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The Princess of Cozytown/The Bald-headed Kingdom/Chapter 3

< The Princess of Cozytown‎ | The Bald-headed Kingdom

Chapter III.

WITHOUT waiting to listen to their story, he leaped from his horse and dashed into the great hall. Within all was gloom, but at the sight of the Prince the Queen rushed from her throne and fell fainting at his feet.

"Welcome home," roared the King. "Are we not all beautiful, my son?"

Sambrun lifted the fainting Queen and looked about shudderingly.

"Horrible!" exclaimed the Prince, looking his father straight in the eye. "What does it mean, I pray, Sir?"

"Mean?" snapped the King, flying into a violent passion and next instant had the Prince seized by six strong guardsmen. The Queen wept and pleaded in vain, the King only laughed the more wickedly and the Barber, whose fingers had been itching with impatience, stepped up and snip, snap, went the relentless shears, and soon—soon—the most charming Prince was as bald as the baldest of them. "Well," demanded the King, "are we not beautiful?" but still Sambrun stubbornly shook his head.

"What—what!" roared the King, and sent his royal snuffbox flying at the Prince's head. Sambrun shrugged his shoulders and said, "No," louder than ever. Oh, he was a brave Prince. Again the bad-tempered, bald-headed King fell a-thinking and this time his thoughts were blacker than ever, for he was really horribly jealous of his handsome son. At last he whispered to the chiefest of the Ministers and the poor fellow, with tears in his eyes, rose up to deliver the royal mandate. "Unless Prince Sambrun within the next thirty days discovers some means to restore the hair of his Royal Majesty, he shall upon the thirty-first day forfeit his head."

"Oh, oh," sobbed the Courtiers dismally, and pulling their silk handkerchiefs from their heads they all wept violently and the Queen outwept them all. But the most charming Prince merely bowed coldly to the King, kissed his royal mother and mounting his horse rode away.

He traveled far. In the countries to the east and west, in the countries to the north and south he sought, but vainly.