On a clear, frosty day of the twentieth winter of her life, the beautiful Queen Anitta sat in her sledge enveloped in ermine, and inhaled the air with smiles of satisfaction. Before and behind her a retinue of attendants made a brilliant parade of gay trappings and many-colored garments, which contrasted finely with the white snow over which they flew.
The young queen had almost everything in the world to make her happy. The king gratified her every wish, as far as it was possible to do so; her people always received her with acclamations; when she was tired of living in one palace she could go to another. It follows, then, as a natural consequence, that she was happy.
By no means. She had one wish that had never been gratified, and never would be; for whereas the king delighted in dogs and horses, her great pleasure was in little children, and of these she had none. Now it might seem, at first blush, that queens are the last persons in the world to possess such tastes. It is generally understood that they spend their lives, during the day, sitting on thrones, with golden crowns on their heads, which serve them at night as luxurious nightcaps, and act as constant reminders that the heads that wear them are heads of no common sort. It is true we have the highest authority for the fact that there once existed on earth a queen who went into the kitchen, like other mortals, to eat bread and honey, while the king counted out his money in the parlor. But such queens are rare, and so is the queen of our story, who actually fancied that even on the stately floors of palaces the patter of little feet would be musical.