THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
But what is it that you do want? Shelter? Well, that does not cost much; but after that comes supper, and that I can't hear of. Oh, dear, no! Why, at your age one is always ready to eat; and now you have been walking and I suppose you are ravenous?"
"Indeed no, madam," answered the poor princess. "I am too sad to be hungry."
"Oh, well! if you will promise to go on being sad you may stay for the night," said the old woman mockingly.
Thereupon she made the princess sit down beside her and began fingering her silken robe, while she muttered: "Lace on top, lace underneath! This must have cost you a pretty penny! It would have been better to save enough to feed yourself, and not come begging to those who want all they have for themselves. Pray what may you have paid for these fine clothes?"
"Alas! madam," answered the princess, "I did not buy them and I know nothing about money."
"What do you know, if I may ask?" said the old dame.
"Not much; but indeed I am very unhappy," cried Celandine, bursting into tears; "and if my services are any good to you-----"
"Services!" interrupted the hag crossly. "One has to pay for services, and I am not above doing my own work."
"Madam, I will serve you for nothing," said the poor princess, whose spirits were sinking lower and lower. "I will do anything you please. All I wish is to live quietly in this lonely spot."
"Oh! I know you are only trying to take me in," answered she; "and if I do let you serve me, is it fitting that you should be so much better dressed than I am? If I keep you, will you give me your clothes and wear some that I will provide you with? It is true that I am getting old and may want some one to take care of me acme day."
"Oh! for pity's sake, do what vou please with my clothes, cried poor Celandine miserably.
And the old woman hobbled off with great alacrity and fetched a little bundle containing a wretched dress, such as the princess had never even seen before, and nimbly skipped round, helping her to put it on instead of her own rich robe, with many exclamations.
"Saints! what a magnificent lining! And the width of