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The Best of Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, Number 1, 1954, page 29.
©Walt Disney Productions
"The Ghost of the Grotto"
Publisher: K. K. Publications, Inc.
Writer: Carl Barks
Artist: Carl Barks
Colorist: ??
Inker: ??
Letterer: ??

"The Ghost of the Grotto" is a marvelous tale from the fertile imagination of gifted artist Carl Barks. The story begins with Donald and his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie gathering kelp, or seaweed, in a rented boat around the islands of the West Indies. We join them in the first panel just after they have located a lagoon in the center of Skull-eye Reef that appears to contain rich kelp beds. The important chemistry in the story is revealed in this first panel when Donald suggests that they are gathering kelp for its iodine content and that an iodine factory is to pay them for the haul. Unfortunately, the boys cannot figure out how to remove the kelp from the lagoon, so they return to port with a small load.

As Donald and the nephews are trying to find a way to get to the kelp beds, they discover that the natives of their port are worried because that very evening is the 50th anniversary of the night when a mysterious stranger dressed in a suit of armor kidnapped a small boy from the village. Donald is warned by the villagers to protect the nephews, but undaunted by the mystery of the armored stranger, he and the boys head out to use the tide to propel them into the kelp-laden lagoon. They manage to position themselves in the lagoon, and as they gather the kelp, they uncover the wreck of a British man o'war protected by a giant octupus.

Donald and the boys fend off the octopus by lacing a chunk of meat with red-hot chili peppers, and after several enigmatic encounters, they meet the infamous armored stranger in a grotto under the reef. The stranger turns out to be the grownup little boy who was kidnapped by the previous inhabitant of the grotto fifty years before. The stranger explains that every fifty years, his predecessors have gone forth and kidnapped a small boy and trained him to become the guardian of the old ship, which contains a fortune in gold. Each of the successive guardians have waited patiently for the day when Sir Francis Drake would return to the grotto to reclaim the gold for Queen Elizabeth I.

Eventually, Donald, the nephews, and the armored stranger are rescued, and to Donald's dismay, by law the gold becomes the property of its guardian, the armored man. Donald and the nephews receive only a hero's welcome and the key to the city. In the last panel of the story, the armored man is seated at Tony's Burger Palace in a gaudy new suit of clothes enjoying his newfound wealth by downing a few hamburgers after a half century of eating nothing but fish. Barks's fantastic story is rich with historical connections as usual and, fortunately for us, he presents an unforgettable chemical fact—iodine was first isolated from seaweed, which today remains the most important source of the element.

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