The 5-Cent Restaurants


Found at /r/historyporn, posted by /u/onlysame1

A wonderful explanation and sources were provided by /u/my_interests:

tl;dr: This wasn’t just an ordinary restaurant, it was was part of a charity to provide the poor and unemployed with hot meals. The meals were subsidized by the donations to the charity. They served many thousands of meals per day.

The People’s Restaurants were conceived of and operated by a charitable organization[1], the Industrial Christian Alliance, in 1893 to help feed the poor and the unemployed. J.P. Morgan[2] himself sat on the Board of Directors of the organization.

To eat at a Five-Cent restaurant, one needed a nickel or a meal ticket, which could be provided for free[3] (PDF), or purchased at People’s Restaurant headquarters (100 tickets for $5) often purchased by good Samaritans and churches to give away to the less fortunate. The restaurants had a capacity to serve 1,000 – 2,000 meals per day and were open from 7am to midnight.

The Peoples Restaurant started with a single lodging house and restaurant at 170 Bleeker Street[4] (which is now a Mexican restaurant[5]) and expanded eventually joining with other organizations[6] such as the Merchants’ General Committee to help grow and open additional restaurants and grocery stores.

By December 1894 they had grown and had the capacity to provide 25,000 meals per day[7]  According to this New York Times article[8] (PDF) from January 26, 1894 on average the restaurant was serving 1,000 – 1,300 meals per day and increasing.

Though they did much good, it wasn’t without controversy[9]. The 5-cent restaurants were popular and received a lot of press coverage. Other charities claimed that people from outside of New York City, hearing about how well the poor are taken care of, began to come to New York City to live.

According to this source[10], in total nine People’s Five-Cent Restaurants were opened in various parts of New York City, though these were the only confirmed addresses I could find.


These restaurants remind me of the Viennese W.O.K establishments, about which I have written previously.
The Old Wolf has Spoken.


Albanian hatmakers in Shkodër, 1900-1920

Albanian Hatmakers

Hatmakers in Skhodër, Albania, 1900-1920. Photo by Kel or Pietro Marubi. Posted by /u/RMSEP at /r/historyporn.

Albania has a long, interesting and tortured history. I have a particular interest in the country, having visited there a number of times over the course of my career, and having gotten to know more than a few Albanians.

My interest in this small but intriguing Adriatic country was first piqued when I read “Albania, Alone Against the World,” an article in the October, 1980 issue of National Geographic. This was before the fall of the Iron Curtain (which, sadly, shows some signs of being raised again, given recent developments in Ukraine, but that’s another story) but Albania’s story seemed to stand out among that of other Communist countries – and at that time, North Korea was not as much in the news as it is today.

The article was written by Mehmet Biber, a Turkish photographer who was based in Istanbul, and is the product of his own visit and notes from that of a visit by Sami Kohen, another Istanbul resident. It contains some captivating photos of what life was like under the iron-fisted rule of Enver-Hoxha, the fiercely independent, brutal, and Stalinist leader of Albania from it’s liberation from the Nazis in 1944 until his death in 1985. From Wikipedia:

The 40-year period of Hoxha’s rule was politically characterized by the elimination of the opposition, prolific use of the death penalty or long prison terms of his political opponents and evictions from homes where their families lived and their internment in remote villages that were strictly controlled by police and the secret police (Sigurimi). His rule was also characterized by Stalinist methods to destroy his associates who threatened his own power.


This photo from Biber’s article shows the town of Shkodër in 1980. The banner says, “Let us fulfill all our obligations and smash the blockade.” Of course, there was no blockade, and no interest in punishing or otherwise invading Albania, but Hoxha’s paranoia knew no bounds. He wasted his country’s resources on numberless bunkers, supposedly to protect the fantastic wealth and ideology of his impoverished nation from the evil hordes, both Communist and Capitalist, who would overrun Albania like wolves.


Gjirokastër, the hometown of Hoxha. The banner encourages residents to “Study the Works of Comrade Enver Hoxha.” Photo: Mehmet Biber

Then came the fall of communism, and Albania was subject to changes that shook the nation to the core. A country that had almost nothing in the way of free enterprise and commerce (centrally-planned economy) was instantaneously and disastrously changed into a market economy. On the upside, goods and services that had never been available were suddenly popping up like mushrooms; on the downside, corruption and crime exploded.

Private car ownership was reinstated and businesses re-established. However poor city lighting and road quality became major problems as mud, potholes, street floods, and dust became permanent features on the streets. However, all buildings and apartments were denationalized, second-hand buses introduced, and modern water, telephone, and electrical systems built during 1992–1996 which form the backbone of modern Tirana. Enver Hoxha’s Museum (Pyramid) was dismantled in 1991 and renamed in honor of persecuted activist Pjeter Arbnori. (Wikipedia:Albania)


A bus in Tiranë, loaded almost past the breaking point, in 1992. Photo: Nicole Bengiveno, published in National Geographic, “Albania Opens the Door” by Dusko Doder, July 1992. This article gives a good overview of the change that hit Albania like a 16-ton weight.

As I visited Albania over the course of several years from 1993 to 2000, I watched Tirana’s central park area and the banks of the Lena river (among others) become choked with illegal and dangerously-constructed buildings. People simply squatted on public land, built what they want in whatever way seemed good, and regulation was nowhere to be seen. Grease the palms of officials and police to look the other way, and presto, a new business was born. In 2000, efforts were made by Edi Rama, a former Tirana mayor, to demolish illegal buildings to return the area to its pre-1990 state, but public land continues to be under pressure from illegal construction, and there is no clear outlook or direction for Tirana’s future at the current time.


Illegal construction on the Lana River in 2003


A similar scene, post-reconstruction

Devastatingly for much of the Albanian population, the financial shakeup of 1996-1997 included many Ponzi schemes, invested in by around 2/3 of the population; most of their investment was totally lost, and the resulting social upheaval was catastrophic. While things continue to improve slowly, it will take Albania generations to overcome residual problems in government and society.


The Pyramid of Tiranë, slated to be Hoxha’s mausoleum, then a museum, then a convention center, now a crumbling, defaced eyesore and the subject of debate – preserve or demolish?

I would love to be able to get back to Albania, which is now wide-open to tourism, although there are parts of the country where even the authorities don’t like to go, run by clans that would make the Hatfields and the McCoys look like the Sesame Street crowd. That said, the country has much to offer in the way of natural beauty and culture, and I wish them nothing but good as they shoulder their way into the future.


The beautiful town of Theth in Northern Albania – found at The Rom Rom.

The Old Wolf has spoken.




“Mega Millions” scam from Jamaica

beware_of_876_jamaica-scammers (1)

Had a call today from “Mega Millions Corporation” about a “coupon” that I had filled out at one of my “local convenient grocery stores,” supposedly “last March.” I was told that I had won a bank check for $1.6 million dollars, and a beautiful, luxurious Mercedes-Benz valued at over $125,000.00. Of course, there were taxes to be paid… but thanks to a “special offer,” those would only be $399.00, payable with a Green Dot money card. I’ve got a phone number to call back (1-876-856-8974) when I have that card in my possession, so I can take delivery of all these fantastic prizes.

I kept the drone on the phone for as long as I could… I wasted about 20 minutes of his time, scorched his eardrums with some choice insults, and hung up. I may call the number back later on the drive home, just to see if I can yank their chains some more. The guy’s accent sounded very Indian Subcontinent, with a hint of Nigeria thrown in. Sheesh. Some people’s children.

This is a good example of the Jamaica 876 scam. Another good website about this scam is here. These phone calls originate from Jamaica, even though they look like they are coming from toll-free numbers. Unless you know exactly whom you are calling, stay away from calls that come from area code 876. These calls, like the UK 40 70 prefix, can be routed to other countries, so you have no idea where these scumbags are hiding (beside under slimy rocks, naturally.)

Of course, the basic rules always apply: Never pay money to collect a prize of any sort. If people want you to wire money or use some sort of money card or ask for your private financial information, you are being scammed.

Be careful out there, folks. 

Relentless Spammers

These people don’t give up. Despite my sending them the vilest possible insults in Chinese, along with demands that they cease and desist, I get one of their spam messages almost every week.

From: “Kevin” <>
To: Everybody in the whole flipping world

Subject: [SPAM] Photo Retouching Services – Photo Cut Out


We are one of the best digital images retouching team located in China. We provide all kinds of image editing solutions to different companies all over the world.
We Specialize in:
. Cut out/masking, clipping path, deep etching, transparent background
. Beauty retouching, skin retouching, face retouching, body retouching
. Colour correction, black and white, light and shadows etc.
. Dust cleaning, spot cleaning
. Fashion/Beauty Image Retouching
. Restoration and repair old images
. Product image Retouching
. Jewellery image Retouching
. Real estate image Retouching
. Vector Conversion
. Wedding & Event Album Design.
. Portrait image Retouching
We Offer Best Quality; Best Service and the Most Competitive prices.
Every day we process and manipulate large volumes of images from U.S.A and Europe. So you will be in good hands when it comes to quality, service and the most competitive prices.
Waiting for your images for the free trial so that you can judge our quality of work yourself.
We are waiting for your reply.
Thanks & Regards,
Kanucssa Imaging Professionals
Contact: <redacted>

Just remember:

Rule #1: Spammers/Scammers Lie.
Rule #2: If a spammer seems to be telling the truth, see Rule #1.

Do NOT do business with these bottom-feeders.

(For more discussion about the nature of spammers, visit this thread at

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Why is it so hard to store energy?

Entropy cartoon lg

Good question; and here’s a lovely answer by a redditor, /u/api.

The second law of thermodynamics, which basically says that energy is determinedly lazy. It would much rather dissipate itself as heat and go play with all the other free energy. Yay!

Take solar for example. When sunlight strikes the Earth you get heat and very little work, maybe moving some air around. Damn lazy energy. Picture it this way. Imagine a bunch of rocks sitting around on a flat desert playa. The sunlight striking them provides enough power to move them around. But it doesn’t happen. Despite how cool it would be if rocks ran around on their own, all that energy would rather just goof off. That’s the second law in a nutshell. It’s why most of the universe is boring.

Life disagrees, which places life — including ourselves and our extended phenotype of gadgetry — at stubborn odds to the second law. Living systems are nature’s slave drivers, grabbing free energy and trying to coax it into doing work with all kinds of contraptions like chlorophyll and PV cells and wind turbines. The definition of work is more or less “something statistically unlikely to happen by chance.”

Storing energy is hard for the same basic reason as catching it.

Let’s say you put out a PV panel. There’s a wire dangling from it. Stick it to your tongue. Ouch! Ok, no, don’t do that, most large PV panels produce about 200W and you’ll talk funny for a while. But the point is you’ve managed to catch some energy there, and to force it down a wire as a nice, neat, low entropy single file line of electrons. Now what?

You could use it right then and there, which is your most efficient option. You’ve already got it after all. But unfortunately you might want to watch porngoof off on Reddit write your great work of literature while the sun is down.

To store energy you’ve got to take energy and use it to coax some material substrate into doing something statical-mechanically very unlikely. How likely is it for megatons of water to spontaneously flow uphill? Not very. How about all the ions in a lithium cell spontaneously migrating to the same side of a gradient? Every rechargeable battery is basically Maxwell’s Demon:

Think of it as herding cats at the molecular or quantum scale. You’ve got to grab every little molecule or atom or ion and say “you! go there!” All this cat herding gives ample opportunity for more of your precious energy (it’s lazy, remember?) to slip the yoke and migrate off as heat. Feel your battery while it charges. It gets warm.

We don’t love fossil fuels because they give us energy. Free energy falls from the sky, and while it’s hard to grab there’s quite a bit of it around. Do the math on how much solar energy falls on a square mile in a day and how much gasoline that translates into. It’s a lot. We love fossil fuels because they give us energy already stored in a very low entropy form that allows us to release it on demand. Too bad we don’t have an infinite supply of the stuff. We’ve gotten pretty good at using energy when we have it. Now we have to get good at storing it before we run out of carbon goop.

That and/or we have to figure out how to unlock the power stored in the atom without the problem of the power plants occasionally blowing up. Atomic energy is fossil fuel too, but it’s fossil fuel left over from cosmic events like supernovae and contains enough stored energy to power our little civilization for a very long time.

I recommend perusing the rest of the thread – there’s a lot of discussion on ancillary questions such as the prices/benefits of nuclear power.

We just need to keep working on the question. Fossil fuels are limited and filthy, and some day we’re either going to run completely out or have a nest so fouled that no one can live here.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

How the Other Half Lives

I was just made aware of a marvelous website, It’s not completely up-to-date, some of the image links are broken, but it’s got some amazing stuff to peruse.


