|Chapter Title||LIKE WHITE FINGERS BECKONING THE DEAD.|
|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||The King of No-Land|
CHAPTER V. LIKE "WHITE FINGERS BECKON-ING THE DEAD. Where he travelled, and what he eaw, there is no room here to describe. When the first pangs of grief were assuaged, he enjoyed with keen pleasure the new scenes through which he passed. New countries, new customs, new communities, passed before him, as it were, and he kept his eyes open. But it was rarely that a prince travelled as he travelled, with such modesty and unostentation. His chief pleasure was to wander from one place to another in an unpretending way, unknown and unobserved, but not unobserving. He was not out wardly demonstrative, and his time servers said among themselves that they were afraid his travels were not doing him any good. They told stories of the travels of other princes and royal personages whose course was marked by the most magnificent display. This town was one blalze of light when a certain prince entered it by night; the houses of that town were festooned with flowers, which hung from every roof and garlanded the thoroughfares. Here a wonderful entertainment was given in honour of Prince So and-so, whom the inhabitants had never seen before and would never see again, and for whom they did not care a jot; there all the inhabitants had journeyed out of the town to meet Prince So-and-so, and meeting him when he was within four miles of the gates, ran before his carriage all the way, filling the air with huzzas, and behaving as frantically as they could have behaved if the greatest and most precious blessings which heaven could bestow had fallen upon them. How different it was with Prince Sass:,fras ! His most earnest desire was to be allowed to ramble quietly through the strange countries in which lie was travelling, and to av;'id public display. Often in his wanderings and musings did he see two tiny mites of children playing the violin in the streets of No-land, one with a grave and thoughtful face, the other with a face flushed with delight; often did he conjure up a picture of woods round about his palace in No land, and see himself and Coltsfoot walking slowly through them, as they had done on that memorable Christmas day, when the beautiful snow rimmed every leaf and branch with pure and glistening lines; often and often did he see a sweet little face raised to his, set in a framework of bright stars, which were scarcely brighter than the tears that shone in the large blue eyes. He fed upon these memories as he grew to manhood; and months and years passed. The seasons marched royally onwards; the primroses rose from their beds; the violets opened their eyes and peeped through the hedges, making the air fragrant; the buds laughed into blossoms; the hills were crowned with flowers; the golden corn grew gray as the waves of the wind passed over it; the vines were heavy; the leaves grew old and died; the soft snow fell and filled the churchyards with white phantoms; the icicles made the valleys radiant with wondrous beauty. Until one day a courier, with his hair wildly blowing about his face, rode into the midst of the nobles of the suit and cried, 'The King of No-land is dead !' When they recovered their breath, they hastened to the Prince, and found him lying idly by the side of a laughing brook, to which he was whispering soft and tender words. They approach ed him humbly and reverently. 'Your Gracious Majesty,' they said, and knelt on one knee before him. He started to his feet and gazed at them with wild eyes. He comprehend ed the meaning of their attitude, and he trembled with fear and awe. 'My father-' and he faltered. They hung their heads, and one or two contrived to squeeze a tear Heaven only knows how they managed it-which they allowed to hang upon their eyelashes, so that their new King might see and remember. But he saw nothing real; he stood alone in the midst of tumultous clouds. He was not even aware that he had waved his attendants away, and that they had obeyed him. His father was dead! He could not recall one tender word or look which had ever been bestowed upon him by the dead King, whose state and duties now devolved on himself. Not one. Love between them had been a dead letter. He had often watched the children of peasants playing with their fathers; be had often seen common men carrying their children on their shoulders; he had beard words from mother's lips which thrilled him with tumultuous pain; he had listened to childish prattle which had:bi?onght a strange yearning to his heart; he.had .peeped into cottage windows and seen happy family groups there, and had heard them singing and laughing together. Such a joy he had
never tasted. The image of his father as be saw it was the image of a man so gross and fat that hbe almost groaned as he made a step towards his carriage; a man magnificiently dressed, with dozens of glittering orders upon his breast. Orders bestowed upon him of his deeds in war, of his achievements in art, of his efforts in the cause of humanity? No; bestowed upon him because be was a king, and which would well have graced him had he been worthy of his high position. A man with purple face and hanging cheeks, who drank of the best, who ate of the best, and whose life was one of splendid misery-truly, a man to be sincerely pitied, and more to be pitied because of the splendid opportunities which were his, and which had been so miserably wasted. But this picture faded from the mind of Sassafras, and raising in its stead an ideal image of his father, he sank to the ground, and shed tears for his Joss. Early the next day be and his retinue turned their, faces towards No-land, and when they reached it they found the nation in deep mourning for the bereavement it had sustained. Sassafras felt a strange thrill as he set foot once more upon his native land. He had left it a boy; he returned to i a man. Whether his heart was changed, you will see for yourself as yout proceed. But that it was stirred to tender emotion as he trod the steps of the palace in which his boyhood had been passed may at once be :stated. It was evening when he arrived, and saying that be wished to be alone for the night, he left his courtiers abruptly, and strolled out by himself, wrapped in a cloak whichconeealed him from head to foot. Into the woods filled with sweet memories he strolled, and paused before the old elm-tree which he had climbed for the first time many a year ago. How well he remembered all the incidents of that day : his meeting with Ragged Robin, the changing of their clothes, and delicious minutes he had spent while sitting in the branches there they were above him now, but he could hardly fancy what had been so clear to him then, the folding arms waiting to receive him, and the fan tastic S, the initial of his name! He saw, however, the tutors and tim- servers standing beneath the tree, while he, dressed in Robin's ragged clothes, sat in the branches above them; he heard the loud cry of the older courtier as the marble dropped upon his bald plate; he heard the Riot Act read, with its mighty WHEREAS and then in memory he scrambled down the tree, and told again the story of Pimpernel. Although it was winter, and a soft snow was falling, he did not feel cold. He made his way slowly to the stream, so bright and beautiful in the summer with its flowery and mossy banks, so white and solemn now; then he nalked in tender thoughtful mood towards the village where Coltsfoot lived. He did not intend to make himself known; he wished, for the present, only to look on the cottage where Bluebell and Ragged Robin lived, and, if possible, to catch a glimpse of the faces of those dear friends. (to le continued). Nicholas is charged, on warrant, with disobeying a summons of the Brunswick Bench, for insulting behaviour, on the 30th June last. Description :-Native of Dublin, 24 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, dark complexion, hair, and moustache; generally dresses in dark tweed suit and black felt hat.