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Produced by Dianne Bean and David Widger





THE ROSE AND THE RING


by William Makepeace Thackeray





PRELUDE

It happened that the undersigned spent the last Christmas season in a
foreign city where there were many English children.

In that city, if you wanted to give a child's party, you could not even
get a magic-lantern or buy Twelfth-Night characters - those funny painted
pictures of the King, the Queen, the Lover, the Lady, the Dandy, the
Captain, and so on - with which our young ones are wont to recreate
themselves at this festive time.

My friend Miss Bunch, who was governess of a large family that lived in
the Piano Nobile of the house inhabited by myself and my young charges
(it was the Palazzo Poniatowski at Rome, and Messrs. Spillmann, two
of the best pastrycooks in Christendom, have their shop on the ground
floor): Miss Bunch, I say, begged me to draw a set of Twelfth-Night
characters for the amusement of our young people.

She is a lady of great fancy and droll imagination, and having looked
at the characters, she and I composed a history about them, which
was recited to the little folks at night, and served as our FIRESIDE
PANTOMIME.

Our juvenile audience was amused by the adventures of Giglio and Bulbo,
Rosalba and Angelica. I am bound to say the fate of the Hall Porter
created a considerable sensation; and the wrath of Countess Gruffanuff
was received with extreme pleasure.

If these children are pleased, thought I, why should not others be
amused also? In a few days Dr. Birch's young friends will be expected
to reassemble at Rodwell Regis, where they will learn everything that
is useful, and under the eyes of careful ushers continue the business of
their little lives.

But, in the meanwhile, and for a brief holiday, let us laugh and be as
pleasant as we can. And you elder folk - a little joking, and dancing,
and fooling will do even you no harm. The author wishes you a merry
Christmas, and welcomes you to the Fireside Pantomime.

W. M. THACKERAY. December 1854.




CONTENTS

I. SHOWS HOW THE ROYAL FAMILY SATE DOWN TO BREAKFAST

II. HOW KING VALOROSO GOT THE CROWN, AND PRINCE GIGLIO WENT WITHOUT

III. TELLS WHO THE FAIRY BLACKSTICK WAS, AND WHO WERE EVER SO MANY GRAND
PERSONAGES BESIDES

IV. HOW BLACKSTICK WAS NOT ASKED TO THE PRINCESS ANGELICA'S CHRISTENING

V. HOW PRINCESS ANGELICA TOOK A LITTLE MAID

VI. HOW PRINCE GIGLIO BEHAVED HIMSELF

VII. HOW GIGLIO AND ANGELICA HAD A QUARREL

VIII. HOW GRUFFANUFF PICKED THE FAIRY RING UP, AND PRINCE BULBO CAME TO
COURT

IX. HOW BETSINDA GOT THE WARMING-PAN

X. HOW KING VALOROSO WAS IN A DREADFUL PASSION

XI. WHAT GRUFFANUFF DID TO GIGLIO AND BETSINDA

XII. HOW BETSINDA FLED, AND WHAT BECAME OF HER

XIII. HOW QUEEN ROSALBA CAME TO THE CASTLE OF THE BOLD COUNT HOGGINARMO

XIV. WHAT BECAME OF GIGLIO

XV. WE RETURN TO ROSALBA

XVI. HOW HEDZOFF RODE BACK AGAIN TO KING GIGLIO

XVII. HOW A TREMENDOUS BATTLE TOOK PLACE, AND WHO WON IT

XVIII. HOW THEY ALL JOURNEYED BACK TO THE CAPITAL

XIX. AND NOW WE COME TO THE LAST SCENE IN THE PANTOMIME




THE ROSE AND THE RING




I. SHOWS HOW THE ROYAL FAMILY SATE DOWN TO BREAKFAST

This is Valoroso XXIV., King of Paflagonia, seated with his Queen and
only child at their royal breakfast-table, and receiving the letter
which announces to His Majesty a proposed visit from Prince Bulbo, heir
of Padella, reigning King of Crim Tartary. Remark the delight upon the
monarch's royal features. He is so absorbed in the perusal of the King
of Crim Tartary's letter, that he allows his eggs to get cold, and
leaves his august muffins untasted.

'What! that wicked, brave, delightful Prince Bulbo!' cries Princess
Angelica; 'so handsome, so accomplished, so witty - the conqueror of
Rimbombamento, where he slew ten thousand giants!'

'Who told you of him, my dear?' asks His Majesty.

'A little bird,' says Angelica.

'Poor Giglio!' says mamma, pouring out the tea.

'Bother Giglio!' cries Angelica, tossing up her head, which rustled with
a thousand curl-papers.

