The Proclamation

Rolie Polie could not understand why the Toy people cheered, and he
wondered at their hasty departure. Then he crawled out from behind the
bags and went to the door of the mill. There the returning Toy people
found him, his clothes powdered white with barley meal and his face
full of wonderment.

Well, the end of the matter was just this: Rolie Polie, astride his
little donkey and loaded down with garlands of roses, was carried off
to the Castle. By his side walked the Miller, now wearing his best
clothes, and as happy a little body as there was in all the town. {122}

On the way the people told him of what had happened, and how, when the
gates were opened, the water ran out from the lake and made the river
so shallow, that the first thing the Buccaneers knew, the _Black Rover_
stranded high and dry on a gravelly sand bar, with no possible chance
to escape capture.

“But,” interrupted one of the Toy people, “Buccaneers are clever ones
when it comes to getting out of a tight place, and it did not take them
long to climb over the side of their ship and run for the woods.”

“The four rogues had good legs for running, too,” said another of the
Toy people.

“Had any harm come to Queen Helen?” asked the Miller of Dee.

“Oh no,” answered one of his companions. “You see the _Royal Yacht_
grounded at the mouth of the river, and King Tommy jumped quickly over
the side into the shallow water and was the first to reach the _Black
Rover_. He found Queen Helen tied to the mast with a rope. The Queen
acted bravely, and the Buccaneers, seeing that she was no cry baby, did
not treat her roughly; for although they had tied her to the mast, the
ropes were not tight enough to really hurt.”

“Buccaneers always treat brave captives that way,” said another of the
Toy people. “It is only the scarey ones that they handle roughly.”

“Probably Queen Helen couldn’t help being a little frightened though,”
said the Barley Miller.

“But perhaps she bit her lip and did not show one single particle of it
to the Buccaneers,” said Rolie Polie. “That would be just like Helen.”
{123}

“Yes,” said one of the Toy people, “I think she was somewhat
frightened, because that would be enough to scare any Queen; and
when Tommy cut her bonds and set her free, she looked so glad and so
excited, that I think she would have cried if there had not been so
many people about.”

“When the gates were closed and the lake began to fill, you should have
seen the people on the sand bar run!” said a Toy man who was walking by
the donkey; and then he laughed long and heartily. “Why, in a jiffy the
water was up to their ankles, and I think it would have soon been to
their knees had they not waded to the shore, or hastily clambered over
the side of the _Black Rover_.”

“That was a fine race the two boats had back to the landing pier,”
said another Toy man. “The pirate ship is a fast boat, but I think the
_Royal Yacht_ is faster, and I don’t believe the _Black Rover_ could
have beaten but for being so skilfully handled. Tommy certainly knows
how to get speed out of a boat.”

When Rolie Polie came into the presence of the King, and the story was
told of how everything had happened, King Tommy said: “Rolie Polie, you
shall have a fine reward for this; three times your tricks have saved
us sorrow. I am going to give you a medal and make you Captain of my
Royal Guards. Go now and change this clown’s dress for a new uniform.”

“Your Highness,” said Mr. Poodle, after Rolie Polie had thanked the
King and departed, “I think the Miller of Dee also deserves a reward,
for, from what I hear, he has acted most nobly; taking blame when he
thought that it would save Rolie Polie, and as graciously according
credit when {124} he found the opening of the gates had brought honor
and the praise of his fellow Toy people.”

“That is true,” said the King. “I will make the Miller of Dee my first
assistant Prime Minister.”

[Illustration: The Herald.]

The little Miller thanked the King, then laughed and said: “I think the
place for me is in the mill, simply grinding my barley corns.”

Mr. Poodle then told King Tommy that a good Miller was a very handy
fellow to have in the Kingdom, especially one who had something more
beneath his cap than the dust upon his hair, as without doubt this one
had. {125}

Tommy felt that there might be some truth in what the toymaker said,
but he told Mr. Poodle he thought that such a noble deed certainly
deserved a reward.

“That is true,” replied Mr. Poodle; “and now I would suggest that, as
a reward to the Miller, you make this a holiday, to be observed every
year and to be called the Miller’s Holiday.”

Tommy said that would be fine, and immediately issuing the order,
Heralds were soon proclaiming it throughout the city.

The Toy people shouted and cheered at these words of the Heralds, as
they were all fond of holidays, and so thought the King had found a
fine way to reward their friend, the good Miller of Dee.

