« ElőzőTovább »
blew away, that he could speak no more when the lawyers came back with the golden ink. And he never made another will, but died without telling his sons what he wished them to do.
However, the king's sons, though they had little bodies, because they were princes of the Kingdom of Children, were very good little persons, — at least, they had not yet been naughty, and had never quarreled, so that the child-people loved them almost as well as they loved each other. The child-people were quite pleased that the princes should rule over them; but they did not know how to arrange, because there was no king's will, and by right the eldest ought to have the whole kingdom. But the eldest, whose name was Gentil, called his brothers to him and said: —
“I am quite sure, though there is no will, that our royal papa built the three cities that we might each have one to reign over, and not one reign over all. Therefore I will have you both, dear brothers, choose a city to govern over, and I will govern over the city you do not choose."
And his brothers danced for joy; and the people too were pleased, for they loved all the three princes. But there were not enough people in the kingdom to fill more than one city quite full. Was not this very odd? Gentil thought so; but, as he could not make out the reason, he said to the child-people:
“I will count you, and divide you into three parts, and each part shall go to one city.”
For, before the king had built the cities, the childpeople had lived in the green valleys, and slept on beds of flowers.
So Joujou, the second prince, chose the city of Pastime; and Bonbon, the youngest prince, chose the city of Confection; and the city of Lessonland was left for Prince Gentil, who took possession of it directly.
First let us see how the good Gentil got on in his city.
The city of Lessonland was built of books, all books, and only books. The walls were books, set close like bricks, and the bridges over the rivers (which were very blue) were built of books in arches, and there were books to pave the roads and paths, and the doors of the houses were books with golden letters on the outside. The palace of Prince Gentil was built of the largest books, all bound in scarlet and green and purple and blue and yellow. And inside the palace all the loveliest pictures were hung upon the walls, and the handsomest maps; and in his library were all the lesson-books and all the story-books in the world. Directly Gentil began to reign, he said to himself:
“What are all these books for? They must mean that we are to learn, and to become very clever, in order to be good. I wish to be very clever, and to make my people so; so I must set them a good example.”
And he called all his child-people together, who would do anything for the love of him, and he said:
“If we mean to be of any use in the world, we must learn, learn, learn, and read, read, read, and always be doing lessons."
And they said they would, to please him; and they all gathered together in the palace council-chamber, and Gentil set them tasks, the same as he set himself, and they all went home to learn them, while he learned his in the palace.
Now let us see how Joujou is getting on. He was a good prince, Joujou — oh, so fond of fun! as you may believe, from his choosing the city of Pastime. Oh, that city of Pastime! how unlike the city of dear, dull Lessonland! The walls of the city of Pastime were beautiful toy-bricks, painted all the colors of the rainbow; and the streets of the city were filled with carriages just big enough for child-people to drive in, and little gigs, and music-carts, and post-chaises, that ran along by clockwork, and such rocking-horses! And there was not to be found a book in the whole city, but the houses were crammed with toys from the top to the bottom — tops, hoops, balls, battledores, bows and arrows, guns, peepshows, drums and trumpets, marbles, ninepins, tumblers, kites, and hundreds upon hundreds more, for there you found every toy that ever was made in the world, besides thousands of large wax dolls, all in different court-dresses. And directly Joujou began to reign, he said to himself:
“What are all these toys for? They must mean that we are to play always, that we may be always happy. I wish to be very happy, and that my people should be happy, always. Won't I set them an example?”
And Joujou blew a penny-trumpet, and got on the back of the largest rocking-horse and rocked with all his might, and cried:
“Child-people, you are to play always, for in all the city of Pastime you see nothing else but toys!”
The child-people did not wait long: some jumped on rocking-horses, some drove off in carriages, and some in gigs and music-carts. And organs were played, and bells rang, and shuttlecocks and kites flew up the blue
sky, and there was laughter, laughter, in all the streets of Pastime!
And now for little Bonbon, how is he getting on? He was a dear little fat fellow but, oh, so fond of sweets! as you may believe, from his choosing the city of Confection. And there were no books in Confection, and no toys; but the walls were built of gingerbread, and the houses were built of gingerbread, and the bridges of barley-sugar, that glittered in the sun. And rivers ran with wine through the streets, sweet wine, such as childpeople love; and Christmas-trees grew along the banks of the rivers, with candy and almonds and golden nuts on the branches; and in every house the tables were made of sweet brown chocolate, and there were great plum-cakes on the tables, and little cakes, and all sorts of cakes. And when Bonbon began to reign, he did not think much about it, but began to eat directly, and called out, with his mouth full:
“Child-people, eat always! for in all the city of Confection there is nothing but cakes and sweets.”
And did not the child-people fall to, and eat directly, and eat on, and eat always!
Now by this time what has happened to Gentil? for we left him in the city of Lessonland. All the first day he learned the lessons he had set himself, and the people learned theirs too, and they all came to Gentil in the evening to say them to the Prince. But by the time Gentil had heard all the lessons, he was very, very tired - so tired that he tumbled asleep on the throne; and when the child-people saw their prince was asleep, they thought they might as well go to sleep too. And when Gentil awoke the next morning, behold! there were all
his people asleep on the floor. And he looked at his watch and found it was very late, and he woke up the people, crying, with a very loud voice:
“It is very late, good people!”
And the people jumped up, and rubbed their eyes, and cried:
“We have been learning always, and we can no longer see to read; the letters dance before our eyes.'
And all the child-people groaned, and cried very bitterly behind their books.
Then Gentil said: “I will read to you, my people, and that will rest your
. And he read them a delightful story about animals; but when he stopped to show them a picture of a lion, the people were all asleep. Then Gentil grew angry, and cried in a loud voice: “Wake
up, idle people, and listen!” But when the people woke up, they were stupid, and sat like cats and sulked. So Gentil put the book away, and sent them home, giving them each a long task for their rudeness. The child-people went away; but, as they found only books out of doors, and only books at home, they went to sleep without learning their tasks. And all the fifth day they slept. But on the sixth day Gentil went out to see what they were doing; and they began to throw their books about, and a book knocked Prince Gentil on the head, and hurt him so much that he was obliged to go to bed. And while he was in bed, the people began to fight, and to throw the books at one another.
Now as for Joujou and his people, they began to play,