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´╗┐Title: Andiron Tales
Author: Bangs, John Kendrick, 1862-1922
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Andiron Tales" ***

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[Illustration: "Get him a mirror."]



  ANDIRON
  TALES

  BY

  JOHN KENDRICK BANGS

  ILLUSTRATED BY
  CLARE VICTOR DWIGGINS

  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.
  PUBLISHERS
  PHILADELPHIA

[Illustration]



  COPYRIGHT, 1906,
  BY
  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.



  CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I.
  TOM AND THE ANDIRONS                                                   9

  CHAPTER II.
  THE STORY OF EBENEZER                                                 17

  CHAPTER III.
  OFF IN THE CLOUDS                                                     25

  CHAPTER IV.
  THE POKER TELLS HIS STORY                                             38

  CHAPTER V.
  THE POKER CONCLUDES HIS STORY                                         45

  CHAPTER VI.
  THE LITERARY BELLOWS                                                  52

  CHAPTER VII.
  THEY REACH THE CRESCENT MOON                                          61

  CHAPTER VIII.
  ON THE TROLLEY CLOUD                                                  70

  CHAPTER IX.
  ON THE OSCYCLE--A NARROW ESCAPE                                       80

  CHAPTER X.
  HOME AGAIN                                                            91

[Illustration]



  ILLUSTRATIONS

  BY CLARE VICTOR DWIGGINS


  "GET HIM A MIRROR," SAID THE LEFTHANDIRON. _In colors      Frontispiece_

  "I'M NOT A DORMOUSE"                                                  12

  "A LITTLE TALE WHICH I WILL WAG FOR YOU"                              15

  "AND THEN DIE WITHOUT PAYING FOR IT"                                  20

  "JUST WHAT I WANTED FOR MY LUNCH"                                     22

  "TRIED TO BITE MY HEAD OFF"                                           23

  "A MOUSE WITH A DOOR TO HIM"                                          31

  "THERE'S NO BETTER PLACE THAN THIS CLOUD," SAID THE POKER.
                                                       _In colors_      33

  "IN ONE EAR AND OUT OF THE OTHER"                                     34

  "A POKER WHO COULD ONLY POKE"                                         39

  "No," she said, "I'm not your mother, I am a Fairy." _In colors_      40

  "DOESN'T HAVE TO LIVE IN A BATHTUB"                                   41

  "EAGLES NEVER HAVE UMBRELLAS"                                         46

  "ONE DAY THE WOODCUTTERS CAME"                                        49

  "SO I REALLY LIVE HOME"                                               51

  "WHAT'S THE USE OF FIGHTING?"                                         53

  "I BLOW A STORY OF TWO, NOW AND THEN," SAID THE BELLOWS.  _In Colors_ 54

  HE GAVE A TREMENDOUS WHEEZE                                           58

  "COLUMBUS WAS A GREAT MAN"                                            63

  "YOU SEE, IT'S THIS SHAPE"                                            66

  "WHY, IT'S REALLY A TROLLEY!" HE CRIED. _In colors_                   68

  "IT KEEPS ME JUMPING ALL THE TIME"                                    72

  "I HAVEN'T THE MONEY"                                                 78

  ON THE OSCYCLE. _In colors_                                           80

  "MY OWN PRIVATE ICEBERG"                                              83

  THE MAN FROM SATURN JUMPED                                            86

  TOM JUMPED, AND IN A MOMENT WAS SITTING ASTRIDE THE GREAT BIRD'S
    NECK. _In colors_                                                   89

  "UPON THE ANVIL IN HIS SANCTUM"                                       93

  DEVOURING HIS FAVORITE AUTHOR                                         98

  TOM IS AWAKENED BY THE AVALANCHE. _In colors_                        100

  TAIL PIECE                                                           102

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



Andiron Tales

By John Kendrick Bangs


  Being the Remarkable Adventures of a Boy
  with a Lively Imagination



CHAPTER I.

Tom and the Andirons


It was perfectly natural in one respect, anyhow. There was really no
reason in the world why Tom should not lie upon the great bear-skin rug in
front of the library fire those cold winter nights if he wanted to, nor
need anyone be surprised that he should want to. It was indeed a most
delightful place to lie in. The bear-skin was soft and in every way
comfortable and comforting. The fireplace itself was one of those huge
hospitable affairs that might pass in some apartment houses in our narrow
cooped-up city streets for a butler's pantry or small reception room--in
fact in the summer time Tom used to sit in the fireplace and pretend he
was in his office transacting business with such of his sister's dolls as
could be induced to visit him there; giving orders to imaginary clerks and
bookkeepers and keeping an equally fanciful office boy continually on the
run. And then apart from the rug and the fireplace it was a beautiful
room in which they were. Tom's father was very fond of books, and,
although he was a great many years older than Tom, he had not forgotten
how to enjoy the very same kind of books that Tom liked. He was not
ashamed to have one little niche of his library filled with the stories
which had delighted him in his boyhood days, and which still continued to
please him, and, of course, this lent an additional charm to the library
in Tom's eyes. It held his heroes, and on some of those drowsy nights when
the only sounds to break the stillness of the room were the scratching of
his father's pen, the soft humming of some little tune by his mother
sitting and sewing by the evening lamp, and the fierce crackling of the
burning logs, Tom could almost see these heroes stepping down from the
shelves and like so many phantoms flitting in and about the room. In fact,
upon one occasion, Tom is convinced he did see these very people having a
dance upon the great tiled hearth--but of that you shall hear later.

There were many other things in the library beside his heroes that
interested Tom. There was a little Japanese ivory god that used to sit up
on the mantel shelf and gaze wisely at him, as much as to say, "Dear me,
boy, what a lot I could tell you if I only would!" Then, too, there was a
very handsome vase on top of one of the book-cases that had two remarkable
dragons climbing up its sides, the tail of one of them so fixed that if
anyone chose to use the vase for a pitcher the tail would make a very
convenient handle, at which the other dragon always appeared to be
laughing heartily, which he had no reason to do, because his own tail was
not arranged any too gracefully. But the things that, next to Jack the
Giant Killer, and Beauty and the Beast, and Tom Thumb and his other
heroes and heroines, Tom liked the most, were two great brazen Andirons
that stood in the fireplace. To Tom these Andirons, though up to the night
when our story begins he had never seen them move, seemed almost to live.
They had big, round, good-natured faces, that shone like so much gold.
Their necks were slight and graceful, but as they developed downward
toward their handsome feet the Andirons grew more portly, until finally
they came to look very much like a pair of amiable sea serpents without
much length. Tom's uncle said they looked like cats, with sunflowers for
heads, swan necks for bodies, and very little of the cat about them save
the claws. This description made Tom laugh, but the more he thought about
it the more truthful did it seem to him to be.

For so long a time as Tom could remember, summer and winter, those
Andirons had sat staring stolidly ahead in their accustomed place, and not
until that December night had they even so much as winked at him--but on
that occasion they more than made up for all their previous silence and
seeming unsociability. Tom was lying on the rug, as usual, and I am afraid
was almost asleep. The logs were burning fiercely and at first Tom thought
that the words he heard spoken were nothing but their crackling and
hissing, but in a minute he changed his mind about that for the very good
reason that the "Lefthandiron"--as Tom's uncle once called it--winked his
eye at Tom and said:

"Hullo, Sleepyhead."

Tom only returned the wink. He was too much surprised to say anything.

"His name isn't Sleepyhead," said the Righthandiron, with a grin. "It's
Thomas D. Pate."

"What's the D for?" asked the other.

"Dozy--Thomas Dozy Pate," exclaimed the Righthandiron. "His ancestors were
Sleepyheads on his mother's side, and Dozy Pates on his father's side."

"'Tisn't so at all!" cried Tom, indignantly. "My mama wasn't a Sleepyhead,
and my name isn't Dozy Pate."

"He's such a Sleepyhead he doesn't know his own name," said the
Lefthandiron.

[Illustration: "I'M NOT A DORMOUSE."]

"That's a curious thing about the Sleepyheads and the Dozy Pates. They
very seldom know their own names--and even when they do they always deny
that they are what they are. Why I really believe if I told Tom here that
he was a Dormouse he'd deny it and say he was a boy."

"I am a boy," said Tom, stoutly, "and I'm not a Dormouse."

Both of the Andirons laughed heartily at this, and the Righthandiron,
dancing a little jig, sang over and over again this couplet:

    "He can't be very smart, I wis,
    If he can't see that's what he is."

"Get him a mirror," said the Lefthandiron. "We can't blame him for
thinking he is a boy, because everybody has told him he is a boy except
ourselves, and being a Sleepyhead he believes as a rule what he is told if
it is pleasant to believe."

"Well, I can't see why he objects to being a Dormouse," said the
Righthandiron. "I think Dormice are very handsome and just too sweet and
amiable to live. They are much pleasanter mice than Windowmice and
Stairmice--don't you think so?"

"Indeed I do," returned the Lefthandiron, "and Tom is about the finest
Dormouse I ever saw, and I wish he'd let us get acquainted with him."

"So do I," said the other, "but if he doesn't it's his own loss. You and I
can go off to Santa Clausville by ourselves and have quite as good a time,
if not better, than if he were along with us. I've noticed one thing, my
dear Lefty, two's best anyhow.

    "Two people in an omnibus
      Where there's but one settee,
    Can both be seated with less fuss
      Than if the twain were three.

    "If there is candy for but four,
      This maxim still holds true,
    Each one will get so much the more
      If there are only two.

    "Two boys upon a teeter board
      Can have just twice the fun
    That any seesaw can afford
      If there's another one.

"So I say, what if he doesn't come? You and I will enjoy ourselves just as
much. There'll be more candy for us, we won't have to divide the good time
we have up into more than two parts, and, what is more, neither of us will
have to carry the Dormouse."

Here the two Andirons gave a sidelong glance at Tom, and saw that he was
smiling.

"What are you laughing at?" asked the Righthandiron. "Eh, Dormouse?"

"If I'll be a Dormouse will you take me off on your good time with you?"
asked Tom.

"Certainly, but we can't take anybody who denies that he is what he is or
who says that his name doesn't belong to him."

"But I can't tell a story," said Tom.

"Nobody asked you to," returned the Righthandiron. "All we ask is that
you'll say nothing about it. If we say your name is Sleepyhead you needn't
try to make people think we don't know what we are talking about by saying
that your name isn't Sleepyhead, but Tommy Wideawake, or Billy Lemonstick,
or something else; and when we choose to state that you are a Dormouse we
want you to be a Dormouse and not go crying out through the street, 'I am
a huckleberry.' In the countries we visit people think we are the wisest
of the wise, and what we say no one ever dares dispute."

"So, you see, my dear Dormouse," said the other, "we couldn't possibly
take you off with us unless you fall in with our plans and submit to our
calling you anything we please."

"I don't see why you are not willing to admit that I am a boy, though,"
insisted Tom, who, although he was extremely anxious to go off with the
Andirons, did not really like to lose sight of the fact that he was a boy.
"What good does it do you or me or anybody else for me to admit that I am
a Dormouse, for instance?"

"A little tail which I will wag for you," said the Righthandiron, "will
explain how that is. Did you ever know a boy named Ebenezer J. Carrottop?"

"No, I never heard of any person with such an absurd name as that,"
returned Tom.

[Illustration: "A LITTLE TALE WHICH I WILL WAG FOR YOU."]

"Well, you are very fortunate not to have been one of Ebenezer's
particular friends," said the Righthandiron. "If you had been, the story I
am going to tell you would have made you very unhappy. As it is, not
having known Ebenezer, and, having in fact taken a dislike to him because
of his name, the story will amuse you more than otherwise."

"Good," said Tom; "I like to be amused."

"That being the case," said the Andiron, "I will proceed at once to tell
you the story of Ebenezer."



CHAPTER II.

The Story of Ebenezer


"Ebenezer was a boy very much like yourself in several ways," resumed the
Righthandiron. "He wasn't one of the Sleepyhead or Dozy Pate families, but
he was next thing to it. He was nephew of Senator Takeanap, and a grandson
of old General Snoraloud--but he'd never admit it. He used to get just as
angry when we reminded him that he was quite as much of a Snoraloud as a
Carrottop, as you were when we called you Sleepyhead, and when my brother
Lefty here said to him, 'Hullo, Weasel,' he didn't like it a bit better
than you did when we said you were a Dormouse. He insisted that he was a
boy, and for all we could do we couldn't get him to admit that he was a
Weasel--"

    "He was the most persistent lad
      That I have ever seen.
    He'd always say that bad was bad,
      That blue could not be green.

    "We couldn't get him to deny
      That white was always white,
    And though we'd try and try and try
      He'd say that he was right,"

interrupted the Lefthandiron.

"And wasn't he?" asked Tom.

"That isn't a part of the story," snapped the Righthandiron, "and if you
don't stop interrupting me I'll never speak to you again."

"I didn't mean to," said Tom apologetically.

