142 THE QUEEN OF THE FLOWERY ISLES
admit that she had never beheld anyone so exquisitely lovely.
Of course she thought in her own mind ' excepting myself! ' for nothing could have made her believe it possible that anyone could eclipse her.
But the outspoken admiration of the entire court soon undeceived her, and made her so angry that she pretended illness and retired to her own rooms, so as to avoid witnessing the princess's triumph. She also sent word to the Queen of the Flowery Isles that she was sorry not to be well enough to see her again, and advised her to return to her own states with the princess, her daughter.
This message was entrusted to one of the great ladies of the court, who was an old friend of the Queen of the Flowery Isles, and who advised her not to wait to take a formal leave but to go home as fast as she could
The Queen was not slow to take the hint, and lost no time in obeying it. Being well aware of the magic powers of the incensed queen, she warned her daughter that she was threatened by some great danger if she left the palace for any reason whatever during the next six months.
The princess promised obedience, and no pains were spared to make the time pass pleasantly for her.
The six months were nearly at an end, and on the very last day a splendid fete was to take place in a lovely meadow quite near the palace. The princess, who had been able to watch all the preparations from her window, implored her mother to let her go as far as the meadow ; and the queen, thinking all risks must be over, consented, and promised to take her there herself.
The whole court was delighted to see their much-loved princess at liberty, and everyone set off in high glee to join in the fete.
The princess, overjoyed at being once more in the open air, was walking a little in advance of her party