Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Queen Zixi of Ix - Or, the Story of the Magic Cloak
Author: Baum, L. Frank (Lyman Frank)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Queen Zixi of Ix - Or, the Story of the Magic Cloak" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Sharon Joiner, Stephen Hutcheson, Carol Spears, University
of Alberta, University of Texas, University of Michigan
made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)



[Illustration: WEAVING THE MAGIC CLOAK.]



                            QUEEN ZIXI OF IX


                                   BY
                             L. FRANK BAUM
                      AUTHOR OF “THE WIZARD OF OZ”

                         WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
                          FREDERICK RICHARDSON

                  [Illustration: Cameo of Queen Zixi]

                                TORONTO
                        THE COPP, CLARK COMPANY
                                LIMITED
                                  1905

                       Copyright, 1904, 1905, by
                             L. FRANK BAUM
                          All Rights Reserved
                       _Published October, 1905_

                       PRESS OF BRAUNWORTH & CO.
               BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTERS, BROOKLYN, N. Y.

                FULL PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS IN THREE COLORS
                         BY THE DE VINNE PRESS


                               TO MY SON
                           FRANK JOSLYN BAUM



                                CONTENTS


                               CHAPTER I.
  The Weaving of the Magic Cloak                                       3


                               CHAPTER II.
  The Book of Laws                                                    17


                               CHAPTER III.
  The Gift of the Magic Cloak                                         29


                               CHAPTER IV.
  King Bud of Noland                                                  43


                                CHAPTER V.
  Princess Fluff                                                      55


                               CHAPTER VI.
  Bud Dispenses Justice                                               67


                               CHAPTER VII.
  The Wings of Aunt Rivette                                           81


                              CHAPTER VIII.
  The Royal Reception                                                 93


                               CHAPTER IX.
  Jikki has a Wish Granted                                           107


                                CHAPTER X.
  The Counselors Wear the Magic Cloak                                117


                               CHAPTER XI.
  The Witch-Queen                                                    137


                               CHAPTER XII.
  Zixi Disguises Herself                                             149


                              CHAPTER XIII.
  Tullydub Rescues the Kingdom                                       158


                               CHAPTER XIV.
  The Rout of the Army of Ix                                         173


                               CHAPTER XV.
  The Theft of the Magic Cloak                                       181


                               CHAPTER XVI.
  The Plain Above the Clouds                                         198


                              CHAPTER XVII.
  The Descent of the Roly-Rogues                                     205


                              CHAPTER XVIII.
  The Conquest of Noland                                             214


                               CHAPTER XIX.
  The Bravery of Aunt Rivette                                        227


                               CHAPTER XX.
  In the Palace of the Witch-Queen                                   240


                               CHAPTER XXI.
  The Search for the Magic Cloak                                     251


                              CHAPTER XXII.
  Ruffles Carries the Silver Vial                                    271


                              CHAPTER XXIII.
  The Destruction of the Monsters                                    279


                              CHAPTER XXIV.
  The Sailorman’s Return                                             289


                               CHAPTER XXV.
  The Fairy-Queen                                                    298



                           QUEEN ZIXI OF IX;
                   OR, THE STORY OF THE MAGIC CLOAK.



                               Chapter I.
                    THE WEAVING OF THE MAGIC CLOAK.


The fairies assembled one moonlit night in a pretty clearing of the
ancient forest of Burzee.

The clearing was in the form of a circle, and all around stood giant oak
and fir trees, while in the center the grass grew green and soft as
velvet. If any mortal had ever penetrated so far into the great forest,
and could have looked upon the fairy circle by daylight, he might
perhaps have seen a tiny path worn in the grass by the feet of the
dancing elves. For here, during the full of the moon, the famous fairy
band, ruled by good Queen Lulea, loved to dance and make merry while the
silvery rays flooded the clearing and caused their gauzy wings to
sparkle with every color of the rainbow.

On this especial night, however, they were not dancing. For the queen
had seated herself upon a little green mound, and while her band
clustered about her she began to address the fairies in a tone of
discontent.

“I am tired of dancing, my dears,” said she. “Every evening since the
moon grew big and round we have come here to frisk about and laugh and
disport ourselves; and although those are good things to keep the heart
light, one may grow weary even of merrymaking. So I ask you to suggest
some new way to divert both me and yourselves during this night.”

“That is a hard task,” answered one pretty sprite, opening and folding
her wings slowly—as a lady toys with her fan. “We have lived through so
many ages that we long ago exhausted everything that might be considered
a novelty, and of all our recreations nothing gives us such continued
pleasure as dancing.”

“But I do not care to dance to-night!” replied Lulea, with a little
frown.

“We might create something, by virtue of our fairy powers,” suggested
one who reclined at the feet of the queen.

“Ah, that is just the idea!” exclaimed the dainty Lulea, with
brightening countenance. “Let us create something. But what?”

“I have heard,” remarked another member of the band, “of a thinking-cap
having been made by some fairies in America. And whatever mortal wore
this thinking-cap was able to conceive the most noble and beautiful
thoughts.”

“That was indeed a worthy creation,” cried the little queen. “What
became of the cap?”

“The man who received it was so afraid some one else would get it and be
able to think the same exquisite thoughts as himself that he hid it
safely away—so safely that he himself never could think afterward where
he had placed it.”

“How unfortunate! But we must not make another thinking-cap, lest it
meet a like fate. Cannot you suggest something, else?”

“I have heard,” said another, “of certain fairies who created a pair of
enchanted boots, which would always carry their mortal wearer away from
danger—and never into it.”

“What a great boon to those blundering mortals!” cried the queen. “And
whatever became of the boots?”

“They came at last into the possession of a great general who did not
know their powers. So he wore them into battle one day, and immediately
ran away, followed by all his men, and the fight was won by the enemy.”

“But did not the general escape danger?”

“Yes—at the expense of his reputation. So he retired to a farm and wore
out the boots tramping up and down a country road and trying to decide
why he had suddenly become such a coward.”

“The boots were worn by the wrong man, surely,” said the queen; “and
that is why they proved a curse rather than a blessing. But we want no
enchanted boots. Think of something else.”

“Suppose we weave a magic cloak,” proposed Espa, a sweet little fairy
who had not before spoken.

“A cloak? Indeed, we might easily weave that,” returned the queen. “But
what sort of magic powers must it possess?”

“Let its wearer have any wish instantly fulfilled,” said Espa, brightly.

[Illustration: “‘SUPPOSE WE WEAVE A MAGIC CLOAK.’”]

But at this there arose quite a murmur of protest on all sides, which
the queen immediately silenced with a wave of her royal hand.

“Our sister did not think of the probable consequences of what she
suggested,” declared Lulea, smiling into the downcast face of little
Espa, who seemed to feel rebuked by the disapproval of the others. “An
instant’s reflection would enable her to see that such power would give
the cloak’s mortal wearer as many privileges as we ourselves possess.
And I suppose you intended the magic cloak for a mortal wearer?” she
inquired.

“Yes,” answered Espa, shyly; “that was my intention.”

“But the idea is good, nevertheless,” continued the queen, “and I
propose we devote this evening to weaving the magic cloak. Only, its
magic shall give to its wearer the fulfilment of but one wish; and I am
quite sure that even that should prove a great boon to the helpless
mortals.”

“Suppose more than one person wears the cloak,” one of the band said;
“which then shall have the one wish fulfilled?”

The queen devoted a moment to thought, and then replied:

“Each possessor of the magic cloak may have one wish granted, provided
the cloak is not stolen from its last wearer. In that case the magic
power will not be exercised on behalf of the thief.”

“But should there not be a limit to the number of the cloak’s wearers?”
asked the fairy lying at the queen’s feet.

“I think not. If used properly our gift will prove of great value to
mortals. And if we find it is misused we can at any time take back the
cloak and revoke its magic power. So now, if we are all agreed upon this
novel amusement, let us set to work.”

At these words the fairies sprang up eagerly; and their queen, smiling
upon them, waved her wand toward the center of the clearing. At once a
beautiful fairy loom appeared in the space. It was not such a loom as
mortals use. It consisted of a large and a small ring of gold, supported
by a tall pole of jasper. The entire band danced around it thrice, the
fairies carrying in each hand a silver shuttle wound with glossy
filaments finer than the finest silk. And the threads on each shuttle
appeared a different hue from those of all the other shuttles.

At a sign from the queen they one and all approached the golden loom and
fastened an end of thread in its warp. Next moment they were gleefully
dancing hither and thither, while the silver shuttles flew swiftly from
hand to hand and the gossamer-like web began to grow upon the loom.

Presently the queen herself took part in the sport, and the thread she
wove into the fabric was the magical one which was destined to give the
cloak its wondrous power.

Long and swiftly the fairy band worked beneath the old moon’s rays,
while their feet tripped gracefully over the grass and their joyous
laughter tinkled like silver bells and awoke the echoes of the grim
forest surrounding them. And at last they paused and threw themselves
upon the green with little sighs of content. For the shuttles and loom
had vanished; the work was complete; and Queen Lulea stood upon the
mound holding in her hand the magic cloak.

The garment was as beautiful as it was marvelous—each and every hue of
the rainbow glinted and sparkled from the soft folds; and while it was
light in weight as swan’s-down, its strength was so great that the
fabric was well-nigh indestructible.

The fairy band regarded it with great satisfaction, for every one had
assisted in its manufacture and could admire with pardonable pride its
glossy folds.

“It is very lovely, indeed!” cried little Espa. “But to whom shall we
present it?”

The question aroused a dozen suggestions, each fairy seeming to favor a
different mortal. Every member of this band, as you doubtless know, was
the unseen guardian of some man or woman or child in the great world
beyond the forest, and it was but natural that each should wish her own
ward have the magic cloak.

While they thus disputed, another fairy joined them and pressed to the
side of the queen.

“Welcome, Ereol,” said Lulea. “You are late.”

The new-comer was very lovely in appearance, and with her fluffy golden
hair and clear blue eyes was marvelously fair to look upon. In a low,
grave voice she answered the queen:

“Yes, your Majesty, I am late. But I could not help it. The old King of
Noland, whose guardian I have been since his birth, has passed away this
evening, and I could not bear to leave him until the end came.”

“So the old king is dead at last!” said the queen, thoughtfully. “He was
a good man, but woefully uninteresting; and he must have wearied you
greatly at times, my sweet Ereol.”

[Illustration: “‘YES, YOUR MAJESTY, I AM LATE.’”]

“All mortals are, I think, wearisome,” returned the fairy, with a sigh.

“And who is the new King of Noland?” asked Lulea.

“There is none,” answered Ereol. “The old king died without a single
relative to succeed to his throne, and his five high counselors were in
a great dilemma when I came away.”

“Well, my dear, you may rest and enjoy yourself for a period, in order
to regain your old lightsome spirits. By and by I will appoint you
guardian to some newly born babe, that your duties may be less arduous.
But I am sorry you were not with us to-night, for we have had rare
sport. See! we have woven a magic cloak.”

Ereol examined the garment with pleasure.

“And who is to wear it?” she asked.

Then again arose the good-natured dispute as to which mortal in all the
world should possess the magic cloak. Finally the queen, laughing at the
arguments of her band, said to them:

“Come! Let us leave the decision to the Man in the Moon. He has been
watching us with a great deal of amusement, and once, I am sure, I
caught him winking at us in quite a roguish way.”

At this every head was turned toward the moon; and then a man’s face,
full-bearded and wrinkled, but with a jolly look upon the rough
features, appeared sharply defined upon the moon’s broad surface.

“So I’m to decide another dispute, eh?” said he, in a clear voice.
“Well, my dears, what is it this time?”

“We wish you to say what mortal shall wear the magic cloak which I and
the ladies of my court have woven,” replied Queen Lulea.

“Give it to the first unhappy person you meet,” said the Man in the
Moon. “The happy mortals have no need of magic cloaks.” And with this
advice the friendly face of the Man in the Moon faded away until only
the outlines remained visible against the silver disk.

The queen clapped her hands delightedly.

[Illustration: “‘GIVE IT TO THE FIRST UNHAPPY PERSON YOU MEET.’”]

“Our Man in the Moon is very wise,” she declared; “and we shall follow
his suggestion. Go, Ereol, since you are free for a time, and carry the
magic cloak to Noland. And the first person you meet who is really
unhappy, be it man, woman, or child, shall receive from you the cloak as
a gift from our fairy band.”

Ereol bowed, and folded the cloak over her arm.

“Come, my children,” continued Lulea; “the moon is hiding behind the
tree-tops, and it is time for us to depart.”

[Illustration: “SAID THE MAN IN THE MOON.”]

A moment later the fairies had disappeared, and the clearing wherein
they had danced and woven the magic cloak lay shrouded in deepest gloom.

[Illustration: JIKKI.]



                              Chapter II.
                           THE BOOK OF LAWS.


On this same night great confusion and excitement prevailed among the
five high counselors of the kingdom of Noland. The old king was dead and
there was none to succeed him as ruler of the country. He had outlived
every one of his relatives, and since the crown had been in this one
family for generations, it puzzled the high counselors to decide upon a
fitting successor.

These five high counselors were very important men. It was said that
they ruled the kingdom while the king ruled them; which made it quite
easy for the king and rather difficult for the people. The chief
counselor was named Tullydub. He was old and very pompous, and had a
great respect for the laws of the land. The next in rank was Tollydob,
the lord high general of the king’s army. The third was Tillydib, the
lord high purse-bearer. The fourth was Tallydab, the lord high steward.
And the fifth and last of the high counselors was Tellydeb, the lord
high executioner.

These five had been careful not to tell the people when the old king had
become ill, for they feared being annoyed by many foolish questions.
They sat in a big room next the bed-chamber of the king, in the royal
palace of Nole,—which is the capital city of Noland,—and kept every one
out except the king’s physician, who was half blind and wholly dumb and
could not gossip with outsiders had he wanted to. And while the high
counselors sat and waited for the king to recover or die, as he might
choose, Jikki waited upon them and brought them their meals.

Jikki was the king’s valet and principal servant. He was as old as any
of the five high counselors; but they were all fat, whereas Jikki was
wonderfully lean and thin; and the counselors were solemn and dignified,
whereas Jikki was terribly nervous and very talkative.

“Beg pardon, my masters,” he would say every five minutes, “but do you
think his Majesty will get well?” And then, before any of the high
counselors could collect themselves to answer, he continued: “Beg
pardon, but do you think his Majesty will die?” And the next moment he
would say: “Beg pardon, but do you think his Majesty is any better or
any worse?”

And all this was so annoying to the high counselors that several times
one of them took up some object in the room with the intention of
hurling it at Jikki’s head; but before he could throw it the old servant
had nervously turned away and left the room.

Tellydeb, the lord high executioner, would often sigh: “I wish there
were some law that would permit me to chop off Jikki’s head.” But then
Tullydub, the chief counselor, would say gloomily; “There is no law but
the king’s will, and he insists that Jikki be allowed to live.”

So they were forced to bear with Jikki as best they could; but after the
king breathed his last breath the old servant became more nervous and
annoying than ever.

Hearing that the king was dead, Jikki made a rush for the door of the
bell-tower, but tripped over the foot of Tollydob and fell upon the
marble floor so violently that his bones rattled, and he picked himself
up half dazed by the fall.

“Where are you going?” asked Tollydob.

“To toll the bell for the king’s death,” answered Jikki.

[Illustration: “‘WHERE ARE YOU GOING?’ ASKED TOLLYDOB.”]

“Well, remain here until we give you permission to go,” commanded the
lord high general.

“But the bell ought to be tolled!” said Jikki.

“Be silent!” growled the lord high purse-bearer. “We know what ought to
be done and what ought not to be done.”

But this was not strictly true. In fact, the five high counselors did
not know what ought to be done under these strange circumstances.

If they told the people the king was dead, and did not immediately
appoint his successor, then the whole population would lose faith in
them and fall to fighting and quarreling among themselves as to who
should become king; and that would never in the world do.

No; it was evident that a new king must be chosen before they told the
people that the old king was dead.

But whom should they choose for the new king? That was the important
question.

While they talked of these matters, the ever-active Jikki kept rushing
in and saying:

“Hadn’t I better toll the bell?”

“No!” they would shout in a chorus; and then Jikki would rush out again.

So they sat and thought and counseled together during the whole long
night, and by morning they were no nearer a solution of the problem than
before.

At daybreak Jikki stuck his head into the room and said:

“Hadn’t I better—”

“No!” they all shouted in a breath.

“Very well,” returned Jikki; “I was only going to ask if I hadn’t better
get you some breakfast.”

“Yes!” they cried, again in one breath.

“And shall I toll the bell?”

“No!” they screamed; and the lord high steward threw an inkstand that
hit the door several seconds after Jikki had closed it and disappeared.

While they were at breakfast they again discussed their future action in
the choice of a king; and finally the chief counselor had a thought that
caused him to start so suddenly that he nearly choked.

“The book!” he gasped, staring at his brother counselors in a rather
wild manner.

“What book?” asked the lord high general.

“The book of laws,” answered the chief counselor.

“I never knew there was such a thing,” remarked the lord high
executioner, looking puzzled. “I always thought the king’s will was the
law.”

“So it was! So it was when we had a king,” answered Tullydub, excitedly.
“But this book of laws was written years ago, and was meant to be used
when the king was absent, or ill, or asleep.”

[Illustration: “‘NO!’ THEY ALL SHOUTED IN A BREATH.”]

For a moment there was silence.

“Have you ever read the book?” then asked Tillydib.

“No; but I will fetch it at once, and we shall see if there is not a law
to help us out of our difficulty.”

So the chief counselor brought the book—a huge old volume that had a
musty smell to it and was locked together with a silver padlock. Then
the key had to be found, which was no easy task; but finally the great
book of laws lay open upon the table, and all the five periwigs of the
five fat counselors were bent over it at once.

Long and earnestly they searched the pages, but it was not until after
noon that Tullydub suddenly placed his broad thumb upon a passage and
shouted:

“I have it! I have it!”

“What is it? Read it! Read it aloud!” cried the others.

[Illustration: “SO THE CHIEF COUNSELOR BROUGHT THE BOOK.”]

[Illustration: “SUDDENLY PLACING HIS BROAD THUMB ON A PASSAGE, HE
SHOUTED ‘I HAVE IT! I HAVE IT!’”]

Just then Jikki rushed into the room and asked:

“Shall I toll the bell?”

“No!” they yelled, glaring at him; so Jikki ran out, shaking his head
dolefully.

Then Tullydub adjusted his spectacles and leaned over the book, reading
aloud the following words:

“In case the king dies, and there is no one to succeed him, the chief
counselor of the kingdom shall go at sunrise to the eastward gate of the
city of Nole and count the persons who enter through such gate as soon
as it is opened by the guards. And the forty-seventh person that so
enters, be it man, woman, or child, rich or poor, humble or noble, shall
immediately be proclaimed king or queen, as the case may be, and shall
rule all the kingdom of Noland forever after, so long as he or she may
live. And if any one in all the kingdom of Nole shall refuse to obey the
slightest wish of the new ruler, such person shall at once be put to
death. This is the law.”

Then all the five high counselors heaved a deep sigh of relief and
repeated together the words:

“This is the law.”

“But it’s a strange law, nevertheless,” remarked the lord high
purse-bearer. “I wish I knew who will be the forty-seventh person to
enter the east gate to-morrow at sunrise.”

“We must wait and see,” answered the lord high general. “And I will have
my army assembled and marshaled at the gateway, that the new ruler of
Noland may be welcomed in a truly kingly manner, as well as to keep the
people in order when they hear the strange news.”

“Beg pardon!” exclaimed Jikki, looking in at the doorway, “but shall I
toll the bell?”

“No, you numskull!” retorted Tullydub, angrily. “If the bell is tolled
the people will be told, and they must not know that the old king is
dead until the forty-seventh person enters the east gateway to-morrow
morning!”



                              Chapter III.
                      THE GIFT OF THE MAGIC CLOAK.


Nearly two days’ journey from the city of Nole, yet still within the
borders of the great kingdom of Noland, was a little village lying at
the edge of a broad river. It consisted of a cluster of houses of the
humblest description, for the people of this village were all poor and
lived in simple fashion. Yet one house appeared to be somewhat better
than the others, for it stood on the river-bank and had been built by
the ferryman whose business it was to carry all travelers across the
river. And, as many traveled that way, the ferryman was able in time to
erect a very comfortable cottage, and to buy good furniture for it, and
to clothe warmly and neatly his two children.

One of these children was a little girl named Margaret, who was called
“Meg” by the villagers and “Fluff” by the ferryman her father, because
her hair was so soft and fluffy.

Her brother, who was two years younger, was named Timothy; but Margaret
had always called him “Bud,” because she could not say “brother” more
plainly when first she began to talk; so nearly every one who knew
Timothy called him Bud, as little Meg did.

These children had lost their mother when very young, and the big
ferryman had tried to be both mother and father to them, and had reared
them very gently and lovingly. They were good children, and were liked
by every one in the village.

But one day a terrible misfortune befell them. The ferryman tried to
cross the river for a passenger one very stormy night; but he never
reached the other shore. When the storm subsided and morning came they
found his body lying on the river-bank, and the two children were left
alone in the world.

The news was carried by travelers to the city of Nole, where the
ferryman’s only sister lived; and a few days afterward the woman came to
the village and took charge of her orphaned niece and nephew.

She was not a bad-hearted woman, this Aunt Rivette; but she had worked
hard all her life, and had a stern face and a stern voice. She thought
the only way to make children behave was to box their ears every now and
then; so poor Meg, who had been well-nigh heart-broken at her dear
father’s loss, had still more occasion for tears after Aunt Rivette came
to the village.

As for Bud, he was so impudent and ill-mannered to the old lady that she
felt obliged to switch him; and afterward the boy became surly and
silent, and neither wept nor answered his aunt a single word. It hurt
Margaret dreadfully to see her little brother whipped, and she soon
became so unhappy at the sorrowful circumstances in which she and her
brother found themselves that she sobbed from morning till night and
knew no comfort.

Aunt Rivette, who was a laundress in the city of Nole, decided she would
take Meg and Bud back home with her.

“The boy can carry water for my tubs, and the girl can help me with the
ironing,” she said.

So she sold all the heavier articles of furniture that the cottage
contained, as well as the cottage itself; and all the remainder of her
dead brother’s belongings she loaded upon the back of the little donkey
she had ridden on her journey from Nole. It made such a pile of packages
that the load seemed bigger than the donkey himself; but he was a strong
little animal, and made no complaint of his burden.

All this being accomplished, they set out one morning for Nole, Aunt
Rivette leading the donkey by the bridle with one hand and little Bud
with the other, while Margaret followed behind, weeping anew at this sad
parting with her old home and all she had so long loved.

It was a hard journey. The old woman soon became cross and fretful, and
scolded the little ones at almost every step. When Bud stumbled, as he
often did, for he was unused to walking very far, Aunt Rivette would box
his ears or shake him violently by the arm or tell him he was “a
good-for-nothing little beggar.” And Bud would turn upon her with a
revengeful look in his big eyes, but say not a word. The woman paid no
attention to Meg, who continued to follow the donkey with tearful eyes
and drooping head.

[Illustration: “IT WAS A HARD JOURNEY.”]

The first night they obtained shelter at a farm-house. But in the
morning it was found that the boy’s feet were so swollen and sore from
the long walk of the day before that he could not stand upon them. So
Aunt Rivette, scolding fretfully at his weakness, perched Bud among the
bundles atop the donkey’s back, and in this way they journeyed the
second day, the woman walking ahead and leading the donkey, and Margaret
following behind.

The laundress had hoped to reach the city of Nole at the close of this
day; but the overburdened donkey would not walk very fast, so nightfall
found them still a two-hours’ journey from the city gates, and they were
forced to stop at a small inn.

But this inn was already overflowing with travelers, and the landlord
could give them no beds, nor even a room.

“You can sleep in the stable if you like,” said he. “There is plenty of
hay to lie down upon.”

So they were obliged to content themselves with this poor accommodation.

The old woman aroused them at the first streaks of daybreak the next
morning, and while she fastened the packages to the donkey’s back
Margaret stood in the stable yard and shivered in the cold morning air.

The little girl felt that she had never been more unhappy than at that
moment, and when she thought of her kind father and the happy home she
had once known, her sobs broke out afresh, and she leaned against the
stable door and wept as if her little heart would break.

[Illustration: “OVER THE YOUTH’S ARM LAY FOLDED THE MAGIC CLOAK.”]

Suddenly some one touched her arm, and she looked up to see a tall and
handsome youth standing before her. It was none other than Ereol the
fairy, who had assumed this form for her appearance among mortals; and
over the youth’s arm lay folded the magic cloak that had been woven the
evening before in the fairy circle of Burzee.

“Are you very unhappy, my dear?” asked Ereol, in kindly tones.

“I am the most unhappy person in all the world!” replied the girl,
beginning to sob afresh.

“Then,” said Ereol, “I will present you with this magic cloak, which has
been woven by the fairies. And while you wear it you may have your first
wish granted; and if you give it freely to any other mortal, that person
may also have one wish granted. So use the cloak wisely, and guard it as
a great treasure.”

Saying this the fairy messenger spread the folds of the cloak and threw
the brilliant-hued garment over the shoulders of the girl.

[Illustration: “‘WHAT! PUNISH ME, YOU RASCALLY FELLOW! WE’LL SEE ABOUT
THAT.’”]

Just then Aunt Rivette led the donkey from the stable, and seeing the
beautiful cloak which the child wore, she stopped short and demanded:

“Where did you get that?”

“This stranger gave it to me,” answered Meg, pointing to the youth.

“Take it off! Take it off this minute and give it me—or I will whip you
soundly!” cried the woman.

“Stop!” said Ereol, sternly. “The cloak belongs to this child alone, and
if you dare take it from her I will punish you severely.”

“What! Punish me! Punish me, you rascally fellow! We’ll see about that.”

“We will, indeed,” returned Ereol, more calmly. “The cloak is a gift
from the fairies; and you dare not anger them, for your punishment would
be swift and terrible.”

Now no one feared to provoke the mysterious fairies more than Aunt
Rivette; but she suspected the youth was not telling her the truth, so
she rushed upon Ereol and struck at him with her upraised cane. But, to
her amazement, the form of the youth vanished quickly into air, and
then, indeed, she knew it was a fairy that had spoken to her.

“You may keep your cloak,” she said to Margaret, with a little shiver of
fear. “I would not touch it for the world!”

The girl was very proud of her glittering garment, and when Bud was
perched upon the donkey’s back and the old woman began trudging along
the road to the city, Meg followed after with much lighter steps than
before.

Presently the sun rose over the horizon, and its splendid rays shone
upon the cloak and made it glisten gorgeously.

“Ah, me!” sighed the little girl, half aloud. “I wish I could be happy
again!”

Then her childish heart gave a bound of delight, and she laughed aloud
and brushed from her eyes the last tear she was destined to shed for
many a day. For, though she spoke thoughtlessly, the magic cloak quickly
granted to its first wearer the fulfilment of her wish.

Aunt Rivette turned upon her in surprise.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked suspiciously, for she had not
heard the girl laugh since her father’s death.

[Illustration: “‘AH, ME!’ SIGHED THE LITTLE GIRL, HALF ALOUD.”]

“Why, the sun is shining,” answered Meg, laughing again. “And the air is
sweet and fresh, and the trees are green and beautiful, and the whole
world is very pleasant and delightful.” And then she danced lightly
along the dusty road and broke into a verse of a pretty song she had
learned at her father’s knee.

The old woman scowled and trudged on again; Bud looked down at his merry
sister and grinned from pure sympathy with her high spirits; and the
donkey stopped and turned his head to look solemnly at the laughing girl
behind him.

“Come along!” cried the laundress, jerking at the bridle; “every one is
passing us upon the road, and we must hurry to get home before noon.”

It was true. A good many travelers, some on horseback and some on foot,
had passed them by since the sun rose; and although the east gate of the
city of Nole was now in sight, they were obliged to take their places in
the long line that sought entrance at the gate.



                              Chapter IV.
                          KING BUD OF NOLAND.


The five high counselors of the kingdom of Noland were both eager and
anxious upon this important morning. Long before sunrise Tollydob, the
lord high general, had assembled his army at the east gate of the city;
and the soldiers stood in two long lines beside the entrance, looking
very impressive in their uniforms. And all the people, noting this
unusual display, gathered around at the gate to see what was going to
happen.

Of course no one knew what was going to happen; not even the chief
counselor nor his brother counselors. They could only obey the law and
abide by the results.

Finally the sun arose and the east gate of the city was thrown open.
There were a few people waiting outside, and they promptly entered.

“One, two, three, four, five, six!” counted the chief counselor, in a
loud voice.

The people were much surprised at hearing this, and began to question
one another with perplexed looks. Even the soldiers were mystified.

[Illustration: “A RAGGED, LIMPING PEDDLER ENTERED THE GATE.”]

“Seven, eight, nine!” continued the chief counselor, still counting
those who came in.

A breathless hush fell upon the assemblage.

Something very important and mysterious was going on; that was evident.
But what?

They could only wait and find out.

“Ten, eleven!” counted Tullydub, and then heaved a deep sigh. For a
famous nobleman had just entered the gate, and the chief counselor could
not help wishing he had been number forty-seven.

So the counting went on, and the people became more and more interested
and excited.

When the number had reached thirty-one a strange thing happened. A loud
“boom!” sounded through the stillness, and then another, and another.
Some one was tolling the great bell in the palace bell-tower, and people
began saying to one another in awed whispers that the old king must be
dead.

The five high counselors, filled with furious anger but absolutely
helpless, as they could not leave the gate, lifted up their five chubby
fists and shook them violently in the direction of the bell-tower.

Poor Jikki, finding himself left alone in the palace, could no longer
resist the temptation to toll the bell; and it continued to peal out its
dull, solemn tones while the chief counselor stood by the gate and
shouted:

“Thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-four!”

Only the mystery of this action could have kept the people quiet when
they learned from the bell that their old king was dead.

But now they began to guess that the scene at the east gate promised
more of interest than anything they might learn at the palace; so they
stood very quiet, and Jikki’s disobedience of orders did no great harm
to the plans of the five high counselors.

When Tullydub had counted up to forty the excitement redoubled, for
every one could see big drops of perspiration standing upon the chief
counselor’s brow, and all the other high counselors, who stood just
behind him, were trembling violently with nervousness.

A ragged, limping peddler entered the gate.

“Forty-five!” shouted Tullydub.

Then came Aunt Rivette, dragging at the bridle of the donkey.

“Forty-six!” screamed Tullydub.

And now Bud rode through the gate, perched among the bundles on the
donkey’s back and looking composedly upon the throng of anxious faces
that greeted him.

[Illustration: “‘FORTY-SEVEN!’ CRIED THE CHIEF COUNSELOR. ‘LONG LIVE THE
NEW KING OF NOLAND!’”]

“_Forty-seven!_” cried the chief counselor; and then in his loudest
voice he continued:

“Long live the new King of Noland!”

All the high counselors prostrated themselves in the dusty road before
the donkey. The old woman was thrust back in the crowd by a soldier,
where she stood staring in amazement, and Margaret, clothed in her
beautiful cloak, stepped to the donkey’s side and looked first at her
brother and then at the group of periwigged men, who bobbed their heads
in the dust before him and shouted:

“Long live the king!”

Then, while the crowd still wondered, the lord high counselor arose and
took from a soldier a golden crown set with brilliants, a jeweled
scepter, and a robe of ermine. Advancing to Bud, he placed the crown
upon the boy’s head and the scepter in his hand, while over his
shoulders he threw the ermine robe.

The crown fell over Bud’s ears, but he pushed it back upon his head, so
it would stay there; and as the kingly robe spread over all the bundles
on the donkey’s back and quite covered them, the boy really presented a
very imposing appearance.

The people quickly rose to the spirit of the occasion. What mattered it
if the old king was dead, now that a new king was already before them?
They broke into a sudden cheer, and, joyously waving their hats and
bonnets above their heads, joined eagerly in the cry:

“Long live the King of Noland!”

Aunt Rivette was fairly stupefied. Such a thing was too wonderful to be
believed. A man in the crowd snatched the bonnet from the old woman’s
head, and said to her brusquely:

“Why don’t you greet the new king? Are you a traitor to your country?”

So she also waved her bonnet and screamed: “Long live the king!” But she
hardly knew what she was doing or why she did it.

Meantime the high counselors had risen from their knees and now stood
around the donkey.

“May it please your Serene Majesty to condescend to tell us who this
young lady is?” asked Tullydub, bowing respectfully.

“That’s my sister Fluff,” said Bud, who was enjoying his new position
very much. All the counselors, at this, bowed low to Margaret.

[Illustration: “SO SHE ALSO WAVED HER BONNET AND SCREAMED: ‘LONG LIVE
THE KING!’”]

“A horse for the Princess Fluff!” cried the lord high general; and the
next moment she was mounted upon a handsome white palfrey, where, with
her fluffy golden hair and smiling face and the magnificent cloak
flowing from her shoulders, she looked every inch a princess. The people
cheered her, too; for it was long since any girl or woman had occupied
the palace of the King of Noland, and she was so pretty and sweet that
every one loved her immediately.

[Illustration: “‘MAY IT PLEASE YOUR SERENE MAJESTY TO TELL US WHO THIS
YOUNG LADY IS?’ ASKED TULLYDUB, RESPECTFULLY.”]

And now the king’s chariot drove up, with its six prancing steeds, and
Bud was lifted from the back of the donkey and placed in the high seat
of the chariot.

Again the people shouted joyful greetings; the band struck up a gay
march tune, and then the royal procession started for the palace.

First came Tollydob and the officers; then the king’s chariot,
surrounded by soldiers; then the four high counselors upon black horses,
riding two on each side of Princess Fluff; and, finally, the band of
musicians and the remainder of the royal army.

It was an imposing sight, and the people followed after with cheers and
rejoicings, while the lord high purse-bearer tossed silver coins from
his pouch for any one to catch who could.

A message had been sent to warn Jikki that the new king was coming, so
he stopped tolling the death knell, and instead rang out a glorious
chime of welcome.

As for old Rivette finding herself and the donkey alike deserted, she
once more seized the bridle and led the patient beast to her humble
dwelling; and it was just as she reached her door that King Bud of
Noland, amid the cheers and shouts of thousands, entered for the first
time the royal palace of Nole.

[Illustration: “‘I WANT SOME NEW CLOTHES, AND SO DOES MY SISTER,’ BUD
ANNOUNCED, AS BOLDLY AS POSSIBLE.”]



                               Chapter V.
                            PRINCESS FLUFF.


Now when the new king had entered the palace with his sister, the chief
counselor stood upon a golden balcony with the great book in his hand,
and read aloud, to all the people who were gathered below, the law in
regard to choosing a new king, and the severe penalty in case any
refused to obey his slightest wish. And the people were glad enough to
have a change of rulers, and pleased that so young a king had been given
them. So they accepted both the law and the new king cheerfully, and
soon dispersed to their homes to talk over the wonderful events of the
day.

Bud and Meg were ushered into beautifully furnished rooms on the second
floor of the palace, and old Jikki, finding that he had a new master to
serve, flew about in his usual nervous manner, and brought the children
the most delicious breakfast they had ever eaten in their lives.

Bud had been so surprised at his reception at the gate and the sudden
change in his condition that as yet he had not been able to collect his
thoughts. His principal idea was that he was in a dream, and he kept
waiting until he should wake up. But the breakfast was very real and
entirely satisfying, and he began to wonder if he could be dreaming,
after all.

The old servant, when he carried away the dishes, bowed low to Bud and
said: “Beg pardon, your Majesty! But the lord high counselor desires to
know the king’s will.”

Bud stared at him a moment thoughtfully.

“Tell him I want to be left alone to talk with my sister Fluff,” he
replied.

Jikki again bowed low and withdrew, closing the door behind him, and
then the children looked at each other solemnly, until Meg burst into a
merry laugh.

“Oh, Bud!” she cried, “think of it! I’m the royal Princess Fluff, and
you’re the King of all Noland! Isn’t it funny!” And then she danced
about the room in great delight.

Bud answered her seriously.

“What does it all mean, Fluff?” he said. “We’re only poor children, you
know; so I can’t really be a king. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Aunt
Rivette came in any minute and boxed my ears.”

“Nonsense!” laughed Margaret. “Didn’t you hear what that fat, periwigged
man said about the law? The old king is dead, and some one else had to
be king, you know; and the forty-seventh person who entered the east
gate was you, Bud, and so by law you are the king of all this great
country. Don’t you see?”

Bud shook his head and looked at his sister.

“No, I don’t see,” he said. “But if you say it’s all right, Fluff, why,
it must be all right.”

“Of course it’s all right,” declared the girl, throwing off her pretty
cloak and placing it on a chair. “You’re the rightful king, and can do
whatever you please; and I’m the rightful princess, because I’m your
sister; so I can do whatever _I_ please. Don’t you see, Bud?”

“But, look here, Fluff,” returned her brother, “if you’re a princess,
why do you wear that old gray dress and those patched-up shoes? Father
used to tell us that princesses always wore the loveliest dresses.”

Meg looked at herself and sighed.

“I really ought to have some new dresses, Bud. And I suppose if you
order them they will be ready in no time. And you must have some new
clothes, too, for your jacket is ragged and soiled.”

“Do you really think it’s true, Fluff?” he asked anxiously.

“Of course it’s true. Look at your kingly robe, and your golden crown,
and that stick with all those jewels in it!”—meaning the scepter.
“They’re true enough, aren’t they?”

Bud nodded.

“Call in that old man,” he said. “I’ll order something, and see if he
obeys me. If he does, then I’ll believe I’m really a king.”

“But now listen, Bud,” said Meg, gravely; “don’t you let these folks see
you’re afraid, or that you’re not sure whether you’re a king or not.
Order them around and make them afraid of _you_. That’s what the kings
do in all the stories I ever read.”

“I will,” replied Bud. “I’ll order them around. So you call in that old
donkey with the silver buttons all over him.”

“Here’s a bell-rope,” said Meg; “I’ll pull it.”

Instantly Jikki entered and bowed low to each of the children.

“What’s your name?” asked Bud.

“Jikki, your gracious Majesty.”

“Who are you?”

“Your Majesty’s valet, if you please,” answered Jikki.

“Oh!” said Bud. He didn’t know what a valet was, but he wasn’t going to
tell Jikki so.

“I want some new clothes, and so does my sister,” Bud announced, as
boldly as possible.

“Certainly, your Majesty. I’ll send the lord high steward here at once.”

With this he bowed and rushed away, and presently Tallydab, the lord
high steward, entered the room and with a low bow presented himself
respectfully before the children.

“I beg your Majesty to command me,” said Tallydab, gravely.

Bud was a little awed by his appearance, but he resolved to be brave.

“We want some new clothes,” he said.

“They are already ordered, your Majesty, and will be here presently.”

“Oh!” said Bud, and stopped short.

“I have ordered twenty suits for your Majesty and forty gowns for the
princess,” continued Tallydab; “and I hope these will content your
Majesty and the princess until you have time to select a larger
assortment.”

“Oh!” said Bud, greatly amazed.

“I have also selected seven maidens, the most noble in all the land, to
wait upon the princess. They are even now awaiting her Highness in her
own apartments.”

Meg clapped her hands delightedly.

“I’ll go to them at once,” she cried.

“Has your Majesty any further commands?” asked Tallydab. “If not your
five high counselors would like to confer with you in regard to your new
duties and responsibilities.”

“Send ’em in,” said Bud, promptly; and while Margaret went to meet her
new maids the king held his first conference with his high counselors.

[Illustration: “‘I HAVE ORDERED TWENTY SUITS FOR YOUR MAJESTY AND FORTY
GOWNS FOR THE PRINCESS.’”]

In answer to Tallydab’s summons the other four periwigs, pompous and
solemn, filed into the room and stood in a row before Bud, who looked
upon them with a sensation of awe.

“Your Majesty,” began the venerable Tullydub, in a grave voice, “we are
here to instruct you, with your gracious consent, in your new and
important duties.”

Bud shifted uneasily in his chair. It all seemed so unreal and
absurd—this kingly title and polite deference bestowed upon a poor boy
by five dignified and periwigged men—that it was hard for Bud to curb
his suspicion that all was not right.

“See here, all of you,” said he, suddenly, “is this thing a joke? tell
me, is it a joke?”

“A joke?” echoed all of the five counselors, in several degrees of
shocked and horrified tones; and Tellydeb, the lord high executioner,
added reproachfully:

“Could we, by any chance, have the temerity to joke with your mighty and
glorious Majesty?”

“That’s just it,” answered the boy. “I am not a mighty and glorious
Majesty. I’m just Bud, the ferryman’s son, and you know it.”

“You are Bud, the ferryman’s son, to be sure,” agreed the chief
counselor, bowing courteously; “but by the decrees of fate and the just
and unalterable laws of the land you are now become absolute ruler of
the great kingdom of Noland; therefore all that dwell therein are your
loyal and obedient servants.”

[Illustration: “‘A JOKE?’ ECHOED ALL OF THE FIVE COUNSELORS, IN SEVERAL
DEGREES OF SHOCKED AND HORRIFIED TONES.”]

Bud thought this over.

“Are you sure there’s no mistake?” he asked, with hesitation.

“There _can_ be no mistake,” returned old Tullydub, firmly; “for we, the
five high counselors of the kingdom, have ourselves interpreted and
carried out the laws of the land, and the people, your subjects, have
approved our action.”

“Then,” said Bud, “I suppose I’ll have to be king whether I want to or
not.”

“Your Majesty speaks but the truth,” returned the chief counselor, with
a sigh. “With or without your consent, you are the king. It is the law.”
And all the others chanted in a chorus:

“It is the law.”

Bud felt much relieved. He had no notion whatever of refusing to be a
king. If there was no mistake, and he was really the powerful monarch of
Noland, then there ought to be no end of fun and freedom for him during
the rest of his life. To be his own master; to have plenty of money; to
live in a palace and order people around as he pleased—all this seemed
to the poor and friendless boy of yesterday to be quite the most
delightful fate that could possibly overtake one.

So lost did he become in thoughts of the marvelous existence opening
before him that he paid scant attention to the droning speeches of the
five aged counselors, who were endeavoring to acquaint him with the
condition of affairs in his new kingdom, and to instruct him in his many
and difficult duties as its future ruler.

For a full hour he sat quiet and motionless, and they thought he was
listening to these dreary affairs of state; but suddenly he jumped up
and astonished the dignitaries by exclaiming:

“See here; you just fix up things to suit yourselves. I’m going to find
Fluff.” And with no heed to protests, the new king ran from the room and
slammed the door behind him.

[Illustration: “A MAN CAME IN LEADING A BOY BY THE ARM AND HOLDING A
SWITCH IN HIS OTHER HAND.”]



                              Chapter VI.
                         BUD DISPENSES JUSTICE.


The next day the funeral of the old king took place, and the new king
rode in the grand procession in a fine chariot, clothed in black velvet
embroidered with silver. Not knowing how to act in his new position, Bud
sat still and did nothing at all, which was just what was expected of
him.

But when they returned from the funeral he was ushered into the great
throne-room of the palace and seated on the golden throne; and then the
chief counselor informed him that he must listen to the grievances of
his people and receive the homage of the noblemen of Noland.

Fluff sat on a stool beside the king, and the five high counselors stood
back of him in a circle; and then the doors were thrown open and all the
noblemen of the country crowded in. One by one they kissed first the
king’s hand and then the princess’s hand, and vowed they would always
serve them faithfully.

Bud did not like this ceremony. He whispered to Fluff that it made him
tired.

“I want to go upstairs and play,” he said to the lord high steward. “I
don’t see why I can’t.”

“Very soon your Majesty may go. Just now it is your duty to hear the
grievances of your people,” answered Tallydab, gently.

“What’s the matter with ’em?” asked Bud, crossly. “Why don’t they keep
out of trouble?”

“I do not know, your Majesty; but there are always disputes among the
people.”

“But that isn’t the king’s fault, is it?” said Bud.

“No, your Majesty; but it’s the king’s place to settle these disputes,
for he has the supreme power.”

“Well, tell ’em to hurry up and get it over with,” said the boy,
restlessly.

Then a venerable old man came in leading a boy by the arm and holding a
switch in his other hand.

“Your Majesty,” began the man, having first humbly bowed to the floor
before the king, “my son, whom I have brought here with me, insists upon
running away from home, and I wish you would tell me what to do with
him.”

“Why do you run away?” Bud asked the boy.

“Because he whips me,” was the answer.

Bud turned to the man.

“Why do you whip the boy?” he inquired.

“Because he runs away,” said the man.

For a minute Bud looked puzzled.

“Well, if any one whipped me, I’d run away, too,” he said at last. “And
if the boy isn’t whipped or abused he ought to stay at home and be good.
But it’s none of my business, anyhow.”

“Oh, your Majesty!” cried the chief counselor, “it really must be your
business. You’re the king, you know; and everybody’s business is the
king’s.”

“That isn’t fair,” said Bud, sulkily. “I’ve got my own business to
attend to, and I want to go upstairs and play.”

But now Princess Fluff leaned toward the young king and whispered
something in his ear which made his face brighten.

“See here!” exclaimed Bud, “the first time this man whips the boy again,
or the first time the boy runs away, I order my lord high executioner to
give them both a good switching. Now let them go home and try to behave
themselves.”

[Illustration: “NEXT CAME TWO OLD WOMEN, AND BETWEEN THEM THEY LED A
COW.”]

Every one applauded his decision, and Bud also thought with satisfaction
that he had hit upon a good way out of the difficulty.

Next came two old women, one very fat and the other very thin; and
between them they led a cow, the fat woman having a rope around one horn
and the thin woman a rope around the other horn. Each woman claimed she
owned the cow, and they quarreled so loudly and so long that the lord
high executioner had to tie a bandage over their mouths. When peace was
thus restored the high counselor said:

“Now, your Majesty, please decide which of these two women owns the
cow.”

“I can’t,” said Bud, helplessly.

“Oh, your Majesty, but you must!” cried all the five high counselors.

Then Meg whispered to the king again, and the boy nodded. The children
had always lived in a little village where there were plenty of cows,
and the girl thought she knew a way to decide which of the claimants
owned this animal.

“Send one of the women away,” said Bud. So they led the lean woman to a
little room near by and locked her in.

“Bring a pail and a milking-stool,” ordered the king.

When they were brought, Bud turned to the fat woman and ordered the
bandage taken from her mouth.

“The cow’s mine! It’s my cow! I own it!” she screamed, the moment she
could speak.

“Hold!” said the king. “If the cow belongs to you, let me see you milk
her.”

“Certainly, your Majesty, certainly!” she cried; and seizing the pail
and the stool, she ran up to the left side of the cow, placed the stool,
and sat down upon it. But before she could touch the cow the animal
suddenly gave a wild kick that sent the startled woman in a heap upon
the floor, with her head stuck fast in the milk-pail. Then the cow moved
forward a few steps and looked blandly around.

Two of the guards picked the woman up and pulled the pail from her head.

“What’s the matter?” asked Bud.

“She’s frightened, of course,” whimpered the woman, “and I’ll be black
and blue by to-morrow morning, your Majesty. Any cow would kick in such
a place as this.”

“Put this woman in the room and fetch the other woman here,” commanded
the king.

So the lean woman was brought out and ordered to milk the cow.

[Illustration: “THE ANIMAL SUDDENLY GAVE A WILD KICK THAT SENT THE
STARTLED WOMAN IN A HEAP UPON THE FLOOR, WITH HER HEAD STUCK FAST IN THE
MILK-PAIL.”]

She took the stool in one hand and the pail in the other, and,
approaching the cow softly on the _right_ side, patted the animal gently
and said to it: “So, Boss! So-o-o-o, Bossie, my darlin’! Good Bossie!
Nice Bossie!”

The cow turned her head to look at the lean woman, and made no objection
when she sat down and began milking.

In a moment the king said:

“The cow is yours! Take her and go home!”

Then all the courtiers and people—and even the five high
counselors—applauded the king enthusiastically; and the chief counselor
lifted up his hands and said:

“Another Solomon has come to rule us!”

And the people applauded again, till Bud looked very proud and quite red
in the face with satisfaction.

“Tell me,” he said to the woman, who was about to lead the cow away,
“tell me, where did you get such a nice faithful Bossie as that?”

“Must I tell you the truth?” asked the woman.

“Of course,” said Bud.

“Then, your Majesty,” she returned, “I stole her from that fat woman you
have locked up in that room. But no one can take the cow from me now,
for the king has given her to me.”

At this a sudden hush fell on the room, and Bud looked redder than ever.

“Then how did it happen that you could milk the cow and she couldn’t?”
demanded the king, angrily.

