Once upon a time, back in 1968, Jean Lorrah and Willard Hunt wrote a fan-fiction story called "Visit to a Weird Planet," which was published in one of the first fanzines ever — Spocknalia — for Star Trek fan-fiction.

Fan Fiction Net (or the internet, for that matter) wasn't even a glimmer in someone's mind yet.

The premise of the story was simple. Due to a transporter accident (convenient thing, as always) Kirk, Bones and Spock of the Starship Enterprise were beamed onto the Desilu sound stage where Star Trek was being filmed, taking the place of the actors who portrayed them on Star Trek. There was a little 'incident,' that led to the original series not getting cancelled for the third season. For those of you too young to know, it almost was.

Then, in 1976, author Ruth Berman flipped the coin and told the other half of the story in Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited, revealing what happened to William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelly when they were beamed onto the Enterprise during that same period in time. This story was published in Bantam Book's Star Trek, the New Voyages.

These two stories have become classics of fan-fiction. Since they were written, the same idea has been adapted and written for Trek Voyager, Star Trek Next Generation, Quantum Leap, Highlander, Star Wars, and Battlestar Gallactica, just to name a few, and the idea was also used (loosely) for the movie Galaxy Quest, starring Tim Allen.

Now, after more than two years (off and on) of plotting and writing, we have finished our version of this story for The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Before you start reading, however, many thank you's are due. Thank you to all the GAMM loopies that helped us with GAMM trivia of every kind used in the writing of this story. So to Debbie, Haze, Judy, Sandra, Chantal, Susan, Mara, Krista and Kathy — Amanda and Mary thank you. I know there must be more people, unmentioned, and we thank you, too.

We also would like to thank the original GAMM writers, most particularly Jean Holloway, all the original actors of this still most beloved show, Lerner and Lowe, Jerry Herman, Twentieth-Century Fox, David Gerber Productions, and Josephine Leslie for starting it all with her original novel.

And as for the usual required disclaimers, this is a work of fiction. No profit is made by the writers. It is written purely for the enjoyment of the show and its characters, and actors — nothing more. The only payment we get is a review from you, the readers, and to you, our readers, we also give our thanks.

Mary and Amanda

A Meeting In Infinity

Or: "Carolyn, I don't think we're in Maine any more."

(Parallel lines run alongside each other, meeting only in infinity)

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Fox Studios, California xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

September 27, 1968

"Okay, cut it out, Edward. We really don't need this rain," Hope Lange teased her co-star as she joined him offstage for a between-scenes smoke.

Chuckling, the actor lit first her cigarette, then his own, and inhaled deeply. "Don't blame me. If I could cause a storm like my alter-ego does, it wouldn't be now, for heaven's sake! I had plans to go sailing this weekend, and the current weather will not be amenable to that." He fingered his jaw carefully. "Captain Daniel Gregg would get a shave, too. This beard itches."

"I just wish, rain or no rain, that we'll get out of here at a decent hour. I'm hosting the wrap party tonight," Hope sighed. "Well, if it keeps raining and your sail gets KO'd, and you don't have to get up early, come on by tonight. Alan and I love seeing you — socially, I mean. You don't go to enough of these things."

"Are you cooking?"

"Certainly."

"I'll consider it then. That makes the idea worthwhile." Edward glanced at his pocket watch. "The way things are going, I wouldn't count on not being late. You know, Hope, I wonder if getting involved in a TV series was a good idea or not, sometimes."

"They say we're just a steal of Bewitched in reverse," Hope agreed. "Cleveland Amory liked us, though. He called our show "intelligent," and that counts for a lot. Still, I wouldn't be surprised if we weren't out of work by mid-season. The old thirteen-week-curse. I'm afraid it's just not a believable idea, really, in the long run. I mean as a novel, or a one-time movie twenty years ago, yes, but…"

"We are actors," Edward pointed out, taking another drag off his cigarette. "We're supposed to MAKE it believable. However, I must agree with you. A living person falling for a ghost IS quite a stretch of the imagination. At least Darwin, or whatever his name is, can touch Liz Montgomery. And another thing... I'm still not sure I buy the idea that Jonathan knows about the Captain, but Candy doesn't. The pilot script indicated that she would learn about him the next day, then the network changed their mind, and the scene at the end with the kids, and you and me, got cut. It doesn't seem right to me, somehow."

"I loved that scene with you and the kids, and the part after." Hope shook her head. "I think someone decided the show could be funnier if some of the family was left in the dark. Maybe thatcan be believed, but honestly, even if it is for dramatic effect, Carolyn's an idiot in this episode! Giving away those valuable antiques! I fought that battle with the network and lost, but it STILL makes me angry. Carolyn isn't a stupid woman. And another thing bothers me... if the furniture and whatnot ARE antiques, Claymore never would have agreed to her scuttling them to begin with. He'd know what he had and say "no" right away, stop her and say, "make do, you rented the place as-is," or he would store the things she doesn't want somewhere else."

"That makes sense to me." Mulhare answered, gently touching his beard again. How he longed to give it a good scratch! "Perhaps you should be the writer, Carolyn Muir, and I could be the ghost, Daniel Gregg. It would be fun to have his powers, you know. That's it. Definitely. I wish Icould be a ghost for a day. Popping around this way and that, without courtesy of special effects. And just for continuity, you could be Carolyn, if only to keep me company. It would be a nice change for you. No early-morning call to the studio." He sneezed. "I bet ghosts don't get colds, either."

Hope laughed. "I like the way you think, sir. Okay. Right or left?"

"What?"

"Right or left?" she repeated.

Blinking, Edward shrugged. "Uh… right?"

"Well, you might get your wish," she smiled, reaching up to brush his face lightly, mindful of his faux beard. "An eyelash fell on your cheekbone. My grandmother always said that if you lost an eyelash and you guessed correctly which side it fell on, you'd get your wish. You did."

"Five minutes, people!" a voice shouted.

"Let's get back to it," Edward said resignedly. "After you."

XXX

When they arrived back on the set, their director, Lee Phillips, was looking at his watch. "Where the devil have you two been?" he demanded. "Honestly, your smoke breaks get longer and longer! You can smoke here, you know. Anyway, we still have two or three scenes left to shoot, and they're big ones. That and Jean…" He nodded to an attractive woman sitting in a director's chair. "…Just finished rewriting one of them, the pages are being retyped, and…"

Jean Holloway smiled. "No worries. Trimming this script is nothing compared to what I had to change for the pilot. We'll be fine."

"I certainly hope so," Phillips sighed. "This rain has thrown everything off a bit. The electricians are worried about power surges because of the weather, and…"

"We're here now, Lee," Edward cut the man off. "No fear. We'll get done. We always do."

"'Always' doesn't count when a series is only ten shows in, and this is only my second for Ghost," the director snapped back.

"But Vanessa was a great episode," Hope Lange soothed him. "And you're still contracted for Way Off-Broadway after we wrap this one. Listen, you've directed Dick Van Dyke, Andy Griffith and Peyton Place!" She made a face. "TV, version, that is. You have nothing to worry about, you..." A sudden boom of thunder interrupted her, and she rolled her eyes. "Edward..." she chided, teasingly, "I TOLD you to STOP that!"

"Claymore has been telling Captain Gregg to stop thundering for ages, but he never listens," Charles Nelson Reilly drawled from his chair. "Why should he start paying attention now?"

Without batting an eye, Reta Shaw noted dryly, "She's prettier than you."

This comment caused a general guffaw from the stage hands, grips and others nearby, and Edward Mulhare shook his head, then sneezed again. "For the last time today, I am not he, and I thank you to remember that." Then he added, looking tired, "Now, can we get moving, please?"

"Someone has a hot date tonight, I think," Reta murmured. "Me, I'd just like to wrap and get home at a decent hour. My daughter has homework to finish before her camp-out this weekend, and I'd love to be able to check it over before she leaves."

"I'm ready to go." Hope waved her hand.

"Fine. Great." Lee Phillips began. "Hope, Edward — Scene five — upper veranda. Apology scene."

"I thought we cut that," Edward frowned. "I've got the green change sheets. You said you didn't want him to apologizing to a woman."

"Right, Right." The director waved them onto the second story veranda set, which really wasn't on a second story level at all. "You wouldn't… I mean HE wouldn't apologize. Not saying the actual words, anyway. But the meaning will get across, Edward, if you read them properly, and I am sure you will. Besides, we had to cut. Show is running long."

"An apology from the Captain was wishful thinking on my part," Jean Holloway grinned from her corner. "A woman can dream… and I WAS hoping to use those lines from the novel, but I fixed them, Lee. Hope and Edward got those changes yesterday."

"And we're ready to shoot it," Edward sighed, putting on the wool suit jacket he had been holding. "Damn, it's hot." He started to wipe his forehead.

"You mean, 'blast,' dear Captain," said Charles, from where he was sitting, coffee in hand. "Ah-ah, Edward. No wiping! Remember, must not damage the lovely beard. I'm glad I don't have to wear one of those things."

"If you are playing my so-called nephew, some day you, too, will experience the joy and rapture." Edward grinned at the thought.

"I'd call it more like sultry in here, what with the rain and all," a gray-haired woman said, coming forward with a large powder puff. "Charles is right. We blot."

"'We' is ME, and this beard is far from 'lovely'," Mulhare growled. "This blasted beard is a bloody bother. It itches, and it's giving me a rash. Gloria Faye…" he spoke to the make-up artist, who was now powdering down the sweat from his forehead. "...Can't you figure out how to at least calm the itching?"

"Only one way, Edward," Gloria shrugged. "Grow your own. You wouldn't have to be so careful with it, and it would save you at least an hour's make-up time in the morning."

"I don't want to limit my roles in the off-season," Mulhare argued. "Besides, Captain Gregg could change his look, after all. He IS a ghost. Maybe he grew a beard when he was at sea and shaved it when he was in port. He could remember that and just… show up without it one episode. Just to try… See what the audience reaction is."

"Not a prayer," Jean Holloway piped up again. "I saw an article that ran last week in a Sunday supplement. The ladies LOVE your beard, Edward. No way do you get to get rid of it."

"Cheer up," Hope Lange whispered to her co-star. "Jean was telling me she is working on another episode where you MIGHT get to play one scene without it, just so people will know how you really look. You can get a reaction then. Dan Tobin, her husband, has a part in the same show. We should have the script in a couple of weeks."

"Just one scene without the blasted thing would be a blessing," the actor sighed.

"If you two are about ready to begin, I would dearly love to get at least one other scene in the can before lunch," Lee Phillips interrupted, not too kindly.

"Right," the two actors answered. The makeup artist stepped away, happy with both actors' faces, and a young man with clapboard stepped forward.

"Ready! Quiet on the set!" Phillips shouted. "Action!"

Hope Lange moved into position, broom in hand, staring out into an artificially lit "bright, dazzling morning." But her face stayed troubled, despite the ambiance surrounding her, then, on a signal, she froze in her tracks.

"Cut! Great! Hope, stay frozen. Edward, move in and take your place…" Deftly, the Irish actor moved into the line of the camera and stood still. "Action!"

"A beautiful day, isn't it, my dear?" Mulhare started, in a rich voice, filled with forced nonchalance. He moved closer to the actress, whose face remained worried and unhappy. She moved away from him slightly, not acknowledging the 'ghost.'

"…A crisp wind, fresh sea, a bright blue morning!" Mulhare continued, smiling at 'Carolyn,' who moved across the veranda set, camera following. "Look, I know I have a terrible temper. Sometimes it gets the best of me. I'm only human…" Silently, Hope's eyes began to shift to his, then they turned away again. "Well, at least I WAS." Receiving no further answer from his co-star, Mulhare continued. "Confound it, woman! I can't stand this blasted cold shoulder business. Say your piece."

"All right, Captain…" Hope Lange began, but just then, there was a blinding flash of light, a curious burning smell, and all the lights went out.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Gull Cottage xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

April 8, 1970 – 8:50 a.m.

Carolyn Muir turned on the television. "Captain! Come here! Tim Seagirt is on Dinah Shore, and he's playing your song!"

The ghost appeared beside her as their former visitor began to sing.

"If only I could touch your hand, the shorebird's call, the sea breeze, the mast that rises tall..."

Silently, the spirit reaffirmed the words in his heart. As the last notes played, he wished that just once, if not more, he could, in fact, touch Carolyn's hand, link her arm in his, kiss her lips.

Trying to dispel the pensive mood stealing over him, the Captain looked at the screen. "Who's the female guest?"

"Shirley Jones. She plays a singer on some TV show," Carolyn said. "You know, I used to wish I could be an actress." She made a face. "Claymore kinda cured me of that."

The Captain smiled. "I suppose you had some actor in mind as a leading man? Perhaps that Flynn fellow Martha is so enamored of?"

"Once upon a time, but now... I don't suppose you'd take a break from the sea, or from haunting, to co-star with me?" she teased mildly.

"If you were the leading lady, yes."

Thunder rumbled.

"Did I say something wrong?" Carolyn asked.

"That wasn't me, dear lady." He paused. "Carolyn, I... if I could exchange all my powers for the ability to make Tim's song, my song, come true... I would. At least once, my darling, that my hand could touch yours, but even better would be able to spend a lifetime with you... truly at your side. That's what my greatest wish is."

Carolyn looked thoughtful. "Well, Daniel, today is your birthday. Maybe you can get your wish because of that? Now that we know when it is, the kids think it should be a national holiday, at least in Schooner Bay."

Daniel Gregg chuckled slightly. "Maybe, I suppose. I've never made a wish on my birthday, or heard of such a thing, but if there is such a tradition, Carolyn, I would accept the idea with more enthusiasm than I could possibly say, and remain a gentleman." He gave his love a long look that said far more than his words.

"So would I, Daniel," she whispered, "but knowing that you lov…"

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Gull Cottage xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The lights were back on a moment later.

Hope shuddered. "That lightening was close." She frowned. "The thunder should have come by now, shouldn't it have?"

Edward nodded slowly, turning his head from left to right as he looked about the room. "Wait a minute! There's something off here! Where IS everyone?"

Hope looked around also, a slight sense of panic rising under her skin, replacing the prickly feeling of the energy that had enveloped them both just a few moments before. "There's nobody here! Charles? Reta? Jean? Lee?"

"I don't see them," Edward softly informed her. "Any of them, Hope."

"But… where did they go?" She looked about the room again, baffled. "We're still on the set, aren't we? Wait… how did we get to the living room?"

"Look, is that a wall over there?" Edward pointed. "That wasn't there before! How did it get there? Hope, where are the cameras? The cables? The lights?"

Slowly, Hope walked over to the other side of the room, reaching out to touch the area. "It IS a wall," she said softly. "One we've never filmed. I don't know any of the props or furniture here. Look at this old desk! What a lovely antique! It must be a hundred…" She stopped speaking, her green eyes growing larger. "Edward, If I didn't know better, I'd say we were in GULL COTTAGE, not on a set!"

"No… Someone went to a lot of trouble to pull off a joke, it looks like," Edward frowned. "And a marvelous mock-up it is, too." He looked around the room again. "Charles, okay, enough. Come on out and yell 'gotcha'… Now." He waited. "We agree, funny-man, you are the best prankster on set. Now, let's get on with things."

There was no answer, except for the clatter of toenails on polished wood as Scruffy charged in, growling at both actors.

"Looks like someone got away from their trainer, again," Hope sighed. "Come here, boy." The little dog continued to growl, and Hope looked over at her co-star. "He acts like he doesn't know us."

Edward shrugged. "Dogs have moods, I guess. Frank? Frank Inn, come get your charge before he takes a bite out of someone."

Letting out a small bark, the little dog made a dash for a doorway, where he stood, growling softly.

"I wonder what's wrong with him?" she asked. "Scruffy can be flighty, but he's never growled at me before!"

"Hard to say," Edward answered. "But he's not the only thing around here that isn't quite right today."

Hope glanced at the window. "At least the sun's come out. Wait… the windows are all… we shouldn't be able to see outside from the set!"

Edward joined her. "Look... there's a very small monkey-puzzle tree out there," he pointed. "Like it was only recently planted... maybe in the last year or so. Hopie, something is wrong! The front yard set can't be seen from the living room window! It's..."

This was all too strange, and as Hope started to move about the familiar, yet unfamiliar room, she felt a little dizzy. Reaching out reflexively to her co-star to steady herself, she gasped when her hand went through him. "Edward! You aren't there!"

"Of course I'm here!" Then, he realized what had happened. "But I… I'm not sure my body is, though."

Shaking her head to clear it, Hope sat down on the window seat, where she found a newspaper. "Schooner Bay Beacon," she read aloud. "Catchy title. I wonder which genius in props thought of it?" She smiled. "There's even an article by Carolyn Muir in here! They got the date wrong, though. We're shooting a November episode in September, but the paper is dated April 2, 1970."

"Are you sure it's not April first?" Edward asked, tentatively putting his hand through the wall as he did so. "That might explain… Good heavens! I AM a ghost! I was hoping you had just missed my arm. A ghost… I guess that explains why I don't have a cold anymore, and why my beard no longer itches! Say, Hope, your hair looks… different."

"Different?" Hope reached up to stroke it. "Hey, you're right…" Standing up, she peered in a mirror on the wall. "Hmm. I like the look, much better than what the make-up people have been doing to my hair lately, but, this is NOT what they did in make-up this morning!"

"I agree wholeheartedly," Edward nodded. "Nevertheless, Hope, I…"

"Okay, wait a minute, let's be… logical," Hope started again. "This can't be Gull Cottage, or Schooner Bay, and I can't be Carolyn Muir and… and you can't be a ghost, they don't exist. They're pretend."

"You sound like Carolyn did in the pilot," Edward grinned slightly. "I would like to agree with you, but, is there any other explanation?"

"Someone put something funny in our cigarettes?"

"Clever, but I hardly think we would have identical hallucinations," the new ghost remarked dryly. "You know, Hope, right before the lights flashed, we were wishing we could be our characters. Perhaps, somehow, we are?"

"That's insane… but if it's NOT true, then we must be nuts, and I don't feel nuts… much," Hope gulped. "Maybe it's the Twilight Zone that's real! Well, if this is truly Gull Cottage, I want to look around. Besides, maybe if we play along, whoever rigged this up will get their jollies, come out, have their laugh, and we can get this shoot over with."

"I'm with you," Mulhare nodded. "For one thing, if we are really in Maine, and this is Gull Cottage, I just have to go see if there's a beach out there, and a real shoreline. If there is, I don't care how we got here… much. I never get seaside as often as I'd like to and…" Looking up past him, toward the very real fireplace, Hope let out a low whistle. He turned back to her. "What is it?"

"Well…" she sighed. "There's one thing the writers got right…"

"What?"

"Captain Gregg…" Edward followed Hope's gaze to the fireplace and the mantle over it. "He IS magnificent," Hope said slowly. "His portrait is much better in… person. I mean, here in Gull Cottage," she added, moving a step or two closer. "REALLY magnificent. This painting is… he's… incredible."

"Hope…" Mulhare's eyebrows went up. "You are a married..."

"But not dead…" she paused. "Whoops. Sorry. Just admiring the… view, that's all."

"That's all right." He smiled. "I'm not sure yet that I am… dead, either."

"Edward, how does it feel?"

"Feel?"

"Feel being… dead. Or whatever you are, I mean you aren't dead, but you are really, I mean if you are Daniel Gregg… how does it feel?"

"I'm not sure yet," he shrugged. "I may need to walk around in this fellow's shoes for a while." He rubbed his hands together. "I see I am self-contained… that is, to me, I feel like a… person. And I'm not sinking through the floor, so I have some stability." He reached for the copy of the Beacon, still in Hope's hand, slowly, making contact with it. "And it would seem I can touch inanimate objects, but…" Carefully, this time, he moved his hand to touch her shoulder, but as Hope's hand had earlier, it went right through her. "Nothing," he sighed. "Could you feel anything?"

Hope shook her head. "No, nothing at all. I'd say that really does cinch things, Edward. I…"

"What?"

"I was just thinking. If this place is real, and we are now Captain Gregg and Carolyn Muir for a day, or however long, we need to find out where everyone is."

"You're right," Edward nodded. "If this is Gull Cottage, and with that portrait of Gregg… me… HIM… up there, I don't see how it could be anything else, we are going to have to at least ACT like we know what the devil is going on, even if we don't at all."

The carriage clock on the mantle piece struck the hour, and they jumped.

"Nine o'clock…" Hope muttered. "Well, the children… Candy and Jonathan, I mean, are in school."

"How do you know they aren't here in the house somewhere?" Edward scratched his head. "And if this is Gull Cottage, since when is there a clock on the mantle?"

"Things change in a year," Hope shrugged. "It's a year and some later here than it is when we are… were filming. I rearrange things at my house at least every three months, schedule permitting. I get carried away at the art galleries. And..." she grinned, "...as for knowing the kids most likely aren't here, you are so obviously a bachelor, ghost or human! If this were a weekend, the kids would be down here, watching Saturday morning cartoons." She nodded to a console TV set in a far corner. "The TV isn't on, and there isn't a child in sight, therefore it must be a weekday, and a school day. Ergo, that's where Candy and Jonathan are. School."

"Oh," he nodded. "That does make sense. What about Martha? If this is Gull Cottage, she is here somewhere."

"Well, since she isn't here in the living room, there are equal chances that she is either in the kitchen, on the sun porch doing laundry, or outside in the back yard, since we didn't see her in the front yard when we looked out the window a few minutes ago, or perhaps she drove Candy and Jonathan to school?" Hope summarized the possibilities. "She didn't answer when we called out for Charles and Reta and everyone, either. Why don't you pop into the kitchen and see if she is there, first?"

"What do I say if I see her?"

"'Hello,' would be good. Tell her you want some coffee."

"I'm a ghost, remember? I don't even know if I drink coffee."

"Edward, so far, in the Ghost episodes we have filmed, you smoked cigars in Whiz Bang and sipped champagne in Mister Perfect. It follows you can drink coffee."

"That's there, this is here," the actor frowned again. "I sometimes wonder if the writers don't write what they do for dramatic effect, not logic, or continuity. You know, like Carolyn giving away the antiques when she really should know better. What if the real Captain Gregg doesn't drink coffee?"

"Ask for tea instead."

"Smart-aleck."

"Okay. Tell her you are being nice, and getting it for me, then."

"I think something stronger would be better."

"Funny. At nine in the morning? A mite early, isn't it? Just… do it. I'll wait here. We can't wander around like strangers and poke around willy-nilly until we know no one but Scruffy will see us."

"And he has to calm down, too," Edward pointed out. "Back in a minute." Then, without a "ping," or shimmery noise, he vanished. Hope's eyes turned once more toward the magnificent portrait and stayed there until another shrill bark from Scruffy brought her out of her reverie.

"Oh, hush, you," Hope said, coming closer and reaching out to the little dog slowly, her hand near the floor. "You aren't much bigger than my Yorkie, Scruffy. I wish he were here. You two could play together… or go bury bones, at the very least." Tentatively, the terrier reached out and licked Hope's fingers. "There! That's more like it!" Hope exclaimed. "So you want to be friends?" Scruffy yapped, and Hope watched as his tail started to wag. "I bet you could help show us the rest of the house, couldn't you, boy?" She gave him a pat.

Scruffy's friendly, answering bark was a relief.

"Not another soul in the house," Edward pronounced, materializing once more, making Hope jump.

"Darn it! Stop that, would you?"

"Stop what?"

"Coming in out of nowhere like that! Can't you knock?"

"Hope, I am a ghost, remember?" He rubbed his chin.

"Rattle a chain, or something."

"Cute. You know, I am getting the oddest feeling of deja vu here. I do believe I have said these words before… or WILL."

"You aren't a ghost, Edward. Don't get lost in the part."

"I'm not, even if I AM at the moment. Just stating a point."

"Well just… DON'T, okay?"

"I'll try."

"Did I hear you say nobody is here?"

"Not a soul," Edward shook his head. "Just you and me… and Scruffy."

The actress took a deep breath. "Then if we are going to look around, we better hurry. If Martha is here, she can't possibly stay in town, wherever that is, all day. Where do we start?" Hope asked, looking up at Edward.

"Outside. We might as well begin at the beginning. Then the upstairs. You can relive filming that part of the pilot. I'm glad to join you! I wasn't even there the day you filmed the scenes on the outside of the house, remember?"

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Fox Studios, California xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

There was a flicker, it felt as if the power had gone out, but when they blinked, a loud voice was saying, "All right, no reason to panic… everyone hold your places, please!" There was a pause. "Hope, Edward… are you two all right?"

Carolyn felt a warm, yet somehow familiar form brush against hers in the darkness, and Daniel Gregg's welcome, yet puzzled tone came to her ear.

"Hope? Edward? Who in blazes are they?"

"Edward? Hope?" The voice came again. "Don't move around. Just hold on to the ship's wheel."

Ship's wheel?

"Are you two all right? The portable generators will be on in a minute." The lights came up a few moments later, and the couple looked around. Where in the world WERE they? Before they could vocalize that thought, the voice was speaking again. "Well, the emergency sign's on, and we can't do anything until it goes off. Everyone take... however long that takes." There was a pause and then a stranger gave the Captain and Carolyn an annoyed glare. "Edward, if you wanted a longer break, all you had to do was say so. I wouldn't have given it, but this is extreme, yes?" He chuckled. "You might as well get your nicotine fix in while we wait. You, too, Hope. You probably put him up to it, anyway."

"I BEG your pardon?" Daniel glared at the other man. "Just what in heaven's name are you talking about?" His eyes swept the room. "What sort of wizardry is this? Where… what have you done to my house?"

The speaker rolled his eyes. "Good grief, Edward! Don't tell me you've gotten on Hope's bandwagon, too! The script stands, unless Jean tweaks it more... but even if she does, the antiques have got to go. It's a necessary plot device. Now, go smoke or whatever, and DO NOT scratch at your 'lovely' beard or I'll sic Gloria Faye on you. You DO remember what her last Faye fit was like?"

"Sir, I do not scratch at my beard..." Daniel started, reaching toward his chin, suddenly realizing he could actually feel an uncomfortable burning sensation there. He pulled his hand away. "I'll have you know I have no intention of being chastised by ANY woman! I ask you again! What in the blue-blazes is going on here, and what...?" He glanced first at Carolyn, then around the room, looking for a familiar face. Finally spying 'Martha' and 'Claymore.' "You! What are you doing, sitting there? What is going on here, and where did you come from? You were…"

"Good question," Reta Shaw drawled. "My part has been in the can for a while, since the kids' last scene shot, but the beloved contract says I've got to be here, so here I am, dressed for action. I just hope today doesn't run too late. Like I said, I want to get home to my daughter at a reasonable time. For once. Just stay in character, Edward. Maybe it'll help us move along."

"You only say that because he doesn't abuse Martha, just poor Claymore," the lanky man seated beside her scolded. "But, yeah. Let's hope this doesn't go on long. Lee wants to re-shoot part of my scene with Hope, if there's time. Sooo, I'm just hanging around." He shrugged. "Oh well. It does give me a bit of a chance to do some reading for the play I'm directing in New Haven this summer."

"Claymore, I thought you gave up directing," Daniel scowled. "You have absolutely no…"

"Maybe we DO need a break, uhm, Edward," Carolyn said quietly, her soft voice interrupting him as much as a shout.

"You do if you can't remember my name," the tall man quipped. "Charles Nelson Reilly. Oh…" He stood, and bowed dramatically. "…And allow me to introduce Reta Shaw, your other co-star, Jean Holloway, the writer of this episode, and Lee Phillips, your director." He gestured in the latter two's direction. "Does that cover the basics, my dear fellow? Yes, I believe so. Now, Edward, you obviously need a break. You just go smoke a cigarette or three or four, and if nothing is working by then, I'll join you for a cigar. Never fails, you know. I light a cigar and Lee calls for me back here."

The need to get somewhere with Carolyn, not HOPE, blast it, and discuss whatever had happened outweighed the need to trounce 'Claymore.' With a nod, Daniel allowed, though saying the words threatened to choke him, "Perhaps you are correct." On that note, he followed Mrs. Muir away from the others.

When they had achieved a degree of privacy, Daniel hissed, "Now, Madam, what the deuce is going on here? Who are Edward and Hope, why are they calling Martha and Claymore Reta and Charles, and where is my blasted house?" He frowned. "And what has happened to your hair, Madam? I thought you abandoned that style some time ago?"

Reaching up, Carolyn touched her hair tentatively. "I don't know. Everyone seems to know US, but not by our names, and… I don't know most of these people. Those I do, Claymore — Martha — don't seem like themselves at all!" Frustration made her feel like crying, but now was not the time, she was sure of that. "It's like some horrible dream. Do you think it could be?"

"I do not dream, my dear," he gently reminded her. "Any more than I smoke cigarettes! Or you either. Or than my beard itches, or I get hot."

"Are you hot… uncomfortable now?"

"Very much so," he nodded, removing the wool jacket he was wearing.

"Captain, when we were in the dark, literally, that is, I reached out and touched you," Carolyn said. "I was trying to balance... but I touched someone, and I think it was you, but that's not possible."

"No, it's…" Breaking off, he reached out and touched her hand, experimentally.

"I felt that," she breathed.

"As did I," he nodded slowly. "If I could dream, then I would certainly include that detail!"

"So would I! Daniel, could we be in a dream? This looks like a theater, or maybe a TV or movie set..." Carolyn trailed off. "Maybe this is all real and our lives... what we remember, have been a dream?" She shook her head again. "But that does not seem right at all." Confused and a little scared, she looked down at the bound papers in her hand. Curious to see what they were, she began reading. "Captain, this… read your... script."

Though taking orders from a woman was against his nature, the Captain did as she asked.

"This appears to be about..."

"When I… chopped down your tree and got rid of the antiques," she concluded. Suddenly, that man Lee's comment about antiques made some sense. "This can't be a dream. If I were going to dream about that… I'd have just topped the tree this time, as you suggested, and not disposed of your chart rack or breakfront."

"What about the sofa?" he teased slightly.

With a flash of her normal humor, Carolyn returned his look, "Oh. That would still go." She glanced around the large sound stage, seeking some clue.

"You know, Candy and Jonathan are fond of that space show with the pointy-eared chap," Daniel mused, reflexively stroking his beard. It did feel fake. "A little while ago, there was one in which the crew beamed into another universe, switching places with other versions of themselves. Mirror, Mirror, I believe it was called. I grant the notion that the same thing has happened to us is outlandish, but you do live with… ah… me. That's not quite the norm, either."

"You have a point," Mrs. Muir conceded, after thinking over the idea. "Now, where is Scotty to beam us back?"

"Scotty, I fear is still only a character in a television show," the Captain smiled slightly, looking at the script again. "But then it appears, so are we!"

"No, I'm not." Carolyn said decidedly. "I'm real, and I live at Gull Cottage, in Schooner Bay, Maine with you and Martha, and…" She broke off, her face turning white. "Daniel! Oh, heavens! Daniel, where are Candy and Jonathan?"

"The little ones…" His brilliant blue eyes scanned the area. "They aren't here…"

"Martha was taking them to school," Carolyn said, her voice getting shaky. "But Martha is here and talking about HER daughter! When did SHE get married? She hasn't said ANYTHING about Candy and Jonathan…" The volume of her voice went up a notch, and there was a quiver to it.

"Wait a minute, yes she did," Daniel snapped his fingers.

"She didn't say anything!" Carolyn was about to tip over the edge into panic now.

"Yes, she did, Carolyn. She said… something about her scenes have been in the 'can' for a while, whatever that means, since the KIDS' last scene shot, and then something about her contract... I suppose that means acting contract? Says she has to be here."

"So?"

"So… look, my dear, I am no expert in these matters, but it would seem to follow that if everyone around here thinks you and I are ACTORS, perish the thought, then that means Martha and Claymore are actors, also."

"And?"

"Carolyn, dear lady, that means Candy and Jonathan are actors, too."

She shook her head. "I don't know. I see your logic, but I want to find out for myself. I have to know they aren't wandering around here somewhere, and terrified."

"My dear you know perfectly well that if either of your progeny were here and wanted to find you, anywhere, anytime, they would."

She grinned. "You have a point there, but Daniel, I just can't go back to that… that set or whatever it is without knowing they are all right."

"I understand," he nodded, closing his eyes a moment to concentrate.

"What are you doing?"

"Merely trying to… What does Candy call it? "Home in" on them."

"I didn't know you could do that."

"But of course. I've been able to for some time." He pulled his ear. "I first noticed I could do it with you, then Jonathan, of course, then Candy, and now Martha. It comes…" Carolyn swore his face was turning a slightly darker red. "...I have learned it comes when you develop… when you love someone, and, blast it, my darling, I do love you and yours."

"And we… I... you," she whispered, and drew a tad closer to him. "Can you feel them around here anywhere?"

He shook his head, sadly.

"HOPE! EDWARD!" A voice came from twenty feet away, and they stepped apart. A young man, one that they had seen earlier on set, right after the lights came up, called to them. "Lee says they think everything will be shut down at least another fifteen minutes, and not to wander too far."

"Uhm… okay," Carolyn answered, forcing a cheeriness she didn't feel. "Ah..." Coming closer, she saw the man was wearing a studio badge. "Uh, Henry… we were just wondering we haven't seen Ca… I mean, the kids today. Do you know where they are?"

"In class, of course," Henry answered, a puzzled look coming to his face. "Mrs. Bone has them working on a history assignment, I believe." He grinned. "Memorizing the order of the U.S. Presidents. Kellie wasn't too happy about the whole thing. Harlen either, for that matter. They wanted to go swimming this afternoon, but the weather isn't cooperating, so they will be in class all day, looks like, unless Lee changes his mind and decides he needs one or the other of them for a scene."

"Class…" Carolyn murmured. "Ah... you know, I haven't visited them during school hours in ages, and I thought we might drop in for a moment and say hello... you know."

"Keep touch with your stage kids?" Henry nodded. "Well, that's nice of you. You'll have time before we all go back to work. Lee wants to get at least one more scene shot before lunch — maybe one and a half. He's catering it in, to save us time."

"Well, isn't that… Uhm, considerate of him," Daniel put in, just as his stomach rumbled. Was he hungry? After all, it had been over a century since his last real meal.

"Very," Henry nodded. "Well, if there isn't anything else you two need, I'll be…"

"Ah, actually, Henry, there is," Carolyn said, trying to keep her voice steady. "As I said, I wanted to say hello to… Kellie and Harlen, but I can't seem to find their, Uh, classroom. Do you know where it is?"

Henry cocked his head. "You feelin' all right, Miss Lange? It's right over there, where it always is." He pointed toward a small silver trailer mounted on blocks about two hundred feet away, across the sound stage.

"Of course," Daniel nodded. "I saw that, uh, Hope, it just didn't register. I was thinking their trailer was… gold."

"Nope, never been," Henry said. "Mr. Mulhare, you okay?"

"Why of course," Daniel answered, though he felt anything but. "Hope, come. We'll need to hurry if we want to see them before we start… doing whatever it is we're doing here. Thank-you, Henry." Offering Carolyn his arm reflexively, they headed off, leaving Henry scratching his head.

XXX

Although they wanted to find the kids and see if they were Jonathan and Candy or the "stage kids," the two found themselves peering around curiously. Neither had ever seen a television stage, but now that they had, it was somewhat less than they might have expected.

"That seascape is on the wrong wall," Daniel whispered loudly. "And my portrait looks too old. What sort of place is this, all chopped up? It's nonsensical. Makes me think of that painter, Escher." From his tone, one could tell he was not a fan of the artist.

"Shush," Carolyn hissed back. "Keep your voice down. This is supposed to be... normal for us."

"Hmph. Still, what in the world are harpoons doing hanging on the kitchen wall? Is Martha going to kill a whale for dinner?"

Carolyn choked back a giggle. "Don't make me laugh. Oh, dear. They don't have the west wall in the kitchen, the one where I hang up the kids' artwork. Why couldn't another wall be taken out? But it would be nice if the master cabin was on the same floor as the living room on nights when I'm really tired."

Daniel enjoyed hearing her refer to the bedroom as a cabin.

"Oh BLAST it, how ridiculous!" Carolyn burst out.

"Madam, your voice," he reminded her.

"Look! The yard is a handkerchief, and one of those fake types that they put in women's suits at that. And the landscape! The background doesn't even look like the view from anywhere at all. It looks like pictures you might buy at a gas station, not a real seascape."

"I agree, my dear, but this is not the time or place," the Captain whispered. "However, even though I have always considered my... our home lovely, it has become even more so, now that I have a basis of comparison."

"Everything looks so... empty," Carolyn nodded, then whispered. "I don't like... " She stopped. "We're here."

When they reached the trailer door, it was open slightly, and 'Candy's' bored voice came from inside.

"Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, John Quincey Adams, Jackson, Harrison, McKinley…"

"Ah, you skipped one," another familiar voice said. "You forgot Van Buren."

Carolyn had the door open in a flash, and the occupants of the room looked up, startled.

"Why, hello, you two," an older woman, obviously the children's teacher, smiled. "What brings you here? Power still out on the set?"

"Hi, Miss Lange, Mister Mulhare," Kellie Flanagan chirped.

"Hi," Harlen Carraher echoed. "Whatcha doin here?"

Carolyn recoiled slightly, for in front of her were two children, clearly NOT hers, as she knew them, for while they were similar, amazingly so, they were also easily two years younger than her Jonathan and Candy, looking EXACTLY the way they did the day came to Schooner Bay, not as they had that morning when they left for school.

"We're… that is we were just in the area, and thought we would stop and say hello," Daniel said, in what he hoped was a steady voice. Seeing the children he loved as such was like peering into the wrong end of a telescope.

"Well that was nice of you, I'm sure," Mrs. Bone nodded. "We are still a long way from being done with the presidents, though, so I'm afraid we can't chat long."

"I… I… we… won't keep you… " Carolyn stammered. "As… as Edward said, we were just passing by, and, well, I suppose we will see you later." Hastily she backed out the door she had so recently entered, hoping the children couldn't see her tears.

"I'd best be going, too," Daniel said quietly.

"You don't have to rush," Harlen piped up. "I can't remember who the next president is, anyway."

"All the more reason for you to return to your studying, lad," Daniel said, and closed the door.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Gull Cottage xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The old house WAS beautiful. Just walking from the living room to the front door was slightly different from anything Hope and Edward had filmed, and it was so much BIGGER than their sound stages at Fox! There was indeed, a REAL outside, as Edward Mulhare had wished for, and both actors were delighted with it.

"It's a real, REAL house, not a set!" Hope exclaimed. "It's beautiful... I've never seen anything like it! But, look! The lions are still here!"

"And the flagstone walk, and stone gate, and a new monkey-puzzle tree... but the porch looks more like the one from the pilot. I'm sorry I didn't get to see the house where you filmed that, but this rather makes up for it," Edward answered. "This 'cottage' looks every bit as big as that place did."

"At least," Hope nodded. "Bigger, I think. You really would need a Martha to keep this place neat. Inside, now?"

"Yes."

Now that Hope and Edward were sure that no one was there to catch them, they began to explore Gull Cottage in earnest, with the delight of children, exclaiming to each other every time they found a familiar prop, or piece of set dressing. Hope was charmed when she located the piano in the alcove, invisibly played in Haunted Honeymoon, and Edward had to practically drag her away from the old-fashioned kitchen, she protesting that it was much different from the actual set, and that she wanted to turn on the old-fashioned stove. Mulhare had to relive his scene with Kenneth Mars in Captain Gregg's Whiz Bang when he found the Captain's belaying pin and sword in living room, and Hope giggled, remembering the ship in a bottle business William Daniels had suffered through while playing seasick in Mister Perfect. Edward was especially fascinated when he found the Real James Gatley barometer hanging on the 'bulkhead' in the hall leading to the upstairs.

Heading to the second level, the actors continued to explore. Though in many ways, the set designers had been remarkably accurate in their rendition of the old house, there were some differences. Where the stage version of their 'home' was neatly perfect, small, personal touches in this house disrupted that in reality. Jonathan's sneakers had been left on the floor in the hall, and Candy's raincoat, carelessly dropped over a chair. Upstairs, they both exclaimed over the master cabin, seeing that it took up the entire front of the house. It was indeed a magnificent room. In there, artfully draped over a chair, was the shawl Daniel had given Carolyn, only the week before, for them, in Vanessa. An exquisite piece of scrimshaw, a totally unfamiliar piece of set dressing, sat on the small mantle piece. However, exactly as Hope, while playing Carolyn, noted, the telescope and binnacle were without a speck of dust, and the ship's wheel was in exactly the same spot on the upper veranda.

Traveling down the hallway again, they discovered the biggest change of all. Peeking into the other two doors, they could tell immediately that the room… set they knew as the nursery, Candy and Jonathan's room, now belonged solely to Candy; this made obvious by the decorations, and that another room down the hall that did bear similarities to the guest room used for Mister Perfect was now what could only be Jonathan's room. The chest dug up in Treasure Hunt stood at the foot of his bed, peg-leg leaning against it, and model ships were on shelves all over the walls. On the far end of the room, in a glass-fronted bookcase, was a set of new encyclopedias that neither Hope nor Edward had ever seen before.

"The place looks so… homey… " Hope gulped. "Edward, let's go back downstairs. I think we are intruding here. This place isn't a TV set. It's a home. These rooms are private."

"I agree," he said softly, and together the two made their way downstairs to the kitchen.

"I'm not sure what to do now," she said quietly, a cloud coming over her face.

"Hopie, what is it?" Edward asked. "I know everything is strange here, but I also feel we haven't been… permanently transplanted, or anything. We'll get home. I just know it."

"I know we will. I was just feeling very sorry for them, that's all."

"For Captain Gregg, you mean?"

"Yes, but Carolyn, too. What I am trying to say is for the last few months we have been portraying these characters, but maybe we… or I at least have been missing something. Can you imagine, maybe better now, how they feel? This place is so… personal. Edward, there's a real family here, and we don't belong."

"Hope, we didn't ask to be here. We were just… zapped here. And if we are here, they are there on our TV set having to ACT for heaven's sake, and no doubt feeling just as uncomfortable, if not more so."

"I know that, but Edward, that's not all. Don't you remember? In your speech at the end of the pilot episode, the audience knows right then how much Daniel cares for Carolyn. That was one of the original main ideas. There's such a family feeling in this real house, yet they can't be a family, because Carolyn and Daniel can't… be together. They can't even touch! Not after two years! They can't totally express how they must feel! Can you imagine how frustrating it must be for them?"

"I think I am starting to, perhaps," Edward answered, tugging at his ear. "You know I don't think I could bear the idea of a hundred years of solitude. Alone-ness. No companionship at all? The Captain must have been so very lonely in this big place by himself, before they arrived, whether he wanted to admit it or not. Now, with the Muirs, he has a real family."

"Edward, do you suppose that's part of why we were zapped here? Someone, somewhere wanted us to understand that?"

"I have no idea," the Irishman shook his head. "I won't rule anything out, at this point, but I have no idea of what is coming next!"

The two stared at each other, silently.

"MRS. MUIR!" A shout came from the foyer. "It's me! Martha! My hands are full! Can you come help me?"

"I guess that answers that," Hope said, raising an eyebrow. "Martha's home."

"Hello...?" the voice called again.

"You better go help her, Hope. Sounds like she needs it," Mulhare said.

"Aren't you coming? Don't you want to see her?" Hope asked nervously. "What if she sees that I'm not…?"

"I wouldn't mind seeing her, but she doesn't know about me, remember? But I think you're safe. You don't look like the Carolyn… I mean, Hope Lange you were."

"Hello? Anyone there? Mrs. Muir? Captain Gregg?" Martha called again.

"Hope!" Edward hissed. "She DOES know about me!"

"It would appear so," the blonde nodded. "I'd say it's safe to come along, 'Captain Gregg'."

"Right," he saluted.

Hope headed for the foyer, with Edward following right after her. "I'm telling you, I don't mind the company," Hope whispered as they reached the front door, still not in the housekeeper's line of vision. "Try and act like a ghost, okay?"

"Aye-aye." On that note, he popped out, to reappear at the front doorway. Hope frowned.

Well, I DID ask him to act like a ghost!

"The kids were not thrilled about going to school today," Martha reported. "And they didn't buy my story about traveling to school on foot, five miles in the snow every day, uphill both ways. Mrs. Muir, could you grab this bag, please?"

"Why don't I take it, Martha?" Edward asked, pointing his index finger, and floating the bag from her arms to his. "I'll get them all in."

The housekeeper did a double take. "I thought you said doing such things was women's work?"

"Uhm… well, yes, certainly it is, but you DID just finish the shopping… wait… I have a better idea. Put the other bag down, Martha."

Mystified, the housekeeper did as the ghost asked, and a moment later, both women saw the bags rise from the floor and start floating toward the kitchen. The bags turned the corner, and were soon out of sight.

"Is there anything else in the car, Martha?" the actor asked, a smug expression on his face.

"Just Scruffy's bag of dry dog food," she said slowly. "I can get that in a minute. Captain…"

"Allow me," the new ghost smirked. Gesturing, he motioned the car door open, and a few moments later, the dog food was following the groceries.

Once she recovered from the surprise of Captain Gregg doing something even vaguely akin to housework, Martha thanked him.

"Too bad I can't take you to the store in town to load the car, too, but I think we've finally dampened down most of the haunted house rumors, and having grocery bags float around in public would get'm going again. I might not be able to bake a cherry pie good enough to get Ed back out if that happened. I can just see the expression on the PTA ladies' faces!"

"PTA?" Hope echoed.

Martha nodded. "Yes indeed. I ran into the Mrs.'s Post, Coburn, Jenkins and Gilbert while I was shopping. They were all most grateful to you for hosting the meeting this afternoon, and are looking forward to the goodies. I picked up an extra bag of those little cookies Mrs. Post likes, too. I'm making appetizers, but she eats like an eleph... that is, she has a hearty appetite. And I'll be baking an angel cake, along with the other chopping, dicing and slicing I have to do before the herd arrives, so I will thank you, Captain, not to thunder, or anything, when Claymore arrives to fix that pipe in the cellar later this morning. It needs doing, and I don't want my dessert to fall."

"I, Martha?" Edward raised an eyebrow. "Why would I do that?"

"Well, I know how you feel about stowaways on your "ship." Especially Claymore."

"You misjudge me, my dear."

"I do, do I? Well good, because if you really plan on not thundering, I think I'll hang the sheets I put in the washer on the line before I start in the kitchen. No sense wasting electricity on the dryer on such a beautiful day!" She smiled. "Thanks again for the help. You, too, Mrs. Muir." She scratched her head as she left, and the two actors heard her mumble, "Captain... groceries... I wonder if he's sick?"

When Martha was out of earshot, Edward looked at Hope expectantly. "Well? I think we pulled that off effectively."

Shaking her head, Hope glanced in the direction Martha had gone. "I don't know. You were terribly agreeable."

"Isn't that good?" Edward asked.

"Normally, yes, but I got the impression the real Daniel Gregg might behave at least a little differently."

He shrugged. "I can't very well ask Martha what Captain Gregg acts like. I can just play along. Improv is not my favorite style."

"Mine either, but it looks like we're stuck with it," Hope said thoughtfully. "At least I won't have to fake acting like a mommy while sitting through the PTA meeting. With Christopher and Patty still in grade school, I've done that plenty of times. It seems to be the only place I am just another woman and the moms don't treat me as anything special. Only thing is, Martha said, "host." I hope that doesn't mean I have to chair the meeting. If it does, I'm in trouble. I haven't a clue as to what will be going on... other than these things are usually long and boring."

"I'm more interested in the fact that Martha can SEE me," said Edward. "When do you suppose that happened? And if Martha can see me, do you think Kellie... that is, Candy can?"

"I would think so," Hope answered. "I can't imagine everyone knowing but her. I would love to know how she found out, though. That would be a cute episode."

"Do you think maybe that scene — the one we were talking about earlier — the one in the pilot where the Captain says "In the morning, you won't be afraid of me," do you think here it happened, and Candy has known about me, I mean him, the whole time? From the beginning?"

"I don't think so," Hope shook her head. "My instinct says if Candy knows, and I am sure she does, she found out later. But what is happening here in... Is it real life? It just goes to prove it should have been like that all along."

"I think the network is wrong, too, Hopie. We've discussed this, but we don't have time to talk about it right now. I think it's more important to keep up with just being here."

"You're right," she allowed.

"Of course," he smirked in return.

Rolling her eyes, she shook her head again. "Okay, you've got Captain Gregg down. Now…"

Whatever she was about to say was lost when a sharp cry from out back interrupted her.

"OWWW!"

"Martha!" Hope gasped.

Instinctively, Edward vanished to see what had happened. "You better come, Hope," he said, reappearing, all smugness removed from his tone. "It's Martha. She's taken a fall."

"Fall? Fall where?"

"Back yard, where else? It looks like she was on her way inside after hanging those sheets she was talking about."

"Let's go."

A few moments later, ghost and human were met with a pitiful sight. An empty clothes' basket lay on its side, a foot or so from Martha, who had one leg partly underground as she lay on her side trying to extricate it, with Scruffy 'helping' by poking her with his nose and running around her. When Hope and Edward arrived, the terrier took off toward the front of the house. "I seem to have fallen into his latest hole," the older woman sighed in a pain-laced voice.

"Let me help you up out of there, Martha," Edward offered, momentarily forgetting he could not touch her. The actor's hand went right through the housekeeper's upper arm and he uttered an oath, slightly stronger than the Captain's usual "blast."

"Nice try, Captain." Martha clenched her teeth against the pain.

"I'm sorry, my good woman," he said, apologetically. "It appears I can't help you at all, blast it!"

"I appreciate the thought," she said, giving him a curious look, then her eyes turned to her employer. "Mrs. Muir, I hate to ask, but I'm afraid I am going to need your help getting up here..."

"Of course, Martha."

"Just a minute," said Edward, snapping his fingers as he thought of something. "Here." A moment later, one of the kitchen chairs came flying through the air, landing gently, less than a foot from where the housekeeper lay sprawled on the ground. "Here, see if you can use the chair to steady yourself. Ho... I mean, I HOPE it will help. Mrs. Muir?"

"Oh! Yes, of course..." Hope murmured.

Slowly but surely, with the actress's help, Martha eased herself into a standing position, then, carefully, the three made their way inside to the couch, where Martha collapsed.

"If you'll just give me a minute, I think I'll be okay..." Martha said valiantly. "My ankle's twisted, a bit, I'd say."

However, almost before the words were said, Hope was protesting and Edward snapped, "Put that out of your mind and be still. Ho… Madam, if you will provide hands, I will tell you how to attend to a sprained ankle."

"Since when do you have a medical degree. Captain?" Martha asked.

The actor faltered for a second, realizing there was no way he could explain that he had studied medicine before deciding his heart lay with acting.

"Ah, well, we seldom had a ship's doctor on board, and a sprained ankle is hardly brain surgery," Edward said. "Madam..."

"Just tell me what to do," Hope nodded. "And, Martha, don't worry about the house or the cooking. I'll manage."

"You'll manage?" Martha lifted an eyebrow. "Mrs. Muir, I know you… uhm… aren't that fond of cooking, and…"

"I can fake it, if I need to, Martha." Hope nodded, thinking of that big lovely old-fashioned kitchen to 'play' in. "I'm more concerned about you at the moment. Ed… that is, the Captain has told me about when he has had to serve as… ship's doctor, as well as captain a ship, and I trust his judgement, but if you would feel any better I suppose we could call Doctor… Doctor… " She grasped for the name. Did the Muirs have a doctor?

"I see you STILL don't consider that peep, Ferguson a real doctor," Martha grinned through her obvious pain.

"Peep?" Edward chuckled.

"Sure, Captain. I got that name from you, you know," Martha answered. "Mrs. Muir told me you said he was too young to be a quack. Anyway, Doctor Feeney is on a fishing trip, and I can't think of Bruce Ferguson as a REAL doctor either. Besides, I won't hear of you calling someone out… Not over this. I can tell this is only a bad sprain, just like when I did it three months ago, slipping on the ice out front. Nothing to worry about. Just give me an hour or so, and I'll be fine."

"You will most certainly NOT be fine if you don't get that ankle wrapped and elevated," Edward said sternly.

"Fine, then wrap it, and I'll go out to the kitchen and get started there… Oww!" Martha cried as she tried to move her foot back to the floor.

"See? You ARE hurting!" Hope scolded.

"Only a little," the housekeeper mumbled, turning a shade whiter. "Besides, the laundry… the cooking… the PTA…"

"I know I can handle a little dicing and slicing," Hope shrugged again. "No problem at all, really, Martha. Now where do you keep the ace bandages?"

"Under the sink in the downstairs bathroom, You know that. But really, I…"

"Downstairs bathroom?" Hope echoed. We missed that… WHAT downstairs bathroom? "Captain, would you…?"

"Instantly, my dear," Edward bowed. He disappeared, and a moment later was back, bandage in one hand, aspirin and a glass of water in the other. "Take this," he said, handing them to the housekeeper. "It will help with the pain, and allow you to take a nice nap."

Obediently, Martha swallowed the medicine, and in a very few minutes later, she found herself in bed with her ankle wrapped, Edward having left only long enough for Martha to change into a dressing gown.

"I still don't like this," Martha frowned and yawned at the same time. "Mrs. Muir, you…"

"You are going to do as we say for the time being," Hope soothed her.

"But…"

"But nothing."

"Well, all right…" the other woman said, her eyelids closing. "I'll nap for an hour or so and then I can take over and get everything done. Surely there'll be time…"

XXX

Hope and Edward were in the kitchen again, two minutes later.

"She went out like a light," Hope remarked. "Are you sure those were just aspirin you gave her?"

"Positive. Extra strength something or other. She just needs the rest," Edward answered, looking around the room once more. "Now what?"

Deftly, Carolyn started pulling assorted food from the grocery bags, still on the counter. "There is a lot of stuff here," she commented. "Martha bought enough for an army. Surely some of these things were meant for the Muir's personal food! Ah!" she cried, seeing a list attached to the refrigerator with a magnet. "I think this is what Martha had planned for the refreshments." She scanned the paper quickly. "Chex-Mix delight, dip, crackers, soup… cake… well, so far this is easy, but not terribly imaginative."

