The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk: Race and Ethnic Images in American Children's Literature, 1880-1939



THERE was once an orphan prince, named Nassime, who had been carefully educated to take his place upon the throne of his native country. Everything that a king ought to know had been taught him, and he was considered, by the best judges, to be in every way qualified to wear a crown and to wield a scepter.

But when he became of age, and was just about to take his place upon the throne, a relative, of great power and influence in the country, concluded that he would be king himself, and so the young prince was thrown out upon the world. The new king did not want him in his dominions, and it was therefore determined, by his teachers and guardians, that he would have to become a "floating prince." By this, they meant that he must travel about, from place to place, until he found some kingdom which needed a king, and which was willing to accept him to rule over it. If such a situation were vacant, he easily could obtain it.

He was therefore furnished with a new suit of clothes and a good sword; a small crown and a
scepter were packed into his bag; and he was started out to seek his fortune, as best he could.

As the prince walked away from the walls of his native city, he felt quite down-hearted, although he was by nature gay and hopeful. He did not believe that he could find any country which would want him for a ruler.

"That is nonsense," he said to himself. "There are always plenty of heirs or usurpers to take a throne when it is empty. If I want a kingdom, I must build one up for myself, and that is just what I will do. I will gather together my subjects as I go along. The first person I meet shall be my chief councilor of state, the second shall be my head of the army, the third shall be admiral of the navy, the next shall be chief treasurer, and then I will collect subjects of various classes."

Cheered by this plan, he stepped gayly on, and just as he was entering a wood, through which his pathway led him, he heard some one singing.

Looking about him, he saw a little lady, about five inches high, sitting upon a twig of a flowering bush near by, and singing to herself. Nassime instantly perceived that she was a fairy, and said to himself: "Oho! I did not expect a meeting of this sort." But as he was a bold and frank young fellow, he stepped up to her and said: "Good-morning, lady fairy. How would you like to be chief councilor to a king?"

"It would be splendid!" said the lively little fairy, her eyes sparkling with delight. "But where is the king?"

"I am the king," said Nassime, "or, rather, I am to be, as soon as I get my kingdom together."

And then he told her his story and his plans. The fairy was charmed. The plan suited her exactly.

"You might get a larger councilor than I am," she said, "but I know a good deal about government. I have been governed ever so much, and I could not help learning how it is done. I 'm glad enough to have a chance to help somebody govern other people. I 'll be your chief councilor."

"All right," said the prince, who was much pleased with the merry little creature. "Now we'll go and hunt up the rest of the kingdom."

He took the little fairy in his hand and placed her in one of the folds of his silken girdle, where she could rest, as if in a tiny hammock, and then he asked her name.

"My name," she answered, "is Lorilla, chief councilor of the kingdom of—what are you going to call your kingdom?"

"Oh, I have n't thought of a name, yet."

"Let it be Nassimia, after yourself," said Lorilla.

"Very well," answered the prince, "we will call it Nassimia. That will save trouble and disputes, after the kingdom is established.

Nassime now stepped along quite briskly, talking to his little companion as he went, and explaining to her various ideas regarding his future kingdom. Suddenly he stumbled over what he supposed was the trunk of a fallen tree, and then he was quickly raised into the air, astride the supposed tree-trunk, which seemed to have a hinge in it.

"What now?" said a great voice, and the prince perceived that he was sitting on the knee of a giant, who had been lying on his back in the wood.

"Don't be afraid," said Lorilla, looking out of her little hammock. "He won't hurt you."

"Excuse me," said the prince, "I did not see you, or I should have been more careful. How would you like to be a general of the army of the kingdom of Nassimia?"

"That sounds splendidly!" cried little Lorilla.

The giant looked bewildered. He could not understand, at all, what the prince was talking about. But when Nassime explained it to him, he said he would like very well to be head general of the army, and he accepted the position.

Rising to his feet, the giant offered to carry the prince on his arm, so that they could get along faster, and in this way they traveled, all discussing, with much zest, the scheme of the new kingdom.

About noon, they began to be hungry, and so they sat down in a shady place, the giant having said that he had something to eat in a bag, and spread out half a dozen enormous loaves of bread, two joints of roast meat, a boiled ham, and about a bushel of roasted potatoes.

"Is that the food for your whole army?" asked Lorilla.

