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Belle Belle; or, the Chevalier Fortuné - a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy

Read "Belle Belle" fairy tale for all children. "The Chevalier Fortuné" story, is a bedtime Story for kids written by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy about a very good and gentle King, but also very powerful, who always fought with the Emperor Metapa. The emperor had the castle nearby and was more powerful. In the last battle between them, Emperor Metapa won and came to the King's castle and took all his valuables. The king and his sister barely escaped the hands of the mighty Emperor. After Emperor Metapa withdrew to his castle, the King formed a new army and ordered all the sons of knights in the kingdom to enlist in his army. A noble old man who had three daughters and had lost all his wealth did not know how to get rid of the king's taxes. The nobleman's eldest daughter told her father that she would dress like a boy and go to war.

"Belle Belle; or, the Chevalier Fortuné"
a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy

Once upon a time, there was a very good, very mild, and very powerful King; but the Emperor Matapa, his neighbour, was still more powerful than he. They had waged great wars with one another. The Emperor had gained a considerable battle in the last war; and after killing or taking prisoners the greater portion of the King's officers and soldiers, he besieged his capital city, and took it thereby, making himself master of all the treasures in it. The King had scarcely time to save himself with the Dowager Queen, his sister. This Princess became a widow at a very early age; she was clever and beautiful; it is true she was proud, violent, and difficult of access.

The Emperor transported all the jewels and furniture belonging to the King to his own palace; he carried away an extraordinary number of soldiers, women, horses, and everything else that would be useful or agreeable to him: after he had depopulated the greater part of the kingdom, he returned triumphant to his own,—where he was received by the Empress and the Princess, his daughter, with a thousand demonstrations of joy. In the meantime, the defeated King was not inclined to sit down patiently under his misfortunes. He called round him a few troops, and formed by degrees a small army, to increase which as quickly as possible, he issued a proclamation, requiring all the gentlemen of his kingdom to come and serve in person, or to send one of their sons well mounted and armed, and disposed to second all his enterprises.

​There lived on the frontier an old nobleman, eighty years of age, a clever and prudent man, but so ill-used by fortune, that after having possessed much wealth, he found himself reduced almost to poverty, which he would have endured patiently, had it not been shared with him by three beautiful daughters. They were so sensible, that they never murmured at their misfortunes; and if by chance they spoke of them to their father, it was more to console him than to add to his troubles.

They lived with him free from ambition under a rustic roof. When the King's proclamation reached the ears of the old man, he called his daughters to him, and looking at them sorrowfully, said, "What can we do? The King orders all the distinguished people of his kingdom to join him, to fight against the Emperor, or condemns them to a very heavy fine, if they fail to do so. I am not in a position to pay the tax, and am therefore in a terrible dilemma; between death and ruin!" His three daughters were as much distressed as himself, but they entreated him to have a little courage, as they felt persuaded they should find some remedy for his affliction.

The next morning, the eldest daughter went to seek her father, who was walking sorrowfully in an orchard, which he attended to himself. "Sire," said she, "I am come to entreat you to permit me to set out for the army. I am of a good height, and strong enough; I will dress myself in male attire, and pass for your son; if I do not perform any heroic actions, I shall at least save you the journey, or the tax, and that is, a great deal in our situation." The Count embraced her affectionately, and at first objected to so extraordinary a proposition, but she told him so decidedly that she could see no other resource, that he at last consented.

There was nothing to be done now, but to provide clothes suitable to the personage she was to represent. Her father furnished her with arms, and gave her the best out of four of the horses he used to plough with. The adieus and regrets were affecting on each side. After travelling some days, she passed through a meadow, bordered by a quickset hedge. She saw a shepherdess in great trouble, who was endeavouring to drag one of her sheep out of a ditch, into which it had fallen. "What are you about there, good shepherdess?" said she. "Alas!" replied the shepherdess, "I am trying to save ​my sheep, which is nearly drowned, and I am so weak that I have not the strength to drag it out." "I am sorry for you," said she, and without offering her any assistance rode off. The shepherdess immediately cried out—"Good-bye, disguised beauty!" The surprise of our lovely heroine is not to be expressed. "How! is it possible," said she, "that I could be so easily detected? This old shepherdess scarcely saw me for a moment, and she knows that I am disguised! Whither am I about to go, then? I shall be found out by everybody, and if by the King, what will be my shame, and his anger?—He will think my father is a coward, who shrinks from danger." After much reflection, she determined that she would return home.

The Count and his daughters were talking of her, and counting the days of her absence, when they saw her enter. She related to them her adventure. The good man told her that he had warned her of it, and that if she had believed him, she would never have set out, because it was impossible not to discover a girl in man's clothes. All this little family was thrown into fresh embarrassment, not knowing what to do, when the second daughter, in her turn, came to seek the Count. "My sister," said she, "had never been on horseback, it is not surprising that she was discovered; with respect to myself, if you will permit me to go in her place, I dare promise that you will be satisfied with me."

All the old man could say in opposition to her intention had no effect upon her; he was forced to consent to her going; she put on another dress, took other arms, and another horse. Thus equipped, she embraced her father and sisters a thousand times, resolving to serve the King bravely: but in passing through the same meadow, where her sister had seen the shepherdess and her sheep, she perceived it at the bottom of the ditch, and the shepherdess occupied in getting it out.

"Unfortunate creature that I am," cried the old woman, "half my flock perish in this manner; if any one would but help me, I could save this animal, but everybody flies from me." "How is it, shepherdess, that you take so little care of your sheep, that you let them fall into the water?" said the fair cavalier, and without giving her any other consolation, she spurred her horse, and rode on. The old woman called ​out after her with all her might, "Good-bye, disguised beauty!" These few words distressed our Amazon very much. "What a fatality," said she, "that I also should be recognised! What happened to my sister has occurred to me. I am not more fortunate than she was; and it would be ridiculous for me to join the army with so effeminate an appearance that everybody will know what I am!" She immediately returned to her father's house, much vexed at having made so unsuccessful a journey.

Her father received her affectionately, and praised her for having had the prudence to return; but that did not prevent the renewal of his grief, with the additional reason, that he had already been put to the expense of two useless suits of clothes, and several other things. The good old man, however, kept his sorrow to himself, that he might not add to that of his daughters.

