“With the passing of the years the Queen died, and the King decided to marry again. Great preparations for the ceremony were begun at Westminster Abbey, where the wedding was to take place. The old hatter became greatly excited when he heard the news. His addled wits presently hit upon a wonderful scheme by which he could both honour and serve his sovereign: He would make the King a hat to wear at his wedding!”
“I guess he must ’ve been a good hatter, after all,” the Little Chap murmured, in a tone of conviction.
“Perhaps, in his time,” his father conceded. “But you must remember he now was old and foolish. His materials were merely such odds and ends as he could gather together, and the result was very disreputable-looking. But in his rheumy old eyes it was the most wonderful hat ever designed for a monarch. He carefully wrapped it in a soiled old cloth and started out to present it to the King. At the palace gates the guards refused him admittance, and cruelly laughed in his face. He tried every means he could think of to have the hat reach its destination. Once he stopped the Court Chamberlain on the street, only to be rebuked for his pains. Another time he waylaid a peer, as he left the House of Lords, and was threatened with arrest. Foiled in all his attempts, the cracked-brained old fellow impatiently awaited the wedding ceremony. At last the great day arrived. All the bells of old London were ringing blithely as the gilded coach, drawn by ten white horses, deposited the King at Westminster Abbey. In the forefront of the vast throng surrounding the entrance stood the hatter.”
“And did he have the hat with him?” asked the Little Chap.
“Yes, Son, he had it with him. And when the King entered the portals of the ancient Abbey, the hatter somehow broke through the line of guards and ran after him crying ’Your Majesty! Your Majesty! Deign to accept this token of a loyal subject’s regard!’
“The King turned in surprise And when he saw the ragged old fellow tending him the ridiculous-looking hat, he flew into a great rage and cried angrily: ’How comes this varlet here, interrupting his Sovereign’s nuptials and desecrating our Tomb of Kings? Away with him to prison, and let him repent his insolence as he rots in a dungeon!’”
“Why did he do that, Daddy?”
“The Sovereign, Son, was a very proud king, while the hatter was both poor and humble. And at his words the guards hurried forward and hustled the old man out of the Abbey, where his presence was an insult to the Great. In the struggle the hat rolled into the gutter, and one of the King’s white horses put his hoof through it. The hatter cried like a child when he saw the work of his loving hands thus ruined. But they carried him off to prison and kept him shut up there until he died and paid the penalty for his crime of desecrating the Abbey.”
“Oh, the poor old hatter! But is that the end of the story, Daddy?” The Little Chap’s disappointment was markedly pronounced.