“Why, she doesn’t understand cows, and I do,” answered the woman. “Good
day, your Majesty. Much obliged, I’m sure!”

And she walked away with the cow, leaving the king and Princess Fluff
and all the people much embarrassed.

“Have we any cows in the royal stables?” asked Bud, turning to Tullydub.

“Certainly, your Majesty; there are several,” answered the chief
counselor.

“Then,” said Bud, “give one of them to the fat woman and send her home.
I’ve done all the judging I am going to do to-day, and now I’ll take my
sister upstairs to play.”

“Hold on! Hold on!” cried a shrill voice. “I demand justice! Justice of
the king! Justice of the law! Justice to the king’s aunt.”

Bud looked down the room and saw Aunt Rivette struggling with some of
the guards. Then she broke away from them and rushed to the throne,
crying again:

“Justice, your Majesty!”

“What’s the matter with you?” asked Bud.

“Matter? Everything’s the matter with me. Aren’t you the new king?”

“Yes,” said Bud. “That’s what I am.”

“Am I not your aunt? Am I not your aunt?”

“Yes,” said Bud, again.

“Well, why am I left to live in a hut and dress in rags? Doesn’t the law
say that every blood relation of the king shall live in a royal palace?”

“Does it?” asked Bud, turning to Tullydub.

“The law says so, your Majesty.”

“And must I have that old crosspatch around me all the time?” wailed the
new king.

“Crosspatch yourself!” screamed Aunt Rivette, shaking her fist at Bud.
“I’ll teach you to crosspatch me when I get you alone!”

Bud shuddered. Then he turned again to Tullydub.

“The king can do what he likes, can’t he?” the boy asked.

“Certainly, your Majesty.”

“Then let the lord high executioner step forward!”

[Illustration: “‘THEN LET THE LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER STEP FORWARD!’”]

“Oh, Bud! What are you going to do?” said Fluff, seizing him tightly by
the arm.

“You let me alone!” answered Bud. “I’m not going to be a king for
nothing. And Aunt Rivette whipped me once—sixteen hard switches! I
counted ’em.”

The executioner was now bowing before him.

“Get a switch,” commanded the king.

The executioner brought a long, slender birch bough.

“Now,” said Bud, “you give Aunt Rivette sixteen good switches.”

“Oh, don’t! Don’t, Bud!” pleaded Meg.

Aunt Rivette fell on her knees, pale and trembling. In agony she raised
her hands.

“I’ll never do it again! Let me off, your Majesty!” she screamed. “Let
me off this once! I’ll never do it again! Never! Never!”

“All right,” said Bud, with a cheery smile. “I’ll let you off this time.
But if you don’t behave, or if you interfere with me or Fluff, I’ll have
the lord high executioner take charge of you. Just remember I’m the
king, and then we’ll get along all right. Now you may go upstairs if you
wish to and pick out a room on the top story. Fluff and I are going to
play.”

With this he laid his crown carefully on the seat of the throne and
threw off his ermine robe.

“Come on, Fluff! We’ve had enough business for to-day,” he said, and
dragged the laughing princess from the room, while Aunt Rivette meekly
followed the lord high steward up the stairs to a comfortable apartment
just underneath the roof.

She was very well satisfied at last; and very soon she sent for the lord
high purse-bearer and demanded money with which to buy some fine clothes
for herself.

This was given her willingly, for the law provided for the comfort of
every relative of the king, and knowing this, Aunt Rivette fully
intended to be the most comfortable woman in the kingdom of Noland.



                              Chapter VII.
                       THE WINGS OF AUNT RIVETTE.


Bud and Meg had plenty to occupy them in looking over and admiring their
new possessions. First they went to the princess’s rooms, where Fluff
ordered her seven maids to spread out all the beautiful gowns she had
received. And forty of them made quite an imposing show, I assure you.
They were all dainty and sweet and of rich material, suitable for all
occasions, and of all colors and shades. Of course there were none with
trains, for Margaret, although a princess, was only a little girl; but
the gowns were gay with bright ribbons and jeweled buttons and clasps;
and each one had its hat and hosiery and slippers to match.

After admiring the dresses for a time, they looked at Bud’s new
clothes—twenty suits of velvets, brocades, and finely woven cloths. Some
had diamonds and precious gems sewn on them for ornaments, while others
were plain; but the poorest suit there was finer than the boy had ever
dreamed of possessing.

There were also many articles of apparel to go with these suits, such as
shoes with diamond buckles, silken stockings, neck laces, and fine
linen; and there was a beautiful little sword, with a gold scabbard and
a jeweled hilt, that the little king could wear on state occasions.

However, when the children had examined the gowns and suits to their
satisfaction, they began looking for other amusement.

“Do you know, Fluff,” said the boy, “there isn’t a single toy or
plaything in this whole palace?”

“I suppose the old king didn’t care for playthings,” replied Fluff,
thoughtfully.

Just then there was a knock at the door, and Aunt Rivette came hobbling
into the room. Her wrinkled old face was full of eagerness, and in her
hands she clasped the purse of golden coins the lord high purse-bearer
had given her.

“See what I’ve got!” she cried, holding out the purse. “And I’m going to
buy the finest clothes in all the kingdom! And ride in the king’s
carriage! And have a man to wait upon me! And make Mammy Skib and
Mistress Kappleson and all the other neighbors wild with jealousy!”

[Illustration: “AFTER ADMIRING THE DRESSES FOR A TIME, THEY LOOKED AT
BUD’S NEW CLOTHES.”]

“I don’t care,” said Bud.

“Why, you owe everything to me!” cried Aunt Rivette. “If I hadn’t
brought you to Nole on the donkey’s back, you wouldn’t have been the
forty-seventh person to enter the gate.”

“That’s true,” said Meg.

But Bud was angry.

“I know it’s true,” he said; “but look here, you mustn’t bother us. Just
keep out of our way, please, and let me alone, and then I won’t care how
many new dresses you buy.”

“I’m going to spend every piece of this gold!” she exclaimed, clasping
the purse with her wrinkled hands. “But I don’t like to go through the
streets in this poor dress. Won’t you lend me your cloak, Meg, until I
get back?”

“Of course I will,” returned the girl; and going to the closet, she
brought out the magic cloak the fairy had given her and threw it over
Aunt Rivette’s shoulders. For she was sorry for the old woman, and this
was the prettiest cloak she had.

[Illustration: “ALMOST BEFORE SHE KNEW IT, AUNT RIVETTE HAD DESCENDED TO
THE ROOF OF THE ROYAL STABLES.”]

So old Rivette, feeling very proud and anxious to spend her money, left
the palace and walked as fast as her tottering legs would carry her down
the street in the direction of the shops. “I’ll buy a yellow silk,” she
mumbled to herself, half aloud, “and a white velvet, and a purple
brocade, and a sky-blue bonnet with crimson plumes! And won’t the
neighbors stare then? Oh, dear! If I could only walk faster! And the
shops are so far! I wish I could fly!”

Now she was wearing the magic cloak when she expressed this wish, and no
sooner had she spoken than two great feathery wings appeared, fastened
to her shoulders.

The old woman stopped short, turned her head, and saw the wings; and
then she gave a scream and a jump and began waving her arms frantically.

The wings flopped at the same time, raising her slowly from the ground,
and she began to soar gracefully above the heads of the astonished
people, who thronged the streets below.

“Stop! Help! Murder!” shrieked Rivette, kicking her feet in great
agitation, and at the same time flopping nervously her new wings. “Save
me, some one! Save me!”

“Why don’t you save yourself?” asked a man below. “Stop flying, if you
want to reach the earth again!”

This struck old Rivette as a sensible suggestion. She was quite a
distance in the air by this time; but she tried to hold her wings steady
and not flop them, and the result was that she began to float slowly
downward. Then, with horror, she saw she was sinking directly upon the
branches of a prickly-pear tree; so she screamed and began flying again,
and the swift movement of her wings sent her high into the air.

So great was her terror that she nearly fainted; but she shut her eyes
so that she might not see how high up she was, and held her wings rigid
and began gracefully to float downward again.

By and by she opened her eyes and found one of her sleeves was just
missing the sharp point of a lightning-rod on a tower of the palace. So
she began struggling and flopping anew, and, almost before she knew it,
Aunt Rivette had descended to the roof of the royal stables. Here she
sat down and began to weep and wail, while a great crowd gathered below
and watched her.

[Illustration: “‘HELP! GET A LADDER!’ WAILED THE OLD WOMAN.”]

“Get a ladder! _Please_ get a ladder!” begged old Rivette. “If you
don’t, I shall fall and break my neck.”

By this time Bud and Fluff had come out to see what caused the
excitement; and, to their amazement they found their old aunt perched
high up on the stable roof, with two great wings growing out from her
back.

For a moment they could not understand what had happened. Then Margaret
cried:

“Oh, Bud, I let her wear the magic cloak! She must have made a wish!”

“Help! Help! Get a ladder!” wailed the old woman, catching sight of her
nephew and niece.

“Well, you _are_ a bird, Aunt Rivette!” shouted Bud, gleefully, for he
was in a teasing mood. “You don’t need a ladder! I don’t see why you
can’t fly down the same way you flew up.” And all the people shouted:
“Yes, yes! The king is right! Fly down!”

Just then Rivette’s feet began to slip on the sloping roof; so she made
a wild struggle to save herself, and the result was that she fluttered
her wings in just exactly the right way to sink down gradually to the
ground.

“You’ll be all right as soon as you know how to use your wings,” said
Bud, with a laugh. “But where did you get ’em, anyhow?”

“I don’t know,” said Aunt Rivette, much relieved to be on earth again,
and rather pleased to have attracted so much attention. “Are the wings
pretty?”

“They are perfectly lovely!” cried Fluff, clapping her hands in glee.
“Why, Aunt Rivette, I do believe you must be the only person in all the
world who can fly!”

[Illustration: “‘WHY, AUNT RIVETTE, I DO BELIEVE YOU MUST BE THE ONLY
PERSON IN ALL THE WORLD WHO CAN FLY!’”]

“But I think you look like an overgrown buzzard,” said Bud.

Now it happened that all this praise, and the wondering looks of the
people, did a great deal to reconcile Rivette to her new wings. Indeed,
she began to feel a certain pride and distinction in them; and, finding
she had through all the excitement retained her grasp on the purse of
gold, she now wrapped the magic cloak around her and walked away to the
shops, followed by a crowd of men, women, and children.



                             Chapter VIII.
                          THE ROYAL RECEPTION.


As for the king and Princess Fluff, they returned to the palace and
dressed themselves in some of their prettiest garments, telling Jikki to
have two ponies saddled and ready for them to ride upon.

“We really _must_ have some toys,” said Meg, with decision; “and now
that we are rich, there is no reason why we can’t buy what we want.”

“That’s true,” answered Bud. “The old king hadn’t anything to play with.
Poor old man! I wonder what he did to amuse himself.”

They mounted their ponies, and, followed by the chief counselor and the
lord high purse-bearer in one of the state carriages, and a guard of
soldiers for escort, they rode down the streets of the city on a
pleasure-jaunt, amid the shouts of the loyal populace.

By and by Bud saw a toy-shop in one of the streets, and he and Fluff
slipped down from their ponies and went inside to examine the toys. It
was a well-stocked shop, and there were rows upon rows of beautiful
dolls on the shelves, which attracted Margaret’s attention at once.

“Oh, Bud,” she exclaimed, “I must have one of these dollies!”

“Take your choice,” said her brother, calmly, although his own heart was
beating with delight at the sight of all the toys arranged before him.

“I don’t know which to choose,” sighed the little princess, looking from
one doll to another with longing and indecision.

“We’ll take ’em all,” declared Bud.

“All! What—all these rows of dollies?” she gasped.

“Why not?” asked the king. Then he turned to the men who kept the shop
and said:

“Call in that old fellow who carries the money.”

When the lord high purse-bearer appeared, Bud said to him:

“Pay the man for all these dolls; and for this—and this—and this—and
this!” and he began picking out the prettiest toys in all the shop, in
the most reckless way you can imagine.

[Illustration: “‘WE’LL TAKE ’EM ALL,’ DECLARED BUD.”]

The soldiers loaded the carriage down with Meg’s dolls, and a big cart
was filled with Bud’s toys. Then the purse-bearer paid the bill,
although he sighed deeply several times while counting out the money.
But the new king paid no attention to old Tillydib; and when the
treasures were all secured the children mounted their ponies and rode
joyfully back to the palace, followed in a procession by the carriage
filled with dolls, and the cart loaded with toys, while Tullydub and
Tillydib, being unable to ride in the carriage, trotted along at the
rear on foot.

Bud had the toys and dolls all carried upstairs into a big room, and
then he ordered everybody to keep out while he and Fluff arranged their
playthings around the room and upon the tables and chairs, besides
littering the floor so that they could hardly find a clear place large
enough for some of their romping games.

“After all,” he said to his sister, “it’s a good thing to be a king!”

“Or even a princess,” added Meg, busily dressing and arranging her
dolls.

They made Jikki bring their dinner to them in the “play-room,” as Bud
called it; but neither of the children could spare much time to eat,
their treasures being all so new and delightful.

Soon after dusk, while Jikki was lighting the candles, the chief
counselor came to the door to say that the king must be ready to attend
the royal reception in five minutes.

“I won’t,” said Bud. “I just won’t.”

“But you _must_, your Majesty!” declared old Tullydub.

“Am I not the king?” demanded Bud, looking up from where he was
arranging an army of wooden soldiers.

“Certainly, your Majesty,” was the reply.

“And isn’t the king’s will the law?” continued Bud.

“Certainly, your Majesty!”

“Well, if that is so, just understand that I won’t come. Go away and let
me alone!”

“But the people expect your Majesty to attend the royal reception,”
protested old Tullydub, greatly astonished. “It is the usual custom, you
know; and they would be greatly disappointed if your Majesty did not
appear.”

“I don’t care,” said Bud. “You get out of here and let me alone!”

“But, your Majesty—”

The king threw a toy cannon at his chief counselor, and the old man
ducked to escape it, and then quickly closed the door.

“Bud,” said the princess, softly, “you were just saying it’s great fun
to be a king.”

“So it is,” he answered promptly.

[Illustration: “THE KING THREW A TOY CANNON AT HIS CHIEF COUNSELOR.”]

“But father used to tell us,” continued the girl, trying a red hat on a
brown-haired doll, “that people in this world always have to pay for any
good thing they get.”

“What do you mean?” said Bud, with surprise.

“I mean if you’re going to be the king, and wear fine clothes, and eat
lovely dinners, and live in a palace, and have countless servants, and
all the playthings you want, and your own way in everything and with
everybody—then you ought to be willing to pay for all these pleasures.”

“How? But how _can_ I pay for them?” demanded Bud, staring at her.

“By attending the royal receptions, and doing all the disagreeable
things the king is expected to do,” she answered.

Bud thought about it for a minute. Then he got up, walked over to his
sister, and kissed her.

“I b’lieve you’re right, Fluff,” he said, with a sigh. “I’ll go to that
reception to-night, and take it as I would take a dose of medicine.”

“Of course you will!” returned Fluff, looking up at him brightly; “and
I’ll go with you! The dolls can wait til to-morrow. Have Jikki brush
your hair, and I’ll get my maids to dress me!”

Old Tullydub was wondering how he might best explain the king’s absence
to the throng of courtiers gathered to attend the royal reception, when,
to his surprise and relief, his Majesty entered the room, accompanied by
the Princess Fluff. The king wore a velvet suit trimmed with gold lace,
and at his side hung the beautiful jeweled sword. Meg was dressed in a
soft white silken gown, and looked as sweet and fair as a lily.

The courtiers and their ladies, who were all wearing their most handsome
and becoming apparel, received their little king with great respect, and
several of the wealthiest and most noble among them came up to Bud to
converse with him.

But the king did not know what to say to these great personages, and so
the royal reception began to be a very stupid affair.

Fluff saw that all the people were standing in stiff rows and looking at
one another uneasily, so she went to Bud and whispered to him.

“Is there a band of musicians in the palace?” the king inquired of
Tellydeb, who stood near.

“Yes, your Majesty.”

“Send for them, then,” commanded Bud.

Presently the musicians appeared, and the king ordered them to play a
waltz. But the chief counselor rushed up and exclaimed:

“Oh, your Majesty! This is against all rule and custom!”

“Silence!” said Bud, angrily. “_I’ll_ make the rules and customs in this
kingdom hereafter. We’re going to have a dance.”

“But it’s so dreadful—so unconventional, your Majesty! It’s so—what
shall I call it?”

“Here! I’ve had enough of this,” declared Bud. “You go and stand in that
corner, with your face to the wall, till I tell you to sit down,” he
added, remembering a time when his father, the ferryman, had inflicted a
like punishment upon him.

Somewhat to his surprise, Tullydub at once obeyed the command, and then
Bud made his first speech to the people.

“We’re going to have a dance,” he said; “so pitch in and have a good
time. If there’s anything you want, ask for it. You’re all welcome to
stay as long as you please and go home when you get ready.”

This seemed to please the company, for every one applauded the king’s
speech. Then the musicians began to play, and the people were soon
dancing and enjoying themselves greatly.

Princess Fluff had a good many partners that evening, but Bud did not
care to dance—he preferred to look on; and, after a time, he brought old
Tullydub out of his corner, and made the chief counselor promise to be
good and not annoy him again.

“But it is my duty to counsel the king,” protested the old man,
solemnly.

“When I want your advice I’ll ask for it,” said Bud.

While Tullydub stood beside the throne, looking somewhat sulky and
disagreeable, the door opened and Aunt Rivette entered the
reception-room. She was clothed in a handsome gown of bright-green
velvet, trimmed with red and yellow flowers, and the wings stuck out
from the folds at her back in a way that was truly wonderful.

Aunt Rivette seemed in an amiable mood. She smiled and curtsied to all
the people, who stopped dancing to stare at her, and she even fluttered
her wings once or twice to show that she was proud of being unlike all
the others present.

[Illustration: “ONE SCREAMED ‘MURDER!’ AND THE OTHER ‘HELP!’”]

Bud had to laugh at her, she looked so funny; and then a mischievous
thought came to him, and he commanded old Tullydub to dance with her.

“But I don’t dance, your Majesty!” exclaimed the horrified chief
counselor.

“Try it; I’m sure you can dance,” returned Bud. “If you don’t know how,
it’s time you learned.”

So the poor man was forced to place his arm about Aunt Rivette’s waist
and to whirl her around in a waltz. The old woman knew as little about
dancing as did Tullydub, and they were exceedingly awkward, bumping into
every one they came near. Presently Aunt Rivette’s feet slipped, and she
would have tumbled upon the floor with the chief counselor had she not
begun to flutter her wings wildly.

So, instead of falling, she rose gradually into the air, carrying
Tullydub with her; for they clung to each other in terror, and one
screamed “Murder!” and the other “Help!” in their loudest voices.

Bud laughed until the tears stood in his eyes; but Aunt Rivette, after
bumping both her own head and that of the chief counselor against the
ceiling several times, finally managed to control the action of her
wings and to descend to the floor again.

As soon as he was released, old Tullydub fled from the room; and Aunt
Rivette, vowing she would dance no more, seated herself beside Bud and
watched the revel until nearly midnight, when the couriers and their
ladies dispersed to their own homes declaring that they had never
enjoyed a more delightful evening.

[Illustration: “JIKKI HAD TO DESCEND THE STAIRS CAUTIOUSLY.”]



                              Chapter IX.
                       JIKKI HAS A WISH GRANTED.


Next morning Aunt Rivette summoned Jikki to her room, and said:

“Take these shoes and clean and polish them; and carry down this tray of
breakfast dishes; and send this hat to the milliner to have the feathers
curled; and return this cloak to the Princess Fluff, with my
compliments, and say I’m much obliged for the loan of it.”

Poor Jikki hardly knew how to manage so many orders. He took the shoes
in his left hand, and the tray of dishes he balanced upon the other
upraised palm. But the hat and cloak were too many for him. So Aunt
Rivette, calling him “a stupid idiot,”—probably because he had no more
hands,—set the plumed hat upon Jikki’s head and spread the cloak over
his shoulders, and ordered him to make haste away.

Jikki was glad enough to go, for the fluttering of Aunt Rivette’s wings
made him nervous; but he had to descend the stairs cautiously, for the
hat was tipped nearly over his eyes, and if he stumbled he would be sure
to spill the tray of dishes.

He reached the first landing of the broad stairs in safety, but at the
second landing the hat joggled forward so that he could see nothing at
all, and one of the shoes dropped from his hand.

“Dear me!” sighed the old man; “I wonder what I shall do now? If I pick
up the shoe I shall drop the dishes; and I can’t set down this tray
because I’m blinded by this terrible hat! Dear—dear! If I’m to be at the
beck and call of that old woman, and serve the new king at the same
time, I shall have my hands full. My hands, in fact, are full now. I
really wish I had half a dozen servants to wait on _me_!”

Jikki knew nothing at all about the magic power of the cloak that fell
from his shoulders; so his astonishment was profound when some one
seized the shoe from his left hand and some one else removed the tray
from his right hand, and still another person snatched the plumed hat
from his head.

But then he saw, bowing and smirking before him, six young men, who
looked as much alike as peas in the same pod, and all of whom wore very
neat and handsome liveries of wine-color, with silver buttons on their
coats.

Jikki blinked and stared at these people, and rubbed his eyes to make
sure he was awake.

“Who are you?” he managed to ask.

“We are your half a dozen servants, sir,” answered the young men,
speaking all together and bowing again.

Jikki gasped and raised his hands with sudden amazement as he gazed in
wonder upon the row of six smart servants.

“But—what—are you doing here?” he stammered.

“We are here to wait upon you, sir, as is our duty,” they answered
respectfully.

Jikki rubbed his left ear, as was his custom when perplexed; and then he
thought it all over. And the more he thought the more perplexed he
became.

“I don’t understand!” he finally said, in a weak voice.

[Illustration: “‘YOU WISHED FOR US, AND HERE WE ARE,’ DECLARED THE
SIX.”]

“You wished for us, and here we are,” declared the six, once more bowing
low before him.

“I know,” said Jikki. “But I’ve often wished for many other things—and
never got a single one of the wishes before!”

The young men did not attempt to explain this curious fact. They stood
in a straight row before their master, as if awaiting his orders. One
held the shoe Jikki had dropped, another its mate, still another the
plumed hat, and a fourth the tray of dishes.

“You see,” remarked Jikki, shaking his head sadly at the six, “I’m only
a servant myself.”

“You are our master, sir!” announced the young men, their voices blended
into one.

“I wish,” said Jikki, solemnly, “you were all back where you came from!”
And then he paused to see if his wish also would be fulfilled. But no;
the magic cloak conferred the fulfilment of but one wish upon its
wearer, and the half a dozen servants remained standing rigidly before
him.

Jikki arose with a sigh.

“Come downstairs to my private room,” he said, “and we’ll talk the
matter over.”

So they descended the grand stairway to the main hall of the grand
palace, Jikki going first and his servants following at a respectful
distance. Just off the hall Jikki had a pleasant room where he could sit
when not employed, and into this he led the six.

After all, he considered, it would not be a bad thing to have half a
dozen servants; they would save his old legs from many a tiresome
errand. But just as they reached the hall a new thought struck him and
he turned suddenly upon his followers:

“See here!” he exclaimed. “How much wages do you fellows expect?”

“We expect no wages at all, sir,” they answered.

“What! nothing at all!” Jikki was so startled that he scarcely had
strength remaining to stagger into his private room and sink into a
chair.

“No wages! Six servants, and no wages to pay!” he muttered. “Why, it’s
wonderful—marvelous—astounding!”

Then he thought to himself: “I’ll try ’em, and see if they’ll really
work.” And aloud he asked:

“How can I tell you apart—one from another?”

Each servant raised his right arm and pointed to a silver badge upon his
left breast; and then Jikki discovered that they were all numbered, from
“one” up to “six.”

“Ah! very good!” said Jikki. “Now, number six, take this shoe into the
boot-room, and clean and polish it.”

Number six bowed and glided from the room as swiftly and silently as if
he were obeying a command of the King of Noland.

“Number five,” continued Jikki, “take this tray to the kitchen.” Number
five obeyed instantly, and Jikki chuckled with delight.

“Number two, take this to the milliner in Royal Street, and have the
feathers curled.”

Number two bowed and departed almost before the words had left Jikki’s
mouth; and then the king’s valet regarded the remaining three in some
perplexity.

