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Shakespeare and the Bible: Wayback Wednesday


Falstaff rebuked, (Robert Smirke, c. 1795)
Falstaff rebuked, (Robert Smirke, c. 1795)

T.S. Elliot famously said “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.” Elliot was not condoning plagiarism in the least. What he was talking about influences of other writers; that a great writer takes inspiration and ideas from others. Takes those influences and molds them into something larger and more personal than the original was. Baum takes inspiration from old fairy tales and continues to mold them into a new, unique story.


However, he also references other famous works. These range from the Bible to the works of William Shakespeare. In the case of the new king, he discusses how uncomfortable Bud finds himself. He can’t believe he truly is the new king of Noland, and is wondering when the dream will end, or the joke will be revealed. This is continued through both the newest chapters as Bud has to deal with dispensing justice to his petitioners. In Henry IV Part 2, Shakespeare said “Uneasy is the head that wears the crown.” There is no one above the king. The responsibility for all of the mistakes made can only fall to him. Bud recognizes this and is unhappy because of it.


Baum also references the Bible, specifically the story of King Solomon. The advisors listen to the way Bud, with Fluff’s assistance, deals with the problems of the land. His solutions are thought to be fair, just, and wise. King Solomon is often called the Wise King. His justice was dispensed with thoughtfulness and wisdom as well. Baum assumes that both the adult reader and the child listener will be fully familiar with the stories of Solomon and see the connections.


References to earlier works can help the reader grasp certain concepts more easily in a story or novel. A few words pointing to another work allow the mind to fill in blanks which prevents the writer from needing to spend precious word count explaining a concept the reader is already familiar with.


Chapter V: Princess Fluff


The chapter starts with the kingdom being read the relevant law so they understand why Bud was chosen king. Everyone is fairly happy with this, as they think a young king is a good idea.

Then we see how Bud and Fluff are taking an unsurprising child-like view of the situation, They are happy because they now have unrestrained power and can do whatever they like. This also shows the lack of understanding they have of the king’s duties. As such, the first thing the pair thinks about is new clothing. This isn’t a surprise, even in modern times. Clothing is often used to tell someone’s station, even today. How often in films or books, such as The Prince and the Pauper, do the clothing truly decide how a person is treated. Other examples include Orange is the New Black or My Fair Lady.


Chapter VI: Bud Dispenses Justice


We get a quick view of the funeral for the old king of Noland, though Baum doesn’t linger on it. The death was only important as a way to move the story forward. I suspect this may be the last time we see him focus any time on the old king.

The rest of the chapter is taken up with Bud needing to dispense settlements among his people. Here having Fluff at his side is shown to be helpful. Fluff comes up with several ways to make fair decisions, leading to the councilors remarking that Bud’s wisdom reminds them of Solomon’s.

This does not prevent Bud and Fluff from being tricked into giving the wrong person a cow. However, Bud shows good thought in giving the other person a cow from the royal stables to make up for his mistake.

Then Aunt Rivette shows up and demands a place in the palace, as is the law. Bud reacts like the child he is, upset that he can’t play and angry that his aunt switched him sixteen times. He demands the King’s Executioner give his aunt sixteen switches in revenge. She begs him not to, and King Bud relents, but requires her to get out of his sight.

Aunt Rivette does leave for the upper rooms, but intends to take full advantage of her position as his aunt to get whatever she wants.



Chapter VII


THE WINGS OF AUNT RIVETTE


Bud and Meg had plenty to occupy them in looking over and admiring their new possessions. First they went to the princess’s rooms, where Fluff ordered her seven maids to spread out all the beautiful gowns she had received. And forty of them made quite an imposing show, I assure you. They were all dainty and sweet and of rich material, suitable for all occasions, and of all colors and shades. Of course there were none with trains, for Margaret, although a princess, was only a little girl; but the gowns were gay with bright ribbons and jeweled buttons and clasps; and each one had its hat and hosiery and slippers to match.


After admiring the dresses for a time, they looked at Bud’s new clothes—twenty suits of velvets, brocades, and finely woven cloths. Some had diamonds and precious gems sewn on them for ornaments, while others were plain; but the poorest suit there was finer than the boy had ever dreamed of possessing.


There were also many articles of apparel to go with these suits, such as shoes with diamond buckles, silken stockings, neck laces, and fine linen; and there was a beautiful little sword, with a gold scabbard and a jeweled hilt, that the little king could wear on state occasions.


However, when the children had examined the gowns and suits to their satisfaction, they began looking for other amusement.


“Do you know, Fluff,” said the boy, “there isn’t a single toy or plaything in this whole palace?”


