Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens' complete works online

. (page 74 of 84)
Online LibraryCharles DickensCharles Dickens' complete works → online text (page 74 of 84)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

that it will bring her, that once, whatever she wishes for,


the message. Take care of it."

The king was beginning, " Might I ask the reason?" when
tlic fairy became absohitely furious.

** Witt you be good, sir?" rfie exclaimed, stamping her foot
on the ground. '^ The reason for this, and the reason for
that, indeed ! You are atways wanting the reason. No rea-
son. There I Hoity-toity me I I am sick of j-our grown-up

The king was extrem^y fVightened by the okl ladj'^s flying
into such a passion, and said he was very sorry to have of-
fended her, and he would n*t ask for reasons any more.

'' Be good, then," said the oM lady, '' and don*t."

With these words Grandmarina vanished, and the king
went on and on and on, till he came to the office. There he
wrote and wrote and wrote, till it was time to go home again.
Then he politely invited the Princess Alicia, as the fairy had
directed him, to partake of the sahnon. And when she had
enjoyed it ver}' much, he saw the iish-bone on her plate, as
the fairy had told him he would, and he delivered the fairj's
message, and the Princess Alicia took care to dry the bone,
and to rub it, and to polish it, till it shone like mother-of-

And so, when the queen was going to get up in the mom«
ing, she said, ^^ Oh, dear me, dear me ; my head, my head I "
and then she fainted away.

The Princess Alicia, who happened to be looking in at the
chamber door, asking about breakfast, was very much alarmed
when she saw her royal mamma in this state, and she i*ang
the bell for Pdgg}S which was the name of the lord chamber-

-Bigitized by



lain. But remembering where the smelling-bottle was, she
climbed on a chair and got it; and after that she dimbed
on another chair by the bedside, and held the smelling-bottle
to the queen's nose ; and after that she jumped down, and
got some water ; and after that she jumped up again, and
wetted the queen's forehead; and, in short, when the lord
chamberlain came in, that dear old woman said to the MtUe
princess, '^What a trot you are! I couldn't have done it
better myself!"

But that was not the worst of the good queen's illness. Oh
no ! She was very ill indeed for a long time. The Princess
Alicia kept the seventeen young princes and prinoesaes quiet,
and dressed and undressed and danced the baby, and made
the kettle boil, and heated the soup, and swept the hearth,
and poured out the medicine, and nursed the queen, and did
all that ever she could, and was as busy, busy, busy as busy
could be ; for there were not many servants at that palace,
for three reasons : because the king was short of monQT, be-
cause a rise in his office never seemed to come, and because
quarter-day was so far off that it looked almost as flar (^ and
as little as one of the stars.

But on the morning when the queen fainted away, where
was the magic fish-bone? Why there it was in Princess
Alicia's pocket ! She had almost taken it out to bring the
queen to life again, when she put it back, and looked for the

After the queen had come out of her swoon that momii^,
and was dozing, the Princess Alicia hurried up stairs to tell a
most particulai* secret to a most particularly confidential
friend of hers, who was a dndiess. People did suppose her
a doll ; but she was really a duchess, though nobody knew it
except the princess.

This most particular secret was the secret about the magic
fish-bone, the history of which was well known to the duchess^
because the princess told her everything. The princess
kneeled down by the bed on which the duchess was l^ing, ftiH

Digitized by



dressed and wide awake, and whispered the secret to her.
The dachess smiled and nodded. People might have supposed
that she never smiled and nodded ; but she often did, though
nobody knew it except the princess.

Then the Princess Alicia hurried down-stairs i^ain, to keep
watch in the queen's room. She often kept watch by herself in
the queen's room ; but every evening, while the illness lasted
she sat there watching with the king. And every even-
ing the king sat looking at her with a cross look, wondering
why she never brought out the magic fish-bone. As often as
she noticed this, she ran up-stairs, whispered the secret to
the duchess over again, and said to the duchess besides,
" They think we children never have a reason or a meaning ! "
And the duchess, though the most fashionable duchess that
ever was heard of, winked her eye.

'^ Alicia," said the king, one evening, when she wished
bim good night.

" Yes, papa."

" What is become of the magic fish-bone?"

'* In my pocket, papa."

*' I thought you had lost it?"

"Oh no, papa!"

"Or forgotten it?"

*' No, indeed, papa."

