Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

The Secret of Killimooin tss-4, Page 2

Enid Blyton

  “The sea! Look — through the clouds. Hi, Ranni, Ranni, isn’t that the sea already?”

  Ranni turned and nodded. “We are going very fast,” he shouted. “We want to be in Baronia by lunch time.”

  “I’m so happy,” said Nora, her eyes shining. “I’ve always wanted to go to Baronia, Paul. And now we’re really going.”

  “I am happy too,” said Paul. “I like your country, and I like you, too. But I like Baronia better. Maybe you also will like Baronia better.”

  “Rubbish!” said Mike. “As if any country could be nicer than our own!”

  “You will see,” said the little prince. “Have some more chocolate?”

  The children helped themselves from Paul’s packet. “Well, I certainly think your chocolate is better than ours,” said Mike, munching contentedly. “Look, there’s the sea again. Doesn’t it look smooth and flat?”

  It was fun watching for the sea to appear and reappear between the gaps in the clouds.. Then the plane flew over land again. The clouds cleared away, and the children could see the country below, spread out like an enormous, coloured map.

  They flew over great towns, wreathed in misty smoke. They flew over stretches of green countryside, where farms and houses looked like toys. They watched the rivers, curling along like blue and silver snakes. They flew over tall mountains, and on some of them was snow.

  “Funny to see that in the middle of summer,” said Mike. “How’s the time getting on? I say — twelve o’clock already! We shall be there in another hour or so.”

  The plane roared along steadily. Ranni took Pilescu’s place after two hours had gone by. He sat and talked to the children for a while, gazing devotedly at the little prince. Mike thought he was like a big dog, worshipping his master! He thought Paul was very lucky to have such friends as Ranni and Pilescu.

  “Soon we shall see the palace,” he said, looking down. “Now we are over the borders of Baronia, Paul! Look, there is the river Jollu! And there is the town of Kikibora.”

  Paul began to look excited. It was three months since he had been home, and he was longing to see his father and mother, and his little brothers and sisters.

  Mike and Jack fell silent. They wondered if Paul’s mother would be at the airfield to greet them. Would they have to kiss her hand? “I shall really feel an awful idiot,” thought Mike, uncomfortably.

  “There is the palace!” cried Paul, suddenly. The children saw a palace standing on a hillside — a palace that almost seemed to have come straight from a fairytale! It was a beautiful place, with shining towers and minarets, and below it was a blue lake in which the reflection of the palace shone.

  “Oh! It’s beautiful!” said Nora. “Oh, Paul — I feel rather grand. Fancy living in a palace! It may seem ordinary to you — but it’s wonderful to me!”

  The aeroplane circled round and flew lower. Beside the palace was a great runway, on which the royal planes landed. Ranni’s plane swooped low like a bird, its great wheels skimmed the ground, the plane slowed down and came to a halt not far from a little crowd of people.

  “Welcome to Baronia!” said Paul, his eyes shining. “Welcome to Baronia!”

  The Palace in Baronia

  Ranni and Pilescu helped the five children down from the plane. Paul ran straight to a very lovely lady smiling nearby. He bowed low, kissed her hand, and then flung himself on her, chattering quickly in Baronian. It was his mother, the queen. She laughed and cried at the same time, fondling the little prince’s hair, and kissing his cheeks.

  Paul’s father was there, too, a handsome man, straight and tall, dressed in uniform. Paul saluted him smartly and then leapt into his arms. Then he turned to four smaller children standing nearby, his brothers and sisters. Paul kissed the hands of his little sisters and saluted his brothers. Then they kissed, all talking at once.

  Soon it was the other children’s turn to say how-do-you-do. They had already met Paul’s father and liked him, but they had never seen the little prince’s mother. Nora and Peggy thought she looked a real queen, lovely enough to be in a fairy tale. She wore the Baronian dress beautifully, and her full red and blue skirt swung gracefully as she walked.

  She kissed Nora and Peggy and spoke to them in English. “Welcome, little girls!” she said. “I am so glad to see Paul’s friends. You have been so good to him in England. I hope you will be very happy here.”

