(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Once on a time"

NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES 



3 3333 08119 2763 




ERCKCC 

J3024& 





It 















ONC 



ON 




ONCE ON A 



TIM 

By 

A.A.MILNE 



M 



DECORATED 
BY CHARLES 
ROBINSON 



,jr?yp 



GROSSET & DUNLAP 
PUBLISHERS NEW YORK 

By Arrangement with G. P. Putnam's Sons 




Copyright, 1922 

by 
A. A. Milne 



THE 



YOFtf 



t ^ 



Made in the vtuted States of America 



M 




PREFACE 

fTTAHIS book was written in 1915, for the 
amusement of my wife and myself at 
a time when life was not very amusing; 
it was published at the end of 1917; was re- 
viewed, if at all, as one of a parcel, by some 
brisk uncle from the Tiny Tots Department; 
and died quietly, without seriously detract- 
ing from the interest which was being taken 
in the World War, then in progress. 



PREFACE 

It may be that the circumstances in which 
the book was written have made me unduly 
fond of it. When, as sometimes happens, I 
am introduced to a stranger who starts the 
conversation on the right lines by praising, 
however insincerely, my books, I always say, 
'But you have not read the best one. v Nine 
times out of ten it is so. The tenth takes a 
place in the family calendar; St. Michael or 
St. Agatha, as the case may be, a red-letter 
or black-letter saint, according to whether 
the book was bought or borrowed. But there 
are few such saints, and both my publisher 
and I have the feeling (so common to pub- 
lishers and authors) that there ought to be 
more. So here comes the book again, in a 
new dress, with new decorations, yet much, 
as far as I am coiicsmed, the same book, 

'.' '. . .'. . : 

making the same appeal to me; but, let us 
hope, a new appeal, this* time, to others. 

** - ."''** 

For whom, thesi:,' is the book intended? 
That is the trouble. Unless I can say, "For 

vi 



PREFACE 

those, young or old, who like the things 
which I like," I find it difficult to answer. Is 
it a children's book? Well, what do we mean 
by that? Is The Wind in the Willows a chil- 
dren's book? Is Alice in Wonderland? Is 
Treasure Island? These are masterpieces 
which we read with pleasure as children, but 
with how much more pleasure when we are 
grown-up. In any case, what do we mean 
by "children"? A boy of three, a girl of six, 
a boy of ten, a girl of fourteen are they all 
to like the same thing? And is a book 'suit- 
able for a boy of tw r elve' any more likely 
to please a boy of twelve than a modern novel 
is likely to please a man of thirty-seven ; even 
if the novel be described truly as 'suitable 
for a man of thirty-seven"? I confess that 
I cannot grapple with these difficult problems. 
But I am very sure of this: that no one 
can write a book which children will like, 
unless he write it for himself first. That 
being so, I shall say boldly that this is a story 


Vll 



PREFACE 

for grown-ups. How grown-up I did not real- 
ise until I received a letter from an unknown 
reader a few weeks after its first publication; 
a letter which said that he was delighted with 
my clever satires of the Kaiser, Mr. Lloyd 
George and Mr. Asquith, but he could not be 
sure which of the characters were meant to be 
Mr. Winston Churchill and Mr. Bonar Law. 
Would I tell him on the enclosed postcard? I 
replied that they were thinly disguised on the 
title-page as Messrs. Hodder & Stoughton. In 
fact, it is not that sort of book. 

But, as you see, I am still finding it difficult 
to explain just what sort of book it is. Per- 
haps no explanation is necessary. Read in it 
what you like; read it to whomever you like; 
be of what age you like; it can only fall into 
one of the two classes. Either you will enjoy 
it, or you won't. 

It is that sort of book. 

A. A. MILNE. 



Vlll 




CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 



I.- -THE KING OF EURALIA HAS A VISITOR 
TO BREAKFAST .... 

II. THE CHANCELLOR OF BARODIA HAS A 
LONG WALK HOME 

III.- -THE KING OF EURALIA DRAWS HIS 
SWORD ..... 

IV. THE PRINCESS HYACINTH LEAVES IT 
TO THE COUNTESS 

V. BELVANE INDULGES HER HOBBY 
VI. THERE ARE NO WIZARDS IN BARODIA 

VII. THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A LETTER 
AND WRITES ONE 

VIII. PRINCE UDO SLEEPS BADLY 

IX. THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

ix 



PAGB 



19 
31 

47 
63 
81 

97 
115 
131 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

X. CHARLOTTE PATACAKE ASTONISHES 

THE CRIITCS .... 143 

XI. WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO WITH THE 

EARS ...... 159 

XII. WE DECIDE TO WRITE TO UDO'S 

FATHER ..... 177 

XIII. "PINK" RHYMES WITH "THINK" . 193 
XIV. "WHY CAN'T YOU BE LIKE WIGGS?" 209 

XV. THERE is A LOVER WAITING FOR 

HYACINTH ..... 225 

XVI. BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF . . 231 

XVII. THE KING OF BARODIA DROPS THE 

WHISKER HABIT . . . 249 

XVIII. THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST ENTER- 
TAINS Two VERY YOUNG PEOPLE . 273 

XIX. UDO BEHAVES LIKE A GENTLEMAN . 293 

XX. CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD STORY 

WHEN HE HEARS IT . 309 

XXI. A SERPENT COMING AFTER UDO . 327 

XXII. THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES GO BACK 

AGAIN 345 




ILLUSTRATIONS 



PAGE 

A MAP OF EURALIA SHOWING THE ADJACENT 
COUNTRY OF BABODIA AND THE FAR-DISTANT 
ARABY ....... 2 

HE WAS A MAN OF SIMPLE TASTES . . 3 
"MOST EXTRAORDINARY," SAID THE KlNG . 7~8 

HE FOUND THE KlNG NURSING A BENT WHISKER 

AND IN THE VERY VlLEST OF TEMPERS 25-26 

"TRY IT ON ME," CRIED THE COUNTESS 37-38 

FIVE TIMES HE HAD COME BACK TO GIVE HER HIS 

LAST INSTRUCTIONS . . . 53-54 

ARMED TO THE TEETH, AMAZON AFTER AMAZON 

MARCHED BY .... 75~76 

WHEN THE RESPECTIVE ARMIES RETURNED TO 
CAMP THEY FOUND TfiER MAJESTIES 
ASLEEP 89-90 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

THE RABBIT WAS GONE, AND THERE WAS A FAIRY 

IN FRONT OF HER .... 101-102 

As EVENING FELL THEY CAME TO A WOODMAN'S 
COTTAGE AT THE FOOT OF A HIGH HILL 



"CORONEL, HERE I AM," SAID UDO PATHETI- 
CALLY, AND HE STEPPED OUT . . 133-134 

TWENTY-ONE MINUTES LATER HENRIETTA 
CROSSBUNS WAS ACKNOWLEDGING A BAG 
OF GOLD ..... 149-150 

PRINCESS HYACINTH GAVE A SHRIEK AND 

FALTERED SLOWLY BACKWARDS . 161-162 

"NOW WE CAN TALK," SAID HYACINTH . 179-180 

HE FORGOT HIS MANNERS, AND MADE A JUMP 

TOWARDS HER .... 199-200 

SHE GLIDED GRACEFULLY BEHIND THE SUNDIAL 

IN A PRETTY AFFECTATION OF ALARM 199-200 

WHEN ANYBODY OF SUPERIOR STATION OR AGE 
CAME INTO THE ROOM SHE ROSE AND 

CURTSIED ..... 217-218 

AND THEN SHE DANCED . . . 227-228 

"GooD MORNING," SAID BEL VANE . 235-236 

THE TENT SEEMED TO SWIM BEFORE HIS EYES, 

AND HE KNEW NO MORE . . 257-258 

SHE TURNED ROUND AND WENT OFF DAINTILY 

DOWN THE HILL .... 279-280 

LET ME PRESENT TO YOU MY FRIEND THE DuKE 

CORONEL 297-298 

xii 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

As THE TOWERS OF THE CASTLE CAME IN 
SIGHT, MERRIWIG DREW A DEEP BREATH 
OF HAPPINESS .... 311-312 

BELVANE LEADING THE WAY WITH HER FINGER 

TO HER LIPS ..... 337-338 

MERRIWIG FOLLOWING WITH AN EXAGGERATED 

CAUTION 337-338 

HE WAS A PLEASANT-LOOKING PERSON, WITH A 

ROUND CLEAN-SHAVEN FACE . . 351-352 

ROGER SCURVILEGS 358 




Xlll 



ONCE 



ON 





adjacent 
country or 

BarocJia 



and tlie far 
distent 

flrafov 





He was a Man 

of 
Simple Tastes 



CHAPTER I 



THE KING OF EURALIA HAS A VISITOR TO 

BREAKFAST 

KING MERRIWIG of Euralia sat at 
breakfast on his castle walls. He 
lifted the gold cover from the gold dish 
in front of him, selected a trout and conveyed 
it carefully to his gold plate. He was a man 
of simple tastes, but when you have an aunt 
with the newly acquired gift of turning any- 
thing she touches into gold, you must let her 

3 



THE KING OF EURALIA HAS 

practise sometimes. In another age it might 
have been fretwork. 

"Ah,' said the King, 'here you are, my 
dear." He searched for his napkin, but 
the Princess had already kissed him lightly 
on the top of the head, and was sitting in 
her place opposite to him. 

"Good morning, Father,' she said; 'I'm 
a little late, aren't I? I've been riding in the 
forest.'' 

"Any adventures?' asked the King 
casually. 

"Nothing, except it's a beautiful morning." 

"Ah, well, perhaps the country isn't what 
it was. Now when I was a young man, you 
simply couldn't go into the forest without 
an adventure of some sort. The extraordinary 
things one encountered! Witches, giants, 

dw^arfs . It was there that I first met 

your mother," he added thoughtfully. 

"I wish I remembered my mother,' said 
Hyacinth. 

4 



A VISITOR TO BREAKFAST 

The King coughed and looked at her a 
little nervously. 

"Seventeen years ago she died, Hyacinth, 
when you were only six months old. I have 
been wondering lately whether I haven't 
been a little remiss in leaving you motherless 
so long.' : 

The Princess looked puzzled. 'But it 
wasn't your fault, dear, that mother died.' : 

"Oh, no, no, I'm not saying that. As you 
know, a dragon carried her off and well, 
there it was. But supposing" he looked 
at her shyly "I had married again. 51 

The Princess was startled. 

"Who? "she asked. 

The King peered into his flagon. 'Well,' 
he said, "there are people.' 1 

"If it had been somebody very nice,' 
said the Princess wistfully, "it might have 
been rather lovely.' 1 

The King gazed earnestly at the outside 
of his flagon. 

5 



THE KING OF EURALIA HAS 

"Why 'might have been?' ' he said. 

The Princess was still puzzled. 'But I'm 
grown up," she said; "I don't want a mother 
so much now." 

The King turned his flagon round and 
studied the other side of it. 

'A mother's er tender hand,' he said, 

"is er never ' and then the outrageous 

thing happened. 



It was all because of a birthday present 
to the King of Barodia, and the present was 
nothing less than a pair of seven-league boots. 
The King being a busy man, it was a week or 
more before he had an opportunity of trying 
those boots. Meanwhile he used to talk about 
them at meals, and he would polish them up 
every night before he went to bed. When 
the great day came for the first trial of them to 
be made, he took a patronising farewell of his 
wife and family, ignored the many eager noses 
pressed against the upper windows of the 

6 



A VISITOR TO BREAKFAST 

Palace, and sailed off. The motion, as per- 
haps you know, is a little disquieting at first, 
but one soon gets used to it. After that it 
is fascinating. He had gone some two thou- 
sand miles before he realised that there might 
be a difficulty about finding his way back. 
The difficulty proved at least as great as he 
had anticipated. For the rest of that day he 
toured backwards and forwards across the 
country; and it w r as by the merest accident 
that a very angry King shot in through an 
open pantry window in the early hours of the 
morning. He removed his boots and went 
softly to bed. . . . 

It was, of course, a lesson to him. He 
decided that in the future he must proceed 
by a recognised route, sailing lightly from 
landmark to landmark. Such a route his 
Geographers prepared for him an early 
morning constitutional, of three hundred miles 
or so, to be taken ten times before breakfast. 
He gave himself a week in which to recover 

7 




Most extraordinary, 
said the King 




\. 



THE KING OF EURALIA HAS 

his nerve and then started out on the first 
of them. 

Now the Kingdom of Euralia adjoined 
that of Barodia, but whereas Barodia was 
a flat country, Euralia was a land of hills. 
It was natural then that the Court Geo- 
graphers, in search of landmarks, should have 
looked towards Euralia; and over Euralia 
accordingly, about the time when cottage 
and castle alike were breakfasting, the King 
of Barodia soared and dipped and soared and 
dipped again. 

"A mother's tender hand,' said the King 
of Euralia, 'is er never good gracious! 
What's that?" 

There was a sudden rush of air; something 
came for a moment between his Majesty and 
the sun; and then all was quiet again. 

'What was it?' asked Hyacinth, slightly 
alarmed. 

'Most extraordinary," said the King. "It 

8 



A VISITOR TO BREAKFAST 

left in my mind an impression of ginger 
whiskers and large boots. Do we know any- 
body like that?" 

"The King of Barodia,' said Hyacinth, 
"has red whiskers, but I don't know about 
his boots.' 1 

"But what could he have been doing up 
there? Unless 

There was another rush of wind in the 
opposite direction; once more the sun was 
obscured, and this time, plain for a moment 
for all to see, appeared the rapidly dwindling 
back view of the King of Barodia on his way 
home to breakfast. 

Merriwig rose with dignity. 

"You're quite right, Hyacinth,' he said 
sternly; "it was the King of Barodia. ' ! 

Hyacinth looked troubled. 

4 He oughtn't to come over anybody's 
breakfast table quite so quickly as that. 
Ought he, Father?" 

*A lamentable display of manners, my 

9 



THE KING OF EURALIA HAS 

dear. I shall withdraw now and compose 
a stiff note to him. The amenities must be 
observed.' 1 

Looking as severe as a naturally jovial 
face would permit him, and wondering a little 
if he had pronounced 'amenities' right, he 
strode to the library. 

The library was his Majesty's favourite 
apartment. Here in the mornings he would 
discuss affairs of state with his Chancellor, 
or receive any distinguished visitors who 
were come to his kingdom in search of adven- 
ture. Here in the afternoon, with a copy of 
What to say to a Wizard or some such book 
taken at random from the shelves, he would 
give himself up to meditation. 

And it was the distinguished visitors of 
the morning who gave him most to think 
about in the afternoon. There were at this 
moment no fewer than seven different Princes 
engaged upon seven different enterprises, to 

whom, in the event of a successful conclusion, 

10 



A VISITOR TO BREAKFAST 

he had promised the hand of Hyacinth and 
half his kingdom. No wonder he felt that 
she needed the guiding hand of a mother. 

The stiff note to Barodia was not destined 
to be written. He was still hesitating be- 
tween two different kinds of nib, when the 
door was flung open and the fateful name of 
the Countess Belvane was announced. 

The Countess Belvane! What can I say 
which will bring home to you that wonder- 
ful, terrible, fascinating woman? Mastered 
as she was by an overweening ambition, 
utterly unscrupulous in her methods of 
achieving her purpose, none the less her 
adorable humanity betrayed itself in a passion 
for diary-keeping and a devotion to the 
simpler forms of lyrical verse. That she is 
the villain of the piece I know well; in his 
Euralia Past and Present the eminent his- 
torian, Roger Scurvilegs, does not spare her; 
but that she had her great qualities I should 
be the last to deny. 

11 



THE KING OF EURALIA HAS 

She had been writing poetry that morn- 
ing, and she wore green. She always wore 
green when the Muse was upon her : a pleasing 
habit which, whether as a warning or an 
inspiration, modern poets might do well to 
imitate. She carried an enormous diary under 
her arm; and in her mind several alternative 
ways of putting down her reflections on her 
way to the Palace. 

'Good morning, dear Countess,' said the 
King, rising only too gladly from his nibs; 
'an early visit." 

: You don't mind, your Majesty?' said 
the Countess anxiously. 'There was a point 
in our conversation yesterday about which 
I was not quite certain ' 

'What were we talking about yesterday?' 

'Oh, your Majesty,' said the Countess, 

'affairs of state,' and she gave him that 

wicked, innocent, impudent, and entirely 

scandalous look which he never could resist, 

and you couldn't either for that matter. 



A VISITOR TO BREAKFAST 

'Affairs of state, of course,' smiled the 
King. 

'Why, I made a special note of it in my 
diary." 

She laid down the enormous volume and 
turned lightly over the pages. 

'Here we are! 'Thursday. His Majesty 
did me the honour to consult me about the 
future of his daughter, the Princess Hyacinth. 
Remained to tea and was very- I can't 

quite make this w r ord out." 

'Let me look,' said the King, his rubi- 
cund face becoming yet more rubicund. 'It 
looks like 'charming/ ' he said casually. 

'Fancy!' said Belvane. 'Fancy my 
writing that! I put down just what comes 
into my head at the time, you know." She 
made a gesture with her hand indicative of 
some one who puts down just what comes 
into her head at the time, and returned to 
her diary. "Remained to tea, and was 
very charming. Mused afterwards on the 

13 



THE KING OF EURALIA HAS 

mutability of life!' She looked up at him 
with wide-open eyes. 'I often muse when 
I'm alone," she said. 

The King still hovered over the diary. 
'Have you any more entries like like that 
last one? May Hook?" 

"Oh, your Majesty! I'm afraid it's quite 
private. " She closed the book quickly. 

"I thought I saw some poetry,' said the 
King. 

"Just a little ode to a favourite linnet. 
It wouldn't interest your Majesty." 

"I adore poetry," said the King, who had 
himself written a rhymed couplet which 
could be said either forwards or backwards, 
and in the latter position was useful for re- 
moving enchantments. According to the 
eminent historian, Roger Scurvilegs, it had 
some vogue in Euralia and went like this : 



Bo, boll, bill, bole. 
Wo, woll, will, wole.' 



A pleasing idea, temperately expressed. 

14 



A VISITOR TO BREAKFAST 

The Countess, of course, was only pre- 
tending. Really she was longing to read it. 
"It's quite a little thing, " she said. 



. . 



Hail to thee, blithe linnet, 

Bird thou clearly art, 
That from bush or in it 

Pourest thy full heart! 
And leads the feathered choir in song 

Taking the treble part." 



'Beautiful/ said the King, and one must 
agree with him. Many years after, another 
poet called Shelley plagiarised the idea, but 
handled it in a more artificial, and, to my way 
of thinking, decidedly inferior manner. 

'Was it a real bird?" said the King. 
"An old favourite/ 1 

'Was it pleased about it?' 

'Alas, your Majesty, it died without hear- 
ing it." 

"Poor bird!" said his Majesty; "I think 
it would have liked it." 

Meanwhile Hyacinth, innocent of the near- 

15 



THE KING OF EURALIA HAS 

ness of a mother, remained on the castle 
walls and tried to get on with her breakfast. 
But she made little progress with it. After 
all, it is annoying continually to look up from 
your bacon, or whatever it is, and see a foreign 
monarch passing overhead. Eighteen more 
times the King of Barodia took Hyacinth in 
his stride. At the end of the performance, 
feeling rather giddy, she went down to her 
father. 

She found him alone in the library, a foolish 
smile upon his face, but no sign of a letter 
to Barodia in front of him. 

'Have you sent the Note yet?" she asked. 

'Note? Note?" he said, bewildered, "what 
oh, you mean the Stiff Note to the King of 
Barodia? I'm just planning it, my love. The 
exact shade of stiffness, combined with cour- 
tesy, is a little difficult to hit." 

'I shouldn't be too courteous,' said Hya- 
cinth; 'he came over eighteen more times 
after you'd gone." 

16 



A VISITOR TO BREAKFAST 

"Eighteen, eighteen, eight my dear, it's 
outrageous.' 1 

"I've never had such a crowded breakfast 
before.' 1 

"It's positively insulting, Hyacinth. This 
is no occasion for Notes. We will talk to 
him in a language that he will understand.' 1 

And he went out to speak to the Captain 
of his Archers. 




17 




CHAPTER II 

THE CHANCELLOR OF BARODIA HAS A LONG 

WALK HOME 

ONCE more it was early morning on the 
castle walls. 

The King sat at his breakfast table, 
a company of archers drawn up in front of him. 
'Now you all understand," he said. 
"When the King of Baro when a certain 
well, when I say 'when,' I want you all to 
fire your arrows into the air. You are to 

19 



THE CHANCELLOR OF BARODIA 

take no aim; you are just to shoot your arrows 
upwards, and er I want to see who gets 
highest. Should anything er should any- 
thing brush up against them on their way 
not of course that it's likely well, in that case 
er in that case, something will er brush 
up against them. After all, what should?' 

'Quite so, Sire,' said the Captain, "or 
rather, not at all.' 1 

: Very well. To your places.' 1 

Each archer fitted an arrow to his bow and 
took up his position. A look-out man had 
been posted. Everything was ready. 

The King was decidedly nervous. He 
wandered from one archer to another asking 
after this man's wife and family, praising 
the polish on that man's quiver, or advising 
him to stand with his back a little more to 
the sun. Now and then he would hurry off 
to the look-out man on a distant turret, point 
out Barodia on the horizon to him, and hurry 
back again. 

20 



HAS A LONG WALK HOME 

The look-out knew all about it. 

'Royalty over," he bellowed suddenly. 

"When!' roared the King, and a cloud 
of arrows shot into air. 

'Well done!' cried Hyacinth, clapping 
her hands. *I mean, how could you? You 
might have hurt him.' : 

"Hyacinth,' said the King, turning sud- 
denly; "you here?' 

'I have just come up. Did you hit him?' 

"Hit who?" 

'The King of Barodia, of course,' 

"The King of My dear child, what 

couid the King of Barodia be doing here? 
My archers were aiming at a hawk that they 
saw in the distance.' 3 He beckoned to the 
Captain. 'Did you hit that hawk?' he 
asked. 

'With one shot only, Sire. In the whisk 
in the tail feathers.' 1 

The King turned to Hyacinth. 
'With one shot only in the whisk in the 

21 



THE CHANCELLOR OF BARODIA 

tail feathers,' he said. "What was it, my 
dear, that you were saying about the King 
of Barodia?' 

"Oh, Father, you are bad. You hit the 
poor man right in the whisker.' 1 

"His Majesty of Barodia! And in the 
whisker! My dear child, this is terrible! 
But what can he have been doing up there? 
Dear, dear, this is really most unfortunate. 
I must compose a note of apology about 
this." 

"I should leave the first note to him," said 
Hyacinth. 

"Yes, yes, you're right. No doubt he will 
wish to explain how he came to be there. Just 
a moment, dear." 

He went over to his archers, who were 
drawn up in line again. 

"You may take your men down now," he 
said to the Captain. 

"Yes, your Majesty." 

His Majesty looked quickly round the 



HAS A LONG WALK HOME 

castle walls, and then leant confidentially 
towards the Captain. 

"Er which was the man who er" he 
fingered his cheek "er quite so. The one 
on the left? Ah, yes.' : He went to the man 
on the left and put a bag of gold into his hand. 

"You have a very good style with the bow, 
my man. Your wrist action is excellent. I 
have never seen an arrow go so high. ); 

The company saluted and withdrew. The 
King and Hyacinth sat down to breakfast. 

"A little mullet, my dear?' he said. 



The Hereditary Grand Chancellor of Ba- 
rodia never forgot that morning, nor did he 
allow his wife to forget it. His opening, 

" That reminds me, dear, of the day when ' 

though the signal of departure for any guests, 
allowed no escape for his family. They had 
to have it. 

And indeed it was a busy day for him. 

23 



THE CHANCELLOR OF BARODIA 

Summoned to the Palace at nine o'clock, he 
found the King nursing a bent whisker and 
in the very vilest of tempers. His Majesty 
was for war at once, the Chancellor leant 
towards the Stiff Note. 

"At least, your Majesty,' he begged, 
"let me consult the precedents first.' 1 

; There is no precedent,' said the King 
coldly, "for such an outrage as this." 

"Not precisely, Sire; but similar unfor- 
tunate occurrences have occurred." 
'It was worse than an occurrence." 

" I should have said an outrage, your Maj- 
esty. Your late lamented grandfather was un- 
fortunate enough to come beneath the spell of 
the King of Araby, under which he was com- 
pelled or perhaps I should say preferred 
to go about on his hands and knees for several 
weeks. Your Majesty may recall how the 
people in their great loyalty adopted a similar 
mode of progression. Now although your Maj- 
esty's case is not precisely on all fours " 

24 



HAS A LONG WALK HOME 

'Not at all on all fours,' said the King 
coldly. 

'An unfortunate metaphor; I should say 
that although your Majesty's case is not 
parallel, the procedure adopted in your re- 
vered grandfather's case- 

'I don't care what you do with your 
whiskers; I don't care what anybody does 
with his whiskers," said the King, still sooth- 
ing his own tenderly; 'I want the King of 
Euralia's blood.' 1 He looked round the 
Court. : To any one who will bring me the 
head of the King, I w r ill give the hand of my 
daughter in marriage.' 1 

There was a profound silence. . . . 

'Which daughter?' said a cautious voice 
at last. 

"The eldest," said the King. 

There was another profound silence. . . . 

'My suggestion, your Majesty,' said the 
Chancellor, 'is that for the present there 
should be merely an exchange of Stiff Notes; 

25 




He found the King nursing a bent whisker 
and in the very vilest of tempers 



THE CHANCELLOR OF BARODIA 

and that meanwhile we scour the kingdom 
for an enchanter who shall take some pleasant 
revenge for us upon his Majesty of Euralia. 
For instance, Sire, a king whose head has been 
permanently fixed on upside-down lacks some- 
what of that regal dignity which alone can 
command the respect of his subjects. A 
couple of noses, again, placed at different 
angles, so they cannot both be blown together 



"Yes, yes,' said the King impatiently, 
"/'// think of the things, if once you can find 
the enchanter. But they are not so common 
nowadays. Besides, enchanters are delicate 
things to work with. They have a habit of 
forgetting which side they are on.' : 

The Chancellor's mouth drooped piteously. 

"Well,' said the King condescendingly, 
"I'll tell you what we'll do. You may send 
one Stiff Note and then we will declare war.' : 

"Thank you, your Majesty,' said the 

Chancellor. 

26 



HAS A LONG WALK HOME 

So the Stiff Note was dispatched. It 
pointed out that his Majesty of Barodia, 
while in the act of taking his early morning 
constitutional, had been severely insulted 
by an arrow. This arrow, though fortunately 
avoiding the more vital parts of his Majesty's 
person, went so far as to wound a favourite 
whisker. For this the fullest reparation must 
be made . . . and so forth and so on. 

Euralia's reply was not long delayed. It 
expressed the deepest concern at the unhappy 
accident which had overtaken a friendly 
monarch. On the morning in question, his 
Majesty had been testing his archers in a 
shooting competition at a distant hawk; 
which competition, it might interest his 
Majesty of Barodia to know, had been won by 
Henry Smallnose, a bowman of considerable 
promise. In the course of the competition it 
was noticed that a foreign body of some sort 
brushed up against one of the arrows, but as 
this in no way affected the final placing of the 

27 



THE CHANCELLOR OF BARODIA 

competitors, little attention was paid to it* 
His Majesty of Barodia might rest assured 
that the King had no wish to pursue the 
matter farther. Indeed, he was always glad 
to welcome his Barodian Majesty on these 
occasions. Other shooting competitions would 
be arranged from time to time, and if his 
Majesty happened to be passing at the 
moment, the King of Euralia hoped that he 
would come down and join them. Trusting 
that her Majesty and their Royal Highnesses 
were well, . . . and so on and so forth. 

The Grand Chancellor of Barodia read 
this answer to his Stiff Note with a growing 
feeling of uneasiness. It was he who had 
exposed his Majesty to this fresh insult; and, 
unless he could soften it in some way, his 
morning at the Palace might be a painful one. 

As he entered the precincts, he wondered 
whether the King would be wearing the 
famous boots, and whether they kicked seven 

leagues as easily as they strode them. He 

28 



HAS A LONG WALK HOME 

felt more and more that there were notes 
which you could break gently, and notes 
which you couldn't. . . . 

Five minutes later, as he started on his 
twenty-one mile walk home, he realised that 
this was one of the ones which you couldn't. 
..... * * 

This, then, was the real reason of the war 
between Euralia and Barodia. I am aware 
that in saying this I differ from the eminent 
historian, Roger Scurvilegs. In Chapter IX 
of his immortal work, Euralia Past and Present, 
he attributes the quarrel between the two 
countries to quite other causes. The King of 
Barodia, he says, demanded the hand of the 
Princess Hyacinth for his eldest son. The 
King of Euralia made some commonplace 
condition as that his Royal Highness should 
first ride his horse up a glassy mountain in the 
district, a condition which his Majesty of 
Barodia strongly resented. I am afraid that 
Roger is incurably romantic; I have had to 

29 



THE CHANCELLOR OF BARODIA 

speak to him about it before. There was 
nothing of the sentimental in the whole busi- 
ness, and the facts are exactly as I have 
narrated them. 




SO 




CHAPTER III 

THE KING OF EURALIA DRAWS HIS SWORD 

NO doubt you have already guessed that 
it was the Countess Belvane who dic- 
tated the King of Euralia's answer. 
Left to himself, Merriwig would have said, 
* Serve you jolly well right for stalking over 
my kingdom.' 1 His repartee was never very 
subtle. Hyacinth would have said, 'Of 
course we're awfully sorry, but a whisker isn't 
very bad, is it? and you really oughtn't to come 
to breakfast without being asked.' 1 The 

31 



THE KING OF EURALIA 

Chancellor would have scratched his head 
for a long time, and then said, 'Referring 
to Chap VII, Para 259 of the King's Regula- 
tions we notice . . . ' 

But Belvane had her own way of doing 
things; and if you suggest that she wanted 
to make Barodia's declaration of war in- 
evitable, well, the story will show whether 
you are right in supposing that she had her 
reasons. It came a little hard on the Chan- 
cellor of Barodia, but the innocent must needs 
suffer for the ambitions of the unprincipled 
a maxim I borrow from Euralia Past and 
Present; Roger in his moral vein. 

"Well,' said Merriwig to the Countess, 
"that's done it." 

"It really is war?" asked Belvane. 

" It is. Hyacinth is looking out my armour 
at this moment.' 1 

"What did the King of Barodia say? 5 

"He didn't say anything. He wrote 
' W A R ' in red on a dirty bit of paper, pinned 

32 



DRAWS HIS SWORD 

it to my messenger's ear, and sent him back 
again." 

"How very crude," said the Countess. 

"Oh, I thought it was er rather for- 
cible,' said the King awkwardly. Secretly 
he had admired it a good deal and wished 
that he had been the one to do it. 

"Of course,' said the Countess, with a 
charming smile, 'that sort of thing depends 
so very much on who does it. Now from 
your Majesty it would have seemed dig- 
nified." 

"He must have been very angry," said the 
King, picking up first one and then another 
of a number of swords which lay in front of 
him. "I wish I had seen his face when he 
got my Note.' ; 

"So do I,' sighed the Countess. She 
wished it much more than the King. It is 
the tragedy of writing a good letter that you 
cannot be there when it is opened : a maxim of 

my own, the thought never having occurred 
3 33 



THE KING OF EURALIA 

to Roger Scurvilegs, who was a dull corre- 
spondent. 

The King was still taking up and putting 
down his swords. 

'It's very awkward,' he muttered; 'I 

wonder if Hyacinth : He went to the 

door and called, "Hyacinth!' 

'Coming, Father,' called back Hyacinth, 
from a higher floor. 

The Countess rose and curtsied deeply. 

'Good morning, your Royal Highness.' 1 

' Good morning, Countess, ' ' said Hyacinth 
brightly. She liked the Countess (you 
couldn't help it), but rather wished she 
didn't. 

'Oh, Hyacinth,' said the King, 'come 
and tell me about these swords. Which is 
my magic one?' 

Hyacinth looked at him blankly. 

"Oh, Father," she said. "I don't know 
at all. Does it matter very much?' 

'My dear child, of course it matters. 

34 



DRAWS HIS SWORD 

Supposing I am fighting the King of Barodia 
and I have my magic sword, then I'm bound 
to win. Supposing I haven't, then I'm not 
bound to.' 

"Supposing you both had magic swords,' 
said Belvane. It was the sort of thing she 
would say. 

The King looked up slowly at her and 
began to revolve the idea in his mind. 

"Well, really," he said, "I hadn't thought 
of that. Upon my word, I- He turned 

to his daughter. 'Hyacinth, what would 
happen if we both had magic swords?' 

"I suppose you'd go on fighting for ever,' 
said Hyacinth. 

"Or until the magic wore out of one of 
them," said Belvane innocently. 

"There must be something about it some- 
where,' said the King, whose morning was 
in danger of being quite spoilt by this new 
suggestion; "I'd ask the Chancellor to look 

it up, only he's so busy just now." 

35 



THE KING OF EURALIA 

"He'd have plenty of time while the combat 
was going on,' said Belvane thoughtfully. 
Wonderful creature! she saw already the 
Chancellor hurrying up to announce that the 
King of Euralia had won, at the very moment 
when he lay stretched on the ground by a 
mortal thrust from his adversary. 

The King turned to his swords again. 

"Well, anyway, I'm going to be sure of 
mine/ he said. ' Hyacinth, haven't you 
any idea which it is?' He added in rather 
a hurt voice, 'Naturally I left the marking 
of my swords to you.'' 

His daughter examined the swords one 
by one. 

"Here it is," she cried. "It's got 'M' on 
it for 'magic.' 

"Or 'Merriwig,' said the Countess to 
her diary. 

The expression of joy on the King's face 
at his daughter's discovery had just time to 
appear and fade away again. 

36 



DRAWS HIS SWORD 

"You are not being very helpful this 
morning, Countess," he said severely. 

Instantly the Countess was on her feet, 
her diary thrown to the floor no, never 
thrown- -laid gently on the floor, and herself, 
hands clasped at her breast, a figure of re- 
proachful penitence before him. 

"Oh, your Majesty, forgive me if your 
Majesty had only asked me- -I didn't know 
your Majesty wanted me- -I thought her 
Royal Highness- But of course I'll find 

your Majesty's sword for you.' : Did she 
stroke his head as she said this? I have often 
wondered. It would be like her impudence, 
and her motherliness, and her and, in fact, 
like her. Euralia Past and Present is silent 
upon the point. Roger Scurvilegs, who had 
only seen Belvane at the unimpressionable 
age of two, would have had it against her if 
he could, so perhaps there is nothing in it. 

