Due to popular demand – or just my organizational obsessions, I will post each weekly adventure of F.H. Longwell in chronological order so you can easily read the entire story without clicking about.
Meet F.H. Longwell. A man near-and-dear to me who along with Tipton, his rock-steady manservant, didn’t for a moment let his ignorance stop him. Blessed with an ego of cosmic scale the world was his to explain, enumerate and catalog – all the while getting most everything wrong. The diary excerpts are his, the footnotes mine.
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 2nd, 1830
This adventure begins with an ending. Tipton (1) and I finally ended our 7-month search for the lost island of Atlantis. Lost island indeed. We never found it. (2) After a series of particularly ugly engagements with locals who had little interest in hosting us, or hearing our puppet shows (3) we fled west. It wasn’t long before we saw sandy beaches. This was lucky as our boat, The Floating Toad, wouldn’t have remained seaworthy much longer.
It was sprouting more leaks than Tipton could handle. He was drinking nearly 10 gallons of seawater a day from the boat just to keep us afloat. Once on the beach Tipton let out a welcoming scream. Interested locals, but not a single elephant, soon surrounded us. At least these folks seemed friendly enough. Break out the puppets I yelled to Tipton. The locals are in for a treat tonight!
1- Tipton was F.H. Longwell III’s trusted manservant. Documents demonstrate that Tipton was rescued from a burning orphanage as a toddler by F.H. Longwell II. The senior Longwell decided that the orphan would make a good companion for his 5 year old son F.H. Longwell III. There is no further documentation concerning Tipton’s origins.
2- See Adventure # 8, “Longwell Finds Atlantis” and Adventure 9, “Maybe Not.”
3- Longwell was infamous for his belief that upon first meeting a never met peopleage it was best to open with a puppet show. From his travels along the Cuanza River he shares this account: (See Adventure #2: Lion Here, Lion There, Lions Everywhere! HELP!) “The locals demanded that we perform the puppet show again and again. And again. Until Tipton and I collapsed from exhaustion. When we awoke the population was gone and, in accordance with their greatest honor, we were tied soundly upon a large mound that turned out to be a flesh devouring fire-ant nest. Tipton took the brunt of the attack and I dare say those ants learned a thing or two about slapping that day.”
Part two of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
June 8, 1830
I enjoyed several days on the beach making a best guess that we are on the coast of South America. A wholly unexplored region, ripe with mystery! (4)
June 12, 1830
Today Tipton returned from his scouting covered in a painful, scarlet rash. I could hardly recognize him. He was having a reaction to the poison berries he was eating. Well, don’t eat them I told him. He made childish gurgling sounds. All appetite he is. Even a swift kick to his hindquarters didn’t change his mind. He just ate faster. The locals looked at him like he was hardly human and kept repeating a phrase I translated as, “Berries poison. Make him monster human.” (5)
When I translated that for Tipton he let out a whoop and beat his hands upon his chest until he knocked himself out. Tipton was always trying to entertain!
June 15, 1830
The Floating Toad was fully repaired. The locals have grown to love and appreciate our time with them. Their language took quite an effort to translate. They mostly paid us compliments and expressed deep sorrow about our eventual leaving. I explained that I was looking for a new adventure. I asked if perhaps they knew of one. Maybe one with elephants?
They pretended to not understand my question. But I never found a single elephant drawing or sculpture. I suspect they understood very well but had no desire to share their elephant secrets with me.
(4) It should be noted that by 1830 the region was well explored and mapped. Either Longwell made an error or felt it generally more exciting to think it unexplored and unknown.
(5) Exactly what type of fruit/seed or berry Tipton was ingesting is unknown. It should be noted that Tipton’s appetites often produced odd behavior. It was reported that in 1850 upon first tasting gelato In Anghiari, Italy, Tipton proceeded to pick up the entire Monastero di San Martino on his back and move it 42 yards.
Part three of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
June 16, 1830
Another beautiful morning greeted Tipton and I. As expected he had scones and fresh juice ready when a large group of the local elders gathered around me. It was jolly good to greet them all. They brought a fine assortment of hand fashioned weapons to show me and point at me. Of course I would be happy to take a few of the exquisite weapons back to the World’s Most Curious Curiosities Museum in London but they wouldn’t give me any. However in bits-and-pieces they began to tell me a most fabulous tale. My burning yearning for adventure was being stoked with fresh cut timber!
They told a tale of intrigue and mystery, danger and sacrifice. True, it seemed to contain a great number of warnings and threats if we didn’t leave soon, but they also mentioned – The Legend of the Golden Britches.
The story describes how millennia ago a great king lived deep in the most remote jungle and ordered his people to construct for him 30 pair of golden pants. That’s on average a fresh pair of golden pants for each day of the common month. What was tailored to be worn under the golden pants is unknown, or at least the locals wouldn’t tell me.
But I am sure that if he constructed golden trousers he’d also want golden underpants. So I think it’s clear that if we find the 30 pairs of golden britches we stand a jolly good chance of finding at least two-dozen pair of golden underpants as well. Tipton disagrees vehemently. He thinks we will find only two pairs of golden underpants. I look at him with shock and awe. No wonder he travels with so little baggage.
After the locals left I sent Tipton to see what else he could learn about the legend of the golden britches. He returned claiming they just beat him around his head and neck and one child threw a snake at him. They continued to shout at him and push him away until he left them alone. I pointed out that he hadn’t bathed for a few weeks and that type of behavior isn’t completely unexpected with a fellow of Tipton’s strong musk. And of course he stinks of juicy berries and his rash is back. Just stop eating those berries I command. He spit some out.
It doesn’t take but a few minutes to be greeted by two of the elders again. This time they share with me a map (6) that’s long been handed down in their family and shows the general location of the golden trousers. Simply follow the shore south for some amount of time, find a bay with large trees, then a golden road, a river that will take us west and a mysterious cave. Shortly after that we should be able to see the Palace of the golden pants! Tipton interrupts asking why, if they have a map, haven’t they claimed the treasure for themselves?
I smack Tipton on the back of his fleshy head. Why indeed? I take him aside and remind him that his place is not to interrupt. Upon turning back to the locals I ask them why they never went after the treasure since they have a map.
The tall one coughed then started playing the most delightful flute song I had ever heard. The short one began to sing in a voice most melodious. When they finished they asked for payment for the song and the map. I gratefully provided two shillings and six pence.
But why didn’t they retrieve the treasure if they had this map all along? Blurted out Tipton. Indignation is a word I seldom use and hardly understand. But that’s what I felt. I smacked Tipton on his head again and made note of his impertinence.
