152 FELICIA AND THE POT OF PINKS
went by and still she heard nothing from the Fairy she made her escape from the window by means of a rope ladder, taking her little baby with her. After wandering about until she was half
dead with cold and fatigue she reached this cottage. I was the labourer's wife, and was a good nurse, and the Queen gave you into my charge, and told me all her misfortunes, and then died before she had time to say what was to become of you.
' As I never in all my life could keep a secret, I could not help telling this strange tale to my neighbours, and one day a beautiful lady came here, and I told it to her also. When I had finished she touched me with a wand she held in her hand, and instantly I became a hen, and there was an end of my talking! I was very sad, and my husband, who was out when it happened, never knew what had become of me. After seeking me everywhere he believed that I must have been drowned, or eaten up by wild beasts in the forest. That same lady came here once more, and commanded that you should be called Felicia, and left the ring and the pot of pinks to be given to you; and while she was in the house twenty-five of the King's guards came to search for you, doubtless meaning to kill you; but she muttered a few words, and immediately they all turned into cabbages. It was one of them whom you threw out of your window yesterday.
' I don't know how it was that he could speak—I have never heard either of them say a word before, nor have I been able to do it myself until now.'
The Princess was greatly astonished at the hen's story, and caid kindly : ' I am truly sorry for you, my poor nurse, and wish it