The princess was delighted to see her foster-brother again, and after some conversation she confided to him all her history and the cause of her imprisonment.
"If what you tell me, Princess, is indeed the case, I do not despair of finding comfort for you.
He was well entertained, and in the evening was taken to the chamber next to the one where the princesses lay in their twelve beds.
'I hardly know where I am going, or what I had better do,' said the soldier; 'but I think I should like very well to find out where it is that the princesses dance, and then in time I might be a king.' 'Well,' said the old dame, 'that is no very hard task: only take care not to drink any of the wine which one of the princesses will bring to you in the evening; and as soon as she leaves you pretend to be fast asleep.'
'If you speak truth, my lord,' replied the Princess, 'restore to me the liberty you have deprived me of.
The Princess, who expected to be quite alone, was pleased at finding herself surrounded by a number of pretty girls, all anxious to wait on her, whilst a brilliantly-coloured parrot said the most agreeable things in the world.
"I will still hope that it is not a real bird," said the Princess.
"Well then let the bird fly," said the Princess; and she positively refused to see the Prince.
and a fresh crowd dashed into the hall, almost carrying the princess off her legs.
"Ah, princess! that was something like!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, suddenly appearing in the middle of the crowd and beaming upon them with a delighted smile.
They've been telling tales," he thought- referring to the little princess who was not in the dining room.
The little princess was not unwell, but had such an overpowering fear of the prince that, hearing he was in a bad humor, she had decided not to appear.