is a funny book - read it and laugh!!!
This is a funny book - read it and laugh!!!
About the author
I. M. Kidding wanted to be a writer already before he was born. But he soon lost his ambition when he realized that it would be a rotten life. He was more interested in having fun. In order to do so, he worked in factories, for the railways, as a waiter and a cleaner.
Finally he was allowed to spend his time in an office. In this blissful state the years rushed past him. Before he knew it, he was forced to retire. How to fill all those empty hours? He remembered his ambition as an embryo. He started putting a few words together. And he realizes now that being a writer is really a rotten life.
red Browne could hardly wait until dinner was over. He knew that his host, Lord Squashbuckle, would never discuss business while he was eating. Usually, that didn’t matter because any transaction suggested by this grey and somewhat dilapidated gentleman amounted to not much more than trifles.
But this time it was different. Fred had received a letter urging him to Squashbuckle Manor, because exciting and extraordinary discoveries had been made.
The presence of Lady Diddlewit as the other guest suggested that something big was brewing indeed! The good woman, who had inherited a vast fortune from her husband, was known as a great benefactor of grand and adventurous schemes. It was her way of getting the thrills she had missed so badly during her married life.
Finally, with dinner over, they withdrew to the library for drinks and the long awaited talk. It proved by no means an easy task! Whenever Lord Squashbuckle touched alcohol, his speech impediment of pronouncing every ‘s’ as a ‘sh’ took over. His listeners found it hard to concentrate on what he was saying. Lady Diddlewit’s mind often wandered into the past and was a bit confused when it came back to the present. There was a rumour she only pretended to be hard of hearing so that she could be left alone with herself.
“Well, now we can shettle down to bushinesh.”
“What was that?” asked Lady Diddlewit.
“The Lord said we can settle down to business,” shouted Fred.
“I don’t know yet. He is about to explain.”
“Good. But speak up dear, so that I can hear you too.”
Lord Squashbuckle cleared his throat. It continued into a coughing fit which made him spill his whisky. He jumped up.
“Come on, Ruthbert. Spare yourself the dramaticals, we are not impressed.” Lady Diddlewit was slightly annoyed.
“Damn it! I hate washting a good drop! But never mind.” He sat down again.
“What I have to tell you, ish by far more important. Wouldn’t you agree that our dinner wash delicoush?”
“It certainly was,” answered Fred. “But what has that got to do with matters at hand?”
“Everything. Not long ago, I employed a new cook.”
Fred felt irritated. My God, I hope he doesn’t want to open an inn or something like that.
“But thish cook ish not jusht another cook. He hash alsho an egshtraordinary mind. He ish something of a shcientisht.”
ish. And he hash worked out something of great interesht. We all know about the
silence. Fred didn’t quite comprehend the logic behind the statement. But Lady
Diddlewit smiled and exclaimed: “Yes, of course. The Star of
“There doesn’t seem to be any connection.”
“But there ish. My cook hash found out that the Shtar of Bethlehem wash a comet and when it finally fell to earth, it landed in the shouthern continent. Wouldn’t it be a great idea to go and find it?” Lord Squashbuckle looked directly at Fred. He smiled and his voice became sweet, sounding somewhat like a siren with a cold. “You come from a family of shelebritish. They all have been famoush in their time. And you yourshelf are a dashing young man.”
“What are you getting at?”
But it wasn’t
hard to guess. Lord Squashbuckle wanted to send Fred to the
agree. It was certainly an interesting venture. The Star of
“I’m shtunned. But I hope you will conshider the proposhal before you give ush a definite anshwer.”
“There is nothing to consider. I’ve got my reasons.”
Right from the time when he was a young boy, Fred had learned an important lesson. Over and over, his father had told him how dangerous it was to be a public figure. And there were some grisly facts to support the statement. Throughout history, many Brownes had suffered from overexposure. During the War of the Roses they had supported various characters and had spoken out in their favour. Unfortunately, they had often chosen the wrong ones. Many Browne lives were cut short in that time, usually through beheading.
It didn’t get much better later. One of the female Brownes caught the attention of Henry VIII. She would have been lucky if that was the only thing she caught from him. But no, she had to go ahead with the affair and died of syphilis not long after. This made Henry behead her brother because he was furious that the bitch had passed away before he could kill her.
