• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Frontispiece
 Title Page
 List of Illustrations
 The coming of the king
 The coming of the king: Part 2
 Back Cover
 Spine






Group Title: coming of the King
Title: The coming of the King
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086847/00001
 Material Information
Title: The coming of the King
Physical Description: 4, 160 p. : ill. ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Scott, Florence M. S ( Florence Mary Seymour )
Railton, Fanny ( Illustrator )
Hodge, Alma ( Author )
J. M. Dent & Co ( Publisher )
Turnbull & Spears ( Printer )
Publisher: J. M. Dent and Co.
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: Turnbull and Spears
Publication Date: 1898
 Subjects
Subject: Boys -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fairies -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Tales -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Children -- Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Conduct of life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Christian life -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Voyages, Imaginary -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Imaginary places -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Adventure and adventurers -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Human-animal relationships -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Attitude change -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Faith -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Love -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Empathy -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Gratitude -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Marine animals -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Lobsters -- Behavior -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Sea urchins -- Behavior -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Crabs -- Behavior -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Octopuses -- Behavior -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Birds -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Gnomes -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Ocean -- Juvenile fiction   ( lcsh )
Fantasy literature -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Allegories -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Moral tales -- 1898   ( local )
Imaginary voyages -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Fables -- 1898   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1898
Genre: Fantasy literature   ( rbgenr )
Allegories   ( rbgenr )
Moral tales   ( local )
Imaginary voyages   ( rbgenr )
Juvenile literature   ( rbgenr )
Fables   ( rbgenr )
novel   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by F.M. Scott and Alma Hodge ; illustrated by Fanny Railton.
General Note: Pictorial front cover and spine.
General Note: Some illustrations signed by Fanny Railton.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086847
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002237213
notis - ALH7697
oclc - 20241764

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Front Matter
    Half Title
        Half Title
    Frontispiece
        Frontispiece
    Title Page
        Title Page
    List of Illustrations
        List of Illustrations
    The coming of the king
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
    The coming of the king: Part 2
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
    Spine
        Spine
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List of Illustrations

Phil swung on the lower branches of a wide-spreading
beech Frontispiece
PAGE
Headpiece to Part I.
An infuriated lobster 5
A lady-like crab 7
Poured it over the fast fainting anemone 37
Headpiece to Part II. z
I have been waked several times out of my beauty sleep 55
The cup 79
The proud and graceful peacocks 82
Then a lark soared into the vault of heaven 93
Headpiece to Part III. 95
Boddikins fell straight into Phil's lap 99
In his hand he held a large whip o
The band of workers wending their way to the great hall 151



















T had been a very hot day, but as the sun sank
lower in the heavens to the western horizon
where sea and sky met in a gentle haze, a soft
breeze sprang up along the coast and fanned
little Phil's face like a loving kiss of welcome.
He had wandered very far that day, he had
toiled up steep grassy hills, where the long
stretches of green had been unbroken, except
by the scattered grey boulders, which had been
brought down by winter torrents from the
barren heights, and been left there by the
waters when they slowly subsided under the
kindly influence of the spring sun, or the more
boisterous kisses of the winds of March. Then
A






The Coming of the King


he had left the soft grass, and clambered over
stones and rocks which felt scorching beneath
his little bare feet; he had fallen more than
once and had lain quietly crying with the pain
of his bruised hands, but he had never glanced
back, only looked steadily upwards and onwards
at the heights above him, and at last he had.
reached the top.
He had stopped to draw a long breath, and
then thrown himself down contentedly under
the shadow of a great rock which sheltered
him from the noontide heat. Here he had slept
in a blessed forgetfulness of his weary limbs
and blistered feet. When he had waked he
had gone on his way uncomplaining, indeed his
face had lightened with joy.
It surely must be easier going down the
hill," he thought, and at first all had seemed
well, but soon the track-for there was no path
-had plunged into the depths of a pine forest.
The shade had seemed cool and grateful after
the glare of the sun on the grey rocks, and Phil
had felt at first a pure delight in sinking his






The Coming of the King


feet in the soft moss, instead of picking his
way carefully over the rough stones, but as he
had gone on, the track had been hard to
follow in the darkness. He had lost his way
more than once, and had only found it again
after much searching when he was hot and
tired. As he had dived deeper and deeper
into the forest, the heat had grown more
oppressive, and the gloom heavier, only just
when he felt that he could go no further the
light had gleamed clearly through the tall
straight stems of the pine-trees, and he had
soon found himself looking across a wide ex-
panse of water at the setting sun, with the
sea-breeze fanning his hot brow and flushed
cheeks.
There were no waves upon the surface, or
breaking against the rocks where the mountain
seemed to lose itself in the sea, as if its founda-
tions were laid down deep under the blue
water. But though no waves broke in creamy
foam, the sea was throbbing like a living
creature.






4 The Coming of the King

"This is a very funny pond," thought Phil,
who had never before seen the sea; "I think
I must rest a little before I go any further, and
what a pretty path there is for me to walk on."
He looked wistfully at the crimson and gold
path which led straight from his feet to the
setting sun; "I must bathe my feet before I
let them touch it."
He nestled himself against a rock, and dipped
his ankles in the lovely water, which broke into
a hundred different new sparkles of lights as he
moved to and fro his tired limbs. Below the
surface myriads of living creatures were darting
about, as if intent upon important business, but
the water was deep, and Phil could not under-
stand what they were doing.
Their strange shapes and quick movements
delighted him, but his heart felt heavy, he
knew not why.
"I knew it! I knew it!" cried a voice at
his side. "They have moved my ticket again.
It is disgraceful! However, someone shall
suffer for it."






The Coming of the King


And with a great splash and a rush, a large
lobster darted from a cleft in the rock at Phil's
side, and threw himself into the water.



















And so I have come to my journey's end,
Phil thought, a sudden great peace filling his
heart, as he let himself down into the sea.
The water lost the dancing sparkles which






The Coming of the King


had dazzled Phil's eyes when they broke round
his feet in a hundred points of brightness, but
as he sank through its cool greenness a sub-
dued radiance illuminated the many strange
figures floating round him, and the white, firm
sand at the bottom, on which his feet soon
rested.
He found himself in the centre of a broad,
white path stretching westward, following under
the sea the glittering road from the shore to
the sun; on each side untidy heaps of sand
had been thrown up, in the top of which were
stuck broken shells, where numbers had been
scrawled. The infuriated lobster who had pre-
ceded Phil in his descent, now almost as red
with anger as if he had been boiled and
served at table, was engaged on the top of
one of these heaps in tearing up a large
oyster shell, casting the sand in every direction
in his rage.
He was quite deaf to the expostulations of a
lady-like crab, who stood with tears in her pro-
minent eyes, whilst she waved her claws in a






The Coming of the King


deprecating manner. Phil felt sorry to see her
weeping, and drew near.
"Nothing, Mr Mottled-claw, could be more
unfortunate than this misunderstanding, and I
must appeal to you as a gentleman to listen to
what I have to say, for
it is really painful to
me to have to offer any
explanations. If the-
arrangement of affairs
had not fallen into the
hands of ignorant and
incompetent persons, of 1
course I should have
been given a place in the 1 kFly-!i.e c"ab
front row. 'Nothing can be more distressing to
a lady of refinement like myself than self-asser-
tion; but when I found that my claim had been
neglected by those who ought to have con-
sidered it, I felt it my duty to society not to
allow myself to be set aside in favour perhaps
of some low-born creature. I therefore placed
my card upon a heap which, I understood,






The Coming of the King


had been retained for a group of under-bred
oysters."
Oysters! burst out the lobster, pausing in
his work, and for the first time attending to her
remarks, Oysters, madam! You must indeed
be ignorant of social distinctions if you think an
oyster would presume to annex a seat in the
front row."
I beg your pardon," said the lady with great
dignity, but you are quite mistaken. Of course,
if people understood and were contented with
the humble position to which they are called, and
to which alone they are suited, we should have
none of these heart-rending disputes. But I
regret to say that the oysters have so far for-
gotten themselves as to present a petition to the
Council asking for front seats on the plea-the
ridiculous plea-that they will see nothing in the
back row, as they are so small."
The lobster drew himself up to his full height,
and for a moment was speechless from indigna-
tion; then he began in a tone of great anger:
The oysters have asked to occupy a front






The Coming of the King


row. What incredible presumption! These
low creatures grow more insolent every day.
The back behind the sand-heaps is the place
for them."
"But they really could not see anything
there," put in Phil with some anxiety; "at
least they could not see anything in the road."
"And who cares whether they see anything
or no ?" asked the lobster in a voice of tremen-
dous wrath.
"The great point is," put in a new-comer,
with a laugh which did not sound very good-
natured or merry, "The great point is not that
they should see, but that they should not be
seen; such singularly ungainly, expressionless
creatures as they are. They can do nothing but
gape, and they do that in such an exaggerated
fashion."
Phil turned his eyes upon the speaker, hoping
to see a form of radiant beauty, and yet a little
sad to hear words so contemptuous of its less
fortunate brethren.
He was startled by the appearance of the






The Coming of the King


new-comer, a creature something like a ball in
shape, but covered with sharp spikes, and not
in any way superior in beauty of form or ex-
pression to the row of listening oysters, who
were certainly gaping in an unprepossessing
fashion.
The lobster returned no answer, being too
busily employed; he had thrown aside from
the heap of sand the inscribed fragment of
oyster-shell which had aroused his wrath, and
was setting up in its place another bearing
the inscription "Mottled Claw." The crab
however smiled in a condescending way.
"Quite true, Mr Urchin," she began, "but
perhaps these delicate affairs ought not to be
discussed before strangers." She drew herself
up a little primly, and turned to Phil, "I don't
think I have had the honour of an introduction."
"I am a stranger," he began in a faltering
voice, "and I have come a long way."
A stranger! A distinguished stranger
doubtless! the crab replied eagerly. "Do
you bring us any message from the King ?"






The Coming of the King


At the word king the oysters ceased gaping,
the lobster turned round with an expression of
respect, and a crowd of miscellaneous creatures
hurried up and formed an obsequious circle
round Phil. Everyone waited with the greatest
impatience for his answer.
"I don't know the King," he faltered again,
"and I have no message from him."
"I thought not," said the sea-urchin with
a sneer, and then turning to the crab, he added
in an audible whisper: "There is nothing of
the courtier about him, he is a mere rustic boor.
I have seen something of the great world; when
I stayed with my cousin the Duke of Crinoid I
had many opportunities of mixing in the best
society. That is why I feel that the task of
presenting the address to the King should be
mine. I can roll equally well backwards and
forwards, and therefore could precede the King
in true Court fashion, keeping my face towards
him, which I doubt- an angry chorus in-
terrupted him.
"So can I," "so can I," resounded on all sides






The Coming of the King


in every variety of tone, while some of the
creatures, in their anxiety to show their agility,
began ruthlessly retreating on the back-rows of
their companions. But high above the din rose
a shrill feminine voice in restrained but angry
protest.
"Surely, surely," the crab explained, "this
will be an occasion when feminine grace and
dignity would be more in place than masculine
gymnastics. I don't quite see," she added, look-
ing witheringly at the spikes of the sea-urchin, "I
don't quite see how you could carry the address.
Now, though I was out-voted yesterday for the
nineteenth time, I still think that if I held the
paper in my claws, and was followed by eight
lady-crabs of birth and beauty in white sea-
weed veils, we could not fail to make a good
impression."
"We have gone through this over and over
again," said the lobster brutally; "what between
numbering the seats, and listening to your ideas,
we have not got a bit forwarder all these weeks.
We have had hard work enough to keep the






The Coming of the King


jelly-fishes in their place, and we are not going to
be worsted by a lot of women in sea-weed veils."
The crab's only answer was once more to
burst into tears, and Phil, though he could not
entirely sympathise with her grief, kindly patted
her on the back, and murmured some soothing
words. The lobster, as if a little ashamed of
his violence, went on with a change of subject.
"I should be glad to learn from this young
gentleman, who has obviously just arrived from
the mountains, and the forest, how they are
getting on there. What progress have the
birds and gnomes made?"
"I don't know," said Phil; "I didn't see any
of them as I came by."
"But I suppose you saw something of their
preparations. The gnomes have taken the con-
tract for the whole palace, and the birds are to
furnish it. I am surprised you did not see any-
thing of their work. Although we have only
the garden on our mind, we have more than
enough to occupy us, I can assure you."
"When is the King coming ?" asked Phil with






The Coming of the King


very anxious eyes, which strayed from the sand-
heaps on which he stood over the wide expanse
on which were scattered here and there untidy
masses of seaweed. Is this to be the garden?
It does not look quite ready for the King."
Oh! we are getting on," said the sea-urchins
superciliously. "We have marked out the road
by which the king is to pass, and we have all
chosen our own seats."
Not all! cried the lady-crab with a fresh
burst of weeping, which was echoed by a groan
from the oysters.
"Surely with a little management there is
room for everybody," said Phil, as he looked at
the long road which seemed to have no end.
"But the point is, my dear sir, that every-
body can't be in the front row, and that every-
body wants to be there-everybody that is
anybody, that is to say-and how is it to be
settled?"
Why, of course! cried Phil eagerly, his
blue eyes bright with pleasure at the thought
that he had found the solution of the difficult






The Coming of the King 15

problem. "The shortest must sit in front, be-
cause the others can see over their heads."
A great clapping of shells from the oysters
hailed this sentiment.
"These levelling ideas always evoke the
applause of the illiterate," said the sea-urchin,
rolling a few steps, and glaring at the oysters.
"For my part I have always despised the
plaudits of the vulgar."
The lady-crab clasped her hands, which pro-
duced a strange clanking noise.
"Ah!" she sighed. "That is the secret of
true refinement."
But the lobster was very angry, Phil could not
guess why.
"Your plan would be an excellent one," he
answered with a sneer. An excellent one, if
we considered only our own convenience. But
some of us are unselfish, I am thankful to say."
Phil felt sadly that he was excluded from the
chosen few. "And we think of the King's
feelings. It is our duty to place before his
eyes only forms of really exquisite beauty, and






The Coming of the King


examples of finished courtesy." Here the lobster
drew himself up. Even your short stay among
us must have convinced you- if you are possessed
of average discriminating power-that the oysters
fall lamentably short in all respects."
Phil glanced at the oysters, who had sunk
into a depressed silence. He felt that he could
not maintain that they were beautiful, but his
heart was heavy as he saw their manifest dis-
comfiture.
"But are you very sure," he pleaded, "that
the King is so particular ? Perhaps he will care
more for a hearty welcome than for the appear-
ance of the people who go out to look at him.
I am sure I should."
The lady-crab tittered scornfully, and the
sea-urchin broke out in great indignation:
"You only show your ignorance of court-
ways and court ceremonials by your words.
Why when I was staying with my cousin the
Duke, he never admitted anyone to his table
who was not well-born, well mannered and
beautiful to look at."






The Coming of the King


"But did you see the King ?" persisted Phil.
"And are you sure that he has the same
rules ?"
"See the King! cried the lobster in a tone
of unfeigned astonishment, whilst the sea-urchin
broke out into rude laughter, the lady-crab shook
her head, and even the row of listening oysters
began to chuckle.
"See the King! why where have you been
brought up? Don't you know that when once
we have seen him all will go well? There will
be no more quarrels and no more bitterness."
"Every one will know his place and respect
his betters," put in the sea-urchin, with a vicious
roll towards the oysters.
"The claims of ladies will receive proper
attention," said the crab emphatically.
And the rights of property will be re-
spected." Here the lobster gave a shake to
the shell on his sand-heap, and satisfied himself
it was secure.
Phil listened eager-eyed, his looks fixed
longingly on each speaker in turn. When he






The Coming of the King


spoke his voice was full of a yearning tender-
ness.
"Will every one be kind then, and help the
weak? Will there be no cruelty and no oppres-
sion? Will the strongest do the hard work?"
Something in Phil's words or tone touched
the strange creatures around him.
"When the King has come," the lobster made
answer solemnly, "there will be no more pain
and no more sorrow. We shall all live to help
each other. Those who are wise or strong or
beautiful will use their gifts only to help those
less happy than themselves. We shall then all
gladly yield to the claims of weakness; no un-
kind word will be spoken; no unkind thought
will enter our hearts. All that is dark will be
made light, and all that is harsh and cruel will be
forgotten for ever when the King comes."
Oh!" cried Phil stretching out his arms,
with a great cry. "Oh! let him come soon!
come soon!"

The soft glow which had been slowly fading






The Coming of the King


while they talked had now entirely vanished, and
night and darkness settled on the trembling
waters.
"It is too late to decide anything more to-
night," said the sea-urchin as he rolled away
towards the line of rocks.
The lobster, much gratified by the effect of his
eloquence upon Phil, took a dignified farewell:
"I don't know where you are staying at
present, but if to-morrow you would like to call
at Mottle-claw Cleft, I should be happy to give
you any further information."
With these words he bowed himself away;
only the crab was left and she was smoothing
her claws affectedly as if drawing on a pair of
kid gloves.
"If you have no other engagement," she
began, "I shall be happy to introduce you to my
family, and you can pass the night in Crab Cave.
It is very safe and quiet there."
Phil accepted this kind offer, and followed her
through a small opening into a roomy cave in
the smooth sandy floor of which several infant






The Coming of the King


crabs were comfortably burying themselves for
the night. Phil felt very sleepy, but as the
lady-crab settled herself opposite him, evidently
eager for conversation, he leant his back against
the rock and tried to keep awake.
"I am afraid you can hardly have formed such a
good impression of me as I should wish to make at
a first meeting," ran on the crab, only too pleased
to have secured a patient listener. "I hate to
talk about myself, but I must just make a short
statement to you to explain all you saw. I was
agitated, I was perhaps too emotional, but my
family have no proper pride, and unless I en-
deavoured to keep up our position we should
have sunk long since to what I may call the
commonality. The lobsters, a distant branch of
our family-you will easily follow me when I
say that Mr Mottle-claw's mother-in-law's aunt
was second cousin once removed to my great-
grandfather's half-uncle-are always coming into
collision with us, and endeavouring to behave as
if they were older established and better edu-
cated than ourselves. They have written some







The Coming of the King


very cutting articles about our sideways gait, and
habit of doubling our tails up into our stomachs,
which to every educated person appears the only
way of mixing in society without treading upon
or being trodden on; but I did think they had
gone too far when I found that not a crab was
to sit in the front row, all of us were to be poked
away behind, just as if we were not quite as nicely
finished, and far more compact than those sprawl-
ing creatures. I am afraid you are rather sleepy,
did I see you yawn?"
No, I am not very sleepy," said Phil politely,
"I am sorry if I yawned."
"Oh never mind, I shall only talk for an hour
or two more, and by then no doubt you will be
ready for bed-I have much too active a mind
to rest myself; especially with all this business
on me-Well, you must know that as far back
as my great-grandfather's time there was talk
about the King's coming, and about the great
things to be done before then; and he and his
half-uncle used to sit in this very cave talking
night after night about what should be done






The Coming of the King


and how we should all behave. Of course I was
a mere child at the time, as you will judge by my
appearance now, but I drank it all in, and made
up my mind I would be a prominent person in
the procession. Well! nothing was done, and
the years rolled by, till a short while ago-I
really can't say how long, for I have no head for
dates-but just about the time I was hardening
the very shell I have on now, and you see it is a
very thick and handsome one, so that I had to
keep very quiet, well! as I was saying, a short
while ago a very strong impression was felt that
the King's coming was close at hand, and pre-
parations must be made at once; so we formed a
head central committee, and twenty-seven branch
committees each to undertake a different depart-
ment. Selecting route for procession, one;"-she
checked them off on her claws as she spoke,-
"levelling ground for garden, two; collecting
subscriptions for carriage of rare animals or
plants from remote parts of the ocean, three;
drawing up of address, four; and this was
divided into three sub-committees, one for the






The Coming of the King


composition, another for the execution, and a
third for the presentation; we have had no end
of discussion about this-If you like I will read
you aloud the minutes of these meetings from
the very first."
Phil roused himself sufficiently to say, "It
is very kind of you," and then his head fell
sleepily forwards upon his breast.
"I must ask," said the crab severely, "for
your best attention. This is not a subject to be
treated lightly- Then seeing Phil struggle
to look wakeful and attentive her heart relented
and she said, "Perhaps it will be better to post-
pone it till to-morrow. I see you are a little
exhausted, and certainly Mr Mottle-claw's moral-
ising, though he is a lobster of wealth and
position, is a little tiresome."
Before she had finished her speech Phil was
comfortably asleep.

The sun had only just begun to peep over the
mountain tops when Phil awoke. All was silent
around him, but he stole out of the cave and






The Coming of the King


climbing one of the sand-heaps looked at the
desolate garden, at the beautiful sea-weeds lying
in heaps, or tied up in tight bundles where they
had not a chance of spreading their delicate
threads, and at the black bare rocks which at
this hour of the morning cast a heavy shadow
over the highway along which the King must
pass.
"I should never be able to move those," said
Phil to himself, "but I might do something to
make the garden more tidy. Suppose the King
should come to-day! To think that the fishes
have found no time except for arguing. I shall
never be able to do anything alone, but perhaps
the oysters might be willing to help me."
They looked very unpromising as they lay
in rows gaping for their breakfast, but he
boldly went up to them.
"Don't you think," he began rather timidly,
as he drew near, that we might all try and
put the garden in order a little ? Perhaps the
King might come to-day, and there is nothing
ready for him."






The Coming of the King


"That is always the way," said the one to
whom he addressed himself, who seemed one
of the oldest and most important. "If there
is any work to be done, of course people come
to us, but if we are too ugly to be in the
procession ourselves, I don't see why we are
to work ourselves to death to give other people
an opportunity of showing off."
"But surely you would like to help when
there is so much to be done."
"No, thank you! Get some of your fine
friends to help you! We are quite common
people, and very much beneath your notice."
Phil glanced despairingly from the speaker
to his companions, but he found no encourage-
ment in their faces, and so turned sadly away.
"The thing has got to be done," he said.
"Perhaps, if I worked very hard for a long
time, I might get one little corner straight."
But he felt how little he could do, and the
tears stood in his eyes, and his fingers trembled
as he tried to unfasten the thong which bound
a bundle of sea-weed too heavy for him to lift






The Coming of the King


alone. The delicate branches spread out their
beautiful tracery, and waved them to and fro as
if glad to be free once more, and as he took it
piece by piece, and set it on the sand-hills, a
fairy grove, all pink and green and brown,
began to veil and beautify them. Phil worked
long and unceasingly, but when at noontide he
stopped for a moment to rest, he saw how little
of the great stretch of roadway was covered.
"What are you wearing yourself out for?
You'll never be able to get it all ready! said a
harsh voice overhead. "I have been watching
you for the last hour, and you haven't done
three yards."
Phil looked up, and beheld the ugliest
creature he had yet seen, with starting eyes,
fierce mouth, and eight grey slimy legs covered
with rosettes.
"Why, it would take a thousand people of
your size to manage the business, one is no use
at all."
"But if we all say that," answered Phil
bravely, though his heart sank as he realized






The Coming of the King


the truth of the speaker's words. "But if we
all say that, nothing will ever be done."
"And what does it matter to you if nothing
is done? gruffly answered the octopus. "You
are only a stranger here; no one can make you
responsible."
But I like to help, and as long as I am here
I should like to be of use."
Well, it's a shame to leave it all to you,
while the other creatures are idling. Here, I'll
lend a hand; where do you want these things
put?"
Phil looked at him gratefully.
It is good of you to help," he said; Would
you mind going on with what I'm doing? I
will go-and fetch some more sea-weed."
The work went on much better after this,
though the octopus was very awkward, en-
tangling his legs and often rooting up as much
as he put in, but the spirit of companionship
cheered both, and the time did not seem so
long.
"We could do something too," said a young






The Coming of the King


oyster to a neighbour. "We cut a very poor
figure while these uncouth strangers are getting
our garden ready; let us turn out, and collect
all the little bits and clear the central path."
"That really is rather a pretty idea," said the
crab as she stood at the entrance to the cave.
"Draping the seats with sea-weed is quite an
effective decoration. If I had a seat apportioned
to me, I would have made it very fine."
Where are the boy and the octopus going
to sit ?" said the sea-urchin cuttingly. "I don't
believe they are thinking of themselves; they
are working for other people."
"Well!" said the crab slowly, "I have a
notion that I'll ornament the Mottle-claw's
heap; after that little awkwardness yesterday
it may restore peace."
Next time Phil rested and looked round,
many creatures were busy near him, and the
little bit of garden where they worked bloomed
full of beauty.
"I wonder what made them all come to
work," thought Phil; "it is very delightful;






The Coming of the King


we shall have the garden ready after all! It's
all the octopus' doing, he set the example."
Mr Mottle-claw bustled into sight with a
great claw full of papers.
"Committee at three in Crab Cave. Surely
you have not forgotten, Lady Crab. Why,
what are you doing? Now this is really kind
-how beautiful! what taste! I do hope you
will honour me by accepting a seat upon my heap,
and so become one of its fairest ornaments."
"I never thought of that," said Lady Crab,
honestly surprised, "but it is most kind of you;
I am sure I shall be delighted. Don't you
think," she added in a whisper, "that we might
ask that young gentleman to attend the com-
mittee as a visitor ? He seems to have a good
deal of intelligence."
Mr Mottle-claw accordingly stepped up to
Phil, and politely invited him to attend the
meeting.
Oh thank you very much," said Phil, "but
we are getting on so nicely now, it seems a pity
to stop work."






The Coming of the King


There is a very important point to be settled
to-day, and it is really hardly worth while get-
ting on with these arrangements until it is
settled. We must decide how to remove these
ponderous rocks, they quite spoil the appearance
of the background."
"Do you think so," asked Phil; "I don't see
why they should not be used; plenty more seats
could be arranged along the lower parts, so that
many more people could see."
"I don't know who is going to sit on those
jagged edges," said the sea-urchin; I have no
objection to a spike or two on a handsome
figure, where in fact it adds to the beauty, but
I do object to it on a seat."
"We will cover the upper part well with
limpets, and all the beautiful shell-fish we can
find, and a row of coloured anemones along the
ledge will look very pretty, and they can all see
the procession."
"Anemones, of course; the very things,
because they can stick where other things
would fall off! "






The Coming of the King


"I have always classed them myself as lower
than the oysters; they never protect themselves
with armour, and their interests are entirely
local; but if nobody else can occupy those
ledges, I shan't object to their having the place."
The lobster, who had been taking notes of
everything that had been said, broke in with-
" Very well, I'll propose it, and do my best to
convince them come, sea-urchin, you must
second me." -And off they hurried to Crab
Cave.
All that day, and for many days, the work
went steadily on. There were hours in which
it seemed to make little progress, there were
moments in which much seemed to be done,
and the band of workers slowly but steadily
increased in number. Some fell away from their
first purpose, tired by the unaccustomed toil, or
disappointed at the small result achieved by so
much effort. But with his soul undaunted by
the defection of his helpers, or the slow pro-
gress of the garden, Phil toiled on. Many a
lazy worker who had shrunk from a difficult







32 The Coming of the King

task was shamed back to his labour by the sight
of the indomitable perseverance of the faithful
child; many a grumbler, wroth at the share
allotted to him, ceased his complaints as the
same diligent hands were ready to undertake
a double portion of arduous labour.
Angry words grew less frequent, and gradu-
ally ceased; the struggle for supremacy was
almost forgotten in the general eagerness to
make the King's garden worthy of the honour
his visit was to bestow upon them. There was
more than one friendship formed between the
most incongruous creatures, and the contempt
and bitterness long cherished by one class for
another were laid aside for ever in the sympathy
created by hopes that all cherished, and labour
that all shared.
"Has anything happened?" asked Phil.
"There seems so little water above our heads.
I can almost see the pine-trees on the
shore."
"It is only a particularly low tide," said the
octopus. "The water will come back pre-






