Page:Tales of old Lusitania.djvu/67

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55
THE HORSE'S SKIN.

woman to draw water and carry the pitchers to the palace; and from the odd garments she wore every one in the palace called her "Horse-skin."

One day as she entered the palace yard, carrying a pitcher of water poised on her head in a light and graceful manner, which showed off her elegant figure, a page, who had often noticed her beauty, and secretly suspected that the girl was not born to do this drudgery, and that there was some mystery about her, accosted her very respectfully, and said: "Do you know that our good king is going to give balls for three nights running, so that he may choose himself a wife from among the dancers? The prettiest girl is to carry off the prize, and the king, as a mark of his choice, is to give her a ring—and what a ring that will be! I wish you could manage to go."

"What have I to do with balls, a poor girl like me? It is all very well for princesses and fine people. I shall turn in at my old woman's to-night, as usual."

When the princess had done her work she went home, and that evening being the first night of the balls at the palace, she dressed herself in her eldest sister's clothes, and went to the ball. When she entered the ball-rooms, which were brilliantly lighted up, all eyes were turned upon her, and before the end of the dance she was pronounced by all present as most beautiful. The king was not long in discovering her charms, and caused great jealousy among the