by Charles Perrault
Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who had two handsome
boys, and so well looked after were the latter that they grew apace,
like the daylight.
The queen never had a child without summoning the fairies to be
present at the birth, and she always begged them to tell what its
future was to be. When in due course she had a beautiful little
daughterso pretty that one could not set eyes on her without loving
herall the fairies came to visit her, and were hospitably
entertained. As they were making ready to go, the queen said to them:
'Do not forget your friendly custom, but tell me what fortune awaits
Rosette.' Such was the name which had been given to the little
The fairies replied that they had left their magic books at home,
but would come and see her some other time.
'Ah,' said the queen, 'that bodes ill. You are anxious not to
distress me by an unhappy prophecy. But tell me all, I implore you, and
hide nothing from me.'
The fairies did their utmost to excuse themselves. But the queen
became more and more eager to learn everything, and at last the chief
of them made a declaration.
'We fear, Madam,' she said, 'that Rosette will bring disaster on her
brothers, and that in some fashion she will be the cause of their
death. This much and no more can we foretell of the pretty child, and
we are grieved that we should have no better news to give you.'
Then the fairies went away, and the queen was left grieving.
So deep was her grief that the king saw it in her face, and asked
what ailed her. She had gone too near the fire, she told him, and had
burnt all the flax that was on her distaff.
'Is that all?' said the king, and going up to his storeroom he
brought her more flax than she could have spun in a hundred years.
But the queen continued sad, and again the king asked what ailed
her. She declared that in walking by the river she had let her green
satin slipper fall into the water.
'Is that all?' said the king, and summoning all the shoemakers in
the kingdom he brought her ten thousand green satin slippers.
Still she grieved, and once more he asked what ailed her. She told
him that in eating with rather too vigorous an appetite she had
swallowed her wedding-ring, which had been on her finger. The king knew
at once that she was not telling the truth, for he had put away this
'My dear wife,' he said, 'you lie; I put away your ring in my
pursehere it is!'
She was not a little confused at being caught telling a lie (for
there is nothing in the world so ugly), and she saw that the king was
displeased. She told him, therefore, what the fairies had prophesied of
little Rosette, and implored him to say if he could think of any good
The king was plunged in the deepest melancholy, so much so that he
remarked on one occasion to the queen: 'I see no other means of saving
our two sons but to bring about the death of our little child while she
is still in long clothes.' But the queen exclaimed that she would
rather suffer death herself. She would never consent, she declared, to
such a cruel course, and he must think of something else.
The royal pair were at their wits' end when the queen was told that
in a forest near the city there lived an aged hermit. His habitation
was a hollow tree, and folks were wont to seek his advice upon all
manner of things. 'I too must go there,' said the queen; 'the fairies
have warned me of the evil, but they have forgotten to tell me of the
She rose betimes and mounted a dainty little white mule that was
shod with gold, and took with her two of her ladies, each riding a
bonny horse. When they had entered the wood they dismounted, as a sign
of deference, and presented themselves at the tree where the hermit
lived. The latter had an aversion from the sight of women, but on
recognising the queen he addressed her.
'You are welcome,' he said; 'what do you want of me?'
She told him what the fairies had said of Rosette, and begged for
advice. His reply was that the princess must be placed in a tower and
never be allowed to leave it. The queen tendered her thanks, and having
bestowed liberal alms upon him, returned to tell everything to the
When the king had heard her news he gave orders at once for a great
tower to be built. In this the princess was shut up, and to keep her
amused the king and queen and her two brothers went every day to see
her. The elder boy was known as the Big Prince, and the younger as the
Little Prince. Both were passionately attached to their sister, for she
had such beauty and charm as had never been seen before. For the
lightest of looks from her many would have paid a hundred gold pieces
When the princess was fifteen years old the Big Prince spoke of her
to his father. 'My sister is old enough now to marry, Sire,' he said;
'shall we not soon be celebrating her wedding?' The Little Prince said
the same thing to his mother. But their royal parents turned the
conversation and made no answer on the subject of the marriage.
