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Young author Jackson

The Cloudlanders
The Cloudlanders is a story I wrote at age ten. My previous "books" had been collected bits and pieces; this was a continuous novel, but picaresque--a series of adventures with the same characters. In it, my hero and heroine, with a guide bird named Talka (obviously a talker) get up into the clouds where they discover some are solid, and boast strange countries. When I ran out of what to tell about the situation the kids were in, I'd jump them to the next cloud-country. I was heavily influenced by the Oz books and Alice in Wonderland.

A visiting friend of my parents who edited the a weekly newspaper, saw the story in progress, admired my industry, and started to print it in the Galesburg (Illinois) Post. After a while the printed word caught up to my written copy, and I sweated under a deadline. One week there was a box on the front page, and within it the words, "Jackie Dougan! Authors mustn't let their publishers get ahead of them! Send in the next installment pronto!" It was too much pressure for me; I brought my kids down from the clouds shortly after. But they'd been up there four and a half months, and I was launched as a published author--one, however, who to this day rarely accepts a deadline on an unfinished manuscript.

Click a selection below to read the installments:
Installment 1-3 - Installment 4-6 - Installment 7-9 - Installment 10-12 - Installment 13-15 - Installment 16-18
Installment 19-21 - Installment 22-25 - More about the history of Cloudlanders

The Cloudlanders ©1938/39, Jacqueline Dougan Jackson

Galesburg Post
December 15 , 1938

    “This is my own special bed,” said King Mist, with pride in his voice, pointing to a large bed of flowers, some fifteen minutes later “I planted it myself. I water it, and weed it, and I don't allow any gardener to touch it. You see.,” he said sadly, “It's something to do with my time. There's never any thing exciting going on here. Never!” then he added. “I wish the Queen could meet you, but, of course, she can't.”
    “Why not?” asked Turkey, curiously. “Is she sick?”
    “Oh, no! She sailed off a month ago. I expect her to return any day now.” The king wasn't the least worried.
    “Sailed off!” exclaimed Frenchy.
    “Sailed off?” inquired Talka, more interested than surprised. “Does she have wings?”
    “No,” the king said quickly. “Every now and then a cloudlander sails off. We're so light that when ever a big gust of wind comes along, one or two of us sail off, unless we run into our houses.”
    “But aren't you afraid of sailing off too?” asked Turkey, wondering how it felt to be so very, very light.
    “No-o-o-o, I always have to wear heavy clothes. It's an awful bother to lug these togs about. But what would cloudland do without a ruler? My eldest son, Conrad, is 19 years old, and he doesn't want to rule. He has some silly idea about flying to the moon in three days.”
    “But,” Frenchy interrupted.
    “Yes,” the king talked on, “It sounds impossible to you, but we have a regular trading route from here to the moon. I'm a good friend of the king up there, but sometimes it takes a month to get there, so I can only have short visits when I do get to go. The king has three daughters, too.” King Mist wouldn't let anyone else get a word in. “Their names are Rosily, 18, Moon-Flower, 16, and Marie, 12.”
    “I'm two years old,” stated Talka, “I'm only two years old, and the chief likes ME better than any other two year old talking bird. The reason,” he explained as Frenchy scowled at him, “Is because the chief is my father!” And laughing at his own joke, he hopped away to take a bath in the fountain.
    “Have you any more children?” asked Frenchy, hoping there would be a boy his own age.
    “Yes, I've got one more son. Roland is fourteen years old. Would you like to meet him?”
    “Sure!” cried Frenchy, eagerly. “Want to, Turkey?”
    “O.K.!” she replied. “I'd just as soon. Where is he?
    “Probably over at the planitarium. He's very interested in astronemy.” The king started walking briskly towards the palace. “Come on! I'll call a carriage! James! James! Have Jerald bring a carriage up to the gate!”
    “Well, here we are!” the king said finally, as the carriage came to a stop in front of a building with a large glass dome. Frenchy hopped nimbly out, Turkey close at his heels.

(Continued next week.)

