A gentle, uninflated story about a little dwarf called Ricky who lived ""long ago, at the court of the Spanish king""--loving the princess who had grown up and forgotten her childhood friendship with him. The ""often cruel"" king uses Ricky as a clown, a chessboard, or whatever amuses him; then, just when the dwarf's first public flute performance makes the princess weep and the king understand that he is ""not a toy,"" the visiting French king wins Ricky in a chess game. Minor key, but Shtainmets doesn't push the pathos, and the fade-out ending, with Ricky going off sadly to be a court musician in France, maintains the tone and the integrity all the way. Shtainmets gives his double-page black and white drawings a corresponding wispy look by breaking up the lines and leaving lots of space between patches of them, so that trying to bring the scenes into focus is a bit like peering through a mist. This trick doesn't really lead anywhere except over the hills and far away, but that, after all, is where Ricky exists.