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Graciosa and Percinet

`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.

Then she went on to the third cask, tap, tap, and out came such a stream of diamonds and pearls that the ground was covered with them.

`Ah!' she cried, `this is altogether beyond my comprehension, sire. Someone must have stolen my good wine and put all this rubbish in its place.'

`Rubbish, do you call it, Madam Grumbly?' cried the King. `Rubbish! why there is enough there to buy ten kingdoms.'

`Well,' said she, `you must know that all those casks are full of gold and jewels, and if you like to marry me it shall all be yours.'

Now the King loved money more than anything else in the world, so he cried joyfully:

`Marry you? why with all my heart! to-morrow if you like.'

`But I make one condition,' said the Duchess; `I must have entire control of your daughter to do as I please with her.'

`Oh certainly, you shall have your own way; let us shake hands upon the bargain,' said the King.

So they shook hands and went up out of the cellar of treasure together, and the Duchess locked the door and gave the key to the King.

When he got back to his own palace Graciosa ran out to meet him, and asked if he had had good sport.

`I have caught a dove,' answered he.

`Oh! do give it to me,' said the Princess, `and I will keep it and take care of it.'

`I can hardly do that,' said he, `for, to speak more plainly, I mean that I met the Duchess Grumbly, and have promised to marry her.

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