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WEIRD ISLANDS 





The Ten Travellers 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

by Jean de 
BOSSCHERE 




LONDON 
CHAPMAN AND HALL, LTD. 

1921 



BOOKS WRITTEN AND 

ILLUSTRATED BY THE 

SAME AUTHOR 

B&Lle-Gryne 

Dolorine et les Ombres 

Metiers Divins 

Max Elskamp 

Edifices Anciens 

Le Style de Leys 

La Sculpture Anversoise 

La Dialectique du Dessin 

Twelve Occupations 

O,uinten Metsys 

The Closed Door 

Le Bourg (shortly) 

The City Curious 



Illustrated by the Author 

Christmas Tales of Flanders 
Beasts and Men 
Gulliver's Travels 



PRINTED IN ENGLAND AT THE WESTMINSTER FRKSS. LONDON W. 



FOREWORD 

I HEARD this fantastic story for the first time on a 
summer evening, and I wish to share at once 
the pleasure that it gave me with others, of all 
ages and of all tastes. I must confess, though, that 
when I had once begun re-telling it, I thought more 
of the pleasure that it was giving myself than of the 
pleasure that it would give to others. But we all know 
that the joy we take in contemplating any work of 
art must be measured by the joy that went to the 
artist's creation of it. And certainly the Weird Islands 
has given me long weeks of genuine happiness. I 
wish I could have it with others ; I wish others could 
have been there to help me while I worked, and while 
my friend improvised on his violin tunes as curious 
as Stravinsky's, and while my little green parrakeets 
nibbled at my brushes. 

In re- telling these adventures, I did not adopt the 
form of a novel, because in that shape it would have 
taken six volumes to describe Weird Islands, and 
because I was able to employ another means of 
description drawing, which can show immediately 
people and objects in a way that it would take several 
pages to describe. Until to-day no one has attempted 
to combine these two mediums in a precise and 
absolute manner. This is not a book in which the 
drawings repeat and illustrate what the text has told. 
Here, the author, when it seemed more suitable for 



FOREWORD 

the story, has described characters and objects by a 
drawing ; reserving writing to convey impressions, 
sentiments, anger, melancholy, sadness, surprise and 
joy or the impatience of the people concerned. And 
thus the adventures and scenes are told by the draw- 
ings as much as by the text. Each is the complement of 
the other. That is the real character of these stories. 
Weird Islands was never conceived without the 
drawings. 

I know that this method would not suit a novel, 
where the main interest lies in the development of 
character and incident. But it is as natural as it is 
amusing in a story where the scenes are constantly 
changing, and where the interest is found particu- 
larly in what the queer people, at every step, meet in 
the way of unexpected creatures and objects, fabu- 
lous islands, conciliating and wicked monsters, and 
creatures who are comic or poetical. I had to show 
the ten travellers whose voyage had been recounted 
to me, to show their costumes, their faces, their 
weapons, and their musical instruments. And so I 
drew ten faithful portraits (since psychology was 
not concerned, nor symbolism, nor allegory, nor 
philosophy). When one of the people met a 
strange animal, or the Silent Island, or the Island of 
Long Women, or cannibals, or the building Cyclops, 
I have made drawings of these things and these 
creatures instead of giving a long description of 
them. 

It is a legitimate method. Can we not imagine 
/Esop telling his fables with drawings as well as 
vi 



FOREWORD 

words ; Apuleius tracing on his tablets images of 
his metamorphoses ; Maundeville recounting his 
voyages with manuscripts covered with sketches. 
The interest invoked by such a book is not easily 
exhausted. It is not necessary to read it again to 
derive pleasure from it. It is enough to turn the 
pages ; the images impress themselves on the mem- 
ory. Weird Islands is not, of course, perfect of 
its kind, perfect that is in comparison with what it 
might be, with that ideal book which would be like 
a familiar room, full of souvenirs, curious and strange 
and tender. Souvenirs and portraits that one could 
look at and touch at leisure ; souvenirs and portraits 
that, touched or looked upon, would evoke memories 
of emotions, pleasures and curiosities ; souvenirs 
and portraits which each time one saw them would 
reveal their mystery a little more. 




vu 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

STORY OF THE CARPENTER'S SAW. THE 
CARPENTER MEETS THE MUSICIANS 
IN THE PARK. DESCRIPTION OF THE 
CARPENTER'S COSTUME. PETER WITH 
THE VOICE OF A FLY. PURCHASE OF 
A SAW. THE CARPENTER'S BLUE HAT 

ONE evening the Carpenter went out to take 
a walk in the streets of London. He walked 
in the direction of the Green Park in the hope 
of finding some moths for his collection. Just as he 
was approaching the Park railings he saw a little red 
light, which went out as he looked at it. This inter- 
ested the Carpenter so much that he at once hurried 




SOME MOTHS FOR HIS COLLECTION 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

.}.;.!/: ;..:'; -through. -an opening in the railings, and saw, sitting 
on some chairs and seats under the trees, several 
most curious looking people. 

Though it was a dark evening he could see that 
one of them was very big and wore a mask ; this 
was Bing. Another had a perfectly white face that 
looked as though it was covered with flour ; he had 
thick, black eyebrows and a little round patch of red 
on each cheek ; this was Peter. Their costumes were 
superb, sprinkled with stars and shining patterns so 
that you could see them easily in the dark. 

The Carpenter's costume was very simple. He 
wore wide yellow trousers and a little black velvet 
waistcoat over a rose-coloured shirt. He also wore a 
very high blue hat. He was rather shy at approaching 
this brilliant group of people, but they all greeted 
him very kindly, and made him sit down beside them. 

" We are discussing the final arrangements for 
the voyage of the Blue Boat," said Peter, whose voice 
was very little and thin like the voice of a fly. 

" So they are going for a voyage in a Blue Boat," 
thought the Carpenter to himself. " I think I should 
like to go with them. I might find some butterflies 
and moths for my collection." 

" What is your instrument ? " Peter asked him. 

Peter himself carried a yellow oblong box with a 
long handle joined to it by tightly drawn strings, 
which sang when you touched them. 

" I will bring it when we start," answered the 
Carpenter politely, having quickly decided to join 
the young men on their voyage. 
2 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

A girl young and pretty, who had been standing 
near by, now came and sat down by the Carpenter. 
She also was beautifully dressed in radiant colours, 
and she, too, carried a box, but tier's was shaped like 




A GIRL YOUNG AND PRETTY 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

the half of a pear, with a long tail. This box had 
wires stretched across it, which made agitated little 
sounds when they were touched. She called it a 
mandoline. She had also a red leather case, which 
contained Peter's toilet requisites, white flour, red 
paint and some charcoal for his eyebrows. 

She was very fond of Peter, and liked to see him 
look nice. 

' Don't you think our Peter is very pretty ? " she 
whispered to the Carpenter. " But don't forget that 
he's my friend as well as yours." 

This made everyone think that the Carpenter was 
a friend of Peter's, and Peter himself, who was very 
forgetful, immediately thought so too. So that was 
all right, and, after some more very pleasant con- 
versation, they joined hands and danced in a ring 
round the biggest tree for luck. Then they said 
goodbye to each other, after making an appoint- 
ment to meet on Greenwich Pier the day after 
next. 

Next day, as soon as the big shops were open, the 
Carpenter went shopping in a warm brown cloak. 

He went into one of the biggest shops and asked 
for an instrument. They pushed him very politely 
into a lift, and when he stepped out on the next floor 
he found himself surrounded by thousands of curious 
objects made of wood and steel and iron. For instance 
there were long rounded pieces of wood with a flat 
piece of iron at one end of them. 

1 That is a spade, Sir," said the shop assistant, in 
a very decided voice, as he showed one to the 

4 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

Carpenter. The Carpenter did not like the look of 
the spades, so he said : 
" I will look round for myself, thank you," and 




GAVE OUT A GRAVE, CONCENTRATED NOTE 

moved away. He walked round and round the de- 
partment and looked at everything. He had never 
seen anything like these instruments, and he found 

5 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

he knew only one kind by name. These were little 
sharp-pointed things, flattened at one end, and he 
knew that they were called nails. He had seen them 
dotted about on people's walls to hang pictures on, 
but how could one make music with them as Peter 
did with his yellow box, or Peter's friend with her 
great pear ? That was the puzzle. 




THEATRICAL COSTUME SHOP 

As the Carpenter's eye wandered round and round 
the counters, he discovered a lovely thing, a long 
thin blade with a lace edge, which, when struck, 
gave out a grave, concentrated note. 

Its clean shining surface fascinated the Carpenter, 
though he did not know what it was called. He made 
it ring again and again by tapping it with his ringers. 
6 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

All this time several shop assistants were watch- 
ing him, and giggling under their breath at his blue 
hat and the ends of his yellow trousers, which were 
all that showed under his big cloak. The Carpenter 
did not see them. Nothing influenced him except his 
dreams of butterflies, and now, with the prospect of 
a voyage before him, these delightful dreams grew 
and grew so that he saw the world filled with the 
radiant colours of butterflies' wings. 

The reason his hat was so high was because he 
had bought it at a theatrical costume shop in Long 
Acre. And it was blue because that was the colour 
of his favourite butterfly. And what better reason 
could you have ? 

As he did not stop tapping the lace-edged saw to 
make it sing, an assistant with a malicious eye came 
up and told him the price of it. 
" It is i6s. 6d." he said. 

So the Carpenter paid the money at the desk. 

THE FOLDING AEROPLANE. THE MEETING 
AT GREENWICH PIER. A COLLECT- 
ION OF INSECTS. THE FOLDING AERO- 
PLANE HAS TWO SEATS. MELINDA 
TAKES THE CARPENTER'S ARM 



1 



next day the Carpenter arrived at the pier 
and found nearly all the other travellers there, 
already, waiting to start. It was very early so 

that the departure of the Blue Boat should not be 

seen by too many people. 

7 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

They were all dressed in brightly coloured costumes 
as they had been when the Carpenter first met them, 
and he saw that each one of them carried an instru- 
ment, for they were all musicians. Bing was there, 
wearing a mask, with his castanets tucked into his 
belt. He pointed curiously at the saw, and asked : 
' Why, what have you got there ? " 
The Carpenter did not know what it was called, 
but he tapped the saw and made it sing. It sounded 
like a gong, clear and hard. 

Everyone looked at Peter and the Friend to see 
what they thought of it. But these two were busy 
measuring each other's hands. They had just come 
to the conclusion that the Friend had 
a shorter hand than Peter, and that 
he, curiously enough, had a longer 
hand than the Friend. They were 
funny futile people with bird-like 
brains. 

The Carpenter stood smiling and 
making his saw sound like a gong. 

' Quite so," said Flute, who was 
always very wise and solemn, "we can 
see what that is, but what about your 
boxes ? Do they contain provisions ? " 
' They contain the finest part of my collection," 
said the Carpenter, proudly. 

He opened the boxes and they all crowded round, 
exclaiming in admiration at the round heads and 
slender hairy legs and rainbow coloured wings of 
the Carpenter's splendid butterflies. 
8 




THE FRIEND HAD 
A SHORTER HAND 



vVEIRD ISLANDS 

" Carpenter," said Peter, [this name was given to 
him then], " what is that great box you have on your 




PETER 



back, which looks as though you were carrying one 
of the walls of your house about with you ? " 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Carpenter, quite surprised at the question, 
answered that it was his folding aeroplane, for he 
was an expert and original aviator. 




IT WAS HIS FOLDING AEROPLANE 

At this news the whole party danced for joy. They 
already possessed a Submarine, called the " Shark," 
and a dirigible called the " Lemon of Gold," but 
they had never dreamed of having an aeroplane as 
well. 

Even Flute, although he had acquired a great deal 
of philosophy while bending over his melancholy 
10 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

clarionet, looked excited. But the only sign he gave 
of his pleasure was to nod his head in the eighty- 
year-old way, though really he was only eighteen and 
had not even got a moustache ! 

The Friend advised Melinda, who carried a little 
drum and lyre in her hands, to make friends with the 
Carpenter, as she was so fond of clouds. But Melinda 
was a selfish girl, so she only said to him : 

' Is there room in your aeroplane for two people 
to sit in comfort ? ' 

" Yes, of course there is," replied the Carpenter, 
so kindly that Melinda smiled and slipped her hand 
under his arm, and thought to herself that he was 
almost as nice as one of his own butterflies. 

THE BLUE BOAT AT THE QUAY. THE BOAT- 
MAN TIES PLANKS ON HIS FEET. HE 
FALLS INTO THE WATER. EACH OF THE 
MUSICIANS PLAYS HIS FAVOURITE 
PIECE ALL TOGETHER. THE POLICE 
BOAT IS UPSET. THE MUSICIANS DO 
NOT HEAR THE SIGNALS. THEY THINK 
THE VOYAGE IS MAD AND DISORDERLY 

AT that moment the Boatman arrived in a great 
state of terror. He carried a lacquer box under 
his arm, and wore a leather helmet in case of 
rain. He had never been so near the water before, 
and had no idea that it would look so dangerous. 
But he smiled as bravely as he could and, sitting on 
a drum, which belonged to one of the travellers, he 

n 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

began to tie two large wide planks securely on to his 
feet. 

1 The sea," he observed, " has a bad habit of 
rocking. I shall feel much steadier like this, and if I 
fall in the planks will float." 




READ BOOKS ON PRACTICAL NAVIGATION 

This thought comforted him a little, and he ven- 
tured along the gangway to get into the boat. But 
the gangway must have been very slippery for 
quite suddenly he stumbled and fell into the 
river. The rest of the company rushed forward to 
12 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

rescue him, but nothing was to be seen except two 
shining planks on the surface of the water. How- 
ever, they fished him out at last with the aid of a large 
crochet hook. He was in a pitiable plight, but secretly 
he thought that the accident might serve him in good 
stead, if he could stay in bed for a while and read 
books on practical navigation. 

But, meanwhile the travellers were anxious to be 
off. They had settled themselves in their places on 
the boat. Peter sat on the bridge with Melinda and 
the Friend, the Drummer, the Carpenter, and Bing 
were on the deck, with Flute, who leaned against 
the mast to play his clarionet. Sun-and-Moon, who 
wore a dress covered with the sun, moon and stars, 
sat on the top of the funnel and played on the bag- 
pipes. 

The submarine, called the " Shark," was steered 
by its owner and captain, who was called Cod be- 
cause he was dressed in a fish costume. The dirigible, 
called the Lemon of Gold, which they had brought 
with them to float over their heads and rescue them 
in case of accident, had a crew of four men dressed 
in black and white uniforms, and a captain who 
never wore a hat so as to have his head clear for 
giving orders. Everyone was ready to start, and the 
musicians had begun to tune up their instruments. 

They forced the Boatman aboard, and made him 
hoist the sails. His attempt to do so was so grotesque 
that the few spectators who were out early enough 
to see were enchanted with pleasure at the sight. 
But really there was nothing to laugh about. The 

13 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

moment the Blue Boat lifted anchor a violent wind 
caught the sails and sent her speeding on an uncon- 
trolled and dangerous course towards the open sea. 
The Shark followed like a little fish following a big 
one, and the Lemon of Gold was tossed hither and 
thither by the wind. 

The musicians, who had not been able to persuade 
their conductor to accompany them, were all playing 
different tunes, and the mixture of music was alarm- 
ing. 

A crowd began to gather on the river bank ; most 
of the people were laughing, but some, more kind- 
hearted, were much concerned. The Blue Boat was 
evidently going to be wrecked, and people would be 
drowned. Some of them hurried away to telephone 
for the Police, and presently a band of policemen 
arrived in a motor boat. 

But the course of the Blue Boat was so extraordin- 
ary that it was dangerous to approach her. First she 
swerved to the right and then to the left, and then 
she stopped short and pirouetted round and round 
and round. The wind laughed wildly at the amusing 
game it was playing with this boat so nicely painted 
blue, and carrying such frivolous company. Very 
soon the Police-boat came too close, and bumped 
itself so violently against the Blue Boat that it was 
overturned, and all the policemen fell into the water. 
Their legs and arms could be seen waving and kick- 
ing, and then their heads, looking like little black 
dots bobbing up and down as they swam towards 
the shore. 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Blue Boat coursed onward through the water 
with the speed of an express train, and, as the sea 
came in sight, she went faster and faster. The music- 
ians were playing all the time, leaning forward with 




WAVING AND KICKING 

the boat as people do on horseback, heedless of the 
cries that reached them from all the boats they passed 
in their mad career. Sirens giving the alarm did not 
trouble them, nor yet the signals that were made to 
them, nor the flags that were hoisted to warn them. 
The people on other boats tried to attract their 
attention by wireless telegraphy. But what was wire- 
less telegraphy to a Blue Boat flying delightedly 
through the water at an unheard of speed ? 

But presently, as the sea began to stretch wider 
and wider before the eyes of the voyagers, it became 
gradually silent and deserted, until at last the Blue 
Boat was all alone in the midst of the sea, far away 
from land. 

" This is beautiful," said Bing, and stopped waving 
his castanets as he spoke. 

" How I love the sea ! " cried the Friend, shouting 

15 




BlNG 



16 



WEIRD'ISLANDS 

to make her voice heard above 
the noise of the wind and the 
music. 

1 It is a dream," sang Mel- 
inda, rattling on her little 
drum. 

1 No, it is a cavalry charge," 
shouted the Drummer, beat- 
ing his big drum. 

' It is the crescendo," said 
Peter, but his fly-like voice 
was lost in the wind. 

1 It is as rapid as Life it- 
self," said Flute in a sad, deep 
voice through the miserable 
strains of his favourite funeral 
march. 

" We have wings," cried the 
Carpenter, fingering his aero- 
plane. 

" We shall go all round the 
World, only rather too quick- 
ly," said Sun-and-Moon, who 
wrote poetry, and whose fav- 
ourite instrument was the bag- 
pipes. 

Everyone agreed with him 
that the course of the boat 
was too rapid ; they called to 
the Boatman to reduce the 
speed. 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

THE BLUE BOAT : THE BLUE BOAT STARTS 
WITH THE MUSICIANS AND THE BOAT- 
MAN ON BOARD. THE BOATMAN HIDES 
HIMSELF IN A BARREL OF ORANGES. 
FEARING A STORM, THEY CUT THE 
RIGGING AND THE SAILS BLOW AWAY. 
THE CARPENTER LEARNS THE NAME 
OF THE INSTRUMENT HE HAS BOUGHT 



I 



Boatman was sitting near the rudder 
looking extremely unhappy. He opened his 
lacquer box and examined the instruments it 

contained, with a puzzled 

expression. Then he took off 

his leather helmet, for he 

was hot with perplexity, and 

his forehead was covered with 

big drops of perspiration. 

There were big drops on his 

cheeks as well, for he was 

crying with pity for the 

people who had embarked 

on the Blue Boat, and most 

of all for himself. 

rni_ /r LACQUER Box 

I he musicians on the 

Bridge had stopped playing at last. There was no 
more sound from the flutes or the violins, or even so 
much as a whisper from the bag-pipes. But the wind 
and waves grew louder and louder as they tossed and 
buffeted the Blue Boat and the submarine and the 
dirigible called the Lemon of Gold. 

c 17 




WEIRD ISLANDS 




1 8 



THE AEROPLANE, THE SUBMARINE, 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE BLUE BOAT AMD THE AIRSHIP. 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Boatman 's face was sadder than a sparrow's 
in a shower as he shut the red lacquer box and said : 




THE BLUE BOAT 

' It seems to me that there is going to be a storm. 
Look at those clouds like big black buffaloes ! " 

' I suppose we shall be wrecked," said the Car- 
penter, prudently slipping his big saw into the right 
hand pocket of his yellow trousers. 

20 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" Without a doubt," agreed the Drummer, cover- 
ing up his drum with a large shawl. 

" Without any doubt at all, at all," sighed Peter 
in his little thin voice, thinner than the voice of a fly, 
and he began to wrap up his violin in his sweater. 

All four were as properly depressed as respectable 
people should be when they are waiting for a storm 
to come and wreck them. 

