Coco Bolo: King of the Floating Islands

By Sidford F. Hamp

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Title: Coco Bolo: King of the Floating Islands

Author: Sidford Frederick Hamp

Illustrator: Otto Hopp

Release Date: August 29, 2020 [EBook #63075]

Language: English


Produced by Mary Glenn Krause, Val Wooff and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by the Library of Congress)


[Illustration: _Up the garden ran the King_]


King of the Floating Islands


[Illustration: ARTI et VERITATI]




Copyright, 1910, by Richard G. Badger

All Rights Reserved



  _Chapter One_
  The Shadow-Chasers          9

  _Chapter Two_
  Admiral Boxwood            19

  _Chapter Three_
  The Royal Yacht            31

  _Chapter Four_
  The King's Hounds          43

  _Chapter Five_
  The Court Crier            56

  _Chapter Six_
  Refreshments               71

  _Chapter Seven_
  Coco Bolo Rex              84

  _Chapter Eight_
  Lobsterneck                95

  _Chapter Nine_
  The Snap-Dragon Sings     109

  _Chapter Ten_
  The Archbishop            120

  _Chapter Eleven_
  The Blue-Gum Policeman    134


  Up the Garden Ran the King            Frontispiece

  Shadow Chasing                                  13

  Picked Up the Little Admiral                    23

  Allowed the Anchor to Hit Him                   33

  His Heels Went up in the Air                    45

  Down He Plumped on the Top Step                 65

  Began Gently Floating Down Again                77

  Turned Heels Up and Came Floating Down
  Head First                                      97

  With that He Unfolded a Sheet of Music and
  Prepared to Sing                               107

  He Was a Jaunty Young Gentleman                123

  Away He Went, Straight for the Palace          131

  Nor Was it Surprising That She Should Sit and
  Stare                                          143



=Coco Bolo=



"Edward can't come," said Margaret: "he'd get tired too soon and want
to go home again."

"No, Edward can't come," Frances agreed. "His legs are too short. We
must wait till he goes upstairs for his nap, and then we'll start."

There were three children in the family: Margaret, who was nearly
eight; Frances, who was six and a quarter; and Edward, who, being only
half way between three and four, was still--as Frances had sagely
remarked--too short in the legs for such an enterprise as the two
little girls had in mind.

They had been spending the winter on the coast of Southern California,
when, one morning in April, Margaret and Frances went out into the
road in front of the house, and turning their backs to the sun, amused
themselves by running after their shadows, trying to step on their own
heads--a feat they had often attempted before, but never yet with any

While they were thus occupied, their father, coming out of the house,
stood on the edge of the sidewalk watching them, and when the two
children, tousled and breathless, presently came back to him, he put an
arm round the shoulders of each, saying:

"What are you doing, Chicks? Chasing shadows?"

"Yes, Daddy." It was Margaret who replied. "We were trying to get to
the other end--"

"So's we could tread on our own heads," said Frances, who never liked
to be left out of the conversation.

"Ah! A difficult thing to do. Nobody ever succeeded yet that I know of
except little Tom Titmouse, and very much surprised he was when he got

"Why?" asked both children, with eager anticipation, scenting a story.

"Be-cause," replied their father, spreading out the word in order to
give himself time to think. "Because--But it's too long a story to tell
you now, children, for I must leave in a minute. So the story must
wait till this evening--unless you should manage to catch your shadows
before I get home again, and then _you_ can tell _me_ whether it is all
true or not."

"Whether what is all true, Daddy?" asked Margaret.

"Why, all those things that Tommy Titmouse saw: King Coco Bolo and the
Archbishop and Lobsterneck, the Great American Snap-dragon, and--but I
must go, children. I must be off. Good-bye! There's my car coming now."

So saying, Daddy ran to the street corner, and there, with a wave of
his hand, he vanished, leaving the two little girls standing before the
front gate, thinking.

"We'll try this morning," said Margaret with decision. "We'll start
just as soon as Edward goes upstairs for his nap."

Accordingly, the moment Edward's short legs had conveyed him
unwillingly to bed, the two little girls went out at the back gate to
where a large open stretch of land sloped gently down to the ocean,
about half a mile away. A few trees were scattered here and there upon
the slope, and between them, far out upon the water, might be seen
some bare, rocky islands, with the sight of which the children were
familiar--islands where nobody lived and to which nobody ever went.

Margaret was a rather tall little girl, with brown eyes and brown hair
and red cheeks, while Frances, who was not quite so tall, had light
hair and hazel eyes and pink cheeks, as well as a band of freckles all
across her nose. Both of them were wearing that morning their pink
dresses and flowered hair-ribbons--a very fortunate circumstance, as
it turned out. Margaret also wore a wide-brimmed straw hat, while
her sister carried instead a pink-and-white parasol--one of her last
birthday presents. She took with her as well another of her birthday
presents: a yellow plush puppy with black spots, Periwinkle by name,
whose legs were like sausages, whose eyes were glittering black beads,
and whose red worsted mouth was set in a perpetual smile.

Thus equipped, the children set forth, and turning their backs to the
sun and their faces to the ocean, they walked after their shadows,
steadily and briskly, though without haste.

"For," said Frances, "the way to do is not to hurry. That is what Daddy
said that day we walked to the old wreck. He said, 'Take it easy and
keep going,' and we did and we got there."

"Yes," responded her sister. "Daddy always knows; so we won't hurry;
and then we shan't get so hot either."

[Illustration: _Shadow chasing_]

It was hot enough, though, hurry or no hurry, for the morning was
unusually sultry. The sun beat down upon them, the ground was
steaming and the air was all in a quiver; and what was worse, though
they kept on walking and walking, they seemed to get no nearer to the
other end of their shadows. It was rather discouraging.

They were persevering little girls, however, and knowing how pleased
Daddy would be to learn whether it really was true about Coco Bolo and
the Archbishop and Lobsterneck, the Great American Snap-Dragon, they
kept on and on, growing more tired and more hot and more discouraged
at every step--especially Frances, who had the puppy to carry--when,
without their having noticed what had become of them, their shadows
suddenly disappeared!

On the brink of a steep little cliff about six feet high, at the foot
of which the waters of a small inlet gently lapped the rocks, there
stood a grove of ten or twelve trees--short, stubby trees, all leaning
landward, as trees growing on the edge of the sea always do. The
shadows led the children straight to this grove of trees, and there, lo
and behold! they vanished. Where had they got to?

Margaret and Frances looked all about. They looked upon the ground and
they looked up into the trees, but look where they might no shadows
could they see. Where _had_ they got to?

"I wonder," said Frances, "if this isn't the place where
Tommy--Tommy--what was his other name?"

"Little Tom Titmouse," replied her sister. "Perhaps it is. So let us
sit down and wait. Perhaps, if we sit still and keep quiet, we may see
King Coco Bolo and the Archbishop and--Are there such things as tame
dragons, Frances?" she asked, suddenly remembering with some misgivings
that little Tom Titmouse, besides making the desirable acquaintance of
King Coco Bolo and the Archbishop, had also encountered a dragon--which
was quite another thing.

"There must be," replied Frances, reflectively. "Daddy told us to try
to get to that place, and if the dragon hadn't been a tame dragon he

"No, of course he wouldn't," interrupted Margaret, reassured. "So
we'll sit down and wait, and perhaps--Oh! Look!" pointing out over the
shimmering sea. "There are some new islands! One, two, three of them,
besides the old ones. Look! Oh! One of them has split in two! Now there
are four! Now there are five! What funny islands!"

Sitting in the cool shade of the trees, the children watched the new
islands come and go, grow large and larger, break in two, vanish and
come again. It was very fascinating and also very mysterious. How did
they get there? Where had they come from? And why, Oh, why did they
keep shifting about like that? Were they floating islands? It seemed
likely, for Daddy had once told them something about floating islands
with flower gardens on them, though where they were situated Margaret
could not remember.

"I shouldn't be a bit s'prised"--she began, when, turning to her
sister, she noticed that an ant was running over the back of Frances'
hand. Knowing very well that Frances objected to the tickling of ants
and spiders and such things, Margaret glanced quickly at her face, and
then smiled a superior smile.

"She's so young," said she, by way of explaining it. "She's only six
and a quarter. It isn't as if she was nearly eight. I won't disturb
her. I'll let her sleep just as long as she likes."

Observing that the yellow plush puppy was lying on his back with his
feet in the air, she went on:

"I may just as well lie down too while I'm waiting. I'll put Periwinkle
on this flat stone: he'll make a very good pillow. Ah! How nice it is
here under the trees. I wish the branches would keep still, though, so
that the sunlight wouldn't keep flicking into my eyes. I'll put my hat
over my face, and then--Yes, that's better. Now, I'll just shut my eyes
and wait till Frances--"


Margaret had not had her eyes shut one minute--no, not half a minute,
she was sure--when she heard the sound of a little bell somewhere close
by. She sat bolt upright and listened, while Periwinkle, who had been
uncomplainingly serving her as a pillow, the valiant Periwinkle sprang
up on his sausage legs and began to growl fiercely--as fiercely, that
is to say, as was to be expected of a yellow plush puppy with a fixed
red worsted smile.

"_Ting-a-ling-a-ling!_" went the bell again. The sound seemed to come
up from the edge of the water at the foot of the cliff. Margaret jumped
up, and followed by Periwinkle she stepped softly to the edge of the
rocks and peeped over.



Standing on a flat shelf of rock which rose about six inches above
the level of the water was a little man, who, from the cut of his
clothes, was evidently a naval man. He looked so smart that Margaret
made sure he must be an admiral at least, though instead of the blue
cloth suit of an ordinary, every day admiral, this little man wore a
bright green cocked hat with a long red tassel on the top of it; a
gold-laced swallow-tailed coat of cherry-colored silk; green-and-white
striped knee breeches; white silk stockings; and white shoes with
cherry-colored rosettes. Altogether he was very bright and pretty to
look at.

But the most remarkable thing about him was his size.

"He's just about as tall as Mother's new, long-handled parasol,"
thought Margaret. "And yet he isn't a boy, for he has gray hair and
gray whiskers. What red cheeks he has, too: they're just as red as
Edward's new doll's were before he washed them in the bath-tub with
the nail brush. I wonder why he keeps on ringing that bell. He must be
waiting for somebody."

If he was waiting for somebody, he was not worrying himself much about
it, for he was standing in a careless attitude with his feet crossed,
and instead of looking out for the people to come, his eyes were fixed
on a little silver bell which, holding it out at arm's length between
his finger and thumb, he kept tinkling and tinkling as though he had
nothing else in the world to do; all the time smiling away to himself
in the most cheerful and contented manner.

Margaret took a step forward, when her shadow--that very same shadow
she had been vainly pursuing all morning--her shadow fell on the rock
at the little man's feet. He looked up, and instantly his whole manner
changed. He stopped ringing his bell, and clapping his heels together
he made a bow so low that the red tassel on his hat swept the ground.

"If your Royal Highness is ready--" he began, when Margaret interrupted

"My--my what, did you say?" she asked. "I didn't quite understand. My
sister, do you mean? I'll call her."

Turning to do so, she found that Frances, whom she had left asleep
under the trees, was standing close beside her holding her hand--and
the curious thing about it was that she was not in the least surprised.

"Isn't he pretty!" whispered Frances. "What red cheeks he has! What was
he saying to you? Let's go down and talk to him. Shall we?"

The two little girls, after hunting about for a bit, found an easy
place to climb down, when they advanced toward the little man, followed
by Periwinkle, who, being not quite easy in his mind, kept close at
their heels, growling to himself all the time in an undertone.

As they approached him, the Admiral greeted them with another low bow,
lower even than the first one. In fact, he bowed so very low that his
joints creaked and then stuck. Do what he would he could not straighten
up again.

"Oh, dear!" cried Margaret. "He's caught somehow. Come and help me,

So saying, she picked up the little Admiral and held him close against
her with both arms around his chest. In this position his feet stuck
straight out in front of him, when Frances, taking hold of his ankles,
pressed them down until he came straight again with a snap.

"Your Royal Highnesses are most condescending," said the polite little
Admiral gratefully, bowing once more, though this time with greater
caution. "The fact is," he went on to explain, "I had the misfortune
to fall into the sea yesterday and my joints became swollen in

"What!" cried Frances. "Does it make your joints swell if you--?"

But here the Admiral interrupted her.

"I don't wonder you are surprised," said he, with a gratified smile. "I
know it must seem strange to you to be told that even we, Hardwoods--"

"You are a Hardwood, then, are you?" asked Margaret in a polite tone
of inquiry. For, while she did not understand what the little Admiral
meant by calling himself a Hardwood, she did not wish to appear too

"I have that honor," replied the Admiral. "In fact, all the officers
of the army and navy are Hardwoods, as well as all the members of the
Court circle, with the single exception of the Court Crier. He belongs
to the Weeping Willow family. But as I was going to say," he went on,
"even a Hardwood will swell if he stays in the water nine hours, as I

[Illustration: _Picked up the little Admiral_]

"Nine hours!" cried Frances. "Why, we only stay in twenty minutes twice
a week, when we have our swimming lesson. What did you stay in so
long for?"

"It was not intentional, I beg to assure you," replied the Admiral.
"Far from it. I fell into the sea, and as the tide was going out at
the time I had to go with it; and when it did turn and washed me back
again, I couldn't find the island."

"The island! What island?" asked Frances.

The little man cocked up his eyebrows in surprise at the question.

"What island?" he repeated. "Why, the Floating Island, of course,"
pointing over his shoulder with his thumb.

"Oh! So you come from the Floating Islands, do you!" exclaimed Margaret.

"Yes. You will have noticed, I dare say, how the islands keep coming
and going and breaking in pieces and changing their shapes. Well, that
is what they did yesterday, and every time I thought I was going to
land I found that the island had moved away and I had to begin all over

"That was horrid," remarked Frances. "Weren't you afraid of being

At this question the little Admiral, in spite of his politeness, could
not help laughing.

"Drowned!" he cried. "We, Hardwoods, don't get drowned. Why, the Lord
Chancellor was washed off the island once and floated about for three
months. We all thought he was gone for good, but he turned up again one
day none the worse except that his joints wouldn't work for a couple of
weeks and nearly all his paint had washed off."

"His paint!" cried Margaret, glancing at the little man's red cheeks.
"What is he made of, then?"

"He is one of the Quartered-Oaks--written with a hyphen--a very good
family, very hard and very serviceable; though--Ahem!--not _quite_ of
such quality as the Boxwoods."

He said this with such a self-conscious air that Margaret ventured a

"You are a--"

The little man laid his right hand on his heart, stuck out his left
elbow and bent his body at the hips. With his eyes half closed and with
a beaming smile, he said:

"Your Royal Highness has guessed right. I am of the Boxwoods."

"And the Boxwoods are harder than the Quartered Oaks, are they?" asked

By way of reply, the little Admiral picked up a pebble and tapped
himself on the cheek with it. It sounded like clapping the backs of two
hair-brushes together.

"Why!" exclaimed Frances. "You are as hard as--as hard as a door-knob!"

The little man was evidently much pleased with the compliment. Becoming
confidential, he stepped forward and said in a low tone:

"Between ourselves, Ladies, the Boxwood family is the hardest on
the island. Nobody disputes our position; we come next to the King,

"The King!" cried both children, inquiringly.

"His Majesty, King Coco Bolo," replied the little Admiral, drawing
himself up very straight and lifting his cocked hat as high as his
short arm would permit.

"But, bless my paint and spangles!" he cried. "What am I thinking of?
Here have I been chattering away, forgetting all the time what I came

So saying, he removed his cocked hat again and took out of the lining
a large, square letter, which he handed to Margaret; and having done
so, he retired a few steps, where he stood with his arms a-kimbo and
his head on one side, smiling away at nothing. "Just as if he had been
taking lessons in cheerfulness and was practising while he waited,"
thought Frances.

The two children, with their heads close together, each holding a
corner of the envelope, spelt out the address. It read:

"To Margaret and Frances. Courtesy of Admiral Boxwood."

"Then he _is_ an Admiral," whispered Margaret, peeping over the top of
the envelope at the smiling little gentleman. "That's why he wears a
cocked hat and is so polite."

"What does it mean by saying, 'Courtesy of Admiral Boxwood'?" asked
Frances. "Do you think they made a mistake and meant to say 'Courtesy
_to_ Admiral Boxwood'?"

"Perhaps they did," replied Margaret. "Anyhow, it's better to be too
polite than not polite enough, so let's courtesy to him."

Standing up side by side and holding out their frocks with both hands,
the two little girls made their very best "cheeses" to the Admiral;
upon which the Admiral took off his cocked hat with a flourish and
bowed, until the squeaking of his joints warned him to straighten up

"What is the letter about?" asked Margaret, turning it over and over.
"Here's a big 'C. B. R.' on the back, done in red letters with a gold
crown over them. What does C. B. R. mean?"

"Coco Bolo Rex," replied the Admiral, adding: "Rex, you know, means

"Oh, I see. Thank you. No, I didn't know. But what is the King writing
to us for?"

"Perhaps your Royal Highness had better read the letter and see,"
replied the Admiral--which really did seem like a very sensible

"I'm not very good at reading writing yet," said Margaret, as she
drew the letter from the envelope, "but--Oh! It's printed in capital
letters. That's easier. It looks like a bill of fare. I'll see if I can
read it.

      'COCO BOLO
      TO MEET

"Oh, what fun!" cried Frances, clapping her hands and dancing about.
"A garden party! How kind of the King to ask us! Let's go, Margaret."

"Yes, it's very kind of the King; and I should like to go, of course,"
replied her sister; "but how are we to get there?"

"Nothing easier," remarked the Admiral. "His Majesty is not one to do
things by halves. He has sent the royal yacht for your accommodation."

He waved his hand toward the water, where the two little girls noticed
for the first time that a boat was gently bobbing up and down upon the



It was a very pretty boat, evidently made of glass, for the children
could see right through it; and though it had neither mast nor oars,
it had, at any rate, a wheel, behind which was standing a little man
dressed in a sailor's suit of the same bright colors as the Admiral's.

"The Crew," remarked that gentleman, nodding toward the new sailor-man,
who, as soon as he saw that the little girls were looking at him,
smiled in the most cordial manner and spun the wheel round so fast that
the spokes hummed in the air.

"If you are quite ready," said the Admiral, raising his hat, "we'll get
aboard;" and stepping down to the edge of the water he put his hands to
his mouth and roared out at the very top of his voice: "Boat, ahoy!"
Though, really, it seemed hardly necessary to shout so loud, as the
boat was not more than four feet from the shore.

"Perhaps the Crew is deaf," suggested Frances, sagely.

Perhaps he was, but, if so, he was not so deaf but that he could hear
what was shouted to him at four feet distance, for he at once touched
his cap, spun the wheel round the other way, and leaving it spinning
walked to the bow of the boat, where, leaning out over the water, he
pulled up a little anchor.

"Weigh the anchor!" shouted the Admiral.

"Do you think it's worth while?" suggested the Crew, politely touching
his cap. "We've weighed it once this morning already--four pounds, six

"That's true. Well, never mind, then. Pitch it ashore."

Thereupon, the Crew, holding the coil of rope in his left hand, swung
the anchor round and round his head and threw it to the Admiral.

Instead of catching it in his hands, or getting out of its way
altogether, as most people would have done, and as the children of
course thought he would do, the Admiral whipped off his cocked hat and
bending forward allowed the anchor to hit him crack on the top of his

"Oh!" cried both little girls, running forward. "Did it hurt you very

"Not at all, thank you," replied the Admiral with a genial smile, as
he stooped to pick up the anchor. "A little thing like that doesn't
hurt a Boxwood."

[Illustration: _Allowed the anchor to hit him_]

So saying, he began to pull upon the rope, drawing the boat close up to
the shore, when he remarked:

"Now, your Royal Highnesses, if you'll step aboard we'll start at once."

"Why do you keep on calling us 'Royal Highnesses'?" asked Margaret; for
neither she nor Frances had ever heard the title before and they did
not know what it meant.

"Oh, excuse me!" cried the Admiral, apologetically. "I ought to have
guessed it. Your Royal Highnesses prefer to travel incog?"

"In what?" asked Margaret. "I thought we were to travel in the boat."

"Ha, ha!" laughed the Admiral, clapping his hands. "Very good! Very
good! Wasn't that good, Bo'sun?"

"A. 1 at Lloyd's," replied the Crew. "We must tell that to the King."

The children had not the least idea what the Admiral and the Crew were
laughing about, nor what the Crew meant by saying "A. 1 at Lloyd's,"
but it was evident that Margaret had made a capital joke by accident,
and so, trying to look as though they understood quite well, they
smiled pleasantly at the two naval men and stepped upon the shelf of
rock beside which the boat was lying.

Now that it was close up, the children were better able to see what
the royal yacht was like. Apparently its frame work was made of the
skeleton of a very big fish turned upside down, the fish's backbone
forming the keel, and its ribs the ribs of the boat. The whole had been
coated over with glass, so that the little girls, standing above it and
looking down into the boat, could see right through the bottom of it.
They could see the seaweeds on the rocks below and the little fishes
flipping about.

The bottom of the boat, indeed, being transparent and therefore
invisible, stepping into it looked so very much like stepping into the
sea that for a moment Margaret and Frances felt some little doubt about

But seeing that the Crew in the stern was leaning out, holding to the
rock with both hands, while the Admiral, having first laid aside his
cocked hat, was most obligingly lying flat on his gold-laced waistcoat,
holding the boat at its other end to steady it, they hesitated no
longer, but first removing their sandals for fear their heels might
crack the glass, they stepped in, taking their places side by side on
the middle seat.

"What nice soft cushions!" exclaimed Margaret. "And see! One of them
is marked in the corner with an 'F' and the other with an 'M'."

"'F' for Frances and 'M' for Margaret," remarked her sister, seating
herself on her own cushion and placing her sandals in her lap. "Come
on, Periwinkle!" she cried, chirruping encouragingly to the yellow
plush puppy. "Come on, then: don't be afraid!"

Periwinkle, however was not to be persuaded. Standing on the edge of
the rock, looking down into the boat, he, too, could see the fishes
passing beneath it, and not knowing that the boat had a glass bottom,
he declined to jump into the water--as he supposed.

Frances, therefore, reached out, and taking her pet by the back of his
neck, she pulled him in and set him down at her feet. For a moment
the puppy struggled to jump out again, when a big fish, passing
just under his nose, diverted his attention. Forgetting his fears,
Periwinkle snapped at the fish, and, of course, banged his nose on
the glass bottom of the boat, making himself sneeze with great gusto;
after which, thinking that it was the fish that had banged him on the
nose, he contented himself with barking at them when they glided under
the boat. He was a very sensible puppy, considering that he was only
stuffed with excelsior.

As soon as he saw that they were all comfortably settled, the Admiral
jumped to his feet, clapped his cocked hat on his head, gathered up the
rope, and tucking the anchor under his arm, he stepped into the bows.

"Eight bells!" he roared.

At this command, the Crew hastily felt in all his pockets and brought
out a number of little bells, which he rang one after the other.

"That's only seven!" cried the Admiral. "Where's the other?"

"You have it yourself," replied the Crew.

"Oh, yes. So I have. Excuse me," said the Admiral, politely; and
thereupon he took the eighth bell out of his pocket and rang that one,

"Why do you ring eight bells?" asked Margaret.

"I thought you'd like it," was the Admiral's unexpected reply.

"Oh! Yes. Thank you very much. I do," said Margaret.

"It's very pretty," added Frances. "Won't you ring them again?"

"I'm afraid we can't," replied the Admiral, regretfully. "It's against
the rules of the navy. We only ring eight bells once a day at mid-day,
or, on occasions like this, once extra for a treat, so--Ah! Happy
thought! How's the sun?" he shouted.

"It's shining away like one o'clock," replied the Crew, touching his

"_Just_ like one o'clock?" inquired the Admiral in an insinuating tone.

"Well," replied the Crew, evidently anxious to accommodate, "it's a
good deal like twelve o'clock, too."

"Good!" cried the Admiral, clapping his hands. "A poor excuse is better
than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. We'll ring 'em again. Eight
bells!" he roared, so loudly that it made his eyes water.

So the Admiral and the Crew rang eight bells all over again, after
which the Admiral threw his bell to the Crew, who very cleverly caught
it and stuffed it into his pocket, and having gathered up the other
seven bells and put them into his pockets, too, he laid his hands on
the spokes of the wheel and waited for further orders.

"How's her head?" cried the Admiral.

"North, south, east, west," replied the Crew, with all the smartness of
a man-o'-war's man.

"Good!" shouted the Admiral. "Cast off!"

Not knowing what "Cast off" might mean, the two little girls turned
their heads to see what the Crew was going to do. As far as they could
perceive, however, "Cast off" did not mean anything at all, for the
Crew never moved, but stood there smiling away over the top of the
wheel as though he were waiting to be photographed.

"Why did you say, 'Cast off'?" inquired Margaret of the Admiral. "What
does it mean?"

"It means, untie the ship," replied the Admiral.

"But the ship _is_ untied," Margaret objected.

"I know. It's just a matter of form. Now, if you are quite ready, we'll
start at once."

"Quite ready, thank you," replied both little girls, eagerly; for there
seemed to be so many forms and ceremonies that they began to fear they
might be late for the garden party.

"Starboard!" shouted the Admiral.

Whereupon the Crew gave the wheel a spang with his right hand which
sent it spinning at a great rate, at the same time glancing out of the
corners of his eyes at the two passengers to see what they thought of
his cleverness.

"Good!" cried Margaret and Frances, clapping their hands; at which the
Crew, beaming with pleasure, touched his cap and bowed. In doing so,
however, he forgot the wheel, and one of the spokes hit him such a
crack on the right side of his nose that the wheel stopped spinning.

"Oh!" cried both children. "That _must_ have hurt!"

"Not at all, thank your Ladyships," replied the Crew, smiling away just
as cheerfully as ever.

"What a brave little sailor-man you are," said Frances, admiringly.
"Most people would have wanted to cry after getting such a knock."

"Excuse me, Ladies," the Admiral here interposed, very politely. "Pray
excuse me, but it is against the rules of the navy to speak to the man
at the wheel."

"Oh, is it?" replied Margaret and Frances. "We're sorry. We didn't know

"Don't mention it," said the Admiral, pleasantly. "It's of no
consequence." And turning to the Crew, he asked: "It didn't break your
nose, did it? Because you had better mend it at once if it did. The
glue is in the medicine chest."

"It's all right, sir, thank you," replied the Crew, tapping his nose
with his knuckles. "Only dented. No harm done."

"Very well; then we'll proceed. Starboard!" he shouted once more.

"You said 'Starboard' last time," remonstrated the Crew, touching his

"Oh, yes. So I did. Thank you. Let me see: what comes next? Oh, yes.

The Crew, who was only waiting for the word, spun the wheel the other
way; such a spin that the spokes hummed like the piping of a mosquito.

"Fine spin!" cried Margaret, enthusiastically, clapping her hands again.

"Yes. How fast it goes!" said Frances. "You can't even see the spokes."

Hearing this remark, the Crew, delighted with the compliment, smiled
immensely, and stooping down with his hands on his knees he peeped
through the wheel at them.

"Peek-a-boo!" cried Frances, quite forgetting the rules of the navy.

For though the Crew was presumably a grown up sailor-man, he was so
small and so neat and so bright-colored and so merry-looking that it
was quite impossible to take him seriously.

At this moment the boat started.



The boat started so suddenly that the Crew, stooping to peep through
the wheel, was taken by surprise and lost his balance. Down he sat upon
the deck, his heels went up into the air, and he would certainly have
gone over backwards into the water had it not been for Frances, who,
very quickly and very cleverly hooked the handle of her parasol in one
leg of his trousers and tilted him back to a sitting position.

"Thank you, Miss," said the Crew, touching his cap.

"Very much obliged," remarked the Admiral. "It might have spoilt his
complexion to have fallen into the water."

"You are very welcome," said Frances, cordially. "But why did the boat
start so suddenly? What made it start?"

"I did," replied the Admiral.

"You did? How?"

"I'll show you," said the Admiral, evidently much pleased by the
interest the little girls took in the working of the yacht. "Look!"

He was seated in the front end of the boat in one of those whirligig
office chairs which grow taller and taller if you wind them one way
and shorter and shorter if you wind them the other. When he said,
"Look," he gave a kick off with his left foot, round spun the chair and
stopped. Immediately the boat began to slow down.

"See?" asked the Admiral.

"Yes, I see," replied Margaret, who happened to be the one to catch his
eye. "I see, but I don't understand. The boat has no sail and it has no
oars and it has no engine: what is the--the--?"

"What makes it go?" asked Frances.

"What is the motive power, you were going to say, weren't you?" asked
the Admiral. "Ha, ha!" he cried, rubbing his hands. "You'd never guess.
Never. Look here!" jumping out of his chair and patting the cushion--a
very fat air-cushion blown up extremely tight. "This contains the
motive power. All you have to do is to sit on the cushion, give a twist
to the chair, and away you go."

"I see," said Margaret again. "Very simple. But what is the motive
power? Gasoline?"

[Illustration: _His heels went up in the air_]

"Oh, dear, no!" cried the Admiral, holding up his hands as though
horrified at the suggestion. "Nothing so barbarous as gasoline.
Unpleasant smells and unnecessary noises are not allowed on the
floating Islands. The cushion is filled with snap-dragon's breath."

"Snap-dragon's breath!" cried both little girls, sitting up very
straight and opening their eyes very widely.

"Yes; the King's pet snap-dragon. He blows up the cushion for us every

"So there _is_ a dragon on the island, then, is there?"

"Lobsterneck, the Great American Snap-Dragon," replied the Admiral,
proudly, making himself as tall as he possibly could and puffing out
his cheeks so tightly that his whiskers stood on end.

So Daddy was right, and there _was_ a dragon after all! Margaret and
Frances could not help feeling just a little bit uneasy at the thought,
for though they felt sure the dragon would be a tame one, still, a
dragon was a dragon--there was no getting over that fact.

But the Admiral, seeing them look so serious, hastened to relieve their

"Your Royal Hi--Your Ladyships, I mean," he corrected himself, "need
not be in the least alarmed: the King's dragon is not at all like the
common, low-class dragons you are accustomed to."

"But we aren't--" Margaret began, when the Admiral stopped her with a
polite wave of his hand.

"I know," said he. "I quite understand. You were going to say you are
not accustomed to associate with dragons at all. Very natural. The
average dragon, I am aware, is a rude and boisterous creature. But
Lobsterneck! Well, Lobsterneck is _not_ an average dragon. In the first
place he is a snap-dragon; and in the second place he is the most
amiable and considerate snap-dragon you ever met. He lives by himself
in a round tower on the top of Dragon hill, and he never thinks of
taking a walk without first putting boxing gloves on all six of his
claws for fear he should accidentally step on somebody and scratch
their paint off. And then he is such friends with the children! As soon
as he appears they all run and scramble upon his back. You'll see a
dozen of them perched up there at once sometimes, all in a row, like
swallows on a telegraph wire, and a dozen more running behind, begging
for a ride."

"What a nice dragon!" exclaimed Margaret. "And is he polite to

"Always," replied the Admiral.

"And--and to puppies?" asked Frances, leaning forward to stroke
Periwinkle's head.

"Always," replied the Admiral once more.

"Well, then," said Frances, "let us start at once. We should be so
sorry if we were late; and we are not at all afraid of the dragon any
more, are we, Margaret?"

"Not the least," replied her sister. "So, let's start again at once."

"Very good," said the Admiral; and with that he jumped into his chair
again and gave a push off with his right foot. Round spun the chair
with the Admiral in it, and away went the boat, skipping over the tops
of the waves, as a boy can make a flat stone skip across a pond--and a
girl can't.

"How beautifully it goes!" cried Margaret. "It's almost like flying.
What is the boat's name? Has it any name?"

"Certainly," replied the Admiral. "The name is painted on the bows. You
can see it yourself through the glass."

"Oh, yes! So I can! I wonder if I can read it. 'M, A,--' Why! The
letters are all turned the wrong way! What is that for?"

"That is because they are painted on the other side of the glass. You
are looking at the backs of the letters. Begin at the other end, and
then you will see."

"'T, H, E,' The," began Margaret. "'P, L, E, A,--' It's too hard for
me. What _does_ it spell?"

"'The Pleasant Dream'," replied the Admiral. "Good name, isn't it?"

"Very good," Margaret agreed. "Because it _is_ almost like a boat in a
dream, the way it skips from one wave to the next."

In fact, the boat went so fast and made such a breeze that Margaret
could not keep her hat on. She therefore placed it in her lap and tied
her handkerchief over her head instead. As she cocked her chin sideways
to tie the knot, she happened to catch sight of the Crew out of the
corner of her eye. To her surprise he was sitting cross-legged on the
deck behind the wheel, a little looking-glass in his hand and the
medicine chest before him, busily repairing the dent in his nose with
some putty.

"Why don't you--?" she began; but remembering that it was against the
rules of the navy to speak to the man at the wheel, she turned to the
Admiral instead, and said:

"Why doesn't he attend to the steering?"

"He's busy just now," replied the Admiral, "but he will directly. And,
anyhow," he added, "it doesn't make much difference: there isn't any

"No rudder!" cried Margaret in astonishment; for she had always
understood that the rudder was the most important part of a ship.

"No. But that is not of the least consequence: I know the way."

The children did not know very much about boats, but it certainly did
seem a queer way of managing things. Nevertheless, though the Admiral,
riding backwards, never turned his head to see which way they were
going, and though the Crew, having puttied up the dent in his nose,
was now so busy with a paint-brush, painting the patch to match the
rest of his complexion, that he never looked up, The Pleasant Dream
continued on its course as straight as an arrow, skimming the waves
like a seagull. So the children, concluding it was all right, settled
themselves comfortably on their cushions, prepared to enjoy their

If the boat seemed to fly, so did the time. Neither of the children
owned a watch, so they could not tell how long they had been going, but
it seemed to them not more than ten minutes ere the Floating Island
began to loom up big before them. It was a peculiar-looking island--a
very peculiar-looking island. At first sight it looked like an
enormous, square, frosted sponge-cake floating on the water, its sides
as high as a house and as straight up-and-down as a wall. Then, as they
drew nearer, it appeared to the children to be like an immense block of
sea-foam with as many colors in it as a soap-bubble. It was not till
they had come pretty close to it that they made out at last what it
really was:--a thick and solid bank of cloud, all pink and white and

They had come within little more than a quarter of a mile of it, when
the cloud-wall suddenly split in two from top to bottom--only for one
second, for the narrow crack closed up again directly. But in that
brief time the children caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a most
beautiful floating flower-garden.

"Just as if a bit of a rainbow had tumbled into the sea," was Frances'

But they caught sight of something else as well; something far more
curious than any flower-garden.

In the middle of the island was a rather high hill; on top of the
hill was a fat round tower; and on top of the tower, seated on a
three-legged stool, combing his whiskers with his claws, sat some huge,
strange creature, unlike anything they had ever seen before.

"What's that?" whispered Frances; for the Admiral was dozing and she
did not want to disturb him.

Before Margaret could reply, the creature, whatever it was, caught
sight of them, when, just as the crack in the cloud-wall closed up
again, it rose up on its hind feet, and putting its fore-paws to its
mouth it bellowed like a cow.

"The whistling buoy!" cried Margaret. "I've heard it before."

"Excuse me, Miss," whispered a voice behind them; and looking back,
they saw that the Crew was peeping at them over the top of the wheel.
"Excuse me, Ladies," said he, "but you are mistaken. That was the
King's dragon."

"The King's dragon!"

"Yes, Miss: the King's pet snap-dragon. He sits up there on his tower
to keep watch, and when he sees anyone coming he bellows like that to
give notice."

"Are you sure?" asked Margaret.

"Oh, yes, Miss. Quite sure."

"Well," said Margaret, "I'm very glad to know that. I've often heard
the sound from the shore, and somebody told me it was the whistling
buoy. Now I shall know next time. There he goes again!"

At this second bellow the Admiral woke up with a start. He cast a
glance over his shoulder, and seeing how near they had come, he spun
his chair round till it would go no further, when the boat immediately
began to slacken speed.

It was still going pretty fast, however, and the cloud-wall looked so
solid that Margaret and Frances could not help feeling just a little
bit anxious lest the glass boat should be cracked when it ran against
it; which it was evidently going to do, for it kept straight on its

But as the Admiral and the Crew were perfectly calm about it, they felt
reassured, and presently the frail boat ran into the wall without a
shock or a tremor. It just made a hole which closed up behind it--and
there they were, unable to see out in any direction.

At the same moment there arose all round them, in front and behind and
on both sides, a perfect clamor of barking, as though a hundred dogs
were all barking at once and all trying to see which could bark the
loudest and the fastest.

"Why! Where are they all?" cried Margaret, looking vainly about in
every direction. "It sounds as though they were in the water."

"They are," replied the Admiral, smiling at her wonder. "They always
bark like this when they hear the dragon bellow."

"But I don't understand," said Margaret. "Dogs don't live in the sea."

"These dogs do."

"Why! What kind of dogs are they?"

"They are sea-dogs," replied the Admiral. "The King's own pack of
hounds. The Royal Dog-fish."

"Oh!" cried Frances, laughing. "I see. So they are fish after all, and
not dogs."

"But," remarked Margaret, "if they are fish, how can they bark? I never
heard of fishes barking; not even dog-fishes."

"They don't as a rule," replied the Admiral; "but these have been
trained for the purpose. Just as soon as ever they cut their first
teeth their diet is most carefully regulated with the special object of
cultivating their voices."

"What are they fed on, then?" asked Margaret. "Dog biscuit?"

"No. Bark," replied the Admiral. "The bark of the dog-wood."

"Oh! Of course!" cried both the children. "We might have guessed that."

At this moment the boat ran through the cloud-wall and now the children
could see what sort of a place the Floating Island really was.



They found themselves in a beautiful little bay of a bright green
color, fringed all round with neat little, curly, white waves, all
exactly four inches high and ten feet apart. "Like rows of tucks round
the bottom of a dress," thought Frances.

But the island itself was what most attracted their attention. It
was like a Japanese garden, with little green hills and little red
footpaths bordered with white shells; with little lakes and little
streams and little bridges; it was dotted all about with little houses
painted all sorts of bright colors; and there were flowers--flowers
everywhere. It was the prettiest place they had ever seen.

From all directions were little people running down to the pier to
meet them; the excited dragon was jumping about on top of his tower,
bellowing like a whole herd of milk cows at once; while all the
dog-fish, with their noses sticking out of the water, came swarming
from every direction, barking away--the great alarm of Periwinkle--as
loudly as they could, and making such a racket that Margaret and
Frances were obliged to put their fingers into their ears for fear of
being deafened.

Seeing this, the Admiral jumped out of his chair, waved his arms, and
shouted out, "King's guests! King's guests!" Whereupon, all those
polite and well-trained dog-fish leaped out of the water, and standing
on their heads, wagged their tails in welcome, sending into the air
showers of spray which the bright sun turned into dozens and dozens of
little rainbows. It was the prettiest thing you ever saw. The little
girls were delighted.

By this time the speed of the boat had very much slackened, it was
just gliding along with hardly a ripple toward the little wooden pier,
painted white with red posts, where the bright-colored little people
were standing in groups waiting for them. There were groups of little
men and groups of little women and groups of little children, some of
them dressed in pink and some in green and some in yellow and some in
orange and some in white and some in purple--but not a single one in
blue, as Frances was the first to notice.

"Do you see, Margaret?" she whispered. "There isn't one of them dressed
in blue. Not one!"

"So there isn't," replied her sister. "I wonder why."

But before she could ask why, the Admiral jumped into the bow of the
boat, took off his cocked hat, and waving it above his head, called
out again, "King's guests! King's guests!" Upon which all the little
people in little shrill voices shouted "Welcome to the King's guests!"
and waved their pocket handkerchiefs. It was just as though a flock of
pigeons had suddenly flown up out of a flower-bed.

At the same moment the children saw coming down the road a little
carriage drawn by two pretty little horses of the color of a new
horse-chestnut, with white manes, cut short, and with stiff little
white tails like bottle-brushes. The coachman, who sat up very straight
and stuck out his elbows with an air of great importance, was dressed
in a fuzzy white wig with a three-cornered hat on top of it, a green
coat with gold buttons, white knee-breeches and rose-colored stockings.
Altogether, he looked very smart indeed, and very well pleased with
himself, too, to judge by the way he smiled as he drew up his chubby
little horses at the far end of the pier.

