Toward this he made at breakneck speed and with a final spurt dashed into an inlet where many ships rode at anchor and a large city rose against the sky.
“Hurrah!” shouted Kernel Cob.
In and out among the ships the sea-horse ran, until, with a last gasp, he flung himself forward and fell upon the surface of the water.
When the sea-horse fell, Kernel Cob and Sweetclover were thrown over his head and landed into the water, but Kernel Cob told Sweetclover they would soon be picked up.
And so they were, for a row-boat pulled toward them and in a minute they were taken from the water and laid on the bottom of the boat.
“What did I tell you?” said Kernel Cob. “If you wish for anything strong enough you’ll get it.”
“You’ll wish you were never born before you get out of here,” said a deep, strange voice, and looking about, Kernel Cob and Sweetclover were surprised to see two puppets, their own size.
The one who spoke was a villainous-looking fellow dressed as a Pirate. His face was browned as if by the sun, earrings were in his ears, a black hat on his head, and a deep and very ugly scowl was painted on his forehead.
The other was good looking and resembled the hero in a story. He had pink cheeks and a pretty smile.
Now, when Sweetclover heard the villainous puppet speak, she moved away from him but Kernel Cob, who always welcomed a new adventure and saw in this fellow a possible enemy, spoke up:
“Who and what are you?”
“A friend,” answered the Villain.
“You don’t look it,” said Sweetclover, “you look more like a villain.”
“And so I am,” said he. “At least that’s what I’m painted to be, but I have a kind heart just the same.”
“What are you doing out here in this boat?” asked Kernel Cob.
“The man who is rowing and who picked you up is a puppet showman,” he explained.
“I don’t like him a bit,” said Sweetclover.
“You’ll like him less and less as you get to know him,” said the Villain. “He’s very brutal. That’s why we are in the boat, for yesterday during the puppet show, he broke the Hero in a rage and he had to go across the harbor to a toy-shop to buy another. That’s the new Hero alongside of me.”
“He’s very handsome,” said Sweetclover.
“Sure,” said the Villain. “He’s got to be. Heroes are all handsome.”
“But why are you so ugly?” asked Kernel Cob.
“Ha, ha,” laughed the Villain, “why bless your heart, I’m not a real villain, I only play the part of a villain in the play. My real self is something very different. But what, may I ask, are you doing out here in the harbor of Valparaiso?”
“Is that where we are?” asked Sweetclover.
“Sure,” said Kernel Cob, for he didn’t want the Villain to think he wasn’t smart. “Didn’t you know we were in Italy?”