The Pigeon's Bride - The Story of a Princess Who Kissed and Told
The Princess reached out her hand and the bird, instead of taking fright, allowed her to stroke its gleaming neck. Then she took it gently in her hands and fondled it to her bosom, kissing its bill and smoothing its plumage with her lips.
"You beautiful thing!" she cried. "How I love you!"
"If you really love me," the Pigeon said, "have a bowl of milk here at this same hour to-morrow and then we'll see what we'll see."
With that the bird spread its wings and flew out the western window.
The Princess was so excited that for the rest of the afternoon she forgot her embroidery.
"Did the Pigeon really speak?" she asked herself as she stood staring out the western window, "or have I been dreaming?"
The next day when she climbed the winding stairs she went slowly for she carried in her hands a brimming bowl of milk.
"Of course it won't come again!" she said, and she made herself sit down quietly before the embroidery frame and work just as though she expected nothing.
But exactly at the same hour as the day before there was a flutter of wings at the eastern window, the sound of a gentle coo! coo! and there was the Pigeon ready to be loved and caressed.
"You beautiful creature!" the Princess cried, kissing its coral beak and smoothing its neck with her lips, "how I love you! And see, I have brought you the bowl of milk that you asked for!"
The bird flew over to the bowl, poised for a moment on its brim, then splashed into the milk as though to take a bath.
The Princess laughed and clapped her hands and then, as she looked, she saw a strange thing happen. The bird's feathers opened like a shirt and out of the feather shirt stepped a handsome youth.
(You remember I told you how surprised the Princess was going to be. And you're surprised, too, aren't you?)
He was so handsome that all the Princess could say was, "Oh!"
He came slowly towards her and knelt before her.
"Dear Princess," he said, "do not be frightened. If it had not been for your sweet words yesterday when you said you loved me I should never have been able to leave this feather shirt.