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Title: Baron Trump's Marvellous Underground Journey
Author: Lockwood, Ingersoll
Language: English
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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.

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Internet Archive)



[Illustration:

  ONLY AUTHENTIC PORTRAIT OF
  WILHELM HEINRICH SEBASTIAN VON TROOMP
  (FROM THE OIL PAINTING).
]



                             BARON TRUMP’S
                               MARVELLOUS
                              UNDERGROUND
                                JOURNEY


                                   BY

                           INGERSOLL LOCKWOOD

    AUTHOR OF “TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES OF LITTLE BARON TRUMP AND HIS
                             WONDERFUL DOG
    BULGER” “WONDERFUL DEEDS AND DOINGS OF LITTLE GIANT BOAB AND HIS
       TALKING RAVEN TABIB” “EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES OF LITTLE
          CAPTAIN DOPPELKOP ON THE SHORES OF BUBBLELAND” ETC.


                             ILLUSTRATED BY

                         CHARLES HOWARD JOHNSON


                                 BOSTON

                       LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS

                             10 MILK STREET

                                  1893



                 COPYRIGHT, 1892, BY INGERSOLL LOCKWOOD

                         _All Rights Reserved_

                     MARVELLOUS UNDERGROUND JOURNEY

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE OF WILHELM HEINRICH
                     SEBASTIAN VON TROOMP, COMMONLY
                       CALLED LITTLE BARON TRUMP


As doubting Thomases seem to take particular pleasure in popping up on
all occasions, Jack-in-the-Box-like, it may be well to head them off in
this particular instance by proving that Baron Trump was a real baron,
and not a mere baron of the mind. The family was originally French
Huguenot—De la Trompe—which, upon the revocation of the Edict of Nantes
in 1685, took refuge in Holland, where its head assumed the name of Van
der Troomp, just as many other of the French Protestants rendered their
names into Dutch. Some years later, upon the invitation of the Elector
of Brandenburg, Niklas Van der Troomp became a subject of that prince,
and purchased a large estate in the province of Pomerania, again
changing his name, this time to Von Troomp.

The “Little Baron,” so called from his diminutive stature, was born some
time in the latter part of the seventeenth century. He was the last of
his race in the direct line, although cousins of his are to-day
well-known Pomeranian gentry. He began his travels at an incredibly
early age, and filled his castle with such strange objects picked up
here and there in the far away corners of the world, that the
simple-minded peasantry came to look upon him as half bigwig and half
magician—hence the growth of the many myths and fanciful stories
concerning this indefatigable globe-trotter. The date of his death
cannot be fixed with any certainty; but this much may be said: Among the
portraits of Pomeranian notables hanging in the Rathhaus at Stettin,
there is one picturing a man of low stature, and with a head much too
large for his body. He is dressed in some outlandish costume, and holds
in his left hand a grotesque image in ivory, most elaborately carved.
The broad face is full of intelligence, and the large gray eyes are
lighted up with a good-natured but quizzical look that invariably
attracts attention. The man’s right hand rests upon the back of a dog
sitting on a table and looking straight out with an air of dignity that
shows that he knew he was sitting for his portrait.

If a visitor asks the guide who this man is, he always gets for answer:—

“Oh, that’s the Little Baron!”

But little Baron who, that’s the question?

Why may it not be the famous Wilhelm Heinrich Sebastian von Troomp,
commonly called “Little Baron Trump,” and his wonderful dog Bulger?



                                CONTENTS


                               CHAPTER I.

                                                                    PAGE

 BULGER IS GREATLY ANNOYED BY THE FAMILIARITY OF THE VILLAGE DOGS
   AND THE PRESUMPTION OF THE HOUSE CATS.—HIS HEALTH SUFFERS
   THEREBY, AND HE IMPLORES ME TO SET OUT ON MY TRAVELS AGAIN. I
   READILY CONSENT, FOR I HAD BEEN READING OF THE WORLD WITHIN A
   WORLD IN A MUSTY OLD MS. WRITTEN BY THE LEARNED DON FUM.—PARTING
   INTERVIEWS WITH THE ELDER BARON AND THE GRACIOUS BARONESS MY
   MOTHER.—PREPARATIONS FOR DEPARTURE.                                 1


                               CHAPTER II.

 DON FUM’s MYSTERIOUS DIRECTIONS.—BULGER AND I SET OUT FOR
   PETERSBURG, AND THENCE PROCEED TO ARCHANGEL.—THE STORY OF OUR
   JOURNEY AS FAR AS ILITCH ON THE ILITCH.—IVAN THE TEAMSTER.—HOW
   WE MADE OUR WAY NORTHWARD IN SEARCH OF THE PORTALS TO THE WORLD
   WITHIN A WORLD.—IVAN’S THREAT.—BULGER’S DISTRUST OF THE MAN AND
   OTHER THINGS.                                                       7


                              CHAPTER III.

 IVAN MORE AND MORE TROUBLESOME.—BULGER WATCHES HIM CLOSELY.—HIS
   COWARDLY ATTACK UPON ME.—MY FAITHFUL BULGER TO THE RESCUE.—A
   DRIVER WORTH HAVING.—HOW I WAS CARRIED TO A PLACE OF SAFETY.—IN
   THE HANDS OF OLD YULIANA.—THE GIANTS’ WELL.                        15


                               CHAPTER IV.

             MY WOUND HEALS.—YULIANA TALKS ABOUT THE GIANTS’
 WELL.—I RESOLVE TO VISIT IT.—PREPARATIONS TO ASCEND THE
   MOUNTAINS.—WHAT HAPPENED TO YULIANA AND TO ME.—REFLECTION AND
   THEN ACTION.—HOW I CONTRIVED TO CONTINUE THE ASCENT WITHOUT
   YULIANA FOR A GUIDE.                                               20


                               CHAPTER V.

 UP AND STILL UP, AND THROUGH THE QUARRIES OF THE DEMONS.—HOW THE
   CATTLE KEPT THE TRAIL, AND HOW WE CAME AT LAST UPON THE BRINK OF
   THE GIANTS’ WELL.—THE TERRACES ARE SAFELY PASSED.—BEGINNING OF
   THE DESCENT INTO THE WELL ITSELF.—ALL DIFFICULTIES OVERCOME.—WE
   REACH THE EDGE OF POLYPHEMUS’ FUNNEL.                              28


                               CHAPTER VI.

 MY DESPAIR UPON FINDING THE PIPE OF THE FUNNEL TOO SMALL FOR MY
   BODY.—A RAY OF HOPE BREAKS IN UPON ME.—FULL ACCOUNT OF HOW I
   SUCCEEDED IN ENTERING THE PIPE OF THE FUNNEL.—MY PASSAGE THROUGH
   IT.—BULGER’S TIMELY AID.—THE MARBLE HIGHWAY AND SOME CURIOUS
   THINGS CONCERNING THE ENTRANCE TO THE WORLD WITHIN A WORLD.        33


                              CHAPTER VII.

 OUR FIRST NIGHT IN THE UNDER WORLD, AND HOW IT WAS FOLLOWED BY THE
   FIRST BREAK OF DAY.—BULGER’S WARNING AND WHAT IT MEANT.—WE FALL
   IN WITH AN INHABITANT OF THE WORLD WITHIN A WORLD.—HIS NAME AND
   CALLING.—MYSTERIOUS RETURN OF NIGHT.—THE LAND OF BEDS, AND HOW
   OUR NEW FRIEND PROVIDED ONE FOR US.                                42


                              CHAPTER VIII.

 “GOOD-MORNING AS LONG AS IT LASTS.”—PLAIN TALK FROM MASTER COLD
   SOUL.—WONDERS OF GOGGLE LAND.—WE ENTER THE CITY OF THE
   MIKKAMENKIES.—BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF IT.—OUR APPROACH TO THE ROYAL
   PALACE.—QUEEN GALAXA AND HER CRYSTAL THRONE.—MASTER COLD SOUL’S
   TEARS.                                                             51


                               CHAPTER IX.

 BULGER AND I ARE PRESENTED TO QUEEN GALAXA, THE LADY OF THE
   CRYSTAL THRONE.—HOW SHE RECEIVED US.—HER DELIGHT OVER BULGER,
   WHO GIVES PROOF OF HIS WONDERFUL INTELLIGENCE IN MANY WAYS.—HOW
   THE QUEEN CREATES HIM LORD BULGER.—ALL ABOUT THE THREE WISE MEN
   IN WHOSE CARE WE ARE PLACED BY QUEEN GALAXA.                       56


                               CHAPTER X.

 A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF MY CONVERSATIONS WITH DOCTOR NEBULOSUS, SIR
   AMBER O’PAKE, AND LORD CORNUCORE, WHO TELL ME MANY THINGS THAT I
   NEVER KNEW BEFORE, FOR WHICH I WAS VERY GRATEFUL.                  63


                               CHAPTER XI.

 PLEASANT DAYS PASSED AMONG THE MIKKAMENKIES, AND WONDERFUL THINGS
   SEEN BY US.—THE SPECTRAL GARDEN, AND A DESCRIPTION OF IT.—OUR
   MEETING WITH DAMOZEL GLOW STONE, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.              67


                              CHAPTER XII.

 THE SAD, SAD TALE OF THE SORROWING PRINCESS WITH A SPECK IN HER
   HEART, AND WHAT ALL HAPPENED WHEN SHE HAD ENDED IT, WHICH THE
   READER MUST READ FOR HIMSELF IF HE WOULD KNOW.                     73


                              CHAPTER XIII.

 HOW I SET TO WORK TO UNDO A WRONG THAT HAD BEEN DONE IN THE
   KINGDOM OF THE MIKKAMENKIES, AND HOW BULGER HELPED.—QUEEN
   GALAXA’S CONFESSION.—I AM CREATED PRIME MINISTER AS LONG AS SHE
   LIVES.—WHAT TOOK PLACE IN THE THRONE-ROOM.—MY SPEECH TO THE MEN
   OF GOGGLE LAND, AFTER WHICH I SHOW THEM SOMETHING WORTH
   SEEING.—HOW I WAS PULLED IN TWO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS AND WHAT
   CAME OF IT.                                                        79


                              CHAPTER XIV.

 BULGER AND I TURN OUR BACKS ON THE FAIR DOMAIN OF QUEEN
   CRYSTALLINA.—NATURE’S WONDERFUL SPEAKING-TUBE.—CRYSTALLINA’S
   ATTEMPT TO TURN US BACK.—HOW I KEPT BULGER FROM YIELDING.—SOME
   INCIDENTS OF OUR JOURNEY ALONG THE MARBLE HIGHWAY, AND HOW WE
   CAME TO THE GLORIOUS GATEWAY OF SOLID SILVER.                      86


                               CHAPTER XV.

 THE GUARDS AT THE SILVER GATEWAY.—WHAT THEY WERE LIKE.—OUR
   RECEPTION BY THEM.—I MAKE A WONDERFUL DISCOVERY.—THE WORLD’S
   FIRST TELEPHONE.—BULGER AND I SUCCEED IN MAKING FRIENDS WITH
   THESE STRANGERS.—A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SOODOPSIES, THAT IS,
   MAKE BELIEVE EYES, OR THE FORMIFOLK, THAT IS, ANT PEOPLE.—HOW A
   BLIND MAN MAY READ YOUR WRITING.                                   91


                              CHAPTER XVI.

 IDEAS OF THE FORMIFOLK CONCERNING OUR UPPER WORLD.—THE DANCING
   SPECTRE.—THEIR EFFORTS TO LAY HOLD OF HIM.—MY SOLEMN PROMISE
   THAT HE SHOULD BEHAVE HIMSELF.—WE SET OUT FOR THE CITY OF THE
   MAKE-BELIEVE EYES.—MY AMAZEMENT AT THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THE
   APPROACHES TO IT.—WE REACH THE GREAT BRIDGE OF SILVER, AND I GET
   MY FIRST GLANCE OF THE CITY OF CANDELABRA.—BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE
   WONDERS SPREAD OUT BEFORE MY EYES.—EXCITEMENT OCCASIONED BY OUR
   ARRIVAL.—OUR SILVER BED-CHAMBER.                                   98


                              CHAPTER XVII.

 IN WHICH YOU READ, DEAR FRIENDS, SOMETHING ABOUT A LIVE ALARM
   CLOCK AND A SOODOPSY BATHER AND RUBBER.—OUR FIRST BREAKFAST IN
   THE CITY OF SILVER.—A NEW WAY TO CATCH FISH WITHOUT HURTING
   THEIR FEELINGS.—HOW THE STREETS AND HOUSES WERE NUMBERED, AND
   WHERE THE SIGNBOARDS WERE.—A VERY ORIGINAL LIBRARY IN WHICH
   BOOKS NEVER GET DOG-EARED.—HOW VELVET SOLES ENJOYED HER FAVORITE
   POETS.—I AM PRESENTED TO THE LEARNED BARREL BROW, WHO PROCEEDS
   TO GIVE ME HIS VIEWS OF THE UPPER WORLD.—THEY ENTERTAINED ME
   AMAZINGLY AND MAY INTEREST YOU.                                   104


                             CHAPTER XVIII.

 EARLY HISTORY OF THE SOODOPSIES AS RELATED BY BARREL BROW.—HOW
   THEY WERE DRIVEN TO TAKE REFUGE IN THE UNDER WORLD, AND HOW THEY
   CAME UPON THE MARBLE HIGHWAY.—THEIR DISCOVERY OF NATURAL GAS
   WHICH YIELDS THEM LIGHT AND WARMTH, AND OF NATURE’S MAGNIFICENT
   TREASURE HOUSE.—HOW THEY REPLACED THEIR TATTERED GARMENTS AND
   BEGAN TO BUILD THE CITY OF SILVER.—THE STRANGE MISFORTUNES THAT
   CAME UPON THEM, AND HOW THEY ROSE SUPERIOR TO THEM, TERRIBLE AS
   THEY WERE.                                                        114


                              CHAPTER XIX.

 BEGINS WITH SOMETHING ABOUT THE LITTLE SOODOPSIES, BUT BRANCHES
   OFF ON ANOTHER SUBJECT; TO WIT.—THE SILENT SONG OF SINGING
   FINGERS, THE FAIR MAID OF THE CITY OF SILVER.—BARREL BROW IS
   KIND ENOUGH TO ENLIGHTEN ME ON A CERTAIN POINT, AND HE TAKES
   OCCASION TO PAY BULGER A VERY HIGH COMPLIMENT, WHICH, OF COURSE,
   HE DESERVED.                                                      123


                               CHAPTER XX.

 THIS IS A LONG AND A SAD CHAPTER.—IT TELLS HOW DEAR, GENTLE,
   POUTING-LIP WAS LOST, AND HOW THE SOODOPSIES GRIEVED FOR HIM AND
   WHOM THEY SUSPECTED.—BULGER GIVES A STRIKING PROOF OF HIS
   WONDERFUL INTELLIGENCE WHICH ENABLES ME TO CONVINCE THE
   SOODOPSIES THAT MY “DANCING SPECTRE” DID NOT CAUSE POUTING-LIP’S
   DEATH.—THE TRUE TALE OF HIS TERRIBLE FATE.—WHAT FOLLOWS MY
   DISCOVERY.—HOW A BEAUTIFUL BOAT IS BUILT FOR ME BY THE GRATEFUL
   SOODOPSIES, AND HOW BULGER AND I BID ADIEU TO THE LAND OF THE
   MAKE-BELIEVE EYES.                                                129


                              CHAPTER XXI.

 HOW WE WERE LIGHTED ON OUR WAY DOWN THE DARK AND SILENT
   RIVER.—SUDDEN AND FIERCE ONSLAUGHT UPON OUR BEAUTIFUL BOAT OF
   SHELL.—A FIGHT FOR LIFE AGAINST TERRIBLE ODDS, AND HOW BULGER
   STOOD BY ME THROUGH IT ALL.—COLD AIR AND LUMPS OF ICE.—OUR ENTRY
   INTO THE CAVERN WHENCE THEY CAME.—THE BOAT OF SHELL COMES TO THE
   END OF ITS VOYAGE.—SUNLIGHT IN THE WORLD WITHIN A WORLD, AND ALL
   ABOUT THE WONDERFUL WINDOW THROUGH WHICH IT POURED, AND THE
   MYSTERIOUS LAND IT LIGHTED.                                       140


                              CHAPTER XXII.

 THE PALACE OF ICE IN THE GOLDEN SUNLIGHT, AND WHAT I IMAGINED IT
   MIGHT CONTAIN.—HOW WE WERE HALTED BY A COUPLE OF QUAINTLY CLAD
   SENTINELS.—THE KOLTYKWERPS.—HIS FRIGID MAJESTY KING
   GELIDUS.—MORE ABOUT THE ICE PALACE, TOGETHER WITH A DESCRIPTION
   OF THE THRONE-ROOM.—OUR RECEPTION BY THE KING AND HIS DAUGHTER
   SCHNEEBOULE.—BRIEF MENTION OF BULLIBRAIN, OR LORD HOT HEAD.       150


                             CHAPTER XXIII.

 LORD HOT HEAD AGAIN, AND THIS TIME A FULLER ACCOUNT OF HIM.—HIS
   WONDROUS TALES CONCERNING THE KOLTYKWERPS: WHERE THEY CAME FROM,
   WHO THEY WERE, AND HOW THEY MANAGED TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD OF
   ETERNAL FROST.—THE MANY QUESTIONS I PUT TO HIM, AND HIS ANSWERS
   IN FULL.                                                          159


                              CHAPTER XXIV.

 SOME FEW THINGS CONCERNING THE DEAR LITTLE PRINCESS
   SCHNEEBOULE.—HOW SHE AND I BECAME FAST FRIENDS, AND HOW ONE DAY
   SHE CONDUCTED BULGER AND ME INTO HER FAVORITE GROTTO TO SEE THE
   LITTLE MAN WITH THE FROZEN SMILE.—SOMETHING ABOUT HIM.—WHAT CAME
   OF MY HAVING LOOKED UPON HIM QUITE FULLY DESCRIBED.               164


                              CHAPTER XXV.

 A SLEEPLESS NIGHT FOR BULGER AND ME AND WHAT FOLLOWED
   IT.—INTERVIEW WITH KING GELIDUS.—MY REQUEST AND HIS REPLY.—WHAT
   ALL TOOK PLACE WHEN I LEARNED THAT THE KING AND HIS COUNCILLORS
   HAD DECIDED NOT TO GRANT MY REQUEST.—STRANGE TUMULT AMONG THE
   KOLTYKWERPS, AND HOW HIS FRIGID MAJESTY STILLED IT, AND SOME
   OTHER THINGS.                                                     171


                              CHAPTER XXVI.

 HOW THE QUARRY MEN OF KING GELIDUS CLEFT ASUNDER THE CRYSTAL
   PRISON OF THE LITTLE MAN WITH THE FROZEN SMILE.—MY BITTER
   DISAPPOINTMENT, AND HOW I BORE IT.—WONDERFUL HAPPENINGS OF THE
   NIGHT THAT FOLLOWED.—BULGER AGAIN PROVES HIMSELF TO BE AN ANIMAL
   OF EXTRAORDINARY SAGACITY.                                        176


                             CHAPTER XXVII.

 EXCITEMENT OVER FUFFCOOJAH.—I CARRY HIM TO THE COURT OF KING
   GELIDUS.—HIS INSTANT AFFECTION FOR PRINCESS SCHNEEBOULE.—I AM
   ACCUSED OF EXERCISING THE BLACK ART.—MY DEFENCE AND MY
   REWARD.—ANXIETY OF THE KOLTYKWERPS LEST FUFFCOOJAH PERISH OF
   HUNGER.—THIS CALAMITY AVERTED, ANOTHER STARES US IN THE FACE:
   HOW TO KEEP HIM FROM FREEZING TO DEATH.—I SOLVE THE PROBLEM, BUT
   DRAW UPON ME A STRANGE MISFORTUNE.                                183


                             CHAPTER XXVIII.

 HOW A LITTLE BURDEN MAY GROW TO BE A GRIEVOUS ONE.—STORY OF A MAN
   WITH A MONKEY IN HIS HOOD.—MY TERRIBLE SUFFERING.—CONCERNING THE
   AWFUL PANIC THAT SEIZED UPON THE KOLTYKWERPS.—MY VISIT TO THE
   DESERTED ICE-PALACE, AND WHAT HAPPENED TO FUFFCOOJAH.—END OF HIS
   BRIEF BUT STRANGE CAREER.—A FROZEN KISS ON A BLADE OF HORN, OR
   HOW SCHNEEBOULE CHOSE A HUSBAND.                                  190


                              CHAPTER XXIX.

 SOMETHING CONCERNING THE MANY PORTALS TO THE ICY DOMAIN OF KING
   GELIDUS AND THE DIFFICULT TASK OF CHOOSING THE RIGHT ONE.—HOW
   BULGER SOLVED IT.—OUR FAREWELL TO THE COLD-BLOODED
   KOLTYKWERPS.—SCHNEEBOULE’S SORROW AT LOSING US.                   200


                              CHAPTER XXX.

 ALL ABOUT THE MOST TERRIBLE BUT MAGNIFICENT RIDE I EVER TOOK IN MY
   LIFE.—NINETY MILES ON THE BACK OF A FLYING MASS OF ICE, AND HOW
   BULGER AND I WERE LANDED AT LAST ON THE BANKS OF A MOST
   WONDERFUL RIVER.—HOW THE DAY BROKE IN THIS UNDER WORLD.           209


                              CHAPTER XXXI.

 IN WHICH YOU READ OF THE GLORIOUS CAVERNS OF WHITE MARBLE FRONTING
   ON THE WONDERFUL RIVER.—IN THE TROPICS OF THE UNDER WORLD.—HOW
   WE CAME UPON A SOLITARY WANDERER ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER.—MY
   CONVERSATION WITH HIM, AND MY JOY AT FINDING MYSELF IN THE LAND
   OF THE RATTLEBRAINS, OR HAPPY FORGETTERS.—BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF
   THEM.                                                             217


                             CHAPTER XXXII.

 HOW WE ENTERED THE LAND OF THE HAPPY FORGETTERS.—SOMETHING MORE
   ABOUT THESE CURIOUS FOLK.—THEIR DREAD OF BULGER AND ME.—ONLY A
   STAY OF ONE DAY ACCORDED US.—DESCRIPTION OF THE PLEASANT HOMES
   OF THE HAPPY FORGETTERS.—THE REVOLVING DOOR THROUGH WHICH BULGER
   AND I ARE UNCEREMONIOUSLY SET OUTSIDE OF THE DOMAIN OF THE
   RATTLEBRAINS.—ALL ABOUT THE EXTRAORDINARY THINGS WHICH HAPPENED
   TO BULGER AND ME THEREAFTER.—ONCE MORE IN THE OPEN AIR OF THE
   UPPER WORLD, AND THEN HOMEWARD BOUND.                             224



                             ILLUSTRATIONS.


                                                                    PAGE

 Only Authentic Portrait of Wilhelm Heinrich Sebastian
   von Troomp (from the oil painting)                     _Frontispiece_

 Departure from Castle Trump                                           9

 Along a Highway of the Under World                                   23

 Before her Majesty Galaxa, Queen of the Mikkamenkies                 35

 A Dinner easily provided for                                         47

 Princess Crystallina uncovers her Heart                              59

 Crystallina’s Heart on a Screen                                      71

 Bulger parts his Master from Princess Crystallina                    83

 The Formifolk try the Beat of the Baron’s Heart by
   Telephone                                                          95

 Barrel Brow engaged in reading Four Books at once                   107

 A Soodopsy Maiden reading her Favorite Poet                         119

 The Gigantic Tortoise that devoured Pouting Lip                     131

 Sailing away from the Land of the Soodopsies                        143

 The Battle for Life with the White Crabs                            155

 The Little Man with the Frozen Smile                                167

 Bulger shows the Baron Something Wonderful                          179

 The Baron’s Flight to the Ice Palace                                191

 Death of Fuffcoojah                                                 197

 Koltykwerpian Quarrymen hewing a Passage through the
   Wall of Ice                                                       203

 The Wonderful Ride on the Block of Ice                              207

 The Tropics of the Under World                                      213

 Through the Revolving Door                                          219

 Caught up in the Arms of the Torrent                                225

 Hurled out in the Sunshine                                          231



                        A MARVELLOUS UNDERGROUND
                                JOURNEY



                               CHAPTER I

  BULGER IS GREATLY ANNOYED BY THE FAMILIARITY OF THE VILLAGE DOGS AND
    THE PRESUMPTION OF THE HOUSE CATS.—HIS HEALTH SUFFERS THEREBY, AND
    HE IMPLORES ME TO SET OUT ON MY TRAVELS AGAIN. I READILY CONSENT,
    FOR I HAD BEEN READING OF THE WORLD WITHIN A WORLD IN A MUSTY OLD
    MS. WRITTEN BY THE LEARNED DON FUM.—PARTING INTERVIEWS WITH THE
    ELDER BARON AND THE GRACIOUS BARONESS MY MOTHER.—PREPARATIONS FOR
    DEPARTURE.


Bulger was not himself at all, dear friends. There was a lack-lustre
look in his eyes, and his tail responded with only a half-hearted wag
when I spoke to him. I say half-hearted, for I always had a notion that
the other end of Bulger’s tail was fastened to his heart. His appetite,
too, had gone down with his spirits; and he rarely did anything more
than sniff at the dainty food which I set before him, although I tried
to tempt him with fried chickens’ livers and toasted cocks’ combs—two of
his favorite dishes.

There was evidently something on his mind, and yet it never occurred to
me what that something was; for to be honest about it, it was something
which of all things I never should have dreamed of finding there.

Possibly I might have discovered at an earlier day what it was all
about, had it not been that just at this time I was very busy, too busy,
in fact, to pay much attention to any one, even to my dear four-footed
foster brother. As you may remember, dear friends, my brain is a very
active one; and when once I become interested in a subject, Castle Trump
itself might take fire and burn until the legs of my chair had become
charred before I would hear the noise and confusion, or even smell the
smoke.

It so happened at the time of Bulger’s low spirits that the elder baron
had, through the kindness of an old school friend, come into possession
of a fifteenth-century manuscript from the pen of a no less celebrated
thinker and philosopher than the learned Spaniard, Don Constantino
Bartolomeo Strepholofidgeguaneriusfum, commonly known among scholars as
Don Fum, entitled “A World within a World.” In this work Don Fum
advanced the wonderful theory that there is every reason to believe that
the interior of our world is inhabited; that, as is well known, this
vast earth ball is not solid, on the contrary, being in many places
quite hollow; that ages and ages ago terrible disturbances had taken
place on its surface and had driven the inhabitants to seek refuge in
these vast underground chambers, so vast, in fact, as well to merit the
name of “World within a World.”

This book, with its crumpled, torn, and time-stained leaves exhaling the
odors of vaulted crypt and worm-eaten chest, exercised a peculiar
fascination upon me. All day long, and often far into the night, I sat
poring over its musty and mildewed pages, quite forgetful of this
surface world, and with the plummet of thought sounding these
subterranean depths, and with the eye and ear of fancy visiting them,
and gazing upon and listening to the dwellers therein.

While I would be thus engaged, Bulger’s favorite position was on a
quaintly embroidered leather cushion brought from the Orient by me on
one of my journeys, and now placed on the end of my work-table nearest
the window. From this point of vantage Bulger commanded a full view of
the park and the terrace and of the drive leading up to the
_porte-cochère_. Nothing escaped his watchful eye. Here he sat hour by
hour, amusing himself by noting the comings and goings of all sorts of
folk, from the hawkers of gewgaws to the noblest people in the shire.
One day my attention was attracted by his suddenly leaping down from his
cushion and giving a low growl of displeasure. I paid little heed to it,
but to my surprise the next day about the same hour it occurred again.

My curiosity was now thoroughly aroused; and laying down Don Fum’s musty
manuscript, I hastened to the window to learn the cause of Bulger’s
irritation.

Lo, the secret was out! There stood half a dozen mongrel curs belonging
to the tenantry of the baronial lands, looking up to the window, and by
their barking and antics endeavoring to entice Bulger out for a romp.
Dear friends, need I assure you that such familiarity was extremely
distasteful to Bulger? Their impudence was just a little more than he
could stand. Ringing my bell, I directed my servant to hunt them away.
Whereupon Bulger consented to resume his seat by the window.

The next morning, just as I had settled myself down for a good long
read, I was almost startled by Bulger bounding into the room with eyes
flashing fire and teeth laid bare in anger. Laying hold of the skirt of
my dressing-gown, he gave it quite a savage tug, which meant, “Put thy
book aside, little master, and follow me.”

I did so. He led me down-stairs across the hallway and into the
dining-room, and then this new cause of discontent on his part became
very apparent to me. There grouped around his silver breakfast plate sat
an ancient tabby cat and four kittens, all calmly licking or lapping
away at his breakfast. Looking up into my face, he uttered a sharp,
complaining howl, as much as to say, “There, little master, look at
that. Isn’t that enough to roil the patience of a saint? Canst thou
wonder that I am not happy with all these disagreeable things happening
to me? I tell thee, little master, it is too much for flesh and blood to
put up with.”

And I thought so too, and did all in my power to comfort my unhappy
little friend; but judge of my surprise upon reaching my room and
directing him to take his place on his cushion, to see him refuse to
obey.

It was something extraordinary, and set me to thinking. He noticed this
and gave a joyful bark, then dashed into my sleeping apartment. He was
gone for several moments, and then returned bearing in his mouth a pair
of Oriental shoes which he laid at my feet. Again and again he
disappeared, coming back each time with some article of clothing in his
mouth. In a few moments he had laid a complete Oriental costume on the
floor before my eyes; and would you believe me, dear friends, it was the
identical suit which I had worn on my last travels in far-away lands,
when he and I had been wrecked on the Island of Gogulah, the land of the
Round Bodies. What did it all mean? Why, this, to be sure:—

“Little master, canst thou not understand thy dear Bulger? He is weary
of this dull and spiritless existence. He is tired of this increasing
familiarity on the part of these mongrel curs of the neighborhood and of
the audacity of these kitchen tabbies and their families. He implores
thee to break away from this life of revery and inaction, and for the
honor of the Trumps to be up and away again.” Stooping down and winding
my arms around my dear Bulger, I cried out,—

“Yes, I understand thee now, faithful companion; and I promise thee that
before this moon has filled her horns we shall once more turn our backs
on Castle Trump, up and away in search of the portals to Don Fum’s World
within a World.” Upon hearing these words, Bulger broke out into the
wildest, maddest barking, bounding hither and thither as if the very
spirit of mischief had suddenly nestled in his heart. In the midst of
these mad gambols a low rap on my chamber door caused me to call out,—

“Peace, peace, good Bulger, some one knocks. Peace, I say.”

It was the elder baron. With sombre mien and stately tread he advanced
and took a seat beside me on the canopy.

“Welcome, honored father!” I exclaimed as I took his hand and raised it
to my lips. “I was upon the very point of seeking thee out.”

He smiled and then said,—

“Well, little baron, what thinkest thou of Don Fum’s World within a
World?”

“I think, my lord,” was my reply, “that Don Fum is right: that such a
world must exist; and with thy consent it is my intention to set out in
search of its portals with all safe haste and as soon as my dear mother,
the gracious baroness, may be able to bring her heart to part with me.”

The elder baron was silent for a moment, and then added: “Little baron,
much as thy mother and I shall dread to think of thy being again out
from under the safe protection of this venerable roof, the moss-grown
tiles of which have sheltered so many generations of the Trumps, yet
must we not be selfish in this matter. Heaven forbid that such a thought
should move our souls to stay thee! The honor of our family, thy fame as
an explorer of strange lands in far-away corners of the globe, call unto
us to be strong hearted. Therefore, my dear boy, make ready and go forth
once more in search of new marvels. The learned Don Fum’s chart will
stand thee by like a safe and trusty counsellor. Remember, little baron,
the motto of the Trumps, Per Ardua ad Astra—the pathway to glory is
strewn with pitfalls and dangers—but the comforting thought shall ever
be mine, that when thy keen intelligence fails, Bulger’s unerring
instinct will be there to guide thee.”

As I stooped to kiss the elder baron’s hand, the gracious baroness
entered the room.

Bulger hastened to raise himself upon his hind legs and lick her hand in
token of respectful greeting. The tears were pressing hard against her
eyelids, but she kept them back, and encircling my neck with her loving
arms, she pressed many and many a kiss upon my cheeks and brow.

“I know what it all means, my dear son,” she murmured with the saddest
of smiles; “but it never shall be said that Gertrude Baroness von Trump
stood in the way of her son adding new glories to the family ’scutcheon.
Go, go, little baron, and Heaven bring thee safely back to our arms and
to our hearts in its own good time.”

At these words Bulger, who had been listening to the conversation with
pricked-up ears and glistening eyes, gave one long howl of joy, and then
springing into my lap, covered my face with kisses. This done, he vented
his happiness in a string of earsplitting barks and a series of the
maddest gambols. It was one of the happiest and proudest days of his
life, for he felt that he had exerted considerable influence in screwing
to the sticking-point my resolution to set out on my travels once again.

And now the patter of hurrying feet and the loud murmur of anxious
voices resounded through the castle corridors, while inside and out ever
and anon I could hear the cry now whispered and now outspoken,—

“The little baron is making ready to leave home again.”

Bulger ran hither and thither, surveying everything, taking note of all
the preparations, and I could hear his joyous bark ring out as some
familiar article used by me on my former journeys was dragged from its
hiding-place.

Twenty times a day my gentle mother came to my room to repeat some good
counsel or reiterate some valuable caution. It seemed to me that I had
never seen her so calm, so stately, so lovable.

She was very proud of my great name and so, in fact, were every man,
woman, and child in the castle. Had I not gotten off as I did, I should
have been literally killed with kindness and Bulger slain with
sweet-cake.



                               CHAPTER II

  DON FUM’S MYSTERIOUS DIRECTIONS.—BULGER AND I SET OUT FOR
    PETERSBURG, AND THENCE PROCEED TO ARCHANGEL.—THE STORY OF OUR
    JOURNEY AS FAR AS ILITCH ON THE ILITCH.—IVAN THE TEAMSTER.—HOW WE
    MADE OUR WAY NORTHWARD IN SEARCH OF THE PORTALS TO THE WORLD
    WITHIN A WORLD.—IVAN’S THREAT.—BULGER’S DISTRUST OF THE MAN AND
    OTHER THINGS.


According to the learned Don Fum’s manuscript, the portals to the World
within a World were situated somewhere in Northern Russia, possibly, so
he thought, from all indications, somewhere on the westerly slope of the
upper Urals. But the great thinker could not locate them with any
accuracy. “The people will tell thee” was the mysterious phrase that
occurred again and again on the mildewed pages of this wonderful
writing. “The people will tell thee.” Ah, but what people will be
learned enough to tell me that? was the brain-racking question which I
asked myself, sleeping and waking, at sunrise, at high noon, and at
sunset; at the crowing of the cock, and in the silent hours of the
night.

“The people will tell thee,” said learned Don Fum.

“Ah, but what people will tell me where to find the portals to the World
within a World?”

Hitherto on my travels I had made choice of a semi-Oriental garb, both
on account of its picturesqueness and its lightness and warmth, but now
as I was about to pass quite across Russia for a number of months, I
resolved to don the Russian national costume; for speaking Russian
fluently, as I did a score or more of languages living and dead, I would
thus be enabled to come and go without everlastingly displaying my
passport, or having my trains of thought constantly disturbed by
inquisitive travelling companions—a very important thing to me, for my
mind possessed the extraordinary power of working out automatically any
task assigned to it by me, provided it was not suddenly thrown off its
track by some ridiculous interruption. For instance, I was upon the very
point one day of discovering perpetual motion, when the gracious
baroness suddenly opened the door and asked me whether I had pared the
nails of my great toes lately, as she had observed that I had worn holes
in several pairs of my best stockings.

It was about the middle of February when I set out from the Castle
Trump, and I journeyed night and day in order to reach Petersburg by the
first of March, for I knew that the government trains would leave that
city for the White Sea during the first week of that month. Bulger and I
were both in the best of health and spirits, and the fatigue of the
journey didn’t tell upon us in the least. The moment I arrived at the
Russian capital I applied to the emperor for permission to join one of
the government trains, which was most graciously accorded. Our route lay
almost directly to the northward for several days, at the end of which
time we reached the shores of Lake Ladoga. This we crossed on the ice
with our sledges, as a few days later we did Lake Onega. Thence by land
again, we kept on our way until Onega Bay had been reached, crossing it,
too, on the ice, and so reaching the station of the same name, where we
halted for a day to give our horses a well-deserved rest. From this
point we proceeded in a straight line over the snow fields to Archangel,
an important trading-post on the White Sea.

As this was the destination of the government train, I parted with its
commandant after a few days’ pleasant sojourn at the government house,
and set out, attended only by my faithful Bulger and two servants, who
had been assigned to me by the imperial commissioner.

[Illustration: DEPARTURE FROM CASTLE TRUMP.]

My course now carried me up the River Dwina as far as Solvitchegodsk;
thence I proceeded on my way over the frozen waters of the Witchegda
River until we had reached the government post of Yarensk, and from here
on we headed due East until our hardy little horses had dragged us into
the picturesque village of Ilitch on the Ilitch. Here we were obliged to
abandon our sledges, for the snows had disappeared like magic,
uncovering long vistas of green fields, which in a few days the May sun
dotted with flowers and sweet shrubs. At Ilitch I was obliged to
relinquish from my service the two faithful government retainers who had
accompanied me from Archangel, for they had now reached the most
westerly point which they had been commissioned to visit. I had become
very much attached to them, and so had Bulger, and after their departure
we both felt as if we were now, for the first time, among strangers in a
strange land; but I succeeded in engaging, as I thought, a trustworthy
teamster, Ivan by name, who made a contract with me for a goodly wage to
carry me a hundred miles farther north.

“But not another step farther, little baron!” said the fellow doggedly.
I was now really at the foot hills of the Northern Urals, for the rocky
crests and snow-clad peaks were in full sight.

I turned many a wistful look up toward the wild regions shut in by their
sheer walls and parapets, shaggy and bristling with black pines, for a
low, mysterious voice came a-whispering in my inward ear that somewhere,
ah, somewhere in that awful wilderness, I should one day come upon the
portals of the World within a World! In spite of all I could do Bulger
took a violent dislike to Ivan and Ivan to him; and if the bargain had
not been made and the money paid over, I should have looked about me for
another teamster. And yet it would have been a foolish thing to do, for
Ivan had two excellent horses, as I saw at a glance, and, what’s more,
he took the best of care of them, at every post rubbing them until they
were quite dry, and never thinking of his own supper until they had been
watered and fed.

His tarantass, too, was quite new and solidly built and well furnished
with soft blankets, all in all as comfortable as you can make a wagon
which has no other springs than the two long wooden supports that reach
from axle to axle. True, they were somewhat elastic; but I could notice
that Bulger was not overfond of riding in this curious vehicle with its
rattlety-bang gait up and down these mountain roads, and often asked
permission to leap out and follow on foot.

At length Ivan reported everything in readiness for the start; and
although I would have fain taken my departure from Ilitch on the Ilitch
in as quiet a manner as possible, yet the whole village turned out to
see us off—Ivan’s family, father, mother, sisters, and brothers, wife
and children, uncles and aunts and cousins by dozens alone making up
people enough to stock a small town. They cheered and waved their
kerchiefs, Bulger barked, and I smiled and raised my cap with all the
dignity of a Trump. And so we got away at last from Ilitch on the
Ilitch, Ivan on the box, and Bulger and I at the back, sitting close
together like two brothers that we were—two breasts with but a single
heart-beat and two brains busy with the same thought—that come perils or
come sudden attacks, come covert danger or bold and open-faced
onslaught, we should stand together and fall together! Many and many a
time as Ivan’s horses went crawling up the long stretches of mountain
road and I lay stretched upon the broad-cushioned seat of the tarantass
with a blanket rolled up for a pillow, I would find myself unconsciously
repeating those mysterious words of Don Fum:—

“The people will tell thee! The people will tell thee!”

So steep were the roads that some days we would not make more than five
miles, and on others a halt of several hours would have to be made to
enable Ivan to tighten his horses’ shoes, grease the axles, or do some
needful thing in or about his wagon. It was slow work, ay, it was very
slow and tedious, but what matters it how many or great the
difficulties, to a man who has made up his mind to accomplish a certain
task? Do the storks or the wild geese stop to count the thousands of
miles between them and their far-away homes when the time comes to turn
their heads southward? Do the brown ants pause to count the hundreds of
thousands of grains of sand which they must carry through their long
corridors and winding passages before they have burrowed deep enough to
escape the frost of midwinter?

There had been many Trumps, but never one that had thrown up his arms
and cried, “I surrender!” and should I be the first to do it? “Never!
Not even if it meant never to see dear old Castle Trump again!”

One morning as we went zigzagging up a particularly nasty bit of
mountain road, Ivan suddenly wheeled about and without even taking off
his hat, cried out,—

“Little baron, I cover the last mile of the hundred to-day. If thou
wouldst go any farther north thou must hire thee another teamster; dost
hear?”

“Silence!” said I sternly, for the fellow had broken in upon a very
important train of thought.

Bulger, too, resented the man’s insolence, and growled and showed his
teeth.

“But, little baron, listen to reason,” he continued in a more respectful
tone, removing his cap: “my people will expect me back. I promised my
father—I’m a dutiful son—I—”

“Nay, nay, Ivan,” I interrupted sharply, “curb that tongue of thine lest
it harm thy soul. Know, then, that I spoke with thy father, and he
promised me that thou shouldst go a second hundred miles with me if need
were, but on condition that I give thee double pay. It shall be done,
and on top of that a goodly present for your _golubtchika_ (darling).”

“Little baron, thou art a hard master,” whimpered the man. “If the whim
took thee thou wouldst bid me leap into the Giants’ Well just to see
whether it has a bottom or not. St. Nicholas, save me!”

“Nay, Ivan,” said I kindly, “I know no such word as cruelty although I
do confess that right seems harsh at times, but thou wert born to serve
and I to command. Providence hath made thee poor and me rich. We need
each other. Do thou thy duty, and thou wilt find me just and
considerate. Disobey me, and thou wilt find that this short arm may be
stretched from Ilitch to Petersburg.”

Ivan turned pale at this hidden threat of mine; but I deemed it
necessary to make it, for I as well as Bulger had scented treachery and
rebellion about this boorish fellow, whose good trait was his love of
his horses, and it has always been my rule in life to open my eyes wide
to the good that there is in a man, and close them to his faults. But,
in spite of kind words and kind treatment, Ivan grew surlier and moodier
the moment we had passed the hundredth milestone.