"Oh, no," answered the giant, who was a young fellow with a good appetite. "I bought this for myself, but there will be enough for you two. I don't believe I should have eaten it quite all, anyway."

"I should hope not," said the prince. "Why, that would last me several weeks."

"And me a thousand years," said Lorilla.

"You will talk differently, if you ever grow to be as big as I am," said the giant, smiling, as he took a bite from a loaf of bread.

When the meal was over, they all felt refreshed, and quite eager to meet the next comer, who was to be the admiral, or commander of the navy, of the new kingdom. For some time, they went on without seeing any one, but, at last, they perceived, in a field at some distance, a man on stilts. He was tending sheep, and wore the stilts so that he could the better see his flock, as it wandered about.

"There's the admiral!" said the giant. "Let me put you down, and run over and catch him."

So saying, he set the prince on the ground, and
ran toward the shepherd, who, seeing him coming, at once took to flight. His stilts were so long that he made enormous steps, and he got over the ground very fast. The giant had long legs, and he ran swiftly, but he had a great deal of trouble to get near the man on stilts, who dodged in every direction, and rushed about like an enormous crane. The poor frightened sheep scattered themselves over the fields, and hid in the bushes.

At last, the giant made a vigorous dash, and swooping his long arm around, he caught the shepherd by one stilt, and waving him around his head, shouted in triumph.

The prince and Lorilla, who had been watching this chase with great interest, cheered in return.

"Now we have an admiral," said the fairy, as the giant approached, proudly bearing the shepherd aloft. "Don't you think it would be well for you to get out your crown and scepter? He ought to understand, at once, that you are the king."

So Nassime took his crown and scepter from his bag, and putting the first on his head, held the other in his hand. He looked quite kingly when the giant came up, and set the shepherd down on[illustration - "The giant looked bewildered."] his knees before him, with his stilts sticking out ever so far behind.

"I am glad to see you," said the prince, "and I herewith make you admiral of my royal navy."

"Admiral?" cried the poor frightened man. "I don't understand."

"Oh, it's all right," exclaimed the merry little [illustration - The general resolves to secure an admiral.] Lorilla, as she slipped out of the prince's sash, and ran up to the shepherd. "We 're going to have a splendid kingdom, and we 're just getting together the head officers. I 'm chief councillor, that giant is the general of the army, and we want you to command the navy. There 'll be a salary, after a while, and I know you 'll like it."

When she went on to explain the whole matter to the shepherd, his fear left him, and he smiled. "I shall be very glad to be your admiral," he then said, to the prince, whereupon the giant lifted him up on his feet, or rather on to the stilts, which were strapped to his feet and ankles, and the affair was settled. The party now went on, the giant and the man on stilts side by side, the prince on the giant's arm, and Lorilla in Nassime's sash.

"What other great officer must we have?" asked she of Nassime.

"The chief officer of the treasury, or chancellor of the exchequer. I see him now."

It was true. Along a road in a valley below
them, a man was walking. Instantly all were excited. The giant and the man on stilts wished to run after the new-comer, but the prince forbade it, saying it would be better to approach him quietly.

The man, who halted when he saw them, proved to be a clam-digger, with his clam-rake over one shoulder, and a large basket in his hand. The prince did not waste many words with this person, who was a rather humble-minded man, but briefly explained the situation to him, and told him that he was now the chancellor of the exchequer, in charge of the treasury of the kingdom of Nassimia.

The man, remarking that he saw no objection to such a position, and that it might, in the end, be better than clam-digging, joined the prince's party, which again proceeded on its way.

That night, they all slept in a palm-grove, first making a supper of cocoa-nuts, which the giant and the admiral picked from the tops of the trees.

"Now, then," said Nassime, in the moring, "what we must have next, is an aristocracy. Out of this upper class, we can then fill the government offices."

"Very true," said the giant, "and we shall want an army. I do not feel altogether like a general, without some soldiers under me."

"And Imust have a navy," said the admiral.

"And there must be common people," remarked the chancellor of the exchequer. "For we shall need some folks on whom I can levy taxes with which to carry on the government."

"You are all right," said Nassime, "and this is the way we will manage matters. All the people we meet to-day shall be aristocrats of Nassimia; all we meet to-morrow shall form the army, and all we meet the next day shall be taken to make up the navy. After that, we will collect common people, until we have enough."

