Part 2 out of 3
But the prince seemed to be the favorite, for at all games of skill
and trials at arms he was invariably the victor, while in the evenings,
when the grand ball-room was lighted up and the musicians played sweet
music, none was so graceful in the dance as the fairy prince.
Nerle soon tired of the games and dancing, for he had been accustomed
to them at his father's castle; and moreover he was shy in the society
of ladies; so before many weeks had passed he began to mope and show a
One day the prince noticed his esquire's dismal expression of
countenance, and asked the cause of it.
"Why," said Nerle, "here I have left my home to seek worries and
troubles, and have found but the same humdrum life that existed at my
father's castle. Here our days are made smooth and pleasant, and
there is no excitement or grief, whatever. You have become a
carpet-knight, Prince Marvel, and think more of bright eyes than of
daring deeds. So, if you will release me from your service I will
seek further adventures."
"Nay," returned the prince, "we will go together; for I, too, am tired
of this life of pleasure."
So next morning Marvel sought the presence of King Terribus and said:
"I have come to bid your Majesty adieu, for my esquire and I are about
to leave your dominions."
At first the king laughed, and his long nose began to sway from side
to side. Then, seeing the prince was in earnest, his Majesty frowned
and grew disturbed. Finally he said:
"I must implore you to remain my guests a short time longer. No one
has ever before visited me in my mountain home, and I do not wish to
lose the pleasure of your society so soon."
"Nevertheless, we must go," answered the prince, briefly.
"Are you not contented?" asked Terribus. "Ask whatever you may
desire, and it shall be granted you."
"We desire adventures amid new scenes," said Marvel, "and these you
can not give us except by permission to depart."
Seeing his guest was obstinate the king ceased further argument and said:
"Very well; go if you wish. But I shall hope to see you return to us
The prince paid no heed to this peculiar speech, but left the hall and
hurried to the courtyard of the castle, where Nerle was holding the
horses in readiness for their journey.
Standing around were many rows and files of the Gray Men, and when
they reached the marble roadway they found it lined with motionless
forms of the huge giants. But no one interfered with them in any way,
although both Prince Marvel and Nerle knew that every eye followed
them as they rode forward.
Curiously enough, they had both forgotten from what direction they had
approached the castle; for, whereas they had at that time noticed but
one marble roadway leading to the entrance, they now saw that there were
several of these, each one connecting with a path through the mountains.
"It really doesn't matter which way we go, so long as we get away from
the Kingdom of Spor," said Prince Marvel; so he selected a path by
chance, and soon they were riding through a mountain pass.
The pleased, expectant look on Nerle's face had gradually turned to
one of gloom.
"I hoped we should have a fight to get away," he said, sadly; "and in
that case I might have suffered considerable injury and pain. But no
one has injured us in any way, and perhaps King Terribus is really
glad to be rid of us."
"With good reason, too, if such is the case," laughed Marvel; "for,
mark you, Nerle, the king has discovered we are more powerful than he
is, and had he continued to oppose us, we might have destroyed his
On they rode through the rough hill paths, winding this way and that,
until they lost all sense of the direction in which they were going.
"Never mind," said the prince; "so long as we get farther and farther
away from the ugly Terribus I shall be satisfied."
"Perhaps we are getting into more serious danger than ever," answered
Nerle, brightening; "one of the giants told me the other day that near
the foot of these mountains is the Kingdom of the High Ki of Twi."
"Who is the High Ki of Twi?" asked Prince Marvel.
"No one knows," answered Nerle.
"And what is the Kingdom of Twi like?"
"No one knows that," answered Nerle.
"Then," returned the prince, with a smile, "if by chance we visit the
place we shall know more than any one else."
At noon they ate luncheon by the wayside, Nerle having filled his
pouch by stealth at the breakfast table. There were great fragments
of rock lying all about them, and the sun beat down so fiercely that
the heat reflected from the rocks was hard to bear. So the travelers
did not linger over their meal, but remounted and rode away as soon as
possible. When the sun began to get lower in the sky the rocks beside
the path threw the riders into shadow, so that their journey became
more pleasant. They rode along, paying little attention to the way,
but talking and laughing merrily together, until it began to grow dark.
"Does this path never end?" asked Prince Marvel, suddenly. "We ought
to reach some place where men dwell before long, else we shall be
obliged to spend the night among these rocks."
"And then perhaps the wolves will attack us," said Nerle, cheerfully,
"and tear us into pieces with their sharp teeth and claws."
But even as he spoke they rode around a turn in the path and saw a
sight that made them pause in astonishment. For just before them rose
the castle of King Terribus, and along both sides of the marble walk
leading up to it were ranged the lines of giants, exactly as they had
stood in the morning.
Nerle turned around in his saddle. Sure enough, there were the Gray
Men in the rear--stepping from behind every boulder and completely
filling the rocky pathway.
"Well, what shall we do?" asked the esquire; "fight?"
"No, indeed!" returned Prince Marvel, laughing at his friend's eager
face. "It appears the path we chose winds around in a circle, and so
has brought us back to our starting-point. So we must make the best of a
bad blunder and spend another night with our ugly friend King Terribus."
They rode forward through the rows of giants to the castle, where the
ever-courteous servants took their horses and escorted them to their
former handsome apartments with every mark of respect.
No one seemed in the least surprised at their speedy return, and this
fact at first puzzled Nerle, and then made him suspicious.
After bathing and dusting their clothing they descended to the banquet
hall, where King Terribus sat upon his gray stone throne and welcomed
them with quiet courtesy.
The sight of the king's crimson skin and deformed face sent a thrill
of repugnance through Prince Marvel, and under the impulse of a sudden
thought he extended his hand toward Terribus and whispered a magic
word which was unheard by any around him.
Nerle did not notice the prince's swift gesture nor the whispered
word; but he was staring straight at Terribus at the time, and he saw
with surprise the eye on the top of the king's head move down toward
his forehead, and the eye in the center of his forehead slide slightly
toward the left, and the elephant-like nose shrink and shorten at the
same time. Also it seemed to him that the king's skin was not so
crimson in color as before, and that a thin growth of hair had covered
However, no one else appeared to notice any change--least of all
Terribus--so Nerle seated himself at the table and began to eat.
"It was very kind of you to return so soon to my poor castle," said
the king to Prince Marvel, in his sweet voice.
"We could not help it," laughed the prince, in reply; "for the road
wound right and left until we knew not which way we traveled; and then
it finally circled around again to your castle. But to-morrow we
shall seek a new path and bid you farewell forever."
"Still," remarked the king, gravely, "should you again miss your way,
I shall be glad to welcome your return."
The prince bowed politely by way of reply, and turned to address the
little maiden he had once saved from death by poison. And so in
feasting, dancing and laughter the evening passed pleasantly enough to
the prince, and it was late when he called Nerle to attend him to
12. The Gift of Beauty
The following morning Marvel and Nerle once more set out to leave the
Kingdom of Spor and its ugly king. They selected another pathway
leading from the castle and traveled all day, coming at nightfall into
view of the place whence they had started, with its solemn rows of
giants and Gray Men standing ready to receive them.
This repetition of their former experience somewhat annoyed the
prince, while Nerle's usually despondent face wore a smile.
"I see trouble ahead," murmured the esquire, almost cheerfully.
"Since the king can not conquer us by force he intends to do it
Marvel did not reply, but greeted the king quietly, while Terribus
welcomed their return as calmly as if he well knew they could not
That evening the prince made another pass toward the king with his
hand and muttered again the magic word. Nerle was watching, and saw
the upper eye of Terribus glide still farther down his forehead and
the other eye move again toward the left. The swaying nose shrank to
a few inches in length, and the skin that had once been so brilliantly
crimson turned to a dull red color. This time the courtiers and
ladies in waiting also noticed the change in the king's features, but
were afraid to speak of it, as any reference to their monarch's
personal appearance was by law punishable by death. Terribus saw the
startled looks directed upon him, and raised his hand to feel of his
nose and eyes; but thinking that if any change in his appearance had
taken place, he must be uglier than before, he only frowned and turned
away his head.
The next day the king's guests made a third attempt to leave his dominions,
but met with no better success than before, for a long and tedious ride
only brought them back to their starting-place in the evening.
This time Prince Marvel was really angry, and striding into the king's
presence he reproached him bitterly, saying:
"Why do you prevent us from leaving your kingdom? We have not injured
you in any way."
"You have seen ME, returned Terribus, calmly, "and I do not intend you
shall go back to the world and tell people how ugly I am."
The prince looked at him, and could not repress a smile. The two eyes
of the king, having been twice removed from their first position, were
now both in his forehead, instead of below it, and one was much higher
than the other. And the nose, although small when compared to what it
had been, still resembled an elephant's trunk. Other changes had been
made for the better, but Terribus was still exceedingly repulsive to
Seeing the prince look at him and smile, the king flew into a fury of
anger and declared that the strangers should never, while they lived,
be permitted to leave his castle again. Prince Marvel became
thoughtful at this, reflecting that the king's enmity all arose from
his sensitiveness about his ugly appearance, and this filled the
youthful knight with pity rather than resentment.
When they had all assembled at the evening banquet the prince, for a
third time, made a mystic pass at the king and whispered a magic word.
And behold! this time the charm was complete. For the two front eyes
of Terribus fell into their proper places, his nose became straight
and well formed, and his skin took on a natural, healthy color.
