THE FAIRY TALES OF CHARLES PERRAULT
Illustrated by Harry Clarke
With an Introduction by Thomas Bodkin
George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 2 & 3 Portsmouth Street Kingsway London. W.C.2.
First published August 1922
LITTLE RED RIDING-HOOD 21
THE FAIRY 27
BLUE BEARD 35
THE SLEEPING BEAUTY IN THE WOOD 47
THE MASTER CAT; OR, PUSS IN BOOTS 67
CINDERILLA; OR, THE LITTLE GLASS SLIPPER 77
RIQUET WITH THE TUFT 93
LITTLE THUMB 109
THE RIDICULOUS WISHES 127
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
CINDERILLA AND HER PRINCE Frontispiece
"HE ASKED HER WHITHER SHE WAS GOING" facing 24
"'WHAT IS THIS I SEE?' SAID HER MOTHER" 28
"'AM I COME HITHER TO SERVE YOU WITH WATER, PRAY?'" facing 30
"'WHAT, IS NOT THE KEY OF MY CLOSET AMONG THE REST?'" 36
"THIS MAN HAD THE MISFORTUNE TO HAVE A BLUE BEARD" facing 38
"AT THIS VERY INSTANT THE YOUNG FAIRY CAME OUT FROM BEHIND THE HANGINGS" 48
THE PRINCE ENQUIRES OF THE AGED COUNTRYMAN facing 54
"HE SAW, UPON A BED, THE FINEST SIGHT WAS EVER BEHELD" facing 56
"'I WILL HAVE IT SO,' REPLIED THE QUEEN, 'AND WILL EAT HER WITH SAUCE ROBERT'" 59
"THE MARQUIS GAVE HIS HAND TO THE PRINCESS, AND FOLLOWED THE KING, WHO WENT UP FIRST" facing 74
"AWAY SHE DROVE, SCARCE ABLE TO CONTAIN HERSELF FOR JOY" 78
"ANY ONE BUT CINDERILLA WOULD HAVE DRESSED THEIR HEADS AWRY" facing 80
"SHE LEFT BEHIND ONE OF HER GLASS SLIPPERS, WHICH THE PRINCE TOOK UP MOST CAREFULLY" 87
"THE PRINCE BELIEVED HE HAD GIVEN HER MORE WITH THAN HE HAD RESERVED FOR HIMSELF" 99
"RIQUET WITH THE TUFT APPEARED TO HER THE FINEST PRINCE UPON EARTH" facing 104
"LITTLE THUMB WAS AS GOOD AS HIS WORD, AND RETURNED THAT SAME NIGHT WITH THE NEWS" 110
"HE BROUGHT THEM HOME BY THE VERY SAME WAY THEY CAME" facing 112
"JUPITER APPEARED BEFORE HIM WIELDING HIS MIGHTY THUNDERBOLTS" 128
"A LONG BLACK PUDDING CAME WINDING AND WRIGGLING TOWARDS HER" facing 130
"TRUTH TO TELL, THIS NEW ORNAMENT DID NOT SET OFF HER BEAUTY" 133
"ANOTHER GOWN THE COLOUR OF THE MOON" 138
"HE THOUGHT THE PRINCESS WAS HIS QUEEN" 143
"CURIOSITY MADE HIM PUT HIS EYE TO THE KEYHOLE" facing 150
"Avec ardeur il aima les beaux arts."
Charles Perrault must have been as charming a fellow as a man could meet. He was one of the best-liked personages of his own great age, and he has remained ever since a prime favourite of mankind. We are fortunate in knowing a great deal about his varied life, deriving our knowledge mainly from D'Alembert's history of the French Academy and from his own memoirs, which were written for his grandchildren, but not published till sixty-six years after his death. We should, I think, be more fortunate still if the memoirs had not ceased in mid-career, or if their author had permitted himself to write of his family affairs without reserve or restraint, in the approved manner of modern autobiography. We should like, for example, to know much more than we do about the wife and the two sons to whom he was so devoted.
Perrault was born in Paris in 1628, the fifth son of Pierre Perrault, a prosperous parliamentary lawyer; and, at the age of nine, was sent to a day-school—the College de Beauvais. His father helped him with his lessons at home, as he himself, later on, was accustomed to help his own children. He can never have been a model schoolboy, though he was always first in his class, and he ended his school career prematurely by quarrelling with his master and bidding him a formal farewell.
The cause of this quarrel throws a bright light on Perraults subsequent career. He refused to accept his teacher's philosophical tenets on the mere ground of their traditional authority. He claimed that novelty was in itself a merit, and on this they parted. He did not go alone. One of his friends, a boy called Beaurain, espoused his cause, and for the next three or four years the two read together, haphazard, in the Luxembourg Gardens. This plan of study had almost certainly a bad effect on Beaurain, for we hear no more of him. It certainly prevented Perrault from being a thorough scholar, though it made him a man of taste, a sincere independent, and an undaunted amateur.
In 1651 he took his degree at the University of Orleans, where degrees were given with scandalous readiness, payment of fees being the only essential preliminary. In the mean-time he had walked the hospitals with some vague notion of following his brother Claude into the profession of medicine, and had played a small part as a theological controversialist in the quarrel then raging, about the nature of grace, between the Jesuits and the Jansenists. Having abandoned medicine and theology he got called to the Bar, practised for a while with distinct success, and coquetted with a notion of codifying the laws of the realm. The Bar proved too arid a profession to engage for long his attention; so he next sought and found a place in the office of another brother, Pierre, who was Chief Commissioner of Taxes in Paris. Here Perrault had little to do save to read at large in the excellent library which his brother had formed.
For want of further occupation he returned to the writing of verse, one of the chief pleasures of his boyhood. His first sustained literary effort had been a parody of the sixth book of the "Aeneid"; which, perhaps fortunately for his reputation, was never published and has not survived. Beaurain and his brother Nicholas, a doctor of the Sorbonne, assisted him in this perpetration, and Claude made the pen-and-ink sketches with which it was illustrated. In the few years that had elapsed since the writing of this burlesque Perrault had acquired more sense and taste, and his new poems—in particular the "Portrait d'Iris" and the "Dialogue entre l'Amour et l'Amitie"—were found charming by his contemporaries. They were issued anonymously, and Quinault, himself a poet of established reputation, used some of them to forward his suit with a young lady, allowing her to think that they were his own. Perrault, when told of Quinault's pretensions, deemed it necessary to disclose his authorship; but, on hearing of the use to which his work had been put, he gallantly remained in the background, forgave the fraud, and made a friend of the culprit.
Architecture next engaged his attention, and in 1657 he designed a house at Viry for his brother and supervised its construction. Colbert approved so much of this performance that he employed him in the superintendence of the royal buildings and put him in special charge of Versailles, which was then in process of erection. Perrault flung himself with ardour into this work, though not to the exclusion of his other activities. He wrote odes in honour of the King; he planned designs for Gobelin tapestries and decorative paintings; he became a member of the select little Academy of Medals and Inscriptions which Colbert brought into being to devise suitable legends for the royal palaces and monuments; he encouraged musicians and fought the cause of Lulli; he joined with Claude in a successful effort to found the Academy of Science.
Claude Perrault had something of his brother's versatility and shared his love for architecture, and the two now became deeply interested in the various schemes which were mooted for the completion of the Louvre. Bernini was summoned by the King from Rome, and entrusted with the task; but the brothers Perrault intervened. Charles conceived the idea of the great east front and communicated it to Claude, who drew the plans and was commissioned to carry them out. The work was finished in 1671, and is still popularly known as Perrault's Colonnade.
In the same year Charles was elected to the Academy without any personal canvas on his part for the honour. His inaugural address was heard with such approval that he ventured to suggest that the inauguration of future members should be a public function. The suggestion was adopted, and these addresses became the most famous feature of the Academy's proceedings and are so to the present day. This was not his only service to the Academy, for he carried a motion to the effect that future elections should be by ballot; and invented and provided, at his own expense, a ballot-box which, though he does not describe it, was probably the model of those in use in all modern clubs and societies.
The novelty of his views did not always commend them to his brother 'Immortals.' Those expressed in his poem "Le Siecle de Louis XIV," which he read as an Academician of sixteen years' standing, initiated one of the most famous and lasting literary quarrels of the era. Perrault, in praising the writers of his own age, ventured to disparage some of the great authors of the ancient classics. Boileau lashed himself into a fury of opposition and hurled strident insults against the heretic. Racine, more adroit, pretended to think that the poem was a piece of ingenious irony. Most men of letters hastened to participate in the battle. No doubt Perrault's position was untenable, but he conducted his defence with perfect temper and much wit; and Boileau made himself not a little absurd by his violence and his obvious longing to display the extent of his learning. Perrault's case is finally stated in his four volumes, "Le Parallele des Anciens et des Modernes," which were published in 1688-1696. He evidently took vastly more pride in this dull and now almost forgotten work than in the matchless stories which have made him famous for ever.
After twenty years in the service of Colbert, the sun of Perrault's fortunes passed its zenith. His brother, the Commissioner of Taxes, had a dispute with the Minister and was disgraced. Then Perrault got married to a young lady of whom we know nothing except that her marriage was the subject of some opposition from his powerful employer. In a matter of the sort Perrault, though a courtier, could be relied on to consider no wishes save those of his future wife and himself. Colbert's own influence with the King became shaky, and this affected his temper. So Perrault, then just fifty-five, slid quietly from his service in the year 1683.
Before he went, he succeeded in frustrating a project for closing the Tuileries Gardens against the people of Paris and their children. Colbert proposed to reserve them to the royal use, but Perrault persuaded him to come there one day for a walk, showed him the citizens taking the air and playing with their children; got the gardeners to testify that these privileges were never abused, and carried his point by declaring, finally, that "the King's pleasaunce was so spacious that there was room for all his children to walk there."
