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The Princess of Cozytown/The Bald-headed Kingdom/Chapter 5

< The Princess of Cozytown‎ | The Bald-headed Kingdom

Chapter V.

AND straightway he sent a score of little brown men scurrying this way and that. They built a huge fire and brewed in a golden kettle the strongest mixture that you can imagine. What was in it I can never tell you; indeed, I wish that I could. This only I know—'twas green. It boiled and bubbled away merrily and now a hundred dwarfs, seizing tiny bellows, blew upon it until it was cool. Then into an emerald flask they poured the precious fluid and bore it to the King. Solemnly he handed the flask to the Prince. "One drop of this magic liquid will restore your father's hair. but beware! If he use more than this he shall perish and the priceless secret with him."

Sambrun thanked the King and next instant found himself in the forest. The sun was high, and his horse ran up to him, neighing joyously. Slipping the precious flask into his bosom, the Prince sprang into the saddle and rode like the wind, for he had not a moment to spare. Day after day he maintained this break-neck pace. On the thirtieth day he came to his father's palace. Gaily he ran up the steps and hurried into the great hall.

Looking neither to the right nor to the left, Sambrun walked straight up to the King and held out the flask, saying, "Here, your Highness, is a magic fluid. One drop will restore your hair. Use more than that and you shall perish, you and the secret with you." All the Ladies and Gentlemen gasped and gaped with astonishment. The King, his hands trembling with eagerness, seized the emerald flask, and without so much as a thank you, he rushed into the garden and from the garden into the forest, for he wanted to be quite alone when he tried it. The Court Barber slipped out unnoticed and crept after him, armed with a heavy stick. He meant to steal the emerald flask, for greater than any King and richer than any man would be the possessor of the secret for growing hair. The King stopped breathlessly in a little open space, and, mopping his head excitedly, gazed greedily at the fluid. "One drop, one drop, indeed! The selfish fellow means to keep the rest for himself," he muttered. The Barber, with bulging eyes, watched from the thicket. He did not intend to steal the liquid until he was sure of its power. Now the King raised the flask, and, oh, my dears, the greedy fellow poured the whole of the magic fluid over his head!

The Barber rushed out in dismay. Horrors!!! From the King's head a mass of hair shot into the air, jerking him from his feet. In a trice it had reached the treetops. Still it kept growing. It swept over the tops of the trees like a heavy cloud, and swirled down on all sides, closing the forest in darkest night. Still it kept growing. It twined and twirled around the wicked Barber, and round and round the wicked King, choking them to death. And still it kept growing, until the forest was a dense and impenetrable tangle into which no man has set foot from that day to this.

But in a year or more, when his hair had grown again, and all the heads in the kingdom were decently covered, the King Sambrun rode away into the Southland, and brought back the most gorgeous Princess. Together they ruled wisely and well, and bald heads were as rare as huckleberries in December. And that is the end of the story.

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