At last the youngest girl begged him in the most urgent manner to grant her the same favour he had to her sisters. "Perhaps," said she, "it is presumption in me to hope I shall succeed better than they have; but notwithstanding I should like to try. I am taller than they are; you know that I go every day hunting; this exercise qualifies one in some degree for war; and the great desire I feel to relieve you in your distress inspires me with extraordinary courage." The Count loved her much better than he did either of her sisters; she was so attentive to him that he looked upon her as his chief consolation. She read interesting stories to amuse him, nursed him in his illness, and all the game she killed was for him; so that he did all he could to change her determination, and much more so than he had done with her sisters. "Would you leave me, my dear child?" said he. "Your absence will be the death of me: if fortune should really favour you, and you should return covered with laurels, I shall not have the pleasure of witnessing them; my advanced age, and your absence, will terminate my existence." "No, my dear father," said Belle-belle, (it was thus she was named:) "do not think I shall be long away: the war will soon be over; and if I find any other means of fulfilling the King's orders, I shall not neglect them, for I venture to assert, if my absence distress you, it will be still more distressing to me." He at last consented to her request. She made herself ​a very plain suit of clothes, for those of her sisters cost so much, and the poor old Count's finances could not allow of much more expense; she was compelled also to take a very bad horse, because her two sisters had nearly crippled the two others; but all this did not discourage her. She, embraced her father; respectfully received his blessing; and mingling her tears with his, and those of her sisters, she departed.

In passing through the meadow I have already mentioned, she found the old shepherdess, who had not yet recovered her sheep, or was trying to pull another out of the middle of a deep ditch. "What are you doing there, shepherdess?" said Belle-belle, stopping. "I cannot do anything more, my Lord," replied the shepherdess. "Ever since daylight I have been trying to save this sheep; my labour has been in vain: I am so weary, I can scarcely breathe; there is hardly a day that some new misfortune does not happen to me, and I find no one to assist me."

"I am truly sorry for you," said Belle-belle; "and to prove that I pity you, I will help you." She dismounted instantly from her horse, which was so quiet, that she did not take the trouble to fasten it to anything to prevent its running away; and jumping over the hedge, after receiving a few scratches, she plunged into the ditch, and worked so well, that she succeeded in recovering the favourite sheep. "Do not cry any more, my good mother," said she to the shepherdess: "there is your sheep; and considering the long time it has been in the water, I think it is very lively."

"You have not obliged an ungrateful person," said the shepherdess. "I know you, charming Belle-belle. I know where you are going, and all your intentions. Your sisters have passed through this meadow. I knew them also, and I was not ignorant of what was passing in their minds; but they appeared so heartless, and their conduct to me was so ungracious, that I took means to interrupt their journey. The case is very different with you. I will prove it to you, Belle-belle; for I am a fairy, and take pleasure in heaping benefits upon those who deserve them. You have a miserably poor horse; I will give you one." She struck the ground as she spoke with her crook, and immediately Belle-belle heard a neighing behind a bush; she turned quickly, ​​and saw the most beautiful horse in the world: it began to run and bound about in the meadow.

Belle-belle, who was fond of horses, was delighted to see one so perfect. The Fairy called this fine courser to her, and touching it with her crook, she said, "Faithful Comrade, be better harnessed than the Emperor Matapa's best horse." Instantly Comrade had on a saddle-cloth of green velvet, embroidered with pearls and rubies, a saddle to match, and a bridle of pearls, with a bit and studs of gold: in short, there was nothing to be found so magnificent. "What you see," said the Fairy, "is the least thing to admire in this horse. He has many other qualities which I will detail to you. In the first place, he only eats once in eight days. You need not be at the trouble of looking after him; he knows the present, the past, and the future. I have had him a long time, and I have trained him as for myself. Whatever you wish to know, or whenever you need advice, you have but to address yourself to him; he will give you such good counsel, that sovereigns would be happy to have ministers like him; you must therefore consider him more as your friend than your horse. Lastly, your dress is not to my liking; I will give you one more becoming."

She struck the ground with her crook, and there appeared a large trunk covered with Turkey leather, studded with gold nails: Belle-belle's initials were upon it. The Fairy sought amongst the grass for a golden key made in England.[1] She opened the trunk; it was lined with Spanish leather, profusely embroidered. There were twelve suits of clothes in it, twelve cravats, twelve swords, twelve feathers,—and so on, everything in dozens. The coats were so covered with embroidery and diamonds, that Belle-belle could scarcely lift them. "Choose the suit that pleases you the most," said the Fairy, "and the others shall follow you every where. You have only to stamp your foot, saying, 'Turkey-leather trunk, come to me full of linen and lace; Turkey-leather trunk, come to me full of jewels and money:' it will instantly be before you, whether you are out-of-doors or in your chamber. You must also assume a name, for Belle-belle will not suit the profession you are about to enter. It strikes me you might call yourself the Chevalier Fortuné. But you ought to know ​who I am; I shall therefore appear to you in my usual form." At the same moment her old woman's skin fell from her, and she appeared so wonderfully beautiful, that she dazzled the eyes of Belle-belle. Her dress was of blue velvet, trimmed with ermine; her hair entwined with pearls, and on her head was a superb crown.

Belle-belle, transported with admiration, threw herself at her feet, testifying by that attitude her respect and unutterable gratitude. The Fairy raised her up, and embraced her affectionately. She told her to put on a suit of green and gold brocade. She obeyed her orders, and mounting her horse, continued her journey, so overwhelmed by all the extraordinary things that had just happened, that she could think of nothing else.

At length she began to ask herself, by what unlooked-for good fortune she could have attracted the kindness of so powerful a fairy, "Because really," said she, "I was not required to recover the sheep, for a simple stroke of her wand would have brought a whole flock back from the antipodes, had it gone there. It was very lucky I was so disposed to oblige her. The trifling service I did her is the cause of all she has done for me; she knew my heart, and approved of my sentiments. Ah! if my father could see me now, so magnificent and so rich, how delighted he would be! but at all events, I shall have the pleasure of sharing with my family the fortune she has given me."

