The prince looked into her face, and said gently:
"Thy son is well and hath not lost his wits, good dame. Comfort thee; let me to the palace where he is, and straightway will the king my father restore him to thee."
"The king thy father! Oh, my child! unsay these words that be freighted with death for thee, and ruin for all that be near to thee. Shake off this gruesome dream. Call back thy poor wandering memory. Look upon me. Am not I thy mother that bore thee, and loveth thee?"
The prince shook his head, and reluctantly said:
"God knoweth I am loath to grieve thy heart; but truly have I never looked upon thy face before."
The woman sank back to a sitting posture on the floor, and, covering her eyes with her hands, gave way to heartbroken sobs and wailings.
"Let the show go on!" shouted Canty. "What, Nan! what, Bet! Mannerless wenches! will ye stand in the prince's presence? Upon your knees, ye pauper scum, and do him reverence!"
He followed this with another horse-laugh. The girls began to plead timidly for their brother; and Nan said: