The Tree in the Rotunda
Rosalie admired all the flowers very much but she waited with some impatience for the prince to remove the cloth which enveloped this mysterious tree. He left the green-house, however, without having spoken of it.
"What then, my prince, is this tree which is so carefully concealed?"
"It is the wedding present which I destined for you but you cannot see it until your fifteenth birthday," said the prince, gayly.
"But what is it that shines so brilliantly under the cloth?" said she, importunately.
"You will know all in a few days, Rosalie, and I flatter myself that you will not find my present a common affair."
"And can I not see it before my birthday?"
"No, Rosalie; the queen of the fairies has forbidden me, under heavy penalties, to show it to you until after you become my wife. I do hope that you love me enough to control your curiosity till that time."
These last words made Rosalie tremble, for they recalled to her the little gray mouse and the misfortunes which menaced her as well as her father, if she allowed herself to fall under the temptation, which, without doubt, her enemy the fairy Detestable had placed before her. She spoke no more of the mysterious case, and continued her walk with the prince. The day passed most agreeably. The prince presented her to the ladies of his court and commanded them to honor and respect in her the princess Rosalie, whom the queen of the fairies had selected as his bride. Rosalie was very amiable to every one and they all rejoiced in the idea of having so charming and lovely a queen.
The following days were passed in every species of festivity. The prince and Rosalie both saw with joyous hearts the approach of the birth-day which was to be also that of their marriage:—the prince, because he tenderly loved his cousin, and Rosalie because she loved the prince, because she desired strongly to see her father again, and also because she hoped to see what the case in the rotunda contained. She thought of this incessantly. She dreamed of it during the night and whenever she was alone she could with difficulty restrain herself from rushing to the green-house to try to discover the secret.