Part four of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
F.H. Longwell III was a gentleman explorer, a renowned naturalist and a scholar who traveled with his manservant Tipton on behalf of The World’s Most Curious Curiosities Museum in the early hours of the 19th century.
June 16, 1830
I slept soundly while Tipton exercised by lifting entire palm trees, one in each hand, like umbrellas. I awoke in the morning feeling well rested and found Tipton asleep on the beach. And while he had a broom in hand he had failed completely at clearing the sand. Dozens of trees were uprooted and scattered about. A swift kick to his posterior brought him fully awake.
By the look on his face I knew that he knew that I knew that he hadn’t followed orders. But with the sun rising I took my position in the boat and Tipton pushed us through the breakers. Watching him kick and push in the waves like a corpulent child filled with me pride. He gripped the boat fiercely as we broke through the largest waves. Still he pushed, taking in mouthfuls of salty brine. He threw his meaty arms over the hull and held on for dear life once we moved beyond the final breakers. I really should teach him to swim sometime.
The locals gathered on the beach to bid us a fond farewell. Though later that day when I finished translating their goodbyes I realized a peculiarity in their language. Apparently they have developed a rare reverse polarity semantic. While their words translated to, ‘Good riddance and don’t come back.’ obviously they must have meant ‘We will miss you and be well.’ I made a note in my journal, sure that the linguists at the museum will be fascinated.
The Adventure Begins!
June 17, 1830
We follow the shoreline south making landfall each night to sleep and collect samples of local flora and fauna for the museum. Tipton became well acquainted with many of the native species. He was especially enamored with the flying, biting insects. They never left him alone! Orbiting him like puppies following a meat wagon. (7)
At first I wished I had brought more than one netted insect proof suit but both of us being completely protected from the interesting native species would be no good for science.
The array of welts and irritations on Tipton’s flesh was fascinating. I filled my journal with detailed illustrations. (8)
At night he would often claim he would rather jump into the flames then spend another night being ‘chewed-up-alive’. Hush now, I told him. A few bugs never hurt anyone. Unless the bugs carried some sort of additional bugs that could/would cause an illness or some such thing. He quieted down as the stars came out. Exhausted I suppose. And probably a tad low on blood. I covered him carefully with a set of woolen blankets he was partial to. Good night sweet prince.
June 20, 1830
The days have grown tedious as we head south looking for the great inlet indicated on the treasure map. The map is picking up a fair amount of dirt and debris and was getting a bit hard to decipher. But I was certain we were looking for an inlet, with several large trees.
Without my asking his opinion, Tipton let it be known that he thought this a worthless folly. I pointed out that the information collected on biting and stinging insects alone had made this adventure scientifically worthwhile.
On these dreary days we encountered seasonal rain but it was the sound of Tipton scratching that most upset me. I threatened to wrap his hands in old socks if he didn’t stop. Needless to say I hoped he’d not call me on this, as I’d hate to waste socks in such a way. Maybe dirty ones.
7- I can find no historical precedent for this comparison. My search through British cultural references of the time contain no mention of ‘meat wagons’ or problems with dogs, puppies or cats following said wagons.
8- The original of these drawings are still displayed in the Longwell wing at The World’s Most Curious Curiosities Museum during the annual Festival of Biting, Stinging Insects. It continues to be the second most popular exhibit at the museum after: “Cold! The Mysteries of Ice Cream”.