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Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know

The princess apparently asleep


In

a few minutes the prince appeared. The princess recognised him at once, but did not think it worth while to acknowledge him.

"Here I am," said the prince. "Put me in."

"They told me it was a shoeblack," said the princess.

"So I am," said the prince. "I blacked your little boots three times a day, because they were all I could get of you. Put me in."

The courtiers did not resent his bluntness, except by saying to each other that he was taking it out in impudence.

But how was he to be put in? The golden plate contained no instructions on this point. The prince looked at the hole, and saw but one way. He put both his legs into it, sitting on the stone, and, stooping forward, covered the corner that remained open with his two hands. In this uncomfortable position he resolved to abide his fate, and turning to the people, said:

"Now you can go."

The king had already gone home to dinner.

"Now you can go," repeated the princess after him, like a parrot.

The people obeyed her and went.

Presently a little wave flowed over the stone, and wetted one of the prince's knees. But he did not mind it much. He began to sing, and the song he sang was this:

style="text-align: justify;"> "As a world that has no well, Darkly bright in forest dell; As a world without the gleam Of the downward-going stream; As a world without the glance Of the ocean's fair expanse; As a world where never rain Glittered on the sunny plain;-- Such, my heart, thy world would be, If no love did flow in thee.

"As a world without the sound Of the rivulets underground; Or the bubbling of the spring Out of darkness wandering; Or the mighty rush and flowing Of the river's downward going; Or the music-showers that drop On the outspread beech's top; Or the ocean's mighty voice, When his lifted waves rejoice;--Such, my soul, thy world would be, If no love did sing in thee.

"Lady, keep thy world's delight, Keep the waters in thy sight Love hath made me strong to go, For thy sake, to realms below, Where the water's shine and hum Through the darkness never come. Let, I pray, one thought of me Spring, a little well, in thee; Lest thy loveless soul be found Like a dry and thirsty ground."

"Sing again, prince. It makes it less tedious," said the princess.

But the prince was too much overcome to sing any more, and a long pause followed.

"This is very kind of you, prince," said the princess at last, quite coolly, as she lay in the boat with her eyes shut.

"I am sorry I can't return the compliment," thought the prince, "but you are worth dying for, after all."

Again a wavelet, and another, and another flowed over the stone, and wetted both the prince's knees; but he did not speak or move. Two--three--four hours passed in this way, the princess apparently asleep, and the prince very patient. But he was much disappointed in his position, for he had none of the consolation he had hoped for.

At last he could bear it no longer.


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