Graciosa and Percinet by Unknown
Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen who
had one charming daughter. She was so graceful
and pretty and clever that she was called Graciosa,
and the Queen was so fond of her that she could think of
Every day she gave the Princess a lovely new frock of
gold brocade, or satin, or velvet, and when she was hungry
she had bowls full of sugarplums, and at least twenty pots
of jam. Everybody said she was the happiest princess in the
world. Now there lived at this same court a very rich
old Duchess whose name was Grumbly. She was more
frightful than tongue can tell; her hair was red as fire, and
she had but one eye, and that not a pretty one! Her face
was as broad as a full moon, and her mouth was so large
that everybody who met her would have been afraid they
were going to be eaten up, only she had no teeth. As she
was as cross as she was ugly, she could not bear to hear
everyone saying how pretty and how charming Graciosa
was; so she presently went away from the court to her own
castle, which was not far off. But if anybody who went
to see her happened to mention the charming Princess, she
would cry angrily:
"It's not true that she is lovely. I have more beauty
in my little finger than she has in her whole body."
Soon after this, to the great grief of the Princess, the
Queen was taken ill and died, and the King became so
melancholy that for a whole year he shut himself up in his
palace. At last his physicians, fearing that he would fall
ill, ordered that he should go out and amuse himself; so a
hunting party was arranged, but as it was very hot weather
the King soon grew tired, and said he would dismount and
rest at a castle which they were passing.
This happened to be the Duchess Grumbly's castle, and
when she heard that the King was coming she went out to
meet him, and said that the cellar was the coolest place in
the whole castle if he would condescend to come down into
it. So down they went together, and the King seeing about
two hundred great casks ranged side by side, asked if it
was only for herself that she had this immense store of
"Yes, sire," answered she, "it is for myself alone, but
I shall be most happy to let you taste some of it. Which
do you like, canary, St. Julien, champagne, hermitage sack,
raisin, or cider?"
"Well," said the King, "since you are so kind as to ask
me, I prefer champagne to anything else."
Then Duchess Grumbly took up a little hammer and
tapped upon the cask twice, and out came at least a thousand
"What's the meaning of this?" said she, smiling.
Then she tapped the next cask, and out came a bushel of
"I don't understand this at all," said the Duchess, smiling
more than before.
Then she went on to the third cask, tap, tap, and out came
such a stream of diamonds and pearls that the ground was
covered with them.
"Ah!" she cried, "this is altogether beyond my comprehension,
sire. Some one must have stolen my good wine
and put all this rubbish in its place."
"Rubbish, do you call it, Madam Grumbly?" cried the
King. "Rubbish! why there is enough there to buy ten
"Well," said she, "you must know that all those casks are
full of gold and jewels, and if you like to marry me it shall
all be yours."
Now the King loved money more than anything else in
the world, so he cried joyfully:
"Marry you? why, with all my heart! to-morrow if you
"But I make one condition," said the Duchess; "I must
have entire control of your daughter to do as I please with
"Oh, certainly, you shall have your own way; let us shake
hands upon the bargain," said the King.
So they shook hands and went up out of the cellar of
treasure together, and the Duchess locked the door and gave
the key to the King.
When he returned to his own palace Graciosa ran out to
meet him, and asked if he had had good sport.
"I have caught a dove," answered he.
"Oh! do give it to me," said the Princess, "and I will
keep it and take care of it."
"I can hardly do that," said he, "for, to speak more
plainly, I mean that I met the Duchess Grumbly, and have
promised to marry her."
"And you call her a dove?" cried the Princess. "I
should have called her a screech owl."
"Hold your tongue," said the King very crossly. "I intend
you to behave prettily to her. So now go and make
yourself fit to be seen, as I am going to take you to visit
So the Princess went very sorrowfully to her own room,
and her nurse, seeing her tears, asked what was vexing her.
"Alas! who would not be vexed?" answered she, "for
the King intends to marry again, and has chosen for his
new bride my enemy, the hideous Duchess Grumbly."
"Oh, well!" answered the nurse, "you must remember
that you are a Princess, and are expected to set a good
example in making the best of whatever happens. You must
promise me not to let the Duchess see how much you dislike
At first the Princess would not promise, but the nurse
showed her so many good reasons for it that in the end she
agreed to be amiable to her stepmother.
Then the nurse dressed her in a robe of pale green and
gold brocade, and combed out her long fair hair till it
floated round her like a golden mantle, and put on her head
a crown of roses and jasmine with emerald leaves.
When she was ready nobody could have been prettier,
but she still could not help looking sad.
Meanwhile the Duchess Grumbly was also occupied in
attiring herself. She had one of her shoe heels made an
inch or so higher than the other, that she might not limp
so much, and put a cunningly made glass eye in the place
of the one she had lost. She dyed her red hair black, and
painted her face. Then she put on a gorgeous robe of
lilac satin lined with blue, and a yellow petticoat trimmed
with violet ribbons, and because she had heard that queens
always rode into their new dominions, she ordered a horse
to be made ready for her to ride.
While Graciosa was waiting until the King should be
ready to set out, she went down all alone through the garden
into a little wood, where she sat down upon a mossy
bank and began to think. And her thoughts were so doleful
that very soon she began to cry, and she cried and cried,
and forgot all about going back to the palace, until she
suddenly saw a handsome page standing before her. He
was dressed in green, and the cap which he held in his
hand was adorned with white plumes. When Graciosa looked
at him he went down on one knee, and said to her:
"Princess, the King awaits you."
The Princess was surprised, and, if the truth must be
told, very much delighted at the appearance of this charming
page, whom she could not remember to have seen before.
Thinking he might belong to the household of the
Duchess, she said:
"How long have you been one of the King's pages?"
"I am not in the service of the King, madam," answered
he, "but in yours."
"In mine?" said the Princess with great surprise. "Then
how is it that I have never seen you before?"
"Ah, Princess!" said he, "I have never before dared to
present myself to you, but now the King's marriage threatens
you with so many dangers that I have resolved to tell you
at once how much I love you already, and I trust that in
time I may win your regard. I am Prince Percinet, of
whose riches you may have heard, and whose fairy gift will,
I hope, be of use to you in all your difficulties, if you
will permit me to accompany you under this disguise."
"Ah, Percinet!" cried the Princess, "is it really you?
I have so often heard of you and wished to see you. If
you will indeed be my friend, I shall not be afraid of that
wicked old Duchess any more."
So they went back to the palace together, and there
Graciosa found a beautiful horse which Percinet had brought
for her to ride. As it was very spirited he led it by the
bridle, and this arrangement enabled him to turn and look
at the Princess often, which he did not fail to do. Indeed,
she was so pretty that it was a real pleasure to look at her.
When the horse which the Duchess was to ride appeared
beside Graciosa's, it looked no better than an old cart horse,
and as to their trappings, there was simply no comparison
between them, as the Princess's saddle and bridle were one
glittering mass of diamonds. The King had so many other
things to think of that he did not notice this, but all his
courtiers were entirely taken up with admiring the Princess
and her charming page in green, who was more handsome
and distinguished looking than all the rest of the court put
When they met the Duchess Grumbly she was seated in
an open carriage trying in vain to look dignified. The King
and the Princess saluted her, and her horse was brought
forward for her to mount. But when she saw Graciosa's
she cried angrily:
"If that child is to have a better horse than mine, I will
go back to my own castle this very minute. What is the
good of being a Queen, if one is to be slighted like this?"
Upon this the King commanded Graciosa to dismount and
to beg the Duchess to honor her by mounting her horse. The
Princess obeyed in silence, and the Duchess, without looking
at her or thanking her, scrambled up upon the beautiful
horse, where she sat looking like a bundle of clothes, and
eight officers had to hold her up for fear she should fall off.
Even then she was not satisfied, and was still grumbling
and muttering, so they asked her what was the matter.
"I wish that page in green to come and lead the horse, as
he did when Graciosa rode it," said she very sharply.