But the Boatman was not only depressed, he was 
dreadfully scared, and he had had sufficient experi- 
ence to know that when 
people are really scared 
the best thing for them 
to do is to hide. So, 
without saying a word, 
he went and hid himself 
very carefully in a barrel 
of oranges at the bottom 
of the boat. He emptied 
out the oranges and 
crept inside. Then, feel- 
ing greatly reassured, he 
smoked a cigarette, and 
soon afterwards fell into 
a peaceful sleep. 

Melinda, Bing, Flute, 
the Friend, and Sun- 
and-Moon followed his 
example. They hid them- 
selves. 

There were now only THE BOATMAN 

21 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

three people left on the Bridge : the Carpenter, the 
Drummer, and Peter. They were too proud to hide, 
but their noses grew longer, which was a sign of 
their uneasiness. Peter, whose nose was quite short 
in the ordinary way, took it between his finger and 
thumb and pulled it longer still in his confusion. 

* We must anchor the boat," said the Carpenter, 
who had some common sense, though perhaps not 
very much. So they lifted up the Blue Boat's anchor 
and threw it with all their might into the green sea. 
The boat stopped moving, but the sails flapped and 
the mast creaked. 

1 The sails will have to be lowered," said the 
Carpenter ; the others stared at him in surprise and 
admiration at his cleverness. " And perhaps the 
mast will have to be cut down as well," he added. 
Peter and the Drummer were speechless with ad- 
miration. 

The knots in the ropes that held up the sails were 
a recent extraordinary invention of the Boatman's, 
and no one could unfasten them. So the three took 
their knives and ran hither and thither among the 
ropes, cutting the knots one after the other until the 
largest sail was cut adrift and flew up into the air like 
a great white gull. 

The " Shark " also was in great danger. 

The wind blew in violent gusts, sometimes stop- 
ping for a few seconds, only to start again more vio- 
lently than ever. There was still a tiny sail at the 
very top of the mast, and when the wind beat against 
it the boat leaned right over the turbulent water, so 
22 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

that the three voyagers had to cling tightly to the 
brass rings fastened to the deck to prevent them- 
selves from falling overboard. 




SHARK " 



Then there came a memorable scene. As no one was 
brave enough to climb the mast and release the unfor- 
tunate little sail, it was decided to cut the mast down. 

" Give me your saw," said the Drummer to the 
Carpenter. 

" My what ? " said the Carpenter, who did not 
understand. 

" Your saw ! Give it me quick to cut down the 
mast," said Peter, pulling it out of the Carpenter's 
pocket. Although he was pleased to know the name 
of his beautiful new instrument, the Carpenter pro- 
tested angrily, thinking that they meant to do it 
some harm. 

" My saw ! No, you shan't have it," he cried in 
great anxiety. But the others took no notice of him 
and began to saw through the mast. 

The Carpenter stamped with despair. 

23 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE CARPENTER 

" Oh, my saw, my beautiful saw ! " he cried with 
tears in his eyes, " they are spoiling my beautiful saw ! " 

When the mast was cut right through it flew away 
with the little sail, not like a sea-gull but like an 
immense white dragon-fly. 

24 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

ENGINE TROUBLE. THE AEROPLANE RISES 
FROM THE BRIDGE OF THE BLUE 
BOAT. THE FAREWELLS. FLUTE LOOKS 
AT THE REFLECTION OF THE AERO- 
PLANE IN HIS LITTLE MIRROR. THE 
CARPENTER'S SAW HANGS FROM THE 
AEROPLANE. THE SUBMARINE IS 
UNABLE TO CLOSE 

WHILE they were watching the mast flying 
away with the little sail, Bing came running 
up to say that the Lemon of Gold had 
disappeared. It must have got into difficulties with 
the wind and been swept away, perhaps wrecked. 

" Now there is no one to rescue us and we shall be 
drowned," said Flute dolefully. But none of the 
others were really troubled. 

" I expect they have gone off to have some adven- 
tures on their own," said Peter placidly. 

" I'm sorry they've gone though," said Flute 
dreamily. " It was nice to watch the Lemon of Gold 
winding its way in and out of the clouds." 

So there was the adventurous Blue Boat stranded 
in the middle of the stormy sea, without mast or sails 
or even a captain to steer it, and only Cod's sub- 
marine left to keep it company. 

" We ought to have brought a motor boat in case 
of emergencies, as I suggested," complained Flute. 

" Motor boats smell horrid, and besides they are 
not romantic," said Peter. 

" That doesn't matter so long as they are useful," 

25 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

said Flute. But Peter took no notice. He only lifted 
his black eyebrows and bunched up his mouth into 
a round O, as he caressed it with the bow of his violin. 




MELINDA 



The Friend began to part his thick hair with an 
ivory comb which she took out of her leather case. 
26 



" Flute is quite right," pouted Melinda. " A motor 
boat would have saved us from the danger we are 
in." 

" We might make one," suggested the Drummer, 
twisting his moustaches into corkscrews as he spoke. 
" We could take the motor from the Carpenter's 
aeroplane." 

" Never ! " said the Carpenter. His saw was safe 
back in his pocket, but he was quite determined that 
no one should be allowed to borrow any of his pos- 
sessions again. 

They began to feel hungry, and as they could 
never think of more than one thing at a time, they 
forgot their danger and brought out some pepper- 
mints and chocolate biscuits for lunch. 
They regretted that the Lemon of 
Gold should have disappeared just 
when it was so lovely to watch, wind- 
ing its way among the clouds. And 
indeed the dirigible had vanished with 
its elegant crew of four men in black 
and white uniforms, and its Captain, 
hatless, so as to have his head freer 
for giving orders. But the Lemon of 
Gold was to be seen again, and later 
you will read the authentic account 
of its reappearance. The look of the 
bridge cleared of all incumbrances 
gave Melinda a wonderful idea : " Dear 
Carpenter, " she said, " do let us go on a 
scouting expedition in your aeroplane 




ITS CAPTAIN, 
HATLESS 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

and see if we can discover land or some other boat 
to rescue us. The deck is clear enough to fly off 
from." 

" There 's no need of that," said the Carpenter 
proudly. "My aeroplane can rise from anything, 
a narrow roof, a mantelpiece, or even the point 
of a needle, if it could hold itself there a single in- 
stant." He brought the aeroplane out of its box and 
unfolded it. Fortunately the writer of this book 
possesses a drawing of the aeroplane, so there is no 
need to describe it in detail. It is only necessary to 
tell you that the pair of wings that you see at the sides 
of the little boat turn on their own axle, and when 
the pilot sets these wings in motion the machine 
mounts perpendicularly like a balloon or a lift. 

The travellers were lost in admiration. The aero- 
plane was painted with the colours of butterflies 
wings, and its shape was that of a lovely insect. 

"It is alive ! " said Bing, drawing back a little. 
The machine began to vibrate as though it was 
humming a tune to itself. Several of the travellers 
withdrew into their cabins with anxious expressions. 
But Melinda was not in the least frightened. 

"It is lovely ! " she said. " Dear Carpenter, let 
us go at once." As she spoke she climbed into the 
second seat of the aeroplane, and began to play softly 
on her silver-stringed lyre. 

Seeing that the aeroplane was quite harmless, 
everyone came on deck again, and Cod, watching 
from his Submarine, wished that he had brought an 
aeroplane instead. 
28 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Carpenter would not leave without his collect- 
ion of butterflies and his saw, which he fastened to 




COD 

his belt by a cord so that he would know at once if 
anyone tried to steal it. Melinda took with her her 

29 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

lyre, her little drum, and a looking-glass, for she 
was extremely vain. 

Everyone helped to load the aeroplane with pro- 
visions : two boxes of chocolate biscuits, two buns, 
a few shrimps, a tomato, and some cherries, two 
bottles of fresh water, and one of cider. Then the 
Carpenter made the wings of the aeroplane turn 
with terrific rapidity, and, after a touching farewell, 
allowed it to rise up into the air like a pretty basket 
of flowers being drawn up to Heaven by a string. 

Sun-and-Moon recited a poem of farewell, and 
Bing stood bowing stiffly like a marionette, the 
Drummer beat out a doleful song on his drum, the 
Friend waved her pocket handkerchief, while Peter 
shouted encouragement to the voyagers, though his 
voice was much too tiny to carry so far. 

Flute stood apart and predicted disaster. At the 
same time he pretended to be quite indifferent ; so 

he stood with his back to the 
rest as though he was not 
watching the flight of the aero- 
plane. But as a matter of fact 
he could see all that was 
happening behind him, by look- 
ing in a hand glass which he 
wore on a cord hung round his 
neck. He always used this glass 
when he was very curious, and 
wanted to pretend that he did 
not care for anything except 
LOOKING IN A HAND GLASS philosophy. 

30 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

When the machine was fairly high up in the 
air the front propeller began to turn, and the 
aeroplane set off in an oblique line. Then the 
side wings stopped turning. The course became 
horizontal, and the aeroplane 
began to circle round the 
boat in circles that grew 
larger and larger. 

" What is that bright spot 
that follows the aeroplane 
wherever it goes ? ' the 
Friend asked Peter. But Peter 
was feeling rather upset by 
the wind, so he only said, 
without looking : 

" I see nothing." 

The Friend made a face at 
him and asked the Drummer, 
who said : 

" It is the Carpenter's saw 
shining against the black 
clouds." 

"It is a good thing it is 
tied to a cord or it would be 
lost," said Flute, shaking his 
head wisely. 

" Perhaps he will think one 
of us has stolen it from him," 
said Peter remorsefully. 

" Oh, no, he will feel it 
hanging from his pocket," DRUMMER 

3 1 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

said the Friend consolingly, kissing him on the tip 
of his nose. 

The aeroplane was gradually disappearing from 
view. Even Cod, who had been following its flight in 
his submarine, had to return at last to the Blue Boat. 
He did not dare to go very far away, because he had 
no provisions except a box of preserved fruit, which 

he was unable to open. 

He had no initiative, but 
he floated very prettily on 
the water in his submarine, 
though he could not make it 
dive as he had forgotten to 
bring the cover that kept the 
water out. 

And now, reader, I am 
puzzled to know what to tell 
you next. The Lemon of 
Gold is lost and wandering 
somewhere in the sky, the 
Blue Boat is stranded in an 
unknown part of the ocean, 
Melinda and the Carpenter 
have just disappeared in an 
aeroplane. I know the story 
of all their separate adven- 

THE LEMON OF GOLD tures, but which am I to tell 

you first ? 

I think perhaps it had better be the story of what 
Melinda and the Carpenter discovered. 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

THE CARPENTER AND MELINDA. WHAT 
THE CARPENTER AND MELINDA 
SAW. THEY SEE A LITTLE GREEN 
ISLAND. MELINDA COAXES THE 
CARPENTER BY THE PROMISE OF 
MARVELLOUS INSECTS. BUT PERHAPS 
THERE ARE SAVAGE BEASTS. THE 
CARPENTER FISHES UP A COCK OF 
GILDED WOOD WITH HIS SAW. THEY 
DISCOVER A FIRE ON THE SEA. THE 
COCK FALLS INTO THE SEA OR ON AN 
ISLAND. MELINDA AND THE CARPEN- 
TER SULK. THE AEROPLANE LANDS 
ON SOME PALM TREES IN A PERFUMED 
ISLAND. THE SINGING BIRDS 

"M BELINDA was delighted when the Blue Boat 
\ /I disappeared from view, and they were alone 



in the vast sky. 

" This is a real voyage," she said. 

" No," said the Carpenter in the serious tones of 
a real explorer, " this is a scouting expedition, noth- 
ing more." 

" But we have provisions on board," said Melinda ; 
" the Blue Boat is at anchor and cannot move away. 
Why should it only be a scouting expedition ? ' 

" Because if we are away too long our friends on 
the Blue Boat may get hungry and thirsty. Then we 
should be conscience-stricken." 

" They have cakes and chocolates and plenty of 
mixed sweets." The Carpenter took off his hat, 

D 33 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

folded it up, and sat upon it. Bareheaded he looked 
even more honest and sincere than usual, and when 
he said " I promise you a real voyage later on," 
Melinda knew that he would keep his promise. 




" THIS is A REAL VOYAGE " 

" Oh, very well," she said, " but you might at least 
slow down so that we can see the surrounding coun- 
try." The Carpenter looked at her with a frightened 
expression, thinking that she must have gone sud- 
denly crazy, and wondering if her's was a dangerous 
case or simply sad. 

1 There is no surrounding country," he said gently. 
" We are in the midst of a sea appallingly desolate." 

34 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

Melinda put her hand on his shoulder and 
pointed downwards. 

" Look there ! " she said. 

The Carpenter looked down, and saw in 
the middle of the desolate ocean a round 
green spot no bigger than a grain of dust 
in a sunbeam. 

" That must be a wonderful place, 
judging by its shape," she said, searching 
her mind for arguments to persuade the 
Carpenter to descend. But the Carpenter 
wanted to go back at once to the Blue 
Boat to tell their friends what he and 
Melinda had discovered. By straining their 
eyes they could see several more round green spots 
not far from the first. They evidently formed a 
group of islands. 

" Dear Carpenter, let us go down a little closer, 
so that we can see what sort of islands they are," 
pleaded Melinda. The Carpenter consented to de- 
scend a little, and Melinda grew more and more 
excited. 

" Oh, look ! " she cried, " I am sure I can see tall 
trees. They are really marvellous islands." 

" We will guide the Blue Boat this way," replied 
the Carpenter, beginning to turn the 
aeroplane. " I only hope we shall be 
able to find it again safely." 

" Some of the trees are as yellow 
as gold, and some are as green as 
apples ! ' " LOOK THERE 1 " 

35 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

We will visit them with our friends," said the 

Carpenter, and turned 
the aeroplane com- 
pletely round. 

" No doubt they are 
swarming with insects." 

The front propeller 
of the aeroplane stopped 
abruptly. 

" There are sure to be 
rare and beautiful but- 
terflies." 

The aeroplane turned 
right round again and 
descended with the 
downward flight of a 
swan. Melinda smiled 
to herself at her victory. 

The islands grew 
larger every minute. 
The largest was circular 
in shape and the coast 
line was girdled with 
palm trees growing to- 
gether so thickly that 
their branches inter- 
laced and made a green 
covering which hid 
whatever might have 
been living on the 
INSECTS earth below. 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

" Oh, yes," repeated Melinda, " there are certain^ 
to be lovely insects." And then she added as another 
thought occurred to her, " and perhaps wild beasts 
and fierce men as well ! ' 

The Carpenter turned sharply 
in his seat with a startled face. 
He had never for a moment 
supposed that there might be 
wild beasts or fierce men on the 
islands they were about to visit. 
He was so upset at the sudden 
thought that he would have to 
protect Melinda from all these 
dangers that he left the aeroplane 
to take care of itself, and it took 
a wild plunge towards the earth 
without his being aware of it, 
shaving in its flight a tall steeple 
which had a golden cock on the 
top of it. The Carpenter's saw, 
which all this time had been 
hanging below the aeroplane, 
struck against the steeple and 
fixed itself into the cock like a 
knife in a loaf of bread. The aeroplane rebounded 
so violently at the shock that it rose into the air 
again at a giddy speed, and the cock was torn 
away from the steeple and remained hanging on the 
saw. It was made of gilded wood and very heavy, so 
that it pulled at the cord attached to the Carpenter's 
belt. He discovered his miraculous catch and showed 

37 




LOVELY INSECTS 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

it to Melinda, and they were both 
so exultant that they forgot their 
fright at the erratic behaviour of 
the aeroplane. The Carpenter be- 
gan to pull the cord up very care- 
fully in case the cock should fall 
off. But at this critical moment in 
his life, as he was about to draw a 
golden cock out of the air like a 
fish, Melinda interrupted him by 
pulling at his arm and directing 
his attention towards a red and 
purple flame that was glowing 
brightly out at sea. The Carpenter 
looked at it in astonishment, and 
Melinda could see a reflection of 
the flame in each of his round 
eyes, in each eye a little picture of 
a fire. 

" What can that fire be and 
where is it burning ? " she said. 

" I do not know what sea this 
is, so I cannot tell you what land it can be where 
that fire is burning/' replied the Carpenter. 

* But perhaps it isn't a fire, perhaps it is a con- 
flagration." 

1 That's it perhaps," said the Carpenter. 
" Or it may be it is not on land at all, it might be 
a boat burning, or it might even be a volcano in 
eruption ! " said Melinda in a frightened voice. 
" Or it might be just a gentleman burning some 

38 




His MIRACULOUS CATCH 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

old letters, 
or a baker 
opening 
his oven," 
said the Carpenter, trying to chase the 
troubling idea of a'conflagration, or still 
worse, of a red and purple volcano, 
from Melinda's mind. But Melinda did 
not like being treated as if she was a 
baby and likely to be frightened of giants 
and wild beasts or volcanos or fires, or 
anything else for the matter of that. 

"Or perhaps it is only a useless col- 
lection of insects being burned," she 
said to revenge herself. 

The Carpenter stopped looking at 
the fire, and turned round to make sure 
that his collection was still safe. And 
then he remembered his wonderful new 
catch. But alas, there was nothing now 
at the end of the cord. The cock had 
fallen off, either into the sea or into the 
larger of the two islands over which the 
aeroplane was now hovering. 

The Carpenter grew pink with vexa- 
tion. He would have cried, 
but he knew that Melinda was 
such a tease she would never 
stop laughing at him. 

Melinda herself was sulk- 



VOLCANO IN ERUPTION 39 





PINK WITH VEXATION 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Carpenter decided to sulk, 
too, for at least as long as she 
did. So for the next five minutes 
they sulked, looking at each other 
every few seconds to see if a smile 
were possible. But both their 
faces remained grave, and five 
minutes seemed a very much 
longer time than usual. They 
were both perplexed ; they wanted 
to stop sulking, but they were 
too proud. Meanwhile the aero- 
plane, left to itself, drifted gently 
over one of the islands until it 

reposed delicately on the tops of the palm trees. 
It was like a dream to sit on the topmost branches 

of a forest, where the green branches stretched away 

on either side as far as the eye could see, and hundreds 

of hidden birds were singing at the close of day. 

It was now dusk, and the sky, where it touched the 

sea, was swept with pale colours, rose and green, 

primrose and violet. Melinda 

leant to vards the Carpenter, 

and they kissed each other and 

forgot their sulking. 

The air was filled with the 

scent of flowers and vanilla 

trees. Melinda and the Car- 
penter felt as though they were 

in Paradise. The sweet voices 

t)f the birds gave them a feeling 

40 




MELINDA HERSELF WAS 
SULKING 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

of safety, nevertheless they spoke 
in low voices, partly for fear that 
there might be less kindly crea- 
tures hidden beneath the trees, but 
still more because everything was so 
beautiful that they did not want to 
talk loudly. The sky was now a deep 
violet and night was falling fast. 

" We cannot venture under the 
trees before day," said Melinda. 
' There are sometimes serpents under 
trees on islands." 

They both shuddered. 

" There will be plenty of time to-morrow. We 
had better dine now," said the Carpenter. 

So they had supper. It was a charming meal, small, 
dainty, and varied. They drank cider to make them 
sleep. For cider is a very strong drink. But there 
are few people so unpoetic as to be able to sleep on 
a bed of tree tops, when the birds that have sung all 
day give place to the birds of night, still more lovely 
and mysterious. 






SINGING 




SERPENTS 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

THE CONCERT : A MUSIC LESSON. A 
WORLD OF BIRDS. THE BIG PELICAN 
AND THE PEACOCK. THE BIRDS WITH- 
OUT HATS OR ARMS. 

SO as they did not want to sleep, Melinda gave 
the Carpenter his first music lesson, and he 
accompanied the pieces she played on her lyre 
by taps on his saw. The silver strings of the lyre 
trembled under Melinda 's fingers like roses when a 
warm breeze is passing, and every now and then the 
Carpenter struck his saw like a gong. 

Suddenly the foliage of the palm tree stirred as 
though a wind had swept it, and the branches bent 
under the weight of thousands of splendid birds, 
who had stopped their own singing and come to 
listen to the music of the lyre and gong. 

More birds came every minute. They rose to the 
tree tops like bubbles rising to the surface of the 
water, until it was no longer a forest of palm trees 
but a forest of birds, a thousand shapes and colours. 
Every beak was turned towards the musicians as they 
listened, and their delight knew no bounds. 

