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Title: Old-Time Stories
Author: Perrault, Charles, 1628-1703
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Decoration]

OLD-TIME STORIES

[Illustration: "THEY REACHED THE HOUSE WHERE THE LIGHT WAS BURNING."]



OLD-TIME STORIES

  _told by_

MASTER CHARLES PERRAULT

  _translated from
  the French by
  A·E·Johnson
  with illustrations
  by_

W·HEATH ROBINSON

[Illustration: Decoration]

  NEW YORK
  DODD, MEAD & COMPANY



_First Published, 1921_

_Printed in Great Britain_



PREFATORY NOTE


Of the eleven tales which the present volume comprises, the first eight
are from the master-hand of Charles Perrault. Charles Perrault
(1628-1703) enjoyed much distinction in his day, and is familiar to
students of French literature for the prominent part that he played in
the famous _Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns_, which so keenly
occupied French men of letters in the latter part of the seventeenth
century. But his fame to-day rests upon his authorship of the
traditional _Tales of Mother Goose; or Stories of Olden Times_, and so
long as there are children to listen spellbound to the adventures of
Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and that arch rogue Puss in Boots, his
memory will endure.

To the eight tales of Perrault three others have been added here.
'Beauty and the Beast,' by Mme Leprince de Beaumont (1711-1781), has a
celebrity which warrants its inclusion, however inferior it may seem, as
an example of the story-teller's art, to the masterpieces of Perrault.
'Princess Rosette' and 'The Friendly Frog' are from the prolific pen of
Mme d'Aulnoy (1650-1705), a contemporary of Perrault, whom she could
sometimes rival in invention, if never in dramatic power.



[Illustration: Decoration]



  CONTENTS


                                                                   PAGE

  THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD                                     1

  PUSS IN BOOTS                                                      21

  LITTLE TOM THUMB                                                   34

  THE FAIRIES                                                        55

  RICKY OF THE TUFT                                                  61

  CINDERELLA                                                         75

  LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD                                             92

  BLUE BEARD                                                         99

  BEAUTY AND THE BEAST                                              113

  THE FRIENDLY FROG                                                 138

  PRINCESS ROSETTE                                                  174



  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  COLOURED PLATES

  'They reached the house where the light was burning'
        (see page 41)                                     _Frontispiece_

                                                            FACING PAGE

  'The most beautiful sight he had ever seen'                        16

  'All that remained for the youngest was the cat'                   21

  '"You must die, madam," he said'                                   99

  'Every evening the Beast paid her a visit'                        130

  '"Could your father but see you, my poor child"'                  152


  BLACK-AND-WHITE ILLUSTRATIONS

                                                                   PAGE

  'The king ... at once published an edict'                           3

  'A little dwarf who had a pair of seven-league boots'               7

  'The king's son chanced to go a-hunting'                           10

  'All asleep'                                                       12

  'They all fell asleep'                                             13

  'As though he were dead'                                           23

  'The cat went on ahead'                                            26

  Puss in Boots                                                      27

  'Puss became a personage of great importance'                      31

  'A good dame opened the door'                                      37

  'He could smell fresh flesh'                                       43

  'He set off over the countryside'                                  47

  'Laden with all the ogre's wealth'                                 51

  'Lifting up the jug so that she might drink the more easily'       57

  'She could not set four china vases on the mantelpiece without
     breaking one of them'                                           63

  'Graceful and easy conversation'                                   65

  Ricky of the Tuft                                                  71

  'The haughtiest, proudest woman that had ever been seen'           77

  'Her godmother found her in tears'                                 81

  'Away she went'                                                    83

  'She rose and fled as nimbly as a fawn'                            85

  'They tried it first on the princesses'                            89

  Little Red Riding Hood                                             93

  'She met old Father Wolf'                                          95

  'Making nosegays of the wild flowers'                              96

  'Come up on the bed with me'                                       97

  Blue Beard                                                        101

  'She washed it well'                                              104

  Sister Anne                                                       105

  'Brandishing the cutlass aloft'                                   109

  'At first she found it very hard'                                 115

  '"Look at our little sister"'                                     117

  'It was snowing horribly'                                         119

  The Beast                                                         122

  '"Your doom is to become statues"'                                135

  'The approach to it was by ten thousand steps'                    143

  The Friendly Frog                                                 146

  'The journey lasted seven years'                                  155

  Princess Rosette                                                  179

  The wicked nurse                                                  186

  'She was an ugly little fright'                                   189

  'She floated hither and thither'                                  194

  'A kindly old man'                                                195



[Illustration: Decoration]



THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD


Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who were grieved, more
grieved than words can tell, because they had no children. They tried
the waters of every country, made vows and pilgrimages, and did
everything that could be done, but without result. At last, however, the
queen found that her wishes were fulfilled, and in due course she gave
birth to a daughter.

A grand christening was held, and all the fairies that could be found in
the realm (they numbered seven in all) were invited to be godmothers to
the little princess. This was done so that by means of the gifts which
each in turn would bestow upon her (in accordance with the fairy custom
of those days) the princess might be endowed with every imaginable
perfection.

When the christening ceremony was over, all the company returned to the
king's palace, where a great banquet was held in honour of the fairies.
Places were laid for them in magnificent style, and before each was
placed a solid gold casket containing a spoon, fork, and knife of fine
gold, set with diamonds and rubies. But just as all were sitting down to
table an aged fairy was seen to enter, whom no one had thought to
invite--the reason being that for more than fifty years she had never
quitted the tower in which she lived, and people had supposed her to be
dead or bewitched.

By the king's orders a place was laid for her, but it was impossible to
give her a golden casket like the others, for only seven had been made
for the seven fairies. The old creature believed that she was
intentionally slighted, and muttered threats between her teeth.

She was overheard by one of the young fairies, who was seated near by.
The latter, guessing that some mischievous gift might be bestowed upon
the little princess, hid behind the tapestry as soon as the company left
the table. Her intention was to be the last to speak, and so to have the
power of counteracting, as far as possible, any evil which the old fairy
might do.

Presently the fairies began to bestow their gifts upon the princess. The
youngest ordained that she should be the most beautiful person in the
world; the next, that she should have the temper of an angel; the third,
that she should do everything with wonderful grace; the fourth, that she
should dance to perfection; the fifth, that she should sing like a
nightingale; and the sixth, that she should play every kind of music
with the utmost skill.

It was now the turn of the aged fairy. Shaking her head, in token of
spite rather than of infirmity, she declared that the princess should
prick her hand with a spindle, and die of it. A shudder ran through the
company at this terrible gift. All eyes were filled with tears.

But at this moment the young fairy stepped forth from behind the
tapestry.

'Take comfort, your Majesties,' she cried in a loud voice; 'your
daughter shall not die. My power, it is true, is not enough to undo all
that my aged kinswoman has decreed: the princess will indeed prick her
hand with a spindle. But instead of dying she shall merely fall into
a profound slumber that will last a hundred years. At the end of that
time a king's son shall come to awaken her.'

[Illustration: '_The king ... at once published an edict_']

The king, in an attempt to avert the unhappy doom pronounced by the old
fairy, at once published an edict forbidding all persons, under pain of
death, to use a spinning-wheel or keep a spindle in the house.

At the end of fifteen or sixteen years the king and queen happened one
day to be away, on pleasure bent. The princess was running about the
castle, and going upstairs from room to room she came at length to a
garret at the top of a tower, where an old serving-woman sat alone with
her distaff, spinning. This good woman had never heard speak of the
king's proclamation forbidding the use of spinning-wheels.

'What are you doing, my good woman?' asked the princess.

'I am spinning, my pretty child,' replied the dame, not knowing who she
was.

'Oh, what fun!' rejoined the princess; 'how do you do it? Let me try and
see if I can do it equally well.'

Partly because she was too hasty, partly because she was a little
heedless, but also because the fairy decree had ordained it, no sooner
had she seized the spindle than she pricked her hand and fell down in a
swoon.

In great alarm the good dame cried out for help. People came running
from every quarter to the princess. They threw water on her face, chafed
her with their hands, and rubbed her temples with the royal essence of
Hungary. But nothing would restore her.

Then the king, who had been brought upstairs by the commotion,
remembered the fairy prophecy. Feeling certain that what had happened
was inevitable, since the fairies had decreed it, he gave orders that
the princess should be placed in the finest apartment in the palace,
upon a bed embroidered in gold and silver.

You would have thought her an angel, so fair was she to behold. The
trance had not taken away the lovely colour of her complexion. Her
cheeks were delicately flushed, her lips like coral. Her eyes, indeed,
were closed, but her gentle breathing could be heard, and it was
therefore plain that she was not dead. The king commanded that she
should be left to sleep in peace until the hour of her awakening should
come.

When the accident happened to the princess, the good fairy who had saved
her life by condemning her to sleep a hundred years was in the kingdom
of Mataquin, twelve thousand leagues away. She was instantly warned of
it, however, by a little dwarf who had a pair of seven-league boots,
which are boots that enable one to cover seven leagues at a single step.
The fairy set off at once, and within an hour her chariot of fire, drawn
by dragons, was seen approaching.

The king handed her down from her chariot, and she approved of all that
he had done. But being gifted with great powers of foresight, she
bethought herself that when the princess came to be awakened, she would
be much distressed to find herself all alone in the old castle. And this
is what she did.

[Illustration: '_A little dwarf who had a pair of seven-league boots_']

She touched with her wand everybody (except the king and queen) who was
in the castle--governesses, maids of honour, ladies-in-waiting,
gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, scullions, errand boys, guards,
porters, pages, footmen. She touched likewise all the horses in the
stables, with their grooms, the big mastiffs in the courtyard, and
little Puff, the pet dog of the princess, who was lying on the bed
beside his mistress. The moment she had touched them they all fell
asleep, to awaken only at the same moment as their mistress. Thus they
would always be ready with their service whenever she should require it.
The very spits before the fire, loaded with partridges and pheasants,
subsided into slumber, and the fire as well. All was done in a moment,
for the fairies do not take long over their work.

Then the king and queen kissed their dear child, without waking her, and
left the castle. Proclamations were issued, forbidding any approach to
it, but these warnings were not needed, for within a quarter of an hour
there grew up all round the park so vast a quantity of trees big and
small, with interlacing brambles and thorns, that neither man nor beast
could penetrate them. The tops alone of the castle towers could be seen,
and these only from a distance. Thus did the fairy's magic contrive that
the princess, during all the time of her slumber, should have nought
whatever to fear from prying eyes.

At the end of a hundred years the throne had passed to another family
from that of the sleeping princess. One day the king's son chanced to go
a-hunting that way, and seeing in the distance some towers in the midst
of a large and dense forest, he asked what they were. His attendants
told him in reply the various stories which they had heard. Some said
there was an old castle haunted by ghosts, others that all the witches
of the neighbourhood held their revels there. The favourite tale was
that in the castle lived an ogre, who carried thither all the children
whom he could catch. There he devoured them at his leisure, and since he
was the only person who could force a passage through the wood nobody
had been able to pursue him.

[Illustration: '_The king's son chanced to go a-hunting_']

While the prince was wondering what to believe, an old peasant took up
the tale.

'Your Highness,' said he, 'more than fifty years ago I heard my father
say that in this castle lies a princess, the most beautiful that has
ever been seen. It is her doom to sleep there for a hundred years, and
then to be awakened by a king's son, for whose coming she waits.'

This story fired the young prince. He jumped immediately to the
conclusion that it was for him to see so gay an adventure through, and
impelled alike by the wish for love and glory, he resolved to set about
it on the spot.

Hardly had he taken a step towards the wood when the tall trees, the
brambles and the thorns, separated of themselves and made a path for
him. He turned in the direction of the castle, and espied it at the end
of a long avenue. This avenue he entered, and was surprised to notice
that the trees closed up again as soon as he had passed, so that none of
his retinue were able to follow him. A young and gallant prince is
always brave, however; so he continued on his way, and presently reached
a large fore-court.

The sight that now met his gaze was enough to fill him with an icy fear.
The silence of the place was dreadful, and death seemed all about him.
The recumbent figures of men and animals had all the appearance of being
lifeless, until he perceived by the pimply noses and ruddy faces of the
porters that they merely slept. It was plain, too, from their glasses,
in which were still some dregs of wine, that they had fallen asleep
while drinking.

The prince made his way into a great courtyard, paved with marble, and
mounting the staircase entered the guardroom. Here the guards were lined
up on either side in two ranks, their muskets on their shoulders,
snoring their hardest. Through several apartments crowded with ladies
and gentlemen in waiting, some seated, some standing, but all asleep, he
pushed on, and so came at last to a chamber which was decked all over
with gold. There he encountered the most beautiful sight he had ever
seen. Reclining upon a bed, the curtains of which on every side were
drawn back, was a princess of seemingly some fifteen or sixteen summers,
whose radiant beauty had an almost unearthly lustre.

[Illustration: '_All asleep_']

Trembling in his admiration he drew near and went on his knees beside
her. At the same moment, the hour of disenchantment having come, the
princess awoke, and bestowed upon him a look more tender than a first
glance might seem to warrant.

'Is it you, dear prince?' she said; 'you have been long in coming!'

Charmed by these words, and especially by the manner in which they were
said, the prince scarcely knew how to express his delight and
gratification. He declared that he loved her better than he loved
himself. His words were faltering, but they pleased the more for that.
The less there is of eloquence, the more there is of love.

Her embarrassment was less than his, and that is not to be wondered at,
since she had had time to think of what she would say to him. It seems
(although the story says nothing about it) that the good fairy had
beguiled her long slumber with pleasant dreams. To be brief, after four
hours of talking they had not succeeded in uttering one half of the
things they had to say to each other.

[Illustration: '_They all fell asleep_']

Now the whole palace had awakened with the princess. Every one went
about his business, and since they were not all in love they presently
began to feel mortally hungry. The lady-in-waiting, who was suffering
like the rest, at length lost patience, and in a loud voice called out
to the princess that supper was served.

The princess was already fully dressed, and in most magnificent style.
As he helped her to rise, the prince refrained from telling her that her
clothes, with the straight collar which she wore, were like those to
which his grandmother had been accustomed. And in truth, they in no way
detracted from her beauty.

They passed into an apartment hung with mirrors, and were there served
with supper by the stewards of the household, while the fiddles and
oboes played some old music--and played it remarkably well, considering
they had not played at all for just upon a hundred years. A little
later, when supper was over, the chaplain married them in the castle
chapel, and in due course, attended by the courtiers in waiting, they
retired to rest.

They slept but little, however. The princess, indeed, had not much need
of sleep, and as soon as morning came the prince took his leave of her.
He returned to the city, and told his father, who was awaiting him with
some anxiety, that he had lost himself while hunting in the forest, but
had obtained some black bread and cheese from a charcoal-burner, in
whose hovel he had passed the night. His royal father, being of an
easy-going nature, believed the tale, but his mother was not so easily
hoodwinked. She noticed that he now went hunting every day, and that he
always had an excuse handy when he had slept two or three nights from
home. She felt certain, therefore, that he had some love affair.

Two whole years passed since the marriage of the prince and princess,
and during that time they had two children. The first, a daughter, was
called 'Dawn,' while the second, a boy, was named 'Day,' because he
seemed even more beautiful than his sister.

Many a time the queen told her son that he ought to settle down in life.
She tried in this way to make him confide in her, but he did not dare to
trust her with his secret. Despite the affection which he bore her, he
was afraid of his mother, for she came of a race of ogres, and the king
had only married her for her wealth.

It was whispered at the Court that she had ogrish instincts, and that
when little children were near her she had the greatest difficulty in
the world to keep herself from pouncing on them.

No wonder the prince was reluctant to say a word.

But at the end of two years the king died, and the prince found himself
on the throne. He then made public announcement of his marriage, and
went in state to fetch his royal consort from her castle. With her two
children beside her she made a triumphal entry into the capital of her
husband's realm.

Some time afterwards the king declared war on his neighbour, the Emperor
Cantalabutte. He appointed the queen-mother as regent in his absence,
and entrusted his wife and children to her care.

[Illustration: "THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SIGHT HE HAD EVER SEEN."]

He expected to be away at the war for the whole of the summer, and as
soon as he was gone the queen-mother sent her daughter-in-law and the
two children to a country mansion in the forest. This she did that
she might be able the more easily to gratify her horrible longings. A
few days later she went there herself, and in the evening summoned the
chief steward.

'For my dinner to-morrow,' she told him, 'I will eat little Dawn.'

'Oh, Madam!' exclaimed the steward.

'That is my will,' said the queen; and she spoke in the tones of an ogre
who longs for raw meat.

'You will serve her with piquant sauce,' she added.

The poor man, seeing plainly that it was useless to trifle with an
ogress, took his big knife and went up to little Dawn's chamber. She was
at that time four years old, and when she came running with a smile to
greet him, flinging her arms round his neck and coaxing him to give her
some sweets, he burst into tears, and let the knife fall from his hand.

Presently he went down to the yard behind the house, and slaughtered a
young lamb. For this he made so delicious a sauce that his mistress
declared she had never eaten anything so good.

At the same time the steward carried little Dawn to his wife, and bade
the latter hide her in the quarters which they had below the yard.

Eight days later the wicked queen summoned her steward again.

'For my supper,' she announced, 'I will eat little Day.'

The steward made no answer, being determined to trick her as he had done
previously. He went in search of little Day, whom he found with a tiny
foil in his hand, making brave passes--though he was but three years
old--at a big monkey. He carried him off to his wife, who stowed him
away in hiding with little Dawn. To the ogress the steward served up, in
place of Day, a young kid so tender that she found it surpassingly
delicious.

So far, so good. But there came an evening when this evil queen again
addressed the steward.

'I have a mind,' she said, 'to eat the queen with the same sauce as you
served with her children.'

This time the poor steward despaired of being able to practise another
deception. The young queen was twenty years old, without counting the
hundred years she had been asleep. Her skin, though white and beautiful,
had become a little tough, and what animal could he possibly find that
would correspond to her? He made up his mind that if he would save his
own life he must kill the queen, and went upstairs to her apartment
determined to do the deed once and for all. Goading himself into a rage
he drew his knife and entered the young queen's chamber, but a
reluctance to give her no moment of grace made him repeat respectfully
the command which he had received from the queen-mother.

'Do it! do it!' she cried, baring her neck to him; 'carry out the order
you have been given! Then once more I shall see my children, my poor
children that I loved so much!'

Nothing had been said to her when the children were stolen away, and she
believed them to be dead.

The poor steward was overcome by compassion. 'No, no, Madam,' he
declared; 'you shall not die, but you shall certainly see your children
again. That will be in my quarters, where I have hidden them. I shall
make the queen eat a young hind in place of you, and thus trick her
once more.'

Without more ado he led her to his quarters, and leaving her there to
embrace and weep over her children, proceeded to cook a hind with such
art that the queen-mother ate it for her supper with as much appetite as
if it had indeed been the young queen.

The queen-mother felt well satisfied with her cruel deeds, and planned
to tell the king, on his return, that savage wolves had devoured his
consort and his children. It was her habit, however, to prowl often
about the courts and alleys of the mansion, in the hope of scenting raw
meat, and one evening she heard the little boy Day crying in a basement
cellar. The child was weeping because his mother had threatened to whip
him for some naughtiness, and she heard at the same time the voice of
Dawn begging forgiveness for her brother.

The ogress recognised the voices of the queen and her children, and was
enraged to find she had been tricked. The next morning, in tones so
affrighting that all trembled, she ordered a huge vat to be brought into
the middle of the courtyard. This she filled with vipers and toads, with
snakes and serpents of every kind, intending to cast into it the queen
and her children, and the steward with his wife and serving-girl. By her
command these were brought forward, with their hands tied behind their
backs.

There they were, and her minions were making ready to cast them into the
vat, when into the courtyard rode the king! Nobody had expected him so
soon, but he had travelled post-haste. Filled with amazement, he
demanded to know what this horrible spectacle meant. None dared tell
him, and at that moment the ogress, enraged at what confronted her,
threw herself head foremost into the vat, and was devoured on the
instant by the hideous creatures she had placed in it.

The king could not but be sorry, for after all she was his mother; but
it was not long before he found ample consolation in his beautiful wife
and children.



[Illustration: "ALL THAT REMAINED FOR THE YOUNGEST WAS THE CAT."]

PUSS IN BOOTS


A certain miller had three sons, and when he died the sole worldly goods
which he bequeathed to them were his mill, his ass, and his cat. This
little legacy was very quickly divided up, and you may be quite sure
that neither notary nor attorney were called in to help, for they would
speedily have grabbed it all for themselves.

The eldest son took the mill, and the second son took the ass.
Consequently all that remained for the youngest son was the cat, and he
was not a little disappointed at receiving such a miserable portion.

'My brothers,' said he, 'will be able to get a decent living by joining
forces, but for my part, as soon as I have eaten my cat and made a muff
out of his skin, I am bound to die of hunger.'

These remarks were overheard by Puss, who pretended not to have been
listening, and said very soberly and seriously:

'There is not the least need for you to worry, Master. All you have to
do is to give me a pouch, and get a pair of boots made for me so that I
can walk in the woods. You will find then that your share is not so bad
after all.'

Now this cat had often shown himself capable of performing cunning
tricks. When catching rats and mice, for example, he would hide himself
amongst the meal and hang downwards by the feet as though he were dead.
His master, therefore, though he did not build too much on what the cat
had said, felt some hope of being assisted in his miserable plight.

On receiving the boots which he had asked for, Puss gaily pulled them
on. Then he hung the pouch round his neck, and holding the cords which
tied it in front of him with his paws, he sallied forth to a warren
where rabbits abounded. Placing some bran and lettuce in the pouch, he
stretched himself out and lay as if dead. His plan was to wait until
some young rabbit, unlearned in worldly wisdom, should come and rummage
in the pouch for the eatables which he had placed there.

Hardly had he laid himself down when things fell out as he wished. A
stupid young rabbit went into the pouch, and Master Puss, pulling the
cords tight, killed him on the instant.

Well satisfied with his capture, Puss departed to the king's palace.
There he demanded an audience, and was ushered upstairs. He entered the
royal apartment, and bowed profoundly to the king.

'I bring you, Sire,' said he, 'a rabbit from the warren of the marquis
of Carabas (such was the title he invented for his master), which I am
bidden to present to you on his behalf.'

'Tell your master,' replied the king, 'that I thank him, and am pleased
by his attention.'

[Illustration: '_As though he were dead_']

Another time the cat hid himself in a wheatfield, keeping the mouth of
his bag wide open. Two partridges ventured in, and by pulling the cords
tight he captured both of them. Off he went and presented them to the
king, just as he had done with the rabbit from the warren. His
Majesty was not less gratified by the brace of partridges, and handed
the cat a present for himself.

For two or three months Puss went on in this way, every now and again
taking to the king, as a present from his master, some game which he had
caught. There came a day when he learned that the king intended to take
his daughter, who was the most beautiful princess in the world, for an
excursion along the river bank.

'If you will do as I tell you,' said Puss to his master, 'your fortune
is made. You have only to go and bathe in the river at the spot which I
shall point out to you. Leave the rest to me.'

The marquis of Carabas had no idea what plan was afoot, but did as the
cat had directed.

While he was bathing the king drew near, and Puss at once began to cry
out at the top of his voice:

'Help! help! the marquis of Carabas is drowning!'

At these shouts the king put his head out of the carriage window. He
recognised the cat who had so often brought him game, and bade his
escort go speedily to the help of the marquis of Carabas.

While they were pulling the poor marquis out of the river, Puss
approached the carriage and explained to the king that while his master
was bathing robbers had come and taken away his clothes, though he had
cried 'Stop, thief!' at the top of his voice. As a matter of fact, the
rascal had hidden them under a big stone. The king at once commanded the
keepers of his wardrobe to go and select a suit of his finest clothes
for the marquis of Carabas.

The king received the marquis with many compliments, and as the fine
clothes which the latter had just put on set off his good looks (for he
was handsome and comely in appearance), the king's daughter found him
very much to her liking. Indeed, the marquis of Carabas had not bestowed
more than two or three respectful but sentimental glances upon her when
she fell madly in love with him. The king invited him to enter the coach
and join the party.

[Illustration: '_The cat went on ahead_']

Delighted to see his plan so successfully launched, the cat went on
ahead, and presently came upon some peasants who were mowing a field.

'Listen, my good fellows,' said he; 'if you do not tell the king that
the field which you are mowing belongs to the marquis of Carabas, you
will all be chopped up into little pieces like mince-meat.'

[Illustration: _Puss in Boots_]

In due course the king asked the mowers to whom the field on which they
were at work belonged.

'It is the property of the marquis of Carabas,' they all cried with one
voice, for the threat from Puss had frightened them.

'You have inherited a fine estate,' the king remarked to Carabas.

'As you see for yourself, Sire,' replied the marquis; 'this is a meadow
which never fails to yield an abundant crop each year.'

Still travelling ahead, the cat came upon some harvesters.

'Listen, my good fellows,' said he; 'if you do not declare that every
one of these fields belongs to the marquis of Carabas, you will all be
chopped up into little bits like mince-meat.'

The king came by a moment later, and wished to know who was the owner of
the fields in sight.

'It is the marquis of Carabas,' cried the harvesters.

At this the king was more pleased than ever with the marquis.

Preceding the coach on its journey, the cat made the same threat to all
whom he met, and the king grew astonished at the great wealth of the
marquis of Carabas.

Finally Master Puss reached a splendid castle, which belonged to an
ogre. He was the richest ogre that had ever been known, for all the
lands through which the king had passed were part of the castle domain.

The cat had taken care to find out who this ogre was, and what powers he
possessed. He now asked for an interview, declaring that he was
unwilling to pass so close to the castle without having the honour of
paying his respects to the owner.

The ogre received him as civilly as an ogre can, and bade him sit down.

'I have been told,' said Puss, 'that you have the power to change
yourself into any kind of animal--for example, that you can transform
yourself into a lion or an elephant.'

'That is perfectly true,' said the ogre, curtly; 'and just to prove it
you shall see me turn into a lion.'

Puss was so frightened on seeing a lion before him that he sprang on to
the roof--not without difficulty and danger, for his boots were not
meant for walking on the tiles.

Perceiving presently that the ogre had abandoned his transformation,
Puss descended, and owned to having been thoroughly frightened.

'I have also been told,' he added, 'but I can scarcely believe it, that
you have the further power to take the shape of the smallest
animals--for example, that you can change yourself into a rat or a
mouse. I confess that to me it seems quite impossible.'

'Impossible?' cried the ogre; 'you shall see!' And in the same moment he
changed himself into a mouse, which began to run about the floor. No
sooner did Puss see it than he pounced on it and ate it.

Presently the king came along, and noticing the ogre's beautiful mansion
desired to visit it. The cat heard the rumble of the coach as it crossed
the castle drawbridge, and running out to the courtyard cried to the
king:

'Welcome, your Majesty, to the castle of the marquis of Carabas!'

[Illustration: '_Puss became a personage of great importance_']

'What's that?' cried the king. 'Is this castle also yours, marquis?
Nothing could be finer than this courtyard and the buildings which I see
all about. With your permission we will go inside and look round.'

The marquis gave his hand to the young princess, and followed the king
as he led the way up the staircase. Entering a great hall they found
there a magnificent collation. This had been prepared by the ogre for
some friends who were to pay him a visit that very day. The latter had
not dared to enter when they learned that the king was there.

The king was now quite as charmed with the excellent qualities of the
marquis of Carabas as his daughter. The latter was completely captivated
by him. Noting the great wealth of which the marquis was evidently
possessed, and having quaffed several cups of wine, he turned to his
host, saying:

'It rests with you, marquis, whether you will be my son-in-law.'

The marquis, bowing very low, accepted the honour which the king
bestowed upon him. The very same day he married the princess.

Puss became a personage of great importance, and gave up hunting mice,
except for amusement.

[Illustration: Decoration]



LITTLE TOM THUMB


Once upon a time there lived a wood-cutter and his wife, who had seven
children, all boys. The eldest was only ten years old, and the youngest
was seven. People were astonished that the wood-cutter had had so many
children in so short a time, but the reason was that his wife delighted
in children, and never had less than two at a time.

They were very poor, and their seven children were a great tax on them,
for none of them was yet able to earn his own living. And they were
troubled also because the youngest was very delicate and could not speak
a word. They mistook for stupidity what was in reality a mark of good
sense.

This youngest boy was very little. At his birth he was scarcely bigger
than a man's thumb, and he was called in consequence 'Little Tom Thumb.'
The poor child was the scapegoat of the family, and got the blame for
everything. All the same, he was the sharpest and shrewdest of the
brothers, and if he spoke but little he listened much.

There came a very bad year, when the famine was so great that these poor
people resolved to get rid of their family. One evening, after the
children had gone to bed, the wood-cutter was sitting in the
chimney-corner with his wife. His heart was heavy with sorrow as he said
to her:

'It must be plain enough to you that we can no longer feed our
children. I cannot see them die of hunger before my eyes, and I have
made up my mind to take them to-morrow to the forest and lose them
there. It will be easy enough to manage, for while they are amusing
themselves by collecting faggots we have only to disappear without their
seeing us.'

'Ah!' cried the wood-cutter's wife, 'do you mean to say you are capable
of letting your own children be lost?'

In vain did her husband remind her of their terrible poverty; she could
not agree. She was poor, but she was their mother. In the end, however,
reflecting what a grief it would be to see them die of hunger, she
consented to the plan, and went weeping to bed.

Little Tom Thumb had heard all that was said. Having discovered, when in
bed, that serious talk was going on, he had got up softly, and had
slipped under his father's stool in order to listen without being seen.
He went back to bed, but did not sleep a wink for the rest of the night,
thinking over what he had better do. In the morning he rose very early
and went to the edge of a brook. There he filled his pockets with little
white pebbles and came quickly home again.

They all set out, and little Tom Thumb said not a word to his brothers
of what he knew.

They went into a forest which was so dense that when only ten paces
apart they could not see each other. The wood-cutter set about his work,
and the children began to collect twigs to make faggots. Presently the
father and mother, seeing them busy at their task, edged gradually away,
and then hurried off in haste along a little narrow footpath.

When the children found they were alone they began to cry and call out
with all their might. Little Tom Thumb let them cry, being confident
that they would get back home again. For on the way he had dropped the
little white stones which he carried in his pocket all along the path.

'Don't be afraid, brothers,' he said presently; 'our parents have left
us here, but I will take you home again. Just follow me.'

They fell in behind him, and he led them straight to their house by the
same path which they had taken to the forest. At first they dared not go
in, but placed themselves against the door, where they could hear
everything their father and mother were saying.

Now the wood-cutter and his wife had no sooner reached home than the
lord of the manor sent them a sum of ten crowns which had been owing
from him for a long time, and of which they had given up hope. This put
new life into them, for the poor creatures were dying of hunger.

The wood-cutter sent his wife off to the butcher at once, and as it was
such a long time since they had had anything to eat, she bought three
times as much meat as a supper for two required.

When they found themselves once more at table, the wood-cutter's wife
began to lament.

'Alas! where are our poor children now?' she said; 'they could make a
good meal off what we have over. Mind you, William, it was you who
wished to lose them: I declared over and over again that we should
repent it. What are they doing now in that forest? Merciful heavens,
perhaps the wolves have already eaten them! A monster you must be to
lose your children in this way!'

[Illustration: '_A good dame opened the door_']

At last the wood-cutter lost patience, for she repeated more than twenty
times that he would repent it, and that she had told him so. He
threatened to beat her if she did not hold her tongue.

It was not that the wood-cutter was less grieved than his wife, but she
browbeat him, and he was of the same opinion as many other people, who
like a woman to have the knack of saying the right thing, but not the
trick of being always in the right.

'Alas!' cried the wood-cutter's wife, bursting into tears, 'where are
now my children, my poor children?'

She said it once so loud that the children at the door heard it plainly.
Together they all called out:

'Here we are! Here we are!'

She rushed to open the door for them, and exclaimed, as she embraced
them:

'How glad I am to see you again, dear children! You must be very tired
and very hungry. And you, Peterkin, how muddy you are--come and let me
wash you!'

This Peterkin was her eldest son. She loved him more than all the others
because he was inclined to be red-headed, and she herself was rather
red.

They sat down at the table and ate with an appetite which it did their
parents good to see. They all talked at once, as they recounted the
fears they had felt in the forest.

The good souls were delighted to have their children with them again,
and the pleasure continued as long as the ten crowns lasted. But when
the money was all spent they relapsed into their former sadness. They
again resolved to lose the children, and to lead them much further away
than they had done the first time, so as to do the job thoroughly. But
though they were careful not to speak openly about it, their
conversation did not escape little Tom Thumb, who made up his mind to
get out of the situation as he had done on the former occasion.

But though he got up early to go and collect his little stones, he found
the door of the house doubly locked, and he could not carry out his
plan.

He could not think what to do until the wood-cutter's wife gave them
each a piece of bread for breakfast. Then it occurred to him to use the
bread in place of the stones, by throwing crumbs along the path which
they took, and he tucked it tight in his pocket.

Their parents led them into the thickest and darkest part of the forest,
and as soon as they were there slipped away by a side-path and left
them. This did not much trouble little Tom Thumb, for he believed he
could easily find the way back by means of the bread which he had
scattered wherever he walked. But to his dismay he could not discover a
single crumb. The birds had come along and eaten it all.

They were in sore trouble now, for with every step they strayed further,
and became more and more entangled in the forest. Night came on and a
terrific wind arose, which filled them with dreadful alarm. On every
side they seemed to hear nothing but the howling of wolves which were
coming to eat them up. They dared not speak or move.

In addition it began to rain so heavily that they were soaked to the
skin. At every step they tripped and fell on the wet ground, getting up
again covered with mud, not knowing what to do with their hands.

Little Tom Thumb climbed to the top of a tree, in an endeavour to see
something. Looking all about him he espied, far away on the other side
of the forest, a little light like that of a candle. He got down from
the tree, and was terribly disappointed to find that when he was on the
ground he could see nothing at all.

After they had walked some distance in the direction of the light,
however, he caught a glimpse of it again as they were nearing the edge
of the forest. At last they reached the house where the light was
burning, but not without much anxiety, for every time they had to go
down into a hollow they lost sight of it.

They knocked at the door, and a good dame opened to them. She asked them
what they wanted.

Little Tom Thumb explained that they were poor children who had lost
their way in the forest, and begged her, for pity's sake, to give them a
night's lodging.

Noticing what bonny children they all were, the woman began to cry.

'Alas, my poor little dears!' she said; 'you do not know the place you
have come to! Have you not heard that this is the house of an ogre who
eats little children?'

'Alas, madam!' answered little Tom Thumb, trembling like all the rest of
his brothers, 'what shall we do? One thing is very certain: if you do
not take us in, the wolves of the forest will devour us this very night,
and that being so we should prefer to be eaten by your husband. Perhaps
he may take pity on us, if you will plead for us.'

The ogre's wife, thinking she might be able to hide them from her
husband till the next morning, allowed them to come in, and put them to
warm near a huge fire, where a whole sheep was cooking on the spit for
the ogre's supper.

Just as they were beginning to get warm they heard two or three great
bangs at the door. The ogre had returned. His wife hid them quickly
under the bed and ran to open the door.

The first thing the ogre did was to ask whether supper was ready and the
wine opened. Then without ado he sat down to table. Blood was still
dripping from the sheep, but it seemed all the better to him for that.
He sniffed to right and left, declaring that he could smell fresh flesh.

'Indeed!' said his wife. 'It must be the calf which I have just dressed
that you smell.'

'_I smell fresh flesh_, I tell you,' shouted the ogre, eyeing his wife
askance; 'and there is something going on here which I do not
understand.'

With these words he got up from the table and went straight to the bed.

'Aha!' said he; 'so this is the way you deceive me, wicked woman that
you are! I have a very great mind to eat you too! It's lucky for you
that you are old and tough! I am expecting three ogre friends of mine to
pay me a visit in the next few days, and here is a tasty dish which will
just come in nicely for them!'

One after another he dragged the children out from under the bed.

[Illustration: '_He could smell fresh flesh_']

The poor things threw themselves on their knees, imploring mercy; but
they had to deal with the most cruel of all ogres. Far from pitying
them, he was already devouring them with his eyes, and repeating to
his wife that when cooked with a good sauce they would make most dainty
morsels.

Off he went to get a large knife, which he sharpened, as he drew near
the poor children, on a long stone in his left hand.

He had already seized one of them when his wife called out to him. 'What
do you want to do it now for?' she said; 'will it not be time enough
to-morrow?'

'Hold your tongue,' replied the ogre; 'they will be all the more
tender.'

'But you have such a lot of meat,' rejoined his wife; 'look, there are a
calf, two sheep, and half a pig.'

'You are right,' said the ogre; 'give them a good supper to fatten them
up, and take them to bed.'

The good woman was overjoyed and brought them a splendid supper; but the
poor little wretches were so cowed with fright that they could not eat.

As for the ogre, he went back to his drinking, very pleased to have such
good entertainment for his friends. He drank a dozen cups more than
usual, and was obliged to go off to bed early, for the wine had gone
somewhat to his head.

Now the ogre had seven daughters who as yet were only children. These
little ogresses all had the most lovely complexions, for, like their
father, they ate fresh meat. But they had little round grey eyes,
crooked noses, and very large mouths, with long and exceedingly sharp
teeth, set far apart. They were not so very wicked at present, but they
showed great promise, for already they were in the habit of killing
little children to suck their blood.

They had gone to bed early, and were all seven in a great bed, each with
a crown of gold upon her head.

In the same room there was another bed, equally large. Into this the
ogre's wife put the seven little boys, and then went to sleep herself
beside her husband.

Little Tom Thumb was fearful lest the ogre should suddenly regret that
he had not cut the throats of himself and his brothers the evening
before. Having noticed that the ogre's daughters all had golden crowns
upon their heads, he got up in the middle of the night and softly placed
his own cap and those of his brothers on their heads. Before doing so,
he carefully removed the crowns of gold, putting them on his own and his
brothers' heads. In this way, if the ogre were to feel like slaughtering
them that night he would mistake the girls for the boys, and _vice
versa_.

Things fell out just as he had anticipated. The ogre, waking up at
midnight, regretted that he had postponed till the morrow what he could
have done overnight. Jumping briskly out of bed, he seized his knife,
crying: 'Now then, let's see how the little rascals are; we won't make
the same mistake twice!'

He groped his way up to his daughters' room, and approached the bed in
which were the seven little boys. All were sleeping, with the exception
of little Tom Thumb, who was numb with fear when he felt the ogre's
hand, as it touched the head of each brother in turn, reach his own.

'Upon my word,' said the ogre, as he felt the golden crowns; 'a nice job
I was going to make of it! It is very evident that I drank a little too
much last night!'

Forthwith he went to the bed where his daughters were, and here he felt
the little boys' caps.

'Aha, here are the little scamps!' he cried; 'now for a smart bit of
work!'

[Illustration: '_He set off over the countryside_']

With these words, and without a moment's hesitation, he cut the throats
of his seven daughters, and well satisfied with his work went back to
bed beside his wife.

No sooner did little Tom Thumb hear him snoring than he woke up his
brothers, bidding them dress quickly and follow him. They crept quietly
down to the garden, and jumped from the wall. All through the night they
ran in haste and terror, without the least idea of where they were
going.

When the ogre woke up he said to his wife:

'Go upstairs and dress those little rascals who were here last night.'

The ogre's wife was astonished at her husband's kindness, never doubting
that he meant her to go and put on their clothes. She went upstairs, and
was horrified to discover her seven daughters bathed in blood, with
their throats cut.

She fell at once into a swoon, which is the way of most women in similar
circumstances.

The ogre, thinking his wife was very long in carrying out his orders,
went up to help her, and was no less astounded than his wife at the
terrible spectacle which confronted him.

'What's this I have done?' he exclaimed. 'I will be revenged on the
wretches, and quickly, too!'

He threw a jugful of water over his wife's face, and having brought her
round ordered her to fetch his seven-league boots, so that he might
overtake the children.

He set off over the countryside, and strode far and wide until he came
to the road along which the poor children were travelling. They were not
more than a few yards from their home when they saw the ogre striding
from hill-top to hill-top, and stepping over rivers as though they were
merely tiny streams.

Little Tom Thumb espied near at hand a cave in some rocks. In this he
hid his brothers, and himself followed them in, while continuing to keep
a watchful eye upon the movements of the ogre.

Now the ogre was feeling very tired after so much fruitless marching
(for seven-league boots are very fatiguing to their wearer), and felt
like taking a little rest. As it happened, he went and sat down on the
very rock beneath which the little boys were hiding. Overcome with
weariness, he had not sat there long before he fell asleep and began to
snore so terribly that the poor children were as frightened as when he
had held his great knife to their throats.

Little Tom Thumb was not so alarmed. He told his brothers to flee at
once to their home while the ogre was still sleeping soundly, and not to
worry about him. They took his advice and ran quickly home.

Little Tom Thumb now approached the ogre and gently pulled off his
boots, which he at once donned himself. The boots were very heavy and
very large, but being enchanted boots they had the faculty of growing
larger or smaller according to the leg they had to suit. Consequently
they always fitted as though they had been made for the wearer.

He went straight to the ogre's house, where he found the ogre's wife
weeping over her murdered daughters.

[Illustration: '_Laden with all the ogre's wealth_']

'Your husband,' said little Tom Thumb, 'is in great danger, for he has
been captured by a gang of thieves, and the latter have sworn to kill
him if he does not hand over all his gold and silver. Just as they had
the dagger at his throat, he caught sight of me and begged me to come to
you and thus rescue him from his terrible plight. You are to give me
everything of value which he possesses, without keeping back a thing,
otherwise he will be slain without mercy. As the matter is urgent he
wished me to wear his seven-league boots, to save time, and also to
prove to you that I am no impostor.'

The ogre's wife, in great alarm, gave him immediately all that she had,
for although this was an ogre who devoured little children, he was by no
means a bad husband.

Little Tom Thumb, laden with all the ogre's wealth, forthwith repaired
to his father's house, where he was received with great joy.

       *       *       *       *       *

Many people do not agree about this last adventure, and pretend that
little Tom Thumb never committed this theft from the ogre, and only took
the seven-league boots, about which he had no compunction, since they
were only used by the ogre for catching little children. These folks
assert that they are in a position to know, having been guests at the
wood-cutter's cottage. They further say that when little Tom Thumb had
put on the ogre's boots, he went off to the Court, where he knew there
was great anxiety concerning the result of a battle which was being
fought by an army two hundred leagues away.

They say that he went to the king and undertook, if desired, to bring
news of the army before the day was out; and that the king promised him
a large sum of money if he could carry out his project.

Little Tom Thumb brought news that very night, and this first errand
having brought him into notice, he made as much money as he wished. For
not only did the king pay him handsomely to carry orders to the army,
but many ladies at the court gave him anything he asked to get them news
of their lovers, and this was his greatest source of income. He was
occasionally entrusted by wives with letters to their husbands, but they
paid him so badly, and this branch of the business brought him in so
little, that he did not even bother to reckon what he made from it.

After acting as courier for some time, and amassing great wealth
thereby, little Tom Thumb returned to his father's house, and was there
greeted with the greatest joy imaginable. He made all his family
comfortable, buying newly-created positions for his father and brothers.
In this way he set them all up, not forgetting at the same time to look
well after himself.



THE FAIRIES


Once upon a time there lived a widow with two daughters. The elder was
often mistaken for her mother, so like her was she both in nature and in
looks; parent and child being so disagreeable and arrogant that no one
could live with them.

The younger girl, who took after her father in the gentleness and
sweetness of her disposition, was also one of the prettiest girls
imaginable. The mother doted on the elder daughter--naturally enough,
since she resembled her so closely--and disliked the younger one as
intensely. She made the latter live in the kitchen and work hard from
morning till night.

One of the poor child's many duties was to go twice a day and draw water
from a spring a good half-mile away, bringing it back in a large
pitcher. One day when she was at the spring an old woman came up and
begged for a drink.

'Why, certainly, good mother,' the pretty lass replied. Rinsing her
pitcher, she drew some water from the cleanest part of the spring and
handed it to the dame, lifting up the jug so that she might drink the
more easily.

Now this old woman was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor village
dame to see just how far the girl's good nature would go. 'You are so
pretty,' she said, when she had finished drinking, 'and so polite, that
I am determined to bestow a gift upon you. This is the boon I grant
you: with every word that you utter there shall fall from your mouth
either a flower or a precious stone.'

When the girl reached home she was scolded by her mother for being so
long in coming back from the spring.

'I am sorry to have been so long, mother,' said the poor child.

As she spoke these words there fell from her mouth three roses, three
pearls, and three diamonds.

'What's this?' cried her mother; 'did I see pearls and diamonds dropping
out of your mouth? What does this mean, dear daughter?' (This was the
first time she had ever addressed her daughter affectionately.)

The poor child told a simple tale of what had happened, and in speaking
scattered diamonds right and left.

'Really,' said her mother, 'I must send my own child there. Come here,
Fanchon; look what comes out of your sister's mouth whenever she speaks!
Wouldn't you like to be able to do the same? All you have to do is to go
and draw some water at the spring, and when a poor woman asks you for a
drink, give it her very nicely.'

'Oh, indeed!' replied the ill-mannered girl; 'don't you wish you may see
me going there!'

'I tell you that you are to go,' said her mother, 'and to go this
instant.'

[Illustration: '_Lifting up the jug so that she might drink the more
easily_']

Very sulkily the girl went off, taking with her the best silver flagon
in the house. No sooner had she reached the spring than she saw a lady,
magnificently attired, who came towards her from the forest, and asked
for a drink. This was the same fairy who had appeared to her sister,
masquerading now as a princess in order to see how far this girl's
ill-nature would carry her.

'Do you think I have come here just to get you a drink?' said the
loutish damsel, arrogantly. 'I suppose you think I brought a silver
flagon here specially for that purpose--it's so likely, isn't it? Drink
from the spring, if you want to!'

'You are not very polite,' said the fairy, displaying no sign of anger.
'Well, in return for your lack of courtesy I decree that for every word
you utter a snake or a toad shall drop out of your mouth.'

The moment her mother caught sight of her coming back she cried out,
'Well, daughter?'

'Well, mother?' replied the rude girl. As she spoke a viper and a toad
were spat out of her mouth.

'Gracious heavens!' cried her mother; 'what do I see? Her sister is the
cause of this, and I will make her pay for it!'

Off she ran to thrash the poor child, but the latter fled away and hid
in the forest near by. The king's son met her on his way home from
hunting, and noticing how pretty she was inquired what she was doing all
alone, and what she was weeping about.

'Alas, sir,' she cried; 'my mother has driven me from home!'

As she spoke the prince saw four or five pearls and as many diamonds
fall from her mouth. He begged her to tell him how this came about, and
she told him the whole story.

The king's son fell in love with her, and reflecting that such a gift as
had been bestowed upon her was worth more than any dowry which another
maiden might bring him, he took her to the palace of his royal father,
and there married her.

As for the sister, she made herself so hateful that even her mother
drove her out of the house. Nowhere could the wretched girl find any one
who would take her in, and at last she lay down in the forest and died.



RICKY OF THE TUFT


Once upon a time there was a queen who bore a son so ugly and misshapen
that for some time it was doubtful if he would have human form at all.
But a fairy who was present at his birth promised that he should have
plenty of brains, and added that by virtue of the gift which she had
just bestowed upon him he would be able to impart to the person whom he
should love best the same degree of intelligence which he possessed
himself.

This somewhat consoled the poor queen, who was greatly disappointed at
having brought into the world such a hideous brat. And indeed, no sooner
did the child begin to speak than his sayings proved to be full of
shrewdness, while all that he did was somehow so clever that he charmed
every one.

I forgot to mention that when he was born he had a little tuft of hair
upon his head. For this reason he was called Ricky of the Tuft, Ricky
being his family name.

Some seven or eight years later the queen of a neighbouring kingdom gave
birth to twin daughters. The first one to come into the world was more
beautiful than the dawn, and the queen was so overjoyed that it was
feared her great excitement might do her some harm. The same fairy who
had assisted at the birth of Ricky of the Tuft was present, and, in
order to moderate the transports of the queen she declared that this
little princess would have no sense at all, and would be as stupid as
she was beautiful.

The queen was deeply mortified, and a moment or two later her chagrin
became greater still, for the second daughter proved to be extremely
ugly.

'Do not be distressed, Madam,' said the fairy; 'your daughter shall be
recompensed in another way. She shall have so much good sense that her
lack of beauty will scarcely be noticed.'

'May Heaven grant it!' said the queen; 'but is there no means by which
the elder, who is so beautiful, can be endowed with some intelligence?'

'In the matter of brains I can do nothing for her, Madam,' said the
fairy, 'but as regards beauty I can do a great deal. As there is nothing
I would not do to please you, I will bestow upon her the power of making
beautiful any person who shall greatly please her.'

As the two princesses grew up their perfections increased, and
everywhere the beauty of the elder and the wit of the younger were the
subject of common talk.

It is equally true that their defects also increased as they became
older. The younger grew uglier every minute, and the elder daily became
more stupid. Either she answered nothing at all when spoken to, or
replied with some idiotic remark. At the same time she was so awkward
that she could not set four china vases on the mantelpiece without
breaking one of them, nor drink a glass of water without spilling half
of it over her clothes.

[Illustration: '_She could not set four china vases on the mantelpiece
without breaking one of them_']

Now although the elder girl possessed the great advantage which beauty
always confers upon youth, she was nevertheless outshone in almost all
company by her younger sister. At first every one gathered round the
beauty to see and admire her, but very soon they were all attracted by
the graceful and easy conversation of the clever one. In a very short
time the elder girl would be left entirely alone, while everybody
clustered round her sister.

[Illustration: '_Graceful and easy conversation_']

The elder princess was not so stupid that she was not aware of this, and
she would willingly have surrendered all her beauty for half her
sister's cleverness. Sometimes she was ready to die of grief, for the
queen, though a sensible woman, could not refrain from occasionally
reproaching her with her stupidity.

The princess had retired one day to a wood to bemoan her misfortune,
when she saw approaching her an ugly little man, of very disagreeable
appearance, but clad in magnificent attire.

This was the young prince Ricky of the Tuft. He had fallen in love with
her portrait, which was everywhere to be seen, and had left his father's
kingdom in order to have the pleasure of seeing and talking to her.

Delighted to meet her thus alone, he approached with every mark of
respect and politeness. But while he paid her the usual compliments he
noticed that she was plunged in melancholy.

'I cannot understand, madam,' he said, 'how any one with your beauty can
be so sad as you appear. I can boast of having seen many fair ladies,
and I declare that none of them could compare in beauty with you.'

'It is very kind of you to say so, sir,' answered the princess; and
stopped there, at a loss what to say further.

'Beauty,' said Ricky, 'is of such great advantage that everything else
can be disregarded; and I do not see that the possessor of it can have
anything much to grieve about.'

To this the princess replied:

'I would rather be as plain as you are and have some sense, than be as
beautiful as I am and at the same time stupid.'

'Nothing more clearly displays good sense, madam, than a belief that one
is not possessed of it. It follows, therefore, that the more one has,
the more one fears it to be wanting.'

'I am not sure about that,' said the princess; 'but I know only too well
that I am very stupid, and this is the reason of the misery which is
nearly killing me.'

'If that is all that troubles you, madam, I can easily put an end to
your suffering.'

'How will you manage that?' said the princess.

'I am able, madam,' said Ricky of the Tuft, 'to bestow as much good
sense as it is possible to possess on the person whom I love the most.
You are that person, and it therefore rests with you to decide whether
you will acquire so much intelligence. The only condition is that you
shall consent to marry me.'

The princess was dumbfounded, and remained silent.

'I can see,' pursued Ricky, 'that this suggestion perplexes you, and I
am not surprised. But I will give you a whole year to make up your mind
to it.'

The princess had so little sense, and at the same time desired it so
ardently, that she persuaded herself the end of this year would never
come. So she accepted the offer which had been made to her. No sooner
had she given her word to Ricky that she would marry him within one year
from that very day, than she felt a complete change come over her. She
found herself able to say all that she wished with the greatest ease,
and to say it in an elegant, finished, and natural manner. She at once
engaged Ricky in a brilliant and lengthy conversation, holding her own
so well that Ricky feared he had given her a larger share of sense than
he had retained for himself.

On her return to the palace amazement reigned throughout the Court at
such a sudden and extraordinary change. Whereas formerly they had been
accustomed to hear her give vent to silly, pert remarks, they now heard
her express herself sensibly and very wittily.

The entire Court was overjoyed. The only person not too pleased was the
younger sister, for now that she had no longer the advantage over the
elder in wit, she seemed nothing but a little fright in comparison.

The king himself often took her advice, and several times held his
councils in her apartment.

The news of this change spread abroad, and the princes of the
neighbouring kingdoms made many attempts to captivate her. Almost all
asked her in marriage. But she found none with enough sense, and so she
listened to all without promising herself to any.

At last came one who was so powerful, so rich, so witty, and so
handsome, that she could not help being somewhat attracted by him. Her
father noticed this, and told her she could make her own choice of a
husband: she had only to declare herself.

Now the more sense one has, the more difficult it is to make up one's
mind in an affair of this kind. After thanking her father, therefore,
she asked for a little time to think it over.

In order to ponder quietly what she had better do she went to walk in a
wood--the very one, as it happened, where she encountered Ricky of the
Tuft.

While she walked, deep in thought, she heard beneath her feet a thudding
sound, as though many people were running busily to and fro. Listening
more attentively she heard voices. 'Bring me that boiler,' said one;
then another--'Put some wood on that fire!'

At that moment the ground opened, and she saw below what appeared to be
a large kitchen full of cooks and scullions, and all the train of
attendants which the preparation of a great banquet involves. A gang of
some twenty or thirty spit-turners emerged and took up their positions
round a very long table in a path in the wood. They all wore their
cook's caps on one side, and with their basting implements in their
hands they kept time together as they worked, to the lilt of a melodious
song.

The princess was astonished by this spectacle, and asked for whom their
work was being done.

'For Prince Ricky of the Tuft, madam,' said the foreman of the gang;
'his wedding is to-morrow.'

At this the princess was more surprised than ever. In a flash she
remembered that it was a year to the very day since she had promised to
marry Prince Ricky of the Tuft, and was taken aback by the recollection.
The reason she had forgotten was that when she made the promise she was
still without sense, and with the acquisition of that intelligence which
the prince had bestowed upon her, all memory of her former stupidities
had been blotted out.

She had not gone another thirty paces when Ricky of the Tuft appeared
before her, gallant and resplendent, like a prince upon his wedding day.

'As you see, madam,' he said, 'I keep my word to the minute. I do not
doubt that you have come to keep yours, and by giving me your hand to
make me the happiest of men.'

'I will be frank with you,' replied the princess. 'I have not yet made
up my mind on the point, and I am afraid I shall never be able to take
the decision you desire.'

'You astonish me, madam,' said Ricky of the Tuft.

'I can well believe it,' said the princess, 'and undoubtedly, if I had
to deal with a clown, or a man who lacked good sense, I should feel
myself very awkwardly situated. "A princess must keep her word," he
would say, "and you must marry me because you promised to!" But I am
speaking to a man of the world, of the greatest good sense, and I am
sure that he will listen to reason. As you are aware, I could not make
up my mind to marry you even when I was entirely without sense; how can
you expect that to-day, possessing the intelligence you bestowed on me,
which makes me still more difficult to please than formerly, I should
take a decision which I could not take then? If you wished so much to
marry me, you were very wrong to relieve me of my stupidity, and to let
me see more clearly than I did.'

'If a man who lacked good sense,' replied Ricky of the Tuft, 'would be
justified, as you have just said, in reproaching you for breaking your
word, why do you expect, madam, that I should act differently where the
happiness of my whole life is at stake? Is it reasonable that people who
have sense should be treated worse than those who have none? Would you
maintain that for a moment--you, who so markedly have sense, and desired
so ardently to have it? But, pardon me, let us get to the facts. With
the exception of my ugliness, is there anything about me which
displeases you? Are you dissatisfied with my breeding, my brains, my
disposition, or my manners?'

'In no way,' replied the princess; 'I like exceedingly all that you have
displayed of the qualities you mention.'

'In that case,' said Ricky of the Tuft, 'happiness will be mine, for it
lies in your power to make me the most attractive of men.'

'How can that be done?' asked the princess.

[Illustration: _Ricky of the Tuft_]

'It will happen of itself,' replied Ricky of the Tuft, 'if you love me
well enough to wish that it be so. To remove your doubts, madam, let me
tell you that the same fairy who on the day of my birth bestowed upon
me the power of endowing with intelligence the woman of my choice, gave
to you also the power of endowing with beauty the man whom you should
love, and on whom you should wish to confer this favour.'

'If that is so,' said the princess, 'I wish with all my heart that you
may become the handsomest and most attractive prince in the world, and I
give you without reserve the boon which it is mine to bestow.'

No sooner had the princess uttered these words than Ricky of the Tuft
appeared before her eyes as the handsomest, most graceful and attractive
man that she had ever set eyes on.

Some people assert that this was not the work of fairy enchantment, but
that love alone brought about the transformation. They say that the
princess, as she mused upon her lover's constancy, upon his good sense,
and his many admirable qualities of heart and head, grew blind to the
deformity of his body and the ugliness of his face; that his hump back
seemed no more than was natural in a man who could make the courtliest
of bows, and that the dreadful limp which had formerly distressed her
now betokened nothing more than a certain diffidence and charming
deference of manner. They say further that she found his eyes shine all
the brighter for their squint, and that this defect in them was to her
but a sign of passionate love; while his great red nose she found nought
but martial and heroic.

However that may be, the princess promised to marry him on the spot,
provided only that he could obtain the consent of her royal father.

The king knew Ricky of the Tuft to be a prince both wise and witty, and
on learning of his daughter's regard for him, he accepted him with
pleasure as a son-in-law.

The wedding took place upon the morrow, just as Ricky of the Tuft had
foreseen, and in accordance with the arrangements he had long ago put in
train.



CINDERELLA


Once upon a time there was a worthy man who married for his second wife
the haughtiest, proudest woman that had ever been seen. She had two
daughters, who possessed their mother's temper and resembled her in
everything. Her husband, on the other hand, had a young daughter, who
was of an exceptionally sweet and gentle nature. She got this from her
mother, who had been the nicest person in the world.

The wedding was no sooner over than the stepmother began to display her
bad temper. She could not endure the excellent qualities of this young
girl, for they made her own daughters appear more hateful than ever. She
thrust upon her all the meanest tasks about the house. It was she who
had to clean the plates and the stairs, and sweep out the rooms of the
mistress of the house and her daughters. She slept on a wretched
mattress in a garret at the top of the house, while the sisters had
rooms with parquet flooring, and beds of the most fashionable style,
with mirrors in which they could see themselves from top to toe.

The poor girl endured everything patiently, not daring to complain to
her father. The latter would have scolded her, because he was entirely
ruled by his wife. When she had finished her work she used to sit
amongst the cinders in the corner of the chimney, and it was from this
habit that she came to be commonly known as Cinder-slut. The younger of
the two sisters, who was not quite so spiteful as the elder, called her
Cinderella. But her wretched clothes did not prevent Cinderella from
being a hundred times more beautiful than her sisters, for all their
resplendent garments.

It happened that the king's son gave a ball, and he invited all persons
of high degree. The two young ladies were invited amongst others, for
they cut a considerable figure in the country. Not a little pleased were
they, and the question of what clothes and what mode of dressing the
hair would become them best took up all their time. And all this meant
fresh trouble for Cinderella, for it was she who went over her sisters'
linen and ironed their ruffles. They could talk of nothing else but the
fashions in clothes.

'For my part,' said the elder, 'I shall wear my dress of red velvet,
with the Honiton lace.'

'I have only my everyday petticoat,' said the younger, 'but to make up
for it I shall wear my cloak with the golden flowers and my necklace of
diamonds, which are not so bad.'

They sent for a good hairdresser to arrange their double-frilled caps,
and bought patches at the best shop.

They summoned Cinderella and asked her advice, for she had good taste.
Cinderella gave them the best possible suggestions, and even offered to
dress their hair, to which they gladly agreed.

While she was thus occupied they said:

'Cinderella, would you not like to go to the ball?'

'Ah, but you fine young ladies are laughing at me. It would be no place
for me.'

[Illustration: '_The haughtiest, proudest woman that had ever been
seen_']

'That is very true, people would laugh to see a cinder-slut in the
ballroom.'

Any one else but Cinderella would have done their hair amiss, but she
was good-natured, and she finished them off to perfection. They were so
excited in their glee that for nearly two days they ate nothing. They
broke more than a dozen laces through drawing their stays tight in order
to make their waists more slender, and they were perpetually in front of
a mirror.

At last the happy day arrived. Away they went, Cinderella watching them
as long as she could keep them in sight. When she could no longer see
them she began to cry. Her godmother found her in tears, and asked what
was troubling her.

'I should like--I should like----'

She was crying so bitterly that she could not finish the sentence.

Said her godmother, who was a fairy:

'You would like to go to the ball, would you not?'

'Ah, yes,' said Cinderella, sighing.

'Well, well,' said her godmother, 'promise to be a good girl and I will
arrange for you to go.'

She took Cinderella into her room and said:

'Go into the garden and bring me a pumpkin.'

Cinderella went at once and gathered the finest that she could find.
This she brought to her godmother, wondering how a pumpkin could help in
taking her to the ball.

Her godmother scooped it out, and when only the rind was left, struck it
with her wand. Instantly the pumpkin was changed into a beautiful coach,
gilded all over.

Then she went and looked in the mouse-trap, where she found six mice
all alive. She told Cinderella to lift the door of the mouse-trap a
little, and as each mouse came out she gave it a tap with her wand,
whereupon it was transformed into a fine horse. So that here was a fine
team of six dappled mouse-grey horses.

But she was puzzled to know how to provide a coachman.

'I will go and see,' said Cinderella, 'if there is not a rat in the
rat-trap. We could make a coachman of him.'

'Quite right,' said her godmother, 'go and see.'

Cinderella brought in the rat-trap, which contained three big rats. The
fairy chose one specially on account of his elegant whiskers.

As soon as she had touched him he turned into a fat coachman with the
finest moustachios that ever were seen.

'Now go into the garden and bring me the six lizards which you will find
behind the water-butt.'

No sooner had they been brought than the godmother turned them into six
lackeys, who at once climbed up behind the coach in their braided
liveries, and hung on there as if they had never done anything else all
their lives.

Then said the fairy godmother:

'Well, there you have the means of going to the ball. Are you
satisfied?'

'Oh, yes, but am I to go like this in my ugly clothes?'

Her godmother merely touched her with her wand, and on the instant her
clothes were changed into garments of gold and silver cloth, bedecked
with jewels. After that her godmother gave her a pair of glass slippers,
the prettiest in the world.

[Illustration: '_Her godmother found her in tears_']

Thus altered, she entered the coach. Her godmother bade her not to stay
beyond midnight whatever happened, warning her that if she remained
at the ball a moment longer, her coach would again become a pumpkin, her
horses mice, and her lackeys lizards, while her old clothes would
reappear upon her once more.

She promised her godmother that she would not fail to leave the ball
before midnight, and away she went, beside herself with delight.

[Illustration: '_Away she went_']

The king's son, when he was told of the arrival of a great princess whom
nobody knew, went forth to receive her. He handed her down from the
coach, and led her into the hall where the company was assembled. At
once there fell a great silence. The dancers stopped, the violins played
no more, so rapt was the attention which everybody bestowed upon the
superb beauty of the unknown guest. Everywhere could be heard in
confused whispers:

'Oh, how beautiful she is!'

The king, old man as he was, could not take his eyes off her, and
whispered to the queen that it was many a long day since he had seen any
one so beautiful and charming.

All the ladies were eager to scrutinise her clothes and the dressing of
her hair, being determined to copy them on the morrow, provided they
could find materials so fine, and tailors so clever.

The king's son placed her in the seat of honour, and at once begged the
privilege of being her partner in a dance. Such was the grace with which
she danced that the admiration of all was increased.

A magnificent supper was served, but the young prince could eat nothing,
so taken up was he with watching her. She went and sat beside her
sisters, and bestowed numberless attentions upon them. She made them
share with her the oranges and lemons which the king had given
her--greatly to their astonishment, for they did not recognise her.

While they were talking, Cinderella heard the clock strike a quarter to
twelve. She at once made a profound curtsey to the company, and departed
as quickly as she could.

As soon as she was home again she sought out her godmother, and having
thanked her, declared that she wished to go upon the morrow once more to
the ball, because the king's son had invited her.

While she was busy telling her godmother all that had happened at the
ball, her two sisters knocked at the door. Cinderella let them in.

'What a long time you have been in coming!' she declared, rubbing her
eyes and stretching herself as if she had only just awakened. In real
truth she had not for a moment wished to sleep since they had left.

