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Chapter 8 – Rinkitink Makes a Great Mistake

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

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The fat King rode his goat through the streets of the
conquered city and the boy Prince walked proudly beside
him, while all the people bent their heads humbly to
their new masters, whom they were prepared to serve in
the same manner they had King Gos.

Not a warrior remained in all Regos to oppose the
triumphant three; the bridge of boats had been
destroyed; Inga and his companions were free from
danger — for a time, at least.

The jolly little King appreciated this fact and
rejoiced that he had escaped all injury during the
battle. How it had all happened he could not tell, nor
even guess, but he was content in being safe and free
to take possession of the enemy’s city. So, as they
passed through the lines of respectful civilians on
their way to the palace, the King tipped his crown back
on his bald head and folded his arms and sang in his
best voice the following lines:

“Oh, here comes the army of King Rinkitink!
It isn’t a big one, perhaps you may think,
But it scattered the warriors quicker than wink —

Rink-i-tink, tink-i-tink, tink!
Our Bilbil’s a hero and so is his King;
Our foemen have vanished like birds on the wing;
I guess that as fighters we’re quite the real thing —

Rink-i-tink, tink-i-tink, tink!”

“Why don’t you give a little credit to Inga?”
inquired the goat. “If I remember aright, he did a
little of the conquering himself.”

“So he did,” responded the King, “and that’s the
reason I’m sounding our own praise, Bilbil. Those who
do the least, often shout the loudest and so get the
most glory. Inga did so much that there is danger of
his becoming more important than we are, and so we’d
best say nothing about him.”

When they reached the palace, which was an immense
building, furnished throughout in regal splendor, Inga
took formal possession and ordered the majordomo to
show them the finest rooms the building contained.
There were many pleasant apartments, but Rinkitink
proposed to Inga that they share one of the largest
bedrooms together.

“For,” said he, “we are not sure that old Gos will
not return and try to recapture his city, and you must
remember that I have no magic to protect me. In any
danger, were I alone, I might be easily killed or
captured, while if you are by my side you can save me
from injury.”

The boy realized the wisdom of this plan, and
selected a fine big bedroom on the second floor of the
palace, in which he ordered two golden beds placed and
prepared for King Rinkitink and himself. Bilbil was
given a suite of rooms on the other side of the palace,
where servants brought the goat fresh-cut grass to eat
and made him a soft bed to lie upon.

That evening the boy Prince and the fat King dined in
great state in the lofty-domed dining hall of the
palace, where forty servants waited upon them. The
royal chef, anxious to win the favor of the conquerors
of Regos, prepared his finest and most savory dishes
for them, which Rinkitink ate with much appetite and
found so delicious that he ordered the royal chef
brought into the banquet hall and presented him with a
gilt button which the King cut from his own jacket.

“You are welcome to it,” said he to the chef,
“because I have eaten so much that I cannot use that
lower button at all.”

Rinkitink was mightily pleased to live in a
comfortable palace again and to dine at a well spread
table. His joy grew every moment, so that he came in
time to be as merry and cheery as before Pingaree was
despoiled. And, although he had been much frightened
during Inga’s defiance of the army of King Gos, he now
began to turn the matter into a joke.

“Why, my boy,” said he, “you whipped the big black-
bearded King exactly as if he were a schoolboy, even
though you used no warlike weapon at all upon him. He
was cowed through fear of your magic, and that reminds
me to demand from you an explanation. How did you do
it, Inga? And where did the wonderful magic come from?”

Perhaps it would have been wise for the Prince to
have explained about the magic pearls, but at that
moment he was not inclined to do so. Instead, he
replied:

“Be patient, Your Majesty. The secret is not my own,
so please do not ask me to divulge it. Is it not
enough, for the present, that the magic saved you from
death to-day?”

“Do not think me ungrateful,” answered the King
earnestly. “A million spears fell on me from the wall,
and several stones as big as mountains, yet none of
them hurt me!”

“The stones were not as big as mountains, sire,” said
the Prince with a smile. “They were, indeed, no larger
than your head.”

“Are you sure about that?” asked Rinkitink.

“Quite sure, Your Majesty.”

