Short Stories » Princess Rosetta - Page 5 of 9
They all embarked in a boat on the sea, taking with them the bushel of golden crowns, and a sufficient quantity of clothes to last them ten years, changing them twice a day : they did nothing but laugh and sing. The nurse at last asked the boatman : " Are we nearing, are we nearing the kingdom of the Peacocks ?" " Not yet," said he. Once more she asked him : " Are we nearing, are we nearing ?" He said. " Presently, presently." Yet again she asked him : " Are we nearing, are we nearing ?" This tune he answered : " Yes !" And when he had said so, the nurse came forward and seated herself by him, and said to him : "If you wish it, you shall be rich for ever." He answered : " I desire nothing better." She then continued : "If you wish it then, you shall gain lots of dollars." He answered : " I desire nothing better." " Very well," said she, "to-night, while the princess is asleep, you must assist me to throw her overboard. When she is drowned I will dress my daughter in her fine clothes, and we will take her to the King of the Peacocks, who will be very glad to marry her ; and for a reward, your neck shall be loaded with diamonds."
The boatman was very much surprised at what the nurse proposed to him. He told her that it would be a pity to drown so beautiful a princess, and that he was very sorry for her. However, she took a bottle of wine, and made him drink so much, that he did not know how to refuse her.
Night being come, the princess went to bed as usual ; her little Fretillon lay prettily at her feet, without moving a paw. Rosetta was sleeping very soundly, when the wicked nurse, who was watchful enough, left her to fetch the boatman. She brought him where the princess was sleeping; and then, without awakening her, they took her with her feather-bed, mattrass, sheets and counterpane ; while the foster-sister also helped them all she could. They then threw her, bed and all, into the sea ; and the princess was sleeping so soundly that she did not awaken.
But most fortunately her couch was made of phoenix - feathers, which are very scarce, and have this property 7 , that they cannot sink; which caused her to float in her bed, as though she had been in a boat. The water however, gradually wetted her feather-bed, then the mattrass ; and Rosetta, feeling the water, could not tell what it meant.
As she turned, she awakened Fretillon. He had an excellent nose and smelt the cod and soles so near, that he began barking at them, which awakened all the other fish. They began swimming about ; and the large fishes ran their heads against the princess's bed, which, being held by nothing, turned round and round like a whip-top. Oh ! was she not surprised ! " Is our boat dancing on the water ?" said she. " I am not generally so ill at ease as I have been to-night." As Fretillon still kept barking, for he was in despair, the wicked nurse and the boatman heard it from a distance, and said : " That is the princess's comical little dog, drinking with his mistress to our good health; let us make haste to arrive :" for they were now close to the kingdom of the Peacocks.
The king had sent to the sea-shore a hundred carriages, drawn by all manner of scarce animals; there were lions, bears, stags, wolves, horses, oxen, asses, eagles and peacocks ; and the carriage intended for the princess Rosetta, was drawn by six blue apes, who could leap and dance on the tight rope, and play a thousand pretty tricks; their harness was very superb, and was made of crimson velvet, with plates of gold. There were also sixty young ladies whom the king had chosen to wait on her ; their clothes were of various colours, and gold and silver were the least valuable of their ornaments.