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Title: Tommy Toddles Author: Albert Lee * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1600941h.html Language: English Date first posted: September 2016 Most recent update: September 2016 This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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With Illustrations By Peter S. Newell
Note: This online book was made possible by assistance from:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, USA.
Out Of The Ark
Chapter I. Departure Of The Animals
Chapter II. Tommy Makes A New Acquaintance
Chapter III. No Information From The Loon
Chapter IV. Concerning The Reformed Burglar
Chapter V. An Interrupted Lecture
Chapter VI. The Welsh-Rabbit’s Visit
Chapter VII. The Guinea-Pig School
Chapter VIII. Luncheon On The Hill-Top
Chapter IX. The Erratic Thimgumbob
Chapter X. Unpleasant For The Clams
Chapter XI. The Penguin’s House
Chapter XII. Story Of The Eight
IN THE ARK
Chapter XIII. Through The Halls Of Time
Chapter XIV. A Pair Of Unfohtunate Turtles
Chapter XV. Tommy And The Ex-Pirate Get Into The Ark
Chapter XVI. The Animals Come Aboard
Chapter XVII. A Far-Reaching Accident
Chapter XVIII. The Banquet Begins
Chapter XIX. Tommy Exchanges Ideas With The Gopher
Chapter XX. A Portion Of The Ex-Pirate’s Autobiography
Chapter XXI. A Game Of Bumpolump
Chapter XXII. The Lion’s Displeasure
1. “May all the Cuckoos that ever live be compelled to tell the time.”
2. “Well, that is the most wonderfulest thing I ever saw!”
3. The sheep returned, walking on his hind-legs.
4. “He is crazy,” said Tommy.
5. “This must be the ex-Pirate,” thought Tommy.
6. “I looked about, and far away I saw a little speck.”
7. The Welsh-Rabbit laughed until the cheese of his back fairly bubbled.
8. The spotted Guinea-Pig sat out in front and beat time wiith his fore-paws.
9. The Dumb-Waiter brought the cake up the hill on roller-skates.
10. “What is that awful person doing?” asked Tommy.
11. “Horse-Radish always goes with Clams, you know,” said the ex-Pirate.
12. Editorial-Room of THE TIDAL WAVE.
13. The Gargoyle tells the story of the fight.
14. Father Time was vigorously working his wings.
15. “Why, that Ark is just like mine!” exclaimed Tommy.
16. “What are you doing up here? Why aren’t you outside?”
17. He thrust his long snout in suddenly.
18. “Let’s organize, what’s life without organization?”
19. They won’t let him play because he’s a cheetah.”
20. The Lion called the assembled multitude to order.
21. The animals roared with laughter at the Gopher’s joke.
22. “She looks to me as though she might—might be a privateer.”
23. The Gunner’s Mate averred it was high time to start the game.
24. But all the sailors . . . leaned upon the starboard rail.
25. “My life is one long pursuit of the unattainable.”
26. The ex-Pirate jumped upon the table and fired.
A little boy climbed on my knee:
“Oh, tell me a story,” pleaded he—
“A tale of animals and boys,
With guns and fights and lots of noise;
Have a pirate and a bear,
And lay the scene ‘most anywhere.”
And so it was this little tale
Of Tommy Toddles on the trail
Of toys that wandered from the fold
Ever happened to be told.
Out of the Ark
It was early in the afternoon of a bright autumn day that Tommy Toddles sat by the window in the big playroom at the top of the house, looking wistfully out over the swaying trees toward the distant hills. He was beginning to feel lonely, for he had been left to himself almost an hour since luncheon, and everything in the house was so quiet that it seemed as if every one had gone to sleep. Not even the memory of two large pieces of plum-pudding was sufficient to occupy Tommy’s mind for so long as an hour, and the toys which lay about the floor appeared uninteresting, he had been playing with the curiously colored wooden animals of his Noah’s Ark until they no longer offered any attraction, and then he had climbed up on the window-seat, and had pressed his little nose against the window-pane for what seemed to him a very long period of time. How he wished that his Uncle Dick were there to take him out for a wild romp across the fields! How they would climb fences and jump ditches, and pick up queer-shaped stones and fallen birds’-nests! But Uncle Dick was not there, and there was no use hoping for him, because he had gone away, and would not be back again from the distant city for at least a week. And in the meanwhile no one else would ever think of taking Tommy for a tramp in the woods. He could play in the big garden as much as he wished to, but he must not go beyond the gate; and as he looked out at the hills and the fields and caught a glimpse of the blue ocean far off in the distance, he sighed at the thought of the barrier gate.
“But I suppose there is no use wishing for things,” he thought, almost out loud. “The only thing to do is to wait, and I do get so tired of waiting. I wish I had asked Uncle Dick to send me the sheep instead of waiting to bring it with him. And I do hope it will be a nice, white, woolly sheep, as big as a real one, and strong enough for me to ride on,”
This woolly sheep that Tommy was thinking about had been the subject of a long discussion between him and his Uncle Dick just before the latters departure. Uncle Dick had promised to bring back from the city anything that Tommy might ask for, and the little boy had promptly demanded a goat—a live billy goat! He thought it would be nice to have it on the lawn in front of the big house, and to hitch it to his express-wagon and drive it about. But, unfortunately, when Tommy’s mother heard of this plan, she firmly objected to his having a live goat. She said she would not allow any such animal about the house. Tommy then suggested a sheep—a little woolly sheep, that could have a blue ribbon around its neck with a bell hanging from it. But his mother objected to the sheep, too, and so, after a long talk with Uncle Dick, the little boy compromised on a stuffed sheep which should be very white and very woolly, and should have some sort of interior mechanism that would make it bleat.
Consequently, as Tommy gazed out of the window, he kept picturing to himself what glorious times he would have when his uncle got back with the woolly sheep; but at the thought of all these future joys he grew very drowsy, He turned from the window and wondered what he could do to pass away the long afternoon. There stood the Noah’s Ark on the floor just as he had left it, with the animals walking down the gang-plank, two by two, in the order of their sizes—the giraffes first and the guinea-pigs last. How often he had arranged them that way! Sometimes they seemed to walk up the gang-plank and sometimes they seemed to walk down, but as a matter of fact they always stood still.
“If they could only be alive,” mused Tommy, “and really walk. If they could go in and out like real animals, and have pens and houses and eat things.”
And as he thought of the wonderful outcome of such a possibility, it suddenly seemed to him that the animals actually did begin to move. He looked again, and became sure that they were moving! The long line of wooden animals was actually wobbling along down the gang-plank! And how funny they looked with their stiff wooden legs and their awkward wooden bodies!
Tommy Toddles was so surprised at the behavior of his toys that he just sat stock-still and stared at them. They seemed to be paying no attention whatever to him. They were moving on down the gang-plank and across the floor, the two giraffes leading the way, and all the other animals following in perfect order, just as he had arranged them. They progressed slowly toward the open door which led to the hallway, but every now and then the procession was delayed by the last guinea-pig, which kept getting its toes caught in the threads of the carpet. They passed through the doorway and marched out into the hall, and then actually began going down the stairs. Tommy got up from the window-seat and followed them.
“This is very queer,” thought he, “If Uncle Dick could only see them now!” And then he started down-stairs in the wake of the guinea-pigs. “I do hope we won’t meet the cook,” he continued, mentally, as the procession reached the first landing; “she is so near-sighted she might not see them, and she would be sure to step on those in front and break their legs. Then they would not be able to walk any more.”
By this time the animals had reached the ground-floor, for they were moving along quite rapidly, and the head of the column, led by the giraffes, started straight for the front door. The toys now appeared to Tommy as if they were very much larger than usual. It seemed to him as if they had grown during the trip down the stairs; but in spite of this sudden and unnatural growth none of them was anywhere near tall enough to reach the door-knob, and the little boy wondered how they were going to get out into the garden, for it was evidently their intention to go there. He sat down on the steps to watch.
The procession moved steadily onward, and when the giraffes reached the door they marched right through it as if there had not been any door there at all. The other animals did the same thing. Tommy could see them approach the door and gradually fade away into it, and then he thought he could hear them treading on the gravel path outside.
“Well, that is the most wonderfulest thing I ever saw!” he gasped, quite regardless of grammar. “I have heard of people seeing through a door, and hearing through a door, and smelling through a door”—and here Tommy recollected vividly the odor of pancakes coming through the closed kitchen door—” but I never saw anything go through a door before. These animals must all be like sounds or smells or sights,” concluded the little boy, for that was the only rational explanation he could make to himself for their odd behavior. “But I wonder where they are going?” and he got up from his seat on the steps and ran down to the front door. He did not stop to take his cap or to tell his mother he was going out, as he usually did, but he opened the front door and stood on the porch watching the procession, which by this time had gotten quite a distance down the broad driveway.
The animals passed out through the open gate, and as they got farther and farther away down the road they seemed to grow larger and larger instead of becoming smaller, as, according to all optical laws, they should have done. They still maintained their relative positions in line, with the little guinea-pigs toddling along in the rear, almost running in their breathless endeavors to keep up with the others; but by the time the latter had reached the gate they appeared to be life-size, and as the little boy glanced over the shrubbery which screened the garden from the public highway, he could plainly see the tall heads and long necks of the giraffes moving away in the distance.
When the last of the animals had disappeared, Tommy Toddles looked about him to see if any other things were going to happen. He almost expected to see the animals turn around and come back. But they did not. The tramp, tramp, tramp of their feet grew less and less distinct, until it gradually died away entirely, and there was no other sound but the rustling of the wind in the tree-tops.
Tommy reflected for a few moments, and then started for the gate. He knew he was not allowed to go beyond it, but he felt as if he ought certainly to go that far to see, if possible, what became of his animals. Perhaps he might even be forgiven for going farther, if he explained later to his mother exactly what had happened, for surely this must be a sufficient excuse, as no one ever before had heard of wooden toys coming to life and growing up and deliberately walking away! And so Tommy went to the gate and looked along the road, which stretched away for a short distance down the hill and then disappeared into the woods.
The animals were not in sight. They had had time to reach the woods, and only a light cloud of dust showed that they had passed that way. Tommy looked back at the big house, but no one was visible, and most of the window-shutters were closed so as to keep out the sunlight.
“I know I ought not to,” thought Tommy, “but I’ll just run down the road a little way to see where they went. They may get lost, and that, of course, would never do.”
And so saying, he gave one more glance toward the house behind him and started off. He ran as far as the bend in the road, and then looked ahead into the woods, but, alas! there was not the sign of an animal anywhere. The little boy was very much perplexed. He was entirely at a loss as to what he should do under the circumstances, and for lack of inspiration he sat down on a big stone by the way-side to think the matter over. He was still debating whether he should follow after the animals and wander off into the woods, or whether he should give them up as lost and return to the play-room, when he heard a rustling sound in the bushes near by.
He turned around, and there, standing not ten feet away from him, he saw the prettiest, whitest, woolliest sheep that his eyes had ever rested upon. The sheep had great blue eyes, that turned toward the little boy in an inquisitive sort of a way, and presently it stepped entirely out of the bushes and nodded in a most friendly manner,
“Hello, Sheepy!” said Tommy, getting up and holding out his hand.
“Hello!” answered the woolly Sheep, as he trotted up and placed one of his fore-feet in Tommy’s proffered hand.
Now our little boy had been surprised, to say the least of it, at the conduct of the Noah’s Ark animals; but this surprise was nothing compared to the amazement which almost overpowered him when the woolly Sheep not only shook him by the hand, but actually spoke to him.
“You look disturbed.” said the Sheep.
“I am,” stammered the little boy—and that was all he could say for the moment.
“You should not be disturbed or surprised at anything,” continued the woolly Sheep in the most natural way in the world. “I got over being surprised at things years and years ago.”
Nevertheless. Tommy was surprised and very much disturbed in his little mind, and for some minutes he said not a word, but merely stared at the Sheep. The latter returned the stare complacently with his large blue eyes, and when at last the silence began to be embarrassing, he said,
“What are you doing here?”
“I am looking for my animals,” replied Tommy, as naturally as he could, for he had not quite gotten used to the situation yet. “Have you seen them pass this way?”
“Oh yes,” answered the Sheep; “they all went down the road some time ago. Were those your animals?”
“Yes, and I am afraid they will get lost.”
“Why don’t you go after them?” asked the Sheep.
“I don’t know where to go,” said Tommy, mournfully.
“Neither do I; but if you like, I will go with you.”
The little boy wondered how the Sheep could go to a place without knowing where that place was, but as long as he had so generously offered to do so Tommy did not exactly like to suggest this difficulty, and, besides, he thought it would be more polite to accept. So he said,
“Where shall we go?”
“I don’t know,” answered the Sheep.
“Neither do I,” added Tommy,
“Then we must ask.”
“But whom can we ask?” inquired the little boy, looking about.
“We can ask any one we meet,” said the Sheep, “If we start into the woods we will surely meet some one. We won’t meet any one if we stay here.”
This struck Tommy as being a sensible view to take of the situation, and he told the Sheep he would be glad to have him go along with him to aid in the search.
“Very well,” pursued the latter. “Wait until I get my things.”
The Sheep trotted off into the bushes again, and soon returned wearing a jaunty hat on the top of his head and carrying a cane which was neatly decorated with a gilded ram’s horn for a handle. He was now walking on his hind-legs, too, instead of on all-fours, as he had been when Tommy first saw him. In this attitude he was almost as tall as the little boy.
Before they started, Tommy again hesitated somewhat as to whether he ought to go with the Sheep in search of his animals, or whether it would not be better to turn back to the house, but everything had been so queer that afternoon that he thought his mother would accept the queer excuses he would have to make when he got home.
They followed the road into the woods, and as they went Tommy looked about him to see if he could recognize any old landmarks, for he had frequently gone that way with his Uncle Dick. But for some reason the trees did not appear to be the same trees that had stood by the way-side only a few days since, and the road seemed to take twists and turns that Tommy had never known it to take before. Yet, somehow, these things did not bother Tommy much at the time. Presently the Sheep said,
“You have forgotten your hat.”
“Yes; I was in such a hurry, you know,” answered the little boy. “But I don’t think I will catch cold; do you?”
“Oh no,” continued the Sheep, patronizingly; “if you do, just, give it to me.” But Tommy didn’t comprehend exactly what he meant.
“I wonder if my animals can talk, too?” thought he, as they went along. “I hope we will catch up with them soon, so that I can find out. And how I do wish I could keep this woolly Sheep instead of having the one Uncle Dick is going to bring me! I don’t think mamma would object to a live Sheep like this one—a white, woolly Sheep that wears a little hat and can talk.”
Tommy Toddles and his companion had advanced but a short distance into the woods when the little boy thought he heard some one laughing very loud and heartily, apparently at no great distance from them. He paused a moment to listen, and when the sounds of laughter were repeated he touched the Sheep on the shoulder and they both stopped.
“Did you hear that?” said Tommy.
“Some one is laughing; let us go and ask about the animals.”
“Don’t ask him” exclaimed the Sheep, in a tone of deep scorn; “he wouldn’t know.”
“Why, who is it?” asked the little boy,
“That’s the Loon. He’s crazy,” and the Sheep started on down the road again.
“But he might have seen the animals, even if he is crazy,” persisted Tommy. “Let us go and ask him, anyway.”
The Sheep asserted that this would be an utterly useless proceeding and an absolute waste of time; but Tommy finally persuaded him to make the attempt, at least, and so they turned off from the main road and plunged into a thicket out of which the sounds of laughter appeared to come. As they broke their way through the bushes the noise of the Loon’s laughter grew plainer and plainer. Presently the thick growth of underbrush opened up into a sort of clearing surrounded by tall trees, and reaching down on the farther side to the edge of a lake. Near the shore stood the Loon, and when Tommy first caught sight of him he thought this was the most solemn-looking bird he had ever seen. He was standing beside a tree trunk which looked very much like a butcher’s block, and every few minutes he placed some imaginary or invisible object on the top of the trunk, and then struck it vigorously with a large hammer which he held. After every blow the Loon lifted up his head and laughed as if there had never been anything so funny.
“You see, he’s crazy,” said the Sheep, deprecatingly,
“What is he doing?” asked Tommy.
“I’m sure I don’t know; he’s just crazy.”
“Well, you ask him if he has seen the animals,” for by this time the two had approached quite close to the Loon, who, however, seemed to be entirely unconscious of their presence.
“Ba-ah!” said the Sheep.
“Quack!” said the Loon.
“How d’ye do?” said Tommy.
And then the Loon brought his hammer down hard on the block and laughed as though his sides would split.
“Have you seen the animals?” asked the Sheep.
“No,” answered the Loon, briefly, and then he pounded the block again.
After the laughter had subsided, Tommy spoke. "Have not you seen my animals go by here, Mr. Loon?”
“Not an animal,” responded the bird. “I have been too busy.”
“What are you doing?” asked Tommy.
“Can’t you see what I’m doing?” snapped the Loon; “I’m cracking jokes,” and he brought the hammer down once more with a vigorous blow.
“Cracking jokes?” repeated Tommy, in a tone of surprise.
“But where are the jokes?”
“The jokes are on the block.” replied the Loon.
“I don’t see any jokes,” and Tommy looked closely at the beaten top of the tree trunk.
“I did not suppose you could,” retorted the Loon, “You are as stupid as all the rest. No one ever sees my jokes.” Whereupon he rapped the block again and fairly shrieked with merriment.
“He is crazy,” said Tommy, turning to the Sheep.
“I told you so,” answered the latter, triumphantly, “Let us leave him alone with his jokes, and go up to the head of the lake. They’ll know up there.”
They did not even say good-bye to the Loon as they made their way out of the clearing, for the bird was not paying any attention to them. They turned into a narrow path that led off in the direction of the lake and then followed along the shore. It was a very pretty lake, with trees growing down close to the water, and Tommy wondered that he and his Uncle Dick had never discovered it before. As they trudged along, jumping over fallen logs now and then, they could hear the Loon’s laughs growing fainter and fainter in the distance.
Presently they came to a low point of land that jutted out into the water, and when they had walked out to the end of it Tommy noticed a queer-looking building standing in an open space about a quarter of a mile away at the head of the lake. It was a two-storied house with a shingled roof, and any quantity of windows in the sides. The most peculiar thing, however, was that the side of the house fronting the lake was painted white, and one end of the building was painted blue, and the other end was painted red. The little boy, of course, could not see the fourth side, and he wondered what color that was. He looked at the strange building as they advanced, and in a few moments said to the Sheep,
“What is that house?”
“The Poorhouse,” answered the Sheep.
‘“I never knew of a Poorhouse around here,” said Tommy, as be gazed at the queer structure, “Is there any one in it?”
“Only two poor people,” answered his companion, “but they are both very poor.”
“Who are they?”
“One is an ex-Pirate, and the other is a Reformed Burglar?”