Now we had a map, we had a treasure, we had an adventure! We would leave the next morning at sunrise. I prepared for bed following my usual pre-adventure rituals. 20 minutes of calisthenics, two full glasses of fresh-pressed prune juice, a pot of fresh breakfast tea and two thick slices of onion.
Before rejoining myself to slumber I ask Tipton to stock our boat and sweep the beach. Tipton protested. I made note of it and deducted 26 pence from his ‘fun’ money. No need for him to buy more clamshell vignettes with googly eyes. However, the next thing Tipton did made me reconsider the power in the berries he liked. A huge pile of our adventuring supplies sat upon the shore. 18 feet high and perhaps 2 tonnes. Tipton, still munching on berries, picked it up in a single load, let out a squeal that would make a weasel blush and proceeded to carry it to the boat. The locals scatter. I almost scatter. I take several of the berries as samples to have examined when we get back to the museum.
6 – It must be noted that on numerous occasions Longwell purchased maps of questionable authenticity. In Adventure #5, The Lost Diamond Mines of Denmark, he paid 17 solid gold coins for a map that was said to lead to the Kingdom Of Lost Diamonds. It turned out to be directions to the shipyard. The famous contemporary explorer I.M. Smellsworth often referred to Longwell as: “ A man who would buy a map to find the moon.” In fact, in Adventure #3 The Mysterious Caverns, Longwell paid eight pounds four shillings for a map to a secret passage that lead to the moon. Oddly enough, it once again turned out to be directions to a shipyard.
Part four of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
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”.
Part five of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Longwell and his trusty man servant Tipton are making their way along the South American coast in search of the treasure of The Golden Pants.
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 25, 1830
Most young students of adventuring (9) imagine it all discovery and hidden mummies and elephants. Well those moments come far too infrequently. The truth is that adventuring is filled with long spells when one is left to contemplate their standing in the universe. This malaise or “Adventuring is not all discovery and hidden mummies and elephants. But I wish it was.” boredom can mostly be overcome by playing tic-tac-toe (10) and by making sure that your manservant keeps at his tasks. This sharpens your faculties and exercises your arms. For whenever Tipton would drift into slumber I had to be ready with a pointed word or a pointed stick. Stay sharp. Adventure is afoot I always say.
June 27, 1830
On and on and on it goes. Waves a crashing, birds yelping, Tipton grumbling his lovable grumbles. When I ask Tipton to simply enjoy the beauty of the ocean he remarks that, “If you’ve seen one wave, you’ve seen them all.” I asked him where he learned such a calloused point of view. He growled at me. I begin to sing operetta to pass the time. It actually slows time down so I soon stop.
June 29, 1830
At last I spied an inlet matching the one on the map. And it had several large trees around the inner bay. Tipton points out that there are large trees everywhere. And he raises his voice mightily when he says, ‘everywhere’. I remind him of his proper place by administering three throcks upon his left ear. I commanded Tipton to make landfall. He rolled his eyes. I don’t even know what that means. Tipton pulled the boat up a muddy embankment and secured it. As I stepped into the jungle the sounds of wild animals filled the air. “Waa-Waa! Grep-Grep! Thurwppp!” I suspected that last one was actually Tipton.
I instructed Tipton to gather our belongings and camouflage the boat. For the next leg of this journey we would be traveling on foot! At least Tipton would. I had a Handy Harness (11) which when worn by Tipton and attached tightly around his midsection connected to a four wheeled cart allowing me to continue my journalizing as we traveled. I was certain that Tipton would be as surprised and excited as a newborn kitten locked in a yarn factory when he saw it! But still he rolled his eyes. I need to look into that eye rolling thing.
9- In his final years Longwell taught a correspondence course in adventuring for the Standish School entitled: “Adventuring is not all discovery and hidden mummies and elephants. But I wish it was.”
10- In 1875 Longwell published, at his own expense, a six hundred page book entitled: The Longwell Methods. A Comprehensive Enumeration of Victorious Strategies When Playing Tic-Tac-Toe. He demanded that his extended family buy a copy whenever they visited. In later years anyone who spoke to him or at him was also asked to buy a copy. There are currently no known copies of this book, though I continue to rummage about looking for one.
11- Longwell would later copyright and patent the Handy Harness as part of his Adventuring! line of gadgets and materials aimed at young and impressionable adventurers. After several hundred reported injuries he quietly shelved this invention.
Part six of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
The Yellow Slick Road
June 30, 1830
I noted our exact position so we could find our way back to this landing point once we have the golden trousers. The map clearly indicted we will shortly find an ancient road, paved in, if not gold, perhaps copper or maybe some other yellowish stone.
I’d like it to be a precious metal, but really, hoping for a road of gold is too much to ask for. But I am holding out a tiny bit of hope. As Gran-ma-ma used to say, “Perhaps someday you’ll find a bucket of candy, and inside of each candy will be a golden nugget! But don’t count on it kid.”
We started into the jungle as Tipton’s machete cut a path through the forests unruly beard. I kept watch for any sign of the ancient, yellow road. It’s hard to believe that a mighty civilization once called this jungle home. Now it’s all trees and vines and more biting insects and monkey butts.
Monkey butts? Yes, plenty of monkey butts. The cheeky little devils (12) stayed high in the trees chattering and tossing banana peels and other more unpleasant items at us. Every time I would look up I was met by dozens of mooning monkeys. Their screams echoed in the jungle like spirits calling out when an uninvited guest shows up and demands sweet pudding and tea. I could also hear the monkeys laughing at me. Worse than drunken children the monkeys are.
At lunch Tipton looked at the map and said he believed – the search for the road was nonsense – and once again floated the idea that the locals we had bought the map from had made it all up! His foolishness brought tears to my eyes. Then I realized it wasn’t foolishness that made my eyes water, it was the large, fragrant, yellow flowers all around us. They smelled most unpleasant and Tipton immediately gave them an uncouth nickname.
It was then I realized that these flowers marked the kings road! As their petals dropped to the ground they formed a golden path through the jungle! They seem to be related to amorphophallus titanium (13) but I’ve never seen or smelled plants like them before.
This is a special case in exploring where the amazing thing I found is better off just saying here in the stinky forest. I see no reason to trouble the air of Great Britain with such a reek. I mean really, they could stink up a Manure Festival (14).
It was a slippery path to follow, as Tipton found out on repeated occasions no matter how many times I warned him to be careful. But we moved onward, ever onward towards the ancient lost city and the thirty pairs of golden trousers and possibly several pairs of golden undergarments. I began to contemplate what kind of shoes this king would have worn. I would guess they would be on some extremely rare and valuable material. Diamonds Rubies? Filet mignons? The hunt was on!