'There!' she said, and she picked out 
the magic sword almost at once. 

37 




' Try it on me" 
cried the Countess 



THE KING OF EURALIA 

'Then I'll get back to my work,' said 
Hyacinth cheerfully, and left them to each 
other. 

The King, smiling happily, girded on his 
sword. But a sudden doubt assailed him. 

"Are you sure it's the one?' 

' Try it on me, " cried the Countess superbly, 
falling on her knees and stretching up her 
arms to him. The toe of her little shoe 
touched her diary; its presence there uplifted 
her. Even as she knelt she saw herself de- 
scribing the scene. How do you spell 
Coffered"? she wondered. 

I think the King was already in love with 
her, though he found it so difficult to say 
the decisive words. But even so he could 
only have been in love a week or two; a fort- 
night in the last forty years ; and he had worn 
a sword since he was twelve. In a crisis it is 
the old love and not the greater love which 
wins (Roger's, but I think I agree with him), 
and instinctively the King drew his sword. 

38 



DRAWS HIS SWORD 

If it were magic a scratch would kill. Now he 
would know. 

Her enemies said that the Countess could 
not go pale; she had her faults, but this was 
not one of them. She whitened as she saw 
the King standing over her with drawn 
sword. A hundred thoughts chased each 
other through her mind. She wondered if 
the King would be sorry afterwards; she 
wondered what the minstrels would sing of 
her, and if her diary would ever be made 
public; most of all she wondered why she had 
been such a fool, such a melodramatic fool. 

The King came to himself with a sudden 
start. Looking slightly ashamed he put his 
sword back in its scabbard, coughed once or 
twice to cover his confusion, and held his hand 
out to the Countess to assist her to rise. 

'Don't be absurd, Countess/ he said. 
'As if we could spare you at a time like 
this. Sit down and let us talk matters over 
seriously.' 5 

39 



THE KING OF EURALIA 

A trifle bewildered by the emotions she 
had gone through, Belvane sat down, the 
beloved diary clasped tightly in her arms. 
Life seemed singularly sweet just then, the 
only drawback being that the minstrels would 
not be singing about her after all. Still, one 
cannot have everything. 

The King walked up and down the room 
as he talked. 

"I am going away to fight," he said, "and 
I leave my dear daughter behind. In my 
absence, her Royal Highness will of course 
rule the country. I want her to feel that she 
can lean upon you, Countess, for advice and 
support. I know that I can trust you, for you 
have just given me a great proof of your 
devotion and courage.' 3 

"Oh, your Majesty!' said Belvane depre- 
catingly, but feeling very glad that it hadn't 
been wasted. 

"Hyacinth is young and inexperienced. 

She needs a a ' 

40 



DRAWS HIS SWORD 

:< A mother's guiding hand,' said Belvane 
softly. 

The King started and looked away. It 
was really too late to propose now; he had so 
much to do before the morrow. Better leave 
it till he came back from the war. 

: You will have no official position,' he 
went on hastily, 'other than your present 
one of Mistress of the Robes; but your 
influence on her will be very great.' 1 

The Countess had already decided on this. 
However there is a look of modest resigna- 
tion to an unsought duty which is suited to 
an occasion of this kind, and the Countess 
had no difficulty in supplying it. 

'I will do all that I can, your Majesty, 
to help gladly; but will not the Chan- 
cellor " 

'The Chancellor will come with me. He 
is no fighter, but he is good at spells.' 1 He 
looked round to make sure that they were 
alone, and then went on confidentially, "He 

41 



THE KING OF EURALIA 

tells me that he has discovered in the archives 
of the palace a Backward Spell of great value. 
Should he be able to cast this upon the enemy 
at the first onslaught, he thinks that our 
heroic army would have no difficulty in ad- 
vancing.' 1 

"But there will be other learned men,' 
said Bel vane innocently, 'so much more 
accustomed to affairs than us poor women, 
so much better able" ("What nonsense 
I'm talking," she said to herself) "to advise 
her Royal Highness " 

"Men like that," said the King, "I shall 
want with me also. If I am to invade Barodia 
properly I shall need every man in the king- 
dom. Euralia must be for the time a country 
of women only." He turned to her with 
a smile, and said gallantly, 'That will be 

er It is er not er . One may 

well er ' 

It was so obvious from his manner that 
something complimentary was struggling to 

42 



DRAWS HIS SWORD 

the surface of his mind, that Bel vane felt it 
would be kinder not to wait for it. 

"Oh, your Majesty,' she said, "you 
flatter my poor sex." 

"Not at all,' said the King, trying to 
remember what he had said. He held out 
his hand. 'Well, Countess, I have much 
to do." 

"I, too, your Majesty.'' 

She made him a deep curtsey and, clasp- 
ing tightly the precious diary, withdrew^. 

The King, w r ho still seemed worried about 
something, returned to his table and took 
up his pen. Here Hyacinth discovered him 
ten minutes later. His table was covered 
with scraps of paper and, her eyes lighting 
casually upon one of them, she read these 
remarkable words : 

' In such a land I should be a most contented 
subject'' 

She looked at some of the others. They 
were even shorter: 

43 



THE KING OF EURALIA 



'That, dear Countess, would be my ' 

''A country in which even a King ' 

'Lucky country!' 

The last was crossed out and "Bad" written 
against it. 

'Whatever are these, Father?' said 
Hyacinth. 

The King jumped up in great confusion. 
"Nothing, dear, nothing,' he said. "I 

was just er Of course I shall have to 

address my people, and I was just jotting down 

a few However, I shan't want them 

now." He swept them together, screwed them 
up tight, and dropped them into a basket. 

And what became of them? you ask. Did 
they light the fires of the Palace next morn- 
ing? Well, now, here's a curious thing. In 
Chapter X of Euralia Past and Present I 
happened across these words : 

'The King and all the men of the land 
having left to fight the wicked Barodians, 
Euralia was now a country of women only 

44 



DRAWS HIS SWORD 

a country in which even a King might be 
glad to be a subject." 

Now what does this mean? Is it another 
example of literary theft? I have already 
had to expose Shelley. Must I now drag 
into the light of day a still worse plagiarism 
by Roger Scurvilegs? The waste-paper 
baskets of the Palace were no doubt open 
to him as to so many historians. But should 
he not have made acknowledgments? 

I do not wish to be hard on Roger. That I 
differ from him on many points of historical 
fact has already been made plain, and will 
be made still more plain as my story goes on. 
But I have a respect for the man ; and on some 
matters, particularly those concerning Prince 
Udo of Araby's first appearance in Euralia, 
I have to rely entirely upon him for my infor- 
mation. Moreover I have never hesitated to 
give him credit for such of his epigrams as I 
have introduced into this book, and I like 

to think that he would be equally punctilious 

45 



THE KING OF EURALIA 

to others. We know his romantic way; no 
doubt the thought occurred to him inde- 
pendently. Let us put it at that, anyhow. 

Belvane, meanwhile, was getting on. The 
King had drawn his sword on her and she 
had not flinched. As a reward she was to be 
the power behind the throne. 

"Not necessarily behind the throne,' said 
Belvane to herself. 



46 



1 




CHAPTER IV 

THE PRINCESS HYACINTH LEAVES IT TO THE 

COUNTESS 

IT is now time to introduce Wiggs to you, 
and I find myself in a difficulty at once. 
What was Wiggs's position in the Palace? 
This story is hard to tell, for I have to 
piece it together from the narratives of others, 
and to supply any gaps in their stories from 
my knowledge of how the different characters 
might be expected to act. Perhaps, there- 
tore, it is a good moment in which to introduce 
to you the authorities upon whom I rely. 

47 



THE PRINCESS LEAVES 

First and foremost, of course, comes Roger 
Scurvilegs. His monumental work, Euralia 
Past and Present, in seventeen volumes, 
towers upon my desk as I write. By the 
merest chance I picked it up (in a meta- 
phorical sense) at that little shop near I 
forget its name, but it's the third bookshop 
on the left as you come into London from the 
New Barnet end. Upon him I depend for the 
broad lines of rny story, and I have already 
indicated my opinion of the value of his work. 

Secondly, come the many legends and 
ballads handed on to me years ago by my 
aunt by marriage, one of the Cornish Small- 
noses. She claims to be a direct descendant 
of that Henry Smallnose whose lucky shot 
brought about the events which I am to 
describe. I say she claims to be, and one 
cannot doubt a lady's word in these matters; 
certainly she used to speak about Henry with 
that mixture of pride and extreme familiarity 
which comes best from a relation. In all 

48 



IT TO THE COUNTESS 

matters not touching Henry, I feel that I 
can rely upon her; in its main lines her narra- 
tive is strictly confirmed by Scurvilegs, and 
she brought to it a picturesqueness and an 
appreciation of the true character of Belvane 
which is lacking in the other; but her attitude 
towards Henry Smallnose was absurd. Indeed 
she would have had him the hero of the story. 
This makes Roger and myself smile. We give 
him credit for the first shot, and then we drop 
him. 

Thirdly, Belvane herself. Women like 
Belvane never die, and I met her (or a rein- 
carnation of her) at a country house in Shrop- 
shire last summer. I forget what she calls 
herself now, but I recognised her at once; 
and, as I watched her, the centuries rolled 
away and she and I were in Euralia, that 
pleasant country, together. 'Stayed to tea 
and was very charming. 5: Would she have 
said that of me, I wonder? But I'm getting 

sentimental Roger's great fault. 
4 49 



THE PRINCESS LEAVES 

These then are my authorities; I consult 
them, and I ask myself, What was Wiggs? 

Roger speaks of her simply as an attendant 
upon the Princess. Now we know that the 
Princess was seventeen; Wiggs then would 
be about the same age a lady-in-waiting 
perhaps even a little older. Why not? you 
say. The Lady Wiggs, maid-of-honour to 
her Royal Highness the Princess Hyacinth, 
eighteen and a bit, tall and stately. Since 
she is to endanger Belvane's plans, let her be 
something of a match for the wicked woman. 

Yes, but you would never talk like that if you 
had heard one of my aunt's stories. Nor if you 
had seen Belvane would you think that any 
grown-up woman could be a match for her. 

Wiggs was a child; I feel it in my bones. 
In all the legends and ballads handed down 
to me by my aunt she appears to me as a 
little girl Alice in a fairy story. Roger or 
no Roger I must have her a child. 

And even Roger cannot keep up the farce 

50 



IT TO THE COUNTESS 

that she is a real lady-in-waiting. In one 
place he tells us that she dusts the throne 
of the Princess; can you see her ladyship, 
eighteen last February, doing that? At other 
times he allows her to take orders from the 
Countess; I ask you to imagine a maid-of- 
honour taking orders from any but her own 
mistress. Conceive her dignity! 

A little friend, then, of Hyacinth's, let us 
say; ready to do anything for anybody who 
loved, or appeared to love, her mistress. 

The King had departed for the wars. His 
magic sword girded to his side, his cloak of 
darkness, not worn but rolled up behind him, 
lest the absence of his usual extensive shadow 
should disturb his horse, he rode at the head 
of his men to meet the enemy. Hyacinth had 
seen him off from the Palace steps. Five 
times he had come back to give her his last 
instructions, and a sixth time for his sword, 
but now he was gone, and she was alone on the 
castle walls with Wiggs. 

51 



THE PRINCESS LEAVES 

"Saying good-bye to fathers is very tiring," 
said Hyacinth. 'I do hope he'll be all right. 
Wiggs, although we oughtn't to mention it 
to anybody, and although he's only just gone, 
we do think it will be rather fun being Queen, 
don't we?" 

"It must be lovely,' said Wiggs, gazing 
at her with large eyes. 'Can you really do 
whatever you like now?' 

Hyacinth nodded. 

"I always did whatever I liked, " she said, 
"but now I really can do it.' : 

"Could you cut anybody's head off?' 

" Easily, " said the Princess confidently. 

"I should hate to cut anybody's head off." 

"So should I, Wiggs. Let's decide to have 
no heads off just at present till we're more 
used to it." 

Wiggs still kept her eyes fixed upon the 
Princess. 

"Which is stronger,' she asked, "you or 

a Fairy?" 

52 



IT TO THE COUNTESS 

"I knew you were going to ask something 
horrid like that, ' said Hyacinth, pretending 
to be angry. She looked quickly round to 
see that nobody was listening, and then 
whispered in Wigg's ear, "I am." 

" O oh ! " said Wiggs. " How lovely ! " 

"Isn't it? Did you ever hear the story of 
Father and the Fairy?' 

"His Majesty?" 

"His Majesty the King of Euralia. It 
happened in the forest one day just after 
he became King." 

Did you ever hear the story? I expect not. 
Well, then, you must hear it. But there will 
be too many inverted commas in it if I let 
Hyacinth tell you, so I shall tell you myself. 

It was just after he became King. He was 
so proud that he used to go about saying, 
"I am the King. I am the King." And 
sometimes , ' ' The King am I . The King I am . ' ' 
He was saying this one day in the forest when 
a Fairy overheard him. So she appeared in 

53 




Five times he had come back to give 
her his last instructions 



THE PRINCESS LEAVES 

front of him and said, 'I believe you are the 
King?" 

"I am the King,' said Merriwig. "I am 

the King, I am the ' 

"And yet,' said the Fairy, 'what is a 
King after all?" 

'It is a very powerful thing to be a King," 
said Merriwig proudly. 

'Supposing I w r ere to turn you into a 
a small sheep. Then where would you be?" 
The King thought anxiously for a mo- 
ment. 

'I should like to be a small sheep, " he said. 
The Fairy waved her wand. 
'Then you can be one,' she said, "until 
you own that a Fairy is much more powerful 
than a King.' 1 

So all at once he was a small sheep. 
"Well? "said the Fairy. 
"Well? "said the King. 
'Which is more powerful, a King or a 
Fairy?" 

54 



IT TO THE COUNTESS 

"A King," said Merriwig. 'Besides being 
more woolly," he added. 

There was silence for a little. Merriwig 
began to eat some grass. 

'I don't think much of Fairies/ he said 
with his mouth full. 'I don't think they're 
very powerful.' 1 

The Fairy looked at him angrily. 
'They can't make you say things you don't 
want to say,' he explained. 
The Fairy stamped her foot. 
'Be a toad,' she said, waving her wand. 
'A nasty, horrid, crawling toad." 

I've always wanted- began Merriwig 
to be a toad,' he ended from lower 
down. 

Well? "said the Fairy. 
I don't think much of Fairies,' said the 
King. ' I don't think they're very powerful." 
He waited for the Fairy to look at him, but 
she pretended to be thinking of something 
else. After waiting a minute or two, he added, 

55 



. . 



. . 



. . 



. . 



THE PRINCESS LEAVES 

"They can't make you say things you don't 
want to say.' : 

The Fairy stamped her foot still more 
angrily, and moved her wand a third time. 

"Be silent!' she commanded. "And stay 
silent for ever ! ' 

There was no sound in the forest. The 
Fairy looked at the blue sky through the 
green roof above her; she looked through 
the tall trunks of the trees to the King's 
castle beyond; her eyes fell upon the little 
glade on her left, upon the mossy bank on 
her right . . . but she would not look down 
to the toad at her feet. 

No, she wouldn't. . . . 

She wouldn't. . . . 

And yet 

It was too much for her. She could resist 
no longer. She looked at the nasty, horrid, 
crawling toad, the dumb toad at her feet 
that was once a King. 

And, catching her eye, the toad winked. 

56 



IT TO THE COUNTESS 

Some winks are more expressive than 
others. The Fairy knew quite well what 
this one meant. It meant: 

'I don't think much of Fairies. I don't 
think they're very powerful. They can't 
make you say things you don't want to 
say." 

The Fairy waved her wand in disgust. 
' Oh, be a King again, " she said impatiently, 
and vanished. 

And so that is the story of how the King 
of Euralia met the Fairy in the forest. Roger 
Scurvilegs tells it well- -indeed, almost as 
well as I do but he burdens it with a moral. 
You must think it out for yourself; I shall 
not give it to you. 

Wiggs didn't bother about the moral. Her 
elbows on her knees, her chin resting on her 
hands, she gazed at the forest and imagined 
the scene to herself. 

'How wonderful to be a King like that!" 
she thought. 

57 



THE PRINCESS LEAVES 

: That was a long time ago,' explained 
Hyacinth. 'Father must have been rather 
lovely in those days," she added. 

'It was a very bad Fairy," said Wiggs. 
'It was a very stupid one. I wouldn't 
have given in to Father like that.' : 

'But there are good Fairies, aren't there? 
I met one once.' : 

"You, child? Where?" 
I don't know if it would have made any 
difference to Euralian history if Wiggs had 
been allowed to tell about her Fairy then; 
as it was, she didn't tell the story till later 
on, when Belvane happened to be near. I 
regret to say that Belvane listened. It was 
the sort of story that always got overheard, 
she explained afterwards, as if that were any 
excuse. On this occasion she was just too 
early to overhear, but in time to prevent the 
story being told without her. 

'The Countess Belvane,' said an attend- 
ant, and her ladyship made a superb entry. 

58 



IT TO THE COUNTESS 

"Good morning, Countess," said Hyacinth. 

"Good morning, your Royal Highness. 
Ah, Wiggs, sweet child/ she added care- 
lessly, putting out a hand to pat the sweet 
child's head, but missing it. 

"Wiggs was just telling me a story,' said 
the Princess. 

" Sweet child, " said Belvane, feeling vaguely 
for her with the other hand. 'Could I in- 
terrupt the story with a little business, your 
Royal Highness?' 

At a nod from the Princess, Wiggs withdrew. 

"Well?" said Hyacinth nervously. 

Belvane had always a curious effect on the 
Princess when they were alone together. 
There was something about her large man- 
ner which made Hyacinth feel like a school- 
girl who has been behaving badly: alarmed 
and apologetic. I feel like this myself when 
I have an interview with my publishers, and 
Roger Scurvilegs (upon the same subject) 

drags in a certain uncle of his before whom 

59 



THE PRINCESS LEAVES 

(so he says) he always appears at his worst. 
It is a common experience. 

'Just one or two little schemes to submit 
to your Majesty," said the Countess. 'How 
silly of me I mean, your Royal Highness. 
Of course your Royal Highness may not 
like them at all, but in case your Royal 
Highness did, I just well, I just wrote them 
out." 

She unfolded, one by one, a series of orna- 
mental parchments. 

"They are beautifully written,' said the 
Princess. 

Belvane blushed at the compliment. She 
had a passion for coloured inks and rulers. 
In her diary the day of the week was always 
underlined in red, the important words in 
the day's doings being frequently picked 
out in gold. On taking up the diary you saw 
at once that you were in the presence of 
somebody. 

The first parchment was headed : 

60 



IT TO THE COUNTESS 

SCHEME FOR ECONOMY IN REALM 

'Economy' caught the eye in pale pink c 
The next parchment was headed : 

SCHEME FOR SAFETY OF REALM 



'Safety" clamoured to you in blue. 
The third parchment was headed : 

SCHEME FOR ENCOURAGEMENT OF LITERATURE IN REALM 

'Encouragement of Literature' had got 
rather cramped in the small quarters avail- 
able for it. A heading, Belvane felt, should 
be in one line; she had started in letters too 
big for it, and the fact that the green ink was 
giving out made it impossible to start afresh. 

There were ten parchments altogether. 

By the end of the third one, the Princess 
began to feel uncomfortable. 

By the end of the fifth one she knew that 
it was a mistake her ever having come into 
the Royal Family at all. 

61 



THE PRINCESS AND COUNTESS 

By the end of the seventh she decided that 
if the Countess would forgive her this time 
she would never be naughty again. 

By the end of the ninth one she was just 
going to cry. 

The tenth one was in a very loud orange 
and was headed : 

SCHEME FOR ASSISTING CALISTHENICS IN REALM 

"Yes/ said the Princess faintly; "I think 
it would be a good idea.' : 

"I thought if your Royal Highness ap- 
proved," said Belvane, 'we might just " 

Hyacinth felt herself blushing guiltily 
she couldn't think why. 

"I leave it to you, Countess,' she mur- 
mured. "I am sure you know best.' : 

It was a remark which she would never 
have made to her Father. 




CHAPTER V 

BELVANE INDULGES HER HOBBY 

IN a glade in the forest the Countess Bel- 
vane was sitting: her throne, a fallen 
log, her courtiers, that imaginary 
audience which was always with her. For 
once in her life she was nervous; she had an 
anxious morning in front of her. 

I can tell you the reason at once. Her 
Royal Highness was going to review her Royal 
Highness's Army of Amazons (see Scheme 77, 
Safety of Realm). In half an hour she would 

be here. 

63 



BELVANE INDULGES 

And why not? you say. Could anything 
be more gratifying? 

I will tell you why not. There was no 
Army of Amazons. In order that her Royal 
Highness should not know the sad truth, 
Bel vane drew their pay for them. 'Twas 
better thus. 

In any trouble Belvane comforted herself 
by reading up her diary. She undid the 
enormous volume, and, idly turning the pages, 
read some of the more delightful extracts to 
herself. 

"Monday, June 1st,' she read. "Became 
bad.' 

She gave a sigh of resignation to the neces- 
sity of being bad. Roger Scurvilegs is of the 
opinion that she might have sighed a good 
many years before. According to him she 
was born bad. 

" Tuesday, June 2nd, " she read on. "Real- 
ised in the privacy of my heart that I was 

destined to rule the country. Wednesday, 

64 



HER HOBBY 

June 3rd. Decided to oust the Princess. 
Thursday, June 4th. Began ousting.' 

What a confession for any woman even 
for one who had become bad last Monday! 
No wonder Belvane's diary was not for 
everybody. Let us look over her shoulder 
and read some more of the wicked woman's 
confessions. 

'Friday, June 5th. Made myself a- 
Oh, that's quite private. However we may 
read this : ' Thought for the week. Beware 
lest you should tumble down In reaching 
for another's crown. ' An admirable senti- 
ment which Roger Scurvilegs would have 
approved, though he could not have rhymed 
it so neatly. 

The Countess turned on a few more pages 
and prepared to write up yesterday's events. 
' Tuesday, June 23rd, ' she said to herself. 
'Now what happened? Acclaimed with en- 
thusiasm outside the Palace how do you 

spell 'enthusiasm'?' She bit the end of her 
s 65 



BELVANE INDULGES 

pencil and pondered. She turned back the 
pages till she came to the place. 

"Yes," she said thoughtfully. "It had 
three * s's' last time, so it's 'z's' turn.' 

She wrote " enthuzziazm " lightly in pencil; 
later on it would be picked out in gold. 

She closed the diary hastily. Somebody 
was coming. 

It was Wiggs. 

'Oh, if you please, your Ladyship, her 
Royal Highness sent me to tell you that she 
would be here at eleven o'clock to review 
her new army." 

It was the last thing of which Belvane 
wanted reminding. 

"Ah, Wiggs, sweet child,' she said, 'y u 
find me overwhelmed.' 1 She gave a tragic 
sigh. "Leader of the Corps de Ballet" 
she indicated with her toe how this was done, 
" Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Ama- 
zons" here she saluted, and it was certainly 

the least she could do for the money, "Warden 

66 



HER HOBBY 

of the Antimacassars and Grand Mistress of 
the Robes, I have a busy life. Just come and 
dust this log for her Royal Highness. All 
this work wears me out, Wiggs, but it is my 
duty and I do it.' : 

"Woggs says you make a very good thing 
out of it,' said Wiggs innocently, as she 
began to dust. "It must be nice to make 
very good things out of things. ' ; 

The Countess looked coldly at her. It is 
one thing to confide to your diary that you 
are bad, it's quite another to have Woggsseses 
shouting it out all over the country. 

"I don't know what Woggs is,' said Bel- 
vane sternly, 'but send it to me at once.' : 

As soon as Wiggs was gone, Bel vane gave 
herself up to her passions. She strode up 
and down the velvety sward, saying to herself, 
"Bother! Bother! Bother! Bother!" Her 
outbreak of violence over, she sat gloomily 
down on the log and abandoned herself to 
despair. Her hair fell in two plaits down her 

67 



BELVANE INDULGES 

back to her waist; on second thoughts she 
arranged them in front if one is going to 
despair one may as well do it to the best 
advantage. 

Suddenly a thought struck her. 
'I am alone,' she said. 'Dare I solilo- 
quise? I will. It is a thing I have not done 

for weeks. 'Oh, what a ' She got up 

quickly. 'Nobody could soliloquise on a log 
like that," she said crossly. She decided she 
could do it just as effectively when standing. 
With one pale hand raised to the skies she 
began again. 

"Oh, what a " ; ,-: , 

"Did you call me, Mum?' said Woggs, 
appearing suddenly. 

"Bother!'* said Bel vane. She gave a shrug 
of resignation. 'Another time,' she told 
herself. She turned to Woggs. 

Woggs must have been quite close at hand 
to have been found by Wiggs so quickly, 

and I suspect her of playing in the forest 

68 



HER HOBBY 

when she ought to have been doing her 
lessons, or mending the stockings, or what- 
ever made up her day's work. Woggs I find 
nearly as difficult to explain as Wiggs; it is 
a terrible thing for an author to have a lot of 
people running about his book, without any 
invitation from him at all. However, since 
Woggs is there, we must make the best of 
her. I fancy that she was a year or two 
younger than Wiggs and of rather inferior 
education. Witness her low innuendo about 
the Lady Belvane, and the fact that she called 
a Countess "Mum." 

4 Come here,' said Belvane. 'Are you 
what they call Woggs?" 

'Please, Mum," said Woggs nervously. 
The Countess winced at the 'Mum,' but 
went on bravely. 'What have you been 
saying about me?" 

"N Nothing, Mum." ri n 

Belvane winced again, and said, 'Do you 

know what I do to little girls who say things 

69 



BELVANE INDULGES 

about me? I cut their heads off; I ' 

She tried to think of something very alarming ! 
6 1 I stop their jam for tea. I I am most 
annoyed with them.' : 

Woggs suddenly saw what a wicked thing 
she had done. 

'Oh, please, Mum," she said brokenly and 
fell on her knees. 

"Don't call me 'Mum,'" burst out Bel- 
vane. 'It's so ugly. Why do you suppose 
I ever wanted to be a countess at all, Woggs, 
if it wasn't so as not to be called 'Mum' any 
more?' 

'I don't know, Mum," said Woggs. 
Bel vane gave it up. The whole morning 
was going wrong anyhow. 

'Come here, child,' she sighed, 'and 
listen. You have been a very naughty girl, 
but I'm going to let you off this time, and in 
return I've something you are going to do 
for me.' : 

: Yes, Mum," said Woggs. 

70 



HER HOBBY 

Belvane barely shuddered now. A sudden 
brilliant plan had come to her. 

'Her Royal Highness is about to review 
her Army of Amazons. It is a sudden idea 
of her Royal Highness's, and it comes at an 
unfortunate moment, for it so happens that 
the Army is er- What was the Army 

doing? Ah, yes- 'manoeuvring in a distant 
part of the country. But we must not dis- 
appoint her Royal Highness. What then 
shall we do, Woggs?' 

* I don't know, Mum, " said Woggs stolidly. 
Not having expected any real assistance 
from her, the Countess went on, "I will tell 
you. You see yonder tree? Armed to the 
teeth you will march round and round it, 
giving the impression to one on this side of 
a large army passing. For this you will be 

rewarded. Here is She felt in the 

bag she carried. 'No, on second thoughts 
I will owe it to you. Now you quite under- 
stand?" 

71 



BELVANE INDULGES 

"Yes, Mum," said Woggs. 

"Very well, then. Run along to the Palace 
and get a sword and a helmet and a bow and 
an arrow and an an arrow and anything 
you like, and then come back here and wait 
behind those bushes. When I clap my hands 
the army will begin to march.' 1 

Woggs curtsied and ran off. 

It is probable that at this point the Countess 
would have resumed her soliloquy, but we 
shall never know, for the next moment the 
Princess and her Court were seen approaching 
from the other end of the glade. Belvane 
advanced to meet them. 

'Good morning, your Royal Highness,' 
she said, "a beautiful day, is it not?' 
'Beautiful, Countess.' 1 

With the Court at her back, Hyacinth for 
the moment was less nervous than usual, 
but almost at the first words of the Countess 
she felt her self-confidence oozing from her. 
Did I say I was like this with my publishers? 

72 



HER HOBBY 

And Roger's dragged-in Uncle one can't 
explain it. 

The Court stood about in picturesque 
attitudes while Belvane went on : 

Your Royal Highness's brave Women 
Defenders, the Home Defence Army of Ama- 
zons' (here she saluted; one soon gets into 
the knack of it, and it gives an air of efficiency) 
'have looked forward to this day for weeks. 
How their hearts fill with pride at the 
thought of being reviewed by your Royal 
Highness ! ' 

She had paid, or rather received, the money 
for the Army so often that she had quite 
got to believe in its existence. She even 
kept a roll of the different companies (it 
meant more delightful red ink for one thing), 
and wrote herself little notes recommending 
Corporal Gretal Hottshott for promotion to 
sergeant. 

'I know very little about armies, I'm 

afraid,' said Hyacinth. "I've always left 

73 



BELVANE INDULGES 

that to my father. But I think it's a sweet 
idea of yours to enrol the women to defend 
me. It's a little expensive, is it not? ' 

: Your Royal Highness, armies are always 
expensive.' 1 

The Princess took her seat, and beckoned 
Wiggs with a smile to her side. The Court, 
in attitudes even more picturesque than 
before, grouped itself behind her. 
'Is your Royal Highness ready?' 
'Quite ready, Countess.' 1 

The Countess clapped her hands. 

There was a moment's hesitation, and 
then, armed to the teeth, Amazon after 
Amazon marched by. . . . 

An impressive scene. . . . 

However, Wiggs must needs try to spoil 
it. 

'Why, it's Woggs!" she cried. 

"Silly child!' said Belvane in an under- 
tone, giving her a push. 

The Princess looked round inquiringly. 

74 



HER HOBBY 

"The absurd creature,' explained the 
Countess, 'thought she recognised a friend 
in your Royal Highness 's gallant Army." 

4 How clever of her ! They all look exactly 
alike to me. ' 

Belvane was equal to the occasion. 

"The uniform and discipline of an army 
have that effect rather,' she said. 'It has 
often been noticed.' 1 

'I suppose so," said the Princess vaguely. 
"Oughtn't they to march in fours? I seem 
to remember, when I came to reviews with 

Father " 

'Ah, your Royal Highness, that was an 
army of men. With women well, we found 
that if they marched side by side, they would 
talk all the time.' 1 

The Court, which had been resting on the 
right leg with the left knee bent, now rested 
on the left leg with the right knee bent. 
Woggs also was getting tired. The last 
company of the Army of Amazons was not 

75 




Armed to the teeth, Amazon 
after Amazon marched by 






BELVANE INDULGES 

marching with the abandon of the first 
company. 

'I think I should like them to halt now 
so that I can address them, ' ' said Hyacinth. 

Belvane was taken aback for the moment. 

"I am afraid, your your Royal High- 
ness,' she stammered, her brain working 
busily all the time, 'that that would be 
contrary to to to the spirit of er the 
King's Regulations. An army an army in 
marching order must er march." She 
made a long forward movement with her 
hand. 'Must march,' she repeated, with 
an innocent smile. 

"I see,' said Hyacinth, blushing guiltily 
again. 

Belvane gave a loud cough. The last 
veteran but two of the Army looked inquir- 
ingly at her and passed. The last veteran but 
one came in and was greeted with a still 
louder cough. Rather tentatively the last 
veteran of all entered and met such an un- 

76 



HER HOBBY 

mistakable frown that it was obvious that the 
march-past was over. . . . Woggs took off 
her helmet and rested in the bushes. 

"That is all, your Royal Highness,' said 
Belvane. "158 marched past, 217 reported 
sick, making 622; 9 are on guard at the 
Palace 632 and 9 make 815. Add 28 under 
age and we bring it up to the round thousand.'' 

Wiggs opened her mouth to say something, 
but decided that her mistress would probably 
wish to say it instead. Hyacinth, however, 
merely looked unhappy. 

Belvane came a little nearer. 

"I er forgot if I mentioned to your 
Royal Highness that we are paying out to- 
day. One silver piece a day and several days 
in the week, multiplied by how many did 
I say? comes to ten thousand pieces of gold.' 1 
She produced a document, beautifully ruled. 
"If your Royal Highness would kindly initial 
here " 

Mechanically the Princess signed. 

77 



BELVANE INDULGES 

"Thank you, your Royal Highness. And 
now perhaps I had better go and see about 
it at once.' : 

She curtsied deeply, and then, remembering 
her position, saluted and marched off. 

Now Roger Scurvilegs would see her go 
without a pang; he would then turn over 
to his next chapter, beginning 'Meanwhile 

the King , ' and leave you under the 

impression that the Countess Belvane was 
a common thief. I am no such chronicler as 
that. At all costs I will be fair to my 
characters. 

Belvane, then, had a weakness. She had 
several of which I have already told you, 
but this was another one. She had a passion 
for the distribution of largesse. 

I know an old gentleman who plays bowls 
every evening. He trundles his skip (or 
whatever he calls it) to one end of the green, 
toddles after it, and trundles it back again. 
Think of him for a moment, and then think 

78 



HER HOBBY 

of Belvane on her cream-white palfrey tossing 
a bag of gold to right of her and flinging a bag 
of gold to left of her, as she rides through the 
cheering crowds; upon my word I think hers 
is the more admirable exercise. 

And, I assure you, no less exacting. When 
once one has got into this habit of 'flinging' 
or "tossing" money, to give it in any ordinary 
way, to slide it gently into the palm, is un- 
bearable. Which of us who has, in an heroic 
moment, flung half a crown to a cabman can 
ever be content afterwards to hold out a 
handful of three-penny bits and coppers to 
him? One must always be flinging. . . . 

So it was with Belvane. The largesse 
habit had got hold of her. It is an expensive 
habit, but her way of doing it was less expen- 
sive than most. The people were taxed to 
pay for the Amazon Army; the pay of the 
Amazon Army was flung back at them; could 
anything be fairer? 

True, it brought her admiration and 

79 



BELVANE INDULGES HER HOBBY 

applause. But what woman does not like 
admiration? Is that an offence? If it is, it 
is something very different from the common 
theft of which Roger Scurvilegs would accuse 
her. Let us be fair. 



80 




CHAPTER VI 

THERE ARE NO WIZARDS IN BARODIA 

MEANWHILE "the King of Euralia 
was prosecuting the war with the 
99 

utmost vigour. 

So says Roger in that famous chapter of 
his, and certainly Merriwig was very busy. 

