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The King of Schnorrers by Israel Zangwill

' Now a 'Johnny Noddy' argueth a mirror


[Illustration:

THE DAMSEL OF THE TOWER.]

"And so thou hast employed this pigeon as a carrier between thee and this suburban young person?" cried the Black Prince, feeling vaguely boiling over with rage.

"Even so," answered his brother, "but guard thy tongue. The lady of whom thou speakest so disrespectfully is none other than the Princess of Paphlagonia."

"Eh? What?" gasped the Black Prince.

"She hath resided there since the twelfth moon of last year. The King received her the first time he set out to meet her."

"Dost thou dare say the King hath spoken untruth?"

"Nay, nay. The King is a wise man. Wise men never mean what they say. The King said she was confined to her room. It is true, for he had confined her in the Tower with her maidens for fear she should fall in love with the wrong Prince, or the reverse, before the rightful heir was discovered. The King said she would not arrive in the city till next year. This also is true. As thou didst rightly observe, the Tower of Telifonia is situated in the suburbs. The King did not bargain for my discovering that a beautiful woman lived in its topmost turret."

"Nay, how couldst thou discover that? The King did not lend thee the magic car, and thou certainly couldst not see her at that height without the magic

glass!"

"I have not seen her. But through the embrasure I often saw the sunlight flashing and leaping like a thing of life, and I knew it was what the children call a 'Johnny Noddy.' Now a 'Johnny Noddy' argueth a mirror, and a mirror argueth a woman, and frequent use thereof argueth a beautiful woman. So, when in the Presence Chamber the King told us of his dilemma as to the hand of the Princess of Paphlagonia, it instantly dawned upon me who the beautiful woman was, and why the King was keeping her hidden away, and why he had hidden away his meaning also. Wherefore straightway I asked for a pigeon, knowing that the pigeons of the town roost on the Tower of Telifonia, so that I had but to fly my bird at the end of a long string like a kite to establish communication between me and the fair captive. In time my little messenger grew so used to the journey to and fro that I could dispense with the string. Our courtship has been most satisfactory. We love each other ardently, and--"

"But you have never seen each other!" interrupted the Black Prince.

"Thou forgettest we are both royal personages," said the Blue Prince in astonished reproof.

"But this is gross treachery--what right hadst thou to make these underhand advances in our absence?"

"Thou forgettest I had to scotch the Serpent," said the Blue Prince in astonished reproof. "Thou forgettest also that she can only marry the heir to the throne."

"Ah, true!" said the Black Prince, considerably relieved. "And as thou hast chosen to fritter away the time in making love to her, thou hast taken the best way to lose her."


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