THE WHITE DOE 217
clean and comfortable that it made you sleepy even to look at them.
The door had hardly closed behind the old woman when the sun sank below the horizon, and De'sire'e became a girl again.
'Oh, Eglantine! what should I have done if you had not followed me,' she cried. And she flung herself into her friend's arms in a transport of delight.
Early in the morning Eglantine was awakened by the sound of someone scratching at the door, and on opening her eyes she saw the white doe struggling to get out. The little creature looked up and into her face, and nodded her head as the maid of honour unfastened the latch, but bounded away into the woods, and was lost to sight in a moment.
Meanwhile, the prince and Becasigue were wandering through the wood, till at last the prince grew so tired, that he lay down under a tree, and told Becasigue that he had better go in search of food, and of some place where they could sleep. Becasigue had not gone very far, when a turn of the path brought him face to face with the old woman, who was feeding her doves before her cottage.
'Could you give me some milk and fruit?' asked he. 'I am very hungry myself, and, besides, I have left a friend behind me who is still weak from illness.'
'Certainly I can,' answered the old woman. 'But come and sit down in my kitchen while I catch the goat and milk it.'
Becasigue was glad enough to do as he was bid, and in a few minutes the old woman returned with a basket brimming over with oranges and grapes.
'If your friend has been ill he should not pass the night in the forest,' said she. 'I have a room in my hut — tiny enough, it is true; but better than nothing, and to that you are both heartily welcome.'