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<span> Skip led the group a short distance into the forest, then entered a clearing where he stopped short and whispered,  Look! </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello and Kelton stared in open-mouthed amazement. </span><span> Directly ahead, in the center of a small clearing, stood the strangest contraption they had ever seen. </span><span>It looked something like a bathtub sitting on a sponge with strange pictures drawn upon the tub s sides. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  This is our Starflight, Skip declared proudly. </span><span>  It will take us where we want to go, but it is powered by the stars so we travel only at night. </span><span> Won t you please have a seat? </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> When all four had climbed inside, Skip spun a knob and the contraption flew high into the air, then landed on a treetop. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Now we can really go, Flip bubbled. </span><span> Skip twisted the knob again, sending the unique vehicle flitting from treetop to treetop. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello gazed around in wonder. </span><span> The trees were crowned in cream as the moon slowly sailed over them.</span><span> He imagined the prospector staring at the same moon from some lonely spot in the desert, where he had bid him good-bye. </span> </p> <p> <center> <img id="image_11" src="image_s_11.jpg" onfocus="this.src='image_f_11.jpg';" onblur="this.src='image_s_11.jpg';" alt="Furello, Kelton, Flip, and Skip are flying in Starflight." tabIndex = 0> </center> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  We must hurry, he reminded himself. </span><span> Furello and Kelton fell asleep, but were aroused when they came to a jerking halt atop a giant oak tree. </span><span> The two friends blinked and yawned into the first rays of the sun. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Well, good morning, friends, Skip said cheerily. </span><span>  This is as far as it goes for now; we are out of star power. </span><span> He then motioned for Kelton and Furello to follow. </span><span>They picked their way down a small flight of stairs built into the tree. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> At the bottom, nestled between two gigantic limbs, was a spacious tree house.</span><span> A neatly-carved plaque over the door read: The Wrens. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Skip tapped on the door and it flew open, revealing Mrs. Wren. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Oh, it s Skip and Flip! she exclaimed, hugging the two of them happily. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  What s cooking? asked Skip. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Oh, you two, she laughed.</span><span>  Food is always the first thing on both of your minds. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Gosh, ma am, we re sure happy to see you, Flip chimed in. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  And I m happy to see you, she replied, glancing up at the elk and the unicorn. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Well, how do you do? Won t you all come in? </span><span> She led them into the roomy tree house. </span><span> In one corner, four baby wrens chirped loudly.</span><span> Flip, grinning with satisfaction, scooted across the floor and dropped berries into their wide-open beaks. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  I sure do like the little ones, she said. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> As Mrs. Wren chatted and bent over her stove, Mr. Wren trudged into the house. </span><span> A heavy bag of worms was slung over his shoulder. </span> </p> <p> <center> <img id="image_12" src="image_s_12.jpg" onfocus="this.src='image_f_12.jpg';" onblur="this.src='image_s_12.jpg';" alt="Furello and his friends meet the Wrens." tabIndex = 0> </center> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Oh, my, he sighed as he shoved the bag of worms into a closet and slumped into his easy chair. </span><span>  It seems the worms pull back harder every day. </span><span> When he saw Skip and Flip, his eyes brightened. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Well, well, what are you two youngsters doing in these parts? </span><span> He hugged them close with his right wing. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Just passing through, Skip replied. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Well, what a pleasant surprise, he said, then looked at Furello and Kelton. </span><span> And who are your handsome friends? </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Flip introduced Furello and Kelton and explained,  They are trying to get their ships back. </span><span> You know, Mr. Fobknot and... </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Oh, I see, Mr. Wren cut in. </span><span>  The royal scavengers. </span><span> That s a shame. </span><span>Where were you going? </span><span> With this question his glance was drawn to Furello. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  We were searching for the answer to the question: </span><span>What is the most important thing in the world? </span><span> Furello replied brightly. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Oh, said Mr. Wren,  that s easy. </span><span> He looked fondly at Mrs. Wren, who was busy scooping hot cereal into bowls. </span><span> Mrs. Wren smiled back at him and then at the little birds who were hopping up and down. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Sunlight filtered in through a large window while sounds of forest animals rose from below. </span><span> Mrs. Wren brought cereal over to the big wooden table and they all gathered around it and ate. </span><span> For the remainder of the day, they discussed Furello s question and sipped wild blackberry juice. </span><span> Other forest animals visited from time to time and offered their opinions, too. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Mr. and Mrs. Wren agreed that a happy family life was most important, but Billy Hawk thought differently. </span><span>  Keen eyesight, was all Billy said when asked the question. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  It s most important to store a large cache of nuts for the winter, stated Dominic Squirrel firmly. </span><span> And so it went. </span><span> Each had something which he thought was most important. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello had not heard an answer he thought would help the old prospector, so he was pleased when night came and they were again flitting across the treetops. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Gazing at the stars above, Furello felt very alone. </span><span> He longed to be with others like himself--to have a family. </span><span> The journey seemed to ramble on and on, and still they had not found an answer for the prospector. </span><span> Again, the gardener s eyes flashed before Furello. </span><span>  How did the gardener know so much about me? Furello wondered. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> The moon arched across the black sky as the vehicle sped through the night.</span><span> Then, with a last great leap, the starship landed on a small bush and came to rest. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  This is as far as we can take you fellows, said Skip. </span><span> We ve run out of trees. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span> Furello stared in front of him. </span><span> All he could see was darkness. </span><span> The trees stood behind them like a giant dark curtain. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  But...but, where do we go from here? asked the worried Kelton. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Just wait  till the sun peeps out, then follow the letters. </span><span> Furello and Kelton climbed out and said good-bye. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Thank you, they added gratefully. </span> </p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp; <span>  Think nothing of it, drawled Skip. </span><span>  We enjoyed taking you. </span><span> Well, so long, he waved. </span><span>He twisted a knob and, like a giant grasshopper, the flying ship hopped to the top of a tree and vanished from view. </span> </p> <br> <br> <br> <a href="chapter_10.html">Click here to go to Chapter 10.</a> <br><br><br> <!-- #EndEditable --></td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign="top" bgcolor="#000000"> <table width="100%" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0"> <tr> <td><a href="http://www.host-central.net"><img src="../images/template_design_r6_c1.jpg" width="773" height="22" border="0"></a></td> </tr> </table> </td> </tr> </table> </body> <!-- InstanceEnd --></html>