THE WHITE SLIPPER
Once upon a time there lived a king who had a daughter just fifteen years old. And what a daughter!
Even the mothers who had daughters of their own could not help allowing that the princess was much more beautiful and graceful than any of them; and as for the fathers, if one of them ever beheld her by accident he could talk of nothing else for a whole day afterwards.
Of course the king, whose name was Balancin, was the complete slave of his little girl from the moment he lifted her from the arms of her dead mother; indeed, he did not seem to know that there was anyone else in the world to love.
Now Diamantina, for that was her name, did not reach her fifteenth birthday without proposals of marriage from every country under heaven; but be the suitor who he might, the king always said him nay.
Behind the palace a large garden stretched away to the foot of some hills, and more than one river flowed through. Hither the princess would come each evening towards sunset, attended by her ladies, and gather herself the flowers that were to adorn her rooms. She also brought with her a pair of scissors to cut off the dead blooms, and a basket to put them in, so that when the sun rose next morning he might see nothing unsightly. When she had finished this task she would take a walk through the town, so that the poor people might have a chance of speaking with her, and telling her of their troubles; and then she