"That's just the worst part of it," snapped the Andiron. "You are an
interrupter by nature, and that is the most incurable kind. But, as I was
telling you, Ebenezer was bound to be a boy, and no amount of talk on our
part could convince him that he was a Weasel. Well, Lefty and I were very
young then, and up to the time of which I am speaking we had always made
our little trips in the Fairy Country or in Giantland all by ourselves,
and we had lots of fun together I can warrant. This time, however, we
decided to take Ebenezer with us to Giantland, which was a place he had
often heard us tell about, and concerning which he was very curious. We
told him that it would never do for him to visit Giantland, because the
Giants were always very hungry, and liked nothing better to eat than a boy
like himself. It would be dangerous for him to go, we said, unless he
would promise to obey us in everything we told him to do, and to admit
that he was whatever we chose to call him."

"You see, my dear Tom," said the Lefthandiron in explanation, "the Giants
had such confidence in us that they accepted as true anything we said, so
that if we should happen to meet a hungry ogre and he should want to eat
Ebenezer because he was a boy, all that would be necessary for us to do to
save Ebenezer was to say, 'Hold on. He is not a boy. He is a Weasel.' Then
Ebenezer would be all right, because Giants do not eat Weasels."

"I see," said Tom, nodding his head.

"Ebenezer promised that he would obey us and wouldn't deny that he was a
Weasel if we told the Giants he was one, and we took him off with us,"
resumed the Righthandiron. "We went straight to Giantland and had a
perfectly lovely time until about an hour before it was time to return,
when we encountered a huge Giant named Skihigh--and my, how hungry he was!
He was hungrier than Lefty's friend, who went into a restaurant and
ordered

    "'Thirty-seven pounds of cake,
      Sixty-four lamb chops,
    Eighteen portions of beefsteak,
      Forty ginger pops;
    Seventeen vanilla puffs,
      Twenty fresh-caught dabs,
    Thirty-eight rich raisin duffs,
      Ninety soft-shell crabs.

    "'Let those go for course the first;
      Let the second be
    Shrimps and oysters till I burst,
      Thirteen quarts of tea.
    Then a dozen sugared hams,
      One small cabbage head,
    Ninety dozen pinky clams,
      Sixty loaves of bread.

    "'Seven quarts of French canned pease,
      And a pound or two
    Of your Gorgonzola cheese
      For my lunch will do."
    Then the waiter standing by
      In the usual way
    Asked him: 'Won't you also try
      Our hot mince today?'"

"I don't want to interrupt," said Tom, "but it seems to me that man must
have been awful rich."

"No, he wasn't," returned Lefty. "He was going to eat the dinner, you
know, and then die without paying for it. He wasn't a very good man."

[Illustration: "AND THEN DIE WITHOUT PAYING FOR IT."]

"No," remarked the story-teller. "But he was a very hungry man, in which
respect he was just like the Giant I am trying to tell you about. And my,
how the Giant roared with glee when he caught sight of Ebenezer.

"'Good!' he cried, 'that's just what I wanted for my lunch. A nice fat
boy.'

"Then he reached down," said the Righthandiron, "and grabbed Ebenezer by
the arm, and was about to eat him just as he would a piece of asparagus,
when Lefty here cried out:

"'Avast there, Skihigh! That isn't a nice fat boy. That is only a
miserable Weasel.'

"'Pah!' said Skihigh, with a face such as you put on when you take a
horrid tasting medicine. 'Pah! I can't eat Weasels.'

"And with that he put Ebenezer down on the road again and was about to
walk along about his business when what did that foolish little Ebenezer
do but up and deny that he was a Weasel!

"'I'm not a Weasel,' he yelled. 'And I am a boy--and a fine boy at that!'

"Skihigh stopped short, whirled about and rushed back to where Ebenezer
was standing.

"'What's that you say?' he said eagerly.

"'I say I am not a Weasel, but a fine fat boy,' said the vainglorious
Ebenezer stoutly.

"'Then my friends, the Andirons have deceived me, have they?' roared the
Giant.

"'Yes,' replied Ebenezer. 'But I can't stand being called a Weasel.'

[ILLUSTRATION: "JUST WHAT I WANTED FOR MY LUNCH."]

"With that," said the Righthandiron, "Skihigh clapped Ebenezer into his
market basket and then turned on Lefty and me. Lefty managed to get away,
but I was caught."

"What did he do to you?" asked Tom, trembling with excitement.

"He tried to bite my head off," said Righty, with a laugh. "See those two
dents on either side of my neck?"

Tom looked, and sure enough there were the dents--not very deep, but quite
large enough to be seen.

"His teeth broke when he got that far," said Righty. "I'm pretty hard--but
you see it needn't have happened at all if Ebenezer had only kept quiet
about his not being a Weasel."

[ILLUSTRATION: "TRIED TO BITE MY HEAD OFF."]

"Was he eaten by Skihigh?" asked Tom.

"I don't know," replied Righty. "Lefty and I didn't wait to find out, and
we have never been back there since. I don't believe he did eat him, for
two reasons. One is that after trying to bite my head off Skihigh hadn't
teeth enough left to eat anything with, and the other reason is that I
saw Ebenezer two years afterwards on his way to school one beautiful
spring morning. I noticed him particularly because, although it was a
lovely clear morning, he had his umbrella up and positively declined to
put it down and carry it closed, because, he said, an umbrella couldn't
possibly be a cane, and he wasn't going to try to make anybody suppose it
was a cane."

"I don't see anything in that story to make me unhappy, even if I were a
chum of Ebenezer's," said Tom, as the Andiron finished.

"You don't? Don't you think it was sad that the Giant couldn't eat a boy
who'd behave in that way?" asked Righty, with a scornful glance at Tom.

"It was very sad, Tom," said the Lefthandiron. "So don't deny
it--especially if you want to go off on our trip to the stars."

"Are you really going to the stars?" gasped Tom, breathless at the very
idea and forgetting all about Ebenezer.

"Perhaps," returned the Andiron.

"And may I go with you?" whispered Tom.

"You may if you will do whatever we tell you, and admit that you are a
Dormouse," said Righty.

"All right, I'll obey," said Tom.

"And what did you say your name was?" asked Lefty.

"Sleepyhead Dozy Pate Dormouse," said Tom, with a laugh.

"You'll do," returned the Righthandiron, stepping lightly out of the
fireplace. "Now sit astride of my back and take hold of Lefty's right
claw."

Tom did as he was told, and in an instant he was flying up through space
toward the stars.



CHAPTER III.

Off in the Clouds


"Now the point to be decided," said the Lefthandiron, after he and his
companions had been flying through space for some time, "is where we are
going. There are two or three things we can do, and Tom can have his
choice as to which it shall be."

"Subject, of course, to my advice," said the Righthandiron, with a bow to
Tom. "You can go where you please if I please. See?"

"Yes," said Tom. "I see. I can have my way as long as it is your way."

"Precisely," said the Righthandiron, with an approving nod. "And as you
may have heard, precisely means exactly so. You can have your way as long
as it is my way, which shows how generous I am. Fond of my way as I am, I
am willing to divide it with you."

"All right," returned Tom. "I'm very much obliged. What are the two things
we can do?"

"Well," said the Lefthandiron, scratching his head softly, "we can fly up
a little higher and sit down and watch the world go round; we can take the
long jump, or we can visit Saturn."

"What was the first?" asked Tom.

"To fly up a little higher, where we can get a better view; to sit down
there and watch the world go round. It is an excellent way to travel. It's
awfully easy--in fact, it isn't you that travels at all. It's the world
that does the traveling, while all you've got to do is to sit down there
and keep an eye on it. It's like a big panorama, only it's real, and any
time you see a place going by that you think you'd like to see more of,
all you've got to do is to fly down there and see it."

"When you get up higher and sit down," said Tom, "what do you sit on?"

"You sit on me and I sit on my hind legs, of course," said Lefthandiron.
"Don't you know anything?"

"Of course I do," said Tom, indignantly. "I know lots of things."

"Then I can't see why you ask such silly questions," retorted the
Lefthandiron. "What do we sit on? Why, you might just as well ask a dog
what he barks with, or a lion what he eats his breakfast with--and that
would be as stupid as the Poker's poem on Sandwiches."

"Did the Poker write a poem on Sandwiches?" asked Tom.

"Eight of 'em," returned the Lefthandiron. "The first of them went this
way:

    "He sat upon a lofty hill,
      And smoked his penny pipe.
    'Ha!' quoth a passing whip-poor-will,
      'The oranges are ripe.'"

"The other seven went like this," observed the Righthandiron:

    "The day was over, and the six-
      Teen little darkies then
    Found they were in a dreadful fix,
      Like several other men."

"There isn't anything about Sandwiches in those poems," said Tom, with a
look of perplexity on his face.

"No. That's where the stupidity of it comes in. He wrote those poems and
called 'em all Sandwiches just to be stupid, and it was stupid."

"But what did he want to be stupid for?" asked Tom.

"Just his vanity, that's all," said the Righthandiron. "The Poker is a
very vain person. He thinks he is superior to everybody else in
everything. If you say to him, 'the gas fixture is bright tonight,' he'll
say, 'Oh, yes--but I'm brighter.' Somebody told him once that the kindling
wood that started the fires was stupid, and he wouldn't even stop his
bragging then. 'Oh, yes,' he said, 'but I'm a great deal stupider than the
kindling wood and I'll prove it.' So he sat down and wrote those verses
and called 'em all Sandwiches, and everybody agreed that he was the
stupidest person going."

"You only told me two of 'em," said Tom.

"No--the whole eight were there. To make it more stupid the Poker said
that the first one was number five and the second was the other seven."

Tom smiled broadly at this and made up his mind to cultivate the
acquaintance of the Poker. He was boy enough to like stupidity of that
sort because it made him laugh.

"I'd like to meet the Poker," he said. "He must be lots of fun."

"He is," said the Lefthandiron. "Tenacre lots of fun. You'll meet him soon
enough because we shall join him shortly. We never go off on any of our
trips without him. He is a great help sometimes when we get into trouble
just because he has so many sides. If we fall into a pit through some
misstep the Poker comes along and pries us out of it. If we fall into the
hands of some horrible creature that wants to hurt us, the Poker talks to
that creature as stupid as he knows how, which makes the other so drowsy
that he can't possibly keep awake, and then, of course, we escape."

"There he is now," cried the Righthandiron, putting his right forepaw up
to his ear and listening attentively. "I can hear him singing, can't you?"

The Lefthandiron stopped short and Tom strained his ears to hear the
Poker's song. For a moment he could hear nothing, but then a slight
buzzing sound like the hum of a bee, came to his ears and in another
minute he could distinguish the words of the song. It was a song showing
that the singer was one of those favored beings who are satisfied with
what the world has given them--as you will see for yourself when you hear
it. These are the words as they came to Tom's ears, sung to a soft little
air which the Poker made up as he went along, thereby showing that he was
a musician as well as a Poker:

    "Oh, I am a Poker bold and free,
      And I poke the livelong day.
    I love the land and I hate the sea,
    But the sky and the clouds are there for me.

      I dote on the Milky Way.
    The clouds are as soft as a fleecy rug,
      And as cool as cool can be.
    The skies fit into my figure snug,
    And they make me feel so blithe and smug
      That I am glad Fate made me Me.
          Oh Me!
          Ah Me!
        'Tis a lovely fate
        And a mission great
          To be
          Like me
        And to love the skies,
        And the clouds to prize,
    And to hate the turbulent sea,
          He--he--
        So I lift my voice
        And I loud rejoice
    That the Fates have made me Me."

"Hullo!" cried the Righthandiron.

"Halloa!" called the Lefthandiron.

"That's not my name," came the voice of the Poker from behind a cloud just
above Tom's head. "But I know who you mean, so I answer Halloa yourself."

"Where are you?" cried Lefty.

"Here," called the Poker.

"No, you're not," called Righty. "You're there. We are here."

"Well, that's neither here nor there," retorted the Poker, poking his head
out through the cloud. "Hullo! Who have you got there? That isn't Tom, is
it?"

"No--it's Sleepyhead D. Dormouse," laughed Lefty.

"Good," said the Poker, advancing and shaking Tom by the hand. "I was
afraid it was Tom. Not that I dislike Tom, for I don't. I think he is one
of the nicest boys I know--but he weighs a good fifty-seven pounds, and so
far we haven't been able to get a cloud strong enough to support more than
fifty-six. If Tom were to come up here and sit on a cloud he'd fall
through, and if he fell through, you know what would happen."

"No, I don't," said Tom, to whom the Poker's remarks were addressed. "What
would happen?"

"Well, in the first place, it would spoil the cloud, and in the second
place, if he tumbled into the sea he'd have to swim ashore," said the
Poker, sagely. "That's why I am glad you're young Mr. Dormouse, and not
Tom. Dormice can sit on the flimsiest clouds we have and not break
through."

