I stopped myself at the realization our star performer was not here. I glanced
around and noticed Luke Skywalker and company had left. Where did they go? Don't
they know the concert will begin soon? And where is Ozma? It's not like her to be
late to a special event.
To this C3PO answered, "Nick, Master Luke and his friends went to Miss Madeline's home. I guess they wanted to meet, at last, Marbe Tasou's longlost descendent. How incredible that Miss Madeline is a Jedi, or at least, recognizes her lineage. I found your recollection of her encounter with Anakin Skywalker simply fascinating. But what happened after that meeting?"
"3PO," I replied, "during Maddie's encounter with Anakin, Princess Ozma met with Charlie Lavigne, the Wizard, and another wizard of great powers. I was there, in the Royal Palace, along with Scarecrow and Professor Wogglebug. All of us watched Madeline via the Magic Picture, and Ozma so desperately wanted Charlie to bring her to Oz."
Through the marvel of Ozma's Magic Picture they watched the drama unfold as
Madeline Tasou, née Newbury, conversed with the celebrated Jedi Knight Anakin
"He was celebrated at one point," said Ozma, "but he fell from grace due to his overwhelming fear of separation. He lost his mother, and he feared losing his wife."
"Yes," said the Wizard of Oz, his normally merry twinkling eyes now clouded with tears. "It was said Anakin was the Chosen One, the one who would defeat the powers of darkness and bring balance to the Force. Alas, that was not to be, that is until his son sought the good in him and brought him back to the light."
They all continued to watch as Madeline, overwhelmed by the images emanating
through that magical mirror, broke down in tears. Anakin, now redeemed and sensing
her pain, commiserated with her and offered his wise counsel. He told her not to
mourn her mother, not to hate her father, and let go of the fear and anger that
could bring her to the brink of the dark side.
She touched his handsome face, saying, "But...What I saw, when you fought with Obi-Wan, on that volcanic planet...You were so badly burned, clinging to life by a thread. But here you are now, whole and vital..."
Anakin said, "It's because I am now one with the Force, Maddie. I know those images shocked and saddened you, but do not cry over me. My son helped me to realize there was good in me, as I know there is much good in you. Now, leave this place and don't ever look back. You have so much to live for, and your destiny lies far beyond here. Go to Sedalia, to meet with Charlie. He will tell you much more, far more than I can. Your family, your forebears, are much greater than you realize..."
The Magic Picture, a device that allows Ozma to view anything going on in the
world, faded to black. Princess Ozma turned to Charlie, her own lovely eyes bright
"Charlie," she said, "you must bring her here. She is so sad, and she needs to be surrounded by those who love and cherish her."
Charlie Lavigne, a tall, lanky, elderly man with thinning gray hair and thick white mustache, said, "Ozma, all is ready for Madeline's arrival. The house is in order and, as a treat, I've asked her cousin James to join us. He'll be at the house when she arrives as will the servants. All I have to do is persuade her to take a much needed vacation."
"But," asked Ozma, "what if she doesn't – how shall I put it – bite? Charlie, I know your goddaughter harbors, as Anakin has pointed out, much anger and fear. Surely, after viewing his sad tale of his journey to the dark side, she would realize the fate awaiting her."
The Wizard of Oz, glancing at the other wizard present, said, "I'm sure she can
be persuaded, that is if she is made aware that her presence is needed. After all,
if the prophecy holds true, Madeline is the key in getting those creatures to
relocate to Oz. Then there is the delicate task of breaking to her that she actually
has family among those creatures. May I suggest seeking Glinda's help..."
That other wizard, who had listened intently to the conversation, finally spoke:
"Ozma, Oscar, Charlie...The only true reason for bringing Miss Newbury here is to ensure her safety. While I am still not sure if her father's family had, or still has, and direct dealings with You-Know-Who, they could still pose a threat. Charlie, have you found any more about the Newburys, and if indeed they've shown any involvement with You-Know-Who?"
Charlie Lavigne took out a thick portfolio, sifted through it, then produced several documents. All papers detailed the very strange history of the Newbury family, including that "evil" branch which resulted in Robert, Madeline's father, and the "good" side to which belonged cousin James. A very convoluted tale, and Charlie made several time trips during his research. He, along with his wizard friend, was curious in what forces made one family turn out so bad, especially since that "good" branch of the family tree included several members of the nobility.
