Prince Ricardo of Pantouflia - being the adventures of Prince Prigio's son
by Andrew Lang
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Transcribed from the 1893 J. W. Arrowsmith edition by David Price, email

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DEDICATION. To Guy Campbell.

My dear Guy,

You wanted to know more about Prince Prigio, who won the Lady Rosalind, and killed the Firedrake and the Remora by aid of his Fairy gifts. Here you have some of his later adventures, and you will learn from this story the advantages of minding your book.

Yours always, A. Lang.

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Introductory. Explaining Matters.

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There may be children whose education has been so neglected that they have not read Prince Prigio. As this new story is about Prince Prigio's son, Ricardo, you are to learn that Prigio was the child and heir of Grognio, King of Pantouflia. The fairies gave the little Prince cleverness, beauty, courage; but one wicked fairy added, "You shall be too clever." His mother, the queen, hid away in a cupboard all the fairy presents,—the Sword of Sharpness, the Seven-League Boots, the Wishing Cap, and many other useful and delightful gifts, in which her Majesty did not believe! But after Prince Prigio had become universally disliked and deserted, because he was so very clever and conceited, he happened to find all the fairy presents in the old turret chamber where they had been thrown. By means of these he delivered his country from a dreadful Red-Hot Beast, called the Firedrake, and, in addition to many other triumphs, he married the good and beautiful Lady Rosalind. His love for her taught him not to be conceited, though he did not cease to be extremely clever and fond of reading.

When this new story begins the Prince has succeeded to the crown, on the death of King Grognio, and is unhappy about his own son, Prince Ricardo, who is not clever, and who hates books! The story tells of Ricardo's adventures: how he tried to bring back Prince Charlie to England, how he failed; how he dealt with the odious old Yellow Dwarf; how he was aided by the fair magician, the Princess Jaqueline; how they both fell into a dreadful trouble; how King Prigio saved them; and how Jaqueline's dear and royal papa was discovered; with the end of all these adventures. The moral of the story will easily be discovered by the youngest reader, or, if not, it does not much matter.

CHAPTER I. The Troubles of King Prigio.

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"I'm sure I don't know what to do with that boy!" said King Prigio of Pantouflia.

"If you don't know, my dear," said Queen Rosalind, his illustrious consort, "I can't see what is to be done. You are so clever."

The king and queen were sitting in the royal library, of which the shelves were full of the most delightful fairy books in all languages, all equally familiar to King Prigio. The queen could not read most of them herself, but the king used to read them aloud to her. A good many years had passed—seventeen, in fact—since Queen Rosalind was married, but you would not think it to look at her. Her grey eyes were as kind and soft and beautiful, her dark hair as dark, and her pretty colour as like a white rose blushing, as on the day when she was a bride. And she was as fond of the king as when he was only Prince Prigio, and he was as fond of her as on the night when he first met her at the ball.

"No, I don't know what to do with Dick," said the king.

He meant his son, Prince Ricardo, but he called him Dick in private.

"I believe it's the fault of his education," his Majesty went on. "We have not brought him up rightly. These fairy books are at the bottom of his provoking behaviour," and he glanced round the shelves. "Now, when I was a boy, my dear mother tried to prevent me from reading fairy books, because she did not believe in fairies."

"But she was wrong, you know," said the queen. "Why, if it had not been for all these fairy presents, the Cap of Darkness and all the rest of them, you never could have killed the Fire-beast and the Ice-beast, and—you never could have married me," the queen added, in a happy whisper, blushing beautifully, for that was a foolish habit of hers.

"It is quite true," said the king, "and therefore I thought it best to bring Dick up on fairy books, that he might know what is right, and have no nonsense about him. But perhaps the thing has been overdone; at all events, it is not a success. I wonder if fathers and sons will ever understand each other, and get on well together? There was my poor father, King Grognio, he wanted me to take to adventures, like other princes, fighting Firedrakes, and so forth; and I did not care for it, till you set me on," and he looked very kindly at her Majesty. "And now, here's Dick," the monarch continued, "I can't hold him back. He is always after a giant, or a dragon, or a magician, as the case may be; he will certainly be ploughed for his examination at College. Never opens a book. What does he care, off after every adventure he can hear about? An idle, restless youth! Ah, my poor country, when I am gone, what may not be your misfortunes under Ricardo!"

Here his Majesty sighed, and seemed plunged in thought.

"But you are not going yet, my dear," said the queen. "Why you are not forty! And young people will be young people. You were quite proud when poor Dick came home with his first brace of gigantic fierce birds, killed off his own sword, and with such a pretty princess he had rescued—dear Jaqueline? I'm sure she is like a daughter to me. I cannot do without her."

"I wish she were a daughter-in-law; I wish Dick would take a fancy to marry her," said the king. "A nicer girl I never saw."

"And so accomplished," added Queen Rosalind. "That girl can turn herself into anything—a mouse, a fly, a lion, a wheelbarrow, a church! I never knew such talent for magic. Of course she had the best of teachers, the Fairy Paribanou herself; but very few girls, in our time, devote so many hours to practice as dear Jaqueline. Even now, when she is out of the schoolroom, she still practises her scales. I saw her turning little Dollie into a fish and back again in the bath-room last night. The child was delighted."

In these times, you must know, princesses learned magic, just as they learn the piano nowadays; but they had their music lessons too, dancing, calisthenics, and the use of the globes.

"Yes, she's a dear, good girl," said the king; "yet she looks melancholy. I believe, myself, that if Ricardo asked her to marry him, she would not say 'No.' But that's just one of the things I object to most in Dick. Round the world he goes, rescuing ladies from every kind of horror—from dragons, giants, cannibals, magicians; and then, when a girl naturally expects to be married to him, as is usual, off he rides! He has no more heart than a flounder. Why, at his age I—"

"At his age, my dear, you were so hard-hearted that you were quite a proverb. Why, I have been told that you used to ask girls dreadful puzzling questions, like 'Who was Caesar Borgia?' 'What do you know of Edwin and Morcar?' and so on."

"I had not seen you then," said the king.

"And Ricardo has not seen her, whoever she may be. Besides, he can't possibly marry all of them. And I think a girl should consider herself lucky if she is saved from a dragon or a giant, without expecting to be married next day."

"Perhaps; but it is usual," said the king, "and their families expect it, and keep sending ambassadors to know what Dick's intentions are. I would not mind it all so very much if he killed the monsters off his own sword, as he did that first brace, in fair fight. But ever since he found his way into that closet where the fairy presents lie, everything has been made too easy for him. It is a royal road to glory, or giant-slaying made easy. In his Cap of Darkness a poor brute of a dragon can't see him. In his Shoes of Swiftness the giants can't catch him. His Sword of Sharpness would cut any oak asunder at a blow!"

"But you were very glad of them when you made the Ice-beast and the Fire- beast fight and kill each other," said the queen.

"Yes, my dear; but it wanted some wit, if I may say so, to do that, and Dick just goes at it hammer and tongs: anybody could do it. It's intellect I miss in Ricardo. How am I to know whether he could make a good fight for it without all these fairy things? I wonder what the young rogue is about to-day? He'll be late for dinner, as usual, I daresay. I can't stand want of punctuality at meals," remarked his Majesty, which is a sign that he was growing old after all; for where is the fun of being expected always to come home in time for dinner when, perhaps, you are fishing, and the trout are rising splendidly?

"Young people will be young people," said the queen. "If you are anxious about him, why don't you look for him in the magic crystal?"

Now the magic crystal was a fairy present, a great ball of glass in which, if you looked, you saw the person you wanted to see, and what he was doing, however far away he might be, if he was on the earth at all. {21}

"I'll just take a look at it," said the king; "it only wants three-quarters of an hour to dinner-time."

His Majesty rose, and walked to the crystal globe, which was in a stand, like other globes. He stared into it, he turned it round and round, and Queen Rosalind saw him grow quite pale as he gazed.

"I don't see him anywhere," said the king, "and I have looked everywhere. I do hope nothing has happened to the boy. He is so careless. If he dropped his Cap of Darkness in a fight with a giant, why who knows what might occur?"

"Oh, 'Gio, how you frighten me!" said the queen.

King Prigio was still turning the crystal globe.

"Stop!" he cried; "I see a beautiful princess, fastened by iron chains to a rock beside the sea, in a lonely place. They must have fixed her up as a sacrifice to a sea-monster, like what's-her-name."

This proves how anxious he was, or, being so clever and learned, he would have remembered that her name was Andromeda.

"I bet Dick is not far off, where there is an adventure on hand. But where on earth can he be? . . . My word!" suddenly exclaimed the monarch, in obvious excitement.

"What is it, dear?" cried the queen, with all the anxiety of a mother.

