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The Northern Lights in Northern New Hampshire

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Sir Buxton Story

ONCE upon a time a great king lived at the North Pole--up there among the ice and snow, just where no one ventures to go nowadays, not even the ships--and this king's name was Frigimand.

What a cross, selfish, hateful old fellow he was! And how he abused his people! What he liked best was eating, and he was always thinking of his dinner or his supper, or scolding his poor cook because he couldn't think of something new to put on his table.


The King's Kitchen

This cook had a hard time, I can tell you. He was a queer-looking dwarf (this story was written when "queer" meant "odd" or "strange" before the recent corruption of the language), when , and he had six sons, all dwarfs like himself, who had nothing to do but assist their father. So one made the pies, and another made the cake, and still another pared the potatoes and turnips, while some kept the fire going and washed the dishes, and all were busy as bees.

Their father, poor old Skimantaste, was terribly afraid of the king, because, whenever his food didn't suit him, he always threatened to have the old man burned alive, and the cook knew well that his royal majesty would think nothing of carrying his threats into execution.

At last, one day when Frigimand had been in a worse humor than usual, and had grumbled and fretted till every one about the court had wished themselves away, he suddenly concluded to travel. Not that he wanted to learn any thing, or expected to come back any wiser or better than when he went, but merely because his time hung heavily on his hands, and he knew not how to employ it at home. So he made his preparations, gave a parting scolding to Skimantaste, and set off, taking no one with him, not even a newspaper reporter.

After a long and tedious journey, he arrived in the city of New York one morning in July, and a very hot, unpleasant morning it was. Frigimand was almost melted. He had never known what warm weather was before, and he was almost afraid to go about the city at all.

The third day after his arrival he ventured out to take a walk, and, going along Broadway, he stopped to look in at all the shops where he saw any thing to eat or drink. The first place he stopped at was a large drug store, where a number of people were drinking soda-water. Seeing how it foamed and sparkled, Frigimand stepped up to the counter and asked for a glass. That was so cool and refreshing that he took another, and another, until he had drunk six glasses of soda-water, and had tried as many kinds of sirup. Then, having paid for this delicious new drink, he took out his notebook and wrote "Fizz," which he thought would best describe it.



Going a little further, he came to a large ice-cream saloon, and here again he stopped to look. He saw groups of people sitting at little tables, eating something which looked very nice, so he went in and took a seat. A colored waiter rushed up to him with a thin book, which he put down on the table before him, and then stood waiting to receive his order. Now Frigimand hated books. The very sight of one made him think of his school-days and his unlearned lessons. So he pushed this one away in a fright, and said, "No, no; I want some of that!" pointing to a plate of ice-cream which had just been placed before a lady near by.

This ice-cream looked so white, like the snow in his home, with a little pink tinge on the top, that he was quite inclined to get up and snatch the plate, like a greedy tyrant as he was.

The waiter nodded, and presently he brought him some ice-cream, which Frigimand ate just as quickly as he could swallow, and then called for some more. He went on, taking one plateful after another, until he had eaten twelve. Then he took out his note-book again and wrote "FREEZE" on the next page, because it was so very cold. Well, King Frigimand staid one month in New York, and he spent nearly the whole of the time in consuming large quantities of Fizz and Freeze, until at last he made himself sick, and was forced to set sail for home.
On the voyage he could talk of nothing else but Fizz and Freeze, and no sooner had he landed than he sent into the kitchen for old Skimantaste, and told him that he must have these new dainties every day.

"But I don't know how to make them, your Majesty," said the trembling cook.

"Then find out!" roared Frigimand, in a passion. "And remember this--if you don't give them to me to-morrow, you will surely be roasted alive."

Back into his kitchen ran the poor old fellow, crying and bemoaning his hard fate; in from the garden, where they were gathering vegetables for dinner, ran the six sons, eager to know what new trouble had befallen their father. The story was soon told, and after consulting together, the six sons went to look for the king, and beg for their father's life.

The Petition

Skimantaste's Return

They found that unreasonable monarch in a very bad humor. At first he would not listen to any thing they said; but at last the oldest and wisest of the sons spoke thus:

"Your most gracious Majesty, I have a plan to propose. If you will send our father to visit this wonderful city of which you speak, that he may learn there how to prepare these delicacies for your.pleasure, will it not be a better way to procure them than merely to burn him? For if your Majesty will condescend to think, your Majesty will see that a live cook is more useful than a dead one, even if he be roasted."