Moreover, he now had a fine head of soft brown hair, with eyebrows and
eyelashes to match, and his head was shapely and in proportion to his
body. As for the eye that had formerly been in the back of his head,
it had disappeared completely.
So amazed were the subjects of the transformed king--who was now quite
handsome to look upon--that they began to murmur together excitedly,
and something in the new sensations he experienced gave to the king's
face likewise an expression of surprise. Knowing from their pleased
looks that he must have improved in appearance, he found courage to
raise his hand to his nose, and found it well formed. Then he touched
his eyes, and realized they were looking straight out from his face,
like those of other people.
For some moments after making these discoveries the king remained
motionless, a smile of joy gradually spreading over his features.
Then he said, aloud:
"What has happened? Why do you all look so startled?"
"Your Majesty is no longer ugly," replied Marvel, laughingly; "so that
when Nerle and I leave your kingdom we can proclaim nothing less than
praise of your dignified and handsome appearance."
"Is my face indeed pleasing?" demanded the king, eagerly.
"It is!" cried the assembled courtiers and ladies, as with one voice.
"Bring me a mirror!" said the king. "I shall look at my reflection
for the first time in many years."
The mirror being brought King Terribus regarded himself for a long
time with pleased astonishment; and then, his sensitive nature being
overcome by the shock of his good fortune, he burst into a flood of
tears and rushed from the room.
The courtiers and ladies now bestowed many grateful thanks upon Prince
Marvel for his kind deed; for they realized that thereafter their
lives would be safer from the king's anger and much pleasanter in
"Terribus is not bad by nature," said one; "but he brooded upon his
ugliness so much that the least thing served to throw him into a violent
passion, and our lives were never safe from one day to another."
By and by two giants entered the hall and carried away the throne of
gray stone where Terribus had been accustomed to sit; and other slaves
brought a gorgeous throne of gold, studded with precious jewels, which
they put in its place. And after a time the king himself returned to
the room, his simple gray gown replaced by flowing robes of purple,
with rich embroideries, such as he had not worn for many years.
"My people," said he, addressing those present with kindness and
dignity, "it seems to me fitting that a handsome king should be
handsomely attired, and an ugly one clothed simply. For years I have
been so terrible in feature that I dared not even look at my own image
in a mirror. But now, thanks to the gracious magic of my guest, I
have become like other men, and hereafter you will find my rule as
kind as it was formerly cruel. To-night, in honor of this joyous
occasion, we shall feast and make merry, and it is my royal command
that you all do honor and reverence to the illustrious Prince Marvel!"
A loud shout of approval greeted this speech, and the evening was
merry indeed. Terribus joined freely in the revelry, laughing as
gaily as the lightest-hearted damsel present.
It was nearly morning before they all retired, and as they sought
their beds Nerle asked the prince in a voice that sounded like an
"Why did you give the king beauty, after his treatment of us?"
Marvel looked at the reproachful face of his esquire and smiled.
"When you are older," said he, "you will find that often there are
many ways to accomplish a single purpose. The king's ugliness was the
bar to our leaving his country, for he feared our gossip. So the
easiest way for us to compass our escape was to take away his reason
for detaining us. Thus I conquered the king in my own way, and at the
same time gained his gratitude and friendship."
"Will he allow us to depart in the morning?" inquired Nerle.
"I think so," said Marvel.
It was late when they rose from their slumbers; but, having
breakfasted, the prince's first act was to seek the king.
"We wish to leave your kingdom," said he. "Will you let us go?"
Terribus grasped the hand of his guest and pressed it with fervor,
while tears of gratitude stood in his eyes.
"I should prefer that you remain with me always, and be my friend," he
answered. "But if you choose to leave me I shall not interfere in any
way with your wishes."
Prince Marvel looked at him thoughtfully, and then said: "My time on
this island is short. In a few months Prince Marvel will have passed
out of the knowledge of men, and his name will be forgotten. Before
then I hope to visit the Kingdoms of Dawna and Auriel and Plenta; so I
must not delay, but beg you will permit me to depart at once."
"Very well," answered Terribus. "Come with me, and I shall show you
He led the prince and Nerle to a high wall of rock, and placing his
hand upon its rough surface, touched a hidden spring. Instantly an
immense block of stone began to swing backward, disclosing a passage
large enough for a man on horseback to ride through.
"This is the one road that leads out of my kingdom," said Terribus.
"The others all begin and end at the castle. So that unless you know
the secret of this passage you could never escape from Spor."
"But where does this road lead?" asked Marvel.
"To the Kingdom of Auriel, which you desire to visit. It is not a
straight road, for it winds around the Land of Twi, so it will carry
you a little out of your way."
"What is the Land of Twi?" inquired the prince.
"A small country hidden from the view of all travelers," said
Terribus. "No one has ever yet found a way to enter the land of Twi;
yet there is a rumor that it is ruled by a mighty personage called the
"And does the rumor state what the High Ki of Twi is like?"
"No, indeed," returned the king, smiling, "so it will do you no good
to be curious. And now farewell, and may good luck attend you. Yet
bear in mind the fact that King Terribus of Spor owes you a mighty
debt of gratitude; and if you ever need my services, you have but to
call on me, and I shall gladly come to your assistance."
"I thank you," said Marvel, "but there is small chance of my needing
help. Farewell, and may your future life be pleasant and happy!"
With this he sprang to the saddle of his prancing charger and,
followed by Nerle, rode slowly through the stone arch. The courtiers
and ladies had flocked from the palace to witness their departure, and
the giants and dwarfs and Gray Men were drawn up in long lines to
speed the king's guests. So it was a brilliant sight that Marvel and
Nerle looked back on; but once they were clear of the arch, the great
stone rolled back into its place, shutting them out completely from
the Kingdom of Spor, with its turreted castle and transformed king.
13. The Hidden Kingdom of Twi
Knowing that at last they were free to roam according to their desire,
the travelers rode gaily along the paths, taking but scant heed of
"Our faces are set toward new adventures," remarked the prince. "Let
us hope they will prove more pleasant than the last."
"To be sure!" responded Nerle. "Let us hope, at any rate, that we
shall suffer more privations and encounter more trouble than we did in
that mountainous Kingdom of Spor." Then he added: "For one reason, I
regret you are my master."
"What is that reason?" asked the prince, turning to smile upon his esquire.
"You have a way of overcoming all difficulties without any trouble
whatsoever, and that deprives me of any chance of coming to harm while
in your company."
"Cheer up, my boy!" cried Marvel. "Did I not say there are new
adventures before us? We may not come through them so easily as we
came through the others."
"That is true," replied Nerle; "it is always best to hope." And then
he inquired: "Why do you stop here, in the middle of the path?"
"Because the path has ended rather suddenly," answered Marvel. "Here
is a thick hedge of prickly briers barring our way."
Nerle looked over his master's shoulder and saw that a great hedge,
high and exceedingly thick, cut off all prospect of their advancing.
"This is pleasant," said he; "but I might try to force our way through
the hedge. The briers would probably prick me severely, and that
would be delightful."
"Try it!" the prince returned, with twinkling eyes.
Nerle sprang from his horse to obey, but at the first contact with the
briers he uttered a howl of pain and held up his hands, which were
bleeding in a dozen places from the wounds of the thorns.
"Ah, that will content you for a time, I trust," said Marvel. "Now
follow me, and we will ride along beside the hedge until we find an
opening. For either it will come to an end or there will prove to be
a way through it to the other side."
So they rode alongside the hedge for hour after hour; yet it did not
end, nor could they espy any way to get through the thickly matted
briers. By and by night fell, and they tethered their horses to some
shrubs, where there were a few scanty blades of grass for them to
crop, and then laid themselves down upon the ground, with bare rocks
for pillows, where they managed to sleep soundly until morning.
They had brought a supply of food in their pouches, and on this they
breakfasted, afterward continuing their journey beside the hedge.
At noon Prince Marvel uttered an exclamation of surprise and stopped
"What is it?" asked Nerle.
"I have found the handkerchief with which you wiped the blood from
your hands yesterday morning, and then carelessly dropped," replied
the prince. "This proves that we have made a complete circle around
this hedge without finding a way to pass through it."
"In that case," said Nerle, "we had better leave the hedge and go in
"Not so," declared Marvel. "The hedge incloses some unknown country,
and I am curious to find out what it is."
"But there is no opening," remonstrated Nerle.
"Then we must make one. Wouldn't you like to enjoy a little more pain?"
"Thank you," answered Nerle, "my hands are still smarting very
comfortably from the pricks of yesterday."
"Therefore I must make the attempt myself," said the prince, and
drawing his sword he whispered a queer word to it, and straightway
began slashing at the hedge.
The brambles fell fast before his blade, and when he had cut a big
heap of branches from the hedge Nerle dragged them to one side, and
the prince began again.
It was marvelous how thick the hedge proved. Only a magic sword could
have done this work and remained sharp, and only a fairy arm could
have proved strong enough to hew through the tough wood. But the
magic sword and fairy arm were at work, and naught could resist them.
After a time the last branches were severed and dragged from the path,
and then the travelers rode their horses through the gap into the
unknown country beyond.
They saw at first glance that it was a land of great beauty; but after
that one look both Prince Marvel and Nerle paused and rubbed their
eyes, to assure themselves that their vision was not blurred.
