Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The City Curious
Author: Bosschère, Jean de, 1878-1953
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 "The City Curious" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



page images generously made available by Internet Archive/American
Libraries (http://www.archive.org/details/americana)



      many of which are in color.
      Images of the original pages are available through
      Internet Archive/American Libraries. See
      http://www.archive.org/details/citycurious00boscrich



THE CITY CURIOUS


[Illustration: FRITILLA AND THE RED FLYING-FISH

_Frontispiece_]


THE CITY CURIOUS

by

JEAN de BOSSCHÈRE

[Illustration]

Illustrated by the Author and Retold in English by F. Tennyson Jesse

[Illustration]



New York: Dodd, Mead and Company
London: William Heinemann
1920

Printed in Great Britain



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

CHAPTER I

Smaly and his wife Redy set forth in search of three little girls:
They are bewitched so that their noses turn into beaks: Smaly
eats the latch of a door and Redy eats the hinge: Redy's fingers
weep tears: They meet with a Confectioner who resembles a
Kangaroo                                                               1


CHAPTER II

Smaly installs himself upon one of the Kangaroo's paws: The
two little people see some of the inhabitants of this peculiar
country: They meet some sugar horses, and they see also a fish
which flies and some sponges which walk: The Wigs imagine
that Smaly is made of suet: The ebony and crystal spectacles:
The Mother of the Crow                                                15


CHAPTER III

The Short-Legged Man with the musical voice: Smaly and
Redy again declare they are travelling to find three little girls:
Papylick puts Smaly and Redy in two boats made out of nutshells       34


CHAPTER IV

Smaly and Redy are not well received: They are thought to be
made of painted cardboard: How the Despoiler fell into the
water and left a foot behind him: Mistigris sticks a fish-bone
into the back of the Despoiler: Judgment is passed on the two
strangers: They will be banished at nightfall: The walls of
the three gardens are discussed                                       38


CHAPTER V

Redy and Smaly watch the review of the troops: Smaly and the
Mother of the Crow discourse about soldiers: The Chief Contractor
distributes the food, and the Wigs pass through a curious
little door: The Soy powder makes the provisions grow                 59


CHAPTER VI

The Sugar-Cane Prison arrives: The Rats water it with Soy
fluid to keep the canes growing as fast as the Prisoner breaks
them down: The time for siesta draws on, and Smaly and Redy
go into the house of the Historian                                    73


CHAPTER VII

The Flying-Fish announces the hour of three, and the World
falls asleep: The Hen makes six hard-boiled eggs: Smaly and
Redy begin to read the manuscript of the Historian                    82


CHAPTER VIII


Redy and Smaly read of the childhood of the Prisoner                  95


CHAPTER IX

The elder Flying-Fish loses one eye, and the Hen finds it:
The Historian wakes up, and Smaly and Redy run out of the
house: The Healer mends the paw of the Confectioner                  100


CHAPTER X

The Wigs all imagine they suffer from headache: The Rats come
to the Healer to be cured of the ravages of hot Soy: The Chief
Contractor has to make himself ill eating the musical instruments    111


CHAPTER XI

The young girls dance for the Rats, then play a curious game
of tennis: They fail to understand Smaly's point of view             122


CHAPTER XII

The Mother of the Crow tells of the life and death of Djorak
in his own country                                                   127


CHAPTER XIII

Smaly and Redy are taken to see the Fleet: The Prisoner arrives
and the Wigs fly in terror: Smaly and Redy at last have speech
with the Prisoner                                                    146


CHAPTER XIV

The three daughters of the Prisoner are installed in their gardens   161


CHAPTER XV

Smaly and Redy effect the rescue of the three young girls:
Djorak joins them and they all partake of a delightful picnic:
Smaly blows the Soy powder over the country of the Wigs:
Then the six friends go home                                         170



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


IN COLOUR

                                                           _Facing page_

FRITILLA AND THE RED FLYING-FISH                          _Frontispiece_

THE CITY CURIOUS                                                      16

THEY WERE KNOWN AS THE "WIGS" BECAUSE OF THEIR LARGE PERUKES          24

THESE CREATURES DID NOT RESEMBLE ANYTHING THAT REDY AND
    SMALY HAD SEEN UP TO THEN                                         32

LAPTITZA AND PAPYLICK                                                 64

SOME OF THE DANCES WERE VERY COMPLICATED                              96

KISIKA IN HER SEDAN-CHAIR                                            128

THE PICNIC WHICH FOLLOWED WAS AN UNFORGETTABLE REPAST                160


IN BLACK AND WHITE

                                                                    PAGE
REDY                                                                   2

SMALY                                                                  3

IN THIS LAND ALL THE BIRDS WORE HATS AND SPURS                         4

REDY'S HANDS WERE CRYING WITH FRIGHT                                   6

BUT HE FOUND HE, TOO, HAD A BEAK                                       7

THEY SANG AND DANCED                                                   8

NEITHER THE LATCH NOR THE HINGE BORE ANY TRACE OF HAVING BEEN BITTEN  10

LOOKING FOR THE KEY                                                   11

KANGAROO-CONFECTIONER                                                 13

TO CARRY THE LAST CURL AS THOUGH IT WERE THE END OF A TRAIN           16

THEY MADE ONE WANT TO DANCE                                           17

WITH THE SPOON WHICH EVERY WIG CARRIES HUNG FROM HIS BELT             19

THESE HORSES, HOWEVER, WERE MADE OF SUGAR                             20

THE SPONGES                                                           21

TO RETURN TO A MERE SHAPELESS THING ONCE AGAIN                        23

A TRAVELLER TOLD US                                                   24

NEVERTHELESS SMALY AND REDY STARTED TO HELP HIM                       26

THE GRUB WAS REALLY THE DOORKEEPER                                    27

"WE WISH TO HAVE THREE GIRLS"                                         28

THE CROW LIFTED HIM UP                                                29

THE CROW                                                              30

THE MOTHER OF THE CROW                                                31

"SHE SEES ONLY ONE SIDE OF MEN, BIRDS, AND THINGS"                    32

THE SHORT-LEGGED MAN                                                  35

PAPYLICK                                                              36

OPENING THE NUTS AND DISPLAYING THE TWO LITTLE PEOPLE                 39

LEADING BY THE HAND THE CHOCOLATE GRUB                                40

THE BIRDS WITH THEIR LEGS ENCASED IN CUTLET FRILLS                    41

THE EGGS RUNNING ALONG                                                42

THEY WERE GENTLE AND PRETTY PIGS                                      43

A MOST SPLENDID FEAST                                                 44

THE DESPOILER                                                         45

WHICH IS IN THIS COUNTRY A GREAT SIGN OF MIRTH                        46

HE FLED HASTILY                                                       47

MISTIGRIS                                                             48

THE YOUNG STORK                                                       49

EVERY ONE UTTERED CRIES OF INDIGNATION                                50

"YOU CAN ROLL THE CORD"                                               51

THE CHIEF CONTRACTOR REPLIED                                          53

CHILDREN WERE BUILT OF MUCH FEWER SLICES OF CAKE THAN THE GROWN-UPS   54

THESE CREATURES WILL EAT THE TOP OFF THE WALLS                        55

ANGER                                                                 56

IT SEEMED TO THEM THAT MEN GREW UPWARDS AND NOT TOWARDS THE GROUND    57

SOME VERY ELEGANT MICE                                                58

ONE HALF EXPRESSED SEVERE AUTHORITY, THE OTHER WAS ALL GENTLENESS     60

HE DECIDED THAT THEY MUST HAVE A SIMILAR REVIEW EVERY WEEK            62

THEY HAD ALL PUT ON THICK GLOVES                                      63

WIGS, WHO WERE PUTTING THE SOLDIERS BACK IN THEIR BOXES               64

PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF PASENIPUS                                65

TO CONDUCT HER BACK TO HER HOUSE, WHICH WAS IN A COSY NOOK
IN A GREAT TREE OF CORAL                                              67

THE CONFECTIONER                                                      69

"NEVERTHELESS IT'S SO NARROW THAT ONLY ONE PERSON CAN GO
THROUGH AT A TIME"                                                    70

THE SONG WENT ON                                                      71

RUNNING HARD WITH THEIR LITTLE SHORT LEGS                             73

SOY MILL                                                              74

SOY RESERVOIR                                                         75

CARRYING AWAY EVERY OBJECT THAT THEY COULD LIFT                       77

THE PRISONER                                                          79

THE PRISONER NEVER CEASED TO BREAK THE SUGAR-CANES                    80

THE PET FLYING-FISH, WHICH EVERY WIG FAMILY POSSESSES AND CHERISHES   83

THE AMOUNT OF CAKE AND PUDDING EATEN ANNUALLY IN THE COUNTRY          84

THE ELDER OF THE FISHES                                               85

THE HEN                                                               86

THIS CARE WHICH THE CONFECTIONER TOOK OF FRITILLA WAS BY
    NO MEANS UNNECESSARY                                              88

THE SMALLER FLYING-FISH                                               89

DROPPED THEM THROUGH A HOLE IN HIS BEAK                               90

WAS SITTING WITH ONE ANKLE ACROSS THE KNEE OF HIS OTHER LEG           91

THE DESPOILER, WHO WAS ALWAYS AFRAID THAT SOME ONE WOULD
    FIND OUT THAT HE WAS ONLY MADE OF CARDBOARD, NEVER
    SLEPT IN PUBLIC                                                   93

"INSTEAD OF CUTTING HIS TOE-NAILS AS WE DO WITH THE HELP OF
    A LONG-HANDLED PAIR OF SCISSORS AND A TELESCOPE"                  96

THE KING                                                              97

THE KING'S DAUGHTER                                                   98

THE HEALER                                                           103

BORN WITH THE IDEA OF ONE DAY BEING A VERY BIG MAN                   104

BETWEEN THEM WAS FASTENED A COMFORTABLE ARM-CHAIR                    106

THERE WERE NEWSBOYS SELLING ACCOUNTS OF THE LATEST DISASTER
    TO THE WIGS                                                      108

THE HEALER HAD FINISHED HIS MENDING                                  109

MATHEMATICIAN                                                        111

MIGRAINE                                                             112

WRAPPED THEIR HANDKERCHIEFS ROUND THEIR HEADS                        112

"I, TOO, HOPE SO," SAID HIS WIFE, WHO HAD JUST COME IN               113

NEARLY ALL HAD ONE LEG WHICH WAS MUCH LONGER THAN THE
    OTHER, OR A VERY LONG ARM                                        115

HIS ELONGATED TAIL WAS TIED TO THE QUEUE OF HIS WIG                  116

"BUT ONLY LOOK AT OUR ARMS AND LEGS"                                 117

EVEN MORE THAN THEY FEARED THE FLIES                                 118

REWARDS                                                              119

THE DWARF HAD PULLED ON A PAIR OF BOOTS                              120

THE ACCORDION-PLAYERS BEGAN                                          123

TENNIS                                                               124

THE BALL HUNG UP THUS                                                125

TEA-COSY                                                             128

"WE'RE WAITING FOR THE SUN TO GO DOWN"                               129

SERVANTS OUT SHOPPING FOLLOWED IT WITH THEIR LADEN BASKETS
ON THEIR ARMS                                                        131

HE THRUST HIS FACE INTO ROSES COVERED WITH DEW                       132

THE EXECUTIONER BANDAGED HIS EYES                                    133

NEXT HE TOOK SOME OLD CARDBOARD BOXES                                135

OPENED THEM AND SHUT THEM AGAIN                                      136

HIS YOUNG SON WAS THERE                                              137

THE BRINDLED RABBIT                                                  138

HIS LITTLE PAW SHOVED A FOLDED SLIP OF PAPER THROUGH THE
OPENING                                                              139

THEN THEY SANG A COMIC DUET                                          140

THEN THEY QUESTIONED A BLACK TOAD                                    141

AND FISH IN THE LITTLE RIVER IN THE AFTERNOON                        142

THE THIN LONG ARM OF THE HISTORIAN                                   143

EXTRACTING FISH-BONES FROM THE BACK OF THE DESPOILER                 147

THEY BORE A LARGE COPPER CAULDRON                                    148

THE ADMIRAL WAS A TRITON                                             149

THE WHITE DOLPHIN WITH PINK EYES                                     150

AN EXTREMELY CURIOUS FISH                                            151

"A BAND OF OUR RATS WILL EACH MORNING COPIOUSLY WATER OUR
FLEET"                                                               153

WIGS WERE BUSY WRITING THEIR NAMES                                   154

A RED FLAG                                                           155

"I HAVE DESTROYED A HUNDRED TIMES PASSING OVER IT IN MY
PRISON"                                                              157

"I WAS CAUGHT STEPPING RIGHT OVER THEIR SILLY OLD DRY CANAL
WITH ONE STRIDE"                                                     158

THE MANUFACTURER OF CARDBOARD BOXES                                  159

A SENTINEL WHO LOOKED LIKE A DRAGON-FLY                              163

THE GARDENS WERE ARRANGED AFTER THE SAME PRINCIPLE AS THE
    WINDOWS IN THE HOUSE OF THE HISTORIAN                            164

A LITTLE RED FEATHER, WHICH SHE HAD PICKED UP IN THE MARKET-PLACE    166

NEXT THE DESPOILER APPROACHED                                        167

THE WIFE OF THE CHIEF CONTRACTOR PRESENTED KISIKA WITH A
    BEAUTIFUL FAN MADE OF PAPER LACE                                 169

DIRECTLY THEY SAW THE FLYING-FISH ENTER                              171

THEIR TWO LITTLE HEADS APPEARED SIDE BY SIDE                         172

SMALY STANDING ON THE POINT OF HIS TOES                              173

SO DURING THREE DAYS THE YOUNG GIRLS WERE BUSY MAKING THE
STAIRS                                                               175

THE RED FLYING-FISH CARRIED A LARGE HAT AND MANTLE IN ITS
CLAWS                                                                176

CARRYING AS MANY OF THE PRESENTS AS THEY COULD                       177

WIGS THEMSELVES WOULD HAVE MELTED AWAY DIRECTLY THEY
    PASSED THE FRONTIER                                              178

THEY HUNG OUT OF THE WINDOWS                                         179



THE CITY CURIOUS



CHAPTER I

     Smaly and his wife Redy set forth in search of three little
     girls: They are bewitched so that their noses turn into
     beaks: Smaly eats the latch of a door and Redy eats the
     hinge: Redy's fingers weep tears: They meet with a
     Confectioner who resembles a Kangaroo.


Smaly and Redy were husband and wife, and they lived together in a
little white house. This house had three rooms upstairs and three rooms
downstairs; and each room was so pretty that it gave one joy to see it.
Smaly and Redy were very proud of their house, and were never so happy
as when they were putting it to rights. Every day they did something to
one or other of the rooms, changing the position of the furniture or the
pictures.

One day, while Smaly was walking in the town he saw three mirrors in a
shop window, and he thought they would be just the thing to hang up in
the three bedrooms; so he bought the mirrors and went home with them in
high glee.

In the meantime, Redy, his little wife, also had an idea to beautify the
bedrooms, so she went out into the garden to pick some flowers.

Smaly hung a looking-glass in each of the three little bedrooms, then he
carefully closed all three doors and, going downstairs, sat himself by
the hearth. A fire was burning there, for the spring was still young in
the land.

While he sat there, smoking, lost in the most delicious daydreams, his
pleasant little wife Redy came in with her arms full of flowers. She
took three vases from the dresser, and began to arrange the flowers in
them, holding her head on one side like a bird.

[Illustration: REDY]

When she had put each flower exactly as she wished, she gently shook
Smaly's elbow. He jumped up, took two vases without a word, while she
picked up the third. They disposed a vase in each of the three little
bedrooms, and stood back to admire the effect; which, indeed, was quite
charming.

Suddenly Redy gave a sigh.

"It's all very well," said she, "but there's no one to live in our
pretty rooms."

Smaly sighed, too. "That's just what I was thinking," said he. "Oh,
Redy, how nice it would be if we had three little girls to live in our
three bedrooms, so that they could admire your flowers and look at
themselves in my pretty mirrors."

"Let us wish for them," said Redy, and she folded her hands together on
her apron and chanted:

    "We wish to have three girls,
    Fine, sweet, pink, and good
    They shall have more pudding than they like,
    And a green, green, and rosy garden."

Smaly repeated the poem in his turn, but Redy had to prompt him, for he
had a very bad memory.

They waited for some time, but nothing happened, so they said the verse
over again, and this time Smaly repeated it without any mistake; but
still nothing happened.

"Wishing does not seem to be much good," said Smaly despondently.

"Wishing never is any good," answered Redy, "unless one does something
more than wish. If we want to find our three little girls we must set
out and look for them."

"Yes, but where?" asked Smaly.

"As for that," answered his little wife, "I do not know any more than
you, but that verse we chanted just now is a magic verse, and we shall
find the way. We will get ready to start to-morrow."

       *       *       *       *       *

So the very next morning they set off on their search for the three
girls who would fill the white house with joy.

[Illustration: SMALY]

Redy had dressed herself in her best. Her green gown was trimmed with
black and emerald leaves, and her stockings and little cocked hat were
green to match. In her basket she thoughtfully placed two apples.