"I can tell you now," said the admiral, "how to get a lot of aristocrats all together in a bunch. A mile ahead of where we now are, is a school-house, and it is full of boys, with a gray-headed master. Those fellows ought to make excellent aristocrats."

"They will do very well," said Nassime, "and we will go quietly forward and capture them all."

When they reached the school-house, Nassime, with his crown on his head and his scepter in his hand, took his position at the front door, the giant crouched down by the back door, the chancellor stood by one window and the admiral tried to stand by the other, but his stilts were so long that he looked over the roof, instead of into the window.

"Is not that a well near you?" said the little councilor Lorilla, who was perched on a vine, for[illustration - The general and the admiral led the procession.] safe-keeping. "Step into that, and you will, most likely, be just tall enough."

The admiral stepped into the well, which was close to the house, and found that he stood exactly high enough to command the window. When all were posted, Nassime opened his door, and stepping
a short distance into the room, declared his title and position, and called upon them all to consider themselves members of the aristocracy of his kingdom. The moment he said this, the astonished and frightened boys sprang to their feet and made[illustration - The giant and his army.] a rush for the back door, but when they threw it open, there squatted the giant, with a broad grin on his face, and his hands spread out before the door-way. They then turned and ran, some for one window and some for the other, but at one stood the treasurer, brandishing his clam-rake, and at the other the admiral, shaking his fists. There was no escape,—one or two, who tried to pass by Nassime, having been stopped by a tap on the head from his scepter,—and so the boys crowded together in the middle of the room, while some of the smaller ones began to cry. The master was too much startled and astonished to say a word.

Then came running into the room little Lorilla, and mounting to the top of the school-master's table, she addressed the school, telling them all about the new kingdom, and explaining what a jolly time they would have. It would be like a long holiday, and although their master would go with them, to teach them what they would have to know in their new positions, it would not be a bit like going to school.

So, when all was settled, the whole school, headed by the master, made ready to follow Nassime and his officers. The giant pulled the admiral out of the well, much to the delight of the boys, and all started off in high good humor.

The company went into camp on the edge of a wood, quite early in the evening, because Lorilla said the boys ought not to be up late. If it had not been for the luncheons which the boys had in their baskets, and which they cheerfully shared with their older companions, many of the party would have gone to sleep hungry that night. As for the giant, it is probable that he did go to sleep hungry, for it would have taken the contents of all the baskets to have entirely satisfied his appetite.

Early the next morning, he aroused the party. "Here are a few bushels of cocoa-nuts," he cried, emptying a great bag onto the ground. "I gathered them before any of you were awake. Eat them quickly, for we must be off. To-day is my army day, and I want to get as many soldiers as I can."

As every one was very willing to please the giant, an early start was made, and, before very long, the party reached the edge of a desert. They journeyed over the sand nearly all day, but not a living being did they see. Late in the afternoon, a black man, on an ostrich, was seen coming from behind a hillock of sand, and immediately, with a great shout, the whole party set out in chase.

It is probable that the man on the bird would have soon got away from his pursuers, had not the ostrich persisted in running around in a great circle, while, with the whoops and shouts, the giant and the rest succeeded in heading off the ostrich, which tumbled over, throwing the rider on the sand. The bird then ran off as fast as he could go, while the negro was seized by every aristocrat who could get near enough to lay hold of him. The giant now came up, and lifted the man from the midst of his young captors. "You need not be frightened," said he. "You are to belong to my army. That is all. I will treat you well."

"And not kill me?" whimpered the black man.

"Certainly not," said the giant. "I need soldiers too much to want to kill the only one I 've
got. Fall into line, behind me, and we 'll march on and see if we cannot find you some comrades."

But by night-fall the giant's army still consisted of one black man. The party encamped in an oasis, where grew a number of date-palms, the fruit of which afforded a plentiful supper for everybody. The giant had not much appetite, and he looked solemn while gazing at his army, as it sat cross-legged on the ground, eating dates.

The next morning, the admiral earnestly petitioned that they should try to get out of the desert as soon as possible. "For," said he, "I have a dreadful time in this sand with my stilts, and I really need more men in my navy than the giant has in his army. Besides, the best kind of sailors can never be found in a dry desert, like this."

