Meantime the Private Secretary departed, but now in a few moments returned with a very fine new Waffle-iron, all of gold, which he had had made as the Widow instructed, with small hills and hollows all over its surface.
“This,” said the Widow Pickle, “is the most beautiful Waffle-iron I ever used. If I do not make good Waffles now, it surely will be my own fault.”
So now the Private Secretary also got her some palm flour, and two quarts of cocoanut milk; and after making a little fire in front of the palace door, the Widow Pickle busied herself and soon produced a nice brown Waffle, with hills and hollows all over it, from her new gold Waffle-iron. “Now, if I only had some syrup,” said she, “I am sure I could recommend this Waffle for any purposes connected with eating.”
The King had been watching her very closely in her work. “What do you mean by syrup?” asked he curiously.
“This,” said the Widow, “is certainly a strange country—not that I wish to criticize in the least, your Majesty. But I was just thinking that a world without syrup is very singular indeed.”
“Well, you will understand,” said the King of Gee-Whiz, “we who live on this Island are not very different from Fairies. At least, we are dependent upon the Fairies for all we eat and wear and use. They are our work people, and we have to take what they give us and be thankful. Now, I suppose the Fairies have never considered that syrup was necessary for us.”
Zuzu and Lulu listened with the greatest interest, and when the king spoke of Fairies they could not restrain themselves.
“Oh, your Majesty,” said Lulu, “have you ever really seen a Fairy?”
“Have I?” said the King. “Thousands of them. We get all our gold from them—when their pretty Queen, Zulena, is good enough to grant our wishes. Fairies! Why, they are as common as leaves upon the trees. Are there none in your country, my Princess?”
“None,” said Lulu, “only I have always so much wished to see just one Fairy.”
“If that is all you wish,” said the King of Gee-Whiz, “there will not be the least trouble about it. We got this Enchanted Banjo from the Fairies, and I am sure it will be obliging enough to tell you about so common a place as Fairy-land. Won’t you, Banjo?”
The Banjo nodded its head, and presently began to play.
I know where is Fairy-land, Little one with wond'ring eyes. Often, often, do you stand Gazing where the hills arise, Dreaming of the land that lies Somewhere, where the fairies are Past the ending of the skies— Fairy-land afar. I have seen it, and I know How we journey to that land; Nodding poppies flash and glow Down the path on either hand; Jewel spray on silver sand Brings the snow-white Fairy-boats; Each, by elves and brownies manned, As a lily floats. Ho, sometimes you hear the bells That the dancing Fairies wear! Oft at night their music swells Far and faintly on the air, And sometimes the breezes bear Calls blown on a Fairy-horn; You have heard them, here and there, In the summer morn. Here's the secret: You must look For the path with drowsy eyes: Twixt the covers of a book Half the wondrous secret lies. Then if you are good and wise, In a twinkling there you are— Past the ending of the skies, Fairy-land afar.
“The Banjo knows more about the Fairies than any one,” said the Private Secretary. “It can tell you how they employ themselves all these long summer days.” And thereupon the Banjo began:
WHAT THE FAIRIES DO
Oh, do not think the Fairies can be idle all the while, That they have nothing much to do but sit and sing and smile; Each has a task he must perform—he must be smart and good And do his work as carefully as real-sure people should. Some Fairies have to hurry forth and waken all the leaves And bid them come and dress the trees in dainty styles and weaves; Some Fairies have to go with paint and some with rich perfume, And tint and scent the flowers when they open into bloom. The Jack-o'-lantern Fairies have to dance above the bogs To make a light for all the concerts given by the frogs; And others whisper to the bees and tell them where to look For honey in a clover bloom that hides beside the brook. And some come when the night is here and you have gone to sleep They find your home and then upon your pillow they will creep, And tell you dreams that you must dream; and then, you understand, Next morning you may truly say you've been to Fairy-land.
“But now, in regard to this syrup, I wonder very much how it tastes,” interrupted the King, returning to the matter that had been upon his mind, “tell me, how does it taste?”
“Very sweet, your Majesty,” said Zuzu, “and it is very nice with Waffles. I have eaten it often.”
“But whence do you obtain this syrup?” asked the King.
“From a tree? Oh, I suppose you get it just as I do my palm wine when I wish, or my cocoanut milk. You cut a hole in the tree, and catch the juice in a cup?”
“It is something like that, your Majesty,” replied Zuzu.
“Then, my dear,” said the King, “take this little gold ax and run and catch me a cupful of syrup for my new Waffle.”
Zuzu did as he was bid and soon came back with a cupful of very fair syrup. This the Widow at once spread upon the hot Waffle and offered it to the King.
“This syrup,” said the King, touching his finger to the contents of the cup, “is most delicious. It is something we have had all along, but did not know it.”
“Your Majesty,” said the Widow Pickle anxiously, “I beg you will eat your Waffle while it is hot.”
“Oh, very well,” said the King wearily, “but surely you must know that I usually am very much more bored about eating things than any one can possibly be who has never been a King.”
So saying, he took his royal golden knife and fork and cut off a morsel from the Waffle, which he placed in his royal mouth. As he did so, to their great surprise, he sat up straight, and a pleasant smile appeared upon his face. His cheek stuck out where the mouthful of Waffle lay; but the King did not act as though he intended to swallow it, although his smile showed that he was pleased.
“Is it good, your Majesty?” asked the Widow Pickle again anxiously.
The King nodded but did not speak. He motioned for a piece of paper, on which he wrote the word “Excellent.”
“Then, why do you not eat it?” asked the Widow.
“I fear very much there may not be anything more so good,” wrote the King.
At this, the Widow Pickle herself smiled happily.
“Oh, yes, there is, your Majesty,” she cried. “I warn you that every bite of this Waffle is as good as the first one. Moreover, I assure you I can bake others quite as good, as many as you like.”
Hearing this, the King at once ate the portion of Waffle, and, to the great joy of all, regained his voice; for of course no King ever speaks with his mouth even partly full.
“That,” said the King, with a long breath, “was the most remarkable delicacy I ever ate in all my life. My dear madam, I am very much pleased that I have heard of it, very much pleased, I assure you. Indeed, I welcome you to our Island.”
Whereupon the King, still smiling with comfort and joy, fell to, and presently the first Waffle was quite gone. Another followed, and yet another. “More!” cried the King, as though he were a little boy. So the Widow Pickle, very warm and very happy, baked Waffles until she quite forgot to count them any more.
“You may have a throne made for the lady also, Jiji,” said the King carelessly to his Private Secretary, after a while, “for I have concluded neither to banish her nor behead her. She shall be made the Royal Waffle Baker, with a permanent salary.”
The Widow Pickle was delighted, for although she had baked many a Waffle before, she had never done so with a gold Waffle-iron, and had never been so well rewarded for what to her seemed a very ordinary accomplishment.
Later, for the entertainment of Lulu and Zuzu, the Enchanted Banjo sang this little song, which, it said, contained a very helpful moral lesson:
IF YOU WERE A WAFFLE
You think that things go wrong If you should stub your toes; If, when you run along, You fall and bump your nose; You sometimes wail and cry Because you may not wear The things that please your eye; You do not like your hair! But— Wouldn't it be awful If you were a waffle? Puckered, brown, and round and flat— Would you only think of that! If you were a waffle Wouldn't it be awful? Sometimes you sigh—you do, Because you are yourself! What would you think if you Were on a pantry shelf? If you were set away Because you had grown cold— Left from but yesterday And now, alas! too old! Oh— Wouldn't it be awful If you were a waffle? Hot and brown, and made to wait On somebody's breakfast plate— If you were a waffle, Wouldn't it be awful?