[Illustration: '_She rose and fled as nimbly as a fawn_']

'If you had been at the ball,' said one of the sisters, 'you would not
be feeling weary. There came a most beautiful princess, the most
beautiful that has ever been seen, and she bestowed numberless
attentions upon us, and gave us her oranges and lemons.'

Cinderella was overjoyed. She asked them the name of the princess, but
they replied that no one knew it, and that the king's son was so
distressed that he would give anything in the world to know who she was.

Cinderella smiled, and said she must have been beautiful indeed.

'Oh, how lucky you are. Could I not manage to see her? Oh, please,
Javotte, lend me the yellow dress which you wear every day.'

'Indeed!' said Javotte, 'that is a fine idea. Lend my dress to a grubby
cinder-slut like you--you must think me mad!'

Cinderella had expected this refusal. She was in no way upset, for she
would have been very greatly embarrassed had her sister been willing to
lend the dress.

The next day the two sisters went to the ball, and so did Cinderella,
even more splendidly attired than the first time.

The king's son was always at her elbow, and paid her endless
compliments.

The young girl enjoyed herself so much that she forgot her godmother's
bidding completely, and when the first stroke of midnight fell upon her
ears, she thought it was no more than eleven o'clock.

She rose and fled as nimbly as a fawn. The prince followed her, but
could not catch her. She let fall one of her glass slippers, however,
and this the prince picked up with tender care.

When Cinderella reached home she was out of breath, without coach,
without lackeys, and in her shabby clothes. Nothing remained of all her
splendid clothes save one of the little slippers, the fellow to the one
which she had let fall.

Inquiries were made of the palace doorkeepers as to whether they had
seen a princess go out, but they declared they had seen no one leave
except a young girl, very ill-clad, who looked more like a peasant than
a young lady.

When her two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them if
they had again enjoyed themselves, and if the beautiful lady had been
there. They told her that she was present, but had fled away when
midnight sounded, and in such haste that she had let fall one of her
little glass slippers, the prettiest thing in the world. They added that
the king's son, who picked it up, had done nothing but gaze at it for
the rest of the ball, from which it was plain that he was deeply in love
with its beautiful owner.

They spoke the truth. A few days later, the king's son caused a
proclamation to be made by trumpeters, that he would take for wife the
owner of the foot which the slipper would fit.

They tried it first on the princesses, then on the duchesses and the
whole of the Court, but in vain. Presently they brought it to the home
of the two sisters, who did all they could to squeeze a foot into the
slipper. This, however, they could not manage.

Cinderella was looking on and recognised her slipper:

'Let me see,' she cried, laughingly, 'if it will not fit me.'

[Illustration: '_They tried it first on the princesses_']

Her sisters burst out laughing, and began to gibe at her, but the
equerry who was trying on the slipper looked closely at Cinderella.
Observing that she was very beautiful he declared that the claim was
quite a fair one, and that his orders were to try the slipper on every
maiden. He bade Cinderella sit down, and on putting the slipper to her
little foot he perceived that the latter slid in without trouble, and
was moulded to its shape like wax.

Great was the astonishment of the two sisters at this, and greater still
when Cinderella drew from her pocket the other little slipper. This she
likewise drew on.

At that very moment her godmother appeared on the scene. She gave a tap
with her wand to Cinderella's clothes, and transformed them into a dress
even more magnificent than her previous ones.

The two sisters recognised her for the beautiful person whom they had
seen at the ball, and threw themselves at her feet, begging her pardon
for all the ill-treatment she had suffered at their hands.

Cinderella raised them, and declaring as she embraced them that she
pardoned them with all her heart, bade them to love her well in future.

She was taken to the palace of the young prince in all her new array. He
found her more beautiful than ever, and was married to her a few days
afterwards.

Cinderella was as good as she was beautiful. She set aside apartments in
the palace for her two sisters, and married them the very same day to
two gentlemen of high rank about the Court.



LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD


Once upon a time there was a little village girl, the prettiest that had
ever been seen. Her mother doted on her. Her grandmother was even
fonder, and made her a little red hood, which became her so well that
everywhere she went by the name of Little Red Riding Hood.

One day her mother, who had just made and baked some cakes, said to her:

'Go and see how your grandmother is, for I have been told that she is
ill. Take her a cake and this little pot of butter.'

Little Red Riding Hood set off at once for the house of her grandmother,
who lived in another village.

On her way through a wood she met old Father Wolf. He would have very
much liked to eat her, but dared not do so on account of some
wood-cutters who were in the forest. He asked her where she was going.
The poor child, not knowing that it was dangerous to stop and listen to
a wolf, said:

'I am going to see my grandmother, and am taking her a cake and a pot of
butter which my mother has sent to her.'

'Does she live far away?' asked the Wolf.

'Oh yes,' replied Little Red Riding Hood; 'it is yonder by the mill
which you can see right below there, and it is the first house in the
village.'

[Illustration: _Little Red Riding Hood_]

'Well now,' said the Wolf, 'I think I shall go and see her too. I will
go by this path, and you by that path, and we will see who gets there
first.'

[Illustration: '_She met old Father Wolf_']

The Wolf set off running with all his might by the shorter road, and the
little girl continued on her way by the longer road. As she went she
amused herself by gathering nuts, running after the butterflies, and
making nosegays of the wild flowers which she found.

The Wolf was not long in reaching the grandmother's house.

He knocked. _Toc Toc._

'Who is there?'

'It is your little daughter, Red Riding Hood,' said the Wolf, disguising
his voice, 'and I bring you a cake and a little pot of butter as a
present from my mother.'

[Illustration: '_Making nosegays of the wild flowers_']

The worthy grandmother was in bed, not being very well, and cried out to
him:

'Pull out the peg and the latch will fall.'

The Wolf drew out the peg and the door flew open. Then he sprang upon
the poor old lady and ate her up in less than no time, for he had been
more than three days without food.

After that he shut the door, lay down in the grandmother's bed, and
waited for Little Red Riding Hood.

Presently she came and knocked. _Toc Toc._

'Who is there?'

Now Little Red Riding Hood on hearing the Wolf's gruff voice was at
first frightened, but thinking that her grandmother had a bad cold, she
replied:

'It is your little daughter, Red Riding Hood, and I bring you a cake and
a little pot of butter from my mother.'

[Illustration: '_Come up on the bed with me_']

Softening his voice, the Wolf called out to her:

'Pull out the peg and the latch will fall.'

Little Red Riding Hood drew out the peg and the door flew open.

When he saw her enter, the Wolf hid himself in the bed beneath the
counterpane.

'Put the cake and the little pot of butter on the bin,' he said, 'and
come up on the bed with me.'

Little Red Riding Hood took off her clothes, but when she climbed up on
the bed she was astonished to see how her grandmother looked in her
nightgown.

'Grandmother dear!' she exclaimed, 'what big arms you have!'

'The better to embrace you, my child!'

'Grandmother dear, what big legs you have!'

'The better to run with, my child!'

'Grandmother dear, what big ears you have!'

'The better to hear with, my child!'

'Grandmother dear, what big eyes you have!'

'The better to see with, my child!'

'Grandmother dear, what big teeth you have!'

'The better to eat you with!'

With these words the wicked Wolf leapt upon Little Red Riding Hood and
gobbled her up.



[Illustration: "'YOU MUST DIE, MADAM,' HE SAID."]

BLUE BEARD


Once upon a time there was a man who owned splendid town and country
houses, gold and silver plate, tapestries and coaches gilt all over. But
the poor fellow had a blue beard, and this made him so ugly and
frightful that there was not a woman or girl who did not run away at
sight of him.

Amongst his neighbours was a lady of high degree who had two
surpassingly beautiful daughters. He asked for the hand of one of these
in marriage, leaving it to their mother to choose which should be
bestowed upon him. Both girls, however, raised objections, and his offer
was bandied from one to the other, neither being able to bring herself
to accept a man with a blue beard. Another reason for their distaste was
the fact that he had already married several wives, and no one knew what
had become of them.

In order that they might become better acquainted, Blue Beard invited
the two girls, with their mother and three or four of their best
friends, to meet a party of young men from the neighbourhood at one of
his country houses. Here they spent eight whole days, and throughout
their stay there was a constant round of picnics, hunting and fishing
expeditions, dances, dinners, and luncheons; and they never slept at
all, through spending all the night in playing merry pranks upon each
other. In short, everything went so gaily that the younger daughter
began to think the master of the house had not so very blue a beard
after all, and that he was an exceedingly agreeable man. As soon as the
party returned to town their marriage took place.

At the end of a month Blue Beard informed his wife that important
business obliged him to make a journey into a distant part of the
country, which would occupy at least six weeks. He begged her to amuse
herself well during his absence, and suggested that she should invite
some of her friends and take them, if she liked, to the country. He was
particularly anxious that she should enjoy herself thoroughly.

'Here,' he said, 'are the keys of the two large storerooms, and here is
the one that locks up the gold and silver plate which is not in everyday
use. This key belongs to the strong-boxes where my gold and silver is
kept, this to the caskets containing my jewels; while here you have the
master-key which gives admittance to all the apartments. As regards this
little key, it is the key of the small room at the end of the long
passage on the lower floor. You may open everything, you may go
everywhere, but I forbid you to enter this little room. And I forbid you
so seriously that if you were indeed to open the door, I should be so
angry that I might do anything.'

She promised to follow out these instructions exactly, and after
embracing her, Blue Beard steps into his coach and is off upon his
journey.

[Illustration: _Blue Beard_]

Her neighbours and friends did not wait to be invited before coming to
call upon the young bride, so great was their eagerness to see the
splendours of her house. They had not dared to venture while her
husband was there, for his blue beard frightened them. But in less than
no time there they were, running in and out of the rooms, the closets,
and the wardrobes, each of which was finer than the last. Presently they
went upstairs to the storerooms, and there they could not admire enough
the profusion and magnificence of the tapestries, beds, sofas, cabinets,
tables, and stands. There were mirrors in which they could view
themselves from top to toe, some with frames of plate glass, others with
frames of silver and gilt lacquer, that were the most superb and
beautiful things that had ever been seen. They were loud and persistent
in their envy of their friend's good fortune. She, on the other hand,
derived little amusement from the sight of all these riches, the reason
being that she was impatient to go and inspect the little room on the
lower floor.

So overcome with curiosity was she that, without reflecting upon the
discourtesy of leaving her guests, she ran down a private staircase, so
precipitately that twice or thrice she nearly broke her neck, and so
reached the door of the little room. There she paused for a while,
thinking of the prohibition which her husband had made, and reflecting
that harm might come to her as a result of disobedience. But the
temptation was so great that she could not conquer it. Taking the little
key, with a trembling hand she opened the door of the room.

At first she saw nothing, for the windows were closed, but after a few
moments she perceived dimly that the floor was entirely covered with
clotted blood, and that in this were reflected the dead bodies of
several women that hung along the walls. These were all the wives of
Blue Beard, whose throats he had cut, one after another.

She thought to die of terror, and the key of the room, which she had
just withdrawn from the lock, fell from her hand.

When she had somewhat regained her senses, she picked up the key, closed
the door, and went up to her chamber to compose herself a little. But
this she could not do, for her nerves were too shaken. Noticing that the
key of the little room was stained with blood, she wiped it two or three
times. But the blood did not go. She washed it well, and even rubbed it
with sand and grit. Always the blood remained. For the key was
bewitched, and there was no means of cleaning it completely. When the
blood was removed from one side, it reappeared on the other.

[Illustration: '_She washed it well_']

Blue Beard returned from his journey that very evening. He had received
some letters on the way, he said, from which he learned that the
business upon which he had set forth had just been concluded to his
satisfaction. His wife did everything she could to make it appear
that she was delighted by his speedy return.

[Illustration: _Sister Anne_]

On the morrow he demanded the keys. She gave them to him, but with so
trembling a hand that he guessed at once what had happened.

'How comes it,' he said to her, 'that the key of the little room is not
with the others?'

'I must have left it upstairs upon my table,' she said.

'Do not fail to bring it to me presently,' said Blue Beard.

After several delays the key had to be brought. Blue Beard examined it,
and addressed his wife.

'Why is there blood on this key?'

'I do not know at all,' replied the poor woman, paler than death.

'You do not know at all?' exclaimed Blue Beard; 'I know well enough. You
wanted to enter the little room! Well, madam, enter it you shall--you
shall go and take your place among the ladies you have seen there.'

She threw herself at her husband's feet, asking his pardon with tears,
and with all the signs of a true repentance for her disobedience. She
would have softened a rock, in her beauty and distress, but Blue Beard
had a heart harder than any stone.

'You must die, madam,' he said; 'and at once.'

'Since I must die,' she replied, gazing at him with eyes that were wet
with tears, 'give me a little time to say my prayers.'

'I give you one quarter of an hour,' replied Blue Beard, 'but not a
moment longer.'

When the poor girl was alone, she called her sister to her and said:

'Sister Anne'--for that was her name--'go up, I implore you, to the top
of the tower, and see if my brothers are not approaching. They promised
that they would come and visit me to-day. If you see them, make signs to
them to hasten.'

Sister Anne went up to the top of the tower, and the poor unhappy girl
cried out to her from time to time:

'Anne, Sister Anne, do you see nothing coming?'

And Sister Anne replied:

'I see nought but dust in the sun and the green grass growing.'

Presently Blue Beard, grasping a great cutlass, cried out at the top of
his voice:

'Come down quickly, or I shall come upstairs myself.'

'Oh please, one moment more,' called out his wife.

And at the same moment she cried in a whisper:

'Anne, Sister Anne, do you see nothing coming?'

'I see nought but dust in the sun and the green grass growing.'

'Come down at once, I say,' shouted Blue Beard, 'or I will come upstairs
myself.'

'I am coming,' replied his wife.

Then she called:

'Anne, Sister Anne, do you see nothing coming?'

'I see,' replied Sister Anne, 'a great cloud of dust which comes this
way.'

'Is it my brothers?'

'Alas, sister, no; it is but a flock of sheep.'

'Do you refuse to come down?' roared Blue Beard.

[Illustration: '_Brandishing the cutlass aloft_']

'One little moment more,' exclaimed his wife.

Once more she cried:

'Anne, Sister Anne, do you see nothing coming?'

'I see,' replied her sister, 'two horsemen who come this way, but they
are as yet a long way off.... Heaven be praised,' she exclaimed a moment
later, 'they are my brothers.... I am signalling to them all I can to
hasten.'

Blue Beard let forth so mighty a shout that the whole house shook. The
poor wife went down and cast herself at his feet, all dishevelled and in
tears.

'That avails you nothing,' said Blue Beard; 'you must die.'

Seizing her by the hair with one hand, and with the other brandishing
the cutlass aloft, he made as if to cut off her head.

The poor woman, turning towards him and fixing a dying gaze upon him,
begged for a brief moment in which to collect her thoughts.

'No! no!' he cried; 'commend your soul to Heaven.' And raising his
arm----

At this very moment there came so loud a knocking at the gate that Blue
Beard stopped short. The gate was opened, and two horsemen dashed in,
who drew their swords and rode straight at Blue Beard. The latter
recognised them as the brothers of his wife--one of them a dragoon, and
the other a musketeer--and fled instantly in an effort to escape. But
the two brothers were so close upon him that they caught him ere he
could gain the first flight of steps. They plunged their swords through
his body and left him dead. The poor woman was nearly as dead as her
husband, and had not the strength to rise and embrace her brothers.

It was found that Blue Beard had no heirs, and that consequently his
wife became mistress of all his wealth. She devoted a portion to
arranging a marriage between her sister Anne and a young gentleman with
whom the latter had been for some time in love, while another portion
purchased a captain's commission for each of her brothers. The rest
formed a dowry for her own marriage with a very worthy man, who banished
from her mind all memory of the evil days she had spent with Blue
Beard.



BEAUTY AND THE BEAST


Once upon a time there lived a merchant who was exceedingly rich. He had
six children--three boys and three girls--and being a sensible man he
spared no expense upon their education, but engaged tutors of every kind
for them. All his daughters were pretty, but the youngest especially was
admired by everybody. When she was small she was known simply as 'the
little beauty,' and this name stuck to her, causing a great deal of
jealousy on the part of her sisters.

This youngest girl was not only prettier than her sisters, but very much
nicer. The two elder girls were very arrogant as a result of their
wealth; they pretended to be great ladies, declining to receive the
daughters of other merchants, and associating only with people of
quality. Every day they went off to balls and theatres, and for walks in
the park, with many a gibe at their little sister, who spent much of her
time in reading good books.

Now these girls were known to be very rich, and in consequence were
sought in marriage by many prominent merchants. The two eldest said they
would never marry unless they could find a duke, or at least a count.
But Beauty--this, as I have mentioned, was the name by which the
youngest was known--very politely thanked all who proposed marriage to
her, and said that she was too young at present, and that she wished to
keep her father company for several years yet.

Suddenly the merchant lost his fortune, the sole property which remained
to him being a small house in the country, a long way from the capital.
With tears he broke it to his children that they would have to move to
this house, where by working like peasants they might just be able to
live.

The two elder girls replied that they did not wish to leave the town,
and that they had several admirers who would be only too happy to marry
them, notwithstanding their loss of fortune. But the simple maidens were
mistaken: their admirers would no longer look at them, now that they
were poor. Everybody disliked them on account of their arrogance, and
folks declared that they did not deserve pity: in fact, that it was a
good thing their pride had had a fall--a turn at minding sheep would
teach them how to play the fine lady! 'But we are very sorry for
Beauty's misfortune,' everybody added; 'she is such a dear girl, and was
always so considerate to poor people: so gentle, and with such charming
manners!'

There were even several worthy men who would have married her, despite
the fact that she was now penniless; but she told them she could not
make up her mind to leave her poor father in his misfortune, and that
she intended to go with him to the country, to comfort him and help him
to work. Poor Beauty had been very grieved at first over the loss of her
fortune, but she said to herself:

'However much I cry, I shall not recover my wealth, so I must try to be
happy without it.'

When they were established in the country the merchant and his family
started working on the land. Beauty used to rise at four o'clock in the
morning, and was busy all day looking after the house, and preparing
dinner for the family. At first she found it very hard, for she was not
accustomed to work like a servant, but at the end of a couple of months
she grew stronger, and her health was improved by the work. When she had
leisure she read, or played the harpsichord, or sang at her
spinning-wheel.

[Illustration: '_At first she found it very hard_']

Her two sisters, on the other hand, were bored to death; they did not
get up till ten o'clock in the morning, and they idled about all day.
Their only diversion was to bemoan the beautiful clothes they used to
wear and the company they used to keep. 'Look at our little sister,'
they would say to each other; 'her tastes are so low and her mind so
stupid that she is quite content with this miserable state of affairs.'

The good merchant did not share the opinion of his two daughters, for he
knew that Beauty was more fitted to shine in company than her sisters.
He was greatly impressed by the girl's good qualities, and especially by
her patience--for her sisters, not content with leaving her all the work
of the house, never missed an opportunity of insulting her.

They had been living for a year in this seclusion when the merchant
received a letter informing him that a ship on which he had some
merchandise had just come safely home. The news nearly turned the heads
of the two elder girls, for they thought that at last they would be able
to quit their dull life in the country. When they saw their father ready
to set out they begged him to bring them back dresses, furs, caps, and
finery of every kind. Beauty asked for nothing, thinking to herself that
all the money which the merchandise might yield would not be enough to
satisfy her sisters' demands.

'You have not asked me for anything,' said her father.

'As you are so kind as to think of me,' she replied, 'please bring me a
rose, for there are none here.'

Beauty had no real craving for a rose, but she was anxious not to seem
to disparage the conduct of her sisters. The latter would have declared
that she purposely asked for nothing in order to be different from them.

[Illustration: '"_Look at our little sister_"']

The merchant duly set forth; but when he reached his destination
there was a law-suit over his merchandise, and after much trouble he
returned poorer than he had been before. With only thirty miles to go
before reaching home, he was already looking forward to the pleasure of
seeing his children again, when he found he had to pass through a large
wood. Here he lost himself. It was snowing horribly; the wind was so
strong that twice he was thrown from his horse, and when night came on
he made up his mind he must either die of hunger and cold or be eaten by
the wolves that he could hear howling all about him.

[Illustration: '_It was snowing horribly_']

Suddenly he saw, at the end of a long avenue of trees, a strong light.
It seemed to be some distance away, but he walked towards it, and
presently discovered that it came from a large palace, which was all lit
up.

The merchant thanked heaven for sending him this help, and hastened to
the castle. To his surprise, however, he found no one about in the
courtyards. His horse, which had followed him, saw a large stable open
and went in; and on finding hay and oats in readiness the poor animal,
which was dying of hunger, set to with a will. The merchant tied him up
in the stable, and approached the house, where he found not a soul. He
entered a large room; here there was a good fire, and a table laden with
food, but with a place laid for one only. The rain and snow had soaked
him to the skin, so he drew near the fire to dry himself. 'I am sure,'
he remarked to himself, 'that the master of this house or his servants
will forgive the liberty I am taking; doubtless they will be here soon.'

He waited some considerable time; but eleven o'clock struck and still he
had seen nobody. Being no longer able to resist his hunger he took a
chicken and devoured it in two mouthfuls, trembling. Then he drank
several glasses of wine, and becoming bolder ventured out of the room.
He went through several magnificently furnished apartments, and finally
found a room with a very good bed. It was now past midnight, and as he
was very tired he decided to shut the door and go to bed.

It was ten o'clock the next morning when he rose, and he was greatly
astonished to find a new suit in place of his own, which had been
spoilt. 'This palace,' he said to himself, 'must surely belong to some
good fairy, who has taken pity on my plight.'

He looked out of the window. The snow had vanished, and his eyes rested
instead upon arbours of flowers--a charming spectacle. He went back to
the room where he had supped the night before, and found there a little
table with a cup of chocolate on it. 'I thank you, Madam Fairy,' he said
aloud, 'for being so kind as to think of my breakfast.'

Having drunk his chocolate the good man went forth to look for his
horse. As he passed under a bower of roses he remembered that Beauty had
asked for one, and he plucked a spray from a mass of blooms. The very
same moment he heard a terrible noise, and saw a beast coming towards
him which was so hideous that he came near to fainting.

'Ungrateful wretch!' said the Beast, in a dreadful voice; 'I have saved
your life by receiving you into my castle, and in return for my trouble
you steal that which I love better than anything in the world--my roses.
You shall pay for this with your life! I give you fifteen minutes to
make your peace with Heaven.'

The merchant threw himself on his knees and wrung his hands. 'Pardon, my
lord!' he cried; 'one of my daughters had asked for a rose, and I did
not dream I should be giving offence by picking one.'

'I am not called "my lord,"' answered the monster, 'but "The Beast." I
have no liking for compliments, but prefer people to say what they
think. Do not hope therefore to soften me by flattery. You have
daughters, you say; well, I am willing to pardon you if one of your
daughters will come, of her own choice, to die in your place. Do not
argue with me--go! And swear that if your daughters refuse to die in
your place you will come back again in three months.'

[Illustration: _The Beast_]

The good man had no intention of sacrificing one of his daughters to
this hideous monster, but he thought that at least he might have the
pleasure of kissing them once again. He therefore swore to return, and
the Beast told him he could go when he wished. 'I do not wish you to go
empty-handed,' he added; 'return to the room where you slept; you will
find there a large empty box. Fill it with what you will; I will have it
sent home for you.'

With these words the Beast withdrew, leaving the merchant to reflect
that if he must indeed die, at all events he would have the consolation
of providing for his poor children.

He went back to the room where he had slept. He found there a large
number of gold pieces, and with these he filled the box the Beast had
mentioned. Having closed the latter, he took his horse, which was still
in the stable, and set forth from the palace, as melancholy now as he
had been joyous when he entered it.

The horse of its own accord took one of the forest roads, and in a few
hours the good man reached his own little house. His children crowded
round him, but at sight of them, instead of welcoming their caresses, he
burst into tears. In his hand was the bunch of roses which he had
brought for Beauty, and he gave it to her with these words:

'Take these roses, Beauty; it is dearly that your poor father will have
to pay for them.'

Thereupon he told his family of the dire adventure which had befallen
him. On hearing the tale the two elder girls were in a great commotion,
and began to upbraid Beauty for not weeping as they did. 'See to what
her smugness has brought this young chit,' they said; 'surely she might
strive to find some way out of this trouble, as we do! But oh, dear me,
no; her ladyship is so determined to be different that she can speak of
her father's death without a tear!'

'It would be quite useless to weep,' said Beauty. 'Why should I lament
my father's death? He is not going to die. Since the monster agrees to
accept a daughter instead, I intend to offer myself to appease his fury.
It will be a happiness to do so, for in dying I shall have the joy of
saving my father, and of proving to him my devotion.'

'No, sister,' said her three brothers; 'you shall not die; we will go in
quest of this monster, and will perish under his blows if we cannot kill
him.'

'Do not entertain any such hopes, my children,' said the merchant; 'the
power of this Beast is so great that I have not the slightest
expectation of escaping him. I am touched by the goodness of Beauty's
heart, but I will not expose her to death. I am old and have not much
longer to live; and I shall merely lose a few years that will be
regretted only on account of you, my dear children.'

'I can assure you, father,' said Beauty, 'that you will not go to this
palace without me. You cannot prevent me from following you. Although I
am young I am not so very deeply in love with life, and I would rather
be devoured by this monster than die of the grief which your loss would
cause me.' Words were useless. Beauty was quite determined to go to this
wonderful palace, and her sisters were not sorry, for they regarded her
good qualities with deep jealousy.

The merchant was so taken up with the sorrow of losing his daughter that
he forgot all about the box which he had filled with gold. To his
astonishment, when he had shut the door of his room and was about to
retire for the night, there it was at the side of his bed! He decided
not to tell his children that he had become so rich, for his elder
daughters would have wanted to go back to town, and he had resolved to
die in the country. He did confide his secret to Beauty, however, and
the latter told him that during his absence they had entertained some
visitors, amongst whom were two admirers of her sisters. She begged her
father to let them marry; for she was of such a sweet nature that she
loved them, and forgave them with all her heart the evil they had done
her.

When Beauty set off with her father the two heartless girls rubbed their
eyes with an onion, so as to seem tearful; but her brothers wept in
reality, as did also the merchant. Beauty alone did not cry, because she
did not want to add to their sorrow.

The horse took the road to the palace, and by evening they espied it,
all lit up as before. An empty stable awaited the nag, and when the good
merchant and his daughter entered the great hall, they found there a
table magnificently laid for two people. The merchant had not the heart
to eat, but Beauty, forcing herself to appear calm, sat down and served
him. Since the Beast had provided such splendid fare, she thought to
herself, he must presumably be anxious to fatten her up before eating
her.

When they had finished supper they heard a terrible noise. With tears
the merchant bade farewell to his daughter, for he knew it was the
Beast. Beauty herself could not help trembling at the awful apparition,
but she did her best to compose herself. The Beast asked her if she had
come of her own free will, and she timidly answered that such was the
case.

'You are indeed kind,' said the Beast, 'and I am much obliged to you.
You, my good man, will depart to-morrow morning, and you must not think
of coming back again. Good-bye, Beauty!'

'Good-bye, Beast!' she answered.

Thereupon the monster suddenly disappeared.

'Daughter,' said the merchant, embracing Beauty, 'I am nearly dead with
fright. Let me be the one to stay here!'

'No, father,' said Beauty, firmly, 'you must go to-morrow morning, and
leave me to the mercy of Heaven. Perhaps pity will be taken on me.'

They retired to rest, thinking they would not sleep at all during the
night, but they were hardly in bed before their eyes were closed in
sleep. In her dreams there appeared to Beauty a lady, who said to her:

'Your virtuous character pleases me, Beauty. In thus undertaking to give
your life to save your father you have performed an act of goodness
which shall not go unrewarded.'

When she woke up Beauty related this dream to her father. He was
somewhat consoled by it, but could not refrain from loudly giving vent
to his grief when the time came to tear himself away from his beloved
child.

As soon as he had gone Beauty sat down in the great hall and began to
cry. But she had plenty of courage, and after imploring divine
protection she determined to grieve no more during the short time she
had yet to live.

She was convinced that the Beast would devour her that night, but made
up her mind that in the interval she would walk about and have a look at
this beautiful castle, the splendour of which she could not but admire.

Imagine her surprise when she came upon a door on which were the words
'Beauty's Room'! She quickly opened this door, and was dazzled by the
magnificence of the appointments within. 'They are evidently anxious
that I should not be dull,' she murmured, as she caught sight of a
large bookcase, a harpsichord, and several volumes of music. A moment
later another thought crossed her mind. 'If I had only a day to spend
here,' she reflected, 'such provision would surely not have been made
for me.'

This notion gave her fresh courage. She opened the bookcase, and found a
book in which was written, in letters of gold:

'Ask for anything you wish: you are mistress of all here.'

'Alas!' she said with a sigh, 'my only wish is to see my poor father,
and to know what he is doing.'

As she said this to herself she glanced at a large mirror. Imagine her
astonishment when she perceived her home reflected in it, and saw her
father just approaching. Sorrow was written on his face; but when her
sisters came to meet him it was impossible not to detect, despite the
grimaces with which they tried to simulate grief, the satisfaction they
felt at the loss of their sister. In a moment the vision faded away, yet
Beauty could not but think that the Beast was very kind, and that she
had nothing much to fear from him.

At midday she found the table laid, and during her meal she enjoyed an
excellent concert, though the performers were invisible. But in the
evening, as she was about to sit down at the table, she heard the noise
made by the Beast, and quaked in spite of herself.

'Beauty,' said the monster to her, 'may I watch you have your supper?'

'You are master here,' said the trembling Beauty.

'Not so,' replied the Beast; 'it is you who are mistress; you have only
to tell me to go, if my presence annoys you, and I will go immediately.
Tell me, now, do you not consider me very ugly?'

'I do,' said Beauty, 'since I must speak the truth; but I think you are
also very kind.'

'It is as you say,' said the monster; 'and in addition to being ugly, I
lack intelligence. As I am well aware, I am a mere beast.'

'It is not the way with stupid people,' answered Beauty, 'to admit a
lack of intelligence. Fools never realise it.'

'Sup well, Beauty,' said the monster, 'and try to banish dulness from
your home--for all about you is yours, and I should be sorry to think
you were not happy.'

'You are indeed kind,' said Beauty. 'With one thing, I must own, I am
well pleased, and that is your kind heart. When I think of that you no
longer seem to be ugly.'

'Oh yes,' answered the Beast, 'I have a good heart, right enough, but I
am a monster.'

'There are many men,' said Beauty, 'who make worse monsters than you,
and I prefer you, notwithstanding your looks, to those who under the
semblance of men hide false, corrupt, and ungrateful hearts.'

The Beast replied that if only he had a grain of wit he would compliment
her in the grand style by way of thanks; but that being so stupid he
could only say he was much obliged.

Beauty ate with a good appetite, for she now had scarcely any fear of
the Beast. But she nearly died of fright when he put this question to
her:

'Beauty, will you be my wife?'

For some time she did not answer, fearing lest she might anger the
monster by her refusal. She summoned up courage at last to say, rather
fearfully, 'No, Beast!'

The poor monster gave forth so terrible a sigh that the noise of it went
whistling through the whole palace. But to Beauty's speedy relief the
Beast sadly took his leave and left the room, turning several times as
he did so to look once more at her. Left alone, Beauty was moved by
great compassion for this poor Beast. 'What a pity he is so ugly,' she
said, 'for he is so good.'

Beauty passed three months in the palace quietly enough. Every evening
the Beast paid her a visit, and entertained her at supper by a display
of much good sense, if not with what the world calls wit. And every day
Beauty was made aware of fresh kindnesses on the part of the monster.
Through seeing him often she had become accustomed to his ugliness, and
far from dreading the moment of his visit, she frequently looked at her
watch to see if it was nine o'clock, the hour when the Beast always
appeared.

One thing alone troubled Beauty; every evening, before retiring to bed,
the monster asked her if she would be his wife, and seemed overwhelmed
with grief when she refused. One day she said to him:

'You distress me, Beast. I wish I could marry you, but I cannot deceive
you by allowing you to believe that that can ever be. I will always be
your friend--be content with that.'

'Needs must,' said the Beast. 'But let me make the position plain. I
know I am very terrible, but I love you very much, and I shall be very
happy if you will only remain here. Promise that you will never leave
me.'

Beauty blushed at these words. She had seen in her mirror that her
father was stricken down by the sorrow of having lost her, and she
wished very much to see him again. 'I would willingly promise to remain
with you always,' she said to the Beast, 'but I have so great a desire
to see my father again that I shall die of grief if you refuse me this
boon.'

'I would rather die myself than cause you grief,' said the monster. 'I
will send you back to your father. You shall stay with him, and your
Beast shall die of sorrow at your departure.'

'No, no,' said Beauty, crying; 'I like you too much to wish to cause
your death. I promise you I will return in eight days. You have shown me
that my sisters are married, and that my brothers have joined the army.
My father is all alone; let me stay with him one week.'

'You shall be with him to-morrow morning,' said the Beast. 'But remember
your promise. All you have to do when you want to return is to put your
ring on a table when you are going to bed. Good-bye, Beauty!'

As usual, the Beast sighed when he said these last words, and Beauty
went to bed quite down-hearted at having grieved him.

[Illustration: "EVERY EVENING THE BEAST PAID HER A VISIT."]

When she woke the next morning she found she was in her father's house.
She rang a little bell which stood by the side of her bed, and it was
answered by their servant, who gave a great cry at sight of her. The
good man came running at the noise, and was overwhelmed with joy at the
sight of his dear daughter. Their embraces lasted for more than a
quarter of an hour. When their transports had subsided, it occurred to
Beauty that she had no clothes to put on; but the servant told her that
she had just discovered in the next room a chest full of dresses trimmed
with gold and studded with diamonds. Beauty felt grateful to the
Beast for this attention, and having selected the simplest of the gowns
she bade the servant pack up the others, as she wished to send them as
presents to her sisters. The words were hardly out of her mouth when the
chest disappeared. Her father expressed the opinion that the Beast
wished her to keep them all for herself, and in a trice dresses and
chest were back again where they were before.

When Beauty had dressed she learned that her sisters, with their
husbands, had arrived. Both were very unhappy. The eldest had wedded an
exceedingly handsome man, but the latter was so taken up with his own
looks that he studied them from morning to night, and despised his
wife's beauty. The second had married a man with plenty of brains, but
he only used them to pay insults to everybody--his wife first and
foremost.

The sisters were greatly mortified when they saw Beauty dressed like a
princess, and more beautiful than the dawn. Her caresses were ignored,
and the jealousy which they could not stifle only grew worse when she
told them how happy she was. Out into the garden went the envious pair,
there to vent their spleen to the full.

'Why should this chit be happier than we are?' each demanded of the
other; 'are we not much nicer than she is?'

'Sister,' said the elder, 'I have an idea. Let us try to persuade her to
stay here longer than the eight days. Her stupid Beast will fly into a
rage when he finds she has broken her word, and will very likely devour
her.'

'You are right, sister,' said the other; 'but we must make a great fuss
of her if we are to make the plan successful.'

With this plot decided upon they went upstairs again, and paid such
attention to their little sister that Beauty wept for joy. When the
eight days had passed the two sisters tore their hair, and showed such
grief over her departure that she promised to remain another eight days.

Beauty reproached herself, nevertheless, with the grief she was causing
to the poor Beast; moreover, she greatly missed not seeing him. On the
tenth night of her stay in her father's house she dreamed that she was
in the palace garden, where she saw the Beast lying on the grass nearly
dead, and that he upbraided her for her ingratitude. Beauty woke up with
a start, and burst into tears.

'I am indeed very wicked,' she said, 'to cause so much grief to a Beast
who has shown me nothing but kindness. Is it his fault that he is so
ugly, and has so few wits? He is good, and that makes up for all the
rest. Why did I not wish to marry him? I should have been a good deal
happier with him than my sisters are with their husbands. It is neither
good looks nor brains in a husband that make a woman happy; it is beauty
of character, virtue, kindness. All these qualities the Beast has. I
admit I have no love for him, but he has my esteem, friendship, and
gratitude. At all events I must not make him miserable, or I shall
reproach myself all my life.'

With these words Beauty rose and placed her ring on the table.

Hardly had she returned to her bed than she was asleep, and when she
woke the next morning she saw with joy that she was in the Beast's
palace. She dressed in her very best on purpose to please him, and
nearly died of impatience all day, waiting for nine o'clock in the
evening. But the clock struck in vain: no Beast appeared. Beauty now
thought she must have caused his death, and rushed about the palace with
loud despairing cries. She looked everywhere, and at last, recalling her
dream, dashed into the garden by the canal, where she had seen him in
her sleep. There she found the poor Beast lying unconscious, and thought
he must be dead. She threw herself on his body, all her horror of his
looks forgotten, and, feeling his heart still beat, fetched water from
the canal and threw it on his face.

The Beast opened his eyes and said to Beauty:

'You forgot your promise. The grief I felt at having lost you made me
resolve to die of hunger; but I die content since I have the pleasure of
seeing you once more.'

'Dear Beast, you shall not die,' said Beauty; 'you shall live and become
my husband. Here and now I offer you my hand, and swear that I will
marry none but you. Alas, I fancied I felt only friendship for you, but
the sorrow I have experienced clearly proves to me that I cannot live
without you.'

Beauty had scarce uttered these words when the castle became ablaze with
lights before her eyes: fireworks, music--all proclaimed a feast. But
these splendours were lost on her: she turned to her dear Beast, still
trembling for his danger.

Judge of her surprise now! At her feet she saw no longer the Beast, who
had disappeared, but a prince, more beautiful than Love himself, who
thanked her for having put an end to his enchantment. With good reason
were her eyes riveted upon the prince, but she asked him nevertheless
where the Beast had gone.

'You see him at your feet,' answered the prince. 'A wicked fairy
condemned me to retain that form until some beautiful girl should
consent to marry me, and she forbade me to betray any sign of
intelligence. You alone in all the world could show yourself susceptible
to the kindness of my character, and in offering you my crown I do but
discharge the obligation that I owe you.'

In agreeable surprise Beauty offered her hand to the handsome prince,
and assisted him to rise. Together they repaired to the castle, and
Beauty was overcome with joy to find, assembled in the hall, her father
and her entire family. The lady who had appeared to her in her dream had
had them transported to the castle.

[Illustration: '"_Your doom is to become statues_"']

'Beauty,' said this lady (who was a celebrated fairy), 'come and receive
the reward of your noble choice. You preferred merit to either beauty or
wit, and you certainly deserve to find these qualities combined in one
person. It is your destiny to become a great queen, but I hope that the
pomp of royalty will not destroy your virtues. As for you, ladies,' she
continued, turning to Beauty's two sisters, 'I know your hearts and the
malice they harbour. Your doom is to become statues, and under the stone
that wraps you round to retain all your feelings. You will stand at the
door of your sister's palace, and I can visit no greater punishment upon
you than that you shall be witnesses of her happiness. Only when you
recognise your faults can you return to your present shape, and I am
very much afraid that you will be statues for ever. Pride, ill-temper,
greed, and laziness can all be corrected, but nothing short of a
miracle will turn a wicked and envious heart.'

In a trice, with a tap of her hand, the fairy transported them all to
the prince's realm, where his subjects were delighted to see him again.
He married Beauty, and they lived together for a long time in happiness
the more perfect because it was founded on virtue.



THE FRIENDLY FROG


Once upon a time there was a king who had been at war for a long time
with his neighbours. After many battles had been fought his capital was
besieged by the enemy. Fearing for the safety of the queen, the king
implored her to take refuge in a stronghold to which he himself had
never been but once. The queen besought him with tears to let her remain
at his side, and share his fate, and lamented loudly when the king
placed her in the carriage which was to take her away under escort.

The king promised to slip away whenever possible and pay her a visit,
seeking thus to comfort her, although he knew that there was small
chance of the hope being fulfilled. For the castle was a long way off,
in the midst of a dense forest, and only those with a thorough knowledge
of the roads could possibly reach it.

The queen was broken-hearted at having to leave her husband exposed to
the perils of war, and though she made her journey by easy stages, lest
the fatigue of so much travelling should make her ill, she was downcast
and miserable when at length she reached the castle. She made excursions
into the country round about, when sufficiently recovered, but found
nothing to amuse or distract her. On all sides wide barren spaces met
her eye, melancholy rather than pleasant to look upon.

'How different from my old home!' she exclaimed, as she gloomily
surveyed the scene; 'if I stay here long I shall die. To whom can I talk
in this solitude? To whom can I unburden my grief? What have I done that
the king should exile me? He must wish me, I suppose, to feel the
bitterness of separation to the utmost, since he banishes me to this
hateful castle.'

She grieved long and deeply, and though the king wrote every day to her
with good news of the way the siege was going, she became more and more
unhappy. At last she determined that she would go back to him, but
knowing that her attendants had been forbidden to let her return, except
under special orders from the king, she kept her intention to herself.
On the pretext of wishing sometimes to join the hunt, she ordered a
small chariot, capable of accommodating one person only, to be built for
her. This she drove herself, and used to keep up with the hounds so
closely that she would leave the rest of the hunt behind. The chariot
being in her sole control, this gave her the opportunity to escape
whenever she liked, and the only obstacle was her lack of familiarity
with the roads through the forest. She trusted, however, to the favour
of Providence to bring her safely through it.

She now gave orders for a great hunt to be held, and intimated her wish
that every one should attend. She herself was to be present in her
chariot, and she proposed that every follower of the chase should choose
a different line, and so close every avenue of escape to the quarry. The
arrangements were carried out according to the queen's plan. Confident
that she would soon see her husband again, she donned her most becoming
attire. Her hat was trimmed with feathers of different colours, the
front of her dress with a number of precious stones. Thus adorned, she
looked in her beauty (which was of no ordinary stamp) like a second
Diana.

When the excitement of the chase was at its height she gave rein to her
horses, urging them on with voice and whip, until their pace quickened
to a gallop. But then, getting their bits between their teeth, the team
sped onwards so fast that presently the chariot seemed to be borne upon
the wind, and to be travelling faster than the eye could follow. Too
late the poor queen repented of her rashness. 'What possessed me,' she
cried, 'to think that I could manage such wild and fiery steeds? Alack!
What will become of me! What would the king do if he knew of my great
peril? He only sent me away because he loves me dearly, and wished me to
be in greater safety--and this is the way I repay his tender care!'

Her piteous cries rang out upon the air, but though she called on Heaven
and invoked the fairies to her aid, it seemed that all the unseen powers
had forsaken her.

Over went the chariot. She lacked the strength to jump clear quickly
enough, and her foot was caught between the wheel and the axle-tree. It
was only by a miracle that she was not killed, and she lay stretched on
the ground at the foot of a tree, with her heart scarcely beating and
her face covered with blood, unable to speak.

For a long time she lay thus. At last she opened her eyes and saw,
standing beside her, a woman of gigantic stature. The latter wore nought
but a lion's skin; her arms and legs were bare, and her hair was tied up
with a dried snake's skin, the head of which dangled over her shoulder.
In her hand she carried, for walking-stick, a stone club, and a quiver
full of arrows hung at her side.

This extraordinary apparition convinced the queen that she was dead, and
indeed it seemed impossible that she could have survived so terrible a
disaster. 'No wonder death needs resolution,' she murmured, 'since
sights so terrible await one in the other world.'