On the declaration of war the Euralian 
forces, in accordance with custom, had 
marched into Borodia. However hot ran 
the passion between them, the two Kings 
always preserved the elementary courtesies 
of war. The last battle had taken place in 

81 



THERE ARE NO WIZARDS 

Euralian territory; this time, therefore, 
Barodia was the scene of the conflict. To 
Barodia, then, King Merriwig led his army. 
Suitable pasture land had been allotted them 
as a camping ground, and amid the cheers 
of the Barodian populace the Euralians made 
their simple preparations for the night. 

The two armies had now been sitting 
opposite to each other for some weeks, but 
neither side had been idle. On the very 
first morning Merriwig had put on his Cloak 
of Darkness and gone to the enemy's camp 
to explore the situation. Unfortunately the 
same idea had occurred at the same moment 
to the King of Barodia. He also had his 
Cloak of Darkness. 

Half way across, to the utmost astonish- 
ment of both, the two Kings had come 
violently into contact. Realising that they 
had met some unprecedented enchantment, 
they had hurried home after the recoil to 
consult their respective Chancellors. The 

m 



IN BARODIA 

Chancellors could make nothing of it. They 
could only advise their Majesties to venture 
another attempt on the following morning. 

"But by a different route,' said the 
Chancellors, " whereby the Magic Pillar shall 
be avoided.' 1 

So by the more southerly path the two 
Kings ventured out next morning. Half 
way across there was another violent collision, 
and both Kings sat down suddenly to think 
it out. 

"Wonder of wonders,' said Merriwig. 
"There is a magic wall stretching between 
the two armies.'' 

He stood up and holding up his hand said 
impressively : 

"Bo, boll, bill y bole. 
Wo, woll " 



"Mystery of mysteries!' cried the King 
of Barodia. 'It can ' 

He stopped suddenly. Both Kings coughed. 

83 



THERE ARE NO WIZARDS 

They were remembering with some shame 
their fright of yesterday. 

"Who are you?" said the King of Barodia. 

Merriwig saw that there was need to 
dissemble. 

"His Majesty's swineherd,' he said, in 
what he imagined might be a swineherd's 
voice. 

"Er so am I,' said the King of Barodia, 
rather feebly. 

There was obviously nothing for it but 
for them to discuss swine. 

Merriwig was comfortably ignorant of the 
subject. The King of Barodia knew rather 
less than that. 

"Er how many have you?' asked the 
latter. 

"Seven thousand,' said Merriwig at 
random. 

"Er so have I, " said the King of Barodia, 
still more feebly. 

"Couples," explained Merriwig. 

84 



IN BARODIA 

"Mine are ones," said the King of Barodia, 
determined to be independent at last. 

Each King was surprised to find how easy 
it w r as to talk to an expert on his own subject. 
The King of Barodia, indeed, began to feel 
reckless. 

"Well,' he said, "I must be getting back. 
It's er milking time." 

"So must I," said Merriwig. "By the 
way,' he added, "what do you feed yours 
on?" 

The King of Barodia was not quite sure 
if it was apple sauce or not. He decided 
that perhaps it wasn't. 

"That's a secret,' he said darkly. "Been 
handed down from generation to generation." 

Merriwig could think of nothing better 
to say to this than "Ah!' He said it very 
impressively, and with a word of farewell 
returned to his camp. 

He was in brilliant form over the wassail 

bowl that night as he drew a picture of his 

85 



THERE ARE NO WIZARDS 

triumphant dissimulation. It is only fair 
to say that the King of Barodia was in brilliant 
form too. . . . 

For several weeks after this the battle 
raged. Sometimes the whole Euralian army 
would line up outside its camp and call upon 
the Barodians to fight; at other times the 
Barodian army would form fours in full view 
of the Euralians in the hope of provoking a 
conflict. At intervals the two Chancellors 
would look up old spells, scour the country 
for wizards, or send each other insulting 
messages. At the end of a month it was 
difficult to say which side had obtained the 
advantage. 

A little hill surmounted by a single tree 
lay half way between the two camps. Thither 
one fine morning came the two Kings and 
the two Chancellors on bloody business bent. 
(The phrase is Roger's.) Their object was 
nothing less than to arrange that personal 
fight between the two monarchs which was 

86 



IN BARODIA 

always a feature of Barodo-Euralian warfare. 
The two Kings having shaken hands, their 
Chancellors proceeded to settle the details. 

' 1 suppose, " said the Chancellor of Barodia, 
'that your Majesties will wish to fight with 
swords?' 

'Certainly,' said the King of Barodia 
promptly; so promptly that Merriwig felt 
certain that he had a Magic Sword too. 

'Cloaks of Darkness are not allowed, of 
course, ' ' said the Chancellor of Euralia. 

'Why, have you got one?" said each King 
quickly to the other. 

Merriwig was the first to recover himself. 

'I have one naturally,' he said. "It's 
a curious thing that the only one of my 
subjects who has one is my er swine- 
herd." 

' That's funny, ' ' said the King of Barodia. 
'My swineherd has one too.' : 

'Of course,' said Merriwig, "they are 
almost a necessity to swineherding." 

87 



THERE ARE NO WIZARDS 

"Particularly in the milking season,' said 
the King of Barodia. 

They looked at each other with added 
respect. Not many Kings in those days had 
the technicalities of such a humble trade at 
their fingers' ends. 

The Chancellor of Barodia had been re- 
ferring to the precedents. 

"It was after the famous conflict between 
the two grandfathers of your Majesties that 
the use of the Magic Cloak in personal combats 
was discontinued.' 1 

"Great-grandfathers,' said the Chancellor 
of Euralia. 

"Grandfathers, I think.' 1 

"Great-grandfathers, if I am not mis- 
taken.' 

Their tempers were rising rapidly, and 
the Chancellor of Barodia was just about to 
give the Chancellor of Euralia a push when 
Merriwig intervened. 

"Never mind about that,' he said im- 

88 



IN BARODIA 

patiently. Tell us what happened when 
our our ancestors fought." 

'It happened in this way, your Majesty. 
Your Majesty's grandfather 

"Great-grandfather,' said a small voice. 

The Chancellor cast one bitter look at his 
opponent and went on : 

"The ancestors of your two Majesties 
arranged to settle the war of that period by 
personal combat. The two armies were drawn 
up in full array. In front of them the two 
monarchs shook hands. Drawing their swords 
and casting their Magic Cloaks around them, 
they " 

"Well?" said Merriwig eagerly. 

" It is rather a painful story, your Majesty. ' 

"Go on, I shan't mind." 

"Well, your Majesty, drawing their swords 
and casting their Magic Cloaks around them 
they h'r'm returned to the wassail bowl." 

"Dear, dear," said Merriwig. 

"When the respective armies, who had 

89 




When the respective armies returned to 
camp they found their Majesties 
asleep 



THERE ARE NO WIZARDS 

been waiting eagerly the whole of the after- 
noon for some result of the combat, returned 
to camp, they found their Majesties 

'Asleep,' said the Chancellor of Euralia 
hastily. 

'Asleep,' agreed the Chancellor of Baro- 
dia. 'The excuse of their two Majesties 
that they had suddenly forgotten the day, 
though naturally accepted at the time, was 
deemed inadequate by later historians.' 1 (By 
Roger and myself, anyway.) 

Some further details were discussed, and 
then the conference closed. The great fight 
was fixed for the following morning. 

The day broke fine. At an early hour 
Merriwig was up and practising thrusts upon 
a suspended pillow. At intervals he would 
consult a little book entitled Sword Play for 
Sovereigns, and then return to his pillow. At 
breakfast he was nervous but talkative. 
After breakfast he wrote a tender letter to 

Hyacinth and a still more tender one to the 

90 



IN BARODIA 

Countess Bel vane, and burnt them. He 
repeated his little rhyme, 'Bo, Boll, Bill, 
Bole,' several times to himself until he was 
word perfect. It was just possible that it 
might be useful. His last thoughts as he rode 
on to the field were of his great-grandfather. 
Without admiring him, he quite saw his 
point. 

The fight was a brilliant one. First Merri- 
wig aimed a blow at the King of Barodia's 
head which the latter parried. Then the 
King of Barodia aimed a blow at his adver- 
sary's head which Merriwig parried. This 
went on three or four times, and then Merri- 
wig put into practice a remarkable trick which 
the Captain of his Bodyguard had taught him. 
It was his turn to parry, but instead of doing 
this, he struck again at his opponent's head; 
and if the latter in sheer surprise had not 
stumbled and fallen, there might have been a 
very serious ending to the affair. 

Noon found them still at it; cut and parry, 

91 



THERE ARE NO WIZARDS 

cut and parry; at each stroke the opposing 
armies roared their applause. When darkness 
put an end to the conflict, honours were evenly 
divided. 

It was a stiff but proud King of Euralia 
who received the congratulations of his sub- 
jects that night ; so proud that he had to pour 
out his heart to somebody. He wrote to his 
daughter. 



''iVJL 

it 



MY DEAR HYACINTH, 

You will be glad to hear that your 
father is going on well and that Euralia is 
as determined as ever to uphold its honour 
and dignity. To-day I fought the King of 
Barodia, and considering that, most unfairly, 
he was using a Magic Sword, I think I may 
say that I did well. The Countess Bel vane 
will be interested to hear that I made 4,638 
strokes at my opponent and parried 4,637 
strokes from him. This is good for a man of 
my age. Do you remember that magic oint- 

92 



IN BARODIA 

ment my aunt used to give me? Have we 
any of it left? 

'I played a very clever trick trie other 
day by pretending to be a swineherd. I 
talked to a real one I met for quite a long 
time about swine without his suspecting me. 
The Countess might be interested to hear 
this. It would have been very awkward for 
me if it had been found out who I was. 

4 1 hope you are getting along all right. 
Do you consult the Countess Bel vane at all? 
I think she would be able to advise you in 
any difficulties. A young girl needs a guiding 
hand, and I think the Countess would be able 
to advise you in any difficulties. Do you 
consult her at all? 

' I am afraid this is going to be a long war. 
There doesn't seem to be a wizard in the 
country at all, and without one it is a little 
difficult to know how to go on. I say my 
spell every now and then you remember 
the one: 

93 



THERE ARE NO WIZARDS 

* Bo, boll, bill, bole. 
Wo, woll, will, wole.' 

and it certainly keeps off dragons, but we 
don't seem to get any nearer defeating the 
enemy's army. You might tell the Countess 
Belvane that about my spell; she would be 
interested. 

'To-morrow I go on with ray fight with 
the King of Barodia. I feel quite confident 
now that I can hold him. He parries well, 
but his cutting is not very good. I am glad 
the Countess found my sword for me; tell her 
that it has been most useful. 

'I must now close as I must go to bed so 
as to be ready for my fight to-morrow. Good- 
bye, dear. I am always, 

"YouR LOVING FATHER. 

4 P.S. I hope you are not finding your 
position too difficult. If you are in any 
difficulties you should consult the Countess 
Belvane. I think she would be able to advise 

94 



IN BARODIA 

you. Don't forget about that ointment. 
Perhaps the Countess might know about 
some other kind. It's for stiffness. I am 
afraid this is going to be a long war.' : 

The King sealed up the letter and des- 
patched it by special messenger the next 
morning. It came to Hyacinth at a critical 
moment. We shall see in the next chapter 
what effect it had upon her. 




CHAPTER VII , 

THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A LETTER AND 

WRITES ONE 



I 



F "VHE Princess Hyacinth came in from her 
morning's ride in a very bad temper. 
She went straight up to her favourite 
seat on the castle walls and sent for Wiggs. 
"Wiggs," she said, "what's the matter with 
me?' 

Wiggs looked puzzled. She had been 
dusting the books in the library; and when 
you dust books you simply must stop every 

97 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A 

now and then to take just one little peep 
inside, and then you look inside another 
one and another one, and by the time you 
have finished dusting, your head is so full of 
things you have seen that you have to be asked 
questions very slowly indeed. 

"I'm pretty, aren't I?' went on Hya- 
cinth. 

That was an easy one. 
'Lovely!" said Wiggs, with a deep breath. 
'And I'm not unkind to anybody?' 
'Unkind!" said Wiggs indignantly. 
'Then why oh, Wiggs, I know it's silly 
of me, but it hurts me that my people are so 
much fonder of the Countess than of me." 

"Oh, I'm sure they're not, your Royal 
Highness.' 1 

"Well, they cheer her much louder than 
they cheer me.' ; 

Wiggs tried to think of a way of comfort- 
ing her mistress, but her head was still full 
of the last book she had dusted. 

98 



LETTER AND WRITES ONE 

"Why should they be so fond of her?' 
demanded Hyacinth. 

"Perhaps because she's so funny,' said 
Wiggs. 

"Funny! Is she funny?" said the Princess 
coldly. "She doesn't make me laugh. " 

"Well, it was funny of her to make Woggs 
march round and round that tree like that, 
wasn't it?' 

"Like what? You don't mean- The 

Princess's eyes were wide open with as- 
tonishment. "Was that Woggs all the 
time?" 

"Yes, your Royal Highness. W r asn't it 
lovely and funny of her?' 

The Princess looked across to the forest 
and nodded to herself. 

"Yes. That's it. Wiggs, I don't believe 
there has ever been an Army at all. . . . 
And I pay them every week!' She added 
solemnly, "There are moments when I don't 
believe that woman is quite honest.' 1 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A 

"Do you mean she isn't good?' asked 
Wiggs in awe. 

Hyacinth nodded. 

"I'm never good," said Wiggs firmly. 

"What do you mean, silly? You're the 
best little girl in Euralia." 

"I'm not. I do awful things sometimes. 
Do you know what I did yesterday?' 

"Something terrible!" smiled Hyacinth. 

"I tore my apron." 

"You baby! That isn't being bad,' said 
Hyacinth absently. She was still thinking 
of that awful review. 

'The Countess says it is.' : 

"The Countess!" 

'Do you know why I want to be very 
good?' said Wiggs, coming up close to the 
Princess. 

"Why, dear?" 

'Because then I could dance like a fairy. ' 

' Is that how it's done? " asked the Princess, 
rather amused. 'The Countess must dance 

100 



LETTER AND WRITES ONE 

very heavily. J! She suddenly remembered 
something and added: 'Why, of course, 
child, you were going to tell me about a fairy 
you met, weren't you? That was weeks 
ago, though. Tell me now. It will help me 
to forget things which make me rather 
angry." 

It was a simple little story. There must 
have been many like it in the books which 
Wiggs had been dusting; but these were 
simple times, and the oldest story always 
seemed new. 

Wiggs had been by herself in the forest. 
A baby rabbit had run past her, terrified; 
a ferret in pursuit. Wiggs had picked the 
little fluffy thing up in her arms and com- 
forted it; the ferret had slowed down, walked 
past very indifferently with its hands, as it 
were, in its pockets, hesitated a moment, and 
then remembered an important letter which 
it had forgotten to post. Wiggs w r as left alone 
with the baby rabbit, and before she knew 

101 




rabbit was gone, and there 
was a fairy in front of her 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A 

where she was, the rabbit was gone and there 
was a fairy in front of her. 

You have saved my life, ' said the fairy. 
'That was a wicked magician after me, and 
if he had caught me then, he would have 
killed me. ' 

'Please, your Fairiness, I didn't know 
fairies could die," said Wiggs. 

' They can when they take on animal shape 
or human shape. He could not hurt me now, 

but before ' She shuddered. 

"I'm so glad you're all right now,' said 
Wiggs politely. 

' Thanks to you, my child. I must reward 
you. Take this ring. When you have been 
good for a whole day, you can have one good 
wish; when you have been bad for a whole 
day, you can have one bad wish. One good 
wish and one bad wish that is all it will 
allow anybody to have. ' 

With these words she vanished and left 

Wiggs alone with the ring. 

102 



LETTER AND WRITES ONE 

So, ever after that, Wiggs tried desperately 
hard to be good and have the good wish, 
but it was difficult work. Something always 
went wrong; she tore her apron or read books 
when she ought to have been dusting, or- 
Well, you or I would probably have given 
it up at once, and devoted ourselves to earn- 
ing the bad wish. But Wiggs was a nice little 
girl. 

"And, oh, I do so want to be good,' said 
Wiggs earnestly to the Princess, 'so that I 
could wish to dance like a fairy.' 1 She had 
a sudden anxiety. "That is a good wish, 

isn't it?" 

"It's a lovely wish; but I'm sure you could 
dance now if you tried.' 

"I can't,' said Wiggs. "I always dance 
like this. 

She jumped up and danced a few steps. 
Wiggs was a dear little girl, but her dancing 
reminded you of a very dusty road going 
up-hill all the way, with nothing but suet- 

103 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A 

puddings waiting for you on the top. Some- 
thing like that. 

"It isn't really graceful, is it?' she said 
candidly, as she came to rest. 

"Well, I suppose the fairies do dance better 
than that. ' 

"So that's why I want to be good, so as I 
can have my wish. ' 

"I really must see this ring,' said the 
Princess. "It sounds fascinating.'' She 
looked coldly in front of her and added, 
"Good-morning, Countess. ' : (How long had 
the woman been there?) 

"Good-morning, your Royal Highness. I 
ventured to come up unannounced. Ah, sweet 
child.' 1 She waved a caressing hand at Wiggs. 

(Even if she had overheard anything, it 
had only been child's talk.) 

"What is it?' asked *He Princess. She 
took a firm hold of the arms of her chair. 
She would not, not, not give way to the Coun- 
tess this time. 

104 



LETTER AND WRITES ONE 

"The merest matter of business, your 
Royal Highness. Just this scheme for the 
Encouragement of Literature. Your Royal 
Highness very wisely decided that in the 
absence of the men on the sterner business 
of righting it was the part of us women to 
encourage the gentler arts; and for this pur- 
pose . . . there was some talk of a competi- 
tion, and er 

"Ah, yes,' said Hyacinth nervously. "I 
will look into that to-morrow. ' 

"A competition,' said Bel vane, gazing 
vaguely over Hyacinth's head. 'Some sort 
of a money prize, " she added, as if in a trance. 

"There should certainly be some sort of 
a prize,' agreed the Princess. (Why not, 
she asked herself, if one is to encourage 
literature?) 

'Bags of gold,' murmured Belvane to 
herself. 'Bags and bags of gold. Big bags 
of silver and little bags of gold." She saw 
herself tossing them to the crowd. 

105 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A 

"Well, we'll go into that to-morrow,' 
said Hyacinth hastily. 

" I have it all drawn up here, " said Bel vane. 
"Your Royal Highness has only to sign. It 
saves so much trouble,' she added with a 
disarming smile. . . . She held the document 
out all in the most beautiful colours. 

Mechanically the Princess signed. 

"Thank you, your Royal Highness.' 1 She 
smiled again, and added, "And now perhaps 
I had better see about it at once.' : The 
Guardian of Literature took a dignified fare- 
well of her Sovereign and withdrew. 

Hyacinth looked at Wiggs in despair. 

"There!" she said. "That's me. I don't 
know what it is about the woman, but I feel 
just a child in front of her. Oh, Wiggs, Wiggs, 
I feel so lonely sometimes with nothing but 
women all around me. I wish I had a man 
here to help me. ' 

"Are all the men fighting in all the 

countries?' 

106 



LETTER AND WRITES ONE 

"Not all the countries. There's Araby 
Don't you remember oh, but of course you 
wouldn't know anything about it. But 
Father was just going to ask Prince Udo of 
Araby to come here on a visit, when the war 
broke out. Oh, I wish, I wish Father were 
back again.' She laid her head on her arms; 
and whether she would have shed a few royal 
tears or had a good homely cry, I cannot tell 
you. For at that moment an attendant came 
in. Hyacinth w^as herself again at once. 

'There is a messenger approaching on a 
horse, your Royal Highness, " she announced. 
'Doubtless from His Majesty's camp." 

With a shriek of delight, and an entire lack 
of royal dignity, the Princess, followed by 
the faithful Wiggs, rushed down to receive him. 

Meanwhile, what of the Countess? She 
was still in the Palace, and, more than that, 
she was in the Throne Room of the Palace, 
and, more even than that, she was on the 
Throne, of the Throne Room of the Palace. 

107 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A 

She couldn't resist it. The door was open 
as she came down from her interview with 
the Princess, and she had to go in. There 
was a woman in there, tidying up, who looked 
questioningly at Belvane as she entered. 

; You may leave, ' ' said the Countess, with 
dignity. 'Her Royal Highness sent me in 
here to wait for her." 

The woman curtsied and withdrew. 

The Countess then uttered these extra- 
ordinary words : 

"When I am Queen in Euralia they shall 
leave me backwards ! ' 

Her subsequent behaviour was even more 
amazing. 

She stood by the side of the door, and 
putting her hand to her mouth said shrilly, 
"Ter-rum, ter-rum, terrumty-umty-um. ' 
Then she took her hand away and announced 
loudly, "Her Majesty Queen Belvane the 
First ! ' ' after which she cheered slightly. 

Then in came Her Majesty, a very proper 

108 



LETTER AND WRITES ONE 

dignified gracious Queen none of your seven- 
teen-year-old chits. Bowing condescendingly 
from side to side she made her way to the 
Throne, and with a sweep of her train she 
sat down. 

Courtiers were presented to her; repre- 
sentatives from foreign countries; Prince 
Hanspatch of Tregong, Prince Ulric, the 
Duke of Highanlow. 

"Ah, my dear Prince Hanspatch/ she 
cried, stretching out her hand to the right 
of her; 'and you, dear Prince Ulric,' with 
a graceful movement of the left arm towards 
him; "and, dear Duke, you also!' Her right 
hand, which Prince Hanspatch had by now 
finished with, went out to the Duke of High- 
anlow that he too might kiss it. 

But it was arrested in mid-air. She felt 
rather than saw that the Princess was 
watching her in amazement from the door- 
way. ....; . :>, -. . . . 

Without looking round she stretched out 

109 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A 

again first one arm and then the other. Then, 
as if she had just seen the Princess, she jumped 
up in a pretty confusion. 

'Oh, your Royal Highness,' she cried, 
: 'you caught me at my physical exercises!' 
She gave a self-conscious little laugh. 'My 
physical exercises a forearm movement.' 
Once again she stretched out her arm. 
'Building up the er building up build- 
ing up ' 

Her voice died away, for the Princess still 
looked coldly at her. 

'Charming, Countess,' she said. 'I am 
sorry to interrupt you, but I have some news 
for you. You will like to know that I am 
inviting Prince Udo of Araby here on a visit. 
I feel we want a little outside help in our 
affairs. ' 

'Prince Udo?' cried the Countess. 
"Here?" 

'Have you any objection?' said Hya- 
cinth. She found it easier to be stern now, 

110 



LETTER AND WRITES ONE 

for the invitation had already been sent 
off by the hand of the King's Messenger. 
Nothing that the Countess could say could 
influence her. 

'No objection, your Royal Highness; but 
it seems so strange. And then the expense! 
Men are such hearty eaters. Besides,' she 
looked with a charming smile from the Princess 
to Wiggs, 'we were all getting on so nicely 
together! Of course if he just dropped in for 
afternoon tea one day- 

4 He will make a stay of some months, I 
hope.' 1 There were no wizards in Barodia, 
and therefore the war would be a long one. 
It was this which had decided Hyacinth. 

'Of course,' said Bel vane, 'whatever 
your Royal Highness wishes, but I do think 
that His Majesty " 

'My dear Countess," said Hyacinth, with 
a smile, 'the invitation has already gone, 
so there's nothing more to be said, is there? 
Had you finished your exercises? Yes? Then, 

111 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A 

Wiggs, will you conduct her ladyship down- 
stairs?' 

She turned and left her. The Countess 
watched her go, and then stood tragically in 
the middle of the room, clasping her diary 
to her breast. 

"This is terrible!' she said. "I feel years 
older.' She held out her diary at arm's 
length and said in a gloomy voice, 'What 
an entry for to-morrow!' The thought 
cheered her up a little. She began to consider 
plans. How could she circumvent this terrible 
young man who was going to put them all in 
their places. She wished that 

All at once she remembered something. 

"Wiggs,' she said, "what was it I heard 
you saying to the Princess about a wish?' 

'Oh, that's my ring,' said Wiggs eagerly. 
"If you've been good for a whole day you can 
have a good wish. And my wish is that ' 

"A wish!" said Bel vane to herself. "Well, 

I wish that ' A sudden thought struck 

112 



LETTER AND WRITES ONE 

her. "You said that you had to be good for 
a whole day first?' 

"Yes." 

Belvane mused. 

"I wonder what they mean by good," she 
said. 

"Of course,' explained Wiggs, 'if you've 
been bad for a whole day you can have a 
bad wish. But I should hate to have a bad 
wish, wouldn't you?' 

'Simply hate it, child,' said Belvane. 
" Er may I have a look at that ring? ' 

'Here it is,' said Wiggs; 'I always wear 
it round my neck. ' 

The Countess took it from her. 

"Listen,' she said. 'W r asn't that the 
Princess calling you? Run along, quickly, 
child.' 1 She almost pushed her from the 
room and closed the door on her. 

Alone again, she paced from end to end 
of the great chamber, her left hand nursing 
her right elbow, her chin in her right hand. 
8 113 



THE PRINCESS RECEIVES A LETTER 

'If you are good for a day,' she mused, 
'you can have a good wish. If you are 
bad for a day you can have a bad wish. 
Yesterday I drew ten thousand pieces of 
gold for the Army; the actual expenses were 
what I paid what I owe Woggs. ... I 
suppose that is what narrow-minded people 
call being bad. ... I suppose this Prince 
Udo would call it bad. ... I suppose he 
thinks he will marry the Princess and throw 
me into prison.' 1 She flung her head back 
proudly. "Never!" 

Standing in the middle of the great Throne 
Room, she held the ring up in her two hands 
and wished. 

"I wish," she said, and there was a terrible 
smile in her eyes, "I wish that something 
very very humorous shall happen to Prince 
Udo on his journey. 



114 




CHAPTER VIII 

PRINCE UDO SLEEPS BADLY 

EVERYBODY likes to make a good im- 
pression on his first visit, but there 
were moments just before his arrival 
in Euralia when Prince Udo doubted whether 
the affair would go as well as he had hoped. 
You shall hear why. 

He had been out hunting with his friend, 
the young Duke Coronel, and was returning 
to the Palace when Hyacinth's messenger 

115 



PRINCE UDO 

met him. He took the letter from him, 
broke the seals, and unrolled it. 

"Wait a moment, Coronel,"' he said to his 
friend. 'This is going to be an adventure 
of some sort, and if it's an adventure I shall 
want you with me." 

'I'm in no hurry," said Coronel, and he 
got off his horse and gave it into the care of 
an attendant. The road crossed a stream 
here. Coronel sat up on the little stone 
bridge and dropped pebbles idly into the 
water. 

The Prince read his letter. 

Plop . . . Plop . . . Plop . . . Plop . . . 

The Prince looked up from his letter. 

"How many days' journey is it to Eu- 
ralia?" he asked Coronel. 

"How long did it take the messenger to 
come?' answered Coronel, without looking 
up. (Plop.) 

'I might have thought of that myself," 
said Udo, "only this letter has rather upset 

116 



SLEEPS BADLY 

me." He turned to the messenger. "How 
long has it ?' 

"Isn't the letter dated?' said Coronel. 
(Plop.) 

Udo paid no attention to this interrup- 
tion and finished his question to the 
messenger. 

'A week, sire.' : 

"Ride on to the castle and wait for me. 
I shall have a message for you." 

'What is it?' said Coronel, when the 
messenger had gone. 'An adventure?' 

"I think so. I think we may call it that, 
Coronel." 

"With me in it?" 

Yes, I think you will be somewhere in 
it." 

Coronel stopped dropping his pebbles and 
turned to the Prince. 

"May I hear about it?" 

Udo held out the letter; then, feeling that 
a lady's letter should be private, drew it back 

117 



PRINCE UDO 

again. He prided himself always on doing 
the correct thing. 

'It's from Princess Hyacinth of Euralia," 
he said; 'she doesn't say much. Her father 
is away fighting, and she is alone and she is in 
some trouble or other. It ought to make 
rather a good adventure." 

Coronel turned away and began to drop 
his pebbles into the stream again. 

"Well, I wish you luck," he said. "If it's 
a dragon, don't forget that 

'But you're coming, too," said Udo, in 
dismay. 'I must have you with me." 

"Doing what?" 

"What?" 

'Doing what?" said Coronel again. 

'Well," said Prince Udo awkwardly, 
"er well, you well." 

He felt that it was a silly question for 
Coronel to have asked. Coronel knew per- 
fectly well what he would be doing all the 
time. In Udo's absence he would be telling 

118 



SLEEPS BADLY 

Princess Hyacinth stories of his Royal 
Highness's matchless courage and wisdom. 
An occasional discussion also with the 
Princess upon types of masculine beauty, 
leading up to casual mention of Prince 
Udo's own appearance, w r ould be quite in 
order. When Prince Udo was present 
Coronel would no doubt find the opportunity 
of drawing Prince Udo out, an opportunity 
of which a stranger could not so readily 
avail himself. 

But of course you couldn't very well tell 
Coronel that. A man of any tact would 
have seen it at once. 

'Of course," he said, 'don't come if 
you don't like. But it would look rather 
funny if I went quite unattended; and 
and her Royal Highness is said to be very 
beautiful," he added lamely. 

Coronel laughed. There are adventures 
and adventures; to sit next to a very 
beautiful Princess and discuss with her the 

119 



PRINCE UDO 

good looks of another man was not the sort 
of adventure that Coronel was looking for. 

He tossed the remainder of his pebbles 
into the stream and stood up. 

"Of course, if your Royal Highness 
wishes 

"Don't be a fool, Coronel," said his Royal 
Highness, rather snappily. 

"Well, then, I'll come with my good friend 
Udo if he wants me.' : 
'I do want you.' 

"Very well, that settles it. After all," he 
added to himself, "there may be two 
dragons.'' 

Two dragons would be one each. But 
from all accounts there were not two Prin- 
cesses. 



So three days later the friends set out 
with good hearts upon the adventure. The 
messenger had been sent back to announce 
their arrival; they gave him three days' 



SLEEPS BADLY 

start, and hoped to gain two days upon 
him. In the simple fashion of those times 
(so it would seem from Roger Scurvilegs) 
they set out with no luggage and no clear 
idea of where they were going to sleep at 
night. This, after all, is the best spirit 
in which to start a journey. It is the 
Gladstone bag which has killed romance. 

They started on a perfect summer day, 
and they rode past towers and battlements, 
and by the side of sparkling streams, and 
disappeared into tall pine forests, and came 
out into the sunlight again above sleepy 
villages, and, as they rode, Coronel sang 
aloud and Udo tossed his sword into the 
air and caught it again. And as evening fell 
they came to a woodman's cottage at the foot 
of a high hill, and there they decided to rest 
for the night. An old woman came out to 
welcome them. 

'Good evening, your Royal Highness," 
she said. 




As evening fell they came to a woodman's 



\ jV *' li/j.CL > m%t:3 




^ *> <*&. eV^i'*5 
cottage at the foot of a high hill 



PRINCE UDO 

'You know me?' said Udo, more pleased 
than surprised. 

C I know all who come into my house," 
said the old woman solemnly, 'and all who 
go away from it." 

This sort of conversation made Coronel 
feel creepy. There seemed to be a distinc- 
tion between the people who came into the 
house and the people who went away from it 
which he did not like. 

"Can we stay here the night, my good 
woman?" said Udo. 

: You have hurt your hand," she said, 
taking no notice of his question. 

"It's nothing," said Udo hastily. On one 
occasion he had caught his sword by the sharp 
end by mistake a foolish thing to have done. 

"Ah, well, since you won't want hands 
where you're going, it won't matter much." 

It was the sort of thing old women said 
in those days, and Udo did not pay much 
attention to it. 



SLEEPS BADLY 

"Yes, yes," he said; "but can you give my 
friend and myself a bed for to-night?' 

'Seeing that you won't be travelling 
together long, come in and welcome.' 1 

She opened the door and they followed 
her in. 

As they crossed the threshold, Udo half 
turned round and whispered over his shoulder 
to Coronel, 

'Probably a fairy. Be kind to her.' ; 

'How T can one be kind to one's hostess?' 
said Coronel. 'It's she who has to be kind 
to us.'' 

'Well, you know what I mean; don't be 
rude to her.' : 

'My dear Udo, this to me the pride of 
Araby, the favourite courtier of his Majesty, 
the " 

'Oh, all right," said Udo. 

'Sit down and rest yourselves," said the 
old woman. 'There'll be something in the 
pot for you directly.' 1 

123 



PRINCE UDO 

"Good," said Udo. He looked approv- 
ingly at the large cauldron hanging over the 
fire. It was a big fireplace for such a small 
room. So he thought when he first looked 
at it, but as he gazed, the room seemed to get 
bigger and bigger, and the fireplace to get 
farther and farther away, until he felt that 
he was in a vast cavern cut deep into the 
mountainside. He rubbed his eyes, and 
there he was in the small kitchen again and 
the cauldron was sending out a savoury smell. 

"There'll be something in it for all tastes/' 
went on the old woman, 'even for Prince 
Udo's." 

"I'm not so particular as all that," said 
Udo mildly. The room had just become 
five hundred yards long again, and he was 
feeling quiet. 

"Not now, but you will be." 

She filled them a plate each from the pot; 
and pulling their chairs up to the table, they 

fell to heartily. 

124 



SLEEPS BADLY 

"This is really excellent," said Udo, as 
he put down his spoon and rested for a 
moment. 

"You'd think you'd always like that, 
wouldn't you?" she said. 

'I always shall be fond of anything so 
perfectly cooked." 

: ' Ah," remarked the old woman thought- 

fully. 

Udo was beginning to dislike her par- 
ticular style of conversation. It seemed to 
carry the merest suggestion of a hint that 
something unpleasant might be going to 
happen to him. Nothing apparently was 
going to happen to Coronel. He tried to 
drag Coronel into the conversation in case 
the old woman had anything over for him. 

'My friend and I," he said, "hope to be in 
Euralia the day after to-morrow." 

'No harm in hoping," was the answer. 

'Dear me, is something going to happen 
to us on the way?' 

125 



PRINCE UDO 

'Depends what you call 'us. 9 

Coronel pushed back his chair and got up. 

'I know what's going to happen to me," 
he said. 'I'm going to sleep.' 1 

"Well," said Udo, getting up too, "we've 
got a long day before us to-morrow, and 
apparently we are in for an adventure 
er, we are in for an adventure of some sort." 
He looked anxiously at the old woman, but 
she made no sign. 'And so let's to bed.' 