The Coming of the King


sently, and I shall be glad, because it certainly
is very hot down here."
"Yes," chuckled the sea-urchin, "I expect
those anemones that are planted on the very top
of the rock are having a nice roasting; there
won't be much left of them in the evening.
The precious suggestion of Mottle-claw, for
which he has received the thanks of the com-
mittee,"-here he gave a vicious dab at Phil
with one of his spikes--"is likely to give the
anemones a new experience. It's no matter, for
there are plenty more where they came from."
"That is an ill-conditioned fellow," said the
octopus, as the sea-urchin rolled into a shady
corner. "Of course, nobody with any sense
would have put them so high, but Lady Crab
would have it so, to 'carry up the line of
colour.' "
"Do you think they are really being hurt ? "
asked Phil. "They can live out of the water,
I know, for I've seen them."
But not for long, and not in this hot sun,"
said the octopus. "Why, what are you going






The Coming of the King


to do ?" as Phil began to climb up to the sur-
face; "you will not be able to stand the hot
air yourself, and it is not worth running any risk
for the anemones; they may get on till high tide
again."
But Phil did not hear. In another minute
his golden curls were flashing in the sunlight,
which beat down upon the rock with cruel
fierceness. There were the rows of poor little
anemones, that last night had made so brave a
show, like brightly-clustered blossoms on the
dark cool rock, now on its hot dry surface
puckered up into so many crimson buttons,
trying to shrink within themselves from the
murderous shafts of light.
I can move these into the shade," said Phil,
who, though much smaller than on land, felt
strong enough to lift and carry the pulpy
masses.
The poor fainting creatures, almost senseless
from heat and thirst, soon understood the mur-
muring voice, and relaxing their firm hold,
yielded to his gentle touch. One by one he






The Coming of the King 35

carried them to the shady side of the rock,
and placed them where the first waves of the
returning tide would bring them back to life
and beauty. They were too weak to thank,
almost too weak to recognize him; but by his
own joy in the cool shadow after each journey
to the top, he guessed the comfort he had given
them.
High up on the rock was planted one monster
fellow, who clung to the surface with desperate
tenacity; no persuasion would induce him to let
Phil remove him from his dangerous position.
Although fast withering up beneath the sun's
scorching rays, all he could say was:
"Go away-go away I tell you-I won't be
touched."
"If you would only leave go I am sure I
could lift you into the shade," pleaded Phil.
"The tide won't cover you for hours up here,
and you'll be all dried up long before that
happens; you look quite faded already."
When I say go away, I mean go away: I
don't want any help, I can manage without it I






The Coming of the King


am thankful to say. The sun knows better
than to injure a person of my position; if it
dared to attempt such a thing, I should not let
it shine any more."
"But I am afraid you must be very uncom-
fortable," and Phil looked pityingly at it, then
glanced down at the anemones he had moved
into the shade. Some of them were close to
the edge of a pool, and they were already
opening and putting out first one tentacle and
then another, and waving them gently about.
He will certainly die if I leave him," thought
Phil. "It is not only the heat, but the want of
water; I will keep pouring some water over him,
and then perhaps he will be cooler."
So spying an empty cockle shell near, he
dipped it into the sea and poured it over the
fast fainting anemone. When he had done
this several times and the rock around was all
splashed with wet, the anemone opened its
mouth to let the cooling shower play over it.
"I knew the tide would soon rise," it began
in a triumphant tone, "that self-sufficient boy






The Coming of the King 37

was quite wrong. Oh! it is nice, now I shall
soon get something to eat."
Circle after circle of waving arms unfolded
themselves as Phil continued his kind offices,
though the anemone added at intervals-






SI


S- -'--------




"That stupid boy-he thought he knew all
about everything, but he was quite wrong."
It was very hot on the top of the rock and
very hard work to climb up the side balancing
the cockle-shell full of water, which seemed so
heavy to carry and yet was so soon emptied. In






The Coming of the King


one of his journeys up the steep slippery side
Phil fell and cut his knee; he could hardly
crawl down again to refill the cockle-shell, the
contents of which he had spilt in his tumble.
As he sat ruefully watching the red drops of
blood which trickled down his small white leg,
once more the temptation to rest from his self-
imposed task rushed into his soul, but the
complaining voice of the sea anemone growing
loud and shrill made him pause.
"Oh! dear, dear, dear! What has happened
to the tide, it has gone down all at once and
I am getting so hot again."
Phil stooped resolutely to the surface of the
water as he dipped in the shell. The sea-urchin,
who had stuck himself on the rock just below
the water's edge, called out to him:
"You are never going to help that obstinate
creature again. He won't thank you, for he doesn't
know you are doing it, and when he does find
out he will only suspect you of wanting to curry
favour with him. These anemones think no end
of themselves. They are rather pretty when






The Coming of the King


they are open, but their spikes are so soft that
after all they are of very little more account than
a smooth surface."
"But the poor thing is so uncomfortable,"
said Phil, who had washed the blood from his
knee, and was preparing to ascend the rock.
"If you are going to look after everyone who
is uncomfortable you won't be able to do much
work in the garden," grumbled the sea-urchin,
who certainly was not doing his share then.
Phil's face clouded for the moment, then it
brightened again as he answered:
But this is part of the work; the King would
not like anyone to be unhappy in his garden."
The sea-urchin muttered Oh! you've always
an excuse ready," but Phil did not hear, for he
was again by the sea anemone letting a cool
stream flow over its steaming body.
Thank goodness here's the tide again! Like
everything else it goes wrong when I'm not well
enough to superintend it."
"It is not the tide," said Phil; "it is only me
pouring some water over you."







The Coming of the King


You! I thought I told you to go away! but
if you will stay you might at least do the work
regularly. You nearly killed me by leaving me
in the sun all this while when I was so wet."
Phil did not answer, he was too busy, and the
anemone ran on:
"There are very few people I should allow
to do me such a service as this. I was born very
proud, and it is quite a condescension for me to
accept help from anyone. Of course I can quite
understand why you like to do it. It will be a
great honour for you when the King notices my
magnificent size and splendid colouring to be
able to say, I helped him one day,' but you'll
please add that I was not at all obliged to you
and could have got on quite as well without you.
Now, awkward child, pour more slowly I don't
like to be splashed. What !' the King will say,
'did such a common boy as that,'-for you are
quite a common boy, you know, all sunburnt and
perspiring, 'Did a common boy like that help
the most beautiful ornament in my garden?"
The anemone by this time had quite recovered






The Coming of the King 41

himself, and spoke in a brisk cheerful tone. "I
suppose even you will own there is no one half
as beautiful as I am."
Phil hoped to escape the necessity for
answering, but the anemone repeated sharply:
"Why don't you answer? don't you know
that it is very ill bred not to reply to a
question ?"
"I was wondering whether you were the
prettiest: you are certainly the biggest, and
that is a great deal, but there is a little anemone
down by the water's edge which is a most
beautiful rose colour, and blushes quite a deep
crimson whenever you speak to her."
Oh, you admire that colour, do you? Well!
she must thank me for that. I advised her how
to acquire it, and I could have been of that
colour myself if I had cared for it, but I hate to
look like everyone else, and they are nearly all
red so are you! Quite scarlet in the face,
and so hot you seem to heat the air around me!
I wish you would stand a little farther off."
The sun slowly sank in the heavens, and the






The Coming of the King


tide swelled in the little rocky pools till they
brimmed over, and covered the long bare
stretches of brown sand whilst tiny ripples
lapped the ledges of the rock. Each time the
child had to make a shorter journey to fill the
shell, and at last a shining wavelet broke over
the anemone.
"Now you can be off," it exclaimed. "It
is not until you set a boy to work you know
how superior the real tide is. This is really
cool, and there is so much more of it."
The anemone could hardly have been happier
than Phil as he stretched his tired limbs, and
sank into the cool freshness of the sea.
"There is gratitude for you!" said the
sea urchin. "I hope you see what comes of
slaving for people. They think none the better
of you for it."
"I do not so much care what he thinks of
me; I did not want the poor thing to be
shrivelled up."
"You never do think of yourself," said the
octopus gloomily. Then with a kinder accent






The Coming of the King


he went on: "That is why we all have to
think of you. I shan't be satisfied till you
have had your revenge on that nasty, spiteful
anemone."
"Well! said the sea-urchin, "it is easy
enough to punish him. The tide is up now,
and we can get at him. If I roll over him with
my spikes, and you sting him with your suckers,
perhaps he will know better next time."
The octopus did not answer as cordially as
the speaker expected; perhaps the pained look
on Phil's face made him hesitate. Suddenly a
bright idea struck him.
"No," he made reply, "that is a coarse kind
of vengeance. What I should like is that he
should get into a fresh difficulty; then the boy
could help him again. That would make him
feel small, I think."
He glanced at Phil for approval, but the
sorrowful look had given way to a puzzled one,
and the child's blue eyes had a cloud across
their brightness.
"You would not hurt him, you know,"






The Coming of the King


eagerly explained the octopus. "You would
only do him a kindness to make him feel
ashamed of himself."
Still the blue eyes looked at him with un-
comprehending, unsatisfied yearning; then Phil
said very gently:
"It does not seem a good reason for doing
him a kindness, does it?"
Both the creatures were silenced. It was
not the first time that the child's simple words
had thrown a new light upon the present, and
made their past life seem a poor and narrow
thing.

