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- The Last of the Huggermuggers - 2/7 -
companions--there were six of them--and they all determined to look about as far inland as they dared to go, for some kind of fruit or vegetable which might satisfy their appetites. They were not long in discovering a kind of beach-plum, about as big as watermelons, which grew on a bush so tall, that they had to reach the fruit at arm's length, and on tiptoe. The stalks were covered with very sharp thorns, about a foot long. Some of these thorns they cut off, (they had their knives in their pockets still,) for Little Jacket thought they might be of service to them in defending themselves against any wild animal which might prowl around at night. It chanced that Little Jacket found good use for his in the end, as we shall see. When they had gathered enough of these great plums, they sat down and dined upon them.
They found them a rather coarse, but not unpalatable fruit. As they were still very wet, they took off their clothes, and dried them in the sun: for the storm had ceased, and the sun now came out very warm. The great waves, however, still dashed up on the beach. When their clothes were dry, they put them on, and feeling a good deal refreshed, spent the rest of the day in looking about to see what was to be done for the future. As night came on, they felt a good deal dispirited; but Little Jacket encouraged his companions, by telling stories of sailors who had been saved, or had been taken under the protection of the kings of the country, and had married the king's daughters, and all that. So they found a group of the great shells near each other, seven of them, lying high and dry out of the reach of the dashing waves, and, after bidding each other good night, they crept in. Little Jacket found his dry and clean, and having curled himself up, in spite of his anxiety about the future, was soon fast asleep.
HOW HUGGERMUGGER CAME ALONG.
Now it happened that Little Jacket was not altogether wrong in his fancies about giants, for there _was_ a giant living in this island where the poor sailors were wrecked. His name was Huggermugger, and he and his giantess wife lived at the foot of the great cliffs they had seen in the distance. Huggermugger was something of a farmer, something of a hunter, and something of a fisherman. Now, it being a warm, clear, moonlight night, and Huggermugger being disposed to roam about, thought he would take a walk down to the beach to see if the late storm had washed up any clams [Footnote: The "clam" is an American bivalve shell-fish, so called from hiding itself in the sand. A "clam chowder" is a very savory kind of thick soup, of which the clam is a chief ingredient. I put in this note for the benefit of little English boys and girls, if it should chance that this story should find its way to their country.] or oysters, or other shell-fish, of which he was very fond. Having gathered a good basket full, he was about returning, when his eye fell upon the group of great shells in which Little Jacket and his friends were reposing, all sound asleep.
[Illustration: THE GIANT PICKS UP LITTLE JACKET'S BEDROOM.]
"Now," thought Huggermugger, "my wife has often asked me to fetch home one of these big shells. She thinks it would look pretty on her mantel-piece, with sunflowers sticking in it. Now I may as well gratify her, though I can't exactly see the use of a shell without a fish in it. Mrs. Huggermugger must see something in these shells that I don't."
So he didn't stop to choose, but picked up the first one that came to his hand, and put it in his basket. It was the very one in which Little Jacket was asleep. The little sailor slept too soundly to know that he was travelling, free of expense, across the country at a railroad speed, in a carriage made of a giant's fish-basket. Huggermugger reached his house, mounted his huge stairs, set down his basket, and placed the big shell on the mantel-piece.
"Wife," says he, "here's one of those good-for-nothing big shells you have often asked me to bring home."
"Oh, what a beauty," says she, as she stuck a sunflower in it, and stood gazing at it in mute admiration. But, Huggermugger being hungry, would not allow her to stand idle.
[Illustration: MRS. HUGGERMUGGER ADMIRES THE SHELL AND SUNFLOWER.]
"Come," says he, "let's have some of these beautiful clams cooked for supper--they are worth all your fine shells with nothing in them."
So they sat down, and cooked and ate their supper, and then went to bed.
Little Jacket, all this time, heard nothing of their great rumbling voices, being in as sound a sleep as he ever enjoyed in his life. He awoke early in the morning, and crept out of a shell--but he could hardly believe his eyes, and thought himself still dreaming, when he found himself and his shell on a very high, broad shelf, in a room bigger than any church he ever saw. He fairly shook and trembled in his shoes, when the truth came upon him that he had been trapped by a giant, and was here a prisoner in his castle. He had time enough, however, to become cool and collected, for there was not a sound to be heard, except now and then something resembling a thunder-like snoring, as from some distant room. "Aha," thought Little Jacket to himself, "it is yet very early, and the giant is asleep, and there may be time yet to get myself out of his clutches."
