Chapter 59577449

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Chapter NumberIX
Chapter TitleTHE QUAMOCLITS AND THE WHORTLEBERRIES.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59577449
Full Date1880-09-18
Page Number0
Corrections0
Word Count1238
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)
Trove TitleThe King of No-Land
article text

CHAPTER IX. THE QUAMOCLITS AND THE WHORTLEBERRIES. From the date of this conversation Sassafras spent more time than ever in his priyate lodge, and it was quite a common 'thing for the lords-in-waiting to be informed three and four.times a week that his Majesty had gone to his lodge, and had given orders that he was not. to be disturbed. The. lodge began to be talked about, and queer things were said concerning it. With reference to the King's conduct and his growing desire for seclusion, the lords-. in-waiting, with Lord Crabtree at their head, "decided in consultation that although matters were not as they should be, their `wisest course at pre sent was. to; humour his eccentric Majesty. When the Court Newsman asked Lord Crabtree what 'he should say in his daily report concerning the movements of the King, he was told to. write : 'His Majesty walked in the royal grdunds. . But this. liine was repeated, so many times when Sassafras was not seen in the royal groiidds, that' it set- tongues a-wagging even among the attendants, and it began to be a saying,; when: any one was on: a sly expedition, that he was walking in the royal grounds. A bit of gossip, with the flavor of scandal in it, is as delight ful to a d&6iiss: as to a washerwoman. Some of them even went so far as to wink at each other, and to touch th.ir noses wriththeir forefingers. But these Palace tongues wagged disreetly, and a sort of freemasonr

was established in the winking of eyes and the touching of noses, to which only the select were admitted. Outside 'the Palace, tongues, eyes, and noses were not so' discreet. Numbers of people were busy putting two and two together, as the saying is. The saying was not sufficiently explicit in this instance, for instead of putting two'and two, the gossipers and tittle-tattlers were busy putting one and one together. And one was Sassafras and one was a lady. The presence of Sassafras was always necessary for the correct doing of the sum ;the lady was sometimes changed. The misfortune was that all sorts of things got mixed up together, in consequence. One thing leads to another, it is true, but there is often not the slightest relationship between one anildanother. It had been intended that the pro posed matrimonial alliance between King Sassafras and the Princess Calla should be kept a profound secret ; but somehow or other the news leaked out, and it was spread about that his Majesty declined to entertain the proposal. The .newspapers of good repute said as little about itas possible, for political reasons, but the matter was not allowed to die out because they were silent. There resided in No-land a very prolific tribe, whose family name was Quamoclit. Great numbers of the members of this family were tobe found in every town, city, and hamlet of the kingdom. The smallest villages were not free from them. "Their prying eyes were in every street, and so powerful were those eyes that they could pierce stone walls, and see what was going on inside ; their tongues wagged at every corner; they stopped at every convenient post, and touched noses, with a knowing air. These Quamoclits made grand use of their noses, for they poked them everywhere, especially in those places where they were least wanted. They scented the news of the King's refusal to contract an alliance with the Princess Calla as bees scent honey, and the owners of these clever features went round and about whispering to each other, and making friends of each other's buttons, which they contemplated with pensive affection as they tittle-tattled. So the King would not marry I they said to one another. Strange! was it not ? (Here they winked.) There must be a reason for it. O, yes; there must be a reason for it. Do you know ? Hm! Do you! (Here they touched their noses.) Well, we have heard some thing. Indeed! But it must not be repeated-no, not for the world. It was strange, and the more one thought of it the stranger it was. His Majesty was often absent from the Palace! (Here they looked mysteriously at one another.) Indeed ? 0, yes ; for hours together. Perhaps he was in the Palace all the while ! Perhaps. Hm! hm I hm ! Even Lord Crabtree was kept in the dark. Curious ! was it not? Then there is that lodge which he will allow no one but himself to enter. What tales those walls could tell if they could speak ! Very mys terious; very. A lady in the case. (Here they winked, and touched their noses, and looked knowingly at one another, all at one time.) Hush-sh-sh! How can you? Well, we did hear yesterday that hm I hm! hm! You won't tell anybody, will you ? I had it from-hm ! hm I In strict confidence, you know. Thus they talked and whispered, and, as our ingenious brethren in the West would doubtless say, innuendoed. For our Western brethren-who also have their Quamoclits-are great at the turning of nouns into verbs. But these Quamoclits did still greater mischief. Some of them had news papers of their own, or were employed upon newspapers, and the King's refusal of the hand of the Princess Calla was a pet theme in their leading articles and special correspondence. They stretched it wantonly as they would a !piece of india-rubber, until they made rents and holes in it. In a very short time it was twistedoutofall resemblance to itself. There was another tribe in No-land to whom this.dish was like the spice of Arabia. Whortleberry was the name of this tribe. These Wortleberries also possessed a newspaper or two, and in the columns of their papers the dish was served up in a hundred ways, with the very hottest seasoning. Some of these papers fell into the hands of King Sassafras. Some of the remarks which were made concerning him came to his knowledge. 'Good God I' he cried. 'Is it possible that I can be such a monster ?' Stung in the tenderest part of him his manhood-he threw aside all counsel, and in direct opposition to the advice of his Confidential Worryers, he read and studied. what was written about him. The more he read the more he was distressed. The more he heard the more he grieved. Had he, in his royal station, possessed a friend like Coltsfoot, he might have turned some.of the experience he was gaining good account; but he was surrounded by flatterers and fawners and court parasites, who w6uld have been well contentto see him spend his life as his father had done. He blushed when he was told that his person was sacred, that he, above all other men, was watched:bver biy a specdial Providence, and that he was hedged round by' divinity.. 'If this be true,'. he mused, 'I am something more than human.' He trembled from sensitive: shame, for he knei'that it wairis false. 'And yet,' he thought, pursuing his reflections, 'did not the bara?iamn who lately visited No-land arrogate to himself the awful title of King 6fKings ? It is monstrous-monstrpu andwi'?ed! Suarely'thiat title can bnly be held iy the Grtt and' Merciful King who r?ies overall I ''. - i S" (to'be eontinued). L