12- Longwell’s mistrust and dislike of monkeys will be discussed in greater detail later. Many pages of his notebooks contained lists where he would assign demerits to various animals for unknown reasons and monkeys always had the most demerits.
13- Also known as the corpse flower, the scent imitates rotting meat to attract carrion eating beetles and flesh flies. The particular variety Longwell describes has never been scientifically recorded again.
14- I can find no recorded event in Longwell’s time referred to as a Manure Festival. In fact, I can find no recorded event in history described as such.
Part seven of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
The Jungle of Stinkiness
July 3, 1830
Tipton’s course diatribes aside, he was right that this jungle and those flowers, whose name I shall not speak, created a particularly difficult and foul smelling location. Even the small animals that scampered about smelled most unpleasant. Boggy lowlands, soggy highlands, tree bark that makes your skin fester if you touch it. At least it did this to Tipton. And always the chattering, howling monkeys. And their butts.
July 6, 1830
The stink thickened as we followed the path of flower petals. At night mysterious eyes shone out from the blackness. Only bellows and unpleasant screams interrupted the buzzing hum of the jungle. Ceaseless noise that made me wish to get another, better pair of earplugs. I suspected Tipton was responsible for most of the bellows and screams but from inside my tent, I couldn’t see a thing. When it got too loud I’d unzip the tent just enough to get my arm out and smack him atop his head with the Tahitian Spanking rod I had picked up on a previous adventure. He did protest, but once he found it brought only another round of blows he’d get quiet enough.
July 7, 1830
Tipton carries on, ‘This is a rancid old hole’ and ‘This place stinks like a pair of grannies old boots.’ I reminded him that while grandmama’s boots did carry a powerful stench, it was hardly her fault and nothing we should be celebrating. (15)
July 8, 1830
Tipton keeps referring to our travels as “Drudgery-filled-days-of-gloom.” (16). His attitude needs improving. I immediately decide to enroll him in several weeks of Developing Exceptional Attitudes When Facing Difficulties at the Standish Extension School when we return to London. (17) What Tipton hadn’t noticed because of his sour attitude was that the terrain was beginning to change. The air became lighter. The stink slightly less so.
July 9, 1830
Today Tipton seemed a new man. At night he no longer cried out and screamed and carried on. At least not so much. And I felt renewed. As if this ancient place was invigorating our souls. Our minds. Our bodies. Tipton’s feet.
The dryer environment meant a change in flora and fauna. The golden flowers we had followed were thinning out. I was certain the map next indicated a large river. Tipton was sure it was just a smear of dead bug. I admit, the map was getting smudgy but it looked like we would soon find a massive river that flowed West. We would follow this until we came to a great cave.
July 10, 1830
Supplies are running low. We need fresh water. I ordered Tipton to drink as little as he might. I needed every drop of fresh water for my morning shave.
July 11, 1830
We were up early and Tipton did little but heat up leftover chips and a breakfast stew he called ‘Beetle mash’. I asked if it was made of beetles. He said no. It wasn’t bad, except for the large bits of what appeared to be beetle. But still, for morning I’d prefer a choice of scones.
As we hiked onward Tipton kept complaining that his eyes were getting foggy. That the jungle was hazy. Don’t be ridiculous old man, I told him. It’s not your eyes I see it to! But it was not smoke or haze or any such thing. It was gauzy, misty tendrils of what seemed to be giant spider webs. Everywhere!
15- Shortly after Longwell’s Gran’mama’s passing, it was discovered that an entire pack of ground squirrels were living in her boots and were responsible for most of the smell. She did have extraordinarily large feet. But there was still widespread shock at the discovery. Except from Longwell’s gran’papa who never liked her anyway.
16- I am currently piecing together a badly damaged piece of paper that contains a short poem by Tipton. The second verse begins with: “Drudgery filled days of gloom. I’d like a meat pie but I have no room.”
17- In their later years Longwell and Tipton taught a course at the Standish Extension School titled: Utilizing Practical Algebra in Adventuring. Reviews of the class by students complained they learned little of algebra and received mostly “…harsh reprimands against leading lives of limited adventuring and warnings about monkeys.” They were forced to experience, “…extended, mean spirited puppet shows” Several students complained they had their earlobes severely pulled.
Part eight of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
8 Legged Toothy Dogs
July 11, 1830
Spiders! But not your common tegeneria domestica variety. These fellows were big around as Tipton’s head and as furry as Tipton’s back.
Before long we were surrounded and Tipton absorbed bite after bite from these 8-legged-devils. Tipton suddenly expelled a horrendous “YELP!” and whether it be from exhaustion, dehydration, fear, gas or copious amounts of venom – he passed out.
Harsh words don’t wake him and before I can thrash him about the torso and head the fuzzy beasts set upon me. It’s all mandibles crunching and eight legs a clicking and webs a spraying. Like a Holiday celebration. Sort of.
I gave a severe whacking to the first few toothy dogs but they kept coming. I feared for a moment that this would be my end. Webs covered my eyes and I fainted to the ground as venom pumped into my body. I dreamt of elephants.
When I awoke Tipton was ripping the webs from my face. ‘Good show old man,’ I mumbled. But the effects of the venom made it sound more like ‘GuppSowFoDaNan’. Or something like that.
When my eyes were fully clear and I saw what shape Tipton was in – I collapsed again into gloomy slumber.
When I came to I was propped against a tree with a welcoming fire and water boiling. A bit late for teatime, but it’s better than nothing. Tipton was all chattering teeth and sweaty faced. Just like every evening before his constitutional. I decided it was best not to ask what had transpired, but judging by the number of giant spider legs strewn about and the welts covering Tipton’s body, it seems that perhaps the spider’s venom had an unexpected biological affect on Tipton. His deep fear of spiders had turned into a raving hatred causing him to lose all restraint. Tipton 1, Spiders 0.
He refused any tea that night. Even though I offered him a cup of the high-grade Breakfast tea. But he said nothing. To commemorate the day I began to sing a short limerick – ‘Spiders here, spiders there. Guarding the pants of gold…’ but Tipton slouched off before I could finish and not even my vigorous attempts of rough-housing could awaken him. I made a note that he missed a wonderful sing-along.
Part 9 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Over the river and through the woods.
July 12, 1830
As soon as the sun shone we packed quickly and got out of there. No need to await more visits from our 8-legged friends. Tipton issued forth a long tale of the dream he had that evening. Most likely made more visceral because of the large amounts of toxic venom in his system. It was more or less a typical Tipton dream. He related how he had been eating handfuls of marshmallow candies. I made sure I had all my fingers and toes and then counted Tiptons. I shiver a bit considering what bits of jungle he may have actually been ingesting.
It would have been a half-days walk to come face to face with a mud swirling, splish-splashing, pee inducing river. However, we accomplished the trek in under 25 minutes as Tipton slipped and we slid down approximately 1,400 feet and landed at the river bank.
Westward! I exclaimed. Tipton’s eyes blinked and quivered. He knew the routine. He quickly constructed a raft from fallen timber and after I made a few notes in this journal he pushed us off.
The river is a swift and relaxing portion of our adventure. I can almost see the golden pants and the platinum or silver or bronze underwear.
Tipton took time to soak his feet in the soothing if somewhat murky waters. We watched with amusement as tiny fish swam up to nibble on his toes. He laughed like a child and then screamed like one as a mass of fish so quickly assembled I could hardly believe my eyes, stripped several of his toes to the bone!
He shrieked as he pulled his feet from the water, with several of the fish, well toothed, still clinging. But amazement filled me! Think of it, fish that would actually stand to have Tipton’s feet in their mouths. (10) What kind of creature are they? Tipton wrapped his feet to stem the bleeding.
But really, I was shocked, quite blown-over, that any creature could do such a thing and live. The look in Tipton’s eyes let me know that he was not interested in running the experiment again, but I made note of it.
These toothy fish that have no taste buds are truly a miracle of nature.
The day passed into a humid, relatively bug free night. I fell in and out of slumber. Awake just long enough to whack Tipton and make sure he was still standing watch. It was devil difficult work to make sure he stayed on duty all night. There was but a sliver of moon and the jungle noise grew intense. Surrounded we were by ringing whistles and chortling calls. It grew louder as the hours passed. Turning into a constant screaming buzz of noise.
But alas, my earplugs went missing. Instead of simply complaining, or blaming Tipton, I stood resolved to enjoy the full onslaught of the wilds. (Note: I am confident I now know what Tipton digested in his previous nights dream. How 70 pairs of ear plugs will effect his digestion may be something worth studying.)
July 13, 1830
In the pitch-blackness I could pick out what sounded like the angry calls of a Capuchin monkey and the roar of a toothed beast. But mostly it was a swarm of noise not unlike the sound of insects from our first nights ashore near the inlet only magnified 10,000 times.
Tipton had a curious look on his face as he studied the water and watched us speedily bobbing westward. He began to talk to me, but I couldn’t hear him. He was yelling now, splashing in the water, trying to paddle. Creating a typical Tipton ruckus. No need to worry good fellow, I told him. It’s just the magnificence of nature you hear! Perhaps a tropical storm rumbling in the distance.
Tipton kept yelling and it took my utmost concentration to enjoy the roaring sound of nature over his caterwauling. Soon his voice couldn’t be heard over the sweet thunder of nature. The sun had just peeked from behind the craggy mountains when we went over the waterfalls.
10- For many years thereafter, these fish were referred to as Tipton Toe Fish by explorers and adventurers alike. It wasn’t until many decades later that piranha became common nomenclature.
Part 10 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
The Caves of Queasiness
There’s only one way to explain a trip over a waterfalls. Fast. Perhaps two words. Fast and wet. I climbed atop the pack as it bobbed in the foaming turbulence and grabbed hold of Tipton’s leg and paddled us to shore.
He scrambled out quickly to avoid any more contact with the toothy fish. Once we were both ashore we shared a good laugh. At least I thought we were laughing. It took a moment for me to realize that Tipton was just coughing and sputtering maybe even crying. A bit. I really need to teach him to swim.
I reminded him that the road to treasure is always fraught with dangers. He explained that he had spent many minutes yelling at me and trying to turn the raft around and that I didn’t listen to him. I’m not so sure about that, I said. I wasn’t listening.
July 14, 1830
We dried our goods under the unrelenting sun and I examined the map. Tipton was correct when he jeeringly said that the map was nearly impossible to read. ‘Nearly’ was the key word and it didn’t take me long to gather my bearings. Looking downstream I could see the dark cavern the map indicated.
How’s that old man! I said. Cave on the map, cave on the shore. It’s not a cave on the map it’s a bit of debris he said. He wiped it off. Still, there was a dark spot. Sort of. Prepare for some spelunking Tipton, get the helmets out!
The cave was tucked under fallen tree limbs and forest vines big around as Tipton’s thigh. I secured the rope around my waist that lead to a harness that fit Tipton.
Tipton lead the way. The cave is dark, the cave is mysterious, the cave smells horrible. Like we had never experienced any of that before.
With the candles in our helmets lit, we ventured in. But even walking slowly was dangerous. Tipton kept hitting his head against the rock overhang. That must hurt. But most likely not as much as what those toothy fish did to him. Tipton is a mysterious being. At times he seems to feel no pain. But at other times his screams can wake the dead. (18)
The cave featured 3 corridors. I marked each one with white chalk on the wall as we ventured down. The first two ended as the roof of the cave met the floor. Dead ends. I saw a series of mysterious, large footprints in the cave. And not just Tiptons. I wondered what we would do if this cave lead not just to the secret valley of the ancient kings, but also into the den of some sort of lion-cougar-tusked-beast. I decided that as long as Tipton goes first, I shouldn’t worry.
The hours passed slowly in the gloom. The final corridor started to grow large. Our candles couldn’t brighten the space it was so large. The drips of water echoed. At one point the ceiling seemed alive so I held my candle aloft and saw it was literally crawling with bats. They appeared to be diphlla ecaudata. Vampire bats. However; none that I saw were wearing capes.
Tipton asked what I had seen. Nothing, I replied quickly. Of all the animals in the world he fears bats the most. A close second would be eothenomys custos, which I don’t understand at all. (19) Anyway, best I keep the blood sucking bats a secret. Suddenly two large eyes shine from the dark, reflecting the light from our candles. Something big is moving towards us. I run into Tipton knocking him over. His helmet clanks off loudly. His candlelight shines to the ceiling. Tipton’s screams send the bats rushing down. The wind from their flight extinguishes my candle.
My eyes adjust to the darkness slowly. I hear the lovely purr of Tipton’s breathing as I struggle to light my candle again. I’m starting to think that the purr I hear is not Tipton, because I’m pretty sure the muffled screams are his. I light the candle and am faced with the most amazing site. I don’t know what you would call the black beast. Something left over from pre-history perhaps? A cougar, a leopard, a lion, panther or a night tiger? But it’s large. Large enough to have quite a bit of Tipton stuffed in its mouth!
