Georgetta is nine years old, and her room is crowded with stuffed bears that vary in size from Alex, who can be held in the palm of Georgetta’s hand, to a near life-sized Panda that is sitting in the chair next to Georgetta’s bedroom window. The Panda’s name is Bear.
The door to Georgetta’s room opens and her ten-year-old sister, Sally, enters and hurries to the chair by the window. She places Bear on the floor, sits in the chair, and looks at her sister who up until a moment ago was sleeping.
“I can’t believe what just happened,” Sally says.
“Am I supposed to be awake already?” Georgetta asks.
“ I just saw river pirates,” Sally says. Restless by nature, Sally rises from the chair and, without bothering to place Bear back in his perch, steps to the window. “I was walking Bailey along the river a half hour ago,” she says, “and I saw the pirates go by in a boat.”
“You’re not supposed to walk Bailey alone,” Georgetta says, propping a pillow up behind her and sliding backwards into it. “You could slip into the river and drown and no one would know until your body washes up against the bridge downtown.”
“That would never happen because the water isn’t deep enough for somebody as tall as me to drown.”
“I don’t think height has anything to do with drowning,” Georgetta said. “I think tall people can drown just as much as short people.”
Sally strides from the window to Georgetta’s bedside and stands there motionless for a moment, as if to prove her height. “Do you want to hear about the river pirates or not?” she says, turning in the direction of Bear, making it a little unclear to Georgetta who her sister is talking to.
“Maybe if you fell in the river,” Georgetta said, tossing away the covers as a first step toward getting out of bed, “Bailey could have saved you. Maybe he would have jumped in and pulled you to shore by your shirt collar, or maybe you could have ridden on his back until you grabbed a log floating by. Or if you were unconscious and had been washed into the trunk of a tree that had fallen into the river, Bailey might have run back home and barked at us until we realized you were caught in a tree and drowning.”
Sally walks to Georgetta’s closet and takes from the top shelf a blue, floppy brimmed hat, and shoves it onto Bear’s head. Bear has little to say about the newly placed headgear. Earlier that year his right eye had disappeared and while Sally was certain that Bailey had bitten it off and buried it in the yard, no one has bothered to search any of the holes Bailey digs daily.
“How would Bear look if he was wearing an eye patch?” Sally asks as Georgetta puts on the robe that she had laid on the end of her bed the night before. Georgetta had seen a movie in which a house maid who was secretly a princess had put on a robe first thing when she woke every morning and since then Georgetta has done the same thing though she has no interest in discovering that she is secretly a princess because that would mean having to be nice to people who were mean or who talked with their mouth full of food.
“Why would he wear an eye patch?” Georgetta asks, looping together her robe’s belt.
“For one thing, he is missing an eye. For another, he would look like a pirate bear and that might come in handy in what we’re going to do this morning.”
“What are we going to do?”
Sally made a fist with her right hand and pumped it up and down, the way sheriffs probably did when their posse had finally gotten out of bed: “We’re going to search for the river pirates,” Sally says.
To be continued . . .