Beautiful as Phil had always thought his
home when the sun's rays diffused through the
green water a golden radiance, and lighted up
the yellow sand and strange barbaric armour of
his companions, it had never seemed to him so
fair as when one moonlight night he stood with
his fellow-workers and looked upon the garden
now almost completed.
Delicate, graceful plants as beautiful as any






The Coming of the King 45

that grow in the open sunshine and free air
waved their many coloured branches rhyth-
mically to the soft wash of the waves.
Exquisite arches of coral, pink, white and
red, spanned with their intricate tracery the
road along which the King must pass, the road
bordered on each side by fairy baskets like
frozen lace, of workmanship too fine and delicate
to be imitated by human hand.
In the silver mist of moonlight overhead
swayed to and fro the jelly-fish, casting opal
reflections on the stainless floor; in the dark
recesses of the rocks, in tiny points of light,
moved myriads of phosphorescent creatures,
now forming long lines of crimson and gold;
now clustering into brilliant stars; now break-
ing up again into clouds of golden dust.
How beautiful! broke out from a chorus
of voices, and every heart throbbed with a not
ungenerous pleasure. The satisfaction each
felt at his own share in the long task thus
well accomplished was tempered by the awe
and reverence for the Maker of such beauty,






The Coming of the King


and for the power which had drawn them all
to labour together for a great end, which none
could have achieved for himself.
In silence many hearts registered a solemn
vow to be more worthy of their King and of
one another, and the consciousness of a new era
dawned upon the feeblest and least responsible
intelligence.
It was the lobster who spoke, with his antenna
bravely waving, and a choke of emotion in his
voice, which cleared as he went on-
Friends! now that our garden is ready, and
all that we have to do is to keep it in order
and extend its borders until the King comes, I
should not like to let the occasion pass without
a few words of congratulation. Hard as we
have all worked, I do not think any one of
us has shirked his share; we are all the better,
and not the worse, for our experience. We
have learnt to know one another;" (loud ap-
plause here interrupted the speaker,) "we
have learnt to trust one another, and we have
learnt to help one another. I think, when the






The Coming of the King


King honours us with his visit, we shall be more
worthy to welcome him than we should have
been some little time ago. Before I sit down,
I want to say one word about the oysters. I
wish to acknowledge, in the name of the com-
mittee, how wrong we were to try and keep
them in the background, and not sooner ask
their advice, or accept their help. Since a
better state of feeling has prevailed, and they
have joined us, we must realise how much
we should have lost without them. I there-
fore conclude this vote of thanks to all present
with a special reference to the oysters."
Loud applause followed, under cover of which
Phil whispered to the octopus:
It is quite true about the oysters; but they
ought to have said something about you. If
you had not begun that day nothing would ever
have been started."
There was a strange surprise, as well as
love and gratitude, in the answering look of
the octopus. But Phil could not stop to
wonder what was the meaning of his astonish-






The Coming of the King


ment, for all eyes were turned upon the oysters,
who were holding a hurried consultation.
At last the eldest oyster, who was perched
upon a commanding ledge, nervously arranged
his beard, and began to speak.
I am sure we are very much pleased at the
kind things said of us ; we were very proud and
glad to be allowed to help, and I hope this will
not be the last time we shall all work together.
But there is one confession my comrades desire
me to make. Years ago we began to collect
together a great treasure, which we meant to
present to the King on his coming here. Many
a time, when we were jeered and flouted at
as ugly and common, we rejoiced among one
another to think how far richer our gift would
be than that of any other creature, and I fear
we hoped (here the oyster looked very shame-
faced) that the King might treat all your pre-
sents with contempt, and only care for ours.
But now all is changed," and the speaker's voice
grew bold and clear; now that everyone has
brought his share to the common good, we wish






The Coming of the King


to give our contribution to add to the glories of
this beautiful scene. Henceforward all we do
and all we have is not for ourselves, but shall
be shared like the sunlight and the sea."
He was silent, but in a moment from every
ledge where the oysters were stationed fell a
rain of pure and perfect pearls. Their shimmer-
ing whiteness caught the moonbeams as they fell
and rolled like globes of veiled light along the
King's highway. Many tears and much suffering
had gone to their making, they had lain hidden
where they delighted no eye, where their radiance
was unknown and unsuspected, but now their
perfect form and changing hues stood as an
evident proof and symbol of the beauty which
can only be revealed by that spirit which giving
freely seeketh not its own.
A chorus of admiration rose on all sides, but
as it gradually subsided, and all the creatures
rushed to gather up the pearls and fill the fairy
baskets till they brimmed over, Phil for the first
time stood aloof with uplifted finger and listening
face.






The Coming of the King


"Hark! he said. I hear the nightingale."
The octopus paused in his work, and looked
round for Phil to help him, but startled at the
boy's expression returned to his side.
"What is it ?" he asked.
"Don't you hear?" said Phil. "They are
calling me to the forest."
The octopus listened intently, and after a time
caught the faint rippling notes of an unfamiliar
sound.
"You are not going," he said. "You must
stay now till the King comes."
"I should like it," said Phil, "but I must not
wait."
"At least you will bid them good-bye," said
the octopus, seeing him set his face towards
the shore.
Phil turned once more to the busy scene,
where all was beauty, peace and harmony.
"No," he said, "better not."
"You will come back," pleaded the octopus,
affectionately throwing one arm around him.
"I don't know, I never know; perhaps! he






The Coming of the King 51

released himself gently from the detaining arm.
"Good-bye."
His purpose was strong within him, but his
farewell was tender, and he cast back a loving
glance at those with whom he had lived and
laboured; yet his feet never hesitated, and the
song of the bird grew stronger and clearer in
his ears till he stood in the mysterious moon-
light by the edge of the boundless sea.
















T was broad daylight as Phil swung on the
lower branches of a wide-spreading beech;
so fearless of him were the little squirrels that
they climbed close to him, seeking for the shining
nuts to store up for their winter provender: in
the burnished leaves overhead hundreds of birds
were singing, each independently stretching his
throat and pouring out a volume of sound which
he hoped might drown his neighbour's song.
The owl in the hollow tree opposite shook him-
self and blinked impatiently; he had been waked
up for the fourth time by the discordant chorus.
What a pity," he cried to Phil with a
sarcastic hoot, "that you and I are not gifted
with the same penetrating voices to swell this
admirable noise! They are all practising their
different songs at the same time. Now if
53






The Coming of the King


I could chatter like the parrots and you could
scream one note higher than the peacocks, there
would be nothing lacking to the harmony."
"I have often wished to sing," said Phil, a
little doubtful of the owl's meaning, "but I am
not sure that they want any more voices. You
see I don't know much of music. Some people
might enjoy this for a little time."
There was a flash of blue in the sunshine, and
a bird dropped panting on the branch beside Phil.
"I am quite worn out," he said. "We jays
have been practising our congratulatory ode this
morning, and as thirty of us had gone to meet
the carrier pigeons we were short-voiced, and
had to sing extra loud."
"If that was your intention," said the owl
drily, "you certainly succeeded! But I must
protest against one thing: if you will persist in
spite of the best advice in sitting up all day, and
wasting the night in sleep, you might at least
consider the claims of those who follow a more
rational scheme of existence. I have been waked
several times out of my beauty-sleep, and the






The Coming of the King


bats, who-though not feathered-possess more
sense than many of higher social pretensions, are
talking of lodging a formal complaint."
"The practice is over now," good-humouredly
answered the jay, and if you have not enjoyed
this morning, how will you get through to
morrow, when the pea-
cocks and macaws a.re
going to have a trial l'-
of strength? I am ''
thinking of going
up several hundred,
feet myself. I ,,,
shall not like to ,!!., 1
be too close." ,
"It is mon-
strous!" said the ---- -
owl. "If you ///-
Ihnve been WzYkecl Jete. 1 n
must practise,
why don't you do out -my bectyj eep.
it at a reasonable hour,
and not all at once? I have hooted till I am
hoarse as to the prevalent folly of this artificial






The Coming of the King


existence. As long as birds will fly about in
the sunshine they will fade their feathers, ruin
their eyesight, and be in danger of sunstroke;
besides, nothing fit to eat is ever to be found
by daylight."
The jay, who had yawned ostentatiously dur-
ing this harangue, slily remarked:
I suppose you owe your beautiful colouring
to your careful avoidance of sunlight."
The owl returned no answer, but with great
dignity settled himself for sleep.
"I wonder if there ever was anyone so
stupid as the owl," began the jay in a musing
tone. He fancies his deficiencies are a sign
of superiority, and prides himself upon the very
things for which we profoundly pity him."
"It is very nice in the evening when the
moon is shining, and the stars have come out in
the heavens," was Phil's reply.
It is a sight no respectable person would
ever wish to see. The nightingales have been
quite cut by the best set here, because they will
keep such late hours, and I should advise you if






The Coming of the King 57

you indulge in similar habits not to mention it
more widely."
Phil felt abashed, but a timely interruption
appeared in the shape of a bustling black and
white bird, whose chattering voice reached them
before they saw him through the leafy screen.
The stranger, I perceive. Upon my word I
am very glad to improve our acquaintance."
Then he stopped, his inquisitive head on one
side, and his beady black eyes fixed supercili-
ously on the boy.
"I should be very glad to enter in my note-
book," here he waved a minute one with a
feather pen sticking out, any particulars about
your birth or parentage that you may wish to
impart to me." Seeing Phil hesitate, he went
on more emphatically.- "I have been asked a
great many questions about you. There is a
feeling in the community that as I saw you first,
I am in a sort of way responsible for you." As
Phil still did not answer, the magpie went on
more sternly, "I must tell you that we are ex-
tremely particular here as to whom we admit






