« PreviousContinue »
the impudence to mock me, and to propose to marry me to such a baboon as that? They shall be put to death. As for this silly woman and her nurse, and all who brought them, away with them to the round tower."
In the meanwhile the king and his brother, who knew that it was about the time that their sister should arrive, put on their gayest clothes to receive her. Instead, however, of finding themselves set at liberty, as they expected, the jailor came with a party of soldiers, and made them descend into a dungeon, full of noxious reptiles, and where they were up to their knees in water.
At the end of three days the King of the Peacocks came to an opening that was in the wall, to reproach them. “You have called yourselves king and prince,” said he, “to entrap me into a marriage with your sister; but the
rope is twisting with which I will have you hanged.”
“King of the Peacocks,” said our king, filled with indignation, “ do nothing rashly in this affair, or you may repent it. I am like you, a king, and will be revenged for this."
When the king heard him speak so resolutely, he began to think whether he should not spare their lives and let them go with their sister ; but his trusty friend, who was a thorough courtier, suggested that if he did not avenge the insult, all the world would laugh at him; so he vowed that he would not forgive them, and ordered them to be tried. Their trial did not last long, as to condemn them it was merely necessary to compare the portrait of Rosetta with the pretended princess. They were, therefore, sentenced to be beheaded for baving pro
mised the king in marriage a beautiful princess, and then giving him an ugly country girl.
This decree was read to them in due form, when they still protested that their sister was a princess more beautiful than the day, and demanded a respite of seven days, stating that in that time something might occur to establish their innocence. The King of the Peacocks, who was very angry, would hardly grant them this favour, but at last consented.
While all this was passing at the court, poor Princess Rosetta, who, when it was daylight, had been very much surprised, as was Fretillon also, to find herself out at sea without a boat or any assistance, cried so pitifully that all the fish felt sorry for her. “ Certainly,” said she, “the King of the Peacocks must have condemned me to be thrown into the sea; he has $ repented of his bargain, and to get rid of me decently, ordered me to be drowned.
She remained two days floating in this manner, drenched to the skin and nearly frozen with cold ; indeed, had it not been for little Fretillon, who, nestling in her bosom, kept up a little warmth near her heart, she would have died a hundred times. She was dreadfully hungry, too; when, seeing some oysters in their shells, she took as many as she liked and eat them. Fretillon was not fond of oysters, however he was obliged to eat some in order to keep himself alive. When night came on, Rosetta was very much alarmed, and said to her dog," Dear Fretillon ! pray keep barking for fear the fishes should eat us up.” So he barked all night long; and when
morning broke the princess's bed was $ not very far from the shore. Now $ there happened to dwell thereabouts a good old man, who lived by himself in a little cottage. He was very poor, and did not care for the things of this world. When he heard Fretillon bark, there being no dogs in those parts, he thought that some travellers had lost their way, and went out kindly to direct them. Suddenly he perceived the princess floating on the sea, who, stretching her arms towards him, cried, “Good old man, save me, I pray you, or I shall perish.” When he heard her speak so sadly, he pitied her misfortune, and fetching a long boathook succeeded in dragging the bed to land. Rosetta and Fretillon were very glad to be once more on dry ground. The princess was very thankful to the good man, and wrapping herself in a blanket, barefooted as she was, she entered