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Chapter NumberVII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160755895
Full Date1887-01-22
Page Number43
Corrections0
Word Count2212
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Captive Queen
article text

CHILDREN'S COLUMN,

THE CAPTIVE QUEEN.

(By Load Biubourne (E. H. Knatcubdll

Hugessen).]

Author of "Puss-Cat Mew" and other Fair;

StoileB, Ac.

[From Harpers Young People,]

{Continud.)

CHAPTER VII.

When the wizard had uttered the words* which closed the last chapter he let go the noBe of the unfortnnate person to whom they

were addressed, and with great quickness

drew from his breast a small black book with very large silver clasps, at the eight of which' the one-eyed wizard gave another fearful

moan, bat appeared to be not only unable to - speak, but also to move, for when the other now rose from the ground and stood upright,

he remained perfectly motionless. He who - held the black book now nnclasped and opened it, and proceeded to read from its pages words which, as nearly aB the King could hear, were as follows—

" Bolberry-Parno-ractnm stiff,

Gamperypobenos minjogrif, Stonapelamblugh panginvo, Allipapanymerearonlo."

He spoke very Blowly, but as he did so a wonderful change came over the wretch who lay prostrate at bis feet. His face grew paler and still more pale, until it was quite white andcolonrless; nis lege and arms grew rapidly stiff and rigid, his head sank gradually in between his shoulders, bis body loBt the out line of a human form, and as the last words left the lips of the speaker every semblanoe of a man had left the miserable creature, and before the eyes of the travellers there lay nothing but a shapeless block of inanimate stone, which no one would have guessed to - have been ever possessed of life ana breath.

"There!" exclaimed the inffiotor of this terrible doom; " I don't think you'll steal any more Queen's, my friend, but we'll make it quite sure, and then leave yen to your

self,"

So saying he walked three times round the stone, stood upon it for a moment, and then,

after mumbling some words to himself in a - low tone, turned round to the soot upon which the King and the three travellers were standing.

" Well," he said, "you three servants have made a pretty muddle of it altogether. How came you to be such fools as to stop aud listen to those fish-women? You ought to have known better, and may thank your stars that - 1 happened to be on the look-out—another - moment and I shonld have been too late 1"

The cow gave a low and grateful moo on hearing these words, the rabbit uttered a plaintive squeak, and the kangaroo granted gruffly; but none of them said anything. Then the old man addressed the wondering King.

" Sire," said he, " I am trnly glad to be able to render yon a service. Just one hun dred and eleven years ago yonr Majesty's great-grandfather gave me nalf-a-orown when I appeared at the palace gates in the disguise of a beggar. It was a bad one, to be sure,

but I do not for a moment think he knew it - to be so, having doubtless received it in change from one of his ministers. From that moment I vowed that I would do a good turn to his family if ever the opportumty offered, and this has now been the case. That rascal" (and here the old man pointed to the block of

stone near him) " has been a thorn in my side - for tbe last fifty years or so, knowing just - enough of magic to make it serve his own vile ends, and not sufficient to understand the great and good purposes to which it may and'

ought to be devoted. Now at last I have been able to pay him out for all his misdeeds, {or as soon as he vestured upon the crime of •carrying off a Queen, who had done nothing to deserve it, and who would much rather >have been left alone, he put himself within my power, and has had to feel it. You may now follow me, and I will lead you to her for whom your bouI has been so muoh distressed."

So saying, the speaker turned round and 'marched up to the opening in the mountain aide, followed at onee by the eager King,

behind whom came the faithful three who 'had been so useful to him in his search.

At the mouth of the opening the friendly wizard paused and beckoned to the King, who came up to bis side, and gazed upoa a scene such ae he had never even imagined in all hie life.' At a little distanoe from where he stood the rocky mountain slanted dawn, as if it were at right angles through the sea as far as hiB sight could reach, and in its sides were continuous caves, larger and smaller, the months of which glittered with precious Stones and curious shells of varied hues, while in front of them the mermaids were sporting and playing in a hundred different attitudes, all more graceful than can be fanoied by any one who has not seen them.

The nearest cave had a month large enongh to allow the King to look into it, which he immediately did, and was astonished as well as delighted at what he saw. Upon a rock of

the purest crystal, very near to the entrance. | was seated his own Amabilia, more beautiful than ever. Her magnificent hair wsb stream ing down her back, her hands were clasped -over her knees, and her eyes, bedewed with noent tears, were fixed upon the water before her, as if expeoting that from this quarter

•deliverance would come. Around her were several little elves, engaged in doing nothing in every possible way, while in front of her the mermaids kept passing and repassing, over and anon kissing their hands to her as if in admiration of her surpassing beauty.