For that matter, though, everybody was smiling away in a manner
so cheerful that the children thought they had never seen such a
merry-looking lot of people, and as smiles are just as catching as
whooping cough, Margaret and Frances could not help smiling too;
whereupon all the people on the pier smiled twice as much as before and
clapped their hands for joy.

"What nice people!" exclaimed Margaret.

"Yes. Aren't you glad we came?" responded her sister. "And such a
pretty place, too; and--I wonder who the old gentleman is, coming down
to the steps."

In fact, as the boat slowly glided up to the steps at the end of the
pier, an old gentleman came forward and took up his position on the
top step; all the rest of the people standing back at a respectful
distance, forming a half-circle behind him. He was a tall old
gentleman--for a Floating Islander--with a head perfectly bald except
for a fringe of white hair at the back extending from one ear to the
other; wearing a long green cloak with silver willow leaves embroidered
round the collar. In one hand he carried a large copper bell, like a
cow-bell, and in the other a sheet of parchment with a big red seal
hanging to it.

"The Court Crier," explained the Admiral, whispering behind his hand;
and as he said it, the boat stopped of its own accord at the bottom

As if the stopping of the boat had been the moment he was waiting for,
the Court Crier began vigorously ringing his bell; whereupon all the
people ceased clapping their hands and stood quiet to hear what the
Court Crier might have to say. Even the dragon up on his tower--as the
little girls noticed--sat down again on his three-legged stool, and
folding two pairs of claws across his stomach, cocked his ears forward
to listen.

"Oh, yes! Oh, yes!" called the Court Crier, and after a short pause,
finding that nobody cried, "Oh, no!" he hung his bell about his neck,
unfolded his parchment, and having first bowed deferentially to the two
little girls--who, all this time were sitting in the boat, wondering
what was to happen next--he called out:

"Proclamation by the King! 'To Margaret and Frances, Greeting: Coco
Bolo, King of the Floating Islands, extends his hearty welcome to
Margaret and Frances and begs they will regard as their own his Island,
his People, his Dragon and Himself!'"

Having finished his reading, the Court Crier folded up his parchment
and put it into his pocket, and then, taking the bell from his neck, he
rang it once more. Upon this, all the little people clapped their hands
again, the dog-fish barked and the dragon bellowed; at which Margaret
and Frances were very glad, for it gave them time to think of a proper

Rising to their feet, and standing side by side in the boat, the two
little girls bowed to the Court Crier and the people behind him, when
the Court Crier held up his bell, upside-down, above his head, as a
sign for all sounds to cease.

Though neither of them had ever attempted to make a speech in their
lives, nor had even thought of doing such a thing, the two children,
for some reason, did not find themselves at all abashed at having to
stand up and deliver a formal reply to the King's proclamation. Perhaps
it was that the little people on the pier were so much smaller than
themselves; perhaps it was that their brightness and cheerfulness
and seeming readiness to be pleased gave the children confidence;
but whatever the cause, as soon as the people had ceased clapping
their hands and the dog-fish had ceased barking, and as soon as the
puppy-fish--which had been larking about according to the nature of
all puppies, growling and splashing and biting each other's tails--as
soon as they had been slapped by their elders and told to keep quiet,
Margaret made another polite bow, and said:

"Thank you, Mr. Court Crier. We are very much obliged to you; and we
are very much obliged to Coco Bolo Rex for inviting us to come, and we
are quite sure we shall enjoy ourselves."

"And," added Frances, "we never saw such a pretty place or such nice,
smiling people before."

These speeches evidently pleased the people very much, for they all
clapped their hands once more; and while they were doing so, the
Admiral and the Crew, jumping out of the boat, offered their hands to
Margaret and Frances to help them ashore.

No sooner had they set foot on the bottom step than there came running
out of the crowd two pretty little boys, one carrying a great bunch of
violets and the other a bunch of daffodils. The violets were evidently
intended for Margaret and the daffodils for Frances, but unfortunately,
just as he reached the top step, Margaret's little boy caught his toe
and down he fell, all down the steps, making a great clatter, and into
the water he would certainly have rolled had not Margaret caught him,
when, putting her foot on the next step above, she set him upon her

"Oh, you poor little boy!" she exclaimed. "You did hurt yourself,
didn't you?"

"Don't cry, Dearie," said Frances, bending over him with her
handkerchief in her hand, all ready to dry his tears. She made sure
he would cry tremendously; for what little boy would not after falling
down twelve steps and knocking his knees and his nose and his elbows on
every single one of them?

But this little boy, greatly to their surprise, did not make a sound.
He puckered up his face, indeed, as though he would very much like
to cry, but he did not. Instead of that, he looked hard at the Court
Crier, as though he expected _him_ to do something, though what the
little boy could possibly expect of a thin, dried up, bald headed old
gentleman like the Court Crier, the two children could not imagine.

The little boy, though, evidently knew what he was about.

"Where's my caddy?" shouted the Court Crier in a great hurry; whereupon
there ran out of the crowd another little boy with a number on his hat,
who carried hung around his neck with a pink ribbon, a little oblong
box, like an old-fashioned tea-caddy, divided into two compartments.

Lifting the lid of this box, the Court Crier took out of the left hand
compartment a large, clean pocket handkerchief, and then--! Down he
plumped on the top step and began crying floods of tears, bawling and
snuffling and making a great to do. If he had tumbled down a flight of
fifty marble steps himself he could not have made more fuss about it.

Margaret and Frances were standing with their eyes wide open, wondering
what was the meaning of it, when the Admiral, seeing how puzzled they
were, stepped up to them and whispered:

"He's the Court Crier, you know."

"Yes, I know," replied Margaret. "But what has that to do with it?"

"What has that to do with it!" repeated the Admiral, astonished in his
turn. "Why, everything. What do you suppose a Court Crier is for?"

"I don't know," replied Margaret. "What _is_ he for?"

"Why, to cry, of course, when anybody gets hurt."

"What!" exclaimed Frances. "Do you mean to say that people are not
allowed to cry for themselves?"

The Admiral shook his head. "Never," said he. "It couldn't be allowed
on any account. It is the special privilege of the Court Crier to do
all the crying. The office has been held by his family for ages. He is
one of the Weeping Willows, you know, as I told you."

[Illustration: _Down he plumped on the top step_]

The children were still wondering at this very funny arrangement,
when they noticed that the Court Crier every now and then moved his
handkerchief to one side and peeped with one eye at the little boy
on Margaret's knee, as if to see how he was getting on.

Observing this, Margaret also peeped at him, when she noticed that
the little boy, who at first had been screwing up his face into
all sorts of shapes, was gradually growing more and more composed,
until presently he burst out smiling again, and scrambling down from
Margaret's knee, he turned round and handed to her the bunch of
violets, just as though nothing had happened.

Instantly, the Court Crier jumped to his feet, wrung half a pint of
tears out of his handkerchief, and rolling it up into a ball, he opened
the lid of his caddy-box and flung the handkerchief into the other

"Pardon the interruption, Ladies," said he. "We will now proceed."

At this, the Admiral and the Crew presented their hands to the two
little girls and led them up the steps, when, the moment they set foot
on the pier, all the little people ran and arranged themselves in two
rows on either side of a long green carpet with red borders which
stretched all the way to the other end; a band on shore struck up a
merry tune; the Court Crier, drawing himself up as tall as he could,
called out, "Form the procession!" and everyone at once fell into his
proper place.

First of all marched the two little boys; then the Court Crier; then
Periwinkle; then Margaret and Frances, hand in hand; and after them the
Admiral and the Crew; the people, all clapping their hands to keep time
to the music, falling in behind as they passed, so that ere they had
reached the other end of the pier the procession was quite a long one.

"It's just as if we were princesses," remarked Margaret.

"Yes. Isn't it fun!" cried Frances; and looking at the rows of smiling
little people, the two children could not help laughing and kissing
their hands to them, as they had heard was the custom of princesses.

Whether it was the custom of princesses or not, it was plainly the
right thing to do here, for the people all began to sing and dance,
holding hands, while the band played louder than ever, and the two
round, fat little horses in the carriage stood on their hind legs and
waved their front feet in the air as if to welcome the King's guests.

As soon as the procession reached the end of the pier, the Court Crier
opened the carriage door, when Margaret and Frances got in and away
they went, still in procession: all the children running in front,
scattering flowers on the road; then the Court Crier, ringing his bell;
then the band; then the Admiral and the Crew, arm in arm; then the
carriage; and then the people all dancing in pairs.

Pretty soon the children saw before them a beautiful little palace,
built of pink and white coral in alternate layers, with battlements
and towers and balconies and terraces and a big, arched front gate
like a church doorway. On either side of the entrance-gate sat a line
of sentinels on chestnut horses, six on each side, their brass helmets
glittering in the sun, their chests stuck out and their backs very
straight, trying their best to look fierce and warlike.

In this, however, they were not very successful, for though their
moustaches stood out as stiff as gimlets, their faces looked so
cheerful that Margaret and Frances felt sure their fierceness was all
put on for appearance-sake.

"We can easily find out," said Frances. "Let's kiss our hands to them,
and see if they don't smile."

"Very well," replied her sister. "I expect that is what a princess
would do, anyhow. I know I should if I were a princess. So let's do it."

It was a most successful move. The soldiers all broke into smiles of
the largest size and waved their swords in the air; their steeds stood
up on their hind feet and danced round and round like performing dogs;
and thus passing between the two lines of capering horses, the carriage
rolled through the gateway into the palace courtyard, the band and
the people remaining outside and only the Court Crier and the Admiral
accompanying the King's guests to the foot of the palace steps.



As soon as the carriage stopped, the Court Crier opened the door and
he and the Admiral handed out the two little girls. At the same moment
there came running down the steps two rosy-cheeked young women in caps
and aprons, white cuffs and turn-down collars, like trained nurses, who
courtesied very nicely and said:

"If you will please to come with us, Ladies, we will show you to the
refreshment room."

Walking up the steps behind the two little maids, Margaret and Frances
were shown into a large, pleasant room, furnished in green and white,
with sofas and rocking chairs and everything they could want. Looking
about them, the first thing they noticed was a card tacked on the
inside of the door, such as they remembered to have seen once in a
hotel bedroom, and supposing it to be the rules of the palace, they
thought they had better read it. It was not the rules of the palace,
but it was something just as important, as Margaret soon discovered,
when, pulling forward a chair, she sat down to read it--for the card,
being put there for the accommodation of small people like the Floating
Islanders, was rather low down on the door.

"What does it say?" asked Frances. "Can you read it?"

"Oh, yes," replied her sister. "This is what it says,"--pointing out
each word with her finger as she read it:

    "'Laws of the Floating Islands.
        (1) Be Cheerful.
        (2) Be Polite.
    Anyone Disobeying These Laws
          Will Be
      Put In The Corner
        Painted Blue.'"

"Oh! So _that's_ why nobody dresses in blue!" cried Frances. "I thought
there must be some reason."

"Yes; and what a good thing it was we wore our pink dresses and
flowered hair-ribbons today. Well, it is easy enough to learn these
laws:--'Be cheerful. Be polite'. I know them already. What is this up

All down one side of the doorway were a number of electric buttons,
marked, 'Ice-cream', 'Cookies', 'Candy', 'Oranges', 'Bananas', and so
forth, and at the bottom, showing how thoughtful the King was, 'Pepsin'.

"I suppose," said Frances, "if you want any of these things you just
press the button. Do you think Mother would let us have a cooky. I'm
rather hungry."

"I'm sure she would," replied her elder sister. "And I should like
something to drink, too. See! Here are the things to drink on the other
door post: 'Lemonade', 'Sherbet', and a lot of other things. What
should we ask for? Lemonade?"

"Lemonade is good," remarked Frances. "What else is there?"

"Here's 'Aërated water'," Margaret spelled out. "Would you like that?"

"No," replied Frances. "That's that fizzy stuff. I like it, but it
tickles my nose so. I don't think I want that. What's next?"

"'Plain water'," read Margaret.

"Oh, no. We can get plain water at home."

"'Aëro-plane water'" read Margaret. "I wonder what that is."

"I expect it's not so plain as plain water, and not so fizzy as fizzy
water," replied Frances. "I think I should like to try it. Suppose you
ask for a lemonade and I'll ask for an aëro-plane water, and then we
can divide."

"Very well. Then I'll press these two buttons and you press the one
marked 'Cookies.'"

They pressed the buttons accordingly, when, almost in no time, it
seemed, they heard something go _snick_, and turning in that direction
they saw that a little cupboard door in the wall had flown open.
Inside the cupboard was a tray with a plate of cookies upon it and two
glasses, one, a big glass of lemonade with two straws in it, and the
other, a smaller glass containing what appeared to be plain water with
six round, fat bubbles floating about in it. On the edge of this glass,
hanging by a little hook, was a pair of small tweezers.

"Why! What are they for?" exclaimed Frances, as she unhooked them and
laid them on the tray. "What did they send us tweezers for?"

"I'm sure I don't know," replied her sister. "Perhaps we shall find out
presently. Bring the tray over here, Frances, and put it on this little
table. Ah! This lemonade is good! What does your aëro-plane water taste

"Why, it doesn't taste like anything," replied Frances, in a tone of
some disappointment. "It's just plain water. They must have forgotten
the 'aëro' part!"

"Perhaps the bubbles are the 'aëro' part," suggested Margaret.

"Oh, perhaps they are. I'll drink one."

