THE VISITORS FROM PLANET VETA
Reinhold W. Goll
Illustrated by G. O. James
The Westminster Press, Philadelphia
Copyright © MCMLXI  Reinhold W. Goll
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 61-7692
November 28, 1961
To my grandchildren
Suzanne, Barbara, and Amy
Alan, Sandy, and Stephen
[Transcribed January 11-16, 2020 by Benjamin P Kimball]
Table of Contents
It was the first day of the summer vacation. Suzy and Sandy were playing “explorers.” They marched like soldiers all over the garden. Suzy was the general because she was older. Sandy was the army.
Suzy suddenly shouted: “A mountain! A see a mountain! We have discovered a new mountain!”
“I don’t see any mountain,” said Sandy.
Suzy pointed to the corner of the mountain where the remnants of Daddy’s compost pile formed a little clutter knee-high. “There!” she said.
Sandy asked, “Are you kidding?”
Suzy ignored Sandy’s question. “Come!” she commanded. “We must take possession before someone else discovers it.”
Sandy shrugged his shoulders and marched dutifully with Suzy to the newly discovered mountain.
Suzy placed her foot on the compost pile and said, “I name thee ‘Miracle Mountain,’ and claim thee in the name of Suzy and Sandy!”
When Sandy heard that he was part owner of the mountain, he became much more interested.
Suzy stepped back a few paces and said, “Three cheers for Miracle Mountain!”
Sandy joined her readily in a lusty: “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!”
With the last shout Sandy started for the kitchen door.
“Wait!” Suzy called. “We must stake our claim.”
“What’s that?” Sandy asked.
“We must put a marker on the mountain to show everybody that it belongs to us.”
“What kind of marker?”
Suzy thought a while. “We can plant a tree.”
“Where can we get a tree?” Sandy asked.
“Maybe Daddy can help us,” Suzy replied.
They ran over to Daddy, who was working in his vegetable patch.
“Daddy, we discovered a mountain!” Suzy cried.
“We have to plant a tree so that everybody knows the mountain belongs to us,” said Sandy.
“I see,” said Daddy. “What kind of tree?” he asked.
“Any kind. Just so it grows taller than any tree around here.”
“H’m. That’s a tall order.” Daddy searched among his plans. Then he said, “I don’t seem to have a tree.”
The children were disappointed.
“However,” Daddy added, “I have a tomato plant that you may have”
“We need a tree. One that will grow tall so everyone can see it,” Suzy said.
“Well, this is the best I can do,” Daddy said. “Why not plant it and hope that it grows tall?”
He handed the tomato plant to Sandy. Sandy examined it very carefully. “It looks a little like a tree,” he said hopefully.
Suzy said, “It doesn’t look like a tree to me, but it’ll have to do.”
They took the little plant down to Miracle Mountain and planted it on the very top.
“Grow, little tomato plant,” said Suzy. “Grow big and strong to mark Miracle Mountain, which we have discovered this day.”
“Grow up to be a tree -- The tallest tree in the world,” Sandy urged the plant.
They saluted the tiny tomato plant, then ran to the kitchen door where Mother was waiting for them.
During dinner, Suzy and Sandy told Mother about their discovery of Miracle Mountain and the marker they had planted to stake their claim to the mountain.
Mother was interested, and she hoped the tomato plant would grow up to be a tall tree. However, she added, “If the rabbits don’t eat it tonight.”
Suzy and Sandy jumped right out of their chairs. They hadn’t thought of that.
“Oh!” they both cried in dismay.
“What shall we do?” Suzy asked.
Daddy didn’t know how to keep rabbits away from a tomato plant. Neither did Mother.
Sandy had an idea. “Let’s build a fence around it.”
“Rabbits can jump over a fence or dig under it,” said Daddy.
“I know what to do,” said Suzy. “We’ll tell the rabbits to stay away from it.”
“How do you tell rabbits what to do?” Sandy asked.
“We’ll put a sign on Miracle Mountain,” Suzy replied.
So they got cardboard and crayon, and Suzy printed this sign: Dear Rabbits: Please do not nibble on this plant. It is very important. Thank you for your cooperation. Suzy and Sandy.
Any well-trained rabbit would certainly grant this polite request.
They took the sign down to Miracle Mountain and placed it in front of the tomato plant, right at rabbit eye level. They returned to the house satisfied that the plant would be safe for the night.
How right Suzy and Sandy were, for even as they walked back to the house in the twilight, a dense mist began to cover the garden! If they had gone back to Miracle Mountain later, they would have seen a wondrous sight.
As the light faded out of the sky, the mist in the garden grew thicker and thicker. On Miracle Mountain a soft green light shone down from above. The mist rolled back to clear a big circle around the tomato plant.
The light grew brighter. Then a great shining disk drifted down and hovered right over the tomato plant. It was a spaceship.
A ladder was lowered to the ground from the spaceship. Two children descended from the ladder. Both carried many bags and packages. The ladder was withdrawn.
A figure appeared at a porthole in the spaceship and called to the children on the ground: “Good-by, Teenie! Good-by, Greenie! Have a good time!”
The children on the ground waved and shouted: “Good-by, Mother! We will. Have a pleasant tour!”
The space craft rose up into the sky and was gone.
Just as it disappeared, a little figure, loaded with luggage, came whirling out of the sky and landed with a thud, almost on top of the tomato plant.
It was Beanie. He had decided at the last minute to join Greenie and Teenie in their brief vacation on Earth.
“For pity’s sake, Beanie! Can’t you ever make up your mind in time?” Teenie demanded sharply.
“You almost squashed the tomato plant” Greenie complained.
“I’m sorry,” Beanie said. Then he asked, “Well, aren’t you glad I came?”
“Of course we are,” they said. Teenie added, “We’re always glad to have you with us.”
This satisfied Beanie. He brushed the dirt off his pants and looked around. He saw the sign Suzy has made for the rabbits.
“This is funny,” he said. “Suzy and Sandy think that rabbits can read!”
“Don’t look now,” said Teenie, “but we have company.”
Beanie did look, of course, and there, sitting in a great circle around them, we at least a dozen rabbits.
Beanie was surprised, but not speechless. He addressed the rabbits: “Well! Can you read?”
“Of course,” said an elderly-looking rabbit with long white whiskers.
“Accept my humble apologies,” Beanie said, bowing low to the circle of rabbits.
“Accepted,” the old one said.
Teenie pointed at the sign and spoke to the rabbits, “The question is, Will you cooperate?”
“We will!” was the reply echoed all around the rabbit circle. Then the rabbits vanished into the mist as silently as they had arrived.
Greenie searched through his packages until he found the tiny tube he was looking for. It was filled with a green powder.
“Now to work,” he said briskly. “First a large dose of Great Grow for the tomato plant.” He sprinkled the contents of the tube on the plant and stepped aside.
The plant perked up at once. It began to grow very rapidly. In a minute it became a tree -- a tree with a stout trunk and with strong limbs above the ground.
It very quickly grew taller than Suzy and Sandy’s house, and it kept growing taller and taller.
Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie busied themselves sorting their luggage.
Teenie looked up at the fast-growing tomato tree towering above them. “Don’t you think the tree is tall enough?” she asked Greenie.
“It will be soon,” Greenie replied. “I gave it enough Great Grow to make it the tallest tree in the world.”
Beanie pounded the solid trunk of the tree with his hand and laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Teenie asked.
“You are,” said Beanie. “Imagine asking the rabbits whether they intended to grant Suzy’s and Sandy’s request! You knew nothing would be able to damage this tree.”
“Yes,” agreed Teenie. “But they promised not to even nibble. That’s important.”
Greenie nodded. Then he said: “Let’s get up into the tree. We have work to do. Teenie, build a shelter for the night at the top of the tree. Beanie, build your shelter about halfway to the top. I will build mine in the lower branches.”
The children gathered their packages and prepared to go up into the tree.
“All clear, Teenie,” said Greenie. “Don’t forget to set up the red beacon light. We don’t want any airplanes crashing into the tree.”
“I will,” promised Teenie. “Good night, boys.”
She turned on her glide ray and floated up out of sight. Beanie and Greenie followed in turn to their sections of the tree.
They were happy as they built their shelters in the Tall Tomato Tree. Here they were at last, three visitors from the distant planet Veta, ready for an exciting vacation in a strange world.
They were attractive youngsters. Every article of their clothing was some shade of green. That made them distinctive, but their most unusual feature was their skin. It was green too -- a glowing, light green.
Greenie, the tallest of the visitors from Veta, was the oldest. He stood straight and he looked strong. He had wavy chestnut hair.
Teenie was younger, but she was almost as tall as Greenie. She had fine, beautiful features, and her hair was the color of gold.
Beanie was the youngest and smallest but the most active of the three. He had flaming red hair that resisted combing.
The mist rose and disappeared, and the full moon shone down on the garden. What a difference in Suzy and Sandy’s garden this night. The Tall Tomato Tree swayed majestically where only a tiny plant had been before. Three children from another world slept soundly in its branches.
Dawn came. The sun rose. Suzy awoke and got dressed. Hir first thought was of the little tomato plant. She ran to the window and looked toward Miracle Mountain. There was the Tall Tomato Tree reaching up in the sky.
“Oh! Oh! Oh!” she exclaimed.
She ran into Sandy’s room. Sandy was still asleep.
“Sandy! Sandy!” she shouted. “Look at Miracle Mountain!”
Sandy woke with a start. Suzy dragged him to the window. He saw the Tall Tomato Tree.
“Oh!” he gasped.
“Our little marker is a tree after all!” Suzy exclaimed.
“It must be the tallest tree in the world!” Sandy shouted.
They dashed downstairs and out into the garden. They raced to the great tree on Miracle Mountain and flung their arms around the stout trunk.
“It’s so smooth and so straight!” Suzy cried.
“It’s so tall!”
They shouted with joy and danced around the tree.
A voice above them called down. “What’s all the racket down there?”
“Whoever you are,” Suzy said indignantly, “please get down out of our tree at once!”
“Of course,” the voice replied pleasantly.
Greenie glided down out of the tree and approached them with his hand outstretched. “My name is Greenie,” he said.
Suzy and Sandy were too startled to move.
Greenie shook hands with them. “I’m happy to meet you, Suzy,” he said, “and I’m happy to meet you, Sandy.”
Suzy remembered her manners. “I’m pleased to meet you,” she answered politely. Then she asked, “How do you know our names?”
“We’ve been watching you for some time,” Greenie replied.
“How in the world could you do that?” Suzy exclaimed.
“We weren’t in your world,” said Greenie. “We were in our world. We watched you on our astro-light video set at home.”
“Your world? There’s only one world!” said Suzy firmly.
“And that’s our world,” Sandy added loyally.
Greenie said, “There are thousands of worlds, much like yours and mine.”
“Where’s yours?” Suzy asked.
“Halfway around the Milky Way,” Greenie replied.
Beanie zoomed down from the tree to join them. Greenie introduced him to Suzy and Sandy. Beanie shook hands and said, “Hi folks!”
Then Teenie, a radiant symphony in green, glided down out of the tree.
“This is my sister, Teenie,” Greenie said.
Teenie threw her arms around Suzy. “Oh, Suzy! I’m so happy to meet you!” she cried. “I thought vacation time would never come. We’ll have so much fun together!”
Suzy was awed by this dazzling girl with green skin and golden hair. “You’re very beautiful!” she murmured.
“You’re the beautiful one!” Teenie exclaimed.
“Mush!” Beanie groaned.
“Now that we’ve met,” said Greenie, “let’s go up to my shelter in the tree where we can talk.”
Suzy and Sandy looked up at the Tall Tomato Tree. The lowest branch was far above their heads.
Sandy whistled. “How can we ever get ‘way up there?” he asked.
“You don’t have glide rays like ours,” Greenie said, “but we’ll think of a way to get you and Suzy up into the tree.”
Beanie broke in: “I’m hungry. I can’t think on an empty stomach. Let’s have breakfast and talk later.”
Everyone agreed to this. Suzy and Sandy went back to the house. Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie glided up into the Tall Tomato Tree.
After breakfast, Suzy and Sandy dashed back to the Tall Tomato Tree. Their new friends were waiting for them.
Sandy knew how they could get up into the tre. “A long rope and a pulley will do the trick,” he said.
“Too slow and too much work,” said Beanie quickly.
Suzy had an idea. “Our ladder might reach,” she said.
“We have a better way,” Teenie said. “We’ll ask the Tall Tomato Tree to help. With its long branches and big curly leaves it could whisk us up and down easily.”
Greenie and Beanie nodded in agreement.
Suzy and Sandy didn’t say anything. They didn’t see how you could talk to a tree.
Teenie tapped gently on the trunk of the tree and called softly, “Tall Tomato Tree!”
The tree rustled its leaves gently.
“We have a problem,” Teenie continued.
The tree waited to hear more.
“We wish you could transport us all from the ground up into your branches and down again whenever we ask.” Teenie paused. Then she asked, “Will you do it?”
The branches waved yes.
“Thank you, Tall Tomato Tree,” said Teenie happily. “Please be very sure to never let our friends fall!”
The tree waved its branches in agreement.
“We’ll need a password to be sure that only our friends get up into the tree,” Greenie said.
“How about ‘abracadabra’ or ‘Open sesame!’?” Sandy asked.
Greenie shook his head. “Everybody knows those. We need a password that no one has ever used.”
