THE WHITE CAT 173
plumes of feathers, and glittered with gold. After them came the youngest prince, and last of all the crystal chair, at which everybody looked with admiration and curiosity. "When the courtiers saw them coming they hastened to tell the King.
' Are the ladies beautiful ? ' he asked anxiously.
And when they answered that nobody had ever before seen such lovely princesses he seemed quite annoyed.
However, he received them graciously, but found it impossible to choose between them.
Then turning to his youngest son he said:
' Have you come back alone, after all ? '
' Your Majesty,' replied the Prince, ' will find in that crystal chair a httle white cat, which has such soft paws, and mews so prettily, that I am sure you will be charmed with it.'
The King smiled, and went to draw back the curtains himself, but at a touch from the Princess the crystal shivered into a thousand splinters, and there she stood in all her beauty; her fair hair floated over her shoulders and was crowned with flowers, and her softly falling robe was of the purest white. She saluted the King gracefully, while a murmur of admiration rose from all around.
' Sire,' she said, ' I am not come to deprive you of the throne you fill so worthily. I have already six kingdoms, permit me to bestow one upon you, and upon each of your sons. I ask nothing but your friendship, and your consent to my marriage with your youngest son; we shall still have three kingdoms left for ourselves.'
The King and all the courtiers could not conceal their joy and astonishment, and the marriage.of the three Princes was celebrated at once. The festivities lasted several months, and then each king and queen departed to their own kingdom and lived happily ever after.1
1 La Chatte blanche. Par Madame la Comtesse d'Aulnoy.