"Why, the sea where the girl is, has turned all red as blood!" exclaimed the king. "Now it is all being churned up by the tail of a tremendous monster. He is a whopper! He's coming on shore; the girl is fainting. He's out on shore! He is extremely poorly, blood rushing from his open jaws. He's dying! And, hooray! here's Dick coming out of his enormous mouth, all in armour set with sharp spikes, and a sword in his hand. He's covered with blood, but he's well and hearty. He must have been swallowed by the brute, and cut him up inside. Now he's cutting the beast's head off. Now he's gone to the princess; a very neat bow he has made her. Dick's manners are positively improving! Now he's cutting her iron chains off with the Sword of Sharpness. And now he's made her another bow, and he's actually taking leave of her. Poor thing! How disappointed she is looking. And she's so pretty, too. I say, Rosalind, shall I shout to him through the magic horn, and tell him to bring her home here, on the magic carpet?"

"I think not, dear; the palace is quite full," said the queen. But the real reason was that she wanted Ricardo to marry her favourite Princess Jaqueline, and she did not wish the new princess to come in the way.

"As you like," said the king, who knew what was in her mind very well. "Besides, I see her own people coming for her. I'm sorry for her, but it can't be helped, and Dick is half-way home by now on the Shoes of Swiftness. I daresay he will not keep dinner waiting after all. But what a fright the boy has given me!"

At this moment a whirring in the air and a joyous shout were heard. It was Prince Ricardo flying home on his Seven-league Boots.

"Hi, Ross!" he shouted, "just weigh this beast's head. I've had a splendid day with a sea-monster. Get the head stuffed, will you? We'll have it set up in the billiard-room."

"Yes, Master Dick—I mean your Royal Highness," said Ross, a Highland keeper, who had not previously been employed by a Reigning Family. "It's a fine head, whatever," he added, meditatively.

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Prince Ricardo now came beneath the library window, and gave his parents a brief account of his adventure.

"I picked the monster up early in the morning," he said, "through the magic telescope, father."

"What country was he in?" said the king.

"The country people whom I met called it Ethiopia. They were niggers."

"And in what part of the globe is Ethiopia, Ricardo?"

"Oh! I don't know. Asia, perhaps," answered the prince.

The king groaned.

"That boy will never understand our foreign relations. Ethiopia in Asia!" he said to himself, but he did not choose to make any remark at the moment.

The prince ran upstairs to dress. On the stairs he met the Princess Jaqueline.

"Oh, Dick! are you hurt?" she said, turning very pale.

"No, not I; but the monster is. I had a capital day, Jack; rescued a princess, too."

"Was she—was she very pretty, Dick?"

"Oh! I don't know. Pretty enough, I daresay. Much like other girls. Why, you look quite white! What's the matter? Now you look all right again;" for, indeed, the Princess Jaqueline was blushing.

"I must dress. I'm ever so late," he said, hurrying upstairs; and the princess, with a little sigh, went down to the royal drawing-room.

CHAPTER II. Princess Jaqueline Drinks the Moon.

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When dinner was over and the ladies had left the room, the king tried to speak seriously to Prince Ricardo. This was a thing which he disliked doing very much.

"There's very little use in preaching," his Majesty used to say, "to a man, or rather a boy, of another generation. My taste was for books; I only took to adventures because I was obliged to do it. Dick's taste is for adventures; I only wish some accident would make him take to books. But everyone must get his experience for himself; and when he has got it, he is lucky if it is not too late. I wish I could see him in love with some nice girl, who would keep him at home."

The king did not expect much from talking seriously to Dick. However, he began by asking questions about the day's sport, which Ricardo answered with modesty. Then his Majesty observed that, from all he had ever read or heard, he believed Ethiopia, where the fight was, to be in Africa, not in Asia.

"I really wish, Ricardo, that you would attend to your geography a little more. It is most necessary to a soldier that he should know where his enemy is, and if he has to fight the Dutch, for instance, not to start with his army for Central Asia."

"I could always spot them through the magic glass, father," said Dick; "it saves such a lot of trouble. I hate geography."

"But the glass might be lost or broken, or the Fairies might take it away, and then where are you?"

"Oh, you would know where to go, or Mr. Belsham."

Now Mr. Belsham was his tutor, from Oxford.

"But I shall not always be here, and when I die—"

"Don't talk of dying, sire," said Dick. "Why, you are not so very old; you may live for years yet. Besides, I can't stand the notion. You must live for ever!"

"That sentiment is unusual in a Crown Prince," thought the king; but he was pleased for all that.

"Well, to oblige you, I'll try to struggle against old age," he said; "but there are always accidents. Now, Dick, like a good fellow, and to please me, work hard all to-morrow till the afternoon. I'll come in and help you. And there's always a splendid evening rise of trout in the lake just now, so you can have your play after your work. You'll enjoy it more, and I daresay you are tired after a long day with the big game. It used to tire me, I remember."

"I am rather tired," said Dick; and indeed he looked a little pale, for a day in the inside of a gigantic sea-monster is fatiguing, from the heat and want of fresh air which are usually found in such places. "I think I'll turn in; goodnight, my dear old governor," he said, in an affectionate manner, though he was not usually given to many words.

Then he went and kissed his mother and the Princess Jaqueline, whom he engaged to row him on the lake next evening, while he fished.

"And don't you go muffing them with the landing-net, Jack, as you generally do," said his Royal Highness, as he lit his bedroom candle.

"I wish he would not call me Jack," said the princess to the queen.

"It's better than Lina, my dear," said her Majesty, who in late life had become fond of her little joke; "that always sounds as if someone else was fatter,—and I hope there is not someone else."

The princess was silent, and fixed her eyes on her book.

Presently the king came in, and played a game with Lina at picquet. When they were all going to bed, he said:

"Just come into the study, Lina. I want you to write a few letters for me."

The princess followed him and took her seat at the writing table. The letters were very short. One was to Herr Schnipp, tailor to the king and royal family; another was to the royal swordmaker, another to the bootmaker, another to the optician, another to the tradesman who supplied the august family with carpets and rugs, another to his Majesty's hatter. They were all summoned to be at the palace early next morning. Then his Majesty yawned, apologised, and went to bed. The princess also went to her room, or bower as it was then called, but not to sleep.

She was unhappy that Dick did not satisfy his father, and that he was so careless, and also about other things.

"And why does the king want all these tailors and hatters so suddenly, telescope-makers and swordmakers and shoemakers, too?" she asked herself, as she stood at the window watching the moon.

"I could find out. I could turn myself into a dog or a cat, and go into the room where he is giving his orders. But that is awkward, for when the servants see Rip" (that was the dog) "in two places at once, they begin to think the palace is haunted, and it makes people talk. Besides, I know it is wrong to listen to what one is not meant to hear. It is often difficult to be a magician and a good girl. The temptations are so strong, stronger than most people allow for." So she remained, with the moon shining on her pretty yellow hair and her white dress, wondering what the king intended to do, and whether it was something that Dick would not like.

"How stupid of me," she said at length, "after all the lessons I have had. Why, I can drink the moon!"

Now, this is a way of knowing what anyone else is thinking of and intends to do, for the moon sees and knows everything. Whether it is quite fair is another matter; but, at all events, it is not listening. And anyone may see that, if you are a magician, like the Princess Jaqueline, a great many difficult questions as to what is right and wrong at once occur which do not trouble other people. King Prigio's secret, why he sent for the tailor and the other people, was his own secret. The princess decided that she would not find it out by turning herself into Rip or the cat (whose name was Semiramis), and, so far, she was quite right. But she was very young, and it never occurred to her that it was just as wrong to find out what the king meant by drinking the moon as by listening in disguise. As she grew older she learned to know better; but this is just the danger of teaching young girls magic, and for that very reason it has been given up in most countries.

However, the princess did not think about right and wrong, unluckily. She went to the bookcase and took down her Cornelius Agrippa, in one great tall black volume, with silver clasps which nobody else could open; for, as the princess said, there are books which it would never do to leave lying about where the servants or anybody could read them. Nobody could undo the clasps, however strong or clever he might be; but the princess just breathed on them and made a sign, and the book flew open at the right place—Book IV., chapter vi., about the middle of page 576.

The magic spell was in Latin, of course; but the princess knew Latin very well, and soon she had the magic song by heart. Then she closed the book and put it back on the shelf. Then she threw open the window and drew back the curtains, and put out all the lights except two scented candles that burned with a white fire under a round mirror with a silver frame, opposite the window. And into that mirror the moon shone white and full, filling all the space of it, so that the room was steeped in a strange silver light. Now the whole room seemed to sway gently, waving and trembling; and as it trembled it sounded and rang with a low silver music, as if it were filled with the waves of the sea.

Then the princess took a great silver basin, covered with strange black signs and figures raised in the silver. She poured water into the basin, and as she poured it she sang the magic spell from the Latin book. It was something like this, in English:

"Oh Lady Moon, on the waters riding, On shining waters, in silver sheen, Show me the secret the heart is hiding, Show me the truth of the thought, oh Queen!

"Oh waters white, where the moon is riding, That knows what shall be and what has been, Tell me the secret the heart is hiding, Wash me the truth of it, clear and clean!"

As she sang the water in the silver basin foamed and bubbled, and then fell still again; and the princess knelt in the middle of the room, and the moon and the white light from the mirror of the moon fell in the water.

Then the princess raised the basin, and stooped her mouth to it and drank the water, spilling a few drops, and so she drank the moon and the knowledge of the moon. Then the moon was darkened without a cloud, and there was darkness in the sky for a time, and all the dogs in the world began to howl. When the moon shone again, the princess rose and put out the two white lights, and drew the curtains; and presently she went to bed.

