A certain heat running through her, she set her pretty teeth and fell to pelting the pea-hens and chicks mischievously, breaking up all their aristocratic reserve and making them jump and squeak to some purpose. For this precious, this very masterpiece of a drama was not only here potentially, but actually. It was alive.
Before long he arrived and laid down on his bed, and was soon fast asleep. Towards midnight there was a rush of wings, and the eight pea-hens settled on the tree, while the ninth became a maiden, and ran to greet the prince.
It was, indeed, the most beautiful stew in the world, being made of partridges, and pheasants, and chickens, and hares, and rabbits, and pea-hens, and guinea-fowls, and one or two other things. Toad took the plate on his lap, almost crying, and stuffed, and stuffed, and stuffed, and kept asking for more, and the gipsy never grudged it him.
He had caused a special house to be built for it in a secluded portion of his garden, with a swimming-bath carved out of a solid block of African marble. Its feeding trough was made of gold, and capons and pea-hens were specially fattened for its delectation.
"Yes: I could not help thinking of that to-day," said Gerard, "when he questioned me with his mincing voice and pulled the wool with his cursed white hands and showed it to his dame, who touched it with her little finger; and his daughters who tossed their heads like pea-hens Lady Joan and Lady Maud. Lady Joan and Lady Maud!" repeated Gerard in a voice of bitter sarcasm.
When he had recovered from his surprise at the unexpected disappearance of the maiden, the prince exclaimed, 'What can be the matter? and, looking about him, discovered the old witch hidden under the bed. He dragged her out, and in his fury called his guards, and ordered them to put her to death as fast as possible. But that did no good as far as the pea-hens went.
At the same moment nine golden pea-hens flew swiftly through the air, and while eight alighted upon the boughs laden with fruit, the ninth fluttered to the ground where the prince lay, and instantly was changed into a beautiful maiden, more beautiful far than any lady in the emperor's court.
You must remember the Green Lane, as we call it, that runs by the side of the wood-house and poultry-yard where I keep my bantams, pheasants, and pea-hens, which generally engage my notice twice a day; the more my favourites because they were my grandfather's, and recommended to my care by him; and therefore brought hither from my Dairy-house since his death.
From either side also came strange sounds the shrill call of pea-hens, the cooing of pigeons, high above all of which was the pertinacious chattering of monkeys, while parrots and other gaily-coloured birds flew from bough to bough, and gigantic butterflies with brilliant wings skimmed over the surface of the stream.