As she finished making these various reflections, she arrived in a fine and very populous city. She drew all eyes upon her; they followed her and surrounded her, and every one cried out, "Was there ever seen a cavalier more handsome, better made, or more beautifully dressed? How gracefully he manages that superb horse?" They saluted him most respectfully, which he returned with a kind and courteous air. As soon as he entered the inn, the governor, who was walking, and had admired him in passing, sent a gentleman to say, that he hoped he would come and take up his lodgings in his castle. The Chevalier Fortuné (for in short we must henceforth speak of Belle-belle as such) replied, that not having the honour of being known by him, he would not take that liberty; that he would go and pay his respects to him, and begged he would give him one of his people, whom he could ​entrust with something of consequence he wished to send to his father. The governor sent him immediately a very trusty messenger, and Fortuné desired him to come again, as his despatches were not yet ready.

He shut himself in his chamber; then, stamping with his foot, said, "Turkey-leather trunk, come to me filled with diamonds and pistoles!" It appeared that instant; but there was no key, and where was he to find it? What a pity to break a lock of enamelled gold of several colours; and moreover, was there not much to fear from the indiscretion of a locksmith? He would scarcely have spoken of the Chevalier's treasures before thieves would assemble to rob him, and perhaps they might kill him.

He then looked for the key everywhere, and the more he sought it the less he could find it. "How troublesome!" cried he; "I shall not be able to make use of the Fairy's bounty, nor send my father any of the property she has given me." While he was thus musing, it occurred to him, that the best thing to do would be to consult his horse; he went into the stable, and said in a whisper, "I entreat you, Comrade, tell me where I shall find the key of the Turkey-leather trunk." "In my ear," replied the horse. Fortuné looked in the horse's ear; he espied a green ribbon,—he drew it out, and saw the key he wished for; he opened the Turkey-leather trunk, wherein were more diamonds and pistoles than would fill a bushel. The Chevalier filled three caskets—one for his father, and two others for his sisters; he then gave them to the man the governor had sent to him, and begged him not to stop, either night or day, until he arrived at the Count's house.

This messenger made the greatest speed, and when he told the old man that he came from his son, the Chevalier, and that he had brought him a very heavy casket, he wondered what could be in it; for he had started with so little money, that he did not think he was in a condition to buy anything, nor even to pay the journey of the man who had charge of his present. He first of all opened his letter, and when he had read all that his dear daughter had written, he thought he should die with joy; the sight of the jewels and gold still further confirmed the truth of the story; the most extraordinary thing was, that when Belle-belle's two sisters opened ​their caskets, they found bits of glass instead of diamonds, and false pistoles,—the Fairy not choosing that they should partake of her kindness; they therefore thought their sister was laughing at them, and they felt extremely vexed at her; but the Count, perceiving how angry they were with her, gave them the greater part of the jewels he had just received. As soon as they touched them they changed like the others; they concluded, therefore, that an unknown power was working against them, and begged their father to keep the remainder for himself. The handsome Fortuné did not wait the return of his messenger before he quitted the city—his business was too urgent; he was bound to obey the King's orders. He paid his visit to the governor, at whose house all the people had assembled to see him. There was in his person and all his actions such an air of goodness, that they could but admire and love him. He said nothing but what was pleasant to hear; and the crowd was so great around him, he did not know how to account for so extraordinary a circumstance; for, having lived always in the country, he had seen very few people.

He continued his journey on his excellent horse, which amused him with a thousand stories, or by recounting to him the most remarkable events in ancient and modern history. "My dear Master," said he, "I am delighted to be your property. I know you possess much frankness and honour. I am disgusted with certain people with whom I have lived a long time, and who made me weary of my life, their society was so insupportable. Among them was a man who professed great friendship for me, who ranked me above Pegasus and Bucephalus when he spoke in my presence; but as soon as I was out of sight, he treated me as a jaded and sorry horse; he affected an admiration of my faults, in order to induce me to commit greater. It is true, that one day, being tired of his caresses, which properly speaking were treacheries, I gave him so severe a kick, that I had the pleasure of knocking out nearly all his teeth; and I have never seen him since, that I do not tell him with great sincerity, it is not right that a mouth that is opened so often to abuse those who do you no harm, should be as handsome as others." "Ho! ho!" cried the Chevalier; "thou art very mettlesome; dost thou not fear that this man will some day ​in a passion pass his sword through your body?" "It would not signify, my Lord," replied Comrade; "besides, I should know his intention as soon as he could form it."

They were thus talking when they approached an extensive forest. Comrade said to the Chevalier, "Master, there is a man who lives here that may perhaps be of great service to us; he is a woodcutter, and one who has been gifted." "What dost thou mean by that term?" interrupted Fortuné. "Gifted means, that he has received one or more gifts from fairies," added the horse; "you must engage him to go with us." At the same time, advancing to where the woodcutter was at work, the young Chevalier accosted him with a gentle and winning air, and asked him several questions about the place they were in; whether there were any wild beasts in the forest, and if he would be permitted to hunt in it. The woodcutter replied to everything like an intelligent man. Fortuné then inquired, where the men were gone, who had been helping him to fell so many trees. The woodcutter replied that he had felled them all by himself, that it had been the work of a few hours, and that he must cut down many others to make a load for himself. "What! Do you pretend you will carry all this wood to-day?" said the Chevalier. "Oh, my Lord," replied Strong-back[2] (for thus people called him,) "my strength is extraordinary." "You make a great deal of money, then," said Fortuné. "Very little," replied the woodcutter, "for they are poor in this place; here every one works for himself, without begging his neighbour's assistance." "Since you live in so poor a country," added the Chevalier, "you have only to choose, to go to another. Come with me, you shall not want for anything, and when you would wish to return, I will give you money for your journey." The woodcutter thought he could not do better; he forsook his axe and followed his new master. As soon as they had passed through the forest, they saw a man in the plain, who appeared to be tying his legs together with some riband so closely, that he would scarcely be able to walk. Comrade stopped, and said to his master, "My Lord," ​here is another gifted man: you will want him; you must take him with you." Fortuné drew near him, and with his usual grace, asked him, "Why he was thus tying his legs." "I am going to hunt," said he. "How?" said the Chevalier, smiling, "Do you mean to say you can run better when you are thus fettered?" "No, my Lord," replied he, "I am aware that my speed will not be so great, but that is my object; for there is not a stag, roebuck, or hare, that I do not outrun when my legs are at liberty, so that by leaving them continually behind me they escape, and I scarcely ever have the pleasure of catching them!" "You seem an extraordinary man," said Fortuné; "what is your name?" "They have given me the name of Swift," said the hunter, "and I am well known in this country." "If you would like to see another," added the Chevalier, "I should be very happy for you to go with me; you will not have so much fatigue, and I will treat you well." Swift was not particularly well off, so he willingly accepted the offer proposed to him; and Fortuné, followed by his new servants, continued his journey.

