THE YELLOW DWARF
they have eaten many other people: and what can you expect, as you have not any cake to give them ? '
' I must make up my mind to die,' said the poor Queen. ' Alas ! I should not care so much if only my dear daughter were married.'
' Oh ! you have a daughter,' cried the Yellow Dwarf (who was so called because he was a dwarf and had such a yellow face, and lived in the orange tree). ' I'm really glad to hear that, for I've been looking for a wife all over the world. Now, if you will promise that she shall marry me, not one of the lions, tigers, or bears shall touch you.'
The Queen looked at him and was almost as much afraid of his ugly little face as she had been of the lions before, so that she could not speak a word.
' What! you hesitate, madam,' cried the Dwarf. ' You must be very fond of being eaten up alive.'
And, as he spoke, the Queen saw the lions, which were running down a hill towards them.
Each one had two heads, eight feet, and four rows of teeth, and their skins were as hard as turtle shells, and were bright red.
At this dreadful sight, the poor Queen, who was trembling like a dove when it sees a hawk, cried out as loud as she could, ' Oh! dear Mr. Dwarf, Bellissima shall marry you.'
' Oh, indeed!' said he disdainfully. ' Bellissima is pretty enough, but I don't particularly want to marry her—you can keep her.'
' Oh ! noble sir,' said the Queen in great distress, ' do not refuse her. She is the most charming Princess in the world.'
' Oh ! well,' he replied, ' out of charity I will take her; but be sure you don't forget that she is mine.'
As he spoke a little door opened in the trunk of the orange tree, in rushed the Queen, only just in time, and the door shut with a bang in the faces of the lions.
The Queen was so confused that at first she did not notice another little door in the orange tree, but presently it opened and she found herself in a field of thistles and nettles. It was encircled by a muddy ditch, and a little further on was a tiny thatched cottage, out of which came the Yellow Dwarf with a very jaunty air. He wore wooden shoes and a little yellow coat, and as he had no hair and very long ears he looked altogether a shocking little object.
' I am delighted,' said he to the Queen, ' that, as you are to be my mother-in-law, you should see the little house in which your