“Nothing exciting happened to me during the summer,” Lin complained to his friend Harvey. “So how can I write a theme about it?”
“I went to my grandmother’s in August,” Harvey volunteered, “and my seven cousins came …”
“And you roasted eighty-four ears of corn,” interrupted Lin. “You already told me all about it. But that doesn’t help me with my assignment!”
“Oh, you’ll think of something,” Harvey told Lin as he went out the back door. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
As Lin stared at the blank piece of paper before him on the kitchen table, he remembered Mrs. Rogers had told the class that they could make up a story for their “Summer Happening” theme if they couldn’t think of anything else.
Lin decided that was just what he’d have to do. As he reached for his pencil, an idea flashed into his mind and he quickly wrote at the top of his paper:
Through Darkest Africa by Lin P. Wang
The title pleased him, and immediately he began to write:
The natives were restless. I listened to the drums beating. What were they saying? They stopped. I waited. My cat, Chu, waited too. Suddenly I heard a noise. …
Tap, tap. Lin leaped from the table and hurried to open the door.
“Hi, Mrs. Turner,” he said. “Mom’s upstairs. Come in, and I’ll call her.”
The little lady’s gentle blue eyes twinkled behind her glasses. “I came to see you, Lin,” she explained. “The temperature is supposed to drop tonight, and I’m afraid Carmen might catch cold. Could you put in my storm windows for me?”
“I’d be glad to,” Lin said, pulling on his plaid jacket.
“Carmen’s from Brazil, and she’s used to a warm climate,” Mrs. Turner explained as they crossed the street.
Mrs. Turner unlocked her front door and called, “Carmen, I’m back.”
Squawk, squawk! the parrot answered.
Carefully Lin latched the storm windows on the inside.
Later when he arrived home eating one of Mrs. Turner’s chocolate donuts, he read what he had written.
It didn’t quite please him, and so he changed the title to THROUGH DARKEST BRAZIL and continued to write:
A giant parrot flew past, flapping its wings. Mad with rage, it attacked me. I fought it off and so did Chu. Then something long and thin slithered through the tall grass. It was …
Br-ring, br-ring! Impatiently Lin answered the telephone.
“Hi, Lin!” said a familiar voice.
“Hi, Mr. Martin. What can I do for you?” Lin asked.
“I need your help.” Mr. Martin replied. “Can you come over to my house immediately?”
Lin zipped up his jacket and jogged down the street to Mr. Martin’s house. A tantalizing spicy smell came from the open door, and Joy, a blonde cocker spaniel, barked a friendly welcome.
“My dinner guests will soon be arriving,” Mr. Martin began as he opened the door, “and I can’t leave the kitchen. Joy needs her evening walk, and I wonder if you could possibly take her out for me?”
“Sure,” said Lin.
After the cocker finished sniffing Lin’s sneakers, the dog plunged down the driveway, dragging Lin along.
When they turned the corner, Lin saw Chu vigorously washing his ears.
Woof, woof! Joy also saw Lin’s cat and jerked the leash from Lin’s hands.
Hisst, hisst! Chu hunched his back angrily and his fur stood straight up.
Lin grabbed Joy’s leash just in time and took her back to Mr. Martin.
Mr. Martin gave Lin a steaming dish. “Have some of my curry,” he said. “It’s the food of Indian princes. Thanks for helping me, Lin.”
Lin hurried home with his dish of curry. As he nibbled the spicy rice and chicken, he read his theme. He quickly took his pencil and changed the title to THROUGH DARKEST INDIA Then he wrote:
… a man-eating tiger. Roaring, it leaped through the darkness. Chu fought off the vicious animal. I staggered into the clearing and stood before the campfire eating curry, the food of Indian princes.
“Hello, Lin,” Dad said as he appeared in the doorway. “Has your homework kept you busy?”
“It sure has!” Lin replied. “Harvey dropped by, I put in storm windows for Mrs. Turner, and Mr. Martin asked me to take Joy for a walk. In between I’ve been working on my theme.”
Lin slipped his “Summer Happening” theme into his notebook and stretched. Being a writer was hard work!