[Illustration: IN THIS LAND ALL THE BIRDS WORE HATS AND SPURS]

Smaly faced the world in his beautiful dark violet coat, on his head a
tall hat of the same colour. A belt of yellow leather clasped his waist.
In his buttonhole he stuck a sunflower to show how happy he was. His
best boots shone upon his feet. In the big pocket of his coat he placed
a couple of fresh rolls. The rolls and the apples were their provisions
for the journey. For weapon, in case of attack, Smaly carried a thin red
stick.

       *       *       *       *       *

For a long while they walked and walked. They crossed many countries
which everybody knows. At last, however, they found themselves in a
strange land, a land of which one hardly ever even hears--a land which
was even odder than these two odd little people.

In this land both men and beasts lived upon nothing but sweetmeats and
pastry.

In this land the sun shone longer than it does with us, because it often
stopped for a while to rest during the course of the day.

In this land all the birds wore hats and spurs.

In this land an orchestra of swallows played always at noonday.

In this land earthworms wore spectacles on their noses and swords at
their sides.

In this land such things as bricks, iron, wood, stone, and steel were
unknown.

In this land, after one had finished dinner, one ate the plates and
dishes, for they were made of sugar.

In this land nearly every inhabitant was made of slices of cake, held
together with pudding, sweetmeats, nougat, and chocolate.

In a word, there were to be found in this curious country a great many
things that were strange and wonderful and good to eat.

Smaly and Redy knocked at the door of this wonderful land, but for some
time no one came to answer them.

"Bother this door!" said Smaly, at last, kicking at it with his new
boots, and hitting it with his red cane.

"Why, it's made of chocolate!" cried Redy, who had sucked her fingers
after touching it.

"I will eat the latch away!" decided Smaly.

"And I'll eat the hinges," said Redy.

She seized a hinge and he tore off the latch.

The next moment the tears were pouring down their faces.

"Oh, oh, it's burning me!" cried poor Redy.

"It must be made of red pepper and spice!" wept Smaly.

[Illustration: REDY'S HANDS WERE CRYING WITH FRIGHT]

They had certainly burnt their tongues. They held hands and ran away,
uttering little moans of pain. The path took an abrupt turn, then
another, then a third, and yet a fourth, till it had described a
complete circle. Smaly and Redy found themselves once again opposite the
door.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was no longer any way out, for a thick hedge now surrounded the
two travellers, and they found themselves in a sort of green arena.
Quite a pretty arena, but all the same, it was rather alarming to find
themselves there, without a word of warning.

And the thick green hedge around the arena grew with such a horrible
rapidity. Very soon it was so high that the place became as dark as
night.

[Illustration: BUT HE FOUND HE, TOO, HAD A BEAK]

Smaly, in his alarm, had seized both Redy's hands in his, and now he
suddenly noticed that they were all wet. For one dreadful moment Smaly
thought they must be wet with blood, but the fact was that poor Redy's
hands were crying with fright.

       *       *       *       *       *

For a little while Smaly and Redy wept bitterly, but they soon grew too
tired to cry. They shut their mouths firmly, and tried to leave off
sobbing when they left off weeping, but their sobs kept on and on in
spite of them, for all the world like a tap that keeps on going
"glug-glug!" when one has forgotten to turn it off.

Smaly put up his hand, meaning to lay it gently over Redy's mouth.

She no longer had a mouth--in place of it was a fine large beak, painted
an elegant blue. Filled with horror, and sure that their end had come,
Smaly thought to print on Redy's cheek one last kiss of despair.

But he found he, too, had a beak, with which he could do nothing but
peck. They stood staring at each other's beaks. They did not yet know
that the beaks were invisible to all save themselves and the birds.

       *       *       *       *       *

They sat down on their heels like Turkish princes, and their sobs went
on and on, sounding like the lament of thousands of insects, and still
the green hedges around them went on growing, till it seemed that the
two poor little people were at the bottom of a profound green funnel,
brimming with darkness, in which their moaning sounded like the wind in
the chimney of a winter's night.

"Oh, oh, my Redy, we're in a pretty pass!" murmured Smaly, and Redy knew
that he was feeling almost mad with fright, so that at once she felt mad
with fright also. Now Redy had heard that mad people sing and dance, and
so she at once began to do both, dragging Smaly along with her. They
sang and danced till they had no breath left, and then they wanted to
drop down and rest, but found they had to keep on and on in spite of
themselves. The dance of terror, and the song with which their little
little sobs and moans mingled, continued there at the bottom of the
green funnel. There was more noise than there is at midday in Oxford
Circus.

[Illustration: THEY SANG AND DANCED]

The pepper from the latch of the door began to burn again in Smaly's
mouth, and reminded him that after all there was a door out of this
horrible place. He began to feel about for it in the darkness. When he
found it he uttered a sharp little cry, which, like the moans and the
singing, refused to die away, but went on echoing in the green funnel,
so that by now there was a noise like a tempest, for all the world as
though the whole sea had been imprisoned in a box--and a box too small
for it.

Smaly uttered this cry because he had discovered that the latch was
once more in its place on the door, although Smaly had thrown it far
away after biting it. Redy's hinge also was back in its place. Neither
the latch nor the hinge bore any trace of having been bitten, but felt
smooth and solid to the fingers.

[Illustration: NEITHER THE LATCH NOR THE HINGE BORE ANY TRACE OF HAVING
BEEN BITTEN]

       *       *       *       *       *

Smaly and Redy became even more terrified than before, so that their
hearts felt like two little lumps of ice in their breasts. And then a
very odd thing happened to them. Their beaks opened of themselves, and
these words came out of them--words which Smaly and Redy had never
thought of saying:

"Where is the key?"

Nothing answered them.

Then they found themselves on their hands and knees looking for the key.

"Where is the key? Oh, Reckybecky, where is the key?" the beaks
demanded, entirely of their own accord.

[Illustration: LOOKING FOR THE KEY]

Immediately a little grille opened in the door, and a voice said:

"Upon this side are honey, tea, and sugar! On your side are pepper,
ginger, and allspice!"

"And on this side there are also the beaks of birds!" replied Smaly,
alarmed at his own temerity; "and here also are the hands which weep!
And the horrible moanings! And----"

He was interrupted by a gentle laugh. This laugh sounded like a little
peal of crystal bells. And as the laugh went rippling on, the hedge
began to shrink and shrink, and the moans and sobs died away.

       *       *       *       *       *

The hearts of Smaly and Redy were beating like a couple of
alarum-clocks. The gate had a little grille in it and they peeped
through this grille to see what creature it was whose silvery laughter
had the power to charm away both the high hedge and the weird moanings.
Although the creature was several yards away they could see quite
clearly his large, rosy eyes edged with grey rims. They saw the creature
as distinctly as one can see the actors on the stage when one looks
through opera-glasses.

They saw that the rosy grey-rimmed eyes were set in a face of the green
of a pistachio-nut. The hair was the vague blue of cigarette smoke. The
head looked as though it were sculptured out of mother-of-pearl. Later,
they discovered that it was a mingling of ice-cream and jelly, for the
creature himself was a confectioner.

He was a confectioner ... and yet Smaly could have wagered his beautiful
new boots that he was more of a kangaroo than anything else. For though
this confectioner wore an apron and a fine green waistcoat, yet
undoubtedly his chess-board trousers and embroidered stockings covered
the powerful hind legs of a kangaroo. The long paws were shod with a
species of pattens, so big they seemed like miniature tables, and these
pattens were painted scarlet. Slung all about him, the Kangaroo carried
as many pots and pans as a travelling tinker. He was adorned as well by
spoons of bamboo, and from his belt hung ebony-handled knives, while
jam-jars and flagons, filled with preserves and essences, dangled about
him. The most tender mauves and translucent greens glowed through the
glass of the flagons.

[Illustration: KANGAROO-CONFECTIONER]

Smaly studied the good-natured face of this personage, and asked him
simply:

"Who are you?"

Then the Kangaroo-Confectioner said a surprising thing. He replied:

"I am the Architect."

The moment he had spoken he put up his hand and shut his mouth, to
prevent the sound of his words going on and on in the curious air of the
place, which seemed to hold sounds suspended as water holds the fronds
of weeds.

Smaly looked at him dubiously.

"You say you are an architect ... and yet your occupation appears to me
to be much more that of a confectioner, a super-confectioner."

The Kangaroo seemed overcome with a nervousness; his smiling face
creased itself into a thousand little lines of distress, his eyes looked
vacant, his manner became flustered. Evidently he was struggling with
his emotion. When he had sufficiently recovered he planted his long feet
more firmly on their scarlet pattens, and, taking a deep breath, chanted
as follows:

    "With jam I build the walls,
    And with jam I fill the tarts,
    With honey-cake I tile the roofs
    Which crest the pastry towers.
    The chairs are made of barley-sugar
    And the tables and napkins are not of custard,
    Nor of mustard nor of treacle,
    But I weave them of thin macaroni.

    "I am the Builder Architect,
    Who makes the cottages and the tarts,
    Who knows all about chairs and farms,
    Who makes the castles and the biscuits
    With chocolate and nice cornflour.

    "Where I am--honey, tea, and sugar!
    Where you are, pepper, ginger, and allspice!"

But, since the word "allspice" continued to reverberate through the air,
the Confectioner shut his mouth smartly with his finger and thumb.



CHAPTER II

     Smaly installs himself upon one of the Kangaroo's paws: The
     two little people see some of the inhabitants of this
     peculiar country: They meet some sugar horses, and they see
     also a fish which flies and some sponges which walk: The
     Wigs imagine that Smaly is made of suet: The ebony and
     crystal spectacles: The Mother of the Crow.


Smaly saw that there was no reason to be afraid of this strange creature
so he crawled in through the grille of the gate and sat down upon one of
the Confectioner's enormous paws. Redy made haste to follow him. No
sooner was she settled than a number of strange little beings appeared
as though from nowhere and clustered around her, pointing curious
fingers at her while they chatted amongst themselves.

These little beings were the inhabitants of this strange new country.
They nearly all wore gigantic wigs, and sometimes these wigs were so
long that they needed a page to carry the last curl as though it were
the end of a train.

The more Redy looked at these funny little people the greater was the
amazement that appeared upon her face.

Smaly also was astonished; but he would have died sooner than let his
astonishment appear.

[Illustration: TO CARRY THE LAST CURL AS THOUGH IT WERE THE END OF A
TRAIN]

These curious little beings, who were known as the "Wigs" because of
their large perukes, were even smaller than Redy and Smaly. At first
sight they looked rather like those stiff little coloured figures you
may see in Egyptian drawings at the British Museum, but no Egyptians
were ever dressed as these people were. Their vividly coloured clothes
were composed of mosaics of caramel and jam, with insertions of fruit
and cake. Each one wore on his head a hat made of preserved fruit or of
a whole bun or little cake. Shoes seemed to be very much a matter of
individual taste in this land, for every inhabitant wore a pair of a
different colour, shoes so gay that the mere sight of them made one want
to dance. There was one woman in particular who wore upon her head a
cake in the form of a little tower, who had the most charming mauve
shoes with red soles, upon which Redy felt her eyes always returning
enviously.

[Illustration: THE CITY CURIOUS]

The Wigs for their part had not gathered together merely to look at the
little strangers. With brightly coloured sponges some began to mop up
the dew which still clung to the leaves of the hedge, while others with
little pieces of blotting-paper set to work to dry each blade of grass
at the side of the road. This seemed such a useless thing to do that
Smaly would have liked to ask why they were doing it, but he felt too
shy, so he contented himself with winking at Redy. Then he glanced up at
the Confectioner.

[Illustration: THEY MADE ONE WANT TO DANCE]

"Tell me--why has Redy got a beak?" he asked, and before he could be
answered began to suck his finger. He sucked it because a drop of sweet
preserve had fallen upon it from one of the Confectioner's pots.

"Has Redy got wings as well?" asked the Confectioner, thoughtfully
taking a spoonful of the same preserve and offering it to Redy.

"No," said Smaly.

"Then she can't have a beak," replied the Confectioner triumphantly.

"Do you mean to say you don't see her beak or mine either?" asked Smaly
in astonishment.

"Never in my life have I seen a beak upon any creature that had not
wings as well," replied the Confectioner stolidly; "therefore it doesn't
exist."

"A beak, a beak, a beak, not exist, not exist, not exist," said all the
echoes one after the other.

Smaly decided to wait until the Confectioner spoke again; but it was
Redy who broke the silence in an unexpected manner.

She walked away from the Confectioner and stood looking at him
scornfully from a little distance.

"An architect!" she said. "You say you are an architect, but when we
called 'Reckybecky' you opened the door, therefore you are Reckybecky,
nothing but Reckybecky."

The Confectioner, who was a simple soul, stared at her very
disconcerted. "Reckybecky," he repeated in a sort of stupefaction.
"Reckybecky, am I really nothing but that?"

"You are Reckybecky," repeated Redy firmly.

"Dear me, I never heard that before," said the Confectioner. "I wonder
if you can be right. Then if I am Reckybecky I suppose I am not an
architect at all," and he covered his face to try and think more
clearly.

The two little people watched him timidly, wondering what was going on
in that bent head. Suddenly the Confectioner raised his head and flung
his pots and pans, his spoons and his knives, on to the ground on either
side of him.

Most of the pots broke and fragrant streams of beautifully coloured
preserves spread here and there over the uneven ground. Immediately
dozens of Wigs pounced upon the wreckage, and while the jams trickled
hither and thither amongst the grass these creatures tried to scrape it
up again into jugs and basins, and even into their caps, with the spoon
which every Wig carries hung from his belt.

[Illustration: WITH THE SPOON WHICH EVERY WIG CARRIES HUNG FROM HIS
BELT]

At some distance off a procession had been passing which had hitherto
paid no attention to the crowd round the gate, but now this broke up and
various persons quitted its ranks to try and scrape up some of the
precious preserves. These creatures did not resemble anything that Redy
and Smaly had seen up to then. At first sight they all appeared to be
riding little horses; horses draped like those which we see in old
pictures of tournaments.

These horses, however, were made of sugar, and very soon Redy and Smaly
perceived that they were simply worn round the waists of the Wigs, whose
two feet ran along the ground beneath the draperies where the four feet
of the horses should have been.

[Illustration: THESE HORSES, HOWEVER, WERE MADE OF SUGAR]

Smaly could not help thinking that to have a horse like that would be
rather fine if you could not afford a real horse of your own; but Redy
was occupied in admiring the fine costumes of the Wigs who owned the
horses.

These cavaliers were splendidly clad in green, white, rose, grey, and
black. One, in particular, wore rose-coloured boots, and his horse was
made to resemble a blue roan. Its mane was like a cocks-comb, cut in
scarlet points.

All these things Redy and Smaly managed to observe without showing undue
astonishment; but neither could resist a little cry of surprise when
they saw flying through the air a large fish. This fish, who wore a ring
through his nose, had also come to take part in the unexpected feast.

Finally, even the Sponges, which the Wigs carried in their hands, and
with which they had been drying the hedges, jumped out of their hands.
Each Sponge unfolded little legs and started running towards the jam.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now a strange thing began to happen to the Confectioner. The poor
fellow was evidently in great distress because Redy had told him that he
was not an architect, but only Reckybecky.

Redy and Smaly had never in all their lives seen any one so cruelly
upset.

He seemed to be melting before their eyes and becoming transparent. He
did not cry; but seemed rather to be transformed into a sort of damp and
clinging fog. "Just as though he were 'dissolving in tears,'" thought
Smaly. And he stared curiously at the Confectioner who every moment
became more cloud-like than ever.

[Illustration: THE SPONGES]

But suddenly the vague outline of a hand, which was all that remained
of him, struck the vaguer outline of his forehead as though an idea had
come to him. Once more his face assumed a clarity as though it were made
of mother-of-pearl, and he cried out:

"Reckybecky!"

This name reverberated round and about like a clap of thunder. It went
on and on, making such a noise that all the little Wigs left off
scraping up the jam and scampered away.

Redy felt afraid. Smaly jumped off the patten on which he had remained
perched during the eclipse of the Confectioner. As to the latter, he
endeavoured to shut his mouth and stop the noise from going on echoing;
but he was not very solid again as yet and found some difficulty in
doing it. At the end of the long avenue of sugar-trees Redy could see
little groups of people gathered together looking about them to try and
discover whence came this noise.

The Confectioner succeeded in shutting his mouth, and then turning
towards Redy he opened it again, and remarked firmly:

"You are a stupid little thing."

Then turning to Smaly he said, with that confidential accent which one
adopts when singling out the most intelligent person of a company for
one's remarks:

"No, I cannot be Reckybecky, for somebody else is Reckybecky, so there!"

The Confectioner seemed extremely relieved by this remarkable solution.

[Illustration: TO RETURN TO A MERE SHAPELESS THING ONCE AGAIN]

"Reckybecky must be the doorkeeper," he added firmly.

"The doorkeeper?" asked Smaly and Redy.

"Certainly, we've had a doorkeeper for years, and one day a traveller
told us that since we had a doorkeeper it was necessary we should have a
door, and then the Despoiler, who is the wisest of all of us, except the
Mother of the Crow, decided that since we had a porter who was made of
chocolate, we must have a gate made for him, and that the gate should be
made of chocolate to match."

