“What do you make of that?” puffed Samuel Salt as Roger dropped
breathlessly down on his shoulder. “Well, ‘Hung wung wah HEEE!’ it is.
Let’s give them a cheer for luck.” Lifting his great voice, the Royal
Discoverer for Oz, helped out by his two shipmates, sent the weird call
booming back across the water.
An answering call came from the Island, and then, with a hiss and thud,
a small glowing object fell on the deck. Fortunately the fire tongs
were still handy and picking up the offending object before it could do
any damage, Ato marched sternly off to the galley. Stopping long enough
for another wave to the Island, which was growing smaller and smaller
as the _Crescent Moon_ sped away, Samuel hastened after his cook,
jotting down hurried notes in his journal as to latitude and longitude
as he ran along.
“There’s something written on this piece of lava,” announced Ato, who
had dropped the smoking souvenir from Lavaland on the stove. Peering
over his shoulder, Samuel could see queer raised symbols and signs on
the sulphurous surface of the rock.
“There’s something crawling on it, too,” volunteered Roger, who was
perched on the towel rack above the stove, and had a better view, “a
golden frog or a lizard.”
“Merciful mustard! What next?” groaned Ato.
“Why, this–this–” Samuel’s voice quivered with excitement and
disbelief, “this, Mates, is as fine a specimen of a Preoztoric Monster
as a scientist could hope for; a real live salamander, a fire lizard,
straight from the burning depths of yonder crater. Stars! Tar and
Tarrybarrels! This is even better than the baby and will prove my point
just as well.”
“Does it have to live on my stove?” asked Ato ominously, as the
Salamander slid merrily backward and forward over the red hot plates of
the range. “Home on the range!” snickered Roger, winking at the Pirate.
“Just till I can fix up a hot box for it,” apologized Samuel, “but
don’t fret, old Toff, it doesn’t bite and if it falls on the floor, all
you have to do is scoop it up and put it back before it goes out.”
“Not only cook, mate and swab, but now I’m nursemaid to a fire lizard.”
Ato shuddered, and reaching for his tall cook’s cap, jammed it down
hard on his shiny bald head.
“You can keep it in an iron pot while you cook,” suggested Roger
practically, “and after all, King dear, it’s the only Salamander in
captivity. Here, Sally, here Sal–this way, my little crater critter.”
Tilting the pot on the back of the stove, Roger was delighted to find
the Salamander quite willing to answer to her new name. As she slid
adventurously into the small cooking vessel, the Read Bird quickly
righted the pot and clapped on the cover. “There,” he exclaimed with a
satisfied nod at his Master, “how’s that?”
“Well, I suppose I’ll have to put up with it,” sighed Ato resignedly.
“But in some ways pirating was easier than discovering, Sammy. At
least, we never kept the captives on the stove. And NOW–” Ato waved
his arms determinedly. “Clear out, both of you. It’s three bells and
time to stir up the food. And just take that pesky rock along with you.
I’ve meat to broil!”
“When this cools, maybe I’ll be able to figure out the language,”
exulted Samuel, removing the offending piece of lava with a cake
turner. “All in all, a most interesting and profitable day, eh, Roger?
An island, a visit from a fire baby, and a real live Preoztoric
“Not bad,” agreed the Read Bird, transferring himself to the Captain’s
shoulder. Depositing the piece of lava on an iron hatchway to cool,
Samuel strode happily along the deck, stopping to light the red lamps
on the port and the green lights on the starboard. Roger himself had
just hung a white light in the rigging when a lusty call from the
galley sent him flying off to help Ato serve the dinner.
“What could be cozier than a life at sea?” he reflected, winging
jauntily into the main cabin with a dish of roast potatoes. Ato puffed
cheerfully behind, bearing a huge tray. On the tray a steaming tureen
of soup, a pot of coffee, seven dishes of vegetables and two of smoking
meats sent up tantalizing whiffs and fragrances. Later when the Read
Bird brought in the pudding, he and Sammy soberly agreed it was the
tastiest feast Ato had served on the voyage.
The main cabin of the _Crescent Moon_, with its red leather couches
under the ports, its easy chairs and tables clamped to the floor to
keep them from shifting, with its ship’s clock and ship’s lanterns,
was a cheery place to be when the day’s work was ended. There was a
huge fireplace for foggy evenings and every visible space on the wall
was covered with pictures of pirate ships, ancient sailing vessels and
rough maps and charts of strange and curious islands. While Samuel
and Ato sat at their ease to finish off the pudding, Roger took his
upon the wing, darting in and out between bites to assure himself that
all was well on deck. There was a tiny crescent moon sliding down the
sky, and the slap of waves against the side of the ship and the wind
creaking in the cordage made as pleasant a tune as the heart of a
seaman could wish for.