“A Pirate and a Burglar!” exclaimed Tommy. “I did not know there were any more pirates.”
“There aren’t,” replied the Sheep, testily. “I said an ex-Pirate. He was driven out of the business.”
Tommy was a little abashed by the Sheep’s tone, but after a brief pause he resumed,
“Is he a real Pirate?”
“He was” answered the Sheep.
“And what does he do now?” continued the little boy.
“He is very poor now.”
“I thought all pirates got rich,” persisted Tommy.
“They did. Some got rich and some got killed. This Pirate got rich.”
“But you just said he was poor,” objected the little boy.
“He is now,” answered the Sheep, “You see, when things got into such a state that the pirate business was no longer profitable, this one sold his ship and all his hidden gold and retired. Then he started in to write poetry, and now he’s in the Poorhouse.”
Tommy could not quite follow this explanation, but he thought it must be all right, and as they walked along he tried, although without any very gratifying success, to think it out. After a while he said,
“Does the ex-Pirate still write poetry?”
“Yes,” answered the Sheep, “but he’s so poor now that it does not make any difference.”
“And the Burglar?” asked Tommy.
“Oh, he’s very good now; he has reformed entirely.”
“Does not he steal any more?”
“No, And, besides, there is nothing to steal at the Poor-house.”
“What does he do, then?”
“He does not do anything but paint the Poorhouse. Since his reform he has become a good man and a patriotic citizen, and so he paints the house red, white, and blue. He paints one side every day, so that every fourth day the sides have a different color.”
“He must use an awful lot of paint,” thought Tommy. But by this time the two had gotten almost up to the house, and the little boy could see the Reformed Burglar in a pair of overalls, with a pot of red paint in his hand, painting one end of the house.
As the two approached the Reformed Burglar caught sight of them, and turned around to see who his visitors were. Then he stuck his head in through an open window and shouted,
“Hi there, below! All hands on deck to repel boarders!”
“Does he think we are coming here to live?” asked Tommy of his companion.
“I guess not,” answered the Sheep. “Why?”
“He said something about boarders.”
“Oh, that’s only an idiom of the piratic vocabulary,” replied the Sheep, learnedly—so learnedly, in fact, that Tommy was just as much in the dark as he was before he put the question.
When he looked up at the house again a wild-eyed individual with long hair and a fierce mustache, holding a knife in his teeth and a pistol in each hand, burst out of the door and stood beside the Reformed Burglar.
“This must be the ex-Pirate,” thought Tommy, as he cautiously got behind the Sheep. I wonder if he’ll shoot?”
But the ex-Pirate was not that kind of a man at all. When he saw that there were strangers present he put his pistols back into his belt, and came up to the visitors with a genial smile, and shook hands with the Sheep and then with Tommy.
“Welcome to the Poorhouse,” he said. “There is nothing here, and so you will find nobody any richer than yourselves.”
“But we have not come to stay,” murmured Tommy.
“Nothing comes to stay,” replied the ex-Pirate, with a sigh, “Everything that comes, goes.”
During this conversation the Reformed Burglar, who had put down his paint-pot, approached the group. Tommy noticed that he had only one eye. and that he wore a blind over the other. He wanted to ask him what was the matter with this other eye, but he thought the Reformed Burglar might feel offended at such a question, so he merely said,
“How do you do, sir?”
“To-day I do it in red,” answered the Reformed Burglar, with a bow.
“But I did not ask you that,” said Tommy.
“You should have,” said the other; “it is important.”
“I don’t like red,” interrupted the ex-Pirate, “I prefer black. I wanted him to paint the house black,”
“But that would have looked so sad,” remarked the little boy.
No matter; black is the Pirate’s color, and I like it.” The ex-Pirate was getting somewhat excited.
“Black is a beastly color!” shouted the Reformed Burglar.
“It’s better than red!” retorted the ex-Pirate, hotly, and then there followed a lively dispute between the two inmates of the Poorhouse as to the relative merits of red and black for mural decoration.
“Well, I’m doing the painting, anyhow,” sniffed the Reformed Burglar, finally, and he went back to his pot and brushes.
“He’s that way,” said the ex-Pirate, turning to Tommy in an apologetic way. “But won’t you sit down? We have no chairs, but there is a bench. I painted the bench. You see, it’s black.”
Tommy felt grateful for this invitation, for he was beginning to feel a little tired after his walk. There was a rude table in front of the bench, and they all sat down and leaned back against it.
“I write here sometimes,” said the ex-Pirate, as he sat down between his two guests.
Tommy didn’t know exactly what kind of a reply this statement called for, so he said, “Is that so?”
“Of course it’s so,” replied the ex-Pirate, facing the little boy, “If you don’t believe it, ask the Reformed Burglar.”
“I do believe it,” answered Tommy, somewhat timidly, for he feared he had offended the ex-Pirate. “What I meant to say was ‘Indeed,’or something of that sort.”
“That’s all right,” continued the ex-Pirate, cordially. “I thought perhaps you doubted me. Some people doubt pirates, you know, and although I am not a pirate now, I was once, and my reputation clings to me. If you would like to see how I do it, just to be convinced, I will write some poetry now.”
“Oh no, don’t,” said the Sheep, impulsively.
“But, if you prefer, I will recite some of my own compositions,” continued the ex-Pirate heedless of the Sheep’s protest. “I can recite something I wrote here. Would you like to hear it?”
“Certainly,” said Tommy, politely; “is it about pirates?”
“No; it’s about the Reformed Burglar. Would not you like to hear about him? I can recite something about pirates afterward, if you would like me to.”
“Never mind. Let us hear about the Reformed Burglar,” said the Sheep, wearily.
The ex-Pirate appeared to be pleased at receiving even this slight encouragement. He climbed up on to the top of the black table, and Tommy and the sheep turned around so as to face him. He bowed very politely and elaborately in all directions, just as if there had been a large audience present, and then began. His manner of speaking was very melodramatic, and Tommy suspected once or twice that he saw the Sheep hiding a smile. But the little boy was very much interested, because he had wanted all along to know more about the Burglar, and this piece of poetry told him a good deal,
THE RIME OF THE REFORMED BURGLAR
“There was a bold, bad burglar
Whose name was One-eyed Bill,
He used to burgle shops and banks,
And also lap the till.
“Now in the street where William lived
There dwelt a little maid;
Her face was very pretty, and
Her name was Adelaide.
“Alas, she was an orphan, for
Her parents both were dead,
And her father’s brother cared for her
Now in her mother’s stead,
“Her uncle was a constable
Upon the town police,
And he used to keep a watchful eye
Upon his pretty niece,
“But Adelaide, as maidens will
Nine cases out of ten,
Would sit upon the front-door step,
And smile upon the men.
“It happened thus that One-eyed Bill
Came walking down that way,
And seeing pretty Adelaide,
He wished her a good-day.
“And Addie said: ‘Good-morrow, sir,
How is the world with you?
Would you sit down here beside me
If I should ask you to?’
“So William went right up the steps,
And sat upon her left
(For, if you will remember, of
One eye he was bereft).
“He sat there all the afternoon
With pretty Adelaide,
And when, he went back home again
He loved the gentle maid.
“Said he unto himself: ‘Ha! ha!
True unto my profession,
I’ll burgle this young woman’s heart
And make it my possession.
“But this was his last burglary;
For when he won her heart,
She made him swear that he and his
Profession then should part.
“So One-eyed Bill and Adelaide
Were married very soon,
And sailed away to foreign lands
To spend their honeymoon.”
When the ex-Pirate had finished speaking he clambered down from the top of the table, and bowed again to Tommy and to the Sheep.
“Did the burglar really get married?” asked the little boy.
“Certainly,” answered the ex-Pirate; “he married Adelaide.”
“Well, where is she now? Is not she poor too?”
“I don’t know,” said the ex-Pirate, with an air of embarrassment, as he glanced stealthily toward One-eyed Bill, who was still zealously painting the side of the Poorhouse.
“Don’t ask so many questions,” whispered the Sheep, severely. “It is very embarrassing sometimes. When in doubt, always change the subject,”
Tommy did not like to be talked to in this fashion, especially by a sheep, although he knew down in the bottom of his heart that it was a little inquisitive to ask questions about the private affairs even of a Reformed Burglar. But it was evident to him that the ex-Pirate felt slightly disturbed over the matter, and so he tried to change the subject as the Sheep had suggested.
Tommy could not think of anything to say, but the ex-Pirate soon broke the silence himself by remarking,
“I wrote it.”
“Oh yes!” exclaimed Tommy, seizing the opportunity to say something pleasant at last, “The poetry was very nice. It sounded like some of the funny things Uncle Dick learned at college. But you said you would recite something about pirates too.”
“I will,” answered the ex-Pirate with alacrity, and he climbed up on top of the table again, “I’ll read you a selection from my autobiography. I was just writing it as you came,” and he pulled a large roll of manuscript out of his inner pocket. “This is Chapter XVII. If you prefer, I will go and get the preceding sixteen chapters, the introduction, and the preface, and read them to you too.”
“Oh no,” interposed the Sheep. “Chapter XVII. will do. We have not time to hear any more.”
“Very well,” replied the ex-Pirate, clearing his throat; “I will only read Chapter XVII.;
“‘The following day the sun rose up as usual from the East,
The sea was calm, the sky was clear, the stormy winds had ceased;
The Black Avenger sped along before a gentle breeze,
And the starboard watch loafed on the deck in true piratic ease—’
What is it?” asked the ex-Pirate, interrupting his lecture and turning toward Tommy, who looked as if he wanted to ask a question,
“I was wondering what the Black Avenger was,” said the little boy,
“I supposed so,” replied the poet, reproachfully—“supposed so. The Black Avenger was the name of my pirate ship, and if you had let me read the first sixteen chapters of the autobiography you would have known all about the ship by this time. I think I had better go and get the other chapters,” and he started to step down from the table.
“Oh no,” put in the Sheep. “We know what the Black Avenger is now. It’s your ship.”
“Yes,” said the ex-Pirate, dramatically; “she was a low, trim craft, with tall, rakish masts—”
“Just like all pirate ships,” interrupted the Sheep.
“Not a bit of it!” shouted the ex-Pirate, vehemently. “She was not like any other ship afloat, you mutton-head.”
“Don’t you call me a mutton-head!” retorted the Sheep, hotly, rising from his seat on the bench. “You may think that because—”
“But—” began the ex-Pirate.
“—because you are up there on that table—”
“But—” began the ex-Pirate again.
“Oh, don’t tell him to butt!” cried Tommy, who was beginning to fear there might be a fight.
“I didn’t,” said the ex-Pirate, turning to the little boy.
“Well, both of you stop quarrelling,” continued Tommy, asserting himself. I think it’s very rude of each one of you.”
The ex-Pirate looked at the little boy as though he did not quite understand, and the Sheep moved off to the far end of the bench and began to sulk. Tommy was surprised to see this, for, until then, he had entertained a very favorable opinion of his new friend. He was surprised to see the Sheep sulk, because it was something he never did himself, as he had been told that it was unmanly.
“Perhaps it is not unsheeply,” thought Tommy, who was willing to make every excuse possible for the Sheep.
“Shall I go on?” said the ex-Pirate to Tommy, as he glanced at the Sheep.
“Certainly,” replied the little boy; “He is very ill-behaved. He ought to be ashamed of himself.”
“I guess he is,” remarked the ex-Pirate; “he certainly looks sheepish;” and although this did not strike Tommy as being odd at the time, he wondered afterwards how a sheep could look otherwise.
The little man on the table glanced over his manuscript, and, having found the place where he left off, read again:
“ ‘I took my breakfast down below, and when I came on deck
I looked about, and far away I saw a little speck
Upon the blue horizon, and I knew it was a—’
“I guess I’ll have to stop here,” said the ex-Pirate, suddenly, putting his papers into his pocket and looking around uneasily,
“Why, what’s the matter?” asked Tommy, noticing his evident nervousness. The Sheep, too, had straightened up and was looking about.
“Don’t you smell anything?” asked the ex-Pirate.
“No; what is it?” inquired Tommy, sniffing and looking about like the rest of them. But before the ex-Pirate could answer, the little boy heard a sort of shuffling noise coming from the direction of the woods, and presently he saw a most peculiar-looking animal, such as he had never seen or heard of before, waddle out into the open, grassy space in front of the Poorhouse. The strange beast seemed to be about the size of a hippopotamus, yet, he resembled a rabbit. And he was yellow. As he came nearer his body looked as if it were made of cheese, and his long ears resembled pieces of toast. A sort of white vapor floated off the creature’s back, and, as the breeze wafted it toward the group at the table, Tommy noticed that it had a fragrant and appetizing odor.
“What is that thing?” he asked, somewhat tremulously.
“That’s the Welsh-Rabbit,” whispered the Sheep.
“Oh,” said Tommy. “Uncle Dick eats one every night.”
“Sh-h-h!” said the ex-Pirate. “Don’t talk like that, he might hear you.” The Sheep was frowning severely, and Tommy feared that he had said something indiscreet. In a few moments he was sure he had.
“Never talk of eating things,” said the Sheep. “It is a tender subject with some people. How would you like to have a lion come along here now and look at you and ask me if you were good to eat?”
This question, with its suggested possibilities, made Tommy feel uncomfortable, and he moved nearer to the ex-Pirate.
“Are there any lions hereabouts?” he asked.
“There might be,” replied the Sheep; “but they are all well-bred lions, and they don’t talk about things to eat.” This statement reassured the little boy, but it made him again eager to change the subject of the conversation.
It was an easy matter to change the subject this time, because the Welsh-Rabbit was there to talk about. Tommy looked at the strange creature and said,
“Is he poor too?”
The ex-Pirate laughed out loud. “No,” he replied; “he’s very rich. He is one of the richest things I know.”
“Then he does not live here?” continued Tommy, pointing toward the Poorhouse.
“No, indeed. He has a stock-farm down the road, where he raises all sorts of queer animals. He comes here occasionally to give us things.”
“What does he give you?”
“He usually gives me a night-mare,” answered the ex-Pirate.
“Yes; he raises them on his stock-farm.”
Tommy was about to ask what sort of an animal a nightmare was, but the Welsh-Rabbit had come so close to them by this time that his two companions turned toward the visitor and wished him good-day most cordially.
“Good-night,” replied the Welsh-Rabbit, bluntly.
“But it is not night,” said Tommy; whereupon the Sheep pulled his coat-sleeve abruptly, and whispered:
“Don’t talk like that. The Welsh-Rabbit wants to be polite, He does not often wish one ‘good-night.’ Say something nice to him now.”
Tommy couldn’t think of anything particularly polite to say right on the spur of the moment, so he naturally spoke of what was uppermost in his mind;
“Have you seen my animals, Mr. Welsh-Rabbit?”
“No, I have not,” answered the Welsh-Rabbit. “Have you seen mine?”
“No; have you lost yours?”
“No, indeed!” and the Welsh-Rabbit laughed until the cheese of his back fairly bubbled over with mirth. “Would you like to see my animals?”
“I don’t know,” replied Tommy, for the Sheep was tugging at his coat-sleeve again. “What are they like?”
“I can show you all kinds,” answered the Welsh-Rabbit, patronizingly. “There are green monkeys with pink tails, yellow rats with purple eyes, cerulean dragons with crimson claws, and blue elephants with five legs and lavender tails.”
“Oh my!” gasped Tommy; “but I never heard of any such animals as those. I don’t think I want to see them, but you are very kind to offer to show them to me,”
“Don’t mention it,” replied the Welsh-Rabbit, waving his toast ears lazily; “I will show them to you some other day, whether you want to see them or not.”
Tommy did not quite understand how this could happen, but he said nothing, because the Sheep was persistently pulling at his coat-sleeve. Both he and the ex-Pirate seemed to be very much in awe of the Welsh-Rabbit, who appeared to Tommy like such a mild and good-natured creature.
The Reformed Burglar had now almost finished painting the side of the Poorhouse, and he came up and joined the others.
“How do you like that color?” he asked of the Welsh-Rabbit.
“The color of this side of the house.”
“It reminds me of tomato catsup,” said the Welsh-Rabbit, after having glanced at the red side of the Poorhouse, “and you know I don’t like tomato catsup.”
“I think you will agree with me when I say that the house should have been painted black,” put in the ex-Pirate,
“No, indeed,” said the Welsh-Rabbit; “I disagree with you.”
“You always do,” retorted the ex-Pirate, with unexpected asperity,
“Especially at night,” added the Reformed Burglar, and then it began to look as if something serious were going to happen. But fortunately the Welsh-Rabbit merely waved his toast ears a bit, and then waddled off down the road without saying a word of farewell to any of them.
“He’s that way,” said the ex-Pirate to Tommy, in the same apologetic tone he had formerly used with regard to the Reformed Burglar. “Sometimes he’s right agreeable, and sometimes he’s right disagreeable. He’s mostly disagreeable.”
Tommy watched the Welsh-Rabbit as he ambled off toward the shore of the lake, like a huge yellow ball, leaving a savory odor of cheese behind him. When the queer creature finally disappeared among the trees, the little boy turned to the others:
“What peculiar animals he must have!” he said.
“Very peculiar sometimes,” remarked the Reformed Burglar.
“Where does he keep them?”
“On his farm,” said the ex-Pirate.
“I’d like to see them,” ventured Tommy.
“You will some day.”
“I never heard of a blue elephant with five legs and a lavender tail,” continued the little boy. “Has he got many of those?”
“No; most of his animals are bugbears. But he has a lot of night-mares, and he gives them to lots of people.”
“Would he give me a night-mare?” asked Tommy.
“I reckon he would,” said the Reformed Burglar, with a broad smile, for he seemed to be enjoying the little boy’s questions immensely. “But I don’t think you would like it.”
“I don’t think you would either,” added the Sheep.
“Perhaps I wouldn’t,” said Tommy, thoughtfully; “but I would like to have my own animals. Have you seen them pass this way, Mr. Pirate?”
“No animals have passed this way to-day,” answered the ex-Pirate; “but we can go up on the hill and look around, and from there perhaps we can see where they are.”
“That’s so!” exclaimed the Sheep; “I never thought of that. Let’s go up on the hill.”
“I would like very much to go with you,” said the ex-Pirate, meekly.
“All right, come along,” answered Tommy. “And won’t you come too, Mr. Bill?” he added, turning to the Reformed Burglar.
“No; I can’t. I must paint. But I think I can guess where your animals went to.”
“Where?” asked Tommy, eagerly.
“I guess they went to the fight. All the other animals went. That’s why you don’t see any about here.”
“But we saw the Loon and the Welsh-Rabbit,” objected Tommy,
“Oh, they don’t count,” put in the ex-Pirate. “The Loon is crazy and don’t know what is going on, and the Welsh-Rabbit never attends fights. He’s too soft.”
