How Huggermugger came along

From: The Last of the Huggermuggers: a Giant Story (1856)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: 1856 Boston



  Now it happened that Little Jacket was not altogether wrong in his fancies about giants, for there was a giant living in this island where the poor sailors were wrecked. His name was Huggermugger, and he and his giantess wife lived at the foot of the great cliffs they had seen in the distance. Huggermugger was something-of a farmer, something of a hunter, and something of a fisherman. Now, it being a warm, clear, moonlight night, and Huggermugger being disposed to roam about, thought he would take a walk down to the beach to see if the late storm had washed up any clams* or oysters, or other shell-fish, of which he was very fond. Having gathered a good basket full, he was about returning, when his eye fell upon the group of great shells in which Little Jacket and his friends were reposing, all sound asleep.

  “Now,” thought Huggermugger, “my wife has often asked me to fetch home one of these big shells. She thinks it would look pretty on her mantel-piece, with sunflowers sticking in it. Now I may as well gratify her, though I can’t exactly see the use of a shell without a fish in it. Mrs. Huggermugger must see something in these shells that I don’t.”

  So he didn’t stop to choose, but picked up the first one that came to his hand, and put it in his basket. It was the very one in which Little Jacket was asleep. The little sailor slept too soundly to know that he was travelling, free of expense, across the country at a railroad speed, in a carriage made of a giant’s fish-basket. Huggermugger reached his house, mounted his huge stairs, set down his basket, and placed the big shell on the mantel-piece.

  “Wife,” says he, “here’s one of those good-for-nothing big shells you have often asked me to bring home.”

  “Oh, what a beauty,” says she, as she stuck a sun-flower in it, and stood gazing at it in mute admiration. But, Huggermugger being hungry, would not allow her to stand idle.

  “Come,” says he, “let’s have some of these beautiful clams cooked for supper—they are worth all your fine shells with nothing in them.”

  So they sat down, and cooked and ate their supper, and then went to bed.

  Little Jacket, all this time, heard nothing of their great rumbling voices, being in as sound a sleep as he ever enjoyed in his life. He awoke early in the morning, and crept out of his shell—but he could hardly believe his eyes, and thought himself still dreaming, when he found himself and his shell on a very high, broad shelf, in a room bigger than any church he ever saw. He fairly shook and trembled in his shoes, when the truth came upon him that he had been trapped by a giant, and was here a prisoner in his castle. He had time enough, however, to become cool and collected, for there was not a sound to be heard, except now and then something resembling a thunder-like snoring, as from some distant room. “Aha,” thought Little Jacket to himself, “it is yet very early, and the giant is asleep, and there may be time yet to get myself out of his clutches.”

  He was a brave little fellow, as well as a true Yankee in his smartness and ingenuity. So he took a careful observation of the room, and its contents. The first thing to be done was to let himself down from the mantel-piece. This ~as not an easy matter, as it was very high. If he jumped, he would certainly break his legs. He was not long in discovering one of Huggermugger’s fishing-lines tied up and lying not far from him. This he· unrolled, and having fastened one end of it to a nail which he managed just to reach, he let the other end drop (it was as large as a small rope) and easily let himself down to the floor. He then made for the door, but that was fastened. Jacky, however, was determined to see what could be done, so he pulled out his jackknife, and commenced cutting into the corner of the door at the bottom, where it was a good deal worn, as if it had been gnawed by the rats. He thought that by cutting a little now and then, and hiding himself when the giant should make his appearance, in time he might make an opening large enough for him to squeeze himself through. Now Huggermugger was by this time awake, and heard the noise which Jacky made with his knife.

  “Wife,” says he, waking her up—she was dreaming about her beautiful shell— “wife, there are those eternal rats again, gnawing, gnawing at that door; we must set the trap for them to-night.”

  Little Jacket heard the giant’s great voice, and was very much astonished that he spoke English. He thought that giants spoke nothing but “chow-chow-whangalorum-hallaballoo with a-ruffle-bull-bagger!” This made him hope that Huggermugger would not eat him. So he grew very -hopeful, and determined to persevere. He kept at his work, but as softly as he could. But Huggermugger heard the noise again, or fancied he heard it, and this time came to see if he could not kill the rat that gnawed so steadily and so fearlessly. Little Jacket heard him coming, and rushed to hide himself. The nearest place of retreat was one of the giant’s great boots, which lay on the floor, opening like a cave before him. Into this he rushed. He had hardly got into it before Huggermugger entered.

* The “clam” is an American bivalve shell-fish, so called from hiding itself in the sand. A “clam chowder” is a very savory kind of thick soup, of which the clam is a chief ingredient. I put in this note for the benefit of little English boys and girls, if it should chance that this story should find its way to their country.

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