"Well, it is just the PTA. Can I do anything to help you?" Edward offered, clearly not at all comfortable with the domestic surroundings.

"Well, you aren't much of a whiz in the kitchen, are you?" Hope queried, peeking into the double oven. "Hmm… lots of room in here…"

"I can fry up an egg or two on the weekends, if I'm home," Edward shrugged. "I'd rather dine out. Preferably with a lovely woman at my side."

"I know that," Hope rolled her eyes. "Your conquests are somewhat legendary."

"It's who I am," he smiled.

"And you love it," she grinned back at him.

"You haven't answered my question."

"Question? Oh… help me…" The actress looked about the room again, distracted. "I don't think so… not at the moment. I need to get organized before I go any further. Now what did I make for that party last week?" she murmured. "Simple stuff. Lobster canapés, salmon mousse, cream cheese won-tons…" She reached into another bag. "Good… plenty of crackers to go with… maybe I'll make some crab dip. Now, I wonder if I have time to make clam chowder?" She glanced in the refrigerator. "Good… clams in there. Hmm… Red velvet cake would go better with this menu than angel food… celery logs… I think the canapés will take the place of those…"

"Hope?" the Irishman asked again.

"Yes?"

"For the third time, would you mind if I went and looked around a bit, since there is nothing for me to do here? I really do want to go down and see the seashore. Seems like it's been ages since I have been able to get away, and as long as we're here… well…"

She waved a hand toward the back door. "Sure, feel free. There's nothing for you to do at the moment. I'll need more hands later. You can help then."

"Thank you, my dear."

He popped out.

XXX

Two hours later, Mulhare was back, appearing so suddenly and quietly in the kitchen, Hope almost dropped a pan.

"Good grief, you scared me! Can't you ring a bell, or something?"

"I think we had this conversation already," Edward reminded her. "Is Martha still asleep?"

"She's still out like a light. We did, but it bears repeating," she retorted. "Stop spooking me! Did you have fun?"

The Irishman's face took on a blissful expression. "Yes, I did! Oh, Hopie! You need to go down there! It's beautiful. The only thing I couldn't do, even as a ghost, was go for a sail. No boat." He looked around. "Do you need the extra hands yet?"

"Not yet," Hope smiled. "Tell me about the beach."

"What I said… it's beautiful! The best sound stage in the world can't begin to compare! The shoreline goes on forever! There's one more little cottage about three quarters of a mile up the main road in front of the house, but no houses for miles anywhere near the beach… Damn, I wish we could do nothing but location shooting for Ghost, instead of doing everything inside! It would help it no end! Just ONCE in a while, even… Remind people where Gull Cottage is supposed to be… Maine, not California! We need more beach scenes, and seagulls and sunsets. Do you realize we haven't shot a pretty outside scene since the Figg episode? And that was just a back yard, at night. Hardly seagoing! They even had to rewrite that scene with the tree yesterday… bang a branch against the window and crack it because we couldn't find a REAL monkey-puzzle tree, let alone a top-heavy one that looked dangerous! I heard they had a similar problem when they were shooting the film back in 1946. They couldn't find a real tree then, either. They were ready to ship one from South America, and then MGM found one on their back lot! But everything is just so beautiful here! Hope, you have to come take a walk… just a little one. I…"

"Edward, I would LOVE to take a walk, but I HAVE been busy here, too," the actress protested. "PTA refreshments don't just come together all by themselves, you know."

"I do," he nodded. "You've mentioned it." He sniffed. "Smells wonderful." He opened the refrigerator, where several trays were stacked, ready to be put in the oven. "Hmm! "Lobster puffs, crab cakes, salmon mousse… " He sniffed again. "And you're making that cake I like so much! Red velvet, right?" He sniffed again and then watched as Hope took a deep breath through her mouth. "Hey, what is it? Are you all right?"

"I'm pretending I'm inhaling," the actress said tensely, taking a cracker and crumbling it in her fingers.

"What?"

"Inhaling," she blushed. "I want a cigarette something fierce. It would appear Carolyn Muir doesn't smoke. I can't find any cigarettes, anywhere."

"I see…" Edward cocked his head, thoughtfully. "You know, I haven't thought about having a cigarette since we've been here. Obviously the Captain doesn't smoke either… or maybe it's a ghost thing."

"Yes he does," Hope protested. "He smokes cigars. I remember… Carolyn bought him a box in Whiz Bang, and asked if he could still enjoy them and he said yes… he was delighted. You don't remember that?"

"Yes, I do, now that you mention it! It's just that I don't smoke them that often, so it didn't occur to me. Do you think THIS Daniel Gregg keeps cigars about?"

"I haven't the slightest idea. He might though. Most men of that age… I mean back in the 1800's did. But I wish you would stop talking about smoking, or go find the blasted things. I haven't gone this long without a cigarette in ages."

"You'd smoke a cigar?"

"At this point, yes."

"I suppose I could check the attic."

"Wheelhouse, remember? And please do," she said, munching on another cracker. "And if you find one, I get at least a puff!"

Just as Edward was about to pop out, the doorbell rang.

"Now who do you suppose that is?" Hope asked.

"I haven't the slightest idea," Edward shrugged. "Should I look?"

"Yes, but don't answer it. Just come back here and let me know so I can get it, and fake it if I have to. We don't know anyone here... very many people, anyway, and nobody knows about you."

"You… Carolyn does. The kids do, at least we are 99 percent sure they do… Martha does. I'm sure Claymore does, providing there is still a Claymore here, and the Captain hasn't scuttled him."

Hope looked at the clock. "Edward, Martha is still resting. I'm here and Chris and Patty… I mean Jonathan and Candy are at school. I don't care who it is… Ed Peavey, Elvira Grover… no funny business, you hear me? And, we know there is an unscuttled Claymore. Martha mentioned him earlier." She looked around the kitchen. "I need to get back to work…"

The doorbell rang again, this time accompanied by a knock.

"I better go get that… or at least see who it is before they wake up Martha, Hope. Besides, I'm here, and there is nothing I can do to help you at the moment. Right?"

"Okay. But do come back and tell me who it is. Assuming this… REAL Gull Cottage is like our sound stage, and the people look like the actors who have appeared on our show, maybe you will recognize whoever it is, and if you don't, I just won't answer it. We'll just have to hope Martha doesn't hear the doorbell and wake up."

"Aye-aye, Admiral!" Edward said, and vanished without a sound.

Hope sighed. "I wish he would stop doing that!"

Seeing invisibly who it was, Edward opened the door, surprising Claymore Gregg, who was standing on the other side.

"Charles!" he cried, startled. "What are you doing here? Did you get swapped, too?"

"Whadaya mean, swapped?" Claymore answered, still standing on the porch. "I'm here to fix that pipe you made me promise to fix, you big bully. I just want to do it and go home. I have bigger problems..." He broke off and looked at the 'ghost' in front of him. "And since when do you call me by my middle name? What are you up to, and what are you doing, answering the door, like a person? Where's Mrs. Muir? Where's Martha?" Curious now, he boldly stepped into the foyer.

"Of course I'm answering the door like a person, you idiot." Edward answered in character, realizing this man was definitely not the flamboyant Charles Nelson Reilly. "What do you think I am?"

"You… you're not a person... I mean you are, but you're a ghost. Nobody knows you are here, except the Muirs, Martha, and me. You usually just pull a ghostie if you want to open the door, and scare me!" He wiggled his finger at the door to demonstrate. "Not that I am encouraging that now, you understand."

"Oh, I see…" Edward looked thoughtful. "I forgot I could do that. I just wanted to see who was at the door."

"Forgot?" Claymore gave his 'uncle' a funny look. "You're acting strangely today. Now really, where is everybody? You treat me better when Martha and Mrs. Muir are around. I don't want…"

Edward frowned again. "Around. Cooking… female things. I felt restless." He glanced at the toolbox in Claymore's hand. "So, why are you here again? Do you need a hand with whatever it is?"

That did it.

"Mrs. Muir! Mrs. Muir!" Claymore yelled. "Where are you! Is everything all right in here?" His face took on a panicked look.

"You boob!" Edward hissed. "Imbecile! Shh! Martha is sleeping! What the devil do you think you are doing?"

Claymore didn't budge. "Look, you... you... whoever you are! I'm telling you right now, you can't… do whatever it is you are going to do! What have you done with the Captain, and where is Mrs. Muir? If you don't tell me, I'll..."

Claymore being brave, sort of. Now there's a switch, Edward mused. Never thought of Claymore as defending Carolyn. Interesting… Then he gathered his wits and remembered who he was.

"CLAYMORE! You quivering numbskull! I AM Daniel Gregg!"

"No, you're not!" Claymore shot back, though the volume of his voice went down slightly. "You're being too nice!"

Hope came out to the foyer from the kitchen, calmly wiping flour from her hands on a towel.

"Cha… uhm, Claymore! What brings you here?"

Goggling, Claymore looked from Hope to Edward. "Oh! She's here!"

"Of course I'm here," Hope answered easily. "Where else would I be?"

"B-But that's a fake Daniel Gregg…" He pointed to the 'ghost.' "He's being too nice to me. Is it that Irish guy? Did he die and get ghostified? Or did the Dutchman ship come back? Look, I promise I won't try anything. I don't want to go flying through the air again…"

"What Irish guy?" Hope asked, bewildered. "What ship?" She paused, remembering that time where she and Edward were now was more than a year ahead of where home, her husband, children and the Fox studio sound stage was. "Oh! Of course! HIM." She gave Edward a look that clearly said 'Go along with me here.' "No, Claymore. This isn't the… Irish guy."

"Not Sean Callahan?" Claymore quivered again. "Look. I couldn't help fainting when he walked into my office last time, looking just like the Captain, and all. Especially when he shook my hand. Who is this, then?"

"Why..." She paused and took a breath. "Who does it look like?"

"Captain Gregg, but…"

"Then if it looks like him, it must be him, right?"

"Can't be," the landlord shook his head. "He's being too friendly. Now what's up? Where's Martha?"

"Claymore…" Hope tried to placate the man. "Look, Martha took a bad fall this morning and twisted her ankle. She took some aspirin, and she's resting. The Captain is… he's just being nice, that's all. Trying to help me while I cook for Martha and get ready for hosting the PTA this afternoon. And he did promise her he would let you work."

For the first time, Claymore sniffed. "Hey, something smells good… wait a minute! You're COOKING?" He took a step backward again.

"Yes, Claymore," Hope rolled her eyes. This man is positively dense. So unlike Charles! "Yes, I'm cooking. Someone has to do it."

"But you don't…"

"I do today," she interrupted the nervous man. Hmm… I never considered the idea that Carolyn doesn't cook… but, honestly, I'm starting to understand why Captain Gregg gets so infuriated with Claymore!

"But..." he went on, "…You never have before..."

"It's what I hire Martha for," Hope explained patiently. "I don't stay home and sit on my hands all day, I have to work. I have to write to make a living, don't I? That is a JOB you know — just as much as going to an office."

"Oh," Claymore answered sheepishly. "I… I guess you're right. I never thought of it that way. I thought you didn't know how, or didn't like to, but…"

Anticipating further protests, Edward cut him off.

"Why are you here again, you...?" He searched for the right, in character, insulting phrase for the other man.

"You know why, Captain."

"I've been busy… updating… sea charts. Yes, that's it. It's slipped my mind."

"Me, too," Hope added.

"That leaky pipe in the cellar, Mrs. Muir. Captain Humbug here says it couldn't wait any longer and you had to have it fixed. Said it was an emergency. He insisted I had to come out here today."

"Captain Humbug? Why, you…"

"Do you have to turn off the water to the kitchen?" Hope interjected. "If you do, it will have to wait, I am busy out there and I really don't want to go without…"

Claymore looked puzzled again. "No, I can do it from the cellar. You know that. Abner and Ed added that extra valve when they updated all the plumbing three months ago — at MY expense, if you remember!"

Claymore's expense? I wonder what or who prompted that? Hope grinned inwardly and looked at Edward.

"Great." She nodded again. "Well, I'm going back to work. Try not to bang or anything. Martha is still sleeping, and I have a cake in the oven."

"I'll do my best." He peered at them both, suspiciously. "There's something… different about you two. You're both acting strange. Has something else broken? Or has another wayward ghost like Elroy Applegate shown up and smashed something? I don't want anybody taking their heads off around me." He shuddered dramatically.

Edward choked a bit at this comment. WHO was the headless Elroy Applegate? Hope started also, but recovered quickly.

"No Claymore, no ghosts. I promise. Just the Captain."

"He's quite enough." Claymore frowned again. "Are you SURE there isn't something you want me to do that you aren't telling me about? If you are, just tell me. No broken windows? Mad mediums? Lost seals? Look, I really AM sorry about Algae, and I DID learn my lesson…"

Hope and Edward gave each other fast looks. Windows? Seals? Mediums? What good ideas! Then they both turned back to the landlord.

"Not that I know of," Hope answered. "Now really, Cha… Claymore. You'll have to excuse me. I AM a bit busy at the moment. I need to go finish making the clam chowder. Thanks for asking, though." Waving goodbye, she headed for the kitchen.

Edward shrugged. "Nothing that I know of either, dear boy, though I must say, you seem a bit off your pins. Really, I only want to help you. The cellar is dark, I imagine, and you probably don't like it much down there, now do you? I can hold a torch… eh, flashlight, or something. Besides, I want to see what's down there." Whoops. Blast, Edward… the actor muttered to himself. If you are Daniel Gregg, and this is your house, you would know that.

"You know the answer to that, too, Captain," Claymore looked exasperated. "Nothing much, not since I moved all your antiques, except the whatchamacallit, to Cleveland Hampton's old place, up the road, and yeah, before you say anything, I'm still sorry about trying to give them away for a tax deduction. If you want to, I can get them back here, now that he's moved to Florida, and what do you mean, you want to see what's down there?"

"Hmm..." Edward pulled at his earlobe. I wonder who Cleveland Hampton is? "I mean down there NOW, naturally, now that you've… absconded with my possessions. I was thinking maybe about turning the area into another storage place for Martha's… canning…" I just know she cans…"That is, once the pipe is fixed, naturally."

"Oh."

"I'd still be glad to help you, old man."

Claymore's worry lines got deeper. "This is just another dream isn't it?"

"Dream?"

"Yes, Captain. Like this last Christmas when you gave everyone that dream about living a hundred years ago, and you were nice, even to me."

Edward shook his head. A dream for Christmas sounds interesting. "No dream, Claymore. Just trying to do a good turn. You did come out here. Besides, the faster you get it done, the faster you can leave, and it sounds like that's what you want, right?" Not to mention Hopie and me, he added to himself.

"Well, yes," Claymore nodded uncertainly. "Actually, I could use a hand, but don't do anything… funny. No little ghostie tricks, or anything."

"Claymore, you think too harshly of me. Really, you would get along much better in this world if you weren't so suspicious all the time."

"You made me that way, uncle," Claymore grumbled.

"DON'T CALL ME THAT YOU... YOU..." Edward broke off again, trying frantically to think of another belittling phrase for Claymore that seemed to come so easily to the scriptwriters.

"Spineless sea urchin?" Claymore snapped back. "That was your latest when you came into town to yell at me yesterday. Yeah, you're you, all right."

"I was going to say 'blithering ninny,' actually," Edward retorted, finally thinking of something.

"Yeah, right." Claymore sighed. "Look, I forgot the pipe I am replacing. It's in my car, so…"

"Marvelous. I'll meet you in the cellar."

"You mean I have to go down there by MYSELF?"

"Of course, you nincompoop. There's nothing to be afraid of. No bodies, or anything." Edward turned to go, then remembered he was supposed to dematerialize. It was more natural for the ghost he was supposed to be.

"What about spiders and so on?" Claymore whined. "Or are you planning some other little surprise for me? That's it. You're going to jump out and scream at me. I know it."

"Now why would I do that?" Edward answered, exasperated. "I want you to fix the pipe, that's all. My dear fellow, one of these days you are going to have to tell me where you get these paranoid delusions…"

"My paranoia? You should know, Captain!"

"I DO know, and as the source of your misguided fears, if I say 'nothing will happen,' then nothing will happen… unless you continue to dither in lieu of working! Now MOVE!"

"All right! NOW you sound more like you!" Claymore said, now almost totally satisfied. "I still think you… you're different… it's spooky! You sure you want to help me?"

"You'll find out exactly how very much myself I AM if you don't get your carcass out to that junk-heap you drive, and get that pipe!"

So saying, Edward vanished, but when Claymore hesitated, his voice roared again, "NOW you dolt!"

With a jump, Claymore headed to his car.

XXX

Claymore did the work while Edward held a steady light, and the repair job didn't take nearly as long as either ghost (or was he human?) or landlord thought it would. A scant hour later, they were both back upstairs. Claymore had washed up and was preparing to leave when the actor blocked the exit leading outside.

"Thank you for fixing the pipe, Claymore. I know Mrs. Muir will appreciate it. You really don't have to go yet, so if you can think of anything else to do, you might as well do it now, as later when Hop... that is, I don't think it's an issue, really, as long as you are done before the PTA ladies start arriving."

Claymore shrugged. "No, Captain, I think that pipe was the only thing on my list. But thanks for being nice to me today. I have a lot of other things on my mind. Might as well go back to my place and worry about them for a while." He looked around. "Darn. Forgot my coat. It's in the living room… I'll just go get it."

Turning, he made his way back into the other room, Edward following him.

"You mentioned something earlier about that," the actor said, adjusting his jacket sleeves, absently. "Anything you care to talk about? Romantic troubles, perhaps?"

Claymore made a face.

"Yeah, you would be good at that, but no. That's not it. Not even close."

"What then? I might be able to help."

"Nah… you'll just laugh at me. You don't care about my problems. Nobody does."

Edward shook his head, slowly. "Claymore, you think ill of me. And with no cause… I mean really. Now, what is it?"

"You promise you won't yell, or get upset with me? Or blast at me?"

Edward rolled his eyes. Charles Nelson Reilly's portrayal of Claymore Gregg would have to be jumped up a few notches, if he dared compete with the real thing!

"YES, you idiot," he snapped, trying to stay in Captain-character. "Now sit down in that rocker, make yourself comfortable and stop whimpering."

"There you go again..." Claymore sighed. "I knew you really didn't care about my life."

"Claymore..." Edward wheedled. "Tell me what is going on in that brain of yours."

"Okay, but you did promise, Captain," Claymore said, seating himself. "The thing is, the Elks are doing another benefit for the Seaman's home, you know, your old warehouse. The one you made me turn into a retirement home for them."

Edward nodded vaguely, not having a clue as to what the timid man was talking about. I thought we turned Claymore's warehouse into a theater, or will, in the show we are shooting in a couple of weeks, he thought to himself.

"You really should have set fire to that place, not get it refurbished for all those old men," Claymore grumbled. "It's always needing something, and I get stuck with the bills. At least some people are willing to help me."

"Seaman's home?" Edward repeated his words.

"Now don't stand there and tell me you don't know what I am talking about. Your warehouse down by the docks. The one I inherited from my father, who inherited from his father, who inherited from you, and don't start yelling at me. It's not my fault that it's mine. I wish I had never laid eyes on the place. It was turned into a Seaman's Home a couple of months ago. You know that. Anyway, some of the pipes are damaged, and need to be fixed. So the Elks are doing another little benefit tonight. They agreed I shouldn't have to foot all the bills for something that lots of people benefit from."

Nice idea for a show, Edward Mulhare thought to himself. Aloud, he asked, "So, why can't you perform, Claymore?"

"Well, I was going to do the same thing I did for the first one…"

"Marvelous. So do it. What was it, anyway?"

"You know what! Miming to the operetta thing. The one I did with Mrs. Muir last time, and..."

"Did I hear my name?" Hope Lange asked, coming back in from the kitchen. "Hi, Claymore. Pipe all fixed?"

"Yes, and yes," the landlord answered. "Mrs. Muir, I don't suppose you would be up to performing with me at the Elk's club tonight?"

Not wanting to obligate the real Mrs. Muir, in case, somehow, the lady returned home, and not sure what she might be getting herself into, Hope demurred. "Ah… well… with the PTA in a couple of hours, and Martha, etcetera, I just can't. I'm sorry, Claymore…"

"I figured you'd have a good reason not to, which is why I hadn't bothered asking you before," Claymore answered. "I knew you probably had it up to here with stuff like that after handling all the auditions and booking the entertainment the first time around."

"It's not that I don't want to, but I didn't plan on Martha having this ankle problem!" Hope softly insisted, seating herself on the couch and wondering what on earth the man was talking about, but Claymore went talking on over her.

"That's why I asked Millie Applegate to do it. But she called me right before I came over here. Her sister Mildred, she lives in Keystone, is sick, and she has to go up there tonight. Now here I am, head of the committee, and I have no act. Which is really terrible, and not very good form, considering the Seaman's Home is still my property and all."

"I don't understand," Edward said, scratching his head. "You can always sing. Why not do that? No piano at the Seaman's home? You feel all right, don't you? No sore throat, no laryngitis..."

Claymore stared at his 'uncle.'

"Captain, I don't understand you. Me? Sing? I haven't sung in public in ages, since my mother enrolled me in the choir... Ed, Deke and Norrie are probably the only people in town who would even remember that I used to be able to sing. There WILL be people singing… or dancing to music. Mrs. Jenkins is playing the piano for anyone who needs it, and she can sight-read almost anything, and she knows lots of songs by heart…"

"Then by all means, sing something," Edward encouraged the other man.

"Sing what? I could never sing in front of people… not after so long."

"You could when you were a lad and in the choir, right?"

"I don't know. I mean I GUESS I could, but what would I sing? What could I learn that quickly?"

"What about your … I mean a number from Hello, Dolly? Or How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying?"

Claymore's downcast face perked up. "Hey, I like the sound of that one. How DO you do it?"

"It's the tile of the show, you pagan. Don't you know anything?"

"Oh."

"I think Dolly would be better," Edward continued, pinching the bridge of his nose in concentration. "There's some GREAT numbers in that show. What about the one you sang… I mean that one that was so pretty… what was the title of it again?"

"Which one, Captain?" Claymore looked truly exasperated. "There's more than one song in that show. I know I saw the movie… Barbra Streisand, Walter Matthau, Michael Crawford, and all… but I'm not sure if I know the one you are trying to think of. I didn't even know you KNEW that show…"

"He knows a great deal about theater," Hope said, a touch of irony in her voice.

"The Broadway version of Dolly is better," Edward continued. "But then, Broadway versions usually are. You know, the song at the end, when they are all in the courtroom. It Only Takes A Moment."

Claymore shrugged. "I'm not sure I remember that one."

"I could teach it to you in no time... " Edward said, eagerly.

Claymore scratched his head. "Let me get this straight. You want to teach me a song?"

"Of course! Why not?"

"Captain," the younger Gregg began slowly. "I have known you, so to speak, since I was twelve. Never in my life have you mentioned you could sing, let alone that you know anything about musical theater. I don't believe this. You're making fun of me again. I want proof you know what you are talking about," he insisted, stubbornly determined to call the Captain's bluff.

"I don't believe it either, and I want proof, too," said another voice from the doorway.

"Martha!" Hope exclaimed. "You're awake!"

"Why, hello!" Edward added. "How's your ankle?"

"Never mind my ankle for a minute. Yes, I am awake. Now what's all this about you knowing about musicals? I've never heard you say or sing a word. Not since I met you two months ago, at least."

Ah… she hasn't known the Captain THAT long then, Edward thought, then he cocked an eyebrow at the housekeeper. "You can't learn everything about a person in such a short time Martha. Should you be standing, by the way?"

"No, I shouldn't," Martha hobbled into the room, leaning against furniture as she went. Hope rose to see her path was clear. "But I can't believe you are honestly going to sing something from a show I know! Maybe something from a hundred years ago, but…"

"Martha!" the actor exclaimed. "You know how dear the… uh… Seaman's home is to me. If this… If Cha… Claymore's singing will help, then I want to do my part, and coach him for it."

"I still don't think you really know any songs," Claymore said stubbornly, crossing his arms and leaning back in the rocker.

"Uhm, Martha..." Hope cut in. "Are you sure you should be out of bed? Your ankle..."

"My ankle is better, as long as I don't put a lot of weight on it, which is why I am sitting now," the housekeeper interrupted her, sinking down onto the couch. "Besides, if what he says is true, I wouldn't miss hearing the Captain sing for all the tea in China. I didn't know he could sing, and you never said anything to me, Mrs. Muir! Why not?"

"Uhm, well…" Hope fumbled. "Because the subject never came up before?"

"Right," Martha nodded grimly.

"Well, if I am getting an audience, I suggest we make ourselves at home," the Irishman smiled. "Martha, are you comfortable?"

"Yes," she said. "Are you joining me, Mrs. Muir?"

"Hmm? Oh! Gladly," Hope murmured, seating herself next to Martha.

"Claymore," Edward went on. "Help me move the piano from... from... where is it?" He stopped and then looked around the room. "It was in the living room In Haunted… I mean when I played it invisibly for Yov... I mean, Harvey and Gladys' wedding."

"That was ages ago, Captain," Martha interjected, settling herself deeper into the couch, and propping her foot up on a nearby ottoman. "We put it in the alcove."

"We'll move it back," Edward stated. "Besides, I can't do sea charts if a piano is cluttering up the alcove."

He's getting into character, Hope said to herself. Don't bury yourself in the part, Ed.

"I thought you said the attic was quieter to do your charts," Martha shrugged. "But I'll do it as soon as my ankle is better."

"We'll just clear a space, and leave it in here when I get done teaching Claymore," Edward went on, pointing toward the alcove. The curtain there moved aside of its own accord, and all watched as the piano slowly rolled to a clear space in the living room. An old-fashioned secretary sitting against one wall then moved by itself to the alcove and the piano snuggled in comfortably.

"Show-off," Claymore whispered.

"Just using my talents," Edward smirked.

"New found talents," Hope said quietly, shaking her head.

"What was that, Mrs. Muir?" Martha asked, looking at the other woman intently.

"Nothing."

"Now... what else do we need?" Edward asked enthusiastically. "Ah, yes. Bench and music..." The items appeared in front of him, and he was soon seated at the piano.

"You're really serious, aren't you, Captain?" Claymore looked at the other man, aghast.

"Of course I am, dear boy," Edward laughed, running his fingers up and down the keyboard, dancing from one tune to another.

"I don't believe it," Claymore said, "Prove it to me."

"Prove what?"

"That you know how to sing. I knew you could play a little piano, because of the Dillmans, but Captain, like I said, I have known you for twenty years, and…"

"It goes to show you don't know everything," Edward said, winking at Hope and Martha, much to the housekeeper's surprise.

"What are you going to sing, Captain?" Martha asked, clearly enjoying herself already.

"Hmm… Well, let me think! I'm fond of so many! I LOVE Man of La Mancha, but I hardly have Kiley's range … Brigadoon is wonderful, and I do adore Lerner and Lowe. And I like that one that came out with Edward Woodward a few years ago — the musical adaptation of Blithe Spirit. High Spirits, I think it is. Tammy Grimes was marvelous in that, too. The best songs are hers, or duets, though. Oh, I know! How can I forget? I'll do something from Camelot!" His fingers switched to the opening strains of one of Richard Burton's numbers, then he opened his mouth and to the wonder of Martha and Claymore, started to sing.

