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Title: Old French Fairy Tales
Author: Ségur, Sophie, comtesse de, 1799-1874
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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: Old French Fairy Tales

Comtesse De Segur]


[Illustration: _Rosalie saw before her eyes a tree of marvellous beauty_]



          OLD FRENCH
          FAIRY TALES

              by

       Comtesse De Segur

        Illustrated by
  Virginia Frances Sterrett


  The Penn Publishing Company
         Philadelphia



[Illustration: Copyright 1920 by
The Penn Publishing Co.]



THE STORIES


 BLONDINE, BONNE-BICHE, AND BEAU-MINON


 BLONDINE                                  9

 BLONDINE LOST                            15

 THE FOREST OF LILACS                     23

 BLONDINE'S AWAKENING--BEAU-MINON         25

 BONNE-BICHE                              28

 BLONDINE'S SECOND AWAKENING              33

 THE PARROT                               40

 REPENTANCE                               49

 THE TORTOISE                             56

 THE JOURNEY AND ARRIVAL                  59



 GOOD LITTLE HENRY


 THE POOR SICK MOTHER                     69

 THE CROW, THE COCK, AND THE FROG         73

 THE HARVEST                              78

 THE VINTAGE                              81

 THE CHASE                                84

 THE FISHING                              89

 THE PLANT OF LIFE                        94



 PRINCESS ROSETTE


 THE FARM                                103

 ROSETTE AT THE COURT OF THE KING
 HER FATHER                              109

 FAMILY COUNCIL                          116

 SECOND DAY OF THE FESTIVAL              119

 THIRD AND LAST DAY OF THE FESTIVAL      129



 THE LITTLE GREY MOUSE


 THE LITTLE HOUSE                        143

 THE FAIRY DETESTABLE                    150

 THE PRINCE GRACIOUS                     162

 THE TREE IN THE ROTUNDA                 168

 THE CASKET                              174



 OURSON


 THE LARK AND THE TOAD                   182

 BIRTH AND INFANCY OF OURSON             189

 VIOLETTE                                192

 THE DREAM                               204

 THE TOAD AGAIN                          210

 VIOLETTE'S SACRIFICE                    218

 THE WILD BOAR                           223

 THE CONFLAGRATION                       232

 THE WELL                                243

 THE FARM--THE CASTLE--THE FORGE         252

 THE SACRIFICE                           258

 THE COMBAT                              263

 THE RECOMPENSE                          272



ILLUSTRATIONS


 Rosalie saw before her eyes a tree of marvellous
 beauty                                                    _Frontispiece_

                                                                     PAGE

 Leger meets the wicked princess, Fourbette                            11

 She threw her arms around the neck of Bonne-Biche                     35

 Blondine sees the castle of Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon                50

 They were three months passing through the forest                     60

 A large and deep river ran at the foot of the mountain                75

 A part of the wall crumbled with a terrible noise                     82

 Henry sprang upon the Wolf's back                                     87

 "What are you seeking, little one?"                                   94

 She saw a man arrive in a laced hat and coat                         105

 They walked side by side during the rest of the evening              127

 The fairy must give herself up to the queen and lose her
 power for eight days                                                 138

 Rosalie never left the park which was surrounded by high
 walls                                                                144

 The broom was on fire at once, blazed up and burned her hands        152

 Agnella and Passerose were dashed from cloud to cloud                185

 "Ah, ha! you are at last in my domain, little fool!"                 211

 Violette takes refuge from the wild boar                             224

 Violette consented willingly to pass the night in the forest         229



Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon



THE STORY OF BLONDINE, BONNE-BICHE, AND BEAU-MINON


BLONDINE


There was once a king called Benin. He was good and all the world loved
him; he was just and the wicked feared him. His wife, the Queen
Doucette, was also good, and much beloved.

This happy pair had a daughter called the Princess Blondine, because of
her superb fair hair, and she was as amiable and charming as her father
the king and her mother the queen.

Unfortunately, the poor queen died a short time after the birth of
Blondine and for a long time the king wept bitterly at his great loss.
Blondine was too young to understand her mother's death: she did not
weep but continued to laugh, to play and to sleep peacefully. The king
loved her tenderly and she loved him more than all the world. He gave
his little daughter the most beautiful jewels, the finest bonbons, and
the most rare and delicious fruits. Blondine was very happy.

One day it was announced to the king, that all his subjects demanded
that he should marry again in order to have a son who should reign after
him. He refused at first but finally yielded to the pressing desires of
his people and said to his minister Leger:--

"My dear friend, my subjects wish me to marry again but my heart is so
sad because of the death of my cherished queen Doucette that I cannot
undertake the task of seeking another wife. Go, then, my good Leger and
find me a princess who will make my sweet Blondine happy. Go; I ask for
nothing more. When you have found a perfect woman, you will demand her
hand in marriage and conduct her to my court."

Leger set off immediately, visited many courts and saw innumerable
princesses--ugly, humpbacked and wicked.

At last he arrived at the kingdom of the monarch Turbulent, who had a
lovely daughter, bright, winning and apparently good. Leger found her so
charming, that he asked her hand in marriage for his king Benin, without
sufficiently inquiring into her real character.

[Illustration: _Leger meets the wicked princess, Fourbette_]

Turbulent was enchanted at the prospect of getting rid of his daughter
who was jealous, proud and wicked. Also, her presence often interfered
with his excursions for pleasure, with the chase and with his various
entertainments at the palace.

Without a moment's hesitation, he acceded to the Prime Minister's
request, and he returned with the princess to the kingdom of the good
king Benin.

The princess Fourbette was accompanied by four thousand mules, loaded
with the jewels and wardrobe of the charming bride.

King Benin had been apprised of their approach by a courier and went
forward to receive the princess Fourbette. He found her beautiful but he
noted the absence of the mild and attractive expression of the poor lost
Doucette.

When Fourbette's eyes fell upon Blondine her glance was so cruel, so
wicked, that the poor child, who was now three years old, was greatly
terrified and began to weep bitterly.

"What is the matter?" said the king. "Why does my sweet and sensible
Blondine weep like a bad little girl?"

"Papa! dear papa!" cried Blondine, throwing herself into the arms of the
king, "do not give me into the hands of this princess. I am afraid of
her--her eyes are cruel!"

The king was much surprised. He turned so suddenly towards the princess
Fourbette that she had no time to control herself and he perceived the
terrible glance with which she regarded the little Blondine.

Benin immediately resolved that Blondine should be wholly separated from
the new queen and remain as before under the exclusive protection of the
nurse who had taken care of her and who loved her tenderly.

The queen thus saw Blondine rarely, and when she met her by chance she
could not wholly dissimulate the hatred she felt for her.

About a year from that time a daughter was born to the queen Fourbette.
She was named Brunette, because of her dark hair which was black as the
raven's wing.

Brunette was pretty but not so lovely as Blondine; moreover she was as
wicked as her mother. She detested Blondine and played all sorts of
cruel tricks upon her, bit her, pinched her, pulled her hair, broke her
toys and tore her beautiful dresses.

The good little Blondine was never in a passion with her sister but
always tried to make excuses for her conduct.

"Oh, papa!" she said to the king, "do not scold Brunette; she is so
little! she does not know that she grieves me when she breaks my toys!
It is only in play that she bites me, pulls my hair and pinches me."

The good king embraced his little daughter, and was silent but he knew
that Brunette was cruel and wicked; that Blondine was too gentle and
good to accuse her. He loved Blondine, therefore, more and more from day
to day and his heart grew cold to Brunette.

The ambitious queen Fourbette saw all this clearly and hated intensely
the innocent and gentle Blondine. If she had not feared the rage of the
king she would have made Blondine the most wretched child in the world.

Benin had commanded that Blondine should never be left alone with the
queen. He was known to be just and good but he punished disobedience
severely and the queen herself dared not defy his commands.



BLONDINE LOST


Blondine grew to be seven years old and Brunette three.

The king had given Blondine a charming little carriage drawn by
ostriches, and a little coachman ten years of age, who was the nephew of
her nurse.

The little page, who was called Gourmandinet, loved Blondine tenderly.
He had been her playmate from her birth and she had shown him a thousand
acts of kindness.

But Gourmandinet had one terrible fault; he was a gourmand--was so fond
of dainties and sweet things, that for a paper of bonbons he would
commit almost any wicked action. Blondine often said to him:

"I love you dearly, Gourmandinet, but I do not love to see you so
greedy. I entreat you to correct this villainous fault which will make
you despised by all the world."

Gourmandinet kissed her hand and promised to reform. But, alas! he
continued to steal cakes from the kitchen and bonbons from the
store-room. Often, indeed, he was whipped for his disobedience and
gluttony.

The queen Fourbette heard on every hand the reproaches lavished upon the
page and she was cunning enough to think that she might make use of this
weakness of Gourmandinet and thus get rid of poor Blondine.

The garden in which Blondine drove in her little carriage, drawn by
ostriches and guided by her little coachman, Gourmandinet, was separated
by a grating from an immense and magnificent forest, called the Forest
of Lilacs because during the whole year these lilacs were always covered
with superb flowers.

No one, however, entered these woods. It was well known that it was
enchanted ground and that if you once entered there you could never hope
to escape.

Gourmandinet knew the terrible secret of this forest. He had been
severely forbidden ever to drive the carriage of Blondine in that
direction lest by some chance Blondine might pass the grating and place
her little feet on the enchanted ground.

Many times the king Benin had sought to build a wall the entire length
of the grating or to secure it in some way so as to make an entrance
there impossible. But the workmen had no sooner laid the foundation than
some unknown and invisible power raised the stones and they disappeared
from sight.

The queen Fourbette now sought diligently to gain the friendship of
Gourmandinet by giving him every day some delicious dainties. In this
way she made him so complete a slave to his appetite that he could not
live without the jellies, bonbons and cakes which she gave him in such
profusion. At last she sent for him to come to her, and said:--

"Gourmandinet, it depends entirely upon yourself whether you shall have
a large trunk full of bonbons and delicious dainties or never again eat
one during your life."

"Never again eat one! Oh! madam, I should die of such punishment. Speak,
madam, what must I do to escape this terrible fate?"

"It is necessary," said the queen, looking at him fixedly, "that you
should drive the princess Blondine near to the Forest of Lilacs."

"I cannot do it, madam; the king has forbidden it."

"Ah! you cannot do it; well, then, adieu. No more dainties for you. I
shall command every one in the house to give you nothing."

"Oh! madam," said Gourmandinet, weeping bitterly, "do not be so cruel.
Give me some order which it is in my power to execute."

"I can only repeat that I command you to lead the princess Blondine near
to the Forest of Lilacs; that you encourage her to descend from the
carriage, to cross the grating and enter the enchanted ground."

"But, madam," replied Gourmandinet, turning very pale, "if the princess
enters this forest she can never escape from it. You know the penalty of
entering upon enchanted ground. To send my dear princess there is to
give her up to certain death."

"For the third and last time," said the queen, frowning fearfully, "I
ask if you will take the princess to the forest? Choose! either an
immense box of bonbons which I will renew every month or never again to
taste the delicacies which you love."

"But how shall I escape from the dreadful punishment which his majesty
will inflict upon me?"

"Do not be disquieted on that account. As soon as you have induced
Blondine to enter the Forest of Lilacs, return to me. I will send you
off out of danger with your bonbons, and I charge myself with your
future fortune."

"Oh! madam, have pity upon me. Do not compel me to lead my dear princess
to destruction. She who has always been so good to me!"

"You still hesitate, miserable coward! Of what importance is the fate of
Blondine to you? When you have obeyed my commands I will see that you
enter the service of Brunette and I declare to you solemnly that the
bonbons shall never fail."

Gourmandinet hesitated and reflected a few moments longer and, alas! at
last resolved to sacrifice his good little mistress to his gluttony.

The remainder of that day he still hesitated and he lay awake all night
weeping bitter tears as he endeavored to discover some way to escape
from the power of the wicked queen; but the certainty of the queen's
bitter revenge if he refused to execute her cruel orders, and the hope
of rescuing Blondine at some future day by seeking the aid of some
powerful fairy, conquered his irresolution and decided him to obey the
queen.

In the morning at ten o'clock Blondine ordered her little carriage and
entered it for a drive, after having embraced the king her father and
promised him to return in two hours.

The garden was immense. Gourmandinet, on starting, turned the ostriches
away from the Forest of Lilacs. When, however, they were entirely out of
sight of the palace, he changed his course and turned towards the
grating which separated them from the enchanted ground. He was sad and
silent. His crime weighed upon his heart and conscience.

"What is the matter?" said Blondine, kindly. "You say nothing Are you
ill, Gourmandinet?"

"No, my princess, I am well."

"But how pale you are! Tell me what distresses you, poor boy, and I
promise to do all in my power to make you happy."

Blondine's kind inquiries and attentions almost softened the hard heart
of Gourmandinet, but the remembrance of the bonbons promised by the
wicked queen, Fourbette, soon chased away his good resolutions. Before
he had time to reply, the ostriches reached the grating of the Forest of
Lilacs.

"Oh! the beautiful lilacs!" exclaimed Blondine; "how fragrant--how
delicious! I must have a bouquet of those beautiful flowers for my good
papa. Get down, Gourmandinet and bring me some of those superb
branches."

"I cannot leave my seat, princess, the ostriches might run away with you
during my absence."

"Do not fear," replied Blondine; "I could guide them myself to the
palace."

"But the king would give me a terrible scolding for having abandoned
you, princess. It is best that you go yourself and gather your flowers."

"That is true. I should be very sorry to get you a scolding, my poor
Gourmandinet."

While saying these words she sprang lightly from the carriage, crossed
the bars of the grating and commenced to gather the flowers.

At this moment Gourmandinet shuddered and was overwhelmed with remorse.
He wished to repair his fault by calling Blondine but although she was
only ten steps from him,--although he saw her perfectly--she could not
hear his voice, and in a short time she was lost to view in the
enchanted forest.

For a long time Gourmandinet wept over his crime, cursed his gluttony
and despised the wicked queen Fourbette.

At last he recalled to himself that the hour approached at which
Blondine would be expected at the palace. He returned to the stables
through the back entrance and ran at once to the queen, who was
anxiously expecting him.

On seeing him so deadly pale and his eyes inflamed from the tears of
awful remorse, she knew that Blondine had perished.

"Is it done?" said she.

Gourmandinet bowed his head. He had not the strength to speak.

"Come," said she, "behold your reward!"

She pointed to a large box full of delicious bonbons of every variety.
She commanded a valet to raise the box and place it upon one of the
mules which had brought her jewelry.

"I confide this box to Gourmandinet, in order that he may take it to my
father," she said. "Go, boy, and return in a month for another." She
placed in his hand at the same time a purse full of gold.

Gourmandinet mounted the mule in perfect silence and set off in full
gallop. The mule was obstinate and wilful and soon grew restive under
the weight of the box and began to prance and kick. He did this so
effectually that he threw Gourmandinet and his precious box of bonbons
upon the ground.

Gourmandinet, who had never ridden upon a horse or mule, fell heavily
with his head upon the stones and died instantly.

Thus he did not receive from his crime the profit which he had hoped,
for he had not even tasted of the bonbons which the queen had given him.

No one regretted him. No one but the poor Blondine had ever loved him.



THE FOREST OF LILACS


When Blondine entered the forest she commenced gathering the beautiful
branches of lilacs. She rejoiced in their profusion and delighted in
their fragrance.

As she made her selection, it seemed to her that those which were more
distant were still more beautiful so she emptied her apron and her hat,
which were both full and filled them again and again.

Blondine had been thus busily occupied for about an hour. She began to
suffer from the heat and to feel great fatigue. She found the branches
of lilacs heavy to carry and thought it was time to return to the
palace. She looked around and saw herself surrounded with lilacs. She
called Gourmandinet but no one replied.

"I have wandered further than I intended," said Blondine. "I will return
at once, though I am very weary. Gourmandinet will hear me and will
surely come to meet me."

Blondine walked on rapidly for some time but she could not find the
boundaries of the forest.

Many times she called anxiously upon Gourmandinet but he did not respond
and at last she became terribly frightened.

"What will become of me, all alone in this vast forest? What will my
poor papa think when I do not return? And Gourmandinet, how will he dare
go back to the palace without me? He will be scolded, perhaps beaten and
all this is my fault because I would leave my carriage to gather lilacs?
Unfortunate girl that I am! I shall die of hunger and thirst in this
forest if the wolves do not eat me up this night."

Weeping bitterly, Blondine fell on the ground at the foot of a large
tree. She wept a long time. At last her great fatigue mastered her
grief. She placed her little head upon her bundle of lilacs, and slept
peacefully.



BLONDINE'S AWAKENING--BEAU-MINON


Blondine slept calmly all night; no ferocious beast came to trouble her
slumbers. She did not suffer from the cold and awakened at a late hour
in the morning. She rubbed her eyes, much surprised to see herself
surrounded by trees, in place of being in her own room in the palace,
and upon her own bed.

She called her nurse and a soft mewing was the only response. Astonished
and almost frightened, she looked around and saw at her feet a superb
white cat, looking gently upon her and continuing to mew plaintively.

"Ah! pretty puss! how beautiful you are!" cried Blondine, placing her
little hand caressingly upon the soft fur, white as snow. "I am so happy
to see you, pretty puss, for you will conduct me to your home. I am
indeed very hungry and I have not the strength to walk much further
without food."

Blondine had scarcely uttered these words, when the white pussy mewed
again and pointed with her little paw to a small package lying near her,
wrapped neatly in fine white linen. She opened the parcel and found it
contained bread and butter which she found delicious. She gave the
crumbs to pussy, who munched them with seeming delight.

When they had finished their simple meal, Blondine leaned over towards
her little companion, and said, caressingly:

"Thanks, pretty puss, for the breakfast you have given me. Now, can you
conduct me to my papa, who is certainly in despair because of my
absence?"

Pussy, whom Blondine named Beau-Minon, shook her head and mewed
plaintively.

"Ah! you understand me, Beau-Minon," said Blondine. "I entreat you to
have pity upon me and lead me to some house before I perish with hunger,
cold and terror in this vast forest!"

Beau-Minon looked at the princess fixedly and made a sign with her
little graceful white head which seemed to say, "I understand you." She
rose, advanced a few steps and paused to see if Blondine followed her.

"I am here, Beau-Minon; I am following you gladly," said Blondine; "but
how can we pass through these bushy thickets? I see no path."

Beau-Minon made no reply but sprang lightly into the thicket which
opened of itself to allow Blondine and Beau-Minon to pass, and then
closed up immediately.

Blondine walked on for about half an hour. As she advanced, the forest
became lighter, the grass was finer and the flowers more abundant. She
saw many pretty birds singing melodiously and graceful squirrels,
bounding along the branches of the trees.

Blondine, who had no doubt that she was about to leave the forest and
see her dear father again, was enchanted with all that she saw; she
wished to pause and gather the lovely wild flowers; but Beau-Minon
advanced steadily and mewed plaintively whenever Blondine relaxed her
speed.

In about an hour Blondine perceived an elegant castle. Beau-Minon led
her to the gilded grating. However, Blondine did not know how to enter.
There was no bell and the gate was closed. Beau-Minon had disappeared
and Blondine was once more alone.



BONNE-BICHE


Beau-Minon had entered by a little passage, which seemed made expressly
for him and had probably given notice to some one at the castle, as the
gate opened without Blondine having called.

She entered the court-yard but saw no one.

The door of the castle opened of itself. Blondine entered the vestibule
which was of rare white marble. All the doors of the castle now opened
like the first and the princess passed through a suite of beautiful
rooms.

At last, in the back part of a charming salon, furnished with blue and
gold, she perceived a white hind, lying upon a bed of fine and fragrant
grasses. Beau-Minon stood near her. The pretty hind saw Blondine, arose,
and approached her.

"You are most welcome, Blondine," said she. "My son Beau-Minon and I
have expected you for a long time."

At these words, Blondine was much frightened.

"Take courage, princess; you are with friends. I know the king your
father and I love him and I love you also."

"Oh, madam," said Blondine, "if you know the king my father, I pray you
to take me to him. My absence must make him very wretched."

"My dear Blondine," said the hind, whose name was Bonne-Biche, sighing,
"it is not in my power to conduct you to your father. You are in the
hands of the magician of the Forest of Lilacs. I myself am subject to
his power which is superior to mine but I can send soft dreams to your
father, which will reassure him as to your fate and let him know that
you are safe with me."

"Oh, madam!" said Blondine, in an agony of grief, "shall I never again
see my father whom I love so tenderly? My poor father!"

"Dear Blondine, do not distress yourself as to the future. Wisdom and
prudence are always recompensed. You will see your father again but not
now. In the meantime be good and docile. Beau-Minon and I will do all in
our power to make you happy."

Blondine sighed heavily and shed a few tears. She then reflected that to
manifest such grief was a poor recompense for all the goodness of
Bonne-Biche. She resolved, therefore, to control herself and to be
cheerful.

Bonne-Biche took her to see the apartment they had prepared for her. The
bedroom was hung with rose-colored silk embroidered with gold. The
furniture was covered with white velvet worked with silks of the most
brilliant hues. Every species of animal, bird and butterfly were
represented in rare embroidery.

Adjoining Blondine's chamber was a small study. It was hung with
sky-blue damask, embroidered with fine pearls. The furniture was covered
with silver moiré, adorned with nails of turquoise. Two magnificent
portraits, representing a young and superbly handsome woman and a
strikingly attractive young man, hung on the walls. Their costumes
indicated that they were of royal race.

"Whose portraits are these, madam?" said Blondine to Bonne-Biche.

"I am forbidden to answer that question, dear Blondine. You will know
later;--but this is the hour for dinner. Come, Blondine, I am sure you
are hungry."

Blondine was in fact almost dying of hunger. She followed Bonne-Biche
and they entered the dining-room where she saw a table strangely served.

An enormous cushion of black satin was placed on the floor for
Bonne-Biche. On the table before her was a vase filled with the choicest
herbs, fresh and nutritious and near this vase was a golden bucket,
filled with fresh and limpid water.

Opposite Bonne-Biche was a little stool for Beau-Minon while before him
was a little porringer in gold, filled with little fried fish and the
thighs of snipes. At one side was a bowl of rich crystal full of fresh
milk.

Between Beau-Minon and Bonne-Biche a plate was placed for Blondine. Her
chair was of carved ivory covered with crimson velvet attached with
nails of diamonds. Before her was a gold plate richly chased, filled
with delicious soup made of a young pullet and fig-birds, her glass and
water-bottle were of carved rock-crystal, a muffin was placed by her
side, her fork and spoon were of gold and her napkin was of linen, finer
than anything she had ever seen.

The table was served by gazelles who were marvellously adroit. They
waited, carved and even divined the wishes of Blondine, Bonne-Biche and
Beau-Minon. The dinner was exquisite--the chicken was splendid, the game
and fish most delicate, the pastry and bonbons superlative. Blondine was
hungry so she ate of all and found all excellent.

After dinner, Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon conducted the princess into the
garden. She found there the most delicious fruits and lovely walks.

After a charming walk, Blondine entered the castle with her new friends,
much fatigued. Bonne-Biche proposed that she retire, to which she agreed
joyfully.

Blondine entered her chamber and found two gazelles waiting to attend
her. They disrobed her with grace and adroitness, placed her in bed and
seated themselves by her couch to watch over her.

Blondine was soon peacefully asleep--not, however, without having first
thought of her father and wept bitterly over her cruel separation from
him.



BLONDINE'S SECOND AWAKENING


Blondine slept profoundly, and on awaking she found herself entirely
changed. Indeed, it seemed to her she could not be the same person. She
was much taller, her intellect was developed, her knowledge enlarged.
She remembered a number of books she thought she had read during her
sleep. She was sure she had been writing, drawing, singing and playing
on the piano and harp.

She looked around, however, and knew that the chamber was the same to
which Bonne-Biche had conducted her and in which she had gone to sleep.

Agitated, disquieted, she rose and ran to the glass. She saw that she
was much grown and she found herself charming, a hundred times more
beautiful than when she retired the night before. Her fair ringlets fell
to her feet, her complexion was like the lily and the rose, her eyes
celestial blue, her nose beautifully formed, her cheeks rosy as the
morn, and her form was erect and graceful. In short, Blondine thought
herself the most beautiful person she had ever seen.

Trembling, almost frightened, she dressed herself hastily and ran to
seek Bonne-Biche whom she found in the apartment where she had first
seen her.

"Bonne-Biche, Bonne-Biche!" she exclaimed, "I entreat you to explain to
me the change which I see and feel in myself. Last night I went to sleep
a child--I awoke this morning, and found myself a young lady. Is this an
illusion or have I indeed grown and developed thus during the night?"

"Yes, my dear Blondine, you are fourteen years old to-day. But you have
slept peacefully seven years. My son Beau-Minon and I wished to spare
you the weariness of all early studies. When you first entered the
castle you knew nothing; not even how to read. I put you to sleep for
seven years, and Beau-Minon and I have passed this time in instructing
you during your sleep. I see by the wonder expressed in your eyes, sweet
princess, that you doubt all this. Come into your study and reassure
yourself on this point."

Blondine followed Bonne-Biche to the little room. She ran first to the
piano, commenced playing and found that she played remarkably well. She
then tried the harp and drew from it the most ravishing sounds, and she
sang enchantingly.

She took her pencil and brushes and drew and painted with a facility
which denoted a true talent. She wrote and found her handwriting clear
and elegant. She looked at the countless books which were ranged round
the room and knew that she had read them all.

Surprised, delighted, she threw her arms around the neck of Bonne-Biche,
embraced Beau-Minon tenderly and said to them:

"Oh! my dear true good friends, what a debt of gratitude do I owe you
for having thus watched over my childhood and developed my intellect and
my heart. I feel how much I am improved in every respect and I owe it
all to you."

Bonne-Biche returned her caresses and Beau-Minon patted her hand
delicately. After the first few happy moments had passed, Blondine cast
down her eyes and said timidly:

"Do not think me ungrateful, my dear good friends, if I wish you to add
one more to the benefits you have already conferred upon me. Tell me
something of my father. Does he still weep my absence? Is he happy since
he lost me?"

"Dear Blondine, your anxiety on this point is most natural and shall be
relieved. Look in this mirror, Blondine, and you shall see the king
your father and all that has passed since you left the palace."

[Illustration: _She threw her arms around the neck of Bonne-Biche_]

Blondine raised her eyes to the mirror and looked into the apartment of
her father. The king seemed much agitated and was walking backwards and
forwards. He appeared to be expecting some one. The queen, Fourbette,
entered and related to him that notwithstanding the remonstrances of
Gourmandinet, Blondine had herself seized the reins and guided the
ostriches who becoming frightened dashed off in the direction of the
Forest of Lilacs and overturned the carriage. Blondine was thrown over
the grating which bounded the forest. She stated that Gourmandinet had
become insane from terror and grief and she had sent him home to his
parents. The king was in wild despair at this news. He ran to the Forest
of Lilacs and he had to be withheld by force from throwing himself
across the boundary in order to search for his cherished Blondine. They
carried him to the palace where he yielded to the most frightful sorrow
and despair, calling unceasingly upon his dear Blondine, his beloved
child. At last, overcome by grief, he slept and saw in a dream Blondine
in the castle of Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon. Bonne-Biche gave him the
sweet assurance that Blondine should one day be restored to him and that
her childhood should be calm and happy.

The mirror now became misty and everything disappeared, then again clear
as crystal and Blondine saw her father a second time. He had become
old, his hair was white as snow and his countenance was sad. He held in
his hand a little portrait of Blondine, his tears fell upon it and he
pressed it often to his lips. The king was alone. Blondine saw neither
the Queen nor Brunette.

Poor Blondine wept bitterly.

"Alas!" said she, "why is my dear father alone? Where is the queen?
Where is Brunette?"

"The queen," said Bonne-Biche, "showed so little grief at your death, my
princess, that your father's heart was filled with hatred and suspicion
towards her and he sent her back to the king Turbulent, her father, who
confined her in a tower, where she soon died of rage and anger. All the
world supposed you to be dead. As to your sister Brunette, she became so
wicked, so insupportable, that the king hastened to give her in marriage
last year to the prince Violent, who charged himself with the duty of
reforming the character of the cruel and envious princess Brunette. The
prince was stern and harsh. Brunette saw that her wicked heart prevented
her from being happy and she commenced trying to correct her faults. You
will see her again some day, dear Blondine and your example may complete
her reformation."

Blondine thanked Bonne-Biche tenderly for all these details. Her heart
prompted her to ask, "But when shall I see my father and sister?" But
she feared to appear ungrateful and too anxious to leave the castle of
her good friends. She resolved then to await another more suitable
opportunity to ask this question.

The days passed away quietly and pleasantly. Blondine was much occupied,
but was sometimes melancholy. She had no one to talk with but
Bonne-Biche and she was only with her during the hours of lessons and
repasts. Beau-Minon could not converse and could only make himself
understood by signs. The gazelles served Blondine with zeal and
intelligence but they had not the gift of speech.

Blondine walked every day, always accompanied by Beau-Minon, who pointed
out to her the most lovely and sequestered paths and the rarest and
richest flowers.

Bonne-Biche had made Blondine promise solemnly never to leave the
enclosure of the park and never to enter the forest. Many times Blondine
had asked Bonne-Biche the reason of this prohibition. Sighing
profoundly, she had replied:

"Ah, Blondine! do not seek to penetrate the forest. It is a fatal spot.
May you never enter there."

Sometimes Blondine mounted a pavilion which was built on an eminence
near the boundary of the forest. She looked admiringly and longingly at
the magnificent trees, the lovely and fragrant flowers, the thousand
graceful birds flying and singing and seeming to call her name.

"Alas!" said she, "why will not Bonne-Biche allow me to walk in this
beautiful forest? What possible danger can I encounter in that lovely
place and under her protection?"

Whenever she was lost in these reflections, Beau-Minon, who seemed to
comprehend what was passing in her heart, mewed plaintively, pulled her
robe and tried to draw her from the pavilion.

Blondine smiled sweetly, followed her gentle companion and recommenced
her walk in the solitary park.



THE PARROT


Six months had passed since Blondine awaked from her seven years' sleep.
It seemed to the little princess a long time. The remembrance of her
dear father often saddened her heart.

Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon seemed to divine her thoughts. Beau-Minon
mewed plaintively, and Bonne-Biche heaved the most profound sighs.
Blondine spoke but rarely of that which occupied her thoughts
continually. She feared to offend Bonne-Biche, who had said to her three
or four times:

"Dear Blondine, be patient. You will see your father when you are
fifteen, if you continue wise and good. Trust me, dear child; do not
trouble yourself about the future and above all do not seek to leave
us."