Melinda and the Carpenter were somewhat dis- 
tracted by their radiant audience. They went on 
playing, however, and tried to remember as they 
played what was the correct behaviour for a young 
lady and gentleman sitting in an aeroplane on the 
crest of a forest and suddenly surrounded by birds 
come to listen to their music. 

They need not have troubled themselves for there 

42 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

was no ceremony. As soon as the concert was over 
the birds disappeared very quickly, as though fear- 
ing to be questioned. But, of course, they did not go 




His FIRST Music LESSON 

until they had applauded the music, with their beaks 
as they had no hands. Their applause sounded like 
thousands of hailstones falling on a glass roof. Then 
they vanished, and the murmur of the sea was the 
only sound that could be heard. 

43 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

At last Melinda said in a 
low voice : " This must be 
the Island of Birds." 

' And it seems as though 
there are only birds living 
here," said the Carpenter 
in a tone of relief. " Birds," 
he added, " are well known 
to naturalists as perfectly 
harmless creatures." 

" I should like their opin- 
ion on my music," said 
Melinda dreamily. The Car- 
penter could not help 
thinking that it had been 
partly his music, but he 

remembered how depressing it had been to sulk and 

decided to be amiable. 

* Shall I ask that big Pelican, whose head was 
almost human. He was extremely enthusiastic by 
the look of him," he suggested gently. 

1 The peacock looked more intelligent," said 
Melinda. 

* But surely peacocks are not very musical ? ' 

" Oh, Carpenter, you did not see how he admired 
me ! " said Melinda. 

" I will question the peacock," said the Carpenter, 
4 and ask him if he does not think you are the prettiest 
of all the pretty girls in the world." 

' But suppose he has never seen any other girls ? ' 
said Melinda a little anxiously. 

44 



THEY APPLAUDED THE Music 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" He will say you are as beautiful as a peacock, 
said the Carpenter. 




BIG PELICAN, WHOSE HEAD WAS ALMOST HUMAN 

Melinda looked at him attentively, but the Car- 
penter turned his face away so that it was hidden by 
the shadow of the leaves. 

" But how do you know that the birds can speak at 
all ? " she said, fearing that perhaps she would never 
know the peacock's opinion. 

45 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Carpenter came near to her and whispered : 
' Quite close to me just now I saw a bird with 

great round eyes and a crest say to another with a 

long neck. * She is 
like Tuta.' He said 
nothing more and 
his tone was indiff- 
erent, and the other 
replied in the same 
uninterested voice : 
1 He is like Tuty.' " 
' There's no 
doubt they can 
speak then," said 
Melinda. " So you 
can ask the peacock 
whether he admires 
me. But it's a pity 
they have no 
hands." 

" That's quite 
natural," said the 
Carpenter. 

1 I dare say, but 

how can they say, ' how do you do ? ' if they can't 

shake hands," said Melinda, defying the Carpenter 

to answer the question. 

' They have no hats," replied the Carpenter 
simply. 




ANOTHER WITH A LONG NECK 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

ZOOLOGY OF THE PARROT : THE PARROT 
FIEND GETS ANGRY. HE PROVES THAT 
HE IS NOT A BIRD. HE DIVIDES ALL 
LIVING BEINGS INTO TWO CLASSES. 
THEY HEAR ABOUT TUTY AND TUTA. 

""W" "W" T*ELL, anyway, we are going to make the 

%/%/ acquaintance of birds who can talk," said 
T T Melinda. " But why have they all gone 
away ? " Suddenly close beside her she heard a very 
unamiable laugh. Then a voice said : 

" You won't hear them talk, vain young woman ; 
they will not come near you." It was not a loud 
voice, but it was very hard and arrogant. It reminded 
the Carpenter of the harsh noise the saw had made 
when it cut off the mast of the Blue Boat. He was 
nearly as frightened as Melinda, and they held hands 
tight to reassure each other. 

" I expect it is only a tiny animal," said the Car- 
penter under his breath. 

"It is you who are the animal," said the voice 
angrily. They held their breath and did not stir. The 
moon rose above the tree tops at that moment, 
touching the leaves with silver, and lighting up the 
pictures of butterflies on the aeroplane. 

" So these animals like insects," said the saw-like 
voice again. The Carpenter's hand held Melinda's 
a little tighter. They neither of them said a word, 
but they were both thinking: " Perhaps it is a ser- 
pent," and their hearts beat loudly. 

But presently, as the moonlight grew stronger, 

47 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

they saw that it was not a serpent but a parrot with 
black and white feathers and two little black horns. 
He looked less frightening than his voice, but his 
wicked little black eyes were full of malice. 

" I came to give you some 
advice," said the Parrot 
Fiend, for it was he. 

"Why, Melinda, he 
speaks quite well." 

" Well, you can speak, 
can't you," said the Parrot 
Fiend, "You speak a good 
deal too loud. Speak lower. 
That's my first advice to 
you." 

" I am afraid you are 
not a truthful bird." said 
Melinda mockingly. " You 
said that I should not hear 

birds speak, and you are speaking to us yourself." 
Her fears had left her when she saw that the parrot 
was quite small, and she was too frivolous to see that 
this was a serious situation. " You're a nice fraud to 
come giving people advice ! ' 

" Sir ! " said the Parrot, with surprising and dig- 
nified politeness, " will you please beg this lady not 
to insult me." 

Melinda burst out laughing, and the Carpenter, 
very much embarrassed, began to fidget with his hat, 
first taking it off and then putting it on and then 
taking it off again and rolling it about in his hands. 




THE PARROT FIEND 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Parrot Fiend did not wait for him to say any- 
thing, but went on. 

" In the first place I am not an ordinary Parrot, 
and in the second, no one in his senses would con- 
fuse parrots with birds. Birds are animals like horses, 
monkeys, tortoises and 
men." 

" Then where do you 
class the insects ? " said 
Melinda, much amused 
at the Parrot's grating 
voice, which, as he grew 
more and more angry, 
became as shrill as the 
high notes of an organ. 
" Do you count them as 
animals or as parrots ? " 

"As animals, " replied 
the Parrot Fiend more 
politely, for he liked the serious turn the conver- 
sation seemed to be taking. 

" For my part," said the Carpenter, " I don't 
agree with you at all." 

" You must classify infallibly," began the Parrot, 
but Melinda interrupted him. " What does that 
mean ? " she asked. 

" It means that you must classify as I do of course." 
said the Parrot irritably. " There is only one really 
reliable, natural and scientific way," he went on. 
'* Creatures must be divided into two groups, the 
superior, that is to say parrots, who eat pure grain, 

E 49 




ALL KINDS OF JUMBLES 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

uncrushed with all the aroma of creation in it, and 
the inferior, composed of animals who eat all sorts 
of food that has been ground, handled and mixed, 
with every artificial device, like the cakes made by 




TUTA AND TUTY WERE WRECKED ON THE ISLAND 



Tuta and the bread made by Tuty, all kinds of 
jumbles, such as puddings, blancmange, jam and 
clarified honey." 

]" But the lovely insects nourish themselves on 
flowers," said the Carpenter. 

" The inferior or animal class," continued the 
Parrot severely, " is divided again into two, Large 

50 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

and Small. It is quite unnecessary to trouble about 
the smaller kind, they are so soon eaten up them- 
selves by the birds and other animals. And that is 
exactly what I am complaining about ! J shouted 
the Parrot Fiend, suddenly forgetting his zoological 
discourse. " Since those two animals, Tuta and Tuty 
were wrecked on the Island. . . . 3 

" What sort of animals, large or small ? " inter- 
rupted Melinda eagerly. 

" Large, like you," said the Parrot Fiend, and 
went on. " Since they have come here everything 
has gone wrong. They make all kinds of dishes of 
sugar and flour for the birds, who have grown so 
lazy that they won't give themselves the trouble to 
catch insects. The Round Island. ..." 

1 The Round Island," whispered the Carpenter to 
Melinda. " Make a note of that." 



THE PARROT'S ADVICE. THE ROUND 
ISLAND OR THE ISLAND OF THE CUBIC 
BIRDS. THE CRUEL BALIGOORS AND 
COOMASIS. THE CARPENTER AND 
MELINDA LEARN OF THE EXISTENCE 
OF THE BLACK CAVALIER. THE 
MAGIC DIAMOND. 



"^T^HE Round Island," continued the Parrot, 

glaring at the interruption, is full of noisy 

JL and voracious insects. Every day, owing to 

the indolence of the birds, there are more of them. 

In the afternoon, just when the Parrots want to sleep, 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

they wake up and dance in the heat of the sun, making 
such an insupportable din that sleep becomes im- 
possible. At all other times of the day the birds 
gossip so loudly that I am obliged to take my family 
away to a secret cave to be able to speak of serious 
things at all. In the forest one cannot hear himself 
speak." 

" So you don't like the birds ? " said Melinda. 
" They prevent me from sleeping," said the Parrot. 
, " And you don't like the insects," 
said the Carpenter. 

" They prevent me from sleeping," 
said the Parrot, while two little flames 
of anger shone at the end of his horns. 
" Then why do you stay on this 
island ? ' 

" It's my island," said the Parrot 
crossly. " The others are only in- 
truders." 

" You might emigrate to the other 
island that I have seen quite close to 
this one." 

The Parrot sidled away along the 
branch and appeared terrified. 

" The Island of the Baligoors and 
Coomasis ! " he gasped. 

" What sort of island is that ? " asked Melinda and 
the Carpenter, both together. 

" The Island of the Baligoors and the Coomasis!" 
repeated the Parrot, forgetting all his arrogance in 
his terror. " The Baligoors and Coomasis strangle, 

52 




TWO LITTLE 
FLAMES OF ANGER 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



7 




To THROW STONES AT THEM 



53 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




K 




THE ARROWS RETURN TO THEIR 



54 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




OWNERS WITH THEIR PREY 



55 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

hang, and behead everything that is not Baligoor or 
Coomasi ! ' 

1 Do they ever come over here ? " inquired the 
Carpenter in some alarm. 

4 Oh, no, they cannot fly," said the Parrot with 
more confidence. 

' But have they no boats ? " said the Carpenter, 
feeling far from reassured, and beginning to examine 
the propeller of his aeroplane. 

The Parrot ignored the mention of boats, as he did 
not know what they were. 

' But mightn't they swim across to this island ? ' 
persisted the Carpenter. 

' Their paws are too short," returned the Parrot 
quite gaily. " Sometimes," he went on, " the birds 
fly over their island to throw stones at them, ruby 
stones, emerald stones, little gold nuggets and other 
dust. But they take care to fly very high because the 
Baligoors have murderous bows and arrows, and the 
arrows return to their owners with their prey if they 
so much as touch it, and even if they miss return 
just the same so that they can be used again next 
time." 

' Alas, poor Parrot ! " said Melinda, quite touched. 
1 Then you are condemned to live here always." 

" Oh, yes," said the Parrot, " but I should not 
mind if only someone would take away Tuta and 
Tuty, who prevent the birds from doing their duty 
and catching the insects. Perhaps that machine of 
yours might carry four persons ? " he added, with a 
sly look. 

56 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" Is that the advice you came to give us, charm- 
ing Parrot ? " asked the Carpenter. 

"No, that was just a little counsel by the way," 
said the Parrot. I came to warn you of the Black 
Cavalier, who haunts this island. The birds think 
that it was sent by the Golden God 
that they worship, but personally 
I think it must be something to 
do with those Baligoors." Here the 
Parrot scowled. " Anyhow, it is 
very dangerous, and will probably 
attack you suddenly, and attempt 
to kill you. In any case it won't 
allow you to take away Tuta and 
Tuty, or even see them if it can 
help it." 

'" Can it hear us now, do you 
think ? " asked Melinda in a fright- 
ened whisper. 

" Possibly," replied the Parrot, 
" but it wouldn't be able to under- 
stand you if it did." 

"Is it big? "asked Melinda again. 
' I don't know." 

" Then you have never seen it ? " 
said the Carpenter. 

" No," said the Parrot humbly," 
because when it begins to purr all 
the birds, and even the parrots, 
hide themselves and shut their 
eyes." SHUT THEIR EYES 

57 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

* It purrs, then ? " said the Carpenter. 

" Oh, yes, indeed, louder even than that insect of 
yours," said the Parrot, pointing to the aeroplane. 

It was nearly dawn. The moon had vanished and 
faint streaks of light were appearing in the east. 

" I must be going," said the Parrot Fiend, condes- 
cendingly. " Your conversation has been more or less 
interesting, and I have quite enjoyed our little chat. I 
shall be grateful if you will remove Tuta and Tuty, 
and in return I will give you this magic diamond. 
You can discover its uses for yourselves. Farewell, 
and beware of the Black Cavalier!" So saying, the 
Parrot Fiend disappeared among the leaves. 

THE BLACK CAVALIER: MELINDA AND 
THE CARPENTER EXPLORE THE 
ISLAND. THE CARPENTER DISCOVERS 
AN INSECT. MELINDA PLUCKS SOME 
FRUIT, BUT IS PREVENTED BY THE 
BIRDS. THE CARPENTER WISHES TO 
SAW OFF THE HORSE'S HOOFS. HE 
DECIDES TO ATTACK THE BLACK 
CAVALIER BY AIR. 

IT was day. The sea was lightly veiled in rose 
and golden mists. The dew made the leaves of 
the palm tree look as though they were made of 
silver. The dew had silvered the aeroplane as well, 
and the Carpenter wiped it with a large silk hand- 
kerchief, and then folded it up and put it back into 
its box so that no harm should come to it while they 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

explored the island. Melinda had climbed into the 
centre of the tree while he was doing this, and was 
startled by a sudden cry. She turned round to see 
what was the matter, and saw the Carpenter stand- 
ing on a branch just above her, holding in his hand a 
small box at which he was staring in speechless 
amazement. 

" What have you found ? " asked Melinda curiously . 

" I haven't found anything," gasped the Car- 
penter, " but I don't know what has happened to 
my aeroplane ! " He held up the funny little box as 
he spoke. " This is all there is left ! " His voice was 
so full of tears that he could hardly speak. " I just 
touched it by accident with that diamond the Parrot 
gave us, and it shrank and shrank and shrank and 
now we shall never be able to get away from this 
island, for who could sit in an aeroplane that size, 
much less make it fly ? ' 

They both burst into tears of despair. 

" Oh, that horrible Parrot," sobbed Melinda ; " I 
knew he meant us some harm." In her rage she picked 
up the diamond meaning to throw it far away into 
the depths of the forest, but it somehow slipped out 
of her hand and fell on to the tiny box which the 
Carpenter had laid on one of the leaves of the palm 
tree. Instantly the box began to grow. It grew and 
grew and grew, until it was exactly the same size as 
it had been before, and then it stopped. Melinda and 
the Carpenter stared at one another with round eyes. 

" I'm sorry I said the Parrot Fiend was horrible," 
said Melinda remorsefully. 

59 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

' He has given us a wonderful present," said the 
Carpenter. " Now I need never carry my aeroplane 
about on my back. I can always make it small enough 
to put in my pocket." He made the aeroplane small 
again as he spoke, and slipped it into his pocket. 




INTO THE FOREST BELOW 

" Let me carry the diamond," said Melinda. " I'll 
take great care of it." So the Carpenter handed her 
the diamond, and they packed up the rest of their 
belongings and clambered down the tree trunk into 
the forest below. It was like coming into a wide 
60 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

green palace. The tree trunks were shining green and 
yellow pillars. One or two birds were walking to and 
fro, taking an early morning stroll. The travellers 
kept themselves well hidden, and looked about them 
with interest. 

The birds were mostly cubic in shape, though 
some were rounder than others. Their feet were like 
forks, with two prongs. Their heads were more 
ordinary, but many of them had human noses and 
mouths instead of beaks. Whatever the Parrot might 
say, he was much more like an ordinary bird than 
they were. 

But, though very strange, the birds were not, in 
any way alarming, and their harmless behaviour and 
the peaceful morning made the travellers feel much 
more confident. 

The Carpenter poked about in the soft green moss, 
which covered the ground, and found that it was 
swarming with curious insects. A great many were 
new to him, and one particularly puzzled him. It 
was very small and black, and not in the least like 
any insect he had ever seen before. It was amusing 
itself by running up and down the stems, and over 
the flowers of a small plant, as though in search of 
prey. 

Melinda watched the Carpenter condescendingly 
as he bent over his interesting discovery. She did 
not mind the delay in their journey round the island, 
as she thought that the capture of a tiny insect could 
not possibly detain them long. She was sitting close 
to a tall, slender plant, bearing fine red fruit, which 

61 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

looked so inviting that she at once started to pick it. 

But no sooner was her hand stretched out to do so 

than a bird pounced down on 
her with a loud cry, and 
pinched her ear with its beak, 
and shook her roughly with its 
wings. Then it let her go, and 
picked all the fruit and stowed 
it away in its body, which was 
a square-shaped box, after which 
it left her by the bare tree, 
robbed of its bright fruit, shoot- 
ing ferocious side glances at her 
as it went. 

' We are discovered ! " cried 
Melinda piteously. But the Car- 
penter was too much occupied 
to pay any attention to her. 
At the very moment, indeed, 
when the fierce bird had at- 
tacked Melinda, the Carpenter's 
fingers had closed over the 
little insect he so much desired 
to capture. At first it felt quite 
soft under his fingers, but then 
suddenly it became hard, and 
he was so much surprised at 

this that he let it slip away. 




PICKED ALL THE FRUIT 



62 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




It vanished for a moment, and when he caught 
sight of it again it had become larger. It looked like 
a little black triangle which had a large white eye with 
a black pupil. As it ran hither and thither to 
escape the Carpenter's fingers it grew larger and 
its appearance became more and more extraordinary. 

63 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




Its legs had grown longer, and it now appeared to 
have two heads. Suddenly it stopped running and 
stung the Carpenter with a kind of spear it was hold- 
ing, and then ran away again. The Carpenter ran 
after it in hot pursuit, followed by Melinda, who did 
not dare to leave him. 



WEIRD ISLANDS 





The strange creature went on growing and as it 
grew it became evident that this was the Black 
Cavalier itself. The Carpenter hesitated, and Melinda 
tried to hold him back. They stood close together while 
the Black Cavalier, still growing rapidly, began to purr. 

F 65 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




The Carpenter quickly took the diamond from 
Melinda, and managed to touch the Black Cavalier 
with it, but the magic was not strong enough to have 
any effect on so terrible a creature. Already it had 
grown as high as the Carpenter's blue hat, but the 
sting did not grow at all and remained quite short. 
66 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




The Black Cavalier was busy stinging the Car- 
penter's hat, thinking it to be a live thing, and soon 
itjhad to bend down to reach the hat with its short 
sting, and soon it was too tall to touch the Carpenter 
at all, and soon it was taller than the tallest of the 
palm trees, and still it grew. 67 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




HlS SAW PASSED THROUGH THE HOOF WITHOUT LEAVING A TRACE 

68 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Carpenter tried to cut through the hoofs of 
its horse, but his saw passed through the hoof with- 
out leaving a trace. 

" No doubt I can kill it higher up," said the Car- 
penter, looking upwards. He could only see the 
Cavalier's legs, the rest of it was now far out of sight 
above the palm trees. 

" If only you could overcome it," said Melinda, 
"we should be masters of the island." The Carpenter 
went on sawing the hoof of the Cavalier without any 
result ; it was always unmarked where the saw had 
passed through. 

THE BLACK CAVALIER CASTS HIS SHADOW 
OVER THE ISLANDS : THE CAVALIER 
SHOOTS UP AND SWELLS. THE AERO- 
PLANE MOUNTS TOWARDS HIS HEAD. 
THE CAVALIER'S EYE IS LIKE A BIG 
WINDOW. THE CAVALIER MELTS LIKE 
A SNOW MAN. 

IT was not difficult to discover the Black Cavalier. 
He had stretched up at least a hundred yards 
above the level of the forest, and his snorting and 
purring filled the air like a thunderstorm. At times 
it would stop purring to look round with its great 
white eye. During one of these pauses it heard the 
aeroplane rising towards it, and began to wave its 
ridiculous little sting. It had become so immense 
that it blotted out part of the sky, and darkened the 
chain of islands with its shadow. 

