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The Princess of Cozytown/The Bald-headed Kingdom/Chapter 2

< The Princess of Cozytown‎ | The Bald-headed Kingdom

Chapter II.

THE Painter turned out his pockets into the Barber's fat hands, then, covering his head with a pink silk handkerchief, rushed from the room sobbing, "Oh, my art! Oh, my career! Oh, my head and my hair. I shall have to be a shoemaker!"

Now, all the time the poor Painter was being shorn the Court Ladies had been giggling behind their handkerchiefs and the Court Gentlemen had been snickering behind their mustachios. They did not laugh long. Dear, no! One by one the bad-tempered King called them all forward. The Barber snipped and clipped and shaved the whole day without stopping, the Courtiers wept and pleaded and howled in vain, and the King only laughed the louder, till there was hair enough for ten royal mattresses and not a head of hair in the whole kingdom. Even the Queen, dears, and all of the Royal Ladies had bald, shivery, shiny heads. Ugh! how terrible!

And for a year and more not a single solitary hair was to be found upon a single solitary head in the kingdom. The king and the Barber saw to that. The Barber grew monstrously rich and insolent, and in all the lands to the east and the west, to the north and south, and in all the story books you have ever read there was never so gloomy and ridiculous a company as the poor subjects of this bald-headed, bad-tempered King.

But please do not think that this story is going to be entirely monopolized by him. Indeed, no. There is a simply gorgeous Princess in it, besides a most charming Prince.

You see, he had been far away for a year or more searching for the most beautiful Princess in the world, and that is the reason I have not mentioned him before. His name was Sambrun, and—and—the bad-tempered, bald-headed King was his father. One day, having found the simply gorgeous Princess, he came galloping home to prepare a great and glorious feast for his wedding. Singing a gay little song, about the most gorgeous Princess, I fancy, he went clattering up the long road, his thick brown curls flying merrily out behind. His song ceased abruptly, for suddenly bald heads began to appear on all sides. They bobbed and bowed from the roadway, they nodded and beckoned to him from the palace windows. A whole company came rushing to meet him, and so dazzling was the sun reflected from their shining crowns that Sambrun grew dizzy and nearly tumbled from his horse. He rubbed his eyes and then looked again. Yes, there they were. Mercies! "What horrible calamity has overtaken us?" gasped the Prince, and—