Last time the children knew Grandfather was up to something because he seemed angry. In an interesting (I’m using the adjective loosely here) change of events, this time they know something is up because he’s happy – he’s joking with Benny, and it’s an event to be remarked on and remembered and followed closely. At length. It really gives you some insight into day-to-day life with Grandfather, when any hint of emotion is an anomaly to be noted. I can only imagine that his normal state of being is a kind of catatonic, drugged out bliss—with blank eyes and a frozen expression of nothingness.
This time Grandfather has surprised his brood of orphans with a trip to the South Seas! Not on a cruise ship, as you’d imagine, but instead on a freighter, probably running illicit cargo to Tahiti. Grandfather had planned on just taking them to San Francisco and then he considered Tahiti (probably to sell as house slaves), but THEN his friend tells him about first mate Lars Larson (Gertie’s not too creative about naming people. It’s probably where Benny gets his skillz. Remember Potato Camp?) Lars got shipwrecked on this deserted island for an indeterminate amount of time, and it was so much fun (!) that he wants to go back FOR VACATION. I think Lars has PTSD. Sidebar – in another interesting insight of Life with James Henry (LWJH from now on), when the kids come in to meet Lars for the first time, Grandfather announces that he’s their friend from now on. He just decrees it so, and no one bats an eye. Let’s take a poll about why we think that he declares Lars their friend, so saith JH, let it be written instead of letting them decide if they actually want to be friends with this middle-aged stranger who has appeared in their living room and has whispered conversations with their grandfather behind closed doors. He calls them all “Mr.” and “Miss,” so he knows his place. This is probably why they don’t have more friends.