"How to handle a woman? There's a way, said the wise old man.

A way known by ev'ry woman since the whole rigmarole began.

Do I flatter her? I begged him answer. Do I threaten or cajole or plead?

Do I brood or play the gay romancer? Said he, smiling: No indeed.

How to handle a woman? Mark me well, I will tell you, sir:

The way to handle a woman Is to love her ... simply love her ...

Merely love her ... love her ... love her."

Martha sighed deeply as the song ended. "Captain, that was lovely. I can't remember ever enjoying that song more. You could be on Broadway yourself."

"I agree," Hope echoed. "Beautifully done, sir."

Martha frowned slightly and glanced at her employer, who was not reacting as she had expected her to react, somehow.

Claymore's scowl, however, was deeper.

"Look, Captain, I have a better idea. I won't sing tonight. YOU can sing instead. I'll tell everyone you are my cousin, or something, just come here from… Ireland, that's it, and…"

"Nonsense, boy. Much as I would love to perform on stage aga… I mean, at all, It won't do, you know!"

"Why not?" Claymore's voice was petulant.

"Because you are committed to sing, dear boy. Not I. How would it look?"

"Better than me singing," Claymore sighed.

"Ridiculous. You'll be fine."

"I don't think so."

"Now then…" Edward's blue eyes glanced down to the keyboard. "Well, I don't seem to have any sheet music to your song, but I think I know it well enough to fake it. And I am sure if I can, Mrs. Jenkins can, too, and I can adjust the key, if you need to. What IS your key, dear boy?"

What is with the 'dear boy's'?

"Captain, what...?"

"Don't you know your key? How's this?" He started to play.

"OH! That song!" Claymore cried. "I DO remember that!" His shoulders slumped. "It's a great song, but I think it's too high for me, Captain. We better forget this..."

"Nonsense. I'll just transpose. How's this? D-Flat any better?"

In an instant, Mulhare was playing in a lower key. Perfectly.

"Great key," Martha muttered. "Difficult, too. Almost all on the black notes."

"That sounds better," said Claymore, listening. "But really, Captain, I can't sing..."

"Pish-posh. I know you can. You can talk, can't you? And as Robert Preston says in The Music Man, singing is only sustained talking. You CAN talk, can't you?"

"Y-ye-yes…"

"Then, start. Come on. After me: It only, takes a moment…"

"It only…" Claymore started timidly.

"No-no-no!" Edward stopped playing. "No, man! You have to feel it! That sound coming out of you doesn't sound like you are in love with anyone, or even in LIKE... You can do much better, I know it!"

"We better stop," Claymore sighed. "I told you I couldn't do this!"

"Yes you can, my good man, and I am not going to LET you stop. Now RELAX. Think about what you are saying... you remember the words now?"

"Not all of them, just the tune."

"Good, if you can remember the melody, that proves you have SOME talent. Now listen to me, and try to follow my lead." The Irish actor began to play again, then started singing the song that had become Charles Nelson Reilly's showpiece when he performed the role of Cornelius Hackl on Broadway in 1964.

"It only takes a moment for your eyes to meet, and then —

Your heart knows in a moment, that you'll never be alone again — "

He broke off. "Now. See what I mean?" He looked straight at the lanky man. "You simply have to think about what you are saying! You've found your love, your life and you want only her. Now sing, blast it, even if you are only living a fantasy."

Claymore looked thoroughly disheartened. "Maybe you could … you know… er… I hate to suggest this, but maybe jump into me again, like you did before the Centennial Ball last year, or like you did in the courtroom, or with Cousin Harriet? You can sing the song that way. You taking me over feels weird, but a song is only a few minutes long, and..."

"Jump into you?" Edward stared at the other man. "You mean like possession? Now there's an interesting idea! I wonder why the writers..." he broke off, glancing at Hope, who also looked fascinated.

Martha, however, just seemed confused.

"Nonsense, my dear fellow. You can get this," he continued. "The song's not that long, and besides, Greggs don't give up, now do they?"

Stunned, Claymore stared at him. "Are you admitting I'm your nephew? Wow. That's incredible…"

"I did NOT say you were my nephew!" Edward roared, remembering his character. "I am the only son of an only son and I never saw your blasted grandmother in my life," he chanted, recalling the lines still ingrained in his head from the pilot episode filmed almost ten months before. "But you carry the Gregg name, so I STILL can't let you fail. Now, SING, Blast you! Honestly man! You try the patience of a saint!"

"It only..." Claymore quavered.

"Better," Mulhare said loudly, "But stronger, more forceful! Again!"

"It only, takes a moment."

"AGAIN!"

"It only takes a moment..."

"AGAIN!"

"IT ONLY TAKES A MOMENT!"

"Why do I feel like I am in the middle of My Fair Lady?" Martha mused.

"He's done that show, too," Hope muttered, without thinking.

"Hmm?" Martha looked at her, startled.

"Oh, nothing. Listen. You stay put, and watch the show. I need to check on my chowder again, and I still have lobster canapés to stuff." So saying, Hope stood and started for the kitchen.

LOBSTER CANAPES? Martha shook her head as the other woman left the room. Something was definitely not right in Schooner Bay.

"Again, Claymore," the 'Ghost' was saying. "For your eyes to meet, and then..."

XXX

When Claymore finally got it down, Edward had to restrain himself to keep from exclaiming. "By George, he's got it!" I might need to do another run of Lady soon, he reflected. I certainly could do an even better Higgins now, and blast, Hope's cooking smells good! I wonder if ghosts can eat? After all, as Hopie pointed out, the Captain has sipped champagne and smoked cigars. I'm not REALLY hungry, but it would be a shame not to get just a bite of that lobster!

"Well, I think I'll be going now, Captain Gregg," Claymore was saying. "I need to practice a bit more, and make sure Mrs. Jenkins has the music. Thank you so much, I… I guess I had you wrong…" He was heading toward the door, a bemused and befuddled expression on his face. "Besides. Mrs. Muir has the PTA coming shortly..."

"BLAST, I forgot about that. What are we to do with all these women?"

"Dunno," said the landlord, now wearing a happy smile. "You could always sing to them."

The 'ghost' laughed. "Right, Claymore. I hope all goes well for you tonight," he said, leaving Martha still on the couch and walking his 'nephew' to the front door. Making a motion and closing it, he popped into the kitchen, right in front of Hope, who promptly dropped a pan with a loud clatter.

"Damn and blast, Edward! Stop that!"

"Stop what?"

"Popping!"

"I'm in character, Hopie, and ghosts… pop. Martha would have asked why I was walking if I had just walked into the kitchen, "like a person," to use Claymore's words. Good grief, Charles really does have his work cut out for him, playing that imbecile."

"Got that right," the blonde answered. "But, as we are talking of characters, may I say, I find it rather startling… this popping stuff, when it's real. The audience gets sound effects, and I get to freeze you in and out of a scene! So, listen, what do we do now? The PTA is still showing up here in about half an hour, and unless Mabel Albertson… I mean Elvira Grover shows up, I won't know a soul! What am I going to do? What can I possibly say to Martha that will explain the fact that I don't know any of these women from Schooner Bay? That I don't even know which way Schooner Bay is from here? That I can't even drive to town and pick up Chris and Patty… I mean Candy and Jonathan, from school, and I can't ask? What can I possibly tell her?"

"That's what I'd like to know," a voice came from the kitchen doorway.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Fox Studios, California xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

"There, you see, Madam?" the Captain said to Carolyn in a low, reassuring tone. "The children here are actors as well, and quite safe and happy in their private classroom. That means Jonathan and Candy are still back home, in Schooner Bay, presumably in class themselves, being taught further inaccuracies."

Carolyn nodded, stealing one more glance backward to the silver trailer. "Miss Stoddard does her best, Daniel. It's just… it felt so strange just now seeing two kids who look like mine USED to, but who didn't see me as 'Mom,' but as some woman I don't even know."

"It was disconcerting to me as well, my dear." He squeezed her hand kindly.

"Maybe we should look over the script?" Carolyn suggested quietly. "If we're stuck here, we need to know what we're supposed to say."

"We did live it," the Captain pointed out. "But, of course, the writers couldn't have gotten it exactly right. Blast it, I don't care much for the idea of people making a television show of our lives. I'm surprised you are not more upset, dear lady. After all, the few times our privacy was threatened, you were ready to jump ship."

"Only as a last resort," she corrected. "But, if this is another... place, then there's no way tourists could find the real us, and if it's in the past, then it's already happened in our time, and we haven't suffered for it."

After a moment's consideration, he nodded. "You are right, but still, blast it, this time travel nonsense is confusing."

"I agree with you one-hundred percent," Carolyn answered, sinking into a chair, positioned against a wall, the Captain joining her in another seat next to her. "And even seeing those two children, who are supposed to be mine, I'm still worried…" She broke off, looking at the script again, then shook her head in disbelief. "Daniel! Look!" She pointed to the first page of the script. "I see now why Candy and Jona… I mean these actors are younger! Look at the date on this script! September 19, 1968! Why, this is dated two days before we got to Schooner Bay!"

With a bemused frown, Daniel looked where she pointed. "How can we be discussing what happens, after you arrived before you arrived?"

"I don't know," she said, shaking her head. "What I DO remember is we started fighting about redecorating the house the day after Thanksgiving... and my birthday. I chopped your tree down the Monday after that long weekend — after scuttling your sofa in favor of the one I found. Mom and Dad sent me the money I used to buy the new one for my present. That's how I know it was November when it happened. I have no idea why this script says September. I don't even know if that is today's date... here, I mean. Daniel, I'm scared. What if the kids are wondering where we are? What if they are as terrified as I am right now and I'm not there to help them?"

"Carolyn," Daniel said firmly. "Think. For a woman, you are extremely logical. Just now you pointed out why I should not be upset over this... television series." His tone was laced with great disdain for the notion. "Everyone who has addressed us by name has called us Hope and Edward, but I see no one around here that could be them, except us by mistake. Hope and Edward must have — exchanged places with us and are coping with living our lives, so to speak. Besides, I saw the children leave for school myself; they therefore will not even know anything has happened for several more hours, and our counterparts will likely be pretending to be us just as we are pretending to be them. And they are paid to be convincing. However, if they find themselves two years in the future, they have less idea of what is going on than we do, and are more likely to be terrified than the children who do have some familiarity with exposure to the..." he pulled his ear reflexively. "...Unusual."

"Well, you have a point there," she grinned. "If anyone had told me three years ago I would be living with a ghost, and exposed to things like hapless ghost seamen, absent-minded mediums, crazed property developers and lost seals, I would have said they were nuts. Not to mention the whole idea of me writing one very handsome seaman's memoirs."

"Thank you, my dear. For both the compliment, and for what you are doing. I know the book has put extra demands on your time, but I do think it is a story worth telling. Not to mention what a good extra source of income it will be for you when it sells."

"You're quite confident of it, aren't you?"

"Yes. The public loves sensationalism, and my life was sensational."

"Modest, aren't we?" She looked up at him. "Strange how much can happen in a couple of years time, you know?" Reaching out, she touched the side of his face, gently, still unbelievingly. "Here we are, supposedly two people named Hope and Edward, yet we look so much like ourselves, two years ago, only here… now… I can touch you."

"The time has not diminished your beauty, Carolyn," he said softly, looking into her green eyes. "In this universe, or any other."

"Nor your magnificent self, Daniel. But yet…" She looked at him more closely. "You know, you DO look a little different than you usually do. There's MUCH more gray in your beard and hair here than there is back home."

"Obviously, you got the superior version of Daniel Gregg, Madam."

"Obviously," she fondly agreed. "But, the look is still quite good. If you had lived to go gray, it wouldn't have been a bad thing."

"Perhaps not," he grinned. "When I was a lad, old timers around Schooner Bay used to say, that I was the image of my father, and more than one person mentioned his mane of silver hair. After a hundred years, I have only a vague memory of it. More feelings linger of how very much I still miss both my parents."

"I'm sorry, Daniel," she whispered, laying her hand over his for a sweet moment. "You must miss them terribly! You've existed for a hundred years without them! I still have Mom and Dad, and for that I feel very lucky. I know not everyone can be in my position, and I'm sorry if I made you unhappy, talking of it."

"I'm not, my dear. Frustrated at our latest predicament, but not unhappy about anything else, and I DO mean that."

"Well, part of out latest predicament is quite fascinating," she smiled. "By the way, I'm sorry for teasing you about your hair. I'm the last one to be doing that! I don't know HOW many hairstyles I tried before I found one I really liked. You, as a ghost, certainly have the right to change your appearance! Actually, you could change outfits more often. I wouldn't mind that a bit. Your Christmas sweater was quite handsome, and your uniform... I could see you in that any time."

"I'll try to remember that... for special occasions, at least," he winked. "But as for appearances, I rather miss the experimenting you used to do with your hair. It was interesting watching to see what style would appear next."

"Thanks, but there were a couple... I don't know what I was thinking of. But it's sweet of you to say, considering you come from a time where all women, unless they were sick, were supposed to have long flowing locks. I haven't worn hair down my back since I was sixteen."

One brow lifted. "Now, I would have liked to see that look on you. I don't suppose..."

"No," Carolyn stated decisively. "Absolutely not. Too much trouble."

Shrugging, he went on, "Pity, but, dear lady, remember, that for the most part, ladies' kept their hair firmly in place in tight buns. Seldom did we see more hair than what you are left with after a trim."

"I never thought about it that way," she said, then her face darkened. "Vanessa's wasn't. Not in that picture you kept in your sea chest, the one you let her find when she was here. It was down, and curled about her face and well, it WAS beautiful." She let out a soft sigh. "I always wanted dark hair, like my mother's."

"Vanessa's hair was fixed so for the portrait," Daniel gently informed her. "And, your light hair is quite fetching. I find I prefer it; dark hair would not suit you so well. Besides, at your worst, you are by far more pleasing to my eye than any other woman at her best."

"Thank you, Daniel," she said softly. "That DOES make me feel better, even if my short hairdo can't be compared to a storm at midnight. I guess... I suppose I would have done the same thing for a portrait. Hairdresser, special make-up… it's what we… us females do. Me, Vanessa, Abigail, Prudence, Kathleen, Melanie…" She blushed. "Thank you, Captain," she repeated, suddenly feeling shy.

"Carolyn, I thought we were agreed... its Daniel. Remember? Daniel."

Her cheeks turned a very pale pink. "When we are home and can be ourselves again. Right now, I'd better stick to Edward, don't you think?"

Resignedly, he nodded. "Indeed, HOPE. Has it been fifteen minutes yet, do you suppose? I haven't kept track of the time, and my senses seem to be somewhat adversely affected by this... experience."

"Mine, too, and I'm not a ghost," Carolyn nodded, and reflexively looked at the watch on her right wrist. "I'm not sure. I didn't pay attention to when we left. I suppose we better get back, just in case." Pausing, she put the script she had been holding in her lap, and twisted her hands together. Suddenly she gasped. "Daniel!"

He was instantly alert. "Yes, Carolyn? Are you all right?"

Her eyes wide, she held her left hand out to him. "Daniel, look at my wedding ring!"

"Must I?" His voice was low.

"Yes... Daniel, This is NOT my wedding ring!"

He peered at the gold band. "Nor is it any ring you have ever worn, not even two years in the past. It looks as if Hope's… husband… has better taste in jewelry than what's-his-name."

"His name was Robert, Daniel and his taste, good, bad or indifferent is not the point at the moment. I'll tell you about that sometime. The point is I never thought about this… person I am being MARRIED! Daniel, what if we are stuck here for any length of time? Even twenty-four hours? I can't go home to somewhere I don't know... to a man... husband I'm not really married to, for heaven's sake! What if this Hope person has children, too?" She grabbed his left hand quickly and examined it. "No ring. I guess the actor who plays you isn't married. Well, you lucked out."

The thought of Carolyn having to pretend to be another man's wife darkened Daniel's face. If he could have conjured thunder, that Lee fellow would not have been able to shoot at all for the rest of the day, except that then Carolyn would be expected 'home' even sooner than whenever the actors were supposed to finish filming. Controlling his temper with effort, the Captain pointed out, "Men do not always wear wedding bands, or perhaps this Edward chap removes it for filming, but Hope, who plays a widow, does not." He thought for a second. "Perhaps this ring is a part of her costume?"

"I doubt it," Carolyn shook her head. "Blast. Well, we'll jump off that bridge if we get to it. Maybe whatever has brought us here will take us home before we have to worry about it."

"So… what comes next?" the seaman asked. "Are we expected to actually ACT today?"

Carolyn rolled her eyes. "Yes, and I have a feeling we will be expected to do a better job than I had to worry about when I did Claymore's play, but Daniel, I have no idea… there's a whole script here, and the pages are all different colors… yours, too… I don't even know what we are expected to know!"

Daniel nodded. "True. And this being Friday and based on what Martha and Claymore… I mean Reta and Charles…" He stopped again.

"What?"

The former ghost chuckled. "Charles. That's an interesting coincidence."

"What is?"

"Charles is Claymore's middle name. Claymore Charles Gregg."

"Oh. I didn't know that. What else were you going to say?"

"Simply that I got the impression when we were on the set that the other two actors, Martha and Claymore, I mean Reta and Charles, seem to be in rather a hurry to call it a week."

"Which indicates what, exactly?"

"Well, I think today is the last day of shooting, and we can't leave here until it is done, unless whatever brought us here puts us back where we belong again."

"But we still don't know what that is!"

"I know," he nodded. "At least half the pages in this script have check marks in the corner. Perhaps that means those pages have been filmed?"

"Sounds logical to me," Carolyn nodded. "Daniel, how are we going to know what pages of dialogue we will be asked to know, and act in?"

"I don't know," he said, shaking his head again. "But what I do know is we are expected back, or at least need to report back, at any time, now. Maybe we can find a list, or ask someone what scene comes next? You've acted before, and it's not as if this story, if you will, is completely unfamiliar to us. I think we will be able to read through the pages, and it will come back to us."

"I'm not sure I want it to," she said, a crooked smile coming to her face.

"Me either, but I'd say it's coming anyway."

"Hope? Edward?" The young man they had seen earlier, Henry, came running up to them. "Here you are. Lee's been looking for you for the last ten minutes. He said things are up and running — and we'll start shooting in five. He wants everyone back on the set immediately."

"What... scene... are we doing?" Daniel asked, standing and holding out a hand to Carolyn, helping her to her feet also.

"Where we left off. Second-story veranda, first apology scene," Henry answered. "Scene five. See you there." In a moment, he had turned away.

"I didn't apo…" Daniel started to say, but Carolyn squeezed his hand again quickly, then, letting it go, flipped to the page in the script.

"Here goes nothing, Daniel," she murmured.

"You can say that again," he whispered back.

XXX

When Carolyn and Daniel reached the set, Henry informed them, "Lee's changed his mind. We're doing safeties of the Candy/Martha scene..."

"Better safe than sorry," Carolyn quipped, trying to sound light.

"Uh, yeah. Then, if that goes well, we'll get in your scene with Harlen, Hope, before lunch. So, you need to go change."

Carolyn nodded, wondering where her dressing room was, and what she was supposed to change into. "Which outfit do I wear for that, again? There've been — so many scenes..."

Henry told her, looking a little confused, then Carolyn turned to go search for her dressing room. Thankfully, she was sure she could change pretty fast.

"Hope, your trailer is that way," Henry corrected, pointing in the other direction.

"Oh, sorry. I had my mind on the... script," she smiled.

A few minutes later, she returned. Moving to stand beside Daniel, Carolyn whispered, "I have a better clothing budget here. Everything's Evan Picone, and I've been wanting to try this perfume, but the Schooner Bay General Store does NOT carry anything like this."

Daniel glanced at her. "It does smell good, and you look nice, but no more so than usual. I'd say you have the better deal, the same look for half the price. One need not be Claymore to appreciate thrift."

"Thanks, I think."

"Kellie and Reta are going through their scene," the ghost noted.

Carolyn nodded, dividing her attention between the script and watching the two actresses.

"What's the matter, Candy?" Reta Shaw, as Martha, started speaking as she came out of the 'kitchen.'

"Jonathan won't play," the younger actress sighed.

"Well, try Scruffy," Martha said, picking up a pair of prop children's shoes.

"He won't play either," Candy continued, mournfully. "I hate this dumb old house."

Dumb? Daniel had to choke the words he wanted to say inside himself. From the first day, Candy has always loved Gull Cottage…

"How about a nice, big, red, apple?"

"No thank you," the little girl replied, dolefully.

My word, she DOES sound like our Candy…

"No apple? I better take your temperature," Martha said, all business.

"I'm not sick!" the other actress protested.

"Well, you're… something," Martha maintained.

"Okay," the little girl sighed, "TAKE my temperature…"

The two actresses stood still for a moment, then a bell went off.

"Okay, that's great!" Lee Phillips shouted. "Once more, you two, then, Hope, Harlen, your turn."

The ghost and Mrs. Muir watched the actresses repeat the scene, then they headed to the living room set, close by. On their way, Daniel asked, very softly, "Madam, did Candy really feel that way, even then, not knowing about me yet? I had no idea that I had any effect on her, or Martha, prior to our official meetings."

Carolyn paused from reading her script as she walked to shake her head, "I don't know, Daniel. I wasn't in the foyer with them, any more than I am in the scene with them here. But, there were times it seemed like they sensed your presence. And they did handle the revelation pretty well when their turns came to know."

"They did, indeed," he smiled reminiscently. "I'll never forget Candy's face as she peered from underneath the afghan, or Martha's fainting! But you're right. They did handle it well, overall."

In no time at all they reached the other set and it was time for Carolyn's scene. "Wish me luck," she asked, stepping away from Daniel.

"Good luck," he murmured, for her ears only.

Leaning back in a chair, the ghost observed Carolyn replay her speech to the inferior version of his portrait. He hoped that the actor playing him looked better than that. He didn't look that old. His inner grumbling silenced as he listened, and the embodied spirit had to restrain himself from stepping onto the stage to comfort his lady. She had to try more than once to get the words out according to script, and he could hear the frustration and tears in her voice. Finally on the third take, the words she said seemed to come to life:

"I had to do it! It was ready to fall! It might have killed someone! I'm sorry, Captain. I know you loved it…"

From a door, 'Jonathan' entered.

"He can't hear you…" he said, his voice heartbroken. "He's gone… He's GONE…"

Carolyn bit her lip and the seaman watched as his lady fought for self-control.

"Did you look in the attic?"

The boy nodded.

"Did you try the widow's-walk?"

The boy nodded again, not saying anything, and ran from the room, then, with a shuddery sigh, she looked back up at the painting of 'Daniel Gregg.'

"You wouldn't leave this house…" Her voice trailed off. She stood there, unmoving for a moment. Other observers to the scene couldn't tell, but Daniel could. She was shaking.

Blast it. He had never intended to cause her, or any of the family, grief.

The bell went off again, and there was a shout.

"Cut! That was great, Hope! All right, lunch break, small cafeteria, down the hall, not the main one. Good morning's work everyone, but we still have a ways to go!"

Harlen's morose mood vanished with the scene's end, but it took Carolyn a second to pull herself together and start toward the Captain, who had just taken a step in her direction when Lee intercepted him.

"Say, Edward, can I bum a cigarette from ya? I thought I had one left in my pack, but, no such luck."

The Captain stopped, annoyed at having to alter his course. Concealing this, he tried to think. Did he have any cigarettes? He patted his pockets, finally finding a square-shaped something in his jacket. Hoping it was cigarettes, he pulled the pack out, extending them. "Here, take them all." His voice was testier than he intended, and Lee picked up on this as he took the Kent Golds.

"You trying to quit, or something?"

Since he had no desire to smoke the things, Daniel nodded shortly. Besides, he could be assenting to the "or something" and he was definitely that.

Sympathetically, Lee nodded. "Hope, too, huh?" Daniel nodded again. "No wonder you two are acting antsy and out of it. You have my condolences, and I'll try to be understanding. I've tried quitting before. Never lasted more than a day or two."

"I can't say how long I am going to last... Lee," Daniel smiled, trying to stay pleasant. "But I can almost guarantee, you won't see me with a cigarette for at least the remainder of the day."

XXX

"Catered lunch" took on a whole new meaning in their eyes as Carolyn and Daniel gazed at the food spread out on the table in front of them.

"Have you ever SEEN such a feast, Daniel?" Carolyn said quietly. "Look at this... cold cuts, cheeses, shrimp, three kinds of bread, croissants, three desserts... this is amazing. Martha would flip if she saw this. I..." Her face went pale.

"Carolyn!" Daniel looked at her. "What is it?"

"I just realized something!"

"What?"

"I was scheduled to host the PTA today... not chair it, just provide refreshments, remember? I told you about it, and you agreed. If this Hope Lange person is there, I wonder how... or if she will have to handle the PTA?"

"Martha is there, is she not?"

"Yes, but..."

"Then Martha will make the same wonderful refreshments she always does, and no one will be the wiser."

"I suppose so, if she can fake her way through remembering everyone's names."

"If you can act for her, she can remember a few names for you," he said, decidedly.

"I hope you're right."

Filling their plates, they glanced around the room.

"I wonder if anyone is expecting us to sit with them?" Carolyn said. "I might be able to relive what I need to about chopping down your tree, even if I don't want to, but I don't know enough... anything about anyone here, but you!"

"Nor I, my dear..." The former ghost scanned the crowd of people.

"We'll have to play it by ear, I guess," Carolyn essayed. "We'll just find a spot and sit together. If someone wants us to join them, or they us, I guess we'll... keep on acting. Maybe we'll be lucky and be able to just sit in peace."

Her companion agreed, and they headed toward a pair of seats that would afford them a degree of privacy where they could talk and look over their scripts. The two sat down at a small table by a window, and after a few moments, Carolyn smiled to herself to see the delight with which Daniel was partaking of his meal. Noticing her look, he shrugged. "I haven't truly eaten in more than a century, my dear. It's rather a treat."

"Too bad you can't keep this... power. Martha would be overjoyed to have a man to cook for, outside a dream."

Daniel was about to respond, when his attention was drawn to a man who had joined Jean Holloway for lunch. "What the blazes is Ryan McNally doing here?"

Carolyn turned to look. "No, that looks like Mr. Hampton, the kid's principal — or the pill-popper, as you call him. Former, I mean. He moved to Florida last month. Couldn't take any more stress." She frowned. "You know, I never thought about it before, but Mr. Hampton does look enough like Doctor McNally to be his brother, but I really don't think they're related. For that matter, considering where we are, I doubt that guy's either of them." She watched as McNally/Hampton gave Jean Holloway a very warm hello kiss. "Daniel, I do believe those two are married, or are as the kids say, at least 'heavily involved'."

Daniel stared a moment longer. Giving his lady a sidelong look, he noted, "If the pill-popper and Ryan are no kin, perhaps you will accept that Sean Callahan and I are in no way related?"

"I did that long ago," she said. "After all, Aggie is not related to Harriet and Hazel."

The Captain lifted one brow. "I was so annoyed with Harriet's snoopiness than I completely missed what a striking resemblance she bore to Aggie."

