The Rose and the Ring, by William Makepeace Thackeray

XI.

What Gruffanuff Did to Giglio and Betsinda.

Gruffanuff, who had seen what had happened with the King, and knew that Giglio must come to grief, got up very early the next morning, and went to devise some plans for rescuing her darling husband, as the silly old thing insisted on calling him. She found him walking up and down the garden, thinking of a rhyme for Betsinda (TINDER and WINDA were all he could find), and indeed having forgotten all about the past evening, except that Betsinda was the most lovely of beings.

“Well, dear Giglio,” says Gruff.

“Well, dear Gruffy,” says Giglio, only HE was quite satirical.

“I have been thinking, darling, what you must do in this scrape. You must fly the country for a while.”

“What scrape? — fly the country? Never without her I love, Countess,” says Giglio.

“No, she will accompany you, dear Prince,” she says, in her most coaxing accents. “First, we must get the jewels belonging to our royal parents, and those of her and his present Majesty. Here is the key, duck; they are all yours, you know, by right, for you are the rightful King of Paflagonia, and your wife will be the rightful Queen.”

“Will she?” says Giglio.

“Yes; and having got the jewels, go to Glumboso’s apartment, where, under his bed, you will find sacks containing money to the amount of L217,000,000,987,439, 13s. 6-12d., all belonging to you, for he took it out of your royal father’s room on the day of his death. With this we will fly.”

“WE will fly?” says Giglio.

“Yes, you and your bride — your affianced love — your Gruffy!” says the Countess, with a languishing leer.

“YOU my bride!” says Giglio. “You, you hideous old woman!”

“Oh, you — you wretch! didn’t you give me this paper promising marriage?” cries Gruff.

“Get away, you old goose! I love Betsinda, and Betsinda only!” And in a fit of terror he ran from her as quickly as he could.

“He! he! he!” shrieks out Gruff; “a promise is a promise if there are laws in Paflagonia! And as for that monster, that wretch, that fiend, that ugly little vixen — as for that upstart, that ingrate, that beast, Betsinda, Master Giglio will have no little difficulty in discovering her whereabouts. He may look very long before finding HER, I warrant. He little knows that Miss Betsinda is —”

Is — what? Now, you shall hear. Poor Betsinda got up at five in winter’s morning to bring her cruel mistress her tea; and instead of finding her in a good humor, found Gruffy as cross as two sticks. The Countess boxed Betsinda’s ears half a dozen times whilst she was dressing; but as poor little Betsinda was used to this kind of treatment, she did not feel any special alarm. “And now,” says she, “when her Majesty rings her bell twice, I’ll trouble you, miss, to attend.”

So when the Queen’s bell rang twice, Betsinda came to her Majesty and made a pretty little curtsey. The Queen, the Princess, and Gruffanuff were all three in the room. As soon as they saw her they began,

“You wretch!” says the Queen.

“You little vulgar thing!” says the Princess.

“You beast!” says Gruffanuff.

“Get out of my sight!” says the Queen.

“Go away with you, do!” says the Princess.

“Quit the premises!” says Gruffanuff.

“Alas! and woe is me!” very lamentable events had occurred to Betsinda that morning, and all in consequence of that fatal warming-pan business of the previous night. The King had offered to marry her; of course her Majesty the Queen was jealous: Bulbo had fallen in love with her; of course Angelica was furious: Giglio was in love with her, and oh, what a fury Gruffy was in!

{ cap }

“Take off that {petticoat} I gave you,” they said, all at once,

{ gown }

and began tearing the clothes off poor Betsinda.

{ the King?” }

“How dare you flirt with {Prince Bulbo?” } cried the Queen, the

{Prince Giglio?”} Princess, and Countess.

“Give her the rags she wore when she came into the house, and turn her out of it!” cries the Queen.

“Mind she does not go with MY shoes on, which I lent her so kindly,” says the Princess; and indeed the Princess’s shoes were a great deal too big for Betsinda.

“Come with me, you filthy hussy!” and taking up the Queen’s poker, the cruel Gruffanuff drove Betsinda into her room.

The Countess went to the glass box in which she had kept Betsinda’s old cloak and shoe this ever so long, and said, “Take those rags, you little beggar creature, and strip off everything belonging to honest people, and go about your business”; and she actually tore off the poor little delicate thing’s back almost all her things, and told her to be off out of the house.

