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Chapter 23 The Captive King

  • 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."
  • Rinkitink sighed.
  • "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."
  • THE END