  Then it was the boys’ turn to be welcomed. Both of them felt hot and bothered about kissing the Queen’s hand, but after all, it was quite easy! Mike stepped forward first, and the Queen held out her hand to him. Mike found himself bending down and kissing it quite naturally! Jack followed, and then they saluted Paul’s father.

  “Come along to the palace now,” said the Queen. “You must be very hungry after your long journey. We have all Paul’s favourite dishes — and I hope you will like them too.”

  The children were glad that Paul’s mother could speak English. They had been trying to learn the Baronian language from Paul, but he was not a good teacher. He would go off into peals of laughter at the comical way they pronounced the difficult words of the Baronian language, and it was difficult to get any sense out of him when he was in one of his giggling fits.

  The children stared in awe at the palace. They had never seen one like it before, outside of books. It was really magnificent, though not enormous. With the great mountain behind it, and the shining blue lake below, it looked like a dream palace. They walked through a garden full of strange and sweet-smelling flowers and came to a long flight of steps. They climbed these and entered the palace through a wide-open door at which stood six footmen in a line, dressed in the Baronian livery of blue and silver.

  After them clattered the little brothers and sisters of Paul, with their nurses. Peggy and Nora thought the small children were sweet. They were all very like Paul, and had big dark eyes.

  “We shan’t be bothered much with these babies,” said Paul, in rather a lordly voice. “Of course, they wanted to welcome me. But they live in the nurseries. We shall have our own rooms, and Pilescu will wait on us.”

  This was rather a relief to hear. Although the children liked the look of Paul’s father and mother very much, they had felt it might be rather embarrassing to live with a king and queen and have meals with them. It was good to hear that they were to be on their own.

  Paul took them to their rooms. The girls had a wonderful bedroom overlooking the lake. It was all blue and silver. The ceiling was painted blue with silver stars shining there. The girls thought it was wonderful. The bedspread was the same beautiful blue, embroidered with shining silver stars.

  “I shall never dare to sleep in this bed,” said Peggy, in an awed voice. “It’s a four-poster bed — like you see in old pictures — and big enough to take six of us, not two! Oh, Nora — isn’t this marvellous fun?”

  The boys had two bedrooms between them — one big one for Mike and Jack, with separate beds. “About half a mile apart!” said Jack, with a laugh, when he saw the enormous bedroom with its two beds, one each end. Paul had a bedroom to himself, leading out of the other one, even bigger!

  “However do you manage to put up with living in a dormitory with twelve other boys, when you have a bedroom like this at home?” said Mike to the little prince. “I say — what a wonderful view!”

  Mike’s room had two sets of windows. One set looked out over the blue lake and the other looked up the hillside on which the palace was built. It was a grand country.

  “It’s wild and rugged and rough and beautiful,” said Paul. “Not like your country. Yours is quite tame. It is like a tame cat, sitting by the fire. Mine is like a wild tiger roaming the hills.”

  “He’s gone all poetic again!” said Mike, with a laugh. But he knew what Paul meant, all the same. There was something very wild and exciting about Baronia. It looked so beautiful, smiling under the summer sun — but it might not be all it seemed to be on the surface. It was not “tamed” like their own country — it
was still wild, and parts of it quite unknown.

  The children washed in basins that seemed to be made of silver. They dried their hands on towels embroidered with the Baronian arms. Everything was perfect. It seemed almost a shame to dirty the towels or make the clear water in the basins dirty and soapy!

  They went with Paul to have lunch. They were to have it with the King and Queen, although after that they would have meals in their own play-room, a big room near their bedrooms, which Paul had already shown them. The toys there had made them gasp. An electric railway ran down one side of the room, on which Paul’s trains could run. A Meccano set, bigger than any the children had ever-seen, was in another corner, with a beautiful bridge made from the pieces, left by Paul from the last holidays. Everything a boy could want was there! It would be great fun to explore that play-room!

