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Title: David and the Phoenix
Author: Ormondroyd, Edward, 1925-
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 "David and the Phoenix" ***

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                         Transcriber's note:

       Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the
       U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.


                               and the


                        _by Edward Ormondroyd_

                      ILLUSTRATED BY JOAN RAYSOR

                  Follett Publishing Company CHICAGO

             DAVID AND THE PHOENIX, by Edward Ormondroyd

                _Copyright 1957, by Edward Ormondroyd_

       *       *       *       *       *


1.  _In Which David Goes Mountain Climbing, and a
     Mysterious Voice Is Overheard_                         9

2.  _In Which David Meets the Phoenix, and There Is a
     Change in Plans_                                      19

3.  _In Which It Is Decided that David Should Have an
     Education, and an Experiment Is made_                 34

4.  _In Which David and the Phoenix Go To Visit the
     Gryffins, and a Great Danger Is Narrowly Averted_     45

5.  _In Which the Scientist Arrives in Pursuit of the
     Phoenix, and There Are Alarums and Excursions by
     Night_                                                61

6.  _In Which the Phoenix Has a Plan, and David and
     the Phoenix Call On a Sea Monster_                    79

7.  _In Which the Phoenix's Plan Is Carried Out, and
     There Are More Alarums and Excursions in the Night_   99

8.  _In Which David and the Phoenix Visit a Banshee,
     and a Surprise Is Planted in the Enemy's Camp_       115

9.  _In Which David and the Phoenix Call On a Faun,
     and a Lovely Afternoon Comes to a Strange End_       138

10. _In Which a Five Hundredth Birthday Is Celebrated,
     and the Phoenix Bows to Tradition_                   156

       *       *       *       *       *

_For Shirley and Josh_

       *       *       *       *       *

1: _In Which David Goes Mountain Climbing, and a Mysterious Voice Is


All the way there David had saved this moment for himself, struggling
not to peek until the proper time came. When the car finally stopped,
the rest of them got out stiffly and went into the new house. But
David walked slowly into the back yard with his eyes fixed on the
ground. For a whole minute he stood there, not daring to look up. Then
he took a deep breath, clenched his hands tightly, and lifted his

There it was!--as Dad had described it, but infinitely more grand. It
swept upward from the valley floor, beautifully shaped and soaring, so
tall that its misty blue peak could surely talk face to face with the
stars. To David, who had never seen a mountain before, the sight was
almost too much to bear. He felt so tight and shivery inside that he
didn't know whether he wanted to laugh, or cry, or both. And the
really wonderful thing about the mountain was the way it _looked_ at
him. He was certain that it was smiling at him, like an old friend who
had been waiting for years to see him again. And when he closed his
eyes, he seemed to hear a voice which whispered, "Come along, then,
and climb."

It would be so easy to go! The back yard was hedged in (with part of
the hedge growing right across the toes of the mountain), but there
was a hole in the privet large enough to crawl through. And just
beyond the hedge the mountainside awaited him, going up and up in one
smooth sweep until the green and tawny faded into hazy heights of
rock. It was waiting for him. "Come and climb," it whispered, "come
and climb."

But there was a great deal to do first. They were going to move into
the new house. The moving van was standing out in front, the car must
be unloaded. David would be needed to carry things. Regretfully, he
waved his hand at the peak and whispered, "It shouldn't take
long--I'll be back as soon as I can." Then he went around to the front
door to see what could be done about speeding things up.


Inside, everything was in confusion. Dad was pushing chairs and
tables around in an aimless way. Mother was saying, "They'll all have
to go out again; we forgot to put down the rug first." Aunt Amy was
making short dashes between the kitchen and the dining room, muttering
to herself. And Beckie was roaring in her crib because it was time for
her bottle. David asked, "Can I do anything?"--hoping that the answer
would be no.

"C'mere," Aunt Amy said, grabbing him by the arm. "Help me look for
that ironing board."

When the ironing board was finally located, Mother had something for
him to do. And when he was finished with that, Dad called for his
help. So the afternoon wore on without letup--and also without any
signs of progress in their moving. When David finally got a chance to
sneak out for a breathing spell, he felt his heart sink. Somehow, in
all the rush and confusion, the afternoon had disappeared. Already the
evening sun was throwing shadows across the side of the mountain and
touching its peak with a ruddy blaze. It was too late now. He would
have to wait until morning before he could climb.

As he gazed up miserably at the glowing summit, he thought he saw a
tiny speck soar out from it in a brief circle. Was it a bird of some
sort, or just one of those dots that swim before your eyes when you
stare too long at the sky? It almost seemed like the mountain waving
its hand, as if to say that it was quite all right for him to wait
until morning. He felt better then, and returned more cheerfully to
the moving.

It was long after dark before the moving van drove away. Beckie
crooned happily over her bottle, and the rest of them gathered in the
kitchen for a late supper of sandwiches and canned soup. But David
could not eat until he had found the courage to ask one question:

"May I climb the mountain tomorrow?"

Aunt Amy muttered something about landslides, which were firmly fixed
in her mind as the fate of people who climbed mountains. But Dad said,
"I don't see why not, do you?" and looked to Mother for agreement.

Mother said, "Well ... be very careful," in a doubtful tone, and that
was that.

       *       *       *       *       *

You never know what you will find when you climb a mountain, even if
you have climbed them before--which, of course, David never had.
Looking up from the foot of the mountain, he had thought that it was a
smooth slope from bottom to top. But he was discovering as he climbed
that it was not smooth at all, but very much broken up. There were
terraces, ledges, knolls, ravines, and embankments, one after
another. The exciting part of it was that each feature concealed the
ones above it. At the top of a rise would be an outcropping of
strangely colored rock, invisible from below. Beyond the outcropping,
a small stand of aspens would quiver in the breeze, their quicksilver
leaves hiding a tiny meadow on the slope behind. And when the meadow
had been discovered, there would be a something else beyond. He was a
real explorer now. When he got to the top, he thought, he would build
a little tower of stones, the way explorers always do.

But at the end of two hours' steady climbing, he was ready to admit
that he would never reach the peak that day. It still rose above his
head, seeming as far distant as ever. But he did not care now. It had
been a glorious climb, and the distance he had already covered was a
considerable one. He looked back. The town looked like a model of a
town, with little toy houses and different-colored roofs among the
trees that made a darker patch on the pattern of the valley floor. The
mountains on the other side of the valley seemed like blue clouds
stretching out over the edge of the world. Even the peak could not
give him a better view than this.

David gazed up the face of a scarp which rose like a cliff above
him--a smooth, bare wall of rock that had halted his climb. Halfway
up the scarp was a dark horizontal line of bushes, something like a
hedge. Apparently there was a ledge or shelf there, and he decided to
climb up to it before he returned home. To scale the rock face itself
was impossible, however: there were no hand or foot holds. So he
turned and made his way through the grass until he reached the end of
the bare stone. Then he started upward again. It was hard work. Vines
clutched at his feet, and the close-set bushes seemed unwilling to let
him pass. He had one nasty slip, which might have been his last if he
had not grabbed a tough clump of weeds at the crucial instant.

But, oh! it was worth it. He felt like shouting when at last he
reached the ledge. Truly it was an enchanted place! It was a long,
level strip of ground, several yards wide, carpeted with short grass
and dandelions. Bushes grew along most of the outer edge. The inner
edge was bounded by a second scarp--a wall of red stone with sparkling
points of light imbedded in its smooth surface.

David threw himself on the grass and rolled in it. It was warm and
soft and sweet-smelling; it soothed away the hurt of his aching
muscles and the sting of his scratches. He rolled over on his back and
cushioned his head in his hands. The sky seemed to be slipping along
overhead like a broad blue river. The breeze ruffled his hair and
whispered, the bushes murmured and gossiped to each other. Even the
sunlight seemed to hum to him as it laid warm hands on his face.

But there was another sound, which now and then rose above these
murmurs. Then it would fade and be drowned out by the breeze. Hard to
say why, but it just did not seem to fit there. David propped himself
up on his elbows and listened more intently. The sound faded: he had
been imagining it. No, he had not been imagining it--there it was
again. He sat up. Now he noticed that the ledge was divided by a
thicket which grew from the inner side to the outer. The noise,
whatever it was, came from the other side of the thicket.

David's curiosity was aroused, but it occurred to him that it might be
wise to be cautious. The noise did not sound dangerous, but--well, he
had never been up a mountain before, and there was no telling what he
might find. He dropped into a crouch and crept silently up to the
tangle of bushes. His heart began to pound, and he swallowed to
relieve the dryness in his throat. The noise was much more distinct
now, and it sounded like--like--yes, not only sounded like, but
_was_--someone talking to himself.

Who could it possibly be? Well, there was only one way to find out.

He dropped down on his stomach and carefully began to worm his way
under the thicket. The branches grew very low, and the ground was full
of lumps and knobs which dug into him with every movement. There were
vines, too, and some prickly things like thistles, which had to be
pushed out of the way without allowing their leaves to rustle. He
progressed by inches, pushing with his toes, pulling with his finger
tips, wriggling with the rest of his body. At last he could see light
breaking through the foliage in front of him--he was nearing the other
side. A bunch of leaves hung before his face. He hesitated, then
pushed them aside gently, slowly--and peered out.

He thought his heart would stop.


2: _In Which David Meets the Phoenix, and There Is a Change in Plans_


There stood an enormous bird.

David had been to the zoo, and at home he had a book of birds with
colored pictures. He knew the more common large birds of the world:
the ostrich, the condor, the albatross, eagles, cranes, storks. But
_this_ bird--! Its shape was like that of an eagle, but stouter. Its
neck had the length and elegant curve of a swan's neck. Its head was
again like an eagle's, with a hooked bird-of-prey beak, but the
expression in its brown eyes was mild. The long wings were blunt at
the tips, the tail was short and broad. The legs, feathered halfway
down, ended in taloned feet. An iridescent sheen sparkled on its
plumage, reflecting sunlight from the scarlet crest, the golden neck
and back, the breast of silver, the sapphire wings and tail. Its size
alone would have been enough to take David's breath away. He could
have stood beneath the arch of that neck with room to spare.

But the most astonishing thing was that the bird had an open book on
the ground and was apparently trying to learn part of it by heart.

"_Vivo, vives, vive_," the bird read, very slowly and distinctly,
staring hard at the book. "_Vivimos, vivís, viven._ _That_ is simple
enough, you blockhead! Now, then, without looking." It cleared its
throat, looked away from the book, and repeated in a rapid mutter:
"_Vivo vives vive vi_--ah--_vivi_--oh, dear, what _is_ the matter with
me?" Here the temptation to peek overcame it for an instant, and its
head wavered. But it said, "No, no!" in a firm tone, looked carefully
the other way, and began once more.

"_Vivo, vives, vive_--quite correct so far. Ah--_vi_--ah--Oh, dear,
these verbs! Where was I? Oh, yes. _Vivo_--"

David's head reeled as he watched this amazing performance. There was
no need to pinch himself to see if he were dreaming: he was perfectly
wide awake. Everything else around him was behaving in a normal way.
The mountain was solid beneath him, the sunlight streamed down as
before. Yet there was the bird, unmistakably before him, undeniably
studying its book and speaking to itself. David's mind caught hold of
a phrase and repeated it over and over again: "What on _earth_? What
on _earth_?" But of course there was no answer to that question. And
he might have lain hidden there all day, staring out at the bird and
marveling, had it not been for a bee which came droning into the
thicket straight for him.

He had a horror of bees, ever since he had once bumped into a hive by
mistake. When he heard that dread sound approaching, his whole body
broke into a sweat. All thought of the bird was immediately driven
from his head. He could tell from the noise that it was one of those
big black-and-yellow fuzzy bees, the ones with the nasty dispositions.
Perhaps--the thought paralyzed him--perhaps he was lying on its nest.
On it came, buzzing and blundering through the leaves. Suddenly it
was upon him, so close that he could feel the tiny breeze stirred up
by its wings. All self-control vanished. He beat at it wildly with his
hands, burst out of the thicket like an explosion, and smashed full
tilt into the bird before he could stop himself.

With a piercing squawk the bird shot into the air, flipped over, and
came fluttering down facing him--talons outstretched, hooked beak
open, eyes a-glare. Completely terrified, David turned and bolted for
the thicket. He managed to thrash halfway through when a vine trapped
his feet. He pitched forward, shielding his face with his arms, and
was caught up short by a dead branch snagging his shirt.

He was stuck. This was the end. He closed his eyes and waited, too
numb with fear to think or cry out.

Nothing happened. Slowly he turned his head around. The bird, although
it still glared menacingly, seemed undecided whether to attack or

"What, may I ask, are you doing here?" it said at last, in a severe

"I--I--I was taking a walk," David said faintly. "I'm awfully sorry if
I bothered you or anything."

"You should not have come up here at _all_," the bird snapped.


"Well, I'm really sorry. But there was a bee in the bush here. I--I
didn't mean to...." The fright had been too much. Tears started in
David's eyes, and his lip began to tremble.

The bird seemed reassured, for its manner visibly softened. It lowered
and folded its wings, and the glare faded from its eyes.

"I'd go away," David mumbled apologetically, "only I'm stuck." He
rubbed his eyes on his sleeve.

The bird looked at his dismal face and began to fidget awkwardly.
"There, there," it said. "I had no intention of--I am afraid that
I--Stuck, did you say? Very easily mended, my dear fellow! Merely a
question of--Here, let me look." It crashed through the thicket to
where David was caught and thrust its head down through the branches.
Its muffled voice came floating up. "Take heart! There seems to
be--aha! just so--One moment, please--bit of vine--_there_ we are!"
There was a snapping sound from below, and David's foot was released.
He unstuck the snag from his shirt, pushed his way out of the thicket,
and sat down weakly on the grass. Whew! At least the bird was not
going to harm him. It seemed to be quite a kindly creature, really. He
had just frightened it and made it angry by bursting out of the bushes
so suddenly.

He heard a flailing in the thicket, followed by the bird's anxious
voice: "Hello! Are you still there?"

"Yes. What--?"

There were more sounds of struggle. "This is rather awkward. I--the
fact is, I am afraid, that I am stuck myself. Could you--"

"Yes, of course," said David. He smiled to himself, a little shakily,
and re-entered the thicket. When he had disentangled the bird, the two
of them sat down on the grass and looked at each other. They
hesitated, not quite sure how to begin.

"I trust," said the bird at last, "that you are not of a scientific
turn of mind?"

"I don't know," said David. "I'm interested in things, if that's what
you mean."

"No, it is not. There is a great deal of difference between the
interest shown by normal people and the obsessive interest of
scientists. You are not, I hope, acquainted with any scientists?"


"Ah," said the bird, with a relieved sigh. "Everything is quite all
right, then. I do hope that you will forgive my behavior. I am not
usually so rude. The fact is that you gave me quite a horrible start."

"Oh, I'm sorry I frightened you."

"Frightened, my dear fellow?" said the bird testily. "I am never
frightened. I do not know the meaning of the word."

"What I mean is," David said quickly, "that you frightened _me_." This
seemed to pacify the bird; and David, to heighten the good
impression, added: "Golly, you looked fierce."

The bird smiled complacently, "I _can_ rise to a terrifying ferocity
when aroused. A noble strain of fighting blood courses through my
veins. Not that I go out of my way to seek quarrels, you understand.
On the contrary. 'Peaceful' could well describe my general attitude.
Meditative. I am usually to be found Thinking. I have a powerful
intellect. No doubt you have noticed the stamp of genius on my brow."

David supposed that the bird meant its scarlet crest, and he nodded.
"That's one of the first things I noticed about you."

"Indeed?" cried the bird delightedly. "You are certainly more alert
than most! But, as I was saying, I am usually to be found Thinking.
The first condition of Thinking is solitude. And that, I fear, is a
desideratum most difficult of realization."

"I beg your pardon?"

"People," explained the bird, "do not leave you alone."

"Oh," said David. He flushed, thinking that the words had been aimed
at him, and began to get up. But the bird signaled him to remain where
he was.

"I do not mean _you_, my dear fellow. I assure you that I am delighted
to make your acquaintance. It is all the others. Do you know that I
have spent the greater part of my life being pursued? I was chased out
of Egypt like a common game bird. Out of the mountains of Greece, too.
The hills of Lebanon, the desert of Africa, the Arabian wilds--no
matter where I fled, people would come prying and peering and sneaking
after me. I have tried Tibet, China, and the steppes of Siberia--with
the same result. At last I heard of a region where there was peace,
where the inhabitants let each other alone. Here, I thought, I

"Pardon me for interrupting. Where?"

"Why, _here_, to be brief," said the bird, waving its wing toward the
valley. "Here, I thought, I should be able to breathe. At _my_ age one
likes a little quiet. Would you believe that I am close to five
hundred years old?"

"Golly!" said David. "You don't look it."

The bird gave a pleased laugh. "My splendid physical condition _does_
conceal my years. At any rate, I settled here in the hope of being
left alone. But do you think I was safe?"

David, seeing that he was supposed to answer no, shook his head.

"Quite right," sighed the bird. "I was not. I had been here no more
than three months when a Scientist was hot on my trail. A most
disagreeable fellow, always sneaking about with binoculars, a camera,
and, I fear, a gun. That is why you startled me for an instant. I
thought you were he."

"Oh," David cried, "I'm awfully sorry. I didn't bother you on purpose.
It's just that I never saw a mountain before, so I climbed up here to
see what one looked like."

"You climbed up here?"


"Climbed," said the bird, looking very thoughtful. "Climbed ... I
might have known.... It proves, you see, that the same thing could be
done again by someone older and stronger. A very grave point."

"Oh, I see," said David. "You mean the--"

"Precisely! The Scientist. He is, I fear, very persistent. I first
noticed him over there"--the bird waved its wing toward the opposite
side of the valley--"so I removed to this location. But he will
undoubtedly continue his pursuit. The bad penny always turns up. It
will not be long before the sharp scientific nose is again quivering
in my direction."

"Oh, dear, that's terrible!"

"Your sympathy touches me," said the bird huskily. "It is most unusual
to find someone who understands. But have no fear for me. I am taking
steps. I am preparing. Imagine his disappointment when he arrives here
and finds me flown from the nest. I am, to be brief, leaving. Do you
see this book?"

"Yes," said David. "I heard you reading it, but I couldn't understand
it. Is it magic?"

"No, my boy, it is Spanish. I have chosen a little spot (chilly, but
isolated) in the Andes Mountains. South America, you know. And of
course one must be prepared. I am learning Spanish so that I shall be
able to make my way about in South America. I must admit my extreme
reluctance to depart. I have become very fond of this ledge. It is
exactly suited to my needs--ideal climate, magnificent view...."