One morning Blondine was alone and very sad. She was musing upon her
singular and monotonous existence. Suddenly she was disturbed in her
reverie by three soft little strokes upon her window. Raising her head,
she perceived a parrot with beautiful green plumage and throat and
breast of bright orange.

Surprised at the appearance of a bird entirely unknown to her, she
opened the window and invited the parrot to enter.

What was her amazement when the bird said to her, in a fine sharp voice:

"Good day, Blondine! I know that you sometimes have a very tedious time
of it, because you have no one to talk to. I have taken pity upon you
and come to have a chat with you. But I pray you do not mention that you
have seen me, for Bonne-Biche would cut my throat if she knew it."

"Why so, beautiful Parrot? Bonne-Biche is good; she injures no one and
only hates the wicked."

"Blondine, listen! If you do not promise to conceal my visit from
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon, I will fly away at once and never return."

"Since you wish it so much, beautiful Parrot, I will promise silence.
Let us chat a little. It is a long time since I have had an opportunity
to converse. You seem to me gay and witty. I do not doubt that you will
amuse me much."

Blondine listened with delight to the lively talk of the Parrot, who
complimented extravagantly her beauty, her wit and her talents.

Blondine was enchanted. In about an hour the Parrot flew away, promising
to return the next day. In short, he returned every day and continued to
compliment and amuse her.

One morning he struck upon the window and said:

"Blondine! Blondine! open the window, quickly! I bring you news of your
father. But above all make no noise unless you want my throat cut."

Blondine was overwhelmed with joy. She opened the window with alacrity
and said: "Is it true, my beautiful Parrot, that you bring me news of my
dear father? Speak quickly! What is he doing and how is he?"

"Your father is well, Blondine, but he weeps your loss always. I have
promised him to employ all my power to deliver you from your prison but
I can do nothing without your assistance."

"My prison!" said Blondine. "But you are ignorant of all the goodness
which Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon have shown me, of the pains they have
lavished upon my education, of all their tenderness and forbearance.
They will be enchanted to find a way of restoring me to my father. Come
with me, beautiful Parrot and I will present you to Bonne-Biche. Come, I
entreat you."

"Ah! Blondine," said the sharp voice of the Parrot, "it is you,
Princess, who do not know Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon. They detest me
because I have sometimes succeeded in rescuing their victims from them.
You will never see your father again, Blondine, you will never leave
this forest, unless you yourself shall break the charm which holds you
here."

"What charm?" said Blondine. "I know of no charm and what interest have
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon in keeping me a prisoner?"

"Is it not to their interest to enliven their solitude, Blondine? There
is a talisman which can procure your release. It is a simple Rose,
which, gathered by yourself, will deliver you from your exile and
restore you to the arms of your fond father."

"But there is not a single Rose in the garden. How then can I gather
one?"

"I will explain this to you another day, Blondine. Now I can tell you no
more, as I hear Bonne-Biche coming. But to convince you of the virtues
of the Rose, entreat Bonne-Biche to give you one and see what she will
say. To-morrow--to-morrow, Blondine!"

The Parrot flew away, well content to have scattered in Blondine's heart
the first seeds of discontent and ingratitude.

The Parrot had scarcely disappeared when Bonne-Biche entered. She
appeared greatly agitated.

"With whom have you been talking, Blondine?" looking suspiciously
towards the open window.

"With no one, madam," said the princess.

"I am certain I heard voices in conversation."

"I must have been speaking to myself."

Bonne-Biche made no reply. She was very sad and tears fell from her
eyes.

Blondine was also engaged in thought. The cunning words of the Parrot
made her look upon the kindness of Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon in a
totally different light.

In place of saying to herself that a hind which had the power to speak,
to make wild beasts intelligent, to put an infant to sleep for seven
years, to dedicate seven years to a tiresome and ignorant little girl,
in short, a hind lodged and served like a queen, could be no ordinary
criminal; in place of cherishing a sentiment of gratitude for all that
Bonne-Biche had done for her, Blondine, alas! believed blindly in the
Parrot, the unknown bird of whose character and veracity she had no
proof. She did not remember that the Parrot could have no possible
motive for risking its life to render her a service. Blondine believed
it though, implicitly, because of the flattery which the Parrot had
lavished upon her. She did not even recall with gratitude the sweet and
happy existence which Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon had secured to her. She
resolved to follow implicitly the counsels of the Parrot. During the
course of the day she said to Bonne-Biche:--

"Why, madam, do I not see among your flowers the most lovely and
charming of all flowers--the fragrant Rose?"

Bonne-Biche was greatly agitated and said in a trembling voice:--

"Blondine! Blondine! do not ask for this most perfidious flower, which
pierces all who touch it! Never speak to me of the Rose, Blondine. You
cannot know what fatal danger this flower contains for you!"

The expression of Bonne-Biche was so stern and severe that Blondine
dared not question her further.

The day passed away sadly enough. Bonne-Biche was unhappy and Beau-Minon
very sad.

Early in the morning, Blondine ran to her window and the Parrot entered
the moment she opened it.

"Well, my dear Blondine, did you notice the agitation of Bonne-Biche,
when you mentioned the Rose? I promised you to point out the means by
which you could obtain one of these charming flowers. Listen now to my
counsel. You will leave this park and enter the forest. I will accompany
you and I will conduct you to a garden where you will find the most
beautiful Rose in the world!"

"But how is it possible for me to leave the park? Beau-Minon always
accompanies me in my walks."

"Try to get rid of him," said the Parrot; "but if that is impossible, go
in spite of him."

"If this Rose is at a distance, will not my absence be perceived?"

"It is about an hour's walk. Bonne-Biche has been careful to separate
you as far as possible from the Rose in order that you might not find
the means to escape from her power."

"But why does she wish to hold me captive? She is all-powerful and could
surely find pleasures more acceptable than educating an ignorant child."

"All this will be explained to you in the future, Blondine, when you
will be in the arms of your father. Be firm! After breakfast, in some
way get away from Beau-Minon and enter the forest. I will expect you
there."

Blondine promised, and closed the window, fearing that Bonne-Biche would
surprise her.

After breakfast, according to her usual custom, she entered the garden.
Beau-Minon followed her in spite of some rude rebuffs which he received
with plaintive mews. Arrived at the alley which led out of the park,
Blondine resolved to get rid of Beau-Minon.

"I wish to be alone," said she, sternly; "begone, Beau-Minon!"

Beau-Minon pretended not to understand. Blondine was impatient and
enraged. She forgot herself so far as to strike Beau-Minon with her
foot. When poor Beau-Minon received this humiliating blow, he uttered a
cry of anguish and fled towards the palace. Blondine trembled and was on
the point of recalling him, when a false shame arrested her. She walked
on rapidly to the gate, opened it not without trembling and entered the
forest. The Parrot joined her without delay.

"Courage, Blondine! in one hour you will have the Rose and will see your
father, who weeps for you."

At these words, Blondine recovered her resolution which had begun to
falter. She walked on in the path indicated by the Parrot, who flew
before her from branch to branch. The forest, which had seemed so
beautiful and attractive near the park of Bonne-Biche, became wilder and
more entangled. Brambles and stones almost filled up the path, the sweet
songs of the birds were no longer heard and the flowers had entirely
disappeared. Blondine felt oppressed by an inexplicable restlessness.
The Parrot pressed her eagerly to advance.

"Quick, quick, Blondine! time flies! If Bonne-Biche perceives your
absence you will never again see your father."

Blondine, fatigued, almost breathless, with her arms torn by the briers
and her shoes in shreds, now declared that she would go no further when
the Parrot exclaimed:--

"We have arrived, Blondine. Look! that is the enclosure which separates
us from the Rose."

Blondine saw at a turn in the path a small enclosure, the gate of which
was quickly opened by the Parrot. The soil was arid and stony but a
magnificent, majestic rose-bush adorned with one Rose, which was more
beautiful than all the roses of the world grew in the midst of this
sterile spot.

"Take it, Blondine!" said the parrot; "you deserve it--you have truly
earned it!"

Blondine seized the branch eagerly and in spite of the thorns which
pierced her fingers cruelly, she tore it from the bush.

The Rose was scarcely grasped firmly in her hand, when she heard a burst
of mocking laughter. The Flower fell from her grasp, crying:--

"Thanks, Blondine, for having delivered me from the prison in which
Bonne-Biche held me captive. I am your evil genius! Now you belong to
me!"

"Ha! ha!" now exclaimed the Parrot. "Thanks, Blondine! I can now resume
my form of magician. You have destroyed your friends for I am their
mortal enemy!"

Saying these cruel words, the Parrot and the Rose disappeared, leaving
Blondine alone in the forest.



REPENTANCE


Blondine was stupefied! Her conduct now appeared to her in all its
horror. She had shown a monstrous ingratitude towards the friends who
had been so tenderly devoted to her--who had dedicated seven years to
the care of her education. Would these kind friends ever receive her,
ever pardon her? What would be her fate, if they should close their
doors against her? And then, what did those awful words of the wicked
Parrot signify: "You have caused the destruction of your friends"?

Blondine turned round and wished to retrace her steps to the castle of
Bonne-Biche. The briers and thorns tore her arms and face terribly. She
continued however to force her way bravely through the thickets and
after three hours of most painful walking she came before the castle of
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon.

[Illustration: _Blondine sees the castle of Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon_]

Horror seized upon her, when in place of the superb building she saw
only an appalling ruin--in place of the magnificent trees and rare
flowers which surrounded it, only briers and thorns, nettles and
thistles, could be seen. Terrified and most desolate, she tried to force
her way in the midst of the ruins, to seek some knowledge of her kind
friends. A large Toad issued from a pile of stones, advanced before her,
and said:--

"What are you seeking? Have you not occasioned the death of your friends
by the basest ingratitude? Begone! do not insult their memory by your
unwelcome presence!"

"Alas! alas!" cried Blondine, "my poor friends, Bonne-Biche and
Beau-Minon, why can I not atone by my death for the sufferings I have
caused them?" And she fell, sobbing piteously, upon the stones and
nettles; her grief and her repentance were so excessive that she did not
feel their sharp points in her tender flesh. She wept profusely a long
time. At last she arose and looked about her, hoping to find some
shelter where she might take refuge. Ruin only stared her in the face!

"Well," said she, "let the wild beasts tear me to pieces, let me die of
hunger and thirst, if I can expiate my sins here upon the tomb of
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon!"

As she uttered these words, she heard a soft voice saying: "True
repentance can atone for the worst of crimes."

She raised her head and saw only an immense black Crow flying above her.

"Alas! alas!" said Blondine, "my repentance however true, however bitter
it may be, can never give me back the lives of my dear Bonne-Biche and
Beau-Minon!"

"Courage, courage, Blondine! redeem your fault by your repentance and
do not allow yourself to be utterly cast down by grief."

The poor princess arose and left the scene of desolation. She followed a
little path, where the large trees seemed to have rooted out the
brambles and the earth was covered with moss. She was utterly exhausted
with grief and fatigue and fell at the foot of a large tree, sobbing
piteously.

"Courage, Blondine!" said another voice; "courage and hope!"

She saw near her only a Frog, which was looking at her compassionately.

"Oh, Frog!" said the princess, "you seem to pity my anguish! What will
become of me now that I am alone and desolate in the world?"

"Courage and hope!" was the reply.

Blondine sighed deeply and looked around, hoping to discover some herb
or fruit to appease her hunger and thirst. She saw nothing and her tears
flowed freely. The sound of bells now somewhat dissipated her despairing
thoughts. She saw a beautiful cow approaching her, gently and slowly. On
arriving near her, the cow paused, bowed down, and showed her a silver
porringer attached to her neck by a chain of beaten gold.

Blondine was very grateful for this unexpected succor. She detached the
porringer, milked the cow and drank the sweet milk with delight. The
pretty, gentle cow signed to her to replace the porringer. Blondine
obeyed, kissed her on the neck and said, sadly:--

"Thanks, Blanchette, it is without doubt to my poor friends that I owe
this sweet charity. Perhaps in another and better world they can see the
repentance of their poor Blondine and wish to assist her in her
frightful position."

"A true repentance will obtain pardon for all faults," said a kind
voice.

"Ah!" exclaimed Blondine, "years of sorrow and weeping for my crimes
would not suffice! I can never pardon myself!"

In the mean time, night approached. Notwithstanding her anguish and
repentance, Blondine began to reflect upon some means of securing
herself from the ferocious wild beasts, whose terrible roars she already
believed she heard in the distance. She saw some steps before her a kind
of hut, formed by several trees growing near together and interlacing
their branches. Bowing her head, she entered, and found that by
carefully connecting some branches she could form a pretty and secure
retreat. She employed the remainder of the day in arranging this little
room and gathered a quantity of moss, with which she made herself a bed
and pillow. She concealed the entrance to this little retreat by some
broken branches and leaves and went to rest, utterly worn out with
regret and fatigue.

When Blondine awoke it was broad daylight. At first she could scarcely
collect her thoughts and understand her position but the sad realities
of her lot were soon apparent to her and she commenced weeping as
before.

Blondine was hungry, and she could not imagine how she was to secure
food but soon she heard again the sound of the cow-bells. In a few
moments, Blanchette stood near her. Blondine again loosened the
porringer, drew the milk and drank till her hunger was appeased, then
replaced the porringer and kissed Blanchette, hoping to see her again
during the day. Every day--in the morning, at midday and in the
evening--Blanchette came to offer Blondine her frugal repast.

Blondine passed the time in tears for her poor friends, and bitter
self-reproach for her crimes.

"By my unpardonable disobedience," she said to herself, "I have caused
the most terrible misfortunes, which it is not in my power to repair. I
have not only lost my good and true friends but I am deprived of the
only means of finding my father, my poor father, who perhaps still
expects his Blondine, his most unhappy Blondine, condemned to live and
die alone in this frightful forest where her evil genius reigns
supreme."

Blondine sought to amuse and employ herself in every possible way. Her
little home was neatly arranged, and fresh moss and leaves composed her
simple couch. She had tied some branches together and formed a seat and
she made herself some needles and pins of the thorns and twisted some
thread from the hemp which grew near her little hut, and with these
implements she had mended the rents in her shoes.

In this simple way Blondine lived for six months; her grief was always
the same and it is just to say that it was not her sad and solitary life
which made her unhappy but sincere regret for her fault. She would
willingly have consented to pass her life in the forest if she could
thus have brought to life Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon.



THE TORTOISE


One day Blondine was seated at the entrance of her hut, musing sadly as
usual, thinking of her lost friends and of her father, when she saw
before her an enormous Tortoise.

"Blondine," said the Tortoise, "if you will place yourself under my
protection, I will conduct you out of this forest."

"And why, Madam Tortoise, should I seek to leave this forest? Here I
caused the death of my friends and here I wish to die."

"Are you very certain of their death, Blondine?"

"What do you mean? Is it possible I may be deceived? But, no; I saw the
ruins of their castle. The Parrot and the Toad assured me of their
death. You are kind and good and wish to console me without doubt but,
alas! I do not hope to see them again. If they still lived they would
not have left me alone with the frightful despair of having caused their
death."

"But how do you know, Blondine, that this seeming neglect is not forced
upon them? They may now be subjected to a power greater than their own.
You know, Blondine, that a true repentance will obtain pardon for many
crimes."

"Ah! Madam Tortoise, if they still live, if you can give me news of
them, if you can assure me that I need no longer reproach myself with
their death, assure me that I shall one day see them again, there is no
price which I will not gladly pay to merit this great happiness."

"Blondine, I am not permitted to disclose to you the fate of your
friends but if you have the courage to mount on my back, remain there
for six months and not address a single question to me during the
journey, I will conduct you to a place where all will be revealed."

"I promise all that you ask, Madam Tortoise, provided I can only learn
what has become of my friends."

"Take care, Blondine! reflect well. Six months without descending from
my back and without asking me a single question! When once you have
accepted the conditions, when we have commenced our journey, if you have
not the courage to endure to the end, you will remain eternally in the
power of the enchanter, Perroquet, and his sister Rose and I cannot
even continue to bestow upon you the little assistance to which you owe
your life during the last six months."

"Let us go, Madam Tortoise let us be off, immediately. I prefer to die
of hunger and fatigue rather than of grief and uncertainty. Your words
have brought hope to my poor heart, and I have courage to undertake even
a more difficult journey than that of which you speak."

"Let it be according to your wish, Blondine. Mount my back. Fear neither
hunger nor thirst nor cold nor sunshine nor any accident during our long
journey. As long as it lasts you shall not suffer from any
inconvenience."

Blondine mounted on the back of the Tortoise. "Now, silence!" said she;
"and not one word till we have arrived and I speak to you first."



THE JOURNEY AND ARRIVAL


The journey of Blondine lasted, as the Tortoise had said, six months.
They were three months passing through the forest. At the end of that
time she found herself on an arid plain which it required six weeks to
cross. Then Blondine perceived a castle which reminded her of that of
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon. They were a full month passing through the
avenue to this castle.

Blondine burned with impatience. Would she indeed learn the fate of her
dear friends at the palace? In spite of her extreme anxiety, she dared
not ask a single question. If she could have descended from the back of
the Tortoise, ten minutes would have sufficed for her to reach the
castle. But, alas! the Tortoise crept on slowly and Blondine remembered
that she had been forbidden to alight or to utter a word. She resolved,
therefore, to control her impatience. The Tortoise seemed rather to
relax than to increase her speed. She consumed fourteen days still in
passing through this avenue. They seemed fourteen centuries to Blondine.
She never, however, lost sight of the castle or of the door. The place
seemed deserted; she heard no noise, she saw no sign of life.

At last, after twenty-four days' journey, the Tortoise paused, and said
to Blondine:--

"Now, princess, descend. By your courage and obedience you have earned
the recompense I promised. Enter the little door which you see before
you. The first person you will meet will be the fairy Bienveillante and
she will make known to you the fate of your friends."

Blondine sprang lightly to the earth. She had been immovable so long she
feared her limbs would be cramped but on the contrary she was as light
and active as when she had lived so happily with her dear Bonne-Biche
and Beau-Minon and ran joyously and gracefully gathering flowers and
chasing butterflies.

After having thanked the Tortoise most warmly she opened the door which
had been pointed out to her and found herself before a young person
clothed in white, who asked in a sweet voice, whom she desired to see?

[Illustration: _They were three months passing through the forest_]

"I wish to see the fairy Bienveillante. Tell her, I pray you, miss,
that the princess Blondine begs earnestly to see her without delay."

"Follow me, princess", replied the young girl.

Blondine followed in great agitation. She passed through several
beautiful rooms and met many young girls clothed in white, like her
guide. They looked at her as if they recognized her and smiled
graciously.

At last Blondine arrived in a room in every respect resembling that of
Bonne-Biche in the Forest of Lilacs. The remembrances which this
recalled were so painful that she did not perceive the disappearance of
her fair young guide.

Blondine gazed sadly at the furniture of the room. She saw but one piece
which had not adorned the apartment of Bonne-Biche in the Forest of
Lilacs. This was a wardrobe in gold and ivory, exquisitely carved. It
was closed. Blondine felt herself drawn towards it in an inexplicable
manner. She was gazing at it intently, not having indeed the power to
turn her eyes away, when a door opened and a young and beautiful woman,
magnificently dressed, entered and drew near Blondine.

"What do you wish, my child?" said she, in a sweet, caressing voice.

"Oh, madam!" said Blondine, throwing herself at her feet, "I have been
assured that you could give me news of my dear, kind friends,
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon. You know, madam, without doubt by what
heedless disobedience I gave them up to destruction and that I wept for
them a long time, believing them to be dead but the Tortoise, who
conducted me here, has given me reason to hope I may one day see them
again. Tell me, madam, tell me if they yet live and if I may dare hope
for the happiness of rejoining them?"

"Blondine", replied the fairy Bienveillante, sadly, "you are now about
to know the fate of your friends, but no matter what you see or hear, do
not lose courage or hope."

Saying these words, she seized the trembling Blondine and conducted her
in front of the wardrobe which had already so forcibly attracted her
attention.

"Blondine, here is the key to this wardrobe. Open it, and be brave!"

She handed Blondine a gold key. With a trembling hand the princess
opened the wardrobe. What was her anguish when she saw the skins of
Bonne-Biche and Beau-Minon fastened to the wardrobe with diamond nails!
At this terrible sight the unfortunate princess uttered a cry of horror
and fell insensible at the feet of the fairy. At this moment the door
opened and a prince, beautiful as the day, sprang towards Blondine,
saying:--

"Oh, my mother! this is too severe a trial for my sweet Blondine!"

"Alas! my son, my heart also bleeds for her. But you know that this last
punishment was indispensable to deliver her for ever from the yoke of
the cruel genius of the Forest of Lilacs."

The fairy Bienveillante now with her wand touched Blondine, who was
immediately restored to consciousness but despairing and sobbing
convulsively, she exclaimed:--

"Let me die at once! My life is odious to me! No hope, no happiness,
from this time forth for ever for poor Blondine! My friends! my
cherished friends! I will join you soon in the land of shadows!"

"Blondine! ever dear Blondine!" said the fairy, clasping her in her
arms, "your friends live and love you tenderly. I am Bonne-Biche and
this is my son, Beau-Minon. The wicked genius of the Forest of Lilacs,
taking advantage of the negligence of my son, obtained dominion over us
and forced us into the forms under which you have known us. We could not
resume our natural appearance unless you should pluck the Rose, which I,
knowing it to be your evil genius, retained captive. I placed it as far
as possible from the castle in order to withdraw it from your view. I
knew the misfortune to which you would be exposed on delivering your
evil genius from his prison and Heaven is my witness, that my son and I
would willingly have remained a Hind and a Cat for ever in your eyes in
order to spare you the cruel tortures to which you have been subjected.
The Parrot gained you over, in spite of all our precautions. You know
the rest, my dear child. But you can never know all that we have
suffered in witnessing your tears and your desolation."

Blondine embraced the Fairy ardently and addressed a thousand questions
to her.

"What has become of the gazelles who waited upon us so gracefully?"

"You have already seen them, dear Blondine. They are the young girls who
accompanied you. They also were changed when the evil genius gained his
power over us."

"And the good white cow who brought me milk every day?"

"We obtained permission from the Queen of the Fairies to send you this
light refreshment. The encouraging words of the Crow came also from us."

"You, then, madam, also sent me the Tortoise?"

"Yes, Blondine. The Queen of the Fairies, touched by your repentance and
your grief, deprived the Evil Genius of the Forest of all power over us
on condition of obtaining from you one last proof of submission,
compelling you to take this long and fatiguing journey and inflicting
the terrible punishment of making you believe that my son and I had died
from your imprudence. I implored, entreated the Queen of the Fairies to
spare you at least this last anguish but she was inflexible."

Blondine gazed at her lost friends, listened eagerly to every word and
did not cease to embrace those she had feared were eternally separated
from her by death. The remembrance of her dear father now presented
itself. The prince Parfait understood her secret desire and made it
known to his mother, the fairy Bienveillante.

"Prepare yourself, dear Blondine, to see your father. Informed by me, he
now expects you."

At this moment, Blondine found herself in a chariot of gold and pearls,
the fairy Bienveillante seated at her right hand, and the prince Parfait
at her feet, regarding her kindly and tenderly. The chariot was drawn by
four swans of dazzling whiteness. They flew with such rapidity, that
five minutes brought them to the palace of King Benin. All the court was
assembled about the king, all were expecting the princess Blondine.

When the chariot appeared, the cries of joy and welcome were so
tumultuous that the swans were confused and almost lost their way.
Prince Parfait, who guided them, succeeded in arresting their attention
and the chariot drew up at the foot of the grand stairway. King Benin
sprang towards Blondine who, jumping lightly from the chariot, threw
herself in her father's arms. They remained a long time in this position
and everybody wept tears of joy.

When King Benin had somewhat recovered himself he kissed, respectfully
and tenderly, the hand of the good fairy who, after having protected and
educated the princess Blondine had now restored her to him. He embraced
the prince Parfait whom he found most charming.

There were eight resplendent gala days in honor of the return of
Blondine. At the close of this gay festival, the fairy Bienveillante
announced her intention of returning home. But Prince Parfait and
Blondine were so melancholy at the prospect of this separation that King
Benin resolved they should never quit the place. He wedded the fairy and
Blondine became the happy wife of Prince Parfait who was always for her
the Beau-Minon of the Forest of Lilacs.

Brunette, whose character had entirely changed, came often to see
Blondine. Prince Violent, her husband, became more amiable as Brunette
became more gentle and they were very happy.

As to Blondine, she had no misfortunes, no griefs. She had lovely
daughters, who resembled her, and good and handsome sons, the image of
their manly father, Prince Parfait. Everybody loved them and every one
connected with them was happy ever after.



Good Little Henry



GOOD LITTLE HENRY


THE POOR SICK MOTHER


There was a poor woman, a widow, who lived alone with her little son
Henry. She loved him tenderly and she had good reason to do so, for no
one had ever seen a more charming child. Although he was but seven years
old, he kept the house while his good mother labored diligently and then
left home to sell her work and buy food for herself and her little
Henry. He swept, he washed the floor, he cooked, he dug and cultivated
the garden and when all this was done he seated himself to mend his
clothes or his mother's shoes and to make stools and tables--in short,
to do everything his strength would enable him to do.

The house in which they lived belonged to them, but it was very
lonesome. In front of their dwelling there was a lofty mountain so high
that no one had ever ascended to its summit, and besides it was
surrounded by a rushing torrent, by high walls and insurmountable
precipices.

The mother and her little boy were happy but alas! one day the poor
mother fell sick. They knew no doctor and besides they had no money to
pay for one. Poor Henry did not know how to cure her. He brought her
fresh cool water for he had nothing else to give her, he stayed by her
night and day and ate his little morsel of dry bread at the foot of her
bed. When she slept he looked at her sadly and wept. The sickness
increased from day to day and at last the poor woman was almost in a
dying condition. She could neither speak nor swallow and she no longer
knew her little Henry, who was sobbing on his knees near her bed. In his
despair, he cried out:

"Fairy Bienfaisante, come to my help! Save my mother!"

Henry had scarcely pronounced these words, when a window opened and a
lady richly dressed entered and in a soft voice, said to him:

"What do you wish of me, my little friend? You called me--here I am!"

"Madam," cried Henry, throwing himself on his knees and clasping his
hands, "if you are the fairy Bienfaisante, save my poor mother who is
about to die and leave me alone in the world."

The good fairy looked at Henry most compassionately and then, without
saying a word, she approached the poor woman, bent over her, examined
her attentively, breathed upon her and said:

"It is not in my power, my poor child, to cure your mother; her life
depends upon you alone, if you have the courage to undertake the journey
I will point out to you."

"Speak, madam! I entreat you to speak! there is nothing I will not
undertake to save the life of my dear mother."

The fairy replied,

"You must go and seek the plant of life, which grows on top of the
mountain that you see from this window. When you have obtained this
plant, press its juice into the mouth of your mother and she will be
immediately restored to health."

"I will start out immediately, madam. But who will take care of my poor
mother during my absence? And, moreover," said he, sobbing bitterly,
"she will be dead before my return."

"Do not worry, my dear child. If you go to seek the plant of life, your
mother will need nothing before your return; she will remain precisely
in the condition in which you leave her. But you must dare many dangers
and endure many things before you pluck the plant of life. Great courage
and great perseverance are necessary on your part."

"I fear nothing, madam, my courage and perseverance shall not fail. Tell
me only how I shall know this plant amongst all the others which cover
the top of the mountain."

"When you reach the summit, call the doctor who has charge of this
plant, inform him that I have sent you and he will give you a branch of
the plant of life."

Henry kissed the good fairy's hands and thanked her heartily, took a
sorrowful leave of his mother, covering her with kisses, put some bread
in his pocket and set out, after saluting the fairy respectfully.

The fairy smiled encouragingly at this poor child who so bravely
resolved to ascend a mountain so dangerous that none of those who had
attempted it had ever reached the summit.



THE CROW, THE COCK, AND THE FROG


Little Henry marched resolutely to the mountain which he found much more
distant than it had appeared to him. Instead of arriving in a half hour
as he had expected, he walked rapidly the whole day without reaching its
base.

About one-third of the way he saw a Crow which was caught by the claw in
a snare which some wicked boy had set for him. The poor Crow sought in
vain to release himself from this trap which caused him cruel
sufferings. Henry ran to him, cut the cord which bound him and set him
at liberty. The poor Crow flew off rapidly, after having said to Henry,

"Thanks, my brave Henry, I will see you again."

Henry was much surprised to hear the Crow speak but he did not relax his
speed.

Some time afterwards while he was resting in a grove and eating a morsel
of bread, he saw a Cock followed by a fox and about to be taken by him
in spite of his efforts to escape. The poor frightened Cock passed very
near to Henry, who seized it adroitly, and hid it under his coat without
the fox having seen him. The fox continued his pursuit, supposing that
the Cock was before him. Henry did not move till he was entirely out of
sight. He then released the Cock, who said to him in a low voice:

"Many thanks, my brave Henry, I will see you again."

Henry was now rested. He rose and continued his journey. When he had
advanced a considerable distance he saw a poor Frog about to be devoured
by a serpent. The Frog trembled and, paralyzed by fear, could not move.
The serpent advanced rapidly, its horrid mouth open. Henry seized a
large stone and threw it so adroitly that it entered the serpent's
throat the moment it was about to devour the Frog. The frightened Frog
leaped to a distance and cried out,

"Many thanks, brave Henry; we will meet again."

Henry, who had before heard the Crow and the Cock speak, was not now
astonished at these words of the Frog and continued to walk on rapidly.

A short time after he arrived at the foot of the mountain but he was
greatly distressed to see that a large and deep river ran at its foot,
so wide that the other side could scarcely be seen. Greatly at a loss he
paused to reflect.

[Illustration: _A large and deep river ran at the foot of the mountain_]

"Perhaps," said he, hopefully, "I may find a bridge, or ford, or a
boat."

Henry followed the course of the river which flowed entirely around the
mountain but everywhere it was equally wide and deep and he saw neither
bridge nor boat. Poor Henry seated himself on the bank of the river,
weeping bitterly.

"Fairy Bienfaisante! Fairy Bienfaisante! come to my help," he
exclaimed. "Of what use will it be to me to know that there is a plant
at the top of the mountain which will save the life of my poor mother,
if I can never reach its summit?"

At this moment the Cock whom he had protected from the fox appeared on
the borders of the river, and said to him:

"The fairy Bienfaisante can do nothing for you. This mountain is beyond
her control. But you have saved my life and I wish to prove my
gratitude. Mount my back, Henry, and by the faith of a Cock I will take
you safe to the other side."

Henry did not hesitate. He sprang on the Cock's back, fully expecting to
fall into the water but his clothes were not even moist. The Cock
received him so adroitly on his back that he felt as secure as if he had
been on horseback. He held on firmly to the crest of the Cock who now
commenced the passage.

The river was so wide that he was flying constantly twenty-one days
before he reached the other shore; but during these twenty-one days
Henry was not sleepy and felt neither hunger nor thirst.

When they arrived, Henry thanked the Cock most politely, who graciously
bristled his feathers and disappeared. A moment after this Henry turned
and to his astonishment the river was no longer to be seen.

"It was without doubt the genius of the mountain who wished to prevent
my approach," said Henry. "But, with the help of the good fairy
Bienfaisante, I think I shall yet succeed in my mission."



THE HARVEST


Henry walked a long, long time but he walked in vain for he saw that he
was no farther from the foot of the mountain and no nearer to the summit
than he had been when he crossed the river. Any other child would have
retraced his steps but the brave little Henry would not allow himself to
be discouraged. Notwithstanding his extreme fatigue he walked on
twenty-one days without seeming to make any advance. At the end of this
time he was no more discouraged than at the close of the first day.

"If I am obliged to walk a hundred years," he said aloud, "I will go on
till I reach the summit."

"You have then a great desire to arrive there, little boy?" said an old
man, looking at him maliciously and standing just in his path. "What are
you seeking at the top of this mountain?"

"The plant of life, my good sir, to save the life of my dear mother who
is about to die."

The little old man shook his head, rested his little pointed chin on the
top of his gold-headed cane and after having a long time regarded Henry,
he said:

"Your sweet and fresh face pleases me, my boy. I am one of the genii of
this mountain. I will allow you to advance on condition that you will
gather all my wheat, that you will beat it out, make it into flour and
then into bread. When you have gathered, beaten, ground and cooked it,
then call me. You will find all the necessary implements in the ditch
near you. The fields of wheat are before you and cover the mountain."

The old man disappeared and Henry gazed in terror at the immense fields
of wheat which were spread out before him. But he soon mastered this
feeling of discouragement--took off his vest, seized a scythe and
commenced cutting the wheat diligently. This occupied him a hundred and
ninety-five days and nights.

When the wheat was all cut, Henry commenced to beat it with a flail
which he found at hand. This occupied him sixty days.

When the grain was all beaten out he began to grind it in a mill which
rose up suddenly near him. This occupied him seventy days.

When the wheat was all ground he began to knead it and to cook it. He
kneaded and cooked for a hundred and twenty days.

As the bread was cooked he arranged it properly on shelves, like books
in a library.

When all was finished Henry was transported with joy and called the
genius of the mountain who appeared immediately and counted four hundred
and sixty-eight thousand three hundred and twenty-nine new loaves of
bread. He bit and ate a little end off of two or three, drew near to
Henry, tapped him on the cheek and said:

"You are a good boy and I wish to pay you for your work."

He drew from his pocket a little wooden box which he gave to Henry and
said, maliciously:

"When you return home, open this box and you will find in it the most
delicious tobacco you have ever seen."

Now Henry had never used tobacco and the present of the little genius
seemed to him very useless but he was too polite to let this be seen and
he thanked the old man as if satisfied.

The old one smiled, then burst out laughing and disappeared.



THE VINTAGE


Henry began to walk rapidly and perceived with great delight that every
step brought him nearer to the summit of the mountain. In three hours he
had walked two-thirds of the way. But suddenly he found himself arrested
by a very high wall which he had not perceived before. He walked around
it, and found, after three days' diligent advance, that this wall
surrounded the entire mountain and that there was no door, not the
smallest opening by which he could enter.

Henry seated himself on the ground, to reflect upon his situation. He
resolved to wait patiently--he sat there forty-five days. At the end of
this time he said:

"I will not go back if I have to wait here a hundred years."

He had scarcely uttered these words when a part of the wall crumbled
away with a terrible noise and he saw in the opening a giant,
brandishing an enormous cudgel.

"You have then a great desire to pass here, my boy? What are you seeking
beyond my wall?"

"I am seeking the plant of life, Master Giant, to cure my poor mother
who is dying. If it is in your power and you will allow me to pass this
wall, I will do anything for you that you may command."

"Is it so? Well, listen! Your countenance pleases me. I am one of the
genii of this mountain. I will allow you to pass this wall if you will
fill my wine-cellar. Here are all my vines. Gather the grapes, crush
them, put the juice in the casks and arrange them well in my
wine-cellar. You will find all the implements necessary at the foot of
this wall. When it is done, call me."

The Giant disappeared, closing the wall behind him. Henry looked around
him and as far as he could see, the vines of the Giant were growing
luxuriously.

"Well, well," said Henry to himself, "I cut all the wheat of the little
old man--I can surely also gather the grapes of the big Giant. It will
not take me so long and it will not be as difficult to make wine of
these grapes as to make bread of the wheat."

[Illustration: _A part of the wall crumbled with a terrible noise_]

Henry took off his coat, picked up a pruning-knife which he saw at his
feet and began to cut the grapes and throw them into the vats. It took
him thirty days to gather this crop. When all was finished, he
crushed the grapes, poured the juice into the casks and ranged them in
the cellar, which they completely filled. He was ninety days making the
wine.

When the wine was ready and everything in the cellar in complete order,
Henry called the Giant who immediately appeared, examined the casks,
tasted the wine, then turned towards Henry and said:

"You are a brave little man and I wish to pay you for your trouble. It
shall not be said that you worked gratis for the Giant of the mountain."

He drew a thistle from his pocket, gave it to Henry and said:

"After your return home, whenever you desire anything, smell this
thistle."

Henry did not think the Giant very generous but he received the thistle
with an amiable smile.

Then the Giant whistled so loudly that the mountain trembled and the
wall and Giant disappeared entirely and Henry was enabled to continue
his journey.



THE CHASE


Henry was within a half-hour's walk of the summit of the mountain when
he reached a pit so wide that he could not possibly jump to the other
side and so deep that it seemed bottomless. Henry did not lose courage,
however. He followed the borders of the pit till he found himself where
he started from and knew that this yawning pit surrounded the mountain.

"Alas! what shall I do?" said poor Henry; "I scarcely overcome one
obstacle when another more difficult seems to rise up before me. How
shall I ever pass this pit?"

The poor child felt for the first time that his eyes were filled with
tears. He looked around for some means of passing over but saw no
possible chance and seated himself sadly on the brink of the precipice.
Suddenly he heard a terrible growl. He turned and saw within ten steps
of him an enormous Wolf gazing at him with flaming eyes.

"What are you seeking in my kingdom?" said the Wolf, in a threatening
voice.

"Master Wolf, I am seeking the plant of life which alone can save my
dear mother who is about to die. If you will assist me to cross this
pit, I will be your devoted servant and will obey any command you may
give me."

"Well, my boy, if you will catch all the game which is in my forests,
birds and beasts, and make them up into pies and nice roasts, by the
faith of the genius of the mountain, I will pass you over to the other
side. You will find near this tree all the instruments necessary to
catch the game and to cook it. When your work is done, call me."

Saying these words, he disappeared.

Henry took courage. He lifted a bow and arrow which he saw on the
ground, and began to shoot at the partridges, woodcocks, pheasants and
game of all kinds which abounded there. But, alas! he did not understand
it and killed nothing.

During eight days he was shooting right and left in vain and was at last
wearied and despairing, when he saw near him the Crow whose life he had
saved in the commencement of his journey.

"You rescued me from mortal danger," said the Crow, "and I told you I
should see you again. I have come to redeem my promise. If you do not
fulfil your promise to the Wolf, he will change you into some terrible
wild beast. Follow me. I am going a-hunting and you have only to gather
the game and cook it."

Saying these words, the Crow flew above the trees of the forest and with
his beak and his claws killed all the game to be found. In fact, during
one hundred and fifty days he caught one million eight hundred and sixty
thousand seven hundred and twenty-six animals and birds, squirrels,
moor-cocks, pheasants, and quails. As the Crow killed them, Henry
plucked the feathers, skinned them, cut them up and cooked them in
roasts or pies. When all was cooked he arranged them neatly and then the
Crow said to him:

"Adieu, Henry. There remains one obstacle yet to overcome but in that
difficulty I cannot aid you. But do not be discouraged. The good fairies
protect filial love."

Before Henry had time to thank the Crow, he had disappeared. He then
called the Wolf and said to him:

"Master Wolf, here is all the game of your forest. I have prepared it as
you ordered and now will you assist me to pass this precipice?"

The Wolf examined a pheasant, crunched a roast squirrel and a pie,
licked his lips and said to Henry:

"You are a brave and good boy. I will pay you for your trouble. It shall
not be said that you have worked for the Wolf of the mountain without
receiving your reward."

Saying these words, he gave Henry a staff which he cut in the forest and
said to him:

[Illustration: _Henry sprang upon the Wolf's back_]

"When you have gathered the plant of life and wish yourself transported
to any part of the world, mount the stick and it will be your horse."

Henry was on the point of throwing this useless stick into the woods but
he wished to be polite, and receiving it smilingly, he thanked the Wolf
cordially.

"Get on my back, Henry," said the Wolf.

Henry sprang upon the Wolf's back and he made a bound so prodigious
that they landed immediately on the other side of the precipice.

Henry dismounted, thanked the Wolf and walked on vigorously.



THE FISHING


At last, after so many labors and perils, Henry saw the lattice of the
garden in which the plant of life was growing and his heart bounded for
joy. He looked always upward as he walked, and went on as rapidly as his
strength would permit, when suddenly he fell into a hole. He sprang
backwards, looked anxiously around him and saw a ditch full of water,
large and long, so long indeed that he could not see either end.

"Without doubt this is that last obstacle of which the Crow spoke to
me," said Henry to himself. "Since I have overcome all my other
difficulties with the help of the good fairy Bienfaisante, she will
assist me to surmount this also. It was surely she who sent me the Cock,
the Crow and the Old Man, the Giant and the Wolf. I will wait patiently
till it shall please her to assist me this time."

On saying these words, Henry began to walk along the ditch, hoping to
find the end. He walked on steadily two days and found himself at the
end of that time just where he had started. Henry would not give way to
distress, he would not be discouraged; he seated himself on the borders
of the ditch and said:

"I will not move from this spot till the genius of the mountain allows
me to pass this ditch."

Henry had just uttered these words when an enormous Cat appeared before
him and began to mew so horribly that he was almost deafened by the
sound. The Cat said to him:

"What are you doing here? Do you not know that I could tear you to
pieces with one stroke of my claws?"

"I do not doubt your power, Mr. Cat, but you will not do so when you
know that I am seeking the plant of life to save my poor mother who is
dying. If you will permit me to pass your ditch, I will do anything in
my power to please you."

"Will you?" said the Cat. "Well, then, listen; your countenance pleases
me. If, therefore, you will catch all the fish in this ditch and salt
and cook them, I will pass you over to the other side, on the faith of a
Cat!"

Henry advanced some steps and saw lines, fish-hooks, bait, and nets on
the ground. He took a net, and hoped that by one vigorous haul he would
take many fish and that he would succeed much better than with a line
and hook. He threw the net and drew it in with great caution. But alas!
he had caught nothing!

Disappointed, Henry thought he had not been adroit. He threw the net
again and drew it very softly: still nothing!

Henry was patient. For ten days he tried faithfully without having
caught a single fish. Then he gave up the net and tried the hook and
line. He waited an hour, two hours;--not a single fish bit at the bait!
He moved from place to place, till he had gone entirely around the
ditch. He tried diligently fifteen days and caught not a single fish. He
knew not now what to do. He thought of the good fairy Bienfaisante, who
had abandoned him at the end of his undertaking. He seated himself sadly
and gazed intently at the ditch when suddenly the water began to boil
and he saw the head of a Frog appear.

"Henry," said the Frog, "you saved my life--I wish now to save yours in
return. If you do not execute the orders of the Cat of the mountain he
will eat you for his breakfast. You cannot catch the fish because the
water is so deep and they take refuge at the bottom. But allow me to act
for you. Light your fire for cooking and prepare your vessels for
salting. I will bring you the fish."

Saying these words, the Frog plunged back into the water. Henry saw that
the waves were agitated and boiling up, as if a grand contest was going
on at the bottom of the ditch. In a moment, however, the Frog
reappeared, sprang ashore and deposited a superb salmon which he had
caught. Henry had scarcely time to seize the salmon when the Frog leaped
ashore with a carp. During sixty days the Frog continued his labors.
Henry cooked the large fish and threw the little ones into the casks to
be salted. Finally, at the end of two months, the Frog leaped towards
Henry and said:

"There is not now a single fish in the ditch. You can call the Cat of
the mountain."

Henry thanked the Frog heartily, who extended his wet foot towards him,
in sign of friendship. Henry pressed it affectionately and gratefully
and the Frog disappeared.

It took Henry fifteen days to arrange properly all the large fish he had
cooked and all the casks of small fish he had salted. He then called the
Cat, who appeared immediately.

"Mr. Cat," said Henry, "here are all your fish cooked and salted. Will
you now keep your promise and pass me over to the other side?"

The Cat examined the fish and the casks; tasted a salted and a cooked
fish, licked his lips, smiled and said to Henry:

"You are a brave boy! I will recompense your fortitude and patience. It
shall never be said that the Cat of the mountain does not pay his
servants."

Saying these words, the Cat tore off one of his own claws and said,
handing it to Henry:

"When you are sick or feel yourself growing old, touch your forehead
with this claw. Sickness, suffering and old age will disappear. This
miraculous claw will have the same virtue for all that you love and all
who love you."

Henry thanked the Cat most warmly, took the precious claw and wished to
try its powers immediately, as he felt painfully weary. The claw had
scarcely touched his brow when he felt as fresh and vigorous as if he
had just left his bed.

The Cat looked on smiling, and said: "Now get on my tail."

Henry obeyed. He was no sooner seated on the Cat's tail than he saw the
tail lengthen itself till it reached across the ditch.



THE PLANT OF LIFE


When he had saluted the Cat respectfully, Henry ran towards the garden
of the plant of life, which was only a hundred steps from him. He
trembled lest some new obstacle should retard him but he reached the
garden lattice without any difficulty. He sought the gate and found it
readily, as the garden was not large. But, alas! the garden was filled
with innumerable plants utterly unknown to him and it was impossible to
know how to distinguish the plant of life. Happily he remembered that
the good fairy Bienfaisante had told him that when he reached the summit
of the mountain he must call the Doctor who cultivated the garden of the
fairies. He called him then with a loud voice. In a moment he heard a
noise among the plants near him and saw issue from them a little man, no
taller than a hearth brush. He had a book under his arm, spectacles on
his crooked little nose and wore the great black cloak of a doctor.

[Illustration: "_What are you seeking little one?_"]

"What are you seeking, little one?" said the Doctor; "and how is it
possible that you have gained this summit?"

"Doctor, I come from the fairy Bienfaisante, to ask the plant of life to
cure my poor sick mother, who is about to die."

"All those who come from the fairy Bienfaisante," said the little
Doctor, raising his hat respectfully, "are most welcome. Come, my boy, I
will give you the plant you seek."

The Doctor then buried himself in the botanical garden where Henry had
some trouble in following him, as he was so small as to disappear
entirely among the plants. At last they arrived near a bush growing by
itself. The Doctor drew a little pruning-knife from his pocket, cut a
bunch and gave it to Henry, saying:

"Take this and use it as the good fairy Bienfaisante directed but do not
allow it to leave your hands. If you lay it down under any circumstances
it will escape from you and you will never recover it."

Henry was about to thank him but the little man had disappeared in the
midst of his medicinal herbs, and he found himself alone.

"What shall I do now in order to arrive quickly at home? If I encounter
on my return the same obstacles which met me as I came up the mountain,
I shall perhaps lose my plant, my dear plant, which should restore my
dear mother to life."

Happily Henry now remembered the stick which the Wolf had given him.

"Well, let us see," said he, "if this stick has really the power to
carry me home."

Saying this, he mounted the stick and wished himself at home. In the
same moment he felt himself raised in the air, through which he passed
with the rapidity of lightning and found himself almost instantly by his
mother's bed.

Henry sprang to his mother and embraced her tenderly. But she neither
saw nor heard him. He lost no time, but pressed the plant of life upon
her lips. At the same moment she opened her eyes, threw her arms around
Henry's neck and exclaimed:

"My child! my dear Henry! I have been very sick but now I feel almost
well. I am hungry."

Then, looking at him in amazement, she said: "How you have grown, my
darling! How is this? How can you have changed so in a few days?"

Henry had indeed grown a head taller. Two years, seven months and six
days had passed away since he left his home. He was now nearly ten years
old. Before he had time to answer, the window opened and the good fairy
Bienfaisante appeared. She embraced Henry and, approaching the couch of
his mother, related to her all that little Henry had done and suffered,
the dangers he had dared, the fatigues he endured; the courage, the
patience, the goodness he had manifested. Henry blushed on hearing
himself thus praised by the fairy. His mother pressed him to her heart,
and covered him with kisses. After the first moments of happiness and
emotion had passed away, the fairy said:

"Now, Henry, you can make use of the present of the little Old Man and
the Giant of the mountain."

Henry drew out his little box and opened it. Immediately there issued
from it a crowd of little workmen, not larger than bees, who filled the
room. They began to work with such promptitude that in a quarter of an
hour they had built and furnished a beautiful house in the midst of a
lovely garden with a thick wood on one side and a beautiful meadow on
the other.

"All this is yours, my brave Henry," said the fairy. "The Giant's
thistle will obtain for you all that is necessary. The Wolf's staff will
transport you where you wish. The Cat's claw will preserve your health
and your youth and also that of your dear mother. Adieu, Henry! Be happy
and never forget that virtue and filial love are always recompensed."

Henry threw himself on his knees before the fairy who gave him her hand
to kiss, smiled upon him and disappeared.

Henry's mother had a great desire to arise from her bed and admire her
new house, her garden, her woods and her meadow. But, alas! she had no
dress. During her first illness she had made Henry sell all that she
possessed, as they were suffering for bread.

"Alas! alas! my child, I cannot leave my bed. I have neither dresses nor
shoes."

"You shall have all those things, dear mother," exclaimed Henry.

Drawing his thistle from his pocket, he smelled it while he wished for
dresses, linen, shoes for his mother and himself and also for linen for
the house. At the same moment the presses were filled with linen, his
mother was dressed in a good and beautiful robe of merino and Henry
completely clothed in blue cloth, with good, substantial shoes. They
both uttered a cry of joy. His mother sprang from her bed to run through
the house with Henry. Nothing was wanting. Everywhere the furniture was
good and comfortable. The kitchen was filled with pots and kettles; but
there was nothing in them.

Henry again put his thistle to his nose and desired to have a good
dinner served up.

A table soon appeared, with good smoking soup, a splendid leg of lamb, a
roasted pullet and good salad. They took seats at the table with the
appetite of those who had not eaten for three years. The soup was soon
swallowed, the leg of lamb entirely eaten, then the pullet, then the
salad.

When their hunger was thus appeased, the mother, aided by Henry, took
off the cloth, washed and arranged all the dishes and then put the
kitchen in perfect order. They then made up their beds with the sheets
they found in the presses and went happily to bed, thanking God and the
good fairy Bienfaisante. The mother also gave grateful thanks for her
dear son Henry.

They lived thus most happily, they wanted nothing--the thistle provided
everything. They did not grow old or sick--the claw cured every ill.
They never used the staff, as they were too happy at home ever to desire
to leave it.

Henry asked of his thistle only two cows, two good horses and the
necessaries of life for every day. He wished for nothing superfluous,
either in clothing or food and thus he preserved his thistle as long as
he lived. It is not known when they died. It is supposed that the Queen
of the Fairies made them immortal and transported them to her palace,
where they still are.



The Princess Rosette



HISTORY OF PRINCESS ROSETTE


THE FARM


There was once a king and queen, who had three daughters. The two eldest
were twins--Orangine and Roussette--and their parents loved them very
dearly. They were beautiful and intelligent, but they were not very
good. In this they resembled the king and queen. The third princess was
called Rosette and was three years younger than her sisters. She was as
amiable as she was handsome, as good as she was beautiful.

The fairy Puissante was Rosette's godmother and this made her two
sisters, Orangine and Roussette, very jealous. They were angry because
they also had not a fairy for their godmother.

Some days after the birth of Rosette, the king and queen sent her to the
country, on a farm, to be nursed. Rosette lived happily here for fifteen
years without her parents coming once to see her. Every year they sent a
small sum of money to the farmer to pay Rosette's expenses and asked
some questions as to her health, but they never came to see her nor
disturbed themselves about her education.

Rosette would indeed have been very rude and ignorant if her good
godmother, the fairy Puissante, had not sent her teachers and all that
was necessary. In this way Rosette learned to read, to write, to keep
accounts and to work beautifully. She became an accomplished musician,
she knew how to draw and spoke several languages.

Rosette was the most beautiful, the most attractive, the most amiable
and the most excellent princess in the whole world. She had never
disobeyed her nurse or godmother, and had therefore never been reproved.
She did not regret her father and mother, as she did not know them and
she did not desire any other home than the farm where she had been so
happy.

One day when Rosette was seated on a bench before the door, she saw a
man arrive in a laced hat and coat; he approached her and asked if he
could speak to the princess Rosette.

"Yes, without doubt," answered the princess; "I am the princess
Rosette."

[Illustration: _She saw a man arrive in a laced hat and coat_]

"Then, princess," said the man, respectfully taking off his hat, "be
graciously pleased to receive this letter, which the king your father
has charged me to deliver to you."

Rosette took the letter, opened it, and read the following:

    "Rosette: Your sisters are now eighteen years old and it is time
    they were married. I have invited the princes and princesses of all
    the kingdoms of the earth to come and assist at a festival which I
    intend to give in order to choose husbands for Orangine and
    Roussette. You are now fifteen years old and can properly appear at
    this festival. You may come and pass three days with me. I will send
    for you in eight days. I cannot send you any money for your toilet
    as I am now at great expense for your sisters; besides, no one will
    look at you. Come, therefore, in any clothes you please.

                                       "The King Your Father."

Rosette ran quickly to show this letter to her nurse.

"Are you pleased, Rosette, to go to this festival?"

"Yes, my good nurse, I am delighted. I will enjoy myself and become
acquainted with my father, mother and my sisters and then I will return
to you."

"But," said the nurse, shaking her head, "what dress will you wear, my
poor child?"

"My beautiful robe of white percale which I always wear on holidays, my
dear nurse."

"My poor little one, that robe is indeed very suitable for the country
but would appear miserably poor at a party of kings and princes."

"Of what consequence is all this, nurse? My father himself has said that
no one will look at me. This thought will make me much more at my ease.
I shall see all and no one will see me."

The nurse sighed but said nothing and began immediately to mend, whiten
and smooth Rosette's white robe.

The day before the king was to send for her, the nurse called her and
said:

"My dear child, here is your dress for the king's festival; be very
careful with it as I shall not be there to whiten and smooth it for
you."

"Thanks, my good nurse; be satisfied--I will take great care."

The nurse now packed in a little trunk the percale robe and white skirt,
a pair of cotton stockings and black shoes and then a little bouquet of
flowers for Rosette to wear in her hair. Just as she was about to close
the trunk, the window opened violently and the fairy Puissante entered.

"You are going, then, to your father's court, my dear Rosette?" said the
fairy.

"Yes, dear godmother, but only for three days."

"But what dress have you prepared for those three days?"

"Look, godmother! look!" and she pointed to the trunk, which was still
open.

The fairy smiled, drew a small bottle from her pocket and said: "I
intend that my dear Rosette shall make a sensation by her dress. This is
unworthy of her."

The fairy opened the bottle, and threw some drops of the liquid it
contained upon the robe, which became a coarse India rubber cloth; then
a drop upon the cotton stockings, which changed into blue yarn; a third
drop upon the bouquet, which became a hen's egg; a fourth upon the
shoes, and they immediately changed into coarse felt.

"In this manner," said she, with a gracious air, "do I wish my Rosette
to appear. You must attire yourself in all this and, to complete your
toilette, here is a necklace of nuts, a band for your hair of burrs, and
bracelets of dried beans." She kissed Rosette who was completely
stupefied. The fairy then disappeared and the nurse burst into tears.

"Alas! it was not worth my while to give myself all the trouble of
preparing this poor robe. Oh, my poor Rosette! Do not go to this
festival. Pretend you are ill, my child."

"No," said Rosette; "that would be to displease my godmother. I am sure
that she does what is best for me. She is much wiser than I am. I will
go and I will wear all that my godmother has brought me." And the good
and obedient Rosette thought no more of her dress. She went to bed and
slept tranquilly.

She had scarce arranged her hair and dressed herself in the morning when
the chariot of the fairy came for her. She embraced her nurse, took her
little trunk and departed.



ROSETTE AT THE COURT OF THE KING HER FATHER


They were but two hours on the way, for the king's capital was only ten
leagues from the farm. When Rosette arrived, she was surprised to see
that she had to descend in a little, dirty court-yard, where a page
attended her.

"Come, princess, I am commissioned to conduct you to your chamber."

"Can I not see the queen my mother?" asked Rosette, timidly.

"In two hours, princess, when they are assembled for dinner, you will
see her. In the mean time you can dress."

Rosette followed the page, who led her through a long corridor, at the
end of which was a narrow staircase. She ascended, slowly, after a long,
long time arriving at another corridor where she entered the chamber
destined for her. The queen had lodged Rosette in one of the servants'
rooms. The little page placed Rosette's modest trunk in a corner and
said, with an air of embarrassment,

"Pardon me, princess, for having led you into this chamber, so unworthy
of you. The queen has disposed of all the other apartments for her
guests, the kings, queens, princes and princesses. There was no other
room vacant and----"

"Well, well," said Rosette, smiling, "I shall not blame you. Besides, I
shall be very comfortable."

"I will come for you, princess, to lead you to the king and queen at the
proper hour."

"I will be ready," said Rosette, "adieu, pretty page."

Rosette now unpacked her trunk. Her heart was beating and swelling
tumultuously. Sighing heavily, she drew out her robe of coarse cloth and
the other articles of her toilette. Rosette was very adroit. She
arranged her exquisite blonde hair most beautifully, with a pullet's
feather and a band made of burrs. Her head-dress was indeed so charming
that it made her a hundred times more lovely. When she had put on her
shoes and stockings and her robe, what was her amazement to see that it
was made of gold brocade, embroidered with rubies of marvellous beauty;
her coarse heavy shoes were now white satin, adorned with buckles of one
single ruby of wonderful splendour; her stockings were of silk and as
fine as a spider's web; her necklace was of rubies surrounded with
large diamonds; her bracelets of diamonds, the most splendid that had
ever been seen.

Rosette now ran to the glass and saw that the pullet's wing had become a
magnificent locket and that the pendant was a carbuncle of such beauty
and brilliancy that a fairy alone could possess it.

Rosette, happy, delighted, exultant, danced around the little room and
thanked her good godmother aloud for having tested her obedience and
thus magnificently rewarded it.

The page now knocked at the door, entered and started back, dazzled by
the beauty of Rosette and the magnificence of her toilette. Rosette
followed him. They descended the stairs, passed through many apartments
and at last entered a suite of superb salons, filled with kings, queens
and nobles. Every one who saw Rosette paused and turned to admire her.
The modest princess, however, was ashamed to be thus gazed at and did
not dare raise her eyes. At last the page paused and said to Rosette:

"Princess, behold the queen your mother and the king!"

Rosette raised her eyes and saw just before her the king and queen who
regarded her with a comic surprise.

"Madam," said the king at last to her, "be graciously pleased to tell me
your name. You are no doubt some great queen or still greater fairy
whose unexpected presence is an honor and a happiness for us."

"Sire," said Rosette, falling gracefully upon her knees, "I am neither
a great queen nor a powerful fairy but your daughter Rosette, for whom
you were kind enough to send."

"Rosette!" exclaimed the queen; "Rosette clothed more magnificently than
I have ever been! Who, then, miss, has given you all these beautiful
things?"

"My godmother, madam. Graciously permit me, madam, to kiss your hand and
present me to my sisters."

The queen gave her hand coldly. Then pointing to Orangine and Roussette,
who were by her side, she said: "There are your sisters."

Poor Rosette, saddened by this cold welcome from her father and mother,
turned gladly towards her sisters and wished to embrace them but they
drew back with terror, fearing that while embracing them Rosette would
displace the red and white with which they were painted. Orangine
covered herself with white to conceal her yellow skin and Roussette to
hide her ugly freckles.

Rosette was repulsed by her sisters but was soon surrounded by the
ladies of the court and all the invited princes. As she conversed with
ready grace and goodness and spoke several languages she charmed all
those who approached her. Orangine and Roussette were frightfully
jealous. The king and queen were furious for Rosette absorbed all
attention; no one paid any attention to the sisters.

At table the young prince Charmant, who was monarch of the most
magnificent and beautiful of all the kingdoms of the earth and whom
Orangine hoped to wed, placed himself by the side of Rosette and was
completely absorbed in her during the repast.

After dinner, Orangine and Roussette, in order to draw some attention
towards themselves, sang a duet. They sang indeed admirably and
accompanied themselves on the harp. Rosette who was truly good and
wished her sister to love her, applauded them rapturously and
complimented them on their talent.

Orangine, in place of being touched by this generous sentiment and
hoping to play her sister a malicious trick, now insisted upon her
singing. Rosette for some time modestly refused. Her sisters, who
supposed that she did not know how to sing, were insistent. The queen
herself, desiring to humiliate poor Rosette, joined her entreaties to
those of Orangine and Roussette and in fact commanded the young princess
to sing.

Rosette curtsied to the queen. "I obey, madam," said she.

She took the harp and the enchanting grace of her position astonished
her sisters. They would have been glad indeed to interrupt her when she
commenced her prelude for they saw at a glance that her talent was much
superior to theirs. But when, in a beautiful and melodious voice, she
sang a romance, composed by herself on the happiness of being good and
beloved there was an outbreak of admiration, the enthusiasm became
general and her sisters almost fainted with jealousy and envy.

Charmant was transported with admiration. He approached Rosette, his
eyes moistened with tears and said to her:

"Enchanting and lovely princess, I have never heard so touching a voice.
Can I not have the happiness of hearing you once more?"

Rosette, who was painfully aware of the jealousy of her sisters, excused
herself, saying she was fatigued. Prince Charmant, who had clear
intellect and penetration, divined the true motive of her refusal and
admired Rosette still more for her delicacy. The queen, irritated by the
success of Rosette, terminated the party at an early hour and retired.