One day the king and queen were stricken by a grievous malady, and
died almost within twenty-four hours. Throughout the realm there was
mourning; every one wore black, and on all sides the tolling of bells
was heard. Rosette was grieved beyond consolation by the death of her
But when the royal dead had been interred, the noblemen of the realm
set the Big Prince upon a throne of gold and diamonds, robed him in
purple velvet embroidered with suns and moons, and placed a splendid
crown upon his head. Then all the Court cried aloud three times: 'Long
live the King!' and there followed universal festivities and
'Now that we are in power,' said the king and his brother as soon as
they could converse in private, 'we must release our sister from the
tower in which she has languished so long.' They had only to cross the
garden to reach the tower, which was built in a corner. It had been
reared as high as possible, for it had been the intention of the late
king and queen that their daughter should remain in it for life.
Rosette was busy with embroidery when her brothers entered, but on
catching sight of them she rose and left the frame at which she was
working. Taking the king's hand, she said: 'Good-morrow, Sire; you are
king to-day, and I am your humble servant. I implore you to release me
from the tower in which I have been languishing so long.' And with
these words she burst into tears.
The king embraced her and told her not to weep, for he had come to
take her from the tower and establish her in a beautiful castle. The
prince, who had brought a pocketful of sweets to give to Rosette, added
his word. 'Come,' he said, 'let us leave this hateful tower, and do not
be unhappy any longer. Very soon the king will find a husband for you.'
When Rosette saw the beautiful garden, with all its flowers and
fruit and its many fountains, she was overcome with amazement and could
not speak a word. She had never before seen anything of the kind. She
looked about her on all sides, and then ran hither and thither, picking
the fruit from the trees and the flowers from the beds, while her
little dog Frillikin (who was as green as a parrot, had only one ear,
and could dance deliciously) capered in front of her, yapping his
loudest, and amusing everybody present by his absurd gambols.
[Illustration: Princess Rosette]
Presently Frillikin dashed into a little copse, and the princess
followed. Never was any one so struck with wonder as she, to behold
there a great peacock with tail outspread. So beautiful, so exquisitely
and perfectly beautiful did it seem to her that she could not take away
her eyes. When the king and the prince joined her they asked what it
was that had so taken her fancy. She pointed to the peacock and asked
what it was, to which they replied that it was a bird that was
sometimes served at table.
'What?' she cried; 'a bird so beautiful as that to be killed and
eaten? I tell you, I will marry no one but the King of the Peacocks,
and when I am queen no one shall ever eat such a dish again!'
No words can express the astonishment of the king. 'My dear sister,'
he said, 'where do you suppose that we are to find the King of the
'Wherever you please, Sire,' was the answer; 'but I will marry none
After having announced this decision she allowed her brothers to
escort her to their castle. But so great was the fancy she had taken to
the peacock that she insisted on its being brought and placed in her
All the ladies of the Court, by whom Rosette had never yet been
seen, now hastened to pay their dutiful respects. Gifts of every kind
were proffered to hersweetmeats and sugar, gay ribbons, and dresses
of cloth-of-gold, dolls, slippers richly embroidered, with many pearls
and diamonds. All did their best to show her attention, and she
displayed such charming manners, kissing hands and curtseying so
graciously when any gift was offered to her, that not a gentleman or
lady of the Court but left her presence loud in her praise.
While the princess was being thus entertained, the king and the
prince were taking counsel as to how they could find the King of the
Peacocks, supposing such a person did really exist. In pursuit of the
plan which they formed a portrait was painted of the Princess Rosette,
and so cunningly wrought was this picture that only speech seemed
wanting to make it live. Then they said to their sister:
'Since you will marry none but the King of the Peacocks, we are
setting forth together in quest of him through the wide world. If we
find him we shall be well rewarded. Wait for our return, and take care
of our kingdom while we are away.'
Rosette thanked them for the trouble they were taking, and promised
to govern the kingdom well. She declared that while they were away her
only pleasures would be to admire the beautiful peacock and make
Frillikin dance. Their adieux were said with many tears.