They fell into a lengthy silence. The bird gazed sadly out over the
valley, and David rested his chin in his hands and thought. The
mystery was clearing up. The bird's presence on the mountain and the
fact that it had been reading a book were explained. And so natural
was its speech that David found himself accepting it as nothing
unusual. The thing that worried him now was that the bird would soon
leave. Here they had only just met, and already the promise of a most
interesting friendship was dissolving. The bird had taken time to talk
to him and explain things to him as though he were an equal. And
although he did not understand many of the long words it used, he felt
pleased at being spoken to as though he did understand. And the bird
knew all about faraway countries--had visited them and lived in them
and had adventures in them for almost five hundred years. Oh, there
were so many things David wanted to know and ask about! But the bird
was leaving. If only he could persuade it to stay, even for a short
while! He could try, anyhow--after all, the bird had said itself that
it did not want to go.

"Bird--" He stopped, and flushed. It was hard to put into words.

"Your servant, my boy."

"Well--I--I don't believe I know your name," David stammered, unable
to get the real question out.

"Ah, forgive me!" cried the bird, jumping up. "Permit me the honor of
presenting myself. I daresay my name is familiar to you, celebrated as
it is in song and story. I am the one and only, the Unique, Phoenix."
And the Phoenix bowed deeply.

"Very glad to meet you," said David. "I'm David."

"Delighted, my dear fellow! An honor and a pleasure." They shook hand
and wing solemnly. "Now, as you were saying--?"

"Well, Phoenix, I was just thinking," David stammered. "It's too
bad--I mean, couldn't you--it would be nice if we--Well, do you really
_have_ to go to South America? It would be nice if you'd stay a while,
until the Scientist shows up, anyway--and I like talking with you...."
His face burned. It seemed like a lot to ask.

The Phoenix harrumphed several times in its throat and shuffled its
feet. "Really, I cannot tell you how--how much you--well, really--such
a delightful request! Ah--harrumph! Perhaps it can be arranged."

"Oh, Phoenix!" David threw his arms around the bird's neck and then,
unable to restrain himself any longer, turned a somersault on the

"But for the present, it seems to be getting late," said the Phoenix.
"We shall talk it over some other time and decide."

"Golly, it _is_ late--I hadn't noticed. Well, I'll have to go, or
they'll worry about me at home. But I can come up and see you
tomorrow, can't I?"

"Of course, my boy! In the bustle of morning, in the hush of noon, in
the--ah--to be brief, at any time."

"And I'll bring you some cookies, if you like."

"Ah," said the Phoenix, closing its eyes. "Sugar cookies, by any
chance?" it asked faintly. David noticed the feathers of its throat
jumping up and down with rapid swallowing motions.

"I'll ask Aunt Amy to make some tonight."

"Ah, splendid, my boy! Splendid! Shall we say not more than--ah--that
is, not _less_ than--ah--fifteen?"

"All right, Phoenix. My Aunt Amy keeps a big jar full of cookies, and
I can have as many as I like."

The Phoenix took David's arm, and together they strolled to the other
end of the ledge.

"Now, don't mention this to anyone, but there is an old goat trail
down this side. It is somewhat grown over, but eyes as sharp as yours
should have no trouble with it. It will make your travels up and down
easier. Another thing--I trust you will not make known our

"Our what?"

"You will not tell anyone that I am here?"

"Oh, no. I won't say a word! Well, I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yes. As the French so cleverly say it--ah--well, to be brief,
good-by, my boy. Until tomorrow, then."

David waved his hand, found the goat trail, and started down. He was
too happy even to whistle, so he contented himself with running
whenever he found a level place. And when he reached home, he stood on
his hands in the back yard for two whole seconds.


3: _In Which It Is Decided that David Should Have an Education, and an
Experiment Is Made_


Next day it took less than an hour to reach the ledge, and David was
sure that he could shorten the time even more when he was familiar
with the goat trail.

The Phoenix was not in sight when he arrived, and for an instant David
was stricken with fright. Had the bird gone in spite of its promise?
But no--he heard a reassuring noise. It came from the thicket, and it
sounded very much like a snore.

David smiled to himself and shouted, "Hello, Phoenix!"

There was a thrashing sound in the thicket, and the Phoenix appeared,
looking very rumpled and yawning behind its wing.

"Greetings, my boy!" it cried. "A splendid morning!" Then the Phoenix
caught sight of the paper bag in David's hand, and swallowed in a
suggestive way.

David thrust the bag of cookies behind his back. "Now, Phoenix," he
said firmly, "you have to promise me you won't go away to South
America. You said last night that it could be arranged, so let's
arrange it right now. Until we do, not one."

The Phoenix drew itself up indignantly. "My very dear fellow," it
said, "you wound me. You cut me to the quick. I will not be bribed.
I--" It stopped and swallowed again. "Oh, well," it continued, more
mildly, "one does not fight fate, does one? I suppose under these
circumstances, I must accept."

"It's settled, then!" David cried joyfully.

So they sat down on the grass together, and for a long time nothing
was heard but sounds of munching.

"My boy," said the Phoenix at last, brushing the crumbs from its
chest, "I take a modest pride in my way with words, but nothing in the
language can do these--ah--baked poems justice. Words fail me."

"I'm glad you like them," David said politely.

"And now, my boy," continued the Phoenix, as it settled back
comfortably, "I have been thinking. Yesterday you showed an
intelligent interest in my problems and asked intelligent questions.
You did not scoff, as others might have done. You have very rare

David flushed, and mumbled denials.

"Do not be so modest, my boy! I speak the truth. It came to me that
such a mind as yours, having these qualities, should be further
cultivated and refined. And I should be avoiding my clear-cut duty if
I did not take this task in hand myself. Of course, I suppose some
attempt to educate you has already been made, has it not?"

"Well, I go to school, if that's what you mean. Not now, though,
because it's summer vacation."

"And what do they teach you there?"

"Oh, reading and writing and arithmetic, and things like that."

"Aha!" said the Phoenix triumphantly. "Just as I suspected--a
classical education. Understand me--I have nothing against a
classical education as such. I realize that mathematics, Greek, and
Latin are excellent for the discipline of the mind. But in the broad
view, a classical education is not a true education. Life is real,
life is earnest. One must face it with a _practical_ education. The
problems of Life, my dear fellow!--classical education completely
ignores them! For example, how do you tell a true Unicorn from a false

"I--I don't know."

"I thought not. Where do you find the Philosopher's Stone?"

"I don't know."

"Well, then, I shall ask a simple one. What is the first rule of
defense when attacked by a Chimera?"

David squirmed uncomfortably. "I'm afraid I don't know that, either,"
he said in a small voice.

"There you are!" cried the Phoenix. "You do not have a true, practical
education--you are not ready for Life. I, my boy, am going to take
your education in hand."

"Oh," said David. "Do you mean--are you going to give me--lessons?"
Through his mind flashed a picture of the Phoenix (with spectacles on
its beak and a ruler in its wing) writing out sentences on a
blackboard. The thought gave him a sinking feeling. After all, it was
summer--and summer was supposed to be vacation time.

"And what an education it will be!" the Phoenix went on, ignoring his
question. "Absolutely without equal! The full benefit of my vast
knowledge, plus a number of trips to--"

"Oh, _traveling_!" said David, suddenly feeling much better. "That's
different. Oh, Phoenix, that'll be wonderful! Where will we go?"

"Everywhere, my boy!" said the Phoenix, with an airy wave of its wing.
"To all corners of the earth. We shall visit my friends and

"Oh, do you have--"

"Of course, my boy! I am nothing if not a good mixer. My acquaintances
(to mention but a few) include Fauns, Dragons, Unicorns, Trolls,
Gryffins, Gryffons, Gryffens--"

"Excuse me," David interrupted. "What were those last three, please?"

"Gryffins," explained the Phoenix, "are the small, reddish, friendly
ones. Gryffons are the quick-tempered proud ones. Gryffens--ah, well,
the most anyone can say for them is that they are harmless. They are
very stupid."

"I see," said David doubtfully. "What do they look like?"

"Each looks like the others, my boy, except that some are bigger and
some are smaller. But to continue: Sea Monsters, Leprechauns, Rocs,
Gnomes, Elves, Basilisks, Nymphs--ah--and many others. All are of the
Better Sort, since, as I have many times truly observed, one is known
by the company one keeps. And your education will cost you nothing. Of
course it _would_ be agreeable if you could supply me with cookies
from time to time."

"As many as you want, Phoenix. Will we go to Africa?"

"Naturally, my boy. Your education will include--"

"And Egypt? And China? And Arabia?"

"Yes. Your education will--"

"Oh, Phoenix, Phoenix!" David jumped up and began to caper, while the
Phoenix beamed. But suddenly he stopped.

"How are we going to travel, Phoenix?"

"I have wings, my boy."

"Yes, but I don't."

"Do not be so dense, my dear fellow. I shall carry you on my back, of

"Oh," said David weakly, "on your--on your back. Are you sure
that--isn't there some other--I mean, can you do it?"

The Phoenix drew itself up to its full height. "I am hurt--yes, deeply
hurt--by your lack of faith. My magnificent build should make it
evident that I am an exceedingly powerful flyer. In the heyday of my
youth I could fly around the world in five hours. But come along. I
shall give you proof positive."

David reluctantly followed the Phoenix to a spot on the edge of the
shelf where there was a gap in the bushes. He glanced over the brink.
The sheer face of the scarp fell away beneath them, plunging down to
the tiny trees and rocks below. He stepped back quickly with a

"Let's--let's do it tomorrow," he quavered.

"Nonsense," said the Phoenix firmly. "No time like the present. Now,
then, up on my back."

"H-h-how am I going to sit?"

"On my back. Quite so--now, your arms around my neck--your legs
_behind_ my wings, please--there we are. Ready?"

"No," said David faintly.

"Splendid! The proof is to be demonstrated, the--to be brief, we are

The great wings were outstretched. David gulped, clutched the
Phoenix's neck tightly, and shut his eyes. He felt a hopping
sensation, then a long, sickening downward swoop that seemed to leave
his stomach far behind. A tremendous rush of air snatched at his
shirt. He opened his eyes and choked with fright. The ground below was
rushing up to meet them, swaying and revolving. Something was terribly
wrong. The Phoenix was breathing in hoarse gasps; its wings were
pounding the air frantically. Now they had turned back. The scarp
loomed before them, solid and blank. Above them--high above them--was
the ledge. It looked as though they would not get back to it.

Up ... up ... up.... They crawled through the air. The wings flapped
wildly, faster and faster. They were gaining--slipping back--gaining
again. The Phoenix sobbed as it stretched its neck in the last effort.
Fifty feet ... twenty feet ... ten.... With a tremendous surge of its
wings, the Phoenix managed to get one claw over the edge and to seize
the branch of a bush in its beak. David's legs slipped from the bird's
back. He dangled over the abyss from the outstretched neck, and
prayed. The bush saved them. They scrabbled up over the edge, tottered
there for an instant, and dropped on the grass.

For a long time they lay gasping and trembling.

At last the Phoenix weakly raised its head. "Puff--well, my boy--puff
puff--whew!--very narrow squeak. I--puff--"


David could not answer. The earth reeled under him and would not stop
no matter how tightly he clutched the grass.

"Puff--I repeat, I am--puff--an exceedingly powerful flyer. There are
few birds--none, I daresay--who--puff--could have done even this
much. The truth of the matter is that you are a lot--puff--heavier
than you look. I hope you are not being overfed at home?"

"I--I don't know," said David, wondering whether or not he was going
to be sick.

"Well, my course is clear," said the Phoenix firmly. "I must practice.
Setting-up exercises, roadwork, and what not. Rigorous diet. Lots of
sleep. Regular hours. Courage, my dear fellow! We shall do it yet!"

       *       *       *       *       *

And so for the following week the Phoenix practiced.

Every morning David climbed up to the ledge, bringing sandwiches for
himself, cookies for the Phoenix, and a wet towel. Then, while he kept
count, the Phoenix did setting-up exercises. After this, the bird
would jog trot up and down the ledge and practice jumping. Then there
would be a fifteen-minute rest and refreshment period. And when that
was over, the Phoenix would launch itself into the air. This was the
part David liked best. It was a magnificent sight. The Phoenix dashed
back and forth at top speed, wheeled in circles, shot straight up like
a rocket--plunged, hovered, looped--rolled, soared, fluttered. Now and
then it would swoop back to the ledge beside David and wipe the sweat
from its brow.

"I trust you see signs of progress, my boy?"

David would wrap the wet towel around the Phoenix's neck. "You're
doing better and better, Phoenix. I especially like that part where
you twist over on your back and loop and plunge, all at the same

"I do perform that rather well, don't I? It is not easy. But just the
thing for acquiring (ouch!) muscle tone. Are there any more cookies?
Ah, there are. Delicious! As I was saying, let this be a lesson to
you, my boy. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

The Phoenix would take wing again. And David would settle back against
a rock and watch. Sometimes he thought of the education he was to get.
Sometimes he thought how nice it would be if _he_ could fly. And
sometimes he did not think at all, but just sat with his eyes half
shut, feeling the sunlight on his face and listening to the rustle of
the wind in the thicket.

At the end of the week the Phoenix, after a brilliant display of
acrobatics, landed on the ledge, clasped its wings behind its back,
and looked solemnly at David.

"Well, my boy," it said, "I believe your education can begin
forthwith. Are you ready?"

4: _In Which David and the Phoenix Go To Visit the Gryffins, and a
Great Danger Is Narrowly Averted_


A chill raced up and down David's spine as he got to his feet.

"Do--do you think a week's practice is enough?"

"Absolutely, my dear fellow. I am now in the very pink of condition.
Not that I was ever out of condition, mind you. It was merely that
I--ah--well, to be brief, my boy, I am now ready."

"Yes, but--well, you remember the last time."

"Yes. Look here--if it will make you feel better, suppose we have a
trial flight along the ledge."

"Well--all right."

David got up as before on the Phoenix's back. The Phoenix spread its
wings and hopped into the air. They glided easily down the length of
the ledge, clearing the thicket in the middle by a good two feet.

"There you are, my boy," said the bird proudly, as they landed at the
other end. "Shall we go?"

"Let's go," said David, as bravely as he could.

They were in the air again. Once more he felt that rush of wind
against his face and heard the pounding of wings. But this time there
was no giddy downward swoop. He breathed again and opened his eyes.
The world was falling away, and everything on it was growing smaller
by the second. The valley could be cradled in two hands; the mountains
on either side looked like wrinkles in gray cloth. Now he could see
plains in the distance, and little silver threads of rivers. As he
looked, the whole world began to revolve slowly. The Phoenix was
soaring in a wide circle.

"Well, my boy," it called over its shoulder, "whom shall we visit

"It's really up to you, Phoenix," David shouted back, "but how about
the--the--Biffens or Whiffens, or whatever you called them?"

"You mean the Gryffins, Gryffons, and Gryffens, my boy? Very well. We
shall visit the Gryffins only, however. It is best to leave the others

The Phoenix swung around and began to fly toward the morning sun with
such tremendous speed that David had to crouch down to avoid being
blown off. The wind screamed past his ears, tore at his shirt and
hair, and made his eyes brim over with tears. It was cold, but he was
too excited to care. Below them, plains, rivers, forests, and cities
rushed across the face of the earth.

"This is wonderful, Phoenix!" David shouted.

The Phoenix's reply was not clear. "... normal speed ... air stream ...
prime days of my youth ..." were the only words David caught, but he could
tell from the tone that the Phoenix was pleased.

The view below was not to last long. Within half an hour they had run
into a heavy overcast, and for a long time it was like flying through
very wet, cold cotton. David glanced down, hoping to see the fog thin
out. Suddenly he caught sight of a black object rocketing up toward
them. Before he could call out a warning, the thing hurtled by, so
close that its backwash very nearly knocked him from the bird's back.
The Phoenix reduced speed; and the black object, after banking in a
wide curve, came cruising up alongside. David was amazed to see that
it was a pale but beautiful lady, dressed all in black, sitting on a

"Hello, Phoenix!" she cried in a teasing voice. "I haven't seen you in
_ever_ so long."


"Good morning, I am sure," the Phoenix replied stiffly, staring
straight ahead.

"Phoenix," the lady continued coaxingly, "I'm awfully bored. Won't you
race me? Please?"

"Idle hands find mischief to do," said the Phoenix severely. "_We_ are
making good use of our time, and I suggest that _you_ do the same."

"Don't be so stuffy, Phoenix." She pouted. "Come and race with me.
I've got a new broom, and I want to see how good it is. Please!"

"No," said the Phoenix sharply.

"Oh, all right for _you_!" she said, tossing her head. "You just don't
dare, because you know I'll beat your tail feathers off!" And she shot
back into the mist below.

"Indeed!" the Phoenix snorted. "Beat my tail feathers off! Ha!"

"Is she a Witch?" David asked.

"Yes, my boy, and a shocking example of the decline of the younger
generation. She will come to no good end, believe me. Tail feathers,

Just then they burst out of the clouds and into the hot sunlight.
Below them, the land was wild and desolate, a vast rolling plain
covered for the most part with dry, tawny grass. Here and there were
groves of trees drooping beneath the sun. The Phoenix, still snorting
indignantly to itself, dropped to within a hundred feet of the ground.
They began to soar back and forth.

"Can you see anything, my boy?"

David had never seen a Gryffin, of course; so he was not sure what to
look for. But he caught sight of something lying in the shade of a
bush and pointed it out to the Phoenix.

"Ah, quite so," the Phoenix said doubtfully. "It does not look like
a--but we can take a closer look."

They landed and walked toward the bush. In its shadow sprawled a very
untidy animal. Its tail and hindquarters were exactly like those of a
panther, its chest and forelegs were like a hawk's, and it had pointed
wings. Burrs matted its dusty fur. Its claws were shabby and split,
and numerous black flies were crawling over its haunches. The bush
trembled with its snoring.

"Bah! We are wasting our time here, my boy. This is a Gryffen. A
disgusting brute, isn't it?" And the Phoenix sniffed disapprovingly.

"Maybe if we wake it up," David suggested, "it could tell us where the
other ones live."

"Next to impossible. For one thing, a cannon could not awaken the
beast. For another thing, it would not, even if awake, be able to tell
us anything. You simply cannot imagine the stupidity of these brutes."

"Well, let's _try_ it, anyway," David said.

"Very well, my boy. But it will be a complete waste of time." The
Phoenix shrugged its shoulders, stepped up to the Gryffen, and kicked
it violently.

