When Tollydob, still wearing the magic cloak, had bowed before the king, Bud asked, "How many men are there in the royal army, general?"
"Seven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven, may it please your generous Majesty," returned Tollydob. "That is without counting myself."
"And do they obey your orders promptly?" inquired Bud, who felt a little doubt on this point.
"Yes indeed!" answered the general proudly. "They are terribly afraid of my anger."
"And yet you're a very small man to command so large an army," said the king.
The lord high general flushed with shame, for although he was both old and fat, he was so short of stature that he stood but a trifle taller than Bud himself. And, like all short men, he was very sensitive about his height. "I'm a terrible fighter, your Majesty," declared Tollydob earnestly, "and when I'm on horseback, my small size is little noticed. Nevertheless," he added with a sigh, "it is a good thing to be tall. I wish I were ten feet high."
No sooner were the words spoken than Bud gave a cry of astonishment, for the general's head shot suddenly upward until his gorgeous hat struck the ceiling and was jammed down tightly over the startled man's eyes and nose. The room was just ten feet high, and Tollydob was now ten feet tall; but for a time the old general could not think what had happened to him, and Bud, observing for the first time that Tollydob wore the magic cloak, began to shriek with laughter at the comical result of the old man's wish.
Hearing the king laugh, the general tore the hat from his head and looked at himself in mingled terror and admiration. From being a very small man he had suddenly become a giant, and the change was so great that Tollydob might well be amazed. "What has happened, your Majesty?" he asked in a trembling voice.
"Why, don't you see, you were wearing my sister's magic cloak," said Bud, still laughing at the big man's woeful face, "and it grants to every wearer the fulfillment of one wish."
"Only one?" inquired poor Tollydob. "I'd like to be a little smaller, I confess."
"It can't be helped now," said Bud. "You wished to be ten feet tall, and there you are! And there you'll have to stay, Tollydob, whether you like it or not. But I'm very proud of you. You must be the greatest general in all the world, you know!"
Tollydob brightened up at this and tried to sit down in a chair, but it crushed to pieces under his weight, so he sighed and remained standing. Then he threw the magic cloak upon the floor with a little shudder at its fairy powers, and said, "If I'd only known, I might have become just six feet tall instead of ten!"
"Never mind," said Bud consolingly. "If we ever have a war, you will strike terror into the ranks of the enemy, and everyone in Noland will admire you immensely. Hereafter you will be not only the lord high general, but the lord VERY high general."
So Tollydob went away to show himself to the chief counselor, and he had to stoop very low to pass through the doorway. When Jikki saw the gigantic man coming out of the king's chamber, he gave a scream and fled in terror, and strange to say, this effect was very agreeable to the lord high general, who loved to make people fear him.
Bud ran to tell Fluff the curious thing that had happened to the general, and so it was that when the lord high executioner entered the palace there was no one around to receive him. He made his way into the king's chamber, and there he found the magic cloak lying upon the floor. "I've seen the Princess Fluff wearing this," thought the lord high executioner, "so it must belong to her. I'll take it to her rooms, for it is far too pretty to be lying around in this careless way, and Jikki ought to be scolded for allowing it."
So Tellydeb picked up the cloak and laid it over his arm, then he admired the bright hues that ran through the fabric, and presently his curiosity got the better of him; he decided to try it on and see how he would look in it. While thus employed, the sound of a girl's sweet laughter fell upon Tellydeb's ears, seeming to come from a far distance. "The princess must be in the royal gardens," he said to himself. "I'll go there and find her."
So the lord high executioner walked through the great hall still wearing the cloak, and finally came to the back of the palace and passed a doorway leading into the gardens. All was quiet here save for the song of the birds as they fluttered among the trees, but at the other end of the garden Tellydeb caught a glimpse of a white gown, which he suspected might be that of the little princess.
He walked along the paths slowly, enjoying the scent of the flowers and the peacefulness of the scene, for the lord high executioner was a gentle-natured man and delighted in beautiful sights. After a time he reached a fruit orchard and saw hanging far up in a big tree a fine red apple. Tellydeb paused and looked at this longingly. "I wish I could reach that apple!" he said with a sigh as he extended his arm upward.
Instantly the arm stretched toward the apple, which was at least forty feet away from the lord high executioner; and while the astonished man eyed his elongated arm in surprise, the hand clutched the apple, plucked it, and drew it back to him; and there he stood, the apple in his hand and his arm apparently the same as it had been before he accomplished the wonderful feat.
For a moment the counselor was overcome with fear. The cloak dropped unnoticed from his shoulders and fell upon the graveled walk, while Tellydeb sank upon a bench and shivered. "It -- it was like magic!" he murmured. "I but reached out my hand, so. It went nearly to the top of the tree, and -- "
Here he gave a cry of wonder, for again his arm stretched the distance and touched the topmost branches of the tree. He drew it back hastily, and turned to see if anyone had observed him. But this part of the garden was deserted, so the old man eagerly tested his new accomplishment. He plucked a rose from a bush a dozen yards to the right, and having smelled its odor, he placed it in a vase that stood twenty feet to his left. Then he noted a fountain far across a hedge, and reaching the distance easily dipped his hand in the splashing water. It was all very amazing, this sudden power to reach a great distance, and the lord high executioner was so pleased with the faculty that when he discovered old Jikki standing in the palace doorway, he laughingly fetched him a box on the ear that sent the valet scampering away to his room in amazed terror.
Said Tellydeb to himself, "Now I'll go home and show my wife what a surprising gift I have acquired."