Before them were two trees, exactly alike. And underneath the trees
two cows were grazing--each a perfect likeness of the other. At
their left were two cottages, with every door and window and chimney
the exact counterpart of another. Before these houses two little boys
were playing, evidently twins, for they not only looked alike and
dressed alike, but every motion one made was also made by the other at
the same time and in precisely the same way. When one laughed the
other laughed, and when one stubbed his toe and fell down, the other did
likewise, and then they both sat up and cried lustily at the same time.
At this two women--it was impossible to tell one from the
other--rushed out of the two houses, caught up the two boys, shook and
dusted them in precisely the same way, and led them by their ears back
into the houses.
Again the astonished travelers rubbed their eyes, and then Prince
Marvel looked at Nerle and said:
"I thought at first that I saw everything double, but there seems to
be only one of YOU."
"And of you," answered the boy. "But see! there are two hills ahead
of us, and two paths lead from the houses over the hills! How strange
it all is!"
Just then two birds flew by, close together and perfect mates; and the
cows raised their heads and "mooed" at the same time; and two
men--also twins--came over the two hills along the two paths with two
dinner-pails in their hands and entered the two houses. They were met
at the doors by the two women, who kissed them exactly at the same
time and helped them off with their coats with the same motions, and
closed the two doors with two slams at the same instant.
Nerle laughed. "What sort of country have we got into?" he asked.
"Let us find out," replied the prince, and riding up to one of the
houses he knocked on the door with the hilt of his sword.
Instantly the doors of both houses flew open, and both men appeared in
the doorways. Both started back in amazement at sight of the
strangers, and both women shrieked and both little boys began to cry.
Both mothers boxed the children's ears, and both men gasped out:
"Who--who are you?"
Their voices were exactly alike, and their words were spoken in
unison. Prince Marvel replied, courteously:
"We are two strangers who have strayed into your country. But I do
not understand why our appearance should so terrify you."
"Why--you are singular! There is only half of each of you!" exclaimed
the two men, together.
"Not so," said the prince, trying hard not to laugh in their faces.
"We may be single, while you appear to be double; but each of us is
"Perfect! And only half of you!" cried the men. And again the two
women, who were looking over their husbands' shoulders, screamed at
sight of the strangers; and again the two boys, who were clinging to
their mothers' dresses in the same positions, began to cry.
"We did not know such strange people existed!" said the two men, both
staring at the strangers and then wiping the beads of perspiration
from their two brows with two faded yellow handkerchiefs.
"Nor did we!" retorted the prince. "I assure you we are as much
surprised as you are."
Nerle laughed again at this, and to hear only one of the strangers
speak and the other only laugh seemed to terrify the double people
anew. So Prince Marvel quickly asked:
"Please tell us what country this is?"
"The Land of Twi," answered both men, together.
"Oh! the Land of Twi. And why is the light here so dim?"
continued the prince.
"Dim?" repeated the men, as if surprised; "why, this is twilight,
"Of course," said Nerle. "I hadn't thought of that. We are in the
long hidden Land of Twi, which all men have heard of, but no man has
"And who may you be?" questioned the prince, looking from one man
to the other, curiously.
"We are Twis," they answered.
"Twis--inhabitants of Twi."
"It's the same thing," laughed Nerle. "You see everything twice in
"Are none of your people single?" asked Prince Marvel.
"Single," returned the men, as if perplexed. "We don't understand."
"Are you all double?--or are some of you just one?" said the prince,
who found it difficult to put his question plainly.
"What does 'one' mean?" asked the men. "There is no such word as
'one' in our language."
"They have no need of such a word," declared Nerle.
"We are only poor laborers," explained the men. "But over the hills
lie the cities of Twi, where the Ki and the Ki-Ki dwell, and also the
"Ah!" said Marvel, "I've heard of your High Ki. Who is he?"
The men shook their heads, together and with the same motion.
"We have never seen the glorious High Ki," they answered. "The sight
of their faces is forbidden. None but the Ki and the Ki-Ki has seen
the Supreme Rulers and High Ki."
"I'm getting mixed," said Nerle. "All this about the Ki and the Ki-Ki
and the High Ki makes me dizzy. Let's go on to the city and explore it."
"That is a good suggestion," replied the prince. "Good by, my
friends," he added, addressing the men.
They both bowed, and although they still seemed somewhat frightened
they answered him civilly and in the same words, and closed their
doors at the same time.
So Prince Marvel and Nerle rode up the double path to the hills, and
the two cows became frightened and ran away with the same swinging
step, keeping an exact space apart. And when they were a safe
distance they both stopped, looked over their right shoulders, and
"mooed" at the same instant.
14. The Ki and the Ki-Ki
From the tops of the hills the travelers caught their first glimpse of
the wonderful cities of Twi. Two walls surrounded the cities, and in
the walls were two gates just alike. Within the inclosures stood many
houses, but all were built in pairs, from the poorest huts to the most
splendid palaces. Every street was double, the pavements running side
by side. There were two lamp-posts on every corner, and in the dim
twilight that existed these lamp-posts were quite necessary. If there
were trees or bushes anywhere, they invariably grew in pairs, and if a
branch was broken on one it was sure to be broken on the other, and
dead leaves fell from both trees at identically the same moment.
Much of this Marvel and Nerle learned after they had entered the
cities, but the view from the hills showed plainly enough that the
"double" plan existed everywhere and in every way in this strange land.
They followed the paths down to the gates of the walls, where two
pairs of soldiers rushed out and seized their horses by the bridles.
These soldiers all seemed to be twins, or at least mates, and each one
of each pair was as like the other as are two peas growing in the same
pod. If one had a red nose the other's was red in the same degree,
and the soldiers that held the bridles of Nerle's horse both had their
left eyes bruised and blackened, as from a blow of the same force.
These soldiers, as they looked upon Nerle and the prince, seemed fully
as much astonished and certainly more frightened than their prisoners.
They were dressed in bright yellow uniforms with green buttons,
and the soldiers who had arrested the prince had both torn their
left coat-sleeves and had patches of the same shape upon the seats
of their trousers.
"How dare you stop us, fellows?" asked the prince, sternly.
The soldiers holding his horse both turned and looked inquiringly at
the soldiers holding Nerle's horse; and these turned to look at a double
captain who came out of two doors in the wall and walked up to them.
"Such things were never before heard of!" said the two captains,
their startled eyes fixed upon the prisoners. "We must take them
to the Ki and the Ki-Ki."
"Why so?" asked Prince Marvel.
"Because," replied the officers, "they are our rulers, under grace
of the High Ki, and all unusual happenings must be brought to their
notice. It is our law, you know--the law of the Kingdom of Twi."
"Very well," said Marvel, quietly; "take us where you will; but if
any harm is intended us you will be made to regret it."
"The Ki and the Ki-Ki will decide," returned the captains gravely,
their words sounding at the same instant.
And then the two pairs of soldiers led the horses through the double
streets, the captains marching ahead with drawn swords, and crowds
of twin men and twin women coming from the double doors of the
double houses to gaze upon the strange sight of men and horses who
were not double.
Presently they came upon a twin palace with twin turrets rising high
into the air; and before the twin doors the prisoners dismounted.
Marvel was escorted through one door and Nerle through another, and
then they saw each other going down a double hallway to a room with a
Passing through this they found themselves in a large hall with two
domes set side by side in the roof. The domes were formed of stained
glass, and the walls of the hall were ornamented by pictures in pairs,
each pair showing identically the same scenes. This, was, of course,
reasonable enough in such a land, where two people would always look
at two pictures at the same time and admire them in the same way with
the same thoughts.
Beneath one of the domes stood a double throne, on which sat the Ki of
Twi--a pair of gray-bearded and bald-headed men who were lean and lank
and stoop-shouldered. They had small eyes, black and flashing, long
hooked noses, great pointed ears, and they were smoking two pipes from
which the smoke curled in exactly the same circles and clouds.
Beneath the other dome sat the Ki-Ki of Twi, also on double thrones,
similar to those of the Ki. The Ki-Ki were two young men, and had
golden hair combed over their brows and "banged" straight across; and
their eyes were blue and mild in expression, and their cheeks pink and
soft. The Ki-Ki were playing softly upon a pair of musical
instruments that resembled mandolins, and they were evidently trying
to learn a new piece of music, for when one Ki-Ki struck a false note
the other Ki-Ki struck the same false note at the same time, and the
same expression of annoyance came over the two faces at the same moment.
When the prisoners entered, the pairs of captains and soldiers bowed
low to the two pairs of rulers, and the Ki exclaimed--both in the same
voice of surprise:
"Great Kika-koo! what have we here?"
"Most wonderful prisoners, your Highnesses," answered the captains.
"We found them at your cities' gates and brought them to you at once.
They are, as your Highnesses will see, each singular, and but half of
what he should be."
"'Tis so!" cried the double Ki, in loud voices, and slapping their
right thighs with their right palms at the same time. "Most
remarkable! Most remarkable!"
"I don't see anything remarkable about it," returned Prince Marvel,
calmly. "It is you, who are not singular, but double, that seem
strange and outlandish."
"Perhaps--perhaps!" said the two old men, thoughtfully. "It is what
we are not accustomed to that seems to us remarkable. Eh, Ki-Ki?"
they added, turning to the other rulers.
The Ki-Ki, who had not spoken a word but continued to play softly,
simply nodded their blond heads carelessly; so the Ki looked again at
the prisoners and asked:
"How did you get here?"