{The Princess drinks the Moon: p41.jpg}

"Now I know all about it," she said. "It is clever; everything the king does is clever, and he is so kind that I daresay he does not mean any harm. But it seems a cruel trick to play on poor Ricardo. However, Jaqueline is on the watch, and I'll show them a girl can do more than people think,"—as, indeed, she could.

After meditating in this way, the princess fell sleep, and did not waken till her maid came to call her.

"Oh! your Royal Highness, what's this on the floor?" said the faithful Rosina, as she was arranging the princess's things for her to get up.

"Why, what is it?" asked the princess.

"Ever so many—four, five, six, seven—little shining drops of silver lying on the carpet, as if they had melted and fallen there!"

"They have not hurt the carpet?" said the princess. "Oh dear! the queen won't be pleased at all. It was a little chemical experiment I was trying last night."

But she knew very well that she must have dropped seven drops of the enchanted water.

"No, your Royal Highness, the carpet is not harmed," said Rosina; "only your Royal Highness should do these things in the laboratory. Her Majesty has often spoke about it."

"You are quite right," said the princess; "but as there is no harm done, we'll say nothing about it this time. And, Rosina, you may keep the silver drops for yourself."

"Your Royal Highness is always very kind," said Rosina, which was true; but how much better and wiser it is not to begin to deceive! We never know how far we may be carried, and so Jaqueline found out.

For when she went down to breakfast, there was the king in a great state of excitement, for him.

"It's most extraordinary," said his Majesty.

"What is?" asked the queen.

"Why, didn't you notice it? No, you had gone to bed before it happened. But I was taking a walk in the moonlight, on the balcony, and I observed it carefully."

"Observed what, my dear?" asked the queen, who was pouring out the tea.

"Didn't you see it, Dick? Late as usual, you young dog!" the king remarked as Ricardo entered the room.

"See what, sir?" said Dick.

"Oh, you were asleep hours before, now I think of it! But it was the most extraordinary thing, an unpredicted eclipse of the moon! You must have noticed it, Jaqueline; you sat up later. How the dogs howled!"

"No; I mean yes," murmured poor Jaqueline, who of course had caused the whole affair by her magic arts, but who had forgotten, in the excitement of the moment, that an eclipse of the moon, especially if entirely unexpected, is likely to attract very general attention. Jaqueline could not bear to tell a fib, especially to a king who had been so kind to her; besides, fibbing would not alter the facts.

"Yes, I did see it," she admitted, blushing. "Had it not been predicted?"

"Not a word about it whispered anywhere," said his Majesty. "I looked up the almanack at once. It is the most extraordinary thing I ever saw, and I've seen a good many."

"The astronomers must be duffers," said Prince Ricardo. "I never thought there was much in physical science of any sort; most dreary stuff. Why, they say the earth goes round the sun, whereas any fool can see it is just the other way on."

King Prigio was struck aghast by these sentiments in the mouth of his son and heir, the hope of Pantouflia. But what was the king to say in reply? The astronomers of Pantouflia, who conceived that they knew a great deal, had certainly been taken by surprise this time. Indeed, they have not yet satisfactorily explained this eclipse of the moon, though they have written volumes about it.

"Why, it may be the sun next!" exclaimed his Majesty. "Anything may happen. The very laws of gravitation themselves may go askew!"

At this moment the butler, William, who had been in the queen's family when she was a girl, entered, and announced:

"Some of the royal tradesmen, by appointment, to see your Majesty."

So the king, who had scarcely eaten any breakfast, much to the annoyance of the queen, who was not agitated by eclipses, went out and joined the tailors and the rest of them.

CHAPTER III. The Adventure of the Shopkeepers.

{Man with sword: p48.jpg}

Dick went on with his breakfast. He ate cold pastry, and poached eggs, and ham, and rolls, and raspberry jam, and hot cakes; and he drank two cups of coffee. Meanwhile the king had joined the tradesmen who attended by his orders. They were all met in the royal study, where the king made them a most splendid bow, and requested them to be seated. But they declined to sit in his sacred presence, and the king observed that, in that case he must stand up.

"I have invited you here, gentlemen," he said, "on a matter of merely private importance, but I must request that you will be entirely silent as to the nature of your duties. It is difficult, I know, not to talk about one's work, but in this instance I am sure you will oblige me."

"Your Majesty has only to command," said Herr Schnipp. "There have been monarchs, in neighbouring kingdoms, who would have cut off all our heads after we had done a bit of secret business; but the merest word of your Majesty is law to your loving subjects."

The other merchants murmured assent, for King Prigio was really liked by his people. He was always good-tempered and polite. He never went to war with anybody. He spent most of the royal income on public objects, and of course there were scarcely any taxes to speak of. Moreover, he had abolished what is called compulsory education, or making everybody go to school whether he likes it or not; a most mischievous and tyrannical measure! "A fellow who can't teach himself to read," said the king, "is not worth teaching."

For all these reasons, and because they were so fond of the queen, his subjects were ready to do anything in reason for King Prigio.

Only one tradesman, bowing very deep and blushing very much, said:

"Your Majesty, will you hear me for one moment?"

"For an hour, with pleasure, Herr Schmidt," said the monarch.

"It is an untradesman-like and an unusual thing to decline an order; and if your Majesty asked for my heart's blood, I am ready to shed it, not to speak of anything in the line of my business—namely, boot and shoe making. But keep a secret from my wife, I fairly own to your Majesty that I can not."

Herr Schmidt went down on his knees and wept.

{Herr Schmidt went down on his knees: p52.jpg}

"Rise, Herr Schmidt," said the king, taking him by the hand. "A more honourable and chivalrous confession of an amiable weakness, if it is to be called a weakness, I never heard. Sir, you have been true to your honour and your prince, in face of what few men can bear, the chance of ridicule. There is no one here, I hope, but respects and will keep the secret of Herr Schmidt's confession?"

The assembled shopkeepers could scarcely refrain from tears.

"Long live King Prigio the Good!" they exclaimed, and vowed that everything should be kept dark.

"Indeed, sire," said the swordmaker, "all the rest of us are bachelors."

"That is none the worse for my purpose gentlemen," said his Majesty; "but I trust that you will not long deprive me of sons and subjects worthy to succeed to such fathers. And now, if Herr Schmidt will kindly find his way to the buttery, where refreshments are ready, I shall have the pleasure of conducting you to the scene of your labours."

Thus speaking, the king, with another magnificent bow, led the way upstairs to a little turret-room, in a deserted part of the palace. Bidding the tradesmen enter, he showed them a large collection of miscellaneous things: an old cap or two, a pair of boots of a sort long out of fashion, an old broadsword, a shabby old Persian rug, an ivory spy- glass, and other articles. These were, in fact, the fairy presents, which had been given to the king at his christening, and by aid of which (and his natural acuteness) he had, in his youth, succeeded in many remarkable adventures.

The caps were the Wishing Cap and the Cap of Darkness. The rug was the famous carpet which carried its owner through the air wherever he wished to go. The sword was the Sword of Sharpness. The ivory glass showed you anyone you wanted to see, however far off. The boots were the Seven-league Boots, which Hop-o'-my-Thumb stole from the Ogre about 1697. There were other valuable objects, but these were the most useful and celebrated. Of course the king did not tell the tradesmen what they were.

"Now, gentlemen," said his Majesty, "you see these old things. For reasons which I must ask you to excuse me for keeping to myself, I wish you to provide me with objects exactly and precisely similar to these, with all the look of age."

The tradesmen examined the objects, each choosing that in his own line of business.

"As to the sword, sire," said the cutler, "it is an Andrea Ferrara, a fine old blade. By a lucky accident, I happen to have one at home in a small collection of ancient weapons, exactly like it. This evening it shall be at your Majesty's disposal."

"Perhaps, Herr Schnitzler, you will kindly write an order for it, as I wish no one of you to leave the palace, if you can conveniently stay, till your business is finished."

"With pleasure, your Majesty," says the cutler.

"As to the old rug," said the upholsterer, "I have a Persian one quite identical with it at home, at your Majesty's service."

"Then you can do like Herr Schnitzler," who was the cutler.

"And I," said the hatter, "have two old caps just like these, part of a bankrupt theatrical stock."

"We are most fortunate," said the king.

"The boots, now I come to think of it, are unimportant, at least for the present. Perhaps we can borrow a pair from the theatre."

"As for the glass," said the optician, "if your Majesty will allow me to take it home with me—"

"I am afraid I cannot part with it," said the king; "but that, too, is unimportant, or not very pressing."

Then he called for a servant, to order luncheon for the shopkeepers, and paper for them to write their orders on. But no one was within hearing, and in that very old part of the palace there were no bells.

"Just pardon me for an instant, while I run downstairs," said his Majesty; "and, it seems a strange thing to ask, but may I advise you not to sit down on that carpet? I have a reason for it."

In fact, he was afraid that someone might sit down on it, and wish he was somewhere else, and be carried away, as was the nature of the carpet.