Carolyn inclined her head. "They do. Enough to be triplets. Now, I need to look over this script."

"And I, as well," he smiled. "Shall we begin?"

"Yes."

For a few minutes, they read in silence, then Carolyn shook her head. "They got a few things wrong. It looks like some were corrected, but the Tunisian incense burner wasn't an issue until much later, and it was Claymore who took that."

"Yes. He didn't mind being altruistic, as long as it was my property he used to be so," Daniel remarked dryly. "Hideously carved — Aunt Violet would never have had a hideously-carved anything."

"And I never told you to go haunt a ship. I just wanted the house to be less nautical and more like a — a house."

"Has it become that, Carolyn?" Daniel asked.

The question hung in the air for a moment.

"Oh, Daniel!" she said, her voice low. "Need you ask? Gull Cottage has been a home to me like no other I have ever known. No place on earth suits me as well, and I'll stay as long as you WANT me there!" her voice cracked.

"That would be forever," he said, starting to take her hand, and then realizing it would not be prudent for 'Edward' to be seen holding hands with 'Hope,' a married woman.

Finally, he pulled his blue eyes away from her green ones, and returned them to the script.

"Apologize…" he muttered. "They have me apologizing here. I don't believe I did. Not in those words."

"You did, sort of," Carolyn smiled. "As I recall, you DID try to charm your way back into my good graces."

"Perhaps, but I wish I had done a better job of it," he sighed. "This is a trifle more maudlin than words I would use, but I would have, should have said SOMETHING, more. Blast it."

"You said a lot, all things considered, Daniel."

"Such as?"

"Well, as I recall, you said I could do anything I wanted to the house, even if I ruined Gull Cottage, and I darn near did. I'm afraid I took you a little more at your word than was a good idea." Carolyn sighed again, took another bite of her sandwich, and chewed it thoughtfully. After taking a swallow of her drink, she continued. "I tried to do a little too much, too fast, but I did have…" She stopped suddenly.

"Yes?" the Captain prodded.

"I don't want to talk about it. Not now."

"Why not?"

"We don't have time. I need to learn these lines. So do you. I am a quick study, thank goodness. Remember Claymore's play?"

Behind them, some fifteen feet away, a pair of ears perked up at hearing his other 'name.'

"Yes, my dear, I remember."

"Well, I did learn my whole part in a week, inane as it was."

"One of the longest weeks of my life. I missed you all enormously. The house seemed so empty with you gone."

"I figured as much when you decided to come down and watch us rehearse, after all," she giggled. "And what you did to poor Norrie and Claymore! Anyway, as I was saying, I'm a quick study. A talent that came in rather handy in college." She looked at the pages again. "I think if I read all this through and say it out loud a few times with you reading your part, I'll have it down."

"Then we better do just that. It shouldn't be hard. Did I ever tell you I have a perfect memory, my dear?"

"Yes, you did," she smiled. "Something about 'Elephants and ghosts never forget'?"

"Ah, now, it isn't kind to toss my words back at me."

"But accurate."

"Aye," he said, looking into her face once more.

Together, they read through the first page or so of dialogue, astounded at how close the conversation was to the way they both remembered the morning after their initial argument.

" …Thank you…" Carolyn read. "And you have a lovely house, for a sailor."

"Seaman, blast it!" Daniel reacted without even looking at the script. "Sailor is a landlubber's word."

Carolyn lifted an eyebrow. "Well, they certainly have THAT line right!" she smirked, and inclined her head. "I'm TERRIBLY sorry… SEAman." She stopped again, looking at the next line.

"What is it, dear heart?" Daniel asked.

Carolyn shook her head slowly. "It's this next line. What she says."

Daniel looked at the words. "Romantic?"

"Yes. That. 'Sorry. I'm afraid I don't know much about the sea, except that it's romantic'."

"What about it?" He shrugged. "It's good line. Lots of women in my day thought so. Not that I let their remarks color my judgement, or cause any more interest in them. And the Captain's response is correct. Landlubbers do think that, and real seamen do know better."

"It's just that I wanted to say that very thing, that morning, and didn't."

"Why not?"

"Because I figured you would laugh, call me a 'silly woman,' and say what you say in the script."

"I wouldn't have laughed at you, my dear, though the next line is also correct. Sometimes I don't know what made me go to sea — maybe lack of common sense was part of it! And I was indeed an ordinary seaman for a few years while I learned my trade."

"Then I'll say what has been written here for this Carolyn," Carolyn Muir smiled. "It was… and is... hard to imagine you being an ordinary anything. That was true two years ago and it's true now."

As there was in the script, a moment of silence passed between the two of them, then a voice pulled them out of their reverie.

"Well, well, well!" Charles Nelson Reilly was standing in front of their table. "Now what have YOU two been doing over here, sequestered all by your lonesomes?"

"Just trying to learn this segment, Cla… Charles," Carolyn stuttered. "There's a lot of dialogue here, and I'd like to get it right without doing it more than twice."

Peering over Carolyn's shoulder, Charles looked at the pages. "Say, you didn't get the last change? This scene got cut again. Good thing you didn't film it before the power outage. You'd be shooting it again, anyway."

"Cut?" What do you mean, you...?"

A very solid kick from Carolyn stopped Daniel from saying "sniveling sea-serpent." Blast, he thought to himself. This is NOT Claymore! "I thought these WERE the changed pages," he continued. "They are marked, right here." He pointed to the top of the page. "Are you sure?"

"Positive," Charles nodded. "Jean? Jean, Hope and Edward didn't get your last changes," he called over to the table, where Jean Holloway was still sitting with her husband.

"You didn't?" The woman's face was puzzled. "But they were left in your dressing room. Yellow, this time, I think. You haven't seen them? Just wait until I talk to…"

"Wait…" Carolyn held up her hand. "Yellow? I did see those. They were in the… my dressing room when I went to change. I just didn't realize…" She looked at Daniel, who shrugged.

"To be honest, I haven't been to my dressing room all day." He frowned. "So if they are there, I didn't see them."

Jean Holloway shook her head and waved to a studio 'gopher' nearby. Explaining the problem to the boy, he departed a few seconds later. "They'll bring them to you," she sighed. "I had to trim another page, or so."

"Which part?" they asked together, looking tired.

"The part at the end after the Captain says he won't lose his temper — no sea being romantic, no heaven help the ordinary seaman, and still no direct apology, darn it."

"I'm sorry for that," Daniel muttered, giving Carolyn a look.

"I know," she smiled back at him.

"Me too," Charles sniffed. "Now you need to run through it again, and I won't have time to tell you more about the play I am directing."

"Another great drama, I suppose?" Daniel snapped, without thinking.

"No… G.B. Shaw's Androcles and the Lion," Reilly said, puzzled. "You're the one who gave me the idea."

"I… did?" Apparently, the 'him' of this world liked Claymore. This one, anyway.

"Yes. Doesn't it strike you as such now, Edward?"

"Why… yes, of course it does. Excellent, really. I'm sorry Cl… Charles. I'm just feeling a little… tired today. Been a long week, and all that."

The boy came back to the table with the altered scene, and Daniel, after giving Carolyn another look, buried his head in it.

"Do you want me to hold book on the two of you?" Charles tried again.

"That won't be necessary," Daniel said, his voice almost, but not quite a growl.

"Ah… all right… I suppose…" Charles repeated, and turned to go, shaking his head. "Edward, I don't think you even KNOW what is necessary!"

He walked away from the table, mumbling softly to himself. No cigarettes, Edward calling me names… INDEED! Those two look… different… they look like they're in lo… NO, It can't be…

XXX

Lunch, followed by getting familiar with the twice-changed script took approximately another forty-five minutes. Fortunately, Carolyn and Daniel were not disturbed by any other actors or tech people, and nobody seemed to find it unusual that the two stars were eating, or reading lines together. Finally, looking around and seeing that the room was practically deserted, the two made their way back to the sound stage.

Reta smiled at them. "Well, tempting as the spread was, I did try not to gorge at lunch; I know what you'll have tonight will be marvelous, Hope. I always look forward to seeing it. I'm not the cook Martha Grant is, but I do know how to appreciate. Don't suppose you'd give me a little hint?"

Concealing her panic, Carolyn essayed a cheerful look of her own. "I never tell surprises early." Especially when I don't know them.

Thankfully, the wardrobe lady came along just then to inform 'Hope' that she needed to change, again, allowing Carolyn to escape this talk of cooking. Daniel concealed an amused look; he'd known very well what was going through the dear lady's head. Then, as he turned to find a comfortable spot to sit and go over his lines again, someone tapped his arm. He turned to see a very annoyed looking woman glaring at him.

"And just where are you going? I expected you in your trailer ten minutes ago!"

"What for?" he asked, surprised.

She peered at his beard. "You're badly in need of a retouch, Edward."

"A what?"

"Retouch." She stared at him as if was losing his mind. "Your beard. I need to fix it, like I do every day after lunch."

"Really, I…" Daniel started to protest again. Who was this woman, and how dare she?

"Move it, Edward, we still have three scenes to shoot." Lee Phillips, the director, came up behind him, and he whirled around.

"Move it... where?"

"Where? To your trailer. Come on, now. Make-up has to finish retouching your beard and then give Hope a quick look."

"I…" The seaman started, then touched his face once more. "…forgot."

"STOP that!" The woman scolded, practically slapping his hand from his face, and in the next breath, she was shooing him in the direction of 'his' dressing room trailer.

"What was Edward's problem now?" Charles Nelson Reilly, coming up afterwards, asked Phillips, suspiciously.

"Dunno," Phillips said. "He said he forgot about his after-lunch retouch."

"Strange…" Reilly murmured.

"I think for today I'll chalk it up to him trying to quit smoking," Phillips answered. "Correction. I need to be patient with BOTH of them… Edward AND Hope. Today has been hinky enough already, what with power outages, and all. And I haven't forgotten about you, Charles. I still want to try and get to your scene again, if we can. You don't mind watching the parade pass by, do you?"

"Not a bit of it." Reilly smiled, then took off his glasses to polish them. "I agree with you, though. Those two are acting weird, but... I'm the patient sort. So, I'm 'ready when you are, L.P'."

"Thanks."

Reilly headed for his chair, lost in thought. Quitting smoking or not, this is… strange, bordering on bizarre. Five days a week in makeup, and he forgot?

XXX

"Edward, how many times must I tell you? DO NOT scratch your beard!" a formidable woman with iron-gray hair asked in utter exasperation as she glared at him. This must be the Gloria Faye that Lee had threatened to "sic" on him. "Lee says you're getting a head start on New Year's Resolutions, or are extremely late — and trying to stop smoking. Add in another bad habit to break. Stop messing up your beard. And while you're at it, quit griping about how it itches."

"It is not a habit..." Daniel began to protest, not at all used to being taken to task by a woman, at least not since his aunt's day. "...And I do not gripe."

"Ha," she snapped, reaching over to work on his make-up. "Yeah, right. Then why do I have to talk to you about it constantly, and what else would you call that fussing and fuming I listen to daily? Auditory hallucinations?"

Daniel scowled. The woman was dogged in her determination. "You have misinterpreted my statement of the truth as griping." Almost to himself, he added, "Blasted thing has never itched before."

Unfortunately, she heard. "Couldn't prove it by the way you carry on."

Thinning his lips, Daniel corrected himself, "Never itched this badly before. It's far worse today. Good grief, woman, get away from me with that! I'm not some female to wear make-up!" He recoiled in horror as she started to apply powder.

"Stay still. This is the price of fame. You have never complained about it before," Gloria said, giving the 'star' a funny look. "Take up smoking again, sweetheart. Nicotine deprivation is messing up your mind in a big way. Now, be still. My rep's on the line, and I won't have you screwing it up by going out there all shiny." She paused for breath. "And Edward, as I have been telling you for at least two months, up to, and including this morning, if you hate all this as much as you seem to, grow your own beard!"

"I DID," he said quietly, but not quietly enough.

"What?"

"I... I mean I HAVE grown a beard before."

"You have?" Gloria asked, now back to applying spirit gum. "Hmm. My brother has the same color hair as you do. His comes out red. What color does yours grow out?"

"Dark red, naturally."

"No need to get snippy. You're a blonde. Your beard could be blonde, too."

"Ah… yes… of course." He nodded slightly. So Carolyn was right. He did look more blonde to… gray at the moment.

"You know," Gloria Faye mused. "I think you'd look a bit better if you go darker, Edward. Red hair photographs dark, but yet, it is still a warm color. Then we could tint your hair a bit, too, to match your natural beard color. That would be simple, just a good hair rinse. I do think it would look better than this salt and pepper effect we are doing now. You'd really consider it?"

"I know I would," Daniel answered, wincing. "This makeup chair is sheer torture. I don't know how the man…" He stopped himself. "I don't know how I do it every day."

"Rex Harrison suffered through it for the Ghost and Mrs. Muir, movie, too…" Gloria Faye pointed out. "But of course the movie didn't last as long filming as I hope this series will. I need the work."

MOVIE? There was a movie, too? Am I to be spared nothing?

"Sit still, Edward."

Seeing no way out of it, Daniel grimly suffered the application with as good grace as possible, inwardly relieved that Claymore Gregg was not around to see his utter humiliation. Wearing cosmetics, like a female. Blast.

XXX

"How are things going?" Carolyn asked, coming up behind Daniel about fifteen minutes later, on the sound stage, fresh from her wardrobe change, now back into the first outfit she had been wearing that day.

"I think we are about ready to begin," Daniel answered, looking a bit nervous. "They are still lighting the second floor veranda set with our stand-in's. I didn't even know we HAD stand-ins. That man up there doesn't look like me."

Carolyn gave the man a closer look. "No, but he is your height and build, and it figures that we would have them — keep us, I mean you-know-who, from sweating and ruining make-up standing under the lights." She smiled.

"What is it, dear lady?"

"I was just thinking your stand-in could come in handy if the people here at the network somehow manage to make an episode out of the time Sean Callahan visited. The actor-Captain, Edward Mulhare, could play both parts, like Patty Duke did in her show, and they could shoot your stand-in from the back when you both had to be on screen."

"Makes sense," Daniel shrugged, keeping his voice low. Activity was still all around them as they watched the tech crew adjust the lights and scenery — right down to turning the ship's wheel so it was not blocking either stand-in's face, or throwing a bad shadow. "Though I would like to think that some stories from our first two years never make it to the silver screen. I'm not always… proud of the way I behaved."

"Me either." She paused. "Any incident in particular?"

"My behavior concerning one Vanessa Peakskill," he said, quietly. "Getting so irritated with Scruffy, giving you that ridiculous parasol, though that did turn out well, trying to sic Aggie on Claymore, just because I don't like the man, getting Jonathan in trouble with the Adams/Franklin scandal, not booting out those escaped convicts, immediately, fighting the idea of you running for city council. Things of that sort."

"Fine time to think of all this, Daniel," Carolyn protested. "I've hurt you, too! There are several times I accused you of having no feelings, and I suspected you of doing something to Scruffy, when I knew you just wouldn't, and I did have your tree chopped down… despite what happened, there should have been a way I…"

"Yes, you were going to tell me about that."

"I can't now. We shouldn't even be talking about all THIS here. Maybe later."

"Claymore, I mean Charles, is over there reading and making notes on that play he is directing," Daniel shook his head. "I still have trouble conceiving of Claymore… HIM directing George Bernard Shaw! And…" he added with a nod, "Martha, I mean Reta, is calling her daughter, I think."

"I have just as much of a hard time coming to grips with THAT idea!" Carolyn said, stifling a laugh. "Though, I suppose, in real life, both women are, or could have been good mothers." She paused, glancing at her script once more. "Do you think there's any chance we'll get up there, start filming, lightening will flash, and we'll be home again?" Carolyn asked quietly.

"You are changing the subject again. But to answer your question, it's a nice thought, but I doubt it," Daniel answered, his voice equally low. "I've been thinking we will most likely be here for the rest of the day."

"What makes you say that?"

"Gut instinct. I have no doubt, somehow, that we will go home, but I think we have to finish here first, and this play is not complete."

"So you think we are here until the director calls it a day, or finished or we take a curtain call, or something?"

"More or less."

"Then we could be here a while. I never said I was an actress, and this next scene is much longer than the first one."

"Do you have it memorized?"

"I think so, and if not, I think our true-to-life 'experience' will carry over."

"Hope? Edward?" Lee Phillips called. "There you are. We're ready. Get on your marks."

"Sounds like we're running a race," Daniel said, without thinking.

"Funny. Take your places on the set. Oh, Edward…" he continued. "We already have the first part in the can, so you won't have to freeze your way in here."

"What?" As blasted hot as his costume was, the last thing he was going to do was FREEZE.

"Honestly, you two need to go back to the nicotine habit. It's doing things to you. You have to 'freeze' at the ending of the scene, Hope, so Edward can pop in, and again, when he pops out, remember? Don't get lost in the part. But this time, we'll just start with you standing still, and saying your first line."

"Oh. All right."

Together, the 'actors' took their places.

From his quiet seat, Charles Nelson Reilly scratched his head, and watched Daniel and Carolyn carefully, noticing how they took comfort simply looking at each other. He chewed on a thumbnail, then put down the play he had been reading. Something was not right. Adams and Franklin, escaped convicts… who the devil is Aggie? And what was that remark about Reta, and why don't they know what a mark is? These two bear watching.

XXX

A bit unsurely, Daniel started to speak.

"A beautiful day, isn't it, my dear?" He paused for a few seconds, outwardly acting, inwardly wondering how he ever dared to just pop in, remembering the way he had blown up the night before. "A crisp wind, fresh sea, a bright blue morning!" Blast, I sound like I am giving a weather report. "Look …" he stopped himself from saying "My dear" again, as much as he wanted to. "I know I have a terrible temper. Sometimes it gets the better of me. But I'm only human …" Carolyn's eyes met his for a moment, then she turned away. "Well, at least I was." And how I wish I was again! His thoughts raced, but the Carolyn acting Carolyn in front of him was still ignoring him. Blast, had she really been that angry? It's a wonder she didn't tear my head off, at least figuratively. "Confound it, woman. I can't stand this cold shoulder business." I never could with you, he mentally added. "Say your piece."

Taking a deep breath, Carolyn turned to face him, and he could see the wonder in her eyes as their past unfolded for the whole world to see.

Trying to sound as she once had, as she was supposed to now, Carolyn stated, "All right, Captain, I... I have something important to discuss with you."

"Well, say it," he started to reply, but Lee cut him off.

"Cut. Hope, you are not supposed to sound uncertain here. You are firm, you know what you want to say, and you aren't worried about hurting his feelings. Now, try it again, from 'say your piece'."

Daniel's lips thinned. How dare that impudent whelk speak to Carolyn in that tone of voice!

Annoyed, whether at herself or at Lee, Carolyn said her line again, this time, perfectly conveying the proper emotion.

"Well, say it — straight out, Madam! That's always the best way."

"Captain, there…"

Phillips interrupted her once more. "Cut! Edward, let's try it again. You were sounding a bit too condescending on that line."

"I was not!" Daniel protested, trying to keep his voice from roaring, as he realized while he had commanded hundred's of men during his lifetime, he was not the master and commander under this roof.

"From here you were. Let's try it again. We'll take it from Hope's line. Action!"

Everything went well until Daniel said, "Well, you call it a house, I call it a ship, but let's not quarrel over words," then Carolyn smiled, thinking how many times they had done that, especially while discussing his Memoirs.

"Cut! Hope, why are you smiling?"

She started. "I... I…"

"I don't know why Ca... Hope was, but I was, too," Daniel said gallantly. "I'm… sorry, Lee. I was thinking about… about…"

"Maiden Voyage?" Carolyn said, hoping frantically that that 'episode' if there was one, had been filmed in this world.

"I… see," said Phillips. "I suppose that is a funny line, considering, but let's try to keep focused on this week's episode, all right?"

"Yes," they nodded, both wondering how any self-respecting adult would want to playact someone else's life five days a week, especially theirs.

"Fine. Let's take it from Edward's line again, and try to keep going."

They had made it all the way through until the Captain's "I'll never get angry again," when Daniel broke character again and chuckled.

"Cut!" Phillips cried. "Edward, what's with you today?"

Daniel took a moment to answer. Blast it, he felt as powerless as he had when the Sea Vulture had been in port. Now as then, he wished he could summon just a bit of thunder or something and... there was no good wishing for that now. "I'm quite sure that I... the Captain... did NOT live up to that promise. Hyperbole to that degree is... amusing," he said. One hand fiddled with his ear in a familiar nervous gesture.

Running a hand backward through his hair, Lee counted to ten twice. "Great. The writers will be SO pleased to know that they are funny, but it's the audience that is supposed to laugh, NOT you and NOT Hope. Now, let's try it again."

Sighing, the two did just that, backing up to Daniel's "I call it a ship" line, and by the time they had made their way through to the Captain's line about being hard of hearing, both were already a little slap-happy. When Daniel said, "You have a lovely smile, Mrs. Muir," Carolyn believed it. And their eyes twinkled at each other as she said the word she had to train herself NOT to say for the last two years.

"Thank you. And you have a lovely house, for a sailor."

"Seaman, blast it!" he said, by rote. "Sailor is a landlubber's word."

Carolyn nodded solemnly. "I'm terribly sorry… seaman."

Daniel bent over her slightly, and gave her a look that definitely asked, "Is the fight over?"

"Friends, Mrs. Muir?"

"Friends, Captain Gregg." Carolyn said decidedly.

"Good!" he nodded back. "You'll never see me lose my temper again."

The two froze there for a minute, a bell rang, and then Lee Phillips shouted.

"Cut!" Carolyn and Daniel heaved a sigh of relief. "Take a breath, and we'll do it again."

"AGAIN?" Daniel almost shouted. "Now what did we do?"

"Nothing," Phillips shrugged. "I'd just like to see you get through at least half of it without stopping, and I do want some other angles. Edward, that date you have waiting for you must be a humdinger. Either that, or you need to start smoking again. I've never seen you so antzy." He looked around. "All right, everyone! Here we go again!"

Five takes later, the scene was in the can.

XXX

Phillips announced a coffee break before they started shooting the next scene, and the ghost and Mrs. Muir moved off into a corner, ostensibly to look over their lines again.

"You do have a lovely smile, Mrs. Muir," the Captain said, under his breath. "And for the record, you did not ruin the house."

"And your home is beautiful, for anyone," she said, blushing. "Thank you."

"I think I designed it for you, I just didn't know it at the time," he said softly.

"Thank you, again," she whispered back, then sighed. "I've already been informed I have to go change again, now that this scene is over. I won't be long. If you wait for me outside my… I mean, Hope's trailer, we could get a cup of coffee. I'm dying for one."

"Sounds good," he nodded. "Why don't I get us both some, and I'll meet you back here? I could help you run lines again."

"It's the scene on the balcony," Carolyn said, her tone almost, but not quite nonchalant. "I think I have it down, fairly well."

"Whatever you say," he answered, giving her arm a pat, wishing he could do more. "Meet you back by your trailer in ten minutes?"

"That's more than enough time."

XXX

When Daniel returned, Carolyn was waiting right outside Hope Lange's trailer.

"I figured it would be better," she said sadly. "We aren't these people. I don't want to start any gossip about them."

"You're right," he nodded. "But my darling, reliving all this is bringing up so many unanswered questions!"

"Like… what?" she asked, nervously.

"The blasted tree." He gave her a gentle, yet piercing look. "I think we were both a bit too — adamant — in our positions for it to have been simply about a tree."

Carolyn swallowed, then, taking a fortifying breath nodded. "Yes. Not long after we initially spoke of it, I was near the window, and a tree branch shattered it—"

Instinctively, Daniel reached out to her. "Dear lady, were you harmed?"

Shaking her head, she went on, "No. Well, my nerves were, and our — relationship — was, temporarily, but I was okay otherwise. I... I just kept thinking about what if one of the kids, or Martha, or Scruffy HAD been there and hurt. I... I didn't want to worry anyone or make a fuss, but that's when I knew I had to have the tree taken down. I suppose topping it, following your suggestion, would have sufficed, but... I needed it gone. I couldn't risk anything worse happening." She looked at him, tears standing in her eyes. "You watched it fall, didn't you, Daniel?"

"Yes, I did," he said sadly, "And I don't deny it, it hurt a great deal to see it go, but Carolyn, I didn't know about the window, honestly. I'd have chopped it down myself, had I known. I'd chop down a forest before I'd see you hurt," Daniel intoned darkly. "Any of you, even that yappy dust rag."

Carolyn smiled.

"I thought you were just... ignoring my wishes, trying to push me out, as if I didn't matter," the Captain confessed. "Each bit of 'junk' gone felt like a part of me was being taken. Losing something I had planted myself felt like the last straw. I felt like I was being cut into pieces to be hauled off as well. After it was gone, I must admit, I went off and sulked until the pain quit smarting. I didn't want you to see me so — hurt, so vulnerable. It took — some time to get myself together, and when I returned, you were planting that sapling. You gave me... a wonderful memory to replace the old. A man is composed of his memories, some wise man, no, not me, once said. Great men, such as I, a bit more so."

"I know," she sniffed. "Honestly, I did figure it out later. You left. I could feel your presence leave the house right after the tree fell. Abner fixed the window, then Jonathan… he did talk to me very much like that little boy… Harlen, did in the scene this morning, but he also told me about your chart rack, how it was a present from an Admiral, and your Aunt Violet's breakfront, and… and… oh, Daniel, I… I didn't know, but I didn't want to fuss at you any more than I had, and… Blast it, Bob…" she stopped suddenly. "I… I just wasn't in a mood then to be told what do, and I didn't know until later how thoroughly I had fouled the lines."

"Darling, you…"

"I did," she nodded, turning away from him. "I did and some of it I can never fix!"

"Love," he started reaching for her. "It's over. Forgotten."

"I never will…" Carolyn shook her head.

A bell rang, and a moment later, a studio gofer appeared out of nowhere.

"Hope? Lee's ready to do your speech on the veranda."

"I'll be right there," Carolyn sniffed, shaking off Daniel's hand, she stood and started toward the set.

"I believe I'll watch," Daniel said. "Thanks, Henry."

The gofer scratched his head. "Those two sure are acting strange today," he said to himself.

"Strange doesn't BEGIN to cover it," a voice came from behind him.

"Oh, hi there, Mister Reilly," Henry nodded. "I didn't know you were still here."

"Just hanging around," Charles nodded. "Sometimes you learn lots of interesting things just… hanging."

"I guess…" he nodded. "Well, that's positive, anyway. Excuse me. I'll see you later." The man walked off in direction of the set, and Charles rubbed his chin.

"Positive…" he mused. "That, and sometimes you learn absolutely UNBELIEVABLE things!"

XXX

Dread clenched around Carolyn's heart as she stepped onto the stage to relive what had been one of the worst moments of her life. The guilt and fear she had never wanted to think of again had to be played out in front of strangers. Daniel's heart wrenched as he watched her go through it, flubbing the lines that had been written for her four times, until she was nearly in very real tears.

"I'm sorry, I don't know what's wrong with me," she sniffed. "I..."

"Just take a breath, Hope," Lee said, in what was meant to be a soothing tone. "I know it's an emotional scene. You've got that down right... too right. Come on, you can do it."

