GRACIOSA AND PERCINET
how, if she would but marry him, all the fairy palace would be hers, and his one thought would be to please her. But, in spite of everything he could say, the Princess was quite determined to go back, though he at last persuaded her to stay eight days, which were go full of pleasure and amusement that they passed like a few hours. On the last day, Graciosa, who had often felt anxious to know what was going on in her father's palace, said to Percinet that she was sure that he could find out for her, if he would, what reason the Queen had given her father for her sudden disappearance. Percinet at first offered to send his courier to find out, but the Princess said:
' Oh ! isn't there a quicker way of knowing than that ? '
' Very well,' said Percinet, ' you shall see for yourself.'
So up they went together to the top of a very high tower, which, like the rest of the castle, was built entirely of rock-crystal.
There the Prince held Graciosa's hand in his, and made her put the tip of her little finger into her mouth, and look towards the town, and immediately she saw the wicked Queen go to the King, and heard her say to him, ' That miserable Princess is dead, and no great loss either. I have ordered that she shall be buried at once.'
And then the Princess saw how she dressed up a log of wood and had it buried, and how the old King cried, and all the people murmured that the Queen had killed Graciosa with her cruelties, and that she ought to have her head cut off. When the Princess saw that the King was so sorry for her pretended death that he could neither eat nor drink, she cried :
' Ah, Percinet! take me back quickly if you love me.'
And so, though he did not want to at all, he was obliged to promise that he would let her go.
' You may not regret me, Princess,' he said sadly, ' for I fear that you do not love me well enough ; but I foresee that you will more than once regret that you left this fairy palace where we have been so happy.'
But, in spite of all he could say, she bade farewell to the Queen, his mother, and prepared to set out; so Percinet, very unwillingly, brought the little sledge with the stags and she mounted beside him. But they had hardly gone twenty yards when a tremendous noise behind her made Graciosa look back, and she saw the palace of crystal fly into a million splinters, like the spray of a fountain, and vanish.
' Oh, Percinet! ' she cried, ' what has happened ? The palace is gone.'