The Rose and the Ring, by William Makepeace Thackeray

XIV.

What Became of Giglio.

The idea of marrying such an old creature as Gruffanuff frightened Prince Giglio so, that he ran up to his room, packed his trunks, fetched in a couple of porters, and was off to the diligence office in a twinkling.

It was well that he was so quick in his operations, did not dawdle over his luggage, and took the early coach: for as soon as the mistake about Prince Bulbo was found out, that cruel Glumboso sent up a couple of policemen to Prince Giglio’s room, with orders that he should be carried to Newgate, and his head taken off before twelve o’clock. But the coach was out of the Paflagonian dominions before two o’clock; and I dare say the express that was sent after Prince Giglio did not ride very quick, for many people in Paflagonia had a regard for Giglio, as the son of their old sovereign; a Prince who, with all his weaknesses, was very much better than his brother, the usurping, lazy, careless, passionate, tyrannical, reigning monarch. That Prince busied himself with the balls, fetes, masquerades, hunting-parties, and so forth, which he thought proper to give on occasion of his daughter’s marriage to Prince Bulbo; and let us trust was not sorry in his own heart that his brother’s son had escaped the scaffold.

It was very cold weather, and the snow was on the ground, and Giglio, who gave his name as simple Mr. Giles, was very glad to get a comfortable place in the coupe of the diligence, where he sat with the conductor and another gentleman. At the first stage from Blombodinga, as they stopped to change horses, there came up to the diligence a very ordinary, vulgar-looking woman, with a bag under her arm, who asked for a place. All the inside places were taken, and the young woman was informed that if she wished to travel, she must go upon the roof; and the passenger inside with Giglio (a rude person, I should think), put his head out of the window, and said, “Nice weather for travelling outside! I wish you a pleasant journey, my dear.” The poor woman coughed very much, and Giglio pitied her. “I will give up my place to her,” says he, “rather than she should travel in the cold air with that horrid cough.” On which the vulgar traveller said, “YOU’D keep her warm, I am sure, if it’s a MUFF she wants.” On which Giglio pulled his nose, boxed his ears, hit him in the eye, and gave this vulgar person a warning never to call him MUFF again.

Then he sprang up gaily on to the roof of the diligence, and made himself very comfortable in the straw. The vulgar traveller got down only at the next station, and Giglio took his place again, and talked to the person next to him. She appeared to be a most agreeable, well-informed, and entertaining female. They travelled together till night, and she gave Giglio all sorts of things out of the bag which she carried, and which indeed seemed to contain the most wonderful collection of articles. He was thirsty — out there came a pint bottle of Bass’s pale ale, and a silver mug! Hungry — she took out a cold fowl, some slices of ham, bread, salt, and a most delicious piece of cold plum-pudding, and a little glass of brandy afterwards.

As they travelled, this plain-looking, queer woman talked to Giglio on a variety of subjects, in which the poor Prince showed his ignorance as much as she did her capacity. He owned, with many blushes, how ignorant he was; on which the lady said, “My dear Gigl — my good Mr. Giles, you are a young man, and have plenty of time before you. You have nothing to do but to improve yourself. Who knows but that you may find use for your knowledge some day? When — when you may be wanted at home, as some people may be.”

“Good heavens, madam!” says he, “do you know me?”

“I know a number of funny things,” says the lady. “I have been at some people’s christenings, and turned away from other folks’ doors. I have seen some people spoilt by good fortune, and others, as I hope, improved by hardship. I advise you to stay at the town where the coach stops for the night. Stay there and study, and remember your old friend to whom you were kind.”

“And who is my old friend?” asked Giglio.

“When you want anything,” says the lady, “look in this bag, which I leave to you as a present, and be grateful to —”

“To whom, madam?” says he.

“To the Fairy Blackstick,” says the lady, flying out of the window. And then Giglio asked the conductor if he knew where the lady was?

“What lady?” says the man; “there has been no lady in this coach, except the old woman, who got out at the last stage.” And Giglio thought he had been dreaming. But there was the bag which Blackstick had given him lying on his lap; and when he came to the town he took it in his hand and went into the inn.

They gave him a very bad bedroom, and Giglio, when he woke in the morning, fancying himself in the Royal Palace at home, called, “John, Charles, Thomas! My chocolate — my dressing-gown — my slippers;” but nobody came. There was no bell, so he went and bawled out for water on the top of the stairs.

