Part 2 out of 4
quest, which I think is a worthy one. I can do nothing for you
myself, but I have a pupil who is very much given to wandering about,
and looking for curious things. He may tell you where you will be
able to find something that will interest everybody, though I doubt
it. You may go and see him, if you like, and I will excuse him from
his studies for a time, so that he may aid you in your search."
The Hermit then wrote an excuse upon a piece of parchment, and,
giving it to the Stranger, he directed him to the cave of his pupil.
This was situated at some distance, and higher up the mountain, and
when the Stranger reached it, he found the Pupil fast asleep upon the
ground. This individual was a long-legged youth, with long arms, long
hair, a long nose, and a long face. When the Stranger awakened him,
told him why he had come, and gave him the hermit's excuse, the
sleepy eyes of the Pupil brightened, and his face grew less long.
"That's delightful!" he said, "to be let off on a Monday; for I
generally have to be satisfied with a half-holiday, Wednesdays and
"Is the Hermit very strict with you?" asked the Stranger.
"Yes," said the Pupil, "I have to stick closely to the cave; though I
have been known to go fishing on days when there was no holiday. I
have never seen the old man but once, and that was when he first took
me. You know it wouldn't do for us to be too sociable. That wouldn't
be hermit-like. He comes up here on the afternoons I am out, and
writes down what I am to do for the next half-week."
"And do you always do it?" asked the Stranger.
"Oh, I get some of it done," said the Pupil; "but there have been
times when I have wondered whether it wouldn't have been better for
me to have been something else. But I have chosen my profession, and
I suppose I must be faithful to it. We will start immediately on our
search; but first I must put the cave in order, for the old man will
be sure to come up while I am gone."
So saying, the Pupil opened an old parchment book at a marked page,
and laid it on a flat stone, which served as a table, and then placed
a skull and a couple of bones in a proper position near by.
The two now started off, the Pupil first putting a line and hook in
his pocket, and pulling out a fishing-rod from under some bushes.
"What do you want with that?" asked the Stranger, "we are not going
"Why not?" said the Pupil; "if we come to a good place, we might
catch something that would be a real curiosity."
Before long they came to a mountain brook, and here the Pupil
insisted on trying his luck. The Stranger was a little tired and
hungry, and so was quite willing to sit down for a time and eat
something from his bag. The Pupil ran off to find some bait, and he
staid away so long that the Stranger had quite finished his meal
before he returned. He came back at last, however, in a state of
"Come with me! come with me!" he cried. "I have found something that
is truly astonishing! Come quickly!"
The Stranger arose and hurried after the Pupil, whose long legs
carried him rapidly over the mountain-side. Reaching a large hole at
the bottom of a precipitous rock, the Pupil stopped, and exclaiming:
"Come in here and I will show you something that will amaze you!" he
immediately entered the hole.
The Stranger, who was very anxious to see what curiosity he had
found, followed him some distance along a narrow and winding
under-ground passage. The two suddenly emerged into a high and
spacious cavern, which was lighted by openings in the roof; on the
floor, in various places, were strongly fastened boxes, and packages
of many sorts, bales and bundles of silks and rich cloths, with
handsome caskets, and many other articles of value.
"What kind of a place is this?" exclaimed the Stranger, in great
"Don't you know?" cried the Pupil, his eyes fairly sparkling with
delight. "It is a robber's den! Isn't it a great thing to find a
place like this?"
"A robber's den!" exclaimed the Stranger in alarm; "let us get out of
it as quickly as we can, or the robbers will return, and we shall be
cut to pieces."
"I don't believe they are coming back very soon," said the Pupil,
"and we ought to stop and take a look at some of these things."
"Fly, you foolish youth!" cried the Stranger; "you do not know what
danger you are in." And, so saying, he turned to hasten away from the
But he was too late. At that moment the robber captain and his band
entered the cave. When these men perceived the Stranger and the
Hermit's Pupil, they drew their swords and were about to rush upon
them, when the Pupil sprang forward and, throwing up his long arms,
"Stop! it is a mistake!"
At these words, the robber captain lowered his sword, and motioned to
his men to halt. "A mistake!" he said; "what do you mean by that?"
"I mean," said the Pupil, "that I was out looking for curiosities,
and wandered into this place by accident. We haven't taken a thing.
You may count your goods, and you will find nothing missing. We have
not even opened a box, although I very much wanted to see what was in
some of them."
"Are his statements correct?" said the Captain, turning to the
"Entirely so," was the answer.
"You have truthful features, and an honest expression," said the
Captain, "and I do not believe you would be so dishonorable as to
creep in here during our absence and steal our possessions. Your
lives shall be spared, but you will be obliged to remain with us; for
we cannot allow any one who knows our secret to leave us. You shall
be treated well, and shall accompany us in our expeditions; and if
your conduct merits it, you shall in time be made full members."
Bitterly the Stranger now regretted his unfortunate position. He
strode up and down one side of the cave, vowing inwardly that never
again would he allow himself to be led by a Hermit's Pupil. That
individual, however, was in a state of high delight. He ran about
from box to bale, looking at the rare treasures which some of the
robbers showed him.
The two captives were fed and lodged very well; and the next day the
Captain called them and the band together, and addressed them.
"We are now twenty-nine in number," he said; "twenty-seven full
members, and two on probation. To-night we are about to undertake a
very important expedition, in which we shall all join. We shall
fasten up the door of the cave, and at the proper time I shall tell
you to what place we are going."
An hour or two before midnight the band set out, accompanied by the
Stranger and the Hermit's Pupil; and when they had gone some miles
the Captain halted them to inform them of the object of the
expedition. "We are going," he said, "to rob the Queen's museum. It
is the most important business we have ever undertaken."
At these words the Stranger stepped forward and made a protest. "I
left the city yesterday," he said, "commissioned by the Queen to
obtain one or more objects of interest for her museum; and to return
now to rob an institution which I have promised to enrich will be
"You are right," said the Captain, after a moment's reflection, "such
an action would be highly dishonorable on your part. If you will give
me your word of honor that you will remain by this stone until our
return, the expedition will proceed without you."
The Stranger gave his word, and having been left sitting upon the
stone, soon dropped asleep, and so remained until he was awakened by
the return of the band, a little before daylight. They came slowly
toiling along, each man carrying an enormous bundle upon his back.
Near the end of the line was the Hermit's Pupil, bearing a load as
heavy as any of the others. The Stranger offered to relieve him for a
time of his burden, but the Pupil would not allow it.
"I don't wish these men to think I can't do as much as they can," he
said. "You ought to have been along. We had a fine time! We swept
that museum clean, I tell you! We didn't leave a thing on a shelf or
in a case."
"What sort of things are they," asked the Stranger.
"I don't know," replied the Pupil, "we didn't have any light for fear
people would notice it, but the moon shone in bright enough for us to
see all the shelves and the cases; and our orders were not to try and
examine any thing, but to take all that was there. The cases had
great cloth covers on them, and we spread these on the floor and made
bundles of the curiosities. We are going to examine them carefully as
soon as we get to the den."
It was broad daylight when the robbers reached their cave. The
bundles were laid in a great circle on the floor, and, at a given
signal, they were opened. For a moment each robber gazed blankly at
the contents of his bundle, and then they all began to fumble and
search among the piles of articles upon the cloths; but after a few
minutes, they arose, looking blanker and more disappointed than
"So far as I can see," said the Captain, "there is nothing in the
whole collection that I care for. I do not like a thing here!"
"Nor I!" "Nor I!" "Nor I!" cried each one of his band.
"I suppose," said the Captain, after musing for a moment, "that as
these things are of no use to us, we are bound in honor to take them
"Hold!" said the Stranger, stepping forward; "do not be in too great
a hurry to do that." He then told the Captain of the state of affairs
in the city, and explained in full the nature of the expedition he
had undertaken for the Queen. "I think it would be better," he said,
"if these things were not taken back for the present. If you have a
safe place where you can put them, I will in due time tell the Queen
where they are, and if she chooses she can send for them."
"Good!" said the Captain, "it is but right that she should bear part
of the labor of transportation. There is a disused cave, a mile or so
away, and we will tie up these bundles and carry them there; and then
we shall leave the matter to you. We take no further interest in it.
And if you have given your parole to the Queen to return in a week,"
the Captain further continued, "of course you'll have to keep it. Did
you give your parole also?" he asked, turning to the Pupil.
"Oh, no!" cried that youth; "there was no time fixed for my return.
And I am sure that I like a robber's life much better than that of a
hermit. There is ever so much more spice and dash in it."
"The Stranger was then told that if he would promise not to betray
the robbers he might depart. He gave the promise; but added sadly
that he had lost so much time that he was afraid he would not now be
able to attain the object of his search and return within the week.
"If that is the case," said the Captain, "we will gladly assist you."
"Comrades!" he cried, addressing his band, "after stowing this
useless booty in the disused cave, and taking some rest and
refreshment, we will set out again, and the object of our expedition
shall be to obtain something for the Queen's museum which will
interest every one."
Shortly after midnight the robbers set out, accompanied by the
Stranger and the Pupil. When they had walked about an hour, the
Captain, as was his custom, brought them to a halt that he might tell
them where they were going. "I have concluded," said he, "that no
place is so likely to contain what we are looking for as the castle
of the great magician, Alfrarmedj. We will, therefore, proceed
thither, and sack the castle."
"Will there not be great danger in attacking the castle of a
magician?" asked the Stranger in somewhat anxious tones.
"Of course there will be," said the Captain, "but we are not such
cowards as to hesitate on account of danger. Forward, my men!" And on
they all marched.
When they reached the magician's castle, the order was given to scale
the outer wall. This the robbers did with great agility, and the
Hermit's Pupil was among the first to surmount it. But the Stranger
was not used to climbing, and he had to be assisted over the wall.
Inside the great court-yard they perceived numbers of Weirds--strange
shadowy creatures who gathered silently around them; but not in the
least appalled, the robbers formed into a body, and marched into the
castle, the door of which stood open. They now entered a great hall,
having at one end a doorway before which hung a curtain. Following
their Captain, the robbers approached this curtain, and pushing it
aside, entered the room beyond. There, behind a large table, sat the
great magician, Alfrarmedj, busy over his mystic studies, which he
generally pursued in the dead hours of the night. Drawing their
swords, the robbers rushed upon him.