So he left the garden, and not long afterward old Tallydab, the lord high steward, came walking down the path, followed by his little dog Ruffles. I am not certain whether it was because his coat was so shaggy or his temper so uncertain that Tallydab's dog was named Ruffles, but the name fitted well both the looks and the disposition of the tiny animal. Nevertheless, the lord high steward was very fond of his dog, which followed him everywhere except to the king's council chamber; and often the old man would tell Ruffles his troubles and worries and talk to the dog just as one would to a person.
Today, as they came slowly down the garden walk, Tallydab noticed a splendid cloak lying upon the path. "How very beautiful!" he exclaimed as he stooped to pick it up. "I have never seen anything like this since the Princess Fluff first rode into Nole beside her brother the king. Isn't it a lovely cloak, Ruffles?"
The dog gave a subdued yelp and wagged his stubby tail. "How do I look in it, Ruffles?" continued the lord high steward, wrapping the folds of the magic cloak about him. "How do I look in such gorgeous apparel?"
The dog stopped wagging its tail and looked up at its master earnestly. "How do I look?" again said Tallydab. "I declare, I wish you could talk!"
"You look perfectly ridiculous," replied the dog in a rather harsh voice.
The lord high steward jumped nearly three feet in the air, so startled was he at Ruffles' reply. Then he bent down, a hand on each knee, and regarded the dog curiously. "I thought at first you had spoken!" said he.
"What caused you to change your mind?" asked Ruffles peevishly. "I DID speak, I AM speaking. Can't you believe it?"
The lord high steward drew a deep sigh of conviction. "I believe it!" he made answer. "I have always declared you were a wonderful dog, and now you prove I am right. Why, you are the only dog I ever heard of who could talk."
"Except in fairy tales," said Ruffles calmly. "Don't forget the fairy tales."
"I don't forget," replied Tallydab. "But this isn't a fairy tale, Ruffles. It's real life in the kingdom of Noland."
"To be sure," answered Ruffles. "But see here, my dear master, now that I am at last able to talk, please allow me to ask you for something decent to eat. I'd like a good meal for once just to see what it is like."
"A good meal!" exclaimed the steward. "Why, my friend, don't I give you a big bone every day?"
"You do," said the dog, "and I nearly break my teeth on it, trying to crack it to get a little marrow. Whatever induces people to give their dogs bones instead of meat?"
"Why, I thought you liked bones!" protested Tallydab, sitting on the bench and looking at his dog in astonishment.
"Well, I don't. I prefer something to eat, something good and wholesome, such as you eat yourself," growled Ruffles.
The lord high steward gave a laugh. "Why," said he, "don't you remember that old Mother Hubbard?"
"Ah! That WAS a fairy tale," interrupted Ruffles impatiently. "And there wasn't even a bone in her cupboard, after all. Don't mention Mother Hubbard to me if you want to retain my friendship."
"And that reminds me," resumed the lord high steward with a scowl, "that a few minutes ago you said I looked ridiculous in this lovely cloak."
"You do!" said Ruffles with a sniff. "It is a girl's cloak, and not fit for a wrinkled old man like you."
"I believe you are right," answered Tallydab with a sigh; and he removed the cloak from his shoulders and hung it over the back of the garden seat. "In regard to the meat that you so long for," he added, "if you will follow me to the royal kitchen, I will see that you have all you desire."
"Spoken like a good friend!" exclaimed the dog. "Let us go at once."
So they passed down the garden to the kitchen door, and the magic cloak, which had wrought such wonderful things that day, still remained neglectfully cast aside. It was growing dark when old Tillydib, the lord high pursebearer, stole into the garden to smoke his pipe in peace. All the afternoon he had been worried by people with bills for this thing or that, and the royal purse was very light indeed when Tillydib had at last managed to escape to the garden. "If this keeps up," he reflected, "there will be no money left, and then I'm sure I don't know what will become of us all!"
The air was chilly. The old counselor shivered a little, and noting the cloak that lay over the back of the seat, drew it about his shoulders. "It will be five months," he muttered half aloud, "before we can tax the people for more money, and before five months are up the king and his counselors may all starve to death, even in this splendid palace! Heigh-ho! I wish the royal purse would always remain full no matter how much money I drew from it!"
The big purse, which had lain lightly on his knee, now slid off and pulled heavily upon the golden chain which the old man wore around his neck to fasten the purse to him securely. Aroused from his anxious thoughts, Tillydib lifted the purse to his lap again and was astonished to feel its weight. He opened the clasp and saw that the huge sack was actually running over with gold pieces.
"Now, where on earth did all this wealth come from?" he exclaimed, shaking his head in a puzzled way. "I'll go at once and pay some of the creditors who are waiting for me." So he ran to the royal treasury, which was a front room in the palace, and began paying everyone who presented an account. He expected presently to empty the purse, but no matter how heavily he drew upon the contents, it remained as full as in the beginning.
"It must be," thought the old man when the last bill had been paid, "that my idle wish has in some mysterious way been granted." But he did not know he owed his good fortune to the magic cloak, which he still wore.
As he was leaving the room, he met the king and Princess Fluff, who were just come from dinner; and the girl exclaimed, "Why, there is my cloak! Where did you get it, Tillydib?"
"I found it in the garden," answered the lord high pursebearer. "But take it if it is yours. And here is something to repay you for the loan of it," and he poured into her hands a heap of glittering gold.
"Oh thank you!" cried Fluff, and taking the precious cloak, she dropped the gold into it and carried it to her room. "I'll never lend it again unless it is really necessary," she said to herself. "It was very careless of Aunt Rivette to leave my fairy cloak in the garden." And then after carefully folding it and wrapping it up, she locked it in a drawer and hid the key where no one but herself could find it.