Rosette returned to her little room and undressed herself. She removed
her robe and her ornaments and put them in a superb case of ebony which
she found in her room. Much to her surprise, she found in her little
trunk the robe of coarse cloth, the pullet feather, the necklace of
nuts, the burrs, the dry beans, the coarse shoes of felt and the blue
yarn stockings. She would not allow herself, however, to be disquieted,
certain that her good godmother would come to her assistance at the
proper time. Rosette was indeed saddened by the coldness of her parents
and the jealousy of her sisters; but, as she scarcely knew them, this
painful impression was effaced by the remembrance of the Prince
Charmant, who appeared so good and who had been so flattering in his
attention to her. Rosette soon slept peacefully and awoke late in the
morning.



FAMILY COUNCIL


While Rosette was only occupied with smiling and pleasant thoughts, the
king, the queen and the princesses Orangine and Roussette were choking
with rage. They had all assembled in the queen's apartment.

"This is too horrible," said the princesses. "Why did you send for this
Rosette, who has such dazzling jewels and makes herself admired and
sought after by all these foolish kings and princes? Was it to humiliate
us, my father, that you called us to the court at this time?"

"I swear to you, my beautiful darlings," said the king, "that it was by
the order of the fairy Puissante I was compelled to write for her to
come. Besides, I did not know that she was so beautiful and that----"

"So beautiful!" interrupted the princesses. "Where do you find her so
beautiful? She is indeed ugly and coarse. It is her magnificent attire
alone which makes her admired. Why have you not given to us your most
superb jewels and your richest robes? We have the air of young slovens
by the side of this proud princess."

"And where could I possibly have found jewels as magnificent as hers? I
have none which would compare with them. It is her godmother, the fairy
Puissante, who has lent her these jewels."

"Why, then, did you summon a fairy to be the godmother of Rosette, when
you gave to us only queens for our godmothers?"

"It was not your father who called her," cried the queen. "The fairy
Puissante herself, without being called, appeared to us and signified
that she would be Rosette's godmother."

"It is not worth while to spend the time in disputing and quarrelling,"
said the king. "It is better to occupy ourselves in finding some means
of getting rid of Rosette and preventing Prince Charmant from seeing her
again."

"Nothing more easy than that," said the queen. "I will have her
despoiled to-morrow of her rare jewels and her beautiful robes. I will
order my servants to seize her and carry her back to the farm which she
shall never leave again."

The queen had scarcely uttered these words, when the fairy Puissante
appeared with an angry and threatening air. "If you dare to touch
Rosette," said she, with a thundering voice, "if you do not keep her at
the palace, if she is not present at all the parties, you shall feel
the terrible effects of my anger. You unworthy king and you heartless
queen, you shall be changed into toads and you, odious daughters and
sisters, shall become vipers. Dare now to touch Rosette!"

Saying these words, she disappeared.

The king, the queen and princesses were horribly frightened and
separated without saying a single word but their hearts were filled with
rage. The princesses slept but little and were yet more furious in the
morning when they saw their eyes heavy and their features convulsed by
evil passions. In vain they used rouge and powder and beat their maids.
They had no longer a vestige of beauty. The king and queen were as
unhappy and as despairing as the princesses and indeed they saw no
remedy for their grief and disappointment.



SECOND DAY OF THE FESTIVAL


In the morning a coarse servant brought Rosette bread and milk and
offered her services to dress her. Rosette, who did not wish this rude
domestic to see the change in her dress, thanked her smilingly and
replied that she was in the habit of arranging her hair and dressing
herself. Rosette then began her toilette. When she had washed and combed
her hair she wished to arrange it with the superb carbuncle she had worn
the day before but she saw with surprise that the ebony case had
disappeared and in its place was a small wooden trunk, upon which there
lay a folded paper. She took it and read the following directions:

    "Here are your things, Rosette. Dress yourself as you were dressed
    yesterday, in the clothing you brought from the farm."

Rosette did not hesitate an instant, certain that her godmother would
come to her help at the proper time. She arranged her pullet wing in a
different manner from that of the day before, put on her dress, her
necklace, her shoes, her bracelets and then stood before the glass.

When she saw her own reflection in the mirror she was amazed. She was
attired in the richest and most splendid riding-suit of sky-blue velvet
and pearl buttons as large as walnuts; her stockings were bordered with
a wreath of pearls; her head-dress was a cap of sky-blue velvet with a
long plume of dazzling whiteness, which floated down to her waist and
was attached by a single pearl of unparalleled beauty and splendor. The
boots were also of blue velvet embroidered in gold and pearls. Her
bracelets and necklace also were of pearls, so large and so pure that a
single one would have paid for the king's palace.

At the moment when Rosette was about to leave her chamber to follow the
page, a sweet voice whispered in her ear, "Rosette, do not mount any
other horse than the one the prince Charmant will present you."

She turned and saw no one; but she felt convinced that this counsel came
from her good godmother.

"Thanks, dear godmother," she said, in low tones. She felt a sweet kiss
upon her cheek and smiled with happiness and gratitude.

The little page conducted her, as the day before, into the royal salon,
where her appearance produced a greater effect than before. Her fine,
sweet countenance, her splendid figure, her magnificent dress, allured
all eyes and captivated all hearts.

The prince Charmant, who was evidently expecting her, advanced to meet
her, offered his arm and led her to the king and queen who received her
with more coldness than the day before. Orangine and Roussette were
bursting with spite at the sight of the splendid appearance of Rosette.
They would not even say good-day to their sister.

The good, young princess was of course somewhat embarrassed by this
reception but the prince Charmant, seeing her distress, approached and
asked permission to be her companion during the chase in the forest.

"It will be a great pleasure to me," replied Rosette, who did not know
how to dissimulate.

"It seems to me," said he, "that I am your brother, so great is the
affection which I feel for you, charming princess. Permit me to remain
by your side and to defend you against all enemies."

"It will be an honor and a pleasure for me to be protected by a king so
worthy of the name he bears."

Prince Charmant was enchanted by this gracious reply and,
notwithstanding the malice of Orangine and Roussette, who tried in every
possible way to attract him to themselves, he did not leave Rosette's
side for a moment.

After breakfast they descended to the court for a ride on horseback. A
page advanced to Rosette, leading a splendid black horse, which could
scarcely be held by the grooms, it was so wild and vicious.

"You must not ride this horse, princess," said Prince Charmant, "it will
certainly kill you. Bring another horse for the princess," he said,
turning to the page.

"The king and the queen gave orders that the princess should ride no
other horse than this," said the page. At this the prince exclaimed:

"Dear princess, wait but for a moment; I myself will bring you a horse
worthy of you but I implore you not to mount this dangerous animal."

"I will wait your return," said Rosette, with a gracious smile.

A few moments afterwards Prince Charmant appeared, leading a magnificent
horse, white as snow. The saddle was of blue velvet, embroidered in
pearls and the bridle was of gold and pearls. When Rosette wished to
mount, the horse knelt down and rose quietly when she had placed herself
in the saddle.

Prince Charmant sprang lightly upon his beautiful steed Alezan and
placed himself by the side of the princess Rosette. The king, the queen
and the princesses, who had seen all this, were pale with rage but they
dared say nothing for fear of the fairy Puissante.

The king gave the signal to depart. Every lady had her attendant
gentleman. Orangine and Roussette were obliged to content themselves
with two insignificant princes who were neither so young nor so handsome
as Prince Charmant. Orangine and Roussette were so sulky that even these
princes declared they would never wed princesses so uninteresting.

In place of following the chase, Prince Charmant and Rosette wandered in
the beautiful shady walks of the forest, talking merrily and giving
accounts of their past lives.

"But," said Charmant, "if the king your father has not allowed you to
reside in his palace, how is it that he has given you such beautiful
jewels, worthy of a fairy?"

"It is to my good godmother that I owe them," replied Rosette. And then
she told Prince Charmant how she had been educated on a farm and that
she was indebted to the fairy Puissante for everything that she knew and
everything she valued. The fairy had watched over her education and
granted her every wish of her heart.

Charmant listened with a lively interest and a tender compassion. And
now, in his turn, he told Rosette that he had been left an orphan at the
age of seven years; that the fairy Puissante had presided over his
education; that she had also sent him to the festivals given by the
king, telling him he would find there the perfect woman he was seeking.

"In short, I believe, dear Rosette, that I have found in you the
charming and perfect creature of whom the fairy spoke. Deign, princess,
to connect your life with mine and authorize me to demand your hand of
your parents."

"Before answering, dear prince, I must obtain permission of my godmother
but you may be sure that I shall be very happy to pass my life with
you."

The morning thus passed away most agreeably for Rosette and Charmant and
they returned to the palace to dress for dinner.

Rosette entered her ugly garret and saw before her a magnificent box of
rosewood, wide open. She undressed and as she removed her articles of
clothing they arranged themselves in the box, which then closed firmly.
She arranged her hair and dressed herself with her usual neatness and
then ran to the glass. She could not suppress a cry of admiration.

Her robe was of gauze and was so fine and light, and brilliant it looked
as if woven of the wings of butterflies. It was studded with diamonds as
brilliant as stars. The hem of this robe, the corsage and the waist were
trimmed with diamond fringe which sparkled like suns. Her hair was
partly covered with a net of diamonds from which a tassel of immense
diamonds fell to her shoulders. Every diamond was as large as a pear and
was worth a kingdom. Her necklace and bracelets were so immense and so
brilliant that you could not look at them fixedly without being
blinded.

The young princess thanked her godmother most tenderly and felt again
upon her fair cheek the sweet kiss of the morning. She followed the page
and entered the royal salon. Prince Charmant was awaiting her at the
door, offered her his arm and conducted her to the apartment of the king
and queen. Rosette advanced to salute them.

Charmant saw with indignation the glances of rage and revenge which the
king, queen and princesses cast upon poor Rosette. He remained by her
side as he had done in the morning and was witness to the admiration
which she inspired and the malice and envy of her sisters.

Rosette was indeed sad to find herself the object of hatred to her
father, mother and sisters. Charmant perceived her melancholy and asked
the cause. She explained it to him frankly.

"When, oh! when, my dear Rosette, will you permit me to ask your hand of
your father? In my kingdom every one will love you and I more than all
the rest."

"To-morrow, dear prince, I will send you the reply of my godmother whom
I shall question on the subject this evening."

They were now summoned to dinner. Charmant placed himself at Rosette's
side and they conversed in a most agreeable manner.

After dinner the king gave orders for the ball to commence. Orangine and
Roussette, who had taken lessons for ten years, danced well but without
any peculiar grace. They believed that Rosette had never had any
opportunity to dance and with a mocking, malicious air, they now
announced to her that it was her turn.

The modest Rosette hesitated and drew back because it was repugnant to
her to show herself in public and attract the general regard. But the
more she declined, the more her envious sisters insisted, hoping that
she would at last suffer a real humiliation.

The queen now interfered and sternly commanded Rosette to dance. Rosette
rose at once to obey the queen. Charmant, seeing her embarrassment, said
to her in low tones:

"I will be your partner, dear Rosette. If you do not know a single step,
let me execute it for you alone."

"Thanks, dear prince. I recognize and am grateful for your courtesy. I
accept you for my partner and hope that you will not have occasion to
blush for your generosity."

And now Rosette and Charmant commenced. A more animated, graceful and
light dance was never seen. All present gazed at them with ever
increasing admiration. Rosette was so superior in dancing to Orangine
and Roussette, that they could scarcely suppress their rage. They wished
to throw themselves upon the young princess, choke her and tear her
diamonds from her. The king and queen, who had been watching them and
divined their intention, stopped them, and whispered in their ears:

"Remember the threats and power of the fairy Puissante! To-morrow shall
be the last day."

When the dance was concluded, the most rapturous applause resounded
throughout the hall and every one entreated Charmant and Rosette to
repeat the dance. As they felt no fatigue they did not wish to seem
disobliging and executed a new dance, more graceful and attractive than
the first.

Orangine and Roussette could no longer control themselves. They were
suffocating with rage, fainted and were carried from the room. They had
become so marked by the passions of envy and rage that they had lost
every vestige of beauty and no one had any sympathy for them, as all had
seen their jealousy and wickedness.

The applause and enthusiasm for Rosette and Charmant were so
overpowering that they sought refuge in the garden. They walked side by
side during the rest of the evening, and talked merrily and happily over
their plans for the future, if the fairy Puissante would permit them to
unite the smooth current of their lives. The diamonds of Rosette
sparkled with such brilliancy that the alleys where they walked and the
little groves where they seated themselves, seemed illuminated by a
thousand stars. At last it was necessary to separate.

[Illustration: _They walked side by side during the rest of the
evening_]

"To-morrow!" said Rosette, "to-morrow I hope to say, _yours eternally_."

Rosette entered her little room. As she undressed, her clothing arranged
itself as the day before in the case. This new case was of carved ivory
and studded with turquoise nails. When Rosette had lain down peacefully
upon her bed she put out the light, and said, in a low voice:

"My dear, good godmother, to-morrow I must give a definite answer to
Prince Charmant. Dictate my response, dear godmother. I will obey your
command, no matter how painful it may be."

"Say yes, my dear Rosette, to Prince Charmant," replied the soft voice
of the fairy. "I myself arranged this marriage. It was to make you
acquainted with Prince Charmant that I forced your father to invite you
to this festival."

Rosette thanked the kind fairy and slept the sleep of innocence, after
having felt the maternal lips of her good protectress upon her cheeks.



THIRD AND LAST DAY OF THE FESTIVAL


While Rosette was thus sleeping peacefully, the king, the queen, and
Orangine and Roussette, purple with rage, were quarrelling and disputing
amongst themselves. Each was accusing the other of having brought about
the triumph of Rosette and their own humiliating defeat. One last hope
remained for them. In the morning there was to be a chariot race. Each
chariot was to be drawn by two horses and driven by a lady. It was
resolved to give Rosette a very high chariot, drawn by two wild,
untrained and prancing horses.

"Prince Charmant will have no chariot and horses to exchange," said the
queen, "as he had this morning in the case of the riding-horse. It is
easy to find a horse for the saddle but it will be impossible for him to
find a chariot ready for the course."

The consoling thought that Rosette might be killed or grievously
wounded and disfigured on the morrow brought peace to these four wicked
beings. They retired and dreamed of the next best means of ridding
themselves of Rosette if the chariot race failed. Orangine and Roussette
slept but little so that in the morning they were still uglier and more
unprepossessing than they had appeared the day before.

Rosette, who had a tranquil conscience and contented heart, slept all
night calmly. She had been much fatigued and did not wake till a late
hour. Indeed, on rising she found she had scarcely time to dress. The
coarse kitchen girl brought her a cup of milk and a piece of bread. This
was by order of the queen who directed that she should be treated like a
servant.

Rosette was not difficult to please. She ate the coarse bread and milk
with appetite and began to dress. The case of carved ivory had
disappeared. She put on as usual her robe of coarse cloth, her pullet's
wing, and all the rude ornaments she had brought from the farm and then
looked at herself in the glass.

She was attired in a riding habit of straw-colored satin, embroidered in
front and at the hem with sapphires and emeralds. Her hat was of white
velvet, ornamented with plumes of a thousand colors, taken from the
plumage of the rarest birds and attached by a sapphire larger than an
egg. On her neck was a chain of sapphires, at the end of which was a
watch, the face of which was opal, the back a carved sapphire and the
glass diamond. This watch was always going, was never out of order and
never required to be wound up.

Rosette heard her page at the door and followed him. On entering the
salon she perceived Prince Charmant, who was awaiting her with the most
lively impatience. He sprang forward to receive her, offered his arm and
said with eagerness:--

"Well, dear princess, what did the fairy say to you? What answer do you
give me?"

"That which my heart dictated, sweet prince. I consecrate my life to you
as you have dedicated yours to me."

"Thanks! a thousand times thanks, dear and bewitching Rosette. When may
I demand your hand of the king your father?"

"At the close of the chariot race, dear prince."

"Permit me to add to my first petition that of being married to you this
very day. I cannot bear to see you subjected to the tyranny of your
family and I wish to conduct you at once to my kingdom."

Rosette hesitated. The soft voice of the fairy whispered in her ear,
"Accept." The same voice whispered to Charmant, "Press the marriage,
prince and speak to the king without delay. Rosette's life is in danger
and during eight days from the setting of the sun this evening I cannot
watch over her."

Charmant trembled and repeated the fairy's words to Rosette, who replied
that it was a warning they must not neglect as it undoubtedly came from
the fairy Puissante.

The princess now advanced to salute the king, the queen and her sisters
but they neither looked at her nor spoke to her. She was however
immediately surrounded by a crowd of kings and princes, each one of whom
had himself proposed to ask her hand in marriage that evening but no one
had an opportunity to speak to her as Charmant never left her side a
single moment.

After the repast they went down to get into the chariots. The kings and
princes were to go on horseback and the ladies to drive the chariots.

The chariot designed for Rosette by the queen was now brought forward.
Charmant seized Rosette at the moment she was about to take the reins
and lifted her to the ground.

"You shall not enter this chariot, princess. Look at these wild
ungovernable horses."

Rosette now saw that it took four men to hold each of the horses and
that they were prancing and jumping alarmingly.

At this instant a pretty little jockey, attired in a straw-colored satin
vest, with blue ribbon knots, exclaimed in silvery tones:--

"The equipage of the Princess Rosette!"

And now a little chariot of pearls and mother-of-pearl, drawn by two
magnificent steeds with harness of straw-colored velvet ornamented with
sapphires, drew up before the princess.

Charmant scarcely knew whether to allow Rosette to mount this unknown
chariot for he still feared some cunning wickedness of the king and
queen. But the voice of the fairy sounded in his ear:--

"Allow Rosette to ascend the chariot; these horses are a present from
me. Follow them wherever they may take Rosette. The day is advancing. I
have but a few hours left in which I can be of service to Rosette and
she must be safe in your kingdom before the day closes."

Charmant assisted Rosette to ascend the chariot and sprang upon his
horse. A few moments afterwards, two chariots driven by veiled women
advanced in front of Rosette. One of them dashed her chariot with such
violence against that of Rosette, that the little chariot of
mother-of-pearl would inevitably have been crushed had it not been
constructed by fairies. The heavy and massive chariot was dashed to
pieces instead of Rosette's. The veiled woman was thrown upon the
stones, where she remained immovable whilst Rosette, who had recognized
Orangine, tried to stop her own horses. The other chariot now dashed
against that of Rosette and was crushed like the first and the veiled
woman was also dashed upon the stones, which seemed placed there to
receive her.

Rosette recognised Roussette and was about to descend from her chariot
when Charmant interfered, and said: "Listen, Rosette!"

A voice whispered, "Go, flee quickly! The king is pursuing you with a
great company to kill you both. The sun will set in a few hours. I have
barely time to rescue you from this danger so give my horses the reins;
Charmant, abandon yours."

Charmant sprang into the chariot by the side of Rosette, who was more
dead than alive. The superb steeds set off with such marvellous speed
that they made more than twenty leagues an hour. For a long time they
knew that they were pursued by the king with a numerous troop of armed
men but they could not overtake the horses of the fairy. The chariot
still flew on with lightning haste; the horses increased their speed
till at last they made a hundred leagues an hour. During six hours they
kept up this rate and then drew up at the foot of the stairs of Prince
Charmant.

The whole palace was illuminated and all the courtiers were waiting at
the entrance in their most magnificent costumes to welcome the princess
and the prince.

The prince and Rosette were amazed, not knowing how to understand this
unexpected reception. Charmant had just assisted the princess to descend
from the chariot, when they saw before them the fairy Puissante, who
said:--

"Most welcome to your kingdom. Prince Charmant, follow me; all is
prepared for your marriage. Conduct Rosette to her room that she may
change her dress, whilst I explain to you all the events of this day
which seem so incomprehensible to you. I have one hour at my disposal."

The fairy and Charmant now led Rosette to an apartment, ornamented with
the most exquisite taste, where she found her maids waiting to attend
upon her.

"I will return to seek you in a short time, my dear Rosette," said the
fairy; "my moments are counted."

She departed with Charmant and said to him:--

"The hatred of the king and queen against Rosette had become so intense
that they had blindly resolved to defy my vengeance and to get rid of
Rosette. Seeing that their cunning arrangements in the chariot race had
not succeeded after I substituted my horses for those which would
certainly have killed Rosette, they resolved to have recourse to
violence. The king employed a band of brigands, who swore to him a blind
obedience; they pursued your steps with vengeance in their hearts and as
the king knew your love for Rosette and foresaw that you would defend
her to the death, he was resolved to sacrifice you also to his hatred.
Orangine and Roussette, ignorant of this last project of the king,
attempted to kill Rosette, as you have seen, by dashing their heavy
chariots violently against the light chariot of the princess. I have
punished them as they deserved.

"Orangine and Roussette have had their faces so crushed and wounded by
the stones that they have become frightful. I have aroused them from
their state of unconsciousness, cured their wounds but left the hideous
scars to disfigure them. I have deprived them of all their rich clothing
and dressed them like peasants and I married them at once to two brutal
ostlers whom I commissioned to beat and maltreat them until their wicked
hearts are changed--and this I think will never take place.

"As to the king and queen, I have changed them into beasts of burden and
given them to wicked and cruel masters who will make them suffer for all
their brutality to Rosette. Besides this, they have all been transported
into your kingdom and they will be compelled to hear unceasingly the
praises of Rosette and her husband.

"I have but one piece of advice to give you, dear prince; hide from
Rosette the punishment I have inflicted upon her parents and sisters.
She is so good and tender-hearted that her happiness would be affected
by it, but I ought not and will not take pity upon wicked people whose
hearts are so vicious and unrepentant."

Charmant thanked the fairy eagerly and promised silence. They now
returned to Rosette, who was clothed in her wedding-robe, prepared by
the fairy Puissante.

It was a tissue of dazzling golden gauze, embroidered with garlands of
flowers and birds, in stones of all colors, of admirable beauty; the
jewels which formed the birds were so disposed as to produce, at every
motion of Rosette, a warbling more melodious than the sweetest music.
Upon her head was a crown of flowers made of gems still more beautiful
and rare than those on her robe. Her neck and arms were covered with
carbuncles more brilliant than the sun.

Charmant was completely dazzled by his bride's beauty but the fairy
recalled him from his ecstasy by saying:--

"Quick! quick! onward! I have but half an hour, after which I must give
myself up to the queen of the fairies and lose my power for eight days.
We are all subject to this law and nothing can free us from it."

Charmant presented his hand to Rosette and the fairy preceded them. They
walked towards the chapel which was brilliantly illuminated and here
Charmant and Rosette received the nuptial benediction. On returning to
the parlor, they perceived that the fairy had disappeared, but, as they
were sure of again seeing her in eight days her absence caused them no
anxiety. Charmant presented the new queen to his court. Everybody found
her as charming and good as the prince and they felt disposed to love
her as they loved him.

With a most amiable and thoughtful attention, the fairy had transported
the farm, upon which Rosette had been so happy, and all its occupants
into Charmant's kingdom. This farm was placed at the end of the park,
so that Rosette could walk there every day and see her good nurse. The
fairy had also brought into the palace all those cases which contained
the rich dresses in which Rosette had been so triumphant at the
festivals.

[Illustration: _The fairy must give herself up to the queen and lose her
power for eight days_]

Rosette and Charmant were very happy and loved each other tenderly
always. Rosette never knew the terrible punishment of her father, mother
and sisters. When she asked Charmant the fate of her sisters, he told
her that their faces were much disfigured by their fall amongst the
stones but they were well and married and the good fairy expressly
forbade Rosette to think of them. She spoke of them no more.

As to Orangine and Roussette, the more unhappy they were, the more cruel
and wicked their hearts became, so the fairy allowed them to remain
always ugly and in the most degraded ranks of life.

The king and queen, changed into beasts of burden, found their only
consolation in biting and kicking everything that came within their
reach. They were obliged to carry their masters to festivals given in
honor of Rosette's marriage and they were mad with rage when they heard
the praises lavished upon the young couple and in seeing Rosette pass
by, beautiful, radiant and adored by Charmant.

The fairy had resolved that they should not return to their original
forms till their hearts were changed. It is said that six thousand years
have passed, and they are still beasts of burden.



The Little Grey Mouse



THE LITTLE GREY MOUSE


THE LITTLE HOUSE


There was once a man named Prudent, who was a widower and he lived alone
with his little daughter. His wife had died a few days after the birth
of this little girl, who was named Rosalie.

Rosalie's father had a large fortune. He lived in a great house, which
belonged to him. This house was surrounded by a large garden in which
Rosalie walked whenever she pleased to do so.

She had been trained with great tenderness and gentleness but her father
had accustomed her to the most unquestioning obedience. He forbade her
positively to ask him any useless questions or to insist upon knowing
anything he did not wish to tell her. In this way, by unceasing care
and watchfulness, he had almost succeeded in curing one of Rosalie's
great faults, a fault indeed unfortunately too common--curiosity.

[Illustration: _Rosalie never left the park, which was surrounded by
high walls_]

Rosalie never left the park, which was surrounded by high walls. She
never saw any one but her father. They had no domestic in the house;
everything seemed to be done of itself. She always had what she
wanted--clothing, books, work, and playthings. Her father educated her
himself and although she was nearly fifteen years old, she was never
weary and never thought that she might live otherwise and might see more
of the world.

There was a little house at the end of the park without windows and with
but one door, which was always locked. Rosalie's father entered this
house every day and always carried the key about his person. Rosalie
thought it was only a little hut in which the garden-tools were kept.
She never thought of speaking about it but one day, when she was seeking
a watering-pot for her flowers, she said to him:--

"Father, please give me the key of the little house in the garden."

"What do you want with this key, Rosalie?"

"I want a watering-pot and I think I could find one in that little
house."

"No, Rosalie, there is no watering-pot there."

Prudent's voice trembled so in pronouncing these words that Rosalie
looked up with surprise, and saw that his face was pale and his forehead
bathed in perspiration.

"What is the matter, father?" said she, alarmed.

"Nothing, daughter, nothing."

"It was my asking for the key which agitated you so violently, father.
What does this little house contain which frightens you so much?"

"Rosalie, Rosalie! you do not know what you are saying. Go and look for
your watering-pot in the green-house."

"But, father, what is there in the little garden-house?"

"Nothing that can interest you, Rosalie."

"But why do you go there every day without permitting me to go with
you?"

"Rosalie, you know that I do not like to be questioned and that
curiosity is the greatest defect in your character."

Rosalie said no more but she remained very thoughtful. This little
house, of which she had never before thought, was now constantly in her
mind.

"What can be concealed there?" she said to herself. "How pale my father
turned when I asked his permission to enter! I am sure he thought I
should be in some sort of danger. But why does he go there himself every
day? It is no doubt to carry food to some ferocious beast confined
there. But if it was some wild animal, would I not hear it roar or howl
or shake the house? No, I have never heard any sound from this cabin. It
cannot then be a beast. Besides, if it was a ferocious beast, it would
devour my father when he entered alone. Perhaps, however, it is chained.
But if it is indeed chained, then there would be no danger for me. What
can it be? A prisoner? My father is good, he would not deprive any
unfortunate innocent of light and liberty. Well, I absolutely must
discover this mystery. How shall I manage it? If I could only secretly
get the key from my father for a half hour! Perhaps some day he will
forget it."

Rosalie was aroused from this chain of reflection by her father, who
called to her with a strangely agitated voice.

"Here, father--I am coming."

She entered the house and looked steadily at her father. His pale, sad
countenance indicated great agitation.

More than ever curious, she resolved to feign gaiety and indifference in
order to allay her father's suspicions and make him feel secure. In this
way she thought she might perhaps obtain possession of the key at some
future time. He might not always think of it if she herself seemed to
have forgotten it.

They seated themselves at the table. Prudent ate but little and was sad
and silent, in spite of his efforts to appear gay. Rosalie, however,
seemed so thoughtless and bright that her father at last recovered his
accustomed good spirits.

Rosalie would be fifteen years old in three weeks. Her father had
promised an agreeable surprise for this event. A few days passed
peacefully away. There remained but fifteen days before her birth-day.
One morning Prudent said to Rosalie:--

"My dear child, I am compelled to be absent for one hour. I must go out
to arrange something for your birth-day. Wait for me in the house, my
dear. Do not yield yourself up to idle curiosity. In fifteen days you
will know all that you desire to know, for I read your thoughts and I
know what occupies your mind. Adieu, my daughter, beware of curiosity!"

Prudent embraced his daughter tenderly and withdrew, leaving her with
great reluctance.

As soon as he was out of sight, Rosalie ran to her father's room and
what was her joy to see the key forgotten upon the table! She seized it
and ran quickly to the end of the park. Arrived at the little house, she
remembered the words of her father, "Beware of curiosity!" She
hesitated, and was upon the point of returning the key without having
looked at the house, when she thought she heard a light groan. She put
her ear against the door and heard a very little voice singing softly:--

    "A lonely prisoner I pine,
    No hope of freedom now is mine;
    I soon must draw my latest breath,
    And in this dungeon meet my death."

"No doubt," said Rosalie to herself, "this is some unfortunate creature
whom my father holds captive."

Tapping softly upon the door, she said: "Who are you, and what can I do
for you?"

"Open the door, Rosalie! I pray you open the door!"

"But why are you a prisoner? Have you not committed some crime?"

"Alas! no, Rosalie. An enchanter keeps me here a prisoner. Save me and
I will prove my gratitude by telling you truly who I am."

Rosalie no longer hesitated: her curiosity was stronger than her
obedience. She put the key in the lock, but her hand trembled so that
she could not open it. She was about to give up the effort, when the
little voice continued:--

"Rosalie, that which I have to tell you will teach you many things which
will interest you. Your father is not what he appears to be."

At these words Rosalie made a last effort, the key turned and the door
opened.



THE FAIRY DETESTABLE


Rosalie looked in eagerly. The little house was dark; she could see
nothing but she heard the little voice:--

"Thanks, Rosalie, it is to you that I owe my deliverance."

The voice seemed to come from the earth. She looked, and saw in a corner
two brilliant little eyes gazing at her maliciously.

"My cunning trick has succeeded, Rosalie, and betrayed you into yielding
to your curiosity. If I had not spoken and sung you would have returned
with the key and I should have been lost. Now that you have set me at
liberty, you and your father are both in my power."

Rosalie did not yet fully comprehend the extent of the misfortune she
had brought about by her disobedience. She knew, however, that it was a
dangerous foe which her father had held captive and she wished to retire
and close the door.

"Stop, Rosalie! It is no longer in your power to keep me in this odious
prison from which I never could have escaped if you had waited until
your fifteenth birth-day."

At this moment the little house disappeared entirely, and Rosalie saw
with the greatest consternation that the key alone remained in her hand.
She now saw at her side a small gray mouse who gazed at her with its
sparkling little eyes and began to laugh in a thin, discordant voice.

"Ha! ha! ha! What a frightened air you have, Rosalie! In truth you amuse
me very much. But it is lucky for me that you had so much curiosity. It
has been nearly fifteen years since I was shut up in this frightful
prison, having no power to injure your father, whom I hate, or to bring
any evil upon you, whom I detest because you are his daughter."

