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By Henry Winterfeld, Kyrill Schabert, Fritz Wegner
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
A Little Girl Came Flying
Walter was the first to discover the girl. She was huddled at the foot of a tree, smiling uncertainly.
"There's a girl sitting here in the middle of the forest," Walter called to the others.
"What sits where?" croaked Otto, crawling on his hands and knees out of the thick underbrush of spruce trees where he had been cutting mushrooms. With a knife clenched between his teeth, he looked like an Indian on the warpath.
It had rained during the night, and the children had gone into the Hollewood to pick mushrooms. They had ventured much farther in than ever before, right up to the big clearing.
Walter's sisters, Gretel and little Lottie, came skipping down a knoll.
"Where is the girl?" Gretel cried breathlessly.
"I see her. I see her," called Lottie, and clapped her hands in excitement.
The strange girl had not moved. She was about seven or eight years old, with blonde hair that touched her shoulders and very big violet-blue eyes. Her skin was as white as snow. She was beautifully dressed. She wore a short red coat over a blue silk dress, a small red cap, blue socks, and blue velvet pumps. Around her neck hung a string of huge clear stones, which sparkled like diamonds in the sun. The girl looked like a little princess and did not seem to belong in this lonely, wild forest. There was a nasty bruise on her forehead, as though she had bumped her head badly.
"What is your name?" Walter asked politely.
"Mo," said the girl.
"That is no name," Otto said with an air of importance. He took his glasses out of his pocket, put them on, and looked sternly at the girl. She blushed with embarrassment.
"Is that your first name or your last name?" Walter asked pleasantly.
"My father's name is Kalumba," the girl said. She had a soft, melodious voice, but it seemed a bit awkward and foreign.
"How old are you?" asked Walter.
"Eighty-seven years," said Mo.
The children looked puzzled.
"Eighty-seven years?" Walter said slowly. "You mean seven or eight years, don't you?"
"No," said Mo. "I am eighty-seven years old. I know exactly. My birthday was eight days ago."
Walter scratched his head. "That seems funny," he said, and looked bewildered.
Gretel kneeled beside the girl. "Are you sick?" she asked.
"No," said Mo. "I am very fine."
"You have a bad bruise on your forehead," said Gretel. "Did you bump your head?"
"It doesn't hurt," said Mo. She thumped it firmly with her finger, to prove that it did not hurt.
"We must bandage it," Walter said. "Has anyone a clean handkerchief?"
Gretel and Lottie hadn't any at all, and Otto, reluctantly, pulled a big checked one out of his pants pocket. It looked rather grimy.
"Would this do?" he asked.
"No," said Walter.
"I have a handkerchief," said Mo, and from her coat pocket she took a large white one. She showed it to Walter. "It belongs to my father. He lent it to me because I had forgotten mine."
Together, Walter and Gretel tied the handkerchief around her forehead.
"There," said Walter. "That will keep the dirt out."
Mo looked at him gratefully.
"How did you happen to get here?" Walter asked. "Did you lose your way?"
Mo shook her head.
"Where are you from, anyway?" he demanded.
"From up there!" said Mo, pointing.
Walter looked up at the tall spruce. "From the tree?" he asked skeptically.
"Higher than that," replied Mo.
"Maybe you dropped out of the clouds?" Otto asked mockingly.
"Higher than that," said Mo.
"Still higher?" The children gasped.
"Perhaps she came in a plane," said Gretel.
Mo nodded eagerly. "Yes," she said.
"Did you really come by plane?" Walter asked in consternation.
"Yes," Mo said. "I came in a space ship."
"W-w-wi — with a space ship?" stammered Walter.
"Yes — with a space ship."
The children were speechless.CHAPTER 2
A World-Shattering Event
The trees rustled softly in the wind. Somewhere in the forest a cuckoo called three times. With an angry chatter, a squirrel jumped from branch to branch, and from far away came the rumble of distant thunder. Then all was quiet again. The children stared at the little girl in amazement. After a while, Walter cleared his throat and asked, "Where are you from?"
"I'm from Asra."
"Asra —!" breathed Lottie excitedly.
"What is Asra?" asked Otto.
"Asra is a star," said Mo.
The children, without thinking, looked at the sky, but naturally in the daylight they could not see any stars.
"Are you perhaps from Mars?" asked Walter.
"I do not know what you call us," said Mo. "We call it Asra."
"But you look like a human being," said Otto suspiciously. He was suspicious by nature.
"We look very much like human beings," said Mo. "I learned that in school."
"But are you really eighty-seven years old?" demanded Lottie shyly. "That is the age of a grandmother."
"We stay young for hundreds of years," said Mo.
"Hundreds of years!" cried Gretel. "How old are your parents?"
"My parents are many thousands of years old," replied Mo.
The children looked dumbfounded. Even Otto was impressed, but he did not wish to show it and asked, "You're sure you're not lying?"
"What is that?" inquired Mo.
"You don't know what lying is?" piped Otto.
"No," said Mo.
"Lying," explained Otto, "is if you, for instance, steal a cookie from the cupboard and then say you did not do it."
"I did not steal any cookie," said Mo. "I don't know what a cookie is."
"You don't know what a cookie is?" exclaimed Otto indignantly.
Gretel snapped at him, "Leave her alone! Perhaps they don't have cookies on Asra!"
"The whole world knows cookies," insisted Otto.
"Shame on you," cried Lottie. "Your behavior is disgusting."
"For Pete's sake, shut up!" shouted Walter. "A miracle has happened, and you are fussing about a cookie. If this girl is really from a different planet, this is a world-shattering event."
"Yes, yes, a world-shattering event," squeaked Lottie, and excitedly hopped from one foot to the other.
Walter solemnly turned to Mo. "My name is Walter Brenner. This is Gretel, and this is Lottie. They are my sisters. This is my friend Otto. We salute you and bid you a warm welcome to earth." He extended his hand with ceremony. Mo seemed bewildered. Apparently she did not know that she was expected to shake Walter's hand.
"Good day," she said with a friendly smile, which revealed a row of pearly white teeth. In his embarrassment Walter withdrew his hand and stuck it into his pants pocket.
"Did you arrive in a space ship all by yourself?"
For the first time Mo gave a gay laugh. It sounded like the voice of a lark.
"Oh, no," she said. "That would be impossible. I came with my father."
The children looked around in fright.
"Where is your father?" asked Walter.
"My father went back to the Moon," said Mo.
"To the moon," shouted the children.
"I thought you came from Asra," Otto challenged with a frown.
"Oh, yes," said Mo. "We do come from Asra. We stopped off on your Moon. My father's friends gave us an escort with their space ship as far as the Moon. They are waiting for us there until we return from the Earth. Then we will all fly home together."
"Where is your mother?" asked Lottie eagerly.
"My mother is visiting on another planet," answered Mo.
Now all the children were talking at once. "What are your space ships like?" "Are they flying saucers?" "Are they big or small?"
"Our space ships are very beautiful," said Mo. "They are round and silvery."
"Do you use rocket propulsion?" asked Walter.
"Or atomic power?" chimed in Otto.
Mo placed her finger on her nose and seemed to reflect seriously. Then she said, "I don't know about such things. I'm just a little girl. It has something to do with magnetism, I think. Once my father tried to explain it to me, but I couldn't understand."
"Why didn't you fly back to the moon?" asked Gretel.
"How could I?" said Mo, laughing gaily again.
"Why not?" demanded the children.
"I fell out of our space ship by mistake," said Mo, chuckling.
"Fell out?" screamed the children. "Tell us. Tell us. How did it happen?" They sat down in the grass beside Mo and stared at her in fascination.CHAPTER 3
There Are Good Human Being
"Well — it happened this way," Mo began. "I begged my father to take me along to the Earth. I wanted to visit your planet. My father, you know, had told me so much of Earth — about the deep seas and high mountains, the great forests, the old-fashioned cities ..."
"How does your father know so much," interrupted Walter, completely amazed.
"My father is a grand master of Earth science," continued Mo. "He has studied about you for many thousands of years. He also has been here several times and collected stones and plants for our museum."
"Why didn't anyone see him?" asked Otto.
"He always landed in secret," said Mo, "in some lonely region, and only if it was still a bit dark. We wanted to land today, just before sunrise, on a large, open plateau, but something went wrong with the landing gear, and we kept hovering low over the forest. 'We cannot land,' said my father. 'We will have to return to the Moon.'
"'Oh, what a pity!' I said. 'It looks so lovely down there.' I was looking out of a porthole because I was anxious to see. I had never seen such funny trees. Our trees are quite different — but yours are nice too," she added tactfully.
The children listened entranced. Gretel's bow had come undone and her unruly curls hung over her face, but she did not notice it. Walter and Otto, hands clasped around their knees, bent forward without moving. Lottie was kneeling close to Mo and never took her eyes off her.
"What a beautiful necklace you have!" she said admiringly.
"My father gave it to me for my fiftieth birthday," said Mo. "My friends all get chains like this."
"Are the stones made of glass?" asked Walter.
"I do not know," answered Mo. "There are lots of stones like these on Asra."
"Don't always interrupt her," objected Gretel, impatiently pushing back her hair. "Please continue," she begged.
"I leaned out quite far," Mo went on, "to get a better look, and my father called 'Be careful. Don't lean out so far. Remember, here on Earth you weigh much more than at home.' 'Yes, Father,' I said, 'I'll be careful' — and then I tumbled out."
"Oh, how dreadful," cried Lottie.
"I fell on top of a tree and clung to it.
"'Mo, where are you?' my father called. 'Where are you? I can't see you.' My father stuck his head out of the porthole.
"'I fell out,' I shouted.
"'Yes, I noticed that,' my father called. 'But where are you? I can't see you.'
"'I'm sitting on a bar with a lot of prickly green needles,' I shouted.
"'Are you hurt?' Father called.
"'No,' I said. 'I am well.'
"'I can't help you,' my father called. His voice became more and more distant. Our space ship floated higher and higher.
"'What shall I do, Father?' I called. 'How can I stay alone on Earth?'