As for the Miller, he felt very much embarrassed, but at last found
words to thank the King, and then started off home to talk it all over
with his neighbors. A big man the Miller was in his neighbors’ eyes
now, you may be sure; all were glad enough to rub shoulders with him,
and no one minded the white barley dust on his clothes, I can tell you,
which was very nice for the little Miller.

Meanwhile the three Buccaneers, led by Long Jim, the crafty courtier,
made their way back to Grumbletown. Their clothes had been badly torn
by the wild scramble through the bushes; while brambles and briars had
made sad havoc with their faces, so that altogether it was four sorry,
dilapidated looking specimens that now appeared before King Red Beard.

“Blunderheads!” That is what Red Beard called Long Jim and the three
Buccaneers, not once but a dozen times. Then he called them “noodle
skulls,” and, last of all, he {126} called them “four big cowardly
babies,” which certainly was a hard name to give, even to wicked
Buccaneers.

But, by and by, when Red Beard began to quiet down, he said: “Well, you
have now failed three times, but we can’t allow that boy and girl to
rule in Toyville.” Then ordering his spies to return to Toyville, he
set about the making of new plans.

Thinking there was now nothing to fear from an attack by the army of
Grumbletown, the Toyville soldiers were ordered to return from the
hills, and already the sound of rumbling wheels in the streets, told
how promptly this order had been obeyed by the Commanding General.

“We have much to make us thankful,” said the Mayor to one of his
councillors. “It certainly would have been a sad occurrence had the
capture of the Queen resulted in her being carried away to Grumbletown.
I think the occasion demands a celebration, and I should suggest that
{130} we at once prepare a big party to take place on the lawns and in
the pavilions of the Palace gardens.”

“A splendid suggestion,” cried the councillors with one accord. “Let us
lose no time in getting under way the arrangements.”

The gardens, brilliant with pots of flowering shrubs and beds of
blossoming plants, their broad stretches of lawn bordered by hedges of
box, and interlaced with white pebbled walks, formed an ideal place for
the holding of a social gathering of this nature.

When to the natural beauty of the gardens there was added the beauty of
the handsome dresses and uniforms worn by the guests, the scene thus
presented proved of untold loveliness.

In one of the pavilions sat an orchestra which rendered the most
delightful music imaginable; in another pavilion were many little
tables where were served refreshments of the daintiest confections; in
a third pavilion the highly polished and waxed floor was given over to
dancing.

Under such delightful conditions, the King and Queen, as well as the
Lords and Ladies, soon forgot their recent fears, and with Rolie Polie
in his new uniform standing guard at the front gate, one and all felt
perfectly safe.

Outside the walls of the Castle and gardens, the streets of the city
were quiet and almost deserted, for the Toy people had repaired to the
park, where they, too, were celebrating with all manner of jolly games
and sports.

Meanwhile, King Red Beard had not been idle, and by the time his spies
returned to tell how matters were going in Toyville, he had two hundred
picked ruffians ready to make a last attempt to capture the King and
Queen. {131}

How Red Beard did laugh when his spies told him of the celebration that
was being held in Toyville. “Ha, ha, ha,” said he, “those Toy people
think they have seen the last of old Red Beard, do they? Well, we will
soon show them their mistake.”

After that it wasn’t long before the Grumbletown King and his two
hundred hardy rascals had travelled through the secret passage of the
hills and were in the quiet, deserted streets of Toyville.

When the company came near the Castle and could hear the sweet strains
of music and the sound of happy laughter, King Red Beard sent Long Jim
on ahead to spy how the land lay.

Presently, Long Jim returned. He had taken a peek here and there, and
told Red Beard that there was only one soldier standing guard at the
front gate. “And your Majesty,” said he, “I think the soldier is that
stupid clown, Rolie Polie, now dressed in the uniform of the King’s
Guard.”

Red Beard gave a wild laugh when he heard what Long Jim had to say.
“Forward, march!” he cried; “we can easily fool that simpleton.” Then
away they all went, and in two jiffies Red Beard was tapping at the
front gate and parleying courteously through the wicket with Rolie
Polie.

Now, the kernel to the nut Red Beard tried to crack on Rolie Polie’s
skull, was just this: he wanted to have the gates opened so he and
his two hundred tatterdemalion followers could enter the gardens and
capture all the people.

Red Beard was good at arguing and gave all manner of reasons, but none
of these availed him in the least, for {132} Rolie Polie, now very
proud of being a King’s Guard, would never think of doing anything
untrue to his trust.