Sainte-Beuve, seventy years ago, pleaded that this service to the children of Paris should be commemorated by a statue of Perrault in the centre of the Tuileries. The statue has never been erected; and, to the present day, Paris, so plentifully provided with statues and pictures of the great men of France, has neither the one nor the other to show that she appreciates the genius of Perrault. Indeed, there is no statue of him in existence; and the only painting of him with which I am acquainted is a doubtful one hung far away in an obscure corner of the palace of Versailles.
The close of Perrault's official career marked the beginning of his period of greatest literary activity. In 1686 he published his long narrative poem "Saint Paulin Evesque de Nole" with "a Christian Epistle upon Penitence" and "an Ode to the Newly-converted," which he dedicated to Bossuet. Between the years 1688 and 1696 appeared the "Parallele des Anciens et des Modernes" to which I have already referred. In 1693 he brought out his "Cabinet des Beaux Arts," beautifully illustrated by engravings, and containing a poem on painting which even Boileau condescended to admire. In 1694 he published his "Apologie des Femmes." He wrote two comedies—"L'Oublieux" in 1691, and "Les Fontanges." These were not printed till 1868. They added nothing to his reputation. Between 1691 and 1697 were composed the immortal "Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passe" and the "Contes en Vers." Toward the end of his life he busied himself with the "Eloges des Hommes Illustres du Siecle de Louis XIV." The first of these two stately volumes came out in 1696 and the second in 1700. They were illustrated by a hundred and two excellent engravings, including one, by Edelinck, of Perrault himself and another of his brother Claude. These biographies are written with kindly justice, and form a valuable contribution to the history of the reign of the Roi Soleil. I have not exhausted the list of Perrault's writings, but, to speak frankly, the rest are not worth mentioning.
He died, aged seventy-five, in 1703, deservedly admired and regretted by all who knew him. This was not strange. For he was clever, honest, courteous, and witty. He did his duty to his family, his employer, his friends, and to the public at large. In an age of great men, but also of great prejudices, he fought his own way to fame and fortune. He served all the arts, and practised most of them. Painters, writers, sculptors, musicians, and men of science all gladly made him free of their company. As a good Civil Servant he was no politician, and he showed no leaning whatever toward what was regarded in his time as the greatest of all professions—that of arms. These two deficiencies, if deficiencies they be, only endear him the more to us. Every one likes a man who deserves to enjoy life and does, in fact, enjoy it. Perrault was such a man. He was more. He was the cause of enjoyment to countless of his fellows, and his stories still promise enjoyment to countless others to come.
It is amazing to remember that Perrault was rather ashamed of his "Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passe"—perhaps better known as "Les Contes de ma Mere l'Oye," or "Mother Goose's Tales," from the rough print which was inserted as a frontispiece to the first collected edition in 1697. He would not even publish them in his own name. They were declared to be by P. Darmancour, Perrault's young son. In order that the secret might be well kept, Perrault abandoned his usual publisher, Coignard, and went to Barbin. The stories had previously appeared from time to time, anonymously, in Moetjens' little magazine the "Recueil," which was published from The Hague. "La Belle au Bois Dormant" ("Sleeping Beauty") was the first: and in rapid succession followed "Le Petit Chaperon Rouge" ("Red Riding-Hood"), "Le Maistre Chat, ou le Chat Botte" ("Puss in Boots"), "Les Fees" ("The Fairy"), "Cendrillon, ou la Petite Pantoufle de Verre" ("Cinderella"), "Riquet a la Houppe" ("Riquet of the Tuft"), and "Le Petit Poucet" ("Tom Thumb").
Perrault was not so shy in admitting the authorship of his three verse stories—"Griselidis," "Les Souhaits Ridicules," and "Peau d'Asne." The first appeared, anonymously it is true, in 1961; but, when it came to be reprinted with "Les Souhaits Ridicules" and "Peau d'Asne" in 1695, they were entrusted to the firm of Coignard and described as being by "Mr Perrault, de l'Academie Francoise." La Fontaine had made a fashion of this sort of exercise.
It would not be fair to assume that P. Darmancour had no connection whatever with the composition of the stories which bore his name. The best of Perrault's critics, Paul de St Victor and Andrew Lang among others, see in the book a marvellous collaboration of crabbed age and youth. The boy, probably, gathered the stories from his nurse and brought them to his father, who touched them up, and toned them down, and wrote them out. Paul Lacroix, in his fine edition of 1886, goes as far as to attribute the entire authorship of the prose tales to Perrault's son. He deferred, however, to universal usage when he entitled his volume "Les Contes en prose de Charles Perrault."
"Les Contes du Temps Passe" had an immediate success. Imitators sprung up at once by the dozen, and still persist; but none of them has ever rivalled, much less surpassed, the inimitable originals. Every few years a new and sumptuous edition appears in France. The best are probably those by Paul Lacroix and Andre le Fevre.
The stories soon crossed the Channel; and a translation "by Mr Samber, printed for J. Pote" was advertised in the "Monthly Chronicle" of 1729. "Mr Samber" was presumably one Robert Samber of New Inn, who translated other tales from the French, for Edmond Curl the bookseller, about this time. No copy of the first edition of his Perrault is known to exist. Yet it won a wide popularity, as is shown by the fact that there was a seventh edition published in 1795, for J. Rivington, a bookseller, of Pearl Street, New York.
No English translation of Perrault's fairy tales has attained unquestioned literary pre-eminence. So the publishers of the present book have thought it best to use Samber's translation, which has a special interest of its own in being almost contemporary with the original. The text has been thoroughly revised and corrected by Mr J. E. Mansion, who has purged it of many errors without detracting from its old-fashioned quality. To Mr Mansion also is due the credit for the translation of the "Les Souhaits Ridicules" and for the adaptation of "Peau d'Asne." "Griselidis" is excluded from this book for two good reasons; firstly, because it is an admitted borrowing by Perrault from Boccaccio; secondly, because it is not a 'fairy' tale in the true sense of the word.
It is, perhaps, unnecessary for me to add anything about Mr Clarke's illustrations. Many of the readers of this book will be already familiar with his work. Besides, I always feel that it is an impertinence to describe pictures in their presence. Mr Clarke's speak for themselves. They speak for Perrault too. It is seldom, indeed, that an illustrator enters so thoroughly into the spirit of his text. The grace, delicacy, urbanity, tenderness, and humour which went to the making of Perrault's stories must, it seems, have also gone in somewhat similar proportions to the making of these delightful drawings. I am sure that they would have given pleasure to Perrault himself.
Little Red Riding-Hood
Little Red Riding-Hood
Once upon a time, there lived in a certain village, a little country girl, the prettiest creature was ever seen. Her mother was excessively fond of her; and her grand-mother doated on her much more. This good woman got made for her a little red riding-hood; which became the girl so extremely well, that every body called her Little Red Riding-Hood.
One day, her mother, having made some girdle-cakes, said to her:
"Go, my dear, and see how thy grand-mamma does, for I hear she has been very ill, carry her a girdle-cake, and this little pot of butter."
Little Red Riding-Hood set out immediately to go to her grand-mother, who lived in another village. As she was going thro' the wood, she met with Gaffer Wolf, who had a very great mind to eat her up, but he durst not, because of some faggot-makers hard by in the forest.
He asked her whither she was going. The poor child, who did not know that it was dangerous to stay and hear a Wolf talk, said to him:
"I am going to see my grand-mamma, and carry her a girdle-cake, and a little pot of butter, from my mamma."
"Does she live far off?" said the Wolf.
"Oh! ay," answered Little Red Riding-Hood, "it is beyond that mill you see there, at the first house in the village."
"Well," said the Wolf, "and I'll go and see her too: I'll go this way, and you go that, and we shall see who will be there soonest."
The Wolf began to run as fast as he could, taking the nearest way; and the little girl went by that farthest about, diverting herself in gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and making nosegays of such little flowers as she met with. The Wolf was not long before he got to the old woman's house: he knocked at the door, tap, tap.
"Your grand-child, Little Red Riding-Hood," replied the Wolf, counterfeiting her voice, "who has brought you a girdle-cake, and a little pot of butter, sent you by mamma."
The good grand-mother, who was in bed, because she found herself somewhat ill, cry'd out:
"Pull the peg, and the bolt will fall."
The Wolf pull'd the peg, and the door opened, and then presently he fell upon the good woman, and ate her up in a moment; for it was above three days that he had not touched a bit. He then shut the door, and went into the grand-mother's bed, expecting Little Red Riding-Hood, who came some time afterwards, and knock'd at the door, tap, tap.
Little Red Riding-Hood, hearing the big voice of the Wolf, was at first afraid; but believing her grand-mother had got a cold, and was hoarse, answered:
"'Tis your grand-child, Little Red Riding-Hood, who has brought you a girdle-cake, and a little pot of butter, mamma sends you."
The Wolf cried out to her, softening his voice as much as he could, "Pull the peg, and the bolt will fall."
Little Red Riding-Hood pulled the peg, and the door opened. The Wolf seeing her come in, said to her, hiding himself under the bedclothes:
"Put the cake, and the little pot of butter upon the bread-bin, and come and lye down with me."
Little Red Riding-Hood undressed herself, and went into bed; where, being greatly amazed to see how her grand-mother looked in her night-cloaths, she said to her:
"Grand-mamma, what great arms you have got!"
"That is the better to hug thee, my dear."
"Grand-mamma, what great legs you have got!"
"That is to run the better, my child."
"Grand-mamma, what great ears you have got!"
"That is to hear the better, my child."
