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Title: Four and Twenty Fairy Tales
       Selected From Those of Perrault, and other Popular Writers

Author: Various

Translator: J. R. Planche

Release Date: August 4, 2016 [EBook #52719]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8

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[Pg ii]

Fairy Tales.


[Pg iii]

frontispiece


[Pg iv]

FOUR AND TWENTY

FAIRY TALES.

SELECTED FROM THOSE OF

PERRAULT, AND OTHER POPULAR WRITERS.

TRANSLATED

By J. R. PLANCHÉ.


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY GODWIN, CORBOULD, AND HARVEY.


LONDON:
G. ROUTLEDGE & CO., FARRINGDON STREET.

NEW YORK: 18, BEEKMAN STREET.

1858.

[This Translation is Copyright.]


[Pg v]

LONDON:
SAVILL AND EDWARDS, PRINTERS, CHANDOS STREET,
COVENT GARDEN.


[Pg vi]

TO

THE AUTHOR

OF

"A TRAP TO CATCH A SUNBEAM,"

THIS VOLUME

Is Inscribed,

BY HER AFFECTIONATE FATHER,

J. R. PLANCHÉ.


[Pg viii]

CONTENTS.

PAGE
PREFACE ix
BLUE BEARD 3
THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD 8
MASTER CAT; OR, PUSS IN BOOTS 17
CINDERELLA; OR, THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER 22
RIQUET WITH THE TUFT 28
LITTLE THUMBLING 35
PERFECT LOVE 47
ANGUILLETTE 75
YOUNG AND HANDSOME 108
THE PALACE OF REVENGE 131
THE PRINCE OF LEAVES 145
THE FORTUNATE PUNISHMENT 163
FAIRER THAN A FAIRY 183
THE GOOD WOMAN 203
THE STORY OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST 225
PRINCESS MINUTE AND KING FLORIDOR 329
THE IMPOSSIBLE ENCHANTMENT 336
BLEUETTE AND COQUELICOT 358
PRINCESS CAMION 375
PRINCESS LIONETTE AND PRINCE COQUERICO 416
PRINCE DÉSIR 477
PRINCE CHÉRI 483
THE WIDOW AND HER TWO DAUGHTERS 494
PRINCE FATAL AND PRINCE FORTUNÉ 498
APPENDIX 509


[Pg x]

PREFACE.

The success attending the publication of a new translation of the Fairy Tales of the Countess d'Aulnoy has justified the publishers in believing that an equally faithful version of some of the most popular stories of her contemporaries and immediate successors, similarly annotated, might meet with as favourable a reception. I have therefore selected twenty-four of the best Fairy Tales, according to my judgment, remaining in the Cabinet des Fées, commencing with those of Charles Perrault, the earliest, and terminating with some of Madame Leprince de Beaumont, the latest French writer of European celebrity in that particular class of literature. Independently of the fact that, with the exception of those of Madame de Beaumont, few if any in the present volume have ever been placed in their integrity before the English reader, I trust that the chronological order I have observed in their arrangement will give them a novel interest in the eyes of those "children of a larger growth," who are not ashamed to confess, with La Fontaine—

Si "Peau d'ane" m'étoit conté
J'y prendrais un plaisir extrême.

Or with the great Reformer, Martin Luther—

[Pg xi]

"I would not for any quantity of gold part with the wonderful tales which I have retained from my earliest childhood or have met with in my progress through life."

The reader will by this arrangement observe, in a clearer way than probably he has yet had an opportunity of doing, the rise, progress, and decline of the genuine Fairy Tale—so thoroughly French in its origin, so specially connected with the age of that "Grand Monarque" whose reign presents us, in the graphic pages of St. Simon and Dangeau, with innumerable pictures of manners and customs, dresses and entertainments, the singularity, magnificence, profusion, and extent of which scarcely require the fancy of a d'Aulnoy to render fabulous. In my introduction to the tales of that "lively and ingenious lady," I have already shown the progress of the popularity of this class of composition; but in the present volume it will be seen how, in the course of little more than half a century, the Fairy Tale, from a fresh, sparkling, simple yet arch version of a legend as old as the monuments of that Celtic race by whom they were introduced into Gaul, became first elaborated into a novel, comprising an ingenious plot, with an amusing exaggeration of the manners of the period; next, inflated into a preposterous and purposeless caricature of its own peculiarities; and finally, denuded of its sportive fancy, its latent humour, and its gorgeous extravagance, subsided into the dull common-place moral story, which, taking less hold of the youthful imagination, was, however laudable in its intention, a very ineffective substitute for the merry monitors it vainly endeavoured to supersede. Too much like a lesson for the child, it was too childish for the man. The Fairies were dismissed in consequence of the incapacity of the writers to employ them; but they were not to be annihilated. They still live [Pg xii] in their own land, to laugh at those mortals who will not laugh with them and learn while they laugh. Modern art may vainly invoke them to perform fresh marvels, but enough power still exists in their old spells to enchant youth, amuse manhood, and resuscitate age; and, despite the hypercritic and the purist, they will continue to exercise their magic influence over the human mind so long as it is capable of appreciating wit, fancy, and good feeling. As Mademoiselle Lheritier wrote two hundred years ago—

Ils ne sont pas aisées à croire,
Mais tant que dans le monde on verra des enfans,
Des mères et des mères-grands
On en gardera la memoire.

[Pg xiii]


[Pg 2]

CHARLES PERRAULT.


[Pg 3]

BLUE BEARD.

Once on a time there was a man who had fine town and country houses, gold and silver plate, embroidered furniture, and coaches gilt all over; but unfortunately, this man had a blue beard, which made him look so ugly and terrible, that there was not a woman or girl who did not run away from him. One of his neighbours, a lady of quality, had two daughters, who were perfectly beautiful. He proposed to marry one of them, leaving her to choose which of the two she would give him. Neither of them would have him; and they sent him from one to the other, not being able to make up their minds to marry a man who had a blue beard. What increased their distaste to him was, that he had had several wives already, and nobody knew what had become of them.

Blue Beard, in order to cultivate their acquaintance, took them, with their mother, three or four of their most intimate friends, and some young persons who resided in the neighbourhood, to one of his country seats, where they passed an entire week. Nothing was thought of but excursions, hunting and fishing, parties, balls, entertainments, collations; nobody went to bed; the whole night was spent in merry games and gambols. In short, all went off so well, that the youngest daughter began to find out that the beard of the master of the house was not as blue as it used to be, and that he was a very worthy man. Immediately upon their return to town the marriage took place. At the end of a month Blue Beard told his wife that he was obliged to take a journey, which would occupy six weeks at least, on a matter of great consequence; that he entreated she would amuse herself as much as she could during his absence; that she [Pg 4] would invite her best friends, take them into the country with her if she pleased, and keep an excellent table everywhere.

"Here," said he to her, "are the keys of my two great store-rooms; these are those of the chests in which the gold and silver plate is kept, that is only used on particular occasions; these are the keys of the strong boxes in which I keep my money; these open the caskets that contain my jewels; and this is the pass-key of all the apartments. As for this little key, it is that of the closet at the end of the long gallery, on the ground floor. Open everything, and go everywhere except into that little closet, which I forbid you to enter, and I forbid you so strictly, that if you should venture to open the door, there is nothing that you may not have to dread from my anger!" She promised to observe implicitly all his directions, and after he had embraced her, he got into his coach and set out on his journey.

The neighbours and friends of the young bride did not wait for her invitation, so eager were they to see all the treasures contained in the mansion, not having ventured to enter it while the husband was at home, so terrified were they at his blue beard. Behold them immediately running through all the rooms, closets, and wardrobes, each apartment exceeding the other in beauty and richness. They ascended afterwards to the store-rooms, where they could not sufficiently admire the number and elegance of the tapestries, the beds, the sofas, the cabinets, the stands,[1] the tables, and the mirrors in which they could see themselves from head to foot, and that had frames some of glass,[2] some of silver, and some of gilt metal, more beautiful and magnificent than had ever been seen. They never ceased enlarging upon and envying the good fortune of their friend, who in the meanwhile was not in the least entertained by the sight of all these treasures, in consequence of her impatience to open the closet on the ground floor.

[Pg 5]

Her curiosity increased to such a degree that, without reflecting how rude it was to leave her company, she ran down a back staircase in such haste that twice or thrice she narrowly escaped breaking her neck. Arrived at the door of the closet, she paused for a moment, bethinking herself of her husband's prohibition, and that some misfortune might befall her for her disobedience; but the temptation was so strong that she could not conquer it. She therefore took the little key and opened, tremblingly, the door of the closet. At first she could discern nothing, the windows being closed; after a short time she began to perceive that the floor was all covered with clotted blood, in which were reflected the dead bodies of several females suspended against the walls. These were all the wives of Blue Beard, who had cut their throats one after the other. She was ready to die with fright, and the key of the closet, which she had withdrawn from the lock, fell from her hand. After recovering her senses a little, she picked up the key, locked the door again, and went up to her chamber to compose herself; but she could not succeed, so greatly was she agitated. Having observed that the key of the closet was stained with blood, she wiped it two or three times, but the blood would not come off. In vain she washed it, and even scrubbed it with sand and free-stone, the blood was still there, for the key was enchanted, and there were no means of cleaning it completely: when the blood was washed off one side, it came back on the other.

Blue Beard returned that very evening, and said that he had received letters on the road informing him that the business on which he was going had been settled to his advantage. His wife did all she could to persuade him that she was delighted at his speedy return. The next morning he asked her for his keys again; she gave them to him; but her hand trembled so, that he had not much difficulty in guessing what had occurred. "How comes it," said he, "that the key of the closet is not with the others?" "I must have left it," she replied, "upstairs on my table." "Fail not," said Blue Beard, "to give it me presently." After several excuses, she was compelled to produce the key. Blue Beard having examined it, said to his wife, "Why is there some blood on this key?" "I don't know," answered the poor wife, paler than death. "You don't know?" rejoined Blue Beard. "I [Pg 6] know well enough. You must needs enter the closet. Well, madam, you shall enter it, and go take your place amongst the ladies you saw there." She flung herself at her husband's feet, weeping and begging his pardon, with all the signs of true repentance for having disobeyed him. Her beauty and affliction might have melted a rock, but Blue Beard had a heart harder than a rock. "You must die, madam," said he, "and immediately." "If I must die," she replied, looking at him with streaming eyes, "give me a little time to say my prayers." "I give you half a quarter of an hour," answered Blue Beard, "but not a minute more." As soon as he had left her, she called her sister, and said to her, "Sister Anne" (for so she was named), "go up, I pray thee, to the top of the tower, and see if my brothers are not coming. They have promised me that they would come to see me to-day; and if you see them, sign to them to make haste." Sister Anne mounted to the top of the tower, and the poor distressed creature called to her every now and then, "Anne! sister Anne! dost thou not see anything coming?" And sister Anne answered her, "I see nothing but the sun making dust, and the grass growing green."

In the meanwhile Blue Beard, with a great cutlass in his hand, called out with all his might to his wife, "Come down quickly, or I will come up there." "One minute more, if you please," replied his wife; and immediately repeated in a low voice, "Anne! sister Anne! dost thou not see anything coming?" And sister Anne replied, "I see nothing but the sun making dust, and the grass growing green." "Come down quickly," roared Blue Beard, "or I will come up there." "I come," answered his wife, and then exclaimed, "Anne! sister Anne! dost thou not see anything coming?" "I see," said sister Anne, "a great cloud of dust moving this way." "Is it my brothers?" "Alas! no, sister, I see a flock of sheep." "Wilt thou not come down?" shouted Blue Beard. "One minute more," replied his wife, and then she cried, "Anne! sister Anne! dost thou not see anything coming?" "I see," she replied, "two horsemen coming this way; but they are still at a great distance." "Heaven be praised!" she exclaimed, a moment afterwards. "They are my brothers! I am making all the signs I can to hasten them." Blue Beard began to roar so loudly that the whole house shook again. [Pg 7] The poor wife descended, and went and threw herself, with streaming eyes and dishevelled tresses, at his feet.

"It is of no use," said Blue Beard. "You must die!" Then seizing her by the hair with one hand, and raising his cutlass with the other, he was about to cut off her head. The poor wife turned towards him, and fixing upon him her dying eyes, implored him to allow her one short moment to collect herself. "No, no," said he; "recommend thyself heartily to Heaven." And lifting his arm—— At this moment there was so loud a knocking at the gate, that Blue Beard stopped short. It was opened, and two horsemen were immediately seen to enter, who, drawing their swords, ran straight at Blue Beard. He recognised them as the brothers of his wife—one a dragoon, the other a musqueteer, and, consequently, fled immediately, in hope to escape; but they pursued him so closely, that they overtook him before he could reach the step of his door, and, passing their swords through his body, left him dead on the spot. The poor wife was almost as dead as her husband, and had not strength to rise and embrace her brothers. It was found that Blue Beard had no heirs, and so his widow remained possessed of all his property. She employed part of it in marrying her sister Anne to a young gentleman who had long loved her; another part, in buying captains' commissions for her two brothers, and with the rest she married herself to a very worthy man, who made her forget the miserable time she had passed with Blue Beard.

Provided one has common sense, And of the world but knows the ways, This story bears the evidence Of being one of bygone days. No husband now is so terrific, Impossibilities, expecting: Though jealous, he is still pacific, Indifference to his wife affecting. And of his beard, whate'er the hue, His spouse need fear no such disaster. Indeed, 'twould often puzzle you To say which of the twain is master.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Gueridons, i.e., stands to place lights or china upon. The word is now used to signify any small round table with one foot; but the old-fashioned stand, which was higher than a table, and its top not bigger than a dessert plate, is occasionally to be met with.

[2] Looking-glasses with frames of the same material were much in vogue at that period. Of silver-framed mirrors some magnificent specimens remain to us at Knowle Park, Kent.


[Pg 8]

THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD.

Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen, who were so vexed at not having any children—so vexed, that one cannot express it. They visited all the baths in the world. Vows, pilgrimages, everything was tried, and nothing succeeded. At length, however, the Queen was brought to bed of a daughter. There was a splendid christening. For godmothers they gave the young Princess all the Fairies they could find in the country (they found seven), in order that each making her a gift, according to the custom of Fairies in those days, the Princess would, by these means, become possessed of all imaginable perfections. After the baptismal ceremonies all the company returned to the King's palace, where a great banquet was set out for the Fairies. Covers were laid for each, consisting of a magnificent plate, with a massive gold case, containing a spoon, a fork, and a knife of fine gold, enriched with diamonds and rubies. But as they were all taking their places at the table, there was seen to enter an old Fairy, who had not been invited, because for upwards of fifty years she had never quitted the tower she resided in, and it was supposed she was either dead or enchanted.

The King ordered a cover to be laid for her; but there was no possibility of giving her a massive gold case such as the others had, because there had been only seven made expressly for the seven Fairies. The old lady thought she was treated with contempt, and muttered some threats between her teeth. One of the young Fairies, who chanced to be near her, overheard her, and imagining she might cast some misfortune on [Pg 9] the little Princess, went, as soon as they rose from table, and hid herself behind the hangings, in order to have the last word, and be able to repair, as fast as possible, any mischief the old woman might do. In the meanwhile, the Fairies began to endow the Princess. The youngest, as her gift, decreed that she should be the most beautiful person in the world; the next Fairy, that she should have the mind of an angel; the third, that she should evince the most admirable grace in all she did; the fourth, that she should dance to perfection; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale; and the sixth, that she should play on every instrument in the most exquisite manner possible. The turn of the old Fairy having arrived, she declared, while her head shook more with malice than with age, that the Princess should pierce her hand with a spindle, and die of the wound. This terrible fate made all the company tremble, and there was not one of them who could refrain from tears. At this moment the young Fairy issued from behind the tapestry, and uttered aloud these words: "Comfort yourselves, King and Queen—your daughter shall not die of it. It is true that I have not sufficient power to undo entirely what my elder has done. The Princess will pierce her hand with a spindle; but, instead of dying, she will only fall into a deep slumber, which will last one hundred years, at the end of which a King's son will come to wake her."

The King, in hope of avoiding the misfortune predicted by the old Fairy, immediately caused an edict to be published, by which he forbade any one to spin with a spindle, or to have spindles in their possession, under pain of death.

At the end of fifteen or sixteen years, the King and Queen, being absent at one of their country residences, it happened that the Princess, while running one day about the castle, and from one chamber up to another, arrived at the top of a tower, and entered a little garret, where an honest old woman was sitting by herself, spinning with her distaff and spindle. This good woman had never heard of the King's prohibition with respect to spinning with a spindle. "What are you doing there?" asked the Princess. "I am spinning, my fair child," answered the old woman, who did not know her. "Oh, how pretty it is!" rejoined the Princess. "How do you do it? Give it to me, that I may see if I can do it as well." She [Pg 10] had no sooner taken hold of the spindle, than, being very hasty, a little thoughtless, and, moreover, the sentence of the Fairies so ordaining it, she pierced her hand with the point of it, and fainted away. The good old woman, greatly embarrassed, called for help. People came from all quarters; they threw water in the Princess's face; they unlaced her stays; they slapped her hands; they rubbed her temples with Queen of Hungary's water,[3] but nothing could bring her to. The King, who had run upstairs at the noise, then remembered the prediction of the Fairies, and, wisely concluding that this must have occurred as the Fairies said it would, had the Princess conveyed into the finest apartment in the palace, and placed on a bed of gold and silver embroidery. One would have said she was an angel, so lovely did she appear—for her swoon had not deprived her of her rich complexion: her cheeks preserved their crimson, and her lips were like coral. Her eyes were closed, but they could hear her breathe softly, which showed that she was not dead. The King commanded them to let her repose in peace until the hour arrived for her waking. The good Fairy who had saved her life, by decreeing that she should sleep for an hundred years, was in the Kingdom of Mataquin, twelve thousand leagues off, when the Princess met with her accident; but she was informed of it instantly by a little dwarf, who had a pair of seven-league boots (that is, boots which enabled the wearer to take seven leagues at a stride[4]). The Fairy set out immediately and an hour afterwards they saw her arrive in a fiery chariot, drawn by dragons. The King advanced, to hand her out of the chariot. She approved of all he had done; but, as she had great foresight, she considered that, when the Princess awoke, she would feel considerably embarrassed at finding herself all alone in that old castle; so this is what the Fairy did. She touched with her wand everybody that was in the castle (except the King and Queen): governesses, maids of honour, women of the bed-chamber, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, scullions, boys, guards, porters, pages, footmen; she touched also the horses that were in the stables, with their grooms, the great mastiffs in the court-yard, and little Pouste, the tiny dog of the Princess, that was on the bed, beside her. As soon as she had touched them, they all fell asleep, not to wake again until the time arrived for their mistress to do so, in order that they might be all ready to attend upon her when she should want them. Even the spits that had been put down to the fire, laden with partridges and pheasants, went to sleep, and the fire itself also.

[Pg 11]

All this was done in a moment; the fairies never lost much time over their work. After which, the King and Queen, having kissed their dear daughter without waking her, quitted the Castle, and issued a proclamation forbidding any person, whosoever, to approach it. These orders were unnecessary, for in a quarter of an hour there grew up around the Park so great a quantity of trees, large and small, of brambles and thorns, interlacing each other, that neither man nor beast could get through them, so that nothing more was to be seen than the tops of the Castle turrets, and they only at a considerable distance. Nobody doubted but that was also some of the Fairy's handiwork, in order that the Princess might have nothing to fear from the curiosity of strangers during her slumber.

At the expiration of an hundred years, the son of the King at that time upon the throne, and who was of a different family to that of the sleeping Princess, having been hunting in that neighbourhood, inquired what towers they were that he saw above the trees of a very thick wood. Each person answered him according to the story he had heard. Some said that it was an old castle, haunted by ghosts. Others, that all the witches of those parts held their Sabbath in it. The more general opinion was, that it was the abode of an ogre; and that he carried thither all the children he could catch, in order to eat them at his leisure, and without being pursued, having alone the power of making his way through the wood. The Prince did not know what to believe about it, when an old peasant spoke in his turn, and said to him, "Prince, it is more than fifty years ago since I heard my father say that there was in that Castle the most beautiful [Pg 12] Princess that was ever seen. That she was to sleep for a hundred years, and would be awakened by a King's son for whom she was reserved." The young Prince, at these words, felt himself all on fire. He believed, without hesitation, that he was destined to accomplish this famous adventure; and, impelled by love and glory, resolved to see what would come of it, upon the spot. Scarcely had he approached the wood, when all those great trees, all those brambles and thorns made way for him to pass of their own accord. He walked towards the Castle, which he saw at the end of a long avenue he had entered, and what rather surprised him was, that he found none of his people had been able to follow him, the trees having closed up again as soon as he had passed. He continued, nevertheless, to advance; a young and amorous prince is always courageous. He entered a large fore-court, where everything he saw was calculated to freeze his blood with terror. A frightful silence reigned around. Death seemed everywhere present. Nothing was to be seen but the bodies of men and animals stretched out apparently lifeless. He soon discovered, however, by the shining noses and red faces of the porters, that they were only asleep; and their goblets, in which still remained a few drops of wine, sufficiently proved that they had dosed off whilst drinking. He passed through a large court-yard paved with marble; he ascended the staircase. He entered the guard-room, where the guards stood drawn up in line, their carbines shouldered, and snoring their loudest. He traversed several apartments, with ladies and gentlemen all asleep; some standing, others seated. He entered a chamber covered with gold, and saw on a bed, the curtains of which were open on each side, the most lovely sight he had ever looked upon—a Princess, who seemed to be about fifteen or sixteen, the lustre of whose charms gave her an appearance that was luminous and supernatural. He approached, trembling and admiring, and knelt down beside her. At that moment, the enchantment being ended, the Princess awoke, and gazing upon the Prince with more tenderness than a first sight of him seemed to authorize, "Is it you, Prince?" said she; "you have been long awaited." The Prince, delighted at these words, and still more by the tone in which they were uttered, knew not how to express to her his joy and gratitude.

The Sleeping Beauty.—P. 12.

[Pg 13]

He assured her he loved her better than himself. His language was not very coherent, but it pleased the more. There was little eloquence, but a great deal of love. He was much more embarrassed than she was, and one ought not to be astonished at that. The Princess had had time enough to consider what she should say to him, for there is reason to believe (though history makes no mention of it) that, during her long nap, the good Fairy had procured her the pleasure of very agreeable dreams. In short, they talked for four hours without having said half what they had to say to each other.

In the meanwhile, all the Palace had been roused at the same time as the Princess. Everybody remembered their duty, and, as they were not all in love, they were dying with hunger. The lady-in-waiting, as hungry as any of them, became impatient, and announced loudly to the Princess that the meat was on the table. The Prince assisted the Princess to rise; she was full dressed, and most magnificently, but he took good care not to hint to her that she was attired like his grandmother, and wore a stand-up collar.[5] She looked, however, not a morsel the less lovely in it. They passed into a hall of mirrors, in which they supped, attended by the officers of the Princess. The violins and hautbois played old but excellent pieces of music, notwithstanding it was a hundred years since they had been performed by anybody; and after supper, to lose no time, the grand Almoner married the royal lovers in the chapel of the Castle.

Early next morning the Prince returned to the city, where his father was in great anxiety about him. The Prince told him that he had lost himself in the forest whilst hunting, and that he had slept in a woodcutter's hut, who had given him some black bread and cheese for his supper. The King, his father, who was a simple man, believed him, but his mother was not so easily satisfied; and observing that he went hunting nearly every day, and had always some story ready as an excuse, when he had slept two or three nights away from home, she no longer doubted but that he had some mistress, for he lived with the Princess for upwards of two years, and had two children by her; the first, which was a girl, was named Aurora, and the second, a son, was called Day, because he was still more beautiful than his sister.

[Pg 14]

The Queen often said to her son, in order to draw from him some avowal, that he ought to form some attachment; but he never ventured to trust her with his secret. He feared her, although he loved her, for she was of the race of Ogres, and the King had married her only on account of her great wealth. It was even whispered about the Court that she had the inclinations of an Ogress, and that when she saw little children passing, she had the greatest difficulty in restraining herself from pouncing upon them. The Prince, therefore, would never say one word about his adventure. On the death of the King, however, which happened two years afterwards, the Prince being his own master, he made a public declaration of his marriage, and went in great state to bring the Queen, his wife, to the palace. She made a magnificent entry into the capital with her two children, one on each side of her. Some time afterwards, the King went to war with his neighbour, the Emperor Cantalabute. He left the regency of the kingdom to the Queen, his mother, earnestly recommending to her care his wife and his children. He was likely to be all the summer in the field, and as soon as he was gone, the Queen-mother sent her daughter-in-law and the children to a country house in the wood, that she might more easily gratify her horrible longing. She followed them thither a few days after, and said one evening to her Maître d'Hôtel, "I will eat little Aurora for dinner to-morrow." "Ah, Madam!" exclaimed the Maître d'Hôtel. "I will," said the Queen (and she said it in the tone of an Ogress longing to eat fresh meat), "and I will have her served up with sauce Robert."[6] The poor man seeing plainly an Ogress was not to be trifled with, took his great knife and went up to little Aurora's room. She was then about four years old, and came jumping and laughing to throw her arms about his neck, and ask him for sweetmeats. He burst into tears, the knife fell from his hands, and he went down again into the kitchen court and killed a little lamb, and served it up with so delicious a sauce, that his mistress assured him she had never eaten anything so excellent. In the meanwhile, he had carried off little Aurora, and given her to his wife, to conceal her in the lodging which she occupied at the further end of the kitchen court.

[Pg 15]

A week afterwards, the wicked Queen said to her Maître d'Hôtel, "I will eat little Day for supper." He made no reply, being determined to deceive her as before. He went in search of little Day, and found him with a tiny foil in his hand, fencing with a great monkey, though he was only three years old. He carried him to his wife, who hid him where she had hidden his sister, and then cooked a very tender little kid in the place of little Day, and which the Ogress thought wonderfully good. All went well enough so far, but one evening this wicked Queen said to the Maître d'Hôtel, "I would eat the Queen with the same sauce that I had with her children." Then, indeed, did the poor Maître d'Hôtel despair of being again able to deceive her. The young Queen was turned of twenty, without counting the hundred years she had slept; her skin was a little tough, though it was white and beautiful, and where was he to find in the menagerie an animal that would pass for her.

He resolved that, to save his own life, he would cut the Queen's throat, and went up to her apartment with the determination to execute his purpose at once. He worked himself up into a passion, and entered the young Queen's chamber poniard in hand. He would not, however, take her by surprise, but repeated, very respectfully, the order he had received from the Queen-mother. "Do it! do it!" said she, stretching out her neck to him. "Obey the order that has been given to you. I shall again behold my children, my poor children, that I loved so dearly." She had imagined them to be dead ever since they had been carried off without explanation. "No, no, Madam!" replied the poor Maître d'Hôtel, touched to the quick, "you shall not die, and you shall see your children again, but it shall be in my own house, where I have hidden them; and I will again deceive the Queen-mother by serving up to her a young hind in your stead." He led her forthwith to his own apartments, where leaving her to embrace her children and weep with them, he went and cooked a hind, of which the Queen ate at her supper, with as much appetite as if it had been the young [Pg 16] Queen. She exulted in her cruelty, and intended to tell the King, on his return, that some ferocious wolves had devoured the Queen his wife, and her two children.

One evening that she was prowling, as usual, round the courts and poultry yards of the Castle, to inhale the smell of raw flesh, she overheard little Day crying in a lower room, because the Queen, his mother, was about to whip him for having been naughty, and she also heard little Aurora begging forgiveness for her brother. The Ogress recognised the voices of the Queen and her children, and, furious at having been cheated, she gave orders, in a tone that made everybody tremble, that the next morning early there should be brought into the middle of the court a large copper, which she had filled with toads, vipers, adders, and serpents, in order to fling into it the Queen, her children, the Maître d'Hôtel, his wife, and his maid servant. She had commanded that they should be brought thither with hands tied behind them. There they stood, and the executioners were preparing to fling them into the copper, when the King, who was not expected so early, entered the court-yard on horseback. He had ridden post, and in great astonishment inquired what was the meaning of that horrible spectacle? Nobody dared to tell him, when the Ogress, enraged at the sight of the King's return, flung herself head foremost into the copper, and was devoured in an instant by the horrid reptiles she had caused it to be filled with. The King could not help being sorry for it; she was his mother, but he speedily consoled himself in the society of his beautiful wife and children.

Some time for a husband to wait
Who is young, handsome, wealthy, and tender,
May not be a hardship too great
For a maid whom love happy would render.
But to be for a century bound
To live single, I fancy the number
Of Beauties but small would be found
So long who could patiently slumber.
To lovers who hate time to waste,
And minutes as centuries measure,
I would hint, Those who marry in haste
May live to repent it at leisure.
Yet so ardently onwards they press,
And on prudence so gallantly trample,
That I haven't the heart, I confess,
To urge on them Beauty's example.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] A celebrated distillation of spirit of wine upon rosemary, so-called from the receipt, purporting to have been written by a Queen Elizabeth of Hungary, and first published at Frankfort in 1659.

[4] From the explanation contained in this parenthesis, it is probable that we have here the earliest mention of these celebrated articles in a French story; Jack the Giant-killer and Jack and the Bean-stalk being of English origin.

[5] Collet-monté. The contemporary of the ruff. In the reign of Louis the Fourteenth it was succeeded by the collet-rabattu, and totally discarded before his decease.

[6] A sauce piquante, as ancient as the fifteenth century, being one of the seventeen sauces named by Taillevant, chief cook to Charles VII. of France, in 1456.


[Pg 17]

MASTER CAT;
OR,
PUSS IN BOOTS.

A Miller bequeathed to his three sons all his worldly goods, which consisted only of his mill, his ass, and his cat. The division was speedily made. Neither notary nor attorney were called in; they would soon have eaten up all the little patrimony. The eldest had the mill; the second son, the ass; and the youngest had nothing but the cat. The latter was disconsolate at inheriting so poor a portion. "My brothers," said he, "may earn an honest livelihood by entering into partnership; but, as for me, when I have eaten my Cat, and made a muff of his skin, I must die of hunger." The Cat, who had heard this speech, but without appearing to do so, said to him, with a sedate and serious air, "Do not afflict yourself, master; you have only to give me a bag and get a pair of boots made for me, to go amongst the bushes in, and you will see that you are not so badly left as you believe." Though the Cat's master did not place much confidence in this assertion, he had seen him play such cunning tricks in catching rats and mice, when he would hang himself up by the heels, or lie in the flour as if he were dead, that he was not altogether hopeless of being assisted by him in his distress.

As soon as the Cat had what he asked for, he pulled on his boots boldly, and hanging the bag round his neck, he took the strings of it in his fore paws, and went into a warren where there were a great number of rabbits. He put some bran and some sow-thistles in his bag, and stretching himself out as if he were dead, he waited till some young [Pg 18] rabbit, little versed in the wiles of the world, should come and ensconce himself in the bag, in order to eat what he had put into it. He had hardly laid down before he was gratified. A young scatterbrain of a rabbit entered the bag, and Master Cat instantly pulling the strings, caught it and killed it without mercy. Proud of his prey, he went to the King's Palace, and demanded an audience. He was ushered up to his Majesty's apartment, into which having entered, he made a low bow to the King, and said to him, "Sire, here is a wild rabbit, which my Lord the Marquis de Carabas (such was the name he took a fancy to give to his master) has ordered me to present, with his duty, to your Majesty." "Tell your master," replied the King, "that I thank him, and that he has given me great pleasure." Another day he went and hid himself in the wheat, holding the mouth of his bag open, as usual, and as soon as a brace of partridges entered it, he pulled the strings, and took them both. He went immediately and presented them to the King, in the same way that he had the wild rabbit. The King received with equal gratification the brace of partridges, and gave him something to drink his health. The Cat continued in this manner during two or three months to carry to the King, every now and then, presents of game from his master. One day when he knew the King was going to drive on the banks of the river, with his daughter, the most beautiful Princess in the world, he said to his master, "If you will follow my advice, your fortune is made; you have only to go and bathe in a part of the river I will point out to you, and leave the rest to me." The Marquis de Carabas did as his cat advised him, without knowing what good would come of it. While he was bathing, the King passed by, and the Cat began to shout with all his might, "Help! help! My Lord the Marquis de Carabas is drowning!" At this cry, the King looked out of the coach window, and recognising the cat who had so often brought game to him, ordered his guards to fly to the help of my Lord the Marquis de Carabas. Whilst they were getting the poor Marquis out of the river, the Cat approaching the royal coach, told the King that during the time his master was bathing, some robbers had come and carried off his clothes, although he had called "Thieves!" as loud as he could. The rogue had hidden them himself under a great [Pg 19] stone. The King immediately ordered the officers of his wardrobe to go and fetch one of his handsomest suits for my Lord the Marquis de Carabas. The King embraced him a thousand times, and as the fine clothes they dressed him in set off his good looks (for he was handsome and well made), the King's daughter found him much to her taste; and the Marquis de Carabas had no sooner cast upon her two or three respectful and rather tender glances, than she fell desperately in love with him. The King insisted upon his getting into the coach, and accompanying them in their drive. The Cat, enchanted to see that his scheme began to succeed, ran on before, and having met with some peasants who were mowing a meadow, said to them, "You, good people, who are mowing here, if you do not tell the King that the meadow you are mowing belongs to my Lord the Marquis de Carabas, you shall be all cut into pieces as small as minced meat!" The King failed not to ask the mowers whose meadow it was they were mowing? "It belongs to my Lord the Marquis de Carabas," said they altogether, for the Cat's threat had frightened them. "You perceive, Sire," rejoined the Marquis, "it is a meadow which yields an abundant crop every year." Master Cat, who kept in advance of the party, came up to some reapers, and said to them, "You, good people, who are reaping, if you do not say that all this corn belongs to my Lord the Marquis de Carabas, you shall be all cut into pieces as small as minced meat!" The King, who passed by a minute afterwards, wished to know to whom all those cornfields belonged that he saw there. "To my Lord the Marquis de Carabas," repeated the reapers, and the King again wished the Marquis joy of his property. The Cat, who ran before the coach, uttered the same threat to all he met with, and the King was astonished at the great wealth of my Lord the Marquis de Carabas. Master Cat at length arrived at a fine Château, the owner of which was an Ogre, the richest that was ever known, for all the lands through which the King had driven were held of the Lord of this Château. The Cat took care to inquire who the Ogre was, and what he was able to do; and then requested to speak with him, saying that he would not pass so near his Château without doing himself the honour of paying his respects to him. The Ogre received him as civilly as an Ogre could, and made him [Pg 20] sit down. "They assure me," said the Cat, "that you possess the power of changing yourself into all sorts of animals; that you could, for instance, transform yourself into a lion, or an elephant." "'Tis true," said the Ogre, brusquely, "and to prove it to you, you shall see me become a lion." The Cat was so frightened at seeing a lion before him, that he immediately scampered up into the gutter, not without trouble and danger, on account of his boots, which were not fit to walk on the tiles with. A short time afterwards, the Cat having perceived that the Ogre had resumed his previous form, descended, and admitted that he had been terribly frightened. "They assure me, besides," said the Cat, "but I cannot believe it, that you have also the power to assume the form of the smallest animal; for instance, to change yourself into a rat or a mouse. I confess to you I hold that to be utterly impossible." "Impossible!" replied the Ogre; "you shall see!" and immediately changed himself into a mouse, which began to run about the floor. The Cat no sooner caught sight of it than he pounced upon and devoured it. In the meanwhile, the King, who saw from the road the fine Château of the Ogre, desired to enter it. The Cat, who heard the noise of the coach rolling over the drawbridge, ran to meet it, and said to the King, "Your Majesty is welcome to the Château of my Lord the Marquis de Carabas." "How, my Lord Marquis," exclaimed the King, "this Château also belongs to you? Nothing can be finer than this court-yard, and all these buildings that surround it. Let us see the inside of it, if you please." The Marquis handed out the young Princess, and following the King, who led the way upstairs, entered a grand hall, where they found a magnificent collation, which the Ogre had ordered to be prepared for some friends who were to have visited him that very day, but who did not presume to enter when they found the King was there. The King, as much enchanted by the accomplishments of my Lord the Marquis de Carabas as his daughter, who doted upon him, and seeing the great wealth he possessed, said to him, after having drunk five or six bumpers, "It depends entirely on yourself, my Lord Marquis, whether or not you become my son-in-law." The Marquis, making several profound bows, accepted the honour the King offered him; and on the same day was united to the Princess. The Cat [Pg 21] became a great lord, and never again ran after mice, except for his amusement.

Be the advantage ne'er so great
Of owning a superb estate,
From sire to son descended.
Young men oft find, on industry,
Combined with ingenuity,
They'd better have depended.

Also

If the son of a Miller so quickly could gain
The heart of a Princess, it seems pretty plain,
With good looks and good manners, and some aid from dress,
The humblest need not quite despair of success.


[Pg 22]

CINDERELLA;
OR,
THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER.

Once on a time there was a gentleman who took for a second wife the haughtiest and proudest woman that had ever been seen. She had two daughters of the same temper, and who resembled her in everything. The husband, on his side, had a daughter, but whose gentleness and goodness were without parallel. She inherited them from her mother, who was the best creature in the world. The wedding was hardly over before the stepmother's ill-humour broke out. She could not abide the young girl, whose good qualities made her own daughters appear more detestable. She employed her in all the meanest work of the house. It was she who cleaned the plate, and the stairs, who scrubbed Madame's chamber, and those of Mesdemoiselles, her daughters. She slept at the top of the house, in a loft, on a wretched straw mattress, while her sisters occupied rooms, beautifully floored, in which were the most fashionable beds, and mirrors wherein they could see themselves from head to foot. The poor girl bore everything with patience, and did not dare complain to her father, who would only have scolded her, as his wife governed him entirely. When she had done her work, she went and placed herself in the chimney-corner, and sat down amongst the cinders, which caused her to be called by the household in general Cindertail. The second daughter, however, who was not so rude as her elder sister, called her Cinderella. Notwithstanding, Cinderella, in her shabby clothes, looked a thousand times handsomer than her sisters, however magnificently attired.

[Pg 23]

It happened that the King's son gave a ball, and invited to it all persons of quality. Our two young ladies were included in the invitation, for they cut a great figure in the neighbourhood. Behold them in great delight, and very busy choosing the most becoming gowns and head-dresses. A new mortification for Cinderella, for it was she who ironed her sisters' linen, and set their ruffles. Nothing was talked of but the style in which they were to be dressed. "I," said the eldest, "will wear my red velvet dress and my English point-lace trimmings." "I," said the youngest, "shall only wear my usual petticoat; but to make up for that, I shall put on my gold-flowered mantua, and my necklace of diamonds, which are none of the poorest." They sent for a good milliner to make up their double-frilled caps, and bought their patches of the best maker. They called Cinderella to give them her opinion, for she had excellent taste. Cinderella gave them the best advice in the world, and even offered to dress their heads for them, which they were very willing she should do; and whilst she was about it, they said to her, "Cinderella, shouldst thou like to go to the ball?" "Alas! Mesdemoiselles, you make game of me; that would not befit me at all." "Thou art right, they would laugh immensely to see a Cindertail at a ball!" Any other but Cinderella would have dressed their heads awry, but she was good natured, and dressed them to perfection. They could eat nothing for nearly two days, so transported were they with joy. More than a dozen laces were broken in making their waists as small as possible, and they were always before their looking-glasses. At last the happy day arrived. They set off, and Cinderella followed them with her eyes as long as she could. When they were out of sight, she began to cry. Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, inquired what ailed her. "I should so like—I should so like—" she sobbed so much that she could not finish the sentence. "Thou wouldst so like to go to the ball—Is not that it?" "Alas! yes," said Cinderella, sighing. "Well, if thou wilt be a good girl, I will take care thou shalt go." She led her into her chamber, and said to her, "Go into the garden and bring me a pumpkin." Cinderella went immediately, gathered the finest she could find, and brought it to her godmother, unable to guess how the pumpkin could enable her to go to the ball. Her [Pg 24] godmother scooped it out; and, having left nothing but the rind, struck it with her wand, and the pumpkin was immediately changed into a beautiful coach gilt all over. She then went and looked into the mouse-trap, where she found six mice, all alive. She told Cinderella to lift the door of the mouse-trap a little, and to each mouse, as it ran out, she gave a tap with her wand, and the mouse was immediately changed into a fine horse, thereby producing a handsome team of six horses, of a beautiful dappled mouse-grey colour. As she was in some difficulty as to what she should make a coachman of, Cinderella said, "I will go and see if there be not a rat in the rat-trap; we will make a coachman of him." "Thou art right," said her godmother. "Go and see." Cinderella brought her the rat-trap, in which there were three great rats. The Fairy selected one from the three, on account of its ample beard, and having touched it, it was changed into a fat coachman, who had the finest moustaches that ever were seen. She then said, "Go into the garden, thou wilt find there, behind the watering-pot, six lizards, bring them to me." She had no sooner brought them than the godmother transformed them into six footmen, who immediately jumped up behind the coach, with their liveries all covered with lace, and hung on to it as if they had done nothing else all their lives. The Fairy then said to Cinderella, "Well, there is something to go to the ball in. Art thou not well pleased?" "Yes; but am I to go in these dirty clothes?" Her godmother only touched her with her wand, and in the same instant her dress was changed to cloth of gold and silver, covered with jewels. She then gave her a pair of glass slippers, the prettiest in the world. When she was thus attired, she got into the coach; but her godmother advised her, above all things, not to stay out past midnight—warning her, that if she remained at the ball one minute longer, her coach would again become a pumpkin; her horses, mice; her footmen, lizards; and her clothes resume their old appearance. She promised her godmother she would not fail to leave the ball before midnight, and departed, out of her senses with joy.

The King's son, who was informed that a grand Princess had arrived whom nobody knew, ran to receive her. He handed her out of the coach and led her into the hall, where [Pg 25] the company was assembled. There was immediately a dead silence; they stopped dancing, and the fiddlers ceased to play, so engrossed was every one in the contemplation of the great attractions of the unknown lady. Nothing was heard but a low murmur of "Oh! how lovely she is!" The King himself, old as he was, could not take his eyes from her, and observed to the Queen, that it was a long time since he had seen so beautiful and so amiable a person. All the ladies were intently occupied in examining her head-dress and her clothes, that they might have some like them the very next day, provided they could find materials as beautiful, and workpeople sufficiently clever to make them up.

The King's son conducted her to the most honourable seat, and then led her out to dance. She danced with so much grace that their admiration of her was increased. A very grand supper was served, of which the Prince ate not a morsel, so absorbed was he in contemplation of her. She seated herself beside her sisters, and showed them a thousand civilities. She shared with them the oranges and citrons which the Prince had given to her; at which they were much surprised, for she appeared a perfect stranger to them. Whilst they were in conversation together, Cinderella heard the clock strike three-quarters past eleven. She immediately made a profound curtsey to the company, and departed as quickly as she could. As soon as she had reached home, she went to find her godmother; and after having thanked her, said she much wished to go to the ball again the next day, because the King's son had invited her. While she was occupied in telling her godmother all that had passed at the ball, the two sisters knocked at the door. Cinderella went and opened it—"How late you are!" said she to them, yawning, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself as if she had but just awoke. She had not, however, been inclined to sleep since she had left them. "Hadst thou been at the ball," said one of her sisters to her, "thou wouldst not have been weary of it. There came to it the most beautiful Princess—the most beautiful that ever was seen. She paid us a thousand attentions. She gave us oranges and citrons." Cinderella was beside herself with delight. She asked them the name of the Princess; but they replied that nobody knew her; that the King's son was much puzzled about it, and that he would give everything in [Pg 26] the world to know who she was. Cinderella smiled and said, "She was very handsome, then? Heavens! how fortunate you are!—Could not I get a sight of her? Alas! Mademoiselle Javotte, lend me the yellow gown you wear every day?" "Truly," said Mademoiselle Javotte, "I like that! Lend one's gown to a dirty Cindertail like you!—I must be very mad indeed!" Cinderella fully expected this refusal, and was delighted at it, for she would have been greatly embarrassed if her sister had lent her her gown.

The next day the two sisters went to the ball, and Cinderella also, but still more splendidly dressed than before. The King's son never left her side, or ceased saying tender things to her. The young lady was much amused, and forgot what her godmother had advised her, so that she heard the clock begin to strike twelve when she did not even think it was eleven. She rose and fled as lightly as a fawn. The Prince followed her, but could not overtake her. She dropped one of her glass slippers, which the Prince carefully picked up. Cinderella reached home almost breathless, without coach or footmen, and in her shabby clothes, nothing having remained of all her finery, except one of her little slippers, the fellow of that she had let fall. The guards at the palace gate were asked if they had not seen a Princess go out; they answered that they had seen no one pass but a poorly-dressed girl, who had more the air of a peasant than of a lady. When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them if they had been as much entertained as before, and if the beautiful lady had been present. They said yes, but that she had fled as soon as it had struck twelve, and so precipitately that she had let fall one of her little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world; that the King's son had picked it up; that he had done nothing but gaze upon it during the remainder of the evening; and that, undoubtedly, he was very much in love with the beautiful person to whom the little slipper belonged. They spoke the truth; for a few days afterwards the King's son caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet that he would marry her whose foot would exactly match with the slipper. They began by trying it on the Princesses, then on the Duchesses, and so on throughout all the Court; but in vain. It was taken to the two sisters, who did their utmost to force one of their feet into the slipper, but they could not [Pg 27] manage to do so. Cinderella, who witnessed their efforts and recognised the slipper, said, laughingly, "Let me see if it will not fit me." Her sisters began to laugh and ridicule her. The gentleman who had been entrusted to try the slipper, having attentively looked at Cinderella and found her to be very handsome, said that it was a very proper request, and that he had been ordered to try the slipper on all girls without exception. He made Cinderella sit down, and putting the slipper to her little foot, he saw it go on easily and fit like wax. Great was the astonishment of the two sisters, but it was still greater when Cinderella took the other little slipper out of her pocket and put it on her other foot. At that moment the godmother arrived, who having given a tap with her wand to Cinderella's clothes, they became still more magnificent than all the others she had appeared in. The two sisters then recognised in her the beautiful person they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to crave her forgiveness for all the ill-treatment she had suffered from them. Cinderella raised and embracing them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and begged them to love her dearly for the future. They conducted her to the young Prince, dressed just as she was. He found her handsomer than ever, and a few days afterwards he married her. Cinderella, who was as kind as she was beautiful, gave her sisters apartments in the palace, and married them the very same day to two great lords of the court.

Beauty in woman is a treasure rare
Which we are never weary of admiring;
But a sweet temper is a gift more fair
And better worth the youthful maid's desiring.
That was the boon bestowed on Cinderella
By her wise Godmother—her truest glory.
The rest was "nought but leather and prunella."
Such is the moral of this little story—
Beauties, that charm becomes you more than dress,
And wins a heart with far greater facility.
In short, in all things to ensure success,
The real Fairy gift is Amiability!

Also

Talent, courage, wit, and worth
Are rare gifts to own on earth.
But if you want to thrive at court—
So, at least, the wise report—
You will find you need some others,
Such as god-fathers or mothers.


[Pg 28]

RIQUET WITH THE TUFT.

Once upon a time there was a Queen, who was brought to bed of a son so ugly and so ill-shaped that it was for a long time doubtful if he possessed a human form. A Fairy, who was present at his birth, affirmed that he would not fail to be amiable, as he would have much good-sense. She added, even, that he would be able, in consequence of the gift she had endowed him with, to impart equal intelligence to the person he should love best. All this consoled the poor Queen a little, who was much distressed at having brought into the world so hideous a little monkey. It is true that the child was no sooner able to speak than he said a thousand pretty things, and that there was in all his actions an indescribable air of intelligence which charmed one. I had forgotten to say that he was born with a little tuft of hair on his head, which occasioned him to be named Riquet with the Tuft; for Riquet was the family name.

At the end of seven or eight years, the Queen of a neighbouring kingdom was brought to bed of two daughters. The first that came into the world was fairer than day. The Queen was so delighted, that it was feared her great joy would prove hurtful to her. The same Fairy who had assisted at the birth of little Riquet with the Tuft was present upon this occasion, and to moderate the joy of the Queen, she declared to her that this little Princess would have no mental capacity, and that she would be as stupid as she was beautiful. This mortified the Queen exceedingly; but a few minutes afterwards she experienced a very much greater annoyance, for the second girl she gave birth to, proved to be extremely ugly. "Do not [Pg 29] distress yourself so much, Madam," said the Fairy to her. "Your daughter will find compensation; she will have so much sense that her lack of beauty will scarcely be perceived." "Heaven send it may be so," replied the Queen; "but are there no means of giving a little sense to the eldest, who is so lovely?" "I can do nothing for her, Madam, in the way of wit," said the Fairy, "but everything in that of beauty; and as there is nothing in my power that I would not do to gratify you, I will endow her with the ability to render beautiful the person who shall please her."

As these two Princesses grew up, their endowments increased in the same proportion, and nothing was talked of anywhere but the beauty of the eldest and the intelligence of the youngest. It is true that their defects also greatly increased with their years. The youngest became uglier every instant, and the eldest more stupid every day. She either made no answer when she was spoken to, or she said something foolish. With this she was so awkward, that she could not place four pieces of china on a mantel-shelf without breaking one of them, nor drink a glass of water without spilling half of it on her dress. Notwithstanding the great advantage of beauty to a girl, the youngest bore away the palm from her sister nearly always, in every society. At first they gathered round the handsomest, to gaze at and admire her; but they soon left her for the wittiest, to listen to a thousand agreeable things; and people were astonished to find that, in less than a quarter of an hour, the eldest had not a soul near her, and that all the company had formed a circle round the youngest. The former, though very stupid, noticed this, and would have given, without regret, all her beauty for half the sense of her sister. The Queen, discreet as she was, could not help reproaching her frequently with her folly, which made the poor Princess ready to die of grief. One day that she had withdrawn into a wood to bewail her misfortune, she saw a little man approach her, of most disagreeable appearance, but dressed very magnificently. It was the young Prince Riquet with the Tuft, who, having fallen in love with her from seeing her portraits, which were sent all round the world, had quitted his father's kingdom to have the pleasure of beholding and speaking to her. Enchanted to meet her thus alone, he accosted her with all the respect and [Pg 30] politeness imaginable. Having remarked, after paying the usual compliments, that she was very melancholy, he said to her, "I cannot comprehend, Madam, how a person so beautiful as you are can be so sad as you appear; for though I may boast of having seen an infinity of lovely women, I can avouch that I have never beheld one whose beauty could be compared to yours." "You are pleased to say so, Sir," replied the Princess; and there she stopped. "Beauty," continued Riquet, "is so great an advantage, that it ought to surpass all others; and when one possesses it, I do not see anything that could very much distress you." "I had rather," said the Princess, "be as ugly as you, and have good sense, than possess the beauty I do, and be as stupid as I am." "There is no greater proof of good sense, Madam, than the belief that we have it not; it is the nature of that gift, that the more we have, the more we believe we are deficient of it." "I do not know how that may be," said the Princess, "but I know well enough that I am very stupid, and that is the cause of the grief which is killing me." "If that is all that afflicts you, Madam, I can easily put an end to your sorrow." "And how would you do that?" said the Princess. "I have the power, Madam," said Riquet with the Tuft, "to give as much wit as any one can possess to the person I love the most; and as you, Madam, are that person, it will depend entirely upon yourself whether or not you will have so much wit, provided that you are willing to marry me." The Princess was thunderstruck, and replied not a word. "I see," said Riquet with the Tuft, "that this proposal pains you; and I am not surprised at it; but I give you a full year to consider of it." The Princess had so little sense, and at the same time was so anxious to have a great deal, that she thought the end of that year would never come; so she accepted at once the offer that was made her. She had no sooner promised Riquet with the Tuft that she would marry him that day twelve months, than she felt herself to be quite another person to what she was previously. She found she possessed an incredible facility of saying anything she wished, and of saying it in a shrewd, yet easy and natural manner. She commenced on the instant, and kept up a sprightly conversation with Riquet with the Tuft, during which she [Pg 31] chatted away at such a rate, that Riquet with the Tuft began to believe he had given her more wit than he had kept for himself. When she returned to the Palace, the whole Court was puzzled to account for a change so sudden and extraordinary, for in proportion to the number of foolish things they had heard her say formerly, were the sensible and exceedingly clever observations she now gave utterance to. All the Court was in a state of joy which is not to be conceived. The younger sister alone was not very much pleased, as no longer possessing over her elder sister the advantage of wit, she now only appeared, by her side, as a very disagreeable-looking person. The King was now led by his eldest daughter's advice, and sometimes even held his Council in her apartment. The news of this alteration having spread abroad, all the young Princes of the neighbouring kingdoms exerted themselves to obtain her affection, and nearly all of them asked her hand in marriage; but she found none of them sufficiently intelligent, and she listened to all of them without engaging herself to any one.

At length arrived a Prince so rich, so witty, and so handsome, that she could not help feeling an inclination for him. Her father, having perceived it, told her that he left her at perfect liberty to choose a husband for herself, and that she had only to make known her decision. As the more sense we possess, the more difficulty we find in making up one's mind positively on such a matter, she requested, after having thanked her father, that he would allow her some time to think of it. She went, by chance, to walk in the same wood where she had met with Riquet with the Tuft, in order to ponder with greater freedom on what she had to do. While she was walking, deep in thought, she heard a dull sound beneath her feet, as of many persons running to and fro, and busily occupied. Having listened more attentively, she heard one say, "Bring me that saucepan;" another, "Give me that kettle;" another, "Put some wood on the fire." At the same moment the ground opened, and she saw beneath her what appeared to be a large kitchen, full of cooks, scullions, and all sorts of servants necessary for the preparation of a magnificent banquet. There came forth a band of from twenty to thirty cooks, who went and established themselves [Pg 32] in an avenue of the wood at a very long table, and who, each with larding-pin in hand and the queue de renard[7] behind the ear, set to work, keeping time to a melodious song.

The Princess, astonished at this sight, inquired for whom they were working. "Madam," replied the most prominent of the troop, "for Prince Riquet with the Tuft, whose marriage will take place to-morrow." The Princess, still more surprised than she was before, and suddenly recollecting that it was just a twelvemonth from the day on which she had promised to marry Prince Riquet with the Tuft, was lost in amazement. The cause of her not having remembered her promise was, that when she made it she was a fool, and on receiving her new mind, she forgot all her follies. She had not taken thirty steps in continuation of her walk, when Riquet with the Tuft presented himself before her, gaily and magnificently attired, like a Prince about to be married. "You see, Madam," said he, "I keep my word punctually, and I doubt not but that you have come hither to keep yours, and to make me, by the gift of your hand, the happiest of men." "I confess to you, frankly," replied the Princess, "that I have not yet made up my mind on that matter, and that I do not think I shall ever be able to do so to your satisfaction." "You astonish me, Madam," said Riquet with the Tuft. "I have no doubt I do," said the Princess; "and assuredly, had I to deal with a stupid person—a man without mind,—I should feel greatly embarrassed. 'A Princess is bound by her word,' he would say to me, 'and you must marry me, as you have promised to do so.' But as the person to whom I speak is the most sensible man in all the world, I am certain he will listen to reason. You know that, when I was no better than a fool, I nevertheless could not resolve to marry you—how can you expect, now that I have the sense which you have given me, and which renders me much more difficult to please than before, that I should take a resolution to-day which I could not do then? If you seriously thought of marrying me, you did very wrong to take away my stupidity, and enable me to see clearer than I saw then." "If a man without sense," replied Riquet with the Tuft, "should meet with some indulgence, as you have just intimated, had he to reproach you with your breach of promise, why would you, Madam, that I should not be equally so in a matter which affects the entire happiness of my life? Is it reasonable that persons of intellect should be in a worse condition than those that have none? Can you assert this—you who have so much and have so earnestly desired to possess it? But let us come to the point, if you please. With the exception of my ugliness, is there anything in me that displeases you? Are you dissatisfied with my birth, my understanding, my temper, or my manners?"

[Pg 33]

"Not in the least," replied the Princess; "I admire in you everything you have mentioned." "If so," rejoined Riquet with the Tuft, "I shall be happy, as you have it in your power to make me the most agreeable of men." "How can that be done?" said the Princess. "It can be done," said Riquet with the Tuft, "if you love me sufficiently to wish that it should be. And in order, Madam, that you should have no doubt about it, know that the same fairy, who, on the day I was born, endowed me with the power to give understanding to the person I chose, gave you also the power to render handsome the man you should love, and on whom you were desirous to bestow that favour." "If such be the fact," said the Princess, "I wish, with all my heart, that you should become the handsomest Prince in the world, and I bestow the gift on you to the fullest extent in my power."

The Princess had no sooner pronounced these words, than Riquet with the Tuft appeared to her eyes, of all men in the world, the handsomest, the best made, and most amiable she had ever seen. There are some who assert that it was not the spell of the Fairy, but love alone that caused this metamorphosis. They say that the Princess, having reflected on the perseverance of her lover—on his prudence, and all the good qualities of his heart and mind, no longer saw the deformity of his body nor the ugliness of his features—that his hunch appeared to her nothing more than the effect of a man shrugging his shoulders, and that instead of observing, as she had done, that he limped horribly, she saw in him no more than a certain lounging air, which charmed her. They say also that his eyes, which squinted, seemed to her only more brilliant from that defect, which passed in her mind for a proof of the intensity of his love, and, in fine, that his [Pg 34] great red nose had in it something martial and heroic. However this may be, the Princess promised on the spot to marry him, provided he obtained the consent of the King, her Father. The King, having learned that his daughter entertained a great regard for Riquet with the Tuft, whom he knew also to be a very clever and wise prince, accepted him with pleasure for a son-in-law. The wedding took place the next morning, as Riquet with the Tuft had foreseen, and, according to the instructions which he had given a long time before.

No beauty, no talent, has power above
Some indefinite charm discern'd only by love.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] See Appendix.


[Pg 35]

LITTLE THUMBLING.

Once upon a time there was a Woodcutter and his wife who had seven children, all boys; the eldest was but ten years old, and the youngest only seven. People wondered that the Woodcutter had had so many children in so short a time; but the fact is, that his wife not only had them very fast, but seldom presented him with less than two at a birth. They were very poor, and their seven children troubled them greatly, as not one of them was yet able to gain his livelihood. What grieved them still more was that the youngest was very delicate, and seldom spoke, which they considered a proof of stupidity instead of good sense. He was very diminutive, and, when first born, scarcely bigger than one's thumb, which caused them to call him Little Thumbling.

This poor child was the scapegoat of the house, and was blamed for everything that happened. Nevertheless he was the shrewdest and most sensible of all his brothers, and if he spoke little, he listened a great deal. There came a very bad harvest, and the famine was so severe that these poor people determined to get rid of their children. One evening, when they were all in bed, and the Woodman was sitting over the fire with his wife, he said to her, with an aching heart, "Thou seest clearly that we can no longer find food for our children. I cannot let them die of hunger before my eyes, and I am resolved to lose them to-morrow in the wood, which will be easily done, for whilst they are occupied in tying up the faggots, we have but to make off unobserved by them." "Ah!" exclaimed the Woodcutter's wife, "Canst thou have the heart to lose thine own children?" [Pg 36] Her husband in vain represented to her their exceeding poverty; she could not consent to the deed. She was poor, but she was their mother. Having, however, reflected on the misery it would occasion her to see them die of hunger, she at length assented, and went to bed weeping.

Little Thumbling heard everything they had said, for having ascertained, as he lay in his bed, that they were talking of their affairs, he got up quietly, and slipped under his father's stool to listen, without being seen. He went to bed again, and slept not a wink the rest of the night, thinking what he should do. He rose early and repaired to the banks of a rivulet, where he filled his pockets with small white pebbles, and then returned home. They set out all together, and Little Thumbling said nothing of what he had heard to his brothers. They entered a very thick forest, wherein, at ten paces distant, they could not see one another. The Woodcutter began to cut wood, and his children to pick up sticks to make faggots with. The father and mother, seeing them occupied with their work, stole away gradually, and then fled suddenly by a small winding path. When the children found themselves all alone, they began to scream and cry with all their might. Little Thumbling let them scream, well knowing how he could get home again, for as he came he had dropped all along the road the little white pebbles he had in his pockets. He said to them then, "Fear nothing, brothers, my father and mother have left us here, but I will take you safely home, only follow me." They followed him, and he led them back to the house by the same road that they had taken into the forest. They feared to enter immediately, but placed themselves close to the door to listen to the conversation of their father and mother.

Just at the moment that the Woodcutter and his wife arrived at home, the lord of the manor sent them ten crowns which he had owed them a long time, and which they had given up all hope of receiving. This was new life to them, for these poor people were actually starving. The Woodcutter sent his wife to the butcher's immediately. As it was many a day since they had tasted meat, she bought three times as much as was necessary for the supper of two persons. When they had satisfied their hunger, the Woodcutter's wife said, "Alas! where now are our poor children; they would [Pg 37] fare merrily on what we have left. But it was thou, Guillaume, who wouldst lose them. Truly did I say we should repent it. What are they now doing in the forest! Alas! Heaven help me! the wolves have, perhaps, already devoured them! Inhuman that thou art, thus to have destroyed thy children!" The Woodcutter began to lose his temper, for she repeated more than twenty times that they should repent it, and that she had said they would. He threatened to beat her if she did not hold her tongue. It was not that the Woodcutter was not, perhaps, even more sorry than his wife, but that she made such a noise about it, and that he was like many other men who are very fond of women who can talk well, but are exceedingly annoyed by those whose words always come true. The wife was all in tears. "Alas! where are now my children, my poor children?" She uttered this, at length, so loudly, that the children, who were at the door, heard her, and began to cry altogether, "We are here! we are here!" She ran quickly to open the door to them, and, embracing them, exclaimed, "How happy I am to see you again, my dear children; you are very tired and hungry. And how dirty thou art, Pierrot; come here and let me wash thee." Pierrot was her eldest son, and she loved him better than all the rest because he was rather red-headed, and she was slightly so herself. They sat down to supper, and ate with an appetite that delighted their father and mother, to whom they related how frightened they were in the forest, speaking almost always all together. The good folks were enchanted to see their children once more around them, and their joy lasted as long as the ten crowns; but when the money was spent they relapsed into their former misery, and resolved to lose the children again, and to do so effectually they determined to lead them much further from home than they had done the first time.

They could not talk of this so privately, but that they were overheard by Little Thumbling, who reckoned upon getting out of the scrape by the same means as before; but though he got up very early to collect the little pebbles, he could not succeed in his object, for he found the house door double locked. He knew not what to do, when the Woodcutter's wife, having given them each a piece of bread for their breakfast, it occurred to him that he might make the bread [Pg 38] supply the place of the pebbles by strewing crumbs of it along the path as they went, and so he put his piece in his pocket. The father and mother led them into the thickest and darkest part of the forest; and as soon as they had done so, they gained a by-path, and left them there. Little Thumbling did not trouble himself much, for he believed he should easily find his way back by means of the bread which he had scattered wherever he had passed; but he was greatly surprised at not being able to find a single crumb. The birds had eaten it all up! Behold the poor children then, in great distress, for the further they wandered the deeper they plunged into the forest. Night came on, and a great wind arose, which terrified them horribly. They fancied they heard on every side nothing but the howling of wolves, hastening to devour them. They scarcely dared to speak or look behind them. It then began to rain so heavily that they were soon drenched to the skin; they slipped at every step, tumbling into the mud, out of which they scrambled in a filthy state, not knowing what to do with their hands. Little Thumbling climbed up a tree to try if he could see anything from the top of it. Having looked all about him, he saw a little light like that of a candle, but it was a long way on the other side of the forest. He came down again, and when he had reached the ground he could see the light no longer. This distressed him greatly; but having walked on with his brothers for some time in the direction of the light, he saw it again on emerging from the wood. At length they reached the house where the light was, not without many alarms, for they often lost sight of it, and always when they descended into the valleys. They knocked loudly at the door, and a good woman came to open it. She asked them what they wanted. Little Thumbling told her they were poor children who had lost their way in the forest, and who begged a night's lodging for charity. The woman, seeing they were all so pretty, began to weep, and said to them, "Alas! my poor children, whither have you come? Know that this is the dwelling of an Ogre who eats little boys!" "Alas, Madam!" replied Little Thumbling, who trembled from head to foot, as did all his brothers; "what shall we do?—It is certain that the wolves of the forest will not fail to devour us to-night, if you refuse to receive us under your roof, and that being the [Pg 39] case, we had rather be eaten by the gentleman; perhaps he may have pity upon us, if you are kind enough to ask him." The Ogre's wife, who fancied she could contrive to hide them from her husband till the next morning, allowed them to come in, and led them where they could warm themselves by a good fire, for there was a whole sheep on the spit roasting for the Ogre's supper. Just as they were beginning to get warm, they heard two or three loud knocks at the door. It was the Ogre who had come home. His wife immediately made the children hide under the bed, and went to open the door. The Ogre first asked if his supper was ready and if she had drawn the wine, and with that he sat down to his meal. The mutton was all but raw, but he liked it all the better for that. He sniffed right and left, saying that he smelt fresh meat. "It must be the calf I have just skinned that you smell," said his wife. "I smell fresh meat, I tell you once more," replied the Ogre, looking askance at his wife; "there is something here that I don't understand." In saying these words, he rose from the table and went straight to the bed—"Ah!" he exclaimed, "it is thus, then, thou wouldst deceive me, cursed woman! I know not what hinders me from eating thee also! It is well for thee that thou art an old beast! Here is some game, which comes in good time for me to entertain three Ogres of my acquaintance who are coming to see me in a day or two." He dragged them from under the bed one after the other. The poor children fell on their knees, begging mercy; but they had to deal with the most cruel of all the Ogres, and who, far from feeling pity for them, devoured them already with his eyes, and said to his wife they would be dainty bits, when she had made a good sauce for them. He went to fetch a great knife, and as he returned to the poor children, he whetted it on a long stone that he held in his left hand. He had already seized one, when his wife said to him, "What would you do at this hour of the night? will it not be time enough to-morrow?" "Hold thy peace," replied the Ogre, "they will be the more tender." "But you have already so much meat," returned his wife; "Here is a calf, two sheep, and half a pig." "Thou art right," said the Ogre; "give them a good supper, that they may not fall away, and then put them to bed." The good woman was enchanted, and brought them plenty for supper, but they couldn't eat, they [Pg 40] were so paralysed with fright. As for the Ogre, he seated himself to drink again, delighted to think he had such a treat in store for his friends. He drained a dozen goblets more than usual, which affected his head a little, and obliged him to go to bed.

The Ogre had seven daughters who were still in their infancy. These little Ogresses had the most beautiful complexions, in consequence of their eating raw flesh like their father; but they had very small, round, grey eyes, hooked noses, and very large mouths, with long teeth, exceedingly sharp, and wide apart. They were not very vicious as yet; but they promised fairly to be so, for they already began to bite little children, in order to suck their blood. They had been sent to bed early, and were all seven in a large bed, having each a crown of gold on her head. In the same room was another bed of the same size. It was in this bed that the Ogre's wife put the seven little boys to sleep, after which she went to sleep with her husband.

Little Thumbling, who had remarked that the Ogre's daughters had golden crowns on their heads, and who feared that the Ogre might regret that he had not killed him and his brothers that evening, got up in the middle of the night, and, taking off his own nightcap and those of his brothers, went very softly and placed them on the heads of the Ogre's seven daughters, after having taken off their golden crowns, which he put on his brothers and himself, in order that the Ogre might mistake them for his daughters, and his daughters for the boys whose throats he longed to cut.

Matters turned out exactly as he anticipated, for the Ogre awaking at midnight, regretted having deferred till the morning what he might have done the evening before. He therefore jumped suddenly out of bed, and seizing his great knife, "Let us go," said he, "and see how our young rogues are by this time; we won't make two bites at a cherry." Therewith he stole on tiptoes up to his daughters' bed-room, and approached the bed in which lay the little boys, who were all asleep except Thumbling, who was dreadfully frightened when the Ogre placed his hand upon his head to feel it, as he had in turn felt those of all his brothers.

The Ogre, who felt the golden crowns, said, "Truly, I was about to do a pretty job! It's clear I must have drunk too [Pg 41] much last night." He then went to the bed where his daughters slept, and having felt the little nightcaps that belonged to the boys. "Aha!" cried he. "Here are our young wags! Let us to work boldly!" So saying, he cut without hesitation the throats of his seven daughters. Well satisfied with this exploit, he returned and stretched himself beside his wife. As soon as Little Thumbling heard the Ogre snoring, he woke his brothers, and bade them dress themselves quickly and follow him. They went down softly into the garden and jumped over the wall. They ran nearly all night long, trembling all the way, and not knowing whither they were going.

The Ogre, awaking in the morning, said to his wife, "Get thee up stairs and dress the little rogues you took in last night." The Ogress was astonished at the kindness of her husband, never suspecting the sort of dressing he meant her to give them, and fancying he ordered her to go and put on their clothes; she went up stairs, where she was greatly surprised to find her daughters murdered and swimming in their blood. The first thing she did was to faint (for it is the first thing that almost all women do in similar circumstances). The Ogre, fearing that his wife would be too long about the job he had given her to do, went upstairs to help her. He was not less surprised than his wife, when he beheld this frightful spectacle. "Hah! what have I done?" he exclaimed. "The wretches shall pay for it, and instantly!" He then threw a jugfull of water in his wife's face, and having brought her to, said, "Quick! give me my seven-league boots, that I may go and catch them." He set out, and after running in every direction, came at last upon the track of the poor children, who were not more than a hundred yards from their father's house. They saw the Ogre striding from hill to hill, and who stepped over rivers as easily as if they were the smallest brooks. Little Thumbling, who perceived a hollow rock close by where they were, hid his brothers in it, and crept in after them, watching all the while the progress of the Ogre. The Ogre, feeling very tired with his long journey to no purpose (for seven-league boots are very fatiguing to the wearer), was inclined to rest, and by chance sat down on the very rock in which the little boys had concealed themselves. As he was quite worn out, he had not rested long before he fell asleep, [Pg 42] and began to snore so dreadfully that the poor children were not less frightened than they were when he took up the great knife to cut their throats.

Little Thumbling was not so much alarmed, and told his brothers to run quickly into the house while the Ogre was sound asleep, and not to be uneasy about him. They took his advice and speedily reached home. Little Thumbling having approached the Ogre, gently pulled off his boots, and put them on directly. The boots were very large and very long; but as they were fairy boots, they possessed the quality of increasing or diminishing in size according to the leg of the person who wore them, so that they fitted him as perfectly as if they had been made for him. He went straight to the Ogre's house, where he found his wife weeping over her murdered daughters. "Your husband," said Little Thumbling to her, "is in great danger, for he has been seized by a band of robbers, who have sworn to kill him if he does not give them all his gold and silver. At the moment they had their daggers at his throat he perceived me, and entreated me to come and tell you the situation he was in, and bid you give me all his ready cash, without keeping back any of it, as otherwise they will kill him without mercy. As time pressed, he insisted I should take his seven-league boots, which you see I have on, in order that I might make haste, and also that you might be sure I was not imposing upon you."

The good woman, very much alarmed, immediately gave him all the money she could find, for the Ogre was not a bad husband to her, although he ate little children. Little Thumbling, thus laden with all the wealth of the Ogre, hastened back to his father's house, where he was received with great joy.

There are many persons who differ in their account of this part of the story, and who pretend that Little Thumbling never committed this robbery, and that he only considered himself justified in taking the Ogre's seven-league boots, because he used them expressly to run after little children. These people assert that they have heard it from good authority, and that they have even eaten and drunk in the Woodcutter's house. They assure us that when Little Thumbling had put on the Ogre's boots, he went to Court, where he knew they were in much trouble about an army which was within [Pg 43] two hundred leagues of them, and anxious to learn the success of a battle that had been fought. They say he went to seek the King, and told him that if he desired it, he would bring him back news of the army before the end of the day. The King promised him a large sum of money if he did so. Little Thumbling brought news that very evening, and this first journey having made him known, he got whatever he chose to ask; for the King paid most liberally for taking his orders to the army, and numberless ladies gave him anything he chose for news of their lovers, and they were his best customers. He occasionally met with some wives who entrusted him with letters for their husbands, but they paid him so poorly, and the amount was altogether so trifling, that he did not condescend to put down amongst his receipts what he got for that service. After he had been a courier for some time, and saved a great deal of money, he returned to his father, where it is impossible to imagine the joy of his family at seeing him again. He made them all comfortable. He bought newly-made offices for his father and his brothers, and by these means established them all, making his own way at Court at the same time.

Often is the handsome boy
Made, alone, his father's joy;
While the tiny, timid child
Is neglected or reviled.
Notwithstanding, sometimes he
Lives, of all, the prop to be.

[Pg 45]


[Pg 46]

THE COUNTESS DE MURAT.


[Pg 47]

PERFECT LOVE.

In one of those agreeable countries subject to the Empire of the Fairies, reigned the redoubtable Danamo. She was learned in her art, cruel in her deeds, and proud of the honour of being descended from the celebrated Calypso, whose charms had the glory and the power, by detaining the famous Ulysses, to triumph over the prudence of the conquerors of Troy.

She was tall, fierce-looking, and her haughty spirit had with much difficulty been subjected to the rigid laws of Hymen. Love had never been able to reach her heart, but the idea of uniting a flourishing kingdom to that of which she was Queen, and another which she had usurped, had induced her to marry an old monarch, who was one of her neighbours.

He died a few years after his marriage, and left the Queen with one daughter, named Azire. She was exceedingly ugly, but did not appear so in the eyes of Danamo, who thought her charming, perhaps because she was the very image of herself. She was heiress also to three kingdoms, a circumstance which softened down many defects, and her hand was sought in marriage by all the most powerful princes of the adjacent provinces. Their eagerness, joined to the blind affection of Danamo, rendered her vanity insupportable. She was ardently besought—she must, therefore, be worthy of such solicitation. It was thus that the Fairy and the Princess reasoned in their own minds, and enjoyed the pleasure of deceiving themselves. Meanwhile, Danamo thought only of rendering the happiness of the Princess as perfect as she considered was her due, and, with this object, brought up in her palace a young Prince, the son of her brother.

[Pg 48]

His name was Parcin Parcinet. He had a noble bearing, a graceful figure, a profusion of beautiful fair hair. Love might have been jealous of his power, for that deity had never, amongst his golden-pointed arrows, any so certain to triumph irresistibly over hearts as the fine eyes of Parcin Parcinet. He could do everything well that he chose to undertake—danced and sang to perfection, and bore off all the prizes in the tournament whenever he took the trouble to contend for them.

This young Prince was the delight of the Court, and Danamo, who had her motives for it, made no objection to the homage and admiration which he received.

The King who was the father of Parcinet was the Fairy's brother. She declared war against him without even seeking for a reason. The King fought valiantly, at the head of his troops; but what could any army effect against the power of so skilful a Fairy as Danamo? She allowed the victory to remain in doubt only long enough for her unfortunate brother to fall in the combat. As soon as he was dead, she dispersed all her enemies with one stroke of her wand, and made herself mistress of the kingdom.

Parcin Parcinet was at that time still in his cradle. They brought him to Danamo. It would have been in vain to attempt hiding him from a Fairy. He already displayed those seductive graces which win the heart. Danamo caressed him, and a few days afterwards took him with her to her own dominions.

The Prince had attained the age of eighteen, when the Fairy, desirous at length of executing the designs which she had so many years contemplated, resolved to marry Parcin Parcinet to the Princess, her daughter. She never for a moment doubted the infinite delight which that young Prince, born to a throne, and condemned by misfortune to remain a subject, would feel at becoming in one day the sovereign of three kingdoms. She sent for the Princess, and revealed to her the choice she had made of a husband for her. The Princess listened to this disclosure with an emotion which caused the Fairy to believe that this resolution in favour of Parcin Parcinet was not agreeable to her daughter. "I see clearly," she said to her, as she perceived her agitation increasing, "that thou hast much more ambition, and wouldst [Pg 49] unite with thine own empire that of one of those kings who have so often proposed for thee; but where is the King whom Parcin Parcinet cannot conquer? In courage he surpasses them all. The subjects of so perfect a prince might one day rebel in his favour. In giving thee to him I secure to thee the possession of his kingdom. As to his person, it is unnecessary to speak—thou knowest that the proudest beauties have not been able to resist his charms." The Princess, suddenly flinging herself at the feet of the Fairy, interrupted her discourse, and confessed to her that her heart had not been able to defy the young victor, famous for so many conquests. "But," added she, blushing, "I have given a thousand proofs of my affection to the insensible Parcin Parcinet, and he has received them with a coldness which distracts me." "'Tis because he dares not raise his thoughts so high as thee," replied the haughty Fairy. "He fears, no doubt, to offend me, and I appreciate his respect."

This flattering idea was too agreeable to the inclination and the vanity of the Princess for her not to be persuaded of its truth. The Fairy ended by sending for Parcin Parcinet. He came, and found her in a magnificent cabinet, where she awaited him with the Princess, her daughter. "Call all thy courage to thy assistance," said she to him as soon as he appeared—"not to support affliction, but to prevent being overcome by thy good fortune. Thou art called to a throne, Parcin Parcinet, and to crown thy happiness, thou wilt mount that throne by espousing my daughter." "I, Madam!" exclaimed the young Prince, with an astonishment in which it was easy to perceive that joy had no share, "I espouse the Princess," continued he, retreating a few paces. "Hah! what deity is meddling with my fate? Why does he not leave the care of it to the only one from whom I implore assistance?"

These words were uttered by the Prince with a vehemence in which his heart took too much part to allow it to be controlled by his prudence. The Fairy imagined that the unhoped-for happiness had driven Parcin Parcinet out of his wits; but the Princess loved him, and love sometimes renders lovers more keen sighted than even wisdom. "From what deity, Parcin Parcinet," said she to him with emotion, "do you implore assistance so fondly? I feel too deeply that I [Pg 50] have no share in the prayers you address to him." The young Prince, who had had time to recover from his first surprise, and who was conscious of the imprudence he had committed, summoned his brain to the assistance of his heart. He answered the Princess with more gallantry than she had hoped for, and thanked the Fairy with an air of dignity that sufficiently proved him to be worthy not only of the empire that was offered him, but of that of the whole world.

Danamo and her proud daughter were satisfied with his expressions, and they settled everything before they left the apartment, the Fairy deferring the wedding-day a short time, only to give opportunity to all her Court to prepare for this grand solemnity.

The news of the marriage of Parcin Parcinet and Azire was spread throughout the Palace the moment they had quitted the Queen's cabinet. Crowds came to congratulate the Prince. However unamiable the Princess, it was to high fortune she conducted him. Parcin Parcinet received all these honours with an air of indifference, which surprised his new subjects the more, for that they detected beneath it extreme affliction and anxiety. He was compelled, however, to endure for the rest of the day the eager homage of the whole Court, and the ceaseless demonstrations of affection lavished upon him by Azire.

What a situation for a young Prince, a prey to the keenest anguish. Night seemed to him to have delayed its return a thousand times longer than usual. The impatient Parcin Parcinet prayed for its arrival. It came at length. He quitted precipitately the place in which he had suffered so much. He retired to his own apartments, and, having dismissed his attendants, opened a door which led into the Palace Gardens, and hurried through them, followed only by a young slave.

A beautiful, but not very extensive, river ran at the end of the gardens, and separated from the magnificent Palace of the Fairy a little Château, flanked by four towers, and surrounded by a tolerably deep moat, which was filled by the river aforesaid. It was to this fatal spot that the vows and sighs of Parcin Parcinet were incessantly wafted.

What a miracle was confined in it! Danamo had the treasure carefully guarded within it. It was a young Princess, [Pg 51] the daughter of her sister, who, dying, had confided her to the charge of the Fairy. Her beauty, worthy the admiration of the universe, appeared too dangerous to Danamo to allow her to be seen by the side of Azire. Permission was occasionally accorded to the charming Irolite (so was she named), to come to the Palace, to visit the Fairy and the Princess her daughter, but she had never been allowed to appear in public. Her dawning beauties were unknown to the world, but there was one who was not ignorant of them. They had met the eyes of Parcin Parcinet one day at the apartments of the Princess Azire, and he had adored Irolite from the moment that he had seen her. Their near relationship afforded no privilege to that young Prince; from the time Irolite ceased to be an infant the pitiless Danamo suffered no one to behold her.

Nevertheless Parcin Parcinet burned with a flame as ardent as such charms as Irolite's could not fail to kindle. She was just fourteen. Her beauty was perfect. Her hair was of a charming colour. Without being decidedly dark or fair, her complexion had all the freshness of spring. Her mouth was lovely, her teeth admirable, her smile fascinating. She had large hazel eyes, sparkling and tender, and her glances appeared to say a thousand things which her young heart was ignorant of.

She had been brought up in complete solitude. Near as was the Palace of the Fairy to the Château in which she dwelt, she saw no more persons than she might have seen in the midst of deserts. Danamo's orders to this effect were strictly followed. The lovely Irolite passed her days amongst the women appointed to attend her. They were few in number, but little as were the advantages to be gained in so solitary and circumscribed a Court, Fame, which feared not Danamo, published such wonders of this young Princess, that ladies of the highest rank were eager to share the seclusion of the youthful Irolite. Her appearance confirmed all that Fame had reported. They were always finding some new charm to admire in her.

A governess of great intelligence and prudence, formerly attached to the Princess who was the mother of Irolite, had been allowed to remain with her, and frequently bewailed the rigorous conduct of Danamo towards her young mistress. [Pg 52] Her name was Mana. Her desire to restore the Princess to the liberty she was entitled to enjoy, and the position she was born to occupy, had induced her to favour the love of Parcin Parcinet. It was now three years since he had contrived to introduce himself one evening into the Château in the dress of a slave. He found Irolite in the garden, and declared his passion for her. She was then but a charming child. She loved Parcin Parcinet as if he had been her brother, and could not then comprehend the existence of any warmer attachment. Mana, who was rarely absent from the side of Irolite, surprised the young Prince in the garden; he avowed to her his love for the Princess, and the determination he had formed to perish, or to restore her one day to liberty, and then to seek, by a personal appeal to his former subjects, a glorious means of revenging himself on Danamo, and of placing Irolite upon the throne.

The noble qualities which were daily developed in the nature of Parcin Parcinet, might have rendered probable his success in still more difficult undertakings, and it was also the only hope of rescue which offered itself to Irolite. Mana allowed him to visit the Château occasionally after nightfall. He saw Irolite only in her presence, but he spoke to her of his love, and never ceased endeavouring, by tender words and devoted attentions, to inspire her with a passion as ardent as his own. For three years Parcin Parcinet had been occupied solely with this passion. Nearly every night he visited the Château of his Princess, and all his days he passed in thinking of her. We left him on his road through Danamo's gardens, followed by a slave, and absorbed in the despair to which the determination of the Fairy had reduced him. He reached the river's bank: a little gilded boat, moored to the shore, in which Azire sometimes enjoyed an excursion on the water, enabled the enamoured Prince to cross the stream. The slave rowed him over, and as soon as Parcin Parcinet had ascended the silken ladder which was thrown to him from a little terrace that extended along the entire front of the Château, the faithful servant rowed the boat back to its mooring-place, and remained with it there until a signal was made to him by his master. This was the waving, for a few minutes, of a lighted flambeau on the terrace.

This evening the Prince took his usual route, the silken [Pg 53] ladder was thrown to him, and he reached, without any obstacle, the apartment of the youthful Irolite. He found her stretched on a couch, and bathed in tears. How beautiful did she appear to him in her affliction. Her charms had never before affected the young Prince so deeply.

"What is the matter, my Princess?" asked he, flinging himself on his knees before the couch on which she lay. "What can have caused these precious tears to flow? Alas!" he continued, sighing, "have I still more misfortunes to learn here?" The young lovers mingled their tears and sighs, and were forced to give full vent to their sorrow before they could find words to declare its cause. At length the young Prince entreated Irolite to tell him what new severity the Fairy had treated her with. "She would compel you to marry Azire," replied the beautiful Irolite, blushing; "which of all her cruelties could cause me so much agony?" "Ah! my dear Princess," exclaimed the Prince, "you fear I shall marry Azire! My lot is a thousand times more happy than I could have imagined it!" "Can you exult in your destiny," sadly rejoined the Princess, "when it threatens to separate us? I cannot express to you the tortures that I suffer from this fear! Ah, Parcin Parcinet, you were right! The love I bear to you is far different from that I should feel for a brother!" The enamoured Prince blessed Fortune for her severities; never before had the young heart of Irolite appeared to him truly touched by love, and now he could no longer doubt having inspired her with a passion as tender as his own. This unlooked-for happiness renewed all his hopes. "No!" he exclaimed with rapture; "I no longer despair of overcoming our difficulties, since I am convinced of your affection. Let us fly, my Princess. Let us escape from the fury of Danamo and her hateful daughter. Let us seek a home more favourable to the indulgence of that love, in which alone consists our happiness!" "How!" rejoined the young Princess with astonishment. "Depart with you! And what would all the kingdom say of my flight?" "Away with such idle fears, beautiful Irolite," interrupted the impatient Parcin Parcinet, "everything urges us to quit this spot. Let us hasten—" "But whither?" asked the prudent Mana, who had been present during the entire interview, and who, less pre-occupied than these young lovers, foresaw all the difficulties in the way of [Pg 54] their flight. "I have plans which I will lay before you," answered Parcin Parcinet; "but how did you become so soon acquainted here with the news of the Fairy's Court?" "One of my relatives," replied Mana, "wrote to me the instant that the rumour was circulated through the Palace, and I thought it my duty to inform the Princess." "What have I not suffered since that moment!" said the lovely Irolite. "No, Parcin Parcinet, I cannot live without you!" The young Prince, in a transport of love, and enchanted by these words, imprinted on the beautiful hand of Irolite a passionate and tender kiss, which had all the charms of a first and precious favour. The day began to dawn, and warned Parcinet, too soon, that it was time for him to retire. He promised the Princess he would return the following night to reveal his plans for their escape. He found his faithful slave in waiting with the boat, and returned to his apartments. He was enraptured with the delight of being beloved by the fair Irolite, and agitated by the obstacles which he clearly perceived would have to be surmounted, sleep could neither calm his anxiety, nor make him for one moment forget his happiness.

The morning sun had scarcely lighted his chamber, when a dwarf presented him with a magnificent scarf from the Princess Azire, who in a note, more tender than Parcin Parcinet would have desired, entreated him to wear it constantly from that moment. He returned an answer which it embarrassed him much to compose; but Irolite was to be rescued, and what constraint would he not have himself endured to restore her to liberty. He had no sooner dismissed the dwarf than a giant arrived to present him, from Danamo, with a sabre of extraordinary beauty. The hilt was formed by a single stone, more brilliant than a diamond, and which emitted so dazzling a lustre that it would light the way by night. Upon its blade were engraven these words—

"For the hand of a conqueror."

Parcin Parcinet was pleased with this present. He went to thank the Fairy for it, and entered her apartment, wearing the marvellous sabre she had sent him, and the beautiful scarf he had received from Azire. The assurance of Irolite's [Pg 55] affection for him had relieved him from all anxiety, and filled his bosom with that gentle and perfect happiness which is born of mutual love. An air of joy was apparent in all his actions. Azire attributed it to the effect of her own charms, and the Fairy to satisfied ambition. The day passed in entertainments which could not diminish the insupportable length of it to Parcin Parcinet. In the evening they walked in the Palace gardens, and were rowed on that very river with which the Prince was so well acquainted. His heart beat quickly as he stepped into that little boat. What a difference between the pleasure to which it was accustomed to bear him, and the dreary dulness of his present position. Parcin Parcinet could not help casting frequent glances towards the dwelling of the charming Irolite. She did not make her appearance upon the terrace of the Château, for there was an express order that she was not to be permitted to leave her chamber, whenever the Fairy or Azire was on the water. The latter, who narrowly watched all the Prince's actions, observed that he often looked in that direction. "What are you gazing at, Prince?" said she. "Amidst all the honours that surround you, is the prison of Irolite deserving so much attention?" "Yes, Madam," replied the Prince, very imprudently, "I feel for those who have not drawn on themselves by their own misconduct the misfortunes they endure." "You are too compassionate," replied Azire, contemptuously; "but to relieve your anxiety," added she, lowering her voice, "I can inform you that Irolite will not long continue a prisoner." "And what is to become of her, then?" hastily inquired the young Prince. "The Queen will marry her in a few days to Prince Ormond," answered Azire. "He is, as you know, a kinsman of ours; and, agreeable to the Queen's intentions, the day after the nuptials he will conduct Irolite to one of his fortresses, from whence she will never return to the Court." "How!" exclaimed Parcin Parcinet, with extraordinary emotion; "will the Queen bestow that beautiful Princess on so frightful a Prince, and whose vices exceed even his ugliness? What cruelty!"—The latter word escaped his lips despite himself: but he could no longer be false to his courage and his heart. "Methinks it is not for you, Parcin Parcinet," retorted Azire, haughtily, "to complain of the cruelties of Danamo."

This conversation would, no doubt, have been carried too [Pg 56] far for the young Prince, whose safety lay in dissimulation; when, fortunately for Parcin Parcinet, some of the ladies in waiting on Azire approached her, and a moment afterwards the Fairy having appeared on the bank of the river, Azire signified her desire to rejoin her. On landing, Parcin Parcinet pretended indisposition in order to obtain at least the liberty of lamenting alone his new misfortunes.

The Fairy, and more particularly Azire, testified great anxiety respecting his illness. He returned to his own apartments. There he indulged in a thousand complaints against destiny for the ills it threatened to inflict on the charming Irolite, abandoned himself to all his grief and all his passion, and beginning at length to seek consolation for sufferings so agonizing to a faithful lover, wrote a letter full of the most moving phrases that his affection could dictate, to one of his Aunts, who was a Fairy as well as Danamo, but who found as much pleasure in befriending the unfortunate as Danamo did in making them miserable. Her name was Favourable. The Prince explained to her the cruel situation to which love and fate had reduced him, and not being able to absent himself from the Court of Danamo without betraying the design he had formed, he sent his faithful slave with the letter to Favourable. When every one had retired to rest, he left his apartment as usual, crossed the gardens alone, and stepping into the little boat, took up one of the oars without knowing whether or not he could manage to use it: but what cannot love teach his votaries? He can instruct them in much more difficult matters. He enabled Parcin Parcinet to row with as much skill and rapidity as the most expert waterman. He entered the Château, and was much surprised to find no one but the prudent Mana, weeping bitterly in the Princess's chamber. "What afflicts you, Mana?" asked the Prince, eagerly; "and where is my dear Irolite?" "Alas! my Lord," replied Mana, "she is no longer here. A troop of the Queen's Guards, and some women, in whom she apparently confides, removed the Princess from the Castle about three or four hours ago."

Parcin Parcinet heard not the last of these sad words. He had sunk insensible on the ground the instant he learned the departure of the Princess. Mana, with great difficulty, restored him to consciousness. He recovered from his swoon [Pg 57] only to give way to a sudden paroxysm of fury. He drew a small dagger from his girdle, and had pierced his heart, if the prudent Mana, dragging back his arm as best she could, and falling at the same time on her knees, had not exclaimed—"How, my Lord! would you abandon Irolite? Live to save her from the wrath of Danamo. Alas! without you, how will she find protection from the Fairy's cruelty?" These words suspended for a moment the despair of the wretched Prince. "Alas!" replied he, shedding tears, which all his courage could not restrain, "whither have they borne my Princess? Yes, Mana! I will live to enjoy at least the sad satisfaction of dying in her defence, and in avenging her on her enemies!" After these words, Mana conjured him to quit the fatal building to avoid fresh misfortunes. "Hasten, Prince," said she to him; "how know we that the Fairy has not here some spy ready to acquaint her with everything that passes within these walls? Be careful of a life so dear to the Princess whom you adore. I will let you know all that I can contrive to learn respecting her."