"We cut a hole through the prickly hedge," replied Prince Marvel.
"A hole through the hedge! Great Kika-koo!" cried the gray-bearded Ki;
"is there, then, anything or any place on the other side of the hedge?"
"Why, of course! The world is there," returned the prince, laughing.
The old men looked puzzled, and glanced sharply from their little
black eyes at their prisoners.
"We thought nothing existed outside the hedge of Twi," they answered,
simply. "But your presence here proves we were wrong. Eh! Ki-Ki?"
This last was again directed toward the pair of musicians, who
continued to play and only nodded quietly, as before.
"Now that you are here," said the twin Ki, stroking their two gray
beards with their two left hands in a nervous way, "it must be evident
to you that you do not belong here. Therefore you must go back
through the hedge again and stay on the other side. Eh, Ki-Ki?"
The Ki-Ki still continued playing, but now spoke the first words the
prisoners had heard from them.
"They must die," said the Ki-Ki, in soft and agreeable voices.
"Die!" echoed the twin Ki, "die? Great Kika-koo! And why so?"
"Because, if there is a world on the other side of the hedge, they
would tell on their return all about the Land of Twi, and others of
their kind would come through the hedge from curiosity and annoy us.
We can not be annoyed. We are busy."
Having delivered this speech both the Ki-Ki went on playing the new
tune, as if the matter was settled.
"Nonsense!" retorted the old Ki, angrily. "You are getting more and
more bloodthirsty every day, our sweet and gentle Ki-Ki! But we are
the Ki--and we say the prisoners shall not die!"
"We say they shall!" answered the youthful Ki-Ki, nodding their two
heads at the same time, with a positive motion. "You may be the Ki,
but we are the Ki-Ki, and your superior."
"Not in this case," declared the old men. "Where life and death are
concerned we have equal powers with you."
"And if we disagree?" asked the players, gently.
"Great Kika-koo! If we disagree the High Ki must judge between us!"
roared the twin Ki, excitedly.
"Quite so," answered the Ki-Ki. "The strangers shall die."
"They shall not die!" stormed the old men, with fierce gestures toward
the others, while both pairs of black eyes flashed angrily.
"Then we disagree, and they must be taken to the High Ki," returned
the blond musicians, beginning to play another tune.
The two Ki rose from their thrones, paced two steps to the right and
three steps to the left, and then sat down again.
"Very well!" they said to the captains, who had listened unmoved to
the quarrel of the rulers; "keep these half-men safe prisoners until
to-morrow morning, and then the Ki-Ki and we ourselves will conduct
them to the mighty High Ki."
At this command the twin captains bowed again to both pairs of
rulers and led Prince Marvel and Nerle from the room. Then they
were escorted along the streets to the twin houses of the captains,
and here the officers paused and scratched their left ears with
"There being only half of each of you," they said, "we do not know how
to lock each of you in double rooms."
"Oh, let us both occupy the same room," said Prince Marvel. "We
"Very well," answered the captains; "we must transgress our usual
customs in any event, so you may as well be lodged as you wish."
So Nerle and the prince were thrust into a large and pleasant room of
one of the twin houses, the double doors were locked upon them by twin
soldiers, and they were left to their own thoughts.
15. The High Ki of Twi
"Tell me, Prince, are we awake or asleep?" asked Nerle, as soon as
they were alone.
"There is no question of our being awake," replied the prince, with
a laugh. "But what a curious country it is--and what a funny people!"
"We can't call them odd or singular," said the esquire, "for
everything is even in numbers and double in appearance. It makes me
giddy to look at them, and I keep feeling of myself to make sure there
is still only one of me."
"You are but half a boy!" laughed the prince--"at least so long as
you remain in the Land of Twi."
"I'd like to get out of it in double-quick time," answered Nerle;
"and we should even now be on the other side of the hedge were it
not for that wicked pair of Ki-Ki, who are determined to kill us."
"It is strange," said the prince, thoughtfully, "that the
fierce-looking old Ki should be our friends and the gentle Ki-Ki our
enemies. How little one can tell from appearances what sort of heart
beats in a person's body!"
Before Nerle could answer the two doors opened and two pairs of
soldiers entered. They drew two small tables before the prince and
two before Nerle, and then other pairs of twin soldiers came and
spread cloths on the tables and set twin platters of meat and bread
and fruit on each of the tables. When the meal had been arranged the
prisoners saw that there was enough for four people instead of two;
and the soldiers realized this also, for they turned puzzled looks
first on the tables and then on the prisoners. Then they shook all their
twin heads gravely and went away, locking the twin doors behind them.
"We have one advantage in being singular," said Nerle, cheerfully;
"and that is we are not likely to starve to death. For we can eat the
portions of our missing twins as well as our own."
"I should think you would enjoy starving," remarked the prince.
"No; I believe I have more exquisite suffering in store for me, since
I have met that gentle pair of Ki-Ki," said Nerle.
While they were eating the two captains came in and sat down in two
chairs. These captains seemed friendly fellows, and after watching
the strangers for a while they remarked:
"We are glad to see you able to eat so heartily; for to-morrow you
will probably die."
"That is by no means certain," replied Marvel, cutting a piece from
one of the twin birds on a platter before him--to the extreme surprise
of the captains, who had always before seen both birds carved alike at
the same time. "Your gray-bearded old Ki say we shall not die."
"True," answered the captains. "But the Ki-Ki have declared you shall."
"Their powers seem to be equal," said Nerle, "and we are to be taken
before the High Ki for judgment."
"Therein lies your danger," returned the captains, speaking in the
same tones and with the same accents on their words. "For it is well
known the Ki-Ki has more influence with the High Ki than the Ki has."
"Hold on!" cried Nerle; "you are making me dizzy again. I can't keep
track of all these Kis."
"What is the High Ki like?" asked Prince Marvel, who was much interested
in the conversation of the captains. But this question the officers
seemed unable to answer. They shook their heads slowly and said:
"The High Ki are not visible to the people of Twi. Only in cases of
the greatest importance are the High Ki ever bothered or even
approached by the Ki and the Ki-Ki, who are supposed to rule the land
according to their own judgment. But if they chance to disagree, then
the matter is carried before the High Ki, who live in a palace
surrounded by high walls, in which there are no gates. Only these
rulers have ever seen the other side of the walls, or know what the
High Ki are like."
"That is strange," said the prince. "But we, ourselves, it seems, are
to see the High Ki to-morrow, and whoever they may chance to be, we
hope to remain alive after the interview."
"That is a vain hope," answered the captains, "for it is well known
that the High Ki usually decide in favor of the Ki-Ki, and against the
wishes of the old Ki."
"That is certainly encouraging," said Nerle.
When the captains had gone and left them to themselves, the esquire
confided to his master his expectations in the following speech:
"This High Ki sounds something terrible and fierce in my ears, and as
they are doubtless a pair, they will be twice terrible and fierce.
Perhaps his royal doublets will torture me most exquisitely before
putting me to death, and then I shall feel that I have not lived
They slept in comfortable beds that night, although an empty twin bed
stood beside each one they occupied. And in the morning they were
served another excellent meal, after which the captains escorted them
again to the twin palaces of the Ki and the Ki-Ki.
There the two pairs of rulers met them and headed the long procession
of soldiers toward the palace of the High Ki. First came a band of
music, in which many queer sorts of instruments were played in pairs
by twin musicians; and it was amusing to Nerle to see the twin
drummers roll their twin drums exactly at the same time and the twin
trumpets peal out twin notes. After the band marched the double Ki-Ki
and the double Ki, their four bodies side by side in a straight line.
The Ki-Ki had left their musical instruments in the palace, and now
wore yellow gloves with green stitching down the backs and swung
gold-headed canes jauntily as they walked. The Ki stooped their aged
shoulders and shuffled along with their hands in their pockets, and
only once did they speak, and that was to roar "Great Kika-koo!" when
the Ki-Ki jabbed their canes down on the Ki's toes.
Following the Ki-Ki and the Ki came the prince and Nerle, escorted by
the twin captains, and then there were files of twin soldiers bringing
up the rear.
Crowds of twin people, with many twin children amongst them, turned
out to watch the unusual display, and many pairs of twin dogs barked
together in unison and snapped at the heels of the marching twin soldiers.
By and by they reached the great wall surrounding the High Ki's
palace, and, sure enough, there was never a gate in the wall by which
any might enter. But when the Ki and the Ki-Ki had blown a shrill
signal upon two pairs of whistles, they all beheld two flights of
silver steps begin to descend from the top of the wall, and these came
nearer and nearer the ground until at last they rested at the feet of
the Ki. Then the old men began ascending the steps carefully and
slowly, and the captains motioned to the prisoners to follow. So
Prince Marvel followed one of the Ki up the steps and Nerle the other
Ki, while the two Ki-Ki came behind them so they could not escape.
So to the top of the wall they climbed, where a pair of twin servants
in yellow and green--which seemed to be the royal colors--welcomed
them and drew up the pair of silver steps, afterward letting them down
on the other side of the wall, side by side.
They descended in the same order as they had mounted to the top of the
wall, and now Prince Marvel and Nerle found themselves in a most
beautiful garden, filled with twin beds of twin flowers, with many
pairs of rare shrubs. Also, there were several double statuettes on
pedestals, and double fountains sending exactly the same sprays of
water the same distance into the air.
Double walks ran in every direction through the garden, and in the
center of the inclosure stood a magnificent twin palace, built of
blocks of white marble exquisitely carved.