"Grand-mamma, what great eyes you have got!"
"It is to see the better, my child."
"Grand-mamma, what great teeth you have got!"
"That is to eat thee up."
And, saying these words, this wicked Wolf fell upon poor Little Red Riding-Hood, and ate her all up.
From this short story easy we discern What conduct all young people ought to learn. But above all, young, growing misses fair, Whose orient rosy blooms begin t'appear: Who, beauties in the fragrant spring of age, With pretty airs young hearts are apt t'engage. Ill do they listen to all sorts of tongues, Since some inchant and lure like Syrens' songs. No wonder therefore 'tis, if over-power'd, So many of them has the Wolf devour'd. The Wolf, I say, for Wolves too sure there are Of every sort, and every character. Some of them mild and gentle-humour'd be, Of noise and gall, and rancour wholly free; Who tame, familiar, full of complaisance Ogle and leer, languish, cajole and glance; With luring tongues, and language wond'rous sweet, Follow young ladies as they walk the street, Ev'n to their very houses, nay, bedside, And, artful, tho' their true designs they hide; Yet ah! these simpering Wolves! Who does not see Most dangerous of Wolves indeed they be?
There was, once upon a time, a widow, who had two daughters. The eldest was so much like her in the face and humour, that whoever looked upon the daughter saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable, and so proud, that there was no living with them. The youngest, who was the very picture of her father, for courtesy and sweetness of temper, was withal one of the most beautiful girls ever seen. As people naturally love their own likeness, this mother even doated on her eldest daughter, and at the same time had a horrible aversion for the youngest. She made her eat in the kitchen, and work continually.
Among other things, this poor child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a half off the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it. One day, as she was at this fountain, there came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let her drink.
"O ay, with all my heart, Goody," said this pretty maid; and rinsing immediately the pitcher, she took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain, and gave it to her, holding up the pitcher all the while, that she might drink the easier.
The good woman having drank, said to her:
"You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift" (for this was a Fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country-woman, to see how far the civility and good manners of this pretty girl would go). "I will give you for gift," continued the Fairy, "that at every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either a flower, or a jewel."
When this pretty girl came home, her mother scolded at her for staying so long at the fountain.
"I beg your pardon, mamma," said the poor girl, "for not making more haste," and, in speaking these words, there came out of her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two diamonds.
"What is this I see?" said her mother quite astonished, "I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the girl's mouth! How happens this, child?" (This was the first time she ever called her child.)
The poor creature told her frankly all the matter, not without dropping out infinite numbers of diamonds.
"In good faith," cried the mother, "I must send my child thither. Come hither, Fanny, look what comes out of thy sister's mouth when she speaks! Would'st not thou be glad, my dear, to have the same gift given to thee? Thou hast nothing else to do but go and draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor woman asks thee to let her drink, to give it her very civilly."
"It would be a very fine sight indeed," said this ill-bred minx, "to see me go draw water!"
"You shall go, hussey," said the mother, "and this minute."
So away she went, but grumbling all the way, taking with her the best silver tankard in the house.
She was no sooner at the fountain, than she saw coming out of the wood a lady most gloriously dressed, who came up to her, and asked to drink. This was, you must know, the very Fairy who appeared to her sister, but had now taken the air and dress of a princess, to see how far this girl's rudeness would go.
"Am I come hither," said the proud, saucy slut, "to serve you with water, pray? I suppose the silver tankard was brought purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you have a fancy."
"You are not over and above mannerly," answered the Fairy, without putting herself in a passion. "Well then, since you have so little breeding, and are so disobliging, I give you for gift, that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad."
So soon as her mother saw her coming, she cried out: "Well, daughter?"
"Well, mother?" answered the pert hussey, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and two toads.
"O mercy!" cried the mother, "what is it I see! O, it is that wretch her sister who has occasioned all this; but she shall pay for it"; and immediately she ran to beat her. The poor child fled away from her and went to hide herself in the forest, not far from thence.
The King's son, then on his return from hunting, met her, and seeing her so very pretty, asked her what she did there alone, and why she cried.
"Alas! sir, my mamma has turned me out of doors."
The King's son, who saw five or six pearls, and as many diamonds, come out of her mouth, desired her to tell him how that happened. She thereupon told him the whole story; and so the King's son fell in love with her; and, considering with himself that such a gift was worth more than any marriage-portion whatsoever in another, conducted her to the palace of the King his father, and there married her.
As for her sister, she made herself so much hated that her own mother turned her off; and the miserable wretch, having wandered about a good while without finding anybody to take her in, went to a corner in the wood and there died.
Money and jewels still, we find, Stamp strong impressions on the mind. But sweet discourse more potent riches yields; Of higher value is the pow'r it wields.
Civil behaviour costs indeed some pains, Requires of complaisance some little share; But soon or late its due reward it gains, And meets it often when we're not aware.
There was a man who had fine houses, both in town and country, a deal of silver and gold plate, embroidered furniture, and coaches gilded all over with gold. But this man had the misfortune to have a blue beard, which made him so frightfully ugly, that all the women and girls ran away from him.
One of his neighbours, a lady of quality, had two daughters who were perfect beauties. He desired of her one of them in marriage, leaving to her the choice which of the two she would bestow upon him. They would neither of them have him, and each made the other welcome of him, being not able to bear the thought of marrying a man who had a blue beard. And what besides gave them disgust and aversion, was his having already been married to several wives, and nobody ever knew what became of them.
Blue Beard, to engage their affection, took them, with the lady their mother, and three or four ladies of their acquaintance, with other young people of the neighbourhood, to one of his country seats, where they stayed a whole week. There was nothing then to be seen but parties of pleasure, hunting, fishing, dancing, mirth and feasting. Nobody went to bed, but all passed the night in playing tricks upon each other. In short, every thing succeeded so well, that the youngest daughter began to think the master of the house not to have a beard so very blue, and that he was a mighty civil gentleman. As soon as they returned home, the marriage was concluded.
About a month afterwards Blue Beard told his wife that he was obliged to take a country journey for six weeks at least, about affairs of very great consequence, desiring her to divert herself in his absence, to send for her friends and acquaintances, to carry them into the country, if she pleased, and to make good cheer wherever she was.
"Here," said he, "are the keys of the two great wardrobes, wherein I have my best furniture; these are of my silver and gold plate, which is not every day in use; these open my strong boxes, which hold my money, both gold and silver; these my caskets of jewels; and this is the master-key to all my apartments. But for this little one here, it is the key of the closet at the end of the great gallery on the ground floor. Open them all; go into all and every one of them; except that little closet which I forbid you, and forbid it in such a manner that, if you happen to open it, there will be no bounds to my just anger and resentment."
She promised to observe, very exactly, whatever he had ordered; when he, after having embraced her, got into his coach and proceeded on his journey.
Her neighbours and good friends did not stay to be sent for by the newmarried lady, so great was their impatience to see all the rich furniture of her house, not daring to come while her husband was there, because of his blue beard which frightened them. They ran thro' all the rooms, closets, and wardrobes, which were all so rich and fine, that they seemed to surpass one another.
After that, they went up into the two great rooms, where were the best and richest furniture; they could not sufficiently admire the number and beauty of the tapestry, beds, couches, cabinets, stands, tables, and looking-glasses in which you might see yourself from head to foot; some of them were framed with glass, others with silver, plain and gilded, the finest and most magnificent which were ever seen. They ceased not to extol and envy the happiness of their friend, who in the mean time no way diverted herself in looking upon all these rich things, because of the impatience she had to go and open the closet of the ground floor. She was so much pressed by her curiosity, that, without considering that it was very uncivil to leave her company, she went down a little back-stair-case, and with such excessive haste, that she had twice or thrice like to have broken her neck.
Being come to the closet door, she made a stop for some time, thinking upon her husband's orders, and considering what unhappiness might attend her if she was disobedient; but the temptation was so strong she could not overcome it. She took then the little key, and opened it trembling; but could not at first see any thing plainly, because the windows were shut. After some moments she began to perceive that the floor was all covered over with clotted blood, in which were reflected the bodies of several dead women ranged against the walls: these were all the wives whom Blue Beard had married and murdered one after another. She was like to have died for fear, and the key, which she pulled out of the lock, fell out of her hand.
* * * * *
After having somewhat recovered her senses, she took up the key, locked the door, and went up stairs into her chamber to recover herself; but she could not, so much was she frightened. Having observed that the key of the closet was stained with blood, she tried two or three times to wipe it off, but the blood would not come off; in vain did she wash it, and even rub it with soap and sand, the blood still remained, for the key was a Fairy, and she could never make it quite clean; when the blood was gone off from one side, it came again on the other.
Blue Beard returned from his journey the same evening, and said, he had received letters upon the road, informing him that the affair he went about was ended to his advantage. His wife did all she could to convince him she was extremely glad of his speedy return. Next morning he asked her for the keys, which she gave him, but with such a trembling hand, that he easily guessed what had happened.
"What," said he, "is not the key of my closet among the rest?"
"I must certainly," answered she, "have left it above upon the table."
"Fail not," said Blue Beard, "to bring it me presently."
After putting him off several times, she was forced to bring him the key. Blue Beard, having very attentively considered it, said to his wife:
"How comes this blood upon the key?"
"I do not know," cried the poor woman, paler than death.
"You do not know," replied Blue Beard; "I very well know, you were resolved to go into the closet, were you not? Mighty well, Madam; you shall go in, and take your place among the ladies you saw there."
Upon this she threw herself at her husband's feet, and begged his pardon with all the signs of a true repentance for her disobedience. She would have melted a rock, so beautiful and sorrowful was she; but Blue Beard had a heart harder than any rock.