The Prince departed after this promise, and regained his chamber, oppressed with all the grief which so tender and so luckless a passion could inspire. He passed the night on a couch on which he had thrown himself on entering the room. Daybreak surprised him there: and the morning was advanced some hours, when he heard a noise at his chamber door. He ran to it with the eager impatience which we feel when we await tidings in which the heart is deeply interested. He found his people conducting to him, a man who desired to speak with him instantly. He recognised the messenger as one of Mana's relations, who placed in the hand of Parcin Parcinet a letter which he took with him into his cabinet to read, in order to conceal the emotion its receipt excited in him. He opened it hastily, having observed it was in Mana's handwriting, and found these words:—

"Mana, to the greatest Prince in the world. Be comforted, my Lord; our Princess is in safety, if such an expression be allowable, so long as she is subjected to the power of her enemy. She requested Danamo to permit my attendance on her, and the Fairy consented that I should rejoin her. She is confined in the Palace. Yesterday evening the Queen caused her to be brought into her cabinet, ordered her to look [Pg 58] upon Prince Ormond as one who would be in a few days her husband, and presented to her that Prince so unworthy of being your rival. The Princess was so distressed that she could answer the Queen only by tears. They have not yet ceased to flow. It is for you, my Lord, to find, if possible, some means of escape from the impending calamity."

At the foot of the letter were the following lines, written with a trembling hand, and some of the words being nearly effaced. "How I pity you, my dear Prince; your sufferings are more terrible to me than my own. I spare your feelings the recital of what I have endured since yesterday. Why was I born to disturb your peace? Alas! had you never known me, perhaps you might have been happy."

What mingled emotions of joy and grief agitated the heart of the young Prince in reading this postscript. What kisses did he not imprint on this precious token of the love of the divine Irolite! He was so excited that it was with the greatest difficulty in the world that he succeeded in writing a coherent answer. He thanked the prudent Mana; he informed the Princess of the assistance he expected from the Fairy Favourable; and what did he not say to her of his grief or his love! He then took the letter to Mana's kinsman, and presented him with a clasp set with jewels of inestimable beauty and value, as an earnest of the reward he had deserved, for the pleasure he had given him. Mana's kinsman had scarcely departed, when the Queen and Princess Azire sent to enquire how the Prince had passed the night. It was easily seen by his countenance that he was not well. He was entreated to return to his bed, and as he felt he should be under less restraint there than in the company of the Fairy, he consented to do so.

After dinner, the Queen came to see him, and spoke to him of the marriage of Irolite and Prince Ormond as of a matter she had decided upon. Parcin Parcinet, who had at length made up his mind to control himself, so as not to awaken suspicions which might frustrate his designs, pretended to approve of the Fairy's intentions, and only requested her to await his perfect recovery, as it was his wish to be present at the festivities which would take place on the occasion of these grand nuptials. The Fairy and Azire, who were in despair about his illness, promised him everything he desired; and [Pg 59] Parcin Parcinet thus retarded, for some days at least, the threatened marriage of Irolite. His conversation with Azire, when on the water with her, had hastened the approach of that misfortune to the beautiful Princess he loved so tenderly. Azire had related to the Queen the words of Parcin Parcinet, and the pity he had expressed for Irolite. The Queen, who never paused in the execution of what she had determined on, sent that very evening for Irolite, and decided, in conjunction with Azire, that the marriage of the former should immediately take place, and that her departure should be expedited before Parcin Parcinet was established in the higher authority his match with Azire would invest him with. Before ten days had expired, however, the Prince's faithful slave returned from his mission. With what delight did the Prince discover in the letter Favourable had written to him, the proofs of her compassion and of her friendship for him and for Irolite. She sent him a ring made of four separate metals, gold, silver, brass, and iron. This ring had the power to save him four times from the persecution of the cruel Danamo, and Favourable assured the Prince that the Fairy would not order him to be pursued more often than that ring was able to protect him. These good tidings restored the Prince to health, and he sent with all speed for Mana's kinsman. He entrusted him with a letter for Irolite, informing her of the success they might hope for. There was no time to be lost. The Queen had determined the wedding of Irolite should take place in three days. That evening there was to be a ball given by the Princess Azire. Irolite was to be present. Parcin Parcinet could not endure the idea of appearing "en négligé," as his recent illness might have permitted him, he dressed himself in the most magnificent style, and looked more brilliant than the sun. He dared not at first speak to the fair Irolite; but what did not their eyes discourse when occasionally, they ventured to glance at each other. Irolite was in the most beautiful costume in the world. The Fairy had presented her with some marvellous jewels, and as she had only four days to remain in the palace, Danamo had resolved, during that short period, to treat her with all due honour. Her beauty, which had hitherto been unadorned, in such splendour, appeared wonderful to the whole court, and, above all, to the enamoured Parcin Parcinet. He even [Pg 60] imagined he could read in some joyous flashes of her bright eyes an acknowledgment that she had received his letter. Prince Ormond addressed Irolite frequently; but he was so ill-looking, notwithstanding the gold and jewels with which he was burthened, that he was not a rival worth the jealousy of the young Prince. The ball was nearly over, when Parcin Parcinet, carried away by his love, wished with intense ardour for an opportunity to speak for one moment to his Princess. "Cruel Queen, and thou, also, hateful Azire!" he mentally exclaimed; "will ye still longer deprive me of the delightful pleasure of repeating a thousand times to the beautiful Irolite that I adore her! Jealous witnesses of my happiness, why do ye not quit this spot? Love can only triumph in your absence." Scarcely had Parcin Parcinet formed this wish, than the Fairy, feeling rather faint, called to Azire, and passed with her into an adjoining apartment, followed by Ormond. Parcin Parcinet had on his finger the ring which the fairy Favourable had sent him, and which had the power to rescue him four times from the persecutions of Danamo. He should have reserved such certain help for the most pressing necessity; but when did violent love obey the dictates of prudence?

The young Prince was convinced by the sudden departure of the Fairy and Azire, that the ring had begun to favour his love. He flew to the fair Irolite. He spoke to her of his affection in terms more ardent than eloquent. He felt that he had perhaps invoked the spell of Favourable too thoughtlessly; but could he regret an imprudence which obtained for him the sweet gratification of speaking to his dear Irolite? They agreed as to the place and hour at which, the next day, they would meet, to fly from their painful bondage. The Fairy and Azire, after some time, returned to the ball-room. Parcin Parcinet separated with regret from Irolite. He looked at the fatal ring, and perceived that the iron had mixed with the other metals, and was no longer distinguishable, he therefore saw too clearly that he had only three more wishes to make. He resolved to render them more truly serviceable to the Princess than the first had been. He confided the secret of his flight to no one but his faithful slave, and passed the rest of the night in making all the necessary preparations. The next morning he calmly presented himself to the Queen, [Pg 61] and appeared even in better spirits than usual. He jested with Prince Ormond on his marriage, and conducted himself in such a manner as to lull all suspicions, had any existed as to his intentions. Two hours after midnight he repaired to the Fairy's Park; he found there his faithful slave, who, in obedience to his master's orders, had brought thither four of his horses. The Prince was not kept long waiting. The lovely Irolite appeared, walking with faltering steps, and leaning upon Mana. The young Princess felt some pain in taking this course. It had needed all the cruelties of Danamo, and all the bad qualities of Ormond, to induce her to do so. Love alone had not sufficed to persuade her.

It was autumn. The night was beautiful, and the moon, with a host of brilliant stars, illuminated the sky, shedding around a more charming light than that of day. The Prince eagerly advanced to meet his beloved, there was no time for long speeches, Parcin Parcinet tenderly kissed the hand of Irolite and assisted her to mount her horse. Fortunately she rode admirably. It was one of the amusements she had taken pleasure in during her captivity. She had frequently ridden with her attendants in a little wood close to the Château she resided in, and of which the Fairy allowed her the range. Parcin Parcinet, after the interchange of a few words with the Princess, mounted his own horse. The other two were for Mana and the faithful slave. The Prince then drawing the brilliant sabre he had received from the Fairy, swore on it to adore the beautiful Irolite as long as he should live, and to die, if it were necessary, in defending her from her enemies. They then set out, and it seemed as if the Zephyrs were in league with them, or that they mistook Irolite for Flora, for they accompanied them in their flight.

Morning disclosed to Danamo the unexpected event. The ladies in attendance on Irolite were surprised that she slept so much later than usual; but, in obedience to the orders the prudent Mana had given them over-night, they did not venture to enter the Princess's apartment without being summoned by her. Mana slept in Irolite's chamber, and they had quitted it by a small door that opened into a court-yard of the Palace that was very little frequented. This door was in Irolite's cabinet. It had been fastened up, but, with a little trouble, in two or three evenings, they had found means to [Pg 62] open it. The Queen at length sent orders for Irolite to come to her. The Fairy's commands were not to be disobeyed by any one. They accordingly knocked at the chamber door of the Princess. They received no answer. Prince Ormond arrived. He came to conduct Irolite to the Queen, and was much surprised to find them knocking loudly at the door. He caused it to be broken open. They entered, and finding the little door of the cabinet had been forced, no longer doubted that the Princess had fled the Palace. They bore these tidings to the Queen, who trembled with rage at hearing them. She ordered a search to be made everywhere for Irolite, but in vain did they endeavour to obtain a clue to her evasion, no one knew anything about it. Prince Ormond himself set out in pursuit of Irolite. The Fairy's Guards were despatched in all haste, and in every direction it was thought possible she might have taken. It was observed, however, by Azire, that amidst this general agitation, Parcin Parcinet had not made his appearance. She sent an urgent message to him, and jealousy opening her eyes, she felt certain that the Prince had carried off Irolite, although she had not until that moment suspected he was in love with her. The Fairy could not believe it; but she hastened to consult her books, and discovered that Azire's suspicion was but too well founded.

In the meanwhile that Princess having learned that Parcin Parcinet was not in his apartments, and could not be found anywhere in the Palace, sent some one to the Château in which Irolite had so long resided, to see if they could find any evidence that would convict or acquit the Prince. The prudent Mana had taken care to leave nothing in it that could betray the understanding that had existed between Irolite and Parcin Parcinet; but they found near the seat on which the Prince had lain so long insensible, the scarf Azire had given to him. It had been unfastened during his swoon, and the Prince and Mana, absorbed in their grief, had neither of them subsequently observed it. What were the feelings of the haughty Azire at the sight of this scarf? Her love and her pride were equally wounded. She was exasperated beyond measure. She flung into the Fairy's prisons all who had been in the service of Irolite or of the Prince. Parcin Parcinet's ingratitude to the Queen also goaded her naturally furious temper into madness, and she would have willingly parted with one of her kingdoms to be revenged on the two lovers.

Perfect Love.—P. 63.

[Pg 63]

Meanwhile the fugitives were hotly pursued: Ormond and his troop found everywhere fresh horses in readiness for them by the Fairy's orders. Those of Parcin Parcinet were fatigued, and their speed no longer answered to the impatience of their master. As they issued from a forest, Ormond appeared in sight. The first impulse of the young Prince was to attack his unworthy rival. He was spurring towards him with his hand on the hilt of his sword, when Irolite exclaimed, "Prince! Rush not into useless danger! Obey the orders of Favourable!" These words calmed the anger of Parcin Parcinet, and in obedience to his Princess, and to the Fairy, he wished that the beautiful Irolite was safe from the persecution of the cruel Queen. He had scarcely formed the wish, when the earth opened between him and Ormond, and presented to his sight a little misshapen man in a very magnificent dress, who made a sign to him to follow him. The descent was easy on his side, he rode down it accompanied by the fair Irolite. Mana and the faithful slave followed them, and the earth reclosed above them. Ormond, astonished at so extraordinary an event, returned with all speed to inform Danamo.

Meanwhile our young lovers followed the little man down a very dark road, at the end of which they found a vast Palace, lighted only by a great quantity of lamps and flambeaux. They were desired to dismount, and entered a Hall of prodigious magnitude. The roof was supported by columns of shining earth covered with golden ornaments. The walls were of the same material. A little man all covered with jewels was seated at the end of the Hall on a golden throne surrounded by a great number of persons as misshapen as the one who had conducted the Prince to that spot. As soon as the latter appeared leading the charming Irolite, the little man rose from his throne and said, "Approach, Prince. The great Fairy Favourable, who has long been a friend of mine, has requested me to save you from the cruelties of Danamo. I am the King of the Gnomes. You and the fair Princess who accompanies you are welcome to my Palace." Parcin Parcinet thanked him for the succour he had afforded [Pg 64] them. The King and all his subjects were enchanted with the beauty of Irolite. They looked upon her as a star that had descended to illuminate their abode. A magnificent banquet was served up to the Prince and Princess. The King of the Gnomes did the honours. Music of a very melodious, though somewhat barbaric, character, formed the entertainment of the evening. They sang the charms of Irolite, and the following verses were frequently repeated:—

What lovely star hath left its sphere
This subterranean realm to cheer?
Beware! for in its dazzling light
Is more than danger to the sight.
The while its lustre we admire
It sets the gazer's heart on fire.

After the concert the Prince and Princess were each conducted to magnificent apartments. Mana and the faithful slave attended on them. The next morning they were shown all over the King's Palace. He was master of all the treasures contained in the bosom of the earth. It was impossible to add to his riches. They presented a confused mass of beautiful things; but art was wanting everywhere. The Prince and Princess remained for a week in this subterranean region. Such was the order of Favourable to the King of the Gnomes. During this time entertainments were made for the Princess and her lover, which, though not very tasteful, were exceedingly magnificent. The eve of their departure, the King, to commemorate their sojourn in his empire, caused statues of them to be erected, one on each side of his throne. They were of gold, and the pedestals of white marble. The following inscription, formed with diamonds, was upon the pedestal of the Prince's statue:—

"We desire no longer to behold the sun,—
We have seen this Prince;
He is more beautiful and more brilliant."

And on that of the Princess were these words, formed in a similar manner:—

"To the immortal glory
Of the Goddess of Beauty.
She descended to this spot
Under the form and name of Irolite."

[Pg 65]

The ninth day they presented the Prince with the most beautiful horses in the world. Their harness was of gold entirely covered with diamonds. He quitted the gloomy abode of the Gnomes with his little troop, after having expressed his gratitude to the King. He found himself again on the very spot where Ormond had confronted him. He looked at his ring, and perceived that only the silver and brazen portions of it were discernible. He resumed his journey with the charming Irolite, and made all speed to reach the abode of Favourable, where at length they might feel themselves in safety, when all on a sudden, as they emerged from a valley, they encountered a troop of Danamo's guards, who had not given up the pursuit. The soldiers prepared to rush upon them, when the Prince wished, and instantly a large piece of water appeared between the party of Parcin Parcinet and that of the Fairy. A beautiful nymph, half naked, in a little boat made of interwoven rushes, was seen in the middle of it. She approached the shore, and requested the Prince and Princess to enter the boat. Mana and the slave followed them. The horses remained in the plain, and the little boat suddenly sinking, the Fairy's Guards believed that the fugitives had perished in their attempt to escape. But at the same moment they found themselves in a Palace, the walls of which were only great sheets of water, which incessantly falling with perfect regularity, formed halls, apartments, cabinets, and surrounded gardens, in which a thousand fountains of the most extraordinary shapes marked out the lines of the parterres. Only the Naiades, in whose empire they were, could inhabit this Palace, as beautiful as it was singular. To offer, therefore, a more substantial dwelling to the Prince and the fair Irolite, the Naiade who was their conductor led them into some grottoes of shell-work, where coral, pearls, and all the treasures of the deep, were seen in dazzling profusion. The beds were of moss. An hundred dolphins guarded the grotto of Irolite, and twenty whales that of Parcin Parcinet. The Naiades admired the beauty of the Princess, and more than one Triton was jealous of the looks and attentions which were bestowed on the young Prince. They served up in the grotto of the Princess a superb collation composed of all sorts of iced fruits. Twelve Syrens endeavoured with their sweet and charming songs to calm the anxiety of the young Prince [Pg 66] and the fair Irolite. The concert finished with these verses:—

Wherever with Love for our leader we stray,
To render us happy he knows the sweet way.
Rejoice, Perfect Lovers, who here, in his name
The floods may defy to extinguish your flame.

In the evening there was a banquet, at which nothing was served but fish, but of most extraordinary size and exquisite flavour. After the banquet the Naiades danced a ballet in dresses of fish-scales of various colours, which had the most beautiful effect in the world. The horns of Tritons, and other instruments unknown to mortals, performed the music, which, though strange, was novel and very agreeable.

Parcin Parcinet and the beautiful Irolite remained four days in this empire. Such were the commands of Favourable. The fifth day the Naiades assembled in crowds to escort the Prince and Princess. The two lovers were placed in a little boat made of a single shell, and the Naiades, half out of the water, accompanied them as far as the border of a river, where Parcin Parcinet found his horses waiting for him, and recommenced his journey with the more haste, as he perceived, on examining his ring, that the silver had disappeared, and that nothing remained but the brass; they were, however, but a short distance from the wished-for dwelling of the Fairy Favourable. They travelled unmolested for three more days; but on the fourth morning they saw weapons glitter in the distance in the rays of the rising sun, and as those who bore them advanced, they recognised Prince Ormond and his band. Danamo had sent them back in pursuit with orders not to leave them when seen again, nor to quit the spot where anything extraordinary might occur to them, and, above all things, to endeavour to engage Parcin Parcinet in single combat. Danamo had correctly imagined, from the account of Ormond, that a Fairy protected the Prince and Princess; but her science was so great, that she did not despair of conquering, by spells more potent than her antagonist could cast around them. Ormond, delighted at beholding again the Prince and Irolite, whom he had sought with so much toil and anxiety, galloped, sword in hand, to encounter Parcin Parcinet, according to the commands of the Fairy. The young Prince also drew his sabre with so fierce [Pg 67] an air, that Ormond more than once felt inclined to waver in his course; but Parcin Parcinet, observing Irolite bathed in tears, touched at the sight, formed his fourth wish, and instantly a great fire rising almost to the clouds, separated him from his enemy. This fire made Ormond and his troop fall back, while the young Prince and Irolite, closely followed by the faithful slave and the prudent Mana, found themselves in a Palace, the first sight of which greatly alarmed the fair Irolite.

It was entirely of flame; but her alarm subsided as she perceived that she felt no more heat than from the rays of the sun, and that this flame had only the brilliancy and blaze of fire, without its more insupportable qualities. Crowds of young and beautiful personages, in dresses over which light flames appeared to wanton, presented themselves to receive the Princess and her lover. One amongst them, whom they imagined to be the Queen of those regions, by the respect that was paid to her, accosted them, saying, "Come, charming Princess, and you also, handsome Parcin Parcinet; you are in the Kingdom of Salamanders. I am its Queen, and it is with pleasure I have undertaken to conceal you for seven days in my Palace, according to the commands of the Fairy Favourable. I would only that your stay here might be of longer duration." After these words they were led into a large apartment, all of flames, like the rest of the Palace, and in which a light shone brighter than that of day. The Queen gave that evening a grand supper, composed of every delicacy, and well served.

After the feast they repaired to a terrace, to witness a display of fireworks of marvellous beauty and great singularity of design, which were let off in a large court-yard of the Palace of Salamanders. Twelve Cupids were seen upon as many columns of various coloured marbles. Six of them appeared to be drawing their bows, and the other six bore a large shield, on which these words were written in letters of fire:—

Irolite, that matchless fair!
Conqueror is everywhere.
In vain our flaming arrows fly;
Those that issue from her eye
Burn more fiercely, yet are found
Cherished in the hearts they wound.

[Pg 68]

The young Princess blushed at her own fame, and Parcin Parcinet was enchanted that the Salamanders considered her as beautiful as she appeared to him. Meanwhile, the Cupids shot their flaming arrows, which, crossing each other in the air, formed in a thousand places the initials of the lovely name of Irolite, and rose up to the Heavens.

The seven days she remained in the Palace were passed in similar pleasures. Parcin Parcinet remarked that all the Salamanders were witty and charmingly vivacious, very gallant and affectionate. The Queen herself appeared not to be exempt from the influence of the tender passion, but to be enamoured of a young Salamander of wonderful beauty.

The eighth day they quitted with regret a retreat so congenial to their feelings. They found themselves in a lovely country. Parcin Parcinet looked at his ring, and discovered engraved upon the metals, which were now all four mixed together, the following words:—

"You have wished too soon."

These words sadly afflicted the Prince and Princess, but they were now so near the abode of the Fairy Favourable, that they were in hopes of arriving there before evening. This reflection consoled them, and they proceeded, invoking Fortune and Love; but, alas! they are frequently treacherous conductors. Parcin Parcinet was, in short, on the point of entering the dominions of the Fairy Favourable; but Ormond, obeying the commands of Danamo, had not retired far from the spot where the fire had risen between him and his rival. He had encamped, with his party, behind a wood, and his sentinels, who kept incessant watch, brought him word that the Prince and Princess had re-appeared in the plain. He ordered his men to mount, and about sunset encountered the unfortunate Prince and the divine Irolite. Parcin Parcinet was not dismayed at the numbers that fell upon him altogether. He charged them with a courage that daunted them. "I fulfil my promise, beautiful Irolite," he exclaimed, as he drew his sabre; "I will die for you or deliver you from your enemies!" With these words he made a blow at the foremost, and felled him to the earth. But oh, unexpected misfortune! the wonderful sabre, which was the gift of the Fairy [Pg 69] Danamo, flew into a thousand pieces. She had foreseen this result of the combat. Whenever she made a present of weapons, she charmed them in so peculiar a manner, that the instant they were employed against her, the first blow shivered them to pieces.

Parcin Parcinet, then disarmed, could not make any prolonged resistance. He was overwhelmed by numbers, taken, laden with chains, and the young Irolite shared his fate. "Ah, Fairy Favourable," mournfully ejaculated the Prince, "abandon me to all the severity of Danamo, but save the fair Irolite!" "You have disobeyed the Fairy," replied a youth of surprising beauty, who appeared in the air. "You must suffer the penalty. Had you not been so prodigal of her favour, we should to-day have saved you for ever from the cruelties of Danamo. All the Empire of the Sylphs laments being deprived of the glory of securing happiness to so charming a Prince and so beautiful a Princess." So saying, he vanished, and Parcin Parcinet groaned at the recollection of his imprudence: he seemed insensible to his own misfortunes, but how deeply did he feel those of Irolite! His remorse at having been the cause of them would have destroyed him, had not Destiny resolved that he should live to suffer still more cruel agony.

The young Irolite displayed a courage worthy of the illustrious race from which she had descended, and the pitiless Ormond, far from being affected at so touching a spectacle, strove to aggravate the misery he occasioned them. He had the prisoners separated, and so deprived them of the melancholy pleasure of mingling their tears over their departed hopes. Their wretched journey ended, they were taken to the palace of the wicked Fairy. She felt a malignant joy at seeing the young Prince and Princess in a state that would have awakened pity in the heart of any other creature. Even Azire commiserated Parcin Parcinet, but did not dare to evince it before the Fairy. "I shall at length, then," said the cruel Queen, addressing herself to the Prince, "have the pleasure of revenging myself for thy ingratitude. Go! In lieu of ascending the throne my favour had destined thee, enter the prison on the sea, in which thou shalt end thy wretched life in frightful tortures." "I prefer the most horrible dungeon," replied the Prince, looking proudly at [Pg 70] her, "to the favours of so unjust a Queen as thou art!" These words increased the irritation of the Fairy. She had expected to see him humble himself at her feet. She sent him instantly to the prison she had fixed upon. Irolite wept as he was dragged away; Azire could not suppress her sighs, and all the Court mourned in secret the merciless sentence. As for the beautiful Irolite, the Queen had her removed to the Château in which she had previously so long resided, placed a strict guard upon her, and treated her with all the inhumanity of which she was capable.

The prison to which they conveyed the Prince was a frightful tower in the midst of the sea, built on a little desert island. They shut him up in it, laden with irons, and treated him with all the severity imaginable. What an abode for a Prince worthy to reign over the universe! To think of Irolite was his sole occupation. He invoked the help of the Fairy Favourable for his dear Princess alone, and wished a thousand times a day, to expiate by death the only injury he had done her. His faithful slave had been consigned to the same prison, but he had not the satisfaction of serving his illustrious master, and Parcin Parcinet had about him none but fierce soldiers, devoted to the Fairy, who nevertheless, while obeying her orders, respected, despite themselves, the unfortunate captive. His youth, his beauty, and, above all, his courage, excited in them an admiration which compelled them to regard him as a man very superior to all others. The prudent Mana had been dragged to the Château in which they had immured Irolite, as the Prince's faithful slave had been to the prison on the sea. Danamo's women alone approached the Princess, and by the Fairy's orders overwhelmed her every moment with new misery, by their accounts of the sufferings of Parcin Parcinet. The distresses of her lover made Irolite forget her own, and everything renewed her tears in that spot where she had so often heard that charming Prince swear to her eternal fidelity. "Alas!" she murmured to herself, "why have you been so faithful, my dear Prince? Your inconstancy would have killed me; but what of that, you would have lived, and been happy!"

After three months' suffering, Danamo, who had employed that period in the preparation of a spell of extraordinary power, sent to Irolite one morning a couple of lamps, one of [Pg 71] gold, the other of crystal, commanding her to keep one of the two always burning, but leaving her to choose which she would light. Irolite, with her natural docility, sent word that she would obey the Fairy's orders, without even seeking to comprehend their object.

She carried the two lamps carefully to a cabinet. The golden one was lighted when she received it, and therefore she allowed it to burn throughout that day and night, and the next morning she lighted the other. In this manner she continued to obey the Fairy, lighting the lamps alternately for fifteen days, when her health became seriously affected. She attributed her failing strength to her sorrow, and, to increase her grief, they informed her that Parcin Parcinet was exceedingly ill. What tidings for Irolite! Her deep distress, her utter prostration, affected all her attendants. One evening, when the rest were asleep, one of them softly approached the Princess, and seeing her about to light the crystal lamp, said to her, "Extinguish that fatal light, your existence depends upon it. Save the life of one so lovely from the cruel designs of Danamo." "Alas!" feebly replied the wretched Irolite, "she has rendered my life so miserable, that it is but kind of the Fairy to afford me such means of ending it; but," added she, with an emotion which brought back the colour to her pale cheeks, "what life depends upon the golden lamp, which I have been equally careful to light in its turn?" "That of Parcin Parcinet," answered the confidante of Danamo, for the woman was but obeying her orders in thus speaking to the Princess. The wicked Fairy wished to torment her by this revelation of the cruel task she had imposed upon her. At this intelligence her agony at having unconsciously hastened the termination of her lover's existence, deprived her for some considerable time of her senses. On recovering them, she at the same time returned to her despair. "Hateful Fairy!" she exclaimed, as soon as she had power to speak, "Barbarous Fairy! will not my death satisfy thy vengeance? Wouldst thou condemn me, inhuman, to destroy with my own hand a Prince so dear to me, and so worthy of the most perfect and tender affection? But death, a thousand times more merciful than thou art, will soon deliver me from all the tortures which thy wrath hath invented, to rack such fond and faithful hearts."

[Pg 72]

The young Princess wept incessantly over the fatal lamp, on which depended the life of Parcin Parcinet, and from that moment only lighted the one that wasted her own. That she saw burn with joy, regarding it as a sacrifice to love, and to her lover. In the meanwhile the wretched Prince was a prey to tortures, which surpassed even his powers of endurance. By command of the Fairy, one of his guards, feigning to pity the misfortunes of the illustrious prisoner, informed him that Irolite had consented to marry Prince Ormond, a few days after he (Parcin Parcinet) had been consigned to the frightful dungeon in which he still languished. That the Princess had appeared quite happy since her marriage, that she had been present at all the entertainments given in celebration of it, and had finally quitted the country with her husband. This was the only misfortune the Prince had not anticipated, and it was also the only one too heavy for him to bear. "What!" he exclaimed, despairingly, "Thou art faithless to me, dear Irolite! Thou art the bride of Ormond! Thou hast not even pitied my misfortunes. Thou hast but thought how to end those my love brought upon thyself. Live happy, ungrateful Irolite! Inconstant as thou art, I still adore thee, and desire but to die for love, as thou wouldst not I should have the glory of dying for thee!"

Whilst Parcin Parcinet was plunged in this affliction, and the tender Irolite wasted her own life to prolong that of her lover, Danamo was moved by the despair of Azire, who was dying with sorrow for the sufferings of Parcin Parcinet. The cruel Fairy perceived at length that, to save the life of her child, it was necessary to pardon the Prince, to permit Azire to visit him, and to promise him all the benefits that had previously awaited him, provided he consented to marry her, and the Fairy determined to put Irolite to death, the moment the Prince had accepted that offer.

The hope of again beholding Parcin Parcinet restored Azire to life, and the Fairy allowed her to send to Irolite's Château for the golden lamp, which she desired to keep in her own custody, that she might be certain it was not lighted. This mandate seemed more cruel than all the others to the afflicted Irolite. What anxiety did she not endure respecting the fate of Parcin Parcinet. "Do not distress yourself so much about the Prince," said the women in attendance upon [Pg 73] her, "he is going to marry the Princess Azire, and it is she who, interested in the preservation of his life, has sent for the lamp on which it depends."

The torments of jealousy had as yet been wanting, to complete the misery of the unfortunate Irolite. At these words she felt them waking in her heart. In the meanwhile Azire had visited the Prince, and offered him her hand and her kingdoms; then, pretending to be ignorant that he had been told that Irolite had married Ormond, she endeavoured to convince him by citing this example, that he had been more than sufficiently constant. Parcin Parcinet, to whom nothing was valuable without the charming Irolite, preferred his prison and his sufferings to liberty and sovereignty. Azire was distracted at his refusal, and her affliction rendered her almost as unhappy as he was.

During this time the Fairy Favourable, who had hitherto boasted of her insensibility to love, had found it impossible to resist the attractions of a young Prince residing at her Court. He had conceived a passion for her. The Fairy had considerable difficulty in bringing herself to let him know that his attentions had conquered her pride. At length, however, she yielded to the desire of acquainting him with his triumph. The pleasure of conversing with those we love appeared to her then so charming and so desirable, that, excusing the fault she had so severely punished, she repaired, in all haste, to the assistance of Parcin Parcinet and the beautiful Irolite.

A little later, and her aid would have been useless. The fatal lamp of Irolite had but six days longer to burn, and the grief of Parcin Parcinet was rapidly terminating his existence, when the Fairy Favourable arrived at the Palace of Danamo. She was by far the most powerful, and made herself obeyed despite the anger of the wicked Fairy. The Prince was released from prison; but he would not quit it until he was assured by Favourable that the fair Irolite might still be his bride. He appeared, notwithstanding his pallor, more beautiful than the day, the light of which he was once more permitted to behold. He repaired, with the Fairy Favourable, to the Château of his Princess. Her lamp emitted but a feeble light, and the dying Irolite would not allow them to extinguish it until she had been assured of the fidelity of her [Pg 74] now happy lover. There are no words capable of expressing the perfect joy experienced by the fond pair at this meeting. The Fairy Favourable restored them in an instant to all their former health and beauty, and endowed them with long life and constant felicity. Their affection she found it impossible to increase. Danamo, furious at beholding her authority thus overthrown, perished by her own hand. The fate of Azire and of Ormond was left by the Prince to the decision of Irolite. The only vengeance she took upon them was uniting them in marriage, and Parcin Parcinet, as generous as he was constant, would only receive his father's kingdom, leaving Azire to reign over those of Danamo.

The nuptials of the Prince and the divine Irolite were celebrated with infinite magnificence, and after duly expressing their gratitude to the Fairy Favourable, and heaping rewards on the slave and the prudent Mana, they departed for their kingdom, where the Prince and the charming Irolite enjoyed the rare happiness of loving as fondly and truly in prosperity as they had done in adversity.


[Pg 75]

ANGUILLETTE.

To whatever greatness Destiny may elevate those it favours, there is no worldly felicity exempt from serious sorrow. One cannot be acquainted with Fairies, and be ignorant that the most skilful amongst them have failed to discover a charm which would secure them from the misfortune of being compelled to change their shape some few days in every month, for that of some animal, terrestrial, celestial, or aquatic.

During that dangerous period, when they are completely at the mercy of mankind, they have frequently great difficulty in saving themselves from the perils to which that stern necessity exposes them.

One amongst them, who had changed herself into an Eel, was unfortunately taken by fishermen, and flung immediately into a small square tank in the midst of a beautiful meadow, wherein they kept the fish that were daily required for the table of the King of that country. Anguillette (so was the Fairy named) found in her new abode a great many fine fish destined, like herself, to live but a few hours. She had heard the fishermen say to one another, that that very evening the King purposed to give a grand banquet, for the which these fine fish had been carefully selected.

What tidings for the unfortunate Fairy! She accused the Fates of cruelty a thousand times! She sighed most sadly; but after hiding herself for some time at the very bottom of the water, in order to bewail her misfortune in solitude, the desire to escape if possible from so urgent a peril, induced her to look about her in every direction to see if she could not by some means get out of the reservoir, and regain the river which ran [Pg 76] at no great distance from that spot. But the Fairy looked in vain. The tank was too deep for her to hope to get out of it without help, and her distress was augmented by seeing the fishermen who had taken her again approaching. They began to throw in their nets, and Anguillette, by avoiding them with great cunning, retarded for a few moments the death that awaited her. The youngest of the King's daughters was walking at that time in the meadow. She approached the tank to amuse herself by seeing the men fish.

The sun, about to set, shone brilliantly on the water. The skin of Anguillette, which was very glossy, glittered in its rays as if partly gilt and of all the colours of the rainbow. The young Princess caught sight of her, and thinking her exceedingly beautiful, ordered the fishermen to try and catch that Eel for her. They obeyed, and the unfortunate Fairy was speedily placed in the hands of the person who would decide her fate.

When the Princess had contemplated Anguillette for a few moments, she was touched with compassion, and running to the riverside, put her gently into the water. This unexpected service filled the Fairy's heart with gratitude. She appeared on the surface, and said to the Princess, "I owe you my life, generous Plousine (such was her name), but it is most fortunate for you that I do so. Be not afraid," she continued, observing the young Princess about to run away. "I am a Fairy, and will prove the truth of my words by heaping an infinite number of favours upon you."

As people were accustomed in those days to behold Fairies, Plousine recovered from her first alarm, and listened with great attention to the agreeable promises of Anguillette. She even began to answer her; but the Fairy interrupting her, said, "Wait till you have profited by my favour before you express your acknowledgments. Go, young Princess, and return to this spot to-morrow morning. Think, in the meantime, what you would wish for, and whatever it may be I will grant it. You may, at your choice, possess the most perfect and bewitching beauty, the finest and most charming intellect, or incalculable riches." After these words, Anguillette sank to the bottom of the river, and left Plousine highly gratified with her adventure.

She determined not to tell any one what had befallen her, [Pg 77] "For," said she, to herself, "if Anguillette should deceive me, my sisters will believe that I invented this story."

After this little reflection, she hastened to rejoin her suite, which was composed of only a few ladies. She found them looking for her.

The young Plousine was occupied all the succeeding night in thinking what should be her choice. Beauty almost turned the scale; but as she had sufficient sense to desire still more, she finally determined to request that favour of the Fairy.

She rose with the sun, and ran to the meadow under the pretence of gathering flowers to make a garland, as she said, to present to the Queen, her mother, at her levée. Her attendants dispersed themselves about the meadow to cull the freshest and most beautiful of the flowers with which it was everywhere enamelled.

Meanwhile, the young Princess hastened to the riverside, and found upon the spot where she had seen the Fairy, a column of white marble, of the most perfect purity. An instant afterwards, the column opened and the Fairy emerged from it, and appeared to the Princess no longer as a fish, but as a tall and beautiful woman, of majestic demeanour, and whose robes and head-dress were covered with jewels.

"I am Anguillette," said she to the young Princess, who gazed upon her with great attention; "I come to fulfil my promise. You have chosen intellectual perfection, and you shall possess it from this very moment. You shall have so much sense as to be envied by those who till now have flattered themselves they were specially endowed with it."

The youthful Plousine, at these words, felt a considerable alteration taking place in her mind. She thanked the Fairy with an eloquence that till then she had been a stranger to.

The Fairy smiled at the astonishment the Princess could not conceal at her own powers of expression. "I am so much pleased with you," said the benignant Anguillette, "for making the choice you have done, in lieu of preferring beauty of person, which has such charms for one of your sex and age, that to reward you, I will add the gift of that loveliness you have so prudently foregone. Return hither to-morrow, at the same hour,—I give you till then to choose the style of beauty you would possess."

The Fairy disappeared, and left the young Plousine still [Pg 78] more impressed with her good fortune. Her choice of superior intellect was dictated by reason, but the promise of surpassing beauty flattered her heart, and that which touches the heart is always felt most deeply.

On quitting the riverside, the Princess took the flowers presented to her by her attendants, and made a very tasteful garland with them, which she carried to the Queen; but what was her Majesty's astonishment, that of the King, and of all the Court, to hear Plousine speak with an elegance and a fluency which captivated every heart.

The Princesses, her sisters, vainly endeavoured to contest her mental superiority; they were compelled to wonder at and admire it.

Night came. The Princess, occupied with the expectation of becoming beautiful, instead of retiring to rest, passed into a cabinet hung with portraits, in which, under the form of goddesses, were represented several of the Queens and Princesses of her family. All these were beauties, and she indulged a hope that they would assist her in deciding on a style of beauty worthy to be solicited from a Fairy. The first that met her sight was a Juno. She was fair and had a presence such as should distinguish the Queen of the Gods. Pallas and Venus stood beside her. The subject of the picture was the Judgment of Paris.

The noble haughtiness of Pallas excited the admiration of the young Princess; but the loveliness of Venus almost decided her choice. Nevertheless, she passed on to the next picture, in which was seen Pomona reclining on a couch of turf, beneath trees laden with the finest fruits in the world. She appeared so charming, that the Princess, who since morning had become acquainted with all their stories, was not surprised that a God had taken various forms in order to please her.

Diana next appeared, attired as the poets represent her, the quiver slung behind her, and the bow in her hand. She was pursuing a stag, and followed by a numerous band of Nymphs.

Flora attracted her attention a little further off. She appeared to be walking in a garden, the flowers of which, although exquisite, could not be compared to the bloom of her complexion. Next came the Graces, beautiful and enchanting. This picture was the last in the room.

[Pg 79]

But the Princess was struck by that which was over the mantel-piece. It was the Goddess of Youth. A heavenly air was shed over her whole person. Her tresses were the fairest in the world; the turn of her head was most graceful, her mouth charming, her figure perfectly beautiful, and her eyes appeared much more likely to intoxicate than the nectar with which she seemed to be filling a cup.

"I will wish," exclaimed the young Princess, after she had contemplated with delight this lovely portrait, "I will wish to be as beautiful as Hebe, and to remain so as long as possible."

After this determination she returned to her bed-chamber, where the day she awaited seemed to her impatience as if it would never dawn.

At length it came, and she hastened again to the riverside. The Fairy kept her word. She appeared, and threw a few drops of water in the face of Plousine, who became immediately as beautiful as she had desired to be.

Some sea-gods had accompanied the Fairy. Their applause was the first effect produced by the charms of the fortunate Plousine. She looked at her image in the water, and could not recognise herself. Her silence and her astonishment were for the moment the only indications of her thankfulness.

"I have fulfilled all your wishes," said the generous Fairy. "You ought to be content; but I shall not be so if my favours do not far exceed your desires. In addition to the wit and beauty I have endowed you with, I bestow on you all the treasures at my disposal. They are inexhaustible. You have but to wish whenever you please for infinite wealth, and at the same moment you will acquire it, not only for yourself, but for all those you may deem worthy to possess it."

The Fairy disappeared, and the youthful Plousine, now as lovely as Hebe, returned to the palace. Everybody who met her was enchanted. They announced her arrival to the King, who was himself lost in admiration of her, and it was only by her voice and her talent that they recognised the amiable Princess. She informed the King that a Fairy had bestowed all those precious gifts upon her; and she was no longer called anything but Hebe, in consequence of her perfect resemblance to the portrait of that Goddess. What new causes were here to engender the hatred of her sisters against her! The [Pg 80] beauties of her mind had excited their jealousy much less than those of her person.

All the Princes who had been attracted by their charms became faithless to them without the least hesitation. In like manner were all the other Court beauties abandoned by their admirers. No tears or reproaches could stop the flight of those inconstant lovers, and this conduct, which then appeared so singular, has since, it is said, become a common custom.

Hebe inflamed all hearts around her, while her own remained insensible.

Notwithstanding the hatred her sisters evinced towards her, she neglected nothing that she thought might please them. She wished for so much wealth for the eldest—and to wish and to give were the same thing to her,—that the greatest Sovereign in that part of the world requested the hand of that Princess in marriage, and the nuptials were celebrated with incredible magnificence. The King, Hebe's father, desired to take the field with a great army. The wishes of his beautiful daughter caused him to succeed in all his enterprises, and his kingdom was filled with such immense wealth, that he became the most formidable of all the monarchs in the universe.

The divine Hebe, however, weary of the bustle of the Court, was anxious to pass a few months in a pleasant mansion a short distance from the capital. She had excluded from it all magnificence, but everything about it was elegant, and of a charming simplicity. Nature alone had taken care to embellish the walks, which Art had not been employed to form. A wood, the paths through which had something wild in their scenery, intersected by rivulets and little torrents that formed natural cascades, surrounded this beautiful retreat.

The youthful Hebe often walked in this solitary wood. One day, when her heart felt more than usually oppressed with a tedium and lassitude to which she was now constantly subject, she endeavoured to ascertain the reason of it. She seated herself on the turf, beside a rivulet that with gentle murmur courted meditation.

"What sorrow is it," she asked herself, "that comes thus to trouble the excess of my happiness? What Princess in all the universe is blest with a lot so perfect as mine? The [Pg 81] beneficence of the Fairy has accorded me all I wished for. I can heap treasures upon all who surround me. I am adored by all who behold me, and my heart is a stranger to every painful emotion. No! I cannot imagine whence arises the insupportable weariness which has for some time past detracted from the happiness of my life."

The young Princess was incessantly occupied by this reflection. At length she determined to go to the bank of Anguilette's river, and endeavour to obtain an interview with her.

The Fairy, accustomed to indulge her inclinations, appeared on the surface of the water. It happened to be one of the days when she was changed into a fish.

"It always gives me pleasure to see you, young Princess," said she to Hebe. "I know you have been passing some time in a very solitary dwelling, and you appear to me in a languishing state, which does not at all correspond with your good fortune. What hails you, Hebe? Confide in me." "There is nothing the matter," replied the young Princess, with some embarrassment. "You have showered too many benefits upon me for anything to be wanting to a felicity which is your own work." "You would deceive me," rejoined the Fairy; "I see it easily. You are no longer satisfied. Yet what more can you desire? Deserve my favour by a frank confession," added the gracious Fairy, "and I promise you I will again fulfil your wishes." "I know not what I wish," replied the charming Hebe. "But nevertheless," she continued, casting down her beautiful eyes, "I feel a lack of something, and that, whatever it may be, it is that which is absolutely essential to my happiness." "Ah!" exclaimed the Fairy, "it is love that you are sighing for. That passion alone could inspire you with such strange ideas. Dangerous disposition!" continued the prudent Fairy. "You sigh for love—you shall experience it. Hearts are but too naturally disposed to be affected by it. But I warn you that you will vainly invoke me to deliver you from the fatal passion you believe to be so sweet a blessing. My power does not extend so far."

"I care not," quickly replied the Princess, smiling and blushing at the same moment. "Alas! of what value to me are all the gifts you have bestowed upon me, if I cannot in turn make with them the happiness of another?" The [Pg 82] Fairy sighed at these words, and sank to the bottom of the river.

Hebe retraced her steps to the wilderness, her heart filled with a hope which already began to dissipate her melancholy. The warnings of the Fairy caused her some anxiety; but her prudent reflections were soon banished by others, as dangerous as they were agreeable.

On reaching home she found a courier awaiting her with a message from the King, commanding her return to the Court that very day, in order that she might be present at an entertainment in preparation for the succeeding one. She took her departure accordingly, a few hours after the receipt of the message, and returned to the Court, where she was received with great pleasure by the King and Queen; who informed her that a foreign Prince, upon his travels, having arrived there a few days previously, they had determined to give him a fête, that he might talk in other countries of the magnificence displayed in their kingdom.

The youthful Hebe, obeying a presentiment of which she was unconscious, first inquired of the Princess, her sister, if the foreigner was handsome. "I never yet saw any one that could be compared to him," answered the Princess. "Describe, him to me," said Hebe, with emotion. "He is such as they paint heroes," replied Ilerie. "His form is graceful; his demeanour noble; his eyes are full of a fire that has already made more than one indifferent beauty at this Court acknowledge their power. He has the finest head in the world; his hair is dark brown; and the moment he appears, he absorbs the attention of all beholders."

"You draw a most charming portrait of him," said the youthful Hebe; "is it not a little flattered?" "No, sister," replied the Princess Ilerie, with a sigh she could not suppress. "Alas! you will find him, perhaps, but too worthy of admiration."

The Queen retired, and the beautiful Hebe, as soon as she had time to examine her heart, perceived that she had lost that tranquillity of which, till now, she had not known the value.

"Anguillette!" she exclaimed, as soon as she was alone. "Alas! what is this object which you have allowed to present itself to my sight? Your prudent counsels are rendered vain [Pg 83] by its presence. Why do you not give me strength enough to resist such attractive charms? It may be, however, that their power surpasses that of any Fairy."

Hebe slept but little that night. She rose very early, and the thought of how she should dress herself for the fête that evening occupied her the whole day, to a degree she had been previously a stranger to, for it was the first time she had felt an anxiety to please.

The young foreigner, actuated by the same desire, neglected nothing that might make him appear agreeable to the eyes of the charming Hebe. The Princess Ilerie was equally solicitous of conquest. She possessed a thousand attractions, and when Hebe was not beside her, she was considered the most beautiful creature in the world; but Hebe outshone every one. The Queen gave a magnificent ball that evening; it was succeeded by a marvellous banquet. The young foreigner would have been struck by its prodigious splendour, if he could have looked at anything besides Hebe. After the banquet, a novel and brilliant illumination shed another daylight over the palace gardens. It was summer-time; the company descended into the gardens for the pleasure of an evening promenade. The handsome foreigner conducted the Queen; but this honour did not compensate him for being deprived of the company of his Princess, even for a few moments. The trees were decorated with festoons of flowers, and the lamps which formed the illumination were disposed in a manner to represent, in every direction, bows, arrows, and other weapons of Cupid, together, in some places, with inscriptions.

The company entered a little grove, illuminated like the rest of the gardens, and the Queen seated herself beside a pleasant fountain, around which had been arranged seats of turf, ornamented with garlands of pinks and roses. Whilst the Queen was engaged in conversation with the King and a host of courtiers that surrounded them, the Princesses amused themselves by reading the sentences formed by small lamps under the various devices. The handsome foreigner was at that moment close to the beautiful Hebe. She turned her eyes towards a spot in which appeared a shower of darts, and read aloud these words, which were displayed beneath them:—

"Some are inevitable."

[Pg 84]

"They are those which are shot from the eyes of the divine Hebe," quickly added the Prince, looking at her tenderly. The Princess heard him, and felt confused; but the Prince drew from her embarrassment a happy augury for his love, as it appeared unmingled with anger. The fête terminated with a thousand delightful novelties. The charms of the stranger had touched too sensibly the heart of Ilerie for her to be long without perceiving that he loved another. The Prince had paid her some attention previous to the arrival of Hebe at Court; but since he had seen the latter, he had been wholly engrossed by his passion.

In the meanwhile the young stranger endeavoured, by every proof of affection, to touch the heart of the beautiful Princess. He was devoted, amiable—her fate compelled her to love, and the Fairy abandoned her to the inclinations of her heart. What excuses for yielding! She could no longer struggle against herself. The charming Stranger had informed her that he was the son of a King, and that his name was Atimir. This name was known to the Princess. The Prince had performed wonders in a war between the two kingdoms; and as they had always been opposed to each other, he had not chosen to appear at the Court of Hebe's royal father under his real name.

The young Princess, after a conversation during which her heart fully imbibed the sweet and dangerous poison of which the Fairy had warned her, gave permission to Atimir to disclose to the King his rank and his love. The young Prince was transported with delight; he flew to the King's apartments, and urged his suit with all the eloquence his love could inspire him with.

The King conducted him to the Queen. This proposed marriage, assuring the establishment of a lasting peace between the two kingdoms, the hand of the beautiful Hebe was promised to her happy lover as soon as he had received the consent of the King, his father. The news was soon circulated, and the Princess Ilerie suffered anguish equal to her jealousy. She wept—she groaned; but it was necessary to control her emotion and conceal her vain regrets.

The beautiful Hebe and Atimir now saw each other continually; their affection increased daily, and in those happy [Pg 85] days the young Princess could not imagine why the Fairies did not employ all their skill to make mortals fall in love when they wished to insure their felicity.

An ambassador from Atimir's royal father arrived at Court. He had been awaited with the utmost impatience. He was the bearer of the required consent, and preparations were immediately commenced for the celebration of those grand nuptials. Atimir had therefore no longer any reason for anxiety—a dangerous state for a lover one desires to retain faithful.

As soon as the Prince felt certain of his happiness, he became less ardent. One day that he was on his way to meet the fair Hebe in the palace gardens, he heard the voices of females in conversation in a bower of honeysuckles. He caught the sound of his name, and this awakened his curiosity to know more. He approached the bower softly, and easily recognised the voice of the Princess Ilerie. "I shall die before that fatal day, my dear Cléonice," said she, to a young person seated beside her. "The gods will not permit me to behold the ungrateful object of my love united to the too fortunate Hebe. My torments are too keen to endure much longer." "But, madam," replied her female companion, "Prince Atimir is not faithless; he has never avowed love for you. Destiny alone is to blame for your misfortunes, and amongst all the princes who adore you, you might find, perhaps, one more amiable than he is, did not a fatal prepossession engross your heart." "More amiable than him!" rejoined Ilerie. "Is there such a being in the universe? Powerful Fairy!" she added, with a sigh, "of all the blessings with which you have laden the fortunate Hebe, I but covet that of Atimir's devoted attachment to her." The words of the Princess were interrupted by her tears. Ah! how happy would she have been had she known how much those tears had moved the heart of Atimir!

She rose to leave the bower, and the Prince hid himself behind some trees to escape observation. The tears and the love of Ilerie had affected him deeply, but he imagined they were but the emotions of pity which he felt for a beautiful Princess whom he had unintentionally made so miserable. He proceeded to join Hebe, and the contemplation of her [Pg 86] charms banished for the moment all other thoughts from his mind. In passing through the gardens, as he returned with the Princess Hebe to the Palace, he trod upon something which attracted his attention. He picked it up, and found it was a set of magnificent tablets. It was not far from the bower in which he had overheard the conversation of Ilerie and her attendant. He feared if Hebe saw the tablets, she would obtain some knowledge of his adventure. He hid them, therefore, without her having observed them. She happened at that moment to be occupied in re-adjusting some ornament in her head-dress.

That evening Ilerie did not make her appearance in the Queen's apartments. It was reported that she had felt indisposed on returning from her walk. Atimir perfectly understood that her object was to conceal the agitation to which he had seen her a prey in the bower of honeysuckles. This reflection increased his compassion for her.

As soon as he had retired to his own chamber he opened the tablets he had picked up. On the first leaf he saw a cipher formed of a double A, crowned with a wreath of myrtle, and supported by two little Cupids, one of whom appeared to be wiping the tears from his cheeks with the end of the ribbon that bandaged his eyes, and the other breaking his arrows. The sight of this cipher agitated the young Prince. He knew that Ilerie drew admirably. He turned over the leaf quickly to gain further information, and on the opposite side found the following lines:-

Hither all-conquering Love thy footsteps led;
At thy first glance sweet peace my bosom fled;
Oh, cruel one, to try on me the dart
With which you meant to wound another's heart!

The handwriting, which he recognised, but too clearly proved to him that the tablets were those of the Princess Ilerie. He was affected by the great tenderness of these sentiments, which far from being nourished by his love and attentions, were not even encouraged by hope. These verses reminded him that previous to the arrival of Hebe at Court he had thought Ilerie lovely. He began to consider himself unfaithful to that Princess, and he became too seriously so to the charming Hebe.

He struggled, however, against these first emotions; but [Pg 87] his heart was accustomed to range, and so dangerous a habit is rarely corrected.

He threw Ilerie's tablets on a table, resolving not to look at them any more; but he took them up again a moment afterwards, despite himself, and found in them a thousand things which completed the triumph of Ilerie over the divine Hebe.

The Prince's heart was occupied all night by conflicting feelings. In the morning he waited on the King, who named the day he had fixed on for his marriage with Hebe. Atimir replied with an embarrassment which the King mistook for a proof of his passion—(how little do we know of the human heart!) It was the effect of his inconstancy! The King desired to visit the Queen; the Prince was obliged to follow him. He had been there but a short time when the Princess Ilerie appeared with an air of melancholy which made her more lovely in the eyes of the inconstant Atimir, who was aware of its cause. He approached her, and talked to her for some time. He gave her to understand that he was no longer ignorant of her affection for him. He spoke with ardour of his feelings for her. It was too much for Ilerie. Ah! how is it possible to receive calmly the assurance of so great so unexpected a happiness.

The charming Hebe entered the Queen's apartments shortly afterwards. Her sight brought the blood into the cheeks both of the Princess Ilerie and of the fickle Atimir. "How beautiful she is!" exclaimed Ilerie, looking at the Prince with an emotion she could not conceal. "Avoid her, sir, or end at once my existence." The Prince had not power to answer her. Hebe approached them with a grace and charm which unconsciously loaded with reproaches the ungrateful Atimir. He could not long endure his position. He quitted the Princess, saying that he was anxious to despatch a courier to his father. She was so prepossessed in his favour that she never noticed some eloquent glances at Ilerie, which he cast on leaving her.

While Ilerie triumphed in secret, the beautiful Hebe learned from the King and Queen that in three days she was to be the bride of Atimir. How unworthy was he of the sensations which this news awakened in the heart of the lovely Hebe.

The faithless Prince, though pre-occupied by his new [Pg 88] passion, passed part of the day in Hebe's company. Ilerie was present, and was a thousand times ready to die with jealousy. Her love had redoubled since she had entertained hope.

On returning to his own apartments in the evening, the Prince was presented with a note by an unknown messenger. He opened it hastily, and found in it these words:—

"I yield to a passion a thousand times stronger than my reason. Since I can no longer attempt to conceal sentiments which chance has revealed to you, come, Prince, come, and learn the determination to which I am driven by the love you have inspired me with. Oh, how happy will it be for me if it cost me but my life!"

The bearer of the note informed the Prince that he was commissioned to conduct him to the spot where the Princess Ilerie awaited him. Atimir did not hesitate a moment to follow him, and after several turnings, he was introduced into a little pavilion at the end of a very dark avenue. The interior of the pavilion was sufficiently lighted. He found in it Ilerie with one of her attendants; the rest were walking in the gardens. When she had retired to this apartment, no one entered it without her orders. Ilerie was seated on a pile of cushions of crimson and gold embroidery. Her dress was rich and elegant, the material being of yellow and silver tissue. Her hair, which was black and exceedingly beautiful, was ornamented with ribbons of the same colour as the dress, and ties of yellow diamonds. At her sight, Atimir could not persuade himself that infidelity was a crime. He knelt at her feet, and Ilerie, gazing upon him with a tenderness sufficiently indicative of the emotion of her heart, said, "Prince, I have not caused you to come hither in order to persuade you to break off your marriage; I know too well it is determined upon, and the expressions with which you have endeavoured to alleviate my misfortune and flatter my affection do not induce me to believe that you would abandon Hebe for me; but," she continued, with a gush of tears, which completed the conquest of the heart of Atimir, "I will not endure the life which you have rendered so wretched. I will sacrifice it without regret to my love, and this poison," she added, showing a little box which she had in her hand, "will save me from the fearful torment of seeing you the husband of Hebe."

"No, beautiful Ilerie!" exclaimed the fickle Prince, "I will [Pg 89] never be her husband. I will abandon all for your sake; I love you a thousand times better than I loved Hebe; and despite my duty and my faith so solemnly plighted, I am ready to fly with you to a spot where no obstacle shall exist to our happiness." "Ah, Prince!" said Ilerie, with a sigh, "can I confide, then, in one so faithless?" "He will never be faithless to you," rejoined Atimir. "And the King, your father, who gave Hebe to me, will not refuse to sanction my union with the lovely Ilerie, when she is already mine." "Away, then, Atimir," said the Princess, after a few minutes' silence. "Let us hasten whither our destiny leads us. Whatever misery the step entails on me, nothing can weigh against the sweet delights of loving and being beloved."

After these words, they consulted together respecting their flight. There was no time to lose. They determined to depart the following night. They separated with regret, and, notwithstanding the vows of Atimir, Ilerie still feared the power of Hebe's attractions. The rest of that night and all the next day she was a prey to that anxiety.

In the meanwhile, the Prince hurriedly gave all the necessary orders for keeping his departure secret, and the next day, as soon as everybody in the palace had retired to their apartments, he hastened to join Ilerie in the pavilion in the garden, where she awaited him, attended only by Cléonice. They set out, and made incredible haste to pass the frontiers of the kingdom.

The following morning the news was made public, by a letter which Ilerie had written to the Queen, and another which Atimir had addressed to the King. They were couched in touching language, and it was easy to perceive that love had dictated them. The King and Queen were extremely enraged; but no words can express the agony of the unfortunate and charming Hebe. What despair! what tears! what petitions to the Fairy Anguillette to terminate torments equal to the most cruel she had predicted! But the Fairy kept her word. In vain did Hebe seek the riverside. Anguillette did not appear, and she abandoned herself to all the horrors of desperation. The Princes who had been discouraged by the success of the ungrateful Atimir now felt their hopes revive; but their attentions and professions only increased the torture of the faithful Hebe.

[Pg 90]

The King ardently desired that she should select for herself a husband, and had several times urged her to do so; but that duty appeared too cruel to her affectionate heart. She determined to fly from her father's kingdom; but, before her departure, she went once more in search of Anguillette. The Fairy could no longer resist the tears of the beautiful Hebe. She appeared to her, and at her sight the Princess wept still more, and had not the power to speak to her.

"You have now experienced," said the Fairy, "what that fatal pleasure which I would never willingly have accorded to you is; but Atimir has too severely punished you, Hebe, for your neglect of my advice. Go! Fly these scenes, where everything recalls to you the remembrance of your love. You will find a vessel on the coast, which will bear you to the only spot in the world where you can be cured of your unfortunate attachment; but take care," added Anguillette, raising her voice, "when your heart shall have regained its tranquillity, that you never seek to behold again the faithless Atimir, or it will cost you your life!" Hebe wished more than once to see that Prince again at whatever price Love might compel her to pay for that gratification; but a whisper of Reason, and respect for her own honour, induced her to accept the Fairy's offer. She thanked her for this last favour, and departed the next morning for the sea-coast, followed by such of her women as she had most confidence in.

She found the vessel Anguillette had promised her. It was gilt all over. The masts were of marqueterie of the most admirable pattern; the sails, of rose-colour and silver tissue; and in every part of it was inscribed the word "Liberty." The crew were attired in dresses of the same colours as the sails. All appeared to breathe in this atmosphere the sweet air of freedom.

The Princess entered a magnificent cabin. The furniture was admirable, and the paintings perfect. She was as much a prey to sorrow in this new abode as she was in her father's Court. They strove in vain to amuse her by a thousand pleasures; she was not yet in a state of mind to pay the slightest attention to them.

One day while she was contemplating a painting in her cabin, which represented a landscape, she remarked in it a young shepherd, who, with a smiling countenance, was depicted [Pg 91] cutting nets to set at liberty a great number of birds that had been caught in them, and some of these little creatures seemed to be soaring to the skies with marvellous velocity. All the other pictures displayed similar subjects. None suggested an idea of love, and all appeared to boast the charms of Liberty. "Alas!" exclaimed the Princess, sorrowfully, "will my heart never enjoy that sweet happiness which reason prays for so often in vain?"

The unfortunate Hebe thus passed her days, struggling between her love and her desire to forget it. The ship had been a month at sea without touching anywhere, when one morning that the Princess was on deck she saw land at a distance, which appeared to be that of a very lovely country. The trees were of surprising height and beauty, and as the vessel neared them, she perceived they were covered with birds of the most brilliant plumage, whose songs made a charming concert. Their notes were very soft, and it appeared as if they were afraid of making too much noise. They landed on this beautiful shore. The Princess descended from the vessel, followed by her women, and from the moment she breathed the air of this island, some unknown power seemed to set her heart at rest, and she fell into an agreeable slumber, which for a short time sealed up her beautiful eyes.

This pleasant country, to which she was a stranger, was the Peaceful Island. The Fairy Anguillette, a near relation of the Princes who reigned in these parts, had conferred upon it, for two thousand years, the happy power of curing unfortunate attachments. It is confidently asserted that it still possesses that power; but the difficulty is to find the island.

The Prince who reigned in it at that period, was descended in a right line from the celebrated Princess Carpillon and her charming husband, of whom a modern Fairy, wiser and more polished than those of ancient times, has so gracefully recounted the wonderful adventures.[8]

[Pg 92]

While the fair Hebe enjoyed a repose, the sweetness of which she had not tasted for six months, the Prince of the Peaceful Island was taking an airing in the wood that fringed the shore. He was seated in his car, drawn by four young white elephants, and surrounded by a portion of his Court. The sleeping Princess attracted his attention. Her beauty astonished him. He descended from his car with a haste and vivacity unusual to his nature. He felt at the sight of her all the love which the charms of Hebe were worthy to inspire. The noise awoke her, and on opening her lovely eyes, she was struck by a thousand beauties in the young Prince. He was of the same age as Hebe—just nineteen. He was perfectly handsome, his figure full of grace, his height above the ordinary standard, and his hair, which fell in rich curls down to his waist, was of the same colour as Hebe's. His dress was composed of feathers of a thousand different colours, over which he wore a sort of mantle, with a train all made of swan's-down, and fastened on his shoulders by the finest jewels in the world. His girdle was of diamonds, from which hung by golden chains a small sabre, the hilt and sheath of which were entirely covered with rubies. A sort of helmet, made of feathers like the rest of his attire, crowned his handsome head, and on one side of it, fastened by a diamond of prodigious size, was a plume of heron's feathers, which added greatly to the effect of his appearance.

The Prince was the first object that presented itself to the eyes of the young Princess at her waking. He appeared worthy of her observation, and for the first time in her life she looked upon another than Atimir with some interest.

"Everything assures me," said the Prince of the Peaceful Island to the Princess, "that you can be no other than the divine Hebe. Alas! who else could possess so many charms?" "Who, my Lord," replied the young Princess, blushing, as she rose to her feet, "could have so soon informed you of my having landed on this island?" "A powerful Fairy," answered the young monarch, "who, desirous of making me the happiest Prince in the world, and this country the most fortunate, had promised to lead you hither, and had even permitted me to indulge in the proudest hopes; but I am too well aware," he added, with a sigh, "that my fate depends much more upon your favour than upon hers."

After this speech, to which she replied with much propriety, the Prince requested her to enter his car, that she might be [Pg 93] conducted to the palace; and out of respect to her, he would have declined taking his place in it, but as she had gathered from his language and his attendants that he was the sovereign of the island, she insisted on his seating himself beside her. Never had two such beautiful persons been seen in the same car. All the Prince's courtiers at the sight involuntarily burst into a tumult of applause. On the road, the young Prince entered into conversation with Hebe, with great animation and tenderness; and the Princess, happy to find her heart once more at ease, had recovered all her natural vivacity.

They reached the palace; it was not far from the sea-coast. It was approached through long and beautiful avenues, bordered by canals of running water. It was built entirely of ivory and roofed with agate.

The Prince's guards were drawn up in line in all the courts. In the first, they were clothed with yellow feathers, and carried quivers, bows and arrows of silver. In the second, they were all clothed with flame-coloured feathers, and wore sabres with golden hilts, and sheaths ornamented with turquoises. The royal party entered the third court, in which the guards were dressed in white feathers, and held in their hands demi-lances painted and gilt, and entwined with garlands of flowers. There was never any war in that country, so that they did not carry any formidable weapons.

The Prince, descending from his car, led the lovely Hebe to a magnificent apartment. His Court was numerous, the ladies were beautiful; the men gallant and graceful; and although everybody in the Island was dressed in feathers only, they evinced so much taste in the arrangement of the colours, that the effect was very agreeable.

That evening, the Prince of the Peaceful Island gave a superb banquet to the beautiful Hebe, which was followed by a concert of flutes, lutes, theorbos and harpsichords. In that country they were not fond of any noisy instruments. The music was very charming; when it had lasted some time, a very sweet voice sang the following words:—

Ever to be thy beauty's slave I swear, Nor can my heart conceive a happier state Than constant bondage in a chain so fair— Faithful as fond—on thee depends my fate.

[Pg 94]

The Prince gazed on Hebe while this tender air was sung, with an expression which persuaded her that the verses but declared his own sentiments.

When the concert was over, the Prince of the Peaceful Island, as it was late, led the Princess to the apartment selected for her. It was the most beautiful room in the palace. She found in it a great many ladies, who had been chosen by the Prince to have the honour of attending upon her.

The Prince quitted the beautiful Hebe the most enamoured of men. The Princess retired to rest, the ladies of the Court withdrew, and no one remained in the bed-chamber except the attendants she had brought with her. "Who could have believed it?" said she to them, as soon as they were left together, "my heart is tranquil. What deity has appeased my sufferings? I no longer love Atimir. I can think that he is the husband of Ilerie without dying of grief. Is not all this a dream which passes around me? No," she continued, after a moment's pause; "for even my dreams were never so free from agitation." She then returned thanks a thousand times to Anguillette, and fell asleep.

When she awoke the next morning the Fairy appeared to her with a gracious smile upon her countenance, which she had not seen her wear since the fatal day she had requested the gift of love. "At length," said the kind Fairy, "I have fortunately brought you hither. Your heart is free, and therefore it may be happy. I have cured you of a baneful passion; but, Hebe, may I trust that the fearful torments to which you have been exposed will sufficiently induce you to shun for ever those places in which you might chance to meet the ungrateful Atimir." What promises did not the young Princess make to the Fairy! How repeatedly did she abjure love and her faithless lover! "Remember, at least, your promises," rejoined the Fairy, with an air that inspired respect. "You will perish with Atimir should you ever seek again to behold him; but everything around you here ought to prevent your entertaining a desire so fatal to your existence. I will no longer conceal from you what I have determined upon in your favour. The Prince of the Peaceful Island is my kinsman. I protect him and his empire. He is young, he is amiable, and no Prince in the world is so worthy of being your husband. Reign, then, fair Hebe, in [Pg 95] his heart and over his realm. Your royal father consents to your union. I was in his palace yesterday. I informed him and the Queen of your present position, and they gave me full power to care for your future fortunes."

The Princess was greatly tempted to ask the Fairy what news had been heard of Atimir and Ilerie since her departure, but she dared not, after so many favours, run the risk of displeasing her. She employed to thank her all the eloquence the Fairy had gifted her with.

Her attendants now entered the chamber, and the Fairy disappeared. As soon as Hebe had arisen, twelve children of the most perfect beauty, dressed as Cupids, brought to her from the Prince twelve crystal baskets, filled with the most brilliant and fragrant flowers in the world. These flowers covered sets of jewels of all colours and of marvellous beauty. In the first basket presented to her, she found a note containing these lines:—

To the Divine Hebe.
That I adored thee yesterday I swore An hundred times; and broken ne'er can be The vows I uttered from my fond heart's core; For Love himself dictated them to me, And beauty such as thine ensureth constancy.

After what the Fairy had ordained, the Princess comprehended that she ought to receive these attentions from her new admirer as those of a Prince who was shortly to be her husband.

She received the little Cupids very graciously, and they had scarcely taken their departure, when twenty-four dwarfs, fancifully, but magnificently attired, appeared, bearing other presents. They consisted of dresses made entirely of feathers; but the colours, the work, and the jewels with which they were ornamented were so beautiful, that the Princess admitted she had never seen anything so elegant.

She chose a rose-coloured dress to wear that day. Her head-dress was composed of plumes of the same colour. She appeared so charming with these new ornaments, that the Prince of the Peaceful Island, who came to see her as soon as she was dressed, felt his passion for her redoubled. All the Court hastened to admire the Princess. In the evening the [Pg 96] Prince proposed to the fair Hebe to descend into the palace gardens, which were admirably laid out.

During the promenade, the Prince informed Hebe that the Fairy had, for the last four years, led him to expect that Princess's arrival in the Peaceful Island; "but shortly after that period," added the Prince, "on my pressing her to fulfil her promise, she appeared distressed, and said to me, 'The Princess Hebe is destined by her father to another; but if my science does not deceive me, she will not marry the Prince who has been chosen for her husband. I will let you know the issue.' Some months afterwards the Fairy returned to the island. 'Fate favours you,' said she to me: 'the Prince who was to have married Hebe will not be her husband, and in a short time you will behold here the most beautiful Princess in the world.'"

"It is true," replied Hebe, blushing, "that I was to have married the son of a King whose dominions were adjacent to those of my father; but, after several events, the love he conceived for the Princess, my sister, induced him to fly with her from my father's kingdom."

The Prince of the Peaceful Island said a thousand tender things to the beautiful Hebe respecting the happy destiny which, in accordance with the Fairy's desire, had brought the Princess into his dominions. She listened to him with greater pleasure, as it interrupted her account of her own adventures, for she feared she could not speak of her faithless lover without the Prince's observing how great had been her affection for him.

The Prince of the Peaceful Island led Hebe into a grotto, highly decorated, and embellished by wonderful fountains. The further end of the grotto was dark; there were a great many niches in it, filled with statues of nymphs and shepherds, but they could scarcely be distinguished in the obscurity. As soon as the Princess had remained a few minutes in the grotto, she heard some agreeable music. A sudden and very brilliant illumination disclosed to her that it was a portion of these statues who were performing this music, whilst the rest advanced, and danced before her a very elegant and well-conceived ballet. It was intermixed with sweet and tender songs.

They had placed all the actors in this divertissement in [Pg 97] the depths of the grotto, to surprise the Princess more agreeably.

After the ballet wild men appeared, and served up a superb collation under an arbour of jasmine and orange flowers.

The entertainment had nearly reached its termination, when suddenly the Fairy Anguillette appeared in the air, seated in a car drawn by four monkeys. She descended, and announced to the Prince of the Peaceful Island a delightful piece of good fortune, by apprising him that it was her desire he should become the husband of Hebe, and that that beautiful Princess had promised her consent.

The Prince, transported with joy, was uncertain at the moment whether his first thanks were due to Hebe or to Anguillette; and although joy does not inspire one with such affecting expressions as sorrow, he nevertheless acquitted himself with much talent and grace.

The Fairy determined not to leave the Prince and Princess before the day fixed for their union. It was to be in three days. She made superb presents to the fair Hebe and to the Prince of the Peaceful Island, and at length, on the day she had named, they repaired, followed by their whole Court and an infinite number of the inhabitants of the Island, to the temple of Hymen.

It was constructed simply of branches of olive and palmtrees interlaced, and which, by the power of the Fairy, never withered.

Hymen was therein represented by a statue of white marble, crowned with roses, elevated on an altar, decorated only with flowers, and leaning on a little Cupid of exquisite beauty, who, with a smiling countenance, presented to him a crown of myrtle.

Anguillette, who had erected this temple, resolved that everything in it should be marked by the greatest simplicity, to show that love alone could render Hymen happy. The difficulty is to unite them. As it was a miracle worthy the power of a Fairy, she had joined them indissolubly in the Peaceful Island, and, contrary to the custom in other kingdoms, one could there be married, and remain fond and faithful.

In this temple of Hymen the fair Hebe, led by Anguillette, plighted her troth to the Prince of the Peaceful Island, and [Pg 98] received his vows with pleasure. She did not feel for him the same involuntary inclination which she had done for Atimir; but her heart, being at that moment free from passion, she received this husband, by command of the Fairy, as a Prince worthy of her by his personal merit, and still more so by the affection he bore to her.

The marriage was celebrated by a thousand splendid entertainments, and Hebe found herself happy with a Prince who adored her.

In the meanwhile the King, Hebe's father, had received some ambassadors from Atimir, who sent them to request permission for him to espouse Ilerie. The King, Atimir's father, was dead, and that Prince was consequently absolute master in his own country. The hand of the Princess he had carried off was accorded to him with joy. After the marriage Queen Ilerie sent other ambassadors to her royal parents to request permission for her to revisit their Court, and to obtain their forgiveness for the fault which love had caused her to commit, and which the merit of Atimir might be pleaded in excuse of. The King consented, and Atimir proceeded to the Palace with his bride. A thousand entertainments marked the day of their arrival. Shortly afterwards the fair Hebe and her charming husband sent ambassadors also to the King and Queen, to announce their marriage to them. Anguillette had already informed them of the event, but they did not on that account receive the ambassadors with less delight or distinction.

Atimir was with the King when they were introduced to their first audience. The lovely form of Hebe could never be effaced from a heart in which she had reigned with such supreme power. Atimir sighed, in spite of himself, at the recital of the happiness of the Prince of the Peaceful Island. He even accused Hebe of being inconstant, forgetting how much reason he had given her for becoming so.

The ambassadors of the Prince of the Peaceful Island returned to their sovereign laden with honours and presents. They related to the Princess how much delight the King and Queen had manifested at the tidings of her happy marriage. But, oh! too faithful chroniclers, they informed her at the same time that the Princess Ilerie and Atimir were at the Court. These names, so dangerous to her peace, renewed her [Pg 99] anxiety. She was happy; but can mortals command uninterrupted felicity?

She could not resist her impatience to return to the Court of the King, her father. It was only, she said, to see once more him and her mother. She believed this herself; and how often, when we are in love, do we mistake our own feelings!

Notwithstanding the threats uttered by the Fairy, in order to prevent her from revisiting the spot where she might again behold Atimir, she proposed this voyage to the Prince of the Peaceful Island. At first he refused. Anguillette had forbidden him to let Hebe go out of his dominions. She continued to press him. He adored her, and was ignorant of the passion she had formerly entertained for Atimir. Is it possible to refuse anything to those we love?

He hoped to please Hebe by his blind obedience. He gave orders for their departure, and never was there seen such magnificence as was displayed in his equipage and on board his vessels.

The sage Anguillette, indignant at the little respect paid by Hebe and the Prince of the Peaceful Island to her instructions, abandoned them to their destiny, and did not make her appearance to renew the prudent advice by which they had so little profited.

The Prince and Princess embarked, and after a very prosperous voyage, arrived at the Court of Hebe's father. The King and Queen were extremely delighted to behold once more that dear Princess. They were charmed with the Prince of the Peaceful Island: they celebrated the arrival of the royal pair by a thousand entertainments throughout the kingdom. Ilerie trembled on hearing of the return of Hebe. It was decided that they should meet, and that no reference whatever should be made to past events.

Atimir requested to be allowed to see Hebe. It appeared to Ilerie, indeed, that he preferred his request with a little too much eagerness.

The Princess Hebe blushed when he entered her apartment, and they both felt an embarrassment out of which all their presence of mind could not extricate them.

The King, who was present, remarked it. He joined in their conversation; and to render the visit shorter, proposed to the Princess to descend into the Palace Gardens.

[Pg 100]

Atimir dared not offer his hand to Hebe. He bowed to her respectfully, and retired.

But what thoughts and what feelings did he not carry away with him in his heart! All the deep and tender passion he had formerly felt for Hebe was rekindled in a moment. He hated Ilerie; he hated himself. Never was infidelity followed by so much repentance, nor by so much suffering.

In the evening he went to the Queen's apartments. The Princess Hebe was there. He had no eyes but for her. He sought assiduously for an opportunity of speaking to her. She continued to avoid him; but her glances were too clearly comprehended by him for his peace. He persisted for some time in compelling her to observe that her eyes had regained their former empire over him.

Hebe's heart was alarmed by it. Atimir appeared to her still too charming. She determined to shun him as carefully as he sought her. She never spoke to him but in presence of the Queen, and then only when she could not possibly avoid it. She resolved also to advise the Prince of the Peaceful Island to return speedily to his own kingdom. But with what difficulty do we endeavour to fly from those we love!

One evening that she was reflecting on this subject, she shut herself up in her cabinet, in order to indulge in her musings without interruption. She found in her pocket a note, which had been slipped into it unperceived by her, and the handwriting of Atimir, which she recognised, threw her into an agitation which cannot be described. She considered she ought not to read it; but her heart triumphed over her reason, and opening it she found these lines:—

No more my love can to your heart appeal— For me indifference alone you feel. Your heart, fair Hebe, faithless is in turn, So soon my fatal falsehood could it learn. Alas, why can you not, with equal speed, Back to its early faith the truant lead?
The happy time is past when Hebe fair, Love's pains and pleasures deigned with me to share. Both have their fetters broken, it is true, But I my bondage hasten to renew. Alas! for my sad fault must I atone, By languishing in this sweet chain alone?

"Ah, cruel one!" exclaimed the Princess. "What have I done to you that you seek to rekindle in my soul a passion [Pg 101] which has cost me so much agony?" The tears of Hebe interrupted her utterance.

In the meanwhile Ilerie was tortured by a jealousy which was but too well founded. Atimir, carried away by his passion, lost all control over himself. The Prince of the Peaceful Island began to perceive his attachment to Hebe; but he was desirous of examining more narrowly the conduct of Atimir before he spoke to the Princess on the subject. He adored her with unabating constancy, and feared by his remarks to draw her attention to the passion of his rival.

A few days after Hebe had received Atimir's note, a tournament was proclaimed. The Princes, and all the young noblemen of the Court, were invited to break a lance in honour of the ladies.

The King and Queen honoured the tournament with their presence. The fair Hebe and the Princess Ilerie were to confer the prizes with their own hands. One was a sword, the hilt and sheath of which were entirely covered with jewels of extraordinary beauty. The other, a bracelet of brilliants of the finest water.

All the knights entered for the lists made their appearance with marvellous magnificence, and mounted on the finest horses in the world. Each wore the colours of his mistress, and on their shields were pictured gallant devices, expressive of the sentiments of their hearts.

The Prince of the Peaceful Island was superbly attired, and rode a dun-coloured horse with black mane and tail of incomparable beauty. In all his appointments rose colour was predominant. It was the favourite colour of Hebe. An ample plume of the same hue floated above his light helmet. He drew down the applause of all the spectators, and looked so handsome in his brilliant armour, that Hebe mentally reproached herself a thousand times for entertaining such feelings as the unhappiness of another had inspired her with.

The retinue of the Prince of the Peaceful Island was numerous. They were all attired according to the fashion of their country. Everything around him was elegant and costly. An esquire bore his shield, and all were eager to examine the device.

It was a heart pierced with an arrow; a little Cupid was depicted shooting many others at it to inflict fresh wounds, [Pg 102] but all except the first appeared to have been shot in vain. Beneath were these words:—

"I fear no others."

The colour and the device of the Prince of the Peaceful Island, rendered it obvious that it was as the champion of the fair Hebe he had chosen to enter the lists.

The spectators were still admiring his magnificent array, when Atimir appeared, mounted on a proud and fiery steed, entirely black. The prevailing colour of the dress he had assumed for that day was what is usually termed "dead-leaf," unadorned with gold, silver, or jewels; but on his helmet he wore a tuft of rose-coloured feathers, and although he affected great negligence in his attire, he was so handsome, and bore himself so proudly, that from the moment he entered the lists no one looked at anything else. On his shield, which he carried himself, was painted a Cupid trampling upon some chains, while at the same time he was loading himself with others that were heavier. Around the figure were these words:—

"These alone are worthy of me."

The train of Atimir were attired in dead-leaf and silver, and on them he had showered jewels. It was composed of the principal noblemen of his Court, and although they were all fine-looking men, it was easy to see by the air of Atimir that he was born to command them. It is impossible to describe the various emotions which the sight of Atimir awakened in the hearts of Hebe and Ilerie, and the poignant jealousy which the Prince of the Peaceful Island felt when he saw floating over the helmet of Atimir, a plume of the same colour as his own.

The motto of his device kindled his anger into a fury, which he controlled for the moment, only to choose a better time to vent it on his rival.

The King and Queen saw clearly enough the audacity and imprudence of Atimir, and were exceedingly angry with him; but it was not the time to show it.

The tilting was commenced amidst a flourish of trumpets which rent the air. It was exceedingly good. All the young knights made proof of their skill. The Prince of the Peaceful [Pg 103] Island, although a prey to his jealousy, signalized himself particularly, and remained conqueror.

Atimir, who was aware that the prize for the first encounter would be given by Ilerie, did not present himself to dispute the victory with the Prince of the Peaceful Island. The judges of the field declared the latter victor; and, amidst the acclamation and applause of all the spectators, he advanced with the greatest possible grace to the spot where the Royal Family were seated, to receive the diamond bracelet.

The Princess Ilerie presented it to him. He received it with due respect, and having saluted the King, Queen, and Princesses, returned to his place in the lists.

The mournful Ilerie had too clearly observed the contempt with which the fickle Atimir had treated the prize destined to be accorded by her hand. She sighed sadly, while the fair Hebe felt a secret joy which reason vainly endeavoured to stifle in her heart. Other courses were run with results similar to those which had preceded them. The Prince of the Peaceful Island, animated by the presence of Hebe, performed wonders, and was a second time conqueror; but Atimir, weary of beholding the glory of his rival, and flattered by the idea of receiving the prize from the hand of Hebe, presented himself at the opposite end of the lists.

The rivals gazed at each other fiercely, and the impending encounter between two such great Princes was distinguished by the fresh agitation which it excited in the two Princesses. The Princes ran their course with equal advantage. Each broke his lance fairly without swerving in his saddle. The acclamations were redoubled, and the Princes, without giving their horses time to breathe, returned to their places, received fresh lances, and ran a second course with the same address as the first. The King, who feared to see Fortune give the victory to either of these rivals, and in order to spare the feelings of both, sent in all haste to them to say that they ought to be satisfied with the glory they had acquired, and to request them to let the tilting terminate for that day with the course they had just run.

The King's messenger having approached them, they listened with impatience to the royal request, particularly Atimir, who, seizing the first opportunity to reply, said, "Go, tell the King that I should be unworthy the honour he does [Pg 104] me in taking an interest in my glory, if I could remain satisfied without conquest."

"Let us see," rejoined the Prince of the Peaceful Island, clapping spurs to his horse, "who best deserves the esteem of the King and the favours of Fortune!"

The King's messenger had not retraced his steps to the royal balcony before the two rivals, animated by stronger feelings than the mere desire to carry off the prize of the joust, had met in full career.

Fortune favoured the audacious Atimir: he was the conqueror. The horse of the Prince of the Peaceful Island, fatigued with the many severe courses he had run, fell, and rolled his master in the dust.

What joy for Atimir! and what fury for the unfortunate Prince of the Peaceful Island! Leaping to his feet again instantly, and advancing to his rival before any one could reach to part them,—"Thou hast conquered me in these games, Atimir," said he, with an air which sufficiently expressed his wrath, "but it is with the sword that our quarrel must be decided." "Willingly," replied the haughty Atimir. "I will await thee to-morrow at sunrise in the wood that borders the palace gardens." The Judges of the Field joined them as these last words were uttered, and the Princes mutually affected unconcern, for fear the King should suspect and frustrate their intentions. The Prince of the Peaceful Island remounted his horse, and rode with all the speed he could urge it to, from the fatal spot where he had been defeated by Atimir. In the meanwhile that Prince proceeded to receive the prize of the joust from the hand of Hebe, who presented it to him with a confusion sufficiently betraying the conflicting emotions in her bosom; while Atimir, in receiving it, displayed all the extravagancies of a passionate lover.

The King and Queen, who kept their eyes upon him, could not fail to observe this, and returned to the Palace much discontented with the termination of the day. Atimir, occupied only by his passion, left the lists, forbidding any of his train to accompany him; and Ilerie, smarting with grief and jealousy, retired to her apartments.

What then were the feelings of Hebe! "I must depart," she said to herself. "What other remedy is there for the evil I anticipate?"

[Pg 105]

In the meanwhile, the King and the Queen determined to request Atimir would return to his own dominions, to avoid the painful consequences which his love might entail upon them. They resolved also to make the same proposition to the Prince of the Peaceful Island, in order not to show any preference for either; but ah! too tardy prudence! whilst they were deliberating how best to secure the departure of the two Princes, the rivals were preparing to meet in mortal combat.

Hebe, on returning from the lists, immediately inquired for the Prince of the Peaceful Island. She was answered that he was in the palace gardens; that he had desired he might not be followed, and that he appeared very melancholy. The fair Hebe thought it was her duty to seek and console him for the slight mischances which had happened to him, and therefore, without staying a moment in her own apartment, descended into the gardens, followed only by a few of her women.

In the course of her search for the Prince of the Peaceful Island, she entered a shady alley, and came suddenly on the enamoured Atimir, who, transported by his passion, and listening only to its promptings, threw himself on his knees at a short distance from the Princess, and drawing the sword which he had that day received from her hand, exclaimed, "Hear me, beautiful Hebe! or see me die at your feet!"

Hebe's attendants, terrified by the actions of the Prince, rushed upon him, and endeavoured to force from his grasp the sword, the point of which he had directed towards himself with desperate resolution. Hebe, the unhappy Hebe, would have flown from the spot; but how many reasons concurred to detain her near him she loved!

The desire to suppress the scandal this adventure might create; the intention to implore Atimir to endeavour to stifle a passion which was so perilous to them; the pity naturally awakened by so affecting an object,—everything, in short, conspired to arrest her flight. She approached the Prince. Her presence suspended his fury. He let fall his sword at the feet of the Princess. Never was so much agitation, so much love, so much anguish, displayed in an interview that lasted but a few minutes. No words can express the feelings of those wretched lovers during that brief period. Hebe, alarmed at finding herself in the company of Atimir, almost, perhaps, in sight of the Prince of the Peaceful Island, made a [Pg 106] great effort to depart, and left him with a command never to see her more. What an order for Atimir! But for the recollection of the combat to which he had been challenged by the Prince of the Peaceful Island, he would have turned his sword an hundred times against his own breast; but he trusted to perish in revenging himself on his rival.

In the meanwhile, the fair Hebe shut herself up in her own chamber, to avoid more surely the sight of Atimir. "Relentless Fairy," she cried, "thou didst only predict my death as the consequence of my again beholding this unhappy Prince; but the tortures I suffer are a much more dreadful penalty." Hebe sent her attendants to seek for the Prince of the Peaceful Island in the gardens, and throughout the Palace; but he was nowhere to be found, and she became extremely anxious on his account. They hunted for him all night long, but in vain, for he had concealed himself in a little rustic building in the middle of the wood, to be more certain that no one could prevent his proceeding to the spot fixed on for the combat. He was on the ground at sunrise, and Atimir arrived a few minutes afterwards. The two rivals, impatient for revenge and victory, drew their swords. It was the first time the Prince of the Peaceful Island had wielded his in earnest, for war was unknown in his island.

He proved, however, not a less redoubtable antagonist on that account to Atimir. He had little skill, but much bravery, and great love. He fought like a man who set no value on his life, and Atimir worthily sustained in this combat the high reputation he had previously acquired. The Princes were animated by too many vindictive feelings for their encounter not to terminate fatally. After having fought with equal advantage for a considerable period, they dealt each other at the same instant so furious a blow, that both fell to the earth which was speedily red with their blood.

The Prince of the Peaceful Island fainted with the loss of his; and Atimir, mortally wounded, uttered but the name of Hebe as he expired for her sake.

One of the parties in search of the Prince of the Peaceful Island arrived on the spot, and were horror-struck at the sight of this cruel spectacle.

The Princess Hebe, urged by her anxiety, had descended into the gardens. She hastened towards the place from [Pg 107] whence she heard the exclamations of her people, who uttered in confusion the names of the two Princes, and beheld these fatal and affecting objects. She believed the Prince of the Peaceful Island was dead as well as Atimir, and at that moment there was little difference to be distinguished between them. "Precious lives," exclaimed Hebe, despairingly, after gazing for an instant on the unfortunate Princes,—"precious lives, which have been sacrificed for me; I hasten to avenge you by the termination of my own!" With these words she flung herself upon the fatal sword Atimir had received from her hands, and buried the point in her bosom before her people, astonished at this dreadful scene, had power to prevent her.

She expired, and the Fairy Anguillette, moved by so much misery despite of all the obstacles her science had enabled her to raise, appeared on the spot which had witnessed the destruction of these beautiful beings. The Fairy upbraided Fate, and could not restrain her tears. Then hastening to succour the Prince of the Peaceful Island, who she knew was still breathing, she healed his wound, and transported him in an instant to his own island, where, by the miraculous power she had conferred on it, the Prince consoled himself for his loss, and forgot his passion for Hebe.

The King and Queen, who had not the advantage of such assistance, gave themselves up entirely to their sorrow; and time only brought them consolation. As to Ilerie, nothing could exceed her despair. She remained constant to her grief, and to the memory of the ungrateful Atimir.

Meanwhile, Anguillette, having transported the Prince of the Peaceful Island to his dominions, touched with her wand the sad remains of the charming Atimir and the lovely Hebe. At the same instant they were transformed into two trees of the most perfect beauty. The Fairy gave them the name of Charmes,[9] to preserve for ever the remembrance of the charms which had been so brilliantly displayed in the persons of these unfortunate lovers.

FOOTNOTES:

[8] This compliment, so deservedly paid to the Countess d'Aulnoy, proves that this story was written after the production of that lady's popular fairy tale entitled "La Princesse Carpillon."

[9] Charmes is the French name for that species of elm called the yok elm.


[Pg 108]

YOUNG AND HANDSOME.

Once on a time there was a potent Fairy, who endeavoured to resist the power of Love; but the little god was more potent than the Fairy. He touched her heart without even employing all his power. A handsome Knight arrived at the Court of the Fairy in search of adventures. He was amiable, the son of a king, and had acquired renown by a thousand noble achievements. His worth was known to the Fairy. Fame had wafted the report of it even into her dominions.

The person of the young Prince corresponded so entirely with his high reputation, that the Fairy, moved by so many charms, accepted in a very short time the proposals which the handsome Knight made to her. The Fairy was beautiful, and he was sincerely in love with her. She married him, and by that marriage made him the richest and most powerful King in the world. They lived a long time most happily together after their union.

The Fairy grew old, and the King, her husband, although he kept pace with her in years, ceased to love her as soon as her beauty had departed. He attached himself to some young beauties of his Court, and the Fairy was tormented by a jealousy which proved fatal to several of her rivals. She had had but one daughter by her marriage with the handsome Knight. She was the object of all her tenderness, and was worthy of the affection lavished on her.

The Fairies, who were her relations, had endowed her from her birth with the finest intelligence, the sweetest beauty, and with graces still more charming than beauty. Her dancing surpassed anything that had ever been seen, and her voice subdued all hearts.

[Pg 109]

Her form was perfect symmetry. Without being too tall, her appearance was noble. Her hair was of the most beautiful black in the world. Her mouth small and exquisitely formed, her teeth of surprising whiteness. Her lovely eyes were black, sparkling, and expressive, and never did glances so piercing and yet so tender awaken love in the bosoms of all beholders.

The Fairy had named her Young and Handsome. She had not as yet endowed her herself. She had postponed that favour in order to judge the better in process of time by what sort of benefit she could ensure the happiness of a child that was so dear to her.

The King's inconstancies were an eternal source of affliction to the Fairy. The misfortune of ceasing to be loved induced her to believe that the most desirable of blessings was to be always lovely. And this, after a thousand reflections, was the gift she bestowed on Young and Handsome. She was then just sixteen: and the Fairy employed all her science in the formation of a spell which should enable the Princess to remain for ever exactly as she appeared at that moment. What greater benefit could she bestow on Young and Handsome than the happiness of never ceasing to be like herself? The Fairy lost the King, her husband, and although he had been long unfaithful to her, his death caused her such deep sorrow, that she resolved to abandon her empire, and to retire to a castle which she had built in a country quite a desert, and surrounded by so vast a forest that the Fairy alone could find her way through it.

This resolution sadly afflicted Young and Handsome. She wished not to quit her mother; but the Fairy peremptorily commanded her to remain; and before she returned to her wilderness, she assembled in the most beautiful palace in the world all the pleasures and sports she had long banished, and composed from them a Court for Young and Handsome, who in this agreeable company gradually consoled herself for the absence of the Fairy.