This argument convinced Frigimand. He graciously consented that old Skimantaste should go on a voyage of discovery. So the old man set out as soon as he could get ready, and after a tedious passage he too reached the city of New York, but quite late in the fall.

He soon found the shops where the icecream and the soda-water were sold, and at once he began-to ask for recipes, and to learn how they were to be put together.

Soon he bought all the necessary materials and loaded his ship with them--barrels of sugar, baskets of eggs, bags of salt, essences for flavoring, cans of condensed milk, and a monstrous ice-cream freezer, the largest he could find. Also he bought a soda-water fountain, and all the things necessary for making soda-water, such as gallons of sarsaparilla and lemon sirup, great hogsheads of carbonic acid gas, and so on, until the ship was loaded.

Then he sailed away home again, and arrived there safely one fine morning, and the joyful news of his return was carried at once to King Frigimand.

Frigimand was really delighted. He went to see the vessel unloaded, and the barrels and and boxes carried up to the royal kitchen; and he was as impatient as a child until every thing was unpacked and Skimantaste was fairly at work.

The soda-water fountain was carried into the king's library, and all the books were tumbled out to make room for it. The icecream freezer was set up in the court-yard of the palace, the cream was made ready, and the six sons were set at work to keep it turning in the tub until Skimantaste said it was frozen enough.

So for a while all went on well. The busy Skimantaste ran back and forth, first to inspect the soda-water, then to look at the cream, and Frigimand walked up and down, almost smiling, and wonderfully patient.

By-and-by the old cook opened the freezer to taste the cream, and he handed the spoon to one of his sons afterward, which was a very unlucky thing. The naughty little fellow licked the spoon, and was charmed. He whispered to his brothers, and set them all wishing for a taste.

Presently one, more daring than the rest, opened the freezer and took out some on his finger. Immediately all the others thrust their fingers in, and began to dance about, delighted with the flavor.

On the Sly

Frigimand at Dinner

So they went on, taking larger mouthfuls, and getting deeper into the ice-cream, until they heard their father's step; then they all worked very busily; but no sooner were they alone again than they began tasting more boldly than ever, until they had entirely emptied the freezer.
At this moment the great bell rang to announce that the king's dinner was served, and Frigimand rushed to the dining-room at its very first stroke. In a very short time he had cleared all the dishes placed before him, and then called out to Skimantaste to bring some of the long-wished-for Freeze.


Royal Vengeance

The triumphant cook ran out to the courtyard, and, lifting the lid of the freezer, found it entirely empty! He was so frightened that he just stood staring, never speaking a word, until Frigimand, out of patience at his delay, came running after to see if any thing was wrong.

When he stood by his terrified cook and looked into the empty freezer, his rage was frightful. He snatched the large china dish from Skimantaste's trembling hand and broke it over his head, then he kicked the freezer and the tub in which it stood, and upsetting them both, scattered the great lumps of ice all over his kingdom, and many of them descended into the northern sea.

Every one ran out of his way when they saw how furious he was--courtiers, servants, cook, and all--while the king rushed into his library, declaring that though he had been so cruelly cheated of the Freeze, he would, at any rate, have some Fizz. Here again the unhappy king was doomed to suffer disappointment.
For unluckily the machinery did not work very well, and when he tried to draw it from the bright silver tubes, as he had seen the men do in the drug store, it would not come. This was too much for Frigimand's temper. He instantly caught up a hammer, and began to batter the whole thing, in a new fit of rage. Then, in a single moment, before any one knew what was coming, the whole of the apparatus blew up.

The gas exploded with a fearful crash, destroying the palace, the people, and the king, scattering the fragments far and wide. Nothing was ever afterward seen or heard of Frigimand and his kingdom. But to this day all that part of the world is full of great blocks of ice, which we call icebergs, lying around just as the king distributed them in his fury, and making it too difficult and dangerous for people to travel in that neighborhood.

Origin of Icebergs

Birth of the Aurora

And sometimes the whole sky is full of strange lights and colors that flash and sparkle so brilliantly that we can see them away off here, and learned men call these flashes the "Aurora Borealis," or "Northern Lights," but I know better. I know they come out of the old king's soda fountain, and are only the FIZZ broken loose.

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Sir Buxton Story

 The Northern Lights in Northern New Hampshire


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