'I wish,' growls the King - 'I wish Giglio was. . .'

'Was better? Yes, dear, he is better,' says the Queen. 'Angelica's
little maid, Betsinda, told me so when she came to my room this morning
with my early tea.'

'You are always drinking tea,' said the monarch, with a scowl.

'It is better than drinking port or brandy and water;' replies Her
Majesty.

'Well, well, my dear, I only said you were fond of drinking tea,' said
the King of Paflagonia, with an effort as if to command his temper.
'Angelica! I hope you have plenty of new dresses; your milliners' bills
are long enough. My dear Queen, you must see and have some parties. I
prefer dinners, but of course you will be for balls. Your everlasting
blue velvet quite tires me: and, my love, I should like you to have a
new necklace. Order one. Not more than a hundred or a hundred and fifty
thousand pounds.'

'And Giglio, dear?' says the Queen.

'GIGLIO MAY GO TO THE - '

'Oh, sir,' screams Her Majesty. 'Your own nephew! our late King's only
son.'

'Giglio may go to the tailor's, and order the bills to be sent in to
Glumboso to pay. Confound him! I mean bless his dear heart. He need want
for nothing; give him a couple of guineas for pocket-money, my dear;
and you may as well order yourself bracelets while you are about the
necklace, Mrs. V.'

Her Majesty, or MRS. V., as the monarch facetiously called her (for
even royalty will have its sport, and this august family were very
much attached), embraced her husband, and, twining her arm round her
daughter's waist, they quitted the breakfast-room in order to make all
things ready for the princely stranger.

When they were gone, the smile that had lighted up the eyes of the
HUSBAND and FATHER fled - the pride of the KING fled - the MAN was alone.
Had I the pen of a G. P. R. James, I would describe Valoroso's torments
in the choicest language; in which I would also depict his flashing
eye, his distended nostril - his dressing-gown, pocket-handkerchief, and
boots. But I need not say I have NOT the pen of that novelist; suffice
it to say, Valoroso was alone.

He rushed to the cupboard, seizing from the table one of the many
egg-cups with which his princely board was served for the matin meal,
drew out a bottle of right Nantz or Cognac, filled and emptied the cup
several times, and laid it down with a hoarse 'Ha, ha, ha! now Valoroso
is a man again!'

'But oh!' he went on (still sipping, I am sorry to say), 'ere I was a
king, I needed not this intoxicating draught; once I detested the hot
brandy wine, and quaffed no other fount but nature's rill. It dashes not
more quickly o'er the rocks than I did, as, with blunderbuss in hand,
I brushed away the early morning dew, and shot the partridge, snipe, or
antlered deer! Ah! well may England's dramatist remark, "Uneasy lies
the head that wears a crown!" Why did I steal my nephew's, my young
Giglio's - ? Steal! said I? no, no, no, not steal, not steal. Let me
withdraw that odious expression. I took, and on my manly head I set, the
royal crown of Paflagonia; I took, and with my royal arm I wield, the
sceptral rod of Paflagonia; I took, and in my outstretched hand I hold,
the royal orb of Paflagonia! Could a poor boy, a snivelling, drivelling
boy - was in his nurse's arms but yesterday, and cried for sugarplums and
puled for pap - bear up the awful weight of crown, orb, sceptre? gird
on the sword my royal fathers wore, and meet in fight the tough Crimean
foe?'

And then the monarch went on to argue in his own mind (though we need
not say that blank verse is not argument) that what he had got it was
his duty to keep, and that, if at one time he had entertained ideas of a
certain restitution, which shall be nameless, the prospect by a CERTAIN
MARRIAGE of uniting two crowns and two nations which had been engaged
in bloody and expensive wars, as the Paflagonians and the Crimeans had
been, put the idea of Giglio's restoration to the throne out of the
question: nay, were his own brother, King Savio, alive, he would
certainly will the crown from his own son in order to bring about such a
desirable union.

Thus easily do we deceive ourselves! Thus do we fancy what we wish is
right! The King took courage, read the papers, finished his muffins
and eggs, and rang the bell for his Prime Minister. The Queen, after
thinking whether she should go up and see Giglio, who had been sick,
thought 'Not now. Business first; pleasure afterwards. I will go and see
dear Giglio this afternoon; and now I will drive to the jeweller's, to
look for the necklace and bracelets.' The Princess went up into her own
room, and made Betsinda, her maid, bring out all her dresses; and as for
Giglio, they forgot him as much as I forget what I had for dinner last
Tuesday twelve-month.