“I did not know the fight was to be to-day,” remarked the Sheep, in a tone of surprise.
“Certainly, it’s to be to-day,” asserted the Reformed Burglar. “But it’s probably all over with by this time.”
“Well, let’s go to the hill anyway,” said the ex-Pirate. “From the summit we can see as far as the beach, and we can easily tell if there are any animals there.”
So they bade good-bye to the Reformed Burglar, who returned to his pot and brushes, and Tommy, the ex-Pirate, and the Sheep started off on the road which led to the hill.
Tommy was most curious to know what this fight was that his new acquaintances had been talking about, and after they had walked along in silence for a few moments he asked the ex-Pirate to tell him about it. The latter expressed some surprise that Tommy should be so ignorant in this matter, and asked him if his animals had not told him of it.
“Why, they never tell me anything,” answered Tommy. “They’re wooden.”
“They wouldn’t?” said the ex-Pirate; but before Tommy could explain the misunderstanding his companion began telling him about the fight. It seems that the Penguin lived in a house near the sea-shore, and was the editor of a newspaper which he called The Tidal Wave. In it he chronicled the events of the animal world, and frequently said pretty sharp things about the beasts, the birds, and the fishes.
“You see, the Penguin is half bird and half fish,” explained the ex-Pirate, “and as he lives on land he counts as a beast.”
“Well, it seems that this editorial Penguin had made some sarcastic remarks in his paper about the Sword-Fish, who was a captain of Sub-Marines; and the Sword-Fish, being a very haughty personage, had taken offence, and had challenged him to fight a duel. The Penguin, although he was, so to speak, a man of peace, accepted; and all the beasts and birds and fishes were invited to witness the contest and to decide which was the mightier of the two.
“And I suppose the fight took place to-day,”’ said the ex-Pirate in conclusion.
“Who won?” asked Tommy, eagerly.
“I don’t know; we’ll find out when we get to the beach.”
By this time they were nearing the foot of the hill. The road ran alongside of a stone-wall that was just about as high as Tommy’s head, and it seemed to the little boy that he could hear, now and then, strange sounds, like squeals, coming from the other side of it. He asked the Sheep what the sounds were.
“That’s the Guinea-Pig School in there,” said the latter.
“It must be recess,” remarked the ex-Pirate. I can hear them playing.”
“Are there Guinea-Pigs on the other side of that wall?” inquired Tommy, with much interest,
“Hundreds of them,” said the ex-Pirate.
“Can’t we climb up and look at them?”
“Of course we can.” And in less time than it takes to tell about it all three had clambered to the top of the wall, and were looking down into the Guinea-Pig school-yard.
“Where is the school-house?” asked the little boy, as he gazed at the hundreds of funny little animals clambering over one another, playing tag and leap-frog, and every now and then giving vent to little squeaks of delight. They did not even notice the three on-lookers sitting on the wall, so busy were they in having a good time.
“Did you know,” said the ex-Pirate to Tommy, “that if you pick up a Guinea-Pig by the tail his eyes will fall out?”
“Uncle Dick told me so once, but I did not believe him.”
“Well, I’ll show you,” said the ex-Pirate, jumping down into the play-ground. He approached a Guinea-Pig who was not looking, and picked him up by the tail. Sure enough, his eyes fell out, and rolled around on the ground with a most terrified expression. Then the ex-Pirate put the little beast down again, and he groped about until he found his eyes, and put them back where they belonged. He looked quickly about to see who had played the trick on him, and, seeing the ex-Pirate laughing, he stuck out his tongue at him, and ran away to join a group that was playing blind-man’s-buff.
“Does not that hurt the Guinea-Pig?” asked Tommy,
“Certainly not,” replied the ex-Pirate; “they like it. It tickles the eyes to roll about like that. Don’t you see them playing blind-man’s-buff over there?”
“Yes,” assented Tommy.
“Well, Guinea-Pigs don’t carry handkerchiefs, so they have to do the best they can without them. The way they get around this is to take the one who is It, hold him up by the tail, and let his eyes fall out. Then he’s just as blind as if he had his eyes bandaged with a handkerchief.”
“And it’s cheaper, too,” added the Sheep, as he fanned himself with his hat.
Tommy, of course, was much surprised at all the ex-Pirate had told him, but he said to himself philosophically that so many things had been surprising that afternoon that there was no reason why he should waste any emotion on the Guinea-Pigs.
“Did you ever hear them sing?” asked the ex-Pirate.
“Can they sing?” asked the little boy, gleefully.
“They can sing,” answered the ex-Pirate, “but they usually sing only just before vacation,”
“And now it’s just after vacation,”
“I wish they would sing,” said Tommy, looking up at the ex-Pirate pleadingly.
“Perhaps I can persuade them to,” said the latter, good-naturedly, for he understood that this was what Tommy wanted him to do. He walked over towards the group that was playing blind-man’s-buff. As soon as they saw him approaching they scurried off in every direction, until they considered themselves out of his reach, and then they sat up on their haunches and stuck out their tongues, which was very ill-bred of the Guinea-Pigs, thought Tommy.
“I'm not going to hurt you!” shouted the ex-Pirate.
“Honest?” squeaked a little spotted Guinea-Pig, as he put his fore-paws up to his eyes to make sure they were there.
“Really I’m not. I want you to sing,”
“It is not time to sing yet,” said another Guinea-Pig, who looked very wise, and winked at his companions as if he had discovered some ruse on the part of their visitor.
“No matter about that,” urged the ex-Pirate. “Sing your song, and make believe you are practising for vacation.”
The suggestion apparently struck the Guinea-Pigs favorably, for at heart they really enjoyed their singing very much. They all huddled together and held an excited debate, during which there were no end of squeaks and squeals, and they finally decided that they would sing—just once, “for practice.”
So the ex-Pirate returned and sat down on the top of the stone-wall next to Tommy and the Sheep, and the Guinea-Pigs approached in a very dignified way, and arranged themselves in a semicircle in front of their audience. The spotted Guinea-Pig sat out in front, facing the others, and beat time with his fore-paws, while the others sang in chorus:
“Oh, let us away
To the land of Kathay,
Where the peppermint candy grows;
Where all the streets
Are paved with sweets
And the lemonade river flows.
“We’ll revel in quince,
And slices of mince,
And dine on chocolate-creams;
And visions of tarts
Shall please our hearts.
And fill our peaceful dreams.
“Oh, let us away
To fair Kathay—
The summer days are coming.
For now we know
It’s time to go;
The bumblebees are humming.”
“Of course the bumblebees aren’t humming,” said the spotted Guinea-Pig, turning around. “This is only a practice song, you know.”
The ex-Pirate thanked the little fellows for their courtesy. Thereupon they ran away again, and lifted one of their number up by the tail and resumed their game of blind-man’s-buff.
“Where is the land of Kathay?” asked Tommy, as soon as the Guinea-Pigs had gone.
“Oh, it’s miles and miles away,” said the Sheep, and then he jumped down from the top of the wall, and told his companions to hurry along, for they had been wasting time in their journey to the top of the hill.
It was a steep climb to the top of the hill, and when they reached the summit Tommy was quite out of breath and very warm. He looked about for some place to rest, but there was not any. The top of the hill was bare except for a few stubby alder-bushes and half a dozen white birches, which trembled in the breeze that was blowing in from the sea, “This is the place,” said the Sheep, presently.
“I don’t see any other place around here,” retorted the ex-Pirate, “so I suppose this must be the place.”
“What place?” asked Tommy.
“Don’t you see?” queried the ex-Pirate,
“Don’t I see what?”
“Everything. This is the place where you see everything,” And the ex-Pirate waved his hands out toward the horizon.
In fact, it seemed as if what he had said were true. Tommy thought he really could have seen everything if his eyes had only been strong enough. The view appeared to have no bounds. The hill was not so very high, yet it seemed to the little boy as if he were up in a balloon, and was looking down upon the whole world. Not far distant was the sea, with the waves breaking on the broad, sandy beach, and the deep, blue water stretching off immeasurably toward the sky. In the other direction were hills and valleys and green fields; and far away were peaceful towns and villages with church-spires sticking up out of a tangle of roofs and chimneys. Tommy felt very much impressed, and wondered again how it was that he and his Uncle Dick had never discovered this beautiful spot, “How nice it would be to have a house up here!” mused the little boy, and then he suddenly bethought himself of his own house that he had run away from so unexpectedly. He looked over in the direction where he thought the big house ought to be, but he could not locate it anywhere in the landscape, and he did not quite like to ask the Sheep or the ex-Pirate to show it to him. “It must be an awful long way off,” he concluded, mentally, “if I can’t see it from here,” And then he sighed, and wondered how he was ever going to get back.
“Well, I don’t see them!” exclaimed the Sheep, who had been standing on top of a boulder, and peering intently in the direction of the ocean.
“You don’t see who?” asked Tommy, coming out of his reverie.
“Perhaps they are behind that knoll yonder,” suggested the ex-Pirate, “The Penguin lives there, and they may be calling at his house.”
“They may be,” said the Sheep. “We’ll go there.” And he jumped to the ground.
“But can’t we rest a little while first?” pleaded Tommy.
“Certainly,” said the ex-Pirate. “That’s an excellent idea. Let us rest. We might as well have some luncheon, too. Do you ever eat luncheon?” This to Tommy, who opened his eyes very wide and stared.
“Do I ever eat luncheon? Indeed I do. Don’t you?”
“Always,” answered the ex-Pirate, “But, you know, some do and some don’t; and at the Poorhouse we are sometimes irregular about our meals. But won’t you kindly ring the bluebells?”
Tommy had taken a seat on the grass near one of the birches, but he had not noticed that there was a beautiful spray of bluebells growing almost at his elbow. When the ex-Pirate called his attention to them he leaned over and touched the flowers, and as he did so they tinkled merrily and loudly, just like his mother’s tea-bell at home.
“That’s right,” said the Sheep, quite heedless of Tommy’s surprised look. “That will bring the Dumb-Waiter. Indeed, there he comes now.”
All three looked down toward the foot of the hill, in the direction pointed out by the Sheep, and they saw some one coming rapidly up toward them. As he approached, Tommy perceived that the new-comer was an undersized man with a bald head and side whiskers, He wore a short black coat and a long white apron that hung down to his toes, just like the waiters Tommy had seen in the city restaurants.
“That’s the Dumb-Waiter,” said the ex-Pirate to the little boy, “What do you want to eat?”
“I don’t know; what can I have?”
“I think I’d like something sweet.”
“You can have a sweet-potato,” said the ex-Pirate; and then, turning to the Sheep, “What will you have?”
“Can you spare a grass?” asked the Sheep.
“Do you like asparagus?” broke in Tommy; but before the Sheep could answer the ex-Pirate turned on the little boy sharply and said, “Keep quiet until your next turn comes, You have ordered once!”
And so Tommy leaned up against the birch and said nothing more, but just gazed at the Dumb-Waiter, who stood near by in silence, bowing his head respectfully as each order that was given to him by the ex-Pirate,
“Well, what will you have?”
“I guess I’ll take some Hayberry Long-cake,” replied the Sheep.
“Very well. Hayberry Long-cake for him,” said the ex-Pirate, “and you may bring me some soft-boiled egg-plants and some watermelon on toast.”
“And what shall we have to drink?” asked the Sheep.
“Real pain, I guess,” suggested the ex-Pirate,
“Real pain?” said Tommy. “What’s that?”
“Oh, it’s very good,” explained the ex-Pirate, “and thoroughly harmless. You take a bunch of grapes and put them in a glass, and bruise and hurt them with a spoon until you get real pain. This yellow, fuzzy, foamy sort of stuff that comes in big bottles from France is only sham pain.”
Then, turning to the Dumb-Waiter, the ex-Pirate said: “Make it real pain!”
The Dumb-Waiter bowed again, and began making his preparations for serving the luncheon, All his dishes and knives and forks seemed to be at the foot of the hill, and he kept running up and down for some time to collect them. He never seemed to bring up more than one or two things at a time, and seldom the thing that was wanted. The ex-Pirate kept finding fault with him and scolding him, and at last he turned to Tommy and said:
“That’s always the way with these Dumb-Waiters. They never bring up what you want.”
And at each word of reproof the Dumb-Waiter would exclaim, “Oh my, but I do get so tired of running up and down!” And then he would disappear down the hill again and bring up what was wanted.
“I thought you said, he was a dumb waiter?” remarked Tommy, after he had heard the servant speak several times.
“He is a Dumb-Waiter,” replied the Sheep,
“But I thought a dumb waiter meant one who could not talk,” continued the little boy.
“Oh no,” laughed the Sheep. “We call him a Dumb-Waiter because he runs up and down. All Dumb-Waiters run up and down, you know.” And as Tommy had never seen any dumb-waiters that did not run up and down (except when they were out of order), he was forced to be contented with this peculiar and rather unsatisfactory explanation.
When the Dumb-Waiter had brought up all that was necessary for the meal, the ex-Pirate got down on his hands and knees and wanted the servant to set the table on his back.
“What for?” asked the Sheep.
“Why, I want this luncheon to be on me, you know,” explained the ex-Pirate, genially; but the Sheep would not agree to this, and wanted it to be on him. A wrangle ensued, in which Tommy wisely decided to take no part, and the two disputants finally compromised on allowing the ex-Pirate to sit down and hold the dishes on his lap instead of having them served on his back.
“I am glad you like sweet things,” he remarked to Tommy, as the little boy began to eat his sweet-potato.
“I can’t say that I care much for sweet-potatoes, though,” ventured Tommy, who was forcing himself to eat so as not to be impolite to his host,
“Oh, no matter,” answered the ex-Pirate, pleasantly; “try something else.” (But Tommy noticed that there was nothing else to try.) “All sweet things are sweet, you know,” he continued; “even things that apparently have no taste. Now love-letters, for instance, are sweet.”
“Yes, indeed” put in the Sheep. “The Monkey’s love-letter must have been sweet. But then he wrote it in jam.”
“Did you ever hear about that?” asked the ex-Pirate, turning to Tommy, and upsetting several dishes into the grass as he did so. “It is a classic—one of my classics.” And without waiting for the little boy to answer, he began to recite;
“Said the Monkey to the Tapir,
One Sunday afternoon,
‘Won’t you let me have some paper,
With some jelly and a spoon?
For I want to write a letter
To a pretty Perroqueet,
And I really think I’d better
Make the message rather sweet.’ ”
“It was raspberry jelly,” commented the Sheep.
“What!” exclaimed Tommy. “Did the Monkey use a spoon for a pen and raspberry jelly for ink?”
“That’s what he did,” said the ex-Pirate. “It was a red-letter day for the Perroqueet, I tell you!”
Further conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the Hayberry Long-cake. This was a new dish to Tommy. It was a sort of cake, apparently stuffed with hay or straw, and was fully three yards long. The Dumb-Waiter brought the cake up the hill on roller-skates. One skate was fastened to each end of the cake, so that it looked like an eight-wheeled toy wagon. The Sheep ate several yards of the odd delicacy, and the ex-Pirate likewise took a number of slices, and when they had eaten as much, as they could, they called the Dumb-Waiter and made him eat some of it, because, as they explained afterwards to Tommy, they always feed the waiter. Then they all three arose and started down the hill toward the sea shore.
The path to the sea led first down the hill, then across some fields, and finally through a little stretch of woods. These were dark and spooky, and as Tommy tramped along under the trees between the Sheep and the ex-Pirate he imagined several times that he heard strange noises in the underbrush. These noises sounded like distant roars and growls—very faint, indistinct roars and growls, to be sure, but roars and growls, nevertheless—and the little boy could not help recalling what the Sheep had said about lions at the time of the Welsh-Rabbit’s visit to the Poorhouse. He tried not to display any timidity, but he asked:
“Are—are there any lions around here?”
“Oh yes,” answered the Sheep, in the same careless tone he would have used if Tommy had said “trees” instead of “lions”; but when he noticed that the little boy looked frightened, he added, “They are not dangerous lions, though; they are only Dandelions.”
Whereupon Tommy felt much relieved, and skipped along merrily until he saw an ordinary mud-turtle spread a pair of wings from under his shell and fly up into the air and rest on the limb of a maple-tree. This was too much even for a little boy who had seen nothing but impossible things all the afternoon. He stopped right short in the middle of the road and gazed up at this new wonder.
“Now don’t stand there and stare at that Turtle-Dove,” said the ex-Pirate, somewhat impatiently; “we have not time to stand around and study unnatural history. If we don’t hurry we won’t reach the Penguin’s till dark.”
This was a very strong argument with the little boy, so he gave one last glance at the Turtle-Dove, and ran along until he caught up with his two companions. In a few moments they broke out at the edge of the wood, and found themselves only a short distance from the sea-shore. The breakers were making a great noise on the sand, and back of them the calm blue sea stretched away unspotted by any smoke or sail. Purely out of habit the ex-Pirate put his hand up over his eyes and looked around from north to south the entire-length of the sky-line. Then he shook his head sadly and sighed:
“I’m no good at scanning the horizon any more. This business of scanning hexameters and pentameters and Alexandrines spoils a man utterly for a good, all-around, everyday, smooth horizon.”
Tommy did not even try to understand what he was talking about, but trudged right along in silence beside the Sheep.
They had not gone very far before they caught sight of two figures in the distance.
“I’ll bet that’s Thingumbob,” said the Sheep, calling the ex-Pirate’s attention to them.
“That’s just who it is, and I wonder what he is doing?”
He certainly was doing something—this figure whom they called Thingumbob. As they drew nearer to him Tommy thought he must be making a speech, for he could see that he was waving his arms and shaking his fists at his companion, who appeared to be very much affected by what was being said. The second figure Tommy soon made out to be a Seal. He was a rather large Seal, and was sitting on a rock, while Thingumbob stood on the sand in front of him. Tommy tried later to describe Thingumbob to his Uncle Dick, but he found himself unequal to the task. At times the queer creature resembled everybody Tommy had ever known, and yet again he looked like nobody in particular. He was a nondescript sort of being, entirely indescribable.
As they came nearer they could hear him using the most dreadful kind of language; he was scolding the Seal, and calling him names in a most outrageous manner. He was so engrossed in pouring out this vituperation that he did not notice the approach of Tommy Toddles and his companions. The Seal was apparently greatly distressed over what Thingumbob was saying, for he held his fins up to his eyes, and wept bitterly. Neither the ex-Pirate nor the Sheep seemed in the least affected by the scene.
“What is that awful person doing?” asked Tommy, as they came quite close to him.
“Who? Thingumbob?” said the Sheep. “Oh, that’s all right! But I suppose you don’t understand. Look at him now,” Thingumbob was holding a dipper in front of the Seal’s face, and was catching the poor beast’s tears while he scolded him in the most dreadful manner.
