The Yellow Dwarf
"I can tell you all you want to know better than she could. The Queen, your mother, has promised you in marriage----"
"Has promised ME!" interrupted the Princess. "Oh! no. I'm sure she has not. She would have told me if she had. I am too much interested in the matter for her to promise anything without my consent--you must be mistaken."
"Beautiful Princess," cried the Dwarf suddenly, throwing himself on his knees before her, "I flatter myself that you will not be displeased at her choice when I tell you that it is to ME she has promised the happiness of marrying you."
"You!" cried Bellissima, starting back. "My mother wishes me to marry you! How can you be so silly as to think of such a thing?"
"Oh! it isn't that I care much to have that honor," cried the Dwarf angrily; "but here are the lions coming; they'll eat you up in three mouthfuls, and there will be an end of you and your pride."
And, indeed, at that moment the poor Princess heard their dreadful howls coming nearer and nearer.
"What shall I do?" she cried. "Must all my happy days come to an end like this?"
The malicious Dwarf looked at her and began to laugh spitefully. "At least," said he, "you have the satisfaction of dying unmarried. A lovely Princess like you must surely prefer to die rather than be the wife of a poor little dwarf like myself."
"Oh, don't be angry with me," cried the Princess, clasping her hands. "I'd rather marry all the dwarfs in the world than die in this horrible way."
"Look at me well, Princess, before you give me your word," said he. "I don't want you to promise me in a hurry."
"Oh!" cried she, "the lions are coming. I have looked at you enough. I am so frightened. Save me this minute, or I shall die of terror.
Indeed, as she spoke she fell down insensible, and when she recovered she found herself in her own little bed at home; how she got there she could not tell, but she was dressed in the most beautiful lace and ribbons, and on her finger was a little ring, made of a single red hair, which fitted so tightly that, try as she might, she could not get it off.