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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 102 pages of information about A Double Story.

In a short time the palace was quiet—­as quiet as it used to be before the princess was born.  The king and queen cried a little now and then, for the hearts of parents were in that country strangely fashioned; and yet I am afraid the first movement of those very hearts would have been a jump of terror if the ears above them had heard the voice of Rosamond in one of the corridors.  As for the rest of the household, they could not have made up a single tear amongst them.  They thought, whatever it might be for the princess, it was, for every one else, the best thing that could have happened; and as to what had become of her, if their heads were puzzled, their hearts took no interest in the question.  The lord-chancellor alone had an idea about it, but he was far too wise to utter it.

II.

The fact, as is plain, was, that the princess had disappeared in the folds of the wise woman’s cloak.  When she rushed from the room, the wise woman caught her to her bosom and flung the black garment around her.  The princess struggled wildly, for she was in fierce terror, and screamed as loud as choking fright would permit her; but her father, standing in the door, and looking down upon the wise woman, saw never a movement of the cloak, so tight was she held by her captor.  He was indeed aware of a most angry crying, which reminded him of his daughter; but it sounded to him so far away, that he took it for the passion of some child in the street, outside the palace-gates.  Hence, unchallenged, the wise woman carried the princess down the marble stairs, out at the palace-door, down a great flight of steps outside, across a paved court, through the brazen gates, along half-roused streets where people were opening their shops, through the huge gates of the city, and out into the wide road, vanishing northwards; the princess struggling and screaming all the time, and the wise woman holding her tight.  When at length she was too tired to struggle or scream any more, the wise woman unfolded her cloak, and set her down; and the princess saw the light and opened her swollen eyelids.  There was nothing in sight that she had ever seen before.  City and palace had disappeared.  They were upon a wide road going straight on, with a ditch on each side of it, that behind them widened into the great moat surrounding the city.  She cast up a terrified look into the wise woman’s face, that gazed down upon her gravely and kindly.  Now the princess did not in the least understand kindness.  She always took it for a sign either of partiality or fear.  So when the wise woman looked kindly upon her, she rushed at her, butting with her head like a ram:  but the folds of the cloak had closed around the wise woman; and, when the princess ran against it, she found it hard as the cloak of a bronze statue, and fell back upon the road with a great bruise on her head.  The wise woman lifted her again, and put her once more under the cloak, where she fell asleep, and where she awoke again only to find that she was still being carried on and on.

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