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seemed to be a warm rope; followed up the rope and found an innocent calf; for
the rope was not a rope at all, but the calf’s tail.

The king was cordially ashamed of himself for having gotten all that fright and
misery out of so paltry a matter as a slumbering calf; but he need not have felt so
about it, for it was not the calf that frightened him but a dreadful non-existent
something which the calf stood for; and any other boy, in those old superstitous
times, would have acted and suffered just as he had done.

The king was not only delighted to find that the creature was only a calf, but
delighted to have the calf’s company; for he had been feeling so lonesome and
friendless that the company and comradeship of even this humble animal was
welcome. And he had been so buffeted, so rudely entreated by his own kind,
that it was a real comfort to him to feel that he was at last in the society of a
fellow-creature that had at least a soft heart and a gentle spirit, whatever loftier
attributes might be lacking. So he resolved to waive rank and make friends with
the calf.

While stroking its sleek, warm back-for it lay near him and within easy reachit
occurred to him that this calf might be utilized in more ways than one.
Whereupon he rearranged his bed, spreading it down close to the calf; then he
cuddled himself up to the calf’s back, drew the covers up over himself and his
friend, and in a minute or two was as warm and comfortable as he had ever
been in the downy couches of the regal palace of Westminster.

Pleasant thoughts came at once; life took on a cheerfuler seeming. He was free of
the bonds of servitude and crime, free of the companionship of base and brutal
outlaws; he was warm, he was sheltered; in a word, he was happy. The night
wind was rising; it swept by in fitful gusts that made the old barn quake and
rattle, then its forces died down at intervals, and went moaning and wailing
around corners and projections-but it was all music to the king, now that he was
snug and comfortable; let it blow and rage, let it batter and bang, let it moan and
wail, he minded it not, he only enjoyed it. He merely snuggled the closer to his
friend, in a luxury of warm contentment, and drifted blissfully out of conscious-
ness into a deep and dreamless sleep that was full of serenity and peace. The
distant dogs howled, the melancholy kine complained; and the winds went on
raging, whilst furious sheets of rain drove along the roof; but the majesty of
England slept on undisturbed, and the calf did the same, it being a simple
creature and not easily troubled by storms or embarrassed by sleeping with a
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