Bulger watched him with a gaze so steady and thoughtful that the man
fairly quailed before it. Hour by hour he became more and more restive,
and upon leaving a roadside tavern, for the very first time since we had
left Ilitch on the Ilitch, I noticed that the fellow had been drinking
too much _kwass_. He let loose his tongue, and raised his hand against
his horses, which until that moment he had been wont to load down with
caresses and pet names.

“Look out for that driver of thine, little baron,” whispered the
tavern-keeper. “He’s in a reckless mood. He’d not pull up if the Giants’
Well were gaping in front of him. St. Nicholas have thee in his safe
keeping!”



                              CHAPTER III

  IVAN MORE AND MORE TROUBLESOME.—BULGER WATCHES HIM CLOSELY.—HIS
    COWARDLY ATTACK UPON ME.—MY FAITHFUL BULGER TO THE RESCUE.—A
    DRIVER WORTH HAVING.—HOW I WAS CARRIED TO A PLACE OF SAFETY.—IN
    THE HANDS OF OLD YULIANA.—THE GIANTS’ WELL.


When we halted for the night it was only by threatening the man with
severe punishment upon my return to Ilitch that I could bring him to rub
his horses dry and feed and water them properly; but I stood over him
until he had done his work thoroughly, for I knew that no such horses
could be had for love or money in that country, and if they should go
lame from standing with wet coats in the chill night air, it might mean
a week’s delay.

Scarcely had I thrown myself on the hard mattress which the
tavern-keeper called the best bed in the house, when I was aroused by
loud and boisterous talking in the next room. Ivan was drinking and
quarrelling with the villagers. I strode into the room with the arrows
of indignation shooting from my eyes, and the faithful Bulger close at
my heels.

The moment Ivan set eyes upon us he shrank away, half in earnest and
half in jest, and called out,—

“Hey, look at the _mazuntchick_! [Little Dandy!] How smart he looks! He
frightens me! See his eyes, how they shine in the dark! Look at the
little demon on four legs beside him! Save me, brothers! Save me—he will
throw me down into the Giants’ Well! Marianka will never see me again!
Never! Save me, brothers!”

“Peace, fellow,” I called out sternly. “How darest thou exercise thy
dull wit on thy master? Get thee to bed at once, or I’ll have thee
whipped by the village constable for thy drunkenness.”

Ivan clambered up upon the top of the bake oven, and stretched himself
out on a sheepskin; then turning to the tavern-keeper, I forbade him
under any pretext whatever to give my servant any more liquor to drink.
“_Akh, Vasha prevoskhoditelstvo_ [Ah, your Excellency!]” exclaimed the
tavern-keeper with a gesture of disgust, “the fools never know when they
have had enough. It matters not what the tavern-keeper may say to them.
They tell us not to spoil our own trade. _Akh!_ [Ah!] they don’t know
when to stop. They have throats as deep as the ‘Giants’ Well!’”

“The Giants’ Well! The Giants’ Well!” I murmured to myself, as I again
threw myself down upon the bag of hay which did service as a mattress
for those who could afford to pay for it. It’s strange how those words
seem to be in every peasant’s mouth, but I thought no more about it at
that time. Sleep got the better of me, and with my usual good-night to
the elder baron and the gracious baroness, my mother, I dropped off into
sweet forgetfulness.

It is a good thing that I had the power of falling asleep almost at
will, for with my restless brain ever throbbing and pulsating with its
own over-abundance of strength, ever tapping at the thin panels of bone
which covered it, like an imprisoned inventor pounding on his cell door
and pleading to be let out into the daylight with his plans and schemes,
I should simply have become a lunatic.

As it was, with the mere power of thought I ordered sweet slumber to
come to my rescue, and so obedient was this good angel of mine, that all
I had to do was simply to set the time when I wished to awaken, and the
thing was done to the very minute.

As for Bulger, I never pretended to lay down any rules for him. He made
it a practice of catching forty winks when he was persuaded that no
danger of any kind threatened me, and even then, I am half inclined to
believe that, like an anxious mother over her babe, he never quite
closed both eyes at once.

Though entirely sobered by daybreak, yet Ivan went about the task of
harnessing up with such an ill grace that I was obliged to reprove him
several times before we had left the tavern yard. He was like a vicious
but cowardly animal that quails before a strong and steady eye, but
watches its opportunity to spring upon you when your back is turned.

I not only called Bulger’s attention to the fellow’s actions, and warned
him to be very watchful, but I also took the precaution to examine the
priming of the brace of Spanish pistols which I carried thrust into my
belt.

We had scarcely pulled out into the highway when a low growl from Bulger
aroused me from a fit of meditation; and this growl was followed by such
an anxious whine from my four-footed brother, as he raised his speaking
eyes to me, that I glanced hastily from one side of the road to the
other.

Lo and behold! the treacherous Ivan was deliberately engaged in an
attempt to overturn the tarantass and to get rid of his enforced task of
transporting us any farther on our journey.

“Wretch!” I cried, springing up and laying my hand on his shoulder. “I
perceive very plainly what thou hast in mind, but I warn thee most
solemnly that if thou makest another attempt to overturn thy wagon, I’ll
slay thee where thou sittest.”

For only answer and with a lightning-like quickness he struck a
back-hand blow at me with the loaded end of his whipstock.

It took me full in the right temple, and sent me to the bottom of the
tarantass like a piece of lead.

For an instant the terrible blow robbed me of my senses, but then I saw
that the cowardly villain had turned in his seat and had swung the heavy
handled whip aloft with intent to despatch me with a second and a surer
blow.

Poor fool! he reckoned without his host; for with a shriek of rage,
Bulger leaped at his throat like a stone from a catapult, and struck his
teeth deep into the fellow’s flesh.

He roared with agony and attempted to shake off this unexpected foe, but
in vain.

By this time I had come to a full realizing sense of the terrible danger
Bulger and I were both in, for Ivan had dropped his whip and was
reaching for his sheath-knife.

But he never gripped it, for a well-aimed shot from one of my pistols
struck him in the forearm, for I had no wish to take the man’s life, and
broke it.

The shock and the pain so paralyzed him that he fell over against the
dashboard half in a faint, and then rolled completely out of the wagon,
dragging Bulger with him. The horses now began to rear and plunge. I saw
no more. There was a noise as of the roar of angry waters in my ears,
and then the light of life went out of my eyes entirely. I had swooned
dead away.

It seemed to me hours that I lay there on my back in the bottom of the
tarantass with my head hanging over the side, but of course it was only
minutes. I was aroused by a prickling sensation in my left cheek, and as
I slowly came to myself I discovered that it proceeded from the gravel
thrown up against it by one of the front wheels of the tarantass, for
the horses were galloping along at the top of their speed, and there on
the driver’s seat sat my faithful Bulger, the reins in his teeth,
bracing himself so as to keep them taut over the horses’ backs; and as I
sat up and pressed my hand against my poor hurt head, the whole truth
broke upon me:—

The moment Ivan had struck the ground Bulger had released his hold upon
the fellow’s throat, and ere he had had a chance to revive had leaped up
into the driver’s seat, and, catching up the reins in his teeth, had
drawn them taut and thus put an end to the rearing and plunging of the
frightened beasts and started them on their way, leaving the enraged
Ivan brandishing his knife and uttering imprecations upon mine and
Bulger’s heads as he saw his horses and wagon disappear in the distance.
Now was it that a mad shouting assailed my ears and I caught a glimpse
of half a dozen peasants who, seeing this, as they thought, empty
tarantass come nearer and nearer with its galloping horses, had
abandoned their work and rushed out to intercept it.

Judge of their amazement, dear friends, as their eyes fell upon the calm
and skilful driver bracing himself on the front seat, and with oft
repeated backward tosses of his head urging those horses to bear his
beloved master farther and farther away from the treacherous Ivan’s
sheath-knife.

As the peasants seized the animals by the heads and brought them to a
standstill, I staggered to my feet, and threw my arms around my dear
Bulger. He was more than pleased with what he had done, and licked my
bruised brow with many a piteous moan.

“St. Nicholas, save us!” cried one of the peasants, devoutly making the
sign of the cross; “but if I should live long enough to fill the Giants’
Well with pebbles, I never would expect to see the like of this again.”

“The Giants’ Well, the Giants’ Well!” I murmured to myself as I followed
one of the peasants to his cot, standing a little back from the highway,
for I stood sore in need of rest after the terrible experience I had
just had. The blow of Ivan’s whip-handle had jarred my brain, and I was
skilled enough in surgery to know that the hurt called for immediate
attention. As good luck would have it, I found beneath the peasant’s
roof one of those old women, half witches perhaps, who have recipes for
everything and who know an herb for every ailment. After she had
examined the cut made by the loaded whip-handle, she muttered out,—

“It is not as broad as the mountain, nor as deep as the Giants’ Well,
but it’s bad enough, little master.”

“The Giants’ Well again,” thought I, as I laid me down on the best bed
they could make up for me. “I wonder where it may be, that Giants’ Well,
and how deep it is, and who drinks the water that is drawn from it?”



                               CHAPTER IV

  MY WOUND HEALS.—YULIANA TALKS ABOUT THE GIANTS’ WELL.—I RESOLVE TO
    VISIT IT.—PREPARATIONS TO ASCEND THE MOUNTAINS.—WHAT HAPPENED TO
    YULIANA AND TO ME.—REFLECTION AND THEN ACTION.—HOW I CONTRIVED TO
    CONTINUE THE ASCENT WITHOUT YULIANA FOR A GUIDE.


It was a day or so before I could walk steadily, and meantime I made
unusual efforts to keep my brain quiet, but in spite of all I could do
every mention of the Giants’ Well by one of the peasants sent a strange
thrill through me, and I would find myself suddenly pacing up and down
the floor, and repeating over and over again the words, “Giants’ Well!
Giants’ Well!”

Bulger was greatly troubled in his mind, and sat watching me with a most
bewildered look in his loving eyes. He had half a suspicion, I think,
that that cruel blow from Ivan’s whip-handle had injured my reasoning
powers, for at times he uttered a low, plaintive whine. The moment I
took notice of him, however, and acted more like myself, he gamboled
about me in the wildest delight. As I had directed the peasants to drive
Ivan’s horses back towards Ilitch on the Ilitch, until they should meet
that miscreant and deliver them to him, I was now without any means of
continuing my journey northward, unless I set out, like many of my
famous predecessors, on foot. They had longer legs than I, however, and
were not loaded with so heavy a brain in proportion to their size, and a
brain, too, that scarcely ever slept, at least not soundly. I was too
impatient to reach the portals to the World within a World to go
trudging along a dusty highway. I must have horses and another
tarantass, or at least a peasant’s cart. I must push on. My head was
quite healed now, and my fever gone.

“Hearken, little master,” whispered Yuliana; such was the name of the
old woman who had taken care of me, “thou art not what thou seemst. I
never saw the like of thee before. If thou wouldst, I believe thou
couldst tell me how high the sky is, how thick through the mountains
are, and how deep the Giants’ Well is.”

I smiled, and then I said,—

“Didst ever drink from the Giants’ Well, Yuliana?”

At which she wagged her head and sent forth a low chuckle.

“Hearken, little master,” she then whispered, coming close to me, and
holding up one of her long, bony fingers, “thou canst not trick me—thou
knowest that the Giants’ Well hath no bottom.”

“No bottom?” I repeated breathlessly, as Don Fum’s mysterious words,
“The people will tell thee!” flashed through my mind. “No bottom,
Yuliana?”

“Not unless thine eyes are better than mine, little master,” she
murmured, nodding her head slowly.

“Listen, Yuliana,” I burst out impetuously, “where is this bottomless
well? Thou shalt lead me to it; I must see it. Come, let’s start at
once. Thou shalt be well paid for thy pains.”

“Nay, nay, little master, not so fast,” she replied. “It’s far up the
mountains. The way is steep and rugged, the paths are narrow and
winding, a false step might mean instant death, were there not some
strong hand to save thee. Give up such a mad thought as ever getting
there, except it be on the stout shoulders of some mountaineer.”

“Ah, good woman,” was my reply, “thou hast just said that I am not what
I seem, and thou saidst truly. Know, then, thou seest before thee the
world-renowned traveller, Wilhelm Heinrich Sebastian von Troomp,
commonly called ‘Little Baron Trump,’ that though short of stature and
frail of limb, yet what there is of me is of iron. There, Yuliana,
there’s gold for thee; now lead the way to the Giants’ Well.”

“Gently, gently, little baron,” almost whispered the old peasant woman,
as her shrivelled hand closed upon the gold piece. “I have not told thee
all. For leagues about, I ween, no living being excepting me knows where
the Giants’ Well is. Ask them and they’ll say, “It’s up yonder in the
mountains, away up under the eaves of the sky.” That’s all. That’s all
they can tell thee. But, little master, I know where it is, and the very
herb that cured thy hurt head and saved thee from certain death by
cooling thy blood, was plucked by me from the brink of the well!” These
words sent a thrill of joy through me, for now I felt that I was on the
right road, that the words of the great master of all masters, Don Fum,
had come true.

“The people will tell thee!”

Ay, the people had told me, for now there was not the faintest shadow of
doubt in my mind that I had found the portals to the World within a
World! Yuliana should be my guide. She knew how to thread her way up the
narrow pass, to turn aside from overhanging rocks which a mere touch
might topple over, to find the steps which nature had hewn in the sides
of the rocky parapets, and to pursue her way safely through clefts and
gorges, even the entrance to which might be invisible to ordinary eyes.
However, in order that the superstitious peasants might be kept friendly
to me, I gave it out that I was about to betake myself to the mountains
in search of curiosities for my cabinet, and begged them to furnish me
with ropes and tackle, with two good stout fellows to carry it for me,
promising generous payment for the services.

They made haste to provide me with all I asked for, and we set out for
the mountain path at daybreak. Yuliana, in order not to seem to be of
the party, had gone on ahead by the light of the moon, telling her
people that she wished to gather certain herbs before the sun’s rays
struck them and dried the healing dew that beaded their leaves.

[Illustration: ALONG A HIGHWAY OF THE UNDER WORLD.]

All went well until the sun was well up over our heads, when suddenly I
heard a woman, who proved to be Yuliana, utter a piercing scream. In a
moment or so the mystery was solved. The old beldam came rushing down
the mountain, her thin wisp of gray hair fluttering in the wind. Her
hands were tied behind her, and two young peasants with birchen rods
were beating her every chance they got.

“Turn back, turn back, brothers,” they cried to my two men. “The little
wizard there has struck hands with this old witch. They’re on their way
to the Giants’ Well. They’ll loosen a band of black spirits about our
ears. We shall all be bewitched. Quick! Quick! Cast off the loads ye’re
bearing and follow us.”

The two men didn’t wait for a second bidding, and throwing the tackle on
the ground, they all disappeared like a flash, but for several moments I
could hear the screams of poor Yuliana as these young wretches beat the
old woman with their birchen rods.

Well, dear readers, what say ye to this? Was I not in a pleasant
position truly? Alone with Bulger in that wild and gloomy mountain
region, the black rocks hanging like frowning giants and ogres over our
heads, with the dwarf pines for hair, clumps of white moss for eyes,
vast, gaping cracks for mouths, and gnarled and twisted roots for
terrible fingers, ready to reach down for my poor little weazen frame.

Did I fall a-trembling? Did I make haste to follow those craven spirits
down the mountain side? Did I shift the peg of my courage a single hole
lower?

Not I. If I had I wouldn’t have been worthy of the name I bore. What I
did do was to throw myself at full length on a bed of moss, call Bulger
to my side, and close my eyes to the outer world.

I have heard of great men going to bed at high noon to give themselves
up to thought, and I had often done it myself before I had heard of
their doing it.

In fifteen minutes, by nature’s watch—the sun on the face of the
mountain—I had solved the problem. Now, there were two difficulties
staring me in the face; namely, to find somebody to show me the way up
the mountain, and if that body couldn’t carry my tackle, then to find
somebody else who could.

It suddenly occurred to me that I had noticed some cattle grazing at the
foot of the mountain, and, what’s more, that these cattle wore very
peculiar yokes.

“What are those yokes for?” I asked myself, for they were of a make
quite different from any that I remembered ever having seen, and
consisted of a stout wooden collar from the bottom of which there
projected backward between the beast’s forelegs a straight piece of wood
armed with an iron spike pointing toward the ground. At the top the yoke
was bound by a leather thong to the animal’s horns. So long, therefore,
as the beast held his head naturally or even lowered it to graze, the
yoke was drawn forward and the hook was kept free from the ground, but
the very moment the animal raised his head in the air, at once the hook
was thrown into the ground and he was prevented from taking another step
forward. Now, dear readers, you may or may not know that when a
cleft-hoofed animal starts to ascend a steep bank, unlike a solid-hoofed
beast, he throws his head into the air instead of lowering it, and
therefore it struck me at once that the purpose of this yoke was to keep
the cattle from making their way up the sides of the mountain and
getting lost.

But why should they want to clamber up the mountain sides? Simply
because there was some kind of grass or herbage growing up there which
was a delicacy to them, and knowing, as I well did, what risks animals
will take and what fatigue they will undergo to reach a favorite
grazing-ground, it struck me at once that if I would make it possible
for them to reach this favorite food of theirs, they would be very glad
to give me a lift on my way.

No sooner said than done. I forthwith retraced my steps until I fell in
with a group of these cattle; and it did not take me many minutes to
loosen their yokes from their horns and tie the hooks up under their
bodies so that their progress up hill would not be interfered with.

They were delighted to find themselves so unexpectedly freed from the
hateful drawback which permitted them merely to view the coveted
grazing-grounds from afar, and then having cut me a suitable goad, I
again started up the mountain, driving my new friends leisurely on ahead
of me.

Upon reaching the spot where the superstitious peasants had thrown the
tackle to the ground, I proceeded to load it upon the back of the
gentlest beast of the lot, and was soon on my way again.



                               CHAPTER V

  UP AND STILL UP, AND THROUGH THE QUARRIES OF THE DEMONS.—HOW THE
    CATTLE KEPT THE TRAIL, AND HOW WE CAME AT LAST UPON THE BRINK OF
    THE GIANTS’ WELL.—THE TERRACES ARE SAFELY PASSED.—BEGINNING OF THE
    DESCENT INTO THE WELL ITSELF.—ALL DIFFICULTIES OVERCOME.—WE REACH
    THE EDGE OF POLYPHEMUS’ FUNNEL.


Generally speaking, people with very large heads are fitted out by
nature with a pair of rather pipe-stemmy legs, but such was not my case.
I was blest with legs of the sturdiest sort, and found no difficulty in
keeping pace with my new four-footed friends who, to my delight, were
not long in convincing me that they had been there before. Not for an
instant did they halt at any fork in the path, but kept continually on
the move, often passing over stretches of ground where there was no
trail visible, but coming upon it again with unfailing accuracy. Once
only they halted, and that was to slake their thirst at a mountain rill,
Bulger and I following their example.

It was only too evident to me that they had in mind a certain
grazing-ground, and were resolved to be satisfied with no other; so I
let them have their own way, for, as it was still up, up, up, I felt
that it was perfectly safe to follow their lead.

At last the mountain side began to take on quite another character. The
gorges grew narrower, and at times overhanging rocks shut out the
sunlight almost entirely. We were entering a region of peculiar
wildness, of fantastic grandeur.

I had often read of what travellers termed the “Quarries of the Demons”
in the Northern Urals, but never till now had I the faintest notion of
what the expression meant.

Imagine to yourself the usual look of ruin and devastation around and
about a quarry worked by human hands, then in your thoughts conceive
every chip to be a block, and every block a mass; add four times its
size to every slab and post and pediment, and then turn a mighty torrent
through the place and roll and twist and lift them up in wild confusion,
end on end and on each other piled, till these wild waters have builded
fantastic portals to temples more fantastic, and arched wild gorges with
roofs of rock which seem to hang so lightly that a breath or footfall
might bring them down with terrible crash, and then, dear friends, you
may succeed in getting a faint idea of the wild and awful grandeur of
the scene which now lay spread out before me.

Would the cattle that had now led Bulger and me so safely up the
mountain side know where to find an entrance to this wilderness of
broken rock, and what was more important still, would they, when once
engaged within its winding courts and corridors, its darkened maze of
wall and parapet, its streets and plazas roughly paved as if by demon
hands impatient of the task, know how to find their way out again?

Dear friends, man has always been too distrustful of his four-footed
companions. They have much that they might tell us had they but speech
to tell it with. I have often trusted them when it would have seemed
foolhardy to you, and never once have I had cause to repent of doing so.

So Bulger and I, with stout hearts, followed straight after these silent
guides, although I must confess my legs were beginning to feel the
terrible strain I had put them to; but I resolved to push on ahead, at
least until we had cleared the Demons’ Quarry, and then to bring my
little herd to a halt and pass the rest of the day and the night season
in well-earned repose.

Once within the quarry, however, all sense of fatigue vanished, and my
thankful mind, entranced and fascinated by the deep silence, the awful
grandeur, the mysterious lights and shadows of the place, lent me new
strength. At length we had traversed this city of silence and gloom, and
once again we emerged into the full glory of the afternoon sun.

Suddenly my little drove of cattle, with playful tossing of their heads,
broke into a run, Bulger and I at their heels, however. It was a mad
race; but, dear friends, when it ended I took off my fur cap and tossed
it high into the air with a wild cry of joy, and Bulger broke out in a
string of yelps and barks, for, look ye, the cattle were grazing away
for dear life there in front of me, and as their breath reached me my
keen nostrils recognized the odor of Yuliana’s herbs which she had bound
on my hurt head.

Yes, we stood almost upon the brink of the Giants’ Well, but I was too
tired to take another step farther, too tired, in fact, to eat, although
I had a stock of dried fruit in my pockets, and noticed that the nests
of the wild fowl were well supplied with eggs. Having unloosened the
tackle from the back of the good beast that had carried it up the
mountain for me, I threw myself on the ground and was soon fast asleep,
with my faithful Bulger coiled up close against my breast.

In the morning the cattle were nowhere to be seen, but I didn’t trouble
myself about them, for I knew that old Yuliana would be sent up after
them the moment they were missed. After a hearty breakfast on half a
dozen roasted eggs of the wild fowl, with some dried fruit and
wintergreen berries, Bulger and I advanced to the edge of the Giants’
Well, or, rather, to the edge of the vast terraces of rock leading down
to it, each of which was from thirty to fifty feet in sheer height.

Before I go any farther, dear friends, I must beg you to remember that I
am an expert in the use of tackle, there being no knot, noose, or splice
known to a sailor which I didn’t have at my fingers’ ends, a fact not to
be wondered at when you take into consideration the thousands of miles
which I have travelled on water.

Nor would I have you shake your heads and look only half persuaded when
I go on describing our descent into the Giants’ Well, for of course
you’ll be asking yourselves how I succeeded in getting the tackle down
when there was no one left at the other end to untie it!

Know, then, that that was the smallest of my troubles; for, as any
sailor will tell you, you only need to tie your line in what is known as
a “fool’s knot,” to one end of which you make fast a mere cord. The
moment you have reached the bottom, a sharp tug at the cord unties the
fool’s knot, and your tackle falls down after you. My method was to
lower Bulger down first, and then let myself down after him. In this way
we proceeded from parapet to parapet, until at last we stood upon the
very edge of the vast well, the existence of which had been so
mysteriously hinted at in Don Fum’s manuscript. Its mouth was probably
fifty feet in width, and by straining my eyes I satisfied myself of the
existence of a shelf of rock on one side, as nearly as I could judge
about seventy-five feet down. It was a goodly stretch, and would require
every foot of my rope. You will not smile, I’m sure, when I tell you
that I pressed Bulger to my breast, and kissed him fondly before
lowering away. He returned my caresses, and by his joyous yelp gave me
to understand that he had perfect faith in his little master.

In a few moments I had joined him on this narrow shelf of rock. Below us
now was darkness, but think you I hesitated? I knew that my eyes would
soon become accustomed to the gloom, and I also knew that when my eyes
failed Bulger’s keener ones were there to help me out.

I rigged my tackle now with extra care, for I was really lowering my
little brother on a sort of trip of discovery.

He was soon out of sight, and then, in spite of my calmness, I drew a
quick breath, and my heart started upward a barleycorn or so. But hark!
his quick, sharp bark comes plainly up to me. It means that he has
landed upon a safe shelf or ledge, and the next moment my legs encircled
the rope, and I began to glide noiselessly down into the stilly depths,
his glad voice ringing in my ears.

Again and again did I send my wise and watchful little brother down
ahead of me, until at last, standing there and looking up, naught
remained to me of the mighty outside world but a bright silver speck,
like a tiny ray of light streaming through a pin-hole in the curtains of
your chamber.

But stop, have we reached the bottom of the Giants’ Well? for with a
trial plummet I find that the walls are no longer sheer; they slope
inward, and gently too, almost so much so that I hardly need a line to
continue my descent. Lighting one of my little tapers, I make my way
cautiously around the edge. In half an hour I find myself back at the
starting-place. The curve to the path has been always the same, while my
trial plummet at all times has indicated the same slope to the rocky
basin. And then for the first time, two certain words made use of by
that learned Master of Masters, Don Fum, till then a mystery to me,
stood out before my eyes as if written with a pen of fire upon those
black walls thousands of feet below the great world of light which I had
quitted a few hours before. Those words were Polyphemus’ Funnel! Yes,
there could be no doubt of it: I had reached the bottom of the Giants’
Well. I stood upon the edge of Polyphemus’ Funnel!



                               CHAPTER VI

  MY DESPAIR UPON FINDING THE PIPE OF THE FUNNEL TOO SMALL FOR MY
    BODY.—A RAY OF HOPE BREAKS IN UPON ME.—FULL ACCOUNT OF HOW I
    SUCCEEDED IN ENTERING THE PIPE OF THE FUNNEL.—MY PASSAGE THROUGH
    IT.—BULGER’S TIMELY AID.—THE MARBLE HIGHWAY AND SOME CURIOUS
    THINGS CONCERNING THE ENTRANCE TO THE WORLD WITHIN A WORLD.


The rocky sides of Polyphemus’ Funnel were apparently as well polished
as those of any tin funnel that I had ever seen hanging in the kitchen
of Castle Trump, so making fast my tackle and taking Bulger in my arms,
away we went sliding down the side with the line passed under my arm for
safety’s sake.

It was nearly a hundred feet to the bottom, for I had measured off the
full length of my line before I had come to the apex of this gigantic
cone, and not caring to tumble headlong down its pipe, I proceeded to
light a taper and look about me.

Ah, dear friends, I can feel that shudder now, so terrible was it, and
what wonder, too, for a glance at the pipe of the funnel told me that it
was too small to let my body pass through. The agonizing thought flashed
through my mind that I had committed a terrible error—that I had
mistaken some vast pit for the Giants’ Well, that I had thrown Bulger’s
and my own life away in mad and unreasoning haste, that I should never
reach the wonderful World within a World, that there in that thick gloom
must we lay our bodies and bones.

Or, thought I, may not the learned Master of Masters, Don Fum, have made
an error himself in holding out the idea that the pipe of Polyphemus’
Funnel was large enough to admit the passage of a man’s body?

In my almost frenzy I advanced to the mouth of the pipe, and, lowering
myself into it, let my body sink as far as it would.

It caught at the shoulders, and after a careful examination I was forced
to reach the brain-racking conclusion that my faithful Bulger and I had
travelled our last mile together.

There was nothing for us to do but to lie down and die.

Lie down and die? Never! I had noticed in making the descent into the
Giants’ Well that its side had much the appearance of being walled
around by blocks of stone. With Bulger strapped to my back I would
slowly climb up from shelf to shelf until my strength failed me, and
then I would wait until I thought old Yuliana had come back to gather
herbs, and possibly I might make her hear me.

In my despair I sighed and clutched my own arms, and as I did so one of
my hands came into contact with something cold and slippery having the
feel of tallow. Taking a pinch of the substance between my thumb and
finger, I rubbed it thoughtfully for a moment, and then a ray of hope
broke through the awful gloom that enshrouded me so pitilessly. It was
black lead—there could be no doubt of it. It had made its way through a
crack or crevice in Polyphemus’ Funnel, and I had rubbed it off in
sliding down the side. With this greasy material to rub on the inside of
the pipe to the funnel, and also to besmear myself with, mayhap I might
yet slip through into the World within a World!

At any rate, I determined to make the trial, even if I left some of my
skin on the flinty rock.

In order to collect my thoughts thoroughly, and that I might proceed
step by step in that systematic order so characteristic of all my
wonderful exploits, I sat down, and putting my arm around dear Bulger’s
neck and drawing him up against me, I communed with myself for a good
half-hour.

[Illustration: BEFORE HER MAJESTY GALAXA, QUEEN OF THE MIKKAMENKIES.]

Then all was in readiness for action; and to prove to you, dear friends,
how careful Bulger was not to interrupt my train of thought, I have to
report to you that although a small animal of the rat family came out
from a crevice in the rock while I sat there thinking, as I could see by
the light of my tiny wax taper, and had the temerity first to sniff at
Bulger’s tail and then to give it a playful nip, yet the sagacious
animal never budged a hair’s breadth.

“Mind hath ordered, now let hands obey!” I exclaimed, as I sprang up and
began stripping off my outer garments. This done, I clambered up on the
side of the funnel, and began to collect a supply of the black lead,
which I deposited near the opening of the pipe. The next thing to do was
to get Bulger through the pipe ahead of me. To this end I tied him up in
my clothing, bag fashion, and began to lower away.

After paying out sixty-five or seventy feet of the line, he struck
bottom, and by his loud barking gave me to understand that it was all
right, that I might make the descent myself. Upon hearing his voice, I
gave the line a few sharp tugs. He was not slow to comprehend my
meaning, and in a moment or so had not only scrambled out of the bag
himself, but pulled my clothing loose, so that I might draw the line up
again.

My next step was to contrive a way to weight myself when the moment
arrived to begin the descent, for I felt sure that I never should be
able to arrange it so as to slip through the pipe unless something was
pulling at my heels.

Cutting off about ten feet of the rope, I made fast one end of the piece
to a long piece of rock, weighing about a hundred pounds. This I laid
near the mouth of the pipe ready for use. But now came the most
difficult thing of all—it was to draw my shoulders in on my breast and
lash them securely in that position, by which plan I expected to reduce
my width by at least two good inches.

These two inches thus gained, or, rather, lost, might be the means by
which I would be able to slip through the pipe of Polyphemus’ Funnel and
reach the vast underground passage leading to the World within a World.
Putting a noose around my chest, just below my collar bone, I drew my
shoulders in as tight as I could bear, and changed the slip knot into a
hard one; then having made the other end of the line fast to the side of
the funnel, I proceeded to wind myself up as the housewives often do a
big sausage to keep it from bursting. This done, I set about rolling in
the black lead until I was thoroughly smeared with it.

There was now but one thing more to do before dropping myself into the
pipe, and that was to make fast the weight to my feet. It was no easy
task, wound up as I was, with my arms lashed down against my body, but
by the use of slip knots I finally accomplished the feat, and sitting
down put my legs into the pipe and drew a long breath, for I felt as if
I was skewered up in a straight jacket.

Bending down, I called out to Bulger. He answered with a yelp of joy
that brought fresh vigor to my heart. Now was come the supreme moment
which was to witness success or failure. Failure! Oh, what a dread word
is that! and yet how often must human lips pronounce it, and in so doing
breathe out the sigh in which it ends! Quickly lowering the weight, I
wriggled off the edge of the opening, and straightened myself out as I
slipped into the pipe.

Had I stopped it like a cork, or was I moving? Yes, down, down, gently,
slowly, noiselessly, I went slipping through the pipe to Polyphemus’
Funnel. What did I care how that weight caused the line to cut into my
ankles? I was moving, I was drawing nearer and nearer to Bulger, whose
joyous bark I could hear now and then, nearer to the inner gates of the
World within a World!

But woe is me! I suddenly stop, and in spite of all my efforts to start
again by twisting, turning, and shaking my body, it refused to sink
another inch, and there I stick.

“Oh, Bulger, Bulger,” I moan, “faithful friend, if thou couldst but
reach me, one tug from thee might save thy little master!”

In a sort of a wild and desperate way I now began to feel about me as
well as I could with my hands wedged in so close to my sides, but in a
moment or so I had discovered the cause of my coming to such a sudden
standstill.

I had struck a portion of the pipe that had a thread to it, like that
which encircles a bolt of iron and makes a screw of it, and the thought
came to me that if I could only succeed in giving a revolving motion to
my body, I would with every turn twist myself farther down toward the
end of the pipe.

I could feel that my knuckles and finger tips were being bruised and
lacerated by this arduous work, but what cared I for the keen pain that
darted from hands to wrists, and wrists to elbows! It was like twisting
a screw slowly through a long nut, only the thread in this case was on
the nut and the grooves in the screw, and that screw was my poor bruised
little body!

All of a sudden, by the swinging of the weight, I could tell that it had
passed out at the lower end of the pipe. It was pulling cruelly hard on
my tender ankles, but I could twist myself no more; my strength was
gone. I was at the point of swooning when I heard Bulger utter a loud
yelp, and the next instant there was such a strong tug at my ankles that
I sent forth a groan, but that tug saved me! It was Bulger who had
leaped into the air, and catching the rope in his teeth had dragged his
little master out of the pipe of Polyphemus’ Funnel!

We all fell into the same heap, Bulger, I, and the weight, fully ten
feet, and very serious might have been the consequences for me had my
fall not been broken by my striking on the pile of my clothing placed
directly under the opening; and, dear friends, if you talked until the
crack o’ doom you could not make me believe that my four-footed brother
hadn’t placed those clothes there to catch me.

They weren’t thrown higgledy-piggledy into a heap either, but were laid
one upon the other, the heaviest at the bottom.

Having unwound myself and lighted one of my wax tapers, I made haste to
cast away the undergarment with its coating of black lead and resume my
clothing; then stooping down, I made an examination of the floor. It was
composed of huge blocks of marble of various colors, polished almost as
smooth as if the hand of man had wrought the work; and then I knew that
I was on Nature’s Marble Highway leading to the cities of the under
world which Don Fum had mentioned in his book, and I remembered, too,
that he had spoken of Nature’s Mighty Mosaics, huge fantastic figures on
the walls of these lofty corridors, made up of various colored blocks
and fragments laid one upon the other as if with design, and not by the
wild, tempestuous whims of upbursting forces thousands of years ago,
when the earth was in its mad and wayward youth. After a rest of several
hours, during which I nursed my torn hands and bruised fingers, Bulger
and I were up and off again along this broad and glorious Marble
Highway. Strange to say, it was not the inky darkness of the ordinary
cavern which filled these magnificent chambers, through which the Marble
Highway went winding in stately and massive grandeur; far from it. The
gloom was tempered by a faint glow that met us on the way ever and anon,
like a ray of twilight gone astray. Anyway, Bulger, I noticed, could see
perfectly well; so tying a bit of twine to his collar, I sent him on
ahead, convinced that I could have no surer guide.

At times our path would be lighted up for an instant by the bursting-out
of a little tongue of flame either on the sides or from the roof of the
gallery. I was puzzled for quite a while to tell what it proceeded from;
but at last I caught sight of the source, or rather the maker, of this
welcome illumination. It proceeded from a lizard-like animal, which, by
suddenly uncoiling its tail, had the power to emit this extremely bright
flash of phosphorescent light, and in so doing he made a sharp crack,
for all the world like the noise of an electric spark. Bulger was
delighted with this performance; and on one occasion, not being able to
control his feeling, he uttered a sharp bark, whereupon apparently ten
thousand of these little torch-bearers snapped their tails at me at the
same instant, and filled the vast place with a flash of light of almost
lightning-like intensity.

Bulger was so frightened by the result of his applause that he took good
care to keep quiet after this.



                              CHAPTER VII

  OUR FIRST NIGHT IN THE UNDER WORLD, AND HOW IT WAS FOLLOWED BY THE
    FIRST BREAK OF DAY.—BULGER’S WARNING AND WHAT IT MEANT.—WE FALL IN
    WITH AN INHABITANT OF THE WORLD WITHIN A WORLD.—HIS NAME AND
    CALLING.—MYSTERIOUS RETURN OF NIGHT.—THE LAND OF BEDS, AND HOW OUR
    NEW FRIEND PROVIDED ONE FOR US.


So heavy with sleep did my eyelids become at last that I knew that it
must be night in the outer world, and so we halted, and I stretched
myself at full length on that marble floor, which, by the way, was
pleasantly warm beneath us; and the air, too, was strangely comforting
to the lungs, there being a complete absence of that smell of earth and
odor of dampness so common in vast subterranean chambers.

My sleep was long-continued and most refreshing; Bulger was already
awake, however, when I sat up and tried to look about me.

He began tugging at the string which I had fastened to his collar as if
he wanted to lead me somewhere, so I humored him and followed along
after. To my delight he led me straight to a pool of deliciously sweet
and cold water. Here we drank our fill, and after a very frugal
breakfast on some dried figs set out again on our journey along the
Marble Highway. Suddenly, to my more than joy, the faint and uncertain
light of the place began to strengthen. Why, it seemed almost as if the
day of the upper world were about to break, so delicate were the various
hues in which the ever-increasing light clothed itself: then, as if
affrighted at its own increasing glory, it would fade away again to
almost gloom. Ere many moments again this faint and mysterious glow
would return, beginning with the softest yellow, then changing through a
dozen different tints, and, like a fickle maid uncertain which to wear,
put all aside and don the lily’s garb. Bulger and I wandered along the
Marble Highway almost afraid to break a stillness so deep that it seemed
to me as if I could hear those sportive rays of light in their play
against the many-colored rocks arching this mighty corridor.

Now, as the Marble Highway swept around in a graceful curve, a dazzling
flood of light burst upon us.

It was sunrise in the World within a World.

Whence came this flood of dazzling light which now caused the sides and
arching roof to glow and sparkle as if we had suddenly entered one of
Nature’s vast storehouses of polished gems? Shading my eyes with my hand
I looked about me in order to try and solve the mystery.

It did not take me long to understand it all. Know then, dear friends,
that the ceilings, domes, and arched roofs of this underground world
were fretted with a metal of greater hardness than any known to us
children of sunshine. Its seams ran hither and thither like the veins of
gigantic leaves; and at certain hours currents of electricity from some
vast internal reservoir of Nature’s own building, streamed through these
metal traceries until they glowed with a heat so white as to give off
the flood of dazzling light of which I have already spoken.

The current never came with a sudden rush or burst, but began gently and
timidly, so to speak, as if feeling its way along. Hence the beautiful
tints that always preceded sunrise in this lower world, and made it so
much like the coming and going of our glorious sunshine.

The Marble Highway now divided, and the two halves of the fork curving
away to the right and left enclosed a small but exquisitely ornamented
park, or pleasure ground I might call it, provided with seats of some
dark wood beautifully polished and carved. This park was ornamented with
four fountains, each springing from a crystal basin and spreading out
into a feathery spray that glistened like whirling snow in the dazzling
white light. As Bulger and I directed our steps toward one of the
benches with the intention of taking a good rest, a low growl from him
warned me to be on the alert. I gave a second look. A human being was
seated on the bench. Beside myself, as I was, with curiosity to come
face to face with this inhabitant of the under world, the first we had
met, I made a halt, determined to ascertain, if possible, whether he was
quite harmless before accosting him.

He was small in stature, and clad entirely in black, a sort of loose,
flowing robe much like a Roman toga. His head was bare, and what I could
see of it was round, smooth, and rosy, with about as much hair, or
rather fuzz, upon it as the head of an infant six weeks old. His face
was hidden by a black fan which he carried in his right hand, and the
uses of which you will learn later on. His eyes were shielded from the
intense glare of the light by a pair of colored glass goggles. As he
raised his hand between me and the light I couldn’t help catching my
breath. I could see right through it: the bones were as clear as amber.
And his head, too, was only a little less opaque. Suddenly two words
from Don Fum’s manuscript flashed through my mind, and I exclaimed
joyously,—

“Bulger, we’re in the Land of the Transparent Folk!”

At the sound of my voice the little man arose and made a low bow,
lowering his fan to his breast where he held it. His baby face was
ludicrously sad and solemn.

“Yes, Sir Stranger,” said he, in a low, musical voice, “thou art indeed
in the Land of the Mikkamenkies (Mica Men), in the Land of the
Transparent Folk, called also Goggle Land; but if I should show thee my
heart thou wouldst see that I am deeply pained to think that I should
have been the first to bid thee welcome, for know, Sir Stranger, that
thou speakest with Master Cold Soul the Court Depressor, the saddest man
in all Goggle Land, and, by the way, sir, permit me to offer thee a pair
of goggles for thyself, and also a pair for thy four-footed companion,
for our intense white light would blind thee both in a few days.”

I thanked Master Cold Soul very warmly for the goggles, and proceeded to
set one pair astride my nose and to tie the other in front of Bulger’s
eyes. I then in most courteous manner informed Master Cold Soul who I
was, and begged him to explain the cause of his great sadness. “Well,
thou must know, little baron,” said he, after I had taken a seat beside
him on the bench, “that we, the loving subjects of Queen Galaxa, whose
royal heart is almost run down,—excuse these tears, living as we do in
this beautiful world so unlike the one you inhabit, which our wise men
tell us is built, strange to say, on the very outside of the earth’s
crust where it is most exposed to the full sweep of blinding snow,
freezing blast, pelting hail, drowning rain, and choking dust,—living as
we do, I say, in this vast temple by Nature’s own hands builded, where
disease is unknown, and where our hearts run down like clocks that may
have but one winding, we are prone, alas, to be too happy; to laugh too
much; to spend too much time in idle gayety, chattering the time away
like thoughtless children amused with baubles, delighted with tinsel
nothings. Know then, little baron, that mine is the business to check
this gayety, to put an end to this childish glee, to depress our
people’s spirits, lest they run too high. Hence my garb of inky hue, my
rueful countenance, my frequent outflowing of tears, my voice ever
attuned to sadness. Excuse me, little baron, my fan slipped then; didst
see through me? I would not have thee see my heart to-day, for some way
or other I cannot bring it to a slow pace; it is dreadfully unruly.”

I assured him that I had not seen through him as yet.

