The fairy Queen was sitting in the Council Chamber of her Palace, hearing various charges against the fairies, and deciding on their punishments. Only one case remained to be heard.
"Fairy Pinktoes!" called the Queen.
"Here, your majesty!" said a very timid little voice, as a tiny fairy with drooping head stepped forward.
"What is the charge?" demanded the queen.
"Sneezing, your Majesty!" stated the High Chamberlain, in a horrified tone of voice.
"Sneezing!" ecchoed the Queen. "Disgraceful!"
(In Fairyland, of course, sneezing is a very serious offence because the fairy who sneezes gives other fairies her cold and then they snuffle and their noses get red-and even a fairy doesn't look very pretty with a red nose! So, when a fairy has a cold, and feels a sneeze coming, she bites her tongue and tries as hard as ever she can to keep it in.)
"P-p-please, your Majesty, I c-c-couldn't h-help it," sobbed Pinktoes.
"But you MUST help it," said the Queen sternly. "Sneezing is a VERY serious crime. You might give your cold to all sorts of fairies. Good gracious! You might give it to ME!"
"I d-d-did try not to," snuffled Pinktoes, "but---"
She stopped, and a look of horror came into her eyes. She waved her arms madly, and made horrible faces.
"Whatever is the matter?!" cried the Queen in alarm. "Goodness!" she shrieked, "she's going to sneeze again!"
You never saw such a rush as there was for the door. The Queen picked up her robes, and elbowed her way out with her crown tilted over her left ear, and all the other fairies pushed and squeezed and scrambled after her. And they got out just in time. As the last fairy tumbled into the corridor and the doors were slammed, Pinktoes was heard to give a sort gurgling gasp (or gasping gurgle). Then, as everybody listened, she sneezed: