On the Isle of Conjo

“It just isn’t fair,” declared Tom, staring unhappily through the
window at the heavy rain pelting the lawn and garden about the house.

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about it so we might as well make the
best of it,” replied Twink philosophically.

“But I wanted to go outdoors and play this afternoon–you know we have
only a few more weeks until school starts. Besides, I’m sick and tired
of this old house and of every single thing we have to play with.”

Almost as if he understood Tom’s words, Twoffle, the children’s wooden
clown, tumbled over on his face in the corner where he had been
standing neglected.

“Now look what you’ve done! You’ve hurt Twoffle’s feelings,” accused
Twink reprovingly as she hastened to stand the funny little clown erect
again in his corner of the room.

Twink was especially fond of Twoffle. The little wooden clown, with
his hinged joints and gaudily painted features and clothing, had been
a part of their lives almost as long as Twink could remember. He had
taken part in many of their games, and being constructed of a fine
grade of durable wood, he had outlasted many other more fragile toys
that had come and gone.

Twink and Tom were twins. They lived in a large, comfortable house in
the city of Buffalo, New York, with their Mother and Father and Rosie
the cook.

This afternoon the house was very quiet. Twink’s and Tom’s father,
Professor Jones, was at work at the University, where he taught young
people all about electrons, atoms, molecules, and other mysterious
matters. Mrs. Jones was attending a meeting of her Club of Lady
Voters. Rosie, the cook, dozed in her warm kitchen, nodding over the
latest issue of a fashion magazine.

So it was no wonder the twins were a bit lonesome. The rain streamed
down the window monotonously and it seemed the afternoon would drag on
forever.

Twink glanced at the clock on the mantle. It was a little Dutch cottage
clock and the hands indicated it was almost three o’clock. Twink was
struck with a sudden idea.

“Come on, Tom!” she called. “Look at the time. If we don’t hurry we’ll
miss Chapter Four of Buffalo Bill Rides Again!”

Tom came to life immediately, and in an instant both children were
dashing down the broad stairway and into the library.

Here was the solution to their dull afternoon–a television set that
Professor Jones had built himself and installed in the library. It was
a very special set with a large “projection screen.” The glass tube of
the television set enlarged the picture on the screen. At three o’clock
each afternoon Twink and Tom could see another chapter in the exciting
moving picture serial of the wild west. The children were sure, of
course, that Buffalo Bill had been named after their own city, and this
made the picture all the more interesting.

Tom was busily turning knobs and dials and making adjustments. In a
few seconds the big screen lighted up with a bluish-green glare and
a moment later the pictures appeared. Buffalo Bill was ambushed by a
wildly howling mob of Redskins who were on the war-path. There was no
doubt in Twink’s and Tom’s minds that the famous scout would emerge
unharmed while the Indians would take to noisy flight.

But just as Buffalo Bill brought his rifle to his shoulder and was
sighting the nearest Redskin, something happened.

The flickering motion picture vanished from the television screen,
and in its place appeared a picture that made the children gasp. It
was one of the most beautiful scenes they could imagine: a peaceful,
rolling meadowland, bright with all kinds of wild-flowers on which the
sun shown down from a blue sky dotted with white, baby clouds. In the
distance rose the spires and minarets of a great castle, glittering and
glistening in the sunlight.

But it was not the castle or the sunny meadowland that held the
children’s attention.

Twink and Tom stared unbelievingly at a figure that stood in the center
of the television picture looking out at them with the most familiar of
smiles.

It was Twoffle, their wooden clown.

“Good afternoon, children,” said the clown quite clearly and calmly.

“G-g-g-good afternoon!” stammered Twink and Tom.

The little clown suddenly doubled up with merriment and then gasped:
“If you could only see yourselves! You’re all eyes–positively bug-eyed
if I ever saw anyone who was!”

“But what are you doing in the television picture?” asked Twink,
regaining a little of her composure.

The clown disregarded her question and was suddenly serious. “Come on,”
he ordered. “Conjo can hold this picture only a few minutes and you
just have time to walk through.”