The next morning he saw a man on the border of a marsh, binding his eyes. The horse said to his master, "My Lord, I advise you to take this man also into your service." Fortuné immediately asked him, why he bound his eyes. "I see too clearly," said he; "I spy the game more than four leagues off, and I never shoot without killing more than I wish. I am therefore obliged to bind my eyes; for, though I got but a glimpse, there would be neither partridges nor any other little birds left in the country in less than two hours." "You are very clever," replied Fortuné. "They call me the Good-marksman," said the man; "and I would not leave this occupation for anything in the world." "I have, notwithstanding, a great inclination to propose to you to travel with me," said the Chevalier; "it will not prevent your exercising your talent." The Good-marksman made some objections, and the Chevalier had more difficulty in winning him over than with the others; for sportsmen are generally fond of liberty. However, he at length succeeded, and left the marsh in which he had halted with his additional attendant.

Some days after this, he passed by a meadow, in which he saw a man lying on his side. Comrade said, "Master, this man is gifted; I foresee that he will be very necessary to ​you." Fortuné entered the meadow, and desired to know what he was doing. "I want some simples," replied he; "and I am listening to the grass as it grows, to find out those which I require." "How!" said the Chevalier, "have you ears so quick, that you can hear the grass grow, and guess that which will come up?" "It is for that reason," said the listener, "they call me Fine-ear." "Very well, Fine-ear," continued Fortuné, "are you inclined to follow me? I will give you such high wages, that you will have no reason to regret it." The man, delighted at so agreeable a proposition, joined without hesitation the other followers.

The Chevalier, continuing his journey, saw by the side of a high-road a man whose cheeks were so inflated that it had a very droll effect; he was standing with his face towards a lofty mountain, two leagues off, upon which were fifty or sixty windmills. The horse said to his master, "There is another of our gifted ones; do all you can to take him with you." Fortuné, who had the power of fascinating every one he saw or spoke to, accosted this man, and asked him, what he was doing there. "I am blowing a little, my Lord," said he, "to set all those mills at work." "It appears to me, you are too far off," replied the Chevalier. "On the contrary," replied the blower, "I find I am too near; and if I did not retain the half of my breath, I should upset the mills, and perhaps the mountains they stand on. I do a great deal of mischief in this way without intending it; and I can tell you, my Lord, that, having been very ill-treated once by my mistress, as I went into the woods to indulge my sorrow, my sighs tore the trees up by the root, and created great confusion; so that in this province they never call me anything but Boisterous." "If they are tired of you," said Fortuné, "and you would come with me, here are some who will keep you company; they also possess extraordinary talent." "I have so natural a curiosity for everything that is uncommon," replied Boisterous, "that I accept your offer."

Fortuné, much pleased, proceeded; and, after passing through a well-wooded country, came to a large lake, fed by several springs; at the side of it was a man, who looked at it very attentively. "My Lord," said Comrade to his master, this man is wanting to complete your train. If you could induce him to follow you, it would be as well." The Chevalier ​approached him immediately. "Will you tell me," said he, "what you are doing there?" "My Lord," replied the man, "you shall see as soon as this lake is full; I shall drink it at one draught, for I am still thirsty, although I have already twice emptied it." And accordingly he stooped down, and in a few minutes left scarcely sufficient water for the smallest fish to swim in. Fortuné was not more surprised than all his followers. "What!" said he, "are you always so thirsty?" "No," said the water-drinker; I only drink like this when I have eaten anything too salt, or in case of some wager. I have been known for some time past by the name of the Tippler." "Come with me, Tippler," said the Knight; "I will give you wine to tipple, which you will find better than spring-water." This promise pleased the man very much, and he forthwith took service with the others.

The Chevalier had now arrived within sight of the place fixed on for the general rendezvous of the King's forces, when he perceived a man eating so greedily, that, although he had more than sixty thousand loaves of Gonesse bread[3] before him, he seemed resolved not to leave the smallest morsel of it. Comrade said to his master, "My Lord, you want but this man; pray make him come with you." The Chevalier accosted him, and, smiling, said to him, "Are you determined to eat all this bread for your breakfast?" "Yes," ​replied he: "all I regret is, that there is so little; but the bakers are arrant lazy fellows, and give themselves very little trouble, whether you are hungry or not." "If you require so much every day," added Fortuné, "there is hardly a country you would not put in a state of starvation." "Oh! my Lord," replied Eater (as the people called him), "I should be very sorry to have always so great an appetite; neither my property nor that of my neighbours would be sufficient to satisfy it. It is true that now and then I take a fancy to feast in this fashion." "My friend Eater," said Fortuné, "follow me; I will give you good cheer, and you will not be dissatisfied with having chosen me for a master."

Comrade, who wanted neither for sense nor forethought, warned the Chevalier to forbid all these people from boasting of the extraordinary gifts which they possessed. He lost no time in calling them to him, and said: "Listen to me, Strong-back, Swift, Good-marksman, Fine-ear, Boisterous, Tippler, and Eater. I give you notice, that, if you would please me, you will keep as an inviolable secret the talents you possess; and I assure you I shall endeavour to make you so happy, that you will be perfectly satisfied." Each bound himself by an oath to obey his orders implicitly; and, soon after, the Chevalier, more adorned by his beauty and his graceful demeanour than by his magnificent dress, entered the capital city, mounted upon his excellent horse, and followed by the finest serving-men in the world. He lost no time in procuring liveries for them, laced all over with gold and silver; he gave them horses: and, having taken apartments in the best inn, he awaited the day fixed for the review. Nothing, however, was talked of but him in the city; and the King, prepossessed in his favour by the general rumour, was very anxious to see him.

All the troops assembled in a great plain. The King came there, with the Queen-dowager his sister, and all their court. The Queen abated no jot of her pomp, notwithstanding the misfortunes of the kingdom; and Fortuné was dazzled by so much splendour. But if they attracted his attention, their observation was equally drawn towards his incomparable beauty. Every one was asking, who that handsome and graceful young gentleman could be; and the King, passing close by him, made him a sign to approach.