The Ki and the Ki-Ki at once led their prisoners toward the palace and
entered at its large arched double doors, where several pairs of
servants met them. These servants, they found, were all dumb, so that
should they escape from the palace walls they could tell no tales of
the High Ki.
The prisoners now proceeded through several pairs of halls, winding
this way and that, and at last came to a pair of golden double doors
leading into the throne-room of the mighty High Ki. Here they all
paused, and the Ki-Ki both turned to the prince and Nerle and said:
"You are the only persons, excepting ourselves and the palace
servants, who have ever been permitted to see the High Ki of Twi. As
you are about to die, that does not matter; but should you by any
chance be permitted to live, you must never breathe a word of what you
are about to see, under penalty of a sure and horrible death."
The prisoners made no reply to this speech, and, after the two Ki-Ki had
given them another mild look from their gentle blue eyes, these officials
clapped their twin hands together and the doors of gold flew open.
A perfect silence greeted them, during which the double Ki and the
double Ki-Ki bent their four bodies low and advanced into the
throne-room, followed by Prince Marvel and Nerle.
In the center of the room stood two thrones of dainty filigree work in
solid gold, and over them were canopies of yellow velvet, the folds of
which were caught up and draped with bands of green ribbon. And on
the thrones were seated two of the sweetest and fairest little maidens
that mortal man had ever beheld. Their lovely hair was fine as a
spider's web; their eyes were kind and smiling, their cheeks soft and
dimpled, their mouths shapely as a cupid's bow and tinted like the
petals of a rose. Upon their heads were set two crowns of fine spun
gold, worked into fantastic shapes and set with glittering gems.
Their robes were soft silks of pale yellow, with strings of sparkling
emeralds for ornament.
Anything so lovely and fascinating as these little maids, who were
precisely alike in every particular, neither Prince Marvel nor Nerle
had ever dreamed could exist. They stood for a time spellbound and
filled with admiration, while the two pairs of rulers bowed again and
again before the dainty and lovable persons of their High Ki.
But it was hard for Nerle to keep quiet for long, and presently he
exclaimed, in a voice loud enough to be heard by all present:
"By the Great Kika-koo of our friends the Ki, these darling High Ki of
Twi are sweet enough to be kissed!"
16. The Rebellion of the High Ki
The bold speech of Nerle's made the two damsels laugh at the same
time, and their sweet laughter sounded like rippling strains of
harmonious music. But the two Ki-Ki frowned angrily, and the two Ki
looked at the boy in surprise, as if wondering at his temerity.
"Who are these strangers?" asked the pretty High Ki, speaking together
as all the twins of Twi did; "and why are they not mates, but only
half of each other?"
"These questions, your Supreme Highnesses," said the blond-haired pair
of Ki-Ki, "we are unable to answer."
"Perhaps, then, the strangers can answer themselves," said the little
maids, smiling first upon the Ki-Ki and then upon the prisoners.
Prince Marvel bowed.
"I am from the great outside world," said he, "and my name is Prince
Marvel. Until now I have never seen people that live in pairs, and
speak in unison, and act in the same way and think the same thoughts.
My world is much bigger than your world, and in it every person is
proud to think and act for himself. You say I am only a 'half,' but
that is not so. I am perfect, without a counterpart; my friend Nerle
is perfect without a counterpart, and it is yourselves who are halved.
For in the Land of Twi no person is complete or perfect without its
other half, and it seems to take two of you to make one man--or one maid."
The sweet faces of the twin High Ki grew thoughtful at this speech,
and they said:
"Indeed, it may be you are right. But it is our custom in Twi to do
everything double and to live double." Then, turning to the Ki, they
asked: "Why have you brought these strangers here?"
"To ask your Supreme Highnesses to permit them to return again to the
world from whence they came," answered the Ki, both of them regarding
their supreme rulers earnestly.
But here the Ki-Ki spoke up quickly in their mild voices, saying:
"That is not our idea, your Highnesses. We, the Ki-Ki of Twi, think
it best the strangers should be put to death. And we pray your
Supreme Highnesses to favor our wish."
The two little maids looked from the Ki to the Ki-Ki, and frowned and
pouted their rosy lips in evident perplexity.
But Nerle whispered to Prince Marvel:
"It's all up with us! I know very well why her royal doublets always
favors the Ki-Ki. It's because they are young and handsome, while the
Ki are old and ugly. Both of her will condemn us to death--you see if
This seemed somewhat mixed, but Nerle was in earnest, and Prince
Marvel, who had not forgotten his fairy lore, began to weave a silent
spell over the head of the nearest twin High Ki. But just as it was
completed, and before he had time to work the spell on the other twin,
the Ki-Ki grew impatient, and exclaimed:
"We beg your Highnesses not to keep us waiting. Let us have your
decision at once!"
And the twin maidens raised their fair heads and replied. But the
reply was of such a nature that both the old Ki and both the young Ki-Ki
staggered backward in amazement. For one of the twin High Ki said:
"They shall die!"
And the other twin High Ki said at the same instant:
"They shall NOT die!"
Had twin thunderbolts fallen through the twin roofs of the twin
palaces and struck the twin Ki and the twin Ki-Ki upon their twin
heads it would have created no more stupendous a sensation than did
this remark. Never before had any two halves of a twin of the Land of
Twi thought differently or spoken differently. Indeed, it startled
the two maidens themselves as much as it did their hearers, for each
one turned her head toward the other and, for the first time in her
life, looked into the other's face!
This act was fully as strange as their speech, and a sudden horrible
thought came into the startled heads of the twin Ki and the twin
Ki-Ki: THE HIGH KI OF TWI WAS NO LONGER ONE, BUT TWO. AND THESE TWO
WERE THINKING AND ACTING EACH INDEPENDENT OF THE OTHER!
It is no wonder the shock rendered them speechless for a time, and
they stood swaying their four bodies, with their eight eyes bulging
out like those of fishes and their four mouths wide open, as if the
two pairs had become one quartet.
The faces of the two maids flushed as they gazed upon each other.
"How DARE you contradict me?" asked one.
"How dare you contradict ME?" demanded the other, and not only were these
questions asked separately, but the accent on the words was different.
And their twin minds seemed to get farther apart every moment.
"I'm the High Ki of Twi!" said one.
"You're not! I'M the High Ki!" retorted the other.
"The strangers shall die!" snapped one.
"They shall live!" cried the other. "My will is supreme."
"It's not! MY will is supreme," returned the other twin.
The bald heads of the ancient Ki were bobbing in amazement, first to
one maid and then toward the other. The blond hairs of the two Ki-Ki
were standing almost on end, and their eyes stared straight before
them as if stupefied with astonishment. Nerle was bellowing with rude
laughter and holding his sides to keep from getting a stitch in them,
while Prince Marvel stood quietly attentive and smiling with genuine
amusement. For he alone understood what had happened to separate the
twin High Ki.
The girls did not seem to know how to act under their altered
conditions. After a time one of them said:
"We will leave our dispute to be settled by the Ki and the Ki-Ki."
"Very well," agreed the other.
"Then I say your half is right," declared the Ki-Ki, both their right
forefingers pointing to the maiden who had condemned the strangers
"And I decide that your half is right," exclaimed the Ki, both their
trembling forefingers pointing to the maiden who had said the
strangers should live.
"Well?" said one girl.
"Well?" said the other.
"The powers of the Ki and the Ki-Ki are equal," said the first. "We
are no nearer a settlement of our dispute than we were before."
"My dear young ladies," said Prince Marvel, politely, "I beg you will
take time to think the matter over, and see if you can not come to an
agreement. We are in no hurry."
"Very well," decided the twins, speaking both together this time. "We
command you all to remain in the palace until we have settled our own
strange dispute. The servants will care for you, and when we are
ready to announce our decision we shall again send for you."
Every one bowed at this command and retired from the room; but Nerle
looked over his shoulder as he went through the doorway, and saw that
the two High Ki had turned in their seats and were facing each other,
and that both their faces wore angry and determined expressions.
17. The Separation of the High Ki
For nearly a week Prince Marvel and Nerle remained confined to the
palace and gardens of the High Ki. Together with the twin Ki, who
seemed to be friendly to them, they occupied one of the twin palaces,
while the Ki-Ki secluded themselves in the other.
The pretty High Ki maidens they did not see at all, nor did they know
what part of the palaces they occupied, not being permitted to wander
away from the rooms allotted to them, except to walk in the garden.
There was no way for them to escape, had they felt inclined to, for
the silver steps had disappeared.
From the garden walks they sometimes caught sight of the solemn heads
of the handsome Ki-Ki looking at them through the twin windows of the
other palace, and although the expression of their faces was always
mild and gentle, Nerle and Marvel well knew the Ki-Ki were only
waiting in the hope of having them killed.
"Are you nervous about the decision of the pretty High Ki?" asked
Nerle one day.
"No, indeed," said the prince, laughing; "for I do not expect them to
kill me, in any event."
"If I felt as sure of my safety," returned the boy, "it would destroy
all my pleasure. These are really happy days for me. Every moment I
expect to see the executioner arrive with his ax."
"The executioner is double," said the two old Ki, breaking into the
conversation. "You should say you expect to see the executioners
arrive with their axes."
"Then how will they cut off my head with two axes? For I suppose they
will both chop at the same time, and I have but one neck."
