FictionForest

Chapter 10 – The Cunning of Queen Cor

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

Light off Small Medium Large

You may be sure the Queen of Coregos was not well
pleased to have King Gos and all his warriors living in
her city after they had fled from their own. They were
savage natured and quarrelsome men at all times, and
their tempers had not improved since their conquest by
the Prince of Pingaree. Moreover, they were eating up
Queen Cor’s provisions and crowding the houses of her
own people, who grumbled and complained until their
Queen was heartily tired.

“Shame on you!” she said to her husband, King Gos,
“to be driven out of your city by a boy, a roly-poly
King and a billy goat! Why do you not go back and fight
them?”

“No human can fight against the powers of magic,”
returned the King in a surly voice. “That boy is either
a fairy or under the protection of fairies. We escaped
with our lives only because we were quick to run away;
but, should we return to Regos, the same terrible power
that burst open the city gates would crush us all to
atoms.”

“Bah! you are a coward,” cried the Queen, tauntingly.

“I am not a coward,” said the big King. “I have
killed in battle scores of my enemies; by the might of
my sword and my good right arm I have conquered many
nations; all my life people have feared me. But no one
would dare face the tremendous power of the Prince of
Pingaree, boy though he is. It would not be courage, it
would be folly, to attempt it.”

“Then meet his power with cunning,” suggested the
Queen. “Take my advice, and steal over to Regos at
night, when it is dark, and capture or destroy the boy
while he sleeps.”

“No weapon can touch his body,” was the answer. “He
bears a charmed life and cannot be injured.”

“Does the fat King possess magic powers, or the
goat?” inquired Cor.

“I think not,” said Gos. “We could not injure them,
indeed, any more than we could the boy, but they did
not seem to have any unusual strength, although the
goat’s head is harder than a battering-ram.”

“Well,” mused the Queen, “there is surely some way to
conquer that slight boy. If you are afraid to undertake
the job, I shall go myself. By some stratagem I shall
manage to make him my prisoner. He will not dare to
defy a Queen, and no magic can stand against a woman’s
cunning.”

“Go ahead, if you like,” replied the King, with an
evil grin, “and if you are hung up by the thumbs or
cast into a dungeon, it will serve you right for
thinking you can succeed where a skilled warrior dares
not make the attempt.”

“I’m not afraid,” answered the Queen. “It is only
soldiers and bullies who are cowards.”

In spite of this assertion, Queen Cor was not so
brave as she was cunning. For several days she thought
over this plan and that, and tried to decide which was
most likely to succeed. She had never seen the boy
Prince but had heard so many tales of him from the
defeated warriors, and especially from Captain Buzzub,
that she had learned to respect his power.

Spurred on by the knowledge that she would never get
rid of her unwelcome guests until Prince Inga was
overcome and Regos regained for King Gos, the Queen of
Coregos finally decided to trust to luck and her native
wit to defeat a simple-minded boy, however powerful he
might be. Inga could not suspect what she was going to
do, because she did not know herself. She intended to
act boldly and trust to chance to win.

It is evident that had the cunning Queen known that
Inga had lost all his magic, she would not have devoted
so much time to the simple matter of capturing him, but
like all others she was impressed by the marvelous
exhibition of power he had shown in capturing Regos,
and had no reason to believe the boy was less powerful
now.

One morning Queen Cor boldly entered a boat, and,
taking four men with her as an escort and bodyguard,
was rowed across the narrow channel to Regos. Prince
Inga was sitting in the palace playing checkers with
King Rinkitink when a servant came to him, saying that
Queen Cor had arrived and desired an audience with him.

With many misgivings lest the wicked Queen discover
that he had now lost his magic powers, the boy ordered
her to be admitted, and she soon entered the room and
bowed low before him, in mock respect.

Cor was a big woman, almost as tall as King Gos. She
had flashing black eyes and the dark complexion you see
on gypsies. Her temper, when irritated, was something
dreadful, and her face wore an evil expression which
she tried to cover by smiling sweetly — often when she
meant the most mischief.

“I have come,” said she in a low voice, “to render
homage to the noble Prince of Pingaree. I am told that
Your Highness is the strongest person in the world, and
invincible in battle, and therefore I wish you to
become my friend, rather than my enemy.”

Now Inga did not know how to reply to this speech. He
disliked the appearance of the woman and was afraid of
her and he was unused to deception and did not know how
to mask his real feelings. So he took time to think
over his answer, which he finally made in these words:

“I have no quarrel with Your Majesty, and my only
reason for coming here is to liberate my father and
mother, and my people, whom you and your husband have
made your slaves, and to recover the goods King Gos has
plundered from the Island of Pingaree. This I hope soon
to accomplish, and if you really wish to be my friend,
you can assist me greatly.”

While he was speaking Queen Cor had been studying the
boy’s face stealthily, from the corners of her eyes,
and she said to herself: “He is so small and innocent
that I believe I can capture him alone, and with ease.
He does not seem very terrible and I suspect that King
Gos and his warriors were frightened at nothing.”

Then, aloud, she said to Inga:

“I wish to invite you, mighty Prince, and your
friend, the great King of Gilgad, to visit my poor
palace at Coregos, where all my people shall do you
honor. Will you come?”

“At present,” replied Inga, uneasily, “I must refuse
your kind invitation.”

“There will be feasting, and dancing girls, and games
and fireworks,” said the Queen, speaking as if eager to
entice him and at each word coming a step nearer to
where he stood.

“I could not enjoy them while my poor parents are
slaves,” said the boy, sadly.

“Are you sure of that?” asked Queen Cor, and by that
time she was close beside Inga. Suddenly she leaned
forward and threw both of her long arms around Inga’s
body, holding him in a grasp that was like a vise.

Now Rinkitink sprang forward to rescue his friend,
but Cor kicked out viciously with her foot and struck
the King squarely on his stomach — a very tender place
to be kicked, especially if one is fat. Then, still
hugging Inga tightly, the Queen called aloud:

“I’ve got him! Bring in the ropes.”

Instantly the four men she had brought with her
sprang into the room and bound the boy hand and foot.
Next they seized Rinkitink, who was still rubbing his
stomach, and bound him likewise.

With a laugh of wicked triumph, Queen Cor now led her
captives down to the boat and returned with them to
Coregos.

Great was the astonishment of King Gos and his
warriors when they saw that the mighty Prince of
Pingaree, who had put them all to flight, had been
captured by a woman. Cowards as they were, they now
crowded around the boy and jeered at him, and some of
them would have struck him had not the Queen cried out:

“Hands off! He is my prisoner, remember not yours.”

“Well, Cor, what are you going to do with him?”
inquired King Gos.

“I shall make him my slave, that he may amuse my idle
hours. For he is a pretty boy, and gentle, although he
did frighten all of you big warriors so terribly.”

The King scowled at this speech, not liking to be
ridiculed, but he said nothing more. He and his men
returned that same day to Regos, after restoring the
bridge of boats. And they held a wild carnival of
rejoicing, both in the King’s palace and in the city,
although the poor people of Regos who were not warriors
were all sorry that the kind young Prince had been
captured by his enemies and could rule them no longer.

When her unwelcome guests had all gone back to Regos
and the Queen was alone in her palace, she ordered Inga
and Rinkitink brought before her and their bonds
removed. They came sadly enough, knowing they were in
serious straits and at the mercy of a cruel mistress.
Inga had taken counsel of the White Pearl, which had
advised him to bear up bravely under his misfortune,
promising a change for the better very soon. With this
promise to comfort him, Inga faced the Queen with a
dignified bearing that indicated both pride and
courage.

“Well, youngster,” said she, in a cheerful tone
because she was pleased with her success, “you played a
clever trick on my poor husband and frightened him
badly, but for that prank I am inclined to forgive you.
Hereafter I intend you to be my page, which means that
you must fetch and carry for me at my will. And let me
advise you to obey my every whim without question or
delay, for when I am angry I become ugly, and when I am
ugly someone is sure to feel the lash. Do you
understand me?”

Inga bowed, but made no answer. Then she turned to
Rinkitink and said:

“As for you, I cannot decide how to make you useful
to me, as you are altogether too fat and awkward to
work in the fields. It may be, however, that I can use
you as a pincushion.

“What!” cried Rinkitink in horror, “would you stick
pins into the King of Gilgad?”

“Why not?” returned Queen Cor. “You are as fat as a
pincushion, as you must yourself admit, and whenever I
needed a pin I could call you to me.” Then she laughed
at his frightened look and asked: “By the way, are you
ticklish?”

This was the question Rinkitink had been dreading. He
gave a moan of despair and shook his head.

“I should love to tickle the bottom of your feet with
a feather,” continued the cruel woman. “Please take off
your shoes.”

“Oh, your Majesty!” pleaded poor Rinkitink, “I beg
you to allow me to amuse you in some other way. I can
dance, or I can sing you a song.”

“Well,” she answered, shaking with laughter, “you may
sing a song — if it be a merry one. But you do not
seem in a merry mood.”

“I feel merry — indeed, Your Majesty, I do!”
protested Rinkitink, anxious to escape the tickling.
But even as he professed to “feel merry” his round, red
face wore an expression of horror and anxiety that was
realty comical.

“Sing, then!” commanded Queen Cor, who was greatly
amused.

Rinkitink gave a sigh of relief and after clearing
his throat and trying to repress his sobs he began to
sing this song-gently, at first, but finally roaring it
out at the top of his voice:

“Oh!
There was a Baby Tiger lived in a men-ag-er-ie —

Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy — they wouldn’t set him free;
And ev’rybody thought that he was gentle as could be —

Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy — Ba-by Ti-ger!

“Oh!
They patted him upon his head and shook him by the paw —

Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy — he had a bone to gnaw;
But soon he grew the biggest Tiger that you ever saw —

Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy — what a Ti-ger!

“Oh!
One day they came to pet the brute and he began to fight —

Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy-how he did scratch and bite!
He broke the cage and in a rage he darted out of sight —

Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy was a Ti-ger!”

“And is there a moral to the song?” asked Queen Cor,
when King Rinkitink had finished his song with great
spirit.

“If there is,” replied Rinkitink, “it is a warning
not to fool with tigers.”

The little Prince could not help smiling at this
shrewd answer, but Queen Cor frowned and gave the King
a sharp look.

“Oh,” said she; “I think I know the difference
between a tiger and a lapdog. But I’ll bear the warning
in mind, just the same.”

For, after all her success in capturing them, she was
a little afraid of these people who had once displayed
such extraordinary powers.

 

Leave a Reply