"Phoenix!" David cried in alarm. "Don't hurt it!"

"No fear," said the Phoenix, delivering another lusty kick. "One
simply cannot damage a sleeping Gryffen. Give me a hand, my boy."

David took hold of the Gryffen's wing, and the Phoenix seized its
tail. For the next ten minutes they kicked and pulled and pounded,
shouting "HEY!" and "WAKE UP!" at the top of their lungs. It was hot
work, and David finally admitted to himself that the Phoenix had been
right. But before he could say so, the Phoenix completely lost its
temper and savagely bit the Gryffen's tail.

That did it. The Gryffen opened one eye halfway and said, "Unffniph?"

"GET UP!!" the Phoenix bellowed.

The Gryffen struggled into a sitting position and yawned a tremendous
and noisy yawn. Then it squinted blearily at David and murmured,
"What day is it?"


"Wednesday," David said. "Could you please tell us--"

"Oh, Wednesday," said the Gryffen. It thought about this for a while,
mumbling "Wednesday ... Wednesday ..." to itself. It lifted one leg as
if to scratch the fly bites, changed its mind in mid-gesture, and
dropped the leg again. "Oh, _Wednesday_," it said at last. "So it
isn't Saturday?"

"No," said David. "What we want to know is--"

"Not Saturday," said the Gryffen, sinking down to the ground with a
huge sigh of relief. "Ah! Come back on Saturday. Saturday afternoon. I
generally get up on Saturday ... in the ... afternoon...." The words
faded into a snore.

"There you are, my dear fellow," said the Phoenix. "Just as I said.
Oaf! Boor!"

"A _very_ annoying animal," said David angrily.

"I agree, my boy. But the Gryffins are different, I assure you. Now,
let me see. Where should we look--"

"There they come!" David cried suddenly. "Look!" And indeed, a number
of winged creatures were loping down a hillside toward them.

"Good heavens!" the Phoenix shouted. "Those are the ones we do _not_
want to meet! On my back, _quick_!"

"What are they?" David gasped as he threw himself on the bird's back.


The Phoenix rushed along the ground a few feet and sprang into the
air. But it was too late. The foremost Gryffons, with powerful strokes
of their wings, shot up to meet them. The Phoenix swerved sharply.
They missed the snapping beak of the first Gryffon by half an inch and
dodged the second--only to smash into a third. David was stunned by
the blow and the fall. When he regained consciousness, he found
himself in the tight grip of two Gryffons. The Phoenix was struggling
feebly with another, and still more were crowding around them,
screaming like hawks.

They looked like the sleeping Gryffen, but were as large as ponies.
Their eyes were yellow and unblinking, and their tails twitched like
an angry cat's. Their smell, like the lion house in the zoo, made
David feel faint.

"Well, Phoenix," said the largest Gryffon coldly, "you know the Rule,
I believe?"

The Phoenix smiled weakly and cleared its throat. "Ah, there,
Gryffon," it said unsteadily. "Fancy meeting you here. Ah--ah--rule?
What rule?"

"Rule 26," said the Gryffon. "'No human being shall be allowed to
enter the--'"

"Oh, that rule," said the Phoenix, with a careless laugh. "I thought
everyone knew that the Council of 1935 had changed it. Can it be that
you have not yet heard?"

"That won't do, Phoenix. You have also heard, of course, of the
penalty for breaking the Rule, which you must suffer along with this
human boy?"

"Now, one moment, my dear Gryffon! I--ah--"


The Phoenix quailed, and David's legs went limp under him. But they
had no chance to plead with the Gryffons. Their captors formed two
lines, one on each side of them, and at a scream of command from the
leader, all began to march. The Gryffon that had been holding the
Phoenix winked horribly at David and made a throat-cutting gesture
with its wing.

"Courage, my boy," the Phoenix whispered. "It is always darkest before

Presently they reached a hillside. David and the Phoenix were marched
up to a cave and thrown in. Two of the Gryffons sat down at the
entrance to guard them while the others went off to consider the best
method of carrying out the penalty.

David was terribly frightened now, but he did not want to let the
Phoenix know it. In a voice which trembled a little he asked, "What
are we going to do?"

The Phoenix frowned. "Do not be downcast, my boy. My brain is equal to
any occasion. I shall Think. Silence, please."

And the Phoenix, covering its eyes with one wing, Thought.

To keep himself occupied, David explored the cave. But there was
nothing to see. The cave was small and bare. He tested the walls
thoroughly to see if there were any places where they might dig their
way out. There were none. His feet raised a cloud of fine dust, which
got into his eyes and nose and made him sneeze violently. Discouraged,
he went back to the Phoenix and sat down. There was a long silence.

Gradually an idea came to David. It started as a small, faint thought
at the back of his mind, wavered, began to grow and expand and fill
out--became bigger and clearer and better and--

"Phoenix!" cried David, jumping to his feet.

"My boy, my very dear boy," said the Phoenix, its voice breaking with
emotion, "I have Thought, I have Pondered, I have--well, to be brief,
it is no use. Stiff upper lip, my boy! We are Doomed."

"Phoenix, I--"

"Let this be a lesson to you, my boy, even though it be your last one.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Ah! who could have said, in
the golden days of my youth, that I should come to such an end! Oh,
miserable bird! Oh, unhappy boy!"


"But we can show them how to die, my boy! We still have that--the last
magnificent gesture. Let those who have lived wisely and well show
that they can die in the same way! I hope I am to go first, so that
you may have an example to follow."


"My boy?"

"Listen, please!" And David whispered in the Phoenix's ear.

The plan had seemed like a good one while it was still in his mind,
but put into words it sounded a little too simple. As he whispered,
David began to feel more and more foolish, so that finally he stopped

"I--I guess it's really kind of silly," he stammered.

But the Phoenix was looking at him with hope and admiration in its
eyes. "My very dear chap," it said solemnly, "I salute you. I humbly
await your signal."

"Do you really think it will work?"

"My boy, it must--it can--it shall. Proceed."

Poor as the plan now seemed to David, he prepared to carry it out.
Holding his breath so as not to sneeze again, he scooped up as much
dust as he could hold in two hands. Then he took his position on one
side of the cave, nodded the Phoenix toward the other, and glanced out
to see if the guardian Gryffons were looking. They were not.

"Now," he whispered.

The cave rocked with their uproar. David screamed at the top of his
voice and kicked the walls. The Phoenix let out a series of
ear-splitting whistles and squawks and beat its wings frantically.
Echoes bounced from wall to wall. The two Gryffons came rushing into
the cave, adding to the racket with their shrieking. "Now!" David
shouted, and he flung the double handful of dust into the Gryffons'
faces. Instantly they were all choking and sneezing in the thick
cloud. He plunged between the legs of the two Gryffons, who in the
confusion began to bite and tear savagely at each other.

David and the Phoenix burst out of the cave together. The other
Gryffons, aroused by the noise, were bounding toward them. David flung
himself on the Phoenix's back and shouted "Fly!" and sneezed. From
somewhere behind him a set of talons snatched out and ripped through
the back of his shirt. He kicked blindly and felt his foot crunch into
something which shrieked. "Fly, Phoenix!" he sobbed. The Phoenix was
already in the air and needed no encouragement. They heard raucous
cries and the thunder of wings behind them. David looked back over his
shoulder. The Gryffons were rising from the ground in pursuit, their
legs drawn up under them and their wings beating. "Faster!" he


"You have seen nothing in the way of flying until now, my boy," the
Phoenix shouted back. "Watch this!" Its wings were two blurs slicing
through the air and roaring like kettledrums. The ground below
streamed backwards. David looked back again. The Gryffons were falling
into the distance. Their cries were getting fainter. Now they looked
like a flock of starlings ... now like a cluster of flies ... now
like gnats. And then they had faded out of sight, and David and the
Phoenix were streaking over the grassland alone.

Ten minutes later they reached a shore and landed. They flopped on the
sand, panting. And David, suddenly feeling very faint, closed his eyes
and put his head between his knees. After they had got their breath,
the Phoenix patted David on the shoulder and said huskily:

"I congratulate you, my boy. Your plan was magnificent--precisely what
_I_ should have done, had I thought of it first. Needless to say, we
shall not go on looking for the Gryffins. But now you know exactly
what they are like: midway in size between the Gryffens and Gryffons,
and reddish in color. Most amiable souls, willing to do anything for
anyone. It is hard to believe that they are all related. But enough,
my boy. Let us go home."

As soon as they reached the ledge, the Phoenix put David down and
prepared to take off again.

"Where are you going, Phoenix?" David asked.

"Some business to attend to, my boy."

Muttering under its breath something that sounded like "tail feathers,
indeed!" the Phoenix soared off. And David, stiff and sore and
thoroughly tired, started down the mountainside for home.

5: _In Which the Scientist Arrives in Pursuit of the Phoenix, and
There Are Alarums and Excursions by Night_


The lights downstairs were all on when David got home, and as soon as
he opened the front door he could tell that they had company.

He shouted, "I'm home!" and sneezed. The dust from the Gryffons' cave
still clung to him, tickling his nose.

"Well, here he is at last," said Dad's voice. "Come on in, David."
Then, as David walked into the living room, "Good heavens, Son, what's
happened to you?"

"Your _back_, David!" Mother said in a horrified voice. "Your poor
back! What _happened_ to you?"


David felt himself. The back of his shirt was ripped to tatters, and
there were three lines of caked blood across his shoulders. He
remembered now: it was the Gryffon that had tried to grab him as he
and the Phoenix made their escape. But he had promised the Phoenix to
keep its secret.

He stammered, "I--I had an accident."

"And dust all _over_ you!" Mother went on.

"Well," said David desperately, "it was a _dusty_ accident."

"It seems to have been very dusty indeed," said a third voice. There
was a loud sneeze.

David's father jumped up. "You gave me such a shock when you came in
that I almost forgot, David. We have a guest." And he introduced David
to a very tall, thin man with a bald head. His face and neck were
burnt red by the sun, and he had on a pair of thick glasses which made
his pale eyes look immense. For some reason David took an instant
dislike to him, but he shook hands politely and said, "How do you do?"

"David, eh?" said the man. "Well, well. Are you a good boy, David?"

Of all the stupid questions in the world, that was the one David hated
most. He clenched his teeth and looked the other way.

"David, dear," said Mother with an awkward laugh, "I think you'd
better go upstairs and wash and change."

When David came into the living room again, the guest was talking
excitedly. "... completely unknown to man," he was saying. "It's the
discovery of the age. My name will be famous if I succeed in my

"How fascinating!" Mother said. "And to think of it happening right

"And it's huge," the guest said, "simply huge. And brilliantly
colored. For a scientist like myself, it's more than fascinating."

David was listening now. Scientist? _Scientist!_ His heart missed a
beat, and he choked. Oh, no, it couldn't be _the_ Scientist. _Or could

"David here spends all his time up on the mountain," his father said.
"Maybe he's seen it."

The guest turned his big, pale, unpleasant eyes on David. "Well,
David," he said, "maybe you can help me. Now, have you seen anything
unusual on the mountain?"

"Unusual?" said David unsteadily. There was a pain in his chest from
the pounding of his heart.

"Yes, David," the guest went on, "unusual. So unusual that you
couldn't miss it: a very large bird with bright plumage."

The floor under David seemed to rock. It was true, then--it was
horribly true. This was the Scientist who had been chasing the
Phoenix. This was their enemy.

"Bird?" David dodged. "Wh-wh-why, there are lots of birds up there.
Sparrows and meadow larks and--and sparrows...."

"But nothing like a huge bird with bright feathers?"

Well, he would have to tell a lie. After all, it was for the Phoenix's

"No," said David.

"Ah," said the Scientist. But his cold eyes bored into David's for
another instant, plainly saying, "I'm not fooled, young man."

"It's odd," he continued, "that no one has seen it. But I have no
doubt it's somewhere here. I am going to begin my search as soon as my
equipment gets here."

"Tell us about it," said Mother politely.

"Well, I discovered it on the other side of the valley, you know,"
said the Scientist eagerly. "Quite by accident--I was really looking
for another species. Now, birds, you know, have fixed habits. If you
know those habits, you can predict just what they will do at any time.
This particular bird was a daytime creature, so I tried to watch it
between dawn and dusk. But it seemed to have a mind of its own--you
might almost say an intelligence. It avoided me in a very clever way,
and it avoided my traps also. Uncanny! So after several weeks I
decided to shoot it if I got the chance. Then suddenly it disappeared,
but I'm certain it came over to this side of the valley--"

There was no escape from the subject during dinner. The Scientist
could think and talk of nothing else. He described the merits of
deadfalls, snares, steel traps, and birdlime. He asked which they
thought would make the best bait, a rabbit, a beefsteak, a live lamb,
or carrion. He told them all about the new high-powered, long-range
rifle which he had ordered. And he vowed to them all that he would not
rest until the bird was either caught or killed "for the advancement
of human learning."

David listened with horror. The dinner before him went untouched. His
only thought was that now he would have to warn the Phoenix as soon as
possible. The Phoenix would go to South America after all, and his
education would end before it had even started. All because of this
hateful man! He fought to hold back his tears.

Dinner was over at last. David mumbled his excuses and ducked out of
the dining room, but Aunt Amy seized him firmly just as he thought he
had got away.

"Bedtime for you, David," she said firmly.

"Oh, Aunt Amy, please! I've got to--"

"Upstairs, young man. You've had enough gallivanting around for one
day. You're all worn out."

"I'm _not_!" said David, struggling. "I feel fine. Look, I just _have_

It was useless. She marched him upstairs to his room and stood in the
doorway until he had undressed and put on his pajamas and got into

"Now," she said, "you go to sleep. The mountain will still be there in
the morning--unless there's a landslide. Good night." And she turned
out the light and shut the door.

This was awful! He could not sneak downstairs, because the stairs
could be seen from the living room. He could not climb out of his
window, because a rose arbor was directly beneath it, and he would be
ripped by the thorns. And Mother always came in to say good night
before she went to bed. If he was not there when she came in tonight,
there would be a lot of unpleasant explaining to do. The only thing,
then, was to wait until the Scientist went home and everyone was in

It was a maddening wait. The Scientist's voice went on and on like the
drone of an electric fan, interrupted only by an occasional murmur
from Mother or Dad. For a while David sat in bed twisting the sheets
in his hands; then he got up and paced the room in his bare feet. It
seemed to him that three or four whole nighttimes had passed before he
finally heard all three voices raised and talking at once.

The Scientist was going! Now they were saying good-by at the front
door ... now the door was being closed ... now there were footsteps on
the stairs. He jumped into bed just before Mother put her head in and
said, "Good night, dear." David murmured, pretending to be half
asleep. His door closed again. The light switches snapped, and there
was silence.

He waited another half hour to make sure everyone was asleep. As
quickly and silently as he could, he pulled on his clothes, crept out
of his room, and slid cautiously down the bannister. In the back yard
he put on his shoes, dived through the hedge, and started to race up
the mountainside.

Fortunately there was a nearly-full moon and no clouds in the sky. But
even with this light, it was not easy to keep to the trail. Several
times he lost his way, so that the trip took much longer than usual.
But he found the ledge at last, climbed over the final difficult rock,
and sat down to catch his breath. When he could speak, he called


There was no answer.

"Phoenix!" He pushed through the thicket to the other side of the
ledge. "_Phoenix!_"

The Phoenix was gone.

The tears that had been stopped up all evening could be held no
longer. David dropped to the ground, leaned his forehead against a
rock, and let them go. He had just remembered. As soon as they had
come back from the Gryffon adventure, the Phoenix had flown off on
some sort of business. And it had not said when it would return.

The tears cleared David's mind and made him feel better. Now what? He
began to think. If he stayed on the ledge all night, they might find
out at home and make a terrible fuss. But if he did not warn the
Phoenix before morning, the Scientist might creep up while the bird
was resting and trap it or shoot it. So he would have to warn the
Phoenix _and_ return home. And the only way to do both these things
was to write the Phoenix a note.

But he had neither paper nor pencil.

A fine mess he had made of everything! Now he would have to go all the
way back home, write the note, come all the way back up to the ledge,
and then go home again.

David trudged down the mountainside in a very low mood. Now that he
had a definite plan to work on, his fear was gone, but he felt that he
had been pretty stupid to rush off without thinking of everything
first. In his mind he could hear the Phoenix saying, "Look before you
leap, my boy," and other wise words of advice. And he had cried, too.
Lucky that no one had been there to see _that_.

       *       *       *       *       *

As he approached the house he was surprised to see all the lights
ablaze and to hear his name being called. "Oh-oh," he thought,
"they've found out I've gone."

"Here I am!" he shouted, opening the door. "What's the matter?"

It was a strange sight which met him inside. Dad, in his gray pajamas,
was waving a revolver and making fierce noises. Mother, looking
frightened, had a shoe in one hand. Aunt Amy, with her hair in rags,
was also well-armed--with a big cast-iron frying pan. Beckie was
howling upstairs.

"David!" Mother cried. "Are you all right? Where have you been? Did he
hurt you?"

"Who?" said David. "I'm all right. What's the matter?"

"The burglar!" said Mother excitedly. "He put his head in the window
and said '_pssssst!_'"

"I tell you, burglars don't say _pssssst_!" Dad said. "They try to
make as little noise as possible. Just let me catch him doing it
again!" he added, waving his pistol.

"Running around on that mountain at all hours of the night," Aunt Amy
grumbled, "with burglars and I don't know what-all loose in town!"

"And then we found that you were gone, and we thought he had stolen
you," Mother went on. "Where have you been?"

"I couldn't sleep," said David. "So I went for a walk."

"Well, thank heavens you're safe," said Mother.

"Hankering after that mountain all night," Aunt Amy muttered. "As if
he wasn't up there all day."

"Look here, Son," said Dad. "What do you know about this?"

"Honestly, Dad," said David, "I couldn't sleep. There's nothing wrong
with that. I can't help it if I can't sleep. So I took a walk. There's
nothing wrong with--"

"Oh, all right, all right," his father said. "I suppose it's just a
coincidence. Let's all get back to sleep. And, David, the next time
you can't sleep, try counting sheep."

Gradually the house calmed down. Beckie stopped wailing, Dad put away
his gun, good nights were said, the lights were turned off.

David knew that it would be at least an hour before he dared to move
again, and he would have to be doubly careful this time. And he was a
little nervous himself now about that burglar. What if he should meet
him when he went out again? He tried to forget about that by thinking
of what he would put in the note for the Phoenix.

