Sir WHIP, Kato, BEN Owl, and Gary Gargoyle surrounded Ro's bed one Saturday morning, knowing they weren't supposed to wake a sleeping child, but excited because there was so much fun lined up on Independence Day week-end.
They wanted to get the earliest start possible, and that meant that as the sun peeked into Ro's room through her curtains, so had they. But as she slept on, they finally gave up and just lined up at the edge of her bed, waiting for the first peep from their dear friend.
Jo came into Ro's room at around seven, rubbing his eyes and yawning.
"Yes!" said Sir WHIP, a big grin on his face, a little fist of victory shaken in front of his chest. "Jo, we aren't supposed to wake Ro up unless it's an emergency. But you're her brother. You're allowed to annoy her…"
Just as Sir WHIP finished his sentence, Kato lost his patience, and with a little yip leapt upon Ro's bed and slurped her all over her face.
She promptly pulled her covers up over her head.
Kato was having none of that! He rooted under her covers with his cold, wet nose, until it poked Ro's belly, right where it peeked through between her pajama top and bottoms, and she squealed. Then, having found the opening, he scrooched his whole head under the covers and slurped her face.
"You crazy dog!" she giggled, flipping the edge of her covers down off her face and shoulders and gasped at the sight of her brother and all their best friends lined up around her bed. "Jeez! You scared the daylights out of me! What's goin' on?"
"Daylight!" Sir WHIP said, somewhat impatiently. "That's the word! It's daylight! Has been for forever, and you just keep snoring all through it!"
Jo laughed, softly, and said, "Mom and Dad are up already. They are packing up the cooler and a box of stuff to take to Grandma Crystal's."
"Oh! That's right! Fourth of July weekend! Yay!" Ro said, happy and excited. She and Jo and their friends had been looking forward to Fourth of July for...well…since last Fourth of July was over!
"Big cookout at Nana Rose's house! And everybody will be there!" Jo said, outside the bathroom door while Ro made her pit-stop and then washed up.
"I know! I can't wait! We can toast marshmallows and there's gonna be fireworks!" Ro chimed in, leading the way down the hall to the kitchen.
Mom and Dad were just finishing up packing, as Ro got the peanut butter out of the fridge and made herself and Jo sandwiches and bagged them up in Ziplocs for an on-the-go breakfast.
She dipped her finger into the jar and gave Kato a lick, because it was one of his favorite things, and because it was fun to watch his tongue (which was a long as his tail!!) slurp and flap trying to get the sticky peanut butter into his tummy. She quickly dipped the finger of her other hand into the jar to get a taste for Brie as well, and then, when the dogs were done with their treat, she washed her hands, put the jar in the fridge, and tucked the sandwiches into her tote bag, waiting for her on the chair.
Jo had Capri Sun pouches for each of them, and he and his sister, and all their friends, canine, dragon, gargoyle and owl, followed Mom and Dad out to the car.
"Okay," Dad said, "Dogs in the back, kids in the back seat, Mom in the front. Gary, Sir WHIP, and BEN Owl, you'll be taking to the sky and meeting us at Grandma Crystal's, right?"
Ro and Jo leapt out of the car. "Can we ride on Sir WHIP and BEN Owl? Oh please, please, please!!"
Dad laughed. "It's up to them if they want to lug all your extra weight."
BEN Owl and Sir WHIP smiled. "We were hoping you'd ask," Sir WHIP spoke for both of them, and with that, BEN Owl and Sir WHIP led the children into the back yard where they made themselves large enough to carry humans. Ro and Kato climbed aboard Sir WHIP, and Ro hugged BEN Owl's neck as he took off, followed closely by his dragon friend.
Sir WHIP and BEN Owl beat Mom and Dad to Nana Rose's house by a long shot! Ro and Jo were delighted to find that Nana Terri, Gramps Blaze, and Grandma Crystal had already arrived for the party, and were busy setting up the grill, setting the massive picnic table, and putting sodas, bottles of water, iced tea, and lemonade into coolers. Mom and Dad were getting bags of ice for the coolers on the way down, and would arrive very soon indeed.
Sir WHIP and BEN Owl landed in Nana Rose's huge yard on Knight Island, and Ro, Jo, and Kato climbed into the grass as fast as they could, so the hugging could begin!