  The lunch was marvellous. The children did not know any of the dishes, but they all tasted equally delicious. If this was Baronian food they could eat plenty! Paul’s mother talked to them in English, and Paul’s father made one or two jokes. Paul chattered away to his parents, sometimes in Baronian and sometimes in English. He told them all about the things he did at school.

  Jack nudged Mike. “You’d think Paul was head-boy to hear him talk!” he said, in a low tone. “We’ll tease him about this afterwards!”

  It was a happy meal. The children were very hungry, but by the time lunch was nearing an end they could not eat another scrap. Jack looked longingly at a kind of pink ice-cream with what looked like purple cherries in it. But no — he could not even manage another ice.

  Ranni and Pilescu did not eat with the others. They stood quietly, one behind the King’s chair and one behind Paul’s. A line of soldiers, in the blue and silver uniform, stood at the end of the room. The four English children couldn’t help feeling rather grand, eating their lunch with a king, a queen, and a prince, with soldiers on guard at the back. Baronia was going to be fun!

  Paul took them all over the palace afterwards. It was a magnificent place, strongly built, with every room flooded with the summer sunshine. The nurseries were full of Paul’s younger brothers and sisters. There was a baby in a carved cradle too, covered by a blue and silver rug. It opened big dark eyes when the two girls bent over it.

  The nurseries were as lovely as the big play-room that belonged to Paul. The children stared in wonder at the amount of toys.

  “It’s like the biggest toy-shop I’ve ever seen!” said Jack. “And yet, when Paul’s at school, the thing he likes best of all is that little old ship I once carved out of a bit of wood!”

  Paul was pleased that the others liked his home. He did not boast or show off. It was natural to him to live in a palace and have everything he wanted. He was a warmhearted, friendly little boy who loved to share everything with his friends. Before he had gone to England he had had no friends of his own — but now that he had Mike, Jack, Peggy and Nora, he was very happy. It was marvellous to him to have them with him in Baronia.

  “We’ll bathe in the lake, and we’ll sail to the other side, and we’ll go driving in the mountains,” said Paul. “We’ll have a perfectly gorgeous time. I only hope it won’t get too hot. If it does, we’ll have to go to the mountains where it’s cooler.”

  The children were very tired by the time that first day came to an end. They seemed to have walked miles in and around the palace, exploring countless rooms, and looking out of countless turrets. They had gone all round the glorious gardens, and had been saluted by numbers of gardeners. Everyone seemed very pleased to see them.

  They had tea and supper on the terrace outside the play-room. Big, colourful umbrellas sheltered the table from the sun. The blue lake shimmered below.

  “I wish I hadn’t eaten so much lunch,” groaned Mike, as he looked at the exciting array of cakes and biscuits and sandwiches before him. “I simply don’t know what to do. I know I shan’t want any supper if I eat this tea — and if supper is anything like lunch, I shall just break my heart if I’m not hungry for it.”

  “Oh, you’ll be hungry all right,” said Paul. “Go on — have what you want.”

  Before supper the children went for a sail on the lake in Prince Paul’s own sailing boat. Ranni went with them. It was lovely and cool on the water. Jack looked at lie girls’ burnt faces.

  “We shall be brown as berries in a day or two,” he said. “We’re all brown now — but we shall get another layer very quickly. My arms are burning! I shan’t put them in water tonight! They will sting too much.”

  “You’ll have to hold your arms above your head when you have your bath, then,” said Mike. “You will look funny!”

  The children were almost too tired to undress and bath themselves that night. Yawning widely they took off their clothes, cleaned their teeth and washed. A bath was sunk into the floor of each bedroom. Steps led down to it. It seemed funny to the children to go down into a bath, instead of just hopping over the side of one. But it was all fun.

  The girls got into their big four-poster, giggling. It seemed so big to them after the narrow beds they had at school.

  “I shall lose you in the night!” said Nora to Peggy.

  The boys jumped into their beds, too. Paul left the door open between his bedroom and that of Mike’s and Jack’s, so that he might shout to them. But there was very little shouting that night. The children’s eyes were heavy and they could not keep them open. The day had been almost too exciting.