'This way," said the old woman, and by 
the light of a candle she led them upstairs. 



Udo slept badly. He had a feeling (just 
as you have) that something was going to 
happen to him; and it was with some sur- 
prise that he woke up in the morning to find 
himself much as he was when he went to 
bed. He looked at himself in the glass; he 
invited Coronel to gaze at him; but neither 
could discover that anything was the matter. 

126 



SLEEPS BADLY 

"After all," said Udo, "I don't suppose 
she meant anything. These old women get 
into a way of talking like that. If anybody 
is going to be turned into anything, it's much 
more likely to be you.' : 

"Is that why you brought me with you?' 
asked Coronel. 

I suppose that by this time they had 
finished their dressing. Roger Scurvilegs 
tells us nothing on such important matters; 
no doubt from modesty. 'Next morning 
they rose," he says, and disappoints us of a 
picture of Udo brushing his hair. They rose 
and went down to breakfast. 

The old woman was in a less cryptic mood 
at breakfast. She w T as particularly hospitable 
to Udo, and from some secret store produced 
an unending variety of good things for him to 
eat. To Coronel it almost looked as if she 
were fattening him up for something, but this 
suggestion was received with such bad grace 
by Udo that he did not pursue the subject. 

127 



PRINCE UDO 

As soon as breakfast was over they started 
off again. From one of the many bags of 
gold he carried, Udo had offered some ac- 
knowledgment to the old woman, but she had 
refused to take it. 

"Nay, nay," she said. "I shall be amply 
rewarded before the day is out." And she 
seemed to be smiling to herself as if she knew 
of some joke which the Prince and Coronel 
did not yet share. 

"I like to-day,'" said Coronel as they rode 
along. 'There's a smell of adventure in 
the air. Red roofs, green trees, blue sky, 
white road I could fall in love to-day. ' : 

"Who with?" said Udo suspiciously. 

"Any one that old woman, if you like." 

"Oh, don't talk of her," said the Prince, 
with a shudder. 'Coronel, hadn't you a 
sense of being out of some joke that she 

} 55 

was inr 

" Perhaps we shall be in it before long. I 
could laugh very easily on a morning like this.' : 

128 



SLEEPS BADLY 

"Oh, I can see a joke as well as any one," 
said Udo. "Don't be afraid that I shan't 
laugh, too. No doubt it will make a good 
story, whatever it is, to tell to the Princess 
Hyacinth. Coronel," he added solemnly, 
the thought having evidently only just oc- 
curred to him, 'I am all impatience to help 
that poor girl in her trouble.' 1 And as if to 
show his impatience, he suddenly gave the 
reins a shake and cantered ahead of his com- 
panion. Smiling to himself, Coronel followed 
at his leisure. 

They halted at mid -day in a wood, and 
made a meal from some provisions which 
the old woman had given them; and after 
they had eaten, Udo lay down on a mossy 
bank and closed his eyes. 

"I'm sleepy," he said; *I had a restless 
night. Let's stay here awhile; after all, 
there's no hurry. ' : 

"Personally," said Coronel, 'I'm all 
impatience to help that ' 



129 



PRINCE UDO SLEEPS BADLY 

"I tell you I had a very bad night," said 
Udo crossly. 

'Oh, well, I shall go off and look for 
dragons. Coronel, the Dragon Slayer. 
Good-bye." 

"Only half an hour," said Udo. 

"Right." 

With a nod to the Prince he strolled off 
among the trees. 




130 




CHAPTER IX 

THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

THIS is a painful chapter for me to write. 
Mercifully it is to be a short one. Later 
on I shall become used to the situation; 
inclined, even, to dwell upon its humorous side; 
but for the moment I cannot see beyond the sad- 
ness of it. That to a Prince of the Royal House 
of Araby, and such an estimable young man as 
Udo, those things should happen. Roger Scur- 
vilegs frankly breaks down over it. ' 'That abom- 
inable woman," he says (meaning, of course, Bel- 
vane) , and he has hysterics for more than a page. 

131 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

Let us describe it calmly. 

Coronel came back from his stroll in the 
same casual way in which he had started 
and dropped down lazily upon the grass to 
wait until Udo was ready to mount. He 
was not thinking of Udo. He was wonder- 
ing if Princess Hyacinth had an attendant 
of surpassing beauty, or a dragon of sur- 
passing malevolence if, in fact, there were 
any adventures in Euralia for a humble 
fellow like himself. 

'Coronel!' said a small voice behind him. 

He turned round indifferently. 

"Hullo, Udo, where are you?' he said. 
'Isn't it time we were starting?' 

'We aren't starting," said the voice. 

'What's the matter? What are you hid- 
ing in the bushes for? Whatever 's the matter, 
Udo? 

'I'm not very well." 

"My poor Udo, what's happened?" He 
jumped up and made towards him. 

132 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

"Stop!" shrieked the voice. "I command 
you!" 

Coronel stopped. 

"Your Royal Highness's commands," he 
began rather coldly 

There was an ominous sniffing from the 
bushes. 

"Coronel," said an unhappy voice at last, 



"I think I'm coming out." 



Wondering what it all meant, Coronel 
waited in silence. 

"Yes, I am coming out, Coronel," said 
the voice. "But you mustn't be surprised 
if I don't look very well. I'm- -I'm 
Coronel, here I am," said Udo pathetically 
and he stepped out. 

Coronel didn't know whether to laugh or 
to cry. 

Poor Prince Udo! 

He had the head and the long ears of a 
rabbit, and in some unfortunate way a look 
of the real Prince Udo in spite of it. He had 

133 




Coronel, here I am," said Udo 
pathetically, and he stepped out 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

the mane and the tail of a lion. In between 
the tail and the rnane it is difficult to say 
what he was, save that there was an impres- 
sion of magnificence about his person such 
magnificence, anyhow, as is given by an 
astrakhan-trimmed fur coat. 

Coronel decided that it was an occasion 
for tact. 

"Ah, here you are," he said cheerfully. 
"Shall we get along?" 

"Don't be a fool, Coronel," said Udo, 
almost crying. "Don't pretend that you 
can't see that I've got a tail." 

"Why, bless my soul, so you have. A 
tail! Well, think of that!" 

Udo showed what he thought of it by 
waving it peevishly. 

"This is not a time for tact," he said. 
"Tell me what I look like." 

Coronel considered for a moment. 
Really frankly?" he asked. 
Y yes," said Udo nervously. 

134 



(6 
66 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

'Then, frankly, your Royal Highness looks 
funny. ' ; 

'Very funny?" said Udo wistfully. 

'Very funny," said Coronel. 
His Highness sighed. 

"I was afraid so," he said. "That's the 
cruel part about it. Had I been a lion there 
would have been a certain pathetic splen- 
dour about my position. Isolated cut off- 
suffering in regal silence.' He waved an 
explanatory paw. 'Even in the most hide- 
ous of beasts there might be a dignity." He 
meditated for a moment. 'Have you ever 
seen a yak, Coronel?" he asked. 
"Never." 

*I saw one once in Barodia. It is not a 
beautiful animal, Coronel; but as a yak I 
should not have been entirely unlovable. 
One does not laugh at a yak, Coronel, and 
where one does not laugh one may come 
to love. . . . What does my head look 

like?" - . . ... til 

135 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 



'It looks striking.' 1 



It looks striking. : 
I haven't seen it, you see/ 
'To one who didn't know your Royal 
Highness it would convey the impression 
of a rabbit.' 3 

Udo laid his head between his paws and 
wept. 

"A r rabbit!' he sobbed. So un- 
dignified, so lacking in true pathos, so 

And not even a whole rabbit," he added 
bitterly. 

"How did it happen?' 

"I don't know, Coronel. I just went to 
sleep, and woke up feeling rather funny, 

and " He sat up suddenly and stared 

at Coronel. 'It was that old woman did 
it. You mark my words, Coronel; she did 
it." 

"Why should she?" 

"I don't know. I was very polite to her. 
Don't you remember my saying to you, 
'Be polite to her, because she's probably a 

136 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

fairy!' You see, I saw through her disguise 
at once. Coronel, what shall we do? Let's 
hold a council of war and think it over." 

So they held a council of war. 

Prince Udo put forward two suggestions. 

The first was that Coronel should go back 
on the morrow and kill the old woman. 

The second was that Coronel should go 
back that afternoon and kill the old woman. 

Coronel pointed out that as she had turned 
Prince Udo into into a a ("Quite so," 
said Udo)- -it w r as likely that she alone could 
turn him back again, and that in that case he 
had better only threaten her. 

"I want somebody killed," said Udo, rather 
naturally. 

"Suppose," said Coronel, 'you stay here 
for two days while I go back and see the old 
witch, and make her tell me what she knows. 
She knows something, I'm certain. Then 
we shall see better what to do." 

Udo mused for a space. 

137 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

"Why didn't they turn you into anything?' 
he asked. 

'Really, I don't know. Perhaps because 
I'm too unimportant.' 1 

; Yes, that must be it.' : He began to feel 
a little brighter. 'Obviously, that's it." He 
caressed a whisker with one of his paws. 
'They were afraid of me.' : 

He began to look so much happier that 
Coronel thought it was a favourable moment 
in which to withdraw. 

'Shall I go now, your Royal Highness?' 
: Yes, yes, you may leave me." 
'And shall I find you here when I come 
back?" 

: You may or you may not, Coronel; you 
may or you may not. . . . Afraid of me," 
he murmured to himself. 'Obviously." 
"And if I don't?" 
: Then return to the Palace." 
'Good-bye, your Royal Highness.' 3 
Udo waved a paw at him. 

138 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

'Good-bye, good-bye. " 

Coronel got on his horse and rode away. 
As soon as he was out of earshot he began to 
laugh. Spasm after spasm shook him. No 
sooner had he composed himself to gravity 
than a remembrance of Udo's appearance 
started him off again. 

'I couldn't have stayed with him a 
moment longer," he thought. "I should 
have burst. Poor Udo! However, we'll 
soon get him all right." 

That evening he reached the place where 
the cottage had stood, but it was gone. Next 
morning he rode back to the wood. Udo 
was gone too. He returned to the Palace, 
and began to think it out. 



Left to himself Udo very soon made up 
his mind. There were three courses open 
to him. 

139 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

He might stay where he was till he was 
restored to health. 

This he rejected at once. When you have 
the head of a rabbit, the tail of a lion, and 
the middle of a woolly lamb, the need for 
action of some kind is imperative. All the 
blood of your diverse ancestors calls to you 
to be up and doing. 

He might go back to Araby. 

To Araby, where he was so well-known, 
so respected, so popular? To Araby, where 
he rode daily among his father's subjects 
that they might have the pleasure of cheering 
him? How awkward for everybody! 

On to Euralia then? 

Why not? The Princess Hyacinth had 
called for him. What devotion it showed if 
he came to her even now in his present 
state of bad health! She was in trouble: 
enchanters, wizards, what-nots. Already, 
then, he had suffered in her service so at 

least he would say, and so possibly it might 

140 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

be. Coronel had thought him funny; but 
women had not much sense of humour as a 
rule. Probably as a child Hyacinth had kept 
rabbits ... or lambs. She would find him 
strokable. . . . And the lion in him 
... in his tail, his fierce mane . . . she 
would find that inspiring. Women like to 
feel that there is something fierce, untamable 
in the man they love; well, there it was. 

It was not as if he had Coronel with him. 
Coronel and he (in his present health) could 
never have gone into Euralia together; 
the contrast was too striking; but he alone, 
Hyacinth's only help! Surely she would 
appreciate his magnanimity. 

Also, as he had told himself a moment ago, 
there was quite a chance that it was a 
Euralian enchanter who had put this upon 
him to prevent him helping Hyacinth. If 
so, he had better go to Euralia in order to 
deal with that enchanter. For the moment, 
he did not see exactly how to deal with him, 

141 



THEY ARE AFRAID OF UDO 

but no doubt he would think of some tremen- 
dously cunning device later on. 

To Euralia then with all dispatch. 

He trotted off. As Coronel had said 5 
they were evidently afraid of him. 



142 




T 



CHAPTER X 

CHARLOTTE PATACAKE ASTONISHES THE CRITICS 

"\HE Lady Bel vane sits in her garden. She 
is very happy. An enormous quill-pen, 
taken from a former favourite goose 
and coloured red, is in her right hand. The 
hair of her dark head, held on one side, touches 
the paper whereon she writes, and her little 
tongue peeps out between her red lips. Her 
left hand taps the table one-tw T o, one-two, 
one-two, one-two, one-two. She is composing. 
Wonderful woman! 

143 



CHARLOTTE PATACAKE 

You remember that scene with the Prin- 
cess Hyacinth? "I feel we want a little out- 
side help in our affairs." A fortnight of 
suspense before Prince Udo arrived. What 
had the ring done to him? At the best, even 
if there would be no Udo at all to interfere, 
nevertheless she knew that she had lost her 
footing at the Palace. She and the Princess 
would now be open enemies. At the worst 
those magic rings were so untrustworthy! a 
Prince, still powerful, and now seriously an- 
noyed, might be leagued against her. 

Yet she composed. 

And what is she writing? She is enter- 
ing for the competition in connection with 
the Encouragement of Literature Scheme: 
the last scheme which the Princess had 
signed. 

I like to think of her peacefully writing 
at a time when her whole future hung in 
the balance. Roger sneers at her. 'Even 
now," he says, "she was hoping to wring 

144 



ASTONISHES THE CRITICS 

a last bag-full of gold from her wretched 
country." I deny emphatically that she 
was doing anything of the sort. She was 
entering for a duly authorised competition 
under the pen-name of Charlotte Patacake. 
The fact that the Countess Belvane, accord- 
ing to the provisions of the scheme, was sole 
judge of the competition, is beside the point. 
Belvane's opinion of Charlotte Patacake's 
poetry was utterly sincere, and uninfluenced 
in any way by monetary considerations. 
If Patacake were rewarded the first prize it 
would be because Belvane honestly thought 
she was worth it. 

One other fact by way of defence against 
Roger's slanders. As judge, Belvane had 
chosen the subject of the prize poems. Now 
Belvane and Patacake both excelled in the 
lighter forms of lyrical verse; yet the subject 
of the poem was to be epic. 'The Barodo- 
Euralian War ' no less. How many modern 
writers would be as fair? 

145 



CHARLOTTE PATACAKE 
"THE BARODO-EURALIAN WAR." 

This line is written in gold, and by itself 
would obtain a prize in any local compe- 
tition. 

King Merriwig the First rode out to war 

As many other kings had done before! 

Five hundred men behind him marched to fight 

There follows a good deal of scratching 
out, and then comes (a sudden inspiration) 
this sublimely simple line: 

Left-right, left-right, left-right left-right, left-right. 

One can almost hear the men moving. 

What gladsome cheers assailed the balmy air 
They came from north, from south, from everywhere! 
No wight that stood upon that sacred scene 
Could gaze upon the sight unmoved, I ween: 
No wight that stood upon that sacred spot 
Vould gaze upon the sight unmoved, I wot: 

It is not quite clear whether the last 
couplet is an alternative to the couplet 
before or is purposely added in order to 

146 



ASTONISHES THE CRITICS 

strengthen it. Looking over her left shoul- 
der it seems to me that there is a line drawn 
through the first one, but I cannot see very 
clearly because of her hair, which will keep 
straying over the page. 

Why do they march so fearless and so bold? 
The answer is not very quickly told. 
To put it shortly, the Barodian king 
Insulted Merriwig like anything 
King Merriwig, the dignified and wise, 
Who saw him flying over with surprise, 
As did his daughter, Princess Hyacinth. 

This was as far as she had got. 

She left the table and began to walk round 
her garden. There is nothing like it for 
assisting thought. However, to-day it was 
not helping much; she w r ent three times 
round and still couldn't think of a rhyme for 
Hyacinth. "Plinth* was a little difficult to 
work in; 'besides,' 3 she reminded herself, 
*I don't quite know what it means.' 1 Bel- 
vane felt as I do about poetry: that however 

147 



\ 



CHARLOTTE PATACAKE 

incomprehensible it may be to the public, 
the author should be quite at ease with it. 

She added up the lines she had written 
already seventeen. If she stopped there, 
it would be the only epic that had stopped 
at the seventeenth line. 

She sighed, stretched her arms, and looked 
up at the sky. The weather was all against 
her. It was the ideal largesse morning. . . . 

Twenty minutes later she was on her 
cream- white palfrey. Tw T enty-one minutes 
later Henrietta Crossbuns had received a bag 
of gold neatly under the eye, as she bobbed 
to her Ladyship. To this extent only did 
H. Crossbuns leave her mark upon Euralian 
history; but it was a mark which lasted for a 
full month. 

Hyacinth knew nothing of all this. She 
did not even know that Belvane was enter- 
ing for the prize poem. She had forgotten 
her promise to encourage literature in the 
realm. 

148 



ASTONISHES THE CRITICS 

And why? Ah, ladies, can you not guess 
why? She was thinking of Prince Udo of 
Araby. What did he look like? Was he 
dark or fair? Did his hair curl naturally or 
not? 

Was he wondering at all what she looked 
like? 

W r iggs had already decided that he was 
to fall in love with her Royal Highness and 
marry her. 

"I think/' said Wiggs, "that he'll be very 
tall, and have lovely blue eyes and golden 
hair." 

This was what they were like in all the 
books she had ever dusted; like this were 
the seven Princes (now pursuing perilous 
adventures in distant countries) to whom 
the King had promised Hyacinth's hand 
Prince Hanspatch of Tregong, Prince Ulric, 
the Duke of Highanlow, and all the rest of 
them. Poor Prince Ulric! In the moment 
of victory he was accidentally fallen upon 

149 




Twenty-one minutes later Henrietta Crossbuns 
was acknowledging a bag of gold 



CHARLOTTE PATACAKE 

by the giant whom he was engaged in under- 
mining, and lost all appetite for adventure 
thereby. Indeed, in his latter years he 
was alarmed by anything larger than a 
goldfish, and lived a life of the strictest 
seclusion. 

'/ think he'll be dark," said Hyacinth. 
Her own hair was corn-coloured. 

Poor Prince Hanspatch of Tregong; I've 
just remembered about him no, I haven't, 
it was the Duke of Highanlow. Poor Duke 
of Highanlow! A misunderstanding with a 
wizard having caused his head to face the 
wrong way round, he was so often said good- 
bye to at the very moment of arrival, that he 
gradually lost his enthusiasm for social enter- 
prises and confined himself to his own palace, 
where his acrobatic dexterity in supplying 
himself with soup was a constant source of 
admiration to his servants. . . . 

However, it was Prince Udo of whom they 
were thinking now. The Messenger had re- 

150 



ASTONISHES THE CRITICS 

turned from Araby; his Royal Highness must 
be expected on the morrow. 

'I do hope he'll be comfortable in the 
Purple Room," said Hyacinth. "I wonder 
if it wouldn't have been better to have left 
him in the Blue Room, after all." 

They had had him in the Blue Room two 
days ago, until Hyacinth thought that per- 
haps he would be more comfortable in the 
Purple Room, after all. 

'The Purple Room has the best view," 
said Wiggs helpfully. 

'And it gets the sun. Wiggs, don't for- 
get to put some flowers there. And have 
you given him any books?' 

'I gave him two,' 3 said Wiggs. "Quests 
for Princes, and Wild Animals at Home.' 

' Oh, I'm sure he'll like those. Now 
let's think what we shall do when he 
comes. He'll arrive some time in the after- 
noon. Naturally he will want a little re- 
freshment." 

151 



CHARLOTTE PATACAKE 

'Would he like a picnic in the forest?' 
asked Wiggs. 

' I don't think any one wants a picnic after 
a long journey." 

"I love picnics." 

"Yes, dear; but, you see, Prince Udo's 
much older than you, and I expect he's had 
so many picnics that he's tired of them. I 
suppose really I ought to receive him in the 
Throne Room, but that's so so ' 

"Stuffy," said Wiggs. 

"That's just it. We should feel uncom- 
fortable with each other the whole time. I 
think I shall receive him up here ; I never feel 
so nervous in the open air." 

"Will the Countess be here?" asked Wiggs. 

"No," said the Princess coldly. "At 
least," she corrected herself, 'she will not be 
invited. Good afternoon, Countess." It was 
like her, thought Hyacinth, to arrive at that 
very moment. 

Belvane curtsied low. 

152 



ASTONISHES THE CRITICS 

"Good afternoon, your Royal Highness. 
I am here purely on a matter of business. I 
thought it my duty to inform your Royal 
Highness of the result of the Literature 
prize." She spoke meekly, and as one who 
forgave Hyacinth for her unkindness towards 
her. 

"Certainly, Countess. I shall be glad to 
hear.' 1 

The Countess unrolled a parchment. 

"The prize has been won," she said, 

"by she held the parchment a little 

closer to her eyes, "by Charlotte Patacake." 

"Oh, yes. Who is she?" 

"A most deserving woman, your Royal 
Highness. If she is the woman I'm think- 
ing of, a most deserving person, to whom the 
money will be more than welcome. Her 
poem shows a sense of values combined with 
er breadth, and er distance, such as I 
have seldom seen equalled. The er 

technique is only excelled by the shall I 

153 



CHARLOTTE PATACAKE 

say? temperamentality, the boldness of the 
colouring, by the how shall I put it? the 

firmness of the outline. In short ' 

'In short," said the Princess, "you like it.' : 
Your Royal Highness, it is unique. But 
naturally you will wish to hear it for your- 
self. It is only some twelve hundred lines 
long. I will declaim it to your Royal 
Highness.' 1 

She held the manuscript out at the full 
length of her left arm, struck an attitude 
with the right arm, and began in her most 
thrilling voice: 



King Merriwig the First rode out to war, 
As many other kings " 



Yes, Countess, but another time. I am 
busy this afternoon. As you know, I think, 
the Prince Udo of Araby arrives to-morrow, 

and " 

Belvane's lips were still moving, and her 
right arm swayed up and down. "What 

154 



ASTONISHES THE CRITICS 

gladsome cheers assailed the balmy air!' she 
murmured to herself, and her hand went up 
to heaven. ' They come from north, from 
south' (she pointed in the directions men- 
tioned), 'from everywhere. No wight that 
stood " 

'He will be received privately up here 
by myself in the first place, and after- 
wards- 

' Could gaze upon the sight unmoved, I wot," 
whispered Belvane, and placed her hand upon 
her breast to show that anyhow it had been 
too much for her. (t Why do they march so- 
I beg your Royal Highness 's pardon. I was 
so carried away by this wonderful poem. I 
do beg of your Royal Highness to read it." 

The Princess waved the manuscript aside. 

'I am not unmindful of the claims of litera- 
ture, Countess, and I shall certainly read the 
poem another time. Meanwhile I can, I hope, 
trust you to see that the prize is awarded to 
the rightful winner. What I am telling you 

155 



CHARLOTTE PATACAKE 

now is that the Prince Udo is arriving 
to-morrow. " 

Belvane looked innocently puzzled. 
'Prince Udo Udo would that be Prince 
Udo of Carroway, your Royal Highness? A 
tall man with three legs?' 

'Prince Udo of Araby," said Hyacinth 
severely. "I think I have already men- 
tioned him to your ladyship. He will make 
a stay of some months." 

"But how delightful, your Royal High- 
ness, to see a man again ! We were all getting 
so dull together! We want a man to wake 
us up a little, don't we, Wiggs? I will go and 
give orders about his room at once, your 
Royal Highness. You will wish him to be in 
the Purple Room, of course?' 

That settled it. 

"He will be in the Blue Room," said 
Hyacinth decidedly. 

"Certainly, your Royal Highness. Fancy, 

Wiggs, a man again ! I will go and see about it 

156 



ASTONISHES THE CRITICS 

now, if I may have your Royal Highness's 
leave to withdraw?' 

A little mystified by Belvane's manner, 
Hyacinth inclined her head, and the Countess 
withdrew. 




CHAPTER XI 

WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO WITH THE EARS 

WIGGS gave a parting pat to the table- 
cloth and stood looking at it with 
her head on one side. 

"Now, then," she said, "have we got every- 
thing?" 

"What about sardines?' said Woggs in 
her common way. (I don't know what she's 
doing in this scene at all, but Roger Scurvilegs 
insists on it.) 

"I don't think a Prince would like sardines,'' 
said Wiggs. 

'If Pd been on a long journey, I'd love 

159 



WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO 

sardines. It is a very long journey from 
Araby, isn't it?' 

'Awful long. Why, it's taken him nearly 
a week. Perhaps," she added hopefully, "he's 
had something on the way.' : 

'Perhaps he took some sandwiches with 
him," said Woggs, thinking that this would 
be a good thing to do. 

"What do you think he'll be like, Woggs?" 

Woggs thought for a long time. 

"Like the King," she said. "Only differ- 
ent," she added, as an afterthought. 

Up came the Princess for the fifth time that 
afternoon, all excitement. 

"Well," she said, "is everything ready?' 
; Yes, your Royal Highness. Except 
Woggs and me didn't quite know about 
sardines.' 1 

The Princess laughed happily. 
'I think there will be enough there for him. 
It all looks very nice.' 1 

She turned round and discovered behind 

160 



WITH THE EAES 

her the last person she wanted to see just 
then. 

The-last-person-she-wanted-to-see-just-then 
curtsied effectively. 

'Forgive me, your Royal Highness/' she 
said profusely, 'but I thought I had left 
Charlotte Patacake's priceless manuscript up 
here. No; evidently I was mistaken, your 
Royal Highness. I will withdraw, your Royal 
Highness, as I know your Royal Highness 
would naturally wish to receive his Royal 
Highness alone. " 

Listening to this speech one is impressed 
with Woggs' method of calling everybody 
"Mum." 

'Not at all, Countess,' 3 said Hyacinth 
coldly. "We would prefer you to stay and 
help us receive his Royal Highness. He is a 
little late, I think." 

Bel vane looked unspeakably distressed. 

"Oh, I do hope that nothing has happened 
to him on the w^ay," she exclaimed. 'I've 
11 161 




Princess Hyacinth gave a shriek 
and faltered slowly backwards 



WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO 

had an uneasy feeling lately that something 
may have occurred." 

'What could have happened to him?' 
asked Hyacinth, not apparently very much 
alarmed. 

4 Oh, your Royal Highness, it's just a sort 
of silly feeling of mine. There may be 
nothing in it.' : 

There was a noise of footsteps from below; 
a man's voice was heard. The Princess and 
the Countess, both extremely nervous, but 
from entirely different reasons, arranged suit- 
able smiles of greeting upon their faces ; Wiggs 
and Woggs stood in attitudes of appropriate 
meekness by the table. The Court Painter 
could have made a beautiful picture of it. 

"His Royal Highness Prince Udo of 
Araby," announced the voice of an at- 
tendant. 

"A nervous moment," said Bel vane to her- 
self. "Can the ring have failed to act?' 

Udo trotted in. 

162 



WITH THE EARS 

'It hasn't," said Belvane. 

Princess Hyacinth gave a shriek, and fal- 
tered slowly backwards; Wiggs, who was 
familiar with these little accidents in the books 
which she dusted, and Woggs, who had a 
natural love for any kind of animal, stood 
their ground. 

'Whatever is it?" murmured Hyacinth. 
It was as well that Belvane was there. 

'Allow me to present to your Royal High- 
ness," she said, stepping forward, "his Royal 
Highness Prince Udo of Araby.' : 

'Prince Udo?' said Hyacinth, all unwill- 
ing to believe it. 

'I'm afraid so," said Udo gloomily. He 
had thought over this meeting a good deal 
in the last two or three days, and he realised 
now that he had underestimated the diffi- 
culties of it. 

Hyacinth remembered that she was a 
Princess and a woman. 

I'm delighted to welcome your Royal 

163 



it T> 



WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO 

Highness to Euralia," she said. "Won't you 
sit down I mean up er, down." (How did 
rabbits sit? Or whatever he was?) 

Udo decided to sit up. 

"Thank you. You've no idea how diffi- 
cult it is to talk on four legs to somebody 
higher up. It strains the neck so.' : 

There was an awkward silence. Nobody 
quite knew what to say. 

Except Bel vane. 

She turned to Udo with her most charming 
smile. 

'Did you have a pleasant journey?' she 
asked sweetly. 

"No," said Udo coldly. 

"Oh, do tell us what happened to you?' 
cried Hyacinth. "Did you meet some ter- 
rible enchanter on the way? Oh, I am so 
dreadfully sorry.' 1 

When one is not feeling very well there is 
a certain type of question which is always 
annoying. 

164 



WITH THE EARS 

'Can't you see what's happened to me?' 3 
said Udo crossly. 'I don't know how it 
happened. I had come two days' journey 
from Araby, when- 

" Please, your Royal Highness," said Wiggs, 

'is this your tail in the salt?' She took it 

out, gave it a shake, and handed it back to him. 

4 Oh, thank you, thank you- -two days' 
journey from Araby when I woke up one 
afternoon and found myself like this. I ask 
you to imagine my annoyance. My first 
thought naturally was to return home and 
hide myself; but I told myself, Princess, that 
you wanted me." 

The Princess could not help being touched 
by this, said as it was with a graceful move- 
ment of the ears and a caressing of the right 
whisker, but she wondered a little what she 
would do with him now that she had got him. 

'Er what are you?' put in Bel vane 
kindly, knowing how men are always glad to 
talk about themselves. 

165 



WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO 

Udo had caught sight of a well-covered 
table, and was looking at it with a curious 
mixture of hope and resignation. 

'Very, very hungry," he said, speaking 
with the air of one who knows. 

The Princess, whose mind had been travel- 
ling, woke up suddenly. 

'Oh, I was forgetting my manners," she 
said with a smile for which the greediest 
would have forgiven her. 'Let us sit down 
and refresh ourselves. May I present to 
your Royal Highness the Countess Bel vane." 

'Do I shake hands or pat him?' mur- 
mured that mistress of Court etiquette, for 
once at a loss. 

Udo placed a paw over his heart and bowed 
profoundly. 

'Charmed," he said gallantly, and coming 
from a cross between a lion, a rabbit, and a 
woolly lamb the merest suggestion of gallantry 
has a most pleasing effect. 

They grouped themselves round the repast. 

166 



WITH THE EARS 

"A little sherbet, your Royal Highness?'' 
said Hyacinth, who presided over the bowl. 

Udo was evidently longing to say yes, but 
hesitated. 

'I wonder if I dare.' ! 

'It's very good sherbet," said Wiggs, to 
encourage him. 

'I'm sure it is, my dear. But the question 
is, Do I like sherbet?' 

You can't help knowing if you like 
sherbet. 9 ' 

'Don't bother him, Wiggs," said Hyacinth, 
'a venison sandwich, dear Prince?' 

: The question is, Do I like venison sand- 
wiches ? ' 

4 1 do," announced Woggs to any one who 
was interested. 

'You see,'" explained Udo, 'I really don't 
know what I like.' : 

They were all surprised at this, particu- 
larly Woggs. Belvane, who was enjoying 
herself too much to wish to do anything but 

167 



WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO 

listen, said nothing, and it was the Princess 
who obliged Udo by asking him what he 
meant. It was a subject upon which he was 
longing to let himself go to somebody. 

'Well," he said, expanding himself a little, 
so that Wiggs had to remove his tail this time 
from the custard, "what am I?' 

Nobody ventured to offer an opinion. 

"Am I a hare? Then put me next to the 
red currant jelly, or whatever it is that hares 
like." 

The anxious eye of the hostess wandered 
over the table. 

"Am I a lion?' went on Udo, developing 
his theme. 'Then pass me Wiggs. " 

"Oh, please don't be a lion," said Wiggs 
gently, as she stroked his mane. 

"But haven't you a feeling for anything? 5 
asked Hyacinth. 

"I have a great feeling of emptiness. I 
yearn for something, only I don't quite know 

what." 

168 



WITH THE EARS 

"I hope it isn't sardines/' whispered Wiggs 
to Woggs. 

"But what have you been eating on the 
way?" asked the Princess. 

"Oh, grass and things chiefly. I thought 
I should be safe with grass." 

"And were you er safe?' asked Bel- 
vane, with a great show of anxiety. 

Udo coughed and said nothing. 
I know it's silly of me," said Hyacinth, 

but I still don't quite understand. I should 
have thought that if you were a a- 

" Quite so," said Udo. 

" then you would have known by in- 
stinct what a a ' 



st 

66 



. , 



1 Exactly," said Udo. 
"Likes to eat." 

"Ah, I thought you'd think that. That's 
just what I thought when this when I 
began to feel unwell. But I've worked it out 
since, and it's all wrong.' 1 

: This is interesting," said Belvane, set- 

169 



. . 



WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO 
tling herself more comfortably. 'Do go 



on. : 



"Well, when " He coughed and looked 

round at them coyly. 'This is really rather 
a delicate subject.' 1 

"Not at all," murmured Hyacinth. 

"Well, it's like this. When an enchanter 
wants to annoy you he generally turns you 
into an animal of some kind.' : 

Belvane achieved her first blush since she 
was seventeen. 

"It is a humorous way they have," she 
said. 

"But suppose you really were an animal 
altogether, it wouldn't annoy you at all. An 
elephant isn't annoyed at being an elephant; 
he just tries to be a good elephant, and he'd 
be miserable if he couldn't do things with his 
trunk. The annoying thing is to look like 
an elephant, to have the very complicated 
er inside of an elephant, and yet all the time 
really to be a man.' : 

170 



WITH THE EARS 

They were all intensely interested. Woggs 
thought that it was going to lead up to a 
revelation of what sort of animal Prince Udo 
really was, but in this she was destined to be 
disappointed. After all there were advan- 
tages in Udo's present position. As a man 
he had never been listened to so attentively. 

"Now suppose for a moment I am a lion. 
I have the er delicate apparatus of a lion, 
but the beautiful thoughts and aspirations 
of a Prince. Thus there is one er side 
of me which craves for raw beef, but none 
the less there is a higher side of me' (he 
brought his paw up towards his heart) , "which 
well, you know how you'd feel about it 
yourself.' 

The Princess shuddered. 

"I should" she said, with conviction. 

Bel vane was interested, but thought it all 
a little crude. 

"You see the point," went on Udo. 'A 
baby left to itself doesn't know what is good 

171 



WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO 

for it. Left to itself it would eat anything. 
Now turn a man suddenly into an animal and 
he is in exactly the same state as that baby.' : 

'I hadn't thought of it like that," said 
Hyacinth. 

