This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org
Author: Frank Richard Stockton
Release Date: March 16, 2007 [eBook #20836]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TING-A-LING***
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, By FRANK R. STOCKTON, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
By CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS.
Copyright, 1910, By WILLIAM S. STOCKTON.
THE MEMORY OF ALL GOOD GIANTS, DWARFS, AND FAIRIES
IS GRATEFULLY DEDICATED.
In a far country of the East, in a palace surrounded by orange groves, where the nightingales sang, and by silvery lakes, where the soft fountains plashed, there lived a fine old king. For many years he had governed with great comfort to himself, and to the tolerable satisfaction of his subjects. His queen being dead, his whole affection was given to his only child, the Princess Aufalia; and, whenever he happened to think of it, he paid great attention to her education. She had the best masters of embroidery and in the language of flowers, and she took lessons on the zithar three times a week.
A suitable husband, the son of a neighboring monarch, had been selected for her when she was about two hours old, thus making it unnecessary for her to go into society, and she consequently passed her youthful days in almost entire seclusion. She was now, when our story begins, a woman more beautiful than the roses of the garden, more musical than the nightingales, and far more graceful than the plashing fountains.
One balmy day in spring, when the birds were singing lively songs on the trees, and the crocuses were coaxing the jonquils almost off their very stems with their pretty ways, Aufalia went out to take a little promenade, followed by two grim slaves. Closely veiled, she walked in the secluded suburbs of the town, where she was generally required to take her lonely exercise. To-day, however, the slaves, impelled by a sweet tooth, which each of them possessed, thought it would be no harm if they went a little out of their way to procure some sugared cream-beans, which were made excellently well by a confectioner near the outskirts of the city. While they were in the shop, bargaining for the sugar-beans, a young man who was passing thereby stepped up to the Princess, and asked her if she could tell him the shortest road to the baths, and if there was a good eating-house in the neighborhood. Now as this was the first time in her life that the Princess had been addressed by a young man, it is not surprising that she was too much astonished to speak, especially as this youth was well dressed, extremely handsome, and of proud and dignified manners,—although, to be sure, a little travel-stained and tired-looking.
When she had somewhat recovered from her embarrassment, she raised her veil, (as if it was necessary to do so in speaking to a young man!) and told him that she was sure she had not the slightest idea where any place in the city was,—that she very seldom went into the city, and never thought about the way to any place when she did go,—that she wished she knew where those places were that he mentioned, for she would very much like to tell him, especially if he was hungry, which she knew was not pleasant, and no doubt he was not used to it, but that indeed she hadn't any idea about the way anywhere, but—
There is no knowing how long the Princess might have run on thus (and her veil up all the time) had not the two slaves at that moment emerged from the sugar-bean shop. The sight of the Princess actually talking to a young man in the broad daylight so amazed them, that they stood for a moment dumb in the door. But, recovering from their surprise, they drew their cimeters, and ran toward the Prince (for such his every action proclaimed him to be). When this high-born personage saw them coming with drawn blades, his countenance flushed, and his eyes sparkled with rage. Drawing his flashing sword, he shouted, "Crouch, varlets! Lie with the dust, ye dogs!" and sprang furiously upon them.
The impetuosity of the onslaught caused the two men to pause, and in a few minutes they fell back some yards, so fast and heavy did the long sword clash upon their upraised cimeters. This contest was soon over, for, unaccustomed to such a vigorous method of attack, the slaves turned and fled, and the Prince pursued them down a long street, and up an alley, and over a wall, and through a garden, and under an arch, and over a court-yard, and through a gate, and down another street, and up another alley, and through a house, and up a long staircase, and out upon a roof, and over several abutments, and down a trap-door, and down another pair of stairs, and through another house, into another garden, and over another wall, and down a long road, and over a field, clear out of sight.
When the Prince had performed this feat, he sat down to rest, but, suddenly bethinking himself of the maiden, he rose and went to look for her.
"I have chased away her servants," said he; "how will she ever find her way anywhere?"
If this was difficult for her, the Prince found that it was no less so for himself; and he spent much time in endeavoring to reach again the northern suburbs of the city. At last, after considerable walking, he reached the long street into which he had first chased the slaves, and, finding a line of children eagerly devouring a line of sugared cream-beans, he remembered seeing these confections dropping from the pockets of the slaves as he pursued them, and, following up the clew, soon reached the shop, and found the Princess sitting under a tree before the door. The shop-keeper, knowing her to be the Princess, had been afraid to speak to her, and was working away inside, making believe that he had not seen her, and that he knew nothing of the conflict which had taken place before his door.
Up jumped Aufalia. "O! I am so glad to see you again! I have been waiting here ever so long. But what have you done with my slaves?"
"I am your slave," said the Prince, bowing to the ground.
"But you don't know the way home," said she, "and I am dreadfully hungry."
Having ascertained from her that she was the King's daughter, and lived at the palace, the Prince reflected for a moment, and then, entering the shop, dragged forth the maker of sugared cream-beans, and ordered him to lead the way to the presence of the King. The confectioner, crouching to the earth, immediately started off, and the Prince and Princess, side by side, followed over what seemed to them a very short road to the palace. The Princess talked a great deal, but the Prince was rather quiet. He had a good many things to think about. He was the younger son of a king who lived far away to the north, and had been obliged to flee the kingdom on account of the custom of allowing only one full-grown heir to the throne to live in the country.
"Now," thought he, "this is an excellent commencement of my adventures. Here is a truly lovely Princess whom I am conducting to her anxious parent. He will be overwhelmed with gratitude, and will doubtless bestow upon me the government of a province—or—perhaps he will make me his Vizier—no, I will not accept that,—the province will suit me better." Having settled this little matter to his mind, he gladdened the heart of the Princess with the dulcet tones of his gentle voice.
On reaching the palace, they went directly to the grand hall, where the King was giving audience. Justly astounded at perceiving his daughter (now veiled) approaching under the guidance of a crouching sugar-bean maker and a strange young man, he sat in silent amazement, until the Prince, who was used to court life, had made his manners, and related his story. When the King had heard it, he clapped his hands three times, and in rushed twenty-four eunuchs.
"Take," said the monarch, "this bird to her bower." And they surrounded the Princess, and hurried her off to the women's apartments.
Then he clapped his hands twice, and in rushed twenty-four armed guards from another door.
"Bind me this dog!" quoth the King, pointing to the Prince. And they bound him in a twinkling.
"Is this the way you treat a stranger?" cried the Prince.
"Aye," said the King, merrily. "We will treat you royally. You are tired. To-night and to-morrow you shall be lodged and feasted daintily and the day after we will have a celebration, when you shall be beaten with sticks, and shall fight a tiger, and be tossed by a bull, and be bowstrung, and beheaded, and drawn and quartered, and we will have a nice time. Bear him away to his soft couch."
The guards then led the Prince away to be kept a prisoner until the day for the celebration. The room to which he was conducted was comfortable, and he soon had a plenteous supper laid out before him, of which he partook with great avidity. Having finished his meal, he sat down to reflect upon his condition, but feeling very sleepy, and remembering that he would have a whole day of leisure, to-morrow, for such reflections, he concluded to go to bed. Before doing so, however, he wished to make all secure for the night. Examining the door, he found there was no lock to it; and being unwilling to remain all night liable to intrusion, he pondered the matter for some minutes, and then took up a wide and very heavy stool, and, having partially opened the door, he put the stool up over it, resting it partly on the door and partly on the surrounding woodwork, so that if any one tried to come in, and pushed the door open, the stool would fall down and knock the intruder's head off. Having arranged this to his satisfaction, the Prince went to bed.
That evening the Princess Aufalia was in great grief, for she had heard of the sentence pronounced upon the Prince, and felt herself the cause of it. What other reason she had to grieve over the Prince's death, need not be told. Her handmaidens fully sympathized with her; and one of them, Nerralina, the handsomest and most energetic of them all, soon found, by proper inquiry, that the Prince was confined in the fourth story of the "Tower of Tears." So they devised a scheme for his rescue. Each one of the young ladies contributed her scarf; and when they were all tied together, the conclave decided that they made a rope plenty long enough to reach from the Prince's window to the ground.
Thus much settled, it only remained to get this means of escape to the prisoner. This the lady Nerralina volunteered to do. Waiting until the dead of night, she took off her slippers, and with the scarf-rope rolled up into a ball under her arm, she silently stepped past the drowsy sentinels, and, reaching the Prince's room, pushed open the door, and the stool fell down and knocked her head off. Her body lay in the doorway, but her head rolled into the middle of the room.
Notwithstanding the noise occasioned by this accident, the Prince did not awake; but in the morning, when he was up and nearly dressed, he was astonished at seeing a lady's head in the middle of the room.
"Hallo!" said he. "Here's somebody's head."
Picking it up, he regarded it with considerable interest. Then seeing the body in the doorway, he put the head and it together, and, finding they fitted, came to the conclusion that they belonged to each other, and that the stool had done the mischief. When he saw the bundle of scarfs lying by the body, he unrolled it, and soon imagined the cause of the lady's visit.
"Poor thing!" he said; "doubtless the Princess sent her here with this, and most likely with a message also, which now I shall never hear. But these poor women! what do they know? This rope will not bear a man like me. Well! well! this poor girl is dead. I will pay respect to her."
And so he picked her up, and put her on his bed, thinking at the time that she must have fainted when she heard the stool coming, for no blood had flowed. He fitted on the head, and then he covered her up with the sheet; but, in pulling this over her head, he uncovered her feet, which he now perceived to be slipperless.
"No shoes! Ah me! Well, I will be polite to a lady, even if she is dead."
And so he drew off his own yellow boots, and put them on her feet, which was easy enough, as they were a little too big for her. He had hardly done this, and dressed himself, when he heard some one approaching; and hastily removing the fallen stool, he got behind the door just as a fat old fellow entered with a broadsword in one hand, and a pitcher of hot water and some towels in the other. Glancing at the bed, and seeing the yellow boots sticking out, the old fellow muttered: "Gone to bed with his clothes on, eh? Well, I'll let him sleep!" And so, putting down the pitcher and the towels, he walked out again. But not alone, for the Prince silently stepped after him, and by keeping close behind him, followed without being heard,—his politeness having been the fortunate cause of his being in his stocking-feet. For some distance they walked together thus, the Prince intending to slip off at the first cross passage he came to. It was quite dusky in the long hall way, there being no windows; and when the guard, at a certain place, made a very wide step, taking hold of a rod by the side of the wall as he did so, the Prince, not perceiving this, walked straight on, and popped right down an open trap-door.
Nerralina not returning, the Princess was in great grief, not knowing at first whether she had eloped with the Prince, or had met with some misfortune on the way to his room. In the morning, however, the ladies ascertained that the rope was not hanging from the Prince's window, and as the guards reported that he was comfortably sleeping in his bed, it was unanimously concluded that Nerralina had been discovered in her attempt, and had come to grief. Sorrowing bitterly, somewhat for the unknown mishap of her maid of honor, but still more for the now certain fate of him she loved, Aufalia went into the garden, and, making her way through masses of rose-trees and jasmines, to the most secluded part of the grounds, threw herself upon a violet bank and wept unrestrainedly, the tears rolling one by one from her eyes, like a continuous string of pearls.
Now it so happened that this spot was the pleasure ground of a company of fairies, who had a colony near by. These fairies were about an inch and a half high, beautifully formed, and of the most respectable class. They had not been molested for years by any one coming to this spot; but as they knew perfectly well who the Princess was, they were not at all alarmed at her appearance. In fact, the sight of her tears rolling so prettily down into the violet cups, and over the green leaves, seemed to please them much, and many of the younger ones took up a tear or two upon their shoulders to take home with them.
There was one youth, the handsomest of them all, named Ting-a-ling, who had a beautiful little sweetheart called Ling-a-ting.
Each one of these lovers, when they were about to return to their homes, picked up the prettiest tear they could find. Ting-a-ling put his tear upon his shoulder, and walked along as gracefully as an Egyptian woman with her water-jug; while little Ling-a-ting, with her treasure borne lightly over her head, skipped by her lover's side, as happy as happy could be.
"Don't walk out in the sun, my dearest," said Ting-a-ling. "Your shin-shiney will burst."
"Burst! O no, Tingy darling, no it won't. See how nice and big it is getting, and so light! Look!" cried she, throwing back her head; "I can see the sky through it; and O! what pretty colors,—blue, green, pink, and"—And the tear burst, and poor little Ling-a-ting sunk down on the grass, drenched and drowned.
Horror-stricken, Ting-a-ling dropped his tear and wept. Clasping his hands above his head, he fell on his knees beside his dear one, and raised his eyes to the blue sky in bitter anguish. But when he cast them down again, little Ling-a-ting was all soaked into the grass. Then sterner feelings filled his breast, and revenge stirred up the depths of his soul.
"This thing shall end!" he said, hissing the words between his teeth. "No more of us shall die like Ling-a-ting!"
So he ran quickly, and with his little sword cut down two violets, and of the petals he made two little soft bundles, and, tying them together with his garters, he slung them over his shoulder. Full of his terrible purpose, he then ran to the Princess, and, going behind her, clambered up her dress until he stood on her shoulder, and, getting on the top of her head, he loosened a long hair, and lowered himself down with it, until he stood upon the under lashes of her left eye. Now, his intention was evident. Those violet bundles were to "end this thing." They were to be crammed into the source of those fatal tears, to the beauty of which poor Ling-a-ting had fallen a victim.
"Now we shall see," said he, "if some things cannot be done as well as others!" and, kneeling down, he took one bundle from his shoulder, and prepared to put it in her eye. It is true, that, occupying the position he did, he, in some measure, obstructed the lady's vision; but as her eyes had been so long dimmed with tears, and her heart overshadowed with sorrow, she did not notice it.
Just as Ting-a-ling was about to execute his purpose, he happened to look before him, and saw, to his amazement, another little fairy on his knees, right in front of him. Starting back, he dropped the bundle from his hand, and the other from his shoulder. Then, upon his hands and knees, he stared steadfastly at the little man opposite to him, who immediately imitated him. And there they knelt with equal wonder in each of their countenances, bobbing at each other every time the lady winked. Then did Ting-a-ling get very red in the face, and, standing erect, he took strong hold of the Princess's upper eyelash, to steady himself, resolved upon giving that saucy fairy a good kick, when, to his dismay, the eyelash came out, he lost his balance, and at the same moment a fresh shower of tears burst from her eyes, which washed Ting-a-ling senseless into her lap.
When he recovered, he was still sticking to the Princess's silk apron, all unobserved, as she sat in her own room talking to one of her maids, who had just returned from a long visit into the country. Slipping down to the floor, Ting-a-ling ran all shivering to the window, to the seat of which he climbed, and getting upon a chrysanthemum that was growing in a flower-pot in the sunshine, he took off his shoes and stockings, and, hanging them on a branch to dry, laid down in the warm blossom; and while he was drying, listened to the mournful tale that Aufalia was telling her maid, about the poor Prince that was to die to-morrow. The more he heard, the more was his tender heart touched with pity, and, forgetting all his resentment against the Princess, he felt only the deepest sympathy for her misfortunes, and those of her lover. When she had finished, Ting-a-ling had resolved to assist them, or die in the attempt!
But, as he could not do much himself, he intended instantly to lay their case before a Giant of his acquaintance, whose good-humor and benevolence were proverbial. So he put on his shoes and stockings, which were not quite dry, and hastily descended to the garden by means of a vine which grew upon the wall. The distance to the Giant's castle was too great for him to think of walking; and he hurried around to a friend of his who kept a livery-stable. When he reached this place, he found his friend sitting in his stable-door, and behind him Ting-a-ling could see the long rows of stalls, with all the butterflies on one side, and the grasshoppers on the other.
"How do you do?" said Ting-a-ling, seating himself upon a horse-block, and wiping his face. "It is a hot day, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir," said the livery-stable man, who was rounder and shorter than Ting-a-ling. "Yes, it is very warm. I haven't been out to-day."
"Well, I shouldn't advise you to go," said Ting-a-ling. "But I must to business, for I'm in a great hurry. Have you a fast butterfly that you can let me have right away?"
"O yes, two or three of them, for that matter."
"Have you that one," asked Ting-a-ling, "that I used to take out last summer?"
"That animal," said the livery-stable man, rising and clasping his hands under his coat-tail, "I am sorry to say, you can't have. He's foundered."
"That's bad," said Ting-a-ling, "for I always liked him."
"I can let you have one just as fast," said the stable-keeper. "By the way, how would you like a real good grasshopper?"
"Too hot a day for the saddle," said Ting-a-ling; "and now please harness up, for I'm in a dreadful hurry."
"Yes, sir, right away. But I don't know exactly what wagon to give you. I have two first-rate new pea-pods; but they are both out. However, I can let you have a nice easy Johnny-jump-up, if you say so."
"Any thing will do," said Ting-a-ling, "only get it out quick."
In a very short time a butterfly was brought out, and harnessed to a first-class Johnny-jump-up. The vehicles used by these fairies were generally a cup-like blossom, or something of that nature, furnished, instead of wheels, with little bags filled with a gas resembling that used to inflate balloons. Thus the vehicle was sustained in the air, while the steed drew it rapidly along.
As soon as Ting-a-ling heard the sound of the approaching equipage, he stood upon the horse-block, and when the wagon was brought up to it, he quickly jumped in and took the reins from the hostler. "Get up!" said he, and away they went.
It was a long drive, and it was at least three in the afternoon when Ting-a-ling reached the Giant's castle. Drawing up before the great gates, he tied his animal to a hinge, and walked in himself under the gate. Going boldly into the hall, he went up-stairs, or rather he ran up the top rail of the banisters, for it would have been hard work for him to have clambered up each separate step. As he expected, he found the Giant (whose name I forgot to say was Tur-il-i-ra) in his dining-room. He had just finished his dinner, and was sitting in his arm-chair by the table, fast asleep. This Giant was about as large as two mammoths. It was useless for Ting-a-ling to stand on the floor, and endeavor to make himself heard above the roaring of the snoring, which sounded louder than the thunders of a cataract. So, climbing upon one of the Giant's boots, he ran up his leg, and hurried over the waistcoat so fast, that, slipping on one of the brass buttons, he came down upon his knees with great force.
"Whew!" said he, "that must have hurt him! after dinner too!"
Jumping up quickly, he ran easily over the bosom, and getting on his shoulder, clambered up into his ear. Standing up in the opening of this immense cavity, he took hold of one side with his outstretched arms, and shouted with all his might,—
"Tur-il-i! Tur-il-i! Tur-il-i-RA!"
Startled at the noise, the Giant clapped his hand to his ear with such force, that had not Ting-a-ling held on very tightly, he would have been shot up against the tympanum of this mighty man.
"Don't do that again!" cried the little fellow. "Don't do that again! It's only me—Ting-a-ling. Hold your finger."
Recognizing the voice of his young friend, the Giant held out his forefinger, and Ting-a-ling, mounting it, was carried round before the Giant's face, where he proceeded to relate the misfortunes of the two lovers, in his most polished and affecting style.
The Giant listened with much attention, and when he had done, said, "Ting-a-ling, I feel a great interest in all young people, and will do what I can for this truly unfortunate couple. But I must finish my nap first, otherwise I could not do anything. Please jump down on the table and eat something, while I go to sleep for a little while."
So saying, he put Ting-a-ling gently down upon the table. But this young gentleman, having a dainty appetite, did not see much that he thought he would like; but, cutting a grain of rice in two, he ate the half of it, and then laid down on a napkin and went to sleep.