This picture, entitled, “Vegetable Stand in The Bend” comes from a seminal work by Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York published in 1890. Complete text and images are available here. I’m certain my New York colleagues will appreciate this; it describes conditions among the tenements of New York ten years before my grandparents arrived here from Italy, and conditions must have been largely the same when they came. It helps me make the history of my own family come just a little closer. The entire web site is a sinkhole for time, but I’m not sorry.

Note the bank behind the vegetable stand; in an article found in The New York Supplement in 1908, one can assume that the bank was at this point in time not long for the world. From Gateway to the Promised Land: Ethnic Cultures on New York’s Lower East Side By Mario Maffi, published in 1994. (Click through for the full text with references and much more intriguing New York history)

Italian banks (the Banca Termini, The Banca Caponigri, the Banca Barsotti, and many others on Mulberry Street) were a focal point for the community. In metropolitan New York alone, there were some 400 of them by 1900, all chartered, and perhaps many without charter. The rule for opening a bank was, ‘the more crowded the street on which the bank is, the better for the banker; better yet, the more crowded is the block where the bank has its habitat; best of all, the more crowded with paesani [townsmen] the tenement in which operates the banker.’ Often ‘attached to a saloon, grocery store, or cigar store – sometimes to a cobbler shop,’ or simply a corner in ‘the general merchandise store, where spaghetti and Italian cheese were on display,’ the bank provided important services to the neighborhood. It kept deposits, sent money home, functioned as an informal post office and travel agency, was a meeting place for friends and unemployed. The business transaction was a friendly affair between fellow countrymen and receipts were rarely used. But unscrupulous “bankers” were many, and not infrequently such “friendly affairs” ended tragically for the immigrant.

It is to be assumed from the address that Banca P. Caponigri was at 55½ Mulberry Street – that side of the block has now been replaced by a park.

Mulberry Street

The images in this treatise are haunting and unsettling. Despite all the things that are still wrong with our nation, it’s obvious that progress in raising the condition of our urban dwellers has made progress,with the obvious understanding that we still have far to go.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Going Medieval on Lord of the Rings


No, it’s not The Last Supper – it’s the Council of Elrond. A friend of mine over at Facebook made me aware of the 100-gigaton-whoopass illustrations in a Tumblr post by egelantier, who explains that these illustrations by Sergey Yuhimov adorned her childhood Russian edition of Lord of the rings.

Have a look at this representation of Gandalf’s confrontation with the balrog on the bridge of Khazad-Dûm:

Khazâd Dum

For a look at a three-part post with many more illustrations, hop over to Tumblr. These are astounding. I have not had much success finding out more information about Yuhimov on the net, but I’d love to see more of his work.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Magic Fishbone

I first encountered this story in a general collection of children’s literature.  I loved the delicious language and the whimsical nature of the storytelling, the absurd names and the illogical non-sequiturs. Only after I had read it to my kids a number of times did I realize who the author was: the illustrious Charles Dickens, and then everything made a lot more sense. It originally appeared as Part II of a work called Holiday Romance. [1] The Good Fairy Grandmarina has long been one of my favorite characters – for no-nonsense, she puts Mary Poppins to shame.

So without further ado, I present you the full text of “The Magic Fishbone.” Have no pity for the dreadful little snapping pug-dog next door – Dickens certainly didn’t.

THERE was once a king, and he had a queen; and he was the manliest of his sex, and she was the loveliest of hers. The king was, in his private profession, under government. The queen’s father had been a medical man out of town.

They had nineteen children, and were always having more. Seventeen of these children took care of the baby; and Alicia, the eldest, took care of them all. Their ages varied from seven years to seven months.

Let us now resume our story.

One day the king was going to the office, when he stopped at the fishmonger’s to buy a pound and a half of salmon not too near the tail, which the queen (who was a careful housekeeper) had requested him to send home. Mr. Pickles, the fishmonger, said, ‘Certainly, sir; is there any other article? Good-morning.’

The king went on towards the office in a melancholy mood; for quarter-day was such a long way off, and several of the dear children were growing out of their clothes. He had not proceeded far, when Mr. Pickles’s errand-boy came running after him, and said, ‘Sir, you didn’t notice the old lady in our shop.’

‘What old lady?’ inquired the king. ‘I saw none.’

Now the king had not seen any old lady, because this old lady had been invisible to him, though visible to Mr. Pickles’s boy. Probably because he messed and splashed the water about to that degree, and flopped the pairs of soles down in that violent manner, that, if she had not been visible to him, he would have spoilt her clothes.

Just then the old lady came trotting up. She was dressed in shot-silk of the richest quality, smelling of dried lavender.

‘King Watkins the First, I believe?’ said the old lady.


‘Watkins,’ replied the king, ‘is my name.’

‘Papa, if I am not mistaken, of the beautiful Princess Alicia?’ said the old lady.

‘And of eighteen other darlings,’ replied the king.

‘Listen. You are going to the office,’ said the old lady.

It instantly flashed upon the king that she must be a fairy, or how could she know that?

‘You are right,’ said the old lady, answering his thoughts. ‘I am the good Fairy Grandmarina. Attend! When you return home to dinner, politely invite the Princess Alicia to have some of the salmon you bought just now.’

‘It may disagree with her,’ said the king.

The old lady became so very angry at this absurd idea, that the king was quite alarmed, and humbly begged her pardon.

‘We hear a great deal too much about this thing disagreeing, and that thing disagreeing,’ said the old lady, with the greatest contempt it was possible to express. ‘Don’t be greedy. I think you want it all yourself.’

The king hung his head under this reproof, and said he wouldn’t talk about things disagreeing any more.

‘Be good, then,’ said the Fairy Grandmarina, ‘and don’t. When the beautiful Princess Alicia consents to partake of the salmon, – as I think she will, – you will find she will leave a fish-bone on her plate. Tell her to dry it, and to rub it, and to polish it till it shines like mother-of-pearl, and to take care of it as a present from me.’

‘Is that all?’ asked the king.

‘Don’t be impatient, sir,’ returned the Fairy Grandmarina, scolding him severely. ‘Don’t catch people short, before they have done speaking. Just the way with you grown-up persons. You are always doing it.’

The king again hung his head, and said he wouldn’t do so any more.

‘Be good, then,’ said the Fairy Grandmarina, ‘and don’t! Tell the Princess Alicia, with my love, that the fish-bone is a magic present which can only be used once; but that it will bring her, that once, whatever she wishes for, PROVIDED SHE WISHES FOR IT AT THE RIGHT TIME. That is the message. Take care of it.’

The king was beginning, ‘Might I ask the reason?’ when the fairy became absolutely furious.

‘WILL you be good, sir?’ she exclaimed, stamping her foot on the ground. ‘The reason for this, and the reason for that, indeed! You are always wanting the reason. No reason. There! Hoity toity me! I am sick of your grown-up reasons.’

The king was extremely frightened by the old lady’s flying into such a passion, and said he was very sorry to have offended her, and he wouldn’t ask for reasons any more.

‘Be good, then,’ said the old lady, ‘and don’t!’

With those words, Grandmarina vanished, and the king went on and on and on, till he came to the office. There he wrote and wrote and wrote, till it was time to go home again. Then he politely invited the Princess Alicia, as the fairy had directed him, to partake of the salmon. And when she had enjoyed it very much, he saw the fish-bone on her plate, as the fairy had told him he would, and he delivered the fairy’s message, and the Princess Alicia took care to dry the bone, and to rub it, and to polish it, till it shone like mother-of-pearl.

And so, when the queen was going to get up in the morning, she said, ‘O, dear me, dear me; my head, my head!’ and then she fainted away.

The Princess Alicia, who happened to be looking in at the chamber-door, asking about breakfast, was very much alarmed when she saw her royal mamma in this state, and she rang the bell for Peggy, which was the name of the lord chamberlain. But remembering where the smelling-bottle was, she climbed on a chair and got it; and after that she climbed on another chair by the bedside, and held the smelling-bottle to the queen’s nose; and after that she jumped down and got some water; and after that she jumped up again and wetted the queen’s forehead; and, in short, when the lord chamberlain came in, that dear old woman said to the little princess, ‘What a trot you are! I couldn’t have done it better myself!’

But that was not the worst of the good queen’s illness. O, no! She was very ill indeed, for a long time. The Princess Alicia kept the seventeen young princes and princesses quiet, and dressed and undressed and danced the baby, and made the kettle boil, and heated the soup, and swept the hearth, and poured out the medicine, and nursed the queen, and did all that ever she could, and was as busy, busy, busy as busy could be; for there were not many servants at that palace for three reasons: because the king was short of money, because a rise in his office never seemed to come, and because quarter-day was so far off that it looked almost as far off and as little as one of the stars.