"'Climb down the tree,' my father shouted through a loud-speaker. I could scarcely see him.
"'Hide in the woods until it gets dark. Immediately after sunset, walk toward Asra until you come to a large, open field. I will pick you up there tonight. Be sure to be there. We will have no time to spare. We will have to return to Asra at once.'
"After that I couldn't hear him any more. The space ship vanished."
Mo fell silent, and the children looked at her full of sympathy.
"Did you cry?" asked Lottie, her voice choked with emotion.
"What is cry?" asked Mo naively.
Lottie was completely taken aback. She opened her mouth but could not speak.
"How did you get down from the tree?" asked Walter.
"I climbed down from one bar to the other and finally jumped," said Mo.
"Was it then that you bumped your head?" asked Walter.
Mo nodded and gently touched the bandage around her forehead.
"Why did your father order you to hide in the woods?" inquired Otto.
Mo hesitated and gave the children an anxious look.
"My father told me that there are many bad human beings," she whispered.
The children could not think of anything to say.
"There are also good people," Walter said finally.
"Oh, yes," agreed Mo quickly. "My father knows that. But he says that you have not yet reached the point where we can be friends."
"Your father doesn't think much of us, does he?" growled Otto peevishly.
"But you're not even afraid of us, are you?" asked Lottie.
"We are good human beings," Walter reassured her.
"You look awfully nice," said Mo. "You won't harm me, will you?"
"I promise!" replied Walter.
"What does that mean?" asked Mo.
"A promise is when I give my word of honor to do as I say," explained Walter.
Mo seemed comforted.
"What are you going to do if your father does not come for you this evening?" Otto wanted to know.
"My father said he would," said Mo.
"But if he doesn't?" insisted Otto.
"Oh, that would be awful," said Mo, frightened, "because he could not return for another fifty years."
"Why?" chorused the children, puzzled.
"I don't quite know," said Mo. "The Earth has to be in one spot and Asra in another, otherwise we could not fly here and back, my father said."
"But your father flew back only as far as the moon?" asked Walter.
"Yes," explained Mo. "He has to fix his space ship in a hurry."
"To the moon!" cried Otto in amazement. "Then how can he be back by this evening?"
"Why, that is not so far," said Mo and smiled.
"And you're going to stay all by yourself in this forest until tonight?" asked Gretel with concern.
"Well, I'm supposed to," said Mo quietly.
Excitedly Walter jumped up. "Nothing doing! You can't!" he said with determination.
"Why not?" asked Mo, looking surprised.
"There are wild beasts," said Otto.
"What are wild beasts?" asked Mo.
"Wild beasts are wild beasts; they bite," said Otto.
Mo began to look worried. "We don't have wild beasts," she said shyly.
"Don't you have any animals at all?" Lottie wanted to know.
"No," said Mo. "Nobody bites at home."
"There will be a thunderstorm," said Walter, scanning the sky with concern. A fat, black cloud looked menacing. There was the sound of distant rumbling, this time much louder than before.
"What a funny noise," said Mo uneasily.
"That is thunder," explained Gretel.
"Thunderstorms are awful," said Lottie. "There is lightning and then thunder and so much noise that you have to cover up your ears."
Mo looked at the children in bewilderment.
"What shall I do?" she said sadly. "I don't know anybody on Earth!"
"You'll come home with us," said Walter firmly. "I won't allow you to stay all alone in the forest until tonight."
Otto jumped to his feet. "Why your house?" he asked crossly and pushed back his glasses, which had slid down his nose.
"I was the first to discover her, that's why!" snapped Walter sharply.
"Oh, you!" cried Otto angrily. "I saw her too, except I didn't holler my head off. Our house is much nicer and bigger than yours."
"Your house is not nicer than ours!" shouted Lottie in indignation.
"And you never have enough to eat!" insisted Otto. For a minute, he had completely lost his temper; otherwise he would not have said it. Gretel went for Otto like a tigress and would have scratched his face if Walter had not intervened.
"Otto is a liar!" she shrieked, her eyes sparkling with fury. "We always have plenty to eat."
"Oh, let him shoot off his mouth," said Walter appeasingly. He was the oldest and most sensible among them.
"No!" cried Gretel. "Mo will come with us. Lottie and I can take care of her. Girls get along much better with each other."
"Yak, yak," jeered Otto. "Girls fight worse than boys."
"Shut up," roared Walter menacingly, and Otto kept quiet.
"If you can't get along, I'll knock your heads together," Walter continued.
Even Gretel kept quiet. She was hard to tame, but she had great respect for her brother.
"Now you are no longer so pleasant," said Mo, frightened.
"You see!" chided Walter. "You've frightened her!"
"Why did you shout so?" asked Mo.
"You needn't be afraid," said Walter soothingly. "Otto always blows up like a turkey. But he's a good guy in spite of it."
"Where I come from nobody blows up," said Mo. "We children are all fond of each other."
"I guess on Asra you're all angels?" Otto said in a surly tone. But he was already a bit embarrassed.
Excerpted from Star Girl by Henry Winterfeld, Kyrill Schabert, Fritz Wegner. Copyright © 2015 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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