|Chapter Title||NOW, SAID THE KING, STEPPING CLOSE TO THE PRISONER; 'AS MAN TO MAN!'|
|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||The King of No-Land|
CHAPTER XI. NOW,' SAID THE KING, STEPPING CLOSE TO THE PRISONER; 'AS MAN TO UA- N!' At about this period signs of po litical disturbance were becoming somewhat alarmingly prominent in No land. There were in the kingdom certain persons who were conscien tiously dis-atisfied with the form of government under which they lived, and under which they undoubtedly en joyed many advantages of which the people of other nations were not in possession. These Reformers, as they styled themselves, sprang chiefly from the ranks of the people, and were proud of the association of a few fine minds from the higher classes of society. Notwithstanding their opinions, they were good citizens ; they were hard workers, they led peaceable lives, and reasoned out matters for themselves, according to their lights, in a calm and sensible manner. But, unfortunately for their cause, it was surrounded by excrescences ivhich gave it an unwholesome ap pearance. The Quamoclits and Whortleberries of No-land fastened themselves to it, and the consequence was that a thimbleful of common sense was hidden in a gallon of bubble and froth. The one great institution, of course, which was the object of general attack was the institution of Royalty. 'Do away with kings and queens,' said the agitators; 'de-troy the false theory that because a man is born into Royalty it is imperative he should be maintained in costly and idle luxuriance by a down-trodden people, and the misery and distress which now over whelm the nation will disapear, as rmoke does before the wind.' Every thing seemed to favor the agitators. The value of money had decreased in No-land, and all the necessaries of life were steadily rising in price, so that it took thirty shillings to buy to day what twenty shillings would have purchased a dozen years ago. The working men, as a natural consequence, asked for higher wages, which in every instance was refused to them. 'Ah,,' groaned the Quamoclits and Whortlc ,,eriea, "c ushed, oippessed, ground d6wn again! Po r, suffering masses, when will you odt in your rights?'
We'll work no longer,' cried the working men, 'until we are fairly paid for our work I' The masters still resisted, and the men left the workshop=. Convinced that their demands were fair and reasonable, the hearts of these men turned bitter towards those of the higher orders who employed them, and they were, in a measure, driven into demagogism. In this way the Quamo elits and Whortelberries gained many recruits. Other strikes in other parts of the country occurred. The agri cultural laborers rose, and demanded their rights as men. A disclosure of the circumstances of their lives from their cradles to their graves showed a miserable state of things; they were ignorant, muddle-headed, underpaid, and they lived through all their lives in the worst form of slavery which man can suffer-in a state of helpless pauperism. When the history of No land comes to be written by a com petent and impartial person (if Histury ever is written in any but a partisan spirit) the condition of the kingdom of No-land, so far as concerns these matters, will be more fully dilated upon; in the mean time the few pre ceding lines must be accepted as a faithful, if not a satisfactory, index to the state of affairs. Sassafras, seeking for guidance among his counsellors and for an honest solution of these troubles, was temporised with and lightly put off. He was bidden not to vex himself with these small concerns. Yet they were not entirely indifferent to the signs of the times. 'Measures must be adopted,' they said to one another, 'to counter act the influence of these small agita tors. The sentiment of loyalty must be stirred into active life in the breasts of the people. The King must go about more than he does.' Sassafias submitted to them; he went about more ; his soul was wearied with pageants ; and one day, as he sat in his carriage, he was shot at. The bullet missed him ; but his heart was sorely wounded. 'How my people must hate me!' he thought, with bitterness. The loyal papers bristled with indignation, and with expre-sions of love ani devotion ftr his person; they denounced the would-be assassin as a monster, whose name would be infamous through all time; and as usual they went to violent extremes. Sassafras readl all these papers, and even insisted upon privately seeing the monster who had attempted his life. 'Your Majesty. implored Lord Crab tree; 'such a thing was never heard of in history !' 'Is there such a thing as the history of the human heart ?" demanded Sassa fras bitterly. 'I decline any lonrer to be guided by precedents of which neither my heart nor my conscience can approve. I will see this man.' 'He is a monster of the deepest dye,' entreated Lord Crahtree, in melo dramatic language; 'nay, perhaps, a madman-' 'The more is he to be pitied,' said Sassafras firmly. 'Your remonstrances are useless, my lord. I will see him.' But King as he was, he would have been unable to carry out his design had he not promised that he would not disclose to the man that he was the King. This pro-nise he gave-and broke. At the door of the cell he halted, and would not allow a single person to enter with him. When he closed the door, he saw before him, seated by a table which was fastened to the ground, a man in rags, with a wild and haggard face. 'Do you know me?' asked Sassafras. 'No,' was the reply. 'I am the King.' The man looked at Sassafras steadily, with a frown on his face, 'I am sorry for you,' he said. 'And not for yourself?' 'No; I have nothing to reproach myself with.' 'Not for attempting the life of one whose face yvu do not know when you look upon it ?' 'I did not shoot at the man;I shot at the King. If I had succeeded, there would have been a king the less in the world.' 'You hate kings?' 'I hate them.' 'They say you are mad.' 'So I have heard; they might be riht-by and by ; they are not quite right at present.' He pressed his hand upon his forehead, as though to crush back oppressed thought. 'I am trying to keep my reason; I may lose it soon.' There was not the slightest wander ing in his speech, and his features were firm-set; but it was evident that it was only by the strongest effort of will that he retained his composure. He was a man of forty years of age. 'It is a great honor,' he said, with a scornful smile, 'for me to receive a visit from a king. May I ask for what purpose you come?' 'To appeal to you,' answered Sassa fras earnestly ; 'to ask you what wrong I have done you that you should at tempt my life. I do not know you; I have never seen you face before to day; your name is strange to me. Tell me in what way I have wronged you,' There was a pause of a few moments' duration. 'You come to appeal to me!' then said the prisoner. 'You I' 'Yes; as man to man !' A laugh that was like a groan escaped from the prisoner's lips. 'Look you !' he said, fiercely battling down his agitation; 'if you destroy my consciousness of right, I shall go mad before your eyes. Come closer to me; I do not know what I am about to say, bat there are listeners outside that door, and I do not choose that they shall hear me. O, do not fear! I cannot harm you. See; they have chained me to the leg of the table, and I cannot move six inches from the seat. It was done an hour before you came, for your protection, as I now can understand. At other times my limbs are free. My hands also are handcuffed; you can approach me with safety.' (To be coiinsned), "* Why do you keep alt the carameli your self. Johnny?' asked a West Philadelphia mother of her sin; why not give Lucy h-f njf th.m b"* " . bh.eaui-." said JohKny, - Didn't you a ty :he other day that if paps hadn't been a mnoskoist he couldn't'a suc ceeded so well?"