Behold, then, the royal pair upon their travels, asking of all whom
they met: 'Do you know the King of the Peacocks?' The reply from all
was 'No, we do not.' Then the travellers would pass on and go further,
journeying in this way so far, far away that no one had ever been so
At last they reached the kingdom of the Cockchafers, and the latter
in their myriads made so loud a buzzing that the king thought he would
go deaf. He asked one who seemed more intelligent than the rest if he
knew whereabouts the King of the Peacocks was to be found.
'Sire,' said the cockchafer, 'his kingdom is thirty thousand leagues
away; you have taken the longest road to get there.'
'How do you know that?' asked the king.
'Because we know you well,' replied the cockchafer; 'every year we
spend two or three months in your garden!'
The king and his brother embraced the cockchafer warmly, and struck
up a great friendship. Arm in arm they all went off to dinner, over
which the visitors expressed their astonishment at the remarkable
features of this country, where the smallest leaf from a tree was worth
a gold piece. Presently they set off for their destination, and as they
now knew the road they were not long in reaching it. They observed that
all the trees were full of peacocks; indeed the place held so many of
them that their screaming as they talked could be heard two leagues
'If the King of the Peacocks is himself a peacock,' said the king to
his brother, 'how can our sister dream of marrying him? It would be
folly to sanction it. A nice set of relatives she would present to
usa lot of little peacocks for nephews!' The prince was equally
uneasy in his mind. 'It was an unfortunate notion to come into her
head,' he declared; 'I cannot imagine how she ever came to think that
such a person as the King of the Peacocks existed.'
When they reached the city they found it peopled with men and women,
but the latter all wore garments fashioned out of peacocks' feathers;
and from the profusion in which these objects were everywhere to be
seen it was plain that they were regarded with an intense admiration.
They encountered the King of the Peacocks, who was out for a drive in a
splendid little chariot of gold, studded with diamonds, drawn by a
dozen galloping peacocks.
The King of the Peacocks, fair of complexion, with a crown of
peacocks' feathers surmounting his long and curly yellow locks, was so
extremely handsome that the king and prince were delighted with his
appearance. He guessed from their clothes, so different from those of
the natives, that they were strangers; but to make sure he caused his
carriage to stop and summoned them to him.
The king and the prince advanced to meet him, and bowed low. 'We
have come from far away, Sire,' they said, 'in order to show you a
portrait.' With these words they drew from the pack which they carried
the magnificent portrait of Rosette.
'I do not believe,' said the King of the Peacocks, when he had
looked long and well at it, 'that the world holds so beautiful a
'She is a hundred times more beautiful than that,' said the king.
'You are joking,' said the King of the Peacocks.
'Sire,' said the prince, 'this is my brother, who is a monarch like
yourself: men call him King. For myself, I am known as Prince. This
portrait shows our sister, the Princess Rosette. We are here to ask if
you are willing to marry her. She has good sense as well as good looks,
and we will give her for dowry a bushel of golden crowns.'
'Why, certainly,' said the King of the Peacocks, 'I will marry her
with all my heart. I promise she shall want for nothing, and I will
love her truly. But I would have you know that she must be as beautiful
as her picture, and that if she falls short of it by the least little
bit, I will put you to death.'
'We accept the conditions,' said Rosette's two brothers.
'You accept?' said the King of the Peacocks. 'Then you must bide in
prison until the princess has arrived.'
The royal brothers raised no objection to this, for they knew well
that Rosette was more beautiful than her portrait. The King of the
Peacocks saw to it that his captives were well looked after, and went
often to visit them. The portrait of Rosette was placed in his palace,
and he was so taken up with it that, night or day, he could scarcely
From prison the king and the prince sent a letter to the princess
telling her to pack at once all she might require and come as quickly
as possible, for the King of the Peacocks awaited her. They did not
dare to mention that they were in prison, lest she should be too
When the princess received this letter her transports of delight
were enough to kill her. She announced to every one that the King of
the Peacocks had been found, and desired to wed her. Bonfires were lit,
guns fired, and sugar and sweetmeats eaten in abundance; while for
three days every one who came to see the princess was treated to bread
and butter with jam, and cakes and ale.
