Stories from when I was young

Swallows and Amazons

They pulled off stone after stone, and with each stone that was removed the marvels of the box grew greater. It was entirely covered with labels. There were labels showing “P and O. First Cabin”. There were labels of the Bibby Line, of the Dollar Line, of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha. There was a label with palm trees and camels and a river from some hotel in Upper Egypt. There were labels showing the blue bays and white houses of Mediterranean seaports. There was a label saying, “Wanted on the Voyage”. There were labels with queer writing on them, and no English writing at all except the word Peking. There was a label of the Chinese Eastern Railway. There were labels of hotels in San Francisco, Buenos Ayres, London,Rangoon, Colombo, Melbourne, Hong-Kong, New York, Moscow and Khartoum. Some of them were pasted over others. Some were scratched and torn. But each one delighted the able-seaman and the boy. In the middle of the lid were two letters, “J.T.” Stone after stone was pulled away. The box had been put under the tree, in the hollow where the roots had been, and then covered with big loose stones, of which there were plenty on all sides. Some of the stones were so big that Titty and Roger both pulling together could hardly move them. As for shifting the box, it was like trying to move a house. They could not stir it a quarter of an inch.

“Let’s get it open,” said Roger.

by Arthur Ransome