69 



WEIRD ISLANDS 







DARKENED THE CHAIN OF 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




ISLANDS WITH ITS SHADOW 



7 1 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The aeroplane rose straight upward, aiming for 
the Cavalier's eye. As it approached the Cavalier 
opened its great mouth and swallowed the aeroplane, 




SWALLOWED THE AEROPLANE 



which flew out of its ear a moment later unharmed. 
The sting was hardly large enough to be seen, but 
the Carpenter's saw was just as useless. Then the 
Carpenter thought of a plan. The Cavalier's eye was 
bigger than a captive balloon, and its black pupil was 
72 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

like a great round window. The Carpenter gave 
Melinda one of the bags of sand, which he had brought 
for ballast, and told her to empty it when he said 
" Hop." 

Then came a fight memorable in the histories of 
cavaliers and aeroplanes. The Carpenter tried to 
steer the aeroplane into the pupil of the Cavalier's 
eye, and the Cavalier turned its head hither and 
thither, and bent its tower-like neck this way and that 
to keep its eye safe from harm, trying at the same 
time to crush and swallow the aeroplane once and 
for all. But its hour had come. It lost sight of the 
aeroplane for a moment, and the Carpenter, seizing 
his opportunity, dived into its 
eye like an eagle entering its 
nest. 

1 Hop ! ' he cried, and, 
quick as thought, Melinda 
emptied the bag of sand. As 
soon as the sand touched its 
eye, the Black Cavalier crump- 
led up and melted away like a 
snow man. In a few seconds 
it was no taller than the palm 
trees, then it was as small as 
the plants below in the forest, 
and then it was so small that 
it disappeared under the grass 
and was nothing but a tiny black 
insect just as it had been when 
the Carpenter discovered it. MELTED AWAY LIKE A SNOW MAN 

73 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

The aeroplane returned to earth once more, but 
this time with more assurance. It dropped down on 
to the island again perpendicularly, like a heavy 
feather falling. 



TUTY AND TUTA : THE CARPENTER AND 
MELINDA DISCOVER THE DWELLING- 
PLACE OF TUTY AND TUTA. CURIOUS 
CONVERSATION OF THESE TWO 
PEOPLE. THE ROPE DANCER. THE 
TWO WOODEN MONSTERS. THE BIRDS 
PURSUE THE TWO TRAVELLERS. 

MELINDA and the Carpenter jumped out 
when it reached the ground, and sat down to 
rest among the scented flowers and ferns 
under the trees. The birds were singing sweetly 
somewhere out of sight. The travellers felt very 
happy, and pleased that they had conquered the 
Black Cavalier. They were hungry, as you may 
imagine, and ate an enormous breakfast of buns 
and cherries and chocolate biscuits. When they had 
finished, the Carpenter ardently desired to chase 
the brightly coloured butterflies that were flying 
about, and even settling on the cherry he was eating, 
but he saw that Melinda was in a great hurry to go 
on and find Tuta and Tuty, and he was too polite to 
ask her to wait. 

There was a rustling sound in the leaves near by, 
and the head of the Parrot Fiend appeared. He 
evidently had not yet heard of the defeat of the Black 

74 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

Cavalier, for he still looked scared, and without say- 
ing a word he pointed to a stone balustrade that 
stood near by, unnoticed by the travellers, and once 
again disappeared. They immediately jumped up 
and leant over it and saw beneath them two radiant 
and beautiful people. 




ALL THEIR POSSESSIONS 

Evidently they were Tuta and Tuty. Their dwell- 
ing was open to the sky, for it never rained on the 
Round Island, and from above you could see all 
their possessions, small chairs and tables, and deli- 
cate crockery, everything necessary to a well-set-up 
establishment. It was round in shape like a circus, 
and carpeted with flowers and moss. There was a 
flower garden, a kitchen garden, an orchard, a stable, 
and a mill, busily grinding corn. 

" That is where they grind the flour for the cakes 
they give to the birds," said Melinda. While they 

75 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

stood looking down at the neat and prosperous house- 
hold beneath them, they saw some cubic and spherical 
birds busily employed with a cage at the other end 
of the balustrade. Some of them were stretching a 




BIRDS BUSILY EMPLOYED WITH A CAGE 

cord from one end of the circus to the other. When 
this was done they opened the cage, and out jumped 
a lovely red squirrel, dressed as a rope-dancer. He 
sprang on to the silver cord, light as a feather, and 
began to dance with great agility. He leapt into the 
air and turned three or four somersaults before he 
touched the cord again, and performed a thousand 
more graceful tricks. 

Melinda and the Carpenter applauded so loudly 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

that they attracted the attention of the two little 
people for whom the entertainment had been organ- 
ised. They looked up and stared at the travellers, 
but they did not seem at all surprised to see them. 
Melinda and the Carpenter made signs that they would 
like to talk to them, but all the answer they got was 
the following disheartening conversation : 

" Those are humans," said Tuta. 

" Yes," said Tuty. 

" Have you been introduced to the young girl ? " 
said Tuta. 

" No, Mrs. Tuta." 

" Have you been intro- 
duced to the young man ? " 
said Tuty. 

" No, Mr. Tuty." 

So, as it seemed that 
none of them had been 
introduced, Tuta and 
Tuty showed no further 
interest in the travellers, 
and did not even deign 
to look upwards again. 
They were not in the 
least curious, indeed 
they could not imagine 
anything outside their 
own home. They were ^^ AND TuTA 

not adventurous like the voyagers in the Blue Boat, 
and it is difficult to conjecture how they ever got 
wrecked on an island at all. 

77 





WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE LION WAS SHOWING HIS TEETH, BUT THE CHIMERA HAD LONGER CLAWS 

78 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The squirrel was still dancing on the rope, but 
suddenly he missed his footing and fell to the ground. 
Luckily there was a soft carpet of moss beneath, so 
that he could not have been badly hurt. 

Melinda gave a little shriek, and pinched the Car- 
penter's arm, for the squirrel had fallen at the very 
feet of a big, yellow lion with red jaws, and a 
ferocious looking Chimera. The Lion was 
showing his teeth, but the Chimera had longer 
claws, and they both looked very alarming. 
They had evidently been posted there by the 
birds to prevent Tuta and Tuty from 
leaving the island if they wanted to 
do so, although they did not seem to 
want to do anything of the sort. The 
dancer lay quite still as though he had 
fainted, and the monsters 
did not move either. The 
birds who had brought 
the cage had settled 
down to a game of 
knuckle-bones, and no- 
ticed nothing wrong. 
At last one of them 
looked round at the 
travellers, and saw by 
the expression on their 
faces that something had 
happened. They got up 
and saw the dancing 
squirrel lying quite Still FIGURE-HEADS OF WRECKED SHIPS 

79 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

on the moss. Then one of them waved his claw in a 
signal to someone at the other side of the circus and 
a surprising thing happened. The two monsters began 
to move backwards through an open doorway just 




THEY WERE FOLLOWED BY A CLOUD 

behind them. As they moved they made loud rumbling 
and creaking sounds as though something wooden 
were being dragged over stones ; then the door closed 
behind them with a clang. 

" Those two monsters are made of wood, they 
are only figure-heads of wrecked ships," cried the 
Carpenter, and he and Melinda burst out laughing. 
In an instant they were followed by a cloud of cubic 
and spherical birds, whose wings darkened the air 
so that they could not see where they were going. 
Thousands of claws threatened them, and thousands 
of clacking beaks deafened them with a tremendous 
80 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

uproar. They were pushed down a flight of stone 
steps, and through a narrow passage, where they 
passed the wooden monsters who had been dragged 
away from their post of guarding Tuta and Tuty. 




OF CUBIC AND SPHERICAL BlRDS 



The Carpenter managed to draw a wooden nail out 
of the Chimera as he passed, and kept it ever after- 
wards in memory of the Round Island. 

They ran along the passage as fast as they could, 
trying to get away from the birds, and find the aero- 
plane, which they had carelessly left lying on the 
grass by the side of the balustrade. At last they 
reached the end of the passage and found that they 
had outdistanced the birds and emerged on the 
beach. The birds were still making a fearful din, but 
the sound seemed to be in the distance, and suddenly 

G 81 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

it stopped and there was silence, a mysterious silence, 
almost worse than the noise. 

The Carpenter had been scratched on the cheek 
and on the forehead, and Melinda bound up his face 
with his silk handkerchief. It was the same one he had 
used to wipe the dew off the aeroplane, and it was 
still wet, but she had nothing else. 

' I think we will leave this Island of Cubic Birds 
as soon as may be," said the Carpenter, ruefully, 
feeling his head. 

" Where shall we go ? " asked Melinda, eager for 
more adventures. 

"We have enough provisions for two days," said the 

Carpenter thoughtfully, "and we can add fruit to that." 

' You will pick it," said Melinda, remembering 

how she had been attacked by the bird who had 

caught her picking fruit. 

" Certainly," replied the Carpenter. " And thus 
supplied," he went on, " we can go and look for the 
Blue Boat and our companions." 

THE BOATMAN IS FOUND AGAIN : THEY 
DECIDE TO LEAVE THE ISLAND. THEY 
SEE A BROWN SPHERE DANCING ON 
THE PLAIN. THE BOATMAN COMES OUT 
OF HIS BARREL. 

WHILE they stood on the sea-shore making 
plans, their attention was attracted to a 
curious, round, brown thing, which seemed 
to have been stranded by the waves on some rocks 
a little way out to sea. Melinda saw it first. 
82 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" Look, there, on the rocks ! " she cried, pointing 
it out to the Carpenter. As she spoke the rising tide 
shifted the strange object from its resting place, and 
set it bobbing up and down on the water. 

" It is coming towards us," said the Carpenter, 
and indeed it was bobbing closer and closer as the 
waves crept up the beach. At 
last they could see that it was 
a helmet covering a head, and 
the head emerged from a cask, 
and the head was the head of 
the Boatman ! 

The cask came nearer and 
nearer until it floated ashore. 
The Boatman stared at them 
but did not speak, then he 
laughed very happily with his 
mouth wide open like a baby, 
and held out his hands full of 
little star fish. 

" At last ! " he said when 
he had done laughing. 

" Dear Boatman ! ' said 
Melinda and the Carpenter, ' how glad we are to 
see you. As there is a third place in our aeroplane 
you may hope to escape death from privation." 

The Boatman was so overcome that he could only 
reply : 

" At last, at last ! " 

" Hadn't you better come out of that barrel ? ' 
said the Carpenter, gently, but firmly. And as he 

83 




IT FLOATED ASHORE 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

seemed to be stuck fast they pulled him out, head 
first. He stood on his head for a moment to recover him- 
self, and then embraced his friends with tears of joy. 

" Dear friends," he said, " I have been waiting 
here for you. I saw your indescribably valiant fight 
with the Black Cavalier. A parrot with a malicious 
eye told me that you were frivolous and impudent, 
and that the cubic birds would drive you to the coast 
at your first nonsensical mistake." 

"How nice it is that we have found each other," 
said Melinda. She and the Boatman began to play 
with the star fish he had found. But the Carpenter 
was looking thoughtful. 

" Boatman, where is your boat ? " he asked rather 
severely. 

" I'll tell you all about it," said the Boatman, and 
he sat up on his heels and told them his story. 

THE FATE OF THE WRECK AND COD : THE 
BOATMAN'S STORY. THE FIRE ON THE 
BOAT. THE BARREL FLOATS ON THE 
SEA. COD AND FLUTE FLEE ON THE 
SUBMARINE.BING AND SUN-AND-MOON 
ON CASKS, PETER, THE FRIEND, AND 
DRUM SEEK REFUGE ON THE WRECK. 
PROCESSION OF THE CASTAWAYS. 

" Ik JIT Y lacquer box," began the Boatman, "must 

I %/ 1 have been out of order, as the storm which 

A. T JLit foretold, never appeared. And yet the 

clouds looked so black I thought they would break 

over our heads. The wind blew the smoke of my 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



cigarette so violently upwards 
that the sparks whirled about 
in the air, and it must have 
been one of those sparks that 
set fire to the Blue Boat. 

" Fire ! " cried the listeners, 
both together. " Was the 
Blue Boat burnt ? " 

" Most of it was," replied 
the Boatman. " It must have 
been badly made, for as soon 
as the middle part was burnt 
the rest of it fell to pieces." 

" And you left it to burn, 
and lay in your barrel with- 
out moving hand or foot to 
try and stop it, you detestable 
creature ? ' cried Melinda, 
breathless with anger. 

" Well, you see, I didn't 
know quite what was hap- 
pening. I thought that the 
cries on deck were on account 
of the storm, and I thought 
the red glow of the flames 
was lightning." 

"Alas! "said Melinda. "So 
you did not move. You did 
nothing ? " 

" No," said the Boatman 
simply. 




SET FIRE TO THE BLUE BOAT 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

' Then how were you saved ? ' 
' When the boat fell to pieces I stuck fast in the 
barrel, and floated safely away on the water, which 

by that time was fairly calm." 

" Is that all ? " cried the Car- 
penter, as the Boatman did not 
go on. " Don't you know what 
happened to the others ? ' 

" No," said the Boatman 
calmly, " that is not all. I was 
so upset that I was obliged to 
smoke one cigarette after an- 
other to calm myself." 

" But our friends the music- 
ians, the pride and joy of 
Fairyland, what has become of 
them ? " cried Melinda, dancing 
with impatience. 

" Cheer up ! " said the Boat- 
man, seating himself on a wet 
rock. " They are all safe as far 
as I know ! Keep quiet, and I 
will tell you all about it. Cod 
was quite unhurt in his sub- 
marine, but he could only 
rescue one person, so he fished 
out Flute, who climbed into 
his place with supreme indiffer- 
ence. Then Cod sailed round 
about the wreckage and helped 
FLUTE the rest to arrange for themselves 

86 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

as best they could. Half of the Blue Boat was still 
untouched by the fire, so Peter, the Friend, and the 
Drummer, settled themselves on that. The rest of the 
boat was still burning. Bing and Sun-and-Moon 
followed my example and found a couple of barrels, 
which they tied together with a long waist belt so that 
they could keep each other company. 

" Why, of course ! " said the Carpenter suddenly ; 
" that was what we saw burning out at sea ! ' 

1 Then it wasn't a volcano after all," said Melinda. 

' It was therefore necessary," continued the Boat- 
man, taking no notice of the interruption, " to get 
away as quickly as possible. Peter arranged that the 
half-boat should be towed by Cod in the submarine, 
so Cod threw him a rope, and Peter, in his turn, threw 
one to Bing and Sun-and-Moon, who threw one to 
me. And so we started off in a long procession to 
discover land." 

THE WHALES : THEY ARE ATTRACTED BY 
THE NASAL SOUND OF THE CLARIONET. 
THE WHALES LAUGH. THE WATER- 
FALLS. THEY DO NOT KNOW WHERE 
THE OTHER CASTAWAYS ARE. 

OW that is what I call a real adventure!" 
cried Melinda, clapping her hands. "Oh, 
how I wish I had been there too." 
" Wait a bit," said the Boatman. "As we floated 
away, Flute began to play a favourite funeral march 
of his and the squeaky notes of his clarionet attracted 

8? 




WEIRD ISLANDS 




FLUTE BEGAN TO PLAY 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




COD, THE CAPTAIN 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




PETER, THE FIDDLER 



90 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE FRIEND AND DRUM 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




SUN-AND-MOON AND BING 



92 




THE BOATMAN AND THE WHALES 



93 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

a family of whales. It was a very nice family, but it 
came too close. We were surrounded by mountains 
of shining black flesh. There were vast numbers of 
them, a whole dynasty I should think. 




WAVE THEIR TAILS ABOUT 

" Flute stopped playing in alarm, but the whales 
had already caught sight of us all strung out in a row 
behind the Shark, and they were tremendously 
amused at what they saw. Unfortunately their peals 
of laughter made them wave their tails about, so that 

94 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

the water round us was churned into enormous 
spouts and cataracts of water, and we were tossed 
up and down, one moment high in the air and the 
next in the depths of the sea. The ropes came untied, 
everything was in confusion, and we were all dis- 
persed in different directions, each one followed by 
a playful whale, who amused himself by rolling us 
over and over in the water. 

I don't know when the other whales got tired of 
the game. The one who was innocently sporting with 
my barrel did not tire of it till evening, when he 
abandoned me on those rocks, from which I was able 
to watch you fighting and vanquishing the Black 
Cavalier. 

" Is that all you know ? " asked the Carpenter. 

" That's all," said the Boatman. 

They sat silently on the beach for a little while, 
each wondering what had happened to their friends. 

THE GOLDEN COCK: THOUSANDS OF 
BIRDS WORSHIP THEIR GOD. THE 
BOATMAN FIRES HIS PISTOL. HE TAKES 
A SOUVENIR OF HIS FIRST SHIPWRECK 

THE Carpenter gave the Boatman a whole bun 
to assuage his hunger, and then suggested 
that they should explore the sea to find their 
comrades. But first they would have to find the aero- 
plane, so they plunged once more into the forest of 
palm trees. 
There was still no sound from the birds ; the 

95 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

island was completely silent, but they went crouching 
for fear that some of the birds might be watching 
for them. They walked like this a long distance 
through the silent forest, until at last they came to 
an open space, and then they knew : ,why everything 




THEY WALKED LIKE THIS 



had been so quiet. All the cubic and spherical birds 
were there, crowded together, bowing towards the 
ground in an attitude of worship. They were ranged 
in circles round a brilliant golden object ; they were 
worshipping their Golden God, who had at last come 
to the island to visit them. 

All of a sudden the Carpenter touched Melinda's 
arm, and said in an excited whisper : 

" Don't you see ? It's the beautiful wooden cock 
I nearly caught with my saw ! ' 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

And it was indeed the same wooden cock that his 
saw had cut from a steeple, and which had afterwards 
fallen on the Island of Birds. 

The Boatman had to have all this explained to 
him, and immediately wanted to possess the Golden 
Cock as a souvenir of his first wreck, or rather, though 
he would not have confessed it, of his first voyage. 
In the midst of the silence that reigned over the 
island, he placed a cap in his pistol, and fired into 
the air. The birds rose from the ground with flutter- 
ing wings in a great commotion, thinking that the 
god had made the noise to proclaim its anger. They 
flew high up into the blue sky with terrified cries 
circling round and round the island, but not daring 
to return. 

The Boatman did not lose a moment in seizing 
the Golden Cock, while the others looked round 
for the aeroplane. They discovered it lying under 
some ferns, and hastily unfolded it and mounted to 
their places. The aeroplane rose slowly owing to the 
additional weight of the Boatman, and the Carpenter 
was afraid they would not get very far. 

They flew out over the sea for a little way to escape 
discovery by the birds, and then looked anxiously at 
the earth below. They saw that the archipelago con- 
tained at least five or six islands, and the Carpenter 
proposed that they should visit each in turn to try 
and discover their friends, and find out which of the 
islands were habitable and which were not. 

" Let us begin with the one we are flying over 
now," said Melinda. 

H 97 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




J 




98 



FIRED INTO THE AIR 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The others agreed and the aeroplane descended 
as light as a feather on the island next to the Island 
of Cubic Birds. 



COD HUNG : AGONY OF THE TRAVELLERS. 
UNFORTUNATE COD ! THEY DISCOVER 
THE PERPETRATORS. 



1 



sun was shining brightly as they alighted 
on the next island, and the earth glittered as 
though it had been sprinkled with diamond 
dust. The trees that fringed the beach were covered 
with red and purple flowers, and the sand was as 
yellow as gold. 

But though the island was so beautiful, they felt 
anxious and depressed as though something was 
wrong, or just going to be wrong. They did not tell 
each other what a gloomy effect the island was having 
on them, but set out at once to explore, for their 
stock of provisions was running low, and it was very 
necessary to find some more food. The trees looked 
as though they might bear fruit, so they walked away 
from the sea towards the forest. Presently they found 
themselves on the bank of a wide river, which cut 
the island into halves, so that they were standing on 
a little island and looking across the river at a bigger 
one. 

