"About a hundred miles or so," said Wak Wak, for that was the cub's name.
"Goodness," said Sweetclover, "how are we ever going to walk so far in this dreadful cold."
"If you'll come to my cubby hole," said Wak Wak, "we can sit down and talk it over. It's not far." So they came to his cubby hole, they went inside and it was nice and warm and comfortable.
"You must stay the night with me," he said.
So he covered them over with some pieces of fur and they all went to sleep.
But, in the middle of the night, they were awakened by loud yelping, and running to the doorway of the hole they saw thousands and thousands of what looked like little lanterns dancing on the ice.
"What are all these lights for?" said Kernel Cob.
"Those aren't lights," said the Cub, "those are eyes."
"Who's eyes?" asked Sweetclover.
"Wolves' eyes," said the Cub.
"Stand back inside of the hole," said Kernel Cob, and he drew his sword and stepped outside.
On came the wolves, yelping and growling and showing their great yellow teeth.
And one by one as they came up to devour our little friends, Kernel Cob's sword flashed, and with each stroke down came a wolf.
And when the last one had been slain Kernel Cob wiped his sword upon his coat and went inside.
"Well," said Wak Wak, "I'm glad I'm not a wolf. That's the greatest fight I have ever seen."
But Kernel Cob put his sword away and lay down to finish his sleep as if nothing had happened.
In the morning when they got up they went outside and counted the wolves and they numbered two thousand, three hundred and twenty-one.
But Kernel Cob turned his head away, for brave people are always modest and cannot bear to hear themselves praised.
Later in the day Wak Wak took them to a friend of his, a pack-dog that he knew. A fine chap he was, and when he had heard our little friends' story, he was very willing to help them.
"If you can rig up a sled I'll take you to the North Pole, and very gladly."
"Why can't we sit on your back?" asked Jackie Tar.
"I can't bear to have anything on my back," answered Speed, for that was his name.
"I guess I can take care of the sled," said Jackie Tar, "if I can find some scraps of wood."
"There are some staves of an old barrel not far from here," said Speed, "and if you will come with me, you can see for yourselves if they will do."
So they went with him, and Jackie Tar found them very good indeed, and in a short while had tied them together.
So they hopped on, sitting one behind the other, Sweetclover in the middle, and waving good-bye to Wak Wak, they soon were gliding over the ice at a great clip.
Over the ice they went like lightning, drawn by the pack-dog, Speed.
"I don't know of any name that would be better for him," said Sweetclover.
"He goes as swiftly as the Condor did, do you remember?"
Kernel Cob did remember, but he didn't want Sweetclover to think any more about the past for, thought he: "If she remembers the Condor she will remember the Villain, and the first thing you know we will be swimming in her tears and I can't stand crying. It makes me very angry."
So he drew her attention to the scenery, although there was precious little of that, only ice.
"I wonder where we are," said Jackie Tar, and he looked at his compass. "Whoa," he cried excitedly, and Speed came to a stop and sat down on the ice.
"Here we are," said Jackie Tar.
"Here?" asked Kernel Cob. "Where?"
"The North Pole," said Jackie Tar.
"I don't see any pole," said Kernel Cob, and Jackie Tar laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks and fell off in little icicles. "You didn't suppose there really was a pole, did you?"
"Of course," said Kernel Cob.
"I thought everyone knew that there wasn't a real pole here," answered Jackie.
"Then what do you call it a pole for?" asked Kernel Cob.
"I don't know," said Jackie Tar, "only I know there isn't a pole. It's just called that."
"I don't believe you've found it at all," said Kernel Cob.
"Oh yes," said Jackie Tar, "of that you may be sure for my compass tells me that this is the top of the world."
"Well," said Kernel Cob, "that's the silliest thing I ever heard, for I thought we would see a great pole sticking high in the air."
And they got off their sled and walked about.
"Why did you want to come here?" asked Speed.
"You see," explained Kernel Cob, "we are looking for Jackie and Peggs' motheranfather, and once when we were in India a Hoodoo ..."
"A Hindoo you mean," corrected Jackie Tar.
"A Hindoo," said Kernel Cob, "showed us on a crystal ball a picture of them in the snow, digging for gold. So we thought if we got to the North Pole we would find them."
"Nobody comes to the North Pole to dig gold," said Speed.
"Why not?" asked Sweetclover.
"Because there isn't any gold here," said the dog.