“Half a dozen servants is almost too many,” he thought. “It will keep me
busy to keep them busy. I should have wished for only one—or two at the
most.”

Just then he remembered something.

“Number four,” said he, “go after number two and tell the milliner that
the hat belongs to Madam Rivette, the king’s aunt.”

And a few moments later, when the remaining two servants, standing
upright before him, had begun to make him nervous, Jikki cried out:

“Number three, take this other shoe down to the boot-room and tell
number six to clean and polish it also.”

This left but one of the six unoccupied, and Jikki was wondering what to
do with him when a bell rang.

“That’s the king’s bell,” said Jikki.

“I am not the king’s servant; I am here only to wait upon you,” said
number one, without moving to answer the bell.

“Then I must go myself,” sighed the valet, and rushed away to obey the
king’s summons.

Scarcely had he disappeared when Tollydob, the lord high general,
entered the room and said in a gruff voice:

“Where is Jikki? Where’s that rascal Jikki?”

Number one, standing stiffly at one end of the room, made no reply.

“Answer me, you scoundrel!” roared the old general. “Where’s Jikki?”

Still number one stood silent, and this so enraged old Tollydob that he
raised his cane and aimed a furious blow at the young man. The cane
seemed to pass directly through the fellow, and it struck the wall
behind so forcibly that it split into two parts.

This amazed Tollydob. He stared a moment at the silent servant, and then
turned his back upon him and sat down in Jikki’s chair. Here his eyes
fell upon the magic cloak, which the king’s valet had thrown down.

Tollydob, attracted by the gorgeous coloring and soft texture of the
garment, picked up the cloak and threw it over his shoulders; and then
he walked to a mirror and began admiring his reflection.

While thus engaged, Jikki returned, and the valet was so startled at
seeing the lord high general that he never noticed the cloak at all.

“His Majesty has asked to see your Highness,” said Jikki; “and I was
about to go in search of you.”

“I’ll go to the king at once,” answered Tollydob, and as he walked away
Jikki suddenly noticed that he was wearing the cloak. “Oho!” thought the
valet, “he has gone off with the Princess Fluff’s pretty cloak; but when
he returns from the king’s chamber I’ll get it again and send number one
to carry it to its rightful owner.”



                               Chapter X.
                  THE COUNSELORS WEAR THE MAGIC CLOAK.


When Tollydob, still wearing the magic cloak, had bowed before the king,
Bud asked:

“How many men are there in the royal army, general?”

“Seven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven, may it please your
gracious Majesty,” returned Tollydob—“that is, without counting myself.”

“And do they obey your orders promptly?” inquired Bud, who felt a little
doubt on this point.

“Yes, indeed!” answered the general, proudly. “They are terribly afraid
of my anger.”

“And yet you’re a very small man to command so large an army,” said the
king.

The lord high general flushed with shame; for, although he was both old
and fat, he was so short of stature that he stood but a trifle taller
than Bud himself. And, like all short men, he was very sensitive about
his height.

“I’m a terrible fighter, your Majesty,” declared Tollydob, earnestly;
“and when I’m on horseback my small size is little noticed.
Nevertheless,” he added, with a sigh, “it is a good thing to be tall. I
wish I were ten feet high.”

No sooner were the words spoken than Bud gave a cry of astonishment; for
the general’s head shot suddenly upward until his gorgeous hat struck
the ceiling and was jammed down tightly over the startled man’s eyes and
nose.

The room was just ten feet high, and Tollydob was now ten feet tall; but
for a time the old general could not think what had happened to him, and
Bud, observing for the first time that Tollydob wore the magic cloak,
began to shriek with laughter at the comical result of the old man’s
wish.

Hearing the king laugh, the general tore the hat from his head and
looked at himself in mingled terror and admiration.

From being a very small man he had suddenly become a giant, and the
change was so great that Tollydob might well be amazed.

[Illustration: “‘I WISH I WERE TEN FEET HIGH.’”]

“What has happened, your Majesty?” he asked in a trembling voice.

“Why, don’t you see, you were wearing my sister’s magic cloak,” said
Bud, still laughing at the big man’s woeful face; “and it grants to
every wearer the fulfillment of one wish.”

“Only one?” inquired poor Tollydob. “I’d like to be a little smaller, I
confess.”

“It can’t be helped now,” said Bud. “You wished to be ten feet tall, and
there you are! And there you’ll have to stay, Tollydob, whether you like
it or not. But I’m very proud of you. You must be the greatest general
in all the world, you know!”

Tollydob brightened up at this, and tried to sit down in a chair: but it
crushed to pieces under his weight; so he sighed and remained standing.
Then he threw the magic cloak upon the floor, with a little shudder at
its fairy powers, and said:

“If I’d only known, I might have become just six feet tall instead of
ten!”

“Never mind,” said Bud, consolingly. “If we ever have a war, you will
strike terror into the ranks of the enemy, and every one in Noland will
admire you immensely. Hereafter you will be not only the lord high
general, but the lord _very_ high general.”

So Tollydob went away to show himself to the chief counselor; and he had
to stoop very low to pass through the doorway.

When Jikki saw the gigantic man coming out of the king’s chamber, he
gave a scream and fled in terror; and, strange to say, this effect was
very agreeable to the lord high general, who loved to make people fear
him.

Bud ran to tell Fluff of the curious thing that had happened to his
general; and so it was that when the lord high executioner entered the
palace there was no one around to receive him. He made his way into the
king’s chamber, and there he found the magic cloak lying upon the floor.

“I’ve seen the Princess Fluff wearing this,” thought the lord high
executioner; “so it must belong to her. I’ll take it to her rooms, for
it is far too pretty to be lying around in this careless way, and Jikki
ought to be scolded for allowing it.”

So Tellydeb picked up the cloak and laid it over his arm; then he
admired the bright hues that ran through the fabric, and presently his
curiosity got the better of him; he decided to try it on and see how he
would look in it.

While thus employed the sound of a girl’s sweet laughter fell upon
Tellydeb’s ears, seeming to come from a far distance.

“The princess must be in the royal gardens,” he said to himself. “I’ll
go there and find her.”

So the lord high executioner walked through the great hall, still
wearing the cloak, and finally came to the back of the palace and passed
a doorway leading into the gardens. All was quiet here, save for the
song of the birds as they fluttered among the trees; but at the other
end of the garden Tellydeb caught a glimpse of a white gown, which he
suspected might be that of the little princess.

He walked along the paths slowly, enjoying the scent of the flowers and
the peacefulness of the scene; for the lord high executioner was a
gentle-natured man and delighted in beautiful sights.

After a time he reached a fruit-orchard, and saw hanging far up in a big
tree a fine red apple. Tellydeb paused and looked at this longingly.

“I wish I could reach that apple!” he said, with a sigh, as he extended
his arm upward.

Instantly the arm stretched toward the apple, which was at least forty
feet away from the lord high executioner; and while the astonished man
eyed his elongated arm in surprise, the hand clutched the apple, plucked
it, and drew it back to him; and there he stood—the apple in his hand,
and his arm apparently the same as it had been before he accomplished
the wonderful feat.

[Illustration: “‘I WISH I COULD REACH THAT APPLE!’ HE SAID, WITH A SIGH,
AS HE EXTENDED HIS ARM UPWARD.”]

For a moment the counselor was overcome with fear. The cloak dropped
unnoticed from his shoulders and fell upon the graveled walk, while
Tellydeb sank upon a bench and shivered.

“It—it was like magic!” he murmured. “I but reached out my hand—so—it
went nearly to the top of the tree, and—”

Here he gave a cry of wonder, for again his arm stretched the distance
and touched the topmost branches of the tree. He drew it back hastily,
and turned to see if any one had observed him. But this part of the
garden was deserted, so the old man eagerly tested his new
accomplishment.

He plucked a rose from a bush a dozen yards to the right, and having
smelled its odor he placed it in a vase that stood twenty feet to his
left. Then he noted a fountain far across a hedge, and reaching the
distance easily, dipped his hand in the splashing water. It was all very
amazing, this sudden power to reach a great distance, and the lord high
executioner was so pleased with the faculty that when he discovered old
Jikki standing in the palace doorway, he laughingly fetched him a box on
the ear that sent the valet scampering away to his room in amazed
terror.

Said Tellydeb to himself: “Now I’ll go home and show my wife what a
surprising gift I have acquired.”

So he left the garden; and not long afterward old Tallydab, the lord
high steward, came walking down the path, followed by his little dog
Ruffles. I am not certain whether it was because his coat was so shaggy
or his temper so uncertain that Tallydab’s dog was named Ruffles; but
the name fitted well both the looks and the disposition of the tiny
animal. Nevertheless, the lord high steward was very fond of his dog,
which followed him everywhere except to the king’s council-chamber; and
often the old man would tell Ruffles his troubles and worries, and talk
to the dog just as one would to a person.

To-day, as they came slowly down the garden-walk, Tallydab noticed a
splendid cloak lying upon the path.

“How very beautiful!” he exclaimed, as he stooped to pick it up. “I have
never seen anything like this since the Princess Fluff first rode into
Nole beside her brother the king. Isn’t it a lovely cloak, Ruffles?”

The dog gave a subdued yelp and wagged his stubby tail.

“How do I look in it, Ruffles?” continued the lord high steward,
wrapping the folds of the magic cloak about him; “how do I look in such
gorgeous apparel?”

The dog stopped wagging its tail and looked up at its master earnestly.

“How do I look?” again said Tallydab. “I declare, I wish you could
talk!”

“You look perfectly ridiculous,” replied the dog, in a rather harsh
voice.

The lord high steward jumped nearly three feet in the air, so startled
was he by Ruffles’s reply. Then he bent down, a hand on each knee, and
regarded the dog curiously.

“I thought, at first, you had spoken!” said he.

“What caused you to change your mind?” asked Ruffles, peevishly. “I
_did_ speak—I _am_ speaking. Can’t you believe it?”

The lord high steward drew a deep sigh of conviction.

[Illustration: “‘YOU LOOK PERFECTLY RIDICULOUS!’ REPLIED THE DOG.”]

“I believe it!” he made answer. “I have always declared you were a
wonderful dog, and now you prove I am right. Why, you are the only dog I
ever heard of who could talk!”

“Except in fairy tales,” said Ruffles, calmly. “Don’t forget the fairy
tales.”

“I don’t forget,” replied Tallydab. “But this isn’t a fairy tale,
Ruffles. It’s real life in the kingdom of Noland.”

“To be sure,” answered Ruffles. “But see here, my dear master: now that
I am, at last, able to talk, please allow me to ask you for something
decent to eat. I’d like a good meal for once, just to see what it is
like.”

“A good meal!” exclaimed the steward. “Why, my friend, don’t I give you
a big bone every day?”

“You do,” said the dog; “and I nearly break my teeth on it, trying to
crack it to get a little marrow. Whatever induces people to give their
dogs bones instead of meat?”

“Why, I thought you liked bones!” protested Tallydab, sitting on the
bench and looking at his dog in astonishment.

“Well, I don’t. I prefer something to eat—something good and wholesome,
such as you eat yourself,” growled Ruffles.

The lord high steward gave a laugh.

[Illustration: “‘WHY, I THOUGHT YOU LIKED BONES!’ PROTESTED TALLYDAB,
SITTING ON THE BENCH AND LOOKING AT HIS DOG IN ASTONISHMENT.”]

“Why,” said he, “don’t you remember that old Mother Hubbard?”

“Ah! that _was_ a fairy tale,” interrupted Ruffles, impatiently. “And
there wasn’t even a bone in her cupboard, after all. Don’t mention
Mother Hubbard to me, if you want to retain my friendship.”

“And that reminds me,” resumed the steward with a scowl, “that a few
minutes ago you said I looked ridiculous in this lovely cloak.”

“You do!” said Ruffles, with a sniff. “It is a girl’s cloak, and not fit
for a wrinkled old man like you.”

“I believe you are right,” answered Tallydab, with a sigh; and he
removed the cloak from his shoulders and hung it over the back of the
garden seat. “In regard to the meat that you so long for,” he added, “if
you will follow me to the royal kitchen I will see that you have all you
desire.”

“Spoken like a good friend!” exclaimed the dog. “Let us go at once.”

So they passed down the garden to the kitchen door, and the magic cloak,
which had wrought such wonderful things that day, still remained
neglectfully cast aside.

It was growing dusk when old Tillydib, the lord high purse-bearer, stole
into the garden and sat upon the bench to smoke his pipe in peace. All
the afternoon he had been worried by people with bills for this thing or
that, and the royal purse was very light indeed when Tillydib had at
last managed to escape to the garden.

“If this keeps up,” he reflected, “there will be no money left; and then
I’m sure I don’t know what will become of us all!”

The air was chilly. The old counselor shivered a little, and noting the
cloak that lay over the back of the seat, drew it about his shoulders.

“It will be five months,” he muttered half aloud, “before we can tax the
people for more money; and before five months are up the king and his
counselors may all starve to death—even in this splendid palace!
Heigh-ho! I wish the royal purse would always remain full, no matter how
much money I drew from it!”

The big purse, which had lain lightly on his knee, now slid off and
pulled heavily upon the golden chain which the old man wore around his
neck to fasten the purse to him securely.

Aroused from his anxious thoughts, Tillydib lifted the purse to his lap
again, and was astonished to feel its weight. He opened the clasp and
saw that the huge sack was actually running over with gold pieces.

[Illustration: “‘I WISH THE ROYAL PURSE WOULD ALWAYS REMAIN FULL, NO
MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY I DREW FROM IT!’”]

“Now, where on earth did all this wealth come from?” he exclaimed,
shaking his head in a puzzled way. “I’ll go at once and pay some of the
creditors who are waiting for me.”

So he ran to the royal treasury, which was a front room in the palace,
and began paying every one who presented an account. He expected
presently to empty the purse; but no matter how heavily he drew upon the
contents, it remained ever as full as in the beginning.

“It must be,” thought the old man, when the last bill had been paid,
“that my idle wish has in some mysterious way been granted.”

But he did not know he owed his good fortune to the magic cloak, which
he still wore.

As he was leaving the room, he met the king and Princess Fluff, who were
just come from dinner; and the girl exclaimed:

“Why, there is my cloak! Where did you get it, Tillydib?”

“I found it in the garden,” answered the lord high purse-bearer; “but
take it, if it is yours. And here is something to repay you for the loan
of it;” and he poured into her hands a heap of glittering gold.

“Oh, thank you!” cried Fluff; and taking the precious cloak she dropped
the gold into it and carried it to her room.

“I’ll never lend it again unless it is really necessary,” she said to
herself. “It was very careless of Aunt Rivette to leave my fairy cloak
in the garden.”

And then after carefully folding it and wrapping it up she locked it in
a drawer, and hid the key where no one but herself could find it.

[Illustration: “THIS WAS THE MOMENT QUAVO HAD EAGERLY AWAITED.”]



                              Chapter XI.
                            THE WITCH-QUEEN.


It is not very far from the kingdom of Noland to the kingdom of Ix. If
you followed the steps of Quavo the minstrel, you would climb the sides
of a steep mountain-range, and go down on the other side, and cross a
broad and swift river, and pick your way through a dark forest. You
would then have reached the land of Ix and would find an easy path into
the big city.

But even before one came to the city he would see the high marble towers
of Queen Zixi’s magnificent palace, and pause to wonder at its beauty.

Quavo the minstrel had been playing his harp in the city of Nole, and
his eyes were sharp; so he had seen many things to gossip and sing
about, and therefore never doubted he would be warmly welcomed by Queen
Zixi.

He reached the marble palace about dusk, one evening, and was bidden to
the feast which was about to be served.

A long table ran down the length of the lofty hall built in the center
of the palace; and this table was covered with gold and silver platters
bearing many kinds of meats and fruits and vegetables, while tall,
ornamented stands contained sweets and delicacies to tickle the palate.

At the head of the table, on a jeweled throne, sat Queen Zixi herself, a
vision of radiant beauty and charming grace.

Her hair was yellow as spun gold, and her wondrous eyes raven black in
hue. Her skin was fair as a lily, save where her cheek was faintly
tinted with a flush of rose-color.

Dainty and lovely, indeed, was the Queen of Ix in appearance; yet none
of her lords or attendants cast more than a passing glance upon her
beauty. For they were used to seeing her thus.

There were graybeards at her table this evening who could remember the
queen’s rare beauty since they were boys; ay, and who had been told by
their fathers and grandfathers of Queen Zixi’s loveliness when they also
were mere children. In fact, no one in Ix had ever heard of the time
when the land was not ruled by this same queen, or when she was not in
appearance as young and fair as she was to-day. Which easily proves she
was not an ordinary person at all.

And I may as well tell you here that Queen Zixi, despite the fact that
she looked to be no more than sixteen, was in reality six hundred and
eighty-three years of age, and had prolonged her life in this
extraordinary way by means of the arts of witchcraft.

I do not mean by this that she was an evil person. She had always ruled
her kingdom wisely and liberally, and the people of Ix made no manner of
complaint against their queen. If there were a war, she led her armies
in person, clad in golden mail and helmet; and in years of peace she
taught them to sow and reap grain, and to fashion many useful articles
of metal, and to build strong and substantial houses. Nor were her taxes
ever more than the people could bear.

Yet, for all this, Zixi was more feared than loved; for every one
remembered she was a witch, and also knew she was hundreds of years old.
So, no matter how amiable their queen might be, she was always treated
with extreme respect, and folks weighed well their words when they
conversed with her.

[Illustration: “‘STOP!’ CRIED THE QUEEN, WITH SUDDEN EXCITEMENT.”]

Next the queen, on both sides of the table, sat her most favored nobles
and their ladies; farther down were the rich merchants and officers of
the army; and at the lower end were servants and members of the
household. For this was the custom in the land of Ix.

Quavo the harpist sat near the lower end; and, when all had been
comfortably fed, the queen called upon him for a song. This was the
moment Quavo had eagerly awaited. He took his harp, seated himself in a
niche of the wall, and, according to the manner of ancient minstrels, he
sang of the things he had seen in other lands, thus serving his hearers
with the news of the day as well as pleasing them with his music. This
is the way he began:

  “Of Noland now a tale I’ll sing,
  Where reigns a strangely youthful king—
  A boy, who has by chance alone
  Been called to sit upon a throne.
  His sister shares his luck, and she
  The fairies’ friend is said to be;
  For they did mystic arts invoke
  And weave for her a magic cloak
  Which grants its wearer—thus I’m told—
  Gifts more precious far than gold.

  “She’s but to wish, and her desire
  Quite instantly she will acquire;
  And when she lends it to her friends,
  The favor unto them extends.

  “For one who wears the cloak can fly
  Like any eagle in the sky.
  And one did wish, by sudden freak,
  His dog be granted power to speak;
  And now the beast can talk as well
  As I, and also read and spell.
  And—”

“Stop!” cried the queen, with sudden excitement. “Do you lie, minstrel,
or are you speaking the truth?”

Secretly glad that his news was received thus eagerly, Quavo continued
to twang the harp as he replied in verse:

  “Now may I die at break of day,
  If false is any word I say.”

“And what is this cloak like—and who owns it?” demanded the queen,
impetuously.

Sang the minstrel:

  “The cloak belongs to Princess Fluff;
  ’Tis woven of some secret stuff
  Which makes it gleam with splendor bright
  That fills beholders with delight.”

Thereafter the beautiful Zixi remained lost in thought, her dainty chin
resting within the hollow of her hand and her eyes dreamily fixed upon
the minstrel.

[Illustration: “SHE MADE A SOLEMN VOW THAT SHE WOULD SECURE THE MAGIC
CLOAK WITHIN A YEAR.”]

And Quavo, judging that his news had brought him into rare favor, told
more and more wonderful tales of the magic cloak, some of which were
true, while others were mere inventions of his own; for newsmongers, as
every one knows, were ever unable to stick to facts since the world
began.

All the courtiers and officers and servants listened with wide eyes and
parted lips to the song, marveling greatly at what they had heard. And
when it was finally ended, and the evening far spent, Queen Zixi threw a
golden chain to the minstrel as a reward and left the hall, attended by
her maidens.

Throughout the night which followed, she tossed sleeplessly upon her
bed, thinking of the magic cloak and longing to possess it. And when the
morning sun rose over the horizon, she made a solemn vow that she would
secure the magic cloak within a year, even if it cost her the half of
her kingdom.

Now the reason for this rash vow, showing Zixi’s intense desire to
possess the cloak, was very peculiar. Although she had been an adept at
witchcraft for more than six hundred years, and was able to retain her
health and remain in appearance young and beautiful, there was one thing
her art was unable to deceive, and that one thing was a mirror.

[Illustration: “QUEEN ZIXI LEFT THE HALL ATTENDED BY HER MAIDENS.”]

To mortal eyes Zixi was charming and attractive; yet her reflection in a
mirror showed to her an ugly old hag, bald of head, wrinkled, with
toothless gums and withered, sunken cheeks.

For this reason the queen had no mirror of any sort about the palace.
Even from her own dressing-room the mirror had been banished, and she
depended upon her maids and hair-dressers to make her look as lovely as
possible. She knew she was beautiful in appearance to others; her maids
declared it continually, and in all eyes she truly read admiration.

But Zixi wanted to admire herself; and that was impossible so long as
the cold mirrors showed her reflection to be the old hag others would
also have seen had not her arts of witchcraft deceived them.

Everything else a woman and a queen might desire Zixi was able to obtain
by her arts. Yet the one thing she could _not_ have made her very
unhappy.

As I have already said, she was not a bad queen. She used her knowledge
of sorcery to please her own fancy or to benefit her kingdom, but never
to injure any one else. So she may be forgiven for wanting to see a
beautiful girl reflected in a mirror, instead of a haggard old woman in
her six hundred and eighty-fourth year.

Zixi had given up all hope of ever accomplishing her object until she
heard of the magic cloak. The powers of witches are somewhat limited;
but she knew that the powers of fairies are boundless. So if the magic
cloak could grant any human wish, as Quavo’s song had told her was the
case, she would manage to secure it and would at once wish for a
reflection in the mirror of the same features all others beheld—and then
she would become happy and content.



                              Chapter XII.
                        ZIXI DISGUISES HERSELF.


Now, as might be expected, Queen Zixi lost no time in endeavoring to
secure the magic cloak. The people of Ix were not on friendly terms with
the people of Noland; so she could not visit Princess Fluff openly; and
she knew it was useless to try to borrow so priceless a treasure as a
cloak which had been the gift of the fairies. But one way remained to
her—to steal the precious robe.

So she began her preparations by telling her people she would be absent
from Ix for a month, and then she retired to her own room and mixed, by
the rules of witchcraft, a black mess in a silver kettle, and boiled it
until it was as thick as molasses. Of this inky mixture she swallowed
two teaspoonfuls every hour for six hours, muttering an incantation each
time. At the end of the six hours her golden hair had become brown and
her black eyes had become blue; and this was quite sufficient to
disguise the pretty queen so that no one would recognize her. Then she
took off her richly embroidered queenly robes, and hung them up in a
closet, putting on a simple gingham dress, a white apron, and a plain
hat such as common people of her country wore.

[Illustration: “OF THIS INKY MIXTURE SHE SWALLOWED TWO TEASPOONFULS
EVERY HOUR FOR SIX HOURS.”]

When these preparations had been made, Zixi slipped out the back door of
the palace and walked through the city to the forest; and, although she
met many people, no one suspected that she was the queen.

It was rough walking in the forest; but she got through at last, and
reached the bank of the river. Here a fisherman was found, who consented
to ferry her across in his boat; and afterward Zixi climbed the high
mountain and came down the other side into the kingdom of Noland.

She rented a neat little cottage just at the north gateway of the city
of Nole, and by the next morning there was a sign over the doorway which
announced:

                              MISS TRUST’S
                          ACADEMY OF WITCHERY
                           FOR YOUNG LADIES.

Then Zixi had printed on green paper a lot of handbills which read as
follows:

                               Miss Trust,

  A pupil of the celebrated Professor Hatrack of Hooktown-on-the-Creek,
  is now located at Woodbine Villa (North Gateway of Nole), and is
  prepared to teach the young ladies of this city the _Arts of
  Witchcraft_ according to the most modern and approved methods. Terms
  moderate. References required.

These handbills she hired a little boy to carry to all the aristocratic
houses in Nole, and to leave one on each door-step. Several were left on
the different door-steps of the palace, and one of these came to the
notice of Princess Fluff.

“How funny!” she exclaimed on reading it. “I’ll go, and take all my
eight maids with me. It will be no end of fun to learn to be a witch.”

Many other people in Nole applied for instruction in “Miss Trust’s
Academy,” but Zixi told them all she had no vacancies. When, however,
Fluff and her maids arrived, she welcomed them with the utmost
cordiality, and consented to give them their first lesson at once.

When she had seated them in her parlor, Zixi said:

  “If you wish to be a witch,
    You must speak an incantation:
    You must with deliberation
  Say: ‘The when of why is which!’”

“What does that mean?” asked Fluff.

“No one knows,” answered Zixi; “and therefore it is a fine incantation.
Now, all the class will please repeat after me the following words:

  “Erig-a-ma-role, erig-a-ma-ree;
  Jig-ger-nut, jog-ger-nit, que-jig-ger-ee.
  Sim-mer-kin, sam-mer-kin, sem-mer-ga-roo;
  Zil-li-pop, zel-li-pop, lol-li-pop-loo!”

They tried to do this, but their tongues stumbled constantly over the
syllables, and one of the maids began to laugh.

“Stop laughing, please!” cried Zixi, rapping her ruler on the table.
“This is no laughing matter, I assure you, young ladies. The science of
witchcraft is a solemn and serious study, and I cannot teach it you
unless you behave.”

“But what’s it all about?” asked Fluff.

“I’ll explain what it’s about to-morrow,” said Zixi, with dignity. “Now,
here are two important incantations which you must learn by heart before
you come to to-morrow’s lesson. If you can speak them correctly and
rapidly, and above all very distinctly, I will then allow you to perform
a wonderful witchery.”

She handed them each a slip of paper on which were written the
incantations, as follows:

                            Incantation No. 1.
           (To be spoken only in the presence of a black cat.)

  This is that, and that is this;
  Bliss is blest, and blest is bliss.
  Who is that, and what is who;
  Shed is shod, and shud is shoe!

                            Incantation No. 2.
              (To be spoken when the clock strikes twelve.)

  What is which, and which is what;
  Pat is pet, and pit is pat;
  Hid is hide, and hod is hid;
  Did is deed, and done is did!

“Now, there is one thing more,” continued Zixi; “and this is very
important. You must each wear the handsomest and most splendid cloak you
can secure when you come to me to-morrow morning.”

This request made Princess Fluff thoughtful all the way home, for she at
once remembered her magic cloak, and wondered if the strange Miss Trust
knew she possessed it.

She asked Bud about it that night, and the young king said:

“I’m afraid this witch-woman is some one trying to get hold of your
magic cloak. I would advise you not to wear it when she is around, or,
more than likely, she may steal it.”

[Illustration: “‘NOW, THERE IS ONE THING MORE,’ CONTINUED ZIXI, ‘AND
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.’”]

So Fluff did not wear her magic cloak the next day, but selected in its
place a pretty blue cape edged with gold. When she and her maids reached
the cottage, Zixi cried out angrily:

“That is not your handsomest cloak. Go home at once and get the other
one!”

“I won’t,” said Fluff, shortly.

“You must! You must!” insisted the witch-woman. “I can teach you nothing
unless you wear the other cloak.”

“How did you know I had another cloak?” asked the princess,
suspiciously.

“By witchcraft, perhaps,” said Zixi, mildly. “If you want to be a witch
you must wear it.”

“I don’t want to be a witch,” declared Fluff. “Come, girls, come; let’s
go home at once.”

“Wait—wait!” implored Zixi, eagerly. “If you’ll get the cloak I will
teach you the most wonderful things in the world! I will make you the
most powerful witch that ever lived!”

“I don’t believe you,” replied Fluff; and then she marched back to the
palace with all her maids.

But Zixi knew her plot had failed; so she locked up the cottage and went
back again to Ix, climbing the mountain and crossing the river and
threading the forest with angry thoughts and harsh words.

[Illustration: “‘THAT IS NOT YOUR HANDSOMEST CLOAK. GO HOME AT ONCE AND
GET THE OTHER ONE!’”]

Yet the queen was more determined than ever to secure the magic cloak.
As soon as she had reëntered her palace and by more incantations had
again transformed her hair to yellow and her eyes to black and dressed
herself in her royal robes, she summoned her generals and counselors and
told them to make ready to war upon the kingdom of Noland.



                             Chapter XIII.
                     TULLYDUB RESCUES THE KINGDOM.


All soldiers love to fight; so when the army of Ix learned that they
were to go to war, they rejoiced exceedingly over the news.

They polished up their swords and battle-axes, and sewed all the missing
buttons on their uniforms, and mended their socks, and had their hair
cut, and were ready to march as soon as the queen was ready to have them
start.

King Bud of Noland had an army of seven thousand seven hundred and
seventy-seven men, besides a general ten feet high; but the Queen of Ix
had an army more than twice as big, and she decided to lead it in
person, so that when she had conquered the city of Nole she herself
could seize the precious magic cloak which she so greatly coveted.

[Illustration: “QUEEN ZIXI RODE OUT AT THE HEAD OF HER ARMY, CLAD IN A
SUIT OF MAIL.”]

Therefore Queen Zixi rode out at the head of her army, clad in a suit of
mail, with a glittering helmet upon her head that was surmounted by a
flowing white plume. And all the soldiers cheered their queen and had no
doubt at all that she would win a glorious victory.

Quavo the minstrel, who wandered constantly about, was on his way to
Noland again; and while Queen Zixi’s army was cutting a path through the
forest and making a bridge to cross the river, he came speedily by a
little-known path to the city of Nole, where he told Tullydub, the lord
high counselor, what was threatening his king.

So, trembling with terror, Tullydub hastened to the palace and called a
meeting of the five high counselors in the king’s antechamber.

When all were assembled, together with Bud and Fluff, the old man told
his news and cried:

“We shall all be slaughtered and our kingdom sacked and destroyed, for
the army of Ix is twice as big as our own—yes, twice as big!”

“Oh, pooh! What of that?” said Tollydob, scornfully; “have they a
general as tall as I am?”

“Certainly not,” said the chief counselor. “Who ever saw a man as tall
as you are?”

“Then I’ll fight and conquer them!” declared Tollydob, rising and
walking about the room, so that all might see where his head just grazed
the ceiling.

“But you can’t, general; you can’t fight an army by yourself!”
remonstrated Tullydub, excitedly. “And being so big, you are a better
mark for their arrows and axes.”

At this the general sat down rather suddenly and grew pale.

“Perhaps we can buy them off,” remarked the lord high purse-bearer,
jingling the purse that now never became empty.

“No, I’m afraid not,” sighed Tullydub. “Quavo the minstrel said they
were bent upon conquest, and were resolved upon a battle.”

“And their queen is a witch,” added Tallydab, nervously. “We must not
forget that.”

“A witch!” exclaimed Princess Fluff, with sudden interest. “What does
she look like?”

But all shook their heads at the question, and Tullydub explained:

“None of us has ever seen her, for we have never been friendly with the
people of Ix. But from all reports, Queen Zixi is both young and
beautiful.”

[Illustration: “THE GENERAL SAT DOWN SUDDENLY AND GREW PALE.”]

“Maybe it’s the one who wanted to teach me witchcraft in order to steal
my magic cloak!” said Fluff, with sudden excitement. “And when she found
she couldn’t steal it, she went back after her army.”

“What magic cloak do you refer to?” asked Tullydub.

“Why, the one the fairies gave me,” replied Fluff.

“Is it of gorgeous colors with golden threads running through it?” asked
the lord high general, now thoroughly interested.

“Yes,” said the princess, “the very same.”

“And what peculiar powers does it possess?”

“Why, it grants its wearer the fulfillment of one wish,” she answered.

All the high counselors regarded her earnestly.

“Then that was the cloak I wore when I wished to be ten feet high!” said
Tollydob.

“And I wore it when I wished I could reach the apple,” said Tellydeb.

“And I wore it when I wished that my dog Ruffles could speak,” said
Tallydab.

“And I wore it when I wished the royal purse would always remain full,”
said Tillydib.

“I did not know that,” remarked Fluff, thoughtfully. “But I’ll never
forget that I lent it to Aunt Rivette, and that was the time she wished
she could fly!”

“Why, it’s wonderful!” cried old Tullydub. “Has it granted you, also, a
wish?”

“Yes,” said Fluff, brightly. “And I’ve been happy ever since.”

“And has your brother, the king, had a wish?” Tullydub inquired eagerly.

“No,” said Bud. “I can still have mine.”

“Then why doesn’t your Majesty wear the cloak and wish that your army
shall conquer the Queen of Ix’s?” asked the lord high counselor.

“I’m saving my wish,” answered Bud, “and it won’t be that, either.”

“But unless something is done we shall all be destroyed,” protested
Tullydub.

“Then wear the cloak yourself,” said Bud. “You haven’t had a wish yet.”

“Good!” cried the four other counselors; and the lord high general
added: “That will surely save us from any further worry.”

“I’ll fetch the cloak at once,” said Fluff, and she ran quickly from the
room to get it.

“Supposing,” Tullydub remarked hesitatingly, “the magic power shouldn’t
work?”

“Oh, but it will!” answered the general.

“I’m sure it will,” said the steward.

“I know it will,” declared the purse-bearer.

“It cannot fail,” affirmed the executioner; “remember what it has
already done for us!”

Then Fluff arrived with the cloak; and, after considering carefully how
he would speak his wish, the lord high counselor drew the cloak over his
shoulders and said solemnly:

“I wish that we shall be able to defeat our enemies, and drive them all
from the kingdom of Noland.”

[Illustration: “THE LORD HIGH COUNSELOR DREW THE CLOAK OVER HIS
SHOULDERS.”]

“Didn’t you make two wishes instead of one?” asked the princess,
anxiously.

“Never mind,” said the general; “if we defeat them it will be easy
enough to drive them from our kingdom.”

The lord high counselor removed the cloak and carefully refolded it.

“If it grants my wish,” said he, thoughtfully, “it will indeed be lucky
for our country that the Princess Fluff came to live in the palace of
the king.”


The queen formed her men into a line of battle facing the army of Nole,
and they were so numerous in comparison with their enemies that even the
more timorous soldiers gained confidence, and stood up straight and
threw out their chests as if to show how brave they were.

Then Queen Zixi, clad in her flashing mail and mounted upon her
magnificent white charger, rode slowly along the ranks, her white plume
nodding gracefully with the motion of the horse.

And when she reached the center of the line she halted, and addressed
her army in a voice that sounded clear as the tones of a bell and
reached to every listening ear.

“Soldiers of the land of Ix,” she began, “we are about to engage in a
great battle for conquest and glory. Before you lies the rich city of
Nole, and when you have defeated yonder army and gained the gates you
may divide among yourselves all the plunder of gold and silver and
jewels and precious stones that the place contains.”

Hearing this, a great shout of joy arose from the soldiers, which Zixi
quickly silenced with a wave of her white hand.

“For myself,” she continued, “I desire nothing more than a cloak that is
owned by the Princess Fluff. All else shall be given to my brave army.”

“But—supposed we do not win the battle?” asked one of her generals,
anxiously. “What then do we gain?”

“Nothing but disgrace,” answered the queen, haughtily. “But how can we
fail to win when I myself lead the assault? Queen Zixi of Ix has fought
a hundred battles and never yet met with defeat!”

There was more cheering at this, for Zixi’s words were quite true.
Nevertheless, her soldiers did not like the look of that silent army of
Nole standing so steadfastly before the gates and facing the invaders
with calm determination.

Zixi herself was somewhat disturbed at this sight, for she could not
guess what powers the magic cloak had given to the Nolanders. But in a
loud and undaunted voice she shouted the command to advance; and while
trumpets blared and drums rolled, the great army of Ix awoke to action
and marched steadily upon the men of Nole.

Bud, who could not bear to remain shut up in his palace while all this
excitement was occurring outside the city gates, had slipped away from
Fluff and joined his gigantic general, Tollydob. He was, of course,
unused to war, and when he beheld the vast array of Zixi’s army he grew
fearful that the magic cloak might not be able to save his city from
conquest.

Yet the five high counselors, who were all present, seemed not to worry
the least bit.

“They’re very pretty soldiers to look at,” remarked old Tollydob,
complacently. “I’m really sorry to defeat them, they march so
beautifully.”

“But do not let your kind-hearted admiration for the enemy interfere
with our plans,” said the lord high executioner, who was standing by
with his hands in his pockets.

“Oh, I won’t!” answered the big general, with a laugh which was
succeeded by a frown. “Yet I can never resist admiring a fine soldier,
whether he fights for or against me. For instance, just look at that
handsome officer riding beside Queen Zixi—her chief general, I think.
Isn’t he sweet? He looks just like an apple, he is so round and wears
such a tight-fitting red jacket. Can’t you pick him for me, friend
Tellydeb?”

[Illustration: “THE LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER SUDDENLY STRETCHED OUT HIS
LONG ARM, AND REACHED THE FAR-AWAY GENERAL OF IX, AND PULLED HIM FROM
HIS HORSE.”]

“I’ll try.” And the lord high executioner suddenly stretched out his
long arm, and reached the far-away general of Ix, and pulled him from
the back of his horse.

Then, amid the terrified cries that came from the opposing army,
Tellydeb dragged his victim swiftly over the ground until he was seized
by the men of Nole and firmly bound with cords.

“Thank you, my friend,” said the general, again laughing and then
frowning. “Now get for me that pretty queen, if you please.”

Once more the long arm of the lord high executioner shot out toward the
army of Ix. But Zixi’s keen eyes saw it coming, and instantly she
disappeared, her magical arts giving her power to become invisible.

Tellydeb, puzzled to find the queen gone, seized another officer instead
of her and dragged him quickly over the intervening space to his own
side, where he was bound by the Nolanders and placed beside his
fellow-captive.

Another cry of horror came from the army of Ix, and with one accord the
soldiers stopped short in their advance. Queen Zixi, appearing again in
their midst, called upon her wavering soldiers to charge quickly upon
the foe.

But the men, bewildered and terrified, were deaf to her appeals. They
fled swiftly back, over the brow of the hill, and concealed themselves
in the wooded valley until the sun set. And it was far into the night
before Queen Zixi succeeded in restoring her line of battle.



                              Chapter XIV.
                      THE ROUT OF THE ARMY OF IX.


The next day was a busy one in the city of Nole. The ten-foot lord high
general marched his seven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven men
out of the city gates and formed them in line of battle on the brow of a
hill. Then he asked Aunt Rivette to fly over the top of the mountain and
see where the enemy was located.

The old woman gladly undertook the mission. She had by this time become
an expert flier, and, being proud to resemble a bird, she dressed
herself in flowing robes of as many colors as a poll-parrot could boast.
When she mounted into the air, streamers of green and yellow silk
floated behind her in quite a beautiful and interesting fashion, and she
was admired by all beholders.

Aunt Rivette flew high above the mountain-top, and there she saw the
great army of Queen Zixi climbing up the slope on the other side. The
army also saw her, and stopped short in amazement at seeing a woman fly
like a bird. They had before this thought their queen sure of victory,
because she was a witch and possessed many wonderful arts; but now they
saw that the people of Noland could also do wonderful things, and it
speedily disheartened them.

Zixi ordered them to shoot a thousand arrows at Aunt Rivette, but
quickly countermanded the order, as the old woman was too high to be
injured, and the arrows would have been wasted.

When the army of Ix had climbed the mountain and was marching down again
toward Nole, the lord high steward sent his dog Ruffles to them to make
more mischief. Ruffles trotted soberly among the soldiers of Ix, and
once in a while he would pause and say in a loud voice:

“The army of Noland will conquer you.”

Then all the soldiers would look around to see who had spoken these
fearful words, but could see nothing but a little dog; and Ruffles would
pretend to be scratching his nose with his left hind foot, and would
look so innocent that they never for a moment suspected he could speak.

[Illustration: “AND RUFFLES WOULD PRETEND TO BE SCRATCHING HIS NOSE WITH
HIS LEFT HIND FOOT.”]

“We are surrounded by invisible foes!” cried the soldiers; and they
would have fled even then had not Queen Zixi called them cowards and
stubbornly declared that they only fancied they had heard the voices
speak. Some of them believed her, and some did not; but they decided to
remain and fight, since they had come so far to do so.

Then they formed in line of battle again and marched boldly toward the
army of Noland.

While they were still a good way off, and the generals were riding in
front of their soldiers, the lord high executioner suddenly stretched
out his long arm and pulled another general of Ix from his horse, as he
had done the day before, dragging him swiftly over the ground between
the opposing armies until he was seized by the men of Nole and tightly
bound with cords.

The soldiers of Ix uttered murmurs of horror at this sight, and stopped
again.

Immediately the long arm shot out, and pulled another general from their
ranks, and made him prisoner.

Queen Zixi raved and stormed with anger; but the lord high executioner,
who was enjoying himself immensely, continued to grab officer after
officer and make them prisoners: and so far there had been no sign of
battle; not an arrow had been fired nor an ax swung.

Then, to complete the amazement of the enemy, the gigantic ten-foot
general of the army of Nole stepped in front of his men and waved around
his head a flashing sword six feet in length, while he shouted in a
voice like a roar of thunder, that made the army of Ix tremble:

“Forward, soldiers of Noland—forward! Destroy the enemy, and let none
escape!”

[Illustration: “THE GIGANTIC TEN-FOOT GENERAL OF THE ARMY OF NOLE
STEPPED IN FRONT OF HIS MEN.”]

[Illustration: “BUD WAS SO AMUSED AT THE SIGHT OF THE FLYING FOE THAT HE
ROLLED ON THE GROUND IN LAUGHTER.”]

It was more than the army of Ix could bear. Filled with terror, the
soldiers threw down their arms and fled in a great panic, racing over
the mountain-top and down the other side and then scattering in every
direction, each man for himself and as if he feared the entire army of
Noland was at his heels.

But it wasn’t. Not a soldier of Nole had moved in pursuit. Every one was
delighted at the easy victory, and King Bud was so amused at the sight
of the flying foe that he rolled on the ground in laughter, and even the
fierce-looking General Tollydob grinned in sympathy.

Then, with bands playing and banners flying, the entire army marched
back into the city, and the war between Noland and Ix was over.

[Illustration: “‘WHY DO YOU WAIL SO LOUDLY?’ SHE ASKED.”]



                              Chapter XV.
                     THE THEFT OF THE MAGIC CLOAK.


When the soldiers of Queen Zixi ran away, they fled in so many different
directions that the bewildered queen could not keep track of them. Her
horse, taking fright, dashed up the mountain-side and tossed Zixi into a
lilac-bush, after which he ran off and left her.

One would think such a chain of misfortunes could not fail to daunt the
bravest. But Zixi had lived too many years to allow such trifles as
defeat and flight to ruin her nerves; so she calmly disentangled herself
from the lilac-bush and looked around to see where she was.

It was very quiet and peaceful on this part of the mountain-side. Her
glittering army had disappeared to the last man.

In the far distance she could see the spires and turreted palaces of the
city of Nole, and behind her was a thick grove of lilac-trees bearing
flowers in full bloom.

This lilac-grove gave Zixi an idea. She pushed aside some of the
branches and entered the cool, shadowy avenues between the trees.

The air was heavy with the scent of the violet flowers, and tiny
humming-birds were darting here and there to thrust their long bills
into the blossoms and draw out the honey for food. Butterflies there
were, too, and a few chipmunks perched high among the branches. But Zixi
walked on through the trees in deep thought, and presently she had laid
new plans.

For since the magic cloak was so hard to get she wanted it more than
ever.

By and by she gathered some bits of the lilac-bark, and dug some roots
from the ground. Next she caught six spotted butterflies, from the wings
of which she brushed off all the round, purple spots. Then she wandered
on until she came upon a little spring of water bubbling from the
ground, and filling a cup-shaped leaf of the tatti-plant from the
spring, she mixed her bark and roots and butterfly spots in the liquid
and boiled it carefully over a fire of twigs; for tatti-leaves will not
burn so long as there is water inside them.

When her magical compound was ready, Zixi muttered an incantation and
drank it in a single draught.

A few moments later the witch-queen had disappeared, and in her place
stood the likeness of a pretty young girl dressed in a simple white gown
with pink ribbons at the shoulders and a pink sash around her waist. Her
light-brown hair was gathered into two long braids that hung down her
back, and she had two big blue eyes that looked very innocent and sweet.
Besides these changes, both the nose and the mouth of the girl differed
in shape from those of Zixi; so that no one would have seen the
slightest resemblance between the two people, or between Miss Trust and
the girl who stood in the lilac-grove.

The transformed witch-queen gave a sweet, rippling laugh, and glanced at
her reflection in the still waters of the spring. And then the girlish
face frowned, for the image glaring up at her was that of a wrinkled,
toothless old hag.

“I really must have that cloak,” sighed the girl; and then she turned
and walked out of the lilac-grove and down the mountain-side toward the
city of Nole.

The Princess Fluff was playing tennis with her maids in a courtyard of
the royal palace, when Jikki came to say that a girl wished to speak
with her Highness.

“Send her here,” said Fluff.

So the witch-queen came to her, in the guise of the fair young girl; and
bowing in a humble manner before the princess, she said: “Please, your
Highness, may I be one of your maids?”

“Why, I have eight already!” answered Fluff, laughing.

“But my father and mother are both dead; and I have come all the way
from my castle to beg you to let me wait upon you,” said the girl,
looking at the little princess with a pleading expression in her blue
eyes.

“Who are you?” asked Fluff.

“I am daughter of the Lord Hurrydole, and my name is Adlena,” replied
the girl, which was not altogether a falsehood, because one of her
ancestors had borne the name Hurrydole, and Adlena was one of her own
names.

“Then, Adlena,” said Fluff, brightly, “you shall certainly be one of my
maids; for there is plenty of room in the palace, and the more girls I
have around me the happier I shall be.”

So Queen Zixi, under the name of Adlena, became an inmate of the king’s
palace; and it was not many days before she learned where the magic
cloak was kept. For the princess gave her a key to a drawer and told her
to get from it a blue silk scarf she wished to wear, and directly under
the scarf lay the fairy garment.

Adlena would have seized it at that moment had she dared; but Fluff was
in the same room, so she only said: “Please, princess, may I look at
that pretty cloak?”

“Of course,” answered Fluff; “but handle it carefully, for it was given
me by the fairies.”

So Adlena unfolded the cloak and looked at it very carefully, noting
exactly the manner in which it was woven. Then she folded it again,
arranged it in the drawer, and turned the key, which the princess
immediately attached to a chain which she always wore around her neck.

That night, when the witch-queen was safely locked in her own room and
could not be disturbed, she called about her a great many of those
invisible imps that serve the most skilful witches, commanding them to
weave for her a cloak in the exact likeness of the one given Princess
Fluff by the fairies.

Of course the imps had never seen the magic cloak; but Zixi described it
to them accurately, and before morning they had woven a garment so
closely resembling the original that the imitation was likely to deceive
any one.

Only one thing was missing, and that was the golden thread woven by
Queen Lulea herself, and which gave the cloak its magic powers.

Of course the imps of Zixi could not get this golden thread, nor could
they give any magical properties to the garment they had made at the
witch’s command; but they managed to give the cloak all of the many
brilliant colors of the original, and Zixi was quite satisfied.

The next day Adlena wore this cloak while she walked in the garden. Very
soon Princess Fluff saw her and ran after the girl, crying indignantly:
“See here! What do you mean by wearing my cloak? Take it off instantly!”

[Illustration: “‘WHICH IS MINE?’ SHE FINALLY ASKED, IN A STARTLED
VOICE.”]

“It isn’t your cloak. It is one of my own,” replied the girl, calmly.

“Nonsense! There can’t be two such cloaks in the world,” retorted Fluff.

“But there are,” persisted Adlena. “How could I get the one in your
drawer when the key is around your own neck?”

“I’m not sure I don’t know,” admitted the princess, beginning to be
puzzled. “But come with me into my rooms. If my fairy cloak is indeed in
the drawer, then I will believe you.”

So they went to the drawer, and of course found the magic cloak, as the
cunning Zixi had planned. Fluff pulled it out and held the two up
together to compare them; and they seemed to be exactly alike.

“I think yours is a little the longer,” said Adlena, and threw it over
the shoulders of the princess. “No, I think mine is the longer,” she
continued; and removing the magic cloak, put her own upon Fluff. They
seemed to be about the same length, but Adlena kept putting first one
and then the other upon the princess, until they were completely mixed,
and the child could not have told one from the other.

“Which is mine?” she finally asked, in a startled voice.

“This, of course,” answered Adlena, folding up the imitation cloak which
the imps had made, and putting it away in the drawer.

Fluff never suspected the trick, so Zixi carried away the magic cloak
she had thus cleverly stolen; and she was so delighted with the success
of her stratagem that she could have screamed aloud for pure joy.

As soon as she was alone and unobserved, the witch-queen slipped out of
the palace, and, carrying the magic cloak in a bundle under her arm, ran
down the streets of Nole and out through the gate in the wall and away
toward the mountain where the lilac-grove lay.

“At last!” she kept saying to herself. “At last I shall see my own
beautiful reflection in a mirror, instead of that horrid old hag!”

When she was safe in the grove she succeeded, by means of her
witchcraft, in transforming the girl Adlena back into the beautiful
woman known throughout the kingdom of Ix as Queen Zixi. And then she
lost no time in throwing the magic cloak over her shoulders.

“I wish,” she cried in a loud voice, “that my reflection in every mirror
will hereafter show the same face and form as that in which I appear to
exist in the sight of all mortals!”

Then she threw off the cloak and ran to the crystal spring, saying:
“Now, indeed, I shall at last see the lovely Queen Zixi!”

But as she bent over the spring, she gave a sudden shriek of
disappointed rage; for glaring up at her from the glassy surface of the
water was the same fearful hag she had always seen as the reflection of
her likeness!

The magic cloak would grant no wish to a person who had stolen it.

Zixi, more wretched than she had ever been before in her life, threw
herself down upon her face in the lilac-grove and wept for more than an
hour, which is an exceedingly long time for tears to run from one’s
eyes. And when she finally arose, two tiny brooks flowed from the spot
and wound through the lilac-trees—one to the right and one to the left.

Then, leaving the magic cloak—to possess which she had struggled so hard
and sinfully—lying unheeded upon the ground, the disappointed
witch-queen walked slowly away, and finally reached the bank of the
great river.

[Illustration: “SHE THREW OFF THE CLOAK AND RAN TO THE CRYSTAL SPRING.”]

Here she found a rugged old alligator who lay upon the bank, weeping
with such bitterness that the sight reminded Zixi of her own recent
outburst of sorrow.

“Why do you weep, friend?” she asked, for her experience as a witch had
long since taught her the language of the beasts and birds and reptiles.

“Because I cannot climb a tree,” answered the alligator.

“But why do you wish to climb a tree?” she questioned, surprised.

“Because I can’t,” returned the alligator, squeezing two more tears from
his eyes.

“But that is very foolish!” exclaimed the witch-queen, scornfully.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said the alligator. “It doesn’t strike me that it’s
much more foolish than the fancies some other people have.”

“Perhaps not,” replied Zixi, more gently, and walked away in deep
thought.

While she followed the river-bank, to find a ferry across, the dusk
fell, and presently a gray owl came out of a hollow in a tall tree and
sat upon a limb, wailing dismally.

Zixi stopped and looked at the bird.

“Why do you wail so loudly?” she asked.

[Illustration: “‘BECAUSE I CANNOT CLIMB A TREE,’ ANSWERED THE
ALLIGATOR.”]

“Because I cannot swim in the river like a fish,” answered the owl, and
it screeched so sadly that it made the queen shiver.

“Why do you wish to swim?” she inquired.

“Because I can’t,” said the owl, and buried its head under its wing with
a groan.

“But that is absurd!” cried Zixi, with impatience.

The owl had an ear out, and heard her. So it withdrew its head long
enough to retort:

“I don’t think it’s any more absurd than the longings of some other
folks.”

“Perhaps you are right,” said the queen, and hung her head as she walked
on.

By and by she found a ferryman with a boat, and he agreed to row her
across the river. In one end of the boat crouched a little girl, the
ferryman’s daughter, and she sobbed continually, so that the sound of
the child’s grief finally attracted Zixi’s attention.

“Why do you sob?” questioned the queen.

“Because I want to be a man,” replied the child, trying to stifle her
sobs.

“Why do you want to be a man?” asked Zixi, curiously.

“Because I’m a little girl,” was the reply.

This made Zixi angry.

“You’re a little fool!” she exclaimed loudly.

“There are other fools in the world,” said the child, and renewed her
sobs.

[Illustration: “‘WHY DO YOU SOB?’ QUESTIONED THE QUEEN.”]

Zixi did not reply, but she thought to herself:

“We are all alike—the alligator, the owl, the girl, and the powerful
Queen of Ix. We long for what we cannot have, yet desire it not so much
because it would benefit us, as because it is beyond our reach. If I
call the others fools, I must also call myself a fool for wishing to see
the reflection of a beautiful girl in my mirror when I know it is
impossible. So hereafter I shall strive to be contented with my lot.”

This was a wise resolution, and the witch-queen abided by it for many
years. She was not very bad, this Zixi; for it must be admitted that few
have the courage to acknowledge their faults and strive to correct them,
as she did.



                              Chapter XVI.
                      THE PLAIN ABOVE THE CLOUDS.


I have already mentioned how high the mountains were between Noland and
the land of Ix; but at the north of the city of Nole were mountains much
higher—so high, indeed, that they seemed to pierce the clouds, and it
was said the moon often stopped on the highest peak to rest. It was not
one single slope up from the lowlands; but first there was a high
mountain, with a level plain at the top; and then another high mountain,
rising from the level and capped with a second plain; and then another
mountain, and so on; which made them somewhat resemble a pair of stairs.
So that the people of Nole, who looked upon the North Mountains with
much pride, used to point them out as “The Giant’s Stairway,” forgetting
that no giant was ever big enough to use such an immense flight of
stairs.

Many people had climbed the first mountain, and upon the plain at its
top flocks of sheep were fed; and two or three people boasted they had
climbed the second steep; but beyond that the mountains were all unknown
to the dwellers in the valley of Noland. As a matter of fact, no one
lived upon them; they were inhabited only by a few small animals and an
occasional vulture or eagle which nested in some rugged crag.

But at the top of all was an enormous plain that lay far above the
clouds, and here the Roly-Rogues dwelt in great numbers.

I must describe these Roly-Rogues to you, for they were unlike any other
people in all the world. Their bodies were as round as a ball—if you can
imagine a ball fully four feet in thickness at the middle. And their
muscles were as tough and elastic as india-rubber. They had heads and
arms resembling our own, and very short legs; and all these they could
withdraw into their ball-like bodies whenever they wished, very much as
a turtle withdraws its legs and head into its shell.

The Roly-Rogues lived all by themselves in their country among the
clouds, and there were thousands and thousands of them. They were
quarrelsome by nature, but could seldom hurt one another; because, if
they fought, they would withdraw their arms and legs and heads into
their bodies, and roll themselves at one another with much fierceness.
But when they collided they would bounce apart again, and little harm
was done.

In spite of their savage dispositions the Roly-Rogues had as yet done no
harm to any one but themselves, as they lived so high above the world
that other people knew nothing of their existence. Nor did they
themselves know, because of the clouds that floated between, of the
valleys which lay below them.

But, as ill luck would have it, a few days after King Bud’s army had
defeated the army of Ix, one of the Roly-Rogues, while fighting with
another, rolled too near the edge of the plain whereon they dwelt, and
bounded down the mountain-side that faced Noland. Wind had scattered the
clouds, so his fellows immediately rolled themselves to the edge and
watched the luckless Roly-Rogue fly down the mountain, bounce across the
plain, and thence speed down the next mountain. By and by he became a
dot to their eyes, and then a mere speck; but as the clouds had just
rolled away for a few moments the Roly-Rogues could see, by straining
their eyes, the city of Nole lying in the valley far below.

It seemed, from that distance, merely a toy city, but they knew it must
be a big place to show so far away; and since they had no cities of
their own, they became curious to visit the one they had just
discovered.

The ruler of the Roly-Rogues, who was more quarrelsome than any of the
rest, had a talk with his chief men about visiting the unknown city.

“We can roll down the mountain just as our brother did,” he argued.

“But how in the world could we ever get back again?” said one of the
chiefs, sticking his head up to look with astonishment at the ruler.

“We don’t want to get back,” said the other, excitedly. “Some one has
built many houses and palaces at the foot of the mountains, and we can
live in those, if they are big enough and if there are enough of them.”

[Illustration: “ALL THE HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS OF ROLY-ROGUES THAT WERE
IN EXISTENCE ASSEMBLED UPON THE EDGE OF THEIR PLAIN, AND, AT THE WORD OF
THEIR RULER, HURLED THEMSELVES DOWN THE MOUNTAIN WITH TERRIBLE CRIES AND
WENT BOUNDING AWAY TOWARD THE PEACEFUL CITY OF NOLE.”]

“Perhaps the people won’t let us,” suggested another chief, who was not
in favor of the expedition.

“We will fight them and destroy them,” retorted the ruler, scowling at
the chief as if he would make him ashamed of his cowardice.

“Then we must all go together,” said a third chief; “for, if only a few
go, we may find ourselves many times outnumbered and at last be
overcome.”

“Every Roly-Rogue in the country shall go!” declared the ruler, who
brooked no opposition when once he had made up his mind to a thing.

On the plain grew a grove of big thorn-trees, bearing thorns as long and
sharp as swords; so the ruler commanded each of his people to cut two of
the thorns, one for each hand, with which to attack whatever foes they
might meet when they reached the unknown valley.

Then, on a certain day, all the hundreds and thousands of Roly-Rogues
that were in existence assembled upon the edge of their plain, and, at
the word of their ruler, hurled themselves down the mountain with
terrible cries and went bounding away toward the peaceful city of Nole.



                             Chapter XVII.
                    THE DESCENT OF THE ROLY-ROGUES.


King Bud and Princess Fluff were leading very happy and peaceful lives
in their beautiful palace. All wars and dangers seemed at an end, and
there was nothing to disturb their content.

All the gold that was needed the royal purse-bearer was able to supply
from his overflowing purse. The gigantic General Tollydob became famous
throughout the world, and no nation dared attack the army of Noland. The
talking dog of old Tallydab made every one wonder, and people came many
miles to see Ruffles and hear him speak. It was said that all this good
fortune had been brought to Noland by the pretty Princess Fluff, who was
a favorite of the fairies; and the people loved her on this account as
well as for her bright and sunny disposition.

[Illustration: “THE GREAT BALL STRUCK THE FIELD NEAR THEM.”]

King Bud caused his subjects some little anxiety, to be sure; for they
never could tell what he was liable to do next, except that he was sure
to do something unexpected. But much is forgiven a king; and if Bud made
some pompous old nobleman stand on his head, to amuse a mob of people,
he would give him a good dinner afterward and fill his purse with gold
to make up for the indignity. Fluff often reproved her brother for such
pranks, but Bud’s soul was flooded with mischief, and it was hard for
him to resist letting a little of the surplus escape now and then.

After all, the people were fairly content and prosperous, and no one was
at all prepared for the disasters soon to overtake them.

One day, while King Bud was playing at ball with some of his courtiers
on a field outside the city gates, the first warning of trouble reached
him. Bud had batted a ball high into the air, and while looking upward
for it to descend he saw another ball bound from the plain at the top of
the North Mountains, fly into the air, and then sink gradually toward
him. As it approached, it grew bigger and bigger, until it assumed
mammoth proportions; and then, while the courtiers screamed in terror,
the great ball struck the field near them, bounced high into the air,
and came down directly upon the sharp point of one of the palace towers,
where it stuck fast with a yell that sounded almost human.

For some moments Bud and his companions were motionless through surprise
and fear; then they rushed into the city and stood among the crowd of
people which had congregated at the foot of the tower to stare at the
big ball impaled upon its point. Once in a while, two arms, two short
legs, and a head would dart out from the ball and wiggle frantically,
and then the yell would be repeated and the head and limbs withdrawn
swiftly into the ball.

It was all so curious that the people were justified in staring at it in
amazement; for certainly no one had ever seen or heard of a Roly-Rogue
before, or even known such a creature existed.

Finally, as no one else could reach the steeple-top, Aunt Rivette flew
into the air and circled slowly around the ball. When next its head was
thrust out, she called:

“Are you a mud-turtle or a man?”

“I’ll show you which, if I get hold of you,” answered the Roly-Rogue,
fiercely.

“Where did you come from?” asked Aunt Rivette, taking care the wiggling
arms did not grab her.

[Illustration: “‘WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?’ ASKED AUNT RIVETTE.”]

“That is none of your business,” said the RolyRogue. “But I didn’t
intend to come, that you may depend upon.”

“Are you hurt?” she inquired, seeing that the struggles of the creature
made him spin around upon the steeple-point like a windmill.

“No, I’m not hurt at all,” declared the Roly-Rogue; “but I’d like to
know how to get down.”

“What would you do if we helped you to get free?” asked Aunt Rivette.

“I’d fight every one of those idiots who are laughing at me down there!”
said the creature, its eyes flashing wickedly.

“Then you’d best stay where you are,” returned old Rivette, who flew
back to earth again to tell Bud what the Roly-Rogue had said.

“I believe that is the best place for him,” said Bud; “so we’ll let him
stay where he is. He’s not very ornamental, I must say, but he’s very
safe up there on top of the steeple.”

“We might have him gilded,” proposed the old woman, “and then he’d look
better.”

“I’ll think it over,” said the king, and he went away to finish his ball
game.

The people talked and wondered about the queer creature on the steeple,
but no one could say where it came from or what it was; they were
naturally much puzzled.

The next day was bright with sunshine; so, early in the forenoon, Bud
and Fluff had the royal cook fill their baskets with good things to eat,
and set out to picnic on the bank of the river that separated Noland
from the kingdom of Ix. They rode ponies, to reach the river sooner than
by walking; and their only companions were Tallydab, the lord high
steward, and his talking dog, Ruffles.

It was after this picnic party had passed over the mountain, and were
securely hidden from any one in the city of Nole, that the ruler of the
Roly-Rogues and his thousands of followers hurled themselves down from
their land above the clouds and began bounding toward the plain below.

The people first heard a roar that sounded like distant thunder; and
when they looked toward the North Mountains they saw the air black with
tiny bouncing balls that seemed to drop from the drifting clouds which
always had obscured the highest peak.

But, although appearing small when first seen, these balls grew rapidly
larger as they came nearer; and then, with sharp reports like
pistol-shots, they began dropping upon the plain by dozens and hundreds
and then thousands.

As soon as they touched the ground they bounded upward again, like
rubber balls the children throw upon the floor; but each bound was less
violent than the one preceding it, until finally within the streets of
the city and upon all the fields surrounding it lay the thousands of
Roly-Rogues that had fallen from the mountain-peak.

At first they lay still, as if stunned by their swift journey and
collision with the hard earth; but after a few seconds they recovered,
thrust out their heads and limbs, and scrambled upon their flat feet.

Then the savage Roly-Rogues uttered hoarse shouts of joy, for they were
safely arrived at the city they had seen from afar, and the audacious
adventure was a success.



                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                        THE CONQUEST OF NOLAND.


It would be impossible to describe the amazement of the people of Nole
when the Roly-Rogues came upon them.

Not only was the descent wholly unexpected, but the appearance of the
invaders was queer enough to strike terror to the stoutest heart.

Their round bodies were supported by short, strong legs having broad,
flattened feet to keep them steady. Their arms were short, and the
fingers of their hands, while not long, were very powerful.

But the heads were the most startling portions of these strange
creatures. They were flat and thick on the top, with leathery rolls
around their necks; so that, when the head was drawn in, its upper part
rounded out the surface of the ball. In this peculiar head the
Roly-Rogue had two big eyes as shiny as porcelain, a small stubby nose,
and a huge mouth. Their strange leather-like clothing fitted their
bodies closely and was of different colors—green, yellow, red, and
brown.

Taken altogether, the Roly-Rogues were not pretty to look at; and
although their big eyes gave them a startled or astonished expression,
nothing seemed ever to startle or astonish them in the least.

When they arrived in the valley of Nole, after their wonderful journey
down the mountains, they scrambled to their feet, extended their long
arms with the thorns clasped tight in their talon-like fingers, and
rushed in a furious crowd and with loud cries upon the terror-stricken
people.

The soldiers of Tollydob’s brave army had not even time to seize their
weapons; for such a foe, coming upon them through the air, had never
been dreamed of.

And the men of Nole, who might have resisted the enemy, were too much
frightened to do more than tremble violently and gasp with open mouths.
As for the women and children, they fled screaming into the houses and
bolted or locked the doors, which was doubtless the wisest thing they
could have done.

[Illustration: “AS FOR THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN, THEY FLED SCREAMING INTO
THE HOUSES.”]

General Tollydob was asleep when the calamity of this invasion occurred;
but hearing the shouts, he ran out of his mansion and met several of the
Roly-Rogues face to face. Without hesitation the brave general rushed
upon them; but two of the creatures promptly rolled themselves against
him from opposite directions, so that the ten-foot giant was crushed
between them until there was not a particle of breath left in his body.
No sooner did these release him than two other Roly-Rogues rolled toward
him; but Tollydob was not to be caught twice, so he gave a mighty jump
and jumped right over their heads, with the result that the balls
crashed against each other.

This made the two Roly-Rogues so angry that they began to fight each
other savagely, and the general started to run away. But other foes
rolled after him, knocked him down, and stuck their thorns into him
until he yelled for mercy and promised to become their slave.

Tullydub, the chief counselor, watched all this from his window, and it
frightened him so greatly that he crawled under his bed and hid, hoping
the creatures would not find him. But their big round eyes were sharp at
discovering things; so the Roly-Rogues had not been in Tullydub’s room
two minutes before he was dragged from beneath his bed, and prodded with
thorns until he promised obedience to the conquerors.

The lord high purse-bearer, at the first alarm, dug a hole in the garden
of the royal palace and buried his purse so no one could find it but
himself. But he might have saved himself this trouble, for the
Roly-Rogues knew nothing of money or its uses, being accustomed to
seizing whatever they desired without a thought of rendering payment for
it.

Having buried his purse, old Tillydib gave himself up to the invaders as
their prisoner; and this saved him the indignity of being conquered.

[Illustration: “OTHER FOES ROLLED AFTER HIM AND KNOCKED HIM DOWN.”]

The lord high executioner may really be credited with making the only
serious fight of the day; for when the Roly-Rogues came upon him,
Tellydeb seized his ax, and, before the enemy could come near, he
reached out his long arm and cleverly sliced the heads off several of
their round bodies.

The others paused for a moment, being unused to such warfare and not
understanding how an arm could reach so far.

But, seeing their heads were in danger, about a hundred of the creatures
formed themselves into balls and rolled upon the executioner in a
straight line, hoping to crush him.

They could not see what happened after they began to roll, their heads
being withdrawn; but Tellydeb watched them speed toward him, and,
stepping aside, he aimed a strong blow with his ax at the body of the
first Roly-Rogue that passed him. Instead of cutting the rubber-like
body, the ax bounced back and flew from Tellydeb’s hand into the air,
falling farther away than the long arm of the executioner could reach.
Therefore he was left helpless, and was wise enough to surrender without
further resistance.

Finding no one else to resist them, the Roly-Rogues contented themselves
with bounding against the terrorized people, great and humble alike, and
knocking them over, laughing boisterously at the figures sprawling in
the mud of the streets.

And then they would prick the bodies of the men with their sharp thorns,
making them spring to their feet again with shrieks of fear, only to be
bowled over again the next minute.

But the monsters soon grew weary of this amusement, for they were
anxious to explore the city they had so successfully invaded. They
flocked into the palace and public buildings, and gazed eagerly at the
many beautiful and, to them, novel things that were found. The mirrors
delighted them, and they fought one another for the privilege of
standing before the glasses to admire the reflection of their horrid
bodies.

They could not sit in the chairs, for the round bodies would not fit
them; neither could the Roly-Rogues understand the use of beds. For when
they rested or slept the creatures merely withdrew their limbs and
heads, rolled over upon their backs, and slept soundly—no matter where
they might be.

The shops were all entered and robbed of their wares, the Roly-Rogues
wantonly destroying all that they could not use. They were like
ostriches in eating anything that looked attractive to them; one of the
monsters swallowed several pretty glass beads, and some of the more
inquisitive of them invaded the grocery-shops and satisfied their
curiosity by tasting of nearly everything in sight. It was funny to see
their wry faces when they sampled the salt and vinegar.

[Illustration: “STEPPING ASIDE, TELLYDEB AIMED A STRONG BLOW WITH HIS AX
AT THE BODY OF THE FIRST ROLY-ROUGE.”]

Presently the entire city was under the dominion of the Roly-Rogues, who
forced the unhappy people to wait upon them and amuse them; and if any
hesitated to obey their commands, the monsters would bump against them,
pull their hair, and make them suffer most miserably.

Aunt Rivette was in her room at the top of the palace when the
Roly-Rogues invaded the city of Nole. At first she was as much
frightened as the others; but she soon remembered she could escape the
creatures by flying; so she quietly watched them from the windows. By
and by, as they explored the palace, they came to Aunt Rivette’s room
and broke in the door; but the old woman calmly stepped out of her
window upon a little iron balcony, spread her great wings, and flew away
before the Roly-Rogues could catch her.

Then she soared calmly through the air, and having remembered that Bud
and Fluff had gone to the river on a picnic, she flew swiftly in that
direction and before long came to where the children and old Tallydab
were eating their luncheon, while the dog Ruffles, who was in good
spirits, sang a comic song to amuse them.

They were much surprised to see Aunt Rivette flying toward them; but
when she alighted and told Bud that his kingdom had been conquered by
the Roly-Rogues and all his people enslaved, the little party was so
astonished that they stared at one another in speechless amazement.

“Oh, Bud, what shall we do?” finally asked Fluff, in distress.

“Don’t know,” said Bud, struggling to swallow a large piece of sandwich
that in his excitement had stuck fast in his throat.

“One thing is certain,” remarked Aunt Rivette, helping herself to a
slice of cake, “our happy lives are now ruined forever. We should be
foolish to remain here; and the sooner we escape to some other country
where the Roly-Rogues cannot find us, the safer we shall be.”

“But why run away?” asked Bud. “Can’t something else be done? Here,
Tallydab, you’re one of my counselors. What do you say about this
affair?”

Now the lord high steward was a deliberate old fellow, and before he
replied he dusted the crumbs from his lap, filled and lighted his long
pipe, and smoked several whiffs in a thoughtful manner.

“It strikes me,” said he at last, “that by means of the Princess Fluff’s
magic cloak we can either destroy or scatter these rascally invaders and
restore the kingdom to peace and prosperity.”

[Illustration: “‘BUT WHERE’S THE CLOAK?’ ASKED THE DOG.”]

“Sure enough!” replied Bud. “Why didn’t we think of that before?”

“You will have to make the wish, Bud,” said Fluff, “for all the rest of
us have wished, and you have not made yours yet.”

“All right,” answered the king. “If I must, I must. But I’m sorry I have
to do it now, for I was saving my wish for something else.”

“But where’s the cloak?” asked the dog, rudely breaking into the
conversation. “You can’t wish without the cloak.”

“The cloak is locked up in a drawer in my room at the palace,” said
Fluff.

“And our enemies have possession of the palace,” continued Tallydab,
gloomily. “Was there ever such ill luck!”

“Never mind,” said Aunt Rivette, “I’ll fly back and get it—that is, if
the Roly-Rogues haven’t already broken open the drawer and discovered
the cloak.”

“Please go at once, then!” exclaimed Fluff. “Here is the key,” and she
unfastened it from the chain at her neck and handed it to her aunt. “But
be careful, whatever you do, that those horrible creatures do not catch
you.”

“I’m not afraid,” said Aunt Rivette, confidently. And taking the key,
the old lady at once flew away in the direction of the city of Nole,
promising to return very soon.



                              Chapter XIX.
                      THE BRAVERY OF AUNT RIVETTE.


The Roly-Rogues were so busy rioting that they did not look into the air
and discover Aunt Rivette flying over the city. So she alighted, all
unobserved, upon a balcony of the palace, just outside the chamber of
the Princess Fluff, and succeeded in entering the room.

The creatures had ransacked this apartment, as they had every other part
of the royal palace, and Fluff’s pretty dresses and ornaments were
strewn about in dreadful confusion. But the drawer in which rested the
magic cloak was still locked, and in a few moments the old woman had the
precious garment in her hands.

It was, as we know, the imitation cloak Queen Zixi had made and
exchanged for the real one; but so closely did it resemble the fairy
cloak that Aunt Rivette had no idea she was carrying a useless garment
back to her little niece and nephew. On the contrary, she thought to
herself: “Now we can quickly dispose of these monstrous rogues and drive
them back to their own country.”

Hearing some one moving about in the next room, she ran to the window
and soon was flying away with the cloak to the place where she had left
Bud and Fluff.

“Good!” cried the lord high steward, when he saw the cloak. “Now we have
nothing more to fear. Put on your cloak, your Majesty, and make the
wish.”

Bud threw the cloak over his shoulders.

“What shall I wish?” he asked.

“Let me see,” answered Tallydab. “What we want is to get rid of these
invaders. Wish them all in the kingdom of Ix.”

“Oh, no!” cried Fluff; “it would be wicked to injure Queen Zixi and her
people. Let us wish the Roly-Rogues back where they came from.”

“That would be folly!” said the dog Ruffles, with an accent of scorn.
“For they could easily return again to our city of Nole, having once
learned the way there.”

“That is true,” agreed Aunt Rivette. “The safest thing to do is to wish
them all dead.”

“But it would be an awful job to bury so many great balls,” objected
Bud. “It would keep all our people busy for a month, at least.”

“Why not wish them dead and buried?” asked Ruffles. “Then they would be
out of the way for good and all.”

“A capital idea!” responded Tallydab.

“But I haven’t seen these curious creatures yet,” said Bud; “and if I
now wish them all dead and buried, I shall never get a glimpse of one of
them. So let’s walk boldly into the city, and when they appear to
interfere with us I’ll make the wish and the Roly-Rogues will instantly
disappear.”

So the entire party returned to the city of Nole; Bud and Fluff riding
their ponies, Aunt Rivette fluttering along beside them, and the lord
high steward walking behind with his dog.

The Roly-Rogues were so much surprised to see this little party boldly
entering the streets of the city, and showing no particle of fear of
them, that they at first made no offer to molest them.

Even when Bud roared with laughter at their queer appearance, and called
them “mud-turtles” and “foot-balls,” they did not resent the insults;
for they had never heard of either a turtle or a foot-ball before.

[Illustration: “HE MADE OLD TULLYDUB, THE LORD COUNSELOR, ROCK HIM
GENTLY AS HE LAY UPON HIS BACK.”]

When the party had reached the palace and the children had dismounted,
Bud laughed yet louder; for the gigantic General Tollydob came to the
kitchen door, wearing an apron while he polished a big dish-pan, the
Roly-Rogues having made him a scullion.

[Illustration: “JIKKI WAS SCRATCHING THE BACK OF ANOTHER ROLY-ROGUE.”]

The ruler of the Roly-Rogues was suffering from a toothache, so he had
rolled himself into a ball and made old Tullydub, the lord high
counselor, rock him gently as he lay upon his back, just as one would
rock a baby’s cradle.

[Illustration: “THE LORD HIGH PURSE-BEARER WAS WAVING A FAN.”]

Jikki was scratching the back of another Roly-Rogue with a sharp
garden-rake, while Jikki’s six servants stood in a solemn row at his
back. They would do anything for Jikki, but they would not lift a finger
to serve any one else; so the old valet had to do the scratching
unaided.

These six young men had proved a great puzzle to the Roly-Rogues, for
they found it impossible to touch them or injure them in any way; so,
after several vain attempts to conquer them, they decided to leave
Jikki’s servants alone.

The lord high purse-bearer was waving a fan to keep the flies off two of
the slumbering monsters; and the lord high executioner was feeding
another Roly-Rogue with soup from a great ladle, the creature finding
much amusement in being fed in this manner.

King Bud, feeling sure of making all his enemies disappear with a wish,
found rare sport in watching his periwigged counselors thus serving
their captors; so he laughed and made fun of them until the Roly-Rogue
ruler stuck his head out and commanded the boy to run away.

“Why, you ugly rascal, I’m the King of Noland,” replied Bud; “so you’d
better show me proper respect.”

With that he picked up a good-sized pebble and threw it at the ruler. It
struck him just over his aching tooth, and with a roar of anger the
Roly-Rogue bounded toward Bud and his party.

The assault was so sudden that they had much ado to scramble out of the
way; and as soon as Bud could escape the rush of the huge ball, he
turned squarely around and shouted:

“I wish every one of the Roly-Rogues dead and buried!”

[Illustration: “THE LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER WAS FEEDING ANOTHER ROLY-ROGUE
WITH SOUP FROM A GREAT LADLE.”]

Hearing this and seeing that the king wore the magic cloak, all the high
counselors at once raised a joyful shout, and Fluff and Bud gazed upon
the Roly-Rogues expectantly, thinking that of course they would
disappear.

But Zixi’s cloak had no magic powers whatever; and now dozens of the
Roly-Rogues, aroused to anger, bounded toward Bud’s little party.

[Illustration: “THE LORD HIGH STEWARD AND HIS DOG WENT DOWN BEFORE THE
RUSH.”]

I am sure the result would have been terrible had not Aunt Rivette
suddenly come to the children’s rescue. She threw one lean arm around
Bud and the other around Fluff, and then, quickly fluttering her wings,
she flew with them to the roof of the palace, which they reached in
safety.

The lord high steward and his dog went down before the rush, and the
next moment old Tallydab was crying loudly for mercy, while Ruffles
limped away to a safe spot beneath a bench under an apple-tree, howling
at every step and shouting angry epithets at the Roly-Rogues.

“I wonder what’s the matter with the cloak,” gasped Bud. “The old
thing’s a fraud; it didn’t work.”

“Something went wrong, that’s certain,” replied Fluff. “You’re sure you
hadn’t wished before, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m sure,” said Bud.

“Perhaps,” said Aunt Rivette, “the fairies have no power over these
horrible creatures.”

“That must be it, of course,” said the princess. “But what shall we do
now? Our country is entirely conquered by these monsters; so it isn’t a
safe place for us to stay in.”

“I believe I can carry you anywhere you’d like to go,” said Aunt
Rivette. “You’re not so very heavy.”

[Illustration: “‘I’LL SOON CARRY YOU OVER THE MOUNTAIN AND THE RIVER
INTO THE KINGDOM OF IX.’”]

“Suppose we go to Queen Zixi, and ask her to protect us?” the princess
suggested.

“That’s all right, if she doesn’t bear us a grudge. You know we knocked
out her whole army,” remarked Bud.

“Quavo the minstrel says she is very beautiful, and kind to her people,”
said the girl.

“Well, there’s no one else we can trust,” Bud answered gloomily; “so we
may as well try Zixi. But if you drop either of us on the way, Aunt
Rivette, I’ll have to call in the lord high executioner.”

“Never fear,” replied the old woman. “If I drop you, you’ll never know
what has happened. So each one of you put an arm around my neck, and
cling tight, and I’ll soon carry you over the mountain and the river
into the kingdom of Ix.”



                              Chapter XX.
                   IN THE PALACE OF THE WITCH-QUEEN.


Bud and Fluff were surprised at the magnificence of the city of Ix. The
witch-queen had reigned there so many centuries that she found plenty of
time to carry out her ideas; and the gardens, shrubbery, and buildings
were beautifully planned and cared for.

The splendid palace of the queen was in the center of a delightful park,
with white marble walks leading up to the front door.

Aunt Rivette landed the children at the entrance to this royal park, and
they walked slowly toward the palace, admiring the gleaming white
statues, the fountains and flowers, as they went.

It was beginning to grow dusk, and the lights were gleaming in the
palace window when they reached it. Dozens of liveried servants were
standing near the entrance, and some of these escorted the strangers
with much courtesy to a reception room. There a gray-haired master of
ceremonies met them and asked in what way he might serve them.

This politeness almost took Bud’s breath away, for he had considered
Queen Zixi in the light of an enemy rather than a friend; but he decided
not to sail under false colors, so he drew himself up in royal fashion
and answered:

“I am King Bud of Noland, and this is my sister, Princess Fluff, and my
Aunt Rivette. My kingdom has been conquered by a horde of monsters, and
I have come to the Queen of Ix to ask her assistance.”

The master of ceremonies bowed low and said:

“I’m sure Queen Zixi will be glad to assist your Majesty. Permit me to
escort you to rooms, that you may prepare for an interview with her as
soon a she can receive you.”

So they were led to luxurious chambers, and were supplied with perfumed
baths and clean raiment, which proved very refreshing after their
tedious journey through the air.

It was now evening; and when they were ushered into the queen’s
reception-room the palace was brilliantly lighted.

Zixi, since her great disappointment in the lilac-grove, had decided
that her longing to behold a beautiful reflection in her mirror was both
impossible and foolish; so she had driven the desire from her heart and
devoted herself to ruling her kingdom wisely, as she had ruled before
the idea of stealing the magic cloak had taken possession of her. And
when her mind was in normal condition the witch-queen was very sweet and
agreeable in disposition.

So Queen Zixi greeted Bud and his sister and aunt with great kindness,
kissing Fluff affectionately upon her cheek and giving her own hand to
Bud to kiss.

It is not strange that the children considered her the most beautiful
person they had ever beheld; and to them she was as gentle as beautiful,
listening with much interest to their tale of the invasion of the
Roly-Rogues, and promising to assist them by every means in her power.

This made Bud somewhat ashamed of his past enmity; so he said bluntly:
“I am sorry we defeated your army and made them run.”

[Illustration: “QUEEN ZIXI GREETED BUD AND HIS SISTER AND AUNT WITH
GREAT KINDNESS.”]

“Why, that was the only thing you could do, when I had invaded your
dominion,” answered Zixi. “I admit that you were in the right, and that
I deserved my defeat.”

“But why did you try to conquer us?” asked Fluff.

“Because I wanted to secure the magic cloak, of which I had heard so
much,” returned the queen, frankly.

“Oh!” said the girl.

“But, of course, you understand that if I had known the magic cloak
could not grant any more wishes, I would not have been so eager to
secure it,” continued Zixi.

“No,” said Bud; “the old thing won’t work any more; and we nearly got
captured by the Roly-Rogues before we found it out.”

“Oh, have you the cloak again?” asked Zixi, with a look of astonishment.

“Yes, indeed,” returned the princess; “it was locked up in my drawer,
and Aunt Rivette managed to get it for me before the Roly-Rogues could
find it.”

“Locked in your drawer?” repeated the witch-queen, musingly. “Then, I am
sorry to say, you have not the fairy cloak at all, but the imitation
one.”

“What do you mean?” asked Fluff, greatly surprised.

“Why, I must make a confession,” said Zixi, with a laugh. “I tried many
ways to steal your magic cloak. First, I came to Nole as ‘Miss Trust.’
Do you remember?”

“Oh, yes!” cried Fluff; “and I mistrusted you from the first.”

“And then I sent my army to capture the cloak. But, when both of these
plans failed, I disguised myself as the girl Adlena.”

“Adlena!” exclaimed the princess. “Why, I’ve often wondered what became
of my maid Adlena, and why she left me so suddenly and mysteriously.”

“Well, she exchanged an imitation cloak for the one the fairies had
given you,” said Zixi, with a smile. “And then she ran away with the
precious garment, leaving in your drawer a cloak that resembled the
magic garment but had no magical charms.”

“How dreadful!” said Fluff.

“But it did me no good,” went on the queen, sadly; “for when I made a
wish the cloak could not grant it.”

“Because it was stolen!” cried the girl, eagerly. “The fairy who gave it
to me said that if the cloak was stolen it would never grant a wish to
the thief.”

“Oh,” said Zixi, astonished, “I did not know that.”

“Of course not,” Fluff replied, with a rather triumphant smile. “But if
you had only come to me and told me frankly that you wanted to use the
cloak, I would gladly have lent it to you, and then you could have had
your wish.”

“Well, well!” said Zixi, much provoked with herself. “To think I have
been so wicked all for nothing, when I might have succeeded without the
least trouble had I frankly asked for what I wanted!”

“But—see here!” said Bud, beginning to understand the tangle of events;
“I must have worn the imitation cloak when I made my wish, and that was
the reason that my wish didn’t come true.”

“To be sure,” rejoined Fluff. “And so it is nothing but the imitation
cloak we have brought here.”

“No wonder it would not destroy and bury the Roly-Rogues!” declared the
boy, sulkily. “But if this is the imitation, where, then, is the real
magic cloak?”

“Why, I believe I left it in the lilac-grove,” replied Zixi.

“Then we must find it at once,” said Bud; “for only by its aid can we
get rid of those Roly-Rogues.”

“And afterward I will gladly lend it to you also; I promise now to lend
it to you,” said Fluff, turning to the queen; “and your wish will be
fulfilled, after all—whatever it may be.”

[Illustration: “‘BECAUSE IT WAS STOLEN!’ CRIED THE GIRL, EAGERLY.”]

This expression of kindness and good will brought great joy to Zixi, and
she seized the generous child in her arms and kissed her with real
gratitude.

“We will start for the lilac-grove to-morrow morning,” she exclaimed
delightedly; “and before night both King Bud and I will have our wishes
fulfilled!”

Then the witch-queen led them to her royal banquet-hall, where a most
delightful dinner was served. And all the courtiers and officers of Zixi
bowed low, first before the King of Noland and then before his sweet
little sister, and promised them the friendship of the entire kingdom of
Ix.

Quavo the wandering minstrel chanced to be present that evening, and he
sang a complimentary song about King Bud; and a wonderful song about the
“Flying Lady,” meaning Aunt Rivette; and a beautiful song about the
lovely Princess Fluff.

So every one was happy and contented, as they all looked forward to the
morrow to regain the magic cloak, and by its means to bring an end to
all their worries.

[Illustration: “‘NO, INDEED,’ ANSWERED THE GRAY OWL. ‘I BELIEVE I AM
SAFER IN A TREE.’”]



                              Chapter XXI.
                    THE SEARCH FOR THE MAGIC CLOAK.


The sun had scarcely risen next morning when our friends left the city
of Ix in search of the magic cloak. All were mounted on strong horses,
with a dozen soldiers riding behind to protect them from harm, while the
royal steward of the witch-queen followed with two donkeys laden with
hampers of provisions from which to feed the travelers on their way.

It was a long journey to the wide river, but they finally reached it,
and engaged the ferryman to take them across. The ferryman did not like
to visit the other shore, which was in the kingdom of Noland; for
several of the Roly-Rogues had already been seen upon the mountain-top.
But the guard of soldiers reassured the man; so he rowed his big boat
across with the entire party, and set them safely on the shore. The
ferryman’s little daughter was in the boat, but she was not sobbing
to-day. On the contrary, her face was all smiles.

“Do you not still wish to be a man?” asked Zixi, patting the child’s
head.

“No, indeed!” answered the little maid. “For I have discovered all men
must work very hard to support their wives and children, and to buy them
food and raiment. So I have changed my mind about becoming a man,
especially as that would be impossible.”

It was not far from the ferry to the grove of lilacs, and as they rode
along Zixi saw the gray owl sitting contentedly in a tree and pruning
its feathers.

“Are you no longer wailing because you cannot swim in the river?” asked
the witch-queen, speaking in the owl language.

“No, indeed,” answered the gray owl. “For, as I watched a fish swimming
in the water, a man caught it on a sharp hook, and the fish was killed.
I believe I’m safer in a tree.”

“I believe so, too,” said Zixi, and rode along more thoughtfully; for
she remembered her own desire, and wondered if it would also prove
foolish.

Just as they left the river-bank she noticed the old alligator sunning
himself happily upon the bank.

[Illustration: “‘OF COURSE,’ ANSWERED THE ALLIGATOR, OPENING ONE EYE TO
OBSERVE HIS QUESTIONER.”]

“Have you ceased weeping because you cannot climb a tree?” asked the
witch-queen.

“Of course,” answered the alligator, opening one eye to observe his
questioner. “For a boy climbed a tree near me yesterday and fell out of
it and broke his leg. It is quite foolish to climb trees. I’m sure I am
safer in the water.”

Zixi made no reply, but she agreed with the alligator, who called after
her sleepily:

“Isn’t it fortunate we cannot have everything we are stupid enough to
wish for?”

Shortly afterward they left the river-bank and approached the
lilac-grove, the witch-queen riding first through the trees to show the
place where she had dropped the magic cloak. She knew it was near the
little spring where she had gazed at her reflection in the water; but,
although they searched over every inch of ground, they could discover no
trace of the lost cloak.

“It is really too bad!” exclaimed Zixi, with vexation. “Some one must
have come through the grove and taken the cloak away.”

“But we must find it,” said Bud, earnestly; “for otherwise I shall not
be able to rescue my people from the Roly-Rogues.”

“Let us inquire of every one we meet if they have seen the cloak,”
suggested Princess Fluff. “In that way we may discover who has taken
it.”

So they made a camp on the edge of the grove, and for two days they
stopped and questioned all who passed that way. But none had ever seen
or heard of a cloak like that described.

[Illustration: “‘WE HAVE LOST A BEAUTIFUL CLOAK IN THE LILAC-GROVE,’
SAID QUEEN ZIXI TO THE SHEPHERD.”]

Finally an old shepherd came along, hobbling painfully after a flock of
five sheep; for he suffered much from rheumatism.

“We have lost a beautiful cloak in the lilac-grove,” said Zixi to the
shepherd.

“When did you lose it?” asked the old man, pausing to lean upon his
stick.

“Several days ago,” returned the queen. “It was bright as the rainbow,
and woven with threads finer than—”

“I know, I know!” interrupted the shepherd, “for I myself found it lying
upon the ground beneath the lilac-trees.”

“Hurrah!” cried Bud, gleefully; “at last we have found it!” And all the
others were fully as delighted as he was.

“But where have you put the cloak?” inquired Zixi.

“Why, I gave it to Dame Dingle, who lives under the hill yonder,”
replied the man, pointing far away over the fields; “and she gave me in
exchange some medicine for my rheumatism, which has made the pain
considerably worse. So to-day I threw the bottle into the river.”

They did not pause to listen further to the shepherd’s talk, for all
were now intent on reaching the cottage of Dame Dingle.

So the soldiers saddled the horses, and in a few minutes they were
galloping away toward the hill. It was a long ride, over rough ground;
but finally they came near the hill and saw a tiny, tumbledown cottage
just at its foot.

Hastily dismounting, Bud, Fluff, and the queen rushed into the cottage,
where a wrinkled old woman was bent nearly double over a crazy-quilt
upon which she was sewing patches.

“Where is the cloak?” cried the three, in a breath.

The woman did not raise her head, but counted her stitches in a slow,
monotonous tone.

“Sixteen—seventeen—eighteen—”

“Where is the magic cloak?” demanded Zixi, stamping her foot
impatiently.

“Nineteen—” said Dame Dingle, slowly. “There! I’ve broken my needle!”

“Answer us at once!” commanded Bud, sternly. “Where is the magic cloak?”

The woman paid no attention to him whatever. She carefully selected a
new needle, threaded it after several attempts, and began anew to stitch
the patch.

“Twenty!” she mumbled in a low voice; “twenty-one—”

But now Zixi snatched the work from her hands and exclaimed;

“If you do not answer at once I will give you a good beating!”

“That is all right,” said the dame, looking up at them through her
spectacles; “the patches take twenty-one stitches on each side, and if I
lose my count I get mixed up. But it’s all right now. What do you want?”

“The cloak the old shepherd gave you,” replied the queen, sharply.

“The pretty cloak with the bright colors?” asked the dame, calmly.

“Yes! Yes!” answered the three, excitedly.

“Why, that very patch I was sewing was cut from that cloak,” said Dame
Dingle. “Isn’t it lovely? And it brightens the rest of the crazy-quilt
beautifully.”

“Do you mean that you have cut up my magic cloak?” asked Fluff, in
amazement, while the others were too horrified to speak.

“Certainly,” said the woman. “The cloak was too fine for me to wear, and
I needed something bright in my crazy-quilt. So I cut up half of the
cloak and made patches of it.”

The witch-queen gave a gasp, and sat down suddenly upon a rickety bench.
Princess Fluff walked to the door and stood looking out, that the others
might not see the tears of disappointment in her eyes. Bud alone stood
scowling in front of the old dame, and presently he said to her, in a
harsh tone:

“You ought to be smothered with your own crazy-quilt for daring to cut
up the fairy cloak!”

“The fairy cloak!” echoed Dame Dingle. “What do you mean?”

“That cloak was a gift to my sister from the fairies,” said Bud; “and it
had a magic charm. Aren’t you afraid the fairies will punish you for
what you have done?”

[Illustration: “‘WHERE IS THE CLOAK?’ CRIED THE THREE, IN A BREATH.”]

Dame Dingle was greatly disturbed.

“How could I know it?” she asked, anxiously; “how could I know it was a
magic cloak that old Edi gave to me?”

“Well, it was; and woven by the fairies themselves,” retorted the boy.
“And a whole nation is in danger because you have wickedly cut it up.”

Dame Dingle tried to cry, to show that she was sorry and so escape
punishment. She put her apron over her face, and rocked herself back and
forth, and made an attempt to squeeze a tear out of her eyes.

Suddenly Zixi jumped up.

“Why, it isn’t so bad, after all!” she exclaimed. “We can sew the cloak
together again.”

“Of course!” said Fluff, coming from the doorway. “Why didn’t we think
of that at once?”

“Where is the rest of the cloak?” demanded Zixi.

Dame Dingle went to a chest and drew forth the half of the cloak that
had not been cut up. There was no doubt about its being the magic cloak.
The golden thread Queen Lulea had woven could be seen plainly in the
web, and the brilliant colors were as fresh and lovely as ever. But the
flowing skirt of the cloak had been ruthlessly hacked by Dame Dingle’s
shears, and presented a sorry plight.

“Get us the patches you have cut!” commanded Zixi; and without a word
the dame drew from her basket five small squares and then ripped from
the crazy-quilt the one she had just sewn on.

“But this isn’t enough,” said Fluff, when she had spread the cloak upon
the floor and matched the pieces. “Where is the rest of the cloak?”

“Why,—why—” stammered Dame Dingle, with hesitation, “I gave them away.”

“Gave them away! Who got them?” said Bud.

“Why,—some friends of mine were here from the village last evening, and
we traded patches, so each of us would have a variety for our
crazy-quilts.”

“Well?”

“And I gave each of them one of the patches from the pretty cloak.”

“Well, you _are_ a ninny!” declared Bud, scornfully.

“Yes, your Majesty; I believe I am,” answered Dame Dingle, meekly.

“We must go to the village and gather up those pieces,” said Zixi. “Can
you tell us the names of your friends?” she asked the woman.

“Of course,” responded Dame Dingle; “they were Nancy Nink, Betsy Barx,
Sally Sog, Molly Mitt, and Lucy Lum.”

“Before we go to the village let us make Dame Dingle sew these portions
of the cloak together,” suggested Fluff.

The dame was glad enough to do this, and she threaded her needle at
once. So deft and fine was her needlework that she mended the cloak most
beautifully, so that from a short distance away no one could discover
that the cloak had been darned. But a great square was still missing
from the front, and our friends were now eager to hasten to the village.

“This will cause us some delay,” said the witch-queen, more cheerfully;
“but the cloak will soon be complete again, and then we can have our
wishes.”

Fluff took the precious cloak over her arm, and then they all mounted
their horses and rode away toward the village, which Dame Dingle pointed
out from her doorway. Zixi was sorry for the old creature, who had been
more foolish than wicked; and the witch-queen left a bright gold piece
in the woman’s hand when she bade her good-by, which was worth more to
Dame Dingle than three pretty cloaks.

The ground was boggy and uneven, so they were forced to ride slowly to
the little village; but they arrived there at last, and began hunting
for the old women who had received pieces of the magic cloak. They were
easily found, and all seemed willing enough to give up their patches
when the importance of the matter was explained to them.

At the witch-queen’s suggestion, each woman fitted her patch to the
cloak and sewed it on very neatly; but Lucy Lum, the last of the five,
said to them:

“This is only half of the patch Dame Dingle gave me. The other part I
gave to the miller’s wife down in the valley where the river bends. But
I am sure she will be glad to let you have it. See—it only requires that
small piece to complete the cloak and make it as good as new.”

It was true—the magic cloak, except for a small square at the bottom,
was now complete; and such skillful needlewomen were these crazy-quilt
makers that it was difficult to tell where it had been cut and afterward
mended.

But the miller’s wife must now be seen; so they all mounted the horses
again, except Aunt Rivette, who grumbled that so much riding made her
bones rattle and that she preferred to fly. Which she did, frightening
the horses to such an extent with her wings that Bud made her keep well
in advance of them.

They were all in good spirits now, for soon the magic cloak, almost as
good as new, would be again in their possession; and Fluff and Bud had
been greatly worried over the fate of their friends who had been left to
the mercy of the terrible Roly-Rogues.

The path ran in a zigzag direction down into the valley; but at length
it led the party to the mill, where old Rivette was found sitting in the
doorway awaiting them.

The miller’s wife, when summoned, came to them drying her hands on her
apron, for she had been washing the dishes.

“We want to get the bright-colored patch Lucy Lum gave you,” explained
Fluff; “for it was part of my magic cloak, which the fairies gave to me,
and this is the place where it must be sewn to complete the garment.”
And she showed the woman the cloak, with the square missing.

“I see,” said the miller’s wife, nodding her head; “and I am very sorry
I cannot give you the piece to complete your cloak. But the fact is, I
considered it too pretty for my crazy-quilt, so I gave it to my son for
a necktie.”

[Illustration: “‘AND WHERE IS YOUR SON?’ DEMANDED ZIXI.”]

“And where is your son?” demanded Zixi.

“Oh, he is gone to sea, for he is a sailor. By this time he is far away
upon the ocean.”

Bud, Fluff, and the witch-queen looked at one another in despair. This
seemed, indeed, to destroy all their hopes; for the one portion of the
cloak that they needed was far beyond their reach.

Nothing remained but for them to return to Zixi’s palace and await the
time when the miller’s son should return from his voyage. But before
they went the queen said to the woman:

“When he returns you may tell your son that if he will bring to me the
necktie you gave him, I will give him in return fifty gold pieces.”

“And I will give him fifty more,” said Bud, promptly.

“And I will give him enough ribbon to make fifty neckties,” added Fluff.

The miller’s wife was delighted at the prospect.

“Thank you! Thank you!” she exclaimed. “My boy’s fortune is made. He can
now marry Imogene Gubb and settle down on a farm, and give up the sea
forever! And his neckties will be the envy of all the men in the
country. As soon as he returns I will send him to you with the bit of
the cloak which you need.”

But Zixi was so anxious that nothing might happen to prevent the
miller’s son from returning the necktie, that she left two of her
soldiers at the mill, with instructions to bring the man to her palace
the instant he returned home.

As they rode away they were all very despondent over the ill luck of
their journey.

“He may be drowned at sea,” said Bud.

“Or he may lose the necktie on the voyage,” said Fluff.

“Oh, a thousand things _might_ happen,” returned the queen; “but we need
not make ourselves unhappy imagining them. Let us hope the miller’s son
will soon return and restore to us the missing patch.” Which showed that
Zixi had not lived six hundred and eighty-three years without gaining
some wisdom.

[Illustration: “QUEEN ZIXI TIED THE SILVER VIAL TO THE DOG’S NECK.”]



                             Chapter XXII.
                    RUFFLES CARRIES THE SILVER VIAL.


When they were back at the witch-queen’s palace in the city of Ix, the
queen insisted that Bud and Fluff, with their Aunt Rivette, should
remain her guests until the cloak could be restored to its former
complete state. And, for fear something else might happen to the
precious garment, a silver chest was placed in Princess Fluff’s room and
the magic cloak safely locked therein, the key being carried upon the
chain around the girl’s neck.

But their plans to wait patiently were soon interfered with by the
arrival at Zixi’s court of the talking dog, Ruffles, which had with much
difficulty escaped from the Roly-Rogues.

Ruffles brought to them so sad and harrowing a tale of the sufferings of
the five high counselors and all the people of Noland at the hands of
the fierce Roly-Rogues, that Princess Fluff wept bitterly for her
friends, and Bud became so cross and disagreeable that even Zixi was
provoked with him.

“Something really must be done,” declared the queen. “I’ll brew a
magical mess in my witch-kettle to-night, and see if I can find a way to
destroy those detestable Roly-Rogues.”

Indeed, she feared the creatures would some day find their way into Ix;
so when all the rest of those in the palace were sound asleep, Zixi
worked her magic spell, and from the imps she summoned she obtained
advice how to act in order to get rid of the Roly-Rogues.

Next morning she questioned Ruffles carefully.

“What do the Roly-Rogues eat?” she asked.

“Everything,” said the dog; “for they have no judgment, and consume
buttons and hairpins as eagerly as they do food. But there is one thing
they are really fond of, and that is soup. They oblige old Tollydob, the
lord high general, who works in the palace kitchen, to make them a
kettle of soup every morning; and this they all eat as if they were half
starving.”

“Very good!” exclaimed the witch-queen, with pleasure. “I think I see a
way of ridding all Noland of these monsters. Here is a Silver Vial
filled with a magic liquid. I will tie it around your neck, and you must
return to the city of Nole and carry the vial to Tollydob, the lord high
general. Tell him that on Thursday morning, when he makes the kettle of
soup, he must put the contents of the vial into the compound. But let no
one taste it afterward except the Roly-Rogues.”

“And what then?” asked Ruffles, curiously.

“Then I will myself take charge of the monsters; and I have reason to
believe the good citizens of Noland will no longer find themselves
slaves.”

“All right,” said the dog. “I will do as you bid me; for I long to free
my master and have revenge on the Roly-Rogues.”

So Queen Zixi tied the Silver Vial to the dog’s neck by means of a broad
ribbon, and he started at once to return to Nole.

And when he had gone, the queen summoned all her generals and bade them
assemble the entire army and prepare to march into Noland again. Only
this time, instead of being at enmity with the people of Noland, the
army of Ix was to march to their relief; and instead of bearing swords
and spears, each man bore a coil of strong rope.

[Illustration: “HE STARTED AT ONCE TO RETURN TO NOLE.”]

“For,” said Zixi, “swords and spears are useless where the Roly-Rogues
are concerned, as nothing can pierce their tough, rubber-like bodies.
And more nations have been conquered by cunning than by force of arms.”

Bud and Fluff, not knowing what the witch-queen meant to do, were much
disturbed by these preparations to march upon the Roly-Rogues. The
monsters had terrified them so greatly that they dreaded to meet with
them again, and Bud declared that the safest plan was to remain in
Zixi’s kingdom and await the coming of the miller’s son with the
necktie.

“But,” remonstrated Zixi, “in the meantime your people are suffering
terribly.”

“I know,” said Bud; “and it nearly drives me frantic to think of it But
they will be no better off if we try to fight the Roly-Rogues and are
ourselves made slaves.”

“Why not try the magic cloak as it is,” suggested the princess, “and see
if it won’t grant wishes as before? There’s only a small piece missing,
and it may not make any difference with the power the fairies gave to
it.”

“Hooray!” shouted Bud. “That’s a good idea. It’s a magic cloak just the
same, even if there is a chunk cut out of it.”

Zixi agreed that it was worth a trial, so the cloak was taken from the
silver casket and brought into the queen’s reception-room.

“Let us try it on one of your maids of honor, first,” said Fluff; “and,
if it grants her wish, we will know the cloak has lost none of its magic
powers. Then you and Bud may both make your wishes.”

“Very well,” returned the queen, and she summoned one of her maids.

“I am going to lend you my cloak,” said the princess to the maid; “and
while you wear it you must make a wish.”

She threw the cloak over the girl’s shoulders, and after a moment’s
thought the maid said:

“I wish for a bushel of candies.”

“Fudge!” said Bud, scornfully.

“No; all kinds of candies,” answered the maid of honor. But, although
they watched her intently, the wish failed absolutely, for no bushel of
candies appeared in sight.

“Let us try it again,” suggested Fluff, while the others wore
disappointed expressions. “It was a foolish wish, anyhow; and perhaps
the fairies did not care to grant it.”

So another maid was called and given the cloak to wear.

[Illustration: “‘AND MAY I WISH FOR ANYTHING I DESIRE?’ SHE ASKED
EAGERLY.”]

“And may I wish for anything I desire?” she asked eagerly.

“Of course,” answered the princess; “but, as you can have but one wish,
you must choose something sensible.”

“Oh, I will!” declared the maid. “I wish I had yellow hair and blue
eyes.”

“Why did you wish that?” asked Fluff, angrily, for the girl had pretty
brown hair and eyes.

“Because the young man I am going to marry says he likes blondes better
than brunettes,” answered the maid, blushing.

But her hair did not change its color, for all the wish; and the maid
said, with evident disappointment:

“Your magic cloak seems to be a fraud.”

“It does not grant foolish wishes,” returned the princess, as she
dismissed her.

When the maid had gone Zixi asked:

“Well, are you satisfied?”

“Yes,” acknowledged Fluff. “The cloak will not grant wishes unless it is
complete. We must wait for the sailorman’s necktie.”

“Then my army shall march to-morrow morning,” said the queen, and she
went away to give the order to her generals.



                             Chapter XXIII.
                    THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MONSTERS.


It was Tuesday when the army of Ix started upon its second march into
Noland. With it were the witch-queen, King Bud, Princess Fluff, and Aunt
Rivette. At evening they encamped on the bank of the river, and on
Wednesday the army was ferried across, and marched up the side of the
mountain that separated them from the valley of Noland. By night they
had reached the summit of the mountain; but they did not mount upon the
ridge, for fear they might be seen by the Roly-Rogues.

Zixi commanded them all to remain quietly behind the ridge, and they
lighted no fires and spoke only in whispers.

And, although so many thousands of men lay close to the valley of
Noland, not a sound came from them to warn the monsters that an enemy
was near.

Thursday morning dawned bright and pleasant, and as soon as the sun was
up the Roly-Rogues came crowding around the palace kitchen, demanding
that old Tollydob hurry the preparation of their soup.

This the general did, trembling in spite of his ten feet of stature; for
if they were kept waiting the monsters were liable to prod his flesh
with their thorns.

But Tollydob did not forget to empty the contents of the Silver Vial
into the soup, as the dog Ruffles had told him to do; and soon it was
being ladled out to the Roly-Rogues by Jikki, the four high counselors,
and a dozen other enslaved officers of King Bud.

And the dog Ruffles ran through the city, crying to every Roly-Rogue he
met: “Hurry and get your soup before it is gone. It is especially good
this morning!”

So every Roly-Rogue in the valley hurried to the palace kitchen for
soup; and there were so many that it was noon before the last were
served, while these became so impatient that they abused their slaves in
a sad manner.

Yet, even while the last were eating, those who had earlier partaken of
the soup lay around the palace sound asleep and snoring loudly; for the
contents of the Silver Vial had the effect of sending all of them to
sleep within an hour, and rendering them wholly unconscious for a period
of ten hours.

[Illustration: “AND THE DOG RUFFLES RAN THROUGH THE CITY, CRYING TO
EVERY ROLY-ROGUE HE MET: ‘HURRY AND GET YOUR SOUP.’”]

All through the city the Roly-Rogues lay asleep; and, as they always
withdrew their heads and limbs into their bodies when they slumbered,
they presented a spectacle of thousands of huge balls lying motionless.

[Illustration: “ALL THROUGH THE CITY THE ROLY-ROGUES LAY ASLEEP.”]

When the big kettle was finally empty and the lord high general paused
to wipe the perspiration from his brow, the last of the Roly-Rogues were
rolling over on their backs from the effects of the potion which the
witch-queen brewed and placed in the Silver Vial.

Aunt Rivette had been flying over the city since early morning; and
although the Roly-Rogues had been too intent upon their breakfast to
notice her, the old woman’s sharp eyes had watched everything that took
place below.

Now, when all the monsters had succumbed to the witch-potion, Aunt
Rivette flew back to the mountain where the army of Ix was hidden, and
carried the news to the witch-queen.

Zixi at once ordered her generals to advance, and the entire army
quickly mounted the summit of the ridge and ran down the side of the
mountain to the gates of the city.

The people, who saw that something unusual was taking place, greeted Bud
and Fluff and the witch-queen with shouts of gladness; and even Aunt
Rivette, when she flew down among them, was given three hearty cheers.

But there was no time for joyous demonstrations while the streets and
public squares were cluttered with the sleeping bodies of the terrible
Roly-Rogues. The army of Ix lost no time in carrying out their queen’s
instructions; and as soon as they entered the city they took the long
ropes they carried and wound them fast about the round bodies of the
monsters, securely fastening their heads and limbs into their forms so
that they could not stick them out again.

Their enemies being thus rendered helpless, the people renewed their
shouts of joy and gratitude, and eagerly assisted the soldiers of Ix in
rolling all the Roly-Rogues outside the gates and to a wide ledge of the
mountain.

The lord high general and all the other counselors threw away their
aprons and tools of servitude and dressed themselves in their official
robes. The soldiers of Tollydob’s army ran for their swords and pikes,
and the women unlocked their doors and trooped into the streets of Nole
for the first time since the descent of the monsters.

[Illustration: “ALL THE ROLY-ROGUES WERE THUS ROLLED INTO THE RIVER,
WHERE THEY BOBBED UP AND DOWN IN THE WATER.”]

But the task of liberation was not yet accomplished. All the Roly-Rogues
had to be rolled up the side of the mountain to the topmost ridge, and
so great was the bulk of their bodies that it took five or six men to
roll each one to the mountain-top; and even then they were obliged to
stop frequently to rest.

But as soon as they got a Roly-Rogue to the ridge they gave it a push
and sent it bounding down the other side of the mountain until it fell
into the big river flowing swiftly below.

During the afternoon all the Roly-Rogues were thus dumped into the
river, where they bobbed up and down in the water, spinning around and
bumping against one another until the current carried them out of sight
on their journey to the sea. It was rumored later that they had reached
an uninhabited island where they harm no one except themselves.

“I’m glad they floated,” said Zixi, as she stood upon the mountain ridge
and watched the last of the monsters float out of sight; “for if they
had sunk they would have filled up the river, there were so many of
them.”

It was evening when Noland at last became free from her terrible
tyrants; and the citizens illuminated the entire city that they might
spend the night in feasting and rejoicing over their freedom. The
soldiers of Ix were embraced and made much of; and at all the feasts
they were the honored guests, while the people of Noland pledged them
their sincere friendship forever.

King Bud took possession of the royal palace again, and Jikki bustled
about and prepared a grand banquet for the king’s guests,—although the
old valet grumbled a great deal because his six solemn servants would
not assist in waiting upon any one but himself.

The Roly-Rogues had destroyed many things, but the servants of the
palace managed to quickly clear away the rubbish and to decorate the
banquet-hall handsomely.

Bud placed the beautiful witch-queen upon his right hand and showed her
great honor, for he was really very grateful for her assistance in
rescuing his country from the invaders.

The feasting and dancing lasted far into the night; but when at last the
people sought their beds they knew they might rest peacefully and free
from care, for the Roly-Rogues had gone forever.



                             Chapter XXIV.
                        THE SAILORMAN’S RETURN.


Next day the witch-queen returned with her army to the city of Ix, to
await the coming of the sailorman with the necktie, and King Bud set
about getting his kingdom into running order again.

The lord high purse-bearer dug up his magic purse, and Bud ordered him
to pay the shopkeepers full value for everything the Roly-Rogues had
destroyed. The merchants were thus enabled to make purchases of new
stocks of goods; and although all travelers had for many days kept away
from Noland, for fear of the monsters, caravans now flocked in vast
numbers to the city of Nole with rich stores of merchandise to sell, so
that soon the entire city looked like a huge bazaar.

Bud also ordered a gold piece given to the head of every family; and
this did no damage to the ever-filled royal purse, while it meant riches
to the poor people who had suffered so much.

Princess Fluff had carried her silver chest back to the palace of her
brother, and in it lay, carefully folded, the magic cloak. Being now
fearful of losing it, she warned Jikki to allow no one to enter the room
in which lay the silver chest, except with her full consent, explaining
to him the value of the cloak.

“And was it this cloak I wore when I wished for half a dozen servants?”
asked the old valet.

“Yes,” answered Fluff; “Aunt Rivette bade you return it to me, and you
were so careless of it that nearly all the high counselors used it
before I found it again.”

“Then,” said Jikki, heedless of the reproof, “will your Highness please
use the cloak to rid me of these stupid servants? They are continually
at my heels, waiting to serve me; and I am so busy myself serving others
that those six young men almost drive me distracted. It wouldn’t be so
bad if they would serve any one else; but they claim they are my
servants alone, and refuse to wait upon even his Majesty the king.”

“Sometime I will try to help you,” answered Fluff; “but I shall not use
the cloak again until the miller’s son returns from his voyage at sea.”

So Jikki was forced to wait as impatiently as the others for the
sailorman, and his servants had now become such a burden upon him that
he grumbled every time he looked around and saw them standing in a stiff
line behind him.

Aunt Rivette again took possession of her rooms at the top of the
palace; and although Bud, grateful for her courage in saving him and his
sister from the Roly-Rogues, would gladly have given her handsomer
apartments, the old woman preferred to be near the roof, where she could
take flight into the air whenever it pleased her to go out.

With her big wings and her power to fly as a bird, she was the envy of
all the old gossips she had known in the days when she worked as a
laundress; and now she would often alight upon the door-step of some
humble friend and tell of the wonderful adventures she had encountered.

This never failed to surround her with an admiring circle of listeners,
and Aunt Rivette derived far more pleasure from her tattle than from
living in a palace with her nephew the king.

The kingdom of Noland soon took on a semblance of its former prosperity,
and the Roly-Rogues were only remembered with shudders of repugnance,
and spoken of in awed whispers.

And so the days wore away until late in the autumn, when, one morning, a
mounted soldier from Queen Zixi dashed into Nole and rode furiously up
to the palace gate.

“The sailorman is found!” he shouted, throwing himself from his horse
and bowing low before little King Bud, who had come out to meet him.

“Good,” remarked Bud.

“The Queen of Ix is even now riding to your Majesty’s city with a large
escort surrounding the sailorman,” continued the soldier.

“And has he the necktie?” asked Bud, eagerly.

“He is wearing it, your Majesty,” answered the man; “but he refuses to
give it to any one but the Princess Fluff.”

“That’s all right,” said the king; and, reëntering the palace, he
ordered Jikki to make preparations to receive the witch-queen and her
retinue.

[Illustration: “‘THE SAILORMAN IS FOUND!’ HE SHOUTED.”]

When Zixi came to the city gates she found General Tollydob, in a
gorgeous new uniform, waiting to escort her to the palace. The houses
were gay with flags and streamers; bands were playing; and on each side
of the street along which the witch-queen rode were lines of soldiers to
keep the way clear of the crowding populace.

Behind the queen came the sailorman, carefully guarded by Zixi’s most
trusted soldiers. He looked uneasy at so great a reception, and rode his
horse as awkwardly as a sailor might.

So the cavalcade came to the palace, which was thronged with courtiers
and ladies in waiting.

Zixi and the sailorman were ushered into the great throne room, where
King Bud, wearing his ermine robe and jeweled crown, sat gravely upon
his throne, with Princess Fluff beside him.

“Your Majesty,” began the witch-queen, bowing prettily, “I have brought
you the sailorman at last. He has just returned from his voyage, and my
soldiers captured him at his mother’s cottage by the mill. But he
refuses to give the necktie to any one except the Princess Fluff.”

“I am the Princess Fluff,” said Meg to the sailor; “and your necktie is
part of my magic cloak. So please give it back to me.”

The sailor shifted uneasily from one foot to the other.

“My mother told me,” he finally said, “that King Bud would give me fifty
gold pieces for it, and the Queen of Ix would give me another fifty gold
pieces, and that your Highness would give me fifty neckties.”

“That is all true,” returned Fluff; “so here are the fifty neckties.”

Tillydib, the lord high purse-bearer, counted out fifty gold pieces, and
Zixi’s treasurer counted out another fifty, and all were given to the
sailorman.

Then the miller’s son unfastened the necktie from about his collar and
handed it to Fluff.

During the murmur of satisfaction that followed, the girl unlocked her
silver chest, which Jikki had brought, and drew out the magic cloak.
Lifting the skirt of the garment, she attempted to fit the sailor’s
necktie into the place it should go; and then, while every one looked on
with breathless interest, the girl lifted a white face to the sailorman
and exclaimed:

“This is not the necktie your mother gave you!”

[Illustration: “‘THIS IS NOT THE NECKTIE YOUR MOTHER GAVE YOU!’”]

For a moment there was silence, while the assemblage glared angrily upon
the sailor. Then the king, rising from his seat, demanded:

“Are you sure, Fluff? Are you sure of that?”

“Of course I’m sure,” said the girl; “it is neither the shape nor the
color of the missing patch.”

Bud turned to the now trembling sailor.

“Why have you tried to deceive us?” he asked sternly.

“Oh, your Majesty!” returned the man, wringing his hands miserably, “I
lost the necktie in a gale at sea, for I knew nothing of its value. And
when I came home my mother told me of all the gold you had offered for
its return, and advised me to deceive you by wearing another necktie.
She said you would never know the difference.”

“Your mother is a foolish woman, as well as dishonest,” answered Bud;
“and you shall both be severely punished. Tellydeb,” he continued,
addressing the lord high executioner, “take this man to prison, and see
that he is fed on bread and water until further orders.”

“Not so!” exclaimed a sweet voice near the king; and then all looked up
to see the beautiful Lulea, queen of the fairies, standing beside the
throne.



                              Chapter XXV.
                            THE FAIRY QUEEN.


Every eye was now fixed upon the exquisite form of the fairy queen,
which shed a glorious radiance throughout the room, and filled every
heart with an awe and admiration not unmingled with fear.

“The magic cloak was woven by my band,” said the fairy, speaking so
distinctly that all could hear the words; “and our object was to bring
relief to suffering mortal—not to add to their worries. Some good the
cloak has accomplished, I am sure; but also has it been used foolishly,
and to no serious purpose. Therefore I, who gave the cloak, shall now
take it away. The good that has been done shall remain; but the foolish
wishes granted shall now be canceled.” With these words, she turned and
lightly lifted the shimmering magic garment from the lap of the
princess.

[Illustration: “‘I WISH,’ GRAVELY ANNOUNCED BUD, ‘THAT I MAY BECOME THE
BEST KING THAT NOLAND HAS EVER HAD.’”]

“One moment, please!” cried Bud, eagerly. “Cannot I have my wish? I
waited until I could wish wisely, you know; and then the cloak wouldn’t
work.”

With a smile, Lulea threw the cloak over the boy’s shoulders.

“Wish!” said she.

“I wish,” announced Bud, gravely, “that I may become the best king that
Noland has ever had!”

“Your wish is granted,” returned the fairy, sweetly; “and it shall be
the last wish fulfilled through the magic cloak.”

But now Zixi rushed forward and threw herself upon her knees before the
fairy.

“Oh, your Majesty—” she began eagerly; but Lulea instantly silenced her
with an abrupt gesture.

“Plead not to me, Queen of Ix!” said the dainty immortal, drawing back
from Zixi’s prostrate form. “You know that we fairies do not approve of
witchcraft. However long your arts may permit you to live, you must
always beware a mirror!”

Zixi gave a sob and buried her pretty face in her hands; and it was
Fluff whose tender heart prompted her to raise the witch-queen and try
to comfort her.

For a moment all present had looked at Zixi. When their eyes again
sought the form of the fairy, Lulea had vanished, and with her
disappeared forever from Noland the magic cloak.

Some important changes had been wrought through the visit of the fairy.
Jikki’s six servants were gone, to the old valet’s great delight. The
ten-foot general had shrunken to six feet in height, Lulea having
generously refrained from reducing old Tollydob to his former short
stature. Ruffles, to the grief of the lord high steward, could no longer
talk; but Tallydab comforted himself with the knowledge that his dog
could at least understand every word addressed to him. The lord high
executioner found he could no longer reach farther than other men; but
the royal purse of old Tillydib remained ever filled, which assured the
future prosperity of the kingdom of Noland.

As for Zixi, she soon became reconciled to her fate, and returned to Ix
to govern her country with her former liberality and justice.

The last wish granted by the magic cloak was doubtless the most
beneficial and far-reaching of all; for King Bud ruled many years with
exceeding wisdom and gentleness, and was greatly beloved by each and
every one of his admiring subjects.

The cheerfulness and sweet disposition of Princess Fluff became renowned
throughout the world, and when she grew to womanhood many brave and
handsome princes from other countries came to Nole to sue for her heart
and hand. One of these she married, and reigned as queen of a great
nation in after years, winning quite as much love and respect from her
people as his loyal subjects bestowed upon her famous brother, King Bud
of Noland.

[Illustration: THE END]



                          Transcriber’s Notes


--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Generated a cover image, based on graphic elements from the book, and
  released for free unrestricted use with this eBook.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Queen Zixi of Ix - Or, the Story of the Magic Cloak" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home