THE WONDERFUL SHEEP
very sad and in great trouble, she had it in her power to make him forget all his grief.
' You are so kind and generous, noble Sheep,' said the Princess, ' that I cannot thank you enough, but I must confess that all I see here seems to me so extraordinary that I don't know what to think of it.'
As she spoke a band of lovely fairies came up and offered her amber baskets full of fruit, but when she held out her hands to them they glided away, and she could feel nothing when she tried to touch them.
' Oh !' she cried, ' what can they be ? Whom am I with ? ' and she began to cry.
At this instant the King- of the Sheep came back to her, and was so distracted to find her in tears that he could have torn his wool.
' What is the matter, lovely Princess ? ' he cried. ' Has anyone failed to treat you with due respect ? '
' Oh! no,' said Miranda ; ' only I am not used to living with sprites and with sheep that talk, and everything here frightens me. It was very kind of you to bring me to this place, but I shall be even more grateful to you if you will take me up into the world again.'
' Do not be afraid,' said the wonderful Sheep; ' I entreat you to have patience, and listen to the story of my misfortunes. I was once a king, and my kingdom was the most splendid in the world. My subjects loved me, my neighbours envied and feared me. I was respected by everyone, and it was said that no king ever deserved it more.
' I was very fond of hunting, and one day, while chasing a stag, I left my attendants far behind; suddenly I saw the animal leap into a pool of water, and I rashly urged my horse to follow it, but before we had gone many steps I felt an extraordinary heat, instead of the coolness of the water ; the pond dried up, a great gulf opened before me, out of which flames of fire shot up, and I fell helplessly to the bottom of a precipice.
' I gave mj'self up for lost, but presently a voice said: " Ungrateful Prince, even this fire is hardly enough to warm your cold heart! "
' " Who complains of my coldness in this dismal place ? " I cried.
'" An unhappy being who loves you hopelessly," replied the voice, and at the same moment the flames began to flicker and cease to