"Surrender!" cried the Captain, "and deliver to us the treasures of
The old magician raised his head from his book, and, pushing up his
spectacles from his forehead, looked at them mildly, and said:
Instantly, they all froze as hard as ice, each man remaining in the
position in which he was when the magical word was uttered. With
uplifted swords and glaring eyes they stood, rigid and stiff, before
the magician. After calmly surveying the group, the old man said:
"I see among you one who has an intelligent brow and truthful
expression. His head may thaw sufficiently for him to tell me what
means this untimely intrusion upon my studies."
The Stranger now felt his head begin to thaw, and in a few moments he
was able to speak. He then told the magician about the Queen's
museum, and how it had happened that he had come there with the
"Your motive is a good one," said the magician, "though your actions
are somewhat erratic; and I do not mind helping you to find what you
wish. In what class of objects do the people of the city take the
"Truly I do not know," said the Stranger.
"This is indeed surprising!" exclaimed Alfrarmedj. "How can you
expect to obtain that which will interest every one, when you do not
know what it is in which every one takes an interest? Go, find out
this, and then return to me, and I will see what can be done."
The magician then summoned his Weirds and ordered them to carry the
frozen visitors outside the castle walls. Each one of the rigid
figures was taken up by two Weirds, who carried him out and stood him
up in the road outside the castle. When all had been properly set up,
with the captain at their head, the gates were shut, and the magician
still sitting at his table, uttered the word, "Thaw!"
Instantly, the whole band thawed and marched away. At daybreak they
halted, and considered how they should find out what all the people
in the city took an interest in.
"One thing is certain," cried the Hermit's Pupil, "whatever it is, it
isn't the same thing."
"Your remark is not well put together," said the Stranger, "but I see
the force of it. It is true that different people like different
things. But how shall we find out what the different people like?"
"By asking them," said the Pupil.
"Good!" cried the Captain, who preferred action to words. "This night
we will ask them." He then drew upon the sand a plan of the
city,--(with which he was quite familiar, having carefully robbed it
for many years,)--and divided it into twenty-eight sections, each one
of which was assigned to a man. "I omit you," the Captain said to the
Stranger, "because I find that you are not expert at climbing." He
then announced that at night the band would visit the city, and that
each man should enter the houses in his district, and ask the people
what it was in which they took the greatest interest.
They then proceeded to the cave for rest and refreshment; and a
little before midnight they entered the city, and each member of the
band, including the Hermit's Pupil, proceeded to attend to the
business assigned to him. It was ordered that no one should disturb
the Queen, for they knew that what she took most interest in was the
museum. During the night nearly every person in the town was aroused
by a black-bearded robber, who had climbed into one of the windows of
the house, and who, instead of demanding money and jewels, simply
asked what it was in which that person took the greatest interest.
Upon receiving an answer, the robber repeated it until he had learned
it by heart, and then went to the next house. As so many of the
citizens were confined in prisons, which the robbers easily entered,
they transacted the business in much less time than they would
otherwise have required.
The Hermit's Pupil was very active, climbing into and out of houses
with great agility. He obtained his answers quite as easily as did
the others, but whenever he left a house there was a shade of
disappointment upon his features. Among the last places that he
visited was a room in which two boys were sleeping. He awoke them and
asked the usual question. While they were trembling in their bed, not
knowing what to answer, the Pupil drew his sword and exclaimed:
"Come, now, no prevarication; you know it's fishing-tackle. Speak
out!" Each of the boys then promptly declared it was fishing-tackle,
and the pupil left, greatly gratified. "I was very much afraid," he
said to himself, "that not a person in my district would say
fishing-tackle; and I am glad to think that there were two boys who
had sense enough to like something that is really interesting."
It was nearly daylight when the work was finished; and then the band
gathered together in an appointed place on the outside of the city,
where the Stranger awaited them. Each of the men had an excellent
memory, which was necessary in their profession, and they repeated to
the Stranger all the objects and subjects that had been mentioned to
them, and he wrote them down upon tablets.
The next night, accompanied by the band, he proceeded to the castle
of the magician, the great gate of which was silently opened for them
by the Weirds. When they were ushered into the magician's room,
Alfrarmedj took the tablets from the Stranger and examined them
"All these things should make a very complete collection," he said,
"and I think I have specimens of the various objects in my
interminable vaults." He then called his Weirds and, giving one of
them the tablets, told him to go with his companions into the vaults
and gather enough of the things therein mentioned to fill a large
museum. In half an hour the Weirds returned and announced that the
articles were ready in the great court-yard.
"Go, then," said the magician, "and assist these men to carry them to
the Queen's museum."
The Stranger then heartily thanked Alfrarmedj for the assistance he
had given; and the band, accompanied by a number of Weirds, proceeded
to carry the objects of interest to the Queen's museum. It was a
strange procession. Half a dozen Weirds carried a stuffed mammoth,
followed by others bearing the skeleton of a whale, while the robbers
and the rest of their queer helpers were loaded with every thing
relating to history, science, and art which ought to be in a really
good museum. When the whole collection had been put in place upon the
floors, the shelves, and in the cases, it was nearly morning. The
robbers, with the Hermit's Pupil, retired to the cave; the Weirds
disappeared; while the Stranger betook himself to the Queen's palace,
where, as soon as the proper hour arrived, he requested an audience.
When he saw the Queen, he perceived that she was very pale and that
her cheeks bore traces of recent tears. "You are back in good time,"
she said to him, "but it makes very little difference whether you
have succeeded in your mission or not. There is no longer any museum.
There has been a great robbery, and the thieves have carried off the
whole of the vast and valuable collection which I have been so long
"I know of that affair," said the Stranger, "and I have already
placed in your museum-building the collection which I have obtained.
If your Majesty pleases, I shall be glad to have you look at it. It
may, in some degree, compensate for that which has been stolen."
"Compensate!" cried the Queen. "Nothing can compensate for it; I do
not even wish to see what you have brought."
"Be that as your Majesty pleases," said the Stranger; "but I will be
so bold as to say that I have great hopes that the collection which I
have obtained will interest the people. Will your Majesty graciously
allow them to see it?"
"I have no objection to that," said the Queen; "and indeed I shall be
very glad if they can be made to be interested in the museum. I will
give orders that the prisons be opened, so that everybody can go to
see what you have brought; and those who shall be interested in it
may return to their homes. I did not release my obstinate subjects
when the museum was robbed, because their fault then was just as
great as it was before; and it would not be right that they should
profit by my loss."
The Queen's proclamation was made, and for several days the museum
was crowded with people moving from morning till night through the
vast collection of stuffed animals, birds, and fishes; rare and
brilliant insects; mineral and vegetable curiosities; beautiful works
of art; and all the strange, valuable, and instructive objects which
had been brought from the interminable vaults of the magician
Alfrarmedj. The Queen's officers, who had been sent to observe
whether or not the people were interested, were in no doubt upon this
point. Every eye sparkled with delight, for every one found something
which was the very thing he wished to see; and in the throng was the
Hermit's Pupil, standing in rapt ecstasy before a large case
containing all sorts of fishing-tackle, from the smallest hooks for
little minnows to the great irons and spears used in capturing
No one went back to prison, and the city was full of re-united
households and happy homes. On the morning of the fourth day, a grand
procession of citizens came to the palace to express to the Queen
their delight and appreciation of her museum. The great happiness of
her subjects could but please the Queen. She called the Stranger to
her, and said to him:
"Tell me how you came to know what it was that would interest my
"I asked them," said the Stranger. "That is to say, I arranged that
they should be asked."
"That was well done," said the Queen; "but it is a great pity that my
long labors in their behalf should have been lost. For many years I
have been a collector of button-holes; and there was nothing valuable
or rare in the line of my studies of which I had not an original
specimen or a facsimile. My agents brought me from foreign lands,
even from the most distant islands of the sea, button-holes of every
kind; in silk, in wool, in cloth of gold, in every imaginable
material, and of those which could not be obtained careful copies
were made. There was not a duplicate specimen in the whole
collection; only one of each kind; nothing repeated. Never before was
there such a museum. With all my power I strove to educate my people
up to an appreciation of button-holes; but, with the exception of a
few tailors and seamstresses, nobody took the slightest interest in
what I had provided for their benefit. I am glad that my people are
happy, but I cannot restrain a sigh for the failure of my efforts."
"The longer your Majesty lives," said the Stranger, "the better you
will understand that we cannot make other people like a thing simply
because we like it ourselves."
"Stranger," said the Queen, gazing upon him with admiration, "are you
a king in disguise?"
"I am," he replied.
"I thought I perceived it," said the Queen, "and I wish to add that I
believe you are far better able to govern this kingdom than I am. If
you choose I will resign it to you."
"Not so, your majesty," said the other; "I would not deprive you of
your royal position, but I should be happy to share it with you."
"That will answer very well," said the Queen. And turning to an
attendant, she gave orders that preparations should be made for their
marriage on the following day.
After the royal wedding, which was celebrated with great pomp and
grandeur, the Queen paid a visit to the museum, and, much to her
surprise, was greatly delighted and interested. The King then
informed her that he happened to know where the robbers had stored
her collection, which they could not sell or make use of, and if she
wished, he would regain the collection and erect a building for its
"We will not do that at present," said the Queen. "When I shall have
thoroughly examined and studied all these objects, most of which are
entirely new to me, we will decide about the button-holes."
The Hermit's Pupil did not return to his cave. He was greatly
delighted with the spice and dash of a robber's life, so different
from that of a hermit; and he determined, if possible, to change his
business and enter the band. He had a conversation with the Captain
on the subject, and that individual encouraged him in his purpose.
"I am tired," the Captain said, "of a robber's life. I have stolen so
much, that I cannot use what I have. I take no further interest in
accumulating spoils. The quiet of a hermit's life attracts me; and,
if you like we will change places. I will become the pupil of your
old master, and you shall be the captain of my band."
