So they went up to a group of pigeons which were strutting along the ground, picking grain which the people throw to them in the day time.
“Hello! hello!” said Jackie Tar, and in a minute about a hundred pigeons gathered about them. And he said he wanted some of them to help him get to the South Pole.
“I’ll do it,” said one of them, and he stepped up to Jackie Tar.
“Good for you, matey,” said Jackie Tar.
“I’ve always wanted to travel,” said the pigeon, “for I’m tired flying around here and I’d like to see the world.”
“So would I,” said another.
“And I.” “And I,” cried three or four more.
You see pigeons are like people, for, lots of times, people want to do things but they wait and wait and wait till some one starts it.
“Four are all we need,” said Jackie Tar, “one for each of us.” So the pigeons crowded about and begged and begged to be taken, and Kernel Cob and Sweetclover and the Villain and Jackie Tar chose the biggest and strongest, and the ones that they liked the color of the best.
But one of the pigeons didn’t want to go to the South Pole, for, said she, “You don’t hear as much of the South Pole as you do of the North Pole, and unless you go to the North Pole, I won’t go.”
So it was decided to go to the North Pole, “For,” said Kernel Cob, “I don’t think it makes any difference after all. The Magician didn’t say which pole it was, so maybe it’s just as well.”
“I say let’s go to the North Pole,” said Jackie Tar, “and, if we don’t find them there, we can very easily try the South Pole next.”
“Yes,” said Kernel Cob, “let’s go to all the Poles there are until we find the right one.”
So they got upon the pigeons’ backs, just as a little boy or girl gets on a pony, and one of the pigeons, the one that Sweetclover was on, said to the others:
“Let’s make a race of it for the first mile.”
“Good!” squeaked the others, and off they flew at their top speed.
It was a most exciting race, for they were pretty evenly matched in strength and speed, but one of them did win the race, and you will be very glad to know that it was the one on which Sweetclover was riding.
“Hurrah!” shouted the Villain, for he was better pleased that she had won than if he had won himself.
And they flew all day over Italy and, looking down, they saw people working in the fields and the vineyards, growing rice and grapes and all the fruits that come from Italy, and always they heard the people singing beautiful songs of gladness.
“I wonder what makes them so happy?” said the Villain.
“It’s because it’s such a beautiful country, I guess,” said Sweetclover.
And they flew over the lakes which lie between Italy and Switzerland, and on all sides were mountains, the tops of which are always covered with snow.