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King Kojata


'Now, don't be so foolish, my dear Prince; but keep up your spirits, for there is no need to despair. Go to bed, and when you wake up to-morrow morning the palace will be finished. Then you must go all round it, giving a tap here and there on the walls to look as if you had just finished it.'

And so it all turned out just as she had said. As soon as it was daylight Prince Milan stepped out of his room, and found a palace which was quite a work of art down to the very smallest detail. The Magician himself was not a little astonished at its beauty, and could hardly believe his eyes.

'Well, you certainly are a splendid workman,' he said to the Prince. 'I see you are very clever with your hands, now I must see if you are equally accomplished with your head. I have thirty daughters in my house, all beautiful princesses. To-morrow I will place the whole thirty in a row. You must walk past them three times, and the third time you must show me which is my youngest daughter Hyacinthia. If you don't guess rightly, you shall lose your head.'

'This time you've made a mistake,' thought Prince Milan, and going to his room he sat down at the window. Just fancy my not recognising the beautiful Hyacinthia! Why, that is the easiest thing in the world.'

'Not so easy as you think,' cried the little bee, who was flying past. 'If I weren't to help you, you'd never guess. We are thirty sisters so exactly alike that our own father can hardly distinguish us apart.'

'Then what am I to do?' asked Prince Milan.

'Listen,' answered Hyacinthia. 'You will recognise me by a tiny fly I shall have on my left cheek, but be careful for you might easily make a mistake.'

The next day the Magician again commanded Prince Milan to be led before him. His daughters were all arranged in a straight row in front of him, dressed exactly alike, and with their eyes bent on the ground.

'Now, you genius,' said the Magician, 'look at these beauties three times, and then tell us which is the Princess Hyacinthia.

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