By Deborah Kalb, illustrations by Robert Lunsford
Sam began to head toward the binoculars, but found that he couldn’t move in their direction. It was as if there were an invisible wall between Sam and the binoculars, and he couldn’t break through it. Instead, he found his arm reaching toward the hats. But I don’t want a hat, he said to himself. I want a set of binoculars! His hand, however, seemed to have other ideas. It reached, not just for the hat at the top, but for one several hats down. It looked older than the others, which were all crisp and new.
Sam prepared himself for the dizzy feeling, but this time it didn’t come. Maybe he was getting used to the time-travel experience. Instead, he heard shrieks coming from J. P., and suddenly he saw the colors of the room start to whirl together, and then J. P.’s shouts were mingling with more shouts, those of hundreds of men, and the frantic neighing of horses, and when things settled down, he found himself with the hat on his head and a nervous-looking J. P. next to him in the middle of what looked like a forest.
Sam, half-listening to them, was trying to figure out what to do. Clearly, he needed to get back to the Delaware, retrieve Oliver and the hat, and get them back in time for dinner. But how could he get there without the hat? Maybe there were other hats in the Mount Vernon gift shop, even if they weren’t magic ones. Could the magic have rubbed off on them? But it was getting close to rush hour and the traffic would be backing up, and how could he get to Mount Vernon in time? The gift shop would probably be closed by then anyway.