THE princes returned to Gluckstein on the carpet, and went to the best inn, where they dined together and slept. Next morning they, and the ambassador, who had been told all the story, and Lady Rosalind, floated comfortably on the carpet back to Falkenstein, where the king wept like anything on the shoulders of Alphonso and Enrico. They could not make out why he cried so, nor why Lady Molinda and Lady Kathleena cried; but soon they were all laughing and happy again. But then—would you believe he could be so mean?—he refused to keep his royal promise, and restore Prigio to his crown-princeship! Kings are like that.
But Prigio, very quietly asking for the head of the Firedrake, said he’d pour the magic water on that, and bring the Firedrake back to life again, unless his majesty behaved rightly. This threat properly frightened King Grognio, and he apologised. Then the king shook hands with Prigio in public, and thanked him, and said he was proud of him. As to Lady Rosalind, the old gentleman quite fell in love with her, and he sent at once to the Chaplain Royal to get into his surplice, and marry all the young people off at once, without waiting for wedding-cakes, and milliners, and all the rest of it.
Now, just as they were forming a procession to march into church, who should appear but the queen! Her majesty had been travelling by post all the time, and, luckily, had heard of none of the doings since Prigio, Benson, and the king left Gluckstein. I say luckily because if she had heard of them, she would not have believed a word of them. But when she saw Alphonso and Enrico, she was much pleased, and said:
“Naughty boys! Where have you been hiding? The king had some absurd story about your having been killed by a fabulous monster. Bah! don’t tell me. I always said you would come back after a little trip—didn’t I, Prigio?”
“Certainly, madam,” said Prigio; “and I said so, too. Didn’t I say so?” And all the courtiers cried: “Yes, you did;” but some added, to themselves, “He always says, ‘Didn’t I say so?’”
Then the queen was introduced to Lady Rosalind, and she said it was “rather a short engagement, but she supposed young people understood their own affairs best.” And they do! So the three pairs were married, with the utmost rejoicings; and her majesty never, her whole life long, could be got to believe that anything unusual had occurred.
The honeymoon of Prince Prigio and the Crown Princess Rosalind was passed at the castle, where the prince had been deserted by the Court. But now it was delightfully fitted up; and Master Frank marched about the house with his tail in the air, as if the place belonged to him.
Now, on the second day of their honeymoon, the prince and princess were sitting in the garden together, and the prince said, “Are you quite happy, my dear?” and Rosalind said, “Yes; quite.”
But the prince did not like the tone of her voice, and he said:
“No, there’s something; do tell me what it is.”
“Well,” said Rosalind, putting her head on his shoulder, and speaking very low, “I want everybody to love you as much as I do. No, not quite so very much,—but I want them to like you. Now they can’t, because they are afraid of you; for you are so awfully clever. Now, couldn’t you take the wishing cap, and wish to be no cleverer than other people? Then everybody would like you!”
The prince thought a minute, then he said:
“Your will is law, my dear; anything to please you. Just wait a minute!”
Then he ran upstairs, for the last time, to the fairy garret, and he put on the wishing cap.
“No,” thought he to himself, “I won’t wish that. Every man has one secret from his wife, and this shall be mine.”
Then he said aloud: “I WISH TO SEEM NO CLEVERER THAN OTHER PEOPLE.”
Then he ran downstairs again, and the princess noticed a great difference in him (though, of course, there was really none at all), and so did everyone. For the prince remained as clever as ever he had been; but, as nobody observed it, he became the most popular prince, and finally the best-beloved king who had ever sat on the throne of Pantouflia.
But occasionally Rosalind would say, “I do believe, my dear, that you are really as clever as ever!”
And he was!
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