Now it chanced that one morning when Frederick and Hi-You were arguing together in a friendly manner over the new uniforms of the Town Guard (to the colours of which Frederick took exception) King Carraway himself passed that way, and being in a good humour stood for a moment listening to them.
“Well, well,” he said at last, “well, well, well.”
In great surprise Hi-You looked up, and then, seeing that it was the King, jumped to his feet and bowed several times.
“Pardon, Your Majesty,” he stammered, “I did not see Your Majesty. I was—I was talking.”
“To a pig,” laughed the King.
“To His Royal Highness Prince Frederick of Milvania,” said Hi-You proudly.
“I beg your pardon,” said the King; “could I trouble you to say that again?”
“His Royal Highness Prince Frederick of Milvania.”
“Yes, that was what it sounded like last time.”
“Frederick,” murmured Hi-You in his friend’s ear, “this is His Majesty King Carraway. He lets me call him Frederick,” he added to the King.
“You don’t mean to tell me,” said His Majesty, pointing to the pig, “that this is Prince Frederick?”
“It is indeed, Sire. Such distressing incidents must often have occurred within Your Majesty’s recollection.”
“They have, yes. Dear me, dear me.”
“Humph,” remarked Frederick, feeling it was time he said something.
“His Royal Highness says that he is very proud to meet so distinguished a monarch as Your Majesty.”
“Did he say that?” asked the King, surprised.
“Undoubtedly, Your Majesty.”
“Very good of him, I’m sure.”
“Humph,” said Frederick again.
“He adds,” explained Hi-You, “that Your Majesty’s great valour is only excelled by the distinction of Your Majesty’s appearance.”
“Dear me,” said the King, “I thought he was merely repeating himself. It seems to me very clever of you to understand so exactly what he is saying.”
“Humph,” said Frederick, feeling that it was about acorn time again.
“His Royal Highness is kind enough to say that we are very old friends.”
“Yes, of course, that must make a difference. One soon picks it up, no doubt. But we must not be inhospitable to so distinguished a visitor. Certainly he must stay with us at the Palace. And you had better come along too, my man, for it may well be that without your aid some of His Royal Highness’s conversation would escape us. Prince Frederick of Milvania—dear me, dear me. This will be news for Her Royal Highness.”
So, leaving the rest of the herd to look after itself, as it was quite capable of doing, Frederick and Hi-You went to the Palace.