* We might as well cross over," said the Carpenter, 
beginning to unfold the aeroplane again as he spoke. 
But the Boatman was staring across the water with a 
terrified expression. 

99 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" What is the matter ? " asked the others. The 
Boatman pointed, and they saw the body of Cod, 




COD, HANGING ON A BRANCH 

hanging on a branch of a dead tree on the other side 

of the river. 

100 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" Unfortunate Cod ! " they cried, wringing their 
hands with grief at the sight. Suddenly Melinda 
caught sight of some curious beings, more or less 




YOU CAN SEE THEY HAVE POINTED HEADS 

human in appearance, lying asleep under the trees 
quite close to them. 

" What horrid looking things ! " she cried. " They 
are armed with bows and arrows." 

" And knives ! " said the Boatman, getting behind 

101 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



a rock. Then the Carpenter began to tremble with 
fear, and said in a desperate way : 

" We are on the Island of Baligoors and Coomasis. 
I recognise them by the description the Parrot gave 
us on the Island of Birds. You can see they have 
pointed heads and sloping shoulders just as he 
described." 

" Unfortunate us ! ' cried Melinda, remember- 
ing the terrible things the Parrot had told them 
about the Baligoors and Coomasis. 

* We cannot use the aeroplane to cross the river," 
said the Carpenter. " The noise of the engine might 
awaken these creatures, and then they would attack 



us." 



* We must wade across," said the Boatman, so 
he took off his shoes with the planks to find out the 
depth of the water. But it was much too deep to 
wade, and there were no rocks or stones to give foot- 
hold. 

" Oh, unfortunate Cod ! " they cried. " What 
shall we do ? ' 

THE PIGWING : AN AMBASSADOR. THE 
ANIMALS OF THE ISLAND. THE BALI- 
GOORS SLEEP IN THE DAYTIME. 

WHILE they sat mournfully by the river bank, 
wondering what to do, a Pigwin'g came and 
sat on a branch above their heads. A Pigwing 
is a kind of guinea pig with long wings that roll up 
like the spring of a watch when the animal is not 
1 02 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

flying. The Carpenter looked with interest at this 
creature, which he was inclined to regard as an in- 
sect. It was certainly rather larger than the ordinary 




run of insects, but his travels had taught the Car- 
penter to expect unusual things on a voyage. 

The Pigwing sat looking at them for a few moments, 
out of the corner of his eye. He was the ambassador 
sent out by the animals, who lived on the island, to 

103 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

assure the strangers of their readiness to be friendly 
and helpful if help were needed. He seemed satisfied 
at last with his observations, and came down to a 
lower branch, bowing and stretching out his arms 
in welcome. 

' Have you any bows and arrows, Sirs and 
Madam ? "he asked. 

" No, Mr. Pigwing," they replied. 

The Pigwing lifted his left arm above his head. 
At this signal a host of animals appeared from all 
sides, some from the trees, some from the river, and 
some from holes in the rocks and burrows in the 
ground. 

Melinda drew a little closer to the other two, but the 
animals looked so friendly that she was not really afraid. 
' Have you any knives ? " asked the Pigwing. 
' Only these, Mr. Pigwing," said the Boatman 
and the Carpenter showing him their pocket-knives, 
which were not very large. After a few minutes' 
reflection, the Pigwing lifted his other arm. All the 
animals began to move towards them, and did not 
stop until the Pigwing lowered his arm. They were 
now quite close, but none of them spoke. Even the 
Pigwing was silent. 

* Can we do anything for you, my dear friends ? ' 
inquired the Carpenter politely. 

" Thank you, no. We like looking at you," replied 
the Pigwing. A big giraffe with a horn spoke. 

" You are very like the Baligoors and Coomasis," 
he said, " except that you are not asleep, and can 
even see by daylight," 
104 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




A BIG GIRAFFE WITH A HORN SPOKE 



105 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




1 06 



THEY ARE ASLEEP, REPLIED 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE PlGWING, SMILING 



107 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" They look less cruel than the Baligoors," said 
a small tortoise with long paws. " Except the little 
one there, " he added, pointing at Melinda, who was 
so vexed that she asked the Boatman for his pistol. 

' Don't quarrel with them whatever you do," 
said the Carpenter in a prudent whisper, and the 
Boatman nodded his head in agreement. " They are 
kind and friendly, whereas the Baligoors are certain 
to attack us if they see us." 

Melinda saw that he was right, and tried to forget 
that she had been insulted. 

* But aren't you afraid of being so close to these 
cruel creatures," the Carpenter asked, pointing to 
the Baligoors, asleep under the trees. 

1 They are asleep," replied the Pigwing, smiling. 

" But if they wake up ? " 

1 They cannot wake up unless someone goes and 
shakes them, and even then they could not see till 
nightfall. They have red eyes ! " he added, as though 
that explained everything. 

BUILDING A BRIDGE. THE GIRAFFE AND 
THE TORTOISE SPEAK. ALL THE AN- 
IMALS HELP TO BUILD THE BRIDGE. 
COD'S DRESS IS TAKEN DOWN FROM 
THE TREE. COD DRESSED IN A GREAT 
CLOAK. NEWS OF FLUTE. HOW COD 
ESCAPED DEATH. 

WHEN the Carpenter heard this he at once 
began scheming to free the animals from 
their cruel enemies, as he had freed the 
108 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

birds from the Black Cavalier. He told his plans to 
the Pigwing, whose wings uncurled with horror. 

" But there are more than a thousand of them ! " 
he cried when he had strength to speak, " and they 
are all as strong as lions and ten times as fero- 
cious ! ' 

" Oh, poor Cod, unfortunate Cod ! " they cried. 

" The fish is your friend?*' asked the Giraffe, 
pointing to Cod. 

" Yes, yes, our dear friend, Cod ! ' 

" Alas for your poor friend ! " said the Tortoise. 
" They will eat him for their supper this evening ! ' 

" No ! " they cried all at once. " We will at least 
give him a burial worthy of the Captain of the Shark." 

But they had yet to cross the river, and the Pig- 
wing feared that the noise of the aeroplane might 
waken even the Baligoors. 

" But, cheer up," he said, " we will make a bridge. 
We have still some hours before they wake." 

Then all the larger animals waded into the river, 
carrying rocks and stones, which they placed in a 
line from bank to bank. Then they stood on the 
rocks while the smaller animals handed them clay 
and gravel and branches and strips of seaweed to fill 
up the gaps and make the bridge firm and steady. 
The birds flew across with mud and grasses in their 
beaks, and the Tortoise tied the smaller rocks to- 
gether with bindweed. Last of all, the Beaver arrived 
with branches, which were laid across the bridge 
from one side to the other. Then it was finished, and, 
in much less time than it takes to tell they had all 

109 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




MAKE THE BRIDGE 



110 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




FIRM AND STEADY 



III 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

run across to the foot of the tree where Cod was 
hanging. 

The Boatman took the planks from his feet and 
climbed the tree, and cut the cord that held Cod's 
body. 




THE BEAVER ARRIVED 

And now, what do you think ? It was not Cod at 
all. It was only his fish costume, stuffed full of grass 
and leaves, like a fish in a glass case. The travellers 
did not know whether to laugh or to cry. 

" They have probably eaten him already," said a 
little black elephant with hedgehog spines. 

" But what is this ? " said the Boatman, who had 
been examining the fish costume. He showed them 
a small piece of paper which he had found in Cod's 
pocket. They read : 
112 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



IF SOME CHARITABLE 
SOUL READS THIS, HE 
WILL FIND THE UN- 
FORTUNATE OWNER 
OF THIS COSTUME IN 
THE GROTTO ON 
THE SMALL ISLAND. 
ENTRANCE UNDER 
RED PINE: ' 

\ 

7 T (Signed) ' || 
COD, Captain of Shark 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




^/^ 



CUT THE CORD THAT HELD COD'S BODY 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Boatman hastily tied the planks on to his feet 
again, and they all ran back over the bridge to the 
small island, and searched for the red pine. When 
they found it, the Carpenter crept underneath it to 
the grotto, while the others waited 
outside. At last he came out again 
with Cod, who was wrapped up in 
the Carpenter's brown cloak. 

" What has happened to Flute ? " 
asked Melinda, when they had all 
recovered from the excitement of 




WRAPPED UP IN THE 

CARPENTER'S BROWN 

CLOAK 



meeting again. 

" He has found a country, which 
gives him complete satisfaction," re- 
plied Cod. 

"It evidently didn't satisfy you," 
remarked the Carpenter, " or you 
wouldn't have come away." 

" I will tell you all about it," said 
Cod. " Some hours ago," he began, 
" a sudden night fell over all the 
islands. I could see the cause. You were righting in 
the air with a vast, black cavalier, whose shadow 
was thrown across the sea. I immediately boarded 
the Shark again, leaving Flute behind on the island, 
where we had taken refuge from the storm, and 
steered in all haste towards the point where your 
battle was raging. It was so dark that I could hardly 
see where I was going, and when I came to the shore 
of this island I thought it was the one over which 
you were fighting, so I jumped ashore. Twelve men 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THEIR RED BYES SHONE LIKE FIRE 



116 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

with red eyes caught me and dragged me near to 
the spot where you found me. They were very fer- 
ocious, and their red eyes shone like fire. They cut 
the collar of my costume with a large knife, taking 
no notice of my struggles and cries, and then drew 
me out of it, growling like bears all the time. They 
must have thought it was my real skin, for their own 
were covered with scales and feathers. Then they 
began to flourish their knives and I thought that my 
end had come. But just at that moment you con- 
quered the Black Cavalier, and the light shone once 
more. The red-eyed creatures seemed to be suddenly 
powerless. They staggered away with their hands to 
their eyes, and left me free to do as I pleased. So it 
was you who saved my life, dear Carpenter," he 
ended, embracing the Carpenter with tears of gratitude. 

THE ISLAND OF SILENCE OR FLUTE'S 
ISLAND. TOWARDS THE ISLAND. FIRST 
ENCOUNTER ON THE ISLAND. THE 
CARPENTER, MELINDA, COD, AND THE 
BOATMAN LEAVE THE ISLAND OF 
BIRDS. A COOMASI IS DROWNED. BAD 
WEATHER. 

COD then had to tell them all about Flute. 
" Flute is an odd creature," he began. 
"No, not odd, he is only a philosopher," 
said Melinda, who did not know what " philosopher" 
meant. 

" At this moment," Cod went on, "he is sitting 

117 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

under a tree, reading old picture-books or playing 
on his clarionet to charm the serpents." 

" Serpents ? " cried Melinda a little anxiously. 

" Quite harmless," said Cod reassuringly. 

" But what does he live on ? " asked the Carpenter, 
who was occasionally practical. 

" The birds bring him bread and fruit, and the 
storks bring him water," replied Cod. 

" Let us go at once ! " cried all three together. 
" We have never been so hungry in all our lives ! ' 

They made ready to leave the Island of Baligoors 
at once. But first of all they took leave of the kindly 
animals, who had done so much to help them in their 
troubles. The Carpenter promised to come back 
some day with an army and free the island from 
Baligoors and Coomasis. In the meantime dusk was 
falling, and it was dangerous to stay. The animals 
began to say good-bye one after another, and went 
off to their homes, for very soon the Baligoors would 
wake up. 

Cod launched the Shark, and he and the Boatman 
got into it, while the others took flight in the aero- 
plane. And then they set out in the cool of the even- 
ing to find Flute's island. The sea was calm and blue, 
and the day was not yet over, but before they had 
gone far, they felt again the strange uneasiness that 
had come over them when they landed on the island. 
Suddenly they knew that something horrible was 
near them, and the Boatman, turning round, saw a 
hideous Coomasi, crouched ready to spring on the 
tail of the Shark. He gave a loud cry, and the Coomasi 
118 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

kaped upon him in a flash, and they fell together 
into the sea. Happily, the planks the Boatman had 
tied to his feet caught in the sides of the Submarine 




THEY FELL TOGETHER INTO THE SEA 

and held him safely above the water, while the Coo- 
masi fell right in and did not reappear for some 
moments. 

Then the Boatman showed great presence of mind. 

119 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

While the Carpenter was 
pulling him back into the 
boat he handed him his 
pistol. Unfortunately the 
ammunition had got wet, 
but as it happened, there 
was no need of any 
weapon. The Coomasi 
could not swim ; his arms 
were too short, and, after 
coming to the surface 
once more, he disap- 
peared for good. The 
travellers continued on their way rejoicing, but as 
the twilight deepened, the sky grew cloudy, and the 
sea went black. The Boatman had lost his lacquer 
box, but they needed nothing to tell them that 
there was going to be a storm. 




COMING TO THE SURFACE ONCE MORE 



THE STORM. THE AEROPLANE IS PUT 
ABOARD THE SUBMARINE. THE 
TRAVELLERS CATCH HOLD OF THE 
AEROPLANE. THEY PREPARE TO DIE. 
MELINDA FAINTS, THE WIND HOWLS. 

EVERYONE knows how a storm comes up. 
The clouds gathered fast and thick, the wind 
blew gustily, and the sea was black and threat- 
ening. The Carpenter alighted on the submarine 
and folded the aeroplane into its box. Then he touched 
the box with the magic diamond to make it grow 
120 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

small enough to put in his pocket, but instead of 
growing smaller it grew bigger and bigger until it 
nearly covered the submarine. 

" The diamond has gone mad," said the Car- 
penter, unhappily. " What are we to do ? " 

" I know," said Cod, with unusual sense for him, 
" if we sit one on each corner we shall keep it bal- 
anced. I should never have got all of you into the 
submarine. I think your diamond has a great deal of 



sense." 



He was quite right. When they had taken their 
places, one at each corner of the box, the submarine 
steadied itself on the waves, and the wind did not 
catch them, especially as when it blew very fiercely 
they crouched down over their knees as Chinese 
people do when they pray. But the storm grew so 
violently that presently all their ingenuity went for 
nothing. For the waves threw the submarine and the 
box and the four passengers into the air and the 
wind dashed them down into the sea again. They 
all clung to one another and the box and the sides of 
the submarine, thinking that the end was near. 
Sometimes the box was tilted to one side so that they 
looked like fish displayed on a slab in a fishmonger's 
shop, and then it would right itself only just in time 
to save them from drowning. 

" Whoever survives this " shouted Melinda, 

trying to make herself heard above the storm. 

" No one will survive this ! " shouted the Car- 
penter, dismally in reply. 

" Let us tie ourselves to the box," suggested the 

121 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THREW THE Box A^JD THE FOUR PASSENGERS INTO THE AIR 



122 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

Boatman, who liked tying himself on to things almost 
as much as he liked tying them on to himself. So, 
with great difficulty, they all managed to tie them- 
selves on to the corners of the box. The Boatman 
unfastened one of his planks and used the string to 
tie himself on with ; the Carpenter used the cord 
that he had brought for his saw ; Melinda used her 
little silk sash ; and Cod, who had nothing in the 
world except the Carpenter's brown cloak, had to 
content himself with holding on tightly to a ring on 
the box. 

In spite of the wind it was very hot. 

" Perhaps it is the end of the 
world ! " said Melinda. 

It seemed as though she was 
right ; at a moment when the 
Shark was almost overturned 
by the force of the wind, an 
immense wave hurled itself right 
over them, and rilled the Sub- 
marine with water, for Cod, as 
you may remember, had left the 
lid, which covered the opening, 
at home. The Shark immedi- 
ately sank beneath the waves, 
and Melinda fainted. The Boat- 
man wept because he could not 
hide himself as he generally did 
in time of danger. The Carpen- 
ter held his collection of butter- 
flies up above his head so that 




His COLLECTION OF BUTTERFLIES 
UP ABOVE HIS HEAD 



123 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

it should not be caught by the angry waves. Cod, 
who had no initiative, just waited to see what would 
happen. The box was still floating somehow or 
other, and looked very like the four of diamonds 
from a pack of cards with its four passengers 
clinging one to each corner. It was a strange voyage. 
Melinda, having recovered, felt sure that it was 
nothing but a dream, but it was queerer than any 
dream she had ever had before. The thunder growled 
like a bad-tempered ogre, the wind screamed and 
moaned, red and yellow lightning made jagged open- 
ings in the black clouds, and the rain poured down 
on the sea. Meanwhile the box still floated and the 
wind and the waves played catch with it. 

LAND ! ! AN IMMENSE WAVE WASHES THE 
RAFT ON TO THE ISLAND. THEY SPEND 
THE NIGHT ON A HILL. NO WIND AND 
ALWAYS SUN. THE SILENT ONES 
UNDER THEIR TREES. THEY HAVE 
FLAT HOUSES AND NO KITCHENS. 
THEY LIVE ON FRUIT AND NUTS. 

BUT Fortune had not deserted them. Suddenly 
Cod placed his hands round his mouth to 
make his voice carry further, and shouted : 
"I see land. I think it must be the Island of 
Silence ! " 

" Is it far ? " shouted the others, but their voices 
were drowned in a whirlpool of water and spray. 
When the wave had passed, the lightning gave them 
124 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

a brief glimpse of the land Cod had pointed out. 
But it was still far distant, and the box was being 
tossed about like a cork, up into the air and down 
again into the sea. A huge wave came, huger than 
any that had come before, and lifted them right out 




THEY WERE ON FLUTE'S ISLAND 

of the water. They dropped like a stone, and there 
was a shock, which knocked the breath out of their 
bodies. Instead of falling back into the sea they had 
been thrown on to dry land. 
They were on Flute's Island, the Island of Silence. 

125 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

They cried for joy, but no one could have distin- 
guished the tears from the sea water running down 
their faces. 

The Carpenter, fearing that they might be swept 
away from land as suddenly as they had been thrown 
on to it, prudently suggested that they should not 
unfasten themselves from the box until they had 
walked further inland. In this way three of them 
still fastened to the box, while Cod held up the 
fourth corner, they climbed to the summit of a little 
hill. The storm was still at its height, and showed no 
signs of abating, and they were tired and hungry 
and wet to the skin. Melinda lay down under a rock 
and went to sleep : the Carpenter put one of his 
precious boxes under her head for a pillow, and 
covered her with his large silk handkerchief. 

Then he and the other two lay down and slept. 
As they slept the storm, not touching this hill, gradu- 
ally died down over the sea. 
This storm marked the end 
of the second day of their 
travels. 

The next morning they 
woke up, feeling brave and 
strong again, and set out at 
once to explore the island. 
First of all they stood on 
the little hill for a while to 
spy out the land. They 
could see no traces of the 

AND WENT TO SLEEP 
126 




WEIRD ISLANDS 




AT THE RIGHT SIDE OF EACH OF THE MEN SAT A ROW OF SONS 



127 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

1 Wind is unknown here," said Cod, who knew 
the place. " The sun shines all the time just enough 
to keep the inhabitants pleasantly warm." 

The whole of the island seemed to be covered with 
palm trees, set at equal distances from one another. 





FLAT BUILDINGS 

In the circle of shade under each tree sat a silent and 
motionless human being ; the men had great bushy 
masses of hair standing out round their heads, the 
women wore their hair falling over their shoulders, 
so that it almost entirely covered them. Each of them 
had a large open book, which they were either read- 
ing or pretending to read. At the right side of each 
of the men sat a row of sons, placed according to 
size, the biggest being nearest to his father. At the 
right side of each of the women was a row of daugh- 
ters, arranged in the same way. The children sat 
128 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

thus till the hour for recreation, their elders never 
moved at all during the daytime. 

" Are there no houses ? " asked Melinda. 

Cod pointed out some broad, flat buildings, rather 
like cucumber frames. 

" They only use their houses for sleeping in," he 
said, " so it would be useless to build them higher." 

" Then are their kitchens underground ? ' 

" They do not need kitchens. They live on fruit 
and nuts, especially nuts." 

HOW THE SILENT ONES LIVE. A BIRD 
SINGS IN THE SKY. THEY ARE FED BY 
THE GALIPODES. STORKS BRING 
THEM FRESH WATER. THE YOUNG 
SILENT ONES CATCH FLIES. THE 
TRULY WONDERFUL PEACOCK. PUN- 
ISHMENT OF VARIOUS FAULTS. 




