but at the same
time focused on the conductor as if he'd seen this man before. He craned his head
downwards and whispered to Mary, "I've met that guy. He came to the Great Valley,
right after Ricar Tasou left. Didn't stay long though."
Then, "Come to think of it, I've seen him after that, when I was in the Mysterious Beyond. Yep, he told me how to find the tunnel, then he was there when I came out and told me about Gotoma's Valley. Said his name was Neo Something."
In her royal box, Ozma was as dumbfounded as her guests. Surely Locasta warned him time and again the dangers of showing himself in public. Meeting via the Holonet is one thing; a very public appearance could jeopardize Oz's security.
"But Ozma," reassured the Wizard, "he wanted to do this, as a way to meet
Madeline. Besides, she doesn't know who he is. To her, he's just a nice gentleman
who kindly filled in as conductor at the last minute. Listen, our Oz Symphony
hasn't sounded this polished, this exquisite in ages. Now, sit back and enjoy."
Even Zixi comfortingly said, "While Sirenna is obviously watching the concert, and she instantly recognizes her father, she won't do anything stupid."
"Such as," said a worried Ozma, her eyes showing a telling strain, "come here to confront her father, thus complicating an already overwhelming problem. Which why it's imperative Maddie begins her training immediately. And..."
The fairy princess felt a sudden disturbance in the Force. She turned to see a Jedi sitting next to her.
"...And," said Anakin Skywalker, "to get the dinosaurs here as soon as possible. Don't worry, Ozma. One is to be contacted now, through a dream, and one of the Valley elders will experience an equally revealing vision. It's to prep for Maddie's visit to the Great Valley. Don't forget Aladar's Herd, as one or two of those creatures will experience more unsettling visions. I'm not sure which, but this one will at last figure out the truth."
Copyright©2007-2008 by PRP