Every eye was now fixed upon the exquisite form of the fairy queen, which shed a glorious radiance throughout the room and filled every heart with an awe and admiration not unmingled with fear. "The magic cloak was woven by my band," said the fairy, speaking so distinctly that all could hear the words, "and our object was to bring relief to suffering mortals, not to add to their worries. Some good the cloak has accomplished, I am sure, but also has it been used foolishly and to no serious purpose. Therefore I, who gave the cloak, shall now take it away. The good that has been done shall remain, but the foolish wishes granted shall now be canceled." With these words, she turned and lightly lifted the shimmering magic garment from the lap of the princess.

"One moment, please!" cried Bud eagerly. "Cannot I have my wish? I waited until I could wish wisely, you know, and then the cloak wouldn't work."

With a smile, Lulea threw the cloak over the boy's shoulders. "Wish!" said she.

"I wish," announced Bud gravely, "that I shall become the best king that Noland has ever had!"

"Your wish is granted," returned the fairy sweetly, "and it shall be the last wish fulfilled through the magic cloak."

But now Zixi rushed forward and threw herself upon her knees before the fairy. "Oh, your Majesty -- " she began eagerly, but Lulea instantly silenced her with an abrupt gesture.

"Plead not to me, Queen of Ix!" said the dainty immortal, drawing back from Zixi's prostrate form. "You know that we fairies do not approve of witchcraft. However long your arts may permit you to live, you must always beware a mirror!"

Zixi gave a sob and buried her pretty face in her hands, and it was Fluff whose tender heart prompted her to raise the witch-queen and try to comfort her. For a moment all present looked at Zixi. When their eyes again sought the form of the fairy, Lulea had vanished, and with her disappeared forever from Noland the magic cloak.

Some important changes had been wrought through the visit of the fairy. Jikki's six servants were gone, to the old valet's great delight. The ten-foot general had shrunken to six feet in height, Lulea having generously refrained from reducing old Tollydob to his former short stature. Ruffles, to the grief of the lord high steward, could no longer talk, but Tallydab comforted himself with the knowledge that his dog could at least understand every word addressed to him. The lord high executioner found he could no longer reach farther than other men, but the royal purse of old Tillydib remained ever filled, which assured the future prosperity of the kingdom of Noland.

As for Zixi, she soon became reconciled to her fate and returned to Ix to govern her country with her former liberality and justice.

The last wish granted by the magic cloak was doubtless the most beneficial and far-reaching of all, for King Bud ruled many years with exceeding wisdom and gentleness and was greatly beloved by each and every one of his admiring subjects.

The cheerfulness and sweet disposition of Princess Fluff became renowned throughout the world, and when she grew to womanhood, many brave and handsome princes from other countries came to Nole to sue for her heart and hand. One of these she married, and reigned as queen of a great nation in after years, winning quite as much love and respect from her people as his loyal subjects bestowed upon her famous brother, King Bud of Noland.

 

THE END