The Dolphin (French Folk Tale)

Folk Tales, French Folk Tales2931

There was once upon a time a king and a queen to whom heaven had given several children; but they loved them only so far as they were good and beautiful. Among the others was a young son called Alidor, whose figure, indeed, was passable, but who, nevertheless, was unbearably ugly. The king and the queen regarded him with much repugnance, and were always telling him to go out of their sight. And as he began to find that all the caresses were for others, and there was nothing but severity for him, he saw that the only thing left for him to do was to go away secretly. He carefully arranged his plans for leaving the kingdom without any one knowing where he was bound for, in hopes that fortune would treat him better in another country than in his own.

When the king and the queen found he had gone they did not know what to do. They considered that he would not appear in that splendour which befits a prince, and that unpleasant things might happen to him, which concerned them more on account of their own reputation than for his sake. They sent couriers after him with orders to bring him back at once, but he was so careful to choose the most out-of-the-way roads that they followed him in vain; and those who had been ordered to seek for him had not returned to the court before he was forgotten there. Every one knew too well how little the king and the queen cared for him to love him as they would have done a happy prince. Alidor was no longer spoken of. Besides, who was there to speak of him? Luck was against him; his kinsfolk hated him; and little thought was given to any merit he might have.

Alidor was just setting out to seek his fortune without knowing very well whither he wished to go, when he met a young man, handsome and well mounted, and who looked as if he were on a journey. They greeted each other and exchanged some courteous words, for a while speaking only of general matters. After some time the traveller learned from Alidor where he was going. “But you yourself,” he said, “will you tell me your destination?” “My lord,” he answered, “I am a squire in the service of the King of the Woods. I am sent to fetch some horses from a place not far from here.” “Is he a savage king?” said the prince. “You call him King of the Woods, and I picture him to myself as living there.” “His forefathers;” said the squire, “probably lived as you say, but, as for him, he has a great court. The queen, his wife, is one of the loveliest ladies in the world, and their only daughter, Princess Livorette, is endowed with a thousand charms, which delight all who look on her. True, she is still so young that she is not aware of all the attentions paid her, but, nevertheless, no one can help paying homage to her.”

“You make me very curious to see her,” said the prince, “and to spend some time in so delightful a court. But do they look on strangers with favour? I do not flatter myself. I know that nature has not blest me with a handsome face, but in compensation she has given one a good heart.” “A very rare possession,” said the traveller, “and I rate it much higher than the other. Everything is given its true value in our court, so you may go there perfectly certain of being favourably received.”

Thereupon he gave him directions as to the road he should take to reach the Kingdom of the Woods, and as he was of an obliging disposition, and marked in his companion an air of nobility which not all his ugliness could mar, he gave him the address of some of his friends who would present him to the king and queen. The prince was much pleased with the courtesy shown him. It promised well for a country if such politeness were native to it, and, as he was only seeking for a spot where he might dwell unknown, he preferred to choose the one now suggested to him to any other. He even felt a particular leading of fortune urging him to choose it. After having taken leave of the traveller he went on his way, thinking at times of the Princess Livorette, in regard to whom he already felt the liveliest curiosity.

When he arrived at the court of the King of the Woods, the friends of his companion by the way received him hospitably, and the king gave him a hearty welcome. He was delighted at having left his own country, for though he was unknown, he could not but be gratified at all the marks of regard shown towards him. It is true things were far otherwise in the queen”s apartment, where he had hardly entered before there burst out from all sides long peals of laughter. One lady hid her face so as not to look at him; another ran away. But most clearly of all did the young Livorette, to whom such an example of ill-manners was being given, let the prince see what she thought of his ugliness.

It seemed to him that a princess who laughed in this fashion at a stranger”s defects was not very well-bred. Secretly he pitied her. “Alas!” he said, “this is how I was spoiled in my father”s house. Princes, it must be confessed, are unfortunate, seeing how their faults are tolerated, Yes, now I understand the poison we drink deep draughts of every day. Should not this fair princess think shame to laugh at me? I come from a distance to pay my respects to her, and to attach myself to her court. It is open to me to journey farther and declare her good qualities or her bad ones. I was not born her subject, and nothing need bind my tongue save her civility. Yet hardly has she cast her eyes on me before she insults me with her mocking airs. But alas!” he went on looking at her with admiration, “how safe she is from evil words of mine! Never was anything so beautiful revealed to my sight. I admire her, I admire her only too much, and I know only too well that I shall do so all my life.”