Having dispensed hospitality in this liberal fashion, the princess
gave all her beautiful dolls to her dearest friends, and entrusted her
brother's realm to the wisest elders of the city. She bade them take
care of everything, spend as little as possible, and save money until
the king should return. At the same time she begged them to look after
Taking with her only her nurse and foster-sister, and her little
green dog Frillikin, she embarked on a vessel and put out to sea. They
had with them the bushel of golden crowns, and clothes enough to last
for ten years, with a change of dress twice a day; and they did nothing
but laugh and sing on the voyage.
Presently the nurse said to the boatman:
'Tell me, tell me, are we near the Land of Peacocks?'
'Not yet, not yet,' replied the boatman.
A little later she asked again:
'Tell me, tell me, are we near it now?'
'Presently, presently,' replied the boatman.
Once more she asked:
'Tell me, tell me, are we near it now?'
[Illustration: The wicked nurse]
'Very near, very near,' said the boatman.
When he answered thus the nurse sat down beside him in the stern of
the boat. 'If you like, you can be rich for ever,' she said to him.
'I should like that well,' replied the boatman.
'If you like,' she went on, 'you can gain good money.'
'I ask nothing better,' said he.
'Very well, then,' said the nurse; 'to-night, when the princess is
asleep, you must help me to throw her into the sea. When she is drowned
I will dress up my daughter in her fine clothes, and we will take her
to the King of the Peacocks, who will be delighted to marry her. You
shall have your fill of diamonds as reward.'
The boatman was taken aback by this suggestion from the nurse. He
declared it was a pity to drown so beautiful a princess, and that he
had compassion for her. But the nurse fetched a bottle of wine, and
plied him with drink until he no longer had wits enough left to refuse.
When night fell the princess went to sleep, according to her usual
practice, with little Frillikin comfortably curled up at the foot of
the bed, stirring not a paw. When Rosette was fast asleep the wicked
nurse, who had remained awake, went to find the boatman. She took him
to the cabin where the princess lay, and with the help of the
foster-sister they lifted her upfeather-bed, mattress, sheets,
blankets, and allwithout disturbing her, and threw her into the sea
just as she was. So soundly did the princess slumber that she never
Now luckily her bed was made of feathers from the phoenix, which are
very rare and have this peculiar virtue that they never sink in water.
Consequently the princess went floating along in her bed, just as
though she were in a boat.
Presently, however, the water began little by little to lap first
against the sides of the feather-bed, then against the mattress, until
Rosette began to feel uncomfortable. She turned over restlessly, and
Frillikin woke up. He had a very keen nose, and when he scented the
soles and the cod-fish so near at hand he began yapping. He barked so
loudly that he woke up all the other fish, and they began to swim round
and about. Some of the big fish bumped their heads against the bed, and
there being nothing to steady the latter it spun round and round like a
You may imagine how astonished the princess was! 'Is our vessel
doing a dance upon the water?' she exclaimed; 'I do not remember ever
to have been so uncomfortable as I am to-night.' And all the time
Frillikin was barking as though he had taken leave of his senses.
The wicked nurse and the boatman heard him from afar. 'Do you hear
that?' they exclaimed; 'it is that funny little dog drinking our very
good health with his mistress! Let us make haste and get ashore.' By
this time, you must understand, they were lying off the capital of the
King of the Peacocks.
A hundred carriages had been sent to the water's edge by the king.
These were drawn by animals of every kindlions, bears, stags, wolves,
horses, oxen, asses, eagles, and peacocks. The carriage in which
Princess Rosette was to be borne was drawn by six blue monkeys which
could leap and dance upon the tight-rope and perform endless amusing
antics; these had trappings of crimson velvet, studded with gold
Sixty young girls awaited the coming of the princess. They had been
selected by the king to be her maids of honour, and their attire, of
every colour of the rainbow, shone with ornaments of which gold and
silver were the least precious.
The nurse had taken great pains over the toilette of her daughter.
She had decked her out in Rosette's most beautiful gown, and placed her
diamonds on her head. But nothing could disguise the fact that she was
an ugly little fright. Her hair was black and greasy, she was
cross-eyed and bow-legged, and in the middle of her back she had a big
hump. Moreover she was ill-tempered and sulky, and was for ever
[Illustration: 'She was an ugly little fright']
When the people of Peacock Land saw her disembark they were so
completely taken aback that none could say a word.
