Then the fairies took the little Princess on their knees, and kissed her and hugged her because she was so good and beautiful. Each fairy wished her a good quality. One wished her to be wise; another wished that she might be good; another wished her to be virtuous; another to be beautiful; another to possess a good fortune; and the fifth asked for her a long life and good health. Then came the last, and she wished that Desiree might obtain all that she herself could ever wish for.

The Queen thanked them a hundred times for all the good things they had given her little daughter, and, while she was doing so, all gave a sudden start, for the door opened and a tremendous Crayfish - so large that it could hardly get through the door - came in, waving its feelers in the air.

'O ungrateful Queen!' said the Crayfish, 'you did not trouble to ask me here. Is it possible that you have so soon forgotten the Fairy of the Fountain and the good services I did in taking you to my sisters. Why, you have invited all of them, and I am the only one forgotten.'

The Queen was terribly upset at her error, and begged the Fairy to forgive her. She hastened to assure her that she had not for a moment forgotten her great obligation to her; and she begged her not to go back on her friendship, and particularly to be good to the little Princess.

The others thought that the Fairy of the Fountain would wish evil to the baby Princess, so they said to her: 'Dear sister, do not be cross with the Queen; she is good and never would offend you.'

Now, as the Fairy of the Fountain liked to be spoken to nicely, this softened her a little, and she said:

'Very well, I will not wish her all the harm I was going to; I will lessen it a little. But take care that she never sees the light of day until she is fifteen, or she and you will have reason to regret it. That is all I have to say.' Then, suddenly changing into the little old woman with the white hair and shepherdess dress, she pirouetted through the wall, staff in hand. And the cries of the Queen and the prayers of the good fairies did not matter a bit.

The Queen begged the other fairies to avert the terrible catastrophe, and besought them to tell her what to do. They consulted together, and at last told the Queen that they would build a palace without any windows or doors, and with an underground passage, so that the Princess's food could be brought to her. And she was to be kept there until she was fifteen.

Then, with a wave of their wands, they made a lovely, pure-white marble castle spring up, and, inside of this, all the chairs were made of jewels, and even the floors were no different. And here the little Princess dwelt and grew up a good and beautiful child, possessing all the good qualities that her fairy godmothers had wished for her; and from time to time they came to see how she was getting on. But, of all the fairy godmothers, Tulip was the favourite. She reminded the Queen never to forget the warning not to allow the Princess to see the light of day, lest the terrible fate that the Fairy of the Fountain had laid upon her would surely come to pass. The Queen, of course, promised never to forget so important a matter.

Now, just as her little daughter was nearing the age of fifteen, the Queen had her portrait taken and sent to all the great courts of the world. And so it happened that one Prince, when he saw it, took it and shut it up in his cabinet and talked to the portrait as though it was the Princess herself in the flesh.

The courtiers heard him and went and told his father that his son had gone mad, and that he was shut up in his room, talking all day long to something or somebody who wasn't there.

The King immediately sent for his son and told him what the courtiers had said about him; then he asked him if it was true, and what had come over him to act like this.

The Prince thought this a favourable opportunity, so he threw himself at the feet of the King and said:

'You have resolved, sire, to marry me to the Black Princess, but I love the Princess Desiree.'

'You have not seen her,' said the King. 'How can you love her?'

'Neither have I seen the Black Princess, but I have both their portraits,' replied the Warrior Prince (he was so named because he had won three great battles), 'but I assure you that I have such a love for the Princess Desiree, that if you do not withdraw your word to the Black Princess and allow me to have Desiree, I shall die, and I shall be very glad to do so if I am unable to have the Princess I love.'

'It is to her portrait, then, that you have been speaking?' said the King. 'My son, you have made yourself the laughing-stock of the whole court. They think you are mad.'

'You would be as much struck as I am if you saw her portrait,' replied the Prince firmly.

'Fetch it and show it to me, then,' said the King, equally firmly.

The Prince went, and returned with the Princess's portrait as requested; and the King was so struck with her beauty that he gave the Prince leave there and then to marry her, and promised to withdraw his word from the other Princess.

'My dear Warrior,' said he, 'I should love to have so beautiful a Princess in my court.'

The Prince kissed his father's hand and bowed his knee, for he could not conceal his joy. He begged the King to send a messenger not only to the Black Princess but also to Princess Desiree; and he hoped that in regard to his own Princess, he would choose a man who would prove the most capable; and he must be rich, because this was a special occasion and called for all the elaborate preparation it was possible to show in such a diplomatic mission.

The King's choice fell on Prince Becafigue; he was a young Prince who spoke eloquently, and he possessed five millions of money. And, beside this, he loved the Warrior Prince very dearly.

When the messenger was taking his leave the Prince said to him: