THE prince said nothing, the ambassador said nothing, Lady Rosalind said never a word till they were in the drawing-room. It was a lovely warm evening, and the French windows were wide open on the balcony, which looked over the town and away north to the hills. Below them flowed the clear, green water of the Gluckthal. And still nobody said a word.

At last the prince spoke:

“This is a very strange story, Lord Kelso!”

“Very, sir!” said the ambassador.

“But true,” added the prince; “at least, there is no reason in the nature of things why it shouldn’t be true.”

“I can hardly believe, sir, that the conduct of Benson, whom I always found a most respectable man, deserved—”

“That he should be ‘come for,’” said the prince. “Oh, no; it was a mere accident, and might have happened to any of us who chanced to sit down on my carpet.”

And then the prince told them, shortly, all about it: how the carpet was one of a number of fairy properties, which had been given him at his christening; and how so long a time had gone by before he discovered them; and how, probably, the carpet had carried the butler where he had said he wanted to go, namely—to the king’s Court at Falkenstein.

“It would not matter so much,” added the prince, “only I had relied on making my peace with his majesty, my father, by aid of those horns and that tail. He was set on getting them; and if the Lady Rosalind had not expressed a wish for them, they would to-day have been in his possession.”

“Oh, sir, you honour us too highly,” murmured Lady Rosalind; and the prince blushed and said:

“Not at all! Impossible!”

Then, of course, the ambassador became quite certain that his daughter was admired by the crown prince, who was on bad terms with the king of the country; and a more uncomfortable position for an ambassador—however, they are used to them.

“What on earth am I to do with the young man?” he thought. “He can’t stay here for ever; and without his carpet he can’t get away, for the soldiers have orders to seize him as soon as he appears in the street. And in the meantime Benson will be pretending that he killed the Firedrake—for he must have got to Falkenstein by now,—and they will be for marrying him to the king’s niece, and making my butler crown prince to the kingdom of Pantouflia! It is dreadful!”

Now all this time the prince was on the balcony, telling Lady Rosalind all about how he got the Firedrake done for, in the most modest way; for, as he said: “I didn’t kill him: and it is really the Remora, poor fellow, who should marry Molly; but he ‘s dead.”

At this very moment there was a whizz in the air: something shot past them, and, through the open window, the king, the queen, Benson, and the mortal remains of the Firedrake were shot into the ambassador’s drawing-room!

something shot past them