The fat King rode his goat through the streets of the conquered city and th_oy Prince walked proudly beside him, while all the people bent their head_umbly to their new masters, whom they were prepared to serve in the sam_anner they had King Gos.
Not a warrior remained in all Regos to oppose the triumphant three; the bridg_f boats had been destroyed; Inga and his companions were free from danger — for a time, at least.
The jolly little King appreciated this fact and rejoiced that he had escape_ll injury during the battle. How it had all happened he could not tell, no_ven guess, but he was content in being safe and free to take possession o_he enemy's city. So, as they passed through the lines of respectful civilian_n their way to the palace, the King tipped his crown back on his bald hea_nd folded his arms and sang in his best voice the following lines:
"Oh, here comes the army of King Rinkitink!
It isn't a big one, perhaps you may think,
But it scattered the warriors quicker than wink —
Rink-i-tink, tink-i-tink, tink!
Our Bilbil's a hero and so is his King;
Our foemen have vanished like birds on the wing;
I guess that as fighters we're quite the real thing —
Rink-i-tink, tink-i-tink, tink!"
"Why don't you give a little credit to Inga?" inquired the goat. "If _emember aright, he did a little of the conquering himself."
"So he did," responded the King, "and that's the reason I'm sounding our ow_raise, Bilbil. Those who do the least, often shout the loudest and so get th_ost glory. Inga did so much that there is danger of his becoming mor_mportant than we are, and so we'd best say nothing about him."
When they reached the palace, which was an immense building, furnishe_hroughout in regal splendor, Inga took formal possession and ordered th_ajordomo to show them the finest rooms the building contained. There wer_any pleasant apartments, but Rinkitink proposed to Inga that they share on_f the largest bedrooms together.
"For," said he, "we are not sure that old Gos will not return and try t_ecapture his city, and you must remember that I have no magic to protect me.
In any danger, were I alone, I might be easily killed or captured, while i_ou are by my side you can save me from injury."
The boy realized the wisdom of this plan, and selected a fine big bedroom o_he second floor of the palace, in which he ordered two golden beds placed an_repared for King Rinkitink and himself. Bilbil was given a suite of rooms o_he other side of the palace, where servants brought the goat fresh-cut gras_o eat and made him a soft bed to lie upon.
That evening the boy Prince and the fat King dined in great state in th_ofty-domed dining hall of the palace, where forty servants waited upon them.
The royal chef, anxious to win the favor of the conquerors of Regos, prepare_is finest and most savory dishes for them, which Rinkitink ate with muc_ppetite and found so delicious that he ordered the royal chef brought int_he banquet hall and presented him with a gilt button which the King cut fro_is own jacket.
"You are welcome to it," said he to the chef, "because I have eaten so muc_hat I cannot use that lower button at all."
Rinkitink was mightily pleased to live in a comfortable palace again and t_ine at a well spread table. His joy grew every moment, so that he came i_ime to be as merry and cheery as before Pingaree was despoiled. And, althoug_e had been much frightened during Inga's defiance of the army of King Gos, h_ow began to turn the matter into a joke.
"Why, my boy," said he, "you whipped the big black- bearded King exactly as i_e were a schoolboy, even though you used no warlike weapon at all upon him.
He was cowed through fear of your magic, and that reminds me to demand fro_ou an explanation. How did you do it, Inga? And where did the wonderful magi_ome from?"
Perhaps it would have been wise for the Prince to have explained about th_agic pearls, but at that moment he was not inclined to do so. Instead, h_eplied:
"Be patient, Your Majesty. The secret is not my own, so please do not ask m_o divulge it. Is it not enough, for the present, that the magic saved yo_rom death to-day?"
"Do not think me ungrateful," answered the King earnestly. "A million spear_ell on me from the wall, and several stones as big as mountains, yet none o_hem hurt me!"
"The stones were not as big as mountains, sire," said the Prince with a smile.
"They were, indeed, no larger than your head."
"Are you sure about that?" asked Rinkitink.
"Quite sure, Your Majesty."
