Page:Fairy tales and other stories (Andersen, Craigie).djvu/210

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198
THE SWINEHERD

the maid of honour who had gone down to make the inquiry.

'I think he must be mad!' exclaimed the Princess; and she went away; but when she had gone a little distance she stood still. 'One must encourage art,' she observed. 'I am the Emperor's daughter! Tell him he shall receive ten kisses, like last time, and he may take the rest from my maids of honour.'

'Ah, but we don't like to do it!' said the maids of honour.

'That's all nonsense!' retorted the Princess, 'and if I can allow myself to be kissed, you can too: remember, I give you board and wages.'

And so the maids of honour had to go down to him again.

'A hundred kisses from the Princess,' said he, 'or each shall keep his own.'

'Stand round me,' said she then; and all the maids of honour stood round her while he kissed the Princess.

'What is that crowd down by the pig-sty?' asked the Emperor, who had stepped out to the balcony. He rubbed his eyes, and put on his spectacles. 'Why, those are the maids of honour, at their tricks, yonder; I shall have to go down to them.'

And he pulled up his slippers behind, for they were shoes that he had trodden down at heel. Gracious mercy, how he hurried! So soon as he came down in the courtyard, he went quite softly, and the maids of honour were too busy counting the kisses, and seeing fair play, to notice the Emperor. Then he stood on tiptoe.

'What's that?' said he, when he saw that there was kissing going on; and he hit them on the head with his slipper, just as the swineherd was taking the eighty-sixth kiss.

'Be off!' said the Emperor, for he was angry.

And the Princess and the swineherd were both expelled from his dominions. So there she stood and cried, the rain streamed down, and the swineherd scolded.

'Oh, miserable wretch that I am!' said the Princess; 'if I had only taken the handsome Prince! Oh, how unhappy I am!'

Then the swineherd went behind a tree, washed the stains from his face, threw away the shabby clothes, and