FictionForest

Chapter 6 – The Magic Boat

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

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Prince Inga was up with the sun and, accompanied by
Bilbil, began walking along the shore in search of the
boat which the White Pearl had promised him. Never for
an instant did he doubt that he would find it and
before he had walked any great distance a dark object
at the water’s edge caught his eye.

“It is the boat, Bilbil!” he cried joyfully, and
running down to it he found it was, indeed, a large and
roomy boat. Although stranded upon the beach, it was in
perfect order and had suffered in no way from the
storm.

Inga stood for some moments gazing upon the handsome
craft and wondering where it could have come from.
Certainly it was unlike any boat he had ever seen. On
the outside it was painted a lustrous black, without
any other color to relieve it; but all the inside of
the boat was lined with pure silver, polished so highly
that the surface resembled a mirror and glinted
brilliantly in the rays of the sun. The seats had white
velvet cushions upon them and the cushions were
splendidly embroidered with threads of gold. At one
end, beneath the broad seat, was a small barrel with
silver hoops, which the boy found was filled with
fresh, sweet water. A great chest of sandalwood, bound
and ornamented with silver, stood in the other end of
the boat. Inga raised the lid and discovered the chest
filled with sea-biscuits, cakes, tinned meats and ripe,
juicy melons; enough good and wholesome food to last
the party a long time.

Lying upon the bottom of the boat were two shining
oars, and overhead, but rolled back now, was a canopy
of silver cloth to ward off the heat of the sun.

It is no wonder the boy was delighted with the
appearance of this beautiful boat; but on reflection he
feared it was too large for him to row any great
distance. Unless, indeed, the Blue Pearl gave him
unusual strength.

While he was considering this matter, King Rinkitink
came waddling up to him and said:

“Well, well, well, my Prince, your words have come
true! Here is the boat, for a certainty, yet how it
came here — and how you knew it would come to us —
are puzzles that mystify me. I do not question our good
fortune, however, and my heart is bubbling with joy,
for in this boat I will return at once to my City of
Gilgad, from which I have remained absent altogether
too long a time.”

“I do not wish to go to Gilgad,” said Inga.

“That is too bad, my friend, for you would be very
welcome. But you may remain upon this island, if you
wish,” continued Rinkitink, “and when I get home I will
send some of my people to rescue you.”

“It is my boat, Your Majesty,” said Inga quietly.

“May be, may be,” was the careless answer, “but I am
King of a great country, while you are a boy Prince
without any kingdom to speak of. Therefore, being of
greater importance than you, it is just and right that
I take, your boat and return to my own country in it.”

“I am sorry to differ from Your Majesty’s views,”
said Inga, “but instead of going to Gilgad I consider
it of greater importance that we go to the islands of
Regos and Coregos.”

“Hey? What!” cried the astounded King. “To Regos and
Coregos! To become slaves of the barbarians, like the
King, your father? No, no, my boy! Your Uncle Rinki may
have an empty noddle, as Bilbil claims, but he is far
too wise to put his head in the lion’s mouth. It’s no
fun to be a slave.”

“The people of Regos and Coregos will not enslave
us,” declared Inga. “On the contrary, it is my
intention to set free my dear parents, as well as all
my people, and to bring them back again to Pingaree.”

“Cheek-eek-eek-eek-eek! How funny!” chuckled
Rinkitink, winking at the goat, which scowled in
return. “Your audacity takes my breath away, Inga, but
the adventure has its charm, I must, confess. Were I
not so fat, I’d agree to your plan at once, and could
probably conquer that horde of fierce warriors without
any assistance at all — any at all — eh, Bilbil? But
I grieve to say that I am fat, and not in good fighting
trim. As for your determination to do what I admit I
can’t do, Inga, I fear you forget that you are only a
boy, and rather small at that.”

“No, I do not forget that,” was Inga’s reply.

“Then please consider that you and I and Bilbil are
not strong enough, as an army, to conquer a powerful
nation of skilled warriors. We could attempt it, of
course, but you are too young to die, while I am too
old. Come with me to my City of Gilgad, where you will
be greatly honored. I’ll have my professors teach you
how to be good. Eh? What do you say?”

Inga was a little embarrassed how to reply to these
arguments, which he knew King Rinkitink considered were
wise; so, after a period of thought, he said:

“I will make a bargain with Your Majesty, for I do
not wish to fail in respect to so worthy a man and so
great a King as yourself. This boat is mine, as I have
said, and in my father’s absence you have become my
guest; therefore I claim that I am entitled to some
consideration, as well as you.”

“No doubt of it,” agreed Rinkitink. “What is the
bargain you propose, Inga?”

“Let us both get into the boat, and you shall first
try to row us to Gilgad. If you succeed, I will
accompany you right willingly; but should you fail, I
will then row the boat to Regos, and you must come with
me without further protest.”

“A fair and just bargain!” cried the King, highly
pleased. “Yet, although I am a man of mighty deeds, I
do not relish the prospect of rowing so big a boat all
the way to Gilgad. But I will do my best and abide by
the result.”

