Full text of Rinkitnk in Oz
Wherein is recorded the Perilous Quest of Prince Inga of Pingaree and King Rinkitink in the Magical Isles that lie beyond the Borderland of Oz
By L. Frank Baum "Royal Historian of Oz"
Introducing this Story
Here is a story with a boy hero, and a boy of whom you have neverbefore heard. There are girls in the story, too, including our oldfriend Dorothy, and some of the characters wander a good way from theLand of Oz before they all assemble in the Emerald City to take part inOzma's banquet. Indeed, I think you will find this story quitedifferent from the other histories of Oz, but I hope you will not likeit the less on that account.
If I am permitted to write another Oz book it will tell of somethrilling adventures encountered by Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin, Trot and thePatchwork Girl right in the Land of Oz, and how they discovered someamazing creatures that never could have existed outside a fairy-land. Ihave an idea that about the time you are reading this story ofRinkitink I shall be writing that story of Adventures in Oz.
Don't fail to write me often and give me your advice and suggestions,which I always appreciate. I get a good many letters from my readers,but every one is a joy to me and I answer them as soon as I can findtime to do so.
"OZCOT" at HOLLYWOOD in CALIFORNIA, 1916.
L. FRANK BAUM Royal Historian of Oz
LIST OF CHAPTERS
1 The Prince of Pingaree 2 The Coming of King Rinkitink 3 The Warriors from the North 4 The Deserted Island 5 The Three Pearls 6 The Magic Boat 7 The Twin Islands 8 Rinkitink Makes a Great Mistake 9 A Present for Zella 10 The Cunning of Queen Cor 11 Zella Goes to Coregos 12 The Excitement of Bilbil the Goat 13 Zella Saves the Prince 14 The Escape 15 The Flight of the Rulers 16 Nikobob Refuses a Crown 17 The Nome King 18 Inga Parts With His Pink Pearl 19 Rinkitink Chuckles 20 Dorothy to the Rescue 21 The Wizard Finds an Enchantment 22 Ozma's Banquet 23 The Pearl Kingdom 24 The Captive King
The Prince of Pingaree
If you have a map of the Land of Oz handy, you will find that the greatNonestic Ocean washes the shores of the Kingdom of Rinkitink, betweenwhich and the Land of Oz lies a strip of the country of the Nome Kingand a Sandy Desert. The Kingdom of Rinkitink isn't very big and liesclose to the ocean, all the houses and the King's palace being builtnear the shore. The people live much upon the water, boating andfishing, and the wealth of Rinkitink is gained from trading along thecoast and with the islands nearest it.
Four days' journey by boat to the north of Rinkitink is the Island ofPingaree, and as our story begins here I must tell you something aboutthis island. At the north end of Pingaree, where it is widest, the landis a mile from shore to shore, but at the south end it is scarcely halfa mile broad; thus, although Pingaree is four miles long, from north tosouth, it cannot be called a very big island. It is exceedingly pretty,however, and to the gulls who approach it from the sea it must resemblea huge green wedge lying upon the waters, for its grass and trees giveit the color of an emerald.
The grass came to the edge of the sloping shores; the beautiful treesoccupied all the central portion of Pingaree, forming a continuousgrove where the branches met high overhead and there was just spacebeneath them for the cosy houses of the inhabitants. These houses werescattered everywhere throughout the island, so that there was no townor city, unless the whole island might be called a city. The canopy ofleaves, high overhead, formed a shelter from sun and rain, and thedwellers in the grove could all look past the straight tree-trunks andacross the grassy slopes to the purple waters of the Nonestic Ocean.
At the big end of the island, at the north, stood the royal palace ofKing Kitticut, the lord and ruler of Pingaree. It was a beautifulpalace, built entirely of snow-white marble and capped by domes ofburnished gold, for the King was exceedingly wealthy. All along thecoast of Pingaree were found the largest and finest pearls in the wholeworld.
These pearls grew within the shells of big oysters, and the peopleraked the oysters from their watery beds, sought out the milky pearlsand carried them dutifully to their King. Therefore, once every yearHis Majesty was able to send six of his boats, with sixty rowers andmany sacks of the valuable pearls, to the Kingdom of Rinkitink, wherethere was a city called Gilgad, in which King Rinkitink's palace stoodon a rocky headland and served, with its high towers, as a lighthouseto guide sailors to the harbor. In Gilgad the pearls from Pingaree werepurchased by the King's treasurer, and the boats went back to theisland laden with stores of rich merchandise and such supplies of foodas the people and the royal family of Pingaree needed.
The Pingaree people never visited any other land but that of Rinkitink,and so there were few other lands that knew there was such an island.To the southwest was an island called the Isle of Phreex, where theinhabitants had no use for pearls. And far north of Pingaree--six days'journey by boat, it was said--were twin islands named Regos andCoregos, inhabited by a fierce and warlike people.
Many years before this story really begins, ten big boatloads of thosefierce warriors of Regos and Coregos visited Pingaree, landing suddenlyupon the north end of the island. There they began to plunder andconquer, as was their custom, but the people of Pingaree, althoughneither so big nor so strong as their foes, were able to defeat themand drive them all back to the sea, where a great storm overtook theraiders from Regos and Coregos and destroyed them and their boats, nota single warrior returning to his own country.
This defeat of the enemy seemed the more wonderful because thepearl-fishers of Pingaree were mild and peaceful in disposition andseldom quarreled even among themselves. Their only weapons were theiroyster rakes; yet the fact remains that they drove their fierce enemiesfrom Regos and Coregos from their shores.
King Kitticut was only a boy when this remarkable battle was fought,and now his hair was gray; but he remembered the day well and, duringthe years that followed, his one constant fear was of another invasionof his enemies. He feared they might send a more numerous army to hisisland, both for conquest and revenge, in which case there could belittle hope of successfully opposing them.
This anxiety on the part of King Kitticut led him to keep a sharplookout for strange boats, one of his men patrolling the beachconstantly, but he was too wise to allow any fear to make him or hissubjects unhappy. He was a good King and lived very contentedly in hisfine palace, with his fair Queen Garee and their one child, Prince Inga.
The wealth of Pingaree increased year by year; and the happiness of thepeople increased, too. Perhaps there was no place, outside the Land ofOz, where contentment and peace were more manifest than on this prettyisland, hidden in the besom of the Nonestic Ocean. Had these conditionsremained undisturbed, there would have been no need to speak ofPingaree in this story.
Prince Inga, the heir to all the riches and the kingship of Pingaree,grew up surrounded by every luxury; but he was a manly little fellow,although somewhat too grave and thoughtful, and he could never bear tobe idle a single minute. He knew where the finest oysters lay hiddenalong the coast and was as successful in finding pearls as any of themen of the island, although he was so slight and small. He had a littleboat of his own and a rake for dragging up the oysters and he was veryproud indeed when he could carry a big white pearl to his father.
There was no school upon the island, as the people of Pingaree were farremoved from the state of civilization that gives our modern childrensuch advantages as schools and learned professors, but the King ownedseveral manuscript books, the pages being made of sheepskin. Being aman of intelligence, he was able to teach his son something of reading,writing and arithmetic.
When studying his lessons Prince Inga used to go into the grove nearhis father's palace and climb into the branches of a tall tree, wherehe had built a platform with a comfortable seat to rest upon, allhidden by the canopy of leaves. There, with no one to disturb him, hewould pore over the sheepskin on which were written the queercharacters of the Pingarese language.
King Kitticut was very proud of his little son, as well he might be,and he soon felt a high respect for Inga's judgment and thought that hewas worthy to be taken into the confidence of his father in manymatters of state. He taught the boy the needs of the people and how torule them justly, for some day he knew that Inga would be King in hisplace. One day he called his son to his side and said to him:
"Our island now seems peaceful enough, Inga, and we are happy andprosperous, but I cannot forget those terrible people of Regos andCoregos. My constant fear is that they will send a fleet of boats tosearch for those of their race whom we defeated many years ago, andwhom the sea afterwards destroyed. If the warriors come in greatnumbers we may be unable to oppose them, for my people are littletrained to fighting at best; they surely would cause us much injury andsuffering."
"Are we, then, less powerful than in my grandfather's day?" askedPrince Inga.
The King shook his head thoughtfully.
"It is not that," said he. "That you may fully understand thatmarvelous battle, I must confide to, you a great secret. I have in mypossession three Magic Talismans, which I have ever guarded with utmostcare, keeping the knowledge of their existence from anyone else. But,lest I should die, and the secret be lost, I have decided to tell youwhat these talismans are and where they are hidden. Come with me, myson."
He led the way through the rooms of the palace until they came to thegreat banquet hall. There, stopping in the center of the room, hestooped down and touched a hidden spring in the tiled floor. At onceone of the tiles sank downward and the King reached within the cavityand drew out a silken bag.
This bag he proceeded to open, showing Inga that it contained threegreat pearls, each one as big around as a marble. One had a blue tintand one was of a delicate rose color, but the third was pure white.
"These three pearls," said the King, speaking in a solemn, impressivevoice, "are the most wonderful the world has ever known. They weregifts to one of my ancestors from the Mermaid Queen, a powerful fairywhom he once had the good fortune to rescue from her enemies. Ingratitude for this favor she presented him with these pearls. Each ofthe three possesses an astonishing power, and whoever is their ownermay count himself a fortunate man. This one having the blue tint willgive to the person who carries it a strength so great that no power canresist him. The one with the pink glow will protect its owner from alldangers that may threaten him, no matter from what source they maycome. The third pearl--this one of pure white--can speak, and its wordsare always wise and helpful."
"What is this, my father!" exclaimed the Prince, amazed; "do you tellme that a pearl can speak? It sounds impossible."
"Your doubt is due to your ignorance of fairy powers," returned theKing, gravely. "Listen, my son, and you will know that I speak thetruth."
He held the white pearl to Inga's ear and the Prince heard a smallvoice say distinctly: "Your father is right. Never question the truthof what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders."
"I crave your pardon, dear father," said the Prince, "for clearly Iheard the pearl speak, and its words were full of wisdom."
"The powers of the other pearls are even greater," resumed the King."Were I poor in all else, these gems would make me richer than anyother monarch the world holds."
"I believe that," replied Inga, looking at the beautiful pearls withmuch awe. "But tell me, my father, why do you fear the warriors ofRegos and Coregos when these marvelous powers are yours?"
"The powers are mine only while I have the pearls upon my person,"answered King Kitticut, "and I dare not carry them constantly for fearthey might be lost. Therefore, I keep them safely hidden in thisrecess. My only danger lies in the chance that my watchmen might failto discover the approach of our enemies and allow the warrior invadersto seize me before I could secure the pearls. I should, in that case,be quite powerless to resist. My father owned the magic pearls at thetime of the Great Fight, of which you have so often heard, and the pinkpearl protected him from harm, while the blue pearl enabled him and hispeople to drive away the enemy. Often have I suspected that thedestroying storm was caused by the fairy mermaids, but that is a matterof which I have no proof."
"I have often wondered how we managed to win that battle," remarkedInga thoughtfully. "But the pearls will assist us in case the warriorscome again, will they not?"
"They are as powerful as ever," declared the King. "Really, my son, Ihave little to fear from any foe. But lest I die and the secret be lostto the next King, I have now given it into your keeping. Remember thatthese pearls are the rightful heritage of all Kings of Pingaree. If atany time I should be taken from you, Inga, guard this treasure well anddo not forget where it is hidden."
"I shall not forget," said Inga.
Then the King returned the pearls to their hiding place and the boywent to his own room to ponder upon the wonderful secret his father hadthat day confided to his care.
The Coming of King Rinkitink
A few days after this, on a bright and sunny morning when the breezeblew soft and sweet from the ocean and the trees waved their leaf-ladenbranches, the Royal Watchman, whose duty it was to patrol the shore,came running to the King with news that a strange boat was approachingthe island.
At first the King was sore afraid and made a step toward the hiddenpearls, but the next moment he reflected that one boat, even if filledwith enemies, would be powerless to injure him, so he curbed his fearand went down to the beach to discover who the strangers might be. Manyof the men of Pingaree assembled there also, and Prince Inga followedhis father. Arriving at the water's edge, they all stood gazing eagerlyat the oncoming boat.
It was quite a big boat, they observed, and covered with a canopy ofpurple silk, embroidered with gold. It was rowed by twenty men, ten oneach side. As it came nearer, Inga could see that in the stern, seatedupon a high, cushioned chair of state, was a little man who was so veryfat that he was nearly as broad as he was high This man was dressed ina loose silken robe of purple that fell in folds to his feet, whileupon his head was a cap of white velvet curiously worked with goldenthreads and having a circle of diamonds sewn around the band. At theopposite end of the boat stood an oddly shaped cage, and several largeboxes of sandalwood were piled near the center of the craft.
As the boat approached the shore the fat little man got upon his feetand bowed several times in the direction of those who had assembled togreet him, and as he bowed he flourished his white cap in an energeticmanner. His face was round as an apple and nearly as rosy. When hestopped bowing he smiled in such a sweet and happy way that Ingathought he must be a very jolly fellow.
The prow of the boat grounded on the beach, stopping its speed sosuddenly that the little man was caught unawares and nearly toppledheadlong into the sea. But he managed to catch hold of the chair withone hand and the hair of one of his rowers with the other, and sosteadied himself. Then, again waving his jeweled cap around his head,he cried in a merry voice:
"Well, here I am at last!"
"So I perceive," responded King Kitticut, bowing with much dignity.
The fat man glanced at all the sober faces before him and burst into arollicking laugh. Perhaps I should say it was half laughter and half achuckle of merriment, for the sounds he emitted were quaint and drolland tempted every hearer to laugh with him.
"Heh, heh--ho, ho, ho!" he roared. "Didn't expect me, I see.Keek-eek-eek-eek! This is funny--it's really funny. Didn't know I wascoming, did you? Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo! This is certainly amusing. But I'mhere, just the same."
"Hush up!" said a deep, growling voice. "You're making yourselfridiculous."
Everyone looked to see where this voice came from; but none could guesswho had uttered the words of rebuke. The rowers of the boat were allsolemn and silent and certainly no one on the shore had spoken. But thelittle man did not seem astonished in the least, or even annoyed.
King Kitticut now addressed the stranger, saying courteously:
"You are welcome to the Kingdom of Pingaree. Perhaps you will deign tocome ashore and at your convenience inform us whom we have the honor ofreceiving as a guest."
"Thanks; I will," returned the little fat man, waddling from his placein the boat and stepping, with some difficulty, upon the sandy beach."I am King Rinkitink, of the City of Gilgad in the Kingdom ofRinkitink, and I have come to Pingaree to see for myself the monarchwho sends to my city so many beautiful pearls. I have long wished tovisit this island; and so, as I said before, here I am!"
"I am pleased to welcome you," said King Kitticut. "But why has YourMajesty so few attendants? Is it not dangerous for the King of a greatcountry to make distant journeys in one frail boat, and with but twentymen?"
"Oh, I suppose so," answered King Rinkitink, with a laugh. "But whatelse could I do? My subjects would not allow me to go anywhere at all,if they knew it. So I just ran away."
"Ran away!" exclaimed King Kitticut in surprise.
"Funny, isn't it? Heh, heh, heh--woo, hoo!" laughed Rinkitink, and thisis as near as I can spell with letters the jolly sounds of hislaughter. "Fancy a King running away from his own ple--hoo, hoo--keek,eek, eek, eek! But I had to, don't you see!"
"Why?" asked the other King.
"They're afraid I'll get into mischief. They don't trust me.Keek-eek-eek--Oh, dear me! Don't trust their own King. Funny, isn't it?"
"No harm can come to you on this island," said Kitticut, pretending notto notice the odd ways of his guest. "And, whenever it pleases you toreturn to your own country, I will send with you a fitting escort of myown people. In the meantime, pray accompany me to my palace, whereeverything shall be done to make you comfortable and happy."
"Much obliged," answered Rinkitink, tipping his white cap over his leftear and heartily shaking the hand of his brother monarch. "I'm sure youcan make me comfortable if you've plenty to eat. And as for beinghappy--ha, ha, ha, ha!--why, that's my trouble. I'm too happy. Butstop! I've brought you some presents in those boxes. Please order yourmen to carry them up to the palace."
"Certainly," answered King Kitticut, well pleased, and at once he gavehis men the proper orders.
"And, by the way," continued the fat little King, "let them also takemy goat from his cage."
"A goat!" exclaimed the King of Pingaree.
"Exactly; my goat Bilbil. I always ride him wherever I go, for I'm notat all fond of walking, being a trifle stout--eh, Kitticut?--a triflestout! Hoo, hoo, hoo-keek, eek!"
The Pingaree people started to lift the big cage out of the boat, butjust then a gruff voice cried: "Be careful, you villains!" and as thewords seemed to come from the goat's mouth the men were so astonishedthat they dropped the cage upon the sand with a sudden jar.
"There! I told you so!" cried the voice angrily. "You've rubbed theskin off my left knee. Why on earth didn't you handle me gently?"
"There, there, Bilbil," said King Rinkitink soothingly; "don't scold,my boy. Remember that these are strangers, and we their guests." Thenhe turned to Kitticut and remarked: "You have no talking goats on yourisland, I suppose."
"We have no goats at all," replied the King; "nor have we any animals,of any sort, who are able to talk."
"I wish my animal couldn't talk, either," said Rinkitink, winkingcomically at Inga and then looking toward the cage. "He is very crossat times, and indulges in language that is not respectful. I thought,at first, it would be fine to have a talking goat, with whom I couldconverse as I rode about my city on his back;but--keek-eek-eek-eek!--the rascal treats me as if I were a chimneysweep instead of a King. Heh, heh, heh, keek, eek! A chimney sweep-hoo,hoo, hoo!--and me a King! Funny, isn't it?" This last was addressed toPrince Inga, whom he chucked familiarly under the chin, to the boy'sgreat embarrassment.
"Why do you not ride a horse?" asked King Kitticut.
"I can't climb upon his back, being rather stout; that's why. Kee, kee,keek, eek!--rather stout--hoo, hoo, hoo!" He paused to wipe the tearsof merriment from his eyes and then added: "But I can get on and offBilbil's back with ease."
He now opened the cage and the goat deliberately walked out and lookedabout him in a sulky manner. One of the rowers brought from the boat asaddle made of red velvet and beautifully embroidered with silverthistles, which he fastened upon the goat's back. The fat King put hisleg over the saddle and seated himself comfortably, saying:
"Lead on, my noble host, and we will follow."
"What! Up that steep hill?" cried the goat. "Get off my back at once,Rinkitink, or I won't budge a step.
"But-consider, Bilbil," remonstrated the King. "How am I to get up thathill unless I ride?"
"Walk!" growled Bilbil.
"But I'm too fat. Really, Bilbil, I'm surprised at you. Haven't Ibrought you all this distance so you may see something of the world andenjoy life? And now you are so ungrateful as to refuse to carry me!Turn about is fair play, my boy. The boat carried you to this shore,because you can't swim, and now you must carry me up the hill, becauseI can't climb. Eh, Bilbil, isn't that reasonable?"
"Well, well, well," said the goat, surlily, "keep quiet and I'll carryyou. But you make me very tired, Rinkitink, with your ceaselesschatter."
After making this protest Bilbil began walking up the hill, carryingthe fat King upon his back with no difficulty whatever.
Prince Inga and his father and all the men of Pingaree were muchastonished to overhear this dispute between King Rinkitink and hisgoat; but they were too polite to make critical remarks in the presenceof their guests. King Kitticut walked beside the goat and the Princefollowed after, the men coming last with the boxes of sandalwood.
When they neared the palace, the Queen and her maidens came out to meetthem and the royal guest was escorted in state to the splendid throneroom of the palace. Here the boxes were opened and King Rinkitinkdisplayed all the beautiful silks and laces and jewelry with which theywere filled. Every one of the courtiers and ladies received a handsomepresent, and the King and Queen had many rich gifts and Inga not a few.Thus the time passed pleasantly until the Chamberlain announced thatdinner was served.
Bilbil the goat declared that he preferred eating of the sweet, richgrass that grew abundantly in the palace grounds, and Rinkitink saidthat the beast could never bear being shut up in a stable; so theyremoved the saddle from his back and allowed him to wander wherever hepleased.
During the dinner Inga divided his attention between admiring thepretty gifts he had received and listening to the jolly sayings of thefat King, who laughed when he was not eating and ate when he was notlaughing and seemed to enjoy himself immensely.
"For four days I have lived in that narrow boat," said he, "with noother amusement than to watch the rowers and quarrel with Bilbil; so Iam very glad to be on land again with such friendly and agreeablepeople."
"You do us great honor," said King Kitticut, with a polite bow.
"Not at all--not at all, my brother. This Pingaree must be a wonderfulisland, for its pearls are the admiration of all the world; nor will Ideny the fact that my kingdom would be a poor one without the richesand glory it derives from the trade in your pearls. So I have wishedfor many years to come here to see you, but my people said: 'No! Stayat home and behave yourself, or we'll know the reason why.'"
"Will they not miss Your Majesty from your palace at Gilgad?" inquiredKitticut.
"I think not," answered Rinkitink. "You see, one of my clever subjectshas written a parchment entitled 'How to be Good,' and I believed itwould benefit me to study it, as I consider the accomplishment of beinggood one of the fine arts. I had just scolded severely my Lord HighChancellor for coming to breakfast without combing his eyebrows, andwas so sad and regretful at having hurt the poor man's feelings that Idecided to shut myself up in my own room and study the scroll until Iknew how to be good--hee, heek, keek, eek, eek!--to be good! Cleveridea, that, wasn't it? Mighty clever! And I issued a decree that no oneshould enter my room, under pain of my royal displeasure, until I wasready to come out. They're awfully afraid of my royal displeasure,although not a bit afraid of me. Then I put the parchment in my pocketand escaped through the back door to my boat--and here I am. Oo,hoo-hoo, keek-eek! Imagine the fuss there would be in Gilgad if mysubjects knew where I am this very minute!"
"I would like to see that parchment," said the solemn-eyed Prince Inga,"for if it indeed teaches one to be good it must be worth its weight inpearls."
"Oh, it's a fine essay," said Rinkitink, "and beautifully written witha goosequill. Listen to this: You'll enjoy it--tee, hee, hee!--enjoyit."
He took from his pocket a scroll of parchment tied with a black ribbon,and having carefully unrolled it, he proceeded to read as follows:
"'A Good Man is One who is Never Bad.' How's that, eh? Fine thought,what? 'Therefore, in order to be Good, you must avoid those Thingswhich are Evil.' Oh, hoo-hoo-hoo!--how clever! When I get back I shallmake the man who wrote that a royal hippolorum, for, beyond question,he is the wisest man in my kingdom--as he has often told me himself."With this, Rinkitink lay back in his chair and chuckled his queerchuckle until he coughed, and coughed until he choked and choked untilhe sneezed. And he wrinkled his face in such a jolly, droll way thatfew could keep from laughing with him, and even the good Queen wasforced to titter behind her fan.
When Rinkitink had recovered from his fit of laughter and had wiped hiseyes upon a fine lace handkerchief, Prince Inga said to him:
"The parchment speaks truly."
"Yes, it is true beyond doubt," answered Rinkitink, "and if I couldpersuade Bilbil to read it he would be a much better goat than he isnow. Here is another selection: 'To avoid saying Unpleasant Things,always Speak Agreeably.' That would hit Bilbil, to a dot. And here isone that applies to you, my Prince: 'Good Children are seldom punished,for the reason that they deserve no punishment.' Now, I think that isneatly put, and shows the author to be a deep thinker. But the advicethat has impressed me the most is in the following paragraph: 'You maynot find it as Pleasant to be Good as it is to be Bad, but Other Peoplewill find it more Pleasant.' Haw-hoo-ho! keek-eek! 'Other people willfind it more pleasant!'--hee, hee, heek, keek!--'more pleasant.' Dearme--dear me! Therein lies a noble incentive to be good, and whenever Iget time I'm surely going to try it."
Then he wiped his eyes again with the lace handkerchief and, suddenlyremembering his dinner, seized his knife and fork and began eating.
The Warriors from the North
King Rinkitink was so much pleased with the Island of Pingaree that hecontinued his stay day after day and week after week, eating gooddinners, talking with King Kitticut and sleeping. Once in a while hewould read from his scroll. "For," said he, "whenever I return home, mysubjects will be anxious to know if I have learned 'How to be Good,'and I must not disappoint them."
The twenty rowers lived on the small end of the island, with the pearlfishers, and seemed not to care whether they ever returned to theKingdom of Rinkitink or not. Bilbil the goat wandered over the grassyslopes, or among the trees, and passed his days exactly as he pleased.His master seldom cared to ride him. Bilbil was a rare curiosity to theislanders, but since there was little pleasure in talking with the goatthey kept away from him. This pleased the creature, who seemed wellsatisfied to be left to his own devices.
Once Prince Inga, wishing to be courteous, walked up to the goat andsaid: "Good morning, Bilbil."
"It isn't a good morning," answered Bilbil grumpily. "It is cloudy anddamp, and looks like rain."
"I hope you are contented in our kingdom," continued the boy, politelyignoring the other's harsh words.
"I'm not," said Bilbil. "I'm never contented; so it doesn't matter tome whether I'm in your kingdom or in some other kingdom. Go away--willyou?"
"Certainly," answered the Prince, and after this rebuff he did notagain try to make friends with Bilbil.
Now that the King, his father, was so much occupied with his royalguest, Inga was often left to amuse himself, for a boy could not beallowed to take part in the conversation of two great monarchs. Hedevoted himself to his studies, therefore, and day after day he climbedinto the branches of his favorite tree and sat for hours in his"tree-top rest," reading his father's precious manuscripts and thinkingupon what he read.
You must not think that Inga was a molly-coddle or a prig, because hewas so solemn and studious. Being a King's son and heir to a throne, hecould not play with the other boys of Pingaree, and he lived so much inthe society of the King and Queen, and was so surrounded by the pompand dignity of a court, that he missed all the jolly times that boysusually have. I have no doubt that had he been able to live as otherboys do, he would have been much like other boys; as it was, he wassubdued by his surroundings, and more grave and thoughtful than one ofhis years should be.
Inga was in his tree one morning when, without warning, a great fogenveloped the Island of Pingaree. The boy could scarcely see the treenext to that in which he sat, but the leaves above him prevented thedampness from wetting him, so he curled himself up in his seat and fellfast asleep.
All that forenoon the fog continued. King Kitticut, who sat in hispalace talking with his merry visitor, ordered the candles lighted,that they might be able to see one another. The good Queen, Inga'smother, found it was too dark to work at her embroidery, so she calledher maidens together and told them wonderful stories of bygone days, inorder to pass away the dreary hours.
But soon after noon the weather changed. The dense fog rolled away likea heavy cloud and suddenly the sun shot his bright rays over the island.
"Very good!" exclaimed King Kitticut. "We shall have a pleasantafternoon, I am sure," and he blew out the candles.
Then he stood a moment motionless, as if turned to stone, for aterrible cry from without the palace reached his ears--a cry so full offear and horror that the King's heart almost stopped beating.Immediately there was a scurrying of feet as every one in the palace,filled with dismay, rushed outside to see what had happened. Even fatlittle Rinkitink sprang from his chair and followed his host and theothers through the arched vestibule.
After many years the worst fears of King Kitticut were realized.
Landing upon the beach, which was but a few steps from the palaceitself, were hundreds of boats, every one filled with a throng offierce warriors. They sprang upon the land with wild shouts of defianceand rushed to the King's palace, waving aloft their swords and spearsand battleaxes.
King Kitticut, so completely surprised that he was bewildered, gazed atthe approaching host with terror and grief.
"They are the men of Regos and Coregos!" he groaned. "We are, indeed,lost!"