"Gramps Blaze, are we going fishing?" Jo asked. "Is 'Kraken" in the water?" Jo held his hand up over his eyebrows, shading his eyes, looking toward the water to see if the little boat was ready for adventure.
"Well, maybe at some point this weekend we'll get out there and catch us some fish, but today, my friend, is a day for a different kind of adventure," Gramps Blaze said, smiling. "Don't worry! You will have fun!"
Ro and Jo helped the grownups bring out the badminton net and set it up. Badminton was a fun game, sort of like tennis, but with a shuttlecock instead of a ball. Everybody could play, even Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri, who had booboos inside their feet and legs, and Nana Rose who was pretty old – Nana Terri's mom!
Just as the badminton game was set up, Mom and Dad pulled into the driveway and soon Brie was out and around, sniffing everyone and looking for a drink of water after her long car ride.
Ro saw to that, and Dad hauled the bags of ice over to the coolers and dumped them in. Then Jo helped him bring over their own large cooler. "Thought about you, Gramps Blaze," Dad said, nodding toward the box in the back of the car.
"Sam Adams," Ro read on the side of the box. "Beer. Is that picture the man that makes the beer?"
"Yes," Gramps Blaze said, "but he was also a very important man in the history of the United States. He was one of the Founding Fathers. Have you learned about him in school?"
"We've learned about Independence Day, and George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Hancock. Oh, and Benjamin Franklin," Ro answered, trying to remember stuff she'd learned months ago in Social Studies. "Oh! And Paul Revere who warned everybody that the British were coming!"
"Well, Sam Adams brewed beer, but he was way more involved in the government, and eventually became Governor in his home state of Massachusetts after the Revolutionary War."
"He got people together by writing letters about the unfair stuff that England was doing," Ro remembered out loud. "I do remember him a little."
"Yes he did, Ro, very good!" Gramps Blaze was impressed. "England was making taxes very, very high in the colonies – higher than the colonists could afford, and they were not letting the colonists be part of the government in England."
"Wait! I know what that's called!" Ro thought for a moment, and then said, snapping her fingers, "taxation without representation!"
"Exactly!" Gramps Blaze smiled at her excitement.
"And that's when the Boston Tea Party happened!" She added.
"Yep! The colonists, encouraged by Sam Adams and his pals the 'Sons of Liberty', were really mad at King George, and threw overboard a whole shipment of tea because the taxes were so high."
"And then came the Declaration of Independence and the war for independence."
"Right," Gramps Blaze said, finishing putting the beers in the cooler to get icy cold. Ro had been handing them to him, and stopped with one last bottle in her hand, gazing at the picture of Sam Adams on the front.
"I wonder what it was like back then?" Ro said.
Grandma Crystal, snipping some dill-weed nearby in her herb garden, heard the last part of the conversation between Ro and Gramps Blaze, and smiled. "Easy enough to find out," she said.
Ro's brows rose in surprise. "You mean go there? Go and meet Samuel Adams?"
"Why not? You met the goddess Athena on Mount Olympus, and that worked out okay. Why not meet Sam Adams?"
"But the crystal ball is in the fort," Jo said, walking up, having heard what Gramps Blaze had been saying about Samuel Adams, and getting super interested when Grandma Crystal mentioned using the crystal ball to travel back in time to go meet him.
"Oh, well, we can't have that!" Gramps Blaze said, waving his hands, and POOF! The crystal ball magically appeared in his palm. Grandma Crystal smiled. "Show off."
"That be me!" Gramps Blaze smiled a silly smile, and handed the crystal ball to Ro. Go sit it on the kitchen table and we'll get busy with it right now."
"Will we be back in time for the cookout? I want some hot dogs!" Jo said, worry curling his face into a frown.
"Oh sure!" Gramps Blaze said, flapping his hand, waving away his concern. "We have plenty of time! Remember, time inside the ball is long, but out here, it seems like you've only been gone a few minutes. You'll be back before Dad gets the grill hot!"
Ro and Jo and all their friends and family stood around the kitchen table, watching the swirling mists inside the crystal ball, their hands on the orb, feeling its coolness. Then, after a few moments they felt it getting warm, and they knew it was almost time. Kato yipped, feeling it too, and Ro smiled, though still concentrating very, very hard on the American Forefathers, especially Sam Adams.