But try as she might, she could not catch one of them. Every time she
touched one with her lips it bobbed away--the bubbles were so large and
so round and so slippery.

"The tweezers!" cried Margaret.

"Oh! Of course!" exclaimed Frances. "That's what the tweezers are for!"

Undoubtedly it was, for, with the help of the tweezers, Frances very
soon caught a bubble and popped it into her mouth.

Margaret, watching her, saw her eyes sparkle and a look of pleased
surprise come over her face.

"That tastes, does it?" she asked.

For half a minute Frances did not reply; all she said was, "M-m-m,"
keeping her lips shut tight as though to let none of the taste escape;
but presently she opened her mouth and said:

"Yes, that tastes. It's the very nicest thing I ever did taste:
like--let me see--like pine-apple and strawberry jam and--and--I can't
think what else. Wait till I try another. There are five left. I'll
take two more and leave the rest for you."

So saying, she caught two more bubbles and then passed over the glass
to Margaret, who, in turn, passed over the half-finished lemonade to
her sister. As she did so, she saw an odd expression come over Frances'

"What's the matter?" she asked.

"I don't know," replied Frances. "I don't think there's anything the
matter, but I have such a funny feeling--just as if I didn't weigh
anything. I feel as if I wanted to get up and fly."

"Try, then," suggested Margaret. "Perhaps you can if you try. Try."

Frances, rather gingerly, got out of her chair, gave a flap with her
arms and a little stamp with both feet, and up to the ceiling she went
like a feather. It was a high ceiling, but she went up far enough to
touch it with her fingers, when she began gently floating down again,
her dress standing out all around like a pink umbrella. She looked so
comical, with her elbows tucked into her sides and her fingers spread
out, her lips puckered up and her eyebrows raised, that Margaret could
not help laughing.

"Oh, what fun!" she cried, seizing the tweezers and the glass of
aëro-plane water. "I'm coming too. Can you wait there, Frances?"

[Illustration: _Began gently floating down again_]

"No, I can't," replied her sister, who was now down about the level
of the tops of the pictures. "I'm coming down all the time. And if I
were you, Margaret," she added hastily, "I'd only take two of those
bubbles--or one. I'm rather _too_ light. It's a good thing I didn't
take all six of them or I might have gone straight up to the ceiling
and had to stay there, crawling about like a fly. I wonder if--hand me
the lemonade, will you?"

Margaret dragged a chair to the spot, jumped upon it and handed up
the half-glass of lemonade to her sister. Frances, however, did not
take the glass in her hand; she took the straws, and leaning forward,
tried to drink the lemonade. But though Margaret stood on tip-toe and
reached up as far as she could, Frances was still about four inches too
high, so she waited a minute until she had come down a little further
when she tried again. This time she succeeded, finding, as she had
expected, that at every swallow she came down more and more quickly,
until presently her feet touched the floor again, when, as she was
still rather bouncy, she took hold of the edge of the table to steady
herself, and said:

"I'll tell you what you'd better do, Margaret: Take only one of those
bubbles at a time and see if it isn't enough. I'm a good deal too
light; I shall have to put some stones in my pocket, or something. I'm
afraid, if I were to go out of doors, the wind might blow me into the
sea. So just take one first, Margaret, and see how that does."

This seemed like good advice, so Margaret, taking the tweezers, caught
one bubble and ate it up.

"M-m-m," she murmured, just as Frances had done. "That is good. There's
preserved ginger in it, too, and I think there's just a taste of baked
apples. Oh! Isn't it a funny feeling!"--stretching out her arms and
dancing about--"I wonder if I could jump up to the ceiling like you

But she found she could not; though to jump over a big settee in the
middle of the room was the easiest thing possible.

"Oh, how nice it is to be so light-footed!" she cried. "One bubble is
just enough, Frances; that was a good idea of yours. But what are we
going to do to make you a bit heavier? There are no stones here to put
into your pockets; and you have only one pocket, anyhow. You'd be all
lopsided. You'll have to eat something. That's the only way I see."

"Yes," responded Frances, "that's the only way; and what we need is
something heavy, like that little loaf of bread you and I made once
for Daddy, don't you remember, and he begged to be excused, because
home-made bread sometimes gave him the nightmare, and so we gave it to
Kim--that time he howled so in the night, and Daddy had to get up and
throw his hair-brush at him."

"Yes, I remember," replied her sister. "That's the sort of thing we
want. Let's look at the list here and see if there's anything likely to
do. Ah! 'Pound cake'! That ought to be just the thing."

"Pound cake is rather rich, isn't it?" asked Frances.

"I'm afraid it is. Well, here's 'Half-pound cake, for infants and
invalids.' The very thing. We'll have that."

She touched the button; open flew the cupboard, and there inside it was
a neat little cake with a silver knife to cut it.

"Now," said Margaret, cutting a slice and handing it to her sister.
"Eat that and see if it will do."

Still holding to the table for fear she should bob up again to the
ceiling unexpectedly, Frances ate about half the slice, when she laid
down the rest, remarking:

"I think that's enough, Margaret. I don't feel quite so much like a
dandelion seed as I did. Take my hand and let us skip down the room
and back, just to try."

Down the room they skipped, hand in hand, and back again, jumping over
the settee on the way and coming lightly down on the carpet, "Like a
pair of soap-bubbles," as Frances put it.

"Just exactly," Margaret agreed. "I feel like you feel in a dream
sometimes, when you just tap your foot on the floor or your fingers on
the backs of the chairs and go floating about the room. How glad I am
you asked for aëro-plane water, Frances, or we might never--Come in!"

Somebody had tapped at the door, and on Margaret's calling, "Come in,"
the two little maids appeared once more, courtesying politely, to
inquire if the ladies were ready to put on their wreaths and slippers.

"Wreaths!" cried Margaret.

"Slippers!" cried Frances. "We didn't bring any wreaths and slippers."

At this, one of the little maids, whose name, they found, was Anita,
smiled and nodded, and going to a cupboard in the wall which the
children had not noticed before, she came back with two cardboard
boxes, one of which she handed to each little girl.

"Are we to open them?" asked Margaret.

"If you please, Miss," replied Anita.

Each box proved to contain a beautiful wreath made of enameled pink
leaves with silver berries--both exactly alike.

"Oh! Aren't they pretty!" exclaimed Frances. "Are we to wear them?"

"Yes, Miss, if you please," replied the little waiting-maid. "All
the court ladies wear wreaths and slippers to match. These are your
slippers," running to the cupboard and bringing back two pairs of white
satin slippers with big pink rosettes on them. "The King hopes you'll
like them."

"The King is very kind," replied Margaret. "Yes, these will do

"Then, if Your Ladyships are ready, will you please to follow us?"

So saying, Anita threw open the door, when she and the other little
maid, taking hands, went skipping off down a wide hallway, Margaret and
Frances skipping after them and poor little Periwinkle with a serious
countenance galloping behind, until they arrived at the top of a long
flight of steps down which they went, six steps at a time, to find the
Admiral and the Court Crier waiting for them.

"Quite ready, Ladies?" asked the Admiral. "Then we'll join the
garden-party at once."



"This way, please," said their guide, waving his hand toward a pair
of big glass doors, on each of which was painted a monogram--C. B.
R.--with a crown above it.

The two little maids pulled open the doors, and Margaret and Frances
walking through, found themselves looking down upon a beautiful lawn
with lots of little marble-topped tables scattered about it, at which
sat numbers of bright-colored little people, drinking tea and eating
ice-cream and lady-fingers.

Across the middle of the lawn ran a white pathway, at the far end of
which was a steep, green bank, forming a sort of raised platform.
On this platform, with two little page-boys behind him holding up
his scarlet cloak, was a fat little, red-cheeked gentleman with a
spiky gold crown on his head, walking to and fro, and every now and
then stopping to scoop up bubbles with a silver milk-strainer from a
fountain of aëro-plane water.

"The King," whispered the Admiral; and then, putting his hands to his
mouth, he shouted:

"King's Guests!"

At this, all the ladies and gentlemen jumped out of their chairs,
and turning to Margaret and Frances made a low bow, while the King,
himself, thrusting his milk-strainer into his pocket, ran and leaped
from the green bank, the two little boys who had hold of his cloak
flying out behind like the tail of a kite.

Up the garden ran the King, the two pages still flying out behind,
until he had come to where the children stood, when he stopped,
straightened his crown, and after casting a glance over his shoulder to
see if the pages had recovered their feet, he advanced with both hands
stretched out to welcome his guests.

"Delighted to see you, Ladies," said he, shaking hands with both of
them at once. "Most kind of you to come. What can I offer you by way
of refreshment? Here is everything you can think of; and if there's
anything you can't think of, you have only to express a wish for it and
I'll order it at once."

"Thank you very much," replied Margaret, "but we've had refreshment

"And we're much obliged for the wreaths and slippers," added Frances.

"Not at all," responded the King. "Most condescending of you to wear
them. Do the slippers fit?"

"Perfectly, thank you."

"All right, then," unhooking his scarlet cloak and dropping it upon the
ground. "Come on, if you're ready. Race you to the other end!"

Away went the fat little King as hard as he could run, all down the
center pathway, and having such a good start he would certainly have
won had it not been for the aëro-plane bubbles the children had
swallowed. As it was, they took such immense steps that they caught the
King just as he reached the platform, on top of which they all jumped
in a row and flung themselves down on a three-seated throne, like a
high-backed church pew, except that it was decorated with gold knobs
and had a crown over the middle seat.

"Good!" cried the King, clapping his hands. "Everybody won! Distribute
the prizes!"

At this, all the court ladies and gentlemen came running, the ladies
in their wreaths and satin slippers skipping in pairs, weaving their
way among the chairs and tables, while the gentlemen, with great
agility, leap-frogged over the tops of the tables, all among the cups
and saucers, without upsetting one of them. They all jumped upon the
platform and ranged themselves about the throne, clapping their hands
with delight when the Court Crier advanced and deposited in the King's
lap a wooden box tied with white ribbon.

Having cut the ribbon, the King looked all over the box for a keyhole,
but could not find one; nor could he pry open the box with his
pocket-knife. It was very tantalizing.

He was bending over the box, looking for some way of opening it, when
Frances noticed a little knob at the back, and thinking that perhaps it
might be a spring, she leaned forward and pressed it with her finger.
She had guessed right. It was a spring; for the box-lid instantly flew
up, hitting the King such a crack under his nose that it made him

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" exclaimed Frances, clasping her hands.

"Not at all," replied His Majesty, very graciously, as he rubbed his
nose with the back of his hand; and then, slapping down the lid again,
he suddenly burst out laughing.

"Ha! Ha!" he cried, kicking up his feet. "Here's a game! Come here,
Admiral! Just come here and smell this box! Any gentleman who can tell
by the smell what is inside the box shall be allowed to fasten up his
stockings with brass-headed tacks."

All the gentlemen-courtiers crowded round at once, eager to compete
for the honor, when the Admiral, who had the first turn, stooped over
the box to smell it. This was the moment the King was waiting for. He
pressed the spring and _whack_ came the lid under the Admiral's nose,
causing him to jump into the air and turn a back-somersault right
over the heads of the courtiers--a pretty good jump for an admiral,
especially with one hand on his nose.

Margaret and Frances of course supposed that the courtiers, seeing what
had happened to the Admiral, would decline to smell the box. But, not
a bit of it: they did not take warning at all. They all came crowding
round, elbowing each other for the next turn, and one after another
they stooped to smell the box; one after another they received a crack
on the nose; and one after another they jumped backwards--the fat ones
about ten feet and the thin ones a foot or two further--and there they
all stood in a group holding their noses and gazing fixedly at the
Court Crier.

"Caddy! Caddy!" shouted the Court Crier.

Where he came from the children did not observe, but in an instant
there _was_ the caddy, box and all. The Court Crier immediately opened
the caddy-box, took out a clean handkerchief and clapped it over his

"Boo-hoo!" he cried, just once, and then peeped round the edge of the
handkerchief to see if that was enough. Apparently, it was not quite
enough, for he covered his eyes again and boo-hooed once more, when,
perceiving that the Admiral and the courtiers had all let go their
noses again and were smiling away as usual, he threw the handkerchief
into the box, and holding out the skirts of his long cloak with a
finger and thumb of each hand, he went skipping round in a circle, the
bell about his neck going _clink-clank_ at every step.

"Good!" cried the King, clapping his hands. "Jump for joy!"

Thereupon all the courtiers took hands and jumped up and down and back
and forth, coming so close up to the throne that Margaret and Frances
and the King had to tuck up their feet for fear of having their toes
trodden on.

"Oh, bother!" exclaimed His Majesty. "I wish they wouldn't crowd so";
and so saying, he jumped up into the seat of his throne and shouted as
loud as he possibly could:


At this, the whole company of courtiers, gentlemen and ladies as
well, turned their backs on the throne, and led by the Court Crier,
they leaped off the platform, raced up the center pathway and rushed,
pell-mell, through the glass doors at the other end; when the Admiral,
who had followed close behind, slammed the doors and locked them.
Having done so, the Admiral came smiling back again, twirling the key
on his finger.

"What's that for?" asked Margaret. "Do you always lock the doors for

"There isn't any dinner," replied the King, slyly screwing up one eye.
"It's just a trick of mine to get rid of them whenever they crowd too

"Do you do it often, then?" asked Margaret.

"Oh, yes. Two or three times a day sometimes."

"But, don't they ever learn?" cried Frances in surprise. "I shouldn't
have thought you could have played the same trick on them more than
once--or twice."

