A Short Stories
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 serpents 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.
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 Cocks 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 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.
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 mothers 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 Henrys 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 Giants thistle will obtain for you all that is necessary. The Wolfs staff will transport you where you wish. The Cats 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.
Henrys 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 HarvestHENRY 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 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 la bored 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 mothers 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 cour age 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 fairys 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 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?
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 con ducted 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, y u 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 forever 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 *******ment. 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 fathers 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 Par fait. Everybody loved them and everyone connected with them was happy ever after.
BLONDINE grew to be seven years old and Brunette three.
The king had given Blondine a charming little carnage 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 en chanted 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 work men 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 de licious 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 ray 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 queens 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 oclock 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.
Blondines 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.
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