The Sea Fairies

Page 53

And now their conductors said, "His Majesty is ready to receive you in his den."

They swam downward through one of the round holes in the floor and found themselves in a brilliantly lighted chamber which appeared bigger than all the rest of the palace put together. In the center was the quaint head of King Anko, and around it was spread a great coverlet of purple and gold woven together. This concealed all of his body and stretched from wall to wall of the circular room. "Welcome, friends!" said Anko pleasantly. "How do you like my home?"

"It's very grand," replied Trot.

"Just the place for a sea serpent, seems to me," said Cap'n Bill.

"I'm glad you admire it," said the King. "Perhaps I ought to tell you that from this day you four belong to me."

"How's that?" asked the girl, surprised.

"It is a law of the ocean," declared Anko, "that whoever saves any living creature from violent death owns that creature forever afterward, while life lasts. You will realize how just this law is when you remember that had I not saved you from Zog, you would now be dead. The law was suggested by Captain Kid Glove, when he once visited me."

"Do you mean Captain Kidd?" asked Trot. "Because if you do--"

"Give him his full name," said Anko. "Captain Kid Glove was--"

"There's no glove to it," protested Trot. "I ought to know, 'cause I've read about him."

"Didn't it say anything about a glove?" asked Anko.

"Nothing at all. It jus' called him Cap'n Kidd," replied Trot.

"She's right, ol' man," added Cap'n Bill.

"Books," said the Sea Serpent, "are good enough as far as they go, but it seems to me your earth books don't go far enough. Captain Kid Glove was a gentleman pirate, a kid-glove pirate. To leave off the glove and call him just Kidd is very disrespectful."

"Oh! You told me to remind you of that third pain," said the little girl.

"Which proves my friendship for you," returned the Sea Serpent, blinking his blue eyes thoughtfully. "No one likes to be reminded of a pain, and that third pain was--was--"

"What was it?" asked Trot.

"It was a stomach ache," replied the King with a sigh.

"What made it?" she inquired.

"Just my carelessness," said Anko. "I'd been away to foreign parts, seeing how the earth people were getting along. I found the Germans dancing the german and the Dutch making dutch cheese and the Belgians combing their belgian hares and the Turks eating turkey and the Sardinians sardonically pickling sardines. Then I called on the Prince of Whales, and--"

"You mean the Prince of Wales," corrected Trot.

"I mean what I say, my dear. I saw the battlefield where the Bull Run but the Americans didn't, and when I got to France I paid a napoleon to see Napoleon with his boney apart. He was--"

"Of course you mean--" Trot was beginning, but the king would not give her a chance to correct him this time.

"He was very hungry for Hungary," he continued, "and was Russian so fast toward the Poles that I thought he'd discover them. So as I was not accorded a royal welcome, I took French leave and came home again."

"But the pain--"

"On the way home," continued Anko calmly, "I was a little absent-minded and ate an anchor. There was a long chain attached to it, and as I continued to swallow the anchor I continued to eat the chain. I never realized what I had done until I found a ship on the other end of the chain. Then I bit it off."

"The ship?" asked Trot.

"No, the chain. I didn't care for the ship, as I saw it contained some skippers. On the way home the chain and anchor began to lie heavily on my stomach. I didn't seem to digest them properly, and by the time I got to my palace, where you will notice there is no throne, I was thrown into throes of severe pain. So I at once sent for Dr. Shark--"

"Are all your doctors sharks?" asked the child.

"Yes, aren't your doctors sharks?" he replied.

"Not all of them," said Trot.

"That is true," remarked Cap'n Bill. "But when you talk of lawyers--"

"I'm not talking of lawyers," said Anko reprovingly.

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