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"At this dreadful sight I drew my sword and rushed at Ragotte, and
should certainly have cut off her head had she not by her magic arts
chained me to the spot on which I stood; all my efforts to move were
useless, and at last, when I threw myself down on the ground in despair,
she said to me, with a scornful smile:
"'I intend to make you feel my power. It seems that you are a lion at
present, I mean you to be a sheep.'
"So saying, she touched me with her wand, and I became what you see. I
did not lose the power of speech, or of feeling the misery of my present
"'For five years,' she said, 'you shall be a sheep, and lord of this
pleasant land, while I, no longer able to see your face, which I loved
so much, shall be better able to hate you as you deserve to be hated.'
"She disappeared as she finished speaking, and if I had not been too
unhappy to care about anything I should have been glad that she was
"The talking sheep received me as their king, and told me that they,
too, were unfortunate princes who had, in different ways, offended the
revengeful fairy, and had been added to her flock for a certain number
of years; some more, some less. From time to time, indeed, one regains
his own proper form and goes back again to his place in the upper world;
but the other beings whom you saw are the rivals or the enemies of
Ragotte, whom she has imprisoned for a hundred years or so; though even
they will go back at last. The young slave of whom I told you about is
one of these; I have seen her often, and it has been a great pleasure to
me. She never speaks to me, and if I were nearer to her I know I should
find her only a shadow, which would be very annoying. However, I noticed
that one of my companions in misfortune was also very attentive to this
little sprite, and I found out that he had been her lover, whom the
cruel Ragotte had taken away from her long before; since then I have
cared for, and thought of, nothing but how I might regain my freedom.
I have often been in the forest; that is where I have seen you, lovely
Princess, sometimes driving your chariot, which you did with all the
grace and skill in the world; sometimes riding to the chase on so
spirited a horse that it seemed as if no one but yourself could have
managed it, and sometimes running races on the plain with the Princesses
of your Court--running so lightly that it was you always who won the
prize. Oh! Princess, I have loved you so long, and yet how dare I
tell you of my love! what hope can there be for an unhappy sheep like
Miranda was so surprised and confused by all that she had heard that
she hardly knew what answer to give to the King of the Sheep, but she
managed to make some kind of little speech, which certainly did not
forbid him to hope, and said that she should not be afraid of the
shadows now she knew that they would some day come to life again.
"Alas!" she continued, "if my poor Patypata, my dear Grabugeon, and
pretty little Tintin, who all died for my sake, were equally well off, I
should have nothing left to wish for here!"
Prisoner though he was, the King of the Sheep had still some powers and
"Go," said he to his Master of the Horse, "go and seek the shadows of
the little black girl, the monkey, and the dog: they will amuse our
And an instant afterward Miranda saw them coming toward her, and their
presence gave her the greatest pleasure, though they did not come near
enough for her to touch them.
The King of the Sheep was so kind and amusing, and loved Miranda so
dearly, that at last she began to love him too. Such a handsome
sheep, who was so polite and considerate, could hardly fail to please,
especially if one knew that he was really a king, and that his strange
imprisonment would soon come to an end. So the Princess's days passed
very gaily while she waited for the happy time to come. The King of
the Sheep, with the help of all the flock, got up balls, concerts, and
hunting parties, and even the shadows joined in all the fun, and came,
making believe to be their own real selves.
One evening, when the couriers arrived (for the King sent most carefully
for news--and they always brought the very best kinds), it was announced
that the sister of the Princess Miranda was going to be married to
a great Prince, and that nothing could be more splendid than all the
preparations for the wedding.
"Ah!" cried the young Princess, "how unlucky I am to miss the sight of
so many pretty things! Here am I imprisoned under the earth, with no
company but sheep and shadows, while my sister is to be adorned like a
queen and surrounded by all who love and admire her, and everyone but
myself can go to wish her joy!"
"Why do you complain, Princess?" said the King of the Sheep. "Did I say
that you were not to go to the wedding? Set out as soon as you please;
only promise me that you will come back, for I love you too much to be
able to live without you."
Miranda was very grateful to him, and promised faithfully that nothing
in the world should keep her from coming back. The King caused an escort
suitable to her rank to be got ready for her, and she dressed herself
splendidly, not forgetting anything that could make her more beautiful.
Her chariot was of mother-of-pearl, drawn by six dun-colored griffins
just brought from the other side of the world, and she was attended by a
number of guards in splendid uniforms, who were all at least eight feet
high and had come from far and near to ride in the Princess's train.
Miranda reached her father's palace just as the wedding ceremony began,
and everyone, as soon as she came in, was struck with surprise at
her beauty and the splendor of her jewels. She heard exclamations
of admiration on all sides; and the King her father looked at her so
attentively that she was afraid he must recognize her; but he was so
sure that she was dead that the idea never occurred to him.