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“I write for the kid in me. . . . Often when I’m working on a story, I’ll find myself laughing at something my characters have done, or even being surprised at where they’ve taken the story. It’s as if they have a life all their own. What I do is create them and then let them go on to entertain me. . . .”
Elvira Woodruff
“Q and I did our history report together on George Washington,” he told them. “So if you have any questions, we can probably answer them, since we did so much research.”
“You only read one library book for that report,” Tony objected. “You can’t call one book ‘so much research.’”
“You didn’t see the size of that book, Tony,” Matt told him. “It was big. I mean really big.”
“Look, Tony, we’re not saying that we know everything about the Revolutionary War, but we did do a report on it and we do know more than you do,” Q said smugly.
“Okay, guys, let’s not waste any more time trying to decide who knows more about the Revolutionary War.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“I don’t know how this happened, how we ended up here. I never knew it would be like this. I’m not from here, Israel, you have to believe me. I’m from another--”
“It’s all right,” Israel interrupted him, leaning over and putting his arm around him. “I’ll look after you. We two goats, we’ll get through this together, you’ll see, and when my enlistment is up well find your Katie and you and she can come and visit me and Abby and the boys. Don’t worry, Matthew Carlton, you’ve got a friend in Israel Gates. You can depend on it.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“What’s my job, Chief?” Everyone looked at Matt and grinned but Matt frowned instead.
“Forget it, Katie.” He scowled. “No girls are allowed in the Adventure Club,” he said firmly. The little voice answered.
“I’m not a girl. I’m a sister.”
“No, Katie, what you are is a pain. Now be quiet and go to sleep.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Why can’t we make her a visiting member, just for tonight?”
“Technically speaking, the club’s charter dictates that no females are allowed in the club, visiting or otherwise,” Q told him.
“Okay, okay. But it’s like Katie said, she’s not just a girl. She’s a relative. That should count for something,” Hooter pointed out.
“None of you guys have a little sister, and believe me you don’t know what pains they can be,” Matt tried to explain.
“I sort of know how she feels,” Tony said. “It’s not much fun always being the littlest and the one that always gets left out.”
“Come on, Matt, just for tonight. She can’t be that bad.” Hooter laughed, opening the tent.
“Okay.” Matt sighed. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” As Hooter held open the tent flap, the newest temporary member of the Adventure Club stumbled out. In the light of the campfire her head was a blaze of red curls. Over her shoulder was a toy bow, with the arrows in a pouch on her back. She held a water gun in one hand and a plastic Heroic Hero sword in the other. She took a step toward the group and shot Hooter in the nose with her squirt gun.
“I’m ready for the adventure, Chief,” she said with a dimpled grin.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“He closed his eyes now and imagined that he was talking to his mother on the phone.
“Oh, hi, Mom. How are you? Me? Oh, I’m great. I’m just hanging out in the eighteenth century. Behave myself? Don’t worry, Mom, George Washington and a few of his friends are here to see to that. Home? I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I will come back, I promise.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“For the first time in his life Matt was glad he had done his homework. If he hadn’t done that history report, he probably wouldn’t even know where he was right now.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“I bet this place is crawling with snakes,” Hooter said, shining his flashlight on an old log alongside the path.
“I don’t care as much about snakes as spiders,” Q grimaced. “Just the thought of walking into a web gives me the creeps.” He adjusted his glasses on his nose, as he always did when he was feeling uneasy.
“Snakes and spiders are nothing to worry about.” Tony turned around to tell them. He had tried scouting ahead but only had the courage to go a few feet before the group.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“But, as discouraged as Washington was, he was not prepared to accept defeat, not yet. The American Army was on the verge of collapse, and in desperate need of a victory in order to turn the tide in their favor. The crossing of the Delaware and the taking of Trenton on December twenty-sixth proved to be just such a victory.’ Can you imagine what it must have been like?” Matt said suddenly, looking up from the book.
“Cold,” Q replied. “Really, really cold. They crossed the river at night, in the middle of rain and ice and snow. They must have been freezing.”