"Wait and see," answered the two Ki, sighing deeply and rubbing their
red noses thoughtfully.
"Oh, I'll wait," answered the boy; "but as for seeing them cut off my
head, I refuse; for I intend to shut my eyes."
So they sat in their rooms or walked in the gardens, yawning and
waiting, until one day, just as the two clocks on the wall were
striking twenty-four o'clock, the door opened and to their surprise
one of the High Ki twins walked in upon them.
She was as sweet and fair to look upon as when she occupied one of the
beautiful thrones, but at first no one could tell which of the High Ki
she was--their friend or their enemy. Even the Ki were puzzled and
anxious, until the girl said:
"My other half and I have completely separated, for we have agreed to
disagree for all time. And she has gone to ask the Ki-Ki to assist
her, for war is declared between us. And hereafter her color is to be
the green and mine the yellow, and we intend to fight until one of us
conquers and overthrows the other."
This announcement was interesting to Marvel and Nerle, but greatly
shocked the aged Ki, who asked:
"What is to become of our kingdom? Half of a High Ki can not rule it.
It is against the law."
"I will make my own laws when I have won the fight," returned the
girl, with a lovely smile; "so do not let that bother you. And now
tell me, will you help me to fight my battles?"
"Willingly!" exclaimed Nerle and Prince Marvel, almost as if they had
been twins of Twi. And the Ki rubbed their bald heads a moment, and
then sneezed together and wiped their eyes on faded yellow
handkerchiefs, and finally declared they would "stick to her Supreme
Highness through thick and thin!"
"Then go over the wall to the cities, at once, and get together all
the soldiers to fight for me and my cause," commanded the girl.
The twin Ki at once left the room, and the High Ki sat down and began
to ask questions of Prince Marvel and Nerle about the big outside
world from whence they came. Nerle was rather shy and bashful before
the dainty little maiden, whose yellow robe contrasted delightfully
with her pink cheeks and blue eyes and brown flowing locks; but Prince
Marvel did not mind girls at all, so he talked with her freely, and
she in return allowed him to examine the pretty gold crown she wore
upon her brow.
By and by the Ki came back with both faces sad and gloomy.
"Your Highness," they announced, "we have bad news for you. The other
High Ki, who is wearing a green gown, has been more prompt in action
than yourself. She and the Ki-Ki have secured the silver steps and
will allow no others to use them; and already they have sent for the
soldiers of the royal armies to come and aid them. So we are unable
to leave the garden, and presently the army will be here to destroy us."
Then the girl showed her good courage; for she laughed and said:
"Then we must remain here and fight to the last; and if I am unable to
save you, who are my friends, it will be because I can not save myself."
This speech pleased Prince Marvel greatly. He kissed the little
maid's hand respectfully and said:
"Fear nothing, your Highness. My friend and I are not so helpless as
you think. We consider it our privilege to protect and save you,
instead of your saving us; and we are really able to do this in spite
of the other High Ki and her entire army."
So they remained quietly in the palace the rest of that day, and no
one molested them in the least. In the evening the girl played and
sang for them, and the ancient pair of Ki danced a double-shuffle for
their amusement that nearly convulsed them with laughter. For one
danced exactly like the other, and the old men's legs were still very
nimble, although their wrinkled faces remained anxiously grave
throughout their antics. Nerle also sang a song about the King of
Thieves whom Prince Marvel had conquered, and another about the Red
Rogue of Dawna, so that altogether the evening passed pleasantly enough,
and they managed to forget all their uneasy doubts of the morrow.
When at last they separated for the night, Prince Marvel alone did not
seek his bed; there was still some business he wished to transact. So
he shut himself up in his room and summoned before him, by means of
his fairy knowledge, the Prince of the Knooks, the King of the Ryls
and the Governor of the Goblins. These were all three his especial
friends, and he soon told them the story of the quarrel and separation
of the twin High Ki, and claimed their assistance. Then he told them
how they might aid him, and afterward dismissed them. Having thus
accomplished his task, the fairy prince went to bed and slept
peacefully the remainder of the night.
The next morning the blond Ki-Ki and all the army of Twi, which had
been won to their cause, came climbing up the silver steps and over
the wall to the palace of the green High Ki; but what was their
amazement to find the twin palaces separated by a wall so high that no
ladders nor steps they possessed could reach to the top! It had been
built in a single night, and only Prince Marvel and his fairy friends
knew how the work had been done so quickly.
The yellow High Ki, coming downstairs to breakfast with her friends,
found herself securely shut in from her enemies, and the bald-headed
old Ki were so pleased to escape that they danced another jig from
Over the wall could be heard the shouts and threats of the army of
Twi, who were seeking a way to get at the fugitives; but for the
present our friends knew themselves to be perfectly safe, and they
could afford to laugh at the fury of the entire population of Twi.
18. The Rescue of the High Ki
After several days of siege Prince Marvel began to feel less confident
of the safety of his little party. The frantic Ki-Ki had built double
battering-rams and were trying to batter down the high wall; and they
had built several pairs of long ladders with which to climb over the
wall; and their soldiers were digging two tunnels in the ground in
order to crawl under the wall.
Not at once could they succeed, for the wall was strong and it would
take long to batter it down; and Nerle stood on top of the wall and
kicked over the ladders as fast as the soldiers of Twi set them up;
and the gray-bearded Ki stood in the garden holding two big flat boards
with which to whack the heads of any who might come through the tunnels.
But Prince Marvel realized that the perseverance of his foes might win
in the end, unless he took measures to defeat them effectually. So he
summoned swift messengers from among the Sound Elves, who are
accustomed to travel quickly, and they carried messages from him to
Wul-Takim, the King of the Reformed Thieves, and to King Terribus of
Spor, who had both promised him their assistance in case he needed it.
The prince did not tell his friends of this action, but after the
messengers had been dispatched he felt easier in his mind.
The little High Ki remained as sweet and brave and lovable as ever,
striving constantly to cheer and encourage her little band of
defenders. But none of them was very much worried, and Nerle confided
to the maiden in yellow the fact that he expected to suffer quite
agreeably when the Ki-Ki at last got him in their clutches.
Finally a day came when two big holes were battered through the wall,
and then the twin soldiers of Twi poured through the holes and began
to pound on the doors of the palace itself, in which Prince Marvel and
Nerle, the Ki and the yellow High Ki had locked themselves as securely
The prince now decided it was high time for his friends to come to
their rescue; but they did not appear, and before long the doors of
the palace gave way and the soldiers rushed upon them in a vast throng.
Nerle wanted to fight, and to slay as many of the Twi people as
possible; but the prince would not let him.
"These poor soldiers are but doing what they consider their duty," he
said, "and it would be cruel to cut them down with our swords. Have
patience, I pray you. Our triumph will come in good time."
The Ki-Ki, who came into the palace accompanied by the green High Ki,
ordered the twin soldiers to bind all the prisoners with cords. So
one pair of soldiers bound the Ki and another pair Nerle and the
prince, using exactly the same motions in the operation. But when it
came to binding the yellow High Ki the scene was very funny. For twin
soldiers tried to do the binding, and there was only one to bind; so
that one soldier went through the same motions as his twin on empty
air, and when his other half had firmly bound the girl, his own rope
fell harmless to the ground. But it seemed impossible for one of the
twins to do anything different from the other, so that was the only
way the act could be accomplished.
Then the green-robed High Ki walked up to the one in yellow and
laughed in her face, saying:
"You now see which of us is the most powerful, and therefore the most
worthy to rule. Had you remained faithful to our handsome Ki-Ki, as I
did, you would not now be defeated and disgraced."
"There is no disgrace in losing one battle," returned the other girl,
proudly. "You are mistaken if you think you have conquered me, and
you are wrong to insult one who is, for the time being, your captive."
The maiden in green looked for an instant confused and ashamed; then
she tossed her pretty head and walked away.
They led all the prisoners out into the garden and then through the
broken wall, and up and down the silver steps, into the great square
of the cities of Twi. And here all the population crowded around
them, for this was the first time any of them had seen their High Ki,
or even known that they were girls; and the news of their quarrel and
separation had aroused a great deal of excitement.
"Let the executioners come forward!" cried the Ki-Ki, gleefully,
and in answer to the command the twin executioners stepped up to
They were big men, these executioners, each having a squint in one eye
and a scar on the left cheek. They polished their axes a moment on
their coat-sleeves, and then said to Prince Marvel and Nerle, who were
to be the first victims:
"Don't dodge, please, or our axes may not strike the right place. And
do not be afraid, for the blows will only hurt you an instant. In the
Land of Twi it is usually considered a pleasure to be executed by us,
we are so exceedingly skillful."
"I can well believe that," replied Nerle, although his teeth
But at this instant a loud shout was heard, and the twin people of Twi
all turned their heads to find themselves surrounded by throngs of
Prince Marvel smiled, for he saw among the new-comers the giants and
dwarfs and the stern Gray Men of King Terribus, with their monarch
calmly directing their movements; and on the other side of the circle
were the jolly faces and bushy whiskers of the fifty-nine reformed
thieves, with burly Wul-Takim at their head.
19. The Reunion of the High Ki
The twins of Twi were too startled and amazed to offer to fight with
the odd people surrounding them. Even the executioners allowed their
axes to fall harmlessly to the ground, and the double people, soldiers
and citizens alike, turned to stare at the strangers in wonder.
