The Seven Pigeons
At every step the surroundings became more magnificent, and the carved ceiling was of such exquisite workmanship that it seemed rather the work of the loom, being so like the finest lace, than of the sculptor.
At last he arrived at the end of this avenue of columns, and noticing a door in front of him, he opened it, and found himself standing on a marble quay, against which the sea waves were washing.
Scanning the vast expanse of water before him, he observed approaching him the same beautiful ship he had seen in the morning.
When the ship came alongside the quay, a sailor sprung on shore, and made her fast by a golden cable; then, addressing Pedro, he said—
“I am glad you have not kept us waiting, for our royal mistress is very wishful to consult you, as one of her favourite doves has broken its right wing, and if you cannot cure it, the princess will die of starvation.”
Pedro made no reply, but stepped on board the ship, which soon got under way, and within a short time they were approaching the coast he knew so well.
Having landed, Pedro saw the princess seated on the sand, nursing one of her white pigeons.
“Pedro of Aragon,” the princess exclaimed, “a stranger dared to enter my royal father’s garden, and in assisting to water the pinks he trod on the wing of my favourite pigeon, and he has broken it.”
“Señora,” replied Pedro, “the intruder did probably seek you, and had no idea of hurting the lovely bird.”
“That matters not,” continued the princess, “for my principal supporter is wounded, and you must cure her. Cut out my heart, and steep this bird in my warm blood, and when I am dead throw my body into the sea.”
“How can I kill one so lovely?” asked Pedro. “I would rather die myself than hurt you!”
“Then you do not care for me, or else you would do as I bid you,” answered the princess.
“Princess, I cannot and will not kill you; but I will do anything else you bid me,” said Pedro.
“Well, then, since you will not kill me, I order you to take this pigeon back with you; for I know it was you who walked in my father’s garden to-day,” continued the princess.