The change was made. The Captain retired to the cave of the Hermit's
Pupil, while the latter, with the hearty consent of all the men, took
command of the band of robbers.
When the King heard of this change, he was not at all pleased, and he
sent for the ex-pupil.
"I am willing to reward you," he said, "for assisting me in my recent
undertaking; but I cannot allow you to lead a band of robbers in my
A dark shade of disappointment passed over the ex-pupil's features,
and his face lengthened visibly.
"It is too bad," he said, "to be thus cut short at the very outset of
a brilliant career. I'll tell you what I'll do," he added suddenly,
his face brightening, "if you'll let me keep on in my new profession,
I'll promise to do nothing but rob robbers."
"Very well," said the King, "if you will confine yourself to that,
you may retain your position."
The members of the band were perfectly willing to rob in the new way,
for it seemed quite novel and exciting to them. The first place they
robbed was their own cave, and as they all had excellent memories,
they knew from whom the various goods had been stolen, and every
thing was returned to its proper owner. The ex-pupil then led his
band against the other dens of robbers in the kingdom, and his
movements were conducted with such dash and vigor that the various
hordes scattered in every direction, while the treasures in their
dens were returned to the owners, or, if these could not be found,
were given to the poor. In a short time every robber, except those
led by the ex-pupil, had gone into some other business; and the
victorious youth led his band into other kingdoms to continue the
great work of robbing robbers.
The Queen never sent for the collection of curiosities which the
robbers had stolen from her. She was so much interested in the new
museum that she continually postponed the re-establishment of her old
one; and, as far as can be known, the button-holes are still in the
cave where the robbers shut them up.
CHRISTMAS BEFORE LAST;
OR, THE FRUIT OF THE FRAGILE PALM.
* * * * *
The "Horn o' Plenty" was a fine, big, old-fashioned ship, very high
in the bow, very high in the stern, with a quarter-deck always
carpeted in fine weather, because her captain could not see why one
should not make himself comfortable at sea as well as on land.
Covajos Maroots was her captain, and a fine, jolly, old-fashioned,
elderly sailor he was. The "Horn o' Plenty" always sailed upon one
sea, and always between two ports, one on the west side of the sea,
and one on the east. The port on the west was quite a large city, in
which Captain Covajos had a married son, and the port on the east was
another city in which he had a married daughter. In each family he
had several grandchildren; and, consequently, it was a great joy to
the jolly old sailor to arrive at either port. The Captain was very
particular about his cargo, and the "Horn o' Plenty" was generally
laden with good things to eat, or sweet things to smell, or fine
things to wear, or beautiful things to look at. Once a merchant
brought to him some boxes of bitter aloes, and mustard plasters, but
Captain Covajos refused to take them into his ship.
"I know," said he, "that such things are very useful and necessary at
times, but you would better send them over in some other vessel. The
'Horn o' Plenty' has never carried any thing that to look at, to
taste, or to smell, did not delight the souls of old and young. I am
sure you cannot say that of these commodities. If I were to put such
things on board my ship, it would break the spell which more than
fifty savory voyages have thrown around it."
There were sailors who sailed upon that sea who used to say that
sometimes, when the weather was hazy and they could not see far, they
would know they were about to meet the "Horn o' Plenty" before she
came in sight; her planks and timbers, and even her sails and masts,
had gradually become so filled with the odor of good things that the
winds that blew over her were filled with an agreeable fragrance.
There was another thing about which Captain Covajos was very
particular; he always liked to arrive at one of his ports a few days
before Christmas. Never, in the course of his long life, had the old
sailor spent a Christmas at sea; and now that he had his fine
grandchildren to help make the holidays merry, it would have grieved
him very much if he had been unable to reach one or the other of his
ports in good season. His jolly old vessel was generally heavily
laden, and very slow, and there were many days of calms on that sea
when she did not sail at all, so that her voyages were usually very,
very long. But the Captain fixed the days of sailing so as to give
himself plenty of time to get to the other end of his course before
Christmas came around.
One spring, however, he started too late, and when he was about the
middle of his voyage, he called to him Baragat Bean, his old
boatswain. This venerable sailor had been with the Captain ever since
he had commanded the "Horn o' Plenty," and on important occasions he
was always consulted in preference to the other officers, none of
whom had served under Captain Covajos more then fifteen or twenty
"Baragat," said the Captain, "we have just passed the Isle of
Guinea-Hens. You can see its one mountain standing up against the sky
to the north."
"Aye, aye, sir," said old Baragat; "there she stands, the same as
"That makes it plain," said the Captain, "that we are not yet
half-way across, and I am very much afraid that I shall not be able
to reach my dear daughter's house before Christmas."
"That would be doleful, indeed," said Baragat; "but I've feared
something of the kind, for we've had calms nearly every other day,
and sometimes, when the wind did blow, it came from the wrong
direction, and it's my belief that the ship sailed backward."
"That was very bad management," said the Captain. "The chief mate
should have seen to it that the sails were turned in such a manner
that the ship could not go backward. If that sort of thing happened
often, it would become quite a serious affair."
"But what is done can't be helped," said the boatswain, "and I don't
see how you are going to get into port before Christmas."
"Nor do I," said the Captain, gazing out over the sea.
"It would give me a sad turn, sir," said Baragat, "to see you spend
Christmas at sea; a thing you never did before, nor ever shall do, if
I can help it. If you'll take my advice, sir, you'll turn around, and
go back. It's a shorter distance to the port we started from than to
the one we are going to, and if we turn back now, I am sure we all
shall be on shore before the holidays."
"Go back to my son's house!" exclaimed Captain Covajos, "where I was
last winter! Why, that would be like spending last Christmas over
"But that would be better than having none at all, sir," said the
boatswain, "and a Christmas at sea would be about equal to none."
"Good!" exclaimed the Captain. "I will give up the coming Christmas
with my daughter and her children, and go back and spend last
Christmas over again with my son and his dear boys and girls. Have
the ship turned around immediately, Baragat, and tell the chief mate
I do not wish to sail backward if it can possibly be avoided."
For a week or more the "Horn o' Plenty" sailed back upon her track
towards the city where dwelt the Captain's son. The weather was fine,
the carpet was never taken up from the quarter-deck, and every thing
was going on very well, when a man, who happened to have an errand at
one of the topmasts, came down, and reported that, far away to the
north, he had seen a little open boat with some people in it.
"Ah me!" said Captain Covajos, "it must be some poor fellows who are
shipwrecked. It will take us out of our course, but we must not leave
them to their fate. Have the ship turned about, so that it will sail
It was not very long before they came up with the boat; and, much to
the Captain's surprise, he saw that it was filled with boys.
"Who are you?" he cried as soon as he was near enough. "And where do
you come from?"
"We are the First Class in Long Division," said the oldest boy, "and
we are cast away. Have you any thing to eat that you can spare us? We
are almost famished."
"We have plenty of every thing," said the Captain. "Come on board
instantly, and all your wants shall be supplied."
"How long have you been without food?" he asked, when the boys were
on the deck of the vessel.
"We have had nothing to eat since breakfast," said one of them; "and
it is now late in the afternoon. Some of us are nearly dead from
"It is very hard for boys to go so long without eating," said the
good Captain. And leading them below, he soon set them to work upon a
Not until their hunger was fully satisfied did he ask them how they
came to be cast away.
"You see, sir," said the oldest boy, "that we and the Multiplication
Class had a holiday to-day, and each class took a boat and determined
to have a race, so as to settle, once for all, which was the highest
branch of arithmetic, multiplication or long division. Our class
rowed so hard that we entirely lost sight of the Multiplicationers,
and found indeed that we were out of sight of every thing; so that,
at last, we did not know which was the way back, and thus we became
"Where is your school?" asked the Captain.
"It is on Apple Island," said the boy; "and, although it is a long
way off for a small boat with only four oars for nine boys, it can't
be very far for a ship."
"That is quite likely," said the Captain, "and we shall take you
home. Baragat, tell the chief mate to have the vessel turned toward
Apple Island, that we may restore these boys to their parents and
Now, the chief mate had not the least idea in the world where Apple
Island was, but he did not like to ask, because that would be
confessing his ignorance; so he steered his vessel toward a point
where he believed he had once seen an island, which, probably, was
the one in question. The "Horn o' Plenty" sailed in this direction
all night, and when day broke, and there was no island in sight, she
took another course; and so sailed this way and that for six or seven
days, without ever seeing a sign of land. All this time, the First
Class in Long Division was as happy as it could be, for it was having
a perfect holiday; fishing off the sides of the vessel, climbing up
the ladders and ropes, and helping the sailors whistle for wind. But
the Captain now began to grow a little impatient, for he felt he was
losing time; so he sent for the chief mate, and said to him mildly
"I know it is out of the line of your duty to search for island
schools, but, if you really think that you do not know where Apple
Island lies, I wish you to say so, frankly and openly."
"Frankly and openly," answered the mate, "I don't think I do."
"Very well," said the Captain. "Now, that is a basis to work upon,
and we know where we stand. You can take a little rest, and let the
second mate find the island. But I can only give him three days in
which to do it. We really have no time to spare."
The second mate was very proud of the responsibility placed upon him,
and immediately ordered the vessel to be steered due south.
"One is just as likely," he said, "to find a totally unknown place by
going straight ahead in a certain direction, as by sailing here,
there, and everywhere. In this way, you really get over more water,
and there is less wear and tear of the ship and rigging."
So he sailed due south for two days, and at the end of that time they
came in sight of land. This was quite a large island, and when they
approached near enough, they saw upon its shores a very handsome
"Is this Apple Island?" said Captain Covajos to the oldest boy.
"Well, sir," answered the youth, "I am not sure I can say with
certainty that I truly believe that it is; but, I think, if we were
to go on shore, the people there would be able to tell us how to go
to Apple Island."