The giantess overheard these words, and laughed to find the queen
thought herself dead.

'Courage,' she said; 'you are still in the land of the living, though
your lot is not improved. I am the Lion-Witch. My dwelling is near by;
you must come and live with me.'

'If you will have the kindness, good Lion-Witch, to take me back to my
castle, the king, who loves me dearly, will not refuse you any ransom
you demand, though it were the half of his kingdom.'

'I will not do that,' replied the giantess, 'for I have wealth enough
already. Moreover, I am tired of living alone, and as you have your wits
about you it is possible you may be able to amuse me.'

With these words she assumed the shape of a lioness, and taking the
queen on her back, bore her off into the depths of a cavern. There she
anointed the queen's wounds with an essence which quickly healed them.

But imagine the wonder and despair of the queen to find herself in this
dismal lair! The approach to it was by ten thousand steps, which led
downward to the centre of the earth, and the only light was that which
came from a number of lofty lamps, reflected in a lake of quicksilver.
This lake teemed with monsters, each of which was hideous enough to
have terrified one far less timid than the queen. Ravens, screech-owls,
and many another bird of evil omen filled the air with harsh cries. Far
off could be espied a mountain, from the slopes of which there flowed
the tears of all hapless lovers. Its sluggish stream was fed by every
ill-starred love. The trees had neither leaves nor fruit, and the ground
was cumbered with briars, nettles, and rank weeds. The food, too, was
such as might be expected in such a horrid clime. A few dried roots,
horse-chestnuts, and thorn-apples--this was all the fare with which the
Lion-Witch appeased the hunger of those who fell into her clutches.

When the queen was well enough to be set to work, the Witch told her she
might build herself a hut, since she was fated to remain in her company
for the rest of her life. On hearing this the queen burst into tears.
'Alas!' she cried, 'what have I done that you should keep me here? If my
death, which I feel to be nigh, will cause you any pleasure, then I
implore you to kill me: I dare not hope for any other kindness from you.
But do not condemn me to the sadness of a life-long separation from my
husband.'

But the Lion-Witch merely laughed at her, bidding her dry her tears, if
she would be wise, and do her part to please her. Otherwise, she
declared, her lot would be the most miserable in the world.

'And what must I do to soften your heart?' replied the queen.

'I have a liking for fly-pasties,' said the Lion-Witch; 'and you must
contrive to catch flies enough to make me a large and tasty one.'

[Illustration: '_The approach to it was by ten thousand steps_']

'But there are no flies here,' rejoined the queen; 'and even if there
were there is not enough light to catch them by. Moreover, supposing I
caught some, I have never in my life made pastry. You are therefore
giving me orders which I cannot possibly carry out.'

'No matter,' said the pitiless Lion-Witch; 'what I want I will have!'

The queen made no reply, but reflected that, no matter how cruel the
Witch might be, she had only one life to lose, and in her present plight
what terror could death hold for her? She did not attempt to look for
flies, therefore, but sat down beneath a yew tree, and gave way to tears
and lamentations. 'Alas, dear husband,' she cried, 'how grieved you will
be when you go to fetch me from the castle, and find me gone! You will
suppose me to be dead or faithless; how I hope that you will mourn the
loss of my life, not the loss of my love! Perhaps the remains of my
chariot will be found in the wood, with all the ornaments I had put on
to please you: at sight of these you will not doubt any more that I am
dead. But then, how do I know that you will not bestow on some one else
the heartfelt love which once belonged to me? At all events I shall be
spared the sorrow of that knowledge, since I am never to return to the
world.'

These thoughts would have filled her mind for a long time, but she was
interrupted by the dismal croaking of a raven overhead. Lifting her
eyes, she saw in the dim light a large raven on the point of swallowing
a frog which it held in its beak. 'Though I have no hope of help for
myself,' she said, 'I will not let this unfortunate frog die, if I can
save it; though our lots are so different, its sufferings are quite as
great as mine.' She picked up the first stick which came to hand, and
made the raven let go its prey. The frog fell to the ground and lay for
a time half stunned; but as soon as it could think, in its froggish way,
it began to speak. 'Beautiful queen,' it said, 'you are the first
friendly soul that I have seen since my curiosity brought me here.'

[Illustration: _The Friendly Frog_]

'By what magic are you endowed with speech, little Frog?' replied the
queen; 'and what people are they whom you see here? I have seen none at
all as yet.'

'All the monsters with which the lake is teeming,' replied the little
Frog, 'were once upon a time in the world. Some sat on thrones, some
held high positions at Court; there are even some royal ladies here who
were the cause of strife and bloodshed. It is these latter whom you see
in the shape of leeches, and they are condemned to remain here for a
certain time. But of those who come here none ever returns to the world
better or wiser.'

'I can quite understand,' said the queen, 'that wicked people are not
improved by merely being thrown together. But how is it that you are
here, my friendly little Frog?'

'I came here out of curiosity,' she replied. 'I am part fairy, and
though, in certain directions, my powers are limited, in others they are
far-reaching. The Lion-Witch would kill me if she knew that I was in her
domain.'

'Whatever your fairy powers,' said the queen, 'I cannot understand how
you could have fallen into the raven's clutches and come so near to
being devoured.'

'That is easily explained,' said the Frog. 'I have nought to fear when
my little cap of roses is on my head, for that is the source of my
power. Unluckily I had left it in the marsh when that ugly raven pounced
upon me, and but for you, Madam, I should not now be here. Since you
have saved my life, you have only to command me and I will do everything
in my power to lessen the misfortunes of your lot.'

'Alas, dear Frog,' said the queen, 'the wicked fairy who holds me
captive desires that I should make her a fly-pasty. But there are no
flies here, and if there were I could not see to catch them in the dim
light. I am like, therefore, to get a beating which will kill me.'

'Leave that to me,' said the Frog, 'I will quickly get you some.'

Thereupon the Frog smeared sugar all over herself, and the same was done
by more than six thousand of her froggy friends. They then made for a
place where the fairy had a large store of flies, which she used to
torment some of her luckless victims. No sooner did the flies smell the
sugar than they flew to it, and found themselves sticking to the frogs.
Away, then, went the latter at a gallop, to bring their friendly aid to
the queen. Never was there such a catching of flies before, nor a better
pasty than the one the queen made for the fairy. The surprise of the
Witch was great when the queen handed it to her, for she was baffled to
think how the flies could have been so cleverly caught.

The queen suffered so much from want of protection against the poisonous
air that she cut down some cypress branches and began to build herself a
hut. The Frog kindly offered her services. She summoned round her all
those who had helped in the fly hunt, and they assisted the queen to
build as pretty a little place to live in as you could find anywhere in
the world.

But no sooner had she lain down to rest than the monsters of the lake,
envious of her repose, gathered round the hut. They set up the most
hideous noise that had ever been heard, and drove her so nearly mad that
she got up and fled in fear and trembling from the house. This was just
what the monsters were after, and a dragon, who had once upon a time
ruled tyrannously over one of the greatest countries of the world,
immediately took possession of it.

The poor queen tried to protest against this ill-treatment. But no one
would listen to her: the monsters laughed and jeered at her, and the
Lion-Witch said that if she came and dinned lamentations into her ears
again she would give her a sound thrashing.

The queen was therefore obliged to hold her tongue. She sought out the
Frog, who was the most sympathetic creature in the world, and they wept
together; for the moment she put on her cap of roses the Frog became
able to laugh or weep like anybody else.

'I am so fond of you,' said the Frog to the queen, 'that I will build
your house again, though every monster in the lake should be filled with
envy.'

Forthwith she cut some wood, and a little country mansion for the queen
sprang up so quickly that she was able to sleep in it that very night.
Nothing that could make for the queen's comfort was forgotten by the
Frog, and there was even a bed of wild thyme.

When the wicked fairy learnt that the queen was not sleeping on the
ground, she sent for her and asked:

'What power is it, human or divine, that protects you? This land drinks
only a rain of burning sulphur, and has never produced so much as a
sage-leaf: yet they tell me fragrant herbs spring up beneath your feet.'

'I cannot explain it, madam,' said the queen, 'unless it is due to the
child I am expecting. Perhaps for her a less unhappy fate than mine is
in store.'

'I have a craving just now,' said the Witch, 'for a posy of rare
flowers. See if this happiness which you expect will enable you to get
them. If you do not succeed, such a thrashing as I know well how to give
is surely in store for you.'

The queen began to weep, for threats like these distressed her, and she
despaired as she thought of the impossibility of finding flowers. But
when she returned to her little house, the friendly Frog met her.

'How unhappy you look!' she said.

'Alas, dear friend,' said the queen, 'who would not be so? The Witch has
demanded a posy of the most beautiful flowers. Where am I to find them?
You see what sort of flowers grow here! Yet my life is forfeit if I do
not procure them.'

'Dear queen,' said the Frog tenderly, 'we must do our best to extricate
you from this dilemma. Hereabouts there lives a bat of my
acquaintance--a kindly soul. She moves about more quickly than I do, so
I will give her my cap of roses, and with the aid of this she will be
able to find you flowers.'

The queen curtseyed low, it being quite impossible to embrace the Frog,
and the latter went off at once to speak to the bat. In a few hours the
bat came back with some exquisite flowers tucked under her wings. Off
went the queen with them to the Witch, who was more astonished than
ever, being quite unable to understand in what marvellous way the queen
had been assisted.

The queen never ceased to plot some means of escape, and told the Frog
of her longings. 'Madam,' said the latter, 'allow me first to take
counsel with my little cap, and we will make plans according to what it
advises.' Having placed her cap upon some straw, she burnt in front of
it a few juniper twigs, some capers, and a couple of green peas. She
then croaked five times. This completed the rites, and having donned her
cap again, she began to speak like an oracle.

'Fate, the all-powerful, decrees that you must not leave this place.
You will have a little princess more beautiful than Venus herself. Let
nothing fret you; time alone can heal.'

The queen bowed her head and shed tears, but she determined to have
faith in the friend she had found. 'Whatever happens,' she said, 'do not
leave me here alone, and befriend me when my little one is born.' The
Frog promised to remain with her, and did her best to comfort her.

It is now time to return to the king. So long as the enemy kept him
confined within his capital he could not regularly send messengers to
the queen. But at length, after many sorties, he forced the enemy to
raise the siege. This success gave him pleasure not so much on his own
account, as for the sake of the queen, who could now be brought home in
safety. He knew nothing of the disaster which had befallen her, for none
of his retinue had dared to tell him of it. They had found in the forest
the remains of the chariot, the runaway horses, and the apparel in which
she had driven forth to find her husband, and being convinced that she
was killed or devoured by wild beasts, their one idea was to make the
king believe that she had died suddenly.

It seemed as if the king could not survive this mournful news. He tore
his hair, wept bitterly, and lamented his loss with all manner of
sorrowful cries and sobs and sighs. For several days he would see
nobody, and hid himself from view. Later, he returned to his capital and
entered upon a long period of mourning, to the sincerity of which his
heartfelt sorrow bore even plainer testimony than his sombre garb of
woe. His royal neighbours all sent ambassadors with messages of
condolence, and when the ceremonies proper to these occasions were at
length over, he proclaimed a period of peace. He released his subjects
from military service, and devoted himself to giving them every
assistance in the development of commerce.

Of all this the queen knew nothing. A little princess had been born to
her in the meantime, and her beauty did not belie the Frog's prediction.
They gave her the name of Moufette, but the queen had great difficulty
in persuading the Witch to let her bring up the child, for her ferocity
was such that she would have liked to eat it.

At the age of six months Moufette was a marvel of beauty, and often, as
she gazed upon her with mingled tenderness and pity, the queen would
say:

'Could your father but see you, my poor child, how delighted he would
be, and how dear you would be to him! But perhaps even now he has begun
to forget me: doubtless he believes that death has robbed him of us, and
it may be that another now fills the place I had in his affections.'

Many were the tears she shed over these sad thoughts, and the Frog,
whose love for her was sincere, was moved one day by the sight of her
grief to say to her:

'If you like, Madam, I will go and seek your royal husband. It is a long
journey, and I am but a tardy traveller, but sooner or later I have no
doubt I shall get there.'

[Illustration: "COULD YOUR FATHER BUT SEE YOU, MY POOR CHILD."]

No suggestion could have been more warmly approved, the queen clasping
her hands, and bidding little Moufette do the same, in token of the
gratitude she felt towards the good Frog for offering to make the
expedition. Nor would the king, she declared, be less grateful. 'Of what
advantage, however,' she went on, 'will it be to him to learn that I
am in this dire abode, since it will be impossible for him to rescue me
from it?'

'That we must leave to Providence, Madam,' said the Frog; 'we can but
make those efforts of which we are capable.'

They took farewell of each other, and the queen sent a message to the
king. This was written with her blood on a piece of rag, for she had
neither ink nor paper. The good Frog was bringing him news of herself,
she wrote, and she implored him to give heed to all that she might tell
him, and to believe everything she had to say.

It took the Frog a year and four days to climb the ten thousand steps
which led from the gloomy realm in which she had left the queen, up into
the world. Another year was spent in preparing her equipage, for she was
too proud to consent to appear at Court like a poor and humble frog from
the marshes. A little sedan-chair was made for her, large enough to hold
a couple of eggs comfortably, and this was covered outside with
tortoise-shell and lined with lizard-skin. From the little green frogs
that hop about the meadows she selected fifty to act as maids of honour,
and each of these was mounted on a snail. They had dainty saddles, and
rode in dashing style with the leg thrown over the saddle-bow. A
numerous bodyguard of rats, dressed like pages, ran before the
snails--in short, nothing so captivating had ever been seen before. To
crown all, the cap of roses, which never faded but was always in full
bloom, most admirably became her. Being something of a coquette, too,
she could not refrain from a touch of rouge and a patch or two; indeed,
some said she was painted like a great many other ladies of the land,
but it has been proved by inquiry that this report had its origin with
her enemies.

The journey lasted seven years, and during all that time the poor queen
endured unutterable pain and suffering. Had it not been for the solace
of the beautiful Moufette she must have died a hundred times. Every word
that the dear little creature uttered filled her with delight; indeed,
with the exception of the Lion-Witch, there was nobody who was not
charmed by her.

There came at length a day, after the queen had lived for six years in
this dismal region, when the Witch told her that she could go hunting
with her, on condition that she yielded up everything which she killed.
The queen's joy when she once more saw the sun may be imagined; though
at first she thought she would be blinded, so unaccustomed to its light
had she become. So quick and lively was Moufette, even at five or six
years of age, that she never failed in her aim, and mother and daughter
together were thus able to appease somewhat the fierce instincts of the
Witch.

Meanwhile the Frog was travelling over hills and valleys. Day or night,
she never stopped, and at last she came nigh to the capital, where the
king was now in residence. To her astonishment signs of festivity met
her eye at every turn; on all sides there was merriment, song and
dancing, and the nearer she came to the city the more festive seemed the
mood of the people. All flocked with amazement to see her rustic
retinue, and by the time she reached the city the crowd had become so
large that it was with difficulty she made her way to the palace.

[Illustration: '_The journey lasted seven years_']

At the palace all was splendour, for the king, who had been deprived
of his wife's society for nine years, had at last yielded to the
petitions of his subjects, and was about to wed a princess who possessed
many amiable qualities, though she lacked, admittedly, the beauty of his
wife.

The good Frog descended from her sedan-chair, and with her attendants in
her train entered the royal presence. To request an audience was
unnecessary, for the king and his intended bride and all the princes
were much too curious to learn why she had come to think of interrupting
her.

'Sire,' said the Frog, 'I am in doubt whether the news I bring will
cause you joy or sorrow. I can only conclude, from the marriage which
you are proposing to celebrate, that you are no longer faithful to your
queen.'

Tears fell from the king's eyes. 'Her memory is as dear to me as ever,'
he declared; 'but you must know, good Frog, that monarchs cannot always
follow their own wishes. For nine years now my subjects have been urging
me to take a wife, and indeed it is due to them that there should be an
heir to the throne. Hence my choice of this young princess, whose charms
are apparent.'

'I warn you not to marry her,' rejoined the Frog; 'the queen is not
dead, and I am the bearer of a letter from her, writ in her own blood.
There has been born to you a little daughter, Moufette, who is more
beautiful than the very heavens.'

The king took the rag on which the short message from the queen was
written. He kissed it and moistened it with his tears; and declared,
holding it up for all to see, that he recognised the handwriting of his
wife. Then he plied the Frog with endless questions, to all of which she
replied with lively intelligence.

The princess who was to have been queen, and the envoys who were
attending the marriage ceremony, were somewhat out of countenance.
'Sire,' said one of the most distinguished guests, turning to the king,
'can you contemplate the breaking of your solemn pledge upon the word of
a toad like that? This scum of the marshes has the audacity to come and
lie to the entire Court, just for the gratification of being listened
to!'

'I would have you know, your Excellency,' replied the Frog, 'that I am
no scum of the marshes. Since you force me to display my powers--hither,
fairies all!'

At these words the frogs, the rats, the snails, and the lizards all
suddenly ranged themselves behind the Frog. But in place of their
familiar natural forms, they appeared now as tall, majestic figures,
handsome of mien, and with eyes that outshone the stars. Each wore a
crown of jewels on his head, while over his shoulders hung a royal
mantle of velvet, lined with ermine, the train of which was borne by
dwarfs. Simultaneously the sound of trumpets, drums, and hautboys filled
the air with martial melody, and all the fairies began to dance a
ballet, with step so light that the least spring lifted them to the
vaulted ceiling of the chamber.

The astonishment of the king and his future bride was in no way
diminished when the fairy dancers suddenly changed before their eyes
into flowers--jasmine, jonquils, violets, roses, and carnations--which
carried on the dance just as though they were possessed of legs and
feet. It was as though a flower-bed had come to life, every movement of
which gave pleasure alike to eye and nostril. A moment later the flowers
vanished, and in their place were fountains of leaping water that fell
in a cascade and formed a lake beneath the castle walls. On the surface
of the lake were little boats, painted and gilt, so pretty and dainty
that the princess challenged the ambassadors to a voyage. None hesitated
to do so, for they thought it was all a gay pastime, and a merry prelude
to the marriage festivities. But no sooner had they embarked than boats,
fountains, and lake vanished, and the frogs were frogs once more.

'Sire,' said the Frog, when the king asked what had become of the
princess, 'your wife alone is your queen. Were my affection for her less
than it is, I should not interfere; but she deserves so well, and your
daughter Moufette is so charming, that you ought not to lose one moment
in setting out to their rescue.'

'I do assure you, Madam Frog,' replied the king, 'that if I could
believe my wife to be alive, I would shrink from nothing in the world
for sight of her again.'

'Surely,' said the Frog, 'after the marvels I have shown you, there
ought not to be doubt in your mind of the truth of what I say. Leave
your realm in the hands of those whom you can trust, and set forth
without delay. Take this ring--it will provide you with the means of
seeing the queen, and of speaking with the Lion-Witch, notwithstanding
that she is the most formidable creature in the world.'

The king refused to let any one accompany him, and after bestowing
handsome gifts upon the Frog, he set forth. 'Do not lose heart,' she
said to him; 'you will encounter terrible difficulties, but I am
convinced that your desires will meet with success.' He plucked up
courage at these words, and started upon the quest of his dear wife,
though he had only the ring to guide him.

Now Moufette's beauty became more and more perfect as she grew older,
and all the monsters of the lake of quicksilver were enamoured of her.
Hideous and terrifying to behold, they came and lay at her feet.
Although Moufette had seen them ever since she was born, her lovely eyes
could never grow accustomed to them, and she would run away and hide in
her mother's arms. 'Shall we remain here long?' she would ask; 'are we
never to escape from misery?'

The queen would answer hopefully, so as to keep up the spirits of the
child, but in her heart hope had died. The absence of the Frog and the
lack of any news from her, together with the long time that had passed
since she had heard anything of the king, filled her with grief and
despair.

By now it had become a regular thing for them to go hunting with the
Lion-Witch. The latter liked good things, and enjoyed the game which
they killed for her. The head or the feet of the quarry was all the
share they got, but there was compensation in being allowed to look
again upon the daylight. The Witch would take the shape of a lioness,
and the queen and her daughter would seat themselves on her back. In
this fashion they ranged the forests a-hunting.

One day, when the king was resting in a forest to which his ring had
guided him, he saw them shoot by like an arrow from the bow. They did
not perceive him, and when he tried to follow them he lost sight of them
completely. The queen was still as beautiful as of old, despite all that
she had suffered, and she seemed to her husband more attractive than
ever, so that he longed to have her with him again. He felt certain that
the young princess with her was his dear little Moufette, and he
resolved to face death a thousand times rather than abandon his
intention of rescuing her.

With the assistance of his ring he penetrated to the gloomy region in
which the queen had been for so many years. His astonishment was great
to find himself descending to the centre of the earth, but with every
new thing that met his eyes his amazement grew greater.

The Lion-Witch, from whom nothing was hid, knew well the day and hour of
his destined arrival. Much did she wish that the powers in league with
her could have ordered things otherwise, but she resolved to pit her
strength against his to the full.

She built a palace of crystal which floated in the midst of the lake of
quicksilver, rising and falling on its waves. Therein she imprisoned the
queen and her daughter, and assembling the monsters, who were all
admirers of Moufette, she gave them this warning:

'You will lose this beautiful princess if you do not help me to keep her
from a gallant who has come to bear her away.'

The monsters vowed that they would do everything in their power, and
forthwith they surrounded the palace of crystal. The less heavy
stationed themselves upon the roofs and walls, others mounted guard at
the doors, while the remainder filled the lake.

Following the dictates of his faithful ring, the king went first to the
Witch's cavern. She was waiting for him in the form of a lioness, and
the moment he appeared she sprang upon him. But she was not prepared for
his valiant swordsmanship, and as she put forth a paw to fell him to
the ground, he cut it off at the elbow-joint. She yelped loudly and
fell over, whereupon he went up to her and set his foot upon her throat,
swearing that he would kill her. Notwithstanding her uncontrollable
rage, and the fact that she had nothing to fear from wounds, she felt
cowed by him.

'What do you seek to do to me?' she asked; 'what do you want of me?'

'I intend to punish you,' replied the king with dignity, 'for having
carried away my wife. Deliver her up to me, or I will strangle you on
the spot.'

'Turn your eyes to the lake,' she answered, 'and see if it lies in my
power to do so.'

The king followed the direction she indicated, and saw the queen and her
daughter in the palace of crystal, where it floated like a boat without
oars or rudder on the lake of quicksilver. He was like to die of mingled
joy and sorrow. He shouted to them at the top of his voice, and they
heard him. But how was he to reach them?

While he pondered a plan for the accomplishment of this, the Lion-Witch
vanished. He ran round and round the lake, but no sooner did the palace
draw near enough, at one point or another, to let him make a spring for
it, than it suddenly receded with menacing speed. As often as his hopes
were raised they were dashed to the ground.

Fearing that he would presently tire, the queen cried to him that he
must not lose courage, for the Lion-Witch sought to wear him down, but
that true love could brave all obstacles. She stretched out imploring
hands, and so did Moufette. At sight of this the king felt his courage
renewed within him. Lifting his voice, he declared that he would rather
live the rest of his life in this dismal region than go away without
them.

Patience he certainly needed, for no monarch in the world ever spent
such a miserable time. There was only the ground, cumbered with briars
and thorns, for bed, and for food he had only wild fruit more bitter
than gall. In addition, he was under the perpetual necessity of
defending himself from the monsters of the lake.

Three years went by in this fashion, and the king could not pretend that
he had gained the least advantage. He was almost in despair, and many a
time was tempted to cast himself into the lake. He would have done so
without hesitation had there been any hope that thereby the sufferings
of the queen and the princess could be alleviated.

One day as he was running, after his custom, from one side of the lake
to the other, he was hailed by one of the ugliest of the dragons. 'Swear
by your crown and sceptre, by your kingly robe, by your wife and child,'
said the monster, 'to give me a certain tit-bit to eat for which I have
a fancy, whenever I shall ask for it, and I will take you on my back:
none of the monsters in this lake which are guarding the palace will
prevent us from carrying away the queen and Princess Moufette.'

'Best of dragons!' cried the king; 'I swear to you, and to all of dragon
blood, that you shall have your fill of whatsoever you desire, and I
will be for ever your devoted servant.'

'Promise nothing which you do not mean to fulfil,' replied the dragon;
'for otherwise life-long misfortunes may overwhelm you.'

The king repeated his assurances, for he was dying of impatience to
regain his beloved queen, and mounted the dragon just as though he were
the most dashing of steeds. But now the other monsters rushed to bar the
way. The combat was joined, and nought was audible save the hissing of
the serpents, nought visible save the brimstone, fire and sulphur, which
were belched forth in every direction.

The king reached the palace at last, but there fresh efforts were
required of him, for the entrances were defended by bats and owls and
ravens. But even the boldest of these was torn to pieces by the dragon,
who attacked them tooth and nail. The queen, too, who was a spectator of
this savage fight, kicked down chunks of the wall, and armed with these
helped her dear husband in the fray. Victory at length rested with them,
and as they flew to one another's arms, the enchantment was brought to
an end by a thunderbolt which plunged into the lake and dried it up.

The friendly dragon vanished, along with all the other monsters, and the
king found himself (by what means he had not the least idea) home again
in his own city, and seated, with his queen and Moufette beside him, in
a splendid dining-hall before a table laid with the richest fare. Never
before was there such amazement and delight as theirs. The populace came
running for a sight of the queen and princess, and to add to the wonder
of it all, the latter was seen to be attired in apparel of such
magnificence that the gaze was almost dazzled by her jewels.

You can easily imagine what festivities now took place at the palace.
There were masquerades, and tournaments with tilting at the ring which
attracted the highest princes from all over the world; even more were
these drawn by the bright eyes of Moufette.

Amongst the handsomest and most accomplished in skill-at-arms, there was
none anywhere who could outshine Prince Moufy. He won the applause and
admiration of all, and Moufette, who had hitherto known only dragons and
serpents, was not backward in according him her share of praise. Prince
Moufy was deeply in love with her, and not a day passed but he showed
her some fresh attention in the hope of gaining her favour. In due
course he offered himself as a suitor, informing the king and queen that
his realm was of a richness and extent that might well claim their
favourable consideration.

The king replied that Moufette should make her own choice of husband,
for his only wish was to please her and make her happy. With this answer
the prince was well satisfied, for he was already aware that the
princess was not indifferent to him. He offered her his hand, and she
declared that if he were not to be her husband, then no other man should
be. Prince Moufy threw himself in rapture at her feet, and exacted,
lover-like, a promise that she would keep her word with him.

The prince and princess were betrothed, and Prince Moufy then returned
to his own realm, in order to make preparations for the marriage.
Moufette wept much at his going, for she was oppressed by an
inexplicable presentiment of evil. The prince likewise was much
downcast, and the queen, noticing this, gave him a portrait of her
daughter with an injunction to curtail the splendour of his preparations
rather than allow his return to be delayed. The prince was nothing loth
to obey her behest, and promised to adopt a course which so well
consulted his own happiness.

The princess amused herself with music during his absence, for in a few
months she had learned to play exceedingly well.

One day, when she was in the queen's apartment, the king rushed in.
Tears were streaming down his face as he took his daughter in his arms
and cried aloud: 'Alas, my child! O wretched father! O miserable king!'
Sobs choked his utterance, and he could say no more.

Greatly alarmed, the queen and princess asked him what had happened, and
at last he got out that there had just arrived an enormously tall giant,
who professed to be an envoy of the dragon of the lake; and that in
pursuance of the promise which the king had given in exchange for
assistance in fighting the monsters, the dragon demanded that he should
give up the princess, as he desired to make her into a pie for dinner.
The king added that he had bound himself by solemn oaths to give the
dragon what he asked--and in the days of which we are telling no one
ever broke his word.

The queen received this dire news with piercing shrieks, and clasped her
child to her bosom. 'My life shall be forfeit,' she cried, 'ere my
daughter is delivered up to this monster. Let him rather take our
kingdom and all that we have. Unnatural father! Is it possible you can
consent to such cruelty? What! My child to be made into a pie! The bare
notion is intolerable! Send this grim envoy to me; it may be the
spectacle of my anguish will soften his heart.'

The king said nothing, but went in quest of the giant. He brought him to
the queen, who flung herself at his feet with her daughter. She begged
him to have mercy, and to persuade the dragon to take all that they
possessed, but to spare Moufette's life. The giant replied, however,
that the matter did not rest with him. The dragon, he said, was so
obstinate, and so addicted to the pleasures of the table, that no power
on earth would restrain him from eating what he had a mind to make a
meal of. Furthermore, he counselled them, as a friend, to yield with a
good grace lest greater ills should be in store. At these words the
queen fainted, and the princess would have been in similar case, if she
had not been obliged to go to the assistance of her mother.

No sooner was the dreadful news known throughout the palace than it
spread all over the city. On all sides there was weeping and wailing,
for Moufette was greatly beloved.

The king could not bring himself to give her up to the giant, and the
latter, after waiting several days, grew restive and began to utter
terrible threats. But the king and queen, taking counsel together, were
agreed. 'What is there worse that could happen to us?' they said; 'if
the dragon of the lake were to come and eat us all up, we could not
suffer more, for if Moufette is put into a pie that will be the end of
us.'

Presently the giant informed them that he had received a message from
the dragon, to the effect that if the princess would agree to marry one
of his nephews, he would spare her life. This nephew was not only young
and handsome, but a prince to boot; and there was no doubt of her being
able to live very happily with him.

This proposal somewhat assuaged their grief, but when the queen
mentioned it to the princess, she found her more ready to face death
than entertain this marriage. 'I cannot break faith just to save my
life,' said Moufette; 'you promised me to Prince Moufy, and I will marry
none else. Let me perish, for my death will enable you to live in
peace.' The king in his turn tried, with many endearments, to persuade
her, but she could not be moved. Finally, therefore, it was arranged
that she should be conducted to a mountain-top, there to await the
dragon.

Everything was made ready for the great sacrificial rite, and nothing so
mournful had ever been seen before. Black garments and pale, distraught
faces were encountered at every turn. Four hundred maidens of the
noblest birth, clad in long white robes and wearing crowns of cypress,
accompanied the princess. The latter was borne in an open litter of
black velvet, that all men might behold the wondrous miracle of her
beauty. Her tresses, tied with crape, hung over her shoulders, and she
wore a crown of jasmine and marigolds. The only thing that seemed to
affect her was the grief of the king and queen, who walked behind her,
overwhelmed with the burden of their sorrow. Beside the litter strode
the giant, armed from top to toe, and looking hungrily at the princess,
as though already he savoured his share of the dish she was to make. The
air was filled with sighs and sobs, and the tears of the spectators made
rivulets along the road.

'O Frog, dear Frog,' cried the queen; 'you have indeed forsaken me! Why
give me help in that dismal place and refuse it to me here? Had I but
died then, I should not now be mourning the end of all my hopes, and I
should have been spared the agony of waiting to see my darling Moufette
devoured.'

Slowly the procession made its way to the summit of the fatal mountain.
On arrival there the cries and lamentations broke out with renewed
force, and a more pitiful noise was never heard before. The giant then
directed that all farewells must be said, and a general withdrawal made,
and his order was obeyed. Folks in those days were docile and obedient,
and never thought of combating ill-fortune.

The king and queen, with all the Court, now climbed another hill-top,
from which they could obtain a view of all that happened to the
princess. They had not long to wait, for they quickly espied a dragon,
half a league long, sailing through the sky. He flew laboriously, for
his bulk was so great that even six large wings could hardly support it.
His body was covered all over with immense blue scales and tongues of
poison flame, his twisted tail had fifty coils and another half coil
beyond that, while his claws were each as big as a windmill. His jaws
were agape, and inside could be seen three rows of teeth as long as an
elephant's tusks.

Now while the dragon was slowly wending his way to the mountain-top, the
good and faithful Frog, mounted on a hawk's back, was flying at full
speed to Prince Moufy. She was wearing her cap of roses, and though he
was locked in his privy chamber she needed no key to enter.

'Hapless lover!' she cried; 'what are you doing here? This very moment,
while you sit dreaming about her beauty, Moufette is in direst peril!
See, here is a rose-leaf; I have but to blow upon it and it will become
a mettlesome steed.'

As she spoke there suddenly appeared a green horse. It had twelve hoofs
and three heads, and from the latter it could spit forth fire,
bomb-shells, and cannon-balls respectively. The Frog then gave the
prince a sword, eight yards long and no heavier than a feather, and a
garment fashioned out of a single diamond. This he slipped on like a
coat, and though it was hard as rock it was so pliant that his movements
were in no way impeded.

'Now fly to the rescue of your love,' said the Frog; 'the green horse
will carry you to her. Do not omit to let her know, when you have
delivered her, of what my part has been.'

'Great-hearted fairy!' cried the prince, 'this is no moment to return
you thanks, but from henceforth I am your faithful servant.'

Off went the horse with the three heads, galloping on its twelve hoofs
three times as fast, and more, than the best of ordinary steeds; and in
a very short time the prince had reached the mountain, where he found
his dear princess all alone.

As the dragon slowly drew near, the green horse began to throw out fire,
bomb-shells, and cannon-balls, which greatly disconcerted the monster.
Twenty balls lodged in his throat, his scaly armour was dinted, and the
bomb-shells put out one of his eyes. This enraged him, and he tried to
hurl himself upon the prince. But the latter's long sword was so finely
tempered that he could do what he liked with it, and now he plunged it
in up to the hilt, now cut with it as though it had been a whip. The
prince would have suffered, however, from the dragon's claws had it not
been for his diamond coat, which was impenetrable.

Moufette had recognised her lover from afar, for the gleaming diamond
which covered him was transparent; and she was like to die of terror at
the risk he ran. The king and queen, however, felt hope revive within
them. They had little thought to see arriving so opportunely a horse
with three heads and twelve hoofs that breathed forth fire and flame,
nor yet a prince, in diamond mail, and armed with so redoubtable a
sword, who performed such prodigies of valour. The king put his hat on
the end of his stick, the queen tied a handkerchief to hers, and with
all the Court following suit, there was no lack of signals of
encouragement to the prince. Not that such were necessary, for his own
stout heart and the peril in which he saw Moufette were enough to keep
his courage up.

Heavens, how he fought! Barbs, talons, horns, wings, and scales fell
from the dragon till the ground was covered with them, and the soil was
dyed blue and green with the mingled blood of dragon and horse. Five
times the prince was unhorsed, but each time he picked himself up and
composedly mounted his steed again. Then would follow such cannonades,
bombardments, and flame-throwing as had never been seen or heard of
before.

At length, its strength exhausted, the dragon fell, and the prince
delivered a finishing stroke. None could believe their eyes when from
the gaping wound so made there stepped forth a handsome and elegant
prince, clad in a coat of blue and gold velvet, embroidered with pearls,
and wearing on his head a little Grecian helmet with a crest of white
feathers. With outstretched hands this new-comer ran to Prince Moufy and
embraced him.

'How can I ever repay you, my gallant deliverer?' he cried. 'Never was
monarch confined in a more dreadful prison than the one from which you
have freed me. It is sixteen years since the Lion-Witch condemned me to
it, and I have languished there ever since. Moreover, such is her power
that she would have obliged me, against my will, to devour that sweet
princess. I beg you to let me pay my respects to her, and explain my
hapless plight!'

Astonished and delighted by the remarkable way in which his adventure
had ended, Prince Moufy lavished courtesies upon the newly-discovered
prince. Together they went to Moufette, who rendered thanks a thousand
times to Providence for her unexpected happiness. Already the king and
queen and all the Court had joined her, and everybody spoke at once, and
nobody listened to anybody, while nearly as many tears were shed for joy
as a little time ago had been shed for grief. And finally, to set the
crown on their rejoicing, the good Frog was espied flying through the
air on her hawk. The latter had little golden bells upon its feet, and
when the faint tinkling of these caused every one to look up, there was
the Frog, beautiful as the dawn, with her cap of roses shining like the
sun.

The queen ran to her and took her by one of her little paws. At that
instant the wise Frog was transformed into a majestic royal lady of
gracious mien. 'I come,' she cried, 'to crown the faithful Moufette, who
preferred to face death rather than break her word to Prince Moufy.'
With these words she placed two myrtle wreaths upon the lovers' heads;
and at a signal of three taps from her wand the dragon's bones rose up
and formed a triumphal arch to commemorate the auspicious occasion.

Back to the city went all the company, singing wedding songs as gladly
as they had previously with sorrow bewailed the sacrifice of the
princess. On the morrow the marriage took place, and with what
festivities it was solemnised may be left to the imagination.



PRINCESS ROSETTE


Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who had two handsome boys,
and so well looked after were the latter that they grew apace, like the
daylight.

The queen never had a child without summoning the fairies to be present
at the birth, and she always begged them to tell what its future was to
be. When in due course she had a beautiful little daughter--so pretty
that one could not set eyes on her without loving her--all the fairies
came to visit her, and were hospitably entertained. As they were making
ready to go, the queen said to them:

'Do not forget your friendly custom, but tell me what fortune awaits
Rosette.' Such was the name which had been given to the little princess.

The fairies replied that they had left their magic books at home, but
would come and see her some other time.

'Ah,' said the queen, 'that bodes ill. You are anxious not to distress
me by an unhappy prophecy. But tell me all, I implore you, and hide
nothing from me.'

The fairies did their utmost to excuse themselves. But the queen became
more and more eager to learn everything, and at last the chief of them
made a declaration.

'We fear, Madam,' she said, 'that Rosette will bring disaster on her
brothers, and that in some fashion she will be the cause of their death.
This much and no more can we foretell of the pretty child, and we are
grieved that we should have no better news to give you.'

Then the fairies went away, and the queen was left grieving.

So deep was her grief that the king saw it in her face, and asked what
ailed her. She had gone too near the fire, she told him, and had burnt
all the flax that was on her distaff.

'Is that all?' said the king, and going up to his storeroom he brought
her more flax than she could have spun in a hundred years.

But the queen continued sad, and again the king asked what ailed her.
She declared that in walking by the river she had let her green satin
slipper fall into the water.

'Is that all?' said the king, and summoning all the shoemakers in the
kingdom he brought her ten thousand green satin slippers.

Still she grieved, and once more he asked what ailed her. She told him
that in eating with rather too vigorous an appetite she had swallowed
her wedding-ring, which had been on her finger. The king knew at once
that she was not telling the truth, for he had put away this ring
himself.

'My dear wife,' he said, 'you lie; I put away your ring in my
purse--here it is!'

She was not a little confused at being caught telling a lie (for there
is nothing in the world so ugly), and she saw that the king was
displeased. She told him, therefore, what the fairies had prophesied of
little Rosette, and implored him to say if he could think of any good
remedy.

The king was plunged in the deepest melancholy, so much so that he
remarked on one occasion to the queen: 'I see no other means of saving
our two sons but to bring about the death of our little child while she
is still in long clothes.' But the queen exclaimed that she would rather
suffer death herself. She would never consent, she declared, to such a
cruel course, and he must think of something else.

The royal pair were at their wits' end when the queen was told that in a
forest near the city there lived an aged hermit. His habitation was a
hollow tree, and folks were wont to seek his advice upon all manner of
things. 'I too must go there,' said the queen; 'the fairies have warned
me of the evil, but they have forgotten to tell me of the remedy.'

She rose betimes and mounted a dainty little white mule that was shod
with gold, and took with her two of her ladies, each riding a bonny
horse. When they had entered the wood they dismounted, as a sign of
deference, and presented themselves at the tree where the hermit lived.
The latter had an aversion from the sight of women, but on recognising
the queen he addressed her.

'You are welcome,' he said; 'what do you want of me?'

She told him what the fairies had said of Rosette, and begged for
advice. His reply was that the princess must be placed in a tower and
never be allowed to leave it. The queen tendered her thanks, and having
bestowed liberal alms upon him, returned to tell everything to the king.

When the king had heard her news he gave orders at once for a great
tower to be built. In this the princess was shut up, and to keep her
amused the king and queen and her two brothers went every day to see
her. The elder boy was known as the Big Prince, and the younger as the
Little Prince. Both were passionately attached to their sister, for she
had such beauty and charm as had never been seen before. For the
lightest of looks from her many would have paid a hundred gold pieces
and more.

When the princess was fifteen years old the Big Prince spoke of her to
his father. 'My sister is old enough now to marry, Sire,' he said;
'shall we not soon be celebrating her wedding?' The Little Prince said
the same thing to his mother. But their royal parents turned the
conversation and made no answer on the subject of the marriage.

One day the king and queen were stricken by a grievous malady, and died
almost within twenty-four hours. Throughout the realm there was
mourning; every one wore black, and on all sides the tolling of bells
was heard. Rosette was grieved beyond consolation by the death of her
dear mother.

But when the royal dead had been interred, the noblemen of the realm set
the Big Prince upon a throne of gold and diamonds, robed him in purple
velvet embroidered with suns and moons, and placed a splendid crown upon
his head. Then all the Court cried aloud three times: 'Long live the
King!' and there followed universal festivities and rejoicings.

'Now that we are in power,' said the king and his brother as soon as
they could converse in private, 'we must release our sister from the
tower in which she has languished so long.' They had only to cross the
garden to reach the tower, which was built in a corner. It had been
reared as high as possible, for it had been the intention of the late
king and queen that their daughter should remain in it for life.

Rosette was busy with embroidery when her brothers entered, but on
catching sight of them she rose and left the frame at which she was
working. Taking the king's hand, she said: 'Good-morrow, Sire; you are
king to-day, and I am your humble servant. I implore you to release me
from the tower in which I have been languishing so long.' And with these
words she burst into tears.

The king embraced her and told her not to weep, for he had come to take
her from the tower and establish her in a beautiful castle. The prince,
who had brought a pocketful of sweets to give to Rosette, added his
word. 'Come,' he said, 'let us leave this hateful tower, and do not be
unhappy any longer. Very soon the king will find a husband for you.'

When Rosette saw the beautiful garden, with all its flowers and fruit
and its many fountains, she was overcome with amazement and could not
speak a word. She had never before seen anything of the kind. She looked
about her on all sides, and then ran hither and thither, picking the
fruit from the trees and the flowers from the beds, while her little dog
Frillikin (who was as green as a parrot, had only one ear, and could
dance deliciously) capered in front of her, yapping his loudest, and
amusing everybody present by his absurd gambols.

[Illustration: _Princess Rosette_]

Presently Frillikin dashed into a little copse, and the princess
followed. Never was any one so struck with wonder as she, to behold
there a great peacock with tail outspread. So beautiful, so exquisitely
and perfectly beautiful did it seem to her that she could not take away
her eyes. When the king and the prince joined her they asked what it
was that had so taken her fancy. She pointed to the peacock and asked
what it was, to which they replied that it was a bird that was sometimes
served at table.

'What?' she cried; 'a bird so beautiful as that to be killed and eaten?
I tell you, I will marry no one but the King of the Peacocks, and when I
am queen no one shall ever eat such a dish again!'

No words can express the astonishment of the king. 'My dear sister,' he
said, 'where do you suppose that we are to find the King of the
Peacocks?'

'Wherever you please, Sire,' was the answer; 'but I will marry none but
him!'

After having announced this decision she allowed her brothers to escort
her to their castle. But so great was the fancy she had taken to the
peacock that she insisted on its being brought and placed in her
apartment.

