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|The Princess and the Goblin||George MacDonald|
The Princess's King-Papa
|Page 2 of 3||
After the king had eaten and drunk he turned to the princess and said, stroking her hair:
'Now, my child, what shall we do next?'
This was the question he almost always put to her first after their meal together; and Irene had been waiting for it with some impatience, for now, she thought, she should be able to settle a question which constantly perplexed her.
'I should like you to take me to see my great old grandmother.'
The king looked grave And said:
'What does my little daughter mean?'
'I mean the Queen Irene that lives up in the tower - the very old lady, you know, with the long hair of silver.'
The king only gazed at his little princess with a look which she could not understand.
'She's got her crown in her bedroom,' she went on; 'but I've not been in there yet. You know she's there, don't you?'
'No,' said the king, very quietly.
'Then it must all be a dream,' said Irene. 'I half thought it was; but I couldn't be sure. Now I am sure of it. Besides, I couldn't find her the next time I went up.'
At that moment a snow-white pigeon flew in at an open window and settled upon Irene's head. She broke into a merry laugh, cowered a little, and put up her hands to her head, saying:
'Dear dovey, don't peck me. You'll pull out my hair with your long claws if you don't mind.'
The king stretched out his hand to take the pigeon, but it spread its wings and flew again through the open window, when its Whiteness made one flash in the sun and vanished. The king laid his hand on his princess's head, held it back a little, gazed in her face, smiled half a smile, and sighed half a sigh.
'Come, my child; we'll have a walk in the garden together,' he said.
'You won't come up and see my huge, great, beautiful grandmother, then, king-papa?' said the princess.
'Not this time,' said the king very gently. 'She has not invited me, you know, and great old ladies like her do not choose to be visited without leave asked and given.'
The garden was a very lovely place. Being upon a Mountainside there were parts in it where the rocks came through in great masses, and all immediately about them remained quite wild. Tufts of heather grew upon them, and other hardy mountain plants and flowers, while near them would be lovely roses and lilies and all pleasant garden flowers. This mingling of the wild mountain with the civilized garden was very quaint, and it was impossible for any number of gardeners to make such a garden look formal and stiff.
Against one of these rocks was a garden seat, shadowed from the afternoon sun by the overhanging of the rock itself. There was a little winding path up to the top of the rock, and on top another seat; but they sat on the seat at its foot because the sun was hot; and there they talked together of many things. At length the king said:
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|The Princess and the Goblin
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