"Very likely," said the good Captain; "and we will go on shore and
make inquiries.--And it has struck me, Baragat," he said, "that
perhaps the merchants in the city where my son lives may be somewhat
annoyed when the 'Horn o' Plenty' comes back with all their goods on
board, and not disposed of. Not understanding my motives, they may be
disposed to think ill of me. Consequently the idea has come into my
head, that it might be a good thing to stop here for a time, and try
to dispose of some of our merchandise. The city seems to be quite
prosperous, and I have no doubt there are a number of merchants
So the "Horn o' Plenty" was soon anchored in the harbor, and as many
of the officers and crew as could be spared went on shore to make
inquiries. Of course the First Class in Long Division was not left
behind; and, indeed, they were ashore as soon as anybody. The Captain
and his companions were cordially welcomed by some of the dignitaries
of the city who had come down to the harbor to see the strange
vessel; but no one could give any information in regard to Apple
Island, the name of which had never been heard on those shores. The
Captain was naturally desirous of knowing at what place he had
landed, and was informed that this was the Island of the Fragile
"That is rather an odd name," said the old Captain. "Why is it so
"The reason is this," said his informant. "Near the centre of the
island stands a tall and very slender palm-tree, which has been
growing there for hundreds of years. It bears large and handsome
fruit which is something like the cocoanut; and, in its perfection,
is said to be a transcendently delicious fruit."
"Said to be!" exclaimed the Captain; "are you not positive about it?"
"No," said the other; "no one living has ever tasted the fruit in its
perfection. When it becomes overripe, it drops to the ground, and,
even then, it is considered royal property, and is taken to the
palace for the King's table. But on fete-days and grand occasions
small bits of it are distributed to the populace."
"Why don't you pick the fruit," asked Captain Covajos, "when it is in
its best condition to eat?"
"It would be impossible," said the citizen, "for any one to climb up
that tree, the trunk of which is so extremely delicate and fragile
that the weight of a man would probably snap it; and, of course, a
ladder placed against it would produce the same result. Many attempts
have been made to secure this fruit at the proper season, but all of
them have failed. Another palm-tree of a more robust sort was once
planted near this one in the hope that when it grew high enough, men
could climb up the stronger tree and get the fruit from the other.
But, although we waited many years the second tree never attained
sufficient height, and it was cut down."
"It is a great pity," said the Captain; "but I suppose it cannot be
helped." And then he began to make inquiries about the merchants in
the place, and what probability there was of his doing a little trade
here. The Captain soon discovered that the cargo of his ship was made
up of goods which were greatly desired by the citizens of this place;
and for several days he was very busy in selling the good things to
eat, the sweet things to smell, the fine things to wear, and the
beautiful things to look at, with which the hold of the "Horn o'
Plenty" was crowded.
During this time the First Class in Long Division roamed, in delight,
over the city. The busy streets, the shops, the handsome buildings,
and the queer sights which they occasionally met, interested and
amused them greatly. But still the boys were not satisfied. They had
heard of the Fragile Palm, and they made up their minds to go and
have a look at it. Therefore, taking a guide, they tramped out into
the country, and in about an hour they came in sight of the beautiful
tree standing in the centre of the plain. The trunk was, indeed,
exceedingly slender, and, as the guide informed them, the wood was of
so very brittle a nature that if the tree had not been protected from
the winds by the high hills which encircled it, it would have been
snapped off ages ago. Under the broad tuft of leaves that formed its
top, the boys saw hanging large clusters of the precious fruit; great
nuts as big as their heads.
"At what time of the year," asked the oldest boy, "is that fruit just
ripe enough to eat?"
"Now," answered the guide. "This is the season when it is in the most
perfect condition. In about a month it will become entirely too ripe
and soft, and will drop. But, even then, the King and all the rest of
us are glad enough to get a taste of it."
"I should think the King would be exceedingly eager to get some of
it, just as it is," said the boy.
"Indeed he is!" replied the guide. "He and his father, and I don't
know how many grandfathers back, have offered large rewards to any
one who would procure them this fruit in its best condition. But
nobody has ever been able to get any yet."
"The reward still holds good, I suppose," said the head boy.
"Oh, yes," answered the guide; "there never was a King who so much
desired to taste the fruit as our present monarch."
The oldest boy looked up at the top of the tree, shut one eye, and
gave his head a little wag. Whereupon every boy in the class looked
up, shut one eye, and slightly wagged his head. After which the
oldest boy said that he thought it was about time for them to go back
to the ship.
As soon as they reached the vessel, and could talk together freely,
the boys had an animated discussion. It was unanimously agreed that
they would make an attempt to get some of the precious fruit from the
Fragile Palm, and the only difference of opinion among them was as to
how it should be done. Most of them were in favor of some method of
climbing the tree and trusting to its not breaking. But this the
oldest boy would not listen to; the trunk might snap, and then
somebody would be hurt, and he felt, in a measure, responsible for
the rest of the class. At length a good plan was proposed by a boy
who had studied mechanics.
"What we ought to do with that tree," said he, "is to put a hinge
into her. Then we could let her down gently, pick off the fruit, and
set her up again.
"But how are you going to do it?" asked the others.
"This is the way," said the boy who had studied mechanics. "You take
a saw, and then, about two feet from the ground, you begin and saw
down diagonally, for a foot and a half, to the centre of the trunk.
Then you go on the other side, and saw down in the same way, the two
outs meeting each other. Now you have the upper part of the trunk
ending in a wedge, which fits into a cleft in the lower part of the
trunk. Then, about nine inches below the place where you first began
to saw, you bore a hole straight through both sides of the cleft and
the wedge between them. Then you put an iron bolt through this hole,
and you have your tree on a hinge, only she wont be apt to move
because she fits in so snug and tight. Then you get a long rope, and
put one end in a slipknot loosely around the trunk. Then you get a
lot of poles, and tie them end to end, and push this slip-knot up
until it is somewhere near the top, when you pull it tight. Then you
take another rope with a slip-knot, and push this a little more than
half-way up the trunk. By having two ropes, that way, you prevent too
much strain coming on any one part of the trunk. Then, after that,
you take a mallet and chisel and round off the lower corners of the
wedge, so that it will turn easily in the cleft. Then we take hold of
the ropes, let her down gently, pick off the fruit, and haul her up
again. That will all be easy enough."
This plan delighted the boys, and they all pronounced in its favor;
but the oldest one suggested that it would be better to fasten the
ropes to the trunk before they began to saw upon it, and another boy
asked how they were going to keep the tree standing when they hauled
her up again.
"Oh, that is easy," said the one who had studied mechanics; "you just
bore another hole about six inches above the first one, and put in
another bolt. Then, of course, she can't move."
This settled all the difficulties, and it was agreed to start out
early the next morning, gather the fruit, and claim the reward the
King had offered. They accordingly went to the Captain and asked him
for a sharp saw, a mallet and chisel, an auger, two iron bolts, and
two very long ropes. These, having been cheerfully given to them,
were put away in readiness for the work to be attempted.
Very early on the next morning, the First Class in Long Division set
out for the Fragile Palm, carrying their tools and ropes. Few people
were awake as they passed through the city, and, without being
observed, they reached the little plain on which the tree stood. The
ropes were attached at the proper places, the tree was sawn,
diagonally, according to the plan; the bolt was put in, and the
corners of the wedge were rounded off. Then the eldest boy produced a
pound of butter, whereupon his comrades, who had seized the ropes,
paused in surprise and asked him why he had brought the butter.
"I thought it well," was the reply, "to bring along some butter,
because, when the tree is down, we can grease the hinge, and then it
will not be so hard to pull it up again."
When all was ready, eight of the boys took hold of the long ropes,
while another one with a pole pushed against the trunk of the Fragile
Palm. When it began to lean over a little, he dropped his pole and
ran to help the others with the ropes. Slowly the tree moved on its
hinge, descending at first very gradually; but it soon began to move
with greater rapidity, although the boys held it back with all their
strength; and, in spite of their most desperate efforts, the top came
to the ground at last with a great thump. And then they all dropped
their ropes, and ran for the fruit. Fortunately the great nuts
incased in their strong husks were not in the least injured, and the
boys soon pulled them off, about forty in all. Some of the boys were
in favor of cracking open a few of the nuts and eating them, but this
the eldest boy positively forbade.
"This fruit," he said, "is looked upon as almost sacred, and if we
were to eat any of it, it is probable that we should be put to death,
which would be extremely awkward for fellows who have gone to all the
trouble we have had. We must set up the tree and carry the fruit to
According to this advice, they thoroughly greased the hinge in the
tree with the butter, and then set themselves to work to haul up the
trunk. This, however, was much more difficult than letting it down;
and they had to lift up the head of it, and prop it up on poles,
before they could pull upon it with advantage. The tree, although
tall, was indeed a very slender one, with a small top, and, if it had
been as fragile as it was supposed to be, the boys' efforts would
surely have broken it. At last, after much tugging and warm work,
they pulled it into an upright position, and put in the second bolt.
They left the ropes on the tree because, as some of them had
suggested, the people might want to let the tree down again the next
year. It would have been difficult for the boys to carry in their
arms the great pile of fruit they had gathered; but, having noticed a
basket-maker's cottage on their way to the tree, two of them were
sent to buy one of his largest baskets or hampers. This was attached
to two long poles, and, having been filled with the nuts, the boys
took the poles on their shoulders, and marched into the city.
On their way to the palace they attracted a great crowd, and when
they were ushered into the presence of the King, his surprise and
delight knew no bounds. At first he could scarcely believe his eyes;
but he had seen the fruit so often that there could be no mistake
"I shall not ask you," he said to the boys, "how you procured this
fruit, and thus accomplished a deed which has been the object of the
ambition of myself and my forefathers. All I ask is, did you leave
the tree standing?"
"We did," said the boys.
"Then all that remains to be done," said His Majesty, "is to give you
the reward you have so nobly earned. Treasurer, measure out to each
of them a quart of gold coin. And pray be quick about it, for I am
wild with desire to have a table spread, and one of these nuts
cracked, that I may taste of its luscious contents."
The boys, however, appeared a little dissatisfied. Huddling together,
they consulted in a low tone, and then the eldest boy addressed the
"May it please your Majesty," he said; "we should very much prefer to
have you give each of us one of those nuts instead of a quart of
The King looked grave. "This is a much greater reward," he said,
"than I had ever expected to pay; but, since you ask it, you must
have it. You have done something which none of my subjects has ever
been able to accomplish, and it is right, therefore, that you should
be fully satisfied."