And now, dear friends, I must explain that by the laws of the
Mikkamenkies each man, woman, and child must wear in their garments a
heart-shaped opening on their breast directly over their hearts, with a
corresponding one at the back, so that under certain conditions, when
the law allows it, each may have the right to take a look at his
neighbor’s heart and see exactly how it is beating—whether fast or slow,
whether throbbing or leaping, or whether pulsating calmly and naturally.
But this privilege is only accorded, as I have said, under certain
conditions, hence to shut off inquisitive glances each Mikkamenky is
allowed to carry a black fan with which to cover the heart-shaped
opening above described, and in this way conceal his or her feelings to
a degree. I say to a degree, for I may as well tell you right here that
falsehood is unknown, or, more correctly stated, impossible in the land
of the Transparent Folk, for the reason that so wondrously clear,
limpid, and crystal-like are their eyes that the slightest attempt to
say one thing while they are thinking another roils and clouds them as
if a drop of milk had fallen into a glass of the purest water.

As I sat gazing at this strange little being seated on the bench there
beside me, I recalled a conversation which I had had with a learned
Russian at Solvitchegodsk. Said he, speaking of his people, “We are all
born with light hair, brilliant eyes, and pale faces, for we have sprung
up under the snow.” And I thought to myself how delighted, how
entranced, he would have been to look upon this curious being, born not
under the snow, but far under the surface of the earth, where in these
vast chambers of this World within a World, this strange folk had, like
plants grown in a dark, deep cellar, gradually parted with all their
coloring until their eyes glowed like orbs of pure crystal, until their
bones had been bleached to amber clearness, and their blood coursed
colorless through colorless veins. While sitting there following out
this train of thought, the clear white light suddenly began to flicker
and to play fantastic tricks upon the walls by dancing in garbs of
ever-changing hues, now brightest yellow, now palest green, now glorious
purple, now deepest crimson.

“Ah, little baron!” exclaimed Master Cold Soul, “that was an uncommonly
short day. Rise, please.”

I made haste to obey, whereupon he touched a spring and the bench opened
in the centre, disclosing two very comfortable beds.

[Illustration: A DINNER EASILY PROVIDED FOR.]

“In a few moments night will be upon us,” continued the Mikkamenky, “but
thou seest that we have not been taken by surprise. I should explain to
thee, little baron, that owing to the capricious manner in which our
River of Light is apt both to begin and to cease flowing, we are never
able to tell how long a day or a night will prove to be. This is what we
call twilight. In thy world I suppose day goes out with a terrible bang,
for our wise men tell us that nothing can be done in the upper world
without making a noise; that your people really love noise; and that the
man who makes the greatest noise is considered the greatest man.

“Owing to the fact, little baron, that no one in Goggle Land can tell
how long the day will last, or how long it may be necessary to sleep,
our laws permit no one to set any exact time when a thing shall be done,
or to exact any promise to do this or that on a certain day, for, bless
thy soul, that day may not be ten minutes long. Hence we say, ‘If
to-morrow be over five hours long, come to me at the beginning of the
sixth hour;’ and we never wish each other a plain good-night, but say,
‘Good-night, as long as it lasts.’

“What’s more, little baron, as night is apt to come upon us this way
unawares, by law all the beds belong to the state; no one is allowed to
own his own bed, for when night overtakes him he may be at the other end
of the city, and some other subject of Queen Galaxa may be in front of
his door, and no matter where night may overtake a Mikkamenky, he is
sure to find a bed. There are beds everywhere. By touching a spring they
drop from the walls, they pull out like drawers, they are under the
tables and divans, in the parks, in the market-place, by the roadside;
benches, bins, boxes, barrows, and barrels by pressing a spring may in
an instant be transformed into beds. It is the Land of Beds, little
baron. But ah! behold, the twilight goes to its end. Good-night as long
as it lasts!” and with this Master Cold Soul stretched himself out and
began to snore, having first carefully covered up the two holes in the
front and back of his garment, so that I shouldn’t have a chance to take
a peep through him in case I should wake up first. Bulger and I were
right glad to lay our limbs on a real bed, although from the way my
four-footed brother followed his tail around and around, I could see
that he wasn’t particularly delighted with the softness of the couch.



                              CHAPTER VIII

  “GOOD-MORNING AS LONG AS IT LASTS.”—PLAIN TALK FROM MASTER COLD
    SOUL.—WONDERS OF GOGGLE LAND.—WE ENTER THE CITY OF THE
    MIKKAMENKIES.—BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF IT.—OUR APPROACH TO THE ROYAL
    PALACE.—QUEEN GALAXA AND HER CRYSTAL THRONE.—MASTER COLD SOUL’S
    TEARS.


I don’t think the darkness lasted over three hours, perhaps it was
longer; but Master Cold Soul was obliged to shake me gently ere he could
rouse me.

“Now, little baron,” said he, after he had wished me a good-morning with
the usual “as long as it lasts” tacked to it, “if thou art quite
willing, I’ll conduct thee to the court of our gracious mistress, Queen
Galaxa. Our wise men have often discoursed to her concerning the upper
world and the terrible sufferings of its people, exposed as they are to
be first frozen by the pitiless cold and then burned by the scorching
rays of what they call their sun, and she will no doubt deign to be
pleased at sight of thee, although I must warn thee that thou art most
uncomely, that thou seemst so black and hard to me as scarcely to be
human, but rather a bit of living earth or rock. I greatly fear me that
thou wilt make our people extremely vain by comparison. Thy four-footed
companion we know well by sight, having often seen his petrified image
in the rocks of the dark chambers of our world.”

“Master Cold Soul,” said I, as we walked along, “when thou gettest to
know me better thou wilt find me more comely, and although I shall not
be able to show thee my heart, I hope to be able to prove to thee and
thine that I have such a thing.”

“No doubt, no doubt, little baron,” exclaimed Master Cold Soul, “but be
not offended. It is not more pleasant for me to tell thee these
disagreeable things than it is for thee to hear them, but I am paid to
do it and I must earn my wage. Vanity grows apace in our world, and I
prick its bubbles whenever I see them.”

To my great wonder I now discovered that the world of the Mikkamenkies
had its lakes and rivers like our own, only of course they were smaller
and mirror-faced, being never visited by the faintest zephyr. To my
question as to whether they were peopled with living things, Master Cold
Soul informed me that they literally swarmed with the most delicious
fish, both in scales and shells.

“But think not, little baron,” he added, “that we of Goggle Land have no
other food than such as we draw from the water; for in our gardens grow
many kinds of delicate vegetables, springing up in a single night almost
as light as foam and just as white. But we are small eaters, little
baron, and rarely find it necessary to put to death a large shellfish.
We merely lay hold of his great claw, which he obligingly drops into our
hand, and forthwith sets about growing another.”

“But tell me, I pray thee, Master Cold Soul,” said I, “where ye find the
silk to weave such soft and beautiful stuff as that thy garment is
fashioned from?”

“In this under world of ours, little baron,” replied Master Cold Soul,
“there are many vast recesses not reached by the River of Light, and in
these dark chambers flit about huge night moths, like restless spirits
forever on the wing, but of course they are not, for we find their eggs
glued against the rocky sides of these caverns and collect them
carefully. The worms that are hatched from them spin huge cocoons so
large that one may not be hidden in my hand, and these unwound give unto
our looms all the thread they need.”

“And the beautiful wood,” I continued, “which I see about me carved and
fashioned into so many articles, whence comes it?”

“From the quarries,” answered Master Cold Soul.

“Quarries?” I repeated wonderingly.

“Why, yes, little baron,” said he, “for we have quarries of wood as no
doubt thou hast quarries of stone. Our wise men tell us that thousands
and thousands of years ago vast forests grown in your world were in the
upheavals and fallings-in of the earth’s crust thrust down into ours,
the gigantic trunks wedged closely together, and standing bolt upright
just as they grew. At least, so we find them when we have dug away the
hardened clay that has shut them in these many ages. But see, little
baron, we are now entering the city. Yonder is the royal palace—wilt
walk with me thither?”

Ah, dear friends, would that I could make you see this beautiful city of
the under world just as it showed itself to me then, spread out so
gloriously beneath the glittering domes and vaulted corridors, from
which poured down upon the exquisitely carved and polished entrances to
the living chambers of this happy folk, a flood of white light
apparently more dazzling than our noonday sun!

It was a sight so strangely beautiful that many times I paused to gaze
upon it. Young and old, all clad in the same gracefully flowing garbs of
silk, now purple, now royal blue, and now rich vermilion, were hurrying
hither and thither, each armed with the inevitable black fan, and the
baby face of each aglow with life and sweet content, while a hundred
fountains springing from crystal basins glistened in the dazzling white
light, and ten times a hundred flags and gonfalons hung listless but
rich in splendor from invisible wires. Strange music came floating along
from the gracefully shaped barges with silken awnings, which were
gliding noiselessly over the surface of the winding river, the oars
stirring the waters until the wake seemed a path through molten silver.

As Bulger and I followed Master Cold Soul along the streets of polished
marble, it was not long before a crowd of Mikkamenkies was at our heels,
whispering all sorts of uncomplimentary things about us, mingled with
not a few fits of suppressed laughter.

The Court Depressor reproved them sternly.

“Cease your ill-timed mirth,” said he, “and go about your business. Must
I pause and tell you a grewsome tale to check your foolish gayety? Know
ye not that all this silly mirth doth quicken your hearts and make them
run down just so much sooner?”

At these words of Master Cold Soul they fell back, and put an end to
their giggling, but it was only for a moment, and by the time we reached
the portal of the royal palace, a still louder and noisier crowd was
close behind us.

Master Cold Soul suddenly halted, and drawing forth a huge
pocket-handkerchief, began to weep furiously. It was not without its
effect, and from that moment I could see that the Mikkamenkies were
inclined to take a more serious view of my arrival in their city,
although it was only Cold Soul’s presence that kept them from bursting
out into fits of violent laughter.

Above the portals of the queen’s palace there were large openings hewn
in the rock for the purpose of admitting light into the royal
apartments; but these windows, if they may be called such, were hung
with silken curtains of delicate colors, so that the light which entered
the throne room was tempered and softened. The room itself was likewise
hung with silken stuffs, which gave it a look of Oriental splendor; but
never in my travels among strange peoples of far-away lands had my eyes
ever rested upon any work of art that equalled the crystal throne upon
which sat Galaxa, Queen of the Mikkamenkies.

In the upper world most diligent search had never been able to unearth a
piece of rock crystal more than about three feet in diameter; but here
in Queen Galaxa’s throne four glorious columns at least fifteen feet in
height, and at their base three feet in diameter, shot up in matchless
splendor. Their lower parts shut in spangles of gold that glittered with
ever-varying hues as a different light fell upon them. The cross pieces
and pieces making up the back and arms had been chosen on account of the
exquisitely beautiful hair and needle-shaped crystals of other metals
which they enclosed. A silken baldachin of rare beauty covered in the
throne, and from its edges dropped heavy cords and tassels of rich color
and the perfection of human handicraft as to fineness and finish.

At the foot of the throne sat the young princess Crystallina; and
standing behind her, and engaged in combing her long silken tresses, was
her favorite waiting-maid, Damozel Glow Stone, while around and about,
in files and group-wise, stood lords and ladies, courtiers and
counsellors, by the dozen.

As Master Cold Soul advanced to salute the queen, a throng of the idlers
who had followed at our heels crowded into the anteroom with loud
outbursts of laughter. The Court Depressor was greatly incensed, and
turning upon the throng he began weeping again with wonderful energy;
but I noticed that it was nothing but sound: not a tear fell to obscure
the crystal clearness of his eyes. Then he began chanting a sort of song
which was intended to have a depressing influence on the wild mirth of
the Mikkamenkies. I can only recollect one verse of this solemn chant of
the Court Depressor. It ran as follows:—

           “Weep, Mikkamenkies, weep, O weep,
             For the eyeless man in the City of Light,
             For the mouthless man in Plenty’s bowers,
             For the earless man in Music’s realm,
             For the noseless man in the Kingdom of flowers,
           Weep, Mikkamenkies, weep, O weep!”

But they only laughed the louder, crying out,—

“Nay, Master Cold Soul, we will not weep for them; weep for them
thyself.” At last Queen Galaxa raised the slender golden wand, tipped
with a diamond point, that lay within her hand, and instantly a hush
came upon the whole place, while every eye was riveted upon Bulger and
me.



                               CHAPTER IX

  BULGER AND I ARE PRESENTED TO QUEEN GALAXA, THE LADY OF THE CRYSTAL
    THRONE.—HOW SHE RECEIVED US.—HER DELIGHT OVER BULGER, WHO GIVES
    PROOF OF HIS WONDERFUL INTELLIGENCE IN MANY WAYS.—HOW THE QUEEN
    CREATES HIM LORD BULGER.—ALL ABOUT THE THREE WISE MEN IN WHOSE
    CARE WE ARE PLACED BY QUEEN GALAXA.


Owing to the soft air, the never-varying temperature, and the absence of
all noise and dust, the Mikkamenkies, although they die in the end like
other folk, yet do they never seem to grow old. Their skin remains soft
and free from wrinkles, and their eyes as clear and bright as the
crystal of Queen Galaxa’s throne.

At the time of our arrival in the Land of the Transparent Folk, Queen
Galaxa’s heart had almost run down. In about two weeks more it would
come quietly and gently to a stop; for, as I have already told you, dear
friends, the heart of a Mikkamenky being perfectly visible when the
dazzling white light in its full strength was allowed to shine through
his body, why, it was a very easy matter for a physician to take a look
at the organ of life, and tell almost to the hour when it would exhaust
itself—in other words, run down. Galaxa looked every inch a real queen
as she half-reclined upon her glorious crystal throne. She was clad in
long, flowing silk garments of a right royal purple, and the gems which
encircled her neck and wrists would have put to shame the crown jewels
of any monarch of the upper world. Her garb had very much the cut and
style of the ancient Greek costume, and the gold sandals worn by her
added to the resemblance; but the one thing that excited my wonder more
than all the others put together was her hair, so long, so fine and
silken was it, such a mass of it was there, and so dazzling white was
it—not the blue or yellow white that comes of age in our world, but a
milk white, a cotton white. And as we drew near, to Bulger’s but not to
my amazement, her hair began to quiver and rustle and rise, until it
buried her whole throne completely out of sight. Of course I knew that,
seated as she was upon a throne of glass, it was only necessary to send
a gentle current of electricity through her to make her wonderful head
of hair stand up in this manner, like the white and filmy tentacles of
some gigantic creature of the sea, half-plant, half-animal.

“Rise, little baron,” said Queen Galaxa, as I dropped upon my right knee
on the lowest step of the throne, “and be welcome to our kingdom. Whilst
thou may be pleased to tarry here, my people shall bestir themselves to
show thee all that may seem wonderful in thine eyes; for although our
wise men have often discussed to us of the upper world, yet art thou its
first inhabitant to visit us, and thy wonderful companion is right
welcome too. Can he talk, little baron?”

“Not exactly, Queen Galaxa,” said I with low obeisance, “yet he can
understand me and I him.”

“He is quite harmless, is he not?” asked the queen.

You may try to imagine how I felt, dear friends, when as I was about to
say, “Perfectly so, royal lady,” to my amazement I saw Bulger advance
and sniff at the Princess Crystallina and then draw back and show his
teeth as she stretched out her hand to caress him.

Bending over him I reproved him in a whisper, and bade him kneel before
the queen. This he proceeded to do, saluting her with three very stately
bows, at which everybody laughed heartily.

“I would have him come nearer,” said the queen, “so that I may lay my
hand upon him.”

At a sign from me Bulger began to lick his fore-paws very carefully, and
then having wiped them on the rug, sprang up the steps of the throne and
placed his front feet upon Queen Galaxa’s lap.

The fair ruler of the Mikkamenkies was delighted with this sample of
Bulger’s fine manners, and in order to amuse her still further I
proceeded to put Bulger through many of his quaint tricks and curious
feats, bidding him “say his prayers,” “feign death,” “weep for his
sweetheart,” “count ten,” “walk upright,” “go lame and cry to tell how
it hurts.”

Scarcely had he gone half around the circle, feigning lameness, when the
damozel Glow Stone began to weep herself, and stooping down commenced to
caress Bulger and to kiss his lame foot, caresses which, to my more than
surprise, Bulger was not slow in returning, and later too when I bade
him choose the maiden he loved best and kiss her hand, he bounded
straight toward Glow Stone and bestowed not one but twenty kisses upon
her outstretched hands, while the princess Crystallina shrank away in
fear and disgust from the “ugly beast,” as she termed him.

“Bid him bring my handkerchief to me, little baron,” cried Galaxa,
throwing it on the floor. I did as the queen commanded, but Bulger
refused to obey.

“Thou seest, Queen Galaxa,” said I with a low bow, “he refuses to lift
the handkerchief without a command from thy royal self,” which delicate
compliment pleased the lady mightily.

“How comes it, little baron,” she asked, “that thou shouldst be of noble
lineage and thy brother, as thou callest him, plain Bulger?”

“It comes, royal lady,” said I right humbly, “as it often comes in the
world which I inhabit, that honors go to them that least deserve them.”

“Well, then, little baron,” cried Galaxa gayly, “though I be but a petty
sovereign compared with thine, yet may small rulers do acts of great
justice. Bid thy four-footed brother kneel before us.”

[Illustration: PRINCESS CRYSTALLINA UNCOVERS HER HEART.]

At a word from me, Bulger prostrated himself on the steps of Galaxa’s
crystal throne, and laid his head at her very feet.

Leaning forward she touched him lightly with her golden wand, and
exclaimed, “Rise, Lord Bulger, rise! Queen Galaxa seated on her crystal
throne bids Lord Bulger rise!”

In an instant Bulger raised himself on his hind feet and laid his head
in the queen’s lap, while the whole room rang with loud huzzas, and
every lady gently clapped her frail and glass-like hands, save the
princess Crystallina who feigned to be asleep.

Queen Galaxa now undid a string of pearls from her neck and tied them
with her own hands around Lord Bulger’s—and so it was that my
four-footed brother ceased to be plain Bulger. Then turning to her
counsellors of state, Queen Galaxa bade them assign a royal apartment to
Lord Bulger and me, and gave strict orders that the severest punishment
be at once visited upon any Mikkamenky who should dare to laugh at us or
to make disrespectful remarks concerning our dark eyes and skins and
weather-beaten appearance, for, as the royal lady said to her people,
“Ye might look worse than they were ye compelled to live on the outside
instead of the inside of the world, exposed to biting blasts, piercing
cold, and clouds of suffocating dust.”

By the queen’s orders three of the wisest of the Mikkamenkies were
selected to attend Bulger and me, look after our wants, explain
everything to us—in a word, do all in their power to make our stay in
Goggle Land as pleasant as possible.

Their names, as nearly as I can translate them, were Doctor Nebulosus,
Sir Amber O’Pake, and Lord Cornucore. I should explain to you, dear
friends, the meaning of these names, for you might be inclined to think
that Doctor Somewhat Cloudy, Sir Clear-as-Amber; and Lord Heart-of-Horn
might indicate that they were more or less muddled in their intellects.
Far from it: I have already stated to you they were three of the very
wisest men in the Land of the Transparent Folk, and the lack of
clearness indicated by their names had reference solely to their eyes.

Now, as you know, the learned men of our upper world have a different
look from ordinary folk. They are stoop-shouldered, shaggy-eyebrowed,
long-haired, pursed-lipped, near-sighted, shambling-gaited. Well, the
only effect that long years of deep study had upon the Mikkamenkies was
to rob their beautiful crystal-like eyes of more or less of their
clearness.

Now I think you’ll understand why these three learned Mikkamenkies were
named as they were.

At any rate, they were, in spite of their strange names, three most
charming gentlemen; and no matter how many times I might ask the same
question over again, they were always ready with an answer quite as
polite as the one first given me. They did everything that I had a right
possibly to expect them to do. Indeed, there was but one single thing
which I would have fain had them do, and that was to let me look through
them.

This they most carefully avoided doing; and no matter how warmed up they
might become in their descriptions, and no matter how on the alert I was
to catch the coveted peep, the inevitable black fan was always in the
way.

Naturally, not only they, but all the Transparent Folk, felt a
repugnance to have a perfect stranger look through them, and I couldn’t
blame them for it either. I despaired of ever getting a chance of seeing
a human heart beating away for dear life, for all the world just like
the swing of a pendulum or the vibration of a balance wheel.



                               CHAPTER X

  A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF MY CONVERSATIONS WITH DOCTOR NEBULOSUS, SIR AMBER
    O’PAKE, AND LORD CORNUCORE, WHO TELL ME MANY THINGS THAT I NEVER
    KNEW BEFORE, FOR WHICH I WAS VERY GRATEFUL.


Lord Bulger and I were more than pleased with our new friends, Doctor
Nebulosus, Sir Amber O’Pake, and Lord Cornucore, although so eager were
they to make us thoroughly comfortable, that they overdid the matter at
times, and left me scarcely a moment to myself in which to make an entry
in my notebook. They were extremely solicitous lest in my ignorance I
should set down something wrong about them.

“For,” said Sir Amber O’Pake, “now that thou hast found the way to this
under world of ours, little baron, I feel assured that we shall have a
number of visitors from thy people every year or so, and I have already
issued orders to have extra beds made as soon as the wood can be
quarried.”

Doctor Nebulosus gave me a very interesting account of the various
ailments which the Mikkamenkies suffer from. “All sickness among our
people, little baron,” said he, “is purely mental or emotional; that is,
of the mind or feelings. There is no such thing as bodily infirmity
among us. Wine and strong drink are unknown in our world, and the food
we eat is light and easily digested. We are never exposed to the danger
of breathing a dust-laden atmosphere, and while we are an active and
industrious people, yet we sleep a great deal; for, as our laws forbid
the use of lamps or torches, except for the use of those toiling in the
dark chambers, it is not possible for us to ruin our health by turning
night into day. We go to bed the very moment the River of Light ceases
to flow. The only ailment that ever gives me the least trouble is
_iburyufrosnia_.”

“Pray, what is the nature of that ailment?” I asked.

“It is an inclination to be too happy,” replied Doctor Nebulosus
gravely, “and I regret to say that several of our people attacked with
this ailment have shortened their lives by refusing to take my remedies.
It usually develops very slowly, beginning with an inclination to
giggle, which, after a while, is succeeded by violent fits of laughter.

“For instance, little baron, when thou camest among us, many of our
people were attacked with a violent form of _iburyufrosnia_; and
although Master Cold Soul, the Court Depressor, made great efforts to
check it, yet he was quite powerless to do so. It spread over the city
with remarkable rapidity. Without knowing why, our workmen at their
work, our children at their play, our people in doors and out, began to
laugh and to be dangerously happy. I made examinations of several of the
worst cases, and discovered that at the rate they were beating the
hearts of most of them would run down in a single week. It was terrible.
A council was hastily held, and it was determined to conceal thee and
Lord Bulger from the public view, but happily my skill got the upper
hand of the attack.”

“Didst increase the number of pills to be taken?” I asked.

“No, little baron,” said Doctor Nebulosus; “I increased their size and
covered them with a dry powder, which made them extremely difficult to
swallow, and in this way compelled those taking them to cease their
laughing. But there were a number of cases so violent that they could
not be cured in this way. These I ordered to be strapped in at the waist
with broad belts, and to have their mouths held pried open with wooden
wedges. As thou mayst understand, this made laughing so difficult that
they speedily gave it up altogether.

“Ah, little baron,” continued the wise doctor with a sigh, “that was a
sorry day for the human race when it learned how to laugh. It is my
opinion that we owe this useless agitation of our bodies to you people
of the upper world. Exposed as ye were to piercing winds and biting
frosts, ye contracted the habit of shivering to keep warm, and, little
by little, this shivering habit so grew upon you, that ye kept up the
shivering whether ye were cold or not; only ye called it by another
name. Now, my knowledge of the human body teaches me that this quivering
of the flesh is a very wise provision of nature to keep the blood in
motion, and in this way to save the human body from perishing from the
cold; but why should we quiver when we are happy, little baron? All
pleasure is the thought, and yet at the very moment when we should keep
our bodies in as perfect repose as possible, we begin this ridiculous
shivering. Do we shiver when we look upon the beauties of the River of
Light, or listen to sweet music, or gaze upon the loving countenance of
our gracious Queen Galaxa? But worse than all, little baron, this
senseless quivering and shivering which we call laughter, unlike good,
deep, long-drawn, wholesome sighs, empty the lungs of air without
filling them again, and thus do we often see these gigglers and laughers
fall over in fainting fits, absolutely choked by their own wild and
unreasoning action. I have always contended, little baron, that we alone
of all animals had the laughing habit, and I am now delighted to have my
opinion confirmed by my acquaintance with the wise and dignified Lord
Bulger. Observe him. He knows quite as well as we what it is to be
pleased, to be amused, to be delighted, but he doesn’t think it
necessary to have recourse to fits of shivering and shuddering. Through
the brightened eye—true window of the soul—I can see how happy he is. I
can measure his joy; I can take note of his contentment.”

I was delighted with this learned discourse of the gentle Doctor
Nebulosus, and made notes of it lest the points of his argument might
escape my memory, the more pleased was I in that he proved my faithful
Bulger to be so wisely constructed and regulated by nature.

I made particular inquiry of my friends, Sir Amber O’Pake and Lord
Cornucore, as to whether Queen Galaxa ever had any trouble in governing
her people.

“None whatever,” was the answer. “In many a long year has it only been
necessary on one or two occasions to summon a Mikkamenky before the
magistrate and examine his heart under a strong light. The only
punishment allowed by our laws is confinement for a shorter or longer
time in one of the dark chambers. The severest sentence ever known to
have been passed by one of our magistrates was twelve hours in length.
But in all honesty, we must admit, little baron, that falsehood and
deception are unknown amongst us for the simple reason that, being
transparent, it is impossible for a Mikkamenky to deceive a brother
without being caught in the act. Therefore why make the attempt? The
very moment one of us begins to say one thing while he is thinking
another, his eyes cloud up and betray him, just as the crystal-clear
weather glass clouds up at the approach of a storm in the upper world.
But this, of course, little baron, is only true of our thoughts. Our
laws allow us to hide our feelings by the use of the black fan. No one
may look upon another’s heart unless its owner wills it. It is a very
grave offence for one Mikkamenky to look through another without that
one’s permission. But as thou wilt readily understand, inasmuch as we
are by nature transparent, it is utterly impossible for a marriage to
prove an unhappy one, for the reason that when a youth declares his love
for a maiden, they both have the right by law to look upon each other’s
hearts, and in this way they can tell exactly the strength of the love
they have for each other.” This and many other strange and interesting
things did my new friends, Doctor Nebulosus, Sir Amber O’Pake, and Lord
Cornucore impart unto me, and right grateful was I to good Queen Galaxa
for having chosen them for me. Good friends are better than gold,
although we may not think it at the time.



                               CHAPTER XI

  PLEASANT DAYS PASSED AMONG THE MIKKAMENKIES, AND WONDERFUL THINGS
    SEEN BY US.—THE SPECTRAL GARDEN, AND A DESCRIPTION OF IT.—OUR
    MEETING WITH DAMOZEL GLOW STONE, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.


From now on Lord Bulger and I made ourselves perfectly at home among the
Mikkamenkies. One of the royal barges was placed at our disposal, and
when we grew tired of walking about and gazing at the wonders of this
beautiful city of the under world, we stepped aboard our barge and were
rowed hither and thither on the glassy river; and if I had not seen it
myself I never would have believed that any kind of shellfish could ever
be taught to be so obliging as to swim to the surface and offer one of
their huge claws for our dinner, politely dropping it in our hand the
moment we had laid hold of it. On one of the river banks I noticed a
long row of wooden compartments looking very much like a grocer’s bins;
but you may think how amused Bulger and I were upon coming closer to
this long row of little houses to find that they were turtle nests, and
that quite a number of the turtles were sitting comfortably in their
nests busy laying their eggs—which, let me assure you, were the most
dainty tidbits I ever tasted.

I think I informed you that the river flowing through Goggle Land was
fairly swarming with delicious fish, the carp and sole being
particularly delicate in flavor; and knowing, as I did, what a
tender-hearted folk the Mikkamenkies are, I had been not a little
puzzled in my mind as to how they had ever been able to summon up
courage enough to drive a spear into one of these fish, which were as
tame and playful as a lot of kittens or puppies, and followed our barge
hither and thither, snapping up the food we tossed to them, and leaping
into the air, where they glistened like burnished silver as the white
light sparkled on their scales.

But the mystery was solved one day when I saw one of the fishermen
decoying a score or more of fish into a sort of pen shut off from the
river by a wire netting. Scarcely had he closed the gates when, to my
amazement, I saw the fish one after the other come to the surface and
float about on their sides, stone dead.

“This, little baron,” explained the man in charge, “is the death
chamber. Hidden at the bottom of this dark pool lie several electric
eels of great size and power, and when our people want a fresh supper of
fish we simply open these gates and decoy a shoal of them inside by
tossing their favorite food into the water. The executioners are
awaiting them, and in a few instants the fish, while enjoying their
repast and suspecting no harm, are painlessly put to death, as thou hast
seen.”

One part of the city of the Transparent Folk which attracted Bulger and
me very much was the royal gardens. It was a weird and uncanny place,
and upon my first visit I walked through its paths and beneath its
arbors upon my toes and with bated breath, as you might steal into some
bit of fairy-land, looking anxiously from side to side as if at every
step you expected some sprite or goblin to trip you up with a tough
spider-web, or brush your cheeks with their cold and satiny wings.

Now, dear friends, you must first be told that with the loss of sunshine
and the open air, the flowers and shrubs and vines of this underground
world gradually parted with their perfumes and colors, their leaves and
petals and stems and tendrils growing paler and paler in hue, like
lovelorn maids whose sweethearts had never come back from the war. Month
by month the dark greens, the blush pinks, the golden yellows, and the
deep blues pined away, longing for the lost sunshine and the wooing
breeze they loved so dearly, until at last the transformation was
complete, and there they all stood or hung bleached to utter whiteness,
like those fantastic clumps of flowers and wreaths of vines which the
feathery snow of April builds in the leafless shrubs and trees.

I cannot tell you, dear friends, what a strange feeling came over me as
I stepped within this spectral garden where ghost-like vines clung in
fantastic forms and figures to the dark trellises, and where tall
lilies, whiter than the down of eider, stood bolt upright like spirits
doomed to eternal silence, denied even the speech of perfume, and where
huge clusters of snowy chrysanthemums, fluffy feathery forms, seemed
pressing their soft bodies together like groups of banished celestials
in a sort of silent despair as they felt the warmth and glow of sunlight
slowly and gradually quitting their souls; where lower down, great roses
with snowy petals whiter than the sea-shells hung motionless, bursting
open with eager effort, as if listening for some signal that would
dissolve the spell put upon them, and give them back the sunshine, and
with it their color and their perfume; where lower still beds of violets
bleached white as fleecy clouds seemed wrapt in silent sorrow at loss of
the heavenly perfume which had been theirs on earth; where, above the
lilies’ heads shot long, slender, spectral stalks of sunflowers almost
invisible, loaded at their ends with clusters of snowy flowers thus
suspended like white faces looking down through the silent air, and
waiting, waiting for the sunshine that never came; and higher still all
over and above these spectral flowers, intwining and inwrapping and
falling festoon and garland-wise, crept and ran like unto long lines of
escaping phantoms, ghostly vines with ghostly blossoms, bent and twisted
and wrapped and coiled into a thousand strange and fantastic forms and
figures which the white light with its inky shadows made alive and half
human, so that movement and voice alone were needful to make this garden
seem peopled with sorrowing sprites banished to these subterranean
chambers for strange misdeeds done on earth and condemned to wait ten
thousand years ere sunlight and their color and their perfume should be
given back to them again.

While strolling through the royal gardens one day, Bulger suddenly gave
a low cry and bounded on ahead, as if his eyes had fallen upon the
familiar form of some dear friend.

When I came up with him he was crouching beside the damozel Glow Stone
who, seated on one of the garden benches, was caressing Bulger’s head
and ears with one of her soft hands with its filmy-like skin, while the
other held its black fan pressed tightly against her bosom.

She looked up at me with her crystal eyes, and smiled faintly as I drew
near.

“Thou seest, little baron,” she murmured, “Lord Bulger and I have not
forgotten each other.” Since our presentation at court I had been going
through and through my mind in search of some reason for Bulger’s sudden
affection for damozel Glow Stone, but had found none.

I was the more perplexed as she was but the maid of honor, while the
fair princess Crystallina sat on the very steps of the throne.

But I said nothing save to reply that I was greatly pleased to see it
and to add that where Bulger’s love went, mine was sure to follow.

“Oh, little baron, if I could but believe that!” sighed the fair
damozel.

“Thou mayst,” said I, “indeed thou mayst.”

“Then, if I may, little baron,” she replied, “I will, and prithee come
and sit beside me here, only till I bid thee, look not through me. Dost
promise?”

“I do, fair damozel,” was my answer.

“And thou, Lord Bulger, lie there at my feet,” she continued, “and keep
thy wise eyes fixed upon me and thy keen ears wide open.”

“Little baron, if both thine and our worlds were filled with sorrowing
hearts, mine would be the heaviest of them all. List! oh, list to the
sad, sad tale of the sorrowing maid with the speck in her heart, and,
when thou knowest all, give me of thy wisdom.”

[Illustration: CRYSTALLINA’S HEART ON A SCREEN.]



                              CHAPTER XII

  THE SAD, SAD TALE OF THE SORROWING PRINCESS WITH A SPECK IN HER
    HEART, AND WHAT ALL HAPPENED WHEN SHE HAD ENDED IT, WHICH THE
    READER MUST READ FOR HIMSELF IF HE WOULD KNOW.


“Little baron and dear Lord Bulger,” began the crystal-eyed damozel,
after she had eased her soul of its load of woe by three long and deep,
deep sighs, “know then that I am not the damozel Glow Stone, but none
other than the royal princess Crystallina herself; that she whose hair I
comb should comb mine; that she whom I have served for ten long years
should have served me!”

“And to think, O princess,” I burst out joyfully, “that my beloved
Bulger should have been the first to discover that she who was seated on
the steps of the crystal throne was not entitled to the seat; to think
that his subtle intellect should have been the first to scent out the
wrong that had been done thee; his keen eye the first to go to the
bottom of truth’s well; but, fair princess, I am bursting with
impatience to know how thou thyself didst ever discover the wrong that
has been done thee.”

“That thou shalt speedily know, little baron,” answered Crystallina,
“and that thou mayst know all that I know I’ll begin at the very
beginning: The day I was born there was great rejoicing in the land of
the Mikkamenkies, and the people gathered in front of the royal palace
and laughed and cried by turns, so happy were they to think they were to
be governed by another princess after Queen Galaxa’s heart should run
down; for, many years ago, a bad king had made them very unhappy, and
they had hoped and prayed that no more such would come to reign over
them. And pretty soon one of them began to tell the others what he
thought the little princess would be like.

“‘She will be the fairest that ever sat upon the crystal throne. Her
hands and feet will be like pearls tipped with coral; her hair whiter
than the river’s foam; and from her beautiful eyes will burst the
radiance of her pure soul, and her heart, Oh, her heart will be like a
little lump of frozen water so clear and so transparent will it be, so
like a bit of purest crystal, bright and flawless as a diamond of the
first water, and therefore let her be called the princess Crystallina,
or the Maid with the Crystal Heart.’

“Forthwith the cry went up: ‘Ay, let her be called Crystallina, or the
Maid with the Crystal Heart,’ and Queen Galaxa heard the cry of her
people and sent them word that it should be as they wished—that I should
be the Princess Crystallina.

“But, ah me, that I should have lived to tell it! after a few days the
nurse came to my royal mother wringing her hands and pouring down a
flood of tears.

“Throwing herself on her knees, she whispered to the queen, ‘Royal
mistress, bid me die rather than tell thee what I know.’

“Being ordered to speak, the nurse informed Queen Galaxa that she had
that day for the first time held me up to the light and had discovered
that there was a speck in my heart.

“The queen uttered a cry of horror and swooned. When she came to herself
she directed that I should be brought to her and held up to the light so
that she might see for herself. Alas, too true! there was the speck in
my heart sure enough. I was not worthy of the sweet name which her
loving people had bestowed upon me. They would turn from me with horror;
they would never consent to have me for their queen when the truth
should become known. They would not be moved by a mother’s prayers: they
would turn a deaf ear to every one who should be bold enough to advise
them to accept a princess with a speck in her heart, when they had
thought they were getting one well deserving of the title they had
bestowed upon her.

“Queen Galaxa knew that something must be done at once; that it would be
time and labor lost to attempt to reason with the disappointed people,
so she set to work thinking up some way out of her trouble. Now, it so
happened, little baron, that the very day I had come into the world a
babe had been born to one of Queen Galaxa’s serving women; and so
hastily summoning the woman she ordered her to bring her babe into the
royal bed-chamber and leave it there, promising that it should be
brought up as my foster-sister. But no sooner had the serving woman gone
her way rejoicing than the nurse was ordered to change the children in
the cradle, and in a few moments Glow Stone was wrapt in my richly
embroidered blanket and I swathed up in her plain coverlets.

“How things went for several years I know not, but one day, ah, how well
I recollect it! my little mind was puzzled by hearing Crystallina cry
out: ‘Nay, nay, dear mamma, ’tis not fair; I like it not. Each day when
thou comest to us thou givest Glow Stone ten kisses and me but a single
one.’ Then would Queen Galaxa smile a sad smile and bestow some bauble
upon Crystallina to coax her back to contentment again.

“And so we went on, Crystallina and I, from one year to another until we
were little maids well grown, and she sat on the throne and wore royal
purple stitched with gold, and I plain white; but still most of the
kisses fell to my share. And I marvelled not a little at it, but dared
not ask why it was. However, once when I was alone with Queen Galaxa,
seated on my cushion in the corner plying my needle and thinking of the
sail we were to have on the river that day, suddenly I was startled to
see the queen throw herself on her knees in front of me, and to feel her
clasp me in her arms and cover my face and head with tears and kisses,
as she sobbed and moaned,—

“‘O my babe, my lost babe, my blessing and my joy, wilt never, never,
never come back to me? Art gone forever? Must I give thee up, oh, must
I?’”

“‘Nay, Royal Lady,’ I stammered in my more than wonder at her words and
actions. ‘Thou art in a dream. Awake, and see clearly; I am not
Crystallina. I am Glow Stone, thy foster-child. I’ll hie me straight and
bring my royal sister to thee.’

“But she would not let me loose, and for all answer showered more kisses
on me till I was well-nigh smothered, so tight she held me pressed
against her bosom, while around and over me her long thick tresses fell
like a woven mantle.

“And then she told me all—all that I have told thee, little baron, and
charged me never to impart it unto any soul in Goggle Land; and I made a
solemn promise unto her that I never would.”

“And thou hast kept thy word like a true princess as thou art,” said I
cheerily, “for I am not of thy world, fair Crystallina.”

“Now that I have told thee the sad tale of the sorrowing princess with
the speck in her heart, little baron,” murmured Crystallina, fixing her
large and radiant eyes upon me, “there is but one thing more for me to
do, and it is to let thee look through me, so that thou mayst know
exactly what counsel to give.” And so saying the fair princess rose from
her seat, and having placed herself in front of me with a flood of white
light falling full upon her back, she lowered her black fan and bade me
gaze upon the heavy heart which she had carried about with her all these
years, and tell her exactly how large the speck was and where it lay,
and what color it was.

I was overjoyed to get an opportunity at last to look through one of the
Mikkamenkies, and my own heart bounded with satisfaction as I looked and
looked upon that mysterious little thing, nay, rather a tiny being,
living, breathing, palpitating within her breast; now slow and measured
as she dwelt in thought upon her sad fate, now beating faster and faster
as the hope bubbled up in her mind that possibly I might be able to
counsel her so wisely that an end would come to all her sorrow.

“Well, wise little baron,” she murmured anxiously, “what seest thou? Is
it very large? In what part is it? Is it black as night or some color
less fatal?”

“Take courage, fair princess,” said I, “it is very small and lies just
beneath the bow on the left side. Nor is it black, but reddish rather,
as if a single drop of blood from the veins of thy far distant ancestors
had outlived them these thousands of years and hardened there to tell
whence thy people came.” The princess wept tears of joy upon hearing
these comforting words.

“If it had been black,” she whispered “I would have lain me down in this
bed of violets and never risen more till my people had come to bear me
to my grave in the silent burial chamber—unvisited by the River of
Light.”

At this sad outbreak Bulger whined piteously and licked the princess’s
hands as he looked up at her with his dark eyes radiant with sympathy.

She was greatly cheered by this message of comfort, and it moved me,
too, by its heartiness.

“List, fair princess,” said I gravely. “I own the task is not a light
one, but hope for the best. I would that we had more time, but as thou
knowest Queen Galaxa’s heart will soon run down, therefore must we act
with despatch as well as wisdom. But first of all must I speak with the
queen and gain her consent to act for thee in this matter.”

“That, I fear me, she will never grant,” moaned Crystallina. “However,
thou art so much wiser than I—do as best seems to thee.”

“The next thing to be done, fair princess,” I added solemnly, “is to
show thy heart boldly and fearlessly to thy people.”

“Nay, little baron,” she exclaimed, rising to her feet, “that may not
be, that may not be, for know that our law doth make it treason itself
for one of our people to look through a person of royal blood. Oh, no,
oh, no, little baron, that may never be!”

“Stay, sweet princess,” I urged in gentlest tones, “not so fast. Thou
dost not know what I mean by showing thy heart boldly to thy people.
Never fear. I will not break the law of the land, and yet they shall
look upon the speck within thy heart, and see how small it is and hear
what I have to say about it, and thou shalt not even be visible to
them.”

“O little baron,” murmured Crystallina, “if this may only be! I feel
they will forgive me. Thou art so wise and thy words carry such strong
hope to my poor, heavy heart that I almost”—

“Nay, fair princess,” I interrupted, “hope for the best, no more. I am
not wise enough to read the future, and from what I know of thy people
they seem but little different from mine own. Perchance I may be able to
sway them toward my views, and make them cry, ‘Long live princess
Crystallina!’ but I can only promise thee to do my best. Betake thee now
to the palace, and scorn not for yet a day or so to take up the golden
comb and play the damozel Glow Stone in all humility.”



                              CHAPTER XIII

  HOW I SET TO WORK TO UNDO A WRONG THAT HAD BEEN DONE IN THE KINGDOM
    OF THE MIKKAMENKIES, AND HOW BULGER HELPED.—QUEEN GALAXA’S
    CONFESSION.—I AM CREATED PRIME MINISTER AS LONG AS SHE LIVES.—WHAT
    TOOK PLACE IN THE THRONE ROOM.—MY SPEECH TO THE MEN OF GOGGLE LAND
    AFTER WHICH I SHOW THEM SOMETHING WORTH SEEING.—HOW I WAS PULLED
    IN TWO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS AND WHAT CAME OF IT.


