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The Flower’s Story
by [?]

Some people were very angry at this, and told the King. But he only said: “Don’t trouble me. Her Majesty will do as she thinks best; and my sons will obey her as if they were her own.” So nothing could be done; and the gentle boys sat at the Queen’s feet, while the vain little girls rustled and smiled and tossed their heads on the high seats where they did not belong.

This was the beginning of sad times for the Princes; for the new mother wanted them out of the way that she might reign when the King died. She dared not send them away so soon; but she ordered them to live quietly with their tutors and servants in a lonely part of the palace, and never allowed them to come to the feasts, the hunting-parties, or any of the splendid shows with which she amused the people. Since their father did not object, the boys obeyed, and amused themselves by working among the flowers with old Adam, the gardener, who taught them many curious, useful, and beautiful things about trees and plants. They also learned to play and sing, and often sat in the summer evenings making music with their little lutes sweeter than that of the nightingales in the rose-bushes, or the court concerts, where the bad Queen and the proud Princesses sat in all their splendor. The boys studied and grew wise with the teachers, who loved them; but as time went by they began to long for more freedom and pleasure, when the horns blew and all the great people rode away to hunt the deer or fly their falcons. They begged the Queen to let them see their father; but when she saw what handsome, tall lads they were growing she was more anxious than ever to get rid of them, and in the night she sent her soldiers to take them to the tower, where they were shut up in a high room, with only bread and water to live on,–no books, no friends, no freedom; for no one knew where they were, because the Queen told the father that they had run away, and when he had sent some people to look for them he troubled himself no more about the matter.

So they lived for a year all alone in the tower; but they were not very unhappy, for the sun smiled in at them, birds built nests in the ivy that covered the gray walls, and the wind sang them to sleep as it roared or whispered round their high room. They loved and cheered each other, and kept up their courage till one day no bread and water was put in at the little wicket of the door. For three days no food came, and then they knew that the wicked Queen meant to starve them to death. People thought them lost; and all but the few who were faithful forgot the Princes and obeyed the Queen, who now ruled over them like a tyrant, while her daughters grew more proud and selfish every day, and the old King slept most of the time, careless of everything but his ease.

“Now, brother, we must escape, for it is plain that no one will help us; so we will help ourselves,” said Purple bravely, resolving not to starve to death to please a cruel stepmother.

“We will,” cried Plush; “but how can we get out of this high tower with no ladder?”

“We will make one. I’ve often planned it all, but thought it our duty to obey. Now it is right to take care of ourselves, and try to reach our father if we can. Let us braid ropes of the straw of our beds, the blankets and sheets, and as many of our clothes as we can spare. All these will not make a ladder long enough to reach the ground; but it will carry us down to where the ivy branches are strong, and from there we can climb safely to the bottom. We will go by night and find good old Adam. He will feed and help us and tell us what to do.”