A 



^\HE island was so quiet that it seemed to be 
listening to a single bird singing somewhere 
in the sky, the only sound to listen to. The 
travellers had noticed already that the palm trees, 
which sheltered the Silent Beings, were planted at 
regular intervals like the trees in a nursery garden, 
and now they saw that a notice board was fastened 
to each one, inscribed with some pretty and serious 
name, such as Jack Robinson, 103 Palm Tree Walk, 
Island of Silence. 

Not one of the Silent Beings turned their heads 
to look at the strangers as they passed by ; indeed 

K 129 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

they seemed unaware of their presence. It need 
hardly be said that Melinda was extremely offended 
at this inattention towards her. 

The bird, who had been singing, grew tired and 
flew to earth, and another took his place. They 
noticed that the new bird had flown out of a thick 
wood in the middle of the island. Cod told them that 
some of the trees there were bread-fruit trees, and 
some bore nuts, and that one at least bore the fruit 
of Eternity, which the very oldest and wisest of the 
Silent Ones were sometimes allowed to eat, but no 
one else. Cod also showed them little fountains 
standing here and there, whose clear water sparkled 
like diamond rings. 

They saw tall storks standing near the fountains, 
filling great pitchers, which they then fastened on 
their backs. 

" Those are the distributors of water ! " said Cod. 
He spoke in a whisper, so as not to offend the people, 
who worshipped silence. 

" Why is each pitcher fitted with pipes and a tap ?" 
asked Melinda, who was sometimes very observant. 

" You will see," said Cod. The stork nearest them 
unfastened a tray, which had been hanging from his 
belt, and placed on it tall drinking glasses, which 
had been fixed to the sides of the pitcher. Then he 
filled them with water from the tap at the end of the 
pipe, which was passed over his shoulder from the 
pitcher on his back. He then walked from tree to 
tree, placing fresh water in the cupboards, which 
stood in front of each of the Silent Beings. These 
130 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THOSE ARE THE DISTRIBUTORS OF WATER 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

cupboards were made of palm leaves, and looked 
rather like green lanterns. They held all the things 
that their owners wanted to preserve from the dust 
and heat. 

As the travellers followed the storks back again to 

the drinking fountains 
they met the Galipodes. 
The Galipodes were very 
clean and white like 
polished ivory, and they 
wore little hats made of 
pastry. Their arms were 
so short that they could 
not reach their beaks, and 
so could not touch the 
provisions they were 
carrying wrapped deli- 
cately in palm leaves. 

The travellers stood 
near by one of the palm 
trees and watched one of 
the Galipodes come and 
place a fine red and yellow 
apple in the green cup- 
board. They saw that he 
wore a label round his 
neck, bearing the same 
name and address as the 
one on the notice-board 

^^ of the Silent Being he 

LITTLE HATS MADE OF PASTRY was serving. 

132 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

" Each one has a Galipode to serve him and his 
family," said Cod. " And there is one stork for every 
eight families." 

" That is very obliging and useful of the birds on 
this island," interposed the Boatman. 

" In return," Cod went on, " the young Silent 
Beings, who have only taken half vows, spend some 
of their time in making traps for the animals, who 
harm the birds. The Silent Beings and the birds 
simply exchange services, and there is great sym- 
pathy between them. The young birds are punished 
for small faults by being set to catch flies for the 
Silent Beings ; the young Silent Beings on their side 
expiate their faults by carrying the train of the Presi- 
dent of the Birds. But, of course, if they are very 
bad, they are sent away to the Country of Marion- 
ettes. 

The President of the Birds was naturally a large 
peacock. He happened to be crossing the island at 
that very moment in a most majestic fashion. He was 
an exceptional bird, even for a peacock, and it seemed 
impossible that he could be as intelligent as he was 
beautiful. 

" We will ask this peacock if he thinks you are 
pretty," said the Carpenter to Melinda, remember- 
ing her vanity on the Island of Cubic Birds. But 
his joke came to nothing, for Cod hastily reminded 
him that no questions were allowed on the Island of 
Silence. He added that it would be better if they 
talked less even among themselves. 

" Tell me, all the same," said the Carpenter, " why 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




LITTLE HORN OF LEAVES WHICH COVERS THEIR FACES 



134 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

it is that the children who carry 
the Peacock's train wear that little 
horn of leaves which covers their 
faces ? ' 

" Their punishment is a purely 
personal matter," replied Cod, "so 
there is no need for other people 
to see them and make them feel 
humiliated." 

The Boatman thought to himself 
that this would be an excellent way 
of hiding. One would only need 
larger leaves and more of them. 




AN EXCELLENT WAY 
OF HIDING 



BREAKFAST. THE TRAVELLERS FIND 
FLUTE AGAIN. THEY BREAKFAST 
SITTING FACING THE SEA. MELINDA 
WANTS TO SPEAK TO A SILENT ONE. 



| 
A 



^\HE travellers had not breakfasted, and were 
almost overcome with hunger and weariness, 
but so great was their curiosity that they 
walked on and on until they came to the last Silent 
Being of all. 

' Oh ! " cried Melinda. 

* Goodness gracious ! " exclaimed the Carpenter. 

* How in the world ? " began the Boatman. 
They all stopped short, open-mouthed with sur- 

prise, before the last of the Silent Beings. 

" You may well be surprised ! " said Cod, for it 
was Flute ! 

135 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

He could see who they were, 
but he did not make the slightest 
movement to greet them, and 
Cod would not let them ap- 
proach him. All three began 
asking so many questions that 
he could not answer them all. 

" He has taken the whole vow. 
He must not move or speak," 
he explained when, at last, he 
could hear himself speak. 

" Then we have lost one of 
our friends ! ' cried Melinda, 
and fainted away. But this was 
partly because she was so 
hungry. 

Cod told them that they could 
not sit under any of the trees 
without taking at least half a 
vow of silence, but if they sat in 
a row on the beach, facing the sea, the birds would 
consider them as guests, and serve them with break- 
fast. S^ they revived Melinda with a palm leaf full 
of water, and all went and sat in a row on the sea- 
shore. 

Melinda was longing to speak to one of the Silent 
Beings. Silence always made her feel so nervous that 
she wanted to scream. She was therefore greatly 
relieved when it was suddenly broken by the crow- 
ing of a cock, which made such a shrill sound in the 
midst of the stillness that it seemed as though the 




IT WAS FLUTE 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

sky was being rent asunder. Then a cuckoo sang 
his two monotonous notes six times. 

At this double signal from the cuckoo and the cock, 
the Silent Beings moved at last and opened their 




SEAGULLS 

green cupboards for the food the storks and the 
Galipodes had placed there. The kindly creatures 
then brought food and drink for the strangers on the 
sea-shore. It was a pretty sight for the seagulls play- 
ing on the rocks to see four people sitting in a row, 
looking out over the water, eating red and yellow 
fruit, and drinking fresh water out of high cups. 

137 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

THE PURSUIT. MELINDA DISCOVERS TWO 
SILENT ONES WHO SPEAK. PURSUIT 
IN THE VALLEY. THE SILENT ONE 
ENTREATS MELINDA. MELINDA USES 
HER LITTLE ELECTRIC TORCH. THE 
SILENT ONE AND MELINDA GO 
THROUGH A CUPBOARD. A MARION- 
ETTE'S CORPSE. A PROCESSION. 



"^T^HEN do they really never speak ? " asked 
Melinda, for the hundredth time, though Cod 
A had assured her a hundred times that they 
never did. 

" If they did," he said, " they would have to go 
away to the Country of Marionettes, where the 
people are only agitated dolls, who fill their lives 
with music and vain sounds." 

" That must be much more amusing than it is 
here ; at any rate, if there is music," replied Melinda, 
but suddenly she stopped speaking for, just behind 
the hill where they were sitting, she saw two young 
Silent Beings talking together in whispers. 

" I can speak to those two anyway," she thought 
to herself. " They will have no excuse for not answer- 
ing me." She got up and walked away from her com- 
panions without being noticed. At first she went 
slowly, as though she was only taking a stroll with 
no particular object, but when she came to a curve 
in the hill, which hid her, she began to run, and ran 
as hard as she could towards the two Silent Beings. 
One of them took to his heels the moment he caught 

138 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

sight of her, and immediately disappeared, so that 
Melinda never knew what became of him. The other 
one ran in the opposite direction across a clear space, 
and Melinda did not think twice, but followed him 
as fast as her feet would carry her. 

The Silent Being took care to run through thickets 
and crevices in the hills, so that no one else should 
see him and find out that he had broken his vow. He 
jumped over streams and pushed through bushes 
and brambles, Melinda in hot pursuit, until they 
reached a deep valley, which appeared to mark the 
boundary of the Silent Country, for here the birds 
were singing. The young Silent Being was beginning 
to slacken his speed ; he was now only a few paces 
in front of Melinda. Once or twice he even threw 
himself on his knees and looked back towards her 
with imploring eyes, stretching out his hands in a 
gesture of supplication. But each time, as Melinda 
did not stop running, he jumped up again, and ran 
on as before. 

" Even if he is discovered," thought Melinda, 
" he will only have to carry the Peacock's train for a 
few days with a little horn of leaves on his head. 
There's nothing to make such a fuss about." 

She did not know that, a much graver fate awaited 
the Silent Being at the end of the valley. But he 
knew only too well, and every now and then he tried 
wildly to escape by climbing up the steep rocks that 
shut them in. But all his efforts were in vain, and at 
last the valley ended in a dark tunnel. 

There was nothing to guide Melinda but the sound 

139 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




ONCE OR TWICE HE EVEN 

of his footsteps in front of her, but she went on, 
though she was beginning to be frightened. For a 
few minutes she heard the footsteps ahead of her ; 
then they stopped, and the tunnel was absolutely 
silent. Melinda ran on, hoping to find the end of it, 
but having nothing now to guide her she continually 
knocked her head against the slimy walls, for the 
tunnel ran in twists and curves. Then, to her great 
joy, she remembered that the Carpenter had given 
her a new electric torch to take care of. She pulled 
it out of her pocket, and held it in her outstretched 
hand, so that its rays lit up the darkness, which 
surrounded her. Just in front of her she was surprised 
to see a large cupboard, the door of which was closed. 
She opened it, and saw the terrified face of the young 
Silent Being, blinking under the rays of the electric 
torch. 

Melinda tried to catch hold of him, but he escaped 
her by stepping backwards, and when she jumped 
into the cupboard to follow him she found that he 
had disappeared, and while she searched the dark 
140 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THREW HIMSELF ON HIS KNEES 



corners of the cupboard for him the floor suddenly 
began to sink, carrying her down with it. 

She found herself in a meadow starred with white 
daisies. She turned to shut the cupboard door, but 
there was no cupboard, no trace of a cupboard. She 
might have thought that she had been dreaming but 
for the young Silent Being, who was lying at her 
feet. She bent over him, and found that he was a 
Silent Being no longer ; he was now only a little 
marionette in a faint. His face was still quite drawn 
with terror. Melinda tried to revive him, but she 
had never been taught how to revive a fainting 
marionette. 

She shook him. Played on her lyre. Beat on her 
drum ; but still he did not move, so she gave it up 
at last in despair, and looked round her for help. 

The country she found herself in was more beauti- 
ful and less simple than the one she had left. It was 
all nicely painted and varnished, and the sun was 
shining brightly on the green trees and fields, and 
the red roofs of little houses in the distance. She 

141 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

longed to explore it, but she could not go away and 
leave the unconscious Marionette, so she stayed in 
the meadow and sat for a long time holding his head 
on her lap. 

She was beginning to wonder if the country was 
inhabited at all when she heard sounds coming 
towards her, confused noises of bells and drums, 
deep whistles, and shrill cries that made her think 
of a Punch and Judy show. 




; ., I ; 

MARIONETTE IN A FAINT 



142 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



THE ISLAND OF THE MARIONETTES. THE 
DEAF AND DUMB MARIONETTES. 
LOUD NOISES. THE EXTREMELY 
SOLEMN HORSEMEN. MELINDA WISHES 
TO WRITE : THREE MARIONETTES 
PREVENT HER. MELINDA IS FURIOUS. 
TWO MARIONETTES PICK UP THE 
CORPSE. 



JL 



sounds grew louder and louder, and 
presently a procession appeared in sight. 
Some of the persons in this procession were 

on horseback, some on foot ; all were gaily dressed 

and wore high-pointed, broad-brimmed hats. In 

some ways they re- 

sembled the Silent 

Beings, for the two 

countries were very 

closely connected, and 

it was the privilege of 

all good Marionettes 

to acquire voices and 

become Silent Beings 

themselves. That is to 

say that they became 

able to speak, and no 

longer wanted to do so, 

instead of being dumb 

and longing for a voice 

as they did when they 

were Marionettes. 




BROAD-BRIMMED HATS 



143 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The Marionettes consoled themselves for being 
dumb by making tremendous noises with bells, 
whistles, trumpets, and drums, which they played 




THEY DID NOT WANT HER TO WRITE 

upon with shrill cries and clattering gestures. The 
more serious ones rode on wooden horses or geese, 
or simply on sticks, which had the head of a horse, 
lion, or goose at one end, and a little wheel at the 
other to run along the ground. These cavaliers were 
all extremely dignified and majestic. 
144 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

Melinda tried to attract their attention by whist- 
ling through her fingers, but not a head in the pro- 
cession turned at the sound. It was evident that they 
could not hear any more than they could speak. 
They might, however, be able to read, so she took a 
little piece of paper and a pencil out of her pocket 
and began to write on it, using the head of the 
fainting Marionette as a writing table. 

The Marionettes, at that moment, caught sight of 
her, and three of them left the procession and came 
running towards her, solemnly waving their arms. 
It seemed as though they did not want her to write, 
and when she tried to go on, making signs that she 
would show them what she had written, one of the 
three dolls snatched the paper out of her hand, and 
tore it into tiny pieces. Tears of anger and fright 
came into Melinda's eyes ; she began to wish that 
she had not run away from reasonable, every-day 
people. She turned to look again for the passage on the 
hill by which she had come, but the hill was smooth 
and bare, and there was no trace of an opening. 
There was no escape that way ; she could only 
resolve to explore the country round in the hope of 
discovering some way of getting back to the Boat- 
man and the Carpenter, who would be in a terrible 
state of anxiety at her disappearance. 

Before setting out she decided to mark the place 
where the tunnel had been in case it appeared again, 
so she took another piece of paper and attached it to 
a branch close at hand. Instantly a Marionette rushed 
up as before, snatched the paper and tore it up into 

L 145 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

tiny pieces. Melinda stamped her foot with rage, 
and tried to hit the impertinent little things, but 
they dodged and twisted so quickly that there was 
no catching them, laughing all the time with their 




THEY DODGED AND TWISTED so QUICKLY 

big mouths wide open. She did once succeed in 
snatching one of their hats off, but the Marionette who 
had lost it only laughed louder still, and took another 
hat out of one of his pockets. She stopped at last and 
sat down and cried like a little girl lost in a wood. 
She would not have despaired so much if she had 
known that Peter and the Friend and the Drummer 
were watching a theatrical performance quite near by. 
146 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

While she was still crying, two more Marionettes 
came up carrying a long, narrow, cardboard box. 
One of them had a bell without a clapper, which he 




Two MORE MARIONETTES CAME UP 

swung to and fro. When they came closer, Melinda 
saw that the box was covered with drawings and 
signs, which she thought must mean " Repairs and 
Decorations." There was a drawing of a hammer 
knocking in a nail and another of a brush painting 

147 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

an eyebrow on a mask with black paint. She was not 
mistaken. The two Marionettes opened the box and 
took out two or three dolls tied together like a bundle 
of asparagus. Then they picked up the Marionette, 
who had once been a Silent Being, and tied him in 
with the others and put them all back in the box and 
shut the lid. They then picked it up and ran off with 
it, staring at Melinda as they went, but not as though 
they were surprised to see her. 

A PLAY. MELINDA FINDS THE FRIEND, 
PETER, AND DRUM. THEATRE IN A 
PIT. ACTORS UNDER UMBRELLAS. THEY 
ACT BLUE-BEARD. MELINDA ADVISES 
THEM TO USE GLASS UMBRELLAS. 

A FEW minutes later one of them came back, 
and to Melinda's joyful surprise he was lead- 
ing the Friend by the hand. Melinda stopped 
crying and laughed for joy, but though the Friend 
embraced her very affectionately she did not say a 
word. She had grown accustomed to living in the 
country of dumb show and only speaking in the 
evenings when she was alone with Peter and the 
Drummer. 

She led Melinda to a high wall close by and through 
a little door, which closed to behind them and Melinda 
found herself in a great round hall, which had no 
ceiling. Two rows of chairs were placed all the way 
round it, and just beyond the chairs the floor was 
sunk to a depth of about ten feet, so that the people 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

sitting in the chairs had to bend down to see what 
was happening below. 
In the midst of a profound silence Melinda was 




-J'tB. 

MELINDA STOPPED CRYING AND LAUGHED FOR JOY 

shown to a seat near to Peter and the Drummer, who 
were both in the audience. Peter saluted her gravely, 
and took no further notice of her. He seemed quite 
absorbed in what was going on beneath him. The 
Drummer bowed and smiled, but he made a sign 

149 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

that she must not make any dis- 
turbance by talking. 

Melinda leant over in her chair and 
saw that a play was being acted ; the 
actors looked like people in the street 
seen from a first floor window, their 
heads seemed enormous and their 
bodies very small. But it was quite 
easy to follow the action of the play 
by their gestures and by their bright 
clothes, and Melinda did not take 

HE SEEMED QUITE ABSORBED l ong to guess fatf fl^y WC re acting 




the play of " Bluebeard and His Seven Wives." The 
Marionettes sitting near her were moved to tears by 
the performance, and this as well as a light shower, 
which had begun to fall, made it necessary for the 
actors to put up umbrellas. Soon the tops of the 
umbrellas were all that could be seen from above, 
and the umbrellas were so large that the actors them- 
selves could hardly see one another. 

Each umbrella had a round spot of colour painted 
on it, and all the colours were different. 

' That is an invention of Peter's," whispered the 
Friend in Melinda's ear. She was quite as proud of 
the invention as Peter himself, and Peter was as in- 
terested in the play as if he had been the author. 

* What invention ? " asked Melinda. 
! The umbrellas, of course." 

'* But one can see nothing," said Melinda, im- 
patiently. 

* But Peter was careful to put a colour-sign on 
150 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

every umbrella," continued the Friend with an 
admiring look at Peter. 

" But what do the colour-signs mean ? ' asked 
Melinda, whispering so as not to disturb the others, 
whose attention was rivetted on the play. 

" You need only look there," replied the Friend, 
and pointed to a row of figures painted on the wall 
of the sunken stage. These drawings represented 
the characters in the play, Bluebeard, the seven 
wives, Sister Anne, and the two brothers. Under 
each figure was painted a round spot of colour, and 
Melinda saw that these colour-signs corresponded 
with the ones on the umbrellas, so that the audience 
could tell which actor was 



playing under each umbrella. 

Although the performance 
was certainly very original, 
Melinda found it too vague 
to please her. She leant across 
to Peter and remarked : 

" You might, at least, have 
had the umbrellas made of 
glass so that one could see 
the actors. 

Peter's face lit up, and he 
shook Melinda warmly by 
the hand. 

44 It is a magnificent sug- 
gestion ! " he said," and I shall 
certainly make use of it." 

This was the second time PLAYING UNDER EACH UMBRELLA 




WEIRD ISLANDS 




152 



ALL THAT COULD BE 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




J3 ossc 

SEEN FROM ABOVE 



153 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




HURRIEDLY PICKED IT UP 



that Melinda had assisted in 
an important undertaking. 
The first time was when 
she had proposed a visit to 
the terrible Island of Bali- 
goors, where they had found 
and rescued Cod. 

At this moment a large 
object fell at Drummer's 
feet, who hurriedly picked 
it up and hid it under his 
clothes. They had all seen 
that it was a Marionette's 
head, but said no word, as 
they did not know how far 
it might not be criminal to 
have the head of a Marion- 
ette in one's pocket. 



