The Court Painter of his Majesty the King of Crim Tartary returned to that monarch’s dominions, carrying away a number of sketches which he had made in the Paflagonian capital (you know, of course, my dears, that the name of that capital is Blombodinga); but the most charming of all his pieces was a portrait of the Princess Angelica, which all the Crim Tartar nobles came to see. With this work the King was so delighted, that he decorated the Painter with his Order of the Pumpkin (sixth class) and the artist became Sir Tomaso Lorenzo, K.P., thenceforth.
King Valoroso also sent Sir Tomaso his Order of the Cucumber, besides a handsome order for money, for he painted the King, Queen, and principal nobility while at Blombodinga, and became all the fashion, to the perfect rage of all the artists in Paflagonia, where the King used to point to the portrait of Prince Bulbo, which Sir Tomaso had left behind him, and say “Which among you can paint a picture like that?”
It hung in the royal parlor over the royal sideboard, and Princess Angelica could always look at it as she sat making the tea. Each day it seemed to grow handsomer and handsomer, and the Princess grew so fond of looking at it, that she would often spill the tea over the cloth, at which her father and mother would wink and wag their heads; and say to each other, “Aha! we see how things are going.”
In the meantime poor Giglio lay upstairs very sick in his chamber, though he took all the doctor’s horrible medicines like a good young lad: as I hope YOU do, my dears, when you are ill and mamma sends for the medical man. And the only person who visited Giglio (besides his friend the captain of the guard, who was almost always busy or on parade), was little Betsinda the housemaid, who used to do his bedroom and sitting-room out, bring him his gruel, and warm his bed.
When the little housemaid came to him in the morning and evening, Prince Giglio used to say, “Betsinda, Betsinda, how is the Princess Angelica?”
And Betsinda used to answer, “The Princess is very well, thank you, my Lord.” And Giglio would heave a sigh, and think, “If Angelica were sick, I am sure I should not be very well.”
Then Giglio would say, “Betsinda, has the Princess Angelica asked for me today?” And Betsinda would answer, “No, my Lord, not today”; or, “She was very busy practicing the piano when I saw her”; or, “She was writing invitations for an evening party, and did not speak to me”; or make some excuse or other, not strictly consonant with truth: for Betsinda was such a good-natured creature that she strove to do everything to prevent annoyance to Prince Giglio, and even brought him up roast chicken and jellies from the kitchen (when the Doctor allowed them, and Giglio was getting better), saying, “that the Princess had made the jelly, or the bread-sauce, with her own hands, on purpose for Giglio.”
When Giglio heard this he took heart and began to mend immediately; and gobbled up all the jelly, and picked the last bone of the chicken — drumsticks, merry-thought, sides’-bones, back, pope’s nose, and all — thanking his dear Angelica; and he felt so much better the next day, that he dressed and went downstairs — where, whom should he meet but Angelica going into the drawing-room? All the covers were off the chairs, the chandeliers taken out of the bags, the damask curtains uncovered, the work and things carried away, and the handsomest albums on the tables. Angelica had her hair in papers: in a word, it was evident there was going to be a party.
“Heavens, Giglio!” cries Angelica: “YOU here in such a dress! What a figure you are!”
“Yes, dear Angelica, I am come downstairs, and feel so well today, thanks to the FOWL and the JELLY.”
“What do I know about fowls and jellies, that you allude to them in that rude way?” says Angelica.
“Why, didn’t — didn’t you send them, Angelica dear?” says Giglio.
“I send them indeed! Angelica dear! No, Giglio dear,” says she, mocking him, “I was engaged in getting the rooms ready for His Royal Highness the Prince of Crim Tartary, who is coming to pay my papa’s Court a visit.”
“The — Prince — of — Crim — Tartary!” Giglio said, aghast.
“Yes, the Prince of Crim Tartary,” says Angelica, mocking him. “I dare say you never heard of such a country. What DID you ever hear of? You don’t know whether Crim Tartary is on the Red Sea or on the Black Sea, I dare say.”
“Yes, I do: it’s on the Red Sea,” says Giglio; at which the Princess burst out laughing at him, and said, “Oh, you ninny! You are so ignorant, you are really not fit for society! You know nothing but about horses and dogs, and are only fit to dine in a mess-room with my Royal Father’s heaviest dragoons. Don’t look so surprised at me, sir: go and put your best clothes on to receive the Prince, and let me get the drawing-room ready.”
Giglio said, “Oh, Angelica, Angelica, I didn’t think this of you. THIS wasn’t your language to me when you gave me this ring, and I gave you mine in the garden, and you gave me that k —”
But what k — was we never shall know, for Angelica, in a rage, cried, “Get out, you saucy, rude creature! How dare you to remind me of your rudeness? As for your little trumpery twopenny ring, there, sir — there!” And she flung it out of the window.
“It was my mother’s marriage-ring,” cried Giglio.
“I don’t care whose marriage-ring it was,” cries Angelica. “Marry the person who picks it up if she’s a woman; you shan’t marry ME. And give me back MY ring. I’ve no patience with people who boast about the things they give away! I know who’ll give me much finer things than you ever gave me. A beggarly ring indeed, not worth five shillings!”
Now Angelica little knew that the ring which Giglio had given her was a fairy ring; if a man wore it, it made all the women in love with him; if a woman, all the gentlemen. The Queen, Giglio’s mother, quite an ordinary-looking person, was admired immensely whilst she wore this ring, and her husband was frantic when she was ill. But when she called her little Giglio to her, and put the ring on his finger, King Savio did not seem to care for his wife so much any more, but transferred all his love to little Giglio. So did everybody love him as long as he had the ring; but when, as quite a child, he gave it to Angelica, people began to love and admire HER; and Giglio, as the saying is, played only second fiddle.
“Yes,” says Angelica, going on in her foolish ungrateful way. “I know who’ll give me much finer things than your beggarly little pearl nonsense.”
“Very good, miss! You may take back your ring too!” says Giglio, his eyes flashing fire at her, and then, as his eyes had been suddenly opened, he cried out, “Ha! what does this mean? Is THIS the woman I have been in love with all my life? Have I been such a ninny as to throw away my regard upon you? Why — actually — yes — you are a little crooked!”
“Oh, you wretch!” cries Angelica.
“And, upon my conscience, you — you squint a little.”
“Eh!” cries Angelica.
“And your hair is red — and you are marked with the smallpox — and what? you have three false teeth — and one leg shorter than the other!”
“You brute, you brute, you!” Angelica screamed out: and as she seized the ring with one hand, she dealt Giglio one, two, three smacks on the face, and would have pulled the hair off his head had he not started laughing, and crying,
“Oh dear me, Angelica, don’t pull out MY hair, it hurts! You might remove a great deal of YOUR OWN, as I perceive, without scissors or pulling at all. Oh, ho, ho! ha, ha, ha! he he he!”
And he nearly choked himself with laughing, and she with rage; when, with a low bow, and dressed in his Court habit, Count Gambabella, the first lord-inwaiting, entered and said, “Royal Highnesses! Their Majesties expect you in the Pink Throne-room, where they await the arrival of the Prince of CRIM TARTARY.”
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00