As no one could object to this reasoning, they set forth, turning to the east, and, before noon, they saw before them fields and vegetation, and shortly afterward they came to a broad river. Journeying down the bank of this for a mile or two, they perceived, lying at anchor in the stream, a good-sized vessel, with a tall mast, and a great sail hauled down on the deck.

"Hurrah!" shouted the admiral, the moment he set eyes upon this prize, and away he went for it, as fast as his stilts would carry him. When he reached the water, he waded right in, and was soon standing looking over the vessel's side.

He did not get on board, but, after standing for some time talking to a person inside, he waded back to the shore, where his companions were anxiously waiting to hear what he had discovered.

"There are not many persons on board," he said, rather ruefully. "Only an old woman and a girl. One is the cook and the other washes bottles. There were a good many men on the ship, but the old woman says that they all went away yesterday, carrying with them a vast number of packages. She thinks they were a lot of thieves, and that they have gone off with their booty and have deserted the vessel. She and the girl were simply hired as servants, and knew nothing about the crew. It is n't exactly the kind of navy I wanted, but it will do, and we may see some men before night."

It was unanimously agreed that the government of Nassimia should take possession of the deserted vessel, and the giant soon managed to pull her to shore, anchor and all. Everybody excepting the giant went on board, Nassime and Lorilla going first, then the government officers, the aristocracy, and the army. The admiral stood on his stilts, with his head up in the rigging, and the ship was formally placed under his command. When all was ready, the giant ran the ship out into the stream, wading in up to his middle; and then he very carefully clambered on board. The vessel rocked a good deal as he got in, but it could carry him so long as he kept quiet.

"As my navy is not large enough, just now, to work the ship," said the admiral to Nassime, "and, also, as it does n't know anything about such work, I shall have to have the help of the aristocracy, and also to ask the general to lend me his army."

"All right," said the giant, "you can have him."

A number of the larger boys, assisted by the negro, now went to work and hoisted the sail. Then the army was sent to the helm, the vessel was put before the wind, and the kingdom of Nassimia began to sail away.

There was a large quantity of provisions on board, enough to last many days, and everybody ate heartily. But not a person was seen that day on either bank of the river.

They anchored at night, and the next morning, setting sail again, they soon entered a broad sea or lake. They sailed on, with the wind behind them, and everybody enjoyed the trip. The admiral sat on the stern, with his stilts dangling behind in the water, as the ship sailed on, and was very happy.

"Now," said the chancellor of the exchequer, as the officers of the government were talking together on deck, "all we want is some common people, and then we can begin the kingdom in real earnest."

"We must have some houses and streets," said Nassime, "and a palace. All those will be necessary before we can settle down as a kingdom."

They sailed all night, and the next day they saw land before them. And, slowly moving near the shore, they perceived a long caravan.

"Hi!" shouted the chancellor of the exchequer, "there are the common people!"

Everybody was now very much excited, and everybody wanted to go ashore, but this Nassime would not permit. Capturing a caravan would be a very different thing from capturing a negro on an ostrich, and the matter must be undertaken with caution and prudence. So, ordering the ship brought near the shore, he made ready to land, accompanied only by the giant and Lorilla.

The giant had found a spare mast on the vessel, and he had trimmed and whittled it into a convenient club. This he took under one arm, and, with Nassime on the other, wearing his crown and carrying Lorilla in his sash, the giant waded ashore, and stopped a short distance in front of the approaching caravan.

Nassime, having been set on the ground, advanced to the leader of the caravan, and, drawing his sword, called upon him to halt. Instantly the procession stopped, and the leader, dismounting from his horse, approacehd Nassime, and bowed low before him, offering to pay tribute, if necessary.

"We will not speak of tribute," said Nassime,
"at least not now. What I wish, is to know who you all are, and where you are going."

"That is easily answered," said the other, giving a glacne upward at the giant, who stood leaning on his club, behind Nassime; "we are a company of men of high degree of philosophers and of rich[illustration - The kingdom of Nassimia afloat.] merchants, who have joined together to visit foreign lands, to enjoy ourselves and improve our minds. We have brought with us our families, our slaves, and our flocks and other possessions. We wish to offend no one, and if you object to our passing through your dominions—"

"I do not object," said Nassime, "I am very glad you came this way. These are not my dominions. I am king of Nassimia."

"And where is that, your majesty?"

