Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Children's Novel > The Little Lame Prince10 > CHAPTER IX
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 When Prince Dolor sat up in bed, trying to remember where he was, whither he had been, and what he had seen the day before, he perceived that his room was empty.  
Generally his nurse rather worried him by breaking his slumbers1, coming in and “setting things to rights,” as she called it. Now the dust lay thick upon chairs and tables; there was no harsh voice heard to scold him for not getting up immediately, which, I am sorry to say, this boy did not always do. For he so enjoyed lying still, and thinking lazily about everything or nothing, that, if he had not tried hard against it, he would certainly have become like those celebrated2
     “Two little men
     Who lay in their bed till the clock struck ten.”
It was striking ten now, and still no nurse was to be seen. He was rather relieved at first, for he felt so tired; and besides, when he stretched out his arm, he found to his dismay that he had gone to bed in his clothes.
Very uncomfortable he felt, of course; and just a little frightened. Especially when he began to call and call again, but nobody answered. Often he used to think how nice it would be to get rid of his nurse and live in this tower all by himself—like a sort of monarch3 able to do everything he liked, and leave undone4 all that he did not want to do; but now that this seemed really to have happened, he did not like it at all.
“Nurse,—dear nurse,—please come back!” he called out. “Come back, and I will be the best boy in all the land.”
And when she did not come back, and nothing but silence answered his lamentable6 call, he very nearly began to cry.
“This won't do,” he said at last, dashing the tears from his eyes. “It's just like a baby, and I'm a big boy—shall be a man some day. What has happened, I wonder? I'll go and see.”
He sprang out of bed,—not to his feet, alas7! but to his poor little weak knees, and crawled on them from room to room. All the four chambers8 were deserted—not forlorn or untidy, for everything seemed to have been done for his comfort—the breakfast and dinner things were laid, the food spread in order. He might live “like a prince,” as the proverb is, for several days. But the place was entirely9 forsaken11—there was evidently not a creature but himself in the solitary12 tower.
A great fear came upon the poor boy. Lonely as his life had been, he had never known what it was to be absolutely alone. A kind of despair seized him—no violent anger or terror, but a sort of patient desolation.
“What in the world am I to do?” thought he, and sat down in the middle of the floor, half inclined to believe that it would be better to give up entirely, lay himself down, and die.
This feeling, however, did not last long, for he was young and strong, and, I said before, by nature a very courageous13 boy. There came into his head, somehow or other, a proverb that his nurse had taught him—the people of Nomansland were very fond of proverbs:
     “For every evil under the sun
     There is a remedy, or there's none;
     If there is one, try to find it—
     If there isn't, never mind it.”
“I wonder is there a remedy now, and could I find it?” cried the Prince, jumping up and looking out of the window.
No help there. He only saw the broad, bleak14, sunshiny plain—that is, at first. But by and by, in the circle of mud that surrounded the base of the tower, he perceived distinctly the marks of a horse's feet, and just in the spot where the deaf-mute was accustomed to tie up his great black charger, while he himself ascended15, there lay the remains16 of a bundle of hay and a feed of corn.
“Yes, that's it. He has come and gone, taking nurse away with him. Poor nurse! how glad she would be to go!”
That was Prince Dolor's first thought. His second—wasn't it natural?—was a passionate17 indignation at her cruelty—at the cruelty of all the world toward him, a poor little helpless boy. Then he determined18, forsaken as he was, to try and hold on to the last, and not to die as long as he could possibly help it.
Anyhow, it would be easier to die here than out in the world, among the terrible doings which he had just beheld—from the midst of which, it suddenly struck him, the deaf-mute had come, contriving19 somehow to make the nurse understand that the king was dead, and she need have no fear in going back to the capital, where there was a grand revolution, and everything turned upside down. So, of course, she had gone. “I hope she'll enjoy it, miserable20 woman—if they don't cut off her head too.”