II. HOW KING VALOROSO GOT THE CROWN, AND PRINCE GIGLIO WENT WITHOUT

Paflagonia, ten or twenty thousand years ago, appears to have been one
of those kingdoms where the laws of succession were not settled; for
when King Savio died, leaving his brother Regent of the kingdom, and
guardian of Savio's orphan infant, this unfaithful regent took no sort
of regard of the late monarch's will; had himself proclaimed sovereign
of Paflagonia under the title of King Valoroso XXIV., had a most
splendid coronation, and ordered all the nobles of the kingdom to pay
him homage. So long as Valoroso gave them plenty of balls at Court,
plenty of money and lucrative places, the Paflagonian nobility did not
care who was king; and as for the people, in those early times, they
were equally indifferent. The Prince Giglio, by reason of his tender
age at his royal father's death, did not feel the loss of his crown and
empire. As long as he had plenty of toys and sweetmeats, a holiday
five times a week and a horse and gun to go out shooting when he grew
a little older, and, above all, the company of his darling cousin, the
King's only child, poor Giglio was perfectly contented; nor did he
envy his uncle the royal robes and sceptre, the great hot uncomfortable
throne of state, and the enormous cumbersome crown in which that monarch
appeared from morning till night. King Valoroso's portrait has been
left to us; and I think you will agree with me that he must have been
sometimes RATHER TIRED of his velvet, and his diamonds, and his ermine,
and his grandeur. I shouldn't like to sit in that stifling robe with
such a thing as that on my head.

No doubt, the Queen must have been lovely in her youth; for though
she grew rather stout in after life, yet her features, as shown in her
portrait, are certainly PLEASING. If she was fond of flattery, scandal,
cards, and fine clothes, let us deal gently with her infirmities, which,
after all, may be no greater than our own. She was kind to her nephew;
and if she had any scruples of conscience about her husband's taking the
young Prince's crown, consoled herself by thinking that the King, though
a usurper, was a most respectable man, and that at his death Prince
Giglio would be restored to his throne, and share it with his cousin,
whom he loved so fondly.

The Prime Minister was Glumboso, an old statesman, who most cheerfully
swore fidelity to King Valoroso, and in whose hands the monarch left
all the affairs of his kingdom. All Valoroso wanted was plenty of
money, plenty of hunting, plenty of flattery, and as little trouble as
possible. As long as he had his sport, this monarch cared little how
his people paid for it: he engaged in some wars, and of course
the Paflagonian newspapers announced that he had gained prodigious
victories: he had statues erected to himself in every city of the
empire; and of course his pictures placed everywhere, and in all the
print-shops: he was Valoroso the Magnanimous, Valoroso the Victorious,
Valoroso the Great, and so forth; - for even in these early times
courtiers and people knew how to flatter.

This royal pair had one only child, the Princess Angelica, who, you may
be sure, was a paragon in the courtiers' eyes, in her parents', and in
her own. It was said she had the longest hair, the largest eyes, the
slimmest waist, the smallest foot, and the most lovely complexion of
any young lady in the Paflagonian dominions. Her accomplishments were
announced to be even superior to her beauty; and governesses used to
shame their idle pupils by telling them what Princess Angelica could do.
She could play the most difficult pieces of music at sight. She could
answer any one of Mangnall's Questions. She knew every date in the
history of Paflagonia, and every other country. She knew French,
English, Italian, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Cappadocian,
Samothracian, Aegean, and Crim Tartar. In a word, she was a most
accomplished young creature; and her governess and lady-in-waiting was
the severe Countess Gruffanuff.


Would you not fancy, from this picture, that Gruffanuff must have been a
person of highest birth? She looks so haughty that I should have thought
her a princess at the very least, with a pedigree reaching as far back
as the Deluge. But this lady was no better born than many other ladies
who give themselves airs; and all sensible people laughed at her absurd
pretensions. The fact is, she had been maid-servant to the Queen when
Her Majesty was only Princess, and her husband had been head footman;
but after his death or DISAPPEARANCE, of which you shall hear presently,
this Mrs. Gruffanuff, by flattering, toadying, and wheedling her royal
mistress, became a favourite with the Queen (who was rather a weak
woman), and Her Majesty gave her a title, and made her nursery governess
to the Princess.

And now I must tell you about the Princess's learning and
accomplishments, for which she had such a wonderful character. Clever
Angelica certainly was, but as IDLE as POSSIBLE. Play at sight, indeed!
she could play one or two pieces, and pretend that she had never seen
them before; she could answer half a dozen Mangnall's Questions; but
then you must take care to ask the RIGHT ones. As for her languages,
she had masters in plenty, but I doubt whether she knew more than a few
phrases in each, for all her presence; and as for her embroidery and her
drawing, she showed beautiful specimens, it is true, but WHO DID THEM?

