“Now, my little folks,” said the king, “I want to ask you some ques-tions, and the child who gives the best answer shall have a prize.”
Then he held up an orange so that all the children could see.
“You know that we all live in the king-dom of Prussia,” he said; “but tell me, to what king-dom does this orange belong?”
The children were puz-zled. They looked at one another, and sat very still for a little while. Then a brave, bright boy spoke up and said,—
“It belongs to the veg-e-ta-ble kingdom, sir.”
“Why so, my lad?” asked the king.
“It is the fruit of a plant, and all plants belong to that kingdom,” said the boy.
The king was pleased. “You are quite right,” he said; “and you shall have the orange for your prize.”
He tossed it gayly to the boy. “Catch it if you can!” he said.
Then he took a yellow gold piece from his pocket, and held it up so that it glit-tered in the sunlight.
“Now to what kingdom does this belong?” he asked.
Another bright boy answered quick-ly, “To the min-er-al kingdom, sir! All metals belong to that kingdom.”
“That is a good answer,” said the king. “The gold piece is your prize.”
The children were de-light-ed. With eager faces they waited to hear what the stranger would say next.
“I will ask you only one more question,” said the king, “and it is an easy one.” Then he stood up, and said, “Tell me, my little folks, to what kingdom do I belong?”
The bright boys were puz-zled now. Some thought of saying, “To the kingdom of Prussia.” Some wanted to say, “To the animal kingdom.” But they were a little afraid, and all kept still.
At last a tiny blue-eyed child looked up into the king’s smiling face, and said in her simple way,—
“I think to the kingdom of heaven.”
King Frederick William stooped down and lifted the little maiden in his arms. Tears were in his eyes as he kissed her, and said, “So be it, my child! So be it.”
There was once a rich old man who was called the Bar-me-cide. He lived in a beautiful palace in the midst of flowery gardens. He had every-thing that heart could wish.
In the same land there was a poor man whose name was Schac-a-bac. His clothing was rags, and his food was the scraps which other people had thrown away. But he had a light heart, and was as happy as a king.
Once when Schac-a-bac had not had anything to eat for a long time, he thought that he would go and ask the Bar-me-cide to help him.
The servant at the door said, “Come in and talk with our master. He will not send you away hungry.”
Schacabac went in, and passed through many beautiful rooms, looking for the Barmecide. At last he came to a grand hall where there were soft carpets on the floor, and fine pictures on the walls, and pleasant couches to lie down upon.