And then a kind of remorse21 smote22 him for feeling so bitterly toward her, after all the years she had taken care of him—grudgingly, perhaps, and coldly; still she had taken care of him, and that even to the last: for, as I have said, all his four rooms were as tidy as possible, and his meals laid out, that he might have no more trouble than could be helped.
“Possibly she did not mean to be cruel. I won't judge her,” said he. And afterward23 he was very glad that he had so determined.
For the second time he tried to dress himself, and then to do everything he could for himself—even to sweeping24 up the hearth25 and putting on more coals. “It's a funny thing for a prince to have to do,” said he, laughing. “But my godmother once said princes need never mind doing anything.”
And then he thought a little of his godmother. Not of summoning her, or asking her to help him,—she had evidently left him to help himself, and he was determined to try his best to do it, being a very proud and independent boy,—but he remembered her tenderly and regret-fully26, as if even she had been a little hard upon him—poor, forlorn boy that he was. But he seemed to have seen and learned so much within the last few days that he scarcely felt like a boy, but a man—until he went to bed at night.
When I was a child, I used often to think how nice it would be to live in a little house all by my own self—a house built high up in a tree, or far away in a forest, or halfway27 up a hillside so deliciously alone and independent. Not a lesson to learn—but no! I always liked learning my lessons. Anyhow, to choose the lessons I liked best, to have as many books to read and dolls to play with as ever I wanted: above all, to be free and at rest, with nobody to tease or trouble or scold me, would be charming. For I was a lonely little thing, who liked quietness—as many children do; which other children, and sometimes grown-up people even, cannot understand. And so I can understand Prince Dolor.
After his first despair, he was not merely comfortable, but actually happy in his solitude29, doing everything for himself, and enjoying everything by himself—until bedtime. Then he did not like it at all. No more, I suppose, than other children would have liked my imaginary house in a tree when they had had sufficient of their own company.
But the Prince had to bear it—and he did bear it, like a prince—for fully five days. All that time he got up in the morning and went to bed at night without having spoken to a creature, or, indeed, heard a single sound. For even his little lark31 was silent; and as for his traveling-cloak, either he never thought about it, or else it had been spirited away—for he made no use of it, nor attempted to do so.
A very strange existence it was, those five lonely days. He never entirely forgot it. It threw him back upon himself, and into himself—in a way that all of us have to learn when we grow up, and are the better for it; but it is somewhat hard learning.
On the sixth day Prince Dolor had a strange composure in his look, but he was very grave and thin and white. He had nearly come to the end of his provisions—and what was to happen next? Get out of the tower he could not: the ladder the deaf-mute used was always carried away again; and if it had not been, how could the poor boy have used it? And even if he slung32 or flung himself down, and by miraculous33 chance came alive to the foot of the tower, how could he run away?
Fate had been very hard to him, or so it seemed.
He made up his mind to die. Not that he wished to die; on the contrary, there was a great deal that he wished to live to do; but if he must die, he must. Dying did not seem so very dreadful; not even to lie quiet like his uncle, whom he had entirely forgiven now, and neither be miserable nor naughty any more, and escape all those horrible things that he had seen going on outside the palace, in that awful place which was called “the world.”
“It's a great deal nicer here,” said the poor little Prince, and collected all his pretty things round him: his favorite pictures, which he thought he should like to have near him when he died; his books and toys—no, he had ceased to care for toys now; he only liked them because he had done so as a child. And there he sat very calm and patient, like a king in his castle, waiting for the end.
“Still, I wish I had done something first—something worth doing, that somebody might remember me by,” thought he. “Suppose I had grown a man, and had had work to do, and people to care for, and was so useful and busy that they liked me, and perhaps even forgot I was lame5? Then it would have been nice to live, I think.”
A tear came into the little fellow's eyes, and he listened intently through the dead silence for some hopeful sound.
Was there one?—was it his little lark, whom he had almost forgotten? No, nothing half so sweet. But it really was something—something which came nearer and nearer, so that there was no mistaking it. It was the sound of a trumpet
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved