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   Chapter 14 THE RAISING OF THE FLAG AND ANGEL'S PART IN IT

The Wonder Island Boys: Exploring the Island By Roger Thompson Finlay Characters: 16867

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


On the return home that evening they were surprised to find Red Angel absent. Frequently he would go with them on their trips, but he was purposely left at home on this occasion. He had ample opportunity to roam at will during their absence, and had never strayed away.

"It is very singular he cannot be found. I searched the house, the shop, and the cattle range, and he is nowhere in sight."

It was a grief to all to miss him, as all had learned to appreciate his mischievous tricks, and George had taken a delight in "educating" him. Probably now, that he had grown to a more mature age, the spirit of the wild life possessed him, and he had taken French leave at the first opportunity.

George missed him more than Harry, because as cooking was one of George's accomplishments, and as honey was the weak spot in Red Angel, the kitchen was an attraction, and the reward for service in the kitchen was this delicious sweet.

Their stock of this was running low. George was not as liberal with honey of late, and after ruminating on the subject of the disappearance, he concluded that Red Angel had cause for "running away."

The next morning while at breakfast, who should appear at the door but Red Angel, his long fingers and palms holding a quantity of nuts. He evidently saw that the welcome was most enthusiastic on the part of all. With the utmost gravity he shambled across the floor and deposited the nuts on the table and took his usual place in the most matter-of-fact way, and commenced on the nuts as though it was part of a solemn duty.

George's hand reached out for the honey; Angel saw it, a quizzical look came on his face-a real orang smile-and he forgot about the nuts.

In a spirit of fun George helped himself without offering any. This was too much for the animal, and with a shrewd, calculating look he pushed the nuts over to George.

Did he get any honey after this? George could not resist this appeal; and after Angel got it, and George helped himself to nuts, the Simian approval was very marked. Do you think he reasoned?

Preparations must now be made for "pole-raising day." In the absence of a sufficient amount of rope the last bearskin was cut up into strips, as it was necessary to have nearly a hundred feet, and the bearskin was a much-needed addition to the small quantity of ramie cord which they had on hand.

The Professor took a keen interest in the proceedings. "We must get a half dozen forked poles of good wood; they should be of different lengths, to support the pole as it goes up. Then, Harry, as we have a pretty tough job before us, I suggest that you make two capstans, something like those you saw on shipboard, around which the two raising ropes can he wound, each to have a crank, and a means for holding the crank at any position."

The preparations occupied the greater part of the day. Several boards, five feet long, were required, and at least a dozen stakes to hold the capstans in position.

Early the following morning the yaks were brought out, yoked up, and the pole and truck hitched on. A luncheon was provided, the flag and all paraphernalia assembled and loaded, and Red Angel invited to attend the ceremonies.

* * *

Fig. 36. Pole raising.

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Reaching Observation Hill, a spot for the pole was selected, and a hole three feet in diameter and five feet deep was laboriously dug out. It was, indeed, a trying task, with the tools they had, but it was a labor of love. It was more than that to them. They were now making preparations to notify the world that they still lived.

The top of the pole had been provided with a pulley, which was mounted between the crotch, and a guard put over the pulley, so it would prevent the halliards from coming off. When it had been placed in position, with the foot across the hole, the two boards were stood down in the pit so the end of the pole was against them. The halliards were then strung over the pulley and looped down, and the three ropes were attached to the pole, twenty feet from the lower end. Together they raised it up, so that it was about five feet from the ground at the point where the ropes were tied. Two of the ropes were then carried out past the hole, and branched out, and attached to the capstans, while the other was allowed to hang. As the capstans turned, the pole was gradually drawn up, and the Professor stood ready with the forked standards to prevent the flagstaff from falling back. In less than an hour it was erect, and the work of tamping in the dirt and stone around the base was in order, and soon completed.

And now for the flag!

"Tell us, Professor, why the attaching of the flag on the cord, or halliards, is called bending it?"

"The term comes from heraldry, and it originally designated two diagonal lines across the field of an escutcheon. Later on, sailors bent the ends of the flags or ensigns on the halliards, or around the yards, and also called the fastening of a cable to the anchor a bend; a knot is also designated by them as a bend; the form of the ship from the keel to the top of the side is called a bend, as, the midship bend."

A strong rope had been seamed in the end of the flag, and eyelets worked at intervals, so that the task of attaching it to the halliards was soon performed.