The next generation of the Brownes wasn’t much smarter either. When the virgin queen Elizabeth needed a new lover, she chose one of them. He had been hanging around the throne for so long, she couldn’t help noticing him. Stupid, conceited fool he was, he thought himself in paradise when he finally held the virgin in his arms.
Not long after, he really was in paradise. He just couldn’t keep up with certain demands of the monarch. But his worst mistake was when he told her one night he would make love to her the French way. He was seized immediately as an enemy agent and the virgin had to look around for another victim.
Later, one of the Brownes made a murderous blunder when he was interviewed about his opinion of Oliver Cromwell. “Cromwell? Oh no, I don’t think he will ever come to power. We English wouldn’t want to become puritans. We like our bit of fun and love entertainment.”
The sentence was remembered a few years later and he entertained the puritans when the executioner had a bit of fun with him. Which made his son quickly sober up and declare everything human a sin. He learned to despise all the vanities of the flesh and even despised the flesh itself. Life was nothing but a torment. No wonder he was released from his agony permanently when Charles II came back and the English rediscovered fun and a jolly good show.
When Fred had reached the age of fifteen, his father followed in the footsteps of the ancestors. Many people at the time felt that a Browne should take over running the country. They told the poor fellow so often and so long about his duty to the nation, he started believing it. The other candidate for the job as Prime Minister was a completely incompetent man called Pitt.
Fred’s father started campaigning. He often told his listeners about his opponent: “Who could live with him in one country? It would be better to go to the other side of the world than remain in the country with him ruling.”
Pitt won and
Fred’s father was made to keep his word. He was sent to
Off he went
again to another place where he couldn’t annoy anyone. In
He finally came home and retired a bitter man. Soon after he died before he could repeat his statement about not becoming a public figure.
But Fred had learned his lesson well. He swore to himself he would never fall into the traps of his ancestors. He would not run any risks. No great adventures for him, thank you. Just remain one of many and bathe in the glory of mediocrity.
And apart from
that, he didn’t want to leave
Lady Diddlewit interrupted his thoughts. “Why doesn’t anyone say anything?”
Fred snapped back to the present scene. “I’m sorry, I have been thinking about the past. I’m afraid it took a bit too long.”
“Nonsense! You never can think about the past for too long!”
Lord Squashbuckle was getting a bit nervous. He rubbed his nose faster and faster as if he wanted to reshape it. “Look, thish ish getting ush nowhere. I can’t undershtand why you want to refushe our offer, Fred. Think of it. To have the Shtar of Bethlehem. It would be the mosht preshious find of all timesh. And you get a continent in the bargain. We can alwaysh claim the land ash our own.”
“For heaven’s sake, what would we do with it?”
“I don’t know. We could alwaysh shell it to the highesht bidder.”
“But how about the Dutch? They have been there and might want to claim it. They even call it New Holland.”
matter. We English alwaysh do that. Look at
“And the government? They wouldn’t let us get away with it!”
“Oh, you know how shlow our government ish.”
“Who is slow?” asked Lady Diddlewit who felt it was time to be part of the conversation again.
“Our government,” repeated Lord Squashbuckle.
“True, true. My husband and I invited them for tea last week but they didn’t come.”
Fred was astounded. “I thought your husband had passed away a few years ago.”
“My goodness, how time flies. You can’t hold on to anything any more.”
And then, Lord Squashbuckle dropped a bomb. He said he was quite willing to let his three daughters go with the expedition and assist Fred in all personal matters.
They were the loveliest girls and Fred had harboured secret thoughts about them for a long time. The idea started to interest him. After all, he would find a way to keep himself in the background. He could always state he had been forced to sail.
“I’m sure we find a way to keep you in the background. We could alwaysh shtate you had been forshed to sail.”
“You must have been reading my mind.”
“What have you been reading?” Lady Diddlewit enquired. “Was it a good book?”
Agreements were drawn up. Fred Browne was to command the ‘Endeavour’ and look for the unknown land and its treasure. Luckily, they could keep the mission a secret. The scientific cook had told Lord Squashbuckle that 1769 would also be an ideal year to observe the transit of Venus. They brought this fact to the attention of the Royal Society. It didn’t take the gentlemen long to agree that this was indeed of great interest.