"You must die, Madam," said he, "and that presently."
"Since I must die," answered she, looking upon him with her eyes all bathed in tears, "give me some little time to say my prayers."
"I give you," replied Blue Beard, "half a quarter of an hour, but not one moment more."
* * * * *
When she was alone, she called out to her sister, and said to her:
"Sister Anne" (for that was her name), "go up I beg you, upon the top of the tower, and look if my brothers are not coming; they promised me that they would come to-day, and if you see them, give them a sign to make haste."
Her sister Anne went up upon the top of the tower, and the poor afflicted wife cried out from time to time, "Anne, sister Anne, do you see any one coming?"
And sister Anne said:
"I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the grass growing green."
In the mean while Blue Beard, holding a great scimitar in his hand, cried out as loud as he could bawl to his wife:
"Come down instantly, or I shall come up to you."
"One moment longer, if you please," said his wife, and then she cried out very softly:
"Anne, sister Anne, dost thou see any body coming?"
And sister Anne answered:
"I see nothing but the sun, which makes a dust, and the grass growing green."
"Come down quickly," cried Blue Beard, "or I will come up to you."
"I am coming," answered his wife; and then she cried:
"Anne, sister Anne, dost thou see any one coming?"
"I see," replied sister Anne, "a great dust that comes this way."
"Are they my brothers?"
"Alas! no, my dear sister, I see a flock of sheep."
"Will you not come down?" cried Blue Beard.
"One moment longer," said his wife, and then she cried out:
"Anne, sister Anne, dost thou see nobody coming?"
"I see," said she, "two horsemen coming, but they are yet a great way off."
"God be praised," she cried presently, "they are my brothers; I am beckoning to them, as well as I can, for them to make haste."
Then Blue Beard bawled out so loud, that he made the whole house tremble. The distressed wife came down, and threw herself at his feet, all in tears, with her hair about her shoulders.
"Nought will avail," said Blue Beard, "you must die"; then, taking hold of her hair with one hand, and lifting up his scimitar with the other, he was going to take off her head.
The poor lady turning about to him, and looking at him with dying eyes, desired him to afford her one little moment to recollect herself.
"No, no," said he, "recommend thyself to God," and was just ready to strike.
At this very instant there was such a loud knocking at the gate, that Blue Beard made a sudden stop. The gate was opened, and presently entered two horsemen, who drawing their swords, ran directly to Blue Beard. He knew them to be his wife's brothers, one a dragoon, the other a musqueteer; so that he ran away immediately to save himself; but the two brothers pursued so close, that they overtook him before he could get to the steps of the porch, when they ran their swords thro' his body and left him dead. The poor wife was almost as dead as her husband, and had not strength enough to rise and welcome her brothers.
Blue Beard had no heirs, and so his wife became mistress of all his estate. She made use of one part of it to marry her sister Anne to a young gentleman who had loved her a long while; another part to buy captains' commissions for her brothers; and the rest to marry herself to a very worthy gentleman, who made her forget the ill time she had passed with Blue Beard.
O curiosity, thou mortal bane! Spite of thy charms, thou causest often pain And sore regret, of which we daily find A thousand instances attend mankind: For thou—O may it not displease the fair— A fleeting pleasure art, but lasting care. And always proves, alas! too dear the prize, Which, in the moment of possession, dies.
A very little share of common sense, And knowledge of the world, will soon evince That this a story is of time long pass'd; No husbands now such panic terrors cast; Nor weakly, with a vain despotic hand, Imperious, what's impossible, command: And be they discontented, or the fire Of wicked jealousy their hearts inspire, They softly sing; and of whatever hue Their beards may chance to be, or black, or blue, Grizeld, or russet, it is hard to say Which of the two, the man or wife, bears sway.
The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
There were formerly a King and a Queen, who were so sorry that they had no children, so sorry that it cannot be expressed. They went to all the waters in the world; vows, pilgrimages, all ways were tried and all to no purpose. At last, however, the Queen proved with child, and was brought to bed of a daughter. There was a very fine christening; and the Princess had for her godmothers all the Fairies they could find in the whole kingdom (they found seven), that every one of them might give her a gift, as was the custom of Fairies in those days, and that by this means the Princess might have all the perfections imaginable.
After the ceremonies of the christening were over, all the company returned to the King's palace, where was prepared a great feast for the Fairies. There was placed before every one of them a magnificent cover with a case of massive gold, wherein were a spoon, knife and fork, all of pure gold set with diamonds and rubies. But as they were all sitting down at table, they saw come into the hall a very old Fairy whom they had not invited, because it was above fifty years since she had been out of a certain tower, and she was believed to be either dead or inchanted. The King ordered her a cover, but could not furnish her with a case of gold as the others, because they had seven only made for the seven Fairies. The old Fairy fancied she was slighted, and muttered some threat between her teeth. One of the young Fairies, who sat by her, overheard how she grumbled; and judging that she might give the little Princess some unlucky gift, went, as soon as they rose from the table, and hid herself behind the hangings, that she might speak last, and repair, as much as possible she could, the evil which the old Fairy might intend.
In the mean while all the Fairies began to give their gifts to the Princess. The youngest gave her for gift, that she should be the most beautiful person in the world; the next, that she should have the wit of an angel; the third, that she should have a wonderful grace in every thing she did; the fourth, that she should dance perfectly well; the fifth, that she should sing like a nightingale; and the sixth, that she should play upon all kinds of music to the utmost perfection.
The old Fairy's turn coming next, with a head shaking more with spite than age, she said, that the Princess should have her hand pierced with a spindle, and die of the wound. This terrible gift made the whole company tremble, and every body fell a-crying.
At this very instant the young Fairy came out from behind the hangings, and spake these words aloud:
"Be reassured, O King and Queen; your daughter shall not die of this disaster: it is true, I have no power to undo intirely what my elder has done. The Princess shall indeed pierce her hand with a spindle; but instead of dying, she shall only fall into a profound sleep, which shall last a hundred years; at the expiration of which a king's son shall come and awake her."
The King, to avoid the misfortune foretold by the old Fairy, caused immediately proclamations to be made, whereby every-body was forbidden, on pain of death, to spin with a distaff and spindle or to have so much as any spindle in their houses.
About fifteen or sixteen years after, the King and Queen being gone to one of their houses of pleasure, the young Princess happened one day to divert herself running up and down the palace; when going up from one apartment to another, she came into a little room on the top of a tower, where a good old woman, alone, was spinning with her spindle. This good woman had never heard of the King's proclamation against spindles.
"What are you doing there, Goody?" said the Princess.
"I am spinning, my pretty child," said the old woman, who did not know who she was.
"Ha!" said the Princess, "this is very pretty; how do you do it? Give it to me, that I may see if I can do so." She had no sooner taken the spindle into her hand, than, whether being very hasty at it, somewhat unhandy, or that the decree of the Fairy had so ordained it, it ran into her hand, and she fell down in a swoon.
The good old woman not knowing very well what to do in this affair, cried out for help. People came in from every quarter in great numbers; they threw water upon the Princess's face, unlaced her, struck her on the palms of her hands, and rubbed her temples with Hungary-water; but nothing would bring her to herself.
And now the King, who came up at the noise, bethought himself of the prediction of the Fairies, and judging very well that this must necessarily come to pass, since the Fairies had said it, caused the Princess to be carried into the finest apartment in his palace, and to be laid upon a bed all embroidered with gold and silver. One would have taken her for an angel, she was so very beautiful; for her swooning away had not diminished one bit of her complexion; her cheeks were carnation, and her lips like coral; indeed her eyes were shut, but she was heard to breathe softly, which satisfied those about her that she was not dead. The King commanded that they should not disturb her, but let her sleep quietly till her hour of awakening was come.
The good Fairy, who had saved her life by condemning her to sleep a hundred years, was in the kingdom of Matakin, twelve thousand leagues off, when this accident befell the Princess; but she was instantly informed of it by a little dwarf, who had boots of seven leagues, that is, boots with which he could tread over seven leagues of ground at one stride. The Fairy came away immediately, and she arrived, about an hour after, in a fiery chariot, drawn by dragons. The King handed her out of the chariot, and she approved every thing he had done; but, as she had a very great foresight, she thought, when the Princess should awake, she might not know what to do with herself, being all alone in this old palace; and this was what she did: She touched with her wand every thing in the palace (except the King and the Queen), governesses, maids of honour, ladies of the bedchamber, gentlemen, officers, stewards, cooks, under-cooks, scullions, guards, with their beef-eaters, pages, footmen; she likewise touched all the horses which were in the stables, as well as their grooms, the great dogs in the outward court, and pretty little Mopsey too, the Princess's little spaniel-bitch, which lay by her on the bed.
Immediately upon her touching them, they all fell asleep, that they might not awake before their mistress, and that they might be ready to wait upon her when she wanted them. The very spits at the fire, as full as they could hold of partridges and pheasants, did fall asleep, and the fire likewise. All this was done in a moment. Fairies are not long in doing their business.
And now the King and the Queen, having kissed their dear child without waking her, went out of the palace, and put forth a proclamation, that nobody should dare to come near it. This, however, was not necessary; for, in a quarter of an hour's time, there grew up, all round about the park, such a vast number of trees, great and small, bushes and brambles, twining one within another, that neither man nor beast could pass thro'; so that nothing could be seen but the very top of the towers of the palace; and that too, not unless it was a good way off. Nobody doubted but the Fairy gave herein a sample of her art, that the Princess, while she continued sleeping, might have nothing to fear from any curious people.