He had got as far as "Dear Phoenix:" and was wondering how you spelled
"Phoenix," when there came a swish and a thump at his window, followed
by a cautious whisper:


David felt his scalp prickle. "Wh-wh-who's that?" he quavered.

"Is that you, my boy?" whispered a familiar, guarded voice. "Ah, thank

And the Phoenix crawled through the window.

Weak with relief, David snapped on the bedside light. The Phoenix
presented a shocking sight. Its face was drawn with fatigue, and it
looked rather draggled. Its back sagged, its wings drooped to the
floor, and it walked with a limp.


"Oh, Phoenix, Phoenix!" David whispered. He jumped to support the bird
before it collapsed entirely.

"Ah, thank you, my boy," the Phoenix murmured. "Your bed, I presume?
May I? Thank you." The springs creaked under its weight as the Phoenix
gingerly lay down.

"What a night, my boy, _what_ a night!" it sighed weakly, closing its

"Oh, Phoenix, what happened? Can I do anything for you?" David

"A damp, cooling cloth upon my forehead would be welcome, my boy,"
murmured the Phoenix. "Also a bit of nourishment."

David slid down the bannister, got a handful of cookies and a glass of
milk, and dampened a dish towel. When he returned, the Phoenix was
fast asleep.

"Phoenix," he whispered, "wake up. Here's your--"

The Phoenix awoke with a violent start and stared wildly around the
room. "Trapped!" it muttered, making a frenzied effort to get off the

"Not so _loud_!" David whispered sharply. "It's me!"

Understanding dawned in the Phoenix's eyes, and it eased itself back
with a sigh. "Ah, you, my boy. You gave me quite a fright. I
thought--" But here the Phoenix caught sight of the milk and cookies
and sat up again.

"Ambrosia," it sighed reverently. "And nectar. You _are_ a prince, my
dear fellow!" And the Phoenix reached out eagerly.

"Now, Phoenix," David whispered as he wrapped the wet towel around the
Phoenix's head, "what's happened?"

"Ah, that feels heavenly, my boy! (Munch munch.) What has happened?
(Munch munch. Gulp.) I was insulted, I accepted a challenge, and I
brilliantly maintained my honor. Let that be a lesson to you, my boy:
death before dishonor. Yes, in spite of my age, I--"

"But Phoenix, what _happened_?"

"To be brief, then, my boy, for brevity is the soul of wit--although I am
not trying to be witty now; I am simply too worn out--Brevity--ah--where
was I?"

"I _think_ you were telling me what happened to you tonight," David

"Ah, yes, quite so! Well, I raced the Witch, to put it quite simply."

"Oh, Phoenix! Did you win?"

"She said that she would 'beat my tail feathers off,' did she not?
Behold, my dear fellow--every tail feather intact!"

"Good for you, Phoenix! How did it go?"

"I found her somewhere over Scotland and accepted her challenge. We
jockeyed about for starting positions, and she insulted me by offering
me a handicap--which, of course, I refused. For several hundred miles
it was nip and tuck, as it were. Then, over Luxembourg, I put all my
energies into a magnificent sprint and won the race by three and a
half broom lengths. She claimed a foul and went off in a fit of sulks,
of course. (I never saw a Witch who was a good loser.) And I--well,
the fact is, my boy, that I am not as young as I used to be. I simply
_crawled_ home."

"Oh, you poor Phoenix! But you won, though. Good for you, Phoenix.
I'm proud of you! I didn't like her at all."

"There you are--I had to win, for both of us. Now, as I wended my
weary way homeward, I realized that I should be too tired to go
traveling tomorrow. So I decided to tell you, in case you should want
to do something else during the day. But I did not know which house
was yours. I had to pick one at random. I thrust my head in a window
and uttered a cautious _pssssst_! Imagine my dismay when I was
answered by a piercing scream! I had to beat a hasty and undignified
retreat into a garage until all was peaceful again. Then I did the
same thing at the next house, and the next, with the same results."
The Phoenix sighed. "Would you believe it, my boy?--this is the fifth
house I tried. But I knew I was on the right track when I heard them
calling for you."

"Oh, so it was _you_," said David. "You almost frightened Mother to
death. She thought you were a burglar."

"My dear fellow, I am really sorry for having caused any
misunderstanding or fright," said the Phoenix apologetically. "It was
just that I wanted to tell you of my victory--that is, to tell you
that I should be indisposed tomorrow."

Then David recalled that he had something to say too. The shock of
remembering was such that he blurted out the news without thinking of
softening the blow.

"Phoenix, listen! The Scientist is here!"

The Phoenix sat up in bed with a jerk, and David barely suppressed its
startled exclamation by clamping a hand over its beak.

"It's not so bad yet," he whispered hurriedly, "because he's not sure
where you are, and he has to wait for his equipment to get here. But,
oh, Phoenix, now I suppose you'll go to South America after all, and I
won't have any more education."

The Phoenix leaped to its feet and struck a defiant pose. "My boy," it
said angrily, "you are mistaken. I refuse to be chased around any
longer. Even the lowly worm turns. Am I a mouse, or am I the Phoenix?
If that insufferable man wishes to pursue me further, if he cannot
mind his own business, then, by Jove, we shall meet him face to face

Its voice, which had been getting louder and louder, ended in an
indignant squawk (its battle cry, as it explained later). David's
warning _ssh!_ was too late. They heard rapid footsteps and the sound
of light switches snapping.

"Quick!" David said. "Out the window!"

With a hasty "Farewell, my boy," the Phoenix plunged headlong toward
the window--and tripped over the sill. There was a resounding crash
outside as the bird landed on the rose arbor, a brief but furious
thrashing and muttering, and then the receding flurry of wings.

Dad burst into the room with his revolver, followed by Mother and Aunt
Amy (with two frying pans, this time).

"He stuck his head in the window and said _pssssst!_ at me!" David
cried. "A big dark shape in the window!"

This time Dad telephoned the police. In no time at all, three carloads
of weary policemen were swarming over the house and yard, with guns
and flashlights drawn. It was the fifth--or was it the sixth?--call
they had received from the neighborhood that night, they explained.
There followed an hour of questions, arguments, and theories, during
which everyone became very excited. Everyone, that is, except
David--although he acted excited to avoid suspicion. But he was happy.
He had warned the Phoenix, the Phoenix was going to stay, and there
was nothing to worry about until tomorrow.

6: _In Which the Phoenix Has a Plan, and David and the Phoenix Call On
a Sea Monster_


"Well, you're in all the papers this morning, Phoenix," said David, as
he sat down beside the reclining bird next morning. "They don't know
who you are, but they're all talking about what happened last night.
They call you the 'Whispering Burglar.' The police are pretty

"My dear chap," said the Phoenix apologetically, "let me repeat my
sincere regrets for causing alarm. It was not my desire to--the
_police_, did you say? Have they discovered any clues?"

"No," said David reassuringly. "They can't find a thing. They think
the Whispering Burglar climbed up a ladder to say _pssssst!_ into the
upstairs windows. Only they can't find the ladder. They call it the
'Missing Mystery Clue.'"

The Phoenix gazed at the sky and mused. "In all the papers, you say?
Well, Fame at last--although hardly the kind I had expected. What a
pity that there can be no photographs with the story. Imagine a
picture of me on the front page! A profile, perhaps--or would a
full-length shot be more effective? Or both, let us say, with--"

"I know you'd look very handsome, Phoenix," David interrupted, "but
what we _should_ be thinking about is the Scientist. What are we going
to do?"

"Oh, _that_," said the Phoenix. "I was coming to that, my boy. The
battle is already half won. I have a Plan."

"Good for you, Phoenix! What is it?"

"Aha!" said the Phoenix, with a mysterious smile. "All will unfold in
time. Rest assured that the Plan is brilliant. In one stroke of genius
it solves everything. Tactics, my boy! Napoleon had nothing on me."

"But what _is_ it, Phoenix?"

"Tut, my boy," said the Phoenix in a maddening way. "Control your
impatience. You will see. Now, we shall have to buy some things, so we
shall need money. Let me see.... Several of the Leprechauns have large
pots of gold.... No, I fear they would not part with so much as a
penny. Tightfisted, my dear fellow!--you never saw such misers.
Hmmm.... Well, there are the Dragons, of course; they guard heaps of
treasure in caves. But no--they are excellent chaps in most respects,
but frightfully stuffy about loans and gifts. No.... The Djinn? No,
his money is all tied up in Arabian oil speculation. Aha! Why didn't I
think of that before? The Sea Monster, of course!"

"Do Sea Monsters have money?" asked David.

"No, but the Sea Monster should know where pirate treasure is
buried--quite in its nautical line. We shall visit the Monster, my
boy. Tomorrow, of course--I could not fly a foot today to save my
life. My muscles are killing me!"

"Oh, poor Phoenix!" David said. But he was so excited that he could
not feel much pity. Pirate treasure! They were going to dig for pirate

"We shall need a spade. I trust you will arrange for it, my boy?"

"Of course, Phoenix," said David, jumping to his feet. "I'll get
everything ready right away. Don't move till I get back."

"Impossible, my boy." The Phoenix groaned as it shifted into a more
comfortable position.

David raced home to collect the necessary things for the trip.
Remembering how cold it had been last time, he took his leather jacket
out of the closet, and a pair of gloves and a scarf. For the Phoenix
he borrowed a bottle of liniment and took all the cookies from the
cooky jar. And he picked the shortest of three spades in the garage.
During the rest of the day he massaged the Phoenix's back and wings
with the liniment. He was exploding with curiosity about the Plan, of
course. But the Phoenix would only smile its smuggest smile and tell
him to "wait and see, wait and see"--which almost drove David mad.

       *       *       *       *       *

Tomorrow took its time, the way it always does when you are anxious to
see it arrive, but it finally came. And David found himself with the
spade held tightly under one arm, his jacket zipped up to his chin,
gloves on, and scarf knotted, all ready to go.

"To the west, this time," said the Phoenix, as David got up on its
back. "This is the Monster's Pacific season, you know. Ready, my boy?
Splendid! We are off!"

Over the mountains and desert they sped, over the shore, out across
the ocean. For a long time they hurtled through a huge blue
loneliness, dark blue below, lighter blue above. Once they passed over
a ship, a pencil dot trailing a pin-scratch of white. Another time
they startled a high-flying albatross, which gave a frightened squawk
and plunged down out of sight with folded wings. Aside from that,
there was nothing to see until they reached the islands.

The Phoenix slowed down to a glide and dropped lower. "These are the
coral atolls of the Pacific, my boy," it called over its shoulder.
"That lake in the center of each island is called the lagoon."

David was enchanted by the atolls. They were made of tiny islets,
strung together like the beads of a necklace. And the colors! The dark
blue of the sea became lighter around the islands, melting from
sapphire to turquoise to jade. The atolls were ringed with dazzling
white surf and beach, and they all had cool green swaths of palm trees
and underbrush. And each lagoon also had its varying shades of blue,
like the outer sea.

"I fear we may have trouble, my boy," said the Phoenix, as they
scanned the empty beaches. "The Monster shifts about from island to
island to avoid discovery. We shall just have to search."

And search they did, atoll after atoll, until at the end of an hour
they were rewarded. David suddenly spotted a dark object stretched out
on the beach of a lagoon, and at the same time the Phoenix said "Aha!"
triumphantly. They began to spiral down.

The Sea Monster was immense. Its body could have filled the living
room at home. Its neck was twenty feet long, and so was its tail
(which ended in a barbed point). It had huge seal-like flippers, and
its polished brown hide was made up of scales as big as dinner plates.

"Wake up, Monster!" The Phoenix cried. "We--"

The next instant they were lost in a cloud of flying sand and spray,
through which could be heard a prodigious splash. When it had cleared,
they found themselves alone on the beach. The only sign of the Sea
Monster was a great furrow in the sand, which led down to the agitated

"Golly, that was fast!" David marveled, as they shook the sand from
themselves. "Do you think it'll come back, Phoenix?"

"Of course, my boy. Curiosity, if nothing else, will bring it up
again. In the meantime, we might as well sit down and wait."

They sat down and waited. David took off his jacket. For fifteen
minutes they heard nothing but the murmuring of the surf and the
rustling clatter of palm fronds. At last there was a slight splashing
noise from the lagoon.

"There," David whispered, pointing.

Thirty feet offshore, an ear was being thrust cautiously above the
rippled surface. It twitched once or twice, then pointed quiveringly
in their direction.

"Come out, Monster!" the Phoenix shouted. "It is I, the Phoenix."

The Sea Monster's head appeared slowly, followed by several yards of
neck. It peered at them short-sightedly, weaving its head from side to
side to get a better view. David saw that it had two short, straight
horns just in front of its ears, eyes that were soft and cowlike, and
a most expressive set of whiskers. The whiskers were now at a
doubtful, half-mast angle.

"Ah, Phoenix," said the Sea Monster at last in a mild voice. "Can't
you remember to wake me a bit more gently? I thought you were--"

"Come on out," said the Phoenix firmly, "and stop looking like a lost

"Uh--what about--uh--that?" said the Sea Monster hesitantly, pointing
one ear at David.

"This," said the Phoenix, "is David. He is getting an education. I
assure you that he will not bite."

The Sea Monster swam toward them, heaved itself out of the water, and
offered its huge flipper for David to shake.


"Sorry I rushed off like that," it said. "The trouble is, I've had
such a bad case of war nerves. Why, sometimes I jump out of my skin at
nothing at all."

"Were you in the war?" David asked.

"Ah, _was_ I," sighed the Sea Monster. It flopped down comfortably on
its belly, curled its tail around its front flippers, and sighed
again. But David noticed that its whiskers had perked up to a quite
cheerful angle. The Sea Monster was obviously delighted to have
someone listen to its troubles.

"Yes," it said, heaving a third sigh, "I was. From the very beginning,
much against my will. Guns all over the place! Terrible!"

"Did they shoot you?" David asked, horrified.

"Well, _at_ me, anyway. I'm thankful to say they never hit me, but
there were some pretty near misses. All the oceans were simply packed
with ships. I couldn't lift my head out of water without bringing down
a perfect rain of shells and bullets."

"The _intelligent_ thing in that case," the Phoenix broke in with a
sniff, "would have been to stay _under_ water."

"Thank you, Phoenix," said the Sea Monster dryly. "But I _do_ like to
breathe now and then. Anyway, I wasn't safe even under water. They'd
drop depth charges on me. One ship even launched a torpedo at me!"

"How awful!" said David.

"Tut! my boy," said the Phoenix. "I have no doubt our friend is
stretching the truth shamelessly. You need not look so smug, Monster.
You were not the only one in the war. _I_ have gone through
anti-aircraft fire a number of times. Some of it was very severe. In
fact, once I--"

"Once I had the whole North Atlantic fleet after _me_," the Sea
Monster interrupted proudly.

"And _I_ remember the Franco-Prussian War!" said the Phoenix. "Which,
I daresay, you do _not_."

"Well--uh--no, I don't."

"There you are!" the Phoenix crowed.

The Sea Monster, looking rather ruffled, pointedly turned from the
Phoenix and said to David, "What should you like to do, David?"

David suddenly remembered what they had come for, and the excitement
rushed back into his heart. He opened his mouth to cry "We want to dig
for treasure!" and then stopped short. Asking for money, he knew, was
an impolite thing to do--especially from someone you had only just
met. And there was no telling how the Sea Monster might feel about
people nosing around for its treasure. So he looked at the Phoenix and
waited for it to speak.

The Phoenix caught David's glance, cleared its throat several times,
and looked apologetically at the Sea Monster. "Monster, old chap," it
said soothingly, "I am deeply sorry for having doubted you just now.
Deeply sorry."

"Quite all right," said the Sea Monster stiffly.

"Yes," the Phoenix continued, "we both know that you have passed
through perilous times, through dangers which (I must confess) would
have left _me_ a shattered wreck."

The Sea Monster sighed sadly, but its whiskers were beginning to rise

"The Monster bears up very well under this fearful strain--don't you
think so, my boy? A splendid example for the rest of us. Magnificent."

The Sea Monster's whiskers were quivering with pleasure.

"Monster, old chap, old friend, you were never one to let a boon
companion down. If I have said it once, I have said it a hundred
times: 'The Sea Monster,' I have said, 'the Sea Monster is the helpful
sort. Mention the words Staunch Friend,' I have said, 'and
immediately the Sea Monster comes to mind.'"

The Phoenix reached up one wing and began to pat the Sea Monster's

"Monster, old chum, we--ah--we--Well, the plain fact is that
we--ah--we have need of--such a trifling matter" (here the Phoenix
gave a careless laugh) "that I should not really bring it up at all.
Ah--we need a bit of money."

"Oh," said the Sea Monster. Its whiskers sagged.

"Now, please do not be offended, Monster," said the Phoenix hastily.
"After all, you have no need for the treasure, and it does absolutely
no good buried under the ground."

"It doesn't do any harm there, either," said the Sea Monster. "Really,
Phoenix, I never thought _you_--"

"Monster," said the Phoenix solemnly, "_this_--is a matter of life or

"Life or death--ha!"

"Please, Monster," said David. "It really is life or death, because
the Scientist is chasing the Phoenix, and the Phoenix has a plan to
escape him, and we need some money to carry out the plan so the
Scientist can't hurt the Phoenix."

"A few small coins will do," added the Phoenix, with a winning smile.
"A louis d'or, for example, or some pieces of eight. After which you
may bury the rest again."

"_Please_, Monster!" David begged.

The Monster looked at David, and at the Phoenix, and then at David
again, and then at the lagoon. It sighed a very doubtful sigh.

"Oh ... all right," it said reluctantly. "But for goodness sake, don't
go telling anyone where you found it."

"Of course not," said the Phoenix. And David leaped up and shouted
"Hooray!" and grabbed the spade and his jacket.

"The stuff is on the next island," said the Sea Monster. "I can swim
over with you two on my back. This way, please--we have to leave from
the outer beach."

The Sea Monster was a magnificent swimmer. Its neck cut through the
water like the stem of a Viking ship, and it left a frothing wake
behind. Every once in a while it would plunge its head into the water
and come up with a fish, which it would swallow whole.

"Should you like some breakfast, David?" said the Sea Monster.


"No, thank you," David answered, "but you go right ahead. Phoenix," he
added, "what _are_ you doing?"

The Phoenix, which had been walking up and down with its wings clasped
behind its back, stopped and gazed over the sea. "Pacing the
quarter-deck, my boy. Scanning the horizon. That is what one usually
does at sea, I believe."

"You'll be wanting us to call you Admiral next," said the Sea Monster

They steamed on. Twenty minutes and seventy-six large breakfast fish
later they sighted the island--a little smudge on the horizon, dead

"Land ho!" a voice croaked. "Thank heavens."

