150 FELICIA AND THE POT OF PINKS
' But you have a heart,' said the Queen. ' What should you say if anybody wanted to steal that ? '
'1 do not know what it is like to lose one's heart, madam,' she replied; ' but I have always heard that without a heart one cannot live, and if it is broken one must die; and in spite of my poverty I should be sorry not to live.'
' You are quite right to take care of your heart, pretty one,' said the Queen. ' But tell me, have you supped ? '
' No, madam,' answered Felicia; ' my brother ate all the supper there was.'
Then the Queen ordered that a place should be made for her at the table, and herself loaded Felicia's plate with good things; but she was too much astonished to be hungry.
' I want to know what you were doing at the fountain so late ? ' said the Queen presently.
' I came to fetch a pitcher of water for my pinks, madam,' she answered, stooping to pick up the pitcher which stood beside her ; but when she showed it to the Queen she was amazed to see that it had turned to gold, all sparkling with great diamonds, and the water, of which it was full, was more fragrant than the sweetest roses. She was afraid to take it until the Queen said:
' It is yours, Felicia; go and water your pinks with it, and let it remind you that the Queen of the Woods is your friend.'
The shepherdess threw herself at the Queen's feet, and thanked her humbly for her gracious words.
'Ah! madam,' she cried, 'if I might beg you to stay here a moment I would run and fetch my pot of pinks for you—they could not fall into better hands.'
' Go, Felicia,' said the Queen, stroking her cheek softly; ' I will wait here until you come back.'
So Felicia took up her pitcher and ran to her little room, but while she had been away Bruno had gone in and taken the pot of pinks, leaving a great cabbage in its place. When she saw the unlucky cabbage Felicia was much distressed, and did not know what to do; but at last she ran back to the fountain, and, kneeling before the Queen, said :
' Madam, Bruno has stolen my pot of pinks, so I have nothing but my silver ring; but I beg you to accept it as a proof of my gratitude.'
' But if I take your ring, my pretty shepherdess,' said the Queen, ' you will have nothing left; and what will you do then ? '