At the last, when Red Beard was about ready to give up trying trickery
and guile, and almost on the point of ordering his men to make an
assault, a brilliant idea came jumping into the brain of Rolie Polie.
“Oh, ho,” thought he, “I know King Tommy would like to have me capture
this old Red Beard, and here, the very first thing, is my chance. I
will just open the gate and let them inside the walls, then I will jump
outside, close and lock the gate, and there I shall have the whole
company safe and sound where they can’t get away.”

No sooner did this clever idea enter the brain of Rolie Polie, than the
little guard was unlocking the gate and throwing it wide open. Then
step, step, step, every man going softly on tiptoe, through the gate
went Red Beard followed by his two hundred ragamuffin ruffians.

“Ha, ha, ha,” laughed Rolie Polie, as he turned the key in the lock,
“that is the time I was too clever for Red Beard!”

“Ha, ha, ha,” laughed Red Beard, “did anyone ever see a body so stupid
as that Rolie Polie? Here I have King Tommy and Queen Helen, and all
the Lords and Ladies at my mercy. It is a fine company of captives I
will get to put in chains and march as slaves to Grumbletown.”

With everyone enjoying such a good time in the gardens, it would not
have been surprising if the King had forgotten his guard at the gate.
This he did not do, however, and at the moment when Red Beard and his
men were entering, a page was being dispatched for Rolie Polie.

Thus, it happened then, that when the page was about to enter the court
yard, he saw it thronged with ruffians.

“We are betrayed!” he cried as he ran hurrying back to the gardens.
“The gates have been opened and the enemy is now within the walls!”
{136}

At this cry, the Ladies turned pale with fright and the Nobles sought
hastily for the swords they had laid aside at the beginning of the
dance. “Every man be brave!” shouted the King. “We must rally to the
defence of the Ladies! Let King Red Beard and his ruffians come, they
will find us ready!”

But for all King Tommy spoke so bravely, he was not at all deceived,
and realized quite the same, as did the Mayor and some others, that
any defence would prove practically useless, and at best do no more
than prolong an engagement, which in the end could result only in their
defeat and capture.

To reach the gardens from the court yard, it was necessary to go half
way around, or else right through the Castle; the Grumbletown company,
therefore, divided; one party going one way, the other going another
way.

As has been told, Red Beard and his followers, when once within the
walls of the Castle, were in high glee. “We will make a fine big
capture of prisoners to-day, my hearties,” said the King. “When this
fine boy and girl are marching to Grumbletown dragging their heavy
chains along the highway, they will wish that that old toy maker, Peter
Poodle, had never brought them on a visit to Toyville. What ho, my
brave followers, do I speak the truth?”

“Aye, aye, aye!” answered the band, barely above a whisper, not wishing
to be heard by the Toy people.

“Aye,” said Red Beard, “we will make a fine capture of prisoners and
a big haul of treasure. Every man must fill his pockets with gold and
silver and jewels, all he can carry; we will loot the whole Castle.
That will be a haul worth making; what ho, my hearties?” {137}

“Aye, aye, aye!” replied the band.

“We must make no noise,” said Red Beard. “Every man creep along
stealthily, take them by surprise. I say that’s the way to make a good
capture.”

[Illustration: The Page.]

While Red Beard was talking and creeping along so slowly, King Tommy
would have had time to make new plans for defence, had any chance
existed of such plans proving successful. “There is nothing for us to
do but depend upon our swords,” said he to Mr. Poodle. {138}

“Yes,” replied Mr. Poodle, “and our swords are far too few to withstand
an onslaught from so many big burly ruffians. I was going to suggest
that we make a dash for the Castle and bar the doors. Our chances would
then be better. But judging from the sounds, I fear that the Castle is
already occupied.”

Meanwhile, much excitement prevailed among all the Ladies who by now
were occupying one of the pavilions on the far side of the lawn.
Tommy attributed this excitement to a fear which the circumstances
rendered only natural. But now the excitement seemed to be from some
other cause, and presently the King was surprised to see Queen Helen,
accompanied by the Royal Ladies, come hurrying across the lawn.

“O, Tommy,” said the Queen, “an old lady, an old servant, I think, has
just told me she knows of a secret passage underground, through which
we can escape! come quickly!”

The old dame, a little lady wearing a tall peaked cap, had followed
immediately after the Queen. “Yes, your Majesty, I can show you the
way; come with me,” she said.

That funny little twinkle went dancing about in Mr. Poodle’s eyes
again, when he saw the old dame. There was a twinkle in her eyes, too;
but though she tipped him a courtsey and he bowed politely, neither
spoke even one word to the other.

