he came to a great desert, where he saw a cavern—and to his delight there sat Celia, sharing the simple breakfast of an old hermit.
Over-joyed to have found her, Prince Darling perched upon her shoulder, trying to express by his caresses how glad he was to see her again, and Celia, surprised and delighted by the tameness of this pretty white dove, stroked it softly, and said, though she never thought of its understanding her :
' I accept the gift that you make me of yourself—and I will love you always.'
' Take care what you are saying, Celia,' said the old hermit; ' are you prepared to keep that promise ? '
' Indeed I hope so, my sweet shepherdess,' cried the Prince, who was at that moment restored to his natural shape. ' You promised to love me always; tell me that you really mean what you said, or I shall have to ask the Fairy to give me back the form of the dove which pleased you so much.'
' You need not be afraid that she will change her mind,' said the Fairy, throwing off the hermit's robe in which she had been disguised, and appearing before them.
' Celia has loved you ever since she first saw you, only she would not tell you while you were so obstinate and naughty. Now you have repented and mean to be good you deserve to be happy, and so she may love you as much as she likes.'
Celia and Prince Darling threw themselves at the Fairy's feet, and the Prince was never tired of thanking her for her kindness. Celia was delighted to hear how sorry he was for all his past follies and misdeeds, and promised to love him as long as she lived.
' Rise, my children,' said the Fairy, ' and I will transport you to the palace, and Prince Darling shall have back again the crown he forfeited by his bad behaviour.'
While she was speaking they found themselves in Suliman's hall, and his delight was great at seeing his dear master once more. He gave up the throne joyfully to the Prince, and remained always the most faithful of his subjects.
Celia and Prince Darling reigned for many years, but he was so determined to govern worthily and to do his duty that his ring, which he took to wearing again, never once pricked him severely.1
1 Cabinet des Fees.