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The Missing PrinceByG. E. Farrow
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Liczba stron: 151
The Missing Prince
G. E. Farrow
Illustrator: Harry Furniss and Dorothy Furniss
CHAPTER I.—PIERROT AND THE MOON.
CHAPTER II.—THE PARTY AT SAND CASTLE.
CHAPTER III.—PROFESSOR CRAB.
CHAPTER IV.—M.D. AND THE DOCTOR’S BILL.
CHAPTER V.—THE COUNCILLORS OF ZUM.
CHAPTER VI.—MRS. MARTHA MATILDA NIMPKY.
CHAPTER VII.—A STRANGE PARLIAMENT.
CHAPTER VIII.—OH AH, THE MAGICIAN.
CHAPTER IX.—THE ELECTION.
CHAPTER X.—“KINGS AND QUEENS GALORE.”
CHAPTER XI.—WHAT HAPPENED IN THE GRIM FOREST.
CHAPTER XII.—THE CONCLUSION OF THE WHOLE MATTER.
“THE LORD HIGH ADJUDICATOR HAD OVERDONE THE MATTER”
Dedicated To My Little Friend Ralph Cyril Lockhart Brandon. Known As “Boy.”
MY DEAR LITTLE FRIENDS,—
In the Preface to my last book I told you that when I closed my eyes I seemed to see hundreds of dear Children’s faces turned towards me asking for a story; and now, as so many copies of that book have been sold, I am bound to believe that not hundreds, but thousands, of little friends, to whom I was this time last year a stranger, are expecting another story from my pen.
Some of you may perhaps have seen the very kind things which so many of the papers said about “The Wallypug of Why.” Now I am going to tell you a secret, even at the risk of seeming ungrateful to them. It is this. Much as I value their kind opinion, and proud and happy as I am that my book has met with their approval, I value your criticism even more highly than theirs, and I am going to ask you to do me a great favour. I have had so many letters from little friends about “The Wallypug of Why” that it has made me greedy, and, like Oliver, I want more. So will you please write me a letter too, your very own self, telling me just what you think of these two books, and also what kind of story you want after my next one, which is to be a School story, called “Schooldays at St. Vedast’s,” and which will be published almost as soon as this one is? I did think of writing a story about pet animals, for I am very fond of them; so if you can tell me anything interesting about your dogs or cats, rabbits, or other favourites, I may perhaps find room for the account in my book. You can always address letters to me in this way, and then they will be sure to reach me wherever I am:—
“Mr. G. E. Farrow,
“C/o Messrs. Hutchinson & Co.,
“34, Paternoster Row,
Besides being a very great pleasure to me to receive these letters from you, it will help you, I hope, to feel that the Author of this book is in a measure a personal friend.
You will be pleased, I am sure, to see that Mr. Harry Furniss has again been able to give us some of his delightful pictures, and that his clever little daughter Dorothy has helped him.
I see that she has drawn, at the beginning of this Preface, some little folks with letters in their hands. I hope that they are for me, and that there are some from you amongst them.
Your affectionate Friend,
BOY was far too excited to go to sleep, so he lay gazing at the crescent Moon which shone through the window opposite his bed and thought of all the wonderful things which had happened on this most eventful of days. To begin quite at the beginning, he had, in his thoughts, to go right back to yesterday, when he had been sent to bed in the middle of the day, so that he might be rested for his long night journey to Scarborough with his Uncle. Then after having been asleep all the afternoon, he had been awakened in the evening just about the time when he usually went to bed, and, treat of treats, had been allowed to sit up to the table to late dinner with his Aunt and Uncle.
Soon after dinner they had started for their long drive to the Station through the brightly lighted streets which Boy had never before seen at night time, and when at last King’s Cross Station was reached, they had been hurried into a carriage with rugs and pillows and were soon steaming through the suburbs of London.
Boy had found plenty of amusement in watching the flashing lights out of the window till, as the train got further and further away from the town, the lights became fewer and fewer, and he drew the curtain and settled himself comfortably in a corner with a pillow and a rug.
His Uncle was deeply buried in his paper, and Boy did not like to disturb him, so he picked up Punch, which had fallen to the floor, and began to look at the pictures. He must have fallen asleep soon afterwards, for he did not remember anything else till they reached York, where they had to change trains, and where they had hot coffee and sandwiches. Then when the train started again Boy’s Uncle had pointed out to him the square towers of York Minster showing clearly against the green and gold sky of early morning; and then Boy had gone to sleep again and did not wake up till they reached Scarborough, where a carriage was waiting to take them to the Hotel. Boy looked about him with great interest as they drove through the half-deserted streets, for it was still very early in the morning. He could see the ruins of an old castle at the end of the street, and as they turned a corner the sea flashing in the morning sunlight burst into view.