"What is a Dormouse anyhow?" asked Tom, to whom it now occurred for the
first time that he had never seen a Dormouse.

"Ho!" jeered Righty, as Tom asked the question. "The idea of not knowing
what a Dormouse is!"

"He's a mouse with a door to him, of course," said Lefty.

"Which he keeps closed," said the Poker, "so that he will not be disturbed
while he is asleep."

Tom tried to imagine what a creature of that sort looked like, but he
found it difficult. Not liking to appear stupid he accepted the
explanation.

"Oh!" he said. "It must be a very pretty animal."

"Oh, yes!" said the Poker. "But he isn't as pretty as I can be when I
try. My, how pretty I can be--but say, Andies, where are we bound this
trip?"

"We've left that to Sleepyhead to decide," said Lefty.

"In the usual way of course?" queried the Poker.

"Oh, yes! He can't decide except as we want him to and have it go as a
real decision. We've given him his choice of watching the world go round,
going to Saturn or taking the long jump."

[Illustration: "A MOUSE WITH A DOOR TO HIM."]

"And which will it be, Dormy?" asked the Poker.

"I sort of think I'd like to sit up here and watch the world go round,"
said Tom.

"Nope," said Righty.

"Then let's go to Saturn," suggested Tom.

"Oh, no!" said Righty. "Not that."

"Then there's only one thing left," said Tom, with a sigh, "and that's the
long jump--whatever that is."

Tom's three companions roared with laughter.

"Absurd!" cried Righty. "The idea. The long jump the only thing left! Ha,
ha, ha!"

"Perfect nonsense," laughed Lefty. "I never thought Dozy Pate could be so
dull."

"Well, he isn't anything like as dull as I can be when I try," said the
Poker. "He's pretty dull, though."

"I don't see where the joke comes in," snapped Tom, who did not at all
like the way the Andirons and the Poker were behaving. "If there are only
three things we can do and you won't do two of them there's only one
left."

"Ha, ha, ha!" roared Lefty.

"Poor dull Dormouse," said Righty, with a smile that was half of mirth and
half sympathy.

"You are evidently a Dormouse with very little education, Dormy," said the
Poker. "If there are three apples on a plate, one red, one green and one
white and you are told to take your pick of the lot there are four things
you can do, not three."

"What are they?" asked Tom, meekly.

[Illustration: "There's no better place than this cloud."]

"You can take a red one, a white one, a green one, or all three. See?"

"Oh, yes!" said Tom, beginning to smile again. "I see. You don't want me
to choose watching the earth go round, or going to Saturn, or taking the
long jump, but you do want me to choose all three."

"Now you are talking sense," said Righty. "And sense is what we are
after."

"That's it," said the Poker. "Now what do you choose, Dormy?"

"All three!" roared Tom.

"The Dormouse is getting his eyes open," said Lefty.

"Which is very proper," put in Righty, "for there is a great deal for him
to see."

"Not so much as there is for me to see," said the Poker. "My, what a lot
there is for me to see!"

"The first thing for us to do," said Lefty, paying no attention to the
Poker's words, "is to get a good place for us to sit, so that Sleepyhead
can see the world."

"There's no better place than this cloud," said the Poker. "I've sat here
many a time and studied China by the hour."

"It's a little too far away for Sleepyhead," said Lefty. "Dormy mustn't be
allowed to strain his eyes."

"Never thought of that," said the Poker. "Of course, I can see a great
deal farther than he can. My, how far I can see! What's the matter with
our pushing the cloud in a little nearer?"

"Nothing--if we can do it," said Righty. "But can we?"

"We can 'wink our eye and try,' as the poet says," returned the Poker.
"Ever heard that poem, Dormy?"

"No," returned Tom. "That is, not that I know of. I've heard lots of
poetry in my life, but it goes in one ear and out of the other."

"You must have a queer head," said the Poker, peering into Tom's ear. "How
a poem poured into one ear can go out of the other I can't understand.
There doesn't seem to be any opening there."

[Illustration: "In one ear and out of the other."]

"His head isn't solid like ours," said Lefty. "It's too bad to be
afflicted the way he is. He ought to do the way a boy I knew once did. He
suffered just as Dormy does. You'd tell him a thing in his left ear and
the first thing you'd know, pop! it would all come out of the other ear
and be lost. The poor fellow was growing up to be an ignoramus. Couldn't
keep a thing in his head, until one night I overheard his father and
mother talking about it in the library. The boy's father wanted to punish
him for not remembering what he learned at school, when his mother said
just what Dormy here said, that everything went in one ear and out of the
other. Then they both looked sad, and the mother rubbed her eyes until
the tears came. I couldn't stand that. If there's one thing in the world
I can't stand it's other people's sorrows. Mine don't amount to much, but
other people's do sometimes. I felt so bad for the poor parents that I
racked and racked my brains trying to think of some way to cure the boy.
It took me a week, but I got it at last and the next time the boy's
parents talked about it I took the matter in hand. I simply walked out of
the fireplace where I was and said, 'I hope you will excuse the
interference of an Andiron, ma'am, but I think your boy can be cured of
his ear trouble.' 'Noble fellow,' said the father, after he had got over
his surprise at my unusual behavior. 'What do you suggest?'

"'Put a cork in his other ear,' said I.

"And they did, and from that time on the boy never lost a bit of
information any one gave him. He grew up to be a dreadfully wise man and
when he finally died he was known as the human N. Cyclopedia."

"That was a noble act of yours," said the Poker. "Did you have the idea
patented?"

"No," said the Andiron. "I wanted to, but the patent rules require that a
working model should be sent with the request for a patent for the patent
office to keep, which of course I couldn't do."

"Why not?" asked Tom.

"I couldn't get a boy who would consent to spend his life in the showcase.
I could get all the corks I wanted, but no boy, and so I had to give it
up," replied Lefty, with a sigh. "I'd have been a rich Andiron today if I
could have had that idea patented. I shouldn't be surprised if I'd have
had enough to have Righty and the Poker and myself goldplated."

"Oh, well, I wouldn't feel bad about that," said the Poker. "What's the
use? You're bright as any gold that ever shined and you are quite as
useful. Gold may be worth more than you are, but what of it? The people
who bought you are willing to change their gold for you, so that really
puts you ahead. As for myself I wouldn't be gold if I could. Gold Pokers
aren't worth anything as Pokers, and what's more, if I were gold Tom's
father would lock me up in the safe every night and then I couldn't travel
about the way I do."

"Never thought of it in that light," said Lefty. "I'm glad I'm brass,
after all."

"But you were going to tell us a poem, weren't you?" asked Tom.

"Yes," said the Poker. "It's a simple little verse, but there is a good
deal of fine advice in it. All it says is:

    "If you're in doubt if you can do
    A thing some one has asked you to,
    Don't sit you down and moan and cry
    Because you can't, but wink your eye
          And try."

"There's good advice enough for a lifetime in that, Dormy," said the
Righthandiron. "And now let's see if we can move the cloud."

The four little creatures set out at once to push the cloud nearer to the
earth so that Tom could see the latter going around more clearly, but
their efforts were in vain. The cloud wouldn't budge an inch.

"No use," said the Poker, panting with his exertion. "There is only one
thing to do now and that is to send for the Bellows. If he'll come and
blow in his usual style we'll have that cloud where we want it in less
than no time. I'd blow it there myself, for I am a far better blower than
the Bellows is--my, how I can blow! But I'm out of breath trying to push
the cloud."

"I'll run back and get the Bellows," said Lefty.

"And I'll go with you," said Righty. "He may not come for one, but I'm
sure he will for two."

"All right," said the Poker. "Dormy and I will wait here for you; and I'll
tell him a story while you're gone. How will that suit you Dormy?"

"First rate," said Tom. "I like stories."

"We'll be back soon," said the Righthandiron, as he and the other started
back after the Bellows. "So make your story short."

"Very good," returned the Poker amiably. "I'll make it so short that Dormy
will hardly know that it was ever begun."

And so Tom was left sitting on a big cloud way up in the sky with the
Poker--which was indeed a very novel position for a small boy like him to
be in.



CHAPTER IV.

The Poker Tells His Story


"I suppose," said the Poker, after the Andirons had passed out of hearing
distance, "I suppose you think it a very extraordinary thing that I, who
am nothing but a Poker, should be satisfied with my lot. Eh?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Tom, snuggling down on the cloud which he found
to be deliciously soft and comfortable. "If you were a Poker who could
only poke it might seem queer. But you can talk and sing and travel about.
You don't have to do any work in summer time, and in winter you have a
nice warm spot to stay in all the day long. I don't think it's very
strange."

"But I'm not different from any other Poker," said Tom's companion, "They
all do pretty much what I do except that most of them are always growling
at their hard lot, while I do very little but sing and rejoice that I am
what I am, and the story I was going to tell you was how I came to be so
well satisfied to be a Poker. Would you like to have me do that, Dormy?"

"Yes," said Tom. "Very much. Were you always a Poker?"

"Not I," said the Poker, with a shake of his head. "I've been a Poker only
two years. Before that I had been a little of everything. What do you
suppose I began life as?"

"A railroad track," said Tom, bound to have a guess at the right answer,
though he really hadn't the slightest notion that he was correct.

[Illustration: "A POKER WHO COULD ONLY POKE."]

"You came pretty near it," said the Poker, with a smile. "I began life as
a boy."

"I don't see how a boy is pretty near a railroad track," said Tom.

"The boy I began life as lived right next door to a railroad," explained
the Poker. "See now?"

"Yes," said Tom. "But why didn't you stay a boy?"

"Because I wasn't contented," said the Poker, with a sigh. "I ought to
have been, though. I had everything in the world that a boy could want. My
parents were as good to me as they could possibly be. I had all the toys I
wanted. All I could eat--plenty of pudding and other good things as often
as they were to be had. I had two little sisters, who used to do
everything in the world for me. Plenty of boy friends to play with, and,
as I said before, a railroad right next door--and oh, the trains, and
trains, and trains I used to see! It was great fun. I can see, now that I
look back on it, and yet I never was satisfied. I used to cry my eyes out
sometimes because I hadn't wings like a bird, so that I could fly. At
other times I'd get discontented that I couldn't run as fast as a dog--I
never went to bed without feeling envious of somebody or something.

"Finally one night I'd gone to bed feeling particularly unhappy because a
big eagle I had seen flying about in the sky could do things I couldn't.
My nurse, thinking I had fallen asleep, went out of the night nursery and
left me alone. Just as she went out of one door the other door opened and
a very beautiful lady came in.

"'Is that you, mama?' I asked.

"'No,' said she. 'I am not your mother. I am a Fairy.'

"I had been crying pretty hard, I can tell you," said the Poker, with a
shake of his head, "but as soon as I heard the lady say she was a Fairy my
tears dried up as quick as lightning.

[Illustration: "I am not your mother; I am a fairy."]

"'I am a Fairy,' she repeated, coming to the side of my little bed and
stroking my forehead kindly. 'My duty is to seek out one discontented
person each year and see if I can't do something to help him. I have come
to help you if I can. Don't you like being a boy?'

"'Not very much,' said I. 'It's awfully hard work. I have to go to school
every day and learn lots of things I don't care to know about, and most of
the time I'm kept in an hour or two just because I can't remember how much
seven times two are, or whether c-a-t spells dog or horse, and I don't
like it.'

"'But you are strong and well. Your father and mother are very good to you
and you have more good times than unhappy ones, don't you?'

[Illustration: "DOESN'T HAVE TO LIVE IN A BATHTUB."]

"'I never counted,' said I. 'I don't believe I do, though. I'm strong and
well, but so is that eagle I saw today, and he can fly, and I can't. Then
there's my little dog--he's as well as can be, and my father and mother
are kind to him just as they are kind to me. He doesn't have to bother
with school. He's allowed to go anywhere he wants to, and never gets
scolded for it. Besides, he doesn't have to be dressed up all the time and
live in a bathtub the way I do.'

"'Then you think you would be happier as Rollo than you are as yourself?'
said she.

"'Very much,' said I.

"'Then it shall be so,' said she. 'Good-by!'

"She went out as quietly as she had come, and I turned over and after
thinking over what she had said I fell asleep. Then the queerest thing
happened. I slept right through until the morning, dreaming the strangest
dream you ever heard of. I dreamed that I had been changed into Rollo--and
oh, the fun I had! Life was nothing but play and liberty, and then I
waked. I tried to call my father and tell him I was ready for the morning
story, but what do you suppose I did instead?"

"Give it up," said Tom. "What?"

"I barked," said the Poker, "and when I barked I looked down at my feet.
Sure enough I was Rollo, and Rollo was I lying asleep in my bed. I was on
the floor at the foot of the bed. Then the nurse came in and slapped me
for barking and I had the pleasure of being sent down stairs to the
cellar, while Rollo himself, who had been changed into me went into my
father's room and got the story."

"Mercy!" said Tom. "I guess you were sorry about that."

