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 Once upon a time there lived a King and Queen who had two handsome boys; so well-fed and were they, that they grew like the day.  
Whenever the Queen had a child, she sent for the fairies, that she might learn from them what would be its future lot. After a while she had a little daughter, who was so beautiful, that no one could see her without loving her. The fairies came as usual, and the Queen having feasted them, said to them as they were going away, "Do not forget that good custom of yours, but tell me what will happen to Rosette"—for this was the name of the little Princess. The fairies answered her that they had left their divining-books at home, and that they would come again to see her. "Ah!" said the Queen, "that no good, I fear; you do not wish to me by evil; but, I pray you, let me know the worst, and hide nothing from me." The fairies continued to make excuses, but the Queen only became more anxious to know the truth. At last the chief among them said to her, "We fear, madam, that Rosette will be the cause of a great misfortune befalling her brothers; that they may even lose their lives on her account. This is all that we can tell you of the fate of this sweet little Princess, and we are grieved to have nothing better to say about her." The fairies took their departure, and the Queen was very sorrowful, so sorrowful that the King saw by her face that she was in trouble. He asked her what was the matter. She told him she had gone too near the fire and accidentally burnt all the flax that was on her distaff. "Is that all?" replied the King, and he went up to his store-room and brought her down more flax than she could spin in a hundred years.
But the Queen was still very sorrowful, and the King again asked her what was the matter. She told him that she had been down to the river and had let one of her green satin fall into the water. "Is that all?" replied the King, and he sent for all the shoemakers in the kingdom, and made the Queen a present of ten thousand green satin slippers.
Still the Queen was no less sorrowful; the King asked her once more what was the matter. She told him that, being hungry, she had eaten hastily, and had swallowed her wedding-ring. The King knew that she was not speaking the truth, for he had himself put away the ring, and he replied, "My dear wife, you are not speaking the truth; here is your ring, which I have kept in my purse." The Queen was put out of at being caught telling a lie—for there is nothing in the world so ugly—and she saw that the King was , so she told him what the fairies had predicted about little Rosette, and begged him to tell her if he could think of any remedy. The King was greatly troubled, so much so, that at last he said to the Queen, "I see no way of saving our two boys, except by putting the little girl to death, while she is still in her swaddling clothes." But the Queen cried that she would rather suffer death herself, that she would never consent to so cruel a deed, and that the King must try and think of some other remedy. The King and Queen could think of nothing else, and while thus pondering over the matter, the Queen was told that in a large wood near the town, there lived an old , who made his home in the trunk of a tree, whom people went from far and near to consult.
"It is to him I must go," said the Queen; "the fairies told me the evil, but they forgot to tell me the remedy."
She started early in the morning, mounted on her little white , that was shod with gold, and accompanied by two of her maids of honour, who each rode a pretty horse. When they were near the wood they dismounted out of respect, and made their way to the tree where the hermit lived. He did not much care for the visits of women, but when he saw that it was the Queen approaching, he said, "Welcome! what would you ask of me?" She related to him what the fairies had said about Rosette, and asked him to advise her what to do. He told her that the Princess must be shut up in a tower, and not be allowed to leave it as long as she lived. The Queen thanked him, and returned and told everything to the King. The King immediately gave orders for a large tower to be built as quickly as possible. In it he placed his daughter, but that she might not feel lonely and , he, and the Queen, and her two brothers, went to see her every day. The elder of these was called the big Prince, and the younger, the little Prince. They loved their sister , for she was the most beautiful and Princess ever seen, and the least glance of hers was worth more than a hundred gold pieces. When she was fifteen years old, the big Prince said to the King, "Father, my sister is old enough to be married; shall we not soon have a wedding?" The little Prince said the same to the Queen, but their laughed and changed the subject, and made no answer about the marriage.
Now, it happened that the King and Queen both fell very ill, and died within a few days of one another. There was great mourning; everyone wore black, and all the bells were . Rosette was inconsolable at the loss of her good mother.
As soon as the funeral was over, the dukes and marquises of the kingdom placed the big Prince on a throne made of gold and diamonds; he wore a splendid crown on his head, and robes of violet with suns and moons. Then the whole Court cried out, "Long live the King!" and now on all sides there was nothing but rejoicing.
