THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
the room at the time, had given him a scratch in the eye which came very near blinding him. Another time they had forgotten to give him any water to drink, so that he was nearly dead with thirst; and the worst thing of all was that he was in danger of losing his kingdom, for he had been absent so long that all his subjects believed him to be dead. So considering all these things, the enchanter agreed with the fairy Mazilla that she should restore the king to his natural form and should take Turritella to stay in his palace for several months, and if, after the time was over, he still could not make up his mind to marry her, he should once more be changed into a blue bird.
Then the fairy dressed Turritella in a magnificent gold and silver robe, and they mounted together upon a flying dragon, and very soon reached King Charming's palace, where he, too, had just been brought by his faithful friend the enchanter.
Three strokes of the fairy's wand restored his natural form, and he was as handsome and delightful as ever, but he considered that he paid dearly for his restoration when he caught sight of Turritella, and the mere idea of marrying her made him shudder.
Meanwhile Queen Fiordelisa, disguised as a poor peasant-girl, wearing a great straw hat that concealed her face and carrying an old sack over her shoulder, had set out upon her weary journey and had traveled far, sometimes by sea and sometimes by land, sometimes on foot and sometimes on horseback, but not knowing which way to go. She feared all the time that every step she took was leading her further from her lover. One day as she sat, quite tired and sad, on the bank of a little brook, cooling her white feet in the clear running water and combing her long hair that glittered like gold in the sunshine, a little bent old woman passed by, leaning on a stick. She stopped and said to Fiordelisa:
"What, my pretty child, are you all alone?"
"Indeed, good mother, I am too sad to care for company," she answered, and the tears ran down her cheeks.
"Don't cry," said the old woman, "but tell me truly what is the matter. Perhaps I can help you."
The queen told her willingly all that had happened and how she was seeking the blue bird. Thereupon the little old woman suddenly stood up straight, and grew tall, ao4