254 THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
"And indeed I had to hold on with all my might, for her horrible steed trotted so violently that it positively took my breath away. At last we stopped at a large farm, and the farmer and his wife ran out as soon as they saw the fairy and helped us to dismount.
"I knew that they were really a king and queen, whom the fairies were punishing for their ignorance and idleness. You may imagine that I was by this time half-dead with fatigue, but Mirlifiche insisted upon my feeding her unicorn before I did anything else. To accomplish this I had to climb up a long ladder into the hay-loft and bring down, one after another, twenty-four handfuls of hay. Never, never before did I have such a wearisome task! It makes me shudder to think of it now, and that was not all. In the same way I had to carry the twenty-four handfuls of hay to the stable, and then it was supper-time, and I had to wait upon all the others. After that I really thought I should be allowed to go peaceably to my little bed, but, oh, dear, no! First of all I had to make it, for it was all in confusion, and then I had to make one for the fairy, and tuck her in, and draw the curtains round her, besides rendering her a dozen little services which I was not at all accustomed to. Finally, when I was perfectly exhausted by all this toil I was free to go to bed myself, but as I had never before undressed myself and really did not know how to begin, I lay down as I was. Unfortunately the fairy found this out, and just as I was falling into a sweet slumber she made me get up once more, but even then I managed to escape her vigilance and only took off my upper robe. Indeed, I may tell you in confidence that I always find disobedience answer very well. One is often scolded, it is true, but then one has been saved some trouble.
"At the earliest dawn of day Mirlifiche woke me and made me take many journeys to the stable to bring her word how her unicorn had slept and how much hay he had eaten, and then to find ont what time it was and if it was a fine day. I was so slow and did my errands so badly that before she left she called the king and queen and said to them:
" 'I am much more pleased with you this year. Continue to make the best of your farm if vou wish to get back to your kingdom,and also take care of this little