Bud and Meg had plenty to occupy them in looking over and admiring their new possessions. First they went to the princess's rooms, where Fluff ordered her seven maids to spread out all the beautiful gowns she had received. And forty of them made quite an imposing show, I assure you. They were all dainty and sweet and of rich material suitable for all occasions and of all colors and shades. Of course there were none with trains, for Margaret, although a princess, was only a little girl; but the gowns were gay with bright ribbons and jeweled buttons and clasps, and each one had its hat and hosiery and slippers to match.
After admiring the dresses for a time, they looked at Bud's new clothes -- twenty suits of velvets, brocades, and finely woven cloths. Some had diamonds and precious gems sewn on them for ornaments, while others were plain; but the poorest suit there was finer than the boy had ever dreamed of possessing. There were also many articles of apparel to go with these suits, such as shoes with diamond buckles, silken stockings, neck laces, and fine linen; and there was a beautiful little sword with a gold scabbard and a jeweled hilt that the little king could wear on state occasions.
However, when the children had examined the gowns and suits to their satisfaction, they began looking for other amusement. "Do you know, Fluff," said the boy, "there isn't a single toy or plaything in this whole palace?"
"I suppose the old king didn't care for playthings," replied Fluff thoughtfully.
Just then there was a knock at the door, and Aunt Rivette came hobbling into the room. Her wrinkled old face was full of eagerness, and in her hands she clasped the purse of golden coins the lord high pursebearer had given her. "See what I've got!" she cried, holding out the purse. "And I'm going to buy the finest clothes in all the kingdom! And ride in the king's carriage. And have a man to wait upon me! And make Mammy Skib and Mistress Kappleson and all the other neighbors wild with jealousy!"
"I don't care," said Bud.
"Why, you owe everything to me!" cried Aunt Rivette. "If I hadn't brought you to Nole on the donkey's back, you wouldn't have been the forty-seventh person to enter the gate."
"That's true," said Meg.
But Bud was angry. "I know it's true," he said, "but look here, you mustn't bother us. Just keep out of our way, please, and let me alone, and then I won't care how many new dresses you buy."
"I'm going to spend every piece of this gold!" she exclaimed, clasping the purse with her wrinkled hands. "But I don't like to go through the streets in this poor dress. Won't you lend me your cloak, Meg, until I get back?"
"Of course I will," returned the girl, and going to the closet, she brought out the magic cloak the fairy had given her and threw it over Aunt Rivette's shoulders. For she was sorry for the old woman, and this was the prettiest cloak she had.
So old Rivette, feeling very proud and anxious to spend her money, left the palace and walked as fast as her tottering legs would carry her down the street in the direction of the shops. "I'll buy a yellow silk," she mumbled to herself, half aloud, "and a white velvet and a purple brocade and a sky-blue bonnet with crimson plumes! And won't the neighbors stare then? Oh dear! If I could only walk faster! And the shops are so far! I wish I could fly!"
Now she was wearing the magic cloak when she expressed this wish, and no sooner had she spoken than two great, feathery wings appeared, fastened to her shoulders. The old woman stopped short, turned her head and saw the wings; and then she gave a scream and a jump and began waving her arms frantically. The wings flopped at the same time, raising her slowly from the ground, and she began to soar gracefully above the heads of the astonished people, who thronged the streets below.
"Stop! Help! Murder!" shrieked Rivette, kicking her feet in great agitation, and at the same time flopping nervously her new wings. "Save me, someone! Save me!"
"Why don't you save yourself?" asked a man below. "Stop flying if you want to reach the earth again!"
This struck old Rivette as a sensible suggestion. She was quite a distance in the air by this time, but she tried to hold her wings steady and not flop them, and the result was that she began to float slowly downward. Then, with horror, she saw she was sinking directly upon the branches of a prickly pear tree, so she screamed and began flying again, and the swift movement of her wings sent her high into the air.
So great was her terror that she nearly fainted; but she shut her eyes so that she might not see how high up she was and held her wings rigid and began gracefully to float downward again. By and by she opened her eyes and found one of her sleeves was just missing the sharp point of a lightning rod on a tower of the palace. So she began struggling and flopping anew, and almost before she knew it, Aunt Rivette had descended to the roof of the royal stables. Here she sat down and began to weep and wail, while a great crowd gathered below and watched her.
"Get a ladder! PLEASE get a ladder!" begged old Rivette. "If you don't, I shall fall and break my neck."
By this time Bud and Fluff had come out to see what caused the excitement, and to their amazement they found their old aunt perched high up on the stable roof with two great wings growing out of her back. For a moment they could not understand what had happened. Then Margaret cried, "Oh, Bud, I let her wear the magic cloak! She must have made a wish!"
"Help! Help! Get a ladder!" wailed the old woman, catching sight of her nephew and niece.
"Well, you ARE a bird, Aunt Rivette!" shouted Bud gleefully, for he was in a teasing mood. "You don't need a ladder! I don't see why you can't fly down the same way you flew up." And all the people shouted, "Yes, yes! The King is right! Fly down!"
Just then Rivette's feet began to slip on the sloping roof, so she made a wild struggle to save herself, and the result was that she fluttered her wings in just exactly the right way to sink down gradually to the ground. "You'll be all right as soon as you know how to use your wings," said Bud with a laugh. "But where did you get 'em, anyhow?"
"I don't know," said Aunt Rivette, much relieved to be on earth again and rather pleased to have attracted so much attention. "Are the wings pretty?"
"They are perfectly lovely!" cried Fluff, clapping her hands in glee. "Why, Aunt Rivette, I do believe you must be the only person in all the world who can fly!"
"But I think you look like an overgrown buzzard," said Bud.
Now it happened that all this praise and the wondering looks of the people did a great deal to reconcile Rivette to her new wings. Indeed, she began to feel a certain pride and distinction in them; and finding she had through all the excitement retained her grasp on the purse of gold, she now wrapped the magic cloak around her and walked away to the shops, followed by a crowd of men, women and children.