"Learn!" cried the King. "They never learn! They are the most
wooden-headed lot you ever saw. It isn't all fun, being a king," taking
off his crown and hanging it over one of the knobs on the back of the
throne, "not even a monarch of the Woods--especially the Hardwoods.
They _are_ such blockheads!"

The jovial little King looked almost melancholy, which, of course, was
against the laws of the Island, but he recovered again in a moment
when the Admiral tactfully poked him in the ribs with the door-key and
cried, "Cheer up, Rex!"

"Ha! Ha!" laughed the King. "No tickling! Come along, Ladies. Let's go
and see the dragon. We'll take the children with us."

"Oh, yes. Do!" cried Margaret, feeling that if the children went, too,
it must be perfectly safe. "How many children are there?"

"Six, I think," replied the King. "It is six isn't it, Admiral?"

"I believe it is," assented the Admiral. "Though I'm not quite sure
whether the carpenter has finished the last one yet."

"The carpenter!" cried both little girls, opening their eyes very wide.

"Certainly," replied the Admiral. "You didn't suppose it was a job for
the blacksmith, did you? But it's a long piece of work, even though the
last chip was the smallest of the lot. Coco bolo is such tough stuff,
you know, and of course the carpenter has to be extra particular in
turning out a Prince."

"Oh, so the little Princes are all made of coco bolo, too, are they?"
asked Margaret.

"Why, of course, they are," replied the King, rather surprised at the
question. "Chips from the old block, you know. There were six chips
left after I was finished, and the carpenter has been at work on them
ever since; though whether he has completed the last one yet, I don't
know. However, we'll soon see."

As he said this, the King popped his fingers into his mouth and blew a
shrill whistle. Immediately a door in the palace flew open and out came
six plump duchesses, with Roman noses and two corkscrew curls apiece,
dressed to look like nurses in mob caps and big white aprons, walking
one behind the other and each carrying a covered basket on her arm.

"Turn 'em out!" shouted the King; whereupon the six plump duchesses
turned their six baskets upside down and out fell six little boys,
dressed like Floating Island sailor-men, in cherry-colored blouses and
green and white striped bloomers. Some of them fell on their backs and
some on their heads and some on their noses and knees, but it seemed
to make no difference: they all jumped up at once and came running to
where Margaret and Frances and Coco Bolo Rex sat on the three-seated
throne waiting for them--skipping and frolicking and playing leap-frog
and cutting all sorts of capers.

"They've just been dosed," explained the King. "That's what makes them
so frisky."

"Dosed!" cried Margaret. "I didn't suppose dosing ever made anyone
frisky. What do you dose them with?"

"Caper sauce," replied the King. "Jolly little chips, aren't they?"

"They certainly are," cried Frances; and jumping down from her seat,
she ran forward and caught up the youngest, intending to give him a
good toss. She found him so heavy, however, that she changed her mind.

"Why! What a weight he is!" she exclaimed. "He's only about half as
tall as I am, but I believe he weighs as much."

"He's made of heavy stuff," explained the King. "But we'll soon mend
that. Come along, Chips, and I'll give you a treat."

Marching over to the aëro-plane fountain, the King drew the
milk-strainer from his pocket, and while the little Princes all stood
in a row with their mouths wide open, like young fly-catchers, he
fished out half-a-dozen bubbles and with the tip of his finger flipped
one down each throat in turn.

"Now," said he to Frances. "Try him again. You'll find him a good deal

He was; the difference was surprising--very surprising indeed to
Frances. For, not expecting him to be so light all of a sudden, she
tossed the little Prince into the air, when, instead of coming down
again, he flew out of her hands; the wind got into his blouse and his
bloomers, puffing them out like balloons, and away he went, floating
along about ten feet from the ground.



"Catch him!" shouted the King; "Catch him!" shouted the Admiral;
"Catch him!" cried Margaret and Frances and the five little Princes;
and all nine of them set off running as fast as they could, jumping
like a flock of grasshoppers, trying to grasp the infant Prince by his
ankles; while the infant Prince, himself, went sailing along backwards,
laughing with glee and waving his hands to the company below, evidently
enjoying himself immensely.

Where he might have blown to there is no telling, had it not been for
Margaret. As she ran past the throne she espied the King's crown still
hanging to one of the gold knobs. Snatching it down, she raced after
the others, and coming under the little Prince, she called out, "Here,
Princy, boy! Catch this!"--at the same time throwing up the crown to

The effect was rather unexpected. The youngster missed the catch, but
luckily Margaret had made such a good cast that the crown pitched over
his head and settled down upon his shoulders, like a horse-collar. The
little Prince instantly grasped it tight with both hands, when, being
overweighted, he turned heels up and came floating down head-first to
where nine pairs of hands were waiting to catch him.

"Well done!" cried His Majesty. "Very well done! Now--"

He stopped, and, holding up one finger, cocked his ears, when the two
little girls, listening too, heard the _clink-clank_ of the Court
Crier's bell approaching.

"Oh, bother!" exclaimed the King. "They've got out. That's the way they
always do. They sit down at the table and wait for dinner, and after a
bit they forget what they are waiting for and they all get up and come
out by the other door. They'll be coming round the corner in a minute.
Let's run!"

Away he went, Margaret and Frances and the Admiral, each holding two of
the little Princes by the hand, running after him, over the hill behind
the throne and down the other side, when the first thing they came to
was a sort of wood-shed containing a number of logs, each of which had
a ticket tacked on it, marked, "One," "Two," "Three," and so forth.

"Oh, so this is where you keep your firewood, is it?" remarked Margaret
to the Admiral.

[Illustration: _Turned heels up and came floating down head first_]

"Firewood!" cried the Admiral, aghast. "Dear me, no! These are all
family trees. Firewood! Tut! Tut! I'm glad the king didn't hear you."

"So am I," said Margaret. "It was a dreadful mistake, and I wouldn't
hurt his feelings for anything. What are all the logs numbered for?"

"So that the carpenter can tell which is which. See here!"

So saying, the Admiral reached down from a nail a big book, the leaves
of which were made of slabs of wood, like shingles.

"This," said he, "is the log-book, and you see each family tree is
recorded on a different page. Number one: the Oak family; number two:
the Maples; number three: Lignum-Vitæ--very aristocratic family, that;
number four: my own family, the Boxwoods; and so on."

"I see. What a good idea! I suppose that is the carpenter over there,
talking to the King: the little man in pink overalls and a paper cap,
scratching his ear with a chisel."

"That's the carpenter. He seems to be rather puzzled about something.
Let us go and see what he's making."

They found the King and the carpenter bending over a short log of
wood, roughly chiseled into the form of a man, which lay on a pair of
trestles between them. Both of them looked so serious that the little
girls could not help thinking there must be something wrong.

"What is it, Rex?" asked the Admiral. "Anything the matter?"

"Matter!" cried His Majesty. "I should think there was. We're regularly
up a stump. What kind of wood do you suppose this is?"--touching the
log with his foot.

"I'm sure I don't know," replied the Admiral. "What is it? Mahogany?"

"No. I wish it were. That would be simple enough. It's _Blue Gum_!"

"Phew!" whistled the Admiral. And then he and the King and the
carpenter all took hold of their chins with one hand, stuck out their
lower lips, and gazed in perplexity at the log of wood lying on the

Evidently it was a serious matter, for even the little Coco Bolos stuck
out their lower lips in imitation of their elders, though why it was a
serious matter Margaret and Frances could not understand. Margaret was
just going to ask, when the King turned round and said:

"It's because it's Blue Gum, you see. Any other color would have been
all right--but _Blue_! The one color we've always avoided."

"Most unlucky," remarked the Admiral. "How did it get here?"

"Floated ashore yesterday," replied the carpenter.

"You see," continued the King, "it is against the law here for anyone
to look blue--and what we are going to do with this log of Blue Gum I
can't think."

"Couldn't you make a policeman?" suggested Frances.

"Grand idea!" cried the King, clapping his hands. "Just the thing!
Thank you ever so much. We'll have a blue policeman to chase away the
'blues', just as we have a Court Crier to do the crying. What a happy
thought! Then, if anyone does forget to be cheerful and polite it shall
be the policeman's duty to catch him and paint him blue, of course."

"He won't have much to do at that rate," remarked the Admiral, "for
nobody has ever been painted blue yet. You'll have to give him
something else to do to fill up his time, or he'll be coming down with
the 'blues' himself."

"You might give him a butterfly net," suggested Margaret, "and set him
to chasing blue-bottles for practice."

"That's a good idea, too," responded the King. "So that's what we'll
do. Make a policeman, Carpenter, and, if you can, make one that will
keep awake. Do you think that's possible?"

"Oh, yes," replied the carpenter. "I can fix him. I'll give him a
hollow tooth, so that he can't breathe through his mouth without
getting the toothache, and I'll make his skin so tight that he won't be
able to shut his eyes without opening his mouth. See?"

"Very good idea," said the King. "So, pitch in, Carpenter, and get him
done as soon as you can. Hark! There's that bell again! Come on! Run!
Or they'll find us yet."

Away they all went again, round the corner of the wood-shed and up the
hill where stood the dragon's tower--a round, fat tower with one arched
doorway and no window. The dragon, himself, was not visible, until,
walking round to the other side of the tower, they espied the end of
his tail hanging over the edge between two of the battlements.

"He's taking his afternoon nap," remarked the King. "Hi! You mouldy old
reptile!" he called out. "Wake up! Here are two young ladies come to
call on you!"

At this, the long, scaly tail slowly withdrew, and in its place
presently appeared the dragon's head, looking down at them. Thinking
that he might feel irritable at being thus awakened from his nap,
Margaret and Frances carefully got behind the King, while Periwinkle
got behind _them_, but they felt reassured in a moment when they saw
what a jolly old dragon he was; for his little eyes twinkled and his
smile was of most genial proportions.

"How do, Ladies?" said the dragon, cordially. "Very glad to see you. I
would have come down earlier to pay my respects, only it was just the
time for my music lesson, so I couldn't well get away."

"No, of course not," assented Margaret, who was taking lessons on the
piano herself and knew how it was. "So you take music lessons, do you?
What on?"

"On purpose," replied the dragon. "Lessons in singing, with big drum
and cymbals accompaniment."

"That sounds difficult," remarked Frances. "Won't you sing us
something, Mr. Snap-Dragon?"

"Yes, do!" cried Margaret.

"Come on down Six-foot," said the King, encouragingly. "You needn't be
bashful. Come down and show your paces."

"All right," said the dragon. "Anything to oblige."

So saying, he withdrew his head, the children could hear his scales
going _clish-clash_ as he slid down the stairs, and presently he came
oozing out of the arched doorway--there seemed to be no end to him.

As he was the first dragon they had ever seen, the two little girls,
of course, gazed upon him with great interest. He had a long body and
a long tail and a long neck which he could draw in or stretch out like
a telescope, just as he pleased; he had six feet, on each of which he
was wearing his best, white-kid, company boxing-gloves; and his back
was shingled all over with copper-colored scales, two of which, placed
just beneath his shoulder-blades, were about the size and shape of
stove-lids. These two big scales appeared to work on hinges, like the
lid of a box, the reason for which arrangement the children could not
at first understand.

"Now, Lobsterneck, old boy!" said the King. "Clear your pipes and get
to work."

"Very well," replied the dragon. "What would you like first?"

"Give us a fantasia on the drum and cymbals--just to show the ladies
how you do it."

At this, the obliging old snap-dragon sat up straight, with his tail
curled round his hind feet, when, with his middle pair of fists he hit
himself several hard thumps on his chest, producing a sound like the
beating of a big drum. At the same time, every thump on his chest
caused the "stove-lid" scales on his back to fly up on their hinges and
come down again with a clash, making altogether a pretty good imitation
of the drum and cymbals.

"Good!" cried Frances, clapping her hands. "Isn't that clever!"

"Isn't it!" responded Margaret. "Did it take you a very long time to
learn, Mr. Snap-Dragon?"

"A longish time," replied the dragon, with a sideways wag of his head.
"The drum part is easy enough, of course, but I've had to spend hours
and hours practising my scales."

"I should think so," said Margaret, feelingly. "Scales on the piano
are difficult enough, but scales on your back must be much worse. Now,
won't you please sing us a song?"

"With pleasure," replied the dragon. "What sort of a song would you

"Sing something suitable to the occasion," said the King. "Something
about a garden-party, and put Margaret in."

"Oh, yes, do!" cried both the little girls. "Can you? That would be

"Anything to oblige," said the dragon once more; adding, with a modest
cough behind his boxing-glove, "I'll sing you a little song to a tune
of my own decomposing."

With that he unfolded a sheet of music, and holding it in his front
paws, prepared to sing.

[Illustration: _With that he unfolded a sheet of music and prepared to



While the dragon was fidgeting about, arranging and re-arranging his
tail--just like a young lady with her skirts--Margaret slipped behind
him to look at the music. It was the queerest music she had ever seen,
for it consisted of one big, black semi-breve, after which was written,
"Ad lib."--the same as saying, "Go as you please." On top of the sheet
was written:

      "Margaret's Tea Party.
    To the tune of Michael Roy.
       Decomposed by
    The Great American Snap-Dragon."

What a decomposed tune might be, Margaret did not know, though, as
soon as the dragon began to sing, she saw what a simple matter it was;
she felt sure she could decompose one herself. All you had to do,
apparently, was to sing the right notes if you could remember them and
to fill in with notes of your own when you couldn't.

By this time Lobsterneck had arranged his tail to his liking, so
Margaret ran back and took her place with the others in front of him,
when the dragon, with a preliminary shake to loosen his scales, began
to sing:

    "One day when Margaret went out
       To walk upon the hill,
    She saw a lovely purple duck
       Who had a yellow bill.

