“How could you love such an ugly, ill-tempered, rude, hateful little wretch?”
“I saw, through it all, what you were going to be,” said the wise woman, kissing her. “But remember you have yet only begun to be what I saw.”
“I will try to remember,” said the princess, holding her cloak, and looking up in her face.
“Go, then,” said the wise woman.
Rosamond turned away on the instant, ran to the picture, stepped over the frame of it, heard a door close gently, gave one glance back, saw behind her the loveliest palace-front of alabaster, gleaming in the pale-yellow light of an early summer-morning, looked again to the eastward, saw the faint outline of her father’s city against the sky, and ran off to reach it.
It looked much further off now than when it seemed a picture, but the sun was not yet up, and she had the whole of a summer day before her.
The soldiers sent out by the king, had no great difficulty in finding Agnes’s father and mother, of whom they demanded if they knew any thing of such a young princess as they described. The honest pair told them the truth in every point—that, having lost their own child and found another, they had taken her home, and treated her as their own; that she had indeed called herself a princess, but they had not believed her, because she did not look like one; that, even if they had, they did not know how they could have done differently, seeing they were poor people, who could not afford to keep any idle person about the place; that they had done their best to teach her good ways, and had not parted with her until her bad temper rendered it impossible to put up with her any longer; that, as to the king’s proclamation, they heard little of the world’s news on their lonely hill, and it had never reached them; that if it had, they did not know how either of them could have gone such a distance from home, and left their sheep or their cottage, one or the other, uncared for.
“You must learn, then, how both of you can go, and your sheep must take care of your cottage,” said the lawyer, and commanded the soldiers to bind them hand and foot.
Heedless of their entreaties to be spared such an indignity, the soldiers obeyed, bore them to a cart, and set out for the king’s palace, leaving the cottage door open, the fire burning, the pot of potatoes boiling upon it, the sheep scattered over the hill, and the dogs not knowing what to do.
Hardly were they gone, however, before the wise woman walked up, with Prince behind her, peeped into the cottage, locked the door, put the key in her pocket, and then walked away up the hill. In a few minutes there arose a great battle between Prince and the dog which filled his former place—a well-meaning but dull fellow, who could fight better than feed. Prince was not long in showing him that he was meant for his master, and then, by his efforts, and directions to the other dogs, the sheep were soon gathered again, and out of danger from foxes and bad dogs. As soon as this was done, the wise woman left them in charge of Prince, while she went to the next farm to arrange for the folding of the sheep and the feeding of the dogs.