Then he bethought himself, for the first time, of his wonderful pearls.Turning quickly, he ran back into the palace and hastened to the hallwhere the treasures were hidden. But the leader of the warriors hadseen the King enter the palace and bounded after him, thinking he meantto escape. Just as the King had stooped to press the secret spring inthe tiles, the warrior seized him from the rear and threw him backwardupon the floor, at the same time shouting to his men to fetch ropes andbind the prisoner. This they did very quickly and King Kitticut soonfound himself helplessly bound and in the power of his enemies. In thissad condition he was lifted by the warriors and carried outside, whenthe good King looked upon a sorry sight.
The Queen and her maidens, the officers and servants of the royalhousehold and all who had inhabited this end of the Island of Pingareehad been seized by the invaders and bound with ropes. At once theybegan carrying their victims to the boats, tossing them in asunceremoniously as if they had been bales of merchandise.
The King looked around for his son Inga, but failed to find the boyamong the prisoners. Nor was the fat King, Rinkitink, to be seenanywhere about.
The warriors were swarming over the palace like bees in a hive, seekinganyone who might be in hiding, and after the search had been prolongedfor some time the leader asked impatiently: "Do you find anyone else?"
"No," his men told him. "We have captured them all."
"Then," commanded the leader, "remove everything of value from thepalace and tear down its walls and towers, so that not one stoneremains upon another!"
While the warriors were busy with this task we will return to the boyPrince, who, when the fog lifted and the sun came out, wakened from hissleep and began to climb down from his perch in the tree. But theterrifying cries of the people, mingled with the shouts of the rudewarriors, caused him to pause and listen eagerly.
Then he climbed rapidly up the tree, far above his platform, to thetopmost swaying branches. This tree, which Inga called his own, wassomewhat taller than the other trees that surrounded it, and when hehad reached the top he pressed aside the leaves and saw a great fleetof boats upon the shore--strange boats, with banners that he had neverseen before. Turning to look upon his father's palace, he found itsurrounded by a horde of enemies. Then Inga knew the truth: that tileisland had been invaded by the barbaric warriors from the north. Hegrew so faint from the terror of it all that he might have fallen hadhe not wound his arms around a limb and clung fast until the dizzyfeeling passed away. Then with his sash he bound himself to the limband again ventured to look out through the leaves.
The warriors were now engaged in carrying King Kitticut and Queen Gareeand all their other captives down to the boats, where they were thrownin and chained one to another. It was a dreadful sight for the Princeto witness, but he sat very still, concealed from the sight of anyonebelow by the bower of leafy branches around him. Inga knew very wellthat he could do nothing to help his beloved parents, and that if hecame down he would only be forced to share their cruel fate.
Now a procession of the Northmen passed between the boats and thepalace, bearing the rich furniture, splendid draperies and rareornaments of which the royal palace had been robbed, together with suchfood and other plunder as they could lay their hands upon. After this,the men of Regos and Coregos threw ropes around the marble domes andtowers and hundreds of warriors tugged at these ropes until the domesand towers toppled and fell in ruins upon the ground. Then the wallsthemselves were torn down, till little remained of the beautiful palacebut a vast heap of white marble blocks tumbled and scattered upon theground.
Prince Inga wept bitter tears of grief as he watched the ruin of hishome; yet he was powerless to avert the destruction. When the palacehad been demolished, some of the warriors entered their boats and rowedalong the coast of the island, while the others marched in a great bodydown the length of the island itself. They were so numerous that theyformed a line stretching from shore to shore and they destroyed everyhouse they came to and took every inhabitant prisoner.
The pearl fishers who lived at the lower end of the island tried toescape in their boats, but they were soon overtaken and made prisoners,like the others. Nor was there any attempt to resist the foe, for thesharp spears and pikes and swords of the invaders terrified the heartsof the defenseless people of Pingaree, whose sole weapons were theiroyster rakes.
When night fell the whole of the Island of Pingaree had been conqueredby the men of the North, and all its people were slaves of theconquerors. Next morning the men of Regos and Coregos, being capable ofno further mischief, departed from the scene of their triumph, carryingtheir prisoners with them and taking also every boat to be found uponthe island. Many of the boats they had filled with rich plunder, withpearls and silks and velvets, with silver and gold ornaments and allthe treasure that had made Pingaree famed as one of the richestkingdoms in the world. And the hundreds of slaves they had capturedwould be set to work in the mines of Regos and the grain fields ofCoregos.
So complete was the victory of the Northmen that it is no wonder thewarriors sang songs of triumph as they hastened back to their homes.Great rewards were awaiting them when they showed the haughty King ofRegos and the terrible Queen of Coregos the results of their ocean raidand conquest.
The Deserted Island
All through that terrible night Prince Inga remained hidden in histree. In the morning he watched the great fleet of boats depart fortheir own country, carrying his parents and his countrymen with them,as well as everything of value the Island of Pingaree had contained.
Sad, indeed, were the boy's thoughts when the last of the boats hadbecome a mere speck in the distance, but Inga did not dare leave hisperch of safety until all of the craft of the invaders had disappearedbeyond the horizon. Then he came down, very slowly and carefully, forhe was weak from hunger and the long and weary watch, as he had been inthe tree for twenty-four hours without food.
The sun shone upon the beautiful green isle as brilliantly as if noruthless invader had passed and laid it in ruins. The birds stillchirped among the trees and the butterflies darted from flower toflower as happily as when the land was filled with a prosperous andcontented people.
Inga feared that only he was left of all his nation. Perhaps he mightbe obliged to pass his life there alone. He would not starve, for thesea would give him oysters and fish, and the trees fruit; yet the lifethat confronted him was far from enticing.
The boy's first act was to walk over to where the palace had stood andsearch the ruins until he found some scraps of food that had beenoverlooked by the enemy. He sat upon a block of marble and ate of this,and tears filled his eyes as he gazed upon the desolation around him.But Inga tried to bear up bravely, and having satisfied his hunger hewalked over to the well, intending to draw a bucket of drinking water.
Fortunately, this well had been overlooked by the invaders and thebucket was still fastened to the chain that wound around a stout woodenwindlass. Inga took hold of the crank and began letting the bucket downinto the well, when suddenly he was startled by a muffled voice cryingout:
"Be careful, up there!"
The sound and the words seemed to indicate that the voice came from thebottom of the well, so Inga looked down. Nothing could be seen, onaccount of the darkness.
"Who are you?" he shouted.
"It's I--Rinkitink," came the answer, and the depths of the wellechoed: "Tink-i-tink-i-tink!" in a ghostly manner.
"Are you in the well?" asked the boy, greatly surprised.
"Yes, and nearly drowned. I fell in while running from those terriblewarriors, and I've been standing in this damp hole ever since, with myhead just above the water. It's lucky the well was no deeper, for hadmy head been under water, instead of above it--hoo, hoo, hoo, keek,eek!--under instead of over, you know--why, then I wouldn't be talkingto you now! Ha, hoo, hee!" And the well dismally echoed: "Ha, hoo,hee!" which you must imagine was a laugh half merry and half sad.
"I'm awfully sorry," cried the boy, in answer. "I wonder you have theheart to laugh at all. But how am I to get you out?"
"I've been considering that all night," said Rinkitink, "and I believethe best plan will be for you to let down the bucket to me, and I'llhold fast to it while you wind up the chain and so draw me to the top."
"I will try to do that," replied Inga, and he let the bucket down verycarefully until he heard the King call out:
"I've got it! Now pull me up--slowly, my boy, slowly--so I won't rubagainst the rough sides."
Inga began winding up the chain, but King Rinkitink was so fat that hewas very heavy and by the time the boy had managed to pull him halfwayup the well his strength was gone. He clung to the crank as long aspossible, but suddenly it slipped from his grasp and the next minute heheard Rinkitink fall "plump!" into the water again.
"That's too bad!" called Inga, in real distress; "but you were so heavyI couldn't help it."
"Dear me!" gasped the King, from the darkness below, as he splutteredand coughed to get the water out of his mouth. "Why didn't you tell meyou were going to let go?"
"I hadn't time," said Inga, sorrowfully.
"Well, I'm not suffering from thirst," declared the King, "for there'senough water inside me to float all the boats of Regos and Coregos orat least it feels that way. But never mind! So long as I'm not actuallydrowned, what does it matter?"
"What shall we do next?" asked the boy anxiously.
"Call someone to help you," was the reply.
"There is no one on the island but myself," said the boy; "--exceptingyou," he added, as an afterthought.
"I'm not on it--more's the pity!--but in it," responded Rinkitink. "Arethe warriors all gone?"
"Yes," said Inga, "and they have taken my father and mother, and allour people, to be their slaves," he added, trying in vain to repress asob.
"So--so!" said Rinkitink softly; and then he paused a moment, as if inthought. Finally he said: "There are worse things than slavery, but Inever imagined a well could be one of them. Tell me, Inga, could youlet down some food to me? I'm nearly starved, and if you could manageto send me down some food I'd be well fed--hoo, hoo, heek, keek,eek!--well fed. Do you see the joke, Inga?"
"Do not ask me to enjoy a joke just now, Your Majesty," begged Inga ina sad voice; "but if you will be patient I will try to find somethingfor you to eat."
He ran back to the ruins of the palace and began searching for bits offood with which to satisfy the hunger of the King, when to his surprisehe observed the goat, Bilbil, wandering among the marble blocks.
"What!" cried Inga. "Didn't the warriors get you, either?"
"If they had," calmly replied Bilbil, "I shouldn't be here."
"But how did you escape?" asked the boy.
"Easily enough. I kept my mouth shut and stayed away from the rascals,"said the goat. "I knew that the soldiers would not care for a skinnyold beast like me, for to the eye of a stranger I seem good fornothing. Had they known I could talk, and that my head contained morewisdom than a hundred of their own noddles, I might not have escaped soeasily."
"Perhaps you are right," said the boy.
"I suppose they got the old man?" carelessly remarked Bilbil.
"What old man?"
"Oh, no! His Majesty is at the bottom of the well," said Inga, "and Idon't know how to get him out again."
"Then let him stay there," suggested the goat.
"That would be cruel. I am sure, Bilbil, that you are fond of the goodKing, your master, and do not mean what you say. Together, let us findsome way to save poor King Rinkitink. He is a very jolly companion, andhas a heart exceedingly kind and gentle."
"Oh, well; the old boy isn't so bad, taken altogether," admittedBilbil, speaking in a more friendly tone. "But his bad jokes and fatlaughter tire me dreadfully, at times."
Prince Inga now ran back to the well, the goat following more leisurely.
"Here's Bilbil!" shouted the boy to the King. "The enemy didn't gethim, it seems."
"That's lucky for the enemy," said Rinkitink. "But it's lucky for me,too, for perhaps the beast can assist me out of this hole. If you canlet a rope down the well, I am sure that you and Bilbil, pullingtogether, will be able to drag me to the earth's surface."
"Be patient and we will make the attempt," replied Inga encouragingly,and he ran to search the ruins for a rope. Presently he found one thathad been used by the warriors in toppling over the towers, which intheir haste they had neglected to remove, and with some difficulty heuntied the knots and carried the rope to the mouth of the well.
Bilbil had lain down to sleep and the refrain of a merry song came inmuffled tones from the well, proving that Rinkitink was making apatient endeavor to amuse himself.
"I've found a rope!" Inga called down to him; and then the boyproceeded to make a loop in one end of the rope, for the King to puthis arms through, and the other end he placed over the drum of thewindlass. He now aroused Bilbil and fastened the rope firmly around thegoat's shoulders.
"Are you ready?" asked the boy, leaning over the well.
"I am," replied the King.
"And I am not," growled the goat, "for I have not yet had my nap out.Old Rinki will be safe enough in the well until I've slept an hour ortwo longer."
"But it is damp in the well," protested the boy, "and King Rinkitinkmay catch the rheumatism, so that he will have to ride upon your backwherever he goes."
Hearing this, Bilbil jumped up at once.
"Let's get him out," he said earnestly.
"Hold fast!" shouted Inga to the King. Then he seized the rope andhelped Bilbil to pull. They soon found the task more difficult thanthey had supposed. Once or twice the King's weight threatened to dragboth the boy and the goat into the well, to keep Rinkitink company. Butthey pulled sturdily, being aware of this danger, and at last the Kingpopped out of the hole and fell sprawling full length upon the ground.
For a time he lay panting and breathing hard to get his breath back,while Inga and Bilbil were likewise worn out from their long strain atthe rope; so the three rested quietly upon the grass and looked at oneanother in silence.
Finally Bilbil said to the King: "I'm surprised at you. Why were you sofoolish as to fall down that well? Don't you know it's a dangerousthing to do? You might have broken your neck in the fall, or beendrowned in the water."
"Bilbil," replied the King solemnly, "you're a goat. Do you imagine Ifell down the well on purpose?"
"I imagine nothing," retorted Bilbil. "I only know you were there."
"There? Heh-heh-heek-keek-eek! To be sure I was there," laughedRinkitink. "There in a dark hole, where there was no light; there in awatery well, where the wetness soaked me through andthrough--keek-eek-eek-eek!--through and through!"
"How did it happen?" inquired Inga.
"I was running away from the enemy," explained the King, "and I wascarelessly looking over my shoulder at the same time, to see if theywere chasing me. So I did not see the well, but stepped into it andfound myself tumbling down to the bottom. I struck the water veryneatly and began struggling to keep myself from drowning, but presentlyI found that when I stood upon my feet on the bottom of the well, thatmy chin was just above the water. So I stood still and yelled for help;but no one heard me."
"If the warriors had heard you," said Bilbil, "they would have pulledyou out and carried you away to be a slave. Then you would have beenobliged to work for a living, and that would be a new experience."
"Work!" exclaimed Rinkitink. "Me work? Hoo, hoo, heek-keek-eek! Howabsurd! I'm so stout--not to say chubby--not to say fat--that I canhardly walk, and I couldn't earn my salt at hard work. So I'm glad theenemy did not find me, Bilbil. How many others escaped?"
"That I do not know," replied the boy, "for I have not yet had time tovisit the other parts of the island. When you have rested and satisfiedyour royal hunger, it might be well for us to look around and see whatthe thieving warriors of Regos and Coregos have left us."
"An excellent idea," declared Rinkitink. "I am somewhat feeble from mylong confinement in the well, but I can ride upon Bilbil's back and wemay as well start at once."
Hearing this, Bilbil cast a surly glance at his master but saidnothing, since it was really the goat's business to carry KingRinkitink wherever he desired to go.
They first searched the ruins of the palace, and where the kitchen hadonce been they found a small quantity of food that had been half hiddenby a block of marble. This they carefully placed in a sack to preserveit for future use, the little fat King having first eaten as much as hecared for. This consumed some time, for Rinkitink had been exceedinglyhungry and liked to eat in a leisurely manner. When he had finished themeal he straddled Bilbil's back and set out to explore the island,Prince Inga walking by his side.
They found on every hand ruin and desolation. The houses of the peoplehad been pilfered of all valuables and then torn down or burned. Not aboat had been left upon the shore, nor was there a single person, manor woman or child, remaining upon the island, save themselves. The onlyinhabitants of Pingaree now consisted of a fat little King, a boy and agoat.
Even Rinkitink, merry hearted as he was, found it hard to laugh in theface of this mighty disaster. Even the goat, contrary to its usualhabit, refrained from saying anything disagreeable. As for the poor boywhose home was now a wilderness, the tears came often to his eyes as hemarked the ruin of his dearly loved island.
When, at nightfall, they reached the lower end of Pingaree and found itswept as bare as the rest, Inga's grief was almost more than he couldbear. Everything had been swept from him--parents, home and country--inso brief a time that his bewilderment was equal to his sorrow.
Since no house remained standing, in which they might sleep, the threewanderers crept beneath the overhanging branches of a cassa tree andcurled themselves up as comfortably as possible. So tired and exhaustedwere they by the day's anxieties and griefs that their troubles soonfaded into the mists of dreamland. Beast and King and boy slumberedpeacefully together until wakened by the singing of the birds whichgreeted the dawn of a new day.
The Three Pearls
When King Rinkitink and Prince Inga had bathed themselves in the seaand eaten a simple breakfast, they began wondering what they could doto improve their condition.
"The poor people of Gilgad," said Rinkitink cheerfully, "are littlelikely ever again to behold their King in the flesh, for my boat and myrowers are gone with everything else. Let us face the fact that we areimprisoned for life upon this island, and that our lives will be shortunless we can secure more to eat than is in this small sack."
"I'll not starve, for I can eat grass," remarked the goat in a pleasanttone--or a tone as pleasant as Bilbil could assume.
"True, quite true," said the King. Then he seemed thoughtful for amoment and turning to Inga he asked: "Do you think, Prince, that if theworst comes, we could eat Bilbil?"
The goat gave a groan and cast a reproachful look at his master as hesaid:
"Monster! Would you, indeed, eat your old friend and servant?"
"Not if I can help it, Bilbil," answered the King pleasantly. "Youwould make a remarkably tough morsel, and my teeth are not as good asthey once were."
While this talk was in progress Inga suddenly remembered the threepearls which his father had hidden under the tiled floor of the banquethall. Without doubt King Kitticut had been so suddenly surprised by theinvaders that he had found no opportunity to get the pearls, forotherwise the fierce warriors would have been defeated and driven outof Pingaree. So they must still be in their hiding place, and Ingabelieved they would prove of great assistance to him and his comradesin this hour of need. But the palace was a mass of ruins; perhaps hewould be unable now to find the place where the pearls were hidden.
He said nothing of this to Rinkitink, remembering that his father hadcharged him to preserve the secret of the pearls and of their magicpowers. Nevertheless, the thought of securing the wonderful treasuresof his ancestors gave the boy new hope.
He stood up and said to the King:
"Let us return to the other end of Pingaree. It is more pleasant thanhere in spite of the desolation of my father's palace. And there, ifanywhere, we shall discover a way out of our difficulties."
This suggestion met with Rinkitink's approval and the little party atonce started upon the return journey. As there was no occasion to delayupon the way, they reached the big end of the island about the middleof the day and at once began searching the ruins of the palace.
They found, to their satisfaction, that one room at the bottom of atower was still habitable, although the roof was broken in and theplace was somewhat littered with stones. The King was, as he said, toofat to do any hard work, so he sat down on a block of marble andwatched Inga clear the room of its rubbish. This done, the boy huntedthrough the ruins until he discovered a stool and an armchair that hadnot been broken beyond use. Some bedding and a mattress were alsofound, so that by nightfall the little room had been made quitecomfortable.
The following morning, while Rinkitink was still sound asleep andBilbil was busily cropping the dewy grass that edged the shore, PrinceInga began to search the tumbled heaps of marble for the place wherethe royal banquet hall had been. After climbing over the ruins for atime he reached a flat place which he recognized, by means of the tiledflooring and the broken furniture scattered about, to be the great hallhe was seeking. But in the center of the floor, directly over the spotwhere the pearls were hidden, lay several large and heavy blocks ofmarble, which had been torn from the dismantled walls.
This unfortunate discovery for a time discouraged the boy, who realizedhow helpless he was to remove such vast obstacles; but it was soimportant to secure the pearls that he dared not give way to despairuntil every human effort had been made, so he sat him down to thinkover the matter with great care.
Meantime Rinkitink had risen from his bed and walked out upon the lawn,where he found Bilbil reclining at ease upon the greensward.
"Where is Inga?" asked Rinkitink, rubbing his eyes with his knucklesbecause their vision was blurred with too much sleep.
"Don't ask me," said the goat, chewing with much satisfaction a cud ofsweet grasses.
"Bilbil," said the King, squatting down beside the goat and resting hisfat chin upon his hands and his elbows on his knees, "allow me toconfide to you the fact that I am bored, and need amusement. My goodfriend Kitticut has been kidnapped by the barbarians and taken from me,so there is no one to converse with me intelligently. I am the King andyou are the goat. Suppose you tell me a story.
"Suppose I don't," said Bilbil, with a scowl, for a goat's face is veryexpressive.
"If you refuse, I shall be more unhappy than ever, and I know yourdisposition is too sweet to permit that. Tell me a story, Bilbil."
The goat looked at him with an expression of scorn. Said he:
"One would think you are but four years old, Rinkitink! But there--Iwill do as you command. Listen carefully, and the story may do you somegood--although I doubt if you understand the moral."
"I am sure the story will do me good," declared the King, whose eyeswere twinkling.
"Once on a time," began the goat.
"When was that, Bilbil?" asked the King gently.
"Don't interrupt; it is impolite. Once on a time there was a King witha hollow inside his head, where most people have their brains, and--"
"Is this a true story, Bilbil?"
"And the King with a hollow head could chatter words, which had nosense, and laugh in a brainless manner at senseless things. That partof the story is true enough, Rinkitink."
"Then proceed with the tale, sweet Bilbil. Yet it is hard to believethat any King could be brainless--unless, indeed, he proved it byowning a talking goat."
Bilbil glared at him a full minute in silence. Then he resumed hisstory:
"This empty-headed man was a King by accident, having been born to thathigh station. Also the King was empty-headed by the same chance, beingborn without brains."
"Poor fellow!" quoth the King. "Did he own a talking goat?"
"He did," answered Bilbil.
"Then he was wrong to have been born at all. Cheek-eek-eek-eek, oo,hoo!" chuckled Rinkitink, his fat body shaking with merriment. "Butit's hard to prevent oneself from being born; there's no chance forprotest, eh, Bilbil?"
"Who is telling this story, I'd like to know," demanded the goat, withanger.
"Ask someone with brains, my boy; I'm sure I can't tell," replied theKing, bursting into one of his merry fits of laughter.
Bilbil rose to his hoofs and walked away in a dignified manner, leavingRinkitink chuckling anew at the sour expression of the animal's face.
"Oh, Bilbil, you'll be the death of me, some day--I'm sure you will!"gasped the King, taking out his lace handkerchief to wipe his eyes;for, as he often did, he had laughed till the tears came.
Bilbil was deeply vexed and would not even turn his head to look at hismaster. To escape from Rinkitink he wandered among the ruins of thepalace, where he came upon Prince Inga.
"Good morning, Bilbil," said the boy. "I was just going to find you,that I might consult you upon an important matter. If you will kindlyturn back with me I am sure your good judgment will be of greatassistance."
The angry goat was quite mollified by the respectful tone in which hewas addressed, but he immediately asked:
"Are you also going to consult that empty-headed King over yonder?"
"I am sorry to hear you speak of your kind master in such a way," saidthe boy gravely. "All men are deserving of respect, being the highestof living creatures, and Kings deserve respect more than others, forthey are set to rule over many people."
"Nevertheless," said Bilbil with conviction, "Rinkitink's head iscertainly empty of brains."
"That I am unwilling to believe," insisted Inga. "But anyway his heartis kind and gentle and that is better than being wise. He is merry inspite of misfortunes that would cause others to weep and he neverspeaks harsh words that wound the feelings of his friends."
"Still," growled Bilbil, "he is--"
"Let us forget everything but his good nature, which puts new heartinto us when we are sad," advised the boy.
"But he is--"
"Come with me, please," interrupted Inga, "for the matter of which Iwish to speak is very important."
Bilbil followed him, although the boy still heard the goat mutteringthat the King had no brains. Rinkitink, seeing them turn into theruins, also followed, and upon joining them asked for his breakfast.
Inga opened the sack of food and while he and the King ate of it theboy said:
"If I could find a way to remove some of the blocks of marble whichhave fallen in the banquet hall, I think I could find means for us toescape from this barren island."
"Then," mumbled Rinkitink, with his mouth full, "let us move the blocksof marble."
"But how?" inquired Prince Inga. "They are very heavy."
"Ah, how, indeed?" returned the King, smacking his lips contentedly."That is a serious question. But--I have it! Let us see what my famousparchment says about it." He wiped his fingers upon a napkin and then,taking the scroll from a pocket inside his embroidered blouse, heunrolled it and read the following words: 'Never step on another man'stoes.'
The goat gave a snort of contempt; Inga was silent; the King lookedfrom one to the other inquiringly.
"That's the idea, exactly!" declared Rinkitink.
"To be sure," said Bilbil scornfully, "it tells us exactly how to movethe blocks of marble."
"Oh, does it?" responded the King, and then for a moment he rubbed thetop of his bald head in a perplexed manner. The next moment he burstinto a peal of joyous laughter. The goat looked at Inga and sighed.
"What did I tell you?" asked the creature. "Was I right, or was Iwrong?"
"This scroll," said Rinkitink, "is indeed a masterpiece. Its advice isof tremendous value. 'Never step on another man's toes.' Let us thinkthis over. The inference is that we should step upon our own toes,which were given us for that purpose. Therefore, if I stepped uponanother man's toes, I would be the other man. Hoo, hoo, hoo!--the otherman--hee, hee, heek-keek-eek! Funny, isn't it?"
"Didn't I say--" began Bilbil.
"No matter what you said, my boy," roared the King. "No fool could havefigured that out as nicely as I did."
"We have still to decide how to remove the blocks of marble," suggestedInga anxiously.
"Fasten a rope to them, and pull," said Bilbil."Don't pay any more attention to Rinkitink, for he is no wiser than theman who wrote that brainless scroll. Just get the rope, and we'llfasten Rinkitink to one end of it for a weight and I'll help you pull."
"Thank you, Bilbil," replied the boy. "I'll get the rope at once."
Bilbil found it difficult to climb over the ruins to the floor of thebanquet hall, but there are few places a goat cannot get to when itmakes the attempt, so Bilbil succeeded at last, and even fat littleRinkitink finally joined them, though much out of breath.
Inga fastened one end of the rope around a block of marble and thenmade a loop at the other end to go over Bilbil's head. When all wasready the boy seized the rope and helped the goat to pull; yet, strainas they might, the huge block would not stir from its place. Seeingthis, King Rinkitink came forward and lent his assistance, the weightof his body forcing the heavy marble to slide several feet from whereit had lain.
But it was hard work and all were obliged to take a long rest beforeundertaking the removal of the next block.
"Admit, Bilbil," said the King, "that I am of some use in the world."
"Your weight was of considerable help," acknowledged the goat, "but ifyour head were as well filled as your stomach the task would be stilleasier."
When Inga went to fasten the rope a second time he was rejoiced todiscover that by moving one more block of marble he could uncover thetile with the secret spring. So the three pulled with renewed energyand to their joy the block moved and rolled upon its side, leaving Ingafree to remove the treasure when he pleased.
But the boy had no intention of allowing Bilbil and the King to sharethe secret of the royal treasures of Pingaree; so, although both thegoat and its master demanded to know why the marble blocks had beenmoved, and how it would benefit them, Inga begged them to wait untilthe next morning, when he hoped to be able to satisfy them that theirhard work had not been in vain.
Having little confidence in this promise of a mere boy, the goatgrumbled and the King laughed; but Inga paid no heed to their ridiculeand set himself to work rigging up a fishing rod, with line and hook.During the afternoon he waded out to some rocks near the shore andfished patiently until he had captured enough yellow perch for theirsupper and breakfast.
"Ah," said Rinkitink, looking at the fine catch when Inga returned tothe shore; "these will taste delicious when they are cooked; but do youknow how to cook them?"
"No," was the reply. "I have often caught fish, but never cooked them.Perhaps Your Majesty understands cooking."
"Cooking and majesty are two different things," laughed the littleKing. "I could not cook a fish to save me from starvation."
"For my part," said Bilbil, "I never eat fish, but I can tell you howto cook them, for I have often watched the palace cooks at their work."And so, with the goat's assistance, the boy and the King managed toprepare the fish and cook them, after which they were eaten with goodappetite.
That night, after Rinkitink and Bilbil were both fast asleep, Ingastole quietly through the moonlight to the desolate banquet hall.There, kneeling down, he touched the secret spring as his father hadinstructed him to do and to his joy the tile sank downward anddisclosed the opening. You may imagine how the boy's heart throbbedwith excitement as he slowly thrust his hand into the cavity and feltaround to see if the precious pearls were still there. In a moment hisfingers touched the silken bag and, without pausing to close therecess, he pressed the treasure against his breast and ran out into themoonlight to examine it. When he reached a bright place he started toopen the bag, but he observed Bilbil lying asleep upon the grass nearby. So, trembling with the fear of discovery, he ran to another place,and when he paused he heard Rinkitink snoring lustily. Again he fledand made his way to the seashore, where he squatted under a bank andbegan to untie the cords that fastened the mouth of the bag. But nowanother fear assailed him.