The matter being thus peaceably settled, they
prepared to embark. A further supply of fruits was
placed in the boat and Inga also raked up a quantity of
the delicious oysters that abounded on the coast of
Pingaree but which he had before been unable to reach
for lack of a boat. This was done at the suggestion of
the ever-hungry Rinkitink, and when the oysters had
been stowed in their shells behind the water barrel and
a plentiful supply of grass brought aboard for Bilbil,
they decided they were ready to start on their voyage.

It proved no easy task to get Bilbil into the boat,
for he was a remarkably clumsy goat and once, when
Rinkitink gave him a push, he tumbled into the water
and nearly drowned before they could get him out again.
But there was no thought of leaving the quaint animal
behind. His power of speech made him seem almost human
in the eyes of the boy, and the fat King was so
accustomed to his surly companion that nothing could
have induced him to part with him. Finally Bilbil fell
sprawling into the bottom of the boat, and Inga helped
him to get to the front end, where there was enough
space for him to lie down.

Rinkitink now took his seat in the silver-lined craft
and the boy came last, pushing off the boat as he
sprang aboard, so that it floated freely upon the
water.

“Well, here we go for Gilgad!” exclaimed the King,
picking up the oars and placing them in the row-locks.
Then he began to row as hard as he could, singing at
the same time an odd sort of a song that ran like this

“The way to Gilgad isn’t bad
For a stout old King and a brave young lad,
For a cross old goat with a dripping coat,
And a silver boat in which to float.
So our hearts are merry, light and glad
As we speed away to fair Gilgad!”

“Don’t, Rinkitink; please don’t! It makes me
seasick,” growled Bilbil.

Rinkitink stopped rowing, for by this time he was all
out of breath and his round face was covered with big
drops of perspiration. And when he looked over his
shoulder he found to his dismay that the boat had
scarcely moved a foot from its former position.

Inga said nothing and appeared not to notice the
King’s failure. So now Rinkitink, with a serious look
on his fat, red face, took off his purple robe and
rolled up the sleeves of his tunic and tried again.

However, he succeeded no better than before and when
he heard Bilbil give a gruff laugh and saw a smile upon
the boy Prince’s face, Rinkitink suddenly dropped the
oars and began shouting with laughter at his own
defeat. As he wiped his brow with a yellow silk
handkerchief he sang in a merry voice:

“A sailor bold am I, I hold,
But boldness will not row a boat.
So I confess I’m in distress
And just as useless as the goat.”

“Please leave me out of your verses,” said Bilbil
with a snort of anger.

“When I make a fool of myself, Bilbil, I’m a goat,”
replied Rinkitink.

“Not so,” insisted Bilbil. “Nothing could make you a
member of my superior race.”

“Superior? Why, Bilbil, a goat is but a beast, while
I am a King!”

“I claim that superiority lies in intelligence,” said
the goat.

Rinkitink paid no attention to this remark, but
turning to Inga he said:

“We may as well get back to the shore, for the boat
is too heavy to row to Gilgad or anywhere else. Indeed,
it will be hard for us to reach land again.”

“Let me take the oars,” suggested Inga. “You must not
forget our bargain.”

“No, indeed,” answered Rinkitink. “If you can row us
to Regos, or to any other place, I will go with you
without protest.”

So the King took Inga’s place at the stern of the
boat and the boy grasped the oars and commenced to row.
And now, to the great wonder of Rinkitink — and even
to Inga’s surprise — the oars became light as feathers
as soon as the Prince took hold of them. In an instant
the boat began to glide rapidly through the water and,
seeing this, the boy turned its prow toward the north.
He did not know exactly where Regos and Coregos were
located, but he did know that the islands lay to the
north of Pingaree, so he decided to trust to luck and
the guidance of the pearls to carry him to them.

Gradually the Island of Pingaree became smaller to
their view as the boat sped onward, until at the end of
an hour they had lost sight of it altogether and were
wholly surrounded by the purple waters of the Nonestic
Ocean.

Prince Inga did not tire from the labor of rowing;
indeed, it seemed to him no labor at all. Once he
stopped long enough to place the poles of the canopy in
the holes that had been made for them, in the edges of
the boat, and to spread the canopy of silver over the
poles, for Rinkitink had complained of the sun’s heat.
But the canopy shut out the hot rays and rendered the
interior of the boat cool and pleasant.

“This is a glorious ride!” cried Rinkitink, as he lay
back in the shade. “I find it a decided relief to be
away from that dismal island of Pingaree.

“It may be a relief for a short time,” said Bilbil,
“but you are going to the land of your enemies, who
will probably stick your fat body full of spears and
arrows.”

“Oh, I hope not!” exclaimed Inga, distressed at the
thought.

“Never mind,” said the King calmly, “a man can die
but once, you know, and when the enemy kills me I shall
beg him to kill Bilbil, also, that we may remain
together in death as in life.”

“They may be cannibals, in which case they will roast
and eat us,” suggested Bilbil, who wished to terrify
his master.

