Chapter 160755492

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160755492
Full Date1887-01-15
Page Number44
Corrections0
Word Count1931
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Captive Queen
article text

CHILDREN'S COLUMN,

THE CAPTIVE QUEEN.

I By Lord Braboubne (E. h. Knatcubui.l.

HUGESSEN).]

Author of "Pusa-Cafc Mow" and other Fairy

Stories, Ac.

[From Harper's Young People. 1

CHAPTER VI.

They had fill passed safely over the bridge, the wizard slowly leading the way, and were approaching the side of the rocky mountain, when their attention was attracted by a sound which came from the sea hard by. It was a very_ pleasant sound, like beautiful music, and it stole over their senses in a mar vellous manner, so that they could not help stopping to listen. Voices were singing to the muBic, and singing in such sweet tones and with such exquisite feeling that the King, who wag passionately attached to muBic, and had a private hurdy-gurdy of his own, thought he had never heard anything so perfeotly melodious. And these were the words which fell upon the listener's ears— " The rocks are coral beneath the sea,

And we sisters gather there,

And sing to the waters merrily,

As we comb our golden hair,

And we find the times both merry and good For the loving mermaid sisterhood.

" We swim where we will throngh the waters clear,

Or we harness our slaves, the fish,

For nothing beneath the waveB down here

Can withstand a mermaid's wish,

And no sea creature would, ii it could, For they lore the mermaid sisterhood.

" We sit by the lone sea-shore sometimes

And Bing our sweetest strain, 1 And the mortal who hears our tunelul rhymes

Will pine to hear them again:

But if he would da so best, he should

Come and live with the mermaid sisterhood. " Oh, list to the tones of our plaintive air,

Ye mortals who hear our strain

Come hasten our songs and our joys to share,

In our home beneath the main;

For who that has sesn them has ever withstood The charms of the mermaid sisterhood 7"

The whole party had stopped, almost with out knowing that they did so, to listen to the enchanting music bv which these wordB were accompanied. Enchanting, indeed, it was, and tne extraordinary part of the business appears to me to be tne fact that the cow, the rabbit, and the kangaroo did not know that it was enchanting in the worst sense of the word. They were evidently wise animals, who knew more about magic than common beings of their kind, and whatever might have been the case with the King, one would have supposed that they would have been upon their guard, and would have known the danger which lay within the notes of that sweet music. If, however, they knew, they bad certainly forgotten it at the moment, and, as 1 say, they all Btopped still to listen, when, no doubt, their wise and proper course would have been to go straight on without paying the least attention.

In the present instance the travellers had not long to wait before they discovered the mistake into which they had fallen. They bad stood still for about a minute, when they suddenly perceived that a total change had come over their enemy, the wizard. A malicious joy gleamed from his eye, the previous expression of disappointment and fear had passed from his countenance, and turning round so as once more to face the party, he addressed them in a voice the sound of which had changed again from abasement to defiance.

" No! no!" he shouted, with a terrible voice, and then commencing a dance similar to that in whioh he had before indulged, he sang again, and his words and tones were less agreeable to his hearers than those of the

mermaids.

" Ye travellers three, what fools ye be—

What ought to be done, ye knew.

Bat I've got yon now, yon Btupld old cow,

With the rabbit and kangaroo.

You chose to remain, and list to a strain,

Which ye knew ye onght not to do :

So yon're all in a scrape, and you can't escape,

Cow, rabbit, and kangaroo."

As he spoke he advanoed towards the tra vellers with his arms outspread, making hideous faces, and evidently intending mis chief. Without a moment's loss of time the three travellers made the sign and said the word which had been so useful before, but theBe had apparently lost their power. The wizard, indeed, uttered a frightful yell, but it was rather one of triumph than of alarm, and he shouted back in return—

" Your silly old spell

Once did very well,

Bat now yon require one new.

The cow shall be killed.

And the rabbit be grilled.