When Tur-il-i-ra awoke, he remembered that it was time to be off, and, waking Ting-a-ling, he took out his great purse, and placed the little fairy in it, where he had very comfortable quarters, as there was no money there to hurt him.
"Don't forget my wagon when you get to the gate," said Ting-a-ling, sleepily, rolling himself up for a fresh nap, as the Giant closed the purse with a snap. Tur-il-i-ra, having put on his hat, went down-stairs, and crossed the court-yard in a very few steps. When he had closed the great gates after him, he bethought himself of Ting-a-ling's turn-out, which the fairy had mentioned as being tied to the hinge. Not being able to see anything so minute at the distance of his eyes from the ground, he put on his spectacles, and getting upon his hands and knees, peered closely about the hinges.
"O! here you are," said he, and, picking up the butterfly and wagon, he put them in his vest pocket—that is, all excepting the butterfly's head. That remained fast to the hinge, as the Giant forgot he was tied. Then our lofty friend set off at a smart pace for the King's castle; but notwithstanding his haste, it was dark when he reached it.
"Come now, young man," said he, opening his purse, "wake up, and let us get to work. Where is that Prince you were talking about?"
"Well, I'm sure I don't know," said Ting-a-ling, rubbing his eyes. "But just put me up to that window which has the vine growing beneath it. That is the Princess's room, and she can tell us all about it."
So the giant took him on his finger, and put him in the window. There, in the lighted room, Ting-a-ling beheld a sight which greatly moved him. Although she had slept but little the night before, the Princess was still up, and was sitting in an easy-chair, weeping profusely. Near her stood a maid-of-honor, who continually handed her fresh handkerchiefs from a great basketful by her side. As fast as the Princess was done with one, she threw it behind her, and the great pile there showed that she must have been weeping nearly all day. Getting down upon the floor, Ting-a-ling clambered up the Princess's dress, and reaching, at last, her ear, shouted into it,—
"Princess! Princess! Stop crying, for I'm come!"
The Princess was very much startled; but she did not, like the Giant, clap her hand to her ear, for if she had, she would have ruined the beautiful curls which stood out so nicely on each side. Ting-a-ling implored her to be quiet, and told her that the Giant had come to assist her, and that they wanted to know where the Prince was confined.
"I will tell you! I will show you!" cried the Princess quickly, and, jumping up, she ran to the window with Ting-a-ling still at her ear. "O you good giant," she cried, "are you there? If you will take me, I will show you the tower, the cruel tower, where my Prince is confined."
"Fear not!" said the good Giant. "Fear not I soon will release him. Let me take you in my hands, and do you show me where to go."
"Are you sure you can hold me?" said the Princess, standing timidly upon the edge of the window.
"I guess so," said the Giant. "Just get into my hands."
And, taking her down gently, he set her on his arm, and then he took Ting-a-ling from her hair, and placed him on the tip of his thumb. Thus they proceeded to the Tower of Tears.
"Here is the place," said the Princess. "Here is the horrid tower where my beloved is. Please put me down a minute, and let me cry."
"No, no," said the Giant; "you have done enough of that, my dear, and we have no time to spare. So, if this is your Prince's tower, just get in at the window, and tell him to come out quickly, and I will take you both away without making any fuss."
"That is the window—the fourth-story one. Lift me up," said the Princess.
But though the Giant was very large, he was not quite tall enough for this feat, for they built their towers very high in those days. So, putting Ting-a-ling and the Princess into his pocket, he looked around for something to stand on. Seeing a barn near by, he picked it up, and placed it underneath the window. He put his foot on it to try if it would bear him, and, finding it would (for in those times barns were very strong), he stood upon it, and looked in the fourth-story window. Taking his little friends out of his pocket, he put them on the window-sill, where Ting-a-ling remained to see what would happen, but the Princess jumped right down on the floor. As there was a lighted candle on the table, she saw that there was some one covered up in the bed.
"O, there he is!" said she. "Now I will wake him up, and hurry him away." But just at that moment, as she was going to give the sleeper a gentle shake, she happened to perceive the yellow boots sticking out from under the sheet.
"O dear!" said she in a low voice, "if he hasn't gone to bed with his boots on! And if I wake him, he will jump right down on the floor, and make a great noise, and we shall be found out."
So she went to the foot of the bed, and pulled off the boots very gently.
"White stockings!" said she. "What does this mean? I know the Prince wore green stockings, for I took particular notice how well they looked with his yellow boots. There must be something wrong, I declare! Let me run to the other end of the bed, and see how it is there. O my! O my!" cried she, turning down the sheet. "A woman's head! Wrong both ways! O what shall I do?"
Letting the sheet drop, she accidentally touched the head, which immediately rolled off on to the floor.
"Loose! Loose!! Loose!!!" she screamed in bitter agony, clasping her hands above her head. "What shall I ever do? O misery! misery me! Some demon has changed him, all but his boots. O Despair! Despair!"
And, without knowing what she did, she rushed frantically out of the room, and along the dark passage, and popped right down through the open trap.
"What's up?" said the Giant, putting his face to the window. "What's all this noise about?"
"O I don't know," said Ting-a-ling, almost crying, "but somebody's head is off; and it's a lady—all but the boots—and the Princess has run away! O dear! O dear!"
"Come now!" said Tur-il-i-ra, "Ting-a-ling, get into my pocket. I must see into this myself, for I can't be waiting here all night, you know."
So the Giant, still standing on the barn, lifted off the roof of the tower, and threw it to some distance. He then, by the moonlight, examined the upper story, but, finding no Prince or Princess, brushed down the walls until he came to the floor, and, taking it up, he looked carefully over the next story. This he continued, until he had torn down the whole tower, and found no one but servants and guards, who ran away in all directions, like ants when you destroy their hills. He then kicked down all those walls which connected the tower with the rest of the palace, and, when it was all level with the ground, he happened to notice, almost at his feet, a circular opening like an entrance to a vault, from which arose a very pleasant smell as of something good to eat. Stooping down to see what it was that caused this agreeable perfume, he perceived that at the distance of a few yards the aperture terminated in a huge yellow substance, in which, upon a closer inspection, he saw four feet sticking up—two with slippers, and two with green stockings.
"Why, this is strange!" said he, and, stooping down, he felt the substance, and found it was quite soft and yielding. He then loosened it by passing his hand around it, and directly lifted it out almost entire.
"By the beard of the Prophet!" he cried, "but this is a cheese!" and, turning it over, he saw on the other side two heads, one with short black hair, and the other covered with beautiful brown curls.
"Why, here they are! As I'm a living Giant! these must be the Prince and Princess, stowed away in a cheese!" And he laughed until the very hills cracked.
When he got a little over his merriment, he asked the imprisoned couple how they got there, and if they felt comfortable. They replied that they had fallen down a trap, and had gone nearly through this cheese, where they had stuck fast, and that was all they had known about it; and if the blood did not run down into their heads so, they would be pretty comfortable, thank him—which last remark the Giant accounted for by the fact, that, when lovers are near each other, they do not generally pay much attention to surrounding circumstances.
"This, then," said he, rising, "is where the King hardens his cheeses, is it? Well, well, it's a jolly go!" And he laughed some more.
"O Tur-il-i-ra," cried Ting-a-ling, looking out from the vest-pocket, "I'm so glad you've found them."
"Well, so am I," said the Giant.
Then Tur-il-i-ra, still holding the cheese, walked away for a little distance, and sat down on a high bank, intending to wait there until morning, when he would call on the King, and confer with him in relation to his new-found treasure. Leaning against a great rock, the Giant put the cheese upon his knees in such a manner as not to injure the heads and feet of the lovers, and dropped into a very comfortable sleep.
"Don't I wish I could get my arms out!" whispered the Prince.
"O my!" whispered the Princess.
Ting-a-ling, having now nothing to occupy his mind, and desiring to stretch his legs, got out of the vest-pocket where he had remained so safely during all the disturbance, and descended to the ground to take a little walk. He had not gone far before he met a young friend, who was running along as fast as he could.
"Hallo! Ting-a-ling," cried the other. "Is that you? Come with me, and I will show you the funniest thing you ever saw in your life."
"Is it far?" said Ting-a-ling, "for I must be back here by daylight."
"O no! come on. It won't take you long, and I tell you, it's fun!"
So away they ran, merrily vaulting over the hickory-nuts, or acorns, that happened to be in their way, in mere playfulness, as if they were nothing. They soon came to a large, open space, so brightly lighted by the moon, that every object was as visible as if it were daylight. Scattered over the smooth green were thousands of fairies of Ting-a-ling's nation, the most of whom were standing gazing intently at a very wonderful sight.
Seated on a stone, under a great tree that stood all alone in the centre of this plain, was a woman without any head. She moved her hands rapidly about over her shoulders, as if in search of the missing portion of herself, and, encountering nothing but mere air, she got very angry, and stamped her feet, and shrugged her shoulders, which amused the fairies very much, and they all set up a great laugh, and seemed to be enjoying the fun amazingly. On one side, down by a little brook, was a busy crowd of fairies, who appeared to be washing something therein. Scattered all around were portions of the Tower of Tears, much of which had fallen hereabouts.
Ting-a-ling and his friend had not gazed long upon this scene before the sound of music was heard, and in a few moments there appeared from out the woods a gorgeous procession. First came a large band of music, ringing blue-bells and blowing honeysuckles. Then came an array of courtiers, magnificently dressed; and, after them, the Queen of the fairies, riding in a beautiful water-lily, drawn by six royal purple butterflies, and surrounded by a brilliant body of lords and ladies.
This procession halted at a short distance in front of the lady-minus-a-head, and formed itself into a semicircle, with the Queen in the centre. Then the crowd at the brook were seen approaching, and on the shoulders of the multitude was borne a head. They hurried as fast as their heavy load would permit, until they came to the tree under which sat the headless Nerralina, who, bed and all, had fallen here, when the Giant tore down the tower. Then quickly attaching a long rope (that they had put over a branch directly above the lady) to the hair of the head, they all took hold of the other end, and, pulling with a will, soon hoisted the head up until it hung at some distance above the neck to which it had previously belonged. Now they began to lower it slowly, and the Queen stood up with her wand raised ready to utter the magic word which should unite the parts when they touched. A deep silence spread over the plain, and even the lady seemed conscious that something was about to happen, for she stood up and remained perfectly still.
There was but one person there who did not feel pleasure at the approaching event, and that was a dwarf about a foot high, very ugly and wicked, who, by some means or other, had got into this goodly company, and who was now seated in a crotch of the tree, very close to the rope by which the crowd was lowering the lady's head. No one perceived him, for he was very much the color of the tree, and there he sat alone, quivering with spite and malice.
At the moment the head touched the ivory neck, the Queen, uttering the magic word, dropped the end of the wand, and immediately the head adhered as firmly as of old.
But a wild shout of horror rang through all the plain! For, at the critical moment, the dwarf had reached out his hand, and twisted the rope, so that when the head was joined, it was wrong side foremost—face back!
Just then the little villain stuck his head out from behind the branch, and, giving a loud and mocking laugh of triumph, dropped from the tree. With a yell of anger the whole crowd, Queen, courtiers, common people, and all, set off in a mad chase after the dwarf, who fled like a stag before the hounds.
All were gone but little Ting-a-ling, and when he saw the dreadful distress of poor Nerralina, who jumped up, and twisted around, and ran backward both ways, screaming for help, he stopped not a minute, but ran to where he had left the Giant, and told him, as fast as his breathing would allow, the sad story.
Rubbing his eyes, Tur-il-i-ra perceived that it was nearly day, and concluded to commence operations. He placed Ting-a-ling on his shirt-frill, where he could see what was going on, and, taking about eleven strides, he came to where poor Nerralina was jumping about, and, picking her up, put her carefully into his coat-tail pocket. Then, with the cheese in his hand, he walked slowly toward the palace.
When he arrived there, he found the people running about, and crowding around the ruins of the Tower of Tears. He passed on, however, to the great Audience Chamber, and, looking in, saw the King sitting upon his throne behind a velvet-covered table, holding an early morning council, and receiving the reports of his officers concerning the damage. As this Hall, and the doors thereof, were of great size, the Giant walked in, stooping a little as he entered.
He marched right up to the King, and held the cheese down before him.
"Here, your Majesty, is your daughter, and the young Prince, her lover. Does your Majesty recognize them?"
"Well, I declare!" cried the King. "If that isn't my great cheese, that I had put in the vault-flue to harden! And my daughter and that young man in it! What does this mean? What have you been doing, Giant?"
Then Tur-il-i-ra related the substance of the whole affair in a very brief manner, and concluded by saying that he hoped to see them made man and wife, as he considered them under his protection, and intended to see them safely through this affair. And he held them up so that all the people who thronged into the Hall could see.
The people all laughed, but the King cried "Silence!" and said to the Giant, "If the young man is of as good blood as my daughter, I have no desire to separate them. In fact, I don't think I am separating them. I think it's the cheese!"
"Come! come!" said the Giant, turning very red in the face, "none of your trifling, or I'll knock your house down over your eyes!"
And, putting the cheese down close to the table, he broke it in half, letting the lovers drop out on the velvet covering, when they immediately rushed into each other's arms, and remained thus clasped for a length of time.
They then slowly relinquished their hold upon each other, and were exchanging looks of supreme tenderness, when the Prince, happening to glance at his feet, sprang back so that he almost fell off the long table, and shouted,—
"Blood! Fire! Thunder! Where's my boots? Boots! Slaves! Hounds! Get me my boots! boots!! boots!!!"
"O! he's a Prince!" cried the King, jumping up. "I want no further proof. He's a Prince. Give him boots. And blow, horners, blow! Beat your drums, drummers! Join hands all! Clear the floor for a dance!"
And in a trice the floor was cleared, and about five thousand couples stood ready for the first note from the band.
"Hold up!" cried the Giant. "Hold up! here is one I forgot," and he commenced feeling in his pockets. "I know I have got her somewhere. O yes, here she is!" and taking the Lady Nerralina from his coat-tail pocket, he put her carefully upon the table.
Every face in the room was in an instant the picture of horror,—all but that of the little girl whose duty it was to fasten Nerralina's dress every morning,—who got behind the door, and jumping up, and clapping her hands and heels, exclaimed, "Good! good! Now she can see to fasten her own frock behind!"
The Prince was the first to move, and, with tears in his eyes, he approached the luckless lady, who was sobbing piteously.
"Poor thing!" said he, and, putting his arm around her, he kissed her. What joy thrilled through Nerralina! She had never been kissed by a man before, and it did for her what such things have done for many a young lady since—it turned her head!
"Blow, horners, blow!" shouted the King. "Join hands all!"
Seizing Nerralina's hand, and followed by the Prince and Princess, who sprang from the table, he led off the five thousand couples in a grand gallopade.
The Giant stood, and laughed heartily, until, at last, being no longer able to restrain himself, he sprang into the midst of them, and danced away royally, trampling about twenty couples under foot at every jump.
"Dance away, old fellow!" shouted the King, from the other end of the room. "Dance away, my boy, and never mind the people."
And the music blew louder, and round they all went faster and faster, until the building shook and trembled from the cellar to the roof.
At length, perfectly exhausted, they all stopped, and Ting-a-ling, slipping down from the Giant's frill, went out of the door.
"O!" said he, wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes, "it was all so funny, and every body was so happy—that—that I almost forgot my bereavement."
Ting-a-ling, for some weeks after the death of his young companion, Ling-a-ting, seemed quite sad and dejected. He spent nearly all his time lying in a half-opened rose-bud, and thinking of the dear little creature who was gone. But one morning, the bud having become a full-blown rose, its petals fell apart, and dropped little Ting-a-ling out on the grass. The sudden fall did not hurt him, but it roused him to exertion, and he said, "O ho! This will never do. I will go up to the palace, and see if there is anything going on." So off he went to the great palace; and sure enough something was going on. He had scarcely reached the court-yard, when the bells began to ring, the horns to blow, the drums to beat, and crowds of people to shout and run in every direction, and there was never such a noise and hubbub before.
Ting-a-ling slipped along close to the wall, so that he would not be stepped on by anybody; and having reached the palace, he climbed up a long trailing vine, into one of the lower windows. There he saw the vast audience-chamber filled with people, shouting, and calling, and talking, all at once. The grand vizier was on the wide platform of the throne, making a speech, but the uproar was so great that not one word of it could Ting-a-ling hear. The King himself was by his throne, putting on the bulky boots, which he only wore when he went to battle, and which made him look so terrible that a person could hardly see him without trembling. The last time that he had worn those boots, as Ting-a-ling very well knew, he had made war on a neighboring country, and had defeated all the armies, killed all the people, torn down all the towns and cities, and every house and cottage, and ploughed up the whole country, and sowed it with thistles, so that it could never be used as a country any more. So Ting-a-ling thought that as the King was putting on his war boots, something very great was surely about to happen. Hearing a fizzing noise behind him, he turned around, and there was the Prince in the court-yard, grinding his sword on a grindstone, which was turned by two slaves, who were working away so hard and fast that they were nearly ready to drop. Then he knew that wonderful things were surely coming to pass, for in ordinary times the Prince never lifted his finger to do anything for himself.
Just then, a little page, who had been sent for the King's spurs, and couldn't find them, and who was therefore afraid to go back, stopped to rest himself for a minute against the window where Ting-a-ling was standing. As his head just reached a little above the window-seat, Ting-a-ling went close to his ear and shouted to him, to please tell him what was the matter. The page started at first, but, seeing it was only a little fairy, he told him that the Princess was lost, and that the whole army was going out to find her. Before he could say anything more, the King was heard to roar for his spurs, and away ran the little page, whether to look again for the spurs, or to hide himself, is not known at the present day. Ting-a-ling now became very much excited. The Princess Aufalia, who had been married to the Prince but a month ago, was very dear to him, and he felt that he must do something for her. But while he was thinking what this something might possibly be, he heard the clear and distinct sound of a tiny bell, which, however, no one but a fairy could possibly have heard above all that noise. He knew it was the bell of the fairy Queen, summoning her subjects to her presence; and in a moment he slid down the vine, and scampered away to the gardens. There, although the sun was shining brightly, and the fairies seldom assembled but by night, there were great crowds of them, all listening to the Queen, and keeping much better order than the people in the King's palace. The Queen addressed them in soul-stirring strains, and urged every one to do their best to find the missing Princess. In the night she had been taken away, while the Prince and everybody were asleep. "And now," said the Queen, untying her scarf, and holding it up, "away with you, every one! Search every house, garden, mountain, and plain, in the land, and the first one who comes to me with news of the Princess Aufalia, shall wear my scarf!" And, as this was a mark of high distinction, and conveyed privileges of which there is no time now to tell, the fairies gave a great cheer (which would have sounded to you, had you heard it, like a puff of wind through a thicket of reeds), and they all rushed away in every direction. Now, though the fairies of this tribe could go almost anywhere, through small cracks and key-holes, under doors, and into places where no one else could possibly penetrate, they did not fly, or float in the air, or anything of that sort. When they wished to travel fast or far, they would mount on butterflies and all sorts of insects; but they seldom needed such assistance, as they were not in the habit of going far from their homes in the palace gardens. Ting-a-ling ran, as fast as he could, to where a friend of his, whom we have mentioned before kept grasshoppers and butterflies to hire; but he found he was too late,—every one of them was taken by the fairies who had got there before him. "Never mind," said Ting-a-ling to himself, "I'll catch a wild one;" and, borrowing a bridle, he went out into the meadows, to catch a grasshopper for himself. He soon perceived one, quietly feeding under a clover-blossom. Ting-a-ling slipped up softly behind him; but the grasshopper heard him, and rolled his big eyes backward, drawing in his hind-legs in the way which all boys know so well. "What's the good of his seeing all around him?" thought Ting-a-ling; but there is no doubt that the grasshopper thought there was a great deal of good in it, for, just as Ting-a-ling made a rush at him, he let fly with one of his hind-legs, and kicked our little friend so high into the air, that he thought he was never coming down again. He landed, however, harmlessly on the grass on the other side of a fence. Nothing discouraged, he jumped up, with his bridle still in his hand, and looked around for the grasshopper. There he was, with his eyes still rolled back, and his leg ready for another kick, should Ting-a-ling approach him again. But the little fellow had had enough of those strong legs, and so he slipped along the fence, and, getting through it, stole around in front of the grasshopper; and, while he was still looking backward with all his eyes, Ting-a-ling stepped quietly up before him, and slipped the bridle over his head! It was of no use for the grasshopper to struggle and pull back, for Ting-a-ling was astraddle of him in a moment, kicking him with his heels, and shouting "Hi! Hi!"