'I've had to think of it! Now let us pro- 
ceed further with the matter.'' Udo was 
thoroughly enjoying himself. He had not 
had such a time since he had given an address 
on Beetles to all the leading citizens of Araby 
at his coming-of-age. ' Suppose again that I 
am a lion. I know from what I have read 
or seen that raw meat agrees best with the 
lion's er organisation, and however objec- 
tionable it might look I should be foolish not 
to turn to it for sustenance. But if you 
don't quite know what animal you're sup- 
posed to be, see how difficult the problem 
becomes. It's a question of trying all sorts 
of horrible things in order to find out what 
agrees with you." His eyes took on a far- 
away look, a look in which the most poignant 

172 



WITH THE EARS 

memories seemed to be reflected. 'I've been 
experimenting," he said, 'for the last three 
days." 

They all gazed sadly and sympathetically 
at him. Except Bel vane. She of course 
wouldn't. 

"What went best?" she asked brightly. 

"Oddly enough," said Udo, cheering up a 
little, "banana fritters. Have you ever kept 
an animal who lived entirely on banana frit- 
ters?" 

"Never," smiled the Princess. 

"Well, that's the animal I probably am." 
He sighed and added, 'There were one or 
two animals I wasn't." For a little while 
he seemed to be revolving bitter memories, 
and then went on, 4 I don't suppose any of 
you here have any idea how very prickly 
thistles are when they are going down. Er 
may I try a watercress sandwich? It doesn't 
suit the tail, but it seems to go with the ears." 
He took a large bite and added through the 

173 



WATERCRESS SEEMS TO GO 

leaves, 'I hope I don't bore you, Princess, 
with my little troubles.' 1 

Hyacinth clasped his paw impulsively. 

"My dear Prince Udo, I'm only longing 
to help. We must think of some way of get- 
ting this horrible enchantment off you. There 
are so many wise books in the library, and 
my father has composed a spell which oh, I'm 
sure we shall soon have you all right again.' 1 

Udo took another sandwich. 
'Very good of you, Princess, to say so. 
You understand how annoying a little indis- 
position of this kind is to a man of my tempera- 
ment.' 1 He beckoned to Wiggs. "How do 
you make these?" he asked in an undertone. 

Gracefully undulating, Belvane rose from 
her seat. 

"Well," she said, "I must go and see that 

the stable " she broke off in a pretty 

confusion "How silly of me, I mean the 
Royal Apartment is prepared. Have I your 
Royal Highness's leave to withdraw?' 

174 



WITH THE EARS 

She had. 

"And, Wiggs, dear, you too had better run 
along and see if you can help. You may 
leave the watercress sandwiches," she added, 
as Wiggs hesitated for a moment. 

With a grateful look at her Royal Highness 
Udo helped himself to another one. 



175 




CHAPTER XII 



WE DECIDE TO WRITE TO TJDO S FATHER 



N 



OW, my dear Princess," said Udo, as 
soon as they were alone. 'Let me 
know in what way I can help you." 
"Oh, Prince Udo," said Hyacinth ear- 
nestly, "it is good of you to have come. I 
feel that this this little accident is really 
my fault for having asked you here." 

"Not at all, dear lady. It is the sort of 
little accident that might have happened to 
anybody, anywhere. If I can still be of 
assistance to you, pray inform me. Though 
my physical powers may not for the moment 

177 



WE DECIDE TO WRITE 

be quite what they were, I flatter myself 
that my mental capabilities are in no way 
diminished.' 1 He took another bite of his 
sandwich and wagged his head wisely at her. 

"Let's come over here," said Hyacinth. 

She moved across to an old stone seat in 
the wall, Udo following with the plate, and 
made room for him by her side. There is, 
of course, a way of indicating to a gentle- 
man that he may sit next to you on the 
Chesterfield, and tell you what he has been 
doing in town lately, and there is also 
another way of patting the sofa for Fido to 
jump up and be-a-good-dog-and-lie-down- 
sir. Hyacinth achieved something very 
tactful in between, and Udo jumped up 
gracefully. 

'Now we can talk," said Hyacinth. 
: You noticed that lady, the Countess Bel- 
vane, whom I presented to you ? ' 

Udo nodded. 

"What did you think of her?" ^ ^ 

178 



TO UDO'S FATHER 

Udo was old enough to know what to say 
to that. 

'I hardly looked at her," he said. And 
he added with a deep bow, 'Naturally, 
when your Royal Highness oh, I beg your 
pardon, are my ears in your way? 5 

'It's all right," said Hyacinth, rearranging 
her hair. 'Well, it was because of that 
woman that I sent for you." 

'But I can't marry her like this, your 
Royal Highness.' 1 

Hyacinth turned a startled face towards 
him. Udo perceived that he had blundered. 
To hide his confusion he took another sand- 
wich and ate it very quickly. 

'I want your help against her," said 
Hyacinth, a little distantly; "she is plotting 
against me." 

'Oh, your Royal Highness, now I see," 
said Udo, and he w r agged his head as much 
as to say, : You've come to the right man 
this time." 

179 




Now we can talk, 
said Hyacinth 



WE DECIDE TO WRITE 

don't trust her," said Hyacinth im- 
pressively. 

'Well, now, Princess, I'm not surprised. 
I'll tell you something about that woman.' 3 

"Oh, what?" 

'Well, when I was announced just now, 
what happened? You, yourself, Princess, 
were not unnaturally a little alarmed; those 
two little girls were surprised and excited; 
but what of this Countess Belvane? What 
did she do?" 

" What did she do?" 

'Nothing," said Udo impressively. 'She 
was neither surprised nor alarmed.' 1 

"Why, now I come to think of it, I don't 
believe she was.' 

'And yet," said Udo half pathetically, 
half proudly, 'Princes don't generally look 
like this. Now, why wasn't she surprised?' 

Hyacinth looked bewildered. 

'Did she know you were sending for 
me?' Udo went on. 

180 



TO UDO'S FATHER 



Yes." 

cc 



Because you had found out something 
about her?' 

"Yes." 

"Then depend upon it, she's done it. 
What a mind that woman must have ! ' 

"But how could she do it?' exclaimed 
Hyacinth. 'Of course it's just the sort of 
thing she would do if she could.'' 

Udo didn't answer. He was feeling 
rather annoyed with Belvane, and had 
got off his seat and was trotting up and 
down so as not to show his feelings before 
a lady. 

'How could she do it?' implored 
Hyacinth. 

4 Oh, she's in with some enchanter or 
somebody," said Udo impatiently, as he 
trotted past. 

Suddenly he had an idea. He stopped in 
front of her. 

' If only I were sure I was a lion." 

181 



WE DECIDE TO WRITE 

He tried to roar, exclaimed hastily that 
it was only a practice one, and roared again. 
'No, I don't think I'm a lion after all," he 
admitted sadly. 

"Well," said Hyacinth, "we must 
think of a plan." 

'We must think of a plan," said Udo, 
and he came and sat meekly beside her 
again. He could conceal it from himself 
no longer that he was not a lion. The fact 
depressed him. 

"I suppose I have been weak," went on 
Hyacinth, 'but ever since the men went 
away she has been the ruling spirit of the 
country. I think she is plotting against 
me; I know she is robbing me. I asked you 
here so that you could help me to find her 
out." 

Udo nodded his head importantly. 

"We must watch her," he announced. 

"We must watch her," agreed Hyacinth. 
"It may take months ' 



182 



TO UDO'S FATHER 

"Did you say months?" said Udo, turning 
to her excitedly. 

"Yes, why?" 

" Well, it's- ' he gave a deprecating little 
cough. "I know it's very silly of me but 
oh, well, let's hope it will be all right.' 1 

"Why, whatever is the matter?' 

Udo was decidedly embarrassed. He 
wriggled. He drew little circles with his 
hind paw on the ground and he shot little 
coy glances at her. 

"Well, I' -and he gave a little ner- 
vous giggle "I have a sort of uneasy 
feeling that I may be one of those 
animals' he gave another conscious little 
laugh- 'that have to go to sleep all 
through the winter. It would be very 
annoying if I ' -his paw became very busy 
here 'if I had to dig a little hole in the 
ground, just when the plot was thickening." 
Oh, but you won't," said Hyacinth, in 
distress. 

183 



WE DECIDE TO WRITE 
v 

They were both silent for a moment, think- 
ing of the awful possibilities. Udo's tail 
had fallen across Hyacinth's lap, and she 
began to play with it absently. 

"Anyway," she said hopefully, "it's only 
July now.' : 

"Ye es," said Udo. *I suppose I should 
get er busy about November. We ought 
to find out something before then. First 

of all we'd better Oh!' He started 

up in dismay. 'I've just had a horrible 
thought. Don't I have to collect a little 
store of nuts and things?' 

"Surely " 

"I should have to start that pretty soon," 
said Udo thoughtfully. ; You know, I 
shouldn't be very handy at it. Climbing 
about after nuts," he went on dreamily, 
"what a life for a ' 

"Oh, don't!" pleaded Hyacinth. "Surely 
only squirrels do that?' 

"Yes yes. Now, if I were a squirrel. 

184 



TO UDO'S FATHER 



I should may I have my tail for a mo- 
ment?' 

"Oh, I'm so sorry," said Hyacinth, very 
much confused as she realised the liberty 
she had been taking, and she handed his 
tail back to him. 

"Not at all," said Udo. 

He took it firmly in his right hand. 
"Now then," he said, 'we shall see. Watch 
this." 

Sitting up on his back legs he arched his 
tail over his head, and letting go of it 
suddenly, began to nibble at a sandwich held 
in his two front paws. . . . 

A pretty picture for an artist. 

But a bad model. The tail fell with a 
thud to the ground. 

"There!" said Udo triumphantly. "That 
proves it. I'm not a squirrel.' 1 

"Oh, I'm so glad," said Hyacinth, com- 
pletely convinced, as any one would have 
been, by this demonstration. 

185 



WE DECIDE TO WRITE 

Yes, well, that's all right then. Now we 
can make our plans. First of all we'd 

better ' He stopped suddenly, and 

Hyacinth saw that he was gazing at his tail. 
: Yes?" she said encouragingly. 

He picked up his tail and held it out in 
front of him. There was a large knot in the 
middle of it. 

'Now, what have I forgotten?' he said, 
rubbing his head thoughtfully. 

Poor Hyacinth ! 

"Oh, dear Prince Udo, I'm so sorry. I'm 
afraid I did that without thinking.'' 

Udo, the gallant gentleman, was not 
found wanting. 

"A lover's knot," he said, with a graceful 
incli no, he stopped in time. But really, 
those ears of his made ordinary politeness 
quite impossible. 

"Oh, Udo," said Hyacinth impulsively, 
"if only I could help you to get back to your 
proper form again." 

186 



TO UDO'S FATHER 

"Yes, if only," said Udo, becoming 
practical again; 'but how are we going 
to do it? Just one more watercress sand- 
wich/ 1 he said apologetically; 'they go 
with the ears so well." 

'I shall threaten the Countess," said 
Hyacinth excitedly. 'I shall tell her that 
unless she makes the enchanter restore you 
to your proper form, I shall put her in 
prison." 

Udo was not listening. He had gone off 
into his own thoughts. 'Banana fritters 
and watercress sandwiches," he was mur- 
muring to himself. 'I suppose I must be 
the only animal of the kind in the world." 

t/ 

'Of course," went on Hyacinth, half to 
herself, 'she might get the people on her 
side, the ones that she's bribed. And if 
she did " ....,,.. l 

"That's all right, that's all right," said 
Udo grandly. 'Leave her to me. There's 
something about your watercress that in- 

187 



WE DECIDE TO WRITE 

spires me to terrible deeds. I feel a new 
whatever I am.' : 

One gathers reluctantly from this speech 
that Udo had partaken too freely. 

'Of course," said Hyacinth, 4 I could 
write to my father, who might send some of 
his men back, but I shouldn't like to do 
that. I shouldn't like him to think that I 
had failed him.' : 

4 Extraordinary how I take to these 
things," said Udo, allowing himself a little 
more room on the seat. 'Perhaps I am a 
rabbit after all. I wonder what I should 
look like behind wire netting." He took 
another bite and went on, 'I wonder what 
I should do if I saw a ferret. I suppose 
you haven't got a ferret on you, Princess? ' 

"I beg your pardon, Prince? I'm afraid 
I was thinking of something else. What 
did you say?' 

"Nothing, nothing. One's thoughts run 
on." He put his hand out for the plate, 

188 



TO UDO'S FATHER 

and discovered that it was empty. He 
settled himself more comfortably, and 
seemed to be about to sink into slumber 
when his attention was attracted suddenly 
by the knot in his tail. He picked it up 
and began lazily to undo it. 'I wish I 
could lash my tail," he murmured; 'mine 
seems to be one of the tails that don't 
lash.' : He began very gingerly to feel the 
tip of it. 'I wonder if I've got a sting 
anywhere.' He closed his eyes, muttering, 
'Sting Countess neck, sting all over 
neck, sting lots stings," and fell peacefully 
asleep. 

It was a disgraceful exhibition. Roger 
Scurvilegs tries to slur it over; talks about 
the great heat of the sun, and the notorious 
effect of even one or two watercress sand- 
wiches on an empty on a man who has 
had nothing to eat for several days. This is 
to palter with the facts. The effect of 
watercress sandwiches upon Udo's arrange- 

189 



WE DECIDE TO WRITE 

ments (however furnished) we have all just 
seen for ourselves; but what Roger neglects 
to lay stress upon is the fact that it was 
the effect of twenty-one or twenty-two 
watercress sandwiches. There is no deny- 
ing that it was a disgraceful exhibition. If 
I had been there, I should certainly have 
written to his father about it. 

Hyacinth looked at him uneasily. Her 
first feeling was one of sympathy. 'Poor 
fellow," she thought, 'he's had a hard 
time lately.' 5 But it is a strain on the 
sympathy to gaze too long on a mixture of 
lion, rabbit, and woolly lamb, particularly 
when the rabbit part has its mouth open 
and is snoring gently. 

Besides, what could she do with him? 
She had two of them on her hands now: 
the Countess and the Prince. Belvane 
was in an even better position than be- 
fore. She could now employ Udo to 
help her in her plots against the Prin- 

190 



TO UDO'S FATHER 

cess. 'Grant to me so and so, or I'll 
keep the enchantment for ever on his 
Royal Highness.'' And what could a poor 
girl do? 

Well, she would have to come to some 
decision in the future. Meanwhile the 
difficulties of the moment were enough. 
The most obvious difficulty was his bedroom. 
Was it quite the sort of room he wanted 
now? Hyacinth realised suddenly that to be 
hostess to such a collection of animals as Udo 
was would require all the tact she possessed. 
Perhaps he would tell her what he wanted 
when he woke up. Better let him sleep 
peacefully now. 

She looked at him, smiled in spite of 
herself, and went quickly down into the 
Palace. 



191 




CHAPTER XIII 

"PINK' RHYMES WITH "THINK* 

UDO awoke, slightly refreshed, and de- 
cided to take a firm line with the 
Countess at once. He had no 
difficulty about finding his way down to 
her. The Palace seemed to be full of serv- 
ants, all apparently busy about something 
which brought them for a moment in sight of 
the newly arrived Prince, and then whisked 
them off, hand to mouth and shoulders shak- 
ing. By one of these, with more control over 
her countenance than the others, an annoyed 
Udo was led into Belvane's garden. 

193 



"PINK" RHYMES 

She was walking up and down the flagged 
walk between her lavender hedges, and as 
he came in she stopped and rested her 
elbows on her sundial, and looked mock- 
ingly at him, waiting for him to speak. 
'Between the showers I mark the hours," 
said the sundial (on the suggestion of Bel- 
vane one wet afternoon), but for the moment 
the Countess was in the way. 

'Ah, here we are," said Udo in rather a 
nasty voice. 

'Here we are," said Belvane sweetly. 
"All of us." 

Suddenly she began to laugh. 

"Oh, Prince Udo," she said, "you'll be 
the death of me. Count me as one more 
of your victims." 

It is easy to be angry with any one who 
will laugh at you all the time, but difficult 
to be effective; particularly when but we 
need not dwell upon Udo's handicap again. 

'I don't see anything to laugh at," he 

194 



WITH " THINK " 

said stiffly. "To intelligent people the 
outside appearance is not everything." 

"But it can be very funny, can't it?' 
said Belvane coaxingly. "I wished for 
something humorous to happen to you, 



but I never thought- 

" Ah," said Udo, "now we've got it." 

He spoke with the air of a clever cross- 
examiner who has skilfully extracted an 
admission from a reluctant witness. This 
sort of tone goes best with one of those keen 
legal faces; perhaps that was why Belvane 
laughed again. 

"You practically confess that you did it," 
went on Udo magnificently. 

"Did what?" 

'Turned me into a a ' 

"A rabbit?" said Belvane innocently. 

A foolish observation like this always 
pained Udo. 

"What makes you think I'm a rabbit?' 

he asked. 

195 



(6 



PINK" RHYMES 



'I don't mind what you are, but you'll 
never dare show yourself in the country like 
this." 

'Be careful, woman; don't drive me too 
far. Beware lest you rouse the lion in me.' : 

'Where?' asked Bel vane, with a child- 
like air. 

With a gesture full of dignity and good 
breeding Udo called attention to his tail. 

'That," said the Countess, 'is not the 
part of the lion that I'm afraid of ." 

For the moment Udo was nonplussed, but 
he soon recovered himself. 

'Even supposing just for the sake of 
argument that I am a rabbit, I still have 
something up my sleeve; I'll come and eat 
your young carnations.' 1 

Belvane adored her garden, but she was 
sustained by the thought that it was only 
July now. She pointed this out to him. 

'It needn't necessarily be carnations," 
he warned her. 

196 



WITH "THINK" 

"I don't want to put my opinion against 
one who has (forgive me) inside knowledge 
on the subject, but I think I have nothing 
in my garden at this moment that would 
agree with a rabbit." 

"I don't mind if it doesn't agree with 
me," said Udo heroically. 

This was more serious. Her dear garden 
in which she composed, ruined by the 
mastications machinations what was the 
word? of an enemy! The thought was 
unbearable. 

You aren't a rabbit," she said hastily; 

'you aren't really a rabbit. Because 

because you don't woffle your nose properly." 

'I could," said Udo simply. 'I'm just 
keeping it back, that's all." 

'Show me how," cried Belvane, clasping 
her hands eagerly together. 

It was not what he had come into the 
garden for, and it accorded ill with the 
dignity of the Royal House of Araby, but 

197 



"PINK" RHYMES 

somehow one got led on by this wicked 
woman. 

"Like this," said Udo. 

The Countess looked at him critically with 
her head on one side. 

"No," she said, "that's quite wrong." 

"Naturally I'm a little out of practice." 

"I'm sorry," said Belvane. "I'm afraid 
I can't pass you." 

Udo couldn't think what had happened 
to the conversation. With a great effort 
he extracted himself from it. 

"Enough of this, Countess," he said 
sternly. "I have your admission that it 
was you who put this enchantment on me." 

"It was I. I wasn't going to have you 
here interfering with my plans." 

"Your plans to rob the Princess." 

Belvane felt that it was useless to explain 
the principles of largesse-throwing to Udo. 
There will always be men like Udo and 
Roger Scurvilegs who take these narrow 

198 



WITH "THINK" 

matter-of-fact views. One merely wastes 
time in arguing with them. 

'My plans," she repeated. 

'Very well. I shall go straight to the 
Princess, and she will unmask you before the 
people.' 1 

Belvane smiled happily. One does not 
often get such a chance. 

'And who," she asked sweetly, 'will 
unmask your Royal Highness before the 
people, so that they may see the true Prince 
Udo underneath?' 

'What do you mean?' said Udo, though 
he was beginning to guess. 

That noble handsome countenance 
which is so justly the pride of Araby how 
shall we show that to the people? They'll 
form such a mistaken idea of it if they all 
see you like this, won't they?' 

Udo was quite sure now that he under- 
stood. Hyacinth had understood at the very 
beginning. 

199 




He forgot his manners, and 
made a jump towards her 




She glided gracefully behind the sundial 
in a pretty affectation of alarm 



"PINK" RHYMES 

You mean that if the Princess Hyacinth 
falls in with your plans, you will restore 
me to my proper form, but that otherwise 
you will leave me like this ? ' 

'One's actions are very much misunder- 
stood," sighed Belvane. 'I've no doubt 
that that is how it will appear to future 
historians." 

(To Roger, certainly.) 

It was too much for Udo. He forgot his 
manners and made a jump towards her. 
She glided gracefully behind the sundial in 
a pretty affectation of alarm . . . and the 
next moment Udo decided that the contest 
between them was not to be settled by such 
rough-and-tumble methods as these. The 
fact that his tail had caught in something 
helped him to decide. 

Belvane was up to him in an instant. 
'There, there! 5 she said soothingly, 
'Let me undo it for your Royal Highness. 5 ' 
She talked pleasantly as she worked at it. 

200 



WITH "THINK" 

"Every little accident teaches us some- 
thing. Now if you'd been a rabbit this 
wouldn't have happened." 

"No, I'm not even a rabbit," said Udo 
sadly. "I'm just nothing." 

Belvane stood up and made him a deep 
curtsey. 

"You are his Royal Highness Prince Udo 
of Araby. Your Royal Highness's straw is 
prepared. When will your Royal Highness 
be pleased to retire?' 

It was a little unkind, I think. I should 
not record it of her w r ere not Roger so insistent. 

"Now," said Udo, and lolloped sadly off. 
It was his one really dignified moment in 
Euralia. 

On his way to his apartment he met Wiggs. 

"Wiggs," he said solemnly, 'if ever you 
can do anything to annoy that woman, 
such as making her an apple-pie bed, or 
anything like that, I wish you'd do it." 

Whereupon he retired for the night. Into 

201 



' 



PINK" RHYMES 



the mysteries of his toilet we had perhaps 
better not inquire. 



As the chronicler of these simple happen- 
ings many years ago, it is my duty to be 
impartial. 'These are the facts,' 1 I should 
say, 'and it is for your nobilities to judge 
of them. Thus and thus my characters 
acted; how say you, my lords and ladies?' 

I confess that this attitude is beyond me; 
I have a fondness for all my people, and I 
would not have you misunderstand any of 
them. But with regard to one of them there 
is no need for me to say anything in her 
defence. About her at any rate we agree. 

I mean Wiggs. We take the same view 
as Hyacinth: she was the best little girl in 
Euralia. It will come then as a shock to 
you (as it did to me on the morning after 
I had staggered home with Roger's seven- 
teen volumes) to learn that on her day 

202 



WITH "THINK" 

Wiggs could be as bad as anybody. I mean 
really bad. To tear your frock, to read 
books which you ought to be dusting, these 
are accidents which may happen to any- 
body. Far otherwise was Wiggs 's fall. 

She adopted, in fact, the infamous sug- 
gestion of Prince Udo. Three nights later, 
with malice aforethought and to the com- 
fort of the King's enemies and the prejudice 
of the safety of the realm, she made an 
apple-pie bed for the Countess. 

It was the most perfect apple-pie bed 
ever made. Cox himself could not have 
improved upon it; Newtown has seen 
nothing like it. It took Wiggs a whole 
morning; and the results, though private 
(that is the worst of an apple-pie bed), were 
beyond expectation. After wrestling for 
half an hour the Countess spent the night 
in a garden hammock, composing a bitter 
Ode to Melancholy. 

Of course W r iggs caught it in the morning; 

203 



" PINK " RHYMES 

the Countess suspected what she could not 
prove. Wiggs, now in for a thoroughly bad 
week, realised that it was her turn again. 
What should she do? 

An inspiration came to her. She had 
been really bad the day before; it was a 
pity to waste such perfect badness as that. 
Why not have the one bad wish to which 
the ring entitled her? 

She drew the ring out from its hiding-place 
round her neck. 

'I wish," she said, holding it up, "I wish 

that the Countess Belvane ' she stopped 

to think of something that would really 
annoy her "I wish that the Countess shall 
never be able to write another rhyme again." 

She held her breath, expecting a thunder- 
clap or some other outward token of the 
sudden death of Belvane's muse. Instead 
she was struck by the extraordinary silence 
of the place. She had a horrid feeling that 
everybody else was dead, and realising all 

204 



WITH "THINK" 

at once that she was a very wicked little 
girl, she ran up to her room and gave her- 
self up to tears. 

MAY YOU, DEAR SIR OR MADAM, REPENT 
AS QUICKLY! 

However, this is not a moral work. An 
hour later Wiggs came into Belvane's garden, 
eager to discover in wiiat way her inability 
to rhyme would manifest itself. It seemed 
that she had chosen the exact moment. 

In the throes of composition Belvane had 
quite forgotten the apple-pie bed, so absorb- 
ing is our profession. She welcomed W T iggs 
eagerly, and taking her hand led her to- 
wards the roses. 

4 1 have just been talking to my dear 
roses," she said. 'Listen: 

Whene'er I take my walks about, 
I like to see the roses out; 
I like them yelloiv, white, and pink, 
But crimson are the best, I think. 
The butterfly " 

205 



"PINK" RHYMES 

But we shall never know about the 
butterfly. It may be that Wiggs has lost 
us here a thought on lepidoptera which the 
world can ill spare; for she interrupted 
breathlessly. 

"When did you write that?" 

"I was just making it up when you came 
in, dear child. These thoughts often come 
to me as I walk up and down my beautiful 
garden. * The butterfly 

But Wiggs had let go her hand and was 
running back to the Palace. She wanted to 
be alone to think this out. 

What had happened? That it was truly 
a magic ring, as the fairy had told her, she 
had no doubt; that her wish was a bad 
one, that she had been bad enough to earn 
it, she was equally certain. What then 
had happened? There was only one answer 
to her question. The bad wish had been 
granted to somebody else. 

To whom? She had lent the ring to 

206 



WITH "THINK" 

nobody. True, she had told the Princess 
all about it, but 

Suddenly she rernemberd. The Countess 
had had it in her hands for a moment. Yes, 
and she had sent her out of the room, and 

So many thoughts crowded into Wiggs's 
mind at this moment that she felt she must 
share them with somebody. She ran off 
to find the Princess. 



207 




H 



CHAPTER XIV 

WHY CAN'T YOU BE LIKE WIGGS?' 

YACINTH was with Udo in the 
library. Udo spent much of his 
time in the library nowadays; for 
surely in one of those many books was to 
be found some Advice to a Gentleman in 
Temporary Difficulties suitable to a case 
like his. Hyacinth kept him company sadly. 
It had been such a brilliant idea inviting 
him to Euralia; how she wished now that she 
had never done it. 

"Well, Wiggs," she said, with a gentle 

209 



" WHY CAN'T YOU 

smile, 'what have you been doing with 
yourself all the morning?' 

Udo looked up from his mat and nodded 
to her. 

'I've found out," said Wiggs excitedly; 
'it was the Countess who did it." 
Udo surveyed her with amazement. 
'The Princess Hyacinth," he said, "has 
golden hair. One discovers these things 
gradually." And he returned to his book. 
Wiggs looked bewildered. 
'He means, dear," said Hyacinth, "that 
it is quite obvious that the Countess did 
it, and we have known about it for 
days." 

Udo wore, as far as his face would permit, 
the slightly puffy expression of one who 
has just said something profoundly ironical 
and is feeling self-conscious about it. 

'Oh h," said Wiggs in such a disap- 
pointed voice that it seemed as if she were 
going to cry. 

10 



BE LIKE WIGGS?" 

Hyacinth, like the dear that she was, 
made haste to comfort her. 

"We didn't really know,'' she said; "we 
only guessed it. But now that you have 
found out, I shall be able to punish her 
properly. No, don't come with me," she 
said, as she rose and moved towards the 
door; "stay here and help his Royal Highness. 
Perhaps you can find the book that he wants; 
you've read more of them than I have, I 
expect.' 1 

Left alone with the Prince, Wiggs was silent 
for a little, looking at him rather anxiously. 

"Do you know all about the Countess?' 
she asked at last. 

"If there's anything I don't know, it 
must be very bad.' 

"Then you know that it's all my fault 
that you are like this? Oh, dear Prince 
Udo, I am so dreadfully sorry.' 1 

"What do you mean your fault?' 

"Because it was my ring that did it." 



" WHY CAN'T YOU 

Udo scratched his head in a slightly 
puzzled but quite a nice way. 

4 Tell me all about it from the beginning," 
he said. : You have found out something 
after all, I believe." 

So Wiggs told her story from the be- 
ginning. How the fairy had given her a 
ring; how the Countess had taken it from 
her for five minutes and had a bad wish 
on it; and how Wiggs had found her out 
that very morning. 

Udo was intensely excited by the story. 
He trotted up and down the library, mutter- 
ing to himself. He stopped in front of 
Wiggs as soon as she had finished. 

"Is the ring still going?' he asked. "I 
mean, can you have another wish on it? ' 

"Yes, just one." 

'Then wish her to be turned into a ' 

He tried to think of something that would 
meet the case. "What about a spider?' 
he said thoughtfully. 



. . 



BE LIKE WIGGS? " 

But that's a bad wish," said Wiggs. 
Yes, but it's her turn.' 1 
Oh, but I'm only allowed a good wish 
now.' : She added rapturously, "And I 
know what it's going to be." 

So did Udo. At least he thought he did. 

"Oh, you dear," he said, casting an 
affectionate look upon her. 

"Yes, that's it. That I may be able to 
dance like a fairy.' : 

Udo could hardly believe his ears, and 
they were adequate enough for most emer- 
gencies. 

'But how is that going to help me?' 
he said, tapping his chest with his paw. 

"But it's my ring," said Wiggs. "And 
so of course I'm going to wish that I can 
dance like a fairy. I've always meant to, 
as soon as I've been good for a day first.' 1 

The child was absurdly selfish. Udo saw 
that he would have to appeal to her in another 

way. tp. ' : - ! ! .;:;;'- - ; ,,/ fj 

213 



" WHY CAN'T YOU 

"Of course," he began, "I've nothing to 
say against dancing as dancing, but I think 
you'll get tired of it. Just as I shall get 
tired of lettuce." 

Wiggs understood now. 
: You mean that I might wish you to be 
a Prince again?' 

'Well," said Udo casually, "it just occurred 
to me as an example of what might be called 
the Good Wish." 

'Then I shall never be able to dance like 
a fairy?' 

'Neither shall I, if it comes to that," 
said Udo. Really, the child was very stupid. 

'Oh, it's too cruel," said Wiggs, stamping 
her foot. 'I did so want to be able to dance." 

Udo glanced gloomily into the future. 

"To live for ever behind wire netting," 
he mused; "to be eternally frightened by 
pink-eyed ferrets; to be offered bran-mash 
bran-mash bran-mash wherever one vis- 
ited week after week, month after month, 



BE LIKE W7GGS?" 

year after year, century after how long do 
rabbits live?' 

But Wiggs was not to be moved. 

'I wont give up my wish," she said 
passionately. 

Udo got on to his four legs with dignity. 

"Keep your wish," he said. 'There are 
plenty of other ways of getting out of 
enchantments. I'll learn up a piece of 
poetry by our Court Poet Sacharino, and 
recite it backwards when the moon is new. 
Something like that. I can do this quite 
easily by myself. Keep your wish." 

He went slowly out. His tail (looking 
more like a bell-rope than ever) followed 
him solemnly. The fluffy part that you 
pull was for a moment left behind; then 
with a jerk it was gone, and Wiggs was 
left alone. 

'I won't give up my wish," cried Wiggs 
again. 'I'll wish it now before I'm sorry." 

She held the ring up. "I wish that " 

215 



" WHY CAN'T YOU 

She stopped suddenly. "Poor Prince Udo 
he seems very unhappy. I wonder if it is 
a good wish to wish to dance when people 
are unhappy.' 1 She thought this out for a 
little, and then made her great resolve. 
: Yes," she said, "I'll wish him well again.' 1 

Once more she held the ring up in her 
two hands. 

"I wish," she said, "that Prince Udo " 

I know what you are going to say. It 
was no good her wishing her good wish, 
because she had been a bad girl the day 
before making the Countess an apple-pie 
bed and all disgraceful! How could she 
possibly suppose 

She didn't. She remembered just in 
time. 

'Oh, bother," said Wiggs, standing in 
the middle of the room with the ring held 
above her head. "I've got to be good for 
a day first. Bother! ' 



216 



BE LIKE WIGGS? " 

So the next day was Wiggs's Good Day. 
The legend of it was handed down for years 
afterwards in Euralia. It got into all the 
Calendars July 20th it was marked with 
a red star; in Roger's portentous volumes 
it had a chapter devoted to it. There was 
some talk about it being made into a public 
holiday, he tells us, but this fell through. 
Euralian mothers used to scold their naughty 
children with the words, 'Why can't you 
be like Wiggs?' and the children used to 
tell each other that there never was a real 
Wiggs, and that it was only a made-up 
story for parents. However, you have my 
word for it that it was true. 

She began by getting up at five o'clock in 
the morning, and after dressing herself very 
neatly (and being particularly careful to 
wring out her sponge) she made her own 
bed and tidied up the room. For a moment 
she thought of waking the grown-ups in the 
Palace and letting them enjoy the beautiful 

217 




When anybody of superior station or age came 
into the room she rose and curtsied 



" WHY CAN'T YOU 

morning too, but a little reflection showed 
her that this would not be at all a kindly 
act; so, having dusted the Throne Room 
and performed a few simple physical exer- 
cises, she went outside and attended to the 
smaller domestic animals. 

At breakfast she had three helps of some- 
thing very nutritious, which the Countess 
said would make her grow, but only one 
help of everything else. She sat up nicely 
all the time, and never pointed to anything 
or drank with her mouth full. After break- 
fast she scattered some crumbs on the lawn 
for the robins, and then got to work again. 

First she dusted and dusted and dusted; 
then she swept and swept and swept; 
then she sewed and sewed and sewed. 
When anybody of superior station or age 
came into the room she rose and curtsied 
and stood with her hands behind her back, 
while she was being spoken to. When any- 
body said, 'I wonder where I put my so- 

218 



BE LIKE WIGGS?" 

and-so," she jumped up and said, 'Let me 
fetch it," even if it was upstairs. 

After dinner she made up a basket of 
provisions and took them to the old women 
who lived near the castle; to some of them 
she sang or read aloud, and when at one 
cottage she was asked, 'Now won't you 
give me a little dance," she smiled bravely 
and said, "I'm afraid I don't dance very 
well.' : I think that was rather sweet of 
her; if I had been the fairy I should have 
let her off the rest of the day. 

When she got back to the Palace she 
drank two glasses of warm milk, with the 
skin on, and then went and weeded the 
Countess's lawn; and once when she trod 
by accident on a bed of flowers, she left the 
footprint there instead of scraping it over 
hastily, and pretending that she hadn't been 
near the place, as you would have done. 

And at half-past six she kissed everybody 

good-night (including Udo) and went to bed. 