“Veta!” Teenie exclaimed. “The name of our planet. The people in this world don’t even know Veta exists.”
“Good!” said Greenie. “The password shall be ‘Up to Veta!’”
“Are you listening, Tall Tomato Tree?” Teenie asked.
The branches waved yes.
“I have a good password to get down,” Beanie said eagerly. “‘Down to Earth!’”
“Clever. Very clever,” said Greenie. “So be it.”
“Now for a test,” said Greenie. “Brace yourselves.” Then he said “Up to Veta!”
A branch of the tree swished down immediately and whisked all five children up into the tree.
Suzy and Sandy were alarmed as they flew through the air, but they were happy to find themselves up in the tree.
“How did you like that?” Teenie asked.
“It’s wonderful,” said Suzy, “but I feel dizzy. I think I’m going to fall!”
“You couldn’t fall out of this tree even if you tried,” Greenie assured her.
“May I test the tree to get down to the ground?” Suzy asked.
“Of course,” Teenie said. “The tree will obey you and Sandy as long as you say the correct password.”
“Down to Earth!” said Suzy. The Tall Tomato Tree floated them to the ground.
The test was successful. The Tall Tomato Tree obeyed the magic passwords.
“Come up to my shelter where we can play,” Greenie said.
Beanie invited Sandy to give the magic password.
“Up to Veta!” Sandy shouted. The Tall Tomato Tree obeyed Sandy’s command and swooped them up into the tree.
They stood on the lowest branch of the Tall Tomato Tree.
“We can walk up the steps to my shelter,” said Greenie.
“I don’t see any steps,” said Sandy.
“You will,” said Beanie. “Follow me!”
Beanie pranced merrily along the branch toward the trunk. Sandy followed after him.
Suzy didn’t budge. She was afraid to move.
“Come on, Suzy,” said Teenie. “Don’t be afraid! The top of every branch is flat, and the leaves form a picket fence on both sides. Besides, if you do slip, the tree will catch you and put you right back on the branch.”
Suzy was encouraged. She followed Teenie very gingerly. Greenie brought up the rear of the little troop.
The great trunk of the tree was another surprise for Suzy and Sandy. From the bottom branch a narrow stairway spiraled up around the trunk as far as they could see.
“You can use the stairs to go from branch to branch,” explained Greenie. “However, if you want to go up or down any great distance in the tree,, use the magic password and tell the Tall Tomato Tree exactly where you want to go.”
Suzy and Sandy were happy to learn how easily they would be able to move about in their amazing tree.
“Follow me!” Beanie shouted as he raced up the steps.
Sandy raced after him. The others followed more cautiously in a single file.
“My shelter is on the second branch above,” Greenie told Suzy. “See how the branches form a giant spiral around the trunk.”
“This is fun!” Sandy exclaimed as they climbed the strange stairway.
They reached the branch on which Greenie had built his shelter. Beanie stepped aside to let Greenie take the lead.
Greenie’s shelter was near the end of the branch. Inside there was a bunk, a table, some benches, and shelves. Everything was made of tomato leaves and branches.
Suzy had lost most of her fear of falling, but she was glad to sit down.
Great tomato leaves curled overhead to make a canopy, and some curled up around the sides to form a low wall. The sides were open, so you could see all around. Greenie had arranged his gear and supplies neatly on the shelves.
Sandy leaned over the side of the wall and looked down.
“Look,” he cried, “I can see the roof of our house!”
Suzy looked. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “We must be terribly high.”
“That’s nothing,” said Beanie. “Wait till you get up to my shelter. It’s two hundred feet above the ground.” He turned to Teenie. “How high is your shelter?”
“It’s over four hundred feet,” Teenie said.
“Over four hundred feet?” Suzy echoed. “This must be the tallest tree in the world!”
“Just what I asked for,” said Sandy proudly. “No one else ever put a marker like this on his discovery.”
Suzy turned to Teenie. “How did our little tomato plant become a tall tree, and how did you get here?” she asked.
“Greenie made the tree tall with Great Grow,” Teenie replied, “and we came here in a spaceship.”
“Tell me -- where do you live?” Suzy begged.
Greenie replied: “We live on Veta, a planet very much like yours. It’s the same size and composed of the same elements. Our air is like yours. Your Earth revolves around the sun, which is one of the small stars in the Milky Way. Veta revolves around Regulus, which is another star in the Milky Way. It is many light-years from the Earth, and until our scientists discovered how to control time, it was impossible to travel from one constellation to another.”
Teenie continued. “We have been watching you for some time on our astro-light video set. We liked you very much and thought it would be fun to spend part of our vacation with you.”
“We’ll be happy to have you play with us,” said Suzy.
“You bet,” said Sandy.
Beanie was getting restless. He craved action. “Come on, Sandy,” he said. “Let’s go up to my shelter.”
Sandy responded quickly to this invitation.
“Be careful, Sandy!” Suzy warned.
“Sure, sure,” Sandy replied as he dashed pell-mell out of the shelter with Beanie.
The boys ran along the branch to the steps around the trunk of the tree.
Beanie stopped. “We don’t have to climb steps!” he exclaimed. “Let’s use the magic password.”
Sandy’s eyes brightened. This was going to be real fun.
Both boys shouted, “Up to Veta! -- Beanie’s shelter.”
A branch of the tree swooped down, tumbled them in its leaves and tossed them up and landed them on their heads at the entrance to Beanie’s shelter.
“Please, Mr. Tree, a little more gently next time,” said Beanie rubbing his head.
Sandy got to his feet. “That was great!” he said.
Beanie said, “Well, it was fast.” Then he bowed low and waved Sandy into his quarters. “Welcome to my palace,” he said.
Sandy entered. Beanie’s shelter was much like Greenie’s. However, it was smaller and not nearly so tidy. Some of the bags were still unpacked, and a jacket and pants were thrown across the chair. Breakfast dishes were still on the table.
“I like this,” Sandy said. “It’s just like my room.”
“What game do you like best?” Beanie asked.
“Baseball,” said Sandy without hesitation.
“So do I,” said Beanie. He reached into one of the bags on the floor and brought out a brand-new ball. “Come outside, and let’s play catch.”
While Suzy and Beanie were playing catch high up in the tree, Suzy, Teenie, and Greenie were exchanging information.
Suzy learned that her new friends’ father was an important scientist on Veta. He was on a scientific expedition probing the mysteries of the universe in some far-off constellation.
This gave their mother an opportunity to join the Ladies’ Aid Society on a summer tour of the Milky Way. This in turn gave Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie a chance to spend some time on Earth with Suzy and Sandy.
“For which I am very, very happy,” said Suzy. “How long do you expect to stay here?” she asked.
“Our spaceship will circle back and pick us up in a week,” Teenie said.
“So soon?” Suzy exclaimed.
“Yes,” Greenie said. “We’ll have to plan very carefully so that we can see and do as much as possible in the short time we’ll have together.”
As the children talked, a dog began to bark. At first they paid no attention to it, but the barking became so loud and so persistent that they stopped to listen.
“Oh, my goodness!” Suzy cried. “That’s Tom, our dog. I forgot about him completely!”
“I wondered when you would remember Tom,” Teenie said.
“Then you know we have a dog?”
“Yes, and we’ve seen your cat.”
“Why, you know everything!”
Teenie smiled. “Not quite,” she said.
Tom was still barking. He was scratching at the smooth, hard trunk with his front paws, trying to climb up to Suzy.
To make things worse, Mitty, the cat, was down there too, trying to climb the tree. Mitty was baffled. She could climb any tree with ease, but not this one. There was no soft bark on this tree for her. She couldn’t sink her sharp claws into the rock-hard trunk. She sat at the foot of the tree and began to yowl.
“This will never do,” said Suzy. “Those two will wake up the whole neighborhood! I’ll have to go down and talk to them.”
“We’ll ask the Tree to bring them up,” Teenie said impulsively.
Suzy didn’t need a second invitation. Forgetting her fear of falling, she ran out on Greenie’s branch and cried, “Down to Earth!”
The dog and cat were so surprised at Suzy’s sudden appearance that they sat there in silence, staring at her.
“Come on, you noisy rascals,” Suzy commanded. “Get on this tomato leaf with me.”
They obeyed meekly.
“Up to Veta! -- Greenie’s shelter!” Suzy requested, and up they went in giant swings.
Tom was frightened and whimpered. Mitty hid her feelings as usual by industriously licking her paws.
Suzy led Tom and Mitty into Greenie’s shelter and made the proper introductions all around.
Tom took a fancy to Greenie and put his head on Greenie’s knees to be patted.
Mitty made herself at home on Teenie’s lap.
Greenie raised his voice a little and said: “Now hear this, Tall Tomato Tree! We have two more friends who crave your courtesy: A good dog named Tom, and a beautiful cat named Mitty.”
Then he addressed Tom, “Can you speak?”
“Rhowhr,” barked Tom loudly.
“Good,” said Greenie. “When Tom wants to come up into the tree, his password will be three barks -- one long and two short. Try it, Tom.”
Tom barked, “Rhowhr, rhow, rhow.”
“Perfect,” Teenie beamed.
“But what’s his password to get down?” Suzy asked.
“Let’s make it easy for Tom. If he wants to go up, he will point his tail up when he barks; if he wants to go down, he will point his tail down. Understand?”
“Rhowhr,” Tom replied.
“Mitty, what can you do?” Teenie asked.
Mitty said, “Meow,” coolly.
“Well, you use the same password and the same tail signals as Tom, one long meow, followed by two short meows.”
Suzy said, “I think we ought to try these passwords to make sure Tom, Mitty, and the Tall Tomato Tree understand.”
Tom pointed his tail down and barked, “Rhowhr, rhow, rhow.”
The branch sagged a few feet.
“Good,” said Greenie. “Now the signal for up.”
Tom pointed his tail up and barked, “Rhowhr, rhow, rhow,” and he went back into place.
Tom was quite pleased with himself and raced around the room several times.
Mitty looked at him as if to say, “Silly!”
Suzy said, “I’m sure Mitty understands too.”
Mitty sat up on her haunches, arched her pretty neck, and closed and opened her eyes, which meant, “Of course!”
“I wonder what Beanie and Sandy are doing,” Greenie said and stepped outside his door.
He found out quickly. A rubber ball came hurtling down from above and bounced off his head. Before Greenie could protest, a figure came crashing down after the ball. It was Sandy. But Sandy wasn’t thinking about the ball. His eyes were bulging and his mouth was wide open, but no sound came out. His arms and legs were outstretched, and he was rotating slowly as he passed Greenie. He was frightened.
“Oh, Tree!” Greenie shouted in alarm. But it wasn’t really necessary. Before he got the words out Sandy was swaying gently on a leaf on the bottom branch.
“I’m glad you didn’t forget, Tree,” said Greenie. “Next time please catch him a little higher!”
The Tall Tomato Tree groaned, which could have meant anything.
Suzy came out of the shelter and saw Sandy lying on the leaf below.
“What are you doing down there?” she asked in surprise.
“Playing ball,” Sandy answered. He got to his feet. Sure enough, he had the ball clutched in his hand.
“Well, come up here right away!” Suzy said. “We’re going up to Teenie’s shelter at the top of the tree.”
Sandy gave the magic password to get back to Greenie’s shelter.
Beanie drifted down to the group on his glide ray.
The whole group stood together again outside Greenie’s shelter, ready to go up to Teenie’s shelter at the very top of the Tall Tomato Tree.
“Everybody ready?” Greenie asked.
They all nodded.
“Up to Veta! -- Teenie’s shelter,” Greenie said.
The Tall Tomato Tree carried them up, swiftly and silently. It was exhilarating!
Tom was so happy he couldn’t resist barking. He barked, “Rhowhr, rhow, rhow!”
In a flash a branch of the tree whisked him away from the others and dropped him down as fast as he had been going up.
“Oh!” Suzy exclaimed.
“Don’t worry,” Teenie said. “Tom simply forgot about the magic password, and had his tail pointed down when he barked. He’ll know what to do.”
Sure enough. Far below they heard Tom bark again, “Rhowhr, rhow, rhow!”
Shortly after they had landed on the platform around Teenie’s shelter, Tom was with them again.
What a view from the top of the Tall Tomato Tree! You could see the whole world, it seemed.
There was the city, and the river, and the bay. All around were little towns and a beautiful checkerboard of farms. It was a breath-taking sight.
“How beautiful!” Suzy exclaimed.
“Yeah, pretty neat,” Sandy agreed.
“You ought to see how your world looks from space,” Teenie said. “It’s almost as beautiful as Veta.”
“Oh, I wish I could see it!” Suzy said.
“You will someday,” Teenie promised.
Teenie’s shelter was round in shape, and the very top of the trunk of the Tall Tomato Tree extended up through the middle.
The roof was dome-shaped. A small veranda extended all the way around the shelter.
“Some inside,” said Teenie.
The children accepted Teenie’s invitation. Tom stretched out in the sun on the veranda. Mitty leaped to the eaves of the roof and curled up for a cat nap.
“What a neat little room!” Suzy complimented Teenie.
“Oh, it’s nothing, really!” said Teenie.
“Nothing, she says!” Beanie exclaimed. “She spent half the night fixing it up.”
Teenie ignored Beanie’s remark.
“My room and the boys’ shelters are only temporary quarters -- sort of lookout stations,” Teenie explained. “Tonight we are going to build a summer house big enough for all of us.”