"Who are you, then, wicked mouse?"

"I am the mortal enemy of your family, my pet. I call myself the fairy
Detestable and the name suits me, I assure you. All the world hates me
and I hate all the world. I shall follow you now for the rest of your
life, wherever you go."

"Go away at once, miserable creature! A mouse is not to be feared and I
will find a way to get rid of you."

"We shall see, my pet! I shall remain at your side wherever you go!"

[Illustration: _The broom was on fire at once, blazed up and burned her
hands_]

Rosalie now ran rapidly towards the house; every time she turned she saw
the mouse galloping after her, and laughing with a mocking air. Arrived
at the house, she tried to crush the mouse in the door, but it remained
open in spite of every effort she could make and the mouse remained
quietly upon the door-sill.

"Wait awhile, wicked monster!" cried Rosalie, beside herself with rage
and terror.

She seized a broom and tried to dash it violently against the mouse but
the broom was on fire at once, blazed up and burned her hands; she threw
it quickly to the floor and pushed it into the chimney with her foot,
lest it should set fire to the house. Then seizing a kettle which was
boiling on the fire, she emptied it upon the mouse but the boiling water
was changed into good fresh milk and the mouse commenced drinking it,
saying:--

"How exceedingly amiable you are, Rosalie! Not content with having
released me from captivity, you give me an excellent breakfast."

Poor Rosalie now began to weep bitterly. She was utterly at a loss what
to do, when she heard her father entering.

"My father!" cried she, "my father! Oh! cruel mouse, I beseech you in
pity to go away that my father may not see you!"

"No, I shall not go but I will hide myself behind your heels until your
father knows of your disobedience."

The mouse had scarcely concealed herself behind Rosalie, when Prudent
entered. He looked at Rosalie, whose paleness and embarrassed air
betrayed her fear.

"Rosalie," said Prudent, with a trembling voice, "I forgot the key of
the little garden-house; have you found it?"

"Here it is, father," said Rosalie, presenting it to him, and coloring
deeply.

"How did this cream come to be upset on the floor?"

"Father, it was the cat."

"The cat? Impossible. The cat brought a vessel of milk to the middle of
the room and upset it there?"

"No! no! father, it was I that did it; in carrying it, I accidentally
overturned it."

Rosalie spoke in a low voice, and dared not look at her father.

"Take the broom, Rosalie, and sweep up this cream."

"There is no broom, father."

"No broom! there was one when I left the house."

"I burned it, father, accidentally, by---- by----"

She paused--her father looked fixedly at her, threw a searching unquiet
glance about the room, sighed and turned his steps slowly towards the
little house in the garden.

Rosalie fell sobbing bitterly upon a chair; the mouse did not stir. A
few moments afterwards, Prudent entered hastily, his countenance marked
with horror.

"Rosalie! unhappy child! what have you done? You have yielded to your
fatal curiosity and released our most cruel enemy from prison."

"Pardon me, father! oh pardon me!" she cried, throwing herself at his
feet; "I was ignorant of the evil I did."

"Misfortune is always the result of disobedience, Rosalie; disobedient
children think they are only committing a small fault, when they are
doing the greatest injury to themselves and others."

"But, father, who and what then is this mouse, who causes you this
terrible fear? How, if it had so much power, could you keep it so long a
prisoner and why can you not put it in prison again?"

"This mouse, my unhappy child, is a wicked fairy, but very powerful. For
myself, I am the genius Prudent and since you have given liberty to my
enemy, I can now reveal to you that which I should have concealed until
you were fifteen years old.

"I am, then, as I said to you, the genius Prudent; your dear mother was
a simple mortal but her virtues and her graces touched the queen of the
fairies and also the king of the genii and they permitted me to wed her.
I gave a splendid festival on my marriage-day. Unfortunately I forgot to
invoke the fairy Detestable, who was already irritated against me for
having married a princess, after having refused one of her daughters.
She was so exasperated against me that she swore an implacable hatred
against me, my wife and my children. I was not terrified at her threats,
as I myself had a power almost equal to her own and I was much beloved
by the queen of the fairies. Many times by the power of my enchantments,
I triumphed over the malicious hatred of the fairy Detestable.

"A few hours after your birth your mother was thrown into the most
violent convulsions which I could not calm. I left her for a few moments
to invoke the aid of the queen of the fairies. When I returned your
mother was dead.

"The wicked fairy Detestable had profited by my absence and caused her
death. She was about to endow you with all the passions and vices of
this evil world, when my unexpected return happily paralyzed her
efforts. I interrupted her at the moment when she had endowed you with a
curiosity sufficient to make you wretched and to subject you entirely to
her power at fifteen years of age. By my power, united to that of the
queen of the fairies, I counter-balanced this fatal influence and we
decided that you should not fall under her power at fifteen years of
age, unless you yielded three times under the gravest circumstances to
your idle curiosity.

"At the same time the queen of the fairies, to punish the fairy
Detestable, changed her into a mouse, shut her up in the little garden
house, and declared that she should never leave it unless you
voluntarily opened the door. Also, that she should never resume her
original form of fairy unless you yielded three times to your criminal
curiosity before you were fifteen years of age. Lastly, that if you
resisted once the fatal passion you should be for ever released, as well
as myself, from the power of the fairy Detestable.

"With great difficulty I obtained all these favors and only by promising
that I would share your fate and become, like yourself, the slave of
the fairy Detestable, if you weakly allowed yourself to yield three
times to your curiosity. I promised solemnly to educate you in such a
manner as to destroy this terrible passion, calculated to cause so many
sorrows.

"For all these reasons I have confined myself and you, Rosalie, in this
enclosure. I have permitted you to see no one, not even a domestic. I
procured by my power all that your heart desired and I have been feeling
quite satisfied in having succeeded so well with you. In three weeks you
would have been fifteen, and for ever delivered from the odious yoke of
the fairy Detestable.

"I was alarmed when you asked for the key of the little house, of which
you had never before seemed to think. I could not conceal the painful
impression which this demand made upon me. My agitation excited your
curiosity. In spite of your gaiety and assumed thoughtlessness, I
penetrated your thoughts, and you may judge of my grief when the queen
of the fairies ordered me to make the temptation possible and the
resistance meritorious by leaving the key at least once in your reach. I
was thus compelled to leave it, that fatal key, and thus facilitate by
my absence my own and your destruction.

"Imagine, Rosalie, what I suffered during the hour of my absence,
leaving you alone with this temptation before your eyes and when I saw
your embarrassment and blushes on my return, indicating to me too well
that you had allowed your curiosity to master you.

"I was commanded to conceal everything from you; to tell you nothing of
your birth or of the dangers which surround you, until your fifteenth
birthday. If I had disobeyed, you would at once have fallen into the
power of the fairy Detestable.

"And yet, Rosalie, all is not lost. You can yet repair your fault by
resisting for fifteen days this terrible passion. At fifteen years of
age you were to have been united to a charming prince, who is related to
us, the prince Gracious. This union is yet possible.

"Ah, Rosalie! my still dear child, take pity on yourself, if you have no
mercy for me and resist your curiosity."

Rosalie was on her knees before her father, her face concealed in her
hands and weeping bitterly. At these words she took courage, embraced
him tenderly and said to him:--

"Oh, father! I promise you solemnly that I will atone for this fault. Do
not leave me, dear father! With you by me, I shall be inspired with a
courage which would otherwise fail me. I dare not be deprived of your
wise paternal counsel."

"Alas! Rosalie! it is no longer in my power to remain with you for I am
now under the dominion of my enemy. Most certainly she will not allow me
to stay by your side and warn you against the snares and temptations
which she will spread at your feet. I am astonished at not having seen
my cruel foe before this time. The view of my affliction and despair
would have for her hard heart an irresistible charm."

"I have been near you all the time, at your daughter's feet," said the
little gray mouse, in a sharp voice, stepping out and showing herself to
the unfortunate genius. "I have been highly entertained at the recital
of all that I have already made you suffer, and the pleasure I felt in
hearing you give this account to your daughter induced me to conceal
myself till this moment. Now say adieu to your dear but curious Rosalie;
she must accompany me, and I forbid you to follow her."

Saying these words, she seized the hem of Rosalie's dress with her sharp
little teeth and tried to draw her away. Rosalie uttered a piercing cry
and clung convulsively to her father but an irresistible force bore her
off. The unfortunate genius seized a stick and raised it to strike the
mouse but before he had time to inflict the blow the mouse placed one of
her little paws on the genius's foot and he remained as immovable as a
statue. Rosalie embraced her father's knees and implored the mouse to
take pity upon her but the little wretch gave one of her sharp,
diabolical laughs and said:--

"Come, come, my pretty! Pity it is not here that you will find the
temptations to yield twice to your irresistible fault! We will travel
all over the world together and I will show you many countries in
fifteen days."

The mouse pulled Rosalie without ceasing. Her arms were still clasped
around her father, striving to resist the overpowering force of her
enemy. The mouse uttered a discordant little cry and suddenly the house
was in flames. Rosalie had sufficient presence of mind to reflect that
if she allowed herself to be burned there would be no means left of
saving her father, who must then remain eternally under the power of
Detestable. Whereas, if she preserved her own life there remained always
some chance of rescuing him.

"Adieu, adieu, dear father!" she cried; "we will meet again in fifteen
days. After having given you over to your enemy, your Rosalie will yet
save you."

She then tore herself away, in order not to be devoured by the flames.
She ran on rapidly for some time without knowing where she was going.
She walked several hours but at last, exhausted with fatigue and half
dead with hunger, she resolved to approach a kind-looking woman who was
seated at her door.

"Madam," said she, "will you give me a place to sleep? I am dying with
hunger and fatigue. Will you not be so kind as to allow me to enter and
pass the night with you?"

"How is it that so beautiful a girl as yourself is found upon the
highways and what ugly animal is that with the expression of a demon
which accompanies you."

Rosalie turned round and saw the little gray mouse smiling upon her
mockingly. She tried to chase it away but the mouse obstinately refused
to move. The good woman, seeing this contest, shook her head and said:--

"Go on your ways, my pretty one. The Evil One and his followers cannot
lodge with me."

Weeping bitterly, Rosalie continued her journey, and wherever she
presented herself they refused to receive her and the mouse, who never
quitted her side. She entered a forest where happily she found a brook
at which she quenched her thirst. She found also fruits and nuts in
abundance. She drank, ate and seated herself near a tree, thinking with
agony of her father and wondering what would become of him during the
fifteen days.

While Rosalie was thus musing she kept her eyes closed so as not to see
the wicked little gray mouse. Her fatigue, and the silence and darkness
around her, brought on sleep and she slept a long time profoundly.



THE PRINCE GRACIOUS


While Rosalie was thus quietly sleeping, the prince Gracious was engaged
in a hunt through the forest by torch-light. The fawn, pursued fiercely
by the dogs, came trembling with terror to crouch down near the brook by
which Rosalie was sleeping. The dogs and gamekeepers sprang forward
after the fawn. Suddenly the dogs ceased barking and grouped themselves
silently around Rosalie. The prince dismounted from his horse to set the
dogs again upon the trail of the deer but what was his surprise to see a
lovely young girl asleep in this lonely forest! He looked carefully
around but saw no one else. She was indeed alone--abandoned. On
examining her more closely, he saw traces of tears upon her cheeks and
indeed they were still escaping slowly from her closed eyelids.

Rosalie was simply clothed but the richness of her silk dress denoted
wealth. Her fine white hands, her rosy nails, her beautiful chestnut
locks, carefully and tastefully arranged with a gold comb, her elegant
boots and necklace of pure pearls indicated elevated rank.

Rosalie did not awake, notwithstanding the stamping of the horses, the
baying of the dogs and the noisy tumult made by a crowd of sportsmen.

The prince was stupefied and stood gazing steadily at Rosalie. No one
present recognized her. Anxious and disquieted by this profound sleep,
Prince Gracious took her hand softly. Rosalie still slept. The prince
pressed her hand lightly in his but even this did not awaken her.

Turning to his officers, he said: "I cannot thus abandon this
unfortunate child, who has perhaps been led astray by some design, the
victim of some cruel wickedness."

"But how can she be removed while she is asleep, prince," said Hubert,
his principal gamekeeper, "can we not make a litter of branches and thus
remove her to some hostel in the neighborhood while your highness
continues the chase?"

"Your idea is good, Hubert. Make the litter and we will immediately
place her upon it, only you will not carry her to a hostel, but to my
palace. This young maiden is assuredly of high birth, and she is
beautiful as an angel. I will watch over her myself, so that she may
receive the care and attention to which she is entitled."

Hubert, with the assistance of his men, soon arranged the litter upon
which Prince Gracious spread his mantle; then approaching Rosalie, who
was still sleeping softly, he raised her gently in his arms and laid her
upon the cloak. At this moment Rosalie seemed to be dreaming. She smiled
and murmured, in low tones:--

"My father! my father! saved for ever! The Queen of the Fairies! The
Prince Gracious! I see him; he is charming!"

The prince, surprised to hear his name pronounced, did not doubt that
Rosalie was a princess under some cruel enchantment. He commanded his
gamekeepers to walk very softly so as not to wake her and he walked by
the side of the litter.

On arriving at the palace, Prince Gracious ordered that the queen's
apartment should be prepared for Rosalie. He suffered no one to touch
her but carried her himself to her chamber and laid her gently upon the
bed, ordering the women who were to wait upon and watch over her to
apprise him as soon as she awaked. Then, casting a farewell look upon
the sad, sweet face of the sleeper, he strode from the room.

Rosalie slept tranquilly until morning. The sun was shining brightly
when she awoke. She looked about her with great surprise. The wicked
mouse was not near her to terrify her--it had happily disappeared.

"Am I delivered from this wicked fairy Detestable?" said she, joyfully.
"Am I in the hands of a fairy more powerful than herself?"

Rosalie now stepped to the window and saw many armed men and many
officers, dressed in brilliant uniforms. More and more surprised, she
was about to call one of the men, whom she believed to be either genii
or enchanters, when she heard footsteps approaching. She turned and saw
the prince Gracious, clothed in an elegant and rich hunting-dress,
standing before her and regarding her with admiration. Rosalie
immediately recognized the prince of her dream and cried out
involuntarily:--

"The prince Gracious!"

"You know me then?" said the prince, in amazement. "How, if you have
ever known me, could I have forgotten your name and features?"

"I have only seen you in my dreams, prince," said Rosalie, blushing. "As
to my name, you could not possibly know it, since I myself did not know
my father's name until yesterday."

"And what is the name, may I ask, which has been concealed from you so
long?"

Rosalie then told him all that she had heard from her father. She
frankly confessed her culpable curiosity and its terrible consequences.

"Judge of my grief, prince, when I was compelled to leave my father in
order to escape from the flames which the wicked fairy had lighted;
when, rejected everywhere because of the wicked mouse, I found myself
exposed to death from hunger and thirst! Soon, however, a heavy sleep
took possession of me, during which I had many strange dreams. I do not
know how I came here or whether it is in your palace that I find
myself."

Gracious then related to Rosalie how he had found her asleep in the
forest and the words which he had heard her utter in her dream. He then
added:--

"There is one thing your father did not tell you, Rosalie; that is, that
the queen of the fairies, who is our relation, had decided that we
should be married when you were fifteen years of age. It was no doubt
the queen of the fairies who inspired me with the desire to go hunting
by torchlight, in order that I might find you in the forest where you
had wandered. Since you will be fifteen in a few days, Rosalie, deign to
consider my palace as your own and command here in advance, as my queen.
Your father will soon be restored to you and we will celebrate our happy
marriage."

Rosalie thanked her young and handsome cousin heartily and then returned
to her chamber, where she found her maids awaiting her with a wonderful
selection of rich and splendid robes and head-dresses. Rosalie, who had
never given much attention to her toilet, took the first dress that was
presented to her. It was of rose-colored gauze, ornamented with fine
lace with a head-dress of lace and moss rosebuds. Her beautiful chestnut
hair was arranged in bands, forming a crown. When her toilet was
completed, the prince came to conduct her to breakfast.

Rosalie ate like a person who had not dined the day before. After the
repast, the prince led her to the garden and conducted her to the
green-houses, which were very magnificent. At the end of one of the
hot-houses there was a little rotunda, ornamented with choice flowers;
in the centre of this rotunda there was a large case which seemed to
contain a tree but a thick heavy cloth was thrown over it and tightly
sewed together. Through the cloth however could be seen a number of
points of extraordinary brilliancy.



THE TREE IN THE ROTUNDA


Rosalie admired all the flowers very much but she waited with some
impatience for the prince to remove the cloth which enveloped this
mysterious tree. He left the green-house, however, without having spoken
of it.

"What then, my prince, is this tree which is so carefully concealed?"

"It is the wedding present which I destined for you but you cannot see
it until your fifteenth birthday," said the prince, gayly.

"But what is it that shines so brilliantly under the cloth?" said she,
importunately.

"You will know all in a few days, Rosalie, and I flatter myself that you
will not find my present a common affair."

"And can I not see it before my birthday?"

"No, Rosalie; the queen of the fairies has forbidden me, under heavy
penalties, to show it to you until after you become my wife. I do hope
that you love me enough to control your curiosity till that time."

These last words made Rosalie tremble, for they recalled to her the
little gray mouse and the misfortunes which menaced her as well as her
father, if she allowed herself to fall under the temptation, which,
without doubt, her enemy the fairy Detestable had placed before her. She
spoke no more of the mysterious case, and continued her walk with the
prince. The day passed most agreeably. The prince presented her to the
ladies of his court and commanded them to honor and respect in her the
princess Rosalie, whom the queen of the fairies had selected as his
bride. Rosalie was very amiable to every one and they all rejoiced in
the idea of having so charming and lovely a queen.

The following days were passed in every species of festivity. The prince
and Rosalie both saw with joyous hearts the approach of the birth-day
which was to be also that of their marriage:--the prince, because he
tenderly loved his cousin, and Rosalie because she loved the prince,
because she desired strongly to see her father again, and also because
she hoped to see what the case in the rotunda contained. She thought of
this incessantly. She dreamed of it during the night and whenever she
was alone she could with difficulty restrain herself from rushing to
the green-house to try to discover the secret.

Finally, the last day of anticipation and anxiety arrived. In the
morning Rosalie would be fifteen. The prince was much occupied with the
preparations for his marriage; it was to be a very grand affair. All the
good fairies of his acquaintance were to be present as well as the queen
of the fairies. Rosalie found herself alone in the morning and she
resolved to take a walk. While musing upon the happiness of the morrow,
she involuntarily approached the green-house. She entered, smiling
pensively, and found herself face to face with the cloth which covered
the treasure.

"To-morrow," said she, "I shall at last know what this thick cloth
conceals from me. If I wished, indeed I might see it to-day, for I
plainly perceive some little openings in which I might insert my fingers
and by enlarging just a little----. In fact, who would ever know it? I
would sew the cloth after having taken a glimpse. Since to-morrow is so
near, when I am to see all, I may as well take a glance to-day."

Rosalie looked about her and saw no one; and, in her extreme desire to
gratify her curiosity, she forgot the goodness of the prince and the
dangers which menaced them all if she yielded to this temptation.

She passed her fingers through the little apertures and strained them
lightly. The cloth was rent from the top to the bottom with a noise
like thunder and Rosalie saw before her eyes a tree of marvellous
beauty, with a coral trunk and leaves of emeralds. The seeming fruits
which covered the tree were of precious stones of all colors--diamonds,
sapphires, pearls, rubies, opals, topazes, all as large as the fruits
they were intended to represent and of such brilliancy that Rosalie was
completely dazzled by them. But scarcely had she seen this rare and
unparalleled tree, when a noise louder than the first drew her from her
ecstasy. She felt herself lifted up and transported to a vast plain,
from which she saw the palace of the king falling in ruins and heard the
most frightful cries of terror and suffering issue from its walls. Soon
Rosalie saw the prince himself creep from the ruins bleeding and his
clothing almost torn from him. He advanced towards her and said sadly:--

"Rosalie! ungrateful Rosalie! see what you have done to me, not only to
me, but to my whole court. After what you have done, I do not doubt that
you will yield a third time to your curiosity; that you will complete my
misfortunes, those of your unhappy father and your own. Adieu, Rosalie,
adieu! May sincere repentance atone for your ingratitude towards an
unhappy prince who loved you and only sought to make you happy!"

Saying these words, he withdrew slowly.

Rosalie threw herself upon her knees, bathed in tears and called him
tenderly but he disappeared without ever turning to contemplate her
despair. Rosalie was about to faint away, when she heard the little
discordant laugh of the gray mouse and saw it before her.

"Your thanks are due to me, my dear Rosalie, for having assisted you so
well. It was I who sent you those bewitching dreams of the mysterious
tree during the night. It was I who nibbled the cloth, to help you in
your wish to look in. Without this last artifice of mine, I believe I
should have lost you, as well as your father and your prince Gracious.
One more slip, my pet, and you will be my slave for ever!"

The cruel mouse, in her malicious joy, began to dance around Rosalie;
her words, wicked as they were, did not excite the anger of the guilty
girl.

"This is all my fault," said she; "had it not been for my fatal
curiosity and my base ingratitude, the gray mouse would not have
succeeded in making me yield so readily to temptation. I must atone for
all this by my sorrow, by my patience and by the firmness with which I
will resist the third proof to which I am subjected, no matter how
difficult it may be. Besides, I have but a few hours to wait and my dear
prince has told me that his happiness and that of my dearly loved father
and my own, depends upon myself."

Before her lay the smouldering ruins of the palace of the Prince
Gracious. So complete had been its destruction that a cloud of dust and
smoke hung over it, and hardly one stone remained upon another. The
cries of those in pain were borne to her ears and added to her
bitterness of feeling.

Rosalie continued to lie prone on the ground. The gray mouse employed
every possible means to induce her to move from the spot. Rosalie, the
poor, unhappy and guilty Rosalie, persisted in remaining in view of the
ruin she had caused.



THE CASKET


Thus passed the entire day. Rosalie suffered cruelly with thirst.

"Ought I not suffer even more than I do?" she said to herself, "in order
to punish me for all I have made my father and my cousin endure? I will
await in this terrible spot the dawning of my fifteenth birthday."

The night was falling when an old woman who was passing by, approached
and said:--

"My beautiful child, will you oblige me by taking care of this casket,
which is very heavy to carry, while I go a short distance to see one of
my relations?"

"Willingly, madam," replied Rosalie, who was very obliging. The old
woman placed the casket in her hands, saying:--

"Many thanks, my beautiful child! I shall not be absent long. But I
entreat you not to look in this casket, for it contains things--things
such as you have never seen--and as you will never have an opportunity
to see again. Do not handle it rudely, for it is of very fragile ware
and would be very easily broken and then you would see what it contains
and no one ought to see what is there concealed."

The old woman went off after saying this. Rosalie placed the casket near
her and reflected on all the events which had just passed. It was now
night and the old woman did not return. Rosalie now threw her eyes on
the casket and saw with surprise that it illuminated the ground all
around her.

"What can there be in this casket which is so brilliant?" said she.

She turned it round and round and regarded it from every side but
nothing could explain this extraordinary light and she placed it
carefully upon the ground, saying:--

"Of what importance is it to me what this casket contains? It is not
mine but belongs to the old woman who confided it to me. I will not
think of it again for fear I may be tempted to open it."

In fact, she no longer looked at it and endeavored not to think of it;
she now closed her eyes, resolved to wait patiently till the dawn.

"In the morning I shall be fifteen years of age. I shall see my father
and Gracious and will have nothing more to fear from the wicked fairy."

"Rosalie! Rosalie!" said suddenly the small voice of the little mouse,
"I am near you once more. I am no longer your enemy and to prove that I
am not, if you wish it, I will show you what this casket contains."

Rosalie did not reply.

"Rosalie, do you not hear what I propose? I am your friend, believe me."

No reply.

Then the little gray mouse, having no time to lose, sprang upon the
casket and began to gnaw the lid.

"Monster!" cried Rosalie, seizing the casket and pressing it against her
bosom, "if you touch this casket again I will wring your neck."

The mouse cast a diabolical glance upon Rosalie but it dared not brave
her anger. While it was meditating some other means of exciting the
curiosity of Rosalie, a clock struck twelve. At the same moment the
mouse uttered a cry of rage and disappointment and said to Rosalie:--

"Rosalie, the hour of your birth has just sounded. You are now fifteen;
you have nothing more to fear from me. You are now beyond my power and
my temptations as are also your odious father and hated prince. As to
myself, I am compelled to keep this ignoble form of a mouse until I can
tempt some young girl beautiful and well born as yourself to fall into
my snares. Adieu, Rosalie! you can now open the casket."

Saying these words, the mouse disappeared.

Rosalie, wisely distrusting these words of her enemy, would not follow
her last counsel, and resolved to guard the casket carefully till the
dawn. Scarcely had she taken this resolution, when an owl, which was
flying above her head, let a stone fall upon the casket, which broke
into a thousand pieces. Rosalie uttered a cry of terror and at the same
moment she saw before her the queen of the fairies, who said:--

"Come Rosalie, you have finally triumphed over the cruel enemy of your
family. I will now restore you to your father but first you must eat and
drink, as you are much exhausted."

The fairy now presented her with a rare fruit, of which a single
mouthful satisfied both hunger and thirst. Then a splendid chariot,
drawn by two dragons, drew up before the fairy. She entered and
commanded Rosalie to do the same. Rosalie, as soon as she recovered from
her surprise, thanked the queen of the fairies with all her heart for
her protection and asked if she was not to see her father and the prince
Gracious.

"Your father awaits you in the palace of the prince."

"But, madam, I thought that the palace of the prince was destroyed and
he himself wounded sadly?"

"That, Rosalie, was only an illusion to fill you with horror and remorse
at the result of your curiosity and to prevent you from falling before
the third temptation. You will soon see the palace of the prince just as
it was before you tore the cloth which covered the precious tree he
destined for you."

As the fairy said this the chariot drew up before the palace steps.
Rosalie's father and the prince were awaiting her with all the court.
Rosalie first threw herself in her father's arms, then in those of the
prince, who seemed to have no remembrance of the fault she had committed
the day before. All was ready for the marriage ceremony which was to be
celebrated immediately. All the good fairies assisted at this festival
which lasted several days.

Rosalie's father lived with his child and she was completely cured of
her curiosity. She was tenderly loved by Prince Gracious whom she loved
fondly all her life. They had beautiful children, for whom they chose
powerful fairies as godmothers in order that they might be protected
against the wicked fairies and genii.



OURSON



OURSON


THE LARK AND THE TOAD


There was once a pretty woman named Agnella, who cultivated a farm. She
lived alone with a young servant named Passerose. The farm was small but
beautiful and in fine order. She had a most charming cow, which gave a
quantity of milk, a cat to destroy the mice and an ass to carry her
fruit, butter, vegetables, eggs, and cheese to markets every Wednesday.

No one knew up to that time how Agnella and Passerose had arrived at
this unknown farm which received in the county the name of the Woodland
Farm.

One evening Passerose was busy milking the pretty white cow while
Agnella prepared the supper. At the moment she was placing some good
soup and a plate of cream upon the table, she saw an enormous toad
devouring with avidity some cherries which had been put on the ground in
a vine-leaf.

"Ugly toad!" exclaimed Agnella, "I will teach you how to eat my
cherries!" At the same moment she lifted the leaves which contained the
cherries, and gave the toad a kick which dashed it off about ten steps.
She was about to throw it from the door, when the toad uttered a sharp
whistle and raised itself upon its hind legs; its great eyes were
flashing, and its enormous mouth opening and shutting with rage, its
whole ugly body was trembling and from its quivering throat was heard a
terrible bellowing.

Agnella paused in amazement; she recoiled, indeed, to avoid the venom of
the monstrous and enraged toad. She looked around for a broom to eject
this hideous monster, when the toad advanced towards her, made with its
fore paws a gesture of authority, and said in a voice trembling with
rage:--

"You have dared to touch me with your foot! You have prevented me from
satisfying my appetite with the cherries which you had placed within my
reach! You have tried to expel me from your house! My vengeance shall
reach you and will fall upon that which you hold most dear! You shall
know and feel that the fairy Furious is not to be insulted with
impunity. You shall have a son, covered with coarse hair like a bear's
cub and----"

"Stop, sister," interrupted a small voice, sweet and flute-like, which
seemed to come from above. Agnella raised her head and saw a lark
perched on the top of the front door. "You revenge yourself too cruelly
for an injury inflicted, not upon you in your character of a fairy but
upon the ugly and disgusting form in which it has pleased you to
disguise yourself. By my power, which is superior to yours, I forbid you
to exaggerate the evil which you have already done in your blind rage
and which, alas! it is not in my power to undo. And you, poor mother,"
she continued, turning to Agnella, "do not utterly despair; there is a
possible remedy for the deformity of your child. I will accord to him
the power of changing his skin with any one whom he may, by his goodness
and service rendered, inspire with sufficient gratitude and affection to
consent to the change. He will then resume the handsome form which would
have been his if my sister, the fairy Furious, had not given you this
terrible proof of her malice and cruelty."

"Alas! madam Lark," replied Agnella, "all this goodness cannot prevent
my poor, unhappy son from being disgusting and like a wild beast. His
very playmates will shun him as a monster."

"That is true," replied the fairy Drolette; "and the more so as it is
forbidden to yourself or to Passerose to change skins with him. But I
will neither abandon you nor your son. You will name him Ourson until
the day when he can assume a name worthy of his birth and beauty. He
must then be called the prince Marvellous."

Saying these words, the fairy flew lightly through the air and
disappeared from sight.

The fairy Furious withdrew, filled with rage, walking slowly and turning
every instant to gaze at Agnella with a menacing air. As she moved
slowly along, she spat her venom from side to side and the grass, the
plants and the bushes perished along her course. This was a venom so
subtle that nothing could ever flourish on the spot again and the path
is called to this day the Road of the Fairy Furious.

When Agnella found herself alone, she began to sob. Passerose, who had
finished her work and saw the hour of supper approaching, entered the
dining-room and with great surprise saw her mistress in tears.

"Dear queen, what is the matter? Who can have caused you this great
grief? I have seen no one enter the house."

"No one has entered, my dear, except those who enter everywhere. A
wicked fairy under the form of a toad and a good fairy under the
appearance of a lark."

"And what have these fairies said to you, my queen, to make you weep so
piteously? Has not the good fairy interfered to prevent the misfortunes
which the wicked fairy wished to bring about?"

"No, my dear friend. She has somewhat lightened them but it was not in
her power to set them aside altogether."

