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- The Last of the Huggermuggers - 4/7 -
digestion, should he attempt to swallow them.
HOW LITTLE JACKET AND HIS FRIENDS LEFT THE GIANT'S ISLAND.
Very soon the sailors found a nice, large, dry cave in the rocks. There they brought dry sea-weed and made it into beds, and lived on the fish and fruits, which they had not much difficulty in obtaining. They even dragged their beautiful shells into the cave, and made little closets and cupboards of them. Their cups and plates were made of smaller bivalve shells. Their drink was clear spring-water, which they discovered near by, mixed with the juice of fruits.
They lived in this way for several weeks, always hoping some good luck would happen. At last, one day, they saw a ship a few miles from the shore. They all ran to the top of a rock, and shouted and waved their hats. Soon, to their indescribable joy, they saw a boat approaching the shore. They did not wait for it to reach the land, but being all good swimmers, with one accord plunged into the sea and swam to the boat. The sailors in the boat proved to be all Americans, and the ship was the Nancy Johnson, from Portsmouth, N. H., bound to the East Indies, but being out of water had made for land to obtain a supply.
The poor fellows were glad enough to get on board ship again. As they sailed off, they fancied they saw in the twilight, the huge forms of the great Mr. and Mrs. Huggermugger on the rocks, gazing after them with open eyes and mouths.
They pointed them out to the people of the ship, as Little Jacket related his wonderful adventures: but the sailors only laughed at them, and saw nothing but huge rocks and trees; and they whispered among themselves, that the poor fellows had lived too long on tough clams and sour berries, and cold water, and that a little jolly life on board ship would soon cure their disordered imaginations.
Little Jacket and his friends were treated very kindly by the Captain and crew of the Nancy Johnson, and as a few more sailors were wanted on board, their services were gladly accepted. They all arrived safely at Java, where the ship took in a cargo of coffee. Little Jacket often related his adventures in the giant's island, but the sailors, though many of them were inclined to believe in marvellous stories, evidently did not give much credit to Jacky's strange tale, but thought he must have dreamed it all.
There was, however, one man who came frequently on board the ship while at Java, who seemed not altogether incredulous. He was a tall, powerful Yankee, who went by the name of Zebedee Nabbum.
He had been employed as an agent of Barnum, to sail to the Indies and other countries in search of elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, tigers, baboons, and any wild animals he might chance to ensnare. He had been fitted out with a large ship and crew, and all the men and implements necessary for this exciting and dangerous task, and had been successful in entrapping two young elephants, a giraffe, a lion, sixteen monkeys, and a great number of parrots. He was now at Java superintending the manufacture of a very powerful net of grass-ropes, an invention of his own, with which he hoped to catch a good many more wild animals, and return to America, and make his fortune by exhibiting them for Mr. Barnum.
Now Zebedee Nabbum listened with profound attention to Little Jacket's story, and pondered and pondered over it.
[Illustration: MR. NABBUM HEARS LITTLE JACKET'S STORY.]
"And after all," he said to himself, "why shouldn't it be true? Don't we read in Scripter that there war giants once? Then why hadn't there ought to be some on 'em left--in some of them remote islands whar nobody never was? Grimminy! If it should be true--if we should find Jacky's island--if we should see the big critter alive, or his wife--if we could slip a noose under his legs and throw him down--or carry along the great net and trap him while he war down on the beach arter his clams, and manage to tie him and carry him off in my ship! He'd kick, I know. He'd a kind o' roar and struggle, and maybe swamp the biggest raft we could make to fetch him. But couldn't we starve him into submission? Or, if we gave him plenty of clams, couldn't we keep him quiet? Or couldn't we give the critter _Rum?_--I guess he don't know nothin' of ardent sperets--and obfusticate his wits--and get him reglar boozy--couldn't we do any thing we chose to, then? An't it worth tryin', any how? If we _could_ catch him, and get him to Ameriky alive, or only his skeleton, my fortune's made, I cal'late. I kind o' can't think that young fellow's been a gullin' me. He talks as though he'd seen the awful big critters with his own eyes. So do the other six fellows--they couldn't all of 'em have been dreamin'."
So Zebedee had a conversation one day with the Captain of the Nancy Johnson, and found out from him that he had taken the latitude and longitude of the coast where they took away the shipwrecked sailors. The Captain also described to Zebedee the appearance of the coast; and, in short, Zebedee contrived to get all the information about the place the Captain could give him, without letting it appear that he had any other motive in asking questions than mere curiosity.
ZEBEDEE AND JACKY PUT THEIR HEADS TOGETHER.
Zebedee now communicated to Little Jacket his plans about sailing for the giant's coast, and entrapping Huggermugger and carrying him to America. Little Jacket was rather astonished at the bold scheme of the Yankee, and tried to dissuade him from attempting it. But Zebedee had got his head so full of the notion now, that he was determined to carry out his project, if he could. He even tried to persuade Little Jacket to go with him, and his six companions, and finally succeeded. The six other sailors, however, swore that nothing would tempt them to expose themselves again on shore to the danger of being taken by the giant. Little Jacket agreed to land with Zebedee and share all danger with him, on condition that Zebedee would give him half the profits Barnum should allow them from the exhibition of the giant in America. But Little Jacket made Zebedee promise that he would be guided by his advice, in their endeavors to ensnare the giant. Indeed, a new idea had entered Jacky's head as to the best way of getting Huggermugger into their power, and that was to try persuasion rather than stratagem or force. I will tell you the reasons he had for so thinking.
1. The Huggermuggers were not Ogres or Cannibals. They lived on fish, frogs, fruit, vegetables, grains, &c.
2. The Huggermuggers wore clothes, lived in houses, and were surrounded with various indications of civilization. They were not savages.
3. The Huggermuggers spoke English, with a strange accent, to be sure. They seemed sometimes to prefer it to their own language. They must, then, have been on friendly terms with English or Americans, at some period of their lives.
4. The Huggermuggers were not wicked and blood-thirsty. How different from the monsters one reads about in children's books! On the contrary, though they had little quarrels together now and then, they did not bite nor scratch, but seemed to live together as peaceably and lovingly, on the whole, as most married couples. And the only time he had a full view of their faces, Little Jacket saw in them an expression which was really good and benevolent.
All these facts came much more forcibly to Jacky's mind, now that the first terror was over, and calm, sober reason had taken the place of vague fear.
He, therefore, told Mr. Nabbum, at length, his reasons for proposing, and even urging, that unless Huggermugger should exhibit a very different side to his character from that which he had seen, nothing like force or stratagem should be resorted to.
"For," said Little Jacket, "even if you succeeded, Mr. Nabbum, in throwing your net over his head, or your noose round his leg, as you would round an elephant's, you should consider how powerful and intelligent and, if incensed, how furious an adversary you have to deal with. None but a man out of his wits would think of carrying him off to your ship by main force. And as to your idea of making him drunk, and taking him aboard in that condition, there is no knowing whether drink would not render him quite furious, and ten times more unmanageable than ever. No, take my word for it, Mr. Nabbum, that I know Huggermugger too well to attempt any of your tricks with him. You cannot catch him as you would an elephant or a hippopotamus. Be guided by me, and see if my plan don't succeed better than yours."
"Well," answered Zebedee, "I guess, arter all, Jackie, you may be right. You've seen the big varmint, and feel a kind of o' acquainted with him, so you see I won't insist on my plan, if you've any better. Now, what I want to know is, what's your idee of comin' it over the critter?"
"You leave that to me," said Little Jacket; "if talking and making friends with him can do any thing, I think I can do it. We may coax him away; tell him stories about our country, and what fun he'd have among the people so much smaller than himself, and how they'd all look up to him as the greatest man they ever had, which will be true, you know: and that perhaps the Americans will make him General Huggermugger, or His Excellency President Huggermugger; and you add a word about our nice oysters, and clam-chowders.
"I think there'd be room for him in your big ship. It's warm weather, and he could lie on deck, you know; and we could cover him up at night with matting and old sails; and he'd be so tickled at the idea of going to sea, and seeing strange countries, and we'd show him such whales and porpoises, and tell him such good stories, that I think he'd keep pretty quiet till we reached America. To be sure, it's a long voyage, and we'd have to lay in an awful sight of provisions, for he's a great feeder; but we can touch at different ports as we go along, and replenish our stock.
"One difficulty will be, how to persuade him to leave his wife--for
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