219 



" WHY CAN'T YOU 

So ended July the Twentieth, perhaps 
the most memorable day in Euralian history. 

Udo and Hyacinth spent tbe great day 
peacefully in the library. A gentleman for 
all his fur, Udo had not told the Princess 
about Wiggs's refusal to help him. Besides, 
a man has his dignity. To be turned into 
a mixture of three animals by a woman of 
thirty, and to be turned back again by a 
girl of ten, is to be too much the plaything 
of the sex. It was time he did something 
for himself. 

'Now then, how did that bit of Sacha- 
rino's go? Let me see." He beat time 
with a paw. 'Blood for something, some- 
thing, something. He who something, 

something, some ' Something like that. 

'Blood for er blood for er ' No, 

it's gone again. I know there was a bit 
of blood in it." 

'I'm sure you'll get it soon," said Hya- 

220 



BE LIKE WIGGS?" 

cinth. 'It sounds as though it's going to 
be just the sort of thing that's wanted." 

'Oh, I shall get it all right. Some of 
the words have escaped me for the moment, 
that's all. 'Blood er blood.' You must 
have heard of it, Princess: it's about blood 
for he who something; you must know the 
one I mean." 

'I know I've heard of it," said the Princess, 
wrinkling her forehead, 'only I can't quite 
think of it for the moment. It's about a 



a 

.. 



Yes, that's it," said Udo. 

Then they both looked up at the ceiling 
with their heads on one side and murmured 
to themselves. 

But noon came and still they hadn't thought 
of it. 

After a simple meal they returned to the 
library. 

'I think I'd better write to Coronel," 
said Udo, "and ask him about it.' : 



" WHY CAN'T YOU 

'I thought you said his name was 
Sacharino." 

"Oh, this is not the poet, it's just a friend 
of mine, but he's rather good at this sort 
of thing. The trouble is that it takes such 
a long time for a letter to get there and 
back." 

At the word 'letter," Hyacinth started 
suddenly. 

"Oh, Prince Udo," she cried, "I can never 
forgive myself. I've just remembered the 
very thing. Father told me in his letter 
that a little couplet he once wrote was being 
very useful for er removing things.' 1 

"What sort of things?' said Udo, not too 
hopefully. 

"Oh, enchantments and things.' 1 

Udo was a little annoyed at the "and 
things" as though turning him back into 
a Prince again was as much in the day's 
work as removing rust from a helmet. 

"It goes like this," said Hyacinth. 



BE LIKE WIGGS? 



Bo, boll, bill, bole. 
Wo, woll, will, wole.' 



6 It sounds as though it would remove any- 
thing," she added, with a smile. 

Udo sat up rather eagerly. 

"I'll try," he said. 'Is there any par- 
ticular action goes with it?' 

"I've never heard of any. I expect you 
ought to say it as if you meant it.' : 

Udo sat up on his back paws, and, ges- 
ticulating freely with his right paw, de- 
claimed : 

'Bo, boll, bill, bole. 
Wo, woll, will, wole." 



He fixed his eyes on his paws, waiting for 
the transformation. 

He waited. 

And waited. 

Nothing happened. 

"It must be all right," said Hyacinth 
anxiously, 'because I'm sure Father would 
know. Try saying it more like this." 

223 



WHY CAN'T YOU BE LIKE WIGGS?' 

She repeated the lines in a voice so melt- 
ing, yet withal so dignified, that the very 
chairs might have been expected to get up 
and walk out. 

Udo imitated her as well as he could. 

At about the time when Wiggs was just 
falling asleep, he repeated it in his fiftieth 
different voice. 

"I'm sorry," said Hyacinth; "perhaps it 
isn't so good as Father thought it was.' : 

"There's just one chance,' 3 said Udo. 
"It's possible it may have to be said on an 
empty stomach. I'll try it to-morrow before 
breakfast.' 5 

Upstairs Wiggs was dreaming of the dancing 
that she had given up for ever. 

And what Belvane was doing I really 
don't know. 




CHAPTER XV 

THERE IS A LOVER WAITING FOR HYACINTH 

SO the next morning before breakfast 
Wiggs went up on to the castle walls 
and wished. She looked over the 
meadows, and across the peaceful stream 
that wandered through them, to the forest 
where she had first met her fairy, and she 
gave a little sigh. 'Good-bye, dancing," 
she said; and then she held the ring up and 
went on bravely, 'Please, I was a very good 

225 



THERE IS A LOVER 

girl all yesterday, and I wish that Prince Udo 
may be well again.' 1 

For a full minute there was silence. Then 
from the direction of Udo's room below there 
came these remarkable words : 

' Take the beastly stuff away, and bring 
me a beefsteak and a flagon of sack! ' 

Between smiles and tears Wiggs mur- 
mured, 'He sounds all right. I am g 
glad. 

And then she could bear it no longer. 
She hurried down and out of the Palace 
away, away from Udo and the Princess 
and the Countess and all their talk, to the 
cool friendly forest, there to be alone and to 
think over all that she had lost. 

It was very quiet in the forest. At the 
foot of her own favourite tree, a veteran 
of many hundred summers who stood sentinel 
over an open glade that dipped to a gurgling 
brook and climbed gently away from it, she 

sat down. On the soft green yonder she might 

226 



WAITING FOR HYACINTH 

have danced, an enchanted place, and now 
never, never, never. . . . 

How long had she sat there? It must 
have been a long time because the forest 
had been so quiet, and now it was so full 
of sound. The trees were murmuring some- 
thing to her, and the birds were singing it, 
and the brook was trying to tell it too, but 
would keep chuckling over the very idea so 
that you could hardly hear what it was 
saying, and there were rustlings in the grass- 
"Get up, get up," everything was calling 
to her; "dance, dance." 

She got up, a little frightened. Every- 
thing seemed so strangely beautiful. She 
had never felt it like this before. Yes, she 
would dance. She must say, : Thank you,' 
for all this somehow; perhaps they would ex- 
cuse her if it was not very well expressed. 

"This will just be for Thank you,'" 
she said as she got up. "I shall never dance 



again.' 5 



227 




^4 TIC? ^eTi 5/ie danced 



THERE IS A LOVER 

And then she danced. . . . 

Where are you, Hyacinth? There is a lover 
waiting for you somewhere, my dear. 

It is the first of Spring. The blackbird 
opens his yellow beak, and whistles cool 
and clear. There is blue magic in the morn- 
ing; the sky, deep-blue above, melts into white 
where it meets the hills. The wind waits 
for you up yonder will you go to meet 
it? Ah, stay here! The hedges have put 
on their green coats for you; misty green are 
the tall elms from which the rooks are chatter- 
ing. Along the clean white road, between the 
primrose banks, he comes. Will you be round 

this corner? or the next? He is looking 

for you, Hyacinth. 

(She rested, breathless, and then danced 
again.) 

It is summer afternoon. All the village 
is at rest save one. 'Cuck-oo!' comes 
from the deep dark trees; "Cuck-oo!' he 
calls again, and flies away to send back the 

228 



WAITING FOR HYACINTH 

answer. The fields, all green and gold, sleep 
undisturbed by the full river which creeps 
along them. The air is heavy with the scent 
of may. Where are you, Hyacinth? Is not 
this the trysting-place? I have waited for 
you so long! . . . 

She stopped, and the watcher in the bushes 
moved silently away, his mind aflame with 
fancies. 

Wiggs went back to the Palace to tell 
everybody that she could dance. 



'Shall we tell her how it happened?' 
said Udo jauntily. 'I just recited a couple 
of lines poetry, you know backwards, and 
well, here I am ! ' 

"O oh! "said Wiggs. 



229 




CHAPTER XVI 

BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

THE entrance of an attendant into his 
room that morning to bring him his 
early bran-mash had awakened Udo. 
As soon as she was gone he jumped up, shook 
the straw from himself, and said in a very 
passion of longing, 

Bo, boll, bill, bole. 
Wo, woll, will, wole. 

He felt that it was his last chance. Ex- 
hausted by his effort, he fell back on the 
straw and dropped asleep again. It was 

231 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

nearly an hour later that he became properly 
awake. 

Into his feelings I shall not enter at any 
length; I leave that to Roger Scurvilegs. 
Between ourselves Roger is a bit of a snob. 
The degradation to a Prince of Araby to 
be turned into an animal so ludicrous, the 
delight of a Prince of Araby at regaining 
his own form, it is this that he chiefly dwells 
upon. Really, I think you or I would have 
been equally delighted. I am sure we can 
guess how Udo felt about it. 

He strutted about the room, he gazed 
at himself in every glass, he held out his 
hand to an imaginary Hyacinth with "Ah, 
dear Princess, and how are we this morn- 
ing?' Never had he felt so handsome and 
so sure of himself. It was in the middle 
of one of his pirouettings, that he caught 
sight of the unfortunate bran-mash, and 
uttered the remarkable words which I have 
already recorded. 

232 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

The actual meeting with Hyacinth was 
even better than he had expected. Hardly 
able to believe that it was true, she seized 
his hands impulsively and cried : 

'Oh, Prince Udo! oh, my dear, I am so 
glad!" 

Udo twirled his moustache and felt a 
very gay dog indeed. 

At breakfast (where Udo did himself 
extremely well) they discussed plans. The 
first thing was to summon the Countess into 
their presence. An attendant was sent to 
fetch her. 

"If you would like me to conduct the 
interview," said Udo, 'I've no doubt 
that " 

"I think I shall be all right now that 
you are with me. I shan't feel so afraid 
of her now.' : 

The attendant came in again. 

"Her ladyship is not yet down, your 
Royal Highness.' 3 

233 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

"Tell her that I wish to see her directly 
she is down," said the Princess. 

The attendant withdrew. 

"You were telling rne about this army 
of hers/ 5 said Udo. 'One of my ideas I 
had a good many while I was er in retire- 
ment was that she could establish the army 
properly at her own expense, and that she her- 
self should be perpetual orderly-sergeant.' 1 

* Isn't that a nice thing to be?' asked 
Hyacinth innocently. 

'It's a horrible thing to be. Another of 
my ideas was that 

The attendant came in again. 

'Her ladyship is a little indisposed, and 
is staying in bed for the present.' 1 

'Oh! Did her ladyship say when she 
thought of getting up ? ' 

'Her ladyship didn't seem to think of 
getting up at all to-day. Her ladyship told 
me to say that she didn't seem to know 
when she'd get up again.' 1 

234 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

The attendant withdrew, and Hyacinth 
and Udo, standing together in a corner, dis- 
cussed the matter anxiously. 

"I don't quite see what we can do," said 
Hyacinth. "We can't pull her out of bed. 
Besides, she may really be ill. Supposing 
she stays there for ever ! ' 

"Of course," said Udo. 'It would be 
rather ' 



* * m_/ ,*%. < -* X-V ^-fc. ^ -1- ^"TT *~*. 



You see if we 

"We might possibly 

66 Good morning, all!' said Belvane, 
sweeping into the room. She dropped a 
profound curtsey to the Princess. 'Your 
Royal Highness! And dear Prince Udo, 
looking his own charming self again ! ' 

She had made a superb toilet. In her 
flowing gold brocade, cut square in front 
to reveal the whitest of necks, with her 
black hair falling in two braids to her knees 
and twined with pearls which were caught 
up in loops at her waist, she looked indeed 

235 




Good morning, 
said Belvane 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

a Queen; while Hyacinth and Udo, taken 
utterly by surprise, seemed to be two con- 
spirators whom she had caught in the act of 
plotting against her. 

'I I thought you weren't well, Countess," 
said Hyacinth, trying to recover herself. 

'I not well?' cried Bel vane, clasping 
her hands to her breast. 'I thought it 

was his Royal Highness who Ah, but 

he's looking a true Prince now.' : 

She turned her eyes upon him, and there 
was in that look so much of admiration, 
humour, appeal, impudence I don't know 
what (and Roger cannot tell us, either) 
that Udo forgot entirely what he was going 
to say and could only gaze at her in winder. 

Her mere entry had dazzled him. There 
is no knowing with a woman like Bel vane; 
and I believe that she had purposely kept 
herself plain during these last few days 
so that she might have the weapon of her 
beauty to fall back upon in case anything went 

236 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

wrong. Things had indeed gone wrong; Udo 
had become a man again; and it was against 
the man that this last weapon was directed. 

Udo himself was only too ready. The 
fact that he was once more attractive to 
women meant as much as anything to him. 
To have been attractive to Hyacinth would 
have contented most of us, but Udo felt a little 
uncomfortable with her. He could not forget 
the last few days, nor the fact that he had once 
been an object of pity to her. Now Belvane 
had not pitied him. 

Hyacinth had got control of herself by 
this time. 

"Enough of this, Countess," she said 
with dignity. 'We have not forgotten the 
treason which you were plotting against the 
State ; we have not forgotten your base attack 
upon our guest, Prince Udo. I order you now 
to remain within the confines of the Palace 
until we shall have decided w r hat to do with 

you. You may leave us.' : 

237 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

Bel vane dropped her eyes meekly. 
'I am at your Royal Highness 's com- 
mands. I shall be in my garden when your 
Royal Highness wants me." 

She raised her eyes, gave one fleeting glance 
to Prince Udo, and withdrew. 

'A hateful woman," said Hyacinth. 
"What shall we do with her?" 

"I think," said Udo, "that I had better 
speak to her seriously first. I have no 
doubt that I can drag from her the truth of 
her conspiracy against you. There may be 
many others in it, in which case we shall 
have to proceed with caution; on the other 
hand, it may be just misplaced zeal on her 

part, in which case ' 

'Was it misplaced zeal which made her 
turn you into a ?' 

Udo held up his hand hastily. 
'I have not forgotten that," he said. 
'Be sure that I shall exact full reparation. 
Let me see; which is the way to her garden?' 

238 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

Hyacinth did not know quite what to 
make of her guest. At the moment when 
she first saw him in his proper form the 
improvement on his late appearance had 
been so marked that he had seemed almost 
the handsome young Prince of her dreams. 
Every minute after that had detracted from 
him. His face was too heavy, his manner 
was too pompous; one of these days he would 
be too fat. 

Moreover he was just a little too sure of 
his position in her house. She had wanted 
his help, but she did not want so much of 
it as she seemed to be likely to get. 

Udo, feeling that it was going to be rather 
a nice day, went into Bel vane's garden. He 
had been there once before; it seemed to him 
a very much prettier garden this morning, and 
the woman who was again awaiting him much 
more desirable. 

Belvane made room for him on the seat 

next her. 

239 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

"This is where I sit when I write my 
poetry," she said. 'I don't know if your 
Royal Highness is fond of poetry?' 

"Extremely/ 5 said Udo. 'I have never 
actually written any or indeed read much, 
but I have a great admiration for those who 
er admire it. But it was not to talk 
about poetry that I came out here, Countess. ' : 

"No?" said Belvane. "But your Royal 
Highness must have read the works of Sacha- 
rino, the famous bard of Araby?' 

"Sacharino, of course. 'Blood for some- 
thing, something He who something ' 

I mean, it's a delightful little thing. Every- 
body knows it. But it was to talk about 
something very different that I ' 



Blood for blood and shoon for shoon, 
He who runs may read my rune" 



quoted Belvane softly. "It is perhaps 
Sacharino 's most perfect gem." 

" That's it," cried Udo excitedly. " I knew 

240 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

I knew it, if only I could He broke off 

suddenly, remembering the circumstances in 
which he had wanted it. He coughed im- 
portantly and explained for the third time that 
he had not come to talk to her about poetry. 

'But of course I think his most noble 
poem of all," went on Bel vane, apparently 
misunderstanding him, 'is the ode to your 
Royal Highness upon your coming-of-age. 
Let me see, how does it begin? 



<c 



Prince Udo, so dashing and bold, 
Is apparently eighteen years old. 

It is eighteen years since 

This wonderful Prince 
Was born in the Palace, Pm told.' 



'These Court Poets," said Udo, with an 
air of unconcern, "flatter one, of course." 
If he expected a compliment he was 
disappointed. 

: There I cannot judge," said Belvane, 
* until I know your Royal Highness better." 
She looked at him out of the corner of her 
16 241 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

eyes. 'Is your Royal Highness very 
dashing?' 

'I er well er one that is to say.' 
He waded on uncomfortably, feeling less 
dashing every moment. He should have 
realised at once that it was an impossible 
question to answer. 

'Your Royal Highness," said Belvane 
modestly, "must not be too dashing with 
us poor Euralians." 

For the fourth time Udo explained that 
he had come there to speak to her severely, 
and that Belvane seemed to have mistaken 
his purpose. 

'Oh, forgive me, Prince Udo," she begged. 
"I quite thought that you had come out to 
commune soul to soul with a fellow-lover of 
the beautiful." 

"N no," said Udo; "not exactly." 

'Then what is it?' she cried, clasping 
her hands eagerly together. "I know it 
will be something exciting." 

242 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

Udo stood up. He felt that he could be 
more severe a little farther off. He moved 
a few yards away, and then turned round 
towards her, resting his elbow on the sundial. 

'Countess," he began sternly, 'ten days 
ago, as I was starting on my journey hither, 
I was suddenly- 

"Just a moment," said Belvane, whisper- 
ing eagerly to herself rather than to him, 
and she jumped up with a cushion from 
the seat where she was sitting, and ran across 
and arranged it under his elbow. "He would 
have been so uncomfortable," she murmured, 
and she hurried back to her seat again and sat 
down and gazed at him, with her elbows on 
her knees and her chin resting on her hands. 
'Now go on telling me," she said breathlessly. 

Udo opened his mouth with the obvious 
intention of obeying her, but no words came. 
He seemed to have lost the thread of his 
argument. He felt a perfect fool, stuck up 
there with his elbow on a cushion, just as if he 

243 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

were addressing a public meeting. He looked 
at his elbow as if he expected to find a glass of 
water there ready, and Belvane divined his 
look and made a movement as if she were 
about to get it for him. It would be just like 
her. He flung the cushion from him ("Oh, 
mind my roses," cried Belvane) and came 
down angrily to her. Belvane looked at 
him with wide, innocent eyes. 

: You you oh, dont look like that ! ' 

'Like that?' said Belvane, looking like 
it again. 

'Don't do it," shouted Udo, and he turned 
and kicked the cushion down the flagged 
path. "Stop it." 
Belvane stopped it. 

'Do you know/' she said, "I'm rather 
frightened of you when you're angry with 



me. 3 



'I am angry. Very, very angry. Ex- 
cessively annoy ed.' : 

thought you were," she sighed. 

244 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

'And you know very well why." 

She nodded her head at him. 

'It's my dreadful temper," she said. 'I 
do such thoughtless things when I lose my 
temper." 

She sighed again and looked meekly at 
the ground. 

'Er, well, you shouldn't," said Udo weakly. 

'It was the slight to my sex that made 
me so angry. I couldn't bear to think that 
we women couldn't rule ourselves for such 
a short time, and that a man had to be called 
in to help us." She looked up at him shyly. 
'Of course I didn't know then w^hat the man 
was going to be like. But now that I 
know- 
Suddenly she held her arms out to him 
beseechingly. 

'Stay with us, Prince Udo, and help us! 
Men are so wise, so brave, so so generous. 
They know nothing of the little petty feelings 
of revenge that women indulge." 

245 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

'Really, Countess, we er you er 

Of course there is a good deal in what you 
say, and I er- 

' Won't you sit down again, Prince Udo?' 
Udo sat down next to her. 
"And now/' said Belvane, "let's talk it 
over comfortably as friends should.' 1 

'Of course,' 1 began Udo, 'I quite see 
your point. You hadn't seen me; you 
didn't know anything about me; to you I 
might have been just any man.' ; 

'I knew a little about you when you 
came here. Beneath the er outward mask 
I saw how brave and dignified you were. 
But even if I could have got you back to 
your proper form again, I think I should 
have been afraid to; because I didn't know 
then how generous, how forgiving you 



were. 5 



It seemed to be quite decided that Udo 
was forgiving her. When a very beautiful 
woman thanks you humbly for something 

246 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

you have not yet given her, there is only 
one thing for a gentleman to do. Udo 
patted her hand reassuringly. 

"Oh, thank you, your Royal Highness. " 
She gave herself a little shake and jumped 
up. "And now shall I show you my beautiful 
garden?' 

"A garden with you in it, dear Countess, 
is always beautiful," he said gallantly. And 
it was not bad, I think, for a man w r ho had 
been living on watercress and bran-mash only 
the day before. 

They wandered round the garden together. 
Udo was now quite certain it w r as going to 
be a nice day. 

It was an hour later when he came into 
the library. Hyacinth greeted him eagerly. 

"Well?" she said. 

Udo nodded his head wisely. 
'I have spoken to her about her conduct 
to me," he said. 'There will be no more 
trouble in that direction, I fancy. She ex- 

247 



BELVANE ENJOYS HERSELF 

plained her conduct to me very fully, and 
I have decided to overlook it this time.' 3 

"But her robberies, her plots, her con- 
spiracy against me! ' 

Udo looked blankly at her for a moment 
and then pulled himself together. 

"I am speaking to her about that this 
afternoon," he said. 



248 




CHAPTER XVII 

THE KING OF BARODIA DROPS THE WHISKER 

HABIT 

KING MERRIWIG sat in his tent, his 
head held well back, his eyes gazing 
upwards. His rubicund cheeks were 
for the moment a snowy white. A hind of the 
name of Carlo had him firmly by the nose. 
Yet King Merriwig neither struggled nor 
protested; he was, in fact, being shaved. 

The Court Barber was in his usual con- 
versational mood. He released his Majesty's 
nose for a moment, and, as he turned to 
sharpen his razor, remarked, 
"Terrible war, this." 

249 



THE KING OF BARODIA 



Terrible," agreed the King. 

Don't seem no end to it, like." 

Well, well," said Merriwig, "we shall 



see.' 



The barber got to work again. 

"Do you know what I should do to the 
King of Barodia if I had him here?' 

Merriwig did not dare to speak, but he 
indicated with his right eye that he was 
interested in the conversation. 

"I'd shave his whiskers off," said Carlo 
firmly. 

The King gave a sudden jerk, and for the 
moment there were signs of a battle upon 
the snow; then the King leant back again, 
and in another minute or so the operation 
was over. 

"It will soon be all right," said Carlo, 
mopping at his Majesty's chin. : Your 
Majesty shouldn't have moved." 

"It was my own fault, Carlo; you gave 

me a sudden idea, that's all." 

250 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

: You're welcome, your Majesty.'' 
As soon as he was alone the King took out 
his tablets. On these he was accustomed 
to record any great thoughts which occurred 
to him during the day. He now wrote in 
them these noble words: 

'Jewels of wisdom may fall from the meanest 
of hinds. ' 

He struck a gong to summon the Chan- 
cellor into his presence. 

'I have a great idea," he told the Chan- 
cellor. 

The Chancellor hid his surprise and ex- 
pressed his pleasure. 

'To-night I propose to pay a secret visit 
to his Majesty the King of Barodia. Which 
of the many tents yonder have my spies 
located as the royal one?' 

' The big one in the centre, above which the 
Royal Arms fly." 

4 1 thought as much. Indeed I have often 
seen his Majesty entering it. But one pre- 
251 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

fers to do these things according to the cus- 
tom. Acting on the information given me by 
my trusty spies, I propose to enter the King 
of Barodia's tent at dead of night, and ' 

The Chancellor shuddered in anticipation. 

"And shave his whiskers off." 

The Chancellor trembled with delight. 

"Your Majesty, 5 ' he said in a quavering 
voice, "forty years, man and boy, have I 
served your Majesty, and your Majesty's 
late lamented father, and never have I heard 
such a beautiful plan.' 1 

Merriwig struggled with himself for a 
moment, but his natural honesty was too 
much for him. 

"It was put into my head by a remark 
of my Court Barber's," he said casually. 
"But of course the actual working out of it 
has been mine.' : 

"Jewels of wisdom," said the Chancellor 
sententiously, "may fall from the meanest 

of hinds." 

252 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

'I suppose," said Merriwig, taking up his 
tablets and absently scratching out the words 
written thereon, " there is nothing in the rules 
against it?' 

'By no means, your Majesty. In the 
annals of Euralia there are many instances 
of humour similar to that which your Majesty 
suggests: humour, if I may say so, which, 
while evidencing to the ignorant only the 
lighter side of war, has its roots in the most 
fundamental strategical considerations." 

Merriwig regarded him with admiration. 
This was indeed a Chancellor. 

'The very words," he answered, "which 
I said to myself when the idea came to me. 
5 The fact,' I said, 'that this will help us 
to win the war, must not disguise from us 
the fact that the King of Barodia will look 
extremely funny without his whiskers.' To- 
night I shall sally forth and put my plan into 
practice." 

At midnight, then, he started out. The 

253 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

Chancellor awaited his return with some 
anxiety. This might well turn out to be 
the decisive stroke (or strokes) of the war. 
For centuries past the ruling monarchs of 
Barodia had been famous for their ginger 
whiskers. 'As lost as the King of Barodia 
without his whiskers' 3 was indeed a proverb 
of those times. A King without a pair, and at 
such a crisis in his country's fortunes! It 
was inconceivable. At the least he would have 
to live in retirement until they grew again, and 
without the leadership of their King the Barod- 
ian army would become a rabble. 

The Chancellor was not distressed at the 
thought; he was looking forward to his return 
to Euralia, where he kept a comfortable house. 
It was not that his life in the field was unin- 
teresting; he had as much work to do as any 
man. It was part of his business, for instance, 
to test the pretentious of any new wizard or 
spell-monger who was brought into the camp. 

Such and such a quack would seek an interview 

254 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

on the pretext that for five hundred crowns he 
could turn the King of Barodia into a small 
black pig. He would be brought before the 
Chancellor. 

"You say that you can turn a man into a 
small black pig?' the Chancellor would ask. 

"Yes, your lordship. It came to me from 
my grandmother.' 

"Then turn me," the Chancellor would 
say simply. 

The so-called wizard would try. As soon 
as the incantation was over, the Chancellor 
surveyed himself in the mirror. Then he 
nodded to a couple of soldiers, and the impostor 
was tied backwards on to a mule and driven 
with jeers out of the camp. There were many 
such impostors (who at least made a mule out 
of it), and the Chancellor's life did not lack 
excitement. 

But he yearned now for the simple com- 
forts of his home. He liked pottering about 
his garden, when his work at the Palace was 

255 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

finished; he liked, over the last meal of the 
day, to tell his wife all the important things 
he had been doing since he had seen her, and 
to impress her with the fact that he was the 
holder of many state secrets which she must 
not attempt to drag from him. A woman of 
less tact would have considered the subject 
closed at this point, but she knew that he was 
only longing to be persuaded. However, as 
she always found the secrets too dull to tell 
any one else, no great harm was done. 

"Just help me off with this cloak," said a 
voice in front of him. 

The Chancellor felt about until his hands 
encountered a solid body. He undid the cloak 
and the King stood revealed before him. 

"Thanks. Well, I've done it. It went 
to my heart to do it at the last moment, so 
beautiful they were, but I nerved myself 
to it. Poor soul, he slept like a lamb through 
it all. I wonder what he'll say when he wakes 

up." 

256 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

"Did you bring them back with you?' 
asked the Chancellor excitedly. 

"My dear Chancellor, what a question!' 
He produced them from his pocket. ' In the 
morning we'll run them up on the flagstaff 
for all Barodia to see." 

"He won't like that," said the Chancellor, 
chuckling. 

"I don't quite see what he can do about 
it," said Merriwig. 



The King of Barodia didn't quite see 
either. 

A fit of sneezing woke him up that morn- 
ing, and at the same moment he felt a curious 
draught about his cheeks. He put his hand up 
and immediately knew the worst. 

'Hullo, there!' he bellowed to the sentry 
outside the door. 

"Your Majesty," said the sentry, coming 
in with alacrity. 

257 




The tent seemed to swim before 
his eyes, and he knew no more 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

The King bobbed down again at once. 

"Send the Chancellor to me," said an angry 
voice from under the bedclothes. 

When the Chancellor came in it was to see 
the back only of his august monarch. 

"Chancellor," said the King, 'prepare 
yourself for a shock. " 

"Yes, sir," said the Chancellor, trembling 
exceedingly. 

"You are about to see something which 
no man in the history of Barodia has ever 
seen before." 

The Chancellor, not having the least idea 
what to expect, waited nervously. The next 
moment the tent seemed to swim before his 
eyes, and he knew no more. . . . 

When he came to, the King was pouring 
a jug of water down his neck and murmuring 
rough words of comfort in his ear. 

"Oh, your Majesty," said the poor Chan- 
cellor, "your Majesty! I don't know what 
to say, your Majesty." He mopped at him- 

258 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

self as he spoke, and the water trickled from 
him on to the floor. 

"Pull yourself together," said the King 
sternly. "We shall want all your wisdom, 
which is notoriously not much, to help us 
in this crisis." 

"Your Majesty, who has dared to do this 
grievous thing?' 

"You fool, how should I know? Do you 
think they did it while I was awake?' 

The Chancellor stiffened a little. He was 
accustomed to being called a fool ; but that was 
by a man with a terrifying pair of ginger 
whiskers. From the rather fat and uninspiring 
face in front of him he was inclined to resent 
it. 

"What does your Majesty propose to do?' 
he asked shortly. 

"I propose to do the following. Upon 
you rests the chief burden." 

The Chancellor did not look surprised. 

"It will be your part to break the news 

259 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

as gently as possible to my people. You 
will begin by saying that I am busy with a 
great enchanter who has called to see me, 
and that therefore I am unable to show myself 
to my people this morning. Later on in the 
day you will announce that the enchanter has 
shown me how to defeat the wicked Euralians ; 
you will dwell upon the fact that this victory, 
as assured by him, involves an overwhelming 
sacrifice on my part, but that for the good of 
my people I am willing to endure it. Then you 
will solemnly announce that the sacrifice I am 
making, have indeed already made, is nothing 
less than What are all those fools cheer- 
ing for out there? ' A mighty roar of laughter 
rose to the sky. 'Here, what's it all about? 
Just go and look/' 

The Chancellor went to the door of the tent 
and saw. 

He came back to the King, striving to 
speak casually. 

'Just a humorous emblem that the Eura- 

260 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

lians have raised over their camp," he said. 
"It wouldn't amuse your Majesty/ 1 

"I am hardly in the mood for joking," said 
the King. 'Let us return to business. As 
I was saying, you will announce to the people 
that the enormous sacrifice which their King 
is prepared to make for them consists of- 
There they go again. I must really see what 
it is. Just pull the door back so that I may 
see without being seen.' 1 

"It it really wouldn't amuse your Ma- 
jesty." 

"Are you implying that I have no sense 
of humour?" said the King sternly. 

"Oh no, sire, but there are certain jokes, 
jokes in the poorest of taste, that would nat- 
urally not appeal to so delicate a palate as 
your Majesty's. This er strikes me as 
one of them.' 3 

" Of that I am the best judge," said the King 
coldly. 'Open the door at once." 

The Chancellor opened the door; and there 

261 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

before the King's eyes, flaunting themselves in 
the breeze beneath the Royal Standard of 
Euralia, waved his own beloved whiskers. 

The King of Barodia was not a lovable man, 
and his daughters were decidedly plain, but 
there are moments when one cannot help 
admiring him. This was one of them. 

"You may shut the door,' 1 he said to the 
Chancellor. 'The instructions which I gave 
you just now," he went on in the same cold 
voice, 'are cancelled. Let me think for a 
moment.' 1 He began to walk up and down his 
apartment. You may think, too," he added 
kindly. 'If you have anything not entirely 
senseless to suggest, you may suggest it.' : 

He continued his pacings. Suddenly he 
came to a dead stop. He was standing in 
front of a large mirror. For the first time since 
he was seventeen he had seen his face without 
whiskers. His eyes still fixed on his reflection, 
he beckoned the Chancellor to approach. 

'Come here," he said, clutching him by 

262 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

the arm. : You see that? ' He pointed to the 
reflection. That is what I look like? The 
mirror hasn't made a mistake of any kind? 
That is really and truly what I look like?' 

"Yes, sire." 

For a little while the King continued to 
gaze fascinated at his reflection, and then he 
turned on the Chancellor. 

: You coward!' he said. You weak- 
kneed, jelly-souled, paper-livered imitation 
of a man! You cringe to a King who looks 
like that ! Why, you ought to kick me. ' : 

The Chancellor remembered that he had 
one kick owing to him. He drew back his 
foot, and then a thought occurred to him. 

: You might kick me back," he pointed 
out. 

*I certainly should," said the King. 
The Chancellor hesitated a moment. 

4 1 think," he said, 'that these private 
quarrels in the face of the common enemy 
are to be deplored.' 1 

263 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

The King looked at him, gave a short laugh, 
and went on walking up and down. 

'That face again," he sighed as he came 
opposite the mirror. 'No, it's no good; I 
can never be King like this. I shall abdi- 
cate.' 1 

"But, your Majesty, this is a very terrible 
decision. Could not your Majesty live in 
retirement until your Majesty had grown 
your Majesty's whiskers again? Surely this 



is " 



The King came to a stand opposite him and 
looked down on him gravely. 

"Chancellor," he said, "those whiskers 
which you have just seen fluttering in the 
breeze have been for more than forty years 
my curse. For more than forty years I have 
had to live up to those whiskers, behaving, 
not as my temperament, which is a kindly, 
indeed a genial one, bade me behave, but as 
those whiskers insisted I should behave. Ar- 
rogant, hasty -tempered, over-bearing these 

264 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

are the qualities which have been demanded of 
the owner of those whiskers. I played a part 
which was difficult at first; of late, it has, alas! 
been more easy. Yet it has never been my 
true nature that you have seen." 

He paused and looked silently at himself 
in the glass. 

"But, your Majesty," said the Chancellor 
eagerly, 'why choose this moment to abdi- 
cate? Think how your country will welcome 
this new King whom you have just revealed to 
me. And yet," he added regretfully, "it would 
not be quite the same." 

The King turned round to him. 

There spoke a true Barodian," he said. 
It would not be the same. Barodians have 
come to expect certain qualities from their 
rulers, and they would be lost without them. 
A new King might accustom them to other 
ways, but they are used to me, and they would 
not like me different. No, Chancellor, I shall 
abdicate. Do not wear so sad a face for me. 

265 



(6 
ft 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

I am looking forward to my new life with the 
greatest of joy." 

The Chancellor was not looking sad for 
him; he was looking sad for himself, thinking 
that perhaps a new King might like changes 
in Chancellors equally with changes in man- 
ners or whiskers. 

"But what will you do?' he asked. 

"I shall be a simple subject of the new 
King, earning my living by my own toil.'' 

The Chancellor raised his eyebrows at this. 