“How deceptive those things are!” sighed the King.
“This argument reminds me of the story of Tom Tick,
which my father used to tell.”

“I have never heard that story,” Inga answered.

“Well, as he told it, it ran like this:

“When Tom walked out, the sky to spy,
A naughty gnat flew in his eye;
But Tom knew not it was a gnat —
He thought, at first, it was a cat.

“And then, it felt so very big,
He thought it surely was a pig
Till, standing still to hear it grunt,
He cried: ‘Why, it’s an elephunt!’

“But — when the gnat flew out again
And Tom was free from all his pain,
He said: ‘There flew into my eye
A leetle, teenty-tiny fly.'”

“Indeed,” said Inga, laughing, “the gnat was much
like your stones that seemed as big as mountains.”

After their dinner they inspected the palace, which
was filled with valuable goods stolen by King Gos from
many nations. But the day’s events had tired them and
they retired early to their big sleeping apartment.

“In the morning,” said the boy to Rinkitink, as he
was undressing for bed, “I shall begin the search for
my father and mother and the people of Pingaree. And,
when they are found and rescued, we will all go home
again, and be as happy as we were before.”

They carefully bolted the door of their room, that no
one might enter, and then got into their beds, where
Rinkitink fell asleep in an instant. The boy lay awake
for a while thinking over the day’s adventures, but
presently he fell sound asleep also, and so weary was
he that nothing disturbed his slumber until he awakened
next morning with a ray of sunshine in his eyes, which
had crept into the room through the open window by King
Rinkitink’s bed.

Resolving to begin the search for his parents without
any unnecessary delay, Inga at once got out of bed and
began to dress himself, while Rinkitink, in the other
bed, was still sleeping peacefully. But when the boy
had put on both his stockings and began looking for his
shoes, he could find but one of them. The left shoe,
that containing the Pink Pearl, was missing.

Filled with anxiety at this discovery, Inga searched
through the entire room, looking underneath the beds
and divans and chairs and behind the draperies and in
the corners and every other possible place a shoe might
be. He tried the door, and found it still bolted; so,
with growing uneasiness, the boy was forced to admit
that the precious shoe was not in the room.

With a throbbing heart he aroused his companion.

“King Rinkitink,” said he, “do you know what has
become of my left shoe?”

“Your shoe!” exclaimed the King, giving a wide yawn
and rubbing his eyes to get the sleep out of them.
“Have you lost a shoe?”

“Yes,” said Inga. “I have searched everywhere in the
room, and cannot find it.”

“But why bother me about such a small thing?”
inquired Rinkitink. “A shoe is only a shoe, and you can
easily get another one. But, stay! Perhaps it was your
shoe which I threw at the cat last night.”

“The cat!” cried Inga. “What do you mean?”

“Why, in the night,” explained Rinkitink, sitting up
and beginning to dress himself, “I was wakened by the
mewing of a cat that sat upon a wall of the palace,
just outside my window. As the noise disturbed me, I
reached out in the dark and caught up something and
threw it at the cat, to frighten the creature away. I
did not know what it was that I threw, and I was too
sleepy to care; but probably it was your shoe, since it
is now missing.”

“Then,” said the boy, in a despairing tone of voice,
“your carelessness has ruined me, as well as yourself,
King Rinkitink, for in that shoe was concealed the
magic power which protected us from danger.”

The King’s face became very serious when he heard
this and he uttered a low whistle of surprise and
regret.

“Why on earth did you not warn me of this?” he
demanded. “And why did you keep such a precious power
in an old shoe? And why didn’t you put the shoe under a
pillow? You were very wrong, my lad, in not confiding
to me, your faithful friend, the secret, for in that
case the shoe would not now be lost.”

To all this Inga had no answer. He sat on the side of
his bed, with hanging head, utterly disconsolate, and
seeing this, Rinkitink had pity for his sorrow.

“Come!” cried the King; “let us go out at once and
look for the shoe which I threw at the cat. It must
even now be lying in the yard of the palace.”

This suggestion roused the boy to action. He at once
threw open the door and in his stocking feet rushed
down the staircase, closely followed by Rinkitink. But
although they looked on both sides of the palace wall
and in every possible crack and corner where a shoe
might lodge, they failed to find it.

