Short Stories » Princess Rosetta - Page 4 of 9

When they arrived at the chief town, they observed that it was full of men and women, whose clothes were made of peacocks' feathers; and that peacocks' feathers were displayed every where as very fine things. They met the king, who was taking an airing in a beautiful little carriage made of gold and set with diamonds, drawn by twelve peacocks which were harnessed to it. The King of the Peacocks was so very handsome, that our king arid the prince were charmed with him ; he was fair complexioned ; had long light coloured curling hair, and a crown of large peacocks' feathers. When he came up he conjectured that the two prince?, as they were dressed differently from the people of the country, were foreigners ; and in order to ascertain, he stopped his carriage and called to them.

The king and the prince went up to him ; and, having made an obeisance, said : " Sire, we have come from afar to show you a portrait." They then took from their portmanteau the large picture of Rosetta. When the King of the Peacocks had looked at it : "I cannot imagine " said he, that there is in the world so beautiful a girl." " The original is a hundred times more beautiful than the picture," said the king. " Ah ! you are joking," said the King of the Peacocks. " Sire," said the prince, " here is my brother who is a king like you : he is a king and I am a prince ; our sister, whose portrait this is, is the princess Rosetta : and we are come to ask you whether you are willing to marry her ; she is beautiful and very good, and we will give with her a bushel measure full of golden crowns." " Yes indeed," said the king, " I will marry her with all my heart ; she will want nothing with me, and I will be very fond of her ; but I assure you that I expect her to be as fair as her portrait, and if she be in the smallest degree less so, I will put you to death." " Well, we consent," answered Rosetta's two brothers. "You con- sent ? " said the king. " Go then to prison, and remain there until the princess arrives." The princes left him without a murmur, for they were quite certain that Rosetta was more handsome than her portrait.

When they were in prison the king had them well attended to ; he often went to see them, and kept in his room Rosetta's portrait, with which he was so infatuated, that he slept neither day nor night. As the king and his brother were in prison, they wrote by post to the princess, desiring her to make herself ready and come with all speed to them, for at last the King of the Peacocks was found, and was awaiting her arrival. They did not inform her that they were prisoners, for fear of making her uneasy.

When the princess received the letter, she was so transported with joy as to be quite overcome ; she told every body that the King of the Peacocks was found and wished to marry her. Bonfires were lighted, cannons were discharged, and sugarplums and sweetmeats were universally eaten; and all who came to see the princess during three days, were presented with a service of cake and wine. After this liberality, she left her fine dolls to her best friends ; and placed the government of her brother's kingdom in the hands of the wisest old men of the capital. She recommended them to take care of all, to spend nothing, and to collect money against the king's return ; she begged them to keep her peacock, and took with her only her nurse and her foster-sister, with her little green dog, Fretillon.

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