The first thing I did after the genuine princess Crystallina had left me
was to seek out Doctor Nebulosus and learn from him the exact number of
hours before the queen’s heart would run down.

As he had just been making an examination, he was able to tell the very
minute: it was seventeen hours and thirteen minutes, rather a short time
you must confess, dear friends, in which to accomplish such an important
piece of business as I had in mind. I then made my way directly to the
royal palace and demanded a private audience with the Lady of the
Crystal Throne.

With the advice of Sir Amber O’Pake and Lord Cornucore she firmly but
graciously refused to receive me, giving as an excuse that the
excitement that would be sure to follow an interview with the “Man of
Coal”—so the Mikkamenkies had named me—would shorten her life at least
thirteen minutes.

But I was not to be put off in so unceremonious a manner. Sitting down,
I seized a pen and wrote the following words upon a piece of glazed
silk:—

“_To Galaxa, Queen of the Mikkamenkies, Lady of the Crystal Throne._

“I, Lord Bulger, a Mikkamenkian Noble, Bearer of this, who was the first
to discover that the real princess was not sitting on the steps of the
Crystal Throne, demand an audience for my Master Baron Sebastian von
Troomp, commonly known as ‘Little Baron Trump,’ and prompted by him I
ask, What are thirteen minutes of thy life, O Queen Galaxa, to the long
years of sorrow and disappointment in store for thy royal child?”

Taking this letter in his mouth, Bulger sprang away with long and rapid
bounds. In a few minutes he was in the presence of the queen, for the
guards had fallen back affrighted as they saw him draw near with his
dark eyes flashing indignation. Raising himself upon his hind feet, he
laid the letter in Galaxa’s hands. The moment she had read it she fell
into a swoon, and all was stir and commotion in and round about the
palace. I was hastily summoned and the audience chamber cleared of every
attendant save Doctor Nebulosus, Sir Amber O’Pake, Lord Cornucore, Lord
Bulger, and me.

“Send for the damozel Glow Stone,” commanded the queen, and when she had
appeared, to the amazement of all saving Bulger and me, Galaxa bade her
mount the steps of the Crystal Throne, then, having embraced her most
tenderly, the queen spoke these words:—

“O faithful Councillors and wise friends from the upper world, this is
the real princess Crystallina, whom I have for all these years wickedly
and wrongfully kept from her high state and royal privileges. She was
born with a speck in her heart, and I feared that it would be useless to
ask my people to accept her as my successor.”

“Ay, Lady of the Crystal Throne,” exclaimed Lord Cornucore, “thou hast
wisely done. Thy people would never have received her as Princess
Crystallina, for, being by the laws of our land denied the privilege to
look for themselves, they never would have believed that this spot in
the princess’s heart was but a tiny speck like a single hair crystal in
the arm of thy magnificent throne. Therefore, O queen, we counsel thee
not to imbitter thy last hours by differences with thy loving subjects.”

“My Lord Cornucore,” said I with a low bow, “I make bold to raise my
voice against thine, and I crave permission from Queen Galaxa to parley
with her people.”

“Forbid it, royal lady!” cried Sir Amber O’Pake savagely, at which
Bulger gave a low growl and showed his teeth.

“Queen Galaxa,” I added gravely, “a wrong confessed is half redressed.
This fair princess, ’tis true, hath a speck in her heart which ill
accords with the name bestowed upon her by thy people. Bid me be master
until thy heart runs down, and by the Knighthood of all the Trumps I
promise thee that thou shalt have three hours of happiness ere thy royal
heart has ceased to beat!”

“Be it so, little baron,” exclaimed Galaxa joyfully. “I proclaim thee
prime minister for the rest of my life.” At these words Bulger broke out
into a series of glad barks, and, raising upon his hind legs, licked the
queen’s hand in token of his gratitude, while the fair princess looked a
love at me that was too deep to put into words.

“I had now but a few hours to act. The excitement, so Doctor Nebulosus
assured me, would shorten the queen’s life a full hour.”

It had always been my custom to carry about with me a small but
excellent magnifying-glass, a double convex lens, for the purpose of
making examinations of minute objects, and also for reading inscriptions
too fine to be seen with the naked eye. Hastily summoning a skilful
metal worker, I instructed him to set the lens in a short tube and to
enclose that tube within another, so that I could lengthen it at my
pleasure. Then having called together as many of the head men of the
nation as the throne room would hold, I requested Lord Cornucore to
inform them of the confession which Queen Galaxa had made; namely, that
in reality damozel Glow Stone was princess Crystallina and princess
Crystallina was damozel Glow Stone.

They were stricken speechless by this piece of information, but when
Lord Cornucore went on to tell the whole story and to explain to them
why the queen had practised this deception upon them, they broke out
into the wildest lamentation, repeating over and over again in piteous
tones,—

“A speck in her heart! A speck in her heart! O dire misfortune! O woful
day! She never can be our princess if she hath a speck in her heart!” By
this time my arrangements were complete. I had placed the princess
Crystallina just outside the door of the throne room where she stood
concealed behind the thick hangings, and near her I had stationed Doctor
Nebulosus with a large circular mirror of burnished silver in his hand.
Calling out in a loud voice for silence, I thus addressed the weeping
subjects of Queen Galaxa:—

“O Mikkamenkies, Men of Goggle Land, Transparent Folk, I count myself
most happy to be among you at this hour and to be permitted, by your
gracious queen, to raise my voice in defence of the unfortunate princess
with the speck in her heart. Being of noble birth and an inhabitant of
another world, it was lawful for me to look through the sorrowing
princess, and I have done it. Yes, Mikkamenkies, I have gazed upon her
heart; I have seen the speck within it! Give ear, Men of Goggle Land,
and you shall know how that speck came there; for it is not, as you
doubtless think, a coal-black spot within that fair enclosure, clearer
than the columns of Galaxa’s throne. Oh, no, Mikkamenkies, a thousand
times no: it is a tiny blemish of reddish hue, a drop of princely blood
from the upper world, which I inhabit, and this drop in all these
countless centuries has coursed through the veins of a thousand kings,
and still kept its roseate glow, still remembered the glorious sunshine
which called it into being; and now, Men of Goggle Land, lest you think
that for some dark purpose of mine own I speak other than the pure and
sober truth, behold, I show you the fair Crystallina’s heart, in its
very life and being as it is, beating and throbbing with hope and fear
comingled. Look and judge for yourselves!” And with this I signalled to
those on the outside of the palace to carry out my instructions.

[Illustration: BULGER PARTS HIS MASTER FROM PRINCESS CRYSTALLINA.]

In an instant the thick curtains were drawn and the throne room was
wrapped in darkness, and at the same moment Doctor Nebulosus, with his
mirror, caught the strong, white rays of light and threw them upon
Crystallina’s body, while I through an opening in the hangings made
haste to apply the tube to which the lens had been fitted, and, catching
the reflected image of her heart, threw it up in plain and startling
view upon the opposite wall of the throne room. Upon seeing how small
the speck was and how truthfully I had described it, the Mikkamenkies
fell a-weeping for purest joy, and then, as if with one voice, they
burst out,—

“Long live the fair princess Crystallina with the ruby speck in her
heart! and ten thousand blessings on the head of little Baron Trump and
Lord Bulger for saving our land from cruel dissensions!” The people on
the outside took up the cry, and in a few moments the whole city was
thronged with bands of Queen Galaxa’s subjects, singing and dancing and
telling of their love for the fair princess with the ruby speck in her
heart. I had kept my word—Queen Galaxa would have at least three hours
of complete happiness ere her heart ran down.

But suddenly the River of Light began to flicker and dim its flood of
brilliant white rays.

Night was coming. Noiselessly, as if by magic, the Mikkamenkies faded
from my sight, stealing away in search of beds, and as the gloom crept
into the great throne room, some one plucked me gently by the hand and a
soft voice whispered,—

“I love! I love thee! Oh, who other than I can tell how I love thee!”
and then a grip stronger than that gentle hand seized me by the skirt of
my coat and dragged me away slowly, but surely, away, through the
darkness, through the gloom, out into the silent streets, ever away
until at last that soft voice, choking with a sob, ceased its pleading
and gasped, “Farewell, oh, farewell! I dare go no farther!” And so
Bulger, in his wisdom, led me on and ever on out of the City of the
Mikkamenkies, out upon the Marble Highway!



                              CHAPTER XIV

  BULGER AND I TURN OUR BACKS ON THE FAIR DOMAIN OF QUEEN
    CRYSTALLINA.—NATURE’S WONDERFUL SPEAKING-TUBE.—CRYSTALLINA’S
    ATTEMPT TO TURN US BACK.—HOW I KEPT BULGER FROM YIELDING.—SOME
    INCIDENTS OF OUR JOURNEY ALONG THE MARBLE HIGHWAY, AND HOW WE CAME
    TO THE GLORIOUS GATEWAY OF SOLID SILVER.


Me, the sorrowing Sebastian, loaded with as heavy a heart as ever a
mortal of my size had borne away with him, did the wise Bulger lead
along the broad and silent highway, farther and yet farther from the
city of the Mikkamenkies, until at last the music of the fountains
pattering in their crystal basins died away in the distance and the
darkness far behind me. I felt that my wise little brother was right,
and so I followed on after, with not a sigh or a syllable to stay him.

But he halted at last, and, as I felt about me, I discovered that I was
standing beside one of the richly carved seats that one so often meets
with along the Marble Highway. I was quite as foot-weary as I was
heart-heavy, and reaching out I touched the spring which I knew would
transform the seat into a bed, and clambering upon it with my wise
Bulger nestled beside me, I soon fell into a deep and refreshing sleep.

When I awoke and, sitting up, looked back toward Queen Crystallina’s
capital, I could see the River of Light pouring down its flood of white
rays far away in the distance; but only a faint reflection came out to
where we had passed the night, and then I knew that my faithful
companion had led me to the very uttermost limit of the Mikkamenky
domain before he had halted. Yes, sure enough, for, as I raised my eyes,
there towering above the bed stood the slender crystal column which
marked the end of Goggle Land, and upon its face I read the extract from
a royal decree forbidding a Mikkamenky to overstep this limit under pain
of incurring the queen’s most serious displeasure.

Before me was darkness and uncertainty; behind me lay the fair Kingdom
of the Transparent Folk yet in sight, lighted up like a long line of
happy homes in which the fires were blazing bright and warm on the
hearthstones.

Did I turn back? Did I hesitate? No. I could see a pair of speaking eyes
fixed upon me, and could hear a low whine of impatience coaxing me
along.

Stooping down, I fastened a bit of silken cord taken from the bed to
Bulger’s collar and bade him lead the way.

It was a long while before the light of Queen Crystallina’s city faded
away entirely, and even when it ceased to be of any service in making
known to me the grandeur and beauty of the vast underground passage, I
could still see it glitter like a silver star away, away behind me.

But it disappeared at last, and then I felt that I had parted forever
with the dear little princess with the speck in her heart.

Bulger didn’t seem to have the slightest difficulty in keeping in the
centre of the Marble Highway, and never allowed the leading string to
slack up for a moment. However, it was by no means a tramp through utter
darkness, for the lizards of which I have already spoken, aroused by the
sound of my footfalls, snapped their tails and lighted up their tiny
flash torches in eager attempts to discover whence the noise proceeded,
and what sort of a being it was that had invaded their silent domains.
We had covered possibly two leagues when suddenly a low and mysterious
voice, as soft and gentle as if it had dropped from the clear, starry
heavens of my own beautiful world, reached my ear.

“Sebastian! Sebastian!” it murmured. Before I could stop to think, I
uttered a cry of wonder, and the noise of my voice seemed to awaken ten
thousand of the tiny living flash lights inhabiting the cracks and
crevices of the vast arched corridor, flooding it for a moment or so
with a soft and roseate radiance.

“Sebastian! Sebastian!” again murmured the mellow and echo-like voice,
coming from the very walls of rock beside me.

Hastily drawing near to the spot whence the words seemed to come, I laid
my ear against the smooth face of the rock. Again the same soft-sighing
voice pronounced my name so clearly and so close beside me that I
reached out to grasp Crystallina’s hand, for hers was the voice,—the
same low, sweet voice that had told me of her sorrow in the Spectral
Garden; but there was no one there. In reaching out, however, I had
passed my left hand along the face of the wall, and it had marked the
presence of a round smooth opening in its rocky face, an opening about
the size of a rain-water pipe in the upper world.

Instantly it flashed upon my mind that through some whim of nature this
opening extended for leagues back towards the city of the Mikkamenkies
through the miles of solid rock, and opened in the very Throne Room of
the Princess Crystallina.

Yes, I was right, for after a moment or so again the same low, sweet
voice came through the speaking-tube of nature’s own making and fell
upon my eager ear.

I waited until it had ceased, and setting my mouth in front of the
opening I murmured in strong but gentle tones,—

“Farewell, dear Princess Crystallina. Bulger and the little baron both
bid thee a long farewell!” and then raising Bulger in my arms, I bade
him weep for his royal friend whom he would never see again.

He gave a long, low, piteous cry, half-whine, half-howl, and then I
listened for Crystallina’s voice. It was not long in coming.

“Farewell, dear Bulger; farewell, dear Sebastian! Crystallina will never
forget you until her poor heart with the speck in it runs down and the
Crystal Throne knows her no more.” Poor Bulger! It now became my turn to
tear him from this spot, for Crystallina’s voice, sounding thus
unexpectedly in his ears, had aroused all the deep affection which he
had so ruthlessly smothered in order to bring his little master to his
senses and free him from the charm of Crystallina’s grace and beauty.
But in vain. All my strength, all my entreaties, were powerless to move
him from the place.

Evidently Crystallina had heard me pleading with Bulger and had imagined
that now I would waver and stand irresolute.

“Heed dear Bulger’s prayer, O beloved,” she pleaded, “and turn back,
turn back to thy disconsolate Crystallina, whom thou madest so happy for
a brief moment! Turn back! Oh, turn back!” Bulger now began to whine and
cry most piteously. I felt that something must be done at once, or the
most direful consequences might ensue—that Bulger, crazed by the sweet
tones of Crystallina’s voice, might break away from me and dart away in
mad race back to the city of the Mikkamenkies, back to the fair young
queen of the Crystal Throne.

It became necessary for me to resort to trick and artifice to save my
dear little brother from his own loving heart. Drawing his head up
against my body and covering his eyes with my left arm, I quickly
unloosened my neckerchief, and thrusting it into this wonderful
speaking-tube closed it effectively.

And thus I saved my faithful Bulger from himself, thus I closed his ears
to the music of Crystallina’s voice; but it was not until after a good
hour’s waiting that he could bring himself to believe that his beloved
friend would speak no more.

After several hours more of journeying along the Marble Highway a speck
of light caught my eye, far on ahead, and I redoubled my pace to reach
it quickly. I was soon rewarded for my trouble by entering a wonderful
chamber, circular in form, with a domed roof. In the centre of this fair
temple of the underground world sprang a glorious fountain with a mighty
rush of waters which brought with them such a phosphorescence that this
vast round chamber was lighted up with a pale yellow light in which the
countless crystals of the roof and sides sparkled magnificently.

Here we passed the night, or what I called the night, refreshing
ourselves with food which I had brought from the Kingdom of the
Mikkamenkies, and drinking and bathing in the wonderful fountain which
leaped into the air with a rush and a whir, and filled it with a strange
and fitful radiance. Upon awaking both Bulger and I felt greatly
refreshed both in body and mind, and we made haste to seek out the lofty
portal opening upon the Marble Highway, and were soon trudging along it
again. Hour after hour we kept on our feet, for something told me that
we could not be far away from the confines of some other domain of this
World within a World; and this inward prompting of mine proved to be
correct, for Bulger suddenly gave a joyful bark and began to caper about
as much as to say,—

“O little master, if thou only hadst my keen scent, thou wouldst know
that we are drawing near to human habitations of some kind!”

Sure enough, in a few moments a faint light came creeping in beneath the
mighty arches of the broad corridor, and every instant it gathered in
strength until now I could see clearly about me, and then all of a
sudden I caught sight of the source of this shy and unsteady light.
There in front of me towered two gigantic candelabra of carved and
chased and polished silver, both crowned with a hundred lights, one on
each side of the Marble Highway—not the dull, soft flames of oil or wax,
but the white tongues of fire produced by ignited gas escaping from the
chemist’s retort.

It was marvellous, it was magnificent, and I stood looking up at these
great clusters of tongues of flames, spellbound by the glorious
illumination thus set in silent majesty at this gateway to some city of
the under World.

Bulger’s warning growl brought me to myself, but I must end this chapter
here, dear friends, and halt to collect my thoughts before I proceed to
tell you what I saw after passing this glorious gateway illumined by
these two gigantic candelabra of solid silver.



                               CHAPTER XV

  THE GUARDS AT THE SILVER GATEWAY.—WHAT THEY WERE LIKE.—OUR RECEPTION
    BY THEM.—I MAKE A WONDERFUL DISCOVERY.—THE WORLD’S FIRST
    TELEPHONE.—BULGER AND I SUCCEED IN MAKING FRIENDS WITH THESE
    STRANGERS.—A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SOODOPSIES, THAT IS, MAKE
    BELIEVE EYES, OR THE FORMIFOLK, THAT IS, ANT PEOPLE.—HOW A BLIND
    MAN MAY READ YOUR WRITING.


O great Don Fum, Master of all Masters, what do I not owe thee for
having made known unto me the existence of this wonderful World within a
World! Would that I had been a worker in metal! I would not have passed
the glorious portal at which I had halted without having set in deep
intaglio upon its silver columns the full name of the most glorious
scholar whom the world has ever known. Bulger had warned me that this
gateway was guarded, and therefore I entered it cautiously, taking care
to peer into the dark corners lest I might be a target for some
invisible enemy to hurl a weapon at.

No sooner had I passed the gateway than three curious little beings of
about my own height threw themselves swiftly and silently across the
pathway. They wore short jackets, knee-breeches, and leggings reaching
to their ankles, but no hats or shoes, and their clothes were profusely
decorated with beautiful silver buttons.

Their hands and feet and heads seemed much too large for their little
bodies and pipe-stemmy legs, and gave them an uncanny and brownie look,
which was greatly increased by the staring and glassy expression of
their large, round eyes. When I first caught sight of them they had hold
of hands, but now they stood each with his pair stretched out toward
Bulger and me, waving them strangely in the air and agitating their long
fingers as if they were endeavoring to set a spell upon us.

I imagined that I could feel a sensation of drowsiness creeping over me
and made haste to call out:—

“Nay, good people, do not strive to set a spell upon me. I am the
illustrious explorer from the upper world,—Sebastian von Troomp,—and
come to you with most peaceful intent.”

But they paid no heed to my words, merely advancing a few inches and
with outstretched hands continued to beat and claw the air, pausing only
to signal to each other by touching each other’s hands or different
parts of each other’s bodies. I was deeply perplexed by their actions,
and took a step or two forward when instantly they fell back the same
distance.

“All men are brothers,” I exclaimed in a loud tone, “and carry the same
shaped hearts in their breasts. Why do you fear me? You are thrice my
number and in your own home. I pray you stand fast and speak to me!”

As I was pronouncing these words, they kept jerking their heads back as
if the sound of my voice were smiting them in the face. It was very
strange. Suddenly one of them drew from his pocket a ball of silken
cord, and, deftly unrolling it, tossed one end toward me. It flew
directly towards me, for its end was weighed with a thin disk of
polished silver, as was the end retained in the hand of the thrower. His
next move was to open his jacket and apparently press his disk against
his bare body right over his heart. I made haste to do the same with
mine, holding it firmly in place. This done, he retreated a step or two
until the silken cord had been drawn quite taut. Then he paused and
stood for several instants without moving a muscle, after which he
passed the disk to one of his companions, who, having pressed it against
his heart in turn, passed it to the third of the group.

With the quickness of thought the truth now burst upon me: The three
brownie-like creatures in front of me were not only blind, but they were
deaf and dumb. The one sense upon which they relied, and which in them
was of most marvellous keenness, was the sense of feeling. The strange
motions of their hands and fingers, so much like the beating and waving
of an insect’s feelers, were simply to intercept and measure the
vibrations of the air set in motion by the movements of my body. Their
large round eyes, too, had but the sense of feeling, but so wondrously
acute was it that it was almost like the power of sight, enabling them
by the vibration of the air upon the balls to tell exactly how near a
moving object is to them. Their purpose in throwing the silken cord and
silver disk to me was by measuring the beating of my heart and comparing
it with their own to determine whether I was human like them.

Judge of my astonishment, dear friends, upon seeing one of their number
point to the silver disk and, by means of sign-language, give me to
understand that they wanted to feel the heart of the living creature in
my company.

Stooping down, I hastened to gratify their curiosity by applying it over
my dear Bulger’s heart.

At once there was an expression of most comical amazement depicted on
their faces as they passed the disk from one to the other and pressed it
against different parts of their bodies—now against their breasts, now
against their cheeks, and even against their closed eyelids. Of course I
knew that their amazement proceeded from the rapid beating of Bulger’s
heart, and I enjoyed their child-like surprise very much. All expression
of fear now vanished from their faces, and I was delighted with the look
of sweet temper and good humor that played about their features, now
wreathed in smiles.

Slowly and on tip-toe they drew near to Bulger and me and for several
minutes amused themselves mightily by running their long, flexible
fingers hither and thither over our bodies.

It did not take them long to discover that I was to all intents and
purpose a creature of their own kind, but not so with Bulger. Their
round faces became seamed and lined with wonder as they made themselves
acquainted with his, to them, strange build, and ever and anon as they
felt him over would they pause and in lightning-like motions of their
fingers on each other’s hands and arms and faces exchange thoughts as to
the wonderful being which had entered the portal of their city.

No doubt you are dying of impatience, dear friends, to be told something
more definite concerning these strange people among whom I had fallen.
Well, know, then, that their existence had been darkly hinted at in the
manuscript of the Great Master, Don Fum. I say darkly hinted at, for you
must bear in mind that Don Fum never visited this World within a World;
that his wonderful wisdom enabled him to reason it all out without
seeing it, just as the great naturalists of our day, upon finding a
single tooth belonging to some gigantic creature which lived thousands
of years ago, are able to draw complete pictures of him.

Well, these curious beings whose city Bulger and I had entered are
called by two different names in Don Fum’s wonderful book. In some
places he speaks of them as the Soodopsies, or Make-believe Eyes, and in
others as the Formifolk or Ant People. Either name was most appropriate,
their large, round, clear eyes being really make-believe ones, for, as I
have told you, they had absolutely no sense of sight; while on the other
hand, the fact that they were deaf, dumb, and blind, and lived in
underground homes, made them well entitled to the name of Ant People. In
a few moments the three Soodopsies had succeeded in teaching me the main
principles of their pressure-language, so that I was, to their great
delight, enabled to answer a number of their questions.

[Illustration: THE FORMIFOLK TRY THE BEAT OF THE BARON’S HEART BY
TELEPHONE.]

But think not, dear friends, that these very wise and active little
folk, skilled in so many arts, have no other language than one
consisting of pressures of different degree, made by their finger-tips
upon each other’s bodies. They had a most beautiful language, so rich
that they were able to express the most difficult thoughts, to give
utterance to the most varied emotions; in short, a language quite the
equal of ours in all respects save one—it contained absolutely no word
that could give them the faintest notion what color was. This is not to
be wondered at, for they themselves neither had nor could have even the
faintest conception of what I meant by color, so that when I attempted
to make them understand that our stars were bright points in the sky,
they asked me if they would prick my finger if I should press upon one
of them. But you doubtless are anxious to know how the Formifolk can
possibly make use of any other language than that of pressures. Well, I
will tell you. Every Soodopsy carried at his girdle a little blank-book,
if I may so term it, the covers being of thin silver plates variously
carved and chased as the owner’s taste may prompt. The leaves of this
book also consist of thin sheets of silver not much thicker than our
tin-foil; also fastened to his girdle by a silken cord hangs a silver
pen or, rather, a stylus. Now, when a Soodopsy wishes to say something
to one of his people, something too difficult to express by pressures of
the finger-tips, he simply turns over a leaf of the silver against the
inside of either cover, both of which are slightly padded, and taking up
his stylus proceeds to write out what he wishes to say; and this done he
deftly tears the leaf out and hands it to his companion, who taking it
and turning it over, runs the wonderfully sensitive tips of his fingers
over the raised writing and reads it with the greatest ease; only of
course he reads from right to left instead of from left to light, as it
was written. So, hereafter, when I repeat my conversations with the
Formifolk, you will understand how they were conducted.



                              CHAPTER XVI

  IDEAS OF THE FORMIFOLK CONCERNING OUR UPPER WORLD.—THE DANCING
    SPECTRE.—THEIR EFFORTS TO LAY HOLD OF HIM.—MY SOLEMN PROMISE THAT
    HE SHOULD BEHAVE HIMSELF.—WE SET OUT FOR THE CITY OF THE
    MAKE-BELIEVE EYES.—MY AMAZEMENT AT THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THE
    APPROACHES TO IT.—WE REACH THE GREAT BRIDGE OF SILVER, AND I GET
    MY FIRST GLANCE OF THE CITY OF CANDELABRA.—BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE
    WONDERS SPREAD OUT BEFORE MY EYES.—EXCITEMENT OCCASIONED BY OUR
    ARRIVAL.—OUR SILVER BED-CHAMBER.


Although thousands and thousands of years had gone by since the
Formifolk had, by constant exposure to the flicker and glare of the
burning gas which their ancestors had discovered and made use of to
illumine their underground world, gradually lost their sense of sight,
and then in consequence of the deep and awful silence that forever
reigned about them had also lost their sense of hearing and naturally
thereafter their power of speech, yet, marvellous to relate, they still
kept within their minds dim and shadowy traditions of the upper world,
and the “mighty lamp,” as they called the sun, which burned for twelve
hours and then went out, leaving the world in darkness until the spirits
of the air could trim it again. And, strange to say, many of the unreal
things of the upper world had been by the workings of their minds
transformed into realities, while the realities had become the merest
cobwebs of the brain. For instance, the shadows cast by our bodies in
the sunlight and forever following at our heels they had come to think
were actual creatures, our doubles, so to speak, and that on account of
these “dancing spectres,” as they called them, which dogged our
footsteps for our life long, sitting like mar-joys at our feasts, it was
utterly impossible for the people of the upper world to be entirely
happy as they were, and it occurred to them at once that I must have
such a double following at my heels, so several times they suddenly
joined hands, and, forming a circle about me, gradually closed up with
intent to lay hold of the dancing spectre. This they did, too, after I
had assured them that what they had in mind was the mere shadow cast by
a person walking in the light. But as they had absolutely no idea of the
nature of light, I only had my trouble for my pains.

Nor did they give over making every now and then the most frantic and
laughable efforts to catch the little dancing gentleman who, as they
were bound to think, was quietly trudging along at my heels, but who, so
they informed me, was far quicker in his motions than any escaping water
or falling object. Finally, they held one of their silent but very
excited powwows, during which the thousand lightning-like pressures and
tappings which they made upon each other’s bodies gave the spectator the
idea that they were three deaf and dumb schoolboys engaged in a
scrimmage over a bag of marbles, and then they informed me that they had
resolved to permit Bulger and me to enter their city provided I would
give them the word of a nobleman that I would restrain my nimble-footed
double from doing them any harm.

I made them a most solemn promise that he should behave himself.
Whereupon they greeted both Bulger and me as brothers, stroking our
hair, patting our heads, and kissing me on the cheeks, and, what was
more, they told us their names, which were Long Thumbs, Square Nose, and
Shaggy Brows.

All this time I had been every now and then casting anxious glances on
ahead of me, for I was dying of impatience to enter the marvellous city
of the Ant People.

I say marvellous, dear friends, for though many had been the wonderful
things I had seen in my lifetime in the far-away corners of the upper
world, yet here was a sight which, as it gradually unfolded itself
before my eyes, shackled my very heart and caused me to gasp for breath.
It was with no little surprise at the very outset that I discovered that
the walls and floor of the beautiful passage through which the
Soodopsies were leading Bulger and me were of pure silver, the former
being composed of polished panels ornamented with finely executed
chasings and carvings, and the latter, as had in fact all the floors and
streets and passages of the city having upon their polished surfaces
slightly raised characters which I will explain later. But as one
passage opened into another, and then four or more all centred in a vast
circular chamber which we traversed with our three silent guides only to
enter chambers and corridors of greater size and beauty, all brilliantly
lighted by rows of the same glorious candelabra upholding clusters of
tongues of flame—I could compare the scene to nothing save a series of
magnificent ball-rooms and banquet-halls, out of which the happy guests
had been suddenly driven by the deep and awful rumble of an earthquake
shock, the lights having been left burning.

Now the scene began to change. Long Thumbs, who was leading the way, and
in whose large palm my little hand lay completely lost, suddenly turned
to the right and led me up an arched way. I saw that we were crossing a
bridge over a stream as black and sluggish as Lethe itself.

But such a bridge! Never had my eye rested upon so light and airy a
span, springing from bank to bank; not the plain and solid work of the
stone-mason, but the fair and cunning result of the metal worker’s
skill, like the labor of love, delicate, yet strong, and almost too
beautiful for use.

Two rows of silver lamps of exquisite workmanship crowned its gracefully
arching sides, and when we stood upon its highest bend, Long Thumbs
halted and wrote upon his tablet: “Now, little baron, we are about to
enter the dwelling-place of our people. Thy head is large, and there is,
no doubt, much of wisdom stored away in thy brain. Make such use of it
as not to disturb the perfect happiness of our nation, for no doubt many
of our people will be suspicious of thee, and for the first time in
thousands of years a Soodopsy will lay him down to sleep, and in his
dreams feel the touch of the dancing spectre of the upper world.” I
promised Long Thumbs that he should have no reason to be dissatisfied
with me, and then making an excuse that I was a-weary, I feasted my eyes
for several moments upon the glorious scene spread out before me.

It was the city of the Formifolk in all its splendor—a splendor, alas,
unseen by, unknown to, the very people dwelling in it, for to them its
silver walls and arches, its endless rows of glorious candelabra
uplifting their countless clusters of never-dying jets of flame, its
exquisitely carved and chiselled portals and gateways, its graceful
chairs and settees and beds and couches and tables and lamps and basins
and ewers and thousands of articles of furniture all in purest silver,
hammered or wrought by the cunning hands of their ancestors while they
still were possessed of the power of sight, could only be known to
these, their descendants, by the sole sense of feeling.

From the lofty ceilings of corridors and archways, from the jutting
ornaments of the house-fronts, from cornice and coping, from the four
sides of columns, and from the corners of cupolas and minarets, here and
there and everywhere hung silver lamps of more than Oriental beauty of
form and finish, all with their never-dying tongues of flame sending
forth a soft though unsteady light to fall upon sightless eyes!

But yet these countless flames, by the aid of which I was enabled to
gaze upon the splendor of this city of silver palaces, were life if not
light to the Soodopsies, for they warmed these vast subterranean depths
and filled them with a deliciously soft and strangely balmy air.

And yet to think that Bulger and I were the only two living creatures to
be able to look upon this scene of almost celestial beauty and radiance!

It made me sad, and plunged me into such a fit of deep abstraction that
it required a second gentle tug of Long Thumbs’ hand to bring me to
myself.

As we crossed the bridge and entered the city proper, I was delighted to
note that the streets and open squares were ornamented with hundred of
statues all in solid silver, and that they represented specimens of a
race of great beauty of person; and then it occurred to me how fortunate
it was that the Soodopsies could not gaze upon these images of their
ancestors and thus become living witnesses of their own woful
falling-away from the former physical grace of their race.

Now, like human ants that they were, the Formifolk began to swarm forth
from their dwellings on every side of the city, and my keen ear caught
the low shuffling sound of their bare feet over the silver streets as
they closed in about us, their arms flashing in the light and their
faces lined with strange emotions as they learned of the arrival among
them of two creatures from the upper world. They were all clad, men and
women alike, in silk garments of a chestnut brown, and I at once
concluded that they drew this material from the same sources as the
Mikkamenkies, for, dear friends, you must not get an idea that the
Formifolk were not well deserving of the name which Don Fum had bestowed
upon them. They were genuine human ants and, except when sleeping,
always at work.

It was true that since their blindness had come upon them they had not
been able to add a single column or archway to the Silver City, but in
all the ordinary concerns of life they were quite as industrious as
ever, chasing, carving, chiselling, planting, weaving, knitting, and
doing a thousand and one things that you and I with our two good eyes
would find it hard to accomplish.

I had made known to Long Thumbs the fact that Bulger and I were both
very tired and weary from our long tramp, and that we craved to have
some refreshment set before us, and then to be permitted to go to rest
at once, promising that after we had had several hours’ good sleep we
would take the greatest pleasure in being presented to the worthy
inhabitants of the Silver City.

It was astonishing with what rapidity this request of mine spread from
man to man. Long Thumbs made it known to two at the same time, and these
two to four, and these four to eight, and these eight to sixteen, and so
on. You see it wouldn’t take long at that rate to tell a million.

Like magic the Formifolk disappeared from the streets, and in a sort of
orderly confusion faded from my sight. Bulger and I were right glad to
be conducted to a silver bed-chamber, where the traveller’s every want
seemed to be anticipated. The only thing that bothered us was, we had
not been accustomed to keep the light burning upon going to bed, and
this made us both a little wakeful at first; but we were too tired to
let it keep us from dropping off after a few moments, for the mattress
was soft and springy enough to satisfy any one, and I’m sure that no one
could have complained that the house wasn’t quiet enough.



                              CHAPTER XVII

  IN WHICH YOU READ, DEAR FRIENDS, SOMETHING ABOUT A LIVE ALARM CLOCK
    AND A SOODOPSY BATHER AND RUBBER.—OUR FIRST BREAKFAST IN THE CITY
    OF SILVER.—A NEW WAY TO CATCH FISH WITHOUT HURTING THEIR
    FEELINGS.—HOW THE STREETS AND HOUSES WERE NUMBERED, AND WHERE THE
    SIGNBOARDS WERE.—A VERY ORIGINAL LIBRARY IN WHICH BOOKS NEVER GET
    DOG-EARED.—HOW VELVET SOLES ENJOYED HER FAVORITE POETS.—I AM
    PRESENTED TO THE LEARNED BARREL BROW, WHO PROCEEDS TO GIVE ME HIS
    VIEWS OF THE UPPER WORLD.—THEY ENTERTAINED ME AMAZINGLY AND MAY
    INTEREST YOU.


I can’t tell you, dear friends, exactly how long Bulger and I slept, but
it must have been a good while, for when I was awakened I felt
thoroughly refreshed. I say awakened, for I was awakened by a gentle
tapping on the back of my hand—six taps.

At first I thought I was dreaming, but, upon rubbing my eyes, I saw
standing by the side of my bed one of the Soodopsies who, feeling me
stir, took up his tablet and wrote as follows:—

“My name is Tap Hard. I am a clock. There is a score of us. We keep the
time for our people by counting the swing of the pendulum in the Time
House. It swings about as fast as we breathe. There are one hundred
breaths to a minute and one hundred minutes to an hour. Our day is
divided into six hours’ worktime and six hours’ sleeptime. It is now the
rising hour. If thou wilt be pleased to rise, one of our people from the
Health House will rub all the tired out of thy limbs.”

I touched Tap Hard’s heart to thank him, and made haste to scramble out
of bed. Now, for the first time, I looked about the silver chamber in
which I had slept. On silver shelves lay silver combs and silver shears
and silver knives; on a silver stand stood a silver ewer within a silver
basin; on silver pegs hung silken towels, while spread upon the silver
floor lay soft, silken rugs, and above and around on ceiling and walls
the tongues of flame were a thousand times repeated in the panels of
burnished silver.

I had made trial of all sorts of Oriental rubber and bath attendants in
my day, but the silent little Soodopsy who laved and rubbed and tapped
and stroked me exceeded them all in dexterity, added to which was a new
charm, for I was not obliged to listen to long and senseless tales of
adventure and intrigue, but was left quite alone to my own thoughts.
Bulger was also treated to a sponging and a rubbing—a luxury which he
had not enjoyed since we had left Castle Trump.

My toilet was no sooner completed than Long Thumbs made his appearance
to inquire after my health and to superintend the serving of my
breakfast, which consisted of a piece of most delicate boiled fish
flanked with oysters of delicious flavor, and trimmed with slices of
those monstrous mushrooms which I had eaten among the Mikkamenkies, the
whole served in a beautiful silver dish on a silver tray with silver
eating utensils.

Remembering the strange way in which the fish were caught and killed in
the Land of the Mikkamenkies, I was curious to know how the Soodopsies
managed it, for I knew enough of them to know that the sensation of
anything struggling for its life in their hands would suffice to throw
them into fits of great suffering, to fill their gentle hearts with
nameless terror.

“At the end of one of the many corridors leading out of our city,”
explained Long Thumbs, “there is a rocky chamber which was called by our
ancestors Uphaslok, or the Death Hole, because any being which breathes
its air for a few moments is sure to die. So they closed it up forever,
leaving only a small pipe projecting through the door; but, strange to
say, those who breathe this air suffer no pain whatever, but presently
drop off into a pleasant dream, and, unless they be rescued, would, of
course, never wake again. Now, as our laws forbid us to cause any pain
to the most insignificant creature, it occurred to our ancestors that by
means of a long pipe they could turn this poisoned air into the river
whenever they wanted a supply of fish for food. This they did, and,
strange to say, the moment the fish felt the gas bubbling into the
river, they at once swam up to the mouth of the pipe, and struggled with
each other for a chance to catch the deadly bubbles as they left its
mouth, so pleasant a sensation do they cause as they gradually plunge,
the creature breathing them into his last sleep. And in this way it is
we are enabled to feed upon the fish in our river, without breaking the
law of the land.”

I began to understand that I had fallen in with a very original and
interesting folk, but Bulger was not altogether pleased with them, for
several reasons, as I soon observed. In the first place he couldn’t
accustom himself to the cold and glassy look of their eyes, and in the
next he was a bit jealous of their wonderfully keen scent—a sense which
with them was so strong that they invariably gave signs of being
conscious of Bulger’s approach even before I could see him, and always
turned their faces in the direction in which he was coming.

You will remember, dear friends, that I mentioned the fact that the
Formifolk went barefoot, and that their feet as well as their hands
seemed altogether too large for their bodies, and I wish to add, that
while Bulger and I were being led through the long corridors and winding
passages on our way into the City of Silver, the three Soodopsies
frequently half halted and seemed to be feeling on the floor for
something with the balls of their feet. I thought no more about it,
until Bulger and I started out for our first stroll through their
wonderful town, when, to my great delight, I made the discovery that the
numbers of the houses, the names of the occupants, the names of the
streets, as well as all signboards, so to speak, and all guide-posts
were in slightly raised letters on the floors and pavements, and then
the truth dawned upon me, that Long Thumbs and his companions were
simply halting now and then to read the names of the streets with the
balls of their feet, in order to know if they were taking the right
road.

[Illustration: BARREL BROW ENGAGED IN READING FOUR BOOKS AT ONCE.]

Ay, more than this, dear friends, the first time Bulger and I passed
through one of the open squares of the City of Silver, you may imagine
my satisfaction upon the discovery that the silver pavements were
literally covered with the writings of the Soodopsy authors in raised
characters.

Now, in Don Fum’s wonderful book he had, in his masterly manner, given
me the key to the language of the Formifolk, so that with very slight
effort I was able to make the additional discovery that some of the
streets were given up to the writers of history, and some to story
writers, while others were filled with the learned works of
philosophers, and others still contained many thousands of lines from
the best poets which the nation had produced.

And I had very little difficulty in discovering which were the favorite
poems of the Soodopsies, for, as you may readily suppose, these were
polished like a silver mirror by the shuffling of the many thankful feet
over their sweet and soulful lines.

I noticed that the writings of the philosophers in this, as in my own
world, found few readers, for the raised letters were, in many cases,
tarnished and black from lack of soles trampling over them in search of
wisdom.

Somewhat later, when I had become acquainted with Velvet Soles, the
daughter of Long Thumbs, a gracious little being as full of inward light
as she was blind to the outer world, and she invited me to “come for a
read,” I had a hard task of it in persuading her that I could not remove
what she called my ridiculous “foot boxes” and join her in enjoying some
of her favorite poems. It was to me a delicious pastime to accompany
this happy little maiden when she “went for a read,” to walk beside her
and watch the ever-varying expression of her beautiful face as the soles
of her tiny feet pressed the words of love and hope and joy, and her
heart expanded, and she clasped her hands in attitudes of blissful
enjoyment, seemingly just as deep and fervent as if the blessed sunlight
rested on her brow, and her eyes were drinking in the glory of a summer
sunset. O dwellers in the upper world with the light streaming into the
windows of your souls, with your ears open to the music of pipe and
flute and violin, and to the sweeter music of the voice of love, how
much more have ye than she, and yet how rarely are ye as happy, how
rarely do ye know that sweet contentment which, as in this case, came
from within?

“Go to the ant; consider her ways, and be wise, which, having no guide,
overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer and gathereth her
food in the harvest.”

In a short time the Formifolk seemed to become quite accustomed to
having Bulger and me among them, and they apparently “touched hands”
with me in quite as friendly a fashion as if I had been one of them.

One day Long Thumbs conducted me to the house of the most aged and
learned of the Soodopsies, Barrel Brow by name.

He received me very cordially, although I interrupted him at his
studies, for, as I entered his apartment, he was in the act of reading
four different books at the same time: two were lying on the floor, and
he was perusing their raised characters with the soles of his feet, and
two others were set up on a frame in front of him and he was deciphering
them with the tips of his fingers.

But when informed who I was he stopped work at once and taking up his
tablets, asked me a number of questions concerning the upper world, of
which he had, however, no very exalted opinion.

“You people,” said he, “if I understand correctly the ancient writings
of those of our nation who still preserved certain traditions of the
upper world, are endowed with several senses which are utterly lacking
in us, I am happy to say, for if I understand correctly ye have in the
first place a sense which ye call hearing, a most troublesome sense, for
by means of it ye are being constantly disturbed and annoyed by
vibrations of the air coming from afar. Now, they can be of no possible
good to you. Ye might as well have a sense that would inform you what
was going on in the moon. Therefore, my conclusion is, that the sense of
hearing only serves to distract and weaken the brain.