The landlady came up, looking — looking like this —

“What are you a-hollering and a-bellaring for here, young man?” says she.

“There’s no warm water — no servants; my boots are not even cleaned.”

“He, he! Clean ’em yourself,” says the landlady. “You young students give yourselves pretty airs. I never heard such impudence.”

“I’ll quit the house this instant,” says Giglio.

“The sooner the better, young man. Pay your bill and be off. All my rooms is wanted for gentlefolks, and not for such as you.”

“You may well keep the Bear Inn,” said Giglio. “You should have yourself painted as the sign.”

The landlady of the Bear went away GROWLING. And Giglio returned to his room, where the first thing he saw was the fairy bag lying on the table, which seemed to give a little hop as he came in. “I hope it has some breakfast in it,” says Giglio, “for I have only a very little money left.” But on opening the bag, what do you think was there? A blacking brush and a pot of Warren’s jet, and on the pot was written,

“Poor young men their boots must black:
Use me and cork me and put me back.”

So Giglio laughed and blacked his boots, and put back the brush and the bottle into the bag.

When he had done dressing himself, the bag gave another little hop, and he went to it and took out —

1. A tablecloth and a napkin.

2. A sugar-basin full of the best loaf-sugar.

4, 6, 8, 10. Two forks, two teaspoons, two knives, and a pair of sugar-tongs, and a butter-knife all marked G.

11, 12, 13. A teacup, saucer, and slop-basin.

14. A jug full of delicious cream.

15. A canister with black tea and green.

16. A large tea-urn and boiling water.

17. A saucepan, containing three eggs nicely done.

18. A quarter of a pound of best Epping butter.

19. A brown loaf.

And if he hadn’t enough now for a good breakfast, I should like to know who ever had one?

Giglio, having had his breakfast, popped all the things back into the bag, and went out looking for lodgings. I forgot to say that this celebrated university town was called Bosforo.

He took a modest lodging opposite the Schools, paid his bill at the inn, and went to his apartment with his trunk, carpet-bag, and not forgetting, we may be sure, his OTHER bag.

When he opened his trunk, which the day before he had filled with his best clothes, he found it contained only books. And in the first of them which he opened there was written —

“Clothes for the back, books for the head:
Read, and remember them when they are read.”

And in his bag, when Giglio looked in it, he found a student’s cap and gown, a writing-book full of paper, an inkstand, pens, and a Johnson’s dictionary, which was very useful to him, as his spelling had been sadly neglected.

So he sat down and worked away, very, very hard for a whole year, during which “Mr. Giles” was quite an example to all the students in the University of Bosforo. He never got into any riots or disturbances. The Professors all spoke well of him, and the students liked him too; so that, when at examination, he took all the prizes, viz.:—

{The Spelling Prize {The French Prize
{The Writing Prize {The Arithmetic Prize
{The History Prize {The Latin Prize
{The Catechism Prize {The Good Conduct Prize,

all his fellow-students said, “Hurrah! Hurray for Giles! Giles is the boy — the student’s joy! Hurray for Giles!” And he brought quite a quantity of medals, crowns, books, and tokens of distinction home to his lodgings.

One day after the Examinations, as he was diverting himself at a coffee-house with two friends —(Did I tell you that in his bag, every Saturday night, he found just enough to pay his bills, with a guinea over, for pocket-money? Didn’t I tell you? Well, he did, as sure as twice twenty makes forty-five)— he chanced to look in the Bosforo Chronicle, and read off, quite easily (for he could spell, read, and write the longest words now), the following:—

“ROMANTIC CIRCUMSTANCE. — One of the most extraordinary adventures that we have ever heard has set the neighboring country of Crim Tartary in a state of great excitement.

“It will be remembered that when the present revered sovereign of Crim Tartary, his Majesty King PADELLA, took possession of the throne, after having vanquished, in the terrific battle of Blunderbusco, the late King CAVOLFIORE, that Prince’s only child, the Princess Rosalba, was not found in the royal palace, of which King Padella took possession, and, it was said, had strayed into the forest (being abandoned by all her attendants) where she had been eaten up by those ferocious lions, the last pair of which were captured some time since, and brought to the Tower, after killing several hundred persons.