"Let's see," said the elderly Charlie, rifling through the stack, "Bertram
Newbury, that was Robert's great-great-grandfather, was disowned by the family back
in 1903. There wasn't much information on the exact nature of his fall from grace,
but there were several indiscretions on his part: Gambling, dallying with female
servants, enticing young men to invest in whatever scheme. Bertram was not the most
honest of men; most of his so-called 'sure things' were scams. Hundreds of young men
lost most, if not their entire, fortunes. Now, on the 'good' branch of the family
tree was a lineage of noblemen, one such was the Marquis of Newbury. The last, a
Bunny Newbury, married Lady Diana Russell in 1913. At least he was the last as there
were no children. According to Bunny, his family never acknowledged those disowned
relatives. He claimed Rupert Newbury, that was Robert's great-grandfather, indulged
in shady dealings such as trading arms with various countries and spied for the
Germans in World War I. Bunny told me there was a lone cousin in that bunch, Julia,
who just got fed up with her family's ties to the nefarious and wicked, and those
were her very words. She married Albert Fairburn in 1920, and it is this union which
gave rise to James' family."
Charlie stopped there as the strange history of the Newbury family was just too long
to make sense of the present task at hand. For what it was worth, and this was
pointed out by the Wizard and Ozma, most of the "bad seed" Newburys had died out.
Only James and Madeline were the sole surviving relatives.
There was something else: The mystery surrounding an event which took place eons ago, the Jurassic Period to be precise. That event, according to Charlie and his magical friend, had ties not only to a villainous person from a faraway galaxy, but a mysterious woman who, somehow, managed to make things right. The tragedy involved the kidnapping of a young female apatosaurus; the crime's sole eyewitness was the girl's best friend. That child dinosaur had been spirited away to a distant planet, kept there by her captor who wanted to train the creature for his own dark agenda. However, her captor thought the animal stupid and slow, so he merely left her locked in a compound with only a hired hand to look after her. One day, as the hired hand took the animal its usual ration of green leaves and fruit, he discovered the corral empty; the young dinosaur simply vanished. Of course, at the time of this unfortunate, extremely inexplicable episode, the young sauropod's captor was dead, killed by the very man who had appeared to Madeline.
"Anakin Skywalker," said the Wizard, "was well on his way to the dark side.
Poor boy, to have so much love and courage only to have his weaknesses exploited."
Coming back to the subject at hand, he asked the other wizard, "To where did this unfortunate creature go? Surely she couldn't return to Earth, or did she? Albus, a young woman's future hangs in the balance, and she may just be the one her brother has mourned all these years."
The grand wizard, an imminent magical man in his own right, kindly and serenely replied, "Oscar, although I have my own concerns at home, I do, on occasion, step outside my realm to assist those in need. To tell the truth, I am an admirer of Miss Newbury's musical prowess, and of her Force abilities. She may not know it now, but she will. As for that unfortunate kidnap victim, I shall do what I can to retrace those events immediately before and after she disappeared."
He said to Charlie, "I take it your goddaughter will not be informed of this highly unusual facet of her lineage. She will, in time, discover it on her own. The main task now is to convince her to make that journey. I trust the train will be on time..."
On the outskirts of the small Missouri town of Sedalia, just off the highway
exchange, is a diner, Bertha's Meet 'n' Eat, a popular hangout for travellers
and truckers. Not fancy or trendy, but it was a diner straight out of the 1950's
with its kitschy decor, jukebox, photos of famous country music stars and NASCAR
drivers on the walls, and one photo of a young woman whose musical career path
seemed out of place for a crowd whose tastes usually run more to Johnny Cash than
J.S. Bach. Yet this lady was endeared to the locals although she's not a native of
the Show Me State; she had the distinction of just knowing one of Sedalia's
This fine sunny Friday morning, the place was packed, and at a booth by the huge picture window from where one could see the traffic whiz by, sat an elderly gentleman and his married sister. They sipped hot coffee graciously served by Bobbie Jean, Bertha's daughter, waiting for the arrival of that lady in the photo.
"Charlie," said Lenore, a large handsome elderly woman with thick gray hair
fashioned in a tight bun, "when is she coming? Or is she coming at all? You know how
busy she is, and mourning her mother hasn't made things any easier. Do you think
she'll buy this 'vacation' line?"
Charlie Lavigne, dropping a dime in the table-side jukebox and perusing the list of usual C&W fare, replied, "Lenore, will you stop fretting so. Maddie called not long ago. She's just a few miles of the exchange. She'll be here."
Then, "I think she realizes she can't run away from the inevitable. I told you of her special circumstances, why she has to relocate to Oz, and what may await her once she arrives."
Lenore, pointing to a classic Tammy Wynette song, said, "Play #232, Charlie, it's my favorite. But, I still don't understand. If all of the bad seed Newburys are dead, then what's all the fuss? Is Madeline in any danger, Charlie? Tell me the truth."
