The PRINCESS of COZYTOWN
ID YOU EVER hear of Cozytown? And did you ever hear of the terrible giant grownupness? Not that they belong together—my goodness, no! But in this story the giant—pshaw—here I am starting things heels over head—which would never do at all!
Well, well, if you have never heard of Cozytown it is high time that you did, and if you never heard of the giant it is because you have not had birthdays enough, that's all I can say. Why, Cozytown is the delightfulest place imaginable, though it does stand on the very edge of things, surrounded by a high, gray wall—that the name of this wall is "Facts" need not bother us, nor that to most people it is impassable. Those who know walk straight up to the wall and, taking four steps to the left of an iron ring which they will find without much trouble, they knock sharply on a stone which says believe! Presto! Immediately a little gate appears and in they go to the town itself.
There are rows of dear little houses just big enough for a boy or girl to play in, every house has a tiny garden and pink rose bushes that climb right to the chimney top and nod their heads in at the windows, which all have white ruffled curtains. Row upon row of these tiny rose-covered cottages, a white courthouse in the centre, a lovely lake in front, where china swans swim all day—this is Cozytown! And the clock over the courthouse always points to 3:00 which everyone knows is the coziest hour in the world. Lovely trees, just about as tall as you, grow on each side of a cozy walk and, after the Princess' levee which, like all other events of importance in Cozytown, takes place at three o'clock, the Cozytown people walk arm in arm beneath the trees.
After this comes croquet in the Princess' garden, which is larger than other gardens. Some folks would think that croquet set very small, but it is quite large enough for the Cozytown folk, and here I've spoken not a word about them—I must begin at once.
Well, right next to the white courthouse lives Princess Poppsy—not in a castle—pshaw—there is nothing cozy about a castle—but in one of the little rose-covered cottages. There are porches on all sides and a lovely swing on the front one. There is a pink sitting room, where a cozy tea table is always set ready for tea, and where tiny rocking chairs and sofas with pink cushions all plumped stand ready for company. There is a tall white cupboard in one corner, and that is where the Princess Poppsy keeps her peppermint drops. You have no idea how fond of these dainties the people of Cozytown are.
Next to the sitting room is a red room filled with tiny tables and chairs. On each table there is a game—there are checkers and parchesi, lotto and old maids, authors and tiddildy winks—in fact all the games you have ever heard of! The dining room is in grey, which is the latest thing, and back of that is a kitchen with a gas stove and all modern conveniences. A comfortable looking Dinah doll was sitting in a rocking chair shelling peas as I peeped into the kitchen. She told me that the Princess was upstairs; so I went around to the side of the house and looked into the window of the bedroom.It was lovely. A four-poster bed with dimity hangings, just about the size of a large crib, stood in the centre, and there was a dressing table with white candles and pink brushes, a bureau, and two comfortable rocking chairs. The Princess
was not there, however; so I looked into the red room again. Ah! There she was—a most adorable Princess—talking with a gentlemanly looking knitted doll who had evidently just arrived.
The Princess had blue eyes, curly hair and rosy cheeks and was dressed in a short white lawn dress. If I had not known that she was a Princess I might have taken her for an everyday little girl. However, the knitted doll bowed low over her hand and called her "Royal Highness;" so I knew that there could be no mistake.
"And how are our neighbors, the Dutch dolls?" said the Princess as she and the knitted gentleman sat down to play checkers. "I hear that Miss Amanda is suffering from a chipped arm," said the knitted doll gravely. "I........"
Just then a frightful thing happened!!! The town clock struck three. Three I tell you. One—two—Three!! Why, such a thing had never happened before the history of Cozytown. What right has a Cozytown clock in striking three? I should like to know!
At the first stroke the Princess threw up her hands. At the second she grew stiff as a stick. At the third she swooned completely away and rolled under the table. The knitted doll seemed equally agitated. With the help of Dinah, who had run into the room with her apron over her head, he lifted the Princess up on the sofa—then fell headlong down the front stairs and into the street, his shoe button eyes starting from his head.