So he gave them each a nut, with which they departed in triumph to
By the afternoon of the next day, the Captain had sold all his cargo
at very good prices; and when the money was safely stored away in the
"Horn o' Plenty," he made ready to sail, for he declared he had
really no time to spare. "I must now make all possible haste," he
said to old Baragat, "to find Apple Island, put these boys ashore,
and then speed away to the city where lives my son. We must not fail
to get there in time to spend last Christmas over again."
On the second day, after the "Horn o' Plenty" had left the Island of
the Fragile Palm, one of the sailors who happened to be aloft noticed
a low, black, and exceedingly unpleasant-looking vessel rapidly
approaching. This soon proved to be the ship of a band of corsairs,
who, having heard of the large amount of money on the "Horn o'
Plenty," had determined to pursue her and capture the rich prize. All
sails were set upon the "Horn o' Plenty," but it soon became plain
that she could never outsail the corsair vessel.
"What our ship can do better than any thing else," said Baragat to
the Captain, "is to stop short. Stop her short, and let the other one
This manoeuvre was executed, but, although the corsair passed rapidly
by, not being able to stop so suddenly, it soon turned around and
came back, its decks swarming with savage men armed to the teeth.
"They are going to board us," cried Baragat. "They are getting out
their grappling-irons, and they will fasten the two ships together."
"Let all assemble on the quarter-deck," said the Captain. "It is
higher there, and we shall not be so much exposed to accidents."
The corsair ship soon ran alongside the "Horn o' Plenty," and in a
moment the two vessels were fastened together; and then the corsairs,
every man of them, each with cutlass in hand and a belt full of dirks
and knives, swarmed up the side of the "Horn o' Plenty," and sprang
upon its central deck. Some of the ferocious fellows, seeing the
officers and crew all huddled together upon the quarter-deck, made a
movement in that direction. This so frightened the chief mate that he
sprang down upon the deck of the corsair ship. A panic now arose, and
he was immediately followed by the officers and crew. The boys, of
course, were not to be left behind; and the Captain and Baragat felt
themselves bound not to desert the crew, and so they jumped also.
None of the corsairs interfered with this proceeding, for each one of
them was anxious to find the money at once. When the passengers and
crew of the "Horn o' Plenty" were all on board the corsair ship,
Baragat came to the Captain, and said:
"If I were you, sir, I'd cast off those grapnels, and separate the
vessels. If we don't do that those rascals, when they have finished
robbing our money-chests, will come back here and murder us all."
"That is a good idea," said Captain Covajos; and he told the chief
mate to give orders to cast off the grapnels, push the two vessels
apart, and set some of the sails.
When this had been done, the corsair vessel began to move away from
the other, and was soon many lengths distant from her. When the
corsairs came on deck and perceived what had happened, they were
infuriated, and immediately began to pursue their own vessel with the
one they had captured. But the "Horn o' Plenty" could not, by any
possibility, sail as fast as the corsair ship, and the latter easily
kept away from her.
"Now, then," said Baragat to the Captain, "what you have to do is
easy enough. Sail straight for our port and those sea-robbers will
follow you; for, of course, they will wish to get their own vessel
back again, and will hope, by some carelessness on our part, to
overtake us. In the mean time the money will be safe enough, for they
will have no opportunity of spending it; and when we come to port, we
can take some soldiers on board, and go back and capture those
fellows. They can never sail away from us on the 'Horn o' Plenty.'"
"That is an admirable plan," said the Captain, "and I shall carry it
out; but I cannot sail to port immediately. I must first find Apple
Island and land these boys, whose parents and guardians are probably
growing very uneasy. I suppose the corsairs will continue to follow
us wherever we go."
"I hope so," said Baragat; "at any rate we shall see."
The First Class in Long Division was very much delighted with the
change of vessels, and the boys rambled everywhere, and examined with
great interest all that belonged to the corsairs. They felt quite
easy about the only treasures they possessed, because, when they had
first seen the piratical vessel approaching, they had taken the
precious nuts which had been given to them by the King, and had
hidden them at the bottom of some large boxes, in which the Captain
kept the sailors' winter clothes.
"In this warm climate," said the eldest boy, "the robbers will never
meddle with those winter clothes, and our precious fruit will be
"If you had taken my advice," said one of the other boys, "we should
have eaten some of the nuts. Those, at least, we should have been
"And we should have had that many less to show to the other classes,"
said the eldest boy. "Nuts like these, I am told, if picked at the
proper season, will keep for a long time."
For some days the corsairs on board the "Horn o' Plenty" followed
their own vessel, but then they seemed to despair of ever being able
to overtake it, and steered in another direction. This threatened to
ruin all the plans of Captain Covajos, and his mind became troubled.
Then the boy who had studied mechanics came forward and said to the
"I'll tell you what I'd do, sir, if I were you; I'd follow your old
ship, and when night came on I'd sail up quite near to her, and let
some of your sailors swim quietly over, and fasten a cable to her,
and then you could tow her after you wherever you wished to go."
"But they might unfasten the cable, or cut it," said Baragat, who was
"That could easily be prevented," said the boy. "At their end of the
cable must be a stout chain which they cannot cut, and it must be
fastened so far beneath the surface of the water that they will not
be able to reach it to unfasten it."
"A most excellent plan," said Captain Covajos; "let it be carried
As soon as it became quite dark, the corsair vessel quietly
approached the other, and two stout sailors from Finland, who swam
very well, were ordered to swim over and attach the chain-end of a
long cable to the "Horn o' Plenty." It was a very difficult
operation, for the chain was heavy, but the men succeeded at last,
and returned to report.
"We put the chain on, fast and strong sir," they said to the Captain;
"and six feet under water. But the only place we could find to make
it fast to was the bottom of the rudder."
"That will do very well," remarked Baragat; "for the 'Horn o' Plenty'
sails better backward than forward, and will not be so hard to tow."
For week after week, and month after month, Captain Covajos, in the
corsair vessel, sailed here and there in search of Apple Island,
always towing after him the "Horn o' Plenty," with the corsairs on
board, but never an island with a school on it could they find; and
one day old Baragat came to the Captain and said:
"If I were you, sir, I'd sail no more in these warm regions. I am
quite sure that apples grow in colder latitudes, and are never found
so far south as this."
"That is a good idea," said Captain Covajos. "We should sail for the
north if we wished to find an island of apples. Have the vessel
And so, for days and weeks, the two vessels slowly moved on to the
north. One day the Captain made some observations and calculations,
and then he hastily summoned Baragat.
"Do you know," said he, "that I find it is now near the end of
November, and I am quite certain that we shall not get to the port
where my son lives in time to celebrate last Christmas again. It is
dreadfully slow work, towing after us the 'Horn o' Plenty,' full of
corsairs, wherever we go. But we cannot cast her off and sail
straight for our port, for I should lose my good ship, the merchants
would lose all their money, and the corsairs would go unpunished;
and, besides all that, think of the misery of the parents and
guardians of those poor boys. No; I must endeavor to find Apple
Island. And if I cannot reach port in time to spend last Christmas
with my son, I shall certainly get there in season for Christmas
before last. It is true that I spent that Christmas with my daughter,
but I cannot go on to her now. I am much nearer the city where my son
lives; and, besides, it is necessary to go back, and give the
merchants their money. So now we shall have plenty of time, and need
not feel hurried."
"No," said Baragat, heaving a vast sigh, "we need not feel hurried."
The mind of the eldest boy now became very much troubled, and he
called his companions about him. "I don't like at all," said he,
"this sailing to the north. It is now November, and, although it is
warm enough at this season in the southern part of the sea, it will
become colder and colder as we go on. The consequence of this will be
that those corsairs will want winter clothes, they will take them out
of the Captain's chests, and they will find our fruit."
The boys groaned. "That is true," said one of them; "but still we
wish to go back to our island."
"Of course," said the eldest boy, "it is quite proper that we should
return to Long Division. But think of the hard work we did to get
that fruit, and think of the quarts of gold we gave up for it! It
would be too bad to lose it now!"
It was unanimously agreed that it would be too bad to lose the fruit,
and it was also unanimously agreed that they wished to go back to
Apple Island. But what to do about it, they did not know.
Day by day the weather grew colder and colder, and the boys became
more and more excited and distressed for fear they should lose their
precious fruit. The eldest boy lay awake for several nights, and then
a plan came into his head. He went to Captain Covajos and proposed
that he should send a flag of truce over to the corsairs, offering to
exchange winter clothing. He would send over to them the heavy
garments they had left on their own vessel, and in return would take
the boxes of clothes intended for the winter wear of his sailors. In
this way, they would get their fruit back without the corsairs
knowing any thing about it. The Captain considered this an excellent
plan, and ordered the chief mate to take a boat and a flag of truce,
and go over to the "Horn o' Plenty," and make the proposition. The
eldest boy and two of the others insisted on going also, in order
that there might be no mistake about the boxes. But when the
flag-of-truce party reached the "Horn o' Plenty" they found not a
corsair there! Every man of them had gone. They had taken with them
all the money-chests, but to the great delight of the boys, the boxes
of winter clothes had not been disturbed; and in them still nestled,
safe and sound, the precious nuts of the Fragile Palm.
When the matter had been thoroughly looked into, it became quite
evident what the corsairs had done. There had been only one boat on
board the "Horn o' Plenty," and that was the one on which the First
Class in Long Division had arrived. The night before, the two vessels
had passed within a mile or so of a large island, which the Captain
had approached in the hope it was the one they were looking for, and
they passed it so slowly that the corsairs had time to ferry
themselves over, a few at a time, in the little boat, taking with
them the money,--and all without discovery.
Captain Covajos was greatly depressed when he heard of the loss of
all the money.
"I shall have a sad tale to tell my merchants," he said, "and
Christmas before last will not be celebrated so joyously as it was
the first time. But we cannot help what has happened, and we all must
endeavor to bear our losses with patience. We shall continue our
search for Apple Island, but I shall go on board my own ship, for I
have greatly missed my carpeted quarter-deck and my other comforts.
