Never fear

The Roly-Rogues were so busy rioting that they did not look into the air
and discover Aunt Rivette flying over the city. So she alighted, all
unobserved, upon a balcony of the palace, just outside the chamber of
the Princess Fluff, and succeeded in entering the room.

The creatures had ransacked this apartment, as they had every other part
of the royal palace, and Fluff’s pretty dresses and ornaments were
strewn about in dreadful confusion. But the drawer in which rested the
magic cloak was still locked, and in a few moments the old woman had the
precious garment in her hands.

It was, as we know, the imitation cloak Queen Zixi had made and
exchanged for the real one; but so closely did it resemble the fairy
cloak that Aunt Rivette had no idea she was carrying a useless garment
back to her little niece and nephew. On the contrary, she thought to
herself: “Now we can quickly dispose of these monstrous rogues and drive
them back to their own country.”

Hearing some one moving about in the next room, she ran to the window
and soon was flying away with the cloak to the place where she had left
Bud and Fluff.

“Good!” cried the lord high steward, when he saw the cloak. “Now we have
nothing more to fear. Put on your cloak, your Majesty, and make the
wish.”

Bud threw the cloak over his shoulders.

“What shall I wish?” he asked.

“Let me see,” answered Tallydab. “What we want is to get rid of these
invaders. Wish them all in the kingdom of Ix.”

“Oh, no!” cried Fluff; “it would be wicked to injure Queen Zixi and her
people. Let us wish the Roly-Rogues back where they came from.”

“That would be folly!” said the dog Ruffles, with an accent of scorn.
“For they could easily return again to our city of Nole, having once
learned the way there.”

“That is true,” agreed Aunt Rivette. “The safest thing to do is to wish
them all dead.”

“But it would be an awful job to bury so many great balls,” objected
Bud. “It would keep all our people busy for a month, at least.”

“Why not wish them dead and buried?” asked Ruffles. “Then they would be
out of the way for good and all.”

“A capital idea!” responded Tallydab.

“But I haven’t seen these curious creatures yet,” said Bud; “and if I
now wish them all dead and buried, I shall never get a glimpse of one of
them. So let’s walk boldly into the city, and when they appear to
interfere with us I’ll make the wish and the Roly-Rogues will instantly
disappear.”

So the entire party returned to the city of Nole; Bud and Fluff riding
their ponies, Aunt Rivette fluttering along beside them, and the lord
high steward walking behind with his dog.

The Roly-Rogues were so much surprised to see this little party boldly
entering the streets of the city, and showing no particle of fear of
them, that they at first made no offer to molest them.

Even when Bud roared with laughter at their queer appearance, and called
them “mud-turtles” and “foot-balls,” they did not resent the insults;
for they had never heard of either a turtle or a foot-ball before.

[Illustration: “HE MADE OLD TULLYDUB, THE LORD COUNSELOR, ROCK HIM
GENTLY AS HE LAY UPON HIS BACK.”]

When the party had reached the palace and the children had dismounted,
Bud laughed yet louder; for the gigantic General Tollydob came to the
kitchen door, wearing an apron while he polished a big dish-pan, the
Roly-Rogues having made him a scullion.

[Illustration: “JIKKI WAS SCRATCHING THE BACK OF ANOTHER ROLY-ROGUE.”]

The ruler of the Roly-Rogues was suffering from a toothache, so he had
rolled himself into a ball and made old Tullydub, the lord high
counselor, rock him gently as he lay upon his back, just as one would
rock a baby’s cradle.

[Illustration: “THE LORD HIGH PURSE-BEARER WAS WAVING A FAN.”]

Jikki was scratching the back of another Roly-Rogue with a sharp
garden-rake, while Jikki’s six servants stood in a solemn row at his
back. They would do anything for Jikki, but they would not lift a finger
to serve any one else; so the old valet had to do the scratching
unaided.

These six young men had proved a great puzzle to the Roly-Rogues, for
they found it impossible to touch them or injure them in any way; so,
after several vain attempts to conquer them, they decided to leave
Jikki’s servants alone.

The lord high purse-bearer was waving a fan to keep the flies off two of
the slumbering monsters; and the lord high executioner was feeding
another Roly-Rogue with soup from a great ladle, the creature finding
much amusement in being fed in this manner.

King Bud, feeling sure of making all his enemies disappear with a wish,
found rare sport in watching his periwigged counselors thus serving
their captors; so he laughed and made fun of them until the Roly-Rogue
ruler stuck his head out and commanded the boy to run away.

“Why, you ugly rascal, I’m the King of Noland,” replied Bud; “so you’d
better show me proper respect.”

With that he picked up a good-sized pebble and threw it at the ruler. It
struck him just over his aching tooth, and with a roar of anger the
Roly-Rogue bounded toward Bud and his party.