. 80 far as the King could see the floor of the cave was entirely paved with rubies, eme ralds, and diamonds, while gorgeouB Bcarfs,

magnificent shawls, and other costly articles I of apparel were soatcered about here and

there in wondrons profusion. 1

Bnt it was not upon such articles as these that the King fixed hie eyee, His Queen, his own, hie beloved and long lost Amabilia, was before him, and his eager and enraptured gaze waB for her alone. At the same instant her nptnrned eyes caught eight of the figures which stood in the opening, and althongn the singing of the mermaids and the dash of the -waters against the rocks drowned her voiee, it was evident that she spoke as she unclasped her handB and Btretched out her armB in an imploring attitude.

Without one moment's thought or fear the King would have leaped down into the waves in the direction of the cave in whiab, amid the treasures of the watery deep, he saw her who to his loving eyes was the greatest trea sure of all. . But the ancient wizard laid a restraining hand upon his arm.

"Statutory maxon," he said, which, as all students of magic lore will be aware, is as much as to say. "Stop a minute."

The action, if not tne expression, was clear enough to the King, and not without difficulty he refrain Bd from taking the leap. Then the wizard pnt his hand into the pocket of the eloak which he wore, and drawing out of it a flute, put it to his mouth and began to play, if that could be called " playing" which pro duced such a discordant sound that it com pelled the Sing to stop both his ears, while the three animals uttered in their several voices melancholy groans which showed that they were exposed to more than common misery.

The effect, however, upon the mermaids was sti'l more extraordinary. They one and all stopped singing at the first note of the wizard's fiute, and tied right and left with suoh speed that in the space of a minute or so there was not one of them left ia front of the Queen's cave. The old man grimly smiled as he saw the result of his performance, and then, making some curious passes with his hand, produced another result quite as extra ordinary as the last.

A piece of the mountain-Bide by which they were standing quietly detached itself from the rest, formed itself into a covered way, and lightly fell across from the opening to the entrance of the cave, forming a perfectly dry channel by which the King and his com panions could pass into the latter. As the wizard now no longer prevented him, the

did not lose a moment in taking advan King did 1

tage of the means thus placed at his disposal. He rushed at once into the passage, and in ? another moment was clasped in his Amabilia's

arms.

What tbe fond couple bad to say to each other maybe better imagined than described, and I should not write another word if tbey had been the only persons with whom our story had to do. Neither should I think it necessary to say any more about the wizard, because, in the firBt place, everybody can imagine his history as well as I can tcli it, and in the second place, it is never very safe to talk about such people, who, for anything we know, may be listening to ub all the time.

The mermaids, of course, were sorry to lose the Queen, but it was only by the power of the one-eyed wizard that they had been de ceived into keeping watoh over her, and as they are a people who are really very well disposed toward mortals, it will easily be understood that tbey rejoiced to Bee the King and Queen so happy in being once more re united. It ia therefore only neceBsary to speak of the three animals which had played bo important a part in our Btory.

I have searched the records of that country with great care to find oat all about them, especially as I know there was a report that -the cow never left the mountain-side after the wizard's performance on the flute, and that the proverb about " the tnne that the old cow died of' had its origin in her melan choly fate. I have ascertained, however, beyond all donbt, that this is untrue, ana that she, together with her two faithful com

panions, returned safely with the King and ] Queen to their own country, and that the Great Council proposed to give a grand ban quet to their honour, to which all tbe courtiers and fashionable people were invited.

But upon the very day of this entertain ment the Court was alarmed by a tremendous thunderstorm, and after the thunder had rolled with tremendous sound for more than an hour, tbe lightning's vivid flashes had Hghted up the horizon from end to end, and a terrible wind had uprooted many of the largest trees in tbe forest, there suddenly followed an intense calm, and presently, amid the breathless stillness of the air, mueic

was heard which attracted the attention of { the whole Court, who hurried out to the main track in tbe forest, from whence it seemed to .proceed. When they had arrived there the music seemed juBt the same, neither loader nor less distinct than they had heard it at first, and it very soon became apparent from whence it came.

In slow and solemn procession the three animate of whom we have heard so much were marching, not down, but up, the hill;

and &b they went, the clear-sounding bells I .around the cow's neck, the shrill fife of the

rabbit, and the rattle of the kangaroo's drum |

rang through the air bo as to be clearly heard by all. And as they advanced, the three friends sang to the old tane words which somewhat resembled those which they had sung before— :

" Ibe cow, the rabbit, and the old kangaroo

G o marching np the bill,

TbsvssM tbattbeQueentotbeKinghad been true,

And they're ready to eay so still;

Farewell! we have done what we had to do— The cow and the rabbit and the old kangaroo."

The whole Court stood gazing with astonish ment at the procession, and listening to the mneic and words until the animals reached

the crest ot the hill, the last point at which they could be visible from below. There they stood for one moment; then the mimic sounded once more, after which the cow lifted up her voice and gave one long-sound ing melodious moo. This was evidently by way of a final farewell, for as soon as the last echo had died away the mortals upon the hillside looked up, and saw nothing. The three animals had vanished ae entirely as if they had never been there, and from that time to this I never heard that they were seen again by any of the people of that coun try. This, then, is the true history of how the King, released hiB Queen from captivity by the aid of a oow, a rabbit, and an old kangaroo.

THE END,