[Illustration: _Agnella and Passerose were dashed from cloud to cloud_]

Agnella then recounted all that had taken place and that she would have
a son with a skin like a bear. At this narrative Passerose wept as
bitterly as her mistress.

"What a misfortune!" she exclaimed. "What degradation and shame, that
the heir of a great kingdom should be a bear! What will King Ferocious,
your husband, say if he should ever discover us?"

"And how will he ever find us, Passerose? You know that after our flight
we were swept away by a whirlwind and dashed from cloud to cloud for
twelve hours with such astonishing rapidity that we found ourselves more
than three thousand leagues from the kingdom of Ferocious. Besides, you
know his wickedness. You know how bitterly he hates me since I prevented
him from killing his brother Indolent and his sister Nonchalante. You
know that I fled because he wished to kill me also. I have no reason to
fear that he will pursue me for I am sure that he will wish never to see
me again."

Passerose, after having wept and sobbed some time with the Queen Aimee,
for that was her true name, now entreated her mistress to be seated at
the table.

"If we wept all night, dear queen, we could not prevent your son from
being shaggy but we will endeavor to educate him so well, to make him so
good, that he will not be a long time in finding some good and grateful
soul who will exchange a white skin for this hairy one which the evil
fairy Furious has put upon him. A beautiful present indeed! She would
have done well to reserve it for herself."

The poor queen, whom we will continue to call Agnella for fear of giving
information to King Ferocious, rose slowly, dried her eyes and succeeded
in somewhat overcoming her sadness. Little by little the gay and
cheering conversation of Passerose dissipated her forebodings. Before
the close of the evening, Passerose had convinced her that Ourson would
not remain a long time a bear; that he would soon resume a form worthy
of a noble prince. That she would herself indeed be most happy to
exchange with him, if the fairy would permit it.

Agnella and Passerose now retired to their chambers and slept
peacefully.



BIRTH AND INFANCY OF OURSON


Three months after the appearance of the toad and the cruel sentence of
the fairy Furious, Agnella gave birth to a boy whom she named Ourson, as
the fairy Drolette had commanded. Neither Agnella nor Passerose could
decide if he was ugly or handsome for he was so hairy, so covered with
long brown bristles, you could see nothing but his eyes and his mouth,
and not even these unless he opened them.

If Agnella had not been his mother and if Passerose had not loved her
like a sister, poor Ourson would have died from neglect for he was so
frightful no one would have dared to touch--he would have been taken for
a little cub and killed with pitchforks. But Agnella was his mother and
her first movement was to embrace him lovingly and, bathed in tears, to
exclaim:--

"Poor little Ourson! who can ever love you well enough to deliver you
from this horrible curse? Alas! why will not the fairy permit me to make
this exchange, which is allowed to another who may love you? No one can
ever love you as I do."

Ourson did not reply to these endearments; he slept peacefully.

Passerose wept also in sympathy with Agnella but she was not in the
habit of afflicting herself for a long time on any occasion so she dried
her eyes and said to Agnella:--

"Dear queen, I am very certain that your dear son will be clothed but a
short time with this villainous bear-skin and from this day I shall call
him Prince Marvellous."

"I beseech you not to do so," said the queen, anxiously; "you know that
the fairies love to be obeyed."

Passerose took the child, clothed it in the linen that had been prepared
for it and leaned over to embrace it but she pricked her lips against
the rough bristles of Ourson and drew back precipitately.

"It will not be I who will embrace you frequently, my boy," said she, in
a low voice; "you prick like a real hedgehog."

It was Passerose, however, to whom Agnella gave the charge of the little
Ourson. He had nothing of the bear but his skin: he was the
sweetest-tempered, the most knowing, the most affectionate child that
ever was seen. Passerose soon loved him with all her heart.

As Ourson grew up he was sometimes permitted to leave the farm. He was
in no danger for no one knew him in the country. The children always ran
away at his approach and the women repulsed him. Men avoided him--they
looked upon him as something accursed. Sometimes when Agnella went to
market she put him on her donkey and took him with her and on those days
she found more difficulty in selling her vegetables and cheese. The
mothers fled from her, fearing that Ourson would come too near them.

Agnella wept often and vainly implored the fairy Drolette. Whenever a
lark flew near her, hope was born in her breast. But the larks, alas,
were real larks, fit only to make pies and not fairies in disguise.



VIOLETTE


Ourson at eight years of age was tall and strong, with magnificent eyes
and a sweet voice; his bristles were no longer stiff but his hair was
soft as silk, and those who loved him could embrace him without being
scratched, as Passerose had been the day of his birth. Ourson loved his
mother tenderly and Passerose almost as well but he was often alone and
very sad. He saw too well the horror he inspired and he saw also that he
was unlike other children.

One day he was walking along a beautiful road which bordered on the
farm. He had walked a long time and overcome with heat and fatigue he
looked about him for some fresh and quiet spot for repose when he
thought he saw a little object, fair and rosy, a few steps from him.
Drawing near with precaution he saw a little girl asleep. She seemed to
be about three years old and she was beautiful as the Loves and Graces.
Her blonde hair partly covered her fair and dimpled shoulders while her
soft cheeks were round and fresh and dimpled and a half smile played
upon her rosy and parted lips, through which small teeth, white and even
as pearls, could be seen. Her charming head was reposing upon a lovely
rounded arm and the little hand was beautifully formed and white as
snow. The attitude of this little girl was so graceful, so enchanting,
that Ourson stood before her immovable with admiration. He watched with
as much surprise as pleasure, this child sleeping as soundly and
peacefully in the wood as if she had been at home in her own little bed.
Ourson looked at her a long time and examined her toilet which was more
rich and elegant than anything he had ever seen. Her dress was of white
silk embroidered in gold; her boots were of blue satin also embroidered
in gold; her stockings were silk and fine as a spider's web; magnificent
bracelets were sparkling upon her arms and the clasp seemed to contain
her portrait; a string of beautiful pearls encircled her throat.

A lark now commenced its song just above the lovely little girl and
awakened her from her profound slumber. She looked about her, called her
nurse but finding herself alone in the woods, began to weep bitterly.

Ourson was much affected at her tears and his embarrassment was very
great.

"If I show myself," said he to himself, "this poor little one will take
me for some wild beast of the forest. If she sees me she will be
terrified; she will take to flight and wander still further from her
home. If I leave her here, she will die of terror and hunger. What shall
I do!"

Whilst Ourson reflected thus, the little girl turned around, saw him,
uttered a cry of alarm, tried to flee and fell back in a panic.

"Do not fly from me, dear little one," said Ourson, in his sad, soft
voice; "I would not injure you for the whole world; on the contrary, I
will assist you to find your father and mother."

The child gazed at him with staring eyes and seemed much alarmed.

"Speak to me, little one," said Ourson; "I am not a bear, as you might
suppose, but a poor and most unfortunate little boy, who inspires every
one with terror and whom everybody avoids."

The sweet child's eyes became calmer and softer, her fear seemed melting
away and she looked undecided.

Ourson took one step towards her but she became greatly frightened,
uttered a sharp cry and tried again to rise and run off. Ourson paused
and began to weep bitterly.

"Unfortunate wretch that I am," he said; "I cannot even assist this poor
lost child. My appearance fills her with terror! She would rather be
lost than have help from me!"

So saying, poor Ourson covered his face with his hands and sobbing
piteously threw himself on the ground. A few moments afterwards he felt
a little hand seeking to take possession of his own. He raised his head
and saw the child standing before him, her eyes filled with tears. She
caressed and patted the hairy cheeks of poor Ourson.

"Don't cry, little cub, don't cry," said she. "Violette is no longer
afraid, she will not run away again. Violette will love poor little cub.
Won't little cub give his hand to Violette? And if you cry again,
Violette will embrace you, poor little cub."

Tears of happiness and tenderness succeeded those of despair in Ourson.
Violette, seeing that he was again weeping, approached her soft rosy
lips to Ourson's hairy cheek and gave him several kisses.

"You see, little cub, that Violette is no longer afraid. Violette kisses
you! The little cub won't eat Violette--she will follow you!"

If Ourson had followed the dictates of his heart, he would have pressed
her to his bosom and covered with kisses the good and charming child who
overcame her natural terror in order to assuage the grief and
mortification of a poor being whom she saw unfortunate and miserable.
But he feared to arouse her terrors.

"She would think that I was about to devour her," he said.

He contented himself, therefore, with clasping her hands softly, and
kissing them delicately. Violette permitted this smilingly.

"Now little cub is satisfied. Little cub will love Violette, poor
Violette, who is lost!"

Ourson understood well that her name was Violette; but he could not
comprehend how this little girl, so richly clad, was left alone in the
forest.

"Where do you live, my dear little Violette?"

"Yonder--yonder--with papa and mamma."

"What is the name of your papa?"

"He is the king and dear mamma is the queen."

Ourson was more and more surprised and asked:

"Why are you alone in this forest?"

"Violette doesn't know. Poor Violette rode on a big dog--he ran, oh! so
fast--so fast, a long time! Violette was so tired, she fell down and
slept!"

"And the dog, where is he?"

Violet turned in every direction and called softly:

"Ami! Ami!"

No dog appeared.

"Alas! Ami has gone! Poor Violette is alone--alone!"

Ourson took Violette's hand and she did not withdraw it but smiled
sweetly.

"Shall I go and seek mamma, Violette?"

"No, no! Violette cannot stay all alone in this wood. Violette will
go."

"Come, then, with me, dear little girl. I will take you to my mother."

Ourson and Violette now turned their steps towards the farm. Ourson
gathered strawberries and cherries for Violette, who would not touch
them till Ourson had eaten half. When she found that he still held his
half in his hand, she took them, and placed them herself in his mouth,
saying:

"Eat--eat, little cub. Violette will not eat unless you eat. Violette
cannot have little cub unhappy. Violette will not see you weep."

She looked at him to see if he was content and happy. Ourson was really
happy. He saw that his good and pretty little companion not only
tolerated him but was interested in him and sought to make herself
agreeable. His eyes were sparkling with joy, his voice, always soft and
sad, was now tender. After half an hour's walk, he said to her:

"Violette, you are no longer afraid of poor Ourson, are you?"

"Oh! no, no, no!" exclaimed she. "Ourson is good--Violette will not
leave him."

"You are willing, then, that I shall embrace you? you are no longer
afraid of me?"

Violette, without further reply, threw herself in his arms. Ourson
embraced her tenderly and pressed her to his heart.

"Dear Violette, I will always love you. I will never forget that you
are the only child who was ever willing to speak to me, touch me or
embrace me."

A short time after they arrived at the farm. Agnella and Passerose were
seated at the door, talking together. When they saw Ourson arrive
holding a little girl richly dressed by the hand, they were so surprised
that neither could utter a word.

"Dear mamma, here is a good and charming little girl whom I found
sleeping in the forest. She is called Violette. She is very well bred
and is not afraid of me. She even embraced me when she saw me weeping."

"And why did you weep, my poor boy?" said Agnella.

"Because the little girl was afraid of me," said Ourson, in a sad and
trembling voice, "and hurt herself when trying to run away from me."

"Violette is not afraid now," said she, interrupting him hastily.
"Violette gave her hand to poor Ourson, embraced him and fed him with
cherries and strawberries."

"But what is all this about?" said Passerose. "Why has our Ourson the
charge of this little girl? why was she alone in the wood? who is she?
Answer, Ourson, I do not understand this."

"I know nothing more than yourself, dear Passerose," said Ourson. "I saw
this little child asleep in the wood all alone. She awoke and began to
weep. Suddenly she saw me and cried out in terror. I spoke to her and
began to approach her; but she screamed again with fright. I was
sorrowful--oh! so very sorrowful! I wept bitterly."

"Hush! hush! poor Ourson," exclaimed Violette, putting her little hand
on his mouth; "Violette will certainly never make you cry again."

While saying these words Violette's voice was trembling and her sweet
eyes were full of tears.

"Good little girl!" said Agnella, embracing her; "you love our poor
Ourson, who is so unhappy!"

"Oh, yes! Violette loves Ourson--will always love Ourson!"

Agnella and Passerose asked Violette many questions about her father,
mother and country; but they could learn nothing more from her than she
had already told Ourson. Her father was a king, her mother a queen and
she did not know how she came to be alone in the forest.

Agnella did not hesitate to take under her protection this poor lost
child. She loved her already because of the affection the little one
seemed to entertain for Ourson and because of the happiness Ourson's
whole manner expressed on seeing himself loved by some one else than his
mother and Passerose.

It was now the hour for supper. Passerose laid the cloth and they all
took their seats at the table. Violette asked to be put at Ourson's
side. She was gay and laughed and talked merrily. Ourson was more happy
than he had ever been. Agnella was contented, and Passerose jumped for
joy on seeing a little playmate for her dear Ourson. In her transports
she spilled a pan of cream which was not lost, however, as a cat came
and licked it up to the last drop. After supper, Violette fell asleep in
her chair.

"Where shall we lay her?" said Agnella. "I have no bed for her."

"Give her mine, dear mamma," said Ourson; "I can sleep quite as well in
the stable."

Agnella and Passerose at first refused but Ourson insisted so much upon
being allowed to make this little sacrifice, that they at last
consented. Passerose carried Violette still sleeping in her arms,
undressed her without awaking her and laid her quietly in Ourson's bed,
near that of Agnella. Ourson went to sleep in the stable on the bundles
of hay. He slept peacefully with content in his heart.

Passerose rejoined Agnella in the parlor. She found her meditating, with
her head resting on her hand.

"Of what are you thinking, dear queen?" said she; "your eyes are sad,
your lips do not smile. I am come to show you the bracelets of the
little stranger. This medallion ought to open but I have tried in vain
to open it. Perhaps we shall find here a portrait or a name."

"Give it to me, my child. These bracelets are beautiful; they may aid
us, perhaps, in finding a resemblance which presents itself vaguely to
my remembrance and which I am trying in vain to make clear."

Agnella took the bracelets and turned them from side to side and pressed
them in every way, trying to open the medallion, but she succeeded no
better than Passerose had done.

At the moment when, weary of her vain efforts, she returned them to
Passerose, she saw in the middle of the room a woman glittering as the
sun; her face was of dazzling whiteness, her hair seemed made of threads
of gold and a crown of glittering stars adorned her brow. Her waist was
small and her person seemed transparent, it was so delicate and
luminous; her floating robe was studded with stars like those which
formed her crown. Her glance was soft yet she smiled maliciously but
still with goodness.

"Madam," said she to Agnella, "you see in me the fairy Drolette, the
protectress of your son and of the little princess whom he brought home
this morning from the forest. This princess is nearly related to you for
she is your niece--the daughter of your brother-in-law Indolent and
sister-in-law Nonchalante. Your husband succeeded after your flight in
killing Indolent and Nonchalante, who did not distrust him and who
passed all their time in sleeping, eating and lounging. Unfortunately, I
could not prevent this crime as I was absent assisting at the birth of a
prince whose parents are under my protection, and I forgot myself while
playing tricks upon a wicked old maid of honor and an old chamberlain
who was cruel and avaricious, both of them friends of my sister, the
fairy Furious. But I arrived in time to save the princess Violette, only
daughter and heiress of King Indolent and Queen Nonchalante. She was
playing in the garden while the king Ferocious was seeking her with his
poniard in his hand. I induced her to mount on the back of my dog Ami,
who was ordered to leave her in the forest and to that point I directed
the steps of the prince your son. Conceal from both of them their birth
and your own and do not allow Violette to see these bracelets, which
contain the portraits of her father and mother, nor the rich clothing
which I have replaced by other articles better suited to the quiet
existence she will lead here. I have here," said the fairy, "a casket of
precious stones. It contains the happiness of Violette but you must hide
them from all eyes and not open the casket until she shall have been
lost and found."

"I will execute your orders most faithfully, madam, but I pray you tell
me if my unhappy son must long wear his frightful covering."

"Patience! patience!" cried the fairy, "I watch over you, over Violette
and over your son. Inform Ourson of the faculty he has of exchanging his
skin with any one who loves him well enough to make this sacrifice for
his sake. Remember that no one must know the rank of Ourson or of
Violette. Passerose, on account of devotion, deserves to be the only one
initiated into this mystery and she can always be trusted. Adieu,
queen; count always upon my protection. Here is a ring, which you must
place upon your little finger. As long as you wear it there you will
want for nothing."

Waving her farewell with her hand, the fairy took the form of a lark and
flew away singing merrily.

Agnella and Passerose looked at each other. Agnella sighed, Passerose
smiled.

"Let us hide this precious casket, dear queen, and the clothing of
Violette. I am going now to see what the fairy has prepared for
Violette's dress to-morrow morning."

She ran quickly and opened the wardrobe, and found it filled with
clothing, linen and hosiery, all plain but good and comfortable. After
having looked at all, counted all and approved all and after having
assisted Agnella to undress, Passerose went to bed and was soon sound
asleep.



THE DREAM


In the morning Ourson was the first awake, aroused by the lowing of the
cow. He rubbed his eyes and looked about him and asked himself why he
was in a stable. Then he recalled the events of the day before, sprang
up from his bundle of hay and ran quickly to the fountain to wash his
face.

While he was washing, Passerose, who had like Ourson risen at a very
early hour and had come out to milk the cow, left the house-door open.
Ourson entered quietly and proceeded to the chamber of his mother, who
was still sleeping. He drew back the curtains from Violette's bed and
found her sleeping as peacefully as Agnella.

Ourson watched her for a long time and was happy to see that she smiled
in her dreams. Suddenly Violette's brow contracted and she uttered a cry
of alarm, half raised herself in the bed, and throwing her little arms
around Ourson's neck, she exclaimed:

"Ourson! good Ourson! save poor Violette! poor Violette is in the water
and a wicked toad is pulling Violette!"

She now awoke, weeping bitterly, with all the symptoms of great alarm.
She clasped Ourson tightly with her little arms: he tried in vain to
reassure and control her but she still exclaimed:

"Wicked toad! good Ourson! save Violette!"

Agnella, who had awaked at her first cry, could not yet understand
Violette's alarm but she succeeded at last in calming her and the child
told her dream.

"Violette was walking with Ourson but he did not give his hand to
Violette nor look at her. A wicked toad came and pulled Violette into
the water; she fell and called Ourson; he came and saved Violette. She
loves good Ourson," she added, in a tender voice; "will never forget
him."

Saying these words, Violette threw herself into his arms. He, no longer
fearing the effect of his bear-skin, embraced her a thousand times and
comforted and encouraged her.

Agnella had no doubt that this dream was a warning sent by the fairy
Drolette. She resolved to watch carefully over Violette and to make
known to Ourson all that she could reveal to him without disobeying the
fairy.

When she had washed and dressed Violette, she called Ourson to
breakfast. Passerose brought them a bowl of milk fresh from the cow,
some good brown bread and a pot of butter. Violette, who was hungry,
shouted for joy when she saw this good breakfast.

"Violette loves good milk, good bread, good butter, loves everything
here, with good Ourson and good Mamma Ourson!"

"I am not called Mamma Ourson," said Agnella, laughing; "call me only
Mamma."

"Oh no, no! not mamma!" cried Violette, shaking her head sadly. "Mamma!
mamma is lost! she was always sleeping, never walking, never taking care
of poor Violette, never kissing little Violette, Mamma Ourson speaks,
walks, kisses Violette and dresses her. I love Mamma Ourson, oh, so
much!" she said, seizing Agnella's hand and pressing it to her heart.

Agnella replied by clasping her tenderly in her arms.

Ourson was much moved--his eyes were moist. Violette perceived this and
passing her hand over his eyes, she said, entreatingly:

"I pray you don't cry, Ourson; if you cry, Violette must cry too."

"No, no, dear little girl, I will cry no more. Let us eat our breakfast
and then we will take a walk."

They breakfasted with good appetites. Violette clapped her hands
frequently and exclaimed:

"Oh how good it is! I love it! I am very glad!"

After breakfast, Ourson and Violette went out to walk while Agnella and
Passerose attended to the house. Ourson played with Violette and
gathered her flowers and strawberries. She said to him:

"We will always walk with each other. You must always play with
Violette."

"I cannot always play, little girl. I have to help mamma and Passerose
to work."

"What sort of work, Ourson?"

"To sweep, scour, take care of the cow, cut the grass and bring wood and
water."

"Violette will work with Ourson."

"You are too little, dear Violette, but still you can try."

When they returned to the house, Ourson started on his various tasks.
Violette followed him everywhere, she did her best and believed that she
was helping him but she was really too small to be useful. After some
days had passed away, she began to wash the cups and saucers, spread the
cloth, fold the linen and wipe the table. She went to the milking with
Passerose, helped to strain the milk and skim it and wash the marble
flag-stones. She was never out of temper, never disobedient and never
answered impatiently or angrily.

Ourson loved her more and more from day to day. Agnella and Passerose
were also very fond of her and the more so because they knew that she
was Ourson's cousin.

Violette loved them but Ourson most of all. How could she help loving
this good boy, who always forgot himself for her, who was constantly
seeking to amuse and please her and who would indeed have been willing
to die for his little friend?

One day, when Passerose had taken Violette with her to market, Agnella
related to Ourson the sad circumstances which had preceded his birth.
She revealed to him the possibility of his getting rid of his hairy skin
and receiving a smooth white skin in exchange if he could ever find any
one who would voluntarily make this sacrifice from affection and
gratitude.

"Never," cried Ourson, "never will I propose or accept such a sacrifice.
I will never consent to devote a being who loves me to that life of
wretchedness which the vengeance of the fairy Furious has condemned me
to endure; never, from a wish of mine, shall a heart capable of such a
sacrifice suffer all that I have suffered and all that I still suffer
from the fear and antipathy of men."

Agnella argued in vain against this firm and noble resolve of Ourson. He
declared that she must never again speak to him of this exchange, to
which he would most assuredly never give his consent and that it must
never be named to Violette or any other person who loved him.

Agnella promised compliance, after a few weak arguments. In reality she
approved and admired his sentiments. She could not but hope, however,
that the fairy Drolette would recompense the generous and noble
character of her little charge and, by some extraordinary exercise of
her power, release him from his hairy skin.



THE TOAD AGAIN


Some years passed away in this peaceful manner without the occurrence of
any remarkable event. Ourson and Violette both grew rapidly. Agnella
thought no more of Violette's frightful dream; her vigilance had greatly
relaxed and she often allowed her to walk alone or under the care of
Ourson.

Ourson was now fifteen years of age and he was tall and strong. No one
could say whether he was handsome or homely for his long black hair
covered his body and face entirely. He was good, generous and
loving--always ready to render a service, always contented and cheerful.
Since the day when he had found Violette in the wood his melancholy had
disappeared; he was utterly indifferent to the general antipathy which
he inspired and he no longer walked in uninhabited places but lived
happily in the circle of the three beings whom he cherished and who
loved him supremely.

Violette was now ten years old and she had not lost a single sweet charm
of her beauty in growing up. Her eyes were softer and more angelic, her
complexion fresher and purer, her mouth more beautiful and arch in its
expression. She had grown much in height--was tall, light and graceful
and her rich blonde hair, when unbound, fell to her feet and entirely
enveloped her like a veil. Passerose had the care of this superb hair
and Agnella never ceased to admire it.

Violette had learned many things during those seven years. Agnella had
taught her how to do housework. In other things, Ourson had been her
teacher. He had taught her to read, write and keep accounts and he often
read aloud to her while she was sewing. Instructive and amusing books
were found in her room without any one knowing where they came from.
There was also clothing and other necessary objects for Violette,
Ourson, Agnella and Passerose. There was no longer any necessity for
going to market to sell or the neighboring village to buy. Through the
agency of the ring on Agnella's little finger everything they wished
for, or had need of, was speedily brought to them.

One day when Ourson was walking with Violette she stumbled against a
stone, fell and hurt her foot. Ourson was frightened when he saw his
cherished Violette bleeding. He did not know what to do to relieve her;
he saw how much she suffered, for, notwithstanding all her efforts, she
could not suppress the tears which escaped from her eyes but finally he
remembered that a brook flowed not ten paces from them.

"Dear Violette," he said, "lean upon me and we will endeavor to reach
the rivulet--the fresh water will relieve you."

Violette tried to walk while Ourson supported her. He succeeded in
seating her on the borders of the stream where she took off her shoe and
bathed her delicate little foot in the fresh flowing water.

"I will run to the house, dear Violette, and bring some linen to wrap up
your foot. Wait for me, I shall not be long absent and take good care
not to get nearer the stream for this little brook is deep and if you
slip you might drown."

When Ourson was out of sight Violette felt an uneasiness which she
attributed to the pain caused by her wound. An unaccountable repulsion
made her feel inclined to withdraw her foot from the water in which it
was hanging. Before she decided to obey this strange impulse she saw the
water troubled and the head of an enormous toad appear upon the surface.
The great swollen angry eyes of the loathsome animal were fixed upon
Violette, who since her dream had always had a dread of toads. The
appearance of this hideous creature, its monstrous swollen body and
menacing glance, froze her with such horror that she could neither move
nor cry out.

[Illustration: _"Ah, ha! you are at last in my domain, little fool!"_]

"Ah! ha! you are at last in my domain, little fool!" said the toad. "I
am the fairy Furious, the enemy of your family. I have been lying in
wait for you a long time and should have had you before if my sister,
the fairy Drolette, had not protected you and sent you a dream to warn
you against me. Ourson whose hairy skin is a talisman of safety is now
absent, my sister is on a journey and you are at last mine."

Saying these words, she seized Violette's foot with her cold and shining
paws and tried to draw her down into the water. Violette uttered the
most piercing shrieks; she struggled and caught hold of the plants and
shrubs growing on the borders of the stream. The first, alas, gave way,
and Violette in despair seized hold of others.

"Ourson! oh, Ourson! help! help! dear Ourson, save me, save your poor
Violette! I am perishing! save me! help! help!"

The fairy Furious, in the form of a toad, was about to carry her off.
The last shrub had given way and Violette's last cry was hushed.

The poor Violette disappeared under the water just as another cry, more
despairing, more terrible, answered to her own. But, alas! her hair
alone appeared above the water when Ourson reached the spot, breathless
and panting with terror. He had heard Violette's cries and had turned
back with the rapidity of lightning.

Without a moment's hesitation he sprang into the water and seized
Violette by her long hair but he felt instantly that he was sinking
with her. The fairy Furious was drawing them to the bottom of the
stream. He knew he was sinking but he did not lose his self-possession.
Instead of releasing Violette, he seized her both arms and invoked the
fairy Drolette. When they reached the bottom, he gave one vigorous
stroke with his heel which brought him again to the surface. Holding
Violette securely with one arm, he swam sturdily with the other and
through some supernatural force he reached the shore where he deposited
the unconscious Violette.

Her eyes were closed, her teeth tightly clenched and the pallor of death
was on her face. Ourson threw himself on his knees by her side weeping
bitterly. Brave Ourson, whom no dangers could intimidate, no privation,
no suffering could master, now wept like a child. His sweet sister, so
well beloved! his only friend, his consolation, his happiness was lying
there motionless, lifeless! Ourson's strength and courage had deserted
him and he sank down without consciousness by the side of his beloved
Violette.

At this moment a lark flew rapidly up, approached Violette and Ourson,
gave one stroke of her little beak to Ourson and another to Violette and
disappeared.

Ourson was not the only one who replied to the shrieks of Violette.
Passerose had heard them and then the more terrible cry of Ourson which
succeeded them. She ran to the house to apprise Agnella and they both
ran rapidly toward the stream from which the cries for help seemed to
come.

On approaching, they saw with surprise and alarm that Violette and
Ourson were lying on the ground in a state of unconsciousness. Passerose
placed her hand on Violette's heart and felt it still beating. Agnella
ascertained at the same moment that Ourson was still living. She
directed Passerose to take Violette home, undress her and put her to bed
while she endeavored to restore consciousness to Ourson with salts and
other restoratives before conducting him to the farm. Ourson was too
tall and heavy to be carried while Violette, on the contrary, was light
and it was easy for Passerose to carry her to the house. When she
arrived there, she was soon restored to animation. It was some moments
before she was conscious. She was still agitated with a vague
remembrance of terror but without knowing what had alarmed her.

During this time the tender care of Agnella had restored Ourson to life.
He opened his eyes, gazed tenderly at his mother and threw himself
weeping upon her neck.

"Mother, dear mother!" he exclaimed, "my Violette, my beloved sister,
has perished! Let me die with her!"

"Be composed, my son," replied Agnella; "Violette still lives. Passerose
has carried her to the house and will bestow upon her all the attention
she requires."

Ourson seemed to revive on hearing these words. He rose and wished to
run to the farm but his second thought was consideration for his mother
and he restrained his impatience to suit her steps. On their way to the
farm he told his mother all that he knew of the events which had almost
cost Violette and himself their lives. He added that the slime from the
mouth of the fairy Furious had left a strange dulness in his head.

Agnella now told him how Passerose and herself had found them stretched
unconscious upon the border of the stream. They soon arrived at the
farm, and Ourson, still dripping, rushed into Violette's presence.

On seeing him Violette remembered everything and she sprang towards him.
She threw her arms around him and wept upon his bosom. Ourson also wept
and Agnella and Passerose were both in tears. It was a concert of
emotion, enough to soften all hearts. Passerose put an end to it by
crying out:

"Would not one say--ha! ha!--that we were the most--ha! ha!--unfortunate
people--ha! ha!--in the universe!--Look at our poor Ourson, wet as a
water-reed, bathing himself in his own and Violette's tears. Courage,
children, courage and happiness! See, we are all alive, thanks to
Ourson."

"Oh, yes!" interrupted Violette; "thanks to Ourson--to my dear, my
well-beloved Ourson. How shall I ever repay him for all I owe him? How
can I ever testify my profound gratitude, my tender affection?"

"By loving me always as you do now, my dear Violette, my sister. Ah! if
it has indeed been in my power to render you some little service, have
you not changed my whole existence? Have you not made me gay and
happy--me who was so wretched and so miserable before? Are you not every
day and every hour of the day the consolation and happiness of my life
and of that of my excellent mother?"

Violette was still weeping and she answered only by pressing more
tenderly to her heart her Ourson, her adopted brother.

"Dear son," said his mother, "you are dripping wet. Go and change your
clothing. Violette has need of some hours' repose. We will meet again at
dinner."

Violette consented to go to bed but did not sleep for her heart was
melting, overflowing with gratitude and tenderness. She sought in vain
for some means of rewarding the devotion of Ourson. She could think of
no other way than that of trying to become perfect so as to increase the
happiness of Ourson and Agnella.



VIOLETTE'S SACRIFICE


When the dinner hour came, Violette arose, dressed herself and entered
the dining-room where Agnella and Passerose were awaiting her. Ourson
was not there.

"Ourson is not with you, mother," said Violette.

"I have not seen him," said Agnella.

