So the next morning before breakfast Wiggs went up on to the castle walls and wished. She looked over the meadows, and across the peaceful stream that wandered through them, to the forest where she had met her fairy, and she gave a little sigh. "Good-bye, dancing," she said; and then she held the ring up and went on bravely, "Please I was a very good girl all yesterday, and I wish that Prince Udo may be well again."
For a full minute there was silence. Then from the direction of Udo's room below there came these remarkable words:
"Take the beastly stuff away, and bring me a beefsteak and a flagon of sack!"
Between smiles and tears Wiggs murmured, "He sounds all right. I am g—glad."
And then she could bear it no longer. She hurried down and out of the Palace—away, away from Udo and the Princess and the Countess and all their talk, to the cool friendly forest, there to be alone and to think over all that she had lost.
It was very quiet in the forest. At the foot of her own favourite tree, a veteran of many hundred summers who stood sentinel over an open glade that dipped to a gurgling brook and climbed gently away from it, she sat down. On the soft green yonder she might have danced, an enchanted place, and now—never, never, never. . . .
How long had she sat there? It must have been a long time—because the forest had been so quiet, and now it was so full of sound. The trees were murmuring something to her, and the birds were singing it, and the brook was trying to tell it too, but it would keep chuckling over the very idea so that you could hardly hear what it was saying, and there were rustlings in the grass—"Get up, get up," everything was calling to her; "dance, dance."
She got up, a little frightened. Everything seemed so strangely beautiful. She had never felt it like this before. Yes, she would dance. She must say, "Thank you," for all this somehow; perhaps they would excuse her if it was not very well expressed.
"This will just be for 'Thank you'" she said as she got up. "I shall never dance again."
And then she danced. . . .
Where are you, Hyacinth? There is a lover waiting for you somewhere, my dear.
It is the first of Spring. The blackbird opens his yellow beak, and whistles cool and clear. There is blue magic in the morning; the sky, deep-blue above, melts into white where it meets the hills. The wind waits for you up yonder—will you go to meet it? Ah, stay here! The hedges have put on their green coats for you; misty green are the tall elms from which the rooks are chattering. Along the clean white road, between the primrose banks, he comes. Will you be round this corner?——or the next? He is looking for you, Hyacinth.
(She rested, breathless, and then danced again.)
It is summer afternoon. All the village is at rest save one. "Cuck-oo!" comes from the deep dark trees; "Cuck-oo!" he calls again, and flies away to send back the answer. The fields, all green and gold, sleep undisturbed by the full river which creeps along them. The air is heavy with the scent of may. Where are you, Hyacinth? Is not this the trysting-place? I have waited for you so long! . . .
She stopped, and the watcher in the bushes moved silently away, his mind aflame with fancies.
Wiggs went back to the Palace to tell everybody that she could dance.
* * * * *
"Shall we tell her how it happened?" said Udo jauntily. "I just recited a couple of lines—poetry, you know—backwards, and—well, here I am!"
"O——oh!" said Wiggs.