268 THE ENCHANTED CANARY
* What are you doing there, you lovely creature ? ' she said to Zizi.
' I am waiting for my lover,' Zizi replied; and then, with a simplicity quite natural in a girl who so lately had been a canary, she told all her story.
The gypsy had often seen the young Prince pass by, with his gun on his shoulder, when he was going after crows. She was too ugly and ragged for him ever to have noticed her, but Titty on her side had admired him, though she thought he might well have been a little fatter.
' Dear, dear! ' she said to herself. ' So he likes yellow women ! Why, I am yellow too, and if I could only think of a way-----'
It was not long before she did think of it.
' What!' cried the sly Titty,' they are coming with great pomp to fetch you, and you are not afraid to show yourself to so many fine lords and ladies with your hair down like that ? Get down at once, my poor child, and let me dress your hair for you !'
The innocent Zizi came down at once, and stood by Titty. The gypsy began to comb her long brown locks, when suddenly she drew a pin from her stays, and, just as the titmouse digs its beak into the heads of Unnets and larks, Titty dug the pin into the head of Zizi.
No sooner did Zizi feel the prick of the pin than she became a bird again, and, spreading her wings, she flew away.
' That was neatly done,' said the gypsy. ' The Prince will be clever if he finds his bride.' And, arranging her dress, she seated herself on the grass to await Desire.
Meanwhile the Prince was coming as fast as his horse could carry him. He was so impatient that he was always full fifty yards in front of the lords and ladies sent by Tubby to bring back Zizi.
At the sight of the hideous gypsy he was struck dumb with surprise and horror.
' Ah me!' said Titty, ' so you don't know your poor Zizi ? While you were away the wicked witch came, and turned me into this. But if you only have the courage to marry me I shall get back my beauty.' And she began to cry bitterly.
Now the good-natured Desire was as soft-hearted as he was brave.