Книга Rinkitink in Oz. Содержание - Chapter Eleven Zella Goes to Coregos
"Hands off! He is my prisoner, remember not yours."
"Well, Cor, what are you going to do with him?" inquired King Gos.
"I shall make him my slave, that he may amuse my idle hours. For he is a pretty boy, and gentle, although he did frighten all of you big warriors so terribly."
The King scowled at this speech, not liking to be ridiculed, but he said nothing more. He and his men returned that same day to Regos, after restoring the bridge of boats. And they held a wild carnival of rejoicing, both in the King's palace and in the city, although the poor people of Regos who were not warriors were all sorry that the kind young Prince had been captured by his enemies and could rule them no longer.
When her unwelcome guests had all gone back to Regos and the Queen was alone in her palace, she ordered Inga and Rinkitink brought before her and their bonds removed. They came sadly enough, knowing they were in serious straits and at the mercy of a cruel mistress. Inga had taken counsel of the White Pearl, which had advised him to bear up bravely under his misfortune, promising a change for the better very soon. With this promise to comfort him, Inga faced the Queen with a dignified bearing that indicated both pride and courage.
"Well, youngster," said she, in a cheerful tone because she was pleased with her success, "you played a clever trick on my poor husband and frightened him badly, but for that prank I am inclined to forgive you. Hereafter I intend you to be my page, which means that you must fetch and carry for me at my will. And let me advise you to obey my every whim without question or delay, for when I am angry I become ugly, and when I am ugly someone is sure to feel the lash. Do you understand me?"
Inga bowed, but made no answer. Then she turned to Rinkitink and said:
"As for you, I cannot decide how to make you useful to me, as you are altogether too fat and awkward to work in the fields. It may be, however, that I can use you as a pincushion."
"What!" cried Rinkitink in horror, "would you stick pins into the King of Gilgad?"
"Why not?" returned Queen Cor. "You are as fat as a pincushion, as you must yourself admit, and whenever I needed a pin I could call you to me." Then she laughed at his frightened look and asked: "By the way, are you ticklish?"
This was the question Rinkitink had been dreading. He gave a moan of despair and shook his head.
"I should love to tickle the bottom of your feet with a feather," continued the cruel woman. "Please take off your shoes."
"Oh, your Majesty!" pleaded poor Rinkitink, "I beg you to allow me to amuse you in some other way. I can dance, or I can sing you a song."
"Well," she answered, shaking with laughter, "you may sing a song – if it be a merry one. But you do not seem in a merry mood."
"I feel merry – indeed, Your Majesty, I do!" protested Rinkitink, anxious to escape the tickling. But even as he professed to "feel merry" his round, red face wore an expression of horror and anxiety that was realty comical.
"Sing, then!" commanded Queen Cor, who was greatly amused.
Rinkitink gave a sigh of relief and after clearing his throat and trying to repress his sobs he began to sing this song-gently, at first, but finally roaring it out at the top of his voice:
There was a Baby Tiger lived in a men-ag-er-ie —
Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy – they wouldn't set him free;
And ev'rybody thought that he was gentle as could be —
Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy – Ba-by Ti-ger!
They patted him upon his head and shook him by the paw —
Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy – he had a bone to gnaw;
But soon he grew the biggest Tiger that you ever saw —
Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy – what a Ti-ger!
One day they came to pet the brute and he began to fight —
Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy-how he did scratch and bite!
He broke the cage and in a rage he darted out of sight —
Fizzy-fezzy-fuzzy was a Ti-ger!"
"And is there a moral to the song?" asked Queen Cor, when King Rinkitink had finished his song with great spirit.
"If there is," replied Rinkitink, "it is a warning not to fool with tigers."
The little Prince could not help smiling at this shrewd answer, but Queen Cor frowned and gave the King a sharp look.
"Oh," said she; "I think I know the difference between a tiger and a lapdog. But I'll bear the warning in mind, just the same."
For, after all her success in capturing them, she was a little afraid of these people who had once displayed such extraordinary powers.
Zella Goes to Coregos
The forest in which Nikobob lived with his wife and daughter stood between the mountains and the City of Regos, and a well-beaten path wound among the trees, leading from the city to the mines. This path was used by the King's messengers, and captured prisoners were also sent by this way from Regos to work in the underground caverns.
Nikobob had built his cabin more than a mile away from this path, that he might not be molested by the wild and lawless soldiers of King Gos, but the family of the charcoal-burner was surrounded by many creatures scarcely less dangerous to encounter, and often in the night they could hear savage animals growling and prowling about the cabin. Because Nikobob minded his own business and never hunted the wild creatures to injure them, the beasts had come to regard him as one of the natural dwellers in the forest and did not molest him or his family. Still Zella and her mother seldom wandered far from home, except on such errands as carrying honey to Coregos, and at these times Nikobob cautioned them to be very careful.
So when Zella set out on her journey to Queen Cor, with the two pails of honey in her hands, she was undertaking a dangerous adventure and there was no certainty that she would return safely to her loving parents. But they were poor, and Queen Cor's money, which they expected to receive for the honey, would enable them to purchase many things that were needed; so it was deemed best that Zella should go. She was a brave little girl and poor people are often obliged to take chances that rich ones are spared.
A passing woodchopper had brought news to Nikobob's cabin that Queen Cor had made a prisoner of the conquering Prince of Pingaree and that Gos and his warriors were again back in their city of Regos; but these struggles and conquests were matters which, however interesting, did not concern the poor charcoal– burner or his family. They were more anxious over the report that the warriors had become more reckless than ever before, and delighted in annoying all the common people; so Zella was told to keep away from the beaten path as much as possible, that she might not encounter any of the King's soldiers.
"When it is necessary to choose between the warriors and the wild beasts," said Nikobob, "the beasts will be found the more merciful."
The little girl had put on her best attire for the journey and her mother threw a blue silk shawl over her head and shoulders. Upon her feet were the pretty red shoes her father had brought her from Regos. Thus prepared, she kissed her parents good-bye and started out with a light heart, carrying the pails of honey in either hand.
It was necessary for Zella to cross the path that led from the mines to the city, but once on the other side she was not likely to meet with anyone, for she had resolved to cut through the forest and so reach the bridge of boats without entering the City of Regos, where she might be interrupted. For an hour or two she found the walking easy enough, but then the forest, which in this part was unknown to her, became badly tangled. The trees were thicker and creeping vines intertwined between them. She had to turn this way and that to get through at all, and finally she came to a place where a network of vines and branches effectually barred her farther progress.