But on the morning when the queen fainted away, where was the magic fish-bone? Why, there it was in the Princess Alicia’s pocket! She had almost taken it out to bring the queen to life again, when she put it back, and looked for the smelling-bottle.

After the queen had come out of her swoon that morning, and was dozing, the Princess Alicia hurried up-stairs to tell a most particular secret to a most particularly confidential friend of hers, who was a duchess. People did suppose her to be a doll; but she was really a duchess, though nobody knew it except the princess.

This most particular secret was the secret about the magic fish-bone, the history of which was well known to the duchess, because the princess told her everything. The princess kneeled down by the bed on which the duchess was lying, full-dressed and wide awake, and whispered the secret to her. The duchess smiled and nodded. People might have supposed that she never smiled and nodded; but she often did, though nobody knew it except the princess.

Then the Princess Alicia hurried down-stairs again, to keep watch in the queen’s room. She often kept watch by herself in the queen’s room; but every evening, while the illness lasted, she sat there watching with the king. And every evening the king sat looking at her with a cross look, wondering why she never brought out the magic fish-bone. As often as she noticed this, she ran upstairs, whispered the secret to the duchess over again, and said to the duchess besides, ‘They think we children never have a reason or a meaning!’ And the duchess, though the most fashionable duchess that ever was heard of, winked her eye.

‘Alicia,’ said the king, one evening, when she wished him good-night. ‘Yes, papa.’

‘What is become of the magic fish-bone?’

‘In my pocket, papa!’

‘I thought you had lost it?’

‘O, no, papa!’

‘Or forgotten it?’

‘No, indeed, papa.’

And so another time the dreadful little snapping pug-dog, next door, made a rush at one of the young princes as he stood on the steps coming home from school, and terrified him out of his wits; and he put his hand through a pane of glass, and bled, bled, bled. When the seventeen other young princes and princesses saw him bleed, bleed, bleed, they were terrified out of their wits too, and screamed themselves black in their seventeen faces all at once. But the Princess Alicia put her hands over all their seventeen mouths, one after another, and persuaded them to be quiet because of the sick queen. And then she put the wounded prince’s hand in a basin of fresh cold water, while they stared with their twice seventeen are thirty-four, put down four and carry three, eyes, and then she looked in the hand for bits of glass, and there were fortunately no bits of glass there. And then she said to two chubby-legged princes, who were sturdy though small, ‘Bring me in the royal rag-bag: I must snip and stitch and cut and contrive.’ So these two young princes tugged at the royal rag-bag, and lugged it in; and the Princess Alicia sat down on the floor, with a large pair of scissors and a needle and thread, and snipped and stitched and cut and contrived, and made a bandage, and put it on, and it fitted beautifully; and so when it was all done, she saw the king her papa looking on by the door.


‘Yes, papa.’

‘What have you been doing?’

‘Snipping, stitching, cutting, and contriving, papa.’

‘Where is the magic fish-bone?’

‘In my pocket, papa.’

‘I thought you had lost it?’

‘O, no, papa.’

‘Or forgotten it?’

‘No, indeed, papa.’

After that, she ran up-stairs to the duchess, and told her what had passed, and told her the secret over again; and the duchess shook her flaxen curls, and laughed with her rosy lips.