"We're here, Prince!" yelled Wul-Takim, his bristly beard showing over
the heads of those who stood between.
"Thank you," answered Prince Marvel.
"And the men of Spor are here!" added King Terribus, who was mounted
on a fine milk-white charger, richly caparisoned.
"I thank the men of Spor," returned Prince Marvel, graciously.
"Shall we cut your foes into small pieces, or would you prefer to hang
them?" questioned the King of the Reformed Thieves, loudly enough to
set most of his hearers shivering.
But now the little maid in yellow stepped up to Prince Marvel and,
regarding the youthful knight with considerable awe, said sweetly:
"I beg you will pardon my people and spare them. They are usually
good and loyal subjects, and if they fought against me--their lawful
High Ki--it was only because they were misled by my separation from my
"That is true," replied the prince; "and as you are still the lawful
High Ki of Twi, I will leave you to deal with your own people as you
see fit. For those who have conquered your people are but your own
allies, and are still under your orders, as I am myself."
Hearing this, the green High Ki walked up to her twin High Ki and
"I am your prisoner. It is now your turn. Do with me as you will."
"I forgive you," replied her sister, in kindly tones.
Then the little maid who had met with defeat gave a sob and turned
away weeping, for she had expected anything but forgiveness.
And now the Ki-Ki came forward and, bowing their handsome blond heads
before the High Ki, demanded: "Are we forgiven also?"
"Yes," said the girl, "but you are no longer fit to be rulers of my
people. Therefore, you are henceforth deprived of your honorable
offices of Ki-Ki, which I shall now bestow upon these good captains
here," and she indicated the good-natured officers who had first
captured the prince and Nerle.
The people of Twi eagerly applauded this act, for the captains were
more popular with them than the former Ki-Ki; but the blond ones both
flushed with humiliation and anger, and said:
"The captains fought against you, even as we did."
"Yet the captains only obeyed your orders," returned the High Ki. "So
I hold them blameless."
"And what is to become of us now?" asked the former Ki-Ki.
"You will belong to the common people, and earn your living playing
tunes for them to dance by," answered the High Ki. And at this retort
every one laughed, so that the handsome youths turned away with twin
scowls upon their faces and departed amidst the jeers of the crowd.
"Better hang 'em to a tree, little one," shouted Wul-Takim, in his big
voice; "they won't enjoy life much, anyhow."
But the maid shook her pretty head and turned to the prince.
"Will you stay here and help me to rule my kingdom?" she asked.
"I can not do that," replied Prince Marvel, "for I am but a wandering
adventurer and must soon continue my travels. But I believe you will
be able to rule your people without my help."
"It is not so easy a task," she answered, sighing. "For I am singular
and my people are all double."
"Well, let us hold a meeting in your palace," said the prince,
"and then we can decide what is best to be done."
So they dismissed the people, who cheered their High Ki enthusiastically,
returning quietly to their daily tasks and the gossip that was sure to
follow such important events as they had witnessed.
The army of King Terribus and the fifty-nine reformed thieves went to
the twin palaces of the Ki and the Ki-Ki and made merry with feasting
and songs to celebrate their conquest. And the High Ki, followed by
the prince, Nerle, King Terribus and Wul-Takim, as well as by the Ki
and the newly-appointed Ki-Ki, mounted the silver steps and passed
over the wall to the royal palaces. The green High Ki followed them,
still weeping disconsolately.
When they had all reached the throne-room, the High Ki seated herself
on one of the beautiful thrones and said:
"By some strange chance, which I am unable to explain, my twin and I
have become separated; so that instead of thinking and acting alike,
we are now individuals--as are all the strange men who have passed
through the hole in the hedge. And, being individuals, we can no
longer agree, nor can one of us lawfully rule over the Kingdom of Twi,
where all the subjects are twins, thinking and acting in unison."
Said Prince Marvel:
"Your Highness, I alone can explain why you became separated from your
twin. By means of a fairy enchantment, which I learned years ago, I
worked upon you a spell, which compelled your brain to work
independent of your sister's brain. It seems to me that it is better
each person should think her own thoughts and live her own life,
rather than be yoked to another person and obliged to think and act as
a twin, or one-half of a complete whole. And since you are now the
one High Ki, and the acknowledged ruler of this country, I will agree
to work the same fairy spell on all your people, so that no longer
will there be twin minds in all this Land of Twi."
"But all the cows and dogs and horses and other animals are double, as
well as the people," suggested the old Ki, blinking their little eyes
in amazement at the thought of being forever separated from each other.
"I can also work the spell upon all the twin animals," said the
prince, after a moment's hesitation.
"And all our houses are built double, with twin doors and windows and
chimneys, to accommodate our twin people," continued the High Ki.
"And the trees and flowers--and even the blades of grass--are all
double. And our roads are double, and--and everything else is double.
I alone, the ruler of this land, am singular!"
Prince Marvel became thoughtful now, for he did not know how to
separate trees and flowers, and it would be a tedious task to separate
the twin houses.
"Why not leave the country as it is?" asked King Terribus of Spor.
"The High Ki is welcome to come to my castle to live, and then she
need no longer bother about the Land of Twi, which seems to me a poor
place, after all."
"And your sister may come with me to my cave, and be the queen of the
reformed thieves, which is a much more important office than being
High Ki of Twi," added big Wul-Takim, who had placed the maiden in
green upon a cushion at his feet, and was striving to comfort her by
gently stroking her silken hair with his rough hand.
"But I love my country, and do not wish to leave it," answered the
yellow High Ki. "And I love my twin sister, and regret that our minds
have become separated," she continued, sadly.
"I have it!" exclaimed Nerle. "Let the prince reunite you, making you
regular twins of Twi again, and then you can continue to rule the
country as the double High Ki, and everything will be as it was before."
The yellow High Ki clapped her pink hands with delight and looked
eagerly at the prince.
"Will you?" she asked. "Will you please reunite us? And then all our
troubles will be ended!"
This really seemed to Marvel the best thing to be done. So he led the
maid in green to the other throne, where she had once sat, and after
replacing the golden crown upon her brow he whispered a fairy spell of
much mystical power.
Then the prince stepped back and regarded the maidens earnestly,
and after a moment both the High Ki smiled upon him in unison
and said--speaking the same words in the same voices and with
the same accents:
"Thank you very much!"
20. Kwytoffle, the Tyrant
Having restored the High Ki to their former condition, to the great
joy of the ancient Ki, Prince Marvel led his friends back to the
palaces where his men were waiting.
They were just in time to prevent serious trouble, for the fifty-eight
reformed thieves had been boasting of their prowess to the huge giants
and tiny dwarfs of King Terribus, and this had resulted in a quarrel
as to which were the best fighters. Had not their masters arrived at
the right moment there would certainly have been a fierce battle and
much bloodshed,--and all over something of no importance.
Terribus and Wul-Takim soon restored order, and then they accompanied
the Ki and the Ki-Ki to the public square, where the people were
informed that their Supreme Highnesses, the High Ki, had been reunited
and would thereafter rule them with twin minds as well as twin
bodies. There was great rejoicing at this news, for every twin in Twi
was glad to have his troubles ended so easily and satisfactorily.
That night the ryls and knooks and other invisible friends of Prince
Marvel came and removed the dividing wall between the twin palaces of
the High Ki, repairing speedily all the damage that had been done.
And when our friends called upon the High Ki the next morning they
found the two maids again dressed exactly alike in yellow robes, with
strings of sparkling emeralds for ornament. And not even Prince
Marvel could now tell one of the High Ki from the other.
As for the maids themselves, it seemed difficult to imagine they had
ever existed apart for a single moment.
They were very pleasant and agreeable to their new friends, and when
they heard that Prince Marvel was about to leave them to seek new
adventures they said:
"Please take us with you! It seems to us that we ought to know something
of the big outside world from whence you came. If we see other kingdoms
and people we shall be better able to rule our own wisely."
"That seems reasonable," answered Marvel, "and I shall be very glad to
have you accompany me. But who will rule the Land of Twi in your absence?"
"The Ki-Ki shall be the rulers," answered the High Ki, "and we will
take the Ki with us."
"Then I will delay my departure until to-morrow morning," said the
prince, "in order that your Highnesses may have time to prepare for
And then he went back to the palaces of the other rulers, where the Ki
expressed themselves greatly pleased at the idea of traveling, and the
new Ki-Ki were proud to learn they should rule for some time the Land
Wul-Takim also begged to join the party, and so also did King
Terribus, who had never before been outside of his own Kingdom of
Spor; so Prince Marvel willingly consented.
The fifty-eight reformed thieves, led by Gunder, returned to their
cave, where they were living comfortably on the treasure Prince Marvel
had given them; and the Gray Men and giants and dwarfs of Spor
departed for their own country.
In the morning Prince Marvel led his own gay cavalcade through the
hole in the hedge, and they rode merrily away in search of adventure.
By his side were the High Ki, mounted upon twin chestnut ponies that
had remarkably slender limbs and graceful, arched necks. The ponies
moved with exactly the same steps, and shook their manes and swished
their tails at exactly the same time. Behind the prince and the High
Ki were King Terribus, riding his great white charger, and Wul-Takim
on a stout horse of jet-black color. The two ancient Ki and Nerle,
being of lesser rank than the others, brought up the rear.
"When we return to our Land of Twi," said the High Ki, "we shall close
up for all time the hole you made in the hedge; for, if we are different
from the rest of the world, it is better that we remain in seclusion."
