THE ENCHANTED CANARY
foot of the great marble staircase. At the sight of the hideous creature he almost fell backwards.
' What! ' he cried. ' Is this the wonderful beauty ? '
' Yes, father, it is she,' replied Desire with a sheepish look. ' But she has been bewitched by a wicked sorceress, and will not regain her beauty until she is my wife.'
' Does she say so ? Well, if you believe that, you may drink cold water and think it bacon,' the unhappy Tubby answered crossly.
But all the same, as he adored his son, he gave the gypsy his hand and led her to the great hall, where the bridal feast was spread.
The feast was excellent, but Desire hardly touched anything. However, to make up, the other guests ate greedily, and, as for Tubby, nothing ever took away his appetite.
When the moment arrived to serve the roast goose, there was a pause, and Tubby took the opportunity to lay down his knife and fork for a little. But as the goose gave no sign of appearing, he sent his head carver to find out what was the matter in the kitchen.
Now this was what had happened.
While the goose was turning on the spit, a beautiful little canary hopped on to the sill of the open window.
' Good-morning, my fine cook,' she said in a silvery voice to the man who was watching the roast.
' Good-morning, lovely golden bird,' replied the chief of the scullions, who had been well brought up.
' I pray that Heaven may send you to sleep,' said the golden bird, '■ and that the goose may burn, so that there may be none left for Titty.'
And instantly the chief of the scullions fell fast asleep, and the goose was burnt to a cinder.
When he awoke he was horrified, and gave orders to pluck another goose, to stuff it with chestnuts, and put it on the spit.
While it was browning at the fire, Tubby inquired for his goose a second time. The Master Cook himself mounted to the hall to make his excuses, and to beg his lord to have a little patience. Tubby showed his patience by abusing his son.
' As if it wasn't enough,' he grumbled between his teeth,' that the boy should pick up a hag without a penny, but the goose must go and burn now. It isn't a wife he has brought me, it is Famine herself.'