And the King ordered the page to come and lead the
Queen's horse. Percinet and the Princess looked at one another,
but said never a word, and then he did as the King
commanded, and the procession started in great pomp. The
Duchess was greatly elated, and as she sat there in state
would not have wished to change places even with Graciosa.
But at the moment when it was least expected the beautiful
horse began to plunge and rear and kick, and finally to run
away at such a pace that it was impossible to stop him.
At first the Duchess clung to the saddle, but she was very
soon thrown off and fell in a heap among the stones and
thorns, and there they found her, shaken to a jelly, and collected
what was left of her as if she had been a broken
glass. Her bonnet was here and her shoes there, her face
was scratched, and her fine clothes were covered with mud.
Never was a bride seen in such a dismal plight. They carried
her back to the palace and put her to bed, but as soon
as she recovered enough to be able to speak, she began to
scold and rage, and declared that the whole affair was
Graciosa's fault, that she had contrived it on purpose to try
and get rid of her, and that if the King would not have
her punished, she would go back to her castle and enjoy
her riches by herself.
At this the King was terribly frightened, for he did not
at all want to lose all those barrels of gold and jewels. So
he hastened to appease the Duchess, and told her she might
punish Graciosa in any way she pleased.
Thereupon she sent for Graciosa, who turned pale and
trembled at the summons, for she guessed that it promised
nothing agreeable for her. She looked all about for Percinet,
but he was nowhere to be seen; so she had no choice
but to go to the Duchess Grumbly's room. She had hardly
got inside the door when she was seized by four waiting
women, who looked so tall and strong and cruel that the
Princess shuddered at the sight of them, and still more when
she saw them arming themselves with great bundles of rods,
and heard the Duchess call out to them from her bed to
beat the Princess without mercy. Poor Graciosa wished miserably
that Percinet could only know what was happening
and come to rescue her. But no sooner did they begin to
beat her than she found, to her great relief, that the rods
had changed to bundles of peacocks' feathers, and though the
Duchess's women went on till they were so tired that they
could no longer raise their arms from their sides, yet she was
not hurt in the least. However, the Duchess thought she must
be black and blue after such a beating; so Graciosa, when
she was released, pretended to feel very ill, and went away
into her own room, where she told her nurse all that had
happened, and then the nurse left her, and when the Princess
turned round there stood Percinet beside her. She
thanked him gratefully for helping her so cleverly, and they
laughed and were very merry over the way they had taken
in the Duchess and her waiting maids; but Percinet advised
her still to pretend to be ill for a few days and after
promising to come to her aid whenever she needed him, he
disappeared as suddenly as he had come.
The Duchess was so delighted at the idea that Graciosa
was really ill that she herself recovered twice as fast as she
would have done otherwise, and the wedding was held with
great magnificence. Now as the King knew that, above all
other things, the Queen loved to be told that she was beautiful,
he ordered that her portrait should be painted, and
that a tournament should be held, at which all the bravest
knights of his court should maintain against all comers that
Grumbly was the most beautiful princess in the world.
Numbers of knights came from far and wide to accept the
challenge, and the hideous Queen sat in great state in a balcony
hung with cloth of gold to watch the contests, and
Graciosa had to stand up behind her, where her loveliness
was so conspicuous that the combatants could not keep their
eyes off her. But the Queen was so vain that she thought
all their admiring glances were for herself, especially as, in
spite of the badness of their cause, the King's knights were
so brave that they were the victors in every combat.
However, when nearly all the strangers had been defeated,
a young unknown knight presented himself. He
carried a portrait, inclosed in a box incrusted with diamonds,
and he declared himself willing to maintain against them all,
that the Queen was the ugliest creature in the world, and
that the Princess whose portrait he carried was the most
So one by one the knights came out against him, and one
by one he vanquished them all, and then he opened the box,
and said that, to console them, he would show them the
portrait of his queen of beauty, and when he did so, everyone
recognized the Princess Graciosa. The unknown knight then
saluted her gracefully and retired, without telling his name
to anybody. But Graciosa had no difficulty in guessing that
it was Percinet.
