Chapter 160172160

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160172160
Full Date1886-12-04
Page Number43
Corrections0
Word Count2047
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Captive Queen
article text

CHILDREN'S COLUMN.

THE CAPTIVE QUEEN.

IBT Lord Brabourme (E. H. Knatchbci.l

Hookssen).]

Author of "Puss-Cat Mew and other Fairy

Stories, Ac.

{From Harpers Young PegpM

CHAPTER I.

There was once a King who had everything in the world to make him happy. He ruled over a people who were so devoted to him and to his royal house that they took real pleasure in paying the taxes which went to Bnpport his crown and dignity. It is true that these taxes sat lightly upon them, be cause their country wsb rich and prosperous, and they were' thought to be snch a brave

nation that no enemy ever dared attack them, j So a long peace enabled them to plough and | sow, to buy and Bell, and to grow rich as fast as they could, and their King was never in want of money, for they gave him as much as he could poBsibly desire.

He had, moreover, something which was

more likely to make him happy than his { money, or than anything which his money could buy, and this something was a Queen whom everybody allowed to be the most beautiful and charming woman that they had ever Eeen. Her face and figure were both as nearly perfect as possible, and were only equalled by the BweetneBS of her disposition, which made everybody who came near her admire and love so delightful a creature. With such a wife the King might well be happy; and when I tell you that the royal pair were bleBBed with several children who were good and dutiful, as well as healthy and beautiful, you may well imagine that there

was little wanting to complete their perfect | happiness. Such a state of existence, how ever, is not permitted to anv of the dwellers npon earth, and for that reason, I suppose, the events which I am about to relate wero allowed to take place.

Upon one lovely summer's evening the King and Queen, having dined early, took it into their heads to stroll together in the gardens and shrubberies which Burrounded the palace. This was a pleasure in which they often in dulged, ana never before bad anytbiog occurred of a disagreeable nature. Upon this particular occasion, however, they bad not strolled far when the Queen suddenly discovered that she bad left her pocket-hand kerchief upon a table in the room which they had just left, and the King thereupon returned to fetch it, leaving her Beated upon a bench beneath an oak-tree, under whose leafy shade

the royal pair had passed many a pleasant 1 hour, aud which was a favourite spot with them both. <To hurry from the seat under the oak to the palace and back was certainly not the work of more than three minutes, and the King returned within that time, gayly Binging a stave of an old Bong as he waved the recovered handkerchief in his hand. What was hiB surprise to find that the Queen had disappeared!

At first he thought that she must have hidden herself behind the oak. Then the idea struck him that she must have wandered

into the wood beyond the shrubberies; but she had not had time to go far, and if this had been the case would surely have seen

her.

But he saw her not. He called aloud; ho uttered her name again and again in tones which betokened his alarm when there was no reply. He ran hastily to and fio, at one moment imploring his Amabilia (for such was the Queen's name) no longer to conceal her self, at the next giving vent to such lament able cries as would naturally proceed from an agitated mind. Still all was silent arouad him ; no voice replied to his frantic words; his beloved had disappeared juBt as if she had sunk into the ground beneath his feet, or flown up to the skies above his head; there was no Bign or trace of (her left, nor had he the slightest clue by means of which he might hope to discover the mystery of her disap pearance. Never before had the King been so completely baffled, and he could hardly believe the misfortune which had befallen him.

Returning hastily to the palace, when he bad searched and shouted until it was per fectly clear that shouting and searching were useleBB, he gave orders for bis Great Couucil of State to be immediately summoned, and while this was being done he dispatched numerous messengers through the shrubberies aud woodB, with directions to explore every thicket aud bush, and penetrate every cave and corner in which it was possible for a human being to be bidden. For although he felt sure that something very uncommon had happened to his adored Queen, the hope still lurked within hie breast that, even if she had been spirited away, or carried off by robbers, she might still be within the neighbourhood of the palace, and he therefore neglected no possible means which might lead to her re

covery.

The Great Council soon assembled, and having listened with due respect to the story which the King bad to tell them, took the matter at once into their serious considera tion, and talked over it together for three weary hours. At the end of this time they came to several resolutions, which the Prime Minister laid before the King, making at the same time an eloquent speech, at the end of which no one could possibly tell what he meant. The resolutions, however, spoke for themselves, and were well worthy of the talented men who had produced them.

The first was, that Her Majesty the Queen wbb lost; the second, that it was most desi rable that Bhe should be found; the third, that it was expedient to wait until something should turn up which might give them some idea where to look for her. When these resolutions were published, everybody was struck with the proof which they gave of the great wisdom of those who had prepared them, and the people were told by all the newspapers that there never had been such a Council and such a Prime Minister aB they bad then the good fortnne to possess.

