Mr. Nabbum

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



  LITTLE JACKET and his friends were treated very kindly by the Captain and crew of the Nancy Johnson, and as a few more sailors were wanted on board, their services were gladly accepted. They all arrived safely at Java, where the ship took in a cargo of coffee. Little Jacket often related his adventures in the giant’s island, but the sailors, though many of them were inclined to believe in marvellous stories, evidently did not give much credit to Jacky’s strange tale, but thought he must have dreamed it all.

  There was, however, one man who came frequently on board the ship while at Java, who seemed not altogether incredulous. He was a tall, powerful Yankee, who went by the name of Zebedee Nabbum. He had been employed as an agent of Barnum, to sail to the Indies and other countries in search of elephants, rhinoceroses, lions, tigers, baboons, and any wild animals he might chance to ensnare. He had been fitted out with a large ship and crew, and all the men and implements necessary for this exciting and dangerous task, and had been successful in entrapping two young elephants, a giraffe, a lion, sixteen monkeys, and a great number of parrots. He was now at Java superintending the manufacture of a very powerful net of grass-ropes, an invention of his own, with which he hoped to catch a good many more wild animals, and return to America, and make his fortune by exhibiting them for Mr. Barnum.

  Now Zebedee Nabbum listened with profound attention to Little Jacket’s story, and pondered and pondered over it.

  “And after all,” he said to himself, “why shouldn’t it be true? Don’t we read in Scripter that there war giants once? Then why hadn’t there ought to be some on ‘em left—in some of them remote islands whar nobody never was? Grimminy! If it should be true-if we should find Jacky’s island-if we should see the big critter alive, or his wife—if we could slip a noose under his legs and throw him down—or carry along the great net and trap him while he war down on the beach arter his clams, and manage to tie him and carry him off in my ship! He’d kick, I know. He’d a kind o’ roar and struggle, and maybe swamp the biggest raft we could make to fetch him. But couldn’t we starve him into submission? Or, if we gave him plenty of clams, couldn’t we keep him quiet? Or couldn’t we give the critter Rum?—I guess he don’t know nothin’ of ardent sperets—and obfusticate his wits—and get him reglar boozy—couldn’t we do any thing we chose to, then? An’t it worth tryin’, any how? If we could catch him, and get him to Ameriky alive, or only his skeleton, my fortune’s made, I cal’late. I kind o’ can’t think that young fellow’s been a gullin’ me. He talks as though he’d seen the awful big critters with his own eyes. So do the other six fellows—they couldn’t all of ‘em have been dreamin’.”

  So Zebedee had a conversation one day with the Captain of the Nancy Johnson, and found out from him that he had taken the latitude and longitude of the coast where they took away the shipwrecked sailors. The Captain also described to Zebedee the appearance of the coast; and, in short, Zebedee contrived to get all the information about the place the Captain could give him, without letting it appear that he had any other motive in asking questions than mere curiosity.

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