As much as Charlie hated revealing the entire sordid truth to his sister, and Lenore loved and regarded Madeline as if the lady was her own grandchild, things had to be, as he put it, laid out on the table. Leaning close to Lenore, he said in a quiet voice, almost a whisper, "The bad seed family may have died out, Lenore, but there is someone else who's out to get Maddie. I don't know all the details, as Albus has just uncovered it. Apparently this guy had a score to settle with Jean-Paul Beauchamps, the one who married Marbe Tasou. There was a confrontation just before Jean-Paul immigrated to the States, and this man swore revenge on Jean-Paul's family."
"But," said Lenore with a gasp, "that happened more than a century ago. Did this man have any family himself? Any descendants?"
Charlie said, "Albus found out there is one, and he lives in Paris. Don't know his name yet, or if he's, by chance, run into Maddie during one of her European tours. The one thing I do know: the bad seed Newburys did have a connection with this man, not with You-Know-Who as we previously assumed. Odd that nothing out of the ordinary happened to the Beauchamps' later descendants. Right now, I just want to get Madeline settled, safe and sound, in Oz, where no one can harm her. Did you bring those things I asked for? And did you contact that mystery woman?"
Lenore reached into her purse and removed two items. Both were rather large,
exquisite medallions. The first was of gleaming platinum, studded with dozens of
colorful semi-precious stones; the other of the finest mahogany, upon which was
carved a curious Art-Deco pattern and a Latin phrase. On the back of the former
piece was etched a phrase in Creole French.
"I had a dickens finding these things, Charlie. I almost forgot I stashed them with Hank's old war stuff." Hank Purcell was Lenore's husband, another magical man who was also Charlie's best friend. He would, in time, figure into this ever-unfolding saga.
"About that contact...I did that, too. She will meet Maddie at the station when the train arrives. She'll bring another item for Maddie, the one about the kidnapped dinosaur. Oh, Charlie, is it true? Is our Madeline really his sister? One doesn't hear of reincarnation of this type. What about that other dinosaur, Xander? Is he really who I think he is?"
Charlie, ever mindful of the many comings and goings, and keeping tabs on anyone who may overhear this delicate conversation, said, "Lenore, the first part, about Bron's sister, is true. Xander is another story. We won't know if he is, indeed, who we believe he is until after the Herd is safely transported to Oz."
The bell above the door tinkled, announcing the arrival of another patron. All
heads turned as the pretty young woman strode towards the booth where Charlie and
Lenore sat. Yes, she was quite well known in these parts; every year she graciously
hosts a free recital and music clinic for the area middle school kids.
Bertha herself greeted her customer, saying, "Good morning, Maddie. Sorry to hear about your mother, honey. She was a good woman. Ol' Charlie's been telling us some good time stories about Lavinia and you."
She chuckled as her big body and mile-high black-dyed beehive quivered with humor. "What can I get for you, honey?"
Madeline hardly settled into the booth as Bertha so graciously took her order. How long had it been since Miss Tasou visited this place? Just last year during her annual recital, and Lavinia, despite suffering from terminal cancer, was here, sitting in this very booth with daughter and friends.
"Oh, Bertha," said Maddie while scanning the menu, "I have this unusually tremendous appetite today. So I'll have the works: scrambled eggs, country ham, grits, biscuits with that delicious homemade jam, coffee. Just bring it all on."
Bertha laughed again, saying, "My, my. You must be in a good mood today. Charlie, you and Lavinia sure did right by this girl. Why, the whole place is buzzing that we have a real celebrity sitting right here." Still chuckling in good humor, Bertha left to fill those breakfast orders.
Madeline, for once in so many months, indeed felt happy again. That odd encounter with the celebrated Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker opened both her eyes and heart.
She dare not tell neither Charlie nor Lenore about that meeting with Skywalker;
she felt they wouldn't believe her. However, over the course of breakfast, Maddie
wished she did ask Charlie of his supposed magical powers. Why else would he hand
her a train ticket and two curious medallions. She instantly recognized the phrases
carved on the backs, and she began to have strange vibrations of this so-called
Stranger still were Charlie's instructions on boarding the train – departing Platform 2ABCA at noon. How odd to give a boarding platform that number. It sounded like something Maddie learned in her music theory classes. At least, according to her godfather, dear cousin James Fairburn will be there to greet her, and that pleased her all the more.
Charlie says James has something else for me, an item that once belonged to Marbile Beauchamps, my great-great-grandmother...Oh my goodness! Why do I feel as if this restful vacation will be anything but? Already I can sense...I really can't place it, but whatever it is, I keep getting the sensation there are more surprises ahead.
Copyright©2007 by PRP