"I was, a little," said the Poker. "But after I had been down in the
cellar an hour or two I saw a beautiful piece of steak in the ice-box and
I ate it all up. It wasn't cooked at all, but being a little dog I liked
it all the better for that. Then I drank up a panful of milk and had a
lovely time teasing the cat, until the cook came down, when my troubles
began. I never knew when I was a boy that Rollo had troubles, but I found
out that day that he had. The cook gave me a terrible whipping because I
had eaten the steak, and I had hardly recovered from that when Rollo, who
was now what I had been, took me up into the nursery and played with me
just as I had always played with him. He held me up by the tail; he
flicked me with his handkerchief; he harnessed me up to a small cart and
made me drag his sisters' doll babies about the room for one whole hour,
and then when lunch time came the waitress forgot me and I had to go
hungry all the afternoon. Every time I'd try to go into the kitchen the
cook would drive me out with a stick for fear I would eat the other things
in the cellar--and oh, dear, I had a miserable time of it.

"The worst of it came two or three days later," continued the Poker. "It
was Rollo's bath day, and as I was Rollo of course I had to take Rollo's
bath, and my, wasn't it awful! I'd rather take a hundred such baths as I
had when I was a boy than one like Rollo's. The soap got into my eyes and
I couldn't say a word. Then it got into my mouth, and bah! how fearful it
was. After that I was grabbed by all four of my legs and soused into the
water until I thought I should drown, and rubbed until my fur nearly came
off.

"I wished then that I had asked the Fairy to leave her address so that I
could send for her and have her come back and let me be a boy again. All
the fun of being Rollo was spoiled by the woes that were his to bear--woes
I had never dreamed of his having until I took his place.

"I must have been Rollo a month when the Fairy came back one night to see
how I was getting along. Rollo lay asleep in my crib, while I was curled
up in a dog basket at the foot of it.

"'Well,' said the Fairy as she entered the room, 'how do you both do?'

"'I like it first-rate,' said Rollo. 'Being a boy is ever so much nicer
than being a dog.'

"'I think so, too," said I. 'And if you don't mind I'd like to be a boy
again.'

"'What boy do you want to be?' she asked.

"'What boy?' said I. 'Why, myself, of course. Who else?'

"'What has Rollo to say about that?' said the Fairy, turning to him--and I
tell you, Dormy, it made my heart sick to hear that Rollo had anything to
say about it, for there couldn't be much doubt as to how he would
decide."



CHAPTER V.

The Poker Concludes His Story


"It was just as I feared," said the Poker. "Rollo knew a good thing when
he had it."

"'I'm satisfied, the way things are now,' said he. 'I wouldn't change back
and be a Scotch terrier for all the world.'

"Then the Fairy turned to me and said, 'I'm sorry, my dear, but if Rollo
won't consent to the change you'll have to be contented to remain as you
are--unless you'd like to try being an eagle for a while.'

"'I'll never consent,' said Rollo, selfishly, though I couldn't really
blame him for it.

"'Then make me an eagle,' I said. 'Make me anything but what I am.'

"'Very well,' said the Fairy. 'Good-night.'

"Next morning," continued the Poker, "when I waked up I was cold and
stiff, and when I opened my eyes to look about me I found myself seated on
a great ledge of rock on the side of a mountain. Far below me were tops of
the trees in a forest I never remembered to have seen before, while above
me a hard black wall of rock rose straight up for a thousand feet. To
climb upward was impossible; to climb down, equally so.

"'What on earth does this mean?' thought I; and then, in attempting to
walk, I found that I had but two legs, where the night before I had fallen
asleep with four.

"'Am I a boy again?' I cried with delight.

"'No,' said a voice from way below me in the trees. 'You are now an eagle
and I hope you will be happy.'

"You never were an eagle, were you, Dormy?" said the Poker, gazing
earnestly into Tom's face.

"No," said Tom, "never. I've never been any kind of bird."

[Illustration: "EAGLES NEVER HAVE UMBRELLAS."]

"Well, don't you ever be one," said the Poker, with a knowing shake of the
head. "It's all very beautiful to think about, but being an eagle is
entirely different from what thinking about it is. I was that eagle for
one whole month, and the life of a Scotch terrier is bliss alongside of
it. In the first place it was fight, fight, fight for food. It was lots of
fun at first jumping off the crag down a thousand feet into the valley,
but flying back there to get out of the way of the huntsmen was worse than
pulling a sled with rusty runners up a hill a mile long. Then, when storms
came up I had to sit up there on that mountain side and take 'em all as
they came. I hadn't any umbrella--eagles never have--to keep off the
rain; and no walls except on one side, to keep off the wind, and no
shutters to close up so that I couldn't see the lightning. It was
terrible. All I got to eat in the whole month was a small goat and a
chicken hawk, and those I had to swallow wool, feathers and all. Then I
got into fights with other eagles, and finally while I was looking for
lunch in the forest I fell into a trap and was caught by some men who put
me in a cage so that people could come to see me."

"Ever been shut up in a cage?" queried the Poker at this point.

"No," said Tom, "only in a dark closet."

"Never had to stay shut up, though, more than ten minutes, did you?"

"No," answered Tom, "never."

"Well, think of me cooped up in an old cage for two weeks!" said the
Poker. "That was woe enough for a lifetime, but it wasn't half what I had
altogether. The other creatures in the Zoo growled and shrieked all night
long; none of us ever got a quarter enough to eat, and several times the
monkey in the cage next to me would reach his long arm into my prison and
yank out half a dozen of my feathers at once. In fact, I had nothing but
mishaps all the time. As the poet says:

    "Talk about your troubles,
      Talk about your woes,
    Yours are only bubbles,
      Sir, compared with those.

"At the end of two weeks I was nearly frantic. I don't think I could have
stood it another week--but fortunately at the end of the month back came
the Fairy again.

"'How do you like being an eagle?' she said.

"'I'd rather be a tree rooted to the ground in the midst of a dense forest
than all the eagles in the world,' said I.

"'Very well,' said she. 'It shall be so. Good-night.'

"In the morning I was a tree--and if there is anything worse than being a
dog or an eagle it's being a tree," said the Poker. "I could hear
processions going by with fine bands of music in the distance, but I
couldn't stir a step to see them. Boys would come along and climb up into
my branches and shake me nearly to pieces. Cows came and chewed up my
leaves, and one day the wood-cutters came and were just about to cut me
down when the Fairy appeared again and sent them away.

"'They will be back again tomorrow,' she said. 'Do you wish to remain a
tree?'

"'No, no, no,' I cried. 'I'll be content to be anything you choose if you
will save me from them.'

"'There,' she said. 'That's the point. If you will keep that promise you
will finally be happy. If you will only look on the bright side of things,
remembering the pleasant and forgetting the unpleasant, you will be happy.
If you will be satisfied with what you are and have and not go about
swelling up with envy whenever you see anyone or anything that has or can
do things that you have not or cannot do, you will be happy in spite of
yourself. Will you promise me this?'

"'Indeed I will,' I said.

"'Even if I change you into so poor a thing as a Poker?'

"'Yes,' said I.

[Illustration: "ONE DAY THE WOODCUTTERS CAME."]

"'Very well,' said she. 'It shall be so. Good-night.'

"Next morning I waked up to find myself as you see--nothing more than a
Poker, but contented to be one. I have kept my promise with the Fairy, and
I am simply the happiest thing in the world. I don't sit down and groan
because I have to poke the fire. On the contrary, when I am doing that I'm
always thinking how nice it will be when I get done and I lean up against
the rack and gaze on all the beautiful things in the room. I always think
about the pleasant things, and if you don't know it, Dormy, let me tell
you that that's the way to be happy and to make others happy. Sometimes
people think me vain. The Fender told me one night I was the vainest
creature he ever knew. I'm not really so. I only will not admit that there
is anything or anybody in the world who is more favored than I am. That is
all. If I didn't do that I might sometime grow a little envious in spite
of myself. As it is I never do and haven't had an unhappy hour since I
became a contented Poker."

Tom was silent for a few minutes after the Poker had completed his story,
and then he said:

"Don't you sometimes feel unhappy because you are not the boy you used to
be?"

"No," said the Poker. "I am not because Rollo makes a better boy than I
was. He is a contented boy and I was not."

"But don't you miss your father and mother?" queried Tom.

"Of course not," said the Poker, "because the Fairy was good enough to
have me made into the Poker used in their new house. My parents moved away
from the railroad just after Rollo became me, and built themselves a new
house, and of course they had to have a new Poker to go with it--so I
really live home, you see, with them."

A curious light came into Tom's eyes.

"Mr. Poker," said he. "Who was this boy you used to be?"

"Tom," said the Poker.

"I'm not Rollo," roared Tom, starting up.

"Nobody said you were," retorted the Poker. "You are Dormy. Tom is
Rollo--but, I say, here come the Andirons and the Bellows."

Tom looked down from the cloud, and sure enough the three were coming up
as fast as the wind, and in the excitement of the moment the little
traveler forgot all about the Poker's story, in which he seemed himself to
have figured without knowing it.

[Illustration: "SO I REALLY LIVE HOME."]



CHAPTER VI.

The Literary Bellows


"What kept you so long?" asked the Poker, as the Andiron and Bellows came
up. "Was our friend Bellows out of breath, or what?"

"No, I wasn't out of breath," said the Bellows. "I never am out of breath.
You might as well expect a groceryman to be out of groceries as a bellows
to be out of breath. I wasn't long, either--at least, no longer than
usual, which is two foot three. A longer bellows than that would be
useless for our purpose. I simply didn't want to come, that's all. I was
very busy writing when they interrupted me."

"It was very kind of you to come when you didn't want to," said Tom.

"No, it wasn't," said the Bellows. "I didn't want to come then, I don't
want to be here now, and I wouldn't blow the cloud an inch for you if I
didn't have to."

"But why do you have to?" asked Tom.

"I'm outvoted, that's all," replied the Bellows. "You see, my dear
Weasel"--

"Dormouse," whispered the Poker.

"I mean Dormouse," said the Bellows, correcting himself. "You see, I
believe in everybody having a say in regard to everything. I always have
everything I can put to a vote. Consequently, when Righty here came down
and asked me to help blow the cloud over and I said that I wouldn't do it
he called Lefty in, and we put it to a vote as to whether I'd have to or
not. They voted that I must and I voted that I needn't, and, of course,
that beat me; so here I am."

"Well, it's very good of you, just the same," said the Poker. "You aren't
quite as good-natured as I am, but you come pretty near it. Most people
would have left a matter of that kind entirely to themselves and then
voted the way they felt like voting. You aren't selfish, anyhow."

"Yes, I am," said the Bellows. "I'm awfully selfish."

"You're not, either," said the Poker.

"Oh, goodness!" ejaculated the Bellows. "What's the use of fighting? I say
I am."

[Illustration: "WHAT'S THE USE OF FIGHTING?"]

"Let's have a vote on it," said Righty. "I vote he isn't."

"So do I," said Tom.

"Me, too," said Lefty.

"Those are my sentiments likewise," put in the Poker.

"Oh, very well, then, I'm not," said the Bellows, with a deep drawn sigh;
"but I do wish you'd let me have my own way about some things. I want to
be selfish, even if I'm not."

"Well, we are very sorry," said the Poker, "but we can't let you be; we
need you too much to permit you to be selfish. Besides, you're too good a
fellow to be selfish. I knew a boy who was selfish once, and he got into
all sorts of trouble. Nobody liked him, and once when he gave a big dinner
to a lot of other boys not one of them would come, and he had to eat all
the dinner himself. The result was that he overate himself, ruined his
digestion, and all the rest of his life had to do without pies and cake
and other good things. It served him right, too. Do you think we are going
to let you be like that, Mr. Bellows?"

"I suppose not," said the Bellows, "but stories about selfish boys don't
frighten me. I'm a bellows, not a boy. I don't give dinners and I don't
eat pie and cake. Plain air is good enough for me, and I wouldn't give a
cent for all the other good eatables in the world except doughnuts. I like
doughnuts because, after all, they are only bellows cakes. But come, let's
hurry up with the cloud. I want to get back to my desk. I have a poem to
finish before breakfast."

This statement interested Tom hugely. He had read many a book, but never
before had he met a real author, and even if the Bellows had been a man,
so long as he was a writer, Tom would have looked upon him with awe.

"Excuse me," he said hesitatingly, as the Bellows began to wheeze away at
the cloud, "do you really write?"

[Illustration: "I blow a story or two, now and then."]

"Well, no," said the Bellows. "No, I don't write, but I blow a story or
two now and then. You see, I can't write because I haven't any hands, but
I can wheeze out a tale to a stenographer once in a while which any
magazine would be glad to publish if it could get hold of it. One of my
stories called Sparks blew into a powder magazine once and it made a
tremendous noise in the world when it came out."

"I wish you would tell me one," said Tom.

"Are you a stenographer?" asked the Bellows.