“I’ll help you!” Sandy offered.
“So will I!” said Suzy quickly.
“Thanks,” Greenie said. “However, with our special tools we will get the house built in a jiffy.”
There was a faint whistle from below.
The dog jumped to his feet and leaped off the platform. He found himself plummeting to the ground. He suddenly remembered to give the password, “Rhowhr, rhow, rhow.” The Tall Tomato Tree caught him on a branch and lowered him to the ground.
The children went outside in time to see Mitty literally flying through the air after Tom.
“That can mean only one thing,” said Suzy. “Tom and Mitty would never leave us unless Daddy whistled or Mother called. I guess we had better go down, too.”
“We’ll be back as soon as we eat lunch,” Sandy promised.
“Good,” Greenie said. “Come right up to the top. I have something special to show you.”
Suzy and Sandy got ready to give the magic password to go down to the ground.
Suzy looked down. The ground looked far, far away. “My, it’s high up here!” she said.
“Oh, come on,” said Sandy impatiently. “Quit stalling.”
“No need to rush,” rejoined Suzy. Then she closed her eyes and calmly said, “Down to Earth!”
Sandy repeated the magic password and they were wafted speedily to the ground.
Suzy and Sandy ate lunch hastily. As soon as they finished, they flew out the kitchen door together, with Tom and Mitty at their heels. They ran under the Tomato Tree and shouted the magic password. The Tall Tomato Tree sped them up to Teenie’s shelter like an express elevator.
Their wonderful new friends were waiting for them on the veranda.
“Now,” said Sandy to Greenie, “what’s the something special you were going to show us?”
“I knew you wouldn’t forget,” said Greenie. “Here it is. Watch!”
Then he said, “A toboggan slide to the ground, if you please, Tall Tomato Tree!”
There was a great rustle of leaves and the tree formed a huge circular slide of branches and leaves, beginning at Teenie’s platform and curving down around and around the tree like a great corkscrew.
“This must be the biggest toboggan slide in the world!” Sandy exclaimed.
“You’re right!” said Teenie. “Now, who would like to be the first to go down?”
“Not I,” said Suzy, stepping back.
“How about you, Sandy?” Beanie asked.
“Let Tom go first,” Sandy said.
He put Tom on the slide. Tom plunged down and spiraled out of sight.
He could hear him yelping in pain.
“I wonder what’s the matter with Tom?” Sandy asked.
“We forgot to give him a pad to sit on,” said Beanie. “I’m afraid he had a mighty hot slide!”
That was it. Tom was up at the top again in a few moments, looking very distressed, the fur on his haunches still smoking.
Teenie patted Tom’s head. “We’re sorry, Tom. We forgot to give you a sliding pad.”
Tom wagged his tail in forgiveness.
“Well, who’s next?” asked Beanie.
“I have an idea,” said Teenie. “Let’s all go down together like a bobsled team.”
They approved of this idea. Lining up behind the other, each sat on a pad, with arms wrapped around the waist of the one in front. Teenie was first, then Beanie, Greenie, Sandy, Suzy, Tom, and Mitty.”
“When I count three, everyone let go,” said Greeniie. “One, two, three!”
Down they went, circling the trunk off the tree, faster and faster, laughing and screaming the whole way down.
They barely reached the ground before Sandy shouted, “Let’s do it again!”
“Yes, yes,” Suzy agreed.
They shouted the magic password to get up to the top of the tree again.
They went up and down, again and again, until all were tired. Then they stretched out on the ground to rest.
“I’m thirsty,” Sandy said.
“So am I,” said Beanie.
Sandy volunteered to get a pitched of cool water from the kitchen.
He returned shortly with the water and paper cups for all. Before Sandy could pour the water, Greenie said, “Do you like orangeade?”
“Sure,” said Sandy.
Greenie took a tiny orange pill from a little box and dropped it in the pitcher of water and swirled it around for a moment.
The water changed to a golden, frothy liquid.
“Now pour,” said Greenie.
Sandy filled all the cups. They drank the golden liquid.
“It’s real orangeade!” Suzy exclaimed.
“It’s delicious,” Sandy enthused.
Teenie explained, “Whenever we travel we carry all our food in concentrated form. I have enough food pills in my handbag to feed all of us for a month.”
“We have food concentrates too,” said Suzy, “but nothing like this.”
Suzy counted heads. Including Tom and Mitty, there were seven of them. “We ought to form a club,” she said.
Everyone liked this idea.
“What shall we call the club?” Teenie asked.
Many names were suggested. They finally selected “The Green Rangers.”
“We’re green enough,” said Teenie with a smile.
“And we intend to range far and wide,” said Beanie.
“A most appropriate name for the group,” Greenie agreed.
It was getting late. Suzy and Sandy were hungry and tired. This had been the most exciting day of their lives.
They said good night to their new friends and promised to be back in the Tall Tomato Tree bright and early on the morrow.
Up in the Tall Tomato Tree, Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie started to build their summer house.
Greenie had the plans ready. The house would be high above the ground. It would not be seen from above or below or from the houses nearby. It would be built around the trunk of the tree, and would have an inner and an outer veranda.
From the inner veranda the children would be able to reach the stairway around the trunk. From the outer veranda they would be able to look out of the tree in all directions.
They finished the house just as the clock in the church steeple struck twelve midnight.
The next morning at home Suzy and Sandy hustled through their chores. They were anxious to see the new summer house in the Tall Tomato Tree.
They decided to take housewarming gifts to their friends. Sandy selected the large conch shell that their Father had brought them from Florida.
Suzy decided to give her prized music box.
They wrapped their gifts up carefully and selected some of their favorite games for their new friends.
Then they went down to the Tall Tomato Tree on Miracle Mountain. Tom and Mitty were waiting for them under the tree.
They gave the magic password, “Up to Veta! -- the new summer house.” The Tall Tomato Tree hoisted them up to the veranda of the summer house.
Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie greeted them happily.
Suzy handed her housewarming gift to Teenie. “I hope you will have a very happy vacation in your summer house,” she said.
“How thoughtful of you!” Teenie exclaimed, “Thank you.”
Sandy placed the boxes of games on the table, then pushed his housewarming gift into Beanie’s hands. “For your new house!” he exclaimed.
“Thanks,” said Beanie. He started to tear the wrapping.
“Wait!” said Greenie. “Let’s show our guests our home first.”
As they toured the rooms, Suzy exclaimed: “This is adorable! Oh, how beautiful!” again and again.
“Yeah, this is O.K.” Sandy agreed.
When they got back to the living room, Beanie didn’t lose any time opening Sandy’s gift. He ripped off the ribbon and tore off the wrapping paper. He opened the box and pulled out the big beautiful conch shell.
“Say, this is neat!” Beanie exclaimed. “Thank you very much.”
Sandy explained its merits. “You can put it on your mantel as an ornament, or use it as a paperweight on your desk, or you can use it as a doorstop. If you hold it close to your ear, you can hear the sound of the sea.”
The Veta children took turns examining the shell and listening to the sound of the sea.
Teenie opened Suzy’s gift very carefully. She lifted out the music box. Suzy pressed a lever, and the music box began to play a tune.
“This is adorable!” Teenie exclaimed. “Thank you so much!” She kissed Suzy.
Beanie and Sandy snickered and rolled their eyes.
“We don’t have any time to waste,” said Greenie. “We must plan everything carefully.”
“Yes,” Teenie agreed. “But not right now, please! Suzy and I have things to talk about. You boys go up to my shelter. We’ll join you shortly for a meeting.”
This suited the boys, especially Beanie and Sandy who were anxious to be on the move.
“Don’t be long!” Greenie cautioned the girls. “Planning takes time, you know.”
Greenie went straight up to Teenie’s room, but Beanie and Sandy gave the Tall Tomato Tree a good workout.
They shouted, “Up to Veta! -- Teenie’s shelter.” When halfway up, they shouted, “Down to Earth!”
When they got near the ground they shouted, “Up to Veta! -- too the top!” They did this several times -- one time too many.
The next time they shouted, “Up to Veta! -- to the top!” the Tall Tomato Tree flipped them on their heads and swung them up so fast they couldn’t open their mouths. They landed flat on their backs on the platform at Greenie’s feet.
Greenie grinned at them and said: “That’s an interesting game, boys. What do you call it?”
Beanie was never at a loss for words. “Why, that’s the Tomato Tree flip!”
Lying on his back on the veranda, Sandy saw the large red globe at the top of the Tall Tomato Tree. He sat up quickly and pointed to the globe.
“Look!” he cried. “A big tomato!”
“Don’t try to eat it,” Beanie said. “That’s the beacon light.”
“Oh!” said Sandy, disappointed. Then he asked, “Where are the tomatoes?”
“There aren’t any on the tree now,” Greenie replied, “but you won’t have to wait long. They will be the biggest tomatoes you ever saw.”
Suzy and Teenie soon came up to Teenie’s room with Tom and Mitty as promised.
The Green Rangers were assembled to make plans for the precious days ahead. Greenie acted as chairman of the meeting. Teenie offered to serve as secretary.
They decided to make a list of all the things each one would like to do in the time they had. They soon had a long list.
Greenie looked at the list. “It would take a month to do all these things!” he said. “We’ll have to cut it down.”
Teenie had a suggestion. “First of all,” she said, “we want to spend some time every day playing in the Tall Tomato Tree. We can do that and one other special thing each day until the spaceship returns.”
“That makes it easy,” said Greenie. “All we have to do is choose the things we all like the best.”
The Green Rangers soon boiled the list down to five specials. Teenie wrote them on a slip of paper and posted it on the door.
“There’s the list,” she said. “Now, what shall we do this afternoon?”
Beanie spoke quickly, “I move we go to the seashore.”
“I second the motion,” Sandy shouted.
The motion was carried unanimously, but Suzy had a question. “How are we going to get there?” she asked.
“We’ll show you,” Greenie promised.
“You will, really?” Suzy asked, perplexed. She wondered how they could possibly get to the seashore and back in one afternoon.
“Of course,” Teenie replied. “The boys will have a little aircraft ready for us by the time you come back from lunch.”
“We’ll bring the food,” Sandy said.
“That’s a bargain,” said Beanie. “Bring plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers.”
“We will,” Sandy vowed. “We’ll bring everything we need for a good time on the beach.”
Beanie stood up and stretched. “Who wants to go for a toboggan slide?” he asked.
They all did, including Tom and Mitty. Tom was so eager he almost leaped into space before Greenie asked the Tall Tomato Tree to form the great toboggan slide. Sandy managed to grab Tom’s tail and held on until the slide was ready.
Poor Tom! When Sandy let go of his tail, he lost his balance and tumbled down the slide headfirst. He bounced and rolled down out of sight in a jumbled ball, letting out an occasional yipe.
Greenie said, “Let that be a lesson for all of us. Look before you leap!”
Tom was back at the top in an instant, somewhat crestfallen but still wagging his tail.The fur on his haunches was not singed this time.
While the others were consoling Tom, Sandy shouted, “The last one down has to wash the dishes this afternoon!” and dashed for the slide. Unfortunately, he tripped over his own feet and fell flat on his face. The others were standing under the tree waiting for him when he finally slid to the ground.
Teenie teased him, “The first shall be last.”
Suzy added, “And the last shall wash the dishes.”
Sandy had no retort.
Suzy and Sandy returned to the summer house in the Tall Tomato Tree, laden with bags and packages. They were surprised and excited when they saw the airship that Greenie and Beanie had built.
It nestled against the veranda and was made entirely of tomato branches and leaves. It looked like a big green ball flattened on the bottom. Inside the cabin was a large round table. There were five comfortable chairs and a shelf that ran around the wall.
The chair opposite the door was the pilot’s seat. The control panel was on the shelf in front of this seat. There was plenty of open window space between the sturdy branches that formed the sides of the unusual craft.
Greenie sprayed the outside of the craft with a green liquid that hardened to form a smooth metallic surface.
“All set to load!” he called.
The boys quickly stowed all the gear and packages under the table and on the shelf.
“Where’s the motor?” Sandy asked. There was none in sight.
Beanie put his finger on a little white tab in the center of the table. “This is the gravity neutralizer,” he said. “Directly under it is the cosmic-ray motor, which is connected to tubes around the outside of our airship.”
Sandy nodded gravely as if he understood.
Tom and Mitty sat on the veranda and watched all the preparations patiently. They wanted to help but couldn’t see any way to make themselves useful.
When Suzy said, “Well, Tom and Mitty, are you ready?” they leaped quickly into the craft.
“Aren’t we going to christen this ship?” Sandy asked.
“Of course,” said Greenie. “Suzy is to have the honor of launching and naming the ship.”
Sandy said, “You need a bottle of champagne to christen a ship.”
“Not this ship,” said Suzy. She selected a bottle from her handbag. It was her best perfume. Everything was packed. Everybody was ready.
Suzy walked forward, took the stopper out of the bottle and sprinkled her perfume over the curved side of the ship. “I christen thee Bon Voyage,” she said solemnly.
The others cheered as the Bon Voyage rocked gently, and as Suzy jumped into the cabin with the others, began to rise slowly.
“Using your best perfume was very generous,” Teenie said.
“Oh, yes, indeed!” said Beanie and Sandy, holding their noses and making wry faces.
The Bon Voyage gently nuzzled its way out of the branches of the tree and drifted silently higher and higher.