* * * * *
When a hundred years were gone and past, the son of the King then reigning, and who was of another family from that of the sleeping Princess, being gone a-hunting on that side of the country, asked, what were those towers which he saw in the middle of a great thick wood? Every one answered according as they had heard; some said that it was a ruinous old castle, haunted by spirits; others, that all the sorcerers and witches of the country kept there their sabbath, or nights meeting. The common opinion was that an Ogre lived there, and that he carried thither all the little children he could catch, that he might eat them up at his leisure, without any-body's being able to follow him, as having himself, only, the power to pass thro' the wood.
[Footnote 1: OGRE is a giant, with long teeth and claws, with a raw head and bloody-bones, who runs away with naughty little boys and girls, and eats them up. [Note by the translator.]]
The Prince was at a stand, not knowing what to believe, when a very aged countryman spake to him thus: "May it please your Royal Highness, it is now above fifty years since I heard my father, who had heard my grandfather, say that there then was in this castle, a Princess, the most beautiful was ever seen; that she must sleep there a hundred years, and should be awaked by a king's son; for whom she was reserved." The young Prince was all on fire at these words, believing, without a moment's doubt, that he could put an end to this rare adventure; and pushed on by love and honour resolved that moment to look into it.
Scarce had he advanced towards the wood, when all the great trees, the bushes and brambles, gave way of themselves to let him pass thro'; he walked up to the castle which he saw at the end of a large avenue which he went into; and what a little surprised him was, that he saw none of his people could follow him, because the trees closed again, as soon as he had pass'd thro' them. However, he did not cease from continuing his way; a young and amorous Prince is always valiant. He came into a spacious outward court, where everything he saw might have frozen up the most fearless person with horror. There reigned over all a most frightful silence; the image of death everywhere shewed itself, and there was nothing to be seen but stretched out bodies of men and animals, all seeming to be dead. He, however, very well knew, by the ruby faces and pimpled noses of the beef-eaters, that they were only asleep; and their goblets, wherein still remained some drops of wine, shewed plainly, that they fell asleep in their cups.
He then crossed a court paved with marble, went up the stairs, and came into the guard-chamber, where the guards were standing in their ranks, with their muskets upon their shoulders, and snoring as loud as they could. After that he went through several rooms full of gentlemen and ladies, all asleep, some standing, others sitting. At last he came into a chamber all gilded with gold, where he saw, upon a bed, the curtains of which were all open, the finest sight was ever beheld: a Princess, who appeared to be about fifteen or sixteen years of age, and whose bright, and in a manner resplendent beauty, had somewhat in it divine. He approached with trembling and admiration, and fell down before her upon his knees.
And now, as the inchantment was at an end, the Princess awaked, and looking on him with eyes more tender than the first view might seem to admit of: "Is it you, my Prince," said she to him, "you have tarried long."
The Prince, charmed with these words, and much more with the manner in which they were spoken, knew not how to shew his joy and gratitude; he assured her, that he loved her better than he did himself; his discourse was not well connected, but it pleased her all the more; little eloquence, a great deal of love. He was more at a loss than she, and we need not wonder at it; she had time to think on what to say to him; for it is very probable (though history mentions nothing of it) that the good Fairy, during so long a sleep, had entertained her with pleasant dreams. In short, when they talked four hours together, they said not half what they had to say.
In the mean while, all the palace awaked; every one thought upon their particular business; and as all of them were not in love, they were ready to die for hunger; the chief lady of honour, being as sharp set as other folks, grew very impatient, and told the Princess aloud, That supper was served up. The Prince helped the Princess to rise, she was entirely dressed, and very magnificently, but his Royal Highness took care not to tell her that she was dressed like his great grand-mother, and had a point-band peeping over a high collar; she looked not a bit the less beautiful and charming for all that.
They went into the great hall of looking-glasses, where they supped, and were served by the Princess's officers; the violins and hautboys played old tunes, but very excellent, tho' it was now above a hundred years since they had been played; and after supper, without losing any time, the lord almoner married them in the chapel of the castle, and the chief lady of honour drew the curtains. They had but very little sleep; the Princess had no occasion, and the Prince left her next morning to return into the city, where his father must needs have been anxious on his account. The Prince told him that he lost his way in the forest, as he was hunting, and that he had lain at the cottage of a collier, who gave him cheese and brown bread.
The King his father, who was of an easy disposition, believed him; but his mother could not be persuaded this was true; and seeing that he went almost every day a-hunting, and that he always had some excuse ready when he had laid out three or four nights together, she no longer doubted he had some little amour, for he lived with the Princess above two whole years, and had by her two children, the eldest of which, who was a daughter, was named Aurora, and the youngest, who was a son, they called Day, because he was even handsomer and more beautiful than his sister.
The Queen said more than once to her son, in order to bring him to speak freely to her, that a young man must e'en take his pleasure; but he never dared to trust her with his secret; he feared her, tho' he loved her; for she was of the race of the Ogres, and the King would never have married her, had it not been for her vast riches; it was even whispered about the court, that she had Ogreish inclinations, and that, whenever she saw little children passing by, she had all the difficulty in the world to refrain from falling upon them. And so the Prince would never tell her one word.
But when the King was dead, which happened about two years afterwards; and he saw himself lord and master, he openly declared his marriage; and he went in great ceremony to fetch his Queen from the castle. They made a magnificent entry into the capital city, she riding between her two children.
Some time after, the King went to make war with the Emperor Cantalabutte, his neighbour. He left the government of the kingdom to the Queen his mother, and earnestly recommended to her care his wife and children. He was like to be at war all the summer, and as soon as he departed, the Queen-mother sent her daughter-in-law and her children to a country-house among the woods, that she might with the more ease gratify her horrible longing.
Some few days afterwards she went thither herself, and said to her clerk of the kitchen:
"I have a mind to eat little Aurora for my dinner to morrow."
"Ah! Madam," cried the clerk of the kitchen.
"I will have it so," replied the Queen (and this she spake in the tone of an Ogress, who had a strong desire to eat fresh meat), "and will eat her with a Sauce Robert."
[Footnote 2: This is a French sauce, made with onions shredded and boiled tender in butter, to which is added vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, and a little wine. [Note by the translator.]]
The poor man knowing very well that he must not play tricks with Ogresses, took his great knife and went up into little Aurora's chamber. She was then four years old, and came up to him jumping and laughing, to take him about the neck, and ask him for some sugar-candy. Upon which he began to weep, the great knife fell out of his hand, and he went into the back-yard, and killed a little lamb, and dressed it with such good sauce, that his mistress assured him she had never eaten anything so good in her life. He had at the same time taken up little Aurora, and carried her to his wife, to conceal her in the lodging he had at the end of the court yard.
About eight days afterwards, the wicked Queen said to the clerk of the kitchen:
"I will sup upon little Day."
He answered not a word, being resolved to cheat her, as he had done before. He went to find out little Day, and saw him with a little foil in his hand, with which he was fencing with a great monkey; the child being then only three years of age. He took him up in his arms, and carried him to his wife, that she might conceal him in her chamber along with his sister, and in the room of little Day cooked up a young kid very tender, which the Ogress found to be wonderfully good.
This was hitherto all mighty well: but one evening this wicked Queen said to her clerk of the kitchen:
"I will eat the Queen with the same sauce I had with her children."
It was now that the poor clerk of the kitchen despaired of being able to deceive her. The young Queen was turned of twenty, not reckoning the hundred years she had been asleep: her skin was somewhat tough, tho' very fair and white; and how to find in the yard a beast so firm, was what puzzled him. He took then a resolution, that he might save his own life, to cut the Queen's throat; and going up into her chamber, with intent to do it at once, he put himself into as great a fury as he could possibly, and came into the young Queen's room with his dagger in his hand. He would not, however, surprise her, but told her, with a great deal of respect, the orders he had received from the Queen-mother.
"Do it, do it," said she stretching out her neck, "execute your orders, and then I shall go and see my children, my poor children, whom I so much and so tenderly loved," for she thought them dead ever since they had been taken away without her knowledge.
"No, no, Madam," cried the poor clerk of the kitchen, all in tears, "you shall not die, and yet you shall see your children again; but it must be in my lodgings, where I have concealed them, and I shall deceive the Queen once more, by giving her in your stead a young hind."
Upon this he forthwith conducted her to his chamber; where leaving her to embrace her children, and cry along with them, he went and dressed a hind, which the Queen had for her supper, and devoured it with the same appetite, as if it had been the young Queen. Exceedingly was she delighted with her cruelty, and she had invented a story to tell the King, at his return, how ravenous wolves had eaten up the Queen his wife, and her two children.
One evening, as she was, according to her custom, rambling round about the courts and yards of the palace, to see if she could smell any fresh meat, she heard, in a ground-room little Day crying, for his mamma was going to whip him, because he had been naughty; and she heard, at the same time, little Aurora begging pardon for her brother.
The Ogress presently knew the voice of the Queen and her children, and being quite mad that she had been thus deceived, she commanded next morning, by break of day (with a most horrible voice, which made every body tremble) that they should bring into the middle of the great court a large tub, which she caused to be filled with toads, vipers, snakes, and all sorts of serpents, in order to have thrown into it the Queen and her children, the clerk of the kitchen, his wife and maid; all whom she had given orders should be brought thither with their hands tied behind them.
They were brought out accordingly, and the executioners were just going to throw them into the tub, when the King (who was not so soon expected) entered the court on horse-back (for he came post) and asked, with the utmost astonishment, what was the meaning of that horrible spectacle? No one dared to tell him; when the Ogress, all inraged to see what had happened, threw herself head-foremost into the tub, and was instantly devoured by the ugly creatures she had ordered to be thrown into it for others. The King could not but be very sorry, for she was his mother; but he soon comforted himself with his beautiful wife, and his pretty children.