“Thingumbob always does that,” the Sheep went on to say. “Whenever he meets a Seal he scolds him and blackguards him until the poor thing begins to cry. Then he catches the tears in his dipper, because Seals weep sealing-wax, you know.” Tommy did not know it, but he nodded his head and looked to the Sheep for more information. “Thingumbob is a great collector of sealing-wax. He has lots of it at home. All colors, you know. Most of it is red, though. Young Seals weep red sealing-wax, and it is easier to make them cry. If you just pinch a young Seal, or say ‘Booh!’ at him, he’ll cry. The middle-aged Seals weep yellow and blue and brown and black sealing-wax. The old fellows shed golden tears, but it’s pretty hard to make them cry.
“This one is crying in blue,” said Tommy, for they had now gotten close enough to Thingumbob and the Seal to be able to see the contents of the dipper. It was almost full of blue sealing-wax.
“Hello!” said Thingumbob, when he saw the three; and, turning toward them, he waved his dipper in a friendly sort of way.
“May I go now?” whimpered the Seal, seizing the opportunity to escape.
“Yes, you may go,” shouted Thingumbob, fiercely; “and don’t you let me catch you at it again!” The Seal hobbled off the rock toward the surf, shedding blue tears on the sand as he went (which Thingumbob carefully picked up as he followed along behind), and then jumped into the waves and disappeared.
“That’s pretty good for ten minutes’ talk, isn’t it?” remarked Thingumbob, holding out his dipper for the others to inspect.
“How did you get it?” asked the ex-Pirate.
“Oh, I scared him half to death. I told him he had been putting the Sea-Fox up to stealing my Chicken-Lobsters, and that I’d have him arrested and put up in an Eagle’s nest on top of a mountain.”
The Sheep and the ex-Pirate seemed to think what Thingumbob said was very funny, for they laughed and asked him a lot of questions. Tommy, in the meanwhile, was more interested in Thingumbob’s personal appearance than in what he said. He was certainly the queerest-looking creature the little boy had ever encountered. He never looked twice alike. When they had first come up Tommy thought Thingumbob had gray side whiskers, but as he looked now he had no whiskers at all. His pockets were stuffed and fairly bulging with all sorts of odds and ends, among which Tommy could see bits of string, pieces of spangled cloth, an old clock, a broken saw, a tin horn, a match-box, shells, ribbons, picture cards, and all sorts of trash. The ex-Pirate was evidently as much amused as Tommy at the sight of this odd collection of useless material sticking out of Thingumbob’s pockets; for he presently asked:
“What are you carrying all that stuff around for?”
“Oh, I always do,” replied Thingumbob.
“But it’s nothing but a lot of trash—a lot of trumpery,” said Tommy.
“I know it,” continued Thingumbob, calmly; “but don’t you know that you can always tell a man by the trumpery he keeps?” And having thus spoken, he sat down on a rock and began to brush his hair, using the bottom of his tin dipper for a mirror. It was a very old brush that he used, and it was very full of hairs, and as Thingumbob proceeded with his toilet he frequently paused to look at it. Finally he said to the Sheep, “I don’t know how it is about wool, but a hair on the head is worth, two in the brush.”
“So they say,” replied the Sheep; “but we have not time to stay here and discuss that. We want to find out about the fight.”
“It’s all over,” said Thingumbob.
“I forget,” he added. “Either the Sword-Fish or the Penguin won. I don’t remember which. But here come some Clams; perhaps they know.”
Just then, as Thingumbob had said, half a dozen Clams stepped out of the breakers, and strolled over to where Tommy and his friends were conversing.
With the Clams was a strange creature that looked to be half horse and half vegetable. It had four hoofs, and all the rest was leaves.
“What in the world is that with the Clams?” asked the little boy.
“That’s the Horse-Radish,” answered the Sheep.
“Horse-Radish always goes with Clams, you know,” said the ex-Pirate, condescendingly.
“Of course; I ought to have thought of that,” said Tommy. “And with Oysters, also.”
“But the Oysters are away now,” said one of the Clams, “They’ve gone away for the summer. They never stay about in May, June, July, and August,”
“Awfully high-toned mollusks, those Oysters,” sniffed a Little Neck Clam.
“Yes; just think of having four months’ vacation every year,” said another.
“I was talking with a little Oyster in his bed the other day,” continued the first Clam, “and he said four months wasn’t half enough.”
“He must have been a very young one,” ventured the Horse-Radish.
“That’s the way with those young ones,” commented Thingumbob. “You give them an Inch-Worm and they want an Elephant.”
“I notice the old Oysters are glad enough to get a rest of four months,” continued the Horse-Radish.
“I suppose they think half a loaf is better than no vacation at all.”
“How odd of them!” put in Tommy,
“Odd?” queried the ex-Pirate. “Don’t you like the Oysters? Or do you prefer the society of the Clams?”
“Oh? I like Oysters, and I like Clams too.”
“Clam stew!” shrieked the Little Neck Clam, in great dismay.
“Too,” said Tommy, who noticed that the Clams were becoming very much alarmed.
“Two?” repeated Thingumbob, with woful lack of tact; “why, I’ve seen chowders where there was only one Clam.” But this line of conversation had become so distasteful to the Clams that they were rapidly sinking into the sand. Thingumbob noticed this, and branched off on another subject. “I know why the Oysters go away in the summer,” he said; “it’s because they don’t like the Flies. The Flies go away in the winter, you know.”
“So do we,” said the Clam, now somewhat reassured,
“Where do the Flies go to?” asked Tommy. “I’ve always wondered where they went in the winter-time.”
“That’s what the pink-eyed Gosling asked,” said Thingumbob.
“He asked where the Flies went.”
“And it’s a classic, too. Another one of my classics,” put in the ex-Pirate. “Would you like to hear it?”
“Go ahead! Go ahead!” said Thingumbob, pounding on the rock with his dipper. “Go ahead, whether he wants to hear it or not. We’ll hold him.”
And so the ex-Pirate bowed to all, and began to recite, in his usual melodramatic manner:
“ ‘Where do the Flies go in winter-time?’
The pink-eyed Gosling asked.
‘They go to a balmy, distant clime,
Where the sun is never masked;
To a land where clouds are still unknown,
Where the cold north wind has never blown,
And the seeds of sin are yet unsown,
Where all is true and good.’
“ ‘And do the little Flies remain
All winter in this land,
Or do they find the constant strain
Too great for them to stand?
For, even with the little Flies,
It seems occasion must arise
To weary of the cloudless skies,
Where all is true and good.’
“The Gander knit his furrowed brow,
And frowned upon his child,
And said, ‘ ‘Tis plain to see that thou
Art yet both young and wild;
But harken to the old who preach,
And listen to the wise who teach.
Or else that land thou’lt never reach
Where all is true and good.’ ”
No one had apparently noticed it, but while the ex-Pirate was reciting; the six Clams had sunk into the sand until they were wholly out of sight, and the Horse-Radish had entirely withered away. Thingumbob sighed when it was all over, and began brushing his hair again. He also brushed his whiskers, for they had grown out anew. Presently he said,
“Since you are speaking poetry, how do you like this:
“Quoth the Codfish to the Pelican;
‘Can you swim as well as I?
If you do not know how well I can,
I’ll let you see me try.’ ”
“Is that all?” asked Tommy, after a pause.
“And what happened?”
“Nothing happened. Nothing ever happens,” added Thingumbob, rather peevishly. “For instance:
“The Zebra and the Crocodile,
The Quagga and the Gnu,
All started out one afternoon
To see what they could do.
“They wandered quite a long way off,
And had such loads of fun,
That when they came back home again
None knew what they had done.
And so, you see, practically, or as far as the outside world was concerned, nothing happened.”
The ex-Pirate pulled Tommy away a little to one side and whispered in his ear: “He’s that way. You see, he’s been talking too much. Let us leave him alone and go on our way.”
But Tommy suspected that the real reason why the ex-Pirate wanted to leave was because he was becoming jealous of Thingumbob. Nevertheless, as the Sheep was also inclined to proceed, they bade farewell to the queer creature and continued along the beach. Tommy noticed, as they walked on, that the beach gradually became, harder and harder to the step, and that the sand no longer gave way beneath his feet as softly as well-regulated sand should. He would not have minded such a thing, probably, if he had not been somewhat fatigued by his long walk; but he was a tired little boy by this time, and did not much care to have his progress made any more difficult. He looked down at the sand to see what the trouble was, and discovered that there was no longer any sand there at all. He was now walking along on shingles. He looked about him, and it seemed as if he and his companions were travelling on the roofs of houses that had been built so closely together that there was no room for streets in between them. And the rocks, too, that had been scattered along the shore had in some unaccountable manner disappeared to give place to chimneys, out of some of which thin clouds of smoke coiled skyward.
“Where are we now?” asked the little boy, when he had completely taken in the transformation of his surroundings.
“Where are we?” echoed the Sheep, as if he did not quite understand the question.
“Yes; what are we walking on?”
“Oh, I see. Why, this is the shingle beach. There aren’t many like this. Isn’t it queer? But we will be off of it in a minute,” and, sure enough, a few rods farther on the shingles melted into sand again, and the rocks ceased to be chimneys, and the landscape became as perfectly natural as it had been before.
“There it is!” shouted the ex-Pirate, just after they had left the shingle beach behind them. “There’s the Penguin’s house,” and he directed Tommy’s attention to a queer-looking structure about two hundred yards ahead of them, sheltered by a low cliff and well set back from the sea,
“Is that where the Penguin lives?”
“That’s the place. That’s his office, too. Don’t you see The Tidal Wave written over the door?”
Tommy Toddles had made up his mind not to be astonished any more at anything he might see that day, or he doubtless would have been much more impressed than he was with the Penguin’s mansion, and later with the Penguin himself and with his queer establishment. The house was built of oyster and clam shells, and had four columns in front of it. These columns were profusely decorated with lobster claws and crabs and starfish, and supported a sort of triangular pediment, along the base of which was written in shiny pebbles the name of the Penguin’s newspaper, and on the apex of which roosted a large stone Gargoyle—that is, he looked to be of stone, for he was gray of color and sat perfectly still; but as the three came nearer, Tommy could plainly see that the thing had red eyes, and that the red eyes were firmly fixed on him. The house was fairly large, and had a wide front door and several windows, through which, even from a distance, you could see into the interior of the rooms, where the Penguin appeared to be very busy at his work.
On the steps outside were a crowd of little Crabs that were all talking at once, and pitching pennies and squabbling with one another, just like a pack of very badly behaved young crustaceans that they were.
The Sheep stepped up to the house and knocked on the door with his gold-headed cane, and when the Penguin came in person to see what was wanted he introduced Tommy and the ex-Pirate.
“We have come,” began the Sheep, “to—”
But the Penguin interrupted him, and said, in a nervous, jerky manner: “I hope you will excuse me, but I am very busy just at present. If you will come in and sit down I shall be through with my work in a short while, and will then be able to spare you a few moments of my very valuable time.”
So saying, he nodded his head to each one of them and hurried back into his office, where he climbed on a high stool, leaned over his desk, and began to write assiduously. He wrote so fast that every few minutes his pens gave out from sheer friction; but the editor had a Porcupine tied to his stool, and every time a pen broke he leaned over and pulled a quill out of the captive at his feet. The only fun the Porcupine seemed to get out of life was to roll over and jab the office Catfish in the ribs every time he got a chance, a proceeding which was not only exceedingly distasteful to the office Catfish, but it likewise greatly annoyed and disturbed the Penguin. The only other living being in the editorial-room was the printer’s Devil-Fish, who seemed to be compositor, pressman, proof-reader, and everything else all rolled into one. He was the busiest creature Tommy had seen since he bade good-bye to the Reformed Burglar. Occasionally, when the Crabs made so much of a racket outside that the Penguin could no longer hear the wheels turning in his head, the printer’s Devil-Fish would leave his work and spare a minute to jump up on the window-sill and shout:
“See here, you newsboys out there! If you don’t make less noise I’ll have you all deviled.”
“What does he mean by that?” asked Tommy,
“Haven’t you ever heard of deviled Crabs?” said the ex-Pirate.
“Yes; but how can the printers Devil-Fish devil Crabs?”
“You ought to hear him sometimes,” remarked the Sheep. Then, reflectively, “Those newsboys are a bad lot.”
“Are the Crabs the newsboys?” queried the little boy,
“Surely. They have to be. They are the only ones who can run around as easily on land as under water, They distribute the extras along the shore, and they also skim along the bottom of the sea and up the rivers, and sell the papers to the fishes. I guess the Penguin is getting out an extra now. That’s why he’s so busy.”
“We forgot to ask him who won,” put in the ex-Pirate.
“Well, let’s go out and ask the Gargoyle about it.”
“Do you think we can get him to come off the roof?”
“I guess so. He must be in good humor to-day; the sun is out.”
“Is not he good-humored unless the sun is out?” asked Tommy,
“No, indeed. The Gargoyle is greatly influenced and affected by the weather. On cloudy days he is glum and morose and disagreeable, and won’t speak to any one; and on rainy days he becomes very sad and weeps.”
Whereupon, without warning, the ex-Pirate began:
“The Gargoyle roosts fantastically
On the curling eaves,
His head’s thrust out bomabastically:
All things he perceives.
“His stony eyes stare very steadily
At everything below,
And when it rains they very readily
Shed quarts of tears or so.
Thus, wrapt in moisture and obscurity,
His lonely watch he keeps,
And at the thought of grim futurity
“I had never noticed that about Gargoyles,” remarked Tommy, “but I suppose it must be true.”
“Of course it’s true,” exclaimed the ex-Pirate, who was inclined to take Tommy’s half-implied doubt as a personal injury. “If you don’t believe it, ask the Gargoyle.”
They all three stepped out in front of the house, and the Sheep, bowing politely to the Gargoyle up above him, asked him if he would not come off the roof.
“I will, with the greatest of pain,” replied the Gargoyle, blinking his red eyes at the Sheep. Then he began to move along down the edge of the pediment, slowly and awkwardly.
“He’s got the rheumatism badly,” said the ex-Pirate.
“What can you expect?” retorted the Sheep. “He stays out all night. No wonder he has the rheumatism.”
“And he is all covered with moss,” remarked Tommy.
“Oh, that’s nothing,” said the Sheep, “That’s merely a sign of his green old age.”
The Gargoyle slipped carefully down one of the pillars, and hobbled stiffly over to where Tommy and his friends were seated in the sand on the opposite side of the house from where the Crabs were making so much noise, and with a series of grunts and moans he sat down himself,
“It’s all right,” he began, “as soon as I get fixed; but it’s no fun getting fixed.”
Tommy got near enough to the Gargoyle to feel of him, and he found that he was as hard and as cold as a stone. The little boy, of course, had marvelled at hearing the animals converse, but words from a stone image filled his cup of amazement to the brim. This brief interval of wonderment and reflection drew his mind back to the point he had started from (viz,, his stray animals), and he bethought him, with a twinge of conscience, that for some time past he had neglected to make the diligent inquiries he should have made along the route. So he hastened to speak to the Gargoyle before the ex-Pirate had time to put his question about the result of the duel.
“Have you seen any animals to-day, Mr. Gargoyle?”
“Crowds of animals; I never saw so many in all my existence, and I have been carved a long while.”
“Did you see my animals?”
“What are they like?”
This was a poser for Tommy, because he felt that he really did not know what his toys were like, since they had taken it upon themselves to grow up and become animated and walk away. So he answered, non-committally:
“Oh, just like animals,” which conveyed but little information to the Gargoyle. Then, in the brief pause that followed, the ex-Pirate jumped into the conversation with his questions:
“The animals were here to see the duel, I suppose.”
“And who won?”
“Who won?” exclaimed the Gargoyle, in amazement, “The Penguin, of course. He is getting out an extra, now, with an account of the fight in it. It is to be illustrated with pictures of himself and of the Sword-Fish, and the Sword-Fish’s father and mother and his two little daughters, and the rocks near which he was born, and the school-books he used when he was a little Sword-Fish, and all sorts of things that have nothing to do with the matter at hand.”
“Indeed,” said the Sheep.
“Certainly,” continued the Gargoyle, “and I suggested the head-line for the main story myself.”
“What is it?”
“It is brief and to the point. It sums up the whole situation in one sentence, thus:
“ ‘The Penguin Is Mightier Than The Sword-Fish.’ ”
“That’s pretty good,” said the ex-Pirate; “but, you know, we have not heard anything at all about the duel yet. And you must have had a splendid view of it from the house-top. Won’t you tell us something about it?”
“Certainly,” answered the Gargoyle, good-naturedly, “But afterward you must buy a Tidal Wave extra, and read about it for yourselves.”
They agreed to do this, and the Gargoyle then began to relate the incidents of the fight.
The Gargoyle shifted about in the sand until he got his stone legs comfortably fixed, and blinked his red eyes at his auditors, especially at Tommy, who sat beside him with his legs crossed, like a tailor, and his face resting on his hands, his elbows on his knees. The little boy was all attention.
“It was the largest congregation of animals I ever witnessed,” began the stone image. “There were more here today than I ever saw at a Jabbergather.”
“What is a Jabbergather?” interrupted Tommy,
“Tell him what a jabbergather is,” said the Gargoyle, turning to the Sheep,
“A Jabbergather,” explained the latter, somewhat ungrammatically, “is when the animals gather together and jabber about things that have happened.”
“Oh, a sort of five-o’clock tea,” said Tommy.
“No,” replied the Gargoyle; “because a Jabbergather is always held at night, and they don’t drink tea. They eat mushrooms.”
“How indigestible,” thought Tommy,
“And you must not interrupt any more,” said the Sheep, severely.
“Well,” continued the Gargoyle, without heeding the Sheep’s remonstrance to the little boy. “there were about twice as many animals as come to a Jabbergather, and the fishes all sat on the waves, many rows of them, reaching far out to sea.”
“Like seats in a theatre,” put in Tommy.
“Shut up!” growled the Sheep, and Tommy subsided again.
“Of course the Penguin and the Sword-Fish were ready to fight, and the Horned Owl, who was to be referee, was on hand. But just before the duel began there was a great rumpus on the third wave from the front, which created such a commotion that we had to send a Monkey and a Porpoise out there to see what the trouble was.”
“How did you happen to send a Monkey?” asked Tommy, much to the Sheep’s evident displeasure.
“We sent him on Porpoise,” answered the Gargoyle. “They came back and told us that the Sole and the Flounder were sitting on the same wave and had gotten into a row.”
“The same old dispute, I suppose,” remarked the Sheep.
“The same one they had at the last Jabbergather,” assented the Gargoyle.
“And what did they dispute about?” asked Tommy, who was very anxious to know all about what was going on.
“May I tell him?” urged the ex-Pirate. “I’ve made a classic out of it.”
“Certainly, go ahead,” said the Gargoyle, who did not appear to be at all annoyed by these continual interruptions.
