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The Red Fairy Book

Graciosa and Percinet
ONCE upon a time there lived a King and Queen who had one charming daughter. She
was so graceful and pretty and clever that she was called Graciosa, and the Queen was so
fond of her that she could think of nothing else.
Everyday she gave the Princess a lovely new frock of gold brocade, or satin, or velvet,
and when she was hungry she had bowls full of sugar-plums, and at least twenty pots of
jam. Everybody said she was the happiest Princess in the world. Now there lived at this
same court a very rich old duchess whose name was Grumbly. She was more frightful
than tongue can tell; her hair was red as fire, and she had but one eye, and that not a
pretty one! Her face was as broad as a full moon, and her mouth was so large that
everybody who met her would have been afraid they were going to be eaten up, only she
had no teeth. As she was as cross as she was ugly, she could not bear to hear everyone
saying how pretty and how charming Graciosa was; so she presently went away from the
court to her own castle, which was not far off. But if anybody who went to see her
happened to mention the charming Princess, she would cry angrily:
`It's not true that she is lovely. I have more beauty in my little finger than she has in her
whole body.'
Soon after this, to the great grief of the Princess, the Queen was taken ill and died, and
the King became so melancholy that for a whole year he shut himself up in his palace. At
last his physicians, fearing that he would fall ill, ordered that he should go out and amuse
himself; so a hunting party was arranged, but as it was very hot weather the King soon
got tired, and said he would dismount and rest at a castle which they were passing.
This happened to be the Duchess Grumbly's castle, and when she heard that the King was
coming she went out to meet him, and said that the cellar was the coolest place in the
whole castle if he would condescend to come down into it. So down they went together,
and the King seeing about two hundred great casks ranged side by side, asked if it was
only for herself that she had this immense store of wine.
`Yes, sire,' answered she, `it is for myself alone, but I shall be most happy to let you taste
some of it. Which do you like, canary, St. Julien, champagne, hermitage sack, raisin, or
cider?'
`Well,' said the King, `since you are so kind as to ask me, I prefer champagne to anything
else.'
Then Duchess Grumbly took up a little hammer and tapped upon the cask twice, and out
came at least a thousand crowns.
`What's the meaning of this?' said she smiling.
Then she tapped the next cask, and out came a bushel of gold pieces.
`I don't understand this at all,' said the Duchess, smiling more than before.
 
 
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