"No," said Tom, "but I like stories just the same."

"Well," said the Bellows, "I'll tell you one about Jimmie Tompkins and the
red apple."

"Hurrah!" cried Tom. "I love red apples."

"So did Jimmie Tompkins," said the Bellows, "and that's why he died. He
ate a red apple while it was green and it killed him."

There was a pause for an instant, and the Bellows redoubled his efforts to
move the cloud, which for some reason or other did not stir easily.

"Go ahead," said Tom, when he thought he had waited long enough for the
Bellows to resume.

"What on?" asked the Bellows.

"On your story about Jimmie Tompkins and the red apple," Tom answered.

"Why, I've told you that story," retorted the Bellows. "Jimmie ate the red
apple and died. What more do you want? That's all there is to it."

"It isn't a very long story," suggested Tom, ruefully, for he was much
disappointed.

"Well, why should it be?" demanded the Bellows. "A story doesn't have to
be long to be good, and as long as it is all there--"

"I know," said Tom; "but in most stories there's a lot of things put in
that help to make it interesting."

"All padding!" sneered the Bellows, "and that I will never do. If a story
can be told in five words what's the use of padding it out to five
thousand?"

"None," said Tom, "except that you can't make a book out of a story of
five words."

"Oh, yes, you can," said the Bellows, airily. "It isn't any trouble at all
if you only know how, and in the end you have a much more useful book than
if you made it a million words long. You can print the five words on the
first page and leave the other five hundred pages blank, so that after you
get through with the volume as a story book you can use it for a blank
book or a diary. Most books nowadays are so full of story that when you
get through with them there isn't anything else you can do with the book."

"It's a new idea," said Tom, with a laugh.

"And all my own invention, too," said the Bellows proudly.

"He's the most inventive Bellows that ever was," put in the Poker, "that
is, in a literary way. How many copies of your book of 'Unwritten Poems'
did you sell, Wheezy?" he added.

"Eight million," returned the Bellows. "That was probably my greatest
literary achievement."

"'Unwritten Poems,' eh?" said Tom, to whom the title seemed curious.

"Yes," said the Bellows. "The book had three hundred pages, all nicely
bound--twenty-six lines to a page--and each beginning with a capital
letter, just as poetry should. Then, so as to be quite fair to all the
letters, I began with A and went right straight through the alphabet to
Z."

"But the poems?" demanded Tom.

"They were unwritten just as the title said," returned the Bellows. "You
see that left everything to the imagination, which is a great thing in
poetry."

"Didn't people complain?" Tom asked.

"Everybody did," replied the Bellows, "but that was just what I wanted. I
agreed to answer every complaint accompanied by ten cents in postage
stamps. Eight million complaints alone brought me in $480,000 over and
above all expenses, which were four cents per complaint."

"But what was your answer?" demanded Tom.

"I merely told them that my book stood upon its own merits, and that if
they didn't like my unwritten poems they could write some of their own on
the blank pages of the book. It was a perfectly fair proposition," the
Bellows replied.

"I think I like written poetry best, though," said Tom.

"That's entirely a matter of taste," said the Bellows, "and I shan't find
fault with you for that. The only thing is that Unwritten Poems are apt to
have fewer faults than the written ones, and every great poet will tell
you that nobody ever detected any mistakes in his poems until he had put
them down on paper. If he had left them unwritten nobody would ever have
known how bad they were."

Tom scratched his head in a puzzled mood. He could not quite grasp the
Bellows' meaning.

"What do you think about it, Righty?" he demanded of the Andiron.

"Oh, I don't think anything about it," replied Righty. "I haven't watched
poetry much. You see, Lefty and I don't see much of it. People light fires
nowadays more with newspapers than with poetry."

"What I've seen burns well," observed the Lefthandiron, "and don't make
much ashes to get into your eyes; but, say, Wheezy, if you'll do your
blowing about this cloud rather than about your poetry we may get
somewhere."

"Very well," said the Bellows; "fasten your hats on tight and turn up your
collars. I'm going to give you a regular tornado."

And he was as good as his word, for, expanding himself to the utmost
limit, he gave a tremendous wheeze, which nearly blew Tom from his perch,
sent his cap flying off into space and smashed the cloud into four
separate pieces, one of which, bearing the Poker, floated rapidly off to
the north, while the other three sped south, east and west, respectively.

[Illustration: "HE GAVE A TREMENDOUS WHEEZE."]

"Hi, there," cried Righty, as he perceived the damage done to their fleecy
chariot. "What are you up to? We don't want to be blown to the four
corners of the earth. Pull in--pull in, for goodness sake, or we'll never
get together again!"

"There's no satisfying you fellows," growled the Bellows. "First I don't
blow enough, and then I blow too much."

"Stop growling and haul us back again!" cried the Poker.

The Bellows began to haul in his breath rapidly, and by a process of
suction soon had the four parts of the burst cloud back together once
more.

"By jingo!" panted Lefty. "That was a narrow escape. Two seconds more and
this party would have been a goner. Even as it is, you've twisted my neck
so I'll never get it back in shape again," said the Righthandiron.

"Well, I'm sorry," said the Bellows, "but it's all your own fault. You
asked me to blow the cloud, and I blew it. You didn't say where you wanted
it blown."

"You needn't have blown it to smithereens, just the same!" retorted the
Poker. "It doesn't cost anything to ask a question now and then."

"Where, then?" demanded the Bellows.

"I'd like to find my hat," said Tom.

"Very well," said the Bellows. "I see it speeding off toward the moon, and
we'll chase after it, but we'll never catch it if it misses the moon and
falls past it into space."

The Poker rose to his full height and peered after the cap, which, even as
the Bellows had said, was sailing rapidly off in the direction of the
crescent moon, which lay to the west and below them.

"Hurrah!" he cried. "It's all right."

"Can you see it still?" asked Tom, anxiously, for his cap was made of
sealskin and he didn't wish to lose it.

"Yes, it's all right," said the Poker. "It nearly missed, but not quite.
If you will look through these glasses you will see it."

The Poker handed Tom a pair of strong field glasses and the lad, gazing
anxiously through them, was delighted to see his wandering cap hanging, as
if on a great golden hook in the sky beneath them, and which was nothing
more than the last appearance of the moon itself.

"Good!" cried the Righthandiron. "That settles the question for us of
where we shall go next. There is no choice left. We'll go to the moon.
Heave ahead, Wheezy."

Whereupon the Bellows began to blow, at first gently, then stronger and
stronger, and yet more strongly still, until the cloud was moving rapidly
in the direction they desired.



CHAPTER VII.

They Reach the Crescent Moon


As the jolly party sped along through the heavens Tom began to find his
eyes bothering him a trifle. Brilliant as many of the sunshiny days had
been at home, particularly when the snow was on the ground, nothing so
dazzlingly bright as this great golden arc in the sky was getting to be,
as they approached closer, had ever greeted his sight.

"It's blinding!" he cried, his eyes blinking and filling with water as he
gazed upon the scene. "I can't stand it. What shall I do, Lefty?"

"Turn your head around and approach it backward," said Lefty. "Then you
won't see it."

"But I want to see it," retorted Tom. "What's the use of visiting the moon
if you can't see it?"

"Reminds me of a poem I wrote once," put in the Poker. "'What's the Use?'
was one of my masterpieces, and maybe if I recite it to you it will help
your eyes."

"Bosh!" growled the Bellows, who was beginning to get a little
short-winded with his labors, and, therefore, a trifle out of temper. "How
on earth will reciting your poem help Tom's eyes?"

"Easy enough," returned the Poker haughtily and with a contemptuous glance
at the Bellows. "My poem is so much brighter than the moon that the moon
will seem dull alongside of it."

"Go ahead anyhow," said Tom, interested at once and forgetting his eyes
for the moment. "Give us the poem."

"Here goes, then," said the Poker, with a low bow and then, standing
erect, he began. "It's called

    WHAT'S THE USE.

    What's the use of circuses that haven't any beasts?
    What's the use of restaurants that haven't any feasts?

    What's the use of oranges that haven't any peels?
    What's the use of bicycles that haven't any wheels?

    What's the use of railway trains that have no place to go?
    What's the use of going to war if you haven't any foe?

    What's the use of splendid views for those that cannot see?
    What's the use of freedom's flag to folks that aren't free?

    What's the use of legs to those who have no wish to walk?
    What's the use of languages to those who cannot talk?

    What's the use of kings and queens that haven't any throne?
    What's the use of having pains unless you're going to groan?

    What's the use of anything, however grand and good,
    That doesn't ever, ever work the way it really should?"

"Humph!" panted the Bellows, "you don't call that bright, do you?"

"I do, indeed," said the Poker. "And I call it bright because I know it's
bright. It is so bright that not a magazine in all the world dare print
it, because they'd never be able to do as well again, and people would say
the magazine wasn't as good as it used to be."

"What nonsense," retorted the Bellows. "Why, I could blow a mile of poetry
like that in ten minutes:

    What's the use of churches big that haven't any steeples?
    What's the use of nations great that haven't any peoples?

    What's the use of oceans grand that haven't any beaches?
    What's the use of Delawares that haven't any peaches?

    What's the use--"

"O, shut up Wheezy," interrupted the Poker angrily. "Of course you can go
on like that forever, once somebody gives you the idea, but to have the
idea in the beginning was the big thing. Columbus was a great man for
coming to America, but every foreigner who has come over since isn't, not
by a long shot. As I say in my celebrated rhyme on "Greatness":

    The greatest man in all the world, by far the greatest one,
    Is he who goes ahead and does what no one else has done.
    But he must be the first if he would rank as some "potaters,"
    For those who follow after him are merely imitators.

[Illustration: "COLUMBUS WAS A GREAT MAN."]

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the Bellows. "You are a great chap, Pokey--you, with
your poetry. I hope Tom isn't going to be affected by the lessons you
teach. The idea of saying that a man is the greatest man in the world
because he does what no one else has done! I guess nobody's never eaten
bricks up to now. Do you mean to say that if Tom here ate a brick he'd be
the greatest man in the world?"

"No; he'd be a cannibal," put in the Righthandiron, desirous of stopping
the quarrel between the rivals.

"How do you make that out?" demanded the Bellows.

"Because Tom is a brick himself," explained the Righthandiron; and just
then slap! bang! the party plunged head first into what appeared to
be--and in fact really was--a huge snowbank.

"Hurrah! Here we are!" cried Lefty, gleefully.

"Wh-where are we?" Tom sputtered, blowing the snow out of his mouth and
shaking it from his coat and hair and ears.

"Hi, there! Look out!" roared Righty, grabbing Tom by the coat sleeve and
yanking him off to one side. A terrible swishing sound fell upon the lad's
ears, and as he gazed doggedly about him to see what had caused it he saw
a great golden toboggan whizzing down into the valley, and then slipping
up the hill on the other side.

"You had a narrow escape that time," said Righty, as they excitedly
watched the toboggan speeding on its way, and which, by the way, was
filled with a lot of little youngsters no bigger than Tom himself,
children of all colors, apparently, red, white and blue, green, yellow and
black. "If I hadn't yanked you away you'd have been run over."

"But where are we?" Tom asked, bewildered by the experience.

"We're on the Crescent Moon at last," said Lefty. "It's the boss toboggan
slide of the universe."

"A toboggan slide?" cried Tom.

"The very same," said the Poker. "Didn't you know that this dazzling
whiteness of the Crescent Moon is merely the reflection of the sun's light
on the purest of pure white snow? It's too high up for dust and dirt here,
you see, and so the snow is always clean, and so, equally of course, is
dazzling white."

"But the tobogganing?" asked Tom.

"It's like swinging and letting the old cat die," explained the
Righthandiron. "You see, it's this shape," and he marked the crescent form
of the moon on the snow and lettered the various points.

"Now," he continued, "you start your toboggan at A and whizz down to C.
When you get there you have gathered speed enough to take you up the hill
to B. Then of its own weight the toboggan slides back to D, from which it
again moves forward to E, and so it keeps on sliding back and forth until
finally it comes to a dead stop at C. Isn't that a fine arrangement?"

"Magnificent," said Tom. "And do they call it tobogganing here?"

"No," said Righty, "it's called oscillating, and the machine is known as
the oscycle"--

"Don't confound it with the icicle," put in the Bellows.

"Oh, I know what an icicle is," said Tom. "It's a spear of ice that hangs
from a piazza roof."

"That's what it is at home," said the Poker, "but not here, my lad. Here
an icicle is a bicycle with runners instead of wheels."

"But what makes it go?" demanded Tom.

"Pedals, of course," returned the Poker. "You just tread away on the
pedals, as if you were riding on a bicycle, and the chain sets a dozen ice
picks revolving that shove you over the ice like the wind. Oh, it's great
sport!"

[Illustration: "YOU SEE, IT'S THIS SHAPE."]

Another rush and roar of a passing toboggan caused them to pause in their
conversation for a moment, and then Tom turned his attention to the
diagram Righty had drawn on the snow.