All the Kings and Princes who considered themselves worthy of her (and in those days people flattered themselves much less than they do now) came in crowds to the Court of Young and Handsome, and endeavoured by their attentions and their professions to win the heart of so lovely a Princess.

[Pg 110]

Never had anything equalled the magnificence and amusements of the palace of Young and Handsome. Each day was distinguished by some new entertainment. Everybody composing it was happy, except her lovers, who adored her without hope. She looked with favour upon none; but they saw her daily, and her most indifferent glances were sufficiently attractive to detain them there for ever.

One day Young and Handsome, content with the prosperity and popularity of her reign, wandered into a pleasant wood, followed only by some of her nymphs, the better to enjoy the charm of solitude. Absorbed by agreeable reflections, (what could she think of that would not be agreeable?) she emerged from the wood unconsciously, and walked towards a charming meadow enamelled with thousands of flowers.

Her beautiful eyes were occupied in contemplating a hundred various and pleasing objects, when they lighted in turn on a flock of sheep which was quietly feeding in the meadow on the bank of a little brook that murmured sweetly as it rippled over the pebbles in its path. It was overshadowed by a tuft of trees. A young shepherd, stretched on the grass beside the rivulet, was calmly sleeping; his crook was leaning against a tree, and a pretty dog, which appeared to be more a favourite of its master than the guardian of his flock, lay close to the shepherd.

Young and Handsome approached the brook, and cast her eyes upon the youth. What a beautiful vision! Cupid himself sleeping in the arms of Psyche did not display such charms.

The young Fairy stood gazing, and could not restrain some gestures of admiration, which were quickly succeeded by more tender emotions. The handsome shepherd appeared to be about eighteen, of a commanding form; his brown hair, naturally curling, fell in wavy locks upon his shoulders, and was in perfect harmony with the most charming face in the world. His eyes, closed in slumber, concealed from the Fairy, beneath their lids, new fires reserved by Love to redouble her passion for the shepherd.

Young and Handsome felt her heart agitated by an emotion to which it had hitherto been a stranger, and it was no longer in her power to stir from the spot.

[Pg 111]

Fairies possess the same privilege as goddesses. They love a shepherd when he is loveable, just as if he were the greatest monarch in the universe. For all classes of mortals are equally beneath them.

Young and Handsome found too much pleasure in her new sensations to endeavour to combat them. She loved fondly, and from that moment only indulged in the happy idea of being loved in return. She did not dare to wake the handsome shepherd, for fear he should remark her agitation; and pleasing herself with the notion of discovering her love for him in a gallant and agreeable manner. She rendered herself invisible to enjoy the astonishment she was about to cause him.

Immediately arose a strain of enchanting music. What an exquisite symphony! It went straight to the heart. The delicious sound awoke Alidor (such was the name of the handsome shepherd), who for some moments imagined he was in an agreeable dream; but what was his surprise when, on rising from the grass on which he had been lying, he found himself attired in the most tasteful and magnificent fashion. The colours of his dress were yellow and grey, laced with silver. His wallet was embroidered all over with the initials of Young and Handsome, and suspended by a band of flowers. His crook was of the most marvellous workmanship, ornamented with precious stones of different colours set in elegant devices. His hat was composed entirely of jonquils and blue hyacinths most ingeniously woven together.

Delighted and astonished at his new attire, he gazed at himself reflected in the neighbouring stream. Young and Handsome, meanwhile, feared an hundred times for him the fate of the beautiful Narcissus.

The wonder of Alidor was still further increased at seeing his sheep covered with silk whiter than snow, in lieu of their ordinary fleeces, and adorned with a thousand knots of ribbons of various colours.

His favourite ewe was more decorated than any of the others. She came skipping over the grass to him, appearing proud of her ornaments.

The shepherd's pretty dog had a golden collar, on which bands of small emeralds formed these four lines:—

[Pg 112]

Alas! how many fears and doubts alarm The maiden who on love her hopes would rest; A look, a word, her youthful heart may charm, But constancy alone can make it blest.

The handsome shepherd judged by these verses that he was indebted to Love for his agreeable adventure. The sun, by this time, had set. Alidor, absorbed in a delightful reverie, bent his steps towards his cottage. He did not observe any change in its exterior, but he had scarcely crossed the threshold when a delicious fragrance announced to him some agreeable novelty. He found the walls of his little hut hung with a tissue of jasmine and orange flowers. The curtains of his bed were of the same materials, looped up by garlands of pinks and roses. An agreeable atmosphere kept all these flowers perfectly fresh and beautiful.

The floor was of porcelain, on which were represented the stories of all the goddesses who had been in love with shepherds. Alidor observed this;—he was very intelligent. The shepherds of that country were not ordinary shepherds. Some of them were descended from Kings or great Princes, and Alidor could trace his pedigree up to a Sovereign who had long sat on the throne of those realms before they became a portion of the dominions of the Fairies.

Up to this period the handsome shepherd had been insensible to the charms of Love; but he now began to feel, even without having as yet distinguished the particular object, that his young heart burned to surrender itself a prisoner. He was dying with impatience to become acquainted with the Goddess or Fairy who had bestowed upon him such tasteful and beautiful proofs of her affection. He paced his chamber with a sweet anxiety which he had never before experienced. As night fell, an agreeable illumination appeared to shed a new daylight throughout the cottage. The musings of Alidor were interrupted by the sight of a rich and delicate banquet, which was served up to him by invisible hands. "What!" exclaimed the shepherd, smiling; "still new pleasures, and no one to partake them with me?" His little dog attempted to play with him, but he was too much pre-occupied to encourage his gambols.

Alidor seated himself at the table. A little Cupid appeared and presented him with wine in a cup made of one entire [Pg 113] diamond. The shepherd made a tolerable supper for the hero of such adventures. He endeavoured to question the little Cupid; but, instead of answering, the boy shot arrows at him, which, the moment they struck, became drops of exquisitely scented water. Alidor comprehended clearly by this sport that the little Cupid was forbidden to explain the mystery. The table disappeared as soon as Alidor had ceased eating, and the little Cupid flew away.

A charming symphony stole upon the ear, awaking a thousand tender sensations in the heart of the young shepherd. His impatience to learn to whom he was indebted for all these pleasures increased every instant, and it was with great joy he heard a voice sing the following words:—

Under what form, Love, wilt thou cast thy dart At the young shepherd who enthrals my heart? Once should he know he is the master there, Will he my form and face account less fair? Of my affection he will be too sure, But that may not his love for me secure. With greater power to charm, my smiles endue, I need no aid to make me fond or true.

"Appear, thou charming being!" exclaimed the shepherd; "and by your presence crown my happiness. I believe you to be too beautiful to fear that I should ever be faithless."

No answer was returned to this adjuration. The music ceased shortly afterwards; a profound silence reigned in the cottage and invited the shepherd to sweet repose. He threw himself on his bed, but it was some time before he could sleep, agitated as he was by his curiosity and his new-born passion.

The song of the birds awoke him at daybreak. He quitted his cottage and led his pretty flock to the same spot where the preceding day his good fortune had commenced. Scarcely had he seated himself beside the brook, when a canopy, composed of a most brilliant stuff of flame-colour and gold was attached to the branches of the nearest trees to shelter Alidor from the rays of the sun. Some young shepherds and pretty shepherdesses of the neighbourhood arrived at the spot. They were in search of Alidor. His canopy, his flock, and his dress excited in them great astonishment.

They advanced hastily, and eagerly asked him the origin of all these marvels. Alidor smiled at their surprise, and recounted to them what had occurred to him. More than [Pg 114] one shepherd felt jealous, and more than one shepherdess reddened with mortification. There were few of the latter in those parts who had not had designs upon the heart of the handsome shepherd, and a goddess or a fairy appeared to them by far too dangerous a rival.

Young and Handsome, who rarely lost sight of her shepherd, endured with considerable impatience the conversation of the shepherdesses. Some amongst them were very charming, and one so lovely that she might be a formidable rival even to a goddess.

The indifference with which Alidor treated them all re-assured the young Fairy. The shepherdesses quitted Alidor reluctantly, and led their flocks further into the meadow.

Shortly after they had departed, leaving only a few shepherds with Alidor, a delicious banquet appeared, set out upon a marble table. Seats of green turf arose around it, and Alidor invited his friends, the shepherds who had come to join him, to share his repast. On seating themselves at the table, they discovered that they were all attired in handsome dresses, though less magnificent than that of Alidor, which at the same moment became dazzling with jewels.

The neighbouring echoes were suddenly awakened by rustic, but graceful, music, and a voice was heard singing the following words:—

Of Alidor, envy the pleasure supreme, He only could love to this bosom impart; Ye shepherds, who beauty and worth can esteem, Do honour to him as the choice of my heart.

The astonishment of the shepherds increased every moment. A troop of young shepherdesses approached the banks of the rivulet. The melody of the music was not so much the attraction which led them to this spot, as the desire to see Alidor. They began to dance beneath the trees, forming an agreeable little bal-champêtre.

The young Fairy, who was present all the time, but invisible, assumed in an instant, with six of her nymphs, the prettiest shepherdesses' dresses that had ever been seen. Their only ornaments were garlands of flowers. Their crooks were adorned with them, and Young and Handsome, with a simple wreath of jonquils, which produced a charming effect in her [Pg 115] beautiful black hair, appeared the most enchanting person in the world. The arrival of these fair shepherdesses surprised the whole company. All the beauties of the district felt mortified. There was not a shepherd who did not eagerly exert himself to do the honours of the fête to the new-comers.

Young and Handsome, though unknown to them as a Fairy, did not receive less respect or attract less attention. The sincerest homage is always paid to beauty. Young and Handsome felt flattered by the effect of her charms unaided by the knowledge of her dignity.

As to Alidor, the instant she appeared amongst them, forgetting that the love which a goddess or a fairy bore to him bound him to avoid anything that might be displeasing to her, he flew towards Young and Handsome, and accosting her with the most graceful air in the world:—"Come, beautiful shepherdess," said he, "come and occupy a place more worthy of you. So exquisite a person is too superior to all other beauties to remain mingled with them." He offered his hand, and Young and Handsome, delighted with the sentiments which the sight of her had begun to awaken in the breast of her shepherd, allowed herself to be led by Alidor beneath the canopy which had been attached to the trees as soon as he had arrived at the spot that morning. A troop of young shepherds brought, by his orders, bundles of flowers and branches, and constructed with them a little throne, on which they seated Young and Handsome. Alidor laid himself at her feet. Her nymphs seated themselves near her, and the rest of the party formed a large circle, in which everybody took their places according to their inclinations.

This spot, adorned with so much beauty, presented the most agreeable spectacle in the world. The murmur of the brook mingled with the music, and it seemed as if all the birds in the neighbourhood had assembled there to take their parts in the concert. A great number of shepherds advanced, in separate groups, to pay their court to Young and Handsome. One amongst them, named Iphis, approaching the young Fairy, said to her, "However distinguished may be the place Alidor has induced you to accept, it is one, perhaps, very dangerous to occupy." "I believe so," answered the Fairy, with a smile that had power to captivate all hearts. "The shepherdesses of this village will find it difficult to [Pg 116] forgive me the preference which Alidor appears to have accorded to me amongst so many beauties more deserving of it." "No," rejoined Iphis; "our shepherdesses will be more just; but Alidor is beloved by a goddess." And thereupon Iphis related to Young and Handsome the adventure which had befallen the beautiful shepherd. When he had finished his story, the young Fairy, turning towards Alidor with a gracious air, said to him, "I do not desire to provoke so terrible an enemy as the goddess by whom you are beloved. Evidently she did not intend me to occupy this position, and therefore I resign it to her."

She rose as she said these words, but Alidor, gazing fondly upon her, exclaimed, "Stay, lovely shepherdess; there is no goddess whose love I would not sacrifice for the delight of adoring you; and she of whom Iphis speaks is not over wise, at least in matters of the heart, since she has permitted me to behold you!" Young and Handsome could not make any reply to Alidor. The shepherds at that moment came to request her to dance, and never was more grace displayed than on this occasion. Alidor was her partner, who surpassed himself. Never had the most magnificent fêtes at the Court of Young and Handsome afforded her so much pleasure as this rural entertainment. Love embellishes every spot in which we behold the object of our affections. Alidor felt his passion increasing every instant, and made a thousand vows to sacrifice all the goddesses and fairies in the world to the ardent love with which his shepherdess had inspired him. Young and Handsome was delighted with the evident attachment of the beautiful shepherd; but she wished to make a momentary trial of his affection. Iphis was amiable, and, if Alidor had not been present, would no doubt have been much admired. The young Fairy spoke to him twice or thrice very graciously, and danced several times with him.

Alidor burned with a jealousy as intense as his love. Young and Handsome observed it, and feeling more sure of her shepherd's heart, she ceased paining it, spoke no more to Iphis during the rest of the day, and bestowed on Alidor her most encouraging glances. Heavens! what glances! they would have filled the most insensible hearts with love.

Evening having arrived, the lovely company separated with regret. A thousand sighs followed Young and Handsome, [Pg 117] who forbade any of the shepherds to accompany her; but she promised Alidor, in a few brief words, that he should see her again in the meadows the next morning. She departed, followed by her nymphs and watched by the shepherds, who were in hopes that, by following her at a distance, they might discover, without her perceiving them, the village to which these divine beings belonged; but the moment that Young and Handsome had entered a little wood which concealed her from the sight of the shepherds, she rendered herself and her nymphs invisible, and they amused themselves for some time in seeing the shepherds vainly endeavouring to trace the road they had taken. Young and Handsome observed with pleasure that Alidor was amongst the most eager of the party.

Iphis was in despair that he had not followed them closely enough, and several of the shepherds, who had been captivated by the nymphs, passed half of the night in hunting the woods and the neighbourhood. Some authors have asserted that the nymphs, following the example of the young Fairy, thought some of these shepherds more charming than all the kings they had ever seen in their lives.

Young and Handsome returned to her palace, and, although a Fairy, always occupied by a thousand different affairs, might absent herself without causing much surprise, she found all her lovers exceedingly uneasy at not having seen her the whole day, but not one of them ventured to reproach her for it. It was necessary to be a very submissive and respectful suitor in the palace of Young and Handsome, or she would speedily issue an order for him to quit her Court. Her admirers did not even dare to speak to her of their passion. It was only by their attentions, their respect, and their constancy, that they could hope eventually to touch her heart.

Young and Handsome appeared little interested in what was passing around. She ate scarcely any supper, fell into frequent fits of musing, and the princes, her lovers, attentive to all her actions, imagined that they heard her sigh several times. She dismissed all the Court very early, and retired to her apartments.

When one is looking forward to a meeting with those we love, everything that presents itself in the interim appears very poor and very troublesome.

[Pg 118]

The young Fairy, with the nymphs who had followed her all the day, concealed in a cloud, were transported in an instant to the hut of the handsome shepherd. He had returned to it, very much vexed at not being able to ascertain the road his divine shepherdess had taken. Everything in his cottage was as charming as when he had left it; but as in musing he cast his eyes upon the floor of his little chamber, he perceived a change in it. In lieu of paintings from the stories of goddesses who had been in love with shepherds, he perceived the subjects were composed of terrible examples of unfortunate lovers who had proved unworthy of the affection of those divinities.

"You are right," exclaimed the handsome shepherd, on observing these little pictures; "you are right, Goddess. I deserve your anger; but wherefore did you permit so lovely a shepherdess to present herself to my sight? Alas! what divinity could defend a heart from the effects of such charms!" Young and Handsome had arrived in the cottage when Alidor uttered these words. She felt all the tenderness of them, and her affection was redoubled by them.

As on the previous day, a magnificent repast appeared, but Alidor did not enjoy it as he did the first. He was in love, and even a little jealous; for it often recurred to him that his shepherdess had spoken with some interest to Iphis. The promise, however, that she had made him, that he should see her the next day in the meadow, soothed a little his vexation.

The little Cupid waited on him during his repast, but Alidor, occupied by his new anxiety, spoke not a word to him. The table disappeared, and the child, approaching Alidor, presented him with two magnificent miniature cases, and then flew away.

The handsome shepherd opened one of the cases hastily. It contained the portrait of a young female of such perfect beauty, that imagination can scarcely conceive it. Under this marvellous miniature was written, in letters of gold—

"Thy happiness depends on her affection."

"One must have seen my shepherdess," said Alidor, gazing on this beautiful portrait, "not to be enchanted by so lovely [Pg 119] a person." He closed the case, and flung it carelessly on a table.

He then opened the other case which the little Cupid had given to him; but what was his astonishment at the sight of the portrait of his shepherdess, resplendent with all the charms that had made so lively an impression on his heart!

She was painted as he had seen her that very day—her hair dressed with flowers, and the little that appeared of her dress was that of a shepherdess. The handsome shepherd was so transported with his love, that he gazed on it for a long time without perceiving that the following words were written beneath the portrait:—

"Forget her attractions, or thy love will be fatal to thee."

"Alas!" exclaimed Alidor, "without her could there be any happiness?" This ecstasy delighted Young and Handsome. The beautiful face he had contemplated unmoved was only a fancy portrait. The young Fairy was desirous of ascertaining whether her shepherd would prefer her to so beautiful a person, and who appeared to be a goddess or a fairy.

Convinced of the love of Alidor, she returned to her palace, after having assembled her nymphs by a signal that had been agreed upon. It was the illumination of the sky by some harmless lightning, and since that time such is often to be seen on a summer evening, unaccompanied by thunder. The nymphs rejoined her: they had also desired to hear something more of their lovers. Some of them were sufficiently pleased. They had found their swains occupied with recollections of them, and speaking of them with ardour, but others were less satisfied with the effect of their beauty. They found their shepherds fast asleep. A man may sometimes appear very much in love during the day, who is not sufficiently so for his passion to keep him awake all night.

The young Fairy retired to rest as soon as she arrived at her palace, charmed with the sincere affection of her shepherd. She had no other anxiety than the agreeable one arising from her impatience to see him again. As to Alidor, he slept a little, and without alarming himself at the warnings which he had read beneath the two miniatures. He thought only [Pg 120] of returning to the meadow: he hoped to see his shepherdess there during the day. It seemed to him that he could not get there soon enough.

He led his charming flock to the fortunate spot where he had seen Young and Handsome; his pretty dog took good care of it. The comely shepherd could think of nothing but his shepherdess.

Young and Handsome was, much against her will, occupied that morning receiving the ambassadors of several neighbouring monarchs. Never were audiences so short; yet, notwithstanding, a considerable portion of the day passed in the performance of these tiresome ceremonies. The young Fairy suffered as much as her shepherd, whose keen impatience caused him a thousand torments.

The sun had set. Alidor had no longer any hope of seeing his shepherdess that day. How great was his grief!

He deplored his fate. He sighed incessantly. He made verses on her absence, and with the ferrule of his crook engraved them on the trunk of a young elm.

You on whom Venus looks with envious eyes, While round your steps her truant Graces play,— You on whose glances Cupid so relies That he has thrown all other darts away; How wretched in your absence must I be Who prize you ev'ry earthly bliss above!— And yet my sorrow has a charm for me, Its gloom is but the shadow of my love.

As he finished carving these lines, Young and Handsome appeared in the meadow at a distance, with her nymphs all still attired as shepherdesses. Alidor recognised her a long way off. He ran—he flew towards Young and Handsome, who received him with a smile so charming, that it would have increased the felicity of the gods themselves.

He told his love to her with an ardour capable of persuading a heart less tenderly inclined towards him than that of the young Fairy. She desired to see what he had carved on the tree, and was charmed with the talent and affection of her shepherd. He related to her all that happened to him the preceding evening, and offered a thousand times to follow her to the end of the world to fly from the love which a goddess or a fairy had unfortunately conceived for him. "My loss would be too great should you fly from that fairy," [Pg 121] replied Young and Handsome, in her sweetest manner. "It is no longer necessary for me to disguise my sentiments from you, as I am convinced of the sincerity of yours. It is I, Alidor!" continued the charming Fairy—"It is I who have given you these proofs of an affection which, if you continue faithful to me, will ensure your happiness and mine for ever!"

The handsome shepherd, transported with love and joy, flung himself at her feet, his silence appeared more eloquent to the young Fairy than the most finished oration. She bade him rise, and he found himself superbly attired. The Fairy then touching the ground with her crook, there appeared a magnificent car, drawn by twelve white horses of surpassing beauty. They were harnessed four abreast. Young and Handsome stepped into the car, and caused the comely shepherd to take his seat beside her. Her nymphs found room in it also, and as soon as they had all taken their places, the beautiful horses, who had no occasion for a driver to intimate to them the intentions of their mistress, swiftly conveyed the whole party to a favourite château belonging to the young Fairy. She had adorned it with everything that her art could furnish her with in the way of wonders. It was called the Castle of Flowers, and was the most charming residence in the world.

The young Fairy and her happy lover arrived with the attendant nymphs in a spacious court-yard, the walls of which were formed out of thick hedges of jasmines and lemon-trees. They were only breast-high. Beneath them ran a lovely river, which encompassed the court-yard; beyond it a charming grove, and then fields stretching as far as the eye could see, through which the said river made a thousand windings, as unwilling to quit so beautiful a home.

The castle was more to be admired for its architecture than for its size. It contained twelve apartments, each of which had its peculiar beauty. They were very spacious; but there was not room enough in them for the residence of Young and Handsome, and all her Court, which was the most numerous and magnificent in the universe. The young Fairy used this castle but as a place of retreat. She was accompanied thither generally by only her most favourite nymphs and the officers of her household.

She led the shepherd into the Myrtle Room. All the furniture [Pg 122] was made of myrtles in continual blossom, interlaced with an art that displayed the power and good taste of the young Fairy, even in the most simple things. All the rooms in the castle were furnished in the same manner, with flowers only. The air breathed in them was always fragrant and pure.

Young and Handsome, by her power, had banished for ever from the spot the rigours of winter, and if the heats of summer were ever permitted to penetrate these agreeable bowers, it was only to render more enjoyable the beautiful baths attached to the building, which were delicious.

The apartment was of white and blue porphyry, exquisitely sculptured; the baths being of the most curious and agreeable forms. That in which Young and Handsome bathed, was made out of a single topaz, and placed on a platform in an alcove of porcelain. Four columns, composed of amethysts of the most perfect beauty, supported a canopy of magnificent yellow and silver brocade, embroidered with pearls. Alidor, absorbed by the happiness of beholding the charming Fairy, and remarking her affection for him, scarcely noticed all these marvels.

A delightful and tender conversation detained these happy lovers for a long time in the Myrtle Room. A splendid supper was served in the Jonquil Saloon. An elegant entertainment followed. The nymphs acted to music the loves of Diana and Endymion.

Young and Handsome forgot to return to her palace, and passed the night in the Narcissus Chamber. Alidor, entranced with love, was long before he tasted the sweets of slumber in the Myrtle Room, to which he was conducted by the nymphs, on the termination of the entertainment. Young and Handsome, who forbore to use her power to calm such agreeable emotions, also laid awake till nearly daybreak.

Alidor, impatient to behold again the charming Fairy, awaited the happy moment for some time in the Jonquil Saloon. He had neglected nothing in his attire which could add a grace to his natural attractions. Young and Handsome appeared a thousand times more lovely than Venus. She passed a part of the day with Alidor and the nymphs in the garden of the castle, the beauties of which surpassed the most marvellous description. There was an agreeable little fête champêtre in a delicious grove, wherein Alidor, during a [Pg 123] favourable opportunity, had the sweet pleasure of professing his ardent love to Young and Handsome.

She desired, that same evening, to return to her palace; but promised Alidor to come back to him the next day. Never has an absence of a few hours been honoured by so many regrets. The handsome shepherd passionately desired to follow the young Fairy, but she commanded him to remain in the Castle of Flowers. She wished to hide her attachment from the eyes of all her Court. No one entered this castle without her order, and she had no fear that her nymphs would disclose her secret. The secrets of a Fairy are always safe. They are never divulged; the punishment would follow the offence too swiftly.

Young and Handsome asked Alidor for the pretty dog which had always followed him, that she might take it with her. Everything is dear to us that pleases those we love.

After the departure of the young Fairy, the shepherd, to indulge in his anxiety, rather than to dissipate it, plunged deeper into the woods to muse on his adorable mistress. In a little meadow, enamelled with flowers, and watered by an agreeable spring, which arose near the middle of the wood, he perceived his flock gambolling in the grass. It was watched by six young female slaves, with handsome features, dressed in blue and gold, with golden chains and collars. His favourite sheep recognised her master and ran to him. Alidor caressed her, and was deeply touched by the attentions of Young and Handsome to everything which concerned him.

The young slaves showed Alidor their hut. It was not far from the spot, at the end of a beautiful and very shady alley. This little dwelling was built of cedar. The initials of Young and Handsome and Alidor entwined together, appeared in every part of it, formed with the rarest woods. The following inscription was written in letters of gold upon a large turquoise:—

Let the flock of him I love In these meads for ever rove. By that Shepherd loved, the lot Of the Gods I envy not.

The handsome shepherd returned to the Castle of Flowers, enchanted by the kindness of the young Fairy. He declined [Pg 124] any entertainment that evening. When absent from those we love, what care we for amusements!

Young and Handsome returned the next day, as she had promised, to her happy lover. What joy was theirs to behold each other again! All the power of the young Fairy had never procured for her so much felicity.

She passed nearly all her time at the Castle of Flowers, and rarely now appeared at Court. In vain did the princes, her suitors, grieve almost to death at her absence, everything was sacrificed to the fortunate Alidor.

But could so sweet a happiness last long untroubled? Another Fairy, besides Young and Handsome, had seen the beautiful shepherd, and felt her heart also touched by his charms.

One evening that Young and Handsome had gone to show herself for a few moments to her Court, Alidor, engrossed by his passion, sat deeply musing in the Jonquil Saloon, when his attention was awakened by a slight noise at one of the windows, and on looking towards it he perceived a brilliant light, and the next moment he saw on a table, near which he was seated, a little creature about half a yard high, very old, with hair whiter than snow, a standing collar, and an old-fashioned farthingale. "I am the Fairy Mordicante," said she to the handsome shepherd; "and I come to announce to thee a much greater happiness than that of being beloved by Young and Handsome." "What can that be?" inquired Alidor, with a contemptuous air. "The gods have none more perfect for themselves!" "It is that of pleasing me," replied the old Fairy, haughtily. "I love thee, and my power is far greater than that of Young and Handsome, and almost equals that of the Gods. Abandon that young Fairy for me. I will revenge thee on thine enemies, and on all whom thou wouldst injure."

"Thy favours are useless to me," answered the young shepherd, with a smile; "I have no enemies, and I would injure no one; I am too well satisfied with my own lot; and if the charming Fairy I adore were but a simple shepherdess, I could be as happy with her in a cottage as I am now in the loveliest palace in the world." At these words the wicked Fairy became suddenly as tall and as large as she had hitherto been diminutive, and disappeared making a horrible noise.

[Pg 125]

The next morning, Young and Handsome returned to the Castle of Flowers. Alidor related his adventure. They both knew the Fairy Mordicante. She was very aged, had always been ugly, and exceedingly susceptible. Young and Handsome and her happy lover made a thousand jokes upon her passion, and never for a moment felt the least uneasiness as to the consequences of her fury.

Can one be a happy lover and think of future misfortunes?

A week afterwards, Young and Handsome and the lovely shepherd took an excursion in a fine barge, gilt all over, on the beautiful river which encircled the Castle of Flowers, followed by all their little Court in the prettiest boats in the world. The barge of Young and Handsome was shaded by a canopy formed of a light blue and silver tissue. The dresses of the rowers were of the same material. Other small boats, filled with excellent musicians, accompanied the happy lovers, and performed some agreeable airs. Alidor, more enamoured than ever, could gaze on nothing but Young and Handsome, whose beauty appeared that day more charming than can be described.

In the midst of their enjoyment they saw twelve Syrens rise out of the water, and a moment afterwards twelve Tritons appeared, and joining the Syrens, encircled with them the little barque of Young and Handsome. The Tritons played some extraordinary airs on their shells, and the Syrens sang some graceful melodies, which for a while entertained the young Fairy and the beautiful shepherd. Young and Handsome, who was accustomed to wonders, imagined that it was some pageant which had been prepared by those whose duty it was to contribute to her pleasure by inventing new entertainments; but all on a sudden these perfidious Tritons and Syrens, laying hold of the young Fairy's boat, dragged it under water.

The only danger which Alidor feared was that which threatened the young Fairy. He attempted to swim to her, but the Tritons carried him off despite his resistance, and Young and Handsome, borne away by the Syrens in the meanwhile, was transported into her palace.

One Fairy having no power over another, the jealous Mordicante was compelled to limit her vengeance to the making Young and Handsome endure all the misery so cruel a bereavement [Pg 126] would necessarily occasion. In the meanwhile Alidor was conveyed by the Tritons to a terrible castle guarded by winged dragons. It was there that Mordicante had determined to make herself beloved by the beautiful shepherd, or to be revenged on him for his disdain. He was placed in a very dark chamber. Mordicante, blazing with the most beautiful jewels in the world, appeared to him, and professed her affection for him. The shepherd, exasperated at being torn from Young and Handsome, treated the wicked Fairy with all the contempt she deserved. What could equal the rage of Mordicante? But her love was still too violent to permit her to destroy the object of it. After detaining Alidor several days in this frightful prison, she resolved to endeavour to conquer the faithful shepherd by new artifices. She transported him suddenly to a magnificent palace. He was served with a sumptuousness which had not been exceeded in the Castle of Flowers. Endeavours were made to dissipate his grief by a thousand agreeable entertainments, and the most beautiful nymphs in the universe, who composed his Court, appeared to dispute with each other the honour of pleasing him. Not a word more was said to him respecting the passion of the wicked Fairy; but the faithful shepherd languished in the midst of luxury, and was in no less despair at his separation from Young and Handsome, when witnessing the gayest entertainments, than he had been whilst immured in his dreadful prison.

Mordicante trusted, however, that the absence of Young and Handsome, the continual round of pleasures provided for Alidor's amusement, and the presence of so many charming women, would at length overcome the fidelity of the shepherd; and her object in surrounding him with so many beautiful nymphs, was but to take herself the figure of the one which might most attract his attention. With this view, she mingled amongst them in disguise, sometimes appearing as the most charming brunette, and at others as the fairest beauty in the universe.

Love, who is all-powerful in human hearts, had subdued for a time her natural cruelty; but desperation at being unable to shake the constancy of Alidor re-awakened her fury so powerfully, that she determined to destroy the charming shepherd, and make him the victim of the faithful love he cherished for [Pg 127] Young and Handsome. One day, without being seen, she was watching him in a beautiful gallery, the windows of which opened upon the sea; Alidor, leaning over a balustrade, mused in silence for a considerable time. But, at length, after a heavy sigh, he uttered such tender and touching lamentations, depicting so vividly his passion for the young Fairy, that Mordicante, transported with fury, appeared to him in her natural shape; and, after having loaded him with reproaches, caused him to be carried back to his prison, and announced to him that in three days he should be sacrificed to her hatred, and that the most cruel tortures should avenge her slighted affection.

Alidor regretted not the loss of a life which had become insupportable to him, deprived of Young and Handsome; and satisfied that he had nothing to fear on her account from the wrath of Mordicante, the power of the young Fairy being equal to hers, he calmly awaited the death he had been doomed to.

In the meanwhile, Young and Handsome, as faithful as her shepherd, mourned over his loss. The Syrens who had wafted her back to her palace had disappeared as soon as their task was accomplished, and the young Fairy was convinced that it was the cruel Mordicante who had bereft her of Alidor. The excess of her grief proclaimed at the same time to all her Court, her love for the young shepherd, and her loss of him.

How many monarchs were envious of the misery even into which the wicked Fairy had precipitated Alidor? What vexation for these enamoured princes to learn that they had a beloved rival, and to behold Young and Handsome occupied only in weeping for this fortunate mortal! His loss, however, revived their hopes. They had discovered at last that Young and Handsome could feel as well as inspire affection. They redoubled their attentions. Each flattered himself with the sweet hope to occupy some day the place of that fortunate lover; but Young and Handsome, inconsolable for the absence of Alidor, and worried by the advances of his rivals, abandoned her Court, and retired to the Castle of Flowers. The sight of those charming scenes, where everything recalled to her heart the recollection of the lovely shepherd, increased her melancholy and her affection.

One day, as she was walking in her beautiful gardens, and [Pg 128] gazing on the various objects with which they were adorned, she exclaimed aloud, "Alas! ye were formerly my delight; but I am now too much absorbed by my sorrow to take any further interest in your embellishment." As she ceased speaking, she heard the murmur of a gentle breeze that, agitating the flowers of this beautiful garden, arranged them instantaneously in various forms. First, they represented the initials of Young and Handsome; then those of another name, which she was not acquainted with; and a moment afterwards, they formed distinctly entire words, and Young and Handsome, astonished at this novelty, read these verses, written in so singular a fashion:—

Bid fond Zephyr tend thy bowers, At his breath awake the flowers. Thus for Flora, every morn, Doth he mead and grove adorn. How much more his pride 'twould be, Fairer Nymph, to sigh for thee!

Young and Handsome was pondering on these verses, when she saw the Deity named in them appear in the air, and hasten to declare his passion to her. He was in a little car of roses, drawn by a hundred white canary birds, harnessed ten and ten, with strings of pearl. The car approached the earth, and Zephyr descended from it close to the young Fairy. He addressed her with all the eloquence of a very charming and very gallant Divinity; but the young Fairy, in lieu of feeling flattered by so brilliant a conquest, replied to him like a faithful lover. Zephyr was not disheartened by the coldness of Young and Handsome. He hoped to soften her by his attentions. He paid his court to her most assiduously, and neglected nothing that he thought could please her.

The glory of Alidor was now complete. He had a God for his rival, and was preferred to him by Young and Handsome.

Nevertheless, this fortunate mortal was on the point of being destroyed by the fury of Mordicante. A year had nearly elapsed since the young Fairy and the beautiful shepherd had been torn from each other, when Zephyr, who had given up all hopes of shaking the constancy of Young and Handsome, and was moved by the tears which he saw her unceasingly shed for the loss of Alidor, exclaimed one day, on finding her more depressed than usual, "Since it is no longer possible for me to flatter myself, charming Fairy, that I shall ever have the good fortune to gain your affections, I am desirous of contributing at least to your felicity. What can I do to make you happy?"

Young and Handsome.—P. 128.

[Pg 129]

"To make me happy," replied Young and Handsome, with a look so full of tenderness that it was enough to revive all the love of Zephyr, "you must restore to me my Alidor. I am powerless against another Fairy, but you, Zephyr, you are a God, and can destroy all the spells of my cruel rival!" "I will endeavour," rejoined Zephyr, "to subdue the tender sentiments you have inspired me with sufficiently to enable me to render you an agreeable service." So saying, he flew away, leaving Young and Handsome to indulge in a sweet hope. Zephyr did not deceive her. He was not in the habit of loving for any length of time, without the certainty of eventual success; and it was evident to him that the young Fairy was too constant for him to hope that he could ever make her forget Alidor; he therefore flew to the horrible prison where the beautiful shepherd awaited nothing less than death. An impetuous wind, swelled by six northern breezes, that had accompanied Zephyr, blew open in an instant the gates of the dungeon, and the beautiful shepherd, enveloped in a very brilliant cloud, was wafted to the Castle of Flowers.

Zephyr, after he had seen Alidor, was less surprised at the constancy of Young and Handsome; but he did not make himself visible to the shepherd until he had restored him to the charming Fairy.

Who could describe the perfect joy of Alidor and Young and Handsome at seeing each other once more? How lovely each appeared, and how fondly was each beloved! What thanks did not these fortunate lovers render to the Deity who had secured their happiness. He left them shortly afterwards to return to Flora.

Young and Handsome was anxious that all her Court should share in her felicity. They celebrated it by a thousand festivities throughout her empire, despite the vexation of the princes, her less fortunate lovers, who were the spectators of the triumphs of the beautiful shepherd.

In order to have nothing more to fear for Alidor from the wrath of Mordicante, Young and Handsome taught him the Fairy Art, and presented him with the gift of continual [Pg 130] youth. Having thus provided for his happiness, she next considered his glory. She gave him the Castle of Flowers, and caused him to be acknowledged king of that beautiful country, over which his ancestors had formerly reigned. Alidor became the greatest monarch in the universe, on the same spot where he had been the most charming shepherd. He loaded all his old friends with favours; and, retaining for ever his charms, as well as Young and Handsome, we are assured that they loved each other eternally, and that Hymen would not disturb a passion which formed the happiness of their existence.


[Pg 131]

THE PALACE OF REVENGE.

Once on a time there was a King and Queen of Iceland, who, after twenty years of married life, had a daughter. Her birth gave them the greatest pleasure, as they had so long despaired of having children to succeed to their throne. The young Princess was named Imis; her dawning charms promised from her infancy all the wonderful beauty which shone with so much brilliancy when she arrived at a maturer age.

No one in the universe would have been worthy of her had not Cupid, who thought it a point of honour to subject to his empire, some day, so marvellous a person, taken care to cause a Prince to be born in the same Court equally charming with that lovely Princess. He was called Philax, and was the son of a brother of the King of Iceland. He was two years older than the Princess, and they were brought up together with all the freedom natural to childhood and near relationship. The first sensations of their hearts were mutual admiration and affection. They could see nothing so beautiful as themselves, consequently they found no attraction in the world that could interfere with the passion each felt for the other, even without yet knowing its name.

The King and Queen saw this dawning affection with pleasure. They loved young Philax. He was a Prince of their blood, and no child had ever awakened fairer hopes. Everything seemed to favour the designs of Cupid to render Prince Philax some day the happiest of men. The Princess was about twelve years old when the Queen, who was exceedingly fond of her, desired to have her daughter's fortune told [Pg 132] by a Fairy, whose extraordinary science was at that time making a great sensation.

She set out in search of her, taking with her Imis, who, in her distress at parting with Philax, wondered a thousand and a thousand times how anybody could trouble themselves about the future when the present was so agreeable. Philax remained with the King, and all the pleasures of the Court could not console him for the absence of the Princess.

The Queen arrived at the Fairy's castle. She was magnificently received; but the Fairy was not at home. Her usual residence was on the summit of a mountain at some distance from the castle, where she lived all alone and absorbed in that profound study which had rendered her famous throughout the world.

As soon as she heard of the Queen's arrival, she returned to the castle. The Queen presented the Princess to her, told her her name and the hour of her birth, which the Fairy knew as well as she did, though she had not been present at it. The Fairy of the Mountain knew everything. She promised the Queen an answer in two days, and then returned to the summit of the mountain. On the morning of the third day she came back to the castle, bade the Queen descend into the garden, and gave her some tablets of palm leaves closely shut, which she was ordered not to open except in the presence of the King.

The Queen, to satisfy her curiosity in some degree, asked her several questions respecting the fate of her daughter. "Great Queen," replied the Fairy of the Mountain, "I cannot precisely tell you what sort of misfortune threatens the Princess. I perceive only that love will have a large share in the events of her life, and that no beauty ever inspired such violent passions as that of Imis will do." It was not necessary to be a fairy to foresee that the Princess would have admirers. Her eyes already seemed to demand from all hearts the love which the Fairy assured the Queen would be entertained for her. In the meanwhile Imis, much less uneasy about her future destiny than at being separated from Philax, amused herself by gathering flowers; but thinking only of his love, and in her impatience to depart, she forgot the bouquet she had begun to compose, and unconsciously flung away the flowers she had amassed at first with delight. She [Pg 133] hastened to rejoin the Queen, who was taking her leave of the Fairy of the Mountain. The Fairy embraced Imis, and gazing on her with the admiration she deserved—"Since it is impossible for me," she exclaimed, after a short silence, which had something mysterious in it—"since it is impossible for me, beautiful Princess, to alter in your favour the decrees of destiny, I will at least endeavour to enable you to escape the misfortunes it prepares for you." So saying, she gathered with her own hands a bunch of lilies of the valley, and addressing the youthful Imis—"Wear always these flowers which I give to you," said she; "they will never fade, and as long as you have them about your person, they will protect you from all the ills with which you are threatened by Fate." She then fastened the bouquet on the head-dress of Imis, and the flowers, obedient to the wishes of the Fairy, were no sooner placed in the hair of the Princess, than they adjusted themselves, and formed a sort of aigrette, the whiteness of which seemed only to prove that nothing could eclipse that of the complexion of the fair Imis.

The Queen took her departure, after having thanked the Fairy a thousand times, and went back to Iceland, where all the Court impatiently awaited the return of the Princess. Never did delight sparkle with more brilliancy and beauty than in the eyes of Imis and of her lover. The mystery involved in the plume of lilies of the valley was revealed to the King alone. It had so agreeable an effect in the beautiful brown hair of the Princess, that everybody took it simply for an ornament which she had herself culled in the gardens of the Fairy.

The Princess said much more to Philax about the grief she felt at her separation from him than about the misfortunes which the Fates had in store for her. Philax was, nevertheless, alarmed at them; but the happiness of being together was present, the evils, as yet, uncertain. They forgot them, and abandoned themselves to the delight of seeing each other again.

In the meanwhile, the Queen recounted to the King the events of her journey, and gave him the Fairy's tablets. The King opened and found in them the following words, written in letters of gold:—

[Pg 134]

Fate for Imis hides despair Under hopes that seem most fair; She will miserable be, Through too much felicity.

The King and Queen were much distressed at this oracle, and vainly sought its explanation. They said nothing about it to the Princess, in order to spare her an unnecessary sorrow. One day that Philax was gone hunting, a pleasure he indulged in frequently, Imis was walking by herself in a labyrinth of myrtles. She was very melancholy because Philax was so long absent, and reproached herself for giving way to an impatience which he did not partake. She was absorbed in her thoughts, when she heard a voice, which said to her, "Why do you distress yourself, beautiful Princess? If Philax is not sensible of the happiness of being beloved by you, I come to offer you a heart a thousand times more grateful—a heart deeply smitten by your charms, and a fortune sufficiently brilliant to be desired by any one except yourself, to whom the whole world is subject." The Princess was much surprised at hearing this voice. She had imagined herself alone in the labyrinth, and, as she had not uttered a word, she was still more astonished that this voice had replied to her thoughts. She looked about her, and saw a little man appear in the air, seated upon a cockchafer. "Fear not, fair Imis," said he to her; "you have no lover more submissive than I am; and although this is the first time that I have appeared to you, I have long loved you, and daily gazed upon you." "You astonish me!" replied the Princess. "What! You have daily beheld me, and you know my thoughts? If so, you must be aware that it is useless to love me. Philax, to whom I have given my heart, is too charming ever to cease being its master, and although I am displeased with him, I never loved him so much as I do at this moment. But tell me who you are, and where you first saw me." "I am Pagan the Enchanter," replied he, "and have power over everybody but you. I saw you first in the gardens of the Fairy of the Mountain. I was hidden in one of the tulips you gathered. I took for a happy omen the chance which had induced you to choose the flower I was concealed in. I flattered myself that you would carry me away with you; but you were too much occupied with the pleasure of thinking of Philax. You [Pg 135] threw away the flowers as soon as you had gathered them, and left me in the garden the most enamoured of beings. From that moment I have felt that nothing could make me happy but the hope of being loved by you. Think favourably of me, fair Imis, if it be possible, and permit me occasionally to remind you of my affection." With these words he disappeared, and the Princess returned to the palace, where the sight of Philax dissipated the alarm she had felt at this adventure. She was so eager to hear him excuse himself for the length of time he had been hunting, that she had nearly forgotten to inform him of what had occurred to her; but at last she told him what she had seen in the labyrinth of myrtles.

The young Prince, notwithstanding his courage, was alarmed at the idea of a winged rival, with whom he could not dispute the hand of the Princess upon equal terms. But the plume of lilies of the valley guaranteed him against the effect of enchantments, and the affection Imis entertained for him would not permit him to fear any change in her heart.

The day after the adventure in the labyrinth, the Princess, on awaking, saw fly into her chamber twelve tiny nymphs, seated on honey-bees, and bearing in their hands little golden baskets. They approached the bed of Imis, saluted her, and then went and placed their baskets on a table of white marble, which appeared in the centre of the apartment. As soon as the baskets were set upon it, they enlarged to an ordinary size. The nymphs having quitted them, again saluted Imis, and one of them, approaching the bed nearer than the rest, let something fall upon it, and then they all flew away.

The Princess, despite the astonishment which so strange a sight occasioned, took up what the nymph had dropped beside her. It was an emerald of marvellous beauty. It opened the moment the Princess touched it, and she found it contained a rose leaf, on which she read these verses.

Let the world learn, to its surprise, The wondrous power of thine eyes. Such is the love I bear to thee, It makes e'en torture dear to me.

The Princess could not recover from her astonishment. At length she called to her attendants, who were as much [Pg 136] surprised as Imis at the sight of the table and the baskets. The King, the Queen, and Philax hastened to the spot on the news of this extraordinary event. The Princess, in her relation of it, suppressed nothing except the letter of her lover. She considered she was not bound to reveal that to any one but Philax. The baskets were carefully examined, and were found to be filled with jewels of extraordinary beauty, and of so great a value as to double the astonishment of the spectators.

The Princess would not touch one of them, and having found an instant when nobody was listening, she drew near to Philax and gave him the emerald and the rose leaf. He read his rival's letter with much disquietude. Imis, to console him, tore the rose leaf to pieces before his face; but ah! how dearly did they pay for that act!

Some days elapsed without the Princess hearing anything of Pagan. She fancied that her contempt for him would extinguish his passion, and Philax flattered himself by indulging in a like belief. That Prince returned to the chase as usual. He halted alone by the side of a fountain, to refresh himself. He had about him the emerald which the Princess had given him, and recollecting with pleasure the little value she set on it, he drew it from his pocket to look at it. But scarcely had he held it a moment in his hand when it slipped through his fingers, and, as soon as it touched the ground, changed into a chariot. Two winged monsters issued from the fountain and harnessed themselves to it. Philax gazed on them without alarm, for he was incapable of fear, but he could not avoid feeling some emotion when he found himself transported into the chariot by an irresistible power, and at the same moment raised into the air, through which the winged monsters caused the chariot to fly with a prodigious rapidity. In the meanwhile night came, and the huntsmen, after searching throughout the wood in vain for Philax, repaired to the Palace, whither they imagined he might have returned alone; but he was not to be found there, nor had any one seen him since he had set out with them for the chase.

The King commanded them to go back and renew their search for the Prince. All the Court shared in his Majesty's anxiety. They returned to the wood, they ran in every direction around it, and did not retrace their steps to the Palace before daybreak, but without having obtained the least intelligence [Pg 137] of the Prince. Imis had passed the night in despair at her lover's absence, of which she could not comprehend the cause. She had ascended a terrace of the Palace to watch for the return of the party that had gone in search of Philax, and flattered herself she should see him arrive in their company; but no words can express the excess of her affliction when no Philax appeared, and she was informed that it had been impossible to ascertain what had become of him. She fainted; they carried her into the Palace, and one of her women, in her haste to undress and put her to bed, took out of the hair of the Princess the plume of lilies of the valley which preserved her from the power of enchantments. The instant it was removed a dark cloud filled the apartment, and Imis disappeared. The King and Queen were distracted at this loss, and nothing could ever console them.

The Princess, on recovering from her swoon, found herself in a chamber of various-coloured coral, floored with mother-of-pearl, and surrounded by nymphs, who waited upon her with the most profound respect. They were very beautiful, and magnificently and tastefully attired. Imis first asked them where she was. "You are in a place where you are adored," said one of the nymphs to her. "Fear nothing, fair Princess, you will find in it everything you can desire." "Philax is here, then!" exclaimed the Princess, her eyes sparkling with joy. "I desire only the happiness of seeing him again." "You cherish too long the recollection of an ungrateful lover," said Pagan, at the same moment rendering himself visible to the Princess, "and as that Prince has deserted you, he is no more worthy your affection. Let resentment and respect for your own pride combine with the passion I entertain for you. Reign for ever in these regions, lovely Princess; you will find in them immense treasures, and all imaginable delights will attend your steps." Imis replied to Pagan's address with tears alone. He left her, fearing to embitter her grief. The nymphs remained with her, and used all their endeavours to console her. A magnificent repast was served up to her. She refused to eat; but at length, on the following morning, her desire to behold Philax once more made her resolve to live. She took some food, and the nymphs, to dissipate her sorrow, conducted her through various portions of the Palace. It was built entirely of shining shells, mixed with precious stones of [Pg 138] different colours, which produced the finest effect in the world; all the furniture was of gold, and of such wonderful workmanship that you might easily see it could only have come from the hands of Fairies.

After they had shown Imis the Palace, the nymphs led her into the gardens, which were of a beauty not to be described. She found in them a very brilliant car, drawn by six stags, who were driven by a dwarf. She was requested to enter the car. Imis complied; the nymphs seated themselves at her feet. They were driven to the seaside, where a nymph informed the Princess that Pagan, who reigned in this island, had made it by the power of his art the most beautiful in the universe. The sound of instruments interrupted the narration of the nymph. The sea appeared to be entirely covered with little boats, built of flame-coloured coral, and filled with everything that could be required to compose a brilliant aquatic entertainment. In the midst of the small craft, there was a barque of much larger size, on which the initials of Imis were seen in every part, formed with pearls. It was drawn by two dolphins. It approached the shore. The Princess entered it, accompanied by her nymphs. As soon as she was on board, a superb collation appeared before her, and her ears were regaled at the same time by exquisite music which proceeded from the boats around her. Songs were sung, of which her praise alone was the theme. But Imis paid no attention to anything. She remounted her car, and returned to the Palace overwhelmed with sadness. In the evening Pagan again presented himself. He found her more insensible to his love than ever; but he was not discouraged, and trusted to the effect of his constancy. He had yet to learn that in love the most faithful are not always the most happy.

Every day he offered the Princess entertainments worthy of exciting the admiration of all the world, but which were lost upon her for whom they were invented. Imis thought of nothing but the absence of her lover.

That unhappy Prince had been transported in the meanwhile, by the winged monsters, into a forest which belonged to Pagan. It was called the Dismal Forest. As soon as Philax had arrived in it, the emerald chariot and the monsters disappeared. [Pg 139] The Prince, surprised by this adventure, summoned up all his courage to his assistance, and it was the only aid on which he could reckon in that place. He first explored several of the roads through the forest. They were dreadful, and the sun never penetrated their gloom. No human being was to be found in them; not an animal even of any description; it seemed as though the beasts themselves had a horror of this dreary dwelling.

Philax lived upon the wild fruit he found in it. He passed his days in the deepest sorrow. The loss of the Princess distracted him, and sometimes, with his sword, which he had retained, he occupied himself with carving the name of Imis on the trunks of the trees, which were not adapted for so tender a practice; but when we are truly in love we frequently make things serviceable to our passion which appear to be least favourable for the purpose.

The Prince continued daily to travel through the forest, and he had been nearly a year on his journey, when one night he heard some plaintive voices, but could not distinguish any words. Alarming as these wailing sounds were at such an hour and in a place where the Prince had never yet met with mortal soul, the desire to be no longer alone, and to find at least some one as wretched as himself with whom he could weep over the misfortunes that had befallen them, made him wait with impatience for morning, when he might seek out the persons whose voices he had heard. He walked towards that part of the forest whence he fancied the sounds had proceeded, but hunted all day in vain; at length, however, towards evening, he discovered, in a spot which was clear of trees, the ruins of a castle which appeared to have been of great size and magnificence. He entered a court-yard, the walls of which were of green marble, and seemed still tolerably perfect. He found in it nothing but trees of prodigious height, standing irregularly in various parts of the enclosure. He advanced towards a spot where he perceived something elevated upon a pedestal of black marble. It proved to be a confused pile of armour and weapons, heaped one upon the other: helmets, shields, and swords of an ancient form, which composed a sort of ill-arranged trophy. He looked for some inscription which might inform him to whom these arms had [Pg 140] formerly appertained. He found one engraved on the pedestal. Time had nearly effaced the characters, and it was with much difficulty that he deciphered these words:—

To the Immortal Recollection of the Glory of the Fairy Ceora.

It was here
That on the same day
She triumphed over Cupid
And punished her faithless lovers.

This inscription did not afford Philax all the information he desired; he therefore would have continued his search through the forest if night had not overtaken him. He seated himself at the foot of a cypress, and scarcely had been there a moment, before he heard the same voices which had attracted his attention the previous evening. He was not so much surprised at this as at perceiving that it was the trees themselves which uttered these complaints, just as if they had been human beings. The Prince arose, drew his sword, and struck with it the cypress which was nearest to him. He was about to repeat the blow, when the tree exclaimed, "Hold! hold! Assault not an unhappy Prince who is no longer in a state to defend himself!" Philax stayed his hand, and becoming accustomed to this supernatural circumstance, inquired of the cypress by what miracle it was thus a man and a tree at the same time. "I am willing to inform you," replied the cypress; "and as, during two thousand years, this is the first opportunity Fate has afforded me of relating my misfortunes, I will not lose it. All the trees you behold in this court-yard were princes, renowned in their time for the rank they held in the world, and for their valour. The Fairy Ceora reigned in this country. She was beautiful, but her science rendered her more famous than her beauty. She therefore made use of other charms to subject us to her sway. She had become enamoured of the young Oriza, a prince, whose admirable qualities rendered him worthy of a better fate. I should premise to you," added the cypress, "it is the oak which you see beside me." Philax looked at the oak, and heard it breathe a heavy sigh, drawn from it, no doubt, by the recollection of its misfortune. "To attract this prince to her Court," continued the cypress, "the Fairy caused a tournament to be proclaimed. We all hastened to [Pg 141] seize this opportunity of acquiring glory. Oriza was one of the princes who disputed the prize. It consisted of fairy armour which would render the wearer invulnerable. Unfortunately, I was the conqueror. Ceora, irritated that Fate had not favoured her inclinations, resolved to avenge herself upon us. She enchanted the looking-glasses, with which a gallery of her castle was entirely lined. Those who saw her reflected but once in these fatal mirrors, could not resist feeling for her the most violent passion. It was in this gallery she received us the day after the tournament. We all saw her in these mirrors, and she appeared to us so beautiful, that those amongst us who had hitherto been indifferent to love, ceased to be so from that instant; and those who were in love with others became as suddenly faithless. We no longer thought of leaving the Fairy's palace: our only anxiety was to please her. In vain did state affairs demand our presence in our own dominions; nothing seemed of consequence to us save the hope of being beloved by Ceora. Oriza was the only one she favoured, and the passion of the other princes but gave the Fairy opportunities of sacrificing them to this lover who was so dear to her, and caused the fame of her beauty to be spread throughout the world. Love appeared for some time to have softened the cruel nature of Ceora; but at the end of four or five years she displayed her former ferocity. She revenged herself on the kings, her neighbours, for the smallest slight by the most horrible murders, and abusing the power which her enchantments gave her over us, she made us the ministers of her cruelties. Oriza strove in vain to prevent her injustice. She loved him; but she would not obey him. Having returned one day from fighting and subduing a giant whom I had challenged by her orders, I caused the arms of the vanquished to be brought into her presence. She was alone in the Gallery of Looking-glasses. I laid the giant's spoils at her feet, and pleaded my passion to her with inconceivable ardour, augmented, no doubt, by the power of the enchantment by which I was surrounded. But far from evincing the least gratitude for the success of my combat, or for the love I felt for her, Ceora treated me with the utmost contempt; and, retiring into a boudoir, left me alone in the gallery, in an indescribable state of despair and rage. I remained there some time, not knowing what resolution to [Pg 142] take; for the enchantments of the Fairy did not permit us to fight with Oriza. Careful of the life of her lover, the cruel Ceora excited our jealousy, but took from us the natural desire to revenge ourselves on a fortunate rival. At length, after having paced the gallery for some time, I remembered that it was in this place I had first fallen in love with the Fairy, and exclaimed, 'It is here that I first felt that fatal passion which now fills me with despair; and you, wretched mirrors, who have so often represented the unjust Ceora to me, with a beauty which has enslaved my heart and reason, I will punish you for the crime of offering her to my view with too great attraction.' At these words, snatching up the giant's club, which I had brought to present to the Fairy, I dashed the mirrors to pieces. No sooner were they broken than I felt even greater hatred for Ceora than I had formerly felt love for her. The princes, my rivals, felt at the same moment their charms broken, and Oriza himself was ashamed of the love which the Fairy had for him. Ceora in vain attempted to retain her lover by her tears; he was insensible to her grief, and in spite of her cries, we set out all together, determined to fly from the terrible place, but in passing through the court-yard, the sky appeared to be on fire; a frightful clap of thunder was heard, and we found it was impossible for us to move. The Fairy appeared in the air, riding on a great serpent, and addressing us in a tone of voice which betrayed her rage,—'Inconstant princes,' said she, 'I am about to punish you, by a torture which will never end, for the crime you have committed in breaking my chains, which were too great an honour for you to bear; and as for you, ungrateful Oriza, I triumph after all in the love you have felt for me. Content with this victory, I shall visit you with the same misfortune as your rivals; and I command,' added she, 'in memory of this adventure, that when the use of mirrors shall be known to all the world, the breaking of these fatal glasses shall always be a certain sign of the infidelity of a lover.' The Fairy disappeared in the air after having pronounced these words. We were changed into trees; but the cruel Ceora, no doubt with the idea of increasing our suffering, left us our reason. Time has destroyed the superb castle, which was the victim of our misfortune; and you are the only [Pg 143] visitor we have seen during the two thousand years that we have been in this frightful forest."

Philax was about to reply to this speech of the cypress tree, when he was suddenly transported into a beautiful garden; he there found a lovely nymph, who approached him with a gracious air, saying, "If you wish it, Philax, I will allow you in three days to see the Princess Imis."

The Prince, transported with joy at so unexpected a proposition, threw himself at her feet to express his gratitude. At that same moment Pagan was in the air, concealed in a cloud with the Princess Imis: he had told her a thousand times that Philax was unfaithful, but she had always refused, on the word of a jealous lover, to believe it. He now conducted her to this spot, he said, to convince her of the fickleness of the Prince she so unjustly preferred to him. The Princess saw Philax throw himself, with an air of extreme delight, at the feet of the nymph; and was in despair that she could no longer deceive herself on a point which she feared to believe more than anything in the world. Pagan had placed her at a distance from the earth, which prevented her hearing what Philax and the nymph said; and it was by his orders that the latter had presented herself to him.

Pagan led Imis back to his island, where after having convinced her of the infidelity of Philax, he found he had only redoubled the grief of that beautiful Princess without rendering her at all more favourable to himself.

In despair at finding this pretended infidelity, from which he had expected so much success, was useless to him, he resolved to be revenged on the constancy of the lovers: he was not cruel, like the Fairy Ceora, his ancestress, so he bethought him of a different punishment to that with which she had visited her unfortunate lovers. He did not wish to destroy either the Princess, whom he had so tenderly loved, nor even Philax, whom he had already made suffer so much; so, confining his revenge to the destruction of a passion which had so opposed his own, he erected in his island a Crystal Palace, and took care to put into it everything that would render life agreeable but the means of leaving it; he shut up in it nymphs and dwarfs to wait on Imis and her lover; and, when everything was prepared for their reception, he transported [Pg 144] them both there. They at first thought themselves on the summit of happiness, and blessed Pagan a thousand times for the mildness of his anger. As for Pagan, although at first he could not bear to see them together, he expected that this spectacle would one day be less painful to him. But in the meanwhile, he departed from the Crystal Palace, after having, with a stroke of his wand, engraved on it this inscription:—

Absence, danger, pleasure, pain, Were all employ'd, and all in vain, Imis' and Philax' hearts to sever. Pagan, whose power they dared defy, Condemned them, for their constancy, To dwell together here for ever!

They say that at the end of some years, Pagan was as much avenged as he desired to be; and that the beautiful Imis and Philax fulfilled the prediction of the Fairy of the Mountain, by wishing as fervently to recover the aigrette of lilies in order to destroy the agreeable enchantment, as they had formerly desired to preserve it as a safeguard against the evils which had been foretold would befal them.

Until that moment a fond pair, so blest, Had cherished in their hearts Love's constant fire: But Pagan taught them by that fatal test, That e'en of bliss the human heart could tire.


[Pg 145]

THE PRINCE OF LEAVES.

In one of those parts of the world, commonly called Fairyland, on which poets alone have the right to bestow names, there formerly reigned a King so renowned for his rare qualities, that he attracted the esteem and admiration of all the Princes of his time. He had, many years past, lost his wife, the Queen, who had never brought him a son; but he had ceased to desire one since the birth of a daughter of such marvellous beauty, that from the moment she was born he lavished all his affection and tenderness upon her. She was named Ravissante, by a Fairy, a near relative of the Queen, who predicted that the wit and the charms of the young Princess would surpass all that had ever before been known or even could be expected from her present beauty; but she added to this agreeable prediction, that the perfect felicity of the Princess would depend entirely on her heart remaining faithful to its first love. In such a case, who can feel assured of a happy destiny? The King, who desired nothing so much as the happiness of Ravissante, heartily wished that it had been attached to any other condition,—but we cannot command our own fates. He begged the Fairy, a thousand times, to bestow on the young Ravissante the gift of constancy, as he had seen her give to others the gifts of intelligence and of beauty. But the Fairy, who was sufficiently wise not to deceive him respecting the extent of her power, frankly informed the King that it did not extend to the qualities of the heart. She, however, promised to use her utmost endeavour to impress the young Princess with the sentiments that would be likely to ensure her happiness. Upon the faith of this [Pg 146] promise, the King confided Ravissante to her care from the time she attained her fifth year, preferring to deprive himself of the pleasure of seeing her rather than run any risk of marring her fortune. The Fairy therefore carried off the little Princess, who was very soon consoled for leaving the Court of her father, by the delight and novelty of passing through the air in a brilliant little car.

On the fourth day after her departure the flying car stopped in the middle of the sea, upon a rock of a prodigious size—it was one entire shining stone, the colour of which was exactly that of the sky. The Fairy remarked with pleasure that the young Ravissante was enchanted with this colour, and she drew from it a happy omen for the future, as it was the colour which signifies fidelity. Shortly after they had landed on it, the Fairy touched the rock with a golden wand which she held in her hand. The rock immediately opened, and Ravissante found herself with the Fairy, in the most beautiful palace in the world; the walls were of the same material as the rock, and the same colour prevailed in all the paintings and furniture, but it was so ingeniously mixed with gold and precious stones, that far from wearying the eye, it equally pleased in all. The young Ravissante dwelt in this agreeable palace, with several beautiful maidens, whom the Fairy had transported from various countries to attend on and amuse the Princess, and she passed her infancy in the enjoyment of every pleasure suited to her age. When she had attained her fourteenth year the Fairy again consulted the stars, in order to learn precisely when the heart of Ravissante would be touched with a passion which pleases even more than it alarms, however formidable it may appear to some; and she read distinctly in the stars that the fatal time approached when the destiny of the young Princess would be fulfilled. The Fairy had a nephew who was indescribably dear to her: he was of the same age as Ravissante, born on the same day and at the same hour. She had found, in consulting the stars also for him, that they promised him the same fate as the Princess—that is to say, perfect happiness, provided he possessed fidelity which nothing could vanquish. In order to make him both loving and faithful she had only to let him behold Ravissante. No one could resist her eyes, and the [Pg 147] Fairy hoped that the attentions of the young Prince would one day touch her heart. He was the son of a King, brother of the Fairy; he was amiable; and the young Princess not only had never had a lover, she had not even seen a man since she had lived on the rock. The Fairy consequently flattered herself that the novelty of the pleasure of being tenderly beloved would perhaps inspire the Princess with a feeling of love in return. She therefore transported the Prince, who was named Ariston, to the same rock which served both as palace and prison for the beautiful Ravissante. He there found her amusing herself with the young maidens of her Court, by weaving garlands of flowers in a forest of blue hyacinths, where they were then walking, for the Fairy, in bestowing on the rock the power of producing plants and trees, had limited the colour of them to that of the rock itself. She had already, some time since, apprised the Princess that Prince Ariston would soon visit the island, and she had added, in speaking of the Prince, everything that she thought likely to prejudice her in his favour; but she deceived herself this time; and on the arrival of Ariston, she observed nothing of that emotion or surprise which is the usual presage of a tender passion. As for the Prince, his sentiments were in perfect accordance with the wishes of the Fairy: he became passionately in love from the moment he first set eyes on Ravissante; and it was not possible to see her without adoring her, for never were grace and beauty so perfectly united as in the person of this amiable princess. She had the most exquisite complexion, and her dark brown hair added to its dazzling whiteness; her mouth had infinite charms, her teeth were more purely white than pearls; her eyes, the most beautiful in the world, were deep blue, and they were so brilliant, and at the same time so touching in their expression, that it was hardly possible to sustain their glances without yielding the heart at once to the fatal power which love had bestowed on them. She was not very tall, but perfectly beautiful, and all her movements were peculiarly graceful. Everything she did and said pleased invariably, and often a smile or a single word sufficed to prove that the charms of her mind equalled those of her person.

Such, and a thousand times more amiable than I can paint [Pg 148] her, it had indeed been difficult for Ariston not to have become distractedly in love; but the Princess received his attentions with indifference, and did not appear in the least touched by them. The Fairy remarked it, and felt a grief which was only surpassed by that of the Prince. She had remarked in the stars that he who was destined to possess Ravissante would extend his power not only over the earth, but even over the sea. Therefore her ambition made her wish that her nephew should touch the heart of the Princess as much as he desired the same effect from his love. She thought, however, that if the Prince were as learned as she was in the magic art, he might perhaps find some mode of rendering himself more attractive in the eyes of Ravissante; but the Fairy, who had never loved, was ignorant that the art of pleasing is not always to be discovered, although sought for with the utmost ardour and eagerness. She taught the Prince, therefore, in a short time, all those sciences which are known only to the fairies. He had no pleasure in learning them, nor had he any idea of employing them but with regard to his passion for Ravissante. He began to make use of them by giving every day a new fête to the Princess. She admired the wonders produced, she deigned even sometimes to praise what appeared the most gallant in these efforts of the Prince to please her; but after all, she received his devotion and his attentions as the just homage due to her beauty, and she considered them amply repaid by her condescending to receive them without anger.

Ariston began to despair of the success of his passion, but he was too speedily obliged to confess that this very time, which he complained of so justly, and in which he felt so keenly the hopelessness of his love, had, notwithstanding, been the most happy period of his life. A year after his arrival on the island he celebrated the return of that memorable day on which he had first beheld Ravissante. In the evening he gave her a fête in the forest of hyacinths. Marvellous music was heard in every part of the forest without any one being able to discover from whence the sounds proceeded. All that was sung by these invisible musicians tenderly expressed the love of Ariston for the Princess; they concluded their admirable concert by these words, which were repeated several times:—

[Pg 149]

Nor reason nor relentless Fate My sufferings can terminate! Without one ray of hope to cheer, I feel my heart consuming here. How great his power Love never knew Till from those eyes his arrows flew.

After the music, there appeared suddenly an elegant collation under a tent of silver gauze, elegantly looped up with ropes of pearls; it was open on the side towards the sea, which bounded the forest in that direction; and was illuminated by a great number of chandeliers formed of brilliants, which emitted an effulgence nearly equal to that of the sun. It was by this light that the nymphs of the court of Ravissante pointed out to her an inscription at the entrance of the pavilion, written in letters of gold upon a ruby of immense magnitude, supported by twelve little cupids, who flew away as soon as the Princess had heard this inscription read, which consisted of these lines:—

Where'er throughout the world those lovely eyes May the devoted hearts of men enchain, For one as true as in this desert sighs Those lovely eyes may search, sweet maid, in vain. But through that world your glory to proclaim, And every mortal to your altar bring, Princess, we haste to bid the trump of Fame With praise of beauty so divine to ring.

The fête continued, and Prince Ariston had at least the pleasure of engrossing the leisure of the Princess, if he could not occupy her heart. But he was deprived even of this gratification by a surprising spectacle which appeared far out at sea, and attracted the curiosity and attention of Ravissante and of all the court. The object approached, and they distinguished that it was an arbour formed of interlaced myrtle and laurel branches, closed on all sides, and propelled with great rapidity by an infinite number of winged fish. This sight was the more novel to Ravissante as she had never before seen anything of the colour of this arbour. The Fairy having foreseen that it would cause some misfortune to her nephew, had absolutely banished it from her island. The Princess watched for the approach of the strange object with an impatience which appeared to Ariston a bad omen for his love. She had not long to wait, for the winged fish brought the arbour in a few moments to the foot of the rock, and the [Pg 150] attention of the young Princess and of all the Court was redoubled.

The arbour opened, and out of it came a young man of marvellous beauty, who appeared about sixteen or seventeen years of age. He was clothed in branches of myrtle, curiously interlaced, with a scarf composed of various-coloured roses. This handsome stranger experienced as much astonishment as he occasioned. The beauty of Ravissante did not leave him at liberty to amuse himself by observing the rest of the splendid scene, the brilliancy of which had attracted him from a distance. He approached the Princess with a grace which she had never observed but in herself. "I am so surprised," said he to her, "at all I find on these shores, that I have lost the power of expressing my astonishment. Is it possible," continued he, "that such a goddess (for a goddess you surely must be) has not temples throughout the universe?" "I am not a goddess," said Ravissante, colouring; "I am an unfortunate princess banished from the states of the King, my father, to avoid I know not what misfortune, which they assure me has been predicted from the moment of my birth." "You appear to me much more formidable," replied the handsome stranger, "than those stars which may have some evil influence on your fate, and over what misfortune could not such perfect beauty triumph! I feel that it can vanquish everything," he added, sighing, "since it has conquered in a moment a heart which I had always flattered myself should remain insensible; but, Madam," continued he, without giving her time to reply, "I must, against my will, withdraw from this charming place, where I see you only, and where I have lost my peace of mind; I will return soon, if Cupid prove favourable to me." After these words, he re-entered the arbour, and in a few moments he was lost to sight.

Prince Ariston was so astounded and distressed by this adventure, that he had not at first the strength to speak; a rival had appeared in a manner as wonderful as unexpected; this rival had seemed to him only too charming, and he thought he had observed in the beautiful eyes of the Princess, whilst the stranger addressed her, a languor which he had often desired to see, but which till then he had never detected. Agonized by a despair which he dared not betray, he conducted [Pg 151] Ravissante to the Palace, where she passed part of the night, occupied by the recollection of her agreeable adventure, and made her nymphs relate each circumstance over and over again, as though she had not been herself present. As for Prince Ariston, he went to consult the Fairy, who, he hoped, might possess some charm to allay the violent grief under which he laboured; but she had no antidote for jealousy, and they do say none has ever been discovered to this day. The Prince and the Fairy, however, redoubled their enchantments to defend the entrance to the rock from this formidable stranger, whom they took for a magician. They surrounded the island with frightful monsters, who occupied a great space on the sea, and who, excited by their own natural ferocity, and by the power of the spell, seemed to assure Ariston and the Fairy that it would be an impossibility to take from them the beautiful Princess whom they so jealously guarded. Ravissante seemed to feel more vividly the power of the charms of the handsome stranger by the grief which she experienced at the obstacles opposed to his return to the island; and she resolved, at all events, to be revenged on Prince Ariston. She began to hate him, and that alone was ample vengeance. Ariston was inconsolable at finding he had provoked the hatred of Ravissante by a passion which it appeared to him should have produced just the contrary effect. The Princess mourned in secret the forgetfulness of the stranger: it appeared to her that love should have ere this made him keep his promise to return. Sometimes, also, she ceased to desire it, when she remembered the dangers with which Ariston and the Fairy had surrounded the approach to the island. One day that she was occupied in these various reflections whilst walking alone on the sea-shore—for Ariston dared not, as formerly, follow her, and the Princess refused even to attend the fêtes with which he was accustomed to entertain her,—she arrived at the same spot which the adventure with the unknown visitor had rendered so remarkable, and was struck by the appearance of a tree of extraordinary beauty floating towards the rock. The colour, which was the same as that of the myrtle arbour of the stranger, gave her a sensation of joy. The tree approached the rock, and the monsters attempted to defend the entrance, but a little breeze agitated the leaves of the tree, and having blown off a few, and driven [Pg 152] them against the monsters, they yielded to these light and harmless weapons, and even ranged themselves with a show of respect in a circle around the tree, which approached the rock without further impediment, and opened, disclosing to view the stranger seated on a throne of verdure; he rose precipitately at the sight of Ravissante, and spoke to her with so much eloquence and so much love, that after she had in a few words acquainted him with her history, she could not conceal from him that she was touched by his devotion, and rejoiced at his return. "But," said she, "is it fair that you should know the sentiments with which you have inspired me before I am informed of the name even of him who has called them forth?"

"I had no intention of concealing it from you," replied the charming unknown; "but when near you, one can speak of nothing but you; however, as you wish to know, I obey you, and beg to acquaint you that I am called the Prince of Leaves: I am the son of Spring and of a sea nymph, a relation of Amphitrite, which is the cause of my power extending over the sea: my empire comprises all parts of the earth which recognise the influence of Spring; but I chiefly inhabit a happy island where the gentle season which my father bestows reigns perpetually. There the air is always pure, the fields ever covered with flowers; the sun never scorches, but only approaches sufficiently near to illuminate it; night is banished, and it is therefore called the Island of Day. It is inhabited by a people as amiable as the climate is agreeable. It is in this place that I offer you an empire, sweet and calm, and where my heart above all things will acknowledge your sovereignty. You must, however, beautiful Princess, consent to be carried off from this rock, where you are retained in veritable bondage: notwithstanding the honours they pay you with a view to disguise the real state of the case." Ravissante could not, however, make up her mind to follow the Prince of Leaves into his empire, in spite of the fear which she had of the power of the Fairy, and the suggestions of her love; she hoped that her perseverance in rejecting the vows of Ariston, would at length cause him to resolve to conquer his passion, and that the Fairy would then restore her to her father, from whom the Prince of Leaves might demand her hand.

The Prince of Leaves.—P. 152.

[Pg 153]

"But I should at least wish," said she to him, "to be able to send you word of what happens in this island, and I know not how that is possible, as everything I do is suspected and watched." "I will leave with you here," said the Prince, "the subjects of a friend of mine, who is also a prince. They will constantly attend on you, and by them you can often send me intelligence; but remember, beautiful Princess, with what impatience I shall wait for it!" After these words, he approached the tree which had conveyed him, and having touched some of the leaves, two butterflies appeared, the one white and flame-colour, the other yellow and light-grey—the most beautiful in the world. As Ravissante gazed on them, the Prince of Leaves said, smiling, "I see you are surprised at the appearance of the confidants I give you; but these butterflies are not merely what they appear to be; it is a mystery which they will explain if you will permit them to talk to you." As he spoke, Ravissante perceived in the distance some of her nymphs, who came to seek her in her solitude, and she begged the Prince of Leaves to re-embark; he obeyed, notwithstanding the infinite regret he felt at quitting her, but he did not depart quickly enough to avoid observation; they informed Ariston and the Fairy of his return to the island, and from that moment, in order to take away from the beautiful Ravissante the means, and even the hope of seeing him again, they erected a tower on the summit of the rock formed of the same stone; and in order to render it more entirely secure, as the guard of living monsters had proved insufficient, they caused the tower and rock to be invisible to all those who should come to seek her, not daring again to trust to ordinary enchantments. Ravissante was in despair at being immured in so cruel and impregnable a prison. Prince Ariston had not concealed from her that he had rendered it invisible; he had even attempted to make her accept this care for her safety as a proof of his tender devotion; but Ravissante felt her hatred and contempt for him increase daily, and he dared no longer enter her presence. The butterflies, however, had not quitted her, and she often regarded them with pleasure as having come from the Prince of Leaves. One day that she was still more sad than usual, and musing, on a terrace at the top of the tower, the flame-coloured butterfly flew on to one of the vases filled with flowers, which ornamented the balustrade. "Why," said he, [Pg 154] all of a sudden to the Princess, "do you not send me to the Prince of Leaves, he will undoubtedly come to your relief?" Ravissante was at first so astonished at hearing the butterfly speak, although her lover had prepared her for the novelty, that she was for some minutes unable to answer; however, the name of the Prince of Leaves assisting to dissipate her surprise, "I was so astonished," said she at length, "to hear a butterfly speak like ourselves, that I could not sooner reply to you. I can well believe that you could go to apprise the Prince of Leaves of my misfortune, but what can he do?—only distress himself uselessly. He cannot find me in a place which the cruelty of my enemies has taken care to render invisible."

"It is less so than you think," replied the yellow butterfly, flying round the Princess in order to join in the conversation: "a little while ago, I surveyed your prison, I flew and even swam round it; it disappears when one is on the water, but when one is elevated in the air it ceases to be invisible. No doubt the Fairy did not consider that road so easy as to require the same defence as that by the sea. I was about to give you this hint," continued the butterfly, "when my brother broke the silence which we have hitherto preserved." This agreeable piece of news restored hope to the Princess. "Is it possible," said she, "that Ariston can have neglected any precaution which could gratify his cruelty and his love? No doubt his power, like that of the Fairy, which is unbounded over earth and sea, does not extend to the air." This was precisely the reason which had prevented the Prince and the Fairy from rendering the tower and the rock invisible from the sky. "But," added Ravissante, after some minutes' reflection, "can the Prince of Leaves have any power in the air?" "No, Madam," replied the flame-coloured butterfly, "he can do nothing, and your prison would be invisible to him though he be a demi-god, as it would be to a mortal; but—" "The Prince will then be as miserable as myself," interrupted the sorrowful Ravissante, bursting into a flood of tears, which added to her beauty, and which affected extremely the two butterflies; "and I feel I shall be more distressed at his sorrows than at my own! What ought I, then, to do?" continued she, sighing. "Send me off at once," replied the flame-coloured butterfly, briskly; "I will go and apprise the [Pg 155] Prince of Leaves of your misfortunes, and he will come to the rescue: although his power does not extend to the air, he has a prince amongst his friends who can do anything in it, and of whom he can dispose as of himself—but my brother can inform you of all this during my absence. Adieu, beautiful Princess," continued the butterfly, flying over the balustrade; "cease to weep, and count on my diligence, I will fly as rapidly as your wishes." After these words, the butterfly was lost in the air; and the Princess felt that charming and lively sensation of joy which the hope of soon beholding a beloved one inspires. She returned to her apartment, and the yellow butterfly followed her; she was extremely impatient to know from what prince her lover hoped for assistance; to end her doubts, she begged the yellow butterfly to tell her all that could contribute to augment or flatter her hopes. She placed him on a little basket of flowers, which she carried to a table near her, and the butterfly, who considered it an honour to please her, commenced his recital.

"Near the Island of Day, where the Prince of Leaves reigns, there is another, smaller but equally agreeable; the ground there is always covered with flowers, and they affirm that it is a boon granted to our country by Flora, to immortalize the memory of the happy days when she came there to find Zephyr: for they contend that it was on our island that they used to meet, when their love was still new and secret. It is called the "Island of Butterflies." The inhabitants are not of the form that you see me under. They are little winged men, very pretty, very gallant, very amorous, and so volatile that they hardly love the same thing for even one day. Whilst the golden age reigned on the earth, Cupid, who at that time flattered himself that the hearts of all mankind would be ever fond and faithful, feared that by the facility with which we flew about the world, we might teach mortals the agreeable art of changing in love, which this god called an error capable of utterly destroying the happiness of his empire. In order to interdict all communication between us and the rest of the universe, he came to our island, touched the ground with one of his arrows, and rising again upon a brilliant cloud which had borne him thither, 'If again,' said he, to the inhabitants of the island, 'you wish to traverse the [Pg 156] air, like the gods, I have taken sure means of vengeance; you can no longer, by your dangerous society, trouble the happiness of my empire.' After these words he disappeared. The threats of Cupid did not, however, take from the Butterflies the desire for change, nor even for flying, if it was only for the pleasure of occasionally quitting the earth. Some of them mounted into the air, and found that they had the same facility as they possessed before Cupid had forbidden them to do so; but as soon as they passed the limits of the Island they were changed into little insects, such as you now behold me, all of different colours, avenging Cupid having intended to mark by this variety how much they were given to inconstancy. Surprised at their metamorphosis, they returned to our island, and as soon as they touched the ground they were restored to their original form. Since that fatal time the vengeance of Cupid has always continued amongst us; when we quit the earth, nothing of our nature, as men, remains, except our mind and the liberty of speaking like them; but we have never made use of it out of our island, not choosing to make this act of vengeance celebrated by publishing it ourselves to the universe, or to alarm those who, like us, are inclined to inconstancy. We have, however, the pleasure of seeing, in our travels through the world, that fate has revenged us on Cupid without our assistance; for Inconstancy reigns with equal power to his own in the whole extent of his empire. Some centuries after this change took place in the realm of the butterflies, the Sun, that seemed to take pleasure in making it bring forth flowers, was so enchanted with his handiwork, that he fell in love with a rose of extraordinary beauty; he was tenderly beloved by her, and she sacrificed to him all the care bestowed on her by the zephyrs. At the end of some time the rose became of a different form to the rest; the Sun immediately caused others to blow, resembling her, in order that she might be less remarked in this quantity of flowers, which then appeared a new kind of plant. It has since been called 'the rose of a hundred leaves.' At length, from the Sun and this rose sprung a demi-god, whom the Sun destined to reign for ever in our island. Until then we had had no sovereign, but the son of a god who favoured so constantly our earth was received as our ruler with extreme joy; they called him the Prince of [Pg 157] the Butterflies. It is this Prince, beautiful Princess, who can assist you in the air, and whom the adventure I am about to relate has rendered such a fast friend of the Prince of Leaves.

"In a country far removed from that of the butterflies there reigns a Fairy, who dwells in a very dark cavern: they call her the Fairy of the Grotto. She is of an immense size; her complexion is a mixture of blue, green, and yellow. Her face is almost as formidable as her power, and she is so dreaded by mortals that there is not one bold enough to approach the country which she inhabits. One day the Prince of the Butterflies, travelling for his pleasure in the neighbourhood of his empire, perceived the Fairy, and surprised at this rencontre he followed her for some time to see what would become of so fearful a monster. She did not remark that she was observed, for the Prince, although the offspring of the Sun, had not been able to obtain from fate the liberty of travelling under any other form than that which we all took on leaving the kingdom, because he was born since the time when Cupid had made us feel his vengeance. However, he was not inconstant, like all his subjects, and Cupid, by way of showing him a little favour on that account, had permitted him, when he changed his form, to be of one colour only, and that colour should be the one which signifies Fidelity. Under this form he followed the Fairy as far as he pleased, and he saw her enter her dismal abode. Impelled by curiosity, he flew in after her; but what a sight awaited him at the bottom of this cavern! He there saw a young lady, more beautiful and more brilliant than the day, reclining on a bed of turf, and who appeared in extreme grief. From time to time she dried the tears which fell from her lovely eyes; her distress and the languor of her appearance added to her charms. The Prince of the Butterflies remained so entranced by this spectacle, that he forgot the form under which he appeared, and only remembered that he was desperately in love, and that he was burning to say so. He was roused from this sweet reverie by the awful voice of the Fairy, who spoke to the young lady with frightful severity. This filled his heart with sorrow and anger, as well as with despair, at not daring to express either one or the other. The Fairy, who by a natural restlessness could not [Pg 158] remain long in the same place, went out of the cavern; the Prince then approached the young person with whom he was so charmed; he flew round her, and wishing to enjoy the only liberty which his form permitted, he alighted on her hair, which was the fairest in the world, and at length upon her cheek. He was dying to tell her how much he was touched with her beauty and her grief, but by what means could he convince her that he was son of the Sun, without being able to appear before her in his own form; and how could he inform her of the vengeance of Cupid, and the inconstancy so natural to the inhabitants of the island, at the very time that he wished to persuade her that he would never cease to love her? He remained several days in the cavern, or in the forest with which it was surrounded; he could not resolve to quit this beauty that he so adored, and although he dared not speak to her, he saw her, and that was enough to make him prefer this hideous abode to the agreeable scenes where he had the pleasure of reigning, and of being acknowledged the most beautiful Prince in the world.

"During the time he remained with this young creature he always saw the Fairy treat her with incredible inhumanity, and he learnt from their conversation that this beautiful person was the Princess of the Linnets, whom the Fairy, being a relative, had carried off at a tender age, in order more easily to usurp her kingdom, which was a little island situated near to that of the Butterflies. He had heard of the Princess having been carried away, and that no one knew what had become of her. This country was called the Land of the Linnets, on account of the great quantity of those little birds that was found there. The Prince of the Butterflies pitied sincerely this unfortunate Princess, and, in the hope of being able to deliver her, he determined at length to tear himself away from her. He flew to the Island of Day without resting for a moment; he there found the Prince of Leaves, with whom he was united in the most tender bond of friendship, and who was about to pass a part of the year in the Island of Butterflies. He related his adventure to the Prince, and after discussing every means by which it would be possible to set the young Princess at liberty, the Prince of Leaves resolved to go himself into the forest of the Fairy, to inform the Princess of the Linnets of the violent love which the Prince of the Butterflies felt for [Pg 159] her, and the reason which would always prevent that unfortunate sovereign from appearing before her under his proper form, unless she consented to be transported to the Island of Butterflies. But the Prince of Leaves appeared to his friend too formidable a rival to be entrusted with the commission; for he feared, with reason, that the Princess might be more touched by the charms of so perfect a prince than by the recital of the love entertained for her by another prince whom she had never seen nor even heard speak. He deplored the cruelty of his destiny, and sought some other mode of declaring his love to the Princess, but without success.

"None but a demi-god could approach the dwelling of the Fairy without feeling immediately the direful effect of her fury. He embarked, therefore, with the Prince of Leaves, agitated by a jealous fear. It appeared to him that this Prince could not preserve for a single moment, on beholding the beautiful Princess, the insensibility on which he had always piqued himself.

"Cupid, touched at the sad state to which he was reduced, wished at least to re-assure him on this point, and at the same time triumph over the insensible heart of the Prince of Leaves. It was by you, beautiful Princess," continued the Butterfly, "that the God expected to gain this victory, and you alone are worthy of it.

"It was on the same day that the two princes embarked that they saw from afar, upon this rock, an illumination so brilliant, that the Prince of Leaves, impelled by his destiny more than by curiosity, ordered the winged fish which conducted the arbour of myrtle in which he travelled, to approach the spot from which the bright light emanated. You know the remainder of this adventure. The Prince of Leaves found you in the forest of hyacinths, and left at your feet the liberty which he had held so dear, and which, till that moment, he had always preserved. Hurried away by the impatience of the Prince of the Butterflies, who had suffered nothing but regret at the delay, he tore himself, with infinite pain, from a spot where his heart and his wishes would have made him desire to remain for ever. They continued their voyage, and the Prince of the Butterflies was so delighted to see that the Prince of Leaves was so deeply in love, and so far from being likely to become his rival, that he did not [Pg 160] doubt of its being a happy omen, and that he might count on a successful issue to his enterprise.

"They arrived in the forest of the Fairy of the Grotto; they entered her dreary abode, and Cupid, who had resolved to favour them, caused them to find the Princess of the Linnets alone and asleep. There was no time to be lost—the Prince of Leaves carried her off in the myrtle arbour, whilst the Prince of the Butterflies followed.

"The Fairy returned at this moment; she uttered the most horrible shrieks at the sight of this abduction; she thought she could prevent it by her art, and revenge herself on those who had thus dared to rescue the Princess of the Linnets. But her enchantments were powerless over the Prince of Leaves, who soon was far away from the dismal shore. In the meanwhile the Princess awoke, and was agreeably surprised at finding herself where she was, and at the presence of the Prince of Leaves. But it was an agreeable surprise, which increased when that Prince conversed with her, and informed her of the effect of her beauty, and that she would henceforth, being delivered from the tyranny of the Fairy, reign in her own empire, and in one also even finer than her own. The Prince of the Butterflies then spoke of his love with so much vivacity and tenderness, that the Princess felt excessive curiosity to see him in his true form, of which she confessed to have formed a very exalted idea from the time she heard his voice. They continued to float on, and after some days arrived at the Island of Butterflies, when the Prince hastened to land, in order to appear at length in his own person to the Princess. The Princess of Linnets then sent to inform her subjects in her own island of her adventures: they flocked to see her, and it was in their presence that she accepted the heart and empire of the happy Prince of the Butterflies. The Prince of Leaves, however, left her immediately that he had safely conducted her to that island, in order to return hither, beautiful Princess, where his anxiety and his ardent love made him impatient to be."

Ravissante listened with extreme attention to the Butterfly, when she saw Prince Ariston enter her chamber with such fury in his countenance, that she dreaded its effects. "Fate threatens me," he cried, on entering; "and as it is with some great misfortune, it must, no doubt, be that of losing [Pg 161] you; none other would affect my heart, or be worthy of being so predicted. See, Madam," he continued, addressing Ravissante, "the colour which the walls of this tower are assuming—it is a certain sign of approaching misfortune!"

As the misfortunes of Ariston were a happiness to Ravissante, she looked without distress at that which he pointed out to her notice, and perceived, indeed, that the blue stones were losing their original colour, and beginning to turn green. She was delighted to see this, as she augured from it the certain approach of the Prince of Leaves. The joy which the unhappy Ariston remarked in her eyes redoubled his despair. What did he not then say to Ravissante? And rendered sincere by the excess of his grief, he told her that his love was so great as not to allow of his ceasing to adore her, although he was sure of being miserable all his life. "I cannot doubt it," said he to the Princess, "for the Fates foretold to me as to you—that I should always be miserable if I were not always faithful to the first impressions love made on my heart. And by what means could I ever obey this cruel mandate? After one has seen you, however he may have loved before, he must forget everything—even the preservation of his own happiness in loving and seeking to please you. A young princess of the Court of the King, my father, once appeared to me worthy of my regard. I thought fully that I should be sighing to return to her after remaining here for a short time; but the first sight of you subverted all my previous plans. My reason and my heart were equally inclined for the change, and I thought nothing impossible to the tender love with which you inspired me. I flattered myself even that it might overcome fate; but your austerity, which never relaxed, has taught me that I was deceived, and that there remains for me no other hope but that of dying speedily for your sake."

The Prince Ariston finished speaking these words, which made Ravissante even think him worthy of some pity, when they saw in the air a throne of foliage, supported by an immense number of butterflies. One amongst them, which was entirely blue, and by whose colour Ravissante recognised the son of the Sun, flew to her, and said, "Come, beautiful Princess, to-day you shall resume your liberty, and make the most amiable Prince in the world happy."

[Pg 162]

The butterflies placed the throne near Ravissante; she seated herself on it, and they bore her away. Ariston, distracted at the loss of the Princess, in a paroxysm of despair, flung himself into the sea. The Fairy immediately abandoned the rock which this suicide had rendered so fatal and melancholy; and to mark her fury, she shivered both it and the tower into a thousand pieces by a clap of thunder, and the fragments were carried by the wind and waves to different sea-coasts. It is of this species of stone that they now make rings, which they call turquoise. Those which are still called "de la Vieille Roche" are made of the remains of this shattered rock, and the others are only stones which resemble them. The remembrance of the misfortune predicted to Prince Ariston by the change of colour in the walls of the tower has descended to our time. They say still that these rings become green when any misfortune is about to happen to the wearers, and that these misfortunes are generally connected with love affairs.

Whilst the Fairy gave vent to her grief by the destruction of the island, the Prince of the Butterflies, satisfied at having rendered to the Prince of Leaves a similar service to that he had received from him, conducted the beautiful Ravissante, flying before her, to a boat of rushes, ornamented with garlands of flowers, in which the Prince of Leaves awaited her with all the impatience which the violence of his love inspired. It is impossible to convey an idea of the pleasure he felt at the arrival of the Princess; never were joy and love so apparent as in the heart and language of this Prince. He sailed immediately to the Island of Day. The Prince of the Butterflies flew off to rejoin the amiable Princess of Linnets as speedily as possible. Ravissante sent two butterflies to the King, her father, to inform him of her good fortune; the good King thanked the Fates, and set out as soon as he could for the Island of Day, where the Prince of Leaves and Ravissante reigned with all imaginable felicity, and were always happy, because they never ceased to be fond and faithful.

