Short Stories » Princess Rosetta - Page 6 of 9

The nurse had been at great trouble to decorate her daughter ; she had dressed her in Rosetta' s finest gown, with a diamond head-dress and lots of jewels. But in spite of her pains, her daughter was as ugly as a monkey : her hair was black and greasy ; she squinted shockingly ; her limbs were crooked; she had a large hump between her shoulders; was bad-tempered, slovenly, and always grumbling.

When the King of the Peacocks' people saw her coming out of the boat, they were so surprised that they could not speak. " Hey-day, what is the matter?" said she. " Are you all asleep ? make haste and bring me something to eat ; you are low wretches, and I will have you all hanged." On hearing this, they said among themselves : " What an ugly creature ! and she appears to be as wicked as she is ugly. Truly our king will be well married ; but I am not surprised when one seeks a wife from the end of the world." She gave as much trouble as she could ; and for no offence, she struck and boxed the ears of evervbodv about her.

As her equipage was very large, she went along very slowly, and carried her head as high as a queen, in her coach. But all the peacocks, who were perched on the trees to salute her as she passed along, and who had resolved to cry : " Long live beautiful queen Rosetta," when they saw her so ugly, cried : " Fie, fie, how ugly she is." She flew into a violent passion upon this, and said to her guards : " Kill these rascals of peacocks, who are abusing me." The peacocks, however, quickly flew away, and laughed at her.

The roguish boatman, who saw all that passed, said to the nurse : " Gossip, we are not quite right ; your daughter ought to be prettier." She answered : " Silence, blockhead ; you will bring some ill-luck on us, with your prattle."

They told the king that the princess was drawing near. " Very well," said he, " did her brothers tell the truth ? is she more beautiful than her portrait ?" " Sire," said a courtier, " it is enough if she is as good-looking." " Yes, indeed," said the king, " I "shall be satisfied ; let us go and see her ; " for he guessed by the noise in the court-yard, that she was now very near, though he could not make out exactly what was said, excepting that he thought he heard : " Fie, fie, how ugly she is." He thought, however, that these cries were applied to some dwarf or beast that she had brought with her ; for it never entered his mind that they were speaking of the princess herself.

The portrait of Rosetta was carried at the end of a long pole, without any covering ; and the king walked slowly after it, with all his barons, his peacocks, and the ambassadors from the neighbouring kingdoms. The King of the Peacocks was very impatient to see his dear Rosetta, but in truth, when he did see her, the sight nearly killed him on the spot ; he tore his clothes, put himself into the most violent passion, and would not go near her : she quite frightened him.

" What," said he, " have these two scoundrels that I have in prison, had the boldness to make sport of me, and to propose to marry me to such a baboon as that ! They shall die. Come ! away with this silly woman, her nurse and all who brought them ; let them be confined in the round- tower."

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