“I suppose the old king didn’t care for playthings,” replied Fluff, thoughtfully.


Just then there was a knock at the door, and Aunt Rivette came hobbling into the room. Her wrinkled old face was full of eagerness, and in her hands she clasped the purse of golden coins the lord high purse-bearer had given her.


“See what I’ve got!” she cried, holding out the purse. “And I’m going to buy the finest clothes in all the kingdom! And ride in the king’s carriage! And have a man to wait upon me! And make Mammy Skib and Mistress Kappleson and all the other neighbors wild with jealousy!”


“I don’t care,” said Bud.


“Why, you owe everything to me!” cried Aunt Rivette. “If I hadn’t brought you to Nole on the donkey’s back, you wouldn’t have been the forty-seventh person to enter the gate.”


“That’s true,” said Meg.


But Bud was angry.


“I know it’s true,” he said; “but look here, you mustn’t bother us. Just keep out of our way, please, and let me alone, and then I won’t care how many new dresses you buy.”


“I’m going to spend every piece of this gold!” she exclaimed, clasping the purse with her wrinkled hands. “But I don’t like to go through the streets in this poor dress. Won’t you lend me your cloak, Meg, until I get back?”


“Of course I will,” returned the girl; and going to the closet, she brought out the magic cloak the fairy had given her and threw it over Aunt Rivette’s shoulders. For she was sorry for the old woman, and this was the prettiest cloak she had.


So old Rivette, feeling very proud and anxious to spend her money, left the palace and walked as fast as her tottering legs would carry her down the street in the direction of the shops. “I’ll buy a yellow silk,” she mumbled to herself, half aloud, “and a white velvet, and a purple brocade, and a sky-blue bonnet with crimson plumes! And won’t the neighbors stare then? Oh, dear! If I could only walk faster! And the shops are so far! I wish I could fly!”


Now she was wearing the magic cloak when she expressed this wish, and no sooner had she spoken than two great feathery wings appeared, fastened to her shoulders.


The old woman stopped short, turned her head, and saw the wings; and then she gave a scream and a jump and began waving her arms frantically.


The wings flopped at the same time, raising her slowly from the ground, and she began to soar gracefully above the heads of the astonished people, who thronged the streets below.


“Stop! Help! Murder!” shrieked Rivette, kicking her feet in great agitation, and at the same time flopping nervously her new wings. “Save me, some one! Save me!”


“Why don’t you save yourself?” asked a man below. “Stop flying, if you want to reach the earth again!”


This struck old Rivette as a sensible suggestion. She was quite a distance in the air by this time; but she tried to hold her wings steady and not flop them, and the result was that she began to float slowly downward. Then, with horror, she saw she was sinking directly upon the branches of a prickly-pear tree; so she screamed and began flying again, and the swift movement of her wings sent her high into the air.


So great was her terror that she nearly fainted; but she shut her eyes so that she might not see how high up she was, and held her wings rigid and began gracefully to float downward again.


By and by she opened her eyes and found one of her sleeves was just missing the sharp point of a lightning-rod on a tower of the palace. So she began struggling and flopping anew, and, almost before she knew it, Aunt Rivette had descended to the roof of the royal stables. Here she sat down and began to weep and wail, while a great crowd gathered below and watched her.


“Get a ladder! Please get a ladder!” begged old Rivette. “If you don’t, I shall fall and break my neck.”


By this time Bud and Fluff had come out to see what caused the excitement; and, to their amazement they found their old aunt perched high up on the stable roof, with two great wings growing out from her back.


For a moment they could not understand what had happened. Then Margaret cried:


“Oh, Bud, I let her wear the magic cloak! She must have made a wish!”


“Help! Help! Get a ladder!” wailed the old woman, catching sight of her nephew and niece.


“Well, you are a bird, Aunt Rivette!” shouted Bud, gleefully, for he was in a teasing mood. “You don’t need a ladder! I don’t see why you can’t fly down the same way you flew up.” And all the people shouted: “Yes, yes! The king is right! Fly down!”


Just then Rivette’s feet began to slip on the sloping roof; so she made a wild struggle to save herself, and the result was that she fluttered her wings in just exactly the right way to sink down gradually to the ground.


“You’ll be all right as soon as you know how to use your wings,” said Bud, with a laugh. “But where did you get ’em, anyhow?”


“I don’t know,” said Aunt Rivette, much relieved to be on earth again, and rather pleased to have attracted so much attention. “Are the wings pretty?”


“They are perfectly lovely!” cried Fluff, clapping her hands in glee. “Why, Aunt Rivette, I do believe you must be the only person in all the world who can fly!”


“But I think you look like an overgrown buzzard,” said Bud.


Now it happened that all this praise, and the wondering looks of the people, did a great deal to reconcile Rivette to her new wings. Indeed, she began to feel a certain pride and distinction in them; and, finding she had through all the excitement retained her grasp on the purse of gold, she now wrapped the magic cloak around her and walked away to the shops, followed by a crowd of men, women, and children.

Chapter VIII

THE ROYAL RECEPTION


As for the king and Princess Fluff, they returned to the palace and dressed themselves in some of their prettiest garments, telling Jikki to have two ponies saddled and ready for them to ride upon.


“We really must have some toys,” said Meg, with decision; “and now that we are rich, there is no reason why we can’t buy what we want.”


“That’s true,” answered Bud. “The old king hadn’t anything to play with. Poor old man! I wonder what he did to amuse himself.”


They mounted their ponies, and, followed by the chief counselor and the lord high purse-bearer in one of the state carriages, and a guard of soldiers for escort, they rode down the streets of the city on a pleasure-jaunt, amid the shouts of the loyal populace.


By and by Bud saw a toy-shop in one of the streets, and he and Fluff slipped down from their ponies and went inside to examine the toys. It was a well-stocked shop, and there were rows upon rows of beautiful dolls on the shelves, which attracted Margaret’s attention at once.


“Oh, Bud,” she exclaimed, “I must have one of these dollies!”


“Take your choice,” said her brother, calmly, although his own heart was beating with delight at the sight of all the toys arranged before him.


“I don’t know which to choose,” sighed the little princess, looking from one doll to another with longing and indecision.


“We’ll take ’em all,” declared Bud.


“All! What—all these rows of dollies?” she gasped.


“Why not?” asked the king. Then he turned to the men who kept the shop and said:


“Call in that old fellow who carries the money.”


When the lord high purse-bearer appeared, Bud said to him:


“Pay the man for all these dolls; and for this—and this—and this—and this!” and he began picking out the prettiest toys in all the shop, in the most reckless way you can imagine.


The soldiers loaded the carriage down with Meg’s dolls, and a big cart was filled with Bud’s toys. Then the purse-bearer paid the bill, although he sighed deeply several times while counting out the money. But the new king paid no attention to old Tillydib; and when the treasures were all secured the children mounted their ponies and rode joyfully back to the palace, followed in a procession by the carriage filled with dolls, and the cart loaded with toys, while Tullydub and Tillydib, being unable to ride in the carriage, trotted along at the rear on foot.


Bud had the toys and dolls all carried upstairs into a big room, and then he ordered everybody to keep out while he and Fluff arranged their playthings around the room and upon the tables and chairs, besides littering the floor so that they could hardly find a clear place large enough for some of their romping games.


“After all,” he said to his sister, “it’s a good thing to be a king!”


“Or even a princess,” added Meg, busily dressing and arranging her dolls.


They made Jikki bring their dinner to them in the “play-room,” as Bud called it; but neither of the children could spare much time to eat, their treasures being all so new and delightful.


Soon after dusk, while Jikki was lighting the candles, the chief counselor came to the door to say that the king must be ready to attend the royal reception in five minutes.


“I won’t,” said Bud. “I just won’t.”


“But you must, your Majesty!” declared old Tullydub.


“Am I not the king?” demanded Bud, looking up from where he was arranging an army of wooden soldiers.


“Certainly, your Majesty,” was the reply.


“And isn’t the king’s will the law?” continued Bud.


“Certainly, your Majesty!”


“Well, if that is so, just understand that I won’t come. Go away and let me alone!”


“But the people expect your Majesty to attend the royal reception,” protested old Tullydub, greatly astonished. “It is the usual custom, you know; and they would be greatly disappointed if your Majesty did not appear.”


“I don’t care,” said Bud. “You get out of here and let me alone!”


“But, your Majesty—”


The king threw a toy cannon at his chief counselor, and the old man ducked to escape it, and then quickly closed the door.


“Bud,” said the princess, softly, “you were just saying it’s great fun to be a king.”


“So it is,” he answered promptly.


“But father used to tell us,” continued the girl, trying a red hat on a brown-haired doll, “that people in this world always have to pay for any good thing they get.”


“What do you mean?” said Bud, with surprise.


“I mean if you’re going to be the king, and wear fine clothes, and eat lovely dinners, and live in a palace, and have countless servants, and all the playthings you want, and your own way in everything and with everybody—then you ought to be willing to pay for all these pleasures.”


“How? But how can I pay for them?” demanded Bud, staring at her.


“By attending the royal receptions, and doing all the disagreeable things the king is expected to do,” she answered.


Bud thought about it for a minute. Then he got up, walked over to his sister, and kissed her.


“I b’lieve you’re right, Fluff,” he said, with a sigh. “I’ll go to that reception to-night, and take it as I would take a dose of medicine.”


“Of course you will!” returned Fluff, looking up at him brightly; “and I’ll go with you! The dolls can wait til to-morrow. Have Jikki brush your hair, and I’ll get my maids to dress me!”


Old Tullydub was wondering how he might best explain the king’s absence to the throng of courtiers gathered to attend the royal reception, when, to his surprise and relief, his Majesty entered the room, accompanied by the Princess Fluff. The king wore a velvet suit trimmed with gold lace, and at his side hung the beautiful jeweled sword. Meg was dressed in a soft white silken gown, and looked as sweet and fair as a lily.


The courtiers and their ladies, who were all wearing their most handsome and becoming apparel, received their little king with great respect, and several of the wealthiest and most noble among them came up to Bud to converse with him.


But the king did not know what to say to these great personages, and so the royal reception began to be a very stupid affair.


Fluff saw that all the people were standing in stiff rows and looking at one another uneasily, so she went to Bud and whispered to him.


“Is there a band of musicians in the palace?” the king inquired of Tellydeb, who stood near.


“Yes, your Majesty.”


“Send for them, then,” commanded Bud.


Presently the musicians appeared, and the king ordered them to play a waltz. But the chief counselor rushed up and exclaimed:


“Oh, your Majesty! This is against all rule and custom!”


“Silence!” said Bud, angrily. “I’ll make the rules and customs in this kingdom hereafter. We’re going to have a dance.”


“But it’s so dreadful—so unconventional, your Majesty! It’s so—what shall I call it?”


“Here! I’ve had enough of this,” declared Bud. “You go and stand in that corner, with your face to the wall, till I tell you to sit down,” he added, remembering a time when his father, the ferryman, had inflicted a like punishment upon him.


Somewhat to his surprise, Tullydub at once obeyed the command, and then Bud made his first speech to the people.


“We’re going to have a dance,” he said; “so pitch in and have a good time. If there’s anything you want, ask for it. You’re all welcome to stay as long as you please and go home when you get ready.”


This seemed to please the company, for every one applauded the king’s speech. Then the musicians began to play, and the people were soon dancing and enjoying themselves greatly.


Princess Fluff had a good many partners that evening, but Bud did not care to dance—he preferred to look on; and, after a time, he brought old Tullydub out of his corner, and made the chief counselor promise to be good and not annoy him again.


“But it is my duty to counsel the king,” protested the old man, solemnly.


“When I want your advice I’ll ask for it,” said Bud.


While Tullydub stood beside the throne, looking somewhat sulky and disagreeable, the door opened and Aunt Rivette entered the reception-room. She was clothed in a handsome gown of bright-green velvet, trimmed with red and yellow flowers, and the wings stuck out from the folds at her back in a way that was truly wonderful.


Aunt Rivette seemed in an amiable mood. She smiled and curtsied to all the people, who stopped dancing to stare at her, and she even fluttered her wings once or twice to show that she was proud of being unlike all the others present.


Bud had to laugh at her, she looked so funny; and then a mischievous thought came to him, and he commanded old Tullydub to dance with her.


“But I don’t dance, your Majesty!” exclaimed the horrified chief counselor.


“Try it; I’m sure you can dance,” returned Bud. “If you don’t know how, it’s time you learned.”


So the poor man was forced to place his arm about Aunt Rivette’s waist and to whirl her around in a waltz. The old woman knew as little about dancing as did Tullydub, and they were exceedingly awkward, bumping into every one they came near. Presently Aunt Rivette’s feet slipped, and she would have tumbled upon the floor with the chief counselor had she not begun to flutter her wings wildly.


So, instead of falling, she rose gradually into the air, carrying Tullydub with her; for they clung to each other in terror, and one screamed “Murder!” and the other “Help!” in their loudest voices.


Bud laughed until the tears stood in his eyes; but Aunt Rivette, after bumping both her own head and that of the chief counselor against the ceiling several times, finally managed to control the action of her wings and to descend to the floor again.


As soon as he was released, old Tullydub fled from the room; and Aunt Rivette, vowing she would dance no more, seated herself beside Bud and watched the revel until nearly midnight, when the couriers and their ladies dispersed to their own homes declaring that they had never enjoyed a more delightful evening.

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