She glanced at Daniel, who gave her a slight nod.

"Let's try it one more time," Lee said.

Gathering her courage, Carolyn dove in, putting her heart into the scene as she realized that this time she knew Daniel would hear what she had wanted him to hear then.

"The tree was dangerous…" she started again, for what she hoped was the last time. "I would have kept it if I could! I know you planted it with your own hands, and I know what it is to miss someone… or some thing that you've grown used to." Remembering that awful night, she 'looked' for him, first left, then right. "I wouldn't have cut it down if I had any other choice!" She paused again, swallowing back the very real lump in her throat. "What I am doing is apologizing… and if that's not enough, give me the tongue-lashing I deserve!" She stopped again, but of course nobody answered. "Well, here I am! Fire away!" She paused, and this time the tears in her eyes were quite obvious. "Blast it, Captain! I can't take this cold shoulder treatment! Why won't you answer me?"

No answer came, and as the tears started to fall for real, she turned her back to the railing, her head lowered, and Daniel wasn't at all surprised to look down and see his hands clenched into fists. He had to get to her. NOW.

"Cut! That's it! Brilliant, Hope! Hey…" Phillips looked at Carolyn closely. "Hey, you really got into it this time, didn't you?"

She nodded from where she was still standing, not trusting herself to speak.

"Well, you did great," he answered. "Whatever you were doing, keep it up, but you deserve a rest. It'll take us a bit to get the front yard for bringing home the tree lit, so why don't we all take a break? You need to change, but… go do your yoga thing for a bit. Relax. Everybody…" he waved a hand. "Break! Take fifteen… take twenty. Heck, I'll call you when everything is ready. Last scene of the day. Everything needs to be right!

Nodding again, Carolyn made a run for the cafeteria, and as soon after as he could, blasting under his breath that he couldn't pop, Daniel started after her.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Gull Cottage xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

"That's right, I'm talking to YOU two," Martha Grant stood in the doorway, drumming her fingers on the frame.

Both actors jumped, but Edward recovered first.

"Oh! Martha! I didn't see you there. Is your foot better?"

"Don't "Oh, Martha," me. Now, just who are you, and what's up with you... both?"

Hope and Edward exchanged startled looks once more.

"Up?" Hope queried.

"Yes... up?" Edward echoed.

"As in 'what's going on,' not the 'opposite of down'," the housekeeper clarified acidly. "The only reason I haven't called Ed Peavey to report two missing people is how does one report a missing ghost? And you two do look just like Mrs. Muir and the Captain, not that Ed knows about the Captain, much less what he looks like in person. BUT, you aren't them."

"Uhm… what do you mean, precisely, Martha?" Hope asked nonchalantly, looking at the ceiling, Edward, anywhere but the housekeeper.

"Yes, my dear," Mulhare added, doing his best to be charming. "I don't quite see what you are driving at."

"Don't 'my dear' me, you… you… whoever you are," Martha snapped. "You've never called me 'my dear.' You only call Mrs. Muir that. Yes," she turned to Hope. "You, Mrs. Muir, or rather, whoever you are, are cooking, and making things I darn well know you have never made before in your life. Things like clam chowder from scratch, lobster canapés, salmon mousse, and red velvet cake. And you act like you LIKE doing it! I know that's not right… Carolyn Muir doesn't enjoy cooking, and bless her heart, has absolutely no talent for it."

"Would you believe I followed a recipe?" Hope asked, rubbing the back of her neck nervously.

"Not very likely. Besides, I don't even HAVE a good recipe for salmon mousse. And you…" The older woman turned to Edward. "You were NICE to Claymore! You've never helped him with any repairs here at Gull Cottage before… not that I have ever seen, or been told about for the time I didn't know about you, and you've been doing other weird things, too."

"I?" Edward huffed. "I don't act weird. No one has ever accused me of acting weird in my life."

"Really?" Martha crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Then I'll be the first. Weird. What do you call making groceries dance to the kitchen? And playing the piano, and singing like you've been doing it on Broadway for years? You performed like a professional in there! One more minute, and you would have been doing the tango scene from My Fair Lady with Claymore and… and whoever you are!" She pointed at Hope.

"Not me… " Hope shrugged. "I've never sung in my life… I mean in a musical," she added, remembering her one experience in a film with Elvis Presley.

"Don't try to change the subject on me," Martha said grimly. "There are other things, too."

"Such as?" Edward lifted an eyebrow, and looked uncomfortable.

"Such as when you think I don't see you, you stare at me as if you don't know me. And you did it with Claymore, too. And I heard you almost call him another name, and it wasn't 'slithering sea-snake.' It was a normal name-name." She took a breath and went on. "You keep looking around this house like you aren't used to being here… either of you. Captain, you keep walking to places… usually, even if it's just across the room, you pop. Not only that, you are acting like… like a pixie! Just… just romping around here like a kid. You two are NOT my boss, or her ghost, now who are you? What the heck is going on? I'm telling you right now, I'll… I'll call Ed Peavey, or… someone, I don't care who, at this point, before I let you harm Candy or Jonathan, and I want my people back! Now what do you have to say for yourself? I want answers, and I want them NOW!"

Edward shrugged and looked at his co-star.

"We should have known we couldn't fool Martha. Do you want to tell her, or shall I?"

Hope Lange crinkled her nose back at Edward. "She's not going to believe us! How can we prove it? I mean, well, you are a ghost..."

"But not HER ghost, and not all the time, I'm not," he retorted.

"What do you mean?" Hope looked surprised. "Do you know something about one of the future episodes that I don't? Have you seen an advance script?"

"Of course not, Hopie. You know perfectly well, you, Reta, Charles and I get our scripts at the same time, and only a few weeks ahead of shooting. I just meant I've only been a ghost since we got HERE. Normally, I'm not."

"Oh..." she answered, looking only a little calmer. "I though you meant that in a future episode you were going to turn solid, and no one had told me yet. You know, that's not a bad idea, really," she added thoughtfully. "I mean, for a dream sequence or something. I've gotten a few letters that really want..."

"Script? Episode? What are you two rambling about?" Martha asked, suspiciously.

Hope shook her head. "You aren't going to believe us."

"Indeed not..." Edward chimed in.

"BELIEVE?" Martha repeated. "Listen, I found out two months ago I've been living in the same house as a ghost for two years. Believe me, there is NOTHING I won't believe."

"Ah," Mulhare cut in. "You've only known about Captain Gregg since...?"

"February twenty-second. I'll never forget it."

"You must tell us how you found out. It sounds fascinating, and I have been telling…"

"What ARE you talking about?" the housekeeper asked nervously. "Now, I'm warning you, out with it, before I call the authorities, or something."

"Well, Re… I mean, Miss Grant, It's like this…" Edward started.

"Wait a minute," said Hope, looking a bit calmer. "Martha, you really shouldn't be standing. Please, take a seat." She pulled out a chair at the kitchen table.

"Take a seat?" Martha echoed, looking alarmed. "This IS bad news. Are you with the government? The FBI, or something?" She sat down heavily in the chair Hope offered. "Please tell me. I can take it."

"First of all, Martha, we are NOT with the FBI," Mulhare began. "Nothing of the sort, I'm afraid, but…"

"Well, if you aren't with the FBI, who are you?" Martha asked, bewildered. "I just realized you couldn't be… I mean, you are a ghost… don't tell me you are here to take the Captain away, and if you are, who are you?" She looked at Hope. "If you are a ghost, you are a very solid one. If anyone needs to turn solid around here, it would be Captain Gregg… then he and Mrs. Muir could get married, or something. They love each other, and…"

Now both actors' eyebrows went up.

Love? Really? Even Martha can see it?

"Look, Martha…" Hope started speaking again, then stopped and took a deep breath. "You're right. I'm not Carolyn Muir. My name is Hope Lange, and this…" she glanced at her co-star. "This is Edward Mulhare."

There was a long pause while the housekeeper stared at the two of them.

"You HAVE heard of us, of course?" Edward asked with his best smile, and tried to look charming, which under most circumstances, was not hard.

"Uh, no, I haven't," Martha finally spoke. "Never. Are you friends of the Captain's? And if you aren't, I still want to know what you have done with both of them. Mrs. Muir, especially! The Captain can take care of himself… he's been doing it for a hundred years, but Mrs. Muir is another story! She's a mother. Her children need her here. I do, too, so tell me what you have DONE with my boss and my ghost before I… Before I… well, I'll think of something!"

"Martha, please, try to calm down." Hope said softly. "My children, my REAL children, Christopher and Patty, need ME, too, and I would like to get back to them, but I'm here. And I don't really know how or why! One second Edward and I were filming the Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a fictional TV show, and the next we were here. My guess is we somehow… switched places with the real Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Only we didn't even know there was a real version..."

"A real version of what?" Martha said, her forehead wrinkling up. "I don't understand. You're Carolyn Muir… at least you look like her, but you aren't her... and you..." She looked closer at the 'ghost.' "You're different, too. Now come on! Really now, if you for trying for some April Fool joke, you're late. Besides, Captain, you putting those spiders in the sugar bowl was quite enough for this year, even if they were fake."

Edward pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. "My dear woman, I did not, repeat, not, put spiders, real or otherwise, anywhere, not this year, anyway." He paused, remembering the year he did do precisely that as a boy in County Cork, Ireland. "Hope and I are actors, and in our… world, and you are just a fictional character in our TV show. An actress named Reta Shaw plays you, and…"

"Never heard of her, either."

"I didn't think you would have, since you haven't heard of Hope, or myself. But the fact remains, your character, I mean you, on the show, you don't know about ghosts, me, I mean, Daniel Gregg, anyway, and..."

Martha held up her hand. "Whoa. Stop right there, mister. I'm REAL. Very much alive, thank you. It's GHOSTS that are supposed to be fictional, and untouchable. At least I thought so, up to two months ago when you finally showed yourself to me when I thought nobody cared that I had to leave Gull Cottage and go take care of my mother. But you stopped that somehow." She paused, and put her hand down flat on the table. "Pinch me. I'm real!" Then, carefully, she reached out and touched Hope's arm. "See? I am Martha Ruth Grant, and I have worked for Mrs. Carolyn Williams-Muir for ten years. Saw both her children come into this world. But you aren't she. Now what did you do with her? And the Captain? You can't take him away. I was just getting used to him."

"We did NOTHING!" said Hope, getting more and more frustrated. "We don't know, really. Someone, or some THING switched me with Carolyn, and Edward with the real ghost, Daniel Gregg, and we are just as lost as you are."

Martha nodded slowly. "Switched..." she shrugged. "Okay, you two. Let me get this straight. You say you two are really actors?"

"Yes," said Hope, breathing a small sigh of relief. Maybe this woman did have as much common sense as their Martha… Reta Shaw did. "We are currently appearing in a TV show about… well… you. I mean, Captain Gregg and Mrs. Muir, only there, right now, it's Friday, September 27, 1968, and we are just finishing filming an episode about Carolyn chopping down the Captain's monkey-puzzle tree."

Martha frowned again. "Wrong. Mrs. Muir told me about that. Besides, Mrs. Muir had the tree chopped down at the end of November, 1968. Right after Thanksgiving."

Hope shook her head. "No… its September. But I think Lee Phillips, he's our director, said the air date for this episode, if we ever get back to finish it, or your Carolyn and Daniel muddle their way through it, will be November 30th. Anyway, Jean Holloway wrote the script, expanded from an event taken straight from the novel, and..."

"A book?" Martha held up her hand again. "Wait a minute. There's a book about it… I mean, them, too? Good grief. I hope they got everything right, or the Captain will level the publishing house. Mrs. Muir told me he got mad enough about the clam chowder…"

"What chowder?" Hope cut in. "I just made clam chowder for the PTA meeting, and…"

"No-no. I mean when they used Captain Gregg's picture on the Yankee Skipper Clam Chowder can," the older woman answered. "Mrs. Muir said he wanted to level the general store selling it, and then the cannery. If you are doing their lives on a TV show, why don't you know that?"

"We haven't filmed that episode yet?" Edward guessed. "But I admit, it sounds interesting. However, Martha, as the Captain, I have never threatened to level anything. Well, except for Charles."

"Charles?" Martha frowned. "Who is Charles?"

"Claymore."

"Claymore changed his name to Charles? I thought that Charles was his middle name. Ed told me that, once."

"No... Charles Nelson Reilly is an actor, like us."

"Why are we talking about him?"

"He plays Claymore."

"Claymore is really an actor? I hope he's better at it than he is at being a landlord. Or directing. He's a terrible director."

Edward chuckled. "He's supposed to direct a play in a script we are filming in a couple of weeks. But actually, Charles is a good director. He's directed several summer stock productions, and he did get his start on Broadway also. He even won a Tony in 1962 for playing Bud Frump in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and he was nominated again for Hello, Dolly, in 1964. And you were right, by the way, about what you said a few minutes ago. I understudied, and later took over for Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, back in 1959. Hope, here, made her first appearance on the professional stage when she was twelve, and..."

"WAIT A MINUTE!" Martha cried, practically shouting. "You say Claymore has acted on Broadway? All right, I believe you! NOBODY is going to make up something like that! Okay, okay, you're actors. Now, how and why did you come here? I've heard of getting 'into' the part, but this is ridiculous!"

"If we knew that, we'd do it and… I guess whom, or whatever ever zapped us here would zap us back. Or maybe it's because Edward wished to be a ghost on his eyelash and said I could be a writer like Mrs. Muir at the same time. Or maybe Carolyn and the Captain have to do something in our world. Or both. Right now, we're just… muddling. It does look like she… I… she… has to host this PTA meeting..."

Edward laughed. "I guess the Captain, or I, will mellow enough in later episodes to allow more outsiders on board his ship."

"Well, Mrs. Muir said it took you… him a while," said Martha, thoughtfully. "After the Sea Vulture was here and you… he didn't have any powers. I didn't know about you then, so I'm not positive."

"Hmm…" Edward interjected, stroking his beard. "Interesting thought, that. A ghost ship called the Sea Vulture and no powers for the Captain. I like it. Was I… I mean, Captain Gregg solid, when he was powerless, too?"

Martha gave the actor-ghost a look. "I haven't the slightest idea, and wouldn't DREAM of asking! It's a sensitive subject. Mrs. Muir never mentioned that! Though she DID say you… he… couldn't walk through walls then."

"Look, We're getting off the subject here!" Hope rapped her knuckles on the wooden tabletop. "The point is, I could cook, and let you rest your ankle this morning, Martha, but the fact remains, I am going to have a flock of PTA women here in about fifteen minutes. "I've BEEN to these meetings! Chris and Patty, my children, go to school too, you know."

"Really? How old are they?" Martha interrupted. "Is Patty older, like Candy is here?"

"No… Christopher is," Hope smiled. "He's eleven, and Patty was ten in September. And I would really like to get back to them, which I can't do yet. But back to the point, I don't know any of the women here in Schooner Bay; I mean the real ones. We haven't had too many female guest stars on the show, just extras, except for Yvonne, in Haunted Honeymoon, and Shelly, in Vanessa… and a few others yet. Do you have an Elvira Grover here? Of course you do… I know what SHE looks like. Her real name is Mabel Albertson. But she wouldn't be on the PTA… And I have met the actress that is supposed to be playing Mrs. Coburn in a few weeks; she's married to our producer. I might recognize her. I don't even think she has a first name in the script, and…"

"I don't know anyone but Kathleen Hughes… er… Mrs. Coburn either," Edward interjected. "I'm not sure how I can help, even as a ghost, unless I have ex-ray vision, and can read their driver's licenses, or something."

"I don't believe you do, and that won't be necessary," Martha smiled. "And Mrs. Coburn's first name is Elizabeth. But don't worry. Actually Schooner Bay can be very stiff-necked about some things. Everyone seems to call everyone else Mrs. Somebody-or-other, and naturally, I do, too, I know them all, so I can help you there, so you won't need to worry about first names."

"But I don't know LAST names either, and if I'm supposed to be running this meeting..."

"But Mrs.… I mean, Hope, you aren't. Mrs. Post is. We just ended up holding it here because you have a good-sized area and Mrs. Jenkins family got the chicken pox. Besides, the women in town figure Mrs. Muir having the meeting here gives them another chance to see the house, the antiques, admire at the Captain's portrait and eat my refreshments. YOUR refreshments today! All you will have to do is keep the trays full, smile and nod and remember who everyone is. If you are good with names... have a good memory; you can pull it off. You do have a good memory, don't you?"

"Yes. I am an actress, after all. I DO have to learn lines, but I don't know these people! How will I learn their names without sounding like an idiot, or worse yet, making your Carolyn sound like one?"

"I'll sit near the front door, and greet everyone," said Martha. "Explain what happened to my foot, kind of direct traffic, but not play coat-check this time. There's a hall tree there, and it's not too cold out. Most women will probably just have sweaters, anyway. You can kind of stand with me, meet and greet, and I'll make sure I say all their names really clearly. You'll pick them up."

"What can I do?" Edward asked. "I'd like to help."

"Are you as good at being the Captain as the Captain?" Martha asked.

"Whatever do you mean, dear lady?"

"Well, the Captain told me… after I could see him, that is, that he could will himself to be seen only by those he wished to, and…"

"Ah. I remember. Nobody can see or here me, Madam, unless I wish it," Edward intoned.

"Hmm... Well, you have the "dear lady" and the Captain's lines down, but can you do that?"

The Irishman looked thoughtful. "I don't know. I haven't tried it... haven't needed to, today."

"Why don't you?" Martha looked at the clock. "Hurry it up though. Those ladies will be arriving and we still have serving dishes to get out, and…"

"They're all on the counter," Hope cut in. "Most of prep work is done, really. I was just dreading seeing everyone show up and not knowing how to handle it."

"Terrific. So try it… Edward, right?"

"Right, Martha."

Mulhare closed his eyes and concentrated, and Hope Lange watched as he slowly disappeared.

"Edward?" She peered at his now empty chair. "Are you there?"

"He's right there!" said Martha. "Singing Henry Higgins this time — Why Can't A Woman, and very well, too, actually. You really can't see him?"

Hope shook her head. "Not a bit of him. Edward, come back here."

In an instant, the actor was back in the room and smiling. "Right here, Hopie."

"Don't do that again."

"Just doing as requested," he shrugged. "Now what, Martha? I'm ready, willing and able."

"Fantastic," the housekeeper nodded. "You can listen to me greet everyone, and help Miss Lange with names, too, when she gets stuck, and anything else might be useful. Kitchen work, maybe. Have you ever been to a PTA meeting? I mean, if you are human, in your own world, and looking the way you do, well..." she blushed "You must be married, right?"

Edward shook his head. "No, just a few close calls. I've had many happy love affairs, though." The actor looked rather proud of this last statement.

"Figures," Martha sniffed. "Actors and sea captains. Perpetual bachelors. Bet you drive some fancy black sports car, too."

"It's a red Jaguar. I want to buy a boat, actually. Never have time to sail as much as I want to, though, especially during the shooting season."

"Listen, you two can talk about sailing later. I'll join you," said Hope. "But look, I just remembered something else. My kids, I mean Carolyn's kids. Kellie and Harlen. I mean Candy and Jonathan. Do I need to pick them up from school, or anything? I have no idea where…"

"Normally I would, but I can't with my ankle…" Martha started.

"Then you better give me directions to town so I can go get them. Blast, I hope they don't figure out I'm not their mom, not now. It would scare them. What...?"

"You won't need to pick them up at all," Martha interrupted her. "Since all the ladies are coming out here, Mrs. Coburn is bringing them home when she comes out for the meeting. And don't worry about them realizing you aren't their mother. We can hustle them right upstairs to start homework, and worry about telling them later, after all the ladies leave, if it becomes an issue. Personally, I think, just maybe, you will be back where you belong, and my employer and her ghost will be back here where they should be before the end of the day."

"What makes you think so?"

"Well," Martha paused, letting her mind float. "You said the Captain, I mean Edward, wished on an eyelash he could be a ghost and you could be Carolyn for a DAY, right?"

"R-Right…"

"Well, a day constitutes either sunrise to sunrise, or a work day."

"So?"

"So what time is your work day over in California?"

Edward rubbed his chin. He was getting used to having a real beard, rather than the made-up one. "Usually from about five-thirty or six in the morning until seven at night, including time in the make-up chair."

"Of course, this being the last day of shooting for the week, it might vary a bit," said Hope. "If the real Captain and Carolyn are at Fox studios, and acting, their day could run a hair longer."

"True," Martha nodded. "Mrs. Muir isn't that bad an actress. I've seen her. And she is playing herself, after all. I'm not sure about Captain Gregg. Still, I think at the end of this workday, everyone will switch back. In the meantime, Edward, you can learn names, then, once the meeting has started, you can hide out in the kitchen with me, and Hope maybe, and help there, all right?"

Edward shook his head. "I understand, Martha. But, you know, I still don't understand entirely why we are here, unless this is all some kind of cosmic April Fool's Joke."

Martha looked at the actor curiously. "April Fool? What makes you say that?"

"Well," he said slowly. "Here, in Schooner Bay, a real place, it's April second. The day after April Fool's Day. Hope and I saw your paper, the Schooner Bay Beacon, earlier. Mrs. Muir even had an article in it. The paper is dated April second. Maybe all of this… this… switching lives is some sort of weird April Fool joke, coming a day late?"

Martha shook her head. "Sorry. You obviously come from a bigger town than Schooner Bay in real life, Edward. The SBB is a weekly. That paper you saw is a week old. Mrs. Muir kept it because of her article in it. It came out last Thursday. That was April second. Today is Wednesday, April eighth, not Thursday the second."

"Hmm…" Edward tugged on his left ear and thought for a moment. "Today is April eighth? You are sure?"

"Why, yes, of course I'm sure," Martha repeated, puzzled. "What's wrong?"

"Oh, nothing, really, must be a coincidence of some kind."

"What is, Edward?" Hope Lange looked at her co-star, curiously.

"Well, I'm not sure if it completely solves the riddle, it's just that April eighth is my birthday."

"Oh." Martha responded. "Well, happy birthday, Edward."

"But it's not my birthday."

"You just said it WAS your birthday!"

"No-no… it IS my birthday, but today is NOT my birthday, I mean not when Hope and I went to work this morning. We told you. This morning, in California, in 1968, it was… is… September twenty-seventh."

Martha nodded again. "I see now. But you know, it's odd…"

"What is?" Hope asked.

"Well, it's just that we learned only a few weeks ago that today is the Captain's birthday, too. Claymore found it out for us, after messing it up and giving us the day he died last November. Of course the Captain DID remember, all along, but didn't want to be a bother to us, seeing as he is a ghost, and really not alive anymore, and we did give him the party in November. We agreed not to fuss, but the kids and Mrs. Muir and I have still planed a little something. Do you suppose that's why you swapped places?"

Hope shook her head. "I don't get you."

"Well, it's just that… don't you see? Mr. Mulhare, you said you made a wish this morning to be a real ghost. I wasn't here, but what if this morning, the Captain wished he could be human for a day? Maybe he wished he could be an actor. Not you, of course, because you don't exist as an actor here, in OUR… world, but, like you? Two wishes at the same time in different worlds on the Captain's birthday, and what is also your birthday, even though it isn't that day for you. Maybe that's it! Am I making sense, here?"

Edward nodded slowly. "That could very well explain it, Martha!"

Hope nodded. "I do believe you are right. Edward did say 'for a day,' which means we should be back to our own worlds… universes… before too long."

"Well, this is encouraging," Martha sighed. "But if Mrs. Muir and Daniel Gregg are you for the day, and the Captain is mortal, I have to wonder how he is holding up. He must be having a dickens of a time!"

"And I would love to know if anyone back home, at least at Fox, has figured out they aren't us," Edward added.

"Charles might," said Hope. "He's very intuitive."

"So is Reta," Edward mused. "Smart, too. Like YOU Martha. And if you go along the lines of parallel universes, it would make sense that she would be the one to figure it out, since you figured it out here."

"I'm more interested about THIS universe at the moment," Martha said. "The PTA ladies should start arriving any time, and Candy and Jonathan, too."

"Do you really think they won't tumble to the fact that I'm their mother, Martha?" Hope asked, a troubled frown coming to her face.

"Not right away," said the housekeeper. "I didn't, and may not have, if you hadn't done some things so not… YOU. Besides, they're excited about finishing their birthday present for the Captain. I think they will charge up to their rooms and do their homework and work on the surprise, at least one of them will, since Linda Coburn will be coming with her mother, probably. I think the kids will be more concerned with Captain Gregg not following them to their room, or suspecting anything in the way of birthdays. With the PTA around, I can guarantee they won't be hanging around the living room with all the "hens," as the Captain calls them. And don't worry. We can play this evening by ear. For all we know, you could switch back any time between now and tomorrow morning, and if it's sooner, like right after the PTA leaves, that's so much the better, and the kids won't need to be told anything. If you don't switch by the time all the ladies leave, well, we'll cross that ocean when we get there."

"Sounds like a plan," the actors nodded.

"Good," Martha nodded back. "Okay. Let's get this show on the road! Places, you two."

"Martha'd make a GREAT director," Edward grinned.

XXX

By the time the PTA ladies arrived, Hope and Edward were as ready as they were going to be for their performance. Mrs. Coburn brought the two Muir children and her daughter in a short time before the rest of the group arrived. The kids greeted their 'mother' cheerfully before grabbing cookies and heading upstairs with homework.

They had barely clamored to their rooms when the "overstuffed ladies" began to come in. Martha stationed herself near Hope so she could greet each of them by name as they entered. Standing by invisibly, Edward noted the names and faces.

In any universe, PTA meetings are a colossal bore, Hope thought to herself as she listened to Mrs. Post lead the talk about Field Day and a few other equally un-stimulating topics. Every so often, she nodded at appropriate times, but thankfully, 'Mrs. Muir's' opinion was not critical today. Edward grimly thought that if ghosts, or whatever he was, could sleep, he would be snoring so loudly he would be caught. Moreover, he was so bored his mind felt too numb to act as a prompter, but thankfully, Hope seemed not to need that.

Now that the meeting was well underway, Martha excused herself to the kitchen. After a few minutes, since it seemed Hope had her role under control, Edward popped out to join Martha. Unable to just sit still much longer, the older lady was trying to figure out a way to start on the dishes when he arrived.

"Martha, what the devil are you doing? You're supposed to be resting that ankle," he scolded.

"The clean-up needs doing," she protested in a low tone, not wanting anyone to overhear and accuse her of talking to herself.

Edward shook his head and pointed to the kitchen table. "Sit. I can manage the dishes." He frowned. "I think. I'm still not too sure what I can do in this state."

"You can handle that; the Captain did help with the dishes at least once that I know of," Martha assured him, sitting down as instructed. "Mrs. Muir caught me up on a few things after the Captain introduced himself to me."

"Really? Perhaps he's not half as gruff as the writers make him out to be," Edward noted, getting to the task at hand.

"Well, I don't know. I've never seen what your writers have written," Martha shrugged. "And I'm still getting to know him. But, I think he does have a... soft spot for this family."

Edward nodded. This was an excellent chance to find out more about the character he was trying to bring to 'life,' no pun intended. "Tell me more, my dear. If I am reading him correctly, it would matter to the old boy greatly that I portray him properly."

