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From The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang.
Start of Story
Age Rating 8 Plus.
However, the fear of not getting away made her leave before the marriage
was over. She went out hastily, leaving behind her a little coral casket
set with emeralds. On it was written in diamond letters: "Jewels for the
Bride," and when they opened it, which they did as soon as it was found,
there seemed to be no end to the pretty things it contained. The King,
who had hoped to join the unknown Princess and find out who she was,
was dreadfully disappointed when she disappeared so suddenly, and gave
orders that if she ever came again the doors were to be shut that she
might not get away so easily. Short as Miranda's absence had been, it
had seemed like a hundred years to the King of the Sheep. He was waiting
for her by a fountain in the thickest part of the forest, and the ground
was strewn with splendid presents which he had prepared for her to show
his joy and gratitude at her coming back.
As soon as she was in sight he rushed to meet her, leaping and bounding
like a real sheep. He caressed her tenderly, throwing himself at her
feet and kissing her hands, and told her how uneasy he had been in
her absence, and how impatient for her return, with an eloquence which
After some time came the news that the King's second daughter was going
to be married. When Miranda heard it she begged the King of the Sheep
to allow her to go and see the wedding as before. This request made him
feel very sad, as if some misfortune must surely come of it, but his
love for the Princess being stronger than anything else he did not like
to refuse her.
"You wish to leave me, Princess," said he; "it is my unhappy fate--you
are not to blame. I consent to your going, but, believe me, I can give
you no stronger proof of my love than by so doing."
The Princess assured him that she would only stay a very short time, as
she had done before, and begged him not to be uneasy, as she would be
quite as much grieved if anything detained her as he could possibly be.
So, with the same escort, she set out, and reached the palace as the
marriage ceremony began. Everybody was delighted to see her; she was
so pretty that they thought she must be some fairy princess, and the
Princes who were there could not take their eyes off her.
The King was more glad than anyone else that she had come again, and
gave orders that the doors should all be shut and bolted that very
minute. When the wedding was all but over the Princess got up quickly,
hoping to slip away unnoticed among the crowd, but, to her great dismay,
she found every door fastened.
She felt more at ease when the King came up to her, and with the
greatest respect begged her not to run away so soon, but at least to
honor him by staying for the splendid feast which was prepared for the
Princes and Princesses. He led her into a magnificent hall, where all
the Court was assembled, and himself taking up the golden bowl full of
water, he offered it to her that she might dip her pretty fingers into
At this the Princess could no longer contain herself; throwing herself
at the King's feet, she cried out:
"My dream has come true after all--you have offered me water to wash my
hands on my sister's wedding day, and it has not vexed you to do it."
The King recognized her at once--indeed, he had already thought several
times how much like his poor little Miranda she was.
"Oh! my dear daughter," he cried, kissing her, "can you ever forget my
cruelty? I ordered you to be put to death because I thought your dream
portended the loss of my crown. And so it did," he added, "for now your
sisters are both married and have kingdoms of their own--and mine shall
be for you." So saying he put his crown on the Princess's head and
"Long live Queen Miranda!"
All the Court cried: "Long live Queen Miranda!" after him, and the young
Queen's two sisters came running up, and threw their arms round her
neck, and kissed her a thousand times, and then there was such a
laughing and crying, talking and kissing, all at once, and Miranda
thanked her father, and began to ask after everyone--particularly
the Captain of the Guard, to whom she owed so much; but, to her great
sorrow, she heard that he was dead. Presently they sat down to the
banquet, and the King asked Miranda to tell them all that had happened
to her since the terrible morning when he had sent the Captain of the
Guard to fetch her. This she did with so much spirit that all the guests
listened with breathless interest. But while she was thus enjoying
herself with the King and her sisters, the King of the Sheep was waiting
impatiently for the time of her return, and when it came and went, and
no Princess appeared, his anxiety became so great that he could bear it
"She is not coming back any more," he cried. "My miserable sheep's
face displeases her, and without Miranda what is left to me, wretched
creature that I am! Oh! cruel Ragotte; my punishment is complete."
For a long time he bewailed his sad fate like this, and then, seeing
that it was growing dark, and that still there was no sign of the
Princess, he set out as fast as he could in the direction of the town.
When he reached the palace he asked for Miranda, but by this time
everyone had heard the story of her adventures, and did not want her to
go back again to the King of the Sheep, so they refused sternly to let
him see her. In vain he begged and prayed them to let him in; though
his entreaties might have melted hearts of stone they did not move the
guards of the palace, and at last, quite broken-hearted, he fell dead at
In the meantime the King, who had not the least idea of the sad thing
that was happening outside the gate of his palace, proposed to Miranda
that she should be driven in her chariot all round the town, which was
to be illuminated with thousands and thousands of torches, placed in
windows and balconies, and in all the grand squares. But what a sight
met her eyes at the very entrance of the palace! There lay her dear,
kind sheep, silent and motionless, upon the pavement!
She threw herself out of the chariot and ran to him, crying bitterly,
for she realized that her broken promise had cost him his life, and for
a long, long time she was so unhappy that they thought she would have
So you see that even a princess is not always happy--especially if she
forgets to keep her word; and the greatest misfortunes often happen to
people just as they think they have obtained their heart's desires!(1)