While he was making these sad reflections, the queen, who was of a kindly disposition, ordered him to come to her, and wishing to appease him she spoke pleasantly to him, asking about his country, his name, and his adventures, and to all her inquiries he replied like a man of intelligence, reads” with his answers. His character pleased her, and she told him that whenever he wished to pay his respects to her she would see him with pleasure. She even asked whether he played at any game, and told him to come and play basset with her. As his desire was to please, he made a point of being present when the queen played. He had plenty of money and jewels. In all his actions there was an air of nobility, which counted for not a little in the distinction he gained for himself. And though no one knew who he was, for he took great pains to conceal his birth, they judged of him none the less favourably. The princess was the only one who could not endure him. She burst out laughing in his face; she made faces at him, and was guilty of every trick which her age suggested to her, and which would not have mattered from any one else. But from her it was very different. He took it very seriously, and when he knew her a little better he uttered his complaints. “Don”t you think, madam,” he said, “that it is somewhat unjust to laugh at me? The same gods that made you the most beautiful princess in the world made me the ugliest of men, and I am their work as well as you.” “I know it, Alidor,” she said, “but you are the worst bit of work that ever came out of their hands.” Thereupon she looked at him fixedly, without taking her eyes off him for a long time, and then she laughed enough to make herself ill.

The prince, who all this time was looking at her, drank long draughts of the poison love was preparing. “I must die,” be said to himself, “since I cannot hope to please, and I cannot live without enjoying the favour of” Livorette.” At last he grew so melancholy that everybody was sorry for him. The queen saw it, for he did not play as he used to. She asked him what was the matter, but could draw nothing more out of him than that he felt a strange langour, which he thought the change of climate had something to do with, and that he meant to go into the country often to take the air. The fact was, he could no longer bear to see the princess every day without hope. He believed he might be cured if he avoided her, but wherever he went his passion followed him. He sought out solitary places, and there he gave himself up to a profound reverie. The sea being near he used often to go fishing, but in vain did he cast his hook and his nets, for he caught nothing. On his return Livorette was nearly always at the window, and when she saw him coming she used to call out with a sly little air: “Well, Alidor, and have you brought me some nice fish for my supper?” “No, madam,” he answered, bowing low, and then passing sadly on. The beautiful princess laughed at him. “Oh, how stupid he is!” she said; “he can”t even catch a single sole.”

He was miserable at his want of luck and at being constantly laughed at by the princess, and he wanted very much to catch something worth offering to her. He used often to go out in a little sloop, taking with him various kinds of nets, and because of Livorette he took endless pains to do his best. “Am I not indeed unfortunate,” he said, “to find in this amusement a new disappointment? I was only seeking to forget the princess; and now she takes a fancy to eat the fish I catch, and fortune is so unkind as to refuse to let me gratify this desire.”

Full of sadness he sailed out into the sea further than he had ever done before, and, throwing out his nets in a determined fashion, he was suddenly aware they were so laden that he made haste to draw them back for fear of breaking them. When he had hauled the net on board he looked eagerly to see what was struggling inside it, and he found a fine dolphin, which he took up in his arms, delighted at his success. The dolphin tried hard to get away, struggled violently, and then feigned to be dead, so that Alidor might be put off his guard; but it was no use. “My poor dolphin,” said he, “do not torment yourself further. For a certainty I shall take you home to the princess, and you will have the honour of being served up this evening on her table.”

“You will be playing me a very bad turn,” said the dolphin. “What!” cried the prince, in astonishment, “you can speak! Just gods, what marvel is this!” “If you will be so good and generous as to let me free,” the dolphin went on, “I shall render you such real services in the course of my life that you will never need to repent of your kindness.” “And what will the princess have for her supper?” said Alidor. “Don”t you know the mocking tone she puts on with me? She calls me awkward, stupid, and a hundred other things, and for the sake of my reputation I am forced to sacrifice you.” “And so, because the princess sets up as a judge of the gentle art,” said the dolphin, “when you are not successful in your haul you think you have no honour and nobility left! Let me live, I pray you. Put back your most humble servant, the dolphin, in the water. There are good deeds whose reward follow hard on their steps.”

“Well, be off with you,” said the prince, thro the creature into the sea. “I expect neither good nor ill from you, but you seem to have a strong desire to live. Livorette may acid, if she will, still further insults to those she has already heaped on me. What does it matter? You are a remarkable animal, and I shall do as you wish.”

