It was a rainy California afternoon in February, and Willie and Grace were doing their geography homework on Grace's kitchen table. Furball was curled up in front of the wood stove, and Rosie the cockatiel was chortling quietly to herself in her cage by the window. The subject at hand was a map of the nation of Tamboo.
"Have you ever heard of Tamboo, Willie?" Grace asked. "It's in the Himalaya Mountains, just north of India. I never knew it existed!"
"Me either," said Willie as he chewed on his pencil. "Hey, look at this!" Willie had turned to the next page in his text book. "Look at this picture, Grace!"
Grace peered at the page and saw a photograph of a lake in Tamboo. On the shore of the lake stood a tall gray bird with fancy purple tail feathers. "That bird looks familiar!" she exclaimed. "It's the same bird as the one on that gadget we found up on Bean Mountain last week!"
"It sure does look like the same kind of bird. Let's see, the caption says it's a Tamboo heron and they are the national bird of Tamboo." Willie looked thoughtful.
"I wonder if Aunt Betty knows about this," he said.
"Why don't you call her and tell her?" suggested Grace as she scritched Furball's ears.
"Good idea!" Willie dialed his aunt's number. It rang and rang and rang. "That's funny, she should be at the shop this time of day. I wonder why she isn't answering her phone?"
"Let's ride our bikes down to her shop," suggested Grace. "We can take our geography book so she can see the picture."
As the two friends were peddaling their bikes towards the Beantown's main street, they discussed the situation. "What connection can there be between an exotic Asian water bird and 'Springs of Hope' radio show?" Willie pondered as he peddaled.
"I dunno- Willie, look at Aunt Betty's store! The window is broken!
Sure enough, the small window in the store's front door was broken. Willie gave the door a gentle push, and it swung open. "Careful you don't step on the glass," he cautioned as he stepped into the dark store. "Aunt Betty! Aunt Betty, are you ok?"
Grumpus, Aunt Betty's old cat, was standing in the middle of the shop. He was meowing and looked upset. Grace heard a moan from behind the counter. It was Aunt Betty! She was on the floor and tied up!
"Aunt Betty! Let me help you!" Willie and Grace untied the ropes that were tied around the lady's wrists and ankles. She hopped right up.
"Thanks, kids," she said as she rubbed her wrists. "I'm ok- no harm done."
"What happened?" said Willie and Grace at the same time.
"Well, after you left yesterday, I made a phone call to a friend in England. I wanted to ask him a question about that odd-looking gizmo that you found. My Friend, Mr. Peabody, thought he knew what the thing was, and he was very alarmed! After I talked to him, I became alarmed, too, and locked the front door to the shop. I was getting ready to make another phone call, when someone broke the window. They reached a hand in and unlocked the door. The next thing I knew, I was tied up and stowed behind the counter. I couldn't see anything else that happened, but I could hear that there were two men. They rummaged around a while, turned out the lights, and left."
"I bet we are all thinking the same thing! Aunt Betty, where did you put the gizmo?"
"I put it the teapot right over here on the table... Let's see...."