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AFTER THE EXPLOSION

CHAPTER 20

The story so far: Just when Philip is about to free Amanda, Judge Peebles shoots his shotgun at them.

The pellets from the shotgun blast went over Philip's head. Amanda was not so lucky. Most of the green fur on the top of her head was shaved away, leaving her bald.

And the shot did hit the window full blast, blowing the glass to smithereens. Fortunately, the animals outside, having seen the judge and his gun, had scattered to safety just before the gun went off.

As the smoke cleared, Philip, seeing the window was no longer there, leaped outside. Quickly, he turned back and grabbed hold of Amanda and tried to pull her along.

"Oh, no you don't," the judge yelled. Flinging his gun to one side, he snatched at Amanda but only managed to grasp her boots. Amanda was now being pulled two ways: Toward the outside by Philip, toward the inside by the judge.

"Help!" Amanda cried. "I'm being split in two!"

It was then that Gloria reached the window. Seeing her daughter's predicament and, moreover, understanding what Philip was doing, she began to pull on him. It was enough to tip the balance. Amanda popped free from her boots and tumbled outside.

The judge, still clinging to Amanda's boots, reeled back the other way. Even as he did, Joe _ trying to escape the house _ burst into the room. The judge, all but flying through the air, struck the thief, knocked him flat on his back and landed right on top of his chest.

When the judge looked down at Joe he said, "You're under arrest!"

Joe looked up, saw it was the judge and fainted.

As for Philip, Amanda and Gloria, they landed in a tangled heap on the front porch. At first all the animals looking on simply gawked. The next moment, they rushed foreword, scooped Amanda up, and carried her to the waiting locomotive. Philip and his mother tumbled after her.

As soon as they got into the cab Philip shoved the power lever down. Steam hissed, smoke billowed and the whistle shrieked. The old Denver & Rio Grande locomotive let forth a great groan, went into reverse, and began to rumble back down Broadway, exactly the way it had come.

A dazed and still wet Amanda was shoved into a corner and immediately surrounded by a fierce guard of squirrels, raccoons and rabbits.

"Where are we?" she asked as she looked into the stern faces of her guards.

"You're about to learn a lesson," Hubert informed her.

Upon reaching the corner of Broadway and Canyon the locomotive slipped right back onto its regular tracks. Once there Philip applied the brakes. Gradually, the train came to a halt, bumping gently into the passenger car, which had never moved. With a massive hiss of steam, the old engine released its energy and settled back down as if to sleep for another 40 years.

As soon the engine stopped, Amanda was grabbed by her animal guards and marched off the train.

"Hey, bozos! Where are you taking me?" she demanded.

"You'll see. You'll see," the geese cried.

With Hubert leading the way and Philip and Gloria following, Amanda was marched forcibly toward the creek. There, near a bend in the tumbling waters, where thick bushes had grown close to the water, was a small jail cell built of thorny twigs, which had been constructed by the squirrels.

"In she goes!" Hubert cried.

Pickwick held the entry way open and Amanda was thrust inside.

"But what's going to happen to me?" Amanda cried as the entry way was closed, bound shut and Rebecca took up position to keep her from escaping.

"Tomorrow night," Hubert informed her, "you go on trial!"

On Sunday: Amanda Learns Her Fate

Reprinted with permission of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Copyright 1997 Avi

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