“Just like we’re going to be if we let this fire go out,” Tony said as he got up to get another log for the fire.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Six dollars,” Matt muttered as a sharp stone cut into his linen-bound foot. I could spend that much in six minutes at the mall! Not that there is a mall anywhere near here, he thought gloomily, looking into the darkened woods. What I wouldn’t give to see a mall right now, with heat and electric lights and restaurants and shoe stores! But that’s all two hundred years away.
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“The moon is almost full.”
“Yeah, what phase would you say the moon is in tonight?” Matt asked, looking up.
Suddenly they all stopped and were looking up at the bright orb that hung above the trees.
“Three-quarter,” Q said with authority. He had read all the astronomy books in the school library. “Definitely a three-quarter moon.”
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Matt asked uneasily.
“That’s just what I was thinking. In fact I was already thinking it five minutes ago,” Q said, adjusting his glasses on his nose.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Then out of the darkness a deep voice commanded, “Halt, in the name of the Continental Army!”
“Halt?” Tony whispered. “Is he kidding?”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Come along then, and we’ll saddle up Blackjack,” Mr. Hornbee said, reaching for his hat.
“Blackjack?” Matt asked, following him outside to the barn.
“My mule,” Mr. Hornbee replied. “He’ll follow the trail through the woods and take you right to the river. He’s smarter than any horse you’ve ever been on, I’ll wager.”
Matt watched uneasily as the long-eared, sleepy-looking Blackjack was led from the barn. Matt wanted to tell the old man that he had never been on a horse before, much less a mule. A skateboard, Mr. Hornbee. That’s the last thing I rode on, Matt was thinking as he watched Blackjack open his mouth in a big-toothed yawn.
“You can take care of your business yonder, son,” Mr. Hornbee told him, nodding toward a little shed behind the house.
“My business?” Matt asked with a blank look.
The old man shook his head and sighed heavily. “Surely that head wound has left you confused,” he said, gently leading Matt to the shed. “Come along, now.” And he opened the door and gave Matt a little push inside.
“Oh, that business!” Matt smiled, on discovering that the shed was an outhouse.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Matt wanted to tell the old man that he had never been on a horse before, much less a mule. A skateboard, Mr. Hornbee. That’s the last thing I rode on, Matt was thinking as he watched Blackjack open his mouth in a big-toothed yawn.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Did that sound like a bird to you?” But Blackjack didn’t answer as he carefully made his way along the trail, taking them further and further into the darkness of the lush forest.
Matt flinched at the sound of another call. “Some strange birds in these woods, huh, Blackjack?” he croaked. “Or maybe it was a rabbit. My friend Hooter had a rabbit once that got its foot caught in a lawn mower. Kind of sounded like that. But I guess you don’t have any lawn mowers around here, do you?” Matt whispered.
Blackjack wasn’t thinking about lawn mowers or rabbits or birds, though. Blackjack, as Mr. Hornbee had said, was one smart mule and he knew what Indians sounded like when he heard them!”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Where do you make your homes?” he asked.
“Rumson,” Matt called back. “Rumson, Nebraska.”
“Nebraska? Where is this place, Nebraska?” The general and his men looked perplexed, but the state of their confusion was nowhere near that of Matt and his friends.
“I never met anyone who didn’t know where Nebraska was,” Hooter mumbled through chattering teeth.
“Where…where do you think they’re from?” Tony stammered.
“I don’t know,” matt whispered, staring at the soldiers and their muskets. “But I have this strange feeling, like…like…”
“Like we’ve seen them someplace before,” Q concluded.
“Where?” Hooter wanted to know. “Where have we seen them?”
“In our history book,” Q whispered. “We’ve gone back in time!”
“You mean before TV and stuff?” Hooter asked, looking at the old-fashioned muskets that were pointed at them.
“Before TV?” Q squeaked. His voice always turned into a series of squeaks when he was excited. “Try before electricity and flashlights. Try 1776--the Revolutionary War!”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“We made our way into the woods, just above the river. I scouted ahead of everyone…”
“Yeah, about three inches ahead.” Hooter smirked.
“Well, ahead anyway.” Tony shot Hooter a smirk back.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Where have we seen them?”
