So the youngest peahen came down from the tree, and the Prince laid his heart bare for her beak; but the bird could not find the will to peck it out. And so it was the next night, and the next, until eight nights were gone.
So at last only one peahen was left. At midnight she raised her head, saying, "Sisters, are you awake?"
They all turned, and gazed at her weeping, but could say no word.
Then she said, "You have all failed, having all tried but me. Now if I fail we shall remain mute and captive for ever, more undone by the loss of our last remaining gift of speech than we were at first. But I tell you, dear sisters, I will not fail; for the happiness of you all lies with me now!"
Then she went softly down the tree; and one by one they all went following her, and weeping, to see what the end would be.
They stood some way apart, watching with upturned heads, and their poor throats began catching back a wish to cry as the little peahen, the last of the sisters, came and stoo