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The Admiral’s Caravan

The Admiral’s Caravan

By Charles Edward Carryl

New edition, 2011. Illustrations by Reginald Bathurst Birch. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-904808-66-4 (paperback), price: €11.95, £9.95, $14.95.

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“How much are you a dozen?” said a voice, and Dorothy, looking around, saw that it was a Dancing-Jack in the shop-window speaking to her. He was a gorgeous creature, with bells on the seams of his clothes and with arms and legs of different colours, and he was lounging in an easy attitude with his right leg thrown over the top of a toy livery-stable and his left foot in a large ornamental tea-cup; but as he was fastened to a hook by a loop in the top of his hat, Dorothy didn’t feel in the least afraid of him.    
“Thank you,” she replied with much dignity. “I’m not a dozen at all. I’m a single person. That sounds kind of unmarried,” she thought to herself, “but it’s the exact truth.”    
“No offence, I hope,” said the Jack, looking somewhat abashed.    
“No—not exactly,” said Dorothy rather stiffly.    
“You know, your size does come in dozens—assorted,” continued the Jack, with quite a professional air. “Family of nine, two maids with dusters, and cook with removable apron. Very popular, I believe.”    
“So I should think,” remarked Dorothy, beginning to recover her good nature.    
“But of course singles are much more select,” said the Jack. “We never come in dozens, you know.”    
“I suppose not,” said Dorothy, innocently. “I ca’n’t imagine anybody wanting twelve Dancing-Jacks all at the same time.”    
“It wouldn’t do any good if they did want them,” said the Jack. “They couldn’t get them—that is, not in this shop.”    
The Admiral’s Caravan

Charles Edward Carryl (1841-1920) worked as a director of a number of railway companies until he took a position in the New York Stock Exchange, which he held from 1874 to 1908. He married Mary Wetmore in 1869, with whom he had two children, Guy Wetmore Carryl (who later became a poet and humorist), and Constance Carryl (to whom The Admiral's Caravan was dedicated).

The Admiral's Caravan appeared first in serialized form in the children's periodical St Nicholas beginning in 1891; it was published in book form first in 1892 and remained in print for many years. Previously, in 1885, Carryl published another children's book, Davy and the Goblin.

The Admiral's Caravan is one of the last important works of nineteenth-century American children's fantasy published before The Wizard of Oz appeared in 1900. The story takes place—as such stories often do—on Christmas Eve when young Dorothy embarks on an adventure with the Admiral, the Highlander, and Sir Walter Rosettes, three wooden statues who come alive on that magic evening...

HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2011-02-22

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