Smaly and Redy turned to look back at the door; the grille by which they
had entered had disappeared, and everywhere the chocolate had become
solid once again.

[Illustration: A TRAVELLER TOLD US]

"I will show you the doorkeeper soon," promised the Confectioner, "but
for goodness' sake don't tell him that you know he's a doorkeeper. He
thinks he's simply a chocolate grub on his way to become a chocolate
butterfly; in fact, we have nominated another doorkeeper to take his
place if this ever comes off. This other person isn't really a
doorkeeper either, but there's one thing he can do, and that is, he can
make the latch and the hinge grow again when somebody has eaten them."
The Confectioner looked at Redy and Smaly very severely when he said
this.

[Illustration: THEY WERE KNOWN AS THE "WIGS" BECAUSE OF THEIR LARGE
PERUKES

_Page 15_]

They both felt extremely embarrassed.

       *       *       *       *       *

With his nail, which looked exactly like a horn salt-spoon, the
Confectioner scraped the inner side of the door just beside the latch,
and Redy and Smaly saw the chocolate grow again as rapidly as he scraped
it away.

The Confectioner gave a little exclamation of annoyance, and began to
hunt for his magic ring amongst all the things he had thrown to the
ground; but he could not find it. This ring had the power of preventing
both plants and things from growing, and without it the Confectioner was
unable to prevent the chocolate door from replacing itself as fast as he
scraped it away. Nevertheless Smaly and Redy started to help him, and
they all three scraped so hard that they caught a glimpse in the
interior of the door of a tiny creature sitting in a niche. This
creature was a grub about the size of a nut. Round its waist it wore a
key as big as itself, and on its head a fur bonnet, which nodded forward
to its chest.

"It's asleep," said the little man to the little woman.

       *       *       *       *       *

At this moment a Crow made of bilberry preserve and liquorice hopped up
to them. This Crow was the doorkeeper who was yet not the doorkeeper;
and who had been nominated in the place of the grub. The grub was really
the doorkeeper; but always refused to admit it.

[Illustration: NEVERTHELESS SMALY AND REDY STARTED TO HELP HIM]

The Crow, who seemed convulsed with rage, seized Redy in one claw and
Smaly in the other, preparatory to throwing them outside once more.

At this dangerous moment Smaly once again found his beak crying out of
itself. This time he heard it say that he wished to speak to the Chief
Contractor.

The Crow lifted him up by his waistband, and gazed at him with his big
bright eye like a magnifying-glass, then he dropped him.

"Why, it's made of suet!" he cried in disgust.

He turned his eye upon Redy, who appeared to him much better looking
with her delicate little blue beak, which had a bloom on it like a
grape. Unlike the Confectioner, the Crow was perfectly well able to
perceive the beaks of Smaly and Redy, for he himself was a bird, and to
no one save a bird or each other were their beaks visible.

And that is why you who are reading this book, and who are not birds,
cannot see their beaks either, unless you make a great effort.

[Illustration: THE GRUB WAS REALLY THE DOORKEEPER]

Redy, who saw that the moment had come to explain what they wanted,
folded her hands on her apron, and repeated her little poem:

    "We wish to have three girls,
    Fine, sweet, pink, and good.
    They shall have more pudding than they like,
    And a green, green, and rosy garden."

The Crow said:

"It won't do," and he took off his glasses, which were made of ebony,
set in a crystal frame. On the rims signs and letters were engraved in
characters that looked rather Eastern. If you examined carefully you saw
that round one lens was engraved:

DON'T LOOK AT ME.

And on the other one:

FOR YOU DON'T HEAR WITH YOUR EYES.

[Illustration: "WE WISH TO HAVE THREE GIRLS"]

Smaly paid no attention to the spectacles, but answered the Crow's
remark.

"Why won't it do?" he asked.

The Crow opened his beak to answer, then he shut it again, and put on
his glasses, for he only wore them when he wanted to speak, and did not
particularly wish to see.

[Illustration: THE CROW LIFTED HIM UP]

For this Crow had three eyes, one on each side of his beak, and a third
one carried in a medallion which hung on a chain round his neck. This
third eye was very busy and saw more than both the other two put
together.

Redy felt extremely annoyed.

"How dare you look at me! You are only made of sugar and bilberry jam,"
she exclaimed.

"I didn't look at you," said the Crow, rather taken aback.

"Only because you are looking at me," now shouted Smaly.

"No, I am not," retorted the Crow, turning his back and taking off his
spectacles.

"Don't leave us," cried Redy hastily. "I only meant that you were
looking at us with that beautiful eye that hangs on a chain round your
neck."

[Illustration: THE CROW]

"Well," said the Crow, coming back and putting on his spectacles once
more, "why didn't you say so at once? That's my mother's eye. She's
very old; but she still wants to know what is happening in the world, so
I carry about her eye with me to let it see. But don't be frightened.
She only sees you, she doesn't hear you."

"It wouldn't matter if she did. We should not dream of saying nasty
things about your mother," said Redy with true emotion.

"I thought not," said the Crow more peaceably, "besides, she's such a
funny little thing, poor dear; she's no legs, no wings, and no tail."

"Dear, dear, and only one eye?" asked Smaly.

"Yes," said the Crow, "only one eye, so she sees only one side of men,
birds, and things."

"What does she live on?" asked Redy, with a woman's interest in
practical matters.

The Crow replied, "Oh, on candy and caterpillars and sweets and flies,
just as you and I do."

"I don't," said Smaly.

"Nor I," said Redy.

The Crow gazed at them with some disgust.

[Illustration: THE MOTHER OF THE CROW]

"No, I suppose you live on suet, mutton fat, and oil," he replied, and
once again turned his back.

[Illustration: "SHE SEES ONLY ONE SIDE OF MEN, BIRDS, AND THINGS"]

       *       *       *       *       *

Again Redy tried to detain him; but this time the Crow said he must
leave because he had something to write in his diary.

[Illustration: THESE CREATURES DID NOT RESEMBLE ANYTHING THAT REDY AND
SMALY HAD SEEN UP TO THEN

_Page 19_]

Smaly asked again why they could not have three sweet little girls.

Putting on his spectacles the Crow replied, "Because there aren't any."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER III

     The Short-Legged Man with the musical voice: Smaly and Redy
     again declare they are travelling to find three little
     girls: Papylick puts Smaly and Redy in two boats made out of
     nutshells.


At this moment a short-legged little man came up to them, upon whose wig
was perched a little round hat trimmed with a single rose. A box hung at
his side, and upon this box was inscribed the word "SOY."

The Short-Legged Man had a voice so faint it was almost a whisper. It
was as musical and delicate as a fiddle heard playing from a great
distance. This little man whispered:

    "What do we know
    About boys and girls?
    They have no feathers nor wings,
    They are made of marzipan,
    They have no claws nor beak,
    They are everything that is sweet."

Smaly and Redy replied at once:

    "We wish to have three girls,
    Fine, sweet, pink, and good.
    They shall have more pudding than they like,
    And a green, green, and rosy garden."

The Short-Legged Man said, "It won't do."

"Why?" asked Redy.

"Because they should have _three_ green, green, and rosy gardens."

"They shall have," said both the little man and his wife.

"It still won't do," said the Short-Legged Man.

"Why?"

"Because they can't leave this country."

There was a sad moment whilst Smaly and Redy thought of the little white
house and the three bedrooms. Then they answered together:

"We'll make their gardens here."

"Come and talk to the Chief," said the Short-Legged Man.

But Redy was hungry and so tired she could not walk. The Crow, instead
of helping, flew away. He hadn't really got to write anything in a
diary, but he had to carry a girl called Fritilla to the tennis-ground,
where a lot of young people were going to play tennis.

[Illustration: THE SHORT-LEGGED MAN]

Fritilla was a pretty, fair girl with green eyes, whom the Crow had to
look after. She was one of the three daughters of the Prisoner, of whom
I will tell you later.

But the Short-Legged Man took pity on Redy, and he shouted with his
delicious voice out of his froglike mouth, "Papylick!" and this name was
repeated as long as the Short-Legged Man did not put his spoonlike
finger on his lips.

       *       *       *       *       *

Papylick arrived with his name written on his boots, which were yellow
as toffee, and had no laces. This Papylick was made of slices of
different coloured cake, and he, too, carried a box with the word "SOY"
inscribed upon it, a word which began to interest Smaly, though he was
determined not to betray his interest.

Papylick had a nut in one hand, and opening it he put Redy inside and
shut it up again.

Smaly, too, was tired, and thinking it much better for him also to be
carried, he said:

"Papylick, my dear Papylick," and immediately shut his mouth again with
the first finger of his left hand.

Papylick opened another nut and placed Smaly inside it, then the
Short-Legged Man put both nuts in his pocket.

[Illustration: PAPYLICK]

Now Smaly and Redy could not see the country they were being carried
through because the nuts were closed; but Papylick had thought of this,
and so the landscapes were painted complete in every detail inside the
nuts.

But Smaly and Redy, instead of admiring these landscapes, soon
discovered they were painted with delicious sweetstuffs such as they had
seen in the jars and pots of the Confectioner.

So they licked off the landscapes.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IV

     Smaly and Redy are not well received: They are thought to be
     made of painted cardboard: How the Despoiler fell into the
     water and left a foot behind him: Mistigris sticks a
     fish-bone into the back of the Despoiler: Judgment is passed
     on the two strangers: They will be banished at nightfall:
     The walls of the three gardens are discussed.


The two rulers of this country were the Chief Contractor and the
Despoiler. On arriving at the town where the rulers lived, Redy and
Smaly could hear a hundred bells ringing out crystal chimes. These bells
were made of coloured sugar and were hung in campaniles of barley-sugar,
whose domes were made of gilded crusts.

When the bells left off ringing, a beautiful song arose, and each person
who sang it had a voice as sweet as that of the Short-Legged Man or of
Papylick.

"We must have arrived for the midday prayer of the Wigs," said Smaly and
Redy to themselves in their nuts.

Before very long Papylick and the Short-Legged Man arrived at the house
where the Chief Contractor lived and went into the great kitchen.

"Well," said the Chief Contractor, coming forward to meet them, "what
have you brought me?"

[Illustration: OPENING THE NUTS AND DISPLAYING THE TWO LITTLE PEOPLE]

"A mere nothing," replied Papylick, opening the nuts and displaying the
two little people, who, jumping out, became their normal size once more.

[Illustration: LEADING BY THE HAND THE CHOCOLATE GRUB]

"They are two suet-eaters," said the Short-Legged Man apologetically, as
he made Smaly and Redy sit down upon two charming seats made of painted
wax.

There were more than a hundred of these seats round the enormous
kitchen, each occupied by some noted Wig.

Smaly and Redy soon recognized the Crow, and the next moment they saw
the Confectioner come in, apparently having quite got over his trouble
and leading by the hand the Chocolate Grub who was the doorkeeper.

The Chief Contractor and the Despoiler gazed attentively at Smaly and
his wife; but as at this moment dinner was brought in, the two little
humans were forgotten in the graver interest of the banquet. The eating
in this country was a serious affair attended with many rites.

       *       *       *       *       *

The banquet began. This solemn feast took place every day. As soon as
the guests had taken their seats, each picked up a little slate, which
hung by the side of his chair, a slate made of chocolate framed in
well-cooked pastry, and each began to write his menu upon his slate. No
matter what he wrote, whether it were eggs or roast larks, or whatever
it were, the thing at once appeared: the birds with their legs encased
in cutlet frills, and the eggs running along on two little feet, and
carrying a spoon and salt-cellar in either hand.

[Illustration: THE BIRDS WITH THEIR LEGS ENCASED IN CUTLET FRILLS]

Redy and Smaly could not help thinking that all this was rather
alarming; they were not used to seeing slices of toast arrive running
like big spiders.

Careering busily about the kitchen were little pigs made of marzipan.
They were gentle and pretty pigs, who smelt deliciously of aromatic
herbs, and each had a knife and fork stuck in his back.

When each guest had cut as much marzipan as he wanted he replaced the
knife and fork, and the little pig at once ran merrily on to the next
guest without turning so much as one of its marzipan hairs.

As to the tarts, they arrived flying like sparrows or miniature
aeroplanes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Redy also was presented with a slate, and she copied upon it the signs
which she saw the Chief Contractor make upon his. By this means she
partook of plum tart, oranges, and marzipan, all of which she shared
with Smaly, who was not so quick as she was at copying the writing of
the next-door neighbour.

[Illustration: THE EGGS RUNNING ALONG]

Certainly it was a most splendid feast; and as to the service, as one
sees, it was conducted in a very novel fashion. Such was a banquet in
this country, though on more ordinary occasions the Wigs had to go to
their provisions instead of the provisions coming to them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The feast over, the Wigs dipped their hands in finger-bowls, which
consisted of the halves of melons scooped out and filled with
rose-water. The Wigs all appeared very happy, their cheeks were flushed,
their little amethyst-coloured eyes shone with satisfaction, the air was
filled with a delicious scent of fruit.

[Illustration: THEY WERE GENTLE AND PRETTY PIGS]

"It seems to me there is an extraordinary smell of suet here," said the
Chief Contractor, suddenly darting an unpleasant look at Smaly and his
wife.

"For my part," said the Despoiler, whose whole person from his nose to
his feet, which were flatter than pancakes, expressed extreme
suspicion--"for my part, what I smell is painted and varnished
cardboard." And he, too, fixed Smaly and Redy with his eyes.

[Illustration: A MOST SPLENDID FEAST]

All the Wigs began to laugh, their large, amiable frogs' mouths
expanded, and they crossed their fingers under their chins, which is in
this country a great sign of mirth. They laughed because they all knew
quite well that the Despoiler himself was only made of cardboard. He was
certainly very well covered with jams and sweetmeats; but he was
cardboard underneath for all that.

[Illustration: THE DESPOILER]

There was a story that one day the Despoiler had found himself beside a
pool which lay between his house and the great kitchen of the Chief
Contractor. The Despoiler had wanted to capture a flying-fish made of
red marzipan, which was feeding upon a laurel-tree beside the pool. He
leaned forward too far towards the tree and fell into the water, which
was none the less wet for being scented with orange flowers. The birds
which lived at the bottom of the pool brought him up to the surface once
more. He was saved; but a terrible thing had happened to him. Not one
spot of jam remained upon his cardboard.

[Illustration: WHICH IS IN THIS COUNTRY A GREAT SIGN OF MIRTH]

He fled hastily.

[Illustration: HE FLED HASTILY]

He had left one of his feet behind him in the water, and the Crow,
taking off his spectacles, fished it up. Two kindly Wigs ran after the
Despoiler with his cardboard foot.

The Despoiler, although he was very clever, was also very vain, and
pretended that it was not his foot at all; but only the sole of one of
his shoes; but all the Wigs knew perfectly well that it was really his
foot.

       *       *       *       *       *

While the Wigs were still laughing at the expense of the Despoiler,
Smaly saw Mistigris, a Wig who moved with an extremely cat-like tread,
strike the Despoiler from behind with a long fish-bone, and transfix his
insensible cardboard back.

The Chief Contractor, who saw what had happened, rattled the castanets
which he wore on his left knee, and a young Stork dressed in the uniform
of a fireman ran up behind the Despoiler, and by the aid of long pincers
withdrew the fish-bone. This was evidently quite a usual occurrence.

The Chief Contractor picked up one of the masks that hung round his
neck, a mask which was called "Dignity," and placed it over his face.
When he had worn this for a minute he let it swing like a monocle, and
put in its place a mask called "Severity."

"Let every one take his place," he cried in a stern voice.

The Wigs gathered round in a circle, all looking towards the door.

[Illustration: MISTIGRIS]

"You're making a mistake, old man," whispered the Despoiler familiarly.
"The arrangement was that we were going to see a review of your
soldiers."

"We are going to hold a council instead," shouted the Chief Contractor,
and drops of perspiration, big and pink as strawberries, rolled down his
mask.

Suddenly he snatched it off and replaced it with a mask which signified
"Anger."

The assembly trembled. There was a sound as of shuddering macaroni or of
dominoes rattling with fear.

"Reckybecky, you are out of line!" cried the Chief Contractor from
beneath his mask of saffron and flame colour. "Papylick and Mistigris,
pay attention! Is it possible that already the intrusion here of two
rascals made of suet is going to corrupt you all and reduce you to
anarchy?"

Mistigris and Papylick came running up with a cord, and, each taking an
end, they held it in front of the row of Wigs to keep them straight.
Those Wigs whose feet stuck out too far drew them back, and those whose
feet did not come out far enough advanced them until every one's toes
touched the cord and made a straight line.

"You can roll the cord up," commanded the master; then he turned to
Smaly. "Tell the truth," he demanded, "are you made of suet?"

       *       *       *       *       *

At this moment Papylick and the Young Stork gave a cry of horror. They
had discovered that Smaly and Redy had licked the painted landscapes off
the insides of the nuts in which they had been transported.

[Illustration: THE YOUNG STORK]

Every one uttered cries of indignation, and pressed forward so that
their feet had to be brought to order again with the help of the cord.