King Prigio was not absent a minute, for he met William on the stairs; but when he came back, there was not one single person in the turret-room!

"Where on earth are they?" cried the king, rushing through all the rooms in that part of the castle. He shouted for them, and looked everywhere; but there was not a trace of tailor, hatter, optician, swordmaker, upholsterer.

The king hastened to a window over the gate, and saw the sentinels on duty.

"Hi!" he called.

And the sentinels turned round, looked up, and saluted.

"Have you seen anyone go out?" he cried.

"No one, sire," answered the soldiers.

The king, who began to guess what had happened, hurried back to the turret-room.

There were all the tradesmen with parcels under their arms.

"What means this, gentlemen?" said his Majesty, severely. "For what reason did you leave the room without my permission?"

They all knelt down, humbly imploring his compassion.

"Get up, you donkeys!" said the king, forgetting his politeness. "Get up, and tell me where you have been hiding yourselves."

The hatter came forward, and said:

"Sire, you will not believe me; indeed, I can scarcely believe it myself!"

"Nor none of us can't," said the swordmaker. "We have been home, and brought the articles. All orders executed with punctuality and dispatch," he added, quoting his own advertisement without thinking of it.

On this the swordmaker took out and exhibited the Andrea Ferrara blade, which was exactly like the Sword of Sharpness.

The upholsterer undid his parcel, and there was a Persian rug, which no one could tell from the magical carpet.

The hatter was fumbling with the string of his parcel, when he suddenly remembered, what the king in his astonishment had not noticed, that he had a cap on himself. He pulled it off in a hurry, and the king at once saw that it was his Wishing Cap, and understood all about the affair. The hatter, in his absence, had tried on the Wishing Cap, and had wished that he himself and his friends were all at home and back again with their wares at the palace. And what he wished happened, of course, as was natural. In a moment the king saw how much talk this business would produce in the country, and he decided on the best way to stop it.

Seizing the Wishing Cap, he put it on, wished all the tradesmen, including the shoemaker, back in the town at their shops, and also wished that none of them should remember anything about the whole affair.

In a moment he was alone in the turret-room. As for the shopkeepers, they had a kind of idea that they had dreamed something odd; but, as it went no further, of course they did not talk about it, and nobody was any the wiser.

"Owl that I am!" said King Prigio to himself. "I might have better wished for a complete set of sham fairy things which would not work. It would have saved a great deal of trouble; but I am so much out of the habit of using the cap, that I never thought of it. However, what I have got will do very well."

Then, putting on the Cap of Darkness, that nobody might see him, he carried all the real fairy articles away, except the Seven-league Boots, to his own room, where he locked them up, leaving in their place the sham Wishing Cap, the sham Cap of Darkness, the sham Sword of Sharpness, and the carpet which was not a magic carpet at all.

His idea was, of course, that Ricardo would start on an expedition confiding in his fairy things, and he would find that they did not act. Then he would be left to his own cleverness and courage to get him out of the scrape. That would teach him, thought the king, to depend on himself, and to set a proper value on cleverness and learning, and minding his book.

Of course he might have locked the things up, and forbidden Ricardo to touch them, but that might have seemed harsh. And, as you may easily imagine, with all the powers at his command, the king fancied he could easily rescue Ricardo from any very serious danger at the hands of giants or magicians or monsters. He only wanted to give him a fright or two, and make him respect the judgment of older and wiser people than himself.

CHAPTER IV. Two Lectures.

{The Prince with the telescope: p64.jpg}

For several days Prince Ricardo minded his books, and, according to his tutors, made considerable progress in polite learning. Perhaps he ought not to be praised too highly for this, because, in fact, he saw no means of distinguishing himself by adventures just at that time. Every morning he would climb the turret and sweep the horizon, and even much beyond the horizon, with the ivory spy-glass. But look as he would, he saw no monsters preying on human-kind anywhere, nor princesses in distress. To be sure he saw plenty of poor people in distress, and, being a good-hearted, though careless, lad, Dick would occasionally fly off with the Purse of Fortunatus in his pocket, and give them as much money as they needed—it cost him nothing. But this was not the kind of adventure which he enjoyed. Dragons for his money!

One day the Princess Jaqueline took a curious plan of showing Ricardo how little interest, after all, there is in performing the most wonderful exploits without any real difficulty or danger. They were drifting before a light breeze on a hill lake; Ricardo was fishing, and Jaqueline was sculling a stroke now and then, just to keep the boat right with the wind. Ricardo had very bad sport, when suddenly the trout began to rise all over the lake. Dick got excited, and stumbled about the boat from stern to bow, tripping over Jaqueline's feet, and nearly upsetting the vessel in his hurry to throw his flies over every trout he saw feeding.

{Drifting in a light breeze: p66.jpg}

But, as too often occurs, they were taking one particular fly which was on the water, and would look at nothing else.

"Oh, bother them!" cried Ricardo. "I can't find a fly in my book in the least like that little black one they are feeding on!"

He tried half-a-dozen different fly-hooks, but all to no purpose; he lost his temper, got his tackle entangled in Jaqueline's hair and then in the landing-net; and, though such a big boy, he was nearly crying with vexation.

The Princess Jaqueline, with great pains and patience, disentangled the casting line, first from her hair, which Ricardo was anxious to cut (the great stupid oaf,—her pretty hair!) then from the landing-net; but Dick had grown sulky.

"It's no use," he said; "I have not a fly that will suit. Let's go home," and he threw a tin can at a rising trout.

"Now, Dick," said Jaqueline, "you know I can help you. I did not learn magic for nothing. Just you look the other way for a minute or two, and you will find the right fly at the end of your line."

Dick turned his head away (it is not proper to look on at magical arts), and then in a moment, saw the right hook on his cast; but Jaqueline was not in the boat. She had turned herself into an artificial fly (a small black gnat), and Dick might set to his sport again.

"What a trump that girl is," he said aloud. "Clever, too!" and he began casting. He got a trout every cast, great big ones, over a pound, and soon he had a basketful. But he began to feel rather bored.

"There's not much fun taking them," he said, "when they are so silly."

At that very moment he noticed that the fly was off his cast, and Jaqueline was sitting at the oars.

"You see, Ricardo," she said, "I was right after all. There is not much pleasure in sport that is easy and certain. Now, apply this moral to dragon-killing with magic instruments. It may be useful when one is obliged to defend oneself, but surely a prince ought not to give his whole time to nothing else!"

Dick had no answer ready, so he only grumbled:

"You're always preaching at me, Jack; everybody always is. I seem to have been born just to be preached at."

Some people are; and it does grow rather tedious in the long run. But perhaps what Jaqueline said may have made some impression on Ricardo, for he stuck to his books for weeks, and was got into decimal fractions and Euclid.

All this, of course, pleased the king very much, and he began to entertain hopes of Ricardo's becoming a wise and learned prince, and a credit to his illustrious family.

Things were not always to go smoothly, far from it; and it was poor Jaqueline who fell into trouble next. She had been very ready to lecture Dick, as we saw, and took a good deal of credit to herself for his steadiness. But one day King Prigio happened to meet Jaqueline's maid, Rosina, on the stairs; and as Rosina was a pretty girl, and the king was always kind to his dependents, he stopped to have a chat with her.

"Why, Rosina, what a pretty little silver cross you are wearing," he said, and he lifted a curious ornament which hung from a chain on Rosina's neck. It consisted of seven drops of silver, set like this:

{The drops: p72.jpg}

"May I look at it?" his Majesty asked, and Rosina, all in a flutter, took it off and gave if to him. "H'm!" said the king. "Very curious and pretty! May I ask you where you got this, Rosina?"

{"H'm!" said the king. "Very curious and pretty!": p73.jpg}

Now Rosina generally had her answer ready, and I am very sorry to say that she did not always speak the truth when she could think of anything better. On this occasion she was anxious to think of something better, for fear of getting Jaqueline into a scrape about the chemical experiment in her bedroom. But Rosina was fluttered, as we said, by the royal kindness, and she could think of nothing but to curtsy, and say:

"Please, your Majesty, the princess gave me the drops."

"Very interesting," said the king. "There is a little white moon shining in each of them! I wonder if they shine in the dark?"

He opened the door of a cupboard which had no windows, where the housemaid kept her mops and brooms, and shut himself in. Yes, there was no mistake; the darkness was quite lighted up with the sheen of the seven little moons in the silver. The king looked rather grave.

"If you can trust me with this cross till to-morrow, Rosina, I should like to have it examined and analysed. This is no common silver."

Of course Rosina could only curtsy, but she was very much alarmed about the consequences to her mistress.

After luncheon, the king asked Jaqueline to come into his study, as he often did, to help him with his letters. When they had sat down his Majesty said:

"My dear Jaqueline, I never interfere with your pursuits, but I almost doubt whether Cornelius Agrippa is a good book for a very young lady to read. The Fairy Paribanou, I am sure, taught you nothing beyond the ordinary magical accomplishments suited to your rank; but there are a great many things in the Cornelius which I think you should not study till you are older and wiser."

"What does your Majesty mean?" said poor Jaqueline, feeling very uncomfortable; for the king had never lectured her before.