The Coming of the King


into our social circle, and this will not be an
agreeable place of residence for one who has
cause to be ashamed of his past."
Phil lifted up his head, and looked for a
moment at the magpie. There was a mild
dignity in his bearing which produced an effect
upon the voluble bird, and made him chatter on
more hurriedly than before.
I am sure you will own that my position is
a very delicate one, and that silence sometimes
-though not invariably-is a sign of a desire to
suppress unpleasant truths. We really should
like to know how we are to classify you. You
must realize," here the magpie dropped his
voice, as though approaching a delicate subject,
"that you are totally without wings, and that
your feet are singularly ill-formed."
"All the same," put in the jay, who had a
kind heart, the feathers on your head are
fine and soft, though they don't spread over you
much. Yet, after all, colour is the real mark of
distinction, and there is nothing grey or brown
about you." He spread his own wings in the






The Coming of the King


sunshine, and looked complacently at the ex-
quisite variations of blue.
"But appearances are only external," the
magpie spoke as if he were enunciating a new
truth. Then he entered the following descrip-
tion in his note-book, glancing at Phil to correct
his impressions. "Featherless bird, chiefly pink
in colour, yellow tufted head, ungainly feet,
with superabundance of toes, useless fleshy
claws at the extremities of undeveloped wing-
bones. The creature has shown some ingenuity
in covering his featherless body with portions of
woollen cloth, neatly adapted. Age-now how
old are you? "
Phil looked at the trees, the sky, the distant
gleaming sea for an answer, and then said, "I
don't know."
The magpie surveyed him with contempt,
" Hatched last year, I should think. You are
certainly not one of this spring's brood. Now we
come to your pedigree; who are your parents ?"
Phil shook his head with the inevitable, I
don't know."






The Coming of the King


The magpie looked grave, and even the jay
drew a little away.
"I suppose you at least know where you
came from," said the magpie, giving him a last
chance.
"Oh! yes! I have come from the sea."
From the sea," cried the magpie and the jay
in a shrill chorus, whilst all the birds in the
tree-top fluttered down to join in the enquiry.
" What is the King's garden like? "
It is lovely," cried Phil with eager enthu-
siasm. They have planted the most beautiful
sea-weed, and built the most magnificent arches
of coral. I wish you could see it when it is
illuminated at night."
"It can hardly be finer than the Marble
Palace which the gnomes have built, and when
the King has received and arranged our gifts in
it, it will be the eighth wonder of the world."
Is it finished yet ?" asked Phil.
The palace is finished, at least everything is
ready, except the furniture, and that, of course,
is to wait for the King's arrival. It has taken






The Coming of the King


years of work! It was begun before any one
of us was hatched, and yet it all looks as fresh
as if it had been done in a day! and rolled up
and hidden away are all the beautiful things
we have collected to furnish it. From the very
moment that there was any whisper of the
King's coming we have worked without ceasing."
I should like to have your opinion of the
bed-hangings we have designed," said a peacock.
"The tailor birds helped us to carry out our
idea, and it really is a triumph of art."
And we must show you our screen," put in
an ostrich, who thrust his head up close to Phil's
face, though his legs were on the ground.
" The tufts of plumes are most ingeniously
arranged, and are all of the purest white. I
contributed some of the handsomest myself."
We must show him our large fans," said
a ring-dove, putting his beak into his breast;
" they are made of shot purple like this, and
we have learnt to use them, so that when the
nights are hot, we shall perch round the King's
head, and fan and coo him to sleep."






The Coming of the King


You must not forget to show him the carved
cedar boxes which the carrier pigeons have col-
lected. They went out for another three days
ago, and must have had a tiring journey back.
It was a very good thought of the jays to meet
and help them, for they will be awfully done up
before they arrive," said a wood-pigeon, a cousin
of the last speaker.
"How clever you all are!" Phil looked
admiringly at their bright eyes and quick move-
ments. How much I should like to see this
wonderful sight! "
Oh! it is quite easy for you to see it," said
the chief raven, and we will take you if you
like."
"Oh! do let us go now," cried Phil, begin-
ning to scramble down from his branch.
"Don't get down! you don't fancy you can
walk there? It is over the top of the highest
mountain and down a precipice, where you could
not possibly climb. We will carry you, if you
will keep very steady and hold on."
Phil eagerly assented, and six strong ravens






The Coming of the King


made a little raft by putting their wings together.
On this he took his seat confidingly, glad to find
that he was still so small that he could balance
with comfort on their blue-black feathers.
For a moment their strong wings beat the air
as if their burden was too heavy, but then the
green earth and the tree-tops seemed to sink
lower and lower beneath Phil's feet. The fresh
air blowing straight across miles of sea lifted the
curls upon his forehead, and brought back the
breath he had lost in the rapid upward rush.
He was soon far above the mountain top, the
mountain top over which he had toiled so pain-
fully to reach the sea; the great grey rocks by
which he had rested were dwindled to a small
heap of stones, and he could only just trace the
path by which he had ascended, as it wound like
a fine white thread up the steep slopes. On
one hand spread the expanse of sea like a sheet
of polished metal, on the other extended the
broad and smiling plain, where silver ribbons
showed the winding river's course between the
fresh green grass and yellow fields of corn. Im-






The Coming of the King


mediately below them rose the jagged mountain
tops, which caught the sun's bright beams, and
darkened the valleys between into wells of purple
shadow. From the summit of one rugged frown-
ing hill a thin curl of smoke rose into the air,
and took fantastic shapes.
"That is the gnomes' chimney," said the chief
raven. "They have not got a very big fire
to-day."
"There is a good deal of smoke," said Phil.
"Oh! it is nothing to what you may see
at any time when they are smelting the gold.
At night the fire flashes out, and sometimes
keeps our nestlings awake."
Before Phil's eyes had taken in half the
wonder and beauty over which he was whirled,
the swift flight of the birds was checked, and
in majestic circles they swooped downwards,
getting ever nearer to a point of glittering
light, which gradually revealed itself in massive
dome and graceful towers.
Phil held his breath; he had never imagined
anything so magnificent. Raised above a valley






The Coming of the King


where the velvet turf was only broken by a
sparkling stream, high on a mass of polished
rock, towered in dazzle of whiteness and glory
of fretted gold the palace of the King.
The ravens set him down at the foot of a
flight of massive steps, and he thanked them
gratefully, while he stroked into place the
ruffled plumage which his little hands had
disarranged.
May I go in?" he asked. Although these
steps are not quite finished at the bottom I
think I could get up them."
"Certainly," said the raven. "We come
nearly every day to see how things are getting
on. It is about time these stairs were finished;
take care of that pickaxe, and look out, there is
a wheelbarrow overturned."
"The workmen have left all their things
about," Phil said as he picked his way among
the fallen tools. The wheelbarrow was like
a toy, whilst the spades were hardly larger
than salt-spoons. It is surely rather early
for their dinner-hour."






The Coming of the King


The gnomes never come in the day-time,"
said the chief raven as he hopped lightly in
front of Phil. "I have never seen them and
I don't want to see them, they are not the kind
of people one cares to know."
"They must be very tiny," said Phil, lifting
one of the little spades.
Oh, they are a troublesome lot, everyone
says, but they are very clever, and they cer-
tainly work hard. They did not begin this
staircase till the spring, and they will carry it
to the water's edge before winter. It is to be
covered with plates of gold, I understand, and
will lead from the King's throne right down to
his garden."
By this time they stood before the golden
door at the top of the flight of steps. It was
rich with carving and gay with jewels, and
yielding to their touch revealed to them the
entrance court where the silvery drops of a
fountain splashed upon a pink-veined marble
basin.
A cry of pleasure broke from Phil, but it






The Coming of the King 67

woke no echo from the silence, for before it
had passed his lips a sudden noise filled the air
with hideous discord. The whole court was
dark with birds. The peacocks, their iridescent
plumage gleaming like jewels, hooted loudly,
the macaws jabbered as they swayed to and
fro, their heads crowned with blue and scarlet
tufts; the mournful cry of the curlew, the
grating note of the corn-crake, the hoarse
laugh of the mocking-bird, all these sounds
combined to drown the soft cooing of the
wood-pigeon, the tuneful notes of the thrush,
and the clear sweetness of the lark's distant
song.
What a pity it is that they will all sing
against one another," said the old raven, strug-
gling to make himself heard as he hopped close
to Phil's ear. This is a rehearsal of the King's
reception. They are each to sing a separate
song to the King, and they will all practise it
at the same time. We have reasoned till we
are hoarse with the peacocks and macaws; their
only answer is 'Power is better than sweetness,'






The Coming of the King


till I am sick of the sound of the words.
No one has a chance against their cast-iron
throats."
It was a blessed relief when, Phil having
opened the crystal doors on the further side
of the court, they swung to behind him shutting
out the tumult of sound.
The light within the large room was dim,
for it fell through opal windows staining the
pale-green marble of the floor with a thousand
different hues. Beautiful in its proportions and
colour, exquisitely finished in its carved walls and
embossed roof, the vast hall struck Phil with
a sense of disappointment that was almost
pain.
The flight of golden steps with its guardian
lions led to an empty dais, where the throne
should have stood; the wall behind this space,
which needed some rich hanging, showed a star-
ing blank. There were no cushions, no rugs, no
drapery, no flowers to break the frigid monotony
of the magnificent hall. The whole place was
waiting for the last touches which were to







The Coming of the King


transform it from an empty shell to a living
home.
"This is the throne-room,"-the raven's voice
was proud as he spoke; "the proportions are
considered very fine."
"It is rather empty," Phil looked round with
a sigh, "and I don't see the throne."
The raven's voice was prouder than before.
"That is a sight indeed to see! The throne
has been made by us, by all the ravens in the
forest. We were years collecting the things for
it, and very much we suffered in the process, for
we had to pick up the ornaments when and how
we could, and hide them away, which brought
us under great suspicion. But it is really worth
the cost."
"I suppose it is not finished yet? I do
hope you will get it done before the King
comes."
"Not finished!" cried the raven indignantly,
whilst all his five companions hopped to show
their wrath. We are not the sort of people to
be behind-hand with what we undertake. Be-






The Coming of the King


sides, to do the other birds justice, every thing is
ready. The feather-work executed by the hum-
ming-birds for this space," he nodded towards
the background of the throne, is the most
elegant and graceful design imaginable. Several
of them went about for months with only half a
tail, and with their breast plumage sadly deficient,
they had sacrificed so many of their feathers
in the work; whilst the migratory birds have
brought in most beautiful specimens from the
different places they visit, so that the only
danger is the hall will look too full."
But why are the things not here if they are
ready?" persisted Phil. "The King may come
any day, and find the palace bare."
That is just what he will do," answered the
raven impatiently. Of course we are not going
to give him his presents until he arrives; he
would not know where to give the credit, if he
found the things standing in the hall. Each
group of birds will present a gift on succeeding
days with a musical address and a procession,
and of course each hopes that the King's grati-






The Coming of the King


tude will be suitably expressed. The only
difficulty is which gift shall be offered first.
We ravens think there can be no doubt that the
most important-and therefore the earliest-gift
should be the throne, but the peacocks stand out
for the priority of their bed. It certainly is a
wonderful piece of work."
"But there is nothing here," urged Phil,
"and it will be so dreadfully uncomfortable if
he is only to have one piece of furniture each
day. How will he get on meanwhile ?"
"Oh! he must look forward to the future,"
the raven answered rather crossly; "he will get
them all in time."
"Don't you think it would be nicer if you
put the gifts in the palace and got the house
ready for him ?" Phil asked persuasively.
"I have told you our reasons. How could he
thank each of us, if he did not know where
every thing came from?"
"But he would be more comfortable, and
after all that must be the first consideration."
The raven did not answer for a moment;






The Coming of the King


when he did speak his voice was not so pleasant
as usual.
"It may be the first consideration to those
who are going to contribute nothing. You
would feel very differently if you had worked
for years, and denied yourself to make a fine
gift. Of course it would be a very convenient
thing for you if there were no identification of
presents; then you would share in the credit
without having done any of the work."
Phil hung his head, and the tears came into
his eyes. He was deeply hurt at being thus
misunderstood.

It was a grey afternoon, and the waves broke
heavily along the pebbly shore where Phil sat
alone. A great sadness filled his heart, and in
his soul was the silent question: "Why was I
sent here? What need have they of me? I
can do nothing to help them."
His eyes wandered dreamily over the rough
sea and the dark wind-tossed clouds across which
a flight of white-winged gulls slowly laboured






The Coming of the King


towards the shore. Long after the others had
passed out of sight overhead, one straggler beat
the air with vain and almost frantic efforts to
make way against the opposing wind. Some-
times it vanished in the frothy crown of a large
wave, then reappeared, still struggling bravely
on. Phil started to his feet, he saw in the bird's
beak the gleam of a golden cup the weight of
which was dragging it down.
"Drop it! Drop it!" cried he. Then seeing
that the steadfast bird in peril of its life still
clutched the treasure, though one hoarse,
despairing cry showed that its strength was all
but gone, Phil dashed into the waves. He was
only ust in time; beaten back by the huge rollers,
breathless from the surf, and wounded by the
stones, he only reached the bird as a huge wave,
over which it had no power to rise, was engulf-
ing it. Phil bore it and the rich goblet which
it had not relinquished even in this supreme
moment back to the rocky shore-no easy
task, as the wind grew each moment wilder and
fiercer.






The Coming of the King


The bird lay in his bosom as one dead. Its
drenched wings fell open helplessly, and he
could not feel the faintest pulsation when he,
laid his hand upon its breast, which was cold as
stone to the touch. He forgot all about his
own dripping clothes, and the wet clammy hair
which the wind drove into his eyes, and which
left salt drops like tears upon his cheeks. His
whole soul was concentrated in the one thought
how to revive the flickering life which seemed
so nearly extinguished.
He gathered together in a sheltered nook dry
sea-weed and small sticks from the wood, kindled
a little flame, and held the bird upon his knees
where the warm glow could comfort and revive
it, gently rubbing with his own chilled hands
the soft round body.
It was long before he noted any change, but
at last a little shudder convulsed the frame, and
the filmy eye grew brighter.
"The cup! where is the cup?" the bird
gasped, struggling in the gently detaining
arms.






The Coming of the King


Phil picked it up from where it had fallen
disregarded at his feet, yet it was a treasure
that most would have been loth to lose, with
its curiously wrought handles and beaded brim
of gold contrasting with the rich translucent
colours in the enamel of the bowl.
The bird's eye lightened with exultant joy
as he beheld his prize.
"I got it from the wreck," he said. "A
large ship lies over there deserted in mid-ocean.
Is not this a splendid present for me to give the
King?"
Phil assented heartily; his own clothes were
dry by now, and the bird was hopping gaily
round the fire, stretching out first one wing,
and then the other, rejoicing in his recovered
strength. When he returned and stood opposite
Phil, he asked:
"And what present have you got? I wish
you would show it to me."
Phil shook his head sadly. "I have not got
anything to give."
He thought of the unfurnished palace, and







The Coming of the King


the King's disappointment as he wandered
through the empty rooms, which no fore-
thought had cared to make beautiful for his
coming, and he cried out of the longing of his
heart:
Oh, I wish I could give him something."
The bird closed one eye thoughtfully and put
his head on one side.
"I don't see how you are ever to find any-
thing; you are so poorly equipped for getting
about; but you are a real good fellow, and I
don't know where I or my cup should be if you
had not come to my help."
"I am so glad I happened to be here; of
course anyone would have done it, and I might
have seen you sooner if I had been looking
out instead of thinking about that empty
palace."
The bird remained silent for a while, evidently
carefully considering some difficult point.
"If there was less wind to-morrow, I could
easily go to the wreck again. There are lots
of pretty things there, quite small--which I






The Coming of the King


could bring away. I should like to give you
something because you saved me."
"Oh! how good of you! Thank you with
all my heart! Perhaps some little thing which
you could carry easily-but," with a sudden
scruple of doubt, "would it be really my
present if you had all the trouble ?"
"Well! I think I owe you something, and if
I give you a present, it will be your own, and
you can do as you like with it."
"Oh! Thank you again and again. How
kind, how generous you are!"
The gull looked first at the fire and then at
the sea, and made up his mind to a further
effort.
"I think you ought to have the cup; "he said
firmly, "you saved it as well as me. If it were
not for you, I should be tossing on those waves,
and it would have sunk to the bottom of the
sea."
"No! No!" cried Phil. "Not that cup!
It is far too beautiful. You must keep that to
give yourself."






The Coming of the King


"Don't let us argue! That is settled! and
the gull stamped one foot, and turned aside his
eyes from the treasure lest he should repent his
too generous gratitude.
"Really mine!" cried Phil with sparkling
eyes.
Really and truly yours !"
"Then I know what I shall do with it. I
shall put it in the palace, and fill it with pure
water every day. The King may be thirsty
when he arrives, and if he should ask how the
cup comes there, I shall say that you found it,
and let me give it to him."
The last spark of regret died out of the gull's
heart as his soul responded to the child's gen-
erous spirit, and he joyously spread his strong
wings and sailed into the air.
It was with a light heart that Phil climbed
the flight of steps to the great palace, and care-
fully placed the cup brimming over with fresh
water from the stream upon the -steps in the
empty throne-room. The grey day had drawn
to its close, and one gleam of watery sunshine






The Coming of the King


shot through the parted clouds, and fell like
a benediction upon the offering.


Every morning Phil's first task was to take
the cup to the stream, and, after washing it,
to place it refilled on the same spot. It was
never disturbed, though many of the birds
visited the palace by day, and the gnomes'
nightly task went steadily on.
It was one early morning as Phil bent over
the stream concerned with his daily task, that






The Coming of the King


a graceful swallow who had come down for his
morning bath in the shallow pool began to talk
to him.
"Oh! it's you, is it!" he said as he shook
the pearly drops from his graceful wings; you
are the person who stands a cup in the middle
of the hall every day. It does look so absurdly
little in that vast empty space. You have
caused a great deal of amusement among us,
and there is some talk of a formal request
being made to you to take it away. We
never interfere with one another's gifts, but
we think it does not look well to have it all
alone. You ought to avoid eccentricity-par-
ticularly as you are a stranger."
Phil looked perplexed as he answered:
I am afraid I must put it back. I promised
the gull I would, and it is really his present-
not mine. Besides, the King may want some-
thing to drink after his journey."
"Well!" said the magpie hurrying up with
several loitering birds, who had guessed the
subject of conversation, "although that is quite






The Coming of the King


true, and you ought to present the goblet, yet
you must wait your turn."
"And I should think your turn would come
about forty-fifth, so that you will only have to
wait six weeks after he comes."
"It is very lucky for you," said his first
friend the jay, "that there is no other goblet,
so no doubt the King will be much gratified by
your present."
Phil shook his head. "If he has to wait six
weeks for it he will be very thirsty. Oh! do
let him have it earlier! "
"I daresay," put in one of the peacocks,
languidly glancing over his shoulder at his
variegated train as he spoke, I daresay you
would like to be the first to attract the King's
attention, but it is quite impossible."
"I am not thinking about myself," pleaded
Phil "Perhaps I shall not be here. Any one
may give it to the King, and no word need be
said about me, but it seems so unkind to keep
him waiting for such a little thing. It is very
pretty, really," then turning to the group of






The Coming of the King


proud and graceful peacocks he held out the
cup, which gleamed in the morning sun, and
rivalled their own brilliant colouring.


" Won't



I



"fl- L, '2


you give this with your gift?"
The peacocks looked a little
doubtful.
We really could not
undertake to mention
your name. It is very
difficult to get a song to
suit our voices, and now


S that ours is composed,
we really cannot go
--, introducing fresh verses
about strange boys just
/ at the last."
"It does not matter
about me in the least, so
long as the King has it;" Phil emphatically
answered; then, as if an after-thought struck
him, "I should have liked some allusion to
be made to the gull."
A silence fell upon them all, and then one of






The Coming of the King


the swallows, who had been twittering together,
spoke aloud:
"There is sense in what the boy says. It
does seem rather absurd to keep the King
waiting for weeks, just that we may have
the ceremony according to our ideas. We
swallows have been thinking that the cup may
be knocked over standing on the steps, so we
shall bring our smallest inlaid table, the one
we brought back last spring, for it to stand
on."
"Well! added another bird, if you put
the table there, we might lay down our eastern
rugs. They are not improved by being kept
rolled up in bales. We had trouble enough
to bring them over the sea. We don't want
them spoiled at the last."
"Only remember," put in one of the pea-
cocks severely, you will none of you get
any of the credit if the things are already in
the room. We cannot have you pushing for-
ward and explaining in the hurry of the King's
arrival."






The Coming of the King


"We never thought of such a thing," ex-
claimed the swallows; "I suppose, if the boy
can do without praise and thanks, we can be as
public-spirited as he."
There was a general round of applause, at
which the peacocks looked a little sulky; and
the good-natured jay, to change the subject,
began:
Do fetch them, and then we can see how
they look."
It was an eager band that climbed, fluttered,
and flew to the palace gate.
Why, what is this ? exclaimed the ravens,
coming in just as the others were admiring the
effect of the rich rug and the little table, where
Phil was carefully placing his cherished goblet.
" Why, how well it looks! It certainly is an
improvement to have some of the furniture in
the room."
It was the magpie who found words to ex-
plain the change of plan, to which the ravens
listened gravely.
"Well, after all, the scheme has many






The Coming of the King


merits," began the head raven; "I don't
know whether our gifts would not create a
better impression seen amid the surroundings
for which they are intended."
I always foresaw the great difficulty of bring-
ing in that heavy throne, and setting it up in a
hurry. We should be too much out of breath to
give the croaking glee effectively just after; while,
if we bring it in now, I am sure we could get
the eagles to help us, because there are several
of them hanging about with nothing to do."
It really will be more comfortable," said a
third raven, "for the King to have his palace
furnished. It has a desolate effect as it is, no
doubt."
Besides," put in another, speaking more
timidly, for he was very young, I think it
really is finer to give without expecting personal
thanks."
That is very well put," said one of the pea-
cocks, approvingly; and expresses a noble
thought."
Only I think it ought to be ascertained,"






The Coming of the King


put in the first raven, "whether the humming-
birds are willing to hang up the embroidered
canopy, because the whole thing ought to be
complete."
A tiny creature, sparkling with green, blue,
and crimson, flew into their midst, and piped out:
"Speaking for myself, I can assure you that
the humming-birds are not likely to be behind
you in generosity; and if you will fetch the
throne, I think I can undertake that our part
of the work shall all be ready for you."
A great hubbub arose in the vast hall, some
birds were flying out to fetch their presents, and
others were informing new-comers of the change
of plan. Much discussion of ways and means
went on in shrill treble and strident bass, but
presently a general cry arose out of the
confusion.
"Let it be so! We will all help. The King
shall find his palace ready for him."
For that day and many days the palace was
the centre of busy life. The steps and the
meadow were cumbered with rich gifts collected






The Coming of the King


from every quarter of the globe. It was fortu-
nate that the happy, untrammelled life of the birds
had given them healthy bodies, sweet tempers,
and hearts unwarped by jealous pride; for in all
the tumult and the bustle no angry word was
spoken, no conflict arose.
After a series of difficulties which were met
and overcome by a spirit of cheerful persever-
ance, each offering stood in its appointed place.
A chorus of satisfaction arose as the birds saw
how each gift-beautiful in itself-was en-
hanced ten-fold in value by its suitability to its
surroundings, and to the use for which it was
intended. Things less valuable in themselves
gained importance by the part they had to play
as accessories to the comfort of the dwelling.
The golden throne, encrusted with rubies, sap-
phires and diamonds, caught new reflections
from the fairy mosaic of the humming-birds'
feathers, where the infinite variety of iridescent
colours gleamed more brightly than the jewels.
The peacocks' ivory bed with its sea-green cur-
tains bordered with the bronze and metallic blue






The Coming of the King


of their tail-feathers would have been as gor-
geous, but not half as comfortable, if the eider-
ducks had omitted their warm 'soft coverlet, or
the geese had refused their feathers to the
downy, luxurious pillows.
Long-haired furs, soft as velvet, brown, white
and dappled, had been brought from the cold
North; rich embroidered hangings, rare plants
and fruits were the contributions of the
migrants from their annual journey to the South.
East and West had been ransacked, that no
object of nature's making, or subtle creation of
man's handiwork, should be unrepresented. All
that love and labour guided by intelligence could
produce had been lavished on the King's palace,
and it was worthy of them all.
Everything was finished, and a motley crowd,
headed by Phil, pressed eagerly into all the
corners of the dwelling, admiring it from roof to
basement. When they assembled in the throne-
room a chorus of congratulation arose. In a
momentary pause a peacock lifted up his power-
ful voice:






The Coming of the King


"My feathered friends, in which category I
wish to include our wingless companion, there is
only one matter for regret to me on this auspici-
ous day. It had been settled, as you all remem-
ber, that each class of birds should, as they
presented their gift, describe its merits and
their efforts in a song. I do not see how this
plan is now to be carried out, and yet I think it
would be a mistake if the musical part of the
reception were to be entirely omitted."
A flutter arose among the audience, and for
some little time no suggestion was offered.
Then the jay-one of Phil's earliest friends-
took up the parable.
"We ought to have one song, and I know
who ought to sing it. We owe all this arrange-
ment to the example of one amongst us," here
he hopped affectionately on to Phil's shoulder;
"I am sure you will all agree that this boy shall
speak to the King for the rest of us, and be the
only voice uplifted in the song of welcome."
A chorus of approval arose, but there was
one dissentient voice.






90 The Coming of the King

"Oh! I could not! I could not! You all
sing so much better than I do, and have done so
much more."
"You sing extremely well," said a mottled
thrush encouragingly, "though perhaps in
rather a peculiar manner, but we should be
delighted to help you in any way-by giving
you lessons, or taking the high notes."
"But I am sure that the King would rather
hear you," Phil replied, and there was so much
earnestness in his voice that the birds pressed
him no further.
"Then if you won't sing yourself," croaked
the raven, the least we can do is to let you
choose who is to sing, and what the song
shall be."
Every one waited in silence for Phil's judg-
ment.
"I was thinking," he began in a hesitating
way, "that it would be best if every one took
part in a grand chorus of welcome. You are all
so clever that you could manage it far better
than I; but how would it be if the lark which







The Coming of the King


can fly the highest should hover over the palace
and watch for the King's approach? Then he
could begin the song, and the other birds could
take it up, and all could join in as the King
comes nearer and nearer."
And what part will you take?" asked the
peacock with interest.
"I shall hear it all," was Phil's simple answer.
There was a little pause, as if the words were
fraught with a deeper meaning than Phil in-
tended. When the head peacock broke the
silence his voice had a note of gentleness new
to it:
On behalf of my fellow-singers, I think I
can promise that we peacocks will modulate our
voices so as not to drown the softer notes."
So will we, so will we," burst from many a
group of noisy chattering birds.
Then a lark sprang through the golden arch-
way and soared higher and higher into the blue
vault of heaven. Like the far-off sound of silver
bells his pure notes fell upon their listening ears.
One, by one his companions left the crowd and






The Coming of the King


joined their song to his in a joyous flood of
melody. Then gradually uprose a mighty chorus
from all the hills and forests round, as one after
another the birds lent their dulcet notes to swell
the growing harmony.
Higher and mightier rose the sounding song,
as each soul realising the increase in power and
beauty of the blended notes threw more and
more of passionate delight into the music, which
spurned the earth and vibrated in the lofty
heaven. And Phil, standing alone, heard it all
as he had said.
The voices died away as darkness crept over
the land, and before the glow had faded over-
head silence and sleep reigned in the forest.
Still Phil waited in the lonely palace; too weary
to seek other shelter, he stretched out his tired
limbs, and lay with his head upon the cushions
of the regal chair.
In the early hours of the night a trembling
melody stole through the darkness, and charmed
him from his sleep. It was the nightingale
singing her solitary song as she strained her




































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