|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Captive Queen|
THE CAPTIVE QUEEN.
I By Lobd Brabovrne (E. h. Knatchbull
Author of "Fuss-Cat Mew" and other Fairy
[From Harper's Young People.1
These directions were so plain that the King could hardly mistake them, and as if to make matters still clearer, the kangaroo turned round and prepared to lead the way.
while the cow and the rabbit came still closer to him, evidently quite ready to take their share in the business. The cow knelt down in order to make it more easy for His Majesty to mount, and the rabbit crept up within reach of his hand. Under ordinary circum stances the King might have hesitated to play the part assigned to him, but the cir cumstances were not ordinary, and his love for his lost Queen, and desire to regain her, were so strong within his breast as to leave no room for hesitation. Therefore without any delay he let go the reins of his horse, carefully lifted the rabbit from the ground and seated himBelf astride on the cow in full view of his astonished courtiers. The cow forthwith stood up again on her four legs and with a moo of evident satisfaction began to follow the kangaroo into the wood upon the other side of tne track, and in a few mo ments the anxious lookers-on could see no more of their monaroh and his strange com
The King, meanwhile, was naturally full of wonder and excitement. Accustomed from his youth up to ride upon a saddle, he did not feel particularly comfortable upon the bare back of his new steed, but being prepared to undergo some hardships for the sake of hiB Amabilia, he determined to make the best of it. On pushed the kangaroo, who had now ceased beating his drum, and in a short time the pinetrees were left behind, and the party came to a part of the forest where there were not so many trees, but only a few stunted oaks and beech, and a quantity of gorse bushes, and rocks embedded in a sandy soil. It was a part of the forest which the King did not remember to have seen before, but he had not much time to notice the scenery, being entirely occupied in ob serving the actions of his three companions. When they had arrived opposite one enor mous square rock, which towered up like a giant amid its neighbours, the rabbit sud denly gave Buch a violent squeak as nearly made the King drop him.
Immediately the kangaroo stopped, the rabbit sprang to the ground, and the cow knelt down in a manner which showed the King that he was expected to dismount, which he did. Then the three animals ranged themselves in a row before the rock, and each playing on the same instrument^ as before, they began to siug the following
" Cock, cock, King of the Hock,
Show thyself soon, and the gates unlock."
This they repeated in slow, measured tones six times over, and were just about begin ning the same verse for the seventh time, when, witbont the slightest warning, a ban tam cock appeared upon the top of the rock before which they stood, and interrupted their harmony with a loud and melodious " Cock-a-doodle-doo 1" He seemed to have sprung out of the rock itself, for he certainly had not flown into his present position, with which he appeared to be perfectly content, and sat flapping his wings, shaking himself, and ever and anon repeating his cry in the most natural manner possible.
After he had done this several times, it appeared to strike him that he bad something else to do than to sit and crow there like a common farmyard fowL So, ceasing to utter the Bound which is so well known to mortals, or at least to those who are accustomed to
wake early in the morning in any place near which such birds dwell, he spoke in the lan guage of the country, and with some haughti ness of tone thus addressed the three animals who had called him thither
" Sneak, ye beasts of common stock,
What is your will with the King of the Bock?"
At these words the kangaroo gave a grant, the rabbit a squeak, and the oow a smothered moo, bnt whether as a protest against the terms in which the cook spoke of them, or as an acknowledgment of his goodness in doing so at all, the King could not telL Then they all gave a note on their different instruments, as u to make anre that they were in tone, and began to sing again
" The cow, the rabbit, and the old kangaroo
Through the wide, wide world have been, An old love is better than anything new,
And the King still pines for his Queen.
Brave cock, tell the tale which thou know*st to be
To the cow and the rabbit and the old kangaroo." While the animals were singing, the cook drew himself up to his full height, and turned his head proudly lo and fro, as if to invite the admiration of any one who might be looking on. As soon as they had conoluded he shook himself once more, and then returned this reply
" If the truth you would know,
It is far below
In the land of the finny chief That the Queen doth weep To the briny deep
Aa she site on a coral reef. And how she got there, That lady so fair,
Is very well known to yon, Yon rabbit who squeak, And yon cow antique.
And you frolicsome kangaroo. A wizard so sly
Who had long had his eye
On the lovely and peerless dame, As she sat by the oak
Played a practical joke
which was serious, all the same. With a laugh and a scoff Be carried ner off
To a cavern beneath the sea. Where the mermaids and elves Have it all to themselves.
With their songs and their gambols free. 'Tis here that she sits Half out of her wits
With fright and with grief combined,
And the mermaids' tails And their plaintive wails
She never appears to mind. In moonlit night
And the gay sunlight
They merrily splash and sing, But she only Bigbs,
And in sad voice cries,
' Ob, take me back to the King!' Bnt ibis, forsooth.
Is pour task, and in truth
If the thing you neglect to do, Yon're a rabbit disgraced, A cow double-faced,
And a culpable kangaroo 1"
Then the cock ceased speaking, and it may well be supposed that the King heard his words with the deepest emotion. From them he learned much, though not all that he
wished to know. He now knew where his Queen was, and the agents to whom he must trust if he was ever to recover her. That Bhe desired to come back to him, wherever she might be, he had never doubted, but the knowledge that she vainly uttered this wish and bad no means of accomplishing it in spired him with a still more earnest determi nation to spare neither time nor trouble in her rescue. He was about, therefore, to address the three animals at once, in order to implore them to lose no time in giving their assistance, when, before he could do so, they all three struck up again and sang as they had already done, to the music of their instruments, and this was what they said " The cow and the rabbit and the old kangaroo
Are ready to do their task,
But the way to begin and the first thing to do
Of the friendly cock they ask.
There's a mystic word and a magic sign Which are bidden within the rock,
But as sure as sis and three make nine
They are known to the bantam cock,
And we ask him to tell them, loyal and true,
To the cow and the rabbit and the old kangaroo," The cock did not hesitate a moment after
hearing the request of the three animals. He did not speak, indeed, but uttering his "cock a-doodle-doo" in a vigorous tone, stamped three time upon the rock, which immediately opened and disclosed a large passage, which, to the surprise of the King, appeared to be <iuite as light as if it had been a sun all to itself, or some such substitute for a sun as gas or electric light. Then the cock spoke again, but this time in a grave and solemn
" Within the rock, beneath the ground,
The magic sign and word are found
With which those creatures armed must be Who seek the caves beneath the Bea.
That sign to make, that word to apeak,
learn, and the Queen for whom ye seek, Recover'd, King, shall soon be thine By virtue of the word and sign."
As the cock finished speaking the cow again turned round and knelt as a signal for the King to mount, which he accordingly did, firBt taking up the rabbit in his arms as before. The kangaroo led the way into the rock, which immediately closed behind them, and the King and his three companions dis appeared within the passage just as some of the courtiers came in sight, who, having Bome What recovered from their surprise, had pushed through the forest in order to see what would happen to their beloved monarch. They were very much astonished at what they saw, and raised loud cries of surprise and horror when they perceived the rock opening its mouth and swallowing up their King. They rode frantically to the spot, and redoubled their shouts and cries when they arrived there. But it was not of the smallest
use. The cock had retired, I suppose, from whence he came, the rock presented the usual appearance of rockB, and all the knocking and yelling of the bewildered courtiers produced - no effect at all.
When they found that this was the case, they left off yelling and knocking, and rode hack to join the rest of their party, to whom they imparted the extraordinary news,
(To be continued.)