"Why," said his Majesty, taking the silver cross out of his pocket, "did you not give this to Rosina?"

"Yes, sire, I did give her the drops. She had them made up herself."

"Then give it back to her when you see her next. I am glad you are frank, Jaqueline. And you know, of course, that the drops are not ordinary silver? They are moon silver, and that can only be got in one way, so far as I know, at least—when one spills the water when he, or she, is drinking the moon. Now, there is only one book which tells how that can be done, and there is only one reason for doing it; namely, to find out what is some other person's secret. I shall not ask you whose secret you wanted to find out, but I must request you never to do such a thing again without consulting me. You can have no reason for it, such as a great king might have whose enemies are plotting against his country."

"Oh, sire, I will tell you everything!" cried Jaqueline.

"No, don't; I don't want to know. I am sure you will make no use of your information which you think I should not approve of. But there is another thing—that eclipse of the moon! Oh, Jaqueline, was it honourable, or fair to the astronomers and men of science, to say nothing about it? Their European reputations are seriously injured."

Poor Jaqueline could only cry.

"Never mind," said his Majesty, comforting her. "There is no great harm done yet, and perhaps they would not believe you if you did explain; but just think, if some people ceased to believe in Science, what would they have left to believe in? But you are young, of course, and cannot be expected to think of everything."

"I never thought about it at all," wept Jaqueline.

"'Evil is wrought by want of thought,'" said the king, quoting the poet. "Now run away, dry your tears, and I think you had better bring me that book, and I'll put it back in one of the locked-up shelves. Later, when you are older, we shall see about it."

The princess flew to her room, and returned with her book. And the king kissed her, and told her to go and see if her Majesty meant to take a drive.

"I'll never deceive him again, never . . . unless it is quite necessary," said the princess to herself. "Indeed, it is not so easy to deceive the king. What a lot he has read!"

In fact, King Prigio had been very studious when a young man, before he came to the throne.

"Poor child!" thought the king. "No doubt she was trying her fortune, wondering if Ricardo cares for her a little. Of course I could not let her tell me that, poor child!"

In this guess, as we know, his Majesty was mistaken, which seldom happened to him.

"I wonder who she is?" the king went on speaking to himself. "That great booby, Ricardo, saved her from wild birds, which were just going to eat her. She was fastened to a mountain top, but where? that's the question. Ricardo never has any notion of geography. It was across the sea, he noticed that; but which sea,—Atlantic, Pacific, the Black Sea, the Caspian, the Sea of Marmora, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, the German Ocean, the Mediterranean? Her ornaments were very peculiar; there was a broad gold sun on her breast. I must look at them again some day. She said she was being sacrificed to wild birds (which her people worshipped), because there was some famine, or war, or trouble in the country. She said she was a Daughter of the Sun; but that, of course, is absurd, unless—By Jove! I believe I have it," said the king, and he went into the royal library and was looking for some old Spanish book, when his secretary came and said that the Russian Ambassador was waiting for an interview with his Majesty.

"Dismal old Muscovite!" sighed the king. "A monarch has not a moment to himself for his private studies. Ah, Prigio! why wert thou not born to a private station? But Duty before everything," and wreathing his royal countenance in smiles, his Majesty prepared to give Count Snoreonski an audience.

It was all about the attitude of Pantouflia in the event of a Polish invasion of Russia. The king reassured Count Snoreonski, affirming that Pantouflia, while deeply regretting the disturbed relations between two States in whose welfare she was deeply interested, would ever preserve an attitude of benevolent neutrality, unless her own interests were threatened.

"I may give your message to my august mistress, the Czarina?" said the ambassador.

"By all means, adding an expression of my tender interest in her Majesty's health and welfare," said the king, presenting the count at the same time with a magnificent diamond snuffbox containing his portrait.

The old count was affected to tears, and withdrew, while King Prigio said:

"I have not lost a day; I have made an amiable but very stupid man happy."

Such are, or rather such were, the toils of monarchs!

CHAPTER V. Prince Ricardo Crosses the Path of History.

{Hand reaching for a crown with wings: p83.jpg}

"I say, Jack," said Prince Ricardo one morning, "here's a queer letter for me!"

King Prigio had gone to a distant part of his dominions, on business of importance, and the young people were sitting in the royal study. The letter, which Ricardo handed to Jaqueline, was written on a great broad sheet of paper, folded up without any envelope, as was the custom then, and was sealed with a huge seal in red wax.

"I don't know the arms," Ricardo said.

"Oh, Ricardo, how you do neglect your Heraldry! Old Green Stocking is in despair over your ignorance."

Now Green Stocking was the chief herald of Pantouflia, just like Blue Mantle in England.

"Why, these are the Royal Arms of England, you great ignorant Dick!"

"But Rome isn't in England, is it?—and the post-mark is 'Roma': that's Rome in some lingo, I expect. It is in Latin, anyhow, I know. Mortuus est Romae—'He died at Rome.' It's in the Latin Grammar. Let's see what the fellow says, anyhow," added Ricardo, breaking the seal.

"He begins, 'Prins and dear Cousin!' I say, Jaqueline, he spells it 'Prins;' now it is P-R-I-N-C-E. He must be an ignorant fellow!"

"People in glass houses should not throw stones, Dick," said Jaqueline.

"He signs himself 'Charles, P. W.,'" said Ricardo, looking at the end. "Who on earth can he be? Why does he not put 'P. W. Charles,' if these are his initials? Look here, it's rather a long letter; you might read it to us, Jack!"

The princess took the epistle and began:

"How nice it smells, all scented! The paper is gilt-edged, too."

"Luxurious beggar, whoever he is," said Ricardo.

"Well, he says: 'Prins and dear Cousin,—You and me' (oh, what grammar!) 'are much the same age, I being fifteen next birthday, and we should be better ackwainted. All the wurld has herd of the fame of Prins Ricardo, whose name is feerd, and his sord dreded, wherever there are Monsters and Tirants. Prins, you may be less well informed about my situation. I have not killed any Dragguns, there being nun of them here; but I have been under fiar, at Gaeta.' Where's Gaeta, Dick?"

"Never heard of it," said Ricardo.

"Well, it is in Italy, and it was besieged lately. He goes on: 'and I am told that I did not misbehave myself, nor disgrace the blud of Bruce.'"

"I've heard of Robert Bruce," said Dick; "he was the man who did not kill the spider, but he cracked the head of Sir Harry Bohun with one whack of his axe. I remember him well enough."

"Well, your correspondent seems to be a descendant of his."

"That's getting more interesting," said Dick. "I wish my father would go to war with somebody. With the Sword of Sharpness I'd make the enemy whistle! Drive on, Jack."

"'As a prins in distress, I apeal to your valler, so renouned in Europe. I am kept out of my own; my royal father, King Gems,'—well, this is the worst spelling I ever saw in my life! He means King James,—'my royal father, King Gems, being druv into exile by a crewl Usurper, the Elector of Hannover. King Gems is old, and likes a quiat life; but I am determined to make an effort, if I go alone, and Europe shall here of Prince Charles. Having heard—as who has not?—of your royal Highness's courage and sordsmanship, I throw myself at your feet, and implore you to asist a prins in distres. Let our sords be drawn together in the caus of freedom and an outraged country, my own.

"'I remain, "'Prins and dear Cuzen, "'CHARLES, P. W.'

"P. W. means Prince of Wales," added Jaqueline. "He is turned out of England you know, and lives at Rome with his father."

"I like that chap," said Prince Ricardo. "He does not spell very well, as you say, but I sometimes make mistakes myself; and I like his spirit. I've been looking out for an adventure; but the big game is getting shy, and my sword rusts in his scabbard. I'll tell you what, Jack—I've an idea! I'll put him on the throne of his fathers; it's as easy as shelling peas: and as for that other fellow, the Elector, I'll send him back to Hanover, wherever that may be, and he can go on electing, and polling his vote in peace and quietness, at home. Just wait till I spot the places."

The prince ran up to the turret, fetched the magic spy-glass, and looked up London, Rome, and Hanover, as you would in a map.

"Well, Dick, but how do you mean to do it?"

"Do it?—nothing simpler! I just take my Seven-league Boots, run over to Rome, pick up Prince Charles, put him on the magic carpet, fly to London, clap the Cap of Darkness on him so that nobody can see him, set him down on the throne of his fathers; pick up the Elector, carry him over to his beloved Hanover, and the trick is done—what they call a bloodless revolution in the history books."

"But if the English don't like Prince Charles when they get him?"

"Like him? they're sure to like him, a young fellow like that! Besides, I'll take the sword with me in case of accidents."

"But, Dick, it is your father's rule that you are never to meddle in the affairs of other countries, and never to start on an expedition when he is not at home."

"Oh, he won't mind this time! There's no kind of danger; and I'm sure he will approve of the principle of the thing. Kings must stick up for each other. Why, some electing characters might come here and kick us out!"

"Your father is not the sort of king who is kicked out," said Jaqueline.

But there was no use in talking to Dick. He made his simple preparations, and announced that he would be back in time for luncheon.

What was poor Jaqueline to do? She was extremely anxious. She knew, as we saw, what King Prigio had intended about changing the fairy things for others that would not work. She was certain Dick would get himself into a scrape; how was she to help him? She made up her mind quickly, while Dick was putting his things together. She told the queen (it was the nearest to the truth she could think of) that she "was going for a turn with Dick." Then she changed herself into a mosquito—a kind of gnat that bites—and hid herself under a fold of Dick's coat. Of course he knew nothing about her being there. Then he started off in his Seven- league Boots, and before you could say "Jack Robinson" he was in Rome, in the grounds of a splendid palace called the Villa Borghese.

There he saw an elderly gentleman, in a great curled wig, sound asleep on a seat beneath a tree. The old gentleman had a long, pale, melancholy face, and across his breast was a broad blue ribbon with a star. Ah! how changed was King James from the handsome Prince who had loved fair Beatrix Esmond, thirty years ago! Near him were two boys, not quite so old as Prince Ricardo. The younger was a pretty dark boy, with a funny little roundabout white wig. He was splendidly dressed in a light-blue silk coat; a delicate little lace scarf was tied round his neck; he had lace ruffles falling about his little ringed hands; he had a pretty sword, with a gold handle set with diamonds—in fact, he was the picture of a little dandy. The other lad had a broad Scotch bonnet on, and no wig; beautiful silky yellow locks fell about his shoulders. He had laid his sword on the grass. He was dressed in tartan, which Ricardo had never seen before; and he wore a kilt, which was also new to Ricardo, who wondered at his bare legs—for he was wearing shoes with no stockings. In his hand he held a curious club, with a long, slim handle, and a head made heavy with lead, and defended with horn. With this he was aiming at a little white ball; and suddenly he swung up the club and sent the ball out of sight in the air, over several trees.

Prince Ricardo stepped up to this boy, took off his cap, and said:

"I think I have the honour of addressing the Prince of Wales?"

Prince Charles started at the sight of a gentleman in long riding-boots, girt with a broadsword, which was not then generally worn, and carrying a Persian rug under his arm.

"That is what I am called, sir," he said, "by those who give me the title which is mine by right. May I inquire the reason which offers me the pleasure of this unexpected interview?"

"Oh, I'm Ricardo of Pantouflia!" says Dick. "I had a letter from you this morning, and I believe you wanted to see me."

"From Pantouflia, sir," said Prince Charles; "why, that is hundreds of leagues away!"

"It is a good distance," said Dick; "but a mere step when you wear Seven- league Boots like mine."

"My dear prince," said Charles, throwing himself into his arms with rapture, and kissing him in the Italian fashion, which Dick did not half like, "you are, indeed, worthy of your reputation; and these are the celebrated Seven-league Boots? Harry," he cried to his brother, "come here at once and let me present you to his Royal Highness, our illustrious ally, Prince Ricardo of Pantouflia. The Duke of York—Prince Ricardo of Pantouflia. Gentlemen, know each other!"

The prince bowed in the most stately manner.

"I say," said Dick, who was seldom at all up to the standard of royal conversation, "what's that game you were playing? It's new to me. You sent the ball a tremendous long shot."

"The game is called golf, and is the favourite pastime of my loyal Scottish subjects," said Prince Charles. "For that reason, that I may be able to share the amusements of my people, whom I soon hope to lead to a glorious victory, followed by a peaceful and prosperous reign, I am acquiring a difficult art. I'm practising walking without stockings, too, to harden my feet," he said, in a more familiar tone of voice. "I fancy there are plenty of long marches before me, and I would not be a spear's length behind the hardiest Highlander."

"By Jove! I respect you," said Dick, with the greatest sincerity; "but I don't think, with me on your side, you will need to make many marches. It will all be plain sailing."

"Pray explain your plan," said Prince Charles. "The task of conquering back the throne of my fathers is not so simple as you seem to suppose."

"I've done a good many difficult things," said Dick, modestly.

"The conqueror of the magician, Gorgonzola, and the Giant Who never Knew when he had Enough, need not tell me that," said Prince Charles, with a courteous allusion to two of Ricardo's most prodigious adventures.

"Oh! I've very little to be proud of, really," said Dick, blushing; "anyone could do as much with my fairy things, of which, no doubt, you have heard. With a Sword of Sharpness and a Cap of Darkness, and so forth, you have a great pull over almost anything."

"And you really possess those talismans?" said the prince.

"Certainly I do. You see how short a time I took in coming to your call from Pantouflia."

"And has Holy Church," asked the Duke of York, with anxiety, "given her sanction and her blessing to those instruments of an art, usually, in her wisdom, forbidden?"

"Oh, never mind Holy Church, Harry!" said Prince Charles. "This is business. Besides, the English are Protestants."

"I pray for their conversion daily," said the Duke of York.

"The end justifies the means, you know," answered Prince Charles. "All's fair in love and war."

"I should think so," said Ricardo, "especially against those brutes of Electors; they give trouble at home sometimes."

"You, too, are plagued with an Elector?" asked Prince Charles.

"An Elector? thousands of them!" answered Dick, who never could understand anything about politics.

Prince Charles looked puzzled, but requested Dick to explain his great plan.

They sat down on the grass, and Ricardo showed them how he meant to manage it, just as he had told Jaqueline. As he said, nothing could be simpler.

"Let's start at once," he said, and, inducing Prince Charles to sit down on the magic carpet, he cried:

"England! St. James's Palace!"

But nothing happened!

The carpet was not the right magic carpet, but the one which King Prigio had put in its place.

"Get on! England, I said!" cried Dick.

But there they remained, under the chestnut tree, sitting on the carpet above the flowery grass.

{But there they remained: p99.jpg}

Prince Charles leaped to his feet; his face like fire, his eyes glowing.

"Enough of this fooling, sir!" he said. "It is easy, but cowardly, to mock at an unfortunate prince. Take your carpet and be off with you, out of the gardens, or your shoulders shall taste my club."

"There has been some mistake," Ricardo said; "the wrong carpet has been brought by accident, or the carpet has lost its power."

"In this sacred city, blessed by the presence of his Holiness the Pope, and the relics of so many martyrs and saints, magic may well cease to be potent," said the Duke of York.

"Nonsense! You are an impostor, sir! Leave my presence!" cried Prince Charles, lifting his golf-club.

Dick caught it out of his hand, and broke across his knee as fine a driver as ever came from Robertson's shop at St. Andrew's.

"The quarrels of princes are not settled with clubs, sir! Draw and defend yourself!" he said, kicking off his boots and standing in his socks on the grass.

Think of the horror of poor Jaqueline, who witnessed this terrible scene of passion from a fold in Prince Ricardo's dress! What could the girl do to save the life of two princes, the hopes of one nation, and of a respectable minority in another?

In a moment Prince Charles's rapier was shining in the sunlight, and he fell on guard in the most elegant attitude, his left hand gracefully raised and curved.

Dick drew his sword, but, as suddenly, threw it down again.

"Hang it!" he exclaimed, "I can't hit you with this! This is the Sword of Sharpness; it would cut through your steel and your neck at a touch."

He paused, and thought.

"Let me beseech your Royal Highness," he said to the Duke of York, who was in a terrible taking, "to lend your blade to a hand not less royal than your own."

"Give him it, Hal!" said Prince Charles, who was standing with the point of his sword on the ground, and the blade bent. "He seems to believe in his own nonsense."

The duke yielded his sword; Dick took it, made a nourish, and rushed at Prince Charles.

Now Ricardo had always neglected his fencing lessons. "Where's the good of it," he used to ask, "all that stamping, and posture-making, and ha- haing? The Sword of Sharpness is enough for me."

But now he could not, in honour, use the Sword of Sharpness; so on he came, waving the rapier like a claymore, and made a slice at Prince Charles's head.

The prince, very much surprised, parried in prime, riposted, and touched Dick on the hand.

At this moment the Princess Jaqueline did what she should have thought of sooner. She flew out of Dick's coat, and stung old King James on his royal nose. The king wakened, nearly crushed the princess (so dangerous is the practice of magic to the artist), and then leaped up, and saw Dick's blade flying through the air, glittering in the sun. The prince had disarmed him.

"Hullo! what's all this? A moi, mes gardes!" cried the old king, in French and English; and then he ran up, just in time to hear Prince Charles say:

"Sir, take your life! I cannot strike an unarmed man. A prince you may be, but you have not learned the exercises of gentlemen."

"What is all this, Carluccio?" asked the old king. "Swords out! brawling in my very presence! blood drawn!" for Dick's hand was bleeding a good deal.

Prince Charles, as briefly as possible, explained the unusual nature of the circumstances.

"A king must hear both sides," said King James. "What reply have you, sir, to make to his Royal Highness's statements?"

"The carpet would not work, sir," said Dick. "It never happened before. Had I used my own sword," and he explained its properties, "the Prince of Wales would not be alive to tell his story. I can say no more, beyond offering my apology for a disappointment which I could not have foreseen. A gentleman can only say that he is sorry. But wait!" he added; "I can at least prove that my confidence in some of my resources is not misplaced. Bid me bring you something—anything—from the ends of the earth, and it shall be in your hands. I can't say fairer."