“His Majesty King Padella, who has the kindest heart in the world, was grieved at the accident which had occurred to the harmless little Princess, for whom his Majesty’s known benevolence would certainly have provided a fitting establishment. But her death seemed to be certain. The mangled remains of a cloak, and a little shoe, were found in the forest, during a hunting-party, in which the intrepid sovereign of Crim Tartary slew two of the lions’ cubs with his own spear. And these interesting relics of an innocent little creature were carried home and kept by their finder, the Baron Spinachi, formerly an officer in Cavolfiore’s household. The Baron was disgraced in consequence of his known legitimist opinions, and has lived for some time in the humble capacity of a wood-cutter, in a forest on the outskirts of the Kingdom of Crim Tartary.

“Last Tuesday week Baron Spinachi and a number of gentlemen, attached to the former dynasty, appeared in arms, crying, ‘God save Rosalba, the first Queen of Crim Tartary!’ and surrounding a lady whom report describes as ‘BEAUTIFUL EXCEEDINGLY.’ Her history MAY be authentic, IS certainly most romantic.

“The personage calling herself Rosalba states that she was brought out of the forest, fifteen years since, by a lady in a car drawn by dragons (this account is certainly IMPROBABLE), that she was left in the Palace Garden of Blombodinga, where Her Royal Highness the Princess Angelica, now married to His Royal Highness Bulbo, Crown Prince of Crim Tartary, found the child, and, with THAT ELEGANT BENEVOLENCE which has always distinguished the heiress of the throne of Paflagonia, gave the little outcast a SHELTER AND A HOME! Her parentage not being known, and her garb very humble, the foundling was educated in the Palace in a menial capacity, under the name of BETSINDA.

“She did not give satisfaction, and was dismissed, carrying with her, certainly, part of a mantle and a shoe, which she had on when first found. According to her statement she quitted Blombodinga about a year ago, since which time she has been with the Spinachi family. On the very same morning the Prince Giglio, nephew to the King of Paflagonia, a young Prince whose character for TALENT and ORDER were, to say truth, NONE OF THE HIGHEST, also quitted Blombodinga, and has not been since heard of!”

“What an extraordinary story!” said Smith and Jones, two young students, Giglio’s especial friends.

“Ha! what is this?” Giglio went on, reading:—

“SECOND EDITION, EXPRESS. — We hear that the troop under Baron Spinachi has been surrounded, and utterly routed, by General Count Hogginarmo, and the soi-disant Princess is sent a prisoner to the capital.

“UNIVERSITY NEWS. — Yesterday, at the Schools, the distinguished young student, Mr. Giles, read a Latin oration, and was complimented by the Chancellor of Bosforo, Dr. Prugnaro, with the highest University honor — the wooden spoon.”

“Never mind that stuff,” says GILES, greatly disturbed. “Come home with me, my friends. Gallant Smith! intrepid Jones! friends of my studies — partakers of my academic toils — I have that to tell which shall astonish your honest minds.”

“Go it, old boy!” cries the impetuous Smith.

“Talk away, my buck!” says Jones, a lively fellow.

With an air of indescribable dignity, Giglio checked their natural, but no more seemly, familiarity. “Jones, Smith, my good friends,” said the PRINCE, “disguise is henceforth useless; I am no more the humble student Giles, I am the descendant of a royal line.”

“Atavis edite regibus. I know, old co —” cried Jones. He was going to say old cock, but a flash from THE ROYAL EYE again awed him.

“Friends,” continued the Prince, “I am that Giglio: I am, in fact, Paflagonia. Rise, Smith, and kneel not in the public street. Jones, thou true heart! My faithless uncle, when I was a baby, filched from me that brave crown my father left me, bred me, all young and careless of my rights, like unto hapless Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; and had I any thoughts about my wrongs, soothed me with promises of near redress. I should espouse his daughter, young Angelica; we two indeed should reign in Paflagonia. His words were false — false as Angelica’s heart! — false as Angelica’s hair, color, front teeth! She looked with her skew eyes upon young Bulbo, Crim Tartary’s stupid heir, and she preferred him. Twas then I turned my eyes upon Betsinda — Rosalba, as she now is. And I saw in her the blushing sum of all perfection; the pink of maiden modesty; the nymph that my fond heart had ever woo’d in dreams,” &c. &c.

(I don’t give this speech, which was very fine, but very long; and though Smith and Jones knew nothing about the circumstances, my dear reader does, so I go on.)

The Prince and his young friends hastened home to his apartment, highly excited by the intelligence, as no doubt by the ROYAL NARRATOR’S admirable manner of recounting it, and they ran up to his room where he had worked so hard at his books.

