DigiCat Publishing presents to you this special edition of "Prince Ricardo of Pantouflia: Being the Adventures of Prince Prigio's Son" by Andrew Lang. DigiCat Publishing considers every written word to be a legacy of humankind. Every DigiCat book has been carefully reproduced for republishing in a new modern format. The books are available in print, as well as ebooks. DigiCat hopes you will treat this work with the acknowledgment and passion it deserves as a classic of world literature.
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There may be children whose education has been so neglected that they have not read Prince Prigio. As this new story is about Prince Prigio’s son, Ricardo, you are to learn that Prigio was the child and heir of Grognio, King of Pantouflia. The fairies gave the little Prince cleverness, beauty, courage; but one wicked fairy added, “You shall be too clever.” His mother, the queen, hid away in a cupboard all the fairy presents,—the Sword of Sharpness, the Seven-League Boots, the Wishing Cap, and many other useful and delightful gifts, in which her Majesty did not believe! But after Prince Prigio had become universally disliked and deserted, because he was so very clever and conceited, he happened to find all the fairy presents in the old turret chamber where they had been thrown. By means of these he delivered his country from a dreadful Red-Hot Beast, called the Firedrake, and, in addition to many other triumphs, he married the good and beautiful Lady Rosalind. His love for her taught him not to be conceited, though he did not cease to be extremely clever and fond of reading.
When this new story begins the Prince has succeeded to the crown, on the death of King Grognio, and is unhappy about his own son, Prince Ricardo, who is not clever, and who hates books! The story tells of Ricardo’s adventures: how he tried to bring back Prince Charlie to England, how he failed; how he dealt with the odious old Yellow Dwarf; how he was aided by the fair magician, the Princess Jaqueline; how they both fell into a dreadful trouble; how King Prigio saved them; and how Jaqueline’s dear and royal papa was discovered; with the end of all these adventures. The moral of the story will easily be discovered by the youngest reader, or, if not, it does not much matter.
“I’m sure I don’t know what to do with that boy!” said King Prigio of Pantouflia.
“If you don’t know, my dear,” said Queen Rosalind, his illustrious consort, “I can’t see what is to be done. You are so clever.”
The king and queen were sitting in the royal library, of which the shelves were full of the most delightful fairy books in all languages, all equally familiar to King Prigio. The queen could not read most of them herself, but the king used to read them aloud to her. A good many years had passed—seventeen, in fact—since Queen Rosalind was married, but you would not think it to look at her. Her grey eyes were as kind and soft and beautiful, her dark hair as dark, and her pretty colour as like a white rose blushing, as on the day when she was a bride. And she was as fond of the king as when he was only Prince Prigio, and he was as fond of her as on the night when he first met her at the ball.
“No, I don’t know what to do with Dick,” said the king.
He meant his son, Prince Ricardo, but he called him Dick in private.
“I believe it’s the fault of his education,” his Majesty went on. “We have not brought him up rightly. These fairy books are at the bottom of his provoking behaviour,” and he glanced round the shelves. “Now, when I was a boy, my dear mother tried to prevent me from reading fairy books, because she did not believe in fairies.”
“But she was wrong, you know,” said the queen. “Why, if it had not been for all these fairy presents, the Cap of Darkness and all the rest of them, you never could have killed the Fire-beast and the Ice-beast, and—you never could have married me,” the queen added, in a happy whisper, blushing beautifully, for that was a foolish habit of hers.
“It is quite true,” said the king, “and therefore I thought it best to bring Dick up on fairy books, that he might know what is right, and have no nonsense about him. But perhaps the thing has been overdone; at all events, it is not a success. I wonder if fathers and sons will ever understand each other, and get on well together? There was my poor father, King Grognio, he wanted me to take to adventures, like other princes, fighting Firedrakes, and so forth; and I did not care for it, till you set me on,” and he looked very kindly at her Majesty. “And now, here’s Dick,” the monarch continued, “I can’t hold him back. He is always after a giant, or a dragon, or a magician, as the case may be; he will certainly be ploughed for his examination at College. Never opens a book. What does he care, off after every adventure he can hear about? An idle, restless youth! Ah, my poor country, when I am gone, what may not be your misfortunes under Ricardo!”
Here his Majesty sighed, and seemed plunged in thought.
