Read CHAPTER XVII of Kernel Cob And Little Miss Sweetclover, free online book, by George Mitchel, on

And they sat upon the shore until Jackie Tar had finished his song about the Sailor’s Life, and by that time their clothing was pretty well dried out from their swim, so they got up and wandered toward the city and it wasn’t an easy thing to do, for they had a lot of bridges to cross and they had no boat.

“I think the best thing to do,” said the Villain, “is to find a toy-store, for there some doll can tell us what to do.”

So they kept an eye out for a toy-store, and pretty soon they found one.

“I’d better go in alone,” said Kernel Cob, “because I’m the bravest and have a sword and can fight if any trouble arises.”

“Aye, aye, skipper,” said Jackie Tar.

So Kernel Cob crept very carefully into the shop and very lucky he did so, for the shopkeeper was there although he was asleep.

On a shelf stood a row of soldiers.

And Kernel Cob saluted them and said, “I am Kernel Cob of the United States Army,” at which the soldiers gave him three cheers.

“My friends and I,” said Kernel Cob, “are looking for the South Pole, where we hope to find Jackie and Peggs’ motheranfather, and I thought maybe you could help us.”

But not one of them answered him for they didn’t know what he had said.

“I guess tin soldiers are deaf,” said he.

“No, they’re not,” said a voice behind him, “only these are Italians and do not understand English.”

And looking behind him, Kernel Cob discovered an English clown doll who turned a somersault and came up on his feet with a merry laugh.

“Good for you,” said Kernel Cob, “I wish I could do that.”

“Everybody to his trade,” said the clown, and stood upon his head.

“Maybe you’d be good enough to stay upon your feet till I find out what I want to know,” said Kernel Cob.

And the Clown sprang into the air, turned over three or four times, and landed neatly upon his feet again.

“What is it you want to know?” he asked.

“First I want to know why you don’t keep still?” asked Kernel Cob, for the Clown’s antics made him nervous.

“I’m a Circus Clown,” said he, “and I just turn these hand-springs all day.”

So Kernel Cob looked about the store, but could see nobody else that looked as if he could talk English.

“What do you do all day without anybody to talk to?” he asked the Clown at length.

“Oh,” said the Clown, “I tell myself funny stories to make me laugh, and then I have my hand-springs to make; that keeps me pretty busy,” and he rolled along the shelf, head over heels.

“Well, I always thought a Clown was a silly fellow,” said Kernel Cob, “but now I’m sure of it,” and he turned upon his heel and walked out of the store.

When he got outside he told the others that it was no use trying to find out anything that way. So they walked along till night came and they crawled into a boat, which is called a gondola, and wait to sleep.

During the night, they were wakened by the movement of the boat, and looking out they saw that they were in motion. A man in a white suit and a red sash was paddling the gondola with a long oar, and he was singing a very beautiful song, and the moonlight was on the water. And they passed many other gondolas, and all the men who paddled were singing beautiful songs.

“I would like to live here,” whispered the Villain, “everybody seems to be so happy.”

“So would I,” said Sweetclover. “I love to hear beautiful music, but we have to find Jackie and Peggs’ motheranfather.”

And being tired, they fell asleep and early in the morning their gondola was resting at the side of some marble steps which led up to a great square called Saint Mark’s. So they got out of the gondola and walked across the square, for there wasn’t anybody to be seen at so early an hour in the morning.

And a great number of pigeons were flying about. Thousands and thousands of them.

And Jackie Tar had a wonderful idea.

“Let’s ask the pigeons if they will help us.”

“Goodie!” said Sweetclover.

So they went up to a group of pigeons which were strutting along the ground, picking grain which the people throw to them in the day time.

“Hello! hello!” said Jackie Tar, and in a minute about a hundred pigeons gathered about them. And he said he wanted some of them to help him get to the South Pole.

“I’ll do it,” said one of them, and he stepped up to Jackie Tar.

“Good for you, matey,” said Jackie Tar.

“I’ve always wanted to travel,” said the pigeon, “for I’m tired flying around here and I’d like to see the world.”

“So would I,” said another.

“And I.”

“And I.” “And I,” cried three or four more.

You see pigeons are like people, for, lots of times, people want to do things but they wait and wait and wait till some one starts it.

“Four are all we need,” said Jackie Tar, “one for each of us.” So the pigeons crowded about and begged and begged to be taken, and Kernel Cob and Sweetclover and the Villain and Jackie Tar chose the biggest and strongest, and the ones that they liked the color of the best.

But one of the pigeons didn’t want to go to the South Pole, for, said she, “You don’t hear as much of the South Pole as you do of the North Pole, and unless you go to the North Pole, I won’t go.”

So it was decided to go to the North Pole, “For,” said Kernel Cob, “I don’t think it makes any difference after all. The Magician didn’t say which pole it was, so maybe it’s just as well.”

“I say let’s go to the North Pole,” said Jackie Tar, “and, if we don’t find them there, we can very easily try the South Pole next.”

“Yes,” said Kernel Cob, “let’s go to all the Poles there are until we find the right one.”

So they got upon the pigeons’ backs, just as a little boy or girl gets on a pony, and one of the pigeons, the one that Sweetclover was on, said to the others:

“Let’s make a race of it for the first mile.”

“Good!” squeaked the others, and off they flew at their top speed.