The lot of Ravissante with envy view— Born to be blest could she prove only true. How many hapless lovers had succeeded, Had constancy been all their idols needed!


[Pg 163]

THE FORTUNATE PUNISHMENT.

There was once upon a time a King, who fell desperately in love with a Princess of his Court. As soon as he loved her he told her so. Kings are more privileged than common lovers. The Princess was not offended at a love which might place her on the throne, and the King found her as virtuous as she was charming. He married her: the wedding was incredibly magnificent; and what was even more remarkable, he became a husband without ceasing to be a lover. The felicity of this love-match was only disturbed by the fact of their having no children to succeed to their happiness and to their kingdom. The King, in order to obtain at least the comfort of hope on this point, resolved to consult a fairy, whom he believed to be particularly friendly. She was called Formidable, although she had not always been so to the King. It is said even that in the old collections of the time in that country are to be found ballads which tell a great deal about them. So bold have poets been in all ages! For the Fairy was very much respected, and appeared so stern that it was almost impossible to imagine she could ever have felt the power of love; but where are the hearts that escape? The King, who had always been very gallant, and who had a great deal of discernment, was well aware that appearances are often very deceptive. He had first met with Formidable in a wood where he had been hunting; she appeared to his eyes under a form so graceful, and with so charming an air, that the King did not doubt for a moment her desire to please: it is seldom such charms are displayed without that intention. The King fell in love with her; the Fairy felt more pleasure in being [Pg 164] loved than in always inspiring terror. This affection lasted several years; but one day when she reckoned on the heart of her lover as on a property it was impossible for her to lose, she let the King see her in her real form: she was no longer young or handsome. She repented immediately when she perceived by the altered expression of the King's face that she had been too confident of her power, and discovered that, however tender hearts may be, they cannot excite or retain love if they are not united with an agreeable person. The King was ashamed at finding he had been in love with only an imaginary beauty; he ceased to love the Fairy, and thenceforth only treated her with attention and respect. Formidable, with a pride that was natural to her, assumed so well the appearance of being contented with the esteem of the King, that she persuaded him she was one of his best friends. She even went to his wedding, in company with all the other fairies of the country, who were invited, in order not to give any one reason to fancy from her refusal that she had any dislike to the marriage.

The King, therefore, counting on the friendship of his old mistress, went to visit her in her residence, which was a palace of flame-coloured marble in the midst of a vast forest. The approach to it was by an avenue of immense length, bordered on both sides by a hundred flame-coloured lions. Formidable liked only this colour, and she had therefore by her magic art caused all the animals born in the forest to be of the same hue. At the end of the avenue was a large square, wherein a troop of Moors, clothed in flame-colour and gold, magnificently armed, kept perpetual guard.

The King traversed the forest alone; he knew the way perfectly well; he even passed through the avenue of lions without danger, for he threw them, as he entered, some ranunculuses, which the Fairy had formerly given him to use when passing those terrible beasts. As soon as the King had thrown them those beautiful flowers, they became gentle and quiet. He at length reached the Moorish guard, who at first bent their bows at him, but the King threw them some pomegranate blossoms, which he had received from the Fairy with the ranunculuses, and the Moors shot their arrows into the air, and drew themselves up in line to allow him to pass. He entered the palace of Formidable: she was in a [Pg 165] saloon, seated on a throne of rubies, in the midst of twelve Moorish women, clothed in flame-coloured gauze and gold. The Fairy's dress was of the same fashion and colour, but so covered with precious stones that it shone like the sun; yet it did not make her appear any the more beautiful. The King looked and listened for a few minutes before he entered the saloon. Near the Fairy was a quantity of books on a table of red marble: he saw that she took one and began to instruct the slaves in those secrets which render fairies so powerful; but Formidable taught them none but such as would be inimical to the happiness and comfort of mankind; she took good care to prevent their learning anything that would contribute to human felicity. The King felt he hated the Fairy; and entering the apartment, interrupted the fatal lesson, and surprised Formidable by his appearance; but recovering herself immediately, she dismissed her Moors, and regarding the King with an air of pride and anger,—"What seek you here, inconstant Prince?" she exclaimed. "Wherefore do you come to disturb by your odious presence the repose I endeavour to obtain in this seclusion?" The King was quite surprised by so unexpected a mode of address; and the Fairy, opening one of the books, continued: "I see clearly what you want. Yes, you shall have a daughter by this Princess whom you have so unjustly preferred to me, but do not hope to be happy: it is time for me to be avenged. The daughter that shall be born to you ere long shall be as much hated by all the world as I formerly loved you!" The King did everything in his power to soften the anger of the Fairy; but it was useless; hatred had succeeded to love, and nothing but love could soften the Fairy's heart; for pity and generosity were sentiments quite unknown to her. She haughtily commanded the King to leave the palace, and opening a cage, a flame-coloured parrot flew out. "Follow this bird," said she to the King, "and bless my clemency for not delivering you to the fury of my lions and guards."

The bird flew off, and the King followed, and was conducted by a road hitherto unknown to him, and much shorter than the one he had come by, into his own kingdom. The Queen, who on his return remarked his extreme sadness, begged to know the reason so importunately, that the King at length told her of the cruel prediction of the Fairy, but without informing her of [Pg 166] all that had occurred between them in former times, in order not to add to the troubles of his beautiful wife. This young Princess knew that one fairy could not positively prevent anything predicted by another of her own class, but that she might mitigate the punishment which that other had inflicted.

"I shall go," said the Queen, "in search of Lumineuse, Sovereign of the Happy Empire; she is a celebrated fairy who delights in protecting the unfortunate. She is a relation of mine; she has ever favoured me, and she even predicted the good fortune to which love would lead me." The King quite approved of the expedition of the Queen, and hoped much from it. Her equipage being ready, she set off to seek Lumineuse. The Fairy bore this name because her beauty was so dazzling that it was hardly possible to endure the brilliancy of it, and the grandeur of her soul quite equalled her extreme loveliness. The Queen arrived in a vast plain, and perceived, at a great distance, a large tower; but although it was in sight, it was very long before she could approach it, owing to the many windings in the road. It was built of white marble, and had no doors, but arched windows of crystal; a beautiful river, of which the waves appeared of liquid silver, bathed the foot of the tower, and wound nine times around it. The Queen, with all her Court, arrived on the bank of the river, at the point where it began its first circle round the dwelling of the Fairy. The Queen crossed it on a bridge of white poppies, which the power of Lumineuse had rendered as safe and as durable as if it had been built of brass. But although it was only made of flowers, it was nevertheless to be feared, for it had the power of putting people to sleep for seven years who attempted to pass it contrary to the wish of the Fairy. The Queen perceived on the other side of the bridge, six young men, magnificently attired, sleeping on beds of moss, under tents of foliage. These were princes enamoured of the Fairy: and as she never would hear love spoken of, she had not allowed them to pass any farther. The Queen, after having crossed the bridge, found herself in the first spot which the river left free; it was occupied by a charming labyrinth of laurestinus and jasmine; there were none but white, for that was the colour Lumineuse preferred. After having admired this lovely maze, and easily threaded its paths, which were only difficult for those the Fairy did not wish should enter her agreeable [Pg 167] dwelling, the Queen again crossed the river by a bridge of white anemones; it took at this place its second turn, and the space which it left before it made its third circle was occupied by a forest of acacias always in full bloom; the roads through it were charming, and so overshadowed that the rays of the sun never penetrated; a number of white doves whose plumage might have put the snow to shame were seen in all directions, and the trees were covered with countless white canary-birds, that made a delicious concert. Lumineuse, with a touch of her wand, had taught them the most beautiful and charming songs in the world. They left this lovely forest by a bridge of tube-roses, and they then entered a fair plain, wooded with trees laden with such fine and delicious fruit, that the least of them would have put to shame the famous gardens of the Hesperides. Every evening the Queen found the most beautiful tents in the world prepared for her, and a magnificent repast was served as soon as she arrived, without her seeing any of the skilful and active officers who prepared it. The Fairy, who had learnt by her books of the arrival of the Queen, took care that her journey should not be in the least degree fatiguing to her. The Queen, leaving this marvellous spot, passed the river again, by a bridge of white pinks, and entered the park of the Fairy. It was as beautiful as all the rest. The Fairy sometimes came to hunt there; it was filled with an infinite number of white stags and does, with other animals of the same colour; a pack of white greyhounds were scattered over the park, and lying on the turf with the deer and white rabbits, and other animals usually wild, but they were not so in this place, the art of the Fairy had tamed them; and when the dogs chased some beast for the amusement of Lumineuse, it appeared as if they understood it was only in play, for while they hunted it in the best style, they never did the animal any harm. In this place, the river made its fifth circuit round the dwelling of the Fairy. The Queen, in quitting the park, crossed the water on a bridge of white jasmine, and found herself in a charming hamlet. All the little cottages were built of alabaster. The inhabitants of this pleasant place were subjects of the Fairy, and tended her flocks; their garments were of silver gauze; they were crowned with chaplets of flowers; and their crooks were brilliantly studded with precious stones. [Pg 168] All the sheep were of surprising whiteness; all the shepherdesses were young and handsome; and Lumineuse loved the colour of white too well to have forgotten to bestow on them a complexion so beautiful that even the sun itself seemed to have only helped to render it more dazzling. All the shepherds were amiable, and the sole fault that could be found with this agreeable country was that there was not a single brunette to be seen there. The shepherdesses came to receive the Queen, and presented her with porcelain vases, filled with the most beautiful flowers in the world. The Queen and all her Court were charmed with their agreeable journey, and drew from it a happy presage of obtaining what she desired of the Fairy.

As she was about to leave the hamlet, a young shepherdess advanced towards the Queen, and presented her with a little white greyhound on a cushion of white velvet, embroidered with silver and pearls: it was hardly possible to distinguish the dog from the cushion, the colour was so exactly the same. "The Fairy Lumineuse, Sovereign of the Happy Empire," said the young shepherdess to the Queen, "has commanded me to present you, in her name, with 'Blanc-blanc,' which is the name of this little greyhound; she has the honour of being beloved by Lumineuse, whose art has made a marvel of her, and who has commanded her to conduct you to the tower. You will have nothing to do, Princess, but to let her go, and follow."

The Queen received the little dog with much pleasure, and was charmed at the attentions shown her by the Fairy. She caressed Blanc-blanc, who, after having returned her endearments with much intelligence and grace, jumped lightly to the ground, and began to frisk before the Queen, who followed her with all her Court. They arrived at the bank of the river, which there made its sixth turn, and were surprised to find no bridge by which to cross it. The Fairy did not wish to be troubled by the shepherds in her retreat, so there was never a bridge at that point, except when she desired herself to pass or to receive any of her friends. The Queen was pondering on this adventure, when she heard Blanc-blanc bark three times; immediately a light breeze agitated the trees on the banks of the river, and shook from them such a great quantity of orange-flowers into the water, that they formed a bridge of themselves, and the Queen crossed the [Pg 169] river by it. She rewarded Blanc-blanc by caresses, and found herself in an avenue of myrtles and orange-trees, which having traversed without any feeling of fatigue, although it was an immense length, she found herself again on the bank of the river, which made its seventh turn at that spot. She saw no bridge, but the adventure of the morning re-assured her. Blanc-blanc struck the ground three times with her little paw, and in a moment there appeared a bridge of white hyacinths. The Queen crossed it, and entered a meadow enamelled with flowers. Her beautiful tents were already pitched in it. She rested a short time, and then resumed her journey, till she again found herself on the bank of the river. There was again no means of crossing it; but Blanc-blanc advanced and drank a little of the beautiful stream, whereupon a bridge of white roses appeared, and the Queen was thereby enabled to enter the garden of the Fairy. It was so filled with wonderful flowers, extraordinary fountains, and statues of superior beauty, that it is impossible to give an exact description of it. If the Queen had not felt the utmost impatience to avert the evils with which the cruel Formidable menaced her, she would have lingered some time in this charming place. All the Court left it with regret; but they were obliged to follow Blanc-blanc, who conducted the Queen to the spot where the river made its last circuit round the dwelling of Lumineuse. The Queen then saw the Palace of the Fairy quite near to her. Nothing but the river divided her from it. She gazed on it with pleasure as the goal of her journey, and read this inscription, written on the tower in letters of gold:—

Of perfect bliss behold the charming seat, By Lumineuse to pleasure dedicated. Love only may not enter this retreat, Although 'twould seem for Love alone created.

This inscription had been composed in honour of Lumineuse by the most celebrated fairies of her time. They had wished to leave to posterity the expression of their friendship and esteem for her. Whilst the Queen thus amused herself on the banks of the river, Blanc-blanc swam across the stream, and diving brought up a shell of mother-of-pearl, which she again let fall into the water. At this signal six beautiful [Pg 170] nymphs, in brilliant attire, opened a large crystal window, and a staircase of pearls issued from it and slowly approached the Queen. Blanc-blanc ran up it quickly, till the arrival at the window of the Fairy, and entered the tower: the Queen followed, but as she ascended, the steps of the pretty staircase which she had mounted disappeared behind her, and prevented any one else from following her. She entered the beautiful tower of Lumineuse, and the window was immediately closed.

All the suite of the Queen were in despair when they lost sight of her, and found they were unable to follow, for they loved her most sincerely; their lamentations were heard even in the place where Lumineuse conversed with the Queen, and in order to re-assure these unfortunates, the Fairy sent one of her nymphs to conduct them to the hamlet, where they could await the return of the Queen. The staircase of pearls re-appeared and revived their hopes; the nymph descended, and the Queen from the window commanded them to follow and obey the messenger. The Queen remained with the Fairy, who entertained her with prodigious magnificence, and with a charm of manner which won all hearts. The Queen stayed with her for three days, which were not sufficient, however, for the inspection of all the marvels of the tower of Lumineuse; it would have taken centuries to see and admire everything which the Fairy had to show. The fourth day Lumineuse, after having laden the Queen with presents as elegant as they were magnificent, said to her, "Beautiful Princess, I am sorry not to be able to repair the misfortune with which Formidable threatens you; but that is the fault of destiny, which allows us to bestow good gifts on those whom we favour, but forbids us to undo or avert the evils inflicted by other fairies. However, to console you for the misfortune that has been predicted for you, I promise that before a year be over, you shall have a daughter so beautiful that all those who behold her shall be enchanted with her, and I will take care," added the Fairy, "to cause a Prince to be born who shall be worthy of her hand."

So favourable a prophecy made the Queen forget for a time the hatred of Formidable, and the misfortune she had threatened her with. Lumineuse did not tell the Queen the reason of Formidable being her enemy. Fairies, even when [Pg 171] they quarrel amongst themselves, keep jealously secret everything which would render them contemptible in the eyes of mortals, and 'tis said they are the only women who have the generosity not to speak ill of one another. After a thousand thanks on the part of the Queen, Lumineuse ordered twelve of her nymphs to take charge of the presents, and to conduct the Queen to the hamlet, she herself accompanying her as far as the staircase of pearls, which appeared as soon as they opened the window. When the Queen and nymphs were at the foot of the stairs they saw a silver car drawn by six white hinds: their harness was covered with diamonds; a young child, lovely as the day, drove the car, and the nymphs followed on white horses which might have vied in beauty with those of the sun. In this elegant equipage the Queen arrived at the hamlet; she there found all her Court, who were rejoiced to see her again; the nymphs then took leave of the Queen, and presented her with the twelve beautiful animals enchanted by the Fairy, so that they were never tired, informing her that Lumineuse begged she would offer them in her name to the King. The Queen, overwhelmed by the kindness of the Fairy, returned to her kingdom; the King met and received her at the frontier; he was so charmed at her return, and the agreeable news which she announced on the part of Lumineuse, that he ordered public rejoicings, the renown of which reached the ear of Formidable, and thereby redoubled her hate and anger against the King.

Soon after the return of the Queen she found she was about to become a mother, and felt assured that the beautiful Princess who was to charm all hearts would be ere long presented to the King by her, for Lumineuse had promised her birth should take place before the end of the year, and Formidable had not prescribed the time when her vengeance should be accomplished; but she had no idea of postponing it long. The Queen gave birth to two princesses, and did not doubt for a moment which was the daughter promised to her by Lumineuse, from the eagerness she felt to embrace the one which first saw the light. She found her quite worthy of the praises of the Fairy; nothing in the world could be so beautiful; the King and all who were present hastened to admire the first-born little Princess, and they entirely forgot the other; but the Queen, judging by the general neglect, [Pg 172] that the prediction of Formidable was also accomplished, gave orders several times that the same care should be taken of her as of the eldest.

The waiting-women obeyed with a repugnance which they could not overcome, and for which the King and Queen dared scarcely blame them, as they felt the same themselves. Lumineuse arrived with all speed, upon a cloud, and named the beautiful Princess Aimée, significant of the destiny which she had promised her. The King paid Lumineuse all the respect she deserved. She promised the Queen always to protect Aimée, but she bestowed on her no gift, for she had already given her all in her power. As for the other Princess, it was in vain that the King gave her the name of one of his provinces; insensibly every one accustomed themselves to call her Naimée, in cruel contradistinction to her sister Aimée. When the two Princesses had attained the age of twelve years, Formidable desired them to be sent away from the Court, in order, as she said, to diminish the love and the hate which they inspired. Lumineuse let Formidable have her way; she was sure that nothing would prevent the beautiful Aimée from reigning in the kingdom of her father, and in the hearts of his subjects. She had endowed her with such charms that no one could see her and have any doubt about it. The King, in the hope of appeasing the hatred of Formidable, which extended to all his family, resolved to obey her. He therefore sent the two young Princesses, with a youthful and agreeable Court, to a marvellous castle which he possessed in a remote part of his empire: it was called the Castle of Portraits, and was a place worthy of the learned fairy who had built it four thousand years before. The gardens and all the promenades surrounding it were lovely, but the most remarkable thing was the gallery, of immense length, which contained portraits of all the princes and princesses of the blood royal of that and all the neighbouring countries. As soon as they attained their fifteenth year their portraits were placed here, painted with an art which could be but feebly imitated by any but a fairy. This custom was to be observed until the time when the most beautiful princess in all the world should enter the castle.

This gallery was divided into two vast and magnificent apartments: the two Princesses occupied them; they had [Pg 173] the same masters, the same education; they taught nothing to the charming Aimée which was not also taught to her sister; but Formidable came and instilled lessons into the latter which spoilt all the rest, while Lumineuse, on her side, rendered Aimée, by her instructions, worthy of the admiration of the whole universe. After the Princesses had been in this castle, excluded from the Court for three years, they heard one day a strange noise, which was followed by the sound of charming music; they looked about everywhere to find from whence the noise and the concert proceeded, when they perceived three portraits occupying three places which a moment before had been vacant. The first represented a lady being crowned by two Cupids with flowers, one of whom regarded the beautiful portrait with all the attention it merited, and seemed to have forgotten to let fly an arrow at it which was fixed in his bent bow; the other held a little streamer, on which were these verses:—

Aimée received from Nature at her birth Those beauties which immortal are, alone. The Graces added loveliness to worth, And Venus yielded up to her her zone.

It was not necessary to announce this as the portrait of the beautiful Aimée; one saw in it all her features depicted with that charming grace which attracted every heart; she had an exquisitely fair complexion, the most beautiful colour in the world, a round face, lovely light hair, blue eyes, which shone with so much brightness that those who had the pleasure of seeing them thought it useless that Lumineuse should have bestowed on Aimée a gift which she was sure of possessing from her own personal beauty: her mouth was charming, her teeth as white as her skin, and Venus seemed to have given her the power of smiling like herself. It was this divine portrait which occupied the end of the gallery. The second was that of Naimée: she was fair, and did not want beauty; but notwithstanding, like the original, the portrait failed to please. These words were inscribed beneath it in letters of gold:—

Naimée, of more than common charms possest, Can in no mortal heart a dwelling find. Learn that in vain we are with beauty blest, Wanting the rarer graces of the mind.

[Pg 174]

These two portraits occupied all the attention of the two Princesses and of their juvenile Court, when Aimée, who was not proud of her own personal charms, and leaving to the others the task of admiring them, turned her eyes towards the third portrait, which had appeared at the same time with her own. She found it well worth looking at. It was that of a young Prince, a thousand times handsomer than Cupid himself; he had more the air of a god than a mortal; his black hair fell in large curls on his shoulders, and his eyes bespoke as much intelligence as his person displayed manly beauty. These words were written underneath the portrait:—"This is the Prince of the Pleasant Island." Its beauty surprised everybody, but it affected the lovely Aimée particularly—her young heart experienced an unknown emotion; and Naimée even, at the sight of this handsome portrait, found she was not exempt from a passion which she could not herself inspire. The adventure itself did not so much astonish any one, for they were accustomed to see wonderful things in that country. The King and Queen came to the Castle to visit the Princesses, and had a great many copies made of their portraits, which they sent to all the neighbouring kingdoms. But Aimée, as soon as she was alone, carried away by an involuntary impulse, returned to the gallery of portraits, where that of the Prince of the Pleasant Island engrossed all her attention, and was every way worthy of it.

Naimée, who had nothing in common with her sister, save an equal admiration of the portrait of the Prince, also passed nearly all her time in the gallery. This growing passion so increased the hatred of Naimée for her sister, that not being able herself to injure her, she incessantly implored the fairy Formidable to punish her for possessing superior charms. The cruel Fairy never neglected an opportunity of doing harm; so, following her own inclination, while yielding to the solicitations of Naimée, she went in search of the amiable Princess, who was walking on the bank of the river which flowed at the foot of the Castle of Portraits: "Go!" said Formidable to her, touching her with an ebony wand which she carried in her hand,—"Go! Follow continually the winding of this river, until the day when thou shalt meet a person who hates [Pg 175] thee more than I do, and until that hour thou shalt not stop to rest in any place in the world!" The Princess, at this terrible order, began to weep. Such tears! In all the universe no heart but that of Formidable could be found incapable of being softened by them. Lumineuse hastened to the assistance of the beautiful and unhappy Aimée. "Be comforted," said she; "the journey to which Formidable has condemned thee shall terminate in a delightful adventure, and during it thou shalt have nothing but pleasure." Aimée, after this favourable prediction, departed with one single regret, which was that she should see no more the beautiful portrait of the Prince of the Pleasant Island; but she dared not express her sorrow to the Fairy. She therefore set out on her journey, and everything appeared sensible of her charms. None but the gentlest airs breathed in the places through which she passed. Everywhere she found nymphs ready to wait on her with the utmost respect; the meadows were covered with flowers at her approach; and when the sun became too powerful, the trees increased their foliage to protect her from its beams.

While the beautiful Princess made so pleasant a journey, Lumineuse did not merely limit her exertions to neutralizing the evil designs of Formidable; she sought Naimée, and striking her with an ivory wand—"Begone!" said she. "Follow in thy turn the banks of the river, and never shalt thou rest until thou shalt find a person who loves thee as much as thou deservest to be hated!" Naimée departed, and no one regretted her absence.

Even Formidable, who was always well pleased when she caused pain, thought no more of Naimée, and did not condescend to protect her any longer. The two Princesses thus continued their journey, Naimée with all the fatigue possible, the most beautiful flowers changing into thorns in her path; and the lovely Princess, with all the pleasures which Lumineuse had led her to hope for,—indeed, she found them still greater than she had expected.

At the close of a beautiful day, at the hour when the sun sank to rest in the arms of Thetis, Aimée seated herself on the bank of the river. Immediately an infinite number of flowers, springing up around her, formed a sort of couch, the [Pg 176] charms of which she would have admired for a much longer time had she not perceived an object on the river which prevented her from thinking of anything else; it was a little boat made of amethyst, ornamented with a thousand streamers of the same colour, inscribed with cyphers and gallant devices. Twelve young men, clothed in light garments of grey and silver, crowned with garlands of amaranths, rowed with so much diligence, that the boat was very soon sufficiently close to the shore to allow Aimée to remark its various beauties. It was with a feeling of agreeable surprise that she perceived in every part of it her name and her initials. A moment after, the Princess recognised her portrait upon a little altar of topaz, raised in the centre of the boat; and beneath the portrait she read these words.

"If this be not love, what is it?"

After the first emotion of surprise and admiration, she feared to see the stranger land who appeared to be so very gallant. "Everything informs me of the love of an unknown admirer," said Aimée to herself; "but I feel that the Prince of the Pleasant Island is alone worthy to inspire me with that sentiment which I too plainly perceive is entertained for me by another. Fatal portrait!" she exclaimed; "why did destiny present it to my view at a time when, so far from defending myself from its influence, I was even ignorant that it was possible to love anything more tenderly than flowers."

This reflection was followed by many sighs, and she would have remained longer buried in her sweet reverie, if the agreeable sound of divers instruments had not roused her from it. She looked towards the boat from whence these pleasing sounds proceeded. A man, whose face she could not see, clothed in a robe of that same magnificent colour which was displayed in his entire equipage, appeared to be entirely occupied in the contemplation of her portrait, whilst six beautiful nymphs formed a charming concert, and accompanied these words, which were sung by him who did not take his eyes off the picture of the Princess. The air was Duboulai's:—[10]

[Pg 177]

Let all things witness to my passion bear, And vaunt the beauties of my matchless fair! Aimée more charms than Venus' self displays! Ye Nymphs in turn your tuneful voices raise. Let all things witness to my passion bear, And vaunt the beauties of my matchless fair!
The Graces gladly quit the Queen of Love To follow one whose smile far more they prize. To see and serve her is a bliss above All that the gods can offer in the skies. Aimée more charms, &c.
One glance from her sweet eyes my heart subdued. All yield to her! all to her empire bow! And till the moment man her beauty viewed None could have loved as all the world must now! Aimée more charms, &c.

The sweetness of the music detained the beautiful Aimée on the bank of the river. When it was finished, the stranger turned his face towards her, and enabled her to recognise, with as much confusion as pleasure, the agreeable features of the Prince of the Pleasant Island. What a surprise, what joy to see this charming Prince, and to find he thought of nothing but her! One must know how to love as they did in the days of the Fairies, to understand all that the young Princess felt.

The Prince of the Pleasant Island was equally astonished. He hastened to land on the fortunate shore which presented to his view the divine Aimée. She had not the heart to fly from so perfect a prince, though she upbraided fate a thousand times for her own weakness. On such occasions fate generally bears the blame.

It is impossible to express what the young lovers said to each other. Often, indeed, they understood each other without speaking. Lumineuse, who had conducted to this place both the pretty boat and the steps of Aimée, appeared all at once to re-assure the timid Princess, who had at length made up her mind to avoid so charming and dangerous a Prince. She told them that they were destined to love each other, and to be for ever united. "But," added the Fairy, "before this happy time arrives, you must finish the journey commanded by Formidable."

It is impossible to disobey the Fairies; so the beautiful Aimée and the Prince were satisfied with the pleasure of [Pg 178] being together, and felt that anything which did not separate them was only too delightful. They continued, therefore, their route, sometimes in the pretty boat, sometimes wandering on foot through a vast, but beautiful wilderness, which the river fertilized with its waters. It was in this tranquil seclusion that the Prince of the Pleasant Island completely lost his peace of mind. He informed the beautiful Princess of all he had felt for her since the happy day when her divine portrait had been brought to his Court, and that one morning as he was walking on the banks of the river, and dreaming of her, Lumineuse had appeared, and, showing him the amethyst boat, commanded him to embark in it, promising him success in his voyage and a favourable issue to his love. Whilst the Prince and the beautiful Aimée obeyed the orders of Formidable, their affection increased each day. They became so happy, that they dreaded arriving at the end of their journey, for fear of being occupied with anything else but their love. Naimée, meanwhile, also continued her painful progress.

The course of the river which the two Princesses followed conducted them insensibly to the Pleasant Island, and they arrived there exactly at the same moment. Lumineuse did not fail to be present also. She informed Aimée that the revenge of Formidable was accomplished, because, in meeting her sister, she had found the only person in the world who could hate her. "And the journey of Naimée is also finished, then," said the beautiful Princess, "for nothing has been able to diminish my regard for her." She then begged the Fairy to mitigate, if possible, the sad fate of her sister; but this favour was useless to Naimée. The moment she saw the Prince of the Pleasant Island, whom she recognised easily as the original of the exquisite portrait which had touched her heart, and heard him tell Lumineuse that the time of his marriage with Aimée approached, she threw herself into that river, the course of which she had followed for twelve months with so much pain, yet without having resorted to self-destruction; but the woes of love affect us more deeply than any other misfortunes.

Lumineuse, who saw the Princess plunge into the water, changed her into a little animal, which evinces still, by its manner of walking, the contrariness of the unhappy Naimée. Her fate followed her even after death, for she was not [Pg 179] regretted. It cost Aimée, however, a few tears; but what troubles could not be consoled by the Prince of the Pleasant Island? She was so engrossed by his affection, that she cared but little for the fêtes which they gave to celebrate her arrival in the kingdom, and the Prince himself took but a trifling share in them. When one is really in love, there is no true pleasure but that of being loved in return.

The King and Queen, apprised by Lumineuse of what had occurred, hastened to rejoin their amiable daughter; and in their presence the generous Fairy declared that the lovely Aimée had had the honour of putting an end to the adventure of the Castle of Portraits, because nothing had ever appeared so beautiful as herself in all the world.

The love of the Prince of the Pleasant Island was too violent to endure delay, so he begged the King and Queen to consent to the fulfilment of his happiness. Lumineuse herself honoured with her presence a day so fair and so much desired. The nuptials were celebrated with all the magnificence which might be expected from fairies and kings; but happy as was the day, I will not attempt a description of it, for, however agreeable to the lovers themselves, a wedding is almost always a dull affair to the general company.

While Love in turn upon the tender strings Of human hearts with hope and fear can play, Lovers and poets have a thousand things, More or less sweet and eloquent, to say. But soon as entered Hymen's happy state Apollo and the Muses all seem dumb. Of author and of husband 'tis the fate To fail in an Epithalamium!

FOOTNOTES:

[10] A Michel Duboulay, or Duboulai, was the author of two operas, entitled, Zephyr et Flore and Orphée; but the music of these is said to have been composed by Lulli.


[Pg 181]

MADEMOISELLE DE LA FORCE.

[Pg 182]


[Pg 183]

FAIRER THAN A FAIRY.

There was once upon a time, in Europe, a King, who having already several children by a princess whom he had married, took it into his head to travel from one end of his kingdom to the other. He passed his time in visiting one province after another very pleasantly; but while he was staying in a beautiful castle at the extremity of his dominions, the Queen, his wife, was brought to bed there of a daughter, who appeared so exceedingly lovely at the moment of her birth, that the courtiers, either on account of the child's beauty, or to ingratiate themselves with the parents, named her "Fairer than a Fairy;" and it will be seen how well she merited so illustrious a title. The Queen had scarcely recovered, when she was obliged to follow the King, her husband, who had departed in haste to defend a distant province which his enemies had invaded.

Little Fairer than a Fairy was left behind with her governess and the ladies who attended on her; they brought her up with the utmost care, and as her father was involved in a long and cruel war, she had plenty of time during his absence to increase in stature and beauty. That beauty rendered her famous in all the surrounding countries; nothing else was spoken of, and at twelve years old she might more easily be taken for a divinity than for a mortal. One of her brothers came to see her during a truce, and conceived the most perfect affection for her.

Meanwhile, however, the fame of her beauty and the name she bore so irritated the fairies against her, that there was nothing they did not think of to revenge themselves on her, [Pg 184] for the presumption implied by such a title, and to destroy a beauty of which they were so jealous.

The Queen of the Fairies was not one of those good fairies who are the protectors of virtue, and who have no pleasure but in doing good. Many centuries having elapsed since she had attained royalty by her profound learning and art, her great age had caused her to dwindle in stature, and she was now only called by the nickname of Nabote. Nabote accordingly summoned a council, and made known to them her resolution to avenge, not only the beauties of her own court, but those of the entire world; that she had determined to go and see for herself, and carry off this paragon whose reputation was so injurious to their charms. It was no sooner said than done. She set out, and, clothed in a very plain garb, transported herself to the castle which contained this marvellous creature. She soon made herself at home in it, and induced by her cunning the ladies of the Princess to receive her amongst them. But Nabote was struck with astonishment when, after having carefully examined the castle, she discovered by means of her art that it had been constructed by a great magician, and that he had endowed it with a virtue by the power of which no one could leave its walls or the surrounding pleasure-grounds but of their own free will, and that it was not possible to use any sort of enchantment against those persons who inhabited it. This secret was not unknown to the governess of Fairer than a Fairy, who, well aware of the invaluable treasure committed to her charge, still felt no alarm on her account, knowing that no one in the world could take from her this young princess, so long as she should not go outside the castle or the gardens. She had expressly forbidden her to do so, and Fairer, who had already a large share of discretion, had never failed in taking this precaution. A thousand lovers had made fruitless efforts to carry her off; but knowing herself secure within those limits, she did not fear their violence.

Nabote did not require much time to insinuate herself into her good graces; she taught her to do beautiful kinds of work, and rendered her lessons agreeable by recounting pleasant stories. She neglected nothing which could divert her, and naturally pleased her so much, that at length one was never seen without the other.

[Pg 185]

Amidst all her attentions, however, Nabote was not less occupied with her schemes of revenge; she sought for an opportunity of inducing Fairer than a Fairy, by some cunning pretence, only to put her foot over the threshold of one of the castle gates. She was always prepared to pounce on and fly away with her. One day that she had led her into the garden, and the young maidens of her Court, having gathered some flowers, had crowned with them the beautiful head of Fairer than a Fairy, Nabote opened a little door which led into the fields, and passing out at it, played an hundred antics, which caused the Princess and the young folks who surrounded her to laugh heartily. All at once the wicked Nabote pretended to be taken ill, and the next minute she fell down, as if swooning away. Some of the young maidens ran to assist her, and Fairer flew also to her side. But hardly had the unhappy child passed the fatal gate than Nabote sprang up, seized her with a powerful arm, and making a circle with her wand, a thick black fog arose, which dispersing again almost immediately, the ground was seen to open and two moles emerged, with wings formed of rose-leaves, drawing an ebony car, and Nabote placing herself in it with Fairer than a Fairy, it ascended into the air, and cleaving it with incredible velocity, disappeared entirely from the sight of the young maidens, who by their cries and tears soon announced to all the castle the loss they had sustained.

Fairer than a Fairy only recovered from her first astonishment to fall into another still more fearful; the rapidity with which the car passed through the air had so bewildered her that she almost lost consciousness; at length, reviving a little, she cast down her eyes. What was her alarm to find nothing beneath her but the vast extent of the shoreless ocean. She uttered a piercing cry, turned round, and seeing near her her dear Nabote, she embraced her tenderly and held her close in her arms as one naturally would to re-assure oneself. But the Fairy repulsed her rudely:—"Off! audacious child," said she. "Behold in me your mortal foe. I am the Queen of the Fairies, and you are about to pay to me the penalty of your insolence in assuming the proud name which you bear."

Fairer, trembling at these words more than if a thunderbolt had fallen at her feet, felt greater alarm at them than at the dreadful road she was travelling. At length, however, the [Pg 186] car alighted in the midst of the magnificent court-yard of the most superb palace that ever was seen. The sight of so beautiful a palace somewhat re-assured the timid Princess, especially when she descended from the car, and she saw an hundred young beauties, who came with much deference to pay their respects to the Fairy. So charming a residence did not appear to announce misfortune to her. She had also one consolation which does not fail to flatter one in similar situations: she remarked that all those beautiful persons were struck with admiration on beholding her, and she heard a confused murmur of praise and envy which gratified her marvellously.

But how speedily was this little feeling of vanity extinguished! Nabote imperiously commanded them to strip Fairer of her beautiful clothes, thinking thereby to take from her a portion of her charms. They pulled them off, accordingly, but only to increase the fury of Nabote, for what beauties were then disclosed to view, and to what shame did they put all the fairies in the world! They re-clothed her in old shabby garments. But in this state, one would have said her natural and simple loveliness was determined to show how independent it was of the assistance of the most costly ornaments; never did she appear more charming! Nabote then ordered them to conduct her to the place which she had prepared for her, and to set her her task. Two fairies took her and made her pass through the most beautiful and sumptuous apartments that could possibly be seen. Fairer noticed them, in spite of her misery, and said to herself, "Whatever torments they may prepare for me, my heart tells me I shall not always be miserable in this beautiful palace."

They made her descend a large staircase of black marble, which had more than a thousand steps: she thought she was going into the bowels of the earth, or rather, that they were conducting her into the infernal regions. At length they entered a small cabinet, wainscoted with ebony, where they told her she would have to sleep on a little straw, and that there was an ounce of bread with a cup of water for her supper. From thence they made her pass into a great gallery, the walls of which were entirely composed of black marble, and which had no light but that afforded by five lamps of jet, which threw a sombre glare over the place, more alarming [Pg 187] than cheering. These gloomy walls were hung with cobwebs from top to bottom, and such was their peculiarity, that the more they were swept away the more they multiplied. The two fairies told the Princess that this gallery must be swept clean by break of day, or that she would be made to suffer the most frightful torments, and after placing a ladder, and giving her a broom of rushes, they bade her set to work, and left her.

Fairer than a Fairy sighed, and not knowing the peculiarity of those cobwebs, courageously resolved, notwithstanding the great length of the gallery, to execute the task imposed on her. She took her broom, and mounted the ladder nimbly, but, O Heavens! what was her surprise when, as she endeavoured to sweep the marble and clear off the cobwebs, she found they increased in proportion to her exertions! She fatigued herself by persevering for some time, but perceiving sorrowfully, at length, that it was all in vain, she threw down her broom, descended the ladder, and seating herself on the last step of it, began to weep bitterly, and to foresee the extent of her misfortune. Her sobs came at length so fast that she could no longer support herself, when, raising her head a little, her eyes were dazzled by a brilliant light. The gallery was in an instant illuminated from end to end, and she saw kneeling before her a youth so beautiful and charming, that at the first glance she took him for Cupid, but she remembered that Love is always painted naked, and this handsome youth was dressed in a suit of clothes covered with jewels. She was not sure, also, that all the light she perceived did not proceed from his eyes, so beautiful and brilliant did they appear to her. This young man continued to gaze upon her, still kneeling. She felt inclined to kneel too. "Who art thou?" she exclaimed, in amazement. "Art thou a God? Art thou Love?" "I am not a God," he replied, "but I have more love in me than is to be found in heaven or earth beside. I am Phratis, son of the Queen of the Fairies, who loves you and will aid you." Then, taking up the broom which she had thrown down, he touched all the cobwebs, which immediately turned to cloth-of-gold of marvellous workmanship, the lamps becoming bright and shining; Phratis then, giving a golden key to the Princess, said, "In the principal panel of your cell you will find a lock; [Pg 188] open it gently. Adieu, I must retire for fear of being suspected: go to rest; you will find all that is necessary for your repose." Then placing one knee on the ground, he respectfully kissed her hand and disappeared.

Fairer, more surprised at this adventure than at anything else which had happened to her during the day, re-entered her little apartment, and looked about for the lock of which he had spoken, when, on approaching the wainscot, she heard the most gentle voice in the world apparently deploring some misfortune, and she imagined it must proceed from some wretched being persecuted as she was. She listened attentively. "Alas! what shall I do?" said the voice. "They bid me change this bushel of acorns into oriental pearls!" Fairer than a Fairy, less astonished than she would have been two hours before, struck two or three times on the panel, and said pretty loudly, "If they impose hard tasks in this place, miracles are at the same time performed here—therefore, hope! But tell me, I pray, who you are, and I will tell you who I am." "It is more agreeable to me to satisfy your curiosity than to continue my employment," replied the other person. "I am the daughter of a King; they say I was born charming, but the fairies did not assist at my birth, and you know they are cruel to those whom they have not taken under their protection directly they come into the world." "Ah! I know it too well," replied Fairer; "I am handsome, like yourself, the daughter of a King, and unfortunate, because I am agreeable without the assistance of their gifts." "We are, then, companions in misfortune," returned the other. "But are you in love?" "Not far from it," said Fairer, in a low voice; "but continue your story," said she aloud, "and do not question me more." "I was considered," continued the other, "the most charming creature that had ever existed, and everybody loved me and wished to possess me: they called me Désirs; my will was law, and I was treasured in all hearts. A young prince, the most enthusiastic of my adorers, abandoned everything for me. My encouragement of his hopes transported him with delight. We were about to be united for ever, when the fairies, jealous at beholding me the object of universal admiration, and detesting the sight of attractions which they had not bestowed, carried me off one day in the midst of my [Pg 189] triumphs, and consigned me to this horrid place. They have threatened that they will strangle me to-morrow morning if I have not performed a preposterous task which they have imposed upon me. Now, tell me quickly, who are you?" "I have told you all," replied Fairer, "but my name. They call me Fairer than a Fairy." "You must, then, be very beautiful," replied the Princess Désirs; "I should like excessively to see you." "I am quite as anxious to see you," replied Fairer. "Is there a door hereabouts, for I have a little key which perhaps may be of use to you." Looking narrowly round, she discovered one which she was able to open, and pushing it, the two Princesses met face to face, and were equally surprised at the marvellous beauty of each other.

After embracing affectionately, and saying many civil things to one another, Fairer began to laugh at seeing the Princess Désirs continually rubbing her acorns with a little white stone, as she had been ordered to do. She told her of the task which they had imposed upon her, and how miraculously she had been assisted by a charming unknown being! "But who can it be?" said the Princess Désirs. "I think it is a man," replied Fairer. "A man!" cried Désirs. "You blush—you love him!" "No, not yet," replied Fairer; "but he has told me he loves me; and if he loves me as he says, he shall assist you." Hardly had she uttered these words, when the bushel measure began to shake, and agitating the acorns, as the oak on which they had grown might have done, they were instantly changed into the most beautiful pear-shaped pearls of the first water. It was one of these which Cleopatra dissolved in wine at the costly banquet she made for Mark Antony.

The two Princesses were delighted at the exchange, and Fairer than a Fairy, who began to be accustomed to wonders, leading Désirs by the hand, returned into her own chamber, and finding the panel containing the lock of which the stranger had spoken, she opened it with her golden key, and entered an apartment, the magnificence of which both surprised and affected her, as she saw in everything it contained the attention of her lover. It was strewn with the most beautiful flowers, and exhaled a divine perfume. At one end of this charming room there was a table covered with all that could gratify the most refined taste, and two fountains [Pg 190] of liqueurs which flowed into basins of porphyry. The young Princesses seated themselves in two ivory chairs, enriched with emeralds; they ate with a good appetite, and when they had supped, the table disappeared, and in its place arose a delicious bath, into which they stepped together. At a few paces from them they observed a superb toilet-table, and large baskets of gold wire full of linen of such exquisite purity that it made them long to make use of it. A bed of singular form and extraordinary richness, occupied the further end of this marvellous chamber, which was lined with orange-trees in golden boxes studded with rubies, while rows of cornelian columns sustained the sumptuous roof, divided only by immense crystal mirrors which reached from the ground to the ceiling. Several consoles, of rare materials, supported vases of precious stones, filled with all sorts of flowers.

The Princess Désirs admired the good fortune of her companion, and, turning to her, observed, "Your lover is indeed gallant; he can do much, and he will do everything for you; your happiness is extraordinary." A clock striking midnight repeated at each stroke the name of Phratis. Fairer than a Fairy coloured, and threw herself on the couch. She trusted to repose, but her sleep was troubled by the image of Phratis.

The next morning there was great astonishment in the Court of the Fairies at seeing the gallery so richly decorated, and the bushel-measure full of beautiful pearls. They had hoped to punish the young Princesses: their cruelty was disappointed. They found each alone in her little chamber. After consulting together again, in order to devise some tasks which could not possibly be accomplished, they told Désirs to go to the sea-shore and write on the sand, with express orders to take care that what she wrote there could never be effaced. And they commanded Fairer to go to the foot of Mount Adventurous, to fly to the top, and bring them a vase full of the water of immortality. For this purpose they gave her a quantity of feathers and wax, in hopes that, by making wings for herself, she might perish like another Icarus. Désirs and Fairer looked at each other on hearing these dreadful commands, and, embracing tenderly, they separated, as if taking an eternal farewell. The fairies conducted one to the sea-shore and the other to the foot of Mount Adventurous.

When Fairer was left by herself she took the feathers and [Pg 191] wax, and made some vain attempts to form wings with them. After having worked for some time most ineffectually, her thoughts reverted to Phratis. "If you loved me," said she, "you would come to my assistance." Hardly had she finished the last word when she saw him stand before her, looking a thousand times more beautiful than on the preceding night. The full light of day was an advantage to him. "Do you doubt my affection?" said he. "Is anything difficult to him who loves you?" He then requested her to take off some portion of her dress, and having kissed her hand as a recompense, he transformed himself suddenly to an eagle. She was rather sorry to see so charming a person thus metamorphosed, but, placing himself at her feet, he extended his wings, and made her easily comprehend his design. Reclining upon him, she encircled his proud neck with her beautiful arms, and he rose with her gently into the air. It would be difficult to say which was the most gratified—she, at escaping death in the execution of the order given her, or he, at being permitted to bear such a precious burden.

He carried her gently to the summit of the mountain, where she heard an harmonious concert warbled by a thousand birds that came to render homage to the divine bird which bore her. The top of this mountain was a flowery plain, surrounded by fine cedars, in the midst of which was a little stream, whose silvery waves rolled over golden sands strewn with brilliant diamonds. Fairer than a Fairy knelt down, and first of all took some of this precious water in her hand, and drank it. After this she filled her vase, and, turning towards her eagle, said, "Ah, how I wish that Désirs had some of this water!" Scarcely had she spoken these words than the Eagle flew down, took one of the slippers of Fairer, and returning with it, filled it with water, and carried it to the sea-shore, where the Princess Désirs was occupied in fruitless attempts to write indelibly on the sand.

The Eagle returned to Fairer, and resumed his beautiful burden. "Alas!" said she, "what is Désirs doing? Take me to her." He obeyed. They found her still writing, and as fast as she wrote, a wave came and effaced what she had written. "What cruelty," said the Princess to Fairer, "to command what it is impossible to accomplish! I imagine, from the strange mode of your conveyance, that you have [Pg 192] succeeded." Fairer alighted, and, moved by the misfortune of her companion, she turned towards her lover, and thus addressed him, "Give me proof of your omnipotence." "Or rather of my love," interrupted the Prince, resuming his proper form. Désirs, observing the beauty and grace of his person, cast on him a look of surprise and delight. Fairer coloured, and by a movement over which she had no control, placed herself before him so as to hide him from her companion. "Do as you are told," continued she, with a charming air of uneasiness. Phratis knew his happiness, and wishing to terminate as speedily as possible her trouble, "Read," said he, and disappeared swifter than a flash of lightning.

At the same instant a wave broke at the feet of Fairer, and in retiring left behind a brazen tablet, as firmly fixed in the sand as if it had been there from all eternity, and would remain immovable to the end of the world. As she looked at it, she perceived letters forming on it, deeply engraved, which composed these lines:—

The vows of common love in sand are traced, And, even 'graved in brass, may be effaced; But those which are inspired by your bright eyes, In starry words are written in the skies. Nought can destroy those characters divine, Eternal as the heavens in which they shine.

"I understand," cried Désirs: "he who loves you, must always love! How well your charming swain expresses his feelings." She then embraced Fairer than a Fairy, who soon, in her arms, recovered from the confusion occasioned by the little feeling of jealousy she had experienced, and confessed it to her friend, who accused her of it; and both, confirmed in their friendship, abandoned themselves to the pleasure of an agreeable and affectionate conversation.

Queen Nabote sent messengers to the foot of the mountain to find what was become of Fairer than a Fairy. They found the scattered feathers, and a part of her clothes, and consequently believed she had been dashed to pieces, as they desired.

Full of this idea, the fairies ran to the sea-shore; they exclaimed at the sight of the brazen tablet, and were overwhelmed at perceiving the two Princesses calmly seated in [Pg 193] conversation on a jutting piece of rock. They called to them. Fairer presented her vase full of the water of immortality, and laughed in secret with Désirs at the fury of the fairies.

The Queen was not to be jested with. She knew that a power as great as her own must have assisted them, and her rage increased to such a pitch, that without hesitating an instant, she determined on effecting their ruin by a final and most cruel trial.

Désirs was condemned to go on the morrow to the Fair of Time, to fetch the Rouge of Youth, and Fairer than a Fairy to proceed to the Wood of Wonders, and capture the Hind with Silver Feet.

The Princess Désirs was conducted to a vast plain, at the end of which was an immense building, divided into galleries full of shops so superb that no comparison could be found for them but in the recollections of the magnificent entertainments at Marly.[11] These shops were kept by young and agreeable fairies, assisted by their favoured lovers.

As soon as Désirs appeared, her charms fascinated everybody. She took possession of all hearts. In the first shops she entered she excited much commiseration by asking for the Rouge of Youth. None would tell her where to find it, because, when it was not a fairy who came in search of it, it was a sure sign of torment to the person who was charged with this dangerous commission. The good fairies told Désirs to return, and to inquire no further for what she sought. She was so beautiful that they ran before her wherever she went, in order to gaze at her. Her ill-luck, however, led her to the shop of a wicked fairy. Hardly had she asked for the Rouge of Youth, on the part of the Queen of the Fairies, than, darting a terrible glance at her, she told her that she had it, and that she would give it her the next morning, and ordered her to enter a room and wait till it was prepared for her. They led her into a dark and pestilential place, where she could not see her hand before her. She was overcome with terror. "Ah!" she exclaimed, "charming lover of Fairer than a Fairy, haste to my rescue, or I am lost!"

[Pg 194]

But he was deaf to her appeal, or unable to act as he had done in other places. Désirs tormented herself half the night and slept the remainder, when she was awakened by a good-looking girl, who brought her a little food, telling her that it was sent her by the favourite of the Fairy, her mistress, who was resolved to assist her, and that it would be fortunate for her if such were the case, because the Fairy had sent for an evil spirit, who, by breathing on her face, would make her hideous, and in that frightful state she would be ignominiously sent back to the Queen of the Fairies, who, with all her Court, would triumph in her misfortunes.

The Princess Désirs felt frightened to death at this threat of losing in a moment all her beauty, and wished rather to die outright. Her agony was horrible; she groped about her dark prison in vain hope of discovering some mode of escape, when some one took her by the arm, and she felt in her heart a sensation of pleasure. She was gently led towards a spot where she began to perceive a little light, and when her eyes became accustomed to it, she was struck by the appearance of what was to her the most charming object in the world, for she recognised that dear Prince who loved her so truly, and from whom they had separated her on the eve of her wedding. Her transport, her delight, was extreme. "Is it you?" she exclaimed a hundred times. At length, when fully persuaded of the fact, and forgetting all her own troubles—"But are you the favourite of this wretched Fairy?" she continued. "Is it with this fine title that I again behold you." "Undoubtedly," replied he; "and we shall owe to it the end of our troubles, and the certainty of our happiness."

He then recounted to her how, in despair at her being carried off, he had gone to seek a wise old man, who had informed him where she was, and assured him that he would never recover her but in the Kingdom of the Fairies; that he had furnished him with the means of finding it, but that he had been arrested in his pursuit of her by this cruel Fairy, who had fallen in love with him; that, following the advice of the sage, he had dissembled, and by his docility had obtained such an influence over her, that he had the care of all her treasure, and was the minister of all her power; that she had just departed on a journey of six thousand leagues; that she would not return for twelve days; and that, therefore, they should lose no time in escaping; [Pg 195] that he was going into his cabinet to fetch a part of the gem of the ring of Gyges[12]; that she should put it on, and thereby becoming invisible, she could pass anywhere: as for himself, he could show himself as he pleased. "Do not forget," said she, "the Rouge of Youth; I wish to put some on, and to give some to one of my companions."

The Prince smiled. "Whither shall we go?" continued she. "To the Queen of the Fairies," he replied. "No, that will never do," she exclaimed; "we shall perish there!" "The sage who counselled me," pursued he, "told me to lead you back to the place from whence you came last, if I wished to be assured of happiness: he has never yet deceived me in anything whatever." "Well, then, so be it," said Désirs; "we will go there."

The Prince brought her a valuable box, in which was the Rouge of Youth; and with the hope of making herself appear more beautiful still in the eyes of her lover, she rubbed some hastily all over her face, forgetting that she was invisible by means of the gem which he had given her. She took him by the arm. They traversed in this manner the whole of the Fair, and were soon close to the palace of the Queen. There the Prince resumed the gem of Gyges. The beautiful Désirs became visible, and he became invisible, to the great regret of the Princess, whom he took by the arm in his turn, and presented her before Nabote and her Court. All the fairies looked at each other in excessive astonishment at seeing Désirs return with the Rouge of Youth, and the Queen, frowning awfully, desired them to guard her strictly. "Our arts are vain," said she. "We must put her to death, without trying any more experiments."

The sentence was pronounced. Désirs trembled with fear; her lover re-assured her as much as he could.

But we must return to Fairer than a Fairy. They had conducted her to the Wood of Wonders, and here is the reason why they had condemned her to chase the Silver-footed Hind:—

[Pg 196]

Once upon a time there had been a Queen of the Fairies who had succeeded in due course to that grand title; she was beautiful, good, and wise. She had had several lovers, whose affections and attentions had, however, been lost upon her. Entirely occupied in protecting virtue, she found no amusement in listening to the sighs of her adorers. There was one whom her coldness rendered the most unhappy, because he loved her better than any of the others.

One day, seeing that he could not move her to pity him, he protested, in his despair, that he would kill himself. She was not affected even at this threat, considering it merely as one of those extravagances in which lovers sometimes indulge, but which never have any serious result. However, some time after, he really did throw himself into the sea.

A sage, who had brought up this young man, complained to the supreme authorities, and the insensible Fairy was condemned to do penance for her severity in the form of a hind, for the term of one hundred years, unless an accomplished beauty could be found, who, by venturing to hunt her for ten days in the Wood of Wonders, could take her and restore her to her original shape. Forty years had already elapsed since she had been first transformed.

At the commencement of her penance several beauties had risked the trial of this fine adventure, from which so much honour was to be derived. Each hoped to be the fortunate huntress; but as they lost themselves in the pursuit, and at the end of ten days were no more heard of, this ardour began to cool, and for some time past no beauty had voluntarily offered herself; those who had recently undertaken the task being condemned to it by the Fairies, in order to ensure their destruction. It was, thus, to get rid of Fairer that they led her to the Wood of Wonders. They gave her a small portion of food, for form's sake, and placed in her hand a silken cord, with a running noose to catch the deer. That was all her outfit for the chase. She deposited what they gave her at the foot of a tree, and when she found herself alone she cast a look round this vast forest, in the profound silence and solitude of which she saw nothing but despair.

She was anxious to remain at the skirt of the forest, and not to enter it too far, so in order to know the spot again, she placed a mark at the point from which she started. But, alas! how did she deceive herself! Every one lost themselves [Pg 197] in this forest, without being able to issue from it. In one of the paths she caught sight of the Silver-footed Hind walking slowly. She approached it, with her silken cord in her hand, thinking to take it; but the deer, feeling itself pursued, started off at full speed, stopping from time to time, and turning its head towards Fairer. They were in sight of each other all day without being any nearer. At last night separated them.

The poor huntress was very tired and very hungry, but she no longer knew where to find the little provision she had had given her, and there was nothing but the hard ground for her to repose upon. She lay down, therefore, very sadly, under a tree; she could not sleep for a long time—she was frightened; the least thing alarmed her: a leaf shaken by the wind made her tremble. In this miserable state she turned her thoughts on her lover, and called him several times; but finding him fail her in her great distress, she exclaimed, with tears in her eyes, "Phratis! Phratis! you have abandoned me!" She was just dropping asleep, when she felt a movement beneath her, and it seemed to her as though she was in the best bed in the world. She slept soundly for a considerable time, without any interruption. She was awoke in the morning by the song of a thousand nightingales, and, turning her beautiful eyes around, she found she was raised two feet from the earth, the turf having sprung up under her lovely form, and thus made a delicious couch. A large orange-tree threw its branches over her like a tent, and she was covered with flowers. By her side were two turtle-doves, who announced to her, by their love for each other, what she might hope for with Phratis. The ground was entirely covered with strawberries and all sorts of excellent fruits; she ate of them, and found herself as well satisfied and as much strengthened by them as though they had been the richest and best kind of meats. A stream which flowed close by served to allay her thirst. "Oh, ye tender cares of my lover," cried she, when she had refreshed herself, "how much I needed you! I murmur no longer. Give me less, dearest, and let me see you!"

She would have continued in this strain had she not perceived, stretched close to her, the Silver-footed Hind, quietly gazing at her. She thought this time she must catch it: with one hand she held out to it a bunch of grass, and with [Pg 198] the other grasped the cord; but the deer bounded lightly away, and when it had gone a short distance, it stopped, and looked back at her. It kept up this game all day. Another night came, and passed like the one before it. She awoke under similar circumstances, and four days and nights elapsed in the like manner. At length, on the fifth morning, Fairer than a Fairy, on opening her eyes, thought she saw a light more brilliant than that of day, when she perceived, in those of her lover, seated near her, all the affection with which she had inspired him. He fervently kissed one of her feet; his presence and this respectful action gratified her greatly. "You are there, then," said she. "If I have not beheld you all these days, I have, at all events, received the proofs of your goodness." "Say of my love, Fairer than a Fairy," replied he. "My mother suspects that it is I who assist you: she has placed me in confinement. I have escaped a moment, by means of a fairy of my acquaintance. Adieu! I came only to encourage you. You shall see me this evening, and if fortune smiles, to-morrow we shall be happy." He departed, and she hunted again all day. When night came, she perceived near her a little light, which sufficed to show her her lover. "Here is my illuminated wand," said he: "place it before you, and go without fear wherever it will lead you. Where it stops you will perceive a great heap of dry leaves; set fire to it, enter the place; you will see and you will find the skin of a beast; burn it. The stars, our friends, will do the rest. Adieu!"

Fairer than a Fairy would have desired far more ample instructions; but seeing there was no remedy, she placed the wand before her, which showed her the way. She followed it nearly two hours, very much vexed at doing nothing else. It stopped at last, and there, truly enough, she perceived a large heap of dried leaves, to which she did not fail to set fire. The light was soon so great that she could see a very high mountain, in which she observed an opening half hid by brambles. She separated them with her wand, and entered a dark hole; but soon after she found herself in a vast saloon, of admirable architecture, and lighted with numberless lamps. But what struck her with the greatest astonishment was the sight of the skins of several wild and terrible beasts, hung on golden hooks, which at first she mistook for the beasts themselves. [Pg 199] She turned away her eyes with horror, and they were arrested in the centre of the saloon by the sight of a beautiful palm-tree, upon one of the branches of which was suspended the skin of the Hind with the silver feet. Fairer than a Fairy was enchanted at seeing it, and taking it down with the aid of her wand, she carried it quickly to the fire which she had lighted at the entrance of the cavern. It was consumed in a moment, and re-entering joyfully the saloon, she penetrated into several magnificent apartments. She stopped in one, where she saw several small couches placed upon Persian carpets, and one more beautiful than the rest under a canopy of cloth-of-gold. But she had not much time to contemplate arrangements which appeared to her singular, for she heard hearty peals of laughter and several persons in loud conversation. Fairer than a Fairy turned her steps in the direction from which the sounds proceeded, and entered a wonderful place, where she found fifteen young ladies of celestial beauty.

She did not surprise them less than she was surprised herself: the extreme loveliness of her appearance took away their breath, and a deep silence succeeded to cries of admiration. But one of these beautiful persons, more beautiful than all the rest, advanced, with a smiling air, towards our charming Princess. "You are my deliverer," said she, addressing her; "I cannot doubt it; no one can enter here who is not clothed in the skin of one of the beasts which you saw at the entrance of the cavern; that has been the fate of all these beautiful persons whom you see with me. After ten days of useless pursuit of me, they were changed into so many animals during the day; but at night we resume our human forms: and you, charming Princess, if you had not delivered me, would have been changed into a white rabbit." "A white rabbit!" exclaimed Fairer. "Ah, Madam, it is indeed better that I should preserve my ordinary form, and that so wonderful a person as you should be no longer a deer." "You have restored us all to liberty," replied the Fairy; "let us now pass the rest of the night as joyously as may be, and to-morrow we will go to the Palace, and fill all the Court with astonishment."

It is impossible to express the joy which resounded in this charming spot, and the delight which all these young persons felt at the sweet sensation of finding themselves once more in [Pg 200] the land of the living, so to speak—they were all still of the same age as when they commenced their unfortunate chase in the Wood of Wonders, and the eldest was not yet twenty.

The Fairy desired to take three or four hours' repose. She made Fairer lie down beside her, and relate her adventures. She did so with so touching a voice, her discourse was so unaffected and so full of truth, that she engaged the Fairy without reserve to assist her love and render her happy. She did not forget to speak to her of Désirs, and the Fairy was immediately interested in her favour.

They went to sleep, after a long conversation, which they had agreeably interrupted, from time to time, by the interchange of affectionate caresses.

The next day they all set out for the Palace, wishing pleasantly to surprise the fairies. They quitted, without regret, the Wood of Wonders, and quickly arrived at the Palace. As they approached the inner court, they heard a thousand melodious sounds, which composed an excellent concert. "Here is a fête going on," said the Fairy; "we have arrived à propos;" and advancing, they found the court filled with an incredible number of people. The Fairy caused the gate to be opened, and entered with her train. The first persons who recognised her, uttered the loudest exclamations of delight, and the cause of this great joy was quickly made known to the multitude. But on advancing, the Fairy was struck by a strange spectacle. She saw a young girl more lovely than the Graces, and with the form of Venus, bound to a stake near a pile of wood, where apparently she was about to be burnt to death.

Fairer than a Fairy uttered a loud cry, as she recognised Désirs; but she was much astonished when, at the same moment, she lost sight of her, and a young man appeared in her place, so handsome and so well made that one might never be tired of looking at him. At this sight Fairer uttered a still louder cry, and running towards him, without any regard to appearances, she flung herself on his neck, exclaiming a thousand times, "It is my brother! it is my brother." It was her brother, who was also the fortunate lover of Princess Désirs, and who, fearing they would put her to death, had given her the Gem of Gyges to rescue her from the cruelty of Queen Nabote, and by so doing, became himself visible.

[Pg 201]

The brother and sister lavished a hundred caresses on each other; the invisible Désirs added hers, and her voice was heard, although she was not to be seen, whilst the fairies, in unparalleled astonishment, expressed in every variety of manner their rapture at again beholding their virtuous Queen. The good fairies came and threw themselves at her feet, kissing her hand and her garments. Some wept, some were unable to speak; each testified her joy according to her peculiar character. The bad fairies, the partisans of Nabote, also pretended to be delighted, and policy gave an air of sincerity to their hypocritical demonstrations. Nabote herself, in despair at this return, controlled herself with an art of which she alone was capable. She offered at once to resign her power to the rightful sovereign, who, with a grave and majestic air, demanded of her why the young girl whom she had seen bound to the stake merited such a punishment, and since when they had been accustomed to celebrate a cruel execution by fêtes and sports. Nabote excused herself very lamely, and the Queen listened impatiently when the lover of Désirs spoke thus: "They punish this Princess," said he, "because she is too amiable; they torment for the same reason the Princess my sister. They were both born as handsome as you now behold them." He then begged his lady-love to cover up the Gem of Gyges, and she immediately appeared again. Désirs charmed all who saw her. "They are beautiful," pursued he; "they possess a thousand virtues which they do not derive from the fairies; that is why they are roused up to persecute them. What injustice, to tyrannize over all those whose charms do not emanate from yourselves." The Prince paused: the Queen turned towards the assembly with an agreeable air. "I demand," said she, "that these three persons shall be given up to me; they shall enjoy the most happy fate that can fall to the lot of mortals. I owe much to Fairer than a Fairy, and she shall be rewarded for the service she has done me by uninterrupted felicity. You shall continue to reign, Madam," added she, turning to Nabote: "this empire is sufficiently large for you and me. Go to the Beautiful Islands, which belong to you. Leave me your son; I will share my power with him, and I will marry him to Fairer than a Fairy; this union will reconcile us to one another."

Nabote was enraged at all these decisions of the Queen, [Pg 202] but it was of no use to complain, she was not the strongest. She had but to obey. She was about to do so with a bad grace, when the beautiful Phratis arrived, followed by a gallant train of youths who composed his Court; he came to pay his homage to the Queen, and manifest his joy at her return. But in passing, he cast a look at Fairer than a Fairy, and made her comprehend by his passionate glances that she was the first object of his devotion.

The Queen embraced him, and presented him to Fairer, begging him to accept her at her hands. There is no need to say he obeyed joyfully, exclaiming with transport,

"Oh Love! for all my tender care and aid, By this rich guerdon I am overpaid!"

The two marriages were celebrated on the same day. Both couples were so happy, that 'tis said they are the only pairs who have ever really gained the golden Vine,[13] and that those who have been since named as having done so are purely fabulous personages.

Thus innocence triumphs over the misfortunes with which it is assailed. Envy and jealousy only serve to increase its lustre; and often the justice of Heaven renders its possessors happier for the trials they have undergone. There is a Providence which watches over the conduct of mortals, and delights in rewarding the worthy, even in this world.

FOOTNOTES:

[11] A favourite palace of Louis XIV., four leagues west of Paris, and the scene of many celebrated entertainments. It was destroyed in the Revolution of 1789.

[12] A shepherd who, according to the story told by Plato, was possessed of a ring which he took off the finger of a dead man enclosed in the body of a brazen horse, and which rendered the wearer invisible. By means of this ring he became King of Lydia.

[13] La vigne d'or, more commonly la vigne de l'évêque. "On dit d'un mari et d'une femme qui passent la première année de leur mariage sans s'en repentir, qu'ils auront la vigne de l'evêque."—P. J. Le Roux, Dictionnaire Comique. In the only English version I have seen of this story, "the golden vine" is of course transformed into "the flitch of bacon."


[Pg 203]

THE GOOD WOMAN.

There was once upon a time a Good Woman, who was kind, candid, and courageous. She had experienced all the vicissitudes which can agitate human existence.

She had resided at Court, and had endured all the storms to which it is so subject:—treasons, perfidies, infidelities, loss of wealth, loss of friends. So that, disgusted with dwelling in a place in which dissimulation and hypocrisy have established their empire, and weary of an intercourse wherein hearts never appear as they really are, she resolved to quit her own country and go to a distance, where she could forget the world, and where the world would hear no more of her.

When she believed herself far enough off, she built a small house in an extremely agreeable situation. All she could then do was to buy a little flock of sheep, which furnished her with food and clothing.

She had hardly made trial of this mode of life before she found herself perfectly happy. "There is, then, some state of existence in which one may enjoy content," said she; "and the choice I have made leaves me nothing to desire." She passed each day in plying her distaff and tending her flock. She would sometimes have liked a little society, but she feared the danger of it. She was insensibly becoming accustomed to the life she led, when one day, as she was endeavouring to collect her little flock, it began to scatter itself over the country and fly from her. In fact, it fled so fast that in a very short time she could scarcely see one of her sheep. "Am I a devouring wolf?" cried she: "what means this wonder?" She called to a favourite ewe, but it appeared not to know her [Pg 204] voice. She ran after it, exclaiming, "I will not care for losing all the rest of the flock if thou dost but remain to me!" But the ungrateful creature continued its flight, and disappeared with the rest.

The Good Woman was deeply distressed at the loss she had sustained. "I have now nothing left," cried she; "maybe I shall not find even my garden; or my little cottage will be no longer in its place." She returned slowly, for she was very tired with the race she had had. She lived upon fruit and vegetables for some time after exhausting a small stock of cheese.

She began to see the end of all this. "Fortune," said she, "thou hast in vain sought to persecute me even in this remote spot; thou canst not prevent me from being ready to behold the gates of death without alarm, and after so much trouble I shall descend with tranquillity into those peaceful shades."

She had nothing more to spin, she had nothing more to eat: leaning on her distaff, she bent her steps towards a little wood, and looking round for a place to rest in, she was astonished at seeing run towards her three little children, more beautiful than the fairest day. She was delighted to see such charming company. They loaded her with a hundred caresses, and as she seated herself on the ground, in order to receive them more conveniently, one threw its little arms round her neck, the other encircled her waist from behind, and the third called her "mother." She waited a long time, to see if some one would not come to fetch them, believing that those who had led them thither would not fail to return for them. All the day passed without her seeing any one.

She resolved to take them to her own home, and thought Heaven had sent her this little flock instead of the one she had lost. It was composed of two girls, who were only two or three years old, and a little boy of five. Each had a little ribbon round its neck, to which was attached a small jewel. One was a golden cherry enamelled with crimson, and engraved with the name of "Lirette." She thought that this must be the name of the little girl who wore it, and she resolved to call her by it. The other was a medlar, on which was written "Mirtis;" and the little boy had an almond of green enamel, around which was written "Finfin." The Good Woman felt perfectly satisfied that these were their names.

[Pg 205]

The little girls had some jewels in their head-dresses, and more than enough to put the Good Woman in easy circumstances. She had very soon bought another flock, and surrounded herself with everything necessary for the maintenance of her interesting family. She made their winter clothing of the bark of trees, and in the summer they had white cotton dresses of the finest bleaching.

Young as they were, they tended their flock. And this time the flock was faithful, and was more docile and obedient to them than towards the large dogs which guarded them; and these dogs were also gentle, and attached to the children. They grew visibly, and passed their days most innocently; they loved the Good Woman, and were all three excessively fond of each other. They occupied themselves in tending their sheep, fishing with a line, spreading nets to catch birds, working in a little garden of their own, and employed their delicate hands in cultivating flowers.

There was one rose-tree, which the young Lirette was especially fond of; she watered it often, and took the greatest care of it; she thought nothing so beautiful as a rose, and loved it above all other flowers. She had a fancy one day to open a bud, and try to find its heart, when in so doing she pricked her finger with a thorn. The pain was sharp, and she began to cry; the beautiful Finfin, who very seldom left her, approached, and began to cry too, at seeing her suffer. He took her little finger, pressed it, and squeezed the blood gently from it.

The Good Woman, who saw their alarm at this accident, approached, and learning the cause of it, "Why so inquisitive" said she; "why destroy the flower you loved so much?" "I wanted its heart," replied Lirette. "Such desires are always fatal," replied the Good Woman. "But, mother," pursued Lirette, "why has this flower, which is so beautiful, and which pleases me so much, thorns?" "To show you," said the Good Woman, "that we must distrust the greater part of those things which please our eyes, and that the most agreeable objects hide snares which may be to us most deadly." "How?" replied Lirette. "Must one not then love everything which is pleasant?" "No, certainly," said the Good Woman, "and you must take good care not to do so." "But I love my brother with all my heart," replied she; "he [Pg 206] is so handsome and so charming." "You may love your brother," replied her mother; "but if he were not your brother you ought not to love him."

Lirette shook her head, and thought this rule very hard. Finfin meanwhile was still occupied with her finger; he squeezed on the wound the juice of the rose-leaves, and wrapped it in them. The Good Woman asked him why he did that? "Because I think," said he, "that the remedy may be found in the same thing which has caused the evil." The Good Woman smiled at this reason. "My dear child," replied she, "not in this case." "I thought it was in all cases," said he; "for sometimes, when Lirette looks at me, she troubles me greatly; I feel quite agitated; and the moment after those same looks cause me a pleasure which I cannot express to you. When she scolds me sometimes, I am very wretched; but let her speak at length one gentle word to me, I am all joy again."

The Good Woman wondered what these children would think of next; she did not know their relation to each other, and she dreaded their loving each other too much. She would have given anything to learn if they were brother and sister; her ignorance on this point caused her great anxiety, but their extreme youth re-assured her. Finfin was already full of attention to the little Lirette; he loved her much better than Mirtis. He had at one time given her some young partridges, the prettiest in the world, which he had caught. She reared one, which became a fine bird, with very beautiful plumage; Lirette loved it excessively, and gave it to Finfin. It followed him everywhere, and he taught it a thousand diverting tricks. He had one day taken it with him when going to tend his flock; on returning home he could not find his partridge; he sought for it everywhere, and distressed himself greatly at its loss. Mirtis tried to console him, but without success. "Sister," he replied, "I am in despair. Lirette will be angry; all you say to me does not diminish my grief." "Well, brother," said she, "we will get up very early to-morrow and go in search of another; I cannot bear to see you so miserable." Lirette arrived as she said this, and having learnt the cause of Finfin's sorrow, she began to smile. "My dear brother," said she to him, "we will find another partridge; it is nothing but the state in which I see you that gives me pain." These [Pg 207] words sufficed to restore serenity and calm to the heart and countenance of Finfin.

"Why," said he to himself, "could Mirtis not restore my spirits, with all her kindness, while Lirette has done it with a single little word? Two is one too many—Lirette is enough for me." On the other hand, Mirtis saw plainly that her brother made a difference between her and Lirette. "We are not enough here, being three," said she. "I ought to have another brother, who would love me as much as Finfin does my sister."

Lirette was now twelve years old, Mirtis thirteen, and Finfin fifteen, when one evening, after supper, they were all seated in front of the cottage with the Good Woman, who instructed them in a hundred agreeable things. The youthful Finfin, seeing Lirette playing with the jewel on her neck, asked his dear mamma what it was for? She replied that she had found one on each of them when they fell into her hands. Lirette then said, "If mine would but do as I tell it, I should be glad." "And what would you have it do?" asked Finfin. "You will see," said she; and then taking the end of the ribbon, "Little cherry," she continued, "I should like to have a beautiful house of roses."

At the same moment they heard a slight noise behind them. Mirtis turned round first, and uttered a loud cry; she had cause; for instead of the cottage of the Good Woman, there appeared one of the most charming that could possibly be seen. It was not lofty, but the roof was formed of roses that would bloom in winter as well as in summer. They entered it, and found the most agreeable apartments, furnished magnificently. In the midst of each room was a rose-tree in full flower, in a precious vase; and in the first which they entered, they found the partridge Finfin had lost, which flew on to his shoulder and gave him an hundred caresses.

"Is it only to wish?" said Mirtis; and taking the ribbon of her jewel in her hand, "Little medlar," she continued, "give us a garden more beautiful than our own." Hardly had she finished speaking, when a garden was presented to their view of extraordinary beauty, and in which everything that could be imagined to delight the senses appeared in the highest perfection.

The young folks began immediately to run through the [Pg 208] beautiful alleys, amongst the flower-beds and round about the fountains.

"Do you wish something, brother," said Lirette. "But I have nothing to wish for," said he; "except to be loved by you as much as you are loved by me." "Oh," replied she, "my heart can satisfy you on that point. That does not depend on your almond." "Well, then," said Finfin, "almond, little almond, I wish that a great forest should rise near here, in which the King's son shall come to hunt, and that he shall fall in love with Mirtis."

"What have I done to you," replied the beautiful girl. "I do not wish to leave the innocent life which we lead." "You are right, my child," said the Good Woman, "and I admire the wisdom of your sentiments; besides which, they say that this King is a cruel usurper, who has put to death the rightful sovereign and all his family: perhaps the son may be no better than his father."

The Good Woman, however, was quite astonished at the strange wishes of these wonderful children, and knew not what to think of them. When night was come, she retired into the house of roses, and in the morning she found that there was a large forest close to the house. It formed a fine hunting ground for our young shepherds. Finfin often hunted down in it deer, harts, and roebucks.

He gave a fawn whiter than snow to the lovely Lirette; it followed her as the partridge followed Finfin; and when they were separated for a short period, they wrote to each other, and sent their notes by these messengers. It was the prettiest thing in the world.

The little family lived thus tranquilly, occupied with different employments, according to the seasons. They always attended to their flocks, but in the summer their occupations were most pleasant. They hunted much in the winter; they had bows and arrows, and sometimes went such long distances that they returned, with slow steps and almost frozen, to the house of roses.

The Good Woman would receive them by a large fire; she did not know which to begin to warm first. "Lirette, my daughter Lirette," she would say, "place your little feet here." And taking Mirtis in her arms,—"Mirtis, my child," continued she, "give me your beautiful hands to warm; and you my [Pg 209] son, Finfin, come nearer." Then, placing them all three on a sofa, she would pay them every attention in the most charming and gentle manner.

Thus they passed their days in peace and happiness. The Good Woman wondered at the sympathy between Finfin and Lirette, for Mirtis was as beautiful, and had no less amiable qualities; but certainly Finfin did not love her as fervently as the other. "If they are brother and sister, as I believe," said the Good Woman, "by their matchless beauty, what shall I do? They are so similar in everything, that they must assuredly be of the same blood. If it be so, this affection is very dangerous; if not, I might render it legitimate by letting them marry; and they both love me so much, that their union would ensure joy and peace to my declining days."

In her uncertainty, she had forbidden Lirette, who was fast advancing to womanhood, to be ever alone with Finfin, and for better security she had ordered Mirtis to be always with them. Lirette obeyed her with perfect submission, and Mirtis did also as she had commanded her. The Good Woman had heard speak of a clever fairy, and resolved to go in search of her, and endeavour to enlighten herself respecting the fate of these children.

One day, when Lirette was slightly indisposed, and Mirtis and Finfin were out hunting, the Good Woman thought it a convenient opportunity to go in search of Madam Tu-tu, for such was the name of the fairy. She left Lirette, therefore, at the House of Roses; but she had not got far on her way before she met Lirette's fawn, which was going towards the forest, and at the same time she saw Finfin's partridge coming from it. They joined each other close to her. It was not without astonishment that she saw round the neck of each a little ribbon, with a paper attached. She called the partridge, which flew to her, and taking the paper from it, she read these lines:—

To Lirette, dear bird, repair— Absent from her sight I languish,— All my love to her declare— Secret joy and silent anguish. Much too cold her heart, I fear, Such a passion e'er to know Were I to her but half as dear, No greater bliss I'd crave below.

[Pg 210]

"What words!" cried the Good Woman,—"what phrases! Simple friendship does not express itself with so much warmth." Then stopping the fawn, which came to lick her hand, she unfastened the paper from its neck, opened it, and found in it these words:—

The sun is setting,—you are absent yet, Although you left me by its earliest light! Return, dear Finfin; surely you forget— Without you, day to me is endless night!

"Just as they did when I was in the world," continued the Good Woman; "who could have taught Lirette so much in this desert? What can I do to cut betimes the root of so pernicious an evil?" "Eh, Madam, what are you so anxious about?" said the partridge; "let them alone—those who conduct them know better than you."

The Good Woman remained speechless: she knew well that the partridge spoke by means of supernatural art. The notes fell from her hands in her fright; the fawn and the partridge picked them up: the one ran and the other flew; and the partridge called so often "Tu-tu," that the Good Woman thought it must be that powerful fairy who had caused it to speak. She recovered herself a little after this reflection, but not feeling equal to the journey she had undertaken, she retraced her steps to the House of Roses.

Meanwhile Finfin and Mirtis had hunted the livelong day, and, being tired, they had placed their game on the ground, and sat down to rest under a tree, where they fell asleep.

The King's son also hunted that day in the forest. He missed his suite, and came to the place where our young shepherd and shepherdess were reposing. He contemplated them for some time with wonder. Finfin had made a pillow of his game-bag, and the head of Mirtis reclined on the breast of Finfin.

The Prince thought Mirtis so beautiful, that he precipitately dismounted from his horse to examine her features with more attention. He judged, by their scrips and the simplicity of their apparel, that they were only some shepherd's children. He sighed from grief, having already sighed from love, and this love, even, was followed in an instant by jealousy. The position in which he found these young people made him believe that such familiarity could only result from the affection which united them.

The Good Woman.—P. 210.

[Pg 211]

In this uneasy state of mind, not being able to tolerate their prolonged repose, he touched the handsome Finfin with his spear. He started up, and, seeing a man before him, he passed his hand over the face of Mirtis, and awoke her, calling her "sister," a name which dissipated in a moment the alarm of the young Prince.

Mirtis rose up, quite astonished; she had never seen any one but Finfin. The young Prince was the same age as herself. He was superbly attired, and had a face full of charming expression.

He began saying many sweet things to her. She listened to him with a pleasure which she had never before experienced, and she responded to them in a simple manner, full of grace. Finfin saw that it was getting late, and the fawn having arrived with Lirette's letter, he told his sister it was time to go home. "Come, brother," said she to the young Prince, giving him her hand, "come with us into the House of Roses." For as she believed Finfin to be her brother, she thought that every one who was handsome, like him, must be her brother also.

The young Prince did not require much pressing to follow her. Finfin threw on the back of his fawn the game he had shot, and the handsome Prince carried the bow and the game-bag of Mirtis.

In this order they arrived at the House of Roses. Lirette came out to meet them. She gave the Prince a smiling reception, and turning towards Mirtis, "I am delighted," said she, "that you have had such good sport."

They went all together to seek the Good Woman, to whom the Prince made known his high birth. She paid due attention to so illustrious a guest, and gave him a handsome apartment. He remained two or three days with her, and this was long enough to complete his conquest by Mirtis, according to Finfin's request to his little almond.

Meanwhile, the suite of the Prince had been much surprised at his absence. They had found his horse, and they believed that some frightful accident had befallen him. They sought him everywhere, and the wicked King, who was his father, was in a great fury at their not being able to find him. The Queen, his mother, who was very amiable, and sister of [Pg 212] the King whom her husband had cruelly murdered, was in an inconceivable state of grief at the loss of her son.

In her extreme distress, she sent secretly in search of Madam Tu-tu, who was an old friend of hers, but whom she had not seen for some time, because the King hated her, and had done her much injury with a person she dearly loved. Madam Tu-tu arrived, without being perceived, in the cabinet of the Queen. After they had embraced each other affectionately—for there is not much difference between a Queen and a Fairy, they having almost equal power,—the Fairy Tu-tu told her that she would very soon see her son. She begged her not to make herself uneasy, and not to be at all distressed at anything that might happen—that either she was very much deceived, or she could promise her a delight which was quite unexpected by her, and that she would be one day the happiest of creatures.

The King's people made so many inquiries for the Prince, and sought him with so much care, that at length they found him at the House of Roses.

They led him back to the King, who scolded him brutally, as though he were not the most beautiful youth in the world. He remained very sad at the Court of his father, and thinking of his beautiful Mirtis. At length his grief was so visible on his countenance, that he was obliged to take his mother into his confidence, who consoled him extremely. "If you will mount your beautiful palfrey," said he, "and come to the House of Roses, you will be charmed with what you will see." The Queen consented willingly, and took her son with her, who was enchanted at seeing his dear mistress again.

The Queen was astonished at the great beauty of Mirtis, and also at that of Lirette and Finfin. She embraced them with as much tenderness as if they had been all her own children, and conceived an immense friendship from that moment for the Good Woman. She admired the house, the garden, and all the curiosities she saw there. When she returned, the King desired her to give an account of her journey; she did so naturally, and he took a great fancy to go also and see the wonders which she described. His son asked permission to accompany him; he consented with a sullen air, for he never did anything with a good grace. As soon as he saw [Pg 213] the House of Roses he coveted it; he paid not the least attention to the charming inhabitants of this beautiful place, and, by way of commencing to take possession of their property, he said that he would sleep there that evening.

The Good Woman was very much vexed at such a resolution. She heard an uproar, and saw a disorder in her household, which frightened her. "What has become," cried she, "of the happy tranquillity which I once enjoyed here! The least breath of fortune destroys all the calm of life!"

She gave the King an excellent bed, and withdrew into a corner of the dwelling with her little family. The wicked King went to bed, but found it impossible to go to sleep, and opening his eyes, he saw at the foot of his couch a little old woman, who was not half a yard high, and about as broad; she had great spectacles, which covered all her face, and she made frightful grimaces at him. The base are generally cowards. He was in a terrible fright, and felt at the same time a thousand points of needles pricking him all over. In this tormenting state of body and mind, he was kept awake the entire night, and made a great noise about it. The King stormed and swore in language which was not at all consistent with his dignity. "Sleep, sleep, sire," said the partridge, "or let us sleep: if the condition of royalty is so full of anxiety, I prefer being a partridge to being king." The King was more than ever alarmed at these words; he commanded them to seize the partridge, which roosted in a porcelain vase; but she flew away at this order, beating his face with her wings. He still saw the same vision, and felt the same prickings; he was dreadfully frightened, and his anger became more furious. "Ah!" said he, "it is a spell of this sorceress, whom they call the Good Woman. I will rid myself of her and all her race by putting them to death!"

He got up, not being able to rest in bed; and as soon as day broke, he commanded his guards to seize all the innocent little family, and fling them into dungeons. He had them dragged before him, that he might witness their despair. Those charming faces, bedewed with tears, touched him not; on the contrary, he felt a malignant joy at the sight. His son, whose tender heart was rent by so sad a spectacle, could not turn his eyes upon Mirtis without an agony which [Pg 214] nothing could exceed. A true lover, on such occasions, suffers more than the person beloved.

They seized these poor innocents, and were leading them away, when the young Finfin, who had no arms with which to oppose these barbarians, took the ribbon on a sudden from his neck. "Little almond," cried he, "I wish that we were out of the power of the King!" "And with his greatest enemies, my dear cherry!" continued Lirette. "And that we might take away with us the handsome Prince, my medlar!" added Mirtis. They had hardly uttered these words when they found themselves with the Prince, the partridge, and the fawn, all together in a car, which rising with them in the air, they soon lost sight of the King and the House of Roses.

Mirtis had no sooner expressed her wish than she repented of it. She knew well that she had inconsiderately allowed herself to be carried away by an impulse of which she was not the mistress; therefore, during all the journey, she kept her eyes cast down, and felt much abashed. The Good Woman gave her a severe glance. "My daughter," said she, "you have not done well to separate the Prince from his father; however unjust he may be, he ought not to leave him." "Ah, Madam," replied the Prince, "do not complain that I have the happiness of following you. I respect the King, my father; but I should have left him a hundred times had it not been for the virtue, the kindness, and tenderness of the Queen, my mother, which have always detained me."

As he finished these words, they found themselves in front of a beautiful palace, where they alighted and were received by Madam Tu-tu. She was the most lovely person in the world—young, lively, and gay. She paid them a hundred compliments, and confessed to them that it was she who had given them all the pleasures which they had enjoyed in their lives, and had also bestowed on them the cherry, the almond, and the medlar, the virtues of which were at an end, as they had now arrived in her dominions. Then, addressing the Prince in private, she told him that she had heard speak a thousand times of the annoyance he had met with from his father; but, in order that he should not attribute to her any evil that might hereafter befal the King, she frankly admitted she had played him some tricks, but that was the full extent of her vengeance.

[Pg 215]

After that, she assured them that they would be all very happy with her; that they should have flocks to keep, crooks, bows, arrows, and fishing-rods, in order that they might amuse themselves in a hundred different ways. She gave them shepherds' dresses of the most elegant description, including the Prince with the others,—their names and devices being on their crooks; and that very evening the young Prince exchanged crooks with the charming Mirtis.

The next day Madame Tu-tu led them to the most delightful promenade in the world, and showed them the best pasturage for their sheep, and a fine country for the chase.

"You can go," said she, "on this side as far as that beautiful river, but never to the opposite shore; and you may hunt in this wood; but beware," said she, "of passing a great oak, which is in the midst of the forest; it is very remarkable, for it has roots and trunk of iron. If you go beyond it, misfortunes may happen to you, from which I cannot protect you; and, besides that, I should not perhaps be in a position to assist you promptly, for a fairy has plenty of occupation."

The young shepherds assured her that they would do exactly as she prescribed; and all four, leading their flocks into the meadows, left Madam Tu-tu alone with the Good Woman. She remarked some anxiety in her manner. "What is the matter, madam?" said the Fairy; "what cloud has come over your mind?" "I will not deny," said the Good Woman, "that I am uneasy at leaving them all thus together. I have for some time perceived with sorrow that Finfin and Lirette love each other more than is desirable, and here, to add to my trouble, another attachment springs up: the Prince and Mirtis do not dislike each other, and I fear to leave their youth exposed to the wandering of their hearts."

"You have brought up these two young girls so well," replied Madam Tu-tu, "that you need fear nothing: I will answer for their discretion; I will enlighten you as to their destiny."

She then informed her that Finfin was the son of the wicked King, and brother of the young Prince; that Mirtis and Lirette were sisters, and daughters of the deceased King, who had been murdered, and who was the brother of the Queen, whom the cruel usurper had married,—so that these [Pg 216] four young persons were near relations; that the wicked King had ascended the throne after having committed a hundred atrocities, which he wished to crown by the murder of the two Princesses; that the Queen did all she could to prevent him, and not being able to succeed, she had called her (the Fairy) to her assistance; that she then told the Queen she would save them, but that she could only do so by taking with them her eldest son; that she undertook to promise she should see them again some day in happiness; that on those conditions, the Queen had consented to a separation, which appeared at first very hard; that she had carried them all three off, and that she had confided them to the care of the Good Woman as the person most worthy of such an office.

After this the Fairy begged her to be at ease, assuring her that the union of these young Princes would restore peace to the kingdom, wherein Finfin would reign with Lirette. The Good Woman listened to this discourse with great interest; but not without letting fall some tears. Madam Tu-tu was surprised at this emotion, and asked the cause. "Alas!" said she, "I fear they will lose their innocence by this grandeur to which they will be elevated, and that so brilliant a fortune will corrupt their virtue."

"No," replied the Fairy, "do not fear so great a misfortune; the principles you have instilled into them are too excellent. It is possible to be a king and yet an honest man. You know that there is one in the universe who is the model of perfect monarchs.[14] Therefore set your mind at rest; I shall be with you as much as possible, and I hope you will not be melancholy here."

The Good Woman believed her, and after a short time felt perfectly satisfied. The young shepherds were so happy also that they desired nothing but the continuance of their agreeable mode of life. Their pleasures, although tranquil, were not without interest: they saw each other every day, and the days only appeared to them too short.

The bad King learnt that they were with Madam Tu-tu, but all his power could not take them away from her. He knew by what magic spells she protected them; he saw clearly that he could only get the better of them by stratagem; he had not been able to inhabit the House of Roses in consequence of the continual tricks played on him by Madam Tu-tu; he hated her more than ever, as well as the Good Woman; and his hatred now extended also to his son.

[Pg 217]

He employed all kinds of artifice in order to get into his power some one of the four young shepherds, but his art did not extend to the dominions of Madam Tu-tu. One unlucky day (there are some which we cannot avoid), these amiable shepherds had bent their steps in the direction of the fatal oak, when the beautiful Lirette perceived upon a tree, about twenty paces distant, a bird of such rare plumage, that she let fly an arrow at it on the impulse of the moment, and seeing the bird fall dead, ran to pick it up. All this was done instantaneously, and without reflection; but the poor Lirette found, to her cost, that she was caught herself. It was impossible for her to return; she desired, but had no power to do so. She discovered her error, and all she could do was to extend her arms for pity to her brothers and sisters. Mirtis began to cry, and Finfin, without hesitation, ran to her. "I will perish with you," he cried, and in a moment had joined her.

Mirtis wished to follow them, but the young Prince detained her. "Let us go and apprise Madame Tu-tu of this," said he; "that is the best assistance we can render them." At the same moment they saw the people of the wicked King seize them, and all they could do was to cry adieu to each other.

The King had caused this beautiful bird to be placed there by his hunters, to serve as a snare for the shepherds: he fully expected what had come to pass. They led Lirette and Finfin before the cruel monarch, who abused them terribly, and had them confined in a dark and strong prison: it was then they began to lament that their little cherry and almond had lost their virtue. The fawn and the partridge sought for them, but the fawn not being able to see them, shed some tears of grief, and finding the King had given orders that she should be taken and burnt alive, she saved herself by running fast to Mirtis. The partridge was more fortunate, for she saw them every day through the grating of their prison: happily for them, the King had not thought of separating them. When one loves, it is a pleasure to suffer together.

The partridge flew back every day, and came to tell the [Pg 218] news to Madame Tu-tu, the Good Woman, and Mirtis. Mirtis was very unhappy, and without the handsome Prince she would have been inconsolable. She resolved to write to these poor captives by the faithful partridge, and hung a little bottle of ink to her neck, with some paper, and put a pen in her beak. The good partridge, thus loaded, presented herself at the bars of the prison, and it was a great delight to our young shepherds to see her again. Finfin put out his hand and took from her all she brought him, after which they began to read as follows:[15]

Mirtis and the Prince to Lirette and Finfin.