On the lawn, midway between where the King and his men had assembled,
and the pavilion from which the Queen had just come, there foamed a
beautiful fountain, made in the manner of a great marble basin. On
the rim of the basin there was the green head of a great bronze {139}
fish, apparently just rising from out the water. On the back of the
fish sat a chubby little boy, sculptured so faithfully in marble as
almost to seem alive.

The little old dame hurriedly led the King and Queen, accompanied by
all the company, straight towards the great head of the fish. Putting
forth her hand, she three times wiggled the big toe of the chubby boy;
at the third wiggle the mouth of the fish opened, revealing a long
flight of stairs running down under the fountain. The next minute, the
little old dame stepped into this mouth and onto the stairs, being
quickly followed by all the others. The King was the last to enter. As
he did so, he turned for one look at the Castle, and saw the infuriated
Red Beard and his followers entering the gardens. Then the jaws of the
fish closed and the passage became sealed.

The way was now pitch dark. Overhead could be heard the tumbling waters
of the fountain. A scarey sound that seemed too, but not half so scarey
as the terrible wild cry of the baffled Red Beard, which could be heard
even through the thick walls of marble.

King Tommy could hear the step, step, step, of those ahead of him and
the muffled drone of their voices, as they spoke words of encouragement
to one another. “Where are we?” he wondered. Then his feet no longer
kept going down when he stepped, but travelled on a level pavement,
and he knew that the end of the stairs had been reached. Minute after
minute passed, and still the passage continued. Would its end never be
reached? Could it be possible the little old dame was a Grumbletown
spy and had deceived them? Did the way lead to some trap? With these
thoughts chasing through his mind, {140} the King came almost to the
point of wishing that the company had remained in the garden.

The next moment, however, he realized that almost any fate would be
better than that which would have befallen them at the hands of King
Red Beard and his ruffians. Then he remembered the look in the old
dame’s eyes, when she had bid them hurry, and he thought, “I won’t
believe any ill of her before it happens. She looked kind and honest,
and I am sure in the end everything will come out all right.”

Those were certainly the kind of thoughts a King should have; and the
moment Tommy let the bright sunshine of hope enter his mind and travel
along with him for wayfellow, just that very moment he came to a turn
in the path, and not a hundred feet beyond saw the bright sunshine of
day streaming into a broad space at what appeared to be the end of the
passage.

Crystal lights lit the passage, and seemed to be glowing and glimmering
through a great globe set in the black earth above their heads. At
first, no one could understand the meaning of this, but presently the
doubt was dispelled by the little old dame who led the way up a flight
of stairs cut in the solid rock, and out through an opening into a
little park, scarcely a stone’s throw from the Castle gates.

An expression of surprise now escaped from the lips of everyone, for
upon looking back, it was found that the passage had led right in under
a great crystal bowl, full to {144} the brim of tumbling, tossing,
sunkissed water. Yes, the secret passage had begun at one fountain and
ended at another; but while the basin of the first was all marble, that
of the second was all of glass, and although the entrance had been
through the mouth of a great green fish, the exit led through the mouth
of a great green frog.

Everybody now hurried and hid behind the vases and pots and shrubs
scattered through the park, not knowing how soon they might be
discovered by Red Beard. In this hurry the King held tightly to the
hand of the Queen, and close upon their heels followed Mr. Poodle.
The sun, slowly sinking, seemed now quite close to the hills of
Troubleland, and the afternoon was drawing towards evening.

“I see no sign of the Grumbletown people,” said the King. “Do you think
they have departed, Mr. Poodle? Look, Rolie Polie is standing guard at
the gate. Perhaps Red Beard is robbing the Castle. I wish we could get
word to the army.”

Meanwhile, finding no immediate danger threatening them, the Toy
people, one after another gathered about their King. Some were in favor
of arresting Rolie Polie, and putting him in irons for opening the
gates and betraying the Castle. Others counselled against this.

Although King Tommy could not understand why Rolie Polie had opened
the gates, nevertheless he felt sure the little clown had not betrayed
his trust, and that in the end a reason would be found justifying the
action. He was, therefore, glad to hear the little old lady speak,
cautioning the Toy people not to act rashly. Then, turning to the King,
she said: “Not knowing whether Red {145} Beard is within or outside
the Castle walls, it seems unwise to dispatch a messenger for the
soldiers and risk his being made captive. Why not go and speak a word
or two with yonder guard?”

King Tommy appreciated this advice; and drawing his sword, he stepped
forth boldly towards the little man at the gate.