And so another time the dreadfhl little snapping pug-d(^,
next door, made a rush at one of the young princes as he
stood on the steps coming home from school, and terrified
him out of his wits and he put his hand through a pane of
glass, and bled, bled, bled. When the seventeen other young
princes and princesses saw him bleed, bleed, bleed, they were
terrified out of their wits too, and screamed themselves black
in their seventeen faces all at once. But the Princess Alicia
put her hands over all their seventeen mouths, one after an-
other, and persuaded them to be quiet because of the sick
queen. And then she put the wounded prince's hand in a
basin of fi*e8h cold water, while they stared with theii* twice

Digitized by



seventeen sure thirty^-foar, put down foar mud cany tiuee, eyes,
and then she looked in the hand for bits of glass, and Uiere
were fortunately no tuts of glass there. And then die sidd to
two chubby-legged piinces, who were sturdy, though small,
^^ Bring me in the royal rag*bag : I mast snip and stitdi and
cut and contrive." 80 these two young princes tugged at tfae
royal rag-hag, and lugged it in ; and the Piiooess AKcia sad
down on the floor, with a large pair of scissors and a needle
and thready and snipped and stitched, and cut and con-
Mved, and made a bandage, and put it on, and it fitted
beaudfuUy ; and so, when it was all done, she saw the kii^
her papa looking on by the obor*

'* Alicia."
. "Yes, pi^a/'

" What have you been doing? "
. " Saipplng, stitclung, cutting, and contriving, papa.**

" Where is the magic fish-bone? '*

" In my pocket, papa ! '*

" I thought you had lost it? "

'' Oh no, papa!"


'' No, indeed, papa."

After that, she ran up-stairs to the duchess, and told her
what had passed, and told her the secret over again ; and
tjte dw^ess diook her flaxen eoris, aad laughed with her rosy

Well ! and so another time the baby fell under the grate.
The seventeen young princes and iirinoesses were used lo H;
for they were almost always falMug under the grate or dowa
the staii-s ; but the baby was not used to it yet, and It gave lua
a swelled face and a black e^e. The way the poor little dariing
came. to tumble was, that he was out o€ the Princess Alicia's
lap just as she was sitting, in a great coarse apron that quite
smotliered her, in ftY>nt of the kitchen fire, beginning to ped
the turnips for the broth for dinner ; and the way slie came to
be duing that was, that tl^ king's cook had itm away

Digitized by




jnoming with her own true love, who was a ver}^ tall but very
lipsy fiokiier. Then the seventeen yonng princes and prin-
cesses, who cried at everything that happened, cried and
roared. But the Princess Alicia (who could n't help crying a
Httle herself) quietly called to them to be still, on account of
not throwing back the queen up^stairs, who was fast getting
w^, and said, " Hold your tongues, yon wicked little mon-
kej's, every one of you, while I examine babj- ! " Then she ex-
amined baby, and Ibund that he had n't broken anything ; and
she held coW iron to h4s poor dear eye, and smoothed his pow
dear face, and he presentl}' fell asleep in her ai*ms. Then
she said to the seventeen princes and princesses, ^^ I am
aft'aid to let him down 3^t, lest he should wake and feel
pain; be good and you shall all be cooks." The}- jumped
for joy when they heard that, and began making themselves
cooks' caps out of old newspapers. So to one she gave the salt
box, and to one she gave the barlej-, and to one she gave the
herbs, and to one she gave the turnips, and to one she gave
the carrots, and to one she gave the onions, and to one she
gave the spice box, till they were all cooks, and all run-
ning about at work, she sitting in the middle, smothered in
tlie great coarse apron, nui-sing baby. By-and-by the broth
was done ; and the baby woke up, smiling like an angel, and
was trusted to the sedatest princess to hold, while the other
princes and princesses wei^ squeezed into a far-off comer to
look at the Princess Alicia turning out the saucepanftil of
l)ix>th, for fear (as they were always getting into trouble) they
should get splashed and scalded. When the broth came
tumbling out, steaming beautiful^, and smelling like a nose-
gay good to eat, they clapped tlieir hands. That made the
baby clap his hands ; and that, and his looking as if he had
a comic toothache, made all the princes and princesses laugh.
So the Princess Alicia said, '* Laugh and be good ; and after
diimer we will make him a nest on the floor in a comer, and
he shall sit in his nest and see a dance of eigliteen cooks."
That delighted the young princes and princesscsi and they

Digitized by



ate up all the broth, and washed np all the plates and diahet,
and cleared away, and pushed the table into a comer ; and
then they in their cooks' caps, and the Princess Alida in the
smothering coarse apix>n that belonged to the coc^ that had
run away with her own true love that was the yeiy tall but
very tipsy soldier, danced a dance of eighteen cooks before
the angelic baby, who foi^ot his swelled face and his hlaxk
eye, and crowed with joy.

And so then once more the Princess Alicia saw King Wat-
kins the First, her father, standing in the doorway iooking
on, and he said, ^^ What have you been doing, Alicia?"

'* Cooking and contriving, papa.''

" What else have you been doing, Alicia? '*

^^ Keeping the children light-hearted, papa.**

^^ Where is the magic fish-bone, Alicia?"

''In my pocket, papa."

" I thought you had lost it?"

" Oh no, papa ! "

''Or forgotten it?"

" No, indeed, papa."

The king then sighed so heaviljs and seemed so low-^>ir-
ited, and sat down so miserably, leaning his head upon his
hand, and his elbow upon the kitchen table pushed away in
the corner, that the seventeen princes and princesses a^
softly out of the kitchen, and left him alone with the Ptinoess
Alicia and the angelic baby.

" What is the matter, papa?"

" I am dreadfully poor, my child."

" Have 30U no money at all, papa? "

"None, my child."

" Is there no way of getting any, papa? "

" No way," said tlie king. " I have tried very hard, and I
have tried all wa3S."

When she heard those last words, the Princess Alicia be-
gan to put her hand into the pocket where she kepi the magic

Digitized by



**Papa," said she, "when we have tried very hard,
and tried all ways, we must hare done our very, very

'' No doubt, Alicia."

** When we have done our very, very best, papa, and that
is not enough, then I think the right time must have come for
asking help of others." This was the very secret connected
with the magic fish-bone, which she had found out for herself
from the good Fairy Grandmarina's words, and which she
had so often whispered to her beautiful and fashionable
friend, the duchess.

So she took out of her pocket the magic fish-bone, that had
been dried and nibbed and polished till it shone like mother*
of-peai'l ; and she gave it one little kiss, and wished it was
quarter-da}'. And immediately it wca quarter-day ; and the
king's quarter's salary came rattling down the chimney, and
bounced into the middle of the floor.

But this was not half of what happened, — no, not a quar-
ter ; for immediately afterwards the good Fairy Grandmarina
came riding in, in a carriage and four (peacocks), with Mr.
Pickles's boy up behind, dressed in silver and gold, with a
cocked-hat, powdered hair, pink silk stockings, a Jewelled
cane, and a nosegay. Down jumped Mr. Pickles's boy,
with his cocked-hat in his hand, and wonderfUUy polite
(being entu^ly dianged by enchantment), and handed
Grandmarina out ; and there she stood, in her rich shot-silk
smelling of dried lavender, fanning herself with a spariding

"Alicia, my dear/' said this charming old fairy, '^how
do you do? I hope I see you pretty well? Give me a

The Princess Alicia embi-aced her ; and then Grandmarina
turned to the king, and said rather sharpies ^^Are you

The king said he hoped so.

^^ I supiK>3e you know the reason now why my god-daugh-

Digitized by



ter here,*^ . kissiBg tiie priooesg again, ^^ ^d not apply to the
fish'boDe aooner ? " said the fairy.

The king made a shy bow.

" Ah ! but you did n't then f " said the fairy.

The king made a shyer bow.
' ^^ Any more reaaoiu tx> ask for ? " said the fairy.

The king said, No, and he was ver}' sony.

*'Be good, then,," said the fairy, "and live happy ever

: Then Grandmarina waved her fan, and the queen came in
most splendidly dressed ; and the seventeen young princes
and princesses, no longer grown out of their clothee, came in,
newly fitted out from top to toe, with tucks in everything to
admit of its being let out. After that, the fairy tapped the
Princess Alicia with her fan; and the smotherii^ coarse
apron flew away, and she appeared exquisitely dressed, Ifte
a little bride, with a wreath of orange flowers and a Bilker
veil. After that, the kitchen dresser changed of itself into a
wardrobe, made of beautifal woods and gold and looking*
glass, which was full of dresses of all sorts, all for her and all
exactly fitting her. After that, the angelic baby came in,
running alone, with his face and eye not a bit the worse, but
much the better. Then Grandmarina begged to be intro-
duced to the duchess ; and, when the duchess was brougfai
down, many compliments passed between them.
. A little whispering took place between the fairy and the
:duehess ; and then the ^ihry said out aloud, ^' Yes, I thought
she would have told you." Grandmarina then turned to the
king and queen, and said, ** We are going in search of Prince
Certainpei'sonio. The plcasut*p of yoin* company is requested
at church in half an hour precisely." So she and the Princess
Alicia got iiito the carriage ; and Mr. Pickles's bo}* handed in
.the duehess, who sat by herself on the opposite seat ; and
tlien Mr. Pickles's boy put up the steps and got up lH4iind,
and the peacocks flew away with their t»ls behind.
> Prince Certiaiii[iei'soniQ was sitting* by hioM^f, eailing bar-

Digitized by



Jey-Bngar, and miiting to be ninety. When he saw the pea-
cocks, followed by the carriage, coming in at the window, it
immediately ocounred to him that something uncommon was
going to happen.