David turned in surprise. The Phoenix was no longer pacing the
quarter-deck and scanning the horizon. It was sitting limply with its
head down and a glassy stare in its eyes.


"You had better hurry up," David said to the Sea Monster. "I think the
Phoenix is seasick."

"Am not," the Phoenix gasped. "Merely (ulp!) temporary."

The Sea Monster turned and smiled sweetly at the Phoenix. "You'll get
used to it in no time, Admiral."

When they landed, however, the Phoenix recovered rapidly and even
began to put on a slight nautical swagger. The Sea Monster humped off
down the beach, followed eagerly by the two treasure hunters. In a few
minutes it came to a halt and sniffed the sand very carefully,
swinging its head snakelike to and fro. It settled on one spot,
sniffed it thoroughly, felt the sand with its whiskers, and then
solemnly announced: "Here."

"Ahoy, me hearties!" the Phoenix shouted. "Turn to and stand by to
splice the main brace! Steady as she goes, mates!"

David needed no encouragement from anyone. He began to dig furiously.
Flashing in the sun, the spade bit into the beach, and coarse white
sand spurted in all directions. The Phoenix was quite as excited as
David. It danced around the deepening hole with eyes asparkle,
shouting such piratical terms as "Shiver me timbers!" "Strike your
colors!" and "Give 'em no quarter, lads!" Suddenly it began to beat
time with its wing and to sing in a raucous voice:

    "Cut the King's throat and take the King's gold--
    Heave ho, bullies, for Panama!
    There's plenty of loot for the lad who is bold--
    Heave away, bullies, for Panama!"

"You're flat on that last note," said the Sea Monster.

"My dear Monster, I have perfect pitch!"

"Oh, yes--you have perfect sea legs, too."

"Well, ah--How are you coming along, my boy? Any signs of treasure?"

David did not hear. In fact he heard nothing from the first crunch of
the spade onward. His education was now richer by this fact: once you
start out after treasure, you can think of nothing else until it is
found. The sun was beating hotly on him, little rivulets of sweat
poured down his face and arms, his muscles ached, blisters were
beginning to form on his hands. Heedless of all, he dug on. He had
settled into the rhythm of it now, and nothing could distract him.

"Tell you what's a good thing for seasickness," said the Sea Monster
slyly. "You take a--" Pretending not to hear, the Phoenix stood first
on one leg and then on the other and stared into the sky. David dug

Suddenly the spade grated on something solid, and they all jumped.
David shouted "Here it is!" and shoveled up sand frantically. The
Phoenix danced around the hole, also shouting. Even the Sea Monster
arched its neck to get a better view. They could see a brass ring,
crusted with verdigris, fastened to a partly-exposed piece of wood.
The sand flew. Now they could see studded strips of metal bound to the
wood, and a rusty padlock. And in a few minutes a whole chest, with
slanting sides and a curved lid and tarnished brass hinges, was
uncovered. David threw the spade on the beach, seized the brass
handle, and tugged. It came off in his hand.


"Here, let me," said the Sea Monster. David got out of the hole, and
the Sea Monster worked one flipper carefully under the chest. "Look
out," it said, and heaved its flipper up. The chest shot into the air,
tumbled down end over end, and split wide open on the beach.

David gasped. A dazzling, sparkling heap spilled out on the sand.
There were heaps of gold and silver coins, the silver black with
tarnish but the gold still bright. There were pearls, rubies,
diamonds, beryls, emeralds, opals, sapphires, amethysts. And
bracelets, necklaces, pendants, sunbursts, brooches, rings, pins,
combs, buckles, lockets, buttons, crucifixes. And carved pieces of
jade and ivory and coral and jet. And coronets, crowns, tiaras, arm
bands. And jeweled daggers, picture frames, vases, silver knives and
forks and spoons, sugar bowls, platters, goblets.

For an hour they examined the treasure. David fairly wallowed in it,
exclaiming "Look at this one!" or "Oh, how beautiful!" or just
"Golly!" The Phoenix muttered such things as "King's ransom" and
"Wealth of the Indies." The Sea Monster was not interested in the
treasure, but kept glancing nervously out to sea.

At last the Phoenix said, "Well, my boy, I think we had better make
our choice. Three or four coins should do it."

The Sea Monster gave a relieved sigh. "Let's get the rest of it
underground right away. You have no idea what trouble it can cause."

The choice was difficult. There were so many coins, all of them with
queer writing and heads of unknown gods and kings. David finally
picked out four gold pieces and tied them up in his handkerchief.
Then the Sea Monster swept the rest of the treasure into the hole.
They all pushed sand in on top of it and jumped on the mound till it
was level with the rest of the beach.

The Phoenix turned to the Sea Monster and said solemnly: "Monster, old
fellow, I knew you would not fail us. You stood forth in our hour of
need, and we shall not forget."

And David echoed, "Thank you, Monster."

The Sea Monster ducked its head and blushed. A wave of fiery red
started at its nose, traveled rapidly back over its ears, down its
neck, along the body, and fanned out to the tips of its flippers and
the extreme end of the barb in its tail.

Even its whiskers turned pink.

"Well--uh--glad to help--uh--nothing to it, really," it mumbled. Then
it turned abruptly, galloped down to the sea, plunged into the surf,
and was gone.

7: _In Which the Phoenix's Plan Is Carried Out, and There Are More
Alarums and Excursions in the Night_


"Now, my boy," said the Phoenix, when they got back to the ledge that
afternoon, "are the shops still open?"

"I think they're open till six," said David, shaking the sand out of
his shoes. "Are we going to buy something?"

"Precisely, my boy. A hardware store should have what we need. Now,
you will take our gold and purchase the following." And the Phoenix
listed the things it wanted, and told David which to bring to the
ledge and which to leave below.

"... and a hatchet," the Phoenix concluded.

"We have one at home already," said David. "Now, listen, Phoenix,
_can't_ you tell me what all this is for? What are we going to do with

"My boy, the feline's existence was terminated as a direct result of
its inquisitiveness."

"What did you say?"

"Curiosity killed the cat," explained the Phoenix.

"Oh. But--"

"Now, run along, my boy. A very important Thought has just come to me.
I must Meditate a while." The Phoenix glanced at the thicket and hid a
yawn behind one wing.

"Oh, all _right_," said David. "I'll see you in the morning, then."

It wasn't until he got home that he thought of something. He couldn't
spend pirate gold pieces, or even show them to anyone, without being
asked a lot of embarrassing questions. What to do? Ask Dad or Mother
or Aunt Amy to lend him some money? More embarrassing questions....
Well, he would have to rob his bank. But wait--why hadn't he
remembered? Just before they had moved, Uncle Charles had given him a
ten-dollar bill as a farewell present. He had been saving it for a
model airplane, but the excitement of the last few days had driven it
completely out of his mind. Of course the Phoenix's Plan was more
important than any model plane could be.

So he kept the gold pieces tied up in his handkerchief and took his
ten dollars to a hardware store, where he bought what the Phoenix
wanted--a coil of rope, an electric door bell, a pushbutton, and one
hundred feet of insulated wire. Then he brought the package home, hid
it behind the woodpile in the garage, and sat down to think.
Wire--bell--pushbutton. What could the Phoenix possibly want with
them? And what was the rope for? And the hatchet? The more he puzzled
over it the more confused he became, and finally he just gave up.
There was only one thing he was sure about: whatever the Plan was,
they would have to carry it out as soon as possible. Two days had
passed since the Scientist had shown up. The new gun he had ordered
might arrive at any time now. Perhaps even today, when they had been
digging up the pirate treasure, the Scientist had got his new rifle
and had started to hunt through the mountains.

The thought gave David a creepy feeling on the back of his neck. They
certainly would have to hurry.

       *       *       *       *       *

Early next morning David climbed up to the ledge, bringing with him
the coil of rope and the hatchet. As an afterthought he had added a
paper bag full of cookies.

"Here's the stuff, Phoenix," he called out as he stepped onto the
ledge. "Where are you?"

There was a crash from the thicket as though someone had jumped up in
it suddenly, and the Phoenix stumbled out, rubbing its eyes.

"Ah, splendid, my boy! Yes. I was just--ah--Thinking."

"Phoenix," said David, "I'm not going to ask you again what your Plan
is, because I know you'll tell me when it's time. But whatever it is,
we'd better do it right now. The Scientist may show up any minute."

"Precisely, my boy. Never put off until tomorrow what can be done
today. One of my favorite proverbs. We shall begin immediately--" Here
the Phoenix caught sight of the bag in David's hand and added hastily:
"But, of course, we must not forget that first things come first."

"You might have brought more," said the Phoenix, fifteen minutes

"There weren't any more in the jar," David said. "Phoenix, please tell
me what we're going to do. I don't care if curiosity _did_ kill the
cat. I've been thinking about the rope and wire and bell all night,
and I can't make heads or tails out of it."

The Phoenix gave a pleased laugh. "Of course you cannot, my boy. The
Plan is far too profound for you to guess what it is. But set your
mind at rest. I shall now explain the rope and hatchet."

David leaned forward eagerly.

"Now, scientists, you know, have fixed habits. If you know those
habits, you can predict just what they will do at any time. Our
particular Scientist is a daytime creature--that is to say, he comes
at dawn and goes at dusk. His invariable habit, my boy!"


"There you are, my boy!" said the Phoenix triumphantly. "_We shall
sleep during the day and continue your education at night!_"

"Oh," said David. He thought about this a while, then asked, "But
suppose the Scientist comes up on the ledge during the day and catches
you asleep?"

"Aha! That is where the rope and hatchet come in. Never fear, my
boy--I thought of that also. We are going to construct a snare at each
end of the ledge."


"Hand me that twig, my boy." The Phoenix took the twig, found a bare
spot of earth, and sketched a picture. "First we find a sapling and
clear the branches from it with the hatchet--like this. Next we get a
stake, cut a notch in it, and drive it into the ground--so. The
sapling is bent down to it and fitted into the notch, which holds it
down. You see, my boy? Now we make a noose--so--from a piece of rope,
tie it to the end of the sapling, and spread the loop out on the
path--this way. The whole snare is hidden under grass and leaves." The
Phoenix beamed and flung out its wings in a dramatic gesture. "Just
picture it, my dear chap! The Scientist, smiling evilly as he skulks
along the path! The unwary footstep! The sapling, jarred out of the
notch, springing upward! The tightened noose! And our archenemy
dangling by the foot in mid-air, completely at our mercy!

"Golly, Phoenix," said David, "that's pretty clever."

"_Clever_, my boy? Better to say 'a stroke of genius.' Only I,
Phoenix, could have thought of it. And consider the poetic justice of
it! This is exactly the sort of trap that the Scientist once set for
me! Well, shall we begin?"


The Phoenix had made the snares sound delightfully simple, but they
soon discovered that the job was harder than it sounded. First they
had to find the right kind of sapling, springy and strong. The sapling
had to be in the right place--one by the goat trail, the other at the
far end of the ledge. When they had been chosen, David had to shinny
up them to lop off their branches. That was a very awkward business;
the saplings swayed and trembled under his weight, and he could only
use one hand for the hatchet. Then he had to make two stakes from
stout, hard wood, cut a notch at one end, and drive them into the
ground with the flat of the hatchet. But the hardest part was trying
to bend the sapling down to the stake and fitting it into the notch.
It took the weight of both of them to bring the sapling to the ground.
If they got the slightest bit off balance, it would spring up again.
Once David fell off; the sapling went _swish!_ back into the air,
flinging the astonished Phoenix thirty feet up the mountainside.

It was not until afternoon, when the sun had turned ruddy and shadows
were beginning to stretch dark fingers across the land, that they
finished the job. But at last the saplings were set in the notches,
the nooses were formed and fastened on. Grass and leaves were strewn
over the snares; chips, hewn branches, and other evidences of their
work were removed. They sat down and looked proudly at each other.

"My boy," said the Phoenix, "I have had a wide, and sometimes painful,
experience with traps; so you may believe me when I say that these
are among the best I have seen. We have done well."

"They're sure strong enough," David agreed, flexing his fingers to
take the stiffness out of them. "But what are we going to do if the
Scientist does get caught in one?"

"We shall burn that bridge when we reach it, my boy. Now, do you have
the pliers, wire-cutters, and screw driver below?"

"Yes, they're down in the cellar. What are we going to do with them,

"Patience, patience! You will be told when the time comes. I shall
meet you tonight after dark, as soon as it is safe for me to come
down. I trust you will have everything ready?"

"Are you coming _down_?"

"Precisely, my boy. A risk, I admit, but a necessary one. There is a
hedge at the back of your house, is there not? Splendid. You may await
me there."

       *       *       *       *       *

David, sitting in the shadow of the hedge, jumped when he heard the
Phoenix's quiet "Good evening, my boy."

"Phoenix," he whispered, "how did you do it? Golly, I didn't see you
at all, and it isn't even dark yet."

"I have been hunted long enough, my boy, to have learned a few tricks.
It is merely a matter of gliding close to the ground, selecting the
best shadows, and keeping a sharp lookout. Well, let us get on with
the Plan. Have you the tools here?"

"Yes, here they are."

"Splendid! Now, my boy, since we must continue your education during
the night, it is necessary that we have some way of getting in touch
with each other. If you climb the mountainside in the dark, you may
unwittingly fall into our own snare. It is far easier for me to come
down than it is for you to go up, and under cover of darkness I can do
it quite safely. The question now is, how will you know when I have
arrived? That, my boy, is the nub, or crux, of the situation. A
difficult problem, you will admit. But I have worked out the

The Phoenix lowered its voice impressively.

"My boy, we are going to install this bell in your room, and the
pushbutton on the base of that telephone pole. When I arrive here at
night, I shall press the button to let you know that I am ready to go.
A magnificent idea, isn't it?"

It did not seem very practical to David. "Well, Phoenix, that's a good
idea," he said carefully. "But how are we going to hide the wires?
And what about the noise of the bell?"

"Nothing to it, my boy! The wires? There are wires between your house
and the telephone pole already--one more would not be noticed. The
noise? You have a pillow on your bed, under which the bell can be

"Yes, that's true." It still sounded impractical.

"Just imagine it!" the Phoenix continued enthusiastically. "Perhaps
later we can install another bell at this end. Then we could learn
Morse code and send messages to each other. Exactly like a private
telephone line!"

Put in this way, the idea had a certain appeal, and David found
himself warming to it. But there was another thing to consider.

"How about electricity, Phoenix?"

"Look above you, my boy! The telephone pole is simply loaded down with
power lines waiting to be tapped."

The Phoenix was evidently set on carrying out the Plan, and David did
not want to wear out the bird's patience with more objections.
And--well, why not? There should be no harm in trying it out, anyway.

They gathered up the tools and walked along the hedge to the telephone
pole, which was in one corner of the yard. The Phoenix began to
uncoil the wire, while David gazed up doubtfully at the shadowy maze
of lines and insulators on the cross-arms.

"Electricity," said the Phoenix thoughtfully, "is a complicated and
profound subject. There are amperes, and there are volts, and there
are kilowatt hours. I might also mention positive and negative
and--ah--all that sort of thing. Most profound. Perhaps I had better
investigate up there. Screw driver, please."

The Phoenix took the screw driver in one claw and flew up to the top
of the pole. David could hear the creak of the lines under the
Phoenix's weight and the rattling of the screw driver against the
porcelain insulators. For some minutes the Phoenix investigated,
clicking and scraping about, and muttering "Quite so" and "_There_ we
are." Then it fluttered down again and rubbed its wings together.

"The whole situation up there is a lot simpler than I thought it would
be, my boy. The power lines merely come up to the pole on one side,
pass through the insulators, and go away from the pole on the other
side. Child's play! The covering on the lines is rather tough,
however. We shall have to use the wire-cutters."

The Phoenix returned to the top of the pole with the cutters, and
worked on the wires for five more minutes. Bits of debris began to
shower down on the hedge. One of the wires vibrated on a low note like
a slack guitar string.

"We must not forget the difference between alternating and direct
current, my boy," said the Phoenix as it flew down again. "An
important problem, that. Where is our wire? Ah, there we are. The
pliers, please."

"Do you need any help up there?" David asked.

"No, everything is coming along beautifully, thank you. I shall have
everything finished in a flash."

Trailing one end of the wire in its beak, the Phoenix flew up into the
darkness once more. The tinkering sounds began again, and a spurt of
falling debris rattled in the leaves of the hedge.

Suddenly it happened. There was a terrific burst of blue light, a
sharp squawk from the Phoenix, and a shower of sparks. Another blue
flash blazed up. The lights in the house, and down the whole street,
flickered and went out. In the blackness which followed, each stage of
the Phoenix's descent could be heard as clearly as cannon shots: the
twanging and snapping as it tumbled through the wires, a drawn-out
squawk and the flop of wings in the air below, the crash into the
hedge, the jarring thud against the ground. Broken wires began to
sputter ominously and fire out sparks. A smell of singed feathers and
burning rubber filled the air.


By the light of the sparks David saw the Phoenix staggering to its
feet. He jumped to the bird's side, but the Phoenix waved him away
with its wing.

"Quick, my boy," it gasped. "We must make a strategic retreat! Meet me
on the ledge in the morning. Ouch!" The Phoenix beat at the smoldering
sparks in its tail and flew off, leaving a trail of acrid smoke
hanging in the air.

David had the presence of mind to gather up all the tools, the wire,
bell, and pushbutton, and one of the Phoenix's feathers, which had
been torn out during the fall. He slipped through a cellar window, hid
the equipment under a stack of old boxes, and ran noisily up the
stairs into the kitchen.

"Hey!" he shouted. "The lights are out!"

"Is that you, dear?" came Mother's anxious voice from the dining room.

"The telephone's dead!" Dad shouted from the hall.

Aunt Amy came bumping down the stairs with a candle. "It's that
burglar!" she cried. "Turning out all the lights so he can murder us
in our beds!"

"Look!" David shouted, "the line's broken in our back yard!"

They could hear the wailing of sirens now. Fire trucks, repair trucks,
and police cars pulled up in front of the house. Everyone in the block
turned out to see what had happened. It took the repair men an hour to
untangle the wires and fix them. And all the time policemen were
going through the crowd, asking questions and writing things down in
their notebooks. They were looking rather haggard, David thought.

8: _In Which David and the Phoenix Visit a Banshee, and a Surprise Is
Planted in the Enemy's Camp_


Next day Mother asked David to help her straighten out the garden,
which had been trampled by the repair men; so he could not go to see
the Phoenix until after lunch. But when that was finished, he rushed
up the mountainside as fast as he could, wondering all the way what he
and the Phoenix were going to do now.