​Fortuné instantly alighted from his horse to make the King a low bow; he could not help blushing at being looked at so earnestly; this additional colour heightened the brilliancy of his complexion. "I should be glad," said the King, "to learn from yourself who you are, and what is your name?" "Sire," replied he, "I call myself Fortuné, without having, up to the present moment, any reason for bearing this name; for my father, who is a count of the frontier, passes his life in great poverty, although he was born of a rich and noble family." "Fortuné, who has been your godmother," replied the King, "has not done so badly for you in bringing you hither; I feel a particular affection for you, and I remember that your father rendered mine great service. I will reward him by my favour to his son." "That is quite just, brother," said the Queen-dowager, who had not yet spoken; "and as I am your elder, and know more particularly than you do all the service that the Count of the Frontier has rendered the state, I beg you will entrust to me the care of rewarding this young Chevalier."

Fortuné, enchanted at his reception, could not sufficiently thank the King and Queen; he did not, however, venture to enlarge greatly upon his feeling of gratitude, believing it to be more respectful to be silent, than to talk too much. The little he did say was so correct, and so much to the purpose, that every one applauded him. He afterwards remounted his horse, and mixed among the noblemen, who accompanied the King; but the Queen called him away every minute, to ask him a thousand questions, and, turning herself towards Floride, who was her favourite confidant, said to her softly, "What dost thou think of this Chevalier? Could any one display a more noble air, or more regular features? I own to thee I never saw anything more charming." Floride quite agreed with the Queen, adding much encomium upon him, for the Chevalier was no less charming to her than to her mistress.

Fortuné could not help fixing his eyes from time to time upon the King. He was the handsomest prince in the world, and his manners were most fascinating. Belle-belle, who had not renounced her sex with her dress, felt a sincere attachment for him.

The King told Fortuné, after the review, that he feared the ​war would be a very sanguinary one, and that he had determined to keep him close to his own person. The Queen-dowager, who was present, exclaimed, "She had also been thinking the same thing, that he ought not to be exposed to a long campaign, that the place of premier maitre d'hôtel was vacant in her household, and that she would give it to him." "No," said the King, "I shall make him grand equerry to myself." They thus disputed one with the other for the pleasure of advancing Fortuné, and the Queen, afraid of making known the secret emotions that were already agitating her heart, acceded to the King the gratification of appropriating the services of the Chevalier.

Hardly a day passed that he did not call for his Turkey-leather trunk, and take out a new dress. He was certainly the most magnificent prince at court, insomuch that the Queen asked him sometimes, by what means his father could be at such an expense for him; at other times she would banter him, "Own the truth," she said, "you have a mistress; it is she who sends you all the beautiful things we see." Fortuné blushed, and respectfully replied to all the various questions the Queen put to him.

On the other hand, he acquitted himself of his duties admirably. Sensibly alive to the King's merits, he attached himself more to him than he wished to do. "What is my fate?" said he, "I love a great King, without any hope of his loving me, or that he will ever know what I suffer." The King, on his part, loaded him with favours; nothing was well done that was not done by the handsome Chevalier. The Queen, deceived by his dress, seriously thought of the means of contracting a secret marriage with him. The inequality of their birth was the only thing which troubled her.

She was not the only one entertaining such feelings for Fortuné; the handsomest women of the court were taken with him. He was overwhelmed with tender epistles, with assignations, with presents, and a thousand gallantries, to all of which he replied with so much indifference, that they doubted not he had a mistress in his own country. It was in vain that, at the great entertainments of the court, he took no pains to distinguish himself. He carried away the prize at all the tournaments; in hunting, he killed more game than any one else; he danced at all the balls with more grace and ​skill than any of the courtiers; in short, it was delightful to see or to hear him.

The Queen, anxious to be spared the confusion of declaring her sentiments to him herself, desired Floride to make him understand, that so many marks of kindness from a young and beautiful queen ought not to be a matter of indifference to him. Floride was very much embarrassed by this commission, for she had been unable to avoid the fate of all who had seen the Chevalier, and she thought it would be too amiable on her part to prefer her mistress's interests to her own; so that, at each opportunity the Queen gave her of talking to him, instead of speaking of the beauty and great qualifications of that princess, she told him only of her ill-humour, and of what her women endured from her; of the injustice she did them, of the bad use she made of the power she usurped in the kingdom; and, finally, drawing a comparison between their sentiments, she said, "I am not born a queen, but really I ought to have been one. I have so much generosity in my nature, that I am anxious to do good to everybody. Ah! if I were in that high station," continued she, "how happy would I make the handsome Fortuné. He would love me out of gratitude, if he could not love me from inclination."

The young Chevalier was quite dismayed at this conversation, and knew not what to answer, and therefore carefully avoided these tête-à-têtes with her; and the impatient Queen never failed to ask her, what impression she had made for her upon Fortuné. "He thinks so little of himself," said she, "and is so bashful, that he will not believe anything I tell him of you, or he pretends not to believe it, because he is preoccupied by some other passion." "I believe so too," said the alarmed Queen; "but is it possible he will not yield to his ambition?" "And is it possible," replied Floride, "that you would owe his heart to your crown? so young and beautiful as you are, possessing a thousand attractions; is it necessary to have recourse to the splendour of a diadem?" "One has recourse to everything," replied the Queen, "when it is to subdue a rebellious heart."

Floride saw clearly that it was impossible to cure her mistress of her infatuation for him. The Queen each day expected some happy result from the labours of her confidant, but she made so little progress with Fortuné, that she was at length compelled to seek the means of obtaining a personal ​interview with him. She knew that he was accustomed very early every morning to walk in a little wood in front of the windows of her apartment. She arose at daybreak, and, watching the path he was likely to take, saw him approaching with a melancholy and abstracted air. She instantly called Floride. "Thou hast spoken too truly," said she; "Fortuné is without doubt in love with some lady in this court, or in his own country—see how sad he looks." "I have observed this sadness in all his conversations," replied Floride; "and if it were possible for you to forget him, you would do well." "It is too late," exclaimed the Queen, sighing deeply; "but, as he has entered that green arbour, let us go there; I will have thee only to follow me." The girl did not dare to stop the Queen, however much she wished to do so; for she feared she would induce Fortuné to fall in love with her, and a rival of such exalted rank is always very dangerous. As soon as the Queen had taken a few steps in the wood, she heard the Chevalier singing; his voice was very sweet; he had composed these words to a new air:—

"How rare a thing it is for Love and Peace
To dwell together in the same fond heart!
For ever with my joys, my fears increase,
To see them, like a morning dream, depart!
Dread of the future robs my soul of rest,
Then most unhappy when it most is blest!"

