VIVIEN AND PLACIDA. 353
who greeted him with her usual tranquil sweetness. His delight knew no bounds, and he followed her eagerly up into the castle, impatient to know what strange events had brought her there. But after all he had to wait for the princess' story, for the inhabitants of the Green Lands, hearing that the giant was dead, ran to offer the kingdom to his vanquisher, and Prince Vivien had to listen to various complimentary harangues, which took a great deal of time, though he cut them as short as politeuess allowed —if not shorter. But at last he was free to rejoin Placida, who at once began the story of her adventures.
"After you had gone away," said she, "they tried to make me learn how to govern the kingdom, which wearied me to death, so that I begged and prayed Lolotte to take me away with her, and this she presently did, but very reluctantly. However, having been transported to her grotto upon my favorite couch, I spent several delicious days, soothed by the soft green light, which was like a beech wood in the spring, and by the murmuring of bees and the tinkle of falling water. But, alas! Lolotte was forced to go away to a general assembly of the fairies, and she came back in great dismay, telling me that her indulgence to me had cost her dear, for she had been severely reprimanded and ordered to hand me over to the fairy Mirlifiche, who was already taking charge of you and who had been much commended for her management of you."
"Fine management, indeed," interrupted the prince, "if it is to her I owe all the adventures I have met with! But go on with your story, my cousin. I can tell you all about my doings afterward, and then you can judge for yourself."
"At first I was grieved to see Lolotte cry," resumed the princess, "but I soon found that grieving was very troublesome, so I thought it better to be calm, and very soon afterward I saw the fairy Mirlifiche arrive, mounted upon her great unicorn. She stopped before the grotto and bade Lolotte bring me out to her, at which she cried worse than ever and kissed me a dozen times, but she dared not refuse. I was lifted up on to the unicorn, behind Mirlifiche, who said to me:
" "Hold on tight, little girl, if you don't want to break your neck.'