Falling back to join the two boys, Hilfa inquired to Fin, 'Where are we going, anyway?' Fin nodded in the direction they were walking. 'Yes, I got that. But that's what's that way other than ice? Any actual plan? Any particular destination?'
Fin just shrugged and walked on ahead, leaving Hilfa and Snook to hurry along to keep up with his long strides.
If Hilfa's geography was right, the largest city in this direction was Tench, though numerous smaller villages and towns spotted the coastline. Fin probably intended to stop in one of them, but which one and way was a mystery. Snook would keep heading north until they froze to death if nothing good cropped up along the way. They should try to go through as many towns as possible to find a distraction.
Just then! A bandit leaped out of the bushes and pointed his sword at them. 'Avast!' he exclaimed. 'I be robbin' you scum-sucking scum-suckers! Give me your wallets and any lemons ye may be carrying!'
The kids stopped short. Snook and Hilfa has no wallets or lemons. Fin had a stolen purse, but was fresh our of fruit. They told the hoodlum as much and he scowled. 'Why is everybody on this path so completely devoid of lemons and wallets? Is there a depression or something?'
Fin mentioned that he had found lots of people to rob in Sawbill and suggested the crook accompany them northward to the next big city. Surely there would be people to rob there.
So, the dastardly thief shrugged his shoulders and joined the three travellers on their trek. As they walked, he told them the tale of how he had become such a miserable miscreant.
Meville said 'Sounds good!' handed Pilkinson his purse, and grabbed a hammer. A few days later, he had his first paddleboat completed, which was a darn good thing as he couldn't afford to buy lunch until he got some of that pretty profit of precious pay.
So he went to the portmaster and said 'Look! I built a paddleboat. Want to buy it for a paltry price?'
The harbour master looked at the pathetic paddleboat and proclaimed 'Paddleboats produced purely from plywood perform poorly.'
Melville Pennybrook was pissed. Pilkinson the plywood purveyor had put Pennybrook on a prompt path to poverty. Placing a plume on his hat, he picked piracy as his preferred profession. Presuming prosecution was probably, he paraded to the provincial paralegal place and pleaded for a pre-emptive parole. The paralegal, Pete Peterson, provided pro bono persuasion for Pennybrook's position. In appreciation, Pennybrook presented Pete Peterson with plenty of plywood with the precautionary postscript about pure plywood paddleboats performing poorly.
A pale plume in his purple hat, Pennybrook finally set out to enjoy his life of piracy. Very presently, however, he perceived his pirate phonetics were patently peculiar. So he proceeded to the provincial pirating prep school and became a pupil of pirate phrasology, in addition to taking a primer in podiatry.
Having learned all he needed about talking like a buccaneer, Melville set off along the northward road in search of unfortunate souls to rob. He tried robbing a beggar, but found that beggars have nothing in their wallets, if they even have wallets. He tried robbing someone who claimed to be the son of a king, but this alleged royal child had nothing of value on him. He even tried to rob one of those clergymen from the holy church, but his collection tin was devoid of any gold, silver, or lesser metals.
Meville then gave up and became an artist. He drew countless scenes, and sold his coloured canvasses for hundreds or sometimes even thousands of silver pieces. Then, one day, he sold a drawing of a bowl of fruit, for what he had thought was an enormous sum. To his great misfortune, however, it turned out he had accidentally put a negative sign on the tag and he actually owed the buyer all his wealth.
He immediately rescinded his artistic way of life and restarted his career as a brigand.
On this day years ago, the Tanenbaums and the Pesce were far out in the ocean; so far that they could not tell which of them was in the others' borders, so neither one could order the other away, and neither one was going to leave: doing so would be to admit they were the ones in violation of the other's sovereignty. So they both continued to do their own little thing, each pretending not to notice the other, when suddenly something appeared in the waters between them. It looked like a fish, but was several million feet long (or so the sailors later claimed when they told the tale). This million-foot fish was the size of a small moon and was clearly good eating. The Tanenbaumian captain shouted across the water to the Pesce captain 'Clear off! We'll handle this!'
The ugly Pesce responded, 'Not at all! We will provide it a good home.'
The Tanenbaumian captain pragmatically replied 'Nohow! You could never build an artificial ocean large enough for that! We'll just eat it!'
The Pesce captain sputtered for a moment upon hearing this wise suggestion and then shouted back, 'That's a horrific proposal! We'll just turn our harbour into an aquarium! No need to make good use of this fish that could end world hunger! Waste and want is the best policy!'
The Tanenbaumian captain frowned and hollered back, 'Let's make a deal: We'll chop it in half. Then you guys can waste whichever half you prefer and we'll take the other home for the feast of Dag!'
