Back to the Index Page

 
 
 

Prince Hassak's March by Frank R. Stockton

 

In the spring of a certain year, long since passed away, Prince Hassak, of Itoby, determined to visit his uncle, the King of Yan.

“Whenever my uncle visited us,” said the Prince, “or when my late father went to see him, the journey was always made by sea; and, in order to do this, it was necessary to go in a very roundabout way between Itoby and Yan. Now, I shall do nothing of this kind. It is beneath the dignity of a prince to go out of his way on account of capes, peninsulas, and promontories. I shall march from my palace to that of my uncle in a straight line. I shall go across the country, and no obstacle shall cause me to deviate from my course. Mountains and hills shall be tunnelled, rivers shall be bridged, houses shall be levelled; a road shall be cut through forests; and, when I have finished my march, the course over which I have passed shall be a mathematically straight line. Thus will I show to the world that, when a prince desires to travel, it is not necessary for him to go out of his way on account of obstacles.”

As soon as possible after the Prince had determined upon this march, he made his preparations, and set out. He took with him a few courtiers, and a large body of miners, rock-splitters, bridge-builders, and workmen of that class, whose services would, very probably, be needed. Besides these, he had an officer whose duty it was to point out the direct course to be taken, and another who was to draw a map of the march, showing the towns, mountains, and the various places it passed through. There were no compasses in those days, but the course-marker had an instrument which he would set in a proper direction by means of the stars, and then he could march by it all day. Besides these persons, Prince Hassak selected from the schools of his city five boys and five girls, and took them with him. He wished to show them how, when a thing was to be done, the best way was to go straight ahead and do it, turning aside for nothing.

“When they grow up they will teach these things to their children,” said he; “and thus I shall instil good principles into my people.”

The first day Prince Hassak and his party marched over a level country, with no further trouble than that occasioned by the tearing down of fences and walls, and the destruction of a few cottages and barns. After encamping for the night, they set out the next morning, but had not marched many miles before they came to a rocky hill, on the top of which was a handsome house, inhabited by a Jolly-cum-pop.

“Your Highness,” said the course-marker, “in order to go in a direct line we must make a tunnel through this hill, immediately under the house. This may cause the building to fall in, but the rubbish can be easily removed.”

“Let the men go to work,” said the Prince. “I will dismount from my horse, and watch the proceedings.”

When the Jolly-cum-pop saw the party halt before his house, he hurried out to pay his respects to the Prince. When he was informed of what was to be done, the Jolly-cum-pop could not refrain from laughing aloud.

“I never heard,” he said, “of such a capital idea. It is so odd and original. It will be very funny, I am sure, to see a tunnel cut right under my house.”

The miners and rock-splitters now began to work at the base of the hill, and then the Jolly-cum-pop made a proposition to the Prince.

“It will take your men some time,” he said, “to cut this tunnel, and it is a pity your Highness should not be amused in the meanwhile. It is a fine day: suppose we go into the forest and hunt.”

This suited the Prince very well, for he did not care about sitting under a tree and watching his workmen, and the Jolly-cum-pop having sent for his horse and some bows and arrows, the whole party, with the exception of the laborers, rode toward the forest, a short distance away.

“What shall we find to hunt?” asked the Prince of the Jolly-cum-pop.

“I really do not know,” exclaimed the latter, “but we'll hunt whatever we happen to see—deer, small birds, rabbits, griffins, rhinoceroses, any thing that comes along. I feel as gay as a skipping grasshopper. My spirits rise like a soaring bird. What a joyful thing it is to have such a hunt on such a glorious day!”

The gay and happy spirits of the Jolly-cum-pop affected the whole party, and they rode merrily through the forest; but they found no game; and, after an hour or two, they emerged into the open country again. At a distance, on a slight elevation, stood a large and massive building.

“I am hungry and thirsty,” said the Prince, “and perhaps we can get some refreshments at yonder house. So far, this has not been a very fine hunt.”

“No,” cried the Jolly-cum-pop, “not yet. But what a joyful thing to see a hospitable mansion just at the moment when we begin to feel a little tired and hungry!”

The building they were approaching belonged to a Potentate, who lived at a great distance. In some of his travels he had seen this massive house, and thought it would make a good prison. He accordingly bought it, fitted it up as a jail, and appointed a jailer and three myrmidons to take charge of it. This had occurred years before, but no prisoners had ever been sent to this jail. A few days preceding the Jolly-cum-pop's hunt, the Potentate had journeyed this way and had stopped at his jail. After inquiring into its condition, he had said to the jailer:

“It is now fourteen years since I appointed you to this place, and in all that time there have been no prisoners, and you and your men have been drawing your wages without doing any thing. I shall return this way in a few days, and if I still find you idle I shall discharge you all and close the jail.”

This filled the jailer with great dismay, for he did not wish to lose his good situation. When he saw the Prince and his party approaching, the thought struck him that perhaps he might make prisoners of them, and so not be found idle when the Potentate returned. He came out to meet the hunters, and when they asked if they could here find refreshment, he gave them a most cordial welcome. His men took their horses, and, inviting them to enter, he showed each member of the party into a small bedroom, of which there seemed to be a great many.

“Here are water and towels,” he said to each one, “and when you have washed your face and hands, your refreshments will be ready.” Then, going out, he locked the door on the outside.

The party numbered seventeen: the Prince, three courtiers, five boys, five girls, the course-marker, the map-maker, and the Jolly-cum-pop. The heart of the jailer was joyful; seventeen inmates was something to be proud of. He ordered his myrmidons to give the prisoners a meal of bread and water through the holes in their cell-doors, and then he sat down to make out his report to the Potentate.

“They must all be guilty of crimes,” he said to himself, “which are punished by long imprisonment. I don't want any of them executed.”

So he numbered his prisoners from one to seventeen, according to the cell each happened to be in, and he wrote a crime opposite each number. The first was highway robbery, the next forgery, and after that followed treason, smuggling, barn-burning, bribery, poaching, usury, piracy, witchcraft, assault and battery, using false weights and measures, burglary, counterfeiting, robbing hen-roosts, conspiracy, and poisoning his grandmother by proxy.

This report was scarcely finished when the Potentate returned. He was very much surprised to find that seventeen prisoners had come in since his previous visit, and he read the report with interest.

“Here is one who ought to be executed,” he said, referring to Number Seventeen. “And how did he poison his grandmother by proxy? Did he get another woman to be poisoned in her stead? Or did he employ some one to act in his place as the poisoner?”

“I have not yet been fully informed, my lord,” said the jailer, fearful that he should lose a prisoner; “but this is his first offence, and his grandmother, who did not die, has testified to his general good character.”

“Very well,” said the Potentate; “but if he ever does it again, let him be executed; and, by the way, I should like to see the prisoners.”

Thereupon the jailer conducted the Potentate along the corridors, and let him look through the holes in the doors at the prisoners within.

“What is this little girl in for?” he asked.

The jailer looked at the number over the door, and then at his report.

“Piracy,” he answered.

“A strange offence for such a child,” said the Potentate.

“They often begin that sort of thing very early in life,” said the jailer.

“And this fine gentleman,” said the Potentate, looking in at the Prince, “what did he do?”

The jailer glanced at the number, and the report.

“Robbed hen-roosts,” he said.

“He must have done a good deal of it to afford to dress so well,” said the Potentate, passing on, and looking into other cells. “It seems to me that many of your prisoners are very young.”

“It is best to take them young, my lord,” said the jailer. “They are very hard to catch when they grow up.”

The Potentate then looked in at the Jolly-cum-pop, and asked what was his offence.

“Conspiracy,” was the answer.

“And where are the other conspirators?”

“There was only one,” said the jailer.

Number Seventeen was the oldest of the courtiers.

“He appears to be an elderly man to have a grandmother,” said the Potentate. “She must be very aged, and that makes it all the worse for him. I think he should be executed.”

“Oh, no, my lord,” cried the jailor. “I am assured that his crime was quite unintentional.”

“Then he should be set free,” said the Potentate.

“I mean to say,” said the jailer, “that it was just enough intentional to cause him to be imprisoned here for a long time, but not enough to deserve execution.”

“Very well,” said the Potentate, turning to leave; “take good care of your prisoners, and send me a report every month.”

“That will I do, my lord,” said the jailer, bowing very low.

The Prince and his party had been very much surprised and incensed when they found that they could not get out of their rooms, and they had kicked and banged and shouted until they were tired, but the jailer had informed them that they were to be confined there for years; and when the Potentate arrived they had resigned themselves to despair. The Jolly-cum-pop, however, was affected in a different way. It seemed to him the most amusing joke in the world that a person should deliberately walk into a prison-cell and be locked up for several years; and he lay down on his little bed and laughed himself to sleep.

That night one of the boys sat at his iron-barred window, wide awake. He was a Truant, and had never yet been in any place from which he could not run away. He felt that his school-fellows depended upon him to run away and bring them assistance, and he knew that his reputation as a Truant was at stake. His responsibility was so heavy that he could not sleep, and he sat at the window, trying to think of a way to get out. After some hours the moon arose, and by its light he saw upon the grass, not far from his window, a number of little creatures, which at first he took for birds or small squirrels; but on looking more attentively he perceived that they were pigwidgeons. They were standing around a flat stone, and seemed to be making calculations on it with a piece of chalk. At this sight, the heart of the Truant jumped for joy. “Pigwidgeons can do any thing,” he said to himself, “and these certainly can get us out.” He now tried in various ways to attract the attention of the pigwidgeons; but as he was afraid to call or whistle very loud, for fear of arousing the jailor, he did not succeed. Happily, he thought of a pea-shooter which he had in his pocket, and taking this out he blew a pea into the midst of the little group with such force that it knocked the chalk from the hand of the pigwidgeon who was using it. The little fellows looked up in astonishment, and perceived the Truant beckoning to them from his window. At first they stood angrily regarding him; but on his urging them in a loud whisper to come to his relief, they approached the prison and, clambering up a vine, soon reached his window-sill. The Truant now told his mournful tale, to which the pigwidgeons listened very attentively; and then, after a little consultation among themselves, one of them said: “We will get you out if you will tell us how to divide five-sevenths by six.”

The poor Truant was silent for an instant, and then he said: “That is not the kind of thing I am good at, but I expect some of the other fellows could tell you easily enough. Our windows must be all in a row, and you can climb up and ask some of them; and if any one tells you, will you get us all out?”

“Yes,” said the pigwidgeon who had spoken before. “We will do that, for we are very anxious to know how to divide five-sevenths by six. We have been working at it for four or five days, and there won't be any thing worth dividing if we wait much longer.”

The pigwidgeons now began to descend the vine; but one of them lingering a little, the Truant, who had a great deal of curiosity, asked him what it was they had to divide.

“There were eight of us,” the pigwidgeon answered, “who helped a farmer's wife, and she gave us a pound of butter. She did not count us properly, and divided the butter into seven parts. We did not notice this at first, and two of the party, who were obliged to go away to a distance, took their portions and departed, and now we can not divide among six the five-sevenths that remain.”

“That is a pretty hard thing,” said the Truant, “but I am sure some of the boys can tell you how to do it.”

The pigwidgeons visited the next four cells, which were occupied by four boys, but not one of them could tell how to divide five-sevenths by six. The Prince was questioned, but he did not know; and neither did the course-marker, nor the map-maker. It was not until they came to the cell of the oldest girl that they received an answer. She was good at mental arithmetic; and, after a minute's thought, she said, “It would be five forty-seconds.”

“Good!” cried the pigwidgeons. “We will divide the butter into forty-two parts, and each take five. And now let us go to work and cut these bars.”

