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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
May 4, 1939

    Early in the dark morning, Frenchy woke up. The moon had been turned on at five o'clock , and the room was flooded with light. The little clock on the table beside his bed said five-thirty. It wasn't time to get up, so he counted the pink and orange flowers on the pale blue wall paper. Just as he counted 260 on the east wall there came a soft knock on his door.
    “Who's there?”
    “It's me! Can I come in?”
    “Sure!”
     Turkey tip-toed in, and sat down on a stool beside his bed.
    “Hello!” she said “What time is it?”
    “Ten to six!” Frenchy motioned to the clock.
    “How long have you been awake?” Turkey asked. 
    “About twenty minutes.”
    “I've been lying in bed for an awfully long time. The moon wasn't even on.” She jumped up and began looking around the room. “Good!” she exclaimed, as she pulled out a drawer. Carefully she carried it over to Frenchy's bed-side so that he could see what was inside.
    “Let's play Chinese checkers!” Frenchy selected a board from the drawer.
    “Look, here's Lexican, Chess, cards and here are lots of pencils, and some paper!” said Turkey .
    “Let's play Chinese checkers!” Frenchy insisted.
    “Well, if we do, you've got to sit up. Here's your bathrobe!”
    Till seven thirty the game went on, and at last, when Isabelle called up the stairs, Frenchy had won fourteen games, and Turkey eleven.
    For breakfast the children had round pancakes with Moon-syrup, a special syrup found only in Moon-Land.
    Mr. Masters, who had already eaten, came into the room.
    “I have been thinking over the matter of getting you home” he stated. "Of course, you don't want to stay here indefinitely. You couldn't if you wanted to, because it's against the laws to have strangers stay in this land more than a few days. Anyway, the climate isn't good for you here. You would soon be thin and pale. Moonyites have some strange power to be able to live comfortably in a dark land. You have go home soon. So I've planned a way. I've discussed it with a score of other men, and they agreed to help.”
    “Help how?” asked Talka, inquisitively.

(Continued Next Week.)

 

Galesburg Post
May 11 , 1939

    “Well, here is my plan,” said Mr. Masters. “Just a little bit out of Moon City is an old water-well. It hasn't any water in it, and it is so deep that it only has several more yards to go before it will stick out the bottom of Moonland! Now I could get about a dozen workers to dig out the bottom and come out on the bottom of Moonland. They would have to be very careful so as not to fall out. I can give you two parachutes and you can get safely down to earth without damage from the dragon. Do you agree?”
    “Yes! But how long will it take to get the well dug out?” Turkey inquired.
    “Only about half a day. But it will take another half-day to get a pulley in working order, to the bottom. And we can't start work till tomorrow, because today all the men must repair the streets and houses.”
    “Good!” Frenchy exclaimed. “We can stay two more days at least!” And gobbled down the rest of his pancake. "Let's go have a look at the well now!”
    “Very well! Go pick a Moon flower in the back yard for light, and we'll start!”
    “Look!” cried Frenchy as they walked along the path to the deserted well. “Shooting stars!”
    “No,” Mr. Masters corrected, “they're birds called Lightengales. I have a pet one. I haven't whistled for it for several weeks, and I don't know if it will recognize my voice. But I'll try to call it.”
    He whistled a long, low tone, quickly changed to a few high ones, and ended with a few quick flurries.
    A light high in the sky stopped suddenly, as though wondering what to do. Then it answered Mr. Masters' call, swooped down to earth, and settled on his shoulder.
    “Look!” Mr. Masters held the bird up for inspection.
    “Why, its shaped just like a light-bulb!” Turkey exclaimed in surprise. She lifted up the tame bird, and stroked its smooth glossy back.
    The Lightengale was yellow in color, and had an orange head. It was shaped like a light bulb, fassened onto the neck of the bulb, and kept flashing on and off its yellow light like a firefly. It had almost no tail, but large orange wings, with flicks of black. It was a very beautiful bird.
    The bird soon flew away and the children, Mr. Masters and Talka continued on their way. The well was examined by flashing the Moonflower up and down its moss-grown sides.

(Concluded Next Week.)

 

Galesburg Post
May 18, 1939

    At last the two days were up and the well was finished. A big pulley carried Turkey and Frenchy down to the bottom, with their belongings which they had collected. Talka flew down, as he said the pulley wasn't worth while when you had two good wings to fly with.
    Mr. Masters fastened the parachutes on them, and the children approached the hole with less fear than they had at their first jump. Pat was there, and Isabelle insisted on seeing them off.
    Then, after saying goodbye to everyone, and promising to come back soon, Frenchy jumped out, as Pat yelled: “One, two, three, go!”
     Turkey quickly followed, and Talka sailed out of the hole along side her.
    “Look!” yelled Frenchy in disgust. “We're going to land on another cloud!”
    “Oh!” Turkey groaned, looking down to make certain with her own eyes.
    Indeed, the children landed, to the music of Talka's indignant squawks.
    “Now you'll never get to the ground!” he cawed.
    “But we'll have to!” Frenchy placed the two parachutes in a heap and sat down disconsolately on the cloud. “This cloud doesn't seem to be sailing right, either. It's standing still.”
    “Why, so it is!” Talka cried joyfully. “It's a fog cloud It's near the ground. Come on, here's your chance!” Frenchy and Turkey rushed over the billows of the soft clubber, and leaped over high ridges to the spongy clubber below.
    Talka flew swiftly ahead. “Hurry-hurry, Hurry, hurry!” he cawed. “The fog is rising! It's rising, rising, rising! Run!!!”
    The children fairly flew over the fog and when finally they reached the very out-side edge of the cloud, it was well ten feet above the ground.
    “Jump! Jump!” Talka's voice grew higher and higher as his excitement rose.
    Frenchy held his nose, closed his eyes, and jumped. Both he and Turkey landed in the center of a large fish pond, and both rose sputtering to the top of the water.
    Talka was having fits of laughter on the grass, and as the children surveyed each other they had to laugh, too.
    “Look, Frenchy!” Turkey made a discovery, “We are in Hall's back yard! Right next to your house! The clouds must have sailed around in a circle!”
    “Sure enough!” Frenchy picked up their books which were luckily tossed on the grass before they jumped. “Well, so long; I've got to change my clothes! I'll be over to your house in half an hour.”
    “I'll go with you! Talka decided, flying over his head.
    “G'bye!” called Frenchy. “Our mothers are probably worried! And say, Turkey , you're still in time for that dinner party!”

 

The End