At the same identical minute all the other Cozytown folk came tumbling out of their houses. China dolls, wooden dolls, rag dolls, ran distractedly about wringing their hands. Teddy bears, pink rabbits, stuffed dogs and rocking horses stood in excited groups on the corners. A whole army of wooden soldiers came at a quick run down the main street. A jumping-jack hopped along the sidewalk calling "Help!! help!!"
"What's the matter? What does it mean?" called the Cozytown folk in their squeaky voices.
(And come to think of it, what queer folk these Cozytown people are!) Such confusion, such running to and fro you cannot imagine. "Silence!" cried a pink rabbit hopping into the centre of the square· "Listen!"
When the pink rabbit called, "Listen," everybody immediately stopped talking, that is, everybody except Jack-in-the-box. He continued to bounce up and down screaming "Help! help!" at the top of his Jack-in-the-box voice.
"Will somebody shut him up," said the pink rabbit crossly. Two wooden soldiers sprang forward at this, and, pushing Jack into his box, fastened the lid. The rabbit now proceeded: "If anyone can tell us the meaning of this strange happening," said he, "it is the Judge. Let us call the Judge."
"The Judge! The Judge!" shrilled all the Cozytown folk, and a plush dog ran barking off to the courthouse to fetch him. He returned in a few minutes followed by a large owl, who looked cross and ruffled and kept with his claw the place in a book he had been reading.
"Did your Honor hear the clock strike?" said the Pink Rabbit nervously. The Judge opened his eyes a bit wider than they were opened already (which was wide enough in all conscience) and stared at the Pink Rabbit so hard that the poor fellow's ears stood straight behind and his collar wilted from very scaredness.
"I am not deaf," said he, after a terrible pause. "Certainly not! Certainly not—how stupid of me!" mumbled the rabbit apologetically. "What I meant to say was—were you not surprised to hear the town clock strike?"
"I am never surprised," replied the owl haughtily.
"Oh dear, oh dear!" murmured the pink rabbit, mopping his head and looking more uncomfortable every minute.
"Have a peppermint?" interrupted the knitted doll gentleman, striding up to the owl.
The owl took the peppermint, and chewed and swallowed it gravely. "It's a warning!" he cried suddenly, and tucking his book under his arm, waddled back to the courthouse. "A warning! A warning!" echoed all the Cozytown folk looking at each other with alarm. "It begins with 'G'—" called the owl over his shoulder, and then hurried on faster than ever.
"A warning beginning with G!" growled a Teddy bear irritably. "G—G—G—," said all the Cozytown folk in their high, low and medium voices. Then down they sat upon the benches in front of the pond, and began thinking of all the tings they could think of that began with "G." "Gad, gag, gage, gaiter, gait, gale—gale—I wonder if it's a gale?" murmured the knitted doll gentleman under his breath. "Gargle, garnish, garlic, garret!" came in muffled tones from beneath the lid of the Jack-in-the-box. Indeed, all the Cozytown folk were so busy saying over all the words beginning with "G" that they never noticed the Princess until she was right in the midst of them. Even the swans had stopped swimming about and rested motionless upon the surface of the lake with their necks curved to form the letter "G."
"What are you doing?" asked the Princess curiously. "Is it a game?"
"Game," rumbled a Teddy bear gloomily. "Maybe it's a game!" At this minute the Princess' cook Dinah came panting up. She began immediately to make all sorts of queer faces behind the Princess' back, holding her finger to her lips at the same time in a most mysterious manner. No one knew what she meant, but they stopped thinking of the "G" words for a minute and the knitted gentleman ran hastily to release Jack from his box, because the Princess did not like him to be shut up.
He unfastened the catch and out bounced Jack so violently that the poor knitted person was flung bodily into a rose bush, where he stayed helplessly bent double until Dinah went to his assistance.
"Are you hurted, sah?" she asked anxiously, shaking him up and setting him on his feet. Then making sure that no one was looking she whispered, "Don't you all say nuffin' 'bout that clock strikin,' for the Princess has done forgot all about it!"