After a half hour’s careful search the boy said
sorrowfully:

“Someone must have passed by, as we slept, and taken
the precious shoe, not knowing its value. To us, King
Rinkitink, this will be a dreadful misfortune, for we
are surrounded by dangers from which we have now no
protection. Luckily I have the other shoe left, within
which is the magic power that gives me strength; so all
is not lost.”

Then he told Rinkitink, in a few words, the secret of
the wonderful pearls, and how he had recovered them
from the ruins and hidden them in his shoes, and how
they had enabled him to drive King Gos and his men from
Regos and to capture the city. The King was much
astonished, and when the story was concluded he said to
Inga:

“What did you do with the other shoe?”

“Why, I left it in our bedroom,” replied the boy.

“Then I advise you to get it at once,” continued
Rinkitink, “for we can ill afford to lose the second
shoe, as well as the one I threw at the cat.”

“You are right!” cried Inga, and they hastened back
to their bedchamber.

On entering the room they found an old woman sweeping
and raising a great deal of dust.

“Where is my shoe?” asked the Prince, anxiously.

The old woman stopped sweeping and looked at him in a
stupid way, for she was not very intelligent.

“Do you mean the one odd shoe that was lying on the
floor when I came in?” she finally asked.

“Yes — yes!” answered the boy. “Where is it? Tell me
where it is!”

“Why, I threw it on the dust-heap, outside the back
gate,” said she, “for, it being but a single shoe, with
no mate, it can be of no use to anyone.”

“Show us the way to the dust-heap — at once!”
commanded the boy, sternly, for he was greatly
frightened by this new misfortune which threatened him.

The old woman hobbled away and they followed her,
constantly urging her to hasten; but when they reached
the dust-heap no shoe was to be seen.

“This is terrible!” wailed the young Prince, ready to
weep at his loss. “We are now absolutely ruined, and at
the mercy of our enemies. Nor shall I be able to
liberate my dear father and mother.”

“Well,” replied Rinkitink, leaning against an old
barrel and looking quite solemn, “the thing is
certainly unlucky, any way we look at it. I suppose
someone has passed along here and, seeing the shoe upon
the dust-heap, has carried it away. But no one could
know the magic power the shoe contains and so will not
use it against us. I believe, Inga, we must now depend
upon our wits to get us out of the scrape we are in.

With saddened hearts they returned to the palace, and
entering a small room where no one could observe them
or overhear them, the boy took the White Pearl from its
silken bag and held it to his ear, asking:

“What shall I do now?”

“Tell no one of your loss,” answered the Voice of the
Pearl. “If your enemies do not know that you are
powerless, they will fear you as much as ever. Keep
your secret, be patient, and fear not!”

Inga heeded this advice and also warned Rinkitink to
say nothing to anyone of the loss of the shoes and the
powers they contained. He sent for the shoemaker of
King Gos, who soon brought him a new pair of red
leather shoes that fitted him quite well. When these
had been put upon his feet, the Prince, accompanied by
the King, started to walk through the city.

Wherever they went the people bowed low to the
conqueror, although a few, remembering Inga’s terrible
strength, ran away in fear and trembling. They had been
used to severe masters and did not yet know how they
would be treated by King Gos’s successor. There being
no occasion for the boy to exercise the powers he had
displayed the previous day, his present helplessness
was not suspected by any of the citizens of Regos, who
still considered him a wonderful magician.

Inga did not dare to fight his way to the mines, at
present, nor could he try to conquer the Island of
Coregos, where his mother was enslaved; so he set about
the regulation of the City of Regos, and having
established himself with great state in the royal
palace he began to govern the people by kindness,
having consideration for the most humble.

The King of Regos and his followers sent spies across
to the island they had abandoned in their flight, and
these spies returned with the news that the terrible
boy conqueror was still occupying the city. Therefore
none of them ventured to go back to Regos but continued
to live upon the neighboring island of Coregos, where
they passed the days in fear and trembling and sought
to plot and plan ways how they might overcome the
Prince of Pingaree and the fat King of Gilgad.

 

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