This obliges me to tell the truth, and to do so I must go back ever so
far, and tell you about the FAIRY BLACKSTICK.




III. TELLS WHO THE FAIRY BLACKSTICK WAS, AND WHO WERE EVER SO MANY GRAND
PERSONAGES BESIDES

Between the kingdoms of Paflagonia and Crim Tartary, there lived a
mysterious personage, who was known in those countries as the Fairy
Blackstick, from the ebony wand or crutch which she carried; on which
she rode to the moon sometimes, or upon other excursions of business or
pleasure, and with which she performed her wonders.

When she was young, and had been first taught the art of conjuring
by the necromancer, her father, she was always practicing her skill,
whizzing about from one kingdom to another upon her black stick, and
conferring her fairy favours upon this Prince or that. She had scores of
royal godchildren; turned numberless wicked people into beasts, birds,
millstones, clocks, pumps, boot jacks, umbrellas, or other absurd
shapes; and, in a word, was one of the most active and officious of the
whole College of fairies.

But after two or three thousand years of this sport, I suppose
Blackstick grew tired of it. Or perhaps she thought, 'What good am I
doing by sending this Princess to sleep for a hundred years? by fixing a
black pudding on to that booby's nose? by causing diamonds and pearls to
drop from one little girl's mouth, and vipers and toads from another's?
I begin to think I do as much harm as good by my performances. I might
as well shut my incantations up, and allow things to take their natural
course.

'There were my two young goddaughters, King Savio's wife, and Duke
Padella's wife, I gave them each a present, which was to render them
charming in the eyes of their husbands, and secure the affection of
those gentlemen as long as they lived. What good did my Rose and my Ring
do these two women? None on earth. From having all their whims indulged
by their husbands, they became capricious, lazy, ill-humoured, absurdly
vain, and leered and languished, and fancied themselves irresistibly
beautiful, when they were really quite old and hideous, the ridiculous
creatures! They used actually to patronise me when I went to pay them
a visit - ME, the Fairy Blackstick, who knows all the wisdom of the
necromancers, and could have turned them into baboons, and all their
diamonds into strings of onions, by a single wave of my rod!' So
she locked up her books in her cupboard, declined further magical
performances, and scarcely used her wand at all except as a cane to walk
about with.

So when Duke Padella's lady had a little son (the Duke was at that
time only one of the principal noblemen in Crim Tartary), Blackstick,
although invited to the christening, would not so much as attend; but
merely sent her compliments and a silver papboat for the baby, which was
really not worth a couple of guineas. About the same time the Queen
of Paflagonia presented His Majesty with a son and heir; and guns
were fired, the capital illuminated, and no end of feasts ordained to
celebrate the young Prince's birth. It was thought the fairy, who was
asked to be his godmother, would at least have presented him with an
invisible jacket, a flying horse, a Fortunatus's purse, or some other
valuable token of her favour; but instead, Blackstick went up to
the cradle of the child Giglio, when everybody was admiring him and
complimenting his royal papa and mamma, and said, 'My poor child, the
best thing I can send you is a little MISFORTUNE'; and this was all
she would utter, to the disgust of Giglio's parents, who died very soon
after, when Giglio's uncle took the throne, as we read in Chapter I.

In like manner, when CAVOLFIORE, King of Crim Tartary, had a christening
of his only child, ROSALBA, the Fairy Blackstick, who had been invited,
was not more gracious than in Prince Giglio's case. Whilst everybody was
expatiating over the beauty of the darling child, and congratulating
its parents, the Fairy Blackstick looked very sadly at the baby and its
mother, and said, 'My good woman (for the Fairy was very familiar, and
no more minded a Queen than a washerwoman) - my good woman, these people
who are following you will be the first to turn against you; and as for
this little lady, the best thing I can wish her is a LITTLE MISFORTUNE.'
So she touched Rosalba with her black wand, looked severely at the
courtiers, motioned the Queen an adieu with her hand, and sailed slowly
up into the air out of the window.

When she was gone, the Court people, who had been awed and silent in her
presence, began to speak. 'What an odious Fairy she is (they said) - a
pretty Fairy, indeed! Why, she went to the King of Paflagonia's
christening, and pretended to do all sorts of things for that family;
and what has happened - the Prince, her godson, has been turned off his
throne by his uncle. Would we allow our sweet Princess to be deprived of
her rights by any enemy? Never, never, never, never!'

And they all shouted in a chorus, 'Never, never, never, never!'