“Another sense that ye are possessed of,” continued Barrel Brow, “ye
call the sense of sight—a power even more useless and distracting than
hearing, for the reason that it enables you to know things which it is
utterly bootless to know, such as what your next door neighbors may be
doing, how the mountains are acting on the other side of your rivers,
how your sky, as ye call it, might feel if you could touch it with your
fingers, which ye can’t do, however; how soon rain will fall, which is a
useless piece of knowledge if ye have roofs to cover you, as I suppose
ye have; but the most ridiculous use which ye make of this sense of
sight is the manufacture of what ye call pictures, by means of which ye
seem to take the greatest pleasure in deceiving this very sense of which
ye are so very proud. If I understand correctly these pictures, if felt
of, are quite as smooth as that panel there, but so cunningly do ye draw
the lines and lay in the colors, whatever they may be, that ye really
succeed in deceiving yourselves and stand for hours in front of one of
these bits of trickery when ye might, if ye chose, feast your eyes, as
ye call it, upon the very thing which the trickster has imitated. Now,
as life is much shorter in the upper world than in ours, it seems very
strange to me that ye should wish to waste it in this foolish manner.
Then, there is another thing, little baron,” continued the learned
Barrel Brow, “which I wish to mention. It is this: The people of the
upper world pride themselves very much upon what they term the power of
speech, which, if I understand correctly, is a faculty they have of
expressing their thoughts to each other by violently expelling the air
from their lungs, and that this air, rushing into the ventilators of the
brain, which ye call ears, produces a sensation of sound as ye term it,
and in this way one of thy people standing at one end of the town might
make his wishes known to another standing at the other end. Now, thou
wilt pardon my thinking so, little baron, but this seems to me to be not
a whit above the brute creature, which, opening its vast jaws, thus sets
the air in motion in calling its young or breathing defiance at an
enemy. And if I understand correctly, little baron, so proud are thy
people of this power of speech that they insist upon making use of it at
all times and upon all occasions, and, strange to say, these ‘talkers’
can always find plenty of people to open their ears to these vibrations
of the air, although the effect is so wearying to the brain that in the
end they invariably fall asleep. But if I understand correctly, the
women are even fonder of displaying their skill in thus puffing out the
air from their lungs than the men are; but, that not satisfied with this
superior power of puffing out the words, they actually have recourse to
a potent herb which they steep in boiling water and drink as hot as
possible on account of its effect in loosening the tongue and allowing
the talker to do more puffing than she could otherwise.

“But all this, little baron,” continued the learned Barrel Brow, “might
be overlooked and regarded in the light of mere amusement were it not
for the fact, if I understand correctly, that brain ventilators being of
different sizes in different persons, the consequence is that these
puffs of air which ye use to make known your thoughts to each other
produce different effects upon different persons, and the result is,
that the people of the upper world spend half their time repeating the
puffs which they have already sent out, and that even then thou canst
rarely find two people who will agree exactly as to the number, kind,
strength, and meaning of the puffs blown into each other’s brain
ventilators, and that therefore has it become necessary to provide what
ye call judges to settle these disputes which often last for lifetimes,
the two parties spending their entire fortunes hiring witnesses to come
before these judges and imitate the sound which the air made when it was
set in motion years ago by the angry puffs of the two parties. I
sincerely trust, little baron,” wrote the learned Barrel Brow on his
tablet of silver, “that when thou returnest to thy people thou wilt make
known to them what I have written for thee to-day, for it is never too
late to correct a fault, and the longer that fault has lasted the
greater the credit for correcting it.”

I promised the learned Soodopsy to do as he requested, and then we
touched each other on the back of the head, which is the way they say
good-by in the land of the Formifolk, a touch on the forehead meaning,
“How d’ye do?”



                             CHAPTER XVIII

  EARLY HISTORY OF THE SOODOPSIES AS RELATED BY BARREL BROW.—HOW THEY
    WERE DRIVEN TO TAKE REFUGE IN THE UNDER WORLD, AND HOW THEY CAME
    UPON THE MARBLE HIGHWAY.—THEIR DISCOVERY OF NATURAL GAS WHICH
    YIELDS THEM LIGHT AND WARMTH, AND OF NATURE’S MAGNIFICENT TREASURE
    HOUSE.—HOW THEY REPLACED THEIR TATTERED GARMENTS AND BEGAN TO
    BUILD THE CITY OF SILVER.—THE STRANGE MISFORTUNES THAT CAME UPON
    THEM, AND HOW THEY ROSE SUPERIOR TO THEM, TERRIBLE AS THEY WERE.


And, no doubt, dear friends, you would be glad to hear something about
the early history of the Soodopsies: who they were, where they came
from, and how they happened to find their way down into the World within
a World.

At least, this was the way I felt after I had been presented to the
learned Barrel Brow, and so the next time I called upon him I waited
patiently for him to finish reading the four books in front of him, and
then I said,—

“Be pleased, dear Master, to tell me something concerning the early
history of thy people, and to explain to me how they came to make their
way down into this underground world.”

“Ages and ages ago,” wrote the learned Barrel Brow, “my people lived
upon the shores of a beautiful land with a vast ocean to the north of
it, and in those days they had the same senses as the other people of
the upper world. It was a very fair land, indeed, so fair that, in the
words of the ancient chronicles, the sun looked in vain for a fairer.
Its rivers were deep and broad, its plains were rich and fertile, and
its mountains stored full of silver and gold and copper and tin, and so
easily mined were these metals that our people became famous as metal
workers; so deft in their workmanship that the other nations from far
and near came to us for swords and shields and spear heads and suits of
armor and table service and armlets and bracelets and, above all, for
lamps most gloriously chased and carved to hang in their palaces and
temples. And so we were very happy, until one terrible day the great
round world gave a twist and we were turned away from the sun, so that
its rays went slantingly over our heads and gave us no warmth.

“Ah me, I could weep now,” exclaimed the learned Barrel Brow, “after all
these centuries, when I think of the cruel fate that overtook my people.
In a few months the whole face of our fair land was covered with ice and
snow, and our cattle died, and many of our people, too, before they
could weave thick cloth to keep their delicate bodies from the pinching
cold. But this was not all; the great blue ocean which had until then
dashed its warm waves and white foam up against our shores now breathed
its icy breath full upon us, driving into our cellars to escape its
fury; and in a few brief months, to our horror, there came drifting down
upon us fields and mountains of ice, which the tempestuous waters cast
up against our shores with deafening crash. To remain there meant death,
swift and terrible, so the command was given to abandon homes and
firesides and escape to the southward, and this most of them did. But it
so happened that several hundred families belonging to the metal-working
guilds, who knew the underground passages to the mines as foresters know
the pathless wood, had taken refuge in the vast underground caverns with
all the goods they could carry. Poor deluded creatures! they thought
that this sudden coming of the winter blast, of the blinding snow and
vast floating fields of ice, was but a freak of nature, and that in a
few months the old warmth and the old sunshine would come back again.

“Alas, months went by and their supply of food was almost exhausted and
the entrances to the mines were closed by gigantic blocks of ice
cemented into one great mass by the snow which the gray clouds had
sifted down upon them. There was now no escape that way. Their only hope
was to make their way underground to some portal to the upper world.

“So, with lighted torches but with hearts plunged in the darkness of
despair, they kept on their way, when one day, or one night, they knew
not which, their leaders suddenly came upon a broad street of marble
opened by nature’s own hands. It was skirted by a softly flowing river
that swarmed with fish in scales and shells and skin, and here our
people halted to eat and drink and rest, and while one of their number
was striking his flint on one occasion to make a fire to cook a meal, to
his surprise and delight a tongue of flame darted up from the rocky
floor and continued to burn, giving light and warmth to them.

“As they had brought their tools—their drills and chisels and files and
gravers and blow-pipes—with them in their carts and wagons, they made
haste to fit a pipe to this opening in the rock and set up a cluster of
lights. With food and water and warmth and light their hearts grew
lighter, especially as they soon discovered that in many of the vast
caverns gigantic mushrooms grew in the wildest profusion.

“The wisest of them,” continued the learned Barrel Brow, “at once made
up their minds that there must be reservoirs of this gas farther along
on this beautiful Marble Highway, so, day by day, they pushed farther
into this World within a World, halting every now and then to set up a
lighthouse as they called it.

“After advancing several leagues the exploring party, upon lighting a
cluster of gas jets, were stricken almost speechless with wonder at
finding themselves upon the very sill of a towering portal opening into
a succession of vast chambers, some with flat ceiling, some arched, some
domed, upon the floors and walls of which lay and hung inexhaustible
quantities of pure silver. Those magnificent caverns were in reality
nature’s vast storehouses of the glorious white metal, and our people
made haste to set up clusters of gas jets here and there, so that they
might view the wondrous treasure-house.

“Here they determined to remain, for here was food and water in
never-failing supplies, and here they would have light and warmth, and
here they could forget their miseries by working at their calling, using
the precious metal with lavish hand to build them living-chambers, and
to fashion the thousand and one things necessary for every-day life. So
great was their delight as metal-workers to come upon this exhaustless
supply of pure silver that they could hardly sleep until they had set up
clusters of gas jets throughout these vast caverns, for, no doubt,
little baron, thou hast already guessed that this is the spot I am
telling thee of; that right here it was where our people halted to build
the City of Silver.

“But one thought troubled them and that was where to find needful
clothing, for the old was fast falling into shreds and tatters, when, to
their delight, they came upon a bed of mineral wool and with this they
managed to weave some cloth. Although it was rather stiff and harsh, yet
it was better than none.

“While exploring a new cavern one day, one of my wise ancestors saw a
large night moth alight near him, and, gently loosening some of its
eggs, he carried them home, more as a curiosity than aught else.

“Imagine how rejoiced he was, however, to see one of the worms which
hatched out set to work spinning a cocoon of silk half as big as his
fist. There was great feasting and merry-making among our people upon
hearing of this glad news, and it was not very long before many a silver
shuttle was rattling in a silver loom, and the soft bodies of our people
were warmly and comfortably clad. Now, long periods of time went by,
which, cut up into your months, would have made many, many years. Our
people had everything but sunlight, and this, of course, those who were
born in the under world knew nothing about and therefore did not miss.

“But, as was to be expected, great changes gradually took place in our
people. To their inexpressible grief, they noticed that as they busied
themselves beautifying their new homes by erecting arches and bridges
and terraces, and lining them with glorious candelabra and statues, all
in cast and wrought or hammered silver, their sight was gradually
failing them, and that in not a very great length of time they should be
totally blind.

“This result, little baron,” continued the learned Barrel Brow, “was
very natural, for the sense of sight was in reality created for
sunlight; for as thou no doubt knowest, all the fish that swim in our
rivers have no eyes, having no need of them. It happened just as they
had expected—in a few generations more our people discovered that their
eyes could no longer see things as thou dost, but yet they could feel
them if they were not too far away, just as I can feel thy presence now
and tell where thou sittest, and how tall thou art, and how broad thou
art, and whether thou movest to right or left, forward or backward, but
I cannot tell exactly how thou art made until I reach out and touch
thee; then I know all; yes, far better than thou canst know, for our
sense of feeling is keener than thy so-called sight. One of my people
can feel a grain or roughness upon a silver mirror which to thy eyes
seems smoother than glass. Well, strange to relate, and yet not strange,
our ancestors with the going-out of their sense of sight also felt their
sense of hearing on the wane. Our ears, as thou callest them, having
nothing more to listen to, for eternal silence, as thou knowest, reigns
in this under world, became as useless to us as the tail of the pollywog
would be to the full-grown frog; and of course with the loss of our
sense of hearing our children were soon unable to learn to talk, and in
a certain lapse of time we came to merit full well our new name of
Formifolk, or Ant People, for we were now blind and deaf and dumb.

[Illustration: A SOODOPSY MAIDEN READING HER FAVORITE POET]

“It is long, very, very long, little baron,” continued the learned
Soodopsy, “since all recollection of sunlight, of color, of sound, died
out of our minds. To-day my people don’t even know the names of these
things, and thou wouldst have as much chance of success wert thou to
attempt to tell them what light or sound is as thou wouldst have if thou
shouldst try to explain to a savage that there is nothing under the
world to hold it up, and yet it doesn’t fall. But if thou shouldst lay
several pieces of metal in a row and ask one of my people to tell thee
what they were, he would try the weight of each and feel its grain
carefully, possibly smell them or touch his tongue to them, and then he
would make answer: ‘That is gold; that is silver; that is copper; that
is lead; that is tin; that is iron.’

“But thou wouldst say, ‘They all are differently colored; canst not
perceive that?’

“‘I know not what thou meanest by color,’ he would reply. ‘But mark me:
now I hide them all beneath this silken kerchief, and still by touching
them with my finger tips I can tell what metal each one is. If thou
canst do it, then art thou as good a man as I.’

“What sayest now, little baron?” asked the learned Barrel Brow, while
his face was wreathed in a smile of triumph; “dost think thou wouldst be
as good a man as this Soodopsy?”

“Nay, indeed I do not, wise Master,” wrote I upon my silver tablet; “and
I thank thee for all thou has told me and taught me, and I ask leave, O
Barrel Brow, to come again and converse with thee.”

“That thou mayest, little baron,” traced the learned Soodopsy upon his
silver tablet; and then as I turned to leave his chamber he reached
quickly after me and touched me with a bent forefinger, which meant
return.

“Thy pardon, little baron,” he wrote, “but thou art leaving my study
without thy faithful Bulger; am I not right?”

I was astounded, for indeed he was right, and though without the sense
of sight he had seen more than I with two good eyes wide open. There lay
Bulger fast asleep on a silken-covered hassock.

Our silent conversation had so wearied him that he had sailed off into
the Land of Nod on the wings of a dream.

He hung his head and looked very shame-faced when my call aroused him
and he discovered that I had actually reached the doorway without his
knowing it.



                              CHAPTER XIX

  BEGINS WITH SOMETHING ABOUT THE LITTLE SOODOPSIES, BUT BRANCHES OFF
    ON ANOTHER SUBJECT; TO WIT;—THE SILENT SONG OF SINGING FINGERS,
    THE FAIR MAID OF THE CITY OF SILVER.—BARREL BROW IS KIND ENOUGH TO
    ENLIGHTEN ME ON A CERTAIN POINT, AND HE TAKES OCCASION TO PAY
    BULGER A VERY HIGH COMPLIMENT, WHICH, OF COURSE, HE DESERVED.


The longer I stayed among the Soodopsies the more did I become convinced
that they were the happiest, the lightest hearted, the most contented
human beings that I had met in all my travels. If it were possible for
the links of a long chain suspended over a chasm to be living, thinking
beings for a short while, it seems to me they would hang together in the
most perfect accord, for each link would discover that he was no better
than his neighbor, and that the welfare of all the other links depended
upon him and his upon theirs. So it was with the Formifolk, having no
sense of sight they knew no such thing as envy, and all hands were alike
when reached out for a greeting.

I was amazed at times to see how they could feel my approach when I
would be ten or fifteen feet away from them, and I often amused myself
by trying to steal by one of them in the street. But no, it was
impossible; a hand would invariably be held out for a greeting. Little
by little, they got over their distrust of me, and made up their minds
that I had told them the truth when I said that no dancing spectre was
forever following at my heels. One of the most interesting sights was to
see a group of Soodopsy children at play, building houses with silver
blocks, or playing a game very much like our dominoes. I noticed that
they kept no tally, such wonderful memories had they that it was quite
unnecessary.

At first the children were so frightened upon feeling of me that they
fled with terror pictured upon their little faces. Their parents
explained to me that I made very much the same impression upon them as
if I should feel of a person whose skin was as rough as a sea urchin’s.

When at last I succeeded in coaxing several of them to my side, I was
astounded to see one little fellow who had by chance pressed his tiny
hand against my watch pocket spring away from me terror-stricken. He had
felt it tick and didn’t stop running until he had reached his mother’s
side.

His wonderful tale that the little baron carried some strange animal
around in his pocket soon caused a crowd to collect about me, and it was
some time before I could persuade even the parents that the watch was
not alive and that it was not the little animal’s heart which they felt
beating.

On one occasion, when a little Soodopsy was sitting on my lap with its
tiny arm twined affectionately around my neck, I happened to make some
remark to Bulger, when, to my amazement, the child sprang out of my arms
and darted away with a look of terror upon his little face.

What had I done to him?

Why, it seems that by the merest chance his tiny hand had been pressed
against my throat, and that he had been terrified by feeling the strange
vibration caused by my voice. Immediately the report was spread about
that the little baron carried another little baron around in his throat,
that any one could feel him, if I would only consent. It took me a long
while to convince them that what they felt was not another little baron,
but merely the vibration caused by my expelling my breath in a way
peculiar to the people of the upper world. But all the same, I was
obliged to say many hundreds of useless things to Bulger in order to
give their little hands a chance to feel something so wonderful.

From the little I have told you about the names of the Formifolk, dear
friends, you have no doubt understood that their names took their rise
from some physical quality, defect, or peculiarity. Besides the names I
have already mentioned, I remember Sharp Chin, Long Nose, Silk Ears,
Smooth Palms, Big Knuckle, Nail Off, Hammer Fist, Soft Touch,
Hole-in-Cheek, or Hole-in-chin (Dimple), Crooked Hair (Cowlick), and so
on, and so on.

But, to my amazement, one day, when asking the name of a young girl
whose long and delicate fingers had attracted my attention, I was
informed that her name was Singing Fingers, or, possibly, I might
translate it Music Fingers.

I had noticed that the Soodopsies had some idea of music, for the
children often amused themselves dancing, and, while so engaged, beat
time with their finger tips on each other’s cheeks or foreheads.

But I was completely in the dark as to what they meant by Singing
Fingers, or why the young girl should have been so named; hence was I
greatly pleased to hear the maiden’s mother ask me whether I would like
to feel one of her daughter’s songs, as she termed it. Upon my
acquiescing, the mother approached me and proceeded to roll up the
sleeves of my coat until she had laid my arms bare to the elbow, then
she took my arms and clasped them across my breast one above the other.

Bulger watched the proceeding with somewhat of displeasure in his eyes;
he had half an idea that these silent people might play some hurtful
trick upon his little master. But my smile soon disarmed his suspicion.

Singing Fingers now drew near, and as her sweet face with its sightless
eyes turned full upon me I could hardly keep back the tears.

And yet, why grieve for any one who seemed to be so perfectly happy? A
smile played around her dainty little mouth, disclosing her tiny silvery
white teeth like so many real pearls, and her bosom rose and fell
quickly, sending forth a faint breathing sound. She looked so like a
radiant child of some other world that before I thought, I cried out,—

“Speak, Oh, speak, beautiful child!”

In an instant she drew back affrighted, for the sudden vibration of the
air had startled her; but I reached out and touched her hand to give her
to understand that she need fear nothing, and then she drew near to me
again. Suddenly her beautiful hands with their long, frail, delicate
fingers were lifted into the air, and she began to sway her body and to
wave her hands in gentle and graceful motions as if keeping time with
some music. Gradually she drew nearer to me, and ever and anon her
silken finger tips touched my hands or arms as if they were a keyboard
and she was about to begin to execute a soft and dainty bit of music;
and I noticed that her fingers had some delightful perfume upon them.
Now fast and faster the gentle taps rain upon me with rhythmic
regularity. They soothe me, they thrill me, they reach my heart as if
they were the sweet notes of a flute or the soft tones of a singer’s
voice. The maiden is really singing to me! It seems to me that I can
understand what she is saying, or, rather, thinking, as her dainty
finger tips fairly fly hither and thither, and I can hear her low
breathing grow louder and louder. Suddenly she leaves my hands and arms
and I feel her gentle tapping on my cheeks and brow. So gently, Oh, so
gently and soothingly her fingers touch me that at last they feel like
rose leaves dragged across my face. The sensation is so delightful, so
like the soft touch of sleep to weary eyes, that I drop off in good
earnest, and when, after a moment or so, I opened my eyes there sat the
smiling Formifolk waiting for me to awake, and there stood the
radiant-visaged Singing Fingers in front of me, child-like, waiting to
be commended.

And so you see, dear friends, that it is not so hard to be happy after
all if you only set about it in the right way. The Formifolk seemed to
have set about it in the right way, judging by results, and they are the
only things we have to judge by. Some men will fish all day and not have
a bite, and some people will try their whole lives to catch happiness
and not get any more than a nibble. They don’t use the right kind of
bait. Let ’em try a kind act, a live one.

There was something I wanted to ask of the learned Barrel Brow, so the
next call I made on him I put this question to him:—

“Is it possible, learned Master, that thy people have absolutely no
guide, no overseer, no rulers?”

The great scholar of the Formifolk ceased reading the four books which
lay opened before him—one under each hand and one under each foot—as I
handed him my silver tablet.

“Little baron,” was his reply, “if there were only a bramble bush big
enough for all you people of the upper world to jump into and if you
could only get rid of your ears too, you would soon be rid of your
rulers who oppress you, who prey upon you; for no one would have any
desire to be a ruler if there was no one left to look at him and if he
couldn’t hear what the flatterers said about him. Vanity is the soil
that rulers spring from, as the mushrooms spring from the rich loam of
our dark caverns. They pretend that it is the exercise of power that
they are so fond of. Believe them not. It is the gratification of their
vanity and nothing else.

“If it were only in thy power to say to every man who itched to be a
ruler,—

“‘Well and good, brother, a ruler thou shalt be; but bear in mind, weak
man, that when thou hast donned thy gaudy uniform and mounted thy gayly
caparisoned steed, when thou ridest at the head of troop and cavalcade
with ten thousand armed men following thee on foot, as slaves their
master, and the plaudits of the foolish multitude rend the air, no eye
shall witness the splendor of thy triumph, no ear catch a sound of the
deafening cheers,’ take my word for it, little baron, no one would want
to be a ruler any more.

“Where there are no rulers, little baron,” continued the learned Barrel
Brow, “there can be no followers; where there are no followers, there
will be no quarrelling. When it becomes necessary in our nation we form
the Great Circle for deliberation. Each man writes out what he thinks on
his tablet. Then the opinions are read and counted and the majority
rules. But we form the Great Circle only in times of urgent need.
Generally speaking, the smaller circles answer all the purposes; in
fact, the family circle is in most cases quite sufficient.”

I touched first Barrel Brow’s heart in token of my gratitude for the
many things which he had taught me, and then the back of his head to bid
him good-night. You may imagine his and my delight, dear friends, when
the wise Bulger raised himself upon his hind legs, and with his right
paw also thanked the learned Barrel Brow, and then bade him good-night
by a light tap on the back of his head.

“Fortunate the traveller,” wrote the learned Soodopsy, “attended by so
wise and watchful a companion! True, like a child, he goes on all fours,
but by so doing he brings his heart and his brains on the same level—the
only way for a man to wear them if he would do his fellow-creatures any
good. The trouble with thy people in the upper world, little baron, is
that they think too much. They clasp minds instead of clasping hands;
they send messengers with gifts instead of giving themselves. They hire
people to dance for them, to sing for them, to be merry for them. They
will not be satisfied until they have hired people to help them be
sorry, to whom they may say, ‘My friend is dead; I loved him. Weep three
whole days for him.’”



                               CHAPTER XX

  THIS IS A LONG AND A SAD CHAPTER.—IT TELLS HOW DEAR, GENTLE,
    POUTING-LIP WAS LOST, AND HOW THE SOODOPSIES GRIEVED FOR HIM AND
    WHOM THEY SUSPECTED.—BULGER GIVES A STRIKING PROOF OF HIS
    WONDERFUL INTELLIGENCE WHICH ENABLES ME TO CONVINCE THE SOODOPSIES
    THAT MY “DANCING SPECTRE” DID NOT CAUSE POUTING-LIP’S DEATH.—THE
    TRUE TALE OF HIS TERRIBLE FATE.—WHAT FOLLOWS MY DISCOVERY.—HOW A
    BEAUTIFUL BOAT IS BUILT FOR ME BY THE GRATEFUL SOODOPSIES, AND HOW
    BULGER AND I BID ADIEU TO THE LAND OF THE MAKE-BELIEVE EYES.


’Twas the custom in the City of Silver to “touch all around,” as it was
called, before going to rest. The “touch all around” began in a certain
quarter of the city and passed with wonderful rapidity from man to man.
Exactly how it was done I never could understand, but the purpose of the
mysterious signalling was to make an actual count of all the Formifolk.
If a single one were missing, it would be most surely discovered by the
time the “touch all around” had been completed. It proceeded with
lightning-like rapidity throughout the city, and then, if no return
signal was made, the people knew that everyone was in his proper place;
that no Soodopsy had lost his way or fallen ill in some unfrequented
passage.

I don’t think that I had more than dropped off to sleep when I was
aroused by Bulger’s gentle tugging at my sleeve. Rubbing my eyes, I sat
up in bed and listened. Instantly my ear caught that faint, shuffling
sound which was always perceptible when any number of the Formifolk were
hurrying hither and thither over the polished silver pavement.

I sprang out of bed and rushed to the door, Bulger close at my heels.
What a strange sight confronted me! I could compare it to nothing save
to the appearance of a large ant hill when some mischievous boy suddenly
drops a stone among the crowd of petty, patient, plodding people
peacefully pursuing their work.

In an instant all is changed: lines are broken, workmen jostle workmen,
order becomes disorder, regularity is changed to confusion. Hither and
thither the affrighted creatures rush with waving feelers, seeking for
the cause of the mad outburst of terror.

So it was with the Formifolk as I looked out upon them. With
outstretched hands and tremulously moving fingers they rushed from side
to side, jostling and bumping one another, while a nameless dread was
depicted upon their upturned faces. Anon a group would halt, join hands,
and begin to exchange thoughts by lightning-like pressures, tappings,
and strokes, when others would dash against them, break them apart, and
confusion would reign greater than ever.

But gradually I noted that some sort of order seemed to be coming out of
the movements of this mad throng. Here and there groups of three and
four would form and clasp hands, then these smaller circles would break
and form into larger ones, and I noted too that this ever-increasing
circle was formed on the outside of the panic-stricken crowd, and as it
grew it shut them in so that when a fleeing Soodopsy hurtled up against
this steady line, his terror left him at once and he took his place in
it. In a few moments the madly pushing, jostling throng had disappeared
entirely and the whole city was girt round about by these long, steady
lines.

The Great Circle had been formed.

After half an hour the deliberation was completed, and, to my surprise,
the Great Circle broke up into squads and companies of fours and sixes
and tens, and then each disappeared slowly and steadily with lock step,
passing out of the City into the dark or only partially lighted chambers
and passages that surrounded it. The search for the missing Soodopsy had
been begun.

[Illustration: THE GIGANTIC TORTOISE THAT DEVOURED POUTING LIP.]

It was hours before the last squad had returned to the square and the
Great Circle had been formed again. Alas! the news was sad indeed. There
came no tidings of the missing man. He was lost forever; and with
clasped hands and slow and heavy step the grieving Formifolk made their
way back to their homes, where the sighing women and children were
awaiting their coming. As Bulger and I went back to bed again, it almost
seemed to me as if I could hear at times the deep and long-drawn sighs
that escaped from the gentle breasts of the sorrowing Soodopsies. I
noticed a very touching thing on the following day. It was that every
man, woman, and child in the City of Silver grieved for the lost
Soodopsy as if he were actually brother to each of them. Love was not as
with us, in the upper world, a thing bestowed upon those in whom we see
our own faces repeated and in whose voices we heard our own ring out
again, sweet and clear as in our childhood; in other words, a love
almost of our very selves. Oh, no! while it was true that a mother’s
touch was most tender to her own child, yet no little hand stretched out
to her went without its caress. She was mother to them all; to her they
were all beautiful, and as their little frocks were all woven in the
same loom, there never could come into her mind a temptation to feel
whether a rich neighbor’s child was playing with hers, and that
therefore it ought to receive a more loving caress. In that portion of
the city where the children had their playgrounds the silver pavement
was in some places marked off with raised lines and letters, something
after the manner of our hop scotch, for the purpose of a game which was
very popular with the little Soodopsies. Its name is hard to translate,
but it meant something like “Little Bogyman,” and many an hour had
Bulger and I stood there watching these silent little gnomes at play,
fascinated by the wonderful skill which they would display in feigning
the drawing near of the Little Bogyman, their hiding from him, his
stealthy approach, the increasing danger, the attack, the escape, the
new dangers, wild flight, and mad pursuit. Fancy, therefore, my
astonishment one morning to note that Bulger was coaxing me thither,
although the place was quite deserted, the children being all at their
lessons.

But, as it was a rule of mine always to humor Bulger’s whims, I went
patiently along.

In a moment, as we came to the spot where the pavement was marked off
and inscribed as I have explained, he halted and with an anxious whine
began to play the game of “The Little Bogyman,” turning every now and
then to see what effect his actions had upon me.

He made no mistakes. As he entered each compartment, he rested his paw
upon the raised letters as he had so often seen the children do with
their little bare feet, and then mimicked with wonderful fidelity their
actions, beginning with the first scent of danger and ending with mad
terror at the close pursuit of the bogyman.

I was more than surprised; I was bewildered by this piece of mimicry on
Bulger’s part. To my mind it boded some terrible accident to him, for I
have a superstitious notion that great danger to an animal’s life gives
him for the moment an almost human intelligence. It is nature caring for
her own.

But all of a sudden the real truth in this case burst upon me: it was
not my dear little brother giving me to understand that some peril was
threatening him, but that some danger was hanging over my head, the more
real in that it was unseen and unsuspected by me.

I called him to me and rewarded him with a caress. He was overjoyed to
note that I had apparently understood him. I now made haste to seek out
Barrel Brow. He was surprised to feel my salutation. In a moment or so I
had told him all. Nor was he slow in detecting my excitement. He, no
doubt, felt that in the changed character of my handwriting.

“Calm thyself, little baron,” he wrote. “The wise Bulger has told thee
the truth. Thy life is in danger. I had resolved to send for thee this
very day to warn thee of it: to bid thee quit the land of the Formifolk
in all haste, for the notion has spread among our people that it was the
dancing spectre at thy heels which caused the death of the gentle
Pouting Lip, who disappeared so mysteriously the other day. I therefore
counsel thee that thou make ready at once and quit our city to-morrow
before the clocks rouse the people from their sleep.”

I thanked Barrel Brow, and promised that I would heed his advice,
although I confessed to him that I would fain have bided a few weeks
longer, there were so many things in and about the wonderful City of
Silver that I had not seen. But I owed it to the dear hearts of my own
world to take the best care of my life, insignificant though it might
appear to me.

Then, again, I felt that it would be madness to attempt to reason with
the Soodopsies. To them the dancing spectre at my heels was a real being
of flesh and blood, although they had not been able to seize him, and it
was really natural for them to suspect that we had made away with
Pouting Lip.

Calling out to Bulger to follow me, I left Barrel Brow’s home, resolved
to make one more round of the wonderful city, and then pack up some food
and clothing and be all ready for a start before the clocks began their
tapping.

I should explain, dear friends, that, as happens in all cities, the
people of this one imagined at times that they hadn’t quite elbow room
enough, and hence they surveyed other chambers, and set up new
candelabra within them, in order to chase the cold and dampness away,
and make them fit for human habitations.

In the last one which they had in this way annexed to their fair city,
fitting it with a silver doorway and tiling the floor with polished
plates of the same beautiful metal, they had discovered a hard mound
apparently of rock in one corner, and had resolved that they would come
some day with their drills and picks and begin the task of removing this
mound.

A strange inclination came upon me to visit this new chamber in order to
inspect the work of these eyeless workmen, and see how far they had
proceeded with their task of transforming a cold and rocky vault into a
bright, warm, healthy habitation.

Imagine my surprise to hear Bulger utter a low growl as we reached the
entrance, and I put out my hand to swing the door open, for the
Soodopsies were not at work there that day, and the place was as silent
as a tomb.

Glancing through the grating, a sight met my gaze which caused my flesh
to creep and my hair to stiffen. What think ye was it? Why, the mound in
the corner was rocking and swaying, and from underneath one end issued a
loud and angry hissing. I’m no coward, if I do say it myself, but this
was just a little too much for ordinary or even extraordinary flesh to
bear without flinching. I staggered back with a suppressed cry of
horror, and was upon the point of breaking into a mad flight, when the
thought flashed through my mind that the door was securely fastened, and
that there would be no danger in my taking another look at the terrible
monster thus caged in this chamber.

A great snake-like head was now lifted from beneath one edge of the
mound, on the end of a long, swaying neck. Its great round eyes, big as
an ox’s, stared with a dull, cold, glassy look from wall to wall, and
then, with an awful outburst of hissing, the whole mound was suddenly
raised upon four great legs, thick as posts, and ending in terrible
claws, and borne rocking and swaying into the centre of the chamber.

What was this terrible monster, and where had it come from?

Why, I saw through it all now at a glance. It was a gigantic tortoise,
eight feet long by five wide, at least, and once an inhabitant of the
upper world. Thousands and thousands of years ago, by the coming of the
awful fields of ice, it had been forced to fly from certain death by
crawling down into these underground caverns. Here, chilled and numbed
by the dampness and cold, it had fallen asleep, and would have continued
to sleep on for other ages to come, had not the industrious Formifolk
lighted the clusters of burning jets of gas in the monster’s bedroom.
Gradually the warmth had penetrated the roof of shell made thicker by
earth and layers of broken rock, which the tooth of time had dropped
upon it, and reached his great heart, and set it beating again slowly,
very slowly, but faster and faster, until he really felt that he had
awakened from his long sleep.

By a terrible misfortune, Pouting Lip, the gentle Soodopsy, had happened
to be left behind when his brother laborers quit work, and the new
silver doors of the chamber had been closed upon him.

Oh, it was terrible to think of, but true it must have been—the poor
little Soodopsy, shut in by his own eyeless folk in this chamber, which
he was helping to beautify by his patient skill, had served to satisfy
the hunger of this awful monster, after his long ages of fasting.

But why, you ask, dear friends, was all this not discovered when the
Great Circle had been formed, and the search was made for him? Simply
because the monster, after devouring the lost Soodopsy, retreated to his
nest and drew the dirt and crumbled rock up around him with his gigantic
flippers, and went to sleep again, as all gorged reptiles do, so that
when the searchers entered the new chamber all was as they had left it,
the mound of rock, as they had supposed it to be, in the corner
undisturbed.

With Bulger at my heels I now turned and ran with such mad haste to
Barrel Brow’s, that the whole city was thrown into the wildest disorder,
for, of course, they had felt me fly past them.

With all the quickness I could command, I wrote an account of what I had
witnessed, and when Barrel Brow communicated it to the assembled
Soodopsies, a thousand hands flew into the air, in token of mingled
fright and wonder, and a wild rush was made for Bulger and me, and we
were well-nigh smothered with kisses and caresses.

The moment the excitement had quieted down a little, a Great Circle was
immediately formed, and I was honored with a place in it, and when my
tablet was passed about, a thousand hands made signs of assent.

My plan was a simple one: it was to make a pipe connection between
Uphaslok and the new chamber, and to turn the deadly vapor into the
sleeping apartment of the gigantic monster. In this manner his despatch
would be a happy one, merely a beginning of another one of his long
naps, so far as he would know any thing about it.

This was done at once, care first being taken to make the doors of the
new chamber perfectly air tight. I was the first to enter the cavern
after the execution of the monster, and found, to my delight, that my
estimate of his length and width was correct almost to an inch.

I always had a wonderful eye for dimension and distances.

Seeing Bulger raising himself upon his hind legs, and make an effort to
dislodge something from the wall, I drew near to assist him.

Alas! it was dear, gentle, Pouting Lip’s tablet. He had been writing
upon it, and as the terrible monster advanced upon him, he had reached
up and hung it upon a silver pin on the wall. When the Soodopsies read
what their poor brother had written, there they all sat down and wrung
their hands in silent but awful grief: it ran as follows:—

“O my people! why have ye abandoned me? The air trembles; the whole
place is filled with suffocating odor. Must I die? Alas, I fear it! and
yet I would so love to feel my dear ones’ touches once more! The ground
trembles; a stifling breath is puffed into my face; I am wearied, almost
fainting, by trying to escape it. I can write no more. Don’t grieve too
long over me. It was my fault. I stayed behind, when I should have
followed. Oh, horrible, horrible! Farewell! I’m going now. A loving
touch to all—farewell!”

After waiting a few days for the grief of the Formifolk to lighten a
little, I asked them to send a number of their most skilful workmen to
assist me in removing the magnificent shell from the dead monster whose
body was fed to the fishes. They not only did this, but they also
offered to transform the shell into a beautiful boat for me, so that
when I resolved to bid them adieu, I might sail away from the City of
Silver and not be obliged to trudge along the Marble Highway. The work
went on apace. At first the polishers began their task, and in a few
days the mighty carapace glowed like a lady’s comb. Then the dainty and
cunning craftsmen in silver began their part of the work, and ere many
days the shell was fitted with a silver prow curiously wrought, like a
swan’s neck and head, while quaintly carved trimmings ran here and
there, and a dainty pair of silver sculls with a silver rudder,
beautifully chased, from which ran two little silken ropes, were added
to the outfit. I never had seen anything half so rich and rare, and I
was as proud of it as a young king of his throne before he finds it is
so much like my ship of shell.

At last the day came when I was to bid the gentle Soodopsies a long
farewell.

They lined the shore as Bulger and I proceeded to take our place in the
bark of shell which sat upon the water like a thing of life.

It was with a great show of dignity that Bulger took his position in the
stern with the tiller-ropes in his mouth, ready to pull on either side
as I might direct; and setting the silver oars in place, I threw my
weight upon them, and away we glided, swiftly and noiselessly, over the
surface of the dark and sluggish stream.

In a few moments nothing but a faint glimmer was left to remind us of
the wonderful City of Silver, where the silent Formifolk live and love
and labor without ever a thought that human beings could be any happier
than they. Dear, happy folk, they have solved a mighty problem which we
of the upper world are still struggling over.



                              CHAPTER XXI

  HOW WE WERE LIGHTED ON OUR WAY DOWN THE DARK AND SILENT
    RIVER.—SUDDEN AND FIERCE ONSLAUGHT UPON OUR BEAUTIFUL BOAT OF
    SHELL.—A FIGHT FOR LIFE AGAINST TERRIBLE ODDS, AND HOW BULGER
    STOOD BY ME THROUGH IT ALL.—COLD AIR AND LUMPS OF ICE.—OUR ENTRY
    INTO THE CAVERN WHENCE THEY CAME.—THE BOAT OF SHELL COMES TO THE
    END OF ITS VOYAGE.—SUNLIGHT IN THE WORLD WITHIN A WORLD, AND ALL
    ABOUT THE WONDERFUL WINDOW THROUGH WHICH IT POURED, AND THE
    MYSTERIOUS LAND IT LIGHTED.


I dare say, dear friends, that you are puzzling your brains to think out
how it was possible for me to row away from the wonderful city of the
Formifolk without running our boat continually ashore. Ah, you forget
that the keen-eyed Bulger was at the helm, and that it was not the first
time that he had piloted me through darkness impenetrable to my eyes;
but more than this: I soon discovered that the plashing of my silver
oars kept my little friends, the fire lizards, in a constant state of
alarm, and although I couldn’t hear the crackling of their tails, yet
the tiny flashes of light served to outline the shore admirably. So I
pulled away with a will, and down this dark and silent river, for there
was a current, although hardly perceptible, Bulger and I were borne
along in the beautiful bark of tortoise shell with its prow of carved
and burnished silver.

During my sojourn in the Land of the Soodopsies I had one day, while
calling upon the learned Barrel Brow, noticed a beautifully carved
silver hand-lamp of the Pompeian pattern among his curiosities. I asked
him if he knew what it was. He replied that he did, adding that it had
doubtless been brought from the upper world by his people, and he begged
me to accept it as a keepsake. I did so, and upon leaving the City of
Silver, I filled it with fish-oil and fitted a silken wick to it. It was
well that I had done so, for after a while the fire lizards disappeared
entirely, and Bulger and I would have been left in total darkness, had I
not drawn forth my beautiful silver lamp, lighted it, and suspended it
from the beak of the silver swan which curved its graceful neck above
the bow of our boat.

After lying on my oars long enough to set some food before Bulger and
partake of some myself, I again started on my voyage down the silent
river, no longer shrouded in impenetrable gloom.

I had not taken over half a dozen strokes, when suddenly one of my oars
was almost twisted out of my hand by a vicious tug, from some inhabitant
of these dark and sluggish waters. I resolved to quicken my stroke in
order to escape another such a wrench, for the silver oars fashioned by
the Soodopsies for me were of very delicate make, intended only for very
gentle usage. Suddenly another vicious snap was made at my other oar;
and this time the animal succeeded in retaining its hold, for I dared
not attempt to wrench the oar out of its grip, for fear of breaking it.
It was a large crustacean of the crab family, and its milk-white shell
gave it a ghost-like look as it struggled about in the black waters,
fiercely intent to keep its hold upon the oar. The next instant a
similar creature had fastened firmly upon my other oar, and there I sat
utterly helpless. But worse than this, the dark waters were now fairly
alive with these white armored guards of this underworld stream, each
apparently bent upon setting an immediate end to my progress through
their domain. They now began a series of furious efforts to lay hold of
the sides of my boat with their huge claws, but happily its polished
surface made this impossible for them to accomplish.

Up to this moment Bulger had not stirred a muscle or uttered a sound,
but now a sharp growl from him told me that something serious had
happened at his end of the boat. It was serious indeed, for several of
the largest of the fierce crustaceans had laid hold of the rudder and
were wrenching it from side to side as if to tear it off. Every attempt
of course caused a tug at the tiller-ropes held between Bulger’s teeth;
but, bracing himself firmly, he resisted their furious efforts as well
as he could, and succeeded in saving the rudder for the time being.

All of a sudden our frail bark of shell crashed into some sort of
obstruction, and came to a dead standstill. Peering into the darkness,
to my horror I saw that the wily enemy had spanned the river with chains
made up of living links by each laying hold of his neighbor’s claw, the
chain thus formed being then rendered almost as strong as steel by the
interweaving of their double rows of small hooked legs.

Our advance was not only blocked, but death, an awful death, seemed to
be staring us in the face; for what possible hope of escape could there
be if Bulger and I should leap into the water, now alive with these fast
swimming creatures, whirling their huge claws about in search for some
way to get at us. From the brave manner in which Bulger was holding the
madly swinging helm, I saw that he was determined not to surrender. But
alas, bravery is but a sorry thing for two to fight a thousand with! And
yet I had not lost my head—don’t think that. True, I was hard pressed;
the very dust of the balance, if thicker on their side, might make my
scale kick the beam.

