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   Chapter 3 THE CRUISE OF THE SIDEBOARD

The Admiral's Caravan By Charles E. Carryl Characters: 6852

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


The sideboard behaved in the most absurd manner, spinning around and around in the water, and banging about among the other furniture as if it had never been at sea before, and finally bringing up against the tea-table with a crash in the stupidest way imaginable, and knocking the tea-set and all the cups and saucers into the water. Dorothy felt very ridiculous as you may suppose, and, to add to her mortification, the Stork ferryman suddenly reappeared, and she could see him running along the roofs of the houses, and now and then stopping to stare down at her from the eaves as she sailed by, as if she were the most extraordinary spectacle he had ever seen, as indeed she probably was. Sometimes he waited until the sideboard had floated some distance past him as if to see how it looked, gazed at from behind; and then Dorothy would catch sight of him again far ahead, peering out from behind a chimney, as if to get a front view of the performance. All this was, of course, very impertinent, and although Dorothy was naturally a very kind-hearted little child, she was really quite gratified when the Stork finally made an attempt to get a new view of her from the top of an unusually tall chimney, and fell down into it with a loud screech of dismay.

Presently the street ended at a great open space where the water spread out in every direction, like a lake. The day seemed to be breaking, and it was quite light; and as the sideboard sailed out into the open water, Dorothy caught sight of something like a fat-looking boat, floating at a little distance and slowly drifting toward her. As it came nearer it proved to be Mrs. Peevy's big umbrella upside down, with a little party of people sitting around on the edge of it with their feet against the handle, and, to Dorothy's amazement, she knew every one of them. There was the Admiral, staring about with his spy-glass, and Sir Walter Rosettes, carefully carrying his tobacco-plant as if it were a nosegay, and the Highlander, with his big watch dangling in the water over the side of the umbrella; and last, there was the little Chinese mandarin clinging convulsively to the top of the handle as if he were keeping a lookout from the masthead.

"THE ADMIRAL EXCLAIMED: 'THERE SHE IS! I CAN SEE HER QUITE PLAINLY!'"

The sideboard brought up against the edge of the umbrella with a soft little bump, and the Admiral, hurriedly pointing his spy-glass at Dorothy so that the end of it almost touched her nose, exclaimed excitedly, "There she is! I can see her quite plainly," and the whole party gave an exultant shout.

"How are you getting on now?" inquired Sir Walter, as if he had had her under close observation for a week at least.

"I'm getting on pretty well," said Dorothy, mournfully. "I believe I'm crossing a ferry."

"So are we," said the Admiral, cheerfully. "We're a Caravan, you know."

"A Caravan?" exclaimed Dorothy, very much surprised.

"I believe I said 'Caravan' quite distinctly," said the Admiral in an injured tone, appealing to the rest of the party; but no one said anything except the Highlander, who hastily consulted his watch and then exclaimed "Hurrah!" rather doubtfully.

"I understood what you said," explained Dorothy, "but I don't think I know exactly what you mean."

"Never mind what he means," shouted Sir Walter. "That's of no consequence."

"No consequence!" exclaimed the Admiral, flaring up. "Why

, I mean more in a minute than you do in a week!"

"You say more in a minute than anybody could mean in a month," retorted Sir Walter, flourishing his tobacco-plant.

"I can talk a year without meaning anything," said the Highlander, proudly; but no one took any notice of this remark, which, of course, served him right.

The Admiral stared at Sir Walter for a moment through his spy-glass, and then said very firmly, "You're a pig!" at which the Highlander again consulted his watch, and then shouted, "Two pigs!" with great enthusiasm, as if that were the time of day.

"And you're another," said Sir Walter, angrily. "If it comes to that, we're all pigs."

"Dear me!" cried Dorothy, quite distressed at all this. "What makes you all quarrel so? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves."

"We're all ashamed of one another, if that will do any good," said the Admiral.

"And, you see, that gives each of us two persons to be ashamed of," added Sir Walter, with an air of great satisfaction.

"But that isn't what I mean at all," said Dorothy. "I mean that each one of you ought to be ashamed of himself."

"Why, we're each being ashamed of by two persons already," said the Admiral, peevishly. "I should think that was enough to satisfy anybody."

"But that isn't the same thing," insisted Dorothy. "Each particular him ought to be ashamed of each particular self." This remark sounded very fine indeed, and Dorothy felt so pleased with herself for having made it that she went on to say, "And the truth of it is, you all argue precisely like a lot of little school-children."

Now, Dorothy herself was only about four feet high, but she said this in such a superior manner that the entire Caravan stared at her with great admiration for a moment, and then began to give a little cheer; but just at this instant the umbrella made a great plunge, as if somebody had given it a sudden push, and the whole party tumbled into the bottom of it like a lot of dolls.

"What kind of a boat do you call this?" shouted Sir Walter, as they all scrambled to their feet and clung desperately to the handle.

"It's a paragondola," said the Admiral, who had suddenly become very pale. "You see, it isn't exactly like an ordinary ship."

"I should think not!" said Sir Walter, indignantly. "I'd as lief go to sea in a toast-rack. Why don't you bring her head up to the wind?" he shouted as the paragondola took another plunge.

"I can't!" cried the Admiral, despairingly; "she hasn't got any head."

"Then put me ashore!" roared Sir Walter, furiously.

Now this was all very well for Sir Walter to say, but by this time the paragondola was racing through the water at such a rate that even the sideboard could hardly keep up with it; and the waves were tossing about in such wild confusion that it was perfectly ridiculous for any one to talk about going ashore. In fact, it was a most exciting moment. The air was filled with flying spray, and the paragondola dashed ahead faster and faster, until at last Dorothy could no longer hear the sound of the voices, and she could just see that they were throwing the big watch overboard as if to lighten the ship. Then she caught sight of the Highlander trying to climb up the handle, and Sir Walter frantically beating him on the back with the tobacco-plant, and the next moment there was another wild plunge and the paragondola and Caravan vanished from sight.

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