"Know you how we languish during this cruel separation; that we sigh incessantly, and that perhaps it may kill us. We should already have died, had we not been sustained by hope. That hope has supported us ever since Madam Tu-tu has assured us that you still lived. Believe us, dear Lirette and Finfin, we shall meet again, despite of malice, and be happy."

This letter had a powerful effect on the minds of Lirette and Finfin. They were filled with joy, and wrote immediately this reply:—

Lirette and Finfin to Mirtis and the Prince.

"We have received your letter with extreme pleasure. It has rejoiced us more than we could have anticipated. In these regions of horror our torments would be insupportable, but for the sweet consolation we derive from each other's presence. Near the object of our affections, we are insensible to pain, and love renders everything delightful. Adieu, dear Prince, adieu, Mirtis. Encourage your mutual passion. Be always inspired by a tender fidelity. You hold out a hope to us in which we participate. The greatest blessing which can occur to us will be accompanied by your presence."

[Pg 219]

Finfin having attached this note to the neck of the partridge, she flew away with it very quickly. The young shepherds received great consolation from it, but the Good Woman could not be comforted from the moment she had been separated from those so dear to her, and whom she knew to be in so much peril. "How quickly my happiness has vanished," said she to Madame Tu-tu; "I seem to have been born only to be continually agitated. I thought I had taken the only means for ensuring my repose; how purblind are mortals!" "And do you not know," replied the Fairy, "that there is no state of existence in this world in which one can live always happily." "I do," replied the Good Woman, mournfully; "and if one cannot find happiness in one's self, it is seldom found elsewhere. But, Madam, consider the fate of my children, I beg of you!" "They have not remembered the orders I gave them," replied Madame Tu-tu; "but let us think of a remedy."

Madame Tu-tu entered her library with the Good Woman. She read nearly all the night, and having at length taken down and opened a large book, which she had frequently passed over, although its sides were covered with plates of gold, she appeared plunged, on a sudden, into a state of excessive sadness. After some time, and just as day was breaking, the Good Woman observing a few tears fall on the leaves of the book, took the liberty to ask the cause of the Fairy's sorrow. "I grieve," said she, "at the irrevocable decree of Fate, which I have learned from these pages, and which I shudder and tremble to acquaint you with." "Are they dead?" cried the Good Woman. "No," pursued Madame Tu-tu; "but nothing can save them, unless you or I go and present ourselves to the King, and satisfy his vengeance. I confess the truth to you, Madam," continued the Fairy, "that I do not feel sufficient affection for them, nor enough courage, to go thus and expose myself to his fury, and I question, also, if any one could be found capable of such a sacrifice." "Pardon me, Madam," replied the Good Woman, with great firmness; "I will go seek this King; no sacrifice is too great for me that will save my children. I will pour out for them, with all my heart, every drop of blood which I have in my veins."

Madam Tu-tu could not sufficiently admire so grand a resolution; she promised to assist her in every way in her power; but that she found herself limited in this instance, in consequence of the fault which they had committed. The Good Woman took leave of her, and would not acquaint Mirtis [Pg 220] or the Prince with her design, for fear of affecting them and weakening her own determination. She set out with the partridge flying by her side; and as they passed the iron oak, the partridge snatched with her beak a little moss from its trunk, and placed it in the hands of the Good Woman. "When you are in the greatest peril which can befall you," said she to her, "throw this moss at the feet of the King." The Good Woman treasured up these words, and hardly had she advanced some steps when she was seized by some of the wicked King's soldiers, whom he always kept in readiness on the outskirts of the domain of Madam Tu-tu. They led her before him. "I have thee at last, wicked creature!" said he; "I will put thee to death by the most cruel torture!" "I came but for that purpose," replied she, "and thou mayst exercise thy cruelty as thou wilt on me, only spare my children, who are so young and incapable of having offended thee. I offer thee my life for theirs." All who heard these words were filled with pity at her magnanimity; the King alone was unmoved. The Queen, who was present, shed a torrent of tears. The King was so indignant with her that he would have killed her, if her attendants had not placed themselves between them. She fled, uttering piercing cries.

The barbarous King caused the Good Woman to be shut up, ordering them to feed her well, in order to render approaching death more frightful to her. He commanded them to fill a pit with snakes, vipers, and serpents, promising himself the pleasure of precipitating the Good Woman into it. What a horrible mode of execution! It makes one shudder to think of it!

The officers of this unjust Prince obeyed him with regret; and when they had fulfilled this frightful order, the King came to the spot. They were about to bind the Good Woman, when she begged them not to do so, assuring them that she had sufficient courage to meet death with her hands free; and, feeling she had no time to lose, she approached the King, and threw the moss at his feet. He was at that moment close to the frightful gulf, and stepping forward to inspect it again with pleasure, his feet slipped on the moss, and he fell in. Hardly had he reached the bottom of the pit, when the sanguinary reptiles darted upon him, and stung him to death, and the Good Woman, at the same instant, found herself in company with her dear partridge in the House of Roses.

[Pg 221]

Whilst these things were happening, Finfin and Lirette were almost dead with misery in their fearful prison; their innocent affection alone kept them alive. They were saying very sad and very affecting things to each other, when they perceived on a sudden the doors of their dungeon open and admit Mirtis, the handsome Prince, and Madam Tu-tu, who threw themselves on their necks, and who, though speaking all at once, failed not, in the midst of this joyful confusion, to announce the death of the King. "He was your father, Finfin, as well as that of the Prince," said Madam Tu-tu; "but he was unnatural and tyrannical, and would a hundred times have put the Queen, your dear mother, to death. Let us go to seek her." They did so. Her amiable nature made her feel some regret at the death of the King, her husband. Finfin and the Prince also paid all decent respect to his memory. Finfin was acknowledged King, and Mirtis and Lirette Princesses. They went all together to the House of Roses, to see the generous Good Woman, who thought she should die of joy in embracing them. They all acknowledged that they owed their lives to her, and more than their lives, as they were indebted to her for their happiness also.

From that moment they considered themselves perfectly happy. The marriages were celebrated with great pomp. King Finfin espoused the Princess Lirette, and Mirtis the Prince. When these splendid nuptials were over, the Good Woman asked permission to retire to the House of Roses. They were very unwilling to consent to this, but yielded to her sincere wish. The widowed Queen also desired to pass the rest of her life with the Good Woman, and the partridge and the fawn did likewise. They were quite disgusted with the world, and found tranquillity in that charming retreat. Madam Tu-tu often went to visit them, as did the King and Queen, the Prince and Princess.

Happy those who can imitate the actions of the Good Woman. Such grandeur of soul must ever meet due reward. Little do they fear being wrecked on the shoals of Fortune, who can give up all with so much courage. Discretion, Sense, Virtue—what may not mortals owe to you, their truest friends in need.

FOOTNOTES:

[14] Louis XIV., "Le Grande Monarque."

[15] I have not thought it necessary to run into rhyme the exceedingly prosaic effusions of the two pairs of lovers.


[Pg 222]

MADAME DE VILLENEUVE.


[Pg 225]

THE STORY
OF
THE BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

In a country very far from this is to be seen a great city wherein trade flourishes abundantly. It numbered amongst its citizens a merchant, who succeeded in all his speculations, and upon whom Fortune, responding to his wishes, had always showered her fairest favours. But if he had immense wealth, he had also a great many children, his family consisting of six boys and six girls. None of them were settled in life: the boys were too young to think of it; the girls, too proud of their fortunes, upon which they had every reason to count, could not easily determine upon the choice they should make. Their vanity was flattered by the attentions of the handsomest young gentlemen. But a reverse of fortune which they did not at all expect, came to trouble their felicity. Their house took fire; the splendid furniture with which it was filled, the account books, the notes, gold, silver, and all the valuable stores which formed the merchant's principal wealth, were enveloped in this fatal conflagration, which was so violent that very few of the things could be saved. This first misfortune was but the forerunner of others. The father, with whom hitherto everything had prospered, lost at the same time, either by shipwreck or by pirates, all the ships he had at sea; his correspondents made him a bankrupt, his foreign agents were treacherous; in short, from the greatest opulence, he suddenly fell into the most abject poverty. He had nothing left but a small country house, situated in a lonely place, more than a hundred leagues from the city in which he usually resided. Impelled to seek a place of refuge from [Pg 226] noise and tumult, he took his family to this retired spot, who were in despair at such a revolution. The daughters of this unfortunate merchant were especially horrified at the prospect of the life they should have to lead in this dull solitude. For some time they flattered themselves that, when their father's intention became known, their lovers, who had hitherto sued in vain, would be only too happy to find they were inclined to listen to them. They imagined that the many admirers of each would be all striving to obtain the preference. They thought if they wished only for a husband they would obtain one; but they did not remain very long in such a delightful illusion. They had lost their greatest attractions when, like a flash of lightning, their father's splendid fortune had disappeared, and their time for choosing had departed with it. Their crowd of admirers vanished at the moment of their downfall; their beauty was not sufficiently powerful to retain one of them. Their friends were not more generous than their lovers. From the hour they became poor, every one, without exception, ceased to know them. Some were even cruel enough to impute their misfortunes to their own acts. Those whom the father had most obliged were his most vehement calumniators: they reported that all his calamities were brought on by his own bad conduct, his prodigality, and the foolish extravagance of himself and his children.

This wretched family, therefore, could not do better than depart from a city wherein everybody took a pleasure in insulting them in their misfortunes. Having no resource whatever, they shut themselves up in their country house, situated in the middle of an almost impenetrable forest, and which might well be considered the saddest abode in the world. What misery they had to endure in this frightful solitude! They were forced to do the hardest work. Not being able to have any one to wait upon them, this unfortunate merchant's sons were compelled to divide the servant's duties amongst them, as well as to exert themselves in every way that people must do who have to earn their livelihood in the country. The daughters, on their part, had sufficient employment. Like the poor peasant girls, they found themselves obliged to employ their delicate hands in all the labours of a rural life. Wearing nothing but woollen dresses, having [Pg 227] nothing to gratify their vanity, existing upon what the land could give them, limited to common necessaries, but still retaining a refined and dainty taste, these girls incessantly regretted the city and its attractions. The recollection even of their younger days passed so rapidly in a round of mirth and pleasure was their greatest torment. The youngest girl, however, displayed greater perseverance and firmness in their common misfortune. She bore her lot cheerfully, and with a strength of mind much beyond her years: not but what, at first, she was truly melancholy. Alas! who would not have felt such misfortunes. But, after deploring her father's ruin, could she do better than resume her former gaiety, make up her mind to the position she was placed in, and forget a world which she and her family had found so ungrateful, and the friendship of which she was so fully persuaded was not to be relied upon in the time of adversity?

Anxious to console herself and her brothers, by her amiable disposition and sprightliness, there was nothing she did not do to amuse them. The merchant had spared no cost in her education, nor in that of her sisters. At this sad period she derived all the advantage from it she desired. As she could play exceedingly well upon various instruments, and sing to them charmingly, she asked her sisters to follow her example, but her cheerfulness and patience only made them more miserable. These girls, who were so inconsolable in their ill fortune, thought their youngest sister showed a poor and mean spirit, and even silliness, to be so merry in the state it had pleased Providence to reduce them to. "How happy she is," said the eldest; "she was intended for such coarse occupations. With such low notions, what would she have done in the world?" Such remarks were unjust. This young person was much more fitted to shine in society than either of them. She was a perfectly beautiful young creature, her good temper rendered her adorable. A generous and tender heart was visible in all her words and actions. Quite as much alive to the reverses that had just overwhelmed her family as either of her sisters, by a strength of mind which is not common in her sex, she concealed her sorrow, and rose superior to her misfortunes. So much firmness was considered to be insensibility. But one can easily appeal from a judgment pronounced by jealousy.

[Pg 228]

Every intelligent person, who saw her in her true light, was eager to give her the preference over her sisters. In the midst of her greatest splendour, although distinguished by her merit, she was so handsome that she was called "The Beauty." Known by this name only, what more was required to increase the jealousy and hatred of her sisters? Her charms, and the general esteem in which she was held, might have induced her to hope for a much more advantageous establishment than her sisters; but feeling only for her father's misfortunes, far from retarding his departure from a city in which she had enjoyed so much pleasure, she did all she could to expedite it. This young girl was as contented in their solitude as she had been in the midst of the world. To amuse herself in her hours of relaxation, she would dress her hair with flowers, and, like the shepherdesses of former times, forgetting in a rural life all that had most gratified her in the height of opulence, every day brought to her some new innocent pleasure.

Two years had already passed, and the family began to be accustomed to a country life, when a hope of returning prosperity arrived to discompose their tranquillity. The father received news that one of his vessels, that he thought was lost, had safely arrived in port, richly laden. His informants added, they feared the factors would take advantage of his absence, and sell the cargo at a low price, and by this fraud make a great profit at his expense. He imparted these tidings to his children, who did not doubt for an instant but that they should soon be enabled to return from exile. The girls, much more impatient than the boys, thinking it was unnecessary to wait for more certain proof, were anxious to set out instantly, and to leave everything behind them. But the father, who was more prudent, begged them to moderate their delight. However important he was to his family at a time when the labours of the field could not be interrupted without great loss, he determined to leave his sons to get in the harvest, and that he would set out upon this long journey. His daughters, with the exception of the youngest, expected they would soon be restored to their former opulence. They fancied that, even if their father's property would not be considerable enough to settle them in the great metropolis, their native place, he would at least [Pg 229] have sufficient for them to live in a less expensive city. They trusted they should find good society there, attract admirers, and profit by the first offer that might be made to them. Scarcely remembering the troubles they had undergone for the last two years, believing themselves to be already, as by a miracle, removed from poverty into the lap of plenty, they ventured (for retirement had not cured them of the taste for luxury and display) to overwhelm their father with foolish commissions. They requested him to make purchases of jewelry, attire, and head-dresses. Each endeavoured to outvie the other in her demands, so that the sum total of their father's supposed fortune would not have been sufficient to satisfy them.

Beauty, who was not the slave of ambition, and who always acted with prudence, saw directly that if he executed her sisters' commissions, it would be useless for her to ask for anything. But the father, astonished at her silence, said, interrupting his insatiable daughters, "Well, Beauty, dost thou not desire anything? What shall I bring thee? what dost thou wish for? Speak freely." "My dear papa," replied the amiable girl, embracing him affectionately, "I wish for one thing more precious than all the ornaments my sisters have asked you for; I have limited my desires to it, and shall be only too happy if they can be fulfilled. It is the gratification of seeing you return in perfect health." This answer was so unmistakeably disinterested, that it covered the others with shame and confusion. They were so angry, that one of them, answering for the rest, said with bitterness, "This child gives herself great airs, and fancies that she will distinguish herself by these affected heroics. Surely nothing can be more ridiculous." But the father, touched by her expressions, could not help showing his delight at them; appreciating, too, the feeling which induced her to ask nothing for herself, he begged she would choose something; and to allay the ill-will that his other daughters had towards her, he observed to her that such indifference to dress was not natural at her age—that there was a time for everything. "Very well, my dear father," said she, "since you desire me to make some request, I beg you will bring me a rose; I love that flower passionately, and since I have lived in this desert I have not had the pleasure of seeing one." This was to [Pg 230] obey her father, and at the same time to avoid putting him to any expense for her.

At length the day arrived, that this good old man was compelled to leave his family. He travelled as fast as he could to the great city to which the prospect of a new fortune recalled him. But he did not meet with the benefits he had hoped for. His vessel had certainly arrived; but his partners, believing him to be dead, had taken possession of it, and all the cargo had been disposed of. Thus, instead of entering into the full and peaceable possession of that which belonged to him, he was compelled to encounter all sorts of chicanery in the pursuit of his rights. He overcame them, but after more than six months of trouble and expense, he was not any richer than he was before. His debtors had become insolvent, and he could hardly defray his own costs. Thus terminated this dream of riches.

To add to his disagreeables, he was obliged, on the score of economy, to start on his homeward journey at the most inconvenient time, and in the most frightful weather. Exposed on the road to the piercing blasts, he thought he should die with fatigue; but when he found himself within a few miles of his house (which he did not reckon upon leaving for such false hopes, and which Beauty had shown her sense in mistrusting) his strength returned to him. It would be some hours before he could cross the forest; it was late, but he wished to continue his journey. He was benighted, suffering from intense cold, buried, one might say, in the snow, with his horse; not knowing which way to bend his steps, he thought his last hour had come: no hut in his road, although the forest was filled with them. A tree, hollowed by age, was the best shelter he could find, and only too happy was he to hide himself in it. This tree protecting him from the cold, was the means of saving his life; and the horse, a little distance from his master, perceiving another hollow tree, was led by instinct to take shelter in that.

The night, in such a situation, appeared to him to be never-ending; furthermore, he was famished, frightened at the roaring of the wild beasts, that were constantly passing by him. Could he be at peace for an instant? His trouble and anxiety did not end with the night. He had no sooner the pleasure of seeing daylight than his distress was greater. The ground [Pg 231] appeared so extraordinarily covered with snow, no road could he find—no track was to be seen. It was only after great fatigue and frequent falls, that he succeeded in discovering something like a path upon which he could keep his footing.

Proceeding without knowing in which direction, chance led him into the avenue of a beautiful castle, which the snow seemed to have respected. It consisted of four rows of orange-trees, laden with flowers and fruit. Statues were seen here and there, regardless of order or symmetry—some were in the middle of the road, others among the trees—all after the strangest fashion; they were of the size of life, and had the colour of human beings, in different attitudes, and in various dresses, the greatest number representing warriors. Arriving at the first court-yard, he perceived a great many more statues. He was suffering so much from cold that he could not stop to examine them. An agate staircase, with balusters of chased gold, first presented itself to his sight: he passed through several magnificently furnished rooms; a gentle warmth which he breathed in them renovated him. He needed food; but to whom could he apply? This large and magnificent edifice appeared to be inhabited only by statues. A profound silence reigned throughout it; nevertheless it had not the air of an old palace that had been deserted. The halls, the rooms, the galleries were all open; no living thing appeared to be in this charming place.

Weary of wandering over this vast dwelling, he stopped in a saloon, wherein was a large fire. Presuming that it was prepared for some one, who would not be long in appearing, he drew near the fireplace to warm himself; but no one came. Seated on a sofa near the fire, a sweet sleep closed his eyelids, and left him no longer in a condition to observe the entrance of any one. Fatigue induced him to sleep; hunger awoke him; he had been suffering from it for the last twenty-four hours. The exercise that he had taken ever since he had been in this palace increased his appetite. When he awoke and opened his eyes, he was astonished to see a table elegantly laid. A light repast would not have satisfied him; but the viands, magnificently dressed, invited him to eat of everything.

His first care was to utter in a loud voice his thanks to those from whom he had received so much kindness, and he then resolved to wait quietly till it pleased his host to make himself [Pg 232] known to him. As fatigue caused him to sleep before his repast, so did the food produce the same effect, and his repose was longer and more powerful; in fact, this second time he slept for at least four hours. Upon awaking, in the place of the first table he saw another of porphyry, upon which some kind hand had set out a collation consisting of cakes, preserved fruits, and liqueurs. This was likewise for his use. Profiting, therefore, by the kindness shown him, he partook of everything that suited his appetite, his taste, and his fancy.

Finding at length no one to speak to, or to inform him whether this palace was inhabited by a man or by a God, fear began to take possession of him, for he was naturally timid. He resolved, therefore, to repass through all the apartments, and overwhelm with thanks the Genius to whom he was indebted for so much kindness, and in the most respectful manner solicit him to appear. All his attentions were useless: no appearance of servants, no result by which he could ascertain that the palace was inhabited. Thinking seriously of what he should do, he began to fancy, for what reason he could not imagine, that some good spirit had made this mansion a present to him, with all the riches that it contained. This idea seemed like inspiration, and without further delay, making a new inspection of it, he took possession of all the treasures he could find. More than this, he settled in his own mind what share of it he should allow to each of his children, and selected the apartments which would particularly suit them, enjoying the delight beforehand which his journey would afford them. He entered the garden, where, in spite of the severity of the winter, the rarest flowers were exhaling the most delicious perfume in the mildest and purest air. Birds of all kinds blending their songs with the confused noise of the waters, made an agreeable harmony.

The old man, in ecstasies at such wonders, said to himself, "My daughters will not, I think, find it very difficult to accustom themselves to this delicious abode. I cannot believe that they will regret, or that they will prefer the city to this mansion. Let me set out directly," cried he, in a transport of joy rather uncommon for him; "I shall increase my happiness in witnessing theirs: I will take possession at once."

Upon entering this charming castle he had taken care, [Pg 233] notwithstanding he was nearly perished, to unbridle his horse and let him wend his way to a stable which he had observed in the fore-court. An alley, ornamented by palisades, formed by rose-bushes in full bloom, led to it. He had never seen such lovely roses. Their perfume reminded him that he had promised to give Beauty a rose. He picked one, and was about to gather enough to make half-a-dozen bouquets, when a most frightful noise made him turn round. He was terribly alarmed upon perceiving at his side a horrible beast, which, with an air of fury, laid upon his neck a kind of trunk, resembling an elephant's, and said, with a terrific voice, "Who gave thee permission to gather my roses? Is it not enough that I kindly allowed thee to remain in my palace. Instead of feeling grateful, rash man, I find thee stealing my flowers! Thy insolence shall not remain unpunished." The good man, already too much overpowered by the unexpected appearance of this monster, thought he should die of fright at these words, and quickly throwing away the fatal rose. "Ah! my Lord," said he, prostrating himself before him, "have mercy on me! I am not ungrateful! Penetrated by all your kindness, I did not imagine that so slight a liberty could possibly have offended you." The monster very angrily replied, "Hold thy tongue, thou foolish talker. I care not for thy flattery, nor for the titles thou bestowest on me. I am not 'my Lord;' I am The Beast; and thou shalt not escape the death thou deservest."

The merchant, dismayed at so cruel a sentence, and thinking that submission was the only means to preserve his life, said, in a truly affecting manner, that the rose he had dared to take was for one of his daughters, called Beauty. Then, whether he hoped to escape from death, or to induce his enemy to feel for him, he related to him all his misfortunes; he told him the object of his journey, and did not omit to dwell on the little present he was bound to give Beauty; adding, that was the only thing she had asked for, while the riches of a king would hardly have sufficed to satisfy the wishes of his other daughters; and so came to the opportunity which had offered itself to satisfy the modest desire of Beauty, and his belief that he could have done so without any unpleasant consequences; asking pardon, moreover, for his involuntary fault. The Beast considered for a moment, then, [Pg 234] speaking in a milder tone, he said to him, "I will pardon thee, but upon condition that thou wilt give me one of thy daughters—I require some one to repair this fault." "Just Heaven!" replied the merchant; "how can I keep my word? Could I be so inhuman as to save my own life at the expense of one of my children's; under what pretext could I bring her here?" "There must be no pretext," interrupted the Beast. "I expect that whichever daughter you bring here she will come willingly, or I will not have either of them. Go; see if there be not one amongst them sufficiently courageous, and loving thee enough, to sacrifice herself to save thy life. Thou appearest to be an honest man. Give me thy word of honour to return in a month. If thou canst decide to bring one of them back with thee, she will remain here and thou wilt return home. If thou canst not do so, promise me to return hither alone, after bidding them farewell for ever, for thou wilt belong to me. Do not fancy," continued the Monster, grinding his teeth, "that by merely agreeing to my proposition thou wilt be saved. I warn thee, if thou thinkest so to escape me, I will seek for thee, and destroy thee and thy race, although a hundred thousand men appear to defend thee."

The good man, although quite convinced that he should not vainly put to the proof the devotion of his daughters, accepted, nevertheless, the Monster's proposition. He promised to return to him at the time named, and give himself up to his sad fate, without rendering it necessary for the Beast to seek for him. After this assurance he thought himself at liberty to retire and take leave of the Beast, whose presence was most distressing to him. The respite was but brief, yet he feared he might revoke it. He expressed his anxiety to depart; but the Beast told him he should not do so till the following day. "Thou wilt find," said he, "a horse ready at break of day. He will carry thee home quickly. Adieu—go to supper, and await my orders."

The poor man, more dead than alive, returned to the saloon in which he had feasted so heartily. Before a large fire his supper, already laid, invited him to sit and enjoy it. The delicacy and richness of the dishes had no longer, however, any temptation for him. Overwhelmed by his grief, he would not have seated himself at the table, but that he feared that [Pg 235] the Beast was concealed somewhere, and observing him, and that he would excite his anger by any slight of his bounty. To avoid further disaster, he made a momentary truce with his grief, and, as well as his afflicted heart would permit, he tasted, in turn, the various dishes. At the end of the repast a great noise was heard in the adjoining apartment, and he did not doubt that it was his formidable host. As he could not manage to avoid his presence, he tried to recover from the alarm which this sudden noise had caused him. At the same moment, the Beast, who appeared, asked him abruptly if he had made a good supper. The good man replied, in a modest and timid tone, that he had, thanks to his attention, eaten heartily. "Promise me," replied the Monster, "to remember your word to me, and to keep it as a man of honour, in bringing me one of your daughters."

The old man, who was not much entertained with this conversation, swore to him that he would fulfil what he had promised, and return in a month alone or with one of his daughters, if he should find one who loved him sufficiently to follow him on the conditions he must propose to her. "I warn thee again," said the Beast, "to take care not to deceive her as to the sacrifice which thou must exact from her, or the danger she will incur. Paint to her my face such as it is. Let her know what she is about to do: above all, let her be firm in her resolution. There will be no time for reflection when thou shalt have brought her hither. There must be no drawing back: thou wilt be equally lost, without obtaining for her the liberty to return." The merchant, who was overcome at this discourse, reiterated his promise to conform to all that was prescribed to him. The Monster, satisfied with his answer, ordered him to retire to rest, and not to rise till he should see the sun, and hear a golden bell.

"Thou wilt breakfast before setting out," said he again; "and thou mayest take a rose with thee for Beauty. The horse which shall bear thee will be ready in the court-yard. I reckon on seeing thee again in a month, if thou art an honest man. If thou failest in thy word, I shall pay thee a visit." The good man, for fear of prolonging a conversation already too painful to him, made a profound reverence to the Beast, who told him again not to be anxious respecting the road by which he should return; as at the time appointed the [Pg 236] same horse which he would mount the next morning would be found at his gate, and would suffice for his daughter and himself.

However little disposition the old man felt for sleep, he dared not disobey the orders he had received. Obliged to lie down, he did not rise till the sun began to illumine the chamber. His breakfast was soon despatched, and he then descended into the garden to gather the rose which the Beast had ordered him to take to Beauty. How many tears this flower caused him to shed. But the fear of drawing on himself new disasters made him constrain his feelings, and he went, without further delay, in search of the horse which had been promised him. He found on the saddle a light but warm cloak. As soon as the horse felt him on his back, he set off with incredible speed. The merchant, who in a moment lost sight of this fatal palace, experienced as great a sensation of joy as he had on the previous evening felt in perceiving it, with this difference, that the delight of leaving it was embittered by the cruel necessity of returning to it.

"To what have I pledged myself?" said he, whilst his courser carried him with a velocity and a lightness which is only known in fairy land. "Would it not be better that I should become at once the victim of this monster who thirsts for the blood of my family? By a promise I have made, as unnatural as it is indiscreet, I have prolonged my life. Is it possible that I could think of extending my days at the expense of those of my daughters? Can I have the barbarity to lead one to him, to see him, no doubt, devour her before my eyes?" But all at once, interrupting himself, he cried, "Miserable wretch that I am, what have I to fear? If I could find it in my heart to silence the voice of nature, would it depend on me to commit this cowardly act? She must know her fate and consent to it. I see no chance that she will be inclined to sacrifice herself for an inhuman father, and I ought not to make such a proposition to her. It is unjust. But even if the affection which they all entertain for me should induce one to devote herself, would not a single glance at the Beast destroy her constancy, and I could not complain. Ah! too imperious Beast," exclaimed he, "thou hast done this expressly! By putting an impossible condition to the means thou offerest me to escape thy fury, and obtain the pardon of a trifling fault, thou hast added insult to injury! But," continued he, "I cannot bear to think of it. I hesitate no longer; and I would rather expose myself without turning away from thy rage, than attempt a useless mode of escape, which my paternal love trembles to employ. Let me retrace," said he, "the road to this frightful palace, and without deigning to purchase so dearly the remnant of a life which can never be but miserable—without waiting for the month which is accorded me to expire,—return and terminate this day my miserable existence!"

Beauty and the Beast.—P. 236.

[Pg 237]

At these words he endeavoured to retrace his steps, but he found it impossible to turn the bridle of his horse. Allowing himself, therefore, against his will, to be carried forward, he resolved at least to propose nothing to his daughters. Already he saw his house in the distance, and strengthening himself more and more in his resolution, "I will not speak to them," he said, "of the danger which threatens me: I shall have the pleasure of embracing them once more; I shall give them my last advice; I will beg them to live on good terms with their brothers, whom I shall also implore not to abandon them."

In the midst of this reverie, he reached his door. His own horse, which had found its way home the previous evening, had alarmed his family. His sons, dispersed in the forest, had sought him in every direction; and his daughters, in their impatience to hear some tidings of him, were at the door, in order to obtain the earliest intelligence. As he was mounted on a magnificent steed, and wrapt in a rich cloak, they could not recognise him, but took him at first for a messenger sent by him, and the rose which they perceived attached to the pummel of the saddle made them perfectly easy on his account.

When this afflicted father, however, approached nearer, they recognised him, and thought only of evincing their satisfaction at seeing him return in good health. But the sadness depicted in his face, and his eyes filled with tears, which he vainly endeavoured to restrain, changed their joy into anxiety. All hastened to inquire the cause of his trouble. He made no reply but by saying to Beauty, as he presented her with the rose, "There is what thou hast demanded of me, but thou wilt pay dearly for it, as well as the others." "I was [Pg 238] certain," exclaimed the eldest, "and I was saying, this very moment, that she would be the only one whose commission you would execute. At this time of the year, a rose must have cost more than you would have had to pay for us all five together; and, judging from appearances, the rose will be faded before the day is ended: never mind, however, you were determined to gratify the fortunate Beauty at any price." "It is true," replied the father, mournfully, "that this rose has cost me dear, and more dear than all the ornaments which you wished for would have done. It is not in money, however; and would to Heaven that I might have purchased it with all I am yet worth in the world."

These words excited the curiosity of his children, and dispelled the resolution which he had taken not to reveal his adventure. He informed them of the ill-success of his journey, the trouble which he had undergone in running after a chimerical fortune, and all that had taken place in the palace of the Monster. After this explanation, despair took the place of hope and of joy.

The daughters seeing all their projects annihilated by this thunderbolt, uttered fearful cries; the brothers, more courageous, said resolutely that they would not suffer their father to return to this frightful castle; that they were bold enough to deliver the earth from this horrible Beast, even supposing he should have the temerity to come in search of him. The good man, although moved at their affliction, forbad them to commit violence, telling them, that as he had given his word, he would kill himself rather than fail to keep it.

Notwithstanding this, they sought for expedients to save his life; the young men, full of courage and filial affection, proposed that one of them should go and offer himself as a victim to the wrath of the Beast; but the monster had said positively and explicitly that he would have one of the daughters, and not one of the sons. The brave brothers grieved that their good intentions could not be acted upon, then did what they could to inspire their sisters with the same sentiments. But their jealousy of Beauty was sufficient to raise an invincible obstacle to such heroic action.

"It is not just," said they, "that we should perish in so frightful a manner for a fault of which we are not guilty. It would be to render us victims to Beauty, to whom they [Pg 239] would be very glad to sacrifice us; but duty does not require such a sacrifice. Here is the fruit of the moderation and perpetual preaching of this unhappy girl! Why did she not ask, like us, for a good stock of clothes and jewels. If we have not had them, it has at all events cost nothing for asking, and we have no cause to reproach ourselves for having exposed the life of our father by indiscreet demands. If, by an affected disinterestedness, she had not sought to distinguish herself, as she is in all things more favoured than we, he would have, no doubt, found enough money to content her. But she must needs, by her singular caprice, bring on us all this misfortune. It is she who has caused it, and they wish us to pay the penalty. We will not be her dupe. She has brought it on herself, and she must find the remedy."

Beauty, whose grief had almost deprived her of consciousness, suppressing her sobs and sighs, said to her sisters, "I am the cause of this misfortune; it is I alone who must repair it. I confess it would be unjust to allow you to suffer for my fault. Alas! it was, notwithstanding, an innocent wish. Could I foresee that the desire to have a rose when we were in the middle of summer would be punished so cruelly? The fault is committed, however; whether I am innocent or guilty, it is just that I should expiate it. It cannot be imputed to any one else. I will risk my life," pursued she, in a firm tone, "to release my father from his fatal engagement. I will go to find the Beast; too happy in being able to die in order to preserve the life of him from whom I received mine, and to silence your murmurs. Do not fear that anything can turn me from my purpose; but I pray you during this month to do me the favour to spare me your reproaches."

So much firmness in a girl of her age surprised them all much; and the brothers, who loved her tenderly, were moved at her resolution. They paid her infinite attention, and felt the loss they were about to sustain. But it was requisite to save the life of a father; this pious motive closed their mouths; and well persuaded that it was a thing decided on, far from thinking of combating so generous a purpose, they contented themselves by shedding tears, and giving their sister all the praise which her noble resolution merited, all the more from her being only sixteen years of age, and having the right to regret a life which she was about to sacrifice in so cruel a [Pg 240] manner. The father alone would not consent to the design of his youngest daughter; but the others reproached him insolently with the charge that Beauty alone was cared for by him, in spite of the misfortune which she had caused, and that he was sorry that it was not one of the elders who should pay for her imprudence.

This unjust language forced him to desist; besides, Beauty assured him that if he would not accept the exchange, she would make it in spite of him, for she would go alone to seek the Beast, and so perish without saving him. "How do we know," said she, forcing herself to assume more tranquillity than she really felt; "perhaps the dreadful fate which appears to await me conceals another as happy as this seems terrible?"

Her sisters, hearing her speak thus, smiled maliciously at the wild idea; they were enchanted at the delusion in which they believed her to be indulging. But the old man, conquered by all her reasons, and remembering an ancient prediction, by which he had learnt that this daughter should save his life, and that she should be a source of happiness to all her family, ceased to oppose the will of Beauty. Insensibly they began to speak of their departure as a thing almost indifferent. It was she who gave the tone to the conversation, and in their presence she appeared to consider it as a happy event; it was only, however, to console her father and brothers, and not to alarm them more than necessary. Although discontented with the conduct of her sisters towards her, who appeared even impatient to see her depart, and thought the month passed too slowly, she had the generosity to divide all her little property and the jewels which she had at her own disposal amongst them.

They received with pleasure this new proof of her generosity, but without abating their hatred of her. An extreme joy took possession of their hearts when they heard the horse neigh which was sent to carry away a sister whose amiability their jealous natures would not allow them to perceive. The father and the sons alone were so afflicted that they could not contain themselves at this fatal moment. They proposed to strangle the horse. Beauty, however, preserving all her tranquillity, showed them again on this occasion the absurdity of such a design, and the impossibility of executing it. After [Pg 241] having taken leave of her brothers, she embraced her hard-hearted sisters, taking such a tender farewell of them that she drew from them some tears, and they believed, for the space of a few minutes, that they were almost as much afflicted as their brothers.

During these brief, yet lingering leave-takings, the good man, hurried by his daughter, had mounted his horse. She placed herself behind him with as much alacrity as though she were going to make an agreeable journey. The animal rather flew than walked. But this extreme speed did not inconvenience her in the least; the paces of this singular horse were so gentle that Beauty felt no more shaken by him than she would have been by the breath of a zephyr.

In vain, during the journey, did her father offer a hundred times to allow her to dismount, and to go himself alone to find the Beast. "Consider, my dear child," said he; "there is still time. This Monster is more terrible than thou canst imagine. However firm thy resolution may be, I cannot but fear it will fail on beholding him; then it will be too late; thou wilt be lost, and we shall both perish together."

"If I went," replied Beauty, "to seek this terrible Beast with the hope of being happy, it is not impossible that that hope would fail me at the sight of him; but as I reckon on a speedy death, and believe it to be unavoidable, what does it signify whether he who shall destroy me be agreeable or hideous."

Conversing thus, night closed around them, but the horse went quite as fast in the darkness. It was, however, suddenly dissipated by a most unexpected spectacle. This was caused by the discharge of all kinds of beautiful fireworks—flowerpots, catherine-wheels, suns, bouquets,—which dazzled the eyes of our travellers. This agreeable and unlooked-for illumination lighted up the entire forest, and diffused a gentle heat through the air, which was become desirable, for the cold in this country was more keenly felt in the night than by day.

By this charming light the father and daughter found themselves in an avenue of orange-trees. At the moment that they entered it the fireworks ceased. The illumination was, however, continued by all the statues having in their hands lighted torches. Besides these, lamps without number covered the front of the palace, symmetrically arranged in forms of [Pg 242] true-lover's knots and crowned cyphers, consisting of double LL's and double BB's.[16] On entering the court they were received by a salute of artillery, which, added to the sound of a thousand instruments of various kinds, some soft, some warlike, had a fine effect.

"The Beast must be very hungry indeed," said Beauty, half-jestingly, "to make such grand rejoicings at the arrival of his prey." However, in spite of her agitation at the approach of an event which, according to all appearance, was about to be fatal to her, she could not avoid paying attention to the magnificent objects which succeeded each other, and presented to her view the most beautiful spectacle she had ever seen, nor help saying to her father that the preparations for her death were more brilliant than the bridal pomp of the greatest king in the world.

The horse stopped at the foot of the flight of steps. She alighted quickly, and her father, as soon as he had put foot to the ground, conducted her by a vestibule to the saloon in which he had been so well entertained. They found there a large fire, lighted candles which emitted an exquisite perfume, and, above all, a table splendidly served. The good man, accustomed to the manner in which the Beast regaled his guests, told his daughter that this repast was intended for them, and that they were at liberty to avail themselves of it. Beauty made no difficulty, well-persuaded that it would not hasten her death. On the contrary, she imagined that it would make known to the Beast the little repugnance she had felt in coming to see him. She hoped that her frankness might be capable of softening him, and even that her adventure might be less sad than she had at first apprehended. The formidable Monster with which she had been menaced did not show himself, and the whole palace spoke of joy and magnificence. It appeared that her arrival had caused these demonstrations, and it did not seem probable that they could have been designed for a funeral ceremony.

[Pg 243]

Her hope did not last long, however. The Monster made himself heard. A frightful noise, caused by the enormous weight of his body, by the terrible clank of his scales, and an awful roaring, announced his arrival. Terror took possession of Beauty. The old man, embracing his daughter, uttered piercing cries. But recovering herself in a moment, she suppressed her agitation. Seeing the Beast approach, whom she could not behold without a shudder, she advanced with a firm step, and with a modest air saluted him very respectfully. This behaviour pleased the Monster. After having contemplated her, he said to the old man, in a tone which, without being one of anger, might, however, fill with terror the boldest heart, "Good evening, my good friend;" and turning to Beauty, he said also to her, "Good evening, Beauty." The old man, fearing every instant that something awful would happen to his daughter, had not the strength to reply. But Beauty, without agitation and in a sweet and firm voice, said, "Good evening, Beast." "Do you come here voluntarily?" inquired the Beast; "and will you consent to let your father depart without following him?" Beauty replied that she had no other intention. "Ah! and what do you think will become of you after his departure?" "What it may please you," said she; "my life is at your disposal, and I submit blindly to the fate which you may doom me to."

"I am satisfied with your submission," replied the Beast; "and as it appears that they have not brought you here by force, you shall remain with me. As for thee, good man," said he to the merchant, "thou shalt depart to-morrow, at daybreak; the bell will warn you; delay not after thy breakfast; the same horse will reconduct thee. But," added he, "when thou shalt be in the midst of thy family, dream not of revisiting my palace, and remember it is forbidden thee for ever. You, Beauty," continued the Monster, addressing her, "conduct your father into the adjoining wardrobe, and choose anything which both of you think will give pleasure to your brothers and sisters. You will find two trunks; fill them. It is right that you should send them something of sufficient value to oblige them to remember you."

In spite of the liberality of the Monster, the approaching departure of her father sensibly affected Beauty, and caused her extreme grief; however, she determined to obey the Beast, who quitted them, after having said, as he had done on entering, "Good-night, Beauty; good-night, good man." When they were alone, the good man, embracing his daughter, wept without ceasing. The idea of leaving her with [Pg 244] the Monster was a most cruel trial to him. He repented having brought her into that place. The gates were open; he wished to lead her away again, but Beauty impressed upon him the danger and consequences of such a proceeding.

They entered the wardrobe which had been indicated to them; they were surprised at the treasures it contained. It was filled with apparel so superb that a Queen could not wish for anything more beautiful, or in better taste. Never was a warehouse better filled.

When Beauty had chosen the dresses she thought the most suitable, not to the present situation of the family, but proportioned to the riches and liberality of the Beast, who was the donor, she opened a press, the door of which was of rock crystal, mounted in gold. Although such a magnificent exterior prepared her to find it contain some rare and precious treasures, she saw such a mass of jewels of all kinds, that her eyes could hardly support the brilliancy of them. Beauty, from a feeling of obedience, took without hesitation, a prodigious quantity, which she divided as well as she could amongst the lots she had already made.

On opening the last cabinet, which was no less than a cabinet filled with pieces of gold, she changed her mind. "I think," said she to her father, "that it will be better to empty these trunks, and to fill them with coin, which you can give to your children according to your pleasure. By this means you will not be obliged to confide your secret to any one, and your riches will be possessed by you without danger. The advantage that you would derive from the possession of these jewels, although their value might be more considerable, would be attended by inconvenience. In order to profit by them you would be forced to sell them, and to trust them to persons who would only look on you with envious eyes. Your confidence in them might even prove fatal to you, whilst gold pieces of current coin will place you," continued she, "beyond the reach of any misfortune, by giving you the means of acquiring land and houses, and purchasing rich furniture, ornaments, and precious stones."

The father approved her forethought. But wishing to take for his daughters some dresses and ornaments, in order to make room for them as well as the gold, he took out of [Pg 245] the trunks what he had selected for his own use. The great quantity of coin which he put in did not fill them, however. They were composed of folds which stretched at pleasure. He found room for the jewels which he had displaced, and, in fact, these trunks contained more than he could even wish for. "So much money," said he to his daughter, "will place me in a position to sell my jewels at my own convenience. Following thy counsel, I will hide my wealth from the world, and even from my children. If they knew me to be as rich as I shall be, they would torment me to abandon my country life, which, however, is the sole one wherein I have found happiness, and not experienced the perfidy of false friends, with whom the world is filled." But the trunks were so immensely heavy, that an elephant would have sunk under their weight, and the hope which he had begun to cherish appeared to him a dream, and nothing more. "The Beast mocks us," said he, "and feigns to give me wealth, which he makes it impossible for me to carry away."

"Suspend your judgment," replied Beauty; "you have not provoked his liberality by any indiscreet request nor by any greedy or interested looks. Raillery would be without point. I think, as the Monster has bestowed it on you, that he will certainly find the means of allowing you to enjoy it. We have only to close the trunks, and leave them here. No doubt he knows by what coach to send them."

Nothing could be more prudent than this advice. The good man, conformably to it, re-entered the saloon with his daughter. Seated together on the sofa, they saw the breakfast instantly served. The father ate with more appetite than he had done the preceding night. That which had come to pass had diminished his despair and revived his confidence. He would have departed without concern if the Beast had not had the cruelty to make him understand that he must not dream of seeing his palace again, and that he must wish his daughter an eternal farewell. There is no evil but death without remedy. The good man was not completely stunned by this order. He flattered himself that it would not be irrevocable, and this hope prepared him to quit his host with tolerable satisfaction. Beauty was not so well satisfied. Little persuaded that a happy future was prepared for her, she feared that the rich presents with which the [Pg 246] Monster loaded her family was but the price of her life, and that he would devour her immediately that he should be alone with her, or at least that a perpetual prison would be her fate, and that her only companion would be this frightful Monster.

This reflection plunged her into a profound reverie, but a second stroke of the bell warned them that it was time to separate. They descended into the court, where the father found two horses, the one loaded with the two trunks, and the other destined for himself. The latter, covered with a good cloak, and the saddle having two bags attached to it full of refreshments, was the same which he had ridden before. So much attention on the part of the Beast again supplied them with subject of conversation; but the horses, neighing and stamping with their hoofs, made known to them that it was time to part.

The merchant, afraid of irritating the Beast by his delay, bade his daughter an eternal farewell. The two horses set off faster than the wind, and Beauty instantly lost sight of them. She mounted in tears to the chamber which was appropriated to her, where for some time she was lost in sad reflections.

At length, being overcome with sleep, she felt a wish to seek repose, which, during a month past, she had not enjoyed. Having nothing better to do, she was about to go to bed, when she perceived on the table a service of chocolate prepared. She took it, half asleep, and her eyes almost immediately closed. She fell into a quiet slumber, which since the moment she had received the fatal rose had been unknown to her.

During her sleep, she dreamt that she was on the bank of a canal, a long way off, the two sides of which were ornamented with two rows of orange trees and flowering myrtles of immense size, where, engrossed with her sad situation, she lamented the misfortune which condemned her to pass her days in this place without hope of ever leaving it.

A young man, beautiful as Cupid is painted, in a voice which touched her heart, then said—"Do not, Beauty, believe thou wilt be as unhappy as it now appears to thee. It is in this place that thou wilt receive the recompence which they have elsewhere unjustly denied thee. Let thy penetration [Pg 247] assist thee to extricate me from the appearance which disguises me. Judge in seeing me if my company is contemptible, and ought not to be preferred to a family unworthy of thee. Wish, and all thy desires shall be fulfilled. I love thee tenderly; thou alone canst bestow happiness on me by being happy thyself. Never deny me this. Excelling all other women as far in the qualities of thy mind as thou excellest them in beauty, we shall be perfectly happy together."

This charming apparition then kneeling at her feet, made her the most flattering promises in the most tender language. He pressed her in the warmest terms to consent to his happiness, and assured her that she should be entirely her own mistress.

"What can I do?" said she to him with eagerness.

"Follow the first impulse of gratitude," said he. "Judge not by thine eyes, and, above all, abandon me not, but release me from the terrible torment which I endure."

After this first dream, she fancied she was in a magnificent cabinet with a lady, whose majestic mien and surprising beauty created in her heart a feeling of profound respect. This lady said to her in an affectionate tone—"Charming Beauty, regret not that thou hast left; a more illustrious fate awaits thee; but if thou wouldst deserve it, beware of allowing thyself to be prejudiced by appearances." Her sleep lasted more than five hours, during which time she saw the young man in a hundred different places, and under a hundred different circumstances.

Sometimes he offered her a fine entertainment; sometimes he made the most tender protestations to her. How pleasant her sleep was! She would have wished to prolong it, but her eyes, open to the light, could not be induced to close again, and Beauty believed she had only had an agreeable dream.

A clock struck twelve, repeating twelve times her own name, which obliged her to rise. She then saw a toilet-table covered with everything necessary for a lady. After having dressed herself with a feeling of pleasure of which she did not imagine the cause, she passed into the saloon, where her dinner was served.

When one eats alone, a repast is very soon over. On returning to her chamber, she threw herself on the sofa; the [Pg 248] young man of whom she had dreamt again presented himself to her thoughts. "'I can make thy happiness,' were his words. Probably this horrible Beast, who appears to command all here, keeps him in prison. How can he be extricated? They repeated to me that I was not to be deceived by appearances. I understand nothing; but how foolish I am! I amuse myself by seeking for reasons to explain an illusion formed by sleep, and which my waking has destroyed. I ought not to pay attention to it. I must only occupy myself with my present fate, and seek such amusements as will prevent my being overcome by melancholy."

Shortly afterwards she began to wander through the numerous apartments of the palace. She was enchanted with them, having never seen anything so beautiful. The first that she entered was a large cabinet of mirrors. She saw herself reflected on all sides. At length a bracelet, suspended to a girandole, caught her sight. She found on it the portrait of the handsome Cavalier, just as she had seen him in her sleep. How was it she recognised him immediately? His features were already too deeply impressed on her mind, and, perhaps, in her heart. With joyful haste she placed the bracelet on her arm, without reflecting whether this action was correct. From this cabinet, having passed into a gallery full of pictures, she there found the same portrait the size of life, which appeared to regard her with such tender attention, that she coloured, as if this picture had been the person himself; or that she had had witnesses of her thoughts.

Continuing her walk, she found herself in a saloon filled with different kinds of instruments. Knowing how to play on almost all, she tried several, preferring the harpsichord to the others, because it was a better accompaniment for the voice. From this saloon, she entered another gallery, corresponding to that in which were the paintings. It contained an immense library. She liked reading, and since her sojourn in the country she had been deprived of this pleasure. Her father, by the confusion of his affairs, had found himself obliged to sell his books. Her great taste for study could easily be satisfied in this place, and would guarantee her against the dulness consequent on solitude. The day passed before she could see everything. At the approach of night, [Pg 249] all the apartments were illuminated by perfumed wax-lights, placed in lustres either transparent or of different colours, and not of crystal, but made of diamonds and rubies.

At the usual hour, Beauty found her supper served, with the same delicacy and neatness as before. No human figure presented itself to her view; her father had told her she would be alone. This solitude began no longer to trouble her, when the Beast made himself heard. Never having yet found herself alone with him, ignorant how this interview would pass off, fearing even that he only came to devour her, is it any wonder that she trembled? But on the arrival of the Beast, whose approach was by no means furious, her fears were dissipated. This monstrous giant said, roughly, "Good evening, Beauty." She returned his salutation in the same terms, with a calm air, but a little tremulously. Amongst the different questions which the monster put to her, he asked how she amused herself? Beauty replied, "I have passed the day in inspecting your palace, but it is so vast that I have not had time to see all the apartments, and the beauties which it contains." The Beast asked her, "Do you think you can get accustomed to living here?" The girl replied, politely, that she could live without trouble in so beautiful an abode. After an hour's conversation, Beauty discovered that the terrible tone of his voice was attributable only to the nature of the organ; and that the Beast was more inclined to stupidity than to ferocity. At length he asked her bluntly if she would marry him. At this unexpected demand, her fears were renewed, and uttering a terrible shriek, she could not help exclaiming, "O! Heavens, I am lost!"

"Not at all," replied the Beast, quietly; "but without frightening yourself, reply properly. Say precisely 'yes' or 'no.'" Beauty replied, trembling, "No, Beast." "Well, as you object, I will leave you," replied the docile Monster. "Good evening, Beauty." "Good evening, Beast," said the frightened girl, with much satisfaction. Extremely relieved by finding that she had no violence to fear, she lay quietly down and went to sleep. Immediately her dear unknown returned to her mind. He appeared to say to her, tenderly, "How overjoyed I am to see you once more, dear Beauty, but what pain has your severity caused me? I know that I [Pg 250] must expect to be unhappy for a long time." Her ideas again changed, the young man appeared to offer her a crown, and sleep presented him to her in a hundred different manners. Sometimes he seemed to be at her feet, sometimes abandoning himself to the most excessive delight, at others shedding a torrent of tears, which touched the depths of her soul. This mixture of joy and sadness lasted all the night. On waking, having her imagination full of this dear object, she sought for his portrait, to compare it once more with her recollections, and to see if she were not deceived. She ran to the picture gallery, where she recognised him still more perfectly. How long she was admiring him! but feeling ashamed of her weakness, she contented herself at length by looking at the miniature on her arm.

At length, to put an end to these tender reflections, she descended into the garden, the fine weather seeming to invite her to a stroll. Her eyes were enchanted; they had never seen anything in nature so beautiful. The groves were ornamented with admirable statues and numberless fountains, which cooled the air, and shot up to such a height that the eye could scarcely follow them.

What surprised her most was, that she recognised the places wherein she had dreamt she had seen the unknown. Especially at the sight of the grand canal, bordered with orange and myrtle trees, she could not but think of her vision, which appeared no longer a fiction. She thought to explain the mystery by imagining that the Beast kept some one shut up in his palace. She resolved to be enlightened on the subject that same evening, and to question the Monster, from whom she expected a visit at the usual hour. She walked for the rest of the day, as long as her strength permitted, without being able to see all.

The apartments which she had not been able to inspect the evening before, were no less worthy of her admiration than the others. Besides the instruments and curiosities with which she was surrounded, she found in another cabinet plenty to occupy her. It was filled with purses, and shuttles for knotting, scissors for cutting out, and fitted up for all sorts of ladies' work; in fact, everything was to be found there.

In this gallery care had been taken to place a cage filled with rare birds, all of which, on the arrival of Beauty, formed an [Pg 251] admirable concert. They came also and perched on her shoulders, and these loving little creatures vied with each other as to which should nestle closest to her. "Amiable prisoners," said she, "I think you charming, and I am vexed that you should be so far from my apartment, I should often like the pleasure of hearing you sing."

What was her surprise, when as she said these words, she opened a door and found herself in her own chamber, which she believed was very distant from this gallery, having only arrived in it after turning and threading a labyrinth of apartments which composed this pavilion. A panel which had concealed from her the neighbourhood of the birds, opened into the gallery, and was very convenient, as it completely shut out the noise of them when quiet was desirable.

Beauty, continuing her route, perceived another feathered group; these were parrots of all kinds and of all colours. All at her approach began to chatter. One said, "Good day" to her; the other asked her for some breakfast; one more gallant begged a kiss; several sang opera airs, others declaimed verses composed by the best authors; and all exerted themselves to entertain her. They were as gentle and as affectionate as the inhabitants of the aviary. Their presence was a real pleasure to her. She was delighted to find something she could talk with, for silence was not agreeable to her. She put several questions to some of them, who answered her like very intelligent creatures. She selected one from amongst them as the most amusing. The others, jealous of this preference, complained sadly. She consoled them by some caresses, and the permission to pay her a visit whenever they pleased. Not far from this spot she saw a numerous troop of monkeys of all sizes, great and small, sapajous,[17] some with human faces, others with beards, blue, green, black, and crimson. They advanced to meet her at the door of their apartment, which she had by chance arrived at. They made her low bows, accompanied by countless capers, and testified, by action, how highly sensible they were of the honour she had done them.

[Pg 252]

To celebrate her visit, they danced upon the tight-rope, and bounded about with a skill and an agility beyond example. Beauty was much pleased with the monkeys, but she was disappointed at not finding anything which could enlighten her respecting the handsome unknown. Losing all hope of doing so, and looking upon her dream as altogether an illusion, she did her best to drive the recollection of it from her mind; but her efforts were vain. She praised the monkeys, and, caressing them, said she should like some of them to follow her and keep her company. Instantly two tall young apes, in court dresses, who appeared to have been only waiting for her orders, advanced and placed themselves with great gravity beside her. Two sprightly little monkeys took up her train as her pages. A facetious baboon, dressed as a Spanish gentleman of the chamber, presented his paw to her, very neatly gloved, and accompanied by this singular cortège, Beauty proceeded to the supper table. During her meal the smaller birds whistled, in perfect tune, an accompaniment to the voices of the parrots, who sang the finest and most fashionable airs.

During the concert, the monkeys, who had taken upon themselves the right of attending upon Beauty, having in an instant settled their several ranks and duties, commenced their service, and waited on her in full state, with all the attention and respect that officers of a royal household are accustomed to pay to queens.

On rising from table, another troop proceeded to entertain her with a novel spectacle. They were a sort of company of actors, who played a tragedy in the most extraordinary fashion. These Signor Monkeys and Signora Apes, in stage dresses covered with embroidery, pearls, and diamonds, executed all the actions suitable to the words of their parts, which were spoken with great distinctness and proper emphasis by the parrots; so cleverly, indeed, that it was necessary to be assured that these birds were concealed in the wig of one actor or under the mantle of another, not to believe that these new-fashioned tragedians were speaking themselves. The drama appeared to have been written expressly for the actors, and Beauty was enchanted. At the end of the tragedy, one of the performers advanced and paid Beauty a very well-turned compliment, and thanked her for the indulgence with which she had listened to them. All then departed, except the [Pg 253] monkeys of her household, and those selected to keep her company.

After supper, the Beast paid her his usual visit, and after the same questions and the same answers, the conversation ended with a "Good night, Beauty." The Lady-Apes of the bed-chamber undressed their mistress, put her to bed, and took care to open the window of the aviary, that the birds, by a warbling much softer than their songs by day, might induce slumber, and afford her the pleasure of again beholding her lover. Several days passed without her experiencing any feeling of dulness. Every moment brought with it fresh pleasures. The monkeys, in three or four lessons, succeeded each one in teaching a parrot, who, acting as an interpreter, replied to Beauty's questions with as much promptitude and accuracy as the monkeys themselves had done by gestures. In fine, Beauty found nothing to complain of but the obligation of enduring every evening the presence of the Beast; but his visits were short, and it was undoubtedly to him that she was indebted for the enjoyment of all imaginable amusements.

The gentleness of the monster occasionally inspired Beauty with the idea of asking some explanation respecting the person she saw in her dreams; but sufficiently aware that he was in love with her, and fearing by such questioning to awaken his jealousy, she had the prudence to remain silent, and did not venture to satisfy her curiosity.

By degrees she had visited every apartment in this enchanted palace: but one willingly returns to the inspection of things which are rare, singular, and costly. Beauty turned her steps towards a great saloon, which she had only seen once before. This room had four windows in it on each side. Two only were open, and admitted a glimmering light. Beauty wished for more light, but in lieu of obtaining any by opening another window, she found it only looked into some enclosed space, which, although large, was obscure, and her eyes could distinguish nothing but a distant gleam, which appeared to reach them through the medium of a very thick crape. Whilst pondering for what purpose this place could have been designed, she was suddenly dazzled by a brilliant illumination. The curtain rose and discovered to Beauty a theatre, exceedingly well lighted. On the benches and in [Pg 254] the boxes she beheld all that was most handsome and well made of either sex.[18] A sweet symphony, which instantly commenced, terminated only to permit other actors than monkey and parrot performers to represent a very fine tragedy, which was followed by a little piece, quite equal in its own style to that which had preceded it. Beauty was fond of plays. It was the only pleasure she had regretted when she left the city. Desiring to ascertain what sort of material the hangings of the box next to her were made of, she found herself prevented doing so by a glass which separated them, and thereby discovered that what she had seen were not the actual objects, but a reflection of them by means of this crystal mirror, which thus conveyed to her sight all that was passing on the stage of the finest city in the world. It is a master-stroke in optics to be able to reflect from such a distance. She remained in her box some time after the play was over, in order to see the fine company go out. The darkness that gradually ensued compelled her to think of other matters. Satisfied with this discovery, of which she promised to avail herself often, she descended into the gardens. Prodigies were becoming familiar to her. She rejoiced to find they were all performed for her advantage and amusement.

After supper, the Beast came, as usual, to ask her what she had been doing during the day. Beauty gave him an exact account of all her amusements, and told him she had been to the play. "Do you like it?" inquired the dull creature. "Wish for whatever you please, you shall have it. You are very handsome." Beauty smiled to herself at the coarse manner in which he paid her compliments; but what she did not smile at was the usual question, and the words, "Will you marry me?" put an end to her good humour. She had only to answer "No;" but, nevertheless, his docility during this last interview did not re-assure her. Beauty was alarmed at it. "What is to be the end of all this?" she said to herself. "The question he puts to me every time, 'Will I marry him?' proves that he persists in loving me: his bounty to me confirms it. [Pg 255] But though he does not insist on my compliance, nor show any signs of resentment at my refusal, who will be answerable to me that he do not eventually lose his patience, and that my death will not be the consequence?" These reflections rendered her so thoughtful that it was almost daylight before she went to bed. The unknown, who but awaited that moment to appear, reproached her tenderly for her delay. He found her melancholy, lost in thought, and inquired what could have displeased her in such a place. She answered that nothing displeased her, except the Monster whom she saw every evening. She should have become accustomed to him, but he was in love with her, and this love made her apprehensive of some violence. "By the foolish compliments he pays me," said Beauty to her lover, "I find he desires to marry me. Would you advise me to consent? Alas! were he as charming as he is frightful, you have rendered my heart inaccessible to him and to all others; and I do not blush to own that I can love no one but you." So sweet a confession could but flatter the unknown, yet he replied to her only by saying, "Love him who loves you. Do not be misled by appearances, and release me from prison." These words, continually repeated without any explanation, caused Beauty infinite distress. "What would you that I should do?" said she to him. "I would restore you to liberty at any price; but my desire is vain while you abstain from furnishing me with the means to put it in practice." The unknown made her some answer, but of so confused a nature that she could not comprehend it. A thousand extravagant fancies passed before her eyes. She saw the Monster on a throne all blazing with jewels; he called to her and invited her to sit beside him. A moment afterwards, the unknown compelled him precipitately to descend, and seated himself in his place. The Beast regaining the advantage, the unknown disappeared in his turn. He spoke to her from behind a black veil, which changed his voice, and rendered it horrible.

All her sleep passed in this manner, and yet, notwithstanding the agitation it caused her, she felt it was too soon over, as her awakening deprived her of the sight of the object of her affections. After she had finished dressing, various sorts of work, books, and animals occupied her attention until the hour when the play began. She arrived just in time, but she was not [Pg 256] at the same theatre. It was the opera,[19] and the performance commenced as soon as she was seated. The spectacle was magnificent, and the spectators were not less so. The mirrors represented to her distinctly the most minute details of the dresses even of the people in the pit. Delighted to behold human forms and faces, many of which she recognised as those of persons she knew, it would have been a still greater pleasure to her could she have spoken to them, so that they could have heard her.

More gratified with this day's entertainment than with that of the preceding, the rest of it passed in the same way that each had done since she had been in that palace. The Beast came in the evening, and after his visit she retired, as usual. The night resembled former nights,—that is, it was passed in agreeable dreams. When she awoke, she found the same number of domestics to wait upon her; but after dinner her occupations were different. The day before, on opening another of the windows, she had found herself at the opera. To diversify her amusements, she now opened a third window, which displayed to her all the pleasures of the Fair of St. Germain,[20] much more brilliant then than it is at the present day. But as the hour had not quite arrived when the best company resorted to it, she had leisure to observe and examine everything. She saw the rarest curiosities, the most extraordinary productions of nature and works of art. The minutest trifles were visible to her. The puppet-show was not unworthy of her attention,[21] whilst waiting for more refined entertainments. The comic opera was in its splendour.[22] Beauty was very much delighted. At the termination of the performances, she saw all the well-dressed people visiting the tradesmen's shops. She recognised amongst the crowd several professional gamesters, who flocked to this place as their workshop.

[Pg 257]

She observed persons who, having lost their money by the cleverness of those they played with, went out with less joyous countenances than they exhibited as they entered. The prudent gamblers, who did not stake their whole fortunes on the hazard of a card, and who played to profit by their skill, could not conceal from Beauty their sleight of hand. She longed to warn the victims of the tricks they were plundered by; but at a distance from them of more than a thousand leagues it was not in her power to do so. She heard and saw everything distinctly, without its being possible for her to make herself heard or seen by others. The reflections and echoes which conveyed to her all these sights and sounds had no returning power. Placed above the air and wind, everything came to her like a thought. The consideration of this fact deterred her from making vain attempts.

It was past midnight before she thought it was time to retire. The need of some refreshment might have hinted to her the lateness of the hour; but she had found in her box liqueurs and baskets filled with everything requisite for a collation. Her supper was light and of short duration; she was in a hurry to go to bed. The Beast observed her impatience, and came merely to say good-night, that she might have more time to sleep and the Unknown liberty to reappear. The following days resembled each other. She found in her windows an inexhaustible source of fresh entertainments. The first of the other three afforded her the pleasure of witnessing Italian comedy;[23] the second, a sight of the Tuileries, the resort of all the most distinguished and handsome of both sexes. The last window was very far from being the least agreeable. It enabled her to see everything of consequence that was going on in the world. The scene was amusing and interesting in all sorts of ways. Sometimes it was the reception of a grand embassy, at others the marriage of some illustrious personages, and occasionally some exciting revolutions. She was at this window during the last revolt of the Janizaries, and witnessed the whole of it to the very end.

[Pg 258]

At all times she was certain to find something here to entertain her. The weariness she had felt at first in listening to the Beast had entirely departed. Her eyes had become accustomed to his ugliness. She was prepared for his foolish questions, and if their conversations had lasted longer, perchance she would have not been displeased; but four or five sentences, always the same, uttered in a coarse manner, and productive only of a "Yes" or "No," were not much to her taste.

As the slightest desires of Beauty appeared to be anticipated, she bestowed more care upon her toilet, although certain that no one could see her. But she owed this attention to herself, and it was a pleasure to her to dress herself in the habits of all the various nations on the face of the earth. She could do this the more easily, as her wardrobe furnished her with everything she chose, and presented her every day with some novelty. Contemplating her mirror in these various dresses, it revealed to her that she was to be admired in all lands; and her attendant animals, each according to their talent, repeated to her unceasingly the same fact—the monkeys by their actions, the parrots by their language, and the other birds by their songs.

So delightful a life ought to have perfectly contented her, but we weary of everything. The greatest happiness fades when it is continual, derived always from the same source, and we find ourselves exempted from fear and from hope. Beauty had experienced this. The remembrance of her family arose to trouble her in the midst of her prosperity. Her happiness could not be perfect as long as she was denied the pleasure of informing her relations of it.

As she had become more familiar with the Beast, either from the habit of seeing him or from the gentleness which she had discovered in his nature, she thought she might venture to ask him a question. She did not take this liberty, however, until she had obtained from him a promise that he [Pg 259] would not be angry. The question she put to him was, "Were they the only two persons in that castle?" "Yes, I protest to you," replied the Beast, in a rather excited tone; "and I assure you that you and I, the monkeys, and the other animals, are the only breathing creatures in this place." The Beast said no more, and departed more abruptly than usual.

Beauty had asked this question only with a view of ascertaining whether her lover was not confined in the palace. She would have wished to see and speak with him. It was a happiness she would have purchased at the price of her own liberty and of all the pleasures by which she was surrounded. That charming youth existing only in her imagination, she now looked upon this palace as a prison which would be one day her tomb.

These melancholy ideas crowded also upon her mind at night. She dreamed she was on the banks of a great canal; she was weeping, when her dear Unknown, alarmed at her sad state, said to her, pressing her hand tenderly between his own, "What is the matter, my beloved Beauty? Who can have offended you, and what can possibly have disturbed your tranquillity? By the love I bear you, I conjure you to explain the cause of your distress. Nothing shall be refused to you. You are sole sovereign here—everything is at your command. Whence arises the sorrow that overpowers you? Is it the sight of the Beast that afflicts you? You must be relieved from it!" At these words Beauty imagined she saw the Unknown draw a dagger, and prepare to plunge it in the throat of the Monster, who made no attempt to defend himself, but, on the contrary, offered his neck to the blow with a submission and a calmness which caused the beautiful dreamer to fear the Unknown would accomplish his purpose before she could endeavour to prevent him, notwithstanding she had instantly risen to protect the Beast. The instant she saw her efforts likely to be anticipated, she exclaimed, with all her might, "Hold, barbarian! Harm not my benefactor, or else kill me!" The Unknown, who continued striking at the Beast, notwithstanding the shrieks of Beauty, said to her, angrily, "You love me, then, no longer, since you take the part of this Monster, who is an obstacle to my happiness!" "You are ungrateful," she replied, still struggling with him; "I love [Pg 260] you more than my life, and I would lose it sooner than cease to love you. You are all the world to me, and I would not do you the injustice to compare you with any other treasure it possesses. I would, without a sigh, abandon all it could offer me, to follow you into the wildest desert. But this tender affection does not stifle my gratitude. I owe everything to the Beast. He anticipates all my wishes: it is to him I am indebted for the joy of knowing you, and I would die sooner than endure seeing you do him the slightest injury."

After several similar struggles the objects vanished, and Beauty fancied she saw the lady who had appeared to her some nights before, and who said to her, "Courage, Beauty; be a model of female generosity; show thyself to be as wise as thou art charming; do not hesitate to sacrifice thy inclination to thy duty. Thou takest the true path to happiness. Thou wilt be blest, provided thou art not misled by deceitful appearances."

When Beauty awoke she pondered on this mysterious vision, but it still remained an enigma to her. Her desire to see her father superseded, during the day, the anxiety caused by these dreams of the Monster and the Unknown. Thus, neither tranquil at night nor contented by day, although surrounded by the greatest luxuries, the only distraction she could find was in the theatre. She went to the Italians, but after the first scene she quitted that performance for the Opera, which she left almost as quickly. Her melancholy followed her everywhere. She frequently opened each of the six windows as many times without finding one minute's respite from her cares. Days and nights of equal and unceasing agitation began seriously to affect her appearance and her health.

She took great pains to conceal from the Beast the sorrow which preyed upon her; and the Monster, who had frequently surprised her with the tears in her eyes, upon hearing her say that she was only suffering from a headache, pressed his inquiries no further. One evening, however, her sobs having betrayed her, and feeling it impossible longer to dissimulate, she acknowledged to the Beast, who begged to know what had caused her afflictions, that she was yearning to see her family. At this declaration the Beast sank down without [Pg 261] power to sustain himself, and heaving a deep sigh, or rather uttering a howl that might have frightened any one to death, he replied, "How, Beauty! would you, then, abandon an unfortunate Beast? Could I have imagined you possessed so little gratitude? What have I left undone to make you happy? Should not the attentions I have paid you preserve me from your hatred? Unjust as you are, you prefer the house of your father and the jealousy of your sisters to my palace and my affections. You would rather tend the flocks with them than enjoy with me all the pleasures of existence. It is not love for your family, but antipathy to me, that makes you anxious to depart."

"No, Beast," replied Beauty, timidly and soothingly; "I do not hate you, and should regret to lose the hope of seeing you again; but I cannot overcome the desire I feel to embrace my relations. Permit me to go away for two months, and I promise you that I will return with pleasure to pass the rest of my days with you, and never ask you another favour."

While she spoke the Beast stretched on the ground, his head thrown back, only evinced that he still breathed by his sorrowful sighs. He answered her in these words: "I can refuse you nothing; but it will perhaps cost me my life. No matter. In the cabinet nearest to your apartment you will find four chests. Fill them with anything you like for yourself or for your family. If you break your word you will repent it, and regret the death of your poor Beast when it will be too late. Return at the end of two months, and you will still see me alive. For your journey back to me you will need no equipage. Merely take leave of your family the previous night before you retire to rest, and when you are in bed turn your ring, the stone inside your hand, and say, with a firm voice, 'I desire to return to my palace, and behold my Beast again.' Good-night; fear nothing; sleep in peace. You will see your father early to-morrow morning. Adieu, Beauty."

As soon as she was alone she hastened to fill the chests with all the treasures and beautiful things imaginable. They only appeared to be full when she was tired of putting things into them. After these preparations, she went to bed. The thoughts of seeing her family so soon kept her awake great part of the night, and sleep only stole upon her towards the [Pg 262] hour when she should have been stirring. She saw in her dreams her amiable Unknown, but not as formerly. Stretched upon a bed of turf, he appeared a prey to the keenest sorrow. Beauty, touched at seeing him in such a state, flattered herself she could alleviate his profound affliction by requesting to know the cause of it; but her lover, casting on her a look full of despair, said, "Can you ask me such a question, inhuman girl? Are you not aware that your departure dooms me to death?" "Abandon not yourself to sorrow, dear Unknown," replied she, "my absence will be brief. I wish but to undeceive my family respecting the cruel fate they imagine has befallen me. I return immediately afterwards to this palace. I shall leave you no more. Ah! could I abandon a residence in which I so delight! Besides, I have pledged my word to the Beast, that I will return. I cannot fail to keep it; and why must this journey separate us? Be my escort. I will defer my departure another day, in order to obtain the Beast's permission. I am sure he will not refuse me. Agree to my proposal, and we shall not part. We will return together; my family will be delighted to see you, and I will answer for their showing you all the attention you deserve." "I cannot accede to your wishes," replied the Unknown, "unless you determine never to return hither. It is the only means of enabling me to quit this spot. How will you decide? The inhabitants of this palace have no power to compel you to return. Nothing can happen to you beyond the knowledge that you have grieved the Beast." "You do not consider," rejoined Beauty, quickly, "that he assured me he should die if I broke my word to him." "What matters it to you?" retorted the lover; "is it to be counted a misfortune that your happiness should cost only the life of a monster? Of what use is he to the world? Will any one be a loser by the destruction of a being who appears upon earth only to be the horror of all nature?" "Ha!" exclaimed Beauty, almost angrily, "know that I would lay down my life to save his, and that this Monster, who is only one in form, has a heart so humane, that he should not be persecuted for a deformity which he refrains from rendering more hideous by his actions. I will not repay his kindness with such black ingratitude."

The Unknown, interrupting her, inquired what she would [Pg 263] do if the Monster endeavoured to kill him; and, if it were decreed that one of them must slay the other, to which would she afford assistance? "I love you only," she replied; "but extreme as is my affection for you, it cannot weaken my gratitude to the Beast, and if I found myself placed in so fatal a position, I would escape the misery which the result of such a combat would inflict on me, by dying by my own hand. But why indulge in such dreadful suppositions? However chimerical, the idea freezes my blood. Let us change the conversation."

She set him the example, by saying all that an affectionate girl could say, most flattering to her lover. She was not restrained by the rigid customs of society, and slumber left her free to act naturally. She acknowledged to him her love with a frankness which she would have shrunk from when in full possession of her reason. Her sleep was of long duration, and when she awoke she feared the Beast had failed in his promise to her. She was in this uncertainty when she heard the sound of a human voice which she recognised. Undrawing her curtains precipitately, what was her surprise when she found herself in a strange apartment, the furniture of which was not near so superb as that in the Palace of the Beast. This prodigy induced her to rise hastily, and open the door of her chamber. The next room was equally strange to her; but what astonished her still more, was to find in it the four chests she had filled the previous evening. The transport of herself and her treasures was a proof of the power and bounty of the Beast; but where was she? She could not imagine; when at length she heard the voice of her father, and rushing out, she flung her arms round his neck. Her appearance astounded her brothers and sisters. They stared at her as at one come from the other world. All her family embraced her with the greatest demonstrations of delight; but her sisters, in their hearts, were vexed at beholding her. Their jealousy was not extinguished. After many caresses on both sides, the good man desired to speak with her privately, to learn from her own lips all the circumstances of so extraordinary a journey, and to inform her of the state of his own fortune, of which he had set apart a large share for herself. He told her that on the evening of the same day that he had left the Palace of the Beast, he had reached his own house without [Pg 264] the least fatigue. That on the road he had cogitated how he could best manage to conceal his trunks from the sight of his children, and wished that they could be carried without their knowledge into a little cabinet adjoining his bed-chamber, of which he alone had the key: that he had looked upon this as an impossibility; but that, on dismounting at his door, he found the horse on which his trunks had been placed had run away, and therefore saw himself suddenly spared the trouble of hiding his treasures. "I assure thee," said the old man to his daughter, "that the loss of these riches did not distress me. I had not possessed them long enough to regret them greatly; but the adventure appeared to me a gloomy prognostic of my fate. I did not hesitate to believe that the perfidious Beast would act in the same manner by thee. I feared that the favours he conferred upon thee would not be more durable. This idea caused me great anxiety. To conceal it, I feigned to be in need of rest,—it was only to abandon myself without restraint to my grief. I looked upon thy destruction as certain, but my sorrow was soon dissipated. The sight of the trunks I thought I had lost renewed my hopes of thy happiness. I found them placed in my little cabinet, precisely where I had wished them to be. The keys of them, which I had forgotten and left behind me on the table in the saloon wherein we had passed the night, were in the locks. This circumstance, which afforded me a new proof of the kindness of the Beast, and his constant attention, overwhelmed me with joy. It was then that, no longer doubting the advantageous result of thy adventure, I reproached myself for entertaining such unjust suspicions of the honour of that generous Monster, and craved his pardon a hundred times for the abuse which, in my distress, I had mentally lavished upon him.

"Without informing my children of the extent of my wealth, I contented myself with distributing amongst them the presents thou hadst sent them, and showing them some jewels of moderate value. I afterwards pretended to have sold them, and have employed the money in various ways for the improvement of our income. I have bought this house; I have slaves, who relieve us from the labours to which necessity had subjected us. My children lead an easy life,—that is all I care for. Ostentation and luxury drew upon me, [Pg 265] in other days, the hatred of the envious; I should incur it again did I live in the style of a very wealthy man. Many offers have been made to thy sisters, Beauty; I am about to marry them off immediately, and thy fortunate arrival decides me. Having given to them such portions of the wealth thou hast brought to me, as thou shalt think fit, and relieved of all care for their establishment, we will live, my daughter, with thy brothers, whom thy presents were not able to console for thy loss; or, if thou prefer it, we two will live together independently of them."

Beauty, affected by the kindness of her father, and the assurance he gave her of the love of her brothers, thanked him tenderly for all his offers, and thought it would be wrong to conceal from him the fact that she had not come to stay with him. The good man, distressed to learn that he should not have the support of his child in his declining years, did not, however, attempt to dissuade her from the fulfilment of a duty which he acknowledged indispensable.

Beauty, in her turn, related to him all that had happened to her since they parted. She described to him the pleasant life she led. The good man, enraptured at the charming account of his daughter's adventures, heaped blessings on the head of the Beast. His delight was much greater still when Beauty, opening the chests, displayed to him the immense treasures they contained, and satisfied him that he was at liberty to dispose of those which he had brought himself, in favour of his daughters, as he would possess, in these last proofs of the Beast's generosity, ample means to live merrily with his sons. Discovering in this Monster too noble a mind to be lodged in so hideous a body, he deemed it his duty to advise his daughter to marry him, notwithstanding his ugliness. He employed even the strongest arguments to induce her to take that step.

"Thou shouldst not take counsel from thine eyes alone," said he to her. "Thou hast been unceasingly exhorted to let thyself be guided by gratitude. By following her inspirations thou art assured thou wilt be happy. It is true these warnings are only given thee in dreams; but these dreams are too significant and too frequent to be attributed to chance. They promise thee great advantages, enough to conquer thy repugnance. Therefore, the next time that the [Pg 266] Beast asks thee if thou wilt marry him, I advise thee not to refuse him. Thou hast admitted to me that he loves thee tenderly: take the proper means to make thy union with him indissoluble. It is much better to have an amiable husband than one whose only recommendation is a handsome person. How many girls are compelled to marry rich brutes, much more brutish than the Beast, who is only one in form, and not in his feelings or his actions."

Beauty admitted the reason of all these arguments; but to resolve to marry a monster so horrible in person and who seemed as stupid as he was gigantic, appeared to her an impossibility. "How can I determine," replied she to her father, "to take a husband with whom I can have no sympathy, and whose hideousness is not compensated for by the charms of his conversation? no other object to distract my attention, and relieve that wearisome companionship; not to have the pleasure of being sometimes absent from him; to hear nothing beyond five or six questions respecting my health or my appetite, followed by a 'Good-night, Beauty,' a chorus which my parrots know by heart, and repeat a hundred times a day. It is not in my power to endure such a union, and I would rather perish at once than be dying every day of fright, sorrow, disgust, and weariness. There is nothing to plead in his favour, except the consideration he evinces in paying me very short visits, and presenting himself before me but once in four-and-twenty hours. Is that enough to inspire one with affection?"

The father admitted that his daughter had reason on her side, but observing so much civility in the Beast, he could not believe him to be as stupid as she represented him. The order, the abundance, the good taste that was discernible through his palace, were not, according to his thinking, the work of a fool. In fact, he found him worthy of the consideration of his daughter, and Beauty might have felt more inclined to listen to the Monster, had not her nocturnal lover's appearance thrown an obstacle in the way. The comparison she drew between these two admirers could not be favourable to the Beast. The old man himself was fully aware of the great distinction which must be made between them. Notwithstanding, he tried by all manner of means to overcome [Pg 267] her repugnance. He recalled to her the advice of the lady who had warned her not to be prejudiced by appearances, and whose language seemed to imply that this youth would only make her miserable.

It is easier to reason with love than to conquer it. Beauty had not the power to yield to the reiterated requests of her father. He left her without having been able to persuade her. Night, already far advanced, invited her to repose, and the daughter, although delighted to see her father once more, was not sorry that he left her at liberty to retire to rest. She was glad to be alone. Her heavy eyelids inspired her with the hope that in slumber she would soon again behold her beloved Unknown. She was eager to enjoy this innocent pleasure. A quickened pulsation evinced the joy with which her gentle heart would greet that pleasant vision; but her excited imagination, while representing to her the scenes in which she had usually held sweet converse with that dear Unknown, had not sufficient power to conjure up his form to her as she so ardently desired.

She awoke several times, but on falling asleep again no cupids fluttered round her couch. In a word, instead of a night full of sweet thoughts and innocent pleasures, which she had counted on passing in the arms of sleep, it was to her one of interminable length and endless anxiety. She had never known any like it in the Palace of the Beast, and the day, which she at last saw break with a mingled feeling of satisfaction and impatience, came opportunely to relieve her from this weariness.

Her father, enriched by the liberality of the Beast, had quitted his country house, and in order to facilitate the establishment of his daughters, resided in a very large city, where his new fortune obtained for him new friends, or rather new acquaintances. Amidst the circle who visited him the tidings soon spread that his youngest daughter had returned. Everybody evinced an equal impatience to see her, and were each as much charmed with her intellect as with her beauty. The peaceful days she had passed in her desert palace, the innocent pleasures which a gentle slumber had invariably procured her, the thousand amusements which succeeded, so that dullness could never take possession of her spirit,—in [Pg 268] brief, all the attentions of the Monster had combined to render her still more beautiful and more charming than she was when her father first parted from her.

She was the admiration of all who saw her. The suitors to her sisters, without condescending to excuse their infidelity by the slightest pretext, fell in love with her, and attracted by the power of her charms, deserted, without a blush, their former mistresses. Insensible to the marked attentions of a crowd of adorers, she neglected nothing that could discourage them and induce them to return to the previous objects of their affection; but, notwithstanding all her care, she could not escape the jealousy of her sisters.

The inconstant lovers, far from concealing their new passion, invented every day some fresh entertainment, with the view of paying their court to her. They entreated her even to bestow the prize in the games which took place in her honour; but Beauty, who could not be blind to the mortification she was causing her sisters, and yet was unwilling to refuse utterly the favour they implored so ardently, and in so flattering a manner, found means to satisfy them all, by declaring that she would, alternately with her sisters, present the prize to the victor. What she selected was a flower, or some equally simple guerdon. She left to her elder sisters the honour of giving, in their turn, jewels, crowns of diamonds, costly weapons, or superb bracelets, presents which her liberal hand supplied them with, but for which she would not take the slightest credit. The treasures lavished on her by the Monster left her in want of nothing. She divided between her sisters everything she had brought that was most rare and elegant. Bestowing nothing but trifles herself, and leaving them the pleasure of giving largely, she counted on securing for them the love as well as the gratitude of the youthful combatants. But these lovers sought only to gain her heart, and the simplest gift from her hand was more precious to them than all the treasures that were prodigally heaped upon them by the others.

The amusements she partook of amongst her family, though vastly inferior to those she enjoyed in the Palace of the Beast, entertained her sufficiently to prevent the time hanging heavily on her hands. At the same time, neither the gratification of seeing her father, whom she tenderly loved, nor the pleasure [Pg 269] of being with her brothers, who in a hundred ways studied to prove to her the extent of their affection, nor the delight of conversing with her sisters, of whom she was very fond, though they were not so of her, could prevent her regretting her agreeable dreams. Her Unknown (greatly to her sorrow) came not, when she slumbered under her father's roof, to address her in the tenderest language; and the court paid to her by those who had been the admirers of her sisters, did not compensate for the loss of that pleasing illusion. Had she even been of a nature to feel flattered by such conquests, she would still have distinguished an immense difference between their attentions, or those of the Beast, and the devotion of her charming Unknown.

Their assiduities were received by her with the greatest indifference; but Beauty perceiving that, notwithstanding her coolness, they were obstinately bent on rivalling each other in the task of proving to her the intensity of their passion, thought it her duty to make them clearly understand they were losing their time. The first she endeavoured to undeceive was one who had courted her eldest sister. She told him that she had only returned for the purpose of being present at the marriage of her sisters, particularly that of her eldest sister, and that she was about to press her father to settle it immediately. Beauty found that she had to deal with a man who saw no longer any charms in her sister. He sighed alone for her, and coldness, disdain, the threat to depart before the expiration of the two months—nothing, in short, could discourage him. Much vexed at having failed in her object, she held a similar conversation with the others, whom she had the mortification to find equally infatuated.

To complete her distress, her unjust sisters, who looked upon her as a rival, conceived a hatred to her which they could not dissemble; and whilst Beauty was deploring the too great power of her charms, she had the misery of learning that her new adorers, believing each to be the cause of the other's rejection, were bent, in the maddest way, on fighting it out amongst themselves. All these annoyances induced her to determine upon returning sooner than she had contemplated.

Her father and brothers did all they could to detain her; but the slave of her word, and firm in resolution, neither the tears of the one nor the prayers of the others could prevail upon [Pg 270] her. All that they could extort from her was, that she would defer her departure as long as she could. The two months had nearly expired, and every morning she determined to bid adieu to her family, without having the heart when night arrived to say farewell. In the combat between her affection and her gratitude, she could not lean to the one without doing injustice to the other. In the midst of her embarrassment, it needed nothing less than a dream to decide her. She fancied she was at the Palace of the Beast, and walking in a retired avenue, terminated by a thicket full of brambles, concealing the entrance to a cavern, out of which issued horrible groans. She recognised the voice of the Beast, and ran to his assistance. The Monster, who, in her dream, appeared stretched upon the ground and dying, reproached her with being the cause of his death, and having repaid his affection with the blackest ingratitude. She then saw the lady who had before appeared to her in her sleep, and who said to her in a severe tone, that it would be her destruction if she hesitated any longer to fulfil her engagements; that she had given her word to the Beast that she would return in two months; that the time had expired; that the delay of another day would be fatal to the Beast; that the trouble she was creating in her father's house, and the hatred of her sisters, ought to increase her desire to return to the Palace of the Beast, where everything combined to delight her. Beauty, terrified by this dream, and fearing to be the cause of the death of the Beast, awoke with a start, and went immediately to inform her family that she could no longer delay her departure. This intelligence produced various effects. Her father's tears spoke for him; her brothers protested that they would not allow her to leave them; and her lovers, in despair, swore they would not suffer the house to be robbed of its brightest ornament. Her sisters alone, far from appearing distressed at her departure, were loud in praise of her sense of honour; and affecting to possess the same virtue themselves, had the audacity to assure her that if they had pledged their words to the Beast as she had done, they should not have suffered his ugliness to have interfered with their feelings of duty, and that they should have long ere that time been on their road back to the marvellous palace. It was thus they endeavoured to disguise the cruel jealousy that rankled in [Pg 271] their hearts. Beauty, however, charmed by their apparent generosity, thought only of convincing her brothers and her lovers of the obligation she was under to leave them; but her brothers loved her too much to consent to her going, and her lovers were too infatuated to listen to reason. All of them being ignorant of the mode in which Beauty had arrived at her father's house, and never doubting but that the horse which first conveyed her to the Palace of the Beast would be sent to take her back again, resolved amongst themselves to prevent it.

Her sisters, who only concealed their delight by the affectation of a sentiment of horror, as they perceived the hour approach for Beauty's departure, were frightened to death lest anything should occur to delay her; but Beauty, firm in her resolution, knowing whither duty called her, and having no more time to lose, if she would prolong the existence of the Beast, her benefactor, at nightfall took leave of her family, and of all those who were interested in her destiny.

She assured them that whatever steps they took to prevent her departure, she should, nevertheless, be in the Palace of the Beast the next morning before they were stirring; that all their schemes would be fruitless; and that she had determined to return to the Enchanted Palace. She did not forget, on going to bed, to turn her ring. She slept very soundly, and did not awake until the clock in her chamber, striking noon, chimed her name to music. By that sound she knew that her wishes were accomplished. As soon as she evinced a disposition to rise, her couch was surrounded by all the animals who had been so eager to serve her, and who unanimously testified their gratification at her return, and expressed the sorrow they had felt at her long absence.

The day seemed to her longer than any she had previously passed in that Palace, not so much from regret for those she had quitted as from her impatience again to behold the Beast, and to say everything she could to him in the way of excuse for her conduct. She was also animated by another desire,—that of again holding in slumber one of those sweet conversations with her dear Unknown, a pleasure she had been deprived of during the two months she had passed with her family, and which she could not enjoy anywhere but in that Palace. The Beast and the Unknown were, in short, alternately [Pg 272] the subjects of her reflections. One moment she reproached herself for not returning the affection of a lover who, under the form of a monster, displayed so noble a mind; the next she deplored having set her heart upon a visionary object, who had no existence except in her dreams. She began to doubt whether she ought to prefer the imaginary devotion of a phantom to the real affection of the Beast. The very dream in which the Unknown appeared to her was invariably accompanied by warnings not to trust to sight. She feared it was but an idle illusion, born of the vapours of the brain, and destroyed by light of day.

Thus undecided, loving the Unknown, yet not wishing to displease the Beast, and seeking repose from her thoughts in some entertainment, she went to the French Comedy[24], which she found exceedingly poor. Shutting the window abruptly, she hoped to be better pleased at the Opera. She thought the music miserable. The Italians were equally unable to amuse her. Their comedy appeared to her to want smartness, wit and action. Weariness and distaste accompanied her everywhere, and prevented her taking pleasure in anything.

The gardens had no attractions for her. Her Court endeavoured to entertain her, but the monkeys lost their labour in frisking, and the parrots and other birds in chattering and singing. She was impatient for the visit of the Beast, the noise of whose approach she expected to hear every instant. But the hour so much desired came without the appearance of the Monster. Alarmed, and almost angry at his delay, she tried in vain to account for his absence. Divided through hope and fear, her mind agitated, her heart a prey to melancholy, she descended into the gardens, determined not to re-enter the Palace till she had found the Beast. No trace of him could she discover anywhere. She called him. Echo alone answered her. Having passed more than three hours in this disagreeable exercise, overcome by fatigue, she sank upon a garden seat. She imagined the Beast was either dead or had abandoned the place.

Beauty and the Beast.—P. 273.

[Pg 273]

She saw herself alone in that Palace, without the hope of ever leaving it. She regretted her conversations with the Beast, unentertaining as they had been to her, and what appeared to her extraordinary, even to discover she had so much feeling for him. She blamed herself for not having married him, and considering she had been the cause of his death (for she feared her too long absence had occasioned it), heaped upon herself the keenest and most bitter reproaches. In the midst of her miserable reflections she perceived that she was seated in that very avenue in which, during the last night she had passed under her father's roof, she had dreamed she saw the Beast expiring in some strange cavern. Convinced that chance had not conducted her to this spot, she rose and hurried towards the thicket, which she found was not impenetrable. She discovered another hollow, which appeared to be that she had seen in her dream. As the moon gave but a feeble light, the monkey pages immediately appeared with a sufficient number of torches to illuminate the chasm, and to reveal to her the Beast stretched upon the earth, as she thought, asleep. Far from being alarmed at his sight, Beauty was delighted, and, approaching him boldly, placed her hand upon his head, and called to him several times; but finding him cold and motionless, she no longer doubted he was dead, and consequently gave utterance to the most mournful shrieks and the most affecting exclamations.

The assurance of his death, however, did not prevent her from making every effort to recall him to life. On placing her hand on his heart she felt, to her great joy, that it still beat. Without further delay, Beauty ran out of the cave to the basin of a fountain, where, taking up some water in her joined hands, she hastened back with it, and sprinkled it upon him; but as she could bring very little at a time, and spilt some of it before she could return to the Beast, her assistance had been but meagre if the monkey courtiers had not flown to the Palace, and returned with such speed that in a moment she was furnished with a vase for water, as well as with proper restoratives. She caused him to smell them and swallow them, and they produced so excellent an effect that he soon began to move and show some kind of consciousness. She cheered him with her voice and caressed him as he recovered. "What anxiety have you caused me?" said she to him, [Pg 274] kindly; "I knew not how much I loved you. The fear of losing you has proved to me that I was attached to you by stronger ties than those of gratitude. I vow to you that I had determined to die if I had failed in restoring you to life." At these tender words the Beast, feeling perfectly revived, replied, in a voice which was still feeble, "It is very kind of you, Beauty, to love so ugly a monster, but you do well. I love you better than my life. I thought you would never return: it would have killed me. Since you love me I will live. Retire to rest, and assure yourself that you will be as happy as your good heart renders you worthy to be."