[Illustration: EVERY ONE UTTERED CRIES OF INDIGNATION]

"The law is clear. These people made of cardboard and suet must be
banished at once," said the Despoiler, who did not wear a mask, but
could roll his eyes and open his mouth as much as he liked.

"The sun is at its height. It's hot enough to bake tarts," said the
Confectioner. "If these two people go out now the sun will melt them,
and our beautiful lawns will be covered with fat."

"Horror!" cried several of the Wigs.

"Then they must stay here until the sun has set," decided the Chief
Contractor, and putting on a mask called "The Listener" he continued:

[Illustration: "YOU CAN ROLL THE CORD"]

"Now tell me what they want, these disturbing people whom you have
brought here. Tell me everything that you know, O Short-Legged Man."

But Smaly and Redy spoke together, and they said:

    "We wish to have three girls.
    Fine, sweet, pink and good.
    They shall have more pudding than they like,
    And a green, green----"

Here Redy stopped and said:

    "... each a green garden."

The Chief Contractor replied, "Won't do."

The Crow added, "Because there aren't any."

"There are the three daughters of the Prisoner," said the Chief
Contractor; "but they can't go out of the country."

"Look here," said the Mother of the Crow, who had just been brought in
seated in her oyster-shell, "why shouldn't this man and his wife live
just behind the wall of the country, then they will be able to look at
the Prisoner's daughters."

"That won't do," said the Chief Contractor, "the girls mustn't speak to
each other. They don't know, none of them knows, that their father was
beheaded, and if they spoke to each other about it they would all know."

"Well, well," said the Mother of the Crow, preparing to be very wise,
"they can surround each garden by a wall and keep the girls separate."

So it was decided that the little man and his wife were to be banished
after sunset; but they could live beyond the wall, and the girls should
each have a green garden surrounded by a wall of its own.

[Illustration: THE CHIEF CONTRACTOR REPLIED]

These walls were to be quite low to suit the stature of the young girls,
and each year the walls were to be raised as the girls grew taller.
Thus the girls would not be able to see each other or be able to confide
to each other indiscretions on a thousand and one subjects of which they
knew nothing.

[Illustration: CHILDREN WERE BUILT OF MUCH FEWER SLICES OF CAKE THAN THE
GROWN-UPS]

Here the Chief Contractor again made a very strong objection.

"It's important," he said, "that every year on their birthdays we should
insert a slice of cake in these little girls so that they should grow
tall enough to suit their age."

In the somewhat embarrassed silence which followed, Smaly discovered why
the Wigs had such short legs and such long bodies.

"Of course, that is it," he said to himself; "each year on their
birthdays somebody adds another tart or slice of cake to them, and they
grow taller."

[Illustration: THESE CREATURES WILL EAT THE TOP OFF THE WALLS]

He glanced out of the window and saw that this was indeed so, that the
children were built of much fewer slices of cake than the grown-ups.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Chief Contractor now made a second objection.

"But what shall we do," he said, "when the garden wall of the eldest
girl grows to be five feet high, for you mustn't forget that that is the
height at which the fishes and lizards fly, so the wall will never be
able to be higher than five feet, for every night these creatures will
eat the top off the walls."

It was again the Mother of the Crow who saved the situation. The dark
hole in which she wore her eye when her son was not carrying it round
his neck seemed full of intelligence. She placed her finger upon her
brow without moving her arm (for the simple reason that she did not
possess one), and said:

"When we can no longer make the walls higher, then we will sink the
gardens as much as is needful."

All the same the Wigs could not accept this as a solution, for it seemed
to them that men grew upwards and not towards the ground, that is to
say, from the head and not from the feet.

[Illustration: ANGER]

The Chief Contractor gave the matter due thought.

[Illustration: IT SEEMED TO THEM THAT MEN GREW UPWARDS AND NOT TOWARDS
THE GROUND]

"We will place the annual slice of cake exactly in the middle of the
girls," he announced, "and thus we will only have to sink the level of
the gardens a little, and raise the top of the walls a little."

But since nobody seemed quite ready to accept this as a solution, the
Chief Contractor again placed upon his face the mask called "Anger," and
every one held their tongues from perplexity.

[Illustration: SOME VERY ELEGANT MICE]

Happily at this moment the most charming music was heard upon the air.
One could detect the scent of this music with one's nose, and taste it
with one's tongue. One could see it floating out from various little
boxes that some very elegant mice were opening and shutting with much
delicacy and care.

"It's the review of the troops beginning," exclaimed the Young Stork in
a loud voice as he tweaked the hundredth fish-bone out of the insensible
back of the Despoiler.



CHAPTER V

     Redy and Smaly watch the review of the troops: Smaly and the
     Mother of the Crow discourse about soldiers: The Chief
     Contractor distributes the food, and the Wigs pass through a
     curious little door: The Soy powder makes the provisions
     grow.


The Wigs now began to form themselves into a semicircle, the smallest
nearest the door, and the others standing behind them so that they could
see over their heads.

It was a half-holiday for Laptitza, the second daughter of the Prisoner,
and Papylick brought her in so that she could see the review of the
troops.

Laptitza was shown to a low chair in the midst of the semicircle formed
by the Wigs.

Laptitza was so beautiful that it would not have been possible to have
painted her portrait.

       *       *       *       *       *

The soldiers arrived in Indian file, one behind the other.

"There are a hundred and two of them," announced the Chief Contractor,
looking furtively at Smaly. He shot this look through the eyeholes of
the mask which he had just slipped on and which appeared to be made in
two halves, for while one half expressed severe authority, the other
was all gentleness.

[Illustration: ONE HALF EXPRESSED SEVERE AUTHORITY, THE OTHER WAS ALL
GENTLENESS]

"One hundred and two," repeated Smaly in a perfectly expressionless
voice.

"My brother used to have only one hundred," said the Despoiler, "but I
made him understand that they could not possibly march until they had
one at the head and one at the tail, and that makes one hundred and
two." It was now the Despoiler's turn to look slyly at the two little
human beings and see how they took his remark.

       *       *       *       *       *

The soldiers came on in a straight line towards the great door of the
kitchen. They had an extraordinarily complicated method of marching,
taking two steps in advance and then one backwards, and this was made
all the more difficult for them because discipline enjoined that each
man should place his feet accurately in the footsteps of the leader.
This man's feet, by an ingenious arrangement, left white marks in the
ground.

When the leading soldier arrived at the door, since it was not permitted
him to turn his back upon such an august assembly, he had to take his
departure marching backwards, and so had all those who followed after
him. From that moment there were two long lines of soldiers, one going
forwards, the other going backwards; but all the soldiers had their
noses, their chests, their knees, and their big toes pointing in the
same direction--the door of the kitchen.

When the review was over, the Chief Contractor was so pleased that he
decided that they must have a similar review every week. He had a fence
erected round the traces left by the soldiers' feet, so that they would
not be effaced, but could be used again each week.

Just as this was finished Smaly noticed that the eye of the Mother of
the Crow was regarding him steadfastly. Suddenly the eye winked as
though to signal him to approach. Smaly began to walk towards the eye;
but it occurred to him on reflection that it was towards the Mother of
the Crow herself that he ought to turn his steps, and not towards her
eye, which, after all, was merely hung in a locket round the neck of her
son. Therefore he turned and approached the oyster-shell, where the
Mother of the Crow was seated.

The Wigs were no longer taking any notice of him; they were eating
ices, and chatting together in their mellifluous voices. They had all
put on thick gloves, for the warmth of the fresh pastry of which their
hands were composed would have melted the ices.

[Illustration: HE DECIDED THAT THEY MUST HAVE A SIMILAR REVIEW EVERY
WEEK]

       *       *       *       *       *

"None of them really knows what a soldier is," said the Mother of the
Crow in a low voice to Smaly.

"Oh," said Smaly; "but _you_ know, don't you?"

"Certainly I know. Soldiers are beings who cut up the meat that men like
you eat, who hack down big trees, who kill the beautiful horned animals
for food. You see I know perfectly well what a soldier is, and one can
always tell a real soldier because he carries big knives, axes, saws,
razors, and scythes."

"H'm! Not at all," contradicted Smaly with the air of one beginning a
lecture. "A soldier is a man who fights other soldiers."

"What?" asked the Mother of the Crow. "How is that possible when they
are both the same thing?"

"I assure you that it is so," replied Smaly.

The Mother of the Crow reflected; but catching sight of the Wigs, who
were putting the soldiers back in their boxes at the end of the
courtyard, she began again.

[Illustration: THEY HAD ALL PUT ON THICK GLOVES]

"He," she said, nodding her head towards the Chief Contractor, "has no
idea of what a soldier is. He has never seen one excepting in a painting
that a cousin sent him. It is a painting that represents a court in full
dress. There are several soldiers with knives standing round the cousin,
who is the President of the Republic of Pasenipus. They wear
breastplates of gold to prevent the blood of the animals they kill
soiling their fine coats. The Chief Contractor thought that these
breastplates must be eggs, and, as you see, these soldiers are just eggs
with legs. The Chief Contractor has had oxeye daisies fastened to their
heels, because in the picture there were golden daisies fastened to the
boots of the soldiers."

[Illustration: WIGS, WHO WERE PUTTING THE SOLDIERS BACK IN THEIR BOXES]

[Illustration: LAPTITZA AND PAPYLICK

_Page 59_]

[Illustration: PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF PASENIPUS]

"Those must have been spurs!" explained Smaly absently, his attention
being distracted by a curious rattling noise from afar off.

"I don't know what spurs are," admitted the Mother of the Crow; "but the
Chief Contractor doesn't even know what the shield is that each soldier
carries to protect his face from the horns of the animals. He doesn't
even know that soldiers carry knives," she added, "but has put in his
soldiers' hands flowers with long stalks. He doesn't know what a helmet
is, for he thought that soldiers must be a sort of bird with a plume on
their heads."

Smaly didn't mind. He had very much admired the feathered heads, and,
above all, he admired the shields, which were made of pearly shell-fish,
but before the review the Wigs had eaten the contents of these beautiful
shields lest the shell-fish should all have hidden their faces from
fright.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the Wigs had placed the soldiers in the boxes the Young Stork and
Papylick came towards Smaly. The Stork took charge of the Mother of the
Crow to conduct her back to her house, which was in a cosy nook in a
great tree of coral.

Smaly and Redy now wished to go, but Papylick informed them that neither
the sun nor moon having yet set, it was not possible, and so the little
husband and wife sat down on their heels in the doorway of the kitchen.

The rattling sound had now come nearer, and the Chief Contractor
appeared in the public square surrounded by Wigs pushing wheelbarrows
and turning rattles.

[Illustration: TO CONDUCT HER BACK TO HER HOUSE, WHICH WAS IN A COSY
NOOK IN A GREAT TREE OF CORAL]

These Wigs laid the rattles in the wheelbarrows, and everything became
quiet once more.

Then the Chief Contractor advanced boldly into the full sunshine, and
the Wigs, who watched him put one foot in front of the other, prepared
also to advance.

The Chief Contractor had made a few changes in his costume. He still
wore his big ring and his box marked "Soy"; but a huge hat now covered
his head. Little shelves were hung all about his person, and on these
and on his hat were placed pots and jars, cakes and flagons. He had many
more than the Confectioner, who, after all, was only his lieutenant. He
carried a quiverful of ebony knives, and an urn from which stuck out
long bamboo spoons. His masks were slung from the end of a stick. He
touched his lips with his magic ring, then he agitated the castanets
which hung at his knee, and cried:

"Food, food! Come in by the door, come in by the door," and he shut his
mouth up again quickly with his left thumb.

"I don't see a door, or even a place for a door. There isn't anything,"
said Smaly to Papylick.

"There it is," said Redy, pointing towards a little door which stood in
the middle of the square. "There's no wall, but that is a door. See,
it's open," she added.

"But what's the good of that door," cried Smaly to the Chocolate Grub,
which had come up beside him and was waiting with the others to go and
get his provisions.

[Illustration: THE CONFECTIONER]

"I know nothing about doors," said the Grub sharply. "You must ask some
specialist in such matters; some one who knows about draughts and
opening and shutting. Some one, in fact, who looks like a doorkeeper,"
and the Grub withdrew proudly.

[Illustration: "NEVERTHELESS IT'S SO NARROW THAT ONLY ONE PERSON CAN GO
THROUGH AT A TIME"]

Smaly realized that he had been lacking in tact to mention the word
"door" to the Grub, who always pretended that he was not a doorkeeper.
Papylick explained to the two little people:

"If there weren't a door the people would simply tear the Chief
Contractor to bits to get at the food."

"But----" began Smaly.

"And anyway the door was open," said Redy.

"That's true," replied Papylick, "but nevertheless it's so narrow that
only one person can go through at a time."

[Illustration: THE SONG WENT ON]

And, indeed, each Wig was passing singly through the little door to
receive in his pot or pan a drop of gooseberry jam or a morsel of cake
or apple, or one or two cherry-stones.

The Chief Contractor served out his goods with his bamboo spoons. When
the Wigs were served they made their way in single file towards two
posts which stood in the square, and passed very carefully between them
so as not to spill any of their precious provisions.

And every one had received from the Contractor a little powder in a box
like a small snuff-box labelled "Soy."

       *       *       *       *       *

Back in their kitchen the Wigs sprinkled a pinch of the Soy powder on
their crumbs of cake and spots of jam, and then taking hands danced
slowly round the table, singing, while the little crumbs of food began
to grow bigger and bigger. The fragments of cake became whole cakes, the
spots of jam swelled to marvellous jellies, and the cherry-stones became
baskets full of the most succulent fruits. When they had finished their
song they did not shut their mouths up again, thereby attaining two
excellent results--the song went on and on while they could eat their
dessert at their ease.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI

     The Sugar-Cane Prison arrives: The Rats water it with Soy
     fluid to keep the canes growing as fast as the Prisoner
     breaks them down: The time for siesta draws on, and Smaly
     and Redy go into the house of the Historian.


While the Wigs were in the kitchen, and Smaly and Redy were seated in
the doorway sharing Papylick's provisions, distant cries rose upon the
air. Smaly and Redy turned to gaze out at the public square, which was
hot and empty; but in a moment several Wigs arrived at the far end,
running hard with their little short legs, and crying out:

[Illustration: RUNNING HARD WITH THEIR LITTLE SHORT LEGS]

"The prison has turned round, it's coming in this direction."

The Chief Contractor, who was eating in the kitchen in company with the
Despoiler, the Confectioner, the Crow, Mistigris, the Stork, and
various other people, precipitated himself towards the door, followed by
the rest. Listening to their scraps of conversation Smaly gathered that
the Wigs held some stranger captive, and that this prisoner lived in a
perambulating prison which travelled about the country. This astonished
Smaly very much, as, indeed, it would have astonished you had you been
in his place. Even I, who have seen many strange things, was very
astonished when I first heard about it.

[Illustration: SOY MILL]

[Illustration: SOY RESERVOIR]

The shouting grew nearer, and there appeared at the far end of the
square a forest of sugar-canes moving steadily onwards. The canes reared
up into the air like rockets which never rose any higher, or like a
field of gigantic corn, and they formed a solid wall which came ever
nearer and nearer.

The wall came onward and hit against a house which stood in its way, and
mowed it down. The sugar-canes were far more powerful than the pastry of
which the house was composed.

The sugar-cane forest came closer, so close that Smaly and Redy
perceived how amongst the base of the canes there was a multitude of
Water-Rats who were busy watering the roots.

These Rats were all provided with large mackintoshes, which, however,
they took off for greater freedom of movement while they were watering.
They wore boots like those you see upon the men who clean out drains,
and each Rat had upon its head a fireman's helmet similar to that worn
by the Stork.

Some watered with a watering-can, some with firemen's hose, connected
with reservoirs shaped like enormous bottles of champagne, and mounted
upon wheels.

One of the Rats, who wore a long red feather trailing from its helmet,
was mounted upon a Hare whose pads were wrapped in linen. The Rat
galloped backwards and forwards upon the Hare from the forest to a big
windmill marked "Soy," where the reservoirs were.

Still the forest kept on advancing until the quiet square was
transformed into a den of noise and activity. The sugar-canes grew
higher and more numerous every moment under the influence of the water
of Soy, which was as productive as the Soy powder.

The kitchen was by now emptied of everything movable; the Wigs ran
hither and thither carrying away every object that they could lift, as
people move furniture when a neighbouring house is burning; only Smaly
and Redy remained, stupefied before this moving forest which marched
down upon them.

[Illustration: CARRYING AWAY EVERY OBJECT THAT THEY COULD LIFT]

When it was almost on them they ran to one side, and there, where the
sugar-canes were less thick, they could see into the heart of the
forest, and they saw crouching within it a strange-looking man dressed
in rags. Little of his face showed between his long hair and his tangled
beard. He wore no shoes; but carried at the end of a string several
boxes of matches. Perpetually he made the same rhythmic gesture with his
arms, and with every gesture the sugar-canes around him broke as if they
were made of brittle glass. His eyes stared straight in front of him,
and he seemed to be laughing to himself.

"He is a madman," said Redy.

"They have driven him mad," replied Smaly in a low voice.

Smaly and Redy joined hands. "We ought to save him," they said together.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Prisoner never ceased to break the sugar-canes, and fresh canes
sprang up around him also without a pause.

Fish that had wings and paws flew above the forest, brushing the heads
of the canes with their ringed noses. Whenever they did this the
sugar-canes seemed to shrivel up and vanish.

And thus the forest advanced, new canes springing up ahead, and the old
canes withering behind; but always surrounding the Prisoner, no matter
how he shattered them.

Now these rings which the Flying-Fish wore in their noses had been fixed
there by the Despoiler, and the rings worn by all the Wigs came from the
same source and served the same purpose, that of stopping all growth.
This was how the Despoiler came by his name, for mere creature of
insensate pasteboard as he was, he had the power from his magic ring to
arrest all life--a blade of grass in the ground, or the passage of a
bird in the air.

[Illustration: THE PRISONER]

Suddenly the Prisoner paused in his frantic toil and fell asleep like a
child. The rats also left off their work and wrapped themselves in their
mackintoshes.

[Illustration: THE PRISONER NEVER CEASED TO BREAK THE SUGAR-CANES]

Smaly and Redy wished to attract the attention of the Prisoner; but the
strange man slept on, and they did not dare speak to him too loudly, for
they were afraid that he might be quite mad, and also they did not know
how the Wigs would take interference with their prisoner. Indeed,
Papylick and the Young Stork had already noticed what they were trying
to do, and since the kitchen had been destroyed by the passing of the
forest they now drew Smaly and Redy gently but firmly into one of the
houses in the square.

"This is the house of the Historian," said Papylick, "and here you must
stay until the setting of the sun."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VII

     The Flying-Fish announces the hour of three, and the World
     falls asleep: The Hen makes six hard-boiled eggs: Smaly and
     Redy begin to read the manuscript of the Historian.


Smaly and Redy found themselves in a room that was rather dark in spite
of the fact that the sun was still high in the heavens. There were only
four windows, one placed so low down that the Wigs, even when seated,
could observe what passed. Another, very little higher, was for the Wigs
to look out of when they were standing on their short legs. These two
windows had already been in existence when the Government of the country
offered the house to the Historian to enable him to write the chronicles
of the inhabitants.

The Historian put in an indent asking for two more windows, and
succeeded in obtaining them. The first of the new windows was put
alongside the old one, which had been for the use of the Wigs standing;
but this new window was for the Historian when he was sitting down, as
he was twice the height of an ordinary Wig. The fourth window was set
very high to allow of the Historian looking out on the market square as
he walked about.

It will be seen what bright ideas this Historian had; but the result of
one of his brightest was to be seen in the ceiling, where there were two
circular holes, one much bigger than the other.

[Illustration: THE PET FLYING-FISH, WHICH EVERY WIG FAMILY POSSESSES AND
CHERISHES]

The big hole had been there for a long time and had been made to allow
of free exit and entry to the pet Flying-Fish, which every Wig family
possesses and cherishes, much as you or I cherish a dog or a cat; but
when some one made the Historian a present of another and much younger
Flying-Fish, he at once caused a smaller hole to be made so that his new
pet also could come in and out as it pleased.

Redy and Smaly found the Historian sitting in a corner of his room
studying a piece of paper through a telescope, and taking notes as to
what he saw. The little husband and wife shut the door gently behind
them and remained very quiet. They were quite alone with this curious
and enormous being, who took no more notice of them than if they had
been a couple of mice.

It was the first time that Redy and Smaly had seen the interior of a Wig
house, and they found it resembled nothing so much as the laboratory of
an alchemist or astronomer. The thing Smaly and Redy admired most was a
large globe upon which all the Wig possessions were painted in red.

[Illustration: THE AMOUNT OF CAKE AND PUDDING EATEN ANNUALLY IN THE
COUNTRY]

At first they were very astonished to see how big the Wigs' country
appeared to be; but after a little study Smaly suggested that the areas
covered in red must represent the importance morally and mentally of
the country rather than its geographical area, and this Redy agreed
with, for she had found ranged in a row beside the globe a lot of little
painted cardboard figures of different sizes representing the amount of
cake and pudding eaten annually in the countries represented by these
little figures; which were the Wigs' country, Parseny's Land, England,
France, Italy, and Belgium, and the Wigs' country was the biggest of the
lot.

[Illustration: The Elder of the Fishes]

       *       *       *       *       *

While the little husband and wife were discussing this in low voices so
as not to disturb the Historian, the elder of the Fishes flew in. With
great difficulty it scraped through the small hole instead of its own.
It flew to its perch, and announced in a clear voice:

"Three o'clock has struck."

It said these words to a Hen who was sitting upon a coal-scuttle,
busily making little white and yellow pasties.

[Illustration: THE HEN]

Having made this announcement the Fish pulled down its eyelids with its
left paw, buried its nose in a nightcap, wrapped its wings round its
head, and went to sleep. The Hen seemed very agitated by the Fish's
words, and began to work harder than ever.

She wore a peruke like all the Wigs, and an infinite number of skirts
made of butter muslin. She looked at the clock, for the big hand had
stopped at two, whereas the little hand was at the hour of three. While
she gazed at it the left foot of the Historian shot out and brought the
little hand round to six o'clock.

At once the Hen started rolling out six yellow balls upon her
pasteboard. These she wrapped up in a white crust and then hid them in
the pockets of her skirts and sat upon them, while she made fourteen
more eggs out of the white and yellow paste.

"The little hand must be to ask for six hard-boiled eggs," whispered
Redy to Smaly.

At that moment Smaly, who was staring out of the window, nudged Redy,
and looking out together they saw that the Wigs, who had been busily
rebuilding the kitchen, had all fallen asleep in the market square
because three o'clock was the hour of the afternoon's rest. The
Confectioner, his hair streaming in the wind, was running hard towards
his own house. He held by the hand Fritilla, the youngest of the
Prisoner's daughters, whose big eyes were looking all about her as she
ran. The Confectioner pushed her rapidly into his house and shut the
door upon her, then he, too, fell asleep in the square like the other
Wigs. This care which the Confectioner took of Fritilla was by no means
unnecessary, as for several days she had been pursued by an enormous red
Flying-Fish which declared that she had stolen from it its seven hundred
and eighty-secondth feather. It declared that it had seen the plume
actually in her hands, and that when it had gone home and counted its
feathers over before going to sleep that night it only possessed seven
hundred and eighty-one.

[Illustration: THIS CARE WHICH THE CONFECTIONER TOOK OF FRITILLA WAS BY
NO MEANS UNNECESSARY]

       *       *       *       *       *

The smaller Flying-Fish now flew into the Historian's room, using its
own little hole. It hated using this; but it seemed an even greater
humiliation to use the big one, for that made the poor little Fish feel
smaller than ever. Thus it came about that neither the big nor the
little Flying-Fish ever used the larger hole, which had become all
overgrown with delicate mosses and stonecrop, and even by a fine yellow
wallflower. The windows in this country, if people did not look through
them often enough, became almost opaque.

[Illustration: The Smaller Flying-Fish]

The little Flying-Fish seated itself on its perch, and called out:

"It's nearly half-past three. We must rest. Everybody must rest. Let's
go to sleep." And it, too, pulled down its eyelids with its left paw,
buried its nose in a nightcap, and wrapped its wings round its head.

The Historian stretched out a hand, took the six hard-boiled eggs from
the Hen, dropped them through a hole in his beak, put the hand of the
clock back to zero, then he, too, shut his eyes.

"He sleeps," murmured Smaly and Redy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Smaly tiptoed across to the Historian.

[Illustration: DROPPED THEM THROUGH A HOLE IN HIS BEAK]

He was a curious sort of man, extremely thin, his face dominated rather
than adorned by an immense beak, which apparently he could not open; and
he had little twinkling eyes like an elephant's, which twinkled even
more when they were shut than when they were open. He wore a sort of
wrapper, trimmed with fur round the neck, sleeves, and legs. Neither
Redy nor Smaly could quite decide what the Historian was made of,
whether of Manchester pudding, of pie-crust, or gingerbread, and they
did not dare try and taste him for fear of waking him up.

[Illustration: WAS SITTING WITH ONE ANKLE ACROSS THE KNEE OF HIS OTHER
LEG]

The Historian was sitting with one ankle across the knee of his other
leg, and had rolled round his thin calf the manuscript upon which he had
been working. This manuscript was trained to roll itself up slowly round
his leg whilst he wrote it.

Smaly looked carefully all round him. The Hen was sleeping, the two Fish
slept also, the Historian slept profoundly without snoring. He had
always wanted to be able to snore; but he could never succeed because of
his beak, and therefore he had invented a sort of little suction-pump
run by a motor, which he kept beside him, and which snored quite as well
as a man.

Except Smaly and Redy every one was sleeping in the house of the
Historian. Outside in the sun-baked square the Chief Contractor, the
Confectioner, Mistigris, the Young Stork, and the Crow slept also,
heaped one upon the other in a casual manner, only the Despoiler, who
was always afraid that some one would find out that he was only made of
cardboard, never slept in public. He always retired to rest in a little
room under the roof of his house.

When Smaly had made quite sure that there was no one to see them, he
took Redy by the hand and began gently to unroll the Historian's
manuscript. Smaly and Redy began to read it to each other in low voices,
word by word, like children who go upstairs one leg at a time. This is
what they read:

[Illustration: THE DESPOILER, WHO WAS ALWAYS AFRAID THAT SOME ONE WOULD
FIND OUT THAT HE WAS ONLY MADE OF CARDBOARD, NEVER SLEPT IN PUBLIC]

"Thursday, half-past three.

"All buildings except the cherry-tart destroyed in the market square.

"The Prisoner crossed the river while it was dry.

"Rolled across the park of chocolate-moulds, crushing everything beneath
him.

"He then rolled on over the great kitchen, which was happily empty.

"(The two little people made of suet have been shut in with me.)

"Up past the public square, and the two little people tried to talk to
him.

"The Rats worked hard at keeping the prison together; but there are
cries everywhere.

"Every one is calling out 'The Prisoner is coming.'"

"How annoying this is," said Redy, "we're reading it backwards."

"Annoying," said a deep voice which came from the closed beak of the
Historian. He had forgotten that he was asleep, and lifting up his foot
he kicked the two inquisitive little people to the other end of the
room.

But the sight of the Flying-Fish and the Hen sleeping reminded him that
he, too, was not really awake, so he closed his eyes and did not move
again.

Smaly was able to go on unrolling the whole of the manuscript.



CHAPTER VIII

     Redy and Smaly read of the childhood of the Prisoner.


They read as follows:


"THE STORY OF DJORAK

"This is what I, the Historian, have been able to discover about the
life of Djorak, called The Prisoner, before he came to us. He told it to
me himself before he was placed in his prison of sugar-canes.

"He is a sailor.

"He has been tattooed.

"Nearly everything that has been tattooed upon him is very terrible; for
instance, one can read upon his shoulder-blade:

"'Eat meat raw if you can't get it cooked.'

"Indeed, he has himself avowed to me that he used to eat all sorts of
animals, rabbits, sheep, and even birds.

"On his other shoulder was written:

"'Avoid water like poison.'

"He had also inscribed about his person:

"'Drink your gin and whisky neat.'

"'Always have a hot drink in the evening.'

"'Reverence the sun and each of the winds as it blows.'

"On his breast he bore a heart cruelly transfixed with arrows.

"I gathered that from his childhood he was rough and disobedient. That
when as a little boy he used to go into the wood behind the house to
smoke, his mother always followed him and carefully presented him with
an ash-tray, yet he never made use of the tray; but kept it in his
pocket and scattered the ash all over the wood.

"Instead of cutting his toe-nails as we do with the help of a
long-handled pair of scissors and a telescope, he preferred to take each
nail off separately, trim it, and put it back, although this invariably
made his mother cry.

[Illustration: "INSTEAD OF CUTTING HIS TOE-NAILS AS WE DO WITH THE HELP
OF A LONG-HANDLED PAIR OF SCISSORS AND A TELESCOPE"]

[Illustration: SOME OF THE DANCES WERE VERY COMPLICATED

_Page 122_]

"He was so perverse that when any one asked him what the time was he
would always insist on telling it by the barometer, although he knew
perfectly well that the exact time is only to be found on the clock.

"He always marked out the tennis-court with green chalk, because he
maintained that the white looked too loud and left marks upon the grass.

"Evidently from his earliest youth he was of the stuff of which
criminals are made.

"When he grew up he married and became the father of three adorable
little girls."

At the mention of the three little girls Redy and Smaly stopped and
looked at each other.

"Those are the three little daughters of the Prisoner," whispered Redy.

Smaly went on reading:

"When his wife died," Smaly read, "he decided to give to his daughters a
good, if rather original education.

[Illustration: THE KING]

"Every alternate week he dressed them as boys, and during that week they
behaved as boys, and the next week they would become girls again. 'That
will accustom them to anything,' he used to say. 'Nothing in life
should be difficult to them after that.'

"Three young men fell in love with them, but unfortunately called on
their father to demand them in marriage one Monday morning when the
three girls were dressed as boys, and considered as such by their
father.

"The three young men were thrown out of the house with great violence by
the infuriated parent. One young man lost his hat, the second lost his
arms and his walking-stick, and the third lost one of his legs.

"Certainly Djorak's love for his daughters was very intense.

"It was this love which was his ruin.

"One day in the presence of the King of his country he boasted of being
the father of the three most beautiful young girls in his country.

[Illustration: THE KING'S DAUGHTER]

"What an imprudence! The King himself possessed a daughter whose beauty,
to say the least of it, was not remarkable, and the King, who was very
intelligent, was perfectly well aware of the fact. He was furious when
he heard Djorak's boast. He had him arrested and tried before the high
court, who decided that the punishment of death was barely sufficient
for such an audacious criminal.

"The punishment of death in Djorak's country is by beheading with the
sword; a criminal's head is only cut off once--but it is once and for
all."

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IX

     The elder Flying Fish loses one eye, and the Hen finds it:
     The Historian wakes up, and Smaly and Redy run out of the
     house: The Healer mends the paw of the Confectioner.


The Flying-Fish upon their perches now began to shake their wings and
then their paws, and last of all their heads.

"Are we really awake?" asked the elder Flying-Fish of the younger.

"It seems to me that we are more or less shaken up," replied the little
Flying-Fish.

The two Fish prepared themselves to fly forthwith once more upon their
arduous duties, for the Flying-Fish in this country act as sentinels and
look-out men, and also cry the hours publicly.

Just as they were about to set off the little Flying-Fish noticed that
the other had lost an eye.

"That must have been when I shook my head," exclaimed the elder
Flying-Fish with conviction, and both flew down on to the floor to look
for the missing eye. The Hen joined them in their search, and as she
fluttered down she managed to upset a glass retort from which an
opalescent vapour began to escape.

Soon the whole laboratory was filled with this vapour in layer upon
layer of different colours, from deep rose at the base up through violet
and pale green to a layer of no colour at all, which was succeeded by a
layer of blue.

Through the vapour Smaly and Redy could hear that the Fish and the Hen
were continuing their search for the lost eye. Sometimes they were quite
near the two little people, although no one could see any one else.

It was the Hen who finally discovered the lost eye.

"Why, it's still shut," said the younger Fish to the elder.

"Doubtless it must have fallen out before I had really shaken myself
awake," replied the elder.

Taking the eye from the hands of the Hen, the Fish held it in its cupped
paws to shake it, as one shakes a coin, to see whether it will come down
heads or tails. When it had been well shaken the eye was open.

The little Fish took the eye and replaced it in the elder Fish's head;
then they both flew out, making a buzzing noise like gigantic
bluebottles.

       *       *       *       *       *

The layers of coloured vapour now began to twirl about and mix like
wreaths of steam, and once again various objects in the room became
visible. The Hen saw that the big toes of the Historian had begun to
move, and knowing that these signs of wakefulness would presently mount
as far as his head, she hastened back to her little pots of white and
yellow paste.

Indeed, the Historian was already almost awake; he had put down his hand
and stopped the little snoring machine.

Smaly and Redy joined hands and ran out of the door.

       *       *       *       *       *

Directly they appeared in the square the Wigs seized hold of them and
ran them into the kitchen once more, which by now had been built up
again. Smaly and Redy began to hope that the evening was not far off,
for they were becoming more and more anxious to see the three girls.
They opened their mouths and began their little chant:

    We wish to have three girls,
    Fine, sweet----

But at this moment Redy noticed that the sun had not moved during all
the hours of the siesta. Nobody had explained to them that since all the
Wigs had been asleep the sun had naturally thought it would be
ill-mannered to continue his advance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Redy and Smaly stood alone in the kitchen wondering what to do, when the
door opened and a middle-sized man walked in, saying in a severe voice:

"Where the dickens have those idiots got to?"

[Illustration: THE HEALER]

Smaly hid himself behind Redy, and Redy hid herself behind a large
plant, which grew in one of the ornamental vases at the side of the
Chief Contractor's throne.

[Illustration: BORN WITH THE IDEA OF ONE DAY BEING A VERY BIG MAN]

The man who came in had evidently been born with the idea of one day
being a very big man. But he had been destined by his parents to become
a great Healer, and as soon as he had discovered this it occurred to him
that it would be better to be merely of medium height, so that he did
not have to make his back ache bending over the beds of sick people.
Therefore he at once left off growing, excepting in girth; and since he
always wished to ride about the country it was obvious that he did not
want his legs to be too strong, therefore he had small legs, enormous
shoulders, a hump both back and front, and a large stomach.

