As for the king and Princess Fluff, they returned to the palace and dressed themselves in some of their prettiest garments, telling Jikki to have two ponies saddled and ready for them to ride upon. "We really MUST have some toys," said Meg with decision, "and now that we are rich, there is no reason why we can't buy what we want."
"That's true," answered Bud. "The old king hadn't anything to play with. Poor old man! I wonder what he did to amuse himself."
They mounted their ponies and, followed by the chief counselor and the lord high pursebearer in one of the state carriages and a guard of soldiers for escort, they rode down the streets of the city on a pleasure jaunt amid the shouts of the loyal population.
By and by Bud saw a toy shop in one of the streets, and he and Fluff slipped down from their ponies and went inside to examine the toys. It was a well stocked shop, and there were rows upon rows of beautiful dolls on the shelves, which attracted Margaret's attention at once. "Oh Bud!" she exclaimed. "I must have one of these dollies!"
"Take your choice," said her brother calmly, although his own heart was beating with delight at the sight of all the toys arranged before him.
"I don't know which to choose," sighed the little princess, looking from one doll to another with longing and indecision.
"We'll take 'em all," declared Bud.
"All! What, all these rows of dollies?" she gasped.
"Why not?" asked the king. Then he turned to the men who kept the shop and said, "Call in that old fellow who carries the money."
When the lord high pursebearer appeared, Bud said to him, "Pay the man for all these dolls, and for this -- and this -- and this!" and he began picking out the prettiest toys in all the shop in the most reckless way you can imagine. The soldiers loaded the carriage down with Meg's dolls, and a big cart was filled with Bud's toys. Then the pursebearer paid the bill, although he sighed deeply several times while counting out the money. But the new king paid no attention to old Tillydib; and when the treasures were all secured, the children mounted their ponies and rode joyfully back to the palace, followed in a procession by the carriage filled with dolls and the cart loaded with toys, while Tullydub and Tillydib, being unable to ride in the carriage, trotted along at the rear on foot.
Bud had the toys and dolls all carried upstairs into a big room, and then he ordered everybody to keep out while he and Fluff arranged their playthings around the room and upon the tables and chairs, besides littering the floor so that they could hardly find a clear place large enough for some of their romping games. "After all," he said to his sister, "it's a good thing to be a king!"
"Or even a princess," added Meg, busily dressing and arranging her dolls.
They made Jikki bring their dinner to them in the "playroom," as Bud called it, but neither of the children could spare much time to eat, their treasures being all so new and delightful. Soon after dusk, while Jikki was lighting the candles, the chief counselor came to the door to say that the king must be ready to attend the royal reception in five minutes.
"I won't," said Bud. "I just won't."
"But you MUST, your Majesty!" declared old Tullydub.
"Am I not the king?" demanded Bud, looking up from where he was arranging an army of wooden soldiers.
"Certainly, your Majesty," was the reply.
"And isn't the king's will the law?" continued Bud.
"Certainly, your Majesty!"
"Well, if that is so, just understand that I won't come. Go away and let me alone!"
"But the people expect your Majesty to attend the royal reception," protested old Tullydub, greatly astonished. "It is the usual custom, you know, and they would be greatly disappointed if your Majesty did not appear."
"I don't care," said Bud. "You get out of here and let me alone!"
"But your Majesty -- "
Bud threw a toy cannon at his chief counselor, and the old man ducked to escape it, and then quickly closed the door.
"Bud," said the princess softly, "you were just saying it's great fun to be a king."
"So it is," he answered promptly.
"But father used to tell us," continued the girl, trying a red hat on a brown-haired doll, "that people in this world always have to pay for any good thing they get."
"What do you mean?" said Bud with surprise.
"I mean if you're going to be the king and wear fine clothes and eat lovely dinners and live in a palace and have countless servants and all the playthings you want and your own way in everything and with everybody, then you ought to be willing to pay for all these pleasures."
"How? But how CAN I pay for them?" demanded Bud, staring at her.
"By attending the royal reception and doing all the disagreeable things the king is expected to do," she answered.
Bud thought about it for a minute. Then he got up, walked over to his sister, and kissed her. "I b'lieve you're right, Fluff," he said with a sigh. "I'll go to that reception tonight and take it as I would take a dose of medicine."