The assault was so sudden that they had much ado to scramble out of the
way; and as soon as Bud could escape the rush of the huge ball, he
turned squarely around and shouted:

“I wish every one of the Roly-Rogues dead and buried!”

[Illustration: “THE LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER WAS FEEDING ANOTHER ROLY-ROGUE
WITH SOUP FROM A GREAT LADLE.”]

Hearing this and seeing that the king wore the magic cloak, all the high
counselors at once raised a joyful shout, and Fluff and Bud gazed upon
the Roly-Rogues expectantly, thinking that of course they would
disappear.

But Zixi’s cloak had no magic powers whatever; and now dozens of the
Roly-Rogues, aroused to anger, bounded toward Bud’s little party.

[Illustration: “THE LORD HIGH STEWARD AND HIS DOG WENT DOWN BEFORE THE
RUSH.”]

I am sure the result would have been terrible had not Aunt Rivette
suddenly come to the children’s rescue. She threw one lean arm around
Bud and the other around Fluff, and then, quickly fluttering her wings,
she flew with them to the roof of the palace, which they reached in
safety.

The lord high steward and his dog went down before the rush, and the
next moment old Tallydab was crying loudly for mercy, while Ruffles
limped away to a safe spot beneath a bench under an apple-tree, howling
at every step and shouting angry epithets at the Roly-Rogues.

“I wonder what’s the matter with the cloak,” gasped Bud. “The old
thing’s a fraud; it didn’t work.”

“Something went wrong, that’s certain,” replied Fluff. “You’re sure you
hadn’t wished before, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m sure,” said Bud.

“Perhaps,” said Aunt Rivette, “the fairies have no power over these
horrible creatures.”

“That must be it, of course,” said the princess. “But what shall we do
now? Our country is entirely conquered by these monsters; so it isn’t a
safe place for us to stay in.”

“I believe I can carry you anywhere you’d like to go,” said Aunt
Rivette. “You’re not so very heavy.”

[Illustration: “‘I’LL SOON CARRY YOU OVER THE MOUNTAIN AND THE RIVER
INTO THE KINGDOM OF IX.’”]

“Suppose we go to Queen Zixi, and ask her to protect us?” the princess
suggested.

“That’s all right, if she doesn’t bear us a grudge. You know we knocked
out her whole army,” remarked Bud.

“Quavo the minstrel says she is very beautiful, and kind to her people,”
said the girl.

“Well, there’s no one else we can trust,” Bud answered gloomily; “so we
may as well try Zixi. But if you drop either of us on the way, Aunt
Rivette, I’ll have to call in the lord high executioner.”

“Never fear,” replied the old woman. “If I drop you, you’ll never know
what has happened. So each one of you put an arm around my neck, and
cling tight, and I’ll soon carry you over the mountain and the river
into the kingdom of Ix.”

Bud and Fluff were surprised at the magnificence of the city of Ix. The
witch-queen had reigned there so many centuries that she found plenty of
time to carry out her ideas; and the gardens, shrubbery, and buildings
were beautifully planned and cared for.

The splendid palace of the queen was in the center of a delightful park,
with white marble walks leading up to the front door.

Aunt Rivette landed the children at the entrance to this royal park, and
they walked slowly toward the palace, admiring the gleaming white
statues, the fountains and flowers, as they went.

It was beginning to grow dusk, and the lights were gleaming in the
palace window when they reached it. Dozens of liveried servants were
standing near the entrance, and some of these escorted the strangers
with much courtesy to a reception room. There a gray-haired master of
ceremonies met them and asked in what way he might serve them.

This politeness almost took Bud’s breath away, for he had considered
Queen Zixi in the light of an enemy rather than a friend; but he decided
not to sail under false colors, so he drew himself up in royal fashion
and answered:

“I am King Bud of Noland, and this is my sister, Princess Fluff, and my
Aunt Rivette. My kingdom has been conquered by a horde of monsters, and
I have come to the Queen of Ix to ask her assistance.”

The master of ceremonies bowed low and said:

“I’m sure Queen Zixi will be glad to assist your Majesty. Permit me to
escort you to rooms, that you may prepare for an interview with her as
soon a she can receive you.”

So they were led to luxurious chambers, and were supplied with perfumed
baths and clean raiment, which proved very refreshing after their
tedious journey through the air.

It was now evening; and when they were ushered into the queen’s
reception-room the palace was brilliantly lighted.

Zixi, since her great disappointment in the lilac-grove, had decided
that her longing to behold a beautiful reflection in her mirror was both
impossible and foolish; so she had driven the desire from her heart and
devoted herself to ruling her kingdom wisely, as she had ruled before
the idea of stealing the magic cloak had taken possession of her. And
when her mind was in normal condition the witch-queen was very sweet and
agreeable in disposition.

So Queen Zixi greeted Bud and his sister and aunt with great kindness,
kissing Fluff affectionately upon her cheek and giving her own hand to
Bud to kiss.

