One morning, just as the royal party was finishing breakfast, a servant cam_unning to say that a great fleet of boats was approaching the island from th_outh. King Kitticut sprang up at once, in great alarm, for he had much caus_o fear strange boats. The others quickly followed him to the shore to se_hat invasion might be coming upon them.
Inga was there with the first, and Nikobob and Zella soon joined the watchers.
And presently, while all were gazing eagerly at the approaching fleet, Kin_inkitink suddenly cried out:
"Get your pearls, Prince Inga — get them quick!"
"Are these our enemies, then?" asked the boy, looking with surprise upon th_at little King, who had begun to tremble violently.
"They are my people of Gilgad!" answered Rinkitink, wiping a tear from hi_ye. "I recognize my royal standards flying from the boats. So, please, dea_nga, get out your pearls to protect me!"
"What can you fear at the hands of your own subjects?" asked Kitticut, astonished.
But before his frightened guest could answer the question Prince Bobo, who wa_tanding beside his friend, gave an amused laugh and said:
"You are caught at last, dear Rinkitink. Your people will take you home agai_nd oblige you to reign as King."
Rinkitink groaned aloud and clasped his hands together with a gesture o_espair, an attitude so comical that the others could scarcely forbea_aughing.
But now the boats were landing upon the beach. They were fifty in number, beautifully decorated and upholstered and rowed by men clad in the ga_niforms of the King of Gilgad. One splended boat had a throne of gold in th_enter, over which was draped the King's royal robe of purple velvet, embroidered with gold buttercups.
Rinkitink shuddered when he saw this throne; but now a tall man, handsomel_ressed, approached and knelt upon the grass before his King, while all th_ther occupants of the boats shouted joyfully and waved their plumed hats i_he air.
"Thanks to our good fortune," said the man who kneeled, "we have found You_ajesty at last!"
"Pinkerbloo," answered Rinkitink sternly, "I must have you hanged, for thu_inding me against my will."
"You think so now, Your Majesty, but you will never do it," returne_inkerbloo, rising and kissing the King's hand.
"Why won't I?" asked Rinkitink.
"Because you are much too tender-hearted, Your Majesty."
"It may be — it may be," agreed Rinkitink, sadly. "It is one of my greates_ailings. But what chance brought you here, my Lord Pinkerbloo?"
"We have searched for you everywhere, sire, and all the people of Gilgad hav_een in despair since you so mysteriously disappeared. We could not appoint _ew King, because we did not know but that you still lived; so we set out t_ind you, dead or alive. After visiting many islands of the Nonestic Ocean w_t last thought of Pingaree, from where come the precious pearls; and now ou_aithful quest has been rewarded."
"And what now?" asked Rinkitink.
"Now, Your Majesty, you must come home with us, like a good and dutiful King, and rule over your people," declared the man in a firm voice.
"I will not."
"But you must — begging Your Majesty's pardon for the contradiction."
"Kitticut," cried poor Rinkitink, "you must save me from being captured b_hese, my subjects. What! must I return to Gilgad and be forced to reign i_plendid state when I much prefer to eat and sleep and sing in my own quie_ay? They will make me sit in a throne three hours a day and listen to dry an_edious affairs of state; and I must stand up for hours at the cour_eceptions, till I get corns on my heels; and forever must I listen t_iresome speeches and endless petitions and complaints!"
"But someone must do this, Your Majesty," said Pinkerbloo respectfully, "an_ince you were born to be our King you cannot escape your duty."
"'Tis a horrid fate!" moaned Rinkitink. "I would die willingly, rather than b_ King — if it did not hurt so terribly to die."
"You will find it much more comfortable to reign than to die, although I full_ppreciate Your Majesty's difficult position and am truly sorry for you," sai_inkerbloo.
King Kitticut had listened to this conversation thoughtfully, so now he sai_o his friend:
"The man is right, dear Rinkitink. It is your duty to reign, since fate ha_ade you a King, and I see no honorable escape for you. I shall grieve to los_our companionship, but I feel the separation cannot be avoided."
"Then," said he, turning to Lord Pinkerbloo, "in three days I will depart wit_ou for Gilgad; but during those three days I propose to feast and make merr_ith my good friend King Kitticut."
Then all the people of Gilgad shouted with delight and eagerly scramble_shore to take their part in the festival.
Those three days were long remembered in Pingaree, for never — before no_ince — has such feasting and jollity been known upon that island. Rinkitin_ade the most of his time and everyone laughed and sang with him by day and b_ight.
Then, at last, the hour of parting arrived and the King of Gilgad and Ruler o_he Dominion of Rinkitink was escorted by a grand procession to his boat an_eated upon his golden throne. The rowers of the fifty boats paused, wit_heir glittering oars pointed into the air like gigantic uplifted sabres, while the people of Pingaree — men, women and children — stood upon the shor_houting a royal farewell to the jolly King.
Then came a sudden hush, while Rinkitink stood up and, with a bow to thos_ssembled to witness his departure, sang the following song, which he had jus_omposed for the occasion.
"Farewell, dear Isle of Pingaree —
The fairest land in all the sea!
No living mortals, kings or churls,
Would scorn to wear thy precious pearls.
"King Kitticut, 'tis with regret
I'm forced to say farewell; and yet
Abroad no longer can I roam
When fifty boats would drag me home.
"Good-bye, my Prince of Pingaree;
A noble King some time you'll be
And long and wisely may you reign
And never face a foe again!"
They cheered him from the shore; they cheered him from the boats; and then al_he oars of the fifty boats swept downward with a single motion and dippe_heir blades into the purple-hued waters of the Nonestic Ocean.
As the boats shot swiftly over the ripples of the sea Rinkitink turned t_rince Bobo, who had decided not to desert his former master and his presen_riend, and asked anxiously:
"How did you like that song, Bilbil — I mean Bobo? Is it a masterpiece, do yo_hink?"
And Bobo replied with a smile:
"Like all your songs, dear Rinkitink, the sentiment far excels the poetry."