The dolphin disappeared from his sight, and at that moment the prince felt that all hope of success had vanished too. Sitting down in the boat, and drawing in the oars, which he placed under his feet, he folded his arms and gave himself up to a deep reverie, out of which he was awakened by a pleasant voice, which seemed to crisp the waves as it rose from the sea. “Alidor, Prince Alidor,” said the voice, “here is a friend.” Looking clown he saw the dolphin turning somersaults on the surface of the water. “Every one must have their turn, that is hut just,” said the dolphin. “Only a quarter of an hour ago you did me a great kindness. Now ask me to do you a service, and you will see what will happen.” “I ask but a small reward for a great service,” said the prince. “Send me the best fish in the sea.” No sooner said than done. Without casting a net there came bounding into the boat such a quantity of salmon, soles, turbots, oysters, and other shell fish, that Alidor had reason to fear on account of the overloading of the boat. “Stop, stop, my dear dolphin,” he cried; “I am overwhelmed by all you are doing for me, but I fear lest your generosity may prove dangerous. Save me, for you see that the situation is serious.”

The dolphin pushed the boat to shore, where the prince arrived with all his fish. Four mules could not have carried the amount, so he sat down, and was choosing out the best when he heard the dolphin”s voice: “Alidor,” it said, thrusting up its big head, “are you at all satisfied with what I have done for you?” “I could not be more so,” he answered. “Oh, but you must know that I am also most grateful for your treatment of rue, and for your having saved my life. I have, therefore, come to tell you that every time you wish to command my services I shall be ready to obey you. I have more than one kind of power, and if you believe me you may have a proof of it.” “Alas!” said the prince, “what should I wish for? I love a princess, and she hates me.” “Do you want to love her no longer?” said the dolphin. “No,” replied Alidor, “I could not make up my mind to that. Make it possible for me to please her, or let rue die.” “Will you promise me,” continued the dolphin, “never to have any other wife but only Livorette?” “Yes, I promise you,” cried the prince. “I have sworn to be faithful to the love I bear to her, and nothing within my power shall ever be wanting on my part to give her pleasure.” “We must practise a deception on her,” said the dolphin, “for she does not wish to marry you, thinking you ugly, and not really knowing you.” “I give my consent to such a deception,” replied the prince, “though I have made up my mind that she can never give herself to any one like me.” “Time might bring her to reason,” said the dolphin, “but let me change you into a canary bird; you may put off the guise whenever you like.” “You are master, dear dolphin,” answered Alidor. “Well, then,” continued the fish, “I desire that you be a canary!” And in that moment the prince saw himself with feathers, and birds” claws, and a tiny beak; and he could whistle and sing admirably. Then, wishing himself Alidor again, he found he was the same as before.

Never was any one more joyful. Burning with impatience to be with the young princess, he called to his attendants, loaded them with the fish, and took the road to the town. Of course Livorette was on her balcony, calling out to him “Well, Alidor, have you had better luck this time?” “Yes, madam,” he said, showing her the great baskets filled with the finest fish in the world. “Oh!” she cried, pouting like a child, “I am quite sorry you have caught so many fish, for I shall never be able to laugh at you again.” “You will never want for a pretext, when you wish for one, madam,” he answered, and he went on his way, giving orders for all the fish to be sent to her. Then after a moment he took the form of a little canary, and flew on her window sill. As soon as she noticed the bird she came softly forward, holding out her hand to take hold of it, but it flew away from her into the air.

“I came from one of the ends of the earth,” it said, “where the fame of your beauty has reached. But, dear princess, it would not be fair that I should come on purpose such a distance and be treated like an ordinary canary. You must promise never to put me in a cage, to let me come and go, and to have no other prison than your sweet eyes.” “Ah, dear little bird “cried Livorette, “ask me whatever you like; I promise never to break one of the conditions you put on me, for there was never seen anything so pretty as you. You speak better than a parrot, and you whistle exquisitely. I love you so much– much that I am dying to have you for my own.” The canary flew down, and lighted on Livorette”s head, then on her finger, not only whistling airs, but singing words with the accuracy and in the style of the most skilful musician.

“Fickle my nature is and light,

Yet is my chief desire to bide by thee;

No gates or bars prepare to stay my flight,

If love my gaoler be.

It is a service sweet, thy yoke to bear,

Since it is thine;

Happier my lot thy livery to wear,

Than were an empire mine!”

“I am enchanted,” she said to all the ladies, “by the gift that fortune has just sent me.” She ran to her mother”s room to show her beautiful canary. The queen would have given anything to hear it speak, but not a word would it say except for the princess, and it seemed to have no thought of pleasing any one else.

When night was come Livorette went to her room with the pretty bird, whom she called Bébé. When she began her toilette the canary perched on her mirror, taking the liberty to peck at her ear or her hands every now and again. This delighted her, and Alidor, who up till now had never known any pleasure in his life, felt supremely happy, and had no other desire to be ever anything else than Bébé the canary. True, he was sad to think that they left him in a room “here Livorette”s dogs, monkeys, and parrots generally slept. “And so,” he said, sorrowfully, “you think so little of me that you cast me off like this!” “It is not casting you off, dear Bébé,” she answered, “to put you with what I like best.” Then she went out, but the prince remained perched on the mirror. As soon as it was day he flew away to the seashore. “Dolphin, dear dolphin,” he cried, “let me have a word or two with you. Do not refuse to listen to me.” The friendly fish appeared, gravely riding on the water. When Bébé saw him he flew towards him and perched on his head.

“I know all you have done, and all you wish me to do,” said the dolphin, “but I declare that you shall not enter Livorette”s room till she is betrothed to you, and till the king and the queen have given their consent. After that I shall look upon you as her husband.” The prince had so much regard for the fish that he did not insist, but thanked the dolphin a thousand times for the charming disguise he had procured for him, and begged that he would still remain his friend.

Coming back to the palace in his feathered shape, he found the princess in her dressing-gown. She had been searching for him everywhere, and, not having found him, she was now weeping bitterly. “Ah, you little traitor!” she said, “already you have left me! Did I not treat you well enough? Have I not petted you–given you biscuits and sugar and sweets?” “Yes, yes, my princess,” said the canary, who was listening through a little hole, “you have shown me some kindness, but you have neglected me too. Do you think I am satisfied to sleep near your ugly cat? He would have eaten me fifty times if I had not taken the precaution to keep awake all night to save myself from his claws.” Livorette, moved by his words, looked at him tenderly. Holding out her finger, she said “Come, come and be friends”. “Oh! I don”t make up so easily,” he answered. “I wish the king and the queen to know of this.” “Very well,” said she, “I shall take you to their room.”

She went at once to find them. They were still in bed, talking of an advantageous marriage which had been proposed for their daughter. “Well, dear child,” said the queen, “what do you want this morning?” “I bring my little bird,” she answered. “It wants to speak to you.” “That is most important,” said the queen, laughing. But are we in a condition to give a serious audience?” “Yes, your majesty,” replied the canary. “Neither do I appear in your court with all the pomp that befits me, for, the fame of the beauty and the charms of the young princess having reached me, I set off speedily to beg you to give me her hand in marriage. Such as you see me, I am king of a little grove, where oranges and myrtles and honeysuckles grow, the most charming spot in all the Canary Isles. I have a great number of subjects of my own kind, who are forced to pay me a large tribute of flies and worms. The princess might eat her fill, and she would never want for music, for I have even amongst my kinsmen some nightingales that would sing their best for her. We should live here in your court as long as you liked. I only need, your majesty, a little millet, some rape-seed, and fresh water. When you give the word for us to retire to our own states, distance will be no bar to our receiving news of you, and sending you ours in return. We shall have flying couriers to serve us, and I think I may say without vanity that you will get a great deal of satisfaction from a son-in-law like me.” He ended up by whistling two or three airs, and chirping pleasantly. The king and the queen laughed till they could laugh no longer. “We have no wish,” said they, “to refuse Livorette to you. Yes, pretty canary bird, we give her to you, provided she consents.” “With all my heart,” she said. “I have never been so happy in my life as I am now to marry Prince Bébé. Thereupon he plucked one of the finest feathers from his tail and offered it to her as a wedding present. Livorette accepted it graciously, and stuck it in her hair, which was wonderfully beautiful.

When she went back to her own apartment she told her ladies-in-waiting that she had a great piece of news for them–that the king and the queen had just betrothed her to a reigning prince. On hearing this, one flew towards her and embraced her knees, another kissed her hands. They asked her with the utmost eagerness who the prince was to whom the most beautiful princess in all the world was to be given. “Here he is,” said she, drawing out the little canary from the inside of her sleeve, and showing them her betrothed. At the sight of him they laughed heartily, and many a jest was made about the perfect innocence of their fair mistress.

Livorette made haste to dress and return to her mother”s room, for the queen loved her so dearly that she always liked to have her near her. But the canary flew away, and assumed his ordinary shape as Alidor, that he might pay his court to the queen. “Come,” cried the queen when she saw him, “come and congratulate my daughter on her marriage with Bébé. Do you not think that we have found a fine lord for her?” Alidor entered into the spirit of the jest, and as he was gayer than he had ever been in his life he said a hundred pretty things. and the queen was much entertained. But Livorette continued to laugh at him, and contradicted every word he said to her. It would have made him very melancholy to see her in this mood if he had not remembered that his friend, the fish, was going to help him to overcome this aversion.

When the princess went to bed, she would have left her canary in the room with the animals, but he began to grumble, and, flying round her, followed her into her own, and perched himself neatly on a piece of porcelain, from which they dared not chase him for fear of breaking it. “If you begin to sing too early in the morning, Bébé,” said Livorette, “and waken me, I shall not forgive you.” He promised her to be quiet till she should order him to sing his little song, and with that assurance they retired for the night. Hardly was the princess in bed before she fell into so deep a sleep that there can be no doubt the dolphin had a hand in it. She snored even like a little pig, which is not natural in a child. But Bébé did not snore. To do so he would first have had to shut his eyes. Leaving the porcelain vase, he came and placed himself near his charming bride, so quietly that she did not wake. As soon as day had come he again took his canary shape, and flew away to the edge of the sea, where, as Alidor, he sat down on a little rock, the surface of which was smooth and covered with samphire. Then he looked all round to see if his dear friend, the dolphin, were near. He called him several times, and while he waited he was reflecting with pleasure on his happiness. “Oh, fairies,” he said, “whose praises we sing, and whose power is indeed so extraordinary, could your art make any other mortal as happy as I am?” This thought suggested to him the following words:

“Good friend, to whose staunch aid I owe

That the full bliss of love I know,

My perfect happiness in other”s ear

I may not say.

For at my heart there gnaws the horrid fear

The jealous gods should wrest my love away.”

When he was murmuring these words he felt the rock shaking violently. Then through an opening there came out a little old dwarf woman, leaning her tottering frame on a crutch. It was Grognette the fairy, who was no better than Grognon. “Really, my lord Alidor,” she said, “I think you are taking a great liberty in seating yourself on my rock. I do not know what should hinder me from throwing you to the bottom of the sea just to teach you that, if the fairies cannot make a happier mortal than you, they can at least make an unhappy one whenever they like.” “Madam,” replied the prince, astonished at this adventure, “I did not know you lived here. I should certainly have been very careful not to fail in the respect due to your palace.” “Excuses will avail you nothing,” she continued. “You are ugly and presumptuous, and I want the pleasure of seeing you suffer.” “Alas!” said he, “what have I done to you?” “I don”t know,” she answered, “but I shall treat you as if I did.” “The dislike you bear to me is very extraordinary,” said he, “and if I did not hope that the gods would protect me against you, I would anticipate the ills with which you threaten me by taking my own life.” Grognette went on muttering threats, and then retired into her rock again, which closed up.

The prince, in deep distress, did not wish to sit down, having no desire for a fresh quarrel with an ill-omened dwarf. “I was too satisfied with my lot,” said he, “and now comes a little fury to trouble it. What harm will she do me? Ah, doubtless, it will not be on me that she will vent her anger. It will rather be on the fair lady whom I love. O dolphin, dolphin, I beg you to come and console me!” At that moment the fish appeared near the shore. “Well, what do you wish?” it said. “I was coming to thank you for all the kindnesses you have done me. I am now married to Livorette, and, in the ardour of my joy, I was hastening so that you might share it with me when a fairy…” “I know,” said the dolphin, interrupting him. “It was Grognette, the most malicious and strangest creature on earth. For any one to be happy is quite enough to displease her. But what annoys me most of all is that she has power, and that she means to oppose my plans for your good.” “What a strange creature!” replied Alidor; “how have I offended her?” “What, you a man, and wonder at human injustice! In truth, you men never think of justice. It would be all you could do were you fish, and even we in our kingdom of the seas are not too just. Every day we see the big ones swallowing up the little. It should not he endured, for the smallest herring has its right as a citizen of the water as much as a terrible whale.”

“If I interrupt you,” said the prince, “it is only to ask if I may never let Livorette know that I am her husband.” “Enjoy the time that is,” answered the dolphin, “without taking thought for the future.” And, having said these words, he disappeared below the water. The prince became a canary again, and flew to his dear princess, who was searching everywhere for him. “Will you always make me anxious in this way, you little runaway?” she said as soon as she saw him. “I fear lest you should be lost, and then I should die of sorrow.” “No, my Livorette,” he replied, “I shall never get lost, for your sake.” “Can you answer for it?” she continued. “Might they not lay snares and spread nets for you? Or, if you fell into the trap laid for you by some fair lady, how do I know you would return?” “Oh, what an unjust suspicion!” said he; “you do not know me.” “Forgive me, Bébé,” said she, smiling. “I have heard it said that little importance is attached to being loyal to a wife, and since I am yours I fear lest you should change.”

Conversations like these delighted the canary, for they showed him that he was loved. And yet he was so only as a little bird. At times a keen pang would shoot through his heart. “Is it justifiable, the trick I have played on her?” he said to the dolphin. “I know that the princess does not love me, that she thinks me ugly, and that none of my faults have escaped her. I have every reason to think that she would not wish me for a husband, and, nevertheless, I have become so. If she comes to know it one day, what reproaches will she not heap on me? What shall I say to her? I should die of sorrow if I were to displease her.” But the fish said to him: “Your reflections do not pull together with your love. If every lover were to make such, there would never any more be ladies carried off or disappointed. Enjoy the present time, for less happy days are in store for you.”

Alidor was very much troubled by this warning. He knew quite well that Grognette the fairy still had a grudge against him for having sat down on her rock when she was underneath. He prayed the dolphin still to help him as before.

There was a great deal of talk about the marriage of the princess with a handsome young prince whose states were not far away. Ambassadors came from him to ask for her hand, and received a cordial welcome from the king. This news was most alarming to Alidor, who, without delay, betook himself to the seashore, and, calling his good friend the fish, he told him what he feared. “Think,” said he, “how desperate is my situation! Either I must lose my wife and see her married to another, or declare my marriage and be separated from her for the remainder of my life.” “I have no power to prevent Grognette doing you an injury,” said the dolphin. “I am no less grieved than you are, and you yourself cannot be more occupied with your affairs than I am. Yet pluck up courage. I can tell you nothing more at present, but you may count on my goodwill as on something which will never fail you.” The prince thanked him with all his heart, and went back to the princess.

He found her in the midst of her women, one holding her head, and another her arm, while she was complaining of illness. As at that moment he was not in his canary guise he dared not go near her, though her illness made him very anxious. As soon as she saw him she smiled in spite of all she was suffering. “Alidor,” she said, I think I am going to die. It is a great grief to me now that the ambassadors have come, for I hear all kinds of good reports bf the prince who asks me to marry him.” “But, madam,” he replied, with a forced smile, “have you forgotten that you have chosen a husband?” “What, my canary?” said she. “Ha, ha! I know he will not be angry, though I love him tenderly all the same.” “To share your heart with another would perhaps not content him,” said Alidor. “Well, no matter,” added Livorette. “I shall be very pleased to be queen over a great kingdom.” “But, madam,” he went on, “he offered you one.” “Oh, what a fine kingdom I “she answered, “a little jasmine wood! That might do for a bee or a linnet–but not for me.”

Her waiting-women, thinking that she was talking too much for her health, begged Alidor to withdraw. Then they made her lie down, and Bébé came and chided her gently for her want of faithfulness. As she was not very ill, she went to see the queen. But from that day there scarcely passed one in which she did not suffer. Her languor changed her appearance; and she grew thin and discontented. Months passed away in this fashion. They did not know what to do; and what more especially troubled the court was that the ambassadors who had come with the demand for her hand were urging her parents to give her into their charge. The queen heard of a very skilful physician who might be able to cure her. She sent an equipage for him, and forbade them to tell him the rank of the sick princess, so that he might speak out more freely. When he arrived the queen hid herself in order to listen. But he, seeing her, looked at her for a little and said with a smile: “Is it possible that your court doctors did not know what ailed this little lady? The fact is, before long she will bestow a fine boy on her family.” They di

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