FictionForest

Chapter 24 – The Captive King

L. Frank BaumOct 05, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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One morning, just as the royal party was finishing
breakfast, a servant came running to say that a great
fleet of boats was approaching the island from the
south. King Kitticut sprang up at once, in great alarm,
for he had much cause to fear strange boats. The others
quickly followed him to the shore to see what invasion
might be coming upon them.

Inga was there with the first, and Nikobob and Zella
soon joined the watchers. And presently, while all were
gazing eagerly at the approaching fleet, King Rinkitink
suddenly cried out:

“Get your pearls, Prince Inga — get them quick!”

“Are these our enemies, then?” asked the boy, looking
with surprise upon the fat little King, who had begun
to tremble violently.

“They are my people of Gilgad!” answered Rinkitink,
wiping a tear from his eye. “I recognize my royal
standards flying from the boats. So, please, dear Inga,
get out your pearls to protect me!”

“What can you fear at the hands of your own
subjects?” asked Kitticut, astonished.

But before his frightened guest could answer the
question Prince Bobo, who was standing beside his
friend, gave an amused laugh and said:

“You are caught at last, dear Rinkitink. Your people
will take you home again and oblige you to reign as
King.”

Rinkitink groaned aloud and clasped his hands
together with a gesture of despair, an attitude so
comical that the others could scarcely forbear
laughing.

But now the boats were landing upon the beach. They
were fifty in number, beautifully decorated and
upholstered and rowed by men clad in the gay uniforms
of the King of Gilgad. One splended boat had a throne
of gold in the center, over which was draped the King’s
royal robe of purple velvet, embroidered with gold
buttercups.

Rinkitink shuddered when he saw this throne; but now
a tall man, handsomely dressed, approached and knelt
upon the grass before his King, while all the other
occupants of the boats shouted joyfully and waved their
plumed hats in the air.

“Thanks to our good fortune,” said the man who
kneeled, “we have found Your Majesty at last!”

“Pinkerbloo,” answered Rinkitink sternly, “I must
have you hanged, for thus finding me against my will.”

“You think so now, Your Majesty, but you will never
do it,” returned Pinkerbloo, rising and kissing the
King’s hand.

“Why won’t I?” asked Rinkitink.

“Because you are much too tender-hearted, Your
Majesty.”

“It may be — it may be,” agreed Rinkitink, sadly.
“It is one of my greatest failings. But what chance
brought you here, my Lord Pinkerbloo?”

“We have searched for you everywhere, sire, and all
the people of Gilgad have been in despair since you so
mysteriously disappeared. We could not appoint a new
King, because we did not know but that you still lived;
so we set out to find you, dead or alive. After
visiting many islands of the Nonestic Ocean we at last
thought of Pingaree, from where come the precious
pearls; and now our faithful quest has been rewarded.”

“And what now?” asked Rinkitink.

“Now, Your Majesty, you must come home with us, like
a good and dutiful King, and rule over your people,”
declared the man in a firm voice.

“I will not.”

“But you must — begging Your Majesty’s pardon for
the contradiction.”

“Kitticut,” cried poor Rinkitink, “you must save me
from being captured by these, my subjects. What! must I
return to Gilgad and be forced to reign in splendid
state when I much prefer to eat and sleep and sing in
my own quiet way? They will make me sit in a throne
three hours a day and listen to dry and tedious affairs
of state; and I must stand up for hours at the court
receptions, till I get corns on my heels; and forever
must I listen to tiresome speeches and endless
petitions and complaints!”

“But someone must do this, Your Majesty,” said
Pinkerbloo respectfully, “and since you were born to be
our King you cannot escape your duty.”

“‘Tis a horrid fate!” moaned Rinkitink. “I would die
willingly, rather than be a King — if it did not hurt
so terribly to die.”

“You will find it much more comfortable to reign than
to die, although I fully appreciate Your Majesty’s
difficult position and am truly sorry for you,” said
Pinkerbloo.

King Kitticut had listened to this conversation
thoughtfully, so now he said to his friend:

“The man is right, dear Rinkitink. It is your duty to
reign, since fate has made you a King, and I see no
honorable escape for you. I shall grieve to lose your
companionship, but I feel the separation cannot be
avoided.”

Rinkitink sighed.

“Then,” said he, turning to Lord Pinkerbloo, “in
three days I will depart with you for Gilgad; but
during those three days I propose to feast and make
merry with my good friend King Kitticut.”

Then all the people of Gilgad shouted with delight
and eagerly scrambled ashore to take their part in the
festival.

Those three days were long remembered in Pingaree,
for never — before nor since — has such feasting and
jollity been known upon that island. Rinkitink made the
most of his time and everyone laughed and sang with him
by day and by night.

Then, at last, the hour of parting arrived and the
King of Gilgad and Ruler of the Dominion of Rinkitink
was escorted by a grand procession to his boat and
seated upon his golden throne. The rowers of the fifty
boats paused, with their glittering oars pointed into
the air like gigantic uplifted sabres, while the people
of Pingaree — men, women and children — stood upon
the shore shouting a royal farewell to the jolly King.

Then came a sudden hush, while Rinkitink stood up
and, with a bow to those assembled to witness his
departure, sang the following song, which he had just
composed for the occasion.

“Farewell, dear Isle of Pingaree —
The fairest land in all the sea!
No living mortals, kings or churls,
Would scorn to wear thy precious pearls.

“King Kitticut, ’tis with regret
I’m forced to say farewell; and yet
Abroad no longer can I roam
When fifty boats would drag me home.

“Good-bye, my Prince of Pingaree;
A noble King some time you’ll be
And long and wisely may you reign
And never face a foe again!”

They cheered him from the shore; they cheered him
from the boats; and then all the oars of the fifty
boats swept downward with a single motion and dipped
their blades into the purple-hued waters of the
Nonestic Ocean.

As the boats shot swiftly over the ripples of the sea
Rinkitink turned to Prince Bobo, who had decided not to
desert his former master and his present friend, and
asked anxiously:

“How did you like that song, Bilbil — I mean Bobo?
Is it a masterpiece, do you think?”

And Bobo replied with a smile:

“Like all your songs, dear Rinkitink, the sentiment
far excels the poetry.”

 

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