Shelley was a young gentleman and as grown–up as he need ever expect to be. He was a poet; and they are never exactly grown–up. They are people who despise money except what you need for to–day, and he had all that and five pounds over. So, when he was walking in the Kensington Gardens, he made a paper boat of his bank–note, and sent it sailing on the Serpentine.
It reached the island at night: and the look–out brought it to Solomon Caw, who thought at first that it was the usual thing, a message from a lady, saying she would be obliged if he could let her have a good one. They always ask for the best one he has, and if he likes the letter he sends one from Class A, but if it ruffles him he sends very funny ones indeed. Sometimes he sends none at all, and at another time he sends a nestful; it all depends on the mood you catch him in. He likes you to leave it all to him, and if you mention particularly that you hope he will see his way to making it a boy this time, he is almost sure to send another girl. And whether you are a lady or only a little boy who wants a baby–sister, always take pains to write your address clearly. You can't think what a lot of babies Solomon has sent to the wrong house.
Shelley's boat, when opened, completely puzzled Solomon, and he took counsel of his assistants, who having walked over it twice, first with their toes pointed out, and then with their toes pointed in, decided that it came from some greedy person who wanted five. They thought this because there was a large five printed on it. "Preposterous!" cried Solomon in a rage, and he presented it to Peter; anything useless which drifted upon the island was usually given to Peter as a play–thing.