Three of the six pigwidgeons were workers in iron, and they had their little files and saws in pouches by their sides. They went to work manfully, and the others helped them, and before morning one bar was cut in each of the seventeen windows. The cells were all on the ground floor, and it was quite easy for the prisoners to clamber out. That is, it was easy for all but the Jolly-cum-pop. He had laughed so much in his life that he had grown quite fat, and he found it impossible to squeeze himself through the opening made by the removal of one iron bar. The sixteen other prisoners had all departed; the pigwidgeons had hurried away to divide their butter into forty-two parts, and the Jolly-cum-pop still remained in his cell, convulsed with laughter at the idea of being caught in such a curious predicament.

“It is the most ridiculous thing in the world,” he said. “I suppose I must stay here and cry until I get thin.” And the idea so tickled him, that he laughed himself to sleep.

The Prince and his party kept together, and hurried from the prison as fast as they could. When the day broke they had gone several miles, and then they stopped to rest. “Where is that Jolly-cum-pop?” said the Prince. “I suppose he has gone home. He is a pretty fellow to lead us into this trouble and then desert us! How are we to find the way back to his house? Course-marker, can you tell us the direction in which we should go?”

“Not until to-night, your Highness,” answered the course-marker, “when I can set my instrument by the stars.”

The Prince's party was now in a doleful plight. Every one was very hungry; they were in an open plain, no house was visible, and they knew not which way to go. They wandered about for some time, looking for a brook or a spring where they might quench their thirst; and then a rabbit sprang out from some bushes. The whole party immediately started off in pursuit of the rabbit. They chased it here, there, backward and forward, through hollows and over hills, until it ran quite away and disappeared. Then they were more tired, thirsty, and hungry than before; and, to add to their miseries, when night came on the sky was cloudy, and the course-marker could not set his instrument by the stars. It would be difficult to find sixteen more miserable people than the Prince and his companions when they awoke the next morning from their troubled sleep on the hard ground. Nearly starved, they gazed at one another with feelings of despair.

“I feel,” said the Prince, in a weak voice, “that there is nothing I would not do to obtain food. I would willingly become a slave if my master would give me a good breakfast.”

“So would I,” ejaculated each of the others.

About an hour after this, as they were all sitting disconsolately upon the ground, they saw, slowly approaching, a large cart drawn by a pair of oxen. On the front of the cart, which seemed to be heavily loaded, sat a man, with a red beard, reading a book. The boys, when they saw the cart, set up a feeble shout, and the man, lifting his eyes from his book, drove directly toward the group on the ground. Dismounting, he approached Prince Hassak, who immediately told him his troubles and implored relief. “We will do any thing,” said the Prince, “to obtain food.”

Standing for a minute in a reflective mood, the man with the red beard addressed the Prince in a slow, meditative manner: “How would you like,” he said, “to form a nucleus?”

“Can we get any thing to eat by it?” eagerly asked the Prince.

“Yes,” replied the man, “you can.”

“We'll do it!” immediately cried the whole sixteen, without waiting for further information.

“Which will you do first,” said the man, “listen to my explanations, or eat?”

“Eat!” cried the entire sixteen in chorus.

The man now produced from his cart a quantity of bread, meat, wine, and other provisions, which he distributed generously, but judiciously, to the hungry Prince and his followers. Every one had enough, but no one too much. And soon, revived and strengthened, they felt like new beings.

“Now,” said the Prince, “we are ready to form a nucleus, as we promised. How is it done?”

“I will explain the matter to you in a few words,” said the man with the red beard. “For a long time I have been desirous to found a city. In order to do this one must begin by forming a nucleus. Every great city is started from a nucleus. A few persons settle down in some particular spot, and live there. Then they are a nucleus. Then other people come there, and gather around this nucleus, and then more people come and more, until in course of time there is a great city. I have loaded this cart with provisions, tools, and other things that are necessary for my purpose, and have set out to find some people who would be willing to form a nucleus. I am very glad to have found you and that you are willing to enter into my plan; and this seems a good spot for us to settle upon.”

