254 THE FAIR CIRCASSIANS
slept but little — we had grown partly accustomed to our strange situation, and when we looked in the mirror, the prince had become brown-skinned and black-haired, while my head was covered with his curly golden locks. And after that first day, every one in the palace had become so accustomed to the change that they thought no more about it.
; Some weeks after this, we heard that the king of the Isle of Black Marble was dead. The prince's head, which once was mine, was full of ambitious desires, and he longed to ride straight to the capital and proclaim himself king. But then came the question as to whether the nobles would recognise the prince with a girl's body, and indeed, when we came to think of it, which was prince and which was girl ?
' At last, after much argument, my head carried the day and we set out; but only to find that the king had declared the Princess Okimpare his successor. The greater part of the senators and nobles openly professed that they would much have preferred the rightful heir, but as they could not recognise him either in the Prince or me, they chose to consider us as impostors and threw us into prison.
' A few days later Tezila and Thelamis, who had followed us to the capital, came to tell us that the new queen had accused us of high treason, and had herself been present at our trial — which was conducted without us. They had been in mortal terror as to what would be our sentence, but by a piece of extraordinary luck we had been condemned to be beheaded.
' I told my sister that I did not see exactly where the luck came in, but Thelamis interrupted me rudely :
' "What! " he cried, " of course I shall make use of the
pastilles, and-----"but here the officers arrived to lead
us to the great square where the execution was to take place — for Okimpare was determined there should be no delay.