“Poor Märchen!” said the Queen as she caressed her cheek, which was wet with a tear. “But, perhaps, thou only fanciest all this.”
“Believe me, I feel it but too well,” rejoined Märchen; “they love me no more. Wherever I go, cold looks meet me; nowhere am I any more gladly seen; even the children, who ever loved me so well, laugh at me, and slyly turn their backs upon me.”
The Queen leaned her forehead on her hand, and was silent in reflection. “And how, then, Märchen,” she asked, “should it happen that the people there below have become so changed?”
“See, O Queen Phantasie! men have stationed vigilant watchmen, who inspect and examine all that comes from thy kingdom, with sharp eyes. If one should arrive who is not according to their mind, they raise a loud cry, and put him to death, or else so slander him to men, who believe their every word, that one finds no longer any love, any little ray of confidence. Ah! how fortunate are my brothers, the Dreams! they leap merrily and lightly down upon the earth, care nothing for those artful men, seek the slumbering, and weave and paint for them, what makes happy the heart, and brightens the eye with joy.”
“Thy brothers are light-footed,” said the Queen, “and thou, my darling, hast no reason for envying them. Besides, I know these border-watchmen well; men are not so wrong in sending them out; there came so many boastful fellows, who acted as if they had come straight from my kingdom, and yet they had, at best, only looked down upon us from some mountain.”
“But why did they make me, thine own daughter, suffer for this?” wept forth Märchen. “Ah, if thou knewest how they have acted towards me! They called me an old maid, and threatened the next time not to admit me!”
“How, my daughter?—not to admit thee more?” asked the Queen, as anger heightened the color on her cheeks. “But already I see whence this comes; that wicked cousin has slandered us!”
“Fashion? Impossible!” exclaimed Märchen; “she always used to act so friendly towards us.