"The raising of the national emblem for the first time in any new country has always been regarded as an event of the greatest importance, as it represents sovereignty and responsibility. On this occasion," said the Professor, as he removed his hat, "let us honor the flag with appropriate ceremonies."

At that moment Red Angel concluded he would also take part, and in an instant was at the pole and scrambled upwardly. When the top was reached he caught sight of the wheel. It moved. Every time he grasped the rope the wheel would turn.

This seriously interrupted the program. The Professor could not help laughing. A moment before he was particularly grave, and the boys had no feelings of mirth; but now this new element in the proceedings added gaiety to the occasion.

"Come down, you rascal! Come down! Do you hear me?" cried George. Red Angel didn't hear. He hung there and smiled; yes, smiled, as he looked down, while playing with the wheel. "We can't put up the flag while he is there." George walked over to the wagon, and took out the honey pot. Red Angel saw it, but made no motion to come down. The honey pot was held up as an inducement, but there was nothing in the world so fascinating just then as that wheel.

Harry and the Professor laughed at the situation. Just to think of it! An orang-outan actually preventing a foreign power from hoisting the emblem of possession over his native land! It was too ludicrous for words.

George actually became almost hysterical as he threw himself back on the seat of the wagon and held up the honey pot, while laughing. "What do you think that little scamp has been doing? He has eaten every bit of the honey." That only added another fit of laughter, and when it subsided, and George could recover his voice, he added, "and wasn't this a smart thing to do?" as he held up the vessel.

"What?" asked Harry, momentarily straightening out his face.

"He actually put the lid back after he got through."

But this could not last indefinitely. No one suggested a remedy, if there was one. The United States must take possession in the proper way; hats must come off; the flag must go up slowly, and the band must play the national air;-the music, they had not thought of it before.

"Can you climb the pole, George?" asked the Professor.

"I think so, with the aid of the halliard."

He approached the pole. "Do you hear me, Baby, come down! Come down, I say!"

Red Angel saw George's design, and without saying a word he slowly descended, shambled over to the wagon, and hanging on the side of the box, looked around to the company in the most reproachful manner.

* * *

"Red Angel saw George's design, and without saying a word he slowly descended"

* * *

The hoisting of the flag was, indeed, a solemn thing, but it had its amusing side, and when, with uncovered heads, the flag went up to the masthead and stopped there, the Professor said: "We should have had music to make it more appropriate, but as we have no band, let us sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'"

The boys were both good singers, as the Professor knew. The son

g was started, but before the first line was finished, they broke down and tears began to come; the Professor, with his hands clasped and head bowed, did not look up, nor was he surprised when they stopped. The boys had a suspicion that even he could not have carried that song a single bar. They were powerless to go on.

When the Professor did look up and gaze on the flag, the boys saw his tears; they were ashamed no longer, and their eyes looked up, too.

In a voice which sounded almost strange to the boys, the Professor said: "We take possession of this land in the name of the United States of America, and give notice that we shall defend the same against all powers."

Then, as the beautiful flag unfurled itself, and threw its waving shadow on the ground that it now protected, they looked down, and there was Red Angel, close beside them, looking up at the flag as though he understood what it meant, and his silence gave consent to the solemn act which transferred his allegiance to a greater power.

As they were about to descend the hill the Professor called them to a halt. "Do you intend to leave the flag at full mast?"

They had entirely forgotten to half mast it. "And now," said Harry, "if they can't see that flag we'll make one big enough next time."

As they went down the hill, they could not help looking back over and over, to admire the flag and the pole, and everything connected with it. They knew every thread and every piece of it. Somehow it seemed to be a part of them.

There was always a sentimental streak in George. "I can't help thinking that is the most beautiful flag in the world; I suppose other people think the same of their flag. How did flags come to be used by people?"

"The flag is the successor of the banner, which is taken from the Celtic word 'band.' The Bible mentions banners, showing they were used early in scriptural history. The banners of the Romans, used in their warfares, were essentially different from modern flags, colors and ensigns; they were carvings of wood or metal, some of them representing eagles, like the Persian standard described by Xenophon. In the Middle Ages it was a connecting link between the military and the clergy. The crescent and the cross symbols typified the two great contending forces of the world at that time."

Returning to their home, tired with the exertions, they sat in the living room and talked over the events of the day. Somehow, they felt that the day was too sacred to be desecrated with further toil. They congratulated each other at the success in raising the pole, as that was a matter which had given them a great deal of concern.