Beauty had never before heard so long a speech from the Beast. It was not very eloquent, but it pleased, from its gentleness and the sincerity observable in it. She had expected to be scolded, or at least to have been reproached. She had from this moment a better opinion of his disposition. No longer thinking him so stupid, she even considered his short answers a proof of his prudence, and, more and more prepossessed in his favour, she retired to her apartment, her mind occupied with the most flattering ideas. Extremely fatigued, she found there all the refreshments she needed. Her heavy eyelids promised her a sweet slumber. Asleep almost as soon as her head was on her pillow, her dear Unknown failed not to present himself immediately. What tender words did he not utter to express the pleasure he experienced at seeing her again? He assured her that she would be happy; that it only remained to her to follow the impulse of her good heart. Beauty asked him if her happiness was to arise from her marriage with the Beast. The Unknown replied that it was the only means of securing it. She felt somewhat annoyed at this. She thought it even extraordinary that her lover should advise her to make her rival happy. After this first dream, she thought she saw the Beast dead at her feet. An instant afterwards the Unknown re-appeared, and disappeared again as instantly, to give place to the Beast. But what she observed most distinctly was the Lady, who seemed to say to her, "I am pleased with thee. Continue to follow the dictates of reason, and trouble thyself about naught. I undertake the task of rendering thee happy." Beauty, although asleep, appeared to acknowledge her partiality to the Unknown and her repugnance to the Monster, whom she [Pg 275] could not consider loveable. The Lady smiled at her objections, and advised her not to make herself uneasy about her affection for the Unknown, for that the emotions she felt were not incompatible with the resolution she had formed to do her duty; that she might follow her inclinations without resistance, and that her happiness would be perfected by espousing the Beast.

This dream, which only ended with her sleep, furnished her with an inexhaustible source of reflection. In this vision, as in those which had preceded it, she found more coherence than is usually displayed in dreams, and she therefore determined to consent to this strange union. But the image of the Unknown rose unceasingly to trouble her. It was the sole obstacle, but not a slight one. Still uncertain as to the course she ought to take, she went to the Opera, but without terminating her embarrassment. At the end of the performance she sat down to supper. The arrival of the Beast was alone capable of deciding her.

Far from reproaching her for her long absence, the Monster, as if the pleasure of seeing her had made him forget his past distresses, appeared, on entering Beauty's apartment, to have no other anxiety but that of ascertaining if she had been much amused, if she had been well received, and if her health had been good. She answered these questions, and added politely that she had paid dearly for all the pleasures his care had enabled her to enjoy, by the cruel pain she had endured on finding him in so sad a state on her return.

The Beast briefly thanked her, and then being about to take his leave, asked her, as usual, if she would marry him. Beauty was silent for a short time, but at last making up her mind, she said to him, trembling, "Yes, Beast, I am willing, if you will pledge me your faith, to give you mine." "I do," replied the Beast, "and I promise you never to have any wife but you." "Then," rejoined Beauty, "I accept you for my husband, and swear to be a fond and faithful wife to you."

She had scarcely uttered these words when a discharge of artillery was heard, and that she might not doubt it being a signal of rejoicing, she saw from her windows the sky all in a blaze with the light of twenty thousand fireworks, which continued rising for three hours. They formed true-lovers' knots, while on elegant escutcheons appeared Beauty's initials, and [Pg 276] beneath them, in well-defined letters, "Long live Beauty and her Husband." After this display had terminated, the Beast took his departure, and Beauty retired to rest. No sooner was she asleep than her dear Unknown paid her his usual visit. He was more richly attired than she had ever seen him. "How deeply am I obliged to you, charming Beauty," said he. "You have released me from the frightful prison in which I have groaned for so long a time. Your marriage with the Beast will restore a king to his subjects, a son to his mother, and life to a whole kingdom. We shall all be happy."

Beauty, at these words, felt bitterly annoyed, perceiving that the Unknown, far from evincing the despair such an engagement as she had entered into should have caused him, gazed on her with eyes sparkling with extreme delight. She was about to express her discontent to him, when the Lady, in her turn, appeared in her dream.

"Behold thee victorious," said she. "We owe everything to thee, Beauty. Thou hast suffered gratitude to triumph over every other feeling. None but thou would have had the courage to keep their word at the expense of their inclination, nor to have perilled their life to have saved that of their father. In return for this, there are none who can ever hope to enjoy such happiness as thy virtue has won for thee. Thou knowest at present little, but the rising sun shall tell thee more." When the Lady had disappeared, Beauty again saw the unknown youth, but stretched on the earth as dead. All the night passed in such dreams; but they had become familiar to her, and did not prevent her from sleeping long and soundly. It was broad daylight when she awoke. The sun streamed into her apartment with more brilliancy than usual: her monkeys had not closed the shutters. Believing the sight that met her eyes but a continuation of her dreams, and that she was sleeping still, her joy and surprise were extreme at discovering that it was a reality, and that on a couch beside her lay, in a profound slumber, her beloved Unknown, looking a thousand times more handsome than he had done in her vision. To assure herself of the fact, she arose hastily and took from off her toilet-table the miniature she usually wore on her arm; but she could not have been mistaken. She spoke to him, in the hope of awaking him from the trance into which he seemed to have been thrown by some wonderful power. Not stirring at her voice, she shook him by the arm. [Pg 277] This effort was equally ineffectual, and only served to convince her that he was under the influence of enchantment, and that she must await the end of the charm, which it was reasonable to suppose had an appointed period.

How delighted was she to find herself betrothed to him who alone had caused her to hesitate, and to find that she had done from duty that which she would have done from inclination. She no longer doubted the promise of happiness which had been made to her in her dreams. She now knew that the Lady had truly assured her that her love for the Unknown was not incompatible with the affection she entertained for the Beast, seeing that they were one and the same person. In the meanwhile, however, her husband never woke. After a slight meal she endeavoured to pass away the time in her usual occupations, but they appeared to her insipid. As she could not resolve to leave her apartments, nor bear to sit idle, she took up some music, and began to sing. Her birds hearing her, joined their voices to hers, and made a concert, the more charming to her as she expected every moment it would be interrupted by the awakening of her husband, for she flattered herself she could dissolve the spell by the harmony of her voice. The spell was soon broken, but not by the means she imagined. She heard the sound of a chariot rolling beneath the windows of her apartment, and the voices of several persons approaching. At the same moment the monkey Captain of the Guard, by the beak of his parrot Interpreter, announced the visit of some ladies. Beauty, from her windows, beheld the chariot that brought them. It was of an entirely novel description, and of matchless beauty. Four white stags, with horns and hoofs of gold, superbly caparisoned, drew this equipage, the singularity of which increased Beauty's desire to know who were the owners of it.

By the noise, which became louder, she was aware that the ladies had nearly reached the ante-chamber. She considered it right to advance and receive them. She recognised in one of them the Lady she had been accustomed to behold in her dreams. The other was not less beautiful. Her high and distinguished bearing sufficiently indicated that she was an illustrious personage. She was no longer in the bloom of youth, but her air was so majestic that Beauty was uncertain to which of the two strangers she ought first to address herself. She was still under this embarrassment, when the [Pg 278] one with whose features she was already familiar, and who appeared to exercise some sort of superiority over the other, turning to her companion, said, "Well, Queen, what think you of this beautiful girl? You owe to her the restoration of your son to life, for you must admit that the miserable circumstances under which he existed could not be called living. Without her, you would never again have beheld this Prince. He must have remained in the horrible shape to which he had been transformed, had he not found in the world one only person who possessed virtue and courage equal to her beauty. I think you will behold with pleasure the son she has restored to you become her husband. They love each other, and nothing is wanting to their perfect happiness but your consent. Will you refuse to bestow it on them?" The Queen, at these words, embracing Beauty affectionately, exclaimed, "Far from refusing my consent, their union will afford me the greatest felicity! Charming and virtuous child, to whom I am under so many obligations, tell me who you are, and the names of the sovereigns who are so happy as to have given birth to so perfect a Princess?"

"Madam," replied Beauty, modestly, "it is long since I had a mother; my father is a merchant more distinguished in the world for his probity and his misfortunes than for his birth." At this frank declaration, the astonished Queen recoiled a pace or two, and said, "What! you are only a merchant's daughter? Ah, great Fairy!" she added, casting a mortified look on her companion, and then remained silent; but her manner sufficiently expressed her thoughts, and her disappointment was legible in her eyes.

"It appears to me," said the Fairy, haughtily, "that you are discontented with my choice. You regard with contempt the condition of this young person, and yet she was the only being in the world who was capable of executing my project, and who could make your son happy." "I am very grateful to her for what she has done," replied the Queen; "but, powerful spirit," she continued, "I cannot refrain from pointing out to you the incongruous mixture of that noblest blood in all the world which runs in my son's veins with that of the obscure race from which the person has sprung to whom you would unite him. I confess I am little gratified by the supposed happiness of the Prince, if it must be purchased [Pg 279] by an alliance so degrading to us, and so unworthy of him. Is it impossible to find in the world a maiden whose birth is equal to her virtue? I know many excellent princesses by name; why am I not permitted to hope that I may see him the possessor of one of those?"

At this moment the handsome Unknown appeared. The arrival of his mother and the Fairy had aroused him, and the noise they had made was more effective than all the efforts of Beauty; such being the nature of the spell. The Queen held him a long time in her arms, without speaking a word. She found again a son whose fine qualities rendered him worthy of all her affection. What joy for the Prince to see himself released from a horrible form, and a stupidity more painful to him because it was affected and had not obscured his reason. He had recovered the liberty to appear in his natural form by means of the object of his love, and that reflection made it still more precious to him.

After the first transports which nature inspired him with at the sight of his mother, the Prince hastened to pay those thanks to the Fairy which duty and gratitude prompted. He did so in the most respectful terms, but as briefly as possible, in order to be at liberty to turn his attentions towards Beauty. He had already, by tender glances, expressed to her his feelings, and was about to confirm with his lips, in the most touching language, what his eyes had spoken, when the Fairy stopped him, and bade him be the judge between her and his mother. "Your mother," said she, "condemns the engagement you have entered into with Beauty. She considers that her birth is too much beneath yours. For my part, I think that her virtues make up for that inequality. It is for you, Prince, to say with which of us your own feelings coincide; and that you may be under no restraint in declaring to us your real sentiments, I announce to you that you have full liberty of choice. Although you have pledged your word to this amiable person, you are free to withdraw it. I will answer for her, that Beauty will release you from your promise without the least hesitation, although, through her kindness, you have regained your natural form; and I assure you also that her generosity will cause her to carry disinterestedness to the extent of leaving you at liberty to dispose of your hand in favour of any person on whom the Queen may advise [Pg 280] you to bestow it.—What say you, Beauty?" pursued the Fairy, turning towards her; "have I been mistaken in thus interpreting your sentiments? Would you desire a husband who would become so with regret?" "Assuredly not, Madam," replied Beauty. "The Prince is free. I renounce the honour of being his wife. When I accepted him, I believed I was taking pity on something below humanity. I engaged myself to him only with the object of conferring on him the most signal favour. Ambition had no place in my thoughts. Therefore, great Fairy, I implore you to exact no sacrifice from the Queen, whom I cannot blame for the scruples she entertains under such circumstances." "Well, Queen, what say you to that?" inquired the Fairy, in a disdainful and displeased tone. "Do you consider that princesses, who are so by the caprice of fortune, better deserve the high rank in which it has placed them than this young maiden? For my part, I think she should not be prejudiced by an origin from which she has elevated herself by her conduct." The Queen replied with some embarrassment, "Beauty is incomparable! Her merit is infinite; nothing can surpass it; but, madam, can we not find some other mode of rewarding her? Is it not to be effected without sacrificing to her the hand of my son?" Then turning to Beauty, she continued, "Yes, I owe you more than I can pay. I put, therefore, no limit to your desires. Ask boldly, I will grant you everything, with that sole exception; but the difference will not be great to you. Choose a husband from amongst the nobles of my Court. However high in rank, he will have cause to bless his good fortune, and for your sake I will place him so near the throne that your position will be scarcely less enviable."

"I thank you, Madam," replied Beauty; "but I ask no reward from you. I am more than repaid by the pleasure of having broken the spell which had deprived a great prince of his mother and of his kingdom. My happiness would have been perfect if I had rendered this service to my own sovereign. All I desire is that the Fairy will deign to restore me to my father."

The Prince, who, by order of the Fairy, had been silent throughout this conversation, was no longer master of himself, and his respect for the commands he had received, failed to restrain him. He flung himself at the feet of the Fairy and [Pg 281] of his mother, and implored them, in the strongest terms, not to make him more miserable than he had been, by sending away Beauty, and depriving him of the happiness of being her husband. At these words, Beauty, gazing on him with an air full of tenderness, but mingled with a noble pride, said, "Prince, I cannot conceal from you my affection. Your disenchantment is a proof of it, and I should in vain endeavour to disguise my feelings. I confess without a blush, that I love you better than myself. Why should I dissimulate? We may disavow evil impulses; but mine are perfectly innocent, and are authorised by the generous Fairy to whom we are both so much indebted. But if I could resolve to sacrifice my feelings when I thought it my duty to do so for the Beast, you must feel assured that I shall not falter on this occasion when it is no longer the interest of the Monster that is at stake, but your own. It is enough for me to know who you are, and that I am to renounce the glory of being your wife. I will even venture to say, that if, yielding to your entreaties, the Queen should grant the consent you ask, it would not alter the case, for in my own reason, and even in my love, you would meet with an insurmountable obstacle. I repeat that I ask no favour but that of being allowed to return to the bosom of my family, where I shall for ever cherish the remembrance of your bounty and your affection."

"Generous Fairy!" exclaimed the Prince, clasping her hands in supplication, "for mercy's sake, do not allow Beauty to depart! Make me, rather, again the Monster that I was, for then I shall be her husband. She pledged her word to the Beast, and I prefer that happiness to all those she has restored me to, if I must purchase them so dearly!"

The Fairy made no answer; she but looked steadily at the Queen, who was moved by so much true affection, but whose pride remained unshaken. The despair of her son affected her, yet she could not forget that Beauty was the daughter of a merchant, and nothing more. She, notwithstanding, feared the anger of the Fairy, whose manner and silence sufficiently evinced her indignation. Her confusion was extreme. Not having power to utter a word, she feared to see a fatal termination to a conference which had offended the protecting spirit. No one spoke for some minutes, but the Fairy at length broke the silence, and casting an affectionate look upon [Pg 282] the lovers, she said to them, "I find you worthy of each other. It would be a crime to part two such excellent persons. You shall not be separated, I promise you; and I have sufficient power to fulfil my promise." The Queen shuddered at these words, and would have made some remonstrance, but the Fairy anticipated her by saying, "For you, Queen, the little value you set upon virtue, unadorned by the vain titles which alone you respect, would justify me in heaping on you the bitterest reproaches. But I excuse your fault, arising from pride of birth, and I will take no other vengeance beyond doing this little violence to your prejudices, and for which you will not be long without thanking me." Beauty, at these words, embraced the knees of the Fairy, and exclaimed, "Ah, do not expose me to the misery of being told all my life that I am unworthy of the rank to which your bounty would elevate me. Reflect that this Prince, who now believes that his happiness consists in the possession of my hand may very shortly perhaps be of the same opinion as the Queen." "No, no, Beauty, fear nothing," rejoined the Fairy. "The evils you anticipate cannot come to pass. I know a sure way of protecting you from them, and should the Prince be capable of despising you after marriage, he must seek some other reason than the inequality of your condition. Your birth is not inferior to his own. Nay, the advantage is even considerably on your side, for the truth is," said she, sternly, to the Queen, "that you behold your niece; and what must render her still more worthy of your respect is, that she is mine also, being the daughter of my sister, who was not, like you, a slave to rank which is lustreless without virtue.

"That Fairy, knowing how to estimate true worth, did your brother, the King of the Happy Island, the honour to marry him. I preserved this fair fruit of their union from the fury of a Fairy who desired to be her step-mother. From the moment of her birth I destined her to be the wife of your son. I desired, by concealing from you the result of my good service, to give you an opportunity of showing your confidence in me. I had some reason to believe that it was greater than it appears to have been. You might have relied upon me for watching over the destiny of the Prince. I had given you proofs enough of the interest I took in it, and you [Pg 283] needed not to have been under any apprehension that I should expose him to anything that would be disgraceful to himself or to you. I feel persuaded, Madam," continued she, with a smile which had still something of bitterness in it, "that you will not object to honour us with your alliance."

The Queen, astonished and embarrassed, knew not what to answer. The only way to atone for her fault was to confess it frankly, and evince a sincere repentance. "I am guilty, generous Fairy," said she. "Your bounties should have satisfied me that you would not suffer my son to have formed an alliance unworthy of him. But pardon, I beseech you, the prejudices of my rank, which urged that royal blood could not marry one of humbler birth without degradation. I acknowledge that I deserve you should punish me by giving to Beauty a mother-in-law more worthy of her; but you take too kind an interest in my son to render him the victim of my error. As to you, dear Beauty," she continued, embracing her tenderly, "you must not resent my resistance. It was caused by my desire to marry my son to my niece, whom the Fairy had often assured me was living, notwithstanding all appearances to the contrary. She had drawn so charming a portrait of her, that without knowing you, I loved you dearly enough to risk offending the Fairy, in order to preserve to you the throne and the heart of my son." So saying, she recommenced her caresses, which Beauty received with respect.

The Prince, on his part, enraptured at this agreeable intelligence, expressed his delight in looks alone.

"Behold us all satisfied," said the Fairy; "and now, to terminate this happy adventure, we only need the consent of the royal father of the Princess; but we shall shortly see him here." Beauty requested her to permit the person who had brought her up, and whom she had hitherto looked upon as her father, to witness her felicity. "I admire such consideration," said the Fairy; "it is worthy a noble mind, and as you desire it, I undertake to inform him." Then taking the Queen by the hand, she led her away, under the pretext of showing her over the enchanted Palace. It was to give the newly-betrothed pair the liberty of conversing with each other for the first time without restraint or the aid of illusion. They would have followed, but she forbade them. The [Pg 284] happiness in store for them inspired each with equal delight. They could not entertain the least doubt of their mutual affection.

Their conversation, confused and unconnected, their protestations a hundred times repeated, were to them more convincing proofs of love than the most eloquent language could have afforded. After having exhausted all the expressions that passion suggests under such circumstances to those that are truly in love, Beauty inquired of her lover by what misfortune he had been so cruelly transformed into a beast. She requested him also to relate to her all the events of his life preceding that shocking metamorphosis.

The Prince, whose recovery of his natural form had not lessened his anxiety to obey her, without more ado commenced his narrative in the following words:—

THE STORY OF THE BEAST.

The King, my father, died before I was born. The Queen would never have been consoled for his loss if her interest for the child she bore had not struggled with her sorrow. My birth caused her extreme delight. The sweet task of rearing the fruit of the affection of so dearly-beloved a husband was destined to dissipate her affliction. The care of my education and the fear of losing me occupied her entirely. She was assisted in her object by a Fairy of her acquaintance, who showed the greatest anxiety to preserve me from all kinds of accidents. The Queen felt greatly obliged to her, but she was not pleased when the Fairy asked her to place me entirely in her hands. The Fairy had not the best of reputations—she was said to be capricious in her favours. People feared more than they loved her; and even had my mother been perfectly convinced of the goodness of her nature, she could not have resolved to lose sight of me.

By the advice, however, of prudent persons, and for fear of suffering from the fatal effects of the resentment of this vindictive Fairy, she did not flatly refuse her. If voluntarily confided to her care there was no reason to suppose she would do me any injury. Experience had proved that she took pleasure in hurting those only by whom she considered [Pg 285] herself offended. The Queen admitted this, and was only reluctant to forego the pleasure of gazing on me continually with a mother's eyes, which enabled her to discover charms in me I owed solely to her partiality.

She was still irresolute as to the course she should adopt, when a powerful neighbour imagined it would be an easy matter for him to seize upon the dominions of an infant governed by a woman. He invaded my kingdom with a formidable army. The Queen hastily raised one to oppose him, and, with a courage beyond that of her sex, placed herself at the head of her troops, and marched to defend our frontiers. It was then that, being compelled to leave me, she could not avoid confiding to the Fairy the care of my education. I was placed in her hands after she had sworn by all she held most sacred that she would, without the least hesitation, bring me back to the Court as soon as the war was over, which my mother calculated would not last more than a year at the utmost. Notwithstanding, however, all the advantages she gained over the enemy, she found it impossible to return to the capital so soon as she expected. To profit by her victory, after having driven the foe out of our dominions, she pursued him in his own.

She took entire provinces, gained battle after battle, and finally reduced the vanquished to sue for a degrading peace, which he obtained only on the hardest conditions. After this glorious success, the Queen returned triumphantly, and enjoyed in anticipation the pleasure of beholding me once more; but having learned upon her march that her base foe, in violation of the treaty, had surprised and massacred our garrisons, and repossessed himself of nearly all the places he had been compelled to cede to us, she was obliged to retrace her steps. Honour prevailed over the affection which drew her towards me, and she resolved never to sheathe the sword till she had put it out of her enemy's power to perpetrate more treachery. The time employed in this second expedition was very considerable. She had flattered herself that two or three campaigns would suffice; but she had to contend with an adversary as cunning as he was false. He contrived to excite rebellion in some of our own provinces, and to corrupt entire battalions, which forced the Queen to remain in arms for fifteen years. She never thought of sending for me. She was [Pg 286] always flattering herself that each month would be the last she should be absent, and that she was on the point of seeing me again.

In the meanwhile, the Fairy, in accordance with her promise, had paid every attention to my education. From the day she had taken me out of my kingdom, she had never left me, nor ceased to give me proof of the interest she felt in all that concerned my health and amusement. I evinced by my respect for her how sensible I was of her kindness. I showed her the same deference, the same attention that I should have shown to my mother, and gratitude inspired me with as much affection for her.

For some time she appeared satisfied with my behaviour; but one day, without imparting to me the motive, she set out on a journey, from which she did not return for some years, and when she did return, struck with the effect of her care of me, she conceived for me an affection differing from that of a mother. She had previously permitted me to call her by that name, but now she forbade me. I obeyed her without inquiring what were her reasons, or suspecting what she was about to exact from me.

I saw clearly that she was dissatisfied; but could I imagine why she continually complained of my ingratitude? I was the more surprised at her reproaches as I did not feel I deserved them. They were always followed or preceded by the tenderest caresses. I was not old enough to comprehend her. She was compelled to explain herself. She did so one day when I evinced some sorrow, mingled with impatience, respecting the continued absence of the Queen. She reproached me for this, and on my assuring her that my affection for my mother in nowise interfered with that I owed to herself, she replied that she was not jealous, although she had done so much for me, and had resolved to do still more; but that, to enable her to carry out her designs in my favour with greater freedom, it was requisite, she added, that I should marry her; that she did not desire to be loved by me as a mother, but as an admirer; that she had no doubt of my gratitude to her for making this proposal, or of the great joy with which I should accept it, and that, consequently, I had only to abandon myself to the delight with which the certainty of becoming the husband of a powerful fairy, who could protect me from all [Pg 287] dangers, assure me an existence full of happiness, and cover me with glory, must naturally awaken.

I was sadly embarrassed by this proposition. I knew enough of the world in my own country, to be aware that amongst the wedded portion of the community the happiest were those whose ages and characters assimilated, and that many were much to be pitied who, marrying under opposite circumstances, had found antipathies existing between them which were the source of constant misery.

The Fairy being old and of a haughty disposition, I could not flatter myself that my lot would be so agreeable as she predicted. I was far from entertaining for her such feelings as one should for the woman with whom we intend to pass our days; and besides, I was not inclined to enter into any such engagement at so early an age. My only desire was to see the Queen again, and to signalize myself at the head of her forces. I sighed for liberty; that was the sole boon that would have gratified me, and the only one the Fairy would not grant.

I had often implored her to allow me to share the perils to which I knew the Queen exposed herself for the protection of my interests, but my prayers had hitherto been fruitless. Pressed to reply to the astounding declaration she had made to me, I, in some confusion, recalled to her that she had often told me that I had no right to dispose of my hand without the commands of my mother, and in her absence. "That is exactly my opinion," she replied; "I do not wish you to do otherwise; I am satisfied that you should refer the matter to the Queen."

I have already informed you, beautiful Princess, that I had been unable to obtain from the Fairy permission to seek the Queen, my mother. The desire she now had to receive her sanction, which she never doubted she should obtain, obliged her to grant, even without my asking, that which she had always denied me; but it was on the condition, by no means agreeable to me, that she should accompany me. I did what I could to dissuade her, but found it impossible, and we set out together with a numerous escort. We arrived upon the eve of a decisive action. The Queen had manœuvred with such skill that the next day was certain to decide the fate of the enemy, who would have no resource if he lost the battle. [Pg 288] My presence created great pleasure in the camp, and gave additional courage to our troops, who drew a favourable augury from my arrival. The Queen was ready to die with joy; but this first transport of delight was succeeded by the greatest alarm. Whilst I exulted in the hope of acquiring glory, the Queen trembled at the danger to which I was about to expose myself. Too generous to endeavour to prevent me, she implored me by all her affection, to take as much care of myself as honour would permit, and entreated the Fairy not to abandon me on that occasion. Her solicitations were unnecessary. The too susceptible Fairy was as much alarmed as the Queen, for she possessed no spell which could protect me from the chances of war. However, by instantly inspiring me with the art of commanding an army, and the prudence requisite for so important an office, she achieved much. The most experienced captains were surprised at me. I remained master of the field. The victory was complete. I had the happiness of saving the Queen's life, and of preventing her from being made prisoner of war. The enemy was pursued with such vigour that he abandoned his camp, lost his baggage, and more than three-fourths of his army, while the loss on our side was inconsiderable. A slight wound which I had received was the only advantage the foe could boast of; but the Queen, fearing that if the war continued some more serious mischief might befal me, in opposition to the desire of the whole army, to which my presence had imparted fresh spirit, made peace on more advantageous terms than the vanquished had ventured to hope for.

A short time afterwards we returned to our capital, which we entered in triumph. My occupation during the war, and the continual presence of my ancient adorer, had prevented me from informing the Queen of what had occurred. She was, therefore, completely taken by surprise when the Fairy told her, in so many words, that she had determined to marry me immediately. This declaration was made in this very Palace, but which was at that time not so superb as it is at present. It had been a country residence of the late King, which a thousand occupations had prevented his embellishing. My mother, who cherished everything that he had loved, had selected it in preference to any other as a place of retirement after the fatigues of the war. At the avowal of the Fairy, [Pg 289] unable to control her first feelings, and unused to dissemble, she exclaimed, "Have you reflected, Madam, on the absurdity of the arrangement you propose to me!" In truth it was impossible to conceive one more ridiculous. In addition to the almost decrepit old age of the Fairy, she was horribly ugly. Nor was this the effect of time. If she had been handsome in her youth, she might have preserved some portion of her beauty by the aid of her art; but naturally hideous, her power could only invest her with the appearance of beauty for one day in each year, and that day ended, she returned to her former state.

The Fairy was surprised at the exclamation of the Queen. Her self-love concealed from her all that was actually horrible in her person, and she calculated that her power sufficiently compensated for the loss of a few charms of her youth. "What do you mean," said she to the Queen, "by an absurd arrangement! Consider, that it is imprudent in you to make me remember what I have condescended to forget. You ought only to congratulate yourself on possessing a son so amiable that his merit induces me to prefer him to the most powerful Genii in all the elements; and as I have deigned to descend to him, accept with respect the honour I am good enough to confer on you, and do not give me time to change my mind."

The Queen, as proud as the Fairy, had never conceived that there was a rank on earth higher than the throne. She valued little the pretended honour which the Fairy offered her. Having always commanded every one who approached her, she by no means desired to have a daughter-in-law to whom she must herself pay homage. Therefore, far from replying to her, she remained motionless, and contented herself with fixing her eyes upon me. I was as much astounded as she was, and fixing my eyes on her in the same manner, it was easy for the Fairy to perceive that our silence expressed sentiments very opposite to the joy with which she would have inspired us.

"What is the meaning of this?" said she, sharply. "How comes it that mother and son are both silent? Has this agreeable surprise deprived you of the power of speech? or are you blind and rash enough to reject my offer? Say, Prince," said she to me, "are you so ungrateful and so imprudent [Pg 290] as to despise my kindness? Do you not consent to give me your hand this moment?"

"No, Madam, I assure you," replied I, quickly. "Although I am sincerely grateful to you for past favours, I cannot agree to discharge my debt to you by such means; and, with the Queen's permission, I decline to part so soon with my liberty. Name any other mode of acknowledging your favours, and I will not consider it impossible; but as to that you have proposed, excuse me if you please, for——" "How! insignificant creature!" interrupted the Fairy, furiously. "Thou darest to resist me! And you, foolish Queen! you see, without anger, this conduct—What do I say? without anger! It is you who authorize it! For it is your own insolent looks that have inspired him with the audacity to refuse me!"

The Queen, already stung by the contemptuous language of the Fairy, was no longer mistress of herself, and accidentally casting her eyes on a looking-glass, before which we happened to be standing at the moment, the wicked Fairy thus provoked her: "What answer can I make you," said she, "that you ought not to make to yourself? Deign to contemplate, without prejudice, the object this glass presents to you, and let it reply for me." The Fairy easily comprehended the Queen's insinuation. "It is the beauty, then, of this precious son of yours that renders you so vain," said she to her, "and has exposed me to so degrading a refusal! I appear to you unworthy of him. Well," she continued, raising her voice furiously, "having taken so much pains to make him charming, it is fit that I should complete my work, and that I should give you both a cause, as novel as remarkable, to make you remember what you owe to me. Go, wretch!" said she to me; "boast that thou hast refused me thy heart and thy hand. Give them to her thou findest more worthy of them than I am." So saying, my terrible lover struck me a blow on the head. It was so heavy that I was dashed to the ground on my face, and felt as though I were crushed by the fall of a mountain. Irritated by this insult, I struggled to rise, but found it impossible. The weight of my body had become so great that I could not lift myself; all that I could do was to sustain myself on my hands, which had in an instant become two horrible paws, and the sight of them apprised me of the change I had [Pg 291] undergone. My form was that in which you found me. I cast my eyes for an instant on that fatal glass, and could no longer doubt my cruel and sudden transformation.

My despair rendered me motionless. The Queen at this dreadful sight was almost out of her mind. To put the last seal upon her barbarity, the furious Fairy said to me, in an ironical tone, "Go make illustrious conquests, more worthy of thee than an august Fairy. And as sense is not required when one is so handsome, I command thee to appear as stupid as thou art horrible, and to remain in this state until a young and beautiful girl shall, of her own accord, come to seek thee, although fully persuaded thou wilt devour her. She must also," continued the Fairy, "after discovering that her life is not in danger, conceive for thee a sufficiently tender affection to induce her to marry thee. Until thou canst meet with this rare maiden it is my pleasure that thou remain an object of horror to thyself and to all who behold thee. As for you, too happy mother of so lovely a child," said she to the Queen, "I warn you that if you acknowledge to any one that this monster is your son, he shall never recover his natural shape. Neither interest, nor ambition, nor the charms of his conversation, must assist to restore him to it. Adieu! Do not be impatient; you will not have long to wait. Such a darling will soon find a remedy for his misfortune." "Ah, cruel one!" exclaimed the Queen, "if my refusal has offended you, let your vengeance light on me. Take my life, but do not, I conjure you, destroy your own work." "You forget yourself, great Princess," replied the Fairy, in an ironical tone, "you demean yourself too much. I am not handsome enough for you to condescend to entreat me; but I am firm in my resolutions. Adieu, powerful Queen; adieu, beautiful Prince; it is not fair that I should longer annoy you with my hateful presence. I withdraw; but I have still charity enough to warn thee," addressing herself to me, "that thou must forget who thou art. If thou sufferest thyself to be flattered by vain respects or by pompous titles, thou art lost irretrievably! And thou art equally lost if thou shouldst dare to avail thyself of the intellect I leave thee possessed of, to shine in conversation."

With these words she disappeared, and left the Queen and me in a state which can neither be described nor imagined. [Pg 292] Lamentations are the consolation of the unhappy; but our misery was too great to seek relief in them. My mother determined to stab herself, and I to fling myself in the adjacent canal. Without communicating our intentions to each other, we were on the point of executing these fatal designs, when a female of majestic mien, and whose manner inspired us with profound respect, appeared, and bade us remember that it was cowardice to succumb to the greatest misfortunes, and that with time and courage there was no evil that could not be remedied. The Queen, however, was inconsolable; tears streamed from her eyes, and not knowing how to inform her subjects that their sovereign was transformed into a horrible monster, she abandoned herself to the most fearful despair. The Fairy (for she was one, and the same whom you have seen here), knowing both her misery and her embarrassment, recalled to her the indispensable obligation she was under to conceal from her people this dreadful adventure, and that in lieu of yielding to despair, it would be better to seek some remedy for the mischief.

"Is there one to be found," exclaimed the Queen, "which is powerful enough to prevent the fulfilment of a Fairy's sentence?" "Yes, Madam," replied the Fairy, "there is a remedy for everything. I am a Fairy as well as she whose fury you have just felt the effects of, and my power is equal to hers. It is true that I cannot immediately repair the injury she has done you, for we are not permitted to act directly in opposition to each other. She who has caused your misfortune is older than I am, and age has amongst us a particular title to respect. But as she could not avoid attaching a condition upon which the spell might be broken, I will assist you to break it. I grant that it will be a difficult task to terminate this enchantment; but it does not appear to me to be impossible. Let me see what I can do for you by the exertion of all the means in my power."

Upon this she drew a book from under her robe, and after taking a few mysterious steps, she seated herself at a table, and read for a considerable time with such intense application that large drops of perspiration stood on her forehead. At length she closed the book and meditated profoundly. The expression of her countenance was so serious that for some time we were led to believe that she considered my misfortune [Pg 293] irreparable; but recovering from a sort of trance, and her features resuming their natural beauty, she informed us that she had discovered a remedy for our disasters. "It will be slow," said she, "but it will be sure. Keep your secret; let it not transpire, so that any one can suspect you are concealed beneath this horrible disguise, for in that case you will deprive me of the power of delivering you from it. Your enemy flatters herself you will divulge it; it is for that reason she did not take from you the power of speech."

The Queen declared that the condition was an impossible one, as two of her women had been present at the fatal transformation, and had rushed out of the apartment in great terror, which must have excited the curiosity of the guards and the courtiers. She imagined that the whole Court was by this time aware of it, and that all the kingdom, and even all the world, would speedily receive the intelligence; but the Fairy knew a way to prevent the disclosure of the secret. She made several circles, now solemnly, now rapidly, uttering words of which we could not comprehend the meaning, and finished by raising her hand in the air in the style of one who is pronouncing an imperative order. This gesture, added to the words she had uttered, was so powerful, that every breathing creature in the Palace became motionless, and was changed into a statue. They are all still in the same state. They are the figures you behold in various directions and in the very attitudes they had assumed at the instant the Fairy's potent spell surprised them. The Queen, who at that moment cast her eyes upon the great court-yard, observed this change taking place in a prodigious number of persons. The silence which suddenly succeeded to the stir of a multitude, awoke a feeling of compassion in her heart for the many innocent beings who were deprived of life for my sake; but the Fairy comforted her by saying that she would only retain her subjects in that condition as long as their discretion was necessary. It was a precaution she was compelled to take, but she promised she would make up to them for it, and that the period they passed in that state would not be added to the years allotted to their existence. "They will be so much the younger," said the Fairy to the Queen; "so cease to deplore them, and leave them here with your son. He will be quite safe, for I have raised such thick fogs around this [Pg 294] Castle, that it will be impossible for any one to enter it but when we think fit. I will convey you," she continued, "where your presence is necessary. Your enemies are plotting against you. Be careful to proclaim to your people that the Fairy who educated your son retains him near her for an important purpose, and keeps with her also all the persons who were in attendance on you."

It was not without shedding a flood of tears that my mother could force herself to leave me. The Fairy renewed her assurances to her that she would always watch over me, and protested that I had only to wish, and to see the accomplishment of my desires. She added that my misfortunes would shortly end, provided neither the Queen nor I raised up an obstacle by some act of imprudence. All these promises could not console my mother. She wished to remain with me, and to leave the Fairy, or any one she might consider the most proper person, to govern the kingdom; but fairies are imperious, and will be obeyed. My mother, fearing by a refusal to increase my miseries and deprive me of the aid of this beneficent spirit, consented to all she insisted on. She saw a beautiful car approach; it was drawn by the same white stags that brought her here to day. The Fairy made the Queen mount by her side. She had scarcely time to embrace me, her affairs demanded her presence elsewhere, and she was warned that a longer sojourn in this place would be prejudicial to me. She was transported with extraordinary velocity to the spot where her army was encamped. They were not surprised to see her arrive with this equipage. Everybody believed her to be accompanied by the old Fairy, for the one who was with her kept herself unseen, and departed again immediately to return to this place, which, in an instant, she embellished with everything that her imagination could suggest and her art supply.

This good-natured Fairy permitted me also to add whatever I fancied would please me, and after having done for me all she could, she left me with exhortations to take courage, and promising to come occasionally and impart to me such hopes as she might entertain of a favourable issue to my adventure.

I seemed to be alone in the Palace. I was only so to sight. I was served as if I were in the midst of my courtiers, [Pg 295] and my occupations were nearly the same as those which were afterwards yours. I read, I went to the play, I cultivated a garden which I had made to amuse me, and found something agreeable in everything I undertook. What I planted arrived at perfection in the same day. It took no more time to produce the bower of roses to which I am indebted for the happiness of beholding you here.

My benefactress came very often to see me. Her presence and her promises alleviated my distresses. Through her, the Queen received news of me, and I news of the Queen. One day I saw the Fairy arrive with joy sparkling in her eyes. "Dear Prince," said she to me, "the moment of your happiness approaches!" She then informed me that he whom you believed to be your father had passed a very uncomfortable night in the forest. She related to me, in a few words, the adventure which had caused him to undertake the journey, without revealing to me your real parentage. She apprized me that the worthy man was compelled to seek an asylum from the misery he had endured during four-and-twenty hours.

"I go," said she, "to give orders for his reception. It must be an agreeable one. He has a charming daughter. I propose that she shall release you. I have examined the conditions which my cruel companion has attached to your disenchantment. It is fortunate that she did not ordain that your deliverer should come hither out of love for you. On the contrary, she insisted that the young maiden should expect no less than death, and yet expose herself to it voluntarily. I have thought of a scheme to oblige her to take that step. It is to make her believe the life of her father is in danger, and that she has no other means of saving him. I know that in order to spare her father any expense on her account, she has asked him only to bring her a rose, whilst her sisters have overwhelmed him with extravagant commissions. He will naturally avail himself of the first favourable opportunity. Hide yourself in this arbour, and seizing him the instant he attempts to gather your roses, threaten him that death will be the punishment of his audacity, unless he give you one of his daughters; or, rather, unless she sacrifice herself, according to the decree of our enemy. This man has five daughters besides the one I have destined for you; but not [Pg 296] one of them is sufficiently magnanimous to purchase the life of their father at the price of their own. Beauty is alone capable of so grand an action."

I executed exactly the Fairy's commands. You know, lovely Princess, with what success. The merchant, to save his life, promised what I demanded. I saw him depart without being able to persuade myself that he would return with you. I could not flatter myself that my desire would be fulfilled. What torment did I not suffer during the month he had requested me to allow him. I longed for its termination only to be certain of my disappointment. I could not imagine that a young, lovely, and amiable girl would have the courage to seek a monster, of whom she believed she was doomed to be the prey. Even supposing her to have sufficient fortitude to devote herself, she would have to remain with me without repenting the step she had taken, and that appeared to me an invincible obstacle. Besides, how could she behold me without dying with affright? I passed my miserable existence in these melancholy reflections, and never was I more to be pitied. The month, however, elapsed, and my protectress announced to me your arrival. You remember, no doubt, the pomp with which you were received. Not daring to express my delight in words, I endeavoured to prove it to you by the most magnificent signs of rejoicing. The Fairy, ceaseless in her attentions to me, prohibited me from making myself known to you. Whatever terror I might inspire you with, or whatever kindness you might show me, I was not permitted to seek to please you, nor to express any love for you, nor to discover to you in any way who I was. I could have recourse, however, to excessive good-nature, as, fortunately, the malignant Fairy had forgotten to forbid my giving you proof of that.

These regulations seemed hard to me, but I was compelled to subscribe to them, and I resolved to present myself before you only for a few moments every day, and to avoid long conversations, in which my heart might betray its tenderness. You came, charming Princess, and the first sight of you produced upon me a diametrically opposite effect to that which my monstrous appearance must have done upon you. To see you was instantly to love you. Entering your apartment, tremblingly, my joy was excessive to find that you could [Pg 297] behold me with greater intrepidity than I could behold myself. You delighted me infinitely when you declared that you would remain with me. An impulse of self-love, which I retained even under that most horrible of forms, led me to believe that you had not found me so hideous as you anticipated.

Your father departed satisfied. But my sorrow increased as I reflected that I was not allowed to win your favour in any way except by indulging the caprices of your taste. Your demeanour, your conversation, as sensible as it was unpretending, everything in you convinced me that you acted solely on the principles dictated to you by reason and virtue, and that consequently I had nothing to hope for from a fortunate caprice. I was in despair at being forbidden to address you in any other language than that which the Fairy had dictated, and which she had expressly chosen as coarse and stupid.

In vain did I represent to her it was unnatural to expect you would accept my proposition to marry you. Her answer was always, "Patience, perseverance, or all is lost." To recompense you for my silly conversation, she assured me she would surround you with all sorts of pleasures, and give me the advantage of seeing you continually, without alarming you, or being compelled to say rude and impertinent things to you. She rendered me invisible, and I had the gratification of seeing you waited on by spirits who were also invisible, or who presented themselves to you in the shapes of various animals.

More than this, the Fairy caused you to behold my natural form in your nightly slumbers, and in portraits by day, and made it speak to you in your dreams as I should have spoken to you myself. You obtained a confused idea of my secret and my hopes, which she urged you to realize, and by the means of a starry mirror I witnessed all your interviews, and read in it either all you imagined you uttered or all that you actually thought. This position, however, did not suffice to render me happy. I was only so in a dream, and my sufferings were real. The intense affection with which you had inspired me obliged me to complain of the restraint under which I lived; but my state was much more wretched when I perceived that these beautiful scenes had no longer any charms for you. I saw you shed tears, which pierced my heart, and would have [Pg 298] destroyed me. You asked me if I was alone here, and I was on the verge of discarding my feigned stupidity, and assuring you by the most passionate vows of the fact. They would have been uttered in terms that would have surprised you, and caused you to suspect that I was not so coarse a brute as I pretended to be. I was on the point even of declaring myself, when the Fairy, invisible to you, appeared before me. By a threatening gesture, which terrified me, she found a way to close my lips. O, heavens! by what means did she impose silence upon me? She approached you with a poniard in her hand, and made signs to me that the first word I uttered would cost you your life. I was so frightened that I naturally relapsed into the stupidity she had ordered me to affect.

My sufferings were not yet at an end. You expressed a desire to visit your father. I gave you permission without hesitation. Could I have refused you anything? But I regarded your departure as my death-blow, and without the assistance of the Fairy I must have sunk under it. During your absence that generous being never quitted me. She saved me from destroying myself, which I should have done in my despair, not daring to hope that you would return. The time you had passed in this Palace rendered my condition more insupportable than it had been previously, because I felt I was the most miserable of all men, without the hope of making it known to you.

My most agreeable occupation was to wander through the scenes which you had frequented, but my grief was increased by no longer seeing you there. The evenings and hours when I used to have the pleasure of conversing with you for a moment, redoubled my afflictions, and were still more painful to me. Those two months, the longest I had ever known, ended at last, and you did not return. It was then my misery reached its climax, and that the Fairy's power was too weak to prevent my sinking under my despair. The precautions she took to prevent my attempting my life were useless. I had a sure way which eluded her power. It was to refrain from food. By the potency of her spells she contrived to sustain me for some time, but having exhausted all her secrets, I grew weaker and weaker, and finally had but a few moments to breathe, when you arrived to snatch me from the tomb.

[Pg 299]

Your precious tears, more efficacious than all the cordials of the disguised Genii who attended on me, delayed my soul upon the point of flight. In learning from your lamentations that I was dear to you, I enjoyed perfect felicity, and that felicity was at its height when you accepted me for your husband. Still I was not permitted to divulge to you my secret, and the Beast was compelled to leave you without daring to disclose to you the Prince. You know the lethargy into which I fell, and which ended only with the arrival of the Fairy and the Queen. On awaking I found myself as you behold me, without being aware of how the change took place.

You have witnessed what followed, but you could only imperfectly judge of the pain which the obstinacy of my mother caused me in opposing a marriage so suitable and so glorious for me. I had determined, Princess, rather to be a monster again than to abandon the hope of being the husband of so virtuous and charming a maiden. Had the secret of your birth remained for ever a mystery to me, love and gratitude would not less have assured me that in possessing you I was the most fortunate of men!

The Prince thus ended his narration, and Beauty was about to speak, when she was prevented by a burst of loud voices and warlike instruments, which, however, did not appear to announce anything alarming. The Prince and Princess looked out of the window, as did also the Fairy and the Queen who returned from their promenade. The noise was occasioned by the arrival of a personage who, according to all appearances, could be no less than a king. His escort was obviously a royal one, and there was an air of majesty in his demeanour which accorded with the state that accompanied him. The fine form of this sovereign, although of a certain age, testified that there had been few who could have equalled him in appearance when in the flower of his youth. He was followed by twelve of his body-guard, and some courtiers in hunting-dresses, who appeared as much astonished as their master to find themselves in a castle till now quite unknown to them. He was received with the same honours that would have been paid to him in his own dominions, and all by invisible beings. Shouts of joy and flourishes of trumpets were heard, but no one was to be seen.

[Pg 300]

The Fairy, immediately on beholding him, said to the Queen, "Here is the King your brother, and the father of Beauty. He little expects the pleasure of seeing you both here. He will be so much the more gratified, as you know he believes that his daughter has been long dead. He mourns her still, as he also does his wife, of whom he retains an affectionate remembrance." These words increased the impatience of the Queen and the young Princess to embrace this monarch. They reached the court-yard just as he dismounted. He saw, but could not recognize them; not doubting, however, that they were advancing to receive him, he was considering how and in what terms he should pay his compliments to them, when Beauty, flinging herself at his feet, embraced his knees, and called him "Father!"

The King raised her and pressed her tenderly in his arms, without comprehending why she addressed him by that title. He imagined she must be some orphan Princess, who sought his protection from some oppressor, and who made use of the most touching expression in order to obtain her request. He was about to assure her that he would do all that lay in his power to assist her, when he recognized the Queen his sister, who, embracing him in her turn, presented her son to him. She then informed him of some of the obligations they were under to Beauty, and especially of the frightful enchantment that had just been terminated. The King praised the young Princess, and desired to know her name, when the Fairy, interrupting him, asked if it was necessary to name her parents, and if he had never known any one whom she resembled sufficiently to enable him to guess them. "If I judged only from her features," said he, gazing upon her earnestly, and not being able to restrain a few tears, "the title she has given to me is legitimately my due; but notwithstanding that evidence, and the emotion which her presence occasions me, I dare not flatter myself that she is the daughter whose loss I have deplored; for I had the most positive proof that she had been devoured by wild beasts. Yet," he continued, still examining her countenance, "she resembles perfectly the tender and incomparable wife whom death has deprived me of. Oh, that I could but venture to indulge in the delightful hope of beholding again in her the fruit of a happy union, the bonds of which were too soon broken!"

[Pg 301]

"You may, my liege," replied the Fairy; "Beauty is your daughter. Her birth is no longer a secret here. The Queen and Prince know who she is. I caused you to direct your steps this way on purpose to inform you; but this is not a fitting place for me to enter into the details of this adventure. Let us enter the Palace. After you have rested yourself there a short time I will relate to you all you desire to know. When you have indulged in the delight which you must feel at finding a daughter so beautiful and so virtuous I will communicate to you another piece of intelligence, which will afford you equal gratification."

The King, accompanied by his daughter and the Prince, was ushered by the monkey officers into the apartment destined for him by the Fairy, who took this opportunity of restoring to the statues the liberty of relating what they had witnessed. As their fate had excited the compassion of the Queen, it was from her hands that the Fairy desired they should receive the benefit of re-animation. She placed her wand in the Queen's hand, who, by her instructions, described with it seven circles in the air, and then pronounced these words: "Be re-animated. Your King is restored to you." All the statues immediately began to move, walk, and act as formerly, retaining only a confused idea of what had happened to them.

After this ceremony the Fairy and the Queen returned to the King, whom they found in conversation with Beauty and the Prince, caressing each in turn, and most fondly his daughter, of whom he inquired a hundred times how she had been preserved from the wild beasts who had carried her off, without remembering that she had answered him from the first that she knew nothing about it, and had been ignorant even of the secret of her birth.

The Prince also talked without being attended to, repeating a hundred times the obligations he was under to Princess Beauty. He desired to acquaint the King with the promises which the Fairy had made him, that he should marry the Princess, and to beg he would not refuse his cheerful consent to the alliance. This conversation and these caresses were interrupted by the entrance of the Queen and the Fairy. The King, who had recovered his daughter, fully appreciated his happiness, but was as yet ignorant to whom he was indebted for this precious gift.

[Pg 302]

"It is to me," said the Fairy; "and I alone can explain to you the adventure. I shall not limit my benefits to the recital of that alone. I have other tidings in store for you, not less agreeable. Therefore, great King, you may note this day as one of the happiest of your life." The company, perceiving that the Fairy was about to commence her narration, evinced by their silence the great attention they were anxious to pay to it. To satisfy their curiosity the Fairy thus addressed the King:—

"Beauty, my liege, and perhaps the Prince, are the only persons present who are not acquainted with the laws of the Fortunate Island. It is necessary I should explain those laws to them. The inhabitants of that island, and even the King himself, are allowed perfect liberty to marry according to their inclinations, in order that there may be no obstacle whatever to their happiness. It was in virtue of this privilege that you, Sire, selected for your wife a young shepherdess whom you met one day when you were hunting. Her beauty and her good conduct were considered by you deserving of that honour. You raised her to the throne, and placed her in a rank from which the lowliness of her birth seemed to have excluded her, but of which she was worthy, by the nobleness of her character and the purity of her mind. You know that you had continual reasons to rejoice in the selection you had made. Her gentleness, her obliging disposition, and her affection for you, equalled the charms of her person. But you did not long enjoy the happiness of beholding her. After she had made you the father of Beauty you were under the necessity of travelling to the frontiers of your kingdom, to suppress some revolutionary demonstrations of which you had received intimation. During this period you lost your dear wife, an affliction which you felt the more sensibly because, in addition to the love with which her beauty had inspired you, you had the greatest respect for the many rare qualities that adorned her mind. Despite her youth and the little education she had received, you found her naturally endowed with profound judgment, and your wisest ministers were astonished at the excellent advice she gave you, and the policy by which she enabled you to succeed in all your undertakings."

The King, who still brooded over his affliction, and to [Pg 303] whose imagination the death of that dear wife was ever present, could not listen to this account without being sensibly affected, and the Fairy, who observed his emotion, said, "Your feelings prove that you deserved that happiness. I will no longer dwell on a subject that is so painful to you, but I must reveal to you that the supposed shepherdess was a Fairy, and my sister, who, having heard that the Fortunate Island was a charming country, and also much praise of its laws and of the gentle nature of your government, was particularly anxious to visit it. The dress of a shepherdess was the only disguise she assumed, intending to enjoy for a short time a pastoral life. You encountered her in her new abode. Her youth and beauty touched your heart. She yielded to a desire to discover whether the qualities of your mind equalled those she found in your person. She trusted to her condition and power as a Fairy, which could place her at a wish beyond the reach of your assiduities if they became too importunate, or if you should presume to take advantage of the humble position in which you found her. She was not alarmed at the sentiments with which you might inspire her, and persuaded that her virtue was sufficient to guarantee her against the snares of love, she attributed her sensations to a simple curiosity to ascertain if there were still upon the earth men capable of loving virtue unembellished by exterior ornaments, which render it more brilliant and respectable to vulgar souls than its own intrinsic merit, and frequently, by their fatal attractions, obtain the reputation of virtue for the most abominable vices.

"Under this illusion, far from retreating to our common asylum, as she had at first proposed, she chose to inhabit a little cottage she had raised for herself in the solitude in which you met her, accompanied by a phantom, representing her mother. These two persons appeared to live there upon the produce of a pretended flock that had no fear of the wolves, being, in fact, genii in that form. It was in that cottage she received your attentions, which produced all the effect you could desire. She could not resist the offer you made her of your crown. You now know the extent of the obligations you were under to her at a time when you imagined she owed everything to you, and were satisfied to remain in that error.

[Pg 304]

"What I now tell you is a positive proof that ambition had no share in the consent she accorded to your wishes. You are aware that we look upon the greatest kingdoms but as gifts which we can bestow on any one at our pleasure. But she appreciated your generous behaviour, and esteeming herself happy in uniting herself to so excellent a man, she rashly entered into that engagement without reflecting on the danger which she thereby incurred. For our laws expressly forbid our union with those who have not as much power as ourselves, more especially when we have not arrived at that age when we are privileged to exercise our authority over others, and enjoy the right of presiding in our turn. Previous to that time we are subordinate to our elders, and that we may not abuse our power, we have only the liberty of disposing of our hands in favour of some spirit or sage whose knowledge is at least equal to our own. It is true that after that period we are free to form what alliance we please; but it is seldom that we avail ourselves of that right, and never without scandal to our order. Those who do are generally old fairies, who almost always pay dearly for their folly; for they marry young men, who despise them, and, although they are not punished as criminals, they are sufficiently punished by the bad conduct of their husbands, on whom they are not permitted to avenge themselves.

"It is the only penalty imposed upon them. The disagreements which almost invariably follow the indiscretion they have committed takes from them the desire of revealing to those profane persons from whom they expected respect and attention the great secrets of art. My sister, however, was not placed in either of these positions. Endowed with every charm that could inspire affection, she was not of the required age; but she consulted only her love. She flattered herself she could keep her marriage a secret. She succeeded in so doing for a short time. We rarely make inquiries about those who are absent. Each is occupied with her own affairs, and we fly through the world, doing good or ill, according to our inclinations, without being obliged at our return to account for our actions, unless we have been guilty of some act which causes us to be talked about, or that some beneficent fairy, moved by the unjust persecution of some unfortunate mortal, lays a complaint against the offender. In short, there must [Pg 305] arise some unforeseen event to occasion us to consult the general book in which all we do is written at the same instant without the aid of hands. Saving these occasions, we have only to appear in the general assembly three times in the year; and, as we travel very swiftly, the affair does not occupy more than a couple of hours.

"My sister was obliged to give light to the throne (such is our phrase for the performance of that duty). On such occasions, she arranged for you a hunting party at some distance, or a journey of pleasure, and after your departure she feigned some indisposition, to remain alone in her cabinet, or that she had letters to write, or that she wished to repose. Neither in the palace nor amongst us was there any suspicion of that which it was so much her interest to conceal. This mystery, however, was not one for me. The consequences were dangerous, and I warned her of them; but she loved you too much to repent the step she had taken. Desiring even to justify it in my eyes, she insisted that I should pay you a visit.

"Without flattering you, I confess that, if the sight of you did not compel me entirely to excuse her weakness, it at least diminished considerably my surprise at it, and increased the zeal with which I laboured to keep it a secret. Her dissimulation was successful for two years; but at length she betrayed herself. We are obliged to confer a certain number of favours on the world generally, and to return an account of them. When my sister gave in hers, it appeared that she had limited her excursions and her benefits to the confines of the Fortunate Island.

"Several of our ill-natured fairies blamed this conduct, and our Queen, in consequence, demanded of her why she had restricted her benevolence to this small corner of the earth, when she could not be ignorant that a young fairy was bound to travel far and wide, and manifest to the universe at large our pleasure and our power.

"As this was no new regulation, my sister could not murmur at the enforcement of it, nor find a pretext for objecting to obey it. She promised, therefore, to do so; but her impatience to see you again, the fear of her absence being discovered at the Palace, the impossibility of acting secretly on a throne, did not permit her to absent herself long enough and often enough [Pg 306] to fulfil her promise; and at the next assembly she could hardly prove that she had been out of the Fortunate Island for a quarter of an hour.

"Our Queen, greatly displeased with her, threatened to destroy that island, and so prevent her continuing to violate our laws. This threat agitated her so greatly that the least sharp-sighted fairy could see to what a point she carried her interest for that fatal island, and the wicked fairy who turned the Prince here present into a frightful monster, was convinced by her confusion that, on opening the great book, she should find in it an important entry which would afford some exercise to her propensities for mischief. 'It is there,' she exclaimed, 'that the truth will appear, and that we shall learn what has really been her occupation!' and with these words, she opened the volume before the whole assembly, and read the details of all that had taken place during the last two years in a loud and distinct voice.

"All the fairies made an extraordinary uproar on hearing of this degrading alliance, and overwhelmed my wretched sister with the most cruel reproaches. She was degraded from our order, and condemned to remain a prisoner amongst us. If her punishment had consisted of the first penalty only, she would have consoled herself; but the second sentence, far more terrible, made her feel all the rigour of both. The loss of her dignity little affected her; but, loving you fondly, she begged, with tears in her eyes, that they would be satisfied with degrading her, and not deprive her of the pleasure of living as a simple mortal with her husband and her dear daughter.

"Her tears and supplications touched the hearts of the younger judges, and I felt, from the murmur that arose, that if the votes had been collected at that instant, she would certainly have escaped with a reprimand. But one of the eldest, who, from her extreme decrepitude had obtained amongst us the name of 'the Mother of the Seasons,' did not give the Queen time to speak and admit that pity had touched her heart as well as the others'.

"'There is no excuse for this crime,' cried the detestable old creature, in her cracked voice. 'If it is permitted to go unpunished, we shall be daily exposed to similar insults. The honour of our order is absolutely involved in it. This miserable being, attached to earth, does not regret the loss of a [Pg 307] rank which elevated her a hundred degrees higher above monarchs than they are above their subjects. She tells us that her affections, her fears, and her wishes, all turn upon her unworthy family. It is through them we must punish her. Let her husband deplore her! Let her daughter, the shameful fruit of her illegal marriage, become the bride of a monster, to expiate the folly of a mother who could allow herself to be captivated by the frail and contemptible beauty of a mortal!'

"This cruel speech revived the severity of many who had been previously inclined to mercy. Those who continued to pity her being too few to offer any opposition, the sentence was approved of in its integrity; and our Queen herself, whose features had indicated a feeling of compassion, resuming their severity, confirmed the majority of votes in favour of the motion of the ill-natured old Fairy. My sister, however, in her endeavours to obtain a revocation of this cruel decree, to propitiate her judges, and to excuse her marriage, had drawn so charming a portrait of you, that it inflamed the heart of the fairy Governess of the Prince (she who had opened the great volume); but this dawning passion only served to increase the hatred which that wicked Fairy already bore to your unfortunate wife.

"Unable to resist her desire to see you, she concealed her passion under the colour of a pretext that she was anxious to ascertain if you deserved that a fairy should make such a sacrifice for you as my sister had done. As she had obtained the sanction of the assembly to her guardianship of the Prince, she could not have ventured to quit him for any length of time if the ingenuity of love had not inspired her with the idea of placing a protecting genius and two inferior and invisible fairies to watch over him in her absence. After taking this precaution, there was nothing to prevent her following her inclination, which speedily carried her to the Fortunate Island. In the meanwhile, the women and officers of the imprisoned Queen, surprised that she did not come out of her private cabinet, became alarmed. The express orders she had given them not to disturb her, induced them to pass the night without knocking at the door; but impatience at last taking place of all other considerations, they knocked loudly, and no one answering, they forced the doors, under the impression that some accident [Pg 308] had happened to her. Although they had prepared themselves for the worst, they were not the less astonished at perceiving no trace of her. They called her, they hunted for her in vain. They could discover nothing to appease the despair into which her disappearance had plunged them. They imagined a thousand reasons for it, each more absurd than the other. They could not suspect her evasion to be voluntary. She was all-powerful in your kingdom. The sovereign jurisdiction you had confided to her was not disputed by any one. Everybody obeyed her cheerfully. The affection you had for each other, that which she entertained for her daughter and for her subjects, who adored her, prevented them from supposing she had fled. Where could she go to be more happy? On the other hand, what man would have dared to carry off a queen from the midst of her own guards, and the centre of her own palace? Such a ravisher must have left some indications of the road he had taken.

"The disaster was certain, although the causes of it were unknown. There was another evil to dread; namely, the feelings with which you would receive this fatal news. The innocence of those who were responsible for the safety of the Queen's person by no means satisfied them that they should not feel the effects of your wrath. They felt they must either fly the kingdom, and thereby appear guilty of a crime they had not committed, or they must find some means of hiding this misfortune from you.

"After long deliberation, they could imagine no other than that of persuading you the Queen was dead, and this plan they put instantly into execution. They sent off a courier to inform you that she had been suddenly taken ill; a second followed a few hours afterwards, bearing the news of her death, in order to prevent your love inducing you to return post-haste to Court. Your appearance would have deranged all the measures they had taken for general security. They paid to the supposed defunct all the funeral honours due to her rank, to your affection, and the sorrow of a people who adored her, and who wept her loss as sincerely as yourself.

"This cruel adventure was always kept a profound secret from you, although it was known to every other inhabitant of the Fortunate Island. The first astonishment had given publicity to the whole affair. The affliction you felt at this loss [Pg 309] was proportionate to your love; you found no consolation except in the innocent caresses of your infant daughter, whom you sent for to be with you. You determined never again to be separated from her; she was charming, and presented you continually with a living portrait of the Queen, her mother. The hostile Fairy, who had been the original cause of all this trouble by opening the great book in which she discovered my sister's marriage, had not come to see you without paying the price of her curiosity. Your appearance had produced the same effect upon her heart as it had previously done on that of your wife, and instead of this experience inducing her to excuse my sister, she ardently desired to commit the same fault. Hovering about you invisibly, she could not resolve to quit you. Beholding you inconsolable, she had no hope of success, and fearing to add the shame of your refusal to the pain of disappointment, she did not dare make herself known to you; on the other hand, supposing she did appear, she imagined that by skilful manœuvring, she might accustom you to see her, and perhaps in time induce you to love her. But to effect this, she must be introduced to you; and after much pondering to find some decorous way of presenting herself, she hit on one. There was a neighbouring Queen who had been driven out of her dominions by a usurper, who had murdered her husband. This unhappy Princess was ranging the world to find an asylum and an avenger. The Fairy carried her off, and having deposited her in a safe place, put her to sleep, and assumed her form. You beheld, Sire, that disguised Fairy fling herself at your feet, and implore your protection and assistance to punish the assassin of a husband whom she professed she regretted as deeply as you did your Queen. She protested that her love for him alone impelled her to this course, and that she renounced, with all her heart, a crown which she offered to him who should avenge her dear husband.

"The unhappy pity each other. You interested yourself in her misfortunes the more readily for that she wept the loss of a beloved spouse, and that mingling her tears with yours, she talked to you incessantly of the Queen. You gave her your protection, and lost no time in re-establishing her authority in the kingdom she pretended to, by punishing the rebels and the usurper she seemed to desire; but she would neither [Pg 310] return to it nor quit you. She implored you, for her own security, to govern the kingdom in her name, as you were too generous to accept it as a gift from her, and to permit her to reside at your Court. You could not refuse her this new favour. She appeared to be necessary to you for the education of your daughter, for the cunning Fairy knew well enough that child was the sole object of your affection. She feigned an exceeding fondness for her, and had her continually in her arms. Anticipating the request you were about to make to her, she earnestly begged to be permitted to take charge of her education, saying that she would have no heir but that dear child, whom she looked on as her own, and who was the only being she loved in the world; because she said she reminded her of a daughter she had had by her husband, and who perished along with him.

"The proposal appeared to you so advantageous that you did not hesitate to entrust the Princess to her care, and to give her full authority over her. She acquitted herself of her duties to perfection, and by her talent and her affection obtained your implicit confidence and your love as for a tender sister. This was not sufficient for her: all her anxiety was but to become your wife. She neglected nothing to gain this end; but even had you never been the husband of the most beautiful of fairies, she was not formed to inspire you with love. The shape she had assumed could not bear comparison with hers into whose place she would have stolen. It was extremely ugly, and being naturally so herself, she had only the power of appearing beautiful one day in the year.

"The knowledge of this discouraging fact convinced her that to succeed she must have recourse to other charms than those of beauty. She intrigued secretly to oblige the people and the nobility to petition you to take another wife, and to point her out to you as the desirable person; but certain ambiguous conversations she had held with you, in order to sound your inclinations, enabled you easily to discover the origin of the pressing solicitations with which you were importuned. You declared positively that you would not hear of giving a step-mother to your daughter, nor lower her position, by making her subordinate to a queen, from that which she held as the highest person next to yourself in the kingdom, and the acknowledged heir to your throne. You [Pg 311] also gave the false Queen to understand that you should feel obliged by her returning to her own dominions immediately, and without ado, and promised her that when she was settled there you would render her all the services she could expect from a faithful friend and a generous neighbour; but you did not conceal from her that if she did not take this course willingly, she ran the risk of being compelled to do so.

"The invincible obstacle you then opposed to her love threw her into a terrific rage, but she affected so much indifference about the matter that she succeeded in persuading you that her attempt was caused by ambition, and the fear that eventually you might take possession of her dominions, preferring, notwithstanding the earnestness with which she had appeared to offer them to you, to let you believe she was insincere in that case, rather than you should suspect her real sentiments. Her fury was not less violent because it was suppressed. Not doubting that it was Beauty who, more powerful in your heart than policy, caused you to reject the opportunity of increasing your empire in so glorious a manner, she conceived for her a hatred as violent as that which she felt for your wife, and resolved to get rid of her, fully believing that if she were dead, your subjects, renewing their remonstrances, would compel you to change your state, in order to leave a successor to the throne. The good soul was anything but of an age to present you with one; but that she cared little about. The Queen, whose resemblance she had assumed, was still young enough to have many children, and her ugliness was no obstacle to a royal and political alliance.

"Notwithstanding the official declaration you had made, it was thought that if your daughter died you would yield to the continual representations of your council. It was believed, also, that your choice would fall upon this pretended Queen; and that idea surrounded her with numberless parasites. It was her design, therefore, by the aid of one of her flatterers, whose wife was as base as her husband, and as wicked as she was herself, to make away with your daughter. She had appointed this woman governess to the little Princess. These wretches settled between them that they would smother her, and report that she had died suddenly; but for more security they decided to commit this murder in the neighbouring forest, so [Pg 312] that nobody could surprise them in the execution of this barbarous deed. They counted on no one having the slightest knowledge of it, and that it would be impossible to blame them for not having sought for assistance before she expired, having the legitimate excuse that they were too far away from any. The husband of the governess proposed to go in search of aid as soon as the child was dead; and that no suspicion might be awakened, he was to appear surprised at finding it too late when he returned to the spot where he had left this tender victim of their fury, and he also rehearsed the sorrow and consternation he was to affect.

"When my wretched sister saw herself deprived of her power and condemned to a cruel imprisonment, she requested me to console you and to watch over the safety of her child. It was unnecessary for her to take that precaution. The tie which unites us, and the pity I felt for her, would have sufficed to ensure you my protection, and her entreaties could not increase the zeal with which I hastened to fulfil her decrees.

"I saw you as often as I could, and as much as prudence permitted me, without incurring the risk of arousing the suspicions of our enemy, who would have denounced me as a Fairy in whom sisterly affection prevailed over the honour of her order, and who protected a guilty race. I neglected nothing to convince all the Fairies that I had abandoned my sister to her unhappy fate, and, by so doing, trusted to be more at liberty to serve her. As I watched every movement of your perfidious admirer, not only with my own eyes, but those of the Genii, who were my servants, her horrible intentions were not unknown to me. I could not oppose her by open force; and though it would have been easy for me to annihilate those into whose hands she had delivered the little innocent, prudence restrained me; for, had I carried off your daughter, the malignant Fairy would have retaken her from me, without its being possible for me to defend her.

"It is a law amongst us that we must be a thousand years old before we can dispute the power of the ancient fairies, or at any rate we must have become serpents. The perils which accompany the latter condition cause us to call it the Terrible Act. The bravest amongst us shudder at the thought of undertaking it. We hesitate a long time before we can [Pg 313] resolve to expose ourselves to its consequences; and without the urgent motive of hatred, love, or vengeance, there are few who do not prefer waiting for time to make them Elders than to acquire their privilege by that dangerous transformation, in which the greater number are destroyed. I was in this position. I wanted ten years of the thousand, and I had no resource but in artifice. I employed it successfully. I took the form of a monstrous she-bear, and, hiding myself in the forest selected for the execution of this detestable deed, when the wretches arrived to fulfil the barbarous order they had received, I flung myself upon the woman who had the child in her arms, and who had already placed her hand on its mouth. Her fright made her drop the precious burden, but she was not allowed to escape so easily; the horror I felt at her unnatural conduct inspired me with the ferocity of the brute I had assumed the form of. I strangled her, as well as the traitor who accompanied her, and I carried off Beauty, after having rapidly stripped off her clothes and dyed them with the blood of her enemies. I scattered them also about the forest, taking the precaution to tear them in several places, so that they should not suspect the Princess had escaped; and I withdrew, delighted at having succeeded so completely.

"The Fairy believed her object had been attained. The death of her two accomplices was an advantage to her. She was mistress of her secret, and the fate they had met with was but what she had herself destined them to, in recompense of their guilty services. Another circumstance was also favourable to her. Some shepherds who had seen this affair from a distance ran for assistance, which arrived just in time to see the infamous wretches expire, and prevent the possibility of suspicion that she had any part in it.

"The same circumstances were equally favourable to my enterprise. The wicked Fairy was as fully convinced as the people by them. The event was so natural, that she never doubted it. She did not even condescend to exert her skill to satisfy herself of the fact. I was delighted at her fancied security. I should not have been the strongest had she attempted to recover little Beauty, because, in addition to the reasons which made her my superior, and which I have explained to you, she possessed the advantage of having received that child from you. You had deputed to her your [Pg 314] authority, which you alone could re-assume, and short of your wresting her yourself out of her hands, nothing could interfere with the control she had a right to exercise over the Princess till she was married.

"Preserved from this anxiety, I found myself overwhelmed by another, on recollecting that the Mother of the Seasons had condemned my niece to marry a monster; but she was then not three years old, and I flattered myself I should be able, by study, to discover some expedient to prevent this curse being fulfilled to the letter, and to evade it by some equivocation. I had plenty of time to ponder on it, and my first care was, therefore, only to find some spot where I could place my precious charge in safety.

"Profound secrecy was absolutely necessary to me. I dared not place her in a castle, nor exercise for her benefit any of the magnificent wonders of our art. Our enemy would have noticed it. It would have awakened an anxiety, the consequences of which would have been fatal to us. I thought it better to assume an humble garb, and confide the infant to the care of the first person I met with, who appeared to me to be an honest man, and under whose roof I could promise myself she would enjoy the comforts of life.

"Chance soon favoured my intentions. I found what suited me exactly. It was a small house in a village, the door of which was open. I entered this cottage, which appeared to me that of a peasant in easy circumstances. I saw by the light of a lamp three country women asleep beside a cradle, which I concluded contained a baby. The cradle did not at all correspond with the general simplicity of the apartment. Everything about it was sumptuous. I imagined that its little occupant was ill, and that the deep sleep into which its nurses had fallen was the consequence of long watching over it. I approached silently, with the intention of curing the infant, and anticipated with pleasure the surprise of these women, on awaking, to find their invalid restored to health, without knowing what to attribute it to. I was about to take the child out of the cradle in order to breathe health into it; but my good intentions were vain: it expired at the instant I touched it.

"I immediately conceived the idea of taking advantage of this melancholy event, and substituting my niece for the dead [Pg 315] child, which, by good fortune, was also a girl. I lost no time in making the exchange, and bearing away the lifeless infant, buried it carefully. I then returned to the house, at the door of which I knocked long and loudly, to awaken the sleepers.

"I told them, feigning a provincial dialect, that I was a stranger to those parts, who was in want of a night's lodging. They good-naturedly offered me one, and then went to look at their nursling, whom they found quietly asleep, with all the appearance of being in perfect health. They were astonished and delighted, not dreaming of the deception I had practised upon them. They informed me that the child was the daughter of a rich merchant; that one of their party had been her nurse, and after having weaned her had restored her to her parents, but that the child, having fallen ill in her father's house, had been sent back to the country, in hope that the change of air would be of service to her. They added, with satisfied countenances, that the experiment had succeeded, and produced a better effect than all the remedies which had been resorted to previous to its adoption. They determined to carry her back to her father as soon as it was daylight, in order to afford him, as early as possible, the gratification he would derive from her restoration, for conducing to which, also, they expected to receive a liberal reward, as the child was his particular favourite, although the youngest of eleven.

"At sunrise they set out, and I feigned to continue my journey, congratulating myself on having so well provided for my niece's safety. To insure this object more completely, and induce the supposed father still more to attach himself to the little girl, I assumed the form of one of those women who go about telling fortunes, and arriving at the merchant's door just as the nurses reached it with the child, I followed them into the house. He received them with delight, and taking the little girl in his arms, became the dupe of his paternal affection, and fancied that the emotions simply caused by his kindly disposition were the mysterious workings of nature at the sight of his offspring. I seized this opportunity of increasing the interest he believed he had in the child.

"'Look well upon this little one, my good gentleman,' said I, in the usual language of the class to which by my dress I [Pg 316] appeared to belong. 'She will be a great honour to thy family, she will bring thee immense wealth, and save thy life and that of all thy children. She will be so beautiful—so beautiful, that she will be called Beauty by all who behold her.' As a reward for my prediction, he gave me a piece of gold, and I withdrew, perfectly satisfied. I had no longer any reason for residing with the race of Adam. To profit by my leisure, I returned to Fairyland, resolving to remain in it some time. I passed my days there quietly in consoling my sister, in giving her news of her dear daughter, and in assuring her that, far from forgetting her, you cherished her memory as fondly as you had formerly herself.

"Such, great King, was our situation whilst you were suffering under the fresh calamity which had deprived you of your child, and renewed all the affliction you had felt at the loss of her mother. Although you could not positively accuse the person to whom you had confided the infant of being the wilful cause of the accident, it was still impossible for you not to look upon her with an evil eye; for though it did not appear that she was guilty of intentional mischief, it was certainly through her neglecting to see that the young Princess was properly attended and protected that the event had proved fatal.

"After the first paroxysms of your grief had subsided, she flattered herself that no obstacle would arise to prevent your espousing her. She caused her emissaries to renew the proposal to you; but she was undeceived, and her mortification was excessive, when you declared that not only were your intentions unchanged respecting a second marriage, but that even, could anything alter your determination, it would never be in her favour. To this declaration you added a positive order for her to quit the kingdom immediately. Her presence continually reminded you of your child, and renewed your affliction. Such was the reason you adduced for this step; but your principal object was to put an end to the intrigues she was constantly carrying on in order to gain her end.

"She was furious; but she was obliged to obey without being able to avenge herself. I had persuaded one of our ancient fairies to protect you. Her power was considerable, for she joined to her age the advantage of having been four times a serpent. In proportion to the excessive peril incurred by that [Pg 317] process, are the honours and powers attached to it. This Fairy, out of consideration for me, took you under her protection, and put it out of the power of your indignant lover to do you any mischief.

"This disappointment was fortunate for the Queen, whose form she had assumed. She awoke her from her magic slumber, and concealing from her the criminal use she had made of her features, placed her conduct in the best light before her.

"She expatiated on the value of her intercession with the King, and on the trouble she had saved her, and gave her the best advice she could how to maintain herself for the future in her proper person. It was then that, to console herself for your indifference, the Fairy returned to the young Prince and resumed her care of him. She became too fond of him, and not being able to make herself beloved, she caused him to suffer that terrible effect of her fury.

"In the meanwhile, I had insensibly arrived at the privileged age, and my power was increased, but my desire to serve my sister and yourself induced me to feel that still I had not sufficient. My sincere friendship blinding me to the perils of "the Terrible Act," I resolved to undertake it.

"I became a serpent, and passed fortunately through the ordeal. I was then in a position to act openly in favour of those who were persecuted by my malicious companions. If I cannot at all times entirely dissolve their fatal spells, I can at least counteract them by my skill and by my counsels.

"My niece was amongst the number of those whom I could not completely favour. Not daring to discover all the interest I took in her, it appeared to me that the best thing I could do was to allow her still to pass as the merchant's daughter. I visited her under various forms, and always returned satisfied. Her virtue and beauty equalled her good sense. At the age of fourteen she had already given proof of great fortitude during the changes of fortune which had befallen her supposed father.

"I was delighted to find that the most cruel reverses had not been able to affect her tranquillity. On the contrary, by her cheerfulness, by the charm of her conversation, she had succeeded in restoring it to the hearts of her father and her brothers; and I rejoiced to observe also that her sentiments were worthy of her birth. These pleasant reflections were, [Pg 318] however, mingled with much bitterness, when I remembered that, with so many perfections, she was destined to be the wife of a monster. I toiled, I studied night and day to find some means of saving her from so great a misfortune, and was in despair at finding none.

"This anxiety did not prevent me, however, from paying occasional visits to you. Your wife, who was deprived of that liberty, implored me incessantly to go and see you; and, notwithstanding the protection of our friend, her affectionate heart was continually alarmed about you, and persuaded her that the instant I lost sight of you would be the last of your life, and in which you would be sacrificed to the fury of our enemy. This fear possessed her so strongly, that she scarcely gave me a moment's rest. No sooner did I bring her news of you than she supplicated me so earnestly to return to you, that it was impossible to refuse her.

"Compassionating her anxiety, and more desirous to end it than to save myself the trouble it gave me, I employed against my cruel companion the same weapons she had made use of against you. I proceeded to open the great book. By good fortune, it was at the very moment she was holding that conversation with the Queen and Prince which terminated in his transformation. I lost not a word of it, and my rapture was extreme at finding that, in seeking to assure her vengeance, she neutralized, without knowing it, the mischief which the Mother of the Seasons had done us in dooming Beauty to be the bride of a monster.

"To crown our happiness, she added conditions so advantageous, that it almost seemed as if she made them on purpose to oblige me, for she thereby furnished my sister's daughter with an opportunity of proving that she was worthy of being the issue of the purest of fairy-blood.

"The slightest sign or gesture expresses amongst us as much as it would take an ordinary mortal three days to explain. I uttered but one contemptuous word. It was enough to inform the assembly that our enemy had pronounced her own sentence in that which she had caused ten years before to be passed upon your wife. At the age of the latter, the weakness of love was more natural than at the advanced period of existence of a fairy of the highest order. I spoke of the base and wicked actions which had accompanied that superannuated passion. I [Pg 319] urged that if so many infamous acts were allowed to pass unpunished, mortals would be justified in saying that fairies existed in the world but to dishonour nature and afflict the human race. Presenting the book to them, I condensed this abrupt oration in the single word "Behold!" It was not the less powerful in its effect.

"There were present also friends of mine, both young and old, who treated the amorous fury as she deserved. She had not succeeded in becoming your wife, and to that disgrace was now added degradation from her order, and imprisonment, as in the case of the Queen of the Happy Island.

"This council was held whilst she was with you, Madam, and your son. As soon as she appeared amongst us, the result was communicated to her. I had the pleasure to be present, after which, closing the book, I descended rapidly from the middle region of air in which our empire is situated, to combat the effect of the despair to which you were ready to abandon yourselves. I performed my journey in as short a space of time as I had occupied with my laconical address. I arrived soon enough to promise you my assistance. All sorts of reasons combined to invite me. Your virtues, your misfortunes, (said the Fairy, turning to the Prince), the advantages they offered to Beauty made me see in you the Monster that suited me. You appeared to me worthy of each other, and I felt convinced that when you became acquainted, your hearts would do each other mutual justice.

"You know," she continued, addressing the Queen, "what I have since done to attain my object, and by what means I obliged Beauty to come to this Palace, where the sight of the Prince, and her interviews with him, in the dreams I conjured up for her, had the effect I desired. They kindled love in her heart without diminishing her virtue or weakening the sense of duty and gratitude which attached her to the Monster. In short, I have happily brought my scheme to perfection. Yes, Prince," pursued the Fairy, "you have no longer anything to fear from your enemy. She is stripped of her power, and will never again be able to injure you by other spells. You have exactly fulfilled the conditions she imposed on you. Had you not done so, you would have been still bound by them, notwithstanding her eternal degradation. You have made yourself beloved without the aid of your rank or your intelligence; [Pg 320] and you, Beauty, are equally relieved from the curse pronounced upon you by the Mother of the Seasons. You cheerfully accepted a monster for your husband. She has nothing more to exact. All now tends to your happiness."

The Fairy ceased speaking, and the King threw himself at her feet. "Great Fairy," he exclaimed, "how can I thank you for all the favours you have heaped on my family? My gratitude for the benefits you have bestowed on us far exceeds my power of expression; but, my august sister," added he, "that title encourages me to ask more favours; for, despite the obligations I am already under to you, I cannot avoid confessing to you that I shall never be truly happy so long as I am deprived of the presence of my beloved Fairy Queen. This account of what she has done and what she has suffered for me would increase my love and my affliction, were either of them capable of being augmented. Ah, Madam," he added, "can you not crown all your benefactions by enabling me to behold her?"

The question was useless. If the Fairy had had the power to have afforded him that gratification, she was too willing to have waited for the request: but she could not alter what the Council of the Fairies had decreed. The young Queen being a prisoner in the middle regions of air, there was not the shadow of a chance of his being enabled to see her; and the Fairy was about to explain this to him kindly, and to exhort him to await patiently some unforeseen events, of which she might take advantage, when an enchanting melody stole upon their ears and interrupted her. The King, his daughter, the Queen, and the Prince, were in ecstasies, but the Fairy experienced another sort of surprise. Such music indicated the triumph of some Fairy. She could not imagine what Fairy had achieved a victory. Her fears suggested that it was the old one, or the Mother of the Seasons, who in her absence had obtained, the former her liberty, or the latter permission to persecute the lovers afresh.

She was in this perplexity when it was agreeably ended by the presence of her Fairy-sister, the Queen of the Happy Island, who suddenly appeared in the centre of that charming group. She was no less lovely than when the King, her husband, lost her. The monarch, who instantly recognised her, making the respect he owed her yield to the love he had [Pg 321] cherished for her, embraced her with such transports of joy, that the Queen herself was surprised at them.

The Fairy, her sister, could not imagine to what fortunate miracle she was indebted for her liberty; but the royal Fairy informed her that she owed her happiness solely to her own courage, which had impelled her to hazard her own existence to preserve another's. "You are aware," said she to the Fairy, "that the daughter of our Queen was received into the order at her birth; that her father was not a sublunary being, but the sage Amadabak, whose alliance is an honour to the fairy race, and whose sublime knowledge invests him with much higher powers. Notwithstanding this, however, it was imperative for his daughter to become a serpent at the end of her first hundred years. The fatal period arrived, and our Queen, as tender a mother, and as anxious respecting the fate of this dear infant as any ordinary parent could be, could not resolve to expose her to the many chances of destruction in that shape, the misfortunes of those who had perished being but too notorious for her not to feel the greatest alarm. My wretched situation depriving me of all hope of again beholding my affectionate husband and my lovely daughter, I had conceived a perfect disgust for a life which I was doomed to pass apart from them. Without the least hesitation, therefore, I offered to become a crawling reptile in the place of the young Fairy. I saw with delight a certain, prompt, and honourable mode of delivering myself from all the miseries with which I was overwhelmed, by death or by a glorious emancipation, which would render me mistress of my own actions, and thereby enable me to rejoin my husband.

"Our Queen hesitated as little to accept this offer, so gratifying to her maternal affection, as I did to make it. She embraced me a hundred times, and promised to restore me to liberty unconditionally, and re-establish me in all my privileges, if I was fortunate enough to pass unharmed through that perilous enterprise. I did do so, and the fruit of my labours was enjoyed by the young Fairy, for whom I had been the substitute. The success of my first trial encouraged me to make a second for my own benefit. I underwent the transformation anew, and was equally fortunate. This last act made me an Elder, and, consequently, independent. I [Pg 322] was not long in profiting by my liberty, and flying hither to rejoin a family so dear to me."

As soon as the Fairy had finished her narrative, the embraces were renewed by her affectionate auditors. It was a charming confusion, in which each caressed the other almost without knowing what they were about: beauty, particularly, enchanted at appertaining to such an illustrious family, and no longer fearing to degrade the Prince, her cousin, by causing him to form an alliance beneath him.

But although transported by the excess of her happiness, she did not forget the worthy man whom she had formerly believed to be her father. She recalled to her fairy aunt the promise she had made to her, that he and his children should have the honour of being present at her marriage. She was still speaking to her on this subject when they saw from the window sixteen persons on horseback, most of whom had hunting-horns, and appeared in considerable confusion. Their disorder evidently arose from their horses having ran away with them. Beauty instantly recognised them as the six sons of the worthy merchant, the five daughters, and their five lovers.

Everybody but the Fairy was surprised at this abrupt entrance. Those who made it were not less so, at finding themselves carried by the speed of their unmanageable horses into a palace totally unknown to them.

This is the way it happened. They were all out hunting, when their horses, suddenly uniting themselves as in one squadron, galloped off with them at such speed to the Palace that all their efforts to stop them were perfectly useless.

Beauty, thoughtless of her present dignity, hastened to receive and re-assure them. She embraced them all kindly. The good man himself next appeared, but not in the same disorder. A horse had neighed and scratched at his door. He had no doubt that it came to seek him by order of his dear daughter. He mounted him without fear, and, perfectly satisfied as to whither the steed would bear him, he was not at all surprised to find himself in the court-yard of a Palace which he now saw for the third time, and to which he felt convinced he had been conducted to witness the marriage of Beauty and the Beast.

The moment he perceived her he ran to her with open arms, [Pg 323] blessing the happy moment that presented her again to his sight, and heaping benedictions on the generous Beast who had permitted him to return; he looked about for him in every direction, to offer him his most humble thanks for all the favours he had heaped on his family, and particularly on his youngest daughter. He was vexed at not seeing him, and began to apprehend that his conjectures were erroneous. Still, the presence of all his children seemed to support the idea he had formed, as they would scarcely have been all assembled in that spot if some solemn ceremony, such as that marriage, were not to be celebrated.

These reflections, which the good man made to himself, did not prevent him from pressing Beauty fondly in his arms, and bathing her cheek with tears of joy. After allowing due time for this first expression of his feelings, "Enough, good man," said the Fairy. "You have sufficiently caressed this Princess. It is time that, ceasing to regard her as a father, you should learn that that title does not appertain to you, and that you must now do her homage as your sovereign. She is the Princess of the Happy Island, daughter of the King and Queen whom you see before you. She is about to become the wife of this Prince. Here stands the Prince's mother, sister of the King. I am a Fairy, her friend, and the aunt of Beauty. As to the Prince," added the Fairy, observing the expression of the good man's face, "he is better known to you than you imagine; but he is much altered since you last saw him. In a word, he was the Beast himself."

The father and his sons were enchanted at these wonderful tidings, while the sisters felt a painful jealousy, but they endeavoured to conceal it under the mask of a gratification which deceived no one. The others, however, feigned to believe them sincere. As to the lovers, who had been rendered inconstant by the hope of possessing Beauty, and who had only returned to their first attachments on their despairing to obtain her, they knew not what to think.

The merchant could not help weeping, without being able to tell whether his tears were caused by the pleasure of seeing the happiness of Beauty, or by the sorrow of losing so perfect a daughter. His sons were agitated by similar feelings. Beauty, extremely affected by this evidence of their love, [Pg 324] entreated those on whom she now depended, as well as the Prince, her future husband, to permit her to reward such tender attachment. Her entreaty testified the goodness of her heart too sincerely not to be listened to. They were laden with bounties, and by permission of the King, the Prince, and the Queen, Beauty continued to call them by the tender names of father, brothers, and even sisters, though she was not ignorant that the latter were as little so in heart as they were in blood. She desired they would all, in return, call her by the name they were wont to do when they believed her to be a member of their family. The old man and his children were appointed to offices in the Court of Beauty, and enjoyed the pleasure of living continually near her, in a station sufficiently exalted to be generally respected. The lovers of her sisters, whose passion for Beauty might easily have been revived, if they had not known it would be useless, thought themselves too happy in being united to the good man's daughters, and becoming allied to persons for whom Beauty retained so much goodwill.

All those she desired to be present at her wedding having arrived, the celebration of it was no longer delayed. The festivities lasted many days, and ended at length only because the fairy aunt of the young bride pointed out to them the propriety of leaving that beautiful retreat, and returning to their dominions, to show themselves to their subjects.

It was quite time she should recall their kingdom to their recollection and the indispensable duties which demanded their presence. Enraptured with the scenes around them, entranced by the pleasure of loving and expressing their love to each other, they had entirely forgotten their royal state and the cares that attend it.

The newly-married pair, indeed, proposed to the Fairy that they should abdicate, and resign their power into the hands of any one she should select; but that wise being represented to them clearly that they were under as great an obligation to fulfil the destiny which had confided to them the government of a nation as that nation was to preserve for them an unshaken loyalty.

They yielded to these just remonstrances, but the Prince and Beauty stipulated that they should be allowed occasionally to visit that spot, and cast aside for a while the cares inseparable from their station, and that they should be waited [Pg 325] on by the invisible Genii or the animals who had attended them during the preceding years. They availed themselves as often as possible of this liberty. Their presence seemed to embellish the spot. All were eager to please them. The Genii awaited their visits with impatience, and received them with joy, testifying in a hundred ways the delight their return afforded them.

The Fairy, whose foresight neglected nothing, gave them a chariot, drawn by twelve white stags with golden horns and hoofs, like those she drove herself. The speed of these animals was almost greater than that of thought; and, drawn by them, you could easily make the tour of the world in two hours. By this means they lost no time in travelling. They profited by every moment of leisure, and went frequently in this elegant equipage to visit their father, the King of the Happy Island, who had grown so young again through the return of his Fairy Queen, that he equalled in face and form the Prince, his son-in-law. He felt also equally happy, being neither less enamoured nor less eager to prove to his wife his unceasing affection, while she, on her part, responded to his love with all that tenderness which had previously been the cause of so much misfortune to her.

She had been received by her subjects with transports of joy as great as those of grief which her loss had occasioned them. She had always loved them dearly, and her will being now unfettered, she proved as much, by showering upon them for many centuries all the benefits they could desire. Her power, assisted by the friendship of the Queen of the Fairies, preserved the life, health, and youth of the King, her husband, for ages. He only ceased to exist because no mortal can live for ever.

The Queen and the Fairy, her sister, were equally attentive to Beauty, her husband, the Queen, his mother, the old man, and all his family, so that there never was known people who lived so long. The Queen, mother of the Prince, caused this marvellous history to be recorded in the archives of her kingdom and in those of the Happy Island, that it might be handed down to posterity. They also disseminated copies of it throughout the Universe, so that the world at large might never cease to talk of the wonderful adventures of Beauty and the Beast.

[Pg 326]

FOOTNOTES:

[16] I have not thought it necessary to alter these initials, signifying those of "La Belle."

[17] A South American tribe (genus Erbus), distinguished from all other monkeys for their gentleness and intelligence. There are many varieties,—the white-fronted, the horned, the large-headed, the golden-footed, the weeper, &c., and their differences in colour are very considerable.

[18] Perhaps an allusion to the New Theatre in the Rue des Fosses, St. Germain. Vide page 272, note.

[19] At this period, the Grand Opera, or "Académie Royal de Musique," under the direction of the celebrated Lulli, was located at the Theatre du Palais Royal, which had been occupied by Molière from 1660 to his death in 1673. It was opened in 1674, with the opera of Alceste, and destroyed by fire on the 6th of April, 1763.