    Said Marg'ret to the purple duck,
      'If you'll come home with me,
    I'll give you beans and buttered toast
      And sugar in your tea'."

"Chorus!" shouted the dragon; when everybody, notwithstanding the fact
that they had never heard the chorus before, pitched in and sang:

            "For, Oh! For, Oh!
    We're out for a regular spree,
      And you shall have anything else you like
    If only you'll come to tea."

This chorus they sang after each pair of verses, the rest of which were
as follows:

    "'I'll come,' the purple duck replied,
      And flapped one little wing,
    And wagged her tail, she was so glad,
      And tried her best to sing.

    But that was more than she could do,
      And so she merely said,
    'Quack, quack!' and wagged her tail again,
      And jumped about instead.

    Then Marg'ret said, 'Suppose we go
      And see what we can find.'
    So up the hill she walked again,
      The purple duck behind.

    They looked behind the stones and trees,
      They looked behind the wall,
    And there they found a sky-blue crane,
      And he was very tall.

    Said Marg'ret to the sky-blue crane,
      'If you'll come home with me,
    I'll give you macaroni soup
      And apples with your tea.'

    'Ha, ha!' the sky-blue crane replied,
      And that was all he said,
    But on the wall he quickly jumped
      And stood upon his head.

    And next they saw a chicken house,
      And Marg'ret looked inside,
    And there she found a speckled hen
      And seven chicks beside.

    Said Marg'ret to the speckled hen,
      'If you'll come home with me,
    I'll give you meat and marmalade
      And spinach with your tea.'

    'Cluck, cluck!' the speckled hen replied.
      'And if it won't be rude,
    I'll come to tea myself,' said she,
      'And bring my hungry brood.'

    Said Marg'ret to the little chicks,
      'If you'll come home with me,
    I'll give you cakes and cream of wheat
      And malted milk for tea.'

    'Peep, peep!' the little chicks replied,
      'Our throats are dry with thirst'.
    'Then come,' said Marg'ret, 'let us run
      And see who gets there first.'

    So down they ran; the sky-blue crane,
      The purple duck, and then
    The seven little thirsty chicks
      Behind the speckled hen.

    The duck had beans and buttered toast
      And sugar in her tea;
    The crane had macaroni soup
      And apples, two or three.

    The speckled hen had spinach, too,
      And marmalade and meat;
    The chicks had cakes and malted milk,
      As well as cream of wheat.

    A splendid supper had they all,
      As much as they could wish;
    They emptied every single plate
      And cleared off every dish.

    And when they'd eaten all they could,
      They stood up in a row,
    And made a bow to Margaret,
      For it was time to go.

    'We're very much obliged,' they said.
      'We're very glad we came'.
    The duck, the crane, the hen, the chicks,
      They each one said the same.

    And when they all got home again
      Upon the hill so steep,
    They tucked their heads beneath their wings
      And quickly went to sleep.

            For, Oh! For, Oh!
    We're out for a regular spree,
      And you shall have anything else you like
    If only you'll come to tea."

At the end of the song, while everybody was applauding and crying,
"Encore," the dragon, with his tail hung over his arm, waltzed round
and round in a solemn manner until he was out of breath, when he sat
down with his back against the tower and fanned himself with the music.

"Very good song," said the King. "Does you credit, Drum Major. Now, get
your breath again and sing us another. Something about Frances this

"Please do," begged Frances, coming forward with Periwinkle under her
arm. "Something about me and Periwinkle--or is that _too_ difficult?"

"Not at all," replied Lobsterneck. "Simplest thing possible. Just a

So saying, he took his fountain pen from behind his ear, and spreading
the music on the door-step of the tower, he scratched out "Margaret's
Tea Party", and wrote instead, "Frances and the Spotted Pup." Having
done so, he sat up straight once more, tucked his pen behind his ear,
thumped his chest two or three times, just to see if his scales were in
tune, and began again:

    "One summer day as Frances went
      A-walking up the street,
    She met a little spotted pup
      Who had a piece of meat.

    Said Frances to the spotted pup,
      'If you eat all of that,
    I greatly fear, my little Dear,
      You'll grow a deal too fat'."

Once more everybody joined in the chorus, though the words were almost
entirely different:

            "For, Oh! For, Oh!
    There surely is no question,
    That if you gobble your meals too fast
      You'll have the indigestion."

With his eye fixed on Periwinkle, as if to remind him that he was the
subject of his song, the dragon went on:

    "The spotted pup, he shut one eye
      And gave a little squeak.
    He could not talk, because his mouth
      Was much too full to speak.

    And then that foolish spotted pup--
      I wonder he could do it--
    He swallowed that great piece of meat
      And never thought to chew it.

    At first it tasted very good,
      But pretty soon he cried:
    'Oh, dear! Oh, dear! I greatly fear
      I have a pain inside.

    I quite forgot to chew my food--
      I won't forget again.
    Boo-hoo! Boo-hoo! What shall I do?
      I have a dreadful pain!'

    When Frances saw the tears run down--
      They made a little pool--
    She lifted up the spotted pup
      And set him on a stool.

    'Sit there', said she, 'I won't be long'.
      The puppy cried, 'Alack!'
    But Frances said, 'Be patient, now,
      I'll very soon be back.'

    Away she ran, and back she came,
      She wasn't gone a minute.
    She had a bottle in her hand,
      And there was something in it.

    'Take this,' said she, 'and you will be
      Much better very soon.'
    And then she gave him pepsin in
      A large-sized table-spoon.

    And pretty soon, as Frances said,
      The pain had gone away.
    'Bow-wow! Bow-wow! I'm better now,'
      The spotted pup did say.

    And then by every means he knew,
      By voice and attitude,
    The spotted puppy did his best
      To show his gratitude.

    So Frances patted him, and said:
      'Now, don't forget again
    To chew your dinner, or you'll have
      Another dreadful pain.'

    'I won't,' said he. 'Whate'er it be:
      Oatmeal or soup or suet,
    I never will forget again
      To chew and chew and chew it.'

            For, Oh! For, Oh!
      There surely is no question,
    That if you gobble your meals too fast
      You'll have the indigestion."



Hardly had they finished the last chorus, when they heard once more
the clank of the Court Crier's bell, and there were the Court Crier,
himself, and all the courtiers running up the hill to join them.

The King turned to fly, when Lobsterneck, with a sudden snort,
straightened himself up, and stretching out his long neck, began
sniffing the breeze.

"What is it, Six-foot?" asked Coco Bolo.

Without waiting to reply, the dragon bolted into his tower and up the
stairway, when, no sooner had he reached the top than he clapped his
fore-paws to his mouth and began bellowing like a cow. At the very
first bellow all the dog-fish down in the bay began to bark, while
Periwinkle, excitedly jumping about, joined in the chorus, though he
had not the least idea what he was barking about.

"What is it, Lobsterneck?" shouted the King. "Who's coming?"

"Can't tell yet," the dragon shouted back. "All I can see is the upper
half of a mast with a big gray cat sitting on top of it."

"A cat!" cried the King. "Then it must be the Archbishop."

"The Archbishop of Timbuctoo-and-a-half?" asked Margaret.

"Yes, the Archbishop of Timbuctoo-and-a-half. He promised to drop in
to-day. He's cruising around on his private raft."

"That's who it is!" cried the dragon, leaning over the edge of
the tower and calling down to the King. "I can see him now. He's
just come through the cloud-wall. Hooray, for the Archbishop of

With that, the enthusiastic Lobsterneck dived head-first down his
staircase, with a clash as though someone had flung a shovelful of
tenpenny nails on a stone pavement, bolted out of the arched doorway,
and galloped off down the hill toward the beach to welcome the

"Come on!" shouted the King; and away he went, himself, down the hill,
followed by Margaret and Frances, the little Coco Bolos, the Admiral,
the Court Crier and all the courtiers, everyone of them running so
fast that stumpy-legged Periwinkle, the only one who had not had any
aëro-plane water, was the last in the race.

As soon as they arrived at the pier, they saw the raft slowly
approaching, escorted on all sides by the whole pack of dog-fish. It
was a trim and well built raft, about as big as a bedroom floor, with
a mast in the middle, to which was attached a square sail, blown out
tight by the wind. On top of the mast, having evidently been scared
up there by the barking of the dog-fish, sat a big gray cat; while in
front of the sail, holding his crozier in one hand and kissing the
other to the people ashore stood the Archbishop, himself.

To Margaret and Frances, who had never seen one before, an Archbishop
was almost as much of a curiosity as a snap-dragon. At the same time,
however, they had formed in their own minds a sort of picture of what
an Archbishop would be like, expecting to find him a dignified old
gentleman, dressed in black, with a bald head, a long white beard, and
most probably wearing a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles.

What was their surprise, therefore, when, as the raft drew near,
they saw that the Archbishop of Timbuctoo-and-a-half was not by any
means the kind of person they had imagined. He was a jaunty young
gentleman with a neat little black moustache; instead of gold-rimmed
spectacles, he wore in his right eye an eyeglass which he kept in
place with difficulty by screwing up one corner of his mouth; on his
shoulders, concealing all but his white silk stockings and red shoes,
he wore a purple cloak embroidered all over with gold lace; while, most
noticeable of all, on his head was an archbishop's mitre of ample size
and antique design.

Slowly the raft glided forward, until it presently bumped gently
against the pier, when the frisky Archbishop, using his crozier as a
jumping pole, leaped lightly upon the steps, and running up them with
hand extended, he cried:

"Well, Coco, how goes it? How are you, old block; and how are all the
little chips? All cheerful and smiling as usual? Ah!"--catching sight
of the two little girls--"You have guests, I see. Won't you present me?"

"With pleasure," replied the King. "Ladies, let me present the
Archbishop of Timbuctoo-and-a-half. Archbishop, these are my friends,
Margaret and Frances, who have done me the honor to come to my
garden-party. And talking of garden-parties," he continued, "come along
up to the palace and have some refreshment. Bring your cat, too. I
expect he's hungry. What's his name?"

"Thomas A'Becket," replied the Archbishop. "Come on, Thomas!" he called
to the cat. "Come and have some milk."

[Illustration: _He was a jaunty young gentleman_]

But Thomas A'Becket declined. He looked at the Archbishop, but he
stayed where he was.

"He's a little out of sorts today," remarked the Archbishop, "and if he
has made up his mind to stay up there, it's no use trying to make him
come down."

"Isn't it, though!" cried the dragon, hastily pulling off his
boxing-gloves. "Just you wait a minute. I'll make him."

"Hallo, Lobsterneck!" exclaimed the Archbishop, giving the dragon a
friendly tap on the head with his crozier. "You're here, are you?
Glad to see you again, old gargoyle. So you think you can make Thomas
A'Becket come down, do you? All right. Go ahead, and let's see how you
do it."

"I'll show you, Archbishop," replied Lobsterneck. "I'll fetch him down
all right--never you fear."

Standing on the pier, the dragon stretched out his long neck and tried
to pick the cat off the top of the mast with his teeth. He could not
quite reach him, however, so--forgetting what a rickety sort of thing a
raft is--he gathered his six feet under him and jumped aboard.

Greatly to his astonishment, the raft instantly tilted up, the mast
came over and hit him a severe crack on the crown of his head, and
the next thing he knew he was down at the bottom of the sea with all
the dog-fish worrying and snapping at him--though this was a matter
of small consequence, for Lobsterneck was so well shingled that the
dog-fishes' teeth could make no impression.

A moment later, snorting and spluttering, up bobbed Lobsterneck again,
with half-a-dozen of the biggest dog-fish holding on to his tail, while
all the rest, leaping out of the water, turned somersaults in the air
and barked encouragement.

Instead of climbing up the steps of the pier again, so confused was
the amiable old snap-dragon by the worrying and the barking and the
splashing of the dog-fish, that he made straight for the shore, when,
having shaken himself free of his tormentors, he galloped off home to
his tower, upon the top of which he presently reappeared, seated on his
three-legged stool, drying his scales with his pocket handkerchief.

But though Lobsterneck's plan for getting Thomas A'Becket ashore had
not turned out exactly as he had intended, it had nevertheless proved
entirely successful, for when the raft tilted up and the mast hit the
dragon such a crack on the top of his head, the reluctant cat was sent
flying through the air, landing on the pier so close to Periwinkle that
they almost bumped noses.

Periwinkle, himself, strange to say, did not notice the sudden arrival
of the Archbishop's cat. With his head in the air and his eyes shut
tight, he was barking and barking and barking, having the very best
time he ever remembered, when, all of a sudden something sharp stuck
into his nose. With a yelp of astonishment, he leaped backwards and
opened his eyes, to see standing before him the angry Thomas A'Becket,
who, with arched back and distended tail, swore sharply at the
unoffending puppy.

"Oh!" cried everybody, throwing up their hands in dismay; for such a
dreadful breach of the laws had _never_ happened before.

"Be cheerful," said law number one; and here was a cat just as angry as
a cat could be.

"Be polite," said law number two; and here was a cat using
language--Tut! Tut! And an archbishop's cat, too. Just think of that!
If it had been a curate's cat, or even a vicar's--but, an archbishop's
cat! No wonder the poor Archbishop covered his face with his hand and
blushed purple with embarrassment.

For a full half-minute everyone stood speechless, with hands held up
and eyes and mouths wide open, until suddenly the Court Crier, who
was the first to recover, began ringing his bell and shouting, "Blue
paint! Blue paint!" as loud as he could.

Upon this, everybody else shouted, "Blue paint!"--the King and the
Admiral and the little Coco Bolos, as well; though Margaret and Frances
felt sure that half of them, at least, had no idea what they meant by
it, especially as they kept on shouting, "Blue paint!" without ever
thinking, seemingly, that it was anybody's business to go and get it.