As to the Queen, she was so furiously angry that she
could hardly speak; but she soon recovered her voice, and
overwhelmed Graciosa with a torrent of reproaches.
"What!" she said, "do you dare to dispute with me for
the prize of beauty, and expect me to endure this insult to
my knights? But I will not bear it, proud Princess. I will
have my revenge."
"I assure you, madam," said the Princess, "that I had
nothing to do with it and am quite willing that you shall
be declared queen of beauty."
"Ah! you are pleased to jest, popinjay!" said the Queen,
"but it will be my turn soon!"
The King was speedily told what had happened, and how
the Princess was in terror of the angry Queen, but he only
"The Queen must do as she pleases. Graciosa belongs
The wicked Queen waited impatiently until night fell, and
then she ordered her carriage to be brought. Graciosa, much
against her will, was forced into it, and away they drove,
and never stopped until they reached a great forest, a
hundred leagues from the palace. This forest was so gloomy
and so full of lions, tigers, bears, and wolves that nobody
dared pass through it even by daylight, and here they set
down the unhappy Princess in the middle of the black night,
and left her in spite of all her tears and entreaties. The
Princess stood quite still at first from sheer bewilderment, but
when the last sound of the retreating carriage died away in
the distance she began to run aimlessly hither and thither,
sometimes knocking herself against a tree, sometimes tripping
over a stone, fearing every minute that she would be eaten
up by the lions. Presently she was too tired to advance another
step, so she threw herself down upon the ground and
"O Percinet! where are you? Have you forgotten me
She had hardly spoken when all the forest was lighted
up with a sudden glow. Every tree seemed to be sending
out a soft radiance, which was clearer than moonlight and
softer than daylight, and at the end of a long avenue of
trees opposite to her the Princess saw a palace of clear
crystal which blazed like the sun. At that moment a slight
sound behind her made her turn around, and there stood
"Did I frighten you, my Princess?" said he. "I come
to bid you welcome to our fairy palace, in the name of the
Queen, my mother, who is prepared to love you as much as
I do." The Princess joyfully mounted with him into a little
sledge, drawn by two stags, which bounded off and drew them
swiftly to the wonderful palace, where the Queen received
her with the greatest kindness, and a splendid banquet was
served at once. Graciosa was so happy to have found Percinet,
and to have escaped from the gloomy forest and all
its terrors, that she was very hungry and very merry, and
they were a gay party. After supper they went into another
lovely room, where the crystal walls were covered with
pictures, and the Princess saw with great surprise that her
own history was represented, even down to the moment when
Percinet found her in the forest.
"Your painters must indeed be diligent," she said, pointing
out the last picture to the Prince.
"They are obliged to be, for I will not have anything
forgotten that happens to you," he answered.
When the Princess grew sleepy, twenty-four charming
maidens put her to bed in the prettiest room she had ever
seen, and then sang to her so sweetly that Graciosa's dreams
were all of mermaids, and cool sea waves, and caverns, in
which she wandered with Percinet; but when she woke up
again her first thought was that, delightful as this fairy
palace seemed to her, yet she could not stay in it, but must
go back to her father. When she had been dressed by the
twenty-four maidens in a charming robe which the Queen had
sent for her, and in which she looked prettier than ever,
Prince Percinet came to see her, and was bitterly disappointed
when she told him what she had been thinking. He begged
her to consider again how unhappy the wicked Queen would
make her, and how, if she would but marry him, all the
fairy palace would be hers, and his one thought would be
to please her. But, in spite of everything he could say, the
Princess was quite determined to go back, though he at last
persuaded her to stay eight days, which were so full of
pleasure and amusement that they passed like a few hours.
On the last day, Graciosa, who had often felt anxious to
know what was going on in her father's palace, said to
Percinet that she was sure that he could find out for her,
if he would, what reason the Queen had given her father
for her sudden disappearance. Percinet at first offered to
send his courier to find out, but the Princess said:
"Oh! isn't there a quicker way of knowing than that?"
"Very well," said Percinet, "you shall see for yourself."
So up they went together to the top of a very high tower,
which, like the rest of the castle, was built entirely of rock
There the Prince held Graciosa's hand in his, and made her
put the tip of her little finger into her mouth, and look
toward the town, and immediately she saw the wicked Queen
go to the King, and heard her say to him: "That miserable
Princess is dead, and no great loss either. I have ordered
that she shall be buried at once."
And then the Princess saw how she dressed up a log of
wood and had it buried, and how the old King cried, and
all the people murmured that the Queen had killed Graciosa
with her cruelties, and that she ought to have her head cut
off. When the Princess saw that the King was so sorry for
her pretended death that he could neither eat nor drink, she
"Ah, Percinet! take me back quickly, if you love me."
And so, though he did not want to at all, he was obliged to
promise that he would let her go.
"You may not regret me, Princess," he said sadly, "for
I fear that you do not love me well enough; but I foresee
that you will more than once regret that you left this fairy
palace where we have been so happy."
But, in spite of all he could say, she bade farewell to the
Queen, his mother, and prepared to set out; so Percinet,
very unwillingly, brought the little sledge with the stags and
she mounted beside him. But they had hardly gone twenty
yards when a tremendous noise behind her made Graciosa
look back, and she saw the palace of crystal fly into a million
splinters, like the spray of a fountain, and vanish.
"O Percinet!" she cried, "what has happened? The
palace is gone!"
"Yes," he answered, "my palace is a thing of the past;
you will see it again, but not until after you have been
"Now you are angry with me," said Graciosa in her most
coaxing voice, "though after all I am more to be pitied than
When they drew near the palace the Prince made the sledge
and themselves invisible, so the Princess got in unobserved,
and ran up to the great hall where the King was sitting all by
himself. At first he was very much startled by Graciosa's
sudden appearance, but she told him how the Queen had left
her out in the forest, and how she had caused a log of wood
to be buried. The King, who did not know what to think,
sent quickly and had it dug up, and sure enough it was as
the Princess had said. Then he caressed Graciosa, and made
her sit down to supper with him, and they were as happy
as possible. But some one had by this time told the wicked
Queen that Graciosa had come back, and was at supper with
the King, and in she flew in a terrible fury. The poor old
King quite trembled before her, and when she declared that
Graciosa was not the Princess at all, but a wicked impostor,
and that if the King did not give her up at once she would
go back to her own castle and never see him again, he had
not a word to say, and really seemed to believe that it was
not Graciosa after all. So the Queen in great triumph sent
for her waiting women, who dragged the unhappy Princess
away and shut her up in a garret; they took away all her
jewels and her pretty dress, and gave her a rough cotton
frock, wooden shoes, and a little cloth cap. There was some
straw in a corner, which was all she had for a bed, and
they gave her a very little bit of black bread to eat. In
this miserable plight Graciosa did indeed regret the fairy
palace, and she would have called Percinet to her aid, only
she felt sure he was still vexed with her for leaving him,
and thought that she could not expect him to come.
Meanwhile the Queen had sent for an old fairy, as malicious
as herself, and said to her:
"You must find me some task for this fine Princess which
she cannot possibly do, for I mean to punish her, and if she
does not do what I order, she will not be able to say that
I am unjust." So the old fairy said she would think it
over, and come again the next day. When she returned
she brought with her a skein of thread, three times as big
as herself; it was so fine that a breath of air would break
it, and so tangled that it was impossible to see the beginning
or the end of it.
The Queen sent for Graciosa, and said to her:
"Do you see this skein? Set your clumsy fingers to work
upon it, for I must have it disentangled by sunset, and if
you break a single thread it will be the worse for you." So
saying she left her, locking the door behind her with three
The Princess stood dismayed at the sight of the terrible
skein. If she did but turn it over to see where to begin,
she broke a thousand threads, and not one could she disentangle.
At last she threw it into the middle of the floor,
"O Percinet! this fatal skein will be the death of me
if you will not forgive me and help me once more."
And immediately in came Percinet as easily as if he had
all the keys in his own possession.
"Here I am, Princess, as much as ever at your service,"
said he, "though really you are not very kind to me."
Then he just stroked the skein with his wand, and all the
broken threads joined themselves together, and the whole
skein wound itself smoothly off in the most surprising manner,
and the Prince, turning to Graciosa, asked if there was
nothing else that she wished him to do for her, and if the
time would never come when she would wish for him for
his own sake.
"Don't be vexed with me, Percinet," she said. "I am
unhappy enough without that."
"But why should you be unhappy, my Princess?" cried
he. "Only come with me and we shall be as happy together
as the day is long."
"But suppose you get tired of me?" said Graciosa.
The Prince was so grieved at this want of confidence that
he left her without another word.
The wicked Queen was in such a hurry to punish Graciosa
that she thought the sun would never set; and indeed it was
before the appointed time that she came with her four fairies,
and as she fitted the three keys into the locks she said:
"I'll venture to say that the idle minx has not done anything
at all—she prefers to sit with her hands before her
to keep them white."
But as soon as she entered, Graciosa presented her with the
ball of thread in perfect order, so that she had no fault to
find, and could only pretend to discover that it was soiled,
for which imaginary fault she gave Graciosa a blow on each
cheek, that made her white-and-pink skin turn green and
yellow. And then she sent her back to be locked into the
garret once more.
Then the Queen sent for the fairy again and scolded her
furiously. "Don't make such a mistake again; find me something
that it will be quite impossible for her to do," she said.
So the next day the fairy appeared with a huge barrel full
of the feathers of all sorts of birds. There were feathers from
nightingales, canaries, goldfinches, linnets, tomtits, parrots,
owls, sparrows, doves, ostriches, bustards, peacocks, larks,
partridges, and every sort that you can think of. These
feathers were all mixed up in such confusion that the birds
themselves could not have chosen out their own. "Here," said
the fairy, "is a little task which it will take all your prisoner's
skill and patience to accomplish. Tell her to pick out and lay
in a separate heap the feathers of each bird. She would need
to be an enchanter to do it."
The Queen was more than delighted at the thought of the
despair this task would cause the Princess. She sent for
her, and with the same threats as before locked her up with
the three keys, ordering that all the feathers should be sorted
by sunset. Graciosa set to work at once, but before she had
taken out a dozen feathers she found that it was perfectly
impossible to know one from another.
"Ah, well," she sighed, "the Queen wishes to kill me,
and if I must die I must. I cannot ask Percinet to help
me again, for if he really loved me he would not wait till
I called him, he would come without that."
"I am here, my Graciosa," cried Percinet, springing out
of the barrel, where he had been hiding. "How can you still
doubt that I love you with all my heart?"
Then he gave three strokes of his wand upon the barrel,
and all the feathers flew out in a cloud and settled down
in neat little separate heaps all round the room.
"What should I do without you, Percinet?" said Graciosa
gratefully. But still she could not quite make up her mind
to go with him and leave her father's kingdom forever; so
she begged him to give her more time to think of it, and
he had to go away disappointed once more.
When the wicked Queen came at sunset she was amazed
and infuriated to find the task done. However, she complained
that the heaps of feathers were badly arranged, and
for that the Princess was beaten and sent back to her garret.
Then the Queen sent for the fairy once more, and scolded her
until she was fairly terrified, and promised to go home and
think of another task for Graciosa, worse than either of the
At the end of three days she came again, bringing with
her a box.
"Tell your slave," said she, "to carry this wherever you
please, but on no account to open it. She will not be able
to help doing so, and then you will be quite satisfied with
the result." So the Queen came to Graciosa and said:
"Carry this box to my castle, and place it upon the table
in my own room. But I forbid you on pain of death to look
at what it contains."
Graciosa set out, wearing her little cap and wooden shoes
and the old cotton frock, but even in this disguise she was
so beautiful that all the passers-by wondered who she could
be. She had not gone far before the heat of the sun and
the weight of the box tired her so much that she sat down
to rest in the shade of a little wood which lay on one side
of a green meadow. She was carefully holding the box
upon her lap when she suddenly felt the greatest desire to
"What could possibly happen if I did?" she said to herself.
