Now at the royal palace of the King of Gee-Whiz all was gloom and sadness, as may readily be supposed. The Widow Pickle had lost more than thirty pounds in weight from weeping so incessantly; the Private Secretary was also worn almost to a shadow, while the Court Physician, the Court Detective, and the Court Lawyer all confessed themselves on the verge of despair and in fear of their lives; as by this time they had been obliged to admit their entire inability to solve the mystery regarding the disappearance of the Twins, of the Enchanted Banjo, of the shadow of the King, and of the Dragon’s wooden leg. The King himself was by this time very thin and weary-looking, and took no delight even in Waffles, while the mere thought of syrup caused him to shudder. “My life is ruined,” said he, “and I shall never again be happy.” This he repeated over and over again.
“Without a shadow I no longer desire to be King,” said he at length to the Private Secretary. “Elect a Council, if you like, and have them make the laws and do the ruling as they please. I am going to cease being King, because I am not happy and contented.”
It was just at this time that there was heard, far off in the forest, the sound of the Enchanted Banjo, playing the air which has been mentioned. At this sound the King sat up very straight on his throne and began to listen. At that moment there rushed toward him the Court Detective, who exclaimed, “Your Majesty! Your Majesty! I have the honor to report that I have discovered the Enchanted Banjo!”
“Where?” asked the King.
The Court Detective pointed toward the sound, and answered, “There!”
“Ah,” said the King, “I had discovered that much myself.”
“Ah!” said the King, “I knew that much myself;” and he settled his royal waistcoat in front and began to look interested.
“Your Majesty! Your Majesty!” cried the Court Lawyer, excitedly running up at this moment, “I have the honor to report that it will not be necessary to behead the Court Detective! I have rendered my opinion.”
“Indeed?” said the King. “I have just rendered that opinion for myself.”
“Your Majesty! Your Majesty!” cried the Widow Pickle, also appearing at this moment, quite out of breath, “I am sure my Twins are coming home.”
“Indeed?” said the King. “I was of that belief myself before you spoke. I beg you all to observe that I am King on this Island, and I propose now to resume my reigning for a time, to show that I am King. Yet what, I should like to ask, do all these matters benefit me, who am as shadowless as before?”
There was no time to answer him, for at that moment, to their great surprise, there emerged from the edge of the forest the Twins, carrying the Enchanted Banjo between them and carrying also their lunch basket and the shadow of the King. They walked at once directly in front of the throne and as soon as their mother had kissed them again and again, they signaled that they would like the attention of those present.
“Listen!” cried the King of Gee-Whiz, “the Royal Hereditary Twins of the Island of Gee-Whiz will now be heard!”
The King’s voice was weak because of his longing for his shadow. He did not suspect it, although it was a fact, that Zuzu was holding his shadow before him in plain view. It was so new and handsome a shadow that the King did not recognize it as his own.
“O King!” said Zuzu, approaching and kneeling before the throne. And Lulu also came and knelt saying “O King!” They held the Royal Wishing Wands high above them.
“We come as messengers from the good Queen Zulena, Ruler of the Fairies,” said Zuzu; “and we bring a wish to you from her, which she wished us to wish on our Royal Wishing Wands.”
“Zulena!” gasped the King, falling back upon the drapery of his throne with his hand at his throat. “Zulena!—is it possible that she—”
“O King!” said the Twins together, both rubbing hard at their Wishing Wands, “this wish has been kept a secret for many years in the heart of the Queen of the Fairies. This is the wish: That you be restored to your former self again; that you cease to value gold as the greatest of all things; that you remember the friendships of your earlier days; and that for ever you may be happy and contented!”
Then to their great surprise a strange and wonderful thing occurred, directly before their eyes. The form of the King of Gee-Whiz straightened up. The tired look faded away from his face. His hair became long and glossy and dark. His eyes became bright and merry. His garb grew yet more shining and splendid; and at once his bearing was that of a young and handsome man, as indeed he now was. With his hand at the hilt of his sword, he stepped down from the first step of his throne, and with a truly royal air raised his hand and exclaimed: “Long live the Queen Zulena, the Sovereign to whom I send my homage!”
As he said these words all bowed down before him as though a strong wind had swept them forward. The King spoke again.
