Bollygoggle looked surprised, so much so that a gnat flew in and out of his open mouth without him even noticing. “Me? Disrespect the Chronicler?”
“You are the one always complaining,” said Harnswiggle haughtily.
“Me, go home without you?” gasped Bollygoggle.
“You are the one saying that you never were wanting to come. So fine. Go home!”
Bollygoggle shoved his hands in his pockets, and trailed the toe of his shoe in the dirt, and looked extremely crestfallen.
Harnswiggle put her hands on her hips. “Are you sorry?”
He nodded vehemently.
“For what? For being a Grumgobber?”
Bollygoggle started to set his jaw and cross his arms, but he knew she was right. So he nodded again, albeit a little less energetically.
“Then you apologize to Mavey, and maybe we let you come with us.”
“I’m sorry for calling you a sicko,” said Bollygoggle to Mavis. “Although it is--”
“Bollygoggle,” cautioned Harnswiggle.
“Totally fine to be a sicko. If you were one, which you are not.”
“I forgive you,” said Mavis softly.
Harnswiggle shook her head at him, still angry that he would do such a thing. “Come on, we are needing to keep going.”
They started walking again, Mavis slower than before, and not seeming to enjoy it. Roger had noticed that she hadn’t said anything during that whole exchange, and it bothered him. He could tell by the way that her shoulders were starting to droop that she would need to lay down soon. It was how she looked all the time back home, in the “normal” world. But she had never looked like that here. He had thought that she would always be better off in Otherworld.
He wasn’t the only one watching Mavis wilt with concern. Harnswiggle was keeping a close eye on her, and that was why when they reached a clearing with a stump in the center, she motioned for them to halt. “King Rangoon is coming by here very often to hunt. Let us hope that he will being coming this way today, and much walking we will be saving.”
“Sit,” added Harnswiggle. “And wait.”
Mavis lowered herself down and propped elbows on her knees and her head in her hands.
“King Ragoon is a funny name,” said Roger, looking at her out of the corner of his eyes.
She half smiled.
“Why don’t you trying resting while we are waiting?” suggested Harnswiggle. “Bollygoggle and I will keep watch.”
“There’s nowhere comfortable to lie down,” Mavis mumbled.
Roger stretched his legs out and patted his thigh. With a sigh of relief, Mavis curled up next to him and rested her head on his leg. It was moments like these, Roger cradling her head in his lap, that made Mavis and Roger wonder if somehow they hadn’t gotten switched. That he was really meant to have been the older brother, and she was meant to have been the young sister.
The shadows moved across the ground until it was late afternoon. Roger couldn’t help wondering if any time was passing in the home world--if Grandma and Grandpa had woken up and they hadn’t been there. He didn’t really care about what Linda thought. She could make up a thousand nasty and untrue reasons for them to have disappeared. But he knew that Grandma would be out of her mind with worry, and that that would frighten Grandpa. Roger felt a tightness in his chest when he thought about that, because when his parents had dropped them off, they had told them that they were not to create any stress or worry for Grandma. Tending to Grandpa was hard enough, Dad had said, without them adding any stupidity to it. And, Mom had added forcefully, there was no telling what might affect Grandpa. Did they want to give him another stroke?
But there was nothing Roger could do about any of that, at least not in the moment. So he mustered his cheerfulness and told himself that it was like Narnia-- it had to be. There would be no time lost when they got back.
When they got back?
If they got back.
Mavis’ head was getting heavy on his leg. Sweat, just the tiniest drops of it, were beginning to run down his back inside his shirt. He was thirsty.
Still they saw no one and no thing.
“Is he not coming?” asked Roger at last, weary with thinking and waiting.
“He is coming,” said Harnswiggle. “Be patient, humansperson.”
But Roger didn’t feel like being patient. He felt like being angry. And sad. And frustrated. This whole thing was a mess. And even if it worked, they would only get Mavis back to the way she was before.