Then the young King and his brother said one to another, "Now that we are the masters, we will release our sister from the tower, where she has been shut up for such a long and time." They had only to pass through the garden to reach the tower, which stood in one corner of it, and had been built as high as was possible, for the late King and Queen had intended her to remain there always. Rosette was a beautiful dress on a frame in front of her, when she saw her brothers enter. She rose, and taking the King's hand, said, "Good-day, sire, you are now King, and I am your subject; I pray you to release me from this tower, where I lead a life," and with this, she burst into tears. The King embraced her, and begged her not to weep, for he was come, he said, to take her from the tower, and to conduct her to a beautiful castle. The Prince had his pockets full of sweetmeats, which he gave Rosette. "Come," he said, "let us get away from this wretched place; the King will soon find you a husband; do not be unhappy any longer."
When Rosette saw the beautiful garden, full of flowers, and fruits, and fountains, she was so overcome with , that she stood speechless, for she had never seen anything of the kind before. She looked around her, she went first here, then there, she picked the fruit off the trees, and gathered flowers from the beds; while her little dog, Fretillon, who was as green as a parrot, kept on running before her, saying, yap, yap, yap! and jumping and cutting a thousand , and everybody was amused at his ways. Presently he ran into a little wood, whither the Princess followed him, and here her wonder was even greater than before, when she saw a large peacock spreading out its tail. She thought it so beautiful, so very beautiful, that she could not take her eyes off it. The King and the Prince now joined her, and asked her what delighted her so much. She to the peacock, and asked them what it was. They told her it was a bird, which was sometimes eaten. "What!" she cried, "dare to kill and eat a beautiful bird like that! I tell you, that I will marry no one but the King of the Peacocks, and when I am their Queen I shall not allow anybody to eat them." The astonishment of the King cannot be described. "But, dear sister," said he, "where would you have us go to find the King of the Peacocks?" "Whither you please, sire; but him, and him alone, will I marry."
Having come to this decision, she was now conducted by her brothers to their castle; the peacock had to be brought and put into her room, so fond was she of it. All the Court ladies who had not before seen Rosette now hastened to greet her, and pay their respects to her. Some brought preserves with them, some sugar, and others dresses of woven gold, beautiful ribbons, dolls, embroidered shoes, pearls, and diamonds. Everyone did their best to entertain her, and she was so well brought up, so , kissing their hands, curtseying when anything beautiful was given to her, that there was not a lord or lady who did not leave her presence gratified and charmed. While she was thus occupied, the King and the Prince were turning over in their minds how they should find the King of the Peacocks, if there was such a person in the world to be found. They that they would have Rosette's portrait painted; and when completed it was so life-like, that only speech was wanting. Then they said to her, "Since you will marry no one but the King of the Peacocks, we are going together to look for him, and will traverse the whole world to try and find him for you. If we find him, we shall be very glad. Meanwhile take care of our kingdom until we return."
Rosette thanked them for all the trouble they were taking; she promised to govern the kingdom well, and said that, during their absence, her only pleasure would be in looking at the peacock, and making her little dog dance. They all three cried when they said good-bye to each other.
So the two Princes started on their long journey, and they asked everyone whom they met, "Do you know the King of the Peacocks?" but the reply was always the same, "No, we do not." Each time they passed on and went further, and in this way they travelled so very, very far, that no one had ever been so far before.
They came to the kingdom of the cock-chafers; and these were in such numbers, and made such a loud buzzing, that the King feared he should become deaf. He asked one of them, who appeared to him to have the most intelligence, whether he knew where the King of the Peacocks was to be found. "Sire," replied the cock-chafer, "his kingdom lies thirty thousand leagues from here; you have chosen the longest way to reach it." "And how do you know that?" asked the King. "Because," answered the cock-chafer, "we know you very well, for every year we spend two or three months in your gardens." Whereupon the King and his brother embraced the cock-chafer, and they went off arm in arm to dine together, and the two strangers admired all the curiosities of that new country, where the smallest leaf of a tree was worth a gold piece. After that, they continued their journey, and having been directed along the right way, they were not long in reaching its close. On their arrival, they found all the trees with peacocks, and, indeed, there were peacocks everywhere, so that they could be heard talking and screaming two leagues off.
The King said to his brother "If the King of the Peacocks is a peacock himself, how can our sister marry him? it would be to consent to such a thing, and it would be a fine thing for us to have little peacocks for nephews." The Prince was equally disturbed at the thought. "It is an unhappy fancy she has taken into her head," he said. "I cannot think what led her to imagine that there was such a person in the world as the King of the Peacocks."
When they entered the town, they saw that it was full of men and women, and that they all wore clothes made of peacocks' feathers, and that these were evidently considered fine things, for every place was covered with them. They met the King, who was driving in a beautiful little carriage of gold, studded with diamonds, and by twelve peacocks at full . This King of the Peacocks was so handsome, that the King and the Prince were delighted; he had long, light, curly hair, fair , and wore a crown of peacocks' feathers. Directly he saw them, he guessed, seeing that they wore a different costume to the people of the country, that they were strangers, and wishing to if this was so, he ordered his carriage to stop, and sent for them.
The King and the Prince advanced, bowing low, and said, "Sire, we have come from afar, to show you a portrait." They drew Rosette's portrait and showed it to him. After gazing at it a while, the King of the Peacocks said, "I can scarcely believe that there is so beautiful a in the whole world." "She is a thousand times more beautiful," said the King. "You are jesting," replied the King of the Peacocks. "Sire," rejoined the Prince, "here is my brother, who is a King, like yourself; he is called King, and my name is Prince; our sister, of whom this is the portrait, is the Princess Rosette. We have come to ask if you will marry her; she is good and beautiful, and we will give her, as dower, a bushel of golden crowns." "It is well," said the King. "I will gladly marry her; she shall want for nothing, and I shall love her greatly; but I require that she shall be as beautiful as her portrait, and if she is in the smallest degree less so, I shall make you pay for it with your lives." "We consent willingly," said both Rosette's brothers. "You consent?" added the King. "You will go to prison then, and remain there until the Princess arrives." The Princes made no difficulty about this, for they knew well that Rosette was more beautiful than her portrait. They were well looked after while in prison, and were well served with all they required, and the King often went to see them. He kept Rosette's portrait in his room, and could scarcely rest day or night for looking at it. As the King and his brother could not go to her themselves, they wrote to Rosette, telling her to pack up as quickly as possible, and to start without delay, as the King of the Peacocks was awaiting her. They did not tell her that they were prisoners, for fear of causing her uneasiness.
The Princess scarcely knew how to contain herself with joy, when she received this message. She told everybody that the King of the Peacocks had been found, and that he wanted to marry her. Bonfires were lit, and guns fired, and quantities of sweetmeats and sugar were eaten; everyone who came to see the Princess, during the three days before her departure, was given bread-and-butter and jam, rolled wafers, and negus. After having thus hospitality to her visitors, she presented her beautiful dolls to her best friends, and handed over the government to the wisest elders of the town, begging them to look well after everything, to spend little, and to save up money for the King on his return. She also prayed them to take care of her peacock, for with her she only took her nurse, and her foster-sister, and her little green dog, Fretillon. They set out in a boat on the sea, carrying with them the bushel of golden crowns, and sufficient clothes for two changes a day for ten years. They made merry on their voyage, laughing and singing, and the nurse kept on asking the boatman if they were nearing the Kingdom of the Peacocks; for a long time, all he said was, "No, no, not yet." Then at last, when she asked again, "Are we anywhere near it now?" he answered, "We shall soon be there, very soon." Once more she said, "Are we near, are we anywhere near it now?" and he said, "Yes, we are now within reach of shore." On hearing this, the nurse went to the end of the boat, and sitting down beside the boatman, said to him, "If you like, you can be rich for the remainder of your life." He replied, "I should like nothing better." She continued, "If you like, you can earn good money." "That would suit me very well," he answered. "Well," she went on, "then to-night, when the Princess is asleep, you must help me throw her into the sea. After she is drowned, I will dress my daughter in her fine clothes, and we will take her to the King of the Peacocks, who will only be too pleased to marry her; and as a reward to you, we will give you as many diamonds as you care to possess." The boatman was very much astonished at this proposal; he told the nurse that it was a pity to drown such a pretty Princess, and that he felt for her; but the nurse fetched a bottle of wine and made him drink so much, that he had no longer any power to refuse.
Night having come, the Princess went to bed as usual, her little Fretillon lying at her feet, not even stirring one of his paws. Rosette slept soundly, but the wicked nurse kept awake, and went presently to fetch the boatman. She took him into the Princess's room, and together they lifted her up, feather bed, , sheets, coverlet, and all, and threw them into the sea, the Princess ............
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