Sandy’s eardrums began to crackle. “Ouch,” he cried, holding his ears.
“Swallow,” said Greenie, “It will equalize the pressure in your ears.”
“Swallow what?” Sandy asked.
“Anything,” said Suzy. She handed him a stick of gum. “Here, chew on this.”
Sandy seized the gum and chewed furiously. Sure enough, the crackling in his ears stopped after he had swallowed several times.
Everyone looked over the side of the Bon Voyage to see the view below them.
Soon the strange aircraft reached cruising height. Greenie turned a dial, and the Bon Voyage picked up speed rapidly. The wind blew through the cabin like a gale until Greenie threw an invisible force curtain across the windows.
The Bon Voyage traveled eastward at great speed. The ocean came into view. It was a beautiful sight. The Green Rangers could see the breakers on the beach, the town, and the boardwalk.
Greenie guided the Bon Voyage across the bay and down to the sand dunes behind the beach. He landed the little ship on a patch of white sand surrounded by bayberry and beach plum bushes.
“This is perfect!” Suzy exclaimed as they jumped out of the ship.
They followed Greenie as he traced a zigzag path through the bushes to the top of the dune.
They stood for a moment and looked at the beautiful ocean. The waves were breaking gently on the sand, and sea gulls drifted lazily over the foaming surf.
A short distance away an old man was fishing in the surf. He was the only person nearby.
“What are we waiting for?” Sandy cried. “The last one in the water has to inflate the rafts!”
They dashed pell-mell to the Bon Voyage for their bathing suits. Sandy took a short cut through the bushes and ran smack into a blackberry bush.
By the time he got out of the thorny bush the others had rushed past him in their bathing suits.
“So long, slowpoke!” Beanie cried, as he passed Sandy. “Don’t forget the rafts!”
They plunged into the waves and came up laughing and shouting. They dived and swam and splashed water at one another.
Sandy finally appeared, dragging the rafts behind him.
“Come on, Beanie. Let’s help Sandy,” said Greenie.
With their help, Sandy soon had the rafts inflated and launched in the surf.
They played on the rafts. It was great fun climbing on the rafts and diving off into the foaming water.
Tom had as much fun dashing in and out of the water as the children did. Mitty hated to get her fur wet, so she found a clump of grass on the dune and curled up for a nap.
Sandy said, “Let me show you what I can do with a raft.”
He pushed the raft out towards the breakers. Then he climbed on it and lay flat, with his head toward the waves and his arms like paddles over the sides after each wave buffeted him, Sandy paddled furiously and moved a few feet further out until the next wave rolled over him.
Just beyond the breakers, Sandy turned the raft around and aimed toward the shore. Then he waited for a big wave. As it came Sandy paddled fast to catch the rhythm. He was lucky the very first time. Up went the rear of the raft, the front stayed down, and Sandy sped forward just ahead of the crest of the wave. He zoomed past the others in the surf and was washed up on the beach.
The Green Rangers applauded this feat. They all wanted to ride the waves on the rafts. There were many attempts and many successes, and a lot of shouting and screaming and barking, and getting pitched off the raft.
The old man down the beach heard the shouting. It was good to see children have so much fun. Some of the children seemed to have green skin.
Must be using a newfangled sun lotion, he thought.
The Green Rangers were tired. They lounged on the beach. The boys put up the beach umbrella and the chairs and spread blankets on the ground.
Sandy tuned in some music on the radio.
Teenie helped Suzy to apply another coat of suntan lotion. Suzy’s skin never really tanned. It just turned redder and redder in the sun. She had learned to respect the sun’s rays.
Sandy tanned readily, and the Veta children just turned a little greener in the sun. They stretched out on the blankets and gave Suzy the shade of the umbrella.
Tom stretched out in the shade beside Suzy. Mitty was still asleep on the side of the dune.
The children talked or dozed as the music played.
“I’m thirsty,” said Sandy.
“So am I,” Suzy said. “Please get the water jug.”
Sandy ran back to the Bon Voyage willingly and returned quickly with the jug.
He held a paper cup under the spigot and turned it on. No water came out.
Sandy turned the spigot on and off several times, but still no water came out.
Suzy stood by, tapping her foot impatiently in the sand.
Sandy handed the empty cup to Beanie, and unscrewed the cap of the jug.
He peered in, and his face fell.
“Well?” Suzy asked.
“It’s empty,” said Sandy glumly. “I forgot to fill it.”
“Don’t worry about it,” said Beanie.
He took the jug from Sandy and ran to the edge of the surf. He filled the jug with sea water.
As he returned to the group, he slipped a green pill into the jug, unnoticed by Suzy and Sandy. Then he set the jug before Sandy.
Sandy said, “You can’t drink sea water. It’s too salty. It makes you very sick.”
Beanie motioned Sandy to be quiet. “Concentrate!” he said.
He waved his hands over the open jug and chanted:
“Water in the universe,
Water in the jetstream,
Water in the ocean blue --”
He paused, clapped his hands sharply, and finished,
“Pure and cold in this jug too!”
The water in the jug churned and foamed. A dense vapor rose out of the jug.
Sandy watched this performance in awe.
The water in the jug was clear as crystal. Beanie drew a cupful and handed it to Sandy. “Try this,” he said.
Sandy sipped the water hesitatingly. Then he drank the whole cupful eagerly.
“It’s fresh and cold!” he exclaimed, beaming. “I’ll have to learn that magic.”
“Before you try it, make sure Beanie drops a water freshener and refrigerant pill in the jug first,” Greenie said.
“So that’s the magic!” said Sandy sheepishly. “I should have known.”
Everyone enjoyed the cool fresh water.
When they were rested, Beanie said, “Let’s take another dip.”
Sandy started to say, “The last one in --” but before he got any further, everyone else was in the water, so he swallowed his last words and plunged in after them.
Playing in the water made everybody hungry. They rushed back to the Bon Voyage for the brazier and the food.
“Let’s make a bonfire to roast the hot dogs,” Sandy said. “It makes them taste so much better.”
“Ugh!” Suzy rejoined. “Hot dogs roasted in a bonfire get full of sand. They’re always burned on the outside and raw in the middle, unless they drop into the fire first.”
That didn’t sound very appetizing to Teenie. She suggested they use the charcoal brazier.
The Green Rangers had fun roasting the hot dogs and hamburgers. Every bit of food was gone in a remarkably short time.
“Let’s not waste any time,” Suzy said. “I’m sure you’d like to see the boardwalk.”
“We’re counting on it, Suzy,” Teenie replied. “Come on, boys, let’s clean up now!”
The Green Rangers cleaned up quickly after they ate. They didn’t want to lose any time getting to the boardwalk. Sandy, of course, washed the dishes, but the girls helped him.
They stacked the rubbish in a tight pile and burned it. Greenie tended the fire while Beanie and Sandy loaded the equipment back in the Bon Voyage.
Then they dressed and trudged up the beach to the boardwalk.
“I like this,” said Beanie, strutting along the boards. “It’s bouncy!”
No one paid any attention to Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie. You see all kinds of people on the boardwalk.
The Green Rangers were satisfied to just look at all the interesting things until they came to a shooting gallery. Sandy couldn’t pass it without testing his marksmanship.
The attendant handed Sandy a gun and said, “Step up on the bench, sonny, so you can see all the targets.”
It irked Sandy to be treated like a child, but he stepped up on the bench and studied the targets.
There was a big revolving wheel with clay pipes fastened to the end of the spokes.
Behind that was a moving row of wooden ducks. In front of the wheel there was a little golden ball that danced up and down on top of a tiny fountain.
“Six ducks, or six pipes in six shots, and you get the gift of your choice,” the man called out.
The side walls of the shooting gallery were lined with prizes: dolls, koala bears, baseballs, gloves, and other attractive gifts.
“If you hit the bouncing golden ball, you get the gift of your choice, and six more shots,” the barker continued. “Step up, ladies and gentlemen, even a child can win!”
Sandy decided to shoot the ducks. That looked easiest. He took careful aim and pulled the trigger.
He missed. He fired again and missed again. The third shot knocked the duck down. His friends cheered. Sandy missed on the fourth and fifth shots, but got another duck on the last shot.
“Two out of six!” Suzy exclaimed. “That’s good, Sandy!”
“Good?” Beanie laughed. “I could do better than that with my eyes shut!” he boasted.
“Awright, sonny!” said the barker to Beanie. “Step right up and try your luck! No charge if you knock down six ducks in six shots!”
He offered a gun to Beanie.
“I don’t need a gun,” Beanie said. “Watch this!”
Beanie took a good look at the row of moving ducks. He held up his hand with the palm toward the ducks.
Then he closed his eyes and one, two, three, four, five, six ducks in succession bounced off the track! The golden ball on the fountain disappeared too.
The barker’s eyes popped and his jaw dropped. “How-how-what---?” he stuttered.
Teenie said: “Just my little brother showing off, sir. Please excuse him!”
She took Beanie by the sleeve and pulled him away from the counter. “He used his micro-ray projector.” she explained to Suzy and Sandy as they left the booth.
The barker was too surprised to say anything. However, he was glad to see them go. With that kind of shooting he would soon be out of business.
The Green Rangers came to another game where Teenie urged Suzy to try her skill. There were six milk bottles piled in a pyramid on a pedestal. The object of the game was to knock the bottles off the pedestal with a baseball. The man gave Suzy three balls.
Suzy threw a ball at the bottles. She knocked off the top bottle. She threw the second ball. It hit right in the middle of the stack. All the bottles except on flew off the pedestal. That one toppled over on its side. It made a very small target.
Suzy threw the third ball. This one hit the end of the bottle and spun it around and around. Then the bottle stopped spinning and began to roll slowly toward the edge of the pedestal. It rolled to the very edge and teetered there. Sandy sneezed. Down crashed the bottle and Suzy got a prize.
She selected a fielder’s glove, which she promptly gave to Beanie.
“Oh, boy! Oh, boy!” said Beanie. “Thank you. Now I can catch any ball.”
The Green Rangers saw a number of other interesting games. However, Greenie reminded them that the sun was setting fast.
They returned to the Bon Voyage. Tom and Mitty were glad to see them. Tom was getting lonesome, and Mitty was annoyed by the huge hawks that swooped down at them now and again.
Not that Mitty was afraid, you understand. She stood her ground ready to pounce on them every time they swooped, but even Mitty could see that a hawk was much bigger than a sparrow.
The Green Rangers boarded the Bon Voyage. Greenie pressed the gravity-neutralizer button, and the aircraft floated up into the sky. He turned the speed dial. The ship sped westward toward home.
The sun seemed to sit on the horizon like a big orange as the Bon Voyage glided out of the sky and into the Tall Tomato Tree.
Before parting, the Green Rangers decided that tomorrow they would go to the movie matinee.
The Green Rangers slept late the next morning. They were as fresh as daisies when they met again in the summer house in the Tall Tomato Tree.
They went up to Teenie’s shelter to look at the magnificent view below. Suzy and Sandy pointed out the familiar landmarks. They could see Playland in the distance. It was easy to identify the Ferris wheel and the carousel.
“I love to ride on the carousel,” said Suzy.
“I do too,” Sandy echoed. “Let’s go to Playland and take a few rides!”
“That won’t be necessary,” said Teenie. “We’ll make a carousel right here at the top of the Tall Tomato Tree.”
“A carousel up her would be the highest one in the world!” Suzy exclaimed.
“It certainly would,” Teenie beamed. She turned to Greenie and Beanie. “Get busy, boys. Make my room into the highest carousel in the world!”
This suited Greenie and Beanie. They glided down to the summer house for tools. In a short time they returned with tools and great armfuls of tomato branches and leaves.
First they made the platform larger. Then they placed five piles of leaves and branches around the edge of the platform.
“Now,” asked Greenie, “What animal would you like to ride.”
Suzy wanted to ride a lion. Teenie chose a tiger. Sandy selected a rhinoceros, Greenie a horse, and Beanie a giraffe.
The boys set to work at once molding the various steeds. Suzy and Sandy were fascinated by the ease and speed with which Greenie and Beanie worked.
While the boys created the animals for the carousel, Teenie directed a reverse sound beam at the merry-go-round in Playland and tuned in the music with her radio receiver.
Greenie fastened a force-ray tube to the trunk of the tree to provide the power to turn the carousel.
“All aboard!” cried Greenie. They jumped on their mounts. Greenie released the force ray, and the highest merry-go-round in the world began to spin around at the top of the Tall Tomato Tree. The children cheered.
The first movement of the carousel woke Mitty from her nap in the eaves. She leaped to the red globe at the top of the tree and crouched there as the carousel turned underneath her. She soon settled down to watch the world revolve around her.
Tom liked the movement and excitement. Wagging his tail, he ran all over the carousel, visiting each one of the youngsters in turn. He even tried to jump on the rhinoceros behind Sandy, but slid off.
Sandy had another idea. “Can you make my rhinoceros go up and down like a real merry-go-round?” he asked.
Greenie stopped the carousel at once. He made some adjustments under the platform. When he started the carousel again, all the animals went up and down as they went round and round.
Beanie remembered something. “We forgot the rings!” he shouted. “I want to catch the brass ring!”
The others cheered this idea. Greenie stopped the carousel again. With Beanie’s help he set up a post with a projecting arm for the rings. Teenie fashioned little rings out of tomato leaves. She gilded one to make it look like a brass ring.