Away sprang the grasshopper like a bird, and he sped on and on, faster than he had ever gone before in his life, and Ting-a-ling waved his little sword over his head, and shouted "Hi! Hi!"
So on they went for a long time; and in the afternoon the grasshopper began to get very tired, and did not make anything like such long jumps as he had done at first. They were going down a grassy hill, and had just reached the bottom, when Ting-a-ling heard some one calling him. Looking around him in astonishment, he saw that it was a little fairy of his acquaintance, younger than himself, named Parsley, who was sitting in the shade of a wide-spreading dandelion.
"Hello, Parsley!" cried Ting-a-ling, reining up. "What are you doing there?"
"Why you see, Ting-a-ling," said the other, "I came out to look for the Princess."—
"You!" cried Ting-a-ling; "a little fellow like you!"
"Yes, I!" said Parsley; "and Sourgrass and I rode the same butterfly; but by the time we had come this far, we got too heavy, and Sourgrass made me get off."
"And what are you going to do now?" said Ting-a-ling.
"O, I'm all right!" replied Parsley. "I shall have a butterfly of my own soon."
"How's that?" asked Ting-a-ling, quite curious to know.
"Come here!" said Parsley; and so Ting-a-ling got off his grasshopper, and led it up close to his friend. "See what I've found!" said Parsley, showing a cocoon that lay beside him. "I'm going to wait till this butterfly's hatched, and I shall have him the minute he comes out."
The idea of waiting for the butterfly to be hatched, seemed so funny to Ting-a-ling, that he burst out laughing, and Parsley laughed too, and so did the grasshopper, for he took this opportunity to slip his head out of the bridle, and away he went!
Ting-a-ling turned and gazed in amazement at the grasshopper skipping up the hill; and Parsley, when he had done laughing, advised him to hunt around for another cocoon, and follow his example.
Ting-a-ling did not reply to this advice, but throwing his bridle to Parsley, said, "There, you would better take that. You may want it when your butterfly's hatched. I shall push on."
"What! walk?" cried Parsley.
"Yes, walk," said Ting-a-ling. "Good-by."
So Ting-a-ling travelled on by himself for the rest of the day, and it was nearly evening when he came to a wide brook with beautiful green banks, and overhanging trees. Here he sat down to rest himself; and while he was wondering if it would be a good thing for him to try to get across, he amused himself by watching the sports and antics of various insects and fishes that were enjoying themselves that fine summer evening. Plenty of butterflies and dragon-flies were there, but Ting-a-ling knew that he could never catch one of them, for they were nearly all the time over the surface of the water; and many a big fish was watching them from below, hoping that in their giddy flights, some of them would come near enough to be snapped down for supper. There were spiders, who shot over the surface of the brook as if they had been skating; and all sorts of beautiful bugs and flies were there,—green, yellow, emerald, gold, and black. At a short distance, Ting-a-ling saw a crowd of little minnows, who had caught a young tadpole, and, having tied a bluebell to his tail, were now chasing the affrighted creature about. But after a while the tadpole's mother came out, and then the minnows caught it!
While watching all these lively creatures, Ting-a-ling fell asleep, and when he awoke, it was dark night. He jumped up, and looked about him. The butterflies and dragon-flies had all gone to bed, and now the great night-bugs and buzzing beetles were out; the katydids were chirping in the trees, and the frogs were croaking among the long reeds. Not far off, on the same side of the brook, Ting-a-ling saw the light of a fire, and so he walked over to see what it meant. On his way, he came across some wild honeysuckles, and, pulling one of the blossoms, he sucked out the sweet juice for his supper, as he walked along. When he reached the fire, he saw sitting around it five men, with turbans and great black beards. Ting-a-ling instantly perceived that they were magicians, and, putting the honeysuckle to his lips, he blew a little tune upon it, which the magicians hearing, they said to one another, "There is a fairy near us." Then Ting-a-ling came into the midst of them, and, climbing up on a pile of cloaks and shawls, conversed with them; and he soon heard that they knew, by means of their magical arts, that the Princess had been stolen the night before, by the slaves of a wicked dwarf, and that she was now locked up in his castle, which was on top of a high mountain, not far from where they then were.
"I shall go there right off," said Ting-a-ling.
"And what will you do when you get there?" said the youngest magician, whose name was Zamcar. "This dwarf is a terrible little fellow, and the same one who twisted poor Nerralina's head, which circumstance of course you remember. He has numbers of fierce slaves, and a great castle. You are a good little fellow, but I don't think you could do much for the Princess, if you did go to her."
Ting-a-ling reflected a moment, and then said that he would go to his friend, the Giant Tur-il-i-ra; but Zamcar told him that that tremendous individual had gone to the uttermost limits of China, to launch a ship. It was such a big one, and so heavy, that it had sunk down into the earth as tight as if it had grown there, and all the men and horses in the country could not move it. So there was nothing to do but to send for Tur-il-i-ra. When Ting-a-ling heard this, he was disheartened, and hung his little head. "The best thing to do," remarked Alcahazar, the oldest of the magicians, "would be to inform the King and his army of the place where the Princess is confined, and let them go and take her out."
"O no!" cried Ting-a-ling, who, if his body was no larger than a very small pea-pod, had a soul as big as a water-melon. "If the King knows it, up he will come with all his drums and horns, and the dwarf will hear him a mile off and either kill the Princess, or hide her away. If we were all to go to the castle, I should think we could do something ourselves." This was the longest speech that Ting-a-ling had ever made; and when he was through, the youngest magician said to the others that he thought it was growing cooler, and the others agreed that it was. After some conversation among themselves in an exceedingly foreign tongue, these kind magicians agreed to go up to the castle, and see what they could do. So Zamcar put Ting-a-ling in the folds of his turban, and the whole party started off for the dwarf's castle. They looked like a company of travelling merchants, each one having a package on his back and a great staff in his hand. When they reached the outer gate of the castle, Alcahazar, the oldest, knocked at it with his stick, and it was opened at once by a shiny black slave, who, coming out, shut it behind him, and inquired what the travellers wanted.
"Is your master within?" asked Alcahazar.
"I don't know," said the slave.
"Can't you find out?" asked the magician.
"Well, good merchant, perhaps I might; but I don't particularly want to know," said the slave, as he leaned back against the gate, leisurely striking with his long sword at the night-bugs and beetles that were buzzing about.
"My friend," said Alcahazar, "don't you think that is rather a careless way of using a sword? You might cut somebody."
"That's true," said the slave. "I didn't think of it before;" but he kept on striking away, all the same.
"Then stop it!" said Alcahazar, the oldest magician, striking the sword from his hand with one blow of his staff. Upon this, up stepped Ormanduz, the next oldest, and whacked the slave over his head; and then Mahallah, the next oldest, struck him over the shoulders; and Akbeck, the next oldest, cracked him on the shins; and Zamcar, the youngest, punched him in the stomach; and the slave sat down, and begged the noble merchants to please stop. So they stopped, and he humbly informed them that his master was in.
"We would see him," said Alcahazar.
"But, sirs," said the slave, "he is having a grand feast."
"Well," said the magician, "we're invited."
"O noble merchants!" cried the slave, "why did you not tell me that before?" and he opened wide the gate, and let them in. After they had passed the outer gate, which was of wood, they went through another of iron, and another of brass, and another of copper, and then walked through the court-yard, filled with armed slaves, and up the great castle steps; at the top of which stood the butler, dressed in gorgeous array.
"Whom have you here, base slave?" cried the gorgeous butler.
"Five noble merchants, invited to my lord's feast," said the slave, bowing to the ground.
"But they cannot enter the banqueting hall in such garbs," said the butler. "They cannot be noble merchants, if they come not nobly dressed to my lord's feast."
"O sir!" said Alcahazar, "may your delicate and far-reaching understanding be written in books, and taught to youth in foreign lands, and may your profound judgment ever overawe your country! But allow us now to tell you that we have gorgeous dresses in these our packs. Would we soil them with the dust of travel, ere we entered the halls of my lord the dwarf?"
The butler bowed low at this address, and caused the five magicians to be conducted to five magnificent chambers, where were slaves, and lights, and baths, and soap, and towels, and wash-rags, and tooth-brushes; and each magician took a gorgeous dress from his pack, and put it on, and then they were all conducted (with Ting-a-ling still in Zamcar's turban) to the grand hall, where the feast was being held. Here they found the dwarf and his guests, numbering a hundred, having a truly jolly time. The dwarf, who was dressed in white (to make him look larger), was seated on a high red velvet cushion at the end of the hall, and the company sat cross-legged on rugs, in a great circle before him. He was drinking out of a huge bottle nearly as big as himself, and eating little birds; and judging by the bones that were left, he must have eaten nearly a whole flock of them. When he saw the five magicians entering, he stopped eating, and opened his eyes in amazement, and then shouted to his servants to tell him who these people were, who came without permission to his feast; but as no one knew, nobody answered. The guests, seeing the stately demeanor and magnificent dresses of the visitors, thought that they were at least five great monarchs.
"My lord the dwarf," said Alcahazar, advancing toward him, "I am the king of a far country; and passing your castle, and hearing of your feast, I have made bold to come and offer you some of the sweet-tasting birds of my kingdom." So saying, he lifted up his richly embroidered cloak, and took from under it a great silver dish containing about two hundred dozen hot, smoking, delicately cooked, fat little birds. Under the dish were fastened lamps of perfumed oil, all lighted, and keeping the savory food nice and hot. Making a low bow, the magician placed the dish before the dwarf, who tasted one of the birds, and immediately clapped his hands with joy. "Great King!" he cried, "welcome to my feast! Slaves, quick! make room for the great king!" As there was no vacant place, the slaves took hold of one of the guests, and gave him what the boys would call a "hist," right through the window, and Alcahazar took his place. Then stepped forward Ormanduz, and said, "My lord the dwarf, I am also the king of a far country, and I have made bold to offer you some of the wine of my kingdom." So saying, he lifted his gold-lined cloak, and took from beneath it a crystal decanter, covered with gold and ruby ornaments, with one hundred and one beautifully carved silver goblets hanging from its neck, and which contained about eleven gallons of the most delicious wine. He placed it before the dwarf, who, having tasted the wine, gave a great cheer, and shouted to his slaves to make room for this mighty king. So the slaves took another guest by the neck and heels, and sent him, slam-bang, through the window, and Ormanduz took his place. Then stepped forward Mahallah, and said, "My lord the dwarf, I am also the king of a far country, and I bring you a sample of the venison of my kingdom." So saying, he raised his velvet cloak, trimmed with diamonds, and took from under it a whole deer, already cooked, and stuffed with oysters, anchovies, buttered toast, olives, tamarind seeds, sweet-marjoram, sage, and many other herbs and spices, and all piping hot, and smelling deliciously. This he put down before the dwarf, who, when he had tasted it, waved his goblet over his head, and cried out to the slaves to make room for this mighty king. So the slaves seized another guest, and out of the window, like a shot, he went, and Mahallah took his place. Then Akbeck stepped up, and said, "My lord the dwarf, I am also the king of a far country, and I bring you some of the confections of my dominions." So saying, he took from under his cloak of gold cloth, a great basket of silver filagree work, in which were cream-chocolates, and burnt almonds, and sponge-cake, and lady's fingers, and mixtures, and gingernuts, and hoar-hound candy, and gum-drops, and fruit-cake, and cream candy, and mintstick, and pound-cake, and rock candy, and butter taffy, and many other confections, amounting in all to about two hundred and twenty pounds. He placed the basket before the dwarf, who tasted some of these good things, and found them so delicious, that he lay on his back and kicked up his heels in delight, shouting to his slaves to make room for this great king. As the next guest was a big, fat man, too heavy to throw far, he was seized by four slaves, who walked him Spanish right out of the door, and Akbeck took his place. Then Zamcar stepped forward and said, "My lord the dwarf, I also am king of a far country, and I bring you some of the fruit of my dominions." And so saying, he took from beneath his gold and purple cloak, a great basket filled with currants as big as grapes, and grapes as big as plums, and plums as big as peaches, and peaches as big as cantaloupes, and cantaloupes as big as water-melons, and water-melons as big as barrels. There were about nineteen bushels of them altogether, and he put them before the dwarf, who, having tasted some of them, clapped his hands, and shouted to his slaves to make room for this mighty king; but as the next guest had very sensibly got up and gone out, Zamcar took his seat without any delay. Then Ting-a-ling, who was very much excited by all these wonderful performances, slipped down out of Zamcar's turban, and, running up towards the dwarf, cried out, "My lord the dwarf, I am also the king of a far country, and I bring you"—and he lifted up his little cloak; but as there was nothing there, he said no more, but clambered up into Zamcar's turban again. As nobody noticed or heard him, so great was the bustle and noise of the festivity, his speech made no difference one way or the other. After everybody had eaten and drunk until they could eat and drink no more, the dwarf jumped up and called to the chief butler, to know how many beds were prepared for the guests; to which the butler answered that there were thirty beds prepared. "Then," said the dwarf, "give these five noble kings each one of the best rooms, with a down bed, and a silken comfortable; and give the other beds to the twenty-five biggest guests. As to the rest, turn them out!" So the dwarf went to bed, and each of the magicians had a splendid room, and twenty-five of the biggest guests had beds, and the rest were all turned out. As it was pouring down rain, and freezing, and cold, and wet, and slippery (for the weather was very unsettled on this mountain), and all these guests, who now found themselves outside of the castle gates, lived many miles away, and as none of them had any hats, or knew the way home, they were very miserable indeed.
Alcahazar did not go to bed, but sat in his room and reflected. He saw that the dwarf had given this feast on account of his joy at having captured the Princess, and thus caused grief to the King and Prince, and all the people; but it was also evident that he was very sly, and had not mentioned the matter to any of the company. The other magicians did not go to bed either, but sat in their rooms, and thought the same thing; and Ting-a-ling, in Zamcar's turban, was of exactly the same opinion. So, in about an hour, when all was still, the magicians got up, and went softly over the castle. One went down into the lower rooms, and there were all the slaves, fast asleep; and another into one wing of the castle, and there were half the guests, fast asleep; and another into the other wing, and there were the rest of the guests, fast asleep; and Alcahazar went into the dwarf's room, in the centre of the castle, and there was he, fast asleep, with one of his fists shut tight. The magician touched his fist with his magic staff, and it immediately opened, and there was a key! So Alcahazar took the key, and shut up the dwarf's hand again. Zamcar went up to the floor, near the top of the house, and entered a large room, which was empty, but the walls were hung with curtains made of snakes' skins, beautifully woven together. Ting-a-ling slipped down to the floor, and, peeping behind these curtains, saw the hinge of a door; and without saying a word, he got behind the curtain; and, sure enough, there was a door! and there was a key-hole! and in a minute, there was Ting-a-ling right through it! and there was the Princess in a chair in the middle of a great room, crying as if her heart would break! By the light of the moon, which had now broken through the clouds, Ting-a-ling saw that she was tied fast to the chair. So he climbed up on her shoulder, and called her by name; and when the Princess heard him and knew him, she took him into her lovely hands, and kissed him, and cried over him, and laughed over him so much, that her joy had like to have been the death of him. When she got over her excitement, she told him how she had been stolen away; how she had heard her favorite cat squeak in the middle of the night, and how she had got up quickly to go to it, supposing it had been squeezed in some door, and how the wicked dwarf, who had been imitating the cat, was just outside the door with his slaves; and how they had seized her, and bound her, and carried her off to this castle, without waking up any of the King's household. Then Ting-a-ling told her that his five friends were there, and that they were going to see what they could do; and the Princess was very glad to hear that, you may be sure. Then Ting-a-ling slipped down to the floor, and through the key-hole; and as he entered the room where he had left Zamcar, in came Alcahazar with the key and the other magicians with news that everybody was asleep. When Ting-a-ling had told about the Princess, Alcahazar pushed aside the curtains, unlocked the door with the key, and they all entered the next room.
There, sure enough, was the Princess Aufalia; but, right in front of her, on the floor, squatted the dwarf, who had missed his key, and had slipped up by a back way! The magicians started back on seeing him; the Princess was crying bitterly, and Ting-a-ling ran past the dwarf (who was laughing too horribly to notice him), and climbing upon the Princess's shoulder, sat there among her curls, and did his best to comfort her.
"Anyway," said he, "I shall not leave you again," and he drew his little sword, and felt as big as a house. The magicians now advanced towards the dwarf; but he, it seems, was a bit of a magician himself, for he waved a little wand, and instantly a strong partition of iron wire rose up out of the floor, and, reaching from one wall to the other, separated him completely from the five men. The magicians no sooner saw this, than they cried out, "O ho! Mr. Dwarf, is that your game?"
"Yes," said the little wretch, chuckling; "can you play at it?"
"A little," said they; and each one pulled from under his cloak a long file; and filing the partition from the wall on each side, which only needed a few strokes from their sharp files, they pulled it entirely down. But before the magicians could reach him, the dwarf again waved his wand, and a great chasm opened in the floor before them, which was too wide to jump over, and so deep that the bottom could not be seen.
"O ho!" cried the magicians; "another game, eh!"
"Yes indeed," cried the dwarf. "Just let me see you play at that."
Each of the magicians then took from under his magic cloak a long board, and, putting them over the chasm, they began to walk across them. But the dwarf jumped up and waved his wand, and water commenced to fall on the boards, where it immediately froze; and they were so slippery, that the magicians could hardly keep their feet, and could not make one step forward. Even standing still, they came very near falling off into the chasm below. "I suppose you can play at that," said the dwarf; and the magicians replied.
"O yes!" and each one took from under his cloak a pan of ashes, and sprinkled the boards, and walked right over. But before they reached the other edge, the dwarf pushed the chair, which was on rollers, up against the wall behind him, which opened; and instantly the Princess, Ting-a-ling, and the dwarf disappeared, and the wall closed up. Without saying a word, the magicians each drew from beneath his cloak a pickaxe, and they cut a hole in the wall in a few minutes. There was a large room on the other side, but it was entirely empty. So they sat down, and got out their magical calculators, and soon discovered that the Princess was in the lowest part of the castle; but the magical calculators being a little out of order, they could not show exactly her place of confinement. Then the five hurried down-stairs, where they found the slaves still asleep; but one poor little boy, whose business it was to get up early every morning and split kindling wood, having had none of the feast, was not very sleepy, and woke up when he heard footsteps near him. The magicians asked him if he could show them to the lowest part of the castle. "All right," said he; "this way;" and he led them to where there was a great black hole, with a windlass over it. "Get in the bucket," said he, "and I will lower you down."