** Prince," said Orandmarina, ** I bring you yoar bride."
The moment the faity said those words. Prince Certainper^
«onio's face left off being sticky, and his jacket and corduroys
changed to peach-bloom velvet, and his hair curled, and a
cap and feather flew in like a bird and settled on his head.
He got into the carriage by the fairy's invitation ; and there
he renewed his acquaintance with the duchess, whom he had
seen before.

In the church were the prince's relations and friends, and
the Princess Alicia's relations and friends, and the seventeen
^inces and princesses, and the baby, and a ixowd of the
neighbors. The marriage was beautiful beyond expression.
The daohess was bi-idesroaid, and beheld tlie ceremony from
ihe pulpit, where she was supported bj- the cushion of the

Grandmarina ga^^e a magnificent wedding fbast afterwai*ds,
in which there was everything and more to eat, and every-
thing and more to drink. The wedding-cake was delicately
jomitraented with white satin ribbons, A*osted 'silver, and
-white lilies, and was forfy-two 3'ards round.

When Grandmarina had drunk her love to the young
.couple, and Prince Certainpersonio had made a speech, and
everybody had cried, Hip, hip, hip, hniTah! Grandmarina
announced to the king and queen that in future there would
bo eight quarter-days in every 3'ear, exc^t in leap-year,
when theire would be ten. She then turned to Certainperso-
nio and Alicia, and said, " My dears, you will hare thirty- five
children, and they will all be good and beaiitiftil. Seventeen
of your children will be boys, and eighteen will be girls. The
^hair of the whole of ^our diildren will curl iwiturally. They
will never have thu measles, and will have recovered from tiie
hooping-cough bcfoi-e being born."

Digitized by



On hearing such good news, eyeT}*body cried out, *'*' Hip,
hip, hip, hurrah!" again.

^^It only remains," said Grandmarina in condosion, ^^to
make an end of the fish-bone."

So she took it fh>m the hand of t^e Prinoess Alicia, and it
instantly flew down the throat of the dreadful little snapping
pug-dog, next door, and choked him, and he expired in con-



The subject of our present narrative would appear to have
devoted himself to the pirate profession at a comparatively
earl}' age. We find him in command of a splendid schooner
of one hundred guns loaded to the muzzle, ere yet he had
had a party in honor of his tenth birtiiday.

It seems that our hero, considering himself spited by a
Latin-grammar mastei*, demanded the satisfaction due fhmi
one man of honor to another. Not getting it, he privately
withdrew his haughty spirit fh>m such low company, bought
a second-hand pocket pistol, folded up some sandwidies in a
paper bag, made a bottle of Spamsh-liquorioe water, and en-
tered on a career of valor.

It were tedious to follow Boldheart (for sadi was his name)
through the commencing stages of his story. Suffice it tiiat
we find him bearing the rank of Capt. Boldheart, reclining
in full uniform on a crimson hearth-rug spread out upon the
quarter-deck of his schooner ^^The Beauty," in the China
seas. It was a lovely evening ; and, as his crew lay groaped
about him, he favored them with the following nidody, —
1 Aged nine.

Digitized by



" O landsmen are f oUy 1
O pirates are jolly !
O diddleum Dollj^

Chorus. — Heave yo."

The soothing effect of these animated sounds floating over
the waters, as the common sailors united their rough voices
to take up the rich tones of Boldheart, ma}' be more easily
conceived than described.

It was under these circumstances that the look-out at the
masthead gave the word *^ Whales I "
All was now activity.

''Where away?'* cried Capt. Boldheart, starting up.
" On the larboard bow, sir," replied the fellow at the mast-
head, touching his hat. For such was the height of discipline
on board of " The Beauty," that, even at that height, he was
obliged to mind it, or be shot through the head.

" This adventure belongs to me," said Boldheart. " Boy,
my harpoon. Let no man follow ; " and, leaping alone into
his boat, the captain rowed with admirable dexterity in the
direction of the monster.
All was now excitement.

" He nears him ! " said an elderly seaman, following the
captain through his spy-glass.

