The Renewed Magic Bottle
At the same time the sun had just risen over Aubachtal. Nothing stirred in the small town. That is, almost nothing, for the Bobble family already were rather tizzy.
“Why have we to get up that early? We only have to be there at ten o’clock.”
“Simply because we have to pack some things, Bruno. And you are always loitering, so we have to be off in time.”
Elfrida was excited. As matter of fact she was simmering with excitement and hardly could wait. Since four o’clock in the morning she had not been able to sleep and again and again had looked at her alarm clock. This was the red-letter day and she thought of thousand things. Would they really land in Scotland? How fared their friends, the hamsters? Would they find them?
Elfrida glanced at Bruno.
“Do you really want to take along your cars?” she growled.
“Just some of them: the Lamborghini, the Ferrari…”
Elfrida rolled her eyes.
“Take this wrist band and put it on. If you have to talk to the natives, you’ll need this.”
Bruno took it and fastened it at his wrist. Elfrida was already wearing hers and ponderingly looked at her doll Dolly.
“I think I’ll leave Dolly at home, she might get lost. They say there are ghosts in Scotland and perhaps they also nick dolls or cars.”
With satisfaction she watched her brother unpacking his cars. Now their small rucksacks were filled with the most necessary things. Elfrida had listed everything up. After checking if they had socks, extra shoes and the like it was time for a last breakfast. They stuffed themselves and when they had put the dishes into the sink they could start.
Punctually they arrived at the bus stop. All their friends also had rucksacks on their backs. Rosie’s rucksack however was double the size of the others and Bertha mocked: “Are you afraid to starve during the journey? No need to take the fridge along.”
Luckily at this moment the bus arrived so that no quarrel between the two pigs came up. When they had reached the lighthouse bus stop they flounced out of the bus in a style that the driver looked after them, shaking his head. Impatiently they ran to the professor’s lighthouse. Rosie twice stumbled and fell with her heavy rucksack. The lighthouse door was wide open. As the lift still was defect, the friends ran up the 365 stairs to the professor’s lab in record time. But how surprised and disappointed were they when they did not find anyone. Professor Hasty was not in.
“O no”, Daisy cried. “Where might he be? We want to be off!”
Downcast, they all sat down on the floor. No one spoke. They sat for some minutes and looked at each other helplessly. Finally Rosie started to open her rucksack.
They all watched her getting out a roll with cheese.
“Munch, munch, munch, that’s all you know!” Bertha was disgusted. “We have no idea how to go on, but Miss Rosie fills her belly!”
“So what?” Rosie smacked. “We also would have no idea how to go on if I were not eating.”
That was quite logical and Bertha was silenced. Except for Rosie’s smacking there was no sound in the laboratory.
About half an hour had passed when suddenly they lifted their heads and frowned.
“Do you also hear these funny noises?” Bernie asked.
Before anybody could answer, the room filled with fog. The noise, which at first had been like a low whistling, became very loud. Terrified, the children jumped up because the fog became so dense that they could not see anything. There was a groan and when the fog cleared they saw it: Professor Hasty. It was him who had groaned so loudly. As matter of fact he looked completely changed, his body was covered with a thick layer of ice, even his ears were icicled.
A whisper emerged from his icy, almost frozen lips: “Help!” Then he broke down.
“Quick!” Elfried shouted who was the first to compose herself again. “Get a fan heater and some rugs!”
“And a mop to clean up!” Bertha said.
The friends ran higgedly-piggedly, looking for something to help the professor. Rosie was still sitting on the floor. Like for a picnic her sandwiches were distributed all around her. Now she had to watch helplessly how her food was trampled down by the feet of her excited friends. She desperately collected the sandwiches before they could be completely squished.
The professor was wrapped in rugs and laid down in front of the fan heater. Very slowly the ice began to melt. Again and again Elfrida and Daisy changed the wet rugs with new, dry ones while Bertha every time wiped the floor.
Finally Professor Hasty opened his eyes. He looked first at the children, then at the fan heater. With a flat voice he said: “That does me good! Heaven, it was cold!” With trembling hands he searched his frozen pocket und shouted: “It is still there!”
“What is still there, Professor?” Jenny asked.
“The magic bottle, what else?”
“You mean – it works?” Elfrida excitedly asked.
“O yes”, Professor Hasty beamed. “I wanted to experience something special. I wanted to go to the coldest spot on Earth. Perhaps it wasn’t a frightfully good idea, but no matter. Do you know where the cold pole on Earth is and how cold it is there?”
He peered at the children. None of them seemed to know an answer until Bruno’s voice came from the background: “That’s at the South Pole, also called Antarctic. The Antarctic is the coldest, stormiest, and driest continent. Minus 98.2 degrees Celcius was the deepest temperature ever measured there. Even on a warm summer day the medium temperature is minus 20 degree. In the central Antarctic the thermometer hardly ever goes beyond minus 50 degree.”
“The North Pole is as cold”, Bertha bossily said, but Bruno knew better:
“No, the annual medium in the Arctic is about 30 degrees Celcius higher. The reason is that the South Pole is a continent rising about 1,800 meters beyond sea level. A temperature drop of 1 degree per 100 metres makes all the difference.”
“You might have eaten a textbook”, the professor smiled. “Do you also know the animals living there?”
“At the North Pole there are polar bears. Polar bears normally are loners. They walk over long distances over the arctic islands and ice. Due to their excellent sense of smell…”
“Bruno!” Elfrida interrupted. “We want to go to Scotland today – remember?”
“… and penguins are living at the South Pole”, Bruno quickly finished his lecture.
“If we are back home, Bruno, you will lend me some of your books!” Bernie was all admiration but now turned, like the others, to Professor Hasty, who continued his report: “So, to the coldest spot of the Earth I wanted to go. You see, now you also can regulate the magic bottle on temperature. I wanted to try whether it works and selected the lowest temperature possible.”
“But Professor”, Elfrida objected, “if we enter the Scottish temperature, we might as well land somewhere else where it is as warm or cold.”
“Not if you add the direction, Elfrida”, the professor reassured her.
Suddenly the girl stared at Professor Hasty and shouted: “You don’t stammer any longer. How can that be?”
Now also the other children and even the professor noticed it! What had happened to his stammer? Since the unhappy experiment when his lab exploded he had be stammering.
Happily he shouted: "That was the cold pole or the magic bottle! I don't know and it doesn't matter. I think it's just great!"
The professor and his friends could hardly calm down over this unexpected healing, but finally Elfrida cried: "How about a swell party when we are back? But now we really have to leave!"
All agreed to this, of course, and Professor Hasty showed the children how to adjust the magic bottle.
Then the time had come: The friends had the feeling that the lighthouse was turning round and round. Fog came up and grew thicker and thicker. All of a sudden the twisting stopped, the fog vanished. Cautiously the friends looked about them. Words failed them, only Rosie said: "Boooh!"