The only one who seemed to be quite unconcerned was the one who had
caused all the rumpus: Thomas A'Becket, himself. Calmly seated on the
pier, he proceeded to wash his face with his paws, paying no attention
at all to the King and his courtiers, who, standing in a circle around
him, continued to shout, "Blue paint!" without intermission.

How long they might have gone on shouting there is no knowing, had not
Margaret interfered. Losing patience, she stepped up to the King, and
clapping her hand over his mouth just as he had opened it for another
shout--the King almost exploded at being so suddenly "corked"--she
stooped and called into his ear:

"Why don't you send for your new policeman?"

Coco Bolo, with his eyes turned up, waited till Margaret removed her
hand, when he took off his crown with a flourish, and bowing politely,

"That's a capital idea of yours. Why didn't I think of it before?"

So saying, he clapped his crown upon his head again and set off running
up the middle of the pier, shouting, "Police!" at the top of his voice.

Not a single one of the courtiers had the least idea that there was any
such thing as a policeman on the island, but they were a well-trained
company, and knowing that the first duty of a courtier is to do as the
King does, they all set off running, too, shouting, "Police! Police!

Just as they got clear of the pier and had started up the hill to the
carpenter's shop, round the end of the shop, itself, came the new
policeman, running as fast as he could, with a butterfly net in one
hand and a pot of blue paint in the other; while behind him ran the
carpenter, a gimlet in his right hand and a hollow tooth in his left,
calling out, "Hi! Hi! Come back! You're not finished yet!"

The policeman, however, took no notice--perhaps he thought he could get
along well enough without a hollow tooth. Down the hill he came, ran
along the pier to where Thomas A'Becket still sat washing his face, and
made a scoop at the cat with the butterfly net.

But Thomas A'Becket was not the sort of cat to be caught quite so
easily as that. He just popped between the policeman's legs and came
racing up the pier, when those wooden-headed courtiers, instead of
heading him off, got out of his way and allowed him to pass.

Away he went, straight for the palace, the policeman behind him and
everybody else behind the policeman, until they came to the tea-garden,
and there Thomas A'Becket vanished from sight.

[Illustration: _Away he went, straight for the palace_]



"He's hiding somewhere," whispered the King. "Look out, everybody, or
he'll be jumping out suddenly!"

At this suggestion, all the court ladies, with delicate squeals, jumped
upon the marble-topped tables and held their petticoats tight around
them, while the policeman and the Court Crier and the Admiral and the
courtiers ran up and down, peeping under the chairs and behind the
bushes and flower-pots in search of Thomas A'Becket.

Meanwhile, Margaret and Frances and Coco Bolo--the little Coco Bolos
having been sent back to the nursery--went and sat down on the throne
to rest, perceiving which, the Archbishop, thinking he would like to
sit down, too, advanced towards them, dragging a chair behind him.

At this moment, Periwinkle, who, as usual, was the last to arrive, came
running to jump into Frances' lap, when, passing in front of the King's
seat, he suddenly stopped and began to growl.

"What are _you_ growling at?" asked Coco Bolo; and leaning forward, he
peeped under the throne, when out bounced Thomas A'Becket right under
his nose!

"There he goes!" cried the King, and springing out of his seat, he gave

At the same moment, the Archbishop, letting go his chair, rushed
forward, when, as neither of them looked where he was going, they
banged their heads together and went over backwards on the grass, where
they both sat with their feet straight out in front of them, staring
blankly at each other.

The shock of the collision knocked off the Archbishop's mitre and sent
it rolling along the ground right in front of Thomas A'Becket, who,
seeing what a good hiding-place it would make, popped into it and
curled himself up inside.

It was all done so quickly that nobody noticed what had become of the
cat except the two little girls, who, jumping down from their seats,
ran and picked up the mitre With Thomas A'Becket inside it. Tying the
strings together, they carried it between them to the throne and there
hung it up on the highest of the gold-knobs at the back of the King's

"Keep quiet, Thomas A'Becket," whispered Margaret, standing on tiptoe
on the arm of the seat and peeping into the mitre. "Keep quiet, and
you'll be all safe."

"Pur-r-r!" replied Thomas A'Becket, who was really a very nice cat when
he was treated with proper respect.

Margaret and Frances then jumped down again, and running to where the
King and the Archbishop still sat on the grass, rubbing their heads and
staring at each other, they stretched out their hands and pulled them
both to their feet again.

"Where's my mitre?" asked the Archbishop, looking all about on the
ground. "Oh, it's up there, is it? Did _you_ hang it up? Thank you,
ever so much. I'm glad to be rid of it: it's precious heavy and

"Mitres and crowns _are_ heavy," assented Coco Bolo. "That's the worst
of being somebody of importance. But it's no reason why we shouldn't
have some refreshment, all the same. So, sit down here at this table,
and we'll all have some cookies and aëro-plane water."

"Thank you," said Margaret. "But, if you don't mind, we should like
some milk instead. We're a little afraid of the aëro-plane water."

"Very well," said the King, graciously. "And here's a saucerful for
Periwinkle. If that foolish cat had only behaved himself he might have
had some, too."

"Mi-ow!" said Thomas A'Becket in a plaintive tone, his voice sounding
so muffled and indistinct that neither the King nor the Archbishop
could tell which direction it came from. They both jumped up and looked
under their chairs, but, of course, there was no cat there, so they sat
down again.

They had hardly settled themselves in their chairs once more, when the
policeman and the Court Crier and the Admiral and the courtiers all
came back to say that Thomas A'Becket could not be found.

"What's to be done, then?" asked the King. "What's the law in the case,

"How should I know?" asked the policeman.

"Why, that's your business. You're the guardian of the law, aren't you?"

"I suppose I am," replied the policeman. "But if there are only two
laws to guard, and if neither of them fits the case, what are you going
to do?"

"Why! Make one that will fit, of course," retorted His Majesty. "Anyone
but a blue-gum policeman would know that!"

"Oh, very well, then," said the blue-gum policeman; and straightening
himself up, he announced in a loud voice: "Law number three: Any
Archbishop whose cat swears in public shall be put in the corner and
painted blue."

"That's rubbish," said Margaret. "It wasn't the Archbishop's fault."

"No," added Frances. "And I don't think it's fair to punish a cat or an
archbishop either for breaking laws they never heard of--especially a
law that was not made till afterwards."

"Sorry," replied the King, with a shake of his head, "but it can't be
helped. I'd be glad to let him off, but the law's the law, you know.
It makes me weep, Archbishop"--here the King paused and winked at the
Court Crier, who hastily snatched a pocket handkerchief out of his
caddy-box and shed one tear--"It makes me weep, as you see, Archbishop,
but I'm afraid you'll have to be painted blue."

"Blue paint! Blue paint!" shouted all the courtiers.

"Look here!" cried the Archbishop, rising from his chair and rapping
his knuckles on the table. "How can anyone think with such a racket
going on? Look here, Coco Bolo!" he continued, when the noise had
subsided. "This new policeman of yours has never had any lessons in
painting, has he? Well, I object to having any brand-new, blue-gum
policeman trying experiments on _me_. I'm the Archbishop of
Timbuctoo-and-a-half, am I not? Well--Gracious, goodness!--whoever
heard of an archbishop being painted by any but a first-rate artist?
It's ridiculous! Perfectly ridiculous! If you want your policeman to
practice on somebody, let him practice on the cat. Thomas A'Becket is
the one who broke the law first--well, then, paint Thomas A'Becket

This sounded so much like good sense that Margaret and Frances clapped
their hands; whereupon, all the courtiers, who had just opened their
mouths to shout, "Blue paint!" again, changed their minds and clapped
their hands instead.

As for Coco Bolo, he looked puzzled. He tilted his crown over his eye
while he scratched his head, and then of a sudden he set it straight
again, and jumping out of his chair, he cried:

"I'll tell you what! Look here! Thomas A'Becket is hiding somewhere
close by, because we heard him mew just now; so, this is what we'll do.
We'll lay a trap for him. We'll set out a saucer of milk on the table
and then we'll all go and hide in the bushes and wait for him to come

It was a pretty good idea--considering what a thick and solid head the
King had, it was a very good idea.

The saucer was filled, when everybody went tiptoing away; Margaret and
Frances and Coco Bolo and the Archbishop going and hiding behind the

All was silent, when the little girls, peeping round the end of the
throne, saw Thomas A'Becket climb out of the mitre, jump down upon the
seat and go walking across the lawn towards the table.

"Look out, Thomas!" whispered Margaret. "Look out, or they'll catch

The old cat turned his head and shut one eye, as much as to say, "Don't
you worry," and walked on, until, having reached the table, he jumped
upon it, and settling himself comfortably with his fore-paws tucked
under his chest, he began lapping up the milk.

Two seconds later, out from behind a bush stepped the blue-gum
policeman, butterfly net, paint-pot and all, while from behind every
other bush and flower-pot came all the courtiers, with their shoulders
up to their ears and their elbows stuck out, walking on tiptoe towards
the table.

"Come on, now, and see the fun," whispered Coco Bolo, leading the way
round to the front of the throne, where they all stood watching and
waiting to see what was to happen next.

The policeman and the courtiers had crept up close to the table; the
former already had his butterfly net extended at arm's length to
clap it down over Thomas A'Becket; it seemed as though the cat would
surely be caught this time, when suddenly a brilliant idea popped into
Margaret's head. Jumping into the seat of the throne, she clapped her
hands to her mouth and shouted:


It was like magic! Thomas A'Becket was completely forgotten in an
instant. The whole company, policeman and all, with the Admiral behind
them, went racing up the center pathway to the dining-hall; while the
jovial little King--who really had no desire to see Thomas A'Becket
painted blue--the King, in ecstasies at the success of the trick, flung
his crown upon the grass, and went stamping about, laughing so hard
that the tears ran out of his eyes.

"Run, now!" he cried, as soon as he could get his breath. "Run,
Archbishop, and get aboard your raft! The door is locked up there and
they'll all be back in a minute."

"Here's your hat, Archbishop," said Margaret, springing upon the arm
of the throne and reaching down the mitre. "And, if you don't mind, I
think we'll come with you. It's time for us to go, anyhow."

"I think you had better," agreed the King. "There's no accounting for
a blue-gum policeman: he might be wanting to paint _you_ next. So, if
I were you, I'd take passage on the Archbishop's raft and skip out at
once. Sorry to have you go, but I think you'd better. See! here they
come! Good-bye!"--shaking hands hastily--"Good-bye. Call again!"

In fact, having discovered, by the simple process of banging their
noses against it, that the door was locked, the courtiers had all
turned round, and shouting, "Blue paint! Blue paint!" with all their
spare breath, were racing down the pathway again, when Margaret and
Frances and the Archbishop, followed by Periwinkle and Thomas A'Becket,
set off running for the pier.

Leaping aboard the raft, they untied it, spread the sail, and amid the
shouting of the courtiers, the ringing of the Court Crier's bell, the
bellowing of the snap-dragon and the barking of the dog-fish, away they
sailed and soon were lost to sight in the cloud-wall.

On they went, softly sailing along through the mist, expecting every
moment to come out on the other side. But the cloud-wall must have
been ever so much thicker than it was when they arrived, for they kept
sailing on and on and on, long after the last of the dog-fish had
ceased to bark and long after the dragon had given up bellowing.

It was easy, slow, drowsy sort of travelling, and presently Frances,
stifling a yawn with difficulty, remarked:

"I feel rather tired. I think I'll sit down a bit and rest."

"I think I will, too," responded Margaret, covering her mouth with both

"So will I," added the Archbishop, with a yawn so tremendous that he
had to hold his mitre in front of his face to hide it.

Down they sat, therefore, with their backs against the mast, and as was
to be expected, in two seconds they were all sound asleep--Periwinkle
and Thomas A'Becket as well.

How long they had been sailing, the children never could tell, when
suddenly, "_Clink-clank!_" went the Court Crier's bell, somewhere close

Margaret woke up with a start, clutching her sister by the arm, and
then for several seconds she stared about her, wondering where she was.

Nor was it surprising that she should sit and stare, for, when at
length she did recognize her surroundings, she found herself beneath
the trees by the sea-shore where she and Frances had lain down to rest
after their vain pursuit of their shadows that morning.

[Illustration: _Nor was it surprising that she should sit and stare_]

There, too, sat Frances, bolt upright, blinking and gazing about her in
a bewildered manner; and there too, lay Periwinkle, flat on his side,
his beady black eyes wide open and his red worsted smile fixed and
immovable--a yellow plush puppy once more.

Again the bell sounded. Margaret looked hastily behind her, and there
was old Daphne, the milk-cow, quietly feeding, the bell about her neck
going "_Clink-clank_," at every motion.

At the same moment, from far across the ocean came a melancholy
"Hoo-oo! Hoo-oo!"

"Hark, Frances! Hark!" cried Margaret. "Did you hear it? There's the
poor old dragon bellowing. Somebody else must have arrived. Oh, what
an adventure we've had! Come along! Let's run home and tell Daddy!
Won't he be glad to hear that there _is_ a King Coco Bolo and a Great
American Snap-Dragon and an Archbishop and a Floating Island and

"Won't he!" said Frances, as they set off homeward hand in hand.

Transcriber's note

  Obvious typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected.

  Hyphenation has been used inconsistently. The text here matches
  the original.

  Blank pages adjacent to illustrations and their page numbers have been

  Emphasised text is marked thus:

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Coco Bolo: King of the Floating Islands, by 
Sidford Frederick Hamp


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