Ever since the day on which they commenced work on the electric battery the boys deplored the lack of glass. If they could make that it would be of such immense importance to them in many ways. It would be of great service for their tableware; they could use it for their electric work, which interested them more than any branch to which their time had been given, among the mechanical arts; with that they could make thermometers and testing instruments; and give their house the air of a modern home, because windows could be put in.

"Will it be difficult to make glass?" asked George.

"It is an exceedingly simple matter to make glass-that is, to fuse or melt it. The difficult part is the art of making it, either by the blowing process, or by making the flat forms, like window panes and the like. Owing to the simplicity in preparing it, the making of glass articles was known at a very early date, certainly fifteen hundred years before the beginning of the Christian era. In the first stages only opaque glass was produced, and it was not until eight hundred years later that the first transparent product was manufactured. Under Pharaoh it was one of the products extensively made and exported to Phonecia and other Mediterranean ports. Five hundred years before Christ, Aristophanes mentions glass or crystal vessels, but as its value at that time was next to gold it could not have been a common article."

"What is glass made of?"

"Simply common sand. Sand is the ground up particles of quartz, and may be found almost everywhere. The principal thing is to get the pure quartz. In connection an alkali of some kind must be used."

"What is an alkali?"

"A substance which is the exact opposite of an acid. Potash, soda and hartshorn (or ammonia) are the best known. They have most remarkable chemical activities, and an alkali united with an acid entirely neutralizes or destroys the activity of both. The compound produced by the union of an acid and an alkali is termed a salt."

"What is the effect of using an alkali with the quartz sand?"

"Quartz possesses all the qualities of an acid, so that when the alkali is fused with the quartz a neutral substance, unlike either, is formed."

"What kind of alkali is best to use?"

"That depends on what it is to be used for. Quartz and lime make a fine window glass product. Bottle glass is usually made of soda and quartz; window glass is also made of quartz, soda and lime; plate glass of quartz, lime, soda and potash; and flint glass has only the alkalis, potash and oxide of lead."

"Well, for our purposes, wouldn't it be better to make the glass out of quartz and lime if windows can be made out of it?"

"By all means, for several reasons: We have the lime on hand, and also because it makes a very hard article."

"What can we melt it up in?"

"The clay retort or crucible will just be the thing for the purpose, and the first thing in the morning I will make a tour to a point close at hand, where I think we shall be able to get a good quality."

The boys were astir in the morning earlier than usual. They had a new impulse-something to learn and to do. Harry busied himself with putting the crucible in order, and in getting the fuel. George, after his usual morning's work, brought in the lime, and broke it up preparatory to grinding it up into small particles, so that it would intimately mix with the sand.

Within an hour the Professor returned with several samples of sand, either of which, he thought, would make a good article. The yaks were hitched up, and George went with him to get a good supply.

"How much do you think we ought to make up at first?"

"Several gallons of the sand will do for the experiment."

"What kind of article should be made with the first trial?"

"We might make some window glass. It is true it will not be transparent, but it will be translucent, and so will give us light, as well as though it should be transparent."

"What is translucent glass?"

"Where the surface of a cast plate is polished the material is such that you can see through it, but if it is left rough it is impossible to see through it, although it will permit light to go through. The term applied to such glass is translucent."

"If light will pass through, why is it the eye cannot see through it?"

"A powerful magnifying glass shows that the surface of unpolished glass is formed by a layer of crystals, or of sand, with the faces projecting out in all directions and at all angles. The result is, that a beam of light from the eye strikes one or more of these faces and is diverted from a straight line through the glass. As all the rays are thus changed from a direct course, confusion results, and the eye distinguishes nothing."

Several bushels of the sand were brought to the laboratory, and the Professor then directed the preparation of a half dozen slate slabs, each slab being nearly two feet square. He explained that in practice iron plates were used, but as they had nothing of that kind available, slate would answer admirably.

"The slate slabs must be heated, and when the fused material is poured on the slabs, the heat must be kept up for a short time and gradually cooled down."

"What is the object in doing that?"

"If cooled too suddenly the plates, will crack, but by heating the slates and then cooling them down gradually, we anneal the glass, in a measure. You remember how we annealed the steel by gradually cooling it down? Glass, however, cannot be annealed so that it will not fracture, although attempts have been made for years to find a means for doing it. The man who can discover a process that will enable it to bend without breaking, can command any price for the discovery."

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