The ledge was empty when he got there. He shouted, "Phoenix!" and

"Hel-l-lp!" came a faint answering cry from the other end of the

David jumped through the thicket. A pitiful sight met his eyes. There
was the Phoenix, dangling by one foot from the snare, its wings feebly
struggling and its free foot clawing the air. The feathers of its
wings and tail were singed. Great beads of sweat rolled from its
forehead into a puddle on the ground below. The snared foot was blue
and swollen.

"Get me down," gasped the Phoenix weakly.

David took a running leap at the sapling, which broke under the sudden
increase of weight, and the two of them crashed to the ground. He
unfastened the noose and dragged the Phoenix to the shadiest, softest
spot on the ledge.

"Hoist with my own petard," said the Phoenix bitterly. "Rub my foot,
will you? Oh dear oh dear oh dear! Hurts."

"What happened?" David asked as he rubbed the swollen foot. "How long
have you been caught?"

"Missed my way in the dark," said the Phoenix, wiping its brow.
"Thought I was on the other side of the ledge, and landed right on
that fool trap. Hung there all night and all morning. Thought you
would never come, my boy. Oh dear, oh dear, what a horrible
experience! My tail was still on fire when I landed, too. I fully
expected to be burned to a crisp." A large tear rolled down the
Phoenix's beak.

David murmured soothing words and continued to chafe the Phoenix's
foot. "Does it feel any better now?"

"The feeling is coming back, my boy," said the Phoenix, gritting its
beak. "Ouch! All pins and needles." It flexed its toes gingerly. "Rub
a bit more, please. Gently."

The swelling began to go down. With a handful of damp grass David
soothed the marks left by the noose.

"That stupid Electric Company!" the Phoenix suddenly burst out.
"Putting everyone in danger with a short-circuited power line! Let
this be a lesson to you, my boy. Anything worth doing is worth doing
well. They will hear from us, believe me! We shall write them a stiff

"Well, Phoenix," said David hopefully, "we can set the snare again if
we can find another good sapling; and we still have the other one, so
we're pretty well protected. And why couldn't we meet every night by
the hedge, the way we did last night? The bell was a good idea, but
we _could_ get along without it."

The Phoenix sighed. "I suppose you are right, my boy. There is no use
crying over spilt milk. One must set one's jaw and--good heavens, my
boy! _Duck!_"

The Phoenix threw itself to the ground and wildly motioned to David to
do the same. He flattened himself out beside the bird and said, "What
is it, Phoenix?"

"Down the mountainside," whispered the Phoenix. "Look! Do not stick
your head over too far."

David wormed his way to the edge, peered down, and gasped. Below him,
on the grassy slope at the foot of the scarp, was a figure clad in
khaki. It was the Scientist.

"Do you think he saw us?" the Phoenix whispered.

"I don't think so," David whispered back. "He's looking off to the
left. Oh, Phoenix, what if he comes up here? What'll we do?"

"Listen," hissed the Phoenix, "run down there. Talk to him, lead him
away, distract his attention, anything. Only be quick!"

"All right!"

The Phoenix melted into the thicket, and David jumped to his feet. As
he dashed down the trail his brain whirled with questions. What should
he do? What could he say? How could he lead the Scientist away? Where
would the Phoenix go?

In his haste he forgot one important thing. His foot tripped over the
pile of grass and leaves on the trail. The released sapling sprang
upward, the noose tightened with a cruel jerk around his ankle, and he
was snatched into the air. As the blood rushed to his head he lost
control of himself and began to struggle wildly and shout at the top
of his voice.

The flat dry voice of the Scientist drifted to him as if through a
long tunnel. "What's all this? What are you doing here? Who set this

"Get me down," David choked. "Please!"

A hand seized him by the scruff of the neck. A knife flashed through
the air and cut the rope. David landed on his feet, but his legs gave
way and he dropped to his knees. He felt dizzy as the blood rushed
away from his head again.

The Scientist tilted his sun helmet back and said, "Well,
well--David," in a disagreeable tone. His eyes narrowed behind the
spectacles. "What is this snare doing here?"

David struggled to his feet and clutched a bush for support. "Thank
you for cutting me down," he said.

The cold blue eyes found David's and held them in a hypnotic stare.
"What is this trap doing here? Who set it?"

"I--I was coming down the trail and--and--I was caught in it," David

"You are avoiding my question, young man," said the Scientist.
"Who--set--this--snare? Answer me!"

There was a brilliant flash of gold and blue in the sunlight, the
whistle of feathers cleaving the air, the sharp _thwock!_ of fisted
talons striking. The Scientist pitched forward with a surprised grunt
and lay still across the trail--and the Phoenix, executing a flip in
the air to check its speed, settled down beside David.

"View halloo!" it shouted excitedly. "Yoicks and Tallyho! Did you see
that stoop, my boy? By Jove, the best-trained falcon could not have
done better! Believe me, I have been saving that blow for a long time!
By Jove, what a magnificent stoop! I think I shall take up
Scientist-hunting as a regular thing!"

"Thank goodness, Phoenix!" David exclaimed. "Another minute and you
would've been too late! But I hope you haven't--hurt him very much."

"Nonsense, my boy," said the Phoenix. "A head so stuffed with
scientific fact cannot be injured. He will come to in a short while."
The Phoenix lifted the Scientist's sun helmet and examined the back of
his head. "A large lump is developing, my boy. A most pleasant sight!
I fear the sun helmet is now useless--crushed like an eggshell." And
the Phoenix smiled proudly.


"Well, I hope it isn't serious," David said doubtfully. "Anyway, we'll
have to do something."

"Precisely, my boy. But I think we should have a drink first." The
Phoenix detached a canteen from the Scientist's belt and took a deep
swig. "Ah, delicious! Our friend is well prepared, my boy." And
indeed, the Scientist had all sorts of things with him: a hand-ax, a
sheath knife, a compass, a camera, binoculars, a stop watch, notebooks
and pencils, a coil of rope, maps. There was also a packet of
sandwiches, which the Phoenix opened and began to eat.

"Now, listen, Phoenix, we have to do something."

"Quite right, my boy," the Phoenix mumbled, with its mouth full. "Have
a sandwich--spoils of war--peanut butter--very nourishing. The fact is
that I have just thought of another plan, which cannot fail. Have we
any money left?"

"Yes, four gold pieces. Why?"

"Splendid. Now, my boy, I shall leave you. When the Scientist wakes
up, you will help him down to wherever he lives. Find out where his
room is. I shall meet you by the hedge at midnight. Be sure you have
the gold pieces with you."

"All right. What are we--"

"Sure you will not have a sandwich?"

"No, thank you. What are we--"

"Very well. Farewell, then, my boy. Till midnight."

David poured what was left in the canteen over the Scientist's head
and fanned him with a notebook. Presently the man stirred and groaned.
Then he sat up and muttered, "What hit me?"

"Can you stand up yet?" David said.

Too dazed to ask any more questions, the Scientist got up, groaning,
put on his broken spectacles, collected his scattered equipment, and
leaned on David. The two of them proceeded slowly down the trail
together, frequently sitting down to rest. The Scientist murmured the
name of his hotel and pointed out the direction.

Townspeople stared at them as they passed, but no one stopped them or
asked questions, and they reached the hotel without further incident.
They entered the lobby, and the Scientist sank into a chair.

"Let me help you to your room," said David.

In a few minutes the Scientist got up again, and they took the
elevator to the fourth floor. David closely watched the direction they
were going, and when they came into the Scientist's room, he looked
quickly through the window. There was a fire escape just outside. He
had the information now: fourth floor, west side, fire escape by

The Scientist eased himself onto the bed with a groan.

Then he turned to David and said severely: "There's something strange
about all this, and I intend to get to the bottom of it. You'll be
hearing from me, young man!"

"All right," said David, closing the door. "And you'll be hearing from
_us_," he added in an undertone, "if I know the Phoenix!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Flying at night was colder than flying by day, but it was more
thrilling, too. They whistled through an immense blackness. Stars
glittered overhead, and quicksilver patches of moonlight and shadow
flashed across the clouds below. They were going to Ireland, but why,
David did not know. The Phoenix was playing its wait-and-see game

In an hour or so they shot out over the edge of the cloud mass, and
David could see a rocky coast below, dark and cold in the half-light.
The Phoenix began to slant down toward it, and presently they landed
in a little meadow. One side of the meadow ran down to a bog filled
with reeds, and on the other side was a gloomy wood. Everything was
dark and indistinct, but David thought he could tell why the Phoenix
had called this the Emerald Isle. The grass beneath their feet was the
thickest he had ever felt. He touched a boulder and found it furry
with moss. With the wood and the reed-choked bog, the whole place
would be rich with various greens in the daylight.

Just then they saw a little man approaching them from the wood. He was
three feet tall, dressed all in green, and had a long white beard.
When he reached them he raised his cap politely and said, "Good
evenin' to you."

"A fine evening to you, my good Leprechaun," said the Phoenix. "Could
you kindly tell us--"

"Will you have a cigar?" the Leprechaun interrupted.

With a surprised "Thank you very much," the Phoenix took the cigar,
bit off the end, and popped it into its beak. The Leprechaun lighted
it, and the Phoenix puffed away.

"Stick o' gum, lad?" said the Leprechaun to David, holding out a pack.

"Why, yes, thank you," said David. He took the stick of gum from the
pack, and was immediately sorry for it. The stick was made of wood and
had a small wire spring, like a mouse trap, which snapped down on his
finger and made him yelp with pain. At the same instant the Phoenix's
cigar exploded, knocking the startled bird backwards into a bush.

"Haw haw haw!" shouted the Leprechaun, rolling on the ground and
holding his sides. "Haw haw haw!"

In a trice the Phoenix had pounced on the Leprechaun and pinned him to
the ground.

"Let him up," said David furiously. "I'll punch his head for him."

"I think, my boy," said the Phoenix coldly, "that I shall carry the
creature up into the clouds and drop him. Or should we take him back
with us and hand him over to the Scientist?"

"Now, don't take offense, Your Honor," said the Leprechaun. "I thought
you'd look at it as kind o' comic."

"Exceedingly comic," said the Phoenix severely. "I am quite overcome
with mirth and merriment. But perhaps--_perhaps_--I shall let you off
lightly if you tell us where the Banshee lives."

"The--the Banshee of Mare's Nest Wood?"

"The same. Speak!"

A new light of respect and fear came into the Leprechaun's eyes.
"She's a terror, she is. What'll you be wanting--"

"None of your business!" roared the Phoenix. "Where is she?"

The Leprechaun had begun to tremble. "Follow the path yonder through
the wood until you reach the cave, Your Honor. You're not friends o'
hers, are you? You'll not be telling on me? I'm real sorry for those
jokes, Your Honor."

The Leprechaun's fright was so genuine now that the Phoenix relented
and let him go. The little creature dashed off like a rabbit into the

"Let that be a lesson to you, my boy," said the Phoenix. "Beware the
Leprechaun bearing gifts. But I wonder why the thought of the Banshee
frightened him so?"

They followed the path until they came to the mouth of a cave under a
heap of rocks. The Phoenix plunged in, and David nervously followed.
The cave turned out to be a long passageway which led, after several
turns, into a chamber.

From the ceiling of this rocky vault hung an electric light bulb,
which glared feebly through drifts of smoke. All around the walls were
wooden boxes, stacked up to make shelves and cupboards. These were
filled with an astonishing array of objects: bottles, vials, alembics,
retorts, test tubes, decanters, cages, boxes, jars, pots, skulls,
books, snake skins, wands, waxen images, pins and needles, locks of
hair, crystal balls, playing cards, dice, witch-hazel forks, tails of
animals, spices, bottles of ink in several colors, clay pipes, a
small brass scale, compasses, measuring cups, a piggy bank which
squealed off and on in a peevish way, balls of string and ribbons, a
pile of magazines called _The Warlock Weekly_, a broken ukulele,
little heaps of powder, colored stones, candle ends, some potted
cacti, and an enormous cash register. In the middle of the chamber a
little hideous crone in a Mother Hubbard crouched over a saucepan,
stirring it with a wooden spoon. The saucepan was resting in the coals
of an open fire, and smoke and steam together spread out in a murky,
foul-smelling fog.

The crone peered at them over the top of her spectacles and cackled,
"Come in, come in, dearies. I'll be with you as soon as ever I finish
this brew."

The Phoenix, who had been gazing around the chamber in surprise, said,
"My dear Banshee, since when have you taken up witchcraft? This is
most unexpected."

"Ah, 'tis the Phoenix!" exclaimed the hag, peering at them again.
"Well, fancy that now! Och, you may well ask, and I'll be telling you.
'Tis a poor life being a Banshee--long hours and not so much as
sixpence in it for a full night's work, and I got that sick of it! So
I changed me trade. 'Sure, you'll never make a go of it,' they told
me, 'and at your age,' they says, 'and once you've got your station
in life,' they says, 'there's no changing it.' 'It's in the prime of
me life I am,' says I, 'and I'll not be changing me mind for all your
cackling,' says I, 'and if certain mouths don't shut up,' says I,
'I'll cast spells that'll make certain people wish they were dead.'
That set them back on their heels, you may be sure. Well, 'twas the
best decision of me life. The money pours in like sorrows to a widow,
and I'll be retiring within the year to live out my days like a proper

Then the Banshee caught sight of David and hobbled over to him,
peering into his frightened eyes.

"Ah, the wee darling," she crooned, "the plump little mannikin. What a
broth he'd make, to be sure." She pinched his arm, and he started back
in terror. "So firm and plump, to make the mouth water. Sell him to
me, Phoenix!"

"Nonsense," said the Phoenix sharply. "What we desire--"

At this instant the contents of the saucepan began to hiss and bubble.
"Whoops, dearies, the brew is boiling!" shrieked the Banshee, and she
hobbled back to the fire to resume her work. She looked in a recipe
book, stirred, clapped her hands, sang hair-raising incantations in a
quavery voice, and added a pinch of salt and sulfur. She sprinkled
spices from a shaker, waved her wand, popped in a dead toad, and
fanned up the fire with an ostrich plume.


"Now for the hard part," she said, grinning at them toothlessly. She
measured out a spoonful of green powder, weighed it in the scales, and
flung it into the saucepan. There was a loud explosion. A huge blast
of steam flared out and engulfed them. When it had cleared, they saw
the Banshee tilting the saucepan over a small bottle. One ruby drop of
fluid fell into the bottle. It darted forth rays of light as it fell,
and tinkled like a silver coin rolling down flights of marble steps.


The Banshee corked the bottle and held it up proudly to the light.
"Will you look at that, now?" she crooned. "The finest ever I brewed.
Ah, the mystic droplet! Some swain will be buying that, now, and
putting it in a lassie's cup o' tea, and she'll be pining away for
love of him before the day's out."

She put the bottle on the shelf, pasted a label on it, and turned to
them with a businesslike air.

"Now, dearies, what'll you be wanting? Philtres? Poison?--I've a
special today, only five shillings a vial. A spell? What about your
fortunes?--one shilling if seen in the crystal ball, one and six if
read from the palm. A hex?--I've the finest in six counties. A ticket
to the Walpurgis Night Ball?"

"We want a Wail," said the Phoenix. "And we shall accept nothing but
the best and loudest you have."

"Ah, a Banshee's Wail, is it?" cried the hag. "You've come to the
right shop, dearies, to be sure. Now, let me see...." She hobbled to a
shelf which contained a row of boxes, ran her finger along them,
stopped at one, and took it down. "Here we are--key of C-sharp, two
minutes long, only five shillings threepence."

"No, no," said the Phoenix. "A larger one. We have something more than
mice to frighten."

"A bigger one? Och, here's a lovely one, now--five minutes long,
ascending scale with a sob at the end, guaranteed to scare a statue.
Yours for ten and six. I call that a real bargain, now!"

"Bah!" said the Phoenix impatiently. "Enough of these squeaks! We want
a real _Wail_, my dear Banshee--such a Wail as never before was heard
on the face of this earth. And stop this babbling about shillings and
pence. We are prepared to pay in gold." The Phoenix took the four
pieces of gold from David and carelessly tossed them into the air.

The Banshee's eyes flew wide open, and she twirled herself around like
a top. "Och, the sweet music of its tinkling!" she exclaimed. "The
lovely sheen of light upon it! _There's_ a sight for eyes used to
naught but silver! Ah, but dearies, I've no Wail worth four pieces of
gold. I'll have to make one up special." She hobbled rapidly around
the chamber until she had found a box as large as a bird cage, and an
ear trumpet. She opened the box, shook it to make sure it was empty,
and put in two heads of cabbage. ("Such monstrous appetites these
Wails do have!" she explained.) She fastened the lid carefully with a
catch-lock, and inserted the ear trumpet in a hole in one side of the
box. Then she disappeared through a sound-proof door, which they had
not seen before on account of the smoke.

Fifteen minutes later the Banshee came out with the box, plugging up
the hole in its side with a bit of wax. She was pale and trembling,
and beads of sweat covered her face. She smiled weakly at them, seized
an earthen-ware jug, and drained it in one gulp. The color began to
return to her face.

"Wsssht!" she gasped, wiping her brow with the sleeve of her Mother
Hubbard. "Ah, dearies, that was the effort of me life! 'Tis a Wail to
make one burst with pride, though I do say it meself. Thirteen minutes
long by the clock, with a range of ten octaves! 'Twould frighten the
Old Nick himself!"

"Splendid!" said the Phoenix. "The fact is, I sometimes suspect that
that is precisely with whom we are dealing at home."

The light suddenly dawned on David. "Phoenix!" he cried. "I bet we're
going to give the Wail to the Scientist!"

"Precisely, my boy!" The Phoenix beamed.

"Oh, golly golly golly!" David sang as he danced around.

"And I'll guarantee it, dearies!" the Banshee cackled. "One hundred
per cent satisfaction or your money back!"

"Defeat and confusion to the enemy!" the Phoenix shouted, giving the
special squawk which was its battle cry.

The Banshee received her gold. The Phoenix told David for goodness
sake not to drop the box or let the lid pop open, or they would regret
it to their dying day. David, hearing the rustle of the Wail as it
ravenously attacked the cabbages inside the box, assured the Phoenix
that he would be careful. The Banshee said, "Ah, Phoenix, do sell the
laddie to me," but her tone was more teasing than serious, and they
all laughed. Good-bys were said all round, and David and the Phoenix
left. The last thing they heard as they felt their way up the dark
passage was the happy cackling of the Banshee and the clang of the
cash register.

