Page:The Red Fairy Book.djvu/43
THE PRINCESS MAYBLOSSOM
'Here is a pitcher of milk; drink some, for you must be thirsty, I am sure; but pray save a little for me, as I am dying of hunger and thirst.'
But he seized the pitcher and drank all it contained at a single draught, and then broke it to atoms on the nearest stone, saying, with a malicious smile: 'As you have not eaten anything you cannot be thirsty.'
'Ah!' cried the Princess, 'I am well punished for disappointing the King and Queen, and running away with this Ambassador, about whom I knew nothing.'
And so saying she wandered away into the thickest part of the wood, and sat down under a thorn tree, where a nightingale was singing. Presently she heard him say: 'Search under the bush, Princess; you will find some sugar, almonds, and some tarts there. But don't be silly enough to offer Fanfaronade any.' And this time the Princess, who was fainting with hunger, took the nightingale's advice, and ate what she found all by herself. But Fanfaronade, seeing that she had found something good, and was not going to share it with him, ran after her in such a fury that she hastily drew out the Queen's carbuncle, which had the property of rendering people invisible if they were in danger, and when she was safely hidden from him she reproached him gently for his unkindness.
Meanwhile Admiral Cocked-Hat had despatched Jack-the-Chatterer-of-the-Straw-Boots, Courier in Ordinary to the Prime Minister, to tell the King that the Princess and the Ambassador had landed on Squirrel Island, but that not knowing the country he had not pursued them, for fear of being captured by concealed enemies. Their Majesties were overjoyed at the news, and the King sent for a great book, each leaf of which was eight ells long. It was the work of a very clever Fairy, and contained a description of the whole earth. He very soon found that Squirrel Island was uninhabited.
'Go,' said he, to Jack-the-Chatterer, 'tell the Admiral from me to land at once. I am surprised at his not having done so sooner.' As soon as this message reached the fleet, every preparation was made for war, and the noise was so great that it reached the ears of the Princess, who at once flew to protect her lover. As he was not very brave he accepted her aid gladly.
'You stand behind me,' said she, 'and I will hold the carbuncle which will make us invisible, and with the King's dagger I can