The chief mate, however, and a majority of the crew shall remain on
board the corsair vessel, and continue to tow us. The 'Horn o'
Plenty' sails better stern foremost, and we shall go faster that
The boys were overjoyed at recovering their fruit, and most of them
were in favor of cracking two or three of the great nuts, and eating
their contents in honor of the occasion, but the eldest boy dissuaded
"The good Captain," he said, "has been very kind in endeavoring to
take us back to our school, and still intends to keep up the search
for dear old Apple Island. The least we can do for him is to give him
this fruit, which is all we have, and let him do what he pleases with
it. This is the only way in which we can show our gratitude to him."
The boys turned their backs on one another, and each of them gave his
eyes a little rub, but they all agreed to give the fruit to the
When the good old man received his present, he was much affected. "I
will accept what you offer me," he said; "for if I did not, I know
your feelings would be wounded. But you must keep one of the nuts for
yourselves. And, more than that, if we do not find Apple Island in
the course of the coming year, I invite you all to spend Christmas
before last over again, with me at my son's house."
All that winter, the two ships sailed up and down, and here and
there, but never could they find Apple Island. When Christmas-time
came, old Baragat went around among the boys and the crew, and told
them it would be well not to say a word on the subject to the
Captain, for his feelings were very tender in regard to spending
Christmas away from his families, and the thing had never happened
before. So nobody made any allusion to the holidays, and they passed
over as if they had been ordinary days.
During the spring, and all through the summer, the two ships kept up
the unavailing search, but when the autumn began, Captain Covajos
said to old Baragat: "I am very sorry, but I feel that I can no
longer look for Apple Island. I must go back and spend Christmas
before last over again, with my dearest son; and if these poor boys
never return to their homes, I am sure they cannot say it was any
fault of mine."
"No, sir," said Baragat, "I think you have done all that could be
expected of you."
So the ships sailed to the city on the west side of the sea; and the
Captain was received with great joy by his son, and his
grandchildren. He went to the merchants, and told them how he had
lost all their money. He hoped they would be able to bear their
misfortune with fortitude, and begged, as he could do nothing else
for them, that they would accept the eight great nuts from the
Fragile Palm that the boys had given him. To his surprise the
merchants became wild with delight when they received the nuts. The
money they had lost was as nothing, they said, compared to the value
of this incomparable and precious fruit, picked in its prime, and
still in a perfect condition.
It had been many, many generations since this rare fruit, the value
of which was like unto that of diamonds and pearls, had been for sale
in any market in the world; and kings and queens in many countries
were ready to give for it almost any price that might be asked.
When the good old Captain heard this he was greatly rejoiced, and, as
the holidays were now near, he insisted that the boys should spend
Christmas before last over again, at his son's house. He found that a
good many people here knew where Apple Island was, and he made
arrangements for the First Class in Long Division to return to that
island in a vessel which was to sail about the first of the year.
The boys still possessed the great nut which the Captain had insisted
they should keep for themselves, and he now told them that if they
chose to sell it, they would each have a nice little fortune to take
back with them. The eldest boy consulted the others, and then he said
to the Captain:
"Our class has gone through a good many hardships, and has had a lot
of trouble with that palm-tree and other things, and we think we
ought to be rewarded. So, if it is all the same to you, I think we
will crack the nut on Christmas Day and we all will eat it."
"I never imagined," cried Captain Covajos, as he sat, on that
Christmas Day, surrounded by his son's family and the First Class in
Long Division, the eyes of the whole party sparkling with ecstasy as
they tasted the peerless fruit of the Fragile Palm, "that Christmas
before last could be so joyfully celebrated over again."
PRINCE HASSAK'S MARCH.
* * * * *
In the spring of a certain year, long since passed away, Prince
Hassak, of Itoby, determined to visit his uncle, the King of Yan.
"Whenever my uncle visited us," said the Prince, "or when my late
father went to see him, the journey was always made by sea; and, in
order to do this, it was necessary to go in a very roundabout way
between Itoby and Yan. Now, I shall do nothing of this kind. It is
beneath the dignity of a prince to go out of his way on account of
capes, peninsulas, and promontories. I shall march from my palace to
that of my uncle in a straight line. I shall go across the country,
and no obstacle shall cause me to deviate from my course. Mountains
and hills shall be tunnelled, rivers shall be bridged, houses shall
be levelled; a road shall be cut through forests; and, when I have
finished my march, the course over which I have passed shall be a
mathematically straight line. Thus will I show to the world that,
when a prince desires to travel, it is not necessary for him to go
out of his way on account of obstacles."
As soon as possible after the Prince had determined upon this march,
he made his preparations, and set out. He took with him a
few courtiers, and a large body of miners, rock-splitters,
bridge-builders, and workmen of that class, whose services would,
very probably, be needed. Besides these, he had an officer whose duty
it was to point out the direct course to be taken, and another who
was to draw a map of the march, showing the towns, mountains, and the
various places it passed through. There were no compasses in those
days, but the course-marker had an instrument which he would set in a
proper direction by means of the stars, and then he could march by it
all day. Besides these persons, Prince Hassak selected from the
schools of his city five boys and five girls, and took them with him.
He wished to show them how, when a thing was to be done, the best way
was to go straight ahead and do it, turning aside for nothing.
"When they grow up they will teach these things to their children,"
said he; "and thus I shall instil good principles into my people."
The first day Prince Hassak and his party marched over a level
country, with no further trouble than that occasioned by the tearing
down of fences and walls, and the destruction of a few cottages and
barns. After encamping for the night, they set out the next morning,
but had not marched many miles before they came to a rocky hill, on
the top of which was a handsome house, inhabited by a Jolly-cum-pop.
"Your Highness," said the course-marker, "in order to go in a direct
line we must make a tunnel through this hill, immediately under the
house. This may cause the building to fall in, but the rubbish can be
"Let the men go to work," said the Prince. "I will dismount from my
horse, and watch the proceedings."
When the Jolly-cum-pop saw the party halt before his house, he
hurried out to pay his respects to the Prince. When he was informed
of what was to be done, the Jolly-cum-pop could not refrain from
"I never heard," he said, "of such a capital idea. It is so odd and
original. It will be very funny, I am sure, to see a tunnel cut right
under my house."
The miners and rock-splitters now began to work at the base of the
hill, and then the Jolly-cum-pop made a proposition to the Prince.
"It will take your men some time," he said, "to cut this tunnel, and
it is a pity your Highness should not be amused in the meanwhile. It
is a fine day: suppose we go into the forest and hunt."
This suited the Prince very well, for he did not care about sitting
under a tree and watching his workmen, and the Jolly-cum-pop having
sent for his horse and some bows and arrows, the whole party, with
the exception of the laborers, rode toward the forest, a short
"What shall we find to hunt?" asked the Prince of the Jolly-cum-pop.
"I really do not know," exclaimed the latter, "but we'll hunt
whatever we happen to see--deer, small birds, rabbits, griffins,
rhinoceroses, any thing that comes along. I feel as gay as a skipping
grasshopper. My spirits rise like a soaring bird. What a joyful thing
it is to have such a hunt on such a glorious day!"
The gay and happy spirits of the Jolly-cum-pop affected the whole
party, and they rode merrily through the forest; but they found no
game; and, after an hour or two, they emerged into the open country
again. At a distance, on a slight elevation, stood a large and
"I am hungry and thirsty," said the Prince, "and perhaps we can get
some refreshments at yonder house. So far, this has not been a very
"No," cried the Jolly-cum-pop, "not yet. But what a joyful thing to
see a hospitable mansion just at the moment when we begin to feel a
little tired and hungry!"
The building they were approaching belonged to a Potentate, who lived
at a great distance. In some of his travels he had seen this massive
house, and thought it would make a good prison. He accordingly bought
it, fitted it up as a jail, and appointed a jailer and three
myrmidons to take charge of it. This had occurred years before, but
no prisoners had ever been sent to this jail. A few days preceding
the Jolly-cum-pop's hunt, the Potentate had journeyed this way and
had stopped at his jail. After inquiring into its condition, he had
said to the jailer:
"It is now fourteen years since I appointed you to this place, and in
all that time there have been no prisoners, and you and your men have
been drawing your wages without doing any thing. I shall return this
way in a few days, and if I still find you idle I shall discharge you
all and close the jail."
This filled the jailer with great dismay, for he did not wish to lose
his good situation. When he saw the Prince and his party approaching,
the thought struck him that perhaps he might make prisoners of them,
and so not be found idle when the Potentate returned. He came out to
meet the hunters, and when they asked if they could here find
refreshment, he gave them a most cordial welcome. His men took their
horses, and, inviting them to enter, he showed each member of the
party into a small bedroom, of which there seemed to be a great many.
"Here are water and towels," he said to each one, "and when you have
washed your face and hands, your refreshments will be ready." Then,
going out, he locked the door on the outside.
The party numbered seventeen: the Prince, three courtiers, five boys,
five girls, the course-marker, the map-maker, and the Jolly-cum-pop.
The heart of the jailer was joyful; seventeen inmates was something
to be proud of. He ordered his myrmidons to give the prisoners a meal
of bread and water through the holes in their cell-doors, and then he
sat down to make out his report to the Potentate.
"They must all be guilty of crimes," he said to himself, "which are
punished by long imprisonment. I don't want any of them executed."
So he numbered his prisoners from one to seventeen, according to the
cell each happened to be in, and he wrote a crime opposite each
number. The first was highway robbery, the next forgery, and after
that followed treason, smuggling, barn-burning, bribery, poaching,
usury, piracy, witchcraft, assault and battery, using false weights
and measures, burglary, counterfeiting, robbing hen-roosts,
conspiracy, and poisoning his grandmother by proxy.
This report was scarcely finished when the Potentate returned. He was
very much surprised to find that seventeen prisoners had come in
since his previous visit, and he read the report with interest.
"Here is one who ought to be executed," he said, referring to Number
Seventeen. "And how did he poison his grandmother by proxy? Did he
get another woman to be poisoned in her stead? Or did he employ some
one to act in his place as the poisoner?"