"Bucket!" cried Alcahazar. "Is that a well?"
"To be sure it is," said the boy, who had nothing on but the baby-clothes he had worn ever since he was born; and which, as he was now about ten years old, had split a good deal in the back and arms, but in length they were very suitable.
"But there can be no one down there," said the magician. "I see deep water."
"Of course there is nobody there," replied the boy. "Were you told to go down there to meet anybody? Because, if you were, you had better take some tubs down with you, to sit in. But all I know about it is, that it's the lowest part of this old hole of a castle."
"Boy," said Alcahazar, "there is a young lady shut up down here somewhere. Do you know where she is?"
"How old is she?" asked the boy.
"About seventeen," said the magician.
"O then! if she is no older than that, I should think she'd be in the preserve-closet, if she knew where it was," and the boy pointed to a great door, barred and locked, where the dwarf, who had a very sweet tooth, kept all his preserves locked up tight and fast. Zamcar stooped and looked through the key-hole of this door, and there, sure enough, was the Princess! So the boy proved to be smarter than all the magicians. Each of our five friends now took from under his cloak a crowbar, and in a minute they had forced open the great door. But they had scarcely entered, when the dwarf, springing on the arm of the chair to which the Princess was still tied, drew his sword, and clapped it to her throat, crying out, that if the magicians came one step nearer, he would slice her head off.
"O ho!" cried they, "is that your game?"
"Yes indeed," said the chuckling dwarf; "can you play at it?"
The magicians did not appear to think that they could; but Ting-a-ling, who was still on the Princess's shoulder, though unseen by the dwarf, suddenly shouted, "I can play!" and in an instant he had driven his little sword into the dwarf's eye, who immediately sprang from the chair with a howl of anguish. While he was yelling and skipping about, with his hands to his eyes, the poor boy, who hated him worse than pills, clapped a great jar of preserves over him, and sat down on the bottom of the jar! The magicians then untied the Princess; and as she looked weak and faint, Zamcar, the youngest, took from under his cloak a little table, set with everything hot and nice for supper; and when the Princess had eaten something and taken a cup of tea, she felt a great deal better. Alcahazar lifted up the jar from the dwarf, and there was the little rascal, so covered up with sticky jam, that he could not speak and could hardly move. So, taking an oil-cloth bag from under his cloak, Alcahazar dropped the dwarf into it, and tied it up, and hung it to his girdle. The two youngest magicians made a sort of chair out of a shawl, and they carried the Princess on it between them, very comfortably; and as Ting-a-ling still remained on her shoulder, she began to feel that things were beginning to look brighter. They then asked the poor boy what he would like best as a reward for what he had done; and he said that if they would shut him up in that room, and lock the door tight, and lose the key, he would be happy all the days of his life. So they left the boy (who knew what was good, and was already sucking away at a jar of preserved green-gages) in the room, and they shut the door and locked it tight, and lost the key; and he lived there for ninety-one years, eating preserves; and when they were all gone, he died. All that time he never had any clothes but his baby-clothes, and they got pretty sticky before his death. Then our party left the castle; and as they passed the slaves still fast asleep, the three oldest magicians took from under their cloaks watering-pots, filled with water that makes men sleep, and they watered the slaves with it, until they were wet enough to sleep a week. When they went through the gates of copper, brass, iron, and wood, they left them all open behind them. They had not gone far before they saw seventy-five men, all sitting in a row at the side of the road, and looking woefully indeed. They had been wet to the skin, and were now frozen stiff, not one of them being able to move anything but his eyelids, and they were all crying as if their hearts would break. So the magicians stopped, and the three oldest each took from under his cloak a pair of bellows, and they blew hot air on the poor creatures until they were all thawed. Then Alcahazar told them to go up to the castle, and take it for their own, and live there all the rest of their lives. He informed them that the dwarf was his prisoner, and that the slaves would sleep for a week.
When the seventy-five guests (for those who had been taken from the feast, had joined their comrades) heard this, they all started up, and ran like deer for the castle; and when they reached it, they woke up their comrades, and took possession, and lived there all their lives. The man who had been first thrown through the window, and who had broken the way through the glass for the others, was elected their chief, because he had suffered the most; and excepting the trouble of doing their own work for a week, until the slaves awoke, these people were very happy ever afterwards.
It was just daylight when our party left the dwarf's castle, and by the next evening they had reached the palace. The army had not got back, and there was no one there but the ladies of the Princess. When these saw their dear mistress, there was never before such a kissing, and hugging, and crying, and laughing. Ting-a-ling came in for a good share of praise and caressing; and if he had not slipped away to tell his tale to the fairy Queen, there is no knowing what would have become of him. The magicians sat down outside of the Princess's apartments, to guard her until the army should return; and the ladies would have kissed and hugged them, in their gratitude and joy, if they had not been such dignified and grave personages.
Now, the King, the Prince, and the great army, had gone miles and miles away in the opposite direction to the dwarf's castle, and the Princess and her ladies could not think how to let them know what had happened. As for ringing the great bell, they knew that that would be useless, for they would never hear it at the distance they were, and so they wished that they had some fireworks to set off. Therefore Zamcar, the youngest magician, offered to go up to the top of the palace and set off some. So, when he got up to the roof, he lifted up his cloak, and took out some fireworks, and set them off; and the light shone for miles and miles, and the King and all his army saw it. The King had just begun to feel tired, and to think that he would pitch his tent, and rest for the night by the side of a pleasant stream they had reached, when he saw the light from the palace, and instantly knew that there had been tidings of the Princess,—kings are so smart, you know. So, when his slaves came to ask him where they should pitch his tent, he shouted, "Pitch it in the river! 'Tention, army! Right about face, for home,—march!" and away the whole army marched for home, the band playing the lively air of
so as to keep up the spirits of the tired men. When they approached the palace, which was all lighted up, there was the Princess standing at the great door, in her Sunday clothes, and looking as lovely as a full-blown rose. The King jumped from his high-mettled racer, and went up the steps, two at a time; but the Prince, springing from his fiery steed bounded up three steps at once, and got there first. When he and the King had got through hugging and kissing the Princess, her Sunday clothes looked as if they had been worn a week.
"Now then for supper," said the King, "and I hope it's ready." But the Princess said never a word, for she had forgotten all about supper; and all the ladies hung their heads, and were afraid to speak. But when they reached the great hall, they found that the magicians had been at work, and had cooked a grand supper. There it was, on ever so many long tables, all smoking hot, and smelling delightfully. So they all sat down, for there was room enough for every man, and nobody said a word until he was as tight as a drum.
When they had all had enough, and were just about to begin to talk, there were heard strains of the most delightful soft music; and directly, in at a window came the Queen of the fairies, attended by her court, all mounted on beautiful golden moths and dragon-flies. When they reached the velvet table in front of the throne, where the King had been eating, with his plate on his lap, they arranged themselves in a circle on the table, and the Queen spoke out in a clear little voice, that could have been heard almost anywhere, and announced to the King that the little Ting-a-ling, who now wore her royal scarf, was the preserver of his daughter.
"O ho!" said the King; "and what can I do for such a mite as you, my fine little fellow?"
Then Ting-a-ling, who wanted nothing for himself, and only thought of the good of his people, made a low bow to the King, and shouted at the top of his voice, "Your royal gardeners are going to make asparagus beds all over our fairy pleasure grounds. If you can prevent that, I have nothing more to ask."
"Blow, Horner, blow!" cried the King, "and hear, all men! If any man, woman, or child, from this time henceforward forever, shall dare to set foot in the garden now occupied by the fairies, he shall be put to death, he and all his family, and his relations, as far as they can be traced. Take notice of that, every one of you!"
Ting-a-ling then bowed his thanks, and all the people made up their minds to take very particular notice of what the King had said.
Then the magicians were ordered to come forward and name their reward; but they bowed their heads, and simply besought the King that he would grant them seven rye straws, the peeling from a red apple, and the heel from one of his old slippers. What in the name of common sense they wanted with these, no one but themselves knew; but magicians are such strange creatures! When these valuable gifts had been bestowed upon them, the five good magicians departed, leaving the dwarf for the King to do what he pleased with. This little wretch was shut up in an iron cage, and every day was obliged to eat three codfish, a bushel of Irish potatoes, and eleven pounds of bran crackers, and to drink a gallon of cambric tea; all of which things he despised from the bottom of his miserable little heart.
"Now," cried the King, "all is settled, and let everybody go to bed. There is room enough in the palace for all to sleep to-night. Form in line, and to bed,—march!" So they all formed in line, and began to march to bed, to the music of the band; and the fairies, their little horns blowing, and with Ting-a-ling at the post of honor by the Queen, took up their line of march, out of the window to the garden, which was to be, henceforward forever, their own. Just as they were all filing out, in flew little Parsley on the back of his butterfly, which had been hatched out at last.
"Hello!" cried he. "Is it all over?"
"Pretty nearly," said Ting-a-ling. "It's just letting out. How came you to be so late?"
"Easy enough," said poor little Parsley. "Of all the mean things that ever was the pokiest long time in unwrapping its wings, this butterfly's the meanest."
There was once an excessively mighty King, Barradin the Great, who died, leaving no sons or daughters, or any relation on the face of the earth, to inherit his crown. So his throne, at the time of which I write, was vacant. This mighty King had been of a very peculiar disposition. Unlike other potentates, he took no delight in going to war, or in cutting off people's heads, or in getting married, or building palaces. But he was a great musician. All that he cared for, seemed to be music; and the whole of his leisure time, with a great many of his business hours, was occupied in either composing or performing music of some kind. Everybody around him was obliged to be musical; and if one was not so, it would be of no use for him to apply for any situation. His Prime Minister played on the violin, his Secretary performed on the horn, while his Treasurer was superb upon the great drum. Every time the Royal Council met, the minutes of the last meeting, all set to music, were sung by the Secretary; and when the King made a speech, he always sung it in a magnificent bass voice, accompanied by a full orchestra. If any one wished to present a petition, he was always sure of having it granted, if he could but sing it excellently well, and even folks who were good at whistling were favorably received at court. The example of the King was followed by the people. They nearly always talked to some tune, and every one but the very poorest owned an instrument.
So this mighty monarch never went to war, or cut off people's heads, or married more than once; and as for building palaces, it was of no use, for he had as many as he wanted, already. The last ten years of his life were occupied, almost entirely, in the composition of a wonderful piece of music, in which he sought, by means of perseverance and magic, to combine all the beauties and difficulties of the science. He had scarcely finished it, when he died; and it was generally supposed that if he had not worked so hard at it, he would have lived much longer.
The composition was not long, for you could have sung it in ten minutes, that is, if you could have sung it at all; which is by no means likely, for had that been the case (and you had lived in those days) you might have ruled over the country. For, just before the mighty King died, he made a decree to this effect,—that his successor on the throne should be the man, woman, or child who could, at sight, sing that piece of music.
So the music was put up against a marble tablet in the great hall of the royal palace, and there were six judges appointed,—the most distinguished professors of music in the country,—and these sat on great velvet chairs, three on each side of the music, and anybody might come to try who chose.
You may well believe that the people came in crowds, for nearly every one wished to be king or queen, as the case might be. This music had a very singular effect upon most of those who did not succeed in singing it. They nearly all went crazy. The first few notes were easy, and they were so beautiful, that it was enough to make any one crazy to think that they could not sing the rest of it,—not to mention missing the crown. The Prime Minister had, on this account, a great asylum built, to which the disappointed candidates were immediately conveyed, and the house was very soon filled. Indeed, it was often necessary to build extensions to the main building, and it was not long before this was the largest edifice in the country. It is true, that although every one failed to sing the music, they did not all go crazy; but they were taken to the asylum the same as the rest, and if they were not crazy when they got there, they soon became so, and thus it amounted to pretty much the same thing in the end. Well, the judges sat in their chairs until they died at a good old age, and they were succeeded by others just as learned. Latterly there were not so many applications as there used to be, but still, every few days, some one went out to the asylum. Years passed, and the offices of the judges became sinecures; but they had to sit there all the same, just as if they expected to be busy; and they might have been seen, whenever anybody chose to step in during the day, sitting there with their chins on their breasts, fast asleep. The Prime Minister, and after him his son, ruled the country very well, and people began to feel as if they didn't care if they never had a king or a queen to govern them. As a rule, they all felt very comfortable without anything of the kind.
Now it so happened that about this time a certain young Prince, accompanied by an old gentleman (to take care of him), was travelling in this great kingdom. His father's dominion was very many miles away; but the Prince had been journeying in this direction for quite a long time, taking things easily, and seeing everything that was to be seen. His mother had died when he was quite young, and his father had lately married the daughter of a gnome, probably because their estates joined,—his stretching for many miles over the surface of the earth, while hers lay immediately beneath them. The Prince did not like his gnome step-mother (who was, you know, one of those large underground fairies, who are more like human beings than any others), and when a little gnome-baby was born, he could stand it no longer, and so obtained permission of his father to travel for the good of his body and mind. So he had been going from country to country until he reached the capital city of the great kingdom.
There the Prince saw enough to fill him with wonder for the rest of his life. His old friend, Trumkard, took him day by day into the bazaars, and the palaces, and the mosques, and hundreds of places just as nice. One beautiful evening the Prince set out for a walk by himself through the city. The gentle twilight still tinged the sky with gold, and the soft breeze from the river, that passed through fruit-gardens and vineyards on its way to the city, smelt of peaches, and grapes, and plums, and oranges, and pomegranates, and pineapples, and was truly very delicious. Everything was lovely, and the Prince felt good and happy. The very beggars, when he had passed them, blessed the happy stars that had caused them to be born during his life-time, so noble and generous was the Prince this evening. Strolling along, he came to the palace of the mighty King. The Prince knew the palace; for Trumkard had taken him into it, and had shown him the six judges sitting in their velvet chairs, and the magical music hanging up against the marble tablet between them. He knew all about the music, and the conditions attached to it, but, not being much of a musician, he had never felt inclined to try it. So he walked through the royal courts and vestibules, and into the great hall where stood the six chairs,—empty, and covered with silken covers to keep the dust off during the night. And the music was concealed by a great plate of gold which was locked over it every night. He met but few persons; for every one who was not detained by some particular duty, had gone out-of-doors that lovely night. Here and there, a porter, or a black eunuch, or a soldier or two, he met; but as every one who saw him, knew him instantly for a prince of good blood, he could, of course, wander where he pleased. He passed on among the golden columns and sculptured doorways, and under vaulted and arabesque ceilings, until he came to a door of mother-of-pearl, which had a golden lock, an alabaster knob, and a diamond key-hole. It turned easily on silver hinges, and the Prince passed by it into a beautiful garden. He had never been in such a place of loveliness. The trees were hung with many soft-colored lamps, and the fruit glittered and shone in gorgeous colors on the branches. Every night-bird sang, and every night-flower was giving forth its fragrance. In the middle of the garden was a fountain, the waters of which rose in a single jet from the centre, and then, as they fell back into the basin, each of their thousand drops struck upon a silver harp-string, causing the most delightful sounds to fill the air, and mingle with the songs of the birds and the perfume of the flowers. Around the great basin were silken cushions on which the Prince reclined, and the goldfish that were swimming in the basin came up to him to be fed. There also came the ruby fish, that shines as red as blood, and the zimphare, or transparent fish, which is as colorless as the water, and can only be discovered by a green knot on its head and another on its tail.
There were also many other fish, as the balance-fish, which comes up to the top of the water equally balanced, having at each end of its body expansions like the pans of scales. These are its mouths, and if one puts a crumb into one of them without having put one into the other, it turns right over, and sinks to the bottom. So, when this fish is properly fed, it always gets two crumbs at a time. Then there was the gelatine fish, that has no mouth at all, but is very soft and pulpy, and all that is necessary is to drop some crumbs upon his back, and they immediately soak in. Also the great flob was there, who came clattering and clanking up from the bottom of the basin, with his hard shells and heavy claws, as if he was the greatest fish alive. But for all that he opened his mouth so wide, and shut it upon a little crumb with a snap loud enough for a loaf of bread, his throat was so small that that little crumb nearly choked him. All these fishes the Prince fed from golden baskets filled with crumbs, and placed around the basin for the convenience of those who wished to amuse themselves by feeding the fish. When he was tired of this sport, he rose and entered the palace again by another door. He had not walked far along an alabaster corridor, before he saw a door open, and an old woman come out. She had in her hand a silver waiter, on which was the remains of a delicious little supper, the scent of which seemed so charming to the Prince that it made him feel as hungry as a bear in the springtime. The old woman, who was busy munching some of the pieces of cake, and sucking the bones of the little birds that were left, did not notice him; and, hoping to find some more good things where these came from, he slipped in at the door, before the old woman shut it, and entered a large and beautiful room, lighted by a single lamp that hung from the ceiling. At the upper end of this apartment, he was surprised to see a beautiful young Princess, who was sitting in an arm-chair, fast asleep, with a guitar on the floor at her feet. Around the room were placed musical instruments of all kinds; but there was no one there to play on them but the Princess, and she was fast asleep.
There was a breeze in the room, that seemed to come and go like the waves of the sea; and the Prince could not imagine what occasioned it, for all the doors and windows were closed. However, looking upwards, he saw, behind the Princess's chair, the reason of the wind and the lady's slumber. Standing behind her, with his feet on the floor and his head high up in the obscurity of the ceiling, was a great Nimshee, or evil spirit of the ocean, who was fanning her with his wings, and had put her to sleep with their slow and dreamy motion. With his great eyes glowing like meteors in the dimness of the upper part of the room, the Nimshee glared at the Prince, and waved his wings faster and stronger. But our young friend was not afraid of him—not a bit. He walked softly round the room once or twice, and then, returning to the Princess, spoke to her. She did not awake, and the Prince called her louder and louder, and at last, putting his hand on her shoulder, he shook her; but still she slept. He felt that he must awaken her, and seizing the guitar that lay at her feet, he held it close to her ear, and struck the strings loudly. The Princess opened her eyes with a start; and as she awoke, the Nimshee, beating his breast with his wings, gave a great roar like the waves beating in a storm against a rocky coast, and flew away. The Princess blushed a little when she first saw the Prince, but he was so polite that she soon recovered herself, and they conversed quite pleasantly.
She explained the meaning of the musical instruments in the room, by stating that she had a great passion for music, and the good people of the palace brought her a new instrument nearly every day; but she never sat down to play any of them but she went almost immediately to sleep. She could not imagine the reason for this; but the Prince knew very well that the Nimshee had put her to sleep to-day at any rate, and he had no doubt but that he was always at the bottom of it. He said nothing to her, however, of what he had seen, as he perceived that she did not know it, and he did not wish to frighten her.
She said she had taken her guitar that evening, as soon as she had finished her supper, but had fallen asleep as usual. She asked the Prince, "Do you play?" and he said, "Only a little;" and then they walked around the room, and looked at all the instruments, to see if there were any that the Prince could play on better than the rest. He wished her to perform, but she urged him, and he soon saw a hand-organ, and said he was pretty sure that he could play on that. So he tried, and, sure enough, he could play very well, and the Princess sat down on the floor by him, and he played for almost an hour and three quarters, and they were both very much pleased. Then the Prince's arm got tired, and he stopped and asked the Princess to tell him her history. She said she was a little ashamed to tell him her story, because he might think that she was not of as good descent as himself; but the Prince insisting, she told him that her mother was a water-woman.
