On the morning following this event, the King of Gee-Whiz woke in great good humor. “I declare, I never felt better in my life,” said he to his Private Secretary, “and I believe it is all due to those excellent Waffles which the lady has made for me. I must have some more, and that at once. Pray, tell her to get ready my breakfast, and to have not less than two dozen Waffles at the least.”
“Very good, your Majesty,” said the Private Secretary, smiling, and very glad that he had been able to find something so much to the King’s liking.
“Perfectly,” replied the Private Secretary, “as indeed they ought to be. I presume they are wandering somewhere about in the forest, as is their custom. I need hardly say that they have already nearly exhausted their three wishes.”
“Well,” said the King, “we need not fear they will wish anything dangerous. But do you know, my dear Jiji, I have been feeling rather nervous myself this morning.”
“Why, your Majesty, what can be the trouble?”
“I can not call it exactly any trouble, for it is a mere uneasiness. The truth is, I felt as though there were some one behind my bed all the morning. Now, that can not possibly be the case.”
“No, your Majesty,” said the Private Secretary, “because I always sleep across the door-mat myself, and it would be impossible for any one to reach your Majesty’s bedside without my knowing it. Permit me to suggest that perhaps the royal Waffles—”
“No, no,” exclaimed the King decidedly. “It is not in the least the Waffles. It is nothing—only a dream, perhaps. Yet I wonder if any of the Fairies can have got out of the valley. If I thought so, I would have Jankow court-martialed, and perhaps beheaded. He is getting a trifle too old for a good Dragon, anyhow.”
“Impossible,” said the kind-hearted Private Secretary. “I saw Jankow but yesterday, and he is as wide-awake as ever.”
“As for myself,” replied the King, “I have not slept so well for a hundred years, although I can not tell whether it is the Waffles or the syrup.”
“It was a fortunate thing, your Majesty, that you found the syrup so easily,” said the Private Secretary.
“Quite right,” replied the King. “And since it is not yet quite breakfast time, I think I shall just wander out into the woods and carry my ax, in case I should find a syrup tree. Although I am King, I believe in every man doing a little work for himself, you know.”
So saying, the King stepped out into the edge of the great forest which surrounded the palace, humming a tune to himself, for he felt very contented that morning. He was not aware that at his side, hopping along as he walked, was the little Black Wicked Fairy which had been summoned by Zuzu’s thoughtless message of the evening before. This Wicked Fairy, when Zuzu had stooped over to find his Cricket, had merely slipped back under a leaf and hidden himself, where he had stood laughing to himself at the confusion of Lulu and Zuzu. It seems to be a peculiarity of Wicked Fairies never to oblige any one if they can help doing so; and that this is true may be seen from the acts of this Wicked Fairy in regard to the Telephone.
No sooner had Zuzu and Lulu left the forest on the night before than the Wicked Fairy followed them to their own house near the palace. He spied upon all the surroundings, and soon discovered the sleeping apartments of the King. He hopped over the form of the Private Secretary after the latter had gone to sleep, and so hid himself behind the royal bedstead, as the King had dimly felt was the case.
Now, it was not in the power of the Wicked Fairy actually to harm the King or any other person, but only to encourage persons to do things which would get them into trouble. Thus it was he who had suggested to the King to take his ax and go out into the woods to find a syrup tree. This was really the worst thing in the world the King could have done, as was very soon to be shown; for it was far from the Fairy’s intentions that the King should cut into a real syrup tree.
As the King went on, with his gold ax over his shoulder, he was thinking of a great many things which he ought to do, or wanted to do, or did not want to do. By this time, the sun was shining brightly, so that the shadow of the King appeared distinctly upon the ground. Now, you must know that the shadow of a king is very much better and bigger than the shadow of a common person. A king will not cause a shadow in the dark, or at least very few kings will; but in a brilliant place, even if there be intervening objects, the shadow of a king is very clear and distinct. The King of Gee-Whiz was very proud of his shadow, for, being a trifle vain, he thought himself a very handsome man, and that, indeed, he once had been; which is the same thing, for a King.
Now, as he looked down at the ground, he saw his shadow moving along at his side, keeping step with him regularly and looking, as it seemed to him, very large and handsome. He stood for a time at an open space in the forest, with his ax resting on a stump, looking with pride on his shadow, which he thought was quite the most superior shadow he had ever seen. When he made a motion, the shadow made the same. He raised his hand to his head in royal salute, and the shadow did quite the same. “Even a shadow has reverence for the King,” said he, and he felt very glad that he had been born a King, as the position carried with it many advantages of a very obvious nature.
“I don’t see what I could do without my shadow,” said the King of Gee-Whiz. “It and my faithful Private Secretary are my best friends and companions, and without them I should be very lonesome; for not even a King, I presume, could eat Waffles all the time. I am sure I should miss my shadow above all things.”
As the King of Gee-Whiz said this, he looked about him uneasily, with something of the same feeling he had experienced when he thought some one was behind his bed. There was good reason for this, for in both cases the Wicked Fairy was directly at his elbow, although the King could not see him.
“Well, well,” said the King, “I will just draw me a jug of syrup, and I am sure the exercise will do me good. Even a King must have physical culture, or fall quite behind the times. Let me see. Ah, here is a tree which looks precisely like a syrup tree.”
So saying, he laid about him with his ax and cleared a little space so that he could get at the trunk of the tree. It was then that the Wicked Fairy whispered in his ear, although the King did not know it: “Cut into that tree, the one with the big green leaves!”
The King of Gee-Whiz, not knowing that a Fairy was there, thought it was his own voice he had heard. “Eh?” said he. “Ah, to be sure, this certainly is the tree. So now for a little exercise, and some syrup for my breakfast.” So saying he swung his gold ax and cut deep into the trunk of the tree the Fairy had shown him.