The next morning, after the Widow Pickle and the Twins had finished their breakfast, they strolled for a short time through the palace grounds, upon the edge of which was the house which the King had given them as their new home. Presently, they came to the place beneath the trees where was situated the great throne of the King of Gee-Whiz. As the climate was warm, he always kept his throne out of doors, under the trees, where it was cooler than in the palace. Here they now found the King fast asleep under his umbrella; but just as they were about to speak to him, they saw the Private Secretary beckoning to them. They joined him and followed him to a little distance from the throne.
“We must be careful,” said the Private Secretary, “not to disturb his Majesty when he is asleep. He will probably not waken until eleven thirty-five, at which time it will be desirable for the Royal Baker of the Waffles to be ready to prepare his breakfast. I suggest that a little promenade through our Island might now be found pleasant.”
“Can’t mamma go with us?” asked Zuzu.
“That would be very nice,” said the Private Secretary, “except for the reasons I have given. It will perhaps be the best and safest thing for your mamma to remain near the palace, lest the King should suddenly awake and be hungry.”
So saying, the Private Secretary took Zuzu and Lulu each by the hand and they started out for a walk in the cool morning air.
Zuzu noticed that the Private Secretary carried under his arm some little sticks or wands, which shone as though they were made of gold and jewels.
“What are those little sticks that you are carrying, sir?” asked he.
“Those,” said the Private Secretary, “are the Royal Wishing Wands which have been given to you by the King. He himself obtained them, some time ago from the Fairy Queen. You will find them very useful; for if there is anything in the world that you want, you can have it by simply rubbing this Wand three times and wishing clearly and distinctly. But you must remember that you have only three wishes in any one week; so I suggest that you exercise care.”
As he spoke, the Private Secretary extended to each of the Twins one of the Royal Wishing Wands, and with great delight both began vigorously to rub the Wands and to say excitedly, “I wish! I wish!”
“Very well,” said the Private Secretary, smiling. “What is it that you wish?”
“Please bring my mamma some gold and some diamonds, a whole bushel,” said Lulu; and Zuzu said, “I wish the same, because I have often heard mamma express a wish for those very things.”
“Very well,” said the Private Secretary, “she shall have them just as soon as his Majesty can telephone to the Fairy Valley. His Majesty is very liberal in such matters as these.”
“Telephone?” cried Zuzu. “Do you have telephones here?
“Certainly we do. How could the King order such gold and diamonds as he may need, if he were not able to telephone for them to the Fairies? You see, we get these things only through the Fairies, who live far toward the interior of the Island, in a place which not even I myself have ever seen.”
“Well, I would like to know how any one can telephone to a Fairy,” said Zuzu, who had never heard of such a thing before.
“It is the simplest thing in the world,” replied the Private Secretary. “The morning is the best time for the use of the Fairy Telephone. You will notice that then the dew lies heavy upon all the world. All the leaves and blades of grass are wet with it, and it shines in the early sunlight, to my mind far more beautifully than any diamond. Now, over this dewy world of leaves and grass and boughs and ferns, which touch each other quite across the Island, you will see many little fine lines, finer than hairs, woven in and out. Sometimes you will see long floating films and sometimes braided nets. These are the webs of the spiders, which spin all the time without any one asking them to work. Now, these webs of the spiders are the lines of the Fairy Telephone, and they run from this Island quite over into the valley where the Fairies live.”
“That was because you did not have a Cricket to put to your ear at the same time,” said the Private Secretary. “If you have a good Cricket and place it at your ear, it will say things to you. Have you not heard Crickets chirping, chirping away, hour after hour?”
“Of course! of course!” cried both the Twins, “we have heard that.”
“Well,” said the Private Secretary, “that is all there is about it. The Crickets are simply telephoning from the Fairies to you, and it has been your own fault that you have not had messages from the Fairies before now. Only I should say you must remember to have a White Cricket for good Fairies. A Black Cricket will telephone only to bad Fairies. His Majesty, of course, has a fine White Cricket, which has always lived under his shadow; and it is with this that he telephones to the Fairy Valley.”
“I wish I had a Cricket,” said Zuzu.
“Very well,” said the Private Secretary, “you shall have one presently; but remember that is two wishes you have already had. And remember only a White Cricket is the right kind.”
Before Zuzu could think or wish again, Lulu broke in. “I shall wish for a dewy morning and plenty of spider webs,” said she.
“Very well,” said the Private Secretary, “I shall make a note of your second wish. You have now but two wishes left for the week; although I must say that for inexperienced wishers you have done very well.”
“But why can’t we ourselves go to the Fairy Valley,” asked Zuzu, “if it is right here on this Island?”
The Private Secretary frowned. “Surely,” said he, “you are a very ignorant person if you can have such a thought as that. The Fairy Valley is known to none of us of the royal household. Besides, you quite forget about the Dragon which guards the entrance to the Valley. Listen! It seems to me I hear the Dragon’s voice at this moment.”
They all stopped and listened, and, to be sure, they heard at that moment a low, hoarse, roaring sound come across the forest, sounding something like the bark of the sea-lion in the zoölogical gardens, so that any who have heard that will know very well how the voice of a Dragon sounds. For, as it seems, this is what Zuzu and Lulu heard.
“Yes,” said the Private Secretary, “there is the Dragon roaring now.”