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Wonderful sheep.

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The Princess and the Captain of the Guard were talking so earnestly that they did not think of Patypata, but she had overheard all they said, and now came and threw herself at Miranda's feet. "Madam," she said, "I offer you my life; let me be killed, I shall be only too happy to die for such a kind mistress." "Why, Patypata," cried the Princess, kissing her, "that would never do; your life is as precious to me as my own, especially after such a proof of your affection as you have just given me." "You are right, Princess," said Grabugeon, coming forward, "to love such a faithful slave as Patypata; she is of more use to you than I am, I offer you my tongue and my heart most willingly, especially as I wish to make a great name for myself in Goblin Land." "No, no, my little Grabugeon," replied Miranda, "I cannot bear the thought of taking your life." "Such a good little dog as I am," cried Tintin, "could not think of letting either of you die for his mistress. If anyone is to die for her it must be me." And then began a great dispute between Patypata, Grabugeon, and Tintin, and they came to high words, until at last Grabugeon, who was quicker than the others, ran up to the very top of the nearest tree, and let herself fall, head first, to the ground, and there she lay--quite dead! The Princess was very sorry, but as Grabugeon was really dead, she allowed the Captain of the Guard to take her tongue; but, alas! it was such a little one--not bigger than the Princess's thumb--that they decided sorrowfully that it was of no use at all: the King would not have been taken in by it for a moment!



"Alas! my little monkey," cried the Princess, "I have lost you, and yet I am no better off than I was before." "The honor of saving your life is to be mine," interrupted Patypata, and, before they could prevent her, she had picked up a knife and cut her head off in an instant. But when the Captain of the Guard would have taken her tongue it turned out to be quite black, so that would not have deceived the King either. "Am I not unlucky?" cried the poor Princess; "I lose everything I love, and am none the better for it." "If you had accepted my offer," said Tintin, "you would only have had me to regret, and I should have had all your gratitude." Miranda kissed her little dog, crying so bitterly, that at last she could bear it no longer, and turned away into the forest. When she looked back the Captain of the Guard was gone, and she was alone, except for Patypata, Grabugeon, and Tintin, who lay upon the ground. She could not leave the place until she had buried them in a pretty little mossy grave at the foot of a tree, and she wrote their names upon the bark of the tree, and how they had all died to save her life. And then she began to think where she could go for safety--for this forest was so close to her father's castle that she might be seen and recognized by the first passer-by, and, besides that, it was full of lions and wolves, who would have snapped up a princess just as soon as a stray chicken. So she began to walk as fast as she could, but the forest was so large and the sun was so hot that she nearly died of heat and terror and fatigue; look which way she would there seemed to be no end to the forest, and she was so frightened that she fancied every minute that she heard the King running after her to kill her.



You may imagine how miserable she was, and how she cried as she went on, not knowing which path to follow, and with the thorny bushes scratching her dreadfully and tearing her pretty frock to pieces. At last she heard the bleating of a sheep, and said to herself: "No doubt there are shepherds here with their flocks; they will show me the way to some village where I can live disguised as a peasant girl. Alas! it is not always kings and princes who are the happiest people in the world. Who could have believed that I should ever be obliged to run away and hide because the King, for no reason at all, wishes to kill me?" So saying she advanced toward the place where she heard the bleating, but what was her surprise when, in a lovely little glade quite surrounded by trees, she saw a large sheep; its wool was as white as snow, and its horns shone like gold; it had a garland of flowers round its neck, and strings of great pearls about its legs, and a collar of diamonds; it lay upon a bank of orange-flowers, under a canopy of cloth of gold which protected it from the heat of the sun. Nearly a hundred other sheep were scattered about, not eating the grass, but some drinking coffee, lemonade, or sherbet, others eating ices, strawberries and cream, or sweetmeats, while others, again, were playing games. Many of them wore golden collars with jewels, flowers, and ribbons.



Miranda stopped short in amazement at this unexpected sight, and was looking in all directions for the shepherd of this surprising flock, when the beautiful sheep came bounding toward her. "Approach, lovely Princess," he cried; "have no fear of such gentle and peaceable animals as we are." "What a marvel!" cried the Princess, starting back a little. "Here is a sheep that can talk." "Your monkey and your dog could talk, madam," said he; "are you more astonished at us than at them?" "A fairy gave them the power to speak," replied Miranda. "So I was used to them." "Perhaps the same thing has happened to us," he said, smiling sheepishly. "But, Princess, what can have led you here?" "A thousand misfortunes, Sir Sheep," she answered. "I am the unhappiest princess in the world, and I am seeking a shelter against my father's anger." "Come with me, madam," said the Sheep; "I offer you a hiding-place which you only will know of, and where you will be mistress of everything you see." "I really cannot follow you," said Miranda, "for I am too tired to walk another step." The Sheep with the golden horns ordered that his chariot should be fetched, and a moment after appeared six goats, harnessed to a pumpkin, which was so big that two people could quite well sit in it, and was all lined with cushions of velvet and down. The Princess stepped into it, much amused at such a new kind of carriage, the King of the Sheep took his place beside her, and the goats ran away with them at full speed, and only stopped when they reached a cavern, the entrance to which was blocked by a great stone. This the King touched with his foot, and immediately it fell down, and he invited the Princess to enter without fear.

       


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