I had hauled both oars into the boat by reaching over and beating off
the claws fastened upon them, and had up to this moment driven back
every one of the fierce creatures which had succeeded in throwing one of
his claws over the edge of the boat; but now, to my horror, I felt that
our little craft was being slowly but surely drawn stern first toward
the river bank. In order to accomplish this, the crustaceans had thrown
out a line composed of their bodies gripped together, and had made it
fast to the rudder. Not an instant was to be lost!

Once upon the river bank, the fierce creatures would swarm around us by
the tens of thousands, drag us down, pinch us to death, and tear us
piecemeal!

[Illustration: SAILING AWAY FROM THE LAND OF THE SOODOPSIES.]

An idea flashed upon me—it was this: it is folly to attempt to resist
these countless swarms of crustaceans by the use of one pair of weak
hands, even though they be aided by Bulger’s keen and willing teeth. We
should, after a brief struggle, go down as the brave man in the sewer
went down, when the famished rats leaped upon him from every side at
once, or as the stray buffalo goes down when the pack of ravenous wolves
closes up its circle about him. If I am to save my life, it must be by
striking a blow that will reach every one of these small but fierce
enemies at the same instant, and thus paralyze them, or, at least,
bewilder them, until I can succeed in making my escape!

Quickly drawing my brace of pistols, I held their muzzles close to the
water, and discharged them at the same instant. The effect was terrific.
Like a crash of a terrible thunderbolt, the report burst forth and
echoed through these vast and silent chambers, until it seemed as if the
great vaulted roof of rock had by some awful convulsion of nature been
cast roaring and rattling down upon the face of these black and sluggish
waters! When the smoke had cleared away, a strange but welcome sight met
my gaze. Tens of thousands of the huge crabs floated lifeless upon the
surface of the river, with their shells split by the concussion the full
length of their bodies.

It proved to have been a masterly stroke on my part, and, dear friends,
you will believe me when I tell you that I drew a deep breath as I set
my silver oars against the thole-pins, and, having worked my boat clear
of the swarms of stunned crustaceans, rowed away for dear life!

Dear life! Ah, yes, dear life, for whose life is not dear to him, even
though it be dark and gloomy at times? Is there not always something, or
some one, to live for? Is there not always a glimmer of hope that the
morrow’s sun will go up brighter than it did this morning? Well, anyway,
I repeat that I rowed away for dear life, while Bulger held the
tiller-ropes and kept our frail bark of polished shell in the middle of
the stream.

Whether the air was actually colder, or whether it was merely the
natural chill that so often strikes the human heart after it has been
beating and throbbing with alternate hope and fear, I couldn’t say at
the time; but I knew this much, that I suddenly found myself suffering
from the cold.

For the first time since my descent into the World within a World, the
air nipped my finger-tips; that soft, balmy, June-like atmosphere was
gone, and I made haste to put on my fur-trimmed top-coat, which I had
not made much use of lately.

At that moment one of my oars struck against some hard substance
floating in the waters. I put out my hand to feel of it. To my great
surprise it proved to be a lump of ice, and very soon another and
another went floating by us.

We were most surely entering a region where it was cold enough to make
ice. I was not sorry for this; for, to tell the truth, Bulger and I were
both beginning to feel the effects of our long sojourn in the rocky
chambers of this under world, whose atmosphere, though soft and warm,
yet lacked the elasticity of the open air.

Ice caverns would be a complete change, and the cold air would, no
doubt, send our blood tingling through our veins just as if we were out
a-sleighing in the upper world on a winter’s night, when the stars
twinkle over our heads and the snow crystals creak beneath our runners.

Soon now huge icicles began to dot the roof of rock that spanned the
river, and shafts and columns of ice dimly visible along the shore
seemed to be standing there like silent sentries, watching our boat as
it threaded its way through the ever-narrowing channel. And now, too, a
faint glow of light reached us from I knew not where, so that by
straining my eyes I could see that the river had taken a sweep, and
entered a vast cavern with roof and walls of ice fretted and carved into
fantastic depths and niches and shelves and cornices, with here and
there shapes so fanciful that it seemed to me I had entered some vast
hall of statuary, where hero and warrior, nymph and maiden, shepherd and
bird-catcher, filled these shelves and niches in glorious array. Farther
advance by water was impossible, for the blocks of ice, knitted together
like a floe, closed the river completely. I therefore determined to make
a landing—draw my boat upon the shore, and continue my journey on foot.

The mysterious light which up to this moment had shed its pale glimmer
like an arctic night upon the roofs and walls of ice of these silent
chambers now began to strengthen so that Bulger and I had no difficulty
in picking our way along the shore. In fact, we crossed and recrossed
the river itself when the whim seized us, for it now went winding on
ahead of us, like a broad ribbon of ice through caverns and corridors.

Suddenly I came to a halt and stood as motionless as the fantastic forms
of ice surrounding me. What could it mean? Were my eyes weakened by my
long sojourn in the World within a World, playing me cruel tricks?
Surely there can be no mistake! I whispered to myself. That light yonder
which pours its glorious effulgence upon those spires and pinnacles,
those towers and turrets of ice, is the sunshine of the upper world! Can
it be that my marvellous underground journey is ended, that I stand upon
the threshold of the upper world once more?

Bulger, too, recognizes this flood of sunshine, and breaking out into a
fit of joyous barking, dashes on ahead, to be the first one to feel its
gentle warmth after our long journey through the dark and silent
passages of the World within a World.

But I dare not trust my eyes, and fearing lest he should fall into some
ambush or meet with some dread accident, I called him back to me.

Together we hurry along as rapidly as possible. Now I note that we are
drawing near to the end of the vast corridor through which we have been
making our way for some time, and that we stand upon the portal of a
mighty subterranean region lighted with real sunlight. It stretches away
as far as the eye can reach, and so high is the roof that spans this
vast under world that I cannot see whether it be of ice or not. All that
I can see is that through one of its sloping sides there streams a
mighty torrent of sunlight, which pours its splendor with unstinting
hand upon the wide highways, the broad terraces, the sheer parapets, and
the sloping banks which diversify this ice world. Can it be that one
side of this mighty mountain which nature has here hollowed out and set
like a peaked roof over this vast subterranean region, is a gigantic
window of ice itself through which the sunlight of the outer world
streams in this grand way like a silent cataract of light, like a deluge
of sunshine? No, this could not be; for now upon a second look I saw
that this flood of light thus streaming through the side of the mountain
came through it like a mighty pencil of rays, and striking the opposite
walls with its brilliancy a hundred-fold increased, rebounded in a
thousand directions, flooding the whole region with its effulgence and
dying away in faint and pearl-like glimmer in the vast approach where I
had first noted it.

And therefore I understood that nature must have set a gigantic lens,
twice a thousand feet or more in diameter, in the sloping side of this
hollow mountain—a perfect lens of purest rock crystal, which, gathering
in its mysterious bosom the sunlight of the outer world, threw
it—intensely radiant and dazzling white—into the gloomy depths of this
World within a World, so that when the sun went up out there, it went up
in here as well, but became cold as it was beautiful, bringing no
warmth, no other cheer save light, to this subterranean region which for
thousands of centuries had lain locked in the crystal embrace of frozen
lakes and brooks and rivers and torrents and waterfalls, once bubbling
and flowing and rushing headlong through fair lands of the upper world,
but suddenly checked in their course by some bursting forth of mighty
pent-up forces, and turned downward into these icy depths condemned to
everlasting rest and silence, their crystals locked in a sleep that
never would know an awaking, mocked in their dreams by this mysterious
sunlight that came with the smile and the fair, winsome look of the
real, and yet was so powerless to set them free as once it did when the
springtime came in the upper world. All these thoughts and many others
besides flitted through my mind as I stood looking up at that mighty
lens in its setting of mightier rock.

And so deeply impressed was I by the sight of such a great flood of
sunlight pouring through this gigantic bull’s eye which nature had set
in the rocky side of the hollow mountain peak and illumining this under
world, that the longer I gazed upon the wonderful spectacle the more
firmly inthralled my senses became by it.

The deep silence, the deliciously pure air, the ever-varying tints of
the light as the mighty ice columns acting the part of prisms, literally
filled those vast chambers with the rainbow’s glorious glow, imparted
unto the spell resting upon me such unearthly power that it might have
held me there until my limbs hardened into icy crystals and my eyes
looked out with a frozen stare, had not the ever-watchful Bulger given a
gentle tug at the skirt of my coat and aroused me from my inthralling
meditation.



                              CHAPTER XXII

  THE PALACE OF ICE IN THE GOLDEN SUNLIGHT, AND WHAT I IMAGINED IT
    MIGHT CONTAIN.—HOW WE WERE HALTED BY A COUPLE OF QUAINTLY CLAD
    SENTINELS.—THE KOLTYKWERPS.—HIS FRIGID MAJESTY KING GELIDUS.—MORE
    ABOUT THE ICE PALACE, TOGETHER WITH A DESCRIPTION OF THE
    THRONE-ROOM.—OUR RECEPTION BY THE KING AND HIS DAUGHTER
    SCHNEEBOULE.—BRIEF MENTION OF BULLIBRAIN, OR LORD HOT HEAD.


Scarcely had I advanced a hundred yards beyond the portal where I had
halted when happening to turn my eyes to the other side, a sight met
them which sent a thrill of wonder and delight through my form. There
upon the highest terrace stood a palace of ice, its slender minarets,
its high-lifted towers, its rounded turrets, its spacious platform, and
its broad flights of steps all glittering in the sunlight as if
gem-studded and jewel-set.

It was a spectacle to stir the most indifferent heart, let alone one so
full of ardor and buoyancy as mine. But ah, dear friends, even admitting
that I can succeed in awakening in your minds even a faint conception of
the beauty of this ice palace, as the sunlight fell full upon it at that
moment, how can I ever hope to give you an idea of the unearthly beauty
of this palace of ice and its glorious surroundings when the moon went
up in the outer world at a later hour and its pale, mysterious light was
poured through the mighty lens in the mountain side, and fell with
celestial shimmer upon these walls of ice?

But the one thought that oppressed me now was: Can this beautiful abode
be without a tenant, without a living soul within its wonderful halls
and chambers? Or, may not its dwellers, overtaken by the pitiless cold,
sit with wide-opened eyes and icy glare, stark as marble in chairs of
ice, white frosted hair pressed against icy cushions, and hands
stiffened around crystal cups filled with frozen wine of topaz hue,
while the harper’s fingers cling cramped to the wires stiff as the wires
themselves, and the last tones of the singer’s voice lie in feathery
crystals of frozen breath white at his feet?

Come what may, I resolved to lift the crystal knocker that might hang on
the outer door of this palace of ice and awaken the castellan, if his
slumber were not that of death. In a few moments I had crossed the level
space between me and the first terrace, which it would be necessary for
me to scale in order to reach the second and then the third upon which
stood the palace of ice.

Imagine my more than surprise upon finding myself now at the foot of a
magnificent flight of steps, hewn into the ice with a master hand, and
leading to the terrace above.

Springing lightly up this flight with Bulger close at my heels, I
suddenly set eyes upon two of the quaintest-looking human beings that I
ever remembered seeing in all my travels. They looked for all the world
like two big animated snowballs, being clad from top to toe in garments
made of snow-white fleece, their skull-caps likewise of white fur,
leaving only their faces visible. In his right hand each of them carried
a very prettily shaped flint axe, mounted upon a helve of polished bone.

Striding up to me and swinging their axes over my head in altogether too
close proximity to my poll to be particularly pleasant, one of them
cries out,—

“Halt, sir! Unless his frigid Majesty Gelidus, King of the Koltykwerps,
awaits thy coming, his guards will, at a signal from us, roll a few
thousand tons of ice down upon thee if thou darest proceed another step.
Therefore, stand fast and tell us who thou art and whether thou art
expected.”

“Gentlemen,” said I, “kindly lower those axes of yours and I will
convince you that his frigid Majesty hath nothing to dread in me, for I
am none other than the very small but very noble and very famous
Sebastian von Troomp, commonly known as ‘Little Baron Trump.’”

“Never heard of thee in all my life,” said both of the guards as with
one voice.

“But I have of you, gentlemen,” I continued,—for now I recollected what
the learned Don Fum had said about the frozen land of the Koltykwerps,
or Cold Bodies,—“and as proof of my peaceful intent, like a true knight
I now offer you my hand, and beg that you will conduct me into the
presence of his frigid Majesty.”

No sooner had the guard standing next me drawn off his glove and grasped
my hand, than he let it loose again with a cry of fright.

“Zounds! Man, art thou on fire? Why, thy hand burned me like the flame
of a lamp!”

“Why, no, my friend,” said I quietly; “that’s my ordinary temperature.”

“And thy companion?”

“Hath even a warmer heart than I have,” was my reply.

“Well, our word for it, little baron,” exclaimed one of the guards with
a chuckle, “there will be no place for thee except in the meat quarry.
Possibly after thou hast been cooled off for a week or so, his frigid
Majesty will be able to have thee about!”

This was not a very cheerful prospect, for I had no particular desire to
be laid away in the royal ice-box for a week or so. Anyway, the only
thing to be done was to insist upon being conducted at once into the
presence of the King of the Koltykwerps, and abide by his decision.

One of the guards having saluted me by presenting his battle-axe in real
military style, faced about and began to ascend the grand staircase with
intent to announce my arrival to his frigid Majesty, while the other
informed me that he would conduct me as far as the perron of the palace.

I was wonderstruck with the beauty of the three staircases leading up to
the ice palace. Massive balustrades with curiously carved balusters
springing from towering pedestals, crowned with beautiful lamps, all,
all, I say, all and everything, to the crystal-clear sides of the lamps
themselves, was fashioned from blocks of ice. It proved to be a good
climb to the top of the third terrace, and I was not put out when the
guard solemnly lowered his battle-axe of flint to bring me to a
standstill.

The sun in the upper world was, no doubt, nearing the horizon, for a
deep and beautiful twilight suddenly sank upon the icy dominions of King
Gelidus, and, to my surprise and delight, through the great slabs of
crystal-clear ice which served for windows to the palace, streamed a
soft radiance as if a thousand wax tapers were burning in the chambers
and galleries in-doors. It was a sight to gladden the eyes of any
mortal; but if I had been spellbound by the beauty of its exterior, how
shall I tell you, dear friends, of the curious splendor of the interior
of Gelidus’ palace of ice, as it burst upon me when I had crossed its
threshold?

Hallway led into hallway, chamber opened into chamber, through portals
gracefully arched, and winding staircases climbed to upper rooms, while
hanging from lofty ceilings or resting on graceful pedestals, were a
thousand alabaster lamps, shedding light and perfume upon this glorious
home of his frigid Majesty Gelidus, King of the Koltykwerps. Long rows
of retainers, all in snow-white fur, lined the wide hallway, as the
guards conducted Bulger and me into the palace and bowed in silence as
we passed.

To my more than wonder, I saw that the inner rooms were most sumptuously
furnished, chairs and divans being scattered here and there, all covered
with superb skins of white fur, while the floor, too, was carpeted with
them, and as the soft radiance of the alabaster lamps fell upon these
magnificent pelts and set ten thousand jewels in the walls and ceilings
of ice, I was ready to admit that I had never seen anything half so
beautiful. And yet I was still outside the throne-room of his frigid
Majesty!

At length we came to one end of a broad hallway which seemed shut off
from the rest of the palace by a wall thickly incrusted with strings of
great diamonds, each as big as a goose-egg, extending from the ceiling
to the floor, and turning back the shimmer of the lamps with such a
flood of crystalline radiance that my eyes involuntarily closed before
it.

Think of my amazement when the two guards, laying hold of this wall of
jewels, as I deemed it, drew it to the right and left till there was
room for me to pass. What I had taken for a wall of jewels was but a
curtain made up of round bits of ice strung upon strings and hanging
like a shower of diamonds there before me, as they glittered in the
light of the lamps each side of them.

I now stood in the throne-room of his frigid Majesty, the King of the
Koltykwerps. Now I realized that what I had seen elsewhere in his palace
of ice was in reality but a sample of its magnificence, for here the
splendor of King Gelidus’ castle burst upon me in its fullest strength.
Imagine a great round chamber lighted with the soft flames of perfumed
oil, streaming from a hundred alabaster lamps, the walls lined with
broad divans covered with snow-white pelts, the floors thickly carpeted
with the same glorious rugs, while on one side, glittering in the
shimmer of the hundred massive lamps, stands the icy throne of the King
of the Koltykwerps, decked with snow-white skins, and he upon it, with
Schneeboule, his fair daughter, sitting at his feet, and all around and
about him, group-wise, a hundred Koltykwerps, the king, the princess,
and the courtiers all clad in skins whiter than the driven snow, and
you, dear friends, will have some faint idea of the splendor of the
scene which burst upon me as the two guards drew aside the strands of
ice jewels at the end of the hallway in the palace of ice!

Like all his subjects, King Gelidus looked out through the round window
of his fur hood, just as a big good-natured boy does through his
skating-cap.

[Illustration: THE BATTLE FOR LIFE WITH THE WHITE CRABS.]

The Koltykwerps were not much taller than I, but were very stocky built,
so that when broadened out by their thick fur suits they really took on
at times the appearance of animated snowballs. It would be hard for the
fingers of the deftest hand to draw faces fuller of kindliness and good
nature than those of the Koltykwerps. Their small, honest gray eyes
sparkled with a boniform glint, and so broad were their smiles that they
were only about half visible through the round holes of their fur hoods.
I was delighted with them from the very start, and the more so when I
heard King Gelidus cry out in a cheery voice: “A right crisp and cold
welcome to our icy court, little baron; but from what our people tell
us, thou carriest a pair of hands so hot that we beg thee to take a few
days to cool off before thou touchest palms with any of the Koltykwerps,
and we also beg thee to be careful and not to lean against any of our
richly carved panels, or to slide down any of our highly polished
railings, or to handle the strands of our jewels, or sit down for any
length of time on the front steps of our palace. And we make the same
request of thy four-footed companion, who is said to be of even a warmer
disposition than thou.”

I bowed and kissed my hand to his frigid Majesty, and assured him that I
should make every effort to lower my temperature as speedily as
possible, and, in the mean time, that I should be extremely careful not
to come into contact with any of the artistic carving of his palace of
ice.

As I pronounced these words, the whole company began to clap their
hands; and as they did so, a cold shiver ran down my back, for there was
a sound, methought, very much like the rattling of dry bones to that
applause, but I took good care not to let King Gelidus notice my fright.

His frigid Majesty now presented me to his daughter Schneeboule, a
pretty little maid of about sixteen crystal winters, with cheeks round
as apples, and as deeply dimpled as the furrows of a cross-bun. Her eyes
twinkled as she looked upon Bulger and me, and turning to her frigid
papa, she asked for leave to touch the tip end of my thumb, which being
done, she gave a squeaky little scream and began to blow on her tiny
finger as if I had blistered it.

King Gelidus also presented me to several of his court favorites, all
men of the coldest blood in the nation. Their names were Jellikin,
Phrostyphiz, Icikul, and Glacierbhoy. They were all dreadfully slow
thinkers when you questioned them very closely upon any subject.

It didn’t take me very long to discover this. In fact, they requested me
to be less warm in my manner, and not to ask them any posers, as they
invariably found that deep thought caused a rise in their temperature.

This was, to be honest about it, very annoying to me; for you know, dear
friends, what a loadstone my mind is, never asleep, always in a quiver
like a mariner’s compass, pointing this way and that, in search of the
polar star of wisdom.

Upon making known my trouble to his frigid Majesty, King Gelidus, he
most gracefully ordered one of his trusty attendants to conduct me to
the triple walled ice-cell of a certain Koltykwerp by the name of
Bullibrain, that is, literally, “Boiling Brain,” a man who had been born
with a hot head, and consequently with a very active brain. For fifty
years King Gelidus had been doing his very best to refrigerate this
subject of his, but without success. As I was just bursting with
impatience to ask a whole string of questions concerning the
Koltykwerps, you may imagine how delighted I was to make the
acquaintance of Bullibrain, or Lord Hot Head as he was called among the
Koltykwerps; but, dear friends, you must excuse me if I make this the
end of a chapter and stop here for a brief rest.



                             CHAPTER XXIII

  LORD HOT HEAD AGAIN, AND, THIS TIME A FULLER ACCOUNT OF HIM.—HIS
    WONDROUS TALES CONCERNING THE KOLTYKWERPS: WHERE THEY CAME FROM,
    WHO THEY WERE, AND HOW THEY MANAGED TO LIVE IN THIS WORLD OF
    ETERNAL FROST.—THE MANY QUESTIONS I PUT TO HIM, AND HIS ANSWERS IN
    FULL.


Lord Bullibrain was never allowed to set foot inside the palace of ice.
King Gelidus, backed by the opinion of his favorites, still indulged the
belief that he would be able in the end to refrigerate him. True, he had
been many years at the task, so that it had now become a sort of hobby
of his, and almost daily did his frigid Majesty pay a visit to his
hot-headed subject and test his temperature by pressing a small ball of
ice against his temples. To King Gelidus’ mind, a man of so high a
temperature was a continual menace to the peace and quiet of his
kingdom. What if Lord Hot Head in a dream should wander forth some night
and fall asleep with his back against one of the walls of the ice
palace? Might he not melt away enough of it to throw the whole glorious
fabric into a slump and slush of débris? It was terrible to think of,
when he did think of it, and he thought of it quite often.

But Bullibrain had no terrors for me, nor for Bulger either; in fact,
Bulger was delighted to be stroked by a warm hand, and he and Bullibrain
and I soon became the very best of friends; but his frigid Majesty was
so alarmed when he heard of this friendship, that he was seized with
quite a spasm of warmth, for, thought he, the united heat of three hot
heads might work some terrible harm to the welfare of his people. So he
issued the coldest kind of a decree carved on a tablet of ice, that
Bullibrain and I should on no one day pass more than a half-hour
together; that we should never touch palm to palm, sleep in the same
room, eat from the same dish, or sit on the same divan.

These regulations were annoying, but I followed them to the letter; and
when King Gelidus saw how careful I was to yield the strictest obedience
to his decree, he conceived a genuine affection for me and sent several
magnificent pelts to the ice-house, which had been assigned to Bulger
and me, for, of course, it would not have been safe for us to lodge in
the palace itself, but his frigid Majesty held out the flattering
prospect that the very moment Bulger and I should become properly
refrigerated, apartments in the palace would be assigned to us, and, in
fact, that I should be permitted to eat at the royal table.

Who are the Koltykwerps? Where did these strange folk come from? How did
they ever find their way down into this World of Eternal Frost? And,
above all, where do they get their food and clothing from? These were a
few of the questions which I was so impatient to have answered that my
temperature was raised a whole degree, and I was obliged to sleep with
only one single pelt between me and my divan of crystal ice.

For a man bred and born in so cold a country as the land of the
Koltykwerps, Bullibrain had an extremely quick and active mind. On
account of his rapid heart-beat, and the consequent high temperature of
his body, he was not able to do his writing on slabs of ice as other
learned Koltykwerps had done, for it would not have been a pleasant
thing for him to see a poem which he had just finished literally melt
away in his hands, without so much as leaving an ink-stain behind, so he
had been obliged, with King Gelidus’ permission, to do his writing on
thin tablets of alabaster.

Before he began to talk to me about the progenitors of the Koltykwerps,
he showed me a map of the country in the upper world once inhabited by
them, and traced for me the course they had sailed upon abandoning that
country, and described the beautiful shores they had landed upon in
their search for a new home. I saw at a glance that it was Greenland
which Bullibrain was thus unconsciously describing; and knowing as I did
that in past ages Greenland had been a land of blue skies, warm winds,
green meadows, and fertile valleys, before moving mountains of ice came
down from the North and crushed all life out of it, I listened with
breathless interest to his wonderful tales of its beautiful lakes,
nestled at the foot of vine-clad mountains, all of which Bullibrain now
looked upon in fair visions inherited from his ancestors. And I also
knew that it must have been the Arctic Ocean which had been traversed by
the ships of the Koltykwerps, who had then landed upon the, in those
days, sunny shores of Northern Russia.

But the mountains of ice could sail too, and they followed the fleeing
Koltykwerps like mighty monsters, dashing themselves with terrible roar
and crash upon the peaceful shores, which they soon transformed into a
wilderness of berg, of glacier, and of floe.

Only a handful of the Koltykwerps survived; and these, in their dumb
despair taking refuge in the clefts and caverns of the North Urals,
could from their hiding-places look upon one of the strangest sights
that had ever greeted human eyes. So rapid had been the advance of these
mighty masses of ice, crashing against the mountain sides and rending
the very rocks in their fury, that the air gave up its warmth, and the
sun was powerless to give it back again. The animals of the wild wood
and the beasts of the field, overtaken in their flight, perished as they
ran and stood there stark and stiff, with heads uptossed and muscles
knotted. Them by the thousands and ten times thousands the crushed
crystals of the pursuing floods caught up like moss and leaves in a
mountain torrent and packed in every cave and cavern on the way, tearing
broader and loftier portals into these subterranean chambers, so that
they might do their work the better!

“And these, then, O Bullibrain, are your meat quarries,” I exclaimed,
“whence ye draw your daily food?”

“Even so, little baron,” replied the hot-headed Koltykwerp, “and not
only our food, but the skins which serve us so admirably for clothing in
this cold, under ground world, and the oil, too, which burns in our
beautiful alabaster lamps, besides a hundred other things, such as bone
for helves and handles, horn for needles and buttons and eating
utensils, wool for the weaving of our under-garments, and magnificent
pelts of bear and seal and walrus, which, laid upon our benches and
divans of crystal ice, transform them into beds and couches which even
an inhabitant of thy world might envy.”

“But, O Bullibrain,” I cried out, “have ye not almost exhausted these
supplies? Will not death from starvation soon stare ye all in the face
in these deep and icy caverns of the under world, visited by the sun’s
light yet unwarmed by it?”

“Nay, little baron,” answered Bullibrain with a smile almost as warm as
one of my own; “let not that thought give thee a moment’s alarm, for we
have as yet barely raised the lid of this ice-box of nature’s packing.
We are not large eaters any way,” continued Lord Hot Head, “for while it
is true that we are not indolent people, for his frigid Majesty’s palace
and our dwellings need constant repair, and new hatchets and axes must
be chipped out in the flint quarries and new lamps carved and new
garments woven, yet it is also true that we take life rather easy. We
have no enemies to slay, no quarrels to settle, no gold to fight over,
no land to drive our fellow-creatures from and fence in; nor can we be
ill, if we were willing to be, for in this pure, cold, crisp air disease
would try in vain to sow her poison germs; hence, needing no doctors, we
have none, as we have no lawyers either, or merchants to sell us what
belongs to us already. His frigid Majesty is an excellent king. I never
read of a better one. I doubt that his like exists in the upper world.
Always cool headed, no thought of conquest, no dreams of power, no
longings for empty pomp and show ever enter his mind. Since the day his
father died and we set the great Koltykwerp crown of crystal ice upon
his cool brow, his temperature has never risen but a half a degree, and
that was only for a brief hour or so, and was occasioned by a mad
proposal of one of his councillors, who claimed that he had discovered
an explosive compound, something like the gunpowder of thy world, I
fancy, by which he could shatter the glorious window of rock crystal set
in the mountain dome of our under world and let in the warm sunshine.”

“Did his frigid Majesty Gelidus put this daring Koltykwerp to death?” I
asked.

“Oh, dear, no,” replied Bullibrain; “he merely ordered him to be
refrigerated for so many hours a day until all his feverish projects had
been chilled to death; for no doubt, little baron, a man of thy deep
learning knows full well that all the ills which thy world suffers from
are the children of fevered brains, of minds made restless and visionary
by the high temperature of the blood which gallops through the
approaches to the dome of thought, stirring up wild dreams and visions
as thy sun lifts the poisonous vapor from the stagnant pool.”

The more I listened to Bullibrain the more I liked him. The fact of the
matter is, I preferred to sit in his narrow cell with its plain walls of
ice lighted up by a single alabaster lamp and converse with him to
loitering in the splendid throne-room of his frigid Majesty King
Gelidus; but Bulger had discovered that the pelts of Princess
Schneeboule’s divan were much thicker, softer, and warmer than the
single one allowed Lord Hot Head, and therefore he preferred spending
his time with her; but fearing lest he might get into mischief, I didn’t
dare to leave him alone with the princess too long at a time.



                              CHAPTER XXIV

  SOME FEW THINGS CONCERNING THE DEAR LITTLE PRINCESS SCHNEEBOULE.—HOW
    SHE AND I BECAME FAST FRIENDS, AND HOW ONE DAY SHE CONDUCTED
    BULGER AND ME INTO HER FAVORITE GROTTO TO SEE THE LITTLE MAN WITH
    THE FROZEN SMILE.—SOMETHING ABOUT HIM.—WHAT CAME OF MY HAVING
    LOOKED UPON HIM QUITE FULLY DESCRIBED.


At the time of Bulger’s and my arrival in the land of the Koltykwerps
the Princess Schneeboule was about fifteen years of age, and I must say
that rarely had it been my good fortune to make the acquaintance of such
a sweet-tempered, lovable little creature. She flitted about the ice
palace like a beam of sunlight, and there was nothing of the spoiled
child about her, although a bit mischievous at times.

Her voice was as full of music as a skylark’s, and it was not many days
before she and I had become the best friends in the world.

Now, you must know, dear friends, that according to the law of the
Koltykwerps, a princess is left absolutely free to choose her own
husband, and his frigid Majesty was very anxious that Schneeboule should
pick hers out as soon as possible. Moreover, the law of the land gave
her perfect freedom to choose a husband of high or low degree, provided
he was young enough. The way in which a Koltykwerp princess was required
to make known her preference was to press a kiss upon the cheek of the
young man whom she might settle upon. This ennobled him at once, and he
became the heir apparent to the throne of ice, and entitled to sit on
its steps until he should be crowned king.

Now, his frigid Majesty was delighted to see this friendship spring up
between Schneeboule and me, for he hoped to make use of my influence to
bring her to set the necessary kiss on some youth’s cheek before I took
my departure from the cold Kingdom of the Koltykwerps. I gave him the
word of a nobleman that I would do my best to carry out his wishes.

With Schneeboule for a guide, Bulger and I often went for walks through
the splendid ice grottos of her father’s kingdom, selecting days when
the sunlight of the outer world poured strongest through the mighty lens
set in the side of the mountain. Then these grottos took on a splendor
that my poor tongue is powerless to describe. Their crystal mazes
glittered as if their walls were set with massive jewels most
wonderfully cut and polished, and as if their ceilings were fretted with
gems so peerless that all the gold of the upper world would fall far
short of paying for them. Here, there, and everywhere the skill of the
Koltykwerps had carved and chiselled graceful flights of steps, broad
landings with majestic columns, and winding corridors lined with long
rows of statues, single and group-wise; and ever and anon the visitor
came upon a terrace where, seated upon a fur-covered divan, he might
look out upon the bewildering beauty of King Gelidus’ icy domains, arch
touching arch and dome springing from dome, while over and above all,
through the gigantic lens in its granite setting, a mile above our
heads, streamed a flood of glorious sunlight, lighting up this World
within a World with a radiance so grand and so complete as to seem to be
a sun of a far greater splendor than the one that warmed the upper world
and bathed it in so many gorgeous hues at morn and eve. Hardly a day
went by now that the princess of the Koltykwerps did not surprise either
Bulger or me with some gift or other.

To tell the truth, dear friends, although my Russian coat was
fur-trimmed, yet I began to feel the need of warmer garments after a
week’s sojourn in the icy domain of King Gelidus, and I think
Schneeboule must have heard my teeth chattering, for one morning, upon
entering the Palace of Ice, I was delighted to be presented with a full
suit of fur precisely similar to the one worn by King Gelidus himself.

Nor was Bulger forgotten by the loving little Princess, for with her own
hands she had knitted him a blanket of the softest wool, which she
belted so snugly around his body and tied so tightly around his neck
that henceforth he felt perfectly comfortable in the chill air of the
home of the Koltykwerps.

One day the Princess Schneeboule said to me,—

“Oh, come, little baron, come to my favorite grotto, now that the sun’s
rays are bright within it; there shalt thou see a wonder.”

“A wonder, Princess Schneeboule?”

“Yes, little baron, a wonder,” she repeated: “the Little Man with the
Frozen Smile.”

“Little Man with the Frozen Smile?” I echoed.

“Come and see, come and see, little baron!” cried Schneeboule, hurrying
on ahead.

In a few moments we had reached the grotto and bounded into it with the
Princess leading the way.

Suddenly she halted in front of a magnificent block of crystal ice,
clear as polished glass, and cried out,—

“There, look! There is the Little Man with the Frozen Smile!”

Even now, as the thought of that moment comes over me, I feel something
of the thrill of half fear, half joy, as my eyes fell upon the little
creature shut in that superb block of ice, himself a part of it, himself
its heart, its contents, its mystery. There, in its centre, in easy
posture, with wide opened eyes, and with what might be called a smile
upon its face—that is a glint of kindliness and affection in its strange
eyes with their overhanging brows, sat a small animal of the chimpanzee
race. He had possibly been asleep when the icy flood struck him,
dreaming of beautiful trees bending beneath purple fruit, of cloudless
skies above and a coral beach below, and death had come to him so
quickly that he had become a brother to this block of ice while the
happy dream was still in his thoughts.

[Illustration: THE LITTLE MAN WITH THE FROZEN SMILE.]

It was wonderful, it was more than wonderful! Spellbound by the strange
spectacle, I stood there, I know not how long, with my eyes looking into
his. At last Schneeboule’s voice aroused me:

“Ha! ha!” she laughed; “look, little baron, Bulger is trying to kiss his
poor dead brother.”

In truth, Bulger did have his nose pressed firmly against the block of
ice in his effort to scent the strange animal imprisoned in that crystal
cell—so near, and yet so far beyond the reach of his keen scent.

“Well, little baron,” cried Schneeboule, “did I not speak truly? Have I
not shown thee the Little Man with the Frozen Smile?”

“Indeed thou hast, fair princess,” was my reply; “and I cannot tell thee
how grateful I am to thee for having done so.”

Then, as she plucked me by the sleeve, I pleaded, “Nay, gentle
Schneeboule, not yet, not yet, let me bide a bit longer. The Little Man
with the Frozen Smile seems to beg me not to go. I can almost imagine
that I hear him whisper: ‘O little baron, break open the crystal cell of
my prison and take me with thee back to the world of sunshine, back to
the land of the orange-tree, where the soft warm winds used to rock me
to sleep in the cradle of the swaying boughs, while the wise and
watchful patriarch of our flock stood guard over us all.’”

Schneeboule’s big, round, gray eyes filled with tears at these words.

“Would that he were alive, little baron,” she murmured, “and that I
could give him some of my happiness to pay him back for all the long
years he has been spending in his icy prison.”

In a few moments Schneeboule took me by the hand and led me away from
the great block of ice with its silent prisoner. My heart was very
heavy, and both Schneeboule and Bulger did their utmost to divert me,
but all to no purpose.

Leaving the princess at the portal of the palace, I went to my dwelling
which was ablaze with the soft glow of its alabaster lamps, and there I
found a beautiful new pelt spread over my divan, a new gift from King
Gelidus. But I could take no pleasure in it. My thoughts were all with
the Little Man with the Frozen Smile locked in the icy embrace of that
crystal mould, which, in its cold irony, let him seem to be so free and
unfettered and yet held him in such vise-like grip. After a while I
dismissed my serving people and laid me down for the night with my dear
Bulger nestled against my breast. But I could not sleep. All night long
those strange eyes with their uncanny glint followed me about, pleading
strong but silent for me to come again, for me to soften my heart like a
child of the sunshine that I was, to shatter his crystal dungeon, and
set him loose, to bear him away from the icy domain of the Koltykwerps
out into the warm air of the upper world. What was I dreaming about? Was
he not dead? Had not his spirit left his body thousands and thousands of
years ago? Why should I let such wild thoughts vex my mind? What good
would come of it? None, none whatever. I was a reasonable creature, I
must not give lodgment within my brain to such silly ideas.

The Little Man with the Frozen Smile had been, through almost playful
fate, laid away in a beautiful tomb. I must not disturb it. No doubt in
his lifetime he had been the pet of a noble manor, brought to the
Northland from some sunny clime by master of powerful argosy. Let him
rest in peace. I must not dare to mar the beauty of his crystal tomb, so
gloriously transparent!

I was even sorry that Schneeboule had led me into her beautiful grotto,
and resolved to go thither no more.

What poor weak creatures are we, so fertile in good resolutions and yet
so unfruitful of results, planting whole acres with fair promises, but
when the tender shoots pierce the ground turning our back upon the crop
as if it didn’t belong to us!



                              CHAPTER XXV

  A SLEEPLESS NIGHT FOR BULGER AND ME AND WHAT FOLLOWED IT.—INTERVIEW
    WITH KING GELIDUS.—MY REQUEST AND HIS REPLY.—WHAT ALL TOOK PLACE
    WHEN I LEARNED THAT THE KING AND HIS COUNCILLORS HAD DECIDED NOT
    TO GRANT MY REQUEST.—STRANGE TUMULT AMONG THE KOLTYKWERPS, AND HOW
    HIS FRIGID MAJESTY STILLED IT, AND SOME OTHER THINGS.


Not only had I been unable to sleep, but by my tossing about I had kept
poor dear Bulger awake so that when morning came we both looked haggard
enough. I felt as if I had been through a fit of sickness, and no doubt
he did too. At any rate I had no appetite for the heavy meat diet of the
Koltykwerps, and seeing me refuse my breakfast, Bulger did likewise.

I had promised Schneeboule to come early to the palace, for she had a
number of questions which she wished to ask me concerning the upper
world.

“Good-morning, little baron,” she cried in her sweetest tones as I
entered the throne-room. “Didst sleep well last night on the new pelt
which papa sent thee?” I was about to make a reply when Schneeboule’s
hand coming in contact with mine,—for we had both removed our gloves in
order to shake hands,—she uttered a piercing scream, and drawing back
stood there blowing her breath on her right palm as she exclaimed, again
and again,—

“Firebrand! Firebrand!”

In an instant King Gelidus and a group of his councillors drew near,
and, pulling over their gloves, one after the other laid his hand in
mine.

“Glowing coals!” cried his frigid Majesty.

“Tongue of flame!” roared Phrostyphiz.

“Boiling water!” groaned Glacierbhoy.

“Red hot!” hissed Icikul.

“Thou must leave the palace at once,” half pleaded King Gelidus. “It
would simply he madness for me to permit such a firebrand to remain
within the walls of the royal residence. The intense heat of thy body
would be sure to melt a hole in its walls ere the sun goes down.”

The royal councillors again drew off their gloves and laid hands upon
poor Bulger, when a second alarm, even wilder than the first, was sent
up and we were hastily escorted back to our lodging-house.

No doubt, dear friends, you will be somewhat mystified upon reading
these words, but the explanation is easy: Owing to worriment and lack of
sleep, Bulger and I had awaked in a highly feverish condition, and to
the Koltykwerps we had really seemed to be almost on fire, but our fever
left us toward night; hearing which, King Gelidus sent for us and did
all in his power to entertain us with song and dance, in both of which,
Schneeboule was very skilled. Finding that his frigid Majesty was in
such a rosy humor, if I may be allowed to speak that way of a person
whose face was almost as white as the alabaster lamps over his head, I
determined to ask him for permission to cleave asunder the icy cell of
the Little Man with the Frozen Smile, and ascertain if possible from the
collar, which, made up apparently of gold and silver coin was clasped
around his neck, to whom he had belonged and where his home had been.

No sooner had I proferred my request, than I noticed that the white face
of the royal Gelidus parted with its smile and took on a terribly icy
look.

Methought I could look through the tip of his nose as though an icicle,
and methought, too, that his ears shone in the light of the alabaster
lamps like sheets of crystal ice, and that his voice as he spoke puffed
into my face like the first flakes of a coming snowstorm.

I quickly repented me of my rash action. But it was too late and I
determined to stand by it.

“Little baron,” spoke royal Gelidus in icy tones, “never a heart beat in
a kingly breast that was purer and colder than mine, freer from the
warmth of selfishness, with not a single hot corner for ire or anger to
nestle in, or for weakness or folly to make their hiding-places. For
thousands of years my people have inhabited this icy domain and breathed
this pure cold air, and never yet hath one desired to strike an axe of
flint into the walls of that crystal prison. However, little baron,
there may be some warm corner in my heart wherein cold and limpid wisdom
may not be at home. Therefore, come to me to-morrow for my answer,
meanwhile I’ll take council with the coolest brains and coldest hearts
about me. If they see no harm in thy request, thou mayst crack open the
crystal gates that have for so many centuries shut the manlike creature
in his silent cell, and take him forth in order to study the mystic
words graven on his collar; but upon the strict condition that in
cleaving open his house of crystal my quarry men so apply their wedges
of flint as to break the block into two equal pieces, that when thou
hast read what may be there, the two parts be closed upon the little man
again, edge fitting edge, like a perfect mould, so exactly that to the
eye no sign of line or joint be visible. Dost promise, little baron,
that this shall be as to our royal will, it seems meet that it should
be?”

I promised most solemnly that the crystal cell of the Little Man with
the Frozen Smile should be opened and closed exactly as his frigid
Majesty had directed.

It would be hard for me to tell you, dear friends, how happy I went to
rest that night upon my icy divan, and how as the tiny flame of my
alabaster lamp shed its soft glow upon the walls of ice, I lay there
turning over in my mind the strange and mysterious pleasure which was
soon to fall to my lot when the quarry men of King Gelidus should set
their wedges of flint in this glorious block of ice and cleave it
asunder.

Even Don Fum, Master of Masters, had never dreamed of receiving a
message from the people who lived in the very childhood of the world,
and in anticipation already I enjoyed the splendid triumph which would
be mine when I came to lecture before learned societies upon the
mysterious lettering on the curious collar clasping the neck of the
Little Man with the Frozen Smile.

Imagine my anguish then, dear friends, upon receiving a message from
King Gelidus the next day that his councillors had with one voice
decreed against the opening of the crystal prison which stood in
Schneeboule’s grotto!

I was as if smitten with some sudden and awful ailment. I had never felt
until that moment how keen the tooth of disappointment could be. I
shivered first with a chill that made me brother to the Koltykwerps, and
then I burned with a fever so raging that a wild rumor spread through
Gelidus’ icy domain that I was setting fire to the very walls and roof.
With wild outcries, and faces drawn with nameless dread, the subjects of
his frigid Majesty rushed pell mell up the wide flights of stairs
leading to the palace of ice, and pleaded for the king to show himself.