Ab the people in tboBe days generally be lieved what the newspapers said, this was very satisfactory to everybody except the King. He, poor fellow, could not for the life of him see how these resolutions were likely to restore to his arms his lost Amabilia; ana being of an active mind, the idea of waiting for something to turn up was not at all ac

cording to Ills views of whatoughtto be done. If he bad-been tnpelied to follow the advice ot bis Great Council be would probably have gone mad ; but, fortunately for him, this was not the ease, for be was nut only a King in name, but bad power and authority such as kings had in those pld times. So as soon as be found that the course recommended to bim was that which any child or old woman conld have followed as well as a powerful monarch, and which' was unworthy of his rank and position, he dismissed hie Council, kicked the Prime Minister down stairs while he was still explaining his resolutions at great length, and ordered such measures to be taken as appeared to bim to be suggested by com

mon sense.

He caused advertisements to be put into all the newspapers, making his Iobs known, and offering a large reward to any one who would give such information as might throw any light upon the matter. He sent letters by special couriers to all other kings and princes, telling them what had happened, and asking them to make enquiries in their several kingdoms; and having done every thing in his power to invite assistance from every possible anaiter, he abandoned himself to his grief in a'proper and becoming manner. He gave up shaving, never had his hair cut, put on his clothes in a careless manner, went out without his bat, ate mustard with his fish and sugar with his roast beef, and, in short, did half a hundred of those extravagant and foolish thingB which are so often noticed in persons who are under the influence of a great

sorrow.

As the courtiers all thought it necessary to follow the example of their King, it will easily be imagined that the Court soon began to lose all appearance of splendour or even of neatness, and every one seemed to vie with hiB neighbour in discomfort and untidiness. The very Ministers appeared clad in old and ill-fitting garments; such a thing as a new bat or a well-brushed coat was never seen

within the palace walls, and the shadow of the heavy misfortune which had befallen the King' brooded over the whole of his do

minions.

This was indeed a sad state of things, and those who loved the King feared that his reason would become affected, and that even worse would follow. As day eucceeded day and no news was heard of the lost Queen, no change came over the aspect of the Court, the most hopeful people began to despair, and the future of the kingdom appeared dark

and desolate.

One fine morniDg, however, a wonderful thing took place. The KiDg, to the surprise of all the inhabitants of the palace, came down to breakfast with his hair properly brushed, bis beard decently shaved, and dressed in a red coat, with leather breeches and top boots, just as in the good old days he had always been used to appear upon hunt ing mornings. He roundly rated his personal attendants for their Blovenly appearance, told the Prime Minister that he looked as if he had not had a bath for a week, and sent the Lord Chamberlain home at once with direc tions to have his hair cut and to put on a

better coat. Then, while the other Ministers j

and courtiers were wondering what could be the meaning of this sudden and hopetul change, he told them that he had that night

had a dream of the greatest interest and the 1 most vital importance.

His hearers naturally showed much excite ment at tbii news, and earnestly besought

His Majesty to unfold his dream at once. { This, however, he declined to do in open Court, and desired that the Great Council should immediately be called. To them he declared that which had happened. In the dead of the night he bad been asleep, which was not uncommonly the case, nor was it unusual that when in sucn a state, especially after a hearty supper, he should be visited by dreams of a more or less exciting nature. But this particular dream had, in its excite ment and interest, surpassed any which he had ever had before.

An old man had appeared to him, dresBed in a long flowing garment, and wearing *

beard, perfectly white, which hung dowl I from his venerable face as far as below his waist, and then turned up again on eaoh side in a manner curious to behold. His face was furrowed by wrinkles which betokened great age, the hand which he stretched out toward the King trembled as if from the same cause, but his eyes were remarkably vivid, and almost dazzling in their brightness, and his voice was clear, although he spoke with tremulous accents and aB if the effort to do so cost him Borne exertion. So plainly did the King see this ancient man that he could hardly believe that it was only iD a dream that he did so, and with such startling clear ness did his words fall upon the royal ears that it seemed as if they had been spoken through a trumpet. And these were the strange words he spoke:—

" The cow, the rabbit, and the old k ingaroo

Came marching down the bill.

They said that the Queen to the King had been true

And had vanished against her will;

And where Bhe was gone to nobody knew

But the cow, and the rabbit, and tbe old kangaroo '

(To be continued )