The Healer was accompanied by a page made in the shape of a drum. This
drum, besides having the head of a page and two solid little legs
mounted upon roller-skates, was hung about with an immense number of
instruments, with tubes of gum, sealing-wax, and candles. In one of his
hands he carried a funnel made of fish-glue, down which he poured
medicine into the mouths of sick people.

In the other he had a corkscrew for pulling out bad teeth.

"It's simply freezing in this horrible kitchen," said the Healer,
looking about him. "Where on earth have they got to?" Then turning to
the page he added: "Fetch my cloak out of the right-hand pannier."

He gave a shove to the drum, which skated off to the door where two
donkeys stood side by side. One donkey could certainly never have
supported the Healer, therefore he had to have two, and between them was
fastened a comfortable arm-chair. The page came back trailing a large
cloak behind him, made of the leaves of aromatic herbs.

When the Healer had put it on he looked like a mound entirely covered
with ivy. The bag which he carried slung on his right-hand side was
almost hidden by his cloak, so was that on his left.

Upon one of these, which contained little bottles and boxes, one could
just read the word "Medicines," and upon the other "Rewards to be taken
after medicine."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Healer continued to call out "Where are they, where are they?"
gazing everywhere through his large single eyeglass, which was so big he
could look through it with both eyes at once.

[Illustration: BETWEEN THEM WAS FASTENED A COMFORTABLE ARM-CHAIR]

He drew near to the plant behind which Smaly and Redy were hiding, and
just as it seemed as though he must discover them, they managed to hide
themselves beneath the folds of his cloak. They were only just in time.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Chief Contractor, the Crow, and the Despoiler, followed by several
Wigs, now came in.

"Where are they?" cried the Healer, turning towards them.

"Here is the first of them," answered the Chief Contractor, pointing to
the Confectioner, who was being supported by Mistigris and Papylick; and
Smaly and Redy, peeping out from beneath the cloak, began to understand
that the Healer was not searching for them, but for sick people.

"Dear me. It's his paw that's hurt," said the Healer, and indeed this
was not difficult to see, for the Stork had already laid down upon the
table the broken paw of the Confectioner.

The Healer lit a candle, took his sealing-wax, and set to work.

       *       *       *       *       *

Outside an agitated crowd had assembled.

Every one seemed to be crying and wailing.

Already in the crowd there were newsboys selling accounts of the latest
disaster to the Wigs.

In the great square hundreds of frenzied people, at the risk of losing
their shoes or their heads, danced frantically round and round.

"What misery, what misery," murmured every one in the kitchen, gazing at
the mask called "Supreme Sorrow," which the Chief Contractor had placed
over his face.

[Illustration: THERE WERE NEWSBOYS SELLING ACCOUNTS OF THE LATEST
DISASTER TO THE WIGS]

"Who on earth will rebuild the market square?" muttered the Young Stork,
gently closing up with his nail some little holes which he had
discovered in the back of the Despoiler.

[Illustration: THE HEALER HAD FINISHED HIS MENDING]

"Well, in the first place, who is going to draw the plans?" asked the
Despoiler.

"We don't need any plans," answered Papylick.

"They will draw the plans after they have put up the building," remarked
the Crow in a low voice to Smaly, whom he had discovered under the
Healer's cloak.

"If they have any plans they can quite well build up all the tarts and
puddings in the square again."

"The plans have all been burnt," announced the Chief Contractor.

"But in the first place no one knows whether the plans or the buildings
were made first," objected the Crow.

No one had anything to say to this, so every one remained silent, sunk
in the deepest perplexity. Papylick at last suggested that they should
ask the advice of the Mother of the Crow.

By this time the Healer had finished his mending.

The Confectioner, placing his hand against his mother-of-pearl forehead,
murmured, "I have a pain there."

"That must be the fever," said the Despoiler.

"Fever?" demanded the Healer sharply. "How can there be fever when I
have glued his paw on again? He hasn't got fever at all. It's worrying
that's given him a headache. What Wig worthy of the name is not worrying
at this moment when such a grave and terrible problem lies before us."



CHAPTER X

     The Wigs all imagine they suffer from headache: The Rats
     come to the Healer to be cured of the ravages of hot Soy:
     The Chief Contractor has to make himself ill eating the
     musical instruments.


Directly he heard the word "problem" the Chief Contractor put on the
mask of the "Mathematician."

"It is indeed atrocious, this problem that confronts us," continued the
Healer, "and who can there be amongst us who is not full of distress
when he considers that in the whole of our country there is no one who
can tell us whether we should begin by making the plans or the
buildings. I trust for the sake of your honour that you all have a
headache," and so saying the Healer walked towards the pair of donkeys.

"I, too, hope so," said the Chief Contractor, hastily slipping on the
mask called "Migraine."

[Illustration: MATHEMATICIAN]

"I, too, hope so," said his wife, who had just come in.

You, gentle reader, will find on another page a portrait of this lady,
who was extremely vain and dressed very extravagantly.

[Illustration: MIGRAINE]

She bore a great resemblance to a butterfly.

"We all hope so," said every one in the kitchen, and the crowd in the
square took up the remark, so that all over the town the Wigs were
sighing and placing their right hands upon their foreheads.

Soon they felt so bad that they all wetted their handkerchiefs in the
fountain of rose-water and wrapped them round their heads.

There was a great silence....

"I hope so, too," piped the Crow, a little late because he had only just
succeeded in putting on his spectacles.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Stork re-entered, pushing the Mother of the Crow in her
oyster-shell, and followed by the Healer. At once the Stork began to
pull out all the fish-bones which during his absence ill-natured persons
had stuck in the back of the Despoiler.

[Illustration: WRAPPED THEIR HANDKERCHIEFS ROUND THEIR HEADS]

[Illustration: "I, TOO, HOPE SO," SAID HIS WIFE, WHO HAD JUST COME IN]

But all thought of the grave problem to be discussed was forgotten, for
at this moment there entered many more victims of the travelling prison.
(Smaly, who up to now had not been so _very, very_ astonished at
anything he had seen or heard since he had passed through the chocolate
door, really was a little surprised when he saw these victims.)

The chief sufferers seemed to have been the Rats, whose business it was
to keep the sugar-cane forest well watered. Nearly all had one leg which
was much longer than the other, or a very long arm, or an elongated
nose, or a tail that went on for ever.

"They must have been walking upon hot Soy," whispered a Wig to Smaly.

This Wig was a Dwarf with a very large head, and he carried a
watering-can, out of which he perpetually drank a few drops.

Smaly and Redy, their eyes round with curiosity, questioned him eagerly.

"The Prisoner wanted to cripple us all for the rest of our days," said
the Dwarf, drinking a little more water, for he suffered from a
continual thirst.

"If you know what a match is," observed the Crow, settling his
spectacles, "you will very soon understand what has happened."

"Yes," continued the Dwarf, looking anxiously into the bottom of his
watering-can. "When the prison had crossed the square the Architect made
an attempt to save the plans."

"By the Architect he means the Confectioner," whispered Redy to Smaly.

[Illustration: NEARLY ALL HAD ONE LEG WHICH WAS MUCH LONGER THAN THE
OTHER, OR A VERY LONG ARM]

"He rushed after the Prisoner, crying out to him to stop; but the
Prisoner only looked at him with his big eyes and, ceasing for a second
to break the sugar-canes, seized hold of a little wax vesta. He stared
at the Architect with eyes full of hate, and cried, 'I think no more of
you than I do of this match.'"

[Illustration: HIS ELONGATED TAIL WAS TIED TO THE QUEUE OF HIS WIG]

"No, no," interrupted one of the Rats, "that's not how it happened at
all." He carried one long leg on a crutch, and his elongated tail was
tied to the queue of his wig. "That's not how it happened at all," he
repeated.

"Do you mean to tell me he did not show the match?" asked the Dwarf.

"Certainly not," replied the Rat.

Smaly asked the Rat what the Prisoner had really done.

The Rat, with fear in his eyes at the mere memory, made answer:

"He struck his match on a little box so that it sprang into flame, and
offered it to the Architect through the sugar-canes. The Architect, of
course, ran away, and in running he broke his leg."

[Illustration: "BUT ONLY LOOK AT OUR ARMS AND LEGS"]

"Ah! I'd forgotten that detail," said the Dwarf.

"A detail!" cried several of the Rats. "A detail! But only look at our
arms and legs."

"The Architect knew quite well," explained the first Rat, "that if the
match fell on the liquid Soy it would become hot immediately and
everything would start to grow--and only look at our legs and arms!"

Smaly began to understand why it was that the Confectioner walked about
on high pattens, and why the Rats wore boots. He saw that though all
these people owed their pleasant life to Soy because it made everything
grow without any trouble, yet they feared it, feared it even more than
they feared the flies which used to come when they were asleep and eat
the sugar of which their faces and hands were composed.

[Illustration: EVEN MORE THAN THEY FEARED THE FLIES]

       *       *       *       *       *

The Dwarf had pulled on a pair of boots without any soles, and placed a
large pot of flowers on his head, and he now began to imitate the Rats
watering the ground, affecting an extreme fear of wetting his feet, for
it was because their boots had melted in the hot Soy that the Rats' paws
had grown so long.

This imitation on the part of the Dwarf was interrupted by the sound of
trumpets, for the Rats and the Wigs had already begun to recover from
their emotion under the care of the Healer, and seizing hold of little
trumpets of chocolate and sugar they had begun to blow upon them.

[Illustration: REWARDS]

Some seized drums and violins and even bag-pipes, and it was impossible
to say whether any one was speaking or not, the noise was so loud.

"Take away the mouthpieces and the violin strings," commanded the Chief
Contractor.

"There aren't any," cried the Rats and the Wigs, hastily eating them
all.

Then they continued to play their instruments; but these no longer made
any noise.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Healer was by now attending to the last of the victims. He had
poured cordial into their mouths from the page's funnel, and they had
all become absolutely drunk. Then he peeled off from their legs the
strips of leather which had remained stuck to them, and cooled their
little paws with pistachio-nut ice. When he had finished he took out
from the sack labelled "Rewards" a little trumpet, a punchinello, a
drum, and a paper windmill, and handed them round.

[Illustration: THE DWARF HAD PULLED ON A PAIR OF BOOTS]

The Chief Contractor, however, refused to allow the noise to begin
again, and placing over his face a mask called "Calming Influences," he
followed the Healer, and every time when the latter gave as a reward an
instrument of music, the Chief Contractor ate it himself.

That night the Chief Contractor had a bad attack of indigestion, and it
was the poor Confectioner, with his mended leg, who had to make the
distribution of provisions.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XI

     The young girls dance for the Rats, then play a curious game
     of tennis: They fail to understand Smaly's point of view.


The convalescent Rats all sat in a row upon a circular bench, still
holding between their fingers the musical instruments which now lacked
mouthpieces.

To distract their thoughts some charming young girls of the country,
dressed in fine and beautifully embroidered stuffs, began to dance and
juggle for their amusement.

Some of the dances were very complicated and elaborate; but some, on the
other hand, were so simple that the performers had no need to exert
themselves at all. They merely seated themselves upon the ground and
sniffed luxuriously at jasmine and heliotrope blossoms. This dance was
so simple that it was not necessary for there to be any dancers.

After several of these simple and extremely comfortable dances the Rats
begged the young girls to play a game of tennis.

Accordingly eight of the most accomplished players arranged themselves
about the court, and at each corner they placed two teacups to hold the
balls.

Thus there were eight teacups.

The court was divided by a rose-coloured ribbon.

Four players arranged themselves on either side of the ribbon, each
standing behind the other.

The two leaders in each group held rackets made of vermicelli, while the
two couples standing behind held rackets made of stretched parchment.

The game was about to begin.

Two accordion-players began to play a quadrille.

[Illustration: THE ACCORDION-PLAYERS BEGAN]

The Rats licked their chops and, pulling at their moustaches, strutted
about full of joy.

Two chariots, filled with a pearly and transparent paste, were brought
up, and several dancers taking long pipes began rapidly to make balls of
it, and to blow them at the rackets; the paste seemed to be of some
sugary substance, and if they blew too hard the balls exploded without
leaving so much as a trace.

[Illustration: TENNIS]

       *       *       *       *       *

Several balls vanished in this way.

Then a pretty blue ball, spangled with gold, hit one of the vermicelli
rackets. The ball went right through the racket; but since it had lost
velocity, it hung motionless in mid-air.

While the ball was hanging thus, the two players who had the rackets of
parchment tossed up to decide which of the two should send the ball
back.

[Illustration: THE BALL HUNG UP THUS]

This fell to the part of the fair girl, who advanced with the stately
steps of a quadrille, while the ball hung awaiting her, and with one
short stroke she hit it towards one of the teacups.

The ball rushed forward undeviatingly; but, as it neared the cup, its
speed slackened so as not to break it. Finally it crept in as gently as
a baby is put in a cradle.

"For you, Vera, for you," cried the fair girl who had hit the ball.

"Thank you, my love," replied she who had been called Vera.

And thus the game went on; whenever a girl hit one of the balls hanging
in mid-air she cried out the name of the friend to whom she offered it.

By this ingenious method, without disputes or complications, the eight
cups received each its ball, and when the game was over Vera took her
ball, Dorothea hers, Simonetta hers, and so on, until each girl had her
ball.

They then all embraced, and twining their arms about each other began to
go back along the road down which they had arrived.

When they passed by Smaly, who was still standing at the door of the
kitchen, he demanded:

"But who won?"

The young girls were quite unable to understand what this question
meant. They smiled divinely at him with their delicately curved mouths,
then each one showed him her ball made of pearly sugar.



CHAPTER XII

     The Mother of the Crow tells of the life and death of Djorak
     in his own country.


All this time Smaly and Redy had remained in the great kitchen. Suddenly
they heard a voice say:

"It's confoundedly cold in this disgusting kitchen."

"Hullo, who is that?" asked Smaly and Redy together.

"It's I," replied the Mother of the Crow.

Peering about them they discovered her where she had been left forgotten
under the table, still sitting in her oyster-shell.

"I'm cold," she said again.

"What can we do for you?" exclaimed Redy pityingly.

"Yes, how can we help?" asked Smaly.

"Take me back to my tree of coral."

"They won't let us go out of here," exclaimed Redy and Smaly.

"Then put the Tea-Cosy over me," suggested the poor old Mother of the
Crow, whose teeth were chattering in her beak.

And so it was done.

There was no longer anything to see but a Tea-Cosy. The Mother of the
Crow was completely hidden.

"Now I'm nice and warm," said the Mother of the Crow.

It was really quite a new experience for Smaly and Redy to hold a
conversation with a Tea-Cosy. The Mother of the Crow was a great
chatterbox, and she knew a thing or two, and several things more after
that.

"What are you doing here?" asked the Tea-Cosy.

Redy and Smaly folded their hands, and began:

    We wish to have three girls,
    Fine, sweet----

"I know, I know," interrupted the Tea-Cosy, "but I meant what are you
doing here in the great kitchen?"

"We're waiting for the sun to go down," was the response.

"And you can't leave till then," replied the Tea-Cosy. "Then tell me a
story, a nice long story. I love long stories," added the Tea-Cosy with
enthusiasm.

[Illustration: TEA-COSY]

"Are you equally fond of telling long stories?" asked Redy and Smaly,
both seized with the same idea.

"I like it even better than gooseberry-fool and candy-sugar
caterpillars," replied the Tea-Cosy in a voice that trembled with
excitement.

[Illustration: KISIKA IN HER SEDAN-CHAIR

_Page 165_]

[Illustration: "WE'RE WAITING FOR THE SUN TO GO DOWN"]

"Then," said Smaly, "tell us the whole history of the Prisoner."

"Ah," replied the Tea-Cosy, "the Historian has the monopoly of the local
chronicles. We others can't even remember what happens in this country.
But I can tell you what the Prisoner's life was like before he came here
and was put in his sugar-cane prison."

"We know that they cut off his head," interrupted Smaly.

"Of course if you know all about it it's not worth while my telling you
the story, it will be so short," said the Tea-Cosy huffily.

Smaly managed to soothe the Tea-Cosy, which then told them the following
story:


"THE STORY OF DJORAK

"My story begins on a Saturday, which was also market-day. There was a
great crowd in all the streets. The chariot where Djorak was seated with
the Executioner could barely force a way through the mass of people.
Every one who had the leisure to do so followed the chariot of the
condemned; others, who had not, took the time out of their work, or
their luncheon hour. Servants out shopping followed it with their laden
baskets on their arms. Great ladies sent away their sedan-chairs so that
they might fight their way on foot, where no vehicles, however small,
could have passed, so dense was the crowd.

"When he arrived at the scaffold Djorak sat down. He was a little pale,
which is not to be wondered at, for it was enough to put any man out.

"The Executioner vested himself in his red robe, and taking out of his
chariot a small grindstone he began to sharpen the pair of scissors with
which he was going to cut off Djorak's head.

[Illustration: SERVANTS OUT SHOPPING FOLLOWED IT WITH THEIR LADEN
BASKETS ON THEIR ARMS]

"The Prisoner, for his part, was so upset when he saw the scissors being
sharpened that he neglected to respond to the farewell salutes of his
friends, which they wafted to him across the barrier of policemen that
surrounded the scaffold.

       *       *       *       *       *

"It seemed to Djorak that he must be in a dream.

"Quite little things of no importance from every period of his life
passed before the eyes of his imagination.

"He found himself thinking of a hen that his parents had possessed when
he was a very little boy. This hen had been extremely intelligent.

"One day she had found herself unable to break the shell of a snail, so
she had gone to the stock-pot and taken out a lettuce-leaf. She came
back, her bright eyes twinkling, laid the leaf down before the snail and
hid herself.

"Presently the snail began to shoot out his horns.

"Then his head.

"Then his whole body.

"It was exactly what the hen had wished to see.

"The hen gazed at it.

"The hen laughed.

"The hen opened her beak.

"The hen gobbled the snail up.

"This and equally ridiculous happenings passed through the Prisoner's
brain. He remembered his mother, and how she used thoughtfully to put an
ash-tray in his pocket when----"

[Illustration: HE THRUST HIS FACE INTO ROSES COVERED WITH DEW]

"We know all about the ash-tray," said Smaly and Redy together.

"Very well, very well, I'll leave out the ash-tray," said the Tea-Cosy.
"But do you know also how when he wanted his mother to do anything in
particular for him, he thrust his face into roses covered with dew?"

"No, we don't know that."

"Well," continued the Tea-Cosy, "when he withdrew his face it would be
covered with dew from the roses, and he would say to his mother:

"'Only look how I am crying....'

"Djorak thought of this and of a thousand other things. He had an
excellent memory.

"Meanwhile the moment of his death was approaching.

[Illustration: THE EXECUTIONER BANDAGED HIS EYES]

"The Executioner bandaged his eyes, then turned towards the crowd and,
according to custom, demanded:

"'Has any one in this town any objection to the way in which I am about
to employ this magnificent pair of scissors?'

"The Chief of Police answered, also according to custom: 'Have the
scissors been sharpened according to rule?'

"The crowd merely cried out, 'Can they cut?'

"The Executioner thereupon took several old newspapers and, holding
them out before the crowd, began to cut them into fine strips. Next he
took some old cardboard boxes, which he treated in the same way. Finally
he cut up whole logs of wood into thin circles. In order that every one
might see, he did these things in front of him, behind him, to the right
and to the left.

"These experiments seemed to satisfy the crowd; but the Chief of Police
still hesitated. Finally he approached the Executioner and, leaning
forward, said in his ear:

"'Excuse me, I beg of you, my dear friend, if I seem indiscreet; but I
am merely doing my duty. The King has particularly commanded that all
the rules shall be observed. Therefore you will understand that I am
bound to ask you three questions to assure myself that you really have
the strength to use these scissors successfully.

"'1. Have you eaten three hard-boiled eggs this morning?

"'2. Have you eaten three rashers of bacon this morning?

"'3. Have you played a game of football this morning?'

"To each question the Executioner replied with a nod of the head.

"'Then get on with it,' said the Chief of Police.

"The Executioner raised the scissors towards the sky, turning himself
about to all points of the compass. Then with a brisk movement he
lowered the scissors, opened them and shut them again, and the head of
Djorak tumbled to the ground."

[Illustration: NEXT HE TOOK SOME OLD CARDBOARD BOXES]

"But that's the same Djorak who is here in the prison of the
sugar-canes," interrupted Smaly, who in spite of his habit of being
astounded at nothing could not help showing a little astonishment.

[Illustration: OPENED THEM AND SHUT THEM AGAIN]

"Don't be so impatient," replied the Mother of the Crow imperturbably.
"You'll understand in a moment or two. Now I have already told you that
Djorak had a very good memory. At the moment when his head was falling
he remembered that he had always heard one doesn't die immediately when
one's head is cut off.

"It was extremely fortunate for him that he remembered this detail.

"He hastened to pick up his head, and he jumped off the scaffold holding
it under his arm."

"Dear me," said Smaly and Redy.

The Mother of the Crow continued her story imperturbably:

"When the crowd saw this man in such a peculiar condition they began to
fly in all directions. An indescribable panic followed. The square
rapidly emptied. Soon there was no one left saving a few people who had
been knocked down. The crowd ran and ran; but the beheaded Prisoner ran
harder still. Soon he was running by himself; all the townspeople had
taken shelter.

"Djorak and his head had a very precise end in view in running thus. It
was important both for the head and for Djorak to arrive as soon as
possible at the house of a certain Magician whom he knew.

"He arrived, rushed in and banged the door behind him. The Magician,
unfortunately, was out, only his young son was there, and although this
youth understood perfectly how urgent it was that Djorak's head should
be fastened on again as soon as possible, he could do nothing to help
him.

"'Let's consult the Brindled Rabbit,' suggested the Head.

"The Brindled Rabbit being questioned played several strains on a harp
of silver and crystal, then he withdrew into an old comfit-box and shut
the lid down on himself.

"After a few seconds he opened the lid again, his eye became visible,
and his little paw shoved a folded slip of paper through the opening.

[Illustration: HIS YOUNG SON WAS THERE]

"The Son of the Magician read as follows:

"1 Three.

"2 Three.

"3 Three.

[Illustration: THE BRINDLED RABBIT]

"He at once tore up to the third story of the house. There he counted
three shelves, and from the third shelf he took the third little bottle
and ran downstairs again.

[Illustration: HIS LITTLE PAW SHOVED A FOLDED SLIP OF PAPER THROUGH THE
OPENING]

"'What must he do with it?' asked the youth, of the Rabbit; but the box
remained shut; there was no answer.

"'I must drink it,' replied the Head.

[Illustration: THEN THEY SANG A COMIC DUET]

"'But you've no stomach,' cried the Son of the Magician.

"'Put my head back on my neck,' suggested Djorak, 'then there will at
least be a stomach beneath my head.'

"The Son of the Magician at once placed Djorak's head back in its proper
place with one hand, while with the other he tipped the little bottle
between its lips.

"The effect was immediate.

"Directly the liquor trickled down his throat Djorak felt himself as
well as ever. He danced about with joy. He even played a game of
leapfrog with the Son of the Magician, then they sang a comic duet, of
which I cannot remember the words. The first lines went something like
this:

    Every one who has lost his head,
    Must have had a jolly bad memory.

"But Djorak had a good memory, and so he had kept his head.

[Illustration: Then they questioned a Black Toad]

"During their song the Brindled Rabbit crept out of his comfit-box. He
could not stay in it for laughing at the comic song.

"Djorak and the Son of the Magician begged him to advise them what to do
next; but the Rabbit only held its sides with laughter, and made no
reply.

"Then they questioned a Black Toad who came crawling out of a pot of
treacle where he lived, and began to lick himself dry with a fine,
forked tongue.

"The Rabbit hopped up to him wishing to share in the treacle; but the
Black Toad flew into a rage. It was a worse rage than even that of the
Chief Contractor when we have not placed ourselves symmetrically," added
the Mother of the Crow, remembering that Smaly and Redy had seen the
Contractor in a temper.

"Then," she continued, "the Son of the Magician asked the Black Toad in
what country Djorak should take refuge, making the suggestion that they
should send him to a green country where the clouds were all white and
the trees mauve.

[Illustration: AND FISH IN THE LITTLE RIVER IN THE AFTERNOON]

"The Black Toad shot forward to within an inch of the Rabbit's nose; but
without advancing a step, for his legs suddenly expanded to allow him to
do so.

"'I hate mauve and white,' he snapped, and shot back again.

[Illustration: THE THIN LONG ARM OF THE HISTORIAN]

"The Rabbit replied peacefully, 'How about a rose-coloured country,
where the people dance as they bake the bread?'

"'I would like that,' said Djorak.

"'I don't doubt it,' said the Brindled Rabbit.

"'Or would you like a country where they hunt butterflies all the
morning, and fish in the little river in the afternoon?' asked the
Rabbit.

"'Yes, yes, that will do,' replied Djorak, who was anxious to get away.

"'He is a misanthrope,' declared the Toad, retreating towards its pot of
treacle.

"'Oh, kind Toad, do tell me where I ought to go,' begged Djorak.

"'Get into this little glass tube,' replied the Toad.

"Djorak obeyed.

"This tube was no bigger than a penholder; when Djorak was comfortably
settled inside of it the Black Toad put one end of it into his mouth and
blew.

"He blew so hard that Djorak was shot right into our country. Then----"

But here Redy interrupted the Mother of the Crow. She gave a little
shake to the Tea-Cosy and whispered rapidly what she had noticed taking
place on the other side of the public square.

This is what she had seen.

From one of the holes made for the Flying-Fish Redy perceived the thin
long arm of the Historian sticking out, the finger pointing accusingly
towards the door of the kitchen, where Smaly, Redy, and the Mother of
the Crow were seated.

The Mother of the Crow understood the significance of this at once. It
meant she would not be permitted to carry her story any further. The
monopoly of the chronicles of the country belonged to the Historian.

The Mother of the Crow had to hold her tongue.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER XIII

     Smaly and Redy are taken to see the Fleet: The Prisoner
     arrives and the Wigs fly in terror: Smaly and Redy at last
     have speech with the Prisoner.


At this moment a crowd of Wigs ran in at the door crying:

"The fleet has arrived, the fleet has arrived."

"The fleet?" asked Smaly. "I haven't seen any sea."

"There isn't any sea, or any water in the river," replied the Mother of
the Crow.

"Do you imagine," demanded the Young Stork, "that a nation like ours is
going to deprive itself of the splendid luxury of a fleet simply because
chance has decreed that the ocean should not come as far as its
frontiers?"

"Besides, a fleet's so ornamental," said the Mother of the Crow.

"Oh, you're there, are you?" said the Young Stork. "I have been asked to
beg you to assist at the grand inauguration ceremony of the fleet."

Smaly and Redy begged the Young Stork to allow them to accompany him.

The Stork, who was always charitably employed at the task of extracting
fish-bones from the back of the Despoiler, and so was accustomed to
doing kindnesses, promised to beg for this favour for them from the
Chief Contractor. Then the Stork departed, taking with him the Mother of
the Crow, huddled up in her oyster-shell.

[Illustration: EXTRACTING FISH-BONES FROM THE BACK OF THE DESPOILER]

       *       *       *       *       *

After a quarter of an hour four more Wigs arrived in the kitchen;
dangling from a long stick, they bore a large copper cauldron.

[Illustration: THEY BORE A LARGE COPPER CAULDRON]

"It is permitted that you should assist at the ceremony," they announced
to Smaly and Redy. "Get into the pot."

Smaly and Redy climbed in, full of joy, and Smaly whispered low to his
little wife, "They are still afraid that the sun will melt us, and that
we shall cover their beautiful lawn with grease."

"Take this umbrella," continued the Wig who was the spokesman, offering
them a mushroom. "This will protect you from the hot rays of the sun;
and whatever you do don't lean over the edge of the cauldron."

Then they set off.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fleet was already arranged upon a long platform painted blue. The
vessels were made of pink and white marzipan, and all had two masts of
cane and little silken flags. A funnel of gilt paper was placed in the
middle of each ship.

[Illustration: THE ADMIRAL WAS A TRITON]

"But there's no smoke coming out of the funnels," objected Smaly.

"I know, I know," replied the Chief Contractor impatiently, and turning
he ordered: "Admiral, put the smoke in place," and the Admiral at once
arranged a charming little puff of smoke made of cotton-wool at the top
of each of the forty funnels.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Admiral was a Triton, whom the Wigs had made themselves. They had
set their heart on possessing this little animal; but since they had no
sea from which to catch one, they had done their best to model one from
an authentic picture.

The Triton was made of barley-sugar and almond paste.

[Illustration: THE WHITE DOLPHIN WITH PINK EYES]

The other personages who had arrived with the fleet were the White
Dolphin with pink eyes, and a young but very despondent Syren, a black
Sea-Dog, and a large Sea-Horse, which seemed almost mad; also an
extremely curious fish, which brought its own food in a glass jar.

All these creatures had asked nothing better than to leave the sea,
which had become unbearable for them during the past few years because
of the submarines. All of them were very happy at the chance of
obtaining employment in a country as solid and sweet as that of the
Wigs. Their business here would be to look after the fleet. Already they
knew all the ships quite well by sight, and that was all that was
needed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Chief Contractor placed over his face the "Master-Mask," and held
out his hand, which held one of the long bamboo spoons.

He announced in a solemn voice:

"We, the Chief Contractor and the Wigs, declare the fleet of our country
to consist of forty ships, here drawn up in line, and the Triton is
declared by us to be Admiral, Painter, Rope-maker, and Sugar-repairer.
So be it."

"So be it, and long live the marzipan fleet," cried all the citizens,
who had never seen the sea.

"Is there really no water anywhere?" asked Smaly a little indiscreetly.

The Chief Contractor leant towards Smaly, who was still sitting in his
cauldron, and whispered low in his ear:

"Tell the truth, do you really think that that fleet needs any water?"

[Illustration: AN EXTREMELY CURIOUS FISH]

"I am certain of it," replied Smaly imperturbably, leaning over the edge
of the cauldron towards the Chief Contractor, whereupon the Stork gently
pushed him back again.

The Chief Contractor was in a great state of consternation and stood
gazing from one to the other of the important officials of the Wig
Republic as though for assistance, while even the crowd began uneasily
to feel the effect of his dismay.

Suddenly the Chief Contractor noticed that the eye slung round the neck
of the Crow was winking at him to approach. He accordingly went towards
the Mother of the Crow, who spoke into his ear.

Beneath his mask the Chief Contractor's mouth began to smile. Quickly
putting on the mask of "Good-Humour," he announced:

"A band of our Rats will each morning copiously water our fleet, for,
believe me, no fleet is quite complete without water."

Here the Crow took two steps towards the Chief Contractor, and putting
on his ebony spectacles, whispered a few words to him. The Chief
Contractor thereupon added in a loud voice:

"They will not use the water of Soy."

Suddenly he perceived it was necessary to change the mask of
"Good-Humour" for that of "Anger," for several audacious Wigs were busy
writing their names upon the hulls of the white ships; but he had no
time to give vent to his just indignation, for upon all sides the
well-known cry arose:

"The prison is coming, the prison is coming."

[Illustration: "A BAND OF OUR RATS WILL EACH MORNING COPIOUSLY WATER OUR
FLEET"]

There was no doubt about it; the Prisoner must have heard the
enthusiastic shouts of the crowd, and in his mad rage was now bearing
down upon the fleet. Some of the bravest Wigs managed to save a few
ships, many more were weeping; but the largest number did not wait to
see what was happening, but took to their heels.

Soon Smaly and Redy were almost alone in their cauldron. The forest of
sugar-canes was arriving, preceded by the little army of Rats with
watering-cans.

When the Prisoner was near enough to hear them, Smaly and Redy cried
out:

[Illustration: WIGS WERE BUSY WRITING THEIR NAMES]

"Djorak, Djorak, stop a minute."

When he heard real voices, human voices, Djorak paused. His rage fell
from him like a cloak.

"Djorak, Djorak."

"Who calls my name?" asked the Prisoner in a husky voice, a voice which
had not been used for many years.

"It's Smaly and Redy who call you. We want to help you," added Redy.

When he heard a woman's voice Djorak's thoughts flew to the three
daughters he had lost, and his madness fell away from him. He drew
nearer to the two little people by breaking the sugar-canes in front of
him. They could now see him, and he could see them. The Rats lay down to
rest, so no new sugar-canes sprang up to bar the way.

"Will you save me?" demanded Djorak.

"It will be the first thing we shall think of when we are allowed out of
this cauldron."

"Cauldron?" repeated the Prisoner. "Cauldron? And when will you be
allowed out of it?"

"When the sun goes down," cried Redy; "and we will give you back your
daughters."

In his profound joy Djorak all but lost consciousness.

[Illustration: A RED FLAG]

"But while we're waiting," remarked Smaly, "tell us how came it about
that you were put in this prison."

But Redy interrupted to say, "First let's agree on a place where we can
all meet, and what sign we shall tell it by."

So they arranged that the Prisoner should turn his prison in the
direction of a red flag, which Smaly would tie to a tree near the
frontier.


THE PRISONER'S STORY

"I was hurled into this country," said the Prisoner, "by the powerful
breath of a Black Toad. At first I was not at all badly received. I was
able to render several services to the Wigs, and was especially useful
to them in building their walls of gingerbread.

"Unfortunately, however, the Chief Contractor is a fool. Without his
idiotic conceit this country would be happy and prosperous, but you have
undoubtedly seen for yourself what a ridiculous creature he is. Only to
give you one instance, I will tell you what happened that made him put
me in this prison of sugar-canes.

"One day some feather-headed person or other began describing a bridge
to him. The Chief Contractor insisted on having the nature of a bridge
fully explained to him, and next day he caused a canal to be dug right
across the middle of the country; but all the water that they poured
into it disappeared at once, for it soaked away through the soil of
sugar and flour.

