THE WHITE DOE
escaped him the previous day. But in an instant the animal was aroused to a sense of her danger, and she fled with all her strength into the thickest part of the forest. Quick as lightning the prince was on her track, but this time it was with no wish to kill or even wound the beautiful creature.
'Pretty doe! pretty doe! stop! I won't hurt you,' cried he, but his words were carried away by the wind.
At length the doe could run no more, and when the prince reached her, she was lying stretched out on the grass, waiting for her death blow. But instead the prince knelt at her side, and stroked her, and bade her fear nothing, as he would take care of her. So he fetched a little water from the stream in his horn hunting cup, then, cutting some branches from the trees, he twisted them into a litter which he covered with moss, and laid the white doe gently on it.
For a long time they remained thus, but when De'siree saw by the way that the light struck the trees, that the sun must be near its setting, she was filled with alarm lest the darkness should fall, and the prince should behold her in her human shape.
'No, he must not see me for the first time here,' she thought, and instantly began to plan how to get rid of him. Then she opened her mouth and let her tongue hang out, as if she were dying of thirst, and the prince, as she expected, hastened to the stream to get her some more water.
When he returned, the white doe was gone.
That night Desiree confessed to Eglantine that her pursuer was no other than the prince, and that far from flattering him, the portrait had never done him justice.
'Is it not hard to meet him in this shape,' wept she, 'when we both love each other so much?' But Eglantine comforted her, and reminded her that in a short time all would be well.
The prince was very angry at the flight of the white