When the knitted gentleman landed in the rose bush, he looked so comical that everybody began to laugh. Then, all at once, remembering the owl's warning and the clock striking, they stopped as suddenly as they had begun. Only the Princess continued to laugh heartily, until seeing that she was laughing quite by herself she stopped too. The company stared at her dismally. "Has your Majesty," began the Jack-in-the-box gloomily, "so soon forgotten the stri—" He got no further for down swooped black Dinah and clapped the lid upon his head. The owl says it was a—," began the rabbit stepping forward importantly. Before he could finish, Dinah rolled her eyes in disgust, and, seeing no other way of changing the subject, plunged in the lake.
"Save her! Save her!" cried the Princess, wringing her hands. All the Cozytown folk rushed down to the water's edge. The wooden soldiers plunged in gallantly; it took the whole army of them to bring her to shore, she being a very stoutish person, and while they were wringing her out (what else could one do to a dripping rag doll?) she managed to tell them not to mention the striking of the clock to the Princess. The Captain immediately decorated her with a pink ribbon, which is the highest honor one can receive in Cozytown. I am sure she deserved it. She pinned it to her petticoat so that the Princess would not see it, and then suffered herself to be hung on a line over a fire to dry.
Meanwhile, the knitted gentleman had warned all the others not to mention the striking of the clock, and as they loved the Princess dearly and would not have her worried for the world, they all put on their cheerfulest expressions and talked of everything else 'cept clocks and things beginning with "G."
"Let's have a tea party," said one of the Dutch dolls suddenly. "A tea party—a tea party! Hurrah for a tea party!" cried everybody delightedly. It takes so little to make Cozytown people happy that even so small a thing as a tea party throws them into a whirl of excitement. "Peachiferous!" exclaimed the knitted doll gentleman, rolling his eyes rapturously. As for the rest, they seized hands—or paws, as the case might be—and danced merrily around in a circle with the Princess in the centre till they all tumbled over from exhaustion.
"May I have the honor?" said the pink rabbit at last, offering the Princess his arm. Dinah and the knitted doll followed (there are no social distinctions in Cozytown). A Dutch doll and a Teddy bear came next, and all the other Cozytown folk brought up merrily behind them, a wooden soldier band tooting away for dear life. "Do you feel quite restored?" said the knitted gentleman to Dinah. "All but a scorchness in my feet and a dampness in mah haid!" replied the good-natured cook, giving herself a shake. By this time they had come to the Dutch doll's cottage, which was next to the Princess' very own. "Now wait here," she cried, tripping up the steps, "until I ring the bell!" Her sister Hepzibah went in with her, while the rest of the company either sat on the porch or walked about the garden. It was the quaintest, old-fashioned garden you can imagine. Hollyhocks and poppies, bachelor buttons and mignonette—and all of them were doll size. Miss Amanda and Miss Hepzibah lived by themselves and more excellent housekeepers were not to be found in all of Cozytown. Miss Amanda's angel cake, and Miss Hepzibah's cookies were the pride of the town; so you can imagine with what impatience all of them waited to be bidden to the feast.
"I do hope there'll be crumpets," said the Princess to the pink rabbit. "So do I,—but what is the excitement in the garden, pray?" The wooden soldiers, the knitted gentleman, a French doll and the Jack-in-the-box had formed in an angry circle around a wooden goat. "I tell you he begins with a 'G,'" the Captain of the soldiers was saying in an agitated voice, as the pink rabbit and the Princess came up to the group. "Well, I am sure I can't help that," said the goat crossly. "I may begin with a 'G,' but I begin with a—!" (Here the goat made a threatening move with its horns.) "Arrest him at once!" thundered the Jack-in-the-box. Then catching sight of the Princess he disappeared into the box and shut the lid. "What's the matter?" inquired the Princess.
"Er-er—nothing, your Majesty," said the Captain of the wooden soldiers, touching his cap respectfully. "We were playing—er—er—a game—and the goat was it." "A very stupid game, I assure you," said the goat, glaring at the Captain and sidling up to the Princess. Further explanations were avoided, for at that moment Miss Amanda leaned out of the second story window and rang a big dinner bell. "Come on. Come on!" cried the Princess clapping her hands, and, tumbling over each other, they all hurried in to the tea party.