"A mermaid, I suppose?" said the Prince.
"O no!" she cried, "none of those low things with fish-tails, but a real princess of the ocean. She lived in a splendid palace at the bottom of the sea, and fell in love with a prince of the earth, who left his father's kingdom, and went down there and married her.
"I remember my father very well," continued the beautiful Princess. "He was a fine, handsome man, but our climate never seemed to agree with him. He could not smoke under the water, and he often used to have aches which helped to make him unhappy. Before he died, he said that he would give all the treasures of the ocean for a pipe and a piece of dry flannel. When he left her, mother pined away, and soon died too, when I was only about twelve years old. I was very lonely, but, as I was the daughter of a water-princess and a land-prince, I could go where I pleased, either on shore or in the water."
"Amphibious like?" said the Prince.
"I don't know anything about that," she replied; "but I used to like to walk about on the sea-shore, for everything was so different from what I had been accustomed to,—birds, you know, and all that sort of thing."
"O yes," said the Prince, "it must have been very different to you indeed; but I was going to say to you, a little while ago, that you need not think me above you, for I am half-brother to a gnome."
"O, I am glad to hear that," she said; "I was afraid you would make fun of me."
"As if I could!" said the Prince, reproachfully.
So she went on with her story.
"One day, about a year ago, when I was quite grown up, I met some ladies who lived here at the palace, and they wanted me to come home with them, and I did; and I have lived here ever since, and like it very much. They are all very kind, and if I didn't sleep so much, I should be very happy."
The Prince now proposed to the Princess, and she accepted him, and then she sat down to a harp to give him a little music. The Prince's presence, in some way (perhaps because he was half-brother to a gnome), prevented the appearance of the Nimshee; and for the first time since she had been in the palace, she played without hindrance, and her music was perfectly charming; and with tears of joy in his eyes, the Prince sat wishing she would play forever. After a while, however, she got tired and stopped; and when they turned around, they saw the room was filled by the people of the palace, who had come to hear this delicious music. They were nearly all wiping their eyes with their handkerchiefs,—they were so much affected—and they could not find words good enough with which to praise the playing of the Princess. Such music they had never heard before.
Directly she declared that she was going to bed; but she desired the Grand Chamberlain to take that young Prince and give him a handsome room until morning, when she would like to see him again, and make arrangements for their wedding.
So she went away with her ladies, and the Chamberlain took the Prince out into the alabaster hall again.
"Prince indeed!" said the Chamberlain to himself; "O yes! I'll take care of him, certainly. A good room,—O yes, indeed!" and, taking the Prince by the arm, he hurried him along, until he came to the aviary, where all sorts of wonderful and costly birds were kept, and he pushed him in there, and locked him up. The Prince was so taken by surprise at this hasty treatment, that he had no time to get angry, or he would certainly have drawn his sword, and made short work of the Grand Chamberlain. As it was, he passed the night in the aviary as well as he could; but as he had no place to lie but the floor, and as the ostriches walked about a good deal, he was very much afraid they might tread upon him, and this made him feel uneasy all night. The great owls, too, made it very unpleasant for him, by forming a circle around him, and steadfastly gazing at him with their great eyes, which looked like enormous cat-eyes, stuck into the darkness. As to the night-hawks and the other birds which fly in the dark, they swooped around and over him the whole livelong night; and when he began to get a little sleep, about daybreak, every bird in the place began to sing, or twitter, or scream, or crow, or gobble, or chatter, and the Prince might as well have tried to fly as sleep. About eight o'clock, a man came to feed the birds, and seeing the Prince in the aviary, he put him out instantly. The Prince was very angry, and tried to find out what this all meant; but the man told him he had better not let him catch him in there again, and slammed the door in his face. As the Prince wandered about the palace, he met a number of people, all of whom he asked to conduct him to the Princess. Some laughed at him, and others told him that he had better be careful how he talked about the beautiful Princess, but no one conducted him to her.
At last a man who seemed to have some authority, came up to the Prince, and, having heard his story, requested him to follow him. He led the way to a small door, and, motioning to the Prince to pass through it, shut and fastened it after him. The Prince found himself out in the street.
Enraged and hungry, he hurried back to his lodgings, where he had left Trumkard. On the way, he heard a great many people talking of the beautiful music that, it was reported, the Princess had played at the palace the evening previous. In fact, this matter seemed to be the town talk; but the Prince did not stay to listen to much of it, for he was extremely anxious to get something to eat, and to relate his troubles.
Trumkard did not encourage him much, and proposed that they should continue their journey; but the Prince would not listen to such advice, and as soon as he had finished his breakfast, he went back to the palace in order to try and see his Princess. But all the doors were fastened, and it was evident that there was no admission for the public that day. A great crowd stood around the gates, and they were very much excited about something.
The Prince learned from their discourse that it was thought that the Princess who played so splendidly, could certainly sing as well, and there was a suspicion that the Prime Minister, who had governed the people so long, was afraid of her powers, and had sent her away. Indeed, a certain Habbed-il-Gabbed, who kept a goat's-cheese shop, and who had a cousin who was one of the royal-black-eunuch-guards, had heard from him that the Princess had certainly disappeared, and that the public suspicions were very likely to be correct.
At this news the Prince smote his breast, and became very sad; and all that day and night, and the next day until sundown, he hung around the palace, hoping to get in. Trumkard was with him a great part of the time, and brought him cakes and things to keep him from starving. In the early evening of the second day, the Prince, while walking round the palace, saw a boy come out of a back-alley gate, to empty some ashes. Rushing at him, he seized him, and demanded of him news of the Princess. The boy, however, was deaf and dumb, and could not answer him; and the Prince perceiving this, and being very expert in making signs, asked him in that way what had become of his lady-love. The boy then replied by a sign representing a heavy door, with four locks, a big bar, and a chain; and a black eunuch with a drawn sword, asleep before it.
Then the Prince tore his hair, and groaned, and went home to Trumkard. But he could not sleep; and when the moon arose, he got up and wandered far away beyond the walls of the city, until he came to the borders of the sea. There he saw, roaming about upon the sands, numbers of water-women, who every now and then blew upon conch-shells, looking about them in every direction, as if they expected some one to answer them. When the Prince perceived them, he slipped softly from rock to rock, keeping himself well concealed, until he came near one of them, when he made a sudden rush and caught her, while all the others, with loud cries, dashed into the sea. The one he had captured, struggled and cried piteously; but, in as few words as possible, he entreated her to be quiet, and to understand that if she was looking for a Princess, he could tell her where she was, or at least where she had been. The water-woman then became quiet, and the Prince told her all he knew, and how anxious he was to find the beautiful Princess. The good woman of the sea then told him that she and her companions had come up on the shore every night for a year, hoping that the Princess would stray that way, and be induced by them to return to her ocean home. Then she told him who the Princess really was, and thus her story ran.
When the late mighty King, Barradin, was quite young, he married a daughter of the ocean, at which his father, much incensed, drove him from the court. He retired far from men, and a little son was born to him. In a few years his wife died, and he was left alone with his son. When this boy grew up, he also married a water-woman, and, having so much of their blood in his veins, he went down to live with his wife's relations, leaving his father to do as well as he could by himself, until he ascended the throne. When Barradin became king, he did not marry a queen, or cut off people's heads, or go to war, or build palaces; but he took his chief delight in music, and encouraged the love of it among his people. So it was in the hope that one of his descendants might some day sit upon the throne, that he composed the magical music; for he knew that no one but a descendant of the ocean-folk could sing that music, and none but those of his blood could read it, for there was magic in his family.
When the music was finished, the King died. His mother was a sorceress, and a very wicked old woman, who, when her son was dead, gave it out that she herself was dying; for she had now lived so long that people had begun to suspect something, and to think that she had too much to do with magic. So she pretended to die, and was buried in the royal vault; and at night she came out and went far away from the city to a great cave in a lonely country where dwelt the demons and evil spirits who were her servants. She now spent her life in wickedness. She it was who put it into the heads of so many sensible people to contend for the crown, and it was with joy that she saw them carried out to the asylum. Many other evil thoughts she put into the hearts of the people, and she was forever imagining and doing mischief.
When this young Princess, her great-grandchild, was born, Mahbracca (that was the name of the old sorceress) was very much troubled, and used all available means to destroy the infant; but her efforts were vain, for the people of the ocean protected her from all enchantments.
As the Princess grew up, she loved to ramble on the white sands, and she was once perceived there by a party of ladies from the palace, who had persuaded her to come with them to their royal home, where she had now been for a year. She knew not who she was, nor did her friends at the palace; and her relations of the ocean had always hoped that some day she would return to them. Now the sorceress feared that some day she would happen to sing the magical music, and be made queen; and she hated the poor girl so much, that she would not have had this happen for all the world. Therefore it was, no doubt, that she had sent the Nimshee, in order to prevent the Princess from ever exercising the wonderful gift she had inherited.
This much the water-woman told the Prince, but as to what had now become of the Princess, she did not know; but there were others of her people who knew more than she did, and she would inquire of them. Taking the Prince by the hand, she led him out upon a headland that projected some distance out into the sea, and blew four times loudly upon her conch-shell. A great heaving and swelling of the waters was presently seen, and in a few moments an elderly personage emerged from the waves, and walked carefully up to the rock on which they stood. He was a curious-looking individual, and, as the water-woman informed the Prince, a powerful lord of the ocean.
He was wrapped in an old-fashioned cloak, made of the finest quality of sea-weed, and drawing this closely around him, he requested his fair cousin of the sea to be as quick as possible in her business with him, as it was not prudent for him to be in the air much at his age. So the water-woman briefly related to him what the Prince had told her.
When he heard this, the old sea-gentleman folded his arms and looked very grave. "Mahbracca is at the bottom of this," said he. "The Prime Minister would never have thought of imprisoning the Princess, if that wretched sorceress had not put it into his head. I have no doubt that she now has the Princess in her power, and very likely shut up in her retreat."
"What!" cried the Prince, "where is it? Where is her cave? I will go instantly and rescue my beloved Princess!" and he drew his sword of adamant and waved it over his head.
"Ah my friend!" said the old man of the water, "you could do little against the powerful Mahbracca and her minions. But you might go there to be sure, and find out if she really has possession of the Princess. But then you may lose your life."
"I care not!" cried the Prince. "Dead or alive, I will be with my Princess."
The two citizens of the ocean talked together a few moments, and then the old man asked him if he was really determined to undertake this perilous enterprise, and the Prince emphatically declared that he was.
"The distance by the sea is much the shortest; would you be willing to go in that way?" asked the old man.
"Certainly," said the Prince, "provided I have to go over, and not under the water."
The old gentleman made no reply to this, but putting his two forefingers in his mouth he whistled loudly.
In a few moments a sea-boy came up out of the water, and stood beside him. The old man made a few remarks to him in the ocean dialect, when the boy jumped off the rock and disappeared beneath the waves.
"Now, sir," said the sea-gentleman to the Prince, "you must cheer up and be lively, or you cannot hope to succeed in this matter. My boy will take you to the sea-side entrance of the cave of Mahbracca. There I hope you will have no difficulty in entering, but I can say nothing positive upon the subject."
At this moment the sea-boy reappeared, driving a pair of dolphins, which were harnessed to a large and commodious sea-shell, somewhat resembling in shape the boat of the nautilus.
When the equipage was drawn up at the foot of the rock, the Prince took leave of his friends, and quickly stepped in and took his seat.
"I wish you all success," said the elderly personage, and, reminding the boy to be sure to keep their heads up, he walked down into the sea.
The water-woman said nothing, but stood on the rock, gazing sadly after the Prince, as the dolphins drew him rapidly from the shore. The fishes made excellent time, and the motion of the great shell over the waves would have been exceedingly pleasant to the Prince, if his mind had not been filled with anxiety and impatience. He shifted his position so often, and rolled the vehicle about so much, that once or twice the sea-boy turned round and asked him if he did not wish to get out, to which the Prince did not reply, but only urged him to make greater speed. The journey lasted until the morning of the next day, and was marked by no greater occurrence than the annoyance caused by the wild dolphins occasionally coming up around them, endeavoring to play with their brothers in harness. But the boy, with his whip of shark's skin, and the Prince with his sword, soon drove them down again.
At last they dashed into shore, and the sea-boy, pulling up his steeds, jumped out, followed immediately by the Prince.
"Take the road in front of you," said the boy, "and you cannot miss your way."
The Prince then threw a piece of platinum to the boy, who tucked it in between two of his scales, and jumping into his shell, drove rapidly away.
The shore where the Prince now found himself was very peculiar. A high rocky wall, seemingly inaccessible, stood up solemnly in front of him, and extended out, on each side, far into the sea. Directly before him was a great cleft or tunnel in the rock, which extended so far back that its other extremity was not visible from where he stood. This rocky avenue was the only passage, in any direction, that the Prince could perceive, and consequently, without delay or fear, he drew his sword, and entered it. The way for a while was easy, but afterward became very rough and uneven. Here and there were openings in the walls above him, through which came a misty light; and by it the Prince perceived that the walls were filled with precious stones, which glistened and sparkled brightly, while great veins of gold and silver were streaked about in all directions. Under his feet were thousands of jewels, and bits of precious minerals without number. His way was now very difficult, for the avenue was narrow and rough. Pearls and sapphires got into his shoes, and he cut his legs and scratched his hands against the sharp diamonds and rubies that stuck out from the walls. But he pressed bravely on until the ground became more even and the walls wider apart, and at length he entered quite an open space, inclosed by a wall in which he saw before him an immense gate of copper. He went up and tried to push it open, but finding it immovable, he knocked loudly upon it with the hilt of his sword. Directly, a small window at one side of the gate was opened, and a ghoul put his head out. Seeing that it was a Prince who knocked, he drew in his head, and opened the gate. The Prince quickly entered. "I wish," said he, in an imperious voice, "to see the Princess whom the wicked Mahbracca has doubtless imprisoned in this cavern."
"O!" said the ghoul, grinning horribly, "certainly! Pass on, great Prince! The Princess and my mistress will both be glad to see you. Pass on freely. You cannot miss your way." Opening then his wide mouth, he gave a great laugh, and reëntered the porter's lodge, through the open door of which the Prince saw, upon a table, an empty coffin and a jug.
The Prince now found himself in a long and wide passage, dimly lighted and very damp. The place smelt like a burial vault, and against the walls on each side, rows of ghouls sat on the floor, their knees drawn up to their chins. As the Prince passed, some of them jumped up and gibed at him, leering, sticking out their tongues, and smacking their lips as they danced around him. Walking on rapidly, he soon left these gibbering wretches, and found that the passage became much drier, although darker, and wound and turned in various directions. Against the walls, transfixed by great iron pins, were enormous glow-worms, which gave the only light in this dismal place. These worms turned their heads to look at the Prince, and flashed a brighter light from their tails, that they might see him the better. Presently he noticed a small door in the wall, which was not quite closed. Pushing it open, he entered a room, the floor of which was not very spacious, but which was very high. Against one of the walls, chained by his arms and his wings and his legs, was the Nimshee who had fanned the Princess with his sleep-giving wings.
When this evil spirit saw the Prince, his eyes glowed so brightly that they lighted up the room as if they had been torches; and, putting down his horrid head as low as his bonds would allow, he opened wide his nostrils and his mouth, and bellowed with fury, like an immense bull,—at the same time tugging and struggling at his chains, until the very walls shook with his raging strength.
This spectacle caused the Prince to step out of the room with alacrity, and quickly shutting the door behind him, he walked rapidly along the gloomy passage. On his way he met numerous demons and evil spirits of various kinds, but they only scowled at him as he passed, and he spoke to none of them. He soon descended a stone stairway which led down to a large circular hall, with various doors and passages leading from it. On the side opposite to the stairs was a great door of green marble, sculptured with mysterious devices. Stepping up to it, and finding that it opened easily, he entered an octagonal room, the walls of which were hung with the skins of spotted cats, and on the floor was spread a skin of the sacred white elephant of India. The Prince perceived that this was merely an anteroom, for to the left of him was a door, before which sat a fierce and black Afrite, with a great javelin in his hand. With his hands upon his knees, the Afrite bent down his head, and looked steadfastly at the Prince with glaring eyes.
Advancing towards this formidable sentinel, the Prince inquired of him where he should find the Princess, if she were shut up here, or where he could see the sorceress Mahbracca. The Afrite arose, and, pushing aside the block of porphyry on which he had been sitting, took down a brazen bar by which the door was fastened, and throwing it open, told the Prince, in a harsh and brazen voice, to enter.
The room in which the Prince now found himself, was the private apartment of the sorceress, where had been concocted all the wickedness with which she had cursed the subjects of her son.
At first, the Prince could scarcely distinguish the objects in the room, as it was lighted only by a small brazier which burnt dimly on a table; but the Afrite thrust his javelin into the brazier, and the flames, all green and red, burst forth luridly, lighting up the apartment with unearthly colors. The Afrite, after informing the Prince that the great Mahbracca would soon attend him, left him, and returned to his station on the other side of the door. Somewhat fearful that all this willingness to admit him boded no good, the Prince still determined to push boldly on in his adventure (that being, indeed, the only course possible for him), and to take things as coolly as possible.
Looking around him, he saw, by the bright light which now filled the room, that against each of the walls was a row of cages, containing snakes of various grades of venom, placed in order, according to their deadly properties. Standing on their heads, in various places against the wall, were many of those dreadful green lizards which poison the air of the deep valleys of Sumatra, and whose bite causes their victim, together with all his blood relations, to gangrene in an instant. These, although standing so stiffly against the wall, were all alive, and some of them, perceiving the Prince was looking at them, winked at him. But he paid them no further attention, and proceeded with his inspection of the room.
There were great numbers of horrid-looking furnaces, and cages, and grotesque lamps, with the flames out, but with wicks still smouldering, and smelling vilely. Upon a shelf near the ceiling was a row of great jars, and out of one of them was continually popping the head of an excessively shining and black little demon, who had evidently, for some offense, been put there in pickle. From the other jars came groans, but no heads. These had been in longer. While the Prince stood, scarcely able to refrain from laughing at the comical countenance of the young demon in the jar, he heard the opening of a door, and, turning, saw the sorceress Mahbracca enter the apartment. This worthy dame presented a remarkable appearance. Short, with a large head partly covered with stubbly white hair, she had a face of the color and smoothness of an Irish potato, which has been lying in the sun for about eighteen months. Her eyes opened in the middle of the pupil, with a slit, like those of a cat, and she had three long hairs, or whiskers, on each side of her upper lip. She advanced with a smile, which did not make her look any more lovely, and extended her hand to the Prince. Being a man of politeness, of course he took it, but her touch was ten times more clammy and deadly than that of a snake.
"I am glad to see you," said Mahbracca. "Will you take some rest and refreshment? You must be tired, for you have surely travelled a long way."
"No," said the Prince, "I desire neither rest nor refreshment. All I require is, that you conduct me to the Princess, if you have her here confined, and then that you deliver her up to me."
"Ah!" said the sorceress, "that is certainly not much to ask. You shall be gratified. Allow me to conduct you to her; she will be delighted, I am sure."
Then taking in her hand a staff, and opening the door by which she had entered, she requested the Prince to follow her. Passing quickly through several apartments, they entered a wide, long, and dim avenue.
"Come," said the sorceress, "give me your hand; we will lose no time."
But the Prince, remembering his former experience of her touch, drew back from the bony hand which she extended to him.
