"We must get to work. There is much to tell," he said. Max followed him up the winding stairs and along the corridor into the crowded lounge.
"Sit... and get comfortable. We are going to be here for some time," he said.
"Is Laila coming, too?" Max had no sooner asked when he heard her climbing the stairs. She bounced through the door, her skirts swishing about her and her bangles chattering away on her arms.
"Ah, here you are. I've brought tea and scones and other goodies. We can't have you starve now, can we?" She set down a large basket brimming with flasks and plates of her finest cooking. She unpacked the things on the coffee table between them.
"Now, let me show you the map," Pa said. He pulled the stopper from the long cylinder he'd been holding and carefully he eased the map from the dark narrow tube. A musty smell swam though the air as he gently unfurled the old parchment.
The map had yellowed from age and its edges had worn from use. Quickly, Laila made room for the map on the table and Pa lay the map out, using a plate of scones and a tea flask to anchor the map to prevent it from rolling again. Max studied the markings. The map showed two islands connected by the thinnest strip of land.
"Where is this?" Max asked, looking to Pa.
"This is the place we are sending you. Are you sure you want to do this?" Pa asked.
Max looked at the map and then back at Pa.
"I don't have a choice," he said.