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Chapter 10 Zella Goes to Coregos

  • The forest in which Nikobob lived with his wife and daughter stood between th_ountains and the City of Regos, and a well-beaten path wound among the trees,
  • leading from the city to the mines. This path was used by the King'_essengers, and captured prisoners were also sent by this way from Regos t_ork in the underground caverns.
  • Nikobob had built his cabin more than a mile away from this path, that h_ight not be molested by the wild and lawless soldiers of King Gos, but th_amily of the charcoal-burner was surrounded by many creatures scarcely les_angerous to encounter, and often in the night they could hear savage animal_rowling and prowling about the cabin. Because Nikobob minded his own busines_nd never hunted the wild creatures to injure them, the beasts had come t_egard him as one of the natural dwellers in the forest and did not molest hi_r his family. Still Zella and her mother seldom wandered far from home,
  • except on such errands as carrying honey to Coregos, and at these time_ikobob cautioned them to be very careful.
  • So when Zella set out on her journey to Queen Cor, with the two pails of hone_n her hands, she was undertaking a dangerous adventure and there was n_ertainty that she would return safely to her loving parents. But they wer_oor, and Queen Cor's money, which they expected to receive for the honey,
  • would enable them to purchase many things that were needed; so it was deeme_est that Zella should go. She was a brave little girl and poor people ar_ften obliged to take chances that rich ones are spared.
  • A passing woodchopper had brought news to Nikobob's cabin that Queen Cor ha_ade a prisoner of the conquering Prince of Pingaree and that Gos and hi_arriors were again back in their city of Regos; but these struggles an_onquests were matters which, however interesting, did not concern the poo_harcoal- burner or his family. They were more anxious over the report tha_he warriors had become more reckless than ever before, and delighted i_nnoying all the common people; so Zella was told to keep away from the beate_ath as much as possible, that she might not encounter any of the King'_oldiers.
  • "When it is necessary to choose between the warriors and the wild beasts,"
  • said Nikobob, "the beasts will be found the more merciful."
  • The little girl had put on her best attire for the journey and her mothe_hrew a blue silk shawl over her head and shoulders. Upon her feet were th_retty red shoes her father had brought her from Regos. Thus prepared, sh_issed her parents good-bye and started out with a light heart, carrying th_ails of honey in either hand.
  • It was necessary for Zella to cross the path that led from the mines to th_ity, but once on the other side she was not likely to meet with anyone, fo_he had resolved to cut through the forest and so reach the bridge of boat_ithout entering the City of Regos, where she might be interrupted. For a_our or two she found the walking easy enough, but then the forest, which i_his part was unknown to her, became badly tangled. The trees were thicker an_reeping vines intertwined between them. She had to turn this way and that t_et through at all, and finally she came to a place where a network of vine_nd branches effectually barred her farther progress.
  • Zella was dismayed, at first, when she encountered this obstacle, but settin_own her pails she made an endeavor to push the branches aside. At her touc_hey parted as if by magic, breaking asunder like dried twigs, and she foun_he could pass freely. At another place a great log had fallen across her way,
  • but the little girl lifted it easily and cast it aside, although six ordinar_en could scarcely have moved it.
  • The child was somewhat worried at this evidence of a strength she ha_eretofore been ignorant that she possessed. In order to satisfy herself tha_t was no delusion, she tested her new-found power in many ways, finding tha_othing was too big nor too heavy for her to lift. And, naturally enough, th_irl gained courage from these experiments and became confident that she coul_rotect herself in any emergency. When, presently, a wild boar ran toward her,
  • grunting horribly and threatening her with its great tusks, she did not clim_ tree to escape, as she had always done before on meeting such creatures, bu_tood still and faced the boar. When it had come quite close and Zella sa_hat it could not injure her — a fact that astonished both the beast and th_irl — she suddenly reached down and seizing it by one ear threw the grea_east far off amongst the trees, where it fell headlong to the earth, gruntin_ouder than ever with surprise and fear.
  • The girl laughed merrily at this incident and, picking up her pails, resume_er journey through the forest. It is not recorded whether the wild boar tol_is adventure to the other beasts or they had happened to witness his defeat,
  • but certain it is that Zella was not again molested. A brown bear watched he_ass without making any movement in her direction and a great puma — a beas_uch dreaded by all men — crept out of her path as she approached, an_isappeared among the trees.
  • Thus everything favored the girl's journey and she made such good speed tha_y noon she emerged from the forest's edge and found she was quite near to th_ridge of boats that led to Coregos. This she crossed safely and withou_eeting any of the rude warriors she so greatly feared, and five minutes late_he daughter of the charcoal-burner was seeking admittance at the back door o_ueen Cor's palace.