He was a brave little fellow, as well as a true Yankee in his smartness and ingenuity. So he took a careful observation of the room, and its contents. The first thing to be done was to let himself down from the mantel-piece. This was not an easy matter as it was very high. If he jumped, he would certainly break his legs. He was not long in discovering one of Huggermugger's fishing-lines tied up and lying not far from him. This he unrolled, and having fastened one end of it to a nail which he managed just to reach, he let the other end drop (it was as large as a small rope) and easily let himself down to the floor. He then made for the door, but that was fastened. Jacky, however, was determined to see what could be done, so he pulled out his jackknife, and commenced cutting into the corner of the door at the bottom, where it was a good deal worn, as if it had been gnawed by the rats. He thought that by cutting a little now and then, and hiding himself when the giant should make his appearance, in time he might make an opening large enough for him to squeeze himself through. Now Huggermugger was by this time awake, and heard the noise which Jacky made with his knife.
"Wife," says he, waking her up--she was dreaming about her beautiful shell--"wife, there are those eternal rats again, gnawing, gnawing at that door; we must set the trap for them to-night."
Little Jacket heard the giant's great voice, and was very much astonished that he spoke English. He thought that giants spoke nothing but "chow-chow-whangalorum-hallaballoo with a-ruffle-bull-bagger!" This made him hope that Huggermugger would not eat him. So he grew very hopeful, and determined to persevere. He kept at his work, but as softly as he could. But Huggermugger heard the noise again, or fancied he heard it, and this time came to see if he could not kill the rat that gnawed so steadily and so fearlessly. Little Jacket heard him coming, and rushed to hide himself. The nearest place of retreat was one of the giant's great boots, which lay on the floor, opening like a cave before him. Into this he rushed. He had hardly got into it before Huggermugger entered.
WHAT HAPPENED TO LITTLE JACKET IN THE GIANT'S BOOT.
Huggermugger made a great noise in entering, and ran up immediately to the door at which Little Jacket had been cutting, and threshed about him with a great stick, right and left. He then went about the room, grumbling and swearing, and poking into all the corners and holes in search of the rat; for he saw that the hole under the door had been enlarged, and he was sure that the rats had done it. So he went peeping and poking about, making Little Jacket not a little troubled, for he expected every moment that he would pick up the boot in which he was concealed, and shake him out of his hiding-place. Singularly enough, however, the giant never thought of looking into his own boots, and very soon he went back to his chamber to dress himself. Little Jacket now ventured to peep out of the boot, and stood considering what was next to be done. He hardly dared to go again to the door, for Huggermugger was now dressed, and his wife too, for he heard their voices in the next room, where they seemed to be preparing their breakfast. Little Jacket now was puzzling his wits to think what he should do, if the giant should take a fancy to put his boots on before he could discover another hiding-place. He noticed, however, that there were other boots and shoes near by, and so there was a chance that Huggermugger might choose to put on some other pair. If this should be the case, he might lie concealed where he was during the day, and at night work away again at the hole in the door, which he hoped to enlarge enough soon, to enable him to escape. He had not much time, however, for thought; for the giant and his wife soon came in. By peeping out a little, he could just see their great feet shuffling over the wide floor.
"And now, wife." says Huggermugger, "bring me my boots." He was a lazy giant, and his wife spoiled him, by waiting on him too much.
"Which boots, my dear," says she.
"Why, the long ones," says he; "I am going a hunting to-day, and shall have to cross the marshes."
Little Jacket hoped the long boots were not those in one of which he was concealed, but unfortunately they were the very ones. So he felt a great hand clutch up the boots, and him with them, and put them down in another place. Huggermugger then took up one of the boots and drew it on, with a great grunt. He now proceeded to take up the other. Little Jacket's first impulse was to run out and throw himself on the giant's mercy, but he feared lest he should be taken for a rat. Besides he now thought of a way to defend himself, at least for a while. So he drew from his belt one of the long thorns he had cut from the bush by the seaside, and held it ready to thrust it into his adversary's foot, if he could. But he forgot that though it was as a sword in _his_ hand, it was but a thorn to a giant. Huggermugger had drawn the boot nearly on, and Little Jacket's daylight was all gone, and the giant's great toes were pressing down on him, when he gave them as fierce a thrust as he could with his thorn.
"Ugh!" roared out the giant, in a voice like fifty mad bulls; "wife, wife, I say!"
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