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Chapter 1

What! No Children?

Once upon a time, so long ago that I have quite forgotten the date, there lived a king and queen who had no children.

And the king said to himself, “All the queens of my acquaintance have children, some three, some seven, and some as many as twelve; and my queen has not one. I feel ill-used.” So he made up his mind to be cross with his wife about it. But she bore it all like a good patient queen as she was. Then the king grew very cross indeed. But the queen pretended to take it all as a joke, and a very good one too.

“Why don’t you have any daughters, at least?” said he. “I don’t say sons; that might be too much to expect.”

“I am sure, dear king, I am very sorry,” said the queen.

“So you ought to be,” retorted the king; “you are not going to make a virtue of that, surely.”

But he was not an ill-tempered king, and in any matter of less moment would have let the queen have her own way with all his heart. This, however, was an affair of state.

The queen smiled.

“You must have patience with a lady, you know, dear king,” said she.

She was, indeed, a very nice queen, and heartily sorry that she could not oblige the king immediately.

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