I was frozen in place with fear and curiosity. The curiosity dissolved quickly. But the fear stayed. I wasn’t sure I could go on. I was pretty sure Tipton couldn’t go on as most of his head was in the mouth of the cougar-lion-tiger-beast!
18- No matter Longwell’s insistence there has never been any proof that Tipton didn’t feel pain. Tipton’s super-human abilities are cause of much debate but seem mostly due to dire circumstances or the ingestion of sweets, rich sauces, fatty meats or some combination of these items.
19- Actually Tipton has a long list of animals that scared him including eothenomys custos, the Southwest China Vole. His list also included: kittens, kangaroos, werewolves and koala bears.
Part 11 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
It’s times like these when I ask, why? The years, the decades of adventuring seem wasted time now. All those efforts exerted, all the adventuring endured only to end here in a cave that smells like my aunt Lillian’s house (20). Actually this smelled more rotten, more like…then I realized it was just Tipton I smelled.
The beast issued a low, guttural gurgle. But its eyes fluttered. It seemed to be losing consciousness. I’m not sure if it was the pronounced aromas being emitted by Tipton or perhaps the beast was feeling rightly lost in its own life of limited accomplishments. Perhaps the sorrow of being a lone survivor from prehistory had become too much for the beast. (21)
No matter the reason I quickly shook aside my doubts, slammed the beast in the head with my binoculars (Please note that the first hit I placed actually landed upon Tipton’s rear side, but the second hit the beast!) and Tipton flopped from the beast’s mouth, non-the worse for the wear!
I tried to wake him with a brisk slap to the face. He moaned. I waited to see if it was a ‘I’m waking up now.’ moan or a ‘I’m going to pass further into unconsciousness’ moan. (22) Then I decided not to wait and I slapped him several more times. That brought a rousing reaction by Tipton!
Where’s am I? Who’s is you? What’s am I doing? He muttered. He was back and with just as clear-a-mind as before he was eaten.
With a few words of encouragement and threat, he was up and running through the passageway. At first he seemed to fight giving me a piggyback ride. Honestly, I almost felt like excusing his insubordination because of his recent travails. Almost … I made a note of it.
Down one passage, up another. Around a corner. The beast’s cries began once again to echo in the cavern. Suddenly ahead we saw the light.
No doubt this path leads back to the river! Like a mighty stead Tipton plowed ahead. Neither the sweat in his eyes or the blood or the cobwebs thick as cake batter could stop him. Before long we were free! Or at least out of the cavey part of the problem.
20 – Longwell often talks about his Aunt Lillian in various of his adventuring journals. She seems to have been one of the few relatives that took the time to acknowledge his presence. Most famously his aunt Lillian saved young Longwell’s life when he broke up what he believed to be a half-dozen large Piñatas that his father had meant for the little Longwell’s birthday celebration. They were intact not Piñatas but instead enormous hanging beehives. “The hives may have been filled with honey and honey is sweet like candy,” Longwell later wrote,“But literally millions of stinging bees made it quite impossible to enjoy the honey.”
21- It is most likely a large jaguar. Longwell may have not been familiar with the big cat native to the America’s or he was hoping it was something far more fantastic and adventure worthy.
22- Longwell had long been an admirer of Captain Jonathan Bartholomew Bottom’s thesis put forward in his seminal treatise, ‘What’s that moan mean? I know what that moan means.’ which purposed that humans produce four distinct moans. The two mentioned here along with a moan of delight and a moan when confronted with a difficult algebra equation.
Part 12 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
The Ledge Of Doom
Upon galloping out of the entrance we found ourselves precariously balanced on a ledge overlooking a several hundred-foot drop to what looked like a small pool of water. Or mud. This was not where he had entered.
Behind us, the creature cried out, Kaa-Ka-Kaa-Ka. Or was that some sort of bird? Yes, I think that was the bird. The creature was more like ‘ROARRRRRRRRRRRRRR!’ And Tipton was making a phlegmy coughing sound. Nothing unusual there.
The beast was running fast for us. Tipton looked down at the murky pond. Really more a mud hole than a body of water. I was fairly certain that from my position upon Tipton’s back I could swat the creature away from me. So it was clear we should stand and face our fear one final time. I spoke to Tipton now in my most solemn tone. Here is where we make our final…
Tipton jumped just as the creature’s fierce head, eyes contorted with hate, sliced from the darkness of the passageway.
It was a long way down. Probably a bit longer for me as I stayed perched atop Tipton until the final twist and tumult into what really was a mud hole. I would say if you ever found yourself falling from a small ledge down hundreds of feet, the falling part is exactly what you’d expect.
And the hitting the bottom part felt just like falling 220 feet or so into a mud hole. Though the turgid, muddy, slop provided an almost comfortable landing for Tipton and I. Unfortunately for Tipton, he went in headfirst.
The Putrid Pond of Reflection buried Tipton to his toes and he couldn’t seem to wriggle free from the bubbling mud. Yes, it was bubbling and it was warm. We had fallen into a volcanically active valley.
I shouted several times that he should push harder. I began to worry that perhaps this time Tipton was done. I took a minute to sit down and think about all the times he had faced peril.
The time he wrestled a massive crocodile from the Nile. I didn’t think I’d ever see him again. At least whole. But Tipton had the last delicious laugh as that croc was turned into fine filets that I enjoyed that evening as Tipton recovered in a nearby healer’s hut. Then there was the afternoon he ate 76-dozen chocolate, chocolate chip tortes. The people of Vienna gathered around chanting and singing his praises. I couldn’t watch near the end – covering my eyes. I wished I had also plugged my ears. But he lived. All of the Vienna medical community were amazed.
I remembered the time he wrestled 5 mountain gorillas in the jungles of Uganda. He wouldn’t laugh about that for the entire year of his recovery.
But this time he faced a force more powerful than reptiles or sweets or fatty goodness. It was a primal force of nature. Mud. And mud was winning.
The entire valley floor had a sick smell to it. (23) It was devilish in the extreme and steam escaped from small fissures in the rocks creating a sauna like environment. Which wasn’t bad after everything we had been through.
But could I really just idly bit by, resting and eating a few fresh mangos that I found growing near? The mangos were enormous and sweet!
I hypothesized that the warmth of the valley produced vigorous growth. Finally I realized that no matter my comfort, this time Tipton needed a helping hand, and there was really no one else to offer one. I waded into the mess and pulled with all my might. But it did no good.