"I think it is right you should do that," replied Prince Marvel. "Yet
I do not regret that I cut a hole in your hedge."
"It was the hedge that delayed us in coming more promptly to your
assistance," said Terribus; "for we had hard work to find the hole you
had made, and so lost much valuable time."
"All is well that ends well!" laughed the prince. "You certainly came
in good time to rescue us from our difficulties."
They turned into a path that led to Auriel, which Nerle had heard
spoken of as "the Kingdom of the Setting Sun."
Soon the landscape grew very pleasant to look upon, the meadows being
broad and green, with groups of handsome trees standing about. The
twilight of the Land of Twi was now replaced by bright sunshine, and
in the air was the freshness of the near-by sea.
At evening they came to a large farmhouse, where the owner welcomed
them hospitably and gave them the best his house afforded.
In answer to their questions about the Kingdom of Auriel, he shook his
head sadly and replied:
"It is a rich and beautiful country, but has fallen under great
misfortunes. For when the good king died, about two years ago, the
kingdom was seized by a fierce and cruel sorcerer, named Kwytoffle,
who rules the people with great severity, and makes them bring him all
their money and valuable possessions. So every one is now very poor
and unhappy, and that is a great pity in a country so fair and fertile."
"But why do not the people rebel?" asked Nerle.
"They dare not rebel," answered the farmer, "because they fear the
sorcery of Kwytoffle. If they do not obey him he threatens to change
them into grasshoppers and June-bugs."
"Has he ever changed any one into a grasshopper or a June-bug?" asked
"No; but the people are too frightened to oppose him, and so he does
not get the opportunity. And he has an army of fierce soldiers, who
are accustomed to beat the people terribly if they do not carry every
bit of their wealth to the sorcerer. So there is no choice but to
"We certainly ought to hang this wicked creature!" exclaimed Wul-Takim.
"I wish I had brought my Fool-Killer with me," sighed King Terribus;
"for I could have kept him quite busy in this kingdom."
"Can not something be done to rescue these poor people from their sad
fate?" asked the lovely High Ki, anxiously.
"We will make a call upon this Kwytoffle to-morrow," answered Prince
Marvel, "and see what the fellow is like."
"Alas! Alas!" wailed the good farmer, "you will all become
grasshoppers and June-bugs--every one of you!"
But none of the party seemed to fear that, and having passed the night
comfortably with the farmer they left his house and journeyed on into
the Kingdom of Auriel.
Before noon they came upon the edge of a forest, where a poor man was
chopping logs into firewood. Seeing Prince Marvel's party approach,
this man ran toward them waving his hands and shouting excitedly:
"Take the other path! Take the other path!"
"And why should we take the other path?" inquired the prince, reining
in his steed.
"Because this one leads to the castle of the great sorcerer,
Kwytoffle," answered the man.
"But there is where we wish to go," said Marvel.
"What! You wish to go there?" cried the man. "Then you will be
robbed and enslaved!"
"Not as long as we are able to fight," laughed the big Wul-Takim.
"If you resist the sorcerer, you will be turned into grasshoppers and
June-bugs," declared the man, staring at them in wonder.
"How do you know that?" asked Marvel.
"Kwytoffle says so. He promises to enchant every one who dares defy
"Has any one ever yet dared defy him?" asked Nerle.
"Certainly not!" said the man. "No one wishes to become a June-bug or
a grasshopper. No one dares defy him.".
"I am anxious to see this sorcerer," exclaimed King Terribus. "He
ought to prove an interesting person, for he is able to accomplish his
purposes by threats alone."
"Then let us ride on," said Marvel.
"Dear us! Dear us!" remonstrated the bald-headed Ki; "are we to
become grasshoppers, then?"
"We shall see," returned the prince, briefly.
"With your long legs," added the pretty pair of High Ki, laughingly,
"you ought to be able to jump farther than any other grasshopper in
"Great Kika-koo!" cried the Ki, nervously, "what a fate! what a
terrible fate! And your Highnesses, I suppose, will become June-bugs,
and flutter your wings with noises like buzz-saws!"
21. The Wonderful Book of Magic
Whatever their fears might be, none of Prince Marvel's party hesitated
to follow him along the path through the forest in search of the
sorcerer, and by and by they came upon a large clearing. In the
middle of this open space was a big building in such bad repair that
its walls were tumbling down in several places, and all around it the
ground was uncared for and littered with rubbish. A man was walking
up and down in front of this building, with his head bowed low; but
when he heard the sound of approaching horses' hoofs he looked up and
stared for a moment in amazement. Then, with a shout of rage, he
rushed toward them and caught Prince Marvel's horse by the bridle.
"How dare you!" he cried; "how dare you enter my forest?"
Marvel jerked his bridle from the man's grasp and said in return:
"Who are you?"
"Me! Who am I? Why, I am the great and powerful Kwytoffle! So
beware! Beware my sorcery!"
They all looked at the man curiously. He was short and very fat, and
had a face like a puff-ball, with little red eyes and scarcely any
nose at all. He wore a black gown with scarlet grasshoppers and
june-bugs embroidered upon the cloth; and his hat was high and peaked,
with an imitation grasshopper of extraordinary size perched upon its
point. In his right hand he carried a small black wand, and around
his neck hung a silver whistle on a silver cord.
Seeing that the strangers were gazing on him so earnestly, Kwytoffle
thought they were frightened; so he said again, in a big voice:
"Beware my vengeance!"
"Beware yourself!" retorted the prince. "For if you do not treat us
more respectfully, I shall have you flogged."
"What! Flog me!" shouted Kwytoffle, furiously. "For this I will turn
every one of you into grasshoppers--unless you at once give me all the
wealth you possess!"
"Poor man!" exclaimed Nerle; "I can see you are longing for that
flogging. Will you have it now?" and he raised his riding-whip above
Kwytoffle stumbled backward a few paces and blew shrilly upon his
silver whistle. Instantly a number of soldiers came running from the
building, others following quickly after them until fully a hundred
rough-looking warriors, armed with swords and axes, had formed in
battle array, facing the little party of Prince Marvel.
"Arrest these strangers!" commanded Kwytoffle, in a voice like a roar.
"Capture them and bind them securely, and then I will change them all
"All right," answered the captain of the soldiers; and then he turned
to his men and shouted: "Forward--double-quick--march!"
They came on with drawn swords; at first running, and then gradually
dropping into a walk, as they beheld Nerle, Wul-Takim, King Terribus
and Marvel standing quietly waiting to receive them, weapons in hand
and ready for battle. A few paces off the soldiers hesitated and
stopped altogether, and Kwytoffle yelled at the captain:
"Why don't you go on? Why don't you capture them? Why don't you
"Why, they have drawn their swords!" responded the captain, reproachfully.
"Who cares?" roared the sorcerer.
"We care," said the captain, giving a shudder, as he looked upon the
strangers. "Their swords are sharp, and some of us would get hurt."
"You're cowards!" shrieked the enraged Kwytoffle. "I'll turn you all
At this threat the soldiers dropped their swords and axes, and all
fell upon their knees, trembling visibly and imploring their cruel
master not to change them into june-bugs.
"Bah!" cried Nerle, scornfully; "why don't you fight? If we kill you,
then you will escape being June-bugs."
"The fact is," said the captain, woefully, "we simply can't fight.
For our swords are only tin, and our axes are made of wood, with
silver-paper pasted over them."
"But why is that?" asked Wul-Takim, while all the party showed
"Why, until now we have never had any need to fight," said the
captain, "for every one has quickly surrendered to us or run away the
moment we came near. But you people do not appear to be properly
frightened, and now, alas! since you have drawn upon us the great
sorcerer's anger, we shall all be transformed into June-bugs."
"Yes!" roared Kwytoffle, hopping up and down with anger, "you shall
all be June-bugs, and these strangers I will transform into grasshoppers!"
"Very well," said Prince Marvel, quietly; "you can do it now."
"I will! I will!" cried the sorcerer.
"Then why don't you begin?" inquired the prince.
"Why don't I begin? Why, I haven't got the enchantments with me,
that's why. Do you suppose we great magicians carry around
enchantments in our pockets?" returned the other, in a milder tone.
"Where do you keep your enchantments?" asked the prince.
"They're in my dwelling," snapped Kwytoffle, taking off his hat and
fanning his fat face with the brim.
"Then go and get them," said Marvel.
"Nonsense! If I went to get the enchantments you would all run away!"
retorted the sorcerer.
"Not so!" protested Nerle, who was beginning to be amused. "My
greatest longing in life is to become a grasshopper."
"Oh, yes! PLEASE let us be grasshoppers!" exclaimed the High Ki
maids in the same breath.
"We want to hop! We want to hop! Please--PLEASE let us hop!"
implored the bald-headed Ki, winking their left eyes at Wul-Takim.
"By all means let us become grasshoppers," said King Terribus,
smiling; and Wul-Takim added:
"I'm sure your soldiers would enjoy being June-bugs, for then they
wouldn't have to work. Isn't that so, boys?"
The bewildered soldiers looked at one another in perplexity, and the
still more bewildered sorcerer gazed on the speakers with staring eyes
and wide-open mouth.
"I insist," said Prince Marvel, "upon your turning us into
grasshoppers and your soldiers into June-bugs, as you promised. If
you do not, then I will flog you--as I promised."
"Very well," returned the sorcerer, with a desperate look upon his