GRACIOSA AND PERCINET 173
At last, weary and terrified, she sat down and cried.
' It is my own fault,' she said sadly. ' Percinet, if you can still care for such an imprudent Princess, do come and help me once more.'
Irmxiediately Percinet stood before her.
' All, Princess ! ' he said, ' but for the wicked Queen I fear you would never think of me at all.'
' Indeed I should,' said Graciosa; ' I am not so ungrateful as you think. Only wait a little and I believe I shall love you quite dearly.'
Percinet was pleased at this, and with one stroke of his wand compelled all the wilful little people to come back to their places in the box, and then rendering the Princess invisible he took her with him in his chariot to the castle.
"When the Princess presented herself at the door, and said that the Queen had ordered her to place the box in her own room, the governor laughed heartily at the idea.
' No, no, my little shepherdess,' said he, ' that is not the place for you. No wooden shoes have ever been over that floor yet.'
Then Graciosa begged him to give her a written message telling the Queen that he had refused to admit her. This he did, and she went back to Percinet, who was waiting for her, and they set out together for the palace. You may imagine that they did not go the shortest way, but the Princess did not find it too long, and before they parted she had promised that if the Queen was still cruel to her, and tried again to play her any spiteful trick, she would leave her and come to Percinet for ever.
"When the Queen saw her returning she fell upon the Fairy, whom she had kept with her, and pulled her hair, and scratched her face, and would really have killed her if a Fairy could be killed. And when the Princess presented the letter and the box she threw them both upon the fire without opening them, and looked very much as if she would like to throw the Princess after them. However, what she really did do was to have a great hole as deep as a well dug in her garden, and the top of it covered with a flat stone. Then she went and walked near it, and said to Graciosa and all her ladies who were with her:
' I am told that a great treasure lies under that stone; let us see if we can lift it.'
So they all began to push and pull at it, and Graciosa among the others, which was just what the Queen wanted; for as soon a<*