Irene Behaves Like a Princess
When the princess awoke from the sweetest of sleeps, she found her
nurse bending over her, the housekeeper looking over the nurse's
shoulder, and the laundry- maid looking over the housekeeper's.
The room was full of women-servants; and the gentlemen-at-arms,
with a long column of servants behind them, were peeping, or trying
to peep in at the door of the nursery.
'Are those horrid creatures gone?' asked the princess, remembering
first what had terrified her in the morning.
'You naughty, naughty little princess!' cried Lootie.
Her face was very pale, with red streaks in it, and she looked as
if she were going to shake her; but Irene said nothing - only
waited to hear what should come next.
'How could you get under the clothes like that, and make us all
fancy you were lost! And keep it up all day too! You are the most
obstinate child! It's anything but fun to us, I can tell you!'
It was the only way the nurse could account for her disappearance.
'I didn't do that, Lootie,' said Irene, very quietly.
'Don't tell stories!' cried her nurse quite rudely.
'I shall tell you nothing at all,' said Irene.
'That's just as bad,' said the nurse.
'Just as bad to say nothing at all as to tell stories?' exclaimed
the princess. 'I will ask my papa about that. He won't say so.
And I don't think he will like you to say so.'
'Tell me directly what you mean by it!' screamed the nurse, half
wild with anger at the princess and fright at the possible
consequences to herself.
'When I tell you the truth, Lootie,' said the princess, who somehow
did not feel at all angry, 'you say to me "Don't tell stories": it
seems I must tell stories before you will believe me.'
'You are very rude, princess,' said the nurse.
'You are so rude, Lootie, that I will not speak to you again till
you are sorry. Why should I, when I know you will not believe me?'
returned the princess. For she did know perfectly well that if she
were to tell Lootie what she had been about, the more she went on
to tell her, the less would she believe her.
'You are the most provoking child!' cried her nurse. 'You deserve
to be well punished for your wicked behaviour.'
'Please, Mrs Housekeeper,' said the princess, 'will you take me to
your room, and keep me till my king-papa comes? I will ask him to
come as soon as he can.'
Every one stared at these words. Up to this moment they had all
regarded her as little more than a baby.
But the housekeeper was afraid of the nurse, and sought to patch
matters up, saying:
'I am sure, princess, nursie did not mean to be rude to you.'
'I do not think my papa would wish me to have a nurse who spoke to
me as Lootie does. If she thinks I tell lies, she had better
either say so to my papa, or go away. Sir Walter, will you take
charge of me?'
'With the greatest of pleasure, princess,' answered the captain of
the gentlemen-at-arms, walking with his great stride into the room.
The crowd of servants made eager way for him, and he bowed low
before the little princess's bed. 'I shall send my servant at
once, on the fastest horse in the stable, to tell your king-papa
that Your Royal Highness desires his presence. When you have
chosen one of these under-servants to wait upon you, I shall order
the room to be cleared.'
'Thank you very much, Sir Walter,' said the princess, and her eye
glanced towards a rosy-cheeked girl who had lately come to the
house as a scullery-maid.
But when Lootie saw the eyes of her dear princess going in search
of another instead of her, she fell upon her knees by the bedside,
and burst into a great cry of distress.
'I think, Sir Walter,' said the princess, 'I will keep Lootie. But
I put myself under your care; and you need not trouble my king-papa
until I speak to you again. Will you all please to go away? I am
quite safe and well, and I did not hide myself for the sake either
of amusing myself, or of troubling my people. Lootie, will you
please to dress me.'