The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy
Little Follies
Life on the Bolotomy
Chapter 3: Guppa Plans a Bubble
by Eric Kraft, as Peter Leroy
Little Follies cover



In Babbington you will find one or two yards where passable craft are built, but you will find no relics of a once-proud boatbuilding industry, since the boatbuilding industry here has never been proud.  Boatbuilding in Babbington has since time immemorial been a haphazard affair.  If one needed a boat, one built one, and most of the boats used for clamming could have been built by almost anyone.
Boating on the Bolotomy

WITH MY MOUTH FULL of Gumma’s fricasseed chicken and dumplings, I announced, “Raskol and I are going to travel the whole length of the Bolotomy, by boat.”  My mother told me, as she often had before, not to talk with my mouth full, but Guppa had understood me through the chicken and dumpling just fine, and his eyes lit up at once.
    So much of the pleasure of any project comes from the planning.  I’ve passed many a happy hour at the little table on the lawn in front of the hotel here on Small’s Island drinking my coffee and smoking a few cigarettes, drawing plans for bookshelves, outlining fat books, marking maps for trips, compiling menus and guest lists for dinners.  I keep all these plans in labeled folders, arranged in file cabinets, lined in ranks in a room of their own on the third floor, and when I have the time, someday, I’ll get down to work on one of them, I guess, but I’ve already enjoyed them all.
    The planning of the boat that Raskol and I would use to journey up the Bolotomy was such an enormous pleasure that I didn’t feel right in keeping it to myself; I had to share it; I had to give some of the pleasure to the two people I knew would enjoy it most: Guppa and Big Grandfather.
    I told Guppa, through that mouthful of chicken and dumpling, one Sunday, when my parents and I had gone to visit Gumma and Guppa for dinner.  Those Sunday dinners at Gumma and Guppa’s were slow and luxurious affairs, with hours spent at the table and hours afterward spent sitting on the porch when the weather was warm or in front of the fire when it was cold.  Sometimes Mr. Beaker and Eliza would come over, and the affair would become a sedate party, with a continuous chatter as cozy and comfortable as the plump sofa Gumma sat on in front of the fire, drawing me to her when I sat beside her, snuggling me against her and rubbing my back until I began to doze.
    Guppa could hardly contain himself.  He put his fork down and looked as if he would start giggling.  “I know just the thing,” he said.  He jumped up from the table and struck the paneled wall behind him with the flat of his hand.  One panel swung open, revealing floor-to-ceiling bookcases that held all of Guppa’s copies of Impractical Craftsman, a monthly magazine chock full of plans for single-seater folding airplanes, concealed bookcases, inflatable rubber garages, and the like.  He stood up on his toes and ran his finger along the spines.  In a moment he had found the issue he wanted, and it took him only another moment to find the page he wanted.  “Just the ticket!” he announced, beaming.  He spread the magazine in front of me, opened at instructions for building an “Adventurer’s Bubble” from materials found around the home, scrounged from dumps, or ordered by mail from large industrial supply houses.  The Adventurer’s Bubble was a sphere within which the adventurer hung in a sling as in a breeches buoy.  The sling was suspended from an axle that ran along a diameter of the sphere.  The adventurer’s feet rested on the inside of the sphere itself, and by walking he or she propelled the sphere.  The axle was made of hollow tubing and served as an inlet for fresh air, but the sphere was otherwise entirely enclosed, so the adventurer could travel in it over virtually any terrain, including, of course, water.
    Guppa sat down again, smiling, the skin around his eyes crinkling.
    “Now, Herb—” cautioned Gumma.
    “Oh, now, Lorna,” began Guppa, his smile fading a bit and a whine coming into his voice, the whine of a boy who’s been told that he must not, absolutely must not go into the water so soon after eating.
    Gumma smiled indulgently.  “He’s just like a little boy,” she said to Mr. Beaker and Eliza.  To Guppa she said, “Very well, but you must finish converting the Studebaker into a vacation trailer before you start on this.”
    “I promise,” he said.  “I’ll finish that right up and then Peter and I can start in on this.”

  Little Follies Dust Jacket

Candi Lee Manning and Alec "Nick" Rafter
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Little Follies is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.

“My Mother Takes a Tumble,” “Do Clams Bite?,” “Life on the Bolotomy,” “The Static of the Spheres,” “The Fox and the Clam,” “The Girl with the White Fur Muff,” “Take the Long Way Home,” and “Call Me Larry” were originally published in paperback by Apple-Wood Books.

Little Follies was first published in hardcover by Crown Publishers, Inc., 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022. Member of the Crown Publishing Group.


For information about publication rights outside the U. S. A., audio rights, serial rights, screen rights, and so on, e-mail the author’s imaginary agent, Alec “Nick” Rafter.

The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.

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