“Walk through?” echoed Tom. “What do you mean?”

“Start walking toward the television screen and you’ll find out,”
answered the clown. “Or perhaps,” he added, “you would rather stay
there where it is raining and you can’t go outdoors.”

“But you’re only a picture,” objected Twink.

“Will you please do as I tell you and start walking toward the
television screen?” asked the clown sternly.

Twink and Tom looked at each other questioningly. Tom smiled and
shrugged. “Might as well try it–can’t do any harm,” he said.

“That’s the spirit!” exclaimed the little clown, smiling again. “Just
join hands and walk straight toward me.”

Tom took Twink’s hand and the two children slowly advanced toward the
television screen. The screen was nearly five feet high–several inches
taller than the children–and almost six feet wide. So vivid and real
was the picture that Twink imagined she could really walk right into it.

Just as the children were about to take the last step that would bring
them directly in front of the television screen, a sudden powerful gust
of wind hit their backs and sent them tumbling forward.

“This is where we’ll catch it,” thought Tom, sure that the wind must
have blown them into the screen. He sat up, fully expecting to see the
expensive screen torn to shreds.

Instead he saw an expanse of rolling meadowland, and he felt the warm
sun beating down on his head. Twink was sitting beside him on the
green grass, staring about in utter bewilderment. Before them stood the
clown, smiling broadly.

“It’s magic,” breathed Twink, “pure magic.”

“Well, it’s magic, all right,” answered the clown, “but I wouldn’t say
how pure it is.”

“But what has become of our library, and how did we get here, and how
can this be real, and why is it you’re not upstairs in my room?” The
questions tumbled out almost faster than Twink could ask them.

“One question at a time, please,” said the clown, “and I’ll try to
answer. Your library is right where it always is. This can be real
because it _is_ real. And I am not in your room because I belong here.”

“But, Twoffle,” protested Tom, “we left you in Twink’s room not fifteen
minutes ago.”

“You didn’t leave me there, and don’t call me Twoffle,” objected the
clown.

By this time Twink and Tom were standing up and brushing off their
clothes. “But you _are_ our Twoffle, you know,” stated the girl. “We
have had you for years and years.”

“I am not your Twoffle–of all the silly names,” said the clown with
some irritation. “I am my own Twiffle.”

“Then how is it you look so much like our Twoffle?” asked Tom, who
noted the clown was the same size as Twoffle and looked like his double.

“I was about to tell you,” explained the clown, “that my name is
Twiffle, and Twoffle is my third cousin.”

“Oh, so then you know Twoffle?” asked Twink curiously.

“Know him?” replied Twiffle. “Of course I know him. And I also know you
two very well. Many nights Twoffle and I have sat in your rooms with
the moonlight streaming through the window and talked by the hour while
you children slept.”

Twink and Tom said nothing. They were busy thinking. All this was so
strange and had happened so unexpectedly and suddenly that they were
still bewildered. Tom’s eyes were puzzled as he asked: “Just before we
came through the screen, you said something about Conjo being able to
‘hold the picture for only a few minutes.’ Who is Conjo?”

Twiffle was suddenly alert. “That reminds me,” he said, “that we must
be on our way at once. Conjo is expecting you and we mustn’t keep him
waiting.”

Without another word, Twiffle started walking across the grass. The
children followed.

“But who is this Conjo, and where does he live?” asked Twink.

“And what does he want with us?” added Tom.

Without pausing to look at the children, Twiffle answered: “Conjo is
a Wizard–the sole ruler of this island, the Isle of Conjo. He lives
in the castle you can see in the distance. What he wants with you, he
will undoubtedly tell you himself.” With this, the little clown flashed
Twink and Tom a bright smile and then walked steadily on toward the
glittering castle.

Twink found that she had no trouble at all in keeping up with Twiffle,
because his legs were so short and his stride so small. She had plenty
of time to pause occasionally and gather the colorful wild flowers that
dotted the green meadowland.

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