THE GREEN FAIRY BOOK.
be fulfilled." He had his kingdom searched till he found eleven maidens of the same height, size, and appearance as his daughter.
Then the princess desired twelve complete huntsmen's suits to be made, all exactly alike, and the eleven maidens had to dress themselves in eleven of the suits, while she herself put on the twelfth. After this she took leave of her father and rode off with her girls to the court of her former lover.
Here she inquired whether the king did not want some huntsmen and if he would not take them all into his service. The king saw her but did not recognize her, and as he thought them very good-looking young people he said: "Yes, I will gladly engage you all." So they became the twelve royal huntsmen.
Now, the king had a most remarkable lion, for it knew every hidden or secret thing.
One evening the lion said to the king: "So you think you have got twelve huntsmen, do you?"
"Yes, certainly," said the king, "they are twelve huntsmen."
"There you are mistaken," said the lion. "They are twelve maidens."
"That cannot possibly be," replied the king. "How do you mean to prove that?"
"Just have a number of peas strewn over the floor of your antechamber," said the lion, "and you will soon see. Men have a strong, firm tread, so that if they happen to walk over peas not one will stir, but girls trip, and slip, and slide, so that the peas roll all about."
The king was pleased with the lion's advice and ordered the peas to be strewn in his anteroom.
Fortunately one of the king's servants had become very partial to the young huntsmen, and hearing of the trial they were to be put to he went to them and said : "The lion wants to persuade the king that you are only girls." And then he told them all the plot.
The king's daughter thanked him for the hint, and after he was gone she said to her maidens: "Now make every effort to tread firmly on the peas."
Next morning, when the king sent for his twelve huntsmen and they passed through the anteroom, which was plentifully strewn with peas, thev trod so firmly and