The carousel was soon in operation again. Everyone had fun catching rings as they zoomed past the post. They enjoyed throwing the rings into the basket Greenie placed near the post. Then they took turns feeding the rings from the basket back into the projecting arm.
Beanie was lucky. He hooked the brass ring several times.
Sandy didn’t catch it once. This prompted him to shout, “The next one who catches the brass ring had to feed the rings into the arm all morning!”
On his very next sweep past the ring post, Sandy hooked another ring. It was stuck tight. Sandy held on to the ring and was yanked off the rhinoceros. At the same time the ring came loose. Sandy flew out into space.
This time the Tall Tomato Tree acted promptly. It caught him on a big leaf and tossed him back on the roof of the carousel. He sat with his feet dangling over the eaves. He looked in disbelief at the ring still clutched in his hand. It was the brass ring.
Sandy shook his head. “Can you beat it!” he exclaimed. He climbed down from the roof and took his station on the tiny platform attached to the ring post to feed the rings into the projecting arm.
Suzy and Teenie felt sorry for him. They relieved him frequently so he could ride his rhinoceros.
The Green Rangers enjoyed the carousel until lunchtime.
After lunch they went to the movie theater. They arrived in time to see the tail of a long line of lively children snake past the ticket taker into the lobby.
Inside it seemed that all the children were buying something to eat or drink. Most popular was the popcorn counter. Every youngster had a horn or popcorn among his supplies for the long show.
“I like this,” said Beanie.
“Come on! Let’s get going!” said Sandy.
They found seats near the back of the theater. Suzy and Teenie sat together. The boys sat in the row behind them.
It was very noisy. They had to shout to be heard. Suzy and Teenie kept their hands over their ears.
Suddenly the lights went out, and the first cartoon comedy started. This produced a roar from the children.
What they liked they cheered. What they didn’t like they booed.
The visitors from Veta thought booing was extremely bad manners.
There was another great cheer when the first comedy ended, and another cheer when the next picture started.
The feature was to be a Western story with cowboys, Indians, and plenty of shooting.
The second short film was almost over when there was an odor of something burning. Suddenly, a little flicker of flame show at the bottom of the stage curtain.
The audience was stilled for an instant. Then there were shouts of “Fire!” and a lot of screaming. Everyone jumped up, scrambling for the aisles and exits.
Teenie grabbed Suzy and shouted: “Sit still! Greenie will handle this!”
Beanie pulled Sandy back into his seat.
Greenie responded promptly. He used jet power to soar to the stage. In the darkened theater a strong green light shone on him. His voice boomed out like thunder.
“Quiet everybody! Get back to your seats!” he commanded.
The terrified youngsters were frozen in their tracks. They paused in their mad rush despite themselves.
The lights came on. Greenie shouted, “Music, Mr. Operator!”
The operator had a record on the loud-speaker in an instant.
Greenie moved quickly. He lifted a fire extinguisher off the wall of the stage and squirted the fluid on the burning curtain. The fire was out in a moment. The manager came rushing down the aisle to the stage. There was a cheer for Greenie that could be heard almost as far as the Planet Veta.
The manager gave the necessary directions to clear the theater, and the youngsters moved out in an orderly manner. They felt very shaky, but they had not panicked.
“Young man, how can I ever thank you!” the manager exclaimed to Greenie.
“I’m glad I could help,” Greenie replied modestly.
“Such presence of mind, such courage, are rare, indeed!” said the manager.
“Just part of my training, sir,” said Greenie.
He started back to the Green Rangers who were waiting for him proudly.
The firemen arrived before the Green Rangers got out of the theater. They hustled down the aisles and probed into every nook and cranny of the stage to make sure the fire was completely out.
Many children milled about outside, waiting for developments. In a short time the fire chief came out of the theater with the manager. He had a megaphone in his hand. He spoke to the waiting youngsters.
“Children!” he said. “I am proud of your calmness in the face of danger. I hope you will always remember the lesson you learned today. In a fire, panic is the greatest danger. Keep calm, wait your turn, pass in an orderly line, and everyone will get out safely.”
The fire chief went on to explain that there was little damage to the stage and that the building was safe to use. He said the show would be continued and that he would have one of his men stay in the theater until the show was over.
Greenie said to the Green Rangers, “Well, I still want to see that Western.”
The Green Rangers needed no second invitation. They filed into the theater again.
When the other youngsters saw Greenie lead his group inside, they filed in too, this time much more quietly.
The next morning Suzy and Sandy had good news for their friends in the Tall Tomato Tree. They had box seats for the circus.
Mr. Barnum, the owner of the circus, was a friend of Daddy’s. He gave passes for his own box to Daddy for the afternoon performance of the circus under the big top. Daddy gave the passes to Suzy and Sandy. He said Mr. Barnum would send someone for them and would visit them in his box.
The Green Rangers played in the summer house in the Tall Tomato Tree until Sandy remembered that he had to take a swimming lesson. He begged to be excused.
“Why can’t we all go?” Beanie asked. “A dip in the pool sure would be cool!”
“You’re right, Beanie,” said Suzy. “We’ll all go!”
Tom and Mitty were off somewhere in the tree. Tom barked sharply every now and then, and Mitty let out an occasional angry yowl. They were excited about something. The children didn’t call them because Tom and Mitty weren’t allowed in the pool anyhow.
The children donned their bathing suits and robes and walked to the pool. They found a shady spot on the lawn beside the pool and spread their blankets on the ground.
Sandy dashed toward the shower and shouted, “The last one in the pool has to get the refreshments!”
The others ran after him quickly. As Sandy reached the shower, the lifeguard called, “Sandy! You’re just the fellow I am looking for. The teacher wants to see you right away!”
“Right away?” Sandy echoed weakly.
“Yes, right away!” the lifeguard answered firmly.
By this time the other Green Rangers were dancing around under the shower.
Sandy muttered, “Stuck again!” as he trotted off to see his swimming instructor.
Suzy and her friends finished their showers and stepped to the pool.
The lifeguard turned to see them poised on the edge of the pool ready to dive in.
“You!” he shouted, pointing to Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Into the pool,” said Suzy, speaking for her friends.
“Not with that green paint on they’re not!” said the guard. “Now get under the shower and wash that stuff off!” he commanded.
“Yes, sir!” Greenie said politely.
When the lifeguard turned away, Greenie led the group back to the blankets on the grass.
“What are you going to do?” Suzy asked.
“Watch this,” said Teenie.
She took a tiny plastic bottle out of her handbag, and looked around to make sure no one was watching. Then she sprayed a fluid on Beanie that turned his skin a delicate pink.
Beanie posed for Suzy. “There!” he said. “How’s that?”
Suzy clapped her hands. “Wonderful!” she said.
Teenie sprayed Greenie and herself with the fluid, and there were three pink children where three green children had been. They ran to the pool and dived in.
Sandy came back from his conference with the teacher in time to see four pairs of feet disappear under the water. He plunged in after them and tried to grasp Beanie’s heels.
The Green Rangers dived and swam and played in the water for a long time. Then they came out of the pool and stretched out on their blankets. Sandy got the refreshments from the snack bar.
They allowed time for the snacks to settle, then they dived into the pool again for more fun.
When it came time to go home, the children took the usual shower at the edge of the pool.
Teenie squeezed a small amount of an amber-colored paste into her palms and rubbed it into her skin as she stood in the shower. The pink coloring on her skin disappeared, leaving her natural, radiant green skin.
Beanie and Greenie did the same.
The lifeguard watched this with pursed lips, shaking his head. He was exasperated. “The kids get goofier every year,” he said.
The Green Rangers were among the earliest arrivals at the circus grounds in the afternoon. They had time to see the sword swallower, the fire-eater, the bearded lady, the fat man, the thin man, the midgets, the Hawaiian Village, the strong man, and all the other sideshow attractions before the great show under the big top started.
The Green Rangers stopped to watch the trainers groom the elephants for the show. The Veta children were impressed by the size of the elephants. They marveled at the elephants’ great trunk.
One old elephant drew up a whole trunkful of water from his drinking tub, then flexed his trunk over his head and sprayed his back.
He noticed the Green Rangers. He also noticed that three of the children had green skin. A mischievous grin came in his little eyes.
He dipped his trunk in the tub again and drew up a trunkful of water. He aimed it at Greenie and squirted a heavy stream at him.
Greenie was alert, however, and could tell what was coming. He threw an invisible force curtain in front of himself. The water hit the force curtain and dribbled to the ground. The children laughed.
The elephant was miffed and mystified at his failure to douse Greenie. He quickly sucked up another trunkful of water. He blew it at Greenie so hard that his ears flapped.
Greenie was ready for the second stream. He met it with a force ray that showered the water right back into the elephant’s face.
The old fellow let out an angry bellow that brought his trainer running.
“Hey, you kids!” shouted the trainer. “Stop teasing that elephant, and get out of here!”
The Green Rangers thought an explanation would be useless. They moved on, pronto. They went inside the big tent and took their ringside box seats well ahead of show time.
Mr. Barnum came to the box to greet Suzy and Sandy. Suzy introduced him to her friends from Veta.
Mr. Barnum laughed as he shook hands with Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie.
“A clever make-up!” he said. “I could use you in my side show just as you are!”
Before the children could respond, an assistant hurried up to Mr. Barnum and whispered to him.
Mr. Barnum excused himself and left them in a hurry. The Green Rangers saw him join an excited knot of circus folk in the runway. The performers gestured nervously, Mr. Barnum looked very much upset.
“Something’s wrong,” said Suzy. “I wonder what it is?”
“Go over and find out,” Sandy said.
Suzy didn’t need any urging. She left the box and joined the group in the runway.
She was back soon with the bad news. Both top stars of the show were stranded miles away in a stalled automobile. They would miss the show. Who could take the place of the man on the flying trapeze and the beautiful bareback rider?
“I can do the trapeze act,” said Greenie.
“And I can do the bareback riding,” said Teenie.
Suzy was surprised.
“You mean it?” she asked.
“Of course they mean it,” said Beanie. “I could do it myself, but I’m busy right now.”
With a hot dog in one hand, a soft drink in the other, his pockets full of peanuts, and a horn of popcorn on the ground below his feet, Beanie was likely to be busy for some time.
“I know you can,” Suzy said confidently to Greenie and Teenie. “Come with me!”
She led them to Mr. Barnum.
“Mr. Barnum,” Suzy said respectfully, “my friends will substitute for your stars. Greenie will do the trapeze act, and Teenie will ride the horses.”
Mr. Barnum looked at Suzy reproachfully. “Young lady, this is no time for jokes!” he said.
“This is no joke, sir,” Suzy persisted. She turned to Greenie and Teenie. “Show Mr. Barnum what you can do,” she said.
The crowd of worried performers cleared a little circle.
Greenie ran a few steps and did a triple forward somersault with a full turn. As he landed with his arms outstretched, Teenie leaped and landed on one toe on Greenie’s head in a graceful pose.
The actors applauded.
Mr. Barnum made decisions quickly.
“Wonderful!” he said, all smiles. “With that green make-up on you’re in! Dress them in the best!”
The wardrobe mistress hustled Teenie and Greenie to the dressing wagon.
Suzy returned to the box and told Sandy and Beanie what had happened. Their interest and excitement quickened.
The show began. There was one fascinating act after another; first in one end ring, then in the other end ring, then in the center ring, and sometimes in all three rings at once. Yes, it was a three-ring circus!
They watched the lion tamer put the lions through their paces, the elephants go through a drill, a man spin around on his head on top of a pole a hundred feet high, and many other daring and amazing stunts. The clowns had everyone laughing continually. The Green Rangers couldn’t figure out how eight clowns got out of a tiny automobile that would barely hold one person.
Everyone looked forward to the feature acts -- the man on the flying trapeze and the bareback riders.
The band stopped playing. There was a great fanfare of trumpets. All eyes turned to the runway.
At the end of the fanfare, Greenie burst into view with a long spangled cape streaming from his shoulders. He wore white tights and slippers. The band struck up a lively tune.
Greenie walked around the ring with one hand on his hip and saluted the audience with the other hand. The crowd was stunned. This fellow was handsome and cocky, but he didn’t look like the star on the posters. There was no wave of applause such as usually greeted the star.
Greenie lost no time. He knew he had to prove his ability to the audience quickly.
He made a final bow in the center of the ring. An assistant took the spangled cape from his shoulders.
A rope hung down from a little platform near the top of the tent. Greenie grasped the rope and pulled himself up hand over hand to the platform with great speed. This brought a smattering of applause, but most people were still annoyed by the substitution.
The ropes of the trapeze were fastened to a crossbar at the very top of the tent. There were two platforms, one on either side of the tent, spaced so that the horizontal bar of the trapeze would swing in a giant arc between them, a hundred feet above the ring. An assistant held the bar for Greenie.
Greenie seized the bar with both hands. He poised on the edge of the platform for an instant, and then jumped off and swung down and up in a great arc.
At the top of the swing he let go of the bar completely. He spun around a full turn and a half and grasped the bar again as it began its return swing.
This feat brought a round of genuine applause. Greenie smiled and waved to the crowd. He went on from one intricate stunt to another in spellbinding succession. Greenie performed all the most difficult feats that anyone in the audience had ever seen on the flying trapeze. He floated through the air with the greatest of ease.
The audience was now enthusiastic. The applause from one stunt blended into the applause for the next one.
