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Many suitors loved Princess Bellissima, but she rejected them all. The queen consulted the Fairy of the Desert, but she fell victim to the evil witch's power and promised Bellissima to the Yellow Dwarf, the witch's ally. Bellissima, not knowing this, also consulted the witch, encountered the dwarf, and learned she was to marry him. Hoping to escape this terrible fate, Bellissima agreed to marry the King of the Gold Mines. He was overjoyed, and Bellissima fell truly in love with him. The witch and dwarf came to the wedding and, in a violent confrontation, the dwarf kidnapped Bellissima.
The witch then disguised herself as a beautiful woman and tried to seduce the king. He saw through the disguise (the witch still had griffin's feet), but he flew away with her, hoping to rescue Bellissima. From the sky he saw Bellissima imprisoned by the dwarf; Bellissima, meanwhile, saw the king with a beautiful woman and thought herself betrayed.
The king lived with the witch by the seashore until a mermaid helped him to escape, leaving a corpse made of seaweed in his place. She took him to the dwarf's castle and gave him a sword, warning him to never let it fall from his hand. Meanwhile, the witch was fooled by the seaweed corpse and mourned her dead lover.
The king killed the monsters and nymphs guarding the dwarf's castle and found Bellissima. After he explained about the witch's disguise, they pledged their love anew. At that moment, the king dropped the sword and the Yellow Dwarf discovered them, threatening to kill the king unless Bellissima married him. Bellissima said she would rather die, so the dwarf killed the king and Bellissima instantly died of grief. The mermaid turned the unhappy lovers into two palm trees with interlacing branches.
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"We must not waste time in talking," said she. "Come with me and I will carry you to the Castle of Steel, and we will leave upon this shore a figure so like you that even the Fairy herself will be deceived by it." So saying, she quickly collected a bundle of sea-weed, and, blowing it three times, she said, "My friendly seaweeds, I order you to stay here stretched upon the sand until the Fairy of the Desert comes to take you away." And at once the seaweeds became like the King, who stood looking at them in great astonishment, for they were even dressed in a coat like his, but they lay there pale and still as the King himself might have lain if one of the great waves had overtaken him and thrown him senseless upon the shore. And then the Mermaid caught up the King, and away they swam joyfully together.