"If the pearls should slip from my hand," he thought, "and roll intothe water, they might be lost to me forever. I must find some saferplace."
Here and there he wandered, still clasping the silken bag in bothhands, and finally he went to the grove and climbed into the tall treewhere he had made his platform and seat. But here it was pitch dark, sohe found he must wait patiently until morning before he dared touch thepearls. During those hours of waiting he had time for reflection andreproached himself for being so frightened by the possession of hisfather's treasures.
"These pearls have belonged to our family for generations," he mused,"yet no one has ever lost them. If I use ordinary care I am sure I needhave no fears for their safety."
When the dawn came and he could see plainly, Inga opened the bag andtook out the Blue Pearl. There was no possibility of his being observedby others, so he took time to examine it wonderingly, saying tohimself: "This will give me strength."
Taking off his right shoe he placed the Blue Pearl within it, far up inthe pointed toe. Then he tore a piece from his handkerchief and stuffedit into the shoe to hold the pearl in place. Inga's shoes were long andpointed, as were all the shoes worn in Pingaree, and the points curledupward, so that there was quite a vacant space beyond the place wherethe boy's toes reached when the shoe was upon his foot.
After he had put on the Shoe and laced it up he opened the bag and tookout the Pink Pearl. "This will protect me from danger," said Inga, andremoving the shoe from his left foot he carefully placed the pearl inthe hollow toe. This, also, he secured in place by means of a striptorn from his handkerchief.
Having put on the second shoe and laced it up, the boy drew from thesilken bag the third pearl--that which was pure white--and holding itto his ear he asked.
"Will you advise me what to do, in this my hour of misfortune?"
Clearly the small voice of the pearl made answer:
"I advise you to go to the Islands of Regos and Coregos, where you mayliberate your parents from slavery."
"How could I do that?" exclaimed Prince Inga, amazed at receiving suchadvice.
"To-night," spoke the voice of the pearl, "there will be a storm, andin the morning a boat will strand upon the shore. Take this boat androw to Regos and Coregos."
"How can I, a weak boy, pull the boat so far?" he inquired, doubtingthe possibility.
"The Blue Pearl will give you strength," was the reply.
"But I may be shipwrecked and drowned, before ever I reach Regos andCoregos," protested the boy.
"The Pink Pearl will protect you from harm," murmured the voice, softand low but very distinct.
"Then I shall act as you advise me," declared Inga, speaking firmlybecause this promise gave him courage, and as he removed the pearl fromhis ear it whispered:
"The wise and fearless are sure to win success."
Restoring the White Pearl to the depths of the silken bag, Ingafastened it securely around his neck and buttoned his waist above it tohide the treasure from all prying eyes. Then he slowly climbed downfrom the tree and returned to the room where King Rinkitink still slept.
The goat was browsing upon the grass but looked cross and surly. Whenthe boy said good morning as he passed, Bilbil made no responsewhatever. As Inga entered the room the King awoke and asked:
"What is that mysterious secret of yours? I've been dreaming about it,and I haven't got my breath yet from tugging at those heavy blocks.Tell me the secret."
"A secret told is no longer a secret," replied Inga, with a laugh."Besides, this is a family secret, which it is proper I should keep tomyself. But I may tell you one thing, at least: We are going to leavethis island to-morrow morning."
The King seemed puzzled' by this statement.
"I'm not much of a swimmer," said he, "and, though I'm fat enough tofloat upon the surface of the water, I'd only bob around and getnowhere at all."
"We shall not swim, but ride comfortably in a boat," promised Inga.
"There isn't a boat on this island!" declared Rinkitink, looking uponthe boy with wonder.
"True," said Inga. "But one will come to us in the morning." He spokepositively, for he had perfect faith in the promise of the White Pearl;but Rinkitink, knowing nothing of the three marvelous jewels, began tofear that the little Prince had lost his mind through grief andmisfortune.
For this reason the King did not question the boy further but tried tocheer him by telling him witty stories. He laughed at all the storieshimself, in his merry, rollicking way, and Inga joined freely in thelaughter because his heart had been lightened by the prospect ofrescuing his dear parents. Not since the fierce warriors had descendedupon Pingaree had the boy been so hopeful and happy.
With Rinkitink riding upon Bilbil's back, the three made a tour of theisland and found in the central part some bushes and trees bearing ripefruit. They gathered this freely, for--aside from the fish which Ingacaught--it was the only food they now had, and the less they had, thebigger Rinkitink's appetite seemed to grow.
"I am never more happy," said he with a sigh, "than when I am eating."
Toward evening the sky became overcast and soon a great storm began torage. Prince Inga and King Rinkitink took refuge within the shelter ofthe room they had fitted up and there Bilbil joined them. The goat andthe King were somewhat disturbed by the violence of the storm, but Ingadid not mind it, being pleased at this evidence that the White Pearlmight be relied upon.
All night the wind shrieked around the island; thunder rolled,lightning flashed and rain came down in torrents. But with morning thestorm abated and when the sun arose no sign of the tempest remainedsave a few fallen trees.
The Magic Boat
Prince Inga was up with the sun and, accompanied by Bilbil, beganwalking along the shore in search of the boat which the White Pearl hadpromised him. Never for an instant did he doubt that he would find itand before he had walked any great distance a dark object at thewater's edge caught his eye.
"It is the boat, Bilbil!" he cried joyfully, and running down to it hefound it was, indeed, a large and roomy boat. Although stranded uponthe beach, it was in perfect order and had suffered in no way from thestorm.
Inga stood for some moments gazing upon the handsome craft andwondering where it could have come from. Certainly it was unlike anyboat he had ever seen. On the outside it was painted a lustrous black,without any other color to relieve it; but all the inside of the boatwas lined with pure silver, polished so highly that the surfaceresembled a mirror and glinted brilliantly in the rays of the sun. Theseats had white velvet cushions upon them and the cushions weresplendidly embroidered with threads of gold. At one end, beneath thebroad seat, was a small barrel with silver hoops, which the boy foundwas filled with fresh, sweet water. A great chest of sandalwood, boundand ornamented with silver, stood in the other end of the boat. Ingaraised the lid and discovered the chest filled with sea-biscuits,cakes, tinned meats and ripe, juicy melons; enough good and wholesomefood to last the party a long time.
Lying upon the bottom of the boat were two shining oars, and overhead,but rolled back now, was a canopy of silver cloth to ward off the heatof the sun.
It is no wonder the boy was delighted with the appearance of thisbeautiful boat; but on reflection he feared it was too large for him torow any great distance. Unless, indeed, the Blue Pearl gave him unusualstrength.
While he was considering this matter, King Rinkitink came waddling upto him and said:
"Well, well, well, my Prince, your words have come true! Here is theboat, for a certainty, yet how it came here--and how you knew it wouldcome to us--are puzzles that mystify me. I do not question our goodfortune, however, and my heart is bubbling with joy, for in this boat Iwill return at once to my City of Gilgad, from which I have remainedabsent altogether too long a time."
"I do not wish to go to Gilgad," said Inga.
"That is too bad, my friend, for you would be very welcome. But you mayremain upon this island, if you wish," continued Rinkitink, "and when Iget home I will send some of my people to rescue you."
"It is my boat, Your Majesty," said Inga quietly.
"May be, may be," was the careless answer, "but I am King of a greatcountry, while you are a boy Prince without any kingdom to speak of.Therefore, being of greater importance than you, it is just and rightthat I take, your boat and return to my own country in it."
"I am sorry to differ from Your Majesty's views," said Inga, "butinstead of going to Gilgad I consider it of greater importance that wego to the islands of Regos and Coregos."
"Hey? What!" cried the astounded King. "To Regos and Coregos! To becomeslaves of the barbarians, like the King, your father? No, no, my boy!Your Uncle Rinki may have an empty noddle, as Bilbil claims, but he isfar too wise to put his head in the lion's mouth. It's no fun to be aslave."
"The people of Regos and Coregos will not enslave us," declared Inga."On the contrary, it is my intention to set free my dear parents, aswell as all my people, and to bring them back again to Pingaree."
"Cheek-eek-eek-eek-eek! How funny!" chuckled Rinkitink, winking at thegoat, which scowled in return. "Your audacity takes my breath away,Inga, but the adventure has its charm, I must, confess. Were I not sofat, I'd agree to your plan at once, and could probably conquer thathorde of fierce warriors without any assistance at all--any at all--eh,Bilbil? But I grieve to say that I am fat, and not in good fightingtrim. As for your determination to do what I admit I can't do, Inga, Ifear you forget that you are only a boy, and rather small at that."
"No, I do not forget that," was Inga's reply.
"Then please consider that you and I and Bilbil are not strong enough,as an army, to conquer a powerful nation of skilled warriors. We couldattempt it, of course, but you are too young to die, while I am tooold. Come with me to my City of Gilgad, where you will be greatlyhonored. I'll have my professors teach you how to be good. Eh? What doyou say?"
Inga was a little embarrassed how to reply to these arguments, which heknew King Rinkitink considered were wise; so, after a period ofthought, he said:
"I will make a bargain with Your Majesty, for I do not wish to fail inrespect to so worthy a man and so great a King as yourself. This boatis mine, as I have said, and in my father's absence you have become myguest; therefore I claim that I am entitled to some consideration, aswell as you."
"No doubt of it," agreed Rinkitink. "What is the bargain you propose,Inga?"
"Let us both get into the boat, and you shall first try to row us toGilgad. If you succeed, I will accompany you right willingly; butshould you fail, I will then row the boat to Regos, and you must comewith me without further protest."
"A fair and just bargain!" cried the King, highly pleased. "Yet,although I am a man of mighty deeds, I do not relish the prospect ofrowing so big a boat all the way to Gilgad. But I will do my best andabide by the result."
The matter being thus peaceably settled, they prepared to embark. Afurther supply of fruits was placed in the boat and Inga also raked upa quantity of the delicious oysters that abounded on the coast ofPingaree but which he had before been unable to reach for lack of aboat. This was done at the suggestion of the ever-hungry Rinkitink, andwhen the oysters had been stowed in their shells behind the waterbarrel and a plentiful supply of grass brought aboard for Bilbil, theydecided they were ready to start on their voyage.
It proved no easy task to get Bilbil into the boat, for he was aremarkably clumsy goat and once, when Rinkitink gave him a push, hetumbled into the water and nearly drowned before they could get him outagain. But there was no thought of leaving the quaint animal behind.His power of speech made him seem almost human in the eyes of the boy,and the fat King was so accustomed to his surly companion that nothingcould have induced him to part with him. Finally Bilbil fell sprawlinginto the bottom of the boat, and Inga helped him to get to the frontend, where there was enough space for him to lie down.
Rinkitink now took his seat in the silver-lined craft and the boy camelast, pushing off the boat as he sprang aboard, so that it floatedfreely upon the water.
"Well, here we go for Gilgad!" exclaimed the King, picking up the oarsand placing them in the row-locks. Then he began to row as hard as hecould, singing at the same time an odd sort of a song that ran likethis:
"The way to Gilgad isn't bad For a stout old King and a brave young lad, For a cross old goat with a dripping coat, And a silver boat in which to float. So our hearts are merry, light and glad As we speed away to fair Gilgad!"
"Don't, Rinkitink; please don't! It makes me seasick," growled Bilbil.
Rinkitink stopped rowing, for by this time he was all out of breath andhis round face was covered with big drops of perspiration. And when helooked over his shoulder he found to his dismay that the boat hadscarcely moved a foot from its former position.
Inga said nothing and appeared not to notice the King's failure. So nowRinkitink, with a serious look on his fat, red face, took off hispurple robe and rolled up the sleeves of his tunic and tried again.
However, he succeeded no better than before and when he heard Bilbilgive a gruff laugh and saw a smile upon the boy Prince's face,Rinkitink suddenly dropped the oars and began shouting with laughter athis own defeat. As he wiped his brow with a yellow silk handkerchief hesang in a merry voice:
"A sailor bold am I, I hold, But boldness will not row a boat. So I confess I'm in distress And just as useless as the goat."
"Please leave me out of your verses," said Bilbil with a snort of anger.
"When I make a fool of myself, Bilbil, I'm a goat," replied Rinkitink.
"Not so," insisted Bilbil. "Nothing could make you a member of mysuperior race."
"Superior? Why, Bilbil, a goat is but a beast, while I am a King!"
"I claim that superiority lies in intelligence," said the goat.
Rinkitink paid no attention to this remark, but turning to Inga he said:
"We may as well get back to the shore, for the boat is too heavy to rowto Gilgad or anywhere else. Indeed, it will be hard for us to reachland again."
"Let me take the oars," suggested Inga. "You must not forget ourbargain."
"No, indeed," answered Rinkitink. "If you can row us to Regos, or toany other place, I will go with you without protest."
So the King took Inga's place at the stern of the boat and the boygrasped the oars and commenced to row. And now, to the great wonder ofRinkitink--and even to Inga's surprise--the oars became light asfeathers as soon as the Prince took hold of them. In an instant theboat began to glide rapidly through the water and, seeing this, the boyturned its prow toward the north. He did not know exactly where Regosand Coregos were located, but he did know that the islands lay to thenorth of Pingaree, so he decided to trust to luck and the guidance ofthe pearls to carry him to them.
Gradually the Island of Pingaree became smaller to their view as theboat sped onward, until at the end of an hour they had lost sight of italtogether and were wholly surrounded by the purple waters of theNonestic Ocean.
Prince Inga did not tire from the labor of rowing; indeed, it seemed tohim no labor at all. Once he stopped long enough to place the poles ofthe canopy in the holes that had been made for them, in the edges ofthe boat, and to spread the canopy of silver over the poles, forRinkitink had complained of the sun's heat. But the canopy shut out thehot rays and rendered the interior of the boat cool and pleasant.
"This is a glorious ride!" cried Rinkitink, as he lay back in theshade. "I find it a decided relief to be away from that dismal islandof Pingaree.
"It may be a relief for a short time," said Bilbil, "but you are goingto the land of your enemies, who will probably stick your fat body fullof spears and arrows."
"Oh, I hope not!" exclaimed Inga, distressed at the thought.
"Never mind," said the King calmly, "a man can die but once, you know,and when the enemy kills me I shall beg him to kill Bilbil, also, thatwe may remain together in death as in life."
"They may be cannibals, in which case they will roast and eat us,"suggested Bilbil, who wished to terrify his master.
"Who knows?" answered Rinkitink, with a shudder. "But cheer up, Bilbil;they may not kill us after all, or even capture us; so let us notborrow trouble. Do not look so cross, my sprightly quadruped, and Iwill sing to amuse you."
"Your song would make me more cross than ever," grumbled the goat.
"Quite impossible, dear Bilbil. You couldn't be more surly if youtried. So here is a famous song for you."
While the boy rowed steadily on and the boat rushed fast over thewater, the jolly King, who never could be sad or serious for manyminutes at a time, lay back on his embroidered cushions and sang asfollows:
"A merry maiden went to sea-- Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do! She sat upon the Captain's knee And looked around the sea to see What she could see, but she couldn't see me-- Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do!
"How do you like that, Bilbil?"
"I don't like it," complained the goat. "It reminds me of the alligatorthat tried to whistle."
"Did he succeed, Bilbil?" asked the King.
"He whistled as well as you sing."
"Ha, ha, ha, ha, heek, keek, eek!" chuckled the King. "He must havewhistled most exquisitely, eh, my friend?"
"I am not your friend," returned the goat, wagging his ears in a surlymanner.
"I am yours, however," was the King's cheery reply; "and to prove itI'll sing you another verse."
"Don't, I beg of you!"
But the King sang as follows:
"The wind blew off the maiden's shoe-- Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do! And the shoe flew high to the sky so blue And the maiden knew 'twas a new shoe, too; But she couldn't pursue the shoe, 'tis true-- Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do!
"Isn't that sweet, my pretty goat?"
"Sweet, do you ask?" retorted Bilbil. "I consider it as sweet as candymade from mustard and vinegar."
"But not as sweet as your disposition, I admit. Ah, Bilbil, your temperwould put honey itself to shame."
"Do not quarrel, I beg of you," pleaded Inga. "Are we not sad enoughalready?"
"But this is a jolly quarrel," said the King, "and it is the way Bilbiland I often amuse ourselves. Listen, now, to the last verse of all:
"The maid who shied her shoe now cried-- Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do! Her tears were fried for the Captain's bride Who ate with pride her sobs, beside, And gently sighed 'I'm satisfied'-- Sing to-ral-oo-ral-i-do!"
"Worse and worse!" grumbled Bilbil, with much scorn. "I am glad that isthe last verse, for another of the same kind might cause me to faint."
"I fear you have no ear for music," said the King.
"I have heard no music, as yet," declared the goat. "You must have astrong imagination, King Rinkitink, if you consider your songs music.Do you remember the story of the bear that hired out for a nursemaid?"
"I do not recall it just now," said Rinkitink, with a wink at Inga.
"Well, the bear tried to sing a lullaby to put the baby to sleep."
"And then?" said the King.
"The bear was highly pleased with its own voice, but the baby wasnearly frightened to death."
"Heh, heb, heh, heh, whoo, hoo, hoo! You are a merry rogue, Bilbil,"laughed the King; "a merry rogue in spite of your gloomy features.However, if I have not amused you, I have at least pleased myself, forI am exceedingly fond of a good song. So let us say no more about it."
All this time the boy Prince was rowing the boat. He was not in theleast tired, for the oars he held seemed to move of their own accord.He paid little heed to the conversation of Rinkitink and the goat, butbusied his thoughts with plans of what he should do when he reached theislands of Regos and Coregos and confronted his enemies. When theothers finally became silent, Inga inquired.
"Can you fight, King Rinkitink?"
"I have never tried," was the answer. "In time of danger I have foundit much easier to run away than to face the foe."
"But could you fight?" asked the boy.
"I might try, if there was no chance to escape by running. Have you aproper weapon for me to fight with?"
"I have no weapon at all," confessed Inga.
"Then let us use argument and persuasion instead of fighting. Forinstance, if we could persuade the warriors of Regos to lie down, andlet me step on them, they would be crushed with ease."
Prince Inga had expected little support from the King, so he was notdiscouraged by this answer. After all, he reflected, a conquest bybattle would be out of the question, yet the White Pearl would not haveadvised him to go to Regos and Coregos had the mission been a hopelessone. It seemed to him, on further reflection, that he must rely uponcircumstances to determine his actions when he reached the islands ofthe barbarians.
By this time Inga felt perfect confidence in the Magic Pearls. It wasthe White Pearl that had given him the boat, and the Blue Pearl thathad given him strength to row it. He believed that the Pink Pearl wouldprotect him from any danger that might arise; so his anxiety was notfor himself, but for his companions. King Rinkitink and the goat had nomagic to protect them, so Inga resolved to do all in his power to keepthem from harm.
For three days and three nights the boat with the silver lining spedswiftly over the ocean. On the morning of the fourth day, so quicklyhad they traveled, Inga saw before him the shores of the two greatislands of Regos and Coregos.
"The pearls have guided me aright!" he whispered to himself. "Now, if Iam wise, and cautious, and brave, I believe I shall be able to rescuemy father and mother and my people."
The Twin Islands
The Island of Regos was ten miles wide and forty miles long and it wasruled by a big and powerful King named Gos. Near to the shores weregreen and fertile fields, but farther back from the sea were ruggedhills and mountains, so rocky that nothing would grow there. But inthese mountains were mines of gold and silver, which the slaves of theKing were forced to work, being confined in dark underground passagesfor that purpose. In the course of time huge caverns had been hollowedout by the slaves, in which they lived and slept, never seeing thelight of day. Cruel overseers with whips stood over these poor people,who had been captured in many countries by the raiding parties of KingCos, and the overseers were quite willing to lash the slaves with theirwhips if they faltered a moment in their work.
Between the green shores and the mountains were forests of thick,tangled trees, between which narrow paths had been cut to lead up tothe caves of the mines. It was on the level green meadows, not far fromthe ocean, that the great City of Regos had been built, wherein waslocated the palace of the King. This city was inhabited by thousands ofthe fierce warriors of Gos, who frequently took to their boats andspread over the sea to the neighboring islands to conquer and pillage,as they had done at Pingaree. When they were not absent on one of theseexpeditions, the City of Regos swarmed with them and so became adangerous place for any peaceful person to live in, for the warriorswere as lawless as their King.
The Island of Coregos lay close beside the Island of Regos; so close,indeed, that one might have thrown a stone from one shore to another.But Coregos was only half the size of Regos and instead of beingmountainous it was a rich and pleasant country, covered with fields ofgrain. The fields of Coregos furnished food for the warriors andcitizens of both countries, while the mines of Regos made them all rich.
Coregos was ruled by Queen Cor, who was wedded to King Gos; but sostern and cruel was the nature of this Queen that the people could notdecide which of their sovereigns they dreaded most.
Queen Cor lived in her own City of Coregos, which lay on that side ofher island facing Regos, and her slaves, who were mostly women, weremade to plow the land and to plant and harvest the grain.
From Regos to Coregos stretched a bridge of boats, set close together,with planks laid across their edges for people to walk upon. In thisway it was easy to pass from one island to the other and in times ofdanger the bridge could be quickly removed.
The native inhabitants of Regos and Coregos consisted of the warriors,who did nothing but fight and ravage, and the trembling servants whowaited on them. King Gos and Queen Cor were at war with all the rest ofthe world. Other islanders hated and feared them, for their slaves werebadly treated and absolutely no mercy was shown to the weak or ill.
When the boats that had gone to Pingaree returned loaded with richplunder and a host of captives, there was much rejoicing in Regos andCoregos and the King and Queen gave a fine feast to the warriors whohad accomplished so great a conquest. This feast was set for thewarriors in the grounds of King Gos's palace, while with them in thegreat throne room all the captains and leaders of the fighting men wereassembled with King Gos and Queen Cor, who had come from her island toattend the ceremony. Then all the goods that had been stolen from theKing of Pingaree were divided according to rank, the King and Queentaking half, the captains a quarter, and the rest being divided amongstthe warriors.
The day following the feast King Gos sent King Kitticut and all the menof Pingaree to work in his mines under the mountains, having firstchained them together so they could not escape. The gentle Queen ofPingaree and all her women, together with the captured children, weregiven to Queen Cor, who set them to work in her grain fields.
Then the rulers and warriors of these dreadful islands thought they haddone forever with Pingaree. Despoiled of all its wealth, its housestorn down, its boats captured and all its people enslaved, whatlikelihood was there that they might ever again hear of the desolatedisland? So the people of Regos and Coregos were surprised and puzzledwhen one morning they observed approaching their shores from thedirection of the south a black boat containing a boy, a fat man and agoat. The warriors asked one another who these could be, and where theyhad come from? No one ever came to those islands of their own accord,that was certain.
Prince Inga guided his boat to the south end of the Island of Regos,which was the landing place nearest to the city, and when the warriorssaw this action they went down to the shore to meet him, being led by abig captain named Buzzub.
"Those people surely mean us no good," said Rinkitink uneasily to theboy. "Without doubt they intend to capture us and make us their slaves."
"Do not fear, sir," answered Inga, in a calm voice. "Stay quietly inthe boat with Bilbil until I have spoken with these men."
He stopped the boat a dozen feet from the shore, and standing up in hisplace made a grave bow to the multitude confronting him. Said the bigCaptain Buzzub in a gruff voice:
"Well, little one, who may you be? And how dare you come, uninvited andall alone, to the Island of Regos?"
"I am Inga, Prince of Pingaree," returned the boy, "and I have comehere to free my parents and my people, whom you have wrongfullyenslaved."
When they heard this bold speech a mighty laugh arose from the band ofwarriors, and when it had subsided the captain said:
"You love to jest, my baby Prince, and the joke is fairly good. But whydid you willingly thrust your head into the lion's mouth? When you werefree, why did you not stay free? We did not know we had left a singleperson in Pingaree! But since you managed to escape us then, it isreally kind of you to come here of your own free will, to be our slave.Who is the funny fat person with you?"
"It is His Majesty, King Rinkitink, of the great City of Gilgad. He hasaccompanied me to see that you render full restitution for all you havestolen from Pingaree."
"Better yet!" laughed Buzzub. "He will make a fine slave for Queen Cor,who loves to tickle fat men, and see them jump."
King Rinkitink was filled with horror when he heard this, but thePrince answered as boldly as before, saying:
"We are not to be frightened by bluster, believe me; nor are we so weakas you imagine. We have magic powers so great and terrible that no hostof warriors can possibly withstand us, and therefore I call upon you tosurrender your city and your island to us, before we crush you with ourmighty powers."
The boy spoke very gravely and earnestly, but his words only arousedanother shout of laughter. So while the men of Regos were laughing Ingadrove the boat we'll up onto the sandy beach and leaped out. He alsohelped Rinkitink out, and when the goat had unaided sprung to thesands, the King got upon Bilbil's back, trembling a little internally,but striving to look as brave as possible.
There was a bunch of coarse hair between the goat's ears, and this Ingaclutched firmly in his left hand. The boy knew the Pink Pearl wouldprotect not only himself, but all whom he touched, from any harm, andas Rinkitink was astride the goat and Inga had his hand upon theanimal, the three could not be injured by anything the warriors coulddo. But Captain Buzzub did not know this, and the little group of threeseemed so weak and ridiculous that he believed their capture would beeasy. So he turned to his men and with a wave of his hand said:
"Seize the intruders!"
Instantly two or three of the warriors stepped forward to obey, but totheir amazement they could not reach any of the three; their hands werearrested as if by an invisible wall of iron. Without paying anyattention to these attempts at capture, Inga advanced slowly and thegoat kept pace with him. And when Rinkitink saw that he was safe fromharm he gave one of his big, merry laughs, and it startled the warriorsand made them nervous. Captain Buzzub's eyes grew big with surprise asthe three steadily advanced and forced his men backward; nor was hefree from terror himself at the magic that protected these strangevisitors. As for the warriors, they presently became terror-strickenand fled in a panic up the slope toward the city, and Buzzub wasobliged to chase after them and shout threats of punishment before hecould halt them and form them into a line of battle.
All the men of Regos bore spears and bows-and-arrows, and some of theofficers had swords and battle-axes; so Buzzub ordered them to standtheir ground and shoot and slay the strangers as they approached. Thisthey tried to do. Inga being in advance, the warriors sent a flight ofsharp arrows straight at the boy's breast, while others cast their longspears at him.
It seemed to Rinkitink that the little Prince must surely perish as hestood facing this hail of murderous missiles; but the power of the PinkPearl did not desert him, and when the arrows and spears had reached towithin an inch of his body they bounded back again and fell harmlesslyat his feet. Nor were Rinkitink or Bilbil injured in the least,although they stood close beside Inga.
Buzzub stood for a moment looking upon the boy in silent wonder. Then,recovering himself, he shouted in a loud voice:
"Once again! All together, my men. No one shall ever defy our might andlive!"
Again a flight of arrows and spears sped toward the three, and sincemany more of the warriors of Regos had by this time joined theirfellows, the air was for a moment darkened by the deadly shafts. Butagain all fell harmless before the power of the Pink Pearl, and Bilbil,who had been growing very angry at the attempts to injure him and hisparty, suddenly made a bolt forward, casting off Inga's hold, andbutted into the line of warriors, who were standing amazed at theirfailure to conquer.