Fortuné had made these verses in consequence of his sentiments for the King, the favour he had shown him, and from the fear he was in of being recognised, and forced to leave a court he preferred living in to any other in the world. The Queen, who stopped to listen, was extremely distressed, "What am I going to attempt?" said she softly to Floride. "This ungrateful young man despises the honour of pleasing me; he thinks himself happy—he seems satisfied with his conquest—and he sacrifices me to another." "He is at that age," replied Floride, "when reason has not yet established its rights; if I dared advise your Majesty, it would be to forget a giddy little fellow, who is not capable of appreciating his good fortune." The Queen would much rather her confidant had spoken to her in a different manner; she cast an angry look at her, and, hastily advancing, she quickly entered the arbour where the knight was; she pretended to be surprised to find him there, and to be vexed at his seeing her in ​déshabille, although she had taken great pains to make herself magnificent and attractive.

As soon as she appeared, from respect to her, he would have retired, but she desired him to remain, that he might assist her in walking, "I was awoke this morning, most agreeably, by the singing of the birds. The fine weather, and the pure air, invited me to hear them warbling nearer. How happy they are; alas! they know nought but pleasure: grief does not trouble them!" "It appears to me, Madam," replied Fortuné, "that they are not entirely exempt from pain and sorrow; they are always in danger of the murderous shot, or the deceitful snares of sportsmen, besides the birds of prey which war against these little innocent ones. When a hard winter comes, and freezes the ground, and covers it with snow, they die for want of hemp or millet-seed, and every year they have the trouble of seeking a fresh mistress."

"You think, then, Chevalier," said the Queen, smiling, "that it is a trouble? There are men who have a fresh one each month in the year; but you appear surprised at it," she continued, "as if your heart was not of the same stamp, and that you have not yet been given to change!" "I am not able, Madam, to know of what I should be guilty," said the Chevalier, "for I have never yet loved; but I dare believe, if I had an attachment, it would end but with my life." "You have never loved? "cried the Queen, looking so earnestly at him, that the poor Chevalier changed colour several times; "you have never been in love? Fortuné, can you assert this to a Queen, who reads in your face and your eyes the passion that occupies your heart? and who has heard the words which you sang to the new air, which is just now so popular." "It is true, Madam," replied the Chevalier, "that those lines are my own; but it is likewise true, that I made them without any particular design; my friends ask me every day to write drinking-songs for them, although I never drink anything but water; there are others who prefer love-songs: thus I sing of Love, and of Bacchus, without being a lover or a drinker."

The Queen listened to him with so much emotion that she could scarcely support herself; that which he had told her, rekindled the hope in her bosom that Floride would have deprived her of. "If I could think you sincere," said she, "I ​thould indeed be surprised, that you have not seen a lady in this court sufficiently lovely for you to fix upon." "Madam," replied Fortuné, "I endeavour so earnestly to fulfil the duties of my office, that I have no time for sighing." "You love nothing, then?" added she, with vehemence. "No, Madam," said he; "I have not a heart of so gallant a character; I am a kind of misanthrope, who loves his liberty, and who would not lose it for all the world." The Queen sat down, and fixing upon him the kindest of looks—"There are some chains, so beautiful and glorious," replied she, "that anyone might feel happy to wear them; if Fortuné has destined such to you, I would advise you to renounce your liberty." In speaking thus, her eyes explained her meaning too intelligibly, for the Chevalier, who had already very strong suspicions, not to be now entirely confirmed in them. Fearing the conversation might go still further, he looked at his watch, and setting the hand on a little—"I must beg your Majesty," said he, "to allow me to go to the palace; it is time for the King to arise, and he desired me to be in attendance." "Go, indifferent youth," said she, sighing profoundly; "you are right to pay court to my brother, but remember you would not have done wrong to dedicate some of your attentions to me."

The Queen followed him with her eyes, then let them fall, and reflecting upon what had just passed, blushed with shame and rage. That which added still more to her grief, was that Floride had witnessed it all, and she remarked upon her face an expression of joy, which seemed to tell her, she would have done better had she taken her advice instead of speaking to Fortuné; she meditated sometime, and taking her tablets, she wrote these lines, which she caused to be set to music by the Lully[4] of the court:—

""Behold! behold! the torment I endure!
The victor knows it: but it moves him not.
My heart displays the wound no time can cure,
Still rankling with the shaft too truly shot.

"As unconceal'd, his coldness, his disdain,
He hates me, and his hate I would return;
But ah! my foolish heart essays in vain
With aught but fondest love for him to burn!"

​Floride played her part very well with the Queen; she consoled her as much as she could, and gave her some few flattering hopes, which she needed to support her. "Fortuné thinks himself so beneath you, Madam," said she, "that he did not perhaps understand what you meant; and it appears to me that he has already said much in assuring you that he loves no one." It is so natural for us to flatter ourselves, that the Queen at length took heart a little. She was ignorant that the malicious Floride, aware of the Chevalier's indifference for her, wished to induce him to speak still more explicitly, that he might offend her by his cool answers.

He was, on his part, in the greatest perplexity. His situation appeared cruel to him; he would not have hesitated to leave the court, if his love for the King had not detained him in spite of himself. He never went near the Queen but when she held her court, and then always in the King's suite: she perceived this alteration in his conduct instantly; she several times gave him the opportunity of paying attentions to her, without his profiting by it; but one day, as she descended into her gardens, she saw him cross one of the grand avenues, and suddenly enter the little wood. She called to him; he feared to displease her in pretending not to hear her, and approached her respectfully.