Suddenly, Ro and Jo, Kato, BEN Owl, and Sir WHIP were all sucked into the ball. Everyone else watched as the Team RoJo adventure unfolded.
Ro and Jo had never seen a city like Boston in 1776. Cities now had hundreds and hundreds of cars and people. They were really noisy and busy, even at night. This Boston was quiet. There were people out and around, but no car engines. Just horses clip-clopping, pulling carriages.
"Wow! I want to go for a ride in a carriage!" Jo said.
"I want clothes that look like everybody else's," Ro said, and Jo smiled, looking around.
"Come on," he said, and tugged Ro into an alley. Waving his hands, he changed his and Ro's clothes into what he'd seen people wearing in the streets. A long dress for Ro, and knickers and a shirt and waistcoat for himself.
Sir WHIP shrunk himself down to fit in Jo's coat pocket, for a dog was a common sight in Boston, and though an owl riding upon a little girl's shoulder would be an oddity, BEN Owl was still one of God's creatures and explainable as a pet. But a sparkly orange dragon? No sense pushing their luck.
"What's that smell?" Jo said, wrinkling his nose as he, his sister, and their friends stepped out of the alley and onto the street.
"I think it's horse poop," Ro answered as they continued on down the King Street toward the wharf.
It wasn't long before they came upon a group of men, listening to a man maybe a foot taller than Ro's four-and-a-half feet. He was a little chubby, he had big, dark blue eyes, and wore plain clothes, no ruffles on his shirt like some of the men around him, and while they had horses, he seemed to be on foot. While he was mannerly, he was plain speaking, even the children understood what he meant, and in a clear voice he spoke about problems that Great Britain and King George were creating for the colonists.
"That's him?" Jo said, smiling at the man.
"Don't scoff," Sir WHIP said from the pocket of Jo's vest, his voice respectful. "He was famous all over America and much of Europe for the way he got the word out about the British. He got everyone in Boston and the colonies organized to fight for our Independence! He is an amazing man. No one more dedicated to freedom."
Jo still smiled, but not in a smirky way. "He sounds cool."
"Very cool," BEN Owl said from Ro's shoulder. "The Father of the American Revolution."
"I thought that was George Washington," Ro said.
"Father of our country. There's a difference," BEN Owl said. "Samuel Adams got things rolling long before the war or the Declaration of Independence. He stirred up the people in a big way, just as he is now."
The small group listened to the man, whose power showed in his words about freedom, about standing up for rights, and about his intense dislike for King George the Third.
Ro caught sight of Kato starting to nose through the legs of the men standing to listen to Sam Adams, and reached down to grab his collar to no avail. She didn't have the heart to grab his tail, the only part of him still visible.
"What the…what's wrong with him?" Jo whispered to his sister, surprised at Kato's behavior, worried that they would draw too much attention.
But in a way, Kato made it possible for Ro and Jo to meet Mr. Adams.
They exchanged a brief look, and then began shouldering through the small crowd.
When they burst through the last couple of people in their way, they looked down and saw exactly what had drawn Kato's attention and somewhat rude behavior.
For in front of them stood Kato, sniffing Queue, Sam Adams' big, black, shaggy Newfoundland dog.
Sam Adams' stopped short, at first frowning at the children's interruption, but then smiling at Queue and his new-found friend.
Kato was fascinated with the smells on this dog! He smelled like fish and poop (from crossing streets filled with horse-drawn carriages), wood smoke, and salt air, just like Boston did.
"Kato!" Ro said, her voice quiet but stern, while she grabbed his collar. She realized Mr. Adams' voice had stopped, and she looked up and winced when she realized that his eyes, (not to mention all the eyes in the entire small crowd of men) were fixed upon her. "Oh, Mr. Adams, I'm really sorry! Sometimes Kato forgets his manners."
Sam Adams laughed, as did many of the men in the crowd. "No apology needed, young lady! Your Kato is a handsome dog! It's nice to see that he and Queue are becoming friends! How is it that you are all the way here at the wharf without supervision, though, my dear? Are you lost? And who is this fine young gentleman with you? And how is it that you have an owl on your shoulder? What an odd pet for a young lady!"