Taken by surprise at the goat's attack, a dozen big warriors tumbled ina heap, yelling with fear, and their comrades, not knowing what hadhappened but imagining that their foes were attacking them, turnedabout and ran to the city as hard as they could go. Bilbil, stillangry, had just time to catch the big captain as he turned to followhis men, and Buzzub first sprawled headlong upon the ground, thenrolled over two or three times, and finally jumped up and ran yellingafter his defeated warriors. This butting on the part of the goat wasvery hard upon King Rinkitink, who nearly fell off Bilbil's back at theshock of encounter; but the little fat King wound his arms around thegoat's neck and shut his eyes and clung on with all his might. It wasnot until he heard Inga say triumphantly, "We have won the fightwithout striking a blow!" that Rinkitink dared open his eyes again.Then he saw the warriors rushing into the City of Regos and barring theheavy gates, and he was very much relieved at the sight.
"Without striking a blow!" said Bilbil indignantly. "That is not quitetrue, Prince Inga. You did not fight, I admit, but I struck a couple oftimes to good purpose, and I claim to have conquered the cowardlywarriors unaided."
"You and I together, Bilbil," said Rinkitink mildly. "But the next timeyou make a charge, please warn me in time, so that I may dismount andgive you all the credit for the attack."
There being no one now to oppose their advance, the three walked to thegates of the city, which had been closed against them. The gates wereof iron and heavily barred, and upon the top of the high walls of thecity a host of the warriors now appeared armed with arrows and spearsand other weapons. For Buzzub had gone straight to the palace of KingCos and reported his defeat, relating the powerful magic of the boy,the fat King and the goat, and had asked what to do next.
The big captain still trembled with fear, but King Gos did not believein magic, and called Buzzub a coward and a weakling. At once the Kingtook command of his men personally, and he ordered the walls mannedwith warriors and instructed them to shoot to kill if any of the threestrangers approached the gates.
Of course, neither Rinkitink nor Bilbil knew how they had beenprotected from harm and so at first they were inclined to resent theboy's command that the three must always keep together and touch oneanother at all times. But when Inga explained that his magic would nototherwise save them from injury, they agreed to obey, for they had nowseen enough to convince them that the Prince was really protected bysome invisible power.
As they came before the gates another shower of arrows and spearsdescended upon them, and as before not a single missile touched theirbodies. King Gos, who was upon the wall, was greatly amazed andsomewhat worried, but he depended upon the strength of his gates andcommanded his men to continue shooting until all their weapons weregone.
Inga let them shoot as much as they wished, while he stood before thegreat gates and examined them carefully.
"Perhaps Bilbil can batter down the gates, suggested Rinkitink.
"No," replied the goat; "my head is hard, but not harder than iron."
"Then," returned the King, "let us stay outside; especially as we can'tget in."
But Inga was not at all sure they could not get in. The gates openedinward, and three heavy bars were held in place by means of stoutstaples riveted to the sheets of steel. The boy had been told that thepower of the Blue Pearl would enable him to accomplish any feat ofstrength, and he believed that this was true.
The warriors, under the direction of King Gos, continued to hurl arrowsand darts and spears and axes and huge stones upon the invaders, allwithout avail. The ground below was thickly covered with weapons, yetnot one of the three before the gates had been injured in the slightestmanner. When everything had been cast that was available and not asingle weapon of any sort remained at hand, the amazed warriors saw theboy put his shoulder against the gates and burst asunder the hugestaples that held the bars in place. A thousand of their men could nothave accomplished this feat, yet the small, slight boy did it withseeming ease. The gates burst open, and Inga advanced into the citystreet and called upon King Gos to surrender.
But Gos was now as badly frightened as were his warriors. He and hismen were accustomed to war and pillage and they had carried terror intomany countries, but here was a small boy, a fat man and a goat whocould not be injured by all his skill in warfare, his numerous army andthousands of death-dealing weapons. Moreover, they not only defied KingGos's entire army but they had broken in the huge gates of the city--aseasily as if they had been made of paper--and such an exhibition ofenormous strength made the wicked King fear for his life. Like allbullies and marauders, Gos was a coward at heart, and now a panicseized him and he turned and fled before the calm advance of PrinceInga of Pingaree. The warriors were like their master, and havingthrown all their weapons over the wall and being helpless to oppose thestrangers, they all swarmed after Gos, who abandoned his city andcrossed the bridge of boats to the Island of Coregos. There was adesperate struggle among these cowardly warriors to get over thebridge, and many were pushed into the water and obliged to swim; butfinally every fighting man of Regos had gained the shore of Coregos andthen they tore away the bridge of boats and drew them up on their ownside, hoping the stretch of open water would prevent the magic invadersfrom following them.
The humble citizens and serving people of Regos, who had been terrifiedand abused by the rough warriors all their lives, were not only greatlyastonished by this sudden conquest of their masters but greatlydelighted. As the King and his army fled to Coregos, the peopleembraced one another and danced for very joy, and then they turned tosee what the conquerors of Regos were like.
Rinkitink Makes a Great Mistake
The fat King rode his goat through the streets of the conquered cityand the boy Prince walked proudly beside him, while all the people benttheir heads humbly to their new masters, whom they were prepared toserve in the same manner they had King Gos.
Not a warrior remained in all Regos to oppose the triumphant three; thebridge of boats had been destroyed; Inga and his companions were freefrom danger--for a time, at least.
The jolly little King appreciated this fact and rejoiced that he hadescaped all injury during the battle. How it had all happened he couldnot tell, nor even guess, but he was content in being safe and free totake possession of the enemy's city. So, as they passed through thelines of respectful civilians on their way to the palace, the Kingtipped his crown back on his bald head and folded his arms and sang inhis best voice the following lines:
"Oh, here comes the army of King Rinkitink! It isn't a big one, perhaps you may think, But it scattered the warriors quicker than wink-- Rink-i-tink, tink-i-tink, tink!
Our Bilbil's a hero and so is his King; Our foemen have vanished like birds on the wing; I guess that as fighters we're quite the real thing-- Rink-i-tink, tink-i-tink, tink!"
"Why don't you give a little credit to Inga?" inquired the goat. "If Iremember aright, he did a little of the conquering himself."
"So he did," responded the King, "and that's the reason I'm soundingour own praise, Bilbil. Those who do the least, often shout the loudestand so get the most glory. Inga did so much that there is danger of hisbecoming more important than we are, and so we'd best say nothing abouthim."
When they reached the palace, which was an immense building, furnishedthroughout in regal splendor, Inga took formal possession and orderedthe majordomo to show them the finest rooms the building contained.There were many pleasant apartments, but Rinkitink proposed to Ingathat they share one of the largest bedrooms together.
"For," said he, "we are not sure that old Gos will not return and tryto recapture his city, and you must remember that I have no magic toprotect me. In any danger, were I alone, I might be easily killed orcaptured, while if you are by my side you can save me from injury."
The boy realized the wisdom of this plan, and selected a fine bigbedroom on the second floor of the palace, in which he ordered twogolden beds placed and prepared for King Rinkitink and himself. Bilbilwas given a suite of rooms on the other side of the palace, whereservants brought the goat fresh-cut grass to eat and made him a softbed to lie upon.
That evening the boy Prince and the fat King dined in great state inthe lofty-domed dining hall of the palace, where forty servants waitedupon them. The royal chef, anxious to win the favor of the conquerorsof Regos, prepared his finest and most savory dishes for them, whichRinkitink ate with much appetite and found so delicious that he orderedthe royal chef brought into the banquet hall and presented him with agilt button which the King cut from his own jacket.
"You are welcome to it," said he to the chef, "because I have eaten somuch that I cannot use that lower button at all."
Rinkitink was mightily pleased to live in a comfortable palace againand to dine at a well spread table. His joy grew every moment, so thathe came in time to be as merry and cheery as before Pingaree wasdespoiled. And, although he had been much frightened during Inga'sdefiance of the army of King Gos, he now began to turn the matter intoa joke.
"Why, my boy," said he, "you whipped the big black-bearded King exactlyas if he were a schoolboy, even though you used no warlike weapon atall upon him. He was cowed through fear of your magic, and that remindsme to demand from you an explanation. How did you do it, Inga? Andwhere did the wonderful magic come from?"
Perhaps it would have been wise for the Prince to have explained aboutthe magic pearls, but at that moment he was not inclined to do so.Instead, he replied:
"Be patient, Your Majesty. The secret is not my own, so please do notask me to divulge it. Is it not enough, for the present, that the magicsaved you from death to-day?"
"Do not think me ungrateful," answered the King earnestly. "A millionspears fell on me from the wall, and several stones as big asmountains, yet none of them hurt me!"
"The stones were not as big as mountains, sire," said the Prince with asmile. "They were, indeed, no larger than your head."
"Are you sure about that?" asked Rinkitink.
"Quite sure, Your Majesty."
"How deceptive those things are!" sighed the King. "This argumentreminds me of the story of Tom Tick, which my father used to tell."
"I have never heard that story," Inga answered.
"Well, as he told it, it ran like this:
"When Tom walked out, the sky to spy, A naughty gnat flew in his eye; But Tom knew not it was a gnat-- He thought, at first, it was a cat.
"And then, it felt so very big, He thought it surely was a pig Till, standing still to hear it grunt, He cried: 'Why, it's an elephunt!'
"But--when the gnat flew out again And Tom was free from all his pain, He said: 'There flew into my eye A leetle, teenty-tiny fly.'"
"Indeed," said Inga, laughing, "the gnat was much like your stones thatseemed as big as mountains."
After their dinner they inspected the palace, which was filled withvaluable goods stolen by King Gos from many nations. But the day'sevents had tired them and they retired early to their big sleepingapartment.
"In the morning," said the boy to Rinkitink, as he was undressing forbed, "I shall begin the search for my father and mother and the peopleof Pingaree. And, when they are found and rescued, we will all go homeagain, and be as happy as we were before."
They carefully bolted the door of their room, that no one might enter,and then got into their beds, where Rinkitink fell asleep in aninstant. The boy lay awake for a while thinking over the day'sadventures, but presently he fell sound asleep also, and so weary washe that nothing disturbed his slumber until he awakened next morningwith a ray of sunshine in his eyes, which had crept into the roomthrough the open window by King Rinkitink's bed.
Resolving to begin the search for his parents without any unnecessarydelay, Inga at once got out of bed and began to dress himself, whileRinkitink, in the other bed, was still sleeping peacefully. But whenthe boy had put on both his stockings and began looking for his shoes,he could find but one of them. The left shoe, that containing the PinkPearl, was missing.
Filled with anxiety at this discovery, Inga searched through the entireroom, looking underneath the beds and divans and chairs and behind thedraperies and in the corners and every other possible place a shoemight be. He tried the door, and found it still bolted; so, withgrowing uneasiness, the boy was forced to admit that the precious shoewas not in the room.
With a throbbing heart he aroused his companion.
"King Rinkitink," said he, "do you know what has become of my leftshoe?"
"Your shoe!" exclaimed the King, giving a wide yawn and rubbing hiseyes to get the sleep out of them. "Have you lost a shoe?"
"Yes," said Inga. "I have searched everywhere in the room, and cannotfind it."
"But why bother me about such a small thing?" inquired Rinkitink. "Ashoe is only a shoe, and you can easily get another one. But, stay!Perhaps it was your shoe which I threw at the cat last night."
"The cat!" cried Inga. "What do you mean?"
"Why, in the night," explained Rinkitink, sitting up and beginning todress himself, "I was wakened by the mewing of a cat that sat upon awall of the palace, just outside my window. As the noise disturbed me,I reached out in the dark and caught up something and threw it at thecat, to frighten the creature away. I did not know what it was that Ithrew, and I was too sleepy to care; but probably it was your shoe,since it is now missing."
"Then," said the boy, in a despairing tone of voice, "your carelessnesshas ruined me, as well as yourself, King Rinkitink, for in that shoewas concealed the magic power which protected us from danger."
The King's face became very serious when he heard this and he uttered alow whistle of surprise and regret.
"Why on earth did you not warn me of this?" he demanded. "And why didyou keep such a precious power in an old shoe? And why didn't you putthe shoe under a pillow? You were very wrong, my lad, in not confidingto me, your faithful friend, the secret, for in that case the shoewould not now be lost."
To all this Inga had no answer. He sat on the side of his bed, withhanging head, utterly disconsolate, and seeing this, Rinkitink had pityfor his sorrow.
"Come!" cried the King; "let us go out at once and look for the shoewhich I threw at the cat. It must even now be lying in the yard of thepalace."
This suggestion roused the boy to action. He at once threw open thedoor and in his stocking feet rushed down the staircase, closelyfollowed by Rinkitink. But although they looked on both sides of thepalace wall and in every possible crack and corner where a shoe mightlodge, they failed to find it.
After a half hour's careful search the boy said sorrowfully:
"Someone must have passed by, as we slept, and taken the precious shoe,not knowing its value. To us, King Rinkitink, this will be a dreadfulmisfortune, for we are surrounded by dangers from which we have now noprotection. Luckily I have the other shoe left, within which is themagic power that gives me strength; so all is not lost."
Then he told Rinkitink, in a few words, the secret of the wonderfulpearls, and how he had recovered them from the ruins and hidden them inhis shoes, and how they had enabled him to drive King Gos and his menfrom Regos and to capture the city. The King was much astonished, andwhen the story was concluded he said to Inga:
"What did you do with the other shoe?"
"Why, I left it in our bedroom," replied the boy.
"Then I advise you to get it at once," continued Rinkitink, "for we canill afford to lose the second shoe, as well as the one I threw at thecat."
"You are right!" cried Inga, and they hastened back to their bedchamber.
On entering the room they found an old woman sweeping and raising agreat deal of dust.
"Where is my shoe?" asked the Prince, anxiously.
The old woman stopped sweeping and looked at him in a stupid way, forshe was not very intelligent.
"Do you mean the one odd shoe that was lying on the floor when I camein?" she finally asked.
"Yes--yes!" answered the boy. "Where is it? Tell me where it is!"
"Why, I threw it on the dust-heap, outside the back gate," said she,"for, it being but a single shoe, with no mate, it can be of no use toanyone."
"Show us the way to the dust-heap--at once!" commanded the boy,sternly, for he was greatly frightened by this new misfortune whichthreatened him.
The old woman hobbled away and they followed her, constantly urging herto hasten; but when they reached the dust-heap no shoe was to be seen.
"This is terrible!" wailed the young Prince, ready to weep at his loss."We are now absolutely ruined, and at the mercy of our enemies. Norshall I be able to liberate my dear father and mother."
"Well," replied Rinkitink, leaning against an old barrel and lookingquite solemn, "the thing is certainly unlucky, any way we look at it. Isuppose someone has passed along here and, seeing the shoe upon thedust-heap, has carried it away. But no one could know the magic powerthe shoe contains and so will not use it against us. I believe, Inga,we must now depend upon our wits to get us out of the scrape we are in."
With saddened hearts they returned to the palace, and entering a smallroom where no one could observe them or overhear them, the boy took theWhite Pearl from its silken bag and held it to his ear, asking:
"What shall I do now?"
"Tell no one of your loss," answered the Voice of the Pearl. "If yourenemies do not know that you are powerless, they will fear you as muchas ever. Keep your secret, be patient, and fear not!"
Inga heeded this advice and also warned Rinkitink to say nothing toanyone of the loss of the shoes and the powers they contained. He sentfor the shoemaker of King Gos, who soon brought him a new pair of redleather shoes that fitted him quite well. When these had been put uponhis feet, the Prince, accompanied by the King, started to walk throughthe city.
Wherever they went the people bowed low to the conqueror, although afew, remembering Inga's terrible strength, ran away in fear andtrembling. They had been used to severe masters and did not yet knowhow they would be treated by King Gos's successor. There being nooccasion for the boy to exercise the powers he had displayed theprevious day, his present helplessness was not suspected by any of thecitizens of Regos, who still considered him a wonderful magician.
Inga did not dare to fight his way to the mines, at present, nor couldhe try to conquer the Island of Coregos, where his mother was enslaved;so he set about the regulation of the City of Regos, and havingestablished himself with great state in the royal palace he began togovern the people by kindness, having consideration for the most humble.
The King of Regos and his followers sent spies across to the islandthey had abandoned in their flight, and these spies returned with thenews that the terrible boy conqueror was still occupying the city.Therefore none of them ventured to go back to Regos but continued tolive upon the neighboring island of Coregos, where they passed the daysin fear and trembling and sought to plot and plan ways how they mightovercome the Prince of Pingaree and the fat King of Gilgad.
A Present for Zella
Now it so happened that on the morning of that same day when the Princeof Pingaree suffered the loss of his priceless shoes, there chanced topass along the road that wound beside the royal palace a poorcharcoal-burner named Nikobob, who was about to return to his home inthe forest.
Nikobob carried an ax and a bundle of torches over his shoulder and hewalked with his eyes to the ground, being deep in thought as to thestrange manner in which the powerful King Gos and his city had beenconquered by a boy Prince who had come from Pingaree.
Suddenly the charcoal-burner espied a shoe lying upon the ground, justbeyond the high wall of the palace and directly in his path. He pickedit up and, seeing it was a pretty shoe, although much too small for hisown foot, he put it in his pocket.
Soon after, on turning a corner of the wall, Nikobob came to adust-heap where, lying amidst a mass of rubbish, was another shoe--themate to the one he had before found. This also he placed in his pocket,saying to himself:
"I have now a fine pair of shoes for my daughter Zella, who will bemuch pleased to find I have brought her a present from the city."
And while the charcoal-burner turned into the forest and trudged alongthe path toward his home, Inga and Rinkitink were still searching forthe missing shoes. Of course, they could not know that Nikobob hadfound them, nor did the honest man think he had taken anything morethan a pair of cast-off shoes which nobody wanted.
Nikobob had several miles to travel through the forest before he couldreach the little log cabin where his wife, as well as his littledaughter Zella, awaited his return, but he was used to long walks andtramped along the path whistling cheerfully to beguile the time.
Few people, as I said before, ever passed through the dark and tangledforests of Regos, except to go to the mines in the mountain beyond, formany dangerous creatures lurked in the wild jungles, and King Gos neverknew, when he sent a messenger to the mines, whether he would reachthere safely or not.
The charcoal-burner, however, knew the wild forest well, and especiallythis part of it lying between the city and his home. It was thefavorite haunt of the ferocious beast Choggenmugger, dreaded by everydweller in the Island of Regos. Choggenmugger was so old that everyonethought it must have been there since the world was made, and each yearof its life the huge scales that covered its body grew thicker andharder and its jaws grew wider and its teeth grew sharper and itsappetite grew more keen than ever.
In former ages there had been many dragons in Regos, but Choggenmuggerwas so fond of dragons that he had eaten all of them long ago. Therehad also been great serpents and crocodiles in the forest marshes, butall had gone to feed the hunger of Choggenmugger. The people of Regosknew well there was no use opposing the Great Beast, so when oneunfortunately met with it he gave himself up for lost.
All this Nikobob knew well, but fortune had always favored him in hisjourney through the forest, and although he had at times met manysavage beasts and fought them with his sharp ax, he had never to thisday encountered the terrible Choggenmugger. Indeed, he was not thinkingof the Great Beast at all as he walked along, but suddenly he heard acrashing of broken trees and felt a trembling of the earth and saw theimmense jaws of Choggenmugger opening before him. Then Nikobob gavehimself up for lost and his heart almost ceased to beat.
He believed there was no way of escape. No one ever dared opposeChoggenmugger. But Nikobob hated to die without showing the monster, insome way, that he was eaten only under protest. So he raised his ax andbrought it down upon the red, protruding tongue of the monster--and cutit clean off!
For a moment the charcoal-burner scarcely believed what his eyes saw,for he knew nothing of the pearls he carried in his pocket or the magicpower they lent his arm. His success, however, encouraged him to strikeagain, and this time the huge scaly jaw of Choggenmugger was severed intwain and the beast howled in terrified rage.
Nikobob took off his coat, to give himself more freedom of action, andthen he earnestly renewed the attack. But now the ax seemed blunted bythe hard scales and made no impression upon them whatever. The creatureadvanced with glaring, wicked eyes, and Nikobob seized his coat underhis arm and turned to flee.
That was foolish, for Choggenmugger could run like the wind. In amoment it overtook the charcoal-burner and snapped its four rows ofsharp teeth together. But they did not touch Nikobob, because he stillheld the coat in his grasp, close to his body, and in the coat pocketwere Inga's shoes, and in the points of the shoes were the magicpearls. Finding himself uninjured, Nikobob put on his coat, againseized his ax, and in a short time had chopped Choggenmugger into manysmall pieces--a task that proved not only easy but very agreeable.
"I must be the strongest man in all the world!" thought thecharcoal-burner, as he proudly resumed his way, "for Choggenmugger hasbeen the terror of Regos since the world began, and I alone have beenable to destroy the beast. Yet it is singular' that never before did Idiscover how powerful a man I am."
He met no further adventure and at midday reached a little clearing inthe forest where stood his humble cabin.
"Great news! I have great news for you," he shouted, as his wife andlittle daughter came to greet him. "King Gos has been conquered by aboy Prince from the far island of Pingaree, and I have thisday--unaided--destroyed Choggenmugger by the might of my strong arm."
This was, indeed, great news. They brought Nikobob into the house andset him in an easy chair and made him tell everything he knew about thePrince of Pingaree and the fat King of Gilgad, as well as the detailsof his wonderful fight with mighty Choggenmugger.
"And now, my daughter," said the charcoalburner, when all his news hadbeen related for at least the third time, "here is a pretty present Ihave brought you from the city."
With this he drew the shoes from the pocket of his coat and handed themto Zella, who gave him a dozen kisses in payment and was much pleasedwith her gift. The little girl had never worn shoes before, for herparents were too poor to buy her such luxuries, so now the possessionof these, which were not much worn, filled the child's heart with joy.She admired the red leather and the graceful curl of the pointed toes.When she tried them on her feet, they fitted as well as if made for her.
All the afternoon, as she helped her mother with the housework, Zellathought of her pretty shoes. They seemed more important to her than thecoming to Regos of the conquering Prince of Pingaree, or even the deathof Choggenmugger.
When Zella and her mother were not working in the cabin, cooking orsewing, they often searched the neighboring forest for honey which thewild bees cleverly hid in hollow trees. The day after Nikobob's return,as they were starting out after honey, Zella decided to put on her newshoes, as they would keep the twigs that covered the ground fromhurting her feet. She was used to the twigs, of course, but what is theuse of having nice, comfortable shoes, if you do not wear them?
So she danced along, very happily, followed by her mother, andpresently they came to a tree in which was a deep hollow. Zella thrusther hand and arm into the space and found that the tree was full ofhoney, so she began to dig it out with a wooden paddle. Her mother, whoheld the pail, suddenly cried in warning:
"Look out, Zella; the bees are coming!" and then the good woman ranfast toward the house to escape.
Zella, however, had no more than time to turn her head when a thickswarm of bees surrounded her, angry because they had caught herstealing their honey and intent on stinging the girl as a punishment.She knew her danger and expected to be badly injured by the multitudeof stinging bees, but to her surprise the little creatures were unableto fly close enough to her to stick their dart-like stingers into herflesh. They swarmed about her in a dark cloud, and their angry buzzingwas terrible to hear, yet the little girl remained unharmed.
When she realized this, Zella was no longer afraid but continued toladle out the honey until she had secured all that was in the tree.Then she returned to the cabin, where her mother was weeping andbemoaning the fate of her darling child, and the good woman was greatlyastonished to find Zella had escaped injury.
Again they went to the woods to search for honey, and although themother always ran away whenever the bees came near them, Zella paid noattention to the creatures but kept at her work, so that before suppertime came the pails were again filled to overflowing with delicioushoney.
"With such good fortune as we have had this day," said her mother, "weshall soon gather enough honey for you to carry to Queen Cor." For itseems the wicked Queen was very fond of honey and it had been Zella'scustom to go, once every year, to the City of Coregos, to carry theQueen a supply of sweet honey for her table. Usually she had but onepail.
"But now," said Zella, "I shall be able to carry two pailsful to theQueen, who will, I am sure, give me a good price for it."
"True," answered her mother, "and, as the boy Prince may take it intohis head to conquer Coregos, as well as Regos, I think it best for youto start on your journey to Queen Cor tomorrow morning. Do you notagree with me, Nikobob?" she added, turning to her husband, thecharcoal-burner, who was eating his supper.
"I agree with you," he replied. "If Zella must go to the City ofCoregos, she may as well start to-morrow morning."
The Cunning of Queen Cor
You may be sure the Queen of Coregos was not well pleased to have KingGos and all his warriors living in her city after they had fled fromtheir own. They were savage natured and quarrelsome men at all times,and their tempers had not improved since their conquest by the Princeof Pingaree. Moreover, they were eating up Queen Cor's provisions andcrowding the houses of her own people, who grumbled and complaineduntil their Queen was heartily tired.
"Shame on you!" she said to her husband, King Gos, "to be driven out ofyour city by a boy, a roly-poly King and a billy goat! Why do you notgo back and fight them?"
"No human can fight against the powers of magic," returned the King ina surly voice. "That boy is either a fairy or under the protection offairies. We escaped with our lives only because we were quick to runaway; but, should we return to Regos, the same terrible power thatburst open the city gates would crush us all to atoms."
"Bah! you are a coward," cried the Queen, tauntingly.
"I am not a coward," said the big King. "I have killed in battle scoresof my enemies; by the might of my sword and my good right arm I haveconquered many nations; all my life people have feared me. But no onewould dare face the tremendous power of the Prince of Pingaree, boythough he is. It would not be courage, it would be folly, to attemptit."
"Then meet his power with cunning," suggested the Queen. "Take myadvice, and steal over to Regos at night, when it is dark, and captureor destroy the boy while he sleeps."
"No weapon can touch his body," was the answer. "He bears a charmedlife and cannot be injured."
"Does the fat King possess magic powers, or the goat?" inquired Cor.
"I think not," said Gos. "We could not injure them, indeed, any morethan we could the boy, but they did not seem to have any unusualstrength, although the goat's head is harder than a battering-ram."
"Well," mused the Queen, "there is surely some way to conquer thatslight boy. If you are afraid to undertake the job, I shall go myself.By some stratagem I shall manage to make him my prisoner. He will notdare to defy a Queen, and no magic can stand against a woman's cunning."
"Go ahead, if you like," replied the King, with an evil grin, "and ifyou are hung up by the thumbs or cast into a dungeon, it will serve youright for thinking you can succeed where a skilled warrior dares notmake the attempt."
"I'm not afraid," answered the Queen. "It is only soldiers and bullieswho are cowards."
In spite of this assertion, Queen Cor was not so brave as she wascunning. For several days she thought over this plan and that, andtried to decide which was most likely to succeed. She had never seenthe boy Prince but had heard so many tales of him from the defeatedwarriors, and especially from Captain Buzzub, that she had learned torespect his power.
Spurred on by the knowledge that she would never get rid of herunwelcome guests until Prince Inga was overcome and Regos regained forKing Gos, the Queen of Coregos finally decided to trust to luck and hernative wit to defeat a simple-minded boy, however powerful he might be.Inga could not suspect what she was going to do, because she did notknow herself. She intended to act boldly and trust to chance to win.
It is evident that had the cunning Queen known that Inga had lost allhis magic, she would not have devoted so much time to the simple matterof capturing him, but like all others she was impressed by themarvelous exhibition of power he had shown in capturing Regos, and hadno reason to believe the boy was less powerful now.
One morning Queen Cor boldly entered a boat, and, taking four men withher as an escort and bodyguard, was rowed across the narrow channel toRegos. Prince Inga was sitting in the palace playing checkers with KingRinkitink when a servant came to him, saying that Queen Cor had arrivedand desired an audience with him.
With many misgivings lest the wicked Queen discover that he had nowlost his magic powers, the boy ordered her to be admitted, and she soonentered the room and bowed low before him, in mock respect.
Cor was a big woman, almost as tall as King Gos. She had flashing blackeyes and the dark complexion you see on gypsies. Her temper, whenirritated, was something dreadful, and her face wore an evil expressionwhich she tried to cover by smiling sweetly--often when she meant themost mischief.
