|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||The King of No-Land|
THE KING OF NO-LAND. BY B. L. FABJEON. CaarTER IX.-continued. But if he mentally prote-ted against being held up as a kind of sacred symbol-if he set aside (as he did. with scorn) the idea that his tight. weire more divine than those of other men, he wrs filled with just indignation by what he read concerning him-elf it the paper: owned by the Whortle herries. According to these organs, he was either the feeblest fool that ever breathed, with soul so warped by
the pursuit of sensual and sensuous pleasure as to be deaf and blind to the misery which surrounded him, or he was directly responsible and account able for all the evil and suffering which existed in the land. 'If either of these be true,' he mused with troubled soul, 'I am indeed less than human-more akin to brute than man.' He said to Coltsfoot, 'What is your opinion of kings, Coltsfoot ?' It was rarely that Coltsfoot was in a light humour, but he happened to be so upon this occasion. 'I myself,' he said with alight laugh, 'happened to put that very question once to a very amiable cynic. He answered that they were necessary evils.' Every nerve in Sassafras's body tingled, quivered with pain. Although Coltsfoot had but repeated the words of another man, and although he had spoken lightly, a slight dash of scorn in the speaker's tongue tinged them with a personal bitterness. 'Of our King, now,' continued Sassafras, controlling his agitation, 'Sassafras ? What do you think of him ?' 'I have never seen him.' 'But,' insisted Sassafras, 'you have your idea concerning him. What do you think of him ?' "At the best,' replied Coltsfoot, shrugging his shoulders, 'he is nothing more than a puppet. Set aside the pomp and glitter which surround him, and he becomes, in himself and by himself, utterly insignificant.' 'Is your opinion general?' he asked. 'No; some few would express them selves in similar terms ; a large number would be more violent in the same direction. On the other hand, there are many thousands who regard King Sassafras with an admiration which approaches idolatry. There are ladies in the fashionable world who would think it no extravagance to kiss the ground he walks upon, and who see in him qualities so transcendant as to seriously warp their moral sense. To their minds, a king sanctifies whatever he touches. Let me tell you a story that is current. Some years since a prince of another land was sent upon his travels; he was a person distin guished for good humour and amiability of disposition. He travelled the world, and opportunities were given to him of seeing what no other man had seen in a lifetime, and he was received everywhere with grand demon-tratious, and was cordially welcomed. In a certain flourishing city, a dependencv of the empire of which he was a repre sentative, the fashionable men and women-especially the latter-went almost mad in the ecstasy of their admiration. Towels that he wiped his hands upon were torn into fragments, and the pieces were taken home by the ladies as relics ; the ends of the cigar ettes he smoked were picked up as he threw them away, and religiously preserved. It would be the same, I doubt not, with our own King Sassafras. He is to them a visible god, whom they worship, not with indifference and languor, as most of them worship in the churches, but with an enthusiasm which is as lamentable as it is ex travagant.' Coltsfoot paused for a few moments ; his light mood had passed away and he was now serious and thoughtful 'It may be said by many unprejudised lookers-on that these are harmless follies ; I differ from them. The persons who practise them are seriously in earnest, and they belong to the classes which set the fashions for the people--the fashions in conduct and behaviour at home and in the streets-the fashions in dress (in itself an educator), and even in morals, a convertable word, unfortunately, now adays. The lowly are taught always to aspire, to look up, and they look up to these persons and aspire to their follies. I would promote mirth, pleasure, and rational enjoyment by every means in my power; but I would set my heel upon these sinful extrava gances, which are practised by persons whose education and position should teach them how to make better use of the advantages they enjoy. There are in life sweeter fashions than these to follow.' 'Is the King to blame for all these things ?' said Sassafras with downcast looks. 'Be is but a young man,' replied Coltsfoot; 'it would be most unjust to say that he is responsible for the had systems which have grown out of the last for pleasure and ease. Heismuch to be pitied.' 'Truly,' said Sassafras gravely. 'I think so too. See here what they say about him.' Coltsfoot read the slanders in the paper which Sassafras handed to him and said, 'This is one of the reasons why I think the King is to be pitied. I have often seen the persbn who -edits this paper.' 'Is he in earnest? Is he sincere" inquired Sassafras anxiously. 'I should be sorry to shake hands with him,' replied Coltsfoot. 'He does what pays him best Before he became a paper politician he gained the name among the poor and ignorant by writing lewd stories-stories which strike at the very foundation of mor ality, and which are a disgrace to the literature of No-land. But the people have worthier champions than he, and some of their cheap weekly papers which I could name, and which ci ci late largely among them, are doing honest and wholesome work, which is bearing good fruit to-day, and will bear better by and by. But enough of this. Let us go and see our little fiddlers.' Turn we from these tronblouus matters. A quieter, sweeter theme invites us. While the wild winds are raging in one place, light breezes float in another, where the storm-toss-ed soul can find repose. Cast your eyes over the world, and yon will see in the same moment the white snow falling and the bright rose unfolding its leaves-the brown leaves fluttering to the ground in the sad penivt: ligh of an evening in autumn, and the green branches, with the dew glistening upon them, laughing into bud in the light of a sweet fresh morning in spring. (To be continued).