[20] Of this celebrated Fair a notice will be found in the notes to the Fairy Tales of Madame d'Aulnoy, page 65. It was visited by the royal family, and may be said to have been the birthplace of the opera comique and the vaudeville of France. It was suppressed in 1789.

[21] The most celebrated was that of Brioche, who is said to have been the inventor of that species of entertainment.

[22] Le Sage and other equally celebrated authors wrote for this theatre.

[23] The Italian company invited to France by Cardinal Mazarin, from 1645 to 1680, performed at the Hôtel du Petit Bourbon, the Théâtre du Palais Royal, and the Hôtel de Bourgogne, alternately with the French comedians. On the removal of the latter company to the Rue Quénégaud, the Italians remained in possession of the Hôtel de Bourgogne until the performance of the False Prude, in 1697, gave offence to Madame de Maintenon, and excited the anger of Louis XIV., who suppressed the Italian troop, and ordered seals to be placed on the doors of their theatre. Having obtained an audience to remonstrate, the King refused to listen to them, saying, "You have no reason to regret that Cardinal Mazarin induced you to quit your country. You came to France on foot, and have gained enough to return in a carriage."

They returned to Paris in 1716, at the invitation of the Duke of Orleans, and took the title of Comédiens du Régent.

[24] After the death of Molière, in 1673, transferred to the Rue Quénégaud. In 1680, the King gave the company the title of "Comédiens du Roy," and granted them a pension of 12,000 livres; but at the period at which this story was written, they had established themselves, by an Order in Council, in a tennis-court in the Rue des Fosses, St. Germain, where they erected a theatre after the designs of D'Orbay, in which they remained till 1770.


[Pg 327]

THE COUNT DE CAYLUS.


[Pg 329]

PRINCESS MINUTE AND KING
FLORIDOR.

There was, once upon a time, a King and Queen who died young, and left a very fine empire to the Princess, their only daughter, who was then but thirteen years of age. She imagined that she knew how to reign, and all her good subjects persuaded themselves into the same idea, without well knowing why: however, it is a profession which is not without its difficulties.

The King and Queen had at least the consolation, when dying, of leaving the Princess, their daughter, under the protection of a friendly fairy. She was called Mirdandenne, and was a very good woman, but she added to the defect of allowing herself to be prejudiced that of obstinacy in continuing so. As for the little Princess, she was so very diminutive, that they called her Minute.

Thus was this fine kingdom governed by prejudice and frivolity; for the Princess had never been corrected in the taste which she showed for trifles; and it was for her that all those little knickknacks were invented, with which we have since been overwhelmed.

This Princess exhibited the grandeur of her ideas by an act which I will select from a thousand such. She would not retain as General of her forces, nay, even exiled from her Court, a veteran distinguished for the services which he had rendered the State. And why? Because he had appeared in her presence with a hat bound with silver when his coat was laced with gold. She thought that a man who could be guilty of such negligence at Court would be also, for the [Pg 330] same reason, very capable of allowing himself to be surprised by the enemy. The discernment which she flattered herself as having shown in this instance, and the sound judgment which the Fairy distinguished in her most frivolous ideas, prove the existence of a delusion which would have been enough to turn a stronger head.

There was near this great country a little kingdom, so very small that I hardly know what to compare it to. A Queen Mother had for a long time reigned over it, in the name of Prince Floridor; but this good Queen died. Floridor, who was the most affectionate son possible, felt this loss acutely, and always retained a feeling of gratitude for the obligations he was under to her. One of the greatest was a perfect education—the most perfect, the most rigid, as far as concerned the body, which had rendered him as robust as active; and the mildest with regard to his mind, to which she had given both accomplishments and solidity. This young Prince was handsome and well formed. He governed wisely, without abusing his despotic power. His desires were well regulated—in a word, he would have been an amiable person in private life. His subjects adored him, and the strangers who visited at the Court agreed that he would have conferred happiness on the greatest empire. But one thing they were not aware of was, that he owed to a charming Ant a great number of his advantages. She had been attached to him from his infancy.

At the death of the Queen the good Ant was his sole consolation. He took no single step without going previously to consult this Ant, in a wood in the palace gardens, which she had chosen as her residence. He often abandoned the Court and its pleasures to go and converse with her. No weather prevented his presenting himself to her, and however severe might be the winter, she always came out of her anthill, which was the best regulated for an hundred miles round, and gave him advice full of prudence and wisdom.

You may easily have guessed that the pretty Ant of whom we speak was a fairy. Her history, which dates back seven thousand years, will be found brought down to the twenty-two thousandth year of the world at the four hundred and sixtieth page of the volume for that year. It would therefore have been easy for this Ant to give the King, whom she loved so well, several kingdoms—for Fairies dispose of them at their own pleasure,—but the Ant was prudent, and prudence [Pg 331] is always guided by justice. It was not that she did not heartily desire the advancement of Floridor, but she wished him to employ no means to obtain it but those that might increase the true glory with the love of which she had inspired his heart.

The Ant was naturally patient: she waited for an opportunity to bring to light the virtues of her pupil. The conduct of Minute, and the prejudice of Mirdandenne, soon furnished her with one. They were informed that the flame of revolt was kindled in the mighty kingdom of Minute. When this news had been confirmed by all the newspapers, the good fairy Ant desired King Floridor to set out, attended by a simple groom, to assist the Queen, his neighbour. She gave him, at parting, nothing but a common sparrow, a little knife, which is usually called a jambette,[25] and a walnut-shell. "My gifts," said she, "appear mean; but make yourself easy respecting them. They will be of service in your need, and I hope you will be satisfied with them." He readily assured her of that confidence which her former favours had rendered it but just that he should place in her, and having bidden her tenderly farewell, he set out on his journey; every inhabitant of his little kingdom regretting his departure as much as if he had been a brother, a son, or a bosom friend.

He arrived in the capital of Queen Minute's dominions; he found it in a state of commotion, as they had heard that a neighbouring king was advancing rapidly, followed by a terrible army. He was coming with the design of seizing the kingdom. Floridor learnt that the Queen had retired to a delightful residence she possessed near the capital, and in which she had collected all sorts of brilliant gewgaws. She had, however, a motive for this retirement: she wished to consider seriously and decide, without being interrupted, whether the troops which the Fairy had ordered to be levied to oppose the usurper should wear blue or white cockades. The Queen was, notwithstanding, at this time twenty years of age. King Floridor having ascertained the road which led to this country-house, proceeded there with all speed. His handsome face prejudiced Mirdandenne in his favour. The compliments which he paid to the Queen and her only increased the good opinion which his first appearance had inspired her with, and the offer of his services was all the better received as the state was in a very embarrassed situation. Minute appeared to Floridor to be charming.

[Pg 332]

From that moment the King fell desperately in love. The zeal and alacrity always inseparable from that passion were displayed in his words and actions, and shone in his eyes; and it was with extreme care he investigated the existing position of affairs. He wished to have recourse to the powers of Fairyland; but the blind prejudice of Mirdandenne had induced her long before to give her wand to Minute, with the idea of amusing her, and that Princess had made such a prodigal use of it, that it was worn out, and had neither strength nor virtue, particularly for important things. Floridor returned to the capital, but found there neither fortifications nor munitions of war.

Meanwhile the invader advanced nearer and nearer. Floridor saw only a rival in the person of the hostile king; and finding no other resource, he was obliged to propose to the Queen to take flight, offering her with pride an asylum in his dominions. Prudence suggested to him a line of conduct which his courage condemned; but it was necessary to save an unhappy sovereign, and he only made this proposition on condition of his being allowed to return and expose himself to every danger, and use every effort to restore to the Queen a throne which so legitimately belonged to her, the moment he had placed her person in safety in his little kingdom. Mirdandenne, convinced by all the King represented to her, accepted the proposition; but the Queen only consented to depart when they promised her that the horse she was to ride should have a rose-coloured harness, and Floridor had agreed to present her with the sparrow which the fairy Ant had given him on his leaving her. The bird was soon given, but though the departure was urgent, they had to wait till a harness such as the Queen wished for could be procured from the city. It came at length, and Floridor and Minute, with no other suite but Mirdandenne, took the road to the King's dominions. Floridor was enchanted at being allowed to conduct Minute to his own kingdom, and at believing himself to be useful to her he adored. To be in love and a traveller are two things which make people exceedingly talkative. Floridor, in announcing the limited extent of his states, at which he sometimes blushed, could not refrain from speaking of the obligations he owed to the good Ant. When he came, however, [Pg 333] to the details of their parting, the walnut, the little knife, and the sparrow appeared to the Queen very singular presents. She was very anxious to see the walnut: the King gave it to her without any scruples. As soon as it was in her hand, she cried, "Heavens, what do I hear!" She put her ear to it with the utmost attention, and then said, with surprise mingled with curiosity, "I hear very distinctly little voices of men, neighing of horses, trumpets, in short, a singular murmur. This is the prettiest thing in the world!" she exclaimed. While the King was himself occupied by that which amused her whom he loved, he perceived the scouts of the revolted army close upon them, and consequently ready to take them prisoners. At this perilous moment, by an involuntary movement, he broke the walnut, and out of it he saw issue thirty thousand effective men, horse, foot, and dragoons,[26] with artillery and all the necessary munitions of war. He placed himself at their head, and showing a bold front to the enemy, he made, without ever striking a blow, the most beautiful retreat in the world; he took possession in this way of the mountains he found on his road, and saved the Queen from the hands of her rebellious subjects. After this fine military manœuvre, which was not accomplished without much fatigue, and alarm at the danger the Queen had incurred, they halted several days on the mountain; but as all the country was up in arms, they perceived, on recommencing their march, another army, much more numerous than that which they had escaped, and which it would have been the height of rashness to give battle to. In this cruel situation, the Queen asked for the little knife which the Ant had given to him, to use for some trifling purpose; but finding that it did not cut to her fancy, she threw it away, saying, "There's a pleasant knife!" The moment it touched the ground it made a considerable hole in it. The King was struck with the talent of his jambette, and immediately cut with it deep entrenchments all round the mountain, which rendered their position impregnable.

[Pg 334]

When this operation was finished, which only occupied him the time necessary to make the circuit, the sparrow he had presented to Minute took wing, and flew to the summit of the mountain; then flapping its wings, it cried, in a terrible voice, "Leave me alone to deal with them; you are about to see a fine game. Let all descend the mountain, march upon the enemy, and fear nothing." He was instantly obeyed, and the sparrow raised the mountain as easily as if it had been a straw, and traversing the air with it, he let it fall upon the army of the enemy, crushing, no doubt, the greater part of them; the rest took flight and left the passage free. The King, who was solely occupied with the desire of seeing the Queen in safety, was anxious to put the horses to their speed; but as the march of an army is necessarily slow, he would have been glad if it had re-entered the walnut-shell. Hardly had he formed the wish when it actually did so. He put it in his pocket, and they arrived in the little kingdom, where the good Ant received them with every mark of sincere friendship.

When Floridor had made every arrangement for the accommodation of Minute, and was satisfied that she could want for nothing in the palace, he began to think of his departure, and he did so more cheerfully as the good Ant assured him of her attention to all that concerned the Queen. During the journey he had lately performed, and the short time he had passed in his own dominions, he had taken the opportunity of declaring his passion to Minute, which she had been kind enough to approve. At length he was obliged to leave her; their adieus were tender, and Floridor set out with no other assistance but that of a letter from Minute, addressed to her good and faithful subjects, in which she required them to obey the commands of King Floridor implicitly.

The good Ant neither gave him the walnut nor the little knife which he had returned to her when he came back: the Queen only begged him to accept from her hand the sparrow which he had given her, praying that he would always carry it about with him, as well as a scarf of nonpareille[27] which she had herself made for him. The King followed exactly the same road that he had taken in conducting the Queen, not only because lovers are gratified by seeing again the places which are associated in their memories with those whom they love, but because it was also the shortest cut.

[Pg 335]

When he was near the transplanted mountain, the sparrow, rising in the air, took it up with the same facility as before, and carried it back to the spot which it had formerly occupied. The sparrow then in that terrible voice which he knew how to assume when he wished, said to those whom he found shut up under the mountain, "Be faithful to Minute, and do what King Floridor shall command you in her name." This singular sparrow then disappeared.

The mountain, it seems, was hollow, so those who had found themselves enclosed in it were as if under a bell; they had wanted for nothing during the time of their imprisonment; all the soldiers and officers who saw the light of day again with the utmost pleasure, ran in crowds to Floridor, whose handsome countenance interested them, and looking upon him as a demi-god, they were ready to worship him. The King, moved by their obedience and the new vows of fidelity to the lawful Queen, which they took at his hands, received their respects but not their adoration, after having shown them the letter with which he was charged. He made the army pass in review, and chose from it fifty thousand of the finest men, and of those to whose devotion a general's success is mostly due. He established in his new army a very strict discipline, of which he was both the author and example; and it was with these troops that he became invincible—that he defied the countless forces of the usurper, whom he slew with his own hand in one of the last battles, and whose death restored to Minute a kingdom which she had entirely lost. Floridor marched through all the provinces of this great state, and re-established the authority of Minute, whom he then hastened to rejoin.

But what a change did he find in the character and mind of this lovely Queen? The counsels of the good Ant, and, above all, Love, and the wish to please and be worthy of Floridor, had completely corrected her only fault. She was ashamed of having always done little things with great assistance, whilst her lover had done such great things with so little.

They married, and lived happily ever after.

FOOTNOTES:

[25] A clasp or folding-knife.

[26] "Tant Cavalerie, infanterie que dragons" "Horse, foot, and dragoons," was, within my recollection, a familiar phrase expressive of any overpowering force or number. Dragoons were first raised in France by the Marshal de Brisac in 1600, and being trained to fight both on foot and horseback, were frequently in the seventeenth century thus distinguished from the general cavalry and infantry.

[27] Narrow ribbon used to embroider silk, satin, or velvet with, a favourite work of ladies in the last century; but, looking at the character of Minute, it is probable the author meant a scarf composed of nothing but the ribbon itself.


[Pg 336]

THE IMPOSSIBLE ENCHANTMENT.

Once upon a time there was a King who was very much beloved by his subjects, and who was equally fond of them. This Monarch had a great repugnance to marriage, and what was still more astonishing, love had never made the slightest impression on his heart. His subjects, however, pressed so strongly upon him the necessity of providing for the succession to the throne, that the good King finally consented to their request. But as no woman he had as yet seen, had awakened in him the faintest inclination to marry her, he resolved to seek in foreign lands that which his own had failed to present him with, and despite the severe and satirical remarks of all his countrywomen, both handsome and ugly, he set out on his travels, after having duly provided for the maintenance of order and tranquillity in his dominions. He would take no one with him but a single equerry, a very sensible man, but not particularly brilliant. Such companions are not always the worst upon a journey.

The King roamed in vain through several kingdoms, using all his best endeavours to fall in love; but his time not being come, he retraced his road to his own dominions, after two years' absence and fatigue, in the same state of indifference as he left them.

Impossible Enchantment.—P. 337.

[Pg 337]

It happened, however, that in traversing a forest he heard a most fearful squalling of cats. The worthy equerry did not know what to think of such a commencement of an adventure. All the stories of sorcerers that he had ever seen came into his head. As to the King, he was unmoved by it. Courage and curiosity combined to induce him to wait and see what would follow this strange and disagreeable interruption. The noise coming nearer and nearer, they at length saw an hundred Spanish cats rush by them through the Forest. You might have covered them all with a cloak, so well did they run together and so perfectly were they on the scent. They were closely followed by two of the largest monkeys that ever were seen. They were dressed in amaranth-coloured coats. Their boots were the prettiest and best made in the world. They were mounted on two superb English bull-dogs, and rode at full speed, blowing little toy-trumpets. The King, surprised at such a sight, gazed at them with great attention, when a score of tiny dwarfs appeared, some mounted on lynxes and leading relays of them, others on foot with cats in couples. They were dressed in amaranth like the huntsmen, which colour seemed to be the livery of the equipage. A moment afterwards he perceived a young female as remarkable for her beauty as for the proud air with which she rode a large tiger, whose paces were admirable.

She passed the King full gallop, without stopping or even saluting him; but though she hardly looked at him, he was enchanted with her, and his heart was gone like a flash of lightning.

All in agitation, he perceived a dwarf who had lagged behind the rest of the company. He addressed him with all that eagerness which the curiosity of love to obtain some information respecting the object of its admiration would naturally occasion. The dwarf informed him that the lady he had just seen was the Princess Mutine, daughter of King Prudent, in whose dominions they were at that moment. He told him, also, that the Princess was exceedingly fond of the chase, and that the pack he had seen pass was what she hunted rabbits with. The King asked nothing further, except the nearest road to the Court of King Prudent. The dwarf pointed it out to him, and spurred on his lynx to rejoin the hunt, and the King, with the impatience of a new-born passion, gave the spurs to his horse, and in less than two hours found himself in the capital of King Prudent's dominions. He was presented to the King and Queen, who received him with open arms, the more graciously on learning his name and that of his empire.

The beautiful Mutine returned from the chase shortly after [Pg 338] this presentation. Hearing that the Princess had killed two rabbits, he ventured to compliment her on so fine a day's sport, but the Princess made no reply. He was rather surprised at her silence, but he was still more so when he observed that during supper she was equally taciturn. He noticed only that there were moments when she appeared about to say something, but that either King Prudent or the Queen (who never drank at the same time) immediately commenced speaking. This silence, however, did not prevent the increase of his passion for Mutine. The King retired to the handsome apartment which had been assigned to him, and his worthy Equerry did not appear overjoyed when he found his royal master so deeply in love. He did not even conceal from him that he was sorry for it. "And why are you sorry?" inquired the King. "The Princess is so beautiful; surely she is all I could desire." "She is beautiful, I admit," replied the Equerry. "But to be happy, something is required besides beauty. Pardon me, sire, but there is something harsh in the expression of her features." "It is pride," said the King, "and very becoming in so beautiful a woman." "Pride or ill-nature, whichever you please; but the taste she exhibits in her amusements, and her choice of so many mischievous animals, are to my mind convincing proofs of a cruel disposition. Moreover, the care that is taken to prevent her speaking is to me a very suspicious circumstance. The King, her father, is not called Prudent for nothing. I don't fancy even her own name of Mutine. It appears to me only a softening down or a diminutive of the appellation which would truly be applied to her from the impression she has made on me. For you know better than I do, that it is too common a practice to gloss over the faults of persons of her rank."

The observations of the worthy Equerry were sensible enough, but as objections only increase love in the hearts of all men, and particularly in those of kings, who dislike being contradicted, this monarch the very next morning demanded the hand of the Princess in marriage. As the previous indifference of the King had become notorious, the triumph of the charms of Mutine was complete. Her hand was accorded to him—but on two conditions. The first, that the marriage should take place the very next morning; the second, that he [Pg 339] should not speak to the Princess until she was his wife. On this occasion the pretext for her silence was a solemn vow she had taken in consequence of—the first thing that came into their heads: and the enamoured King only saw in this circumstance the proof of a truly religious feeling. Those great precautions formed a new theme for the arguments of the Equerry, but they made no more impression than the former did. The King, after listening to them, closed the conversation by saying, "It has cost me a great deal of trouble to fall in love. I have done so at last. What the deuce wouldst thou have? I mean to remain in love."

The rest of that day and all the following was passed in dancing and feasting. The Princess was present, and took her part in all the entertainments without uttering a single word, and the first he heard her pronounce was the fatal "Yes," which bound her to him for life. As soon as she was married she threw off all restraint, and the first day did not pass without her having very liberally distributed a volley of abuse and a host of impertinences amongst her maids of honour. In short, the mildest expressions she made use of in return for the most particular services were characterized by rudeness and ill-temper. Even the King, her husband, was not exempted from this sort of language; but as he was very much in love, and, moreover, a good-natured man, he bore it all patiently.

A few days after their marriage the newly-wedded pair took the road to their own kingdom, and Mutine's departure was not regretted by any one in her Father's. The cordial reception King Prudent had always given to foreigners had no other motive than the hope of such a love as his daughter's charms had succeeded in inspiring—a passion which was too strong to pause for a better acquaintance with her mind and character.

The worthy Equerry had had too much reason for his remonstrances, and the King perceived it too late. All the time the new Queen was on the road she filled the hearts of her attendants with grief, anger, and despair. But once arrived in her kingdom, her ill-temper and ill-nature were redoubled. By the time she had been a month on her throne her reputation was perfect. She was acknowledged unanimously as the worst Queen in the world.

[Pg 340]

One day that she was taking an airing on horseback in a wood near the Palace, she perceived an old woman walking in the high road. She was very simply dressed. This good woman having made her the best curtsey she could, continued her route; but the Queen, who was only waiting for an occasion to give vent to her ill-humour, bade one of her pages run after the old woman, and bring her back. As soon as she was in her presence she said, "Thou art very impertinent to make me no lower a curtsey! Dost thou not know I am the Queen? I am more than half inclined to order my people to give thee an hundred lashes with their stirrup-leathers." "Madam," said the old woman, "I never knew exactly what difference there was in curtseys. It is clear I had no intention of being disrespectful." "How!" exclaimed the Queen; "does she dare to answer me? Tie her instantly to the tail of my horse. I will take her with speed to the best dancing-master in the city, and he shall teach her how to make me a curtsey."

The old woman begged for mercy whilst they tied her, but in vain. She even boasted of the protection of the Fairies. The Queen heeded the warning as little as the prayer. "I care for them as little as I do for thee," she exclaimed, "and wert thou even thyself a Fairy, I would serve thee the same way."

The old woman suffered herself patiently to be fastened to the tail of the horse; but the instant the Queen would have given him the spur, he became motionless. In vain she endeavoured to stick the rowels into his side. He had become a horse of bronze. The cords which fastened the old woman changed at the same moment to garlands of flowers, and the old woman herself suddenly appeared eight feet high. Then fixing on Mutine her fiery and disdainful eyes, she said to her, "Wicked woman! unworthy of the royal title thou bearest, I desired to judge myself if thou didst deserve the bad character they give thee in the world. I am satisfied thou dost, and thou shalt soon see whether the fairies are as little to be feared as thou fanciest." So saying, the Fairy Paisible (for it was she herself) whistled through her fingers, and a chariot was seen advancing, drawn by six of the most beautiful ostriches in the world, and in this chariot they recognised the Fairy Grave, looking more grave even than her name. She was [Pg 341] at that time the Elder of the Fairies, and presided in all cases affecting the Fairy community. Her escort was composed of a dozen other Fairies, mounted on crop-tailed dragons. Notwithstanding her astonishment at the appearance of the Fairies, Queen Mutine retained the proud and malevolent expression which was so natural to her.

When this brilliant company had descended and dismounted, the Fairy Paisible related her adventure to them. The Fairy Grave, who was very severe in the execution of her office, approved of Paisible's conduct, and then gave it as her opinion that the Queen should be transformed into the same metal as her horse; but the Fairy Paisible objected to this, and with unequalled generosity, exerted herself to moderate all the rigorous measures that were suggested for the punishment of the Queen.

At length, thanks to the kind Fairy, she was condemned only to be her slave until she was confined, for I had forgotten to tell you that she was expecting to become a mother. This sentence, which was pronounced in full court, decreed that, on her recovery, the Queen should be permitted to return to her husband, and that the infant she had given birth to should remain the slave of the Fairy in her place.

They were polite enough to announce to the King the sentence that had been passed on his wife. He was compelled to give his assent to it. What could the worthy Prince have done, supposing he had objected?

After this act of justice, the Fairies returned each one to her own affairs. Paisible waited an instant the arrival of her equipage, which she had sent for. It was a little car made of various coloured bugles, drawn by six hinds, white as snow, with caparisons of green satin, embroidered with gold. One touch of her wand changed the Queen's dress into the habit of a slave. In this attire she was made to mount an obstinate mule, and to follow, at a hard trot, the car of the Fairy.

After an hour's jolting, the Queen arrived at Paisible's mansion. As you may easily believe, she was in great affliction, but her pride prevented her from shedding a single tear. The Fairy sent her to work in the kitchen, after giving her the name of Furieuse, that of Mutine being too gentle for the wickedness she was inclined to.

[Pg 342]

"Furieuse," said the Fairy Paisible, "I have saved your life, and perhaps conscience may hereafter reproach me for it. I will not give you any heavy work to do, out of compassion for the unborn infant, who you are aware is to become my slave. I will, therefore, remove you from the kitchen, and set you only the task of sweeping my apartment, and combing my little dog Christine." Furieuse knew there was no opposition to be made to these commands. She took, therefore, the sensible course of doing exactly as she was bid as long as she was able.

After some time, she gave birth to a Princess, as lovely as day; and when her health was re-established, the Fairy lectured her severely respecting her past life, exacted from her a promise to behave better in future, and sent her back to the King her husband. One may imagine, from the kindness shown by the Fairy Paisible to so wicked a woman, what affectionate care she would take of the young Princess who was left in her hands. She soon perfectly doated on her, and determined to have her endowed by two fairies besides herself. She was a long time deciding on the two godmothers she should select, for she feared that the resentment they all felt against the mother might be extended to the child. At length, she thought that the Fairies Divertisante and Eveillée were amongst the best natured of them, and invited them accordingly. They arrived in a Berlin,[28] made of Italian flowers, drawn by six grey ponies with beautiful flame-coloured manes. Eveillée's robe was composed of parrots' feathers, and her hair was dressed en chien fou.[29] The Fairy Divertisante had a robe of cameleon's skin, which made her appear alternately in every imaginable colour.

Paisible gave them both a capital reception, and to insure their good offices, I have been confidently informed, that (during the excellent supper they sat down to) she managed to make them just merry enough with wine. Having taken this wise precaution, she had the lovely infant brought to them. It was in a cradle of rock crystal, and swathed in clothes of scarlet embroidered with gold; but its beauty was an hundred times more brilliant than its apparel.

[Pg 343]

The young Princess smiled at the Fairies, and made little attempts to kiss them, which so pleased them that they determined to place her, as far as it laid in their power, beyond the reach of the anger of their Elders. They began by giving her the name of Galantine.

The Fairy Paisible then said to them, "You know that the punishments we Fairies usually inflict, consist in changing beauty to ugliness, intellect to imbecility, and in many cases resorting to transformation. Now, as it is impossible for us to endow her with more than one gift each, my advice is that one of you should bestow upon her beauty, the other intelligence, and that I, for my part, should render it impossible for any one to change her form."

This advice was adopted, and followed upon the spot. As soon as Galantine was endowed, the two Fairies took their leave, and Paisible gave all her attention to the education of the little Princess. Never was such attention so well rewarded, for at four years of age her grace and beauty had already begun to make a noise in the world. In fact, they made too much noise, for the circumstances of the case having been reported to the Council of Fairies, Paisible, one morning, saw the Fairy Grave enter the court-yard of the Palace, mounted on a lion. She wore a long robe, very full, and consequently very much plaited, of sky-blue colour, and on her head a square cap of gold brocade.

Paisible recognised her with as much anxiety as vexation, for her dress and the animal she rode proved that she came to promulgate some decree: but when she perceived that she was followed by the Fairy Rèveuse, mounted on a unicorn, and dressed in black morocco, faced with changeable taffeta, and wearing also a square cap, she no longer doubted that this visit had some very serious object.

In short, Fairy Grave, opening the business, said to her, "I am much surprised at the conduct you have pursued towards Mutine. It is in the name of the whole body of Fairies, whom she has insulted, that I come to reprimand you. You were at liberty to forgive her offences to yourself, but you had no right to pardon her for those which she had [Pg 344] committed against the entire community. Nevertheless, you treated her with mildness and kindness during the time she resided with you. I therefore come to do strict justice, and punish an innocent child for the acts of a guilty mother. You have endowed her with beauty and intelligence, and you have also raised an obstacle against her transformation; but though I cannot deprive her of the gifts you have bestowed upon her, I know how to prevent her deriving any advantage from them as long as she lives. She shall never be able to get out of an enchanted prison which I am about to build for her, until she shall find herself in the arms of a lover who is beloved by her. It is my business to take care that such an event shall never occur."

The enchantment consisted of a tower of great height and size, built of shells of all colours, in the middle of the sea. On the lowest floor there was a great bath-room, into which the water could be admitted at pleasure. The bath was surrounded by steps and slabs, on which you could walk with dry feet. The first floor was devoted to the apartment of the Princess, and it was really a magnificent affair. The second was divided into several rooms. In one you saw a fine library, in another a wardrobe full of beautiful linen and superb dresses for all ages, each more splendid than the other. A third was appropriated to music, a fourth was entirely filled with the most agreeable wines and liqueurs, and in the last (which was the largest of all), nothing was to be seen but wet and dry sweetmeats, and preserves of every description, and all sorts of pies and patties, which by the power of the enchantment were kept always as warm as they were when first taken out of the oven. The tower was terminated by a platform on which there was a garden laid out full of the finest flowers, which were renewed and succeeded each other unceasingly. In this garden was also seen a fruit tree of each sort, on which as fast as you gathered one fruit another appeared in its place. This lovely spot was ornamented by green arbours, rendered delicious by the shade and fragrance of the flowering shrubs that formed them, and the songs of the thousand birds that frequented them.

When the Fairies had placed Galantine in the tower, with a governess named Bonnette, they remounted the whale that had taken them there, and retiring a certain distance from [Pg 345] this grand edifice, Fairy Grave, by a tap of her wand on the water, assembled two thousand of the most ferocious sharks[30] in the ocean, and ordered them to keep strict watch around the tower, and tear in pieces every mortal who should be rash enough to approach it; but as ships are not much afraid of sharks, she also sent for a quantity of remoras,[31] and commanded them to form an advanced guard, and stop, without exception, every vessel that by design or accident shaped its course in that direction.

Fairy Grave felt so fatigued with having done so much in so short a time, that she requested Fairy Rèveuse to fly to the top of the tower and enchant the air about it so powerfully and completely that not even a bird should be able to go near it. The Fairy obeyed; but as she was an exceedingly absent being, she forgot some of the necessary ceremonies, and made some few mistakes. If the enchantment of the water had not been more perfect than that of the air, the safe keeping of Galantine, which they took so much trouble about, would have been greatly endangered by sea.

The good governess occupied every instant of her time in the proper education of Galantine; and although she looked upon all the accomplishments that the Princess acquired as completely thrown away on one who would never have an opportunity of displaying them to the world, she neglected nothing that could tend to the improvement of her mind and the cultivation of her talents, in all imaginable arts and sciences.

When the Princess had attained the age of twelve she appeared to the governess a perfect prodigy. All the fine qualities she discovered in her caused her deeply to deplore the sad fate imposed on so amiable a person. Galantine, who knew nothing about herself, perceiving her one day more melancholy than usual, entreated to know the reason of it so urgently, that Bonnette related to her all her own history and that of the Queen her mother.

[Pg 346]

Galantine was thunderstruck at this recital. "I had never before," she exclaimed, "reflected on my position. I fancied that when I was old enough I should leave this retreat: but if I am condemned never to do so, of what value is life to me? Better surely would it be for me to die." The Princess, after this burst of grief, remained silent for some time, then added, "You say, my dear Bonnette, that the spell which is cast upon me cannot be broken until I shall love some one who loves me. Is this so difficult a matter? I don't know what it may be, but I would endure anything that could assist to release me from this prison." Bonnette could not help smiling at the simplicity of Galantine, and then answered, "To love and to be beloved, it is necessary that some young Prince should enter this tower to see and be seen by you, and that he should be one who intends to marry you, otherwise his appearance here would not be correct; now you know that it is not possible for any man to approach these walls. Have I not told you all the precautions that have been taken by sea and by sky. You must, therefore, my dear Galantine, make up your mind to pass your days in this solitude."

This conversation produced a great change in the Princess. No amusements had charms for her any longer. Her melancholy became excessive. She passed her days in weeping and in devising plans to escape from the tower.

One day that the Princess was sitting in her balcony, she saw an extraordinary figure emerge from the water. She called Bonnette immediately to come and observe it. It had the appearance of a man with a bluish countenance, and ill-curled hair of a sea-green colour. He approached the tower, and the sharks made no opposition to his progress. "In my opinion," said the Governess, "it is a Mer-man." "A man do you say," exclaimed Galantine; "let us go down to the gate of the tower, we shall see him better there." As soon as they reached the gate, the Mer-man stopped to gaze on the Princess, and at her sight made several signs of admiration. He said something to her in a very hoarse voice; but as he found his language was not understood, he had recourse again to signs. He had in his hand a little rush-basket filled with the rarest shells. He presented it to the Princess, who took it, and in her turn made signs to thank him; but as [Pg 347] night was coming on she retired, and the Mer-man plunged under water.

As soon as Galantine had reached her own apartment, she said to her Governess, sorrowfully, "I think that man frightful. Why did the villainous sharks who guard me allow such an ugly man to pass them, in preference to one who was better looking? for I suppose they are not all like him." "Not any like him, I should say," replied Bonnette; "and as to the sharks allowing him to pass, I presume that, being inhabitants of the same element, they do not harm each other. They may even be his relations, or at least friends."

A few days after this first adventure, Bonnette and Galantine were attracted to one of the windows of the tower by what appeared to them a singular sort of music, and which indeed proved to be so. There was the same Mer-man that they had already seen, who, always up to his waist in the water, and his head covered with reeds, blew with all his might a species of conch-shell, the sound of which was something like that of our ancient goat's horns. The Princess again descended to the gate of the tower, and courteously accepted the coral and other marine curiosities which he presented to her. After this second visit, he came every day under the windows of the Princess, diving and grimacing, or playing on the charming instrument I have described to you. Galantine contented herself with curtseying to him in the balcony; but no longer came down-stairs, notwithstanding the signs by which the Mer-man implored her.

Some days afterwards, the Princess saw him appear in company with another of his species of the other sex. Her hair was dressed with much taste, and her voice was charming.

This addition to the company induced Galantine and Bonnette to descend again to the gate of the tower. They were much surprised when the lady (whom they now saw for the first time) after having tried several languages, spoke to them in their own, and complimented Galantine on her beauty. She perceived that the basement story, or bath-room, of which I have spoken, was open and full of water. "Here," said she, "is a place made expressly for our reception; for it is impossible for us to live entirely out of our element." She immediately entered, and reclined as one does in a bath, and her [Pg 348] brother (for she was the sister of the Mer-man) placed himself beside her in a similar attitude. The Princess and her governess sat down on the steps which were continued round the apartment.

"I suspect, madam," said the Syren, "that you have abandoned your residence on the earth in consequence of being beset by crowds of lovers. If that be really the cause of your retirement, you will not obtain your object here; for my brother is already dying for love of you, and when the inhabitants of our great city have perceived you, he will certainly have them all for his rivals."

The brother, who imagined she was speaking of him, at that moment made signs of assent with his head and his hands, and continued to do so when she was not speaking of him at all.

The Syren expressed to her the regret of her brother at not being able to make himself understood. "I am his interpreter," she continued, "thanks to the languages which I was taught by a fairy." "You have fairies, then, also amongst you?" said Galantine, accompanying the question with a heavy sigh. "Yes, madam," replied the Syren, "we have a few; but, if I am not deceived, you have suffered some injuries from those who inhabit the earth? At least the sigh which escaped you would justify me in so believing." The Princess, who had not been enjoined secresy on the subject, recounted to the Syren all that Bonnette had told her.

"You are much to be pitied," said the Syren, when Galantine had finished her story. "Nevertheless your misfortunes may not be without a remedy; but it is time to terminate my first visit." The Princess, delighted at the hope she held out to her, said a thousand kind things to her, and they separated with a promise to see one another frequently.

The Princess appeared charmed with this adventure. Independently of the hope the Syren had inspired her with, it was much to have found some one with whom it was possible to enjoy a little society. "We shall make the acquaintance," said she to her governess, "of several of these Mer-men, and they may not all be as hideous as the first we have seen. At any rate we shall not be always alone." "Good heavens," said Bonnette; "how easily young people do flatter themselves. I tell you I am afraid of those folks. But what say you," continued she, "to the handsome lover of whom you have made [Pg 349] a conquest?" "I say that I shall never love him," replied the Princess, "and that he is exceedingly disagreeable to me; but," pursued she, "I would fain discover if he cannot, by means of his relative the Fairy Marine, contrive to do me some service." "I repeat to you," insisted Bonnette, "that those odd-coloured faces and great fish-tails are alarming." But Galantine being younger, was consequently bolder and less prudent.

The Syren came to see her several times, and always talked to her of her brother's affection; the Princess, constantly occupied by her ideas of escaping from prison, encouraged the conversation, and at length induced the Syren to promise she would bring the Fairy Marine to pay her an early visit, and that she would instruct her what to do.

The Fairy came with the Syren the very next morning; the Princess received her as her liberator. Some short time after her arrival she requested Galantine to show her over the Tower, and to take a turn with her in the garden, for (with the assistance of two crutches) she could manage to walk about, and as she was a Fairy, she was able to remain out of the water as long as she pleased, only it was necessary for her to moisten her forehead occasionally, for which purpose she always carried a little silver fountain suspended from her girdle.

Galantine acceded to the request of the Fairy, and Bonnette remained in the hall to entertain the rest of the company. When the Fairy and the Princess had entered the garden, the former said, "Let us lose no time. Let us see if there is anything I can do to serve you." Galantine told her all her history, not omitting the smallest details; and the Fairy then said to her, "I can do nothing for you, my dear Princess, on the land, my power does not extend beyond my own element; but you have a resource, and one in which I can assist you with all the art I possess. If you will do Gluatin the honour to marry him, an honour which he most ardently aspires to, you can come and live with us. I will teach you in a moment to dive and to swim as well as we do. I will harden your skin without blemishing its whiteness, and so prepare it, that the coldness of the water, in lieu of inconveniencing you, shall give you the greatest pleasure. My cousin," added she, "is, as you may suppose, one of the best [Pg 350] matches in the ocean, and I will do so much for him in consideration of your alliance that nothing shall have ever equalled your mutual happiness."

The Fairy spoke with so much fervour, that the Princess hesitated to refuse, and requested a few days to consider. As they were about to rejoin the company, they perceived a vessel in the distance. The Princess had never before seen one so distinctly, as none had ever ventured to come so near the Tower. They could easily distinguish on the deck of this ship a young man reclining under a magnificent pavilion, and who appeared to be very attentively surveying the Tower by means of a telescope; but the distance was still too great for them to see anything more.

The vessel beginning to recede, Galantine and the Fairy returned to the company, the latter much pleased at the progress of her negotiation. She told the Princess, on leaving her, that she should shortly come again to know her answer.

As soon as the Fairy was gone, Galantine related to her governess all that had passed between them. She was very sorry to see that her pupil was half inclined to yield to the Fairy's persuasions. She was dreadfully afraid of being compelled in her declining years to become an old Syren herself. To avert all the misfortunes she foresaw, she hit upon the following idea. As she could paint miniatures to perfection, she set to work, and by the next morning produced one of a young man with fair hair, dressed in large curls, the finest complexion in the world, blue eyes, and his nose slightly retroussé; in fact, presenting an assemblage of all the features that could compose a charming portrait, and we shall see in the end that some supernatural power must have assisted her in a work which she had undertaken solely to show Galantine the difference between a man of the world and her marine adorer, and so dissuade her from a marriage which was not at all to her taste.

When she presented her work to her, the Princess was struck with admiration, and asked her if it were possible that any man on earth could resemble that portrait. Bonnette assured her that there were many such, and some even handsomer. "I can scarcely believe it," replied Galantine, "but alas, neither the original of this portrait, nor any one [Pg 351] like him, can ever be my husband. They will never see me, nor I them as long as I live. Oh, how miserable is my fate!"

Nevertheless, Galantine passed the whole day in gazing on this miniature. It had the effect Bonnette anticipated. It ruined Gluatin's affairs, which had previously been put in pretty good train; but the governess almost repented having painted so handsome a face, as the Princess gave up eating and drinking in order to have more time to gaze upon it. If ever a portrait was capable of inspiring a real passion, it was assuredly in this case and under the circumstances here related.

The Fairy Marine returned a few days after the visit we have described, to ascertain what were the intentions of Galantine; but this young creature, engrossed by her new passion (for she was positively in love with the portrait), could not control herself as prudence would have suggested. She not only broke off with the Fairy abruptly, but, what was worse, she exhibited so much contempt and aversion for Gluatin, that the Fairy, indignant at the style of her refusal, left the Princess with a determination to be revenged.

In the meanwhile the Princess had made a conquest she was unconscious of. The vessel she had seen so near her residence had on board the handsomest Prince in the world. He had heard of the Enchanted Tower, and determined to go nearer to it than any one had yet done. He possessed such excellent glasses, that in surveying the Tower, simply from a motive of curiosity, he caught sight of the Princess, and the best proof of the goodness of his glass, and that he must have seen her distinctly is, that he fell desperately in love with her.

Like a young man and a new lover, two conditions in which nothing is thought too hazardous, he was eager to cast anchor near the Tower, lower a boat, and encounter all the dangers that the enchantment could threaten him with; but all his crew upon their knees implored him not to venture. His Equerry, who was more frightened than any, or whose knowledge of the circumstances rendered him more competent to form an opinion, was most eloquent. "You would lead us all to certain death, my Lord," said he; "deign to return on [Pg 352] shore, and I promise you to go in search of the Fairy Commode. She is a relation of mine, and has always been very fond of me. I will answer for her zeal and her skill. I am perfectly sure she will do you good service." The Prince yielded, but very reluctantly, to so many good arguments. He landed therefore on the nearest point of land, and despatched his Equerry to find his relative, and implore her protection and assistance. In the meanwhile he ordered a tent to be pitched on the sea shore, and, glass in hand, sat incessantly looking either at the Princess or at her prison, and his imagination becoming more and more excited, often presented to him its own creations for realities.

At the end of a few days the Equerry returned with the Fairy Commode. The Prince received her with the greatest demonstrations of affection. The Equerry had informed her during their journey of the state of the case. "In order to lose no time," said she to the Prince, "I will send a white pigeon, in which I place implicit confidence, to examine the enchantment. If he finds a flaw in it anywhere, he shall enter the garden that crowns the Tower, and I will order him to bring back some flowers as a proof that he succeeded in finding an entrance. If he can get in, I will soon find a way to introduce you." "But," said the Prince, "can I not, by means of your pigeon, send a note to the Princess, declaring the passion with which she has inspired me?" "Certainly you can," said Commode, "and I advise you to do so." The Prince immediately wrote the following letter:—

"Prince Blondin to Princess Galantine.

"I adore you, and I am aware of your destiny. If, beautiful Princess, you will deign to accept the homage of my heart, there is nothing I will not undertake to render myself the happiest of men by terminating your misfortunes.—Blondin."

When this note was written, they tied it round the neck of the Pigeon, who only awaited his dispatches, for he had already received his instructions. He rose gracefully into the air, and flew off as fast as his wings would carry him; but when he approached the tower there issued from it a furious wind that repelled him violently. He was not, however, to be disheartened by such an obstacle, and after making many [Pg 353] circles round and round about the building, he discovered the weak point which the Fairy Rèveuse had left in the enchantment. He slipped through it instantly, and flew down into the garden to wait for the Princess and to rest himself.

The Princess generally took her walk alone; from inclination, because a passion engrossed her heart; from necessity, because the Governess could no longer ascend to that height without great fatigue. As soon as the Pigeon saw her appear, he flew to her in the most flattering manner. Galantine caressed him, and seeing a rose-coloured ribbon round his neck, she wondered what it was put there for. How great was her surprise when she perceived the note! She read it, and this was the answer she returned by the Pigeon:—

"Princess Galantine to Prince Blondin.

"You say that you have seen me, and that you love me. I cannot love you, nor promise to love you, without having seen you. Send me your portrait by the same courier. If I return it to you, hope nothing; but if I keep it, be assured that in working for me you work for yourself.—Galantine."

She fastened this letter in the same manner as they had done that which she had just received, and dismissed the Pigeon, who did not forget that he was ordered to bring back a flower from the garden; but as he was well aware of the importance lovers often attach to trifles, he stole one from a bouquet the Princess wore in her bosom, and flew away.

The return of this bird gave the Prince such extreme delight, that, but for the anxiety he was still under, he might perhaps have lost his senses. He wanted to send the Pigeon back instantly with a miniature of himself, which, by the greatest chance in the world, he happened to have amongst his baggage; but the Fairy insisted on an hour's rest for her courier, which the Prince employed in writing verses to send with his portrait.

The Pigeon, duly furnished with miniature and verses, set out once more for the tower. The Princess was not certain he would return so soon, but she was looking out for him, notwithstanding. She was in the garden, and had said nothing of this last adventure to her Governess, for she began to feel that love of mystery and reserve with which a first passion [Pg 354] usually inspires one. She eagerly detached the miniature from the Pigeon's neck, and her surprise was infinite when, on opening the case, she discovered that the portrait of Prince Blondin perfectly resembled that which Bonnette had painted from fancy. It was one of those fortunate accidents which it is impossible to account for.

The delight of Galantine was extreme at making this agreeable discovery; and to express in the prettiest possible way her own sentiments, she took the Prince's miniature out of its case, put in its place the one she thought best of the many which Bonnette had painted of her, and immediately sent the Pigeon back with it, who began to be rather fatigued, and would not long have been able to serve two lovers who kept up a correspondence so uncommonly active.

Prince Blondin had kept his eyes constantly turned in the direction of the tower, awaiting the return of his courier. At length he saw the blessed Pigeon approaching; but what were his feelings as soon as he could discern that the bird had fastened round his neck the same case that he had taken away with him! He was nearly dying with grief. The fairy, who had never left him, consoled him as well as she could, and took herself from the Pigeon's neck the case, which he even refused to look at. She opened it, and pointed out to him his error. In an instant he went into a transport of joy that could only be compared for its intensity to that he had just endured of affliction. "We will lose no time," said Commode; "I can only make you happy by changing you into a bird; but I will take care that you shall be re-transformed at the right moment." The Prince, without hesitation, consented to the transformation, and to anything else which could assist him to approach the person he adored. The good Commode thereupon touched him with her wand, and he became in an instant the prettiest little Humming-bird in the world, joining to the attractions which nature has bestowed on that charming bird that of being able to speak in the most agreeable way possible.

The Pigeon received fresh orders to conduct him to the garden. Galantine was astonished to see a bird she had no knowledge of; but his being accompanied by the Pigeon put her heart in a flutter, and the Humming-bird, flying to her, said, "Good morning, beautiful Princess." She had never before [Pg 355] heard a bird speak, and this novelty increased the gratification with which she received this one. She took him on her finger, and he immediately said to her "Kiss, kiss Colibri." She did so with great pleasure, over and over again. I leave you to imagine if the Prince was delighted, and if he was not at the same time very much vexed that he was only a Humming-bird, for lovers are the only persons in the world who are happy and miserable at the same time.

Commode, however, knew by her art that this was exactly the moment to restore the Prince to his natural form, which she did so quickly that the Princess, in the twinkling of an eye, found herself pressed to the heart of a lover whom she loved.

The spell was broken. That instant the tower trembled and rocked to his foundations. Its walls even began to open. Bonnette, who was below-stairs, in the greatest alarm ascended to the terrace, at least to perish with the Princess. The rocking of the tower increased as she mounted the staircase, and when she arrived at the top and saw the whole building lean over and on the verge of falling into the sea, she fainted outright.

At the same moment the two fairies, Commode and Paisible, arrived in a chariot of Venetian glass, drawn by six eagles of the largest size. "Save yourselves quickly," they cried to the two lovers. "The tower is falling, and you will perish with it." They leapt into the fairy car, without having had time to say a word to each other; but the Prince managed at the same moment to fling the Governess, still in her swoon, into the bottom of the car. Scarcely had they begun to rise in the air, when the tower toppled over, and, with a horrible noise, fell, a mass of ruins, into the sea. The Fairy Marine, Gluantin, and his friends, in order to be revenged on the Princess, had sapped the foundations.

Marine, perceiving that her designs were foiled by the intervention of the two Fairies, determined to try if she could not by open war obtain possession of Galantine. She suddenly formed an immense chariot out of some exhalations, and, entering it with all her family, filled every available space in it with oysters in their shells, fragments of rock, stones, and other trifles of that description. With this chariot and this ammunition she caused herself to be wafted [Pg 356] by a high wind to the sea-shore, to intercept the car of glass. She did even more—she commanded all the wild ducks and sea-fowl of every sort for ten leagues round to come in flocks to darken the air, and oppose the landing of the Fairies. This order was executed with a quacking and squalling that was insupportable.

Our two lovers thought themselves lost; but as they had a taste for the destruction of enchantments, they wished to try what they could do against this. The Fairies, however, did not consider it necessary. Commode produced from the box-seat of the car a great quantity of petards and rockets, which she had provided apparently for the purpose of making a display of fireworks. But whatever might have been her reason for bringing them, she now used them with much effect, for she directed so many against these troublesome fowl, that they were compelled to disperse. The enemy in the chariot then had recourse to their last weapons. Not one of the Marine party doubted that, with the oysters and stones, they should shatter the glass car to fragments in a few moments. It was not a bad idea, and we may even presume that they would have achieved their object if the Fairy Paisible had not taken out of her pocket a burning-glass which she always carried about with her.

It is best to be candid. I frankly admit that I never very clearly understood for what purpose she constantly carried that particular utensil. But she placed it, however, on this occasion, in such a position that it speedily warmed her enemies after a fashion as new as it was disagreeable. They uttered the most fearful shrieks, and the exhalations being dispelled by the power of the sun, all the Marine family, with the Fairy herself, were precipitated pell-mell into the ocean, leaving our two victorious Fairies to continue their journey to the dominions of Queen Mutine.

On arriving in them they found she was dead. She had endeavoured, partly from fear of some new punishment, partly from conviction, to control her temper. In this attempt she had swallowed so many violent expressions, and stifled so many wicked impulses, that these prodigious and continued efforts, after causing her several severe fits of illness, at length terminated fatally.

She had been dead, indeed, some years. The good king [Pg 357] who had married her, quietly enjoyed the sweets of his widowhood; and though he had no other children than the daughter whom he never expected to see again, nothing in the world could have induced him to marry a second time. He governed his estates very peacefully, and the good King Prudent, Galantine's grandfather, had just arrived, notwithstanding his great age, to pass the holidays with him.

What joy for these two worthy sovereigns. The whole Court soon participated in it, as the news spread of the arrival of the Fairies with a charming Princess, who was their King's daughter.

The marriage of the two lovers was fixed for the next morning. Couriers were instantly dispatched in all directions, to beg the Fairies generally to honour the nuptials with their presence. You may believe that Fairy Grave was not forgotten. In short, they arrived from all quarters. Festivities, balls, tournaments, grand banquets, succeeded each other for many days. They bantered, and at the same time thanked, Fairy Rèveuse, for the blunder she had made in her enchantments. She defended herself by observing that lovers were always more ingenious than magicians were skilful, and that to prevent their success it would require an enchantment that was impossible.

I forgot to tell you that the Governess recovered from her swoon immediately on her arriving at the Palace. In short, everybody was satisfied, and the Fairies, after sharing in the festivities for several days, departed, each to manage her own affairs, or to enjoy new pleasures. Our lovers were always constant, and became the happiest sovereigns on the face of the earth.

FOOTNOTES:

[28] A light sort of travelling carriage still in use abroad, and so called from the city in which it was invented.

[29] Literally "mad dog fashion." One of the many extravagant whims of the day.

[30] Requin, chien de mer, Landais. In Cotgrave, requien, who describes it as "a certaine ravenous, rough-skinned, and wide-mouthed fish, which is good meat." It is generally, however, the name given to the white-shark, and said by some writers to be derived from the word Requiem—a far-fetched allusion to the vast number of victims to its voracity.

[31] The sea-lamprey, a small fish that, by adhering to the keels of ships, was supposed to have the power of stopping them, or at least of retarding their progress.


[Pg 358]

BLEUETTE AND COQUELICOT.

There was once upon a time a Fairy named Bonnebonne, who became weary of the great offices in Fairy Land to which her character and talents had elevated her. She retired from state affairs, and chose for her retreat an island situated in the midst of a very beautiful lake, bordered by the most rich, smiling, and luxuriant scenery. This charming retreat was called the "Island of Happiness." It is known to have existed; it is even believed by some to be always in the country adjoining their own; but the geographers have not yet laid it down in any map, and I have never read of any traveller fortunate enough to land on it. It is sufficient for us, however, that we have a full account of it in the annals of the Fairies.

Bonnebonne, as we have already stated, weary of the world, and not caring to pay court to it, demanded of the Queen of the Fairies permission to withdraw from it altogether, and went to reside in the Island of Happiness. It was there that, with the finest library and all the knowledge she had acquired in the world, she became the most clever of all the fairies. She made all her neighbours happy, and gratitude was the foundation of her authority. Independently of a natural inclination to oblige, a sentiment which retirement from the great world by no means tends to diminish, there is a great satisfaction in seeing those around us happy.

In order to enjoy this real pleasure, and at the same time to avoid being overwhelmed with foolish petitions, she had placed, at short distances from each other, columns of white marble, to which those addressed themselves who had either [Pg 359] requests or complaints to make. These columns were constructed in such a manner that, on speaking in a whisper to them, they repeated every word distinctly, and in the same tone of voice, in a cabinet of the castle. Bonnebonne had lodged in this cabinet a niece whom she had brought up as a fairy, and who gave her an account every evening of all that the columns had reported, and the Fairy then pronounced her decisions.

The principal occupation of Bonnebonne was to educate and make children happy: she gave them for breakfast as well as for luncheon everything they could wish for in sweetmeats and pastry; but when they had been a fortnight in this happy dwelling, they cared no more for sugar-plums, but passed the day in running on the grass, gathering nuts in the woods, or flowers in the gardens. They went on the lake in pretty boats, which they rowed themselves—in short, they did all day just whatever they liked, and happiness consists principally in liberty. It is true that they had nurses and tutors, but they were generally invisible. They informed Bonnebonne of anything their pupils had done that was wrong, and for this she reprimanded the offender, but always with mildness, for she was the most kind-hearted woman in the world.

Sometimes the nurses and preceptors made themselves visible, and on these occasions they might be seen supping all together on the turf, or dancing and singing, or amusing themselves in making toys and dolls; in short, nothing had an air of severity in this happy abode, and no one left it without the greatest regret. But as all must submit to fate, and the Fairies themselves are obliged to obey it, when the young people had attained a certain age—that is to say, twelve or fifteen years,—and when the lessons of the Fairy had made a sort of impression on the minds of her pupils, and she considered them sufficiently well informed to enter into the world, she was obliged to send them home, which she always did laden with caresses and presents, and assurances of a friendship the proof of which she frequently gave them in the after course of their lives.

Amongst the number of children confided to her care by their parents, there was a little girl named Bleuette, so pretty and so good that Bonnebonne preferred her to all the rest, [Pg 360] and loved her to distraction. She was affectionate without being troublesome, and lively without being fatiguing; her face expressed the sweetness of her character: her beauty increased with her age, and possessed that peculiar brilliancy which is so dazzling. It is to her rare beauty that we owe the familiar saying, still in use amongst us, when we speak of anything which has dazzled us, "J'ai vu des Bleuettes."

A boy, about two years older than Bleuette, also inhabited the Island of Happiness; he was called Coquelicot: his face was charming, it was as bright as his mind, and his pretty little graceful ways were equally pleasing to Bonnebonne. That which rendered both more charming was, that in their infancy they became inseparable, and that the vivacity of the one was tempered by the mildness and tenderness of the other. Bonnebonne daily enjoyed observing the impression and progress which true love makes upon innocence and ingenuousness. She was constantly occupied in the study of it, and felt that all other happiness, which she knew so well how to procure, could not be compared to it; indeed, what felicity can be placed in the balance with that of two hearts which love has united by similarity of taste and temper?

Coquelicot, quick as he was, perhaps, indeed, too soon excited, was moderate and even mild in all that regarded Bleuette, who on her part, was only animated and vivacious in matters which concerned Coquelicot. The birth and progress of these sentiments had been their delight; the sweet emotions which they exhibited were the charm of Bonnebonne's existence, for she said to herself a hundred times, "Good Heavens! how pretty are these poor children! How they love each other! How happy they are; they never think of leaving my Island. Never have more happy subjects inhabited my empire!"

On an evening of one of the most beautiful of summer days, all the lovely children were playing and amusing themselves in different parts of this enchanted residence, when all at once there appeared in the air a car drawn by six flame-coloured griffins: the car was of the same colour, relieved with black ornaments: it bore the Fairy Arganto. Her hair was powdered brown with a slight sprinkle of red.[32]

[Pg 361]

Her dress was of the same colour as the car. Her griffins alighted at the portico of the castle, whither Bonnebonne and her niece had repaired to do the honours to the Fairy, and assist her to descend. After the first compliments, Arganto confessed to Bonnebonne that not being able to understand the pleasures of retirement, and disgusted by some disagreements at Court, she had wished to judge for herself of the pleasures and cares of a life like hers, and that, in order to be perfectly enlightened on the subject, she had come to the resolution of passing some days with her.

Bonnebonne kindly replied that she would willingly satisfy her, and hide nothing from her. "The beauties of nature," added she, "are the pictures which I study; its fruits are my treasures; its secrets the object of my researches, and my pleasures are solely dependent on the happiness of others. Infancy is the state of humanity which can be made the most happy; you will find me, therefore, only surrounded by the prettiest children nature has produced."

So saying, she led Arganto further into the Island, at each step encountering troops of little children of both sexes and all ages, whose natural manners inspired true gaiety; some danced, others played at blindman's-buff, some amused themselves playing at "ladies and gentlemen," in short they passed quickly from one fancy to another; their characters were thus developed, and it was easy to imagine what each would become at a more advanced age. Arganto thought this recreation of Bonnebonne very poor; she judged of it as a person of fashion, that is to say, with contempt. She told her companion that she could not conceive the pleasure of such amusements, unless some ingenuity was employed to improve them: it was in vain that Bonnebonne eulogized them. She would not be persuaded; at length, continuing their walk, they met Bleuette and Coquelicot, conversing together, who saw nothing but themselves in nature, and who had no pleasure, no wish, no occupation nor will but in common.

Bonnebonne called them, and they ran towards her with that confidence and affection which her goodness and their gratitude had inspired them with. Arganto was struck with the charms of their countenances, and said as much to them; they blushed, and thanked the Fairy for each other. "I [Pg 362] agree," said she to Bonnebonne, "that nature could not present a more agreeable picture than that of these lovely children; but," continued she, "are they as intelligent as their features would seem to denote?" "Most assuredly," replied Bonnebonne, "it may not be perhaps the kind of intelligence to please you, for it is quite natural. Besides this, they love each other more than they choose to acknowledge, especially to a stranger." The Fairies then embraced them a thousand times, and left them together.

Bonnebonne agreed with Arganto not to trouble herself about her during her stay, but to occupy herself as usual with her studies; but the latter could not help speaking of the impression which Bleuette and Coquelicot had made on her, and she requested they might keep her company.

Arganto was born wicked, and wickedness looks with impatience on the happiness of others, and is always at work to destroy it, even if with no other motive but that of doing mischief. Upon these fearful principles, she employed the time of her visit in pointing out to her young companions the poverty and insipidity of the place they inhabited; they, whom nature had formed for the delight and ornament of the most brilliant Court; and then she gave them a glowing description of the abodes of kings. "You are enchanted," said she, continually, "with the life which you lead; but do you know any other? The splendour of the world, the fêtes which are given to beauty alone, the preference which is at all times accorded to it, are the real triumphs of a pretty girl;" it was thus she spoke to Bleuette. "And you," addressing herself to Coquelicot, "with the spirit you possess, what would you not do at Court? You certainly must be brave; and of what are you not capable?"

This wicked discourse made by degrees the impression which Arganto wished upon the minds of these amiable children. They sought each other's company as usual, but they found each other no longer occupied with themselves alone: they began by self reproaches, and at length made reciprocal confessions, for they could no longer talk of anything else but the opinions of the Fairy. Love, and the hope of not being separated, it is true, were the foundation of their projects; but curiosity, and the novelty of all which Arganto had told them, and above all, self-love, the poison of [Pg 363] life, perverted at length their innocent minds; they abandoned themselves to the wicked fairy, who, in order to make them fall more easily into the snare she had laid for them, did not neglect to destroy the respect and gratitude they entertained for Bonnebonne, by telling them, "She is a provincial fairy, whose taste is not at all refined. Her character not suiting the Court, she is too happy to be able to keep you with her; she sacrifices your fortunes to the pleasure and use which you are of to her." It was by such discourse as this that she induced these children to become ungrateful: she promised them not to forsake them, and assured them that, being a more powerful fairy than Bonnebonne, they need not be anxious about anything. She did even more,—she warned them of all that the good fairy would say to them when she should learn the resolution they had taken: in short, they promised to follow her after she had again given them her word that they should not be separated.

When Arganto was well assured of the part they had taken, she said to Bonnebonne that it was time she should cease to trouble her in her retreat, and begged her, at the same time, to allow her to take with her Bleuette and Coquelicot. The good Fairy, who had perceived nothing, and who had no suspicion of the designs of Arganto, as she had herself ordered them to pay court to and obey the Fairy, whilst she was occupied in her cabinet, and above all, because a good heart cannot imagine ingratitude: Bonnebonne, as I said before, consented to Arganto's request, with the understanding, however, that the proposition should please the young couple, feeling quite convinced that they would never wish to leave her. The question was put to them on the spot. What was the astonishment of Bonnebonne when they accepted the proposal to abandon her and follow the Fairy! They set at nought all her reasonings, so full of friendship and good advice; they were too deeply prejudiced against her. Bonnebonne then said to them, with mildness, "It is conviction which makes happiness. You would cease to be happy in this abode, because you imagine greater felicity awaits you in another country: depart, let nothing detain you," said she, with tears in her eyes, "may you be contented."

Bleuette and Coquelicot were moved by this tender discourse, and on the point of falling at the feet of this adorable [Pg 364] fairy, and conjuring her to forget that they had ever had the idea of separating from her; but the emotion they felt at the moment made them both faint away, so that the wickedness of Arganto was not required to counteract this return of good feeling. She herself was touched by so tender a scene, and at the moment almost repented having caused so much sorrow to three persons, who were only to blame for placing too much confidence in her. Not knowing exactly what to do, she prepared to set out alone, when Bonnebonne said, "I might complain of the manner in which you have abused the reception I have given you: but the great fruit of study and of solitude is forgiveness of injuries. I am not, therefore, at all affected by it myself, but I feel for the misfortune of these young people—I love them both." "I will not take them away, then," replied Arganto; "you see they have refused me, and you cannot doubt the attachment they feel for you." "No," replied Bonnebonne, "I feel myself compelled to beg you to take with you those I loved best in my retreat; you have perverted them, their hearts are no longer what they were: they would henceforth only live with me out of compliment. If they had sufficient art to disguise it from me, could I be ignorant of their thoughts? Take them, then, I conjure you, and at least protect them amongst the dangers to which you expose them." "As you absolutely wish it," replied Arganto, "I will do so." She then carried them, fainting as they were, both into her car, and her griffins flying at a rapid pace speedily landed them in the Kingdom of Errors.

The King who governed it at that time thought himself the greatest of princes. Flattery had persuaded him that he was descended from the gods. In consequence of this idea he caused himself to be worshipped by his subjects. His throne of gold and precious stones, upon which he only appeared once a month, was surrounded by tigers and elephants, bound with chains of the same precious materials, and covered with superb embroidery. Without entering into further details of the ceremonies of this court, suffice it to say, the King exhibited upon every occasion all the ostentation with which a crown could inspire him. Arganto was his best friend, the partaker of his pleasures, and it was into the superb palace which she possessed at his court that she conducted Bleuette and Coquelicot.

[Pg 365]

The moment they recovered from their swoon they had the pleasure of seeing each other. The magnificence of the place in which they found themselves astonished them. Their uncertainty did not last long: Arganto entered to dissipate it. They immediately asked her to give them some news of Bonnebonne. The Fairy informed them that Bonnebonne had consented to their advancement, and had herself conjured her to take them away. Bleuette and Coquelicot were comforted by this account, for they had been afraid of displeasing her. Arganto then said to them, "Here, Bleuette, is the apartment prepared for you; your household shall be formed to-night. Meanwhile, here are your waiting-women: let me present them to you."

At these words, there appeared a dozen handsome young persons, carrying all the innumerable trifles which have become so necessary to a lady's toilet. They were followed by an equal number of valets-de-chambre, bearing boxes and caskets, and who in a few moments fitted up and set out a most superb dressing-table. Garments adapted to the season then appeared in such great profusion that they covered all the chairs, beds, and couches in this large apartment. When everything was arranged according to the Fairy's pleasure, she said to Bleuette, "This all belongs to you, and you have nothing to study but how to avail yourself of it." She then showed her a basket full of ornaments and a jewel-case crammed with precious stones as perfect in themselves as they were tastefully set, saying to her, "Beautiful Bleuette, this little jewel-box will amuse you, but let us now proceed to the apartment I destine for Coquelicot." Bleuette followed the Fairy without being able to reply; her surprise and astonishment appeared to her like a beautiful dream. They all three passed into another apartment. It was plain, but neat. Four valets-de-chambre, who were in the second room, stept forward and presented him with clothes as tasteful as they were superb, in order that he might select those in which he wished to appear that day. They then opened the door of a sort of large cabinet, containing all kinds of musical instruments, also a library well stocked with historical works, but more particularly with romances and fairy tales.

"Behold," said Arganto, "what will amuse you when you are weary of the pleasures of society, or require rest after exercise." She then commanded the person she had chosen for [Pg 366] his equerry to appear. "You may," said she to Coquelicot, "take his advice; he is a man to be depended on, and a good companion. Show," continued she to this gentleman, "the things of which you have the charge." There then appeared servants in livery, who carried the most magnificent and perfect arms for war and the chase. And even this was not all: "Let us," said Arganto, "look out of the window." They obeyed her, and perceived fifty saddle-horses, led by five-and-twenty grooms, superbly clothed and well mounted. "There," said she, "are your horses for hunting and riding." She then ordered out the carriages: berlins, berlingots, vis-à-vis, calêches of all kinds, defiled under the windows, drawn by the prettiest and best groomed horses in the world, with their manes tastefully plaited. Coquelicot, as much astonished as Bleuette, observed also the same silence. "Learn, both of you," said Arganto, "to make good use of what I have just given you; you are both charming, but believe me, dress is necessary to beauty." She then left them in their separate apartments, questioning their new domestics on the particular use of all the novelties that surrounded them, for they dared not yet give any orders. They at length dressed themselves, and Coquelicot proceeding to the apartment of Bleuette, they were mutually astonished at the agreeable effect of their attire, and uttering a hundred praises of the good taste of Arganto, they became more than ever convinced of the truth of what she had told them respecting Bonnebonne, for whose simplicity they began to blush.

All the Court learning the arrival of Bleuette and Coquelicot, either from curiosity or the desire to please the Fairy, came with great eagerness to pay her a visit. The King himself did her this honour. The praises of the men of Bleuette, and those of the women of Coquelicot, gratified both exceedingly. They found that the language spoken in this country had an agreeable style hitherto quite unknown to them; they were struck by it, and thought of nothing but imitating it. Bleuette, from the first day, perceived that Coquelicot was not made for his fine clothes, and that he had a borrowed air which the other young men who surrounded her had not: in short, both were occupied by a thousand new fancies. They saw each other every day, it is true, but they sought each other less; and the tender conversations, in which simplicity, ingenuousness, [Pg 367] candour, and truth had formerly so large a share, no longer took place between them; they were only anxious now to place their words and turn their phrases according to the style which they had been so much struck with in their new residence.

The dress, the magnificence, and the brilliancy with which they dazzled the whole court caused every one to give them the titles of prince and princess. They knew well that they did not deserve them from their low birth; but the mistake of others gratified their vanity. They agreed between them to keep their real condition secret, and hoped privately that their beauty and merit would in time really raise them to that dignity.

Coquelicot had perfectly handsome features and a charming figure. He performed all kinds of feats with marvellous success; almost all the ladies were pulling caps for him. Bleuette was not in the least jealous of his conquests, and although in such situations one is not always just, she had at least the generosity not to reproach him in any way. In fact, she deserved reproaching equally herself, for the Court and its grand airs had changed her heart and mind as much as his. Bleuette, on her part, thinking of nothing but how to attract admiration and to outvie all the other beauties of the Court, became a practised coquette. You may easily judge, knowing what I have told you, how long she was in availing herself of all the presents of the Fairy. She very soon invented fashions, which all the other ladies, handsome or ugly, were, in spite of themselves, obliged to follow. During some time this gratification of her vanity only presented to her view jealous rivals, men captivated and admiring, flattered or plunged into despair, by her glances and her deceptive and provoking speeches; but Bleuette was so beautiful, she had so much wit and grace, that, even when making them most miserable, she was the theme of their praises and the object of attraction to all the finest people of the Court. She also conducted herself with so much prudence that no one could cast the least slur on her.

Coquelicot, on his part—"fickle adorer of a thousand different objects"—flattered his vanity without ever satisfying his heart.

Such was the true and unhappy situation in which these [Pg 368] two persons, formerly the most loving and amiable possible, found themselves, when this same vanity, the shoal on which so much happiness has been wrecked, was itself violently offended.

It must be remembered that, dazzled by the splendour which surrounded them, they had both received with pleasure the titles of princes; but nothing is unknown to the world, and such vanity would awaken a contempt for falsehood, in those who have no higher motive for despising it. A youth, brought up, as they had been, by Bonnebonne, in the Island of Happiness, having wandered from it, as many others had done, in passing through several countries, had been attracted to the Court inhabited by Bleuette and Coquelicot. He was astonished to hear the grand titles of prince and princess added to their well-known names, he ran, however, to the Fairy's palace to embrace them; but far from receiving him kindly, they did not condescend even to recognise him. He complained to everybody who would listen to him, and all the Court were very soon informed that Princess Bleuette and Prince Coquelicot were the children of, 'twas true, very honest people, but who were nothing but poor shepherds. The Court is a region in which nothing is forgiven, and where anything ridiculous is sought for with the greatest eagerness; therefore, it profited by this affair. Songs and epigrams were circulated in a moment; and the objects of their attack could not pretend ignorance of them, for, according to the praiseworthy custom of the authors of such works, the first copies were addressed to the persons most interested. Coquelicot was bantered by one of the wits of the Court; but he demanded very prompt satisfaction, and the combat, in which he killed his adversary, brought him honour in a place where truth is so rare, notwithstanding that a falsehood is never pardoned. They rendered justice to his valour, but they no longer paid him the same attentions; for in short, although riches can obtain everything, the ridicule attached to low birth combined with vanity is rarely overlooked at Court. As for Bleuette, whom wounded pride rendered still more haughty than ever, and who hoped by her beauty and accomplishments to stifle the disagreeable reports which had been spread about her former pastoral condition—Bleuette, I must tell you, had, in addition, the mortification to see some letters which she had had the imprudence [Pg 369] to write handed round amongst her acquaintances. Her attraction diminished and her reputation tarnished (however unjustly) hurt her deeply, and induced her to reflect seriously. Recalling then the remembrance of her former happiness, the words of Bonnebonne presented themselves to her mind.

Bleuette being thus agitated by all the recollections which led her back to her first sentiments for Coquelicot, looked only with regret upon the conduct she had pursued towards him since she had been at Court. She was ashamed of it, but it was not possible for her to speak to him openly on the subject. "He will consider," said she, "my most sincere repentance to be caused either by coquetry or jealousy; and I cannot complain, or he will believe that my birth being known and made public in this country, has deranged my projects of advancement, and that I am brought back to him only by a feeling of shame and necessity." "No," continued she, "I will not betray to him all the weakness of my heart, or all the pain which the false friendship of Arganto has caused me."

Similar ideas tormented Coquelicot. He thought all those who treated him, as formerly, like a prince, did so in mockery, and to ridicule him, and felt satisfied that those whose conduct was changed by the reports which had been spread respecting him would give him continual annoyance; this situation, distressing as it really could well be, was not the sole evil which oppressed him. The remembrance of Bleuette, tender, faithful, simple, and innocent; the recollection of the residence of Bonnebonne, and that of the charm and peace that pervaded it, awoke in his soul so great a disgust for all that the world calls pleasure, and which he had himself taken for happiness, that he determined to fly from the Court. They had but to speak to one another, and they would have been convinced and consoled; but still young and inexperienced, they determined on the thing of all others to be avoided in love and friendship—silence: for want of confidence increases and envenoms the wound we have received, as well as that which we have inflicted on others; thus, therefore, not daring to look at each other (so much had the shame of their proceedings made an impression on their hearts), they each separately, and without communicating their intentions to any one, made up their minds to quit the Court. [Pg 370] Solitude appeared to offer them the only chance of consolation. They departed the same morning, just as if they had been acting in concert. They chose the plainest dresses they could find, not without regretting those they had brought with them to the Court; they would have felt still nearer approaching their former innocence, in habits so vividly recalling the scenes of their past felicity. They took nothing away with them but the portraits which Arganto had had painted of them in miniature, representing them as they were when they left the Island of Happiness.

They set out by very different roads; but in proportion as they left the Court behind them, nature spoke to their hearts. The song of the birds, the serenity of the air, the view of the country, that sweet freedom which it inspires,—all recalled their former happiness, all softened them, and drew them towards each other. "But how shall we ever find each other again," said they unceasingly to themselves. "I should have convinced him," thought Bleuette. "She would have pardoned me," sighed Coquelicot: "I will return to the Court. But how can I reappear there (for each thought the other had remained in the palace) in this miserable condition?" The remembrance of Bonnebonne again presented itself to their mind. It is friendship we invoke in adversity. They resolved then to have recourse to her kindness. If they had not themselves known the delights of the Island of Happiness, if they had not been anxious to revisit the scenes of their former felicity, it is so natural to desire a similar habitation, that we often set out in search of it on the description of others. Each, therefore, turned their steps in the direction of the Island. It was very easy for them to find the way, they who had once so worthily inhabited it. They intended to address themselves to one of the columns of which I have spoken, and which conveyed to the ears of the Fairy all the requests of her petitioners. What was their surprise, or rather what was their delight, to meet with each other again on a spot and in a dress which explained everything! After the first transports, in which the eye hardly sufficed to satisfy the soul, the first words they uttered were, "Pardon me, I cannot live without you." The pardon which is mutually sought is soon granted; and it was no longer necessary to implore the aid of the Fairy. The unison of their desires had already transported [Pg 371] them into the most beautiful spot in the Island. They were anxious to excuse themselves, and request the forgiveness of Bonnebonne; but she prevented them. "I know all that has happened to you," said she, "I have shared your troubles, although they were deserved. Enjoy the happiness of my empire, you are now better able to appreciate its delights."

They lived happily because they never ceased to love each other, and they died at the same moment. Bonnebonne bestowed their names upon two wild flowers[33] in order to immortalize their memory.

[Pg 372]

FOOTNOTES:

[32] Hair-powder was at this period of various colours. Brown hair-powder was called "Maréchal," and grey powder was extremely fashionable in England as late as 1763.

[33] The corn-flower and the poppy.


[Pg 373]

MADEMOISELLE DE LUBERT.


[Pg 374]

The Princess Camion.—P. 373.


[Pg 375]

THE PRINCESS CAMION.

There was once upon a time a King and Queen who had but one son, who was their only hope. Fourteen years had elapsed from the time of his birth, and the Queen had had no other children. The Prince was marvellously handsome, and learnt with facility everything they wished him to know. The King and Queen loved him to distraction, and their subjects placed all their affections on him, for he was affable to everybody, and yet he knew well how to distinguish between the people who approached him. His name was Zirphil. As he was an only son, the King and Queen resolved he should marry as early as possible, in order to secure the succession to the crown should they unhappily be deprived of Zirphil.

They therefore sought on foot and on horseback a Princess worthy of the heir-apparent,[34] but none was found suitable. At length, after a most diligent inquiry, the Queen was informed that a veiled lady desired a private audience of her Majesty, on business of importance. The Queen immediately ascended her throne in the audience-chamber, and ordered the lady to be admitted. The lady approached, without removing her white crape veil, which reached to the ground. When she arrived at the foot of the throne, "Queen" said she, "I am astonished that, without consulting me, you have thought of marrying your son. I am the Fairy Marmotte, and my name is sufficiently celebrated to have reached your ears." "Ah, Madam," said the Queen, quickly descending from her throne, in order to embrace the Fairy, "you will easily pardon me my fault when you learn that I have only listened to all the wonders which have been told me about you as to a nursery tale; but now that you do me the favour to come to my palace, I no longer doubt your power, and beg you will honour me with your advice." "That is not a sufficient answer to a Fairy," replied Marmotte. "Such an excuse might perhaps satisfy a common person, but I am mortally offended; and to begin your punishment, I command you to marry your Zirphil to the person I have brought with me."

[Pg 376]

At these words she felt in her pocket, and, drawing out a toothpick case, she opened it, and out of it came a little ivory doll, so pretty and so well made that the Queen, despite her grief, could not help admiring it. "This is my goddaughter," said the Fairy, "and I have always destined her for Zirphil." The Queen was bathed in tears. She conjured Marmotte, in the most touching words, not to expose her to the ridicule of her people, who would laugh at her if she announced to them such a marriage. "Laugh, indeed, will they, Madam?" said the Fairy. "Ah, we shall see if they have reason to laugh, Madam. Ah, we shall see if they will laugh at my goddaughter, and if your son ought not to adore her. I can tell you that she deserves to be adored. She is small, it is true; but she has more sense than there is in all your kingdom put together. When you hear her talk, you will be surprised yourself; for she can talk, I promise you. Now, then, little Princess Camion," said she, to the doll, "speak a little to your mother-in-law, and show her what you can do." Then the pretty Camion jumped upon the Queen's palatine,[35] and paid her a little compliment so tender and so sensible that her Majesty suspended her tears to give the Princess Camion a hearty kiss.

"Here, Queen," said the Fairy, "is my toothpick-case; replace your daughter-in-law in it. I wish your son to get well accustomed to her before marrying her. I think it will not be long first. Your obedience may soften my anger; but if you act contrary to my orders, you, your husband, your son, and your kingdom, shall all feel the effect of my wrath. Above all, take care to replace her in her case early in the evening, for it is important that she should not be out late."

[Pg 377]

At these words she raised her veil, and the Queen fainted with fright when she perceived an actual live Marmot[36]—black, sleek, and as large as a human creature. Her women came to her assistance, and, when she recovered from her swoon, she saw nothing but the case that Marmotte had left with her.

They put her to bed, and went to inform the King of the accident. He arrived in a great fright. The Queen sent every one away, and, with a torrent of tears, she related her adventure to the King, who would not believe it till he saw the doll that the Queen drew from the case. "Just heaven!" cried he, after having meditated a little, "is it possible that kings should be exposed to such great misfortunes? Ah! we are only placed above other men in order to feel more acutely the cares and afflictions attached to our existence." "And in order to give the greater example of fortitude, sire," added the Doll, in a small, sweet, and distinct voice. "My dear Camion," said the Queen, "you speak like an oracle."

At length, after a conversation of an hour between these three persons, it was decided that they should not yet divulge the contemplated marriage, and that they should wait until Zirphil, who was gone hunting for three days, should have returned, and consented to obey the command of the Fairy, which the Queen undertook to communicate to him. In the interim, the Queen, and even the King, shut themselves up, in order to converse with the little Camion. She had a highly-cultivated intellect, she spoke well, and with a singular turn of thought which was very pleasing. But although she was animated, her eyes had a fixed expression which was not agreeable, and the Queen was annoyed by it, as she began to love Camion, and feared that the Prince might take a dislike to her.

More than a month had elapsed since Marmotte had appeared, but the Queen had not yet dared to show Zirphil his intended. One day he entered her room whilst she was in bed. "Madam," said he, "the most singular thing in the world occurred to me some days since whilst I was hunting. I had wished to conceal it from you, but at length it has become so extraordinary, that I must positively tell you of it.

[Pg 378]

"I followed a wild boar with great ardour, and had pursued it into the midst of a forest without observing that I was alone, when I saw him throw himself into a hole which opened in the ground. My horse having plunged in after it, I continued falling for half an hour, and at length found myself at the bottom, without any hurt. There, instead of the boar, which I confess I feared to find, I saw a very ugly woman, who begged me to dismount from my horse and follow her. I did not hesitate, and giving her my hand, she opened a little door which had previously been hidden from my view, and I entered with her a saloon of green marble, where there was a golden bath, covered with a curtain of very rich stuff; the curtain rose, and I saw in the bath a person of such marvellous beauty that I thought I should have fallen to the ground. 'Prince Zirphil,' said the lady, who was bathing, 'the Fairy Marmotte has enchanted me, and it is by your assistance alone that I can be released.' 'Speak, Madam,' said I to her: 'what must I do to help you?' 'You must either,' said she, 'marry me instantly or skin me alive.' I was as much surprised at the first proposition as alarmed at the second. She read in my eyes my embarrassment, and said, 'Do not imagine that I jest, or that I propose to you an act of which you may repent. No, Zirphil, dismiss your fears; I am an unfortunate Princess to whom the Fairy has taken an aversion; she has made me half-woman, half-whale because I would not marry her nephew, the King of the Whiting, who is frightful, and even more wicked than he is hideous. She has condemned me to remain in my present state until a Prince named Zirphil shall fulfil one of the conditions that I have just proposed to you; to expedite this matter, I caused my maid of honour to take the form of a wild boar, and it is she who has led you hither. I must now tell you that you cannot leave this spot until you shall have fulfilled my desire in one manner or the other. I am not mistress here; and Citronette, whom you see with me, will tell you that it cannot be arranged otherwise.'

"Imagine, Madam," said the Prince to the Queen, who listened attentively, "in what a state this discourse left me." Although the face of the Whale-Princess pleased me excessively, and her charms and misfortunes rendered her extremely interesting, her being half a fish horrified me exceedingly; and the idea of skinning her alive threw me into utter despair. 'But, Madam,' said I to her, at length (for my silence became as stupid as insulting), 'is there not a third way?' I [Pg 379] had hardly uttered those unlucky works, than the Whale-Princess and her attendant uttered shrieks and lamentations which were enough to pierce the vaulted roof of the saloon. 'Ungrateful wretch! cruel tiger! and everything that is most ferocious and most inhuman!' exclaimed the former. 'Thou wouldst, then, that I should also be condemned to the torture of seeing you expire? For if thou dost not resolve to grant my request, the Fairy has assured me thou wilt perish, and I shall remain a whale all my life!'

"Her reproaches pierced my heart; she raised her beautiful arms out of the water, and joined her charming hands to implore me to decide quickly. Citronette was at my knees, which she embraced, screaming loud enough to deafen me. 'But how can I marry you?' said I; 'what sort of ceremony can be performed?' 'Skin me,' said she tenderly, 'and do not marry me, I prefer that.' 'Skin her!' screamed the other, 'and fear nothing.' I was in a state of perplexity which I cannot describe; and while I considered what I ought to do, their shrieks and tears were redoubled, till I knew not what would become of me. At length, after a thousand and one struggles, I cast my eyes once more on the beautiful Whale, and I confess that I found in her features an inexpressible charm. I threw myself on my knees close to the bath, and taking her hand, 'No, divine Princess,' said I to her; 'I will not skin you, I would rather marry you!'

"At these words joy lighted up the countenance of the Princess, but a modest joy, for she coloured, and casting down her beautiful eyes, 'I shall never forget,' said she, 'the service that you render me; I am so penetrated with gratitude, that you may expect anything of me after this generous resolution.' 'Do not lose time,' cried the insupportable Citronette; 'tell him quickly all that he must do.' 'It is sufficient,' said the Whale-Princess, blushing again, 'that you give me your ring, and that you should take mine; there is my hand, receive it as a pledge of my faith.' I had hardly made this tender exchange, and kissed the beautiful hand which she presented to me, when I found myself again upon my horse in the midst of the forest. Having called my people, they came to me, and I returned home without being able to utter a word, I was so completely astounded. Since then, I am transported every night without knowing how, into the beautiful green saloon, where I pass the night near an invisible [Pg 380] person; she speaks to me, and tells me that the time is not yet come for me to know who she is."

"Ah, my son," interrupted the Queen, "is it possible, then, that you are really married to her?" "I am, Madam," replied the Prince; "but although I love my wife infinitely, I would have sacrificed this affection if I could have escaped from the saloon without resorting to that alternative." At these words, a little voice, proceeding from the Queen's pocket, said, "Prince Zirphil, you should have flayed her; perhaps your pity may be fatal to you."

The Prince, surprised at this voice, remained speechless. The Queen in vain tried to conceal from him the cause of his astonishment; he felt quickly in her pocket, which was hanging upon the arm-chair near the bed, and drew from it the toothpick-case, which the Queen took from his hand and opened. The Princess Camion immediately came out of it, and the astonished Prince threw himself on his knees by the bed-side of the Queen to inspect her nearer. "I vow, Madam," cried he, "that this is my dear Whale in miniature. Is this some pleasantry, and have you only wished to frighten me, by allowing me so long to believe that you would not approve of my marriage?" "No, my son," at length the Queen replied; "my grief is real, and you have exposed us to the most cruel misfortunes by marrying that Whale, for, in fact, you were promised to the Princess Camion whom you see in my hands." She then related to him what had passed between her and the Fairy Marmotte, and the Prince allowed her to say all she wished without interruption, so much was he astonished to find that she and his father had agreed to a proposition which was, on the face of it, so ridiculous. "Heaven forbid, Madam," said he at length, when the Queen had finished, "that I should ever oppose the designs of your Majesty, or that I should act contrary to the wish of the King, my father, even when he commands me to do anything as impossible as this appears to me to be; but had I consented, could I even have fallen in love with this pretty Princess, would your subjects ever have——" "Time is a great teacher, Prince Zirphil," interrupted Camion; "but it is done; you cannot now marry me, and my godmother appears to me a person who will not patiently suffer any one to break their word with her. Diminutive as I am, I feel as acutely as the largest [Pg 381] woman would the disagreeable nature of this adventure; but as you are not so much to blame, except perhaps for having been a little too hasty, I may persuade the Fairy to mitigate the punishment."

After these words Camion was silent, for she was exhausted with having said so much. "My dear darling," said the Queen, "I implore you to take some repose for fear you should be ill and not in a condition to speak to the Fairy when she comes to afflict us; you are our consolation, and however she may punish us, I shall not feel it so deeply if Marmotte does not take you from us." The Princess Camion felt her little heart beat at these words of the Queen: but being quite overcome, she could only kiss her hand, and let fall upon it some tiny tears. Zirphil was moved at this incident, and begged Camion to permit him to kiss her hand in his turn: she gave it him with much grace and dignity, and then re-entered her case. After this tender scene the Queen rose, in order to go and tell the King what had passed, and take every rational precaution against the anger of the Fairy.

The following night Zirphil, in spite of the guard which they had doubled in his apartment, was carried off at midnight, and found himself, as usual, in the company of his invisible wife; but instead of hearing any of those sweet and touching things which she was accustomed to say to him, he heard her weep, and found she kept aloof from him. "What have I done?" said he at last, when quite tired of pursuing her. "You weep, dear Princess, when you ought to console me for all the peril I may have incurred, as the effect of my tenderness." "I know all," said the Princess, with a voice interrupted by sobs—"I know all the misery that may happen to me; but, ungrateful man! it is of you I have most to complain." "Oh, heavens!" cried Zirphil, "what have you to reproach me with?" "The love which Camion bears to you," replied the voice, "and the tenderness with which you have kissed her hand." "The tenderness," replied the Prince, quickly; "oh! divine Princess, do you know so little of that I feel for you as to accuse me so lightly. Besides, even if Camion could love me, which is impossible, as she only saw me for a moment, can you be alarmed, knowing my love for you, and after the proofs which I have given you of my [Pg 382] attachment? It is you whom I should accuse of injustice: for if I have looked at her with any attention, it is because her features reminded me of yours, and that being deprived of the pleasure of beholding you, anything which resembled you gave me the greatest gratification. Be visible again, my dear Princess, and I will never look on any other woman."

The invisible lady appeared to be consoled by these words, and approaching the Prince, said, "Pardon me this little movement of jealousy. I have too much reason to fear they will separate me from you, not to feel afflicted by a circumstance which appeared to me to announce the commencement of that misfortune." "But," said the Prince, "may I not know why you are no longer permitted to show yourself? For if I have delivered you from the tyranny of Marmotte, how is it possible that you should be again subjected to it?" "Alas!" said the invisible Princess, "if you had decided to flay me we should have been very happy; but you had such a horror of that proposition, that I did not dare press you further on the subject." "By what chance," interrupted the Prince, "was Camion informed of this adventure, for she told me nearly the same thing?"

Hardly had he finished these words, when the Princess uttered a frightful shriek. The Prince, in surprise, rose hastily. But what was his alarm when, in the middle of the apartment, he perceived the hideous Marmotte, who held by the hair the beautiful Princess, now no longer either half a whale or invisible! He was about to seize his sword when the Princess, in tears, begged him to moderate his anger, for it would be of no avail against the power of the Fairy; and the horrible Marmotte, grinding her teeth, emitted through them a blue flame which scorched his beard. "Prince Zirphil," said she to him, "a fairy who protects thee prevents me from exterminating thee, thy father, thy mother, and all that belong to thee: but thou shalt suffer at least in all that is most dear to thee, for having married without having consulted me, and thy torment shall never finish, nor that of thy Princess, until thou shalt have obeyed my commands."

In finishing these words the Fairy, the Princess, the chamber, and the palace, all disappeared together, and he found himself in his own apartment, in his night-dress, and his [Pg 383] sword in his hand. He was so astonished, and so transported with rage, that he did not feel the severity of the cold, though it was in the depth of winter. At the noise which he made his guards entered the room and begged him to go to bed, or to allow them to dress him. He took the latter course, and went to the Queen's chamber, who, on her part, had passed the night in the most cruel state of anxiety. She had not been able to sleep after going to bed, and in order to induce slumber she had wished to talk over her grief with little Camion; but she sought in vain for her in her case: Camion was no longer there. She feared she might have lost her in the garden: she rose, and having ordered flambeaux to be lighted, went in search of her, but without success—she had entirely disappeared, and the Queen retired to bed again in an alarming state of affliction; she gave fresh vent to it as her son entered. He was so distressed himself that he did not perceive the tears of the Queen. She, on her part, observing his agitation, exclaimed, "Ah! without doubt, you have come to announce to me some dreadful tidings!"

"Yes, Madam," replied the Prince; "I come to tell you that I shall die if I do not find my Princess." "How!" said the Queen; "do you already, my dear son, love that unhappy Princess?" "What, your Camion?" said the Prince: "can you suspect me, Madam, of such a thing? I speak of my dear Whale-Princess who has been torn from me; it is for her alone that I live, and it is Marmotte, the cruel Marmotte, who has carried her away!" "Ah, my son," said the Queen, "I am far more unhappy than you, for if they have taken your Princess away from you, they have robbed me of my Camion. Since last evening, she has disappeared from her case!"

They then related to each other their respective adventures, and wept together over their common misfortunes. The King was informed of the cries and despair of the Queen, and the grief of his son. He entered the apartment in which this tragic scene was passing, and as he was an exceedingly clever man, the thought occurred to him immediately of advertising Camion, with the offer of a large reward to whoever should bring her back. Everybody agreed this was a capital idea, and even the Queen, in spite of her great grief, was obliged to confess that no one of ordinary capacity could [Pg 384] have imagined so singular an expedient. The handbills were printed, and distributed, and the Queen became rather calm in the hope of soon hearing some tidings of her little Princess. As for Zirphil, the loss of Camion interested him no more than her presence; he resolved to seek a fairy of whom he had heard speak. He asked permission of the King and Queen, and departed with a single equerry in attendance on him.

It was a great distance from that country to the one inhabited by the Fairy; but neither time nor obstacles could check the fond impatience of the youthful Zirphil. He passed through states and kingdoms without number: nothing particular happened to him because he did not desire it; for being handsome as Cupid and brave as his own sword, he would have had no lack of adventures had he sought for them.