"I have come," said she in a low voice, "to render homage to the noblePrince of Pingaree. I am told that Your Highness is the strongestperson in the world, and invincible in battle, and therefore I wish youto become my friend, rather than my enemy."
Now Inga did not know how to reply to this speech. He disliked theappearance of the woman and was afraid of her and he was unused todeception and did not know how to mask his real feelings. So he tooktime to think over his answer, which he finally made in these words:
"I have no quarrel with Your Majesty, and my only reason for cominghere is to liberate my father and mother, and my people, whom you andyour husband have made your slaves, and to recover the goods King Goshas plundered from the Island of Pingaree. This I hope soon toaccomplish, and if you really wish to be my friend, you can assist megreatly."
While he was speaking Queen Cor had been studying the boy's facestealthily, from the corners of her eyes, and she said to herself: "Heis so small and innocent that I believe I can capture him alone, andwith ease. He does not seem very terrible and I suspect that King Gosand his warriors were frightened at nothing."
Then, aloud, she said to Inga:
"I wish to invite you, mighty Prince, and your friend, the great Kingof Gilgad, to visit my poor palace at Coregos, where all my peopleshall do you honor. Will you come?"
"At present," replied Inga, uneasily, "I must refuse your kindinvitation."
"There will be feasting, and dancing girls, and games and fireworks,"said the Queen, speaking as if eager to entice him and at each wordcoming a step nearer to where he stood.
"I could not enjoy them while my poor parents are slaves," said theboy, sadly.
"Are you sure of that?" asked Queen Cor, and by that time she was closebeside Inga. Suddenly she leaned forward and threw both of her longarms around Inga's body, holding him in a grasp that was like a vise.
Now Rinkitink sprang forward to rescue his friend, but Cor kicked outviciously with her foot and struck the King squarely on his stomach--avery tender place to be kicked, especially if one is fat. Then, stillhugging Inga tightly, the Queen called aloud:
"I've got him! Bring in the ropes."
Instantly the four men she had brought with her sprang into the roomand bound the boy hand and foot. Next they seized Rinkitink, who wasstill rubbing his stomach, and bound him likewise.
With a laugh of wicked triumph, Queen Cor now led her captives down tothe boat and returned with them to Coregos.
Great was the astonishment of King Gos and his warriors when they sawthat the mighty Prince of Pingaree, who had put them all to flight, hadbeen captured by a woman. Cowards as they were, they now crowded aroundthe boy and jeered at him, and some of them would have struck him hadnot the Queen cried out:
"Hands off! He is my prisoner, remember not yours."
"Well, Cor, what are you going to do with him?" inquired King Gos.
"I shall make him my slave, that he may amuse my idle hours. For he isa pretty boy, and gentle, although he did frighten all of you bigwarriors so terribly."
The King scowled at this speech, not liking to be ridiculed, but hesaid nothing more. He and his men returned that same day to Regos,after restoring the bridge of boats. And they held a wild carnival ofrejoicing, both in the King's palace and in the city, although the poorpeople of Regos who were not warriors were all sorry that the kindyoung Prince had been captured by his enemies and could rule them nolonger.
When her unwelcome guests had all gone back to Regos and the Queen wasalone in her palace, she ordered Inga and Rinkitink brought before herand their bonds removed. They came sadly enough, knowing they were inserious straits and at the mercy of a cruel mistress. Inga had takencounsel of the White Pearl, which had advised him to bear up bravelyunder his misfortune, promising a change for the better very soon. Withthis promise to comfort him, Inga faced the Queen with a dignifiedbearing that indicated both pride and courage.
"Well, youngster," said she, in a cheerful tone because she was pleasedwith her success, "you played a clever trick on my poor husband andfrightened him badly, but for that prank I am inclined to forgive you.Hereafter I intend you to be my page, which means that you must fetchand carry for me at my will. And let me advise you to obey my everywhim without question or delay, for when I am angry I become ugly, andwhen I am ugly someone is sure to feel the lash. Do you understand me?"
Inga bowed, but made no answer. Then she turned to Rinkitink and said:
"As for you, I cannot decide how to make you useful to me, as you arealtogether too fat and awkward to work in the fields. It may be,however, that I can use you as a pincushion.
"What!" cried Rinkitink in horror, "would you stick pins into the Kingof Gilgad?"
"Why not?" returned Queen Cor. "You are as fat as a pincushion, as youmust yourself admit, and whenever I needed a pin I could call you tome." Then she laughed at his frightened look and asked: "By the way,are you ticklish?"
This was the question Rinkitink had been dreading. He gave a moan ofdespair and shook his head.
"I should love to tickle the bottom of your feet with a feather,"continued the cruel woman. "Please take off your shoes."
"Oh, your Majesty!" pleaded poor Rinkitink, "I beg you to allow me toamuse you in some other way. I can dance, or I can sing you a song."
"Well," she answered, shaking with laughter, "you may sing a song--ifit be a merry one. But you do not seem in a merry mood."
"I feel merry--indeed, Your Majesty, I do!" protested Rinkitink,anxious to escape the tickling. But even as he professed to "feelmerry" his round, red face wore an expression of horror and anxietythat was realty comical.
"Sing, then!" commanded Queen Cor, who was greatly amused.
Rinkitink gave a sigh of relief and after clearing his throat andtrying to repress his sobs he began to sing this song-gently, at first,but finally roaring it out at the top of his voice:
"Oh! There was a Baby Tiger lived in a men-ag-er-ie-- Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy--they wouldn't set him free; And ev'rybody thought that he was gentle as could be-- Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy--Ba-by Ti-ger!
"Oh! They patted him upon his head and shook him by the paw-- Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy--he had a bone to gnaw; But soon he grew the biggest Tiger that you ever saw-- Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy--what a Ti-ger!
"Oh! One day they came to pet the brute and he began to fight-- Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy-how he did scratch and bite! He broke the cage and in a rage he darted out of sight-- Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy was a Ti-ger!"
"And is there a moral to the song?" asked Queen Cor, when KingRinkitink had finished his song with great spirit.
"If there is," replied Rinkitink, "it is a warning not to fool withtigers."
The little Prince could not help smiling at this shrewd answer, butQueen Cor frowned and gave the King a sharp look.
"Oh," said she; "I think I know the difference between a tiger and alapdog. But I'll bear the warning in mind, just the same."
For, after all her success in capturing them, she was a little afraidof these people who had once displayed such extraordinary powers.
Zella Goes to Coregos
The forest in which Nikobob lived with his wife and daughter stoodbetween the mountains and the City of Regos, and a well-beaten pathwound among the trees, leading from the city to the mines. This pathwas used by the King's messengers, and captured prisoners were alsosent by this way from Regos to work in the underground caverns.
Nikobob had built his cabin more than a mile away from this path, thathe might not be molested by the wild and lawless soldiers of King Gos,but the family of the charcoal-burner was surrounded by many creaturesscarcely less dangerous to encounter, and often in the night they couldhear savage animals growling and prowling about the cabin. BecauseNikobob minded his own business and never hunted the wild creatures toinjure them, the beasts had come to regard him as one of the naturaldwellers in the forest and did not molest him or his family. StillZella and her mother seldom wandered far from home, except on sucherrands as carrying honey to Coregos, and at these times Nikobobcautioned them to be very careful.
So when Zella set out on her journey to Queen Cor, with the two pailsof honey in her hands, she was undertaking a dangerous adventure andthere was no certainty that she would return safely to her lovingparents. But they were poor, and Queen Cor's money, which they expectedto receive for the honey, would enable them to purchase many thingsthat were needed; so it was deemed best that Zella should go. She was abrave little girl and poor people are often obliged to take chancesthat rich ones are spared.
A passing woodchopper had brought news to Nikobob's cabin that QueenCor had made a prisoner of the conquering Prince of Pingaree and thatGos and his warriors were again back in their city of Regos; but thesestruggles and conquests were matters which, however interesting, didnot concern the poor charcoal-burner or his family. They were moreanxious over the report that the warriors had become more reckless thanever before, and delighted in annoying all the common people; so Zellawas told to keep away from the beaten path as much as possible, thatshe might not encounter any of the King's soldiers.
"When it is necessary to choose between the warriors and the wildbeasts," said Nikobob, "the beasts will be found the more merciful."
The little girl had put on her best attire for the journey and hermother threw a blue silk shawl over her head and shoulders. Upon herfeet were the pretty red shoes her father had brought her from Regos.Thus prepared, she kissed her parents good-bye and started out with alight heart, carrying the pails of honey in either hand.
It was necessary for Zella to cross the path that led from the mines tothe city, but once on the other side she was not likely to meet withanyone, for she had resolved to cut through the forest and so reach thebridge of boats without entering the City of Regos, where she might beinterrupted. For an hour or two she found the walking easy enough, butthen the forest, which in this part was unknown to her, became badlytangled. The trees were thicker and creeping vines intertwined betweenthem. She had to turn this way and that to get through at all, andfinally she came to a place where a network of vines and brancheseffectually barred her farther progress.
Zella was dismayed, at first, when she encountered this obstacle, butsetting down her pails she made an endeavor to push the branches aside.At her touch they parted as if by magic, breaking asunder like driedtwigs, and she found she could pass freely. At another place a greatlog had fallen across her way, but the little girl lifted it easily andcast it aside, although six ordinary men could scarcely have moved it.
The child was somewhat worried at this evidence of a strength she hadheretofore been ignorant that she possessed. In order to satisfyherself that it was no delusion, she tested her new-found power in manyways, finding that nothing was too big nor too heavy for her to lift.And, naturally enough, the girl gained courage from these experimentsand became confident that she could protect herself in any emergency.When, presently, a wild boar ran toward her, grunting horribly andthreatening her with its great tusks, she did not climb a tree toescape, as she had always done before on meeting such creatures, butstood still and faced the boar. When it had come quite close and Zellasaw that it could not injure her--a fact that astonished both the beastand the girl--she suddenly reached down and seizing it by one ear threwthe great beast far off amongst the trees, where it fell headlong tothe earth, grunting louder than ever with surprise and fear.
The girl laughed merrily at this incident and, picking up her pails,resumed her journey through the forest. It is not recorded whether thewild boar told his adventure to the other beasts or they had happenedto witness his defeat, but certain it is that Zella was not againmolested. A brown bear watched her pass without making any movement inher direction and a great puma--a beast much dreaded by all men--creptout of her path as she approached, and disappeared among the trees.
Thus everything favored the girl's journey and she made such good speedthat by noon she emerged from the forest's edge and found she was quitenear to the bridge of boats that led to Coregos. This she crossedsafely and without meeting any of the rude warriors she so greatlyfeared, and five minutes later the daughter of the charcoal-burner wasseeking admittance at the back door of Queen Cor's palace.
The Excitement of Bilbil the Goat
Our story must now return to one of our characters whom we have beenforced to neglect. The temper of Bilbil the goat was not sweet underany circumstances, and whenever he had a grievance he was inclined tobe quite grumpy. So, when his master settled down in the palace of KingGos for a quiet life with the boy Prince, and passed his time inplaying checkers and eating and otherwise enjoying himself, he had nouse whatever for Bilbil, and shut the goat in an upstairs room toprevent his wandering through the city and quarreling with thecitizens. But this Bilbil did not like at all. He became very cross anddisagreeable at being left alone and he did not speak nicely to theservants who came to bring him food; therefore those people decided notto wait upon him any more, resenting his conversation and not liking tobe scolded by a lean, scraggly goat, even though it belonged to aconqueror. The servants kept away from the room and Bilbil grew morehungry and more angry every hour. He tried to eat the rugs andornaments, but found them not at all nourishing. There was no grass tobe had unless he escaped from the palace.
When Queen Cor came to capture Inga and Rinkitink, both the prisonerswere so filled with despair at their own misfortune that they gave nothought whatever to the goat, who was left in his room. Nor did Bilbilknow anything of the changed fortunes of his comrades until he heardshouts and boisterous laughter in the courtyard below. Looking out of awindow, with the intention of rebuking those who dared thus to disturbhim, Bilbil saw the courtyard quite filled with warriors and knew fromthis that the palace had in some way again fallen into the hands of theenemy.
Now, although Bilbil was often exceedingly disagreeable to KingRinkitink, as well as to the Prince, and sometimes used harsh words inaddressing them, he was intelligent enough to know them to be hisfriends, and to know that King Gos and his people were his foes. Insudden anger, provoked by the sight of the warriors and the knowledgethat he was in the power of the dangerous men of Regos, Bilbil buttedhis head against the door of his room and burst it open. Then he ran tothe head of the staircase and saw King Gos coming up the stairsfollowed by a long line of his chief captains and warriors.
The goat lowered his head, trembling with rage and excitement, and justas the King reached the top stair the animal dashed forward and buttedHis Majesty so fiercely that the big and powerful King, who did notexpect an attack, doubled up and tumbled backward. His great weightknocked over the man just behind him and he in turn struck the nextwarrior and upset him, so that in an instant the whole line of Bilbil'sfoes was tumbling heels over head to the bottom of the stairs, wherethey piled up in a heap, struggling and shouting and in the mixuphitting one another with their fists, until every man of them wasbruised and sore.
Finally King Gos scrambled out of the heap and rushed up the stairsagain, very angry indeed. Bilbil was ready for him and a second timebutted the King down the stairs; but now the goat also lost his balanceand followed the King, landing full upon the confused heap of soldiers.Then he kicked out so viciously with his heels that he soon freedhimself and dashed out of the doorway of the palace.
"Stop him!" cried King Gos, running after.
But the goat was now so wild and excited that it was not safe foranyone to stand in his way. None of the men were armed and when one ortwo tried to head off the goat, Bilbil sent them sprawling upon theground. Most of the warriors, however, were wise enough not to attemptto interfere with his flight.
Coursing down the street, Bilbil found himself approaching the bridgeof boats and without pausing to think where it might lead him hecrossed over and proceeded on his way. A few moments later a greatstone building blocked his path. It was the palace of Queen Cor, andseeing the gates of the courtyard standing wide open, Bilbil rushedthrough them without slackening his speed.
Zella Saves the Prince
The wicked Queen of Coregos was in a very bad humor this morning, forone of her slave drivers had come from the fields to say that a numberof slaves had rebelled and would not work.
"Bring them here to me!" she cried savagely. "A good whipping may makethem change their minds."
So the slave driver went to fetch the rebellious ones and Queen Cor satdown to eat her breakfast, an ugly look on her face.
Prince Inga had been ordered to stand behind his new mistress with abig fan of peacock's feathers, but he was so unused to such servicethat he awkwardly brushed her ear with the fan. At once she flew into aterrible rage and slapped the Prince twice with her hand-blows thattingled, too, for her hand was big and hard and she was not inclined tobe gentle. Inga took the blows without shrinking or uttering a cry,although they stung his pride far more than his body. But KingRinkitink, who was acting as the queen's butler and had just brought inher coffee, was so startled at seeing the young Prince punished that hetipped over the urn and the hot coffee streamed across the lap of theQueen's best morning gown.
Cor sprang from her seat with a scream of anger and poor Rinkitinkwould doubtless have been given a terrible beating had not the slavedriver returned at this moment and attracted the woman's attention. Theoverseer had brought with him all of the women slaves from Pingaree,who had been loaded down with chains and were so weak and ill theycould scarcely walk, much less work in the fields.
Prince Inga's eyes were dimmed with sorrowful tears when he discoveredhow his poor people had been abused, but his own plight was so helplessthat he was unable to aid them. Fortunately the boy's mother, QueenGaree, was not among these slaves, for Queen Cor had placed her in theroyal dairy to make butter.
"Why do you refuse to work?" demanded Cor in a harsh voice, as theslaves from Pingaree stood before her, trembling and with downcast eyes.
"Because we lack strength to perform the tasks your overseers demand,"answered one of the women.
"Then you shall be whipped until your strength returns!" exclaimed theQueen, and turning to Inga, she commanded: "Get me the whip with theseven lashes."
As the boy left the room, wondering how he might manage to save theunhappy women from their undeserved punishment, he met a girl enteringby the back way, who asked:
"Can you tell me where to find Her Majesty, Queen Cor?"
"She is in the chamber with the red dome, where green dragons arepainted upon the walls," replied Inga; "but she is in an angry andungracious mood to-day. Why do you wish to see her?"
"I have honey to sell," answered the girl, who was Zella, just comefrom the forest. "The Queen is very fond of my honey."
"You may go to her, if you so desire," said the boy, "but take care notto anger the cruel Queen, or she may do you a mischief."
"Why should she harm me, who brings her the honey she so dearly loves?"inquired the child innocently. "But I thank you for your warning; and Iwill try not to anger the Queen."
As Zella started to go, Inga's eyes suddenly fell upon her shoes andinstantly he recognized them as his own. For only in Pingaree wereshoes shaped in this manner: high at the heel and pointed at the toes.
"Stop!" he cried in an excited voice, and the girl obeyed, wonderingly."Tell me," he continued, more gently, "where did you get those shoes?"
"My father brought them to me from Regos," she answered.
"Yes. Are they not pretty?" asked Zella, looking down at her feet toadmire them. "One of them my father found by the palace wall, and theother on an ash-heap. So he brought them to me and they fit meperfectly."
By this time Inga was trembling with eager joy, which of course thegirl could not understand.
"What is your name, little maid?" he asked.
"I am called Zella, and my father is Nikobob, the charcoal-burner."
"Zella is a pretty name. I am Inga, Prince of Pingaree," said he, "andthe shoes you are now wearing, Zella, belong to me. They were not castaway, as your father supposed, but were lost. Will you let me have themagain?"
Zella's eyes filled with tears.
"Must I give up my pretty shoes, then?" she asked. "They are the onlyones I have ever owned."
Inga was sorry for the poor child, but he knew how important it wasthat he regain possession of the Magic Pearls. So he said, pleadingly:
"Please let me have them, Zella. See! I will exchange for them theshoes I now have on, which are newer and prettier than the others."
The girl hesitated. She wanted to please the boy Prince, yet she hatedto exchange the shoes which her father had brought her as a present.
"If you will give me the shoes," continued the boy, anxiously, "I willpromise to make you and your father and mother rich and prosperous.Indeed, I will promise to grant any favors you may ask of me," and hesat down upon the floor and drew off the shoes he was wearing and heldthem toward the girl.
"I'll see if they will fit me," said Zella, taking off her leftshoe--the one that contained the Pink Pearl--and beginning to put onone of Inga's.
Just then Queen Cor, angry at being made to wait for her whip with theseven lashes, rushed into the room to find Inga. Seeing the boy sittingupon the floor beside Zella, the woman sprang toward him to beat himwith her clenched fists; but Inga had now slipped on the shoe and theQueen's blows could not reach his body.
Then Cor espied the whip lying beside Inga and snatching it up shetried to lash him with it--all to no avail.
While Zella sat horrified by this scene, the Prince, who realized hehad no time to waste, reached out and pulled the right shoe from thegirl's foot, quickly placing it upon his own. Then he stood up and,facing the furious but astonished Queen, said to her in a quiet voice:
"Madam, please give me that whip."
"I won't!" answered Cor. "I'm going to lash those Pingaree women withit."
The boy seized hold of the whip and with irresistible strength drew itfrom the Queen's hand. But she drew from her bosom a sharp dagger andwith the swiftness of lightning aimed a blow at Inga's heart. He merelystood still and smiled, for the blade rebounded and fell clattering tothe floor.
Then, at last, Queen Cor understood the magic power that had terrifiedher husband but which she had ridiculed in her ignorance, not believingin it. She did not know that Inga's power had been lost, and foundagain, but she realized the boy was no common foe and that unless shecould still manage to outwit him her reign in the Island of Coregos wasended. To gain time, she went back to the red-domed chamber and seatedherself in her throne, before which were grouped the weeping slavesfrom Pingaree.
Inga had taken Zella's hand and assisted her to put on the shoes he hadgiven her in exchange for his own. She found them quite comfortable anddid not know she had lost anything by the transfer.
"Come with me," then said the boy Prince, and led her into the presenceof Queen Cor, who was giving Rinkitink a scolding. To the overseer Ingasaid.
"Give me the keys which unlock these chains, that I may set these poorwomen at liberty."
"Don't you do it!" screamed Queen Cor.
"If you interfere, madam," said the boy, "I will put you into adungeon."
By this Rinkitink knew that Inga had recovered his Magic Pearls and thelittle fat King was so overjoyed that he danced and capered all aroundthe room. But the Queen was alarmed at the threat and the slave driver,fearing the conqueror of Regos, tremblingly gave up the keys.
Inga quickly removed all the shackles from the women of his country andcomforted them, telling them they should work no more but would soon berestored to their homes in Pingaree. Then he commanded the slave driverto go and get all the children who had been made slaves, and to bringthem to their mothers. The man obeyed and left at once to perform hiserrand, while Queen Cor, growing more and more uneasy, suddenly sprangfrom her throne and before Inga could stop her had rushed through theroom and out into the courtyard of the palace, meaning to make herescape. Rinkitink followed her, running as fast as he could go.
It was at this moment that Bilbil, in his mad dash from Regos, turnedin at the gates of the courtyard, and as he was coming one way andQueen Cor was going the other they bumped into each other with greatforce. The woman sailed through the air, over Bilbil's head, and landedon the ground outside the gates, where her crown rolled into a ditchand she picked herself up, half dazed, and continued her flight. Bilbilwas also somewhat dazed by the unexpected encounter, but he continuedhis rush rather blindly and so struck poor Rinkitink, who was chasingafter Queen Cor. They rolled over one another a few times and thenRinkitink sat up and Bilbil sat up and they looked at each other inamazement.
"Bilbil," said the King, "I'm astonished at you!"
"Your Majesty," said Bilbil, "I expected kinder treatment at yourhands."
"You interrupted me," said Rinkitink.
"There was plenty of room without your taking my path," declared thegoat.
And then Inga came running out and said. "Where is the Queen?"
"Gone," replied Rinkitink, "but she cannot go far, as this is anisland. However, I have found Bilbil, and our party is again reunited.You have recovered your magic powers, and again we are masters of thesituation. So let us be thankful."
Saying this, the good little King got upon his feet and limped backinto the throne room to help comfort the women.
Presently the children of Pingaree, who had been gathered together bythe overseer, were brought in and restored to their mothers, and therewas great rejoicing among them, you may be sure.
"But where is Queen Garee, my dear mother?" questioned Inga; but thewomen did not know and it was some time before the overseer rememberedthat one of the slaves from Pingaree had been placed in the royaldairy. Perhaps this was the woman the boy was seeking.
Inga at once commanded him to lead the way to the butter house, butwhen they arrived there Queen Garee was nowhere in the place, althoughthe boy found a silk scarf which he recognized as one that his motherused to wear. Then they began a search throughout the island ofCoregos, but could not find Inga's mother anywhere.
When they returned to the palace of Queen Cor, Rinkitink discoveredthat the bridge of boats had again been removed, separating them fromRegos, and from this they suspected that Queen Cor had fled to herhusband's island and had taken Queen Garee with her. Inga was muchperplexed what to do and returned with his friends to the palace totalk the matter over.
Zella was now crying because she had not sold her honey and was unableto return to her parents on the island of Regos, but the boy princecomforted her and promised she should be protected until she could berestored to her home. Rinkitink found Queen Cor's purse, which she hadhad no time to take with her, and gave Zella several gold pieces forthe honey. Then Inga ordered the palace servants to prepare a feast forall the women and children of Pingaree and to prepare for them beds inthe great palace, which was large enough to accommodate them all.
Then the boy and the goat and Rinkitink and Zella went into a privateroom to consider what should be done next.
"Our fault," said Rinkitink, "is that we conquer only one of these twinislands at a time. When we conquered Regos, our foes all came toCoregos, and now that we have conquered Coregos, the Queen has fled toRegos. And each time they removed the bridge of boats, so that we couldnot follow them."
"What has become of our own boat, in which we came from Pingaree?"asked Bilbil.
"We left it on the shore of Regos," replied the Prince, "but I wonderif we could not get it again."
"Why don't you ask the White Pearl?" suggested Rinkitink.
"That is a good idea," returned the boy, and at once he drew the WhitePearl from its silken bag and held it to his ear. Then he asked: "Howmay I regain our boat?"
The Voice of the Pearl replied: "Go to the south end of the Island ofCoregos, and clap your hands three times and the boat will come to you.
"Very good!" cried Inga, and then he turned to his companions and said:"We shall be able to get our boat whenever we please; but what thenshall we do?"
"Take me home in it!" pleaded Zella.
"Come with me to my City of Gilgad," said the King, "where you will bevery welcome to remain forever."
"No," answered Inga, "I must rescue my father and mother, as well as mypeople. Already I have the women and children of Pingaree, but the menare with my father in the mines of Regos, and my dear mother has beentaken away by Queen Cor. Not until all are rescued will I consent toleave these islands."
"Quite right!" exclaimed Bilbil.
"On second thought," said Rinkitink, "I agree with you. If you arecareful to sleep in your shoes, and never take them off again, Ibelieve you will be able to perform the task you have undertaken."
They counseled together for a long time as to their mode of action andit was finally considered best to make the attempt to liberate KingKitticut first of all, and with him the men from Pingaree. This wouldgive them an army to assist them and afterward they could march toRegos and compel Queen Cor to give up the Queen of Pingaree. Zella toldthem that they could go in their boat along the shore of Regos to apoint opposite the mines, thus avoiding any conflict with the warriorsof King Gos.
This being considered the best course to pursue, they resolved to starton the following morning, as night was even now approaching. Theservants being all busy in caring for the women and children, Zellaundertook to get a dinner for Inga and Rinkitink and herself and soonprepared a fine meal in the palace kitchen, for she was a good littlecook and had often helped her mother. The dinner was served in a smallroom overlooking the gardens and Rinkitink thought the best part of itwas the sweet honey, which he spread upon the biscuits that Zella hadmade. As for Bilbil, he wandered through the palace grounds and foundsome grass that made him a good dinner.
During the evening Inga talked with the women and cheered them,promising soon to reunite them with their husbands who were working inthe mines and to send them back to their own island of Pingaree.
Next morning the boy rose bright and early and found that Zella hadalready prepared a nice breakfast. And after the meal they went to themost southern point of the island, which was not very far away,Rinkitink riding upon Bilbil's back and Inga and Zella following behindthem, hand in hand.
When they reached the water's edge the boy advanced and clapped hishands together three times, as the White Pearl had told him to do. Andin a few moments they saw in the distance the black boat with thesilver lining, coming swiftly toward them from the sea. Presently itgrounded on the beach and they all got into it.
Zella was delighted with the boat, which was the most beautiful she hadever seen, and the marvel of its coming to them through the waterwithout anyone to row it, made her a little afraid of the fairy craft.But Inga picked up the oars and began to row and at once the boat shotswiftly in the direction of Regos. They rounded the point of thatisland where the city was built and noticed that the shore was linedwith warriors who had discovered their boat but seemed undecidedwhether to pursue it or not. This was probably because they hadreceived no commands what to do, or perhaps they had learned to fearthe magic powers of these adventurers from Pingaree and were unwillingto attack them unless their King ordered them to.
The coast on the western side of the Island of Regos was very unevenand Zella, who knew fairly well the location of the mines from theinland forest path, was puzzled to decide which mountain they nowviewed from the sea was the one where the entrance to the undergroundcaverns was located. First she thought it was this peak, and then sheguessed it was that; so considerable time was lost through heruncertainty.
They finally decided to land and explore the country, to see where theywere, so Inga ran the boat into a little rocky cove where they alldisembarked. For an hour they searched for the path without finding anytrace of it and now Zella believed they had gone too far to the northand must return to another mountain that was nearer to the city.
Once again they entered the boat and followed the winding coast southuntil they thought they had reached the right place. By this time,however, it was growing dark, for the entire day had been spent in thesearch for the entrance to the mines, and Zella warned them that itwould be safer to spend the night in the boat than on the land, wherewild beasts were sure to disturb them. None of them realized at thistime how fatal this day of search had been to their plans and perhapsif Inga had realized what was going on he would have landed and foughtall the wild beasts in the forest rather than quietly remain in theboat until morning.