       *       *       *       *       *

They got back to the hotel before dawn and very carefully crept down
the fire escape into the Scientist's room. They put the box on the
bedside table, stuck out their tongues at the sleeping Scientist, and
crept out again. Then they went home, the Phoenix to the ledge and
David to bed, where he fell asleep instantly.

The Wail was wildly successful. The Scientist released it from its box
at seven o'clock in the morning. People living in the hotel thought
the world had come to its end. The rest of the town wondered if it was
a riot, or an earthquake, or both with three steam calliopes thrown
in for good measure. David, who lived twelve blocks from the hotel,
stirred in his sleep and dreamed he was riding a fire engine. Even the
Phoenix claimed later that a kind of moan was borne on the breeze all
the way up to the ledge.

The hotel burst into activity like a kicked anthill. People poured
down the fire escapes, shot out through the doors, lowered themselves
into the street with ropes of knotted blankets. Others barricaded
themselves in their rooms by piling furniture against the doors and
windows. One guest found his way to the cellar and hid in an ash can
for two days. The manager crawled into the office safe and locked the
door, without even bothering to remember that he was the only one who
knew the combination. The telephone exchange was jammed as calls
flooded in to mobilize the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross, the Salvation
Army, the National Guard, and the Volunteer Flood Control Association.
When the Wail finally died out (which was not until seven-thirty,
because it had devoured both cabbages during the night and had grown
to more than twice its original size) the police entered the hotel in
force, armed to the eyebrows. They found nothing. At the end of a
three-hour search the Chief handed in his resignation.

As for the Scientist, he disappeared completely. A farmer living three
miles out of town said he saw a man, dressed in a nightshirt and
head-bandage, running down the valley road. The farmer guessed the
man's speed to be thirty-five miles an hour. But, he added, there was
such a cloud of dust being raised that he could not see very well.

"It might have been fifty miles an hour," he said.

No one doubted him.


9: _In Which David and the Phoenix Call On a Faun, and a Lovely
Afternoon Comes to a Strange End_


The Phoenix was dead tired. And no wonder--all in one week it had
escaped from Gryffons, raced with a Witch, made round-trip flights to
the Pacific Isles and Ireland, been caught in a snare, got burned by a
short circuit, and been knocked down by an exploding cigar. Even a
bird as strong as the Phoenix cannot do all these things without
needing a rest. So the traveling part of David's education was
stopped for a while to let the Phoenix recover.

The days went by pleasantly on the ledge. Summer was at its height.
The sun fell on them with just the right amount of warmth as they
lolled on the grass. The air was filled with a lazy murmuring.
"Listen," the murmuring seemed to say, "don't talk, don't think--close
your eyes and listen." Below them, the whole valley danced and wavered
in the heat waves, so that it seemed to be under water.

There were long, lazy conversations that began nowhere and ended
nowhere--the wonderful kind in which you say whatever comes to your
head without fear of being misunderstood, because what you say has
little importance anyway. The Phoenix told of the times and adventures
it had had. Of the forgotten corners of the world where life went on
as it had from the beginning, and of friends who lived there. Of
Trolls who mined metal from the earth and made from it wondrous
machines which whirred and clattered and clanked and did absolutely
nothing. ("The best kind of machine after all, my boy, since they
injure no one, and there is nothing to worry about when they break
down.") Of Unicorns ("Excellent chaps, but so frightfully melancholy")
which shone white in the sun and tossed their ivory horns like
rapiers. Of a Dragon who, having no treasure to guard, got together a
pathetic heap of colored pebbles in its cave. ("And really, he came to
believe in time that they were absolutely priceless, and went about
with a worried frown of responsibility on his brow!") David, in turn,
told the Phoenix about the games he used to play when he lived in the
flat country, and all about school, and Mother and Dad and Aunt Amy
and Beckie.

He could not help laughing now and then over the Scientist's defeat.
But whenever this came up, the Phoenix would shake its head with a
kind of sad wisdom.

"My boy, there are certain things, such as head colds and forgetting
where you have left your keys, which are inevitable--and I am afraid
that the Scientist is, too."

"Oh, Phoenix, you don't think he'll come back, do you?"

"Yes, my boy, I do. I can see the whole train of events: He will
recover from his fright. He will be curious about the Wail, and will
return to investigate it. Once here, he will remember us, and we shall
have to take him into account once more."

"Oh. Do you think it'll happen soon?"

"Oh, no, my boy, nothing to worry about for the time being. But we
must remember that it will happen some day."

"Yes, I guess you're right. I think he's hateful!"

"I cannot disagree with you there, my boy. Of course, I have no doubt
that, in general, the advancement of science is all to the good.
Knowledge is power. But on days like this I sometimes wonder.... Does
it not seem to you that the highest aim in life at the moment is to
enjoy the sunlight and allow others to do the same?"

"You're right, Phoenix--but then, you always are. I was just thinking
the same thing. It's funny ... I mean ... well, _you_ know. Why can't
people leave other people alone--and--and--well, just _enjoy_
themselves and lie in the sun and listen to the wind?"

"That is the way of the world, my boy. Getting and spending, and all
that sort of thing. But come! Why should we worry over the follies of
the rest of the world? A day like this was made for living, not
thinking. Begone, dull care!"

And they would forget the Scientist and watch a pair of butterflies
chase each other instead.

But one day the Phoenix suddenly stood up with a startled expression
on its face. "My dear chap!" it exclaimed. "I have just remembered!

"What about tomorrow?"

"Why, my boy, tomorrow another century rounds its mark. To be brief,
tomorrow is my birthday. My five hundredth birthday."

"Well, congratulations, Phoenix!"

"Thank you, my boy. Five hundred.... Destiny.... Have I mentioned
before, my boy, that I have a magnificent destiny?"

"No. What is it, Phoenix?"

"I--well, it is strange, my boy, but I do not know ... but that it is
magnificent no one can doubt."

"Do I have one too?"

"Of course, my boy. We all do."

David was glad of that. He did not know exactly what a destiny was,
however, and he tried to think of how one would look. But the only
picture which came to his mind was that of a small, mousy creature
(his destiny) looking up in admiration to a splendid thing of flame
and gold, dazzling to the eyes--the Phoenix's mysterious destiny.

He said, "We'll have to do something special tomorrow to celebrate,

The Phoenix looked thoughtful. "I think we had better do whatever we
are going to do _today_," it said.

"Well, we can do something today _and_ tomorrow, then," said David.
"After all, a birthday only comes once a year, and it seems a shame to
spend only one day on it. Especially when it's a five hundredth

"Tomorrow ..." said the Phoenix doubtfully. "I have a strange feeling,
my boy--for once, I find myself unable to explain--most odd, _most_
odd ... five hundredth birthday...."

"Ah, well," it went on more cheerfully, "I shall undoubtedly remember
later. The pressing question is, what shall we do now?"

David got up, thought for a while, and suddenly flung his arms wide.
"Oh, Phoenix," he cried, "it's such a beautiful day, I wish it could
go on forever! Couldn't we go somewhere--somewhere where we--oh, I
don't know. I can't explain it. Anywhere _you_ say, Phoenix."

The Phoenix looked at him for a long time. "I think I understand, my
boy. Yes.... How about one of the forgotten places I told you about?
Should you like to meet a Faun?"

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a green valley, completely enclosed by the barren mountains
which towered above it. At one end a waterfall hung on the face of a
cliff, a misty thread pouring into a rainbow-arched pool. A brook
serpentined through fields and groves of trees. There were flocks of
sheep and goats in the fields. Here and there were strange ruins of
marble and red granite--columns, peristyles, benches carved with
lions' heads, and pedestals.

They landed in a little glade, and David got down in silent
wonderment. The very stillness of the air was enchanted. The grass,
dappled with sun and shadow, wore a mantle of flowers. Clouds of
butterflies sprang up at their approach and swirled about them. To
their right stood two broken columns, half-hidden beneath a wild
tangle of vine and clusters of purple grapes. Beyond was the forest,
dark and cool and silent, with shafts of sunlight in it like golden
spears pinning the forest floor to earth. There was no breeze. And as
David stood there, scarcely daring to breathe, they heard the sound of
shepherd pipes coming from the edge of the wood. It was a minor tune,
but somehow lilting too, with the rippling of water in it, and the
laughter of birds flying high, and the whisper of reeds as they bend
together by the edge of streams, and the gaiety of crickets by night,
and the pouring of summer rain.

The piping died away, and the Phoenix beckoned to the spellbound
David. Together they walked across the glade, leaving behind them a
wake of swirling butterflies. An immense oak stood at the edge of the
forest. At its foot, on a bed of moss, sat the Faun.

He was the same size as David. From the waist down he was covered with
shaggy hair like a goat's, and instead of feet he had cloven hooves.
The hair on his head was black and curly, and tumbled around small
pointed ears and a pair of short horns. His eyes were slanted slightly
upward, and he had a pointed chin and a snub nose.

The Faun waved his pipes saucily at the Phoenix and gave a wry smile.
"Hullo, Phoenix! Back again to honor us with your wit and wisdom? What
gems of advice have you got for us now?"

"My dear Faun," said the Phoenix stiffly, "I have brought my friend
David, who is acquiring an education. We--"

The Faun smiled at David. "Want to race?" he said.

"Sure," said David. "Where to?"

"One moment," harrumphed the Phoenix. "What we--"

"Down to that pedestal and back," said the Faun.

"All right. Wait till I tie my shoe."

The Phoenix harrumphed again. "This is all very well in its place, but
we _should_--"

"Ready?" said the Faun. "One, two, three, _go_!"


They dashed for the stone marker. It was an even race until they
reached the pedestal, but there David tried to turn without slowing
down, slipped on the grass, and went sprawling on his hands and knees.
The Faun knew better. He sprang at the pedestal with both hooves,
bounced from it like a spring, and began to race back to the oak. But
then he too fell, tripping over a vine, and David shot past him and
touched the oak one jump ahead of him, shouting "First!"

They sat down on the moss, panting. The Faun said, "You can really
run! I'm sorry you fell."

"Well, you fell too, so that makes us even," said David. They looked
at each other and for some reason burst out laughing. They rolled
around on the moss and laughed until tears came, while the Phoenix
fidgeted in reproachful silence.

When they had calmed down a little, the Faun said, "Can you dance?"

"No," said David. "I wish I could, though."

"The educational value of dancing is practically nil," the Phoenix
began severely. "I advise--"

"Sure you can dance," said the Faun. "Listen." He brought the pipes to
his lips and began to play.

And much to his surprise and delight, David found himself dancing as
though he had never done anything else in his life. The wonderful
thing was that he did not have to think about what he was doing: the
music was doing it all for him. He saw that even the Phoenix was
shuffling around in time to the piping, and looking very embarrassed
about it, too.

"There," said the Faun when they had finished, "you _can_ dance, and
very well. Even old Phoenix can dance." Suddenly he jumped up and
cried, "Let's go--come on!" and started to run.

David followed, not knowing where they were going and not caring. The
Phoenix came after them, half running and half flying to keep up. They
raced across the glade, through a stand of trees, and out into the
meadow beyond. There they came to a bank of daisies, and threw
themselves into the middle of it and began to pelt each other with
blossoms. The Phoenix, finally caught up in the spirit of it,
collected a huge bunch while they were wrestling, flew suddenly over
them, and drowned them beneath a deluge of flowers. Near by was the
stream. They splashed in the shallows, skipped pebbles over the
surface, and dug a harbor with two dikes in the sandy part of the
shore. The Faun showed David how to build little boats of reeds, and
the Phoenix made them sail by blowing up a wind with its wings.

They had a tree-climbing contest, which David won because his feet
were better than hooves for standing on branches. But the Faun won the
jumping contest because of the tremendous spring in his legs. They
came out even in the handstand, somersault, and skin-the-cat contest.
And the Phoenix won when they played skip-rope with a piece of vine,
because it could hover in the air with its wings while the vine
swished over and under.

They had fun with the sheep and goats, too. The Faun made the animals
dance and caper to a tune from his pipes, and showed David how to
ride on the rams. You crept up very quietly from behind--jumped
suddenly on their backs--got a quick grip around their necks--and away
in a rush! It was almost as good as flying, except that you got jolted
off sooner or later. Then watch out!--it took some quick dodging to
escape the horns of the angry rams. They left the goats alone, because
of their sharper horns and the wicked look in their eyes.

"I know where some pictures are," said the Faun. "Come on!" And he led
them to a kind of glade ringed with shattered columns. The ground
there was covered with moss and drifts of leaves. They each got a
stick to clear away the debris, and uncovered a beautiful mosaic
pavement. It was made of bits of colored stone and tile, which were
arranged to make pictures. There were scenes of youths treading out
wine, minstrels with lyres, gods with curly hair, and a beast which
was half man and half horse. There were maidens dancing to flute and
drums, hunters battling with boars and lions, warriors clashing with
sword and shield and spear. There were series of pictures telling
stories of wonders and adventures in far-distant lands, voyages, wars,
conquests. The Faun proudly pointed out a picture of other Fauns
dancing with Nymphs. The Phoenix gazed very thoughtfully at some
scenes of a bird building and sitting in a nest of flames. But the
last pictures of this story had been broken up by roots, so they could
not see how it ended.

When they came to the end of the valley, where the rainbow arched over
the pool, David told them of the pot of gold which is supposed to be
at the foot of rainbows. They looked for it, but without success,
because the rainbow disappeared whenever they got too close to it. So
David and the Faun contented themselves with jumping into the pool and
ducking each other and making bubbly noises, while the Phoenix, who
could not swim, stood on the shore and beamed at them. They picked
ferns from under the waterfall and made wreaths and garlands, which
they threw at the Phoenix's head like quoits. The Faun showed them a
certain place to shout from if you wanted to hear an echo. The Phoenix
shouted, "A stitch in time saves nine!" and the echo dolorously
answered, "A switch is fine for crime."

Wet and tired from splashing in the pool, they stretched out in the
sun to dry. A grapevine grew near them, and they gorged themselves on
the fruit, smearing their faces and hands with purple. And David
closed his eyes and thought, "Now I'm having a dream, and so is the
Phoenix. We're all dreaming the same thing and living in the dream,
and I wish--oh, I wish none of us will ever wake up!"

But he had just opened his eyes again when the Faun leaped to his feet
and cried "Listen!" and flicked his pointed ears forward like a cat.

David stood up and said in a puzzled voice, "I don't hear anything."
He noticed that the Phoenix had also got up, and was listening
uncomfortably to whatever it was.

"Listen! Oh, listen!" cried the Faun. There was a joyous light in his
eyes as he leaned forward with his lips slightly parted, straining
toward the mysterious silence. Suddenly he shouted, "I'm coming, I'm
coming!" and dashed off into the wood.

"Good heavens," muttered the Phoenix. "I had forgotten about--this.
Let us go home, my boy."

A strange, uncontrollable trembling had seized David's legs. He still
could hear nothing, but some feeling, some hint of an unknown,
tremendous event hung quivering in the air about them and sent little
electric thrills racing up and down his whole body.

"Oh, Phoenix, what is it, what is it?" he whispered.

"I think we had best be going, my boy," said the Phoenix anxiously.
"Come along."

"Phoenix--" But he heard it now. It came whispering toward them, the
sound of pipes caroling--pipes such as the Faun had played, but
greater, as an organ is greater than a flute. The wild, sweet sound
rose and fell, swelled like a full choir, diminished into one soprano
voice that pierced David through and through, caressing and tugging,
calling, "Come ... come ... run ... run...."

"Phoenix!" David cried. "Oh, Phoenix, listen, listen!"

"Run ... run ..." the pipes whispered.

"Let us go home, my boy," said the Phoenix warningly.

"Come ... come ..." cried the pipes.

They could be resisted no longer. In a transport of joy, David shouted "I'm
coming!" and raced away toward the sound. There was nothing in his mind
now, nothing in the whole world, but a desire to be near those pipes. He
must run like the winds, leap and shout, roll in the grass, throw himself
down flowered slopes, follow that magic music wherever it should lead. He
fled blindly through the wood, heedless of the branches which whipped his
face and the thorns which tore at his legs. The pipes were calling more
loudly now: "Run ... run ... faster ... faster...." Then the Phoenix
plunged to earth in front of him, threw out both wings, and shouted "Stop!"

"Let me go, Phoenix!" David cried. "Let me by! I want to run, I must

He made a desperate effort to push past the outstretched wings. But
the Phoenix flung him to the ground, picked him up before he could
kick once, and threw him on its back. Then they were flying at full
speed, dodging through gaps in the branches and between close-set
trunks, with leaves and twigs slashing them from every side. They
burst out of the wood and sped over a meadow. David saw below them a
huge Faun-like figure pacing majestically across the sward. A flaming
wreath encircled its brow, garlands of flowers hung from its arms and
shoulders, and those enchanted pipes were lifted to its lips. Around
the cloven hooves, and trailing out behind, danced a multitude of
creatures--lambs and kids gamboling, goats and rams tossing their
horns, foxes, furry waves of squirrels, rabbits kicking up their
heels, Fauns and Nymphs rollicking, frogs and crickets and serpents.
Above them flew birds and butterflies and beetles and bats in swirling
clouds. Full-voiced, the glorious pipes sang. "Come, come, run, run!
Follow, leap and dance, adore and obey! Run, oh, run, heed me before
all passes! Follow, before it is too late, too late, too late...."


And David, in a delirium of desire, shouted "I'm coming!" and jumped
from the Phoenix's back.

For an instant, as he fell through the air, he thought he would
succeed in joining the dancing throng. But the Phoenix, plunging after
him falconwise with folded wings, seized his collar in its talons, and
snatched him up from the very arms of the Faun, who had recognized him
and called his name as he fell.

Up toward the cloudless sky they soared. David cried, pleaded,
pommeled the Phoenix with his fists. The Phoenix ignored his
struggling and continued to climb with tremendous wing strokes. Up and
up and up.... The piping grew fainter in the distance, its magic
weakened. The enchanted dancers diminished into specks, the valley
fell away until it was only a green splash nestled among the jagged
peaks. And David burst into tears ... and then wondered why he was
crying ... and tried to remember, and could not. The trembling left
his body, and he dangled limply. His eyes closed.

10: _In Which a Five Hundredth Birthday Is Celebrated, and the Phoenix
Bows to Tradition_


"That's funny," said David, rubbing his eyes and looking around in a
puzzled way. "Where are we, Phoenix?"

"'Home is the sailor, home from the hill,'" the Phoenix said, "'And
the hunter home from the sea.' Or is it the other way around? At any
rate, we are home, my boy."

And so they were.

"Weren't we playing with a Faun just now?"

"Quite so."

"But there was something else," David said. "Something ... Didn't
somebody say, 'Follow, before it is too late,' or something like that?
_Did_ we follow?--I can't remember."

"No, my boy. By the time one hears that, it is already too late."

"Oh." Too late for what? he wondered. Oh, well ... He sighed, and fell
to daydreaming.

A cough from the Phoenix brought him back.

"Beg your pardon?"

"I have never seen you so thoughtful, my boy. However, I believe I
know what you are thinking about. It _is_ a difficult problem, is it

"Yes, I was just--"

"--thinking what you could get me for a birthday present," interrupted
the Phoenix. "Am I not correct?"

David, who had not even given this a thought until now, flushed.

"Aha!" said the Phoenix triumphantly. "Just as I thought! Believe me,
my dear fellow, when you have been around as long as _I_ have, you can
read the minds of your friends as easily as a book. Now, the problem
of what to give is a hard one at any time, but the problem of what to
give for a five hundredth birthday is even harder. A monogrammed ash
tray? I do not receive cigars often enough to make that practical. A
hand-knitted sweater? It would not fit (they never do). A gold-plated
watch chain? I have no watch. No, the best idea would be to get me
something which I can use."

"Certainly, Phoenix," David stammered. "What _do_ you want, then?"

"Ah! We have reached the kernel of the problem. And the answer, my
boy, is this: cinnamon."


"Precisely. Also a box of matches--the kind that strike anywhere, you

"Well--all right. It doesn't sound like much of a present, but if
that's what you really want.... What are you going to do with them,
Phoenix? I mean, if you don't mind my asking."

"The plain fact is, my boy," said the Phoenix doubtfully, "the plain
fact is--well, I do not know. Odd! But something tells me I shall need
them. Well, it will come to me in the morning, no doubt. And then, of
course, I shall be very glad to have them on hand."

"All right, cinnamon and matches, then. And I'll get some--no, I won't
tell you _that_. It'll be a surprise."

"A surprise? Splendid, my boy! You could not, I suppose, drop me a
small hint? No? But of course not--one hint and my powerful Intellect
could guess everything--and then the surprise would be spoiled. Well,
until tomorrow, then!"

       *       *       *       *       *


That evening David shut himself in his room and robbed his bank. It
was a squat, cast-iron box, with "A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned" in
raised letters on one side. The only way to open it was to smash it
with a crowbar, but it could be emptied. It had to be tilted just so,
with a knife blade in the slot to catch the coins and guide them out.
This is what David did, with a bread knife borrowed from the kitchen.
It was a slow, uncertain job, and one coin (he guessed it was a dime
by the way it rattled) never did come out. But the rest, which
included his change from Uncle Charles's present, would be enough.

Early next morning he went to the store and bought three large boxes
of stick cinnamon, two cans of powdered cinnamon, and a huge box of
matches. For the surprise he got a whole quart of strawberry ice
cream, with a piece of dry ice to keep it from melting. He wanted to
buy a cake, too, and candles, but there was not enough money left.
Then he remembered that a new batch of cookies had been baked at home
yesterday, which would have to do instead. He wrapped the cinnamon and
matches up in a neat package with white paper, tied it in a blue
ribbon, and wrote on it "To Feenix, Happy 500 Birthday, from David."
Then he took all the cookies from the jar, borrowed two plates and
spoons, put everything into a large paper bag, and set out for the
Phoenix's ledge.

He was surprised to find the Phoenix working busily in the middle of a
wide place on the ledge. Apparently the bird had been at it all night,
for a huge pile of sticks and brush had been heaped up on the ground
and shaped roughly like a nest. Right now the Phoenix was struggling
with a small log, trying to get it on the pile.

"Hello, Phoenix! Happy birthday!"

"Ah, there, my boy! Thank you very much. Could you kindly give me a
hand with this log?"

They heaved and grunted the piece of wood to the top of the pile, and
David said, "What's this for, Phoenix?"

"This, my boy, is a pyre. A bit untidy around the edges, but
nonetheless a pyre."

"Oh," said David. "What's that?"

"Well--a _pyre_, you know--a sort of fire, as it were."

"Oh, _fire_. I thought you said--oh, yes. Fire. Isn't it awfully
_warm_ for a fire?"

"The weather _is_ unusually tropical," said the Phoenix, cocking one
eye toward the sun. "This fire, however, is necessary--but I shall
explain later. Meanwhile, if you will just aid me with this branch--"
And for the next fifteen minutes they worked over the heap, adding to
it and shaping it up. David kept his thoughts to himself. He could see
that the Phoenix knew what it was doing, so everything must be all

"By the way, my boy," said the Phoenix casually, when they had
finished, "my prediction was correct. I knew it would be. The
inevitable has occurred."

"What are you talking about, Phoenix?"

"The Scientist, my boy. He is in our midst once more."

David clutched a branch in the heap and said "Oh, Phoenix!" in a
frightened voice.

"Now, my dear fellow, there is no cause for alarm. He is not nearby at
present. I sent him back."

"Sent him back? How?"

"Nothing to it, my boy," said the Phoenix smugly. "He was up at the
crack of dawn, toiling with typical stupidity in full sight on the
slope below. He was making a blind of green branches to hide in while
he spies on me. (Really, the childishness of his efforts! To think for
a minute he could fool _me_ with such tricks!) Well, I waited until he
had gone down the slope to cut more greenery, and when his back was
turned, I slipped down to the blind and took his binoculars."

"But Phoenix, what did you want with his binoculars?"

"I did not want his binoculars, my boy, but _he_ did. His language
when he discovered the loss was simply frightful--I could hear it all
the way up here. Of course, he had to return to town for another

"But he'll be back!"

"Precisely, my boy. But he will have something to keep him busy when
he returns. I took the liberty of destroying his blind. _That_ will
hold him."

"But it won't hold him long, Phoenix! We've got to think of something
else. Now your whole birthday is spoiled!"

"On the contrary, my boy, it will hold him long enough. Now please do
not ask me why; you must take my word for it, and I shall explain
later. And my birthday is _not_ spoiled. I am looking forward with a
great deal of pleasure to the surprise which you promised me. Come,
let us enjoy it, whatever it is, and forget the Scientist."

"Well ... are you _sure_ about the Scientist?"


The Phoenix was so positive that David began to feel better. He picked
up the paper bag and said: "Well, it isn't much of a surprise,
really--just a birthday party. And your present. But I think the
present should come after the party, don't you?"

"Quite so, my boy. But I shall leave the management of the whole
affair in your capable hands."

"All right," said David. "Now, you'll have to turn around, Phoenix,
and not look while I'm getting it ready."

The Phoenix obediently turned around, clasping its wings behind its
back, and tried hard not to peek. David set the party things out on
the grass: ice cream in the middle, the cookies in a ring around it,
plates on either side, and spoons beside the plates. He set the
Phoenix's present off to one side, where it could be reached when they
had finished.

"All right, Phoenix, you can turn around now."

The Phoenix took a long look at everything, and said huskily: "My dear
chap, this is quite the nicest moment of my life. How can I possibly
thank you?"

They sat down in their places. David passed the cookies and served the ice
cream, and said that as far as he was concerned, this was the best birthday
party he had ever been to. And the Phoenix said, "Quite so, my boy, but
might I make so bold as to ask why?" And David answered, "Well, the reason
is that usually during birthday parties you have to play stupid games, like
pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and button-button-who-has-the-button, in spite
of the fact that eating good things is the real reason for having a party,
as everybody knows." And the Phoenix said, "Precisely, my boy, but people
have somehow lost the main idea of the thing. When you come right down to
it, ice cream is the basis of any sensible party, and everything else is a
waste of time." And David said, "Yes, Phoenix, but don't forget cake and
cookies, and candy and nuts and things. They're not as good as ice cream,
but they're not a complete waste of time, either." And the Phoenix said,
"Of course not, my dear fellow, they are important too. And speaking of ice
cream, have you noticed that, while chocolate is very good, and vanilla
enjoys great popularity, still there is _nothing_ like strawberry?" And
David said, "Yes, you're right"--rather sadly, because the Phoenix was
eating most of it.

At last the ice cream carton was empty and all the cookies were gone.
They both sighed regretfully and brushed away the crumbs. And the
Phoenix looked hopefully at the present David had brought.

"Happy birthday, Phoenix," David said, and he handed the gift over
with a little bow.

"Thank you, my boy, thank you." The Phoenix opened the package eagerly
and gave a pleased cry. "_Just_ what I wanted, my dear chap!"

"I'm glad you like it," David said. "Do you know yet what it's for?
Can you really use it for something?"

The Phoenix suddenly stopped smiling and looked at David with a
strange expression on its face--an expression David had never seen
there before. A vague dread swept through him, and he faltered,
"Phoenix ... you _do_ know what it's for? What is it? Tell me."

"Well, my boy--well, the fact _is_--yes, I do know. It came to me this
morning while I was constructing the--ah--nest, here. I am afraid it
will be a bit hard to explain. The cinnamon--ah--the cinnamon--well,
cinnamon _branches_ are what I should really have...."

"But Phoenix, what's it _for_?"

"Behold, my boy." The Phoenix opened the boxes, and spread the
cinnamon sticks on the nest. Then it took the cans and sprinkled the
cinnamon powder over the top and sides of the heap, until the whole
nest was a brick-dust red.

"There we are, my boy," said the Phoenix sadly. "The traditional
cinnamon pyre of the Phoenix, celebrated in song and story."

And with the third mention of the word "pyre," David's legs went weak
and something seemed to catch in his throat. He remembered now where
he had heard that word before. It was in his book of explorers, and it
meant--it meant--

"Phoenix," he choked, "wh-wh-who is the pyre for?"

"For myself," said the Phoenix.


"Now, I implore you--please--oh, dear, I _knew_ it would be difficult
to explain. Look at me, my boy."

David did as he was told, although his eyes were filled with tears and
he could not see through the blur.

"Now," said the Phoenix gently, "the fact is that I have, besides my
unusually acute Intellect, an Instinct. This Instinct told me that it
was my birthday today. It also told me to build this nest of cinnamon.
Now it tells me that I must make this nest my pyre, because that is
what the Phoenix does at the end of five hundred years. Now, please,
my boy!--I admit it does not appear to be a very joyful way of
celebrating, but it must be done. This is the traditional end of the
Phoenix, my boy, and we cannot ignore the tradition, no matter what
our feelings may be. Do you see?"

"No!" David cried. "Please, Phoenix, don't do it! It's horrible! I
won't let you do it!"

"But I must, my dear chap! I cannot help it. This is what it means to
be the Phoenix. Nothing can stop the tradition. Please, my boy, do not
take on so! It is not in the least horrible, I assure you. My Instinct
tells me so."

"You said you were going to give me an education," David sobbed. "You
said we would see--you said--and we've only been on four
adventures--you never told me about this--"

"I am terribly sorry, my boy. I could not tell you about it because I
did not _know_ about it until now. As for your education, it is a pity
to have it cut short in this way. I had great plans.... But
consider--you have had four adventures which no one else in the whole
world has had! And besides, my boy, we shall see each other again. I
do not know how or where, but I am positive of it." The Phoenix
flicked a tear from its eye with the tip of one wing, while with the
other it patted David awkwardly on the shoulder.

"Don't go, Phoenix, _please_ don't go."

"I must, my boy. Here, permit me to present you with a small token
(ouch!) of our friendship."

Dimly, through his tears, David saw the Phoenix pluck the longest,
bluest feather from its tail, and he felt it being pressed into his

"Good-by, David," said the Phoenix gruffly.

David could stand it no longer. He turned and rushed blindly from the
Phoenix, blundered into the thicket, and dropped to the ground with
his head buried in his arms. Behind him he heard the sticks snapping
as the Phoenix mounted its pyre. A match rasped against the box. The
first tongue of flame sizzled in the branches. David pressed his hands
over his ears to shut out the sound, but he could feel the heat of the
flames as they sprang up. And the noise would not be shut out. It grew
and grew, popping, crackling, roaring, until it seemed to fill the

       *       *       *       *       *

Perhaps he fainted. Or perhaps from numbness he slipped into a kind of
deep sleep. Whichever it was, he returned to consciousness again
suddenly. His hands had slipped from his ears, and a sound had brought
him back. He lifted his head and listened. The fire had burnt itself
out now. The only noise was the hiss and pop of dying embers. But
these sounds were too gentle to have awakened him--it must have been
something else. Yes--it was a voice. He could hear it quite plainly
now. There were angry shouts coming from somewhere below the ledge.

Carefully avoiding the sight of the pyre, David crawled to the edge
and glanced over. Far down, on the slope at the foot of the scarp, was
a tiny figure dancing and bellowing with rage. The Scientist had
returned and discovered the ruins of his blind. David watched him
dully. No need to worry about _him_ any more. How harmless he looked
now, even ridiculous! David turned away.

He noticed then that he was holding something in his hand, something
soft and heavy. As he lifted it to look more closely, it flashed in
the sunlight. It was the feather the Phoenix had given him, the tail
feather. Tail feather?... But the Phoenix's tail had been a sapphire
blue. The feather in his hand was of the purest, palest gold.

There was a slight stir behind him. In spite of himself, he glanced at
the remains of the pyre. His mouth dropped open. In the middle of the
white ashes and glowing coals there was movement. Something within was
struggling up toward the top. The noises grew stronger and more
definite. Charred sticks were being snapped, ashes kicked aside,
embers pushed out of the way. Now, like a plant thrusting its way out
of the soil, there appeared something pale and glittering, which
nodded in the breeze. Little tongues of flame, it seemed, licking out
into the air.... No, not flames! A crest of golden feathers!... A
heave from below lifted the ashes in the center of the pile, a fine
cloud of flakes swirled up into the breeze, there was a flash of
sunlight glinting on brilliant plumage. And from the ruins of the pyre
stepped forth a magnificent bird.

It was the Phoenix, it must be the Phoenix! But it was a new and
different Phoenix. It was young and wild, with a fierce amber eye; its
crest was tall and proud, its body the slim, muscular body of a
hunter, its wings narrow and long and pointed like a falcon's, the
great beak and talons razor-sharp and curving. And all of it, from
crest to talons, was a burnished gold that reflected the sun in a
thousand dazzling lights.

The bird stretched its wings, shook the ash from its tail, and began
to preen itself. Every movement was like the flash of a silent

"Phoenix," David whispered. "Phoenix."

The bird started, turned toward him, looked at him for an instant with
wild, fearless eyes, then continued its preening. Suddenly it stopped
and cocked its head as if listening to something. Then David heard it
too: a shout down the mountainside, louder and clearer now, excited
and jubilant. He shivered and looked down. The Scientist was tearing
up the goat trail as fast as his long legs would carry him--and he was
waving a rifle.

"Phoenix!" David cried. "Fly! Fly, Phoenix!"

The bird looked at the Scientist, then at David, its glance curious
but without understanding. Paralyzed with fear, David remained on his
knees as the Scientist reached an open place and threw the gun up to
his shoulder. The bullet went whining by with an ugly hornet-noise,
and the report of the gun echoed along the scarp.


"Fly, Phoenix!" David sobbed. A second bullet snarled at the bird, and
spattered out little chips of rock from the inner wall of the ledge.

"Oh, fly, fly!" David jumped up and flung himself between the bird
and the Scientist. "It's me!" he cried. "It's David!" The bird gazed
at him closely, and a light flickered in its eye as though the name
had reached out and almost, but not quite, touched an ancient memory.
Hesitantly it stretched forth one wing, and with the tip of it lightly
brushed David's forehead, leaving there a mark that burned coolly.

"_Get away from that bird, you little idiot!_" the Scientist shrieked.

David ignored him. "Fly, Phoenix!" he cried, and he pushed the bird
toward the edge.

Understanding dawned in the amber eyes at last. The bird, with one
clear, defiant cry, leaped to an out-jutting boulder. The golden wings
spread, the golden neck curved back, the golden talons pushed against
the rock. The bird launched itself into the air and soared out over
the valley, sparkling, flashing, shimmering; a flame, large as a
sunburst, a meteor, a diamond, a star, diminishing at last to a speck
of gold dust, which glimmered twice in the distance before it was gone

       *       *       *       *       *

_The Author_

Edward Ormondroyd

When Edward Ormondroyd was about thirteen, his family moved from
Pennsylvania to Ann Arbor, Michigan. He and a friend began to read
Arthur Ransome's boating stories and, inspired by the adventures of
the Swallows, built their own fourteen-foot sailboat and tried to
re-create that English magic on the Huron River.

In 1943 he graduated from high school and joined the Navy. Destroyer
Escort 419 was his home for the next two years. "When the war was
over, she looked in on China and Korea, and came home. She did show me
San Francisco Bay at dusk. One look convinced me that I would like to
live by it; and I have, ever since."

After the war, Mr. Ormondroyd went to the University of California at
Berkeley. He graduated in 1951, and since then has been busy writing,
sailing as able seaman aboard a tanker, and working as a bookstore
clerk and machine tender. He lives in Berkeley, California. He is
married and has one son.

It was while Mr. Ormondroyd was at college that David and the Phoenix
first intruded into his consciousness. "_One day, when I was walking
across campus, I had a sudden vision of a large and pompous bird
diving out of a window, tripping on the sill, and falling into a rose
arbor below. I had to explain to myself why the poor bird was in such
a situation in the first place, and what became of it afterwards. The
result of my investigation was_ DAVID AND THE PHOENIX."

       *       *       *       *       *

David and

the Phoenix

Edward Ormondroyd

_Illustrated by Joan Raysor_

David knew that one should be prepared for anything when one climbs a
mountain, but he never dreamed what he would find that June morning on
the mountain ledge.

There stood an enormous bird, with a head like an eagle, a neck like a
swan, and a scarlet crest. The most astonishing thing was that the
bird had an open book on the ground and was reading from it!

This was David's first sight of the fabulous Phoenix and the beginning
of a pleasant and profitable partnership. The Phoenix found a great
deal lacking in David's education--he flunked questions like "How do
you tell a true from a false Unicorn?"--and undertook to supplement it
with a practical education, an education that would be a preparation
for Life. The education had to be combined with offensive and
defensive measures against a Scientist who was bent on capturing the
Phoenix, but the two projects together involved exciting and hilarious
adventures for boy and bird.

A wonderful read-aloud book, adventurous and very funny, with much of
the magic as well as the humor of the fantastic.

_Follett Publishing Company_

_New York_   CHICAGO   _Toronto_

       *       *       *       *       *

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