"There isn't?" asked Sweetclover.
"No," answered Speed.
"This is a funny world," said Kernel Cob, "the North Pole isn't a pole at all, and after we get here there isn't any gold mine. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that I wasn't alive."
"The nearest gold mine that I ever heard of in these parts," said Speed, "is in the Yukon."
"Where's that?" asked Kernel Cob.
"In Alaska," answered Speed.
"Is that far?" asked Sweetclover.
"Yes, it's a great distance from here, but if you like I'll take you there."
"You're very kind," said Sweetclover.
"It's a pleasure to do for people who are so good," said Speed.
So after Kernel Cob dug their names in the ice with his sword, they got on their sled and Speed started off again.
"How do you know how to go to Yukon?" asked Sweetclover.
"Oh, I've been over the ice lots and lots of times," said he.
And they travelled all day.
"I never saw such a long day," said Kernel Cob, "the sun doesn't seem to go down, but only round and round."
"That's because we are so high on the earth," said Speed. "Some nights are six months long."
But nothing could induce Kernel Cob to believe this, "For," said he, "I won't believe anything more about the world as long as I live."
And after a few days they came to a place where the ice was broken, and they had to cross by floating on huge cakes of ice, which was very exciting.
They were crossing on one of these once, and Kernel Cob and Sweetclover had gone across with Speed, when the cake of ice on which they were waiting for Jackie Tar, split suddenly, and Jackie Tar was left behind on a small piece.
In vain they tried to catch him and slowly but surely he began to drift away from them farther and farther, and all they could do was to watch him fade out of sight.
"Oh," cried Sweetclover, "we shall never see him again.
"Will he be killed?"
"I don't know," said Speed. "He's got a good chance of being picked up by a vessel, if he ever floats down south far enough."
"Oh, I hope so," cried Sweetclover, "for he is such a brave sailor and was so good to us."
And after Kernel Cob and Sweetclover had said a prayer to the fairies to take good care of Jackie Tar, they drove away in their sled and at length came to the Yukon.
A PRAYER FOR JACKIE TAR
Do not think it very nice To travel on a cake of ice Except in Summer when it's hot; But in the Winter, when it's not And icy winds blow in my face I like an open fireplace Where I can watch the glowing flames Or play upon the floor with games. So let us say a fervent prayer That Jackie Tar may land somewhere Beyond the sweep of wind and storm Where he may find it safe and warm.
When they reached the Yukon, they told Speed not to go near the city or wait where he was, for they had been captured so often by people they wanted to stay away from them. So Speed took them up into the hills where they made their camp.
But they hadn't been there a day when Speed was caught by a number of men, and again Kernel Cob and Sweetclover were left alone to work things out the best way they could.
Sweetclover was very much discouraged, for said she: "Now that we are here and have lost all our friends, and with no one to help us, I don't see how we are ever to find Jackie and Peggs' motheranfather."
But that only made Kernel Cob the more determined.
"I've told you a thousand times that I'll find them, and find them I will."
"Well," said Sweetclover, "I certainly hope so, but I'm sure I cannot see how it is going to be done."
"You'll see if I am not right," said Kernel Cob.
But nothing happened to raise their hopes.
So they went up into the hills in search of a scene that looked like the one that the Magician had shown them on the crystal ball in India, and they walked about all day until, tired and worn out, they crept into a hollow stump to rest.
They slept all night and in the morning they walked on.
They were pretty high up in the mountains now, and Sweetclover, who was very tired, began to cry.
"Oh dear, oh dear," said she, "will nothing ever happen to help us?"
And just then something did happen; something that looked as if it were going to do them a great deal of harm, but which really did them a great deal of good and it was this:
High over their heads, so small that you could scarcely see it, was an eagle. He was flying about in circles that brought him nearer and nearer to where Kernel Cob and Sweetclover were sitting.
Closer and closer he flew, and still they didn't see him until it was too late.
With a cry of alarm, Sweetclover jumped to her feet but the eagle caught her up in a powerful claw.
Kernel Cob had been slow to see the danger, and by the time he had drawn his sword and was ready for the attack, he, too, had been caught and was struggling in the eagle's grasp.
You know, of course, that eagles carry things off to their nests, and I suppose this one thought that Kernel Cob and Sweetclover were babies, and would be nice for Mrs. Eagle to play with. So, with the two dolls in his claws, he rose up from the ground with a great swoop.