"I have not yet been fully informed, my lord," said the jailer,
fearful that he should lose a prisoner; "but this is his first
offence, and his grandmother, who did not die, has testified to his
general good character."
"Very well," said the Potentate; "but if he ever does it again, let
him be executed; and, by the way, I should like to see the
Thereupon the jailer conducted the Potentate along the corridors, and
let him look through the holes in the doors at the prisoners within.
"What is this little girl in for?" he asked.
The jailer looked at the number over the door, and then at his
"Piracy," he answered.
"A strange offence for such a child," said the Potentate.
"They often begin that sort of thing very early in life," said the
"And this fine gentleman," said the Potentate, looking in at the
Prince, "what did he do?"
The jailer glanced at the number, and the report.
"Robbed hen-roosts," he said.
"He must have done a good deal of it to afford to dress so well,"
said the Potentate, passing on, and looking into other cells. "It
seems to me that many of your prisoners are very young."
"It is best to take them young, my lord," said the jailer. "They are
very hard to catch when they grow up."
The Potentate then looked in at the Jolly-cum-pop, and asked what was
"Conspiracy," was the answer.
"And where are the other conspirators?"
"There was only one," said the jailer.
Number Seventeen was the oldest of the courtiers.
"He appears to be an elderly man to have a grandmother," said the
Potentate. "She must be very aged, and that makes it all the worse
for him. I think he should be executed."
"Oh, no, my lord," cried the jailor. "I am assured that his crime was
"Then he should be set free," said the Potentate.
"I mean to say," said the jailer, "that it was just enough
intentional to cause him to be imprisoned here for a long time, but
not enough to deserve execution."
"Very well," said the Potentate, turning to leave; "take good care of
your prisoners, and send me a report every month."
"That will I do, my lord," said the jailer, bowing very low.
The Prince and his party had been very much surprised and incensed
when they found that they could not get out of their rooms, and they
had kicked and banged and shouted until they were tired, but the
jailer had informed them that they were to be confined there for
years; and when the Potentate arrived they had resigned themselves to
despair. The Jolly-cum-pop, however, was affected in a different way.
It seemed to him the most amusing joke in the world that a person
should deliberately walk into a prison-cell and be locked up for
several years; and he lay down on his little bed and laughed himself
That night one of the boys sat at his iron-barred window, wide awake.
He was a Truant, and had never yet been in any place from which he
could not run away. He felt that his school-fellows depended upon him
to run away and bring them assistance, and he knew that his
reputation as a Truant was at stake. His responsibility was so heavy
that he could not sleep, and he sat at the window, trying to think of
a way to get out. After some hours the moon arose, and by its light
he saw upon the grass, not far from his window, a number of little
creatures, which at first he took for birds or small squirrels; but
on looking more attentively he perceived that they were pigwidgeons.
They were standing around a flat stone, and seemed to be making
calculations on it with a piece of chalk. At this sight, the heart of
the Truant jumped for joy. "Pigwidgeons can do any thing," he said to
himself, "and these certainly can get us out." He now tried in
various ways to attract the attention of the pigwidgeons; but as he
was afraid to call or whistle very loud, for fear of arousing the
jailor, he did not succeed. Happily, he thought of a pea-shooter
which he had in his pocket, and taking this out he blew a pea into
the midst of the little group with such force that it knocked the
chalk from the hand of the pigwidgeon who was using it. The little
fellows looked up in astonishment, and perceived the Truant beckoning
to them from his window. At first they stood angrily regarding him;
but on his urging them in a loud whisper to come to his relief, they
approached the prison and, clambering up a vine, soon reached his
window-sill. The Truant now told his mournful tale, to which the
pigwidgeons listened very attentively; and then, after a little
consultation among themselves, one of them said: "We will get you out
if you will tell us how to divide five-sevenths by six."
The poor Truant was silent for an instant, and then he said: "That is
not the kind of thing I am good at, but I expect some of the other
fellows could tell you easily enough. Our windows must be all in a
row, and you can climb up and ask some of them; and if any one tells
you, will you get us all out?"
"Yes," said the pigwidgeon who had spoken before. "We will do that,
for we are very anxious to know how to divide five-sevenths by six.
We have been working at it for four or five days, and there won't be
any thing worth dividing if we wait much longer."
The pigwidgeons now began to descend the vine; but one of them
lingering a little, the Truant, who had a great deal of curiosity,
asked him what it was they had to divide.
"There were eight of us," the pigwidgeon answered, "who helped a
farmer's wife, and she gave us a pound of butter. She did not count
us properly, and divided the butter into seven parts. We did not
notice this at first, and two of the party, who were obliged to go
away to a distance, took their portions and departed, and now we can
not divide among six the five-sevenths that remain."
"That is a pretty hard thing," said the Truant, "but I am sure some
of the boys can tell you how to do it."
The pigwidgeons visited the next four cells, which were occupied by
four boys, but not one of them could tell how to divide five-sevenths
by six. The Prince was questioned, but he did not know; and neither
did the course-marker, nor the map-maker. It was not until they came
to the cell of the oldest girl that they received an answer. She was
good at mental arithmetic; and, after a minute's thought, she said,
"It would be five forty-seconds."
"Good!" cried the pigwidgeons. "We will divide the butter into
forty-two parts, and each take five. And now let us go to work and
cut these bars."
Three of the six pigwidgeons were workers in iron, and they had their
little files and saws in pouches by their sides. They went to work
manfully, and the others helped them, and before morning one bar was
cut in each of the seventeen windows. The cells were all on the
ground floor, and it was quite easy for the prisoners to clamber out.
That is, it was easy for all but the Jolly-cum-pop. He had laughed so
much in his life that he had grown quite fat, and he found it
impossible to squeeze himself through the opening made by the removal
of one iron bar. The sixteen other prisoners had all departed; the
pigwidgeons had hurried away to divide their butter into forty-two
parts, and the Jolly-cum-pop still remained in his cell, convulsed
with laughter at the idea of being caught in such a curious
"It is the most ridiculous thing in the world," he said. "I suppose I
must stay here and cry until I get thin." And the idea so tickled
him, that he laughed himself to sleep.
The Prince and his party kept together, and hurried from the prison
as fast as they could. When the day broke they had gone several
miles, and then they stopped to rest. "Where is that Jolly-cum-pop?"
said the Prince. "I suppose he has gone home. He is a pretty fellow
to lead us into this trouble and then desert us! How are we to find
the way back to his house? Course-marker, can you tell us the
direction in which we should go?"
"Not until to-night, your Highness," answered the course-marker,
"when I can set my instrument by the stars."
The Prince's party was now in a doleful plight. Every one was very
hungry; they were in an open plain, no house was visible, and they
knew not which way to go. They wandered about for some time, looking
for a brook or a spring where they might quench their thirst; and
then a rabbit sprang out from some bushes. The whole party
immediately started off in pursuit of the rabbit. They chased it
here, there, backward and forward, through hollows and over hills,
until it ran quite away and disappeared. Then they were more tired,
thirsty, and hungry than before; and, to add to their miseries, when
night came on the sky was cloudy, and the course-marker could not set
his instrument by the stars. It would be difficult to find sixteen
more miserable people than the Prince and his companions when they
awoke the next morning from their troubled sleep on the hard ground.
Nearly starved, they gazed at one another with feelings of despair.
"I feel," said the Prince, in a weak voice, "that there is nothing I
would not do to obtain food. I would willingly become a slave if my
master would give me a good breakfast."
"So would I," ejaculated each of the others.
About an hour after this, as they were all sitting disconsolately
upon the ground, they saw, slowly approaching, a large cart drawn by
a pair of oxen. On the front of the cart, which seemed to be heavily
loaded, sat a man, with a red beard, reading a book. The boys, when
they saw the cart, set up a feeble shout, and the man, lifting his
eyes from his book, drove directly toward the group on the ground.
Dismounting, he approached Prince Hassak, who immediately told him
his troubles and implored relief. "We will do any thing," said the
Prince, "to obtain food."
Standing for a minute in a reflective mood, the man with the red
beard addressed the Prince in a slow, meditative manner: "How would
you like," he said, "to form a nucleus?"
"Can we get any thing to eat by it?" eagerly asked the Prince.
"Yes," replied the man, "you can."
"We'll do it!" immediately cried the whole sixteen, without waiting
for further information.
"Which will you do first," said the man, "listen to my explanations,
"Eat!" cried the entire sixteen in chorus.
The man now produced from his cart a quantity of bread, meat, wine,
and other provisions, which he distributed generously, but
judiciously, to the hungry Prince and his followers. Every one had
enough, but no one too much. And soon, revived and strengthened, they
felt like new beings.
"Now," said the Prince, "we are ready to form a nucleus, as we
promised. How is it done?"
"I will explain the matter to you in a few words," said the man with
the red beard. "For a long time I have been desirous to found a city.
In order to do this one must begin by forming a nucleus. Every great
city is started from a nucleus. A few persons settle down in some
particular spot, and live there. Then they are a nucleus. Then other
people come there, and gather around this nucleus, and then more
people come and more, until in course of time there is a great city.
I have loaded this cart with provisions, tools, and other things that
are necessary for my purpose, and have set out to find some people
who would be willing to form a nucleus. I am very glad to have found
you and that you are willing to enter into my plan; and this seems a
good spot for us to settle upon."
"What is the first thing to be done?" said the Prince.
"We must all go to work," said the man with the red beard, "to build
dwellings, and also a school-house for these young people. Then we
must till some ground in the suburbs, and lay the foundations, at
least, of a few public buildings."
"All this will take a good while, will it not?" said the Prince.
"Yes," said the man, "it will take a good while; and the sooner we
set about it, the better."
Thereupon tools were distributed among the party, and Prince,
courtiers, boys, girls, and all went to work to build houses and form
the nucleus of a city.
