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The Playmates
by [?]

There was once a Prince and he was very lonely, because he had no sisters or brothers in the palace with whom to play. And one day his father and mother, the King and Queen, decided that they would send to some neighboring Kingdoms to borrow a little Princess, who should come and live at the palace, and be the sister and the playmate of the Prince.

So they sent for one of the Court Messengers, and then they called the Prince to tell him that he was going to have a little Princess to be his playmate.

They talked the matter over with the Court Wise-Man that the Messenger might understand just what sort of little Princess he should bring, and make no mistake about it.

“She must be sweet tempered,” said the King.

“And I should like her to have blue eyes and yellow hair and curls,” said the Queen.

“And if I may be so bold as to make a suggestion,” said the Court Wise-Man, “she should be rich, for she and the Prince will need a great many new toys.”

They never thought to ask the Prince what his choice of a little Princess would be. But the Prince did not wait to be asked.

“I want only a little Princess who can make molasses pop-corn balls,” he said.

The King and the Queen and the Court Wise-Man were aghast at this. They knew that the Prince was very fond of molasses pop-corn balls, but the palace Cook always made him some every Saturday morning, enough to last a whole week. But the Prince went on, and explained.

“The Princess who comes to play with me must be able to do what I want her to, and I want her to make my pop-corn balls fresh every day. Don’t bring any Princess who can’t,” he said.

So they all knew that the matter was decided, for the Prince had a very strong mind of his own. The Court Messenger started out to find a little Princess who was sweet tempered, and had blue eyes, and yellow hair that curled, and was rich, and knew how to make molasses pop-corn balls.

He thought that he would find the right Princess overnight, but it came to be weeks and weeks and she was still as far away as ever. The Princesses who were sweet tempered were apt to have brown hair and hazel eyes, and if there was a sweet tempered one with blue eyes and yellow hair that curled she belonged in a Kingdom where there was very little money. And none of the Princesses had even so much as heard of molasses pop-corn balls. The Court Messenger grew so worried that he could neither eat nor sleep, but one day as he wandered about in foreign places he smelled something like molasses boiling. He followed the odor and he came to a rich appearing palace. In he went, without waiting to knock, and beside the kitchen fireplace he discovered a Princess with blue eyes and yellow hair that curled. She was stirring molasses in a kettle with one hand, and shaking a corn popper with the other.

“What are you making?” begged the Messenger in great excitement.

“Molasses pop-corn balls,” said the little Princess.

“Are you sweet tempered?” asked the Messenger.

“I never cry, or scold,” said the little Princess.

“Then come with me and be the Prince’s playmate,” said the Messenger. “We must have a Princess who will make him pop-corn balls every day.”

The little Princess looked up in surprise. “Can the Prince play to me on a jews-harp?” she asked.

“I do not think his Highness can,” said the Messenger.

“Then I can’t go with you,” said the little Princess. “I will go only to a Prince who can play on a jews-harp.”

“I won’t learn to play on a jews-harp,” said the little Prince when they told him about it.

So he was without a sister and a playmate, and every day he grew more lonely and more unhappy. But he thought a great deal and at last he said:

“I should like to have that little Princess very much. Will you ask her if she will come if she does not have to make molasses pop-corn balls?”

Now, all this time, the Princess had been thinking too. When the Court Messenger gave her the Prince’s message, she smiled and said she would come. “The Prince need not play to me on a jews-harp if he does not want to,” she said.

So they packed her clothes in ten trunks, and she rode in a gold chariot to the palace of the Prince. The doors were opened wide to greet her, and through them came the sound of the merriest music. The Princess clasped her hands in happiness.

Who is playing the jews-harp?” she asked. “I am so fond of one.”

Just then the Prince came in. It had been he who was playing. He had learned how for her pleasure.

“What are you carrying in that basket?” he asked of the little Princess.

“Some molasses pop-corn balls that I made for you,” she said. “And I will make you some to-morrow, dear Prince.”