“What is the first thing to be done?” said the Prince.

“We must all go to work,” said the man with the red beard, “to build dwellings, and also a school-house for these young people. Then we must till some ground in the suburbs, and lay the foundations, at least, of a few public buildings.”

“All this will take a good while, will it not?” said the Prince.

“Yes,” said the man, “it will take a good while; and the sooner we set about it, the better.”

Thereupon tools were distributed among the party, and Prince, courtiers, boys, girls, and all went to work to build houses and form the nucleus of a city.

When the jailer looked into his cells in the morning, and found that all but one of his prisoners had escaped, he was utterly astounded, and his face, when the Jolly-cum-pop saw him, made that individual roar with laughter. The jailer, however, was a man accustomed to deal with emergencies. “You need not laugh,” he said, “every thing shall go on as before, and I shall take no notice of the absence of your companions. You are now numbered One to Seventeen inclusive, and you stand charged with highway robbery, forgery, treason, smuggling, barn-burning, bribery, poaching, usury, piracy, witchcraft, assault and battery, using false weights and measures, burglary, counterfeiting, robbing hen-roosts, conspiracy, and poisoning your grandmother by proxy. I intended to-day to dress the convicts in prison garb, and you shall immediately be so clothed.”

“I shall require seventeen suits,” said the Jolly-cum-pop.

“Yes,” said the jailer, “they shall be furnished.”

“And seventeen rations a day,” said the Jolly-cum-pop.

“Certainly,” replied the jailer.

“This is luxury,” roared the Jolly-cum-pop. “I shall spend my whole time in eating and putting on clean clothes.”

Seventeen large prison suits were now brought to the Jolly-cum-pop. He put one on, and hung up the rest in his cell. These suits were half bright yellow and half bright green, with spots of bright red, as big as saucers.

The jailer now had doors cut from one cell to another. “If the Potentate comes here and wants to look at the prisoners,” he said to the Jolly-cum-pop, “you must appear in cell number One, so that he can look through the hole in the door, and see you; then, as he walks along the corridor, you must walk through the cells, and whenever he looks into a cell, you must be there.”

“He will think,” merrily replied the Jolly-cum-pop, “that all your prisoners are very fat, and that the little girls have grown up into big men.”

“I will endeavor to explain that,” said the jailer.

For several days the Jolly-cum-pop was highly amused at the idea of his being seventeen criminals, and he would sit first in one cell and then in another, trying to look like a ferocious pirate, a hard-hearted usurer, or a mean-spirited chicken thief, and laughing heartily at his failures. But, after a time, he began to tire of this, and to have a strong desire to see what sort of a tunnel the Prince's miners and rock-splitters were making under his house. “I had hoped,” he said to himself, “that I should pine away in confinement, and so be able to get through the window-bars; but with nothing to do, and seventeen rations a day, I see no chance of that. But I must get out of this jail, and, as there seems no other way, I will revolt.” Thereupon he shouted to the jailer through the hole in the door of his cell: “We have revolted! We have risen in a body, and have determined to resist your authority, and break jail!”

When the jailer heard this, he was greatly troubled. “Do not proceed to violence,” he said; “let us parley.”

“Very well,” replied the Jolly-cum-pop, “but you must open the cell door. We cannot parley through a hole.”

The jailer thereupon opened the cell door, and the Jolly-cum-pop, having wrapped sixteen suits of clothes around his left arm as a shield, and holding in his right hand the iron bar which had been cut from his window, stepped boldly into the corridor, and confronted the jailer and his myrmidons.

“It will be useless for you to resist,” he said. “You are but four, and we are seventeen. If you had been wise you would have made us all cheating shop-keepers, chicken thieves, or usurers. Then you might have been able to control us; but when you see before you a desperate highwayman, a daring smuggler, a blood-thirsty pirate, a wily poacher, a powerful ruffian, a reckless burglar, a bold conspirator, and a murderer by proxy, you well may tremble!”

The jailer and his myrmidons looked at each other in dismay.

