Annie peeked into Jack’s room. “Ready?” she whispered. “Yep,” said Jack. Even though it was two hours before school started, Jack and Annie were already dressed. Jack put his notebook and pencil into his backpack. Then he picked up the pack and his sneakers and followed Annie into the hall. In their sock feet, Jack and Annie tiptoed past their parents’ bedroom. Then they slipped down the stairs. When they reached the front hall, Jack and Annie put on their jackets and shoes and stepped outside. The early-morning sky was gray. Everything was quiet, except for the sound of a gentle spring rain. “Should we get our raincoats?” Jack asked. “It’s clearing up,” said Annie. She pointed to blue sky in the distance. “Oh, good,” said Jack. “Let’s hurry.” Jack and Annie stepped off their porch. Then they ran up the sidewalk and crossed the street. By the time they started into the Frog Creek woods, the rain had stopped. Misty rays of sunlight slanted down through the wet trees. Jack and Annie kept going until they came to the tallest oak. The leaves at the top of the tree sparkled with raindrops, and the magic tree house was lit by the morning sun. “It’s waiting for us,” said Jack. “I knew it would be,” said Annie. She grabbed the rope ladder and started up. Jack climbed after her. Inside the tree house, they looked around for the two special things they had found on their last missions. “Great, they’re still here,” said Jack, pointing to a green jewel and a white and yellow flower in the corner. “And it looks like Teddy and Kathleen sent some stuff for us,” said Annie. Lying in the shadows was a book. Next to it were a small folded note and a tiny blue bottle. Jack picked up the book. Its cover showed an old black-and-white photograph of a building. It looked like the White House in Washington, D.C. Jack gasped. “Oh, man! Abraham Lincoln!” “Wow,” said Annie, looking at the book’s cover. “He was a great president.” “No kidding,” said Jack. “Do you think we’re actually going to meet him?” He opened the book to the first page and read aloud: Abraham Lincoln served as president of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He led the country through the terrible crisis of the American Civil War. He preserved the union of states and outlawed slavery. “I can’t believe it,” Jack said, closing the book. “Abraham Lincoln! Do you think he’s supposed to help us find the third thing to break the spell that turned Penny into a statue?” “Maybe,” said Annie. “Let’s see what else Teddy and Kathleen left for us. . . .” She picked up the tiny bottle and the note. She unfolded the note and read aloud: The third thing to break the spell is a single feather from a hero’s hand. Use it wisely to give him hope— the hope he needs to heal his land.
Jack opened his eyes. He’d been dreaming about running away from cobras. “What’s wrong?” he said, sitting up in bed. It was still dark outside.
“Nothing’s wrong,” whispered Annie. “We have to go to the tree house and come back before it’s time to get ready for school.”
“The tree house?” said Jack sleepily.
“Teddy and Kathleen may have translated the next lines of the spell,” said Annie. “We have to see if they’re there, or if they’ve sent a message.”
“Huh?” said Jack. He was still half-asleep.
“We have to find the second thing to break the spell that turned Penny to stone!” said Annie. “Remember? Come on, Jack, wake up!” She shook his shoulder.
“Okay, okay. We have to get the second thing!” Jack jumped out of bed. “I’m ready!”
“No, you’re not,” said Annie. “You have to put your clothes on. I’ll meet you downstairs.”
Annie left the room, and Jack quickly changed out of his pajamas and into jeans and a sweatshirt. He picked up his backpack and reached into an inside pocket. He pulled out the emerald rose they’d found in India. It was the first thing Teddy and Kathleen needed to break the spell and bring Penny back to life.
Jack grabbed his notebook and a pencil from his desk. He put them into his backpack along with the emerald rose. Then he slipped quietly out of his bedroom and down the stairs.
Annie was waiting on the front porch. The sky was just starting to become light. The spring air was damp and cool. Jack was glad that he had worn his sweatshirt.
“All set,” said Jack. “Let’s go.”
Jack and Annie ran across the wet grass of their front yard and dashed down the sidewalk. The houses they passed were all quiet, but the world of nature was awake with birdsong and dogs barking in the distance.
Jack and Annie crossed the street and headed into the Frog Creek woods. It was hard to see in the shadowy dark, but they were so familiar with the path to the tallest oak that they quickly found their way. The tree house was there, waiting for them. But no one was looking out the window.
“Darn, no Teddy and Kathleen,” said Annie.
“Well, at least they sent the tree house,” said Jack. “That must mean they were able to translate the next part of the ancient spell. They must have stayed in Camelot to work on the rest.”
“Yeah, probably,” said Annie. She grabbed the rope ladder and started up. Jack followed her.
Inside the tree house, daylight was starting to creep through the windows. Jack saw a small scroll on top of a book in the shadows. “That’s it!” he said. He picked it up and read aloud:
The second thing to break the spell is a white and yellow flower. Live its meaning for yourself, if only for an hour.
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