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Chapter 2 – The Coming of King Rinkitink

L. Frank BaumOct 04, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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A few days after this, on a bright and sunny morning
when the breeze blew soft and sweet from the ocean and
the trees waved their leaf-laden branches, the Royal
Watchman, whose duty it was to patrol the shore, came
running to the King with news that a strange boat was
approaching the island.

At first the King was sore afraid and made a step
toward the hidden pearls, but the next moment he
reflected that one boat, even if filled with enemies,
would be powerless to injure him, so he curbed his fear
and went down to the beach to discover who the
strangers might be. Many of the men of Pingaree
assembled there also, and Prince Inga followed his
father. Arriving at the water’s edge, they all stood
gazing eagerly at the oncoming boat.

It was quite a big boat, they observed, and covered
with a canopy of purple silk, embroidered with gold. It
was rowed by twenty men, ten on each side. As it came
nearer, Inga could see that in the stern, seated upon a
high, cushioned chair of state, was a little man who
was so very fat that he was nearly as broad as he was
high This man was dressed in a loose silken robe of
purple that fell in folds to his feet, while upon his
head was a cap of white velvet curiously worked with
golden threads and having a circle of diamonds sewn
around the band. At the opposite end of the boat stood
an oddly shaped cage, and several large boxes of
sandalwood were piled near the center of the craft.

As the boat approached the shore the fat little man
got upon his feet and bowed several times in the
direction of those who had assembled to greet him, and
as he bowed he flourished his white cap in an energetic
manner. His face was round as an apple and nearly as
rosy. When he stopped bowing he smiled in such a sweet
and happy way that Inga thought he must be a very jolly
fellow.

The prow of the boat grounded on the beach, stopping
its speed so suddenly that the little man was caught
unawares and nearly toppled headlong into the sea. But
he managed to catch hold of the chair with one hand and
the hair of one of his rowers with the other, and so
steadied himself. Then, again waving his jeweled cap
around his head, he cried in a merry voice:

“Well, here I am at last!”

“So I perceive,” responded King Kitticut, bowing with
much dignity.

The fat man glanced at all the sober faces before him
and burst into a rollicking laugh. Perhaps I should say
it was half laughter and half a chuckle of merriment,
for the sounds he emitted were quaint and droll and
tempted every hearer to laugh with him.

“Heh, heh — ho, ho, ho!” he roared. “Didn’t expect
me, I see. Keek-eek-eek-eek! This is funny — it’s
really funny. Didn’t know I was coming, did you? Hoo,
hoo, hoo, hoo! This is certainly amusing. But I’m here,
just the same.”

“Hush up!” said a deep, growling voice. “You’re
making yourself ridiculous.”

Everyone looked to see where this voice came from;
but none could guess who had uttered the words of
rebuke. The rowers of the boat were all solemn and
silent and certainly no one on the shore had spoken.
But the little man did not seem astonished in the
least, or even annoyed.

King Kitticut now addressed the stranger, saying
courteously:

“You are welcome to the Kingdom of Pingaree. Perhaps
you will deign to come ashore and at your convenience
inform us whom we have the honor of receiving as a
guest.”

“Thanks; I will,” returned the little fat man,
waddling from his place in the boat and stepping, with
some difficulty, upon the sandy beach. “I am King
Rinkitink, of the City of Gilgad in the Kingdom of
Rinkitink, and I have come to Pingaree to see for
myself the monarch who sends to my city so many
beautiful pearls. I have long wished to visit this
island; and so, as I said before, here I am!”

“I am pleased to welcome you,” said King Kitticut.
“But why has Your Majesty so few attendants? Is it not
dangerous for the King of a great country to make
distant journeys in one frail boat, and with but twenty
men?”

“Oh, I suppose so,” answered King Rinkitink, with a
laugh. “But what else could I do? My subjects would not
allow me to go anywhere at all, if they knew it. So I
just ran away.”

“Ran away!” exclaimed King Kitticut in surprise.

“Funny, isn’t it? Heh, heh, heh — woo, hoo!” laughed
Rinkitink, and this is as near as I can spell with
letters the jolly sounds of his laughter. “Fancy a King
running away from his own ple — hoo, hoo — keek, eek,
eek, eek! But I had to, don’t you see!”

“Why?” asked the other King.

“They’re afraid I’ll get into mischief. They don’t
trust me. Keek-eek-eek — Oh, dear me! Don’t trust
their own King. Funny, isn’t it?”

“No harm can come to you on this island,” said
Kitticut, pretending not to notice the odd ways of his
guest. “And, whenever it pleases you to return to your
own country, I will send with you a fitting escort of
my own people. In the meantime, pray accompany me to my
palace, where everything shall be done to make you
comfortable and happy.”

“Much obliged,” answered Rinkitink, tipping his white
cap over his left ear and heartily shaking the hand of
his brother monarch. “I’m sure you can make me
comfortable if you’ve plenty to eat. And as for being
happy — ha, ha, ha, ha! — why, that’s my trouble. I’m
too happy. But stop! I’ve brought you some presents in
those boxes. Please order your men to carry them up to
the palace.”

“Certainly,” answered King Kitticut, well pleased,
and at once he gave his men the proper orders.

“And, by the way,” continued the fat little King,
“let them also take my goat from his cage.”

“A goat!” exclaimed the King of Pingaree.

“Exactly; my goat Bilbil. I always ride him wherever
I go, for I’m not at all fond of walking, being a
trifle stout — eh, Kitticut? — a trifle stout! Hoo,
hoo, hoo-keek, eek!”

The Pingaree people started to lift the big cage out
of the boat, but just then a gruff voice cried: “Be
careful, you villains!” and as the words seemed to come
from the goat’s mouth the men were so astonished that
they dropped the cage upon the sand with a sudden jar.

“There! I told you so!” cried the voice angrily.
“You’ve rubbed the skin off my left knee. Why on earth
didn’t you handle me gently?”

“There, there, Bilbil,” said King Rinkitink
soothingly; “don’t scold, my boy. Remember that these
are strangers, and we their guests.” Then he turned to
Kitticut and remarked: “You have no talking goats on
your island, I suppose.”

“We have no goats at all,” replied the King; “nor
have we any animals, of any sort, who are able to
talk.”

“I wish my animal couldn’t talk, either,” said
Rinkitink, winking comically at Inga and then looking
toward the cage. “He is very cross at times, and
indulges in language that is not respectful. I thought,
at first, it would be fine to have a talking goat, with
whom I could converse as I rode about my city on his
back; but — keek-eek-eek-eek! — the rascal treats me
as if I were a chimney sweep instead of a King. Heh,
heh, heh, keek, eek! A chimney sweep-hoo, hoo, hoo! —
and me a King! Funny, isn’t it?” This last was
addressed to Prince Inga, whom he chucked familiarly
under the chin, to the boy’s great embarrassment.

“Why do you not ride a horse?” asked King Kitticut.

“I can’t climb upon his back, being rather stout;
that’s why. Kee, kee, keek, eek! — rather stout —
hoo, hoo, hoo!” He paused to wipe the tears of
merriment from his eyes and then added: “But I can get
on and off Bilbil’s back with ease.”

He now opened the cage and the goat deliberately
walked out and looked about him in a sulky manner. One
of the rowers brought from the boat a saddle made of
red velvet and beautifully embroidered with silver
thistles, which he fastened upon the goat’s back. The
fat King put his leg over the saddle and seated himself
comfortably, saying:

“Lead on, my noble host, and we will follow.”

“What! Up that steep hill?” cried the goat. “Get off
my back at once, Rinkitink, or I won’t budge a step.

“But-consider, Bilbil,” remonstrated the King. “How
am I to get up that hill unless I ride?”

“Walk!” growled Bilbil.

“But I’m too fat. Really, Bilbil, I’m surprised at
you. Haven’t I brought you all this distance so you may
see something of the world and enjoy life? And now you
are so ungrateful as to refuse to carry me! Turn about
is fair play, my boy. The boat carried you to this
shore, because you can’t swim, and now you must carry
me up the hill, because I can’t climb. Eh, Bilbil,
isn’t that reasonable?”

“Well, well, well,” said the goat, surlily, “keep
quiet and I’ll carry you. But you make me very tired,
Rinkitink, with your ceaseless chatter.”

After making this protest Bilbil began walking
up the hill, carrying the fat King upon his back
with no difficulty whatever.

Prince Inga and his father and all the men of
Pingaree were much astonished to overhear this dispute
between King Rinkitink and his goat; but they were too
polite to make critical remarks in the presence of
their guests. King Kitticut walked beside the goat and
the Prince followed after, the men coming last with the
boxes of sandalwood.

When they neared the palace, the Queen and her
maidens came out to meet them and the royal guest was
escorted in state to the splendid throne room of the
palace. Here the boxes were opened and King Rinkitink
displayed all the beautiful silks and laces and jewelry
with which they were filled. Every one of the courtiers
and ladies received a handsome present, and the King
and Queen had many rich gifts and Inga not a few. Thus
the time passed pleasantly until the Chamberlain
announced that dinner was served.

Bilbil the goat declared that he preferred eating of
the sweet, rich grass that grew abundantly in the
palace grounds, and Rinkitink said that the beast could
never bear being shut up in a stable; so they removed
the saddle from his back and allowed him to wander
wherever he pleased.

During the dinner Inga divided his attention between
admiring the pretty gifts he had received and listening
to the jolly sayings of the fat King, who laughed when
he was not eating and ate when he was not laughing and
seemed to enjoy himself immensely.

“For four days I have lived in that narrow boat,”
said he, “with no other amusement than to watch the
rowers and quarrel with Bilbil; so I am very glad to be
on land again with such friendly and agreeable people.”

“You do us great honor,” said King Kitticut, with a
polite bow.

“Not at all — not at all, my brother. This Pingaree
must be a wonderful island, for its pearls are the
admiration of all the world; nor will I deny the fact
that my kingdom would be a poor one without the riches
and glory it derives from the trade in your pearls. So
I have wished for many years to come here to see you,
but my people said: ‘No! Stay at home and behave
yourself, or we’ll know the reason why.'”

“Will they not miss Your Majesty from your
palace at Gilgad?” inquired Kitticut.

“I think not,” answered Rinkitink. “You see, one of
my clever subjects has written a parchment entitled
‘How to be Good,’ and I believed it would benefit me to
study it, as I consider the accomplishment of being
good one of the fine arts. I had just scolded severely
my Lord High Chancellor for coming to breakfast without
combing his eyebrows, and was so sad and regretful at
having hurt the poor man’s feelings that I decided to
shut myself up in my own room and study the scroll
until I knew how to be good — hee, heek, keek, eek,
eek! –to be good! Clever idea, that, wasn’t it? Mighty
clever! And I issued a decree that no one should enter
my room, under pain of my royal displeasure, until I
was ready to come out. They’re awfully afraid of my
royal displeasure, although not a bit afraid of me.
Then I put the parchment in my pocket and escaped
through the back door to my boat — and here I am. Oo,
hoo-hoo, keek-eek! Imagine the fuss there would be in
Gilgad if my subjects knew where I am this very
minute!”

“I would like to see that parchment,” said the
solemn-eyed Prince Inga, “for if it indeed teaches one
to be good it must be worth its weight in pearls.”

“Oh, it’s a fine essay,” said Rinkitink, “and
beautifully written with a goosequill. Listen to this:
You’ll enjoy it — tee, hee, hee! — enjoy it.”

He took from his pocket a scroll of parchment tied
with a black ribbon, and having carefully unrolled it,
he proceeded to read as follows:

“‘A Good Man is One who is Never Bad.’ How’s that,
eh? Fine thought, what? ‘Therefore, in order to be
Good, you must avoid those Things which are Evil.’ Oh,
hoo-hoo-hoo! — how clever! When I get back I shall
make the man who wrote that a royal hippolorum, for,
beyond question, he is the wisest man in my kingdom -as
he has often told me himself.” With this, Rinkitink lay
back in his chair and chuckled his queer chuckle until
he coughed, and coughed until he choked and choked
until he sneezed. And he wrinkled his face in such a
jolly, droll way that few could keep from laughing with
him, and even the good Queen was forced to titter
behind her fan.

When Rinkitink had recovered from his fit of laughter
and had wiped his eyes upon a fine lace handkerchief,
Prince Inga said to him:

“The parchment speaks truly.”

“Yes, it is true beyond doubt,” answered Rinkitink,
“and if I could persuade Bilbil to read it he would be
a much better goat than he is now. Here is another
selection: ‘To avoid saying Unpleasant Things, always
Speak Agreeably.’ That would hit Bilbil, to a dot. And
here is one that applies to you, my Prince: ‘Good
Children are seldom punished, for the reason that they
deserve no punishment.’ Now, I think that is neatly
put, and shows the author to be a deep thinker. But the
advice that has impressed me the most is in the
following paragraph: ‘You may not find it as Pleasant
to be Good as it is to be Bad, but Other People will
find it more Pleasant.’ Haw-hoo-ho! keek-eek! ‘Other
people will find it more pleasant!’ — hee, hee, heek,
keek! — ‘more pleasant.’ Dear me — dear me! Therein
lies a noble incentive to be good, and whenever I get
time I’m surely going to try it.”

Then he wiped his eyes again with the lace
handkerchief and, suddenly remembering his dinner,
seized his knife and fork and began eating.

 

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