All the ladies of the Court, by whom Rosette had never yet been seen,
now hastened to pay their dutiful respects. Gifts of every kind were
proffered to her--sweetmeats and sugar, gay ribbons, and dresses of
cloth-of-gold, dolls, slippers richly embroidered, with many pearls and
diamonds. All did their best to show her attention, and she displayed
such charming manners, kissing hands and curtseying so graciously when
any gift was offered to her, that not a gentleman or lady of the Court
but left her presence loud in her praise.

While the princess was being thus entertained, the king and the prince
were taking counsel as to how they could find the King of the Peacocks,
supposing such a person did really exist. In pursuit of the plan which
they formed a portrait was painted of the Princess Rosette, and so
cunningly wrought was this picture that only speech seemed wanting to
make it live. Then they said to their sister:

'Since you will marry none but the King of the Peacocks, we are setting
forth together in quest of him through the wide world. If we find him we
shall be well rewarded. Wait for our return, and take care of our
kingdom while we are away.'

Rosette thanked them for the trouble they were taking, and promised to
govern the kingdom well. She declared that while they were away her only
pleasures would be to admire the beautiful peacock and make Frillikin
dance. Their adieux were said with many tears.

Behold, then, the royal pair upon their travels, asking of all whom they
met: 'Do you know the King of the Peacocks?' The reply from all was 'No,
we do not.' Then the travellers would pass on and go further, journeying
in this way so far, far away that no one had ever been so far before.

At last they reached the kingdom of the Cockchafers, and the latter in
their myriads made so loud a buzzing that the king thought he would go
deaf. He asked one who seemed more intelligent than the rest if he knew
whereabouts the King of the Peacocks was to be found.

'Sire,' said the cockchafer, 'his kingdom is thirty thousand leagues
away; you have taken the longest road to get there.'

'How do you know that?' asked the king.

'Because we know you well,' replied the cockchafer; 'every year we spend
two or three months in your garden!'

The king and his brother embraced the cockchafer warmly, and struck up
a great friendship. Arm in arm they all went off to dinner, over which
the visitors expressed their astonishment at the remarkable features of
this country, where the smallest leaf from a tree was worth a gold
piece. Presently they set off for their destination, and as they now
knew the road they were not long in reaching it. They observed that all
the trees were full of peacocks; indeed the place held so many of them
that their screaming as they talked could be heard two leagues away.

'If the King of the Peacocks is himself a peacock,' said the king to his
brother, 'how can our sister dream of marrying him? It would be folly to
sanction it. A nice set of relatives she would present to us--a lot of
little peacocks for nephews!' The prince was equally uneasy in his mind.
'It was an unfortunate notion to come into her head,' he declared; 'I
cannot imagine how she ever came to think that such a person as the King
of the Peacocks existed.'

When they reached the city they found it peopled with men and women, but
the latter all wore garments fashioned out of peacocks' feathers; and
from the profusion in which these objects were everywhere to be seen it
was plain that they were regarded with an intense admiration. They
encountered the King of the Peacocks, who was out for a drive in a
splendid little chariot of gold, studded with diamonds, drawn by a dozen
galloping peacocks.

The King of the Peacocks, fair of complexion, with a crown of peacocks'
feathers surmounting his long and curly yellow locks, was so extremely
handsome that the king and prince were delighted with his appearance. He
guessed from their clothes, so different from those of the natives,
that they were strangers; but to make sure he caused his carriage to
stop and summoned them to him.

The king and the prince advanced to meet him, and bowed low. 'We have
come from far away, Sire,' they said, 'in order to show you a portrait.'
With these words they drew from the pack which they carried the
magnificent portrait of Rosette.

'I do not believe,' said the King of the Peacocks, when he had looked
long and well at it, 'that the world holds so beautiful a maiden.'

'She is a hundred times more beautiful than that,' said the king.

'You are joking,' said the King of the Peacocks.

'Sire,' said the prince, 'this is my brother, who is a monarch like
yourself: men call him King. For myself, I am known as Prince. This
portrait shows our sister, the Princess Rosette. We are here to ask if
you are willing to marry her. She has good sense as well as good looks,
and we will give her for dowry a bushel of golden crowns.'

'Why, certainly,' said the King of the Peacocks, 'I will marry her with
all my heart. I promise she shall want for nothing, and I will love her
truly. But I would have you know that she must be as beautiful as her
picture, and that if she falls short of it by the least little bit, I
will put you to death.'

'We accept the conditions,' said Rosette's two brothers.

'You accept?' said the King of the Peacocks. 'Then you must bide in
prison until the princess has arrived.'

The royal brothers raised no objection to this, for they knew well that
Rosette was more beautiful than her portrait. The King of the Peacocks
saw to it that his captives were well looked after, and went often to
visit them. The portrait of Rosette was placed in his palace, and he was
so taken up with it that, night or day, he could scarcely sleep.

From prison the king and the prince sent a letter to the princess
telling her to pack at once all she might require and come as quickly as
possible, for the King of the Peacocks awaited her. They did not dare to
mention that they were in prison, lest she should be too uneasy.

When the princess received this letter her transports of delight were
enough to kill her. She announced to every one that the King of the
Peacocks had been found, and desired to wed her. Bonfires were lit, guns
fired, and sugar and sweetmeats eaten in abundance; while for three days
every one who came to see the princess was treated to bread and butter
with jam, and cakes and ale.

Having dispensed hospitality in this liberal fashion, the princess gave
all her beautiful dolls to her dearest friends, and entrusted her
brother's realm to the wisest elders of the city. She bade them take
care of everything, spend as little as possible, and save money until
the king should return. At the same time she begged them to look after
her peacock.

Taking with her only her nurse and foster-sister, and her little green
dog Frillikin, she embarked on a vessel and put out to sea. They had
with them the bushel of golden crowns, and clothes enough to last for
ten years, with a change of dress twice a day; and they did nothing but
laugh and sing on the voyage.

Presently the nurse said to the boatman:

'Tell me, tell me, are we near the Land of Peacocks?'

'Not yet, not yet,' replied the boatman.

A little later she asked again:

'Tell me, tell me, are we near it now?'

'Presently, presently,' replied the boatman.

Once more she asked:

'Tell me, tell me, are we near it now?'

[Illustration: _The wicked nurse_]

'Very near, very near,' said the boatman.

When he answered thus the nurse sat down beside him in the stern of the
boat. 'If you like, you can be rich for ever,' she said to him.

'I should like that well,' replied the boatman.

'If you like,' she went on, 'you can gain good money.'

'I ask nothing better,' said he.

'Very well, then,' said the nurse; 'to-night, when the princess is
asleep, you must help me to throw her into the sea. When she is drowned
I will dress up my daughter in her fine clothes, and we will take her to
the King of the Peacocks, who will be delighted to marry her. You shall
have your fill of diamonds as reward.'

The boatman was taken aback by this suggestion from the nurse. He
declared it was a pity to drown so beautiful a princess, and that he had
compassion for her. But the nurse fetched a bottle of wine, and plied
him with drink until he no longer had wits enough left to refuse.

When night fell the princess went to sleep, according to her usual
practice, with little Frillikin comfortably curled up at the foot of the
bed, stirring not a paw. When Rosette was fast asleep the wicked nurse,
who had remained awake, went to find the boatman. She took him to the
cabin where the princess lay, and with the help of the foster-sister
they lifted her up--feather-bed, mattress, sheets, blankets, and
all--without disturbing her, and threw her into the sea just as she was.
So soundly did the princess slumber that she never woke up.

Now luckily her bed was made of feathers from the phoenix, which are
very rare and have this peculiar virtue that they never sink in water.
Consequently the princess went floating along in her bed, just as though
she were in a boat.

Presently, however, the water began little by little to lap first
against the sides of the feather-bed, then against the mattress, until
Rosette began to feel uncomfortable. She turned over restlessly, and
Frillikin woke up. He had a very keen nose, and when he scented the
soles and the cod-fish so near at hand he began yapping. He barked so
loudly that he woke up all the other fish, and they began to swim round
and about. Some of the big fish bumped their heads against the bed, and
there being nothing to steady the latter it spun round and round like a
top.

You may imagine how astonished the princess was! 'Is our vessel doing a
dance upon the water?' she exclaimed; 'I do not remember ever to have
been so uncomfortable as I am to-night.' And all the time Frillikin was
barking as though he had taken leave of his senses.

The wicked nurse and the boatman heard him from afar. 'Do you hear
that?' they exclaimed; 'it is that funny little dog drinking our very
good health with his mistress! Let us make haste and get ashore.' By
this time, you must understand, they were lying off the capital of the
King of the Peacocks.

A hundred carriages had been sent to the water's edge by the king. These
were drawn by animals of every kind--lions, bears, stags, wolves,
horses, oxen, asses, eagles, and peacocks. The carriage in which
Princess Rosette was to be borne was drawn by six blue monkeys which
could leap and dance upon the tight-rope and perform endless amusing
antics; these had trappings of crimson velvet, studded with gold plates.

Sixty young girls awaited the coming of the princess. They had been
selected by the king to be her maids of honour, and their attire, of
every colour of the rainbow, shone with ornaments of which gold and
silver were the least precious.

The nurse had taken great pains over the toilette of her daughter. She
had decked her out in Rosette's most beautiful gown, and placed her
diamonds on her head. But nothing could disguise the fact that she was
an ugly little fright. Her hair was black and greasy, she was cross-eyed
and bow-legged, and in the middle of her back she had a big hump.
Moreover she was ill-tempered and sulky, and was for ever grumbling.

[Illustration: '_She was an ugly little fright_']

When the people of Peacock Land saw her disembark they were so
completely taken aback that none could say a word.

'What's the matter with you all?' she demanded; 'have you all gone to
sleep? Bring me something to eat at once, do you hear? I'll have the
lot of you hanged, precious riff-raff that you are!'

'What a horrible creature!' murmured the citizens amongst themselves,
when they heard these threats; 'as ill-tempered as she is ugly! A nice
bride for our king, or I am much mistaken! It was hardly worth the
trouble to bring her all the way across the world.' The girl meantime
continued to behave in most domineering fashion, giving slaps and blows
to every one without the slightest provocation.

The procession, being very large, was obliged to move slowly, and as the
carriage bore her along she comported herself as though she were a
queen. But all the peacocks, who had perched upon the trees to greet her
as she passed, and had arranged to call out 'Long live the beautiful
Queen Rosette!' cried out when they saw how horrible she was: 'Fie! fie!
how ugly she is!' This enraged her, and she called out to her escort:
'Kill those impudent peacocks: they are insulting me!' But the peacocks
flew nimbly away, and laughed at her.

The rascally boatman was witness of all that occurred, and whispered to
the nurse: 'Things are not going well for us, my good woman: your
daughter should have been prettier.'

'Hold your tongue, stupid!' she replied; 'or you will get us into
trouble.'

Word was brought to the king that the princess was approaching. 'Well,'
said he; 'did her brothers speak the truth? Is she more beautiful than
her portrait?'

'Sire,' said the courtiers, 'if she is only as beautiful, that should be
enough.'

'Very true!' exclaimed the king. 'I shall be content with that. Let us
go and see her.'

He could tell from the din which arose from the courtyard that the
princess had arrived, but the only words he could hear plainly amidst
the hubbub were cries of 'Fie! fie! how ugly she is!' He supposed people
must be referring to some dwarf or pet creature which she had perhaps
brought with her, for it never entered his head that it could be the
princess herself who was meant.

The portrait of Rosette, uncovered, was hoisted on the end of a long
pole, and carried in front of the king, who walked in state with his
barons and peacocks, and the ambassadors from neighbouring kingdoms in
his train. Great was the impatience of the King of the Peacocks to
behold his dear Rosette; but when at length he did set eyes on
her--gracious heavens, it was a wonder the shock did not kill him on the
spot! He flew into a most terrible rage, rending his clothes, and
refusing to go near her. Indeed, she frightened him.

'What!' he cried; 'have those two dastardly prisoners the impudence to
mock me thus, and propose that I should wed such a loathsome creature as
that? They shall die for it! Away with that hussy and her nurse, and the
fellow who brought them here; cast them into the dungeon of my keep!'

Now the king and his brother, who had heard in prison that their sister
was expected, had attired themselves handsomely to receive her. But
instead of the prison being opened and their liberty restored, as they
had anticipated, there came the gaoler with a squad of soldiers, and
made them descend into a black dungeon, swarming with vile creatures,
where the water was up to their necks. Never were two people more
astounded or more distressed. 'Alas!' they cried to each other; 'this is
a doleful wedding feast for us! What has brought this unhappy fate upon
us?' They did not know what in the world to think, except that it was
desired to compass their death, and this reflection filled them with
melancholy.

Three days passed and they heard not a word of anything. At the end of
the third day the King of the Peacocks came and hurled insults at them
through a hole in the wall.

'You called yourselves King and Prince to trap me,' he shouted to them,
'and sought thus to make me promise to wed your sister. But you are
nought but a couple of beggars, not worth the water you drink. You shall
be sent for trial, and the judges will make short work of your case--the
rope to hang you with is being plaited already!'

'Not so fast, King of the Peacocks,' replied the captive monarch,
angrily, 'or you will have cause to repent it! I am a king like
yourself: I rule over a fair land, I have robes and crowns and treasure
in plenty. I pledge my all to the truth of what I say. You must be
joking to talk of hanging us--of what have we robbed you?'

The King of the Peacocks hardly knew what to make of this bold and
confident challenge. He was almost of a mind to spare their lives and
let them take their sister away. But his Chancellor, an arrant
flatterer, egged him on, whispering that if he did not avenge himself,
he would be the laughing-stock of the whole world, and would be looked
upon as a mere twopenny-halfpenny monarch. Thus influenced, he vowed he
would not pardon them, and ordered their trial to take place.

This did not take long, for it was only necessary to compare side by
side the portrait of the true Princess Rosette with the actual person
who had come in her place and claimed identity with her. The prisoners
were forthwith condemned to have their heads cut off as a penalty for
lying, in that they brought the king an ugly little peasant girl after
promising a beautiful princess.

The sentence was read with great ceremony at the prison, but the victims
protested that they had spoken the truth, that their sister was indeed a
princess, and that there was something at the back of all this which
they did not understand. They asked for a respite of seven days, that
they might have an opportunity of establishing their innocence; and
though the King of the Peacock's wrath was such that he had great
difficulty in granting this concession, he agreed to it at length.

Something must now be told of what was happening to poor Princess
Rosette while all these events were taking place at the Court.

Great was her astonishment, and Frillikin's also, to find herself, when
day came, in mid-ocean without boat or any means of assistance. She fell
to weeping, and cried so long and bitterly that all the fishes were
moved to compassion. She knew not what to do, nor what would become of
her.

'There is no doubt,' she said, 'that I have been thrown into the sea by
order of the King of the Peacocks. He has regretted his promise to marry
me, and to be rid of me without fuss he has had me drowned. A strange
way for a man to behave! And I should have loved him so much, and we
should have been so happy together!'

These thoughts made her weep the more, for she could not dispel her
fancy for him.

[Illustration: '_She floated hither and thither_']

For two days she floated hither and thither over the sea, soaked to the
skin, nigh dead with cold, and so nearly benumbed that but for little
Frillikin, who snuggled to her bosom, and kept a little warmth in her,
she must have perished a hundred times. She was famished with hunger,
but on seeing some oysters in their shells she took and ate as many as
would appease her. Frillikin did the same, but only to keep himself
alive, for he did not like them.

When night fell Rosette was filled with terror. 'Bark, Frillikin,' she
said to her dog; 'keep on barking, or the soles will come and eat us!'
So Frillikin barked all night.

[Illustration: '_A kindly old man_']

When morning came the bed was not far off the shore. Hereabouts there
lived, all alone, a kindly old man. His home was a little hut where no
one ever came, and as he had no desire for worldly goods he was very
poor. He was astonished when he heard the barking of Frillikin, for no
dogs ever came that way; and supposing that some travellers must have
missed their road, he went out with the good-natured intention of
putting them right. Suddenly he saw the princess and Frillikin floating
out at sea. The princess caught sight of him, and stretching out her
arms to him, cried:

'Save me, kind old man, or I shall perish; two whole days have I been
floating thus.'

He was filled with pity when he heard her speak thus dolefully, and went
to his house to fetch a big crook. He waded out till the water was up to
his neck, and after being nearly drowned two or three times he
succeeded in grappling the bed and drawing it to the shore.

Rosette and Frillikin were delighted to find themselves once more on
land. Rosette thanked the good man warmly. She accepted the offer of his
cloak, and having wrapped herself in it walked barefoot to his hut.
There he lit a little fire of dry straw, and took from a chest his dead
wife's best dress, with a pair of stockings and shoes, which the
princess put on. Clad thus in peasant's attire, with Frillikin
gambolling round her to amuse her, she looked as beautiful as ever.

The old man saw plainly that Rosette was a great lady, for the coverlets
of her bed were of gold and silver, and her mattress of satin. He begged
her to tell him her story, promising not to repeat a word if she so
desired. She related everything from beginning to end--not without
tears, for she still believed that the King of the Peacocks had meant
her to be drowned.

'What are we to do, my child?' said the old man. 'A great lady like you
is accustomed to live on dainties, and I have only black bread and
radishes--very poor fare for you. But I will go, if you will let me, and
tell the King of the Peacocks that you are here. There is not the least
doubt he will marry you, once he has seen you.'

'He is a bad man,' said Rosette; 'he wanted me to die. If only you can
supply me with a small basket to fasten on my dog's neck, it will be
exceedingly bad luck if he does not bring us back something to eat.'

The old man handed a basket to the princess, and she hung it round
Frillikin's neck with these words: 'Find the best stew-pot in the town,
and bring me back whatever is inside it.' Off went Frillikin to the
town, and as he could think of no better stew-pot than the king's, he
made his way into the royal kitchen. Having found the stew-pot, he
cleverly extricated its contents and returned to the house.

'Now go back to the larder,' said Rosette, 'and bring the best that you
can find there.'

Away went Frillikin to the larder and took some white bread, some choice
wine, and an assortment of fruit and sweets. In fact, he took as much as
he could carry.

When the King of the Peacocks should have dined there was nothing in the
stew-pot and nothing in the larder. Everybody gazed blankly at everybody
else, and the king flew into a terrible rage. 'Oh, very good,' said he;
'it seems I am to have no dinner! Well, put the spits to the fire, and
see to it that some good roast joints are ready for me this evening!'

When evening came the princess said to Frillikin: 'Find the best kitchen
in the town and bring me a nice roast joint.' Off went Frillikin to
carry out this order from his mistress. Thinking there could be no
better kitchen than the king's, he slipped in quietly when the cooks'
backs were turned, and took off the spit a roast joint, which looked so
good that the mere sight of it gave one an appetite. His basket was full
when he brought it back to the princess, but she sent him off again to
the larder, and from there he carried away all the king's sweetmeats and
dessert.

The king was exceedingly hungry, having had no dinner, and ordered
supper betimes. But there was nothing to eat, and he went to bed in a
frightful temper. Next day at dinner and supper it was just the same.
For three days the king had nothing to eat or drink, for every time he
sat down at table it was found that everything had been stolen.

The Chancellor, being very much afraid that the king would die, went and
hid in a corner of the kitchen, whence he could keep the stew-pot on the
fire constantly in view. To his astonishment he saw a little green dog,
with only one ear, creep in stealthily, take the lid off the pot, and
transfer the meat to his basket. He followed it in order to find out
where it went, and saw it leave the town. Still pursuing, he came to the
house of the good old man. He went immediately to the king and told him
that it was to a poor peasant's house that every morning and evening his
dinner and supper vanished.

The king was mightily astonished, and ordered investigations to be made.
The Chancellor, to curry favour, volunteered to go himself, and took
with him a posse of archers. They found the old man at dinner with the
princess, and the pair of them eating the king's provisions. They seized
and bound them with strong ropes, not forgetting to deal in like manner
with Frillikin.

'To-morrow,' said the king, when he was told that the prisoners had
arrived, 'the seven days' grace expires which I granted to those
miscreants who insulted me. They shall go to execution with the stealers
of my dinner.'

When the King of the Peacocks entered the court of justice the old man
flung himself on his knees, and declared that he would narrate all that
had happened. As he told his story the king eyed the beautiful princess,
and was touched by her weeping. When presently the good man declared
that her name was the Princess Rosette, and that she had been thrown
into the sea, he bounded three times into the air, despite the weak
state in which he was after going so long without food, and ran to
embrace her. As he undid the cords which bound her he cried out that he
loved her with all his heart.

[Illustration: Decoration]

A guard had been sent for the princes, who approached just then. They
came sadly with bowed heads, for they believed the hour of their
execution had come. The nurse and her daughter were brought in at the
same moment. Recognition was instant on all sides. Rosette flung herself
into her brothers' arms, while the nurse and her daughter, with the
boatman, fell on their knees and prayed for clemency. So joyous was the
occasion that the king and the princess pardoned them. The good old man
was handsomely rewarded, and given quarters at the palace for the rest
of his life.

Finally, the King of the Peacocks made all amends in his power to the
royal brothers, expressing his deep regret at having ill-treated them.
The nurse delivered up to Rosette her beautiful dresses and the bushel
of golden crowns, and the wedding festivities lasted for fifteen days.
Every one was happy, not excepting Frillikin, who ate nothing but
partridge wings for the rest of his life.

[Illustration: Decoration]


                        THE END


     Edinburgh: Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE LTD.



Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

Other than the corrections listed below, printer's inconsistencies in
spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, and ligature usage have been
retained.

The following misprints have been corrected:

  changed "book-case" into bookcase page 127
  added ' before I am sure,' page 120
  added ' after there are no flies here, page 145
  added ' after possibly carry out. page 145

Illustrations have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the
closest paragraph break.





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