Next I took several feet of rope, tossed it over a branch, tied his legs, and after a fair bit of effort, Tipton popped out like a muddy, hardly breathing cork.
Tipton was making some kind of noise and most of his body was as red as a lobster. I grew concerned that he was soon to pass this mortal realm.
Suddenly I noticed something moving in the brush near by. For a brief moment I hoped it was one of those monkeys from the forest. Give me one of them on the ground and I’ll show them how funny their butts are. (24) Suddenly a large constrictor raised its fleshy head!
Big around as a barrel the snake zeroed in on Tipton for its next meal. I couldn’t blame the beast. Tipton was unconscious, covered in a delicate mix of hot mud and jungle debris. He certainly wasn’t going anywhere. It really was an easy lunch. The constrictor, who I made out to be a eunectes murinus (25) began disjointing its jaws as preparation to swallow Tipton! It really wasn’t Tipton’s day.
As I tried to beat the beast off, it raised its bulking frame and towered a full eight feet above me. It was a very, very big snake and I decided perhaps it was best if I step back a bit.
Within a second it had Tipton’s head and shoulders in it’s gapping maw. The body of the massive snake pulsed with the effort of its musculature swallowing Tipton’s hulking frame.
Tipton. Dear Tipton. Is being swallowed head first by a massive constrictor how you would want to go? Maybe. Judging by his appetites in life, there was something fitting about this horrible end.
23- Most likely he is describing the smell of sulfur which is common in areas of volcanic activity.
24- Longwell’s dislike of nearly all type of monkey is well documented. In his famous 1855 commencement address to the graduating class of The Standish School of Excellence he went on a 20 minute impromptu diatribe regarding monkeys when a student made a loud monkey call. He refused to continue until the place was searched to make certain that no monkeys were present. Some of those attending later said it was Tipton who made the monkey yell.
25- Members of this non-venomous boa species are commonly called Anaconda. Though a specimen of the scale Longwell describes has never been found, it is theoretically possible that one exists.
Longwell struggles to come to terms with the possible death of his beloved Tipton who is swallowed whole by a huge snake.
Part 14 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Longwell rejoices at Tipton’s survival but continues his hunt for the Palace of the Golden Britches.
The Hut of Doom
Tipton couldn’t believe his eyes. He rubbed them again and again. The amount of mud and snake juice that came out was unnerving. But there was no denying we had come to the heart of what we were seeking.
In front of us was the lost temple of one of the greatest kings ever to live. Tipton disagreed calling it an old hut. It was a temple-hut I explained and it was clearly marked on the map. Tipton scoffed a large and vehement scoff. He certainly was in a bad mood since I rescued him from the death grip of that snake. (28) I reminded him of my recent heroics and used a near by stick to help him get his focus back.
Once the door was open we set up a perimeter. I had Tipton run about inside for a good long while. This is an important part of starting every archeological dig (29) in a lost temple or palace or tomb. He came out as round as a wagon wheel, covered in cobwebs. Now I could safely get to work.
To my surprise the temple was much smaller on the inside than it appeared. The dust of eons had built up upon the floor leaving an alien and very sneezy place. I began to map out the temple. That didn’t take long either. Really, just a smallish, empty room. Within a few minutes Tipton announced that this was a waste of time. That’s when I came across the hidden door! It’s not a hidden door. Tipton snorted. It just looks like a closet. A closet indeed I shouted!
The closet of the kings
And there it was; The goal of our adventuring, the king’s closet door. Obviously the King would keep his golden trousers not in a trunk or a dresser. (Oddly enough, we never found a dresser. I am not sure where he kept his sliver socks or under garments.) But in a royal closet.
I sent Tipton to open the closet door. Of course he refused at first. It’s like a little game we play. He mumbled about booby-traps or poison arrows or a pit of doom. Just open the door, I commanded. If there’s other fun stuff, we‘ll find it later.
I made note that really the odds of his day getting worse were slim. Being attacked by a large cat-beast, falling head first into a stinking mud hole, swallowed by a snake. Think about it old man! He approached slowly. Too slowy. I gave his buttocks a healthy kick. He squeezed the ancient handle and pulled. The door popped open with a fleshy, fizzing sound. The stale, ancient air trapped in the closet was being released!
It was perfectly quiet now. Anticipation hung in the air like a horrible stench. Then I realized there was a horrible stench hanging in the air. But that was just Tipton. With his fear now fully passed, Tipton pulled the door open in one quick motion and gasped.
I couldn’t see anything around his bulbous frame. Move it I hollered pushing him aside. If I were to simply explain what my eyes beheld, it would seem disappointing. But I assure you that I could feel something magical shaking me. Something fantastic!
Even though what I saw was – very little. Tipton lumbered aside and scoffed. I thought perhaps he had inhaled a bug. But no, it was just his regular old scoff he often uses when scoffing at me. That brought swift retribution by way of a yank of his ear.
Empty the closet was. But too empty. A suspicious empty. The kind of empty that a trained explorer such as myself knows can mean only one thing. We’d likely been beaten to it! Perhaps ancient grave robbers and closet-goer-throughers. But I also must entertain the possibility that it was Smellsworth.(30)
I begin to examine the empty closet in detail. Some broken furniture, a few dried beans. The husk of some sort of…something. But that magical feeling returned, shaking my body with anticipation.
It’s possible that the gold pants had been sent out for dry-cleaning or polishing. Something like that. It’s also possible that – and as I was about to finish my thought the floor gave way in one massive CRACK!
That magical feeling I mentioned was actually the creaking, wiggling, unsteadiness of the floor. Tipton hollered as if he just won a Christmas goose. Then he kept at it. Really. Just kept it up as we slid into the dark. By the time we landed with a CRUNCH I was happy that, at least for the moment, his yodeling was done. I blacked out in the blackness with his silence as relief.
28- On the occasion of Tipton’s 82nd birthday Longwell presented Tipton with a statue of a shirtless, heroic stanced Longwell beating a snake which had partially swallowed Tipton. The statue, standing some 50 feet tall and weighing nearly 45 tonnes stood on the Longwell estate until the early-1940’s when it was disassembled for materials for World War II. Tipton often said he’d have preferred a tea cozy as a birthday gift.
29- This habit of having Tipton clear rooms of cobwebs by running about in circles was first discussed in Adventure #4.
30- I.M. Smellsworth was a noted explorer and adversary of Longwells. Both came from well-heeled families with faint overtones of nobility. Both sat on the board of the Society of Mysteries. Both men were charter members of the Benevolent Order of Adventuring and both worked as Explorers in the Field for The World’s Most Curious Curiosities’ Museum in London. There dislike of one another stems in part from their respective families long history of conflicting over important issues of politics and society. As young boys they attended The Standish School for Excellence where their tumultuous battles lead to the Friday evening tradition of Grab a Stick And Hit Him games. I.M. Smellsworth and his manservant, Belton traveled exotic and mysterious locations during this same period as Longwell and Tipton.
Part 15 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Longwell and Tipton fall into a deep cavern and see no way out.
Across the crevasse
July 15(?), 1830
I awoke Tipton and took stock of our situation. We had fallen through a volcanic sinkhole and were 180 feet below the closet floor that was nearly our doom. The cavern was a stink with the foul smell we had sniffed when we first entered the hut. Steam clouded the atmosphere as the ground continued to shake. High above we could see daylight from the hole in the floor. The only other light was the eerie glow coming from a crevasse. It was 5 feet across and deep below lava was bubbling. It became clear that we were trapped on a small bit of floor completely cut off from the rest of the cavern by the crevasse. On the other side we could see the ghostly outlines of a passageway, and what appeared to be much more cave. Perhaps a way out. I pondered our next move. I wondered if we could leap across. But at 5 or 6 feet, the crevasse was almost as long as Tipton, and jumping wouldn’t be prudent. Almost as long as Tipton I repeated out loud glancing his way. Almost…
With the pack off Tipton’s back I tied a rope around his middle. He faced away from me while he stood soundly on the near edge on the crevasse, I lowered him like a medieval drawbridge until he could just grab the other side with his fingers.
Hold tight! I yelled.
Hot, he gasped.
Now for the dastardly tough part. I had to pick up the pack and carry it across using Tipton’s back as a bridge! Slowly, carefully I took my first step. My boots sunk into Tipton’s flanks providing a sturdy, earthy center of balance. I placed my other foot out front, upon the small of his back. Now was the real test. He would have to hold the whole of my weight and the weight of the supplies. Perhaps I should have taken my basketball sized agate collection out of the pack first. I hesitated a moment thinking also about the set of leaden pots and the 35 pound bag of cement I insist we carry incase we needed to build something.
It’s getting hot Shouted Tipton.
Like a summer’s day I reassured him.
No, not like a summer’s day at all. Like a bin of coal burning my face, he replied.
Like a summer’s day I reaffirmed.
Please hurry, he puffed.
I took my next step into Tipton’s fleshy shoulders, the cavern shook a bit as if the gods of the underworld themselves saw what we were doing and wanted to punish us.
Hurry, said Tipton.
Hurrying, I answered.
With two more steps I was safely across. I took a deep breath. Nothing easy in the adventuring business I said turning to Tipton. But just then the ridge gave way under Tipton’s feet. It crumbled and he fell!
He screamed, flailing at the side of the trench with his sausage like fingers. I spun around, grabbed the rope that was securely tied about his waste and flicking it with all my weight -at just the right moment – Tipton flipped a circle and came safely crashing down beside me! We had made it across safely, though I was pretty winded.
Part 16 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Having fallen into a mysterious ancient cavern, Longwell and Tipton struggle
to stay alive long enough to find a way out. And – are there any golden pants?
After a few minutes Tipton was breathing again. Red as a tomato he was. And he stayed that way for a long while. But soon enough the excitement of the adventure kicked in and we began to look around. Or at least I did. Tipton’s eyes took about a half hour to open, they were more or less fried shut. After lighting the candles and his thumb a few times, Tipton walked about with me.
It was a cavern of massive proportions. (31) The floor was built flat with massive carved stones and all around were ceremonial pots and statues of the amazing, humongous figures. Humans with the heads of beasts. Beasts with the heads of humans. Frogs with, well, mainly just frog heads and frog bodies.
On the walls were brilliant but unnerving murals. Colorful and vivid. I guess the locals at the time were a generally angry lot judging by the number of illustrated monsters eating them or pulling their heads or legs or arms off. Massive number of casualties no matter the details.
In the center, painted in colors so vivid that the figure seemed alive when my candle light flickered across, was a King with a massive ceremonial headdress and – golden pants!
Proof of the Legend of the Golden Britches at last! What a spectacle he would have made, going out to the pub or stopping by the bakery for a loaf of bread with his golden trousers.
I can hear the voices of the ancient villagers, “Hey it’s the chap with the golden pants! I sure wish I had golden pants…”
And he would respond, “Well, I’m the King. You go make your own golden pants if you like them so much.” Yes. It would have been much like that I suspect.
Scattered all around lay broken bits from ceremonial pots and statues. I realized then that any hope of finding the golden trousers (and perhaps silver or copper undergarments) was gone. This sacred place had long ago been rifled through.
Again I suspected Smellsworth but found no proof. It is possible that the disruption of this location took place many decades ago. We set up candles and I filled my sketchbooks with imagery too fantastic to imagine. Tipton snored mostly but a few times, while deep in a dream I suppose, he yelled out that he was a roast duck on a skewer. What imagination!
And as I searched the dusty floor it became obvious that someone had scrubbed the place of any sign of elephants.
July 16, 1830
I had just a bite for breakfast this morning. Which was understandable as Tipton put so little effort into it. No scones, no juice and some old chips. Is it too much to ask that we have some fresh juice I enquire? He asks where exactly he was supposed to get juice. Aren’t we stuck in a cave 180 feet below ground? Some kind of ancient burial chamber? On and on he went…
Excuses just roil my thunder! Look, I said, I’m just saying that fresh juice at breakfast is an expectation. I admit it’s going to be difficult to find fresh pineapples, orange trees or even apples or mangos but difficult is not impossible! And then I remind Tipton of the Longwell Family saying – “Through difficulties and discouragement, ridicule and funny faces, we prevail, as gentlemen and as explorers, no excuses.” (32) Well, that took the turnips out of ol’ Tipton!
He had heard my father (33) say that as often as I had. It brought a serious countenance to him. He grabbed a candle and limped off into the dark.
31- This ceremonial cavern was never been located on future expeditions to this area. It is possible that the geological fragility of the place caused its destruction.
32- This is also known as The Longwell Creed. These words were written on a small tag and sewn into all of Longwell’s clothes. Including his socks. It was also written in very, tiny, little letters on his reading glasses, tea cups, pencils, tweezers, combs, tooth brush and letter opener.