The stubborn and unwise Pesce captain was quite unwilling to accept this generous compromise, calling back 'We have no use for a dead fish, you barbarians!'
The Tanenbaumian captain, being in fact a bold and noble fisherman, and a shining example of the pinnacle of civilisation took some offence to this crude remark and called back 'Then we'll take both halves. Thanks!'
And with that, he fired his harpoon into the million-foot fish, only to discover it had swum away whilst the stupid Pesce had been shouting. So the Tanenbaums just had to go home and have lobster and wine at the feast of Dag. From that day on, Tanenbaums have never wasted time talking to Pesce when there was a fish to be killed. Doing so left you with nothing but tiny lobsters and sour grapes.
When he arrived, he found that the bakery had been burnt to the ground and was now home to naught but a few rats and two beggars, neither of whom knew where the boss could be located. So Gar decided to pay a visit to one of his co-workers.
Of those he knew the address of, one didn't like him and the other didn't hate him, so he chose the latter. She also lived on the far side of town, so Gar started walking briskly up the road. He hadn't slept all night and had skipped both breakfast this morning and dinner last night, so as he approached one of Sawbill's many diners, he decided he'd stop for a quick bite. Upon reaching the diner, however, he spotted a notice on the door reading 'Closed due to running out of lemon.' An odd reason to close a diner, but it was called 'The Fishly Lemon' so Gar supposed it was understandable.
The next diner he passed was open, but was an upper class joint that only served Tanenbaums. No Prawns allowed. Gar continued along the road wondering if his co-worker might invite him in for lunch if he showed up right at noon. More likely, she was at work, but he seemed to recall that she lived with her cousin, and he would be there. He'd heard her complain countless times about her lazy cousin Wartface. Somehow Gar doubted that was his real name, but that's how she had always referred to him. Gar would just avoid using any name. 'Hi' worked just as well as 'Hi, Wartface', and was much less likely to anger anyone.
Gar spotted another eatery, but decided to pass it up in hopes of getting a free meal from Wartface. Besides, the sooner he got word to the boss, the sooner...well...the sooner the better.
Finally he arrived at Barb and Wartface's door and knocked loudly. In swung the door and out stepped a man who looked impressively much like a warthog. They exchanged greetings and upon inquiry, Wartface (whose real name turned out to be Percival) expressed that the bakery had been moved to a provisional location near the sushi bar near the southern docs. Gar thanked him and left after it became clear what an invitation to lunch was not forthcoming.
Down by the docs, Gar found six sushi places and no bakery containing employees he recognised. Then he realised Percival/Wartface had said the /southern/ docs, so he left the northern waterfront and headed south, where he quickly found the only sushi bar in the area and a bakery filled with familiar faces.
One of the chefs said that the boss was out at the moment, so Gar joined a couple of the employees on an extended lunch break and discussed what had happened to the old bakery.
'It was Gill's fault' explained Barb. 'He was caryring stuff in from the delivery truck when one of the bags flour exploded from him just tossing it down on the counter to save two steps. A lot of it goes into the oven and fwoom! Half the kitchen lights up--someone had been cleaning it with alcohol, it seems--and Gill ignites along with the rest of it. Everyone else got out all right, but Gill gets fried.'
'So he's dead?' Gar asked.
'Well, no, just severely burned. He's on extended leave at the moment, but we're hoping it turns into permanent leave, seeing as he nearly killed us all. Where've you been, anyway? Slacking off?'
'Just away. Had some business I had to take care of, you know?'
A call from the front of the store rang out, 'Boss's coming!' Barb and the others quickly returned to work, and Gar got up to join them. Gar was sweeping up when the boss spotted him and headed over.
'I'm glad to see you're back. You were visiting your cousin, right? What's his name again?' Wink.
'Delmer, yeah, boss.'
'Delmer, right. Interesting name. Common down south, if you know what I mean.'
Gar nodded and went back to his sweeping while the boss and some of his associates headed into the side room for a conference of some sort.
Just then, a loud clamour arose out front of the bakery and a lime was thrown in the front door. Nearly everyone in the shop panicked and the boss appeared from his room to find everyone pressed up against the walls trying to get as far from the deadly fruit as possible. The boss looked at Gar and commented, 'Looks like your cousin's causing a ruckus.'
'A din.' commented the booming voice of the narrator.
'Whatever,' responded the boss. He walked over to the lime, and grabbing a towel, carefully picked it up and carried it out to the trash can out back. 'Back to work, everybody! Limes don't kill you. It's the poison they hide that does. We just got the lime, this time.'
Back to work they got, though for the rest of the day they pretty much all avoided the spot where hte lime had landed, even after Gar mopped the spot and sprinkled it with lemon juice.