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The Ugly Princess

There was once a king who had an only daughter, and she was so very ugly and deformed that, when she rode through the streets of Alcantara, the children ran away, thinking she was a witch.

Her father, however, thought her the most lovely creature in his kingdom; and as all the courtiers agreed with him, and the Court poet was always singing her praises, the princess had been led to believe what most ladies like to believe; and as she was expecting a prince from a distant country, who was coming expressly to marry her, she had ordered many rich dresses which only made her look uglier.

The city of Alcantara was ready to receive Prince Alanbam, who was going to espouse the Princess Altamira.

Crowds thronged the streets, martial music was heard everywhere, and in the public square a splendid throne had been erected for the king, Princess Altamira, and Prince Alanbam.

Around the throne were formed large bodies of well-equipped cavalry, dark visaged warriors clad in white and gold, and mounted on superb Arab steeds.

Behind the king, on his left side, stood the royal barber with his retinue of apprentices; and on his right side was seen Nabó the headsman, a nigger of gigantic stature, with his implement of office, an axe, over his shoulder.

Seated on the steps of the throne were a number of musicians, and below these a guard of honour, composed of foot soldiers dressed in short vests, called “aljubas,” and wide lower garments, and with their aljavas, or quivers, full of bright arrows.

From the throne the king could see the splendid bridge on six pillars, built by Trajan, along which a brilliant cavalcade was proceeding, namely, the procession formed by Prince Alanbam and his retainers.

As soon as the prince, after saluting the king, beheld the princess, he turned pale, for he had never seen any one so ugly; and however much he might have desired to keep up an appearance of courtesy to the princess before her father’s subjects, he could not kiss her as she expected him to do, nor could he be persuaded to occupy the chair reserved for him beside the princess.

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