Poor Betsinda huddled the cloak round her back, on which were embroidered the letters PRIN. . . . ROSAL . . and then came a great rent.

As for the shoe, what was she to do with one poor little tootsey sandal? The string was still to it, so she hung it round her neck.

“Won’t you give me a pair of shoes to go out in the snow, mum, if you please, mum?” cried the poor child.

“No, you wicked beast!” says Gruffanuff, driving her along with the poker — driving her down the cold stairs — driving her through the cold hall — flinging her out into the cold street, so that the knocker itself shed tears to see her!

But a kind fairy made the soft snow warm for her little feet, and she wrapped herself up in the ermine of her mantle, and was gone!

“And now let us think about breakfast,” says the greedy Queen.

“What dress shall I put on, mamma? the pink or the pea-green?” says Angelica. “Which do you think the dear Prince will like best?”

“Mrs. V.!” sings out the King from his dressing-room, “let us have sausages for breakfast! Remember we have Prince Bulbo staying with us!”

And they all went to get ready.

Nine o’clock came, and they were all in the breakfast-room, and no Prince Bulbo as yet. The urn was hissing and humming: the muffins were smoking — such a heap of muffins! the eggs were done, there was a pot of raspberry jam, and coffee, and a beautiful chicken and tongue on the side-table. Marmitonio the cook brought in the sausages. Oh, how nice they smelt!

“Where is Bulbo?” said the King. “John, where is His Royal Highness?”

John said he had a took hup His Roilighnessesses shaving-water, and his clothes and things, and he wasn’t in his room, which he sposed His Royliness was just stepped hout.

“Stepped out before breakfast in the snow! Impossible!” says the King, sticking his fork into a sausage. “My dear, take one. Angelica, won’t you have a saveloy?” The Princess took one, being very fond of them; and at this moment Glumboso entered with Captain Hedzoff, both looking very much disturbed.

“I am afraid Your Majesty —” cries Glumboso.

“No business before breakfast, Glum!” says the King. “Breakfast first, business next. Mrs. V., some more sugar!”

“Sire, I am afraid if we wait till after breakfast it will be too late,” says Glumboso. “He — he — he’ll be hanged at half-past nine.”

“Don’t talk about hanging and spoil my breakfast, you unkind, vulgar man you,” cries the Princess. “John, some mustard. Pray who is to be hanged?”

“Sire, it is the Prince,” whispers Glumboso to the King.

“Talk about business after breakfast, I tell you!” says his Majesty, quite sulky.

“We shall have a war, Sire, depend on it,” says the Minister. “His father, King Padella . . . .”

“His father, King WHO?” says the King. “King Padella is not Giglio’s father. My brother, King Savio, was Giglio’s father.”

“It’s Prince Bulbo they are hanging, Sire, not Prince Giglio,” says the Prime Minister.

“You told me to hang the Prince, and I took the ugly one,” says Hedzoff. “I didn’t, of course, think Your Majesty intended to murder your own flesh and blood!”

The King for all reply flung the plate of sausages at Hedzoff’s head. The Princess cried out “Hee-karee-karee!” and fell down in a fainting fit.

“Turn the cock of the urn upon Her Royal Highness,” said the King, and the boiling water gradually revived her. His Majesty looked at his watch, compared it by the clock in the parlor, and by that of the church in the square opposite; then he wound it up; then he looked at it again. “The great question is,” says he, “am I fast or am I slow? If I’m slow, we may as well go on with breakfast. If I’m fast, why, there is just the possibility of saving Prince Bulbo. It’s a doosid awkward mistake, and upon my word, Hedzoff, I have the greatest mind to have you hanged too.”

“Sire, I did but my duty: a soldier has but his orders. I didn’t expect after forty-seven years of faithful service, that my sovereign would think of putting me to a felon’s death!”

“A hundred thousand plagues upon you! Can’t you see that while you are talking my Bulbo is being hung?” screamed the Princess.

“By Jove! she’s always right, that girl, and I’m so absent,” says the King, looking at his watch again. “Ha! there go the drums! What a doosid awkward thing though!”