“But you are not going yet, my dear,” said the queen. “Why you are not forty! And young people will be young people. You were quite proud when poor Dick came home with his first brace of gigantic fierce birds, killed off his own sword, and with such a pretty princess he had rescued—dear Jaqueline? I’m sure she is like a daughter to me. I cannot do without her.”
“I wish she were a daughter-in-law; I wish Dick would take a fancy to marry her,” said the king. “A nicer girl I never saw.”
“And so accomplished,” added Queen Rosalind. “That girl can turn herself into anything—a mouse, a fly, a lion, a wheelbarrow, a church! I never knew such talent for magic. Of course she had the best of teachers, the Fairy Paribanou herself; but very few girls, in our time, devote so many hours to practice as dear Jaqueline. Even now, when she is out of the schoolroom, she still practises her scales. I saw her turning little Dollie into a fish and back again in the bath-room last night. The child was delighted.”
In these times, you must know, princesses learned magic, just as they learn the piano nowadays; but they had their music lessons too, dancing, calisthenics, and the use of the globes.
“Yes, she’s a dear, good girl,” said the king; “yet she looks melancholy. I believe, myself, that if Ricardo asked her to marry him, she would not say ‘No.’ But that’s just one of the things I object to most in Dick. Round the world he goes, rescuing ladies from every kind of horror—from dragons, giants, cannibals, magicians; and then, when a girl naturally expects to be married to him, as is usual, off he rides! He has no more heart than a flounder. Why, at his age I—”
“At his age, my dear, you were so hard-hearted that you were quite a proverb. Why, I have been told that you used to ask girls dreadful puzzling questions, like ‘Who was Cæsar Borgia?’ ‘What do you know of Edwin and Morcar?’ and so on.”
“I had not seen you then,” said the king.
“And Ricardo has not seen her, whoever she may be. Besides, he can’t possibly marry all of them. And I think a girl should consider herself lucky if she is saved from a dragon or a giant, without expecting to be married next day.”
“Perhaps; but it is usual,” said the king, “and their families expect it, and keep sending ambassadors to know what Dick’s intentions are. I would not mind it all so very much if he killed the monsters off his own sword, as he did that first brace, in fair fight. But ever since he found his way into that closet where the fairy presents lie, everything has been made too easy for him. It is a royal road to glory, or giant-slaying made easy. In his Cap of Darkness a poor brute of a dragon can’t see him. In his Shoes of Swiftness the giants can’t catch him. His Sword of Sharpness would cut any oak asunder at a blow!”
“But you were very glad of them when you made the Ice-beast and the Fire-beast fight and kill each other,” said the queen.
“Yes, my dear; but it wanted some wit, if I may say so, to do that, and Dick just goes at it hammer and tongs: anybody could do it. It’s intellect I miss in Ricardo. How am I to know whether he could make a good fight for it without all these fairy things? I wonder what the young rogue is about to-day? He’ll be late for dinner, as usual, I daresay. I can’t stand want of punctuality at meals,” remarked his Majesty, which is a sign that he was growing old after all; for where is the fun of being expected always to come home in time for dinner when, perhaps, you are fishing, and the trout are rising splendidly?
“Young people will be young people,” said the queen. “If you are anxious about him, why don’t you look for him in the magic crystal?”
Now the magic crystal was a fairy present, a great ball of glass in which, if you looked, you saw the person you wanted to see, and what he was doing, however far away he might be, if he was on the earth at all. 
“I’ll just take a look at it,” said the king; “it only wants three-quarters of an hour to dinner-time.”
His Majesty rose, and walked to the crystal globe, which was in a stand, like other globes. He stared into it, he turned it round and round, and Queen Rosalind saw him grow quite pale as he gazed.
“I don’t see him anywhere,” said the king, “and I have looked everywhere. I do hope nothing has happened to the boy. He is so careless. If he dropped his Cap of Darkness in a fight with a giant, why who knows what might occur?”
“Oh, ’Gio, how you frighten me!” said the queen.
King Prigio was still turning the crystal globe.
“Stop!” he cried; “I see a beautiful princess, fastened by iron chains to a rock beside the sea, in a lonely place. They must have fixed her up as a sacrifice to a sea-monster, like what’s-her-name.”
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