"Suppose you didn't stop at B and go back--what would happen?" he asked as
he considered the possible dangers of this wonderful new sport.

"You'd fall over the edge, of course," said the Poker.

"I see that," said Tom. "But if you fell over the edge what would become
of you? Where would you land?"

"If you had luck you wouldn't land anywhere," said Righty. "The chances
are, however, you'd fall back on the earth again. Maybe in Canada,
possibly in China, perhaps in Egypt. It would all depend on the time of
night."

"And wouldn't you be killed?" Tom asked.

"Not if you had your rubbers on," said Righty. "If you had your rubbers on
it would only jar you slightly. You'd just hit the earth and then bounce
back again, but there's no use of talking about that, because it never
happened but once. It happened to a chap named Blenkinson, who took an
Oscillator that hadn't any brake on it. He was one of those smart fellows
that want to show how clever they are. He whizzed down one side and up the
other, and pouf! First thing he knew he was flying off into space."

"And what became of him?" demanded Tom.

"He had the luck not to hit anything, but he suffered just the same," said
Righty. "He flew on until he got to a point where he was held fast up in
the air by the force of gravity of 1,600 different planets, and he's there
yet. At a distance he looks like another new star, but when you get close
to him he's nothing more than just a plain, everyday Smarty."

"I should think he'd starve to death," said Tom, as he reflected on the
horrid fate of Blenkinson.

"He would if he had any appetite," said the Bellows. "But he hasn't. He's
so worried all the time that he can't eat, so he gets along very well
without food."

"Let's quit talking now," suggested the Poker, "and get a ride, eh?"

"I'm ready," said Tom eagerly. "Where do we start?"

"There's the station up on the hill. It's only about 700 miles. We can
walk it in a year," said Righty.

"I move we take this cloud that's coming up," said the Bellows. "I'm
winded."

Tom looked in the direction in which the Bellows had pointed, and, sure
enough, there was a cloud coming slowly along, shaped very much like a
trolley car, and on the front of it, as it drew nearer, the lad was soon
able to discern the funny little figure of a Brownie acting as motorman.

"Why, it's really a trolley!" he cried.

[Illustration: "Why it's really a trolley!"]

"Certainly it is!" laughed Righty. "Didn't you know that? When you have
watched the moon from your window at home and seen constant lines of
clouds passing up to it and stopping before its face night after night
what did you suppose they did it for? Fun? I guess not. They're clever
people up here, these moonfolk are, and they make use of everything going.
They've taken these electric clouds and turned 'em into a sort of Sky
Traction Company, and instead of letting 'em travel all around the
universe doing nothing and raising thunder generally, some of the richer
Brownies have formed a company to control them."

By this time the cloud had reached the point where our little party stood,
and the motorman, in response to the Bellows' signal, brought it to a
standstill.

"Step lively, please," the conductor cried from the rear end.

Tom and the two Andirons and the Poker and Bellows clambered aboard.

The conductor clanged a bell. The motorman turned his wheel and the cloud
moved rapidly on.

And what a queer crowd of folks there were on board that strange trolley
cloud. Tom had never seen such an interesting group before.



CHAPTER VIII.

On the Trolley Cloud.


As I stated at the end of the last chapter, the travelers Tom and his
companions encountered upon the Trolley cloud were a wonderful lot. In the
first place, the whole situation was strange. Here was, in fact, a perfect
car, made of what at a distance looked to be nothing but a fleecy bit of
vapor. It had seats and signs--indeed, the advertising signs alone were
enough to occupy the mind of any person seeing them for the first time to
the exclusion of all else, what with the big painted placard at the end,
saying:

  FOR POLAR BEARS GO TO ARCTICS
  FIFTY-SEVEN VARIETIES.
  No Home Complete Without Them.

Another showing a picture of Potted Town, in which all the inhabitants
lived on canned food and things that came in jars, reading:

    This is the famous Potted Town,
    Where everything is done up brown,
    We live on lobsters tinned, and beans,
    And freshly caught and oiled sardines;
    On ham and eggs done up in jars,
    And caramels that come in bars,
    Come buy a lot in Potted Town,
    And join the throngs we do up brown.
    A corner lot for fifty cents--

    A bargain that is just immense.
    An inner lot for forty-nine
    For residence is just divine.
    If in a year you do not find
    That we are suited to your mind
    We'll give you fifteen cents in gold,
    And take back all the lots we've sold,
    If, when in other lands you go
    You'll recommend Soapolio.

"Who on earth wants a Polar Bear at home?" ejaculated Tom as he read the
first.

"I do," growled a deep bass voice at his side, and the little traveler,
turning to see who it was that had spoken, was surprised and really
startled to find himself seated next to a shaggy-coated beast of that
precise kind. "I do," repeated the Polar Bear, "and if anybody says I
don't I'll chew him up," and then he opened his mouth and glared at Tom as
if to warn the young man from pursuing the subject further.

"So would I," put in Righty. "So would I if all the Polar Bears were like
you."

The bear was apparently pleased by the compliment and, with a satisfied
wink at Righty, folded his fore legs over his chest and went to sleep.

"I think I'll buy one of those lots in Potted Town," said a Kangaroo who
sat opposite to Tom.

"You couldn't raise the money," growled a Flamingo who sat at the far end
of the car. "Thirty cents is your measure."

"Let him alone, Flammy," said an Ostrich who was crowded uncomfortably in
between the Kangaroo and an old gentleman with one eye and a green beard
who, Tom learned later, was a leading citizen of Saturn. "He can't help it
if he's poor."

"Thank you, Mr. Ostrich," said the Kangaroo, with a sob. "I was very much
hurt by the Flamingo's remark. I have 19,627 children, and it keeps me
jumping all the time to support them."

[Illustration: "IT KEEPS ME JUMPING ALL THE TIME."]

"I apologize," said the Flamingo. "My observations were most unjust. You
do not look like thirty cents at all, as I perceive at second glance. As I
look at you more closely you look like a $1.39 marked down to seventy-two.
But why don't you get up and give the lady your seat?"

"Is there a lady on the car who wants it?" asked the Kangaroo, standing
up, and peering anxiously about him.

"No, of course not," said the Flamingo, "but what difference does that
make? A true gentleman is polite whether there are ladies present or not."

The Polar Bear opened his eyes and leaning forward glared at the
Flamingo.

"You don't seem to be over-anxious about yourself," he growled. "Why don't
you give up your seat to the imaginary lady?"

"Because, Mr. Bear," the Flamingo returned, "it would not be polite. The
seat I occupy is extremely uncomfortable, thanks to the crowding of the
Hippopotamus on my left and the indulgence in peanuts of the Monkey on my
right. By sitting down where I am, I am making a personal sacrifice."

"There'll be a free fight in a minute," said the Poker, anxiously. "I
think we'd better get out."

"You won't do anything of the sort," said the Conductor. "Nobody leaves
this car until we get there."

"Get where?" demanded the Poker.

"Anywhere," returned the Conductor. "Fares, please."

"But we've all paid," said the Flamingo.

"Somebody hasn't," replied the Conductor. "There are twenty-two on this
car and I've collected only twenty-one fares. I don't know who is the
deadhead. Therefore you must all pay. It is better that there should be
twenty-one lawsuits for a total damage of $1.25 than that this company
should lose a nickel. Juries disagree. Fares, please."

"I decline to pay a second time," cried the Monkey.

"And I--and I," came from all parts of the car; from Lefty and Righty,
from Tom, the Flamingo, the Hippopotamus and Polar Bear.

"Very well," said the Conductor, calmly. "I don't care. It isn't my money
that's lost, but I'll tell you one thing, this car doesn't stop until
you've all paid up!"

"What!" cried the Polar Bear. "I want to get off at the Toboggan slide."

"So do I--so do I," cried everybody.

"No doubt," said the Conductor; "but that's your business, not mine.
Double your speed, Moty," he added, calling forward to the Motorman.
"These people want to get off. Of course, gentlemen and fellow beasts," he
continued, "I can't keep you from getting off, but this car is traveling
at the rate of four miles a minute, and if you try it, you do so at your
own risk. Fares, please."

"It's an outrage!" said the Flamingo.

"I'm going to jump," said the Kangaroo.

"I think we'd better sit still, Tom," whispered Righty. "It would be
smithereens if we tried to get off the car going at this rate."

"Don't mind me," said Tom. "I'm having a bully time. This is quite as good
fun as oscillating, I guess."

"Excuse me, sir," said the Conductor, in reply to the Kangaroo, "but I
must ask your name and address. I cannot prevent you from jumping, but I'm
required by the rules of the company to find out all about you before
letting you commit suicide. We need the information in case your heirs sue
the company. Married?"

"Yes," said the Kangaroo. "Sixteen times."

"Any children?" queried the Conductor.

"I have already said so," sobbed the Kangaroo; "19,627 of them."

"Boys or girls?" asked the Conductor kindly.

"Neither," replied the Kangaroo.

"What?" cried the Conductor.

"Kangaroos, every one of 'em," sobbed the unhappy passenger.

"O, I see," said the Conductor, "What is your business?"

"Jumping," replied the Kangaroo.

"Business address?" demanded the Conductor.

"Number 28 Australia," was the reply.

"Home address?" questioned the Conductor.

"Number 37 Melbourne," said the Kangaroo. "Melbourne is in Australia, you
know," he added.

"Made your will?" put in the Conductor, suddenly.

"What has that got to do with it?" cried the Kangaroo, angrily, but with a
nervous start.

"We cannot permit you to jump unless you've made a will," said the
Conductor, politely. "You see, when you jump you leave the car, and we
don't know whom you leave the car to until we have read your will. You
might leave it to Tom or to Righty, or to the poetic Poker--or to old
Shaggy over there,"--pointing to the Polar Bear. "Inasmuch as it's our car
we have a right to know to whom you leave it."

"I guess I'll stay where I am," said the Kangaroo meekly, very much
overcome by the Conductor's logic.

"That's the answer," returned the Conductor. "You seem to be a very
sensible sort of Kangaroo. Fare, please!" And the Kangaroo, diving down
into his pocket, produced a five-cent piece, which he handed over to the
Conductor without further comment.

"Anybody else think of jumping off?" asked the Conductor pleasantly,
turning about and glancing over the other occupants of the car.

"I might," said the Monkey, placidly.

"O, indeed," said the Conductor, walking along the car to where the Monkey
sat. "You might think of jumping off, eh?"

"Yes," said the Monkey.

"Do you know where you would land?"

"Yes," said the Monkey.

"Where?" demanded the Conductor.

"On my feet," said the Monkey. "Where else?"

The Conductor was apparently much put out.

"You're pretty smart, aren't you?" he said.

"No," said the Monkey. "I'm only plain smart. I'm not pretty."

"Everybody's talking about you? I presume," sneered the Conductor.

"Not yet, but they will be," returned the Monkey, with a grin.

"When?" demanded the Conductor.

"When my tail is published," retorted the Monkey, with a grin.

"Humph!" jeered the Conductor. "Great tail that."

"No," said the Monkey, "not very great, but it has a swing about it--"

"Say," interrupted the Hippopotamus, "I've got an idea. Somebody hasn't
paid his fare, eh?"

"That's the point," said the Conductor.

"And unless he owns up we've all got to go on in this car forever?"

"You have," replied the Conductor, firmly.

"Well, let's be sensible about it," said the Hippopotamus. "We're all
honest--at least I am--and I've paid once, and I admit I'm riding cheap
considering my weight. But who hasn't paid? Tom, did you pay?"

"I paid for our whole party," put in Righty.

"Good," said the Hippopotamus. "Did you pay, Monk?"

"Yes, I did," said the Monkey. "I paid for me and Polar Bear."

"Good," said the Hippopotamus. "Has the Flamingo paid?"

"I gave him a promissory note for my fare," said the Flamingo.

"Good," said the Hippopotamus. "And now for the main question. Conductor,
have you paid your fare?"

"I?" cried the Conductor.

"Yes, you!" roared the Hippopotamus, "Have you paid your fare?"

"But--" the Conductor began.

"I won't but," returned the Hippo. "I'm a Hippopotamus, I am. Not a goat.
Have you paid your fare?"

"Of course I haven't," returned the Conductor, "because--"

"That's it!" returned the Hippopotamus. "That's the whole point. He's the
one that's shy, and because we won't consent to pay his fare out of our
own pockets he's going to hold us up. I move we squash him."

"But I say," roared the Conductor.

"Oh, pay your fare and shut up," growled the Polar Bear, "You began the
row. What's the use?"

"Hear 'em quoting my poem," whispered the Poker to Tom.

"I've taken his number," said the Flamingo. "It's eight billion and seven.
He's trying to beat his way."

"Pay up, pay up," came from all parts of the car, and before he knew it
Tom found himself in the midst of an angry group surrounding the
Conductor, insisting that he should pay his fare.

"Who are you that you should ride free?" demanded the Flamingo. "The idea
of servants of the company having greater privileges than the patrons of
the road!"

[Illustration: "I HAVEN'T THE MONEY."]

"If you don't pay up right away," roared the Polar Bear, "I'll squeeze you
to death."

"And I'll sit on you," put in the Hippopotamus.

"I haven't the money," cried the Conductor, now thoroughly frightened.

"Borrow it from the company," said the Polar Bear, "and ring it up."

This the Conductor did, and a moment later, having reached the station,
rang the bell, and the car stopped.

"All out!" he cried, and the whole party descended.

"Who paid his fare, anyhow?" asked the Flamingo.

"I didn't," said the Monkey.

"No more did I," said the Hippopotamus. "The Kangaroo did, though. Didn't
you, Kangy?"

"Only once," said the Kangaroo, "and that was the second time."

"Let's get away from this crowd," said the Bellows. "They're not honest."

"Right you are," said the Polar Bear. "They're a very bad lot. Come along;
let's get aboard this toboggan, and leave 'em behind."

Whereupon Tom and his companions, accompanied by the Polar Bear, stepped
aboard the waiting Oscycle, and were soon speeding down the upper incline
of the Crescent Moon.



CHAPTER IX.

On the Oscycle--A Narrow Escape.


"Well," said the Polar Bear, as the Oscycle started on its downward
course: "I'm mighty glad we're off, and away from those other creatures on
that Trolley. They were a dishonest lot."

"So am I," came a voice from behind him, that made the Bear jump
nervously, for it was none other than the Flamingo.

"So are the rest of us," added a lot of voices in chorus, and Tom, turning
to see who beside himself and his companions had got aboard, was hugely
amused to see the Kangaroo, the Monkey, the Hippopotamus and all the other
creatures from the Trolley, save only the conductor and motorman, seated
there behind, as happy as you please.

"It doesn't pay to associate with conductors," said the Flamingo. "They
don't think of anything but money all the time, and they're awfully rude
about it sometimes. Why, I knew a conductor once who refused to change a
$100 bill for me."

"I don't believe you ever had a $100 bill," growled the Hippopotamus.

"I've got one I wouldn't sell for $1,000," said the Flamingo. "It's the
one I eat with," he added.

"That's not legal tender," said the Polar Bear.

"You couldn't change it if it was," sneered the Flamingo.

[Illustration: On the Oscycle.]

"I could change it in a minute if I wanted to," said the Polar Bear, with
a chuckle.

"What with, cash?" demanded the Flamingo, scornfully.

"No--with one whack of my paw," said the Bear, shaking his fist menacingly
at the Flamingo. "I could change your whole face, for that matter," he
added, with a frown.

"I was only fooling, Poley, old man," said the Flamingo, a trifle worried.
"Of course you could, but you wouldn't, would you?"

"Not unless I had to," replied the Bear, "but, gee, aren't we just
whizzing along! Are you cold, Tom?"

"Yes," said Tom, with a shiver, "just a little."

"Well, come sit next to me and I'll let you use my furs. I don't need 'em
myself. I'm a pretty warm Bear, considering where I come from."

"Sit close, gentlemen," cried the man in charge of the Oscycle. "We're
coming to a thank-you-marm. Look out! Look out! Hang together. By jove,
there goes the Monkey."

And sure enough, off the Monkey flew as the Oscycle crossed the hump at an
enormous rate of speed.

"Hi, there, you fellows," the Monkey shrieked, as he landed in the soft
snow, "wait a minute. Hi, you! Stop! Wait for me!"

"Can't do it," roared the man in charge. "Can't stop--going too fast."

"But what am I going to doo-oo-oo?" shrieked the Monkey excitedly.

"Get inside of a snowball and roll down. We'll catch you on the way back,"
the Kangaroo yelled, and as they now passed out of hearing of the
monkey's voice no one knew how the little creature took the suggestion.

"I'm glad he's gone," said the Hippopotamus. "He was a nuisance--and I
tell you I had a narrow escape. He had his tail wound around my neck a
minute before. He might have yanked me off with him."

"Yanked you?" said the Old Gentleman from Saturn, gazing contemptuously at
the Hippopotamus. "Bosh! The idea of a seven-pound monkey yanking a
three-ton Hippopotamus!"

"What?" roared the man in charge. "A what how much which?"

"Three-ton," said the Old Gentleman from Saturn. "That's what he weighs. I
know because he stepped on my toe getting off the Trolley."

"But it's against the law!" cried the Man in Charge. "We're not allowed to
carry more than 1,000 pounds on these Machines."

"Humph!" laughed the Kangaroo. "It's very evident, Hippy, that you'll have
to go way back and lose some weight."

"I can't help weighing three tons," said the Hippopotamus. "I'm built that
way."

"That's all right," said the Man in Charge, wringing his hands in despair;
"but you'll have to get off. If you don't we'll go over the edge." His
voice rose to a shriek.

Tom's heart sank and he half rose up.

"Sit still," said the two Andirons, grabbing him by the arms. "We're in
for it. We've got to take what comes."

"Right you are," said the Bellows. "Don't you bother, Tom. We'll come out
all right in the end."

[Illustration: "MY OWN PRIVATE ICEBERG."]

"But what's the trouble, Mr. Man?" asked the Poker. "What's the Hippo's
weight got to do with our going over the edge?"

"Why, can't you see?" explained the Man in Charge. "His 6,000 pounds
pushing the machine along from behind there gives us just so much extra
speed, and all the brakes in the world won't stop us now we've got going
unless he gets off."

The announcement caused an immediate panic, and the Polar Bear began to
cry like a baby.

"Oh, why did I ever come?" he moaned as the tears trickled down his nose
and froze into a great icicle at the end of it. "When I might have stayed
home riding around on my own private iceberg?"

"Stop your whimpering," said the Kangaroo. "Brace up and be a man."

"I don't want to be a man," blubbered the bear, "I'm satisfied to be a
poor, miserable little Polar Bear."

"You've got to jump, Hippy," said the Flamingo. "That's all there is about
it."

"Sir," replied the Hippopotamus solemnly, "I shall not jump. It would ill
comport with my dignity for me to try to jump as if I were merely a
Kangaroo. No sir. Here I sit, firm as a rock. You might as well ask an
elephant to dance a jig."

"We'll put you off if you don't get off of your own accord," roared the
Polar Bear, bracing up, and removing the icicle from his nose he shook it
angrily at the Hippopotamus.

"All right," said the Hippopotamus with a pleasant smile "All right. Has
any gentleman brought a derrick along with him to assist in the operation?
You don't happen to have a freight elevator in your pocket, do you, Mr.
Kangaroo?"

"Pry him off, Poker," cried the Kangaroo.

"I would if I could," answered the Poker, mournfully. "But I'm not a
crowbar."

"Well, then, all together here," shouted the Man from Saturn. "Line up and
we'll shove him off."

There was a frantic rush at the stolid Hippopotamus in response to this
suggestion, but they might as well have tried to batter down the rock of
Gibraltar by hurling feathers against it, so firmly fixed in his seat was
this passenger of outrageous weight.

"Come again, gentlemen," said the Hippopotamus suavely. "There's nothing
better for the complexion than a good rub, and I assure you you have
placed me under an obligation to you."

"Prod him with the icicle," said the Kangaroo to the Polar Bear.

"I am not to be moved by tears, even if they are frozen and sharpened to a
point," laughed the Hippopotamus, as the Polar Bear did as he was told,
smashing the icicle without so much as denting the Hippo's flesh.

"Well, if you won't jump, I will," said the Man from Saturn angrily. "If
I'm hurt I'll take it out of your hide when we meet again."

"All right," retorted the Hippopotamus. "You'll have to get a steam drill
and blast it out. By-by."

The man from Saturn jumped and landed head first in the snow, but whether
he was hurt or not the party never knew, for their speed was now so
terrific that he had barely landed before they whizzed past the bottom of
the hill and up the other incline. It became clear, too, as they sped on
that at such a fearful rate of progress nothing could now keep the Oscycle
from going over the edge, and the others began to lay plans for safety.

[Illustration: THE MAN FROM SATURN JUMPED.]

"I'm going to jump for a passing trolley cloud the minute we get to the
edge," said the Kangaroo.

"I don't know what I shall do," sobbed the Polar Bear. "If I land on my
feet I'll be all right, for they're big and soft, like sofa cushions, but
if I land on my head--"

"That's softer yet, Poley," laughed the Flamingo, who appeared to be less
concerned than anybody. "If you land on your head it will be just as if
you fell into a great bowl of oatmeal, so you're all right."

"I'm not afraid for myself," said the Poker. "I can drop any distance
without serious injury, being made of iron, and my friends, the Andirons,
are equally fortunate. The Bellows, too, is comparatively safe. The worst
that can happen to him is to have the wind knocked out of him. But--"

"It's Tom we're bothered about," said the Righthandiron, with an anxious
glance at Lefty. "You see, we invited him to come off here with us, and--"

"Who is he, anyhow?" demanded the Flamingo, glancing at Tom in such a way
that the youngster began to feel very uncomfortable.

"I'm a Dormouse," said Tom, remembering the agreement.

"Not for this occasion," put in the Poker. "This time you're a boy, and
we've got to save you somehow or other and we'll do it, Tom, so don't be
afraid."

"What kind of boy is he?" demanded the Flamingo. "One of these
bean-snapping boys that go around shooting robins and hooking birds' eggs
when they haven't anything else to do?"

"Not a bit of it," said Righty. "He never snapped a bean at a bird in all
his life."

"Humph!" said the Flamingo. "I suppose he's been too busy pulling feathers
out of peacocks' tails to decorate his room with to be bothering with
robins and eggs."

"Never did such a thing in all my born days," retorted Tom indignantly.

"Probably not," sneered the Flamingo. "And why? Because you were so well
satisfied keeping a canary locked up in a cage for your own pleasure that
you hadn't any time to chase peacocks."

"I've lived in the family forty years," said the Righthandiron, "and to my
knowledge there was never a caged bird in the house."

"Really?" said the Flamingo, looking at Tom with interest. "Rather a new
kind of boy this. Very few boys have a good record where birds are
concerned."

"Tom's no enemy to birds," observed the Bellows. "I know that because I've
been in his family longer than he has, and I've watched him."

"Well," said the Flamingo, "if that's the case, maybe I can help him. One
good turn deserves another. If he is good to birds I may be able at this
time to do good to him. This trouble ahead of us doesn't bother me,
because I have wings and can fly--" Here the Flamingo flapped his wings
proudly--"and I could take Tom on my back and fly anywhere with him, for I
am an extremely powerful bird. But I want to know one more thing about him
before I undertake to save him. We birds must stand together, you know,
and I'm not going to befriend a foe to my kind under any circumstances.
Thomas!"

[Illustration: In a moment he was sitting astride the great bird's neck.]

"Yes, sir," replied Tom, all of a tremble, for he hadn't the slightest
idea what was coming, and as a truthful boy he knew that whatever the
consequences to himself might be he must give the correct answer.

"Do you have Sunday breakfast at home?" asked the Flamingo.

"Yes, sir," Tom replied respectfully.

"You have coffee and hominy and toast and fried potatoes and all that?"
queried the bird.

"Yes, sir," Tom answered, turning very pale, however, for he was in great
dread of what he now saw was likely to come next.

"And--ah--fruit?" said the Flamingo.

"Oh, yes, plenty of fruit," replied Tom very nervously.

"And now, sir," said the Flamingo, severely, and ruffling his feathers
like an angry turkey, "now for the main point. Thomas--and, mind you I
want a truthful answer. Did you ever eat a broiled--Flamingo for your
Sunday morning breakfast?"

Tom breathed a sigh of relief as the Flamingo blurted out the last part of
his question.

"No, sir. Never!" he replied.

"Then hurry and climb up on my shoulders here," the Flamingo cried.
"You're a boy after my own heart. I believe you'd be kind to a stuffed
parrot. But hurry--there's the edge right ahead of us. Jump--"

Tom jumped and in a moment was sitting astride of the great bird's neck.
In his right hand he grasped the claw of Righty, in his left that of
Lefty, while these two clutched tightly hold of the Bellows and the Poker
respectively. A moment later the Oscycle reached the edge and dashed
wildly over it, the Kangaroo following out his plan of jumping higher
still and fortunately for himself catching a passing trolley cloud by
which he was borne back to the starting point again.

As for the Polar Bear and the Hippopotamus, they plunged out into space,
while the group comprising our little party from home and the Flamingo
soared gracefully back to earth again, where the generous-hearted bird
deposited them safely on top of the most convenient Alp.

"Thanks very much," said Tom, as he clambered down from the bird's neck
and stood upon solid ground again.

"Don't mention it," said the Flamingo. "It's a pleasure to serve a
bird-defender and his friends," and with this he soared away.

"I'm glad he didn't ask me if I ever ate broiled chicken for Sunday
breakfast," said Tom.