“In our history book,” Q whispered. “We’ve gone back in time!”
“You mean before TV and stuff?” Hooter asked, looking at the old-fashioned muskets that were pointed at them.
“Before TV?” Q squeaked. His voice always turned into a series of squeaks when he was excited. “Try before electricity and flashlights. Try 1776--the Revolutionary War!”
“That’s why they don’t know where Nebraska is,” Matt exclaimed. “In 1776 there was no such state as Nebraska! How did this happen? And if we really have gone back in time, how are we going to get home?” Everyone stood staring at the boat full of ragged soldiers before them.
Tony turned to Matt. “You thought my backyard was so boring. I hope you’re happy now.”
Matt was too stunned to reply. It was true, the Adventure Club had been his idea, but he never dreamed it would turn out like this. Matt closed his eyes tight, wishing they could go back, back to the safety of a few hours ago, when his life had been normal and safe, and his biggest problem had been to finish the peas on his dinner plate!”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“What did they put all that war paint on for, if they aren’t going to stay and fight?” Hooter whispered.
“I guess it wasn’t war paint,” Matt muttered.
“I hate to say it,” Hooter whispered. “But I think they have the right idea. We’re no match for these guys. Maybe we could catch up if we hurry,” he said, turning around in the direction of the Indians.
“Tony, where’s your sense of loyalty?” Matt exclaimed, grabbing his sleeve. “That’s Katie and Q over there. They are fellow club members, part of our tribe, don’t you see? The Indians risked their lives to get us here. Now, it’s up to us to save our people.”
“But we don’t even have any weapons to save them with,” Tony moaned. “Those soldiers have guns and swords.”
“We have courage and sticks. Just pick up a big stick,” Matt ordered.
“A stick?” Tony whimpered. “Did he say a stick?”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Those soldiers have guns and swords.”
“We have courage and sticks. Just pick up a big stick,” Matt ordered.
“A stick?” Tony whimpered. “Did he say a stick?”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“At the sound of their footsteps, the Hessians swung around and drew their swords. Katie screamed, Q yelled, and Matt did the one thing that he had so hoped he wouldn’t. He closed his eyes and didn’t move!”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“A young soldier stepped into the old rowboat and reached for Matt and Q first, grabbing them by the arms and directing them over to the general’s vessel. He then tried to separate Hooter and Tony, but Hooter had pulled Tony to him and wouldn’t let go. He was holding him to his chest as if Tony were his teddy bear. Actually Hooter still slept with a teddy bear but it was a secret he had kept from his friends. Tony wasn’t furry or cuddly like his bear but Hooter wasn’t about to be choosy. He was so scared he just needed something to hold on to.
“Hooter, let go! You’re squeezing me so hard I can’t breathe,” Tony cried as they were lifted together onto the general’s boat.
“Sorry,” Hooter mumbled, without loosening his grip.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“At least we’re all together, finally.” Matt sighed when they had come to another stop.
“Yeah, great,” Tony whispered. “And now we can all die together.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“From what Adam said, the young Adam that is, his grandmother was very pretty. He said that his grandfather took one look at her and decided that the 1700s would be as good a time as any to call home.”
“Oh, yuck!” Tony said, making a face.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“As Matt began to turn the pages, he found himself distracted. His eyes began drifting around the room, finally coming to rest on the silent air conditioner that sat in one of his windows. He walked over to the air conditioner and turned it on full blast. Its soft hum was music to his ears. And what about music? Matt grinned and placed a tape in his tape deck and turned up the volume.
Everything sounded and felt so good. Suddenly he remembered his reading lamp. He reached over to the wall and flipped the lamp’s switch. When the light came on, Matt whooped with joy. He felt a thrill of excitement as he turned on his clock radio. He even set the alarm to go off.
“And TV!” Matt cried, racing over to his television set. “I’m going to watch TV!” By the time Mrs. Carlton appeared in the doorway, Matt was sitting on his bed reading, after turning on every electrical appliance in his room.
“What on earth is going on in here?” his mother called over the din. Matt looked up from his book and grinned.
“I was just checking to make sure that everything still works,” he told her.
