2 THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES
The next day at the same hour he went to sleep again under the same tree. The lady appeared to him a second time, and said : ' Go to the castle of Belceil, and you shall marry a princess.'
In the evening Michael told his friends that he had dreamed the same dream again, bin they only laughed at him more than before. ' Never mind,' he thought to himself; ' if the lady appears to ine a third time, I will do as she tells me.'
The following day, to the great astonishment of all the village, about two o'clock in the afternoon a voice was heard singing:
' Raleo, raleo,
How the cattle go ! '
It was the little cow-boy driving his herd back to the byre.
The farmer began to scold him furiously, but he answered quietly, ' I am going away,' made his clothes into a bundle, said good-bye to all his friends, and boldly set out to seek his fortunes.
There was great excitement through all the village, and on the top of the hill the people stood holding their sides with laughing, as they watched the Star Gazer trudging bravely along the valley with his bundle at the end of his stick.
It was enough to make anyone laugh, certainly.
It was well known for full twenty miles round that there lived in the castle of Belceil twelve princesses of wonderful beauty, and as proud as they were beautiful, and who were besides so very sensitive and of such truly royal blood, that they would have felt at once the presence of a pea in their beds, even if the mattresses had been laid over it.
It was whispered about that they led exactly the lives that princesses ought to lead, sleeping far into the morning, and never getting up till mid-day. They had twelve beds all in the same room, but what was very extraordinary was the fact that though they were locked in by triple bolts, every morning their satin shoes were found worn into holes.
"When they were asked what they had been doing all night, they always answered that they had been asleep; and, indeed, no noise was ever heard in the room, yet the shoes could not wear themselves out alone!
At last the Duke of Beloeil ordered the trumpet to be sounded,