"Why?" asked the Poker. "Do you?"

"Do I?" cried Tom. "Well, I guess. I don't do anything else."



CHAPTER X.

Home Again


"And now," said the Lefthandiron as the Flamingo flew off and left them to
themselves, "it strikes me that it is time we set about having some
supper. I'm getting hungry, what with the excitement of that ride, and the
fact I haven't eaten anything but a bowlful of kindling wood since
yesterday morning."

"I'm with you there," said Tom. "I've been hungry ever since we started
and that snow on the moon whetted my appetite."

"Never knew a boy who wasn't hungry on all occasions," puffed the Bellows.
"Fact is, a boy wouldn't be a real boy unless he was hungry. Did you ever
know a boy that would confess he'd had enough to eat, Pokey?"

"Once," said Poker, "I wrote a poem about him, but I never could get it
published. Want to hear it?"

"Very much," said Tom.

"Well, here goes," said the Poker anxiously, and he recited the following
lines:

    THE WONDROUS STRIKE OF SAMMY DIKE.

    Young Sammy Dike was a likely boy
    Who lived somewhere in Illinois,
    His father was a blacksmith, and
    His Ma made pies for all the land.
    The pies were all so very fine
    That folks who sought them stood in line
    Before the shop of Dike & Co.,
    'Mid passing rain, in drifting snow,
    For fear they'd lose the tasty prize
    Of "Dike's new patent home-made pies."
    One day, alas, poor Mrs. Dike,
    Who with her pies had made the strike,
    By overwork fell very ill,
    And all her orders could not fill.
    So ill was she she could not bake
    One-half the pastry folks would take;
    And so her loving husband said
    He'd take her place and cook, instead
    Of making horse-shoes. Kindly Joe,
    To help his wife in time of woe!
    He worked by night, he worked by day--
    Yet worked, alas, in his own way
    And made such pies, I've understood,
    As but a simple blacksmith could.
    He made them hard as iron bars;
    He made them tough as trolley cars.
    He seemed to think a pie's estate
    Was to be used as armor plate.
    And not a pie would he let go
    That had not stood the sledge's blow
    Upon the anvil in his sanctum,
    Whence naught went out until he'd spanked 'em.
    Result? With many alas and 'lack
    The pies Joe made they all came back.
    From folks who claimed they could not go
    The latest pies of Dike & Co.
    And here it was that Sammy came
    To help his parents in the game.
    "Can't eat 'em?" cried indignant Joe.
    "Can't eat 'em? Well, I want to know!
    Here, Sammy, show these people here
    How most unjust their plaint, my dear.
    Come, lad, and eat the luscious pies
    That I have made and they despise."
    Poor loyal Sammy then began
    Upon those stodgy pies--the plan
    Was very pleasing in his eyes,
    For Sammy loved his mother's pies.
    He nibbled one, he bit another,
    And then began to think of mother.
    He chewed and gnawed, he munched and bit,
    But no--he could not swallow it;
    And then, poor child, it was so tough
    He had to say he'd had enough,
    Though never in the world before
    Was lad who had not wanted more.
    And what became of Sammy's Ma?
    And what became of Sammy's Pa?
    Their profits gone, how could they eke
    A living good from week to week?
    They took the recipe for pies
    That mother made and--Oh, so wise--
    Let Father make them in his way
    In form elliptical, they say.
    And when the football season came
    Won fortune great, and wondrous fame,
    Beyond the wildest hope of dreams,
    By selling these to football teams.
    And those by whom this game is played
    Called them the finest ever made.
    "The Shuregood football" made of mince,
    Has never quite been equaled since;
    And few who kick them with their feet,
    Know they're the pies Sam couldn't eat--
    The only pies upon this orb
    A healthy boy could not absorb.

[Illustration: "UPON THE ANVIL IN HIS SANCTUM."]

"Great poem that, eh?" said the Bellows, poking Tom in the ribs, and
grinning broadly.

"Splendid," said Tom. "New use for pies, that."

"It's beautifully long," said Lefty.

"But why couldn't it be published?" asked Righty. "Wasn't it long enough?"

"The editor said it wasn't true," sighed the Poker. "He had three boys of
his own, you know, and he said there never was a boy who couldn't eat a
pie even if it was made of crowbars and rubber, as long as it was pie."

"I guess he was right," observed Righty. "I knew a boy once who ate soft
coal just because somebody told him it was rock-candy."

"Did he like it?" asked Tom.

"I don't think he did," replied Righty, "but he never let on that he
didn't."

"Well, anyhow," put in Lefty, "it's time we had something to eat and we'd
better set out for the Lobster shop or the Candydike--I don't care which."

"Or the what?" asked Tom.

"The Candydike?" said the Lefthandiron. "Didn't you ever hear of the
Candydike?"

"Never," responded Tom. "What is it?"

"It's a candy Klondike," explained the Lefthandiron. "There are Gumdrop
Mines and Marshmallow Lodes and Deposits of Chocolate Creams beyond the
dreams of avarice. Remember 'em, Righty?"

"Oom, mh, mh!" murmured Righty, smacking his lips with joy. "Do I remember
them! O, my! Don't I just. Why, I never wanted to come back from there. I
had to be pulled out of the Peppermint mine with a derrick. And the
river--O, the river. Was there anything ever like it?"

Tom's mouth began to water, he knew not why.

"What about the river?" he asked.

"Soda water flowing from Mountain to the Sea," returned the Righthandiron,
smacking his lips again ecstatically. "Just imagine it, Tom. A great
stream of Soda Water fed by little rivulets of Vanilla and Strawberry and
Chocolate syrup, with here and there a Cream brook feeding the
combination, until all you had to do to get a glass of the finest nectar
ever mixed was to dip your cup into the river and there you were."

Tom closed his eyes with very joy at the mere idea.

"O--where is this river?" he cried, when he was able to find words to
speak.

"In the Candydike, of course. Where else?" said the Poker. "But of course
we can go to the Lobster shop if you prefer."

"Not I," said Tom. "I don't care for any Lobster shop with a Candydike in
sight."

"Don't be rash," said the Bellows, who apparently had a strong liking for
the Lobster shop. "Of course we all love the Candydike because it is so
sweet, but for real pleasure the Lobster shop is not to be despised. I
don't think you ought to make up your mind as to where you'll go next in
too much of a hurry."

"What's the fun in the Lobster shop?" asked Tom.

"Purely intellectual, if you know what that means," said the Bellows. "You
get your mind filled there instead of your stomach. You meet the wittiest
oysters, and the most poetic clams, and the most literary lobsters at the
Lobster shop you ever saw. For my part I love the Lobster shop. I can get
something to eat anywhere. I can get a stake at any lumber yard in town. I
can get a chop at any ax factory in the country, and if I want sweets I
can find a Cakery--"

"Bakery, you mean?" said Tom.

"No, I don't at all," said the Bellows. "I mean Cakery. A Cakery is a
place where they sell cake, and when I say Cakery I mean what I say. Just
because you call it Bakery doesn't prove anything."

"We're out for pleasure, not for argument," growled the Lefthandiron. "Go
on and say what you've got to say."

"Well," said the Bellows, "what I was trying to say, when interrupted, was
that you can get your stomach filled almost anywhere, but your mind--that
is different. I'm hungrier in my mind than in my stomach, and I'd rather
be fed just now on the jests of an oyster, the good stories of a clam and
the anecdotes of a Lobster, than have the freedom of the richest
marshmallow mine in creation."

"Well, I'm sure I don't know what to do," said Tom, very much perplexed.
The Candydike was glorious, but the Lobster shop, too, had its
attractions, for Tom was fond of witty jokes and good anecdotes. The idea
of having them from the lips of lobsters and oysters was very appealing.

"I say," he said in a minute, "why isn't the Lobster shop the best place
for us to go after all, if we are really hungry? We could sit down at the
table, you know, and listen to the Lobster's anecdotes, and then eat him
afterward. In that way we could hear the stories and fill up beside."

"Well--I de-clare!" cried the Bellows. "What an idea! You most ungrateful
boy!"

"Not at all," said the Poker. "Not at all. It's merely the habit of his
kind. Many's the time when I've heard of men and women devouring their
favorite authors. Tom couldn't better show his liking for the lobster than
by eating him. On the other hand, if he goes there and turns his back on
the Candydike he'll miss the most wonderful sight in all creation, and
that is the Nesselrode Cataract on the Soda Water river. It is located at
the point where the Vanilla glacier comes down from the Cream mountains on
the one side, and the famous Marrons orchards line the other bank for a
distance of seven miles. It's a perfectly gorgeous sight."

"Mercy me!" cried Tom. "Indeed, I should like to see that."

[Illustration: DEVOURING HIS FAVORITE AUTHOR.]

"No doubt," put in the Bellows. "Nevertheless, you can see Nesselrode
pudding at home at any time, but did you ever see there a Turtle that can
recite a fairy story of his own composition or a Crab capable of
narrating the most thrilling story of the American revolutionary war that
anybody ever dreamed of?"

"O dear, O dear, O dear!" said Tom. "What shall I do?"

As he spoke, from far down in the valley there seemed to come a crash and
a roar, following close upon which the barking of a dog made itself heard.

"The ice is slipping," cried the Poker, as the mountain trembled beneath
them. "There's going to be an avalanche, and we're on it!"

The whole top of the mountain shook as if it had been in an earthquake,
and then it began to crash rapidly downward.

"Dear me! How annoying," observed the Bellows. "As if we haven't had
enough coasting this trip without taking a turn on an avalanche."

"But what shall we do?" roared the Andirons excitedly. "I never foresaw
this."

"Slide, I guess," said the Poker calmly. "It's all we can do."

The barking of the dog approached closer.

"Good!" cried Righty, clapping his claws together gleefully, as an idea
flashed across his mind. "It's one of those famous St. Bernards; he'll
take care of Tom, and as for us--"

The thunderous roar of the descending avalanche drowned the sounds of
Righty's voice, and all that could now serve as a means of conveying their
thoughts to each other was the making of wild motions with the hands. The
Poker stood erect and stiff, looking grimly ahead of him, as if resolved
to meet his fate bravely; the Bellows threw himself flat upon the glacier
and panted; while the two Andirons, standing guard on either side of Tom,
peered anxiously about for the rescuer of their little guest, nor did
they look in vain, for in a few moments the huge figure of a St Bernard
appeared below them, rushing with all his might and main to their side.
For some reason or other, the St Bernard seemed to have something familiar
about him, but Tom couldn't quite say what it was.

"Bow-wow-wow!" the dog barked gleefully, for this was just the sort of
work he most enjoyed.

Strangely enough, Tom seemed to understand dog language for the first time
in his life, for the bark said to him as plainly as you please: "Climb on
my back sonny, and I'll have you out of this in a jiffy."

The lad lost not a moment in obeying. Aided by the affectionate boosts of
the Andirons he soon found himself lying face downward upon the broad,
shaggy back of the faithful beast.

He closed his eyes to shut out the blinding snow for a moment, and then--

       *       *       *       *       *

Tom sat up and rubbed them, for there was no snow, no avalanche, no Alp,
no St. Bernard dog in sight. Only a friendly pair of andirons staring
fixedly at him out of the fireplace of his father's library: the poker
standing like a grenadier at one side, and the bellows, hanging from a
brass-headed nail on the other. Beside these, lying on the rug beside him,
his head cocked to one side, his eyes fixed intently upon Tom's face, and
his tail wagging furiously, was Jeffy, not a St Bernard, but a shaggy
little Scotch terrier.

"Hello, Jeffy!" said Tom, as he rubbed his eyes a second time. "Where have
you been all this time?"

[Illustration: "Was it you who rescued me from the avalanche?"]

"Woof!" barked Jeff, and cocking his eye knowingly.

"And was it you who rescued me from the avalanche?" Tom asked.

"Woof!" replied Jeff, as much as to say he wouldn't tell.

"Well, it was mighty good of you, if you did, Jeffy," Tom said,
gratefully. "Only I wish you could have taken me to the Candydike or the
Lobster shop instead of straight home--because I'm not only hungry Jeffy,
but I should very much have liked to visit those wonderful places."

"Woof!" said Jeffy.

Which Tom took to be a promise that his rescuer would do better next time.

The little party has not been off again since, but the other night some
pieces of newspaper were thrown into the fire place and all but one of
them were burned. Righty held this one under his claw and Tom, while
trying to get a word out of his friend, caught sight of it.

"Hello," said Tom, as he read what was printed on the clipping. "The
astronomers at the Lick observatory have discovered a new constellation in
the southeast heavens. It is of huge dimensions and resembles in its
outlines the figure of a rhinoceros or some such pachydermatous creature."

"Well, I never!" he cried, as he read. "I say, Righty, do you believe
that's the old Hippopotamus?"

And Righty said never a word, but the look in his eye indicated that he
thought there was something in the notion.

[Illustration]

The End





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