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The Little Soldier
start of story
'Is that true?' asked the King of the Princess.
'Quite true,' answered Ludovine. 'But I told my deliverer to be ready to go with me when I passed by with my coach. I passed three times, but he slept so soundly that no one could wake him.'
'What is your name?' said the King, 'and who are you?'
'My name is John. I am a soldier, and my father is a boatman.'
'You are not a fit husband for my daughter. Still, if you will give us your purse, you shall have her for your wife.'
'My purse does not belong to me, and I cannot give it away.'
'But you can lend it to me till our wedding-day,' said the Princess with one of those glances the little soldier never could resist.
'And when will that be?'
'At Easter,' said the monarch.
'Or in a blue moon!' murmured the Princess; but the Kinglet did not hear her and let her take his purse.
Next evening he presented himself at the palace to play picquet with the King and to make his court to the Princess. But he was told that the King had gone into the country to receive his rents. He returned the following day, and had the same answer. Then he asked to see the Queen, but she had a headache. When this had happened five or six times, he began to understand that they were making fun of him.
'That is not the way for a King to behave,' thought John. 'Old scoundrel!' and then suddenly he remembered his red cloak.
'Ah, what an idiot I am!' said he. 'Of course I can get in whenever I like with the help of this.'
That evening he was in front of the palace, wrapped in his red cloak.
On the first story one window was lighted, and John saw on the curtains the shadow of the Princess.
'I wish myself in the room of the Princess Ludovine,' said he, and in a second he was there.