"I suppose you think," said the King 
haughtily, 'that I have not the intelligence 
to earn my own living." 

The Chancellor with a cough remarked 
that the very distinguished qualities which 
made an excellent King did not always imply 
the corresponding er and so on. 

"That shows how little you know about 
it. Just to give one example. I happen to 
know that I have in me the makings of an 

excellent swineherd." 

266 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

"A swineherd?' 

: The man who er herds the swine. It 
may surprise you to hear that, posing as a 
swineherd, I have conversed with another of 
the profession upon his own subject, without 
his suspecting the truth. It is just such a busy 
outdoor life as I should enjoy. One herds and 
one milks, and one milks, and er herds, and 
so it goes on day after day." A happy smile, 
the first the Chancellor had ever seen there, 
spread itself over his features. He clapped the 
Chancellor playfully on the back and added, 
4 1 shall simply love it." 

The Chancellor was amazed. What a 
story for his dinner-parties when the war 



was over! 

cc 



How will you announce it?" he asked, and 
his tone struck a happy mean between the 
tones in which you address a monarch and a 
pig-minder respectively. 

"That will be your duty. Now that I 
have shaken off the curse of those whiskers, 

267 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

I am no longer a proud man, but even a 
swineherd would not care for it to get about 
that he had been forcibly shaved while sleeping. 
That this should be the last incident recorded 
of me in Barodian history is unbearable. You 
will announce therefore that I have been slain 
in fair combat, though at dead of night, by the 
King of Euralia, and that my whiskers fly 
over his royal tent as a symbol of his victory.' 1 
He winked at the Chancellor and added, 'It 
might as well get about that some one had 
stolen my Magic Sword that evening." 

The Chancellor was speechless with ad- 
miration and approval of the plan. Like his 
brother of Euralia, he too was longing to get 
home again. The war had arisen over a per- 
sonal insult to the King. If the King was no 
longer King, why should the war go on? 

'I think," said the future swineherd, "that 
I shall send a Note over to the King of Euralia, 
telling him my decision. To-night, when it is 
dark, I shall steal away and begin my new life. 

268 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

There seems to be no reason why the people 
should not go back to their homes to-morrow. 
By the way, that guard outside there knows 
that I wasn't killed last night; that's rather 
awkward.' 

"I think," said the Chancellor, who was 
already picturing his return home, and was 
not going to be done out of it by a common 
sentry, 'I think I could persuade him that 
you were killed last night.' 

"Oh, well, then, that's all right.' 1 He drew 
a ring from his ringer. ' Perhaps this will help 
him to be persuaded. Now leave me while I 
write to the King of Euralia.' : 

It was a letter which Merriwig was de- 
cidedly glad to get. It announced bluntly 
that the war was over, and added that the 
King of Barodia proposed to abdicate. His 
son would rule in his stead, but he was a 
harmless fool, and the King of Euralia need 
not bother about him. The King would be 

much obliged if he would let it get about that 

269 



THE KING OF BARODIA 

the whiskers had been won in fair fight; this 
would really be more to the credit of both of 
them. Personally he was glad to be rid of the 
things, but one has one's dignity. He was 
now retiring into private life, and if it were 
rumoured abroad that he had been killed by 
the King of Euralia matters would be much 
more easy to arrange. 

Merriwig slept late after his long night 
abroad, and he found this Note waiting for 
him when he awoke. He summoned the Chan- 
cellor at once. 

'What have you done about those er 
trophies?" he asked. 

"They are fluttering from your flagstaff, 
sire, at this moment.' 1 

'Ah! And what do my people say?' 

'They are roaring with laughter, sire, at 
the whimsical nature of the jest." 

"Yes, but what do they say?' 

'Some say that your Majesty, with great 
cunning, ventured privily in the night and cut 

270 



DROPS THE WHISKER HABIT 

them off while he slept; others, that with great 
bravery you defeated him in mortal combat 
and carried them away as the spoils of the 
victor.'' 

" Oh ! And what did you say ? ' 

The Chancellor looked reproachful. 
'Naturally, your Majesty, I have not 
spoken with them." 

'Ah, well, I have been thinking it over in 
the night, and I remember now that I did 
kill him. You understand?' 

; Your Majesty's skill in sword play will be 
much appreciated by the people.'' 

"Quite so," said the King hastily. "Well, 
that's all- -I'm getting up now. And we're 
all going home to-morrow. ' : 

The Chancellor went out, rubbing his 
hands with delight. 



271 





CHAPTER XVIII 

THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST ENTERTAINS 
TWO VERY YOUNG PEOPLE 

DO you remember the day when the 
Princess Hyacinth and Wiggs sat 
upon the castle walls and talked of 
Udo's coming? The Princess thought he would 
be dark, and Wiggs thought he would be fair, 
and he was to have the Purple Room or was 
it the Blue? and anyhow he was to put the 
Countess in her place and bring happiness to 
Euralia. That seemed a long time ago to 

273 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 

Hyacinth now, as once more she sat on the 
castle walls with Wiggs. 

She was very lovely. She longed to get 
rid of that 'outside help in our affairs" 
which she had summoned so recklessly. They 
were two against one now. Belvane actively 
against her was bad enough; but Belvane in 
the background with Udo as her mouthpiece 
Udo specially asked in to give the benefit of 
his counsel this was ten times worse. 

What do you do, Wiggs?' she asked, 
when you are very lonely and nobody loves 
you?" 

'Dance,' 3 said Wiggs promptly. 

'But if you don't want to dance?' 
Wiggs tried to remember those dark ages 
(about a week ago) when she couldn't 
dance. 

' I used to go into the forest," she said, "and 
sit under my own tree, and by and by every- 
body loved you." 

'I wonder if they'd love me. 9 ' 



st 

it 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 



'Of course they would. Shall I show you 
my special tree?' 

"Yes, but don't come with me; tell me where 
it is. I want to be unhappy alone. " 

So Wiggs told her how you followed her 
special path, which went in at the corner of 
the forest, until by and by the trees thinned 
on either side, and it widened into a glade, 
and you went downhill and crossed the brook 
at the bottom and went up the other side until 
it was all trees again, and the first and the 
biggest and the oldest and the loveliest was 
hers. And you turned round and sat with your 
back against it, and looked across to where 
you'd come from, and then you knew that 
everything was all right. 

"I shall find it,' said Hvacinth, as she 

' */ * 

got up . " Thank you , dear . ' : 

She found it, she sat there, and her heart 
was very bitter at first against Udo and 
against Belvane, and even against her father 
for going away and leaving her ; but by and by 

275 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 

the peace of the place wrapped itself round her, 
and she felt that she would find a way out of 
her difficulties somehow. Only she wished 
that her father would come back, because he 
loved her, and she felt that it would be nice to 
be loved again. 

' It is beautiful, isn't it? ' said a voice from 
behind her. 

She turned suddenly, as a tall young man 
stepped out from among the trees. 

"Oh, who are you, please?' she asked, 
amazed at his sudden appearance. His dress 
told her nothing, but his face told her things 
which she was glad to know. 

"My name," he said, "is Coronel.' 

'It is a pretty name." 

"Yes, but don't be led away by it. It 
belongs to nobody very particular. Do you 
mind if I sit down? I generally sit down here 
about this time.' : 

"Oh, do you live in the forest?' 

"I have lived here for the last week.' : He 

276 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 

gave her a friendly smile, and added, ' : You're 
late, aren't you?' 

"Late?" 

: Yes, I've been expecting you for the 
last seven days." 

'How did you know there was any me at 
all?" smiled Hyacinth. 

With a movement of his hand Coronel 
indicated the scene in front of him. 

* There had to be somebody for whom all 
this was made. It wanted somebody to say 
thank you to it now and then.' 1 

"Haven't you been doing that all this 
week?" 

"Me? I wouldn't presume. No, it's your 
glade, and you've neglected it shamefully." 

"There's a little girl who comes here," 
said Hyacinth. 'I wonder if you have seen 
her?" 

Coronel turned away. There were secret 
places in his heart into which Hyacinth could 
not come yet. 

277 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 

"She danced," he said shortly. 

There was silence between them for a little, 
but a comfortable silence, as if they were 
already old friends. 

: You know," said Hyacinth, looking down 
at him as he lay at her feet, 'you ought not 
to be here at all, really." 

"I wish I could think that," said Coronel. 
"I had a horrible feeling that duty called 
me here. I love those places where one really 
oughtn't to be at all, don't you?' 

"I love being here," sighed Hyacinth. 
"Wiggs was quite right.' 1 Seeing him look 
up at her she added, 'Wiggs is the little 
girl who dances, you know.' : 

"She would be right," said Coronel, look- 
ing away from her. 

Hyacinth felt strangely rested. It seemed 
that never again would anything trouble 
her; never again would she have only her 
own strength to depend upon. Who was he? 
But it did not matter. He might go away and 

278 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 

she might never see him again, but she was 
no longer afraid of the world. 

"I thought," she said, "that all the men of 
Euralia were away fighting.' 1 

'So did I," said Coronel. 

'Wliat are you, then? A Prince from a 
distant country, an enchanter, a spy sent from 
Barodia, a travelling musician? you see, 
I give you much to choose from.' 

: You leave me nothing to be but what I 
am Coronel.' 1 

"And I am Hyacinth.' 1 

He knew, of course, but he made no sign. 

'Hyacinth, "he said, and he held out his hand. 

'Coronel," she answered as she took it. 

The brook chuckled to itself as it hurried 
past below them. 

Hyacinth got up with a little sigh of con- 
tentment. 

'Well, I must be going," she said. 

' Must you really be going? " asked Coronel. 
'I wasn't saying good-bye, you know." 

279 




turned round and went 
off daintily down the hill 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 



'I really must." 

'It's a surprising thing about the view from 
here," said Coronel, 'that it looks just as 
nice to-morrow. To-morrow about the same 
time.' 

'That's a very extraordinary thing," smiled 
Hyacinth. 

Yes, but it's one of those things that 
you don't want to take another person's 
word for." 

: You think I ought to see for myself? Well, 
perhaps I will.' 1 

'Give me a whistle if I happen to be 
passing," said Coronel casually, 'and tell me 
what you think. Good-bye, Hyacinth.' 1 

'Good-bye, Coronel. " 

She nodded her head confidently at him, 
and then turned round and went off daintily 
down the hill. 

Coronel stared after her. 
"What is Udo doing?' he murmured to 
himself. 'But perhaps she doesn't like 

280 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 

animals. A whole day to wait. How end- 
less!" 

If he had known that Udo, now on two 
legs again, was at that moment in Belvane's 
garden, trying to tell her, for the fifth time 
that week, about his early life in Araby, he 
would have been still more surprised. 

We left Coronel, if you remember, in Araby. 
For three or four days he remained there, 
wondering how Udo was getting on, and feel- 
ing more and more that he ought to do some- 
thing about it. On the fourth day he got on 
to his horse and rode off again. He simply 
must see what was happening. If Udo wanted 
help, then he would be there to give it; if Udo 
was all right again, then he could go comfor- 
tably back to Araby. 

To tell the truth, Coronel was a little 
jealous of his friend. A certain Prince Peri- 
vale, who had stayed at his uncle's court, had 
once been a suitor for Hyacinth's hand; but 
losing a competition with the famous seven- 

281 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 

headed bull of Euralia, which Merriwig had 
arranged for him, had made no further head- 
way with his suit. This Prince had had a 
portrait of Hyacinth specially done for him by 
his own Court Painter, a portrait which Cor- 
onel had seen. It was for this reason that he 
had at first objected to accompanying Udo to 
Euralia, and it was for this reason that he 
persuaded himself very readily that the claims 
of friendship called him there now. 

For the last week he had been waiting in the 
forest. Now that he was there, he was not 
quite sure how to carry out his mission. So 
far there had been no sign of Udo, either on 
four legs or on two; it seemed probable that 
unless Coronel went to the Palace and asked 
for him, there would be no sign. And if he 
went to the Palace, and Udo was all right, and 
the Princess Hyacinth was in love with him, 
then the worst would have happened. He 
would have to stay there and help admire Udo 
an unsatisfying prospect to a man in love. 

282 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 

For he told himself by this time that he was in 
love with Hyacinth, although he had never 
seen her. 

So he had waited in the forest, hoping for 
something to turn up; and first Wiggs had 
come . . . and now at last Hyacinth. He 
was very glad that he had waited. 

She was there on the morrow. 

"I knew you'd come," said Coronel. "It 
looks just as beautiful, doesn't it ? ' 

"I think it's even more beautiful," said 
Hyacinth. 

"You mean those little white clouds? That 
was my idea putting those in. I thought 
you'd like them.' 1 

"I wondered what you did all day. Does 
it keep you very busy ? ' 

Oh," said Coronel, "I have time for 



.. 



singing." 

"Why do you sing?' 

c< 



Because I am young and the forest is 

beautiful.' 3 

283 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 

'I have been singing this morning, too." 
'Why?" asked Coronel eagerly. 
'Because the war with Barodia is over. 95 
' Oh ! " said Coronel, rather taken aback. 
'That doesn't interest you. Yet if you 
were a Euralian- 

4 But it interests me extremely. Let us 
admire the scene for a moment, while I 
think. Look, there is another of my little 
clouds.' 1 

Coronel wondered what would happen now. 
If the King were coming back, then Udo 
would be wanted no longer save as a suitor for 
Hyacinth's hand. If, then, he returned, it 

would show that But suppose he was 

still an animal? It was doubtful if he would 
go back to Araby as an animal. And then 
there was another possibility : perhaps he had 
never come to Euralia at all. Here were a lot 
of questions to be answered, and here next to 
him was one who could answer them. But he 
must go carefully. 

284 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 

' Ninety -seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, 
a hundred," he said a^Joud. "There, I've 
finished my thinking and you've finished your 
looking.'' 

'And what have you decided?' smiled 
Hyacinth . 

'Decided?' said Coronel, rather startled. 

'Oh, no, I wasn't deciding anything, I was 

just thinking. I was thinking about animals." 

"So was I." 

'How very curious, and also how wrong 
of you. You were supposed to be admiring 
my clouds. What sort of animals were you 
thinking about?' 

"Oh all sorts." 

'I was thinking about rabbits. Do you 
care for rabbits at all?' 

'Not very much." 

'Neither do I. They're so loppity. Do 
you like lions ? ' 

'I think their tails are rather silly," said 
Hyacinth. 

285 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 

: Yes, perhaps they are. Now a woolly 
lamb." 

'I am not very fond of woolly lambs just 



now. : 



"No? Well, they're not very interesting. 
It's a funny thing,' 1 he went on casually, 
trying to steal a glance at her, 'that we 
should be talking about those three animals, 
because I once met somebody who was a 
mixture of all three together at the same 
time.' 

'So did I," said Hyacinth gravely. 

But he saw her mouth trembling, and 
suddenly she turned round and caught his 
eye, and then they burst out laughing to- 
gether. 

'Poor Udo," said Coronel; "and how is he 
looking now?' 

'He is all right again now.' : 

'All right again? Then why isn't he 

But I'm very glad he isn't.' 1 

"I didn't like him," said Hyacinth, blush- 

286 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 

ing a little. And then she went on bravely, 
'But I think he found he didn't like me 
first." 

' He wants humouring," said Coronel. "It's 
my business to humour him, it isn't yours.' 1 

Hyacinth looked at him with a new in- 
terest. 

'Now I know who you are," she said. 'He 
talked about you once.' : 

'What did he say?' asked Coronel, ob- 
viously dying to know. 

'He said that you were good at poetry.' 1 

Coronel was a little disappointed. He 
would have preferred Hyacinth to have 
been told that he was good at dragons. 
However, they had met now and it did not 
matter. 

'Princess," he said suddenly, "I expect 
you wonder what I am doing here. I came 
to see if Prince Udo was in need of help, and 
also to see if you were in need of help. Prince 
Udo was my friend, but if he has not been a 

287 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 

friend of yours, then lie is no longer a friend of 
mine. Tell me what has been happening here, 
and then tell me if in any way I can help 

you." 

"You called me Hyacinth yesterday," she 
said, "and it is still my name.' : 

"Hyacinth," said Coronel, taking her hand, 
"tell me if you want me at all." 

"Thank you, Coronel. You see, Coronel, 
it's like this." And sitting beneath Wiggs's 
veteran of the forest, with Coronel lying at 
her feet, she told him everything. 

"It seems easy enough," he said when she 
had finished. You want Udo pushed out and 
the Countess put in her place. I can do the 
one while you do the other." 

"Yes, but how do I push Prince Udo out?' 

"That's what Tm going to do." 

: Yes, but, Coronel dear, if I could put the 

Countess in her place, shouldn't I have done 

it a long time ago? I don't think you quite 

know the sort of person she is. And I don't 

288 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 

quite know what her place is either, which 
makes it rather hard to put her into it. You 
see, I don't think I told you that that Father 
is rather fond of her." 

'I thought you said Udo was." 
"They both are." 

'Then how simple. We simply kill Udo, 
and and- -well, anyhow, there's one part 
of it done.' : 

: Yes, but what about the other part?' 
Coronel thought for a moment. 

' Would it be simpler if we did it the other 
way round?" he said. 'Killed the Countess 
and put Udo in his place.' 

'Father wouldn't like that at all, and he's 
coming back to-morrow. " 

Coronel didn't quite see the difficulty. 
If the King was in love with the Countess, 
he would marry her whatever Hyacinth did. 
And what was the good of putting her in her 
place for one day if her next place was to be 
on the throne. 

89 



THE VETERAN OF THE FOREST 

Hyacinth guessed what he was thinking. 

"Oh, don't you see," she cried, "she 
doesn't know that the King is coming back 
to-morrow. And if I can only just show her 
I don't mind if it's only for an hour that I 
am not afraid of her, and that she has got to 
take her orders from me, then I shan't mind 
so much all that has happened these last weeks. 
But if she is to have disregarded me all the 
time, if she is to have plotted against me from 
the very moment my father went away, and if 
nothing is to come to her for it but that she 
marries my father and becomes Queen of 
Euralia, then I can have no pride left, and I 
will be a Princess no longer.' 3 

"I must see this Bel vane," said Coronel 
thoughtfully. 

'Oh, Coronel, Coronel," cried Hyacinth, 
'if you fall in love with her, too, I think I 
shall die of shame ! ' 

'With her, Hyacinth?' he said, turning 
to her in amazement. 

290 



ENTERTAINS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE 



" 



Yes, you I didn't you never I 



Her voice trailed away; she could not meet his 
gaze any longer; she dropped her eyes, and 
the next moment his arms were round her, 
and she knew that she would never be alone 
again. 



291 




CHAPTER XIX 

UDO BEHAVES LIKE A GENTLEMAN 

A ND now," said Coronel, "we'd better 
/-% decide what to do.' : 

'But I don't mind w^hat we do 
now," said Hyacinth happily. ' She may have 
the throne and Father and Udo, and and 
anything else she can get, and I shan't mind 
a bit. You see, I have got you now, Coronel, 
and I can never be jealous of anybody again." 
'That's what makes it so jolly. We can 
do what we like, and it doesn't matter if it 
doesn't come off. So just for fun let's think 
of something to pay her out." 

293 



UDO BEHAVES LIKE 

'I feel I don't want to hurt anybody 
to-day." 

4 All right, we won't hurt her, we'll humour 
her. We will be her most humble obedient ser- 
vants . She shall have everything she wants . ' : 

'Including Prince Udo," smiled Hyacinth. 

'That's a splendid idea. We'll make her 
have Udo. It will annoy your father, but 
one can't please everybody. Oh, I can see 
myself enjoying this." 

They got up and wandered back along 
Wiggs's path, hand in hand. 

'I'm almost afraid to leave the forest," 
said Hyacinth, "in case something happens." 
"What should happen?" 

'I don't know; but all our life together has 
been in the forest, and I'm just a little afraid 
of the world." 

'I will be very close to you always, Hya- 
cinth." 

'Be very close, Coronel," she whispered, 
and then they walked out together. 

294 



A GENTLEMAN 

If any of the servants at the Palace were 
surprised to see Coronel, they did not show 
it. After all, that was their business. 

"Prince Coronel will be staying here/ 1 
said the Princess. 'Prepare a room for him 
and some refreshment for us both.' 3 And if 
they discussed those things in the servants' 
halls of those days (as why should they not?), 
no doubt they told each other that the Princess 
Hyacinth (bless her pretty face !) had found her 
man at last. Why, you only had to see her look- 
ing at him. But I get no assistance from Roger 
at this point; he pretends that he has a mind 
far above the gossip of the lower orders. 

"I say," said Coronel, as they went up 
the grand staircase, 'I'm not a Prince, you 
know. Don't say I have deceived you." 

"You are my Prince," said Hyacinth 
proudly. 

"My dear, I am a king among men to-day, 
and you are my queen, but that's in our 
own special country of tw r o." 

295 



UDO BEHAVES LIKE 

'If you are so particular," said Hyacinth, 
with a smile, "Father will make you a proper 
Prince directly he comes back." 

"Will he? That's what I'm wondering. 
You see he doesn't know yet about our little 
present to the Countess." 



But it is quite time we got back to Bel- 
vane; we have left her alone too long. It was 
more than Udo did. Just now he was with 
her in her garden, telling her for the fifth time 
an extraordinarily dull story about an en- 
counter of his with a dragon, apparently in its 
dotage, to which Belvane was listening with 
an interest which surprised even the narrator. 

"And then,"' said Udo, 'I jumped quickly 
to the right, and whirling my no, wait a 
bit, that was later I jumped quickly to 
my left yes, I remember it now, it was my 
left I jumped quickly to my left, and whirling 
my " 

He stopped suddenly at the expression on 

296 



A GENTLEMAN 

Bel vane's face. She was looking over his 
shoulder at something behind him. 

"Why, whoever is this?' she said, getting 
to her feet. 

Before Udo had completely cleared his 
mind of his dragon, the Princess and Coronel 
were upon them. 

"Ah, Countess, I thought we should find 
you together, ' ' said Hyacinth archly . ' Let me 
present to you my friend, the Duke Coronel. 
Coronel, this is Countess Bel vane, a very dear 
and faithful friend of mine. Prince Udo, of 
course, you know. His Royal Highness and 
the Countess are well, it isn't generally 
known at present, so perhaps I oughtn't to 
say anything.' 1 

Coronel made a deep bow to the astonished 
Bel vane. 

; Your humble servant," he said. : You 
will, I am sure, forgive me if I say how glad 
I am to hear your news. Udo is one of my 
oldest friends" he turned and clapped that 

297 




Let me present to you my 
friend the Duke Coronet 



UDO BEHAVES LIKE 

bewildered Highness on the back "aren't 
you, Udo? and I can think of no one more 
suitable in every way.' : He bowed again, 
and turned back to the Prince. 'Well, Udo, 
you're looking splendid. A different thing, 
Countess, from when I last saw him. Let me 
see, that must have been just the day before 
he arrived in Euralia. Ah, what a miracle- 
worker True Love is!' 

I think one of the things which made Bel- 
vane so remarkable was that she was never 
afraid of remaining silent when she was not 
quite sure what to say. She waited therefore 
while she considered what all this meant ; who 
Coronel was, what he was doing there, even 
whether a marriage with Udo was not after 
all the best that she could hope for now. 

Meanwhile Udo, of course, blundered along 
gaily. 

'We aren't exactly, Princess I mean 

What are you doing here, Coronel? I didn't 
know, Princess, that you The Countess 

298 



A GENTLEMAN 

and I were just having a little I was just 
telling her what you said about How did you 
get here, Coronel?' 

"Shall we tell him?' said Coronel, with a 
smile at Hyacinth. 

Hyacinth nodded. 

"I rode," said Coronel. "It's a secret," 
he added. 

"But I didn't know that you 

"We find that we have really known each 
other a very long time," explained Hyacinth. 

"And hearing that there was to be a wed- 
ding," added Coronel- 

Belvane made up her mind. Coronel was 
evidently a very different man from Udo. 
If he stayed in Euralia as adviser more 
than adviser she guessed to Hyacinth, her 
own position would not be in much doubt. 
And as for the King, it might be months be- 
fore h^ came back, and when he did come 
would he remember her? But to be Queen 
of Araby was no mean thing. 

299 



UDO BEHAVES LIKE 

"We didn't want it to be known yet," 
she said shyly, "but you have guessed our 
secret, your Royal Highness." She looked 
modestly at the ground, and, feeling for her 
reluctant lover's hand, went on, 'Udo and 
I" here she squeezed the hand, and, finding 
it was Coronel's, took Udo's boldly without 
any more maidenly nonsense "Udo and I 
love each other." 

'Say something, Udo," prompted Cor- 
onel. 

'Er yes," said Udo, very unwillingly, 
and deciding that he would explain it all 
afterwards. Whatever his feelings for the 
Countess, he was not going to be rushed 
into a marriage. 

"Oh, I'm so glad," said Hyacinth. "I 
felt somehow that it must be coming, because 
you've seen so much of each other lately. 
Wiggs and I have often talked about it 
together." 

("What has happened to the child?' 

300 



A GENTLEMAN 

thought Belvane. "She isn't a child at all, 
she's grown up.") 

"There's no holding Udo once he begins," 
volunteered Coronel. "He's the most de- 
sperate lover in Araby. 

"My father will be so excited when he 
hears," said Hyacinth. : You know, of course, 
that his Majesty comes back to-morrow with 
all his arrny.' ; 

She did not swoon nor utter a cry. She did 
not plead the vapours or the megrims. She 
took unflinching what must have been the 
biggest shock in her life. 

"Then perhaps I had better see that 
everything is ready in the Palace," she said, 
"if your Royal Highness will excuse me.' : 
And with a curtsey she was gone. 

Coronel exchanged a glance with Hya- 
cinth. "I'm enjoying this," he seemed to 
say. ' " ' ' 

"Well," she announced, "I must be going 
in, too. There'll be much to see about." 

301 



UDO BEHAVES LIKE 

Coronel was left alone with the most 
desperate lover in Araby. 

4 And now," said the Prince, "tell me what 
you are doing here." 

Coronel put his arm in Udo's and walked 

r 

him up and down the flagged path. 

'Your approaching marriage," he said, "is 
the talk of Araby. Naturally I had to come 
here to see for myself what she was like. My 
dear Udo, she's charming; I congratulate you." 

'Don't be a fool, Coronel. I haven't the 
slightest intention of marrying her." 

'Then why have you told everybody that 
you are going to?' 

: You know quite well I haven't told any- 
body. There hasn't been a single word about 
it mentioned until you pushed your way in 
just now." 

'Ah, well, perhaps you hadn't heard about 
it. But the Princess knows, the Countess 
knows, and I know yes, I think you may 
take our word for it that it's true." 

302 



A GENTLEMAN 

"I haven't the slightest intention what do 
you keep clinging on to my arm like this for? ' 

"My dear Udo, I'm so delighted to see you 
again. Don't turn your back on old friend- 
ships just because you have found a nobler 

and a truer Oh, very well, if you're 

going to drop all your former friends, go on 
then. But when Fm married, there will 
always be a place for 

"Understand once and for all," said Udo 
angrily, 'that I am not getting married. 
No, don't take my arm we can talk quite 
well like this." 

"I am sorry, Udo," said Coronel meekly; 
"we seem to have made a mistake. But you 
must admit we found you in a very com- 
promising position." 

"It wasn't in the least compromising," 
protested Udo indignantly. 'As a matter of 
fact I was just telling her about that dragon I 
killed in Araby last year." 

"Ah, and who would listen to a hopeless 

303 



UDO BEHAVES LIKE 

story like that, but the woman one was 
going to marry?' 

"Once more, I am not going to marry 
her." 

"Well, you must please yourself, but you 
have compromised her severely with that story. 
Poor innocent girl. Well, let's forget about it. 
And now tell me, how do you like Euralia?' 

"I am returning to Araby this afternoon," 
said Udo stiffly. 

"Well, perhaps you're right. I hope that 
nothing will happen to you on the way.' : 

Udo, who was about to enter the Palace, 
turned round with a startled look. 

"What do you mean?' 

"Well, something happened on the way 
here. By the by, how did that happen? 
You never told me." 

"Your precious Countess, whom you expect 
me to marry." 

"How very unkind of her. A nasty per- 
son to annoy. ' : He was silent for a moment, 

304 



A GENTLEMAN 

and then added thoughtfully, "I suppose it is 
rather annoying to think you're going to 
marry somebody whom you love very much, 
and then find you're not going to.' : 

Udo evidently hadn't thought of this. He 
tried to show that he was not in the least 
frightened. 

'She couldn't do anything. It was only 
by a lucky chance she did it last time." 

'Yes, but of course the chance might 
come again. You'd have the thing hanging 
over you always. She's clever, you know; 
and I should never feel quite safe if she were 
my enemy. . . . Lovely flowers, aren't 
they? What's the name of this one?' 

Udo dropped undecidedly into a seat. 
This wanted thinking out. The Countess 
what was wrong with her, after all? And 
she evidently adored him. Of course that 
was not surprising; the question was, was it 
fair to disappoint one who had, perhaps, 

some little grounds for ? After all, he 

305 



UDO BEHAVES LIKE 

had been no more gallant than was customary 
from a Prince and a gentleman to a beautiful 
woman. It was her own fault if she had mis- 
taken his intentions. Of course he ought to 
have left Euralia long ago. But he had stayed 
on, and well, decidedly she was beautiful 
perhaps he had paid rather too much attention 
to that. And he had certainly neglected the 
Princess a little. After all, again, why not 
marry the Countess ? It was absurd to suppose 
there was anything in Coronet's nonsense, but 
one never knew. Not that he was marrying 
her out of fear. No; certainly not. It was 
simply a chivalrous whim on his part. The 
poor woman had misunderstood him, and she 
should not be disappointed. 

'She seems fond of flowers," said Coronel. 
: You ought to make the Palace garden look 
beautiful between you.' 1 

'Now, understand clearly, Coronel, I'm 
not in the least frightened by the Countess." 
My dear Udo, what a speech for a lover! 

306 



6( 



A GENTLEMAN 

Of course you're not. After all, what you bore 
with such patience and dignity once, you can 
bear again.' 1 

" That subject is distasteful to me. I 
must ask you not to refer to it. If I marry 
the Countess 

"You'll be a very lucky man," put in Cor- 
onel. "I happen to know that the King of 
Euralia how r ever, she's chosen you, it seems. 
Personally, I can't make out what she sees in 
you. What is it?' 

'I should have thought it was quite obvi- 
ous," said Udo with dignity. 'Well, Coronel, 
I think perhaps you are right and that it's 
my duty to marry her." 

Coronel shook him solemnly by the hand. 

'I congratulate your Royal Highness. I 
will announce your decision to the Princess. 
She will be much amu much delighted." 
And he turned into the Palace. 

Pity him, you lovers. He had not seen 
Hyacinth for nearly ten minutes. 

307 




CHAPTER XX 

CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD STORY WHEN HE 

HEARS IT 

QUOTE (with slight alterations) from 
an epic by Charlotte Patacake, a con- 
temporary poet of the country: 



I 



King Merriwig the First rode back from war, 
As many other Kings had done before; 
Five hundred men behind him were in sight 
(Left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right, left-right). 

So far as is known, this was her only work, 
but she built up some reputation on it, and 
Belvane, who was a good judge, had a high 

opinion of her genius. 

309 



CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD 

To be exact, there were only four hundred 
and ninety-nine men. Henry Smallnose, a 
bowman of considerable promise, had been 
left behind in the enemy's country, the one 
casualty of the war. While spying out the 
land in the early days of the invasion, he had 
been discovered by the Chief Armourer of Ba- 
rodia at full length on the wet grass searching 
for tracks . The Chief Armourer, a kindly man, 
had invited him to his cottage, dried him and 
given him a warming drink, and had told him 
that, if ever his spying took him that way again, 
he was not to stand on ceremony, but come in 
and pay him a visit. Henry, having caught a 
glimpse of the Chief Armourer's daughter, had 
accepted without any false pride, and had fre- 
quently dropped in to supper thereafter. Now 
that the war was over, he found that he could 
not tear himself away. With King Merriwig's 
permission he was settling in Barodia, and with 
the Chief Armourer's permission he was start- 
ing on his new life as a married man. 

310 



STORY WHEN HE HEARS IT 

As the towers of the castle came in sight, 
Merriwig drew a deep breath of happiness. 
Home again! The hardships of the war were 
over ; the spoils of victory (wrapped up in tissue 
paper) were in his pocket; days of honoured 
leisure were waiting for him. He gazed at each 
remembered landmark of his own beloved coun- 
try, his heart overflowing with thankfulness. 
Never again would he leave Euralia! 

How good to see Hyacinth again! Poor 
little Hyacinth left all alone; but there! she 
had had the Countess Belvane, a woman of 
great experience, to help her. Belvane! 
Should he risk it? How much had she thought 
of him while he was away? Hyacinth would 
be growing up and getting married soon. Life 

would be lonely in Euralia then, unless 

Should he risk it? 

What would Hyacinth say? 

She was waiting for him at the gates of 
the castle. She had wanted Coronel to wait 
with her, but he had refused. 

311 




As the towers of the Castle 
came in sight, Merriwig drew 
a deep breath of happiness 



CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD 

"We must offer the good news to him 
gradually," he said. 'When a man has just 
come back from a successful campaign, he 
doesn't want to find a surprise like this waiting 
for him. Just think we don't even know why 
the war is over he must be longing to tell 
you that. Oh, he'll have a hundred things to 
tell you first; but then, when he says 'And 
what's been happening here while I've been 
away? Nothing much, I suppose?' then you 

can say 

'Then I shall say, 'Nothing much; only 
Coronel.' And such a clever!' 

Oh, I have my ideas," said Coronel. 
Well, I'll be out of the way somewhere. I 
think I'll go for a walk in the forest. Or shall I 
stay here, in the Countess's garden, and amuse 
myself with Udo? Anyhow, I'll give you an 
hour alone together first.' 1 

The cavalcade drew up in front of the 
castle. Handkerchiefs fluttered to them from 
the walls ; trumpets were blown ; hounds bayed. 

312 



(6 
66 



STORY WHEN HE HEARS IT 

Down the steps came Hyacinth, all blue and 
gold, and flung herself into her father's 
arms. 

"My dear child," said Merriwig as he 
patted her soothingly. "There, there! It's 
your old father come back again. H'r'm. 
There, there ! ' He patted her again, as though 
it were she and not himself who was in danger 
of breaking down. " My little Hyacinth ! My 
own little girl ! ' 

"Oh, Father, I am glad to have you back.' 1 

"There, there, my child. Now I must 
just say a few words to my men, and then 
we can tell each other all that has been 
happening." 