“Said the Sole to the Flounder,
‘You shameless old rounder,
I’d have you to understand clearly
That your constant assumption
Of my rightful function
Shall be punished—and punished severely.’
“But the Flounder, he laughed
And gurgled and chaffed,
And said without any apology,
‘If Men are such Moles
They take Flounders for Soles
I’m sure I can’t teach ichthyology.’ ”
“Uncle Dick told me once that you could not tell a Flounder from a Sole,” ventured Tommy. But the Sheep frowned severely at this, and said: “Now, nobody must interrupt any more;” and the Gargoyle then proceeded with his narrative.
“After the Sole and the Flounder had been separated, the Horned Owl called Time, who came in out of the past and sat down on his hour-glass at the side of the ring. The duel then began. The Sword-Fish fought with his sword, and the Penguin fought with a long pen that looked like a spear. I tell you it was exciting! They jabbed and struck each other, and ran around on the sand, and fell down and got up again, and all the animals kept shrieking and shouting, and the seals kept yelling, ‘rah! rah! hah!’ It was immense! Time must have gotten scared, for he flew. The duel kept on, nevertheless, and pretty soon the Sword-Fish began to show signs of weariness. The Penguin kept jabbing him with his pen, and thrusting at him until he finally knocked him down, and the Sword-Fish cried for mercy. The Horned Owl called Time again, but Time had flown so fast that he was away up in the clouds. So the Horned Owl looked at him and said Time was up, and then the fight was all over, and the Penguin had proved himself to be mightier than the Sword-Fish.”
The Gargoyle had scarcely finished his story when there was a great hubbub in the direction of the house, and hundreds of little Crabs came surging around the corner shouting at the tops of their voices:
“Extra! Extray! Extree! All about de big fight!”
They scampered off in all directions along the beach, and some of them rushed into the breakers and disappeared under the sea. They all had little bundles of papers under their arms, and were hastening away to dispose of their wares.
“The extra is out,” said the Gargoyle. “You can get one now and read a detailed account of the great battle for yourselves.”
“How curious!” mused Tommy, “I never thought before to look to see if little crabs were carrying anything when I have seen them running along the beach.”
When all the Crabs had disappeared the Printer’s Devil-Fish came out and sat on the front stoop of the house, and presently the Penguin himself sauntered over to the group sitting in the sand and stood beside them.
“Now,” he said to the Sheep, “I am at your disposal.”
“I don’t suppose it’s of any use for me to ask you if you have seen my animals?” said Tommy, before the Sheep could answer.
“Not of the slightest use,” replied the Penguin, haughtily. “Editors never see anything,” and to emphasize this statement he took a pair of blue spectacles, which he had been holding in one hand, and put them on. “We look at everything through colored glasses.”
“More’s the pity,” said the Sheep. “But if you have not actually seen the animals, can’t you tell us what direction they took when they went away?”
“Certainly,” said the Penguin. “They started that way.”
“Yes, that way,” repeated the Gargoyle; “off over the dunes and in toward the hills and the forest.”
“Then we must go that way too,” said Tommy, getting up from the sand, feeling very much rested; and his companions did likewise, and they all bade farewell to the stone image and to the Penguin. As they passed over the dunes they looked back and saw the Gargoyle laboriously climbing back to his perch on the house-top.
“He’s that way,” murmured the ex-Pirate, sighing deeply.
The three walked for some time in silence over sand-hills and through underbrush, and pretty soon they took a road that led through broad and sunny fields.
Away off, as far as they could see, Tommy noticed a cloud of dust, and what looked to him like a moving crowd of some sort.
“Those must be my animals!” he exclaimed.
The ex-Pirate climbed up on a fence, and put his hand up over his eyes, and stared as hard as he could at the things the little boy had pointed out to him,
“They are animals,” he said, finally. “I can see them plainly. There are two of each kind, and they are walking in pairs.”
“Those are mine, surely!” cried the little boy, now greatly excited, “Let’s run and catch up with them.”
“Yes, let’s run,” chimed both the Sheep and the ex-Pirate; and the three immediately started off at break-neck speed down the road in the direction of the dust cloud. Tommy felt as though he had never run so fast in his life. The fence posts and bushes fairly whizzed past him. His companions kept pretty well abreast of him at first, but they gradually fell behind, and after a while, when Tommy looked back over his shoulder, they appeared only like specks far back on the yellow highway. The little boy tried to slow up in order to wait for them, but his legs had got to going so fast that he could not stop himself. He was travelling along the road at a terrific rate, and all the time he was rapidly approaching the procession of animals that now seemed to be fully life-size. The lions and tigers and leopards looked very fierce, and yet Tommy felt as if he could not stop himself from running right into them, and he began to get very much frightened. Pretty soon he was almost on top of the guinea-pigs, and in his terror he stumbled head over heels, and shouted:
“Oh! oh! oh!”
Then he opened his eyes and found himself lying on his back on his own window-seat in the play-room, and his mother was leaning over him in the twilight.
“Come, little man, wake up,” she said, as she pushed his hair back from over his little warm face and eyes. “You have been sleeping here like a little pig all the afternoon.”
“Have I?” said Tommy, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. “And, oh, Mamma, I’ve had such a funny dream,” he added. Then he looked at his Noah’s Ark on the floor, and saw his wooden animals standing two and two, just as he had placed them there hours ago. “I have been dreaming about them, Mamma,” he continued, pointing to his toys. “I thought they had run away and I went after them, and I had such a long journey, and saw all sorts of things—Burglars, Pirates, and a nice woolly Sheep, and a Penguin, a Loon, a Welsh-Rabbit, a Gargoyle, and the queerest creature in the world, called Thingumbob.”
“I’m afraid that two pieces of plum-pudding are too much for my little boy,” said his mother, with a smile, “But come down to supper now, and there you may tell us all about your wonderful dream.”
So he washed his face and hands and went down with his mother to the dining-room, and after supper he told them all about these really very wonderful adventures.”
In The Ark
It took a long time for Tommy Toddles to recover from the exquisite sensation of surprise and wonder which clung to him after his strange adventures with the Sheep and the ex-Pirate. He used to talk to his Uncle Dick continually of what he had seen and done during that famous afternoon, and many and many a time the two went out into the woods together and searched through the bushes and the trees for the haunt of the Loon, and for the lake by the side of which had stood the Poorhouse. But they never found anything; and Tommy was consequently forced to sit at home and content himself with recollections and reminiscences—“which are decidedly unsatisfactory substitutes,” thought he.
So it frequently happened that the little boy sat all alone in the big room at the top of the house, and went over and over again in his mind those peculiar incidents in which so many strange creatures had figured, and in which so many odd things had been said and done. But one rainy day he seemed to be more affected by his reminiscences than he had ever been before, and so he settled back on the window-seat, and gave himself up entirely to thoughts of the ex-Pirate, the Sheep, the Reformed Burglar, and of all the quaint creatures of his acquaintance. He was smiling quietly to himself at some of the funny things Thingumbob had said on the beach, when all of a sudden he thought he heard somebody knocking on the door. Nobody ever knocked before coming into Tommy’s playroom, and so the little boy looked up in a curious way, wondering who it could be, and wishing that no one would come in to disturb his reverie. The door was ajar, and he could see that there was some person standing out in the hall. Presently there was another knock. Tommy straightened up on the window-seat, and called out,
The door swung slowly inward, and who should be standing there looking straight at Tommy but his old friend the ex-Pirate! It was the same old ex-Pirate of days and days ago, with his fierce mustaches and long hair, and his big pistols sticking out of his sash. He looked at Tommy for a moment, just as if he wanted to make sure that he was calling on the right little boy, and then a pleasant smile spread all over his face, and he walked rapidly across the room. Tommy jumped from the window-seat and hastened to meet him,
“Why, I’m awfully glad to see you!” he exclaimed. “How do you do, Mr. ex-Pirate? And how did you get up here?”
The ex-Pirate laughed, and shook hands with Tommy, and then he said: “Oh, I just came. Things come and go, you know; and I just came. Wasn’t it nice?”
“Awfully nice,” said Tommy, enthusiastically. “I’ve been thinking a lot about you. I was beginning to think you were not real.”
“Oh yes, I’m real,” asserted the ex-Pirate. “Just as real as you are.”
“Perhaps I’m not real,” suggested Tommy; and then, becoming alarmed at the thought, he felt in his pockets, and pulled at his hair to see if he were all there. Reassured on that point, he added, “Where is the Sheep?”
“I guess he’s running yet,” answered the ex-Pirate, laughing. “Poor fellow; I left him ‘way behind. But I never saw anybody run like you in all my life. You ran faster than Time, and Time runs pretty fast now, I tell you! He can go pretty near as fast as Money—and you know how fast Money goes.”
Tommy did not know how fast money went, because he had never seen very much of it, but he thought that, from the nature of his past business, the ex-Pirate must have had wide experience in those matters. So he said, “I suppose so.”
“That’s right,” continued the ex-Pirate. “that’s perfectly right. But I ran as fast as I could, and I’ve only just arrived.”
“You must be tired,” remarked the little boy.
“Not at all. I never get tired. I’m ready to keep right on, if you want to.”
“Keep right on?” queried Tommy.
“Why, looking for the animals,” replied the ex-Pirate.
“But I found them,” said Tommy.
“You did?” exclaimed the ex-Pirate, in surprise.
“Certainly. They were right here.”
“Right in this room.”
“Well, where are they now?”
Tommy Toodles would have given his word, fifteen minutes before the ex-Pirate asked him this question, that his Noah’s Ark with the animals in it was on the floor near the table; but when he went to look for it to show it to his friend he could not find it anywhere.
“It’s gone,” he said, finally, after several minutes of vain searching under tables and sofas. “It’s gone, and all the animals too.”
“They’ve gone?” repeated the ex-Pirate.
“Yes,” said Tommy, dejectedly, “they’ve gone away again. Not only the animals, but the Ark.”
“The Ark!” exclaimed the ex-Pirate.
“Certainly,” said Tommy. “My animals belonged in the Ark. There were two of each.”
“In Noah’s Ark?” said the ex-Pirate.
“Yes; did you never see one?”
“Why, what nonsense!” laughed the ex-Pirate, “That was hundreds and hundreds of years ago.”
“I know it was,” said Tommy, with dignity. “But my animals were imitations.”
The ex-Pirate was gazing absent-mindedly out of the window over toward the ocean. “Your animals had invitations?” he said presently, recovering himself, “Of course. They all did. The Ark was no promiscuous affair. There was admission by card only. All those that had invitations got in; the others got drowned.”
Tommy saw that the ex-Pirate did not quite understand what he had said to him, so he thought it would be wiser to branch out on some other topic; but before he could do so his visitor remarked,
“They had lots of fun in the Ark,” and he chuckled to himself.
“How do you know?” asked the little boy.
“The Sheep told me. He was one of the Few Hundred. I should like to have been on board too.”
“So should I,” assented Tommy, eagerly, “especially if they were all as nice as the animals we met the other day.”
“It would have been fun to take that trip,” continued the ex-Pirate, musingly. “I don’t know but that we can, even now, fix it to go on board.”
“On board the Ark?” cried Tommy,
“Exactly. We would have to go a long way back through the Ages; but perhaps we can fix that up with old Father Time. He might take us back and let us go aboard,”
Tommy stared vacantly at his peculiar companion, and wondered silently if he had gone mad. Pretty soon the ex-Pirate said,
“On board the Ark.”
“How shall we do it?” asked Tommy, who felt that it could do no harm to humor his caller.
“We will find Father Time, and see if he will go backward for us. Where is the clock?”
“In the hall down-stairs,” answered the little boy.
The two went out into the corridor and down the stairs to where the old Dutch clock stood under the staircase, ticking loudly through the silent house. It was much taller than either Tommy or the ex-Pirate, and as they approached the little boy was amazed to see the clock’s face brighten up and smile, and wave its hands in greeting to the ex-Pirate. The latter returned the courteous salute, and knocked on the door below. The door immediately opened, and old Father Time, with his scythe and his hour-glass, stepped out into the hallway, and nodded cheerfully to the ex-Pirate.
“How do you do?” said he.
“Sixty seconds to the minute, as usual,” answered Father Time, genially. “What can I do for you?”
“Can you go back a little?” asked the ex-Pirate, inquiringly.
“What for?” asked Father Time.
And then the ex-Pirate started in to explain what he wanted. His argument was most involved, and Tommy Toddles could not follow it at all; but the ex-Pirate kept on talking as fast and as impressively us he could, and occasionally he pulled out his pistols and shook them vigorously in the air over his head, Father Time listened attentively, and shook his head negatively for a long time, but finally he appeared to yield to the ex-Pirate’s persuasive arguments, and when he spoke he said he would do what was wanted,
“Will you go?” said the ex-Pirate, turning quickly to Tommy. The little boy hesitated a moment, because he did not know exactly where the ex-Pirate wanted him to go, or how long he would be gone if he went; he hesitated, but it was only for a moment, because he soon noticed that Father Time was growing impatient, and the ex-Pirate looked slightly displeased at the delay.
“Oh yes, I’ll go,” he said, impulsively.”
He had hardly spoken these words when Father Time slung his scythe and his hour-glass over his shoulders, grabbed the ex-Pirate with one hand and seized Tommy with the other. Then the old Dutch clock began buzzing and whizzing, as if all the wheels were revolving as fast as they could turn; and they must have been, for when Tommy glanced at the face of the clock to see what the hour was the hands were racing around so fast that he could hardly see them—and they were turning in the opposite direction from the way clock hands usually travel. There was no time to notice this slight peculiarity, however, for the little boy felt himself rudely jerked off his feet, held firmly by the tight grasp of Father Time, and before he could exclaim, or object, or expostulate, he saw himself flying through space at what seemed to be the rate of many hundreds of miles a minute. Father Time was vigorously working his wings, and was speeding backward, his long gray beard flowing in the wind between Tommy and the ex-Pirate, who were sticking out straight behind, and neither had breath enough left to be able to say anything.
As soon as Tommy recovered his self-possession—or as much of it as he could under these trying circumstances—he opened his eyes and looked about him. He could not see much, for they were apparently racing down a dark, narrow corridor, “like a telegram in a pneumatic tube,” he thought. But his eyes gradually grew accustomed to the darkness, and he could see that there were pictures on the walls—battle pictures, and scenes representing all sorts of historical events. He caught a glimpse of Washington crossing the Delaware, and of the battle of Bunker Hill; he saw the taking of the Bastille, and the great London fire. Soon he saw the Spanish Armada and the Crusades, and, later, the burning of Rome, Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon, the siege of Carthage, the building of the Parthenon, the destruction of Troy, the fall of Babylon, and afterward many other things that be could not recognise. They all seemed to whiz past him in a sort of confused blur. He screwed up courage enough finally to call out to the ex-Pirate:
“Wh-wh-wh-at is th-this pl-pla-ce, and how l-long are we g-going to go l-like th-this?”
“Th-th-these are the halls of Time!” the ex-Pirate shouted in reply. “We are going back through them as far as the Deluge!”
This explanation was not very satisfactory to Tommy, and although up to the present moment he had not had a chance to think of getting scared, he now began to feel slightly alarmed at what had happened. He was about to question the ex-Pirate again, when suddenly there was a great burst of light, and they seemed to shoot out of the tunnel they had been travelling through. Tommy felt the grasp of Father Time’s hand loosen, and the next thing he knew he was rolling head over heels on top of a big hay-stack in the middle of a broad, sunny field. He pulled himself together as soon as he could, and found the ex-Pirate sitting in the hay beside him with a somewhat bewildered expression on his face.
“I don’t think I like that sort of thing very much,” remarked Tommy,
“I can’t quite say that I do either,” said the ex-Pirate, feeling to see if his pistols were still in his sash.
“Where is Father Time?” continued the little boy,
“I don’t know. Perhaps he is going ahead again now at his regular rate of sixty seconds to the minute.”
Tommy scratched his head meditatively and looked about him. The field in which the haystack stood was surrounded by hills and forests, and here and there could be seen various kinds of animals travelling in pairs. Over the crests of the trees, directly in front of them, the little boy espied something that looked like the roof of an immense barn. He called the ex-Pirate’s attention to it.
“That must be the Ark,” said the latter, rising. “Let’s go and find out.”
They clambered down the hay-stack into the field, and started off in the direction of the woods. There was not any path for them to follow, and occasionally they had to wade through tall grass that reached almost up to their waists. In one of these clumps of herbage they heard voices.
“Oh dear! oh dear!” said one voice, “I am sure we shall be late. We are always late. Oh dear! oh dear! I wonder what time it is!”
Tommy and the ex-Pirate stopped and looked about them; but they could not see any one, and were about to proceed on their way, when they heard the same plaint again. They parted the tall grasses and searched in the direction whence the sounds appeared to come, until they found two Turtles plodding along as fast as they could over the rough ground. It was the larger of the two Turtles that was wailing over the probability of their being late in arriving wherever they were going.
“What’s the matter?” asked the ex-Pirate.
The Turtles paused and looked up.
“The matter?” exclaimed the larger Turtle, “Look at this,” and he pulled a newspaper clipping out from under his shell. “I am sure we shall be late,”
The ex-Pirate took the piece of paper and looked at it. It was an advertisement:
“I am sure we shall, miss the boat,” continued the Turtle, nervously. “What time is it, please?”
Tommy and the ex-Pirate looked at each other. Neither one had a watch.
“I can’t tell you what time it is,” answered the little boy. “I’m not big enough to have a watch; and the last time I saw the clock it was going so fast I could not tell what time it was.”
“Well,” said the Turtle, “you are more polite than the Cuckoos, anyway. But I am sure we shall be late.”
“I guess not,” said the ex-Pirate, reassuringly. “Don’t get nervous about it. There is always a delay. The Ark won’t sail on time. And besides, they will have to wait for the mails.”
“Oh no,” persisted the Turtle. “They won’t have to wait for the males, because we are going aboard in pairs.”
“Can’t we carry the poor things?” suggested Tommy. “It would be too bad if they got left.”
The Turtle looked up at the little boy with an expression of overwhelming gratitude. This was all that was needed to persuade the ex-Pirate, and so he and Tommy leaned over and each picked up a Turtle and tucked it under his arm.
“This reminds me of a conversation I overheard once,” said the ex-Pirate, as they started off again. “I made a classic out of it; and as the Sheep is not here to object now, I will recite it to you:
“ ‘It is much to be regretted,’
Said the Turtle to the Snail,
That as rapid-transit creatures
We so signally must fail.
“‘But yet we should be thankful
That Nature still allows us
To carry on our weary backs
The wherewithal to house us.’ ”
“Correct!” blurted out the Turtle from under the ex-Pirate’s arm. “Is there any danger of these pistols going off?”
“No,” replied the ex-Pirate; “they are loaded.”
“That’s all right, then,” he said, with a sigh of relief; “I was afraid they were not loaded.”