 

Galesburg Post
December 29, 1938

    “Why, this isn't a planatarium!” cried Frenchy. “It's an observatory!”
    “Why, come to think of it, it isn't,” said the king jovily. “Bless my soul lad! My mistake.”
    They found Roland seated on a kitchen stool, looking through one of the largest telescopes in Cloudland.
    “Here are some visitors to see you, sonny,” cried the king, slapping him on the back.
    Roland turned around quickly. “Oh, you scared me!” he laughed. “But please don't call me sonny, Dad. After all, I'm fourteen now. I'm not a baby any more.”
    “All right, sonny!” teased the king, winking at Frenchy. “Here are some children, who would like to meet you. Turkey —" “Orainia Turquoise,” Turkey corrected. “Well, we'll just call you Turkey . Turkey , may I present my son Roland. Roland this its Turkey , who got blown here in a bubble. Frenchy, I guess that's your name, this is Roland, and Roland, this is Frenchy. Whew! I'm glad that's over!” The king mopped his brow with a red polka-dotted handkerchief. “I never did like introductions!”
    “Want to look through the telescope?” asked Roland. “I've got it trained on Jupiter. You can see it pretty well, now that the sun has gone down.”
    Frenchy had never looked through a telescope, and he jumped at the chance eagerly.
    Meanwhile Talka had finished his shower-bath and was looking for something to eat. He gulped down many beakfuls of water, gobbled down several packages of pansy seed, which he found in a tool house on the far side of the garden, and then started out to hunt for his new friends. He soon spotted them under the great glass roof of the observatory. He flew 'round and 'round the dome, squaking loudly, but neither Frenchy, nor Turkey seemed to notice him. Finally in exasperation, he alighted upon the tip of the telescope, just as Frenchy peered through it. You can imagion how Talka looked, magnified hundreds of times, and not being so very handsome anyway.
    Frenchy jumped back, almost upsetting the king, who was standing in back of him.
    “A dragon!” he screeched, at the top of his lungs.
    Immdeatly two men ran into the room, panting from the weight of four buckets of water.
    “Where's the fire?!” cried one, eagerly.
    “No fire, silly! A dragon! Can't you hear him?” said Roland, calmly, pointing at Frenchy. He obveusly thought the boy had lost his mind. 
    “Oh!” the firefighters were disappointed. “Why aren't there any fires anymore! It was five years when the last really big fire was,” and they marched slowly out of the room looking for any kind of smoke of flame.
    “It was a dragon!” vowed Frenchy, recovering from his fright. “I'm sure it was!”
    “Tut, tut, m'lad! Don't be silly. There are no such things as dragons,” drawled the king.
    “But there are! I just so one, or I'm a cow!” he insisted.
    “You're a cow, then!” snickered Turkey . “It's only Talka.”
    “Sure enough! Sure enough!” smiled Roland, looking at Frenchy, who dug his toe in the rug, and looked sheepish.
    “Come, bossy!” teased the king, “Which do you prefer, oats, barley, or hay?”
    “Oats!” laughed Frenchy, running toward the door. “I'm going to let Talka in.”
    Indeed, Talka was doing all except tearing the roof off, so anxios was he to get inside.
    A few minutes later, Talka flew into the room, making everyone counshis of his arrival.
    “Oh, how I love to get up in the morning, but Id much rather lie – in bed - !” he sang, or at least tried to. “Hello, Turkey ! Hello, Baldy!” (The king was getting a little thin on top.) “Who is this young piece of finery?” pointing an inquisitive claw at Roland.
    “That's Roland, the king's son.” Frenchy informed him.
    “Oh, I see!” Pleased to meetcha – Well, when do we eat?” It was Talka who broke the silence. “The pangs of hunger are again gnawing at my stomach.”
    Frenchy stepped timidly forward. “Your Majesty –“
    “Now, Now. None of this ‘Majesty business.” cried the king.
    “Well, -- I thought that maybe you could think of some way that we could get home. You see, our parents are probebly worried about us.” 
    “Oh!” the king's face fell. “I thought you were going to stay for a month, if not longer.”
    “Oh, no!” hastily replied Turkey . “We're having company next week and I'v got to help mother with the dinner.”
    King Mist scratched his chin thoughtfully, “Hum. I'v got it!”
    “What?”
    “If you will stay overnight, I'll tell you in the morning.”
    “Well, I guess you'v got to stay.” Said Talka, impatiently. “I'm hungry. Come on! Have you no consideration for hungry birds? Again I say I'M STARVING!” 
    “Alright, Talka! We'll go back to the palace now,” comforted Roland, “Come on, Dad and everyone else! I'm in favor of Talka's suggestion!”
    The next morning Turkey woke up in a hug four-poster bed with silken covers and boracade hangings. The room was decorated in yellow and pale blue. Pulling the covers up under her chin, she gazed around dreamily. She was just dozing off again when Talka flew in the open window.
    Settling on her pillow he began to croak his favorite song, “Oh, how I love to get up in the morning,' right in her ear. “I had an invitation to dine – no, sup, -- no EAT with the prime minister,” he announced. 
    “That's nice!” Turkey jumped out of bed. “Now scram! It's not polite to stay in a lady's room while she's dressing!”
    Pulling on her shoes, she ran out of the room, leaving Talka to talk to himself about eating, his favorite pastime. 
    “Hi, Roland.” Turkey sat down at the breakfast table a few minutes later. “Hello, everybody.”
    “Hello, Turkey ,” greeted the king. “Frenchy and I have just come to an agreement. He has promised to visit cloudland for a day or two every month. Talka will be flying in between the two kingdoms, and it can easily be arranged. Do you agree?”
    “Well, I guess I'v got to! But you still haven't told us how we are going to get home, King.”
    “We've got lots of parachutes, and you could float right down.”
    “Sure! I'd love it” shouted both the children jumping up and down. 
    “So it's settled. When do you plan on leaving?” the king asked.