However, knowing nothing of the cunning plans of Queen Cor and KingGos, they anchored their boat in a little bay and cheerfully ate theirdinner, finding plenty of food and drink in the boat's lockers. In theevening the stars came out in the sky and tipped the waves around theirboat with silver. All around them was delightfully still save for theoccasional snarl of a beast on the neighboring shore.
They talked together quietly of their adventures and their future plansand Zella told them her simple history and how hard her poor father wasobliged to work, burning charcoal to sell for enough money to supporthis wife and child. Nikobob might be the humblest man in all Regos, butZella declared he was a good man, and honest, and it was not his faultthat his country was ruled by so wicked a King.
Then Rinkitink, to amuse them, offered to sing a song, and althoughBilbil protested in his gruff way, claiming that his master's voice wascracked and disagreeable, the little King was encouraged by the othersto sing his song, which he did.
"A red-headed man named Ned was dead; Sing fiddle-cum-faddle-cum-fi-do! In battle he had lost his head; Sing fiddle-cum-faddl-cum-fi-do! 'Alas, poor Ned,' to him I said, 'How did you lose your head so red?' Sing fiddle-cum-faddle-cum-fi-do!
"Said Ned: 'I for my country bled,' Sing fiddle-cum-faddle-cum-fi-do! 'Instead of dying safe in bed', Sing fiddle-cum-faddle-cum-fi-do! 'If I had only fled, instead, I then had been a head ahead.' Sing fiddle-cum-faddle-cum-fi-do!
"I said to Ned--"
"Do stop, Your Majesty!" pleaded Bilbil. "You're making my head ache."
"But the song isn't finished," replied Rinkitink, "and as for your headaching, think of poor Ned, who hadn't any head at all!"
"I can think of nothing but your dismal singing," retorted Bilbil. "Whydidn't you choose a cheerful subject, instead of telling how a man whowas dead lost his red head? Really, Rinkitink, I'm surprised at you.
"I know a splendid song about a live man, said the King.
"Then don't sing it," begged Bilbil.
Zella was both astonished and grieved by the disrespectful words of thegoat, for she had quite enjoyed Rinkitink's singing and had been taughta proper respect for Kings and those high in authority. But as it wasnow getting late they decided to go to sleep, that they might riseearly the following morning, so they all reclined upon the bottom ofthe big boat and covered themselves with blankets which they foundstored underneath the seats for just such occasions. They were not longin falling asleep and did not waken until daybreak.
After a hurried breakfast, for Inga was eager to liberate his father,the boy rowed the boat ashore and they all landed and began searchingfor the path. Zella found it within the next half hour and declaredthey must be very close to the entrance to the mines; so they followedthe path toward the north, Inga going first, and then Zella followinghim, while Rinkitink brought up the rear riding upon Bilbil's back.
Before long they saw a great wall of rock towering before them, inwhich was a low arched entrance, and on either side of this entrancestood a guard, armed with a sword and a spear. The guards of the mineswere not so fierce as the warriors of King Gos, their duty being tomake the slaves work at their tasks and guard them from escaping; butthey were as cruel as their cruel master wished them to be, and ascowardly as they were cruel.
Inga walked up to the two men at the entrance and said:
"Does this opening lead to the mines of King Gos?"
"It does," replied one of the guards, "but no one is allowed to passout who once goes in."
"Nevertheless," said the boy, "we intend to go in and we shall come outwhenever it pleases us to do so. I am the Prince of Pingaree, and Ihave come to liberate my people, whom King Gos has enslaved."
Now when the two guards heard this speech they looked at one anotherand laughed, and one of them said: "The King was right, for he said theboy was likely to come here and that he would try to set his peoplefree. Also the King commanded that we must keep the little Prince inthe mines, and set him to work, together with his companions."
"Then let us obey the King," replied the other man.
Inga was surprised at hearing this, and asked:
"When did King Gos give you this order?"
"His Majesty was here in person last night," replied the man, "and wentaway again but an hour ago. He suspected you were coming here and toldus to capture you if we could."
This report made the boy very anxious, not for himself but for hisfather, for he feared the King was up to some mischief. So he hastenedto enter the mines and the guards did nothing to oppose him or hiscompanions, their orders being to allow him to go in but not to comeout.
The little group of adventurers passed through a long rocky corridorand reached a low, wide cavern where they found a dozen guards and ahundred slaves, the latter being hard at work with picks and shovelsdigging for gold, while the guards stood over them with long whips.
Inga found many of the men from Pingaree among these slaves, but KingKitticut was not in this cavern; so they passed through it and enteredanother corridor that led to a second cavern. Here also hundreds of menwere working, but the boy did not find his father amongst them, and sowent on to a third cavern.
The corridors all slanted downward, so that the farther they went thelower into the earth they descended, and now they found the air hot andclose and difficult to breathe. Flaming torches were stuck into thewalls to give light to the workers, and these added to the oppressiveheat.
The third and lowest cavern was the last in the mines, and here weremany scores of slaves and many guards to keep them at work. So far,none of the guards had paid any attention to Inga's party, but allowedthem to proceed as they would, and while the slaves cast curiousglances at the boy and girl and man and goat, they dared say nothing.But now the boy walked up to some of the men of Pingaree and asked newsof his father, telling them not to fear the guards as he would protectthem from the whips.
Then he Teamed that King Kitticut had indeed been working in this verycavern until the evening before, when King Gos had come and taken himaway--still loaded with chains.
"Seems to me," said King Rinkitink, when he heard this report, "thatGos has carried your father away to Regos, to prevent us from rescuinghim. He may hide poor Kitticut in a dungeon, where we cannot find him."
"Perhaps you are right," answered the boy, "but I am determined to findhim, wherever he may be."
Inga spoke firmly and with courage, but he was greatly disappointed tofind that King Gos had been before him at the mines and had taken hisfather away. However, he tried not to feel disheartened, believing hewould succeed in the end, in spite of all opposition. Turning to theguards, he said:
"Remove the chains from these slaves and set them free."
The guards laughed at this order, and one of them brought forward ahandful of chains, saying: "His Majesty has commanded us to make you,also, a slave, for you are never to leave these caverns again."
Then he attempted to place the chains on Inga, but the boy indignantlyseized them and broke them apart as easily as if they had been cottoncords. When a dozen or more of the guards made a dash to capture him,the Prince swung the end of the chain like a whip and drove them into acorner, where they cowered and begged for mercy.
Stories of the marvelous strength of the boy Prince had already spreadto the mines of Regos, and although King Gos had told them that Ingahad been deprived of all his magic power, the guards now saw this wasnot true, so they deemed it wise not to attempt to oppose him.
The chains of the slaves had all been riveted fast to their ankles andwrists, but Inga broke the bonds of steel with his hands and set thepoor men free--not only those from Pingaree but all who had beencaptured in the many wars and raids of King Gos. They were verygrateful, as you may suppose, and agreed to support Prince Inga inwhatever action he commanded.
He led them to the middle cavern, where all the guards and overseersfled in terror at his approach, and soon he had broken apart the chainsof the slaves who had been working in that part of the mines. Then theyapproached the first cavern and liberated all there.
The slaves had been treated so cruelly by the servants of King Gos thatthey were eager to pursue and slay them, in revenge; but Inga held themback and formed them into companies, each company having its ownleader. Then he called the leaders together and instructed them tomarch in good order along the path to the City of Regos, where he wouldmeet them and tell them what to do next.
They readily agreed to obey him, and, arming themselves with iron barsand pick-axes which they brought from the mines, the slaves began theirmarch to the city.
Zella at first wished to be left behind, that she might make her way toher home, but neither Rinkitink nor Inga thought it was safe for her towander alone through the forest, so they induced her to return withthem to the city.
The boy beached his boat this time at the same place as when he firstlanded at Regos, and while many of the warriors stood on the shore andbefore the walls of the city, not one of them attempted to interferewith the boy in any way. Indeed, they seemed uneasy and anxious, andwhen Inga met Captain Buzzub the boy asked if anything had happened inhis absence.
"A great deal has happened," replied Buzzub. "Our King and Queen haverun away and left us, and we don't know what to do."
"Run away!" exclaimed Inga. "Where did they go to?"
"Who knows?" said the man, shaking his head despondently. "Theydeparted together a few hours ago, in a boat with forty rowers, andthey took with them the King and Queen of Pingaree!"
The Flight of the Rulers
Now it seems that when Queen Cor fled from her island to Regos, she hadwit enough, although greatly frightened, to make a stop at the royaldairy, which was near to the bridge, and to drag poor Queen Garee fromthe butter-house and across to Regos with her. The warriors of King Goshad never before seen the terrible Queen Cor frightened, and thereforewhen she came running across the bridge of boats, dragging the Queen ofPingaree after her by one arm, the woman's great fright had the effectof terrifying the waiting warriors.
"Quick!" cried Cor. "Destroy the bridge, or we are lost."
While the men were tearing away the bridge of boats the Queen ran up tothe palace of Gos, where she met her husband.
"That boy is a wizard!" she gasped. "There is no standing against him."
"Oh, have you discovered his magic at last?" replied Gos, laughing inher face. "Who, now, is the coward?"
"Don't laugh!" cried Queen Cor. "It is no laughing matter. Both ourislands are as good as conquered, this very minute. What shall we do,Gos?"
"Come in," he said, growing serious, "and let us talk it over."
So they went into a room of the palace and talked long and earnestly.
"The boy intends to liberate his father and mother, and all the peopleof Pingaree, and to take them back to their island," said Cor. "He mayalso destroy our palaces and make us his slaves. I can see but one way,Gos, to prevent him from doing all this, and whatever else he pleasesto do."
"What way is that?" asked King Gos.
"We must take the boy's parents away from here as quickly as possible.I have with me the Queen of Pingaree, and you can run up to the minesand get the King. Then we will carry them away in a boat and hide themwhere the boy cannot find them, with all his magic. We will use theKing and Queen of Pingaree as hostages, and send word to the boy wizardthat if he does not go away from our islands and allow us to rule themundisturbed, in our own way, we will put his father and mother todeath. Also we will say that as long as we are let alone his parentswill be safe, although still safely hidden. I believe, Gos, that inthis way we can compel Prince Ingato obey us, for he seems very fond ofhis parents."
"It isn't a bad idea," said Gos, reflectively; "but where can we hidethe King and Queen, so that the boy cannot find them?"
"In the country of the Nome King, on the mainland away at the south,"she replied. "The nomes are our friends, and they possess magic powersthat will enable them to protect the prisoners from discovery. If wecan manage to get the King and Queen of Pingaree to the Nome Kingdombefore the boy knows what we are doing, I am sure our plot willsucceed."
Gos gave the plan considerable thought in the next five minutes, andthe more he thought about it the more clever and reasonable it seemed.So he agreed to do as Queen Cor suggested and at once hurried away tothe mines, where he arrived before Prince Inga did. The next morning hecarried King Kitticut back to Regos.
While Gos was gone, Queen Cor busied herself in preparing a large andswift boat for the journey. She placed in it several bags of gold andjewels with which to bribe the nomes, and selected forty of thestrongest oarsmen in Regos to row the boat. The instant King Gosreturned with his royal prisoner all was ready for departure. Theyquickly entered the boat with their two important captives and withouta word of explanation to any of their people they commanded the oarsmento start, and were soon out of sight upon the broad expanse of theNonestic Ocean.
Inga arrived at the city some hours later and was much distressed whenhe learned that his father and mother had been spirited away from theislands.
"I shall follow them, of course," said the boy to Rinkitink, "and if Icannot overtake them on the ocean I will search the world over until Ifind them. But before I leave here I must arrange to send our peopleback to Pingaree."
Nikobob Refuses a Crown
Almost the first persons that Zella saw when she landed from thesilver-lined boat at Regos were her father and mother. Nikobob and hiswife had been greatly worried when their little daughter failed toreturn from Coregos, so they had set out to discover what had become ofher. When they reached the City of Regos, that very morning, they wereastonished to hear news of all the strange events that had taken place;still, they found comfort when told that Zella had been seen in theboat of Prince Inga, which had gone to the north. Then, while theywondered what this could mean, the silver-lined boat appeared again,with their daughter in it, and they ran down to the shore to give her awelcome and many joyful kisses.
Inga invited the good people to the palace of King Gos, where heconferred with them, as well as with Rinkitink and Bilbil.
"Now that the King and Queen of Regos and Coregos have run away," hesaid, "there is no one to rule these islands. So it is my duty toappoint a new ruler, and as Nikobob, Zella's father, is an honest andworthy man, I shall make him the King of the Twin Islands."
"Me?" cried Nikobob, astounded by this speech. "I beg Your Highness, onmy bended knees, not to do so cruel a thing as to make me King!"
"Why not?" inquired Rinkitink. "I'm a King, and I know how it feels. Iassure you, good Nikobob, that I quite enjoy my high rank, although ajeweled crown is rather heavy to wear in hot weather."
"With you, noble sir, it is different," said Nikobob, "for you are farfrom your kingdom and its trials and worries and may do as you please.But to remain in Regos, as King over these fierce and unruly warriors,would be to live in constant anxiety and peril, and the chances arethat they would murder me within a month. As I have done no harm toanyone and have tried to be a good and upright man, I do not think thatI should be condemned to such a dreadful fate."
"Very well," replied Inga, "we will say no more about your being King.I merely wanted to make you rich and prosperous, as I had promisedZella."
"Please forget that promise," pleaded the charcoal-burner, earnestly;"I have been safe from molestation for many years, because I was poorand possessed nothing that anyone else could envy. But if you make merich and prosperous I shall at once become the prey of thieves andmarauders and probably will lose my life in the attempt to protect myfortune."
Inga looked at the man in surprise.
"What, then, can I do to please you?" he inquired.
"Nothing more than to allow me to go home to my poor cabin," saidNikobob.
"Perhaps," remarked King Rinkitink, "the charcoal-burner has morewisdom concealed in that hard head of his than we gave him credit for.But let us use that wisdom, for the present, to counsel us what to doin this emergency."
"What you call my wisdom," said Nikobob, "is merely common sense. Ihave noticed that some men become rich, and are scorned by some androbbed by others. Other men become famous, and are mocked at andderided by their fellows. But the poor and humble man who livesunnoticed and unknown escapes all these troubles and is the only onewho can appreciate the joy of living."
"If I had a hand, instead of a cloven hoof, I'd like to shake handswith you, Nikobob," said Bilbil the goat. "But the poor man must nothave a cruel master, or he is undone."
During the council they found, indeed, that the advice of thecharcoal-burner was both shrewd and sensible, and they profited much byhis words.
Inga gave Captain Buzzub the command of the warriors and made himpromise to keep his men quiet and orderly--if he could. Then the boyallowed all of King Gos's former slaves, except those who came fromPingaree, to choose what boats they required and to stock them withprovisions and row away to their own countries. When these haddeparted, with grateful thanks and many blessings showered upon the boyPrince who had set them free, Inga made preparations to send his ownpeople home, where they were told to rebuild their houses and thenerect a new royal palace. They were then to await patiently the comingof King Kitticut or Prince Inga.
"My greatest worry," said the boy to his friends, "is to know whom toappoint to take charge of this work of restoring Pingaree to its formercondition. My men are all pearl fishers, and although willing andhonest, have no talent for directing others how to work."
While the preparations for departure were being made, Nikobob offeredto direct the men of Pingaree, and did so in a very capable manner. Asthe island had been despoiled of all its valuable furniture anddraperies and rich cloths and paintings and statuary and the like, aswell as gold and silver and ornaments, Inga thought it no more thanjust that they be replaced by the spoilers. So he directed his peopleto search through the storehouses of King Gos and to regain all theirgoods and chattels that could be found. Also he instructed them to takeas much else as they required to make their new homes comfortable, sothat many boats were loaded full of goods that would enable the peopleto restore Pingaree to its former state of comfort.
For his father's new palace the boy plundered the palaces of both QueenCor and King Gos, sending enough wares away with his people to makeKing Kitticut's new residence as handsomely fitted and furnished as hadbeen the one which the ruthless invaders from Regos had destroyed.
It was a great fleet of boats that set out one bright, sunny morning onthe voyage to Pingaree, carrying all the men, women and children andall the goods for refitting their homes. As he saw the fleet depart,Prince Inga felt that he had already successfully accomplished a partof his mission, but he vowed he would never return to Pingaree inperson until he could take his father and mother there with him;unless, indeed, King Gos wickedly destroyed his beloved parents, inwhich case Inga would become the King of Pingaree and it would be hisduty to go to his people and rule over them.
It was while the last of the boats were preparing to sail for Pingareethat Nikobob, who had been of great service in getting them ready, cameto Inga in a thoughtful mood and said:
"Your Highness, my wife and my daughter Zella have been urging me toleave Regos and settle down in your island, in a new home. From whatyour people have told me, Pingaree is a better place to live thanRegos, and there are no cruel warriors or savage beasts there to keepone in constant fear for the safety of those he loves. Therefore, Ihave come to ask to go with my family in one of the boats."
Inga was much pleased with this proposal and not only granted Nikobobpermission to go to Pingaree to live, but instructed him to take withhim sufficient goods to furnish his new home in a comfortable manner.In addition to this, he appointed Nikobob general manager of thebuildings and of the pearl fisheries, until his father or he himselfarrived, and the people approved this order because they liked Nikoboband knew him to be just and honest.
Soon as the last boat of the great flotilla had disappeared from theview of those left at Regos, Inga and Rinkitink prepared to leave theisland themselves. The boy was anxious to overtake the boat of KingGos, if possible, and Rinkitink had no desire to remain in Regos.
Buzzub and the warriors stood silently on the shore and watched theblack boat with its silver lining depart, and I am sure they were asglad to be rid of their unwelcome visitors as Inga and Rinkitink andBilbil were to leave.
The boy asked the White Pearl what direction the boat of King Gos hadtaken and then he followed after it, rowing hard and steadily for eightdays without becoming at all weary. But, although the black boat movedvery swiftly, it failed to overtake the barge which was rowed by QueenCor's forty picked oarsmen.
The Nome King
The Kingdom of the Nomes does not border on the Nonestic Ocean, fromwhich it is separated by the Kingdom of Rinkitink and the Country ofthe Wheelers, which is a part of the Land of Ev. Rinkitink's country isseparated from the country of the Nomes by a row of high and steepmountains, from which it extends to the sea. The Country of theWheelers is a sandy waste that is open on one side to the NonesticOcean and on the other side has no barrier to separate it from the NomeCountry, therefore it was on the coast of the Wheelers that King Coslanded--in a spot quite deserted by any of the curious inhabitants ofthat country.
The Nome Country is very large in extent, and is only separated fromthe Land of Oz, on its eastern borders, by a Deadly Desert that can notbe crossed by mortals, unless they are aided by the fairies or by magic.
The nomes are a numerous and mischievous people, living in undergroundcaverns of wide extent, connected one with another by arches andpassages. The word "nome" means "one who knows," and these people areso called because they know where all the gold and silver and preciousstones are hidden in the earth--a knowledge that no other livingcreatures share with them. The nomes are busy people, constantlydigging up gold in one place and taking it to another place, where theysecretly bury it, and perhaps this is the reason they alone know whereto find it. The nomes were ruled, at the time of which I write, by aKing named Kaliko.
King Gos had expected to be pursued by Inga in his magic boat, so hemade all the haste possible, urging his forty rowers to their bestefforts night and day. To his joy he was not overtaken but landed onthe sandy beach of the Wheelers on the morning of the eighth day.
The forty rowers were left with the boat, while Queen Cor and King Cos,with their royal prisoners, who were still chained, began the journeyto the Nome King.
It was not long before they passed the sands and reached the rockycountry belonging to the nomes, but they were still a long way from theentrance to the underground caverns in which lived the Nome King. Therewas a dim path, winding between stones and boulders, over which thewalking was quite difficult, especially as the path led up hills thatwere small mountains, and then down steep and abrupt slopes where anymisstep might mean a broken leg. Therefore it was the second day oftheir journey before they climbed halfway up a rugged mountain andfound themselves at the entrance of the Nome King's caverns.
On their arrival, the entrance seemed free and unguarded, but Gos andCor had been there before, and they were too wise to attempt to enterwithout announcing themselves, for the passage to the caves was full oftraps and pitfalls. So King Gos stood still and shouted, and in aninstant they were surrounded by a group of crooked nomes, who seemed tohave sprung from the ground.
One of these had very long ears and was called The Long-Eared Hearer.He said: "I heard you coming early this morning."
Another had eyes that looked in different directions at the same timeand were curiously bright and penetrating. He could look over a hill oraround a corner and was called The Lookout. Said he: "I saw you comingyesterday."
"Then," said King Gos, "perhaps King Kaliko is expecting us."
"It is true," replied another nome, who wore a gold collar around hisneck and carried a bunch of golden keys. "The mighty Nome King expectsyou, and bids you follow me to his presence."
With this he led the way into the caverns and Gos and Cor followed,dragging their weary prisoners with them, for poor King Kitticut andhis gentle Queen had been obliged to carry, all through the tediousjourney, the bags of gold and jewels which were to bribe the Nome Kingto accept them as slaves.
Through several long passages the guide led them and at last theyentered a small cavern which was beautifully decorated and set withrare jewels that flashed from every part of the wall, floor andceiling. This was a waiting-room for visitors, and there their guideleft them while he went to inform King Kaliko of their arrival.
Before long they were ushered into a great domed chamber, cut from thesolid rock and so magnificent that all of them--the King and Queen ofPingaree and the King and Queen of Regos and Coregos--drew long breathsof astonishment and opened their eyes as wide as they could.
In an ivory throne sat a little round man who had a pointed beard andhair that rose to a tall curl on top of his head. He was dressed insilken robes, richly embroidered, which had large buttons of cutrubies. On his head was a diamond crown and in his hand he held agolden sceptre with a big jeweled ball at one end of it. This wasKaliko, the King and ruler of all the nomes. He nodded pleasantlyenough to his visitors and said in a cheery voice:
"Well, Your Majesties, what can I do for you?"
"It is my desire," answered King Gos, respectfully, "to place in yourcare two prisoners, whom you now see before you. They must be carefullyguarded, to prevent them from escaping, for they have the cunning offoxes and are not to be trusted. In return for the favor I am askingyou to grant, I have brought Your Majesty valuable presents of gold andprecious gems."
He then commanded Kitticut and Garee to lay before the Nome King thebags of gold and jewels, and they obeyed, being helpless.
"Very good," said King Kaliko, nodding approval, for like all the nomeshe loved treasures of gold and jewels. "But who are the prisoners youhave brought here, and why do you place them in my charge instead ofguarding them, yourself? They seem gentle enough, I'm sure."
"The prisoners," returned King Gos, "are the King and Queen ofPingaree, a small island north of here. They are very evil people andcame to our islands of Regos and Coregos to conquer them and slay ourpoor people. Also they intended to plunder us of all our riches, but bygood fortune we were able to defeat and capture them. However, theyhave a son who is a terrible wizard and who by magic art is trying tofind this awful King and Queen of Pingaree, and to set them free, thatthey may continue their wicked deeds. Therefore, as we have no magic todefend ourselves with, we have brought the prisoners to you for safekeeping."
"Your Majesty," spoke up King Kitticut, addressing the Nome King withgreat indignation, "do not believe this tale, I implore you. It is alla lie!"
"I know it," said Kaliko. "I consider it a clever lie, though, becauseit is woven without a thread of truth. However, that is none of mybusiness. The fact remains that my good friend King Gos wishes to putyou in my underground caverns, so that you will be unable to escape.And why should I not please him in this little matter? Gos is a mightyKing and a great warrior, while your island of Pingaree is desolatedand your people scattered. In my heart, King Kitticut, I sympathizewith you, but as a matter of business policy we powerful Kings muststand together and trample the weaker ones under our feet."
King Kitticut was surprised to find the King of the nomes so candid andso well informed, and he tried to argue that he and his gentle wife didnot deserve their cruel fate and that it would be wiser for Kaliko toside with them than with the evil King of Regos. But Kaliko only shookhis head and smiled, saying:
"The fact that you are a prisoner, my poor Kitticut, is evidence thatyou are weaker than King Cos, and I prefer to deal with the strong. Bythe way," he added, turning to the King of Regos, "have these prisonersany connection with the Land of Oz?"
"Why do you ask?" said Gos.
"Because I dare not offend the Oz people," was the reply. "I am verypowerful, as you know, but Ozma of Oz is far more powerful than I;therefore, if this King and Queen of Pingaree happened to be underOzma's protection, I would have nothing to do with them."
"I assure Your Majesty that the prisoners have nothing to do with theOz people," Gos hastened to say. And Kitticut, being questioned,admitted that this was true.
"But how about that wizard you mentioned?" asked the Nome King.
"Oh, he is merely a boy; but he is very ferocious and obstinate and heis assisted by a little fat sorcerer called Rinkitink and a talkinggoat."
"Oho! A talking goat, do you say? That certainly sounds like magic; andit also sounds like the Land of Oz, where all the animals talk," saidKaliko, with a doubtful expression.
But King Gos assured him the talking goat had never been to Oz.
"As for Rinkitink, whom you call a sorcerer," continued the Nome King,"he is a neighbor of mine, you must know, but as we are cut off fromeach other by high mountains beneath which a powerful river runs, Ihave never yet met King Rinkitink. But I have heard of him, and fromall reports he is a jolly rogue, and perfectly harmless. However, inspite of your false statements and misrepresentations, I will earn thetreasure you have brought me, by keeping your prisoners safe in mycaverns.
"Make them work," advised Queen Cor. "They are rather delicate, and tomake them work will make them suffer delightfully."
"I'll do as I please about that," said the Nome King sternly. "Becontent that I agree to keep them safe."
The bargain being thus made and concluded, Kaliko first examined thegold and jewels and then sent it away to his royal storehouse, whichwas well filled with like treasure. Next the captives were sent away incharge of the nome with the golden collar and keys, whose name wasKlik, and he escorted them to a small cavern and gave them a goodsupper.
"I shall lock your door," said Klik, "so there is no need of yourwearing those heavy chains any longer." He therefore removed the chainsand left King Kitticut and his Queen alone. This was the first timesince the Northmen had carried them away from Pingaree that the goodKing and Queen had been alone together and free of all bonds, and asthey embraced lovingly and mingled their tears over their sad fate theywere also grateful that they had passed from the control of theheartless King Gos into the more considerate care of King Kaliko. Theywere still captives but they believed they would be happier in theunderground caverns of the nomes than in Regos and Coregos.
Meantime, in the King's royal cavern a great feast had been spread.King Gos and Queen Cor, having triumphed in their plot, were so wellpleased that they held high revelry with the jolly Nome King until alate hour that night. And the next morning, having cautioned Kaliko notto release the prisoners under any consideration without their orders,the King and Queen of Regos and Coregos left the caverns of the nomesto return to the shore of the ocean where they had left their boat.
Inga Parts with his Pink Pearl
The White Pearl guided Inga truly in his pursuit of the boat of KingGos, but the boy had been so delayed in sending his people home toPingaree that it was a full day after Gos and Cor landed on the shoreof the Wheeler Country that Inga's boat arrived at the same place.
There he found the forty rowers guarding the barge of Queen Cor, andalthough they would not or could not tell the boy where the King andQueen had taken his father and mother, the White Pearl advised him tofollow the path to the country and the caverns of the nomes.
Rinkitink didn't like to undertake the rocky and mountainous journey,even with Bilbil to carry him, but he would not desert Inga, eventhough his own kingdom lay just beyond a range of mountains which couldbe seen towering southwest of them. So the King bravely mounted thegoat, who always grumbled but always obeyed his master, and the threeset off at once for the caverns of the nomes.