"Ah!" cried she, with a hideous grin, "you are able to get along by yourself, are you, my dear? I dare say your young legs are very strong and nimble. You don't need any old woman's help. Ha, ha! Well, come on! The Princess awaits you!"
With these remarks, the aged hag set off at a pace, which, considering her years, was truly wonderful, putting the Prince to his best endeavors to keep up with her. The underground avenue in which they ran seemed of great length; and very shortly the old lady varied the exercise by introducing certain gymnastics. Sometimes, as she stretched out her staff, the ground would suddenly open before her, and she sprang over the wide chasm with the greatest ease; while the poor Prince, all unprepared, would have to strain every muscle in his body to clear, in the midst of his rapid career, the yawning gulf. Then she would wave her staff upwards, and the ground rise in front of her, like a steep and rocky hill, up which she would lightly run, while the Prince could scarcely restrain himself from dashing violently against its stony face. Then, while heated and breathless with the ascent of one of these, he would see her wave her staff downward, and plunge down a steep declivity, into the darkness of which he followed her pell-mell, not knowing whether he was going to descend a few yards or a mile. Very soon, however, he began to get his blood up, and, kicking out his legs like a wild goat of Cashmere, he prepared to show her that it would have to be a very smart old woman who could beat him in a race. So away they went, like a cat and a dog, the Prince clearing the great gaps as fast as Mahbracca could make them. At last he actually gained on her, and kept ahead of her for a few minutes, during which time he had level running. But with a great effort, she passed him, and, violently throwing up the end of her staff, caused a great rock to rise with such promptness, that the Prince came within an inch of braining himself against it. But over it they went, and for half a mile kept neck and neck; but the old woman soon put an end to this, for, whirling her staff round her head, the Prince instantly found himself wading in sand up to his armpits.
"That's mean!" he cried, with tears of indignation in his eyes. But Mahbracca jumped up and down on top of the sand, waving her arms, and laughing and screaming like a hyena.
"Ah ha! my vigorous Prince," cried she, "why do you stop? Hasten, hasten! Swiftest of youths, the Princess awaits us!"
Incensed by her mockery, he gave a mighty plunge into the sand before him, and surged along like a ship in the ocean, while Mahbracca skipped gayly by him, playfully kicking the sand into his eyes.
"You see the advantage of lightness, my dear," cried she. "I pass easily over the top of this sand, while you—O, how you do wallow! Ha, ha, ha! I never saw anything like it."
With such remarks, she beguiled his way, until relenting, she at last waved her staff again above her head, and the Prince found himself by her side, on solid ground.
She complimented him on his remarkable agility and strength, but he made her no answer, and, wiping his face with his handkerchief, walked on without a word. At length they reached the end of the avenue, and, passing through a circular aperture with which it terminated, the Prince found himself in the cavity of an immense hollow mountain, the floor of which was a great plain, and into which the light of day was admitted through an opening in the top, more than two miles above him.
Scattered about over the blackish sward were many groups of ghouls and variously colored demons, some playing pitch-penny with ancient coins, and others lying asleep on the ground. At a distance, grazing on the exuberant and oily foliage, were herds of the prong-horned Yabouks,—those sanguinary monsters which impale their victims on the great horn upon their noses, holding back their heads and opening their mouths to let the blood slowly trickle down their throats.
Many other dreadful cattle were scattered about the plain, drinking at the greenish streams which meandered about in various directions, or standing ruminating, knee-deep in the oily water. But these things claimed not the attention of the Prince.
In the centre of this great plain stood a tower.
"Behold!" cried Mahbracca, springing in front of him, and waving her arms—"behold the dwelling of your Princess! Come! let us run, let us bound!"
Seizing him by the hand with a strength that was not to be resisted, she led him, at great speed, to the foot of the tower. Then at the top of her voice she called out,—
"Princess! appear at your window quickly! Your love has come from afar unto you. Show yourself to him!"
At these words, the Princess put her head out of the highest window, and when the Prince saw her lovely face, he fell down on his knees, trembling with happiness, and protesting in broken sentences his love for her; while she, bending out over the window-sill, wept silently tears of joy, which came down pitter, patter, on the Prince's head.
Starting presently to his feet, the Prince ran around the tower to find the front door, and, seeing it, he endeavored to push it open, but it was securely fastened. He then turned to look for Mahbracca, and perceived her standing at some distance, surrounded by a crowd of ghouls and demons, who seemed to be greatly enjoying the scene. The Prince shouted loudly to her to send him the keys, at which the whole crowd set up a shout of laughter, and Mahbracca hysterically screamed to him,—
"Enter! Enter, great Prince! Why wait so long outside? You grieve your lovely Princess!"
The Prince, enraged, drew his sword of adamant, and at one blow thrust it through the lock, but the door did not open, and the sword was fixed immovably. In vain did he tug and struggle at it. He could not move it an inch. Hearing greater and wilder cries of derision, he turned towards the crowd and shook his fist at them, and then went back under the window of the Princess, but she was not visible. He called her again and again, at the top of his voice, but she did not answer him nor make her appearance. The night was fast coming on, and overcome with sorrow and despair, and weak with hunger, the Prince fell upon the ground.
When he had lain thus for an hour or two, hearing nothing of the Princess or his enemies, he began to reflect that if he intended to serve his lady-love, he must do something, and that speedily. He himself, he plainly saw, had no power against this sorceress, and perhaps even now she was within the tower, preventing the Princess from answering or appearing to him. He would go for assistance, and, come what would, the Princess should be delivered from that horrid tower. He therefore arose, and, without reflecting how he was to leave this abode of wickedness, he prepared to return to his friend and adviser Trumkard. When he reached the aperture by which he had entered the hollow mountain (which he did without meeting any one), he found it closed by a gate of brass. But he was not to be thus deterred. He ran around the sides of the mountain, rousing in his course several herds of Yabouks and dreadful cattle that gazed, half awake, at his rapid movements, and examined, as well as he could by the dim light, the wall of this great cavern. He soon became convinced, by the knowledge he had gained in a few visits to his step-mother's dominions, that these walls were not very thick. His resolution was quickly formed. Taking off his handsome and richly embroidered clothes, which would only impede him in his labors, he stood dressed only in his under-vest and trousers. Then, springing upon a projecting rock and over another, he entered a great crack, pushed through some loose earth, and made his way through the various crevices of the ground, as he had seen the gnomes do. After about an hour's work, he emerged into the open air very tired and very dirty. After resting awhile, he arose, and, taking his way across a great plain, found himself by daybreak, worn out and footsore, near the gates of a great city. Entering, he inquired of one of the few people who were up so early, what city this was, and was informed that it was the city of the Queen Altabec, and a long distance from the city of the mighty King.
The Prince thanked his informant, and proceeded to look for a tailor's shop, where he might provide himself with clothes; for he perceived that people eyed him with suspicion, and well they might. Having found a shop, he entered, and desired to be immediately fitted with a prince's suit. The master tailor, knowing by his proud air that he was a Prince, and supposing he had been on some youthful adventure, and had thus lost his clothes, was delighted to serve him, and, running to the shelves and drawers, pulled out all the princes' suits, and spread them before his customer. The Prince selected some very handsome clothes, and, having washed himself, put them on, and found they fitted him exactly. He declared his satisfaction with them, and putting his hand in his pocket for his purse, found nothing of the kind there, the tailor not furnishing his clothes in that way. He now remembered that all his money was in the clothes he had left behind him in the mountain, and explained his condition to the tailor. The latter, however, had no wish to deal with princes who had no money, and ordered him to instantly take off the suit. The Prince, who was strictly honest, was about obeying, when one of his feet (which were very tender with his much walking) giving him a sudden pain, he stooped down to see what was in his shoe, and taking it off, out rolled a magnificent pearl and two sapphires.
"There," said the Prince, picking them up, and handing them to the tailor, "if these will be of any use to you, you can have them for the clothes."
The tailor, filled with admiration at the sight of these jewels, and with the most profound respect for a prince who carried such wealth in his shoes, accepted them instantly, and the Prince left the shop. But the good tailor, gazing joyfully at his new-found treasures, was so conscientious and grateful, that he ran out after the Prince, and gave him back one of the sapphires as change.
It may as well be here related that the tailor sold the pearl to a jeweler, who gave him one third of its value, with which he retired into the country, bought great possessions, and lived in much dignity for many years. Some time afterward, the Queen Altabec happening to pass the jeweler's shop, and seeing the pearl in the window, immediately ordered the execution of the jeweler and the seizure of the pearl, which she placed above all the other jewels in the tip-top of her crown, where it still remains. As for the sapphire, the tailor's wife put that away for a rainy day; but as the rainy day never came, and she never went to look for it in its hiding-place, it made no earthly difference to her that her youngest child had found it, and had swapped it off for half of a little stale apple-pie.
After leaving the tailor's shop, the Prince made all haste to an inn, where, having eaten about four meals in one, he bought from an Arab, who was highly recommended to him, a swift dromedary of the desert, for which he gave one sapphire, and requested the landlord of the khan to see that the Arab paid to him, out of its value, what would suffice for the price of his breakfast. This the landlord promised faithfully to do, and it is said that the descendants of that landlord are still drawing on the descendants of that Arab for installments of the price of that wonderful breakfast.
Mounting his dromedary, the Prince would have started, but was detained by the Arab, who embraced the animal, and begged the Prince, out of charity to a poor man, to add a little to the meagre price he had paid for it. Upon which the Prince, knowing the habits of these Arabs, drew his sword, which he had got with his suit, and threatened to split the affectionate man in halves, if he did not immediately take his hands off the beast, which the man instantly did. When he started off, the humpbacked courser might have gone much faster if he had felt inclined, and at last the Prince became so enraged at the exceedingly leisurely style of his trot, that he lifted his sword to serve the animal as he had threatened to serve his old master; but the intelligent dromedary, casting back its only eye, perceived the danger, and set off at such a terrific speed, that the people in the villages through which it passed knew not what it was that had trodden down their children, and upset the old women at their pomegranate stalls.
Before night, the Prince pulled up in the great city before the door of the inn in which Trumkard and himself had lodged. Trumkard was sitting on the front step, with a melon on his lap and a skin bottle between his knees. Hastily dismounting, the Prince threw himself upon the neck of his old friend with such force that he upset the old gentleman and his supper into a great pile together. Jumping up, and wiping the wine out of his eyes and the melon-juice out of his hair, Trumkard welcomed his young master, and assured him that he had several times wondered where he was. The Prince then led him in-doors, and related his adventures, and besought his advice.
Thereupon, Trumkard, throwing his right leg over his left, rested his elbow on his knee, and, reposing his chin in his hand, cogitated. At last he spoke.
"We cannot do better," said he, "than to apply to the Giant Tur-il-i-ra."
This Giant, it will be remembered, was our old acquaintance, and the friend of Ting-a-ling.
The Prince having readily consented to this proposition, it was agreed that they should go to the Giant the next day, and implore his assistance. The Prince would have started that night, but Trumkard had great objections to night travelling, and he, being the best at an argument, gained his point.
Early the next morning, the travellers set forth upon their journey, well mounted upon two good horses. (It may be as well to state that during the night, the Prince's dromedary had returned to its original owner.)
As it will take two days of hard riding for our friends to reach their destination, we will leave them, and return for a time to the gentle Mahbracca, who, when she had left the Prince, had gone to her private room to prepare an ingenious wire arrangement, which she called a "prince-trap," in which he was to be inclosed and hung up before the window of the Princess, for the amusement of this lively sorceress.
But what was her dismay when, on returning to the tower, the first Yabouk she met told her of the escape of the Prince! Speechless with apprehension, she ran to the place where he had passed through the side of the mountain, and seeing his clothes upon the ground and the indubitable signs of his egress, she became perfectly furious, and, rushing back to the tower, commanded the dreadful Afrite who guarded her door, and who now accompanied her, to enter and to bring down the Princess, but on no account to injure her until she should be placed alive in the cage that had been prepared for the Prince. The faithful Afrite bowed his head in obedience, and having at one bound entered one of the lower windows, he hurried up the stairs to the door of the Princess's room. Bursting it open, he saw the Princess lying on the floor in a swoon (into which she had fallen when she perceived that Mahbracca was acting treacherously towards the Prince), and, supposing her to be dead, he hastily plunged down the stairs to inform his mistress, and rushing violently against the front door to burst it open (as was his habit when doors were in his way), he immediately spitted himself upon the Prince's sword of adamant, which was sticking through the lock.
After waiting some time, and becoming alarmed at the long absence of the Afrite, the sorceress sent for the key of the tower, and opened the door. But when it slowly swung open, and the body of her favorite swung with it,—the point of the sword emerging from the middle of his back,—she fainted away. Coming to her senses in a few minutes, she ordered him to be drawn off and carried to her room, where, after again locking the tower door, she followed, in the hopes of reviving, by means of proper magical remedies, whatever vitality might be left in the unfortunate and indispensable Afrite.
Trumkard and the Prince journeyed so rapidly that their horses fell, utterly exhausted, at the end of the first day's journey; and, not being able to procure others, they were obliged to go the rest of the way on foot. You may be sure that the Prince did not lag by the way, and poor Trumkard was obliged to do his very best to keep up with him at all. Therefore, when, near the end of the second day, they arrived at the Giant's castle, they were tired and warm enough. Entering the great gate (to the hinge of which little Ting-a-ling once tied his butterfly), they approached the castle, and perceived the Giant sitting in his front porch, with his feet in immense slippers, comfortably resting against one of the great pillars before the door. The Prince, who had never seen him before, was struck with astonishment at his great size; but Trumkard assured him that a nobler or more true-hearted being never breathed, for all he was so big.
When Tur-il-i-ra perceived them, he arose and welcomed them heartily, remembering Trumkard as an old friend. He caused them to be seated on the porch, and ordered water to be brought that they might free themselves from the dust of the journey. Then he called to his attendants to spread a table, and to bring some cold meat and some game, some curries and hashes, some minced meat, some pepper-pot, some mutton-chops, omelettes, bacon and eggs; some broiled steaks, some spare-ribs, toast, butter, cheese, pickles, and salad; some macaroni, vermicelli, chowder, mullagatawny, lobsters, clams, oysters, mussels, and shrimps; also some tripe, kidneys, liver, and sausages, and calves'-foot-jelly, and stewed cranberries; also frangipanni tarts and a Charlotte-Russe, with bottles of orgeat, sherbet, and iced wines, together with mead and mineral water.
When his guests had partaken of these, their hunger was fully satisfied, and they related to him the reason of their coming. When the Giant learned how the Princess was kept from her lover, and in all probability from a throne, by this wicked sorceress, his anger knew no bounds.
"I knew the woman well!" he cried, "but I thought her dead. Many is the deed of vile magic which I have known her to do, but now—well, my friends, you shall be avenged. I will take up the cause of the Princess, and we will set out for the hollow mountain as soon as I can get myself ready to start."
Leaving the two friends in comfortable chairs on the porch, in which they fell asleep as soon as he had left them, the Giant ascended the great stone stairs into his armory, which was an immense room, filled with his mighty weapons, and armor and all sorts of implements of warfare. Kicking off his slippers, he put upon his feet great boots, the like of which were never seen before. Their soles were enormously thick, and studded with nails, each one of which was so heavy that I would not like to have to carry it very far. Then, having put on his chain armor and his great gauntlets, and having arrayed himself otherwise according to his taste, he put upon his head his helmet, which was like a great iron pot, and big enough to—well, big enough to cover his head, which is saying a great deal. He then took, from the corner of the room, his club, which was the trunk of a tall tree, with one end fastened into a great rock, by way of having a knob to it. Having thus accoutred himself, he came down-stairs, and, finding his guests in such a sound slumber, he had not the heart to waken them; so he gently took them up, and put one of them in each of the side-pockets of the coat which he wore over his armor. Then, having given orders to his servants to close all the gates, and see that the house was well fastened up for fear of thieves, he strode out of the great gate, and proceeded towards the hollow mountain. Although this was a long journey for a man or a horse, our Giant made such tremendous strides that it did not seem like a very great distance to him; and when Trumkard and the Prince awoke, and stood up, and looked in astonishment out of the pocket-holes, they saw the mountain in the distance. The Giant, perceiving that they were awake, looked from one to the other with his peculiar pleasant smile, and assured them that their troubles would soon be at an end.
"I hardly think," said he, "that the old woman can keep me out of her tower;" and he laughed at the very idea of such a thing. The Prince made no reply, but he thought that if the Giant did get into the tower, it would be considerably stretched.
Having arrived at the mountain, the Giant walked around it until he came to the place where, the Prince informed him, he had made his escape, and which was, as far as there was an opportunity of judging, one of the thinnest parts. Tur-il-i-ra took his friends out of his pockets, and set them on the ground at a little distance from the foot of the mountain; and then letting his club down from his shoulder, he whirled it around his head, and struck such a tremendous blow on the side of the mountain, with the rock end, that everything cracked again. Then another on the same place, and another, and another, until, at the last blow, a great mass of rock and earth fell inside with a crash like thunder, leaving a gap large enough for the whole party to walk in without stooping. You may be sure that the three were not long in entering; but no sooner had they set foot upon the great interior plain, than they perceived a mighty commotion among the inhabitants of this secluded spot. Ghouls, Afrites, and all sorts of demons were running towards them in a great state of excitement; and as they approached, they formed into a solid body, evidently intending to repel the invaders. There was no mistaking their intentions; for they hurled at the Giant a volley of spears and javelins that would have annihilated any one who was not so large, and who had not on such strong and secure chain-armor.
As to our two smaller friends, they were safe enough behind the Giant's legs. Giving his club a swing, Tur-il-i-ra stepped forward, and let it drive right into the middle of the crowd, crushing some sixty of them, and sending the rest howling in every direction.
Being thus rid, for a time, of these opposers, the Giant picked up his club, and, followed by the Prince and Trumkard, advanced towards the tower. Although Tur-il-i-ra strode along at a great rate, the Prince got to the tower first, and immediately commenced shouting to his Princess. She, however, did not make her appearance, for she was still in a swoon. So the Prince ran around to the door to see if, by chance, it was open, but found it locked. He saw, however, the hilt of his sword still in the lock, and, seizing it, he again used his utmost strength to pull it out, but in vain. The Giant, who had just come up, perceiving what he was trying to do, stooped down, and, taking hold of the hilt in his finger and thumb, gave it a jerk, and out it came. He handed it, with a smile, to the Prince, who, overjoyed at regaining his favorite weapon, jumped around to see if there was anybody he could stick it into; but as all the Yabouks and other cattle were standing at a respectful distance, and there was only old Trumkard running up, he thought better of the matter, and put his sword into its scabbard, feeling himself a man again. The Giant walked round the tower, putting his eye to the windows, but said he could see nothing.
"Look in the upper window!" shouted the Prince; "that is the Princess's room."
"Yes! here she is!" cried the old fellow, peering on tiptoe into the upper room. "And fast asleep on the floor! That wretch of a witch has not even given her a bed." Then, clapping his great hands against the side of the tower, he cried,—"Wake up, sweet Princess!" in a voice so loud that the poor young lady thought it was thunder, and sprang to her feet trembling with fright. Seeing the face of a strange Giant at the window, she was so much more terrified that it is probable she would have fainted away again, had she not heard the Prince's voice.
"Lift me up!" cried the Prince, jumping about almost mad with impatience. "Put me in, quick, good Giant, if she is there!" So the Giant took him up, and put him right in at the window. When the Princess saw him, her face flushed, and her eyes flashed with joy. Starting back and stamping one foot, she cried,—"My Prince!"