“Now what could be better than this?” said Samuel Salt exhaling a cloud
of smoke from his pipe and stretching his legs luxuriously under the
long table. “A tidy ship, a good wind and the whole wide sea to sail
“Suits me!” grinned Ato scraping up the last of the hard sauce and
settling back with a grunt of sheer content. “Did you mark up our
volcano on the chart Sammy, and what are we calling it Mates? An island
must have a name you know.”
“I know.” Samuel blew another cloud of smoke upward and cleared his
throat. “If it’s agreeable to all hands and Roger, I’d like to call it
Salamander Island after Sally.”
“Why not? There’s a Sally in our galley and a real nice gal is Sally,”
warbled Roger, settling on the back of Samuel’s chair and wagging his
head in time to the music.
“Sing like a bird, don’t ye?” muttered Samuel striding over to the map
of Oz and surrounding countries and oceans that covered the west wall.
“I AM a bird,” screamed Roger fluttering up to his shoulder. “‘Bout
here she would lie, Master Salt, sixty leagues from Octagon Island.”
As Roger talked on, making numerous suggestions, the Captain of the
_Crescent Moon_ drew with red chalk a small but effective picture
of Salamander Island showing the volcano in action and the Lavaland
Islanders grouped around the crater’s top.
“Taken this day without a shot or the loss of a single man,” printed
Samuel in neat letters under his sketch.
“Don’t forget, you shot the baby,” twittered Roger raising a claw
“Oh, we can’t put in small details like that,” sniffed the Captain
stepping back to admire his drawing.
“Seems odd for us to be discovering and taking possession of islands
for a country we know so little about,” mused Ato, looking thoughtfully
at the map on the west wall. “Why, we’ve only been to Oz once
“Yes, but everybody knows about Oz,” Samuel said putting the red chalk
back in the table drawer. “Our business is with wild new countries
that have never been seen or heard of. Besides, anyone can see that Oz
is overpopulated and needs new territories and sea ports. And since
Ozma is so clever at governing, and her subjects all so happy and
prosperous, the more people who come under her rule the better!”
“Aye! Aye!” agreed Roger, peering with deep interest at the map. Small
wonder the Read Bird was interested, for Oz is one of the most exciting
and enchanting countries ever discovered. There are four large Kingdoms
in Ozma’s realm, the Northern Land of the Gillikens, the Eastern Empire
of the Winkies, the Southern Country of the Quadlings and the Western
domain of the Munchkins. Each forms a triangle in the oblong of Oz. The
Emerald City which is the capital, is in the exact center where all
these triangles meet. Each of these Kingdoms has its own ruler, but
all four are under the sovereign rule and control of Ozma, the small
but powerful fairy who lives in the Emerald City. On all sides, Oz is
surrounded by a deadly desert and beyond the desert lie the independent
Kingdoms of No-Land, Low Land, Ix, Play, Ev, the Dominions of the
Gnome King, and many other strange and important Principalities. These
countries form a narrow rim around the desert, and beyond this rim lies
the Nonestic Ocean itself, stretching in all directions and to no one
knows what far and undiscovered shores. Each of the four Kingdoms in
Oz shown on Samuel’s map was so dotted with smaller Kingdoms, cities,
towns, villages and the holdings of ancient Knights and Barons, there
was scarcely room for another castle. With young Princes growing up on
every hand, Roger could well sympathize with the need of Ozma for more
“Won’t the Ozians have too long a way to come before they reach these
new islands and countries we discover?” inquired the Read Bird, after
staring at the map for some moments in silence.
“Not a bit of it!” Samuel dismissed Roger’s objection with a snap of
his fingers. “I hear the Wizard of Oz is working on a new fleet of
airships, that will make crossing the desert and Nonestic a real lark
and enable new settlers to reach these outlying islands in a day or
less. So all we have to do is to proceed with our discovering. Ozma
will attend to the rest. This volcanic island may not be as useful as
some of the others, but one can never tell. How about picking up a few
islands for you, Ato, as we ride along?” The former pirate dropped his
arm affectionately round the shoulders of his Royal Cook.
“No, thanks,” grunted Ato, rolling cheerfully to his feet. “One’s
enough. What would I want with any more islands? Why I’d never get off
on a voyage. But pick yourself a couple, Sammy, why don’t you?”
“Who, ME?” Samuel Salt shook his head emphatically. “A ship’s all I
can handle and I wouldn’t trade you two buckets of sea water for all
the islands in the Nonestic. One ship and one crew’s enough for me,
and since you’re my crew, you’d better turn in–we’ve had a hard day
and another one coming. I’ll take first watch, Cooky, here, shall have
middle, and you Roger can be the early bird on morning watch.”
“Ho hum! I’m right sleepy at that,” admitted Ato, starting to heap up
plates. “Give me a lift with the dishes, Roger, will you?”
“Oh, throw ’em overboard,” directed Samuel Salt recklessly. “There’s
plenty more in the hold and I’m agin all extry labor.”
“Hurray!” screamed Roger seizing the coffee pot and winging merrily
through an open port.
“Avast! Avast there! Not my coffee pot!” pleaded Ato, making after the
Read Bird with surprising speed considering his tonnage. “Stop you
great Gossoon! How many times must I tell you I’m boss of the galley?”
Catching Roger by the leg just as he reached the rail, Ato snatched
back his precious coffee pot and hugged it protectively to his bosom.
“Why I’ve just got this contraption broken in proper,” he panted
indignantly. “A coffee pot’s like a pipe, it’s got to be sweetened and
seasoned. Heave over the plates and cups if you like,” he went on,
relenting a bit as he noted the keen disappointment on Roger’s face,
“but save the soup tureen. I’ll wager there’s not another that size on
the ship and the Captain must have his soup. What a splendid pot of
soup THIS would make,” murmured Ato looking dreamily down at the sea,
“a bit salty, perhaps, but full of snapper and porgy and tender young
sea shoots. Why that foam’s as near to whipping cream as anything I’ve
ever gazed on.”
Tearing himself reluctantly from the appetizing sight, the Royal Cook
padded off to put the galley in order for the night, while Roger with
loud squalls of glee dropped the plates and saucers one by one over
the side. In this way the dishes were soon done, the cabin tidy and
shipshape, and by eight bells the King and the Read Bird were sleeping
soundly and Samuel Salt had the ship to himself.
First, he made a complete round of all decks, glanced at the barometer
and compass, and furled the fore and mizzen topsails. Then he took the
cooled piece of lava down to the hold. The strange signs and symbols
had hardened, and labeling it carefully with the date and name of
Salamander Island, Samuel placed it on his shelves for further study.
Then returning to the main deck he set a portable ship’s lantern on
a coil of rope and settled down to fix a hot box for the Salamander.
Selecting from the material he had brought from the hold an iron box
with a glass lid, he covered the bottom with sand and pebbles. Knowing
salamanders require hot water as well as hot air, he placed a tiny
flat pan of water in the corner of the box to serve as a swimming
pool. A burning glass in the day time and an alcohol lamp under the
box at night would supply the necessary heat, and setting the whole
contrivance on an iron tray in the cabin, Samuel went joyfully off to
fetch the fire lizard.
The Salamander was still in the pot on the back of the stove, and
giving her an experimental poke with his finger, Samuel was astonished
to find her quite cool to the touch. This was surprising considering
she could only live in the most intense heat. But without stopping to
figure it out, the Captain picked her up between thumb and forefinger,
carried her to the cabin and popped her into the iron box. He had
already lighted the lamp under the box so that everything was red
hot and cozy for her. The small captive seemed to appreciate her new
quarters, wriggling over the hot pebbles and sand, then splashing gaily
in her swimming pool.
“Quite a girl!” sighed the pirate, resting his elbows on the table and
gazing happily down at the first prize of the voyage. “You’re going
to be great company for me, Sally.” As if she really understood, the
lizard gave a squeak and tapped loudly on the glass lid with her
tail. The pipe almost dropped from Samuel’s mouth at Sally’s strange
behavior, and lifting the lid he peered inquisitively down at her.
Before he had a chance to clap it shut, the Salamander hurled herself
upward, landing smartly on the bridge of the Pirate’s nose, from where
she slid cleverly into the pipe itself.
“Well I’ll be scuppered!” gasped the Royal Explorer looking slightly
cross-eyed down the bridge of his nose as Sally coiled up comfortably
in the bowl of the pipe. “The little rascal wants to keep me company,
and so she shall, bless my boots, so she shall! Why this is plumb
cute and cozy and something to write in my journal.” Puffing away
delightedly Samuel stepped out of the cabin and all during his watch,
the little Salamander rested contentedly in his pipe. Sometimes she
peered up inquisitively over the edge, but mostly she lay quietly on
the smoking tobacco, looking with calm interest at the sky and the
rippling sails over her head. Not only did she keep his pipe from going
out, but never had it drawn so well. So, filled with a vast wonder
and content, Samuel strode up and down the deck. Not till midnight
when he roused Ato could he bear to put Sally back in her box and only
then, after he had promised her another ride in the morning. But when
morning came, Samuel had no time to keep his promise, for while Ato was
cooking breakfast and the Captain himself catching forty winks in the
cabin, the raucous voice of the Read Bird came whistling down from the
“Land Ho! Land! More Land. Island tuluward, Captain!”