" He strikes him ! " said another seaman, a mere stripling,
bat also with a spy-glass.

" He tows him towards us ! " said another seaman, a man
in the Ml vigor of life, but also with a spy-glass.

In fact, the captain was seen approaching, with the huge
bulk following. We will not dwell on the deafening cries of
'' Boldheart ! Boldheart ! " with which he was received, when,
carelessly leaping on the quarter-deck, he presented his prize
to his men. They afterwards made two thousand four hun-
dred and seventeen pound ten and sixpence by it.

Ordering the sails to be braced up, the captain now stood
W, N. W, " The Beauty " fliew rather than floated over the

Digitized by



dark blue waters. Nothing particular bccurred for a fort-
night, except taking, with considerable slaughter, four Span-
ish galleons, and a snow fVom South America, all richly
laden. Inaction began to tell upon the spirits of the men.
Capt. Boldheart called all hands aft, and said, ^' M3' lads,
I hear there are discontented ones among ye. Let muy midi
stand forth."

After sonie murmuring, in which the expreasioas, ^^ Ay,
ay, sir!" ''Union Jack," ''Avast," "Starboard,'* ^'POTi,"
"Bowsprit," and similar indications of a mutinous under-
current, though subdued, were audible, Bill Boozey, captain
of the foretop, came out from the i-est. His form was that
of a giant, but tie quailed under the captain's eye.

" What are 3'oar wrongs? " said the captain.

"Why, d'ye see, Capt. Boldhenrt," replied the towering
mariner, " I 've sailed, man and bo\', for many a year, but f
never 3'et knowed tlie milk served out for the 8hip*s com-
pan^-'s teas to be so sour as 't is aboard this craft."

At this moment the thrilling cry, " Man overboard ! " an-
nounced to the astonished crew that Booaie}', in step|iing
back, as the captain (in mere thoughtf\ilne88) laid his hand
upon the faithful pocket pistol which he wore in his belt,
had lost his balance, and was struggling with the foaming

All was now stopefaction.

But with Capt. Boldheart, to throw off his aaifbnn coat,
regardless of the various rich orders with which It was deco-
rated, and to phmge into the sea after the drowmng giaai,
was the work of a moment. Maddening was the excitement
when boats were lowered ; intense the joy when tiie captain
was seen holding up the drowning man with his teeth ; deaf-
ening the cheering when both were restored to the main-^edc
of '^The Beauty." And, fW>m the instant of We diangmg
his wet clothes for dry ones, Capt. Boldheart had no siidi
devoted thougli hnmble ftiend as William Boo«e}\

Boldheart now pointed to the horia^^ and ciilliHl Ae att«B-

Digitized by



Hon of his oreir to the taper epare of a ship lying mug in
harbor under thfe gons of a fort.

^^ She shall be ours a;t sunnse/' said he. ^^ Serve oat a
double allowance of grog, and prepare for action."

All was now preparation.

When morning dawned, after a sleepless night, it was seen
that the stranger was crowding on all sail to come out of the
harbor and offer battle. As the two ships come nearer to
each other, the stranger fired a gun and hoisted Roman col*
ors. Boldheart then perceived her to be the Latin-grammar
master's bark. S«ch indeed she was, and had been tacking
about the world in unavailing pursuit, fW>m the time of his
first taking to a roving life.

Boldheart now addressed his men, promising to blow them
up if he should feel convinced that their reputation required
it, and giving orders that the Latin-grammar master should
be taken alive. He then dismissed them to their quarters,
and the fight began with a broadside from '*The Beaut}."
She then veered around, and poured in another. " The Scor-
pion" (so was the bark of the Latin-grammar master appro-
priately ealkd) was not slow to return her fire ; and a terrific
cannonading ensued, in which the guns of " The Beauty " did
tremendous execution.

The Latin-grammar master was seen upon the poop, in the
midst of the smoke and fire, encouraging his men. To do
him Justice, he was no craven, though his white hat, his short
gray trousers, and his long snuflk^olored surtout reaching to
has heels (the selfsame coat in which he had spited Bold-
heart), contrasted most unfavorably wfth the brilliant unifoim
of the latter. At this moment, Boldheart, seizing a pike and
putting himself at the head of his men, gave the word to

A desperate conflict ensued in the hammock-nettings, — or
somewhere in about that direction, — until the Latin-gram-
ntai* master, having ail his masts gone, h!s hull and rigging
shot through, and seeing Boldheaii; slashing a path towaitis

Digitized by



Online LibraryCharles DickensCharles Dickens' complete works → online text (page 74 of 84)