Boy thought that he had never before seen anything so beautiful. There was the great bay with the castle at one end and Oliver’s Mount at the other, the quay and the little lighthouse, and a lot of ships, while out at sea was a whole fleet of brown sailed fishing-smacks coming in with their spoil of fish. Hundreds of sea-gulls were wheeling round and round uttering their peculiarly shrill cry, and altogether it was a most beautiful sight.
Boy’s Uncle had stopped the carriage for a few moments so that they might admire it, and then they had driven to the Hotel at the top of the cliffs, and after having a refreshing wash had gone down to a large room where a number of ladies and gentlemen were having breakfast Boy had been far too excited to eat much, particularly as his Uncle had promised him a pony ride at eleven. So as soon as breakfast was over he had stood by the window watching the people passing, till oh! Joy of joys! There came to the door of the Hotel the loveliest little pony with such a long tail and mane and his Uncle’s big chestnut horse Rajah, which had been sent down by train the day before.
What a delightful time it had been, to be sure, as they rode down through the Valley Park to the seashore, and what a splendid canter they had on the hard sand! And then as they rode slowly back again Boy had noticed some beautiful sand castles which the children were building on the shore, collecting pennies in boxes for the hospitals from those who stopped to admire them; lovely castles with flags and trees and toy animals out of Noah’s Ark, and quaint little rustic bridges and garden seats in the gardens belonging to them, and Boy had thought how jolly it would be if one could be small enough to walk about in them. Then he had heard some one singing, and his Uncle had taken him to where a large crowd was gathered around some curiously dressed people in white costumes with big black buttons and with big frills around their necks and at their wrists; they wore black skull caps with white conical caps over these. They were called, so Boy found out, the Pierrot Troupe, and one of them was singing about a little Tin Soldier who was in love with a beautiful Doll with eyes that opened and shut with a wire, but who would not have anything to say to him because he was only marked one-and-nine, while another soldier on the shelf above him was marked two-and-three, till presently some one changed the labels and marked him two-and-three, and the other one one-and-nine. Then the little Doll had altered her mind, and had promised to marry him, and had forsaken the other poor fellow, who was now marked only one-and-nine. Boy was very much amused at the song, but felt very sorry for poor one-and-nine, and kept talking about it all the way back to the Hotel as they went back to luncheon, which was of course Boy’s dinner.
In the afternoon they had gone for a lovely drive in an open carriage all through the beautiful Forge Valley, and then after tea Boy had been taken to the Spa to hear the band play; and now after all these wonderful treats he was lying, as I said before, wide awake in his little strange bed watching the Moon through the half-open window.
What a big Moon it was, to be sure—quite the largest Boy had ever seen, he thought, and surely, yes, surely there is some one sitting in it playing upon a banjo! Why, it’s Pierrot! and the Moon is coming nearer and nearer till Boy can hear that he is still singing about the little Tin Soldier. In a great state of excitement Boy sat up in bed.
“I wonder if he is coming here,” he thought, as he watched eagerly. Yes! Closer and closer came the Moon, till presently Pierrot stepped on to the window-sill and, pushing the window further open, jumped lightly on to the floor and made Boy a polite bow.
“I’ve brought you an invitation,” he said, “to the wedding festivities in connection with the little Tin Soldier’s marriage with the Dolly-girl”; and he handed Boy a large envelope with a red seal.
“ ‘I’VE BROUGHT YOU AN INVITATION,’ HE SAID.”
“Oh! How kind of you!” said Boy, forgetting even his surprise in the delight of receiving such a novel invitation. He hastily opened the envelope and found a card within bearing the following words:—
“Mr. and Mrs. Waxxe-Doll request the pleasure of Master Boy’s company at the wedding festivities celebrating the marriage between their daughter, Miss Dolly-girl, and Captain Two-and-Three, Royal Tin Hussars.
“The Shore, Scarborough.”
“How splendid!” said Boy. “Can you please tell me, sir, what R.S.V.P. means? I’ve seen it on invitation cards before?”
“I am not quite certain,” replied Pierrot; “but in this case I think it must mean Ridiculous Society and Violent Papa. You see, being a toy wedding, they are obliged by toy etiquette to ask all the articles on the same shelf as the bride and bridegroom, and so the company is bound to be rather mixed, and the bride’s father is afflicted with the most violent temper you have ever heard of.”
“Dear me!” said Boy, “perhaps I had better not go.”
“Oh, it will be all right,” said Pierrot. “Whenever he feels his temper getting the better of him he very wisely shuts himself up in a room by himself till it’s all over, so you need not be in the least afraid. But, I say, we had better be starting, you know; it’s getting rather late.”
“TAKING PIERROT’S HAND HE STEPPED FROM THE WINDOW-SILL.”
Boy hurriedly dressed himself, and taking Pierrot’s hand he stepped from the window-sill into the Moon, which was conveniently close to the window. It was very much like a boat, Boy thought, as he sat down and made himself comfortable on one of the little cushioned seats which stretched from one side of the Moon to the other. They had only floated a very little way down the street, however, when the Moon began to descend and then stopped, just at the top of the long flight of steps near the Spa, which led to the seashore. Pierrot jumped out, and, after helping Boy to alight, told him that at the bottom of the steps he would find somebody waiting to conduct him to Sand Castle.