33- Longwell’s father, F.H. Longwell II was himself a trusted science advisor and held the title of High Orderer of Things Known and Not Known. He served on Her Majesty’s Natural Occurrences and Unnatural Acts committee until age 103. He spent his scientific life developing the 26 types of raindrop recognized today. His text book compiled over a lifetime of being rained upon is entitled: ‘The Longwell Scale of Condensed Droplets’ and remains in print in various highly organized and enumerated parts of the world to this day.
Part 17 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Longwell attempts to capture as much information about the
hidden cave as possible. But food eventually runs low and candles burn out.
I transcribed as much as I could, filling notebook after notebook with important tidbits and an occasional drawing of my hand. They are devilishly hard to draw.
I carefully selected several small clay pots that were most beautifully decorated with hideous scenes of grotesqueness and packed them carefully after marking exactly where I removed them. The chaps back at the museum love to have such information.
Using my best judgment I designated the exact location of where we are and marked it on the map. This will be the key for the adventurers who wish to follow in my footfalls.
This cavern could supply a team of scientists from the Museum of Curious Curiosities with a lifetime of futzing about and cataloging this and that. That’s well and fine for them. But my time is done here. The adventure is over.
When I call for Tipton my voice echoes in the darkness. The candles have been burning down and I’m starting to find the cavern less an interesting place to look at some old bits-n-pieces of stuff and more like a sepulcher. Actually, more and more like a hideous tomb as each candle flickers and burns down.
Then I have one left and soon enough it is no bigger than a birthday candle from a very small birthday cake. And for an instant I think, would I rather have a birthday cake than a candle right now? I am extremely hungry… But no. Candle wins! I yell again for Tipton but hear no response.
I’m not sure how this will work out. The images on the cavern walls: multi-headed-god-like-beast-men holding tiny humans whose heads have been severed, seem more menacing now. Less magical by 90% actually. Really pretty scary.
I hold tight to the last candle and make my way down the dark tunnel.
On each side are mumified human bodies with severed heads. The floor is littered with broken votives and an occasional human skull. I wonder if my skull will be the next to grace this floor. I hold the candle up to see if there is any air moving. Perhaps that gentle waft of the candles flame will point the way out. Or at least to Tipton. He wafts a lot of air on his own actually. I yell using my most manly voice once again. But hear only the echo. Do I really sound that high in pitch? I sound like mother for God’s sake.
The candle wafts – then flickers out. No more matches, no more candles. I am surrounded by the dark.
Part 18 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
When his last candle flickers out and Longwell can’t find Tipton he
reminisces about an early difficult situation he went though with Tipton.
July 17th or 18th, 1830
I remember my father locking Tipton and I in a darkened room. You won’t always be exploring in the daylight, he said. Find the key and find your way out he yelled as he latched the door.
Where’s the key? I yelled. You have to find it, dad yelled back. And be careful, there are two-dozen Leiurus quinquestriatus in the room. Don’t find them he chuckled.
Father had locked us in the room with 20 Deathstalker scorpions, one of the most venomous animals on earth.
He knew that the life of an explorer and his manservant was not going to be easy. What he didn’t know then is that Tipton was hardly affected by scorpion venom. So while I sat quietly, Tipton searched each nook and corner of the old bottling room.
He found every single scorpion. I mean, what are the odds? And they delivered their fair share of mayhem on him. But he found that key and brought it to me.
I was never so proud as when I opened that door to see father standing there. Here’s the key I said. Next time, give us a difficult challenge.
My father rarely smiled but he grimaced in such a way that I knew he was proud.
Then he loudly burped and I realized his grimace was just him passing gas. But still, he seemed happy enough to see us.
Tipton crawled out during dinner and several of the house persons saw to him. It was later said that he was not so much immune to the sting of the scorpion, as he was simply able to absorb massive envenomation before succumbing to the searing pain and coma.
Jolly good find that Tipton fellow, father said. You can’t just toss a rock and hit someone like that. Then we did toss some rocks at Tipton and he still didn’t move and that’s when we dispatched medical folk. But three weeks later Tipton was as good as healed and joined me again in classes at The Standish School. So even in this bleak predicament I did not panic. Much.
I continued to walk slowly through the dark. The cave’s silence broken only by the pitter-pat-pitter-pat of water falling to the cave floor. A rhythm rehearsed for thousands of years.
Then the pitter-pat-pitter-pat was interrupted by a hideous yelping. It was Tipton!
Part 19 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Longwell is reinvigorated when he hears Tipton shouting.
He hopes to follow Tipton’s screaming’s out of the cavern.
Part 20 of the diary of famed explorer F.H. Longwell.
Mostly safe and no less sound than usual, Longwell and
Tipton get a chance to rest after surviving one of their
most dangerous cave (and monkey) filled adventures.
July 23, 1830
And so our adventure ends much like it began, though we are a bit itchier. Tipton’s rash is back (nothing unusual there) and we have a few additional bruises, cuts, welts. Monkey bites. But we are safe and sound. And while I rest on the sunny beach, trying to absorb all that this adventure has brought us and making notes on our finds for the museum, Tipton cuts down timber to construct a new boat. Perhaps he will make it a little roomier this time. But I ask for that every time and he just ignores me.
I am disappointed that we never found the 30 pair of golden pants but we did find proof of the king wearing them. Of course we saw no proof of the golden undergarments. We will never know the truth as the story has been so long handed down that much of it now lives only as myth. Magical stories that weary locals recount to pass the dark evenings.
Tipton insists it’s a story that weary locals tell unwanted guests, so that the uninvited venture off to die in the jungle … Tipton’s understanding of human nature is limited. And while I admire his versatility and vitality, he does not grasp the wonder I see.
We are running low on scone mix. I’m almost out of tea. My razors are not sharp enough to cut a banana. I haven’t seen or heard a single elephant this entire trip. Not even a little one.
I am not 100% certain when we will be called to meet our next adventure but I have no doubt that we will prevail and bring honor, prestige and a host of amazing artifacts to The Museum of The World’s Most Curious Curiosities. As we have some quiet time while we recuperate, I plan on taking Tipton out into the sea to teach him some basic strokes. Of course it’s difficult to make plans because adventuring can pop-up at any moment and dash your beautiful plate of plans into bits. Tiny little bits that one will never be able to put back together into anything resembling the plate it once was.
We must always be vigilant to all the things we do not yet know. And those things we don’t yet know that we don’t know, or haven’t even realized we need to know because they seem on the surface to be rather mundane and uninteresting, yet they turn out to be fascinating – and filled with elephants.
In the year of our Lord, one thousand eighteen hundred thirty.
F.H. Longwell III