"However, in spite of the fact that there was no water in the canal, he
caused the bridge of nougat to be built across it; the bridge which I
have destroyed a hundred times passing over it in my prison.

[Illustration: "I HAVE DESTROYED A HUNDRED TIMES PASSING OVER IT IN MY
PRISON"]

"It was forbidden under the most heavy penalties to cross the canal,
although it was dry, by any other means than by way of the bridge. I had
to conform to this stupid law, in spite of the fact that the nougat
cracked beneath my feet each time I crossed the bridge.

[Illustration: "I WAS CAUGHT STEPPING RIGHT OVER THEIR SILLY OLD DRY
CANAL WITH ONE STRIDE"]

"However, one evening I was caught stepping right over their silly old
dry canal with one stride.

[Illustration: THE MANUFACTURER OF CARDBOARD BOXES]

"The Despoiler's rage, although he hid it from me, was deep and
terrible. Doubtless that very evening my doom was agreed upon, for the
next morning when I awoke I was surrounded by this barrier of
sugar-canes," and the Prisoner wrung his hands and seemed in an impotent
rage. He went on jumping up and down, and gesticulating, for his madness
had caught him again.

Once more he began to break the sugar-canes in his frenzy.

At that moment Smaly and Redy saw the Despoiler pass by, followed by the
Young Stork, carrying a pair of nippers.

They were on their way to a secret meeting with the Manufacturer of
Cardboard Boxes.

The Despoiler seemed to be literally shaking with anger. The Young Stork
had been forced to tell him that he stood in urgent need of certain
repairs to his back, and the Despoiler, therefore, found himself in the
humiliating situation of having to make a purchase from the Manufacturer
of Cardboard Boxes.

It added to the Despoiler's vexation to have been seen by the two little
humans. He stopped and looked at the sun, of which only a small piece of
the rim was visible.

The Despoiler turned towards the Rats and, pointing to the cauldron,
called out angrily:

"Take that and run with it to the frontier and empty it out there."

And thus it was done.

[Illustration: THE PICNIC WHICH FOLLOWED WAS AN UNFORGETTABLE REPAST

_Page 177_]



CHAPTER XIV

     The three daughters of the Prisoner are installed in their
     gardens.


So Smaly and Redy found themselves on the frontier of the Wigs' country.
They were so tired from having seen and done so many things during the
day that hardly had they arrived than they fell sound asleep amid the
myrtle-bushes which grew between the rocks.

When they awoke they perceived just within the frontier (which was
indicated by boundary stones made of sugar-candy) the three gardens that
had been prepared for the daughters of the Prisoner.

"The Wigs keep their word anyway," said Smaly and Redy to each other, as
they rubbed their eyes; then they looked at each other and saw that
their beaks had disappeared.

You may imagine how happy this made them! Never would they have dared to
return to their own village with those enormous beaks stuck in the
middle of their faces, even though they were invisible to all save the
birds and each other.

They stood up and held hands, and to attract the attention of the Wigs
began to chant:

    We wish to have three girls,
    Fine, sweet, pink, and good----

But a sentinel who looked like a dragon-fly, and carried a lantern and
a megaphone, shouted to them to be silent.

The Confectioner, who was busy giving the final directions to the
gardeners, struck an attitude and recited:

    "Here plays the grasshoppers' band,
    Here for days together shines the sun,
    Here the birds wear hats and spurs,
    And the worms spectacles and swords.
    Here we don't know bricks,
    Or wood, or stone, or steel,
    Here we eat plates and saucers,
    Here we----"

"We know all about that," said Smaly and Redy together.

"What do you know?" asked the Confectioner suspiciously.

"How funny you all are," answered Smaly.

"At least we are not made of grease and suet," retorted the Confectioner
in a tone of mingled pride and disgust.

       *       *       *       *       *

The gardens were arranged after the same principle as the windows in the
house of the Historian. They were not really separated by walls; but
since one speaks with one's mouth and sees with one's eyes, there was at
about the height where the young girls' faces would be a plank of nougat
separating the gardens, and since it was certain that sometimes the
girls would sit down, there was another plank a little lower.

There were altogether four planks, for as the three girls were of
different ages and heights, the planks which would have prevented one
girl from seeing her neighbour would not have prevented the next.

How ingenious this was! It was as well thought out as the two openings
for the Flying-Fish in the ceiling of the Historian's house, a big one
for the big fish, and a smaller one for the smaller fish!

In these gardens the lawns were made of angelica, and the flower-beds of
jam tarts, and at the end of each garden there was a little house to
sleep in at night, or in the heat of the afternoon.

[Illustration: A SENTINEL WHO LOOKED LIKE A DRAGON-FLY]

When all was ready the three daughters of the Prisoner were led in. The
ceremony was extremely simple. Mistigris was the first to arrive, and
touching his lips with his ring, he thus addressed the two little people
perched upon their rock.

[Illustration: THE GARDENS WERE ARRANGED AFTER THE SAME PRINCIPLE AS THE
WINDOWS IN THE HOUSE OF THE HISTORIAN]

"You are now about to see the three girls; but whatever you do don't
forget they are ignorant of the history of their father, our prisoner.
They were sent here by a certain Black Toad, the same creature who blew
Djorak into our country. This Toad made out that it was doing a very
charitable action, and upon a label round the neck of each young girl
he had written their names and tastes. On the first label was: 'Number
I, Kisika Djorak. Blue eyes, amiable disposition, fond of marrowfat peas
and of getting up late.' On the second label was: 'Number II, Laptitza
Djorak. Brown eyes, devoted to cherry tartlets and cheese soufflé. Gazes
at the stars and dreams about a Prince Charming.' And on the third
label: 'Number III, Fritilla Djorak. Green eyes, adores fruit,
particularly tangerine oranges and nectarines. Dreams as much as Number
II; but has very modern notions as well.'"

When Mistigris had finished reading out the labels a large sedan-chair
appeared, carried by several Wigs, among them Papylick and the Young
Stork. The door of the chair opened and Kisika stepped into the first
garden.

Kisika certainly had beautiful blue eyes, soft hair, and a
pink-and-white skin. She was so beautiful that one would have taken her
for a picture rather than for a real girl.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next person to arrive was the Despoiler, who wished to make sure for
himself that the planks were at the right height before he permitted
Papylick to approach with the second sedan-chair.

The young girls had not lived in these chairs, they were simply carried
from place to place in them.

Kisika had lived in the house of the Crow.

Laptitza, who was now brought into the second garden, had lived in the
house of Papylick. Laptitza also was very beautiful, with a pale skin
and eyes like a deer.

[Illustration: A LITTLE RED FEATHER, WHICH SHE HAD PICKED UP IN THE
MARKET-PLACE]

Every one now awaited the arrival of Fritilla, the third daughter; but
when she stepped out of her sedan-chair she beckoned to the Flying-Fish,
who had been pursuing her for some days past, and handed it a little
red feather, which she had picked up in the market-place. This feather
was of great importance to the Flying-Fish, which thanked Fritilla many
times and swore to serve her always. Then Fritilla was led into the
garden. She had yellow hair and green eyes, and her beauty seemed at
first a little sad and cold; but on looking into her eyes you saw that
they were at once tender and ardent.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the three girls were installed in their gardens of angelica and jam
tarts the Wigs arranged themselves in a long line. Then the little door
that led into Kisika's garden was opened, and the Chief Contractor,
placing over his face the mask called "Stoic Melancholy," approached her
and said:

"Kisika, farewell. I beg you to accept this large pot of Soy in memory
of me. There's enough to last you all your life."

[Illustration: NEXT THE DESPOILER APPROACHED]

Next the Despoiler approached, followed by the Young Stork.

"Farewell, Kisika," he said. "I make you a present of this ring, which
will enable your voice to carry to great distances, and will also stop
all tiresome and needless voices of others."

The Confectioner next came forward and said, "Farewell, Kisika, my
present is two bamboo spoons and two knives. Be happy in your garden;
it's made of the best confectionery."

The Crow, putting on his spectacles, said, "Farewell, Kisika, I beg that
you will accept these spectacle-lenses in memory of me. They are made of
solid ebony, and some day when you have reflected enough on life you
will have them mounted on glass rims and will always put them on before
you speak. Farewell."

The Historian's gift consisted of six hard-boiled eggs, which he handed
to Kisika, saying, "Accept my humble offering, Kisika. These eggs are
home-made. Myself, I never eat anything else."

Mistigris said, "Farewell, Kisika, take this little bow and arrow made
of fish-bones. Perhaps it will amuse you to play with them."

And the Young Stork added quickly, "Adieu, Kisika, take this pair of
pincers to pluck from your heart the darts which may lodge in it."

The wife of the Chief Contractor presented Kisika with a beautiful fan
made of paper lace; and the Healer gave her a little sugar trumpet, of
which the mouthpiece was this time intact.

The Dwarf with the big head gave her a little watering-can to drink out
of during the summer.

All the crews of the marzipan fleet, and the Rats, came in their turn to
offer each a little souvenir.

Presently there was such an immense crowd that it seemed as though the
ceremony must go on for days, since the same things had to be repeated
three times, once before each garden.

Every one was there.

The Grasshoppers.

The Birds with hats.

The Worms with spectacles.

The Sponges with shining eyes.

The Pigs from the great kitchen.

The Flying-Fish and Lizards.

The Dancers who had played at tennis.

The Accordion-Players.

[Illustration: THE WIFE OF THE CHIEF CONTRACTOR PRESENTED KISIKA WITH A
BEAUTIFUL FAN MADE OF PAPER LACE]

In the end it would have needed pantechnicons to move all the presents.
When the ceremony was over the Wigs departed in a long procession,
singing in their sweet voices:

    "Here plays the grasshoppers' band,
    Here for days together shines the sun...."



CHAPTER XV

     Smaly and Redy effect the rescue of the three young girls:
     Djorak joins them and they all partake of a delightful
     picnic: Smaly blows the Soy powder over the country of the
     Wigs: Then the six friends go home.


Smaly and Redy had been watching with all their eyes, and they observed
that two sentinels, instead of taking their departure with the crowd,
stayed behind to guard the three sides of the garden which were in the
country of the Wigs. The fourth side gave upon the frontier and was
marked off by a long ridge of rock, several feet in height. It was from
this rock that Smaly and Redy sat looking into the gardens. They could
have already spoken to the three girls, but Smaly advised that they
should wait until the time of the next siesta had arrived.

       *       *       *       *       *

From their rock Smaly and Redy could see quite clearly the roof of the
Historian's house. Directly they saw the Flying-Fish enter to announce
the time for siesta Smaly meant to speak to the young girls.

"Let us hang our red flag up there," said Redy to Smaly, pointing to an
old tree.

[Illustration: DIRECTLY THEY SAW THE FLYING-FISH ENTER]

"Are you managing affairs or am I?" demanded Smaly severely.
"Nevertheless," he added more kindly, "I will consider any advice you
have to give, and may follow it ... if it is good...."

[Illustration: THEIR TWO LITTLE HEADS APPEARED SIDE BY SIDE]

Now the Flying-Fish began to fly low over the town, and two of them
entered the house of the Historian.

The whole country slept. It was evident that even the two sentinels
slept heavily.

When Smaly and Redy were sure that all was safe, they crept forward to
the edge of the rock. Their two little heads appeared side by side
before the astonished eyes of the three young girls, and since their
beaks had disappeared for good and all, the two little people were
certain they would make a good impression. And, indeed, the three young
girls saw at once that these were the heads of human beings, real human
beings, not creatures made of sugar and cake.

When they heard these two human beings speak, the young girls were
seized with intense emotion. Smaly and Redy whispered:

"We've come to save you."

Kisika, Laptitza, and Fritilla held up their arms towards them, while
the tears ran down their cheeks for joy. They all began to speak at
once; but Smaly and Redy each placed a finger on their lips with a
mysterious air, to command silence.

"We are going to take you away with us," whispered Redy.

"Silence," said Smaly, standing on the point of his toes to appear
taller. And he continued, "No one must speak until Kisika, Laptitza, and
Fritilla have each made a little stairway by which they can climb up to
where we are."

"What a splendid idea," cried Redy.

Smaly took no notice of her; but said, with an air of great importance,
"Let the young girls begin at once to make the stairways."

       *       *       *       *       *

So during three days the young girls were busy making the stairs by
which they would mount to freedom. During the siesta on the third day
Smaly and Redy made trial of these stairs and found them perfectly firm.
It was then that Smaly climbed into the dead tree which Redy had pointed
out to him, and tied to it the big red handkerchief which was to be the
signal to Djorak.

[Illustration: SMALY STANDING; ON THE POINT OF HIS TOES]

Smaly and Redy were both of them certain that Djorak was in his right
mind once more, for during the three days the sugar-cane prison had not
budged; but stayed still as if awaiting their signal, and directly the
red flag fluttered in the breeze Redy cried out:

"Look, look, the prison is coming."

"Of course it is," said Smaly, as though he had never had any doubts.

And indeed the prison was rushing furiously towards them.

Smaly stayed up in the tree to watch, but Redy had her attention
distracted by the Red Flying-Fish, which was sitting watching her.

Suddenly the fish flew away; but it soon reappeared followed by a great
flock of other fish. Each fish carried something good, tarts or cakes or
fruits. The Red Flying-Fish carried a large hat and mantle in its claws.
The fish all deposited their offerings at the feet of Redy, and from his
tree Smaly looked on with great pleasure.

       *       *       *       *       *

Towards evening the forest of sugar-canes came crashing into the three
little gardens. Kisika, Laptitza, and Fritilla ran up their stairways
and fell into Redy's arms; but Smaly was not going to waste any time on
sentiment, to which he felt he could give way later. He ran down the
centre staircase, seized one of the boxes of Soy which the Chief
Contractor had given to the young girls, presented the other two to
Djorak, and then, without waiting to listen to the Prisoner's
exclamations of joy, bade him follow him.

[Illustration: SO DURING THREE DAYS THE YOUNG GIRLS WERE BUSY MAKING THE
STAIRS]

[Illustration: THE RED FLYING-FISH CARRIED A LARGE HAT AND MANTLE IN ITS
CLAWS]

He sat the Prisoner down on a rock and drew out of his pocket a pair of
scissors and cut his wild and streaming hair, and then proceeded to
shave his beard, which was no less long. Then both of them, carrying as
many of the presents as they could, joined Redy and the three young
girls.

       *       *       *       *       *

The emotion of this father on meeting once again his three daughters was
a very moving spectacle. Djorak, who had such a good memory, could not
forget that he had been beheaded, and that without his own great
presence of mind and the wise counsels of the Brindled Rabbit, he would
never have seen his daughters any more.

       *       *       *       *       *

The picnic which followed was an unforgettable repast. Djorak looked
very presentable in the hat and cloak brought by the grateful
Flying-Fish.

In the first place every one was filled with joy, and in the second the
three young girls had been brought up in the Wig country thoroughly to
appreciate the most delicious pastries ever made. They soon discovered
that the Soy powder was no longer of any use to them, for its magic
properties failed once it was over the borders of the Wig country, in
the same way that the Wigs themselves would have melted away directly
they passed the frontier. Therefore the six happy people seated amidst
the fragrant heather and myrtle began to ask what use Smaly meant to
make of the three big boxes of Soy.

[Illustration: CARRYING AS MANY OF THE PRESENTS AS THEY COULD]

"Patience," was all Smaly would reply when he was questioned, and they
had to have patience until the evening, when a south-east wind sprang
up.

Smaly took the first box and threw the contents into the air. The wind
took the powder and blew it over the town of the Wigs; and this Smaly
did with the other two boxes as well.

"What is going to happen next?" asked Redy.

Smaly pointed to some clouds which were piling up, and replied
sententiously, "Rain."

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: WIGS THEMSELVES WOULD HAVE MELTED AWAY DIRECTLY THEY
PASSED THE FRONTIER]

And indeed the rain began to fall. The Soy powder mingling with the
water had a magical effect, the effect that Smaly had hoped for; the
whole country began to sprout, trees, houses, grass, walls, lawns,
everything began to grow and grow, just as the sugar-cane prison had
done when the Rats watered it with the liquid from the reservoir of Soy.

       *       *       *       *       *

As the six happy friends started out on their journey they could see, by
looking behind them, the houses and plants growing and growing. The Wigs
were evidently in a terrible state of alarm. They called frantically to
each other, they hung out of the windows, they descended by long ropes
into the streets. It was the most tremendous day in the history of the
Wig country; but there were no casualties, and when the Confectioner had
built another flight to their staircases, they were just as happy in
their tall houses as they had been when they lived in those of two
stories. It was a little more tiring for them to have to climb so high,
but then what a splendid view they had into each other's attics!

As to Smaly and Redy, once more returned to the world of men and women
like ourselves, they installed Kisika, Laptitza, and Fritilla in the
three little bedrooms prepared for them before ever the quest began.

Djorak, completely cured of his madness, slept in a delightful little
pavilion in the garden, but took his meals with the family.

And they all lived happily ever after. I myself can quite well remember
meeting them last springs taking their morning walk in the park of their
town.

[Illustration: THEY HUNG OUT OF THE WINDOWS]

And what a charming sight they were to be sure!



PRINTED AT THE COMPLETE PRESS
WEST NORWOOD
LONDON





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The City Curious" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home