On his writing-table was his bag, grown so long that the Prince could not help remarking it. He went to it, opened it, and what do you think he found in it?

A splendid long, gold-handled, red-velvet-scabbarded, cut-and-thrust sword, and on the sheath was embroidered “ROSALBA FOR EVER!”

He drew out the sword, which flashed and illuminated the whole room, and called out “Rosalba for ever!” Smith and Jones following him, but quite respectfully this time, and taking the time from His Royal Highness.

And now his trunk opened with a sudden pong, and out there came three ostrich feathers in a gold crown, surrounding a beautiful shining steel helmet, a cuirass, a pair of spurs, finally a complete suit of armor.

The books on Giglio’s shelves were all gone. Where there had been some great dictionaries, Giglio’s friends found two pairs of jack-boots labelled, “Lieutenant Smith,” “—— Jones, Esq.,” which fitted them to a nicety. Besides, there were helmets, back and breast plates, swords, &c., just like in Mr. G. P. R. James’s novels; and that evening three cavaliers might have been seen issuing from the gates of Bosforo, in whom the porters, proctors, &c., never thought of recognising the young Prince and his friends.

They got horses at a livery stable-keeper’s, and never drew bridle until they reached the last town on the frontier before you come to Crim Tartary. Here, as their animals were tired, and the cavaliers hungry, they stopped and refreshed at an hostel. I could make a chapter of this if I were like some writers, but I like to cram my measure tight down, you see, and give you a great deal for your money, and, in a word, they had some bread and cheese and ale upstairs on the balcony of the inn. As they were drinking, drums and trumpets sounded nearer and nearer, the marketplace was filled with soldiers, and His Royal Highness looking forth, recognised the Paflagonian banners, and the Paflagonian national air which the bands were playing.

The troops all made for the tavern at once, and as they came up Giglio exclaimed, on beholding their leader, “Whom do I see? Yes! — no! It is, it is! — Phoo! — No, it can’t be! Yes! it is my friend, my gallant faithful veteran, Captain Hedzoff! Ho, Hedzoff! Knowest thou not thy Prince, thy Giglio? Good Corporal, methinks we once were friends. Ha, Sergeant, an my memory serves me right, we have had many a bout at singlestick.”

“I’ faith, we have, a many, good my Lord,” says the Sergeant.

“Tell me, what means this mighty armament,” continued His Royal Highness from the balcony, “and whither march my Paflagonians?”

Hedzoff’s head fell. “My Lord,” he said, “we march as the allies of great Padella, Crim Tartary’s monarch.”

“Crim Tartary’s usurper, gallant Hedzoff! Crim Tartary’s grim tyrant, honest Hedzoff!” said the Prince, on the balcony, quite sarcastically.

“A soldier, Prince, must needs obey his orders: mine are to help his Majesty Padella. And also (though alack that I should say it!) to seize wherever I should light upon him —”

“First catch your hare! ha, Hedzoff!” exclaimed His Royal Highness.

“— On the body of GIGLIO, whilome Prince of Paflagonia” Hedzoff went on, with indescribable emotion. “My Prince, give up your sword without ado. Look! we are thirty thousand men to one!”

“Give up my sword! Giglio give up his sword!” cried the Prince; and stepping well forward on to the balcony, the royal youth, Without PREPARATION, delivered a speech so magnificent, that no report can do justice to it. It was all in blank verse (in which, from this time, he invariably spoke, as more becoming his majestic station). It lasted for three days and three nights, during which not a single person who heard him was tired, or remarked the difference between daylight and dark. The soldiers only cheering tremendously, when occasionally, once in nine hours, the Prince paused to suck an orange, which Jones took out of the bag. He explained, in terms which we say we shall not attempt to convey, the whole history of the previous transaction, and his determination not only not to give up his sword, but to assume his rightful crown; and at the end of this extraordinary, this truly GIGANTIC effort, Captain Hedzoff flung up his helmet, and cried, “Hurray! Hurray! Long live King Giglio!”

Such were the consequences of having employed his time well at College!

When the excitement had ceased, beer was ordered out for the army, and their Sovereign himself did not disdain a little! And now it was with some alarm that Captain Hedzoff told him his division was only the advanced guard of the Paflagonian contingent, hastening to King Padella’s aid; the main force being a day’s march in the rear under His Royal Highness Prince Bulbo.

“We will wait here, good friend, to beat the Prince,” his Majesty said, “and THEN will make his royal father wince.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/rose/chapter14.html

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