'What's the matter with you all?' she demanded; 'have you all gone
to sleep? Bring me something to eat at once, do you hear? I'll have the
lot of you hanged, precious riff-raff that you are!'
'What a horrible creature!' murmured the citizens amongst
themselves, when they heard these threats; 'as ill-tempered as she is
ugly! A nice bride for our king, or I am much mistaken! It was hardly
worth the trouble to bring her all the way across the world.' The girl
meantime continued to behave in most domineering fashion, giving slaps
and blows to every one without the slightest provocation.
The procession, being very large, was obliged to move slowly, and as
the carriage bore her along she comported herself as though she were a
queen. But all the peacocks, who had perched upon the trees to greet
her as she passed, and had arranged to call out 'Long live the
beautiful Queen Rosette!' cried out when they saw how horrible she was:
'Fie! fie! how ugly she is!' This enraged her, and she called out to
her escort: 'Kill those impudent peacocks: they are insulting me!' But
the peacocks flew nimbly away, and laughed at her.
The rascally boatman was witness of all that occurred, and whispered
to the nurse: 'Things are not going well for us, my good woman: your
daughter should have been prettier.'
'Hold your tongue, stupid!' she replied; 'or you will get us into
Word was brought to the king that the princess was approaching.
'Well,' said he; 'did her brothers speak the truth? Is she more
beautiful than her portrait?'
'Sire,' said the courtiers, 'if she is only as beautiful, that
should be enough.'
'Very true!' exclaimed the king. 'I shall be content with that. Let
us go and see her.'
He could tell from the din which arose from the courtyard that the
princess had arrived, but the only words he could hear plainly amidst
the hubbub were cries of 'Fie! fie! how ugly she is!' He supposed
people must be referring to some dwarf or pet creature which she had
perhaps brought with her, for it never entered his head that it could
be the princess herself who was meant.
The portrait of Rosette, uncovered, was hoisted on the end of a long
pole, and carried in front of the king, who walked in state with his
barons and peacocks, and the ambassadors from neighbouring kingdoms in
his train. Great was the impatience of the King of the Peacocks to
behold his dear Rosette; but when at length he did set eyes on
hergracious heavens, it was a wonder the shock did not kill him on
the spot! He flew into a most terrible rage, rending his clothes, and
refusing to go near her. Indeed, she frightened him.
'What!' he cried; 'have those two dastardly prisoners the impudence
to mock me thus, and propose that I should wed such a loathsome
creature as that? They shall die for it! Away with that hussy and her
nurse, and the fellow who brought them here; cast them into the dungeon
of my keep!'
Now the king and his brother, who had heard in prison that their
sister was expected, had attired themselves handsomely to receive her.
But instead of the prison being opened and their liberty restored, as
they had anticipated, there came the gaoler with a squad of soldiers,
and made them descend into a black dungeon, swarming with vile
creatures, where the water was up to their necks. Never were two people
more astounded or more distressed. 'Alas!' they cried to each other;
'this is a doleful wedding feast for us! What has brought this unhappy
fate upon us?' They did not know what in the world to think, except
that it was desired to compass their death, and this reflection filled
them with melancholy.
Three days passed and they heard not a word of anything. At the end
of the third day the King of the Peacocks came and hurled insults at
them through a hole in the wall.
'You called yourselves King and Prince to trap me,' he shouted to
them, 'and sought thus to make me promise to wed your sister. But you
are nought but a couple of beggars, not worth the water you drink. You
shall be sent for trial, and the judges will make short work of your
casethe rope to hang you with is being plaited already!'
'Not so fast, King of the Peacocks,' replied the captive monarch,
angrily, 'or you will have cause to repent it! I am a king like
yourself: I rule over a fair land, I have robes and crowns and treasure
in plenty. I pledge my all to the truth of what I say. You must be
joking to talk of hanging usof what have we robbed you?'
