The Third Story

The Captain of the Guard


In the royal castle of King Ferdinand the Thirteenth of Vŕldovar, the Captain of the Guard was a man called Rufus. You may remember that it was Captain Rufus who had once tucked Princess Ianthe under his arm and carried her, kicking and squealing, up to her bedroom, after she had been very, very impertinent to her father, King Ferdinand.
       Well, I am now going to tell you a story about Captain Rufus, and how he was called upon to catch a thief. First, however, let me tell you a little about Captain Rufus himself.
       He was a very fine figure of a man. He was tall, with broad shoulders, and he walked with his head held high and his back straight – as, of course, every good soldier should.
       He wore a splendid blue uniform with lots of gold braid all over it, and a three-cornered hat which had a large, fluffy feather on one side. His boots were black and always very shiny.
       What everyone noticed most about Captain Rufus, however, was his fine moustache, which stuck out sideways and curled up at the ends. Captain Rufus was very proud of his moustache. ‘A Captain without a moustache,’ he would say, ‘is like an egg-and-spoon race without a spoon – not natural!’