“We sigh for no blood,” continued the Jolly-cum-pop, “and will readily agree to terms. We will give you your choice: Will you allow us to honorably surrender, and peacefully disperse to our homes, or shall we rush upon you in a body, and, after overpowering you by numbers, set fire to the jail, and escape through the crackling timbers of the burning pile?”

The jailer reflected for a minute. “It would be better, perhaps,” he said, “that you should surrender and disperse to your homes.”

The Jolly-cum-pop agreed to these terms, and the great gate being opened, he marched out in good order. “Now,” said he to himself, “the thing for me to do is to get home as fast as I can, or that jailer may change his mind.” But, being in a great hurry, he turned the wrong way, and walked rapidly into a country unknown to him. His walk was a very merry one. “By this time,” he said to himself, “the Prince and his followers have returned to my house, and are tired of watching the rock-splitters and miners. How amused they will be when they see me come back in this gay suit of green and yellow, with red spots, and with sixteen similar suits upon my arm! How my own dogs will bark at me! And how my own servants will not know me! It is the funniest thing I ever knew of!” And his gay laugh echoed far and wide. But when he had gone several miles without seeing any signs of his habitation, his gayety abated. “It would have been much better,” he said, as he sat down to rest under the shade of a tree, “if I had brought with me sixteen rations instead of these sixteen suits of clothes.”

The Jolly-cum-pop soon set out again, but he walked a long distance without seeing any person or any house. Toward the close of the afternoon he stopped, and, looking back, he saw coming toward him a large party of foot travellers. In a few moments, he perceived that the person in advance was the jailer. At this the Jolly-cum-pop could not restrain his merriment. “How comically it has all turned out!” he exclaimed. “Here I've taken all this trouble, and tired myself out, and have nearly starved myself, and the jailer comes now, with a crowd of people, and takes me back. I might as well have staid where I was. Ha! ha!”

The jailer now left his party and came running toward the Jolly-cum-pop. “I pray you, sir,” he said, bowing very low, “do not cast us off.”

“Who are you all?” asked the Jolly-cum-pop, looking with much surprise at the jailer's companions, who were now quite near.

“We are myself, my three myrmidons, and our wives and children. Our situations were such good ones that we married long ago, and our families lived in the upper stories of the prison. But when all the convicts had left we were afraid to remain, for, should the Potentate again visit the prison, he would be disappointed and enraged at finding no prisoners, and would, probably, punish us grievously. So we determined to follow you, and to ask you to let us go with you, wherever you are going. I wrote a report, which I fastened to the great gate, and in it I stated that sixteen of the convicts escaped by the aid of outside confederates, and that seventeen of them mutinied in a body and broke jail.”

“That report,” laughed the Jolly-cum-pop, “your Potentate will not readily understand.”

“If I were there,” said the jailer, “I could explain it to him; but, as it is, he must work it out for himself.”

“Have you any thing to eat with you?” asked the Jolly-cum-pop.

“Oh, yes,” said the jailer, “we brought provisions.”

“Well, then, I gladly take you under my protection. Let us have supper. I have had nothing to eat since morning, and the weight of sixteen extra suits of clothes does not help to refresh one.”

The Jolly-cum-pop and his companions slept that night under some trees, and started off early the next morning. “If I could only get myself turned in the proper direction,” said he, “I believe we should soon reach my house.”

The Prince, his courtiers, the boys and girls, the course-marker, and the map-maker worked industriously for several days at the foundation of their city. They dug the ground, they carried stones, they cut down trees. This work was very hard for all of them, for they were not used to it. After a few days' labor, the Prince said to the man with the red beard, who was reading his book: “I think we have now formed a nucleus. Any one can see that this is intended to be a city.”

“No,” said the man with the red beard, “nothing is truly a nucleus until something is gathered around it. Proceed with your work, while I continue my studies upon civil government.”

Toward the close of that day the red-bearded man raised his eyes from his book and beheld the Jolly-cum-pop and his party approaching. “Hurrah!” he cried, “we are already attracting settlers!” And he went forth to meet them.