To get as prize a husband rich and gay. Of humour sweet, with many years to stay, Is natural enough, 'tis true; To wait for him a hundred years, And all that while asleep, appears A thing entirely new. Now at this time of day, Not one of all the sex we see Doth sleep with such profound tranquillity: But yet this Fable seems to let us know That very often Hymen's blisses sweet, Altho' some tedious obstacles they meet, Are not less happy for approaching slow. 'Tis nature's way that ladies fair Should yearn conjugal joys to share; And so I've not the heart to preach A moral that's beyond their reach.
The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots
The Master Cat or Puss in Boots
There was a miller, who left no more estate to the three sons he had, than his Mill, his Ass, and his Cat. The partition was soon made. Neither the scrivener nor attorney were sent for. They would soon have eaten up all the poor patrimony. The eldest had the Mill, the second the Ass, and the youngest nothing but the Cat.
The poor young fellow was quite comfortless at having so poor a lot.
"My brothers," said he, "may get their living handsomely enough, by joining their stocks together; but for my part, when I have eaten up my Cat, and made me a muff of his skin, I must die with hunger."
The Cat, who heard all this, but made as if he did not, said to him with a grave and serious air:
"Do not thus afflict yourself, my good master; you have only to give me a bag, and get a pair of boots made for me, that I may scamper thro' the dirt and the brambles, and you shall see that you have not so bad a portion of me as you imagine."
Tho' the Cat's master did not build very much upon what he said, he had however often seen him play a great many cunning tricks to catch rats and mice; as when he used to hang by the heels, or hide himself in the meal, and make as if he were dead; so that he did not altogether despair of his affording him some help in his miserable condition.
When the Cat had what he asked for, he booted himself very gallantly; and putting his bag about his neck, he held the strings of it in his two fore paws, and went into a warren where was great abundance of rabbits. He put bran and sow-thistle into his bag, and stretching himself out at length, as if he had been dead, he waited for some young rabbit, not yet acquainted with the deceits of the world, to come and rummage his bag for what he had put into it.
Scarce was he lain down, but he had what he wanted; a rash and foolish young rabbit jumped into his bag, and Monsieur Puss, immediately drawing close the strings, took and killed him without pity. Proud of his prey, he went with it to the palace, and asked to speak with his Majesty. He was shewed up stairs into the King's apartment, and, making a low reverence, said to him:
"I have brought you, sir, a rabbit of the warren which my noble lord the Marquis of Carabas" (for that was the title which Puss was pleased to give his master) "has commanded me to present to your Majesty from him."
"Tell thy master," said the King, "that I thank him, and that he does me a great deal of pleasure."
Another time he went and hid himself among some standing corn, holding still his bag open; and when a brace of partridges ran into it, he drew the strings, and so caught them both. He went and made a present of these to the King, as he had done before of the rabbit which he took in the warren. The King in like manner received the partridges with great pleasure, and ordered him some money to drink.
The Cat continued for two or three months, thus to carry his Majesty, from time to time, game of his master's taking. One day in particular, when he knew for certain that the King was to take the air, along the river side, with his daughter, the most beautiful Princess in the world, he said to his master:
"If you will follow my advice, your fortune is made; you have nothing else to do, but go and wash yourself in the river, in that part I shall shew you, and leave the rest to me."
The Marquis of Carabas did what the Cat advised him to, without knowing why or wherefore.
While he was washing, the King passed by, and the Cat began to cry out, as loud as he could:
"Help, help, my lord Marquis of Carabas is drowning."
At this noise the King put his head out of his coach-window, and finding it was the Cat who had so often brought him such good game, he commanded his guards to run immediately to the assistance of his lordship the Marquis of Carabas.
While they were drawing the poor Marquis out of the river, the Cat came up to the coach, and told the King that while his master was washing, there came by some rogues, who went off with his clothes, tho' he had cried out "Thieves, thieves," several times, as loud as he could. This cunning Cat had hidden them under a great stone. The King immediately commanded the officers of his wardrobe to run and fetch one of his best suits for the lord Marquis of Carabas.
The King received him with great kindness, and as the fine clothes he had given him extremely set off his good mien (for he was well made, and very handsome in his person), the King's daughter took a secret inclination to him, and the Marquis of Carabas had no sooner cast two or three respectful and somewhat tender glances, but she fell in love with him to distraction. The King would needs have him come into his coach, and take part of the airing. The Cat, quite overjoyed to see his project begin to succeed, marched on before, and meeting with some countrymen, who were mowing a meadow, he said to them:
"Good people, you who are mowing, if you do not tell the King, that the meadow you mow belongs to my lord Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as mince-meat."
The King did not fail asking of the mowers, to whom the meadow they were mowing belonged.
"To my lord Marquis of Carabas," answered they all together; for the Cat's threats had made them terribly afraid.
"Truly a fine estate," said the King to the Marquis of Carabas.
"You see, sir," said the Marquis, "this is a meadow which never fails to yield a plentiful harvest every year."
The Master Cat, who still went on before, met with some reapers, and said to them:
"Good people, you who are reaping, if you do not tell the King that all this corn belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as mince-meat."
The King, who passed by a moment after, would needs know to whom all that corn, which he then saw, did belong. "To my lord Marquis of Carabas," replied the reapers; and the King again congratulated the Marquis.
The Master Cat, who went always before, said the same words to all he met; and the King was astonished at the vast estates of my lord Marquis of Carabas.
Monsieur Puss came at last to a stately castle, the master of which was an Ogre, the richest had ever been known; for all the lands which the King had then gone over belonged to this castle. The Cat, who had taken care to inform himself who this Ogre was, and what he could do, asked to speak with him, saying, he could not pass so near his castle, without having the honour of paying his respects to him.
The Ogre received him as civilly as an Ogre could do, and made him sit down.
"I have been assured," said the Cat, "that you have the gift of being able to change yourself into all sorts of creatures you have a mind to; you can, for example, transform yourself into a lion, or elephant, and the like."
"This is true," answered the Ogre very briskly, "and to convince you, you shall see me now become a lion."
Puss was so sadly terrified at the sight of a lion so near him, that he immediately got into the gutter, not without abundance of trouble and danger, because of his boots, which were ill-suited for walking upon the tiles. A little while after, when Puss saw that the Ogre had resumed his natural form, he came down, and owned he had been very much frightened.
"I have been moreover informed," said the Cat, "but I know not how to believe it, that you have also the power to take on you the shape of the smallest animals; for example, to change yourself into a rat or a mouse; but I must own to you, I take this to be impossible."
"Impossible?" cried the Ogre, "you shall see that presently," and at the same time changed into a mouse, and began to run about the floor.
Puss no sooner perceived this, but he fell upon him, and ate him up.
Meanwhile the King, who saw, as he passed, this fine castle of the Ogre's, had a mind to go into it. Puss, who heard the noise of his Majesty's coach running over the drawbridge, ran out and said to the King:
"Your Majesty is welcome to this castle of my lord Marquis of Carabas."
"What! my lord Marquis?" cried the King, "and does this castle also belong to you? There can be nothing finer than this court, and all the stately buildings which surround it; let us go into it, if you please."
The Marquis gave his hand to the Princess, and followed the King, who went up first. They passed into a spacious hall, where they found a magnificent collation which the Ogre had prepared for his friends, who were that very day to visit him, but dared not to enter knowing the King was there. His Majesty was perfectly charmed with the good qualities of my lord Marquis of Carabas, as was his daughter who was fallen violently in love with him; and seeing the vast estate he possessed, said to him, after having drank five or six glasses:
"It will be owing to yourself only, my lord Marquis, if you are not my son-in-law."
The Marquis making several low bows, accepted the honour which his Majesty conferred upon him, and forthwith, that very same day, married the Princess.
Puss became a great lord, and never ran after mice any more, but only for his diversion.
How advantageous it may be, By long descent of pedigree, T'enjoy a great estate, Yet knowledge how to act, we see, Join'd with consummate industry, (Nor wonder ye thereat) Doth often prove a greater boon, As should be to young people known.
If the son of a miller so soon gains the heart Of a beautiful princess, and makes her impart Sweet languishing glances, eyes melting for love, It must be remark'd of fine clothes how they move, And that youth, a good face, a good air, with good mien, Are not always indifferent mediums to win The love of the fair, and gently inspire The flames of sweet passion, and tender desire.
Cinderilla; or, The Little Glass Slipper
Cinderilla or The Little Glass Slipper
Once there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that was ever seen. She had, by a former husband, two daughters of her own humour and they were indeed exactly like her in all things. He had likewise, by another wife, a young daughter, but of unparalleled goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from her mother, who was the best creature in the world.
No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over, but the stepmother began to shew herself in her colours. She could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl; and the less, because they made her own daughters appear the more odious. She employed her in the meanest work of the house; she scoured the dishes, tables, &c. and rubbed Madam's chamber, and those of Misses, her daughters; she lay up in a sorry garret, upon a wretched straw-bed, while her sisters lay in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, upon beds of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking-glasses so large, that they might see themselves at their full length, from head to foot.
The poor girl bore all patiently, and dared not tell her father, who would have rattled her off; for his wife governed him intirely. When she had done her work, she used to go into the chimney-corner, and sit down among cinders and ashes, which made her commonly be called Cinder-breech; but the youngest, who was not so rude and uncivil as the eldest, called her Cinderilla. However, Cinderilla, notwithstanding her mean apparel, was a hundred times handsomer than her sisters, tho' they were always dressed very richly.