The King of the Peacocks hardly knew what to make of this bold and
confident challenge. He was almost of a mind to spare their lives and
let them take their sister away. But his Chancellor, an arrant
flatterer, egged him on, whispering that if he did not avenge himself,
he would be the laughing-stock of the whole world, and would be looked
upon as a mere twopenny-halfpenny monarch. Thus influenced, he vowed he
would not pardon them, and ordered their trial to take place.
This did not take long, for it was only necessary to compare side by
side the portrait of the true Princess Rosette with the actual person
who had come in her place and claimed identity with her. The prisoners
were forthwith condemned to have their heads cut off as a penalty for
lying, in that they brought the king an ugly little peasant girl after
promising a beautiful princess.
The sentence was read with great ceremony at the prison, but the
victims protested that they had spoken the truth, that their sister was
indeed a princess, and that there was something at the back of all this
which they did not understand. They asked for a respite of seven days,
that they might have an opportunity of establishing their innocence;
and though the King of the Peacock's wrath was such that he had great
difficulty in granting this concession, he agreed to it at length.
Something must now be told of what was happening to poor Princess
Rosette while all these events were taking place at the Court.
Great was her astonishment, and Frillikin's also, to find herself,
when day came, in mid-ocean without boat or any means of assistance.
She fell to weeping, and cried so long and bitterly that all the fishes
were moved to compassion. She knew not what to do, nor what would
become of her.
'There is no doubt,' she said, 'that I have been thrown into the sea
by order of the King of the Peacocks. He has regretted his promise to
marry me, and to be rid of me without fuss he has had me drowned. A
strange way for a man to behave! And I should have loved him so much,
and we should have been so happy together!'
These thoughts made her weep the more, for she could not dispel her
fancy for him.
[Illustration: 'She floated hither and thither']
For two days she floated hither and thither over the sea, soaked to
the skin, nigh dead with cold, and so nearly benumbed that but for
little Frillikin, who snuggled to her bosom, and kept a little warmth
in her, she must have perished a hundred times. She was famished with
hunger, but on seeing some oysters in their shells she took and ate as
many as would appease her. Frillikin did the same, but only to keep
himself alive, for he did not like them.
When night fell Rosette was filled with terror. 'Bark, Frillikin,'
she said to her dog; 'keep on barking, or the soles will come and eat
us!' So Frillikin barked all night.
[Illustration: 'A kindly old man']
When morning came the bed was not far off the shore. Hereabouts
there lived, all alone, a kindly old man. His home was a little hut
where no one ever came, and as he had no desire for worldly goods he
was very poor. He was astonished when he heard the barking of
Frillikin, for no dogs ever came that way; and supposing that some
travellers must have missed their road, he went out with the
good-natured intention of putting them right. Suddenly he saw the
princess and Frillikin floating out at sea. The princess caught sight
of him, and stretching out her arms to him, cried:
'Save me, kind old man, or I shall perish; two whole days have I
been floating thus.'
He was filled with pity when he heard her speak thus dolefully, and
went to his house to fetch a big crook. He waded out till the water was
up to his neck, and after being nearly drowned two or three times he
succeeded in grappling the bed and drawing it to the shore.
Rosette and Frillikin were delighted to find themselves once more on
land. Rosette thanked the good man warmly. She accepted the offer of
his cloak, and having wrapped herself in it walked barefoot to his hut.
There he lit a little fire of dry straw, and took from a chest his dead
wife's best dress, with a pair of stockings and shoes, which the
princess put on. Clad thus in peasant's attire, with Frillikin
gambolling round her to amuse her, she looked as beautiful as ever.
The old man saw plainly that Rosette was a great lady, for the
coverlets of her bed were of gold and silver, and her mattress of
satin. He begged her to tell him her story, promising not to repeat a
word if she so desired. She related everything from beginning to
endnot without tears, for she still believed that the King of the
Peacocks had meant her to be drowned.
'What are we to do, my child?' said the old man. 'A great lady like
you is accustomed to live on dainties, and I have only black bread and
radishesvery poor fare for you. But I will go, if you will let me,
and tell the King of the Peacocks that you are here. There is not the
least doubt he will marry you, once he has seen you.'
'He is a bad man,' said Rosette; 'he wanted me to die. If only you
can supply me with a small basket to fasten on my dog's neck, it will
be exceedingly bad luck if he does not bring us back something to eat.'
The old man handed a basket to the princess, and she hung it round
Frillikin's neck with these words: 'Find the best stew-pot in the town,
and bring me back whatever is inside it.' Off went Frillikin to the
town, and as he could think of no better stew-pot than the king's, he
made his way into the royal kitchen. Having found the stew-pot, he
cleverly extricated its contents and returned to the house.
'Now go back to the larder,' said Rosette, 'and bring the best that
you can find there.'
Away went Frillikin to the larder and took some white bread, some
choice wine, and an assortment of fruit and sweets. In fact, he took as
much as he could carry.
When the King of the Peacocks should have dined there was nothing in
the stew-pot and nothing in the larder. Everybody gazed blankly at
everybody else, and the king flew into a terrible rage. 'Oh, very
good,' said he; 'it seems I am to have no dinner! Well, put the spits
to the fire, and see to it that some good roast joints are ready for me
When evening came the princess said to Frillikin: 'Find the best
kitchen in the town and bring me a nice roast joint.' Off went
Frillikin to carry out this order from his mistress. Thinking there
could be no better kitchen than the king's, he slipped in quietly when
the cooks' backs were turned, and took off the spit a roast joint,
which looked so good that the mere sight of it gave one an appetite.
His basket was full when he brought it back to the princess, but she
sent him off again to the larder, and from there he carried away all
the king's sweetmeats and dessert.
The king was exceedingly hungry, having had no dinner, and ordered
supper betimes. But there was nothing to eat, and he went to bed in a
frightful temper. Next day at dinner and supper it was just the same.
For three days the king had nothing to eat or drink, for every time he
sat down at table it was found that everything had been stolen.
The Chancellor, being very much afraid that the king would die, went
and hid in a corner of the kitchen, whence he could keep the stew-pot
on the fire constantly in view. To his astonishment he saw a little
green dog, with only one ear, creep in stealthily, take the lid off the
pot, and transfer the meat to his basket. He followed it in order to
find out where it went, and saw it leave the town. Still pursuing, he
came to the house of the good old man. He went immediately to the king
and told him that it was to a poor peasant's house that every morning
and evening his dinner and supper vanished.
The king was mightily astonished, and ordered investigations to be
made. The Chancellor, to curry favour, volunteered to go himself, and
took with him a posse of archers. They found the old man at dinner with
the princess, and the pair of them eating the king's provisions. They
seized and bound them with strong ropes, not forgetting to deal in like
manner with Frillikin.
'To-morrow,' said the king, when he was told that the prisoners had
arrived, 'the seven days' grace expires which I granted to those
miscreants who insulted me. They shall go to execution with the
stealers of my dinner.'
When the King of the Peacocks entered the court of justice the old
man flung himself on his knees, and declared that he would narrate all
that had happened. As he told his story the king eyed the beautiful
princess, and was touched by her weeping. When presently the good man
declared that her name was the Princess Rosette, and that she had been
thrown into the sea, he bounded three times into the air, despite the
weak state in which he was after going so long without food, and ran to
embrace her. As he undid the cords which bound her he cried out that he
loved her with all his heart.
A guard had been sent for the princes, who approached just then.
They came sadly with bowed heads, for they believed the hour of their
execution had come. The nurse and her daughter were brought in at the
same moment. Recognition was instant on all sides. Rosette flung
herself into her brothers' arms, while the nurse and her daughter, with
the boatman, fell on their knees and prayed for clemency. So joyous was
the occasion that the king and the princess pardoned them. The good old
man was handsomely rewarded, and given quarters at the palace for the
rest of his life.
Finally, the King of the Peacocks made all amends in his power to
the royal brothers, expressing his deep regret at having ill-treated
them. The nurse delivered up to Rosette her beautiful dresses and the
bushel of golden crowns, and the wedding festivities lasted for fifteen
days. Every one was happy, not excepting Frillikin, who ate nothing but
partridge wings for the rest of his life.