Now, I should like to know, and how did these fine courtiers show
their fidelity? One of King Cavolfiore's vassals, the Duke Padella
just mentioned, rebelled against the King, who went out to chastise
his rebellious subject. 'Any one rebel against our beloved and august
Monarch!' cried the courtiers; 'any one resist HIM? Pooh! He is
invincible, irresistible. He will bring home Padella a prisoner, and tie
him to a donkey's tail, and drive him round the town, saying, "This is
the way the Great Cavolfiore treats rebels."'

The King went forth to vanquish Padella; and the poor Queen, who was a
very timid, anxious creature, grew so frightened and ill that I am sorry
to say she died; leaving injunctions with her ladies to take care of
the dear little Rosalba. - Of course they said they would. Of course they
vowed they would die rather than any harm should happen to the Princess.
At first the Crim Tartar Court Journal stated that the King was
obtaining great victories over the audacious rebel: then it was
announced that the troops of the infamous Padella were in flight: then
it was said that the royal army would soon come up with the enemy, and
then - then the news came that King Cavolfiore was vanquished and slain
by His Majesty, King Padella the First!

At this news, half the courtiers ran off to pay their duty to the
conquering chief, and the other half ran away, laying hands on all the
best articles in the palace; and poor little Rosalba was left there
quite alone - quite alone; and she toddled from one room to another,
crying, 'Countess! Duchess!' (Only she said 'Tountess, Duttess,' not
being able to speak plain) 'bring me my mutton sop; my Royal Highness
hungy! Tountess! Duttess!' And she went from the private apartments into
the throne-room and nobody was there; - and thence into the ballroom
and nobody was there; - and thence into the pages' room and nobody was
there; - and she toddled down the great staircase into the hall and
nobody was there; - and the door was open, and she went into the court,
and into the garden, and thence into the wilderness, and thence into the
forest where the wild beasts live, and was never heard of any more!

A piece of her torn mantle and one of her shoes were found in the wood
in the mouths of two lionesses' cubs whom KING PADELLA and a royal
hunting party shot - for he was King now, and reigned over Crim Tartary.
'So the poor little Princess is done for,' said he; 'well, what's done
can't be helped. Gentlemen, let us go to luncheon!' And one of the
courtiers took up the shoe and put it in his pocket. And there was an
end of Rosalba!




IV. HOW BLACKSTICK WAS NOT ASKED TO THE PRINCESS ANGELICA'S CHRISTENING

When the Princess Angelica was born, her parents not only did not ask
the Fairy Blackstick to the christening party, but gave orders to their
porter absolutely to refuse her if she called. This porter's name
was Gruffanuff, and he had been selected for the post by their Royal
Highnesses because he was a very tall fierce man, who could say 'Not
at home' to a tradesman or an unwelcome visitor with a rudeness which
frightened most such persons away. He was the husband of that Countess
whose picture we have just seen, and as long as they were together they
quarrelled from morning till night. Now this fellow tried his rudeness
once too often, as you shall hear. For the Fairy Blackstick coming to
call upon the Prince and Princess, who were actually sitting at the open
drawing-room window, Gruffanuff not only denied them, but made the most
ODIOUS VULGAR SIGN as he was going to slam the door in the Fairy's face!
'Git away, hold Blackstick!' said he. 'I tell you, Master and Missis
ain't at home to you;' and he was, as we have said, GOING to slam the
door.

But the Fairy, with her wand, prevented the door being shut; and
Gruffanuff came out again in a fury, swearing in the most abominable
way, and asking the Fairy 'whether she thought he was a going to stay at
that there door hall day?'

'You ARE going to stay at that door all day and all night, and for many
a long year,' the Fairy said, very majestically; and Gruffanuff, coming
out of the door, straddling before it with his great calves, burst out
laughing, and cried, 'Ha, ha, ha! this is a good un! Ha - ah - what's
this? Let me down - O - o - H'm!' and then he was dumb!

For, as the Fairy waved her wand over him, he felt himself rising off
the ground, and fluttering up against the door, and then, as if a screw
ran into his stomach, he felt a dreadful pain there, and was pinned to
the door; and then his arms flew up over his head; and his legs, after
writhing about wildly, twisted under his body; and he felt cold,
cold, growing over him, as if he was turning into metal; and he said,
'O - o - H'm!' and could say no more, because he was dumb.

He WAS turned into metal! He was, from being BRAZEN, BRASS! He was
neither more nor less than a knocker! And there he was, nailed to the
door in the blazing summer day, till he burned almost red-hot; and there
he was, nailed to the door all the bitter winter nights, till his brass
nose was dropping with icicles. And the postman came and rapped at him,
and the vulgarest boy with a letter came and hit him up against the
door. And the King and Queen (Princess and Prince they were then) coming


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