He took a step forward and addressed his 
troops. 

"Men of Euralia (cheers). We have re- 
turned from a long and arduous conflict 
(cheers) to the embraces (loud cheers) of our 
mothers and wives and daughters (prolonged 
cheering) as the case may be (hear, hear). 

313 



CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD 

In honour of our great victory I decree that s 
from now onwards, to-morrow shall be ob- 
served as a holiday throughout Euralia (terri- 
fic cheering) . I bid you all now return to your 
homes, and I hope that you will find as warm 
a welcome there as I have found in mine.' : 
Here he turned and embraced his daughter 
again ; and if his eye travelled over her shoulder 
in the direction of Belvane's garden, it is a 
small matter, and one for which the architect 
of the castle, no doubt, was principally to 
blame. 

There was another storm of cheers, the 
battle-cry of Euralia, "Ho, ho, Merriicig! 9 
was shouted from five hundred throats, and 
the men dispersed happily to their homes. 
Hyacinth and Merriwig went into the Palace. 

"Now, Father," said Hyacinth later on, 
when Merriwig had changed his clothes and 
refreshed himself, 'you've got to tell me all 
about it. I can hardly believe it's really 

over." 

314 



STORY WHEN HE HEARS IT 

"Yes, yes. It's all over," said Merriwig 
heartily. 'We shan't have any trouble in 
that direction again, I fancy. ' : 

' Do tell me, did the King of Barodia apolo- 

i ?> 
giser 

'He did better than that, he abdicated.' 1 
"Why?" 

'Well," said Merriwig, remembering just 
in time, "I er killed him." 
' Oh, Father, how rough of you." 
' I don't think it hurt him very much, my 
dear. It was more a shock to his feelings than 
anything else. See, I have brought these 
home for you." 

He produced from his pocket a small 
packet in tissue paper. 

'Oh, how exciting! Whatever can it 
be?" 

Merriwig unwrapped the paper, and dis- 
closed a couple of ginger whiskers, neatly 
tied up with blue ribbon. 
"Father!" 

315 



CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD 

He picked out the left one, fons et origo 
(if he had known any Latin) of the war, 
and held it up for Hyacinth's inspec- 
tion. 

"There, you can see the place where Henry 
Smallnose's arrow bent it. By the way," 
he added, 'Henry is marrying, and settling 
down in Barodia. It is curious," he went on, 
'how after a war one's thoughts turn to matri- 
mony.' 1 He glanced at his daughter to see 
how she would take this, but she was still 
engrossed with the whiskers. 

"What am I going to do with them, Father? 
I can't plant them in the garden.' 1 

'I thought we might run them up the flag- 
staff, as we did in Barodia. " 

'Isn't that a little unkind now that the 
poor man's dead?' 

Merriwig looked round him to see that 
there were no eavesdroppers. 

' Can you keep a secret? " he asked mysteri- 
ously. 

316 



STORY WHEN HE HEARS IT 

'Of course," said Hyacinth, deciding at 
once that it would not matter if she only 
told Coronel. 

"Well, then, listen." 

He told her of his secret journey to the King 
of Barodia's tent; he told her of the King of 
Barodia's letter; he told her more fully of his 
early duel with the King; he told her every- 
thing that he had said and done; and every- 
thing that everybody else had said and done to 
him; and his boyish pleasure in it all was so 
evident and so innocent, that even a stranger 
would have had nothing more reproachful for 
him than a smile. To Hyacinth he seemed the 
dearest of fathers and the most wonderful 
of kings. 

And by and by the moment came of which 
Coronel had spoken. 

'And now," said Merriwig, "tell me what 
you have all been doing with yourselves here. 
Nothing much, I suppose?' 

He waited nervously, wondering if Hyacinth 

317 



CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD 

would realise that "all" was meant to include 
more particularly Bel vane. 

Hyacinth drew a stool up to her father's 
chair and sat down very close to him. 

"Father," she said, stroking his hand where 
it rested on his knee, "I have got some news 
for you.' 

"Nothing about the Coun nothing serious, 
I hope," said Merriwig, in alarm. 

"It's rather serious, but it's rather nice. 
Father, dear, would you mind very much if I 
got married soon?' 

"My dear, you shall get married as soon 
as you like. Let me see, there were six or 
seven Princes who came about it only the 
other day. I sent them off on adventures of 
some kind, but dear me, yes, they ought to 
have been back by now. I suppose you 
haven't heard anything of them?' 

"No, Father," said Hyacinth, with a little 
smile. 

"Ah, well, no doubt they were unsuccess- 

318 



STORY WHEN HE HEARS IT 

ful. No matter, dear, we can easily find you 
plenty more suitors. Indeed, the subject has 
been very near my thoughts lately. We'll 
arrange a little competition, and let them know 
in the neighbouring countries; there'll be no 
lack of candidates. Let me see, there's that 
seven-headed bull; he's getting a little old 
now, but he was good enough for the last one, 
We might " 

"I don't want a suitor,'' said Hyacinth 
softly. "I have one. " 

Merriwig leant forward with eagerness. 

"My dear, this is indeed news. Tell me 
all about it. Upon what quest did you send 
him?" 

Hyacinth had felt this coming. Had she 
lived in modern times she would have expected 
the question, "Wliat is his income?' A man 
must prove his worth in some way. 

"I haven't sent him away at all yet," 
she said; "he's only just come. He's been 
very kind to me, and I'm sure you'll love him." 

319 



CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD 

'Well, well, we'll arrange something for 

him. Perhaps that bull I was speaking of 

By the way, who is he? ' 

"He comes from Araby, and his name 



is " 



"Udo, of course. Why didn't I think 
of him? An excellent arrangement, my 
dear." 

'It isn't Udo, I'm afraid, Father. It's 
Coronel." 

'And who might Coronel be?' said the 
King, rather sternly. 

'He's he's well, he's Here he is, 

Father." She ran up to him impulsively 
as he came in at the door. 'Oh, Coronel, 
you're just in time; do tell Father who you 



are.' 



Coronel bowed profoundly to the King. 
'Before I explain myself, your Majesty/ 3 
he said, 'may I congratulate your Majesty 
on your wonderful victory over the Barodians? 

From the little I have gathered outside, it is 

320 



STORY WHEN HE HEARS IT 

the most remarkable victory that has ever 
occurred. But of course I am longing to hear 
the full story from your Majesty's own lips. 
Is it a fact that your Majesty made his way 
at dead of night to the King of Barodia's own 
tent and challenged him to mortal combat and 
slew him?' There was an eagerness, very 
winning, in his eyes as he asked it; he seemed 
to be envying the King such an adventure an 
adventure after his own heart. 

Merriwig was in an awkward position. He 
wondered for a moment whether to order his 
daughter out of the room. 'Leave us, my 
child," he would say. 'These are matters for 
men to discuss.' 1 But Hyacinth w r ould know 
quite well why she had been sent out, and 
would certainly tell Coronel the truth of the 
matter afterwards. 

It really looked as if Coronel would have 
to be let into the secret too. He cleared his 
throat noisily by way of preparation. 

'There are certain state reasons," he said 

321 



CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD 

with dignity, "why that story has been allowed 
to get about." 

'Pardon, your Majesty. I have no wish 
to " 

"But as you know so much, you may as 
well know all. It happened like this." Once 
more he told the story of his midnight visit, 
and of the King's letter to him. 

"But, your Majesty," cried Coronel, 'it 
is more wonderful than the other. Never was 
such genius of invention, such brilliance and 
daring of execution." 

"So you like it,"' said Merriwig, trying to 
look modest. 

"I love it." 

"I knew he'd love it," put in Hyacinth. 
"It's just the sort of story that Coronel 
would love. Tell him about how you fought 
the King at the beginning of the war, and how 
you pretended to be a swineherd, and how ' 

Could any father have resisted? In a little 
while Hyacinth and Coronel were seated 

322 



STORY WHEN HE HEARS IT 

eagerly at his feet, and lie was telling once 
more the great story of his adventures. 

"Well, well," said the King at the end of it, 
when he had received their tribute of admira- 
tion. 'Those are just a few of the little ad- 
ventures that happen in war time . ' : He turned 
to Coronel. "And so you, I understand, wish 
to marry my daughter?' 

'Does that surprise your Majesty?' 

'Well, no, it doesn't. And she, I under- 
stand, wishes to marry you." 

: Yes, please, Father.' 1 

'That," said Coronel simply, "is much 
more surprising." 

Merriwig, however, was not so sure of that. 
He liked the look of Coronel, he liked his 
manner, and he saw at once that he knew a 
good story when he heard one. 

'Of course," he said, 'you'll have to win 
her." 

'Anything your Majesty sets me to do. 
It's as well," he added with a disarming smile, 

323 



CORONEL KNOWS A GOOD 

'that you cannot ask for the whiskers of the 
King of Barodia. There is only one man who 
could have got those.' 1 

Truly an excellent young man. 

" Well, we'll arrange something," said Merri- 
wig, looking pleased. 'Perhaps your Prince 
Udo would care to be a competitor too.' : 

Hyacinth and Coronel interchanged a smile. 

"Alas, Father," she said, "his Royal High- 
ness is not attracted by my poor charms.' 1 

"Wait till he has seen them, my dear," 
said Merriwig with a chuckle. 

'He has seen them, Father/ 1 

"What? You invited him here? Tell 
me about this, Hyacinth. He came to stay 
with you and he never 

'His Royal Highness," put in Coronel, 
; 'has given his affections to another.'' 

'Aha! So that's the secret. Now I wonder 
if I can guess who she is. Wliat do you say 
to the Princess Elvira of Tregong? I know his 
father had hopes in that direction." 

324 



STORY WHEN HE HEARS IT 

Hyacinth looked round at Coronel as if 
appealing for his support. He took a step 
towards her. 

"No, it's not the Princess Elvira," said 
Hyacinth, a little nervously. 

The King laughed good-humouredly. 

"Ah, well, you must tell me," he said. 

Hyacinth put out her hand, and Coronel 
pressed it encouragingly. 

"His Royal Highness Prince Udo," she 
said, "is marrying the Countess Bel vane." 



325 




CHAPTER XXI 

A SERPENT COMING AFTER UDO 

BELVANE had now had twenty-four 
hours in which to think it over. 

Whatever her faults, she had a 
sense of humour. She could not help smil- 
ing to herself as she thought of that scene 
in the garden. However much she regretted 
her too hasty engagement, she was sure Udo 
regretted it still more. If she gave him the 
least opportunity he would draw back from it. 

Then why not give him the opportunity? 

327 



A SERPENT COMING 

'My dear Prince Udo, I'm afraid I mistook 
the nature of my feelings" said, of course, 
with downcast head and a maidenly blush. 
Exit Udo with haste, enter King Merriwig. 
It would be so easy. 

Ah, but then Hyacinth would have won. 
Hyacinth had forced the engagement upon 
her; even if it only lasted for twenty -four 
hours, so long as it was a forced engagement, 
Hyacinth would have had the better of her 
for that time. But if she welcomed the en- 
gagement, if she managed in some way to turn 
it to account, to make it appear as if she had 
wanted it all the time, then Hyacinth's victory 
would be no victory at all, but a defeat. 

Marry Udo, then, as if willingly? Yes, 
but that was too high a price to pay. She 
was by this time thoroughly weary of him 
and besides, she had every intention of 
marrying the King of Euralia. To pretend 
to marry him until she brought the King in 
open conflict with him, and then having led 

328 



AFTER UDO 

the King to her feet to dismiss the rival who 
had served her turn that was her only wise 
course. 

She did not come to this conclusion without 
much thought. She composed an Ode to 
Despair, an Elegy to an Unhappy Woman, 
and a Triolet to Interfering Dukes, before 
her mind was made up. She also considered 
very seriously what she would look like in a 
little cottage in the middle of the forest, 
dressed in a melancholy grey and holding 
communion only with the birds and trees; 
a life of retirement away from the vain world ; 
a life into which no man came. It had its 
attractions, but she decided that grey did not 
suit her. 

She went down to her garden and sent for 
Prince Udo. At about the moment when the 
King was having the terrible news broken to 
him, Udo was protesting over the sundial that 
he loved Belvane and Belvane only, and that 
he was looking forward eagerly to the day 

329 



66 
66 



A SERPENT COMING 

when she would make him the happiest of men. 
So afraid was he of what might happen to him 
on the way back to Araby. 

The Countess Belvane!' cried Merriwig. 
Prince Udo marry the Countess Belvane! 
I never heard of such a thing in my life.' : He 
glared at them one after the other as if it were 
their fault as indeed it was. 'Why didn't 
you tell me this before, Hyacinth?' 

'It has only just been announced, Father." 

"Who announced it?' 

They looked across at each other. 

"Well er Udo did," said Coronel. 

"I never heard of anything so ridiculous in 
my life ! I won't have it ! ' 

'But, Father, don't you think she'd make 
a very good Queen ? ' 

' She'd make a wonderful that has nothing 
to do with it. What I feel so strongly about 
it is this. For month after month I am fight- 
ing in a strange country. After extraordinary 
scenes of violence and peril I come back 

330 



AFTER UDO 

to my own home to enjoy the er fruits of 
victory. No sooner do I get inside my door 
than I have all this thrust upon me." 

"All what, Father?' said Hyacinth in- 
nocently. 

'All this" said the King, with a circular 
movement of the hand. 'It's too bad; upon 
my word it is. I won't have it. Now mind, 
Hyacinth, I won't have it. 

"But, Father, how can I help it?' 
Merriwig paid no attention to her. 
'I come home," he went on indignantly, 
"fresh from the er spoils of victory to what 
I thought was my own peaceful er home. 
And what do I find? Somebody here wants 
to marry somebody there, and somebody else 
over there wants to marry somebody else 
over here; it's impossible to mention any per- 
son's name, in even the most casual way, 
without being told they are going to get 
married, or some nonsense of that sort. I'm 
very much upset about it." 

331 



A SERPENT COMING 

"Oh, Father!' said Hyacinth penitently. 
"Won't you see the Countess yourself and 
talk to her?" 

"To think that for weeks I have been look- 
ing forward to my return home and that now 
I should be met with this ! It has quite spoilt 
my day." 

"Father!" cried Hyacinth, coming towards 
him with outstretched hands. 

"Let me send for her ladyship," began 
Coronel; "perhaps she ' 

"No, no," said Merriwig, waving them 
away. "I am very much displeased with 
you both. What I have to do, I can do quite 
well by myself.' 1 

He strode out and slammed the door 
behind him. 

Hyacinth and Coronel looked at each other 
blankly. 

"My dear," said Coronel, "y u never told 
me he was as fond of her as that.' 1 

"But I had no idea! Coronel, what can 

332 



AFTER UDO 

we do about it? Oh, I want him to marry 
her now. He's quite right she'll make a 
wonderful Queen. Oh, my dear, I feel I want 
everybody to be as happy as we're going 
to be." 

"They can't be that, but we'll do our best 
for them. I can manage Udo all right. I 
only have to say 'rabbits' to him, and he'll 
do anything for me. Hyacinth, I don't be- 
lieve I've ever kissed you in this room yet, 
have I? Let's begin now." 

Merriwig came upon the other pair of 
lovers in Bel vane's garden. They were shar- 
ing a seat there, and Udo was assuring the 
Countess that he was her own little Udo- 
Wudo, and that they must never be away 
from each other again. The King put his 
hand in front of his eyes for a moment as if 
he could hardly bear it. 

"Why, it's his Majesty," said Belvane, 
jumping up. She gave him a deep curtsey 
and threw in a bewitching smile on the top 

333 



A SERPENT COMING 

of it; formality or friendliness, he could take 
his choice. "Prince Udo of Araby, your Ma- 
jesty.' 1 She looked shyly at him and added, 
"Perhaps you have heard." 

"I have,'" said the King gloomily. "How 
do you do," he added in a melancholy voice. 

Udo declared that he was in excellent health 
at present, and would have gone into partic- 
ulars about it had not the King interrupted. 

"Well, Countess," he said, "this is strange 
news to come back to. Shall I disturb you 
if I sit down with you for a little?' 

"Oh, your Majesty, you would honour us. 
Udo, dear, have you seen the heronry lately?' 

"Yes," said Udo. 

"It looks so sweet just about this time of 
the afternoon.' 1 

"It does, "said Udo. 

Belvane gave a little shrug and turned to 
the King. 

"I'm so longing to hear all your adven- 
tures," she murmured confidingly. 'I got 

334 



AFTER UDO 

all your messages; it was so good of you to 
remember me.' : 

'Ah," said Merriwig reproachfully, "and 
what do I find when I come back? I 

find " He broke off, and indicated in 

pantomime with his eyebrows that he could 
explain better what he had found if Udo were 
absent. 

'Udo, dear," said Belvane, turning to him, 
; 'have you seen the kennels lately?' 
; Yes," said Udo. 

They look rather sweet just about this 
time," said Merriwig. 
"Don't they? "said Udo. 
'But I am so longing to hear," said Bel- 
vane, 'how your Majesty defeated the King 
of Barodia. Was it your Majesty's wonder- 
ful spell which overcame the enemy?' 
: You remember that?' 
'Remember it? Oh, your Majesty! 'Bo 

boll Udo, dear, wouldn't you like to see 

the armoury?' 

335 



A SERPENT COMING 

"No," said Udo. 

'There are a lot of new things in it that I 
brought back from Barodia," said Merriwig 
hopefully. 

'A lot of new things," explained Belvane. 

"I'll see them later on," said Udo. 'I 
dare say they'd look better in the evening.' 1 

"Then you shall show me, your Majesty," 
said Belvane. 'Udo, dear, you can wait for 
me here.' : 

The two of them moved off down the path 
together (Udo taken by surprise) , and as soon 
as they were out of sight, tiptoed across the 
lawn to another garden seat, Belvane leading 
the way with her finger to her lips, and Merri- 
wig following with an exaggerated caution 
which even Henry Smallnose would have 
thought overdone. 

"He is a little slow, isn't he, that young 
man?' said the King, as they sat down to- 
gether. "I mean he didn't seem to under- 
stand " 

336 



AFTER UDO 

"He's such a devoted lover, your Majesty. 
He can't bear to be out of my sight for a 
moment.' 3 

"Oh, Belvane, this is a sad homecoming. 
For month after month I have been fighting 
and toiling, and planning and plotting and 
then- Oh, Belvane, we were all so happy 

together before the war." 

Belvane remembered that once she and the 
Princess and Wiggs had been so happy to- 
gether, and that Udo's arrival had threatened 
to upset it all. One way and another, Udo 
had been a disturbing element in Euralia. 
But it would not do to let him go just yet. 

'Aren't we still happy together?" she asked 
innocently. There's her Royal Highness 
with her young Duke, and I have my dear 
Udo, and your Majesty has the the Lord 
Chancellor and all your Majesty's faithful 
subjects.' 1 

His Majesty gave a deep sigh. 

'I am a very lonely man, Belvane. When 

337 




Belvane leading the way 
with her finger to her lips 




Merriwig following with 
an exaggerated caution 



A SERPENT COMING 

Hyacinth leaves me I shall have nobody left." 

Belvane decided to risk it. 
'Your Majesty should marry again," she 
said gently. 

He looked unutterable things at her. He 
opened his mouth with the intention of doing 

his best to utter some of them, when 

'Not before Udo," said Belvane softly. 

Merriwig got up indignantly and scowled 
at the Prince as the latter hurried over the 
lawn towards them. 

"Well, really/ 3 said Merriwig, "I never 

knew such a place. One simply can't 

Ah, your Royal Highness, have you seen our 
armoury? I should say," he corrected him- 
self as he caught Bel vane's reproachful 
look, "have we seen our armoury? We have. 
Her ladyship was much interested." 

"I have no doubt, your Majesty." He 
turned to Belvane. : You will be interested 
in our armoury at home, dear." 

She gave a quick glance at the King to see 

338 



AFTER UDO 

that he was looking, and then patted Udo's 
hand tenderly. 

"Home," she said lovingly, 'how sweet 
it sounds ! ' 

The King shivered as if in pain, and strode 
quickly from them. 

** 

"Your Majesty sent for me," said Coronel. 

The King stopped his pacings and looked 
round as Coronel came into the library. 

"Ah, yes, yes," he said quickly. "Now sit 
down there and make yourself comfortable. I 
want to talk to you about this marriage." 

"Which one, your Majesty?' 
'Which one? W r hy, of course, yours 

that is to say, Bel vane's or rather 

He came to a stop in front of Coronel and 
looked at him earnestly. 'Well, in a way, 
both." 

Coronel nodded. 

: You want to marry my daughter," Mem- 
wig went on. 'Now it is customary, as you 

339 



A SERPENT COMING 

know, that to the person to whom I give my 
daughter, I give also half my kingdom. 
Naturally before I make this sacrifice I wish 
to be sure that the man to whom well, of 
course, you understand.' 1 

"That he is worthy of the Princess 
Hyacinth," said Coronel. "Of course he 
couldn't be," he added with a smile. 

"And worthy of half the kingdom," 
amended Merriwig. "That he should prove 
himself this is also, I think, customary." 

" Anything that your Majesty suggests " 

"I am sure of it." 

He drew up a chair next to Coronel's, and 
sitting down in it, placed his hand upon his 
knees and explained the nature of the trial 
which was awaiting the successful suitor. 

"In the ordinary way," he began, 'I 
should arrange something for you with a 
dragon or what-not in it. The knowledge 
that some such ordeal lies before him often 
enables a suitor to discover, before it is too 

340 



AFTER UDO 

late, that what he thought was true love is not 
really the genuine emotion. In your case 
I feel that an ordeal of this sort is not 
necessary.' 1 

Coronel inclined his head gracefully. 

"I do not doubt your valour, and from 
you therefore I ask proof of your cunning. 
In these days cunning is perhaps the quality 
of all others demanded of a ruler. We had 
an excellent example of that," he went on 
carelessly, "in the war with Barodia that is 
just over, where the whole conflict was settled 
by a little idea which- 

"A very wonderful idea, your Majesty.' 1 

"Well, well," said Merriwig, looking very 
pleased. "It just happened to come off, 
that's all. But that is what I mean w^hen 
I say that cunning may be of even more im- 
portance than valour. In order to win the 
hand of my daughter and half my kingdom, 
it will be necessary for you to show a cunning 
almost more than human." 

341 



A SERPENT COMING 

He paused, and Coronel did his best in the 
interval to summon up a look of super- 
human guile into his very frank and pleasant 
countenance. 

"You will prove yourself worthy of what 
you ask me for," said Merriwig solemnly, 
'by persuading Prince Udo to return to 
Araby alone. >: 

Coronel gasped. The thing was so easy 
that it seemed almost a shame to accept it as 
the condition of his marriage. To persuade 
Udo to do what he was only longing to do, 
did not call for superhuman qualities of any 
kind. For a moment he had an impulse to 
tell the King so, but he suppressed it. "After 
all," he thought, "if the King wants cunning, 
and if I make a great business of doing some- 
thing absurdly easy, then he is getting it." 

Merriwig, simple man, mistook his emo- 
tions. 

'I see," he said, 'that you are appalled 
by the difficulty of the ordeal in front of you. 

342 



AFTER UDO 

You may well be so. You have known his 
Royal Highness longer than I have, but even 
in our short acquaintance I have discovered 
that he takes a hint with extraordinary slow- 
ness. To bring it home to him with the right 
mixture of tact and insistence that Araby needs 
his immediate presence alone may w r ell tax 
the most serpentine of minds. ' : 

'I can but try it," said the serpentine one 
simply. 

The King jumped up and shook him 
warmly by the hand. 

You think you can do it?' he said 
excitedly. 

'If Prince Udo does not start back to 
Araby to-morrow 

'Alone," said Merriwig. 

'Alone then I shall have failed in my 
task." 



'My dear," said the King to his daughter 
as she kissed him good-night that evening, 

343 



A SERPENT COMING AFTER UDO 

I believe you are going to marry a very wise 



young man. 

'Of course I am, Father.' 1 

66 



I only hope you'll be as happy with him 
as I shall be with as I was with your mother. 
Though how he's going to bring it off," he 
added to himself, "is more than I can think." 



344 




CHAPTER XXII 



THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES GO BACK AGAIN 

KING MERRIWIG of Eastern Euralia 
sat at breakfast on his castle walls. 
He lifted the gold cover from the 
gold dish in front of him, selected a trout, and 
conveyed it carefully to his gold plate. When 

you have an aunt But I need not say 

that again. 

King Coronel of Western Euralia sat at 

345 



THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES 

breakfast on his castle walls. He lifted the 
gold cover from the gold dish in front of him, 
selected a trout, and conveyed it carefully to 
his gold plate. When your wife's father has 
an aunt 

Prince Udo of Araby sat at breakfast 

But one must draw the line somewhere. I 
refuse to follow Udo through any more meals. 
Indeed, I think there has been quite enough 
eating and drinking in this book already. 
Quite enough of everything in fact; but the 
time has nearly come to say good-bye. 

Let us speed the Prince of Araby first. 
His departure from Euralia was sudden; five 
minutes' conversation with Coronel convinced 
him that there had been a mistake about 
Belvane's feelings for him, and that he could 
leave for Araby in perfect safety. 

: You must come and see us again," said 
Merriwig heartily, as he shook him by the 
hand. 

: Yes, do," said Hyacinth. 

346 



GO BACK AGAIN 

There are two ways of saying this sort of 
thing, and theirs was the second way. So 
was Udo's, when he answered that he would be 
delighted. 

It was just a week later that the famous 
double wedding was celebrated in Euralia. 
As an occasion for speech-making by King 
Merriwig and largesse-throwing by Queen 
Belvane it demanded (and got) a whole chap- 
ter to itself in Roger's History. I have Roger 
on my side at last. The virtues he denied to 
the Countess he cannot but allow to the 
Queen. 

Nor could Hyacinth resist her any longer. 
Belvane upon her palfrey, laughter in her 
eyes and roses in her cheeks, her lips slightly 
parted with eagerness as she flings her silver 
to the crowd, adorably conscious of her child- 
ishness and yet glorying in it, could have no 
enemies on that day. 

'She is a dear," said Hyacinth to Coronel. 
"She will make a wonderful Queen." 

347 



THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES 

'I know a Queen worth two of her,' 3 said 
Coronel. 

'But you do admire her, don't you?' 

"Not particularly." 

'Oh, Coronel, you must,' 2 said Hyacinth, 
but she felt very happy all the same. 

They rode off the next day to their kingdom. 
The Chancellor had had an exciting week; 
for seven successive evenings he had been 
extremely mysterious and reserved to his 
wife, but now his business was finished and 
King Merriwig reigned over Eastern Euralia 
and King Coronel over the West. 

Let us just take a look at Belvane's 
diary before we move on to the last 
scene. 

"Thursday, September 15th," it says. 
"Became good. 9 ' 

Now for the last scene. 

King Merriwig sat in Belvane's garden. 
They had spent the morning revising their 
joint book of poetry for publication. The 

348 



GO BACK AGAIN 

first set of verses was entirely Merriwig's 
own. It went like this : 

Bo, boll, bill, bole. 
Wo, woll, will, wole. 

A note by the authors called attention to 
the fact that it could be begun from either 
end. The rest of the poems were mainly by 
Belvane, Merriwig's share in them consisting 
of a "Capital," or an "I like that," when they 
were read out to him; but an epic commonly 
attributed to Charlotte Patacake had crept 
in somehow. 

"A person to see your Majesty," said a 
flunkey, appearing suddenly. 

"What sort of person?" asked Merriwig. 

"A sort of person, your Majesty.' 1 

"See him here, dear," said Belvane, as 
she got up. "I have things to do in the 
Palace." 

She left him; and by and by the flunkey 
returned with the stranger. He was a 

349 



THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES 

pleasant-looking person with a round clean- 
shaven face; something in the agricultural 
way, to judge from his clothes. 
"Well?" said Merriwig. 

'I desire to be your Majesty's swineherd," 
said the other. 

'What do you know of swineherding?' 

'I have a sort of natural aptitude for it, 
your Majesty, although I have never actually 
been one.' : 

'My own case exactly. Now then, let 

me see how would you " 

The stranger took out a large red hand- 
kerchief and wiped his forehead. 

: You propose to ask me a few questions, 
your Majesty?' 

"Well, naturally, I " 

'Let me beg of you not to. By all you hold 
sacred let me implore you not to confuse me 
with questions.' 3 He drew himself up and 
thumped his chest with his fist. "I have a 
feeling for swineherding; it is enough." 

350 



GO BACK AGAIN 

Merriwig began to like the man; it was 
just how he felt about the thing himself. 

'I once carried on a long technical con- 
versation with a swineherd," he said remi- 
niscently, 'and we found we had much in 
common. It is an inspiring life." 

' It was in just that way," said the stranger, 
'that I discovered my own natural bent 
towards it." 

'How very odd! Do you know, there's 
something about your face that I seem to 
recognise ? ' 

The stranger decided to be frank. 
'I owe this face to you," he said simply. 
Merriwig looked startled. 
'In short," said the other, 'I am the late 
King of Barodia." 

Merriwig gripped his hand. 

"My dear fellow," he said. "My very 

dear fellow, of course you are. Dear me, how 

it brings it all back. And may I say 

what an improvement. Really, I'm delighted 

351 



DD 

nn 
no 
DD 
nn 

BE 





He was a pleasant-looking person, 
with a round clean-shaven face 



THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES 

to see you. You must tell me all about it. 
But first some refreshment." 

At the word "refreshment' the late King 
of Barodia broke down altogether, and it was 
only Merri wig's hummings and hawings and 
thumpings on the back and (later on) the 
refreshment itself which kept him from burst- 
ing into tears. 

"My dear friend," he said, as he wiped 
his mouth for the last time, "you have 
saved me." 

"But what does it all mean?' asked 
Merriwig, in bewilderment. 
'Listen, and I will tell you," 

He told him of the great resolution to 
which he had come on that famous morning 
when he awoke to find himself whiskerless. 
Barodia had no more use for him now as 
a King, and he on his side was eager to carve 
out for himself a new life as a swineherd. 
'I had a natural gift," he said plaintively, 

an instinctive feeling for it. I know I 

352 







GO BACK AGAIN 

had. Whatever they said about it afterwards 
and they said many hard things I was 
certain that I had that feeling. I had proved 
it, you know; there couldn't be any mistake." 

"Well?" 

"Ah, but they laughed at me. They asked 
me confusing questions; niggling little ques- 
tions about the things swine ate and and 
things like that. The great general principles 
of swineherding, the what I may call the art 
of herding swine, the whole theory of shep- 
herding pigs in a broad-minded way, all this 
they ignored. They laughed at me and 
turned me out with jeers and blows to 
starve/' 

Merriwig patted him sympathetically, and 
pressed some more food on him. 

"I ranged over the whole of Barodia. 
Nobody would take me in. It is a terrible 
thing, my dear Merriwig, to begin to lose 
faith in yourself. I had to tell myself at last 
that perhaps there was something about 

353 



THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES 

Barodian swine which made them different 
from those of any other country. As a last 
hope I came to Euralia; if here too I was 
spurned, then I should know that " 

"Just a moment," said Merriwig, breaking 
in eagerly. "Who was this swineherd that 
you talked to : 

"I talked to so many," said the other sadly. 
"They all scoffed at me." 

"No, but the first one; the one that showed 
you that you had a bent towards it. Didn't 
you say that 

"Oh, that one. That was at the beginning 
of our war. Do you remember telling me 
that your swineherd had an invisible cloak? 
It was he that ' 

Merriwig looked at him sadly and shook 
his head. 

"My poor friend," he said, "it was me.' : 

They gazed at each other earnestly. Each 
of them was going over in his mind the exact 
details of that famous meeting. 

354 



GO BACK AGAIN 

Yes," they murmured together, "it 



was us.' 



The King of Barodia's mind raced on 
through all the bitter months that had fol- 
lowed ; he shivered as he thought of the things 
he had said; the things that had been said to 
him seemed of small account now. 

' Not even a swineherd ! " he remarked. 

'Come, come," said Merriwig, 'look on 
the bright side; you can always be a King 
again." 

The late King of Barodia shook his head. 

'It's a come-down to a man with any 
pride," he said. "No, I'll stick to my own 
job. After all, I've been learning these last 
weeks; at any rate I know that what I do 
know isn't worth knowing, and that's some- 
thing." , r .:,-';; [, ,. .--, - 

Then stay with me," said Merriwig 
heartily. "My swineherd will teach you 
your work, and when he retires you can take 
it on." 

355 



THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES 



'Do you mean it?' 

'Of course I do. I shall be glad to have 
you about the place. In the evening, when 
the pigs are asleep, you can come in and have 
a chat with us." 

"Bless you," said the new apprentice; 
'bless you, your Majesty." 
They shook hands on it. 

'My dear," said Merriwig to Bel vane 
that evening, "you haven't married a very 
clever fellow. I discovered this afternoon 
that I'm not even as clever as I thought I 



was.' 



: You don't want cleverness in a King," 
said Bel vane, smiling lovingly at him, 'or in 
a husband." 

"What do you want then?' 

"Just dearness," said Bel vane. 



And now my story is done. With a sigh 
I unload the seventeen volumes of Euralian 
History from my desk, carrying them one by 



356 



GO BACK AGAIN 

one across the library and placing them care- 
fully in the shelf which has been built for them. 
For some months they have stood a rampart 
between me and the world, behind which I 
have lived in far-off days with Merriwig and 
Hyacinth and my Lady Belvane. The ram- 
part is gone, and in the bright light of to-day 
which streams on to my desk the vision 
slowly fades. Once on a time . . 

Yet I see one figure clearly still. He is tall 
and thin, with a white peaked face of which 
the long inquisitive nose is the outstanding 
feature. His hair is lank and uncared for; 
his russet smock, tied in at the waist, wants 
brushing; his untidy cross -gartered hose shows 
up the meagreness of his legs. No knightly 
figure this, yet I look upon him very tenderly. 
For it is Roger Scurvilegs on his way to the 
Palace for news. 

To Roger too I must say good-bye. I say 
it not without remorse, for I feel that I have 
been hard upon the man to whom I owe so 

357 



THE SEVENTEEN VOLUMES 

much. Perhaps it will not be altogether 
good-bye; in his seventeen volumes there are 
many other tales to be found. Next time (if 
there be a next time) I owe it to Roger to 
stand aside and let him tell the story more in 
his own way. I think he would like that. 

But it shall not be a story about Bel vane. 
I saw Belvane (or some one like her) at a 
country house in Shropshire last summer, and 
I know that Roger can never do her justice. 




Roger 
Scurvilegs 



358 



CENTRAL CIRCULATION 

CHILDREN'S ROOM 





: