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Chapter 3 – The Warriors from the North

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

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King Rinkitink was so much pleased with the Island of
Pingaree that he continued his stay day after day and
week after week, eating good dinners, talking with King
Kitticut and sleeping. Once in a while he would read
from his scroll. “For,” said he, “whenever I return
home, my subjects will be anxious to know if I have
learned ‘How to be Good,’ and I must not disappoint
them.”

The twenty rowers lived on the small end of the
island, with the pearl fishers, and seemed not to care
whether they ever returned to the Kingdom of Rinkitink
or not. Bilbil the goat wandered over the grassy
slopes, or among the trees, and passed his days exactly
as he pleased. His master seldom cared to ride him.
Bilbil was a rare curiosity to the islanders, but since
there was little pleasure in talking with the goat they
kept away from him. This pleased the creature, who
seemed well satisfied to be left to his own devices.

Once Prince Inga, wishing to be courteous, walked up
to the goat and said: “Good morning, Bilbil.”

“It isn’t a good morning,” answered Bilbil grumpily.
“It is cloudy and damp, and looks like rain.”

“I hope you are contented in our kingdom,” continued
the boy, politely ignoring the other’s harsh words.

“I’m not,” said Bilbil. “I’m never contented; so it
doesn’t matter to me whether I’m in your kingdom or in
some other kingdom. Go away — will you?”

“Certainly,” answered the Prince, and after this
rebuff he did not again try to make friends with
Bilbil.

Now that the King, his father, was so much occupied
with his royal guest, Inga was often left to amuse
himself, for a boy could not be allowed to take part in
the conversation of two great monarchs. He devoted
himself to his studies, therefore, and day after day he
climbed into the branches of his favorite tree and sat
for hours in his “tree-top rest,” reading his father’s
precious manuscripts and thinking upon what he read.

You must not think that Inga was a molly-coddle or a
prig, because he was so solemn and studious. Being a
King’s son and heir to a throne, he could not play with
the other boys of Pingaree, and he lived so much in the
society of the King and Queen, and was so surrounded by
the pomp and dignity of a court, that he missed all the
jolly times that boys usually have. I have no doubt
that had he been able to live as other boys do, he
would have been much like other boys; as it was, he was
subdued by his surroundings, and more grave and
thoughtful than one of his years should be.

Inga was in his tree one morning when, without
warning, a great fog enveloped the Island of Pingaree.
The boy could scarcely see the tree next to that in
which he sat, but the leaves above him prevented the
dampness from wetting him, so he curled himself up in
his seat and fell fast asleep.

All that forenoon the fog continued. King Kitticut,
who sat in his palace talking with his merry visitor,
ordered the candles lighted, that they might be able to
see one another. The good Queen, Inga’s mother, found
it was too dark to work at her embroidery, so she
called her maidens together and told them wonderful
stories of bygone days, in order to pass away the
dreary hours.

But soon after noon the weather changed. The dense
fog rolled away like a heavy cloud and suddenly the sun
shot his bright rays over the island.

“Very good!” exclaimed King Kitticut. “We shall have
a pleasant afternoon, I am sure,” and he blew out the
candles.

Then he stood a moment motionless, as if turned to
stone, for a terrible cry from without the palace
reached his ears — a cry so full of fear and horror
that the King’s heart almost stopped beating.
Immediately there was a scurrying of feet as every one
in the palace, filled with dismay, rushed outside to
see what had happened. even fat little Rinkitink sprang
from his chair and followed his host and the others
through the arched vestibule.

After many years the worst fears of King Kitticut
were realized.

Landing upon the beach, which was but a few steps
from the palace itself, were hundreds of boats, every
one filled with a throng of fierce warriors. They
sprang upon the land with wild shouts of defiance and
rushed to the King’s palace, waving aloft their swords
and spears and battleaxes.

King Kitticut, so completely surprised that he was
bewildered, gazed at the approaching host with terror
and grief.

“They are the men of Regos and Coregos!” he groaned.
“We are, indeed, lost!”

Then he bethought himself, for the first time, of his
wonderful pearls. Turning quickly, he ran back into the
palace and hastened to the hall where the treasures
were hidden. But the leader of the warriors had seen
the King enter the palace and bounded after him,
thinking he meant to escape. Just as the King had
stooped to press the secret spring in the tiles, the
warrior seized him from the rear and threw him backward
upon the floor, at the same time shouting to his men to
fetch ropes and bind the prisoner. This they did very
quickly and King Kitticut soon found himself helplessly
bound and in the power of his enemies. In this sad
condition he was lifted by the warriors and carried
outside, when the good King looked upon a sorry sight.