Tommy and the ex-Pirate, with the Turtles under their arms, picked their way slowly through the trees toward the Ark, They proceeded in silence for some moments, until the little boy, who had apparently been thinking very seriously about something, asked:
“What did the Turtle mean by saying we are more polite than the Cuckoos?”
“Haven’t you ever heard about what the old Turtle did to the Cuckoos with Agathea’s wish-box?” returned the ex-Pirate.
“I never did,” said Tommy. “Can’t you tell me now as we go along?”
“Well, it was a long time ago, of course,” began the ex-Pirate, complaisantly; “almost long enough ago for me to begin by saying, ‘Once upon a time . . .’ But I won’t say that if you don’t like it.
“The old Turtle lived down by the swamp, and had a very easy time of it, and withal was a very good old Turtle. One day he got a message from his brother, who lived near the pond over the hill, saying that two little new Turtlets had just arrived, and asking him to come over to the christening the next day. So the Turtle got up bright and early that morning, and polished his shell until it shone in the sunlight like burnished gold, and then he started off along the road toward the pond. He had not gone very far when he came to a beautiful wild-rose bush in full bloom, and underneath it sat Agathea, the pretty little forest fairy.
“ ‘Good-morning, Mr. Turtle,’ said Agathea.
“ ‘Good-morning, pretty one,’ answered the Turtle, very politely. ‘You look as sweet as the dawn of a May morning.’
“ ‘And where are you going so early m the day?’ asked the Fairy, blushing with pleasure at the Turtle’s compliment,
“ ‘I’m going over the hill and down to the pond, where my brother has two little Turtlets that are to be christened to-day.’
“‘Two little Turtlets!’ exclaimed Agathea. ‘And will you take them a present from me?’
“ ‘With the greatest pleasure,’ said the Turtle, for he knew that a present from the forest fairy could not but be welcome to his nephews.
“Agathea picked up a little box from the moss under the rose-bush, and handed it to the Turtle.
“ ‘In this box,’ she said, ‘is a wish. You may have it. Think of what you would most like to happen, and say the words out loud when you open the box. Then your wish will come true. Be very careful about keeping the box closed until you get to the christening, for if you should wish for something on the way and open the box, then that wish would be granted. You must wish in the presence of the ones the wish is to affect. So be careful, and wish in the presence of the Turtlets.’
“Saying this, Agathea gave the box to the Turtle, and bade him good luck on his journey. He thanked her effusively, and continued on his way. He plodded along up the hill, which was a good deal longer and a good deal steeper than he had expected to find it, and after a while, as the sun kept getting higher and higher in the heavens, he began to fear he would be late at the christening. So he hurried on as fast as he could, and soon he found himself passing through a wood where there were any number of Cuckoos. They all appeared to be very busy building nests for the little Cuckoos, and they did not pay much attention to old Uncle Turtle, who was crawling along as hard as he could with his wish-box in one hand. Pretty soon he stopped and spoke to one of the Cuckoos.
“ ‘Good-morning, Mr. Cuckoo,’ he said. ‘Can you tell me what time it is?’
“But the Cuckoo was so busy that he did not pay any attention to the Turtle’s request, and presently flew away. The Turtle went on a little farther and met another.
“ ‘Please, Mr. Cuckoo,’ he began, ‘can you tell me what time it is? I am going to the christening of the little Turtlets, and I am afraid I shall be late.’
“ ‘I guess you will,’ answered the Cuckoo; and he went on building his nest, but he wouldn’t tell the Turtle what time it was. The latter was getting very angry by this time, because he had never been treated so impolitely before by the Cuckoos or by any one else, but he went on a little farther, and every time he met a Cuckoo he asked what time it was. Some of them paid no attention to him, others said they did not know the hour, and others again told him they had no time to stop and fuss with Turtles. So the Turtle kept getting angrier and angrier, and by the time he had reached the top of the hill he was the angriest old Turtle you ever saw. There he met two more Cuckoos, and he spoke to these as a last effort.
“ ‘Please, Mr. and Mrs. Cuckoo, what time of day is it? I am going to the christening of the little Turtlets, and—’
“ ‘Bother the Turtlets,’ said one of the Cuckoos, sharply.
“ ‘We don’t know what time it is,’ added the other.
“These replies made the Turtle so angry that he did not know what to do. He looked down at his box, and on seeing it, he remembered that by opening it he could have any wish he wanted. So for the moment he forgot all about the Turtlets, and he said to himself, ‘I’ll just wish something about these Cuckoos that will make them sorry they did not tell me what time it was.’
“Then he crawled up on a stone, and prepared to open the box, saying out loud as he did so:
“ ‘May all the Cuckoos that ever live be compelled to tell the time of day, Every hour shall they call the time out loud, so that all within hearing may know.”
“And as he said this, the Turtle opened the box and let the Wish escape. All at once every Cuckoo in the woods began to tell him what time it was, and from what they said he knew it was almost too late for the christening, But he hurried on, and when he came to the pond he told the Turtlets all about what had happened to him, and although they were not much pleased at the use he had made of Agathea’s gift (for little Turtles have no appreciation of time), yet they were so glad to see their uncle that they did not cry.
“And so,” concluded the ex-Pirate, “on account of the Turtle’s wish, every Cuckoo has to call out the time of day every hour in the twenty-four.”
“But there aren’t any Cuckoos here,” blurted out the Turtle who had first spoken, “and I am sure we shall be late.”
As they advanced they could hear sounds as of a vast congregation of creatures, and at last, when they came to the edge of the woods, they looked out upon a broad plain, in the centre of which rested the huge house-boat that Noah had constructed. Around it were gathered hundreds and hundreds of animals, and in the air above were flying countless birds.
“Why, that Ark is just like mine!” exclaimed Tommy, “only a million times larger.” The ex-Pirate looked at him in a half-surprised way, but made no reply.
“I guess you can drop us here,” Said Tommy’s Turtle; “and we are ever so much obliged.” As soon as the two creatures had been put down upon the ground again they scampered off in the direction of the Ark as fast as their legs would carry them.
“Now what shall we do?” said Tommy.
“I guess we had better hold a council of war. When you don’t know what to do, always hold a council of war,” answered the ex-Pirate, and the two sat down in the shade of a big oak to consult.
Tommy often wondered afterward why it was that he did not feel frightened when he found himself so close to this great congress of wild animals But at the time he did not feel in the least alarmed, and he and the ex-Pirate sat quietly together under the oak planning as to what they had better do. Perhaps Tommy felt no fear because all the animals seemed to be on such good terms with one another, and so gave evidence that they would not harm any one else. The little boy noticed the Lion and the Lamb lying down together; the Fox was playing tag with the Geese (“Fox and Geese, I suppose,” thought Tommy); the Red Wolf was strolling about, arm in arm with a bearded Goat and his Kids; and half a dozen Mice were having all sorts of fun with an old Tomcat who wanted to sleep.
“I guess the only thing for us to do,” remarked the ex-Pirate at last, “is to just walk over and go aboard. There’s no use sitting here any longer. We have not any umbrellas, and it is liable to begin to rain at any moment, Let’s try our luck.”
“Perhaps it would be best for us to walk around to the other side,” suggested Tommy, “There doesn’t seem to be so many animals there.”
His companion approved of this, and they started off together, making a circuit which soon brought them to the other side of the huge house-boat. There were scarcely any beasts in sight, and so they boldly approached the great craft which towered high up above their heads. When they had come quite close, the ex-Pirate’s keen eye caught sight of a small port-hole near the stern, and after calling Tommy’s attention to it they decided to try to get in that way. The port-hole was very narrow, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the two managed to squeeze through. But they succeeded, nevertheless, and found themselves in a sort of dark chamber where there was a ladder that led to the upper regions of the Ark.
“We’re all right now,” said the ex-Pirate. “Do you think this will be too much for you?”
“What?” asked Tommy, who did not quite understand.
“Not a bit. Why?”
“It’s more than you.”
“How do you mean?” asked the little boy, now somewhat puzzled.
“You are a lad, aren’t you?” said the ex-Pirate.
“Well, this is a ladder.”
There was not anything that Tommy could very well answer to any such statement; but then he had long since given up any idea of following the peculiar arguments and reasonings of the ex-Pirate. Yet, in order to show him that, even if the ladder was more than he, he was certainly equal to climbing it, he seized the rungs and clambered up. It ended at a trap-door which, when lifted, opened into a very large room that appeared to occupy the entire length of the Ark.
“Aha!” exclaimed the ex-Pirate. “This is where they have the boxing-matches.”
“Will they have any?” asked Tommy, eagerly, and his eyes opened very wide.
“I don’t know,” returned the ex-Pirate, “but this is the spar-deck.”
“How did you get here?” suddenly asked a familiar voice from behind them; which so startled Tommy that he almost stepped into the open trap. When he looked around he saw, to his great joy, that it was the Sheep.
“Oh, we just came,” answered the ex-Pirate, quickly. “Things come and things go, you know.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that before,” interrupted the Sheep. “But if Noah catches you, he’ll put you ashore.”
“But we don’t want to go ashore,” said Tommy, who at seeing his old friend the Sheep had entirely recovered from his momentary alarm.
“Well, I’m very busy now,” continued the latter, “and the animals will be coming in pretty soon. If you want to see them, you had better go up to the other end of the Ark and sit on a rafter over the entrance. But don’t let the Bull see you. He’s in a mighty bad humor. Good-bye,” and the Sheep trotted off and disappeared almost as suddenly as he had come.
“Guess we’d better do that,” said the ex-Pirate, meditatively. “We don’t want to get put out.” So they walked to the other end of the big room, being very careful to make as little noise as possible, and when they came to the large arched entrance with the heavy bolted doors the ex-Pirate helped Tommy climb up a post, and the two slid out on a rafter, from which they could obtain a first-rate view of anything that might happen. Just below where they sat, and directly opposite them, was a window with a small counter in front of it and the words “Ticket Office” painted over it. Below the counter, nearer the floor, was another window, only smaller—“for the little animals, I suppose,” thought Tommy, When their eyes had become accustomed to the semi-obscurity of their surroundings they found that they were not the only occupants of balcony seats. A few feet away from them sat a Gopher. He wore a pink sun-bonnet, and looked somewhat timidly at the intruders. As soon as the ex-Pirate saw him, he said:
“What are you doing up here? Why aren’t you outside?”
“Lost my ticket,” answered the Gopher, timorously.
“Lost your ticket?” repeated the ex-Pirate.
“Yes, sir,” continued the little animal, meekly. “Not exactly lost it, I put it in my mouth, and forgot, and swallowed it. I’ve got it inside.”
“Oh,” said the ex-Pirate. “Well, you’ll get it back as soon as we start,”
“Please, may I stay?” asked the Gopher.
“Why, certainly,” replied the ex-Pirate, affably, waving his hand in a grandiose way, just as if he had been the proprietor of the Ark; whereupon the Gopher looked much pleased and relieved, and settled down comfortably again at his end of the rafter.
Just then the shutter of the ticket-window was thrown up with a loud bang that made Tommy jump, and the Bull stuck his head out and peered up and down the large room. He was a very fierce-looking Bull, and be wore on his head a cap with the word “Purser” embroidered on it in gold letters.
“All aboard!” he bellowed, in a voice that fairly made the timbers tremble, and scared the Gopher half out of his wits. And then some one from the outside opened the heavy doors and the animals began coming in.
The animals poured into the Ark like the tide through a sluice. They pushed and shoved and crowded, and many tried to get to the Purser’s window ahead of their turns. The big ones brushed the little ones aside with a total disregard of gentleness or consideration. But the Bull soon put a stop to this sort of thing. He stuck his head out of the window and said all sorts of horrible things, and vowed he would have the doors closed if the beasts did not preserve better order. Things went along better after that.
The larger animals came in first: Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Hippopotami, Rhinoceroses, Camels, Giraffes, Dromedaries, Buffaloes, Polar Bears, Grizzly Bears, and every other kind of Bear. Tommy thought he had never seen so many different animals in all his life, It beat a circus all hollow, and it reminded him of the college song his uncle Dick used to sing about:
“The animals came in two by two,
The animals came in two by two,
The animals came in two by two,
The Elephant and the Kangaroo,
And they all got into the Ark before it began to rain!”
After the large animals followed a long procession of deer — Elks, Antelopes, Gazelles, Chamois, Moose, and Caribou. Behind these came dogs of every kind—big dogs, little dogs, thin dogs, fat dogs, gay dogs, sad dogs, shaggy dogs, sleek dogs, and all-colored dogs; Greyhounds, Mastiffs, Pugs, St. Bernards, Fox Terriers, Setters, Pointers, Poodles, Great Danes, Skyes, Black-and-Tans, and Collies. Toward the end of the procession came a long-bodied brown dog with big ears and long, straight legs. Tommy had never seen that kind before,
“What is he?” he said, pointing downward.
The ex-Pirate shook his head, but the Gopher answered, “That’s a Dachshund,”
“A Dachshund?” repeated Tommy; “I guess not. Dachshunds are not built like that. Look at his long legs.”
“Well, that is a Dachshund,” insisted the Gopher; and then he pulled his sun-bonnet over his head and closed his eyes for a nap.
The French Poodle was the only one that had any trouble with the Bull, because the Bull could not speak French, and refused to understand what the Poodle said. Tommy plainly heard the dog muttering to himself as he left the window:
“Espèce de John Bull! Il est toujours comme ça!”
But the little boy could not understand what the Poodle meant any more than the Bull could, because he had not gotten along any farther in his French exercise-book than “Have you seen the good General’s red slippers under the green table of the wine-merchant’s beautiful mother-in-law?” And he did not recognize any of these words in the Poodle’s plaint.
The Bull had been losing his temper pretty rapidly ever since the doors opened, and he seemed to be waiting for a chance to do or say something ugly. Pretty soon a couple of harmless and sleepy-looking Oxen came plodding up the gang-plank and strolled through the doorway,
“Look here!” the Bull shouted at them, “you’ve got to leave your chewing-gum outside! No gum chewing allowed on the Ark!”
One of the Oxen protested, but the Bull asserted that if the Ox made any trouble he would come outside and settle the matter himself; and so both Oxen regretfully stuck their chewing-gum under the gang-plank and passed in. A little while later a Lizard came along and handed in his ticket through the small window near the floor. The Bull looked at it and frowned, and then stuck his head out over the counter and glared at the little Lizard, who actually turned green with fright.
“What do you mean by presenting this ticket?” asked the Bull, savagely.
“Please, sir, I want to come into the Ark,” replied the Lizard, meekly.
“Well, you can’t get in on this ticket—see?”
“Please, sir, it’s the only one I have,” continued the Lizard, trembling.
“Well, look here, young fellow,” snorted the Bull, getting angrier as he spoke; “this ticket is your shape, but it is not your size. You bought it from a speculator outside!”
“Oh no, sir!” exclaimed the Lizard.
“I don’t care what you say. This is the Crocodile’s ticket, and it ain’t your size, and you can’t get in on it.
“Please, sir, I did not know,” mildly protested the Lizard. “I can’t read, sir,”
“Well, don’t you know that the pauper, the insane, and the illiterate are not allowed on this Ark?” roared the Bull, apparently deriving much pleasure from the fact that he was scaring the Lizard half to death. The little fellow did not in the least understand the meaning of these big words, but he was so frightened by the Bull’s ferocious manner that he turned away and scurried frantically down the gang-plank, and hid under a big stone in the sand.
“How awfully mean for the Bull to talk like that to such a little animal!” whispered Tommy to the ex-Pirate.
“That’s what he always does. Never takes a fellow his size,” answered the ex-Pirate, “He bullies the little ones; that’s why he’s called a Bull.”
Presently a Crocodile came stamping up the gang-plank. He had a business-like expression in his eye, and a cold, sarcastic smile displayed his glistening rows of sharp teeth. He stepped right up to the ticket-window, and thrust his long snout in so suddenly that he almost knocked the Bull off his stool.
“What do you mean by sending me a miniature ticket like this?” he shouted, fiercely.
The Bull stuttered, “I beg your pardon, sir; but won’t you allow me to look at the ticket?”
The Crocodile passed the paper in.
“Oh, it’s all a mistake,” began the Bull, apologetically, “I assure you it is all a mistake—”
“I should say it was,” interrupted the Crocodile, who appeared to be in an exceedingly unpleasant frame of mind. “Do you think for a moment that I am going to take any such accommodations as that? Do you think I can sleep in any berth that was built for a Lizard?”
“It’s a mistake,” repeated the Bull, affably. “Your quarters are on the main-deck, starboard side, No. 417,” and he passed out the ticket he had taken away from the Lizard.
The Crocodile did not appear satisfied. He stuck his nose through the window again and shouted:
“Well, I want satisfaction! I want satisfaction, and I’m going to have it—”
But the crowd of animals in line behind the Crocodile, tired of waiting, gave a push that sent the latter past the window and out into the main hall, still mumbling something about “satisfaction.” The Bull looked out of his office, much relieved, and shouted down the line,
“Somebody tell that Lizard he can come in!”
It did not take so long as Tommy thought it would for all the animals to get on board. When the last one had passed in, preparations were made to haul up the gang-plank, for the wind had freshened, the skies had darkened, and the general appearance of the heavens betokened the approaching storm. Just as the big plank was about to be taken aboard, faint voices were heard from the ground outside:
“Wait a moment! wait a moment!” they cried. “Wait for us; we’re almost there!”
It was the Turtles. By so close a margin did they get into the Ark. The Bull scolded them as they passed, and then slammed down the window, and the Gopher, on the rafter next to Tommy, heaved a sigh of relief.
Soon afterward it began to rain. The big drops fell noisily upon the shingled roof of the Ark, and pattered on the window-panes.
“What is that noise?” asked a little Armadillo.
“That’s the rain, dear,” replied its parent.
“Oh no,” said the little one; “the Reindeer are sleeping downstairs.”
And then there was a great jolt, and the Ark floated off on the flood.
Tommy and the ex-Pirate and the Gopher remained quietly perched on the rafter for some minutes after the big Ark had begun to move; but when they found that none of the animals noticed them, since all seemed so busy attending to their own affairs, they slid along the beam until they could look out into the main room and see what was going on—that is, Tommy and the ex-Pirate slid along, but the Gopher remained where he was, apparently sound asleep.
“What do you suppose they will do next?” asked the little boy.
“Fight or eat, I guess,” answered the ex-Pirate. “All animals fight or eat.”
“I don’t think I should like to see them fight,” continued Tommy. And then he added, “Don’t you think it is getting dark in here?”
“Very much so,” said the ex-Pirate, looking about. “I suppose they will light up pretty soon. It’s always dark on a rainy day, you know.”
“What kind of lights do you suppose they will have?”