“O, papa, you goose! Write the reprieve, and let me run with it,” cries the Princess — and she got a sheet of paper, and pen and ink, and laid them before the King.

“Confound it! Where are my spectacles?” the Monarch exclaimed. “Angelica! Go up into my bedroom, look under my pillow, not your mamma’s; there you’ll see my keys. Bring them down to me, and — Well, well! what impetuous things these girls are!” Angelica was gone, and had run up panting to the bedroom, and found the keys, and was back again before the King had finished a muffin. “Now, love,” says he, “you must go all the way back for my desk, in which my spectacles are. If you would but have heard me out. . . . Be hanged to her! There she is off again. Angelica! ANGELICA!” When his Majesty called in his LOUD voice, she knew she must obey, and came back.

“My dear, when you go out of a room, how often have I told you, SHUT THE DOOR. That’s a darling. That’s all.” At last the keys and the desk and the spectacles were got, and the King mended his pen, and signed his name to a reprieve, and Angelica ran with it as swift as the wind. “You’d better stay, my love, and finish the muffins. There’s no use going. Be sure it’s too late. Hand me over that raspberry jam, please,” said the Monarch. “Bong! Bawong! There goes the half-hour. I knew it was.”

Angelica ran, and ran, and ran, and ran. She ran up Fore Street, and down High Street, and through the Market-place, and down to the left, and over the bridge, and up the blind alley, and back again, and round by the Castle, and so along by the Haberdasher’s on the right, opposite the lamp-post, and round the square, and she came — she came to the EXECUTION PLACE, where she saw Bulbo laying his head on the block!!! The executioner raised his axe, but at that moment the Princess came panting up and cried Reprieve! “Reprieve!” screamed the Princess. “Reprieve!” shouted all the people. Up the scaffold stairs she sprang, with the agility of a lighter of lamps; and flinging herself in Bulbo’s arms, regardless of all ceremony, she cried out, “Oh, my Prince! my lord! my love! my Bulbo! Thine Angelica has been in time to save thy precious existence, sweet rosebud; to prevent thy being nipped in thy young bloom! Had aught befallen thee, Angelica too had died, and welcomed death that joined her to her Bulbo.”

“H’m! there’s no accounting for tastes,” said Bulbo, looking so very much puzzled and uncomfortable that the Princess, in tones of tenderest strain, asked the cause of his disquiet.

“I tell you what it is, Angelica,” said he, “since I came here yesterday, there has been such a row, and disturbance, and quarrelling, and fighting, and chopping of heads off, and the deuce to pay, that I am inclined to go back to Crim Tartary.”

“But with me as thy bride, my Bulbo! Though wherever thou art is Crim Tartary to me, my bold, my beautiful, my Bulbo!”

“Well, well, I suppose we must be married,” says Bulbo. “Doctor, you came to read the Funeral Service — read the Marriage Service, will you? What must be, must. That will satisfy Angelica, and then, in the name of peace and quietness, do let us go back to breakfast.”

Bulbo had carried a rose in his mouth all the time of the dismal ceremony. It was a fairy rose, and he was told by his mother that he ought never to part with it. So he had kept it between his teeth, even when he laid his poor head upon the block, hoping vaguely that some chance would turn up in his favor. As he began to speak to Angelica, he forgot about the rose, and of course it dropped out of his mouth. The romantic Princess instantly stooped and seized it. “Sweet rose!” she exclaimed, “that bloomed upon my Bulbo’s lip, never, never will I part from thee!” and she placed it in her bosom. And you know Bulbo COULDN’T ask her to give the rose back again. And they went to breakfast; and as they walked, it appeared to Bulbo that Angelica became more exquisitely lovely every moment.

He was frantic until they were married; and now, strange to say, it was Angelica who didn’t care about him! He knelt down, he kissed her hand, he prayed and begged; he cried with admiration; while she for her part said she really thought they might wait; it seemed to her he was not handsome any more — no, not at all, quite the reverse; and not clever, no, very stupid; and not well bred, like Giglio; no, on the contrary, dreadfully vul —

What, I cannot say, for King Valoroso roared out “POOH, stuff!” in a terrible voice. “We will have no more of this shilly-shallying! Call the Archbishop, and let the Prince and Princess be married offhand!”

So, married they were, and I am sure for my part I trust they will be happy.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07