The GREEN Fairy Book - online children's book

Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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52
THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
lawn shaped like a star, from which radiated twelve splen­did avenues of trees, the queen looked round and saw a charming peasant-girl approaching by each path, and what was still more singular was that every one carried something in a basket which appeared to occupy her whole attention. As each drew near she laid her basket at Balanice's feet, saying:
"Charming queen, may this be some slight consolation to you in your unhappiness!"
The queen hastily opened the baskets and found in each a lovely baby girl, about the same age as the little princess for whom she sorrowed so deeply. At first the sight of them renewed her grief, but presently their charms so gained upon her that she forgot her melancholy in pro­viding them with nursery-maids, cradle-rockers, and ladies-in-waiting, and in sending hither and thither for swings and dolls and tops and bushels of the finest sweet­meats.
Oddly enough, every baby had upon its throat a tiny pink rose. The queen found it so difficult to decide on suitable names for all of them that until she could settle the matter she chose a special color for every one, by which it was known, so that, when they were all together they looked like nothing so much as a nosegay of gay flowers. As they grew older it became evident that though they were all remarkably intelligent and profited equally by the education they received, yet they differed one from another in disposition, so much so that they gradually ceased to be known as "Pearl," or "Primrose," or whatever might have been their color, and the queen instead would say:
"Where is my Sweet?" or "my Beautiful," or "my Gay."
Of course, with all these charms thev had lovers bv the dozens. Not only in their own court, but princes from afar, who were constantly arriving, attracted by the reports which were spread abroad; but these lovely girls, the first maids of honor, were as discreet as they were beautiful and favored no one.
But let us return to Surcantine. She had fixed upon the son of a king who was cousin to Bardondon to bring up as her fickle prince. She had before, at his christen­ing, given him ail the graces of mind, and body that a
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