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Chapter 12 Zella Saves the Prince

  • The wicked Queen of Coregos was in a very bad humor this morning, for one o_er slave drivers had come from the fields to say that a number of slaves ha_ebelled and would not work.
  • "Bring them here to me!" she cried savagely. "A good whipping may make the_hange their minds."
  • So the slave driver went to fetch the rebellious ones and Queen Cor sat dow_o eat her breakfast, an ugly look on her face.
  • Prince Inga had been ordered to stand behind his new mistress with a big fa_f peacock's feathers, but he was so unused to such service that he awkwardl_rushed her ear with the fan. At once she flew into a terrible rage an_lapped the Prince twice with her hand-blows that tingled, too, for her han_as big and hard and she was not inclined to be gentle. Inga took the blow_ithout shrinking or uttering a cry, although they stung his pride far mor_han his body. But King Rinkitink, who was acting as the queen's butler an_ad just brought in her coffee, was so startled at seeing the young Princ_unished that he tipped over the urn and the hot coffee streamed across th_ap of the Queen's best morning gown.
  • Cor sprang from her seat with a scream of anger and poor Rinkitink woul_oubtless have been given a terrible beating had not the slave driver returne_t this moment and attracted the woman's attention. The overseer had brough_ith him all of the women slaves from Pingaree, who had been loaded down wit_hains and were so weak and ill they could scarcely walk, much less work i_he fields.
  • Prince Inga's eyes were dimmed with sorrowful tears when he discovered how hi_oor people had been abused, but his own plight was so helpless that he wa_nable to aid them. Fortunately the boy's mother, Queen Garee, was not amon_hese slaves, for Queen Cor had placed her in the royal dairy to make butter.
  • "Why do you refuse to work?" demanded Cor in a harsh voice, as the slaves fro_ingaree stood before her, trembling and with downcast eyes.
  • "Because we lack strength to perform the tasks your overseers demand,"
  • answered one of the women.
  • "Then you shall be whipped until your strength returns!" exclaimed the Queen, and turning to Inga, she commanded: "Get me the whip with the seven lashes."
  • As the boy left the room, wondering how he might manage to save the unhapp_omen from their undeserved punishment, he met a girl entering by the bac_ay, who asked:
  • "Can you tell me where to find Her Majesty, Queen Cor?"
  • "She is in the chamber with the red dome, where green dragons are painted upo_he walls," replied Inga; "but she is in an angry and ungracious mood to-day.
  • Why do you wish to see her?"
  • "I have honey to sell," answered the girl, who was Zella, just come from th_orest. "The Queen is very fond of my honey."
  • "You may go to her, if you so desire," said the boy, "but take care not t_nger the cruel Queen, or she may do you a mischief."
  • "Why should she harm me, who brings her the honey she so dearly loves?"
  • inquired the child innocently. "But I thank you for your warning; and I wil_ry not to anger the Queen."
  • As Zella started to go, Inga's eyes suddenly fell upon her shoes and instantl_e recognized them as his own. For only in Pingaree were shoes shaped in thi_anner: high at the heel and pointed at the toes.
  • "Stop!" he cried in an excited voice, and the girl obeyed, wonderingly. "Tel_e," he continued, more gently, "where did you get those shoes?"
  • "My father brought them to me from Regos," she answered.
  • "From Regos!"
  • "Yes. Are they not pretty?" asked Zella, looking down at her feet to admir_hem. "One of them my father found by the palace wall, and the other on a_sh-heap. So he brought them to me and they fit me perfectly."
  • By this time Inga was trembling with eager joy, which of course the girl coul_ot understand.
  • "What is your name, little maid?" he asked.
  • "I am called Zella, and my father is Nikobob, the charcoal-burner."
  • "Zella is a pretty name. I am Inga, Prince of Pingaree," said he, "and th_hoes you are now wearing, Zella, belong to me. They were not cast away, a_our father supposed, but were lost. Will you let me have them again?"
  • Zella's eyes filled with tears.
  • "Must I give up my pretty shoes, then?" she asked. "They are the only ones _ave ever owned."
  • Inga was sorry for the poor child, but he knew how important it was that h_egain possession of the Magic Pearls. So he said, pleadingly:
  • "Please let me have them, Zella. See! I will exchange for them the shoes I no_ave on, which are newer and prettier than the others."
  • The girl hesitated. She wanted to please the boy Prince, yet she hated t_xchange the shoes which her father had brought her as a present.
  • "If you will give me the shoes," continued the boy, anxiously, "I will promis_o make you and your father and mother rich and prosperous. Indeed, I wil_romise to grant any favors you may ask of me," and he sat down upon the floo_nd drew off the shoes he was wearing and held them toward the girl.
  • "I'll see if they will fit me," said Zella, taking off her left shoe — the on_hat contained the Pink Pearl — and beginning to put on one of Inga's.
  • Just then Queen Cor, angry at being made to wait for her whip with the seve_ashes, rushed into the room to find Inga. Seeing the boy sitting upon th_loor beside Zella, the woman sprang toward him to beat him with her clenche_ists; but Inga had now slipped on the shoe and the Queen's blows could no_each his body.
  • Then Cor espied the whip lying beside Inga and snatching it up she tried t_ash him with it — all to no avail.
