|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Captive Queen|
THE CAPTIVE QUEEN.
I By Lord Brabourne (E. H. Knatchboll
Author oE "Fuss-Cat Mew" and other Fairy
[From Harper's Young People.]
'With the sound still ringing in his ears, the King awoke, and started up in bed with the intention of asking the old man what he meant. But there was no old man there. Everything wassilent except the ticking of the clock on the mantelpieoe; there was no light save that which the rays of the moon gave through the half-closed curcains of one ot the windows ; no trace remained of any myste rious visitor, and for half a moment the King believed that he must have been mistaken. But no—it was impossible ; that figure was too real to have been only the fanciful crea tion of his brain; those rhymeB, strange and ludicrous as they would have seemed at another time, referred to the present unhappy circumBtanceB too plainly to be mistaken. The dream (if dream indeed it were) had evidently been sent for seme purpose, and it would be folly and madness to neglect the information which it conveyed.
The King sprang from his bed, hastily drew aside the curtains of all the windows in his room, and gazed out into the night as if he expected that the moonlight would dis close some further part of the vision which had roused him from his slumbers. It was not so. He gazed in vain. Everything appeared to be the same as usual, and with a Bigh of disappointment the monarch once more betook himBelf to his bed—but not to
rest. Bleep had forsaken the royal pillow for the rest of that night; the King tossed to and fro in weary longiog for the morn ing, aB uncomfortable &b a sick person disturbed by a mouse, or, worse still, one who is tormented by a crumb in his bed which worries him whenever he moves.
Ab, however, all things come to an end at l&Bt, so did that long and dreary night, and as soon as the dawn of daylight lit up hie bedroom, and the shadows of night had faded away before the rising run, the royal dreamer arose once more, determined to summon the wise men of his kingdom with the least pos sible delay, in order to obtain from them an explanation of his wonderful dream. He had not to wait for their advice, however, before some little help came to him from another quarter. On entering his dressing-room he perceived to his great surprise that, instead of his usual morning dress, his hnnting clothes had been put out for him, although he was perfectly sure that he had given no orders that they should be so placed. There might, of course, have been some mistake on the part of the servants, bat as these, on being asked, one and all denied that they bad put the clothes where they had been found, His Majesty naturally came to the conclusion that it was the act of no mortal hand, and, taken in connection with his dream, that the meaning of the latter was in some way or another to be discovered by the use of the clothes. As the ordinary way of making use of these was to put them on, the King at once proceeded to do so; and as
those who had intended them to be worn doubtless intended also that the sport to
which they belonged should fas followed, the royal commands were issued for a hunting party, and the members of the Great Conncil were told, as soon as they had assembled and heard the King's story, that they must at once prepare to attend the hunt.
They looked at each other in astonishment as they received the orders, being unable to discover any connection between the dream which they had heard and the pleasures of the chase which they were commanded to follow. It was not usual to hunt oows, a rabbit seemed rather an ignoble object of pnisnit for a powerful monarch, and a kan garoo had never been heard of in that conntry. Still, the King's orders must be obeyed, and in due time everything was made ready, and every minister, courtier, and other person who could obtain a horse went forth to the hunting party which had been so snddenly arranged.
The chief huntsman, clad in bright colours, led the way to the forest, and the noble pack of bounds, in which the King had always taken great pleasure and interest, entered upon their work with lively joy, and soon
made the hills and dales re-echo with their | deep voices. I do not know (because those who told me the story did not mention) what was the game which they pursued—whether
stag, boar, wolf, or fox waB the especial object J of that day's chase; and therefore I will not graft anything of my own invention upon this truthful history. All I have to do with are the main facts which bear upon the important event which had caused the hunting party to take place, and how those facts occurred upon this eventful day.
The foreBt was upon the side of the vast mountains which rose on one side of the palace, and extended for many miles each way. It was an immense tract of woodland, and composed of various kinds of trees; at one time you were surrounded by oaks of mighty size, then yon found yourself ia the miast of low beeoh coppices extending right and left as far as you could see, and again you snddenly entered a huge grove of pins and fir trees stretching to an apparently end less length.
On rode the King and his court, and the sound of the horns rang through the forest as the hunt rolled away to the right, the gay colours of the riders and the trappings of their horses forming a pleasing contrast with the darker hues of the woodland through which tbey passed.
Suddenly the King reined in his steed, and turning away from his attendants, rode away down a track to the left as fast as he oould go. The courtiers pansed for an instant, and then dutifully followed their sovereign, who, however, rode at such a furious pace that he very Boon disappeared from their sight. On they pushed notwithstanding, and for some time continued their pursuit without the smallest idea of what the King intended by his hasty flight, or in what directum he was going. Suddenly, however, they emerged from the pine forest through which his head long race had been taken, and found them selves in the midst of one of the broad tracks which traversed the mountain from top to bottom, and although principally used by wood-cutterB and peasants, formed the only means of communication with the country which lay beyond the foreBt, excepting the
river which flowed around the base of the mountains. Here the courtiers drew reiu, for a eight met their eyes the like of whioh none of tbem had ever seen before.
Tie King, dismounted from his horse, stood holding it by the rein in the very middle of the track, while slowly descending and approaching the spot where he stood was a procession of an extraordinary cha
On the right was a large dun cow, in the middle a rabbit, and on the left an animal which none of the lookers-on had ever seen before, but which, from pictures with which they were acquainted, they knew at once to be a kangaroo.
But it was not only the appearance of these three animals which excited the astonish ment of the courtiers. There was something which suprised them still more. The cow had around her neck a collar, to which were fastened a set of hand-bells, which she rang, perfectly in time and tune, in a manner which was little short of miraculous; the rabbit had a fife, on which he accompanied the hand bells with wonderful correctness; and the kangaroo had a belt around his waist to which was attached a drum, upon which he beat the accompaniment with a zeal and energy which caused the woods to re echo with the sound, and his hoaTse voice, together with the shrill treble of the rabbit and the deep bass of the cow, filled the air with the following words, which every one of the listeners distinctly heard as if spoken in his
"The cow, the rabbit, and the old kangaroo
Come marching down the hill;
They Bay that tbe Queen to the King has been true,
And has vanished against her will ;
But where she has gone to nobodv knew
But the cow and the rabbit and tbe old kangaroo!"
As this strange procession drew quite close to the King, the three animals came to a stop, and once more sang the same words to the same curious tune to whioh they had been singing it since they came into view.
It may well be supposed that the royal bosom was agitated by the most conflicting feelings. Joy that he nad obeyed the uncon trollable impulse which had led him to turn his horse away from the hunt; hope that he was at length about to hear tidings of his lost Amabilia; doubt and fear as to what those tidings might be—all these feelings kept the King silent for a few seconds, and then, hie deep affection for his Queen overcoming every other sensation, he exclaimed, in a voice the accents of which trembled with the emotion of his heart—
" Ob, cow, rabbit, and kangaroo, only tell me how to get back my Queen, andthe names of all three of you shall be blessed by me and mine for evermore!"
To these wordB tbe animals replied in a manner which the King hardly expected. The kangaroo gave a curious sonnd between a bark and a grunt, the rabbit squeaked shrilly, and the cow, opening her mouth widely, gave vent to a moo which sounded loudly over hill and dale.
As these sounds told the King nothing,
because he had never been properly instructed in tbe animal language, he was about to say something more on hiB own account aud in his own tongue, when the three creatures before him began a new song whioh ran after the following fashion—
1 Take up tbe rabbit, and ride the cow,
" 1 folio " '
And follow the kangaroo.
And thus shall yon learn the 'where' and tbe 'how,'
And what ycu have got to do."
(To be continued.)