Chapter XIV: Galumphing

“The Swallows were back in real life…”

Enough of this escapist charcoal burning. Serious stuff is afoot, and it’s time to get real. Actually, this bit is hyper real: there’s an acknowledgement that this isn’t, in fact, virgin territory if the Amazons got there first. Next, we’ll work on how it wasn’t empty anyway if the natives / savages / tribal charcoal burning witches were there…

I really like the idea of galumphing: a kind of running gallop which sounds more like controlled falling than anything very deliberate. Having attempted it, however, I have to acknowledge that I am actually a bit of a coward, and can only really galumph if the ground is pretty much horizontal. Another dream shattered.

But it’s OK. I shall be Susan. They need a Susan to whistle at them (I like to imagine an element of exasperation here) and remind them where they’re actually supposed to be going.

She also makes fire in a wigwam shape. I tried this, as well, and it’s harder than it sounds.  I love Susan’s enthusiasm for trying out cool new stuff at the earliest opportunity, and the fact that she can send everyone else off on errands while she gets totally engrossed in her task.

“It is always the mate’s business to see to the stowage of cargo.”

Really? Why is it important to mention that here? I mean, there’s a lot of ship-jargon and stuff, but this feels a bit like the author protestething too much.

Then Titty turns up with a whole dead tree, which naturally they have to load into the boat regardless of the fact that it’s already quite full and on the verge of sinking. There’s no discussion about this; it is a self-evident fact that one cannot leave behind a perfectly good dead tree. Nor, say, take out any of the other wood to make room for it. It’s a very good excuse for a paddle, though.

And then it all goes wrong. Captain Flint has left a nasty letter, and poor John has to be all worried and responsible, and Titty (bless her) thinks the situation will somehow be improved by writing ‘Captain Flint’ where he’s put his grown-up name but really, that doesn’t help a huge amount at all. Insomnia beckons.

Although strangely, none of them stop to wonder what Captain Flint is actually talking about. Why does he think someone has done something to his boat? Could it be that someone has actually, y’know, done something to his boat?


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