Miss Hepzibah, her Dutch wooden face beaming with hospitality, stood at the door and welcomed each guest—just as if she had not seen them a few moments before in the garden. Miss Amanda, in a flutter of ribbons and excitement, led the way to the parlor. There the most delectable goodies were temptingly displayed upon a side table.
With little sighs of comfort and anticipation the company sank down upon the old-fashioned chairs and sofas. "You're looking charming, my dear!" whispered the knitted gentleman in Miss Amanda's ear as she hurried toward the Princess with a platter of crumpets. Everyone in Cozytown felt that the knitted gentleman had his shoe-buttons (pshaw, I mean his eyes) on Miss Amanda.
Miss Hepzibah was charming. She presided at the tea table, and the wooden soldiers and the pink rabbit rushed here and there with cups of tea and plates of cake until everyone was served. Dinah, after much coaxing, consented to sing, and altogether the tea was a most delightful affair.
"Wait!" cried Miss Amanda, suddenly springing from her chair. "I have another surprise for you!" She hurried into the kitchen, returning the next minute with a plate of steaming gingerbread. Mm-mmm! What a delicious fragrance. The knitted doll took a huge mouthful, then with starting eyes ran to the window and hastily got rid of it. "G," he whispered in a terrible voice to the pink rabbit, who was on the point of devouring his piece at one gulp. "It begins with 'G'!" The same thing seemed to strike the whole party at once, and they all sat terrified with the gingerbread held a few inches from their mouths. All except the Princess. Just as she was about to take a bite of her piece, the knitted gentleman bumped her elbow and knocked her plate to the floor.
"How clumsy of me," he murmured, pretending to be greatly embarrassed, at the same time putting his foot on the cake and crushing it completely.
"It might have been poisoned," he whispered to the pink rabbit, wiping the perspiration from his knitted forehead. At this rather perplexing moment Judge Owl was announced. He always came late for tea, but nobody dared to object. He took a seat near the door and consumed ten cups of tea without making any remarks; then, waddling up to the table, he took a huge piece of gingerbread and munching it hungrily took his departure.
"Well, it isn't the gingerbread!" exclaimed the knitted doll in great relief, fetching the Princess another piece. Everybody immediately began eating his gingerbread at that, and after they had eaten every bit of it, and after no one could possibly hold another crumb, they all went upstairs to the sitting room to finish the festivities with a concert. The pink rabbit agreed to act as master of ceremonies, and announced each number on the program with a bow and a flourish that was simply charming.
"A recitation by our talented friend, the knitted doll gentleman," said he, leading that person forward in the most approved style.
"Quoth a fat and jolly spider
To a thousand legger spry:
'Let us run a race, my hearty,
And the prize shall be a fly!'
So they raced across the ceiling
And the thousand legger's feet
Moved in companies—two together
In a manner very neat.
But, alas! he had not reckoned
With the ceiling as a track
And he lost his tenth and nineteenth foot
Within a yawning crack!
He lost his feet—also the race—
The victor was the spider,
And when the fly saw who had won
She tried to run and hide her—
Uh—self," finished the knitted gentleman, at which the applause was tremendous. Indeed, Miss Amanda clapped so loudly that she split her silk mittens.
After a few more recitations, the wooden soldiers, under the direction of Miss Amanda and Miss Hepzibah, pushed back all the tables and chairs, rolled up the rugs, and made ready for a dance. Miss Amanda seated herself at the piano, the pink rabbit ran off to claim the Princess, and all the other Cozytown folk took partners for a Virginia Reel.
I wish you could have seen Princess Poppsy bowing and curtseying and romping through the figures; indeed, I think I may safely say that it was the most charming Virginia Reel that ever was, or ever will be danced. The wooden soldiers were a trifle stiff and precise, the knitted doll gentleman a trifle floppsy and lackadaisical, but who minded that? Miss Amanda struck the last few chords, swung around on the piano stool, and everybody, clapping and laughing, tumbled into chairs.
"One does have such a jolly time here" murmured the pink rabbit, fanning the Princess so briskly that her curls flew every which way. "I should say so!" agreed the Jack-in-the-box, hopping up and waving his arms enthusiastically, "I say—." What he was about to say, I have no idea, for at that instant the room grew dark as night. The windows were all at the end of the room, and a black cloud, or something black, shut out every bit of light.
"My heart!" gasped Miss Amanda, and one knew from the thump that followed that she had fallen off the piano stool.
"Halt! Silence! Keep your places!" cried the Captain of the wooden soldiers authoritatively. The knitted gentleman, rushing to the help of Miss Amanda, fell over a chair and lay groaning on the floor—and altogether the confusion was awful. No one halted, nor was silent, nor kept their places as the wooden soldier had commanded. Instead they all rushed for the door—or what they thought was the door—collided frightfully with each other and rolled about in the dark.
After what seemed to be an age, but was really only a few minutes, it grew light again. Holding their heads the Cozytown folk sat up cautiously and looked about. Everything as usual. "We-ll," quavered the pink rabbit nervously, "this—is—er—very upsetting!" Then noticing that he was sitting upon a wooden soldier he jumped up hastily and ran to help the Princess, who had rolled under the sofa.
"Something must be done!" said the Princess as soonshe had caught her breath. "Oh mercy! Somebody pick up Miss Amanda!" Two wooden soldiers ran to her assistance. She was unhurt save for a dent in one cheek, which the knitted gentleman, who had also been picked up, assured her was most becoming.
Now began a serious discussion, and it all ended in the wooden soldiers forming ranks, marching bravely down the stairs and down in the garden. The others watched from the windows, ready to duck at the slightest warning. At first the wooden soldiers could find nothing amiss, then, stretching from one end of the garden to the other, they came upon a —— a great sunken place.
Yessirree, stretching from one end of the garden to the other—like—well, a lake without any water in it. The wooden soldiers marched round and round it, trying to think how it had come there, and after a while Princess Poppsy and all the others came tiptoeing downstairs, peering with scared eyes in every direction.
"It was a earthquake," said Jack-in-the-box, bending over as far as his springs would let him and touching the edge of the hole. "Nonsense," said the Pink Rabbit. "An earthquake would have knocked down our houses."
"What does your Majesty think of it?" asked the knitted doll gentleman, addressing the Princess. "I don't know what to think," sighed the Princess. "But when I look at it, I get the strangest feeling in my heart." The Princess looked appealingly around at her subjects and two big tears rolled down her cheeks. "Poor lamb!" murmured Dinah, and everyone began trying to cheer her up. Seizing hands, they danced round and round, until she had to smile in spite of herself. "Now let's try to forget all about everything disagreeable!" fluttered Miss Amanda, and promptly told such a funny story that the knitted gentleman tied himself in knots he laughed so hard.
The Captain of the wooden soldiers, the pink rabbit and a few of the Teddy bears, however, slipped away from the rest of the company, because, as the Rabbit said, "The owl ought to know what's happened." He stuck his head out of the window after they had rung the bell several times and asked what was the matter. The pink rabbit explained as quickly as he could, and the next minute Judge Owl, in his high silk hat and his walking stick, hurried out. "Take me to the place," he commanded shortly. He walked slowly around the great sunken place, his eyes growing bigger and bigger, then he took a small glass out of his pocket and squinted through that.
What he saw through the glass must have been terribly upsetting, for his silk hat fell off and he dropped his cane.
"Look," he exclaimed in a shaky voice, handing the glass to the Rabbit. The Rabbit peered in it anxiously, with all the rest looking over his shoulder.
"A footprint!" he gasped at last. "A giant footprint! And that, my dears, is just what it was. You see, the owl's glass was a shrinking glass and in it the great hole showed plainly as a footprint. "Never leave the Princess for one instant," said the owl turning to the Captain of the Wooden Soldiers. Then pulling his hat down over his eyes, he hurried away muttering "Curumberty bumpus!"—which is Cozytown language for "Sakes alive."
The Captain of the wooden soldiers had no sooner recovered from the shock of a giant footprint in Cozytown than he rushed back to the Princess. You remember that the owl had said she must never be left for a moment. She and all the other Cozytown folk had crossed over into her garden and were in the midst of an exciting game of croquet. The Princess had just sent her ball through two wickets, and everybody was shouting and waving, as if they had not been frightened to pieces a moment before. That is the way with Cozytown folks, my dears, they never remember anything unpleasant. So the pink rabbit and the Teddy bears and the Captain of the wooden soldiers decided to say nothing about the giant footprint. Indeed, at the first opportunity, the pink rabbit remarked carelessly that he had every reason to believe that it was a slight earthquake that had disturbed them.
I have not mentioned the China doll from France, but do not imagine on that account that there was no such person in Cozytown. She was a very fashionable person, and all during the first part of our story was busily at work on a new gown; so that is the reason that I did not tell you about her before. Now she came stepping daintily across the lawn, her hair done in a wonderful knot on the top of her head, and her fan held just-so in her tiny right hand. "Ah!" murmured the knitted gentleman admiringly. "Wonderful!" exclaimed all the other Cozytown dolls, crowding around her and touching her dress enviously."Greetings, most high and gracious Majesty!" said she
in French, at the same time dropping a most beautiful curtsey. "Nonsense," said the Princess sharply.
It was not nearly so much fun since the French doll had arrived. The rag dolls and wooden dolls stepped about awkwardly and conversed in low whispers. The Teddy bears and wooden soldiers, the pink rabbit and the knitted gentleman were kept busy picking up her fan and kerchief.
Princess Poppsy flew into a rage, which had never happened before. "Stop it—stop it!" she screamed at the French doll crossly. "You are nothing but an old toy, anyway—a silly old toy!" Scarcely had she finished speaking before the French doll pitched forward upon her face and lay stiff and stark upon the ground. "I've killed her!" wailed Princess Poppsy dropping down beside her. "I've killed her!" In vain they rubbed the French doll's hands and shook her violently up and down. Stiff and stark she remained, her big blue eyes staring vacantly up at the sky.
Of course the French doll was dead—as stiff and stupid as a doll in a toy store—and you all know how stupid that is. No dolly is really alive until she belongs to some little girl who believes in her. When Princess Poppsy called her a toy, of course she toppled over, and nothing could bring her to life again. They worked over her a long time, then the Pink Rabbit and the Captain carried her sadly into her home, all the Cozytown folk following after.
No, not all—Princess Poppsy herself remained behind. And then, that thing that began with "G"—the thing the owl had warned all the Cozytown folk of—came stalking up to the wall and looked over. No one was in sight, and with a chuckle, a most wicked chuckle, he stepped clean over the wall and strode up to the Princess. It was a Giant!
The Princess screamed but nobody heard her, and the next minute this Giant, this most horrible Giant, had tucked her under his arm, and made off with steps at least a mile long.
The minute that he had touched her the town clock began tolling furiously and two hands upon its face flew round and round as if to make up for the time they had pointed to 3:00. Out rushed the pink rabbit—out tumbled the knitted gentleman—the Dutch dolls—their hands pressed to their bosoms—out, I say, rushed everybody. The owl, ruffled and angry, scolded the whole company roundly for deserting the Princess. The wooden soldiers ran madly to and fro trying to find her, but all they could find were the giant footsteps of the wretch who had carried her off. Such a wailing and weeping and searching time you never have seen. Dinah cried until she was perfectly limp. As for the Dutch dolls, the paint was worn off their faces entirely by their salt tears.
"This won't help matters!" said one of the Teddy bears gruffly. "Open the Gates!" ordered the owl, pushing to the front. Slowly the secret gates the Wall of Facts opened and fearfully the Jack-in-the-box, the knitted doll gentleman and as many more as could crowd in, peered out upon the real world. Yes, there were the great footprints, and following their direction the Cozytown folks gazed upon the glittering spires of a distant city. It was so far away that they could just see it mistily. The silence that had fallen upon the company (for they were a thinking how far away was the Princess) was broken by the Captain of the wooden soldiers.
