FictionForest

Chapter 16 – Nikobob Refuses a Crown

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

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Almost the first persons that Zella saw when she landed
from the silver-lined boat at Regos were her father and
mother. Nikobob and his wife had been greatly worried
when their little daughter failed to return from
Coregos, so they had set out to discover what had
become of her. When they reached the City of Regos,
that very morning, they were astonished to hear news of
all the strange events that had taken place; still,
they found comfort when told that Zella had been seen
in the boat of Prince Inga, which had gone to the
north. Then, while they wondered what this could mean,
the silver-lined boat appeared again, with their
daughter in it, and they ran down to the shore to give
her a welcome and many joyful kisses.

Inga invited the good people to the palace of King
Gos, where he conferred with them, as well as with
Rinkitink and Bilbil.

“Now that the King and Queen of Regos and Coregos
have run away,” he said, “there is no one to rule these
islands. So it is my duty to appoint a new ruler, and
as Nikobob, Zella’s father, is an honest and worthy
man, I shall make him the King of the Twin Islands.”

“Me?” cried Nikobob, astounded by this speech. “I beg
Your Highness, on my bended knees, not to do so cruel a
thing as to make me King!”

“Why not?” inquired Rinkitink. “I’m a King, and I
know how it feels. I assure you, good Nikobob, that I
quite enjoy my high rank, although a jeweled crown is
rather heavy to wear in hot weather.”

“With you, noble sir, it is different,” said Nikobob,
“for you are far from your kingdom and its trials and
worries and may do as you please. But to remain in
Regos, as King over these fierce and unruly warriors,
would be to live in constant anxiety and peril, and the
chances are that they would murder me within a month.
As I have done no harm to anyone and have tried to be a
good and upright man, I do not think that I should be
condemned to such a dreadful fate.”

“Very well,” replied Inga, “we will say no more about
your being King. I merely wanted to make you rich and
prosperous, as I had promised Zella.”

“Please forget that promise,” pleaded the charcoal-
burner, earnestly; “I have been safe from molestation
for many years, because I was poor and possessed
nothing that anyone else could envy. But if you make me
rich and prosperous I shall at once become the prey of
thieves and marauders and probably will lose my life in
the attempt to protect my fortune.”

Inga looked at the man in surprise.

“What, then, can I do to please you?” he inquired.

“Nothing more than to allow me to go home to my poor
cabin,” said Nikobob.

“Perhaps,” remarked King Rinkitink, “the charcoal-
burner has more wisdom concealed in that hard head of
his than we gave him credit for. But let us use that
wisdom, for the present, to counsel us what to do in
this emergency.”

“What you call my wisdom,” said Nikobob, “is merely
common sense. I have noticed that some men become rich,
and are scorned by some and robbed by others. Other men
become famous, and are mocked at and derided by their
fellows. But the poor and humble man who lives
unnoticed and unknown escapes all these troubles and is
the only one who can appreciate the joy of living.”

“If I had a hand, instead of a cloven hoof, I’d like
to shake hands with you, Nikobob,” said Bilbil the
goat. “But the poor man must not have a cruel master,
or he is undone.”

During the council they found, indeed, that the
advice of the charcoal-burner was both shrewd and
sensible, and they profited much by his words.

Inga gave Captain Buzzub the command of the warriors
and made him promise to keep his men quiet and orderly
— if he could. Then the boy allowed all of King Gos’s
former slaves, except those who came from Pingaree, to
choose what boats they required and to stock them with
provisions and row away to their own countries. When
these had departed, with grateful thanks and many
blessings showered upon the boy Prince who had set them
free, Inga made preparations to send his own people
home, where they were told to rebuild their houses and
then erect a new royal palace. They were then to await
patiently the coming of King Kitticut or Prince Inga.

“My greatest worry,” said the boy to his friends, “is
to know whom to appoint to take charge of this work of
restoring Pingaree to its former condition. My men are
all pearl fishers, and although willing and honest,
have no talent for directing others how to work.”

While the preparations for departure were being made,
Nikobob offered to direct the men of Pingaree, and did
so in a very capable manner. As the island had been
despoiled of all its valuable furniture and draperies
and rich cloths and paintings and statuary and the
like, as well as gold and silver and ornaments, Inga
thought it no more than just that they be replaced by
the spoilers. So he directed his people to search
through the storehouses of King Gos and to regain all
their goods and chattels that could be found. Also he
instructed them to take as much else as they required
to make their new homes comfortable, so that many boats
were loaded full of goods that would enable the people
to restore Pingaree to its former state of comfort.

For his father’s new palace the boy plundered the
palaces of both Queen Cor and King Gos, sending enough
wares away with his people to make King Kitticut’s new
residence as handsomely fitted and furnished as had
been the one which the ruthless invaders from Regos had
destroyed.

It was a great fleet of boats that set out one
bright, sunny morning on the voyage to Pingaree,
carrying all the men, women and children and all the
goods for refitting their homes. As he saw the fleet
depart, Prince Inga felt that he had already
successfully accomplished a part of his mission, but he
vowed he would never return to Pingaree in person until
he could take his father and mother there with him;
unless, indeed, King Gos wickedly destroyed his beloved
parents, in which case Inga would become the King of
Pingaree and it would be his duty to go to his people
and rule over them.

It was while the last of the boats were preparing to
sail for Pingaree that Nikobob, who had been of great
service in getting them ready, came to Inga in a
thoughtful mood and said:

“Your Highness, my wife and my daughter Zella have
been urging me to leave Regos and settle down in your
island, in a new home. From what your people have told
me, Pingaree is a better place to live than Regos, and
there are no cruel warriors or savage beasts there to
keep one in constant fear for the safety of those he
loves. Therefore, I have come to ask to go with my
family in one of the boats.”

Inga was much pleased with this proposal and not only
granted Nikobob permission to go to Pingaree to live,
but instructed him to take with him sufficient goods to
furnish his new home in a comfortable manner. In
addition to this, he appointed Nikobob general manager
of the buildings and of the pearl fisheries, until his
father or he himself arrived, and the people approved
this order because they liked Nikobob and knew him to
be just and honest.

Soon as the last boat of the great flotilla had
disappeared from the view of those left at Regos, Inga
and Rinkitink prepared to leave the island themselves.
The boy was anxious to overtake the boat of King Gos,
if possible, and Rinkitink had no desire to remain in
Regos.

Buzzub and the warriors stood silently on the shore
and watched the black boat with its silver lining
depart, and I am sure they were as glad to be rid of
their unwelcome visitors as Inga and Rinkitink and
Bilbil were to leave.

The boy asked the White Pearl what direction the boat
of King Gos had taken and then he followed after it,
rowing hard and steadily for eight days without
becoming at all weary. But, although the black boat
moved very swiftly, it failed to overtake the barge
which was rowed by Queen Cor’s forty picked oarsmen.

 

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