"How deceptive those things are!" sighed the King. "This argument reminds m_f the story of Tom Tick, which my father used to tell."
"I have never heard that story," Inga answered.
"Well, as he told it, it ran like this:
"When Tom walked out, the sky to spy,
A naughty gnat flew in his eye;
But Tom knew not it was a gnat —
He thought, at first, it was a cat.
"And then, it felt so very big,
He thought it surely was a pig
Till, standing still to hear it grunt,
He cried: 'Why, it's an elephunt!'
"But — when the gnat flew out again
And Tom was free from all his pain,
He said: 'There flew into my eye
A leetle, teenty-tiny fly.'"
"Indeed," said Inga, laughing, "the gnat was much like your stones that seeme_s big as mountains."
After their dinner they inspected the palace, which was filled with valuabl_oods stolen by King Gos from many nations. But the day's events had tire_hem and they retired early to their big sleeping apartment.
"In the morning," said the boy to Rinkitink, as he was undressing for bed, "_hall begin the search for my father and mother and the people of Pingaree.
And, when they are found and rescued, we will all go home again, and be a_appy as we were before."
They carefully bolted the door of their room, that no one might enter, an_hen got into their beds, where Rinkitink fell asleep in an instant. The bo_ay awake for a while thinking over the day's adventures, but presently h_ell sound asleep also, and so weary was he that nothing disturbed his slumbe_ntil he awakened next morning with a ray of sunshine in his eyes, which ha_rept into the room through the open window by King Rinkitink's bed.
Resolving to begin the search for his parents without any unnecessary delay, Inga at once got out of bed and began to dress himself, while Rinkitink, i_he other bed, was still sleeping peacefully. But when the boy had put on bot_is stockings and began looking for his shoes, he could find but one of them.
The left shoe, that containing the Pink Pearl, was missing.
Filled with anxiety at this discovery, Inga searched through the entire room, looking underneath the beds and divans and chairs and behind the draperies an_n the corners and every other possible place a shoe might be. He tried th_oor, and found it still bolted; so, with growing uneasiness, the boy wa_orced to admit that the precious shoe was not in the room.
With a throbbing heart he aroused his companion.
"King Rinkitink," said he, "do you know what has become of my left shoe?"
"Your shoe!" exclaimed the King, giving a wide yawn and rubbing his eyes t_et the sleep out of them. "Have you lost a shoe?"
"Yes," said Inga. "I have searched everywhere in the room, and cannot fin_t."
"But why bother me about such a small thing?" inquired Rinkitink. "A shoe i_nly a shoe, and you can easily get another one. But, stay! Perhaps it wa_our shoe which I threw at the cat last night."
"The cat!" cried Inga. "What do you mean?"
"Why, in the night," explained Rinkitink, sitting up and beginning to dres_imself, "I was wakened by the mewing of a cat that sat upon a wall of th_alace, just outside my window. As the noise disturbed me, I reached out i_he dark and caught up something and threw it at the cat, to frighten th_reature away. I did not know what it was that I threw, and I was too sleep_o care; but probably it was your shoe, since it is now missing."
"Then," said the boy, in a despairing tone of voice, "your carelessness ha_uined me, as well as yourself, King Rinkitink, for in that shoe was conceale_he magic power which protected us from danger."
The King's face became very serious when he heard this and he uttered a lo_histle of surprise and regret.
"Why on earth did you not warn me of this?" he demanded. "And why did you kee_uch a precious power in an old shoe? And why didn't you put the shoe under _illow? You were very wrong, my lad, in not confiding to me, your faithfu_riend, the secret, for in that case the shoe would not now be lost."
To all this Inga had no answer. He sat on the side of his bed, with hangin_ead, utterly disconsolate, and seeing this, Rinkitink had pity for hi_orrow.
"Come!" cried the King; "let us go out at once and look for the shoe which _hrew at the cat. It must even now be lying in the yard of the palace."
This suggestion roused the boy to action. He at once threw open the door an_n his stocking feet rushed down the staircase, closely followed by Rinkitink.
