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The Little Soldier

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However, even in this critical moment, Ludovine did not lose her head. 'I thought you were simply a street vagabond,' said she, in her most coaxing voice; 'and I find you are more powerful than any king. Here is your purse. Have you got my scarf and my bouquet?' 'Here they are,' said the Kinglet, delighted with this change of tone, and he drew them from his bosom. Ludovine fastened one in his buttonhole and the other round his arm. 'Now,' she said, 'you are my lord and master, and I will marry you at your good pleasure.' 'You are kinder than I thought,' said John; 'and you shall never be unhappy, for I love you.' 'Then, my little husband, tell me how you managed to carry me so quickly to the ends of the world.'

The little soldier scratched his head. 'Does she really mean to marry me,' he thought to himself, 'or is she only trying to deceive me again?' But Ludovine repeated, 'Won't you tell me?' in such a tender voice he did not know how to resist her. 'After all,' he said to himself, 'what does it matter telling her the secret, as long as I don't give her the cloak.' And he told her the virtue of the red mantle. 'Oh dear, how tired I am!' sighed Ludovine. 'Don't you think we had better take a nap? And then we can talk over our plans.' She stretched herself on the grass, and the Kinglet did the same. He laid his head on his left arm, round which the scarf was tied, and was soon fast asleep. Ludovine was watching him out of one eye, and no sooner did she hear him snore than she unfastened the mantle, drew it gently from under him and wrapped it round her, took the purse from his pocket, and put it in hers, and said: 'I wish I was back in my own room.' In another moment she was there.


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