THE MARIONETTES' FIRE. THEY SPEAK 
OF THE BALIGOORS. WHY MELINDA 
COULD NOT WRITE. THE SAILORS 
FEED THEIR FIRE WITH SLEEPING 
MARIONETTES. 

WHEN the performance was over, the 
travellers left the hall in the midst of a 
crowd of Marionettes, but as soon as 
possible they managed to walk away together and 
congratulate each other on being together again. 

Melinda told them how Flute had found a coun- 
try which was entirely to his satisfaction. 

154 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" And the Captain ? " asked the Drummer. 

11 Who do you mean ? " said Melinda. 

" The master of the Blueboat, who floated away 
in a barrel, of course," said the Drummer. 

" He is with Flute and Cod and the Carpenter in 
the Island of Silence," replied Melinda. " The Car- 
penter, too, is well, and so is Cod except that the 
Baligoors stole his pretty fish costume and he has 
nothing to wear except a warm, brown cloak ! ' 

" Who are the Baligoors," asked everyone at once, 
and so Melinda had to tell them the story the reader 
has already been told in the preceding chapters of 
this truthful history. None of them had seen any- 
thing of the fight between the Carpenter and the 
Black Cavalier. 

" At that time we must have been on the Island 
of Long Women," said the Drummer, and then it 
was Melinda's turn to ask questions. 

" Bing and Sun-and-Moon are still there," said 
the Friend in a disgusted voice. Melinda felt a little 
ashamed of not having asked for news of them be- 
fore, but as it seemed to be a sore subject for the 
others she did not ask for more information, but 
simply said " Ah ! " and changed the subject. 

" The Marionettes on this Island," she began 
rather angrily, " have no manners at all. Twice when 
I wanted to write they snatched away the paper and 
tore it into tiny pieces." 

" That is not surprising," said Peter, laughing at 
her cross little voice. " Anything written makes 
them remember a terrible tragedy that was the end 

155 



A POST ON THE 
BEACH 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

of some of their comrades, and they 
regard all writing as a danger. We have 
to hide our notebooks and pencils, and 
even hide ourselves when we want to 
write our diaries." 

Peter said " our diaries," but, as a 
matter of fact, he was the only one who 
troubled to take notes on his journey. 

" Do you know anything about the 
tragedy ? " asked Melinda. 

" I know more or less what happened, " 
said Peter. " One of the Marionettes on 
horseback told me about it by signs, 
and I understood pretty well. One day, 
a long time ago, the Marionettes found 
a shipwrecked mariner, cast up by the 
sea on the shore of their Island. They 
treated him with great kindness and 
consideration, fed him well, and gave 
him a nice suit of Marionette clothes. 
After a while, however, he wanted to 
return to his own country, so he set up 
a post on the beach with a piece of 
white paper pinned on to it for a signal. 
Soon afterwards the signal was noticed 
by a passing ship, which landed on the 
Island and carried him away. But before 
he went he wrote a message on the 
paper, the first writing the Marionettes 
had ever seen, very likely nothing more 



than a message of gratitude and farewell. 

156 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" One night, a little 
while afterwards, an 
old Marionette, fish- 
ing on the rocks by 
moonlight, saw a 
party of men land 
their boat on the 
beach near to where 
the paper was still 
fluttering on the post. 
It seems that the 
strange men went up 
to it and read it, and 
saw that the man who 
wrote it had been 
rescued. Then they 
started to make a fire, 
and as there was not 
much wood to be 
found, they picked up some Marionettes who were 
peacefully sleeping under some trees close by, and 
tossed them into the flames to make the fire burn 
more brightly. They were only stupid sailor-men, 
and could not imagine that a Marionette might have 
feelings. They thought the Marionettes were only 
cast-off toys, and they built the fire high up, making 
it sparkle and crackle, while they sat round it, laugh- 
ing and talking. 

' And now nothing will convince the Marionettes 
that the castaway had not left a written order for 
those men to burn their brothers and sisters, for it 

157 




STUPID SAILOR-MEN 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

was directly after reading the paper that they 
committed the dreadful crime of throwing noble 
Marionettes into the fire." 



ALL THE TRAVELLERS RE-UNITE. THE 
CARPENTER WITH THE AEROPLANE 
FINDS MELINDA. THEY RETURN TO 
THE ISLAND OF SILENCE. FLUTE BE- 
GINS THE CONCERT. THE VIOLIN 
ACCOMPANIED BY THE MANDOLINE. 
THE SEA MURMURS ALONE IN THE 
DISTANCE. 

"^ ^HEN, of course, I can understand their 
terror at seeing me write," said Melinda. 
JL " But they might have seen that I wasn't a 
bit like those stupid, cruel sailors." 

' But we are not judged very kindly on these 
Islands, dear Melinda," said a voice at her elbow. 
She looked round, and saw that it was the Carpenter, 
who had come to look for her in his aeroplane. " Re- 
member what the Tortoise with the long paws said 
about you on the Island of the Baligoors," went on 
the Carpenter in a winning voice. 

Melinda shook her two fists at him for reminding 
her of the tortoise, who had said in such a shameless 
way that she was the only one of them who looked 
as cruel as the Baligoors. She was very pleased to see 
the Carpenter again, however, and the others greeted 
him like a long-lost brother, for although they had 
only known him for a very short time, and his 

158 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

journey with them had been almost an accident, they 
had all become quite attached to him, because he was 
so gentle and good-tempered. 




TORTOISE WITH THE LONG PAWS 

They wanted to show Melinda and the Carpenter 
all the wonderful things that could be seen in the 
country of Marionettes, but the Carpenter, who was 
growing wiser and wiser with experience, insisted 
that they should hurry back to the Island of Silence 
while the daylight lasted. So he and Melinda flew 
off in the aeroplane. The other three embarked in 
their half-boat, which they had learnt to manage 
very cleverly, and steered it towards the spot where 
they saw the aeroplane descend. 

It was a lovely night when they all arrived on the 

159 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

Island of Silence. They sat in a row on the beach 
facing the sea, and supped together on bread and 
fruit, and watched the stars overhead. 

There were now eight of them together again, 
because they sat so near Flute that he became one of 
the party, and could hear their conversation. In spite 
of his vows, he must have felt a great curiosity about 
his friends' adventures . They were too tired to talk very 
much, however, but just sat quietly, listening to the 
sound of the waves, and the nightingale that was singing. 
Presently Flute began to play on his sad clarionet, 
for his vows did not forbid music. The nightingale 
at once stopped her song and flew away to bed. 
Flute's tune was very melancholy, so Melinda 
began to beat a gay dance on her 
little drum as a protest, and the 
Drummer followed suit. Then every- 
one began to play, and as you may 
remember they had not brought their 
conductor with them, everyone played 
a different tune. They were very clever 
musicians. The Carpenter, whose 
knowledge of music was confined to 
the one lesson Melinda had given him 
in the palm tree on the Round Island, 
could not pretend to understand their 
music, so he said nothing for fear of 
appearing ignorant. The only part he 
really liked was the sweet song Peter 
played on his violin, accompanied by 
THEIR CONDUCTOR the Friend on her weeping mandoline. 
1 60 




WEIRD ISLANDS 

By the time the concert was ended the moon had 
risen, and the moonlight threw delicate green and 




PETER PLAYED ON HIS VIOLIN 

silver reflections on the bright costumes of the 
musicians. Even Cod looked beautiful for Melinda 

M 161 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

had fastened a little garland of flowers on the warm, 
brown cloak, which was all he had to wear. 

They spent the rest of the night recounting to each 
other all their separate adventures. Peter began, his 
voice whispering through the air like a breeze. 

THE ISLAND OF LONG WOMEN. BING AND 
SUN-AND-MOON. THEY MEET TWO 
OF THE TRAVELLERS AGAIN. THE 
LENGTH OF THESE TWO. FIVE CAST- 
AWAYS LAND ON THE ISLAND OF LONG 
WOMEN. DESCRIPTION OF THE WOMEN 
AND MEN OF THE ISLAND 

ONE of you will have forgotten the flock of 
whales, whose gambols separated us, as we 
set out from the wreck of the Blue Boat," 
he began. " When the whale, who was playing with 
our half -boat grew tired of his game, we found our- 
selves quite close to an island. The sea was calm by 
then, and we were drifting gently towards the land, 
when we suddenly became aware that our friends, 
Bing and Sun-and-Moon, were getting into diffi- 
culties. The whale, who had been following them, 
was still playing delightedly with their two barrels 
joined by a rope. She was a very gentle creature like 
all whales, and had done them no harm so far, but all 
of a sudden she took it into her head to dive under 
the rope, so that when she came up again she lifted 
the barrels clean out of the water, one on each side 
of her back, like a donkey carrying baskets. The 
162 




WEIRD ISLANDS 




LIKE A DONKEY CARRYING BASKETS 



163 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

whale seemed quite unconscious of her burden, and 
they did not dare to cry out, for fear she should be 
frightened and dive under the water with them, but 
when they happened to pass close by our boat, Bing 
began playing very softly on his castanets, and Sun- 
and-Moon on his bag-pipes. We did not particularly 
want to attract the whale's attention, so the Drummer 
stood up, and, taking out his knife, made a dumb 
show of cutting a rope with it. Sun-and-Moon, who 
is simply a lunatic, could think of nothing but the 
splendid adventure of riding in a barrel on the back 
of a whale, and, as he told us afterwards, he was 
comparing his immediate impressions with those of 
his childhood when he had ridden on an elephant 
at the Zoo. He must have decided that his present 
experience was the more wonderful of the two, for 
nothing could distract him, and he had wisely con- 
fided his destinies to Bing, who was more practical. 

Bing understood the Drummer's signs at once, 
and cut the rope that held the two barrels together, 
so that they slipped down the sides of the whale into 
the water. The whale noticed nothing, and swam 
steadily away, her mind occupied, no doubt, with 
pleasant memories. We hastened to rescue Bing and 
Sun-and-Moon. I was never so struck by the extra- 
ordinary length of our two friends, as when they 
came out of their barrels ; they seemed endless, like 
macaroni. 

There were now five of us on the half-boat, and 
we only just managed to keep our balance. Fortun- 
ately the current was driving us steadily towards the 
164 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE EXTRAORDINARY LENGTH OF OUR Two FRIENDS 



165 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

land, and very soon we felt the keel scraping over 
sand. We jumped out and pulled the boat to shore. 

We were immediately surrounded by a crowd of 
strange people, who were evidently the inhabitants 
of the Island. They seemed pleasant people, and 
were not bad-looking, though very thin, except that 
the women had enormous feet. 

The women were, in fact, altogether gigantic, 
taller even than Bing and Sun-and-Moon. They 
wore huge earrings, half hidden by their hair, which 
was very thick and quite straight and reached down 
to their knees. Their wide belts were ornamented to 
match their earrings. Their noses turned up a little 
at the end, and their mouths were too large, but they 
had long, graceful necks and pretty dimples, and their 
hands were long and shapely. 

They wore short, simple dresses and sandals 
mounted on wooden clogs, it is difficult to guess 
why, unless it was to make them look still taller. 

They were gentle creatures, except when they 
thought fit to lose their tempers, but they were alto- 
gether a great deal too big ; and the worst of it was 
that the men were unusually small, much smaller 
than I am. They, too, were very gentle, and they had 
nice little round heads, neatly finished with a little 
square beard and a moustache as small and round as 
a farthing. They had small feet, and their costume 
consisted of a very wide sash and a round hat and 
neat little shoes. When they went for walks with the 
ladies they made themselves taller by hoisting them- 
selves on stilts. 
166 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




HOISTING THEMSELVES ON STILTS 



167 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" The Island itself was very lovely . . ." 

" Horrible you mean ! " interrupted the Friend. 

" Very well, then, I will tell my story without 
comment," said Peter. " The others will be able to 
judge afterwards what sort of Island it was." 

"You know perfectly well that it was horrible," 
the Friend persisted. She had begun to brush Peter 's 
clothes with a little ivory brush as she spoke. 

" Oh, do let me go on ! " said Peter. 

" Well, then, try to be truthful," snapped the 
Friend. 



TWO MARRIAGES. A BANQUET. THE TWO 
BETROTHED LONG GIRLS. THE FRIEND 
IS ANGRY. DELEGATION OF PATRI- 
ARCHS AND AMBASSADORS. THE CHAR- 
IOTS. BING AND SUN-AND-MOON 
REPLY. 

""\ 7 rRY we ^' tnen " continued Peter, "every- 

\/ one on the Island seemed pleased to see us. 

T It was obvious that the Long Women were 

most attracted by Sun-and-Moon, who is thin and 

long, and Bing, who is long and stout. They did not 

have to bend their heads very much to talk to them, 

and they had to bend right down to talk to their own 

menfolk. 

" They welcomed us with great hospitality and a 
gorgeous banquet was held in our honour. Two little 
men stood, one on each side of the Friend to serve 
her. They stood because if they had been seated they 
1 68 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



would have been too small. 
Four Long Women served 
the rest of us out of silver 
dishes. One of them, a pretty 
girl with bright eyes, seemed 
to have fallen in love with 
Bing. The poor dear had 
evidently noticed that her 
feet were much larger than 
his, for she had put on a 
long skirt and taken off her 
clogs, to try and hide them. 
It was touching to see how 
much she admired Bing for 
being so stout and tall. As I 
have said, she was quite 
pretty. . . ." 

" Pretty ! No ! " inter- 
rupted the Friend again. 
" Not even if she had tied 
back her carroty hair, and 
not allowed it to fly about 
all over the place ! " 

"Sun-and-Moon," Peter 
went on in his gentle fly-like 
voice, " was no less admired. 
A dark girl only a head or 
so taller than himself, began 
to worship him as soon as 
she set eyes on him. When 
he played on the bag-pipes 




SUN-AND-MOON 



169 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

after the banquet she fainted right away, so intense 
was her admiration. 

" Another of them stationed herself beside the 
Drummer, but he began to beat on his drum with all 
his might, and made such a horrible noise that he 
scared her away, and made everyone else extremely 
uncomfortable . ' ' 

" It was the only way to get rid of her," 
said the Drummer. " She looked like an 
enormous skinny doll." 

" She was quite pretty you must admit, " 
said Peter. 

" A great monkey ! " said the Drummer, 
crossly. 

" I myself " Peter began again. 
" Be quiet ! " cried the Friend. " You 
had another silly doll to look after you. 
She was all pink, except her flaxen hair. 
A stupid, nonsensical puppet ! ' 

" Perhaps you will go on with the story, 
dear Friend," said Peter indulgently. But 
the Friend shook her head and kissed him 
on the forehead, while she stroked his hair. 
She had a heart of gold, and she was very 
seldom cross. 

' You may have guessed what happened, " 
Peter went on, " according to the custom 
of the Island of Long Women, next day 
Bing and Sun-and-Moon were ceremon- 
AN ENORMOUS iousl y sought in marriage. 
SKINNY DOLL " A delegation arrived at the door of the 
170 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

house which had been lent us. They came in big low 
chariots, very comfortably arranged, with books and 
elegant provisions, chess boards, and even billiard 
tables. You see the delegation had to wait for a reply 
from Bing and Sun-and-Moon, and according to the 
custom of the country they were given two days to 
consider it. The two girls came as well, both on the 
same chariot, magnificently dressed and covered 
with flowers. 

" When the foremost chariot drew up at our door 
a hundred little dancers immediately jumped out of 
it and began to perform a marvellous and compli- 
cated ballet, to the accompaniment of music played 
by a hundred musicians, who came in the second 
chariot. 

" When this was over, more chariots arrived with 
people carrying symbolic banners. These people 
formed themselves into two ranks, between which 
the oldest and wisest men in the country came for- 
ward to meet us. The old men made signs, which 
we could not understand, and then bowed low in 
salutation and remained bent almost double as 
though they were playing honey pots. It was quite 
painful to watch them, for they refused absolutely 
to get up. Presently some of the younger men came 
and held them up, or they would have fallen over." 

Everyone looked at Bing and Sun-and-Moon, 
who thought they were to reply at once to the pro- 
posals that had been made to them, so they both 
said " Yes ! We will," as loudly as they could. But 
still the old men did not get up, and someone 

171 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE FOREMOST CHARIOT 



172 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




DREW UP AT OUR DOOR 



173 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

explained to them that they must approach and kneel 
on the ground so that they could look into the faces 
of the old men, and state their names and positions. 




BOWED Low IN SALUTATION 

Bing was first. 

" I am Bing," he said. " I generally live in London. 
I play on the castanets, and sometimes wear a mask. 
I was wrecked in the Blue Boat and that is how I 
find myself on this Island." 

Then it was the turn of Sun-and-Moon. 
* I am Sun-and-Moon," he announced. " I am 
the most eminent poet and player on the bagpipes 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




DANCING AND Music STARTED AGAIN 

in London, and I have many more titles besides, I 
was wrecked in the Blue Boat with Bing, and that is 
how I find myself on this Island." 
Then they were asked to decide before the sun 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

set on the following day, whether or no they would 
accept the two girls in marriage. The old men stood 
up again and gave them each a sheet of purple silk, 
fringed with gold, on which they were to write their 




BLEW LOUDLY ON THEIR SILVER TRUMPETS 



answer. Then the dancing and music started again, 
and the old men retired to their chariots, leaving 
two heralds, dressed in green, with silver trumpets, 
standing at the door of our house. The chariots 
stayed near by, and the people in them were as 
comfortable as though they had been at home. It 
was like a big camp, with a crowd of holiday-makers. 
Bing and Sun-and-Moon asked us for our advice, 
but the Friend and I refused to have anything to do 
176 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

in the matter. You see, we knew quite well that 
nothing we could say would prevent them from 
marrying the pretty Long Women. 

We were right ; they wrote " Yes ! ' in large 
letters on the purple silk, and signed their names, 
though they knew that their consent would prevent 
them from ever leaving the Island again. 

When the green heralds saw their answer, they 
blew loudly on their silver trumpets and everyone 
rejoiced. The two girls shed tears of happiness. The 
Friend and the Drummer were invited to the wed- 
ding festivities with great ceremony. I myself was 
asked to stay in the house a little while longer. 

PETER REFUSES. MORE CEREMONIES. THE 
FAIR GIRL TEARS HER HAIR. PETER 
REFUSES AND WARNS HIS FRIENDS. 
THEY LEAVE THE ISLAND AND THE 
FEAST CONTINUES. 

EFORE long I knew the reason for this cur- 
demand. Scarcely was one set of chariots 
of sight than another procession arrived 
at the door, and the whole ceremony started again. 
This time it was I who received a proposal of mar- 
riage. 

* It appeared that a very pretty girl with golden 
hair had fallen in love with me ! ' 

The Friend flushed angrily at the memory of this 
incident, but she did not interrupt, so Peter smiled 
and went on. 

N 177 





WEIRD ISLANDS 



TEARING HER GOLDEN HAIR 

178 



" 1 was given the custom- 
ary two days for reflection, 
but it did not take me long 
to decide. I did not want to 
marry a strange woman, and 
live for the rest of my life in 
a country so different from 
my own, so I lost no time 
in finding out how I could 
politely refuse the offer. I 
discovered that the custom 
was simple enough ; a native 
of the country could refuse 
if he liked, but the only alter- 
native for a stranger was to 
leave the Island altogether. 

" It took me so long to 
discover what I ought to do 
that the girl grew impatient 
and sent a messenger for my 
answer, regardless of all 
social rules. I sent him back 
with my polite excuses, 
saying that, as I had an 
engagement to sing in an 
opera, and she could not 
leave the Island, it would be 
impossible for us to marry. 

" When she heard this she 
became furious with anger, 
and stood up in her chariot 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

screaming and tearing her golden hair and flinging 
away her flowers and jewels. The sight of her 
temper made me fearful for the safety of Bing 
and Sun-and-Moon, but they are bigger than most 
people, so I dare say they will be able to take care 
of themselves. 

" I managed to send a message to the other two, 
and they escaped from the wedding festivities as 
soon as they could. The Friend came, holding a pear 
in one hand, and seven pretty fans in the other. Then 
we took flight as quickly as possible, for it seemed 
unsafe to stay longer on an Island where the women 
indulged in such sudden fits of rage. 