When the prince and the courtiers saw the Jolly-cum-pop in his bright and variegated dress, they did not know him; but the boys and girls soon recognized his jovial face, and, tired as they were, they set up a hearty laugh, in which they were loudly joined by their merry friend. While the Jolly-cum-pop was listening to the adventures of the Prince and his companions, and telling what had happened to himself, the man with the red beard was talking to the jailer and his party, and urging them to gather around the nucleus which had been here formed, and help to build a city.

“Nothing will suit us better,” exclaimed the jailer, “and the sooner we build a town wall so as to keep off the Potentate, if he should come this way, the better shall we be satisfied.”

The next morning, the Prince said to the red-bearded man: “Others have gathered around us. We have formed a nucleus, and thus have done all that we promised to do. We shall now depart.”

The man objected strongly to this, but the Prince paid no attention to his words. “What troubles me most,” he said to the Jolly-cum-pop, “is the disgraceful condition of our clothes. They have been so torn and soiled during our unaccustomed work that they are not fit to be seen.”

“As for that,” said the Jolly-cum-pop, “I have sixteen suits with me, in which you can all dress, if you like. They are of unusual patterns, but they are new and clean.”

“It is better,” said the Prince, “for persons in my station to appear inordinately gay than to be seen in rags and dirt. We will accept your clothes.”

Thereupon, the Prince and each of the others put on a prison dress of bright green and yellow, with large red spots. There were some garments left over, for each boy wore only a pair of trousers with the waistband tied around his neck, and holes cut for his arms; while the large jackets, with the sleeves tucked, made very good dresses for the girls. The Prince and his party, accompanied by the Jolly-cum-pop, now left the red-bearded man and his new settlers to continue the building of the city, and set off on their journey. The course-marker had not been informed the night before that they were to go away that morning, and consequently did not set his instrument by the stars.

“As we do not know in which way we should go,” said the Prince, “one way will be as good as another, and if we can find a road let us take it; it will be easier walking.”

In an hour or two they found a road and they took it. After journeying the greater part of the day, they reached the top of a low hill, over which the road ran, and saw before them a glittering sea and the spires and houses of a city.

“It is the city of Yan,” said the course-marker.

“That is true,” said the Prince; “and as we are so near, we may as well go there.”

The astonishment of the people of Yan, when this party, dressed in bright green and yellow, with red spots, passed through their streets, was so great that the Jolly-cum-pop roared with laughter. This set the boys and girls and all the people laughing, and the sounds of merriment became so uproarious that when they reached the palace the King came out to see what was the matter. What he thought when he saw his nephew in his fantastic guise, accompanied by a party apparently composed of sixteen other lunatics, cannot now be known; but, after hearing the Prince's story, he took him into an inner apartment, and thus addressed him: “My dear Hassak: The next time you pay me a visit, I beg for your sake and my own, that you will come in the ordinary way. You have sufficiently shown to the world that, when a Prince desires to travel, it is often necessary for him to go out of his way on account of obstacles.”

“My dear uncle,” replied Hassak, “your words shall not be forgotten.”

After a pleasant visit of a few weeks, the Prince and his party (in new clothes) returned (by sea) to Itoby, whence the Jolly-cum-pop soon repaired to his home. There he found the miners and rock-splitters still at work at the tunnel, which had now penetrated half-way through the hill on which stood his house. “You may go home,” he said, “for the Prince has changed his plans. I will put a door to this tunnel, and it will make an excellent cellar in which to keep my wine and provisions.”

The day after the Prince's return his map-maker said to him: “Your Highness, according to your commands I made, each day, a map of your progress to the city of Yan. Here it is.”

The Prince glanced at it and then he cast his eyes upon the floor. “Leave me,” he said. “I would be alone.”

[Illustration: THE MAP OF THE PRINCE'S JOURNEY FROM ITOBY TO YAN.]

 
 
 

Back to the Index Page