When the jailer looked into his cells in the morning, and found that
all but one of his prisoners had escaped, he was utterly astounded,
and his face, when the Jolly-cum-pop saw him, made that individual
roar with laughter. The jailer, however, was a man accustomed to deal
with emergencies. "You need not laugh," he said, "every thing shall
go on as before, and I shall take no notice of the absence of your
companions. You are now numbered One to Seventeen inclusive, and you
stand charged with highway robbery, forgery, treason, smuggling,
barn-burning, bribery, poaching, usury, piracy, witchcraft, assault
and battery, using false weights and measures, burglary,
counterfeiting, robbing hen-roosts, conspiracy, and poisoning your
grandmother by proxy. I intended to-day to dress the convicts in
prison garb, and you shall immediately be so clothed."
"I shall require seventeen suits," said the Jolly-cum-pop.
"Yes," said the jailer, "they shall be furnished."
"And seventeen rations a day," said the Jolly-cum-pop.
"Certainly," replied the jailer.
"This is luxury," roared the Jolly-cum-pop. "I shall spend my whole
time in eating and putting on clean clothes."
Seventeen large prison suits were now brought to the Jolly-cum-pop.
He put one on, and hung up the rest in his cell. These suits were
half bright yellow and half bright green, with spots of bright red,
as big as saucers.
The jailer now had doors cut from one cell to another. "If the
Potentate comes here and wants to look at the prisoners," he said to
the Jolly-cum-pop, "you must appear in cell number One, so that he
can look through the hole in the door, and see you; then, as he walks
along the corridor, you must walk through the cells, and whenever he
looks into a cell, you must be there."
"He will think," merrily replied the Jolly-cum-pop, "that all your
prisoners are very fat, and that the little girls have grown up into
"I will endeavor to explain that," said the jailer.
For several days the Jolly-cum-pop was highly amused at the idea of
his being seventeen criminals, and he would sit first in one cell and
then in another, trying to look like a ferocious pirate, a
hard-hearted usurer, or a mean-spirited chicken thief, and laughing
heartily at his failures. But, after a time, he began to tire of
this, and to have a strong desire to see what sort of a tunnel the
Prince's miners and rock-splitters were making under his house. "I
had hoped," he said to himself, "that I should pine away in
confinement, and so be able to get through the window-bars; but with
nothing to do, and seventeen rations a day, I see no chance of that.
But I must get out of this jail, and, as there seems no other way, I
will revolt." Thereupon he shouted to the jailer through the hole in
the door of his cell: "We have revolted! We have risen in a body, and
have determined to resist your authority, and break jail!"
When the jailer heard this, he was greatly troubled. "Do not proceed
to violence," he said; "let us parley."
"Very well," replied the Jolly-cum-pop, "but you must open the cell
door. We cannot parley through a hole."
The jailer thereupon opened the cell door, and the Jolly-cum-pop,
having wrapped sixteen suits of clothes around his left arm as a
shield, and holding in his right hand the iron bar which had been cut
from his window, stepped boldly into the corridor, and confronted the
jailer and his myrmidons.
"It will be useless for you to resist," he said. "You are but four,
and we are seventeen. If you had been wise you would have made us all
cheating shop-keepers, chicken thieves, or usurers. Then you might
have been able to control us; but when you see before you a desperate
highwayman, a daring smuggler, a blood-thirsty pirate, a wily
poacher, a powerful ruffian, a reckless burglar, a bold conspirator,
and a murderer by proxy, you well may tremble!"
The jailer and his myrmidons looked at each other in dismay.
"We sigh for no blood," continued the Jolly-cum-pop, "and will
readily agree to terms. We will give you your choice: Will you allow
us to honorably surrender, and peacefully disperse to our homes, or
shall we rush upon you in a body, and, after overpowering you by
numbers, set fire to the jail, and escape through the crackling
timbers of the burning pile?"
The jailer reflected for a minute. "It would be better, perhaps," he
said, "that you should surrender and disperse to your homes."
The Jolly-cum-pop agreed to these terms, and the great gate being
opened, he marched out in good order. "Now," said he to himself, "the
thing for me to do is to get home as fast as I can, or that jailer
may change his mind." But, being in a great hurry, he turned the
wrong way, and walked rapidly into a country unknown to him. His walk
was a very merry one. "By this time," he said to himself, "the Prince
and his followers have returned to my house, and are tired of
watching the rock-splitters and miners. How amused they will be when
they see me come back in this gay suit of green and yellow, with red
spots, and with sixteen similar suits upon my arm! How my own dogs
will bark at me! And how my own servants will not know me! It is the
funniest thing I ever knew of!" And his gay laugh echoed far and
wide. But when he had gone several miles without seeing any signs of
his habitation, his gayety abated. "It would have been much better,"
he said, as he sat down to rest under the shade of a tree, "if I had
brought with me sixteen rations instead of these sixteen suits of
The Jolly-cum-pop soon set out again, but he walked a long distance
without seeing any person or any house. Toward the close of the
afternoon he stopped, and, looking back, he saw coming toward him a
large party of foot travellers. In a few moments, he perceived that
the person in advance was the jailer. At this the Jolly-cum-pop could
not restrain his merriment. "How comically it has all turned out!" he
exclaimed. "Here I've taken all this trouble, and tired myself out,
and have nearly starved myself, and the jailer comes now, with a
crowd of people, and takes me back. I might as well have staid where
I was. Ha! ha!"
The jailer now left his party and came running toward the
Jolly-cum-pop. "I pray you, sir," he said, bowing very low, "do not
cast us off."
"Who are you all?" asked the Jolly-cum-pop, looking with much
surprise at the jailer's companions, who were now quite near.
"We are myself, my three myrmidons, and our wives and children. Our
situations were such good ones that we married long ago, and our
families lived in the upper stories of the prison. But when all the
convicts had left we were afraid to remain, for, should the Potentate
again visit the prison, he would be disappointed and enraged at
finding no prisoners, and would, probably, punish us grievously. So
we determined to follow you, and to ask you to let us go with you,
wherever you are going. I wrote a report, which I fastened to the
great gate, and in it I stated that sixteen of the convicts escaped
by the aid of outside confederates, and that seventeen of them
mutinied in a body and broke jail."
"That report," laughed the Jolly-cum-pop, "your Potentate will not
"If I were there," said the jailer, "I could explain it to him; but,
as it is, he must work it out for himself."
"Have you any thing to eat with you?" asked the Jolly-cum-pop.
"Oh, yes," said the jailer, "we brought provisions."
"Well, then, I gladly take you under my protection. Let us have
supper. I have had nothing to eat since morning, and the weight of
sixteen extra suits of clothes does not help to refresh one."
The Jolly-cum-pop and his companions slept that night under some
trees, and started off early the next morning. "If I could only get
myself turned in the proper direction," said he, "I believe we should
soon reach my house."
The Prince, his courtiers, the boys and girls, the course-marker, and
the map-maker worked industriously for several days at the foundation
of their city. They dug the ground, they carried stones, they cut
down trees. This work was very hard for all of them, for they were
not used to it. After a few days' labor, the Prince said to the man
with the red beard, who was reading his book: "I think we have now
formed a nucleus. Any one can see that this is intended to be a
"No," said the man with the red beard, "nothing is truly a nucleus
until something is gathered around it. Proceed with your work, while
I continue my studies upon civil government."
Toward the close of that day the red-bearded man raised his eyes from
his book and beheld the Jolly-cum-pop and his party approaching.
"Hurrah!" he cried, "we are already attracting settlers!" And he went
forth to meet them.
When the prince and the courtiers saw the Jolly-cum-pop in his bright
and variegated dress, they did not know him; but the boys and girls
soon recognized his jovial face, and, tired as they were, they set up
a hearty laugh, in which they were loudly joined by their merry
friend. While the Jolly-cum-pop was listening to the adventures of
the Prince and his companions, and telling what had happened to
himself, the man with the red beard was talking to the jailer and his
party, and urging them to gather around the nucleus which had been
here formed, and help to build a city.
"Nothing will suit us better," exclaimed the jailer, "and the sooner
we build a town wall so as to keep off the Potentate, if he should
come this way, the better shall we be satisfied."
The next morning, the Prince said to the red-bearded man: "Others
have gathered around us. We have formed a nucleus, and thus have done
all that we promised to do. We shall now depart."
The man objected strongly to this, but the Prince paid no attention
to his words. "What troubles me most," he said to the Jolly-cum-pop,
"is the disgraceful condition of our clothes. They have been so torn
and soiled during our unaccustomed work that they are not fit to be
"As for that," said the Jolly-cum-pop, "I have sixteen suits with me,
in which you can all dress, if you like. They are of unusual
patterns, but they are new and clean."
"It is better," said the Prince, "for persons in my station to appear
inordinately gay than to be seen in rags and dirt. We will accept
Thereupon, the Prince and each of the others put on a prison dress of
bright green and yellow, with large red spots. There were some
garments left over, for each boy wore only a pair of trousers with
the waistband tied around his neck, and holes cut for his arms; while
the large jackets, with the sleeves tucked, made very good dresses
for the girls. The Prince and his party, accompanied by the
Jolly-cum-pop, now left the red-bearded man and his new settlers to
continue the building of the city, and set off on their journey. The
course-marker had not been informed the night before that they were
to go away that morning, and consequently did not set his instrument
by the stars.
"As we do not know in which way we should go," said the Prince, "one
way will be as good as another, and if we can find a road let us take
it; it will be easier walking."
In an hour or two they found a road and they took it. After
journeying the greater part of the day, they reached the top of a low
hill, over which the road ran, and saw before them a glittering sea
and the spires and houses of a city.
"It is the city of Yan," said the course-marker.
"That is true," said the Prince; "and as we are so near, we may as
well go there."
The astonishment of the people of Yan, when this party, dressed in
bright green and yellow, with red spots, passed through their
streets, was so great that the Jolly-cum-pop roared with laughter.
This set the boys and girls and all the people laughing, and the
sounds of merriment became so uproarious that when they reached the
palace the King came out to see what was the matter. What he thought
when he saw his nephew in his fantastic guise, accompanied by a party
apparently composed of sixteen other lunatics, cannot now be known;
but, after hearing the Prince's story, he took him into an inner
apartment, and thus addressed him: "My dear Hassak: The next time you
pay me a visit, I beg for your sake and my own, that you will come in
the ordinary way. You have sufficiently shown to the world that, when
a Prince desires to travel, it is often necessary for him to go out