THE PRINCESS MAYBLOSSOM
enter the town on your beautiful prancing horse, I have been sorry that you came to speak for another instead of for yourself. So, if you think about it as I do, I will marry you instead of your master. Of course I know you are not a prince, but I shall be just as fond of you as if you were, and we can go and live in some cosy little corner of the world, and be as happy as the days are long.'
The Ambassador thought he must be dreaming, and could hardly believe what the lovely Princess said. He dared not answer, but only squeezed the Princess's hand until he really hurt her little finger, but she did not cry out. When they reached the palace the King kissed his daughter on both cheeks, and said :
' My little lambkin, are you willing to marry the great King Merlin's son, for this Ambassador has come on his behalf to fetch you ? '
' If you please, sire,' said the Princess, dropping a curtsey.
' I consent also,' said the Queen; ' so let the banquet be prepared.'
This was done with all speed, and everybody feasted except Mayblossom and Fanfaronade, who looked at one another and forgot everything else.
After the banquet came a ball, and after that again a ballet, and at last they were ail so tired that everyone fell asleep just where he sat. Only the lovers were as wide-awake as mice, and the Princess, seeing that there was nothing to fear, said to Fanfaronade :
' Let us be quick and run away, for we shall never have a better chance than this.'
Then she took the King's dagger, which was in a diamond sheath, and the Queen's neck-handkerchief, and gave her hand to Fanfaronade, who carried a lantern, and they ran out together into the muddy street and down to the sea-shore. Here they got into a little boat in which the poor old boatman was sleeping, and when he woke up and saw the lovely Princess, with all her diamonds and her spiders'-web scarf, he did not know what to think, and obeyed her instantly when she commanded him to set out. They could see neither moon nor stars, but in the Queen's neck-handkerchief there was a carbuncle which glowed like fifty torches. Fanfaronade asked the Princess where she would like to go, but she only answei'ed that she did not care where she went as long as he was with her.
' But, Princess,' said he, ' I dare not take you back to King Merlin's court. He would think hanging too good for me.'