"Let's go and bring her back!" said he. "Spoken like the brave fellow you are!" cried the pink rabbit. "Come, who'll go along!" Immediately everyone rushed forward, old Dinah falling flat upon her nose. "Let me go!"—"No, let me go." "Let me." "Let me," cried everyone at once. "This won't do," cried the owl, "some of us must stay at home to keep things in order. Let our brave Captain here and half of his men, Miss Amanda and Dinah, the Pink rabbit, and the knitted doll gentleman rescue the Princess—the rest of us must guard Cozytown, and make it ready for her Majesty's return."
That night—and it was the first night that Cozytown had ever known—the Captain of the wooden soldiers, rag doll Dinah, Miss Amanda, the pink rabbit and the knitted doll gentleman set out for the distant city. The other Cozytown folk cheered from the wall, and bade them return safely. The real world is a dangerous place for toy folk, and peering nervously on every side the little company made what speed they could, then toward twelve o'clock made camp. The wooden soldiers set up the tents, which they had fortunately brought with them, and the whole company lay down and disposed themselves for sleep.
Toward morning the whole camp was thrown into a panic. A tiger had attacked the knitted doll gentleman, and by the time the wooden soldiers came to the rescue he was almost undone—indeed he was unravelled to a frightful degree and quite weak from loss of wool. Fortunately Miss Amanda had her knitting needles with her and she soon knitted him together again, while the brave Captain chased the beast down the road. "Our misfortunes have only begun," predicted the pink rabbit gloomily, coming out of a hole in the ground to which he had retired with all speed. It was not really a tiger, dears only a cat, but I guess if you were only toy-size a cat would seem like a tiger to you!
Next morning, after breakfast of flap jacks and bacon cooked by Dinah, they set out once more upon their journey. It seemed that the pink rabbit's prediction was only too true. How can I tell you all the troubles of that brave company on their way to rescue the Princess? A flock of geese chased them and pecked their heels viciously. A
terrible thunder shower came up in the night, blew away their tents and drenched them through and through. So, at the end of five days, it was a forlorn little company that stood at the gates of the city. Miss Amanda with her arm in a sling, and the paint gone from her cheeks, the Captain and all the wooden soldiers streaked with dust and mud, Dinah in a sorry state of limpness, and the pink rabbit and the knitted gentleman were too washed out and shabby for words. "At last!" whispered Miss Amanda wearily, stepping in between the bars of the gate. At that minute they all gave a start. No wonder! For leaning back upon the cushions of a carriage that just turned into the street was Princess Poppsy herself. How the poor toys ran to keep the carriage in sight. It drew up before the door of a fine mansion, and the Princess (there was a young man with her I am sorry to say) and her companion hurried in, but before the door swung shut, the pink rabbit, who could run faster than the others, had slipped in, too.
"Here's a nice state of things," said the knitted doll gentleman bitterly, looking at the closed door. But just then the rabbit's head appeared at a side window. They hurried around till they were beneath it and saw that he was letting down a piece of cord. "Found it in the scrap basket. Catch a-hold!" he whispered. One after the other they were drawn up and found themselves in a beautiful hall. "She's in there," said the rabbit, hopping sadly down from the window ledge and pointing to a large room that opened out onto the hall. The sound of music and laughter came wafting out to the forlorn little toys and made them feel shabbier and lonelier than ever.
At last they picked up courage, and, forming into a procession, marched bravely into the big bright room. There were a great many people there, and no one seemed to notice them. Keeping well out of sight they made straight for the corner where the Princess sat talking to a young man I have mentioned before. How the Princess had changed—goodness, but she seemed big—what was the matter? Rushing forward old Dinah threw herself at her feet! "Come back! Come back!" she wailed. "Have you forgotten us?" cried Miss Amanda. The Princess jumped to her feet with a little laugh. "Why how did they get here?" she murmured, half aloud. "What?" questioned the young man looking around.
"Why, my old toys!" laughed the Princess. Horrors! At the word "toys," every one of the brave company toppled over and there they lay in a stiff little heap. Then they were carried up to the dim attic and there they are lying this very minute, lifeless and still, waiting for another little girl or boy to believe in them, to take them back to Cozytown with its rose-covered cottages and days that are all sunshine.
For Princess Poppsy had grown up, my dears. The Giant Grownupness had carried her away from Cozytown forever to a country where all must go at last and from which they may never return.