They traveled just as slowly as Queen Cor and King Gos had done, sowhen they were about halfway they discovered the King and Queen comingback to their boat. The fact that Gos and Cor were now alone provedthat they had left Inga's father and mother behind them; so, at thesuggestion of Rinkitink, the three hid behind a high rock until theKing of Regos and the Queen of Coregos, who had not observed them, hadpassed them by. Then they continued their journey, glad that they hadnot again been forced to fight or quarrel with their wicked enemies.
"We might have asked them, however, what they had done with your poorparents," said Rinkitink.
"Never mind," answered Inga. "I am sure the White Pearl will guide usaright."
For a time they proceeded in silence and then Rinkitink began tochuckle with laughter in the pleasant way he was wont to do before hismisfortunes came upon him.
"What amuses Your Majesty?" inquired the boy.
"The thought of how surprised my dear subjects would be if theyrealized how near to them I am, and yet how far away. I have alwayswanted to visit the Nome Country, which is full of mystery and magicand all sorts of adventures, but my devoted subjects forbade me tothink of such a thing, fearing I would get hurt or enchanted."
"Are you afraid, now that you are here?" asked Inga.
"A little, but not much, for they say the new Nome King is not aswicked as the old King used to be. Still, we are undertaking adangerous journey and I think you ought to protect me by lending me oneof your pearls."
Inga thought this over and it seemed a reasonable request.
"Which pearl would you like to have?" asked the boy.
"Well, let us see," returned Rinkitink; "you may need strength toliberate your captive parents, so you must keep the Blue Pearl. And youwill need the advice of the White Pearl, so you had best keep thatalso. But in case we should be separated I would have nothing toprotect me from harm, so you ought to lend me the Pink Pearl."
"Very well," agreed Inga, and sitting down upon a rock he removed hisright shoe and after withdrawing the cloth from the pointed toe tookout the Pink Pearl--the one which protected from any harm the personwho carried it.
"Where can you put it, to keep it safely?" he asked.
"In my vest pocket," replied the King. "The pocket has a flap to it andI can pin it down in such a way that the pearl cannot get out andbecome lost. As for robbery, no one with evil intent can touch myperson while I have the pearl."
So Inga gave Rinkitink the Pink Pearl and the little King placed it inthe pocket of his red-and-green brocaded velvet vest, pinning the flapof the pocket down tightly.
They now resumed their journey and finally reached the entrance to theNome King's caverns. Placing the White Pearl to his ear, Inga asked:"What shall I do now?" and the Voice of the Pearl replied: "Clap yourhands together four times and call aloud the word 'Klik.' Then allowyourselves to be conducted to the Nome King, who is now holding yourfather and mother captive."
Inga followed these instructions and when Klik appeared in answer tohis summons the boy requested an audience of the Nome King. So Klik ledthem into the presence of King Kaliko, who was suffering from a severeheadache, due to his revelry the night before, and therefore wasunusually cross and grumpy.
"I know what you've come for," said he, before Inga could speak. "Youwant to get the captives from Regos away from me; but you can't do it,so you'd best go away again."
"The captives are my father and mother, and I intend to liberate them,"said the boy firmly.
The King stared hard at Inga, wondering at his audacity. Then he turnedto look at King Rinkitink and said:
"I suppose you are the King of Gilgad, which is in the Kingdom ofRinkitink."
"You've guessed it the first time," replied Rinkitink.
"How round and fat you are!" exclaimed Kaliko.
"I was just thinking how fat and round you are," said Rinkitink."Really, King Kaliko, we ought to be friends, we're so much alike ineverything but disposition and intelligence."
Then he began to chuckle, while Kaliko stared hard at him, not knowingwhether to accept his speech as a compliment or not. And now the nome'seyes wandered to Bilbil, and he asked:
"Is that your talking goat?"
Bilbil met the Nome King's glowering look with a gaze equally surly anddefiant, while Rinkitink answered: "It is, Your Majesty."
"Can he really talk?" asked Kaliko, curiously.
"He can. But the best thing he does is to scold. Talk to His Majesty,Bilbil."
But Bilbil remained silent and would not speak.
"Do you always ride upon his back?" continued Kaliko, questioningRinkitink.
"Yes," was the answer, "because it is difficult for a fat man to walkfar, as perhaps you know from experience.
"That is true," said Kaliko. "Get off the goat's back and let me ridehim a while, to see how I like it. Perhaps I'll take him away from you,to ride through my caverns."
Rinkitink chuckled softly as he heard this, but at once got offBilbil's back and let Kaliko get on. The Nome King was a littleawkward, but when he was firmly astride the saddle he called in a loudvoice: "Giddap!"
When Bilbil paid no attention to the command and refused to stir,Kaliko kicked his heels viciously against the goat's body, and thenBilbil made a sudden start. He ran swiftly across the great cavern,until he had almost reached the opposite wall, when he stopped soabruptly that King Kaliko sailed over his head and bumped against thejeweled wall. He bumped so hard that the points of his crown were allmashed out of shape and his head was driven far into thediamond-studded band of the crown, so that it covered one eye and apart of his nose. Perhaps this saved Kaliko's head from being crackedagainst the rock wall, but it was hard on the crown.
Bilbil was highly pleased at the success of his feat and Rinkitinklaughed merrily at the Nome King's comical appearance; but Kaliko wasmuttering and growling as he picked himself up and struggled to pullthe battered crown from his head, and it was evident that he was not inthe least amused. Indeed, Inga could see that the King was very angry,and the boy knew that the incident was likely to turn Kaliko againstthe entire party.
The Nome King sent Klik for another crown and ordered his workmen torepair the one that was damaged. While he waited for the new crown hesat regarding his visitors with a scowling face, and this made Ingamore uneasy than ever. Finally, when the new crown was placed upon hishead, King Kaliko said: "Follow me, strangers!" and led the way to asmall door at one end of the cavern.
Inga and Rinkitink followed him through the doorway and foundthemselves standing on a balcony that overlooked an enormous domedcave--so extensive that it seemed miles to the other side of it. Allaround this circular cave, which was brilliantly lighted from anunknown source, were arches connected with other caverns.
Kaliko took a gold whistle from his pocket and blew a shrill note thatechoed through every part of the cave. Instantly nomes began to pour inthrough the side arches in great numbers, until the immense space waspacked with them as far as the eye could reach. All were armed withglittering weapons of polished silver and gold, and Inga was amazedthat any King could command so great an army.
They began marching and countermarching in very orderly array untilanother blast of the gold whistle sent them scurrying away as quicklyas they had appeared. And as soon as the great cave was again emptyKaliko returned with his visitors to his own royal chamber, where heonce more seated himself upon his ivory throne.
"I have shown you," said he to Inga, "a part of my bodyguard. The royalarmies, of which this is only a part, are as numerous as the sands ofthe ocean, and live in many thousands of my underground caverns. Youhave come here thinking to force me to give up the captives of King Gosand Queen Cor, and I wanted to convince you that my power is too mightyfor anyone to oppose. I am told that you are a wizard, and depend uponmagic to aid you; but you must know that the nomes are not mortals, andunderstand magic pretty well themselves, so if we are obliged to fightmagic with magic the chances are that we are a hundred times morepowerful than you can be. Think this over carefully, my boy, and try torealize that you are in my power. I do not believe you can force me toliberate King Kitticut and Queen Garee, and I know that you cannot coaxme to do so, for I have given my promise to King Gos. Therefore, as Ido not wish to hurt you, I ask you to go away peaceably and let mealone."
"Forgive me if I do not agree with you, King Kaliko," answered the boy."However difficult and dangerous my task may be, I cannot leave yourdominions until every effort to release my parents has failed and leftme completely discouraged."
"Very well," said the King, evidently displeased. "I have warned you,and now if evil overtakes you it is your own fault. I've a headacheto-day, so I cannot entertain you properly, according to your rank; butKlik will attend you to my guest chambers and to-morrow I will talkwith you again."
This seemed a fair and courteous way to treat one's declared enemies,so they politely expressed the wish that Kaliko's headache would bebetter, and followed their guide, Klik, down a well-lighted passage andthrough several archways until they finally reached three nicelyfurnished bedchambers which were cut from solid gray rock and welllighted and aired by some mysterious method known to the nomes.
The first of these rooms was given King Rinkitink, the second wasInga's and the third was assigned to Bilbil the goat. There was aswinging rock door between the third and second rooms and anotherbetween the second and first, which also had a door that opened uponthe passage. Rinkitink's room was the largest, so it was here that anexcellent dinner was spread by some of the nome servants, who, in spiteof their crooked shapes, proved to be well trained and competent.
"You are not prisoners, you know," said Klik; "neither are you welcomeguests, having declared your purpose to oppose our mighty King and allhis hosts. But we bear you no ill will, and you are to be well fed andcared for as long as you remain in our caverns. Eat hearty, sleeptight, and pleasant dreams to you."
Saying this, he left them alone and at once Rinkitink and Inga began tocounsel together as to the best means to liberate King Kitticut andQueen Garee. The White Pearl's advice was rather unsatisfactory to theboy, just now, for all that the Voice said in answer to his questionswas: "Be patient, brave and determined."
Rinkitink suggested that they try to discover in what part of theseries of underground caverns Inga's parents had been confined, as thatknowledge was necessary before they could take any action; so togetherthey started out, leaving Bilbil asleep in his room, and made their wayunopposed through many corridors and caverns. In some places were greatfurnaces, where gold dust was being melted into bricks. In other roomsworkmen were fashioning the gold into various articles and ornaments.In one cavern immense wheels revolved which polished precious gems, andthey found many caverns used as storerooms, where treasure of everysort was piled high. Also they came to the barracks of the army and thegreat kitchens.
There were nomes everywhere--countless thousands of them--but none paidthe slightest heed to the visitors from the earth's surface. Yet,although Inga and Rinkitink walked until they were weary, they wereunable to locate the place where the boy's father and mother had beenconfined, and when they tried to return to their own rooms they foundthat they had hopelessly lost themselves amid the labyrinth ofpassages. However, Klik presently came to them, laughing at theirdiscomfiture, and led them back to their bedchambers.
Before they went to sleep they carefully barred the door fromRinkitink's room to the corridor, but the doors that connected thethree rooms one with another were left wide open.
In the night Inga was awakened by a soft grating sound that filled himwith anxiety because he could not account for it. It was dark in hisroom, the light having disappeared as soon as he got into bed, but hemanaged to feel his way to the door that led to Rinkitink's room andfound it tightly closed and immovable. Then he made his way to theopposite door, leading to Bilbil's room, to discover that also had beenclosed and fastened.
The boy had a curious sensation that all of his room--the walls, floorand ceiling--was slowly whirling as if on a pivot, and it was such anuncomfortable feeling that he got into bed again, not knowing what elseto do. And as the grating noise had ceased and the room now seemedstationary, he soon fell asleep again.
When the boy wakened, after many hours, he found the room again light.So he dressed himself and discovered that a small table, containing abreakfast that was smoking hot, had suddenly appeared in the center ofhis room. He tried the two doors, but finding that he could not openthem he ate some breakfast, thoughtfully wondering who had locked himin and why he had been made a prisoner. Then he again went to the doorwhich he thought led to Rinkitink's chamber and to his surprise thelatch lifted easily and the door swung open.
Before him was a rude corridor hewn in the rock and dimly lighted. Itdid not look inviting, so Inga closed the door, puzzled to know whathad become of Rinkitink's room and the King, and went to the oppositedoor. Opening this, he found a solid wall of rock confronting him,which effectually prevented his escape in that direction.
The boy now realized that King Kaliko had tricked him, and whileprofessing to receive him as a guest had plotted to separate him fromhis comrades. One way had been left, however, by which he might escapeand he decided to see where it led to.
So, going to the first door, he opened it and ventured slowly into thedimly lighted corridor. When he had advanced a few steps he heard thedoor of his room slam shut behind him. He ran back at once, but thedoor of rock fitted so closely into the wall that he found itimpossible to open it again. That did not matter so much, however, forthe room was a prison and the only way of escape seemed ahead of him.
Along the corridor he crept until, turning a corner, he found himselfin a large domed cavern that was empty and deserted. Here also was adim light that permitted him to see another corridor at the oppositeside; so he crossed the rocky floor of the cavern and entered a secondcorridor. This one twisted and turned in every direction but was notvery long, so soon the boy reached a second cavern, not so large as thefirst. This he found vacant also, but it had another corridor leadingout of it, so Inga entered that. It was straight and short and beyondwas a third cavern, which differed little from the others except thatit had a strong iron grating at one side of it.
All three of these caverns had been roughly hewn from the rock and itseemed they had never been put to use, as had all the other caverns ofthe nomes he had visited. Standing in the third cavern, Inga saw whathe thought was still another corridor at its farther side, so he walkedtoward it. This opening was dark, and that fact, and the solemn silenceall around him, made him hesitate for a while to enter it. Uponreflection, however, he realized that unless he explored the place tothe very end he could not hope to escape from it, so he boldly enteredthe dark corridor and felt his way cautiously as he moved forward.
Scarcely had he taken two paces when a crash resounded back of him anda heavy sheet of steel closed the opening into the cavern from which hehad just come. He paused a moment, but it still seemed best to proceed,and as Inga advanced in the dark, holding his hands outstretched beforehim to feel his way, handcuffs fell upon his wrists and lockedthemselves with a sharp click, and an instant later he found he waschained to a stout iron post set firmly in the rock floor.
The chains were long enough to permit him to move a yard or so in anydirection and by feeling the walls he found he was in a small circularroom that had no outlet except the passage by which he had entered, andthat was now closed by the door of steel. This was the end of theseries of caverns and corridors.
It was now that the horror of his situation occurred to the boy withfull force. But he resolved not to submit to his fate without astruggle, and realizing that he possessed the Blue Pearl, which gavehim marvelous strength, he quickly broke the chains and set himselffree of the handcuffs. Next he twisted the steel door from its hinges,and creeping along the short passage, found himself in the third cave.
But now the dim light, which had before guided him, had vanished; yeton peering into the gloom of the cave he saw what appeared to be tworound disks of flame, which cast a subdued glow over the floor andwalls. By this dull glow he made out the form of an enormous man,seated in the center of the cave, and he saw that the iron grating hadbeen removed, permitting the man to enter.
The giant was unclothed and its limbs were thickly covered with coarsered hair. The round disks of flame were its two eyes and when it openedits mouth to yawn Inga saw that its jaws were wide enough to crush adozen men between the great rows of teeth.
Presently the giant looked up and perceived the boy crouching at theother side of the cavern, so he called out in a hoarse, rude voice:
"Come hither, my pretty one. We will wrestle together, you and I, andif you succeed in throwing me I will let you pass through my cave."
The boy made no reply to the challenge. He realized he was in direperil and regretted that he had lent the Pink Pearl to King Rinkitink.But it was now too late for vain regrets, although he feared that evenhis great strength would avail him little against this hairy monster.For his arms were not long enough to span a fourth of the giant's hugebody, while the monster's powerful limbs would be likely to crush outInga's life before he could gain the mastery.
Therefore the Prince resolved to employ other means to combat this foe,who had doubtless been placed there to bar his return. Retreatingthrough the passage he reached the room where he had been chained andwrenched the iron post from its socket. It was a foot thick and fourfeet long, and being of solid iron was so heavy that three ordinary menwould have found it hard to lift.
Returning to the cavern, the boy swung the great bar above his head anddashed it with mighty force full at the giant. The end of the barstruck the monster upon its forehead, and with a single groan it fellfull length upon the floor and lay still.
When the giant fell, the glow from its eyes faded away, and all wasdark. Cautiously, for Inga was not sure the giant was dead, the boyfelt his way toward the opening that led to the middle cavern. Theentrance was narrow and the darkness was intense, but, feeling bravernow, the boy stepped boldly forward. Instantly the floor began to sinkbeneath him and in great alarm he turned and made a leap that enabledhim to grasp the rocky sides of the wall and regain a footing in thepassage through which he had just come.
Scarcely had he obtained this place of refuge when a mighty crashresounded throughout the cavern and the sound of a rushing torrent camefrom far below. Inga felt in his pocket and found several matches, oneof which he lighted and held before him. While it flickered he saw thatthe entire floor of the cavern had fallen away, and knew that had henot instantly regained his footing in the passage he would have plungedinto the abyss that lay beneath him.
By the light of another match he saw the opening at the other side ofthe cave and the thought came to him that possibly he might leap acrossthe gulf. Of course, this could never be accomplished without themarvelous strength lent him by the Blue Pearl, but Inga had the feelingthat one powerful spring might carry him over the chasm into safety. Hecould not stay where he was, that was certain, so he resolved to makethe attempt.
He took a long run through the first cave and the short corridor; then,exerting all his strength, he launched himself over the black gulf ofthe second cave. Swiftly he flew and, although his heart stood stillwith fear, only a few seconds elapsed before his feet touched the ledgeof the opposite passageway and he knew he had safely accomplished thewonderful feat.
Only pausing to draw one long breath of relief, Inga quickly traversedthe crooked corridor that led to the last cavern of the three. But whenhe came in sight of it he paused abruptly, his eyes nearly blinded by aglare of strong light which burst upon them. Covering his face with hishands, Inga retreated behind a projecting corner of rock and bygradually getting his eyes used to the light he was finally able togaze without blinking upon the strange glare that had so quicklychanged the condition of the cavern. When he had passed through thisvault it had been entirely empty. Now the flat floor of rock wascovered everywhere with a bed of glowing coals, which shot up littletongues of red and white flames. Indeed, the entire cave was onemonster furnace and the heat that came from it was fearful.
Inga's heart sank within him as he realized the terrible obstacleplaced by the cunning Nome King between him and the safety of the othercaverns. There was no turning back, for it would be impossible for himagain to leap over the gulf of the second cave, the corridor at thisside being so crooked that he could get no run before he jumped.Neither could he leap over the glowing coals of the cavern that facedhim, for it was much larger than the middle cavern. In this dilemma hefeared his great strength would avail him nothing and he bitterlyreproached himself for parting with the Pink Pearl, which would havepreserved him from injury.
However, it was not in the nature of Prince Inga to despair for long,his past adventures having taught him confidence and courage, sharpenedhis wits and given him the genius of invention. He sat down and thoughtearnestly on the means of escape from his danger and at last a cleveridea came to his mind. This is the way to get ideas: never to letadverse circumstances discourage you, but to believe there is a way outof every difficulty, which may be found by earnest thought.
There were many points and projections of rock in the walls of thecrooked corridor in which Inga stood and some of these rocks had becomecracked and loosened, although still clinging to their places. The boypicked out one large piece, and, exerting all his strength, tore itaway from the wall. He then carried it to the cavern and tossed it uponthe burning coals, about ten feet away from the end of the passage.Then he returned for another fragment of rock, and wrenching it freefrom its place, he threw it ten feet beyond the first one, toward theopposite side of the cave. The boy continued this work until he hadmade a series of stepping-stones reaching straight across the cavern tothe dark passageway beyond, which he hoped would lead him back tosafety if not to liberty.
When his work had been completed, Inga did not long hesitate to takeadvantage of his stepping-stones, for he knew his best chance of escapelay in his crossing the bed of coals before the rocks became so heatedthat they would burn his feet. So he leaped to the first rock and fromthere began jumping from one to the other in quick succession. Awithering wave of heat at once enveloped him, and for a time he fearedhe would suffocate before he could cross the cavern; but he held hisbreath, to keep the hot air from his lungs, and maintained his leapswith desperate resolve.
Then, before he realized it, his feet were pressing the cooler rocks ofthe passage beyond and he rolled helpless upon the floor, gasping forbreath. His skin was so red that it resembled the shell of a boiledlobster, but his swift motion had prevented his being burned, and hisshoes had thick soles, which saved his feet.
After resting a few minutes, the boy felt strong enough to go on. Hewent to the end of the passage and found that the rock door by which hehad left his room was still closed, so he returned to about the middleof the corridor and was thinking what he should do next, when suddenlythe solid rock before him began to move and an opening appeared throughwhich shone a brilliant light. Shielding his eyes, which were somewhatdazzled, Inga sprang through the opening and found himself in one ofthe Nome King's inhabited caverns, where before him stood King Kaliko,with a broad grin upon his features, and Klik, the King's chamberlain,who looked surprised, and King Rinkitink seated astride Bilbil thegoat, both of whom seemed pleased that Inga had rejoined them.
We will now relate what happened to Rinkitink and Bilbil that morning,while Inga was undergoing his trying experience in escaping the fearfuldangers of the three caverns.
The King of Gilgad wakened to find the door of Inga's room fast shutand locked, but he had no trouble in opening his own door into thecorridor, for it seems that the boy's room, which was the middle one,whirled around on a pivot, while the adjoining rooms occupied by Bilbiland Rinkitink remained stationary. The little King also found abreakfast magically served in his room, and while he was eating it,Klik came to him and stated that His Majesty, King Kaliko, desired hispresence in the royal cavern.
So Rinkitink, having first made sure that the Pink Pearl was still inhis vest pocket, willingly followed Klik, who ran on some distanceahead. But no sooner had Rinkitink set foot in the passage than a greatrock, weighing at least a ton, became dislodged and dropped from theroof directly over his head. Of course, it could not harm him,protected as he was by the Pink Pearl, and it bounded aside and crashedupon the floor, where it was shattered by its own weight.
"How careless!" exclaimed the little King, and waddled after Klik, whoseemed amazed at his escape.
Presently another rock above Rinkitink plunged downward, and thenanother, but none touched his body. Klik seemed much perplexed at thesecontinued escapes and certainly Kaliko was surprised when Rinkitink,safe and sound, entered the royal cavern.
"Good morning," said the King of Gilgad. "Your rocks are getting loose,Kaliko, and you'd better have them glued in place before they hurtsomeone." Then he began to chuckle: "Hoo, hoo, hoo-hee, hee-heek, keek,eek!" and Kaliko sat and frowned because he realized that the littlefat King was poking fun at him.
"I asked Your Majesty to come here," said the Nome King, "to show you acurious skein of golden thread which my workmen have made. If itpleases you, I will make you a present of it."
With this he held out a small skein of glittering gold twine, which wasreally pretty and curious. Rinkitink took it in his hand and at oncethe golden thread began to unwind--so swiftly that the eye could notfollow its motion. And, as it unwound, it coiled itself aroundRinkitink's body, at the same time weaving itself into a net, until ithad enveloped the little King from head to foot and placed him in aprison of gold.
"Aha!" cried Kaliko; "this magic worked all right, it seems.
"Oh, did it?" replied Rinkitink, and stepping forward he walked rightthrough the golden net, which fell to the floor in a tangled mass.
Kaliko rubbed his chin thoughtfully and stared hard at Rinkitink.
"I understand a good bit of magic," said he, "but Your Majesty has asort of magic that greatly puzzles me, because it is unlike anything ofthe sort that I ever met with before."
"Now, see here, Kaliko," said Rinkitink; "if you are trying to harm meor my companions, give it up, for you will never succeed. We'reharm-proof, so to speak, and you are merely wasting your time trying toinjure us.
"You may be right, and I hope I am not so impolite as to argue with aguest," returned the Nome King. "But you will pardon me if I am not yetsatisfied that you are stronger than my famous magic. However, I begyou to believe that I bear you no ill will, King Rinkitink; but it ismy duty to destroy you, if possible, because you and that insignificantboy Prince have openly threatened to take away my captives and havepositively refused to go back to the earth's surface and let me alone.I'm very tender-hearted, as a matter of fact, and I like you immensely,and would enjoy having you as a friend, but--" Here he pressed a buttonon the arm of his throne chair and the section of the floor whereRinkitink stood suddenly opened and disclosed a black pit beneath,which was a part of 'the terrible Bottomless Gulf.
But Rinkitink did not fall into the pit; his body remained suspended inthe air until he put out his foot and stepped to the solid floor, whenthe opening suddenly closed again.
"I appreciate Your Majesty's friendship," remarked Rinkitink, as calmlyas if nothing had happened, "but I am getting tired with standing. Willyou kindly send for my goat, Bilbil, that I may sit upon his back torest?"
"Indeed I will!" promised Kaliko. "I have not yet completed my test ofyour magic, and as I owe that goat a slight grudge for bumping my headand smashing my second-best crown, I will be glad to discover if thebeast can also escape my delightful little sorceries."
So Klik was sent to fetch Bilbil and presently returned with the goat,which was very cross this morning because it had not slept well in theunderground caverns.
Rinkitink lost no time in getting upon the red velvet saddle which thegoat constantly wore, for he feared the Nome King would try to destroyBilbil and knew that as long as his body touched that of the goat thePink Pearl would protect them both; whereas, if Bilbil stood alone,there was no magic to save him.
Bilbil glared wickedly at King Kaliko, who moved uneasily in his ivorythrone. Then the Nome King whispered a moment in the ear of Klik, whonodded and left the room.
"Please make yourselves at home here for a few minutes, while I attendto an errand," said the Nome King, getting up from the throne. "I shallreturn pretty soon, when I hope to find you pieceful--ha, ha,ha!--that's a joke you can't appreciate now but will later. Bepieceful--that's the idea. Ho, ho, ho! How funny." Then he waddled fromthe cavern, closing the door behind him.
"Well, why didn't you laugh when Kaliko laughed?" demanded the goat,when they were left alone in the cavern.
"Because he means mischief of some sort," replied Rinkitink, "and we'lllaugh after the danger is over, Bilbil. There's an old adage that says:'He laughs best who laughs last,' and the only way to laugh last is togive the other fellow a chance. Where did that knife come from, Iwonder."
For a long, sharp knife suddenly appeared in the air near them,twisting and turning from side to side and darting here and there in adangerous manner, without any support whatever. Then another knifebecame visible--and another and another--until all the space in theroyal cavern seemed filled with them. Their sharp points and edgesdarted toward Rinkitink and Bilbil perpetually and nothing could havesaved them from being cut to pieces except the protecting power of thePink Pearl. As it was, not a knife touched them and even Bilbil gave agruff laugh at the failure of Kaliko's clever magic.
The goat wandered here and there in the cavern, carrying Rinkitink uponhis back, and neither of them paid the slightest heed to the knives,although the glitter of the hundreds of polished blades was rathertrying to their eyes. Perhaps for ten minutes the knives darted aboutthem in bewildering fury; then they disappeared as suddenly as they hadappeared.
Kaliko cautiously stuck his head through the doorway and found the goatchewing the embroidery of his royal cloak, which he had left lying overthe throne, while Rinkitink was reading his manuscript on "How to beGood" and chuckling over its advice. The Nome King seemed greatlydisappointed as he came in and resumed his seat on the throne. SaidRinkitink with a chuckle:
"We've really had a peaceful time, Kaliko, although not the piecefultime you expected. Forgive me if I indulge in a laugh--hoo, hoo,hoo-hee, heek-keek-eek! And now, tell me; aren't you getting tired oftrying to injure us?"
"Eh--heh," said the Nome King. "I see now that your magic can protectyou from all my arts. But is the boy Inga as, well protected as YourMajesty and the goat?'
"Why do you ask?" inquired Rinkitink, uneasy at the question because heremembered he had not seen the little Prince of Pingaree that morning.
"Because," said Kaliko, "the boy has been undergoing trials far greaterand more dangerous than any you have encountered, and it has beenhundreds of years since anyone has been able to escape alive from theperils of my Three Trick Caverns."
King Rinkitink was much alarmed at hearing this, for although he knewthat Inga possessed the Blue Pearl, that would only give to himmarvelous strength, and perhaps strength alone would not enable him toescape from danger. But he would not let Kaliko see the fear he feltfor Inga's safety, so he said in a careless way:
"You're a mighty poor magician, Kaliko, and I'll give you my crown ifInga hasn't escaped any danger you have threatened him with."
"Your whole crown is not worth one of the valuable diamonds in mycrown," answered the Nome King, "but I'll take it. Let us go at once,therefore, and see what has become of the boy Prince, for if he is notdestroyed by this time I will admit he cannot be injured by any of themagic arts which I have at my command."
