46 THE YELLOW DWARF
me and I will carry you to the Castle of Steel, and we will leave upon this shore a figure so like you that even the Fairy herself will be deceived by it.'
So saying she quickly collected a bundle of sea-weed, and, blowing it three times, she said :
' My friendly sea-weeds, I order you to stay here stretched upon the sand until the Fairy of the Desert comes to take you away.' And at once the sea-weeds became like the King, who stood looking at them in great astonishment, for they were even dressed in a coat like his, but they lay there pale and still as the King himself might have lain if one of the great waves had overtaken him and thrown him senseless upon the shore. And then the Mermaid caught up the King, and away they swam joyfully together.
' Now,' said she, ' I have time to tell you about the Princess. In spite of the blow which the Fairy of the Desert gave her, the Yellow Dwarf compelled her to mount behind him upon his terrible Spanish cat; but she soon fainted away with pain and terror, and did not recover till they were within the walls of his frightful Castle of Steel. Here she was received by the prettiest girls it was possible to find, who had been carried there by the Yellow Dwarf, who hastened to wait upon her and showed her every possible attention. She was laid upon a couch covered with cloth of gold, embroidered with pearls as big as nuts.'
' Ah!' interrupted the King of the Gold Mines. ' if Bellis-sima forgets me, and consents to marry him, I shall break my heart.'
'You need not be afraid of that.' answered the Mermaid ; 'the Princess thinks of no one but you, and the frightful Dwarf cannot persuade her to look at him.'
' Pray go on with your story,' said the King.
' What more is there to tell you ?' replied the Mermaid. ' Bellissima was sitting in the wood when you passed, and saw you with the Fairy of the Desert, who was so cleverly disguised that the Princess took her to be prettier than herself; you may imagine her despair, for she thought that you had fallen in love with her.'
' She believes that I love her !' cried the King. ' "What a fatal mistake ! "What is to be done to undeceive her ? '
' You know best,' answered the Mermaid, smiling kindly at him. ' When people are as much in love with one another as you two are, they don't need advice from anyone else.'
As she spoke they reached the Castle of Steel, the side next the