"Of course you will!" returned Fluff, looking at him brightly, "And I'll go with you! The dolls can wait till tomorrow. Have Jikki brush your hair, and I'll get my maids to dress me!"
Old Tullydub was wondering how he might best explain the king's absence to the throng of courtiers gathered to attend the royal reception when to his surprise and relief his Majesty entered the room accompanied by the Princess Fluff. The king wore a velvet suit trimmed with gold lace, and at his side hung the beautiful jeweled sword. Meg was dressed in a soft, white, silken gown and looked as sweet and fair as a lily.
The courtiers and their ladies, who were all wearing their most handsome and becoming apparel, received their little king with great respect, and several of the wealthiest and most noble among them came up to Bud to converse with him. But the king did not know what to say to these great personages, and so the royal reception began to be a very stupid affair.
Fluff saw that all the people were standing in stiff rows and looking at one another uneasily, so she went to Bud and whispered to him. "Is there a band of musicians in the palace?" the king inquired of Tellydeb, who stood near.
"Yes, your Majesty."
"Send for them, then," commanded Bud. Presently the musicians appeared, and the king ordered them to play a waltz. But the chief counselor rushed up and exclaimed, "Oh, your Majesty! This is against all rule and custom!"
"Silence!" said Bud angrily. "I'LL make the rules and customs in this kingdom hereafter. We're going to have a dance."
"But it's so dreadful, so unconventional, your Majesty! It's so -- what shall I call it?"
"Here! I've had enough of this," declared Bud. "You go and stand in that corner with your face to the wall till I tell you to sit down," he added, remembering a time when his father, the ferryman, had inflicted a like punishment upon him. Somewhat to his surprise, Tullydub at once obeyed the command, and then Bud made his first speech to the people.
"We're going to have a dance," he said, "so pitch in and have a good time. If there's anything you want, ask for it. You're all welcome to stay as long as you please and go home when you get ready."
This seemed to please the company, for everyone applauded the king's speech. Then the musicians began to play, and the people were soon dancing and enjoying themselves greatly. Princess Fluff had a good many partners that evening, but Bud did not care to dance; he preferred to look on, and after a time he brought old Tullydub out of his corner and made the chief counselor promise to be good and not annoy him again.
"But it is my duty to counsel the king," protested the old man solemnly.
"When I want your advice, I'll ask for it," said Bud.
While Tullydub stood beside the throne, looking somewhat sulky and disagreeable, the door opened and Aunt Rivette entered the reception room. She was clothed in a handsome gown of bright green velvet trimmed with red and yellow flowers, and her wings stuck out from the folds at her back in a way that was truly wonderful.
Aunt Rivette seemed in an amiable mood. She smiled and curtsied to all the people, who stopped dancing to stare at her, and she even fluttered her wings once or twice to show that she was proud of being unlike all the others present. Bud had to laugh at her, she looked so funny, and then a mischievous thought came to him, and he commanded old Tullydub to dance with her.
"But I don't dance, your Majesty!" exclaimed the horrified chief counselor.
"Try it. I'm sure you can dance," returned Bud. "If you don't know how, it's time you learned."
So the poor man was forced to place his arm about Aunt Rivette's waist and to whirl her around in a waltz. The old woman knew as little about dancing as did Tullydub, and they were exceedingly awkward, bumping into everyone they came near. Presently Aunt Rivette's feet slipped, and she would have tumbled upon the floor with the chief counselor had she not begun to flutter her wings wildly.
So instead of falling, she rose gradually into the air, carrying Tullydub with her, for they clung to each other in terror, and one screamed, "Murder!" and the other "Help!" in their loudest voices.
Bud laughed until the tears stood in his eyes, but Aunt Rivette, after bumping both her own head and that of the chief counselor against the ceiling several times, finally managed to control the action of her wings and to descend to the floor again. As soon as he was released, old Tullydub fled from the room, and Aunt Rivette, vowing she would dance no more, seated herself beside Bud and watched the revel until nearly midnight, when the courtiers and their ladies dispersed to their own homes, declaring that they had never enjoyed a more delightful evening.