Martha lifted her brows. "You've got that right. I'll tell you what I can."

Suddenly, the door swung open behind them. The actor and housekeeper barely had a chance to exchange slightly panicked glances before Elizabeth Coburn drifted into the room.

"Martha, you simply must give me the recipe for the salmon mousse… and could I get another serving of it, please?" she started, breaking off when her eyes landed on Edward, who could not fade out and leave a soapy dish hovering over the sink. "Who are you?"

"He's ah…" Martha stammered. "Uhm…"

Hastily improvising, Edward smiled charmingly. "I'm Claymore's… cousin… from… England. Daniel Edward Gregg, Madam. At your service. I'm just visiting the family… er… manor. Tracing my roots, as it were."

Martha choked slightly, Daniel EDWARD? But the air-headed Mrs. Coburn's eyes were fixed on the handsome actor. "Did you know you look just like Captain Gregg's portrait?" she blinked.

Edward smiled a little more broadly, inclining his head in a way that gave the impression he had bowed, "I had heard a suggestion or two to that effect."

"I swear, I never really bought Claymore's story about being related to Captain Gregg. I mean, just look at him, then look at the picture! But, I guess if YOU… and you really look like you could be related to the Captain… admit to being related to Claymore, then maybe he is, after all."

Edward nodded ambiguously. "Well, genetics aren't my specialty. Anything is possible. I'm helping Martha with the dishes... or I'd shake your hand, but it would be a terrible shame to get this water on your lovely dress, and I'm dripping."

"Oh, of course," Mrs. Coburn nodded as if that was the most logical statement in the world, never questioning why he didn't just dry his hands. "Will you be here long? Are you staying with…?" Her eyebrows went up. More juicy gossip about Carolyn Muir!

"I'm not sure how long, actually," Edward said quite truthfully. "I'm staying... staying…"

"At Mr. Hampton's old cottage. It's been vacant since he had to retire... for his nerves' sake, you remember." Martha explained, going with the tale. "Now, if you'll give me a hand up, I'll get you more salmon, and why don't you take along a tray of refreshments for everyone? Save them a trip."

"Oh. Yes. Of course," Mrs. Coburn murmured, reluctantly taking her eyes off the actor.

"And then..." Martha continued, "...then you'd best get back to it. They can't manage the meeting without YOU, I'm sure."

Several long moments later, the woman was dispatched back to the gathering, leaving Mulhare and Martha to breathe a sigh of relief.

"One thing I can tell you," she said, "HE won't like being Claymore's cousin!"

"I didn't have time to think of anything else," Edward said ruefully. "You can just say he… I… Claymore's cousin… went home."

"Almost seems a shame, now that one of the biggest gossips in town has had to meet you, so to speak," Martha said thoughtfully.

"She is?" Edward asked. "I'm sorry if I have overstepped, saying I was visiting, and related to Claymore, but I really couldn't think of any other excuse, short of introducing myself as Daniel Gregg, the ghost, and I didn't think THAT would be prudent."

"Hardly," Martha laughed. "But I do think Captain Gregg AND Mrs. Muir are going to be surprised that he is now 'known' in Schooner Bay, or will be! But as there is no way around it, I suppose they can just make do."

"What else needs doing here?" Edward asked.

"Little of everything, and nothing in particular," said Martha. "Just stay here and keep me company."

"What time do these things usually break up?" Mulhare inquired. "I suppose if you and Hope have to put up with these women, I can too."

"Around five, if we're lucky," Martha smiled. "And, thank you."

XXX

When the PTA ladies had gone, Hope joined them in the kitchen. Looking slightly exhausted, she blew a stray lock of hair out of her eyes. "Hey! What's the big idea?" she demanded.

"Idea? What idea?" they asked, too innocently.

Seeing the guilty looks Martha and Edward were stealing at each other, Hope rolled her eyes.

"You know what."

"Okay, who said what, exactly?" Martha asked quickly.

"Mrs. Coburn. She looks just like Kathleen by the way, said there is a "gorgeous hunk" in my kitchen," Hope answered. "Edward, I knew she had to be talking about you. I mean, who else could it be? Charles? I mean, Claymore? I think not. Now spill it."

"Oh, well — We were going to tell you," Edward said, sheepishly. "It would seem…" he hedged.

"What did you tell HER?" Martha asked quickly.

"I said I'd had unexpected company, and he is such a gentleman he offered to help Martha in the kitchen, seeing as how her ankle's been hurt. Now what happened?"

"Elizabeth Coburn caught Edward washing dishes, so now he is known as Claymore's English cousin who is visiting here, and staying at Mr. Hampton's former cottage," Martha explained. "Well, it was ad-lib, but I'd say we handled that well."

"Who is Mr. Hampton?" Hope asked.

"You know... No… I guess you don't. Mr. Hampton is… was, our principal here. Retired about a month ago. His nerves just couldn't take any more incidents in Schooner Bay, but that's another story or two. Confidentially, I always thought he had something of a crush on Mrs. Muir."

Hope frowned. "My story didn't contradict yours, but since I didn't call Edward Claymore's cousin... blast! If we've accidentally started a rumor that Carolyn is his latest conquest, forgive us, please."

"The story is close enough, because WE provided a plausible explanation, and that is the part Mrs. Coburn will remember," Martha nodded firmly. "That, and how he looks! And actually, this is not the first time the Captain has appeared to someone in Schooner Bay. He has, a couple-three times, though twice I suppose it could be called more like haunting that appearing as a person. Mrs. Muir told me about it. He haunted Sean Callahan... That was a blarney Irishman... whoops, sorry Edward... that was here to research HIS roots. Before that, he haunted a psychiatrist that was trying to tell Mrs. Muir that ghosts didn't exist, and he appeared as his own descendant to Mr. Albertson, who was trying to turn Schooner Bay into a tourist attraction."

"Those sound like good ideas for episodes," Hope grinned.

Martha snapped her fingers. "Blast! That's it!"

"What's it?"

"Cleveland Hampton... that's who he reminds me of... Doctor McNally. Those two could be twins. I wonder if that's why the Captain doesn't like HIM much either!" She grinned. "Anyway, Mrs. Coburn isn't the first one to see the Captain, and he wasn't the Captain for her. He was Daniel Edward Gregg. I'll tell the Captain you meant no harm. Who knows? It might even help in some way later on."

Hope thought for a second, then nodded. "Well, we can't worry about it now. I hope it does help, someday, for us, though I can't see HOW."

"Well, you never could have foreseen landing in the real Gull Cottage, now could you?" Martha pointed out. "But actually I was thinking about help HERE as well as help YOU on your TV show. It may help MY Ghost and Mrs. Muir, too."

"So... the PTA has come and gone, Claymore is probably lubricating his tonsils in preparation for his singing tonight. What do we do now?" Edward asked. "We're still here."

"The day isn't over yet," Martha sighed. "We still have Candy and Jonathan to consider."

Hope put a hand to her head. "I know, and I'm dreading it! "I hate the thought of lying to children! How can we tell them that their mother and… and… Captain Gregg aren't even in the universe right now? I don't want to frighten them, but..."

"But..." Martha continued. "I think I can speak for Mrs. Muir and the Captain both that if this flip-flop goes on past when you finish on the TV show for the day..."

"We call it a wrap," Edward said gently.

"That if you wrap, and you all don't switch back, that Carolyn and the Captain would tell YOUR family what is going on. I think we need to do the same here, before too long."

Hope looked troubled. She hated to think how her family would take it. As charming as Gull Cottage was, as much as she liked Martha, and as much fun Edward was having playing ghost, she just wanted to go home and not have to tell anyone anything.

"I suppose it's our only option..." she said, rubbing the back of her neck nervously. "Quite frankly, I have no idea what Alan will say! As for Chris and Patty..." she shuddered. "They're at quite an impressionable age. What is it they say now? It could freak them out."

"What about Candy and Jonathan?" Edward cut in, sitting on the kitchen chair and tentatively lifting a glass of punch to his lips, just to see what would really happen. "You know them better than we do. And here... living with a ghost... they must be a bit more used to unusual things happening. How do you think they will take it? We don't know them well enough to judge that."

Martha considered for a moment, then shook her head. "Whether they take it a little badly, or a lot, I think we're best off telling them. Jonathan handled having the Captain around better than his mother did, at first. Candy found out about him a year later, and was… ticked… that she'd been kept in the dark, but was okay with the truth."

"I... I suppose..." Hope said, clearly not looking forward to the whole idea.

Just then, Candy and Jonathan came bounding into the kitchen, Scruffy at their heels.

"Hey, Mom," Jonathan panted. "We're starved! When's dinner?"

"Yeah," Candy added. "You know, Mom... Martha... we have to have an early dinner tonight because of the... uh... stuff we have to do later." She gave her the woman she thought was her mother a broad wink.

"Shortly, Pa... Candy." Hope said. "I just need a little time to cook something up."

"COOK?" the two children said together.

"I'd just as soon eat Martha's PTA leftovers," Jonathan said bluntly. Then realizing that wasn't very kind, he added, "I mean, just to save you the trouble, and all."

Edward smirked under his beard, debating whether or not to tell the boy that it was actually — whoever they were about to call her — Hope or Mrs. Muir's PTA leftovers.

"Have you finished your homework?" Hope stalled.

"Uh, well, not quite," Candy admitted. "I still have to read something for English."

"And I have to find a current events article, but that's hard when the only paper we have is a week old," Jonathan added.

"Any magazines around here?" Edward asked. "I think something from one of those might count as current."

"Hey! That's a great idea!" Jonathan shouted, looking very much like he wanted to give the 'Captain' a hug. "Thanks, Captain!"

"Well, that's fine, then," Edward said, feeling guilty. "You go take care of that, uh, lad, and we'll help Martha here in the kitchen."

"You are going to do women's work?" Candy asked, her mouth dropping open.

"Special circumstances, and I can when I need to," he answered gruffly, but his face was kind. "After all, there were no women on my ship, but there was work."

"But, Mom, what about...?" Jonathan asked.

"You two need to finish your homework first, Jonathan."

"Okay," he answered, heading for the door. "Grownups sure can be weird sometimes!"

Hope and Edward watched the children leave, then turned to Martha.

"What are they so excited about?"

Glancing to make sure that the kids were out of earshot, Martha, still in a low tone to be safe, replied, "They're anxious to give the Captain his birthday gifts, remember? I was telling you earlier, it is today. We've been working on it for weeks. It's not easy to surprise a ghost, or find gifts for a man who doesn't need anything. So, you see, we DO need to tell them. I'm sure he and Mrs. Muir are not gone for good, I hope. And, we really should delay the birthday party. You're a nice man and I wouldn't mind giving you a party some time, but..."

Edward held up a hand, "Say no more, Martha. I understand perfectly. It's only right that the Captain should get the celebration, especially if he hasn't had an actual one, on the right day, for a hundred years."

"It is your birthday too," Martha said slowly.

"But not back in 1968, where I came from. Only here. It's the Captain your children love, I just play him on television." He smiled kindly. "Moreover, I expect the kids would want to have yet another party when he returns, making more work for you."

"I love this family, and I wouldn't mind the work, if it weren't for this blasted ankle of mine."

"They really are a family, aren't they?" Hope mused. "I can feel it here. I think it's because you and Candy know about the Captain, too."

"I agree," Mulhare said, nodding his head. "Hope and I were saying the network was wrong about them... I mean, you anc Candy not knowing about me... I mean him."

"But we didn't here, either," Martha smiled. "Candy not for a year and me, almost two. We found out when we were ready, the Captain said, and I am sure the networks will decide you... I mean your characters will when they are ready, too. This does cement my argument, though. We need to tell the kids what has happened. It's right."

"And we will," Hope said. "We'll let them eat a nice snacky, celebrationy type dinner, and then tell them."

Edward and Martha nodded in agreement, and then the housekeeper shrugged again. "They might get a kick out of meeting two movie stars, even though you don't exist here."

"Hardly a replacement for not knowing where their parent and... Ghost are, Martha," said Edward.

"It's what's called making the best of a less than ideal situation," Martha maintained.

"I suppose. Well, we better get things cleaned up here and get something out for the kids," Hope agreed.

"Allow me," Edward smiled. With a motion, water was running in the sink, and dishes were flying through the air and into it.

"Show-off," the two women said together.

"But, thank you," Martha added.

XXX

Dinner was uneventful. Edward discovered he could nibble... and drink tea, so he was happy, and the kids were thrilled with 'Captain Gregg' joining them for a real meal.

"This is cool, especially since it's..." Jonathan started, but Candy kicked him under the table.

"Surprise!" she hissed.

After dinner they adjourned into the living room, where they looked at their mother expectantly, almost dancing with eagerness, and Martha gave Hope and Edward a look that said now or never.

Drawing in a deep breath, Edward smiled wanly, "Kids, I think I know what you are planning, and it's very nice, but right now, that is to say..."

Hope shook her head mentally. Seeing their confused looks, she stepped in, "Allow me. Jonathan, Candy, I know that he and I look like the Captain and your mother, but we really are not. We're actors, from Hollywood, well, some Hollywood, in another universe. We play Carolyn Muir and Captain Gregg there… but he's Edward Mulhare, and I'm Hope Lange..."

"You haven't heard of us, I take it," Edward sighed. It was very discouraging to find out that they were not famous.

Candy shook her head. "No, but I know who Robert Brown is. He's cute. He's Jason, on Here Come the Brides with Bobby Sherman. I don't understand, Mom, are you joking with us? You're you and the Captain is the Captain... aren't you?"

The kids' expressions said plainly, have Mom and Captain Gregg gone bonkers?

Martha spoke up, "It's true, kids. Hope, here, made all the food for the PTA, and Edward was NICE to Claymore."

Their eyes bugged out. "To Claymore?" Jonathan gulped.

"In our world, he's Charles Nelson Reilly, and very bright," Edward explained.

"CLAYMORE?" the children said again, together.

"Yes," the actor nodded. "And a good singer. I taught Claymore how to sing this afternoon. YOUR Claymore, I mean. Not Charles. He already knows how to sing."

It was hard to know what was more unbelievable, these two people being actors, Claymore being bright and singing, or their mother cooking. Finally, Candy said, "It's gotta be the truth. There's no way that could be real, otherwise."

"So, where're Mom and the Captain?" Jonathan asked.

"Well, we think... that is we're fairly sure, they are on a sound stage, at Twentieth-Century Fox Television Studios, filming a show about Hope… Carolyn, I mean, chopping down the Captain's monkey-puzzle tree, Jonathan."

"Na... Mom did that a year ago. But she planted another tree, and the Captain came back, and..."

"Yes, we know," Hope smiled. "But you see, for us, filming the show about you, we are in 1968, not 1970."

"You've switched bodies... and time traveled, too?" Candy frowned. "Like on Star Trek?"

"Yes, that's it exactly, Candy," Edward nodded. "Traveled through both time, and 'existences,' if you will, for, my dear one, just as we aren't people, or actors here, you are only pretend where we come from. But..." he paused, holding up a hand. "I, for one, will never think of this place and you all..." He looked around at Martha, Jonathan, Candy and Scruffy, "...As fictional characters, ever again. You've become real to me, you see."

"And to me, also," Hope murmured. "And, we will try to make you real to the people in our world, too."

"Is it fun being a star?" Candy asked, trying to not be freaked. If it weren't for the fact that her family was half-missing, this would be neat, after all.

"Not as much fun as one might expect," Edward confessed, thinking of the hours spent in make-up, and the itchy beard.

"It takes a long time to put just a half-hour show together," Hope added. "Maybe some day, you will get to be in a play or something, and you can see how it works. But look, kids, I'm really sorry this evening has turned out this way. Edward and I are both fairly sure your mom and the Captain will be back tonight, because Edward's wish on an eyelash this morning was only for one day, and..."

Whatever else Hope was going to say was lost when the two actors were suddenly gone in a flash of light.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Fox Studios, California xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

When Daniel found Carolyn, alone, in the small cafeteria they used while eating lunch, she was crying bitterly. Without saying a word, Daniel put his arms around her and as he held her, they subsided, and finally stopped.

"Darling, are you all right?" he whispered, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and blotting her tears.

"I will be if I can just hold on to you for just a little while, Daniel," she sighed, lifting her still damp face to his. "I may never get this chance again."

"Or, I, to do this," he said huskily, his lips almost touching hers. "Finally…" he breathed.

"We shouldn't," she murmured, not pulling away. "Our counterparts. They aren't involved with each other. She's married to someone else…"

"I don't care," he whispered again, but then, as his mouth was about to take possession of hers, they heard a noise... a delicate cough, come from behind them, and they pulled apart quickly.

"Charles," Carolyn stammered, recovering first. "Uh, hello there… Edward and I were…" She broke off, lamely.

"Hello, Claym… uhm, Charles," Daniel broke in. "…Uhm, Hope was upset. That scene, you know? I was, comforting her and…"

"Drop the act, you two," Charles Nelson Reilly snapped, stepping inside the door and shutting in firmly behind him. "You're lookalikes! Who are you, what are you doing here, and what have you done with the real Hope Lange and Edward Mulhare? You're no more Hope and Edward than I am!"

Just one thunderbolt, Daniel begged Heaven. When none came in the second he gave it to, he glared at the man who so resembled his supposed nephew. "See here, you spineless ninny, I most certainly AM who I say I am."

"Well, I'd buy you being Popeye more than I would you being Edward Mulhare," Charles drawled, taking a seat. He was not cowed in the slightest by Daniel's words, ones that would have sent Claymore skittering backward over tables so that he could escape.

"Well, if' he's Popeye, does that make me Olive Oyl?" Carolyn asked lightly. "Really, Charles, of course this is Edward! Who else could it be? Besides," she challenged him. "If it isn't Edward, who is it? He looks the same to me, and…"

"You would say that, since you aren't YOU either," Reilly said, lifting an eyebrow.

"Really, I don't see how you can come in here, making these accusations. I…"

"Oh, really?" Casually, he pulled a cigar from his pocket, clipped the end, and, taking his time, he lit it.

Inwardly, Daniel moaned. That cigar smelled heavenly. Cigarettes, no. A good cigar — and Reilly's were good — any time!

Taking a puff, the actor continued.

"Point one. Hope Lange is not a method actor. She would never get as emotional shooting a scene as she has today. Not the crying, anyway. She does get the giggles occasionally… that part you had right. Two, you guys keep looking around this sound stage like you have never seen it before. You remind me of members of one of the tour groups that come through here once in a while. You don't know where anything is… Hope, you didn't even know where your own trailer was, Edward… though why I am calling you that, I don't know, since it's not your name, you haven't even been in your dressing room since the power outage."

"Yes, I have been, to retouch this blasted beard," Daniel grumbled under his breath.

"Okay, okay, sue me! Yeah. You went there after lunch, but only because Gloria Faye dragged you. Normally you hang out there any time you aren't needed on the set. We have to practically haul you out! Now, where was I? Right. Three, you two have barely said a social word to anyone all day, except each other. Four, you keep stumbling over my name. For the record, one more time, it's Charles, not Claymore. Five ..." He glared at Daniel. "You, whoever you are, are not used to that face rug you wear. Granted, Edward complains about it being uncomfortable, but you're going overboard. Six, you…" He pointed at Carolyn. "…Haven't called Alan all day, not even at lunch. You always call him at lunch. And Hope, you always eat your health food stuff for lunch, not anything that is catered in. Seven... no, eight... you two have absolutely no eyes for anyone but each other. Now I'm asking you again, before I go and find studio security, who are you, and what in blazes is going on?"

Daniel took a deep breath, realizing he couldn't argue with the fellow's logic.

"Charles, can't you go away, and live with the idea that we are just having a very odd day?"

"Nope."

"Would you leave if I said I was going to hang you upside down from the nearest yardarm I can find?"

"We're a little short on yardarms around here. Now look," he sighed, "You seem like good people, and it's almost like I know you and all, but I really am going to have to insist. You just can't come in here and spirit away our actors. It's not nice. Now, did somebody kidnap them and you're taking their place?"

"Uh... no, but you were close when you said "spirit away," though…" Carolyn smiled wanly.

"Ah, ha!" Reilly gestured to another chair. "Why don't you sit down and tell me about it?"

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir gave each other a long look, a combination of resignation and relief. Shrugging, Daniel held a chair out for Carolyn. After she had seated herself, he did the same.

"Well," he began. "Mr. Reilly, I do give you credit. You are NOTHING like Claymore. For that, I think I am grateful. One like him is enough for anywhere."

"They say it takes a smart man to play a not-so-smart man," Carolyn mused. "I think you have proved that point."

"Enough flattery. Out with it," Charles snapped. "Now really... who are you two?"

Inclining his head, the Captain said, "Allow me to introduce Mrs. Carolyn Muir, and I am Captain Daniel Gregg."

"Huh. Don't get cute. I want to know what's happening here."

"I am never CUTE," Daniel gritted out. "And I have been Daniel Gregg for one hundred and forty-four… correction, make that forty five years, exactly. I do not know how Mrs. Muir and I landed here, in the past, in some place where we are fictional beings, but I assure you, that is who we are."

"Well, your excuse is unique, I give you that," Charles said, eyeing them carefully. Gently, he touched the seaman's wool jacket. "You don't feel like a ghost. I mean, you're solid and that beard of yours isn't real, and you're wearing make-up. That doesn't sound like any ghost I have ever heard tell of."

Lifting one brow, Daniel smoothly said, "Sir, I have never been like anyone, man or ghost, at any point in my existence. Though I will grant that until a few hours ago, I was rather... ethereal in my state of being. But, I did have my own beard, and may I say it is a far sight better than the one I have been wearing here all day."

"I keep telling make-up he should go darker," Reilly mused. "Is yours? I mean your real one? I mean, if you are you? I mean, well, you know what I mean."

"Yes, and not nearly as much gray."

"Well, if you are a hundred and forty-five years old, there's bound to be a little!" the actor grinned, and turned to Carolyn. "You… looked upset when you ran in here and he…" His eyes shifted back to Daniel. "If you are Carolyn Muir, somehow magically switched here, would you care to tell me why? It might give your story some credence."

"WE'VE been trying to figure out WHY since we got here," Carolyn said. "One moment, we were in Gull Cottage, watching television I think; it's been so long ago now, I'm not sure of much, the next, we were here in the dark, literally and figuratively. And now people are trying to get us to smoke and my kids treat me like an acquaintance, Martha's married, and Claymore's not an idiot. The only good part is the Captain is tangible, but since I'm apparently married to someone I have never met, then..." She trailed off, fearing she'd said too much.

"Actually, I meant why were you crying, but I think I can accept the fact that your world, as you know it, has been turned upside down." Charles tapped his chin. "Well, just now you did sound more like 'Carolyn' and less like Hope. Tell me, earlier I heard you talking to… Okay, I'll call him Daniel, not that I believe you yet, and you were talking about, events, I guess you could say, that have never happened on any of the episodes we've filmed, but it was like you were talking about the real life of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Things like convicts and Adams and Franklin and something about someone named Aggie you sent after ME. What was that all about? If you are from… a different universe, I guess I'll say… I love sci-fi... you can tell me." He paused. "And thanks for not thinking I'm the idiot I portray. I'm already worried about getting typecast."

"You... want to know what we know about you?" Carolyn asked uncertainly. "Like things our Claymore has done that your character may do in — your life? Your future TV episodes?"

"Might be one way to convince me," Charles smiled. "Or any other stories about the future I may find fascinating. What year is it where... you live?"

"Nineteen-seventy," Carolyn said promptly. "April 1970. As for events in our lives, I... I don't know. It does seem like we go from one thing to another, some I don't want to tell you about, because they MIGHT turn into a TV episode, like the one being filmed now about me chopping down Daniel's tree, but concerning you, well..."

"I did try to get you to get married once," Daniel interjected. "And you almost proposed after your one date, but I arranged for Aggie's former fiancé to call, and make up with her instead."

"So that's Aggie," said Charles. "What else?"

"And there was the time you thought you were going to die because the kids found a cursed clock in the attic wall," Carolyn said. "The kids wound it up with their skate key."

"And I do have fond memories of the time Seaman Elroy Applegate scared the bejezus out of you, I mean Claymore, taking his head off," Daniel chuckled.

"Sounds funny," Charles commented. "I keep telling the network if Gregg is a hundred-year-old ghost, chances are he could have lots of spirit friends visit Gull Cottage. If the show lasts long enough, some could become semi-regulars."

"There was the time we tried to give Claymore more confidence with women, and he decided I was in love with him instead," Carolyn laughed.

"Don't forget me giving him a nightmare about a deal he made with the devil," said Daniel. "I enjoyed that."

"I think my favorite Claymore story... sort of... is when Daniel used Claymore's body to dance with me before we left for the Centennial Ball," Carolyn said reminiscently. "It's the closest we have been able to come to touching until today, and now we can't because I am supposed to be married to someone I have never met," Carolyn added, suddenly almost in tears again. "But Mr. Reilly, we ARE in some kind of parallel world! You just have to believe us! I've never heard of such a thing, not until now, outside of a science fiction program. But maybe that's not any more — incredible — than living with a ghost. I don't know how we got here, much less why. All I know is I want to get home to my own kids, and Martha, Scruffy, Gull Cottage, and Claymore. I'm a mother and a writer, not an actress."

"This has been an interesting, in the Chinese curse sense, birthday, I will say," Daniel almost chuckled.

"Okay," Charles sighed. "I don't know why, but I believe you. Nobody could invent so many scenarios off the cuff so fast. Besides, I can't think of any reason anyone would want to play at being actors for a day, unless it was to attend a premier, or something. Now, the question is..." he paused for a moment. "Wait a minute! Did you say today was your birthday?"

The Captain nodded. "Yes, though your counterpart did make a hash of celebrating it the first time. The children got it in their heads, back in November, or ahead in November, to throw me a surprise birthday party and asked you, I mean Claymore, the date."

"You didn't remember, Daniel." Carolyn smiled.

"I did. I just didn't want a fuss made. As I was saying, he... Claymore, got it wrong, and told them the day I died, not the day I was born. So, I had a death-day party about five months ago."

"Whoops." Charles smiled. "Actually, sounds like it could be a good episode, with a little fleshing out — a bit more conflict, you know. But… I'm wondering… maybe the fact that today is your birthday today, even if you are… uhm, dead, has something to do with this... what did they call it on Star Trek? A multi-parallel-time-space-inversion, but…"

"But what?" Carolyn looked dumbfounded.

Charles drummed his fingers on the table and thought for a moment, then turned back to the ghost. "There has to be a common denominator. What date was it exactly when you woke up this morning?"

"I didn't wake up. Ghosts don't sleep. But it was… is, April 8th, 1970," Daniel said. "And my birthday."

"April…" Charles drummed the table again. "Drat it, there's something familiar about that date… what is it?" Quickly, he reached into his jacket pocket, pulling out a small black book. "My 'everything reminder'," he said, at their questioning looks. "I just know there is something about that date…" He was now thumbing through the pages at a furious rate. Finally he stopped. "AH! THAT'S IT!" Triumphantly, he slammed the book down, an open page before them.

"That's what?" Daniel and Carolyn asked together.

"Our common denominator," he replied. "April 8th is Edward Mulhare's birthday, too." He paused. "Tell me again. Try to remember. What were you doing right before you showed up on the sound stage?"