The sound of a rifle and a bullet ripped through Kernel Cob's hat and struck the eagle full in the breast. His wings fluttered for a minute, and then with a plunge like a ball of lead he fell to the earth.
"Well, well, well!" said Kernel Cob, as they lay under the eagle, "that was a pretty close shave."
"I wonder who did it," said Sweetclover.
"I don't know," said Kernel Cob, "but whoever it was did us a very good turn, for if he hadn't killed the Eagle we'd have been pulled to pieces in his nest, just to see what was inside of us. But come, we must get out of here before the hunter comes to take us, for surely he will want to keep the Eagle."
"I don't see how we are to get out of here," said Sweetclover, "for this Eagle weighs about a thousand pounds. I can't move, can you?"
And when Kernel Cob attempted to pull himself from under the Eagle he found he couldn't do it without pulling off his legs, and he was too sensible to think he could get far without them.
By this time the hunter who had shot the Eagle came running up, followed by another.
"It was a mighty foolish thing to do, John. I'll bet you've killed the children," said the second one.
And they came and lifted the Eagle.
"I thought so," said the same voice. "Both of 'em dead."
But the hunter, called John, had stooped and picked up Kernel Cob, and was examining him with a curious smile.
"Why, Margaret," he said, "they're dolls."
And you should have seen Kernel Cob's face as he turned to Sweetclover and said:
"I don't see any woman, do you?"
But Sweetclover only smiled.
"Do you see the one that isn't John?" she said.
"Of course," said Kernel Cob, "I'm not blind."
"Well," said Sweetclover, "she's a woman."
"But she's got a man's suit on," said Kernel Cob.
"Well, that doesn't make her a man." said Sweetclover.
"What'll women be doing next," said Kernel Cob.
And John and Margaret took Kernel Cob and walked to the edge of the lake where there was a sled which they started to pull to the opposite shore over the ice, for the lake was frozen over.
And on the sledge were a great number of bags of gold.
"Be careful," said Margaret, "If we were to go through the ice every bag of gold would be lost and all our five years' work would go for nothing."
And just then, as is often the case, the very thing happened.
They were crossing a bit of new ice when a cracking sound warned them, but it was too late to avoid the disaster, and the sledge, weighed down by the gold, went through the ice and was no more to be seen.
Of course there was nothing to be done, and, discouraged, they made their way to the shore and sat down and thought and thought and thought.
"We'll have to go back to the mines and start all over again," said John with a sigh. And they picked up Kernel Cob and Sweetclover, and walked on.
And after a little while, John and Margaret sat down on a log and were silent for a long time. John had Kernel Cob on his knee, and Margaret had Sweetclover in her lap, and neither of them spoke, but looked far off without seeing anything except what had happened years and years ago and left only a picture in their minds.
And Margaret sighed and turning to John said:
"John dear, don't let us try to find any more gold. What good will all the gold in the world be to us without the children?"
And John raised his head, and you could see tears in his eyes.
"Little wife," he said, "you are right. Children are the greatest riches in the world. Let us go back to ours."
And Margaret just smiled and kissed him.
And they went down the mountain side with smiling faces, carrying Kernel Cob and Sweetclover with them.
"I'm blest if I can understand any of this at all," said Kernel Cob. But Sweetclover only laughed.
"Men dolls, especially Soldiers, are the stupidest things in the whole world," she said.
And John and Margaret went down the mountain and in due time reached San Francisco.
And Margaret said:
"I wonder if the children will remember us?"
"I don't think so," said John, "for I believe they think we are dead. We haven't heard from them since that time, a year ago, when there was a report in the newspapers that we were lost in a snow storm."
"Dear little children," sighed Margaret, "I hope it hasn't made them unhappy. Let's send a telegram that we're coming."
"No," said John; "let's surprise them."
And they got upon the train and for five days they rode and during all that time they played with Kernel Cob and Sweetclover, just as children would. And a happy smile lit up Margaret's face, for when she was dressed in woman's clothes and had on a hat with pretty flowers on it, she looked very beautiful, and as she was very happy and always smiling, it made her look more beautiful, for everybody looks more beautiful when they smile.
"I wonder where we are going?" said Kernel Cob.
"You will see," said Sweetclover.
"I know I will see," said Kernel Cob. "Only I am going to escape from here the first thing I can."
"Don't you dare," said Sweetclover.