“My shadow, please!” he said. Without further speech Zuzu handed him his shadow, recently twisted and distorted, but now new and handsome as the King himself. To their great surprise it fitted the King perfectly in every way.
The face of the King was stern and commanding now, though very handsome and very glad. “My Royal Cricket now, good Princess,” said he to Lulu; “for now we shall send word of our own to our ruler, the good Queen who has set us free from all Wicked Fairies.”
Lulu bowed low before the King, and presented to him the White Cricket; which at once took its place under the shadow of the King. In a moment it had found a floating film of gossamer, the web of the Fairy spiders, and the King inclined his ear as he heard a voice far off chirping.
“That,” said the King, “is the telephone to Fairy-land. And now a royal wish of our own: May the Fairies help a Monarch who wishes always to be wise and good. Zulena! Zulena!”
And lo! as they all gazed at the spot where he stood, to their great surprise they saw standing there, smiling and bowing and looking very sweet, no less a person than Zulena, the good Queen of the Fairies.
Kneeling to her, before them all, the King kissed her hand. The face of the Queen was now very glad and happy.
“Now,” said the King, rising and again looking very handsome, and very stern as well as very kind at the same time, “we, the good Queen Zulena and I, shall rule this country together from our joint throne. We shall ever defend the secret of the Fairy Valley where lies the Mother of Gold. From this time on it shall be our greatest task to spread abroad content and happiness for all.”
“My lord speaks well and wisely,” said the sweet voice of the Fairy Queen, “and that all may know our wishes to be the same, I shall grant to each of our subjects here present, before the Royal Wedding March begins, one wish each, for that which is best for the one wishing it.”
The Court Detective, the Court Physician, and the Court Lawyer each wished for greater wisdom; and this the Royal Couple said was a very desirable wish, and should be granted. The Private Secretary asked that he might be continued all his life in the service of the King; and this was granted him, for a better Private Secretary was never known. The Prince Zuzu, and the Princess Lulu—for so they might as well be called at this time—each wished that all their friends might be happy and contented, that the King and Queen might live and reign for ever and keep Fairy-land a place whence good children may have good gifts sent to them.
The Widow Pickle made a wish which after all was, under the circumstances, perhaps quite as practical as any. “This looks like a wedding,” said she, “and I have not a thing in the world fit to wear. Dear me, I wish I was back in the city for just a day or so to do some shopping.”
Now, as they all finished their wishes, they looked about them upon a strange and wondrous scene. The sun was just sinking and all the earth seemed as though flooded with gold. The King and Queen stood hand in hand upon the steps of the throne; and near by, grown very large, was the Enchanted Banjo, swung high between two tall trees. Birds came and perched upon the strings of the Enchanted Banjo, and the wind blew leaves across the strings; and as they looked at these things the Enchanted Banjo began to play.
BALLAD OF THE GOOD CHILD
When little children have been good— As all good little children should— It's very strange, but very true, That then the sky is bright and blue Until the sun sinks in the west And then the stars all look their best And something whispers far away: "You have been very good to-day." The bees that hurry home for night; The little chickens, plump and white; The katydids—they shout the word Until on every side 'tis heard; The crickets hidden in the grass Chirp merrily to all who pass: "That child, in study, work and play, Was very, very good to-day!" And when your little prayer is said And you have snuggled in your bed And when your eyelids slowly close— Why, then, oh, what do you suppose? The bed, the chair, your clothes, the wall, The turned-down light—they one and all Seem glad, and speak of you and say: "You have been very good to-day."
Perhaps it was the wish of their mother which brought it all about; and whatever might have been their own preference in the case, of course the wish of the Widow Pickle had to be granted, just the same as all the others. However that may have been, the facts are very plain: when Zuzu and Lulu awoke to a sense of their surroundings they were back in their own little beds, in their own little room at home, and around them there was no court of Fairy-land, nor any strange forest of the distant island in the sea. They rubbed their eyes, and stared about them for a time.
“Yes, did you?” said Lulu. “I thought I heard music.”
“Let’s talk about it,” said Zuzu.
“Very well,” said Lulu, “suppose we do, for certainly it was a very beautiful dream.”