FEATHER HEAD AND CELANDINE. 91
Celandine, who heard it all, was ready to cry with vexation. The fairy too was quite shocked at his conceit and hit upon a plan for curing him of it. She sent to him by an unknown messenger a portrait of Princess Celandine as she really was, with this inscription:
"All this beauty and sweetness, with a loving heart and a great kingdom, might have been yours but for your well-known fickleness. '
This message made a great impression upon the prince, but not so much as the portrait. He positively could not tear his eyes away from it, and exclaimed aloud that never, never had he seen anything so lovely and so graceful. Then he began to think that it was too absurd that he, the fascinating Featherhead, should fall in love with a portrait; and to drive away the recollections of its haunting eyes he rushed back to the town, but somehow everything seemed changed. The beauties no longer pleased him, their witty speeches had ceased to amuse; and indeed, for their parts, they found the prince far less amiable than of yore, and were not sorry when he declared that, after all, a country life suited him best and went back to the Leafy Palace. Meanwhile the Princess Celandine had been finding the time pass but slowly with the king and queen, and was only too pleased when Featherhead reappeared. She at once noticed the change in him and was deeply curious to find the reason of it. Far from avoiding her, he now sought her company and seemed to take pleasure in talking to her, and yet the princess did not for a moment flatter herself with the idea that he was in love with her, though it did not take her long to decide that he certainly loved someone. But one day the princess, wandering sadly by the river, spied Prince Featherhead fast asleep in the shade of a tree, and stole nearer to enjoy the delight of gazing at his dear face unobserved. Judge of her astonishment when she saw that he was holding in his hand a portrait of herself! In vain did she puzzle over the apparent contradictoriness of his behavior. Why did ho cherish her portrait while he was so fatally indifferent to herself? At last she found an opportunity of asking him the name of the princess whose picture he carried about with him always.
"Alas! how can I tell you?" replied he.
"Why should you not?" said the princess timidly. "Surely there is nothing to prevent you."