King James reflected, while Prince Ricardo was pulling on the Seven-league Boots, which he had kicked off to fight more freely, and while the Duke of York bandaged Dick's hand with a kerchief.

"Bring me," said his Majesty, "Lord Lovat's snuff-mull."

"Where does he live?" said Dick.

"At Gortuleg, in Scotland," answered King James.

Dick was out of sight before the words were fairly spoken, and in ten minutes was back, bearing a large ram's-horn snuff-box, with a big cairngorm set in the top, and the Frazer arms.

"Most astonishing!" said King James.

"A miracle!" said the Duke of York.

"You have entirely cleared your character," said the king. "Your honour is without a stain, though it is a pity about the carpet. Your nobility in not using your magical sword, under the greatest provocation, reconciles me to this fresh blighting of my hopes. All my allies fail me," said the poor king with a sigh; "you alone have failed with honour. Carluccio, embrace the prince!"

They fell into each other's arms.

"Prince," said Dick, "you have taught me a lesson for which I shall not be ungrateful. With any blade a gentleman should be able to hold his own in fair fight. I shall no longer neglect my fencing lessons."

"With any blade," said Prince Charles, "I shall be happy to find Prince Ricardo by my side in a stricken field. We shall not part till I have induced you to accept a sword which I can never hope to draw against another adversary so noble. In war, my weapon is the claymore."

Here the prince offered to Ricardo the ruby-studded hilt of his rapier, which had a beautiful white shark-skin sheath.

"You must accept it, sir," said King James; "the hilt holds the rubies of John Sobieski."

"Thank you, prince," said Ricardo, "for the weapon, which I shall learn to wield; and I entreat you to honour me by receiving this fairy gift—which you do not need—a ring which makes all men faithful to the wearer."

The Prince of Wales bowed, and placed the talisman on his finger.

Ricardo then, after a few words of courtesy on both parts, picked up his useless carpet, took his farewell of the royal party, and, with Jaqueline still hidden under his collar, returned at full speed, but with a heavy heart, to Pantouflia, where the palace gong was just sounding for luncheon.

Ricardo never interfered in foreign affairs again, but his ring proved very useful to Prince Charles, as you may have read in history.

CHAPTER VI. Ricardo's Repentance.

{Bottle of weapon salve: p109.jpg}

The queen, as it happened fortunately, was lunching with one of the ladies of her Court. Ricardo did not come down to luncheon, and Jaqueline ate hers alone; and very mournful she felt. The prince had certainly not come well out of the adventure. He had failed (as all attempts to restore the Stuarts always did); he had been wounded, though he had never received a scratch in any of his earlier exploits; and if his honour was safe, and his good intentions fully understood, that was chiefly due to Jaqueline, and to the generosity of King James and Prince Charles.

"I wonder what he's doing?" she said to herself, and at last she went up and knocked at Ricardo's door.

"Go away," he said; "I don't want to see anybody. Who is it?"

"It's only me—Jaqueline."

{"It's only me": p111.jpg}

"Go away! I want nobody."

"Do let me in, dear Dick; I have good news for you," said the princess.

"What is it?" said Ricardo, unlocking the door. "Why do you bother a fellow so?"

He had been crying—his hand obviously hurt him badly; he looked, and indeed he was, very sulky.

"How did you get on in England, Dick?" asked the princess, taking no notice of his bandaged hand.

"Oh, don't ask me!" said Ricardo. "I've not been to England at all."

"Why, what happened?"

"Everything that is horrid happened," said Dick; and then, unable to keep it any longer to himself, he said: "I've failed to keep my promise; I've been insulted, I've been beaten by a fellow younger than myself; and, oh! how my hand does hurt, and I've got such a headache! And what am I to say to my mother when she asks why my arm is in a sling? and what will my father say? I'm quite broken down and desperate. I think I'll run away to sea;" and indeed he looked very wild and miserable.

"Tell me how it all happened, Dick," said the princess; "I'm sure it's not so bad as you make out. Perhaps I can help you."

"How can a girl help a man?" cried Dick, angrily; and poor Jaqueline, remembering how she had helped him, at the risk of her own life, when King James nearly crushed her in the shape of a mosquito, turned her head away, and cried silently.

"I'm a beast," said Dick. "I beg your pardon, Jack dear. You are always a trump, I will say; but I don't see what you can do."

Then he told her all the story (which, of course, she knew perfectly well already), except the part played by the mosquito, of which he could not be aware.

"I was sure it was not so bad as you made it out, Dick," she said. "You see, the old king, who is not very wise, but is a perfectly honourable gentleman, gave you the highest praise." She thought of lecturing him a little about disobeying his father, but it did not seem a good opportunity. Besides, Jaqueline had been lectured herself lately, and had not enjoyed it.

"What am I to say to my mother?" Dick repeated.

"We must think of something to say," said Jaqueline.

"I can't tell my mother anything but the truth," Ricardo went on. "Here's my hand, how it does sting! and she must find out."

"I think I can cure it," said Jaqueline. "Didn't you say Prince Charles gave you his own sword?"

"Yes, there it is; but what has that to do with it?"

"Everything in the world to do with it, my dear Dick. How lucky it is that he gave it to you!"

And she ran to her own room, and brought a beautiful golden casket, which contained her medicines.

Taking out a small phial, marked (in letters of emerald):


the princess drew the bright sword, extracted a little of the ointment from the phial, and spread it on a soft silk handkerchief.

"What are you going to do with the sword?" asked Ricardo.

"Polish it a little," said Jaqueline, smiling, and she began gently to rub, with the salve, the point of the rapier.

As she did so, Ricardo's arm ceased to hurt, and the look of pain passed from his mouth.

"Why, I feel quite better!" he said. "I can use my hand as well as ever."

Then he took off the stained handkerchief, and, lo, there was not even a mark where the wound had been! For this was the famous Weapon Salve which you may read about in Sir Kenelm Digby, and which the Lady of Branxholme used, in The Lay of the Last Minstrel. But the secret of making it has long been lost, except in Pantouflia.

"You are the best girl in the world, Jaqueline," said Ricardo. "You may give me a kiss if you like; and I won't call you 'Jack,' or laugh at you for reading books, any more. There's something in books after all."

The princess did not take advantage of Dick's permission, but advised him to lie down and try to sleep.

"I say, though," he said, "what about my father?"

"The king need never be told anything about it," said Jaqueline, "need he?"

"Oh, that won't do! I tell my father everything; but then, I never had anything like this to tell him before. Don't you think, Jaqueline, you might break it to him? He's very fond of you. Just tell him what I told you; it's every word of it true, and he ought to know. He might see something about it in the Mercure de France."

This was the newspaper of the period.

"I don't think it will get into the papers," said Jaqueline, smiling. "Nobody could tell, except the king and the princes, and they have reasons for keeping it to themselves."

"I don't trust that younger one," said Dick, moodily; "I don't care for that young man. Anyway, my father must be told; and, if you won't, I must."

"Well, I'll tell him," said Jaqueline. "And now lie down till evening."

After dinner, in the conservatory, Jaqueline told King Prigio all about it.

His Majesty was very much moved.

"What extraordinary bad luck that family has!" he thought. "If I had not changed the rug, the merest accident, Prince Charles would have dined at St. James's to-night, and King George in Hanover. It was the very nearest thing!"

"This meddling with practical affairs will never do," he said aloud.

"Dick has had a lesson, sire," said the princess. "He says he'll never mix himself up with politics again, whatever happens. And he says he means to study all about them, for he feels frightfully ignorant, and, above all, he means to practise his fencing."

These remarks were not part of the conversation between Ricardo and Jaqueline, but she considered that Dick meant all this, and, really, he did.

"That is well, as far as it goes," said the king. "But, Jaqueline, about that mosquito?" for she had told him this part of the adventure. "That was a very convenient mosquito, though I don't know how Dick was able to observe it from any distance. I see your hand in that, my dear, and I am glad you can make such kind and wise use of the lessons of the good Fairy Paribanou. Jaqueline," he added solemnly, laying his hand on her head, "You have saved the honour of Pantouflia, which is dearer to me than life. Without your help, I tremble to think what might have occurred."

The princess blushed very much, and felt very happy.

"Now run away to the queen, my dear," said his Majesty, "I want to think things over."

He did think them over, and the more he thought the more he felt the inconvenience attending the possession of fairy things.

"An eclipse one day, as nearly as possible a revolution soon after!" he said to himself. "But for Jaqueline, Ricardo's conduct would have been blazed abroad, England would have been irritated. It is true she cannot get at Pantouflia very easily; we have no sea-coast, and we are surrounded by friendly countries. But it would have been a ticklish and discreditable position. I must really speak to Dick," which he did next morning after breakfast.

"You have broken my rules, Ricardo," he said. "True, there is no great harm done, and you have confessed frankly; but how am I to trust you any longer?"

"I'll give you my sacred word of honour, father, that I'll never meddle with politics again, or start on an expedition, without telling you. I have had enough of it. And I'll turn over a new leaf. I've learned to be ashamed of my ignorance; and I've sent for Francalanza, and I'll fence every day, and read like anything."

"Very good," said the king. "I believe you mean what you say. Now go to your fencing lesson."

"But, I say, father," cried Ricardo, "was it not strange about the magic carpet?"

"I told you not to trust to these things," said the king. "Some enchanter may have deprived it of its power, it may be worn out, someone may have substituted a common Persian rug; anything may happen. You must learn to depend on yourself. Now, be off with you, I'm busy. And remember, you don't stir without my permission."

The prince ran off, and presently the sounds of stamping feet and "un, deux; doublez, degagez, vite; contre de carte," and so forth, might be heard over a great part of the royal establishment.

CHAPTER VII. Prince Ricardo and an Old Enemy.

{The Yellow Dwarf: p123.jpg}

"There is one brute I wish I could get upsides with," said Ricardo, at breakfast one morning, his mouth full of sardine.

"Really, Ricardo, your language is most unprincely," said his august father; "I am always noticing it. You mean, I suppose, that there is one enemy of the human race whom you wish to abolish. What is the name of the doomed foe?"

"Well, he is the greatest villain in history," said Ricardo. "You must have read about him, sir, the Yellow Dwarf."

"Yes, I have certainly studied what is told us about him," said the king. "He is no favourite of mine."

"He is the only one, if you notice, sir, of all the scoundrels about whom our ancestors inform us, who escaped the doom which he richly merited at the sword of a good knight."

You may here remark that, since Dick took to his studies, he could speak, when he chose, like a printed book, which was by no means the case before.

"If you remember, sir, he polished off—I mean, he slew—the King of the Golden Mines and the beautiful, though frivolous, Princess Frutilla. All that the friendly Mermaid could do for them was to turn them into a pair of beautiful trees which intertwine their branches. Not much use in that, sir! And nothing was done to the scoundrel. He may be going on still; and, with your leave, I'll go and try a sword-thrust with him. Francalanza says I'm improving uncommon."

"You'll take the usual Sword of Sharpness," said his Majesty.

"What, sir, to a dwarf? Not I, indeed: a common small sword is good enough to settle him."

"They say he is very cunning of fence," said the king; "and besides, I have heard something of a diamond sword that he stole from the King of the Golden Mines."

"Very likely he has lost it or sold it, the shabby little miscreant; however, I'll risk it. And now I must make my preparations."

The king did not ask what they were; as a rule, they were simple. But, being in the shop of the optician that day, standing with his back to the door, he heard Dick come in and order a pair of rose-coloured spectacles, with which he was at once provided. The people of Pantouflia were accustomed to wear them, saying that they improved the complexions of ladies whom they met, and added cheerfulness to things in general.

"Just plain rose-coloured glass, Herr Spex," said Dick, "I'm not short- sighted."

"The boy is beginning to show some sense," said the king to himself, knowing the nature and the difficulties of the expedition.

Ricardo did not disguise his intention of taking with him a Dandie Dinmont terrier, named Pepper, and the king, who understood the motive of this precaution, silently approved.

"The lad has come to some purpose and forethought," the king said, and he gladly advanced a considerable sum for the purchase of crocodiles' eggs, which can rarely be got quite fresh. When Jaqueline had made the crocodiles' eggs, with millet-seed and sugar-candy, into a cake for the Dwarf's lions, Ricardo announced that his preparations were complete.

Not to be the mere slave of custom, he made this expedition on horseback, and the only magical thing he took with him was the Cap of Darkness (the one which would not work, but he did not know that), and this he put in his pocket for future use. With plenty of egg sandwiches and marmalade sandwiches, and cold minced-collop sandwiches, he pricked forth into the wilderness, making for the country inhabited by the Yellow Dwarf. The princess was glad he was riding, for she privately accompanied him in the disguise of a wasp; and a wasp, of course, could not have kept up with him in his Seven-league Boots.

"Hang that wops!" said Prince Ricardo several times, buffeting it with his pocket-handkerchief when it buzzed in his ear and round his horse's head.

{"Hang that wops!" said Prince Ricardo: p129.jpg}

Meanwhile, King Prigio had taken his precautions, which were perfectly simple. When he thought Ricardo was getting near the place, the king put on his Wishing Cap, sat down before the magic crystal ball, and kept his eye on the proceedings, being ready to wish the right thing to help Ricardo at the right moment. He left the window wide open, smoked his cigar, and seemed the pattern of a good and wise father watching the conduct of a promising son.

The prince rode and rode, sometimes taking up Pepper on his saddle; passing through forests, sleeping at lonely inns, fording rivers, till one day he saw that the air was becoming Yellow. He knew that this showed the neighbourhood of Jaunia, or Daunia, the country of the Yellow Dwarf. He therefore drew bridle, placed his rose-coloured spectacles on his nose and put spurs to his horse, for the yellow light of Jaunia makes people melancholy and cowardly. As he pricked on, his horse stumbled and nearly came on its nose. The prince noticed that a steel chain had been drawn across the road.

"What caitiff has dared!" he exclaimed, when his hat was knocked off by a well-aimed orange from a neighbouring orange-tree, and a vulgar voice squeaked:

"Hi, Blinkers!"

There was the Yellow Dwarf, an odious little figure, sitting sucking an orange in the tree, swinging his wooden shoes, and grinning all over his wrinkled face.

"Well, young Blinkers!" said the Dwarf, "what are you doing on my grounds? You're a prince, by your look. Yah! down with kings! I'm a man of the people!"

"You're a dwarf of the worst description, that's what you are," said Ricardo; "and let me catch you, and I'll flog the life out of you with my riding-whip!"

The very face of the Dwarf, even seen through rose-coloured spectacles, made him nearly ill.

"Yes, when you can catch me," said the Dwarf; "but that's not to-day, nor yet to-morrow. What are you doing here? Are you an ambassador, maybe come to propose a match for me? I'm not proud, I'll hear you. They say there's a rather well-looking wench in your parts, the Princess Jaqueline—"

"Mention that lady's name, you villain," cried Dick, "and I'll cut down your orange-tree!" and he wished he had brought the Sword of Sharpness, for you cannot prod down a tree with the point of a rapier.

"Fancy her yourself?" said the Dwarf, showing his yellow teeth with a detestable grin; while Ricardo turned quite white with anger, and not knowing how to deal with this insufferable little monster.

"I'm a widower, I am," said the Dwarf, "though I'm out of mourning," for he wore a dirty clay-coloured Yellow jacket. "My illustrious consort, the Princess Frutilla, did not behave very nice, and I had to avenge my honour; in fact, I'm open to any offers, however humble. Going at an alarming sacrifice! Come to my box" (and he pointed to a filthy clay cottage, all surrounded by thistles, nettles, and black boggy water), "and I'll talk over your proposals."

"Hold your impudent tongue!" said Dick. "The Princess Frutilla was an injured saint; and as for the lady whom I shall not name in your polluting presence, I am her knight, and I defy you to deadly combat!"

We may imagine how glad the princess was when (disguised as a wasp) she heard Dick say he was her knight; not that, in fact, he had thought of it before.

"Oh! you're for a fight, are you?" sneered the Dwarf. "I might tell you to hit one of your own weight, but I'm not afraid of six of you. Yah! mammy's brat! Look here, young Blinkers, I don't want to hurt you. Just turn old Dobbin's head, and trot back to your mammy, Queen Rosalind, at Pantouflia. Does she know you're out?"

"I'll be into you, pretty quick," said Ricardo. "But why do I bandy words with a miserable peasant?"

"And don't get much the best of them either," said the Dwarf, provokingly. "But I'll fight, if you will have it."

The prince leaped from his horse, leaving Pepper on the saddle-bow.

No sooner had he touched the ground than the Dwarf shouted:

"Hi! to him, Billy! to him, Daniel! at him, good lions, at him!" and, with an awful roar, two lions rushed from a neighbouring potato-patch and made for Ricardo. These were not ordinary lions, history avers, each having two heads, each being eight feet high, with four rows of teeth; their skins as hard as nails, and bright red, like morocco. {135}

The prince did not lose his presence of mind; hastily he threw the cake of crocodiles' eggs, millet-seed, and sugar-candy to the lions. This is a dainty which lions can never resist, and running greedily at it, with four tremendous snaps, they got hold of each other by their jaws, and their eight rows of teeth were locked fast in a grim and deadly struggle for existence!

The Dwarf took in the affair at a glance.

"Cursed be he who taught you this!" he cried, and then whistled in a shrill and vulgar manner on his very dirty fingers. At his call rushed up an enormous Spanish cat, ready saddled and bridled, and darting fire from its eyes. To leap on its back, while Ricardo sprang on his own steed, was to the active Dwarf the work of a moment. Then clapping spurs to its sides (his spurs grew naturally on his bare heels, horrible to relate, like a cock's spurs) and taking his cat by the head, the Dwarf forced it to leap on to Ricardo's saddle. The diamond sword which slew the king of the Golden Mines—that invincible sword which hews iron like a reed—was up and flashing in the air!

At this very moment King Prigio, seeing, in the magic globe, all that passed, and despairing of Ricardo's life, was just about to wish the dwarf at Jericho, when through the open window, with a tremendous whirr, came a huge vulture, and knocked the king's wishing cap off! Wishing was now of no use.

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