172 CATHERINE AND HER DESTINY
'Take care of it,' replied her mistress. ' Who can tell how useful it may be ? '
A little while after this grand preparations were made for the king's marriage, and all the tailors in the town were busy embroidering fine clothes. The wedding garment was so beautiful nothing like it had ever been seen before, but when it was almost finished the tailor found that he had no more silk. The colour was very rare, and none could be found like it, and the king made a proclamation that if anyone happened to possess any they should bring it to the court, and he would give them a large sum.
' Catherine!' exclaimed the lady, who had been to the tailors and seen the wedding garment, ' your ball of silk is exactly the right colour. Bring it to the king, and you can ask what you like for it.'
Then Catherine put on her best clothes and went to the court, and looked more beautiful than any woman there.
' May it please your majesty,' she said, ' I have brought you a ball of silk of the colour you asked for, as no one else has any in the town.'
' Your majesty,' asked one of the courtiers, ' shall I give the maiden its weight in gold?'
The king agreed, and a pair of scales were brought; and a handful of gold was placed in one scale and the silken ball in the other. But lo! let the king lay in the scales as many gold pieces as he would, the silk was always heavier still. Then the king took some larger scales, and heaped up all his treasures on the one side, but the silk on the other outweighed them all. At last there was only one thing left that had not been put in, and that was his golden crown. And he took it from his head and set it on top of all, and at last the scale moved and the ball had found its balance.
' AVhere got you this silk?' asked the king.
' It was given me, royal majesty, by my mistress,' replied Catherine.