It is not strange that the children considered her the most beautiful
person they had ever beheld; and to them she was as gentle as beautiful,
listening with much interest to their tale of the invasion of the
Roly-Rogues, and promising to assist them by every means in her power.

This made Bud somewhat ashamed of his past enmity; so he said bluntly:
“I am sorry we defeated your army and made them run.”

[Illustration: “QUEEN ZIXI GREETED BUD AND HIS SISTER AND AUNT WITH
GREAT KINDNESS.”]

“Why, that was the only thing you could do, when I had invaded your
dominion,” answered Zixi. “I admit that you were in the right, and that
I deserved my defeat.”

“But why did you try to conquer us?” asked Fluff.

“Because I wanted to secure the magic cloak, of which I had heard so
much,” returned the queen, frankly.

“Oh!” said the girl.

“But, of course, you understand that if I had known the magic cloak
could not grant any more wishes, I would not have been so eager to
secure it,” continued Zixi.

“No,” said Bud; “the old thing won’t work any more; and we nearly got
captured by the Roly-Rogues before we found it out.”

“Oh, have you the cloak again?” asked Zixi, with a look of astonishment.

“Yes, indeed,” returned the princess; “it was locked up in my drawer,
and Aunt Rivette managed to get it for me before the Roly-Rogues could
find it.”

“Locked in your drawer?” repeated the witch-queen, musingly. “Then, I am
sorry to say, you have not the fairy cloak at all, but the imitation
one.”

“What do you mean?” asked Fluff, greatly surprised.

“Why, I must make a confession,” said Zixi, with a laugh. “I tried many
ways to steal your magic cloak. First, I came to Nole as ‘Miss Trust.’
Do you remember?”

“Oh, yes!” cried Fluff; “and I mistrusted you from the first.”

“And then I sent my army to capture the cloak. But, when both of these
plans failed, I disguised myself as the girl Adlena.”

“Adlena!” exclaimed the princess. “Why, I’ve often wondered what became
of my maid Adlena, and why she left me so suddenly and mysteriously.”

“Well, she exchanged an imitation cloak for the one the fairies had
given you,” said Zixi, with a smile. “And then she ran away with the
precious garment, leaving in your drawer a cloak that resembled the
magic garment but had no magical charms.”

“How dreadful!” said Fluff.

“But it did me no good,” went on the queen, sadly; “for when I made a
wish the cloak could not grant it.”

“Because it was stolen!” cried the girl, eagerly. “The fairy who gave it
to me said that if the cloak was stolen it would never grant a wish to
the thief.”

“Oh,” said Zixi, astonished, “I did not know that.”

“Of course not,” Fluff replied, with a rather triumphant smile. “But if
you had only come to me and told me frankly that you wanted to use the
cloak, I would gladly have lent it to you, and then you could have had
your wish.”

“Well, well!” said Zixi, much provoked with herself. “To think I have
been so wicked all for nothing, when I might have succeeded without the
least trouble had I frankly asked for what I wanted!”

“But—see here!” said Bud, beginning to understand the tangle of events;
“I must have worn the imitation cloak when I made my wish, and that was
the reason that my wish didn’t come true.”

“To be sure,” rejoined Fluff. “And so it is nothing but the imitation
cloak we have brought here.”

“No wonder it would not destroy and bury the Roly-Rogues!” declared the
boy, sulkily. “But if this is the imitation, where, then, is the real
magic cloak?”

“Why, I believe I left it in the lilac-grove,” replied Zixi.

“Then we must find it at once,” said Bud; “for only by its aid can we
get rid of those Roly-Rogues.”

“And afterward I will gladly lend it to you also; I promise now to lend
it to you,” said Fluff, turning to the queen; “and your wish will be
fulfilled, after all—whatever it may be.”

[Illustration: “‘BECAUSE IT WAS STOLEN!’ CRIED THE GIRL, EAGERLY.”]

This expression of kindness and good will brought great joy to Zixi, and
she seized the generous child in her arms and kissed her with real
gratitude.

“We will start for the lilac-grove to-morrow morning,” she exclaimed
delightedly; “and before night both King Bud and I will have our wishes
fulfilled!”

Then the witch-queen led them to her royal banquet-hall, where a most
delightful dinner was served. And all the courtiers and officers of Zixi
bowed low, first before the King of Noland and then before his sweet
little sister, and promised them the friendship of the entire kingdom of
Ix.

Quavo the wandering minstrel chanced to be present that evening, and he
sang a complimentary song about King Bud; and a wonderful song about the
“Flying Lady,” meaning Aunt Rivette; and a beautiful song about the
lovely Princess Fluff.

So every one was happy and contented, as they all looked forward to the
morrow to regain the magic cloak, and by its means to bring an end to
all their worries.