10 DONKEY SKIN
she threw herself on her knees beside her son's bed, and implored him to confide his trouble to her. If it was ambition to be king, his father would gladly resign the cares of the crown, and suffer him to reign in his stead; or, if it was love, everything should be sacrificed to get for him the wife he desired, even if she were daughter of a king with whom the country was at war at present!
' Madam,' replied the prince, whose weakness would hardly allow him to speak, ' do not think me so unnatural as to wish to deprive my father o\' his crown. As long as he lives I shall remain the most faithful of his subjects! And as to the princesses you speak of, I have seen none that I should care for as a wife, though I would always obey your wishes, whatever it might cost me.'
' All! my son,' cried she, 'we will do anything in the world to save your life — and ours too, for if you die, we shall die also.'
k Well, then,' replied the prince, ' I will tell you the only thing that will cure me — a cake made by the hand of :' Donkey Skin." '
'Donkey Skin?' exclaimed the queen, who thought her son had gone mad; ' and who or what is that?'
' Madam,' answered one of the attendants present, who had been with the prince at the farm, '" Donkey Skin " is, next to the wolf, the most disgusting creature on the face of the earth. She is a girl who wears a black, greasy skin, and lives at your farmer's as hen-wife.'
'Never mind,' said the queen ; c my son seems to have eaten some of her pastry. It is the whim of a sick man, no doubt; but send at once and let her bake a cake.'
The attendant bowed and ordered a page to ride with the message.
Now it is by no means certain that 'Donkey Skin' had not caught a glimpse of the prince, either when his eyes looked through the keyhole, or else from her little window, which was over the road. But whether she had actually seen him or only heard him spoken of, directly she