THE WHITE CAT
descend it, the crossest and ugliest of the old fairies flew in. Before he had time to defend himself my unhappy lover was swallowed up by the dragon. As for me, the fairies, furious at having their plans defeated, for they intended me to marry the king of the dwarfs and I utterly refused, changed me into a white cat. "When they brought me here I found all the lords and ladies of my father's court awaiting me under the same enchantment, while the people of lesser rank had been made invisible, all but their hands.
' As they laid me under the enchantment the fairies told me all my history, for until then I had quite believed that I was their child, and warned me that my only chance of regaining my natural form was to win the love of a prince who resembled in every way my unfortunate lover.'
' And you have won it, lovely Princess,' interrupted the Prince.
' You are indeed wonderfully like him,' resumed the Princess — ' in voice, in features, and everything; and if you really love me all my troubles will be at an end.'
' And mine too,' cried the Prince, throwing himself at her feet, ' if you will consent to marry me.'
' I love you already better than anyone in the world,' she said; ' but now it is time to go back to your father, and we shall hear what he says about it.'
So the Prince gave her his hand and led her out, and they mounted the chariot together; it was even more splendid than before, and so was the whole company. Even the horses' shoes were of rubies with diamond nails, and I suppose that is the first time such a thing was ever seen.
As the Princess was as kind and clever as she was beautiful, you may imagine what a delightful journey the Prince found it, for everything the Princess said seemed to him quite charming.
When they came near the castle where the brothers were to meet, the Princess got into a chair carried by four of the guards ; it was hewn out of one splendid crystal, and had silken curtains, which she drew round her that she might not be seen.
The Prince saw his brothers walking upon the terrace, each with a lovely princess, and they came to meet him, asking if he had also foimd a wife. He said that he had found something much rarer—a little white cat! At which they laughed very much, and. asked him if he was afraid of being eaten up by mice in the palace. And then they set out together for the town. Each prince and princess rode in a splendid carriage; the horses were decked with