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How Rana heard that the Batrachians wanted a King, The true Story of

King Log and King Stork, with some private particulars of what really happened.

FOR

OR three days Rana dwelt with the Batrachians,

who were the followers of the Lord Keeper of the King's Conscience, and all of whom were loyal to the throne, though they declared that the insurgents, by the direction of their leader, had set up a log of wood as king, and followed laws which the Rebel Chief had

drawn up.

The revolution was at its height when they left, and the Court was in great danger from the mob, which

was

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paraded every day in front of the palace, demanding the abdication of his Majesty, and carrying the block that they called King Log in a sort of sedan chair. Nobody paid any taxes, and altogether the monarch in bad

way,

and the throne of Batrachia was likely soon to be vacant, for the King was dangerously ill.

They were very despondent as to what could be done in the event of the King's death ; but Rana told them that wise men did one thing at a time, and that their present business was to circumvent the Stork.

The Batrachians made much of the Troubadour, to whom their leader paid so great honour that he made him share his lodging in the forked root of a great alder tree, and had him served at his own table.

On the third evening, when Rana set out to meet the Mouselanders, a dozen Batrachians would have gone with him as a body guard; but he took only his mandolin, and, putting his sword in his belt, went forth alone. Now he had only just reached a turn in the road, and had sat down on a bank to tune his gittern, that he might lighten the way with a song, when he heard a sound of talking in a part of the wood where a stump of an old tree was almost hidden in a thicket of leaves and flowers by the margin of a little pool. It was not yet dark, and a couple of thrushes were carolling a woodland ditty on a green bough that grew out of the old trunk. It was the sudden ceasing of their song that first drew Rana's attention to the cackling of voices far more discordant.

He could have sworn that he had heard that harsh disagreeable talk before, and as there was no other way of seeing who was there than by creeping quietly into the pool, he waded as far as he could by the help of his staff, and looked up from beneath the dark shadow of the leaves and weeds.

There could be no mistake about it; there was Madam Duck, with her sly old eye turned up as though she was the most innocent and moral of mortals, talking to a tall long-legged stranger, with a sharp beak and a short tail, in whom Rana at once recognized that military Stork of whom the Oozly bird had spoken to him. He was a fierce-looking, lanky, swaggering fellow, but rather shabbily dressed, and with his short tail and his long legs, looked about as ungraceful one way as Madam Duck did the other. It seemed, by the by, that Madam had recently married; for a corpulent Drake, in a short silk spencer and silver waistcoat, stood by her side waiting for an opportunity to join in the conversation ; but Madam never gave him the chance of saying a word, she cackled so fast and so loud, while it was evident that both she and her husband were flattered by the attention of such a fashionable military swaggerer as this notorious cadet of the Stork family.

The intelligence which the pair had come all the way from Batrachia to bring was, that the King was dead, that the Court was all in disorder, and that the insurgents only waited his coming to proclaim him King, after they had shut up or even assassinated the Crown Prince.

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The three conspirators chuckled as they talked of the retribution which would fall on the misguided Batrachians, who were impatient to exchange their legitimate monarch for a King Log, and to abolish King Log for King Stork, who would swallow up their land, eat their substance, and mortgage their territory to repair his own fortune, which had been squandered in gambling and riotous living. But there was something of still greater interest to Rana; for presently, in the midst of their laughing and chuckling, he heard his own name mentioned.

"My friends, the Owls, tell me that a minstrel fellow out of Batrachia fell into their hands a few days ago," said the Stork; "and that they gave him a severe mauling, after which he fell over a precipice, and was, most likely, dashed in pieces.”

That must have been Rana, the Parish Clerk,” said Madam Duck. “Everybody in Batrachia believes him to be dead, except Sauriana and a few people in Slosh; but it matters very little what she thinks, for my old friend the Spider, who is as false a villain as I would wish to have for my enemy, has laid a spell upon her, and there she lies in the Mayor's house beyond Toppititti ; and, what is more, she isn't likely to get out in a hurry, for there has been a landslip, and the water is all out, so that she is in the middle of an island in an island, and nobody pays much attention to her or her stupid old father either in these troublous times.”

" Ah, well! I'll look the old fellow up when I come,” said the Stork. “These Sandboys are a rich set, I'm told, and I'll pay him the compliment of inviting his daughter to Court and borrowing some money of him.”

"Court, indeed,” said Madam Duck, mightily offended, “ if that's how you're going to begin, I'd advise you not to come to Batrachia.”

The Stork gave her a fierce look, but presently laughed and said he was only joking. Then apologizing for having no house in that part of the country to which he could invite the pair, he bade them good bye, saying,–

• I shall be at Toppititti in three weeks, and I go to meet the Batrachian deputation to-night."

“ I will be there too,” cackled Madam Duck in a low tone, as he strode away.

“And so will I,” said Rana, as he bounded to the bank, and regained the road.

He had first, however, to meet the Mouselanders, and when he reached the spot he found a large number of them assembled together with a small band of the Ratti, who swore that they would stand his friend for ridding them of the Feline, who it appears died of the cold water which he had taken into his stomach in the vat.

Rana mistrusted the whole Ratti race, but he knew they could do just the sort of work he wanted, and he had the satisfaction of seing them start off, with a large number of efficient Mouselanders, led by Master Mus himself, on an expedition which pleased them mightily,

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