"I should not take anything out. I should only just
see what was there."
And without further hesitation she lifted the cover.
Instantly out came swarms of little men and women, no
taller than her finger, and scattered themselves all over the
meadow, singing and dancing, and playing the merriest
games, so that at first Graciosa was delighted and watched
them with much amusement. But presently, when she was
rested and wished to go on her way, she found that, do
what she would, she could not get them back into their box.
If she chased them in the meadow they fled into the wood,
and if she pursued them into the wood they dodged around
trees and behind sprigs of moss, and with peals of elfin
laughter scampered back again into the meadow.
At last, weary and terrified, she sat down and cried.
"It is my own fault," she said sadly. "Percinet, if you
can still care for such an imprudent Princess, do come and
help me once more."
Immediately Percinet stood before her.
"Ah, Princess!" he said, "but for the wicked Queen I
fear you would never think of me at all."
"Indeed I should," said Graciosa; "I am not so ungrateful
as you think. Only wait a little and I believe I shall
love you quite dearly."
Percinet was pleased at this, and with one stroke of his
wand compelled all the willful little people to come back to
their places in the box, and then rendering the Princess
invisible he took her with him in his chariot to the castle.
When the Princess presented herself at the door, and said
that the Queen had ordered her to place the box in her own
room, the governor laughed heartily at the idea.
"No, no, my little shepherdess," said he, "that is not the
place for you. No wooden shoes have ever been over that
Then Graciosa begged him to give her a written message
telling the Queen that he had refused to admit her. This he
did, and she went back to Percinet, who was waiting for
her, and they set out together for the palace. You may
imagine that they did not go the shortest way, but the Princess
did not find it too long, and before they parted she
had promised that if the Queen was still cruel to her, and
tried again to play her any spiteful trick, she would leave
her and come to Percinet forever.
When the Queen saw her returning she fell upon the fairy,
whom she had kept with her, and pulled her hair, and
scratched her face, and would really have killed her if a
fairy could be killed. And when the Princess presented the
letter and the box she threw them both upon the fire without
opening them, and looked very much as if she would like
to throw the Princess after them. However, what she really
did do was to have a great hole as deep as a well dug in
her garden, and the top of it covered with a flat stone.
Then she went and walked near it, and said to Graciosa
and all her ladies who were with her:
"I am told that a great treasure lies under that stone:
let us see if we can lift it."
So they all began to push and pull at it, and Graciosa
among the others, which was just what the Queen wanted;
for as soon as the stone was lifted high enough, she gave
the Princess a push which sent her down to the bottom of
the well, and then the stone was let fall again, and there
she was a prisoner. Graciosa felt that now indeed she was
hopelessly lost; surely not even Percinet could find her in
the heart of the earth.
"This is like being buried alive," she said with a shudder.
"O Percinet! if you only knew how I am suffering for
my want of trust in you! But how could I be sure that
you would not be like other men and tire of me from the
moment you were sure I loved you?"
As she spoke she suddenly saw a little door open, and
the sunshine blazed into the dismal well. Graciosa did not
hesitate an instant, but passed through into a charming garden.
Flowers and fruit grew on every side, fountains
plashed, and birds sang in the branches overhead, and when
she reached a great avenue of trees and looked up to see
where it would lead her, she found herself close to the
palace of crystal. Yes! there was no mistaking it, and the
Queen and Percinet were coming to meet her.
"Ah, Princess!" said the Queen, "don't keep this poor
Percinet in suspense any longer. You little guess the anxiety
he has suffered while you were in the power of that miserable
The Princess kissed her gratefully, and promised to do as
she wished in everything, and holding out her hand to Percinet,
with a smile, she said:
"Do you remember telling me that I should not see your
palace again until I had been buried? I wonder if you
guessed that when that happened, I should tell you that I
love you with all my heart, and will marry you whenever
Prince Percinet joyfully took the hand that was given him,
and, for fear the Princess should change her mind, the
wedding was held at once with the greatest splendor, and
Graciosa and Percinet lived happily ever after.