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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andrew Lang > Fairy tale "Prince Vivien and the Princess Placida"

Prince Vivien and the Princess Placida

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'I shall have died of starvation by the time all that is done,' said the Prince ruefully.

'Patience, patience,' said the old woman looking at him with her slow gentle smile, 'I can't be hurried. "All things come at last to him who waits;" you must have heard that often.'

Prince Vivien was wild with aggravation, but there was nothing to be done.

'Come then,' said the old woman, 'you shall hold the lamp to light me while I pick the peas.'

The Prince in his haste snatched it up so quickly that it went out, and it took him a long time to light it again with two little bits of glowing charcoal which he had to dig out from the pile of ashes upon the hearth. However, at last the peas were gathered and shelled, and the fire lighted, but then they had to be carefully counted, since the old woman declared that she would cook fifty- four, and no more. In vain did the Prince represent to her that he was famished--that fifty-four peas would go no way towards satisfying his hunger--that a few peas, more or less, surely could not matter. It was quite useless, in the end he had to count out the fifty-four, and worse than that, because he dropped one or two in his hurry, he had to begin again from the very first, to be sure the number was complete. As soon as they were cooked the old dame took a pair of scales and a morsel of bread from the cupboard, and was just about to divide it when Prince Vivien, who really could wait no longer, seized the whole piece and ate it up, saying in his turn, 'Patience.'

'You mean that for a joke,' said the old woman, as gently as ever, 'but that is really my name, and some day you will know more about me.'

Then they each ate their twenty-seven peas, and the Prince was surprised to find that he wanted nothing more, and he slept as sweetly upon his bed of straw as he had ever done in his palace.

In the morning the old woman gave him milk and bread for his breakfast, which he ate contentedly, rejoicing that there was nothing to be gathered, or counted, or cooked, and when he had finished he begged her to tell him who she was.

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