Greenie was not content to stop with all the known feats on the flying trapeze. He invented new ones, each more daring and hair-raising than the one before.
The audience was standing now. Greenie was doing triple somersaults forward and backward in the air while the bar swung relentlessly below him. How he always managed to grab the bar, no one could understand. He hung by his toes; he hung by his heels; he took off from these positions in the most fantastic gyrations the audience had even seen.
His last stunt brought a scream from all. From the bottom of the swinging arc, Greenie was lifted up into the air then released the bar. He spread his arms into a graceful swan dive and plummeted down toward the ground a hundred feet below.
The audience was horrified. Many people covered their eyes. Too bad, because they missed the greatest feat of all! A few feet above the ground Greenie grasped a guy wire and spun around in giant swings a dozen times. Releasing his hold, he flew out into the center of the ring, landing lightly on his feet.
The crowd gave him a tornado of applause. Greenie bowed again and again before dashing out of the ring and up the runway. He left the audience murmuring and excited.
But the show must go on. There was another great fanfare of trumpets. The final solo act was coming on -- the beautiful bareback rider.
The band struck up a lively march, and Teenie came out into the ring on a spirited pure-white horse. She was standing on the horse’s back, with her dainty feet together and her arms outstretched.
She too was clad in white tights and slippers. A purple and gold cape streamed from her shoulders. Her golden hair was tied into a pony tail.
The audience gave her a warm reception. After Greenie’s performance, the audience expected something out of this world. That’s what Teenie gave them.
Teenie couldn’t straddle two horses, but she could flit from one horse to another, and from one horse to the ground and back again with such agility and grace that every movement she made was one of beauty. The audience loved her.
Teenie twirled hoops with both arms and one leg at the same time while balanced on one dainty toe on the back of the galloping horse. She performed stunts that the audience had never seen before.
She closed her act by somersaulting backward from one horse to another through a hoop held between each of the eight galloping white horses. She brought the house down as she rode out of the ring, throwing kisses to all with both hands.
The grand finale was always an exciting part, and the Green Rangers enjoyed it thoroughly. They were thrilled by the rousing reception Teenie and Greenie got again when they appeared.
After the show, Suzy, Sandy, and Beanie rushed to the runway to congratulate Teenie and Greenie. Both new stars were praised by Mr Barnum and the regular performers.
Mr. Barnum tried to stuff some large bills into Greenie’s hand.
“Oh, no, thank you!” Greenie said. “We did this for you, and because we didn’t want to see so many people disappointed.”
“Mr. Barnum heaved a great sigh. “You two are really out of this world!” he exclaimed.
“How true! How true!” Suzy agreed happily.
As they walked him Suzy said: “Both of you were simply wonderful! I didn’t think anybody could do the tricks you did.”
“Don’t give us any credit,” Teenie replied. “With a gravity neutralizer and force rays anyone could do the stunts we did.”
“Sure,” said Beanie. “I told you I could do it.”
“You could do a lot of things if you spent less time eating,” Teenie said.
Sandy couldn’t spend much time playing in the Tall Tomato Tree the next morning because he had to practice with his little league team for the ball game in the afternoon. The Green Rangers were going to the game to root for Sandy, who was on the Cold Spring Colts team. Their opponents were the Silverton Cubs.
After lunch the Green Rangers went to the ball field with Sandy. They created quite a stir. There were a number of comments about Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie by the players on Sandy’s team -- none of them very complimentary.
“What do those kids think this is, a masquerade party?” one asked.
“How silly can you get,” said another, “painting yourself green?”
“Aw, that’s nothing,” one player boasted. “At the school bazaar I had one side of my face painted red, the other side blue, and my nose painted yellow. I won an award for the most horrible-looking face.”
“Don’t pay any attention to them,” warned the manager. “Keep your mind on the game.”
Suzy took her guests to the grandstand while Sandy joined his team on the bench.
The Cold Spring Colts ran onto the field for pregame practice. Everyone stood up and cheered. The Veta children were forgotten.
Beanie had his baseball glove with him. He noticed that Sandy had remained on the bench when his team came out.
“Why isn’t Sandy on the field?” Beanie asked.
“Sandy loves to play,” Suzy said, “but he doesn’t get into too many regular games. The manager says Sandy can’t hit and he can’t throw.”
“Is Sandy going to sit on the bench all afternoon?” Beanie asked.
“Oh, no!” Suzy replied. “The subs will get a chance to practice soon. Sandy might even get into the game later.”
Beanie decided to join Sandy on the players’ bench.
Sandy was glad to have Beanie’s company. He felt glum just sitting there through the game, hoping for the chance that rarely came.
Beanie said, “I hear you can’t hit and you can’t throw.”
Sandy was indignant. “Who told you that?”
“It doesn’t matter who told me,” Beanie answered. “Is that right?”
Sandy nodded his head.
“Maybe I can help you,” Beanie said.
“I think so.”
The manager called for the substitutes to take the field for brief practice. As Sandy ran onto the field, Beanie called, “I’ll watch you to see if I can locate your trouble.”
Sandy played shortstop. He was a good fielder, but his throws to first base always pulled the first baseman off the bag.
The best Sandy could do at bat was hit a couple of feeble foul balls. He came back to the bench discouraged.
Beanie said: “Where can we practice? I can help you.”
Sandy led Beanie to the practice field behind the grandstand. Several subs followed out of curiosity.
Beanie was glad they came. He put them to work. One was told to pitch, another to catch, one was sent to the infield, and two to the outfield.
Beanie took a bat and stepped up to the plate.
The subs smiled. Standing at the plate with the bat on his shoulder, Beanie looked ridiculous to them. He was so small, and the bat was so big. What did this baby expect to do?
Beanie swung the bat forward and backward easily.
“Now watch carefully, Sandy,” he said. “Keep your eye on the ball until you hit it.”
Beanie told the pitcher to pitch to him -- hard.
The pitcher said to himself: All right, buddy. You asked for it!
He wound up and threw the ball as hard as he could.
Beanie’s bat met the ball right over the heart of the plate and sent it sailing clear over the fielder’s head.
The subs turned and gaped at the ball as it dropped into the woods.
“What a sock!” shouted Sandy. “That was a home run!”
Sandy took the bat and swung it several times as directed. When Beanie was satisfied with the swing, Sandy stepped to the plate.
The pitcher threw a fast one to Sandy. Sandy took a good swing at the ball and drove it over the shortstop’s head. He was thrilled. He had never hit a ball like that before.
Sandy hit almost every pitch thrown to him. The subs were impressed but they wanted to see Beanie bat again.
That first hit may have been an accident, the pitcher thought.
Beanie stepped up to the plate again. This time the pitcher threw a fast curve. Beanie drove the ball over the right fielder’s head.
Meanwhile the manager wondered what had happened to his subs. He came around the grandstand in time to see Beanie’s tremendous drive.
The manager whistled. If only I had a hitter like that on my team! he thought.
He yelled at the subs: “What’s going on back here! Don’t you know the game has started? Get around there and watch the game! Maybe you’ll learn something.”
The subs looked at one another and snickered, but ran back to the bench as instructed.
The manager stopped Sandy. “If you could hit like your friend, you would be a fixture in the line-up,” he said.
“I’d be in the big leagues if I could hit like that,” Sandy replied.
“I guess you’re right,” the manager said. He added, “I haven’t met your friend.”
“Pardon me!” said Sandy. He introduced Beanie to the manager, and explained that Beanie and his brother and sister were spending their vacation with him.
“In that case,” the manager said to Beanie, “you’re eligible to play on our team. We need hitters like you.”
“What position do you play?” the manager asked.
“Any position,” Beanie replied confidently.
“Are you a good fielder?” the manager asked.
In answer Beanie ran down to second base and called, “Throw the ball to me!”
The manager took the ball from Sandy and threw it softly to Beanie.
Beanie caught it easily and threw it back. The ball came back so hard the manager winced when he caught it.
“Try to catch this,” the manager said. He threw the ball into the air as hard as high as he could.
Beanie drifted under it and caught the ball waist-high.
“You’re on the team,” said the manager. “I’ll use you before the game is over.”
Beanie was pleased to be selected for the team. Then he remembered Sandy.
“But, sir,” he said, “I couldn’t play without Sandy on the team. I’m his guest, and he’s my best friend!”
The manager looked at Sandy very dubiously.
“Give me a chance, sir,” Sandy pleaded. “Beanie showed me how to hit the ball, and I’ve been doing great!”
“You gotta throw the ball, you know,” said the manager.
“I’ll teach him that before we get in the game,” Beanie promised.
The manager was surprised at Beanie’s confidence, but he said: “O.K. What have we got to lose? We’re already three runs behind now. You stay here and practice. I’ll call you when I want you.”
Beanie explained the art of throwing to Sandy.
“Your trouble is that you throw like a girl,” he said. “You don’t bend your arm enough. You have to snap your wrist as you release the ball.”
This sounded very complicated, but Sandy was a good pupil, and he was anxious to make the team. It didn’t take him long to realize how much faster and farther he could throw the ball when he followed Beanie’s instructions.
The manager sent several subs around to practice with them. They practiced a long time. They began to think they were not going to get in the game after all.
It was the ninth inning. The visitors were leading by a score of 8 runs to 5.
At last the manager came around the grandstand and beckoned to Sandy and Beanie. “Sandy, you take over at shortstop, and Beanie, you get out in right field!” he ordered.
The team did not have a suit or shoes to fit Beanie, but they gave him a red baseball cap.
It created a sensation in the stands when Beanie ran out onto the field with the team.
“What’s the idea?” one man said. “Looks like the manager’s robbing the cradle for players.”
“The least that fellow could do is to wash the make-up off his face,” said a woman.
The game went on. Sandy felt good prancing around at shortstop.
He didn’t have to wait long to try his new throwing skill. The first batter up hit a steaming grounder to him. Sandy fielded it cleanly, as usual, and whipped the ball over to the first baseman. The ball sped on a line, chest-high, right to the first baseman. The batter was out.
It was difficult to tell who was more astonished -- the first baseman, or the batter, or the manager, or Sandy. At any rate, Sandy got a good round of applause for his play.
The next batter drew a walk. Then the Cub’s clean-up batter stepped to the plate.
The Colts’ manager waved his outfielders back as far as they could go.
The pitcher was very cautious -- too cautious. He missed the plate three times in a row. The count was three balls, and no strikes.
The pitcher figured that the batter would let the next pitch go by to get a base on balls. He threw the next ball right over the plate. It was a strike all right, but the pitcher figured wrong.
The batter swung the ball and drove it on a line for the fence. It looked like a sure triple. The runner on first base started dashing around the bases.
But they hadn’t figured on Beanie. He was off like a flash at the crack of the bat. He leaped high into the air and fielded the ball with one hand. Then he threw it on a line to the first baseman for a double play.
There was a moment of disbelief. Then a thunder of applause range out for Beanie’s spectacular catch and throw.
As Beanie trotted off the field, every Colt thumped him on the back or shook his hand.
“Great work!” Sandy said.
“You were no slouch yourself,” Beanie replied.
“Boy! This is living!” said Sandy.
The manager sat a little straighter on the bench. There were fewer wrinkles in his forehead.
The Colts went to bat. This was their last chance. The first man fouled out to the catcher. The next batter struck out. Then Sandy stepped forward.
The batter coming up after Sandy pleaded, “Save me a turn at bat, Sandy!”
Sandy stepped to the plate with determination.
The first ball was a little too high to suit him. The umpire called, “Strike one!”
The next ball was outside. The umpire called, “Ball one!”
A low curve was the pitcher’s next offering. Sandy let it go by.
“Strike two,” shouted the umpire.
There were some boos in the stands. The pitcher wore a big smile. This kid can’t hit, he thought.
So he blazed a fast ball right over the plate. The umpire had his hand halfway up in the air to call, “Strike three.” That was as far as he got.
Sandy drove the ball between the shortstop and the third baseman for a clean single.
The Colts’ rooters perked up. The manager stood up. The next batter approached the plate.
The Cubs’ pitcher was annoyed. Imagine that kid getting a hit! he thought. He’s been warming the bench all season.
The idea of Sandy getting a hit unnerved the pitcher. He walked the next batter on three pitches.
The crowd in the stands started to clap in rhythm. This annoyed the pitcher even more.
These kids can’t hit a doughnut in a coffee cup, he said to himself.
The next batter looked at the manager for instructions. He got them and stepped into the batter’s box.
He had never bunted a ball in his life, but he laid a perfect bunt down along the third base line on the first pitch.
The Cub infield was caught off guard, and everyone was safe. The bases were loaded with Colts.
It was Beanie’s turn to bat. The Colts’ manager paced back and forth in front of the bench. He clapped his hands and smiled. The whole team and the spectators were on their feet.
What in the world is this? the pitcher thought as Beanie stepped into the batter’s box, swinging his bat.
The catcher ran out to talk to the pitcher. The third baseman and the shortstop joined them.
“Calm down, bud,” the catcher said. “This runt can hardly lift the bat. Just keep the ball low.”
The catcher trotted back behind the plate, and the infielders took their positions. The pitcher laughed at himself. Imagine being worried with this whiffet at the plate!
His first pitch was a strike, high on the outside corner. The second pitch was a ball, low and wide.
The next pitch came in fast, waist-high, right over the center of the plate.
This was the pitch Beanie was waiting for. He swung with all his might and met the ball right on the nose with the fat of the bat. You could hear the crack of the bat a block away.
The ball soared over the center fielder’s head, and over the center-field fence for a grand-slam home run! Four runs and the game!’ The crowd went wild as Beanie circled the bases leisurely. The three boys who scored ahead of him waited at the plate. They shook Beanie’s hand; they pounded his back; they hoisted him on their shoulders.
The crowd surged onto the field and rushed to congratulate their new hero.
The manager reached Beanie first. “You can be the regular right fielder for the season!” he shouted as he shook Beanie’s hand.
Everyone wanted to shake Beanie’s hand. It took the Green Rangers some time to pry Beanie away from his admirers and out of the ball park.
When they got back to the Tall Tomato Tree, they went up to Teenie’s shelter. Teenie crossed “ball game” off their list of things to do.
There was just one more item on their list -- a visit to the State Game Preserve. They wanted to see the wild animals in their natural habitat.
It rained the next day. The Green Rangers got together on the veranda of the summer house after breakfast. They watched the rain patter on the leaves of the Tall Tomato Tree. It ran in rivulets to form little ponds on the great leaves. Now and again a leaf would fill to overflowing and tilt to pour out a big splash of water.
Sandy poked his head out from under the roof to scan the sky for signs of clearing. He looked up just in time to catch a face full of water from one of the leaves.
“Clumsy!” said Suzy.
“Well, you look!” replied Sandy. Suzy leaned over the railing cautiously and looked up between the branches of the tree. She examined the gray sky above very carefully.
Water dripped steadily from the leaves.
“I think the clouds are beginning to break,” she reported.
“Are you sure? Take a good look!” Sandy urged.
Suzy leaned far out and studied the sky again very deliberately.
Sandy put his hand to his mouth and held his breath. He danced around in anticipation of the drenching Suzy was going to get. But there was no drenching. Suzy withdrew her head and reported: “Yes, it is clearing. I can see a patch of blue in the sky.”
“You can?” Sandy shouted. This was good news. He leaned over the railing and looked up at the sky too.
Slosh! Down came a double splash of water, drenching his face. The Green Rangers laughed as Sandy shook the water out of his ears.
It stopped raining, and the sun came out. Water continued to drip from the leaves. The branches and the steps on the stairway around the trunk of the tree dried out quickly.
“This would be a good time to explore the Tall Tomato Tree,” said Greenie.
The boys explored the branches below the summer house. The girls wandered in the upper branches. Tom and Mitty raced up and down and all around.
Sandy and Beanie had great fun jumping from one leaf to another and making daring leaps from one branch to another. They knew the Tall Tomato Tree wouldn’t let them fall.
Greenie called to Sandy. “Here are your tomatoes,” he said, pointing to a strong stem that probed far out into the sunlight. Hanging from the end was a cluster of beautiful, star-shaped yellow flowers.
“I don’t see any tomatoes,” Sandy said.
Greenie explained that the yellow petals would fall off soon, and a little green globe would appear in the center of each flower. This was the beginning of a red ripe tomato.
“When will the tomatoes be ready?” asked Sandy.
“Before we leave,” Greenie replied. “Things happen quickly in the Tall Tomato Tree.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a cry from Suzy. She screamed: “Help! A dragon! Help!”
Greenie turned his glide ray on full power and shot up among the branches to Suzy. Beanie followed quickly. Sandy in his haste to rush to Suzy’s aid forgot to use the magic password. Instead, he dashed for the trunk of the Tall Tomato Tree and ran up the circular stairway as fast as his little legs would carry him.
Greenie found Suzy first. He came upon a frightening scene. Suzy huddled in fear against the tree trunk. Tom was standing bravely a few feet in front of her, barking furiously at a horrible-looking green monster.
The hair stood straight up on Tom’s back. His legs were as stiff as steel. His paws were dug into the branch of the tree. Mitty was beside him, her back arched into a horseshoe. She was spitting and yowling.
The monster had a horn two feet long in the center of its head. It had countless short legs that gripped the branch, and it was so long you couldn’t see its tail. It had huge protruding eyes that could see in all directions, and a large mouth with puffy lips drawn back baring two rows of jagged teeth.
Whenever the monster made a movement forward Tom would charge at it savagely, barking and snapping. Mittle would lunge forward with her claws slashing. The monster would retreat.
Greenie took a quick look at the situation. He wasn’t frightened. He landed beside Suzy and put a protective arm around her.
Beanie arrived and pointed a tiny cylinder at the dragon.
“Wait!” said Greenie. “Wait until Sandy gets here.”
Beanie put the cylinder back in his belt and took a watchful position behind Tom and Mitty.
Teenie arrived. She had left Suzy only moments before to explore another branch of the tree. She barely looked at the dragon. She was too worried about Suzy.
“Oh dear! This would happen the moment I left you!” She put her arm around Suzy.
Suzy found her voice. “Oh! Keep the dragon away from me! Please!” she pleaded.
“Don’t worry, Suzy,” Teenie said. “It’s only a tomato worm. It can’t really hurt you. It eats only tomato leaves. The Tall Tomato Tree will be glad to get rid of it, but it can’t hurt you.”
“A tomato worm?” Suzy exclaimed. “Why, it’s bigger than an alligator!”
“Big, yes,” agreed Greenie, “but it can’t hurt you.”
Suzy was relieved by this explanation and the calmness of her friends. She wondered what they would do about the enormous creature.
Beany remembered Sandy. He shouted, “Use the password, Sandy!”
Sandy was still far below, puffing up the steps. He heard Beanie’s shout. He stopped short and snapped his fingers as usual when provoked with himself. He shouted, “Up to Veta! -- The Green Rangers!”
The Tall Tomato Tree responded promptly. It bounced Sandy up from branch to branch and landed him on the dragon’s head astride the long horn.
Sandy turned as green as the dragon. He grasped the horn in front of him as the dragon tried to shake him off. Sandy clung on like a leech.
“Help!” he cried. “Do something, somebody!”
“Ride ‘im, cowboy!” Beanie shouted. “It’s only a tomato worm!”
“A to-to-tomato worm?” stammered Sandy as he bounced around on the dragon’s head.
“Yes, a little old tomato work,” said Beanie.
Sandy was almost tossed off the dragon’s head.
“This is a mighty big worm!” sputtered Sandy. “Get me down!”
Greenie motioned to Beanie. “Get rid of this nuisance now,” he said.
Beanie shouted to Sandy, “Hold on!”
He aimed his little cylinder at the dragon’s head and pressed the button.
The dragon immediately stood still. It had a startled expression on its ugly face. Then it began to shrink, and collapsed suddenly like a pricked balloon. Sandy flopped to the branch on the shriveled hide, which was all that remained of the dragon.
Tom and Mitty made short work of the hide. They sent pieces flying in the air. In a few moments the last trace of the dragon was gone.
“You were wonderful,” Suzy said to her friends. “I have never been so frightened in my life.”
Sandy strutted around proudly. “Talk about broncobusters,” he boasted. “I’m a dragonbuster!”
“Now we know what Tom and Mitty were fretting about in the tree yesterday,” said Greenie.
After lunch the Green Rangers boarded the Bon Voyage for the trip to the State Game Preserve. Greenie guided the Bon Voyage noiselessly out of the Tall Tomato Tree and steered the ship westward at a fast clip.
They reached the State Game Preserve very quickly. Greenie set the Bon Voyage down on the side of a road bordering a lush mountain meadow.
There was a grove of tall pine trees inside a barbed-wire fence. The largest pine cones Suzy and Sandy had ever seen lay on the ground under the trees.
“Look at the size of those cones!” Sandy shouted.
“They’re beautiful!” Suzy exclaimed. “I’d love to take some home to Mother.”
“I’ll get some,” Sandy said impulsively.
He crawled under the barbed-wire fence and ran toward the pine grove.
The Green Rangers sat on the grass outside the fence to wait for him. Tom and Mitty raced into the woods on the other side of the road. They had their own way of exploring.
Sandy picked up the largest, most perfect cones he could find. He soon had an armful.
He turned to rejoin the Green Rangers -- and found himself face to face with the biggest buffalo he had ever seen.
Sandy stiffened. He was rooted to the ground. His hair stood on end, and his eyes bulged.
Another buffalo joined the first one, and then another. All three stared at Sandy. An age seemed to pass.
Beanie called out cheerfully, “Say hello to the buffaloes, Sandy!”
Suzy shouted, “Run, Sandy, run!”
Sandy didn’t hear a word. He stared at the enormous horned heads in front of him. He could hear their heavy breathing.
Suddenly Sandy moved. He dropped the cones as if they had been hot coals and streaked like lightning for the fence. He was down and under in a wink. He left a strip of cloth from the seat of his jeans dangling on the bottom strand of wire.
“I wanted those cones so much,” Suzy sighed.
“Beanie will get them for you,” said Teenie.
“Sure,” said Beanie. “No trouble at all.”
Beanie used his glide ray to float up over the fence. He landed in front of the largest buffalo. Beanie picked up a cone right under the animal’s nose. The buffalo was indignant at this and snorted loudly.
Beanie ignored the buffalo. He busied himself picking up the choice cones that Sandy had dropped.
The big buffalo seemed to admire Beanie’s courage, and was content to let him help himself to the cones.
But the huge beast hadn’t considered his buffalo friends. They stepped back a few paces and stared at him as if to say, “What kind of a buffalo bull are you -- to let that little imp buffalo you?”
Worse yet, a dozen more buffaloes were attracted by the commotion but waited to see what would happen.
Well, the buffalo had to do something now if he didn’t want the herd to think he was a softy!
Then the big buffalo lowered his head and put on his meanest look. He bellowed loud and long. He pawed the ground fiercely and sent stones and dirt flying back into the faces of the other buffaloes. They edged out of range.
Strange, this mighty act didn’t impress Beanie. He went right on picking up pine cones.
The big buffalo backed away a few paces. Then he let out a tremendous bellow and with lowered head tore along the ground toward Beanie like an express train.
Only a foot away from Beanie he crashed into an invisible wall. He crumpled up with his head on the ground, his front legs buckled under him, his hindquarters up in the air, and his tail pointing straight to the sky. The end of one horn was broken off.
Poor fellow! How was he to know that Beanie had surrounded himself with a force screen that the entire herd couldn’t crash?
Beanie lifted the force screen and picked up the broken horn beside the dazed buffalo’s head. It would be a good souvenir for Sandy. He turned on his glide ray and returned to the Green Rangers. The buffalo struggled to his feet and looked at them with a dazed expression as if to say, “What happened?”
Beanie gave the horn to Sandy and the cones to Suzy.
“A real buffalo horn!” cried Sandy. “That’s keen! I’ll hang it over the fireplace.”
Suzy was glad to get the cones, but she felt sorry for the buffalo.
“Sorry for the buffalo?” Sandy demanded. “How about feeling sorry for me?” He patted the seat of his jeans.
“Oh, you’ll survive!” Suzy replied.
“So will the buffalo,” Greenie assured her. “They have the thickest skulls.”
“Well, now, I wouldn’t say that!” Suzy said, patting Sandy on the head.
“Ha-ha! Very funny!” Sandy retorted sarcastically.
The Green Rangers piled into the Bon Voyage to continue their tour of the State Game Preserve.
They hovered over a herd of deer, and joined a flight of ducks. They saw bears, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and skunks. But Sandy did not try to pet a skunk.
They saw cranes, eagles, bluebirds, cardinals, and many birds they had never seen before. It was an interesting, pleasant tour.
On the way home the Green Rangers were quiet. This was the last day of their special program. Tomorrow, Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie would start back to the planet Veta.
Teenie had saved a bit of good news for Suzy and Sandy.
“You’re invited to come aboard our spaceship tomorrow night,” she told them.
Suzy and Sandy were excited by this invitation. They thanked Teenie. Suzy wondered if she would see the Earth from space as Teenie had promised.
The Green Rangers met early the next day. This was their last day together. The spaceship would call for Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie at exactly nine o’clock that night. Not a minute was to be lost.
The first item on their schedule was to have all the fun they could have in the Tall Tomato Tree. They started with the great toboggan slide. They slid down again and again in every possible way until they were all panting.
Then the carousel was set in motion. They rode on their favorite steeds. They exchanged steeds. Greenie made the carousel go faster, then slower. He made the riders bounce ‘way up in the air. They didn’t know what to expect from one moment to the next -- except that it would be more fun.
They caught rings as they sped past the ring post until their arms were tired. They just had to stop and rest.
Beanie and Sandy knew that the leaves of the Tall Tomato Tree were springy like a trampoline. They did fancy somersaults and twists as they jumped on the leaves and bounced in the air.
They got into a contest to see which one could bounce higher. Their score was tied after several bounces. Then Beanie used his glide ray to shoot up higher than the Tall Tomato Tree.
Sandy shouted, “Foul!” He knew what Beanie had done.
The Tall Tomato Tree must have been acting as umpire. When Beanie came plummeting down again to bounce on the springy leaf, the tree waved the leaf aside and let Beanie drop twenty feet below to land with a thud on the branch.
Sandy was happy to be declared the winner of the contest by Greenie. Beanie came back to the carousel with a sheepish grin.
As they sat on the carousel Sandy had another idea.
“This is the tallest tree in the world,” he said. “We can make the highest swing in the world!”
“Sure we can,” Beanie agreed. “All we need is a long rope and a board.”
