THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES 11
to dance with the little Princess. She found him the best partner in the world, but he did not dare to speak a single word to her.
When he was taking her back to her place she said to hirn in a mocking voice:
' Here you are at the summit of your wishes : you are being treated like a prince.'
' Don't be afraid,' replied the Star Gazer gently. ' You shall never be a gardener's wife.'
The little Princess stared at him with a frightened face, and he left her without waiting for an answer.
"When the satin slippers were worn through the fiddles stopped, and the negro boys set the table. Michael was placed next to the eldest sister, and opposite to the youngest.
They gave him the most exquisite dishes to eat, and the most delicate wines to drink ; and in order to turn his head more completely, compliments and flattery were heaped on him from every side.
But he took care not to be intoxicated, either by the wine or the compliments.
At last the eldest sister made a sign, and one of the black pages brought in a large golden cup.
' The enchanted castle has no more secrets for you,' she said to the Star Gazer. ' Let us drink to your triumph.'
He cast a lingering glance at the little Princess, and without hesitation lifted the cup.
' Don't drink !' suddenly cried out the little Princess ; ' I would rather marry a gardener.'
And she burst into tears.
Michael flung the contents of the cup behind him, sprang over the table, and fell at Lina's feet. The rest of the princes fell likewise at the knees of the princesses, each of whom chose a husband and raised him to her side. The charm was broken.
The twelve couples embarked in the boats, which crossed back many times in order to carry over the other princes. Then they all went through the three woods, and when they had passed the door of the underground passage a great noise was heard, as if the enchanted castle was crumbling to the earth.
They went straight to the room of the Duke of Belceil, who had