The floor of the tiny pantry opened up like a trapdoor on a magicbirdman’s stage and Ron fell through. He fell for about ten, maybe fifteen, maybe twenty seconds, maybe it was a minute, and landed on a bouncy pile of rubber tree leaves. Ron looked up and he could just see a dim square of light which was the trapdoor. He looked around, and as his eyes became used to the dark he saw a narrow tunnel. He entered the tunnel and followed it. It’s just another crazy dream! he thought. The tunnel passageway continued for a long time. Ron couldn’t see anything and had to feel the walls of the tunnel with his wingtips, but it seemed quite straight and there were no branches off the main tunnel.
Eventually he saw a thin band of light ahead, which he found was at the foot of a door. At the door he listened, holding his breath. All he could hear was some scratchy old music which he had heard somewhere a very long time ago. Ron gently turned the doorknob and opened the door about a centimetere.
“Hello, Benny!” said a voice. “What brings you here at such an early hour?”
Ron opened the door and saw a cave, except it was not quite like what you would expect a cave to look like. It was about the size of a large living-room and had some pieces of furniture, including a sideboard, a small table, a gramophone, a lamp and in the middle was a kind of deck chair/sofa like thing on which was reclining a strange-looking birdman.
The birdman, who had been looking the other way, through the entrance to the cave over a fantastic view of the Chilly Peaks, now turned to face Ron.
“Oh! Hello!” said the birdman. “Do I know you?”
Ron looked at him, unable to speak momentarily. The birdman had a white top-quiff-crest and a long red beak. He was wearing a red cape over a suit with boots.
“No, you don’t know me!” Ron eventually managed to say. “My name is Ron.”
“Ron?” said the strange birdman, followed by a pause. ”Hello, Ron! My name is Mars Boulder. I’m pleased to meet you!”
“Pleased to meet you, too!” said Ron politely. “I’m sorry to disturb you, but I just followed a recipe!”
“One of Benny’s recipes, was it? That’s perfectly all right, Ron!” said the birdman. “Come in! Take a seat!”
Ron hesitated, thinking he should make some excuse and leave as soon as possible, but his curiosity was stronger than his apprehension.
“Do you like music, Ron?” asked Mars Boulder. “I’m sure you do!”
“Yes,” said Ron.
“This is an old recording of the Antipasti Lounging Band,” explained Mars Boulder.
“Mmm,” said Ron. “What’s that picture?”
“Oh, yes. The artist is Foxmonster Fox. Good isn’t it?! Where are you from, Ron?” inquired Mars Boulder.
“I was born on top of a chimney in the Bumblingham Manor,” replied Ron.
“And who is your father?” asked Boulder.
“His name was Raglan Stork. He was extinquished by a flying axe-head.” said Ron.
“Oh, dear! I’m sorry to hear that.” said Boulder.
“My mother is o.k. though.” said Ron.
“That’s good,” said Boulder.
Ron told Mars Boulder all about his recent escapades, and Mars Boulder listened attentively, cheering or gasping accordingly. When Ron got to the present in the story it was quite late in the morning.
“I think that’s the airship now, just coming into view,” said Mars Boulder.
“Is it?!” cried Ron. “I’ve got to make soup! Quick, how do I get back to the Soup Shack?!”