"We were… talking," Carolyn said slowly. "I asked Daniel what he wanted for his birthday, and…"

"And I said I didn't need anything," Daniel said fondly. "We happened to catch Tim Seagirt, a young troubadour of our acquaintance, singing on television — A song I wrote the words for as a gift to Carolyn a year ago. I said it would be my greatest wish for a day to be able to do what I wrote in the song. Touch her hand, link arms with her…" he stopped, Even if this man was not his supposed great-nephew that did not mean he had to tell him everything. "Anyway, I wished it could happen. Somehow the subject of actors came up, then suddenly the lights flashed, and we were here. Actors, playing ourselves, two years in the past."

"That must be it," said Charles. "It's your birthday, you wished. You're a ghost. I can dig it. Someone up there was listening."

"But lots of people make wishes… on stars and things," Carolyn protested. "I know I have. They don't all come true!"

"Maybe Edward wished, too. He was complaining about his beard earlier. Maybe he complained once too often, or maybe he wished he could be a ghost and Hope could be the writer."

"I was telling Daniel I wanted to be an actress once."

"It's Edward's birthday too. I mean today, isn't, not the actual day, but close enough. It IS his birthday. In all the sci-fi novels I've read, seems like time-travel always has a parallel. Maybe that's why your wish came true. You wished to be an actor, he wished to be a ghost. You and Hope got caught up in the vortex. Once more, I think if you wished to be solid for a day, actor or not, that's what you'll get. One day, and one day only. April 8th. Your birthday."

"But, isn't it September here?" Carolyn asked. "And will this happen if Daniel makes a wish on his birthday again? Or if Edward does, when it's April eighth here?"

The two men frowned, thinking over her question. Finally, Charles waved a hand. "We can't worry about that now. The important thing is — let's get everyone back where they should be. I'll tell Edward to avoid those two words on April eighth henceforth. Or at least as long as the series runs. Did you guys exist before now? Or did we invent you?"

"And I shall do likewise," Daniel nodded. "But what do you mean, did we exist? Of COURSE we existed. Now you do sound like that eel-brained idiot."

"Watch it. You may really be the Captain, but I am NOT Claymore Gregg."

"Duly noted."

"Uhm… may I ask you two people one or two other questions, since you have actually got me to not only believe you, but offer a possible explanation of how and why you got here?"

"You can ask. I won't guarantee an answer," Daniel said, glancing at Carolyn, who also nodded.

"So, in your world are you two really… y'know… Involved? We kinda hint at that here, but is it for real?"

Carolyn flushed; though Daniel did not, he DID look rather abashed. "We… took a while to admit it, and have not done so, except to each other, really," he finally said, gruffly. "But to the extent that it is possible in my normal state, yes."

"Sooo, here, today, this is the first time you have been able to actually… uhm... touch?"

"Unless you count the dream," Carolyn softly agreed. "Dreams, actually."

"Dreams… plural?" Daniel gave his love a curious look. "As much as I would love to have existed in two dreams with you, I have given you only the one… at Christmas."

"I know that," she said softly. "I had the other one all by myself. About six months after we moved to Gull Cottage."

"My love, one of these days you really must tell me about this. You have given me a couple of clues, but…"

"Now is not the time," she blushed, and turned back toward Charles. "So, what are we going to do? Daniel is here, solid and single, I think, but Hope is a married woman. I can't start anything up for her. I haven't... we haven't even had a chance to... kiss, we still have this blasted TV show to finish, and neither of us knows what to do after that! I can't go home to a husband and children I don't know, let alone cook for a bunch of TV people!"

"And I can't follow her home to her… I mean Hope Lange's home, like a lost puppy," Daniel added. "And I am not going out with anyone tonight, except Carolyn. I don't care if Mr. Mulhare does have a date."

Charles nodded, understanding their predicament.

"Well, there's only one more scene to shoot." Charles said, looking at his watch. "Given the hour, I don't think Lee is going to get around to redoing the one I have with you after all, Hope… Carolyn. Too many delays today, you two, included. But if you can get through this last scene, you're home free."

"No, we aren't," Carolyn protested. "I told you! I don't know where Hope lives, and I don't want to go home there, anyway. I want to go home to Gull Cottage, with Daniel. And I CANNOT cook!"

"Look, I can't zap you home," Charles held up a hand. "But I will try to work out something on the... other. Somehow, I will arrange it for you to get some time alone together. You were right what you said before, Carolyn. Hope and Edward are definitely NOT in love, so you can't do much with other people around."

"WE want to be... together, and are, in matters of the soul," Daniel said quietly. "But not being able to touch does put a crimp in things."

"I WILL work out something before you… uh… leave. I promise," Charles vowed.

"How?" Daniel asked, still scratching his head at the intelligence of this man who was not Claymore. "For that matter, why?"

"One, this whole thing is cool," Charles smiled. "Two, I am a romantic at heart. I gotta." Adjusting his glasses, the actor gave them a heartfelt gaze. "Look, I know it must be hard for you to trust a guy who looks like your slithering squid of a supposed great-nephew, Claymore, but just… do it. I'm not him, and I want to help you."

"We have to, Daniel," Carolyn insisted quietly. "Charles knows the truth, and well, if we stay much longer, everyone will have to know. I'm not going to pretend to be another man's wife or some other kids' mother. Besides, I think we can trust him."

Daniel looked at his lady and took her hand in his.

"You are sure?"

"Absolutely."

"Then I will try to be also." He turned back to the actor. "What is the final scene, again?"

"You coming home. Not to your home, as in the real Gull Cottage, and back in your own… universe… just Carolyn drives back home to Gull Cottage, gets the tree out of the car, and the Captain comes back. I thought you had read it… or lived it… or something. That is what happened in YOUR universe, isn't it?"

"Yes," they both nodded and smiled.

"But," Carolyn pointed out, "Art isn't imitating life exactly. Scenes seem to be happening out of order."

"Just the way the biz works," Charles shrugged, puffing on his cigar. "Think you can get through the dialogue?"

"Blindfolded," Daniel said, decidedly.

"Ditto," Carolyn said, her eyes shining.

"Then I suggest we get back," Charles said, stubbing out his cigar and standing. "Lee should be looking for us before long, and Hope… Carolyn… blast it, If I am not mistaken, you have another wardrobe change."

XXX

"Good grief, a miracle's happened. I didn't have to send out a search party for you two!" Lee exclaimed.

Carolyn had already changed, and Daniel submitted to a brief touch up on his beard. Blast. If we are stuck in this universe very long, I will grow Mr. Mulhare a real one, Daniel vowed.

This final scene went well. Perhaps unburdening their souls to Charles had helped. They were able to shoot it in one take, without stumbling at all.

"It's a wrap. Cut and print!" Lee yelled. "Okay. I'll see everyone at Hope's in a little while. Good job!"

Carolyn's momentary relief at being done shooting was killed at his words. She had been praying that they would poof back home when Lee said they were done.

From the sidelines, Charles ambled over. "Say, Hope, Edward," he drawled. "Why don't you two join me for a drink in my trailer? Just to... decompress before the shindig, eh?" He winked, indicating he had something up his sleeve.

"Why… sure, Charles," they answered. "I suppose we have time…"

"What about…" Carolyn thought for a moment. "Don't we have to go get our make-up taken off, or something?"

"Pooh. You remove your own, Hope," he said, in case anyone happened to be listening. "Edward, Gloria Faye does yours, but she had an emergency phone call, and she said something about having to go get more spirit gum remover from the supply room. Hers has mysteriously disappeared," he added, with another wink. "So she could be a few minutes. In any case, if we are going to have time, you need to hurry."

"Thank you," Daniel said simply.

XXX

When they got to the small trailer bearing Reilly's name, they wasted no time getting inside and shutting the door.

"Okay, my place is all yours," Charles said, reaching for the door again. "I can make myself scarce... for a little bit anyway. Enjoy, or whatever. If I see you again, that'd be great, but if I don't, I understand. Best of luck to both of you, and it's been… well... interesting, to say the least." So saying, he shook Daniel's hand, and then kissed Carolyn's. "Au revoir."

In a moment, he was gone.

"If we get home," Daniel said thoughtfully, "I mean, when we get home, it may be somewhat — difficult to think of Claymore in quite the same light, after meeting Charles." Briskly, he went on. "Of course, the moment he opens his mouth, I'm sure that will clear up. Now, my dear, thrice today, you have nearly spoken of your late husband. You've never brought him up before on your own, only in response to comments made by someone from your past. What is it you want to say?"

"Yes. I guess we should exorcize all the shadows," Carolyn nodded. "You have met... well, not met, but been around Ralph Muir. Bobby... was a lot like him. Very controlling. By the time of his accident, the love was gone between us, but we had stayed together for the children, and because he thought divorce wouldn't look "right." I didn't get to decorate our home, or choose anything for myself. After he died, this sounds horrible, but I thought I'd be free... yet, everyone came at me with "do this," "do that." "Don't do that." "Let us do this for you." I had to get away from all the well-meaning… barnacles, or I'd suffocate. I guess I had repressed a lot, to survive. And, so, later, I took it out on you. I was not going to let anyone, another man, tell me what to do. Not again."

"I see," he nodded. "So, unknowingly, I came at you with, well, a lot of things shortly after your arrival. My house… I'm Captain here… my barometer… my old love… I don't want overnight guests... you can't act in the show… your corny Uncle Arnold. Ye gods and little fishes, Carolyn! It's amazing you didn't walk out that first night and NEVER come back! I suppose I did make you to come back that first night, if you want to consider it that, and I did tell you what to do any number of times right after you came to Gull Cottage!"

"Maybe you did, just a bit, but at the same time I realized as we were driving away that first night that you yelling about "your ship" was making me do something I didn't want to do, namely leave, and I didn't like that either." She sighed. "Anyway, today, in spite of how strange it's all been, has brought all that back to me… then you telling me how you felt… your feelings… I am so sorry! I really never considered them at the time, though I have I don't know how often since. I still feel so badly, not just about the tree, but getting rid of your other things, instead of working with you on what could have been done with them. You know when we were looking at the sets for Gull Cottage? How strange they looked? Not just because they weren't whole rooms, but just how unreal they were? That's what OUR Gull Cottage felt like when you were gone. I felt it, Jonathan felt it, and you're right. Candy and Martha felt it, too. And I've been thinking today about other things I have said in the last two years… accusing you of having no human feelings, when obviously you do… you're the most HUMAN person I know…" She stopped, trying to swallow the lump in her throat.

Reaching out, Daniel pulled her close to him, as he had in the cafeteria.

"We've both done thoughtless things, Carolyn, myself included. All we can do is learn from them and try to do better." He smiled down at her, stroking her cheek with his thumb. "Everything is forgotten, I swear. What happened with you and Robert?"

"I hated the trap I was in," she said, sniffing. "But I didn't want the children to suffer for my mistake, so I didn't say anything to anyone, just soldiered on. If Mom or Dad, or any of my friends in Philly suspected, or had figured anything out, they didn't say anything either. Then Robert died…"

"You have never told me how, do you realize that?" he said softly, holding her close, his chin resting on her head. "Not that you have to now, of course."

"Freak accident," she mumbled. "One weekend in March he went fishing with a bunch of his buddies at Lake Tahoe... Nobody knows how, but the boat they were in overturned. His two friends kept their heads, but Robert… he never was a very good swimmer. His friends managed to get the boat righted, but the shock of the cold water caused him to have a heart attack, and he drowned. That's what the coroner said, anyway."

"How terrible for you…"

"All the 'stuff' surrounding his death was terrible, but, Daniel, I wasn't in love with him, anymore. I did feel almost guilty that he had died, and of course Candy and Jonathan had lost their father! It took me a while to get it all together, but when I did, I knew I needed to make a total break. Away from Ralph and Marjorie, and my own parents, who were loving, but bossy, too, in their own sweet way. I found Claymore's real-estate ad, made the arrangements, and then asked Martha, who had been my day housekeeper before, if she would make the move with us. Thank God she said yes, though I will never know entirely why! Anyway, that's what we did. We moved, using every cent I had in savings, and a bit more that my parents gave me when they realized I was not going to change my mind. But Daniel, meeting you and living at Gull Cottage is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I would rather spend the rest of my life loving you, without being able to touch you, or hold you, or kiss you, than not have you at all. Daniel, you'll never leave again, will you? I don't think I could bear it if you did! Reliving the time without you today has brought it back so strongly, I…" Suddenly she was very close to tears again.

"No... Never, my love," he said tenderly. "I don't want to spend any part of my eternity, wherever that is, without you. It's not so easy to get rid of a ghost, you know, and Carolyn, some how, some way, we will always be together, I swear." Slowly his head lowered to her face that was now turned up, and gazing into his. "Our day is almost over, my darling," he whispered, drawing her still closer.

"I know…" she answered, just as softly. "Daniel, I…"

"…I still haven't kissed you," he said, only half-acknowledging that she had spoken at all. "…That is one big part of my birthday wish I do want to make sure comes true! Oh, Carolyn…" he murmured, nuzzling her neck, the back of her ear, his mouth traveling to the pulse point of her throat. "We have so little time… One kiss, to see us through eternity…"

He leaned over her, kissing her hesitantly, but Carolyn pulled him closer, and their kiss grew, in a blaze of passion, power and excitement that made them both weak. Then, suddenly, they were enveloped by a blue-white light.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Fox Studios, California xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The light faded, and Hope realized Edward was kissing her. For a split second, she prayed that they were not somewhere they could be seen, then they pulled apart quickly.

"Ah… forgive me, Hope... er... do you think we're home then?" he asked, looking around the small area.

"Well, you weren't kissing me when this started," Hope answered. "This looks like..." She turned to survey their surroundings, also.

The door swung open. "Okay, if I stay gone much longer, rumors that no one wants will get started," Charles Nelson Reilly announced. "I'll need my dressing room here in…" He peered at them, carefully. "Oh! I'm not the only one who is back! You are, too! It's a good thing I brought wine. I think we have some interesting stories to share." The actor shrugged. "I bet I could turn them into a fair sci-fi novel. Make a mint. Claymore would like that."

"How did you guess so quickly?" Edward asked, scratching his now-faux beard. But, he felt better, like maybe his cold was now cured.

"Easy. You two aren't in love. Carolyn and her Captain ARE. Edward, Gloria Faye is looking for you. It's time to get that beard off."

Edward touched his chin, which he now realized was sensitive and itching again. "Thanks, Clay... I mean, Charles. Tell her I'll be there in just a minute."

"Okay, but don't hog my trailer too much longer. I want to get changed. I can only stall for so long, you know." He saluted. "Good to have my fellow thespians home." A moment later, the two were alone again.

"You know, Hopie," Mulhare said thoughtfully, "Being Daniel Gregg for real, as it were, has convinced me of a few things."

"Such as?"

"Well for one thing, right after I get Gidget filmed, I am going to grow my own beard. Spirit gum is for the birds."

"Good idea," Hope nodded. "What else?"

"I'm glad today happened, even if it was strange."

"I'm glad, too," the actress agreed.

"You enjoyed the tour of the real cottage, and cooking all day in that old fashioned kitchen?"

"Yes, I did."

"Well, you got the brunt of the work, but I must admit, I enjoyed myself, too. I think I understand Daniel Gregg better. I even think I understand Claymore better!"

"I know I feel for Carolyn in a different way than before." Her eyes grew misty. "Carolyn and her Captain are in love. It's not propinquity. And, he's in love with her family, and vice-versa."

Edward nodded. "I'd like to try to show that this season, more than we've managed to, even though they cannot touch. And do a good job of it. Besides, being cancelled holds no appeal."

"And I did promise Candy and Jonathan we'd do right by them in our portrayals," Hope agreed with a sad smile. "I do hope it works out for the Ghost and Mrs. Muir in their reality. Maybe they could get some kind of miracle."

"Do you think that's possible, Hopie? I didn't think so at first... the idea that they could learn to touch. Even that she loves him that much. Now that I am sure she does... maybe it could happen, after all."

"I certainly wish it for them."

"I do, too. Well, if it takes a miracle, I think they have come fairly close to it today."

"Meaning?" Hope's eyebrows went up.

"Well, we... I mean they, were kissing when we were zapped back. Maybe us being there helped their predicament in some way."

"I'd like to think so," Hope sighed. "I hope so, for both their sakes, and the rest of that family. Candy, Jonathan, Martha…" Her voice broke off. "Edward, I'm glad we could give them at least a moment together. If nothing else, they can have that… and their dreams."

"I still think maybe… just maybe, they can touch now," Edward sighed as only an Irishman could.

"I want to think that, too," Hope smiled sadly. "But some things only happen on television."

"Aye."

"Coming to the party, Edward?" she asked, finally.

"You might as well," Reilly said, his head poking through the trailer door once more. "It's still raining out there. I'd say your sail has been cancelled. Now listen, you two, the rest of us are ready to close down here. All we are waiting for, is... are you all right?" He grimaced. "You know it's too bad I didn't get to go, too. You look like you had an interesting time there. I know things were sure different here!"

"Well, Charles," the actor grinned. "You could have handled being Claymore, but I don't think Claymore could have handled being YOU."

"Thanks, I think. Now come on." He turned to Hope. "I don't know how you are after your day, but I can't wait to see what food you have dreamed up for tonight's shindig. I love your spur of the moment cooking, dear heart." Kissing his fingers, he closed the door once more.

"Oh… blast!" the actress moaned. "I've been cooking all day! Now, tonight? How do you think everyone would feel about ordering pizza?"

Edward chuckled, shaking his head, opening the trailer door.

"My dear, Hopie, your husband is NEVER going to understand that!"

"Maybe not. Goodnight... Captain Gregg," the actress said, stepping back out into the sound stage, he following her. She smiled and was gone.

"Good-night… Mrs. Muir," he said softly, as the door closed behind them.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Gull Cottage xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

When the light cleared, their surroundings were very familiar and dear, and Candy, Jonathan, and Martha were looking at Daniel and Carolyn in wonder.

"Mrs. Muir, Captain, are you — yourselves again?" the housekeeper asked. "Did Hope and Edward go back home?"

Taking a moment to reorient themselves, the ghost and his lady breathed in sighs of relief. "Yes, yes we are," the Captain beamed.

"You knew that we...?" Carolyn began, breaking off as her children ran over to hug her and Scruffy bounded up to sniff her ankles, reassuring himself that this was the real Mrs. Muir.

"Well, when a guy that looks like the Captain comes along being NICE to Claymore and a lady who looks like you goes and cooks better than I could ever hope to, no pun intended, I start adding two and two and coming up with someone other than the Captain and Mrs. Muir," Martha explained. "I'd come hug you, too, but my ankle got banged up. Your other self is a fair doctor, Captain."

"Martha! Are you all right?" Carolyn gasped as Daniel frowned.

"I thought he was an actor," the ghost noted, pulling on his ear. Then, a thought struck him. "Madam..."

The same idea occurred to her at the same time. "Kids, why don't you give the Captain a hug, too?"

"But, Mom, we have wanted to, and couldn't because..." Candy frowned.

"Just... trust me," Carolyn urged.

Though puzzled, the two kids threw their arms around the Captain, as they had wished to so many times before. In amazement, they drew back a second later, as their arms made contact with a very solid man.

"Captain, you're really here!" Jonathan said, while his sister gave their hero a second hug.

"I suppose something carried over from the other world?" the seaman reasoned, returning the hugs. "I don't know if it will last or fade with time. I wonder if the other fellow can pop still?"

"Given how he liked to spook people, I hope not," Martha remarked. "He'll drive his fellow actors nuts, sneaking up on them!"

"Well, it MIGHT be interesting to see, from a distance, like that television box," Daniel mused. "Yes, it would be fascinating to see that. I'd love to watch him scare that harpy with the make-up, or that impudent director. However, I can be content fantasizing. I do NOT want to go back there." He glanced at the ceiling, as if to make sure he'd been heard.

Carolyn laughed. "I'd say not," she said. "But the actor... Mr. Mulhare, didn't have any powers to begin with, after all."

"Well, they seemed nice and everything, but I care more about what happens next here," said Candy, decidedly. "Now that we can touch you, and you can touch us, and kiss Mom, that means you and Mom can get married and you can be our Dad for real. Can we start calling you Dad now, Captain? I mean Dad?"

The pain in the seaman's eyes was evident. "I'm afraid not, Candy."

"Captain! Why not?" Jonathan moaned.

"I'm with the kids," Martha said, half-rising from her place on the sofa. "Why ever not? You love Mrs. Muir, right?"

"Of course I do, but I can't just stay here, and act as a human, and be supported by her, when we don't know if this new state of mine is even permanent, besides, I'm still not real. I have no legal identity. I can't make an honest living... whatever that may be."

They all stared at each other, realizing that the seaman spoke the truth, and a slight cloud came over the room.

"You're a writer now, like Mom," Candy mumbled. "But we understand."

"At least we can hug you, Captain," Jonathan added, and Candy nodded also.

"Aye," he said softly, looking first at the children he loved and then at their beautiful mother.

"Well, we don't have any presents as spectacular as instant stardom," Martha said finally, trying to lighten the suddenly less merry mood. "But these two have been jumping out of their skins to give you..." She turned to gesture toward a small pile of packages arranged nearby. "Odd, I don't remember wrapping that one." Her gaze was focused on a thin, yet eye-catching box, and she reached to pick it up.

"Did you tell Miss Lange or Mr. Mulhare what today was? Maybe one of them?" Carolyn suggested.

"Yes, they knew, but I don't see how... hurry up and open it, Captain. I like to have mysteries solved," Martha urged.

"Since I have learned when to take direction now…" Daniel smirked, taking the box from Martha's outstretched hand. Carefully, he ripped off the deep blue and silver wrapping to reveal a box of papers. Slowly, he withdrew a birth certificate, driver's license, social security card, the deed to Gull Cottage, and several other papers necessary to being a real person in the century. Under it all was a wallet and a birthday card. He opened the latter to read:

"Happy BIRTH-day, Daniel Gregg. Enjoy your second life.

Love,

The Powers That Be."

He handed Carolyn the card, then picked up the papers again, noting that they were made out to Daniel E. A. Gregg.

"Daniel!" Carolyn gasped. "A birth certificate… driver's license… you really are…" she gulped. "Solid and legal?"

"I… I don't know…" the seaman said, dazed. "I suppose I should check… experiment, but I was afraid to let go of you…"

A moment later, he was gone, and a general cry rose up in the room.

"Daniel! Captain! Dad!" This last was from the children. "Come back!"

A split-second later he was, and once more solid under their grasp.

"That solves that," he smiled. "It appears I still have ghost powers, too."

"They might come in handy when avoiding the PTA ladies boarding your ship," Martha chuckled. "I'm glad, Captain. I've gotten rather used to a ghost around the house. It seems a shame to lose that novelty all together. Besides, we can't make a liar out of the television show, even if it is in another universe. There has to be a Ghost and Mrs. Muir."

"Mrs. Gregg," Candy corrected the housekeeper, excitedly. "Now that you have those papers, you and Mom can get married, Captain!"

"Right," Martha nodded. "I must say, if you two plan on getting married, and the sooner or better, in my opinion, your 'legal-ness' comes at an extremely opportune time."

"How so, Martha?" the seaman asked, raising his eyebrows.

"Oh — well with all the excitement, I forgot to tell you, but, well, you aren't entirely a secret in Schooner Bay now, anyway, Captain."

Carolyn rolled her eyes. "Martha, what happened?"

"Well, Betty Coburn saw Edward in the kitchen, helping me wash dishes, when he was still you, and…"

"She saw me?" Daniel fumed.

"No, she saw HIM," Martha shrugged. "But he looks like you, and well, Edward wasn't quite as good at the 'Nobody can see or hear me unless I wish it,' and…"

"It figures an actor would mess things up," he grumbled.

"Now I wouldn't say that, Captain. He was only helping me, and Miss Lange did do a dynamite job making all the goodies for the PTA."

"Oh, fine," Carolyn cut in. "Now I have to live up to someone who is not only a famous actress, but a great cook?"

"No. You are you and she is herself... in her universe. She can't write, and she's not you, so don't worry. Besides, I'm the one in trouble. The PTA thinks I dished up that spread, and I didn't get her recipe for salmon mousse."

"Martha, I will help you the next time the hens come, if you will PLEASE tell me what that Mulhare chap said!" Daniel fumed.

Martha glanced at the kids. "You two are witnesses! The Captain just said there WOULD be a next time, and he would help me when it happened!" Turning back to him, she smirked. "I will hold you to that, though to be honest, I wouldn't be sorry if those biddies never had another meeting here... unless I get insomnia."

"Martha," Carolyn prompted.

"Right. Well, naturally, she asked who he was," Martha explained. "So, it was a rush job, you understand. Edward said that he was Claymore's cousin, from England, Daniel Edward Gregg, here to look up his roots. He also said he was staying at Mr. Hampton's old place."

Just a hint of thunder rumbled. "Blast, then I suppose I am stuck pretending to be that quaking squid's relative," Captain Gregg sighed. "I suppose it is a small sacrifice, in light of what I will gain." One arm slipped around Carolyn's waist and he smiled at her.

"If it helps, I do have to put up with being related to Harriet, Hazel, Uncle Arnold... do I really need to go on?" she asked, returning his gaze. "Every family has a crazy cousin in the west wing, or two or three. And, you did say that Charles being so intelligent and nice made it harder to think of Claymore as... well... as himself."

Daniel laughed. "You make an excellent argument, my dear. I do wonder though, how did that fellow, Mulhare know?"

"Know what?" Jonathan asked.

"What fellow, Captain... Dad?" Candy added.

"That actor," Daniel mused. "How did he know that my middle name is Edward?" he asked. "Daniel Edward Alexander Gregg."

"It's not an unusual name," Martha said. "Captain, it has been bugging me ever since I found out that we had a couple of TV stars running around here. WHY did you and Mrs. Muir switch places with them? Did you know about them and want to... do whatever you did? Hope mentioned something about Edward wishing on an eyelash, and he had the same birthday as you, but it seems like there just ought to be more to it."

The Captain shook his head. "Perhaps Carolyn and I simply needed to get a few things worked out in a setting that was more... neutral? I think we can appreciate one another in a new light." He rubbed his jaw thoughtfully, thankful that his beard was truly part of his face again. "I do not think your mother or I will wish to act ever again, though!"

"Did Mr. Mulhare and Miss Lange need to work out a few things, too?" Candy asked.

"I don't know if they got in any deep conversation," Martha said. "And they seem to be just friends. Maybe they came to help Claymore learn to sing."

"Or to get away from that nightmare of a make-up lady and that bellowing director," the ghost smirked.

"I'm just glad to be home," Carolyn smiled, drinking in the sight of her loved ones. "I'd have hated to miss this party, too."

The Captain nodded, and moved so that he was facing Carolyn. "I do not have a ring, but, if you... ALL of you... will accept me, Carolyn Muir, will you marry me?"

He almost could not hear her happy affirmative over the cheers going on around him, but the kiss she gave him left no doubts.

Yet, Martha found a moment in the joy to feel sorry for poor Claymore. He didn't know it yet, but he had just lost the monthly rental income from Gull Cottage, and would go from being a "dear boy" back to a "simpering seaweed," once again.

END