Patrick Biddle has been magically shrunk in his quest to help his new friend, the army scout from Scotland, Lutz McCoon, and travelled to Queensland, the ant colony in the back corner of his yard. After meeting Lutz’s relations, the McGroons (the McGroons of the How Now Green Cow ice cream fame), he is recruited to help a newly formed squad to investigate rumors of an approaching beetle army. While out on patrol, Patrick and Lutz–along with their new squad members Simon and Sergeant Snockelberry–have a variety of adventures, including surviving a flash flood; escaping the clutches of a devious, double-talking spider named Smilk; meeting Mr. Sipple, a worm residing at the top of the backyard apple tree; and taking an inadvertent flight on the legs of a bumble bee. Despite their best efforts, however, they detect no signs of an invasion. On returning to the ant colony, Patrick and the others start to suspect that the Queen’s nephew and aide, Sotrick, is not all that he seems. While at the ant fair (featuring a Ferris Wheel, cotton candy, a marching ant band and other county fair staples) Patrick decides to follow Sotrick when he is intercepted by the County Fair Soup Tasting committee represented by Colonel Futz, Butz and Putz …


Chapter Twenty-Eight

Colonels, Judges and Flyball Soup


“Excuse me, sir, would you just happen to be Patrick Biddle—the Patrick Biddle of Floodwater fame?” The ant speaking to Patrick had a very large nose, and black and purple fuzz spotted the antennas that stuck out of his hat. He spoke in what sounded like a clipped, German accent.

“Uh, yeah, that’s me,” replied Patrick, stepping forward.

“I am Colonel Futz. These are my colleagues, Colonel Putz and Colonel Butz.”

Two small ants stepped forward. They were so small they looked like kids. They were twins. Both wore coats that were too big, with the coat tails dragging along the ground.

“I, and my well-regarded colleagues, have been led to believe. . . .” Colonel Futz paused, politely coughed, looked about, and then continued in a low voice. “That you are an Expert Taster.”

“Yes, that’s what we have been led to believe,” added a high-pitched, girlish voice. It was Colonel Putz.

“I am?” asked Patrick, not sure what to make of the scene before him.

“Oh, yes, yes, yes. That is exactly what we were led to believe,” continued the big nose spokesman.

“And who. . . ?” asked Patrick.

“We have been told that you have a keen sense of taste, possess a cheery disposition, and, all in all, are a good sport,” continued Colonel Futz.

“Thanks, but. . . .”

“Therefore, it is highly recommended that you should join your fellow Expert Tasters as a Soup Judge.”
“Judge!” Patrick exclaimed. The idea shook him. Except for green cow ice cream, he was sure he did NOT like ant food. Yet, for some reason, these kooky judges expected him to judge ant food and that most surely meant he would have to eat ant food. He frowned at the thought.

“Oh, yes, a Soup Judge. The most important judging job in the entire Summer Solstice Celebration,” chimed in Colonel Putz with his girlish voice.

“You see, Hero of the Floodwaters. . . .”

Patrick turned to face a deep, bass voice with a southern drawl behind him. It was little Colonel Putz’s twin, Colonel Butz, speaking.

“We need five judges. That’s them there the rules. And, son, we need you desperate like. It ain’t a pretty sight back there. Ever seen fidgety ant women before?”

“Ah, no.”

“Well, you don’t want to see it. The look in them their eyes is downright scary and who can blame ’em? Some of them women folk, no doubt, have been spending hours perfectin’ their favorite soups: gut soup, speckled wing soup, dry weed soup, dragon snap soup, and the best of all, flyball soup. Yes, siree, we got the best jobs in the fair. But the rules say we gotta have five judges. Now that you’re on board, we’ve got four.”

“Yep, that’s them there the rules,” echoed the girlish voice.

As you can imagine, as soon as Colonel Butz uttered the words ‘flyball soup,’ Patrick’s stomach took a dive. He was desperate to find a way out of this predicament.

“But, I don’t want to be. . . .”

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