It happened that the King's son gave a ball, and invited all persons of fashion to it. Our young misses were also invited; for they cut a very grand figure among the quality. They were mightily delighted at this invitation, and wonderfully busy in chusing out such gowns, petticoats, and head-clothes as might best become them. This was a new trouble to Cinderilla; for it was she who ironed her sisters' linen, and plaited their ruffles; they talked all day long of nothing but how they should be dressed. "For my part," said the eldest, "I will wear my red velvet suit, with French trimming." "And I," said the youngest, "shall only have my usual petticoat; but then, to make amends for that, I will put on my gold-flowered manteau, and my diamond stomacher, which is far from being the most ordinary one in the world." They sent for the best tire-woman they could get, to make up their head-dresses, and adjust their double-pinners, and they had their red brushes, and patches from the fashionable maker.
[Footnote 3: 'Pinners' were coifs with two long side-flaps pinned on. 'Double-pinners'—with two side-flaps on each side—accurately translates the French cornettes a deux rangs.]
Cinderilla was likewise called up to them to be consulted in all these matters, for she had excellent notions, and advised them always for the best, nay and offered her service to dress their heads, which they were very willing she should do. As she was doing this, they said to her:
"Cinderilla, would you not be glad to go to the ball?"
"Ah!" said she, "you only jeer at me; it is not for such as I am to go thither."
"Thou art in the right of it," replied they, "it would make the people laugh to see a Cinder-breech at a ball."
Any one but Cinderilla would have dressed their heads awry, but she was very good, and dressed them perfectly well. They were almost two days without eating, so much they were transported with joy; they broke above a dozen of laces in trying to be laced up close, that they might have a fine slender shape, and they were continually at their looking-glass. At last the happy day came; they went to Court, and Cinderilla followed them with her eyes as long as she could, and when she had lost sight of them she fell a-crying.
Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, asked her what was the matter.
"I wish I could——, I wish I could—;" she was not able to speak the rest, being interrupted by her tears and sobbing.
This godmother of hers, who was a Fairy, said to her:
"Thou wishest thou couldest go to the ball, is it not so?"
"Y—es," cried Cinderilla, with a great sigh.
"Well," said her godmother, "be but a good girl, and I will contrive that thou shalt go." Then she took her into her chamber, and said to her:
"Run into the garden, and bring me a pumpkin."
Cinderilla went immediately to gather the finest she could get, and brought it to her godmother, not being able to imagine how this pumpkin could make her go to the ball. Her godmother scooped out all the inside of it, leaving nothing but the rind; which done, she struck it with her wand, and the pumpkin was instantly turned into a fine coach, gilded all over with gold.
She then went to look into her mouse-trap, where she found six mice all alive, and ordered Cinderilla to lift up a little the trap-door, when giving each mouse, as it went out, a little tap with her wand, the mouse was at that moment turned into a fair horse, which altogether made a very fine set of six horses of a beautiful mouse-coloured dapple-grey.
Being at a loss for a coachman, "I will go and see," says Cinderilla, "if there be never a rat in the rat-trap, that we may make a coachman of him."
"Thou art in the right," replied her godmother; "go and look."
Cinderilla brought the trap to her, and in it there were three huge rats. The Fairy made choice of one of the three, which had the largest beard, and, having touched him with her wand, he was turned into a fat jolly coachman, who had the smartest whiskers eyes ever beheld.
After that, she said to her:
"Go again into the garden, and you will find six lizards behind the watering pot; bring them to me."
She had no sooner done so, but her godmother turned them into six footmen, who skipped up immediately behind the coach, with their liveries all bedaubed with gold and silver, and clung as close behind it, as if they had done nothing else their whole lives. The Fairy then said to Cinderilla:
"Well, you see here an equipage fit to go to the ball with; are you not pleased with it?"
"O yes," cried she, "but must I go thither as I am, in these poison nasty rags?"
Her godmother only just touched her with her wand, and, at the same instant, her clothes were turned into cloth of gold and silver, all beset with jewels. This done she gave her a pair of glass-slippers, the prettiest in the whole world.
[Footnote 4: In Perrault's tale: pantoufles de verre. There is no doubt that in the medieval versions of this ancient tale Cinderilla was given pantoufles de vair—i.e., of a grey, or grey and white, fur, the exact nature of which has been a matter of controversy, but which was probably a grey squirrel. Long before the seventeenth century the word vair had passed out of use, except as a heraldic term, and had ceased to convey any meaning to the people. Thus the pantoufles de vair of the fairy tale became, in the oral tradition, the homonymous pantoufles de verre, or glass slippers, a delightful improvement on the earlier version.]
Being thus decked out, she got up into her coach; but her godmother, above all things, commanded her not to stay till after midnight, telling her, at the same time, that if she stayed at the ball one moment longer, her coach would be a pumpkin again, her horses mice, her coachman a rat, her footmen lizards, and her clothes become just as they were before.
She promised her godmother, she would not fail of leaving the ball before midnight; and then away she drove, scarce able to contain herself for joy. The King's son, who was told that a great Princess, whom nobody knew, was come, ran out to receive her; he gave her his hand as she alighted out of the coach, and led her into the hall, among all the company. There was immediately a profound silence, they left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attentive was every one to contemplate the singular beauty of this unknown new comer. Nothing was then heard but a confused noise of,
"Ha! how handsome she is! Ha! how handsome she is!"
The King himself, old as he was, could not help ogling her, and telling the Queen softly, "that it was a long time since he had seen so beautiful and lovely a creature." All the ladies were busied in considering her clothes and head-dress, that they might have some made next day after the same pattern, provided they could meet with such fine materials, and as able hands to make them.
The King's son conducted her to the most honourable seat, and afterwards took her out to dance with him: she danced so very gracefully, that they all more and more admired her. A fine collation was served up, whereof the young Prince ate not a morsel, so intently was he busied in gazing on her. She went and sat down by her sisters, shewing them a thousand civilities, giving them part of the oranges and citrons which the Prince had presented her with; which very much surprised them, for they did not know her.
While Cinderilla was thus amusing her sisters, she heard the clock strike eleven and three quarters, whereupon she immediately made a curtesy to the company, and hasted away as fast as she could.
Being got home, she ran to seek out her godmother, and after having thanked her, she said, "she could not but heartily wish she might go next day to the ball, because the King's son had desired her." As she was eagerly telling her godmother whatever had passed at the ball, her two sisters knocked at the door which Cinderilla ran and opened.
"How long you have stayed," cried she, gaping, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself as if she had been just awaked out of her sleep; she had not, however, any manner of inclination to sleep since they went from home.
"If thou hadst been at the ball," said one of her sisters, "thou wouldst not have been tired with it; there came thither the finest Princess, the most beautiful ever was seen with mortal eyes; she shewed us a thousand civilities, and gave us oranges and citrons." Cinderilla was transported with joy; she asked them the name of that Princess; but they told her they did not know it; and that the King's son was very anxious to learn it, and would give all the world to know who she was. At this Cinderilla, smiling, replied:
"She must then be very beautiful indeed; Lord! how happy have you been; could not I see her? Ah! dear Miss Charlotte, do lend me your yellow suit of cloaths which you wear every day!"
"Ay, to be sure!" cried Miss Charlotte, "lend my cloaths to such a dirty Cinder-breech as thou art; who's the fool then?"
Cinderilla, indeed, expected some such answer, and was very glad of the refusal; for she would have been sadly put to it, if her sister had lent her what she asked for jestingly.
The next day the two sisters were at the ball, and so was Cinderilla, but dressed more magnificently than before. The King's son was always by her, and never ceased his compliments and amorous speeches to her; to whom all this was so far from being tiresome, that she quite forgot what her godmother had recommended to her, so that she, at last, counted the clock striking twelve, when she took it to be no more than eleven; she then rose up, and fled as nimble as a deer.
The Prince followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind one of her glass slippers, which the Prince took up most carefully. She got home, but quite out of breath, without coach or footmen, and in her nasty old cloaths, having nothing left her of all her finery, but one of the little slippers, fellow to that she dropped. The guards at the palace gate were asked if they had not seen a Princess go out; who said, they had seen nobody go out, but a young girl, very meanly dressed, and who had more the air of a poor country wench, than a gentle-woman.
When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderilla asked them if they had been well diverted, and if the fine lady had been there. They told her, Yes, but that she hurried away immediately when it struck twelve, and with so much haste, that she dropped one of her little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world, and which the King's son had taken up; that he had done nothing but look at it during all the latter part of the ball, and that most certainly he was very much in love with the beautiful person who owned the little slipper.
What they said was very true; for a few days after, the King's son caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet, that he would marry her whose foot this slipper would just fit. They whom he employed began to try it on upon the Princesses, then the duchesses, and all the Court, but in vain. It was brought to the two sisters, who did all they possibly could to thrust their feet into the slipper, but they could not effect it.
Cinderilla, who saw all this, and knew her slipper, said to them laughing:
"Let me see if it will not fit me?"
Her sisters burst out a-laughing, and began to banter her. The gentleman who was sent to try the slipper, looked earnestly at Cinderilla, and finding her very handsome, said it was but just that she should try, and that he had orders to let every one make tryal. He invited Cinderilla to sit down, and putting the slipper to her foot, he found it went on very easily, and fitted her, as if it had been made of wax. The astonishment her two sisters were in was excessively great, but still abundantly greater, when Cinderilla pulled out of her pocket the other slipper, and put it on her foot. Thereupon, in came her godmother, who having touched, with her wand, Cinderilla's cloaths, made them richer and more magnificent than any of those she had before.
And now her two sisters found her to be that fine beautiful lady whom they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet, to beg pardon for all the ill treatment they had made her undergo. Cinderilla took them up, and as she embraced them, cried that she forgave them with all her heart, and desired them always to love her.
She was conducted to the young Prince, dressed as she was; he thought her more charming than ever, and, a few days after, married her.