Mrs. Carlton shook her head. “Come and get yourself some breakfast,” she told Matt. “And for heaven’s sake take a bath and change your clothes.”
As she walked away Matt could hear her mumble under her breath, “The way that boy looks after a simple backyard camping trip. You’d think he was just through a war!”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Uh…excuse me, sir,” he said loudly. “But would you like a Band-Aid?” He waved it in the air in front of the soldier. “Band-Aid, Band-Aid,” he said. He waited to see the soldier’s response and, when the Hessian beckoned him forward, Hooter stood up. He went up to the soldier and opened the Band-Aid and carefully placed it over the bloodiest part of the wound. The leg was pretty badly scratched, but the Band-Aid was able to stop the severest bleeding.
The soldier stared at the Band-Aid for a long time and pulled at the edges, feeling the sticky underside. Then he looked at Hooter.
Ban…Bandad. Ho…Hoot!” He smiled at Hooter and then tapped himself on the chest. “Ich bin Gustav.
“Gustav, that’s great!” Hooter grinned. “Hi, Gustav, nice to meet you.”
Ya, ya, Hoot!” The soldier grinned back. Then he stood up and had them form into a line again.
“Hooter, we aren’t at a tea party,” Matt said sternly as they began to make their way through the woods. “We’re not supposed to be making friends with them. That’s the enemy.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“So which one of you was pretending to be George Washington?” she asked.
“Uh, well,” Matt hesitated.
“Honey, I don’t think Matt wants to divulge any more information.” Mr. Carlton turned to Matt and whispered, “Private club business, right, son?”
“Something like that,” Matt replied.
“Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me, man-to-man.” Mr. Carlton nodded. “You did a fine job of looking out for your sister on this camp-out and I want you to know that I’m proud of you for including her. It shows that you’re becoming a mature, responsible person.”
“Uh, gee…thanks, Dad,” Matt mumbled.
“Don’t mention it.” Mr. Carlton smiled. “Pass me the sugar, will you, son?”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“I’m going to put these socks on my feet,” she told him.
“Katie, are you crazy?” Q cried suddenly, when he saw what she was doing.
“No,” Katie answered.
“His socks! Don’t you realize that those are George Washington’s socks? You can’t put them on your feet!” Q was horrified.
“But my feet are cold,” Katie told him, slipping her little foot into one of the large socks. “And he gave them to me. Besides, my jeans are all wet and this sock is so big it goes all the way up my leg.” She grinned.
“You can have my socks, we’ll trade,” Q offered.
“Oh, no,” Katie said. “He gave them to me and I don’t have to trade if I don’t want to.”
“What a waste.” Q sighed, looking over to Matt, “George Washington’s socks wasted on a girl!”
“Don’t take it so hard, Q,” Matt tried to console him.
“You can always try dumping yourself in the river,” Tony told him. “The general might be out of socks but who knows. Maybe he would give you his underwear.” Everyone laughed but Q.
“If I was lucky enough to end up with George Washington’s underwear you can bet I wouldn’t wear them, either,” Q told him.
“What would you do with them?” Hooter wanted to know.
“I’d frame them,” Q said solemnly.
“Are we going to stand around all way talking about George Washington’s underwear, or are we going to try and find the boat?”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“He felt that in a way he was taking part in the Revolution. He was returning the mighty general’s cape. He had been given the responsibility for keeping the father of our country from freezing! He climbed out of the boat feeling like a true rebel!”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks
“Katie, Q wants to know if you’ll let him have George Washington’s socks. You can’t wear them home, so you might as well let him have them,” Matt told her. Katie took a long look at the socks in Q’s hand, and then she looked up into his eyes.
“I’ll trade them,” she said, giving one of her curls a twist.
“Sure,” Q squeaked with delight. “Anything, anything you want.”
“You can have the socks if you buy me my own bag of marshmallows,” Katie demanded.
“You want to trade George Washington’s socks for a bag of marshmallows?” Q asked, his mouth dropping open in disbelief. Katie nodded, her red curls bouncing on her head in the early morning light.”
Elvira Woodruff, George Washington's Socks

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