At length, after a year's travelling, he arrived at the commencement of the desert wherein the Fairy had fixed her abode; he dismounted from his horse, and left his equerry in a little cottage, with orders to await him there, and not to be impatient. He entered the desert, which was frightful from its solitude; screech-owls alone inhabited it, but their cries did not alarm the valiant spirit of our Prince.

One evening, he perceived at a distance a light which made him think he was approaching the grotto; for who but a fairy could live in such a horrible desert. He walked all night long; at length, at break of day, he discovered the famous grotto; but a lake of fire separated him from it, and all his valour could not protect him from the flames, which spread right and left. He looked about for a long time to see what he could do, and his courage nearly failed him when he found that there was not even a bridge. Despair proved his best friend, for in a frenzy of love and anguish, he resolved to end his days in the lake, if he could not traverse it. No sooner had he taken this strange resolution than he put it in execution, and throwing himself bodily into the flames, he felt a little gentle warmth which did not even inconvenience him, and passed without the least trouble to the other side. Hardly had he landed, when a young and beautiful Salamander emerged from the lake, and said, "Prince Zirphil, if your love be as great as your courage, you may hope for everything from the Fairy Lumineuse; she favours you, but she wishes to prove you."

[Pg 385]

Zirphil made a profound bow to the Salamander in acknowledgment, for she did not give him time to speak; she plunged again into the flames, and he pursued his way. He arrived at length at the foot of a rock of prodigious height, which from its great brilliancy appeared all on fire. It was a carbuncle, so large that the Fairy was very commodiously lodged in the inside. As soon as the Prince approached, Lumineuse came out of the rock; he prostrated himself before her, she raised him, and made him enter the grotto.

"Prince Zirphil," said she, "a power equal to mine has neutralized the benefits I bestowed on you at your birth; but you may hope for everything from my care. It requires as much patience as courage to foil the wickedness of Marmotte; I can tell you nothing more." "At least, madam," replied the Prince, "do me the favour to inform me if my beautiful Princess is unhappy, and if I may hope to see her again soon?" "She is not unhappy," replied the Fairy: "but you cannot see her till you have pounded her in the mortar of the King of the Whiting." "Oh! heavens!" cried the Prince; "is she in his power; and have I to dread not only the consequences of his passion, but the still greater horror of pounding her with my own hands?" "Summon up your courage," replied the Fairy, "and do not hesitate to obey; upon that depends all your happiness, and that of your wife." "But she will die if I pound her," said the Prince, "and I would rather die myself." "Away," said the Fairy, "and do not argue; each moment that you lose adds to the fury of Marmotte. Go and seek the King of the Whiting; tell him you are the page I promised to send him, and rely on my protection."

She then pointed out to him on a map the road he must take to reach the dominions of the King of the Whiting; and took her leave of him, after having informed him that the ring which the Princess had given him would show him all he had to do whenever the King commanded him to execute a difficult task.

He departed, and after some days' travelling arrived in a meadow which stretched down to the sea, to the shore of which was moored a small sailing-vessel of mother-of-pearl and gold. He looked at his ruby, and saw himself in it going on board the vessel. He therefore stepped into it, and [Pg 386] after having cast off, the wind took it out to sea. After some hours' sail, the vessel brought up at the foot of a crystal castle, built upon wooden piles. He jumped ashore, and entered a court-yard which led through a magnificent vestibule to apartments without number, the walls of which were of rock crystal, admirably cut, and which produced the most beautiful effect in the world. The castle appeared to be inhabited only by men with fishes' heads of all species. He felt convinced this was the dwelling of the King of the Whiting, and shuddered with rage; but he restrained himself so far as to inquire of a turbot, who had the air of being a captain of the guard, how he could manage to see the King of the Whiting. The man-turbot very gravely made him a signal to advance, and he entered the guard-chamber, where he saw under arms a thousand men with pikes' heads, who formed in line for him to pass.

At length, after making his way through an infinite crowd of men-fish, he came to the throne-room. There was not much noise, for the courtiers were all dumb, the greater part having whiting's heads. He saw several who appeared of more consequence than the rest, from the crowd which surrounded them, and by the air which they assumed with the others. They arrived at the King's cabinet, out of which he saw the council issue, composed of twelve men who had sharks' heads. The King at length appeared himself. He had a whiting's head, like many of the others; but he had fins on his shoulders, and from his waist downwards he was a veritable whiting. He could speak, and wore only a scarf made of the skin of goldfish, which was very brilliant, and a helmet in the form of a crown, out of which arose a codfish's tail, which formed the plume. Four whiting carried him in a bowl of Japanese porcelain, as large as a bath, full of sea water. His greatest pride consisted in causing it to be filled twice a day by the dukes and peers of his kingdom. This office was extremely sought after.

The King of the Whiting was very large, and had more the air of a monster than of anything else. When he had spoken to some of those who had presented him with petitions, he perceived the Prince. "Who are you, my friend?" said he to him. "By what chance do I see a man here?" "My lord," said Zirphil, "I am the page the Fairy Lumineuse [Pg 387] has promised you." "I know what she means," said the King, laughing, and showing his teeth, like those of a saw. "Lead him into my seraglio, and let him teach my crayfish to talk." Immediately a troop of whiting surrounded him, and conducted him according to the King's orders. In returning through the apartments all the fish, even those the highest in favour, professed, by various signs, a great deal of friendship for him. They led him through a delicious garden, at the end of which was a charming pavilion, built entirely of mother-of-pearl, and ornamented with great branches of coral. The favourite Whiting introduced him into an apartment similarly adorned, the windows of which overlooked a magnificent piece of water. They made him understand that that was to be his residence, and after having shown him a little chamber at one corner of the saloon, which he understood was to be his bed-room, they retired, and he remained alone, very much astonished to find himself something very like a prisoner in the palace of his rival.

He was meditating on this position of affairs, when he saw the doors of the chamber open, and ten or twelve thousand crayfish, conducted by one larger than the rest, entered, and placed themselves in straight lines, which nearly filled the apartment. The one which marched at their head mounted upon a table near him, and said, "Prince, I know you, and you owe much to my care; but as it is rare to find gratitude in men, I will not tell you what I have done for you, for fear you should destroy the sentiments with which you have inspired me. I have only, therefore, to inform you that these are the crayfish of the King of the Whiting, that they alone speak in this empire, and that you are chosen to teach them refined language, the customs of the world, and the means of pleasing their sovereign. You will find them intelligent; but you must every morning choose ten to pound in the King's mortar, to make his broth."[37]

The Crayfish having ceased speaking, the Prince replied, "I had no idea, Madam, that you had interested yourself in my concerns. The gratitude I already feel towards you should induce you to abandon the bad opinion you have conceived of men in general, since on the bare assurance which you have given me of your friendship, I feel deeply obliged to you. [Pg 388] But what I am very anxious to learn is, the course I should take in reasoning with the persons whose education you would confide to me. If I were sure that they had as much intellect as you, I should have no trouble, and I should feel a pride in the task; but the more difficult I should find them to teach, the less should I have the courage to punish them for faults for which they are not responsible. And having lived with them, how can I have the heart to deliver them to a torture?" "You are obstinate and a great talker," interrupted the Crayfish; "but we know how to subdue you." So saying, she rose from the table, and jumping to the ground, took her real form of Marmotte (for she was that wicked fairy). "Oh, heavens!" cried the Prince; "so this is the person who boasts of the interest she takes in my affairs—she who has done nothing but make me miserable. Ah, Lumineuse," continued he, "you abandon me!" He had hardly finished these words, when Marmotte precipitated herself by the window into the reservoir and disappeared, and he remained alone with the twelve thousand crayfish.

After having meditated a little as to how he should proceed to educate them, during which time they waited in complete silence, it occurred to him that he might very probably find amongst them his beautiful and unfortunate Princess, because the hideous Marmotte had ordered him to pound ten of them every morning. "And why should I be selected to pound them," said he, "if it be not to drive me distracted? Never mind, let us look for her," continued he, rising; "let us at least try to recognise her, even if I die of grief before her eyes." Then he asked the crayfish if they would kindly permit him to search amongst them for one of his acquaintance. "We know nothing about it, my Lord," said the first who spoke; "but you can make what inquiry you please up to the time of our return to the reservoir, for we must positively pass the night there." Zirphil commenced his inspection; the more he sought, the less he discovered, but he surmised, from the few words which he drew from those he interrogated, that they were all princesses transformed by the wickedness of Marmotte. This caused him inconsolable grief, for he had to choose ten for the King's broth.

When evening came, they repeated that they must retire to the reservoir, and it was not without pain that he relinquished [Pg 389] the sweet occupation of seeking the Princess. He had only been able in the whole day to interrogate a hundred and fifty; but as he was certain at least that she was not amongst them, he determined to take ten from that number; he had no sooner chosen them than he proceeded to carry them to the King's offices; but he was arrested by the most astonishing peals of laughter from the victims he was about to immolate; he was so surprised by it, that he was some time without speaking; at length he interrupted them to inquire what it was they found so amusing in their present circumstances? They renewed their shouts of laughter so heartily that he could not help, in spite of his own sorrows, partaking in their mirth. They wanted to speak, but could not for laughing; they could only ejaculate, "Oh, I can say no more!" "Oh, I shall die of it!" "No, there is nothing in the world so amusing!" and then roared again. At length he reached the Palace with them all laughing together, and having shown them to a pike-headed man, who seemed to be the principal cook, a mortar of green porphyry, ornamented with gold, was set before him, into which he put his ten crayfish, and prepared to pound them. At that moment the bottom of the mortar opened, emitted a brilliant flame, which dazzled the Prince, and then closing up again, appeared perfectly empty; even the crayfish had vanished. This astonished, but at the same time gratified him, for he was very reluctant to pound such merry creatures. The man-pike, on the contrary, seemed sadly distressed at this adventure, and wept bitterly. The Prince was as much surprised at this as he was at the laughter of the crayfish, and he could not ascertain the cause, as the pike's-head was dumb.

He returned, much disturbed by his adventure, to his pretty apartment, where he no longer found the crayfish, for they had returned to the reservoir. The following morning, they re-entered without Marmotte; he sought for his Princess, and still not discovering her, he again chose ten of the finest for pounding. The same adventure occurred—they laughed, and the man-pike wept when they disappeared in the flame. For three months this extraordinary scene was daily repeated; he heard nothing of the King of the Whiting, and he was only uneasy at not discovering his beautiful Princess.

One evening, returning from the kitchen to his own apartments, [Pg 390] he traversed the King's gardens, and passing near a palisade which surrounded a charming plantation, in the midst of which was a little sparkling fountain, he heard some one speaking; this surprised him, for he believed all the inhabitants of that kingdom to be as dumb as those he had seen. He advanced gently, and heard a voice, which said,—"But Princess, if you do not discover yourself, your husband will never find you." "What can I do?" said the other voice, which he recognised as that he had so often heard. "The cruelty of Marmotte compels me to remain silent, and I cannot discover myself without risking his life as well as my own. The wise Lumineuse, who aids him, conceals my features from him in order to preserve us to each other: he must absolutely pound me, it is an irrevocable sentence." "But why should he pound you?" inquired the other. "You have never yet told me your history; Citronette, your confidante, would have related it to me had she not last week been chosen for the King's broth." "Alas!" replied the Princess, "that unfortunate has already undergone the torture which I await; would that I were in her place, for assuredly by this time she is in her grotto." "But," rejoined the other voice, "as it is such a beautiful night, tell me now why you are subjected to the vengeance of Marmotte. I have already told you who I am, and I burn with impatience to know more about you." "Although it will renew my grief," replied the Princess, "I cannot refuse to satisfy you, especially as I must speak of Zirphil, and I take pleasure in all that relates to him."

One may easily judge of the delight which the Prince felt at this fortunate moment; he glided gently into the plantation, but as it was very dark he saw nothing; he listened, however, with all his ears, and this is word for word what he heard:—

"My father was King of a country near Mount Caucasus; he reigned to the best of his ability over a people of incredible wickedness; there were perpetual revolts, and often the windows of his Palace were broken by the stones which they hurled against them. The Queen, my mother, who was a very accomplished woman, composed speeches for him to make to the disaffected; but if he succeeded in appeasing them one day, the next produced a new trouble. The judges were tired of condemning to death, and the executioners of [Pg 391] hanging. At length things arrived at such a pitch that my father, seeing all our provinces were uniting against us, resolved to withdraw from the capital, that he might no longer witness so many disagreeable scenes. He took the Queen with him, and left the kingdom to the government of one of his ministers, who was very wise, and less timid than the King, my father. My mother was expecting my birth, and travelled with some difficulty to the foot of Mount Caucasus, where my father had chosen his habitation. Our wicked subjects fired the guns for joy at their departure, and next day strangled our minister, saying that he wished to carry matters with too high a hand, and that they much preferred their old Sovereign. My father was not at all flattered by their preference, and remained concealed in his little retreat, where very soon I saw the light.

"They named me Camion, because I was so very diminutive.[38] Moreover, the King and Queen, tired of the honours which had cost them so dear, and wishing to conceal my high birth from me, brought me up as a shepherdess. At the end of ten years (which appeared to them like ten minutes, so happy were they in their retreat), the fairies of the Caucasus, indignant at the wickedness of the people who inhabited our kingdom, resolved to restore order in it. One day that I was tending my sheep in the meadow which adjoined our garden, two old shepherdesses accosted me, and begged me to give them shelter for the night; they had such a sad dejected air that my soul was moved with compassion. 'Follow me,' said I; 'my father, who is a farmer, will receive you willingly.' I ran to the cottage to announce their arrival to him; he came to meet them, and received them with much kindness, as did my mother also. I then brought in my sheep, and set milk before our guests. Meanwhile, my father prepared them a nice little supper, and the Queen, who, as I before told you, was a clever woman, entertained them wonderfully.

[Pg 392]

"I had a little lamb which I loved excessively; my father called to me to bring it to him that he might kill it and roast it. I was not accustomed to dispute his will, and therefore took it to him; but I was so distressed at having to do so that I went and sat down weeping beside my mother, who was so occupied in talking to these good women that she took no notice of me. 'What is the matter with little Camion?' said one of them, who saw me in tears. 'Alas, Madam!' said I to her, 'my father is roasting my pet lamb for your suppers.' 'How?' said the one who had not yet spoken, 'is it on our account that pretty Camion is thus distressed?' Then rising and striking the ground with her stick, a table rose out of it magnificently covered, and the two old women became two beautiful ladies, in dresses so dazzling with precious stones, that I was struck motionless, so much so, indeed, that I paid no attention when my little lamb bounded into the room, and made a thousand leaps, which much amused the company. I ran at length to him, after having kissed the hands of the beautiful ladies; but I was quite amazed to find his wool all of silver purl, and covered with knots of rose-coloured ribbon.

"My father and mother paid every attention to the Fairies, for such I need not tell you they were both. They raised the King and Queen, who had fallen at their feet. 'King and Queen,' said she who was the most majestic, 'we have known you for a long time past, and your misfortunes have excited our pity. Do not imagine that greatness exempts any one from the ills attached to humanity. You must know by experience that the more elevated the rank the more keenly are they felt. Your patience and virtue have raised you above your misfortunes: it is time to give you your reward. I am the Fairy Lumineuse, and I come to ask what would be most agreeable to your majesties. Speak, and do not fear to put our power to the proof; consult together, your wishes shall be accomplished; but say nothing respecting Camion—her destiny is apart from yours. The Fairy Marmotte, envious of the brilliant fate which has been promised her, has obscured it for a time: but Camion will better know the value of her happiness when she shall have experienced the ills of life; we will protect her by softening them: that is all we are permitted to tell you. Speak; with that exception we can do anything for you.'

"The Fairies, after this harangue, were silent. The Queen turned to the King that he might reply, for she wept to find I was doomed to be unhappy; but my father was no better able than herself to speak: he uttered piteous exclamations, and I, seeing them in tears, left my lamb to come and weep with them. The Fairies waited with much impatience, and [Pg 393] in perfect silence, till our tears were ended. At length my mother pushed the King gently to let him know they were expecting his reply. He took his handkerchief from his eyes and said, that as it was decided that I should be miserable, nothing they could offer him could be agreeable to him, and that he refused the happiness which they promised him, as he should always find it embittered by the idea of what I had to dread. The Queen added, seeing that the poor man could say no more, that she begged the Fairies to take their lives on the day when my sad destiny was to be fulfilled, for that her only wish was not to be compelled to witness my misery. The good Fairies, affected by the extreme grief which reigned in the royal family, spoke together in a whisper. At length Lumineuse, who had already addressed us, said to the Queen, 'Be consoled, Madam; the misfortunes which threaten Camion are not so great but that they may terminate happily; for from the moment that the husband destined for her shall have obeyed the commands of fate, she will be happy with him, and the malignity of our sister can have no further power over either. The Prince we have selected is one worthy of her; and all we can tell you is, that you must absolutely lower your daughter every morning into the well, and that she must bathe in it for half-an-hour. If you strictly observe this rule, perhaps she may escape the evil with which she is threatened. At twelve years old the critical period of her fate will commence; if she reach the age of thirteen in safety, there will be nothing more to fear. That is all which regards her. Now wish for yourselves, and we can gratify your desires.'

"The King and Queen looked at each other, and after a short silence, the King asked to become a statue until after I should have completed my thirteenth year; and the Queen limited her request to the modest one that the temperature of the well in which I was to be dipped should be always according to the season. The fairies, charmed at this excess of parental tenderness, added that the water should be orangeflower water, and that the King, whenever the Queen should throw this water over him, should resume his natural form, and again become a statue when he pleased. At length they took leave of us, after having lauded the King and Queen for their moderation, and promised to assist them whenever [Pg 394] they should require it, by burning a bit of the silver purl with which my lamb was covered.

"They vanished, and I felt real anguish for the first time in my life, at seeing my father become a great statue of black marble. The Queen burst into tears, and I also; but at length, as everything has an end, I ceased to cry, and occupied myself in consoling my mother, for I felt a sudden increase both of sense and sensibility.

"The Queen passed her life at the feet of the statue, and I, after having bathed as they had ordered me, went to milk my ewes. Upon that food we lived, for the Queen would not take anything else, and it was only from love to me that she could be prevailed on to preserve an existence, which to her was so full of bitterness. 'Alas! my daughter,' said she, sometimes, 'of what use to us have been our grandeur and our high birth? (for she no longer concealed from me my rank.) 'Would it not have been better to have been born in a lower sphere, since a crown draws down on us such great misfortunes? Virtue, and my affection for you, my dear Camion, alone enable me to support them; but there are moments when my soul seems impatient to leave me, and I confess I feel pleasure in imagining that I shall soon die. It is not for me you should weep,' added she, 'but for your father, whose grief, still greater than mine, has carried him so far as to make him desire a worse fate than ceasing to live. Never forget, my dear, the gratitude you owe him.' 'Alas! Madam,' said I, 'I am not capable of ever forgetting it, and still less can I forget that you have wished to live in order to assist me.'

"I was bathed regularly every day, and my mother was sadly distressed to see the King always an inanimate statue. She dared not, however, recall him to life, fearing to inflict on him the pain of witnessing the misfortune with which I was threatened. The Fairies not having specified what it was, we were in mortal fear. The Queen especially fancied no end of frightful things, because her imagination had an unlimited field to range over. As for me, I did not trouble myself much about it, so true is it that youth is the only time when we enjoy the present.

"My mother told me repeatedly that she felt a great desire to bring my father to life again, and I had the same inclination. [Pg 395] At length, after six months, finding that the Fairies' bath had greatly embellished both my person and mind, she resolved to gratify this longing, if but to give the King the pleasure of seeing my improvement. She therefore desired me to bring her some water from the well. Accordingly, after my bath, I drew up a vase of this marvellous water, and the statue was no sooner sprinkled with it, than my father became a man again. The Queen threw herself at his feet, to ask pardon for having troubled his repose. He raised her, and embracing her tenderly, forgave her readily, and she presented me to him.

"I am ashamed to tell you that he was both delighted and surprised. For how can you believe me, beautiful Princess?" said the voice, hesitatingly, "me, the most hideous of crayfish?" "Alas! I can well believe you," replied the one to whom she spoke; "I also might boast of being handsome, but is it possible to appear so in these frightful shells? Pray continue, however, for I am eager to hear the rest of your history." "Well, then," said the other voice, "the King was enchanted with me, loaded me with caresses, and asked the Queen if she had any news to tell him. 'Alas!' said she, 'who in this desert should come to tell me any? Besides, being occupied solely in lamenting your transformation, I have taken little interest in the world, which is nothing to me without you.' 'Well,' said the King, 'I will tell you some news, then; for do not think that I have been always asleep. The Fairies who protect us have disclosed to me the punishment of my subjects. They have made an immense pond of my kingdom, and all the inhabitants are men-fish. A nephew of the Fairy Marmotte, whom they have set up as their king, persecutes them with unequalled cruelty: he devours them for the least fault; and at the end of a certain time a prince will arrive who will dethrone him, and reign in his stead. It is in this kingdom that Camion will be made perfectly happy. This is all that I know; and it was not a bad way of passing my time' said he, laughing, 'to have discovered these things. The Fairies came every night to inform me of what was doing, and I should perhaps have known much more if you had let me remain a statue a little longer; but, however, I am so delighted to see you once more, that I do not think I shall very soon wish to become a statue again.'

[Pg 396]

"We passed some time in the happiest manner possible. The King and Queen, notwithstanding, were rather anxious when they thought of my approaching the age of thirteen. As the Queen bathed me with great care, she hoped that the prediction would not be fulfilled. But who can boast of escaping their destiny? One morning that the Queen had risen early, and was gathering some flowers to decorate our cottage, because the King was fond of them, she saw come out from beneath a tube-rose an ugly animal, something like a marmot. This beast threw itself on her, and bit her nose. She fainted with the pain which this bite occasioned her, and my father, at the end of an hour, not seeing her return, went to seek her. Judge of his consternation at finding her nearly dead, and covered with blood! He uttered fearful cries. I ran to his assistance, and we together carried the Queen into the house, and placed her in bed, where she was two hours without coming to herself. At length she began to give some signs of life, and we had the pleasure of seeing her very shortly recovered, except from the pain of the bite, which caused her much suffering.

"She asked directly if I had been to bathe: but we had quite forgotten it in our anxiety about her. She was much alarmed at hearing this; however, seeing that as yet no accident had happened to me, she became re-assured, and related to us her adventure, which surprised us immensely.

"The day passed over without any other trouble; the King had taken his gun and sought in every direction for the horrid beast without finding it. The next day at sunrise the Queen awoke and came to fetch me, to repair the fault of the preceding morning; she lowered me into the well as usual, but alas, fatal and unlucky day! at this same instant, although the heavens were quite serene, a dreadful clap of thunder rent the air, the sky seemed suddenly all on fire, and from a burning cloud there issued a flaming dart which flew into the well. My mother in her fright let go the cord which held me, and I sank to the bottom, without hurting myself, it is true, but horrified at discovering that I was partially transformed into an enormous fish which they call a whale. I rose to the surface again, and called the Queen with all my power. She did not reply. I was sadly afflicted and wept bitterly, as much for her loss as at my metamorphosis, when I felt that an [Pg 397] invisible power forced me to descend to the bottom of the well. Having reached it, I entered a grotto of crystal, where I found a species of Nymph, ugly enough, for she was like an immensely fat frog. However, she smiled at my approach, and said to me—'Camion, I am the Nymph of the Bottomless Well; I have orders to receive thee, and to make thee undergo the penance to which thou art sentenced for having failed to bathe; follow me, and do not remonstrate.'

"What, alas, could I do? I was so distressed and so faint at finding myself on dry ground, that I had not the strength to speak. She dragged me, not without pain, into a saloon of green marble which was near the grotto; she there put me into an immense golden tub filled with water, and I then began to recover my senses. The good Nymph appeared delighted at this. 'I am called Citronette,' said she to me; 'I am appointed to wait on thee; thou canst order me to do anything thou wilt—I know perfectly well both the past and the present; as for the future, it is not my province to penetrate it. Command me, and at least I can render the time of thy penance less irksome to thee.'

"I embraced the good Citronette at these words, and related to her the events of my life. I then inquired of her what had become of the King and Queen. She was about to reply, when a hideous marmot, as large as a human being, entered the saloon, and froze me with horror. She walked upon her hind legs, and leant upon a gold wand, which gave her a dignified air. She approached the tub, in which I would willingly have drowned myself, I was so frightened, and raising her wand, with which she touched me—'Camion,' said she, 'thou art in my power, and nothing can release thee but thy obedience and that of the husband whom my sisters have destined for thee. Listen to me, and cast off this fear, which does not befit a person of your rank. Since thine infancy I wished to take care of thee, and to marry thee to my nephew, the King of the Whiting. Lumineuse, and two or three other of my sisters, combined to deprive me of this right; I was provoked, and not being able to revenge myself on them, I resolved to punish thee for their audacity. I doomed thee, therefore, to be a whale for at least half the term of thy existence. My sisters protested so strongly against what they called my injustice, that I diminished my [Pg 398] vengeance by three-quarters and a half; but I reserved to myself the right of marrying thee to my nephew in return for my complaisance. Lumineuse, who is imperious, and unfortunately my superior, would not listen to this arrangement, because she had destined thee, before me, to a Prince whom she protected. I was compelled then to consent to her plan, in spite of my resentment; all that I could obtain was that the first who should deliver you from my claws should be thy husband. Here are their portraits,' continued she, showing me two gold miniature cases, 'which will enable thee to recognise them: but if one of them come to deliver thee, he must betroth himself to thee whilst thou art in the tub, and before thou canst leave it, he must tear off the skin of the whale; without that, thou wilt always remain a fish. My nephew would not hesitate a moment to execute that order; but the favourite of Lumineuse will consider it a horrible task, for he has the air of a very delicate little gentleman. Set, then, thy wits to work to make him skin thee, and after that thou shalt be no longer unhappy, if to be a beautiful whale, very fat and well fed, and up to the neck in water, can be called unhappiness.'

"To these words I made no reply, but remained very dejected, as much at my present state as by the thought of scaling to which I must submit.

"Marmotte disappeared, leaving with me the two miniature cases. I wept over my misfortunes and my situation, without dreaming of looking at the portraits, when the good and sympathising Citronette said to me, 'Come, we must not lament over ills which cannot be remedied. Let us see if I cannot help to console you; but first, try not to weep so much, for I have a tender heart, and I cannot see your tears without feeling inclined to mingle mine with them. Let us chase them away by looking at these portraits.'

"So saying, she opened the first case, and showing it to me, we both uttered shrieks like Melusine's[39] at seeing a hideous whiting's head, painted, it is true, with all the advantages which could be given to it; but, in spite of that, never in the memory of man had anything been seen so ugly. 'Take away that object,' cried I to her; 'I cannot bear the sight of it longer. I would rather be a whale all my life than marry that horrible Whiting!'

[Pg 399]

"She did not give me time to finish my imprecations on this monster, but said, 'Behold this darling young man! Oh, as for him, would he but skin you I should be delighted.' I looked hastily to see if what she said was true; I was only too soon convinced. A noble and charming countenance presented itself to my view; fine eyes full of tenderness embellished a face which was both mild and majestic; an air of intellectuality was spread over it, which completed the fascination of this delightful painting; a profusion of black hair, curling naturally, gave an air to it which Citronette mistook for indifference, but which I interpreted, and I think rightly, as conveying a precisely opposite sentiment.

"I contemplated this beautiful face with a pleasure of which I was scarcely conscious. Citronette remarked it first. 'Without a doubt,' cried she, 'that is the one we will choose.' This bantering roused me from my reverie, and colouring at my own ecstasy, 'Why should I trouble myself,' said I; 'ah, my dear Citronette, this appears to me very like another trick of that cruel Marmotte; she has exhausted her art in endeavouring to make me regret the impossibility of finding a similar object in nature.' 'What,' said Citronette, 'already such tender reflections on this portrait? Ah! truly, I did not expect that so soon.' I blushed again at this jest, and became quite embarrassed at finding that I had too innocently betrayed the effect which this beautiful painting had produced on my heart. Citronette again read my thoughts. 'No, no,' said she, embracing me, 'do not repent of this avowal, your frankness charms me; and to console you, I will tell you that Marmotte does not deceive you, and that there is in the world a Prince who is the veritable original of the picture.'

"This assurance filled me with joy at the moment; but the next instant that feeling departed, when I remembered that this Prince would never see me, as I was in the depths of the earth, and that Marmotte, by her power, would sooner enable her monster of a nephew to penetrate my abode than give the least assistance to a prince whom she hated, because they had [Pg 400] destined me to him without her consent. I no longer concealed what I thought from Citronette; the attempt, indeed, would have been useless, for she read with surprising facility the utmost secret of my thoughts; I therefore preferred to take the credit of candour; she deserved my confidence for her attachment to me, and I found it a great consolation, for I have felt from that time that when the heart is filled with one object there is much happiness in being able to speak of it. In fact, I loved from that moment, and Citronette dissipated, with much address and clear-sightedness, the confusion and trouble which the commencement of a violent passion produces in the mind. She soothed my grief by allowing me to speak of it; and when I had exhausted words, she gently changed the conversation, which almost always, however, bore upon my troubles or my affection.

"She had informed me that the King, my father, was transported to the abode of the King of the Whiting; and that the Queen, at the moment that she lost me, had become a crayfish. I could not understand this. 'One cannot become a crayfish,' said I. 'Can you better understand how you have become a whale?' said she.

"She was right; but we are often surprised at things which happen to others, although we have in ourselves still greater subject for astonishment. My small experience was the cause of this. Citronette laughed frequently at my innocence, and was surprised to find me so eloquent in my affection, for truly I was so on that subject; and I found that love throws much light into the mind. I could not sleep; I woke the good-natured Citronette an hundred times in the night to talk to her of my Prince; she had told me his name, and that he hunted almost every day in the forest beneath which I was interred. She proposed to me to try to attract him to our dwelling, but I would not consent, although I was dying to do so. I was afraid that he would die for want of air; we were accustomed to it, that was a different thing; I feared also that it would be too great a freedom; besides, I was in despair at appearing to him in the form of a whale, and I measured his aversion for me by that which the portrait of the King of the Whiting had inspired me with. Citronette re-assured me, telling me that spite of the whale's body my face was charming. I believed it sometimes, but more often I was uneasy, and after [Pg 401] having looked at myself, I could not imagine I was sufficiently handsome to inspire with love one who had made me so well acquainted with it. My self-love came to the support of my prudence. Alas! how rarely it is that our virtues can be traced to purer inspirations.

"I passed my time in forming projects for obtaining a sight of him, and letting him see me, and rejected by turns each that occurred to me. Citronette was a great assistance to me at this time; for it must be confessed that she has plenty of sense, and still more gentleness and amiability. One day that I was even more sad than usual—for love has the peculiarity of infecting gentle souls with melancholy—I saw the frightful Marmotte enter, with two persons whom I did not at first recognise. I took it into my head that it was her wretched nephew whom she brought with her; I uttered frightful shrieks as they approached me hastily. 'Why, she could not cry louder,' said the horrid Marmotte, 'if they were skinning her! Look what terrible harm is done to her!' 'Good gracious, sister,' said one of these persons who accompanied her, and whom I then remembered with joy having formerly seen in our village; 'a truce to your stories of skinning, and let us tell Camion what we have to tell her.' 'Willingly,' said Marmotte; 'but on the conditions which you are aware of.'

"'Camion,' said the good Fairy, without replying to Marmotte, 'we are too much distressed at your condition not to think of remedying it, more especially as you have not deserved it. My sisters and I have resolved to ameliorate it as much as lies in our power. This, therefore, is what we have determined on. You are about to be presented at the Court of the Prince to whom I have destined you from your infancy; but, my dear child, you will not appear there as you are, and you are commanded to return three nights a week and plunge again in your tub; for until you are married'—'and skinned!' interrupted the odious Marmotte, laughing violently. The good Fairy merely turned towards her, shrugging her shoulders, and continued—'Until you are married you will be a whale in this place. We can tell you no more; the rest you will be informed of by degrees; but above all keep your secret; for if a word escape you which tends to discover it, neither I nor my sisters can do anything for you, and you will be delivered up to my sister Marmotte.' [Pg 402] 'That is what I expect,' said the wicked Fairy; 'and I already see her in my power; for a secret kept by a girl would be a phenomenon.' 'That is her own affair,' said Lumineuse (for it was she who had already spoken). 'To proceed, my daughter,' said she, 'you will become a little doll made of ivory, but capable of thinking and speaking; we shall preserve all your features, and I give you a week to consider whether what I propose to you will suit you; we will then return, and you shall tell me if you consent to it, or if you would prefer awaiting here the event which must bring you one of the two husbands selected for you.'

"I had not time to reply; the Fairies departed after these words, and left me astounded by what I had just seen and heard. I remained with Citronette, who represented to me that it was a great treat for me to become an ivory doll. I sighed when I thought that my Prince would never take a fancy to such a bauble; but at length the desire to see him and become acquainted with him overcame the anxiety to please him, and I resolved to accept the proposal which was made to me, and the more readily as Zirphil (for they had mentioned his name) might possibly be forestalled by the King of the Whiting, and this idea made me nearly die of grief.

"Citronette told me that Prince Zirphil hunted daily in the forest which was above us; and I made her take every day the form of a stag, a hound, or a wild boar, in order that she might bring me some news, which never failed to be in some way connected with the subject which occupied my heart. She described him to me as an hundred times handsomer than his picture, and my imagination embellished him to such a degree that I resolved to see him or to die. But one more day had to elapse before the expected arrival of the Fairies, and Citronette, in the form of a wild boar, was roaming the forest to find food for my curiosity, when suddenly I saw her return, followed by the too amiable Zirphil. I cannot describe to you my joy and astonishment; there are no terms which can express them to you. But what enchanted me most was, that this charming Prince appeared equally delighted with me; perhaps I desired this too much not to help to deceive myself. However, I thought I saw in his eyes that he felt the impression he had made. Citronette, more anxious [Pg 403] for my happiness than mindful of our ecstasy, aroused us from it, by begging him either to skin or to marry me. Then coming to myself, and feeling the danger of my situation, I joined in her entreaties, and by our prayers and tears induced him to plight me his faith. I had hardly accepted it, when he vanished, I know not how, and I found myself in my ordinary form, lying on a good bed; I was no longer a whale, but I was still in the depths of the earth in the green saloon, and Citronette had lost the power of leaving it and of transforming herself.

"I expected the Fairies in a state of the greatest trepidation. My love had redoubled since I had become personally acquainted with its object, and I feared that my charming husband might be included in the vengeance of the Fairies for not having waited till they could witness my marriage. Citronette had enough to do to re-assure me; I could not overcome my grief and fear. Marmotte appeared with the dawn of day, but I neither saw Lumineuse nor her companion; she did not seem more irritable than usual; she touched me with her wand without speaking to me, and I became a charming little doll, which she put in her toothpick-case, and then transported herself into the presence of the Queen-mother of my betrothed. She gave me to her, with orders to marry me to her son, or to expect all the evil which she was capable of inflicting, telling her that I was her goddaughter, and was called the Princess Camion. I took, in fact, a great fancy to my mother-in-law; I considered her charming, as being the mother of Zirphil, whom I adored, and my caresses were returned by her. I was transported every night into the green saloon, and there enjoyed the pleasure of meeting my husband, for the same power acted on him, and transported him likewise into this subterraneous dwelling. I knew not why they forbad me to tell him my secret, as I was married; but I kept it in spite of his impatience to know it. You will see," continued the speaker, with a sigh, "how impossible it is to avoid one's fate. But it begins to get light, and I feel I am quite tired with being so long out of the water; let us return to the reservoir, and to-morrow, at the same hour, if we are not selected for the soup of that worthless King of the Whiting, we will resume the thread of our discourse.—Come, let us go."

[Pg 404]

Zirphil heard no more, and himself returned to his apartment, much concerned at not having made known to the Princess his being so near her; but the fear of increasing her misfortunes by this indiscretion, consoled him for not having risked it; the misery of knowing she was likely to perish by his hand made him resolve to continue his diligent search amongst the crayfish.

He retired to bed, but not to sleep, for he did not close his eyes all night. To have found his Princess in the form of a crayfish, ready to be made into soup for the King of the Whiting, appeared to him a still more frightful torment than the death to which he had believed her destined. He was sighing and distressing himself cruelly, when he was disturbed by a great noise in the garden; he at first heard it confusedly, but listening attentively, he distinguished flutes and conch shells. He rose and went to the window, when he saw the King of the Whiting, accompanied by the dozen sharks who composed his council, advancing towards the pavilion; he hastened to open the door, and the train having entered, the King first had his tub filled with sea water by the peers of the realm who bore it, and after a short repose, and making the council take their places, he addressed the young Prince, "Whoever you may be," said he, "you have resolved, apparently, to make me die of hunger, for you send me every day a broth which I cannot swallow; but, young man, I must tell you, that if you are leagued with evil powers to poison me, you have taken a very foolish part. As nephew of the Fairy Marmotte I am beyond all such attempts, and my life is safe."

The Prince, astonished at being suspected of so base an act, was about to reply with haughtiness, but by chance, as he raised his hand, he cast his eyes upon his ring, and saw therein Lumineuse, who placed her finger on her mouth as a sign to him to be silent; he had not before thought of consulting his ring, he had been so engrossed by his grief. He accordingly held his tongue: but he betrayed his indignation in his countenance, which the sharks remarked, for they made signs of approbation, which appeared to say that they did not believe him capable of such a thing. "Ho, ho!" said the King, "as this myrmidon appears so angry, we must make him work before us. Let them go to my kitchen; let them bring [Pg 405] the mortar for the crayfish; I shall give my council a treat." Immediately a pike's-head went to execute the King's commands, and during this time the twelve sharks took a large net, which they threw into the reservoir from the window, and drew in three or four thousand crayfish. During the interval that the council was employed in fishing, and the pike's-head in fetching the King's mortar, Zirphil reflected, and felt that the most critical moment of his life approached, and that his happiness or misery would depend upon his present conduct. He armed himself with resolution for whatever might come to pass, and placing all his hopes in the Fairy Lumineuse, he implored her to be favourable to him. At the same moment he looked at his ring, and saw in it the beautiful Fairy, who made a sign to him to pound courageously; this revived him, and took from him some of the pain he felt at consenting to this cruelty.

At length the horrid mortar was produced. Zirphil approached it boldly, and prepared to obey the King. The council put in the crayfish with great ceremony, and the Prince tried to pound them; but the same thing happened to them as to the former ones in the kitchen—the bottom of the mortar opened and the flames devoured them. The King and the odious sharks amused themselves for a long time with this spectacle, and were never tired of filling the mortar; at length there was but one left of the four thousand; it was surprisingly large and fine. The King commanded that it might be shelled, in order to see if he should like to eat some of them raw. They gave it to Zirphil to shell; he trembled all over at having to inflict this new torture, but still more when this poor fish joined her two claws, and, with her eyes filled with tears, said, "Alas! Zirphil, what have I done to you that you should wish to do me so much harm?"

The Prince, moved by these words, and his heart pierced with grief, looked at her sadly, and at length took it on himself to beg the King to allow her to be pounded. The King, jealous of his authority, and firm in his resolution, was enraged at this humble request, and threatened to pound Zirphil himself if he did not shell it. The poor Prince took it again from the hands of the shark to whom he had confided it, and with a little knife which they had given him he tremblingly touched the crayfish; he looked at his ring, and saw Lumineuse [Pg 406] laughing and talking to a veiled person whom she held by the hand. He could not understand this at all, and the King, who did not give him time to reflect, cried out to him so loudly to finish, that the Prince stuck the knife with such force under the shell of the crayfish that it cried piteously; he turned away his eyes from hers, and could not help shedding tears. At length he resumed his task, but to his great astonishment he had not finished the shelling when he found in his hands the wicked Marmotte, who jumped to the ground, uttering shrieks of laughter so loud and disagreeable in mockery of Zirphil, that it prevented him from fainting, or he would have fallen on the floor.

The King cried in astonishment, "Why, it is my aunt!" "And truly it is she," said this annoying animal. "But, my dear Whiting, I come to tell you a terrible piece of news." Whiting grew pale at these words, and the council assumed an air of satisfaction, which increased the ill-humour of the King and his terrible aunt. "The fact is, my darling," continued Marmotte, "you must return to your watery dominions, for this rash boy whom you see here has chosen to display a constancy that nothing can shake, and has triumphed over all the traps I set for him to prevent him from carrying off the Princess I had destined for you."

At these words the King of the Whiting fell into such a rage, that he could not contain himself: he committed extravagances which proved he was possessed of the most violent passions. Marmotte tried in vain to calm him; he broke his bowl into a thousand pieces, and, being on dry ground, he fainted. Marmotte, mad with rage, turned to Zirphil, who had remained a quiet spectator of this tragic scene, and said to him, "Thou hast conquered, Zirphil, by the power of a fairy whom I must obey; but thou art not yet at the end of thy troubles. Thou canst not be happy till thou shalt have given into my own hand the case which enclosed the accursed Camion. Even Lumineuse agrees to this, and I have obtained her consent for you to suffer until that time."

At these words she took the King of the Whiting on her shoulders, and threw him into the reservoir, as well as the sharks, the palace, and all its inhabitants. Zirphil found himself alone at the foot of a great mountain, in a country which was as arid as a desert, without being able to perceive [Pg 407] the vestige of a habitation, or even of the great reservoir. All had disappeared at the same moment. The Prince was even more distressed than astonished at so extraordinary an event. He was accustomed to wonders—he was only alive to the grief which the persecution of the Fairy Marmotte occasioned him. "I cannot doubt," said he, "that I have pounded my Princess. Yes, I must have pounded her; yet I am none the happier for it. Ah, barbarous Marmotte! And you, Lumineuse, you leave me without help, after having obeyed you at the expense of all which a heart as sensitive as mine could suffer!"

His grief, and the little repose which he had taken since the previous night, threw him into such a state of weakness, that he would have sunk altogether if he had not had the courage to wish to live. "If I could but find something to support me," said he; "but in this horrible desert I shall seek in vain a single fruit which can refresh me." He had not pronounced the word when his ring opened, and a little table covered with excellent viands came out of it. It became in a moment large enough to accommodate the person for whom it was intended. He found on it all that could tempt his eye and his appetite, for the repast was so beautifully arranged, that in fact nothing was wanting, and the wine was delicious. He returned thanks to Lumineuse, for who else could have assisted him so opportunely? He ate, drank, and felt strong again.

When he had finished, the table lost its form, and re-entered the ring. As it was late, he did not make much progress in ascending the mountain, but stretched himself under a wretched tree, which had hardly enough leaves to protect him from the night air. "Alas!" said he, as he laid himself down, "such is the nature of man. He forgets the good that is past, and is only sensible of present evil. I would now willingly exchange my table for a couch a little less hard than this." A moment after he felt that he was in a comfortable bed; but he could see nothing, for it appeared to him that the darkness was redoubled. He ascertained that this was caused by the ample curtains which surrounded his bed, and protected him from the cold and dew, and having again thanked the good and attentive Lumineuse, he dropped off to sleep. On waking at daybreak, he found himself in an [Pg 408] angel-bed,[40] of yellow taffety and silver, which was placed in the middle of a tent of satin of the same colour, embroidered all over with ciphers in bright silver, which formed the name of Zirphil, and all the ciphers were supported by whales formed of rubies. Everything that could possibly be required was to be found also in this beautiful tent. If the Prince had been in a more tranquil state of mind he would have admired this elegant habitation generally; but he only looked at the whales, dressed himself, and went out of the tent, which folded itself up, and re-entered the ring from which it had issued.

He began to ascend the mountain, taking no longer any trouble in seeking food or lodging, for he was certain to have both as soon as he wished for them. His only anxiety was to find Lumineuse; for his ring was mute on that subject, and he found himself in a country so strange to him, and so deserted, that he was necessarily compelled to trust to chance.

After having passed several days in ascending without discovering anything, he arrived at the brink of a well which was cut in the rock. He seated himself near it to rest, and began to exclaim, as usual, "Lumineuse, can I not find you, then?" The last time he pronounced these words, he heard a voice which proceeded from the well say, "Is it Zirphil who speaks to me?" His joy at hearing this voice was increased by recognising her to whom it belonged. He rushed to the brink of the well, and said, "Yes, it is Zirphil. And are you not Citronette?" "Yes," replied Citronette, emerging from the well, and embracing the Prince.

It is impossible to express the pleasure which this sight gave him. He overwhelmed the nymph with questions about herself and about the Princess. At length, after the excitement of their first meeting had subsided, they spoke more rationally together. "I am about to inform you," said she, "of all that you are ignorant of; for since the time you pounded us, we have enjoyed a happiness which was only alloyed by your absence, and I awaited your arrival here on the part of the Fairy Lumineuse, to tell you what remains for you to do in order to obtain possession of a Princess who loves you as much as you love her. But as some time must elapse before you can arrive at this happiness, I will relate to you the rest of the marvellous history of your amiable bride."

[Pg 409]

Zirphil kissed the hand of Citronette a thousand times, and followed her into her grotto, where he thought he should die of mingled pleasure and grief when he recognised the spot in which he had for the first time seen his divine Princess. At length, after partaking of a repast which came out of the ring, he begged the good Citronette to have the kindness to resume the narrative of the Princess from where she had herself left off in the palace garden.

"As it is here," said Citronette, "that Lumineuse is to meet you, you shall, whilst waiting for her, learn all that you wish to know, for it is useless for you to run after her. She confides you to my care, and a lover is less impatient when one talks to him about her whom he loves. The fairy Marmotte was not ignorant of your marriage; she had transformed our friend into an ivory doll, believing that you would be disgusted at her. Lumineuse conducted this affair herself, knowing that nothing could deprive you of the Princess if you married her, or if you destroyed her enchantment by skinning her. You chose the former alternative, and you know what followed. By night she resumed her proper form, and lamented at having to pass all her days in your royal mother's pocket, for Marmotte had been permitted by Lumineuse to torment the Princess until you had fulfilled your destiny, which was, to skin her; so enraged was she at finding that you had married her, and that the King of the Whiting, her nephew, could not become her husband.

"As the Princess was no longer a whale, there was no fish to skin; but Marmotte, fertile in expedients, determined to make you pound her, and had forbidden the Princess to tell you anything about it, under pain of your life, promising her afterwards the greatest felicity. 'How will he ever resolve to pound me?' said she when expecting you. 'Ah, my dear Citronette, if it were only my life that Marmotte threatened, I would give it cheerfully to shield my husband from the torments they prepared for him; but they attack his life—that life which is so dear to me. Ah, Marmotte! barbarous Marmotte! Is it possible that you can take pleasure in making me so miserable when I have never given you any cause for it?' She knew the period prescribed for [Pg 410] your separation from her, but she dared not tell you of it. The last time that you saw her, you know that you found her in tears; you asked her the cause, she pretended it was on account of your attentions to little Camion, and accused you of inconstancy. You appeased her apparent jealousy; and the fatal hour at which Marmotte was to fetch her arrived. You were transported into the palace of the King, your father; the Princess and I were changed into crayfish, and placed in a little cane basket, which the Fairy put under her arm, and ascending a car drawn by two adders, we arrived at the palace of the King of the Whiting. This palace was that of the royal father of the Princess: the city, changed into a lake, formed the reservoir which we have inhabited, and all the men-fish that you have seen were the wicked subjects of that good King.

"I must tell you, my Lord," said Citronette, interrupting herself, "that that unfortunate Monarch, and the Queen, his wife, being in despair at the moment when the Princess sank to the bottom of the well, the Fairies who had formerly come to their assistance, appeared, to console them for her loss; but the unhappy pair knowing that it was to their kingdom that Camion would be exiled, chose to be there rather than at a distance from her, notwithstanding what they had to fear from the cruelty and ferocity of the King of the Whiting, whom his Aunt had caused to be crowned by these men-fish. The Fairies did not conceal from them the future fate of the Princess; and the King, her father, begged to be the clerk of the kitchen and keeper of the King of the Whiting's mortar. The Fairy immediately gave him a tap of her wand, and he became the pike-headed man you saw in that situation; and you need no longer be surprised at his having wept bitterly whenever you brought the crayfish to pound, for as he knew that his daughter must undergo this torture, he always thought she was amongst the number; and the miserable Monarch had not a moment's rest, because his daughter had no means of making herself known to him. The Queen had requested to be changed into a crayfish, in order to be with the Princess, and her wish was also granted.

"As soon as we arrived at the palace of the King of the Whiting, the Fairy presented us to him, and ordered him to have crayfish soup made for his dinner every day. We were [Pg 411] then thrown into the reservoir. My first care was to seek the Queen, in order to soothe a little the grief of the Princess, but either by the decree of fate or stupidity on my part, I found it impossible to discover her. We passed our days in this mournful search, and our pleasantest moments were those in which we recalled the circumstances of our unhappy lives. You arrived at length, and they presented us to you; but the Fairy had forbidden us to make ourselves known before you should interrogate us, and we dared not infringe this rule, so continually were we compelled to submit to severities for trifles.

"The Princess told me she thought she should have died of fright at observing you in conversation with the cruel Marmotte; we saw you searching amongst our companions with a mortal impatience, it being obvious that, by the direction you took, you had little chance of arriving at us.

"We knew that we must be pounded; but we had also learnt that immediately after we should be restored to our former condition, and that the wicked Marmotte would have no further power over us. On the eve of the day on which you were to commence the infliction of this torture on us, we were all assembled in a cavity of the reservoir, weeping over our destiny, when Lumineuse appeared. 'Do not weep, my children,' said that admirable fairy; 'I come to inform you that you will escape the punishment they threaten you with, provided you go gaily to the mortar, and do not answer any questions that may be addressed to you. I can say no more at present—I am in haste; but do as I have told you, and you will not repent it. Let her whose fate appears the most cruel not lose hope—she will soon find relief.' We all thanked the Fairy, and appeared before you perfectly resolved to keep our secret. You spoke to some, who only made vague replies, and when you had chosen ten, we returned to the reservoir, where the assurance of our speedy deliverance inspired us with a natural gaiety which assisted the project of our protectress.

"The last words Lumineuse had spoken gave to the beautiful Camion a lightness of heart which rendered her charming in the eyes of her mother and me; for the Queen had at length recognised her, and we three were inseparable. At length your choice fell on the Queen and me, and we had not [Pg 412] time to say adieu to the Princess. An unknown power acted on us at the moment, and inspired us with such gaiety that we thought we should die of laughter at the absurd things we said to each other. You carried us to the kitchen, and we had not touched the bottom of the fatal mortar before Lumineuse herself came to our assistance, and restoring me my natural form, transported me to my customary abode. I had the consolation of seeing the Queen and our companions also resume theirs, but I know not what became of them. The Fairy embraced me, and told me to await you, and relate to you everything when you should come to seek the Princess.

"I awaited this moment with impatience, as you will well believe, my Lord," said Citronette to the Prince, who listened most eagerly to her; "and yesterday I seated myself at the mouth of the well, when Lumineuse appeared. 'Our children are about to be made happy, my dear Citronette,' said she to me; 'Zirphil has only to recover the toothpick-case of Marmotte to finish his labours, for at length he has skinned the Princess.' 'Ah! great Queen,' cried I, 'are we so happy as to be certain of this?' 'Yes,' replied she, 'it is quite true; he thought that he only skinned Marmotte, but it was in reality the Princess. Marmotte was concealed in the handle of the knife he used for that act, and the instant he had finished his task she caused the Princess to vanish, and appeared in her place, for the purpose of again intimidating him!" "What!" cried the Prince, "was it to my charming bride that I did that harm? Have I had the barbarity to inflict on her such a cruel torment! Ah, heavens! she will never pardon me, and I do not deserve she should!" The unhappy Zirphil spoke so impetuously, and distressed himself so greatly, that poor Citronette was sorry she had told him this news.

"How," said she, at last, seeing that he was quite overcome by his reflections, "how, you did not know it?" "No, I did not know that," said he; "what determined me to take the shell off that unhappy and too charming crayfish was, that I saw Lumineuse in my ring speaking to a veiled person who even laughed with her, and who, I flattered myself, was my Princess; and I thought that she had passed through the mortar like the rest. Ah, I shall never forgive myself for this mistake!" "But, my Lord," said Citronette, "the [Pg 413] charm depended on your skinning or pounding her, and you had done neither one nor the other; besides, the person to whom Lumineuse spoke was the mother of the Princess; they awaited the end of your adventure in order to seize on your bride and protect her for you; it was quite necessary that it should so happen." "Nevertheless," said the Prince, "if I had known it, I would rather have pierced my own heart with that horrid knife!" "But consider," said Citronette, "that in piercing your heart you would have left the Princess for ever in the power of your enemy and frightful rival, and that it is far better to have shelled her than to have died and left her in misery."

Apparently this argument, so obviously founded on truth, appeased the grief of the Prince, and he consented to take a little nourishment for his support. They had just finished, when the roof of the saloon opened, and Lumineuse appeared, seated upon a carbuncle drawn by a hundred butterflies; she descended from it, assisted by the Prince, who bathed the hem of her garment with a torrent of tears. The Fairy raised him, and said, "Prince Zirphil, to-day you are about to reap the fruit of your heroic labours. Console yourself, and enjoy at length your happiness. I have vanquished the fury of Marmotte by my prayers, and your courage has disarmed her: come with me to receive your Princess from her hands and mine." "Ah, Madam," cried the Prince, throwing himself at her feet, "am I not dreaming? Is it possible that my happiness is real?" "Do not doubt it," said the Fairy, "come to your kingdom and console the Queen, your mother, for your absence, and for the death of the King, your father: your subjects wait to crown you."

The Prince in the midst of his joy felt a pang at the tidings of the death of his father; but the Fairy to divert him from his affliction, made him place himself by her side, permitted Citronette to seat herself at their feet, and then the butterflies spread their brilliant wings, and set out for the empire of King Zirphil.

On the road, the Fairy told him to open his ring, and he there found the toothpick-case which he had to return to Marmotte. The King thanked the generous Fairy a thousand times over, and they arrived at the capital of his dominions, where they were expected with the utmost impatience. Zirphil's mother [Pg 414] advanced to receive the Fairy as she descended from her car, and all the people becoming aware of the return of Zirphil, uttered acclamations which diverted him a little from his grief; he tenderly embraced his mother, and all ascended to a magnificent apartment which the Queen had prepared for the Fairy.

They had hardly entered, when Marmotte arrived in a car lined with Spanish leather, and drawn by eight winged rats. She brought with her the beautiful Camion, with the King and Queen, her father and mother. Lumineuse and the Queen hastened to embrace Marmotte, Zirphil respectfully kissed her paw, which she extended to him, laughing; and he returned her the toothpick case. She then permitted him to claim his bride, and presented her to the Queen, who embraced her with a thousand expressions of joy.

This numerous and illustrious assemblage began speaking all together. Joy reigned supreme amongst them. Camion and her charming husband were the only persons who could not speak a word. They had so much to say. There was an eloquence in their silence which affected every one present; the good Citronette wept with joy whilst kissing the hands of the divine Princess.

At length, Lumineuse took them both by the hand, and advancing with them towards the Queen, mother of Zirphil: "Behold, Madam," said she, "two young lovers who only wait your consent to be happy: complete their felicity; my sister Marmotte, the King and Queen, here present, and I myself, all request you to do so."

The Queen replied as she ought to this courteous speech, and tenderly embracing the happy pair, said, "Yes, my children, live happily together, and permit me, in relinquishing my crown to you, to participate in that happiness." Zirphil and the Princess threw themselves at her feet, from whence she raised them, and again embracing them, they conjured her not to abandon them, but to aid them by her counsels.

Marmotte then touched the beautiful Camion with her wand, and her clothes, which were already sufficiently magnificent, became silver brocade embroidered with carat diamonds, and her beautiful locks fell down and rearranged themselves so exquisitely that the Kings and Queens declared her appearance was perfectly dazzling: the toothpick-case which [Pg 415] the Fairy held was changed into a crown formed entirely of brilliants, so beautiful and so well set that the room and the whole palace became illuminated by it. Marmotte placed it on the head of the Princess. Zirphil, in his turn, appeared in a suit similar to that of Camion; and from the ring which she had given him came forth a crown exactly like hers.

They were married on the spot, and proclaimed King and Queen of that fine country. The Fairies gave the royal wedding-breakfast, at which nothing was wanting. After having spent a week with them, and having overwhelmed them with good things, they departed, and reconducted the King and Queen, father and mother of Camion, into their kingdom, the old inhabitants of which they had punished, and repeopled it by a new race faithful to their master. As for Citronette, the Fairies permitted her to come and pass some time with her beautiful Queen, and consented to allow Camion, by only wishing for her, to see her whenever she pleased.

The Fairies at length departed, and never were people so happy as King Zirphil and Queen Camion. They found their greatest felicity in each other: and days seemed to them like moments. They had children who completed their happiness. They lived to an extreme old age; loving with the same intensity, and striving which should most please the other. On their decease their kingdom was divided, and after various changes it has become, under the dominion of one of their descendants, the flourishing empire of the Great Mogul.

FOOTNOTES:

[34] Dauphin in the original.

[35] In the Lady's Dictionary, 1694, we find a palatine "is that which used to be called a sable tippet; but that name is changed to one that is supposed to be finer, because newer, and à la mode de France."

[36] The Marmot of the Alps (Aretomys—literally "Bear-rat"), a large mountain-rat, more than a foot long, with a body shaped something like a bear.

[37] See Appendix.

[38] Camion signifies in French what we call a minikin-pin.

[39] Melusine is the heroine of a story as old as the fourteenth century, and on which some portion of "La Princesse Camion" appears to have been founded (Vide Appendix). Brantôme says she haunts the castle of Lusignan, where she announces by loud shrieks any disaster that is to befal the French monarchy. This legend gave rise to the expression of "Cris de Melusine."

[40] Lit d'ange—a bed with curtains suspended over it by a ring or pole.


[Pg 416]

PRINCESS LIONETTE AND PRINCE
COQUERICO.

In the Circassian mountains lived an old man and his wife who had retired from the world, weary of the caprices of fortune. They had found for themselves a convenient retreat in a cavern, which extended far beneath one of the mountains, and the dread of seeing each other expire was the only anxiety that troubled them in their solitude. They had lived at Courts, and knew all the insincerity that prevailed in them; and far from regretting the brilliant positions they had occupied, they pitied those who, from ambition or want of experience, were desirous of them. They lived a happy and quiet life. Their food consisted of fruit and fish, the latter abounding in a large pond, wherein the old man amused himself by taking them; while a flock of sheep which the old woman had the care of, produced the finest wool in the world to make their clothes with. The old man called himself Mulidor, and his wife was named Phila. They incessantly implored the gods to send somebody to console whichever might be left the last upon earth, or to close their eyes, but their prayers had not yet been granted. It must not, however, be supposed that the gods rejected such pure and reasonable desires, but they wished to prove the constancy of these good people, to recompense them afterwards with interest.

Princess Lionette and Prince Coquerico.—P. 416.

[Pg 417]

The old man had just caught some fish, and after fastening his boat to the bank, he spread his net upon a rock to dry it in the sun, when a lion rushed out from one of the cavities of the rock, and went to drink in the pond. Mulidor was afraid at first, but afterwards finding that the proud beast was roaring because he could not reach the water, which was too far off from the edge at this spot, he re-entered his boat, and filling a bowl offered it to the lion, who came and emptied it several times. After he had quenched his thirst, he raised his head and looked at his benefactor so mildly, that the good man ventured to caress him. The lion appeared pleased at his doing so, and ate some bread and cheese which the old man took from a basket he had slung on his arm. As, however, this was not a very safe companion, Mulidor thought he had better return to his cavern, fearing that his wife, uneasy at his absence, might come in search of him, and that the lion, having less respect for her than for him, would devour her.

This idea was beginning to agitate him, when the lion, after licking his hand, returned to his own home, leaving the old man at liberty to do so likewise. Upon reaching the cavern he found his wife, as he expected, alarmed at his delay; he related his adventure to her, which made her shudder. They continued to talk upon the subject, and drew this inference, that men might learn lessons of kindness and gratitude from animals. "Do not, however, place yourself again at the mercy of this fierce beast," said she, affectionately, "or let me go with you, for I could not live under the fear I shall henceforth be in concerning you. You have been restored to me this time, but can I flatter myself that the Gods will be always equally gracious to me." The old man, touched by her affection, promised to avoid the lion in future. This conversation kept them up late, and consequently they did not awake till the golden rays of morning shone full upon them. On opening the door to go out and feed her sheep, Phila was greatly surprised to find at it a lion of prodigious size and strength, and a lioness of equal power and beauty, the latter carrying on her back a little girl of five or six years old, who, as soon as she saw the old woman, alighted, ran to her, and embraced her.

The good woman stood motionless with fear and wonder, and the lions, after kissing the little girl, who returned their caresses, ran off, and disappeared in an instant, leaving her in the good wife's hands. Recovering from her fright she looked at the child, who never ceased kissing her, took her in her arms, and went into the cavern to show her to her husband. [Pg 418] They both of them admired her beauty and gentleness; she was quite naked, her fair hair only falling over her shoulders, and upon her right breast she had a singular mark in the shape of a crown.

The good people thanked the Gods for this gift; they dressed the beautiful little child in a light snow-white robe, with a rose-coloured girdle, and tied up her hair with ribbon of the same colour. She allowed them to do so quietly, and without saying a word. They fondled her, and gave her some ewe's milk quite fresh. She smiled at the sight of it, and looking at them, uttered a little cry resembling the roar of a lion. She soon became accustomed to them, however; she had no resemblance to a lion but in her voice, and from that circumstance they called her Lionette. She answered to this name, and her natural intelligence soon enabled her to understand what they said to her, and at length to speak and explain herself. She had been a year with these good people, who loved her dearly, and were equally loved by her, when Mulidor, to make her familiar with their way of life, in case she should lose them, took her out to fish with him. He had been there several times alone without meeting the lions, but little Lionette was no sooner at the foot of the rock where the good man dried his fish than she uttered a little roar, which awoke the lion and lioness, who ran out to her immediately, each vying with the other in fondling and caressing her. She embraced the lioness affectionately, who allowed her freely to do so; at length she jumped upon her back, and the lions ran off with her in a moment. The poor old man was in consternation; he threw himself upon the ground and prayed to die, now that he had lost Lionette. After lying there a long time, finding his despair could be of no avail, he dragged himself to his cavern, and created fresh misery there in relating to Phila the accident that had happened to Lionette.

"Lionette! my dear Lionette!" cried the good woman, "is it possible we can have lost you? Alas! why did the Gods present you to us, so cruelly to take you from us? Of all the goods we have lost we but regret you!" Their affliction was inconsolable, and poor Mulidor had scarcely spirit enough to bear up against this misfortune. The night was passed in lamentations and tears. At break of day they went [Pg 419] in search of her, fearing neither the lions nor their fury; their great love for Lionette made them wish to be devoured also, if she had undergone that frightful fate. They ran to the rock where the lions had chosen to establish themselves, when suddenly they saw little Lionette riding on the lioness towards them. As soon as the lovely child saw them she jumped down, and ran and threw her arms round their necks; then taking from the back of the lioness a kid that she had killed in the chase, "There," said she, "see what mother lioness gives you; she took me hunting to get game for you." These good people were half crazy with delight at seeing her again; they could not help crying, and bathing her pretty face with their tears. "My dear daughter! my dear child!" they exclaimed, "you are restored to us again." Lionette was affected at this sight. "Do you then," said she, "forbid me from seeing the lioness, that you can say nothing to her, and that you shed tears in embracing me?" "No, no, my dear child," they both cried at once, "but we feared that you had abandoned us." "Mother lioness does not wish it," said the child, "she wishes me to be your daughter." She turned round for her to agree to what she said, but she was no longer there, and Lionette returned cheerfully with them to the cavern.

Mulidor and Phila thought this was a very wonderful adventure; they had many private conversations about it, and determined they would not refuse the child to the Lioness, when she chose to come for her; at the same time, Mulidor obtained his wife's consent to consult Tigreline upon Lionette's destiny. She was a very learned Fairy. "I had already thought of doing so," replied Phila, "and it had better be done directly." It was settled he should start the first thing in the morning.

The good woman prepared a present for the Fairy, to induce her to be more gracious—nothing very precious, the Fairies do not desire it—it was a piece of sky-blue ribbon, and a little basket of nuts, which Tigreline was passionately fond of. Mulidor set out on his journey to her dwelling; she had fixed her habitation in the heart of an immense forest which was filled with tigers—it was from that circumstance she took her name. When any one sought her for a good object, the tigers did them no harm, but if they went thither with [Pg 420] any evil design, they tore them to pieces, and none such were ever known to reach the Fairy's castle. The old man having nothing to fear upon that subject, did not arm himself with any weapon of defence, and arrived without difficulty at the castle at the moment the Fairy was getting up. He found her occupied in stringing large pearls on a golden thread. She received him very graciously, and taking her spectacles from off her nose, "Approach, wise old man," said she. "I know what has brought you here, and I am very glad to see you." Mulidor bowed profoundly, and kissed Tigreline's robe. He offered his little present, which she received very kindly, then making him sit down, she told him she would consult Destiny in her large book, that she might answer correctly the questions he came to ask her. After reading for some time, she raised her eyes to Heaven, then fixing them upon Mulidor, "Listen," said she, "to what I think of Lionette. She must be warned from loving one who is her direct opposite, otherwise great misfortune may happen to her, even to the loss of life. Should she arrive at twenty without this fate befalling her, I answer for her happiness." She then informed the old man that Lionette was a great Princess, exposed to be eaten by lions almost immediately after she was born, through the wickedness of a certain Queen; but she would not tell him anything more, and exhorted the old man to continue to cultivate in the child all those good feelings which he himself possessed, and left it to him to decide on telling her who she was, trusting to his prudence for securing her happiness.

She then gave him for Lionette the string of pearls she had just finished. "If she do not lose it, or give it away," said the Fairy, "it will preserve her from many dangers. It may, indeed, insure her happiness if she take special care of it." The old man thanked the Fairy and returned home, where he arrived before nightfall.

He found his wife and Lionette; the latter embraced him a thousand times, and he tied the Fairy's pearls round her neck, earnestly entreating her to take great care of them. She was enchanted with this new ornament, and the old man related to Phila, as soon as they were alone, all that the Fairy had told him. They consulted together upon the course they should take, and resolved they would say nothing to Lionette of her birth, to prevent her feeling useless regrets. "We can [Pg 421] tell her at any time, should it be necessary to do so," added the prudent wife; "and we should be sorry for it (not having it in our power to give her more than the education of a simple shepherdess) if her disposition, sweet as it is now, should be changed by the knowledge of her rank. Let us attend to her heart and mind: princesses have not the time to do so. She will learn from her own experience that they are as subject as other mortals are to the caprices of Fortune, and perhaps she may be the happier for it."

Mulidor quite agreed with the truth of this, and they applied themselves more than ever to the education of this amiable child, whose natural excellence left them nothing to wish for. She was twelve years old, and continued to go hunting with the Lioness, very often carrying on her shoulder a little quiver, and skilfully shooting the wild beasts. One night, returning later than usual, the cavern resounded with the roars of the Lioness. Mulidor and Phila both went out, and found the Lioness at the door, having brought Lionette with her, who was seated on the ground, endeavouring to console the poor animal, that appeared in deep despair. "The Lion is dead," cried the young child, "and my mother cannot be comforted—a hunter has killed him." The Lioness rolled upon the ground, and shed torrents of tears. The old man, his wife, and Lionette did their best to soothe her grief; but after passing the whole night in the vain attempt, the Lioness expired herself in the morning. The sobs and grief of Lionette were excessive, she could not leave the body of the poor beast, she embraced it, and shed tears over it. At length they dragged her from this sad scene, and while the old man buried the Lioness, the kind Phila attended to Lionette, who was in the deepest affliction. When Mulidor came in, he was much moved by the child's grief, and was anxious to comfort her, but finding he only increased her sorrow, he said, "What would you have done, then, my child, if this accident had happened to either of us? It is not possible you could have felt it more keenly." "Ah! my father," cried she, holding her arms out to embrace him, fearing that he was offended at the little attention she paid to his consolations, "if the Gods have reserved so much misfortune for me, I implore them to let me die instantly, for I shall not be able to support it." "The Gods, my child," replied the old [Pg 422] man, "do not always grant such rash petitions. It is offending Providence not to submit humbly to its decrees. Do you suppose you are the only one who suffers from affliction in this life? Is this the courage I thought you capable of?"

Lionette cast down her eyes: the severity of this remonstrance had brought a slight colour into her cheeks, which made her more lovely. Mulidor felt he had said enough; he went out and left his wife to soften anything he might have said too harshly; and Phila, embracing Lionette, said, "Really, my child, you would make us believe you could have no greater grief. No doubt the friendship you show for these poor animals is highly laudable, but you must take comfort, and thank the Gods that they have not inflicted on you greater misfortunes." "Ah! my mother," cried Lionette, embracing her, "how much obliged I am to you for speaking to me thus; do not let my father be angry with me any more—I feel I could not bear it." Mulidor re-entered; Lionette ran to embrace him; he returned her caresses with a fondness that consoled the charming child. They could not sufficiently admire the goodness of her heart, her sensibility, her gentleness, and frankness; and she also loved them dearly.

Lionette, however, continued to deplore the loss of the Lions: a deep melancholy appeared to have taken possession of her; she dared not give way to it before Mulidor, but she felt less restraint with Phila. The worthy couple often conversed together upon this subject; they became alarmed at Lionette's condition; they tried to amuse her; they went out more frequently, took walks with her, allowed her to go hunting and fishing, gave her birds, flowers, shells; but she preferred hunting to all other amusements. The part of the country in which they lived was so wild a desert that persons must either have come there on purpose, or have lost their way, to be seen in it, so there was little danger of Lionette meeting with anybody. Still, the fact of the Lion having been killed by a hunter was remembered by Mulidor. He never could understand how a man could get so far without having found out their retreat, or being more astonished at seeing a young girl mounted on a Lioness, and hunting in company with a Lion. They did not dare ask Lionette any questions about it, fearing they should renew her grief; and yet they feared [Pg 423] to prohibit her from hunting, feeling, good souls, how cruel it would be to deprive her of her favourite amusement. They only entreated her, therefore, to take care she did not lose herself.

At the end of some months, Lionette regained her spirits a little. The old man and his wife were enchanted at this happy change. They congratulated themselves upon having promoted it by their indulgence, and trusted that she would in time forget the Lions. She grew fast, and began to evince character; she was wonderfully beautiful, even in the most simple of her dresses. Phila had made her garment of the finest tigers' skins, and a little cap of the same material; and thus attired, one might have taken her for Diana herself, she was so graceful and majestic. Her beautiful black eyes heightened the brilliancy and vivacity of her complexion, which neither the hottest sun nor the most scorching wind had any effect upon, nor could they injure the whiteness of her arms or neck. She was not at all aware of her beauty; her strength of mind and her education made her above priding herself on her personal advantages. She spoke well, and her ideas were even superior to her language. The good people were astonished to see her at so early an age evincing so much talent and judgment. She was then just approaching her fifteenth birthday.

For some days past, Phila perceived that she had taken the trouble to put her hair in curls on going to bed, and that on going out she glanced at herself with a kind of satisfaction in a fountain adjoining the cavern. She mentioned this to Mulidor, who was as much surprised at it as herself; they, however, did not choose to speak to her about it, but determined to watch her closely, that they might discover the motive of this unusual attention to her personal appearance, and they recollected that for some time past she had appeared thoughtful, uneasy, and indifferent to matters which had previously amused her.

Lionette returned to the cavern rather earlier on that day; she brought with her a brace of partridges that she had killed. The good woman asked her if she felt too tired to help her with some spinning she wished to finish. "If you could dispense with my assistance," said Lionette, "I should be very much obliged to you; I feel so inclined to sleep."

[Pg 424]

Phila consented, and let her go into a little nook of the cavern which made a kind of room for her. She had decorated it with all the rarest things that she had found. The hangings were composed of the feathers of singular birds, and an abundance of flowers in shells, which she kept filled with fresh water, ornamented this pretty chamber. Mulidor had taught her to paint; she had finished some charming pictures, and with the wool she had found in the cavern she had embroidered some cushions, which she had arranged as a couch. Upon this she threw herself, looking more like a goddess than a mortal.

The good woman becoming uneasy at the length of time she slept, went to seek her; she found her, as I have just described, reclining on the cushions; her eyes were shut, but a few tears that were struggling to escape through their long lashes, convinced her that the lovely Lionette was in some distress. She stood looking at her for some time, she had never seen her look so beautiful; but at length, alarmed at her condition, she drew nearer, and taking her hands, pressed them affectionately between her own.

This action aroused Lionette, and turning her eyes towards Phila, "Ah, mother!" said she, throwing herself upon her neck, "how ashamed I am to appear thus before you." "Why, my dear girl," said Phila, "why do you conceal your troubles from me? Do you not know how interested we both feel for you? What is the matter with you, my child? Do not hide your distress from me; perhaps I could assuage it."

Lionette was some time before she ventured to answer. She kept her head bent down in the old woman's hands; she kissed them passionately. At length she regained her courage, and raising herself, her cheeks suffused with blushes, "I am about to tell you something," said she, "which has tormented me for some time past. Let me hope this avowal at least will serve to obtain your forgiveness." "Speak, my dear girl," said Phila, "and fear nothing. I am more uneasy at your grief than angry at your having concealed it from me."

Lionette encouraged by this, told her that, on her way to the forest, about three months ago, she had seen a young shepherd fast asleep, and that an arrow which she had shot at a bird having missed it, fell and pierced the young man's [Pg 425] hand; that attracted by the cry he uttered, she approached him, and assisted in stanching the blood. "This wound," she added, "awoke in my heart a strange emotion. I trembled in applying to it the herbs I had gathered, the properties of which you had taught me. He, far from being angry with me, told me he should never complain of that wound, but eternally of the one my eyes had inflicted on him.

"This language, quite new to me, was so fascinating that I wished never to quit him. He wept as he gazed on me; he kissed my hands to detain me. I proposed that he should follow me, that my father might assist in curing him. 'I cannot do so, beautiful Lionette,' said he (I had told him my name), 'a most cruel fate has forced me to fly from the world; but promise me to come sometimes and cheer my solitude, and I shall ask nothing more from the Gods. I shall believe their anger is appeased.' I did promise him—he asked me too tenderly to be refused. At length I felt you would be uneasy at my stay, and I left him with so much regret that I burst into tears, and hurried away that he might not perceive it, for I was ashamed, I think, of my compassion for him.

"I returned, restless and miserable. Next morning I went in search of him. I cannot tell what prevented me from making you acquainted with it, but I was on the point of telling you a hundred times, and as often I felt it would be impossible to do so—perhaps it was because he had begged me to keep it a secret. I ran to look for him, to ask his permission to tell you. Approaching the spot where we had seen each other the evening before, I stopped suddenly. A feeling of reproach came over me for having hidden this proceeding from you; and besides, I was so agitated, I feared I should be ill. 'What shall I do by myself here?' thought I; 'I am without help, and that which I might find is perhaps dangerous to wait for. Unfortunate Lionette, what hast thou promised to do? Fly, return to thy duty, for it is clear that thou hast wandered from it, since thou art so much disturbed at taking this secret step. The Gods warn thee. This state of mind is not natural.' I had sat down to reflect. I got up. I retraced my steps, when a grievous thought arrested me. 'Alas!' said I, 'perhaps he is unable to come to meet me, from the wound I inflicted on him; and if so, [Pg 426] what will be his despair at not seeing me? There is no one to help him in this desolate place but myself. To refuse him my assistance would be inhuman. Let me find out whether he wants me, and see him but for that.'

"I proceeded, therefore, to the fatal place where I had wounded him the evening before. He was not there. I became alarmed; my limbs failed me; I fell upon the moss which covered the ground. I saw some traces of his blood still remaining on it. I was nearly suffocated by my grief. Happily my tears flowed, and that relieved me; but I felt the keenest affliction when I thought that perhaps I had been the cause of his death. I drew out my arrows, and broke them deliberately as a punishment for my cruelty. I caught sight by chance of the one with which I had wounded him. It was still upon the ground, and stained with his blood. My tears flowed faster at this frightful sight. I gave utterance to my agony in piercing shrieks. They were interrupted by the sight of the young shepherd himself, running quickly towards me. I could not rise. He threw himself on his knees near me, in so much terror that I was alarmed myself at his excessive paleness. He asked me what had happened. At the same time I put the same question to him. We re-assured each other. I told him the reason of my tears. Never was any one thanked so tenderly. His words had a charm in them that went to my heart. I listened with a pleasure I had never felt before; I nearly forgot his wound, so much I feared to interrupt him. I was astonished, however, to hear him say how much he loved me—he, whom I had scarcely ever seen; and I was still more surprised to find how dear he had become to me, for he told me more than I could dare tell him; and I believe he could read my heart, for I thought exactly as he did, only it appeared to me I could not so well have expressed myself.

"At last he told me that he wished to be mine. 'And are you not so already?' said I. 'Can you be more so than you are? That would enchant me.' He smiled at my words. I thought I had said something wrong, and I blushed at my awkward manner of expressing myself. I know not what he thought, but he said a thousand more affectionate things to me. He informed me he was the son of a great king, and [Pg 427] would be my husband. 'I cannot be your wife,' said I: 'they will not let me.' 'Ah! who will oppose it,' exclaimed he, 'if you consent?' I then told him that my father and mother had always said a crown would be an obstacle to the happiness of my life, and that they certainly would never consent to such a union. 'Wait for a few days,' said he, 'and I will tell you how to soften their severity. If you love me you will assist me in conquering it; but never refrain from coming to this place. My life depends upon your acquiescence. Fear nothing from me, lovely Lionette; nothing can be purer than my affection, and I call all the divinities of the forest to witness that I shall ever respect as much as I love you.' He gave me his hand; I gave him mine, and I vowed, as he had done, to love for ever, if you consented to it.

"I examined his hand, and found the wound had healed; I was delighted at this, and left him, promising to return, and not to say anything to you until he desired me. I returned so absorbed by his image that I felt as though I only lived when he was present. I had no pleasure in anything but him: the more I saw him the more I wished to see him. It was the same with him. He is charming, mother! and were you to see him you could not do otherwise than love him.

"Three months have passed in this sweet union, and now comes my misery. This morning he told me that it was necessary that he should be absent for some days upon important business which tended much to our happiness. I had never known what it was to lose sight of him for more than a few hours. I was as wretched as he was. He told me, however, that he should soon return, and that he was even more anxious than myself to complete our happiness. I wept bitterly. At length the hour arrived for us to part, I unfastened my necklace, and tied it round his arm——"

"Oh, heavens! what have you done, my child?" exclaimed Phila. "We are lost beyond help."

She threw herself upon the ground, and filled the cavern with her cries, Lionette, alarmed at this sight, arose to assist the good woman. "What is the matter, then, mother?" she cried. "Why should a necklace of such trifling consequence [Pg 428] rouse you to so much grief?" "It is for you I weep, my daughter," said Phila. "Your happiness was linked with the preservation of that unfortunate necklace."

She then repeated what the Fairy Tigreline had said to Mulidor, and did not conceal from her that she was a princess, but that she knew nothing more. Lionette, who possessed naturally an elevated mind, was not astonished at this news. "Very well, mother," said she; "the more you convince me of the probability of my high birth, the more courageously I ought to bear up against the sad events which are predicted of me, though, to speak the truth, I do not believe in them; and I see nothing unfortunate here but the absence of the shepherd whom I love, and his unhappy name, which made me fly from him without being able to control myself. These are the only misfortunes I know of." "What say you, my daughter?" exclaimed the old woman; "his name caused you to fly from him? Explain this riddle—I do not understand it." "Alas! this is the cause of my despair," replied Lionette. "I had scarcely tied the necklace round his arm, when he kissed my hand with such transport that I forgot my grief for the moment. 'Yes, beautiful Lionette,' he said, 'it is for life that you have enchained the happy Prince Coquerico.'

"Hardly had he pronounced his name, which he had never told me (he preferred that I should always call him my shepherd), than I felt so horrified, without knowing wherefore, that I fled as swiftly as possible. He followed me; he called me. I had not the power to return. An invisible hand seemed to impel me forward. 'My dear Lionette,' he cried, 'where are you going? It is your shepherd—it is Coquerico who calls you.' I ran still faster. At last I lost sight of him, either that I had taken paths he knew not of, or that he was afraid of displeasing me by following me any longer. I arrived here in such confusion I had some trouble in hiding it from you. You know the rest, my mother—all that has happened to me, and I beg you a thousand pardons for profiting so little from your good lessons; and although I owe my birth to apparently powerful princes, I shall always submit to your authority."

Mulidor came in as Lionette finished speaking; they made him acquainted with this adventure; he was in great alarm at what might happen from the loss of the necklace, and did not [Pg 429] dare go and consult Tigreline, whom they had so decidedly disobeyed. There was nothing to be done but to wait and see what would befal the Princess. They entreated her to forget this young man; they succeeded by degrees in consoling her for his absence, and notwithstanding her melancholy, she took part occasionally in their cheerful conversation.

Two months passed in this manner. One night they were suddenly awakened out of a deep sleep by a clap of thunder which made them think the cavern was crumbling to pieces. They started to their feet, and had not time to recover themselves before a hideous and very richly dressed Fairy touched them with her wand, and they were transformed into two Lionesses and a Lion, she then transported them in an instant to the Forest of Tigers, where she vanished and left them.

Who could express the consternation of the wise old man, or his wife's distress? That of the Princess was still greater, she reproached herself as being the cause of these good peoples' misfortune; and what distressed her still more was, not being able to speak, she had not the power of comforting them. This calamity for the moment made her forget Prince Coquerico; but when she thought she should never see him more, or that if she did, he would fly in terror from her, or at least not recognise her, she uttered such frightful roars that the forest resounded with them, and her poor companions came near her to try to console her. Their grief was redoubled to find they could neither understand nor speak to her. They groaned despairingly. At length it occurred to all three of them to go to the Fairy, but they had no power of communicating the idea to each other. The Lion was the first to start, the two Lionesses followed him, but the Tigers stopped the way, without, however, doing them any harm. Finding their intentions were frustrated, they concluded it was by the Fairy's orders. They buried themselves in the thickest part of the forest, and laid down very sorrowfully upon some beautiful green grass, which served as a bed for them. They passed some considerable time in this place without seeing the Fairy, she took care, however, to send them food by one of the Tigers regularly every day.

It is now time to acquaint the reader who Prince Coquerico was:—That young Prince was the son of a King who had been [Pg 430] very powerful, and who had reigned in the Fortunate Islands. This King was dead, and having left his son at a tender age, the Queen became regent. The ambition of reigning, the pride of being Sovereign Mistress, had closed her heart against the feelings of nature. She had her son brought up in a castle upon the edge of the sea, in luxury and idleness unequalled; and her excuse for this sort of education was a prediction of the Fairies at his birth, to the effect that his life would be endangered if he took up arms before he was twenty years old.

Everything was interdicted that could give him any desire for military exercises, and the art of war was depicted in such frightful colours that, however valiant the Prince might have been born, he shuddered at even the picture of a sword. The King, his father, who had died in battle, was represented to him as so sanguinary a sovereign that he vowed he would never imitate him.

They had named this prince, Coquerico, in derision from his having amused himself one day—contrary to the desire of his tutors—with looking at a fight between two game cocks. He spent his life in walking; in hearing sentimental romances read to him, the heroes of which they represented in such a manner that he might not have a desire to become like them; he learned to play upon several instruments, to paint, and to work at tapestry. The Queen went to see him very often, and pictured to him the fate of kings in such distressing colours, that he dreaded the moment when he should ascend the throne.

He was just ten years old, the time appointed for the Queen to resign the throne to him, when, walking on the coast, apart from his followers, he was caught up by a whirlwind, and disappeared in an instant. His tutors, surprised that he was so long a time in returning, went to seek him, but could find him nowhere. The most diligent search proved in vain, and they were compelled to apprise the Queen of this mysterious circumstance. She would easily have been consoled for this accident if the people of the Island, tired of her government, and indignant at the education that had been given to their King, had not risen in rebellion. After having torn her ministers in pieces, they compelled her to fly to a neighbouring Monarch, who granted her an asylum. This [Pg 431] King had been a widower for two years, having but one daughter, in giving birth to whom the Queen died.

He married the fugitive Queen; and the people of the Fortunate Islands elected a council to rule the kingdom until they could obtain news of their Prince Coquerico, whom they did not believe to be dead. They were right, the whirlwind had been caused by a Fairy, who, delighted at the sight of so beautiful a Prince, and angry to find him brought up so badly, had resolved to purloin him from a mother who had proved herself unworthy of being blessed with such a son.

To cultivate a fine disposition spoiled by so wicked an education, the Fairy was impelled by another feeling less generous and more natural. The beauty of this Prince had touched her heart, she imagined that gratitude would make some impression upon that of the young Coquerico. The few charms she possessed, however, were not likely to do so. She was old, and had a horn in the middle of her forehead; but she was very susceptible, and was always complaining that she had met with none but ungrateful beings. "By bringing up this young man," she thought, "he will become accustomed to my appearance, and perhaps my care and affection for him will inspire him with sentiments that may lead in time to that happy union of souls, that perfect mutual love, which I have heard so much of and never experienced."

Cornue (that was her name) reasoned thus in transporting the handsome Prince to her dwelling, which was in the Desert where the old man and his wife had brought up the young Lionette for the last four years. Cornue had built herself a charming palace upon the summit of one of the mountains, but it was inaccessible to all human beings, in consequence of the clouds with which it was continually surrounded. The charms of life, its amusements, both rational and frivolous, were all united there. This palace was of immense extent, although formed of one single opal, so transparent and so beautiful that through the walls one might see a grain of millet at the end of the garden, which was worthy of so magnificent a palace, from its groves, terraces, parterres, and fountains.

The tasteful Cornue had not spared anything, even in her dress, for when, placing the Prince in the vestibule of her [Pg 432] palace, she made herself visible to him, she had enveloped her horn in a green velvet case, covered with diamonds; her hair, which was rather grey, was powdered white,[41] and tied with green moulinet bows, in the centre of each of which sparkled a large diamond; and her dress, of flesh-colour and silver, showed her form so truly, that one could perceive the Graces had striven among themselves which should give the finishing touch to it.

The Prince was surprised at this apparition. She kissed his hand, and asked his forgiveness for taking him away from his retirement without his permission. "If I can avoid being your king," said he, with an air which showed that he was not alarmed at the manner in which he had been conducted thither, "I should be very well contented, for the fear of ascending the throne made me desirous of leaving my kingdom, and you have done me a favour in taking me away from it;—but I should like to know," added he, quickly, "why you wear so pointed a head-dress, and why your dress is of so peculiar a colour?" "We excuse such childish questions at your age," said the Fairy, slightly blushing; "you will be ashamed of them some day;—but let us enter the palace, and you will find something to occupy your attention more agreeably."

She then gave him her hand, and they passed into a saloon in keeping with the beauty of the rest of the palace. A hundred black slaves were arranged in two files, through which the Prince and the Fairy proceeded to the centre. It was sufficiently light to see the rarities which ornamented this beautiful place; statues, sculptured marbles, porcelain, furniture, were all admired with the taste of a connoisseur by the young Prince. The slave opened the door of a magnificent gallery, filled with charts, maps of the world, instruments of geometry, models of the most beautiful cities in Asia, Europe, and Africa; of palaces where the men and women of each nation were dressed in their national costumes, and by the Fairy's skill they moved hither and thither, spoke in their own language, and held conversations according to their position. This amused the Prince for a considerable time. He requested the Fairy to allow him to remain in that gallery a little longer than she seemed inclined to do.

[Pg 433]

He made the slaves who accompanied him explain what this all meant; he bade them repeat it, and was quite enchanted. He recognised the Fortunate Islands; he saw his tutors seeking for him, and who appeared in despair at not finding him—that touched his heart with pity. The Fairy at length withdrew him from this scene, that he might not witness the catastrophe. She amused him with other objects.

Some islands surrounded by the sea, upon another model, afforded him great entertainment. Vessels filled with passengers executed some wonderful evolutions; then there was a sea-fight, followed by a storm, which dispersed the ships and sank several of them. This terminated the diversions of this day. The Fairy then proposed supper, after which an opera was represented; this was succeeded by a ball, and the Prince danced with the Fairy, and with the nymphs in the Fairy's train, and at last six slaves conducted him to a handsome apartment, in which he retired to rest.

The next and following days were passed in conversations, sometimes serious, sometimes mirthful; the slaves had orders to cultivate his taste for the arts while amusing him, to which purpose he lent himself readily. He was already accustomed to walk in a second gallery, which formed a superb arsenal; he heard them talk of arms and of war with pleasure; he almost wished to witness a battle, and felt ashamed he had ever thought otherwise. The slaves formed themselves into battalions, he placed himself at their head, he enjoyed his triumph in a sham fight, he invented stratagems, he sought for glory everywhere; he no longer feared to be a king. The gallery of models had displayed to him the pleasures of royalty; he passed three hours each day in it, and took lessons from the ablest politicians. The cabinet secrets of all the Courts in the universe were no secrets to him.

There was a model of the whole globe in that gallery, and what art pervaded that grand work! Not only all the kingdoms and their various provinces, to the smallest habitation, were represented; but every mortal upon the face of the earth was seen in pursuit of his vocation. All spoke their own language, you heard them, you saw them,—the most secret actions were displayed therein: the ocean and its vessels, rivers, lakes, streamlets, deserts, even yet undiscovered countries,—nothing [Pg 434] was hidden from the learned Cornue. All was to be found in her model. There was wherewithal to amuse one during the longest life that ever was known.

The Prince was fascinated by this wonderful work of art; he studied it for a long time; he could with difficulty tear himself from it; nor did he consent to do so till the Fairy assured him that this gallery forming a portion of his suite of apartments, he might visit it whenever he wished.

He left it at length to enjoy new pleasures—an opera, a supper, followed by a magnificent ball, in which the fairies of Cornue's Court distinguished themselves in dancing, notwithstanding they were ugly and old, for their mistress took care not to incur the reproach of being the least handsome person in the Palace; and the designs she had upon the heart of the young Prince would not admit of her neglecting anything that would bring them to bear.

His education was entrusted to six fairies, who led him each morning into the gallery of the globe for three hours; they explained the various interests of Princes, he learned their languages, he heard and saw the effect of their politics, their battles by land and sea, which displayed to him the ability of ministers and of generals. Already he was able to form sound opinions, and to speak of things with the knowledge acquired from experience. His noble mind developed itself, he burned with a desire for glory, he blushed at having been afraid of it. He also appreciated the pleasures of royalty, he began to find a satisfaction in being master, but he did not at all covet the soft and effeminate life which he perceived in the seraglios of the sovereigns of Persia and Constantinople; he preferred those kings who reigned absolutely over their subjects, with a certainty that they would shed their blood to preserve theirs. Insensibly he became the most accomplished Prince living. He was not ignorant upon any point; his fine intellect assisting his slight experience, he evinced in everything the greatest judgment and discernment. "But where can one see this land, and the inhabitants, that I observe in my model?" said he sometimes to Cornue. "I will show you some day," answered she; "it is not time yet." That would vex him; he was desirous of appearing of some consequence himself in this fine plan of the universe, he was annoyed at not seeing himself in it. This caused him many reflections, but as they only sprang from his brain, they did [Pg 435] not distress him much—those suggested by the heart, more interesting, he knew nothing of yet.

The Fairy did not fear that the beauties whom he saw in the model would awake in him any emotions contrary to her wishes; they were so exceedingly small, that he could but take them for pretty little puppets, the largest figure, of a man even, not being taller than one's thumb. His great amusement was the opera and comedy; he went to them very often: the little figures acted wonderfully well, and as he had a great appreciation of genius, he attended all orations of the Academy,[42] and commented upon them with great sagacity.

Until he was eighteen years old, this gallery continued to be his greatest pleasure; in fact, he knew no other. At that age he began to wish to know the people whose portraits he saw; the Fairy, desirous to please him, dared not oppose him too much; she put him off with promises, but feared he would escape her. "I hunt in your park," he said; "I walk in it; I always see the same things, it tires me; I should like sometimes to see something different." "Ah! truly," said the Fairy, "you have well preserved the faults of human kind. Miserable state of men! Can they be perfectly happy?&m