154 FELICIA AND THE POT OF PINKS
' What!' said the Queen, ' have you not heard that you are a princess ?'
' I was told so a little while ago, madam, but how could I believe it without a single proof? '
' Ah! dear child,' said the Queen, ' the way you speak assures me that, in spite of your humble upbringing, you are indeed a real princess, and I can save you from being treated in such a way again.'
She was interrupted at this moment by the arrival of a very handsome young man. He wore a coat of green velvet fastened with emerald clasps, and had a crown of pinks on his head. He knelt upon one knee and kissed the Queen's hand.
' Ah! ' she cried, ' my pink, my dear son, what a happiness to see you restored to your natural shape by Felicia's aid ! ' And she embraced hirn joyfully. Then turning to Felicia she said :
' Charming Princess, I know all the hen told you, but you cannot have heard that the zephyrs, to whom was entrusted the task of carrying my son to the tower where the Queen, your mother, so anxiously waited for him, left him instead in a garden of flowers, while they flew off to tell your mother. Whereupon a fairy with whom I had quarrelled changed him into a pink, and I could do nothing to prevent it.
' You may imagine how angry I was, and how I tried to find some means of undoing the mischief she had done ; but there was no help for it. I could only bring Prince Pink to the place where you were being brought up, hoping that when you grew up he might love you, and by your care be restored to his natural form. And you see everything has come right, as I hoped it would. Your giving me the silver ring was the sign that the power of the charm was nearly over, and my enemy's last chance was to frighten you with her army of rats. That she did not succeed in doing ; so now, my dear Felicia, if you will be married to my son with this silver ring your future happiness is certain. Do you think him handsome and amiable enough to be willing to marry him ? '
' Madam,' replied Felicia, blushing, ' you overwhelm me with your kindness. I know that you are my mother's sister, and that by your art you turned the soldiers who were sent to kill me into cabbages, and my nurse into a hen, and that you do me only too much honour in proposing that I shall marry your son. How can I explain to you the cause of my hesitation ? I feel, for the first time in my life, how happy it would make me to be beloved. Can you indeed give me the Prince's heart ? '