"Do you remember, Chevalier," said she, "the conversation we had together some time ago in the green arbour?" "I am not capable, Madam," answered he, "of forgetting that honour." "No doubt the questions I put to you then," said the Queen, "were distressing; for since that day you have not placed yourself in a situation for me to ask you any more." "As chance alone procured me that favour," said he, "I thought it would be presuming to seek any other." "Rather say, ungrateful man," continued she, blushing, "that you have avoided my presence; you know too well my sentiments." Fortuné cast down his eyes in an embarrassed and modest manner, and as he hesitated to reply to her, she continued—"You seem very much disconcerted—go, do not endeavour to answer me; I understand you better than though I heard you speak." She would perhaps have said more, but she perceived the King coming that way. She advanced towards him, and seeing him look very melancholy, she begged him to tell her the reason. "You know," said the King, "that about ​a month ago tidings were brought me that a dragon of prodigious size was ravaging the country. I thought they could kill him, and issued for that purpose the necessary orders; but they have tried every means in vain. He devours my subjects, their flocks, and all that he meets with; he poisons all the rivers and springs wherever he quenches his thirst, and withers the grass and the herbs that he lies down upon." While the King was talking to her, it entered the mind of the irritated Queen, that there was an opportunity afforded to her of sacrificing the Chevalier to her resentment. "I am not ignorant," said she, "of the bad news you have received. Fortuné, whom you saw with me, has just given me an account of it; but, brother, you will be surprised at what I have to tell you,—he has entreated me, with the greatest importunity, to ask you to permit him to go and fight this terrible dragon; he is indeed so skilled in the use of arms, that I am not surprised he presumes so much; besides, he has told me he has a secret, by which he can put the most wakeful dragon to sleep, but that must not be mentioned, because it does not show much courage in the action." "In whatever manner he may do it," replied the King, "it will be very glorious for him, and of great service to us, if he could succeed; but I fear this proceeds from an indiscreet zeal, and that it will cost him his life." "No, brother," added the Queen, "fear not; he has related very surprising things on this subject. You know that he is naturally very sincere, and then what honour can he hope for, in dying so rashly. In short," said she, "I have promised to obtain for him what he so much desires, that if you refuse him, it will kill him."

"I consent to what you wish," said the King, "but I own to you, not without much repugnance: but let us call him." He then made a sign for Fortuné to approach, and said kindly to him, "I have just learnt from the Queen the desire you have to fight the dragon that is devastating our country. It is so bold a resolution, that I can scarcely believe you have considered all the danger." "I have represented this to him," said the Queen; "but he is so zealous in your service, and so desirous to signalize himself, that nothing can dissuade him from it; and I foresee that he will be successful." Fortuné was much surprised at what the King and Queen said to him. He had sense enough to penetrate the wicked ​intentions of this princess, but his timidity would not permit him to explain it; and, without answering, he let her continue to talk, contenting himself with making low bows, so that the King imagined he was renewing his entreaties to grant him what he so much desired. "Go, then," said he, sighing, "go where glory calls you. I know you are so skilful in all you do, and more particularly in the use of weapons, that, perhaps this monster will have much difficulty in avoiding your blows." "Sire," replied the Chevalier, "whatever may be the issue of this combat, I shall be satisfied; I shall deliver you from a terrible scourge, or I shall die for you; but honour me with one favour, which will be infinitely dear to me." "Ask for whatever you wish," said the King. "I am bold enough," continued Fortuné, "to ask for your portrait." The King was much pleased he should think of his portrait at a time when he might have been occupied with other things, and the Queen was grieved afresh, that he had not made the same request of her, but he must have had a superabundance of goodnature, to wish for the portrait of so wicked a woman.

The King returned to his palace, and the Queen to her's: Fortuné, much embarrassed by the promise he had made, went to seek his horse, and said, "My dear Comrade, there is a great deal of news for you." "I know it already, my Lord," replied he. "What shall we do, then?" added Fortuné. "We must set off directly," said the horse; "get the King's order, by which he desires you to go and fight the dragon, we will then do our duty." These few words consoled our young Chevalier; he failed not the next morning to wait on the King, in a riding-dress, as handsome as the others that he had taken from the Turkey-leather trunk.

As soon as the King saw him, he exclaimed, "What! you are ready to go?" "Your commands cannot be too quickly executed, Sire;" replied he, "I come to take my leave of your Majesty." The King could not help relenting, seeing so young, so handsome, so accomplished a gentleman, upon the eve of exposing himself to the greatest danger man could ever place himself in.

He embraced him, and gave him his portrait surrounded by large diamonds. Fortuné received it with extraordinary joy, for the King's noble qualities had made such an ​impression on him, that he could not imagine anything in the world more charming; and if he suffered at leaving him, it was much less from the fear of being devoured by the dragon, than from being deprived of the presence of one so dear to him.

The King would have a general order included in Fortuné's commission, for all his subjects to aid and assist him whenever he should stand in need; after which he took leave of the King, and that nothing might be remarked in his behaviour, he went to the Queen, who was sitting at her toilette, surrounded by several of her ladies. She changed colour when he appeared; what had she not to reproach herself with on his account? He saluted her respectfully, and asked her, if she would honour him with her commands, as he was on the point of departing. These last words completely disconcerted her; and Floride, who knew not what the Queen had plotted against the Chevalier, was thunderstruck. She would willingly have had some private conversation with him, but he avoided carefully so embarrassing an interview.

"I pray the gods," said the Queen, "that you may conquer, and return triumphant." "Madam," replied the Chevalier, "your Majesty does me too much honour, and is sufficiently aware of the danger to which I shall be exposed; however, I am full of confidence—perhaps, upon this occasion, I am the only one who does hope." The Queen understood very well what he meant; no doubt she would have replied to this reproach, had there been fewer persons present.

The Chevalier returned to his lodgings, and ordered his seven excellent servants to take horse, and follow him, as the time had arrived to prove what they could do. There was not one who did not rejoice at being able to serve him. In less than an hour everything was ready, and they set out with him, assuring him they would do their utmost to fulfil his command. In short, as soon as they had reached the open country, and had no fear of being seen, each one gave proof of his address. Tippler drank the water from the lakes, and caught the finest fish for his master's dinner. Swift, on his part, hunted the stags, and caught the hares by their ears, whatever doubles they made. The Good-marksman gave no quarter to either partridges or pheasants; and when the game was killed by one party, the venison by another, and the fish taken out of the water, Strong-back ​carried it all cheerfully. Even Fine-ear made himself useful; he found truffles, morelles, mushrooms, salads, and fine herbs, by hearing them grow in the ground. So Fortuné hardly ever had occasion to draw his purse-strings, to defray the expenses of his journey. He would have been very much amused at the sight of so many extraordinary things, if his heart had not been so full of all that he had just left. The King's merit was ever present to him, and the Queen's malice appeared to him so great, that he could not help hating her. He was riding along lost in thought, when he was aroused from his reverie by the piercing cries of several people. They were those of the poor peasants, whom the dragon was devouring. He saw some, who having escaped, were running away with all their might: he called to them, but they would not stop; he followed, and spoke to them, and he learnt from them that the monster was not far off. He asked them, how they had managed to escape; they told him that water was very scarce in the country, that they had only rain-water to drink, to preserve which, they had made a pond—that the dragon, after going his rounds, went to drink there—that he uttered such tremendous yells when he arrived at it, he might be heard a league off, and that then everybody was so alarmed that they hid themselves, and fastened their doors and windows.

