A Surprise.

From: Kobboltozo: A Sequel to the Last of the Huggermuggers (1869)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Lee and Shepard 1869 Boston



  JACKY CABLE and Mr. Nabbum thought the tailor’s narrative very strange and wonderful; and the latter proposed that they should remain in the island till they had ascertained all the facts about the disappearance and destruction of the dwarfs. “The fact is, Jacky,” said Zebedee, “they wern’t dwarfs, except along side of them giants, but were every bit as big as we, and maybe a leetle bigger—and I guess in Ameriky they’d almost take the shine off the Kentucky giant. So you see, I feel a kind o’ feller feeling for them, and I for one should like to undertake an exploring expedition in search of some of ‘em.”

  As for Stitchkin, they proposed that he should leave his lonely little house, and come with them on board ship, which the little tailor gladly assented to. So the three left the ruined village and returned to the ship together. The sailors heard the whole story of the dwarfs, and Stitchkin became soon a great favorite among them. Every day some of them would make excursions on shore, under his guidance, where they found enough to do in seeing the wonders of the island.

  One day Nabbum, Jacky, and Stitchkin, were on shore collecting some of the great shells and other interesting products of the island, when they saw a queer little sailing vessel coming round a projecting point of the rocks, and holding directly towards them. They were much excited, of course, by this apparition, for they supposed they were alone in the island, and couldn’t imagine where the little vessel could come from.

  “Well now,” said Nab bum, “if this aint curous! I want to know! That’s about the rummest little craft that ever I see. Who do you ‘spose is aboard of her? “

  “I can’t imagine,” said Jacky. “I’m prepared now for any thing, after the astonishing stories we’ve heard. It would take a good deal to surprise me now. If you told me there was a crew of gnomes aboard, with an amber sail, and a gold rudder and keel, bringing in a load of carbuncles—or if you should say it was the old witch of the ravine come to life, I should about believe you. What do you say, Mr. Stitchkin?”

  The tailor stood gazing in dumb bewilderment when suddenly he clapped his hands and shouted with surprise and delight—

  “Why, if it isn’t—no, it can’t be—yes, it must be—it is—it is Hammawhaxo, or else his ghost! Don’t you see him—don’t you remember him?”

  “No!” cried Nabbum, “do tell—you don’t say so—I-I-I sw—an!”

  “Let’s hail him,” they cried, “perhaps he don’t see us. Sloop ahoy!” and an answering shout was sent back from the vessel. They ran to the edge of the beach, and very soon the little vessel put directly in for the shore, and Hammawhaxo jumped out; and he and the tailor, who probably had scarcely ever even shaken hands before, rushed into each other’s arms.

  When the first greetings were over, the carpenter made hasty inquiries about the other dwarfs. When he heard the sad news that they had all either died or been lost, his countenance became much troubled, and the tears stood in his eyes. “Ah,” he said, “it is my fault, my miserable weakness. Why did I ever betray the good giant—how could I ever league myself with that cursed—no, I won’t curse him he is punished enough, poor fellow! And I, my friends—will you believe it?—I am a changed man. Suffering, grief, remorse I have had. I am not what I was. But let me tell you my story.

  “But, first of all, forgive me, my good Stitchkin, if I have ever said or done any thing to injure you.”

  “You never have,” said the tailor, much affected.

  “I don’t know,” said the carpenter, “I may have done so—I was a miserable, weak, selfish wretch. I am changed. I hope to live to do some good yet.”

  Hammawhaxo then told them how he had sailed away in search of the wonderful shell-fish, according to agreement with Kobboltozo. But it was partly, he said, because he liked the pleasure of sailing—for he did not much believe in Kobboltozo’s fancies. He told how he went to sea with a fair wind, and sailed a good many leagues to the north—how a storm came up and upset his vessel, how his wife and his companions were drowned, and how he escaped by swimming, and reached an island, which he found inhabited by a race of civilized and cultivated people—how he lived among them—how he had thought over his past life, and had determined to be a better and a more useful man—how, at last, he began to long to return to his own island, and to do some good among his people. “So I bought me yonder little sloop,” he said, “and bidding these good people adieu, sailed for our island. God grant that I am not too late, for I cannot but think we shall find again some of our missing companions.”

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