Well! and so another time the baby fell under the grate. The seventeen young princes and princesses were used to it; for they were almost always falling under the grate or down the stairs; but the baby was not used to it yet, and it gave him a swelled face and a black eye. The way the poor little darling came to tumble was, that he was out of the Princess Alicia’s lap just as she was sitting, in a great coarse apron that quite smothered her, in front of the kitchen-fire, beginning to peel the turnips for the broth for dinner; and the way she came to be doing that was, that the king’s cook had run away that morning with her own true love, who was a very tall but very tipsy soldier. Then the seventeen young princes and princesses, who cried at everything that happened, cried and roared. But the Princess Alicia (who couldn’t help crying a little herself) quietly called to them to be still, on account of not throwing back the queen up-stairs, who was fast getting well, and said, ‘Hold your tongues, you wicked little monkeys, every one of you, while I examine baby!’ Then she examined baby, and found that he hadn’t broken anything; and she held cold iron to his poor dear eye, and smoothed his poor dear face, and he presently fell asleep in her arms. Then she said to the seventeen princes and princesses, ‘I am afraid to let him down yet, lest he should wake and feel pain; be good, and you shall all be cooks.’ They jumped for joy when they heard that, and began making themselves cooks’ caps out of old newspapers. So to one she gave the salt-box, and to one she gave the barley, and to one she gave the herbs, and to one she gave the turnips, and to one she gave the carrots, and to one she gave the onions, and to one she gave the spice-box, till they were all cooks, and all running about at work, she sitting in the middle, smothered in the great coarse apron, nursing baby. By and by the broth was done; and the baby woke up, smiling, like an angel, and was trusted to the sedatest princess to hold, while the other princes and princesses were squeezed into a far-off corner to look at the Princess Alicia turning out the saucepanful of broth, for fear (as they were always getting into trouble) they should get splashed and scalded. When the broth came tumbling out, steaming beautifully, and smelling like a nosegay good to eat, they clapped their hands. That made the baby clap his hands; and that, and his looking as if he had a comic toothache, made all the princes and princesses laugh. So the Princess Alicia said, ‘Laugh and be good; and after dinner we will make him a nest on the floor in a corner, and he shall sit in his nest and see a dance of eighteen cooks.’ That delighted the young princes and princesses, and they ate up all the broth, and washed up all the plates and dishes, and cleared away, and pushed the table into a corner; and then they in their cooks’ caps, and the Princess Alicia in the smothering coarse apron that belonged to the cook that had run away with her own true love that was the very tall but very tipsy soldier, danced a dance of eighteen cooks before the angelic baby, who forgot his swelled face and his black eye, and crowed with joy.

And so then, once more the Princess Alicia saw King Watkins the First, her father, standing in the doorway looking on, and he said, ‘What have you been doing, Alicia?’

‘Cooking and contriving, papa.’

‘What else have you been doing, Alicia?’

‘Keeping the children light-hearted, papa.’

‘Where is the magic fish-bone, Alicia?

‘In my pocket, papa.’

‘I thought you had lost it?’

‘O, no, papa!’

‘Or forgotten it?’

‘No, indeed, papa.’

The king then sighed so heavily, and seemed so low-spirited, and sat down so miserably, leaning his head upon his hand, and his elbow upon the kitchen-table pushed away in the corner, that the seventeen princes and princesses crept softly out of the kitchen, and left him alone with the Princess Alicia and the angelic baby.

‘What is the matter, papa?’

‘I am dreadfully poor, my child.’

‘Have you no money at all, papa?’

‘None, my child.’

‘Is there no way of getting any, papa?’

‘No way,’ said the king. ‘I have tried very hard, and I have tried all ways.’

When she heard those last words, the Princess Alicia began to put her hand into the pocket where she kept the magic fish-bone.

‘Papa,’ said she, ‘when we have tried very hard, and tried all ways, we must have done our very, very best?’

‘No doubt, Alicia.’

‘When we have done our very, very best, papa, and that is not enough, then I think the right time must have come for asking help of others.’ This was the very secret connected with the magic fish-bone, which she had found out for herself from the good Fairy Grandmarina’s words, and which she had so often whispered to her beautiful and fashionable friend, the duchess.

So she took out of her pocket the magic fish-bone, that had been dried and rubbed and polished till it shone like mother-of-pearl; and she gave it one little kiss, and wished it was quarter-day. And immediately it WAS quarter-day; and the king’s quarter’s salary came rattling down the chimney, and bounced into the middle of the floor.

But this was not half of what happened, – no, not a quarter; for immediately afterwards the good Fairy Grandmarina came riding in, in a carriage and four (peacocks), with Mr. Pickles’s boy up behind, dressed in silver and gold, with a cocked-hat, powdered-hair, pink silk stockings, a jewelled cane, and a nosegay. Down jumped Mr. Pickles’s boy, with his cocked-hat in his hand, and wonderfully polite (being entirely changed by enchantment), and handed Grandmarina out; and there she stood, in her rich shot-silk smelling of dried lavender, fanning herself with a sparkling fan.

‘Alicia, my dear,’ said this charming old fairy, ‘how do you do? I hope I see you pretty well? Give me a kiss.’