The Queen and her maidens, the officers and servants
of the royal household and all who had inhabited this
end of the Island of Pingaree had been seized by the
invaders and bound with ropes. At once they began
carrying their victims to the boats, tossing them in as
unceremoniously as if they had been bales of
merchandise.

The King looked around for his son Inga, but failed
to find the boy among the prisoners. Nor was the fat
King, Rinkitink, to be seen anywhere about.

The warriors were swarming over the palace like bees
in a hive, seeking anyone who might be in hiding, and
after the search had been prolonged for some time the
leader asked impatiently: “Do you find anyone else?”

“No,” his men told him. “We have captured them all.”

“Then,” commanded the leader, “remove everything of
value from the palace and tear down its walls and
towers, so that not one stone remains upon another!”

While the warriors were busy with this task we will
return to the boy Prince, who, when the fog lifted and
the sun came out, wakened from his sleep and began to
climb down from his perch in the tree. But the
terrifying cries of the people, mingled with the shouts
of the rude warriors, caused him to pause and listen
eagerly.

Then he climbed rapidly up the tree, far above his
platform, to the topmost swaying branches. This tree,
which Inga called his own, was somewhat taller than the
other trees that surrounded it, and when he had reached
the top he pressed aside the leaves and saw a great
fleet of boats upon the shore — strange boats, with
banners that he had never seen before. Turning to look
upon his father’s palace, he found it surrounded by a
horde of enemies. Then Inga knew the truth: that tile
island had been invaded by the barbaric warriors from
the north. He grew so faint from the terror of it all
that he might have fallen had he not wound his arms
around a limb and clung fast until the dizzy feeling
passed away. Then with his sash he bound himself to the
limb and again ventured to look out through the leaves.

The warriors were now engaged in carrying King
Kitticut and Queen Garee and all their other captives
down to the boats, where they were thrown in and
chained one to another. It was a dreadful sight for the
Prince to witness, but he sat very still, concealed
from the sight of anyone below by the bower of leafy
branches around him. Inga knew very well that he could
do nothing to help his beloved parents, and that if he
came down he would only be forced to share their cruel
fate.

Now a procession of the Northmen passed between the
boats and the palace, bearing the rich furniture,
splendid draperies and rare ornaments of which the
royal palace had been robbed, together with such food
and other plunder as they could lay their hands upon.
After this, the men of Regos and Coregos threw ropes
around the marble domes and towers and hundreds of
warriors tugged at these ropes until the domes and
towers toppled and fell in ruins upon the ground. Then
the walls themselves were torn down, till little
remained of the beautiful palace but a vast heap of
white marble blocks tumbled and scattered upon the
ground.

Prince Inga wept bitter tears of grief as he watched
the ruin of his home; yet he was powerless to avert the
destruction. When the palace had been demolished, some
of the warriors entered their boats and rowed along the
coast of the island, while the others marched in a
great body down the length of the island itself. They
were so numerous that they formed a line stretching
from shore to shore and they destroyed every house they
came to and took every inhabitant prisoner.

The pearl fishers who lived at the lower end of the
island tried to escape in their boats, but they were
soon overtaken and made prisoners, like the others. Nor
was there any attempt to resist the foe, for the sharp
spears and pikes and swords of the invaders terrified
the hearts of the defenseless people of Pingaree, whose
sole weapons were their oyster rakes.

When night fell the whole of the Island of Pingaree
had been conquered by the men of the North, and all its
people were slaves of the conquerors. Next morning the
men of Regos and Coregos, being capable of no further
mischief, departed from the scene of their triumph,
carrying their prisoners with them and taking also
every boat to be found upon the island. Many of the
boats they had filled with rich plunder, with pearls
and silks and velvets, with silver and gold ornaments
and all the treasure that had made Pingaree famed as
one of the richest kingdoms in the world. And the
hundreds of slaves they had captured would be set to
work in the mines of Regos and the grain fields of
Coregos.

So complete was the victory of the Northmen that it
is no wonder the warriors sang songs of triumph as they
hastened back to their homes. Great rewards were
awaiting them when they showed the haughty King of
Regos and the terrible Queen of Coregos the results of
their ocean raid and conquest.

 

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