In cold and frigid majesty, Gelidus walked out upon the platform and
listened to the prayers of his people.

“We shall burn,” they cried; “our beautiful homes will fall about our
ears. These crystal steps will melt away, and all these fair columns and
arches and statues and pedestals will turn to water and empty themselves
into the lower caverns of the earth. The great window of our sky will
fall with awful crash upon our heads, putting an end forever to this
fair domain of crystal splendor. O Gelidus, haste thee, haste thee, ere
it be too late, let the little baron have his way before bitter
disappointment transforms his body and limbs into tongues of flame to
lick up this magnificent palace in a single night, and dash its thousand
alabaster lamps to the ground, a heap of sheards, no fragment matching
its brother fragment, but all a wretched mass of worthless matter!”

King Gelidus and his frosty councillors saw that it would be useless to
attempt to reason with the people, and therefore turning toward them, he
coldly waved his chilly right hand, and with an icy smile spoke frostily
as follows,—

“Go, Koltykwerps to your homes, and be happy. What think you, have I a
heated brain, doth my heart steam with foolishness, that you should
think me capable of wishing harm to the tiniest Koltykwerp that spins
his top of ice in my fair kingdom? Go to your homes, I say; the little
baron is already cooling off, for he hath my full consent to cleave
asunder the crystal prison of the Little Man with the Frozen Smile.
There is nothing be frightened about, my children. So eat hearty suppers
and sleep soundly to-night, for my royal word for it, by to-morrow
morning the little baron will cease to be the least bit dangerous to the
peace and welfare of our icy kingdom. A cold good-night to you all.”

In a short half hour the panic-stricken Koltykwerps were all back in
their homes again, and when a messenger came from King Gelidus to
measure my temperature he found such a great improvement that he opened
his chilly heart and sent me a beautiful present from his treasure
house, to wit: A small block of ice, clearer than any gem I had ever
seen, in the heart of which lay a glorious red rose in fullest bloom,
each velvet petal opened out eagerly. Upon consulting my diary I found
that it was just six months to a day since I had left Castle Trump and
the loved ones sheltered by its time-worn tiles, and cold as was the
covering of this thrice beautiful child of the upper world I clasped it
to my breast and shed tears.

And this was the way it came about, dear friends, that King Gelidus and
his frosty councillors were brought to give their consent to my cleaving
asunder the icy prison wherein lay the Little Man with the Frozen Smile.



                              CHAPTER XXVI

  HOW THE QUARRY MEN OF KING GELIDUS CLEFT ASUNDER THE CRYSTAL PRISON
    OF THE LITTLE MAN WITH THE FROZEN SMILE.—MY BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT,
    AND HOW I BORE IT.—WONDERFUL HAPPENINGS OF THE NIGHT THAT
    FOLLOWED.—BULGER AGAIN PROVES HIMSELF TO BE AN ANIMAL OF
    EXTRAORDINARY SAGACITY.


Bulger and I had little appetite for the dainty breakfast of stewed
sweetbreads which the Koltykwerps set before us the next morning, for I
knew, and he half suspected, that something important was going to
happen, being nothing less than the cleaving asunder of the crystal cell
which had held the little chimpanzee a prisoner for so many centuries.

Walking beside the merry Princess Schneeboule, who was delighted to know
that his frigid Majesty, her father, had at last yielded to my wishes,
Bulger and I set out for the beautiful ice grotto; behind us walked
Phrostyphiz and Glacierbhoy with instructions from the king to supervise
the cleaving asunder of the block of ice; and after them came four of
King Gelidus’ quarry men, two bearing flint axes with helves of polished
bone, and two carrying the flint wedges to be used in the work.

We soon entered Schneeboule’s grotto, and the task was at once entered
upon.

It seemed to me I could almost see the Little Man with the Frozen Smile
wink his eyelids as the quarry men set their wedges in place and began
to mark the line of fracture; but, of course, dear friends, you know
what an imagination I have, especially when I get worked up over
anything. So you must take what I say sometimes with a grain of salt,
although as a rule, you may accept my statements with child-like
confidence.

With such wonderful skill did the Koltykwerpian quarry men use their
axes and wedges that in a few moments, to my great delight, the huge
block of ice fell asunder in perfect halves, in one of which the little
manlike creature lay on his side like a casting in a mould.

I made haste to lift him out and wrap him a soft pelt, which I had
brought along for that purpose, and then I turned to retrace my steps to
my chamber, where I intended to begin at once my study of whatever
inscriptions should be found upon his curious collar.

“Remember little baron,” said Glacierbhoy, “by express command of his
frigid Majesty, the Little Man with the Frozen Smile must be returned to
his crystal cell to-morrow morning at this very hour.”

I bowed assent, and then, having accompanied Princess Schneeboule as far
as the bottom of the grand staircase leading to the ice palace, I turned
away and was soon in the privacy of my own apartment.

Now came for me one of the bitterest disappointments of my life; but I
submitted with a good grace, for it was fit punishment visited upon me
for my foolish vanity in striving to unearth some older record of the
human race than had yet been done by any of the great searchers and
philosophers, not even excepting that Master of Masters, Don
Strephalofidgeguaneriusfum!

Know then, dear friends, that the quaint collar, made up of gold and
silver coins, or disks, cunningly linked together, which encircled the
animal’s neck, contained not a single word or letter of any language,
the undersides being quite blank, and the upper merely having roughly
carved outlines of an object which might possibly have been intended for
the sun.

Wrapping the animal up in the soft pelt, I laid him away in a corner of
my divan and betook myself to the palace of his frigid Majesty, where I
frankly informed King Gelidus of my great disappointment in not finding
some few words or even a single word of a language unknown to the wisest
heads of the upper world.

Schneeboule was so touched by my sadness that, had I not skilfully kept
out of her way, I verily believe she would have thrown her arms around
my neck and imprinted upon my cheek the kiss which would have made me
the king of the Koltykwerps; but I had no longing to spend the rest of
my life in the icy domains of his frigid Majesty, even though my brow
would be crowned with the cold crown of the Koltykwerps. If I had been
an old man, with slow and feeble pulse, it would have been very
different; but my heart was too warm and my blood too hot to fill such a
position with agreeableness to myself or satisfaction to the people of
this icy under world. So I kept the little princess busy enough, I can
assure you, first with songs, then with dance, and then with
story-telling.

That night King Gelidus ordered a magnificent fête to be held in my
honor. Five hundred more alabaster lamps were lighted, and the royal
divans were laid with the richest pelts in the palace, and after the
dancing and singing had ended, frozen tidbits from the royal kitchen
were passed around on alabaster salvers, and Bulger and I ate until our
teeth ached.

It was late when we reached our own apartment, and so full were my
thoughts of the beautiful sights which we had gazed upon in the
throne-room, that I had quite forgotten about the poor Little Man with
the Frozen Smile whom I had covered up and tucked away on my divan; but
Bulger had not been so hard-hearted.

Twenty times during the evening he had given me a sly tug at my sleeve
as much as to say,—

[Illustration: BULGER SHOWS THE BARON SOMETHING WONDERFUL.]

“Come, little master, let’s hurry back; dost not remember that we left
my poor little frozen brother tucked away in that icy chamber all alone
by himself?” I was very weary and I fell off to sleep almost
immediately, and yet I had an indistinct recollection that Bulger was
not in his place against my breast. I remembered feeling for him, but
that’s all. It never flashed upon me that he had gone and lain down
beside the poor little stranger, whom I had so unfeelingly lifted from
his last resting-place, and yet such must have been the case, for about
midnight, it seemed to me, I was awakened by a gentle tugging at my
sleeve.

It was my faithful Bulger, but, half awake and half asleep as I was, I
merely thought that he was only asking for a caress, as was often his
wont when he fell a-thinking about home, so I reached out and stroked
his head several times and dropped off again.

But the tugging began anew, and this time ’twas more vigorous and with
it came an impatient whine which meant,—

“Come, come, little master, rouse thee; dost suppose I would break thy
rest unless there were good reasons for it?” I didn’t need a third
reminder, but with a single bound landed on my feet, and reaching out
for one of the tiny tapers which the Koltykwerps make use of as
lighters, I carried the flames from the single lamp burning on the wall
to the three others hanging here and there.

The icy walls of my chamber were now ablaze with light. There sat Bulger
on the fur-covered divan, beside the place where the Little Man with the
Frozen Smile lay hidden under the pelt. His tail was wagging nervously,
and his large, lustrous eyes were fixed first upon me and then upon the
covering of his dead brother with an expression I never remembered
having seen in them before, and then with a sudden movement he laid hold
of the pelt and, drawing it aside, showed me, what think you, dear
friends, what, I ask in a tone half whisper, half gasp, for now years
after I still can feel that wonderful thrill which I felt then? Why, it
was alive! That ape-like creature had come to life after his sleep of
thousands of years in that narrow, crystal cell! Bulger had lain down
beside his frozen brother and warmed him back to life again!

Oh, it was wondrously wonderful to see that pair of little eyes,
beadlike in brightness, look up and blink at me; and then to hear that
low, moaning voice, so human-like, as if it whimpered, with a shake and
a shiver,—

“Oh, how cold it is! how very cold it is! Where’s the sun? Where’s the
soft warm wind, and where are the cloudless skies so blue, oh so
beautifully blue, that used to hang over my head?”

Bidding Bulger lie down again beside him and snuggle up as close as
possible, I made haste to cover them both with the softest skins I could
find.

In a few moments there came from underneath the pile a low, contented
cry of “Coojah! Coojah! Coojah!” followed by a curious addition sounding
like “Fuff! Fuff! Fuff!” so I put them all together and named the
strange new comer to the icy domain of King Gelidus—Fuffcoojah!

Sleep any more that night? Not a wink. The same joy came over me that I
used to feel on Christmas morning long ago when Kris Kringle brought me
some wonderful bit of mechanism moved by a secret spring—for I always
scorned to accept ordinary toys like ordinary children; and oh, how I
longed for the morning, when it would be time for me to bundle up the
Little Man—no longer him with the Frozen Smile, but Fuffcoojah, the Live
Boy from Faraway, with his curious little face screwed up into such a
funny look—and carry him to the palace.

How delighted Schneeboule will be! thought I, and King Gelidus too, how
he will unbend from his frigid majesty as he watches the antics of
Fuffcoojah, and how pleased all the dignified Koltykwerpians, including
even Phrostyphiz and Glacierbhoy, will be when I tell them that the
Little Man with the Frozen Smile has come to life again!

What crowds of Koltykwerps, men, women and children, will rush up the
long flights of steps leading to the Ice Palace, begging and entreating
King Gelidus to let them have just a little look at Fuffcoojah, the
little man set free from his icy cell by the famous traveller, Baron
Sebastian von Troomp!



                             CHAPTER XXVII

  EXCITEMENT OVER FUFFCOOJAH.—I CARRY HIM TO THE COURT OF KING
    GELIDUS.—HIS INSTANT AFFECTION FOR PRINCESS SCHNEEBOULE.—I AM
    ACCUSED OF EXERCISING THE BLACK ART.—MY DEFENCE AND MY
    REWARD.—ANXIETY OF THE KOLTYKWERPS LEST FUFFCOOJAH PERISH OF
    HUNGER.—THIS CALAMITY AVERTED, ANOTHER STARES US IN THE FACE: HOW
    TO KEEP HIM FROM FREEZING TO DEATH.—I SOLVE THE PROBLEM, BUT DRAW
    UPON ME A STRANGE MISFORTUNE.


It all turned out just as I had thought it would! The moment it became
known that the Little Man with the Frozen Smile had actually come to
life, the wildest excitement prevailed in every part of the icy domain
of his frigid Majesty. I was astounded at the change in the actions of
the Koltykwerps. They moved more quickly, they talked faster, they made
more gestures than I had ever seen them do before. In some cases, you
will hardly believe it, dear friends, I actually noticed a faint glow in
the cold cheeks of a few of them.

I had hoped to be able to bundle Fuffcoojah up warmly and make my escape
to the ice palace before the people learned of his coming to life, but
in vain. When I made my appearance at the door, there was a large crowd
of Koltykwerps pushing and pulling in front of my quarters.

Most of them were good-natured, and cried out,—

“Show him to us, little baron, show us the Little Man with the Frozen
Smile whom thou hast brought to life. Let us look upon his face!”

“Nay, nay, Koltykwerps!” I exclaimed, “it must not be! His frigid
Majesty must be the first to look upon Fuffcoojah’s face. Room, room for
the noble guest of royal Gelidus! In the name of his frigid Majesty give
way and let me pass!”

The Koltykwerps showed no inclination to obey. To such a pitch of
excitement had they worked themselves up that only upon seeing Bulger
advance upon them with flashing eye and teeth laid bare, did they reach
the conclusion that my brave companion was in no mood to be trifled
with.

Thwarted in their wild desire to get a peep at Fuffcoojah, the
Koltykwerps now began to rail at me as I passed them by on my way to the
ice palace.

“Oho, Master magician! Ha, ha, Prince of the Black Art! Boo, boo, little
wizard! Have a care, wily necromancer, see to it that thou dost not
practise any of thy tricks of enchantment upon us!” I was glad when the
axe-bearer saw my plight and hurried forward to extricate me from the
crowd of angry people.

King Gelidus met me at the portal of his ice palace, and at his heels
came Princess Schneeboule, who could hardly wait for her turn to take a
look at the curious living creature which I unwrapped just enough to let
her see its nose.

The instant Fuffcoojah set eyes upon the sweet face of the Koltykwerpian
princess, he stretched out his little arm as a child might to its
mother. This sudden show of affection caused Schneeboule the liveliest
pleasure, and quickly drawing off one of her gloves she reached out and
stroked the animal’s head, but at the touch of those, to him, icy little
fingers he uttered a low wail and drew back underneath the warm pelt in
which he was snugly wrapped.

Poor Schneeboule! she gave a sigh as she saw him do this, but it didn’t
prevent her from coming every minute or so and lifting one end of the
pelt just enough to take another look at Fuffcoojah, who, while he never
failed to cuddle up closer to me at sight of the princess, yet
invariably thrust out one of his black paws from under the pelt for
Schneeboule to shake. While seated on the divan nearest the throne, I
observed that Phrostyphiz and Glacierbhoy were holding a whispered
conference with his frigid Majesty. At once I guessed the subject of
their conversation.

Rising to my feet, I made a sign that I wished to address the king, and
when he had nodded his head with stern and icy dignity, I began to
speak. You know, dear friends, how eloquent I can be when the mood is
upon me. Well, standing there almost upon the steps of King Gelidus’
throne of ice, I proceeded to defend myself against the charge of being
a master of the black art. I will not tell you all I said, but this was
my ending:

“May it please your frigid Majesty!

“Here beside me stands the only magician in the case, and the only art,
the only trick or charm which was exercised by him was that sweet power
we call love. When first he set eyes upon his four-footed brother locked
in the crystal cell of Schneeboule’s Grotto, he pressed his nose again
and again against its icy wall in vain attempt to know his kinsman, and
turned away with a cry of sorrow to find that his keen scent could not
penetrate to him. I cannot tell you how great was his joy when I laid
Fuffcoojah stiff and stark upon my divan, for I knew not then the scheme
ripening in Bulger’s mind. But later, all was plain enough. The loving
dog leaves his master’s breast and carries his true and tender heart
over to where Fuffcoojah lies, raises the pelt, crawls in beside him,
and presses his warm breast firm and hard against his brother’s
ice-locked heart, and warms him into life again, then wakes me and tells
me what he hath done.

“This, Royal Gelidus and most noble Koltykwerps, is the only art that
hath been used to bring Fuffcoojah back to life again, and to call it
black is to slander the sunshine, rail at the lily, and call the sweet
breath of heaven a vile and detestable thing!”

When I had ended my speech I saw that Schneeboule had been weeping, and
that several of her tears stopped in their course down her cheeks hung
there sparkling like tiny diamonds in the soft light of the alabaster
lamps, where the chill air of Gelidus’ palace had turned them into ice.

And therefore when his frigid Majesty said that my words had touched his
heart, and bade me ask for a gift from his hand, I said,—

“O cold king of this fair icy domain, let those tears that now hang like
tiny jewels on Schneeboule’s cheeks be brushed into an alabaster box and
given to me. I covet no other guerdon!”

“Even if I did not love thee, little baron,” cried King Gelidus with an
icy smile, “I would be persuaded; but loving makes easy believing. Go,
Phrostyphiz, and bid one of the princess’s women brush those tiny jewels
that hang on Schneeboule’s cheek into an alabaster cup and bestow them
upon the little baron.”

Scarcely had this been done when Fuffcoojah thrust his head out from
under the pelt and, fixing his eyes pleadingly upon me, thrust out his
tongue and opened and shut his mouth with a faint, smacking noise. Quick
as a flash it dawned upon me that these signs meant that Fuffcoojah was
hungry!

And then, as I suddenly remembered that the Koltykwerps were strictly a
meat-eating people, that only meat was to be had in their chill domain,
quarried almost like marble itself from nature’s great refrigerators, a
gasp escaped my lips, and I whispered,—

“Oh, he must die! He must die!” My words had not missed the keen ears of
Princess Schneeboule.

“Speak, little baron,” she cried, “why, why, must little Fuffcoojah die?
What dost mean by such a saying?” And when King Gelidus and Schneeboule
had heard me voice my fear that he would die rather than feed on meat,
they both became very heavy-hearted.

“Poor little Fuffcoojah!” moaned the princess, “can it be possible that
he must be carried back so soon to his crystal cell in my grotto?”

“Bid the master of my meat quarries approach the throne,” cried King
Gelidus suddenly, in a voice of icy dignity.

This important functionary soon made his appearance.

Turning to me, the king bade me explain the case to him. This I did in a
few words, when, to the great joy of all present the master of the meat
quarries spoke as follows:—

“Little baron, if that’s the only trouble, give thyself no further
uneasiness, for I shall at once send one of my men to thee with a supply
of most delicious nuts.”

“Delicious nuts?” I repeated in a tone of amazement.

“Why, yes, little baron, I have a goodly supply on hand. Know, then,
that hardly a day goes by that my men don’t come upon some fine specimen
of the family of gnawers, most generally squirrels, in whose
cheek-pouches we invariably find from one to half a dozen dainty nuts
stowed away. It has always been my custom to lay these aside, and so I
have to inform thee that if Fuffcoojah should live to be a hundred years
old I or my successor could guarantee to keep him supplied with food.”

These words lifted a terrible load off my heart, for now, at least,
Fuffcoojah would not die of starvation.

For a few days everything went well. The Koltykwerps became quite
satisfied in their own minds that I had not been practising the black
art in the chilly kingdom of his frigid Majesty, and each and every one
of them became greatly attached to the curious little creature with the
droll little face and droller manner.

But it seemed as if we were no sooner out of one trouble than we were
plumped into another, for now Fuffcoojah began to object to the
attendant selected to look after him by King Gelidus.

The man was about ten degrees too cold-blooded for him, and ere long it
was only necessary for the Koltykwerp to approach Fuff,—as we called him
for short,—in order to throw him into convulsions of shivering and to
cause him to utter pitiable cries of discontent, which only ceased upon
my appearing and comforting him by my caresses.

I now set to work to devise some way to make Fuff’s life more agreeable
to him, for everybody seemed to hold me responsible for his well being.
Ten times a day came messengers from King Gelidus or from Princess
Schneeboule to ask how he was getting on, and whether we were keeping
him warm enough, whether he had all he wanted to eat, whether he had
pelts enough on his bed. Nor was it an unusual thing to have a score or
more Koltykwerpian mothers call at my quarters during a single day with
advice enough to last a month, and therefore was it that, with a view to
providing him with a warmer room to sleep in, I ordered a divan fitted
up for him in a smaller chamber opening into mine, upon the walls of
which I directed half a dozen of the largest lamps to be hung.

The consequence was that the walls began to melt, hearing of which,
consternation spread throughout the icy domain of his frigid Majesty,
for to the mind of a Koltykwerp heat powerful enough to melt ice was
something terrible. It was like the dread of earthquake shock to us, or
the fear of flood or flame. It was something that filled their hearts
with such terror that in their dreams they saw the solid walls of the
ice palace melt asunder and fall with a crash. They could not bear it,
and so King Gelidus put forth the decree that if there were no other way
to keep Fuffcoojah alive, then must he die.

Hearing this, an awful grief came upon poor Schneeboule’s heart, for she
had learned to love little Fuff very dearly, and it set a knife in her
breast to think of losing him.

“Never, never,” she cried, “shall I be able to set foot within my grotto
if Fuffcoojah is put back into his crystal prison again, with his frozen
smile on his face as once used to be.” And seeking out her royal father
she threw herself at his knees and spoke as follows:—

“O heart of ice! O frigid Majesty, let not thy child die of grief. There
is an easy way out of all our trouble with dear little Fuffcoojah.”

“Speak, beloved Schneeboule,” answered King Gelidus, “let me hear what
it is.”

“Why, cold heart,” said the princess, “the little baron hath plenty of
warmth stored away in his body, he hath enough for both himself and
Fuffcoojah into the bargain. Therefore, frigid father, command that a
deep, warm hood be made to the little baron’s coat, and that Fuffcoojah
be placed therein and be borne about by the little baron wherever he
goeth. He will soon grow accustomed to the slender burden and note it no
more.”

“It shall be as thou wishest,” replied the king of the Koltykwerps; and
calling his trusty councillor, Glacierbhoy, he directed him to summon me
at once to the throne-room. When I heard this terrible order issue from
the icy lips of King Gelidus my heart sank within me, and yet I dared
not disobey, I dared not murmur, for I it was who had cleft asunder the
crystal prison of the Little Man with the Frozen Smile; I who had made
it possible for Bulger to warm him back to life again. Oh, poor, vain,
weak, foolish boy that I had been, what was to become of me now?



                             CHAPTER XXVIII

  HOW A LITTLE BURDEN MAY GROW TO BE A GRIEVOUS ONE.—STORY OF A MAN
    WITH A MONKEY IN HIS HOOD.—MY TERRIBLE SUFFERING.—CONCERNING THE
    AWFUL PANIC THAT SEIZED UPON THE KOLTYKWERPS.—MY VISIT TO THE
    DESERTED ICE-PALACE, AND WHAT HAPPENED TO FUFFCOOJAH.—END OF HIS
    BRIEF BUT STRANGE CAREER.—A FROZEN KISS ON A BLADE OF HORN, OR HOW
    SCHNEEBOULE CHOSE A HUSBAND.


Ah, little princess, how easy was it for thee to say that I would soon
grow accustomed to the slender burden and note it no more? How prone are
we to call light the burdens which we lay upon the shoulders of others
for our own benefit? True, Fuffcoojah was not as long as a horse, nor as
broad as an ox, and when in accordance with the king’s decree the hood
had been completed and the little animal was stowed away therein, close
against my back so as to get a goodly share of the warmth of my body, it
seemed to me that Schneeboule was right, that I would soon become
accustomed to the load and note it no more. And so it seemed the second
and the third day, but not on the fourth; for on that day the little
load appeared to have gained somewhat in weight, and although I was
quick to feign that it was not so when Princess Schneeboule quizzed me
saying,—

“There, little baron, did I not tell thee that thou wouldst soon forget
that Fuffcoojah slept upon thy shoulders?” yet in my heart I felt that
he really had grown a mite heavier.

On the fifth day Bulger and I were bidden to a merry-making at the
palace of ice, and as I rose from my divan to betake me thither,
methought I was strangely heavy-hearted, and so did Bulger, for he made
several efforts to draw a smile, or a cheery tone, from me, but in vain.

[Illustration: THE BARON’S FLIGHT TO THE ICE PALACE.]

Suddenly I realized that there was a weight pressing against my back,
no, not a heavy weight, but a weight all the same, and then I whispered
to myself, “Why, if I am going to a merry-making, I’ll cast it off!” and
then I wakened from my deep abstraction and murmured,—

“How strange that I should have forgotten that Fuffcoojah was in my
hood?” And so I went to the merry-making with Fuffcoojah nestled between
my shoulders, and the Koltykwerps laughed at the little baron and his
child, as they called him, and drew near and raised the flap and peeped
in at the curious creature within the hood, and when Fuffcoojah felt
their icy breaths, he buried his nose in the fur and sighed and
whimpered. Then, for a moment, when the Princess Schneeboule came and
sat beside me and praised me for my readiness to carry out her wishes,
and thanked me so sweetly for my goodness to her, I forgot all about the
little load laid upon me, and I ate the frozen tidbits from the royal
kitchen, and laughed and joked with Lords Phrostyphiz and Glacierbhoy,
just as had been my wont before Gelidus had decreed that Fuffcoojah
should make his bed on my shoulders.

But when the fête was over and I stepped from the broad portal of the
ice-palace and looked up at the mighty lens set in the mountain side,
through which the moonlight of the outer world was streaming in subdued
but glorious splendor, I suddenly felt my legs bend under me, I
staggered from right to left, I clutched at shadows, I was, it seemed to
me, about to be crushed beneath a terrible burden. I quickened my pace,
I broke into a run, I threw my arms into the air as if I would cast off
the weight that was smothering me. And so I came to my lodging puffing,
panting, gasping.

“Why, what a fool am I!” was my first word when I had got my breath;
“it’s only little Fuffcoojah on my back, stowed away in my fur hood. I
must be beside myself to have thought that a great monster was seated
there and that he was gradually pressing me down, crushing the life out
of me by degrees, flattening me to the very ground, and I not able to
escape from his terrible embrace or to squirm out from under his awful
limbs wrapt around my neck and body!”

All night long this monster was clinging to me, and urging me to a
faster pace, up and down, across and around, I knew not where, on
bootless errands, ending only to begin again, on searches after nothing
hidden nowhere, trying a thousand lids and finding every one locked,
returning home only to go forth again, up and away and out on
interminable highways vanishing in a point far on ahead, with that
grievous burden forever on my shoulders growing heavier and heavier,
till it seemed that I must go down with it into the dust. But no, it
knew full well that it must not ride me to the death, so when I was
ready to drop, it threw off part of its weight to give me courage to
begin again. When the morning came my pulse was galloping and my cheeks
were on fire. I could feel the blood pounding against my temples, and it
was natural that my face should be crimsoned over with the flush of
fever. Half in a daze I walked forth toward the grand staircase leading
up to the ice palace, when suddenly I was startled by a fearful scream.
I halted and looked up, when another and another burst upon my ears.

The terrified Koltykwerps were fleeing before me in every direction,
shrieking as they fled,—

“Fly, fly, brothers, the little baron is burning, the little baron is
burning, fly, brothers, fly!”

In a few moments terror had seized upon every living creature in the icy
domain of King Gelidus. They fled from me in mad haste, taking refuge in
the distant caverns and corridors, filling the air with their wild
outcries, no one being brave enough to halt and take a second look. My
inflamed countenance filled them with such awful terror that they could
only tear along and cry,—

“Fly, brothers, fly; the little baron is burning, the little baron is
burning!”

With Bulger at my heels, I turned and sprang up the staircase with the
intention of seeking out King Gelidus, and explaining the matter to him.

But he, too, had fled, and with him every sentinel and serving man,
every courtier and councillor. The palace was as still as death. I
hastened through its silent corridors calling out,—

“Schneeboule! Princess Schneeboule! Surely thou art not afraid of me?
Turn back, I will not harm thee, I’m not burning! Turn back, oh, turn
back!”

With this, I reached the throne-room; not a living creature was to be
seen; the vast chamber was as still as death. I staggered to a divan,
and pillowing my poor aching head on a cushion, I fell into a sound and
refreshing sleep.

When I awoke, I rubbed my eyes and looked about me, and at first I
thought that I was still alone in the great round chamber with its walls
of ice; but no, there on the divan sat Schneeboule, and she smiled and
said in mock displeasure,—

“Thou art not a very watchful nurse, little baron, for in thy sleep thou
didst squeeze Fuffcoojah so tightly against a cushion, that he crawled
out from thy hood and nestled in my arms.”

“In thy arms, Schneeboule?” I exclaimed breathlessly, for I feared for
the worst, and springing up I drew aside the soft pelt which she had
wrapped around Fuffcoojah, and there he lay, dead! Poor little beast, he
had been so happy to crawl into the arms of one he loved so dearly, and
had cuddled up closer and closer to her in search of greater warmth; but
only to come nearer and nearer to a heart that could not warm him; and
so the insidious chill of death, which bringeth sweet and pleasant
drowsiness with it, had stole over him and he had died.

And Schneeboule’s tears, freezing as they fell, now showered like a
gentle hail of tiny gems upon the little dead beast, no longer
Fuffcoojah, but once again the Little Man with the Frozen Smile.
Presently the Koltykwerps recovered from their senseless fear, and first
one by one, and then group-wise, they returned to their homes, King
Gelidus and his court coming back too, to the fair palace which they had
abandoned in their wild fright when the cry had gone up that the little
baron was burning.

Everybody was sorry to hear that Fuffcoojah had died the second time,
and many were the frozen tears that dropped from the chilly cheeks of
the Koltykwerps as they looked upon the Little Man with the Frozen Smile
as he lay on the white pelt beside the Princess Schneeboule.

That day we bore him back to the ice grotto, and having laid him in the
hollow moulded by his body in the crystal block, it was closed again so
skilfully by the king’s quarrymen that no eye was keen enough to note
where the cleavage had been. And the same uncanny glint was in his eyes,
and when the Koltykwerps saw this their icy hearts felt a cold shiver of
satisfaction, for not only was the Little Man with the Frozen Smile back
in his crystal cell again, but all the fears and dreadful fancies which
his coming to life again had given rise to were past and gone forever,
and peace and quiet and sweet contentment reigned throughout the icy
realm of his frigid Majesty Gelidus, King of the Koltykwerps!

Now nothing remained to make his cold heart crack with joy but to see
his beloved child Schneeboule make choice of a husband. And he had not
long to wait, for one day upon entering the palace she saw a youth lying
at the foot of the stairway overcome with sleep. In one hand he held an
alabaster lamp, and in the other a new wick which he was about to fit
into it, for the youth was a lamp-trimmer in the ice palace of King
Gelidus; and when the Princess Schneeboule saw him lying there overcome
with sleep, she stooped and kissed him on the cheek, and passed on
without another thought about the matter, one way or the other.

And the kiss froze on the cheek of the lamp-trimmer, where Schneeboule
had pressed it.

[Illustration: DEATH OF FUFFCOOJAH.]

Presently King Gelidus came tramping into the hallway with his breath
white upon his beard, and he saw the youth lying there, and the frozen
kiss on his cheek, and he bade Glacierbhoy scrape the delicate frost
crystals from the youth’s face with a blade of polished horn.

“What hast there, father of mine?” asked the princess, when she saw him
bearing the blade of horn along so carefully.

“A kiss which someone pressed upon the cheek of one of my lamp-trimmers,
now lying on the staircase overcome with sleep,” replied King Gelidus,
in ringing, icy tones.

“Why, father of mine,” exclaimed Princess Schneeboule, “now that thou
speakest of it, I really believe the kiss is mine, for I recollect
kissing someone as I entered the palace, I was deep in thought, but no
doubt the youth pleased me as he lay there, asleep with lamp in one hand
and wick in the other.”

And that lamp-trimmer trimmed no more lamps in the ice palace of his
frigid Majesty Gelidus, King of the Koltykwerps.

No doubt he made Schneeboule a very good husband, and I’m quite sure
that she made him a good wife. I would have been glad to tarry for the
nuptial feast, but that was out of the question. I had stayed too long
already.



                              CHAPTER XXIX

  SOMETHING CONCERNING THE MANY PORTALS TO THE ICY DOMAIN OF
    KING GELIDUS AND THE DIFFICULT TASK OF CHOOSING THE RIGHT
    ONE.—HOW BULGER SOLVED IT.—OUR FAREWELL TO THE COLD-BLOODED
    KOLTYKWERPS.—SCHNEEBOULE’S SORROW AT LOSING US.


As Bullibrain had once remarked, when there are many doors it’s a wise
man who knows which is the right one to open; and this I found to be the
case when I attempted to take my departure from the icy domain of his
frigid Majesty, Gelidus, King of the Koltykwerps, for there was a
baker’s dozen of galleries, in each of which, upon exploring it, I came,
after a tramp of half a mile or so, up against a lofty gate of solid
ice, curiously carved and fitting the end of the gallery as a cork does
a bottle.

No doubt you are wondering why I didn’t make my way out of the
Koltykwerpian kingdom by following the river: for the very good reason
that it went no farther than King Gelidus’s domain, emptying into a vast
reservoir which apparently had a subterranean outlet, for its thick
covering of ice always remained at the same height.

The king’s quarrymen were ordered to hew an opening through whichever
door I should point out as the one that I wished to pass through, but I
was informed by Phrostyphiz that according to the law of the land but
one door could be opened during any one year, so that if I found my way
blocked and turned back again it would mean a delay of twelve months.
Bullibrain, with all his wisdom, was powerless to assist me, although I
was half inclined to think that he might have done so had he been
permitted to investigate the secret records of the kingdom, carved upon
huge tablets of ice, and stored away in the vaults of the palace.

The fact of the matter is King Gelidus was so desirous of having me
assist at the marriage feast of Princess Schneeboule, that he threw
every obstacle in my way that he could, without openly showing his hand.
And Schneeboule herself by the dancing of her clear gray eyes gave me to
understand that she, too, was hoping that I would make a mistake when I
came to point out the door which I wanted opened.

Bulger saw that I was in trouble, but couldn’t comprehend clearly what
that trouble was. He kept his eyes fastened upon me, however, watching
my every movement, hoping, no doubt, to solve the mystery.

While sitting one day lost in thought over the very serious problem
which I found myself called upon to solve, an idea struck me: I had
noticed that in the meat-quarries, the workmen often made use of
sounding-rods, which were long pieces of polished bone, ending in flint
tips. A Koltykwerpian quarryman by dexterously twisting this rod, was
able to bore a hole six feet deep or more into the solid bed of ice when
desirous of ascertaining the position of a carcass in the meat quarry,
and it occurred to me that by piercing the portals of ice which closed
their various corridors I have spoken of, possibly Bulger’s keen scent
might recognize that current of air which would have in it the odor of
earth and rock; in other words, make choice for me of the portal which
opened on that corridor leading away from the icy domain of King Gelidus
and not merely into some outlying chamber of his kingdom.

His frigid Majesty could not object to such experiments, for the law
only forbade the hewing of openings large enough for the hewer to pass
through.

King Gelidus and half a dozen of his courtiers, looking stern and frigid
and conversing in freezing tones, were present to see the experiment
tried. Methought their icy lips clacked together with satisfaction when,
at my request, one portal after another was pierced, but Bulger, after
sniffing at the hole, turned away with a bewildered look in his eyes as
if he didn’t half understand why I was ordering him to thrust his warm
nose into such cold places.

And so we tramped from corridor to corridor, until the quarrymen began
to show signs of fatigue, and the sounding-rod turned slower and slower
in their hands.

Phrostyphiz blinked his cold gray eyes as much as to say, “Little baron,
thou must bide with us for another year!” But I merely turned to the
quarrymen, and ordered them to pierce one more portal of ice ere we
abandoned the task for the day. They went at the work of piercing the
eleventh door with the pace of pack-mules up a mountain-side. But at
last the sounding-rod bored a way through, and at a wave of my hand the
quarrymen fell back. In an instant Bulger had his nose at the hole, and
took three or four quick, nervous sniffs, ending with a long, deep-drawn
one, and then breaking out into a string of sharp, jerky, joyful barks,
he began scratching furiously at the bottom of the portal.

“Your frigid Majesty,” said I, with a low and stately bend of my body
such as only those born to the manner can make, “by this portal, at the
coming of to-morrow’s sun, I shall pass from your Majesty’s icy
dominion!” And when Phrostyphiz and Glacierbhoy heard these words of
mine uttered so loftily, their eyes gleamed cold as steel, and they
followed the King in silence back to the palace of ice. Schneeboule met
them in the grand hallway; and when she had looked upon their faces she
began to weep, for she loved me and she loved Bulger too, and her cold
little heart could not bear the thought of our going.

[Illustration: KOLTYKWERPIAN QUARRYMEN HEWING A PASSAGE THROUGH THE WALL
OF ICE.]

King Gelidus, however, soon recovered his spirits, and ordered a feast
with song and dance in honor of Bulger, who during the festivities sat
on the highest divan with the softest pelt beneath him; and so many were
the frozen tidbits which the Koltykwerps presented to him during the
progress of the feast, that I grew alarmed lest he might overload his
stomach and not be in a fit condition to make the early start on our
journey, of which I had given notice to the Koltykwerpian monarch. But
his good sense saved him from doing so foolish a thing; in fact, I was
greatly amused to see that, while he accepted every tidbit handed to
him, and solemnly went through the motions of chewing it, yet watching
his chance, he slyly dropped it out of his mouth and flirted it aside
with his paw. Thus was spent our last night at the icy court of his
frigid Majesty, and on the morrow the Koltykwerps collected in great
crowds on the different terraces to say good-by. I pressed a kiss on the
cheek of Princess Schneeboule, and when it had turned to ice crystals,
one of her men brushed it into an alabaster box.

Prince Chillychops, the former lamp-trimmer, was on hand with the rest
of the Koltykwerpian nobles, but I flattered myself that Schneeboule
loved me better than she did him. However, I wished him joy, and gripped
his cold palm with such warmth that he stood blowing it for a whole
minute. When we reached the lofty portal we found that the quarrymen had
already hewn a passage through it, and near by I observed a pile of
massive blocks of ice, crystal clear.

These, when Bulger and I should pass through the opening, were to be
used in walling it up again; and when I saw this pile of blocks, and
remembered the solid workmanship of the Koltykwerpian quarrymen, the
thought flitted through my mind: Suppose Bulger hath not chosen wisely,
what use would there be in turning back, for my own weak hands would be
powerless against a wall built of such blocks, and knock I ever so loud,
how could the sound ever traverse this long and winding corridor and
reach the ear of a Koltykwerp? “No,” said I to myself, “if Bulger hath
not chosen wisely, it will be good-by to both upper and under worlds.”
And then, bearing an alabaster lamp in one hand and in the other holding
the cord which I had tied to Bulger’s collar, I stepped through the
narrow passage hewn by the quarrymen, and turned my back forever on the
cold dominion of Gelidus, King of the Koltykwerps. Once I halted and
looked back. I could see nothing, but I could hear the sharp click of
the flint axes as the quarrymen closed up the door that shut me out from
so many cold but loving hearts. And then I drew a long breath and went
on my way again.

And that was the last I ever saw of the Koltykwerps save in day dream or
night vision.

[Illustration: THE WONDERFUL RIDE ON THE BLOCK OF ICE.]



                              CHAPTER XXX

  ALL ABOUT THE MOST TERRIBLE BUT MAGNIFICENT RIDE I EVER TOOK IN MY
    LIFE.—NINETY MILES ON THE BACK OF A FLYING MASS OF ICE, AND HOW
    BULGER AND I WERE LANDED AT LAST ON THE BANKS OF A MOST WONDERFUL
    RIVER.—HOW THE DAY BROKE IN THIS UNDER WORLD.


Had my hand at that moment not grasped a cord tied to the neck of my
wise and keen-eyed Bulger, I really believe I would have come to a halt,
faced about, retraced my steps, and begged the inhabitants of this
crystal realm to admit me once more into the cold kingdom where Gelidus
held his icy court; for a sudden fit of depression came upon me as the
chilly air struck against my cheeks and I saw the deep darkness made
visible by the tiny flame of my alabaster lamp.

Cold though it might be, I would have sunshine in the icy land of the
Koltykwerps, but now how could I tell what fate awaited me?

Luckily, I had asked the captain of the meat quarries to allow me to
retain one of his sounding-rods with its flint point, for I feared lest
in descending some icy declivity I might fall and bruise, or even break,
a limb.

I was determined to advance cautiously along this icy passage, shrouded
as it was in impenetrable gloom, and so different from the broad and
polished pavement of the Marble Highway; and hence, hanging the lamp
about my neck, I proceeded to make use of the sounding-rod as an
alpenstock, for which purposes it was admirably adapted. Suddenly Bulger
halted, gave a low whine of warning, and turned back. In an instant I
knew that there was danger ahead, and letting myself drop on my hands
and knees crawled carefully along to make an investigation of the
dangerous spot in our route signalled by the watchful Bulger.

It was only too true: we stood apparently upon the very edge of a sheer
parapet, how high I had no way of ascertaining, but I was unable to
reach any bottom with the sounding-rod.

What was to be done? Turn back?

It was not yet too late, the Koltykwerpian quarrymen could not have
completed their task in so short a time, they would hear my knock, they
would tear down their wall of ice, and Gelidus and Schneeboule would
welcome us back to their ice palace with a cold, but honest
satisfaction.

As I sat there plunged in thought, I half unconsciously began to twirl
the sounding-rod around until I had sunk it half its length into the
floor of ice, and then reaching out I encircled Bulger with my arm and
drew him up against me as was my wont when preparing for profound
meditation.

I had scarcely done so when the ice beneath me gave one of those sharp,
clear, cracking noises so unlike the sound made by the breaking of any
other substance; and thereupon I felt the crystal mass on which Bulger
and I were sitting tremble and vibrate for an instant, and then, with a
sudden downward cant, break away from the mass behind it and begin to
move!

Instinctively a sense of my awful peril prompted me to cling to the
sounding-rod which I had sunk drill-like into the ice. Luckily it was
between my legs, and quick as a flash I intwined them around it,
assuming a Turkish sitting posture, while my left arm was wrapped
tightly around Bulger’s body.

I don’t know how it was done, done as it was all in an instant; but
there I sat now firmly saddled, so to speak, upon that crystal monster’s
back, as with a creak and a crash it snapped the crystal links which
bound it to the wall of ice and plunged headlong down the glassy slope.

In my fright I had dropped my lamp, and now the deep gloom of this under
world inwrapped me. But no, it was not so, for as the escaping block of
ice creaked and craunched its way along, the two cold crystal surfaces
gave forth a weird glimmer of phosphorescent light which made the flying
mass seem like a monstrous living thing, out of whose thousand eyes were
darting tongues of flame as it rushed madly along, now gaining speed
upon striking a steeper stretch of way, now fouling with some
obstruction and dashing against the rocky sides of the corridor, and
sending a shower of crystals sparkling and glittering in the black air!

Anon the escaping block comes upon a gentle slope, and with the low
music of crushing crystals slips softly along in its flight as if
mounted upon runners of polished steel, and then with a sudden dip it
glides upon a sharper descent and fairly leaps into the air as it bounds
along, hissing over the slippery roadway, and leaving a train of fire
behind it. And now it strikes a stretch of way piled here and there with
clumps and blocks of ice.

