HEART OF ICE. 137
pretensions. My ambassador has orders, therefore, to make arrangements for the princess to come and be married to me without delay—for I attach no importance at all to the farrago of nonsense which you have caused to be published all over the world about this Ice Mountain. If the princess really has no heart, be assured that I shall not concern myself about it, since, if anybody can help her to discover one, it is myself. My worthy father-in-law, farewell!"
The reading of this letter embarrassed and displeased Farda-Kinbras and Birbantine immensely, while the princess was furious at the insolence of the demand. They all three resolved that its contents must be kept a profound secret until they could decide what reply should be sent, but Mousta contrived to send word of all that had passed to Prince Manikin. He was naturally alarmed and indignant, and after thinking it over a little he begged an audience of the princess, and led the conversation so cunningly up to the subject that was uppermost in her thoughts, as well as his own, that she presently told him all about the matter and asked his advice as to what it would be best to do. This was exactly what he had not been able to decide for himself. He replied that he should advise her to gain a little time by promising her answer after the grand entry of the ambassador, and this was accordingly done.
The ambassador did not at all like being put off after that fashion, but he was obliged to be content, and only said very arrogantly that so soon as his equipages arrived, as he expected they would do very shortly, he would give all the people of the city and the stranger princes with whom it was inundated an idea of the power and the magnificence of his master. Manikin, in despair, resolved that he would for once beg the assistance of the kind fairy Genesta. He often thought of her and always with gratitude, but from the moment of his setting out he had determined to seek her aid only on the greatest occasions. That very night, when he had fallen asleep quite worn out with thinking over all the difficulties of the situation, he dreamed that the fairy stood beside him and said:
"Manikin, you have done very well so far. Continue