"Oh well," said the new King, "I think the first thing I would like is my old pipe. You 'll find it in the pocket of the ragged coat I took off."

One of the officers of the court at once ran for the pipe, and when it was brought King Cole filled it with tobacco from his greasy pouch and lighted it, and you can imagine what a queer sight it was to see the fat King sitting upon the rich throne, dressed in silk, and satins and a golden crown, and smoking at the same time an old black pipe!

The councilors looked at each other in dismay, and the ladies of the court sneezed and coughed and seemed greatly shocked, and all this pleased old King Cole so much that he lay back in his throne and roared with laughter. Then the prime minister came forward very gravely, and bowing low he said,

"May it please your Majesty, it is not the custom of Kings to smoke a pipe while seated upon the throne."

"But it is my custom," answered Cole.

"It is impolite, and unkingly!" ventured the minister.

"Now, see here, old fellow," replied his Majesty, "I did n't ask to be King of this country; it 's all your own doing. All my life I have smoked whenever I wished, and if I can't do as I please here, why, I won't be king--so there!"

"But you must be the King, your Majesty, whether you want to or not. The law says so."

"If that 's the case," returned the King, "I can do as I please in other things. So you just run and get me a bowl of punch, there 's a good fellow."

The aged minister did not like to be addressed thus, but the King's commands must be obeyed; so, although the court was greatly horrified, he brought the bowl of punch, and the King pushed his crown onto the back of his head and drank heartily, and smacked his lips afterwards.

"That 's fine!" he said; "but say--what do you people do to amuse yourselves?"

"Whatever your Majesty commands," answered one of the councilors.

"What! must I amuse you as well as myself? Methinks it is no easy task to be a King if so many things are required of me. But I suppose it is useless to fret, since the law obliges me to reign in this great country against my will. Therefore will I make the best of my misfortune, and propose we have a dance, and forget our cares. Send at once for some fiddlers, and clear the room for our merrymaking, and for once in our lives we shall have a jolly good time!"

So one of the officers of the court went out and soon returned with three fiddlers, and when at the King's command they struck up a tune, the monarch was delighted, for every fiddler had a very fine fiddle and knew well how to use it.

Now, Old King Cole was a merry old soul, so he soon set all the ladies and gentlemen of the court to dancing, and he himself took off his crown and his ermine robe and laid them upon the throne, while he danced with the prettiest lady present till he was all out of breath.

Then he dismissed them, and they were all very well pleased with the new King, for they saw that, in spite of his odd ways, he had a kind heart, and would try to make everyone about him as merry as he was himself.

The next morning the King was informed that several of his subjects craved audience with him, as there were matters of dispute between them that must be settled. King Cole at first refused to see them, declaring he knew nothing of the quarrels of his subjects and they must manage their own affairs; but when the prime minister told him it was one of his duties as king, and the law required it, he could not do otherwise than submit. So he put on his crown and his ermine robe and sat upon the throne, although he grumbled a good deal at the necessity; for never having had any business of his own to attend to he thought it doubly hard that in his old age he must attend to the business of others.

The first case of dispute was between two men who each claimed to own a fine cow, and after hearing the evidence, the King ordered the cow to be killed and roasted and given to the poor, since that was the easiest way to decide the matter.

Mother Goose in Prose Page 16

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