He left the room, accompanied by Klik, who had now rejoined his master,and by Rinkitink riding upon Bilbil. After traversing several of thehuge caverns they entered one that was somewhat more bright andcheerful than the others, where the Nome King paused before a wall ofrock. Then Klik pressed a secret spring and a section of the wallopened and disclosed the corridor where Prince Inga stood facing them.
"Tarts and tadpoles!" cried Kaliko in surprise. "The boy is stillalive!"
Dorothy to the Rescue
One day when Princess Dorothy of Oz was visiting Glinda the Good, whois Ozma's Royal Sorceress, she was looking through Glinda's Great Bookof Records--wherein is inscribed all important events that happen inevery part of the world--when she came upon the record of thedestruction of Pingaree, the capture of King Kitticut and Queen Gareeand all their people, and the curious escape of Inga, the boy Prince,and of King Rinkitink and the talking goat. Turning over some of thefollowing pages, Dorothy read how Inga had found the Magic Pearls andwas rowing the silver-lined boat to Regos to try to rescue his parents.
The little girl was much interested to know how well Inga succeeded,but she returned to the palace of Ozma at the Emerald City of Oz thenext day and other events made her forget the boy Prince of Pingareefor a time. However, she was one day idly looking at Ozma's MagicPicture, which shows any scene you may wish to see, when the girlthought of Inga and commanded the Magic Picture to show what the boywas doing at that moment.
It was the time when Inga and Rinkitink had followed the King of Regosand Queen of Coregos to the Nome King's country and she saw them hidingbehind the rock as Cor and Gos passed them by after having placed theKing and Queen of Pingaree in the keeping of the Nome King. From thattime Dorothy followed, by means of the Magic Picture, the adventures ofInga and his friend in the Nome King's caverns, and the danger andhelplessness of the poor boy aroused the little girl's pity andindignation.
So she went to Ozma and told the lovely girl Ruler of Oz all about Ingaand Rinkitink.
"I think Kaliko is treating them dreadfully mean," declared Dorothy,"and I wish you'd let me go to the Nome Country and help them out oftheir troubles."
"Go, my dear, if you wish to," replied Ozma, "but I think it would bebest for you to take the Wizard with you."
"Oh, I'm not afraid of the nomes," said Dorothy, "but I'll be glad totake the Wizard, for company. And may we use your Magic Carpet, Ozma?"
"Of course. Put the Magic Carpet in the Red Wagon and have the Sawhorsetake you and the Wizard to the edge of the desert. While you are gone,Dorothy, I'll watch you in the Magic Picture, and if any dangerthreatens you I'll see you are not harmed."
Dorothy thanked the Ruler of Oz and kissed her good-bye, for she wasdetermined to start at once. She found the Wizard of Oz, who wasplanting shoetrees in the garden, and when she told him Inga's story hewillingly agreed to accompany the little girl to the Nome King'scaverns. They had both been there before and had conquered the nomeswith ease, so they were not at all afraid.
The Wizard, who was a cheery little man with a bald head and a winningsmile, harnessed the Wooden Sawhorse to the Red Wagon and loaded onOzma's Magic Carpet. Then he and Dorothy climbed to the seat and theSawhorse started off and carried them swiftly through the beautifulLand of Oz to the edge of the Deadly Desert that separated theirfairyland from the Nome Country.
Even Dorothy and the clever Wizard would not have dared to cross thisdesert without the aid of the Magic Carpet, for it would have quicklydestroyed them; but when the roll of carpet had been placed upon theedge of the sands, leaving just enough lying flat for them to standupon, the carpet straightway began to unroll before them and as theywalked on it continued to unroll, until they had safely passed over thestretch of Deadly Desert and were on the border of the Nome King'sdominions.
This journey had been accomplished in a few minutes, although such adistance would have required several days travel had they not beenwalking on the Magic Carpet. On arriving they at once walked toward theentrance to the caverns of the nomes.
The Wizard carried a little black bag containing his tools of wizardry,while Dorothy carried over her arm a covered basket in which she hadplaced a dozen eggs, with which to conquer the nomes if she had anytrouble with them.
Eggs may seem to you to be a queer weapon with which to fight, but thelittle girl well knew their value. The nomes are immortal; that is,they do not perish, as mortals do, unless they happen to come incontact with an egg. If an egg touches them--either the outer shell orthe inside of the egg--the nomes lose their charm of perpetual life andthereafter are liable to die through accident or old age, just as allhumans are.
For this reason the sight of an egg fills a nome with terror and hewill do anything to prevent an egg from touching him, even for aninstant. So, when Dorothy took her basket of eggs with her, she knewthat she was more powerfully armed than if she had a regiment ofsoldiers at her back.
The Wizard Finds an Enchantment
After Kaliko had failed in his attempts to destroy his guests, as hasbeen related, the Nome King did nothing more to injure them but treatedthem in a friendly manner. He refused, however, to permit Inga to seeor to speak with his father and mother, or even to know in what part ofthe underground caverns they were confined.
"You are able to protect your lives and persons, I freely admit," saidKaliko; "but I firmly believe you have no power, either of magic orotherwise, to take from me the captives I have agreed to keep for KingGos."
Inga would not agree to this. He determined not to leave the cavernsuntil he had liberated his father and mother, although he did not thenknow how that could be accomplished. As for Rinkitink, the jolly Kingwas well fed and had a good bed to sleep upon, so he was not worryingabout anything and seemed in no hurry to go away.
Kaliko and Rinkitink were engaged in pitching a game with solid goldquoits, on the floor of the royal chamber, and Inga and Bilbil werewatching them, when Klik came running in, his hair standing on end withexcitement, and cried out that the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy wereapproaching.
Kaliko turned pale on hearing this unwelcome news and, abandoning hisgame, went to sit in his ivory throne and try to think what had broughtthese fearful visitors to his domain.
"Who is Dorothy?" asked Inga.
"She is a little girl who once lived in Kansas," replied Klik, with ashudder, "but she now lives in Ozma's palace at the Emerald City and isa Princess of Oz--which means that she is a terrible foe to deal with."
"Doesn't she like the nomes?" inquired the boy.
"It isn't that," said King Kaliko, with a groan, "but she insists onthe nomes being goody-goody, which is contrary to their natures.Dorothy gets angry if I do the least thing that is wicked, and tries tomake me stop it, and that naturally makes me downhearted. I can'timagine why she has come here just now, for I've been behaving verywell lately. As for that Wizard of Oz, he's chock-full of magic that Ican't overcome, for he learned it from Glinda, who is the most powerfulsorceress in the world. Woe is me! Why didn't Dorothy and the Wizardstay in Oz, where they belong?"
Inga and Rinkitink listened to this with much joy, for at once the ideacame to them both to plead with Dorothy to help them. Even Bilbilpricked up his ears when he heard the Wizard of Oz mentioned, and thegoat seemed much less surly, and more thoughtful than usual.
A few minutes later a nome came to say that Dorothy and the Wizard hadarrived and demanded admittance, so Klik was sent to usher them intothe royal presence of the Nome King.
As soon as she came in the little girl ran up to the boy Prince andseized both his hands.
"Oh, Inga!" she exclaimed, "I'm so glad to find you alive and well."
Inga was astonished at so warm a greeting. Making a low bow he said:
"I don't think we have met before, Princess."
"No, indeed," replied Dorothy, "but I know all about you and I've cometo help you and King Rinkitink out of your troubles." Then she turnedto the Nome King and continued: "You ought to be ashamed of yourself,King Kaliko, to treat an honest Prince and an honest King so badly."
"I haven't done anything to them," whined Kaliko, trembling as her eyesflashed upon him.
"No; but you tried to, an' that's just as bad, if not worse," saidDorothy, who was very indignant. "And now I want you to send for theKing and Queen of Pingaree and have them brought here immejitly!"
"I won't," said Kaliko.
"Yes, you will!" cried Dorothy, stamping her foot at him. "I won't havethose poor people made unhappy any longer, or separated from theirlittle boy. Why, it's dreadful, Kaliko, an' I'm su'prised at you. Youmust be more wicked than I thought you were."
"I can't do it, Dorothy," said the Nome King, almost weeping withdespair. "I promised King Gos I'd keep them captives. You wouldn't askme to break my promise, would you?"
"King Gos was a robber and an outlaw," she said, "and p'r'aps you don'tknow that a storm at sea wrecked his boat, while he was going back toRegos, and that he and Queen Cor were both drowned."
"Dear me!" exclaimed Kaliko. "Is that so?"
"I saw it in Glinda's Record Book," said Dorothy. "So now you trot outthe King and Queen of Pingaree as quick as you can."
"No," persisted the contrary Nome King, shaking his head. "I won't doit. Ask me anything else and I'll try to please you, but I can't allowthese friendly enemies to triumph over me.
"In that case," said Dorothy, beginning to remove the cover from herbasket, "I'll show you some eggs."
"Eggs!" screamed the Nome King in horror. "Have you eggs in thatbasket?"
"A dozen of 'em," replied Dorothy.
"Then keep them there--I beg--I implore you!--and I'll do anything yousay," pleaded Kaliko, his teeth chattering so that he could hardlyspeak.
"Send for the King and Queen of Pingaree," said Dorothy.
"Go, Klik," commanded the Nome King, and Klik ran away in great haste,for he was almost as much frightened as his master.
It was an affecting scene when the unfortunate King and Queen ofPingaree entered the chamber and with sobs and tears of joy embracedtheir brave and adventurous son. All the others stood silent untilgreetings and kisses had been exchanged and Inga had told his parentsin a few words of his vain struggles to rescue them and how PrincessDorothy had finally come to his assistance.
Then King Kitticut shook the hands of his friend King Rinkitink andthanked him for so loyally supporting his son Inga, and Queen Gareekissed little Dorothy's forehead and blessed her for restoring herhusband and herself to freedom.
The Wizard had been standing near Bilbil the goat and now he wassurprised to hear the animal say:
"Joyful reunion, isn't it? But it makes me tired to see grown peoplecry like children."
"Oho!" exclaimed the Wizard. "How does it happen, Mr. Goat, that you,who have never been to the Land of Oz, are able to talk?"
"That's my business," returned Bilbil in a surly tone.
The Wizard stooped down and gazed fixedly into the animal's eyes. Thenhe said, with a pitying sigh: "I see; you are under an enchantment.Indeed, I believe you to be Prince Bobo of Boboland."
Bilbil made no reply but dropped his head as if ashamed.
"This is a great discovery," said the Wizard, addressing Dorothy andthe others of the party. "A good many years ago a cruel magiciantransformed the gallant Prince of Boboland into a talking goat, andthis goat, being ashamed of his condition, ran away and was never afterseen in Boboland, which is a country far to the south of here butbordering on the Deadly Desert, opposite the Land of Oz. I heard ofthis story long ago and know that a diligent search has been made forthe enchanted Prince, without result. But I am well assured that, inthe animal you call Bilbil, I have discovered the unhappy Prince ofBoboland."
"Dear me, Bilbil," said Rinkitink, "why have you never told me this?"
"What would be the use?" asked Bilbil in a low voice and still refusingto look up.
"The use?" repeated Rinkitink, puzzled.
"Yes, that's the trouble," said the Wizard. "It is one of the mostpowerful enchantments ever accomplished, and the magician is now deadand the secret of the anti-charm lost. Even I, with all my skill,cannot restore Prince Bobo to his proper form. But I think Glinda mightbe able to do so and if you will all return with Dorothy and me to theLand of Oz, where Ozma will make you welcome, I will ask Glinda to tryto break this enchantment."
This was willingly agreed to, for they all welcomed the chance to visitthe famous Land of Oz. So they bade good-bye to King Kaliko, whomDorothy warned not to be wicked any more if he could help it, and theentire party returned over the Magic Carpet to the Land of Oz. Theyfilled the Red Wagon, which was still waiting for them, pretty full;but the Sawhorse didn't mind that and with wonderful speed carried themsafely to the Emerald City.
Chapter Twenty Two
Ozma had seen in her Magic Picture the liberation of Inga's parents andthe departure of the entire party for the Emerald City, so with herusual hospitality she ordered a splendid banquet prepared and invitedall her quaint friends who were then in the Emerald City to be presentthat evening to meet the strangers who were to become her guests.
Glinda, also, in her wonderful Record Book had learned of the eventsthat had taken place in the caverns of the Nome King and she becameespecially interested in the enchantment of the Prince of Boboland. Soshe hastily prepared several of her most powerful charms and thensummoned her flock of sixteen white storks, which swiftly bore her toOzma's palace. She arrived there before the Red Wagon did and waswarmly greeted by the girl Ruler.
Realizing that the costume of Queen Garee of Pingaree must have becomesadly worn and frayed, owing to her hardships and adventures, Ozmaordered a royal outfit prepared for the good Queen and had it laid inher chamber ready for her to put on as soon as she arrived, so shewould not be shamed at the banquet. New costumes were also provided forKing Kitticut and King Rinkitink and Prince Inga, all cut and made andembellished in the elaborate and becoming style then prevalent in theLand of Oz, and as soon as the party arrived at the palace Ozma'sguests were escorted by her servants to their rooms, that they mightbathe and dress themselves.
Glinda the Sorceress and the Wizard of Oz took charge of Bilbil thegoat and went to a private room where they were not likely to beinterrupted. Glinda first questioned Bilbil long and earnestly aboutthe manner of his enchantment and the ceremony that had been used bythe magician who enchanted him. At first Bilbil protested that he didnot want to be restored to his natural shape, saying that he had beenforever disgraced in the eyes of his people and of the entire world bybeing obliged to exist as a scrawny, scraggly goat. But Glinda pointedout that any person who incurred the enmity of a wicked magician wasliable to suffer a similar fate, and assured him that his misfortunewould make him better beloved by his subjects when he returned to themfreed from his dire enchantment.
Bilbil was finally convinced of the truth of this assertion and agreedto submit to the experiments of Glinda and the Wizard, who knew theyhad a hard task before them and were not at all sure they couldsucceed. We know that Glinda is the most complete mistress of magic whohas ever existed, and she was wise enough to guess that the clever butevil magician who had enchanted Prince Bobo had used a spell that wouldpuzzle any ordinary wizard or sorcerer to break; therefore she hadgiven the matter much shrewd thought and hoped she had conceived a planthat would succeed. But because she was not positive of success shewould have no one present at the incantation except her assistant, theWizard of Oz.
First she transformed Bilbil the goat into a lamb, and this was donequite easily. Next she transformed the lamb into an ostrich, giving ittwo legs and feet instead of four. Then she tried to transform theostrich into the original Prince Bobo, but this incantation was anutter failure. Glinda was not discouraged, however, but by a powerfulspell transformed the ostrich into a tottenhot--which is a lower formof a man. Then the tottenhot was transformed into a mifket, which was agreat step in advance and, finally, Glinda transformed the mifket intoa handsome young man, tall and shapely, who fell on his knees beforethe great Sorceress and gratefully kissed her hand, admitting that hehad now recovered his proper shape and was indeed Prince Bobo ofBoboland.
This process of magic, successful though it was in the end, hadrequired so much time that the banquet was now awaiting their presence.Bobo was already dressed in princely raiment and although he seemedvery much humbled by his recent lowly condition, they finally persuadedhim to join the festivities.
When Rinkitink saw that his goat had now become a Prince, he did notknow whether to be sorry or glad, for he felt that he would miss thecompanionship of the quarrelsome animal he had so long been accustomedto ride upon, while at the same time he rejoiced that poor Bilbil hadcome to his own again.
Prince Bobo humbly begged Rinkitink's forgiveness for having been sodisagreeable to him, at times, saying that the nature of a goat hadinfluenced him and the surly disposition he had shown was a part of hisenchantment. But the jolly King assured the Prince that he had reallyenjoyed Bilbil's grumpy speeches and forgave him readily. Indeed, theyall discovered the young Prince Bobo to be an exceedingly courteous andpleasant person, although he was somewhat reserved and dignified.
Ah, but it was a great feast that Ozma served in her gorgeous banquethall that night and everyone was as happy as could be. The Shaggy Manwas there, and so was Jack Pumpkinhead and the Tin Woodman and Cap'nBill. Beside Princess Dorothy sat Tiny Trot and Betsy Bobbin, and thethree little girls were almost as sweet to look upon as was Ozma, whosat at the head of her table and outshone all her guests in loveliness.
King Rinkitink was delighted with the quaint people of Oz and laughedand joked with the tin man and the pumpkin-headed man and found Cap'nBill a very agreeable companion. But what amused the jolly King mostwere the animal guests, which Ozma always invited to her banquets andseated at a table by themselves, where they talked and chatted togetheras people do but were served the sort of food their natures required.The Hungry Tiger and Cowardly Lion and the Glass Cat were much admiredby Rinkitink, but when he met a mule named Hank, which Betsy Bobbin hadbrought to Oz, the King found the creature so comical that he laughedand chuckled until his friends thought he would choke. Then while thebanquet was still in progress, Rinkitink composed and sang a song tothe mule and they all joined in the chorus, which was something likethis:
"It's very queer how big an ear Is worn by Mr. Donkey; And yet I fear he could not hear If it were on a monkey.
'Tis thick and strong and broad and long And also very hairy; It's quite becoming to our Hank But might disgrace a fairy!"
This song was received with so much enthusiasm that Rinkitink wasprevailed upon to sing another. They gave him a little time to composethe rhyme, which he declared would be better if he could devote a monthor two to its composition, but the sentiment he expressed was soadmirable that no one criticized the song or the manner in which thejolly little King sang it.
Dorothy wrote down the words on a piece of paper, and here they are:
"We're merry comrades all, to-night, Because we've won a gallant fight And conquered all our foes. We're not afraid of anything, So let us gayly laugh and sing Until we seek repose.
"We've all our grateful hearts can wish; King Gos has gone to feed the fish, Queen Cor has gone, as well; King Kitticut has found his own, Prince Bobo soon will have a throne Relieved of magic spell.
"So let's forget the horrid strife That fell upon our peaceful life And caused distress and pain; For very soon across the sea We'll all be sailing merrily To Pingaree again."
Chapter Twenty Three
The Pearl Kingdom
It was unfortunate that the famous Scarecrow--the most popular personin all Oz, next to Ozma--was absent at the time of the banquet, for hehappened just then to be making one of his trips through the country;but the Scarecrow had a chance later to meet Rinkitink and Inga and theKing and Queen of Pingaree and Prince Bobo, for the party remainedseveral weeks at the Emerald City, where they were royally entertained,and where both the gentle Queen Garee and the noble King Kitticutrecovered much of their good spirits and composure and tried to forgettheir dreadful experiences.
At last, however, the King and Queen desired to return to their ownPingaree, as they longed to be with their people again and see how wellthey had rebuilt their homes. Inga also was anxious to return, althoughhe had been very happy in Oz, and King Rinkitink, who was happyanywhere except at Gilgad, decided to go with his former friends toPingaree. As for prince Bobo, he had become so greatly attached to KingRinkitink that he was loth to leave him.
On a certain day they all bade good-bye to Ozma and Dorothy and Glindaand the Wizard and all their good friends in Oz, and were driven in theRed Wagon to the edge of the Deadly Desert, which they crossed safelyon the Magic Carpet. They then made their way across the Nome Kingdomand the Wheeler Country, where no one molested them, to the shores ofthe Nonestic Ocean. There they found the boat with the silver liningstill lying undisturbed on the beach.
There were no important adventures during the trip and on their arrivalat the pearl kingdom they were amazed at the beautiful appearance ofthe island they had left in ruins. All the houses of the people hadbeen rebuilt and were prettier than before, with green lawns beforethem and flower gardens in the back yards. The marble towers of KingKitticut's new palace were very striking and impressive, while thepalace itself proved far more magnificent than it had been before thewarriors from Regos destroyed it.
Nikobob had been very active and skillful in directing all this work,and he had also built a pretty cottage for himself, not far from theKing's palace, and there Inga found Zella, who was living very happyand contented in her new home. Not only had Nikobob accomplished allthis in a comparatively brief space of time, but he had started thepearl fisheries again and when King Kitticut returned to Pingaree hefound a quantity of fine pearls already in the royal treasury.
So pleased was Kitticut with the good judgment, industry and honesty ofthe former charcoal-burner of Regos, that he made Nikobob his Lord HighChamberlain and put him in charge of the pearl fisheries and all thebusiness matters of the island kingdom.
They all settled down very comfortably in the new palace and the Queengathered her maids about her once more and set them to workembroidering new draperies for the royal throne. Inga placed the threeMagic Pearls in their silken bag and again deposited them in the secretcavity under the tiled flooring of the banquet hall, where they couldbe quickly secured if danger ever threatened the now prosperous island.
King Rinkitink occupied a royal guest chamber built especially for hisuse and seemed in no hurry to leave his friends in Pingaree. The fatlittle King had to walk wherever he went and so missed Bilbil more andmore; but he seldom walked far and he was so fond of Prince BoBo thathe never regretted Bilbil's disenchantment.
Indeed, the jolly monarch was welcome to remain forever in Pingaree, ifhe wished to, for his merry disposition set smiles on the faces of allhis friends and made everyone near him as jolly as he was himself. WhenKing Kitticut was not too busy with affairs of state he loved to joinhis guest and listen to his brother monarch's songs and stories. For hefound Rinkitink to be, with all his careless disposition, a shrewdphilosopher, and in talking over their adventures one day the King ofGilgad said:
"The beauty of life is its sudden changes. No one knows what is goingto happen next, and so we are constantly being surprised andentertained. The many ups and downs should not discourage us, for if weare down, we know that a change is coming and we will go up again;while those who are up are almost certain to go down. My grandfatherhad a song which well expresses this and if you will listen I will singit."
"Of course I will listen to your song," returned Kitticut, "for itwould be impolite not to."
So Rinkitink sang his grandfather's song:
"A mighty King once ruled the land-- But now he's baking pies. A pauper, on the other hand, Is ruling, strong and wise.
A tiger once in jungles raged-- But now he's in a zoo; A lion, captive-born and caged, Now roams the forest through.
A man once slapped a poor boy's pate And made him weep and wail. The boy became a magistrate And put the man in jail.
A sunny day succeeds the night; It's summer--then it snows! Right oft goes wrong and wrong comes right, As ev'ry wise man knows."
The Captive King
One morning, just as the royal party was finishing breakfast, a servantcame running to say that a great fleet of boats was approaching theisland from the south. King Kitticut sprang up at once, in great alarm,for he had much cause to fear strange boats. The others quicklyfollowed him to the shore to see what invasion might be coming uponthem.
Inga was there with the first, and Nikobob and Zella soon joined thewatchers. And presently, while all were gazing eagerly at theapproaching fleet, King Rinkitink suddenly cried out:
"Get your pearls, Prince Inga--get them quick!"
"Are these our enemies, then?" asked the boy, looking with surpriseupon the fat little King, who had begun to tremble violently.
"They are my people of Gilgad!" answered Rinkitink, wiping a tear fromhis eye. "I recognize my royal standards flying from the boats. So,please, dear Inga, get out your pearls to protect me!"
"What can you fear at the hands of your own subjects?" asked Kitticut,astonished.
But before his frightened guest could answer the question Prince Bobo,who was standing beside his friend, gave an amused laugh and said:
"You are caught at last, dear Rinkitink. Your people will take you homeagain and oblige you to reign as King."
Rinkitink groaned aloud and clasped his hands together with a gestureof despair, an attitude so comical that the others could scarcelyforbear laughing.
But now the boats were landing upon the beach. They were fifty innumber, beautifully decorated and upholstered and rowed by men clad inthe gay uniforms of the King of Gilgad. One splendid boat had a throneof gold in the center, over which was draped the King's royal robe ofpurple velvet, embroidered with gold buttercups.
Rinkitink shuddered when he saw this throne; but now a tall man,handsomely dressed, approached and knelt upon the grass before hisKing, while all the other occupants of the boats shouted joyfully andwaved their plumed hats in the air.
"Thanks to our good fortune," said the man who kneeled, "we have foundYour Majesty at last!"
"Pinkerbloo," answered Rinkitink sternly, "I must have you hanged, forthus finding me against my will."
"You think so now, Your Majesty, but you will never do it," returnedPinkerbloo, rising and kissing the King's hand.
"Why won't I?" asked Rinkitink.
"Because you are much too tender-hearted, Your Majesty."
"It may be--it may be," agreed Rinkitink, sadly. "It is one of mygreatest failings. But what chance brought you here, my LordPinkerbloo?"
"We have searched for you everywhere, sire, and all the people ofGilgad have been in despair since you so mysteriously disappeared. Wecould not appoint a new King, because we did not know but that youstill lived; so we set out to find you, dead or alive. After visitingmany islands of the Nonestic Ocean we at last thought of Pingaree, fromwhere come the precious pearls; and now our faithful quest has beenrewarded."
"And what now?" asked Rinkitink.
"Now, Your Majesty, you must come home with us, like a good and dutifulKing, and rule over your people," declared the man in a firm voice.
"I will not."
"But you must--begging Your Majesty's pardon for the contradiction."
"Kitticut," cried poor Rinkitink, "you must save me from being capturedby these, my subjects. What! must I return to Gilgad and be forced toreign in splendid state when I much prefer to eat and sleep and sing inmy own quiet way? They will make me sit in a throne three hours a dayand listen to dry and tedious affairs of state; and I must stand up forhours at the court receptions, till I get corns on my heels; andforever must I listen to tiresome speeches and endless petitions andcomplaints!"
"But someone must do this, Your Majesty," said Pinkerbloo respectfully,"and since you were born to be our King you cannot escape your duty."
"'Tis a horrid fate!" moaned Rinkitink. "I would die willingly, ratherthan be a King--if it did not hurt so terribly to die."
"You will find it much more comfortable to reign than to die, althoughI fully appreciate Your Majesty's difficult position and am truly sorryfor you," said Pinkerbloo.
King Kitticut had listened to this conversation thoughtfully, so now hesaid to his friend:
"The man is right, dear Rinkitink. It is your duty to reign, since fatehas made you a King, and I see no honorable escape for you. I shallgrieve to lose your companionship, but I feel the separation cannot beavoided."
"Then," said he, turning to Lord Pinkerbloo, "in three days I willdepart with you for Gilgad; but during those three days I propose tofeast and make merry with my good friend King Kitticut."
Then all the people of Gilgad shouted with delight and eagerlyscrambled ashore to take their part in the festival.
Those three days were long remembered in Pingaree, for never--beforenor since--has such feasting and jollity been known upon that island.Rinkitink made the most of his time and everyone laughed and sang withhim by day and by night.
Then, at last, the hour of parting arrived and the King of Gilgad andRuler of the Dominion of Rinkitink was escorted by a grand processionto his boat and seated upon his golden throne. The rowers of the fiftyboats paused, with their glittering oars pointed into the air likegigantic uplifted sabres, while the people of Pingaree--men, women andchildren--stood upon the shore shouting a royal farewell to the jollyKing.
Then came a sudden hush, while Rinkitink stood up and, with a bow tothose assembled to witness his departure, sang the following song,which he had just composed for the occasion.
"Farewell, dear Isle of Pingaree-- The fairest land in all the sea! No living mortals, kings or churls, Would scorn to wear thy precious pearls.
"King Kitticut, 'tis with regret I'm forced to say farewell; and yet Abroad no longer can I roam When fifty boats would drag me home.
"Good-bye, my Prince of Pingaree; A noble King some time you'll be And long and wisely may you reign And never face a foe again!"
They cheered him from the shore; they cheered him from the boats; andthen all the oars of the fifty boats swept downward with a singlemotion and dipped their blades into the purple-hued waters of theNonestic Ocean.
As the boats shot swiftly over the ripples of the sea Rinkitink turnedto Prince Bobo, who had decided not to desert his former master and hispresent friend, and asked anxiously:
"How did you like that song, Bilbil--I mean Bobo? Is it a masterpiece,do you think?"
And Bobo replied with a smile:
"Like all your songs, dear Rinkitink, the sentiment far excels thepoetry."