"It is not anywhere in particular, just now," said Nassime, "but we shall soon fix upon a spot where its boundaries will be established. It is a new kingdom, and only needed a body of com—"

"Say populace," whispered Lorilla, from his sash, "the other might offend him."

"And only needed a populace," continued Nassime, "to make it complete. I am the king—of royal blood and education. I have ministers of state and finance; an admiral and a navy; a general of the army, whom you see here," pointing to the giant, "and an aristocracy, which is at present on board of that ship. I have been looking for a populace, and am very glad to have met you. You and your companions are now my people."

"What, your majesty?" cried the astonished leader of the caravan. "I do not comprehend."

Nassime then explained the plan and purpose of his kingdom, and assured the other that he and his countrymen could nowhere be more happy than in the kingdom of Nassimia, where every opportunity of enjoyment and the improvement of the mind would be offered to the people.

The leader, on hearing this, begged permission to consult with his fellow-travelers. Some advised one thing and some another, but the sight of the giant, who every now and then playfully struck the earth with the end of his club in such a way as to make the ground tremble, hastened their decision.

"If we were poor men," said one of the philosophers, "and had no treasures with us, we might scatter in various directions, and many of us might escape. That giant could not kill us all. But we are too rich for that. We cannot run away from our great possessions. We must submit in peace."

So it was settled that they should submit to the king of Nassimia and become his people, and the leader carried the decision to Nassime.

The chancellor of the exchequer now became very anxious to go on shore. He had cast off his clam-digger's clothes, and wore a magnificent suit which he had found in the ship, and which had belonged to the robber captain. He stood on the deck and made signs for the giant to come for him. So the giant sent for him, and soon returned, bringing also the army, which the chancellor had borrowed of him for a time. This officer, as soon as he had landed, approached Nassime and said:

"These, then, are the common people. I suppose I might as well go to work and collect taxes."

"You need no hurry about that," said Nassime.

"They will never believe in your government until you do it," urged the chancellor, and so Nassime allowed him to do as he wished, only telling him not to levy his taxes too heavily.

Then the chancellor, with the negro behind him, carrying his old clam-basket, over which a cloth had been thrown, went through the caravan and collected taxes enough in gold and sivler to fill his basket. He also collected a horse for himself and one for Nassime. "Now," said he, "we have the foundation of a treasury, and the thing begins to look like a kingdom."

Everything being now satisfcatorily arranged, the
company began to move on. The giant, with his army at his heels, and his club over his shoulder, marched first. Then rode Nassime with Lorilla, then the chancellor, with his basket of treasure before him on his horse and after him the caravan. The ship sailed along a short distance from the shore.

In the evening, the land party encamped near the shore, and the vessel came to anchor, the giant shouting to the admiral Nassime's commands.The chancellor wished to make another collection of taxes, after supper, but this Nassime forbade.

Lorilla then had a long talk with Nassime, apart from the company, assuring him that what was needed next was the royal city.

"Yes, indeed," said Nassime, "and we are not likely to meet with that as we have met with everything else. We must build a city, I suppose."

"No," Lorilla said gayly. "We can do much better. Do you see that heavy forest in the great capital city of my people, the fairies. We are scattered in colonies all over the country, but there[illustration - The land force on the march.] is our court and our queen. And it is the fairies who can help you to get a royal city. This very evening, I will go and see what can be done."

So, that evening, Nassime took Lorilla to the edge of the forest, and while she ran swiftly to its depths, he lay down and slept. Early the next morning, while the stars were still shining, she returned and awoke him, and while they were going to the camp she told him her news.

"Our queen," she said, "will have a city built for you, all complete, with everything that a city needs, but before she will have this done, she commands that some one in your party shall be changed into a fairy, to take my place. This must be a grown person who consents to the exchange, as I have agreed to be your chief councilor of state. And it must be some one whose mind has never been occupied with human affairs."

Nassime was cheered by this idea, and as soon as they reached the shore, he asked the gian to carry him and Lorilla to the ship. Early as it was, they found the young girl sitting on the deck, quietly washing bottles. She had lost her parents when an infant, and had never had any one to care for. She had passed her life, since she was a very small child, in washing bottles, and as this employment does not require any mental labor, she had never concerned herself about anything.

"She will do," exclaimed Lorilla, when she had
found out all this. "I don't believe her mind was ever occupied at all. It is perfectly fresh for her to begin as a fairy."