"Why not," said Kernel Cob, "don't you want to find Jackie and Peggs' motheranfather?"
"Not any more," said Sweetclover with a smile.
"Girl dolls, especially flowers, are the silliest things in the world," said Kernel Cob. "And if you don't want to come I will have to go alone, for I have sworn to find them and no power on earth will stop me."
At this Sweetclover was very much alarmed.
"Kernel Cob," said she, "if you don't get down on your knees and promise by all the Fairies that you will not attempt to escape, I'll never speak to you again."
"But," said he.
"Never mind," said Sweetclover "do as I tell you this minute."
"Very well," said Kernel Cob, and he got upon his knees and promised. But he felt very sad about it for he said: "Now, we shall never find them."
"Yes, we shall," said Sweetclover and she laughed so loudly that Kernel Cob was afraid that she would have hysterics.
And finally the train came to a stop and the conductor came through calling, "New York, Grand Central Depot," and Margaret picked up Sweetclover and John picked up Kernel Cob, and they got into another train and rode a little way and got out again at another station called Orange. And they got into a wagon and told the driver to drive like lightning, and in a few minutes they came to a little white house with honeysuckle growing all about, and they jumped out of the wagon and were in such a hurry that they forgot to pay the driver. And they rushed up the path and opened a little white gate in a little white fence, and up another little path till they came to the little white house.
"They're going crazy," said Kernel Cob, under John's arm.
"You will see why in a minute," said Sweetclover who was tucked under Margaret's arm.
And John pushed open the door and rushed into the house followed by Margaret, and, finding no one inside, they ran through and out into the garden, which was a very pretty little garden with beautiful flowers growing in it.
And in the middle of the garden sat a little boy and a little girl and they were making mud cakes.
And when John saw them he shouted with a great glad cry.
And Margaret sank down upon the garden path, for she was so happy that she couldn't move another inch.
And the two children stopped playing and turned to John and Margaret and a look of wild happiness came into their faces, and Jackie jumped to his feet and ran to John and threw himself into his outstretched arms and cried:
And Peggs ran to Margaret and was hugged and hugged in her loving arms.
And all the time Kernel Cob was trying to understand what was going on, for he knew Jackie and Peggs the moment he saw them, but couldn't get into his head that Margaret and John were their motheranfather.
"You dear, blessed children," cried John hugging them first one and then the other, "and to think that we could have ever left you to go hunt for gold."
"And to think," said Margaret, "that these dolls should have been sent by Providence, way out to the Yukon to remind us that children are the greatest riches in the world."
And she held the dolls up in her hands.
"It's Kernel Cob and Sweetclover!" shouted Jackie and Peggs together, and in a jiffy they had them in their arms.
And they all had a wonderful party of ice cream and cakes and puddings and candies, the best party ever you saw.
"This is the happiest day of my life," said Father.
"It is indeed," said Mother.
"I never thought I could be so happy," said Peggs.
"You bet," said Jackie.
"Well," said Sweetclover to Kernel Cob, "now do you understand?"
"Huh," said Kernel Cob, "I knew it all the time, only I didn't want to spoil the surprise for you."
"But what I want to know," said Peggs, "is how Kernel Cob and Little Miss Sweetclover never wilted like all the other flowers, but have kept as fresh as the day we made them."
"I'll tell you why," said Jackie, and he looked very wise. "It's because they are fairy dolls and everybody knows that fairies live on forever and forever!"
* * * * *
Although we have been all over the world and even up to the moon, we have never seen any books that you will like better (we think) than the other books in the Volland "Happy Children" Series, to which we belong. Here they are:
WINKLE, TWINKLE AND LOLLYPOP By Nina Wilcox Putnam and Norman Jacobsen, illustrated by Katharine Sturges Dodge
THE PERHAPPSY CHAPS By Ruth Plumly Thompson, illustrated by Arthur Henderson
RAGGEDY ANN Written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle
MY VERY OWN FAIRY STORIES Written and illustrated by Johnny Gruelle
RHYMES FOR KINDLY CHILDREN By Fairmont Snyder, illustrated by Johnny Gruelle
QUACKY DOODLES' AND DANNY DADDLES BOOK By Rose Strong Hubbell, illustrated by Johnny Gruelle
You can get any one of these beautiful books from your Book Man, but if he hasn't got them, write to our publishers, P.F. VOLLAND COMPANY, at Chicago, Illinois.
Little Miss Sweetclover