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 every way.

"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 ill-natured growl:

"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.

The Enchanted Island of Yew Page 26

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