Cinderilla, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with two great lords of the court.
Beauty's to the sex a treasure, Still admir'd beyond all measure, And never yet was any known, By still admiring, weary grown. But that rare quality call'd grace, Exceeds, by far, a handsome face; Its lasting charms surpass the other, And this rich gift her kind godmother Bestow'd on Cinderilla fair, Whom she instructed with such care. She gave to her such graceful mien, That she, thereby, became a queen. For thus (may ever truth prevail) We draw our moral from this tale. This quality, fair ladies, know Prevails much more (you'll find it so) T'ingage and captivate a heart, Than a fine head dress'd up with art. The fairies' gift of greatest worth Is grace of bearing, not high birth; Without this gift we'll miss the prize; Possession gives us wings to rise.
A great advantage 'tis, no doubt, to man, To have wit, courage, birth, good sense, and brain, And other such-like qualities, which we Receiv'd from heaven's kind hand, and destiny. But none of these rich graces from above, To your advancement in the world will prove If godmothers and sires you disobey, Or 'gainst their strict advice too long you stay.
Riquet with the Tuft
Riquet with the Tuft
There was, once upon a time, a Queen, who was brought to bed of a son, so hideously ugly, that it was long disputed, whether he had human form. A Fairy, who was at his birth, affirmed, he would be very lovable for all that, since he should be indowed with abundance of wit. She even added, that it would be in his power, by virtue of a gift she had just then given him, to bestow on the person he most loved as much wit as he pleased. All this somewhat comforted the poor Queen, who was under a grievous affliction for having brought into the world such an ugly brat. It is true, that this child no sooner began to prattle, but he said a thousand pretty things, and that in all his actions there was something so taking, that he charmed every-body. I forgot to tell you, that he came into the world with a little tuft of hair upon his head, which made them call him Riquet with the Tuft, for Riquet was the family name.
Seven or eight years after this, the Queen of a neighbouring kingdom was delivered of two daughters at a birth. The first-born of these was beautiful beyond compare, whereat the Queen was so very glad, that those present were afraid that her excess of joy would do her harm. The same Fairy, who had assisted at the birth of little Riquet with the Tuft, was here also; and, to moderate the Queen's gladness, she declared, that this little Princess should have no wit at all, but be as stupid as she was pretty. This mortified the Queen extreamly, but some moments afterwards she had far greater sorrow; for, the second daughter she was delivered of, was very ugly.
"Do not afflict yourself so much, Madam," said the Fairy; "your daughter shall have so great a portion of wit, that her want of beauty will scarcely be perceived."
"God grant it," replied the Queen; "but is there no way to make the eldest, who is so pretty, have some little wit?"
"I can do nothing for her, Madam, as to wit," answered the Fairy, "but everything as to beauty; and as there is nothing but what I would do for your satisfaction, I give her for gift, that she shall have the power to make handsome the person who shall best please her."
As these Princesses grew up, their perfections grew up with them; all the public talk was of the beauty of the eldest, and the wit of the youngest. It is true also that their defects increased considerably with their age; the youngest visibly grew uglier and uglier, and the eldest became every day more and more stupid; she either made no answer at all to what was asked her, or said something very silly; she was with all this so unhandy, that she could not place four pieces of china upon the mantlepiece, without breaking one of them, nor drink a glass of water without spilling half of it upon her cloaths. Tho' beauty is a very great advantage in young people, yet here the youngest sister bore away the bell, almost always, in all companies from the eldest; people would indeed, go first to the Beauty to look upon, and admire her, but turn aside soon after to the Wit, to hear a thousand most entertaining and agreeable turns, and it was amazing to see, in less than a quarter of an hour's time, the eldest with not a soul with her and the whole company crowding about the youngest. The eldest, tho' she was unaccountably dull, could not but notice it, and would have given all her beauty to have half the wit of her sister. The Queen, prudent as she was, could not help reproaching her several times, which had like to have made this poor Princess die for grief.
One day, as she retired into the wood to bewail her misfortune, she saw, coming to her, a little man, very disagreeable, but most magnificently dressed. This was the young Prince Riquet with the Tuft, who having fallen in love with her, by seeing her picture, many of which went all the world over, had left his father's kingdom, to have the pleasure of seeing and talking with her.
Overjoyed to find her thus all alone, he addressed himself to her with all imaginable politeness and respect. Having observed, after he had made her the ordinary compliments, that she was extremely melancholy, he said to her:
"I cannot comprehend, Madam, how a person so beautiful as you are, can be so sorrowful as you seem to be; for tho' I can boast of having seen infinite numbers of ladies exquisitely charming, I can say that I never beheld any one whose beauty approaches yours."
"You are pleased to say so," answered the Princess, and here she stopped.
"Beauty," replied Riquet with the Tuft, "is such a great advantage, that it ought to take the place of all things; and since you possess this treasure, I see nothing that can possibly very much afflict you."
"I had far rather," cried the Princess, "be as ugly as you are, and have wit, than have the beauty I possess, and be so stupid as I am."
"There is nothing, Madam," returned he, "shews more that we have wit, than to believe we have none; and it is the nature of that excellent quality, that the more people have of it, the more they believe they want it."
"I do not know that," said the Princess; "but I know, very well, that I am very senseless, and thence proceeds the vexation which almost kills me."
"If that be all, Madam, which troubles you, I can very easily put an end to your affliction."
"And how will you do that?" cried the Princess.
"I have the power, Madam," replied Riquet with the Tuft, "to give to that person whom I shall love best, as much wit as can be had; and as you, Madam, are that very person, it will be your fault only, if you have not as great a share of it as any one living, provided you will be pleased to marry me."
The Princess remained quite astonished, and answered not a word.
"I see," replied Riquet with the Tuft, "that this proposal makes you very uneasy, and I do not wonder at it, but I will give you a whole year to consider of it."
The Princess had so little wit, and, at the same time, so great a longing to have some, that she imagined the end of that year would never be; therefore she accepted the proposal which was made her. She had no sooner promised Riquet with the Tuft that she would marry him on that day twelvemonth, than she found herself quite otherwise than she was before; she had an incredible facility of speaking whatever she pleased, after a polite, easy, and natural manner; she began that moment a very gallant conversation with Riquet with the Tuft, wherein she tattled at such a rate, that Riquet with the Tuft believed he had given her more wit than he had reserved for himself.
When she returned to the palace, the whole Court knew not what to think of such a sudden and extraordinary change; for they heard from her now as much sensible discourse, and as many infinitely witty turns, as they had stupid and silly impertinences before. The whole Court was overjoyed at it beyond imagination; it pleased all but her younger sister; because having no longer the advantage of her in respect of wit, she appeared, in comparison of her, a very disagreeable, homely puss. The King governed himself by her advice, and would even sometimes hold a council in her apartment. The noise of this change spreading every where, all the young Princes of the neighbouring kingdoms strove all they could to gain her favour, and almost all of them asked her in marriage; but she found not one of them had wit enough for her, and she gave them all a hearing, but would not engage herself to any.
However, there came one so powerful, rich, witty and handsome, that she could not help having a good inclination for him. Her father perceived it, and told her that she was her own mistress as to the choice of a husband, and that she might declare her intentions. As the more wit we have, the greater difficulty we find to make a firm resolution upon such affairs, this made her desire her father, after having thanked him, to give her time to consider of it.
She went accidentally to walk in the same wood where she met Riquet with the Tuft, to think, the more conveniently, what she ought to do. While she was walking in a profound meditation, she heard a confused noise under her feet, as it were of a great many people who went backwards and forwards, and were very busy. Having listened more attentively, she heard one say:
"Bring me that pot"; another "Give me that kettle"; and a third, "Put some wood upon the fire."
The ground at the same time opened, and she seemingly saw under her feet, a great kitchen full of cooks, scullions, and all sorts of servants necessary for a magnificent entertainment. There came out of it a company of roasters, to the number of twenty, or thirty, who went to plant themselves in a fine alley of wood, about a very long table, with their larding pins in their hands, and skewers in their caps, who began to work, keeping time, to the tune of a very harmonious song.
The Princess, all astonished at this sight, asked them who they worked for.
"For Prince Riquet with the Tuft," said the chief of them, "who is to be married to-morrow."
The Princess was more surprised than ever, and recollecting that it was now that day twelvemonth on which she had promised to marry Riquet with the Tuft, she was like to sink into the ground.
What made her forget this was that, when she made this promise, she was very silly, and having obtained that vast stock of wit which the Prince had bestowed on her, she had intirely forgot her stupidity. She continued walking, but had not taken thirty steps before Riquet with the Tuft presented himself to her, bravely and most magnificently dressed, like a Prince who was going to be married.
"You see, Madam," said he, "I am very exact in keeping my word, and doubt not, in the least, but you are come hither to perform yours, and to make me, by giving me your hand, the happiest of men."
"I shall freely own to you," answered the Princess, "that I have not yet taken any resolution on this affair, and believe I never shall take such a one as you desire."
"You astonish me, Madam," said Riquet with the Tuft.
"I believe it," said the Princess, "and surely if I had to do with a clown, or a man of no wit, I should find myself very much at a loss. 'A Princess always observes her word,' would he say to me, 'and you must marry me, since you promised to do so.' But as he whom I talk to is the man of the world who is master of the greatest sense and judgment, I am sure he will hear reason. You know, that when I was but a fool, I could, notwithstanding, never come to a resolution to marry you; why will you have me, now I have so much judgment as you gave me, and which makes me a more difficult person than I was at that time, to come to such a resolution, which I could not then determine to agree to? If you sincerely thought to make me your wife, you have been greatly in the wrong to deprive me of my dull simplicity, and make me see things much more clearly than I did."