WELL, the little prince grew up. I think I’ve told you that his name was Prigio—did I not?
Well, that was his name. You cannot think how clever he was. He argued with his nurse as soon as he could speak, which was very soon. He argued that he did not like to be washed, because the soap got into his eyes. However, when he was told all about the pores of the skin, and how they could not be healthy if he was not washed, he at once ceased to resist, for he was very reasonable. He argued with his father that he did not see why there should be kings who were rich, while beggars were poor; and why the king—who was a little greedy—should have poached eggs and plum-cake at afternoon tea, while many other persons went without dinner. The king was so surprised and hurt at these remarks that he boxed the prince’s ears, saying, “I’ll teach you to be too clever, my lad.” Then he remembered the awful curse of the oldest fairy, and was sorry for the rudeness of the queen. And when the prince, after having his ears boxed, said that “force was no argument,” the king went away in a rage.
Indeed, I cannot tell you how the prince was hated by all! He would go down into the kitchen, and show the cook how to make soup. He would visit the poor people’s cottage, and teach them how to make the beds, and how to make plum-pudding out of turnip-tops, and venison cutlets out of rusty bacon. He showed the fencing-master how to fence, and the professional cricketer how to bowl, and instructed the rat-catcher in breeding terriers. He set sums to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and assured the Astronomer Royal that the sun does not go round the earth—which, for my part, I believe it does. The young ladies of the Court disliked dancing with him, in spite of his good looks, because he was always asking, “Have you read this?” and “Have you read that? ”—and when they said they hadn’t, he sneered; and when they said they had, he found them out.
He found out all his tutors and masters in the same horrid way; correcting the accent of his French teacher, and trying to get his German tutor not to eat peas with his knife. He also endeavoured to teach the queen-dowager, his grandmother, an art with which she had long been perfectly familiar! In fact, he knew everything better than anybody else; and the worst of it was that he did: and he was never in the wrong, and he always said, “Didn’t I tell you so?” And, what was more, he had!
As time went on, Prince Prigio had two younger brothers, whom everybody liked. They were not a bit clever, but jolly. Prince Alphonso, the third son, was round, fat, good-humoured, and as brave as a lion. Prince Enrico, the second, was tall, thin, and a little sad, but never too clever. Both were in love with two of their own cousins (with the approval of their dear parents); and all the world said, “What nice, unaffected princes they are!” But Prigio nearly got the country into several wars by being too clever for the foreign ambassadors. Now, as Pantouflia was a rich, lazy country, which hated fighting, this was very unpleasant, and did not make people love Prince Prigio any better.