“Ark-lights, of course,” said the ex-Pirate. “What other kind would you expect on a boat of this kind? Did you suppose the two Tapirs would be bright enough? If you had ever had any dealings with a Tapir you would know what a stupid beast he is. Don’t you remember my classic about him:
“Said the Monkey to the Tapir,
One Sunday aftenoon,
‘Won’t you let me have some paper.’ etc., etc. . . .
“The Tapir sold writings paper, you see. But he was too stupid to get along in the business. That’s why it is called a stationery business.”
Tommy was about to answer—he hardly knew what—when a bump and a squeal interrupted the conversation. The sleeping Gopher had fallen off the rafter. This accident might have caused a good deal of trouble if a great hubbub had not started at the other end of the room at the same moment. There were squeals and howls and yelps, as if some one was being killed. In the rush and confusion the Gopher mixed with the crowd, and Tommy could only occasionally catch a glimpse of his pink sun-bonnet bobbing up now and then in the swarm that was struggling in the distance.
“I wonder what has happened?” said the little boy, leaning as far forward as he dared.
“First fight, I guess,” muttered the ex-Pirate. “But I think we had better stay up here and wait till it’s all over,”
“I guess we had,” assented Tommy. But they did not have to wait very long, for the Gopher soon came scurrying back and climbed quickly up beside them.
“Goodness! Goodness me!” he cried.
“What’s the matter?” asked the ex-Pirate, eagerly.
“The Dachshund was playing tag with a Chinese Pug, and he fell through the trap-door.”
“Oh, my!” exclaimed Tommy.
“You ought to see him,” pursued the Gopher. “He fell all the way down to the hold, and his legs are jammed away up into his body and twisted all out of shape. They’re only about three inches long now, and even the Elephant could not pull them out straight. He is disfigured for all time.”
“Can’t any one help him?” asked the ex-Pirate.
“He won’t let any one. The Duck, who was educated in divers practices, offered his services as doctor, but the Dachshund would not have him. Said he was a quack.” There was a brief silence; then the Gopher added: “They are trying to find out who opened the trap-door, and so I ran away. I came in that way; but I’m sure I shut the trap after me.”
“We came in that way too,” said the ex-Pirate.
“Yes, and I came up first,” put in Tommy, “You were last up. Did you shut the door?”
“I guess I did not,” admitted the ex-Pirate. “But it was the Sheep’s fault; he put it out of my mind.”
By this time the excitement had abated, and the animals were scattered in groups again. The Dachshund went waddling about the floor on his short, crooked legs, to the great amusement of the Storks and Cranes, who still had long, straight legs, and Tommy said,
“Well, I never knew before how it happened that those dogs had such funny legs.” But the Gopher said nothing, and still trembled for fear some one would find out he had come in through the trap.
The wind was blowing fiercely outside, and as it howled around the corners and under the eaves of the Ark it sounded notes like those of an Æolian harp.
“Music, isn’t it?” remarked Tommy. “It sounds like a fiddle,”
The ex-Pirate almost jumped off the rafter.
“Fiddle!” he exclaimed. “Who said fiddle? Is there a fiddle on board? If there is, I’m going to jump!”
“I did not say there was a fiddle on board,” remonstrated Tommy, “I said it sounded like a fiddle.”
“What are you so afraid of a fiddler for?”
“If I tell you, you will easily understand,” answered the ex-Pirate, with a deep sigh.
“Well, tell us. Is it interesting?”
“Yes, and I can give it to you in rhyme. Will you have it in four verses or in six?”
“I guess four will do,” answered the little boy, and he leaned over and pulled the Gopher up closer. “Come and hear the poetry,” he said.
The ex-Pirate turned toward his audience on the rafter, and recited:
“There once was a fiddler whose name was McPhee,
And he fiddled, he fiddled, he fiddled, did he.
He fiddled so loud and he fiddled so long
That the neighbors all thought there must be something wrong
With this fearful old fellow, this fiddler McPhee,
For he fiddled, he fiddled, he fiddled, did he.
“So one day the neighbors all went up to see
What the cause of this unceasing fiddling could be.
They appointed committees to go in and speak
In behalf of them all to this fiddling freak,
Who had fiddled all day and all night for a week;
But their efforts all failed with this frightful McPhee,
Who fiddled for fun, he fiddled, did he.
“The first man to face the fiddler McPhee
Was a fat little fellow, who said, ‘Sir,’ said he,
‘You fiddle all night and you fiddle all day,
You fiddle and fiddle your whole time away;
Won’t you tell us the reason why all this should be?’
But the fiddler still fiddled, he fiddled, did he.
“But finally, while fiddling, he said, ‘Sir,’ said he,
‘You will greatly oblige me by letting me be;
All your fussing and fretting and fuming,’ said he,
‘Is nothing at all—it’s fiddlededee!’
So he kept on a fiddling, this fellow McPhee,
And he fiddled, and fiddled, and fiddled, did he.
“And I was one of the neighbors,” added the ex-Pirate.
“And did not Mr. McPhee stop?” asked Tommy.
“No. We all had to move. He had a ninety-nine years’ lease.”
“I don’t blame you,” said the Gopher.
The ex-Pirate was about to propose reciting four more verses when there occurred another commotion, and the Hippopotamus stood up on his awkward hind-legs and shouted: “Lets organize! We ought to organize! What is life without organization? I move we elect a president—”
But before he could express his views any further the Lion stepped up to him and buffeted him with his paw, and growled:
“Sit down! If there is any organizing to be done, I will do it, I want you to understand that I am the King of Beasts, and we won’t have any Presidents this trip.”
Whereupon the poor old Hippopotamus rubbed his sore jowls, and waddled slowly off to another part of the room. Then the Lion got up on a big chair, with the Lioness at his side, and made a speech. Tommy and the ex-Pirate could not hear what he said, because they were so far away; but the animals all seemed very attentive and much pleased, for they continually nodded their heads, and at the close of the oration the Gopher, who in some manner had managed to catch every word, waved his sun-bonnet in the air and cried:
“Hooray! We’re going to eat!”
“I told you so,” whispered the ex-Pirate; and then he suggested to Tommy that they go down to the floor and mingle with the animals, and try to find the Sheep, so as to have a chance at the meal, if that were possible.
None of the animals paid the slightest attention to Tommy and the ex-Pirate when they came down from their uncomfortable perch on the rafter and strolled about the big room. The Gopher, probably emboldened by his neighbors’ action, descended, too, and mingled with the other beasts, But, for some reason, he managed to remain within sight of Tommy and the ex-Pirate, so that if anything had happened to him he could have run to them for protection or assistance. Occasionally he would join them and converse for a few moments, and then he would wander off again by himself.
“I guess they take us for a pair of animals,” observed Tommy, as he glanced about at the peaceful beasts. “Some new kind,” he added.
“That must be it,” said the ex-Pirate; absent-mindedly; “but I wish we could find the Sheep.”
“In this crowd?” exclaimed the Gopher, who came up at that moment. “Why, that’s like looking for a beetle in a smoke-stack.”
The three walked along for some time in silence, and they saw all sorts of queer things as they went. In a retired corner the Hippopotamus was shaving himself with a razor-backed Hog, much to the displeasure of the Hog, who kept up a perpetual snorting and grunting. Near by an old mother Pig was putting her little Pigs’ tails up in curl-papers for the night. Farther along the Armadillo, the Turtles, the Hedgehog, and the Porcupine, squatted on the floor together, were playing dominoes, A Leopard-like creature sat near by, watching the game, looking very much disappointed and mournful.
“They won’t let him play,” volunteered the Gopher, “because he’s a Cheetah.”
All this time there was much bustle and preparation going on in the middle of the hall. The Monkey tribe, of which there must have been a hundred, were bringing up tables and stools and benches from down below somewhere, and were stretching these out the entire length of the big room. They made a banqueting-board much longer than Tommy had ever seen before, and then they laid plates and mugs along the edges, enough to accommodate all. The Monkeys made first-rate waiters, and the big Gorillas bossed them around, and kept them working “just like real waiters in a restaurant,” thought Tommy.
“There’s the Sheep!” shouted the ex-Pirate, suddenly, and he pointed out their old friend sitting on a bench about a third of the way down from the head of the long table. They hastened toward him, followed by the Gopher, who was doubtless afraid of being crowded out, for the animals were taking seats rapidly.
The Sheep was overjoyed when the ex-Pirate sat down beside him, and he moved up closer to his neighbor on the other side so as to make room for Tommy and the Gopher. The little boy sat on the bench with the ex-Pirate on his left and the Gopher on a high stool at his right. The Lion and Lioness occupied the head of the table, some distance away, and the Bull sat at the foot.
“I have been looking all over for you,” began the Sheep, “but you were so well concealed I could not find you. Where did you pick up that Gopher?”
“Oh, he’s all right,” answered the ex-Pirate. “He’s got his ticket inside,”
The Gopher almost fell off his stool, He whispered to Tommy, “Tell him not to talk about my ticket.”
But before Tommy could deliver the message the Monkeys began bringing the soup in on trays, and placed a plateful in front of each one at table. The Gopher seized his plate and lifted it greedily to his face and swallowed all at one gulp. Then he threw the plate under the table, and began snapping his fingers loudly, just as if he had not been served at all.
“You must not do that,” remonstrated Tommy.
“Oh yes, I must,” said the Gopher. And then he held up both hands and snapped all his fingers.
“What dreadful table manners the Gopher has,” said the little boy to the ex-Pirate. “Did you see what he did?”
“Yes,” answered the latter. “It was very reprehensible. Worse than anything I ever saw. Worse than the Bishop of Shinnikoree.”
“The Arch-Bishop,” put in the Sheep.
“Arch-Bishop nothing,” retorted the ex-Pirate. “He was only a Bishop,”
“But he is an Arch-Bishop now” persisted the Sheep.
“He’s dead now,” retorted the ex-Pirate.
“Yes; and they carved him in stone, and put him up over the entrance of the Cathedral, and so he is an Arch-Bishop, isn’t he?”
“Well, I suppose so. Anyhow, he was mighty queer at table.”
“You never told me about the Bishop before,” said Tommy.
“I know it,” answered the ex-Pirate. “But if I had the third volume of my collected poems here, I could read to you about him. He was dreadful. Worse than the Gopher.”
“Can’t you remember about him?” pleaded the little boy.
“Part. I guess. Let me see;” and the ex-Pirate reflected in silence for a moment. Then he began:
“There once was a Bishop
Who tossed every dish up
The moment he sat down to table;
At juggling with plates
Full of apples and dates
He was really exceedingly able.
“He would stand on his head
When he buttered his bread,
And his neighbors he gayly would banter,
While he gave a wild whoop
At the sight of pea soup
Which was served in a cut-glass decanter.
“With fish-balls and prunes,
And fresh macaroons,
The Bishop was likewise quite clever;
To pile them up high,
And swallow them dry,
Was his constant, consistent endeavor.
“He could drink salad oil
By the pint, and not spoil
The perfect success of digestion;
And having well dined,
And copiously wined,
He could turn a handspring! without question.”
“Goodness!” commented Tommy. “Where did you say he bishoped?”
“At Shinnikoree,” answered the ex-Pirate.
“I did not hear that last verse,” broke in the Gopher, swallowing his sixth plate of soup. “Can’t you recite it again?”
“No, I cannot,” replied the ex-Pirate, severely. “If you don’t look out I’ll write a piece about you.”
This seemed to frighten the Gopher, for he snapped his fingers again and took another plate of soup.
It seemed to Tommy as if the Gopher would never get enough. The little boy had never before witnessed such voracity. By actual count he had seen seventeen plates of soup vanish into his neighbor’s system, and yet there was no apparent ill effect. The Gopher threw each empty dish under the table, so that the pile of crockery was now so high in front of his chair that he could rest his feet on it.
“Really,” said Tommy, at last, “I never saw such a greedy thing as you in all my life,”
“I can’t help it,” answered the Gopher, complacently; “the eating question is a most important one, and I’m afraid they’ll all get up and say dinner is over before I’ve had half enough.”
“It seems to me that you have had more than enough. And, besides, I have an aunt who says one should always arise from the table hungry.”
“Never you mind that Ant.” said the Gopher. “Ants don’t count. They are so little they can’t hold anything, anyhow. As for getting up from the table hungry, that is something I cannot understand. I always sit down hungry; and it would never do to be hungry at both ends of the meal, now would it?”
On reflection Tommy did not think it would, and as he had been more than half inclined at the outset toward the Gopher’s view of the case, they soon agreed on this point. Then the little animal said,
“I can’t understand you when you talk with your mouth full,” replied Tommy.
The Gopher made a great effort, and swallowed so hard that his eyes fairly bulged. Then he said, “That’s an awfully funny one, isn’t it?”
“The one next to you.”
“Him?” said Tommy, pointing at the ex-Pirate.
“Um,” continued the Gopher, nodding his head, for his mouth was full again. “Ain’t he?”
“He is a very nice gentleman,” remarked Tommy, for lack of anything more definite to say.
“What kind is he?” asked the Gopher.
“He’s an ex-Pirate,”
“A Pie Rat? Goodness, how he has changed!”
“Oh yes, he has changed,” continued Tommy. “He is very good now. He has entirely reformed.”
“I should say he had. His form is entirely different. I knew a Pie Rat once, but he was not at all like this one. He does not look like a Pie Rat at all.”
“Oh yes he does!” exclaimed Tommy, eagerly, although he realized as soon as he had spoken that he had never seen any real, active pirate. But he added, “He is all fixed up just like a real pirate.”
“Well, he isn’t,” said the Gopher, dictatorially. “The Pie Rat I knew looked like any other rat, but he only ate pie. Does this one eat pie?”
“Did you say rat?” asked Tommy.
“I said Pie Rat,” answered the Gopher.
“Well, you don’t want to let him hear you say rat. You must say ex-Pirate; that means that he is not a pirate any more.”
“That’s just what I said,” persisted the Gopher. “I said he did not look like a Pie Rat, and so he is not a Pie Rat, and that’s all there is to it,” Then he threw up his hands and shouted, “Oh my! look at that!”
Tommy glanced up toward the head of the table, and saw that the Lion was helping himself to fully half of what had been placed before him,
“What a lot he takes!” remarked the little boy, in surprise.
“Always,” said the Gopher, “But it’s the Lion’s share, and I suppose he is entitled to it. I wish I were a Lion.”
“I don’t,” said Tommy, hastily, for he felt that he much preferred a small animal like the Gopher for a neighbor to a possible Lion.
“Well, I don’t really believe I would like to be a Lion, after all,” the Gopher went on to say. “If I could make myself all over again, I should be part Elephant, part Camel, and part Giraffe,”
“What a funny-looking creature you would be!”
“Oh, I would not mind that. I don’t care much about appearances. Eating is what interests me.”
“I should think so,” commented Tommy.
“And then think of the advantages of such a combination,” pursued the Gopher. “If I were part Elephant I should be as big as any animal; and if I were part Camel I should have four stomachs; and then I should want a Giraffe’s neck. Just think of how long things taste good in a Giraffe’s throat. Why, it’s two yards long! And mine is only about half an inch. How many times better does a piece of pie taste to a Giraffe than it does to me?”
“I don’t know,” answered Tommy Toddles, very promptly.
“Well, I’ve figured it all out many a time,” added the Gopher, “and I can tell you. A throat two yards long is twice thirty-six inches long, isn’t it?”
“That’s seventy-two inches. And if my throat is only half an inch long, the Giraffes throat is one hundred and forty-four times as long as mine, and so the pie tastes one hundred and forty-four times as good.”
Tommy marvelled at the Gopher’s proficiency in arithmetic, but his mind soon reverted to the question at hand, and he began to wonder how much better pie would taste if his own neck was one hundred and forty-four inches long. He was going to ask his neighbor for further information on the subject, but when he turned around toward the Gopher he saw that the little animal had in some way gotten possession of the soup-tureen, and had thrust his head into it, and was almost drowning because he could not get it out. And then, just as the ex-Pirate and Tommy had rescued the Gopher from a soupy grave, the Lion arose at the head of the table, and pounded loudly on the board and called the assembled multitude to order.
When silence had spread over the room, the King of Beasts announced that the Goat had eaten the passenger list and other important notices off the bulletin board, and that it was thus impossible for him, as toast-master, to know who was present and who was not, and so he could not call on any one by name to make a speech. He added, however, that any one who desired to make a speech might do so, or, instead of a speech, any animal could sing a song or tell a story. Having made this announcement, the Lion sat down again: and all the animals glared frowningly upon the Goat, who stroked his whiskers nervously and looked embarrassed, either because of these rebuking glances or possibly because of the antediluvian ink on the passenger list.
“I feel awfully sorry for that Goat,” whispered the Gopher to Tommy.
“Why don’t you get up and make a speech then, and distract the general attention?”
“I don’t know any speech,” answered the Gopher; “but I know a joke.”
“Tell the joke,” urged Tommy; and so the Gopher stood up in his chair, and took off his pink sun-bonnet, and said he wanted to tell his joke.
The Lion bowed in a dignified manner to the Gopher, and rapped on the table again to bring the Parrots to order, and then the Gopher said, very slowly and deliberately:
“When is a door not a door?”
The animals stared at one another, and whispered, and gazed up and down the table as if they thought they might possibly derive inspiration from the dishes. Tommy and the ex-Pirate said not a word. Presently the Gopher repeated:
“When is a door not a door?”
But no one could guess, and after a few moments more of anxious and strained silence the Gopher said:
“I suppose I shall have to tell you. A door is not a door when it is ajar.”
The animals fairly roared and shrieked with laughter. They bellowed and howled and pounded on the table, and the Gopher became so much affected with appreciation of his own wit that he fell over backward, and almost stunned a young Grampus who was trying to get his nose above the table to see what it was all about. Tommy had never realized before what the expression “to roar with laughter” really signified, and he concluded he never wanted to experience such a realization again. The noise was so great that he had to put his fingers to his ears. When the merriment had partially subsided, the little boy leaned over to the ex-Pirate and said:
“I have heard that joke before; haven’t you?”
“Indeed I have,” answered the ex-Pirate, “many a time.”
“It’s an awfully old one, isn’t it.”
“I always suspected it was first gotten off in the Ark.” said the ex-Pirate, shaking his head knowingly; but I did not know the Gopher was responsible for it.”
By this time the animals had recovered themselves, and some were shouting to the Gopher for more jokes. He got up and protested that he did not know any more; and then, suddenly pointing to the ex-Pirate, he exclaimed:
“He’s a funny one. He can recite things!”
Thereupon the animals all gazed at the ex-Pirate, and the Lion said, “Recite things!”
The ex-Pirate never needed much urging to do this sort of thing, and so when Tommy whispered to him to read the seventeenth chapter of his autobiography which he knew his friend had in his pocket, and of which the little boy had only heard the first few lines, the ex-Pirate arose, and, bowing in his usual way to all his hearers, he pulled his manuscript from his coat and began to read:
“ ‘The following day the sun rose up as usual from the East,
The sea was calm, the sky was clear, the stormy winds had ceased;
The Black Avenger sped along before a gentle breeze,
And the starboard watch loafed on the deck in true piratic ease.