When the girl was asked if she would be a fairy, she readily consented, for it made no difference to her what she was, and when the admiral was asked if he would give her up, he said: "Oh, yes! To be sure, it will reduce my navy to one person, but even then, it will be as large as the army. You may take her, and welcome." The bottle-washer therefore was taken to the shore, and Nassime conducted her to the woods with Lorilla. There he left them, promising to return at sunset.

"You must be careful of one thing," said Lorilla to him, before he left, "and that is, not to let those aristocrats come on shore. If they get among the populace, they will begin to lord it over them in a way that will raise a dreadful commotion."

Nassime promised to attend to this, and when he went back he sent orders to the admiral, on no account to allow any aristocrat to come on shore. This order caused great discontent on the vessel. The boys could n't see why they alone should be shut up in the ship. They had expected to have lots of fun when the common people were found.

It was, therefore, with great difficulty that they were restrained from jumping overboard and swimming ashore in a body. The master had been made an ancient noble, but his authority was of little avail, and the poor admiral had his hands full. Indeed, he would have been in despair, had it not been for the gallant conduct of his navy. That brave woman seized a broom, and marching around the deck, kept watchful guard. Whenever she saw a boy attempting to climb over the side of the vessel, she brought down the broom with a whack upon him, and tumbled him back on the deck. In the afternoon, however, the giant came to the vessel with a double arm-load of rich fruit, cakes, pastry and confectionary, an offering from the common people, which so delighted the aristocrats that there was peace on board for the rest of the day.

At sunset, Nassime went to the woods and met Lorilla, who was waiting for him.

"It 's all right!" she cried; "the bottle-washer is to be magically dwindled down to-night. And when everybody is asleep, the fairies will come here and will see how many people there are and what they are like, and they will build a city just to suit. It will be done to-morrow."

Nassime could scarcely believe all this, but there was nothing to be done but to wait and see. That night, everybody went to sleep quite early. And if the fairies came and measured them for a city, they did not know it.

In the morning, Nassime arose, and walked down toward the shore. As he did so, a lady came out of a tent and approached him. He thought he knew her features, but he could not remember who she was. But when she spoke, he started back and cried out: "Lorilla!"

"Yes," said the lady, laughing, "it is Lorilla. The king of Nassimia ought to have a chief councilor of state who is somewhat longer than his finger, and last night, as the girl who took my place dwindled down to the size of a fairy, I grew larger and larger, until I became as large as she used to be. Do you like the change?"

Lorilla was beautiful. She was richly dressed, and her lovely face was as merry and gay as ever.

Nassime approached her and took her hand.

"The chief councilor of my kingdom shall be its queen," he said, and calling a priest from the populace, the two were married on the spot.

Great were the rejoicings on land and water, but there was no delay in getting ready to march to the royal city, the domes and spires of which Lorilla pointed out to them behind some lovely groves.

Nassime was about to signal for the ship to come to shore, but Lorilla checked him.

"I 'm really sorry for those poor aristocrats, but it will never do to take them to the royal city. They are not needed, and they would make all sorts of trouble. There is nothing to be done but to let the admiral sail away with them, and keep on sailing until they are grown up. Then they will come back, fit to be members of the nobility. They will have their master with them, and you can put three or four philosophers on board, and they can be as well educated, traveling about in this way, as if they were going to school.

Nassime felt sorry for the aristocrats, but he saw that this was good advice, and he took it. A quantity of provisions and four philosophers were sent on board the ship, and the admiral was ordered to sail away until the boys grew up. As he liked nothing better than sailing, this suited the admiral exactly and after having a few sheep sent on board, with which to amuse himself during the calms, he hoisted sail, and was soon far away.

The rest of the kingdom marched on, and in good time reached the royal city. There it stood, with its houses, streets, shops, and everything that a city should have. The royal palace glittered in the center, and upon a hill there stood a splendid castle for the giant!

Everybody hurried forward. The name of the owner was on every house, and every house was already furnished, so in a few minutes the whole city was at home.

The king, leading his queen up the steps of his royal palace, paused at the door.

"All this," he said, "I owe to you. From the
very beginning, you have given me nothing but good advice."

"But that is not the best of it," she said, laughing. "You always took it."

The vessel carrying the aristocrats sailed away and away, with the admiral sitting on the stern, his stilts dangling in the water behind, as the ship moved on.