The Princess Alicia embraced her; and then Grandmarina turned to the king, and said rather sharply, ‘Are you good?’ The king said he hoped so.

‘I suppose you know the reason NOW, why my god-daughter here,’ kissing the princess again, ‘did not apply to the fish-bone sooner?’ said the fairy.

The king made a shy bow.

‘Ah! but you didn’t THEN?’ said the fairy.

The king made a shyer bow.

‘Any more reasons to ask for?’ said the fairy.

The king said, No, and he was very sorry.

‘Be good, then,’ said the fairy, ‘and live happy ever afterwards.’

Then Grandmarina waved her fan, and the queen came in most splendidly dressed; and the seventeen young princes and princesses, no longer grown out of their clothes, came in, newly fitted out from top to toe, with tucks in everything to admit of its being let out. After that, the fairy tapped the Princess Alicia with her fan; and the smothering coarse apron flew away, and she appeared exquisitely dressed, like a little bride, with a wreath of orange-flowers and a silver veil. After that, the kitchen dresser changed of itself into a wardrobe, made of beautiful woods and gold and looking glass, which was full of dresses of all sorts, all for her and all exactly fitting her. After that, the angelic baby came in, running alone, with his face and eye not a bit the worse, but much the better. Then Grandmarina begged to be introduced to the duchess; and, when the duchess was brought down, many compliments passed between them.

A little whispering took place between the fairy and the duchess; and then the fairy said out loud, ‘Yes, I thought she would have told you.’ Grandmarina then turned to the king and queen, and said, ‘We are going in search of Prince Certainpersonio. The pleasure of your company is requested at church in half an hour precisely.’ So she and the Princess Alicia got into the carriage; and Mr. Pickles’s boy handed in the duchess, who sat by herself on the opposite seat; and then Mr. Pickles’s boy put up the steps and got up behind, and the peacocks flew away with their tails behind.

Prince Certainpersonio was sitting by himself, eating barley-sugar, and waiting to be ninety. [2] When he saw the peacocks, followed by the carriage, coming in at the window it immediately occurred to him that something uncommon was going to happen.

‘Prince,’ said Grandmarina, ‘I bring you your bride.’ The moment the fairy said those words, Prince Certainpersonio’s face left off being sticky, and his jacket and corduroys changed to peach-bloom velvet, and his hair curled, and a cap and feather flew in like a bird and settled on his head. He got into the carriage by the fairy’s invitation; and there he renewed his acquaintance with the duchess, whom he had seen before.

In the church were the prince’s relations and friends, and the Princess Alicia’s relations and friends, and the seventeen princes and princesses, and the baby, and a crowd of the neighbours. The marriage was beautiful beyond expression. The duchess was bridesmaid, and beheld the ceremony from the pulpit, where she was supported by the cushion of the desk.

Grandmarina gave a magnificent wedding-feast afterwards, in which there was everything and more to eat, and everything and more to drink. The wedding-cake was delicately ornamented with white satin ribbons, frosted silver, and white lilies, and was forty-two yards round.

When Grandmarina had drunk her love to the young couple, and Prince Certainpersonio had made a speech, and everybody had cried, Hip, hip, hip, hurrah! Grandmarina announced to the king and queen that in future there would be eight quarter-days in every year, except in leap-year, when there would be ten. She then turned to Certainpersonio and Alicia, and said, ‘My dears, you will have thirty-five children, and they will all be good and beautiful. Seventeen of your children will be boys, and eighteen will be girls. The hair of the whole of your children will curl naturally. They will never have the measles, and will have recovered from the whooping-cough before being born.’

On hearing such good news, everybody cried out ‘Hip, hip, hip, hurrah!’ again.

‘It only remains,’ said Grandmarina in conclusion, ‘to make an end of the fish-bone.’

So she took it from the hand of the Princess Alicia, and it instantly flew down the throat of the dreadful little snapping pug-dog, next door, and choked him, and he expired in convulsions.

The Old Wolf has spoken. No reason. There! Hoity toity me! I am sick of your grown-up reasons.’

[1] I, however, first encountered the story in a volume of Best in Children’s Books; the delightful illustrations for the story, of which I have included one, are by Robin Jacques.
[2] I know of few authors beside Dickens who could come up with a sentence like this and make it work in a story.