Rolie Polie, hearing footsteps, looked about and saw the King.

“Your Majesty,” he cried, his face full of pride, his eyes dancing
with happiness, “come quickly and help guard the gate; I have the
Grumbletown King and all of his ruffians captive in the Castle. Am I
not a fine soldier?”

These words were spoken so suddenly that for a moment the King failed
to grasp their meaning. Then, all at once, it came to him why Rolie
Polie had opened the gates, and he saw that the little guard had indeed
laid a clever trap, in which, without doubt, were now captive King Red
Beard and all of his Grumbletown followers.

“Hurrah!” he cried, turning and waving his sword to Mr. Poodle and
the others. “Rolie Polie has captured the Grumbletown ruffians, come
quickly and help hold the gate.”

A glad shout greeted this cry from the King, as with one accord the
little company, each man drawing his sword, made a rush to reinforce
the clever and brave guard, Rolie Polie.

Meanwhile, much had happened within the walls of the Castle, for Red
Beard and his followers had entered the gardens at the exact moment
when King Tommy was stepping into the mouth of the fish. {146}

“Look, my men! look!” cried Red Beard, his face white with fright, his
hair standing on end. “The Green Fish of the Fountain has swallowed
all the Toy people. It is some mighty magician! Oh, why did we ever
come into this city! why did we ever leave peaceful Grumbletown!” Then,
unable longer to make his trembling legs support him, Red Beard fell
fainting with fright.

The faces of his followers were as white as their King’s, save only a
few, who were too far behind to see what had happened.

These few, when they reached the garden and found their fellows almost
fainting and Red Beard lying like one dead, upon the ground, knew not
what to do, until presently one of them, seeing the King yet breathing,
cried: “We must get water; somebody bring water to the King!”

This request was more easily asked than answered, as nowhere near at
hand could be found anything in which to carry the water. But the
ruffians were not long without a way for solving that difficulty, and
quick as a wink they had Red Beard in their arms, and the next minute
were tumbling him heels over head into the fountain.

It didn’t take long for that ducking to make the Grumbletown King open
his eyes. “Where am I? Where am I?” he cried, floundering about in the
basin and blowing the water out of his nose and mouth. Then, he looked
up and saw the green fish. “Help! help! help!” he called. “The Fish has
me! Save me from the Fish!” and with one big effort he reached the rim
of the basin, clambered over, and without once turning to look back, he
ran with all possible speed through the garden towards the Castle gate,
followed by his whole band. {147}

But now the gate was locked, and outside could be heard the cheering
Toy people.

“Open the gate, little Guard! Open the gate!” cried the shivering,
shaking Red Beard. “Open the gate little Guard! Open it quickly! The
Green Fish is after us! Open the gate, and we will lay down our swords
and pistols and go back to Grumbletown! Open the gate, little Guard,
and never again will we come to Toyville! Save us from the Green Fish!”

The jolly, laughing eyes of the little old lady twinkled at Mr. Poodle.
“King Tommy may open the gates without any fear now,” she said. “Red
Beard and his fellows are so frightened at the Green Fish that they
will never again venture near Toyville.”

Mr. Poodle quickly repeated this message to the King, and as a result,
it was not long before the Grumbletown ruffians, led by their King, had
laid their swords and guns on the lawn, and were marching out of the
gates; a crestfallen and woebegone looking fellowship they were, too,
and no mistake.

Rolie Polie and one of the Royal Guards accompanied them to the hills.
Every little while Red Beard looked back over his shoulder, fearing
constantly that he was being followed by the Green Fish. At the foot
of the hills they came upon men who were awaiting them with horses
and donkeys. Among the animals, Rolie Polie found Coal Black and Snow
White, who neighed with pleasure at seeing their old comrade. Rolie
Polie now bade good day to Red Beard, who was yet too frightened to
answer, and leading Coal Black while his companion led Snow White, took
the road back to Toyville. {148}

“That is a fine soldier, your Majesty,” said the little dame to the
King, as Rolie Polie came prancing into the court yard upon his return
from the hills. “Such a fine and clever little soldier could well fill
a higher station than that of Royal Guard. Not that I want to say a
Royal Guard is not a fine position, for it is quite true, few are
finer. But there are not many guards could capture, single handed,
such a bold ruffian as Red Beard, to say nothing of his two hundred
followers.”

“You are right,” replied the King; “and I have a reward for him which I
think will prove a big suprise.”

And a suprise it certainly was, as we shall soon see.