But although they looked on both sides of the palace wall and in ever_ossible crack and corner where a shoe might lodge, they failed to find it.
After a half hour's careful search the boy said sorrowfully:
"Someone must have passed by, as we slept, and taken the precious shoe, no_nowing its value. To us, King Rinkitink, this will be a dreadful misfortune, for we are surrounded by dangers from which we have now no protection. Luckil_ have the other shoe left, within which is the magic power that gives m_trength; so all is not lost."
Then he told Rinkitink, in a few words, the secret of the wonderful pearls, and how he had recovered them from the ruins and hidden them in his shoes, an_ow they had enabled him to drive King Gos and his men from Regos and t_apture the city. The King was much astonished, and when the story wa_oncluded he said to Inga:
"What did you do with the other shoe?"
"Why, I left it in our bedroom," replied the boy.
"Then I advise you to get it at once," continued Rinkitink, "for we can il_fford to lose the second shoe, as well as the one I threw at the cat."
"You are right!" cried Inga, and they hastened back to their bedchamber.
On entering the room they found an old woman sweeping and raising a great dea_f dust.
"Where is my shoe?" asked the Prince, anxiously.
The old woman stopped sweeping and looked at him in a stupid way, for she wa_ot very intelligent.
"Do you mean the one odd shoe that was lying on the floor when I came in?" sh_inally asked.
"Yes — yes!" answered the boy. "Where is it? Tell me where it is!"
"Why, I threw it on the dust-heap, outside the back gate," said she, "for, i_eing but a single shoe, with no mate, it can be of no use to anyone."
"Show us the way to the dust-heap — at once!" commanded the boy, sternly, fo_e was greatly frightened by this new misfortune which threatened him.
The old woman hobbled away and they followed her, constantly urging her t_asten; but when they reached the dust-heap no shoe was to be seen.
"This is terrible!" wailed the young Prince, ready to weep at his loss. "W_re now absolutely ruined, and at the mercy of our enemies. Nor shall I b_ble to liberate my dear father and mother."
"Well," replied Rinkitink, leaning against an old barrel and looking quit_olemn, "the thing is certainly unlucky, any way we look at it. I suppos_omeone has passed along here and, seeing the shoe upon the dust-heap, ha_arried it away. But no one could know the magic power the shoe contains an_o will not use it against us. I believe, Inga, we must now depend upon ou_its to get us out of the scrape we are in.
With saddened hearts they returned to the palace, and entering a small roo_here no one could observe them or overhear them, the boy took the White Pear_rom its silken bag and held it to his ear, asking:
"What shall I do now?"
"Tell no one of your loss," answered the Voice of the Pearl. "If your enemie_o not know that you are powerless, they will fear you as much as ever. Kee_our secret, be patient, and fear not!"
Inga heeded this advice and also warned Rinkitink to say nothing to anyone o_he loss of the shoes and the powers they contained. He sent for the shoemake_f King Gos, who soon brought him a new pair of red leather shoes that fitte_im quite well. When these had been put upon his feet, the Prince, accompanie_y the King, started to walk through the city.
Wherever they went the people bowed low to the conqueror, although a few, remembering Inga's terrible strength, ran away in fear and trembling. They ha_een used to severe masters and did not yet know how they would be treated b_ing Gos's successor. There being no occasion for the boy to exercise th_owers he had displayed the previous day, his present helplessness was no_uspected by any of the citizens of Regos, who still considered him _onderful magician.
Inga did not dare to fight his way to the mines, at present, nor could he tr_o conquer the Island of Coregos, where his mother was enslaved; so he se_bout the regulation of the City of Regos, and having established himself wit_reat state in the royal palace he began to govern the people by kindness, having consideration for the most humble.
The King of Regos and his followers sent spies across to the island they ha_bandoned in their flight, and these spies returned with the news that th_errible boy conqueror was still occupying the city. Therefore none of the_entured to go back to Regos but continued to live upon the neighboring islan_f Coregos, where they passed the days in fear and trembling and sought t_lot and plan ways how they might overcome the Prince of Pingaree and the fa_ing of Gilgad.