“But do you want Frederick as a son-in-law?”
“Well, that’s the question. In his present shape he is perhaps not quite—not quite—well, how shall I put it?”
“Not quite,” suggested Amaril.
“Exactly. At the same time I think that there could be no harm in the announcement of a betrothal. The marriage, of course, would not be announced until—”
“Until the enchanter had removed his spell from the eyes of the people?”
“Quite so. You have no objection to that, my dear?”
“I am His Majesty’s subject,” said Amaril dutifully.
“That’s a good girl.” He patted the top of her head and dismissed her.
So the betrothal of His Royal Highness Frederick of Milvania to the Princess Amaril was announced, to the great joy of the people. And in the depths of the Palace Hi-You the swineherd was hard at work compounding a potion which, he assured the King, would restore Frederick to his own princely form. And sometimes the Princess Amaril would help him at his work.
A month went by, and then Hi-You came to the King with news. He had compounded the magic potion. A few drops sprinkled discriminately on Frederick would restore him to his earlier shape, and the wedding could then be announced.
“Well, my man,” said His Majesty genially, “this is indeed pleasant hearing. We will sprinkle Frederick to-morrow. Really, I am very much in your debt; remind me after the ceremony to speak to the Lord Treasurer about the matter.”
“Say no more,” begged Hi-You. “All I ask is to be allowed to depart in peace. Let me have a few hours alone with His Royal Highness in the form in which I have known him so long, and then, when he is himself again, let me go. For it is not meet that I should remain here as a perpetual reminder to His Royal Highness of what he would fain forget.”
“Well, that’s very handsome of you, very handsome indeed. I see your point. Yes, it is better that you should go. But, before you go, there is just one thing. The people are under the impression that—er—an enchanter has—er—well, you remember what you yourself suggested.”
“I have thought of that,” said Hi-You, who seemed to have thought of everything. “And I venture to propose that Your Majesty should announce that a great alchemist has been compounding a potion to relieve their blindness. A few drops of this will be introduced into the water of the Public Baths, and all those bathing therein will be healed.”
“A striking notion,” said the King. “Indeed it was just about to occur to me. I will proclaim to-morrow a public holiday, and give orders that it be celebrated in the baths. Then in the evening, when they are all clean—I should say ’cured’—we will present their Prince to them.”
So it happened even as Hi-You had said, and in the evening the Prince, a model now of manly beauty, was presented to them, and they acclaimed him with cheers. And all noticed how lovingly the Princess regarded him, and how he smiled upon her.