With a mad fury it springs upon the lesser ones with a growl of rage,
grinding them to powder, which, like showers of icy foam, it hurls upon
Bulger and me seated on its back. But some of the blocks resist its
terrible onslaught and our mighty steed is hurled from side to side with
crash and creak, as it drives its crystal corners fiercely against the
jutting rocks, leaving marks of its white flesh on these black heads of
adamant.

It seems an hour since the crystal monster broke away, and yet ever
downward he threads his wild flight, butting, bumping, jostling,
veering, staggering along, bearing Bulger and me to the lowest level of
the World within a World.

Will he never end his mad flight?

Is there no way for me to curb him?

Must he fly until he has ground his very body to such a thinness that
the next obstruction will shatter it into ten thousand pieces, and hurl
Bulger and me to death?

As these thoughts are flitting through my mind, the flying mass takes
one last mad plunge which lands it on an almost level stretch of
roadway, and by the different sound given out by the sliding block, I
know that we have left the regions of ice behind us, and that our
crystal sledge is gliding gently along over a track of polished marble.

But, mile after mile, it still glides along, gently, softly, silently,
and then I dare to think that our lives are saved.

But so terrible had been the strain, so fearful the anxiety, so
exhausting the effort necessary to hold my place on the block of ice,
and keep my beloved Bulger from slipping out of my arms, that I fell
backward into a dead faint as the gliding mass came, at last, to a
standstill. I think I must have lain there a good half hour or so; for
when I came to myself Bulger’s frantic joy told me that he had been
terribly wrought up over me, and the moment I opened my eyes he began to
shower caresses on my hands and face in most lover-like style. Dear,
grateful heart, he felt that he owed his life this time to his little
master, and he wanted me to understand how thankful he was.

The moment Bulger’s nerves had recovered from the shock occasioned by my
prolonged faint, I reached for my repeater and touched its spring.

It registered one hour and a half since we had stepped through the icy
portal of King Gelidus’ domain. Allowing a half-hour for the time I lay
unconscious, it showed that our mad descent on the back of the crystal
monster had lasted quite a full hour, and reckoning the average speed of
the escaping mass of ice to have been a mile and a half a minute, that
we were now in the neighborhood of ninety miles away from the cold
kingdom where Gelidus sat on his icy throne, and Princess Schneeboule at
his feet with Chillychops beside her.

It was with great difficulty that I could rise to my feet, so stiffened
were my joints and knotted my muscles after that terrible ride, every
instant of which I expected to be dashed to pieces against projecting
rocks, or torn to shreds by being caught between the fleeing monster of
ice and the gigantic icicles hanging from the ceiling like the shining
teeth of some huge creature of this under world.

[Illustration: THE TROPICS OF THE UNDER WORLD.]

But could it be, dear friends, that Bulger and I had only escaped a
quick and merciful ending to be brought face to face with a death ten
times more terrible, in that it was to be slow and gradual, denied even
the poor boon of looking upon each other, for darkness impenetrable was
folded about us and silence so deep that my ears ached in their longing
for some sound to break it. And yet there was something in the sound of
my own voice that startled me when I used it: it seemed as if the awful
stillness were angered at being disturbed by it, and smote it back into
my teeth.

Where are we? This was the question I put to myself, and then in my mind
I strove to recall every word which I had read in the musty pages of Don
Fum’s manuscript concerning the World within a World; but I could
recollect nothing to enlighten me, not a word to give me hope or cheer,
and I was about to cry out in utter despair when, happening to raise my
eyes and look off in the distance, I saw what seemed to me to be a
jack-a-lantern dancing along on the ground.

It was a strange and fantastic sight in this region of inky darkness,
and for a moment I stood watching it with bated breath and wide-opened
eyes; but no, it could not be a will-with-the-wisp, for now the faint
and uncertain glimmer had increased to a mild but steady glow, reaching
away off in the distance like a long line of dying camp-fires seen
through an enveloping mist.

But in a moment’s time this wide encircling ring of light had so
increased in brightness that it looked for all the world like a break o’
day in the land o’ sunshine, and here and there where its mild
effulgence overcame the darkness of this subterranean region, I caught
sight of walls and arches and columns of snow-white marble. And then as
I called to mind Don Fum’s mysterious reference to “sunrise in the lower
world,” I swung my hat and gave a loud cry of joy, while Bulger waked
the echoes of these spacious caverns by his barking. I tell you, dear
friends, not until you have been in just such a plight can you know just
how such a rescue feels.

And now, no doubt, you are a bit anxious to know what sort of a sunrise
could possibly take place in this under world miles below our own.

Well, when you have travelled as many miles as I have, and seen as many
wonders as I have, you’ll be ready to admit that wonders are quite as
commonplace as commonplace itself. Know, then, that this vast region of
the World within a World was girt round about by a broad and placid
stream whose waters swarmed with vast numbers of gigantic radiate
animals, such as polyps, sea-urchins, Portuguese men-of-war,
sea-anemones, and the like; that these transparent creatures, which had
the power of emitting light, after lying dormant for twelve hours,
gradually unfolded their bodies and tentacles, and rose toward the
surface of these calm and limpid waters, increasing by degrees their
mysterious radiance, until they had chased the darkness from the vast
caverns opening upon the banks of the river, and lighted up this under
world with a soft effulgence somewhat brighter than the rays of our full
moon. For twelve hours these weird lanterns of the stream made it day
for this nether world, and then, as they gradually shrank together and
sank out of sight, their expiring fires glowed with all the multicolored
radiance of our fairest twilight, and the night, blacker than Stygian
darkness, came back again. But now ’twas full daylight, and bidding
Bulger follow me I walked in silent wonder along the banks of this
glowing stream, which, like a band of mysterious fire, as far as my eye
could reach went circling around the white marble mouths of these vast
underground chambers.



                              CHAPTER XXXI

  IN WHICH YOU READ OF THE GLORIOUS CAVERNS OF WHITE MARBLE FRONTING
    ON THE WONDERFUL RIVER.—IN THE TROPICS OF THE UNDER WORLD.—HOW WE
    CAME UPON A SOLITARY WANDERER ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER.—MY
    CONVERSATION WITH HIM, AND MY JOY AT FINDING MYSELF IN THE LAND OF
    THE RATTLEBRAINS, OR HAPPY FORGETTERS.—BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THEM.


With every turn in the winding way that skirted the white shores of this
wonderful stream, its swarms of light-emitting animals lent it a new
beauty; for as the day advanced—if I may so express it—they lifted their
glowing bodies nearer and nearer to the surface, until now the river
shone like molten silver; and as the sheer walls of rock on the opposite
bank held set in them vast slabs of mica, the effect was that these
gigantic natural mirrors reflected the glowing stream with startling
fidelity, and threw the flood of soft light in dazzling shimmer against
the fantastic portals of the white marble caverns on this side of the
stream. It was a scene never to forget, and again and again I paused in
silent wonder to feast my eyes upon some newly discovered beauty. Now,
for the first, I noted that every white marble basin of cove and inlet
was filled with a different glow, according to the nature of the tiny
phosphorescent animals which happened to fill its waters,—one being a
delicate pink, another a glorious red, the third a deep rich purple, the
fourth a soft blue, the fifth a golden yellow, and so on, the charm of
each tint being greatly enhanced by the snowy whiteness of these marble
basins, through which long lines of curious fish scaled in hues of
polished gold and silver swam slowly along, turning up their glorious
sides to catch the full splendor of the light reflected from the mica
mirrors. And now the chilly breath of King Gelidus’ domain no longer
filled the air. I stood in the tropics of the under world, so to speak;
and but one thing was lacking to make my enjoyment of this fairy region
complete, and that was some one to share it with me.

True, Bulger had an idea of its beauty, for he testified his happiness
at being once more in a warm land by executing some mad capers for my
amusement, and by scampering along the shore of the glowing river and
barking at the stately fish as they slowly fanned the water with their
many colored fins; but I must admit that I longed for the Princess
Schneeboule to keep me company. But it was a rash wish; for the warm air
would have thrown her into convulsions of fear, and she would have
preferred to meet her death in the cool river rather than attempt to
breathe such a fiery atmosphere. By this time I had advanced several
miles along the white shores of the glowing stream, and, feeling
somewhat fatigued, I was about to sit down on the jutting edge of a
natural bench of rock, which seemed almost placed on the river banks by
human hands for human forms to rest upon and watch the wonderful play of
tints and hues in this wide sweeping inlet, when, to my amazement, I saw
that a human creature was already sitting there.

His eyes were fixed upon the water, and methought that his face, which
was gentle and placid, wore a tired look. Certainly he was plunged into
such deep meditation that he either took or feigned to take no notice of
my approach. Bulger was inclined to dash forward and attract his
attention by a string of earsplitting barks, but I shook my head. This
wanderer along the glowing stream of day wore rather a graceful
cloak-like garment, woven of some substance that shimmered in the light,
and so I concluded that it must be mineral wool. His head was bare, and
so were his legs to the knees, his feet being shod with white metal
sandals tied on with what looked like leathern thongs. All in all, he
had a friendly though somewhat peculiar look about him, and his attitude
struck me as being that of a person either plunged into deep thought, or
possibly listening for some anxiously expected signal. At any rate,
accustomed as I was to meet all sorts of people on my travels in the
four corners of the globe, I determined to make bold enough to interrupt
the gentleman’s meditations and wish him good-morrow.

[Illustration: THROUGH THE REVOLVING DOOR.]

“Whom have I the pleasure of meeting in this beautiful section of the
World within a World?”

The man looked at me in a dazed sort of way and replied,—

“I really don’t know, I’m happy to say.”

“But, sir, thy name!” I insisted.

“Forgot it years ago,” was his remarkable answer.

“But surely, sir,” I exclaimed rather testily, “thou art not the sole
inhabitant of this beautiful under world,—thou hast kinsman, wife,
family?”

“Ay, gentle stranger,” he replied in slow and measured tones, “there are
people farther along the shore, and they are good, dear souls, although
I have forgotten their names, and I have, too, a very faint recollection
that two of those people are sons of mine. Stop! no, their names are
gone from me too, I forgot them the day my own name slipped from my
mind!” and as he uttered these words he threw his head back with a
sudden jerk and I heard a strange click inside of it, as if something
had slipped from its place, and that instant a mysterious expression
used by that Master of Masters, Don Fum, flashed through my mind.

Rattlebrains! Yes, that was it; and now I felt sure that I was standing
in the presence of one of the curious folk inhabiting the World within a
World, to whom Don Fum had given the strange name of Rattlebrains, or
Happy Forgetters.

I was so delighted that I could barely keep myself from rushing up to
this gentle-visaged and mild-mannered person, whose head had just given
forth the sharp click, and grasping him by the hand. But I feared to
shock him by such a friendly greeting, and so I contented myself with
crying out,—

“Sir, thou seest before thee none other than the famous traveller, Baron
Sebastian von Troomp!” but to my great amazement and greater chagrin he
simply turned his strange eyes, with the far-away look, upon me for an
instant, and then resumed his contemplation of the beautifully tinted
sheet of water, as if I hadn’t opened my mouth. It was the most
extraordinary treatment that I had experienced since my descent into the
under world, and I was upon the point of resenting it, as became a true
knight and especially a von Troomp, when Don Fum’s brief description of
the Rattlebrains, or Happy Forgetters, flitted through my mind.

Said he, “By the exercise of their strong wills they have been busy for
ages striving to unload their brains of the to them now useless stock of
knowledge accumulated by their ancestors, and the natural consequence
has been that the brains of these curious folk, who call themselves the
Happy Forgetters, relieved of all labor and strain of thought, have
absolutely shrunken rather than increased in size, so that with many of
the Happy Forgetters their brains are like the shrivelled kernel of a
last year’s nut and give forth a sharp click when they move their heads
suddenly with a jerk, as is often their wont, for they take great pride
in proving to the listener that they deserve the name of Rattlebrain.

“Nor do I need remind thee, O reader,” concluded Don Fum, in his
celebrated work on the “World within a World,” “that the chiefest among
the Happy Forgetters is the man whose head gives forth the loudest and
sharpest click; for he it is who has forgotten most.”

You can have but a faint idea, dear friends, of my delight at the
prospect of spending some time among these curious people—people who
look with absolute dread upon knowledge as the one thing necessary to
get rid of before happiness can enter the human heart.

No joy can equal the Happy Forgetter’s when, upon clasping a friend’s
hand, he finds that he has forgotten his very name; and no day is well
spent in this land at the close of which the inhabitant may not
exclaim,—

“This day I succeeded in forgetting something that I knew yesterday!”

At last the Happy Forgetter rose from his seat and calmly walked away,
without so much as wishing me good-day; but I was resolved not to be so
easily gotten rid of, so I called after him in a loud voice, and Bulger,
following my example, raised a racket at his heels, whereupon he faced
about and remarked,—

“Beg pardon, I had quite forgotten thee, I’m happy to say, and thy name
too, I’ve forgotten that; let me see, Art thou a radiate?” (One of the
animals in the water.) I was more than half inclined to lose my temper
at this slur, classing me, a back-boned animal, with a mere jelly-fish;
but under all the circumstances I thought it best to control myself, for
I could well imagine that from the size of my head and the utter absence
of all click inside of it, I was not destined to be a very welcome
visitor among the Happy Forgetters; and therefore, swallowing my injured
feelings, I made a very low bow, and begged this curious gentleman to be
kind enough to conduct me to his people—among whom I wished to abide for
a few days.



                             CHAPTER XXXII

  HOW WE ENTERED THE LAND OF THE HAPPY FORGETTERS.—SOMETHING MORE
    ABOUT THESE CURIOUS FOLK.—THEIR DREAD OF BULGER AND ME.—ONLY A
    STAY OF ONE DAY ACCORDED US.—DESCRIPTION OF THE PLEASANT HOMES OF
    THE HAPPY FORGETTERS.—THE REVOLVING DOOR THROUGH WHICH BULGER AND
    I ARE UNCEREMONIOUSLY SET OUTSIDE OF THE DOMAIN OF THE
    RATTLEBRAINS.—ALL ABOUT THE EXTRAORDINARY THINGS WHICH HAPPENED TO
    BULGER AND ME THEREAFTER.—ONCE MORE IN THE OPEN AIR OF THE UPPER
    WORLD, AND THEN HOMEWARD BOUND.


The Happy Forgetter pursued his way calmly along the winding path that
skirted the glowing river, apparently, and no doubt really, unconscious
of the fact that Bulger and I were following close at his heels. After
half an hour or so of this silent tramp, he suddenly came to a
standstill, and with his placid countenance turned toward the light
seemed to be so far away in thought that for several moments I hesitated
to address him. But as there were no signs of his showing any
disposition to come to himself, I made bold to ask him the cause of the
delay.

“I’m happy to say,” he remarked, without so much as deigning to turn his
head, “that I’ve forgotten which of these two roads leads to the homes
of our people.”

Well, this was a pleasant outlook to be sure, and, I don’t know what we
should have done had not Bulger solved the difficulty for us by making
choice of one of the paths and dashing on ahead with a bark of
encouragement for us to follow.

[Illustration: CAUGHT UP IN THE ARMS OF THE TORRENT.]

When I assured the Happy Forgetter that he need have no fear as to the
wisdom of the choice, he gave a start of almost horror at the
information; for you must know, dear friends, that the Happy Forgetter
has more dread of knowledge than we have of ignorance. To him it is the
mother of all discontent, the source of all unhappiness, the cause of
all the dreadful ills that have come upon the world, and the people in
it.

“The world,” said one of the Happy Forgetters to me sadly, “was
perfectly happy once, and man had no name for his brother, and yet he
loved him even as the turtle-dove loves his mate, although he has no
names to call her by. But, alas, one day this happiness came to an end,
for a strange malady broke out among the people. They were seized with a
wild desire to invent names for things; even many names for the same
thing, and different ways of doing the same thing. This strange passion
so grew upon them that they spent their lives in making them in every
possible way harder to live. They built different roads to the same
place, they made different clothes for different days, and different
dishes for different feasts. To each child they gave two, three, and
even four different names; and different shoes were fashioned for
different feet, and one family was no longer satisfied with one
drinking-gourd. Did they stop here?

“Nay, they now busied themselves learning how to make different faces to
different friends, covering a frown with a smile, and singing gay songs
when their hearts were sad. In a few centuries a brother could no longer
read a brother’s face, and one-half the world went about wondering what
the other half was thinking about; hence arose misunderstandings,
quarrels, feuds, warfare. Man was no longer content to dwell with his
fellow-man in the spacious caverns which kind nature had hollowed out
for him, piercing the mountains with winding passages beside which his
narrow streets dwindled to merest pathways.”

In the Land of the Happy Forgetters care never comes to trouble sleep,
nor anxious thought to wear the dread mask of To-morrow!

Happy the day on which this child of nature might exclaim: “Since morn
I’ve forgotten something! I’ve unloaded my mind! It’s one thought
lighter than it was!”

He was the happiest of the Happy Forgetters who could honestly say, I
know not thy name, nor when thou wast born, not where thou dwellest, nor
who thy kinsmen are; I only know that thou art my brother, and that thou
wilt not see me suffer if I should forget to eat, or perish of thirst if
I forget to drink, and that thou wilt bid me close my eyes if I should
forget that I had laid me down to sleep.

Bulger’s and my arrival in the Land of the Happy Forgetters filled the
hearts of these curious folk with secret dread. At sight of my large
head they all began to tremble like children in the dark stricken with
fear of bogy or goblin, and with one voice they refused to permit me to
sojourn a single brief half-hour among them; but gradually this sudden
terror passed off a bit, and after a council held by a few of the
younger men, whose brains as yet completely filled their heads, it was
determined that I might bide for another day in their land, but that
then the revolving door should be opened, and Bulger and I be thrust
outside of their domain.

From what Don Fum had written about the Happy Forgetters, I knew only
too well that it would be useless for me to attempt to reverse this
decree; so I held my peace, except to thank them for this great favor
shown me.

The daylight, if I may call it so, now began to wane, or rather the
thousands of light-giving creatures swarming in the river now began to
draw in their long tentacles, close their flower-like bodies, and slowly
sink to the bottom of the stream. I was quite anxious to see whether the
Happy Forgetters would make any attempt to light up their cavernous
homes, or whether they would simply creep off to bed and sleep out the
long hours of pitchy darkness. To my surprise, I now heard the clicking
of flints on all sides, and in a moment or so a thousand or more great
candles made of mineral wax with asbestos wicks were lighted, and the
great chambers of white marble were soon aglow with these soft and
steady flames.

The Happy Forgetters were strictly vegetable eaters, feeding upon the
various fungous plants growing in these caverns in great profusion,
together with a very nutritious and pleasant tasting jelly made from a
hardened gum of vegetable origin which abounded in the crevices of
certain rocks. There was still another source of food; namely, the nests
of certain shellfish, which they built against the face of the rock,
just above the surface of the river. These dissolved in boiling water
made an excellent broth, very much like the soup from edible birds’
nests.

The clothes worn by the Happy Forgetters were entirely woven from
mineral wool, which in these caverns gave a long and strong fibre of
astonishing softness. The Rattlebrains were tolerably good metal-workers
too, but contented themselves with fashioning only such articles as were
actually necessary for daily use. Their beds were stuffed with dried
seaweed and lichens, and Bulger and I passed a very comfortable night.

As I was forbidden to speak aloud, to ask a question, or to walk abroad
unless in company with one of the selectmen, I was not sorry when the
moment came for the revolving door to be opened. The Happy Forgetters
had been led to believe that Bulger and I were a thousand times more
dangerous than scaly monsters or black-winged vampires, and hence they
held themselves aloof from us, the children hiding behind their mothers,
and the mothers peering through crack and crevice at us.

The size of my head inspired them with a nameless dread, and even the
half-a-dozen of the younger and more courageous drew aside instinctively
to let me pass.

For the first time in my life I was an object of horror to my
fellow-creatures, but I had no hard thoughts against them! Timid
children of nature that they were, to them I was as terrible an object
as the torch-armed demon of destruction would be to us were he let loose
in one of our fair cities of the upper world.

And now the guard of Happy Forgetters had halted in front of what seemed
to me to be a huge cask fashioned of solid marble, and set one-half
within the white wall of the cavern to which they had led me. But on
second glance I saw that there was a row of square holes around its
bulge, like those in the top of a capstan.

The Happy Forgetters now disappeared for a moment, and when they joined
me again each bore in hand a metal bar, the end of which he set in one
of these holes, and then at a signal from the leader the huge
half-circle of marble began to turn noiselessly around, exactly like a
capstan. As each man’s lever came to the wall, he shifted it to the
front again. Suddenly, to my amazement, I saw that the great marble cask
was hollow, like a sentry box; and you may judge of my feelings, dear
friends, upon being politely requested to step inside.

Did I refuse to obey?

Not I. It would have been useless, for was not the whole tribe of
Rattlebrains there to lay hands upon me and thrust me in?

So taking off my hat and making a low bow to the little group of Happy
Forgetters, I stepped within the hollow cask and Bulger did the same;
but not with so good a grace as his master, for, casting an angry glance
at the inhospitable dwellers in these chambers of white marble, he
growled and laid bare his teeth to show his contempt for them.

Now the great marble cask began to revolve the other way and in a moment
it was back in place again.

I heard several sharp clicks as if a number of huge spring latches had
snapped into place, and then all was silent as the tomb, and I had
almost said as dark too; but no, I could not say that, for I looked out
into a low tunnel which ran past the niche in which Bulger and I were
standing, and to my more than wonder it was dimly lighted.

[Illustration: HURLED OUT IN THE SUNSHINE.]

I stepped out into it; it was as round as a cannon bore and just high
enough for me to stand erect; and now I discovered whence the light
proceeded. In the cracks and crevices of its walls grew vast masses of
those delicate light-giving fungous rootlets, the glow of which was so
strong that I had no difficulty in reading the writing on my tablets; in
fact, I stood there for several minutes making entries by the light of
these bunches of glowing rootlets.

Then the thought dashed through my mind,—

“Which way shall I turn, to the right or to the left?”

Bulger comprehended the cause of my vacillation and made haste to come
to my rescue. After sniffing the air, first in one direction and then in
the other, he chose the right hand, and I followed without a thought of
questioning his wisdom. Strange to say, he had not advanced more than a
few hundred rods before I noticed that there was a strong current of air
blowing through the tunnel in the direction Bulger had taken.

Every moment it increased in violence, fairly lifting us from our feet
and bearing us along through this narrow bore made by nature’s own hands
and lighted too by lamps of her own fashioning. The motion of the air
through this vast pipe caused bursts of mighty tones as if peeled forth
by some gigantic organ played by giant hands. It was strange, but yet I
felt no terror as I listened to this unearthly music, although its depth
of tone jarred painfully upon my ear-drums.

By the dim light of the luminous rootlets, I could see Bulger just ahead
of me, and I was content. No shiver of fear ran down my back, or robbed
my limbs of their full power to resist the ever-increasing pressure of
the air. But as it grew stronger and stronger, half of my own accord and
half because Bulger set the example, I broke into a run. Our pace once
quickened it was impossible for me to slow up again. On, on, in a mad
race, my feet scarcely touching the bottom of the tunnel, I sped along,
while the great pipe through which I was borne on the very wings of the
gale sent forth its deep and majestic peal.

There was something strangely and mysteriously exciting in this race,
and all that kept me from enjoying it to my full bent was the thought
that a sudden increase in the violence of the blast might toss me
violently on my face and possibly break an arm for me or injure me in
some serious way.

All at once the deep pealing forth of the organ-like tone ceased, and in
its stead came the awful sound of rushing water. Before I had time to
think, it was upon me, striking me like a terrific blow from some
gigantic fist wearing a boxing-glove. The next instant I was caught up
like a cork on a mountain torrent, swayed from side to side, twisted,
turned, sucked down and cast up again, whirled over and over, tossed and
tumbled, rolled along like a wheel, my arms and legs the spokes!

Wonderful to relate, I did not lose consciousness as this terrible
current shot me like a stick of timber through a flume, whither I knew
not, only that the speed and volume went ever on increasing until at
last the tumultuous torrent filled the tunnel, and robbed me of light,
of breath, of life, of everything, including my faithful and loving
Bulger!

How long it lasted—this fearful ride in the arms of these mad waters,
rushing as if for life or death through this narrow bore—I know not; I
only know that my ears were suddenly assailed with a mighty whizz and
rush of water as through the nozzle of some gigantic hose, and that I
was shot out into the glorious sunshine, out into the grand, free, open
air of the upper world, and sent flying up toward the dear, blue sky
with its flecks of fleecy cloudlets, and Bulger some twenty feet ahead
of me, and that then, with a gracefully curved flight through the soft
and balmy air of harvest time, we both were gently dropped into a quiet
little lake nestled at the foot of a hillside yellow with ripened corn.
In a moment or so we had swum ashore. Bulger wanted to halt and shake
the water from his thick coat, but I couldn’t wait for that. Wet as he
was, I clasped him to my heart while he showered caresses on me. But not
a word was said, not a sound was uttered. We were both of us too happy
to speak, and if you have ever been in that state, dear friends, you
know how it feels.

I can’t describe it to you.

At this moment some men and boys clad in the garb of the Russian peasant
came racing across the fields to see what I was about, no doubt, for I
had stripped off my heavy outside clothing, and was spreading it out in
the sun to dry.

Upon sight of these red-cheeked children of the upper world I was so
overcome with joy that for a minute or so I couldn’t get a syllable
across my lips, but making a great effort I cried out,—

“Fathers! Brothers! Where am I? Speak! dear souls!”

“In north-eastern Siberia, little soul,” replied the eldest of the
party, “not far from the banks of the Obi; but whence comest thou? By
Saint Nicholas, I believe thou wast spit out of the spouting well! What
art thou doing here alone?”

I paid no attention to the question. I was thinking of something else of
more importance to me, to wit: my splendid achievement, the marvellous
underground journey I had just completed, fully five hundred miles in
length, passing completely under the Ural Mountains! After a short stay
at the nearest village, I engaged the best guide that was to be had, and
crossing the Urals by the pass in the most direct line, re-entered
Russia and made haste to join the first government train on its way to
St. Petersburg.

Having despatched an _avant courier_ with letters to my beloved parents,
informing them of my good health and whereabouts, I passed several weeks
very pleasantly in the Russian capital, and then by easy stages set out
for home.

The elder baron came as far as Riga to meet me, and brought me the best
of news from Castle Trump, that my dear mother was in perfect health,
and that she and every man, woman, and child in and about the castle
were anxiously waiting to give me a real German welcome back home again.
And here, dear friends, _mit herzlichen Grüsse_, Bulger and I take our
leave of you.



                         By INGERSOLL LOCKWOOD


  THE TRAVELS AND ADVENTURES OF LITTLE BARON TRUMP AND HIS WONDERFUL
    DOG BULGER

           Illustrated by GEORGE WHARTON EDWARDS Cloth $2.00

  THE WONDERFUL DEEDS AND DOINGS OF LITTLE GIANT BOAB AND HIS TALKING
    RAVEN TABIB

               Illustrated by CLIFTON JOHNSON Cloth $2.00

  EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES OF LITTLE CAPTAIN DOPPELKOP ON THE SHORES
    OF BUBBLELAND

               Illustrated by CLIFTON JOHNSON Cloth $2.00

  BARON TRUMP’S MARVELLOUS UNDERGROUND JOURNEY

           Illustrated by CHARLES HOWARD JOHNSON Price $2.00



            Little Baron Trump and His Wonderful Dog Bulger


                             PRESS NOTICES

  =BOSTON TIMES.= “Mr. Ingersoll Lockwood is nothing if not
    original—and he _is_ original. The most partial critic would not
    dare to deny him that desirable gift after a glance at his ‘Little
    Baron Trump.’ Like the great Munchausen, the little Baron has a
    passion for travel, a lust of adventure, a fever of imagination.
    He sees, says, and does queer things; accidents never heard of
    outside the lunatic asylums and Mr. Lockwood’s pages test his
    resources at every hand; to ‘grapple with an emergency’ is beneath
    him—he simply walks over it. We owe Mr. Lockwood thanks, too, for
    that he has neglected to wrap a moral around his tales, and has
    given us simply a delightful example of the art of sustained
    fooling.”

  =UTICA HERALD.= “A book which might easily be rated one of the
    posthumous chapters of the ‘Arabian Nights,’ so far as its style
    goes, and possessing, as the little Baron observes, ‘an almost
    Oriental exuberance of fancy.’ The pictures by Mr. Edwards are
    very comical, and as ingenious as they are quaint. But they are
    hardly as wonderful as the doings of the young Baron and his more
    wonderful confidant, Bulger. Surely never was such another dog as
    he.”

  =NATIONAL TRIBUNE.= “The travels and adventures of Baron Trump and
    the bulldog are indeed extraordinary, even more so than those of
    ‘Sinbad the Sailor.’ The book is full of quaint humor,
    side-splitting at times. The Baron is an extremely precocious
    youngster, and Bulger, though he cannot talk, is gifted with the
    worldly wisdom and acuteness of a Prime Minister.”

  =WOMAN’S CYCLE.= “Poor Munchausen won his reputation in the nick of
    time. A few generations later and he would have had no chance at
    all. His inventive genius would have fallen below that of a
    reporter for a ‘great’ daily. Imagination is accustomed nowadays
    to astounding flights. It performs a series of them in this book,
    which is also illustrated so comically as to make the small boy
    sit on the floor and wriggle with delight, while his elders guffaw
    boisterously. It is, in fact, a ‘funny’ book.”

  =NEW YORK SUN.= “A very whimsical and ingenious tale is that
    entitled ‘Little Baron Trump and His Wonderful Dog Bulger.’ Young
    or old readers will appreciate the humor of the author. The
    illustrations by George Wharton Edwards admirably supplement the
    text.”

  =ALTA CALIFORNIAN.= “Heathen mythology, ‘The Arabian Nights,’ and
    the modern fairy tale are brought to mind by the wonderful scenes,
    but there is no evidence of plagiarism, startling originality
    being far more in the author’s line than surreptitious imitation.
    Many of the marvels are ingeniously founded on the scientific
    theories of recent years, and satires on popular shortcomings or
    delusions are conveyed in the guise of some perilous experience.
    The author has evidently given full but harmless rein to an
    original and prolific imagination.”

  =PORTLAND TELEGRAM.= “One of the most interesting stories for young
    people ever issued by an American publisher. Its humor is
    contagious, its fun rollicking, while the variety and astonishing
    nature of the experiences of the pair holds the reader captive
    until the end. The illustrations by Wharton Edwards lend an added
    charm to the work.”

  =N. Y. TRIBUNE.= “Mr. Lockwood’s clever book, though modelled, no
    doubt, on Munchausen’s narrative, has a whimsical originality of
    invention which the first Baron might have envied. It is a
    question whether the very youthful reader will fully appreciate
    all the fun which an older reader finds therein; but it is certain
    that the book will not be dropped until the last prodigious
    adventure is absorbed. As a book of fantastic impossibilities,
    gravely set forth, it is the most attractive devised in many a
    season.”

  =PUBLIC OPINION.= “One of the jolliest and most rollicking stories
    of the year. It is an old-time children’s story, full of marvel,
    mystery, and adventure. The author, Ingersoll Lockwood, has
    succeeded in writing a capital boy’s book that is at once
    fascinating and wholesome, as well as being good literature. The
    abundant illustrations, drawn by George Wharton Edwards, are
    admirably executed, and form a strong re-enforcement to the
    interest as well as the beauty of the work.”

  =SACRAMENTO BEE.= “A clean, well written, interesting children’s
    book, but its adventures are so wonderful and so quaintly told
    that many a parent who would buy the book as a Christmas present
    for his children would be beguiled into reading it for his own
    amusement.”

  =ST. PAUL DISPATCH.= “It is a fanciful tale with a healthy tone
    throughout. Moreover, it is put in an attractive form, the cover
    being an unique combination of gray, black and brown, while the
    print is clear and the illustrations very attractive. ‘Bulger’ was
    Little Baron Trump’s companion from his birth; the relation of his
    attachment for his master and their adventures among strange
    peoples and in new countries is very entertaining. The book will
    be heartily welcomed by both boys and girls, and it is a safe book
    to place in their hands.”

  =BROOKLYN EAGLE.= “A delightfully absurd and sarcastic boy’s story
    is ‘Little Baron Trump and His Wonderful Dog Bulger,’ with equally
    absurd and wonderful illustrations. It is as remarkable for its
    powers of absurdity as ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ or ‘Alice in
    Wonderland,’ if not so sarcastic as the first, and the
    illustrations are not merely absurd travesties, but works of art
    characteristically and in drawing. Bulger is truly a wonderful
    dog, but no more wonderful than his phenomenally brainy young
    master and the great variety of preposterous people he falls in
    with.”

  =CHRISTIAN STANDARD.= “One of those strange, whimsical, julesvernish
    romances which, while they have neither mission nor moral, plot or
    purpose, are strangely fascinating to children. This quaint and
    curious volume of never-to-be-forgotten lore is rendered the more
    attractive by numerous grotesque, giggles-begetting illustrations,
    by George Wharton Edwards.”

  =HEALTH AND HOME.= “This work will delight both young and old. It
    gives a series of ludicrous adventures of the Little Baron and his
    famous dog that are not only amusing, but, in many cases, point
    useful morals. It contains over 300 pages, all of which brim over
    with genuine humor, and is just the book for boys who are wearing
    their first pants, or even of a larger growth.”

  =MINNEAPOLIS TRIBUNE.= “A romance of wonderland, for old and young.
    It would be difficult to find a volume of adventures which would
    surpass Mr. Lockwood’s presentations of the wonders of travel, and
    of the deeds of the valiant heroes who trumpet their bravery and
    daring after laughable and amusing style.”



          Little Captain Doppelkop on the Shores of Bubbleland


                             PRESS NOTICES

  =CLEVELAND PLAINDEALER.= “Ingersoll Lockwood, who delighted and
    bewildered readers young and old with those queer extravaganzas,
    ‘Little Baron Trump’ and ‘Little Giant Boab,’ has perpetrated
    another joke of the same kind in his ‘Extraordinary Experiences of
    Little Captain Doppelkop on the Shores of Bubbleland.’ The boy,
    who was twins in himself, a sort of juvenile Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
    Hyde, has a lot of surprising and comical adventures that are
    narrated by himself—or perhaps we ought to say more truthfully,
    though ungrammatically, ‘themself’—with delightful simplicity.”

  =BOSTON HOME JOURNAL.= “For its quaint conceptions it has never been
    surpassed, if equalled, by anything of the kind. The idea of
    creating a character like that of Little Captain Doppelkop was a
    great stroke of genius. The adventures of the Little Captain in
    Bubbleland are of the most marvellous character, and constantly
    lead from one surprise to another still more surprising, and they
    are related with a sparkle and naturalness that keep the reader’s
    high interest continually on the topmost round of expectancy. If
    Mr. Lockwood can beat his own record on this extravaganza, then he
    will indeed stand the champion imaginator of the world.”

  =NORTHWESTERN MAGAZINE.= “Ingersoll Lockwood has quite outdone
    himself this time. The trouble is there are 287 large pages of
    pure enjoyment and fun for your open-mouthed boys, and the small
    ones won’t let you stop till you’ve read them every one, not to
    speak of letting them take the book at every page or two to look
    at the droll pictures which Clifton Johnson has so fitted to the
    text. ‘Little Captain Doppelkop’ was two children rolled into one,
    and their adventures in Glaucus’ Gluepot, Bubbleland, the Castle
    of Indolence, and elsewhere—all kept even poor old me interested.
    The book is bound prettily in gray-green, touched up with darker
    and gold; just the book for your boy’s Xmas tree.”

  =THE HOUSEKEEPER.= “‘Little Captain Doppelkop,’ being the
    extraordinary experiences of the oddest and most amusing little
    fellow that ever made or found his way from wonderful babyhood and
    its mysteries out into the big, crazy world. Ingersoll Lockwood,
    the author of this book, makes it his business to stow away a lot
    of sense into a hundred small packets of nonsense, so that the boy
    or girl who reads the three hundred pages that tell all about the
    impossible absurdities of the little Captain will be the happier
    and the wiser.”

  =BOSTON COURIER.= “This we confess to finding one of the most
    amusing and ingenious books of its kind that has been written in
    our time. It is spontaneous and sparkling, and there is throughout
    an unfailing succession of novel surprises such as only the most
    fantastically fertile fancy could have devised. The central idea,
    that of the boy who was really two persons, is a capital one, good
    enough to make the fortune of any book, and it is capitally
    carried out.”

  =NEW LONDON TELEGRAPH.= “‘Little Captain Doppelkop’ is an
    extravaganza as curious as was ever conceived and depicted in
    prose and picture. Ingersoll Lockwood showed in ‘Little Baron
    Trump’ how possible it was to be a delightful yet perfectly
    unobjectionable Munchausen. ‘Little Captain Doppelkop,’ from
    beginning to end, is filled with entrancing and absorbing
    adventures, and the facile pencil fully supplements the pen. No
    such work has been attempted by American writers, and the great
    success which attended Mr. Ingersoll in his former achievement
    cannot fail to be repeated now. The spirit, energy, and simple way
    in which the narrative seems to hug the possible render it so
    effective that whoever takes it up finds himself turning page
    after page until he unwillingly comes to the last.”

  =BOSTON GLOBE.= “‘Little Captain Doppelkop’—why ‘Doppelkop’ it is
    necessary to read—is bound to be a tremendous success, and
    deserves a place as a child’s classic with those which delighted
    our boyhood.”



             Little Giant Boab and His Talking Raven Tabib


                             PRESS NOTICES

  =NEW YORK TRIBUNE.= “‘The Wonderful Deeds and Doings of Little Giant
    Boab and his Talking Raven Tabib’ takes higher rank than any other
    book of the season intended for young people, and is indeed even
    cleverer than its amusing predecessor, which recounted the
    adventures of Baron Trump and his delightful dog Bulger. In this
    story of a mighty young Spanish giant, Tabib, the raven, plays the
    guiding, protecting, and humorous part taken by Bulger in Mr.
    Ingersoll Lockwood’s first story, and his somewhat cynical
    shrewdness and hearty affection for his master make the ‘little
    gentleman in black’ a very winning figure. With the humorous tone
    of the book is blent a sweet and kindly spirit that much enhances
    the charms of its wild adventures.”

  =CRITIC, NEW YORK.= “‘Boab’ is short for Boabdil de Clavigero, and
    the appellative ‘Little Giant’ but faintly indicates the prodigies
    of strength and valor performed by this marvellous child, in an
    elaborately erudite introduction, bristling with indisputable
    citations in black-letter from sixteenth-century travellers, our
    clever author seeks to dispel any possible doubt as to the real
    existence of his hero. Ingenious Mr. Lockwood! don’t you know that
    the day is past when we youngsters used to query ‘Is it true?’ Few
    will concern themselves, as they follow with breathless eagerness
    the career of this precocious boy, to discover the dividing line
    between fact and fancy. There seems to be no limit to the author’s
    imagination, and Boab is brought bravely out of one combination of
    perils only to be involved in another still more alarming. Nothing
    is impossible to his strong arm and quick wit, and whether
    shouldering a massive castle-door, or tripping up El Gran Capitan
    and pinning him to the floor with a two-ton statue, or vanquishing
    the frightful man-bat, or getting ahead of the wall of living
    stones, or driving the cardinal through night and tempest, over
    the mountains to the Malaga, he is in all the same plucky,
    invincible, good-natured little fellow—with whom every year will
    be loth to part. Fun, novelty, satire, pathos—these are a few of
    the elements that make this a most attractive book for the young.”

  =BROOKLYN STANDARD UNION.= “It is a pretty hard thing to invent a
    really new fairy tale, so completely has the ground been gone over
    by the old veteran story-tellers; but in ‘Little Giant Boab’ Mr.
    Lockwood has given the young folk a tale which is in many respects
    original, which contains many new situations and ingenious
    inventions, which is whimsical to the last degree, full of subtle
    humor and rollicking fun. It is a delightful tale, that will be
    quite as successful as ‘Little Baron Trump and his Wonderful Dog
    Bulger,’ which made such a hit last season. The funny and
    wonderful doings of Giant Boab and his raven, with the humorous
    account of Boab’s ancestors, his appearance in Queen Isabel’s
    court, his feats of strength, his exploits in the Spanish camp,
    together with all his subsequent journeyings, will be read and
    listened to and talked over in many a household during the coming
    holidays. The illustrations, too, are in admirable keeping with
    the spirit of the story, and fitly supplement as well as adorn the
    text. Giant Boab is destined to be a formidable rival to Baron
    Munchausen himself.”

  =BOSTON BEACON.= “Ingersoll Lockwood has seized an old Moorish
    legend and made use of it to furnish a first-rate fairy tale which
    will delight the children almost as much as older folk are
    delighted with ‘Don Quixote.’ Little Giant Boab is as interesting
    a character as Hop O’ My Thumb of English birth, and incidental to
    his adventures valuable insight into the customs and ways of Spain
    is afforded. The book has many wood-cuts by Clifton Johnson. Mr.
    Lockwood displays astonishing versatility, unlimited powers of
    invention, unfailing humor, and a satirical purpose which seems to
    be so closely interwoven with the whole narrative that its force
    depends altogether on the reader’s capacity of comprehension. Like
    Swift’s ‘Gulliver’ tales, the stories of the exploits of the
    Little Giant will be a source of unending entertainment to the
    young, while their elders will relish the clever manner in which
    all sorts of human weaknesses are exhibited in the light of
    wholesome ridicule. Mr. Clifton Johnson has added a large number
    of illustrations admirably suited to the text.”

  =ZION’S HERALD.= “This is a fairy tale which will especially delight
    the children. Tabib was a sly and cunning bird, but Boab was a
    good and brave boy; and putting these two together and setting
    them off, to take together whatever adventures may befall them, is
    sure to create a fascinating interest in them for the young. And
    then, too, the pictures are so many, and in many cases so funny,
    that this will be another source of pleasure to the reader.”


                   LEE AND SHEPARD Publishers Boston

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES


 1. Moved the beginning advertising page to the beginning of the
      advertising section at the end.
 2. Changed “just us the” to “just as the” on p 66.
 3. “Strepholofidgeguaneriusfum” is later spelled as
      “Strephalofidgeguaneriusfum”. No change.
 4. Silently corrected typographical errors.
 5. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.
 6. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.





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+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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