NARCISSUS AND POTENTILLA
with all the birds in Potentilla's little domain, and taught them to sing her name and her praises, with all their sweetest trills and most touching melodies, and all day long to tell her how dearly he loved her. Grumedan thereupon declared that there was nothing new about that, since the birds had sung since the world began, and all lovers had imagined that they sang for them alone. Therefore he said he would himself write an opera that should be absolutely a novelty and something worth hearing. When the time came for the performance (which lasted five weary hours) the princess found to her dismay that the "opera" consisted of this more than indifferent verse, chanted with all their might by ten thousand frogs:
" Admirable Potentilla,
Do you think it kind or wise In this sudden way to kill a
Poor enchanter with your eyes V*
Really, if Narcissns had not been there to whisper in her ear and divert her attention, I don't know what would have become of poor Potentilla, for though the first repetition of this absurdity amused her faintly, she nearly died of weariness before the time was over. Luckily Grumedan did not perceive this, as he was too much occupied in whipping up the frogs, many of whom perished miserably from fatigue, since he did not allow them to rest for a moment. The prince's next idea for Potentilla's amusement was to cause a fleet of boats exactly like those of Cleopatra, of which you have doubtless read in history, to come up the little river, and upon the most gorgeously decorated of these reclined the great queen herself, who, as soon as she reached the place where Potentilla sat in rapt attention, stepped majestically on shore and presented the princess with that celebrated pearl of which you have heard so much, saying:
"You are more beautiful than I ever was. Let my example warn you to make a better use of your beauty!"
And then the little fleet sailed on until it was lost to view in the windings of the river. Grumedan was also looking on at the spectacle, and said very contemptuously:
"I cannot say I think these marionettes amusing. What a to-do to make over a single pearl! But if you like pearls, madam, why, I will soon gratify you."