GRACIOSA AND PEBCTNET
itself smoothly off in the most surprising manner, and the Prince, turning to Graciosa, asked if there was nothing else that she wished him to do for her, and if the time would never come when she would wish for him for his own sake.
' Don't be vexed with me, Percinet,' she said. ' I am unhappy enough without that.'
' But why should you be unhappy, my Princess ? ' cried he. ' Only come with me and we shall be as happy as the dayislong together.'
' But suppose you get tired of me ? ' said Graciosa.
The Prince was so grieved at this want of confidence that he left her without another word.
The wicked Queen was in such a hurry to punish Graciosa that she thought the sun would never set; and indeed it was before the appointed time that she came with her four Fairies, and as she fitted the three keys into the locks she said:
' I'll venture to say that the idle minx has not done anything at all—she prefers to sit with her hands before her to keep them white.'
But, as soon as she entered, Graciosa presented her with the ball of thread in perfect order, so that she had no fault to find, and could only pretend to discover that it was soiled, for which imaginary fault she gave Graciosa a blow on each cheek, that made her white and pink skin turn green and jTellow. And then she sent her back to be locked into the garret once more.
Then the Queen sent for the Fairy again and scolded her furiously. ' Don't make such a mistake again ; find me something that it will be quite impossible for her to do, she said.
So the next day the Fairy appeared with a huge barrel full of the feathers of all sorts of birds. There were nightingales, canaries, goldfinches, linnets, tomtits, parrots, owls, sparrows, doves, ostriches, bustards, peacocks, larks, partridges, and everything else that you can think of. These feathers were all mixed tip in such confusion that the birds themselves could not have chosen out their own. ' Here,' said the Fairy, ' is a little task which it will take all your prisoner's skill and patience to accomplish. Tell her to pick out and lay in a separate heap the feathers of each bird. She would need to be a fairy to do it.'
The Queen was more than delighted at the thought of the despair this task would cause the Princess. She sent for her, and with the same threats as before locked her up with the three keys, ordering that all the feathers should be sorted by sunset. Graciosa