“Who knows?” answered Rinkitink, with a shudder. “But
cheer up, Bilbil; they may not kill us after all, or
even capture us; so let us not borrow trouble. Do not
look so cross, my sprightly quadruped, and I will sing
to amuse you.”

“Your song would make me more cross than ever,”
grumbled the goat.

“Quite impossible, dear Bilbil. You couldn’t be more
surly if you tried. So here is a famous song for you.”

While the boy rowed steadily on and the boat rushed
fast over the water, the jolly King, who never could be
sad or serious for many minutes at a time, lay back on
his embroidered cushions and sang as follows:

“A merry maiden went to sea —

Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do!
She sat upon the Captain’s knee
And looked around the sea to see
What she could see, but she couldn’t see me —

Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do!

“How do you like that, Bilbil?”

“I don’t like it,” complained the goat. “It reminds
me of the alligator that tried to whistle.”

“Did he succeed, Bilbil?” asked the King.

“He whistled as well as you sing.”

“Ha, ha, ha, ha, heek, keek, eek!” chuckled the King.
“He must have whistled most exquisitely, eh, my
friend?”

“I am not your friend,” returned the goat, wagging
his ears in a surly manner.

“I am yours, however,” was the King’s cheery reply;
“and to prove it I’ll sing you another verse.”

“Don’t, I beg of you!”

But the King sang as follows:

“The wind blew off the maiden’s shoe —
Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do!
And the shoe flew high to the sky so blue
And the maiden knew ’twas a new shoe, too;
But she couldn’t pursue the shoe, ’tis true-
Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do!

“Isn’t that sweet, my pretty goat?”

“Sweet, do you ask?” retorted Bilbil. “I consider it
as sweet as candy made from mustard and vinegar.”

“But not as sweet as your disposition, I admit. Ah,
Bilbil, your temper would put honey itself to shame.”

“Do not quarrel, I beg of you,” pleaded Inga. “Are we
not sad enough already?”

“But this is a jolly quarrel,” said the King, “and it
is the way Bilbil and I often amuse ourselves. Listen,
now, to the last verse of all:

“The maid who shied her shoe now cried —

Sing too-ral-oo-ral-i-do!
Her tears were fried for the Captain’s bride
Who ate with pride her sobs, beside,
And gently sighed ‘I’m satisfied’ —

Sing to-ral-oo-ral-i-do!”

“Worse and worse!” grumbled Bilbil, with much scorn.
“I am glad that is the last verse, for another of the
same kind might cause me to faint.”

“I fear you have no ear for music,” said the King.

“I have heard no music, as yet,” declared the goat.
“You must have a strong imagination, King Rinkitink, if
you consider your songs music. Do you remember the
story of the bear that hired out for a nursemaid?”

“I do not recall it just now,” said Rinkitink, with a
wink at Inga.

“Well, the bear tried to sing a lullaby to put the
baby to sleep.”

“And then?” said the King.

“The bear was highly pleased with its own voice, but
the baby was nearly frightened to death.”

“Heh, heb, heh, heh, whoo, hoo, hoo! You are a merry
rogue, Bilbil,” laughed the King; “a merry rogue in
spite of your gloomy features. However, if I have not
amused you, I have at least pleased myself, for I am
exceedingly fond of a good song. So let us say no more
about it.”

All this time the boy Prince was rowing. the boat. He
was not in the least tired, for the oars he held seemed
to move of their own accord. He paid little heed to the
conversation of Rinkitink and the goat, but busied his
thoughts with plans of what he should do when he
reached the islands of Regos and Coregos and confronted
his enemies. When the others finally became silent,
Inga inquired.

“Can you fight, King Rinkitink?”

“I have never tried,” was the answer. “In time of
danger I have found it much easier to run away than to
face the foe.”

“But could you fight?” asked the boy.

“I might try, if there was no chance to escape by
running. Have you a proper weapon for me to fight
with?”

“I have no weapon at all,” confessed Inga.

“Then let us use argument and persuasion instead of
fighting. For instance, if we could persuade the
warriors of Regos to lie down, and let me step on them,
they would be crushed with ease.

Prince Inga had expected little support from the
King, so he was not discouraged by this answer. After
all, he reflected, a conquest by battle would be out of
the question, yet the White Pearl would not have
advised him to go to Regos and Coregos had the mission
been a hopeless one. It seemed to him, on further
reflection, that he must rely upon circumstances to
determine his actions when he reached the islands of
the barbarians.

By this time Inga felt perfect confidence in the
Magic Pearls. It was the White Pearl that had given him
the boat, and the Blue Pearl that had given him
strength to row it. He believed that the Pink Pearl
would protect him from any danger that might arise; so
his anxiety was not for himself, but for his
companions. King Rinkitink and the goat had no magic to
protect them, so Inga resolved to do all in his power
to keep them from harm.

For three days and three nights the boat with the
silver lining sped swiftly over the ocean. On the
morning of the fourth day, so quickly had they
traveled, Inga saw before him the shores of the two
great islands of Regos and Coregos.

“The pearls have guided me aright!” he whispered to
himself. “Now, if I am wise, and cautious, and brave, I
believe I shall be able to rescue my father and mother
and my people.”

 

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