THE GREEN KNIGHT 153
with joy at the thought of having her friends so near her. The lady and her daughter arrived, and for a long time all went well. They were very kind to the motherless princess, and she almost began to forget how dull she had been before they came. Then, one day, as she and the other girl were playing together in the gardens of the palace, the lady came to them, dressed for a journey, and kissed the princess tenderly, saying:
' Farewell, my child ; my daughter and I must leave you and go far away.'
The poor princess began to cry bitterly. ' Oh ! you must not leave me ! ' she sobbed. ' What shall I do without you ? Please, oh ! please stay.'
The lady shook her head.
' It almost breaks my heart to go, dear child,' she said, ' but, alas ! it must be.'
' Is there nothing that can keep you here ?' asked the princess.
' Only one thing,' answered the lady, ' and as that is impossible, we will not speak of it.'
' Nothing is impossible,' persisted the princess. ' Tell me what it is, and it shall be done.'
So at last her friend told her.
' If the king, your father, would make me his queen I would stay,' she said ; ' but that he would never do.'
' Oh, yes ! that is easy enough !' cried the princess, delighted to think that, after all, they need not be parted. And she ran off to find her father, and beg him to marry the lady at once. He had done everything she asked, and she was quite certain he would do it.
' What is it, my daughter ? ' he asked, when he saw her. ' You have been crying—are you not happy ? '
' Father,' she said, ' I have come to ask you to marry the countess'—(for that was the lady's real title)—' if you do not she will leave us, and then I shall be as lonely as before. You have never refused me what I have asked before, do not refuse me now.'