  “Now we’re living in Baronia,” whispered Peggy to herself. “We’re in Baronia, in…” And then she was fast asleep, whilst outside the little waves at the edge of the lake lapped quietly all night long.

  An Exciting Trip

  The first week glided by, golden with sunshine. The children enjoyed themselves thoroughly, though Nora often complained of the heat. All of them now wore the Baronian dress, and fancied themselves very much in it.

  The girls wore tight bodices of white and blue, with big silver buttons, and full skirts of red and blue. They wore no stockings, but curious little half-boots, laced up with red. The boys wore embroidered trousers, with cool shirts open at the neck, and a broad belt. They, too, wore the half-boots, and found them very comfortable.

  At first they all felt as if they were in fancy dress, but they soon got used to it. “I shan’t like going back to ordinary clothes,” said Nora, looking at herself in the long mirror. “I do so love the way this skirt swings out round me. Look, Mike — there are yards of material in it.”

  Mike was fastening his belt round him. He stuck his scout knife into it. He looked at himself in the mirror, too. “I look a bit like a pirate or something,” he said. “Golly, I wish the boys at school could see me now! Wouldn’t they be green with envy!”

  “They’d laugh at you,” said Nora. “You wouldn’t dare to wear those clothes in England. I hope the Queen will let me take mine back with me. I could wear them at a fancy-dress party. I bet I’d win the prize!”

  That first week was glorious. The children were allowed to do anything they wanted to, providing that Ranni or Pilescu was with them. They rode little mountain ponies through the hills. They bathed at least five times a day in the warm waters of the lake. They sailed every evening. They went by car to the nearest big town, and rode in the buses there. They were quaint buses, fat and squat, painted blue and silver. Everything was different, every thing was strange.

  “England must have seemed very queer to you at first, Paul,” said Mike to the little prince, realizing for the first time how difficult the boy must have found living in a strange country.

  Paul nodded. He was very happy to show his friends everything. Now, when he was back at school again in England, and wanted to talk about his home and his country, Jack and Mike would understand all he said, and would listen gladly.

  Towards the end of the first week Pilescu made a suggestion. “Why do you not take your friends in the aeroplane, and show them how big your country is?” he asked Paul. “I will take you all.”
  “Oh yes, Pilescu — let’s do that!” cried Mike. “Let’s fly over the mountains and the forests, and see everything!”

  “I will show you the Secret Forest,” said Prince Paul, unexpectedly.

  The others stared at him. “What’s the Secret Forest?” asked Jack. “What’s secret about it?”

  “It’s a queer place,” said Paul. “Nobody has ever been there!”

  “Well, how do you know it’s there, then?” asked Mike.

  “We’ve seen it from aeroplanes,” said Paul. “We’ve flown over it.”

  “Why hasn’t anyone ever been into this forest?” asked Peggy. “Someone must have, Paul. I don’t believe there is anywhere in the whole world that people haven’t explored now.”

  “I tell you no one has ever been in the Secret Forest,” said Paul, obstinately. “And I’ll tell you why. Look — get me that map over there, Mike.”

  Mike threw him over a rolled-up map. Paul unrolled it and spread it flat on a table. He found the place he wanted and pointed to it.

  “This is a map of Baronia,” he said. “You can see what a rugged, mountainous country it is. Now look — do you see these mountains here?”

  The children bent over to look. The mountains were coloured brown and had a queer name — Killimooin. Paul’s brown finger pointed to them. “These mountains are a queer shape,” said the little prince. “Killimooin Mountains form an almost unbroken circle — and in the midst of them, in a big valley, is the Secret Forest.”

  His finger pointed to a tiny speck of green shown in the middle of Killimooin Mountains. “There you are,” he said. “That dot of green is supposed to be the Secret Forest. It is an enormous forest, really, simply enormous, and goodness knows what wild animals there are there.”

  “Yes, but Paul, why hasn’t anyone been to see?” asked Mike, impatiently. “Why can’t they just climb the mountains and go down the other side to explore the forest?”