Was it a draft in the chill chambers of the Argonaut that caused Polar Knight's illness? In all likelihood, we'll never know. But shortly after the Last Lunch, the Big Bard of Big Bed Land, our dear Polar Knight, began exhibiting symptoms of of Poet Fever.
"O, for a draught of vintage," he said as the Animals were closing up their lunchboxes. "O, for a beaker full of the warm South."
They gathered around thinking that Polar Knight was going to treat them to some light apres-lunch poetry.
"Ask not the draft horses to deliver the kiwis, their gleaming loins are meant for the new earth..."
The Animals looked at each other with concern - the Bard was making no sense at all.
"Draft me not into the service of coin, those unyielding battlefields of silver and gold, commanders with graven images on their coined hearts, I am more unyielding even than these, I will not go!"
The Animals began to whisper among themselves. "Does he need a draught of distilled terseness, perhaps even a drastic dose of minimalism?"
"No, no, the fever must be allowed to break!" Pink Bear insisted with such earnestness that they knew she was right. They all agreed and gathered around to listen silently as Polar Knight's delirium increased.
"O Piggles, Beloved, you draft the speech of bees in the roadside hives and fields and they nuzzle their language against the curve of a rose until the stamens tremble, O ecstasy of pollen, the long sigh of fragrance released..."
Some of the Animals had to try very hard not to laugh. "Polar Knight is going to wake up to a serious over-draft in his word bank," Lefty commented. But the Bard didn't even seem to hear as he continued:
"This timeless draught, drawn from the rose by the honey-bee, this timeless dreaht from the rose dragan, sweet scent pulled from an eternal vessel, we are tapping the moist door of heaven, her smell of dell..."
Duffy shook his head sadly. "I think Polar Knight's been at the OED again," as all the Animals started sniffing - the air was all at once steamy and fragrant. They left the Bard and began sniffing around the chamber of the submarine.
Pink Bear's smiling face became even more smiling as a portal of swirling blue appeared in the ceiling. "It's Code Bear," she said softly. "Of course," Pink Bear said to herself, "she's the draughtsbear, decoding the draft of the universe - that's called playing draughts. It's a game and also not a game. Wow."
Goat entered the chamber with Dog. He took in the situation of Polar Knight at once and began to speak in his deepest captain voice - but strange words came out:
"Wrap him in afghans of purple and vair
to sleep by the warp drive core."
Then Goat shook his head fiercely to rid himself of the spreading fever and whispered to Dog "You see how contagious this is - we must isolate the Bard immediately and inform the crew of our situation."
Dog gently hustled the Bard out of sight while Goat told the crew to prepare for action. "Battle-stations!" he cried.
Pink Bear suddenly realized what Code Bear was trying to say - to draft is to pull in the fishnet, and it is also the fish within the net. She knew she could never explain this to most of the other Animals, but she was very happy. Then the portal filled with bubbles - a face began to emerge from the frothy cloud - and she saw: Violet! Violet Mouse Fairy from Summer Island! Violet herself had appeared as the Code Bear. Wow!
"Attention all hands," Goat said in a very serious voice. "We have completed our journey through the Council underworld of sewer lines and we have surfaced in the bathroom of our cherished Monsters, J. and E. But something has happened - a transformation of some kind, this is not the bathroom we have known before. We may have encountered some kind of Space-Time Anamoly (STA.)"
The Animals knew it was time to be very brave.
"Life signs?" Goat asked Dog, who was at the viewscreen of the periscope.
"Unknown," Dog responded. "I can't get a clear scan through all this steam and this uncanny fragrance, it reminds me, O, it reminds me of some unknown home, the smell of earth and rain, the smell of sea..."
Dog began to drift into reverie, which he NEVER does, and Goat immediately recognized the danger.
"Everyone put on your noseplugs right now!" Goat commanded and little Animals paws and fins throughout the submarine reached up above their seats and pressed the small overhead panels which released the emergency nose-plugs. They all put these on and breathed comfortably through their mouth, as instructed by Pinky in a soothing Hostess voice.
Pink Bear, who was heady-fragrance-immune, looked through the periscope and knew immediately that it was not an STA, but an SPA (Space Pig Asterisk) and said: "Why it's a spa! A night-sky-blue spa with starry brass fixtures."
"But whose spa is it, that is the question," Goat said sternly. "It wasn't here when we left on our underworld adventure."
"Well if we don't know whose it is," Pink Bear suggested, "let's just hold an auction for it, and then whoever wins it can invite us all to their spa!"
The Animals were all silent for a moment. Then they realized the wisdom of Pink Bear's plan, and began to put it into action right away.