Gabriel smiled, too.
“Where is your home, Gabriel, and why are you not returning there?”
“I have no home. It is a long story, your highness, and would not interest you.”
“Ah, but it does interest me,” and the princess smiled more brightly than ever; “because if you have no home you can remain in our service.”
A light flashed into Gabriel’s sober face. “What happiness!” he exclaimed.
No answer could have pleased the princess better than the pleasure in his eyes. “Topaz is not willing you should leave him, and neither am I. When you are older, his majesty, my father, will look after your fortunes. For the present you shall be a page.”
“Your highness!” protested the Lady Gertrude, “have you considered? The pages are of lofty birth. Will it not go hard with the peasant? Give him a purse and let him go.”
The princess answered but did not remove her gaze from the boy’s flushed face, while Topaz’s cold little nose nestled in his down-dropped hand.
“Gabriel is my friend, be he prince or peasant,” she said slowly, “and it will go hard with those who love him not.” The young girl’s eyes met Gabriel’s and then she smiled as light-heartedly as on this morning when she wore the woolen gown. “And now make Topaz dance,” she added, “the way he danced in the woods.”
The boy’s happy glance dropped to the dog, and he raised his finger. With alacrity Topaz sat up, and then Gabriel began to whistle.
How the court ladies murmured with soft laughter, for no one had ever seen such a pretty sight. Not for any of them, not for the princess herself, had Topaz danced as he danced to-day.
“Ah,” murmured the princess, “how much more powerful than the whip is love!”
When music and dancing had ceased, she smiled once more upon Gabriel, whose happy heart was full.
“Go now,” she said, “and learn of your new duties; but the chief one you have learned already. It is to be faithful!”
THE TALKING DOLL
Mr. Evringham’s horseback rides in these days were apt to be accompanied by the stories, which Jewel related to him with much enthusiasm while they cantered through wood-roads, and it is safe to say that the tales furnished full as much entertainment at second hand as they had at first.
The golden dog had deeply impressed Jewel’s fancy, and when she finished relating the story, her face all alight, Mr. Evringham shook his head.
“Star is going to have his hands full, I can see,” he remarked, restraining Essex Maid’s longing for a gallop.
“To hold his own against that dog.”
Jewel looked thoughtful. “I suppose it wouldn’t be any use to try to teach Star to dance, would it?” she asked.
“Oh, yes. Ponies learn to dance. We shall have to go to a circus and let you see one; but how should you like it every time Star heard a band or a hand-organ to have him get up on his hind legs and begin?”