“We have plenty in our basement,” Sandy said. “I’ll get them in a jiffy.”
He went down to the ground on the magic password and raced up the garden to the house. The Green Rangers followed him to the ground.
Sandy came out of the basement carrying a board and dragging a huge coil of rope. He and Beanie offered to rig up the swing.
Beanie went up into the tree to tie the ends of the rope to a branch high above the ground. Sandy’s job was to make the seat and fit it properly between the ropes.
While Sandy and Beanie were making the swing, the others waited on a bench under the tree. Greenie had a suggestion for the girls.
“Sandy’s had a rough time of it,” he said. “Every time he’s said, ‘The last one to do this or that,’ he’s been last. The next time he issues a challenge let’s make sure he’s first instead of the last.
Suzy and Teenie were glad to go along with this idea. Sandy was so good-natured and helpful that he deserved to win at least one of his many contests.
Beanie finished his job and joined the group on the bench. Sandy pretended to have trouble adjusting the seat between the ropes. As soon as Beanie sat down, Sandy took a few steps toward the group, then shouted, “The last one to the swing has to push the others!”
Beanie started to race Sandy to the swing, but Greenie caught him by the seat of his pants. Beanie was indignant until Teenie explained the plan to him. He was glad to help his pal win for once.
Sandy easily got to the swing first. He jumped on the seat and grinned from ear to ear.
“You’re last, Beanie!” he cried. “Give me a push!”
Beanie pretended that he was annoyed at being last. He gave Sandy a little push.
“Higher!” Sandy shouted.
Beanie pushed a little harder.
“Push me higher!” Sandy commanded.
Beanie put his weight and his force ray behind the next push and sent Sandy sailing ‘way up in the air.
As Sandy sailed up toward the sky one rope came loose. It slithered to the ground. The plank seat clattered down with it. The girls screamed.
Sandy came swinging back toward the ground, dangling by one hand from the good rope. He swung past his friends on the ground and up the other side.
Beanie shouted, “Use the magic password, Sandy!”
Sandy got two hands on the rope and both legs wrapped around it.
He heard Beanie’s shout, but he felt safe now, and enjoyed the thrill of swinging back and forth like a pendulum in a clock. Here was a mishap that had turned out to be fun after all.
Greenie scolded Beanie for his careless job in tying the rope around the branch. Sandy dragged his feet on the ground and slowed to a halt.
Beanie fastened the loose end of the rope again, this time very securely, and checked the other rope. Greenie inserted the seat, and the swing was ready again.
The Green Rangers took turns swinging on the highest swing in the world. Once in a while Beanie would use his glide ray for added power. He would swing up so high that he disappeared into the tree.
Mitty kept clear of the swing, but Tom had a good time chasing the swing back and forth and barking happily. Tom even tried to climb on the swing, but flopped off promptly.
The children played “hide-and-seek” next. This was great fun until they discovered that you could find anyone anywhere in the Tall Tomato Tree by shouting “Up to Veta!” and naming the Green Ranger you were seeking. The tree always obeyed the magic password.
After lunch the Green Rangers took a final trip in the Bon Voyage. Suzy and Sandy wanted to visit places they were not likely to reach without the aircraft.
They selected the statue of the city’s Founder atop of City Hall as their first stop. Greenie landed the Bon Voyage on the Founder’s hat.
Sandy leaned out the window and wrote in chalk on the Founder’s hat, “Sandy was here.”
Beanie borrowed the chalk from Sandy and added, “with Beanie.”
The next stop was the bell tower in the cathedral. Greenie brought the Bon Voyage to rest on an open window ledge of the tower.
Sandy stepped out of the Bon Voyage and stood on the ledge. He could touch one of the great bells in the carillon with his hand.
Beanie handed him a mallet made of tomato leaves. Sandy tapped the bell softly several times with the mallet. The bell spoke in a deep, beautiful tone that thrilled the Green Rangers.
Sandy had another place he was anxious to visit -- the roof of his school. When Greenie set the Bon Voyage down on the school roof, everyone got out to stretch.
They learned why Sandy wanted to visit the school roof. It was covered with balls of all kinds that had been thrown or batted there by boys playing in the schoolyard.
Sandy found two balls that belonged to him. The Green Rangers had fun throwing the rest of the balls down into the schoolyard.
Greenie completed the final tour of the Bon Voyage with a speedy dash from one end of the city to the other. Suzy and Sandy were sorry to leave the wonderful little craft when they got back to the summer house in the Tall Tomato Tree.
“There’s one job still to be done,” Greenie said as they stepped out of the Bon Voyage.
“What’s that?” Sandy asked.
“We have to pick the ripe tomatoes,” Greenie replied.
“Oh, boy!” said Sandy. “I could eat one right now!”
They went down to a branch where they could see the red ripe tomatoes.
There were four tomatoes, each as big as a pumpkin. They dangled in the sunlight from the end of the stem.
“How can we pick them?” Suzy asked.
In answer, Beanie used his glide ray to hover directly under one of the tomatoes. His head touched the bottom of the tomato. He reached up with his hands and gave the tomato a quick twist. It came off the stem, and Beanie floated slowly to the ground with outstretched arms and the tomato balanced on his head.
“Look, Sandy! No hands!” he cried.
Sandy clapped his hands. “That’s great!” he said. “I want to pick one.”
“Don’t be silly!” Suzy said.
“You can’t pick one without a gravity neutralizer or a glide ray,” said Greenie. “I’ll pick one for you. You can carry it down to the ground with the magic password.”
This satisfied Sandy. Greenie repeated Beanie’s operation to pick a tomato and brought it to Sandy on the branch.
Sandy insisted that Greenie place the tomato on his head.
“I want to carry it the way Beanie did. That was neat!”
“Well, if you insist,” said Greenie. He balanced the huge tomato on Sandy’s head. Sandy staggered under the weight. He regained his balance and gave the magic password, “Down to Earth!:
The branches swirled, and Sandy was swished down to the ground quickly. Unfortunately, the magic password took Sandy, but not the tomato, down to earth.
When Sandy was whisked from under it, the tomato plummeted straight to the ground.
Even more unfortunately, Sandy got down faster than the tomato. As Sandy’s feet touched the ground, the soft tomato landed right smack on top of his head, and split wide open.
Sandy was drenched in tomato juice and pulp from head to foot. He looked mighty miserable.
Smothering their giggles, the Green Rangers rushed to his aid. They wiped off as much of the tomato as they could.
“It tastes good!” Sandy exclaimed, smacking his lips. Then he ran in the house for a shower.
The Green Rangers decided to take a nap before dinner so they would be refreshed for the great evening ahead.
Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie packed all their belongings and equipment after dinner. Suzy, Sandy, Tom, and Mitty joined them on the veranda of the summer house in the Tall Tomato Tree at eight o’clock.
The Green Rangers were sad. This was their last hour together. No one felt like talking. Teenie suggested that they go up to her shelter at the top of the Tall Tomato Tree.
They wandered around on the carousel platform and patted the heads of their favorite mounts.
They admired the wonderful view again. It was dark, but the street lights shone brightly, outlining the pattern of streets below. On the country roads the headlights of the automobiles traced their motion.
The stars sparkled overhead. The Milky Way glowed in a bright path across the sky. The moon peered over the horizon.
It was close to nine o’clock. The children began scanning the sky for signs of the Veta spacecraft.
Suzy couldn’t see very well. There were tears in their eyes.
“Five minutes to nine,” Greenie announced.
“Just five minutes more on Earth,” Teenie sighed.
After what appeared to be a long time, Greenie said, “Four minutes to go!”
“Which way will the spaceship come?” Sandy asked.
“From directly overhead,” Greenie replied. “However, we should see it flash across the sky as it entered Earth’s atmosphere.”
Everyone scanned the heavens again very carefully.
“Three minutes to go,” Greenie said.
“Oh! I see a falling star!” Suzy exclaimed.
“That’s it!” said Teenie. “That’s our spaceship!”
“Hurrah!” Beanie shouted.
The “falling star” disappeared.
“Two minutes!” said Greenie. “Let’s get down to the summer house.”
The Green Rangers obeyed quickly.
A heavy mist began to rise from the ground. It enveloped the watchers. It was so thick they couldn’t see one another.
Tom and Mitty were nervous. Tom nuzzled close to Sandy. Mitty crowded against Suzy.
“This mist is created by the engineer of our spaceship to conceal the ship when it comes close to the ground,” Greenie explained.
Greenie looked at his watch again and called out, “One minute to go!” His voice trembled. “Don’t move now. Wait for the ship to touch the veranda!”
Everyone remained quiet. They began a silent count down of the seconds.
A few seconds before nine o’clock the mist rolled away from the veranda, and they were bathed in a soft green light.
At exactly nine o’clock a great silver craft nosed out of the mist and glided silently to the veranda.
A hatch opened in the side of the space craft.
Teenie, Greenie, and Beanie saw their mother waiting for them. They raced into her arms, and hugged and kissed her as if they hadn’t seen her for a year.
They didn’t forget their guests. They beckoned to Suzy and Sandy to enter the spaceship. Tom and Mitty followed as usual. The hatch closed behind them. Teenie introduced Suzy and Sandy and their pets to her mother.
Teenie’s mother then led them through a passageway to a large circular room. Other children from Veta were there to meet them.
Suzy and Sandy and their pets were introduced and received a warm welcome.
Greenie, Teenie, and Beanie exchanged enthusiastic greetings with their many friends.
Greenie led the Green Rangers to a table at the side of the room where refreshments awaited them.
The children talked happily and rapidly as they ate. The Green Rangers found it impossible to answer all the questions the other Veta children asked.
Suzy and Sandy enjoyed the refreshments. They couldn’t identify anything they ate, but everything tasted good.
When the children finished eating, Greenie said to Suzy and Sandy, “We have a special surprise for you.”
He led them up a ramp to the hull of the spaceship and pressed a button.
A panel opened to reveal a large window.
“Look!” he said.
“Oh! It’s a big globe of the world!” Sandy exclaimed.
“It is your world!” said Teenie. “While we were chatting and eating, our spaceship moved fifty thousand miles above the Earth.”
“The Earth certainly is beautiful from space!” Suzy exclaimed to Teenie.
“You are the first people on Earth to see it from here,” Teenie replied.
Suzy and Sandy were thrilled at the marvelous sight.
“Thank you so much for making your promise come true!” Suzy said to Teenie. She kissed her.
Sandy and Beanie were too busy looking at the world to make any comment.
As they watched, the Earth seemed to get bigger and bigger. The spaceship was speeding back to Earth and to the Tall Tomato Tree. The great adventures of the Green Rangers were drawing to a close.
Greenien said that the captain of the spaceship had directed him to remove all traces of their visit to Earth.
Sandy asked, “Will the Bon Voyage have to go too?”
“Yes, Sandy,” replied Greenie. “Everything will disappear except one little souvenir to remind you of the tallest tree in the world and our visit with you.”
Greenie led the Green Rangers through the passageway. A hatch opened, and there was the veranda of the summer house in the Tall Tomato Tree! They were home again.
There was much handshaking and kissing, and some tears as they bade one another farewell and bon voyage.
Reluctantly, Suzy and Sandy gave the magic password, “Down to Earth!” They were wafted gently to the ground by the Tall Tomato Tree for the last time.
Greenie came down to the ground with Tom and Mitty. He had a little vial in his hand. He poured the liquid from the vial on the ground around the trunk of the Tall Tomato Tree.
“Au revoir, folks,” said Greenie. “I hope we can visit you again soon. Au revoir!” He glided up into the tree into the waiting spaceship.
“Good-by and good luck!” Sandy shouted.
“Farewell and bon voyage!” Suzy called.
The Tall Tomato Tree shivered and began to shrink. It shrank as fast as it had grown.
Suzy and Sandy watched this miracle sadly. Soon the Tall Tomato Tree was just a frail little tomato plant again, only a bit taller than it was a week ago when Suzy and Sandy planted it on Miracle Mountain.
There was one difference. Right on top was a shining red marble. It may have been the great beacon light on top of the Tall Tomato Tree.
“My souvenir!” shouted Sandy. He picked it up and clutched it fondly in his hand.
The mist cleared away Suzy and Sandy looked up. Gone was the Tall Tomato Tree. Gone was the spaceship, and with it some dear friends that they would never forget.
“Down to Earth!” said Suzy. “How true!”
“But someday ‘Up to Veta!’ I hope,” said Sandy.
“Oh, I hope so too,” Suzy replied as she put her arm around Sandy’s shoulder. They walked slowly to the house, trailed by Tom and Mitty. They paused a moment to look up at the sparkling stars in the dark sky. Then they entered their house and closed the door on a great adventure.
Reinhold W. Goll was born and educated in Philadelphia. He was graduated from Central High School and the School of Pedagogy.
In World War I, he was an ensign in the U.S. Navy. Subsequently, he received degrees of B.S. and M.S. in education from Temple University, and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Goll has served for many years in the public schools of Philadelphia as teacher, supervisor, and principal. At present he is principal of the Louis H. Farrell School in the northeastern section of the city and lives in Lynnewood Gardens, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania.
He is married and has two sons and a daughter who account for six lively grandchildren. His hobby is color photography. Favorite subject, children, of course.
Dr. Goll has written articles on professional topics for teachers and school administrators, and has collaborated in writing a series of health books. The Visitors from Planet Veta is his first venture in writing fiction for children.