And he, starting back and stamping one foot, cried,—"My Princess!"
And then they rushed into each other's arms, and you could have heard the kissing ever so far.
Old Trumkard was nearly tickled to death, and ran around on his toes, trying insanely to reach up; but he couldn't see anything,—not he! As for the Giant, he could see first-rate, and he stood looking in at the window, with such a broad grin on his face, that one might almost have driven a horse and wagon down his throat.
In a short time the Prince and Princess made their appearance at the window, and requested to be taken down. When the Giant had deposited them safely on the ground, they embraced each other, and then Trumkard; and, turning to Tur-il-i-ra, they made him a very pretty speech, expressive of gratitude and eternal remembrance.
These little duties having been performed, there seemed nothing more to be done but to quit the mountain by the way they came. But, as they were about leaving the tower, they were startled by a sudden burst of yells and howls, and saw, issuing from the brazen gate by which the Prince had first entered, a great crowd, which was approaching them at full speed, headed by Mahbracca, who skipped along at an astonishing rate.
Our friends did not attempt to retreat. Indeed, the enemy was upon them almost as soon as they perceived their danger.
Mahbracca stepped to one side, and the crowd, opening, discovered in the midst forty-seven spotted demons, who carried a great copper brazier, like an enormous covered pot, which they quickly set down, almost at the feet of the Giant.
"Off with the lid!" shouted Mahbracca, and instantly a number of the slaves seized the cover and dragged it off, when a great, thick, poisonous smoke burst out of it, which would have destroyed our friends in a few moments, had not they involuntarily sprung back and clapped their handkerchiefs to their faces. However, they could not have lived more than half a minute, had not the Giant, with admirable presence of mind and surprising quickness, given the brazier such a tremendous kick with one of his heavy boots, that he sent it more than a mile and a half, into the midst of a distant herd of Yabouks, which were all instantly suffocated by the dense cloud of poisonous smoke which covered them, as the brazier fell, upside-down, right over the leader of the herd, who, giving one great bellow, instantly crisped up into nothing. The Giant and his party did not dare to draw breath until they had run a considerable distance; but, notwithstanding this precaution, the Princess presently sank down, very pale and faint; for her handkerchief, being of the finest cambric, did not prevent her from slightly smelling the horrid vapor, although she did not inhale any of it. However, the fresher air, and the vigorous efforts of the Prince, soon restored her.
Mahbracca, stupefied for a moment at her utter discomfiture, and deserted by her followers, stood gazing blankly at the scene. What she intended doing next, was not long doubtful; for, taking a magical wand from her pocket, she bade the Giant, with a wave of her wand, turn into a camelopard. As he did not seem in a hurry to obey, she commanded him to become a hippopotamus, and then an elephant. He positively declined, however, to turn into any of these animals, owing to his having taken the precaution, before leaving his castle, to drink a bottle of anti-enchantment water. The old sorceress now became so enraged that she could scarcely speak, but stood stamping her feet, and shaking her fist at the great Tur-il-i-ra, who, leaning on his club, waited with a smile for her next attempt upon him.
At this moment the Prince perceived, a short distance behind Mahbracca, a small, black, and shining demon, whom he immediately recognized as the little fellow he had seen in pickle. The young rascal was pulling and tugging at a great wire machine that had been dropped by the followers of Mahbracca when they ran away. He beckoned to the Prince to come and help him; and the latter, whispering to the Princess to keep behind the Giant, slipped quietly around to the rear of the angry sorceress, and assisted the little fellow to place the wire affair (which was nothing less than the "prince-trap" that Mahbracca had made) directly behind the old hag, with the door right at her back. The Giant, perceiving this rapidly performed stratagem, raised his club, and made a step forward, as if, with one blow, he would crush Mahbracca, who was just beginning to find her tongue. Startled by this sudden action, she stepped back quickly, and stumbled right over into the "prince-trap." For an instant she lay on her back, astounded, but quickly perceiving her predicament, she sprang to her feet, and with loud yells tried her best to get out. But it was of no use. The trap was made by the best rules of magic, and there was no such a thing as getting out, even if one was as small as a mouse. As for the little black fellow who had been in pickle, he laughed and danced until the old woman, glaring at him between the wires, ordered him to turn into a toad. But, unfortunately for her, she had dropped her magic wand outside of the cage, as she fell in, and the little demon, seeing this, merely laughed in her face, and running to the wand, picked it up, and ordered her to turn into a jackass, which she immediately did, and began to bray horribly. The little wretch was so delighted with this feat, that he turned about a dozen somersaults, and then, for the amusement of the Giant and his friends, he changed the old sorceress successively into a lion, a pig, an old hen, a turtle, a kangaroo, a boa-constrictor, an ape, a lobster, a cat, a crocodile, and a crane. He declared his intention of going through these exercises until he had used up the whole animal kingdom, and seemed delighted to think that he could have a complete menagerie in one cage. In order that he might pursue his amusement without interruption, the Giant put him, with the cage, on the top of the tower; and when our friends left the hollow mountain through the gap the Giant had made, the poor sorceress was being changed from bird to beast, and from beast to fish or reptile, as fast as the little demon was satisfied with her performance in any one character; and he may be keeping up this amusing pastime yet, for all I know.
When our party emerged into the open plain, it was night; but as the stars were quite bright, Tur-il-i-ra, carrying his smaller friends, and with his good club over his shoulder, took his way toward his castle. They had not travelled far before daylight appeared, and very soon afterward they saw in the distance what seemed to be a mighty army coming toward them. As it drew nearer, they perceived the glittering spears and the flags, and heard the sounds of drum and horn. This great multitude was nothing more than two or three hundred thousand of the inhabitants of the city of the mighty King, who were marching upon the stronghold of Mahbracca.
During the Prince's hurried visit to the city, he had freely told the few persons with whom he had conversed of the place of imprisonment of the Princess; and after he had left, the story spread rapidly.
At last the excitement became so great that it ended in a grand revolt. The Prime Minister was seized and imprisoned, and the palace was searched; and when it was found that the Princess was indeed gone, the whole city put full faith in the Prince's story, and all who could bear arms, or play music, and could possibly leave home, formed themselves into a great army, and started off for the cave of Mahbracca. They travelled bravely until they neared the hollow mountain, and hoped soon to destroy the wicked Mahbracca if they found that she was still alive, as the Prince had reported.
As they approached the Giant, some of the vanguard recognized Trumkard, and others remembered having seen the Prince before; and then when the Princess raised her head, as the Giant gently held her on his arm, thousands of the nearest of the army set up a great shout,—"The Princess! the Princess!"
Then came a rush, in which the Giant might have had even his mighty legs taken from under him, had he not, with the presence of mind for which he was noted, mounted, at a bound, a tolerably high rock, and, waving his hand for silence, demanded that the people should gather round and listen to him. He then made a speech which met with the greatest attention. He told the people everything that had happened on this adventure, and, having such a loud voice, they all heard what he had to say. He related the remarkable fate of Mahbracca, and advised his hearers to forget their wrath against her, as she must, for the rest of her life, be harmless, and to conduct the Princess back to the mighty city, and there to establish her in whatever rights she possessed, that is, if it were proved she had any at all. He also spoke in the highest terms of the Prince, and recommended his old friend Trumkard to their kindest consideration. When he had finished, the whole multitude applauded rapturously for some time, and in the midst of it all, he delivered up his protégés to the guardianship of the Head-man, who immediately had the Prince and Trumkard mounted upon magnificent chargers, and the Princess was placed in a palanquin of white silk, embroidered with diamonds, which had been brought on purpose for her, in case they had had the good fortune to find her.
The Giant was then about to leave them; but as the citizens would not hear of this, and as he was a rare good fellow, and did not object to festivities, he was persuaded to go with them. As they had no horse big enough for him, he walked.
The procession was then formed for the return march. First of all rode the Head-man, with a sword in one hand and a golden horn in the other. Then marched the professors of music. After them came all those of the army who could play on the trumpet; then the guard of honor, with the Prince and Princess; then Trumkard and the Giant, and after them the immense host that could carry their weapons in one hand, and play upon the drum with the other. When they started, the drums were all beaten, the trumpets all blown, the horses neighed, the spears glittered, the banners flapped and fluttered, and there was never so brave an army in the world.
From all the hills, and plains, and valleys, the people came flocking to see them as they passed. The enthusiasm was so great, that when night came on again, enormous bonfires were lighted on both sides of their road, and kept up with such hearty good-will, that they travelled all night in a light as bright as day; and when the wood gave out, the peasants tore down their cottages, and threw them on the flames.
As they proceeded, the professors of music composed marches, and when one was finished, they gave the manuscript to the Head-man, who, commanding silence, blew the tune on his horn, and then the whole army struck up and played it grandly. Of these, the "Giant's Grand March" was the best. It was what might be called good, loud music. If it had thundered, it is not likely that it would have been heard in the grand final burst, when all the drums and trumpets beat and blew their very loudest.
The Giant himself played in this march; for some of those who marched near him, seeing that he had no instrument, asked him if he would not like to play upon something. To which he replied that he did not care if he did. So they got for him the largest bass-drum. He was much pleased at this, and handing his club to two hundred porters, who accompanied the expedition, he beat away upon his drum in good style. This performance did not last long, however; for the first time they played the grand final burst, he beat on both drum-heads at the same time, and of course there was no more music from him. The people around him were very glad of this; for while he played, he became so much excited that he did not see where he was walking, and was continually treading upon some one. So they journeyed with joy and gladness until they reached the city of the mighty King, and all the people who had been left behind came out to meet them. Bells were rung, and all kinds of music played, and the people shouted, so that the oldest inhabitant never knew such a noise and excitement before. They entered the city, and the procession halted at the palace. Here the Princess, after embracing the Prince, was conducted to the ladies' apartments, where her friends were so overjoyed at seeing her again, that one would have thought that they would never have got over it. The Prince, Trumkard, and the Giant were each shown to sumptuous apartments, and that night everybody in the palace had as much of everything good as they could eat.
Twelve o'clock of the next day was the time appointed for the Princess to make trial of the magical music. The great hall of the palace was fitted up most magnificently, and with the utmost rapidity, for this great occasion. The chairs of the judges were covered with new velvet, and nothing was omitted that could add to the regal splendor of the hall. At half-past ten the doors were opened, and the hall was immediately filled in every part, but the small portion reserved for the principal actors in the ceremony. There were nine galleries, one above the other, around this truly immense room; and when it was all packed full of people from floor to dome, it was a wonderful spectacle indeed.
At ten minutes of twelve, the procession entered the great hall. First came, along the centre passage, which was covered with cloth of gold, a number of beautiful boys, who strewed the way with hyacinths, and jasmines, and the costly blossoms of the century plant. After them were others, with golden water-pots, who sprinkled attar of roses before the Princess, who, dressed in the purest white silk, cut bias, and trimmed with pink fur, was escorted by the Prince. After them came the Prime Minister (released for the occasion), the nobles, etc., and the procession was closed by the guards of the palace, all dressed in blue and covered with diamonds. There was no music, nor scarcely any sound whatever, as they moved toward the judges, who were already sitting solemnly in their chairs. When the procession reached them, it halted, and the Princess was conducted to a chair in front of the music. Then the youngest judge arose, and uncovered the magical music.
In all that hall, filled with such a multitude, there was breathless silence. It was so still that the little mice came out of their holes, thinking there was no one there.
Then the Princess, timidly raising her eyes, ran them over the music, and began. It commenced softly and somewhat sadly, but soon, becoming louder and richer, the tones swelled high and clear, until the pure voice of the Princess thrilled through all the perfumed air. Then it became more and more glorious, until its beatific beauty caused many of the older hearers to die, and go straight to paradise. The close was inconceivably sweet; and when the last notes died away, the people bowed their heads in tearful peace, and all evil left their hearts, and to many of them it never returned.
As they raised their heads, they saw the oldest judge arise and point with his golden wand to the marble tablet. The characters of the music had disappeared, and the vellum on which they had been written was as white as snow. There was no need of any further decision. The judges descended from their chairs in profound silence, and the oldest and the youngest, each taking the Princess by the hand, led her up the steps to the throne, and seated her upon it. Then the Prime Minister took the crown from its velvet cushion, and placed it on her head, and, turning to the people, said in a voice which sounded in the stillness to all parts of the vast building, "Behold your Queen!"
Then, as one man, that great multitude gave such a sudden, wild, tremendous shout, that it took the roof right off the top of the house, and the wood that fell in every direction outside, was enough to keep the poor people in kindling-wood all winter.
The Giant, whirling his iron helmet around his head, now led off, with a thundering "Hip, hip, hurra!" in three cheers for the Queen. And three such cheers!
The dense crowd outside took them up, and shook the very foundations of the city with their shouts; and the country people, and those at a great distance, heard the joyful sounds, and before many minutes the whole country, for miles around, reverberated with cheers for the new-made Queen.
As for the palace, it shook and trembled with the thunders of applause, still led by the Giant, who couldn't be stopped. The people about him were all struck deaf in the ear nearest him, but the ear-doctors cured them all for nothing, when they got outside, so full of charity was every one. At last, when every one, the Giant and all, were hoarse with shouting, the Prime Minister offered his hand to the Queen, and led her down from the throne. Then she motioned to the Prince to give her his arm; and at the head of the procession, he led her to the royal apartments, at the door of which he left her. The multitude then dispersed, and they spent the rest of that day in putting right the wrongs they had committed, and in making provision for future virtue. When the Queen had taken some refreshment, she put on an every-day crown, and repaired to the audience chamber to receive the visits of the various dignitaries of the kingdom, who came before her, and brought her their keys, and papers, and account-books. Giving each one back his keys, and ordering the papers and accounts to be deposited in a great pile on one side, where she might look over them at her leisure, she reappointed every man to the office he held before, and sent them away rejoicing. Then she called for writing materials and slaves, and commenced writing notes to the Prince. She would write one on gilded vellum, and, folding it, would hand it to the slave next to her, who dipped it in frankincense, and handed it to the next one, who sprinkled it with attar of roses, and passed it to the next, who ran with it as hard as ever he could to the Prince. For in that kingdom it was not considered proper for lovers to visit much.
This performance the Queen kept up all the afternoon, writing as fast as she could, and only stopping long enough to read the answers which the slaves brought her as they returned. At last, they came back, bringing with them her last notes unopened, saying that the Prince had gone to sleep. At which intelligence she shed some tears, but then, like a sensible Queen, had her supper, and went to bed.
The next day the marriage of the Queen and the Prince took place, and it was a glorious affair indeed. Twenty-four historians were appointed by the Crown to write the history of it; they were paid by the quarter, and it took them a long time, I can assure you.
The whole of the wedding-day, the festivities were kept up, and all the eating, and drinking, and merry-making, was at the royal expense. During the day and night everybody spent, and gave away to the poor, all the wealth they possessed, and in the morning it was all paid back to them by the royal Treasurer. In the country, the people feasted grandly on their own herds, and drank up their own wines, and they were also reimbursed by the Crown.
But the great feature of the royal marriage was the decree, proclaimed at noon of the wedding-day, that all persons married on that day should be set up in housekeeping, free of expense!
Never, in the history of that or any other kingdom, were priests kept so busy as those in this city. They worked as hard as they could, but at three o'clock they were obliged to commence marrying the folks by squads; and so, before suppertime, there was not a bachelor or maid in the whole city,—excepting an old bobstay spinner,—one of the crossest of old maids, who hated men so much that she had not spoken to one for forty years; and a crabbed bachelor, who despised women so completely that he never had his clothes washed, because it would have to be done by females.
At midnight, the priest Ali-bo-babem was called out of his bed, and found at the door, desiring to be married, the crabbed old bachelor and the cross old maid. These two did not live long, but all the rest of the people were very happy for many years.
About three o'clock of the morning after the great wedding-day, the Giant Tur-il-i-ra arrived at his castle gate. He had walked all the way home, and he felt in such a good humor that the road never seemed so short to him before. But, for some reason, he could not open the gate. There seemed to be an unusual number of locks and bolts, and the big key he carried did not seem to fit any of the numerous key-holes. He could easily reach over and undo the bolts, but the locks were too much for him; and, I am sorry to say, he got a little angry, and was about to take his club and smash his magnificent gate, when his wife, who had been sitting up for him, and had heard the noise he had been making, came down and let him in.
They went together into the great hall, and there Tur-il-i-ra sat down before the fire. His wife, who thought a great deal of the good Giant, was sorry to see that he was silent and rather grum.
"What makes you look so, my dear?" said she. "Did you not have a good time?"
"O yes," said he, "good enough,—but that gate put me out. I wonder what's the matter with it. It's got to be fixed. I won't be bothered and worried in this way."
"It shall all be made right in the morning," said his wife. "But are you sure you did not take anything that disagreed with you while you were away?"
"Perhaps I did," said he. "It might have been the mince-pies. They told me they were temperance pies, but I don't believe it."
"How many did you eat, my dear?" asked the good Giantess.
"Well, I don't know," said her husband. "About ten or eleven hundred, I suppose."
"That was too many for you," said his wife. "And I think you had better go to bed, and I will bring you something to make you feel better."
So the Giant went to bed, and as he slowly ascended the stairs, he winked to himself with his right eye. And his wife, she went into the kitchen, and winked to herself with her left eye.
After a while she came up to the Giant, and brought a barrel of hot chamomile tea; and when he had drank it all, she tucked him in, nice and warm, and the next morning he felt as well as ever.
One pleasant sunny day, the Giant Tur-il-i-ra was lying on his back on the grass, under some great trees, in a wood near the palace of the King.
His feet were high above the rest of his body, resting in the crotch of a great oak-tree, and he lay with his vest open and his hat off, idly sucking the pith from a young sapsago-tree that he had just broken off. Near him, on the top of a tall bulrush, sat the little fairy Ting-a-ling. They had been talking together for some time, and Tur-il-i-ra said, "Ting-a-ling, you must come and see me. You have never been to my castle except when you came for the good of somebody else. Come now for yours and mine, and stay at least a week. We will have a gay old time. Will you come?"
"I will," cried the little fairy, in a voice as clear as the chirp of a cricket. "I'll come whenever you say so."
"Let it be to-morrow, then," said the Giant. "Shall I fetch you?"
"O no," said Ting-a-ling; "I will come on my blue butterfly. You have no idea how fast he flies. I do believe he could go to your castle nearly as fast as you could yourself."
"All right," said Tur-il-i-ra, rising. "Come as you please, but be sure you come to stay."
Then the Giant got up, and he shook himself, and buttoned his vest, and put on his hat, and as he had thin boots on, he told Ting-a-ling he was going to see if he couldn't take the river at one jump. So, tightening his belt, and going back for a good run, he rushed to the river bank, and with a spring like the jerk of five mad elephants, he bounded across. But the opposite bank was not hard enough to resist the tremendous fall of so many tons of giant as came upon it when Tur-il-i-ra's feet touched its edge; and it gave way, and his feet went up and his back came down, and into the river, like a ship dropping out of the sky, went the mighty Giant. The splash was so great that the whole air, for a minute or two, was full of water and spray, and Ting-a-ling could see nothing at all. When things had become visible again, there was Tur-il-i-ra standing up to the middle of his thighs in the channel of the river, and brushing from his eyes and his nose the water that trickled from him like little brooks.
"Hel-l-o-o-o!" cried Ting-a-ling. "Are you hurt?"
"O no!" spluttered the Giant. "The water and the mud were soft enough, but I'm nearly blinded and choked."
