When the strange fact came to be known, there was a terrible commotion in the palace. The occasion of its discovery by the king was naturally a repetition of the nurse’s experience. Astonished that he felt no weight when the child was laid in his arms, he began to wave her up and—not down; for she slowly ascended to the ceiling as before, and there remained floating in perfect comfort and satisfaction, as was testified by her peals of tiny laughter. The king stood staring up in speechless amazement, and trembled so that his beard shook like grass in the wind. At last, turning to the queen, who was just as horror-struck as himself, he said, gasping, staring, and stammering:
“She can’t be ours, queen!”
Now the queen was much cleverer than the king, and had begun already to suspect that “this effect defective came by cause.”
“I am sure she is ours,” answered she. “But we ought to have taken better care of her at the christening. People who were never invited ought not to have been present.”
“Oh, ho!” said the king, tapping his forehead with his forefinger, “I have it all. I’ve found her out. Don’t you see it, queen? Princess Makemnoit has bewitched her.”
“That’s just what I say,” answered the queen.
“I beg your pardon, my love; I did not hear you. John! bring the steps I get on my throne with.”
For he was a little king with a great throne, like many other kings.
The throne-steps were brought, and set upon the dining-table, and John got upon the top of them. But, he could not reach the little princess, who lay like a baby-laughter-cloud in the air, exploding continuously.
“Take the tongs, John,” said his Majesty; and getting up on the table, he handed them to him.
John could reach the baby now, and the little princess was handed down by the tongs.
Where Is She?
One fine summer day, a month after these her first adventures, during which time she had been very carefully watched, the princess was lying on the bed in the queen’s own chamber, fast asleep. One of the windows was open, for it was noon, and the day was so sultry that the little girl was wrapped in nothing less ethereal than slumber itself. The queen came into the room, and not observing that the baby was on the bed, opened another window. A frolicsome fairy wind, which had been watching for a chance of mischief, rushed in at the one window, and taking its way over the bed where the child was lying, caught her up, and rolling and floating her along like a piece of flue, or a dandelion seed, carried her with it through the opposite window, and away. The queen went down-stairs, quite ignorant of the loss she had herself occasioned.
When the nurse returned, she supposed that her Majesty had carried her off, and, dreading a scolding, delayed making inquiry about her. But hearing nothing, she grew uneasy, and went at length to the queen’s boudoir, where she found her Majesty.