“Aren’t you coming too?” asked Boy in surprise.
“No,” replied Pierrot, “we must be off, the Moon and I, or people will wonder what has become of us. Goodbye!” and getting into the Moon again he was soon floating rapidly away.
Boy was somewhat alarmed at his sudden disappearance, and felt half inclined to run back to the Hotel. “Perhaps I had better go down to the bottom of the steps, though,” he thought, “and see who is there;” and he had got half way down when he suddenly stopped in dismay. Why, he was growing shorter! There could be no doubt about it. He could see to his great surprise that he was only about half as tall as he had been when he started running down the steps.
Whatever should he do? Boy now felt really alarmed. Why, if he went on at that rate there would soon be nothing at all left of him.
“What’s the matter, sonny?” said a tiny voice near him.
Boy looked around, but could see no one.
“What’s the matter, I say?” said the voice again.
“I’m sure I don’t know,” said Boy, who thought that it was only polite to speak when spoken to, even although he could not see the speaker. “I am growing smaller and smaller, and I don’t know whatever to do.”
“Well, my little man,” said the voice, “you are going to the toy party, aren’t you? How do you expect to get into Sand Castle the ridiculous size that you are at present? You will keep on getting smaller and smaller each step you take till you reach the bottom, when you will be the respectable height of six inches or so.”
“Six inches!” exclaimed Boy. “Oh dear! oh dear! What a tiny mite I shall be, to be sure, and I did so want to be big like Uncle!”
“Do you call six inches small?” said the voice. “Why, I am twenty times as small as that.”
“Are you really? No wonder I can’t see you, then,” remarked Boy. “I should think it isn’t very nice to be so insignificant as that, is it?”
“A SUDDEN PAIN IN HIS ARM.”
A sudden pain in his arm made him shout “Oh!” and while he was wondering whatever could have caused it, he heard the voice repeating these words:—
“You need not think because I’m small
That I’ve no reputation,
I do not hesitate to say
I’m known throughout the nation.
“By every lady in the land
I’m held in high esteem,
The strongest men require my aid,
However weak I seem.
“And even you must fain admit
That I’m both sharp and bright,
And probably will want my help
Yourself before to-night.
“So don’t attempt to ‘sit’ on me,
‘Twould not be wise of you.
‘My name?’ An ordinary Pin.
D’ye see the point? Adieu.”
“Good gracious!” exclaimed Boy; “just fancy a pin talking to one! I wonder whatever will happen next. Well, I certainly felt the point if I didn’t see it,” he continued, rubbing his arm and hurrying down the steps, for he didn’t so much mind now he really knew what to expect about his size.
GROWING shorter and shorter as he hurried along, Boy noticed that the Moon had gone back to its usual place in the sky, and that Pierrot was nowhere to be seen.
“I suppose he is lying down asleep on the cushions,” he thought, as he let himself down from one step to another; for you see he had by this time become so small that the steps seemed like huge rocks to him.
When he at last reached the bottom one, he was greatly disappointed to find that there was nobody in sight. From behind a piece of rock, however, half buried in the sand, came the sound of laughter. “Ha, ha, ha! Hee, hee, hee! Ho, ho!” shouted somebody, and when Boy hurried up to where the sounds proceeded from a curious sight met his eyes.
A Grig was pirouetting about on the tip of its tail, giggling and laughing in an insane fashion, whilst a solemn-looking Wooden Soldier was standing at “attention” and looking straight in front of him, not taking the slightest notice of the Grig or anything else.
Presently the Grig caught sight of Boy. “Hee, hee, hee!” he snickered, “here comes a boy! What a jolly lark!” and he capered about more madly than before.
The Wooden Soldier, who had a label round his neck with “One-and-Nine” written on it, turned stiffly around, so that he faced Boy, and said in a deep voice,—
“I wote for you at the bottom of the step for some time, but was obligated to move to a more shelterous situation, as I am suffering from a stiff neck.”
“You wote for me!” exclaimed Boy, “whatever do you mean?”
“Wote, past participle of the verb to wait. Wait, wite, wote, you know,” answered the Soldier.
“Hee, hee, hee! Isn’t he a cure?” laughed the Grig, winking at Boy, and twirling about at such a rate that it made Boy quite giddy to look at him.
“He’s been crossed in love, and it’s touched his brain—ha, ha, ha!—he fancies that he has invented a new system of Grammar. What a lark! Ha, ha, ha! Ho, ho!” and he rolled about in an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
“Well, of all the extraordinary individuals that I have ever met,” thought Boy, “these two are certainly the most remarkable! I wonder which of them is to show me the way to Sand Castle. I had better ask.”
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