The questions almost overwhelmed Ro, but she stood her ground, and answered them quietly and politely. "We were taking a walk. We have been learning about you in school (true, but she didn't mention that she attended school over two-and-a-half centuries in the future), and I, well, Jo and I wanted to hear what you had to say."
"Learning about me in school, are you?" Sam chuckled. "Are they saying mean or kind things about me there?"
"Depends on the lesson," Ro said, having gotten herself in a bit of a pickle. Who really knew what children of this day and age were taught in school? She should have read up on that stuff, but there hadn't been time.
All the men around Ro and Jo laughed at her response.
"We are not lost, and our mother and father know we're here. This is Jo, my brother, and BEN Owl, my pet owl. He is a descendent of the goddess Athena's owl."
"You know that for sure, do you?" Sam Adams' said, taken with Ro's intelligent answers and politeness.
"Yes," Ro answered, and without giving Mr. Adams or his friends gathered around him a chance to ponder that answer, she said, "I'm glad Kato and Queue are making friends too. And Jo and I are very happy to meet you, Mr. Adams."
"Likewise…" Sam Adams began, reaching out to take Ro's hand and plant a gentle kiss upon it, charmed by her.
"Oh!" Ro caught on when he didn't continue. "I'm sorry! My name is Ro."
"Ro and Jo. Nicknames I presume?"
Ro smiled and nodded. "Rosebella and Joseph."
"Beautiful Rose. A name well suited to you! And Joseph – a fine name for a fine young lad." He shook hands with Jo, and reached down to pet Kato, who licked his hand. "My, this dog's tongue is almost as long as his tail!" he said, laughing as Kato sat and offered his paw. "And very well-mannered as well!"
Ro and Jo laughed as Mr. Adams shook with Kato, then rubbed the dog's belly when he flopped over on his back.
Once the petting was finished, Sam Adams stood and face Ro and Jo. "You said you wanted to hear what I had to say, did you have a chance to listen, and did you understand?"
"Yes. A little. You're a very smart man, Mr. Adams," said Ro.
"Well thank you, Ro. Do you have any questions for me?"
"Well, yes, actually. You always talk to grownups about standing up for liberty. But no one really talks to young people my age and Jo's age. What can we do to help our country?"
"That's an excellent question, my dear! How bright you are!" Sam Adams seemed very impressed with Ro's question. She blushed and thanked him for the compliment.
"There are many ways youngsters like yourselves can help the cause. You can speak to your parents about liberty, and about standing up against tyranny. You can always speak your mind, and tell the truth about everything. And you can believe that justice will prevail and tell everyone you meet about how you feel.
"You must be careful, but courageous! Can you do that?"
Ro and Jo exchanged a glance, then nodded and Ro said, "I think so. We will try very hard to be like you."
Sam Adams knelt down and hugged the children, and accepted a big slurpy kiss from Queue's new friend, Kato. "Then our country will be in good hands as you grow up into fine adults!" he said softly.
"Thank you," Ro and Jo said together, almost as if they had planned it, then Jo said, "Well, we have to be going now. We don't want to worry our parents."
"Of course. Very nice to have met you both, and you too, Kato and BEN Owl!" Sam Adams said, watching after the children who made their way back through the crowd of men, though this time the crowd parted for them to get through.
Sam Adams went back to his speaking as Ro and Jo made their way up King Street and, trying to go as unnoticed as possible, stepped into the alley they'd used before.
They gradually vanished from 1776 Boston and appeared in the crystal ball as their parents and grandparents watched, then they pushed out of the ball and became solid in the kitchen, still in their 1776 clothing!
"You're really dressed just right for Independence Day!" Grandma Crystal said, admiring the fine linen of Ro's long dress.
"Yes we are!" Joe said, tipping his tri-cornered hat and bowing slightly. "Now if you good people would be so kind as to lead us to the hotdogs!"
Everyone laughed as Team RoJo and their family and friends filed out the back door and to the picnic table. Dad was just starting to place the hotdogs on the grill that was finally hot enough.
Soon fireworks would burst overhead, and somewhere, Ro and Jo knew, Sam Adams would be watching.
TD – 7/3/2016