" We found some pieces of wood for oars, and 
launched our half-boat successfully in a river not 
far from the sea. Fountains were beginning to play, 
and fireworks were being lit in honour of the wedding 
as we rowed hurriedly down the river. There was 
also a torchlight procession, but as it was still 
broad daylight, the torches had not been lit. Here 
is one of the flowers the girl threw at me in her 
temper." 

He held out a big red flower for them to see. 

"After some tossing at sea," he went on, "we 
succeeded in landing on the Island where you found 
us. I had counted on reforming the theatre there," 
he added thoughtfully, " but now I think it would 
be more interesting to produce the effects I have 
discovered here at a good theatre in London." 



179 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

THE CASTAWAYS THINK OF THE FUTURE. 
THEY RECOGNIZE THE ISLANDS. AN 
ISLAND WITHOUT A SINGLE TREE. 
INTELLIGENT MEN. THEY SET OUT 
FOR ANOTHER ISLAND. 

IN spite of their frivolity, the time had come when 
the travellers had to stop and think about the 
future. Their uncertain situation would not have 
troubled them at all if they had been sure that a good big 
boat was coming to take them back to London in time 
for the opera season. As things were, however, there 
did not seem to be any way for them to return home. 
The petrol in the aeroplane was getting so low that 
there was barely enough left for a short stroll in the 
air round the Islands ; certainly not enough for the 
long voyage back to London. And the Carpenter 
was wise enough to refuse to make use of what there 
was except for real and urgent reasons. 

There was nothing to prevent them from staying 
on the Island of Silence. It was very quiet and pleas- 
ant and an ideal place for concerts, but somehow 
they could not decide to stay in the same place for 
the rest of their lives, and when the night was over 
and dawn began to appear in the sky, they were still 
sitting in a row on the shore, gazing expectantly at 
the horizon. 

As the sun rose and the light grew stronger, they 
could see the other Islands dotted about on the 
water, some near, some far away, some that they 
knew by sight, and some they did not recognise. 
1 80 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

One of them had caught the first rays of the sun, 
and stood out more distinctly than the rest. It was 
especially noticeable, too, on account of its queer 
shape. It was almost as high as it was broad, and as 




A GOOD BIG BOAT 

the daylight grew they saw that it was bare and rocky 
and that its outline formed a series of right angles. 
There did not seem to be a single tree. 

At times like this the vows of the Silent Beings 
became very inconvenient. If only they could have 
spoken they could have explained all that the trav- 
ellers wanted to know about the strange Island. It 
was still more unfortunate that the Boatman had 
lost his lacquer box, for it had contained a telescope, 
which would have been very useful just then. 

" It looks as though it had been built up with 
blocks all the same size, like the ones they sell in 

181 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




182 



BUILT UP WITH BLOCKS 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

toy-shops," said the Drummer, who had good eye- 
sight. 

" It may be a mirage," suggested Cod, sleepily. 
Cod was so lazy that he was never quite awake what- 
ever happened. 

" If it is a mirage it will soon disappear," said 
Peter. 

" I agree with the Drummer that it looks as though 
someone built it," said the Carpenter. " And if so," 
he added, " there must be civilised people on it. 
Everyone nodded agreement except Cod, who had 
gone to sleep again. 

" Then we had better try and get there," said the 
Carpenter. " If it is civilised we shall be able to find 
out where we are, and what is the best way to get 
back to London." It was astonishing how wise and 
courageous the Carpenter had become, since he had 
set out to buy an instrument in a shop. Travelling 
develops the reason ; all of them, including even 
Cod, were more serious and prudent than when 
they had taken their mad departure in the Blue 
Boat. 

" Then you will not refuse, dear Carpenter, to go 
over there in your aeroplane, and find out if the 
people will receive us with hospitality ? ' pleaded 
Peter in his soft little voice. 

" It looks so far, I am afraid I have not enough 
petrol to go there and back again," faltered the 
Carpenter. 

" Well let us all go without being announced," 
said everyone at once. And that is what they did. 

183 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

THE BUILDER'S ISLAND. THE WRECK AND 
THE AEROPLANE LEAVE THE ISLAND 
OF LONG WOMEN. FLUTE HAS REFUSED 
TO ACCOMPANY HIS FRIENDS. DES- 
CRIPTION OF THE BUILDER'S ISLAND. 
THE CYCLOPS. THEY GO UP A STAIR- 
CASE, AND MELINDA ASCENDS IN A 
BASKET. THE AEROPLANE IS DRAWN 
UP TO THE TOP OF THE ISLAND. 



I 



loaded the half-boat with all their pos- 
sessions, and begged some fruit and a pitcher 
of water from the birds as provisions in case 
the strange Island was not civilised after all. The 
aeroplane was folded up and packed with the other 
things, as it was only to be used in case of emergency. 
Melinda had unfortunately lost the magic diamond 
in the dark tunnel, which had led her to the country 
of Marionettes, so the Carpenter could not make the 
aeroplane small enough to go in his pocket. 

Before starting they begged Flute earnestly to 
come with them, but he obstinately refused to listen 
to their pleading and advice. He merely nodded his 
head twice and then shook it, which meant : 

' I shall live here for the rest of my days," and no 
doubt he is living there still. 

So they had to launch the half -boat without him, 
and they rowed so hard with the branches they had 
cut for oars that presently they were quite close to 
the tall Island. It was a very strange place. In all their 
travels they had never seen anything like it before. 
184 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




STRANGE-LOOKING CREATURES 



185 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

The whole Island was one enormous town, and 
the houses had been built one on top of another, until 
some of them were so high in the air that they looked 
as though they would topple over into the sea. The 
building must have gone on for hundreds of years, 
so that when all the space on the ground had been 
used up the builders had gone on building upwards 
towards the sky, laying the foundations of new houses 
on the roofs of the old ones. The lower houses seemed 
to be quite empty, like shells left on the beach when 
the fishes that lived inside them are dead. Only the 
upper houses were inhabited, as though the builders 
lost interest in what was completed and only wanted 
to go on and build more. 

At first the voyagers could see no sign of life at all, 
but presently they saw people leaning out of the 
upper windows and over unfinished walls. They 
were strange-looking creatures, for they had only 
one eye, which was placed in the middle of their 
foreheads. 

' We are not safe after all," said Melinda tear- 
fully. " Even the Baligoors had two eyes in their 
heads like other reasonable people." 

:< All the same, they must be very intelligent and 
civilised to have built all these houses," Peter re- 
minded her. 

Meanwhile more and more of the Cyclops, as the 
one-eyed builders were called, appeared at the 
windows of their houses to gaze at the new-comers. 
It was quite uncomfortable to be stared at by so 
many people with only one eye, and there seemed to 
186 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

be no way of explaining why they had come or ask- 
ing for help. But presently a little door opened near 
to the spot where the boat was lying, and one of the 




TO GAZE AT THE NEW- COMERS 



Cyclops appeared in the door- way. Just behind him 
they could see the beginning of a stair inside a high 
tower, which seemed to lead to the top of the whole 
construction. There were many of these towers, and 
evidently each contained a staircase, but this was 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

not the only way of reaching the upper houses, for 
at the same moment that the little door was opened 
they saw a basket being let down by a crane from 
above. The basket was lowered until it was close to 
the boat, and then the Cyclops invited the travellers 
to ascend, either by the basket or the staircase, as it 
pleased them. Melinda, who loved travelling by air, 
chose the basket. She stepped into it, and immedi- 
ately it was pulled up to the summit. At the same 
time the Drummer, the Boatman and Cod, and 
Peter and the Friend began mounting the staircase 
one after the other at the heels of the Cyclop, who 
turned round at every turn of the stairs to make sure 
that they were really following. He seemed quite 
feverish with surprise and excitement. Peter sus- 
pected treachery, and indeed none of them felt at 
their ease about the future. 

The Carpenter, who had stayed behind to fasten 
the boat, signed to the Cyclops above that he wanted 
to send up the box which held the aeroplane, for he 
did not think it would be safe to leave it behind. 
The Cyclops seemed to understand his signs, for 
they sent down multitudes of cords with which he 
fastened the box as securely as he could. It was at 
once drawn upwards, and the basket, which had 
carried Melinda, was let down again for the Car- 
penter. 




188 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




IT WAS AT ONCE DRAWN UPWARDS 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

THE POWER OF MUSIC. THE TRAVELLERS 
ARE COLDLY RECEIVED. THEY PLAY 
SOME MUSIC. THE CYCLOPS ARE 
CHARMED. THEY EXAMINE THE IN- 
STRUMENTS. PETER PLAYS THE 
VIOLIN. A STRANGE NOISE IS HEARD 
AROUND THEM. THE NOISE STOPS 

THEY found themselves on a sort of terrace at 
the very summit of the houses. They were 
surrounded by a crowd of Cyclops, who gazed 
at them silently, their one-eyes bright with interest. 
The Cyclops seemed to find it amusing and grotesque 
that the strangers had two eyes in their faces in- 
stead of one, but their brightly coloured clothes 
evidently excited envy and admiration. Presently the 
Cyclops began to ask them questions, who they were, 
where they had come from, and what adventures 
they had had on the way. But the travellers felt 
much too tired and shy to answer questions, and 
Melinda and the Friend were praying for the dark- 
ness to come quickly : they felt so embarrassed and 
frightened at being gazed at by a crowd of people 
with only one eye. Curiosity in two eyes is quite an 
ordinary thing ! 

The Cyclops were crowding very near ; they 
seemed to be on guard. There was a long and trying 
silence. 

* Shall we have some music ? ' 

' That might, perhaps, distract their immoderate 
curiosity," said Peter, and as he had not yet spoken 
190 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

his shrill little voice came as a new surprise to the 
Cyclops. 

The musicians tuned up their instruments and 
began to play. The Cyclops were immediately pros- 
trated with surprise and fear. They bowed their 
heads, and no one moved or spoke. If one of them 
had lifted his head a little you could have seen that 
his eye was full of terror and veneration. 

The musicians, feeling more at ease, produced 
some wonderful music. They played on for a long 
time in the gathering dusk that deepened to a moon- 
less night. 

When at last they stopped, the Cyclops picked 
themselves up and crouched round them once more. 
The charm exercised on them by the music was 
broken. They came and asked to inspect the musical 
instruments, and took them very carefully in their 
hands. The Carpenter 's saw pleased them most ; 
wood was unknown to them, and they had never 
seen such a thing before. Their buildings were made 
partly of iron and partly of enormous bricks, so big 
and heavy that it took two men to carry them. 

Melinda's little drum, and the Drummer's big one, 
seemed to the Cyclops very mysterious arrange- 
ments, and as for Melinda's lyre, Peter's violin, and 
the Friend's mandoline, they scarcely dared to touch 
them at all. The Boatman's pipe, and Cod's little 
flute, escaped notice, but they touched the musicians' 
garments with curious fingers, and looked hard at 
their two eyes. And all this time the Cyclops said 
nothing at all friendly or sympathetic. , 

191 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

Far away in the distance below them they could 
hear the sea peacefully murmuring, but the night 
was very dark and the crowd of Cyclops came closer 




MELINDA'S LITTLE DRUM AND THE DRUMMER'S BIG ONE 

and closer. There must have been more than a thou- 
sand of them. 

Peter had a bright idea. 

He drew several high notes from his violin, and 
192 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

the Cyclops immediately 
drew away to allow room 
for prostrating them- 
selves. It was too dark to 
see how far they were, 
but their voices sounded 
far away in the distance. 

The other musicians 
followed Peter's exam- 
ple, and went on playing 
and playing, as this 
seemed the only way of 
keeping the indiscreet 
and unamiable creatures 
at a distance. 

It is terrible to think 
of their piteous plight, 
unable to take a mo- 
ment's rest, and with no refreshment of any kind. 

Whenever they played softly they heard strange 
noises going on around them ; there could not have 
been more noise if the tower of Babel were being 
built again in a single night. It was clear that the 
Cyclops were trying to deaden the sound of the music 
by the noise of their work, but it would have taken 
much more noise than that to drown the music the 
musicians were playing. 

It was so dark that they could not guess what it 
was that the Cyclops were building, but it seemed 
to them that the mysterious noises were growing 
upwards all round them. 




THE CYCLOPS IMMEDIATELY DREW AWAY 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE CYCLOPS WERE BUILDING 



194 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" It seems to me that the sky is lighter," said 
Peter, as they paused for a moment to rest. 

" The dawn is appearing," said the Boatman. 

" The noise seems to have stopped," said the 
Drummer. They were just able to see each other 

through the dispersing darkness. 

\ 

PRISONERS ! THEY ARE SURROUNDED 
BY A HIGH WALL. THEY MUST 
DIE OF HUNGER OR LIVE LIKE 
BEARS IN A PIT. THEY HEAR AN 
ENGINE. THE "LEMON OF GOLD" 
REAPPEARS. IT DRAWS THE PRISONERS 
FROM THE PIT. THEY REACH KENS- 
INGTON GARDENS. 

IT was true ; the noise had changed to a com- 
plete silence. It must have been because the 
Cyclops had gone to rest, and were in a deep 
sleep after their great efforts. 

* I feel caged like a prisoner," said Peter, in a 
melancholy voice to Cod, who was sitting next to 
him. 

" I feel dreadfully home-sick," said the Friend, 
and Melinda was nearly crying. 

" Whatever happens we must get away from these 
heartless creatures," said the Drummer. ' They 
seem to have the same sort of curiosity about us as 
collectors have for the insects they catch." 

" I like insects," said the Carpenter rather crossly. 
* I collect them myself." 

195 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

"But look ! " cried the Boatman, in a voice full of 
disagreeable surprise. " Look ! There is only a small 
circle of sky above us ! ' 

They looked and saw that there was only a small 
round disc of pale blue above their heads. The open 




IN A DEEP SLEEP 

sky, which had been all round them the night be- 
fore, had gone. This was in no way surprising, for 
they were now surrounded by an immense wall, 
which the Cyclops had built round them in the 
night. A thousand of them had worked all night long 
in couples carrying their enormous bricks to make a 
cage for the seven musicians. That was why there 
196 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

had been so much noise in the night, and why the 
Cyclops were sleeping off their fatigue now their 
work was done. The musicians were out of reach of 
the world, at the bottom of a sort of well. 

" They will starve us to death," said the Boatman, 
weeping. 

" No, they will keep us alive by throwing down buns 
to us, as though we were brown bears at the Zoo." 

" They want us for their pleasure. Our music has 
enchanted them ; they will keep us alive to give 
them concerts," said the Drummer. 

" They have made themselves comfortable seats 
at the top of the wall so that they can listen to us at 
their ease," said Cod, pointing upwards. 

The sun rose higher in the sky, and soon it was 
broad day, but there was still no sound from the 
Cyclops. None of the musicians, not even the Boat- 
man, had the heart to cry. 

Not a sound. . . . 

Yes yes a long way off in some far corner of 
the sky they seemed to hear a light, murmuring buzz. 
They all stood up and listened hard, holding their 
breath. The buzzing approached. 

" It is an aeroplane," said Melinda, who now knew 
all about aeroplanes. The Carpenter unfolded his 
own, and looked to see how much petrol he had left. 
Meanwhile the buzzing became a humming, and the 
humming grew louder and louder. 

" It must be the motor of the Lemon of Gold," 
cried the Carpenter, and he started the propellers 
of his aeroplane. 

197 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




198 



THE AEROPLANE ROSE 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




PERPENDICULARLY 



199 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

It rose perpendicularly. 

The musicians watched anxiously to see what 
would happen ; their eyes were fastened to the 
round disc of sky above their heads. Suddenly the 
Lemon of Gold appeared, high up, a little dark 
point against a cloud. They could see that it was 
descending to meet the Carpenter's aeroplane, which 
was mounting upwards. Then the two machines 
met, and both flew down together towards the hole 
where the poor musicians were imprisoned. 

There was not a moment to be lost, for what would 
happen if, in spite of their fatigue, the Cyclops woke 
up and discovered their flight ? 

But nothing disastrous happened. They made their 
preparations and gathered together their belongings 
and behaved altogether as civilised people generally do 
when they are being rescued from a well in which 
they have been imprisoned by a thousand Cyclops. 

They climbed into the compartments of the Lemon 
of Gold by means of cords, which the airship let 
down to them. Then they arranged themselves as 
well as they could in company with the crew of four 
men in black and white uniforms, and the Captain, 
who still wore no hat. 

The Captain was looking at his map as they rose 
in the air, and paid no attention to the derisive 
salutes the musicians were making to the Cyclops, 
who had woken in fury to find their victims escaped. 
But the Captain was never talkative. When they 
asked where he had been he said simply, without 
removing the field glasses from his eyes : 
200 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

" When I lost sight of you I was reminded of a 
cousin of mine in Greenland. So I went to pay a visit 
to my cousin." And when the musicians tried 




WITHOUT REMOVING THE FIELD GLASSES FROM HIS EYES 

eagerly to tell him all about their adventures, he 
told them gravely that he did not care for frivolous 
recitations. 

Still he was a good Captain for all his lack of 
poetry, and he brought them back without any 
mistake or hesitation to the middle of Kensington 
Gardens. 

There was a great sensation. The papers were full 
of it the next day. 



201 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

CONCLUSION. THE MUSICIANS MEET 
AGAIN THE DAY AFTER. THEY SHOW 
EACH OTHER THEIR SOUVENIRS OF 
THE VOYAGE. 



1 



following evening the Musicians met to- 
gether again in the Green Park. Not one of 
them had spoken of their travels to a living 
soul. It all seemed so like a dream that they could 
hardly believe it had really happened until they were 
all together again and could ask one another ques- 
tions. They knew then that it could not have been a 
dream, for how was it possible to suppose that they 
had all dreamed the same thing at the same time ? 
And besides, a dream would not have accounted for 
the absence of their friends, Bing and Sun-and- 
Moon. 

There were other indubitable proofs of the reality 
of their strange voyage. Each one had brought some- 
thing back from the Weird Islands they had visited, 
little things of no special value, but which sufficed 
to prove the truth of their story. 

The Boatman held out the starfish he had picked 
up near the coast of the Island of Cubic Birds, while 
he floated about in his barrel, smoking cigarettes. 
The Carpenter held on his knees the famous gilded 
cock, who had once played the part of a Golden God 
to those same geometrical birds. He had also the 
wooden nail, which he had torn from the Chimera. 

The Drummer, after a moment's hesitation, un- 
wrapped the head of a Marionette, which he had 
202 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



THE BOATMAN 



HELD OUT 




THE STARFISH 



taken from the shop where the Marionettes did their 
" Repairs and Decorations." 

Peter produced the flower, which the Long Woman 
had thrown at him in her temper. The Friend had 
the seven little fans, which she had carried off in her 
flight from the wedding festivities of Bing and Sun- 
and-Moon. 

Melinda was wearing the cap, which she had 
snatched from the head of the Marionette, who had 
torn up the paper she wanted to write on. 

203 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



THE CARPENTER AND THE 



GILDED COCK 




204 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




THE DRUMMER AND THE HEAD 
OF THE MARIONETTE 



205 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




206 



PETER PRODUCED THE FLOWER 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




r 



THE FRIEND HAD THE SEVEN 
LITTLE FANS 



207 



WEIRD ISLANDS 




MELINDA WEARING THE CAP 



208 



WEIRD ISLANDS 



COD 




Cod had to admit that he had brought nothing 
back with him from his travels. But the Carpenter 
at once drew out of his pocket the paper on which 
Cod had written a message, when the Baligoors were 
on the point of skinning him. This he handed to 
Cod to reassure him that he had not been dreaming. 

p 209 



WEIRD ISLANDS 

I must, however, tell you that a girl to whom I told 
this tale said, when I had finished, that though she 
quite believed that the musicians had not dreamt 
their adventures, there was no proof that I myself 
had not dreamt the whole story from start to finish. 

To that I replied that the Musicians had invited 
me to accompany them on their next journey, and I 
promised to tell her the story of all that happened to 
me when I returned, and I shall bring back some 
proof of my adventures to make her believe me. 

I myself should be quite convinced of the truth of 
all this if I had,/ for instance, the head of a Marion- 
ette in my pocket. 




THE END, 



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