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"What a dope you are," I scolded myself. I blotted the tear away.

"Kristy! Kristy! Come on!"

It was Karen.

I turned around. Our group was getting ready to find our gate. There were twenty minutes until take-off. I ran after Karen.

We boarded the plane like old pros. It looked just like the other plane, with two seats, an aisle, five seats, another aisle, then two more seats in each row. This time, I sat in the middle of the five seats. Karen and Andrew sat on one side of me, Dawn and Claudia on the other. In front of us were the triplets, Nicky, and David Michael. They had all their pirate stuff out. I hoped they weren't going to be too noisy.



We buckled our seat belts. Then we put our seat backs and trays in an upright position.

The plane began taxiing down the runway.

"Lift-off!" I heard David Michael cry as we nosed into the air.

Across the aisle, Margo Pike reached for her barf bag and threw up.

"Gross-out!" shrieked the triplets.

"Oh, disgust," added Nicky. "Margo barfs at anything."

"Comet, it makes your mouth turn green," sang Jordan.

"Comet," the other boys joined in, "it tastes like Listerine. Comet, it makes you VOMIT," (five heads turned toward poor Margo), "so get some Comet and VOMIT today."

"You guys," said Mary Anne, as she handed a Kleenex to Margo. "Can it!"

"Can it what?" I heard Byron whisper to Adam.

Luckily, Mary Anne didn't hear him.

"Kristy?" said Karen. "Is Margo sick again?"

"Yes - "

"Can I go watch?"

"Karen! Of course not." I was getting a headache.

In front of me, the boys calmed down. Dawn and Claudia and I tried to think of great pictures we'd taken that we could include in the photo alb.u.ms. After quite a while, I realized that the five boys were awfully quiet. Too quiet.

I tried to peek between the seats to see what they were up to. They were all peering at a little crumply piece of paper that Byron was holding. I could see some words on it in a foreign language.

And at that moment a man who was walking down the aisle leaned way over, across Adam and Nicky, to let a flight attendant rush by him. He happened to see the crumply piece of paper.

"Pardon me," he said with an accent.

The boys looked up at him.

"You are from Holland, yes?" said the man.

All five boys shook their heads.

"American?" asked the man in surprise.

"Yup," said Adam.

"Oh. My mistake. I saw the copy machine diagram. With words in Dutch. I think you are from Holland, too. I am Dutch."

"Copy machine diagram?" repeated Byron. "Dutch?"

"Yes," said the man. He pointed to the paper. "My company, it manufactures copiers. That is picture of - how do you say? - the insides of a machine."

"Oh, brother," muttered David Michael as the man went on his way.

"What was that all about?" I asked Claudia and Dawn.

They shrugged.

The rest of the flight was pretty quiet.

We landed on time and Margo barfed again.

"Well," I said to Mom and Watson as we filed slowly off the plane, "it's over. I can't believe it. Back to boring old life."

Mom laughed. "Not quite yet," she said. We had entered the waiting area and she pointed straight ahead.

At first all I could see was a gigantic WELCOME HOME sign. Then I began to recognize faces: Dawn's mother and brother; Mary Anne's dad; Claudia's parents, her sister, and her grandmother, Mimi; Stacey's parents; and last but not least - Nannie.

"Nannie!" I cried. I broke away from my family and ran to her. I threw my arms around her. "Oh, Nannie! It was the most wonderful trip. You won't believe everything that happened! And guess what. I've got a boyfriend for you!"

Nannie linked her arm through mine. "Tell, tell," she said eagerly. "The trip, this boyfriend, everything."

And I began to tell her the story of our trip.

Kristy.

Two months after our trip was over, Stacey received this card in the mail: Sat.u.r.day Dear Stacey, It's been a long time since we said goodbye at the airport. I hope you haven't been too worried. We wanted to wait until we had definite news before we wrote to you.

Marc's surgery was difficult. He was very brave, but he kept suffering infections after the operation. The doctors had warned us about that. Still, Mr. Kubacki and I weren't prepared for how frightening it would be.

Happily, Marc was allowed to come home a week ago. His recovery is expected to be slow but steady - and complete. By this time next year, he should be a normal, active boy. He wants a bicycle for his birthday!

Please drop us a line when you have time.

All the best The Kubackis Marc wants to add something here: Ps. Hi! I'm home! No more wheel-chair ! A bike isn't the only thing I want for my birthday. I want a skateboard too. and I want a back pack. To go camping. I want to see you. Maybe we can visit Connecticut. I love you!

Love Marc And that is the end of our trip. The very end. Stacey insisted it wasn't over until we knew how Marc's operation turned out. So now we know - successful and happy and wonderful.

Thank you, everyone, for the trip. It was the greatest trip we could imagine. And you are the greatest parents and friends we could imagine.

About the Author.

ANN M. MARTIN did a lot of baby-sitting when she was growing up in Princeton, New Jersey. Now her favorite baby-sitting charge is her cat, Mouse, who lives with her in her Manhattan apartment.

Ann Martin's Apple Paperbacks are b.u.mmer Summer, Inside Out, Stage Fright, Me and Katie (the Pest), and all the other books in the Babysitters Club series.

She is a former editor of books for children, and was graduated from Smith College. She likes ice cream, the beach, and I Love Lucy; and she hates to cook.





CHAPTER DISCUSSION