THE YELLOW DWARF 43
Fairy was to have any hope of escaping from her except by great patience and cunning.
The Fairy of the Desert had also seen Bellissima, and she tried to read in the King's eyes the effect that this unexpected sight had had upon him.
' No one can tell you what you wish to know better than I can,' said he. ' This chance meeting with an unhappy princess for whom I once had a passing fancy, before I was lucky enough to meet you, has affected me a little, I admit, but you are so much more to me than she is that I would rather die than leave you.'
' Ah ! Prince,' she said, ' can I believe that you really love me so much ?'
' Time will show, madam,' replied the King; 'but if you wish to convince me that you have some regard for me, do not, I beg of you, refuse to aid Bellissima.'
' Do you know what you are asking ? ' said the Fairy of the Desert, frowning, and looking at him suspiciously. ' Do you want me to employ my art against the Yellow Dwarf, who is my best friend, and take away from him a proud princess whom I can but look upon as my rival ? '
The King sighed, but made no answer—indeed, what was there to be said to such a clear-sighted person ? At last they reached a vast meadow, gay with all sorts of flowers ; a deep river surrounded it, and many little brooks murmured softly under the shady trees, where it was always cool and fresh. A little way off stood a splendid palace, the walls of which were of transparent emeralds. As soon as the swans which drew the Fairy's chariot had alighted under a porch, which was paved with diamonds and had arches of rubies, they were greeted on all sides by thousands of beautiful beings, who came to meet them joyfully, singing these words:
When Love within a heart would reign,
Useless to strive against him 'tis. The proud but feel a sharper pain,
And make a greater triumph his.
The Fairy of the Desert was delighted to hear them sing of her triumphs; she led the King into the most splendid room that can be imagined, and left him alone for a little while, just that he might not feel that he was a prisoner; but he felt sure that she had not really gone quite away, but was watching him from some hiding-place. So walking up to a great mirror, he said to it, ' Trusty