And we'll strangle the kangaroo,"

With theBe words, to the unspeakable hor ror of the King, who stood watching to see what would happen, but felt himself per fectly helplesB in the matter, the wizard advanced npon the kangaroo as if about to execute his threat. The kangaroo, evidently feeling that he was no longer a match for his foe, trembled so mnch that he dropped his drnm, and the rabbit did the same with his fife, and in the very act gave a wild squeak of anguish as if he also knew that his fate was upon him, - The cow made no sign, and the wizard, pausing for a moment, raised both his arms above his head and began to pronounce a magic word which I suppose would have rendered his adversaries" entirely helpless, and enabled him to complete their rum at his wicked wilL

He began the word, I say, and the King distinctly heard the first part of it, which was " Petraupaulokime-noparapholiconaste ron"—but here be was interrupted, and the rest of the sound shut out from the listener's ears by such a moo from the cow as had never been heard before. It was not a bellow, but a moo, and not a common moo either, but one which, beginning low, gradually rose and swelled into a volume of sound which com

pletely deafened the bystanders, altogether

drowned the wizard's voice, and reverberated along the sides of the mountain, and even through the waters of the sea with such a mighty roar that the mermaids ruBhed about, splashing hither and thither, nnder the evi dent impression that an earthquake or some thing like it must have happened, and the fishes contradicted the common delusion that the finny tribe cannot hear by darting away in every direction as fast as possible, as the awful sound penetrated even below the

waves.

The King himBelf stood aghast; bnt if he had been surprised at the action cf the cow, he was still more astonished at what followed. Rushing aorosB the bridge from behind the party came another figure npon the scene— silently, but so quickly that almost like a flash of lightning it stood by the side of the kangaroo. It was the figure of an old man, whose long beard, bright eyes, and venerable appearance at once revealed him to be the same who had visited the King in his dreams, had given the word and eign to the three animals, and who had evidently not yet ex hausted his power.

It is impossible for anybody who is a mere mortal to be quite sure about things which have to do with magic and magioal people, but I oannot help thinking it very likely that if the one-eyed wizard had used a shorter word, so as to have finished it before the arrival of the other, he might and would have prevailed over his foes then and there. If so, it is evidently a lesson to us all not to use words or make speeches which are longer than may be absolutely necessary, but perhaps the wizard could not help it, and there may have been no shorter word wliioh would have served his purpose.

However this may be, it is as certain as

Sossible that he never finished his word, for

e Btopped short just as if he had been shot

as soon as the other old man arrived upon the scene. Once again his countenance ohanged, and though in fhe cue of such a particularly ugly visage yon might have well believed that any change must be for the better, yon would have been obliged to allow that the pallor which came over it. and the look of disap pointment and baffled rage which appeared thereon, rendered it even uglier than before. His adversary gave bim no time for reflection, bat rushed straight upon him, and a furious struggle began.

The one-eyed wizard, it will be remem bered, bad dropped his club at the first sight and hearing of the word and the sign, and waB therefore unarmed, and the new-comer did not appear to be any better provided with weapons. They used their hands and feet, however, to some purpose, and having closed at once, raised such a cloud of dnst as made it almost impossible to see what they were doing.

The King, lost in amazement, bnt with hope once more springing up in hiB breast, watched the combat with deep though silent interest. The three friends, recovering from the state of alarm into which they, or at least two of them, had recently fallen, were not so silent. The cow sounded her bells again, the rabbit played wildly on his fife, and the kan garoo once more seizing his drum, beat loudly as if to encourage the new ally who had come to the rescue of himself and his com panions.

For a few moments none of them could tell what would be the result of the battle, but I do not suppose it was ever doubtful for a moment. The friendly wizard was evidently the stronger of the two, and when the dust, after a short time, cleared away, he was seen sitting upon the prostrate body of his foe, of

whose nose he had taken forcible hold with his right hand, and was wringing it as if he meant to deprive itB rightful owner of it altogether. His left hand grasped the other's right arm, whose left was bent underneath him, so that he lay helplessly at the mercy of his enemy, and appeared to have resigned himself to the fate from which he saw no means of escape.

"Wretch!" exclaimed the victorious wizard. In an exulting tone, " at last I have caught you, and you shall receive the reward of all your crimee." And as he spoke he gave another furious tweak to his victim's nose, which produced fcom the latter a sound some thing between a yell and a groan.

With some apparent difficulty he presently fonnd his voice.

" Oh dear 1 oh dear 1" he cried, in half stifled tones. "I didn't mean it. I didn't do it. I'll never do it again. O-o-oh 1" and he broke off into another cry of anguish at another tweak,

"No, I'll take good care you don't," savagely replied his conqueror. " You a wizard ! Why, you're a diegraoe to the very name. With the power which wob given yon

to do good, yon have done nothing bnt mis chief ever since you had it, and now, not content with your last crime, yon queen stealing vagabond, yon have humbugged the kind mermaids, who were always friendly to mortals, into guarding your prisoners, and have done yonr best to destroy tbe three honest animals who came to rescue her. No punishment can be too severe for such a rascal."

(To be continued.) I