Chapter 23 Summary
To celebrate the anniversary, the father announces a sports carnival, a grand display of athleticism. He and his wife will be both spectators and judges and will offer prizes for each competition. The events include shooting, running, riding, leaping, climbing, and swimming.
The first event is shooting. The father has set up a target, a board in the shape of a kangaroo. Three boys are enrolled, Fritz, Ernest, and Jack. The first target is stationary, and Fritz proves to be the best shot. When the father creates a moving target by throwing a smaller piece of wood into the air, Ernest is the winner. After shooting comes archery, at which even little Franz proves quite skilled.
After a short break, the boys test their running abilities. The three older boys are told the running track is the trail to Falconhurst. The first boy is to go into the house and retrieve their father's penknife on the dining table. The knife is proof of the winner. Jack returns first, although he is not on foot but riding his buffalo. He tells his parents that upon seeing that he had no chance to win the race, he hurried back to Tentholm to be there when the real winner crossed the bridge. The winner, as the family sees a few minutes later, is Ernest, who hands the penknife to his father.
Jack proves the most agile as the boys enter into the next event, climbing the tallest palm trees. All reach the tops of their trees, but Jack is the most graceful. After climbing comes riding, during which Fritz and Jack demonstrate their ease on the backs of their animals. The father is surprised when he sees Franz, the youngest, come forward with his young bull calf. Franz shows off the training he has accomplished and finishes by climbing onto the animal's back and trotting in front of the family.
The sports festival ends with a swimming match, which the boys find very refreshing after having spent the day in hot competition. Fritz shows himself to be a master.
For prizes, Fritz, the oldest, receives a double-barreled rifle and a hunting knife for his efforts in shooting. Ernest, who won the running match, is given a gold watch. For climbing and riding, Jack receives a pair of silver-plated spurs and a riding whip. The youngest, Franz, is given a pair of stirrups and a bull trainer whip.