  • While Zella sat horrified by this scene, the Prince, who realized he had n_ime to waste, reached out and pulled the right shoe from the girl's foot, quickly placing it upon his own. Then he stood up and, facing the furious bu_stonished Queen, said to her in a quiet voice:
  • "Madam, please give me that whip."
  • "I won't!" answered Cor. "I'm going to lash those Pingaree women with it."
  • The boy seized hold of the whip and with irresistible strength drew it fro_he Queen's hand. But she drew from her bosom a sharp dagger and with th_wiftness of lightning aimed a blow at Inga's heart. He merely stood still an_miled, for the blade rebounded and fell clattering to the floor.
  • Then, at last, Queen Cor understood the magic power that had terrified he_usband but which she had ridiculed in her ignorance, not believing in it. Sh_id not know that Inga's power had been lost, and found again, but sh_ealized the boy was no common foe and that unless she could still manage t_utwit him her reign in the Island of Coregos was ended. To gain time, sh_ent back to the red-domed chamber and seated herself in her throne, befor_hich were grouped the weeping slaves from Pingaree.
  • Inga had taken Zella's hand and assisted her to put on the shoes he had give_er in exchange for his own. She found them quite comfortable and did not kno_he had lost anything by the transfer.
  • "Come with me," then said the boy Prince, and led her into the presence o_ueen Cor, who was giving Rinkitink a scolding. To the overseer Inga said.
  • "Give me the keys which unlock these chains, that I may set these poor wome_t liberty."
  • "Don't you do it!" screamed Queen Cor.
  • "If you interfere, madam," said the boy, "I will put you into a dungeon."
  • By this Rinkitink knew that Inga had recovered his Magic Pearls and the littl_at King was so overjoyed that he danced and capered all around the room. Bu_he Queen was alarmed at the threat and the slave driver, fearing th_onqueror of Regos, tremblingly gave up the keys.
  • Inga quickly removed all the shackles from the women of his country an_omforted them, telling them they should work no more but would soon b_estored to their homes in Pingaree. Then he commanded the slave driver to g_nd get all the children who had been made slaves, and to bring them to thei_others. The man obeyed and left at once to perform his errand, while Quee_or, growing more and more uneasy, suddenly sprang from her throne and befor_nga could stop her had rushed through the room and out into the courtyard o_he palace, meaning to make her escape. Rinkitink followed her, running a_ast as he could go.
  • It was at this moment that Bilbil, in his mad dash from Regos, turned in a_he gates of the courtyard, and as he was coming one way and Queen Cor wa_oing the other they bumped into each other with great force. The woman saile_hrough the air, over Bilbil's head, and landed on the ground outside th_ates, where her crown rolled into a ditch and she picked herself up, hal_azed, and continued her flight. Bilbil was also somewhat dazed by th_nexpected encounter, but he continued his rush rather blindly and so struc_oor Rinkitink, who was chasing after Queen Cor. They rolled over one anothe_ few times and then Rinkitink sat up and Bilbil sat up and they looked a_ach other in amazement.
  • "Bilbil," said the King, "I'm astonished at you!"
  • "Your Majesty," said Bilbil, "I expected kinder treatment at your hands."
  • "You interrupted me," said Rinkitink.
  • "There was plenty of room without your taking my path," declared the goat.
  • And then Inga came running out and said. "Where is the Queen?"
  • "Gone," replied Rinkitink, "but she cannot go far, as this is an island.
  • However, I have found Bilbil, and our party is again reunited. You hav_ecovered your magic powers, and again we are masters of the situation. So le_s be thankful."
  • Saying this, the good little King got upon his feet and limped back into th_hrone room to help comfort the women.
  • Presently the children of Pingaree, who had been gathered together by th_verseer, were brought in and restored to their mothers, and there was grea_ejoicing among them, you may be sure.
  • "But where is Queen Garee, my dear mother?" questioned Inga; but the women di_ot know and it was some time before the overseer remembered that one of th_laves from Pingaree had been placed in the royal dairy. Perhaps this was th_oman the boy was seeking.
  • Inga at once commanded him to lead the way to the butter house, but when the_rrived there Queen Garee was nowhere in the place, although the boy found _ilk scarf which he recognized as one that his mother used to wear. Then the_egan a search throughout the island of Coregos, but could not find Inga'_other anywhere.
  • When they returned to the palace of Queen Cor, Rinkitink discovered that th_ridge of boats had again been removed, separating them from Regos, and fro_his they suspected that Queen Cor had fled to her husband's island and ha_aken Queen Garee with her. Inga was much perplexed what to do and returne_ith his friends to the palace to talk the matter over.
  • Zella was now crying because she had not sold her honey and was unable t_eturn to her parents on the island of Regos, but the boy prince comforted he_nd promised she should be protected until she could be restored to her home.
  • Rinkitink found Queen Cor's purse, which she had had no time to take with her, and gave Zella several gold pieces for the honey. Then Inga ordered the palac_ervants to prepare a feast for all the women and children of Pingaree and t_repare for them beds in the great palace, which was large enough t_ccommodate them all.
  • Then the boy and the goat and Rinkitink and Zella went into a private room t_onsider what should be done next.