256 THE FROG AND THE LION FAIRY
bassadors who had conducted the bride to court, and one of them inquired indignantly if he meant to put such an insult on the princess on the word of a mere frog.
'I am not a "mere frog," and I will give you proof of it,' retorted the angry little creature. And putting on her cap, she cried: 'Fairies that are my friends, come hither!' And in a moment a crowd of beautiful creatures, each one with a crown on her head, stood before her. Certainly none could have guessed that they were the snails, water-rats, and grasshoppers, from which she had chosen her retinue.
At a sign from the frog the fairies danced a ballet, with which everyone was so delighted that they begged to have it repeated; but now it was not youths and maidens who were dancing, but flowers. Then these again melted into fountains, whose waters interlaced and, rushing down the sides of the hall, poured out in a cascade down the steps, and formed a river round the castle, with the most beautiful little boats upon it, all painted and gilded.
'Oh, let us go in them for a sail!' cried the princess, who had long ago left her game of ball for a sight of these marvels; and, as she was bent upon it, the ambassadors, who had been charged never to lose sight of her, were obliged to go also, though they never entered a boat if they could help it.
But the moment they and the princess had seated themselves on the soft cushions, river and boats vanished, and the princess and the ambassadors vanished too. Instead, the snails and grasshoppers and water-rats stood round the frog in their natural shapes.
'Perhaps,' said she, 'your Majesty may now be convinced that I am a fairy and speak the truth. Therefore lose no time in setting in order the affairs of your kingdom and go in search of your wife. Here is a ring that will admit you into the presence of the queen, and will likewise allow you to address unharmed the Lion Fairy,