"Nor I," said Passerose; "I will go and seek him."

She entered his chamber and found him seated upon his bed, his head
resting upon his arm.

"Come, Ourson, come quick; we are waiting dinner for you."

"I cannot come," said Ourson, in a weak voice; "I have a strange
heaviness in my head."

Passerose flew to inform Agnella and Violette of his illness and they
were by his side in an instant. Ourson made an effort to rise in order
to reassure them but he fell upon a chair. Agnella found that he had a
violent fever and she prevailed upon him to lie down. Violette
absolutely refused to leave him.

"I am the cause of his illness," she said, "and I will not leave his
side till he is well. I shall die of anxiety if you force me to leave my
dear brother."

Agnella and Passerose also installed themselves near their dear invalid
but alas! soon poor Ourson did not recognise them. He was delirious! He
called his mother and Violette every moment and continued to call them
most importunately and to complain of their absence, even while they
were holding him in their arms.

Agnella and Violette never left him day nor night during all his
sickness. The eighth day, Agnella, exhausted with fatigue, had fallen
asleep near the poor sufferer's bed; his difficult respiration and
lifeless eye seemed to announce the near approach of death. Violette was
on her knees, holding and pressing in her fine white hands the hairy
hands of Ourson and covering them with tears and kisses.

In the midst of this scene of desolation, a clear sweet song interrupted
the mournful silence of the chamber of the dying boy. Violette started.
This soft melody seemed to bring consolation and happiness; she raised
her head and saw a lark perched upon the open shutter.

"Violette!" said the lark.

Violette trembled fearfully.

"Violette," repeated the little soft voice of the lark, "do you love
Ourson?"

"Do I love him? Ah! love him--I love him more than any one else--more
than I love myself."

"Would you purchase his life at the price of your happiness?"

"Yes, gladly would I purchase life for him by the sacrifice of my
happiness and of my own life."

"Listen, then, Violette. I am the fairy Drolette. I love Ourson, I love
you and I love your family. The venom which my sister the fairy Furious
has blown upon the head of Ourson is sufficient to cause his death.
Nevertheless, if you are sincere, if you really feel for Ourson the
sentiments of gratitude and tenderness which you express, his life is in
your hands. You are permitted to redeem it! But remember that you will
soon be called upon to give the most terrible proof of your attachment
and that if he lives you will pay for his existence by a most horrible
sacrifice."

"Oh, madam! quick, quick, tell me what I am to do to save my dear
Ourson. Nothing will be terrible to me, all will be joy and happiness if
you aid me to save my brother Ourson."

"Well, my child, very well," replied the fairy. "Kiss his left ear three
times, saying at each kiss: _'To thee!--For thee!--With thee!'_ Reflect
again, Violette, before undertaking this cure. If you are not prepared
for the most difficult sacrifices, the greatest misfortunes will
overwhelm you and my sister Furious will be the mistress of your life."

As her only reply, Violette crossed her hands upon her breast, cast upon
the fairy, who was about to fly away, a look of tender gratitude, and,
throwing herself upon Ourson, she kissed his left ear three times,
saying, with an accent loving and penetrating:

"To thee!--For thee!--With thee!"

Scarcely had she said these words, when Ourson uttered a profound sigh,
opened his eyes, perceived Violette and seizing her hands carried them
to his lips, saying:

"Violette, dear Violette! it seems to me I am awaking from a long dream.
Tell me all that has passed. Why am I here? Why are you so pale and
thin? Your cheeks are hollow, you seem to have grown old and your
beautiful eyes are red with weeping."

"Hush!" said Violette, "do not wake your mother, who is sleeping by your
side. She has not slept for a long time and is much fatigued. You have
been very ill, Ourson!"

"And you, dear Violette, have you been resting?"

Violette blushed and hesitated.

"How could I sleep, dear Ourson, when I was the cause of all your
sufferings?"

Ourson was silent. He looked at her tenderly, kissed her hands and again
asked her to tell him what had passed. She told him but she was too
modest and too truly devoted to reveal to him the price that the fairy
had affixed to his cure. Ourson, therefore, was far from knowing the
truth.

Ourson now felt himself restored to health, rose up, proceeded to his
mother softly and awakened her by a kiss. Agnella thought he was
delirious and called Passerose who was astonished when Violette told
them that Ourson had been restored by the good fairy Drolette.

After all this, Ourson and Violette loved each other more tenderly than
ever and they never left each other unless their occupations forced them
to be apart.



THE WILD BOAR


Two years passed. One day Ourson had been cutting wood in the forest.
Violette was to bring him his dinner and return with him in the evening.
At midday Passerose hung on Violette's arm a basket containing wine,
bread, a little pot of butter, some ham and some cherries. Violette set
off eagerly. The morning had appeared to her very long and she was
impatient to be again with Ourson. To shorten the way she went through
the forest which was composed of large trees under which she could
easily walk. There were neither briars nor thorns in her way and a soft,
thick moss covered the earth.

Violette stepped lightly for she was happy to have found a shorter path
to her dear Ourson. When she had passed over about half the distance she
heard the noise of a heavy and precipitate step but too far off for her
to imagine what it could be. After some moments of expectation she saw
an enormous wild boar coming towards her. He seemed greatly enraged,
ploughed the ground with his tusks and rubbed the bark from the trees as
he passed along. His heavy snorting and breathing were as distinctly
heard as his step. Violette did not know where to fly or to hide
herself. While she was hesitating the wild boar came in sight, saw her,
and paused. His eyes were flaming, his whole body bristling, his tusks
clashing together. He uttered a ferocious grunt, and sprang towards
Violette. Happily she was near a tree whose branches were within her
reach. She seized one, sprang up with it, and climbed from branch to
branch, until she knew she was beyond his reach. Scarcely was she in
safety when the savage animal precipitated himself with all his weight
against the tree in which she had taken refuge. Furious at this
obstacle, he commenced tearing the bark from the tree and gave it such
furious blows with his snout that Violette was terribly frightened. The
concussion caused by these violent and repeated blows might at last
cause the fall of the tree. She clung tightly and trembling to the tree.
The wild boar at last weary of his useless attacks laid himself down at
the foot of the tree casting from time to time a menacing look at
Violette.

Many hours passed in this painful situation, Violette trembling but
holding on steadily and the wild boar, sometimes calm, sometimes in a
terrible rage, springing against the tree and tearing it with his
tusks.

[Illustration: _Violette takes refuge from the wild boar_]

Violette called on her brother, her dear Ourson, for help. At every new
attempt of the wild boar she renewed her cries for aid but alas! Ourson
was too far off and he could not hear. No one came to her aid.

Discouragement and despair gained upon her; she began to feel hunger.
She had thrown away the basket of provisions when she sprang up the
tree, the wild boar had trampled upon it, crushed it and eaten up
everything it contained.

Whilst Violette was a prey to these terrors and vainly calling for help
Ourson was amazed at not seeing her come with the dinner.

"Can they have forgotten me?" he said to himself. "No, neither my mother
nor Violette could have forgotten me. I could not have explained myself
well. Without doubt they expected me back to dinner; they are looking
for me now and are perhaps uneasy."

At this thought Ourson abandoned his work and commenced walking
precipitately towards the house. He also wished to shorten the way and
determined to cross the forest. Soon he thought he heard plaintive cries
of distress. He paused--he listened, his heart beat violently as he
believed he recognized the voice of Violette. But, no--he heard nothing
now. He was about to resume his march when he heard a more distinct and
piercing cry.

Now he knew that it must be Violette, his Violette, who was in danger
and calling upon Ourson for help. He ran in the direction from which the
noise seemed to come. Approaching, he heard not only calls for help but
roars and growls accompanied by ferocious cries and violent blows. Poor
Ourson ran on with the speed of despair. At last he perceived the wild
boar shaking with his snout the tree upon which Violette was still
crouched in safety though pale and overcome.

This sight gave him new strength. He invoked the protection of the good
fairy Drolette and rushed upon the wild boar with his axe in his hand.
The wild boar in his rage bellowed furiously. He gnashed his formidable
tusks one against the other and sprang towards Ourson, who dodged the
attack and jumped to one side. The boar passed beyond him, paused a
moment, then turned more furious than ever against Ourson who had now
taken breath and with his axe raised in his hand awaited his enemy.

The wild boar sprung on Ourson and received on his head a most violent
blow but his bones were so hard he scarcely seemed to feel it. The
violence of the attack overthrew Ourson. The wild boar, seeing his enemy
on the ground, did not give him time to rise but sprang upon him and
with his tusks endeavored to tear him to pieces.

Ourson now thought himself lost, indeed he thought no more of himself,
he prayed only for Violette's safety.

Whilst the wild boar was thus trampling and kicking his enemy, a jeering
song was heard just above the combatants. The wild boar shuddered,
suddenly quitted Ourson, raised his head and saw a lark flying above
them. The mocking song continued and the brute, uttering a cry of rage,
lowered his head and withdrew slowly without once turning round.

Violette at sight of Ourson's danger had fainted away but had rested
supported by the branches of the tree. Ourson, who thought himself torn
to pieces, scarcely dared attempt to move but feeling no pain he rose
promptly to assist Violette. His heart was full of gratitude to the
fairy Drolette to whom he attributed his rescue. At this moment the lark
flew towards him, pecked his cheeks and whispered in his ear:

"Ourson, it was the fairy Furious who sent this wild boar. I arrived in
time to save you. Profit by the gratitude of Violette and change skins
with her. She will consent joyfully."

"Never!" cried Ourson. "I would rather be a bear all my life--rather
die. Poor Violette! I should indeed be base if I abused her tenderness
towards me in this way."

"Good-bye, obstinate one!" said the lark, flying away singing, "till we
meet again. I shall come again--and then----"

"The result will be the same," said Ourson.

He then climbed the tree, took Violette in his arms, and descended. He
laid her upon the soft green moss and bathed her forehead with a little
wine he found in a broken bottle.

In a few moments Violette was restored to consciousness. She could
scarcely believe her senses when she saw Ourson, living and unwounded,
kneeling by her side and bathing her forehead and temples.

"Ourson! dear Ourson! again you have saved my life. Tell me, oh! tell
me, what can I do to prove my gratitude?"

"Do not speak of gratitude, my cherished Violette. Do I not owe all my
happiness to you? In saving your life I save my own and all I value."

"All that you say, dear brother, is sweet and tender but I desire no
less to render you some real and signal service, which will show all the
gratitude and all the love with which my heart is filled."

"Good! good! we shall see," said Ourson, laughing. "In the mean time let
us think of preserving our lives. You have eaten nothing since morning,
poor Violette, for I see on the ground the remnants of the provisions
you brought, as I suppose, for our dinner. It is late and the day is
declining so we must hurry to return to the farm before dark."

Violette now tried to rise but her terror and her long fast had weakened
her so much that she fell to the ground.

"I cannot stand, Ourson, I am too weak. What will become of us?"

Ourson was greatly embarrassed. Violette was no longer a child and had
grown so large that he could not carry her so far, neither could he
leave her exposed to the attacks of the ferocious beasts of the forest
and he feared she could not do without food till the morning. In this
perplexity he saw a packet fall at his feet. He raised it, opened it and
found a pie, a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. Ourson knew that this
bounty was from the hand of the fairy Drolette and with a heart full of
gratitude he put the bottle to Violette's lips. One mouthful of this
good wine which was indeed unequalled restored a portion of Violette's
strength. The pie and the bread completely restored her as well as
Ourson who did full honor to the repast. While eating and drinking they
conversed of their past terrors and present happiness.

Now, however, it was night and neither Violette nor Ourson knew which
way to turn their steps in order to reach the farm. They were in the
midst of a wood. Violette was reclining against the tree which had been
her refuge from the wild boar. They dared not quit this spot lest in the
obscurity they might not find as comfortable a one.

"Well, dear Violette, do not be alarmed. It is warm, the weather is
beautiful and you are reclining upon a bed of soft green moss. Let us
pass the night where we are. I will cover you with my coat and I will
lie at your feet to protect you from all danger and alarm. Mamma and
Passerose will not be very anxious for they are ignorant of the dangers
we have encountered and you know that we have often on a lovely evening
like this reached home after they had retired."

Violette consented willingly to pass the night in the forest. In the
first place, they could not do otherwise; secondly, she was never afraid
with Ourson and always thought that what he decided to do was right.

[Illustration: _Violette consented willingly to pass the night in the
forest_]

Ourson now arranged Violette's bed of moss in the best possible manner,
took off his coat and in spite of her resistance spread it over her.
Then, after having seen Violette's eyes close and sleep take possession
of all her senses he lay at her feet and soon slept most profoundly.

Violette was the first awake in the morning. She walked around the tree
which had sheltered them during the night. Ourson awaked and not seeing
Violette he sprang up in an instant and called her name in a voice
choking with terror.

"I am here! I am here, dear brother!" she replied, running towards him;
"I am seeking the path to the farm. But what is the matter? you
tremble!"

"I thought you had been carried away by some wicked fairy, dear
Violette, and I reproached myself for having fallen asleep. Let us go
now quickly in order to reach home before mamma and Passerose are
awake."

Ourson knew the forest well. He soon found the path to the farm and they
arrived some moments before Agnella and Passerose awoke. They agreed to
conceal from Agnella the dangers to which they had been exposed, to
spare her anguish and disquietude for the future. Passerose alone was
made the confidant of their dangerous adventures.



THE CONFLAGRATION


Ourson now forbade Violette to go alone in the forest. She was no longer
allowed to carry him his dinner so he always returned to the house at
midday. Violette never left the farm without Ourson.

Three years after the event in the forest, Ourson saw Violette arise in
the morning pale and exhausted. She was seeking him.

"Come, come," she said, drawing him along, "I have something to
say--something to relate--Oh, come!"

Ourson was much alarmed and followed her precipitately.

"What is it, dear Violette? For the love of Heaven, speak to me! What
can I do for you?"

"Nothing, nothing, dear Ourson; you can do nothing--only listen to me.
You remember the dream I had in my childhood, of the toad! the river!
the danger! Well, last night I had this same dream again. It is
terrible! terrible! Ourson, dear Ourson, your life is menaced! If you
die, I will die also!"

"How! By whom is my life threatened?"

"Listen! I was sleeping and a toad--still a toad--always a toad--came to
me and said:

"'The moment approaches when your dear Ourson is to resume his natural
skin. To you he is to be indebted for this change. I hate him! I hate
you! You shall not make each other happy! Ourson shall perish and you
cannot accomplish the sacrifice which in your folly you meditate. In a
few days, yes, perhaps in a few hours I shall take a signal vengeance
upon you both. Good-bye--do you hear?--till we meet again!'

"I awoke, suppressed a cry which was about to issue from my lips and
saw, as I saw on that day in which you saved me from the water, the
hideous toad creeping upon the shutter and gazing at me menacingly. It
disappeared, leaving me more dead than alive. I arose dressed myself and
came to find you my brother, my friend to warn you against the vengeance
of the fairy Furious and to entreat you to seek the aid of the good
fairy Drolette."

Ourson listened in great alarm. He was not frightened by the fate which
menaced himself--he was agitated by the sacrifice which Furious
announced and which he understood but too well. The thought alone of his
dear and lovely Violette being muffled up in his hideous bear's skin
through devotion to him made him tremble and he preferred death.
Ourson's anguish was pictured in his countenance, and Violette, who was
watching him closely, threw herself upon his neck and sobbed violently.

"Alas! my brother, my dear brother, you will soon be torn from me. You,
who do not know what it is to fear, now tremble. You who comfort me
encourage me and sustain me in all my fears have now no word to utter to
restore my failing courage. You who have combated the most terrible
dangers now bow your head and are resigned to fate."

"No, Violette, it is not fear which makes me tremble--it is not fear
which agitates me. It is a word which the fairy Furious has uttered, of
which you do not comprehend the meaning but which I understand
perfectly. The threat was addressed to you, my Violette. It is for you I
tremble!"

Violette divined from this that the moment of sacrifice had come, that
she was about to be called upon to keep the promise she had made to the
fairy Drolette. In place of trembling and shrinking, she felt the most
lively joy. She could now at last make some return for the devotion, the
incessant watchful tenderness of her dear Ourson--could in her turn be
useful to him. She made no response to the fears expressed by Ourson but
thanked him and spoke to him more tenderly than ever before, thinking
that soon perhaps she would be separated from him by death. Ourson had
the same thought. They both fervently invoked the protection of the
fairy Drolette. Ourson, indeed, called upon her in a loud voice but she
did not respond to his appeal.

The day passed away sadly. Neither Ourson nor Violette spoke to Agnella
on the subject of their disquiet for fear of aggravating her melancholy
which had been constantly increasing as Ourson grew to manhood.

"Already twenty years old!" thought she. "If he persists in living in
this solitude and seeing no one and in refusing to change with Violette,
who asks nothing better, I am certain, I am convinced, he will wear this
bear-skin till his death."

Agnella wept, often wept; but her tears brought her no remedy.

The day Violette had her frightful dream, Agnella also had a dream. The
fairy Drolette had appeared to her:

"Courage, queen," she said to her, "in a few days Ourson will lose his
bear's skin and you can give him his true name of Prince Marvellous."

Agnella had awaked full of hope and happiness. She redoubled her
tenderness to Violette, believing that it was to her she would owe the
happiness of her son.

Every one retired at night with different feelings. Violette and Ourson,
full of anxiety for the future which appeared so threatening, Agnella's
heart bounding with joy at that same future which appeared so near and
so replete with happiness, Passerose, astonished at the melancholy of
the one and the joy of the other and ignorant of the cause of both.

All slept, however. Violette after weeping profusely. Ourson after
having invoked the fairy Drolette; Agnella after smiling and thinking of
Ourson handsome and attractive and Passerose after saying to herself a
hundred times: "But what is the matter with them all to-day?"

Scarcely an hour after all at the farm were asleep, Violette was aroused
by the smell of fire and smoke. Agnella awoke at the same moment.

"Mother," said Violette, "do you not smell something?"

"The house is on fire," said Agnella. "Look what a light is round about
us!"

They sprang from their beds and ran to the parlor. The flames had
already taken possession of it and of the neighboring chambers.

"Ourson! Passerose!" cried Agnella.

"Ourson! Ourson!" exclaimed Violette.

Passerose sprang half clothed into the parlor.

"We are lost, madam! The flames are all through the house. The doors and
windows are firmly closed--it is impossible to open them."

"My son! my son!" cried Agnella.

"My brother! my brother!" exclaimed Violette.

They ran to the doors; all their efforts to open them or the windows
were ineffectual.

"Oh! my terrible dream!" murmured Violette. "Dear Ourson, adieu for
ever!"

Ourson had also been awakened by the flames and smoke. He slept out of
the farm-house, and near the stable. His first impulse was to run to the
front of the house but notwithstanding his extraordinary strength he
could not open it. One would have thought that the door would break to
pieces under his efforts. It was evidently held fast by the fairy
Furious.

Ourson sprang upon a ladder and passed across the flames into a granary
through an open window, then descended into the room where his mother
and Violette were embracing, expecting instant death. Before they had
time to recognize him he seized them in his arms and cried to Passerose
to follow him. He ran along the granary and descended the ladder with
his mother in one arm and Violette in the other and followed by
Passerose. The moment after they reached the ground in safety, the
ladder and granary became a prey to the flames.

Ourson led Agnella and Violette some distance from the fire. Passerose
was self-possessed: she had quite a large package of clothing which she
had collected at the commencement of the fire. Agnella and Violette had
escaped barefooted and in their night robes, and the clothing brought
by Passerose was thus very necessary to protect them from the cold.
After having thanked Ourson for saving their lives at the peril of his
own they complimented Passerose upon her forethought.

"See," said Passerose, "the advantage of not losing one's senses. Whilst
you two were only thinking of your Ourson, I made up this package of
necessary things."

"That is true, my good Passerose; but what purpose would your package
have served, if my mother and Violette had perished in the flames?"

"Oh, I knew very well that you would not allow them to be burned up
alive. Is any one ever in danger when you are present? Is not this the
third time you have saved Violette's life?"

Violette pressed Ourson's hands tenderly and carried them to her lips.
Agnella embraced her and said:

"Dear Violette, Ourson is happy in your tenderness which fully rewards
him for all he has done for you. I feel assured that on your part you
would be happy to sacrifice yourself for him if an occasion offered,
that only too willingly would you help him."

Before Violette could speak, Ourson said with animation:

"Mother, do not say anything to Violette of sacrificing herself for me.
You know the thought alone makes me wretched."

In place of replying to Ourson, Agnella placed her hand on her forehead
and cried out anxiously:

"The casket, Passerose! the casket! Have you saved the casket?"

"I forgot it, madam," said Passerose.

The countenance of Agnella expressed such regret and anxiety, that
Ourson questioned her as to this precious casket which seemed to trouble
her so much.

"The casket was a present of the fairy Drolette. She told me that the
happiness of Violette was contained in it. It was in the wardrobe, at
the foot of my bed. Alas! by what fatality did I forget it?"

She had scarcely uttered these words when the brave Ourson sprang
towards the burning house and notwithstanding the tears and
supplications of Agnella, Violette and Passerose, disappeared in the
flames exclaiming:

"You shall have the casket, mother, or I will perish with it!"

A horrible silence followed this act of Ourson. Violette fell on her
knees with her arms extended towards the burning house, Agnella with her
hands clasped looked with straining eyes at the opening through which
Ourson had entered while Passerose was motionless, hiding her face with
her hands. Some moments passed thus and they appeared ages to the three
women who were expecting a sentence of life or death.

Ourson did not reappear. The crackling of the burning wood, the flashing
of the flames, increased in violence. Suddenly, a frightful noise made
Violette and Agnella utter a cry of despair.

The roof, covered with flames, had fallen in and Ourson was buried under
the ruins--crushed by the ruins, consumed by the fire.

The silence of death succeeded this dreadful catastrophe. The flames
diminished, then died away--no sound now interrupted the despair of
Agnella and Violette.

Violette had fallen into the arms of Agnella and they sobbed thus a long
time in silence. Passerose contemplated the smoking ruins and wept. Poor
Ourson was buried there a victim of his courage and his devotion!
Agnella and Violette still wept bitterly; they appeared neither to hear
nor understand what was passing around them.

"Let us leave this place," said Passerose, at last.

Agnella and Violette made no response.

Passerose tried to lead Violette away.

"Come," said she; "come, Violette, let us seek a shelter for the
night--the evening fortunately is mild."

"What shelter do I want?" said Violette. "What is the evening to me or
the morning? There are no more beautiful days for me! The sun will shine
no more but to illumine my despair!"

"But if we remain here weeping we shall die of hunger, Violette, and in
spite of the bitterest grief, we must think of the necessities of life."

"Better to die of hunger than of grief! I will not leave this place
where I saw my dear Ourson for the last time--where he perished, a
victim of his tenderness for us."

Passerose shrugged her shoulders; she remembered that the stable had not
been burned so she ran there with all speed, milked the cow, drank a
cupful of milk and tried in vain to make Agnella and Violette do the
same.

Agnella rose and said to Violette in a solemn tone:

"Your grief is just, my daughter. Never did a more noble or generous
heart beat in a human form than Ourson's and he loved you more than he
loved himself--to spare your grief he sacrificed his happiness and his
life."

Agnella now recounted to Violette the scene which preceded Ourson's
birth, the power Violette had to deliver him from his deformity by
accepting it for herself and Ourson's constant prayer that Violette
should never be informed of the possibility of such a sacrifice.

It is easy to comprehend the feelings of loving tenderness and regret
which filled the heart of Violette after this confidence and she wept
more bitterly than ever.

"And now, my daughter," continued Agnella, "there remains one duty to
fulfil, that is to give burial to my son. We must clear away these ruins
and remove the ashes and when we have found the remains of our
well-beloved Ourson----"

Sobs interrupted her speech; she could say no more.



THE WELL


Agnella, Violette and Passerose walked slowly towards the burned walls
of the farmhouse. With the courage of despair they removed the smoking
ruins. They worked diligently two days before this work was completed.
No vestige of poor Ourson appeared and yet they had removed piece by
piece, handful by handful, all that covered the site. On removing the
last half-burned planks, Violette perceived an aperture, which she
quickly enlarged. It was the orifice of a well. Her heart beat
violently--a vague hope inspired it.

"Ourson!" cried she, with a faint voice.

"Violette! dear Violette! I am here; I am saved!"

Violette could reply only by a smothered cry; she lost her consciousness
and fell into the well which enclosed her dear Ourson. If the good fairy
Drolette had not watched over her fall, she would have broken her head
and limbs against the sides of the well. But their kind protectress,
who had already rendered them so many services, sustained her and she
fell safely at Ourson's feet.

Violette soon returned to consciousness. Their happiness was too great
to be believed in--to be trusted. They did not cease to give the most
tender assurances of affection. And now they were aroused from their
ecstasy by the cries of Passerose, who, losing sight of Violette and
seeking her amongst the ruins, discovered the open well. Peering into
the darkness she saw Violette's white robe and she imagined that the
poor girl had thrown herself intentionally into the well and there found
the death she sought. Passerose screamed loud enough to destroy her
lungs. Agnella came slowly forward to know the cause of this alarm.

"Be silent, Passerose," cried Ourson in a loud voice; "you are
frightening our mother. I am in the well with Violette; we are happy and
want for nothing."

"Oh blessed news! blessed news!" cried Passerose; "I see them! I see
them! Madam, madam, come quickly, quickly! They are here--they are
well--they have need of nothing!"

Agnella, pale, and half dead with emotion, listened to Passerose without
comprehending her. She fell on her knees and had not strength to rise.
But when she heard the voice of her dear Ourson calling to her: "Mother,
mother, your poor son Ourson still lives!" she sprang toward the well,
and would have precipitated herself within, had not Passerose seized her
by the arms and drawn her back suddenly.

"For the love of Ourson, dear queen, do not throw yourself into this
hole; you will kill yourself! I will restore Ourson and Violette to you
unharmed."

Agnella, trembling with happiness, comprehended the wisdom of the
counsel given by Passerose. She remained rooted to the spot but
shuddering with agitation while Passerose ran to seek a ladder.

Passerose was absent a long time which was excusable as she was somewhat
confused. First she seized a cord, then a pitchfork, then a chair. For
an instant she thought of lowering the cow to the bottom of the well so
that poor Ourson might have a drink of fresh warm milk. At last she
found the ladder before her eyes, almost in her hands, but she had not
seen it.

While Passerose was seeking the ladder, Ourson and Violette talked
incessantly of their present happiness and the despair and anguish they
had endured.

"I passed uninjured through the flames," said Ourson, "and sought
groping about for the wardrobe of my mother. The smoke suffocated and
blinded me. Then I felt myself raised by the hair and cast to the bottom
of this well where you have come to join me, dear Violette.

"In place of finding water, or even moisture here, I felt at once a
sweet, fresh air. A soft carpet was spread on the bottom: you see it is
still here. There was from some source sufficient light around me. I
found ample provisions at my side. Look at them, Violette, I have not
touched them. A few drops of wine was all I could swallow.

"The knowledge of your despair and that of my mother rendered me too
unhappy and the fairy Drolette took pity on me. She appeared to me under
your form, dear Violette, and I took her for you and sprang forward to
seize you in my arms but I embraced only a vague form of air or vapor. I
could see her but I could not touch her.

"'Ourson', said the fairy, smiling sweetly upon me, 'I have assumed
Violette's form to testify my friendship in the most agreeable way. Be
comforted; you shall see her to-morrow. She weeps bitterly, because she
believes you to be dead but I will send her to you to-morrow. She will
make you a visit at the bottom of this well. She will accompany you when
you go forth from this tomb and you shall see your mother and the blue
heavens and the dazzling sun which neither your mother nor Violette wish
to look upon since your loss, but which appeared beautiful to them while
you were with them. You will return once more to this well for it
contains your happiness.'

"'My happiness!' I exclaimed to the fairy; 'when I have found my mother
and my Violette I shall be in possession of all my happiness.'

"'Believe implicitly what I say. This well contains your happiness and
that of Violette.'

"'Violette's happiness, madam, is to live with me and my mother.'"

"Ah! you replied well," interrupted Violette. "But what said the fairy?"

"'I know what I say,' she answered. 'In a few days something will be
wanting to complete your happiness. You will find it here. We will meet
again, Ourson. Remember what I have said.'

"'Yes, madam; I hope it will be soon.'

"'When you see me again, my poor child, you will be scarcely content and
then you will wish that you had never seen me. Silence and farewell.'

"She flew away smiling sweetly, leaving behind her a delicious perfume
and an atmosphere so soft and heavenly that it diffused a peaceful calm
in my heart. I suffered no more--I expected you."

Violette on her part comprehended better than Ourson why the next return
of the fairy would be painful to him. Since Agnella had revealed to her
in confidence the nature of the sacrifice that she could impose upon
herself, she was resolved to accomplish it, in spite of the opposition
of Ourson. She thought only of the delight of giving an immense proof of
her affection. This hope tempered her joy at having found him.

When Ourson had completed his narrative, they heard the shrill voice of
Passerose crying out to them:

"Look, look, my children! the ladder. I will put it down to you. Take
care that it does not fall on your heads. You must have some provisions
down there; send them up, if you please; we are somewhat destitute above
here. For two days I have only had a little milk to drink and a crust.
Your mother and Violette have lived upon the air and their tears.
Softly! softly! take care not to break the ladder. Madam! madam! here
they are: here are Ourson's and Violette's heads--Good! Step up! There
you are!"

Agnella, still pallid and trembling, was immovable as a statue.

After having seen Violette in safety, Ourson sprang from the well and
threw himself into his mother's arms. She covered him with tears and
kisses and held him a long time clasped to her heart. After having
thought him dead during so many painful hours, it seemed a dream to her
almost impossible to realize that she was holding him safe once more.
Finally Passerose terminated this melting scene by seizing Ourson and
saying to him:

"Now it is my turn! I am forgotten, forsooth, because I do not bathe
myself in tears; because I keep my head cool and preserve my strength.
Was it not Passerose, after all, who got you out of that terrible hole?
Speak the truth."

"Yes, yes, my good Passerose! You may believe that I love you and
indeed I thank you for drawing me out of it where, however, I was doing
very well after my sweet Violette came down to me."

"But now I think of it," said Passerose, "tell me, Violette, how did you
get to the bottom of that well without killing yourself?"

"I did not go down purposely. I fell and Ourson received me in his
arms."

"All this is not very clear," said Passerose. "The fairy Drolette had
something to do with it."

"Yes, the good and amiable fairy," said Ourson. "She is always
counteracting the cruelties of her wicked sister."

While thus talking merrily, their stomachs gave indication that they
were suffering for dinner. Ourson had left in the well the provisions
furnished by the fairy. The rest of the happy family were still
embracing and weeping over past remembrances but Passerose without
saying a word descended into the well and remounted with the provisions
which she placed on a bundle of straw; she then placed around the table
four other bundles of straw for seats.

"Dinner is ready," said she; "come and eat; you all need food. The good
queen and Violette will soon fall from exhaustion. Ourson has had a
little wine but he has eaten nothing. Here is a pie, a ham, bread and
wine. Long life to the good fairy!"

Agnella, Violette and Ourson did not require to be told a second time
but placed themselves gayly at the table. Their appetites were good and
the repast excellent. Happiness illuminated every countenance; they
talked, laughed, clasped each other's hands and were in paradise.

When dinner was over, Passerose was surprised that the fairy Drolette
had not provided for all their wants.

"Look," said she, "the house is in ruins, we are destitute of
everything! The stable is our only shelter, the straw our only bed and
the provisions I brought up from the well our only food. Formerly
everything was provided before we had the time to ask for it."

Agnella looked suddenly at her hand--the ring was no longer there! They
must now gain their bread by the sweat of their brows. Ourson and
Violette seeing her air of consternation demanded the cause of it.

"Alas! my children, you will no doubt think me very ungrateful to feel
disquieted about the future in the midst of our great happiness but I
perceive that during the fire I have lost the ring given me by the good
fairy and this ring would have furnished us with all the necessaries of
life so long as it was upon my finger. Alas! I have it no longer. What
shall we do?"

"Dismiss all anxiety, dear mother," said Ourson. "Am I not tall and
strong? I will seek for work and you can all live on my wages."

"And I, too," said Violette, "can I not assist my good mother and
Passerose? In seeking work for yourself, Ourson, you can also find
something for me to do."

"I will go at once and seek work," said Ourson. "Adieu, mother. We will
meet again, Violette."

Kissing their hands, he set off with a light step.

He had no presentiment, poor boy, of the reception which awaited him in
the three houses where he sought employment.



THE FARM--THE CASTLE--THE FORGE


Ourson walked more than three hours before he arrived at a large and
beautiful farm where he hoped to obtain employment. He saw from a
distance the farmer and his family seated before his front door taking
their evening meal.

He was but a short way off when one of the children, a little boy about
ten years of age, perceived him. He sprang from his seat, uttered a cry
of terror and fled into the house.

A second child, a little girl eight years old, hearing the cry of her
brother turned towards Ourson and commenced the most piercing shrieks.

All the family now followed the movement of the children and turned
around. At the sight of Ourson the women cried out with terror and the
children fled in wild alarm. The men seized sticks and pitchforks
expecting to be attacked by poor Ourson whom they took for some
extraordinary animal escaped from a menagerie.

Ourson, seeing this movement of terror and preparation for attack, spoke
to them hoping to dissipate their fears.

"I am not a bear, as you seem to suppose, but a poor boy seeking work
and who would be very glad if you should give him employment."

The farmer was greatly amazed to hear a bear speak. He did not know
whether to fly or to interrogate him further. He resolved, however, to
speak.

"Who are you and from whence do you come?"

"I come from the Woodland Farm and I am the son of Agnella," Ourson
replied.

"Ah, then it was you who in your childhood went with your mother to
market and frightened all our children to death. You have lived in the
woods and done without our help. Why do you seek us now? Go away and
live as you have lived heretofore."

"Our farm-house is burned to the ground. I have to work now with my
hands to support my mother and sister. For this reason, I pray you to
give me work. I will do all you command me."

"Do you suppose, boy, that I will take into my service a villainous
animal like you who will frighten my wife and my servants to death and
throw my children into convulsions? I am not quite such a fool, my boy;
not quite such a fool. Enough of this. Be off, and allow us to finish
our dinner."

"Master farmer, be merciful. Only try my work. Place me altogether by
myself; then no one will fear me. I will conceal myself so well that
your children shall not see me."

"Will you be done talking, wicked bear? Go instantly; if you don't you
shall feel the teeth of my pitchfork."

Poor Ourson bowed his head. Tears of humiliation and disappointment
glittered in his eyes. He withdrew slowly, followed by the coarse laugh
and shouts of the farm hands.

When out of sight he no longer restrained his tears, but in all this
shame and despair the thought that Violette could take upon herself his
ugly covering did not enter his thoughts.

Ourson walked on till he came in sight of a castle where he saw a crowd
of men coming, going and laboring at every kind of work. Some were
mowing, some raking, some currying horses, some sweeping, some watering
plants, some sowing.

"Here is a house where I shall certainly find work," said Ourson to
himself. "I see neither women nor children and I think the men will not
be afraid of me."

Ourson drew near without being seen. He took off his hat and stood
before a man who seemed to be the superintendent.

"Sir--" said he.

The man looked up, recoiled a step when he saw Ourson and examined him
with the greatest surprise.

"Who are you and what do you want?" said he, in a rude voice.

"Sir, I am the son of Agnella, mistress of the Woodland Farm."

"Well! and what has brought you here?"

"Our house is burned down, sir. I am seeking work in order to support my
mother and sister. I hope you will be good enough to give me
employment."

"Give employment to a bear?"

"Sir, I have only the appearance of a bear. Under this rough outside,
which is so repugnant to you, there beats a human heart--a heart capable
of gratitude and affection. You shall have no reason to complain either
of my work or of my good will."

Whilst Ourson spoke and the superintendent listened with a mocking air,
a great noise was heard amongst the horses. They began to kick and
prance and the grooms could scarcely hold them. Some of them indeed
escaped and fled in terror to the woods.

"It is the bear! It is the bear!" cried the grooms. "It has terrified
the horses. Drive it off! Chase it away! We cannot control our horses."

"Off with you!" cried the superintendent.

Ourson was stupefied by his misfortunes and was immovable.

"Ha! you will not go," vociferated the man. "Wait a few moments, you
hairy beast. I will give you something to run for. Halloa, men! bring
out the dogs, and set them upon this animal. Hurry!--see him scampering
off!"

In fact Ourson, more dead than alive at this cruel treatment,
precipitately withdrew from the presence of these wicked and inhuman
men. This second attempt had failed utterly but he would not allow
himself to be discouraged.

"It is still three or four hours before sunset so I have time to
continue my search for work."

He directed his steps towards a forge which was some distance from
Woodland Farm. The master of the forge employed a great many workmen. He
gave work to those who asked it, not in charity, but in view of his own
interest. He was feared but he was not loved. He developed the riches of
the country but no one thanked him for it because he alone profited by
it. By his avidity and his opulence he ground down the poor workmen who
could only find employment with this new Marquis of Carabas.

Poor Ourson arrived at the forge. The master was at the door, scolding
some, threatening others and terrifying all.

"Sir," said Ourson, drawing near, "have you any work to give me?"

"Certainly. What kind of work----?"

He raised his head at these words for he had replied without looking at
Ourson. When his eye fell upon him he did not finish his phrase; his
eyes flashed with rage and he stammered out:--

"What foolery is this? Are we in the midst of the Carnival, that a
workman ventures upon such a ridiculous masquerade? Throw off your ugly
bear's skin instantly or I will crisp your bristles for you in my fire."

"This, sir, is no masquerade," replied Ourson, sadly; "it is, alas! my
natural skin but if you will be humane enough to employ me you will see
that my strength is equal to my goodwill."

"I give work to you, you vile animal!" cried the master of the forge,
foaming with rage: "I will put you into a sack and send you to a
menagerie or I will throw you into a den with your brother bears. You
will have work enough to defend yourself from their claws. Be off!"

And brandishing his club he would have dealt Ourson a heavy blow if the
poor boy had not made a hasty retreat.



THE SACRIFICE


Ourson turned his steps homeward, discouraged and exhausted. He walked
slowly and arrived at the farm late. Violette ran to meet him, took him
by the hand, and without saying a word led him to his mother. There she
fell on her knees and said:--

"My mother, I know what our well-beloved Ourson has suffered to-day.
During his absence the fairy Furious has told me all and the good fairy
Drolette has confirmed her story. My mother, when our Ourson was, as we
believed, lost to us for ever and lost for my sake you revealed to me
that which in his nobility and goodness he wished to conceal. I know
that by changing skins with him I can restore to him his original
beauty. Happy, a hundred times happy in having this opportunity to
recompense the tenderness and devotion of my dearly-loved brother
Ourson, I demand to make this exchange allowed by the fairy Drolette and
I entreat her to complete the transfer immediately."

"Violette! Violette!" exclaimed Ourson, in great agitation, "take back
your words! You do not know to what you engage yourself; you are
ignorant of the life of anguish and misery unparalleled, the life of
solitude and isolation to which you thus condemn yourself; you know not
the unceasing desolation you will feel at knowing that you are an object
of fear to all mankind. Violette, Violette, in pity to me, withdraw your
words!"

"Dear Ourson," said Violette, calmly, but resolutely, "in making what
you believe to be so great a sacrifice, I accomplish the dearest wish of
my heart; I secure my own happiness; I satisfy an ardent and imperious
desire to testify my tenderness and my gratitude. I esteem myself for
doing what I propose. I should despise myself if I left it undone."

"Pause, Violette, for one instant longer, I beseech you! Think of my
grief, when I no longer see my beautiful Violette, when I think of you
exposed to the railleries, the horror of men. Oh! Violette, do not
condemn your poor Ourson to this anguish."

The lovely face of Violette was veiled with sadness. The fear that
Ourson would feel repugnance towards her made her heart tremble; but
this thought, which was wholly personal, was very fleeting--it could not
triumph over her devoted tenderness. Her only response was to throw
herself in the arms of Agnella, and say:--

"Mother, embrace your fair and pretty Violette for the last time."

Whilst Agnella, Ourson and Passerose embraced her and looked lovingly
upon her--whilst Ourson, on his knees, supplicated her to leave him his
bear-skin to which he had been accustomed for twenty years--Violette
called out again in a loud voice:--

"Fairy Drolette! Fairy Drolette! come and accept the price of the life
and health of my dear Ourson."

At this moment the fairy Drolette appeared in all her glory. She was
seated in a massive chariot of gold, drawn by a hundred and fifty larks.
She was clothed with a robe of butterflies' wings, of the most brilliant
colors while from her shoulders fell a mantle of network of diamonds,
which trailed ten feet behind her and it was so fine in texture that it
was light as gauze. Her hair, glittering like tissue of gold, was
ornamented by a crown of carbuncles more brilliant than the sun; each of
her slippers was carved from a single ruby and her beautiful face, soft,
yet gay, breathed contentment. She fixed upon Violette a most
affectionate regard.

"You wish it, then, my daughter?" said she.

"Madam," cried Ourson, falling at her feet, "deign to listen to me. You,
who have loaded me with undeserved benefits--you, who have inspired me
with boundless gratitude--you, good and just--will you execute the mad
wish of my dear Violette? Will you make my whole life wretched by
forcing me to accept this sacrifice? No, no, charming and humane fairy,
you could not, you will not do it!"

Whilst Ourson was thus supplicating, the fairy gave Violette a light
touch with her wand of pearl and Ourson another--then said:--

"Let it be according to the wish of your heart, my daughter. Let it be
contrary to your ardent desires, my son."

At the same moment, the face, arms and the whole body of the lovely
young girl were covered with the long hair which Ourson had worn, and
Ourson appeared with a white smooth skin, which set off his extreme
beauty to advantage.

Violette gazed at him with admiration, while he, his eyes cast down and
full of tears, dared not look at his poor Violette, so horribly
metamorphosed. At last he looked up, threw himself in her arms, and they
wept together.

Ourson was marvellously handsome. Violette was, as Ourson had been,
without form, without beauty, but not ugly. When Violette raised her
head and looked at Agnella, the latter extended her hands towards her,
and said:--

"Thanks, my daughter, my noble, generous child."

"Mother," said Violette, in low voice, "do you love me still?"

"Do I love you, my cherished child? Yes, a hundred times, a thousand
times more than ever before."

"Violette," said Ourson, "never fear being ugly in our eyes. To my
eyes, you are a hundred times more beautiful than when clothed with all
your loveliness. To me you are a sister--a friend incomparable. You will
always be the companion of my life, the ideal of my heart."



THE COMBAT


Violette was about to reply, when a kind of roaring was heard in the
air, and they saw descend a chariot made of crocodile's skin, drawn by
fifty enormous toads. All the toads were hissing and blowing, and would
have cast their infectious venom in every direction, if they had not
been restrained by the power of the fairy Drolette.

When the chariot reached the ground, the fairy Furious, a huge and heavy
creature, issued from it. Her big eyes seemed bursting from their
sockets, her large flat nose covered her wrinkled, withered cheeks, her
monstrous mouth extended from ear to ear and when it was open a long
pointed black tongue was seen licking her horrid teeth.

She was not more than three feet in height and was very corpulent; her
grizzly skin was gluey and cold, like a snail's and her thin red hair
fell in locks of unequal length around her throat, which was disfigured
by a goitre. Her large, flat hands looked like the fins of a shark, her
dress was made of snail's skins and her mantle of the skins of toads.

She advanced towards Ourson (who shall hereafter be known by his true
name of Prince Marvellous) with a slow step. She paused in front of him
and casting a furious glance upon the fairy Drolette and an eye of
mocking triumph upon Violette, she folded her great cold arms and said
in a sharp yet hoarse voice:--

"My sister has triumphed over me, Prince Marvellous. I have, however,
one consolation: you will not be happy, because you have obtained your
original beauty at the expense of that little fool, who is now frightful
and repugnant and whom you will now never wish to approach. Yes! yes!
weep, my handsome Ourson! You will weep a long time, Violette, and you
will regret bitterly, if you do not already regret, that you have given
your beautiful skin to the prince Marvellous."

"Never, madam, never! My only regret is that I did not know sooner what
I could do to testify my gratitude."

The fairy Drolette, whose countenance had assumed an unaccustomed
expression of severity and irritation, now waved her wand and said:--

"Silence, sister! You shall not triumph long over the misfortunes of
Violette. I will provide a remedy for those misfortunes: her generous
devotion merits recompense."

"I defy you to come to her assistance under penalty of my wrath," said
Furious.

"I do not doubt your rage, sister, but I disdain to punish you for it,"
replied Drolette.

"To punish me!--Do you dare to threaten me?" said Furious. And hissing
furiously, she called her chariot, mounted it, rose in the air and tried
to launch upon Drolette all the venom of her toads in order to suffocate
her.

But Drolette knew her sister perfectly. Her faithful larks held the door
of her chariot open and she sprang within. The larks rose in the air,
hovered above the toads, and then lowered themselves rapidly upon them.
The toads, in spite of their weight, escaped the blows by turning
adroitly to one side. They however threw their venom on the larks which
were nearest to them, who died instantly.

Drolette detached them with the rapidity of a thunder-bolt, rose again
in the air and fell so adroitly on the toads, that the larks tore out
their eyes with their claws, before Furious had time to come to the
rescue of her army.

The outcries of the toads and the hissing of the larks made a deafening
noise; and the fairy Drolette called out to her friends, who were
regarding the combat with terror:--

"Withdraw immediately and stop your ears!"

Which was done instantly, in obedience to her command.

The fairy Furious made one last effort. She guided her blinded toads in
such a way as to meet the larks face to face, and to dart their venom
upon them.

But Drolette rose higher and higher in the air and Furious found herself
always under her sister's chariot.

At last, unable to contain her rage, Furious cried out:--

"You are assisted by the queen of the fairies, an old fool whom I should
gladly see in the lower regions!"

Scarcely had she pronounced these words when her chariot fell heavily to
the earth. The toads perished and the chariot disappeared. The fairy
Furious only remained, in the form of an enormous toad. She wished to
speak but she could only bellow and snuffle. She gazed at Drolette and
her larks--at Prince Marvellous, Violette and Agnella, in a transport of
rage but her power was destroyed.

The fairy Drolette lowered her chariot, descended to the earth and
said:--

"The queen of the fairies has punished you for your audacity, sister.
Repent, if you wish to obtain pardon."

The only answer of Furious was to spit forth her poisonous venom, which
happily reached no one.

Drolette extended her wand towards her and said:

"I command you to disappear and never to appear again to the prince
Marvellous, to Violette or to their mother."

Drolette had scarcely uttered these words when the toad disappeared;
there remained no vestige of the chariot or of herself.

Drolette remained some time motionless. She passed her hand over her
brow, as if to chase away a sad thought; then approaching Prince
Marvellous, she said to him:--

"Prince, the title which I give you indicates your birth. You are the
son of King Ferocious and the queen Aimee, concealed till now under the
appearance of a modest farmer woman. The name of your father
sufficiently indicates his character. Your mother having prevented him
from killing his brother Indolent and his sister-in-law Nonchalante, he
turned his rage against her. I was her protectress, and carried her off
with her faithful Passerose in a cloud.

"And you, Princess Violette, your birth is equal to that of Prince
Marvellous. Your father and mother were that same King Indolent and
Queen Nonchalante who, saved once by Queen Aimee, became at last the
victims of King Ferocious and their own apathy. Since that time King
Ferocious has been killed by his subjects who could no longer support
his cruel yoke.

"They expect you, prince, to reign over them. I have revealed to them
your existence and I have promised them that you will take a wife worthy
of you. You can select from the twelve princesses whom your father
retained captive after having slain their parents. They are all wise and
beautiful and each has a kingdom for her marriage portion."

Surprise had kept Prince Marvellous silent. At the last words of the
fairy he turned towards Violette, and seeing that she was weeping, he
said:--

"Why do you weep, my Violette? Do you fear that I will blush for
you--that I will not dare to testify before my whole court the
tenderness with which you inspire me? That I will conceal what you have
done for me or forget the bonds which attach me to you for ever? Can you
believe that I will be ungrateful enough to seek any other affection
than yours and fill your place by any of those princesses held captive
by my father? No, dearest Violette! Until this time I have seen in you
only a sister but from this moment you are the companion of my life, my
sole friend, my wife!"

"Your wife, dear brother? That is impossible! How can you seat upon your
throne a creature so repulsive as your poor Violette? How will you dare
to brave the raillery of your subjects and of the neighboring kings? And
how could I show my deformity in the midst of the festivals given on
your return to your kingdom? No, no, my brother! Let me live near you,
near to your mother, alone, unknown, covered with a veil. I cannot be
your wife! No one shall blame you for having made so sad a choice."

The prince insisted long and firmly. Violette could scarcely control her
emotions but she resisted with as much resolution as devotion. Agnella
said nothing. She would have been willing that her son should accept
even this last sacrifice from poor Violette and simply allow her to
live near to them but hidden from the world.

Passerose wept and in a low tone encouraged the prince in his
determination.

"Violette," said the prince, at last, "since you absolutely refuse to
ascend the throne with me, I abandon it and all royal power in order to
live with you as before in solitude and happiness. Without your sweet
presence, the sceptre would be a heavy burden; with you at my side, our
little farm will be a paradise! Say, dear Violette, shall it be so?"

"Yes, dear brother, you have triumphed; let us live as we have lived so
many years: modest in our lives, happy in our affections."

"Noble prince and generous princess," said the fairy, "you shall be
recompensed for this rare and devoted tenderness. Prince, in the well to
which I carried you during the fire, there is a priceless treasure for
Violette and yourself. Descend into the well, seek for it, and when you
have found it bring it to me. I will teach you its value."

The prince did not wait to be told a second time; he ran towards the
well; the ladder was still there and he descended. On arriving at the
bottom, he saw nothing but the carpet which had been there from the
first; he searched the walls of the well, but saw no indication of
treasure. Finally he raised the carpet, and perceived a black stone with
a ring attached; he raised the stone and discovered a casket which
glittered like a constellation.

"This must contain the treasure spoken of by the fairy," said he.

The prince seized the casket; it was as light as a nutshell. He ascended
the ladder hastily, holding the casket carefully in his arms.

They were awaiting his return with impatience. He handed the casket to
the fairy. Agnella exclaimed:--

"This is the same casket you confided to me, madam, and which I supposed
I had lost in the fire."

"It is the same," replied the fairy. "Here is the key; open it, prince."

Prince Marvellous hastened to open it. But who can describe the general
disappointment, when, in place of some rich treasure which they supposed
it contained, they found only the bracelets which Violette had worn when
her cousin found her sleeping in the wood, and a vial of perfumed oil!

The fairy looked from one to the other, and enjoyed their surprise and
consternation. She took the bracelets and gave them to Violette.

"This is my bridal present, my dear child; every one of these diamonds
has the property of guarding from all evil influences the person who
wears it, and of endowing its wearer with every virtue, enormous riches
and resplendent beauty, with wit, intellect and all desirable happiness.
Use them for the children who will be born of your union with Prince
Marvellous.

"As to this vial of perfumed oil, it is the wedding gift of the prince
your cousin. I know you love perfumes, this has peculiar virtues; use it
to-day. To-morrow I will return to seek you and carry you all to your
kingdom," she said.

"I renounce my kingdom, madam," said Ourson.

"Who will govern your people?" said Agnella.

"You, my mother, if you are willing," replied Ourson.

The queen was about to refuse, when the fairy interfered.

"We will speak of this to-morrow," said she. "You, madam, I know, desire
to accept the crown which you are about to refuse. I forbid you,
however, to accept it before my return. And you, dear and amiable
prince," added she, in a sweet voice, accompanied with an affectionate
glance, "I forbid you to repeat this offer before my return. Adieu till
to-morrow. When you are truly happy, my dear children, think kindly of
your friend the fairy Drolette."

The fairy ascended her chariot. The larks flew like lightning and she
soon disappeared, leaving behind her a delicious perfume.



THE RECOMPENSE


Prince Marvellous looked at Violette and sighed heavily; Violette gazed
at the prince and smiled sweetly.

"How handsome you are, my dear cousin! I am so happy to have it in my
power to restore you your beauty. And now I will pour some of this
perfumed oil upon my hands; since I cannot please your eye, I will at
least embalm you," said she, laughing.

She uncorked the vial, and entreated Marvellous to sprinkle some drops
on her forehead and cheeks. The heart of the prince was too full for
words. He took the vial and obeyed the order of his cousin. Their
surprise and joy were indescribable on seeing that as soon as the oil
touched Violette's forehead the hair disappeared and her skin resumed
its original purity and dazzling whiteness.

The prince and Violette, on seeing the virtue of this wonderful oil,
uttered loud cries of delight and ran towards the stable where they saw
Agnella and Passerose. They called their attention to the happy effect
of this perfumed oil given them by the fairy. Both joined in their
happiness. The prince could scarcely believe the evidence of his senses.
And now nothing could prevent his union with Violette, so good, so
devoted, so tender, so lovely, so well constituted to make him supremely
happy.

The queen thought of the morrow--of her return to her kingdom, which she
had abandoned twenty years ago. She wished that she herself, that
Violette, that her son the prince had clothing worthy of so great an
occasion but, alas! she had neither the time nor the means to procure
them: they would therefore be compelled to wear their coarse clothing,
and thus show themselves to their people. Violette and Marvellous
laughed at this distress of their mother.

"Do you not think, mamma," said Violette, "that our dear prince is
sufficiently adorned with his rare beauty and that a rich and royal robe
would not make him more beautiful or more amiable?"

"And do you not agree with me, my dear mother," said Marvellous, "in
thinking that our dear Violette is lovely enough in the simplest
clothing, that the lustre of her eyes surpasses the most brilliant
diamonds, that the clear whiteness of her teeth rivals successfully the
rarest pearls, that the richness of her blonde hair surpasses a crown of
brilliants?"

"Yes, yes, my children," replied Agnella, "without doubt, you are both
of you handsome and attractive but a rich dress spoils nothing, not even
beauty. Jewels, embroidery and heavy brocades would detract nothing from
your charms. And I who am old----"

"But not ugly, madam," interrupted Passerose, hastily. "You are still
amiable and handsome, in spite of your little country cap, your skirts
of coarse striped cloth, your waist of red camlet and your stomacher of
simple cloth. Besides, when you return to your kingdom, you can buy
every kind of dress your heart desires."

The evening passed away gayly and there seemed no anxiety about the
future. The fairy had provided their supper; they passed the night on
the bundles of hay in the stable and as they were all fatigued by the
emotions of the day they slept profoundly. The sun had been shining a
long time and the fairy Drolette was with them, before they awoke.

A soft "Hem! hem!" of the fairy aroused them. The prince was the first
to open his eyes; he threw himself on his knees before the fairy and
thanked her with such warmth and gratitude that her heart was touched.

Violette was on her knees by his side and joining her thanks to those of
the prince.

"I do not doubt your gratitude, dear children," said the fairy; "but I
have much to do. I am expected in the kingdom of the king Benin where I
am to attend at the birth of the third son of the princess Blondine.
This prince is to be the husband of your first daughter, Prince
Marvellous, and I am resolved to endow him with all the qualities which
will obtain for him the warm love of your daughter. And now I must
conduct you to your kingdom; I will return in time to be present at your
wedding. Queen," she continued, turning to Aimee, who was now just
opening her eyes, "we are about to set out immediately for your son's
kingdom. Are you and your faithful Passerose ready for the journey?"

"Madam," replied the queen, with a slight embarrassment, "we are ready
to follow you but will you not blush for our dress, so little worthy of
our rank?"

"It is not I who will blush, queen," said the fairy, smiling, "but
rather yourself who have this sensation of shame. But I will remedy this
evil also."

Saying this, she described a circle with her wand above the head of the
queen, who in the same moment found herself clothed in a robe of gold
brocade. Upon her head was a hat with splendid plumes, fastened with a
band of superb diamonds and her boots were of velvet, spangled with
gold.

Aimee looked at her robe with an air of complaisance.

"And Violette and my son the prince, will you not extend your goodness
to them also?"

"Violette and the prince have asked for nothing. I will do as they wish.
Speak, Violette, do you desire to change your costume?"

"Madam," replied Violette, casting down her sweet eyes and blushing, "I
have been sufficiently happy in this robe of simple cloth. In this
costume my brother knew me and loved me. Permit me to continue to wear
it as far as regard for my station allows and allow me to preserve it
always in remembrance of the happy years of my childhood."

The prince thanked Violette for these sweet words, and pressed her hand
tenderly.

The fairy kindly nodded her approval and called for her chariot, which
was waiting a few steps from them. She entered and placed the queen next
herself, then the prince, Violette and Passerose.

In less than an hour the larks had flown over the three thousand leagues
which separated them from the kingdom of Prince Marvellous. All his
court and all his subjects, apprised beforehand by the fairy, expected
him. The streets and the palaces were filled by the eager, happy crowd.

When the chariot appeared in sight, the people uttered cries of joy
which were redoubled when it drew up before the great entrance of the
palace, when they saw descend Queen Aimee, a little older, no doubt, but
still pretty and gracious, and the Prince Marvellous, whose natural
beauty and grace were enhanced by the splendor of his clothing,
glittering with gold and precious stones, which were also a present from
the fairy.

But the acclamations arose to frenzy when the prince, taking Violette
by the hand, presented her to the people.

Her sweet, attractive countenance, her superb and elegant form, were
adorned with a dress with which the fairy had clothed her by one stroke
of her wand.

Her robe was of gold lace, while her waist, her arms and shoulders shone
with innumerable larks formed of diamonds larger than humming-birds. On
her graceful head she wore a crown of larks made of precious stones of
all colors. Her countenance, soft but gay, her grace, her beauty, won
the hearts of all.

For a long time nothing was heard but shouts of "Long live King
Marvellous! Long live Queen Violette!" The noise and tumult were so
great that many persons became deaf. The good fairy, who desired that
only joy and happiness should prevail throughout the kingdom on this
auspicious day, cured them instantly at the request of Violette.

There was a magnificent feast spread for the court and the people. A
million, three hundred and forty-six thousand, eight hundred and
twenty-two persons dined at the expense of the fairy and each guest was
permitted to carry away enough for eight days.

During the repast the fairy set off for the kingdom of King Benin,
promising to return in time for the wedding of Marvellous and Violette.
During the eight days of the fairy's absence Marvellous, who saw that
his mother was a little sad at not being queen, entreated her earnestly
to accept Violette's kingdom and she consented to reign there on
condition that King Marvellous and Queen Violette would come every year
and pass three months with her.

Queen Aimee, before parting with her children, wished to witness their
marriage. The fairy Drolette and many other fairies of her acquaintance
and many genii were invited to the marriage. They all received the most
magnificent presents, and were so satisfied with the welcome given them
by King Marvellous and Queen Violette that they graciously promised to
return whenever they were invited.

Two years afterwards they received an invitation to be present at the
birth of the first child of King Marvellous. There came to Queen
Violette a daughter, who, like her mother, was a marvel of goodness and
beauty.

The king and queen could not fulfil the promise they had made to Queen
Aimee. One of the genii who had been invited to the wedding of
Marvellous and Violette, found in Queen Aimee so much of goodness,
sweetness, and beauty, that he loved her, and, visiting her several
times in her new kingdom and being affectionately and graciously
received by her, he carried her off one day in a whirlwind. Queen Aimee
wept for a while but as she loved the genius she was not inconsolable;
indeed, she promptly consented to wed him. The king of the genii granted
to her as a wedding present the power of participating in all the
privileges of her husband: never to die, never to grow old and the
ability to transport herself in the twinkling of an eye wherever she
wished to go. Aimee used this power very often to visit her son and his
children.

King Marvellous and Queen Violette had eight sons and four daughters and
they were all charming. They were happy, without doubt, for they loved
each other tenderly and their grandmother, who, it was said spoiled them
a little induced their grandfather, the genius Bienveillant, to
contribute all in his power to their happiness. Consequently, they
received many rich gifts.

Passerose, who was warmly attached to Queen Aimee, had followed her into
her new kingdom but when the genius carried her off in a whirlwind,
Passerose, seeing herself forgotten and not being able to follow her
mistress was so sad in the loneliness caused by the departure of Aimee,
that she prayed the fairy Drolette to transport her to the kingdom of
King Marvellous and Queen Violette. She remained with them and took care
of their children to whom she often recounted the adventures of Ourson
and Violette. She still remains, it is said, though the genius and his
queen have made her many excuses for not having carried her off in the
whirlwind.

"No, no," Passerose replied to all these explanations; "let us remain as
we are. You forgot me once--you might forget me another time. Here, my
dear Ourson and my sweet Violette never forget their old nurse. I love
them and I will remain with them. They loved me and they will take care
of me."

The farmer, the superintendent, and the master of the forge who had been
so cruel to Ourson were severely punished by the fairy Drolette.

The farmer was devoured by a bear, some hours after he had chased away
Ourson.

The superintendent was dismissed by his master for having let loose the
dogs, who escaped and never could be found. The same night he was bitten
by a venomous serpent and expired some moments afterwards.

The master of the forge having reprimanded his workmen too brutally,
they resolved upon vengeance: seized him and cast him into the blazing
furnace where he perished miserably.





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