But who could
observe it? One had to go to
The Royal Society was very pleased when they found out about Lord Squashbuckle’s planned expedition. What a jolly good fellow! They applauded him and were almost ecstatic when they heard that Fred Browne was in charge of the ship.
Also on board was a rich young man, called Banks. He wanted to go on a cruise because his doctor had told him it would be the only way to get cured of his split personality. Frequently, he changed personality and believed he was a Swedish botanist by the name of Dr. Solander. He brought with him a few of his servants who in turn sometimes believed they were artists.
And then, of course, the three lovely Squashbuckle girls. Yes, the gentleman had kept his word and sent them along to keep Fred company during his long journey. Their father had told them he placed great importance on this venture and they should keep an eye on Mr. Browne. If he didn’t stand up to expectations, they had to take matters into their own hands.
After that, to
And finally to
Fred sent the cook to interview her since the man obviously knew more about heavenly bodies than the others. He didn’t return for three months. The goddess was in dire need of human contact again, after floating around in space for so long by herself. When the cook came back he looked tired and worn out. He had worked very hard. But he had made some amazing discoveries and his curiosity was more than satisfied. The gentlemen of the Royal Society would be stunned by the revelations.
Now, it was time again to go and the ‘Endeavour’ weighed anchor. Unfortunately, it had become heavier during the stay. It was hard work to pull it out of the water.
And then they went off into the unknown.
A few months
followed with nothing but water around them. Life became monotonous. Even the
Squashbuckle girls found it hard to spread happiness on board. Morale amongst
the men sank lower and lower and many of them wanted to quit their job and be
sent home immediately. But in the end they made it to
Fred gave them a bit of time to recover and do some sightseeing and shopping. Some crewmembers were so impressed by the place, they decided to recommend it to all their friends and relatives as an ideal holiday spot.
Time flies when you are having fun! And so it was off again to their next destination. After a short trip the man on watch called out: “Land!”
No answer. It was early in the morning and everybody was still exhausted from last night’s drinking session.
“Damn it! Can’t you hear? I said: Land!!!”
The watchman ran up to Fred’s cabin, stumbled over the three Squashbuckle girls and woke his master. “Sir, I have sighted land.”
“Later, John, later! Don’t bother me now!”
“But, Sir, this might be Terra Australis Incognita.”
“So what? It’ll be there for a little longer.”
Both were proven right. It was Terra Australis Incognita and it was still there when Fred finally came out of his cabin. By then, the news had spread and the deck of the ship started to fill with pale but nevertheless curious people. The last one to arrive was Banks. He had decided not to be Dr. Solander any more and had lost interest in any new discoveries.
Fred conferred with the cook. “Is this the place where we find the Star of Bethlehem?”
“No. According to my calculations, we are too far south. We have to go up the coast. I’ll let you know when we hit the right spot.”
No sooner said than done. The ‘Endeavour’ swung around to enter a new chapter in history.
A New Chapter in History
They arrived at a large bay and came to a sudden halt.
The cook, who was standing beside Fred, shouted ecstatically: “Mister Browne! That’s it! We’ve hit the right spot!”
“We sure did. It will take us some time to get off the rocks and repair the damage. We shouldn’t have employed that guy. He was always a reckless driver.”
Fred, the three Squashbuckle girls, the cook and a few crewmembers went ashore and had a look around. But there wasn’t much to see. The land was fairly monotonous, dotted with eucalyptus trees and bush. They set up camp and worked out plans on how they would go about finding the Star of Bethlehem. They would explore all the areas around the bay because it had to be somewhere.
The next morning they split into two groups. Fred went out with one party while the cook took the rest of the people along. The Squashbuckle girls stayed behind to do the housework and prepare dinner because the men would be hungry when they came back.
The day passed without any major incident. In fact, it was downright boring. They walked and walked and walked but the landscape didn’t change one bit. In the evening Fred summoned up their feelings of disappointment in two sentences: “No wonder the Dutch didn’t stay here. Who wants a place like this?”
But the cook was of a different opinion. “I don’t agree. I love a sunburnt country.”
It was not until some days later that something of interest occurred. One of the members of Fred’s party walked around some trees and was suddenly confronted by a few black people.
“Jesus!” he exclaimed.
Fred was overjoyed. “Did you see him? That’s great. Then the Star of Bethlehem can’t be far.”
“Come here, Mister Browne. The Aborigines want to make contact with us. Maybe they know something we don’t.”
And maybe they did because they gesticulated wildly, pointing in various directions. Fred found it impossible to make out what they wanted. It was necessary to establish some form of communication. So he gave them a copy of ‘English as a Second Language’ and invited them to the camp for lessons. They came and made rapid progress under the guidance of the Squashbuckle girls.
Now it was time
to name the new country. They all agreed that Terra Australis Incognita was too
A week later a
catastrophe occurred. They ran out of tea. Fred went back to the ship to have a
talk with Banks who had locked himself away because he suffered from
homesickness and he wasn’t even sure whether it was for
Fred approached Bank’s cabin and knocked.” May I come in?”
“Certainly not! We’re just comparing notes on English and Swedish shrubberies and don’t want to be disturbed!”
“It will greatly add to your fame as botanists if you let me enter.”
The door opened.
“Hello, Browne,” said Banks.
“Hello, Browne,” he repeated but this time with a Swedish accent.
“Listen, matey, this place is teaming with plants that nobody has ever seen before. You’d better have a look around. And while you are at it, you might find something we can use for tea. Our supply has run out.”
“In that case we’d better do something about it,” said Banks with an accent.
“You like your cup of tea, don’t you, Mr. Banks?”
“I sure do. Especially when we are working late, like yesterday.” Banks turned around. “We’ll see what we can do.”
With this problem solved, Fred returned to the camp. He was overjoyed to hear that the Aborigines had just learned all about comets and the Star of Bethlehem and were eager to talk to him. He immediately went to meet them.
“Yes, what is it?”
“We’re sorry to have to disappoint you, Mister Browne, but you won’t find what you’re looking for.”
“You Star has vanished forever.”
“The very bay your ship is anchored in holds the answer. Originally, the shoreline around these parts was all straight. One day, a long time ago, a comet crashed down here and buried itself deep into the land. Parts of it broke away and drifted out into the ocean, never to be seen again. The water rushed in and ever since then this bay existed, and a number of inlets, estuaries and coves further north, which make an excellent harbour protected from the sea. But, unfortunately, your Star of Bethlehem is gone for good, spread over the bottom of all the oceans.”
“Bravo,” shouted the three Squashbuckle girls who had joined the conversation just in time to witness the last speech. “We shall give you full marks for your effort.”
They turned to the elder amongst the Aborigines. “Before long, you will become just like one of us.”
So that was the answer. That’s why they hadn’t found anything. Fred immediately gave the order to leave in a couple of days. Just enough time for Banks and Dr. Solander to collect enough plants for tea. Then he called the cook. “Bad luck! We’ve come too late. The whole bloody thing has disappeared. Lord Squashbuckle will be furious. We’ll come back with empty hands.”
“Not really. When you took possession of Cognita for him, he became the owner of a whole continent. That’s something.”
“Yes, but it’s worthless. Who would want to buy it? No, I’m embarrassed. I want to ask you a favour. You can say no but I would greatly appreciate it.”
“What is it?”
“If they ever ask who discovered this place, would you mind saying that it was you?”
“Why not? But there is a slight problem. Who would believe me. I’m just an ordinary cook.”
“I’ve got some good connections in the navy. I’ll talk to them and arrange to make you an officer of some sort. Maybe Lieutenant or even Captain. You’ll get a salary, too.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“By the way,” said Fred and paused for a while, “we’ve never been properly introduced. My name’s Fred Browne. You can call me Fred since we are in this together. What’s yours?”
“I don’t know. I’ve been working in the kitchen since I was a little boy and they always just called me cook.”
“That’ll do. Captain Cook sounds pretty good to me.”
The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful. Further north they unloaded all the rubbish they had collected during their long trip. It went down to the bottom of the sea and a vast number of corals built up around it. It should later become known as ‘The Great Barrier Reef.’
years after they had left
the centre of attention wherever he went. He was sought after by society,
especially when he brought his friend Dr. Solander along. It became all the rage
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