I took my breakfast down below, and when I came on deck
I looked about, and far away I saw a little speck
Upon the blue horizon, and I knew it was a sail,
For, in matters of this nature, my eyesight could not fail,
I called my swarthy Bo’s’n, and I said to him, said I:
“If we don’t overtake that ship, I’ll know the reason why;
If we don’t overtake her ere the sun shines overhead
I’ll cut the whiskers off the crew before I go to bed!”
The Bo’s’n nodded cheerfully and swore a fearful oath,
(He called upon the Sun and Moon, and scandalized them both,)
And then he hitched his trousers up and piped his whistle shrill,
And made the loafing pirates heave the halyards with a will.
The Black Avenger sped along and ploughed the boiling sea.
The rigging creaked, the sails stood out, the foam flew fast and free.
The pirates gathered on the deck and buckled on their swords,
Rolled up their sleeves, and combed their beards, and spoke piratic words.
But suddenly the Bo’s’n came a-rushing up to me,
His face was pale, his nose was red, he spoke: “Good sir,” said he,
“Yon vessel is from Switzerland, and, verily, I fear
We’ll find she is not what she seems, as soon as we get near;
She looks to me as though she might—might be a privateer!”
(But when he found she wasn’t one, he shed a private tear.)
Said I: “Load up the cannons, boys, with ten-pound cannonballs;
I care not what yon ship may be, into my hands she falls!
We’ll take her, and we’ll take her guns, her captain, and her crew,
Her cook, her cabin steward, and her precious cargo, too!”
So the Gunner and the Gunner’s Mate they lifted up the hatch,
And they called upon the pirates who formed the starboard watch
To help them lift the cannon-balls from out the magazine
Where all the cannon-balls were kept, wrapped up in bombazine.
But presently the Gunner’s Mate came rushing to the rail,
His hair was standing up on end, his face was very pale,
He cried; “Oh, Captain, woe is me, no cannon-balls are left;
Of shot and shell of every kind the magazine’s bereft!
There’s not a piece of shrapnel, no canister or grape,
There’s not enough of buckshot to kill a good-sized ape!”
The Bo’s’n, who stood near at hand, gazed sadly at us both,
And then he pulled his pistols out and swore a mighty oath:
“How shall we take yon Switzer ship,” he said, “without a shell?”
“We’ve got to fight,” I answered him. “Won’t cheese do just as well?”
For two days previously, you know, we met a brigantine
From Amsterdam for Zululand, by name the Bandoline,
And in her hold she carried a fine cargo, if you please,
Consisting of a hundred thousand dozen Edam cheese.
We took a hundred dozen and stowed them on the poop
Between the after cannon and the Captain’s chicken-coop.
(The crew had used the cheeses and some bottles from the galley
The day before to improvise a sort of bowling-alley.)
Said I: “We’ll take these Edam cheese and put them in the guns,
And shoot them at the Switzer ship until she sinks or runs;
For surely such proceedings will be worse than shot or shell,
Just think of being hit with cheese—say nothing of the smell!”
The pirates laughed and vowed my scheme would give them lots of fun;
And soon a big, red, round, Dutch cheese was rammed in every gun.
It was not long before the Black Avenger came abreast
And hailed the ship from Switzerland with true piratic zest;
But not a Switzer said a word, nor made they any sign,
But all the sailors on the ship were ranged along in line,
And leaned upon the starboard rail, with sunken, pallid cheeks,
As though they had not tasted food for six or seven weeks,
The Swarthy Bo’s’n hailed again, and as no answer came
The Gunner’s Mate averred it was high time to start the game,
I spoke the word, and seven guns all loaded up with cheese
We fired at the Switzer ship as nicely as you please;
And then a second volley went, and soon again a third,
And when the smoke had cleared away we saw what had occurred.
Each cheese had hit the Switzer ship and flattened on her decks,
The Switzer men were wading in the cheese up to their necks.
We waited then to see what sort of fighting they would make,
And wondered how much cheese these Switzer sailor-men could take.
But as we waited silence came all o’er the Switzer craft,
And not a seaman seemed to move, or forward or abaft.
I called the Bo’s’n to the bridge, and “Take the gig” said I;
“Go board yon ship, where all is still, and learn the reason why,”
The Bo’s’n quick, got in the gig with sixteen of the crew,
He took along a cannon and an Edam cheese or two,
And half an hour he was gone, then slowly rowed he back;
He said to me: “Good Captain,” he sobbed, “alas, alack!
Upon that floating vessel there’s no one left to fight;
There’s not a living creature, not a living thing in sight.
No man remains to give reply to any kind of question;
The Switzers ate up all the cheese—and died of indigestion.” ’ ”
There was another great demonstration of approval as soon as the ex-Pirate had concluded, but Tommy paid little attention to the noise this time, because he had become somewhat accustomed to it.
“You see,” said the ex-Pirate, apologetically, “I could not very well read anything like that—all about cheese —in the presence of the Welsh-Rabbit; could I?”
“Of course not,” agreed Tommy; “but is it true that—”
“I say,” interrupted: the Gopher, leaning in front of Tommy and addressing himself to the ex-Pirate; “I know another joke now. I know what the Bo’s’n said to the Gunner’s Mate when he told him to shoot at the ship.”
“Well, what did he tell him?” asked the ex-Pirate, incautiously.
“Cheese it!” shouted the Gopher, who was immediately seized with such a violent fit of laughter that he fell under the table, and almost buried himself under the pile of broken soup-plates.
The ex-Pirate very good-naturedly put his head under the table and pulled the Gopher out from the pile of debris and broken crockery. The little beast did not appear to have suffered any injury beyond tearing a gash in his pink sun-bonnet, and as soon as he had resumed his place at the table he looked about him, and smiled just as if nothing had happened.
“You don’t seem to mind your fall a bit,” remarked the Sheep, somewhat surprised.
“Oh, I don’t mind it at all,” answered the Gopher, complacently.
“I thought you would be dreadfully cut up,” put in the ex-Pirate.
“So did I, at first,” continued the Gopher; “but only my sun-bonnet got cut, and that was badly cut in the beginning anyway, so that this extra slash does not make any particular difference. And what do you suppose I saw under the table?”
“Feet,” said the ex-Pirate, at a venture.
“That’s pretty good for a first guess,” retorted the Gopher; “but I saw something else.”
“What did you see?” quickly asked Tommy, who was beginning to feel that he had been out of the conversation quite long enough.
“I saw It,” answered the Gopher.
“You don’t say so!” exclaimed the Sheep.
“Indeed I did. Do you want to play a game?”
“Certainly. I’m getting awfully tired of sitting here, Let’s play a game.”
“I wish you would explain,” broke m Tommy. “You are talking about all sorts of things, and I can’t understand a word. What is this all about? What is it the Gopher saw under the table?”
“Why, he saw It,” answered the ex-Pirate.
“Well, what is that?” asked Tommy.
“Don’t you know what It is?” exclaimed the ex-Pirate, his eyes opening very wide with surprise.
“No, I don’t,” replied the little boy, bluntly, “and I wish you would explain.”
“Goodness!” gasped the Gopher. “Where did you come from? Did not you ever play any games?”
“Certainly,” said the little boy; “but what has that to do with it?”
“You could not very well play any games without It,” insisted the Gopher.
“It,” declared the ex-Pirate very slowly and impressively, “is the one that runs after you when you are playing tag, and the one that hides his face and shuts his eyes when you play hide-and-go-seek.”
“Oh, I’ve played those games lots of times,” said Tommy.
“Then you must have seen It,” put in the Sheep.
“Never,” said Tommy.
“How did you play, then?” asked the ex-Pirate,
“One of us was It, of course,” explained Tommy; “and when he caught another, the other was It,”
“How funny,” said the Gopher. “Why, with us It is always It. That’s the fun of the game.”
“Of course it is,” added the ex-Pirate. “I don’t see how you could play without It. We had an It on board the Black Avenger, and we used to play tag for exercise when we were becalmed. But one day, in a storm, It was washed overboard, and we had to go without playing games all the rest of the voyage.”
“How stupid of you!” remarked Tommy. “Why did not you take turns being It?”
“Never thought of such a thing,” admitted the ex-Pirate, frankly. “You will explain to us how it is done, some time, won’t you?”
“Why, of course,” replied Tommy. “I’m sure it’s very simple.”
“Is it simpler than dominoes?” inquired the Gopher, “I never could understand dominoes. You see, there’s no It in that, and that makes it so complicated.”
“Yes, the lack of an It complicates games very much,” said the ex-Pirate. “But let us play an easy game now. Go down and butt him out from under the table,” he added, turning to the Sheep.
The latter obligingly jumped to the floor and disappeared under the table. A few moments later Tommy heard a thump, followed by a whizzing sound, and then a queer-looking something sped out from under the table and slid along the floor as though it had been shot out of a catapult.
“That’s It,” said the Gopher, unconcernedly. And then they all got up and walked over to where a new sort of a queer creature, such as Tommy had never seen before, was getting itself together after its encounter with the Sheep’s head. Tommy took in the peculiar features of the new-comer as carefully and completely as he had taken in the other unusual events of the day.
It was an undersized being that walked on two legs, and corresponded somewhat to the little boy’s idea of what a dwarf ought to be, except that Tommy had always thought of dwarfs as being round and fat, whereas this creature was exceedingly thin, almost bony, “by reason of his constantly playing games,” explained the ex-Pirate. Its head went up almost to a point, on top of which grew a little tuft of hair, which Tommy at first took to be a small fur cap; and the utter lack of expression in his pallid face betokened that It had no understanding whatever beyond his own sphere of utility.
“Perhaps that’s why he is willing to be It all the time,” thought Tommy, “I’m sure he does not look as if he knew enough to object.”
By this time the Sheep had rejoined the group and was ready to play.
“I don’t want to play any game of chance,” said the ex-Pirate when the Gopher asked what it should be,
“No; we won’t have any game of chance,” agreed the Sheep.
“I don’t see how you could,” ventured Tommy, “if It is in the game. It strikes me that if It is always It, there is no chance for him.”
“Of course not,” answered the ex-Pirate; “there’s no chance for him ever. But we don’t consider him. We take all the chances.”
Tommy did not understand, but this was nothing new to him, and he consented to play anything that would please the rest.
They decided to have a game of Bumpolump, It took the ex-Pirate fully fifteen minutes to explain to the little boy how Bumpolump was played, and even then Tommy never got a clear idea of it, and was unable to give his Uncle Dick the slightest explanation of how it was done, except that It had an inordinate amount of running about to do, while the others seemed to get all the fun. And at the end everybody got a prize except It.
“I should not think you would like this,” said Tommy to It, sympathetically.
“I don’t,” answered It. “I’ve gotten quite beyond that. My life is one long pursuit of the unattainable. How does it feel to succeed?”
Tommy, not knowing just what to say under the circumstances, hesitated; but before he could reply It continued:
“You see, I always apparently succeed in all I do—just as in Bumpolump—but I never enjoy the fruits of success. The others always get the prizes, and I have to start all over again. Some day—”
But just then an Ibex came along, and saying “Excuse me” to Tommy, he butted It up to the other end of the room, where a lot of little Ibexes and Zebus immediately began to hop about, apparently playing some game with It, who was laboring with his utmost energy.
Tommy stared for some minutes at the antics of the Ibexes, and then turned to the ex-Pirate.
“How very odd!” he remarked.
“Very,” assented the other. “Aren’t you beginning to feel sort of queer?”
“I don’t notice any motion at all,” replied Tommy.
“I don’t mean that,” said the ex-Pirate, looking reproachfully at the little boy. “But, personally, I am beginning to become affected by all these animals. I almost feel as though I could become a second Abou-Ben-Din.”
“A second Abou-Ben-Din?”
“Yes,” continued the ex-Pirate, scarcely noticing the interruption. “But I hardly think it would pay. I doubt if there are any other craft hereabouts.”
“What are you mumbling about, anyway?” asked Tommy.
“I was not mumbling at all. I was thinking of Abou-Ben-Din. There was a pirate for you!”
“I never heard of Abou-Ben-Din,” said Tommy. “I’ve read about Captain Kidd and the Dey of Algiers, and lots of others—but that’s all.”
“Well, if you had allowed me to read the first sixteen chapters of my autobiography,” exclaimed the ex-Pirate, becoming somewhat excited, as he always did when the subject of his autobiography came up, “you would have known all about Abou-Ben-Din by this time. He was a Hindoo.”
“But can’t you tell me about him now, just as well?” pleaded the little boy, anxious to get another pirate story.
“I might,” answered the ex-Pirate, meditatively—“I might. It is a favorite story of mine, but I don’t think this is very good company to tell it in.”
“Why is not it?”
But before the ex-Pirate could answer, the Lion arose and roared so fiercely that the rafters shook, and many of the birds fell from their perches.
“What does this mean?” he growled. “What does all this skylarking signify?”
“I’m not doing anything,” put in the Skylark.
“Shut up,” continued the Lion, even more fiercely. “This banquet has not been adjourned yet. Why are so many of you standing and running about? Everybody sit down! I want you to understand that this is a continuous performance—booked for forty days and forty nights—and if some one does not perform pretty soon, I’ll take a hand in the entertainment myself!”
Everybody knew what that meant. There was only one kind of entertainment that the Lion knew anything about, and that was eating. He was very good at that, and he cast his eyes about on the smaller animals gathered at the board. But the warning was sufficient; there was a grand rush for seats again, and a general inclination to be entertaining was displayed by all. Tommy and his companions got their old places, but the Gopher was so frightened that he retained his seat with difficulty, and he trembled so that he was unable to keep his sun-bonnet on straight.
In the meantime the Lion was scowling and waiting for some one to volunteer. No one appeared inclined to do so. His eyes finally fell on the shaking Gopher, and he said, grimly,
“Don’t you know another joke?”
The poor little animal almost fainted with fright, and for lack of a better inspiration he pointed at the ex-Pirate and gasped,
“He knows lots of things!”
And so the King of Beasts, who was rapidly losing patience, glared at the ex-Pirate and roared,
The ex-Pirate hesitated; but Tommy, who was not feeling at all comfortable, whispered:
“Give them Abou-Ben-Din!”
“That’s a pretty risky thing to do,” answered his neighbor; “but I guess I shall have to. I can’t think of anything else,” And so he arose in his customary way and bowed to all. The smaller animals appeared very much relieved, and looked gratefully toward him who had so gallantly come to the rescue at this critical juncture of the feast.
When the murmurs of approval had ceased the ex-Pirate announced that he would recite another selection from his autobiography entitled,
THE BALLAD OF ABOU-BEN-DIN
“Oh, there’s many a tale that I like to tell,
And many a yarn to spin,
But there’s none I love one-half so well
As the story of Abou-Ben-Din.
“For Abou-Ben-Din was a terrible man,
A blood-thirsty wretch through and through;
A pirate on quite an original plan,
And he captained a terrible crew.
“Not a man did he have on his swift-sailing craft,
But a hundred and ten wild beasts,
That snarled on the deck while Abou stood aft,
And steered them toward movable feasts.
“For all day the brutes, with eyes opened wide,
Would eagerly watch for a sail,
And as soon as their vessel was brought alongside
They would swarm like rats o’er the rail.
“Then after the lions and tigers had dined,
Old Abou would visit the ship,
To collect all the booty and goods he could find
Then drive his beasts back with a whip.
“Thus it soon came to pass that the sailors were few
Who would sail in the India seas,
Where Abou-Ben-Din and his man-eating crew
Were eager and ready to seize.
“But I was no coward, and none of my crew
Had ever been known to show fear;
So I said, ‘We will capture this nautical Zoo;
Toward Abou-Ben-Din let us steer!’
“The men all agreed, and we started that day
With cheering and waving of caps;
And down in the hold I had hidden away
A hundred and fifty steel traps.
“These were brought up on deck as soon as we spied
Old Abou-Ben-Din and his ship,
And were set and all covered with sawdust to hide
The teeth that were ready to grip.
“Then the men went below and closed down the hatch.
While I clambered up on the mast,
Where, safe from the lions, ‘twas easy to watch
What happened from first to the last.
“Well, the pirate approached, He came alongside,
And the beasts all scrambled aboard;
And I never have heard such cries as they cried,
Or such terrible roars as they roared.
“Each lion was caught, and he couldn’t get free,
Each trap held an animal fast;
And the way that they struggled was fearful to see—
And I saw it all from the mast.
“But Abou-Ben-Din merely gazed in dismay,
And when he knew what had occurred,
He plunged in the sea, and sank straightaway,
Without ever speaking a word.
“Aye, there’s many a tale that I like to tell,
And many a yarn to spin,
But there’s none I love one-half so well
As the story of Abou-Ben-Din!”
There was a dead silence when the ex-Pirate finished his recital, and Tommy noticed that the Lions and Tigers were shifting about restlessly in their chairs. He turned quickly to the Gopher, and said, in low tones,
“They don’t seem to like it.”
“I’m afraid it was a trifle personal,” answered the Gopher.
“Perhaps we had better retire,” suggested the ex-Pirate, prudently.
“Where can we go?” asked Tommy.
“You can go to the Dogs,” said the Gopher,
“You must not talk like that,” observed Tommy, sharply.
He had heard his Uncle Dick use that expression before, and it shocked him a little.
“Why not?” exclaimed the Gopher. “The Dogs are all right, even if they are down below. They might be of some assistance to us if the Lions get ugly,”
“Oh!” exclaimed the little boy; but before he could say any more the Lion coughed very fiercely, and spoke to the ex-Pirate.
“How many Lions and Tigers did you say there were on board of that ship?”
“About a hundred and ten, I reckon,” answered the ex-Pirate.
“One hundred and ten,” repeated the Lion, slowly. “And you gathered them all in?”
“We did. Every single one.” The ex-Pirate’s recklessness staggered Tommy and the Gopher. Then the Lion growled:
“That being the case, I think I shall have to gather you in.” And he arose, followed by the Tigers, and began to approach the ex-Pirate and the little boy. The Gopher became so alarmed that he dropped under the table and was never seen again. Tommy was so scared that he could not move. But the ex-Pirate jumped upon the table, and, drawing both his pistols from his belt, aimed them at the approaching beasts and fired.
The flash, the bang, and the smoke caused Tommy to close his eyes tightly for a second, and he felt as though his heart had leaped into his throat.
When he opened them again he was sitting on the window-seat in his own room, and his mother was standing in the doorway.
“You must not leave the door and the windows open at the same time, Tommy,’” she was saying. “That causes a draught and makes the door slam. Get ready for supper: it is nearly tea-time.”
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