(Continued next week)

 

Galesburg Post
January 5, 1939

CHAPTER 3: Moonland

    An hour later, Turkey , Frenchy, King Mist, Roland and Talka arrived at the very edge of Cloudland. Turkey and Frenchy were equipped with parachutes strapped firmly to their back, arms, and legs. King Mist and Roland each had a pair of powerful binoculars, intending to watch the children all the way down.
    “It's very dangerous here,” murmured the king. “Look, a few minutes ago we were standing in a hollow, and now we're on top of a hill. Look out, Talka!!!”
    The surprised bird took to the air, just as the clubber under his feet turned a few somersaults and sailed off into the sky.
    “Gawlk!' he gasped, “Why doesn't some one tell me of these things!”
    “Step back from the edge, Frenchy,” warned Roland, “It's safer back here.”
    After saying goodbye to Roland and King Mist, the children approached the edge. Now that the time had come, they both were a little frightened. 
    “Go on!” shouted Roland. “It won't hurt you! Just jump off, count ten, and pull the ripcord!”
    Turkey started to step backwards, but suddenly the strip of clubber which she and Frenchy were standing on broke away from the rest, and turned over, dumping both children into the air.
    “Goodbye!” shrieked Roland laughing at the expressions on their faces. “Pull the ripcord!”
    As it was, they were both tugging at the cord, and finally, with a jerk, Turkey 's parachute opened. A split second later, Frenchy's billowed out, too.
    Talka flapped along beside them. “Can't you fly any faster?” he asked. “Why, it'll take you hours to get down to earth, at the rate you're going.”
    “I don't like this feeling of sitting on nothing!” shouted Turkey . Frenchy was so far away that he couldn't hear her, but he had troubles of his own. The wind was blowing him farther and farther away from Turkey . Also, right beneath him was another cloud, and if it was made of clubber, he wouldn't go through,. And, as he weighed much more than Turkey , he was dropping a great deal faster.
    “What will I do!” he thought wildly. “I don't want to be stranded on a cloud! Talka! Hey Talka! Come 'ere!” 
    Talka, luckily, had very good ears and he flapped over and settled on Frenchy's shoulder.
    “What do you want?”
    “Look, I'm going to land on that cloud. Do you think it's solid?”
    Talka cocked his head on one side and squinted thoughtfully. “It looks that way,” he said at length. “Yes, I think it is.”
    Just then Frenchy's feet touched the clubber.
    “Come on, help me unfasten these straps. There!”
    Running to the edge, he looked down.

    “Look!” he cried, “ Turkey 's parachute is caught on a snag! Oh, what if that strip of clubber should break off?!!”
    “Don't ‘what' and ‘if' about it, do something!” chirped Talka sensibly. “Can't you reach the top of the parachute? It doesn't look far.”
    “No, it doesn't. I'll try!” Lying down on his stomach, he reached as far down as he could. Just the tips of his fingers could touch the cloth. “Get me a stick, Talka.” He ordered. “No, you don't need to. The ground is sinking down. I can reach it, now. Whew, I never knew Turkey was so heavy!”
    A few minutes later Turkey was sitting on the ground beside Talka. “Oh!” she gasped, “I was afraid that that piece of-of-of – oh, what do you call it?”
    “Clubber,” Frenchy told her.
    “Well, I was afraid that that strip of clubber would break off, and my parachute wouldn't open.”
    “So were we,” put in Talka. “But why can't you just jump off the edge, Frenchy?”
    “Sure!” he cried, “That's a swell idea! Go ahead, Turkey , try it!”
    “Why don't you?” Turkey asked. 
    “Why, my parachute wouldn't open!”
    “Oh ho!” laughed Turkey . “And you expected me to try it!”
    “That won't work!” cried Frenchy hurridly. “They have to be folded!" Kneeling down he began to pull his parachute into a wad.

(Continued next week)