"It's a good thing it isn't worse," cried the fairy. "If that river had not been so broad, you would have broken your neck when you came down."
"Good-by!" cried the Giant, stepping upon the bank; "I must hurry home as fast as I can." And so away he went over the hills at a run, and you may rest assured that he did not jump any more rivers that day.
The next morning early, Ting-a-ling mounted his blue butterfly, and over the fields he went almost as fast as a bird, for his was a butterfly of the desert, where they have to fly very far for anything to eat, and to race for it very often at that. Ting-a-ling took nothing with him but what he wore, but his "things" and his best clothes were to be sent after him on a beetle, which, though slow, was very strong, and could have carried, if he chose, everything that Ting-a-ling had. About sunset, the fairy and the butterfly, the latter very tired, arrived at the castle of Tur-il-i-ra, and there, at the great door, stood the Giant, expecting them, with his face beaming with hospitality and delight. He had had his slaves, for the whole afternoon, scattered along the road by which his visitor would come; and they were commanded to keep a sharp lookout for a blue butterfly, and pass the word to the castle when they saw it coming. So Tur-il-i-ra was all ready; and as he held out his finger, the butterfly was glad enough to fly up and light upon it. The good Giant took them both into the house, and the butterfly was put on a top-shelf, where there were some honey-jars, and if he didn't eat!
Supper was all ready, and Tur-il-i-ra sat down to the table on a chair which was bigger than some houses, while Ting-a-ling sat cross-legged on a napkin, opposite to him. The Giant had everything nice. There was a pair of roast oxen, besides a small boiled whale, and a great plate of fricasseed elks. As for vegetables, there were boat-loads of mashed potatoes, and turnips, and beans; and there was a pie which was as big as a small back-yard. The Giant had a splendid appetite, and before supper was over he had eaten up most of these things. As for little Ting-a-ling, he had only got half way through his third grain of boiled rice, when the Giant was done. But he could eat no more; and after scooping up about a drop of wine in a little cup he carried with him, he drank the health of Tur-il-i-ra, and then they went out on the front porch, where the Giant ordered his big pipe to be brought, and he had a smoke. When Tur-il-i-ra had finished his pipe, and Ting-a-ling had nearly sneezed himself to death, and the whole atmosphere, for about a mile around the castle, was foggy with smoke, they went in to bed.
Tur-il-i-ra took Ting-a-ling up-stairs, and showed him where he was to sleep; and then putting him down on the bed, he bade him good-night, and went out and shut the door after him.
Ting-a-ling stood in the middle of the bed and looked about him. It was as if he was in the midst of a great plain. The bed was a double one, that had belonged to the Giant's father and mother, and he had given it to Ting-a-ling because it was the best in the house. The little fairy was delighted with this bed, which was very smooth, and covered with a great white counterpane. He ran from one end to the other of it, and he turned heels-over-head, and walked on his hands, and amused himself in this way until he was thoroughly tired. Then he lay right down in the very middle, and went to sleep. I would like to have a picture of Ting-a-ling in the Giant's bed, but any one can draw it so easily for himself, that it is of no use to have it here. All that is necessary is to take a large sheet of white paper,—the largest you can get,—and in the centre of it make a small dot,—the smallest you can make,—and there you have the picture.
It must have been nearly morning when Ting-a-ling was awakened by a tremendous knocking at the front-door of the castle. The first thought he had was that perhaps there were his things! But he forgot that a very small, and probably tired-out fairy (for Parsley's younger brother was to come with the baggage), in charge of a beetle in the same condition, could hardly make such a thundering noise as that. But he jumped up and slid down on the floor, and as his room was a front one, he went to the window, and climbing up the curtains, got outside and looked down. There, in the moonlight, he saw an ordinary sized man on horseback, directing about a dozen black slaves, who had hold of a long rope, which they had tied to the knocker of Tur-il-i-ra's door. They were all pulling away at it as hard as they could (and a mighty pounding they made too), when the Giant put his head out of his window, and asked what all this noise meant.
"O good Tur-il-i-ra!" cried the man on the horse, "I have ridden for several days" (he said nothing about his slaves having run all the way) "to come to you, and tell you that the Kyrofatalapynx is loose."
"What!" cried Tur-il-i-ra, in a voice like the explosion of a powder magazine. "Loose!"
"Yes," said the man. "He's been loose for four days."
The Giant pulled in his head, and Ting-a-ling could hear him hurrying down-stairs to open the great door. The man came in and all the slaves, and as a good many of Tur-il-i-ra's people were up by this time, there was a great hubbub of voices in the lower hall; but though Ting-a-ling listened up by the banisters until the cold wind on the staircase had nearly frozen his little bare legs (which were not much longer than your finger-nail, and about as thick as a big darning-needle), he could make out nothing at all of the talk. So he went back to the bed, and got in under the edge of the counterpane, and lay there, with just his head sticking out, until he dropped asleep. At daybreak Tur-il-i-ra came into the room, and stooping over the bed, called to him to get up, as there was to be an early breakfast. As the Giant carried him down-stairs on his finger, he told the fairy that he was deeply grieved, but that he would be obliged to leave him for the rest of the day, on account of the Kyrofatalapynx having broken loose.
"But what is that?" asked Ting-a-ling.
"Why, don't you know? It is a—Look here, you fellows! Didn't I tell you that breakfast was to be all ready when I came down? What do you mean, you lazy rascals? Skip, now, and have everything ready this minute."
And the men skipped, and the cooks cooked, and the fires blazed, and the pots boiled and bubbled, and the Giant sat down in a great hurry, with the man who came on horseback sitting cross-legged on one side of the table, and Ting-a-ling on the other. So he forgot to finish his sentence about the Kyrofatalapynx. During the meal there was nothing but noise and confusion, and Ting-a-ling could not get in a word. The Giant had a dish of broiled sheep before him, and he was crunching them up as fast as he could, and talking, with his mouth full, to the man all the time; and the slaves and the servants were all eating and drinking, and running about, until there was no hearing one's own voice, unless it was a very big one. So, although Ting-a-ling was dying of curiosity to know what the Kyrofatalapynx was, he could not get an answer from any one.
As soon as the Giant was done eating, he jumped up, and shouted for his hat and his boots; and if the men did not run fast enough, he shouted at them all the louder. If Ting-a-ling had not stayed on the table, I don't know what would have become of him in the confusion. The Giant had now pushed off his slippers, and was waiting until the men should bring his boots; and as one lazy fellow was poking around, as if he was half asleep, Tur-il-i-ra was so irritated at his slowness that he slipped the toe of his stockinged foot under him, and gave him a tremendous send right out of the door, and he went flying over the trees at the bottom of the lawn, and over the barley-field on the other side of the ditch, and over the pasture, where the cows were kept, and over the pomegranate orchard, and over the palm-grove by the little lake, and over Hassan ab Kolyar's cottage, right smack down into the soft marsh, back of the sunflower garden; and he didn't get back to the castle until his master had been gone an hour. As the Giant sat on the edge of the table, pulling on his boots, he told Ting-a-ling that he must make himself as comfortable as possible until he came back, and that he would not be gone longer than he could possibly help. But although the fairy asked him again and again to tell him what the Kyrofatalapynx was, he never seemed to hear him, so busy was he, talking to everybody at once. Now Tur-il-i-ra was nearly ready to go, and Ting-a-ling was standing close to the fringe on his scarf, which lay over one end of the table.
"How I should like to go with him," said the little fairy, and he took hold of the fringe. "But he doesn't want me, or he would take me along. I would ask him, if he would only be quiet a minute"—
Just then up jumped the Giant; and as Ting-a-ling had not let go of the fringe, he was jerked up too. He held on bravely; and as he did not wish to swing about on the scarf, he climbed up to the Giant's shoulder, and took tight hold of his long hair. With the man and his slaves in a large round basket in one hand, and his great club in the other, away went Tur-il-i-ra, with strides longer than across the street, and he walked so fast, that Ting-a-ling had to hold on tight, to keep from being blown away.
About noon they came to a large palace, surrounded by smaller dwellings; and on the porch of the palace there stood a King and a Queen and three princesses, and they were all crying. On the steps, in the grounds and gardens, and everywhere, were the lords and ladies, and common people, and they were all crying too. When these disconsolate people saw the Giant approaching, they set up a great shout of joy, and rushed to meet him, calling out, "O, the Kyrofatalapynx has broken loose!"
Tur-il-i-ra went up to the palace, and sat down on the great portico, with his feet on the ground, and the people told him (all speaking at once, and not having even manners enough to let the King have the first say) that the Kyrofatalapynx had grown awfully strong and savage since the Giant had tied him up, and that he had at last broken loose, and was now ravaging the country. He had carried off ever so many camels, and horses, and sheep, and oxen, and had threatened to eat up every person in those parts, who was under age. But since he had found out that they had sent for Tur-il-i-ra, he had gone into the forest, and they knew not when he would come forth. Then up spoke a woodman above all the clamor, and he said he knew when he would come out, for he had been in the forest that morning, and had stumbled on the Kyrofatalapynx, which was so busy making something that he did not see him; and he heard him mutter to himself, over and over again, "When he comes, I'll rush out and finish him, and then I'll be head of them all."
"All right," cried Tur-il-i-ra. "I'll wait down there by the edge of the forest; and when he sees me, he can rush out, and then you will all soon know who will be finished."
So the Giant went over to the wood, and sat down and waited. After a while, he got very sleepy, and he thought he would take a little nap until the Kyrofatalapynx should come. In order that the people might wake him up in time, he tied a long rope to one of his ear-rings (his eyes had been a little weak in his youth), and everybody took hold of the end of the rope, and they promised to pull good and hard when they heard the trees crushing in the forest. So the Giant went to sleep, and the people all listened for the Kyrofatalapynx,—holding their breaths, and standing ready to jerk the rope when he should come.
Poor little Ting-a-ling was nearly consumed with curiosity. What was the Kyrofatalapynx? He slipped down to the ground without being noticed by anybody; and, as they all seemed so intent listening and watching, he felt afraid to speak to any of them. Directly a happy thought struck him.
"I will go into the wood myself. Whatever the Kyfymytaly-gyby is, he won't be likely to see me, and I can run and tell Tur-il-i-ra where he is, before he comes out of the wood."
So away he went, and soon was deep in the darkness of the forest. But he could hear no noise, and saw nothing that appeared to have life. Even the very birds and insects seemed to have flown away. After wandering some distance, he suddenly met a fairy, a little bit of a fellow, but somewhat larger than himself, and entirely green. Ting-a-ling spoke to him, and told him what he was after.
"That isn't exactly his name," said the green fairy, politely, "but I know what you mean. If you come this way, I can show him to you."
So Ting-a-ling followed him, and presently they came to the edge of an opening in the middle of the forest; and there, sure enough, was the Kyrofatalapynx. With one of his great red tails coiled around an immense oak-tree, and the other around a huge rock, he sat with his elephantine legs gathered up under him, as if he were about to spring over the tree-tops. But he had no such idea. In his great hands, as big as travelling-trunks, he held a long iron bar, one end of which he was sharpening against a stone. By his side lay an immense bow, made of a tall young yew-tree, and the cord was a long and tough grape-vine. As he sat sharpening this great arrow, he grinned until his horrid teeth looked like a pale-fence around a little garden, and he muttered to himself as he worked away,—"Four hundred and nine more rubs, and I can send it twang through him; twang, twang, twang!"
"Isn't he horrid?" whispered Ting-a-ling.
"Yes, indeed," said the green fairy. "When he was young, he came out of the mouth of a volcano; and the King here, who is very fond of wonderful things, got Tur-il-i-ra to catch him, and chain him up for him in a great yard he had made for him. But now that he is grown up, no chains can hold him, and I expect he will kill the Giant with that great iron arrow, before he can come near him."
"O!" cried Ting-a-ling, "he mustn't do that. We must never let him do that!"
"We!" said the fairy, in a voice of astonishment.
"Yes, yes, I mean us. O, what shall we do? Let's cut his bowstring," said Ting-a-ling, in great excitement, and drawing his little sword. The green fairy, although polite, could not help laughing at this idea; but Ting-a-ling slipped softly to where the bow was lying, a little behind the Kyrofatalapynx, and commenced to cut away at it; but although the green fairy took the sword when he was tired, they could make but little impression on the stout grape-vine, nearly as thick as they were high.
"Let's nick the sword," said Ting-a-ling, "and then it will be a saw." And so, with a sharp little flint, they nicked the edge of it, and the edge of the green fairy's knife (for he had no sword), and as they commenced to saw away as hard as they could at the grape-vine, they heard the Kyrofatalapynx muttering, "Only three hundred and seven more rubs, and then—twang, twang, twang!"
They worked like little heroes now; and as the fairy's sword was of the sharpest steel, they cut a good way into the vine; but just when they were nearly tired out, they heard the words,—"Ninety-three more rubs, and—twang, twang, twang!"
"O, let's saw, let's saw," cried Ting-a-ling (and it's a wonder the Kyrofatalapynx did not hear him), and they worked as hard as they did at first.
"Six more rubs, and—twang, twang, twang!" cried the Kyrofatalapynx, and the two little fairies fell down exhausted and disheartened. The vine was cut but little more than half through.
Up rose the mighty creature; and with his bow and arrow in his hands, he pushed quietly through the wood. The two fairies jumped up in a few minutes, and hurried after him; and as he went very slowly, so as not to be perceived, they reached the edge of the wood just as he crashed out into the open field.
"O!!!" shouted all the people, and they pulled the rope with a terrible jerk. Up sprang the Giant, but there stood the Kyrofatalapynx, with his long iron arrow already fitted into his bow. "Ha, ha!" he cried, "I shall put it through you—twang!" And he drew his arrow to its very head, and all the people fell down on their faces, and even Tur-il-i-ra turned a little pale. But snap! went the bowstring, and down fell the arrow! Then up rushed the Giant, and with one crushing blow of his rock-knobbed club, he laid the Kyrofatalapynx stone-dead!
The King, and the Queen, and the princesses, and all the people, jumped up, and in their wild joy they would have kissed the clothes off the good Giant, had he been willing to wait.
"All right!" he cried; "I must be off. I've a friend at home waiting for me. No thanks. You can stuff him now. Good-by!"
And away he went, and poor little Ting-a-ling was left behind!
When he saw the Giant walking away like a steam-engine on stilts, Ting-a-ling began to cry.
"Did you come with him?" said the green fairy. "Well, he's gone, and you can live with me now."
But Ting-a-ling was so overcome with sorrow, and begged so hard that his new friend should tell him of some way to follow the Giant, that the latter, after thinking a while, took him up into the King's pigeon-house. Warning him to be careful not to let any of the birds pick him up, the green fairy pointed out a gray pigeon to Ting-a-ling.
"Now," said he, "if we can get a string around the middle feather of his tail, we are all right."
"How so?" asked Ting-a-ling.
"Why, then you get on, and start him off, and by pulling the string you can make him go any way you wish; for you know he steers himself with his tail."
"Good!" cried Ting-a-ling, and they both looked for a string. When they had found one, they stole up to the pigeon, who was eating corn, and tied it fast to the middle feather of his tail, without his knowing anything about it.
"Now jump on and I'll start him off," said the green fairy; and Ting-a-ling ran up the pigeon's tail (which almost touched the floor), and took his seat on its back, holding tight on to its feathers. Then the green fairy ran around by the pigeon's head, and shouted in its ear, as it was pecking corn,—"Hawk!"
The bird just lifted up its head, and gave one shoot right out of the window of the pigeon-house. It went high up into the air; and Ting-a-ling, when he looked around and saw which way he ought to go, pulled his string this way and that way, and he found that he could steer the pigeon very well, and even make him keep up in the air, by pulling his tail-feather straight up. So on they went, and they got to the Giant's castle before the Giant himself. The pigeon flew over the castle, but Ting-a-ling steered him back again, and backward and forward, two or three times, until the bird thought he might as well stop there; and so he alighted on the roof, and off jumped Ting-a-ling. The first thing he saw there, after the pigeon had flown away again, was the green fairy!
"Why, where did you come from?" cried Ting-a-ling.
"O," said the other, laughing, and jumping up and down, "I thought I'd come too, and I hung on to his leg. It was nice, sitting up among his warm feathers, when his legs were curled up under him; a great deal better than being on top."
Ting-a-ling was very glad to have his friend with him, and he took him down-stairs. When the Giant got home, there they were, both in the middle of the table in the great hall, ready to welcome him. Tur-il-i-ra did not ask where the green fairy came from; but he was glad to see him, and he ordered supper to be laid on a table out on the lawn; for he was warm with his long walk. After supper, the two fairies came down to the Giant's end of the table, and he told them all that had happened, and how fortunate it was that the bowstring of the Kyrofatalapynx had broken.
"He did it!" cried the green fairy, pointing to Ting-a-ling; and then he told the whole story of their doings, and Ting-a-ling had to explain how he had gone with the Giant. Tur-il-i-ra listened until they had quite finished, and then exclaimed, "Well! I never saw such a little thing as you are, Ting-a-ling, for being in the right place at the right time. Never, never!" And he brought his hand down on the table with such an emphatic bang, that Ting-a-ling and the green fairy shot into the air like rifle-balls. Ting-a-ling went up, up, and up, until a high wind took him, and it blew him over a river, and a wood, and a high hill, and a wide plain; and then he fell down, down, down,—right into the middle of a soft powder puff-ball, with which a lady was powdering her neck.
"Mercy on us!" cried the lady, when she saw a little fairy in the puff-ball that she was just going to put up to her throat.
"It's only I, Nerralina," cried Ting-a-ling, who immediately recognized her; "wait a minute, until I get my breath."
Sure enough, it was Nerralina, the Princess's lady, who had been on a visit to her mother, in a distant country, and returning, had ordered her slaves to pitch her tent where she now was, about half a day's journey from the palace. Ting-a-ling told his story, and they had a nice time, talking of their past adventures; and in the morning Nerralina took Ting-a-ling with her to his home in the palace gardens.
As to the green fairy, he came down in a spider web. When he got out and stood on the grass, he said, "I shall not go back to that Giant. He is good, but he is too violent."
So he went to the river and got a nice chip, and he loaded it with honeysuckles and clover blossoms, and pushed it off into the stream; he then lay down on his back in the middle of his clover, and, sucking a honeysuckle, floated away in the moonlight, down to his home, where he arrived in two or three days, just as his honeysuckles were all gone.
When Tur-il-i-ra saw what he had done, he was in great trouble indeed. He ordered all his slaves to bring their little children, and he gathered up great handfuls of them, and spread them out all over the grass, so that they might look for the two lost fairies. But of course they could not find them; and just as the sun was setting, and the Giant was going to bed in despair, there came a horseman from Nerralina, telling him that Ting-a-ling was safe, and was going home with her. Early in the morning Tur-il-i-ra went to the palace gardens, and Ting-a-ling seeing him, they went down to the wood where they were when this story opened. Tur-il-i-ra wanted Ting-a-ling to go back and finish his visit.
"No," said the fairy. "I like you very much indeed, but I'm afraid I'm most too little for your house."
"Perhaps that's true," said the Giant; "and when you want to see them, there are so many good people here in the palace. I am sure I like common human beings very much, and I would wish to be with them always, if they were not so little."
"I like them too," said Ting-a-ling, "and would live with them all the time, if they were not so big."
|Page 56||Mahalla changed to Mahallah|
|75||wofully changed to woefully|
|138||afrites changes to Afrites|
***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK TING-A-LING***
******* This file should be named 20836-h.txt or 20836-h.zip *******
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:
Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will be renamed.