The Chevalier entered an inn, not so much to rest himself, as to get some good advice from his pretty horse. When every one had retired, he went into the stable, and said, "Comrade, how shall we conquer this dragon?" "My Lord," said he, "I will dream of it to-night, and tell you what I think about it to-niorrow morning." Accordingly, the next morning when the Chevalier came again, the horse said, "Let Fine-ear listen if the dragon is near at hand." Fine-ear laid himself down on the ground, and heard the yells of the dragon, who was about seven leagues off. When the horse was informed of this, he said to Fortuné, "Desire Tippler to go and drink up all the water out of the great pond, and make Strong-back carry wine enough there to fill it. You must put around the pond dried raisins, pepper, and several things that will make the dragon thirsty; order all the inhabitants to shut themselves up in their houses; and you, my Lord, must not leave the one you may choose to lay wait in ​with your attendants. The dragon will not fail to go and drink at the pond, the wine he will like very much, and you will then see what will be the end of it all."

As soon as Comrade had arranged what was to be done, everybody set about what they had to do. The Chevalier went into a house which overlooked the pond. He had scarcely done so, when the frightful dragon came and drank a little, then he ate some of the breakfast they had prepared for him, and then he drank more and more, till he became quite intoxicated. He was unable to move, he laid upon his side, his head hanging down, and his eyes closed. When Fortuné saw him in this state, he felt he had not a moment to lose, he issued forth, sword in hand, and attacked him most courageously. The dragon, finding himself wounded on all sides, would have got up and fallen upon the Chevalier, but he had not the strength, he had lost so much blood. The Chevalier, overjoyed that he had reduced him to this extremity, called his attendants to bind the monster with cords and chains, that the King might have the pleasure and glory of ending his life; so that, having nothing more to fear from the beast, they dragged him into the city.

Fortuné marched at the head of his little troop. On approaching the palace, he sent Swift to the King with good news of his great success; but it seemed incredible, till they actually saw the monster fast bound upon a machine constructed for the purpose.

The King descended, and embraced Fortuné. "The gods have reserved this victory for you," said he, "and I feel much less joy at the sight of this horrible dragon reduced to this condition, than at your safe return, my dear Chevalier." "Sire," replied he, "may it please your Majesty to give the monster his death-blow; I brought him here to receive it at your hand." The King drew his sword, and terminated the existence of one of his most cruel enemies. Everybody uttered shouts of joy at such unhoped-for success.

Floride, who had been in continual anxiety, was not long before she heard of the return of her handsome Chevalier. She ran to tell the Queen of it, who was so astonished and confounded by her love and her hatred, that she could return no answer to what her confidant told her; and she reproached herself a hundred and a hundred times for the malicious ​trick she had played him, but she would rather have seen him dead than so indifferent to her. She knew not whether to be pleased or sorry that he had returned to the court, where his presence would again disturb her peace.

The King, impatient to impart to his sister the success of such an extraordinary event, entered her chamber, leaning on the Chevalier's arm. "Here is the conqueror of the dragon," said he, "who has rendered me the greatest service I could have received from a faithful subject; it was to you, Madam, he first expressed his desire to fight this monster; I hope you will appreciate the courage with which he exposed himself to the greatest danger." The Queen, composing her countenance, honoured Fortuné with a gracious reception, and a thousand praises; she thought him handsomer than when he went away, and her earnest look at him was to make him understand that her heart was not cured of its wound.

She would not trust to her eyes alone the task of explanation; and one day that she was hunting with the King, she gave up following the hounds on the plea of sudden indisposition; then, turning to the young Chevalier, who was near her, "You will do me the pleasure," said she, "of remaining with me; I wish to alight, and rest a little while. Go," she continued, to those who accompanied her, "do not leave my brother!" She alighted instantly with Floride, and seated herself by the side of a stream, where she remained for some time in profound silence, thinking how she could best commence the conversation.

At length, raising her eyes, she fixed them upon the Chevalier, and said, "As good intentions are not always obvious, I fear you have not been able to penetrate the motives which induced me to press the King to send you to fight the dragon; I felt sure, from a presentiment that never deceives me, that you would acquit yourself like a brave man; and your enemies thought so lightly of your courage, because you did not go to the army, that it was necessary you should perform some such action to stop their mouths. I should have informed you of what they said upon this subject," continued she, "and ought perhaps to have done so, but I feared the consequences which might result from your resentment, and thought it would be better for you to silence such ill-intentioned people by your intrepid conduct in danger, than ​by the exertion of an influence which would rather mark the favourite than the soldier. You perceive now, Chevalier," added she, "that I took a lively interest in all that could conduce to our glory, and that you would be very wrong were you to judge otherwise." "The distance is so great between us, Madam," replied he, modestly, "that I am not worthy of the explanation you have been so good as to give me, nor the care you took to imperil my life for the sake of my honour. The gods protected me with more beneficence than my enemies hoped for, and I shall esteem myself always happy to employ in the King's service, or in yours, a life, the loss of which is a matter of more indifference to me than may be imagined." This respectful reproach from Fortuné perplexed the Queen: she perfectly comprehended the meaning of his words: but he was still too agreeable to her to be got rid of entirely by too sharp a reply; on the contrary, she pretended to enter completely into his feelings, and made him again relate to her how skilfully he had conquered the dragon.

Fortuné had taken good care not to tell any one it was through the assistance of his attendants he had done so; he boasted of having faced this redoubtable enemy alone, and that his own skill, and his courage, even to rashness, had secured his victory; but the Queen, scarcely thinking of what he was saying to her, interrupted him, to ask him if he was now convinced of the interest she felt in all that related to him; and would have pressed the subject further upon him, when he said: "Madam, I hear the sound of the horn, the King is approaching; will your Majesty mount your horse to go and meet him?" "No," said she, spitefully; "it is sufficient for you to do so." "The King would blame me, Madam," added he, "should I leave you by yourself in a place exposed to danger." "I will dispense with your attention," replied she, in an imperative tone. "Begone!—Your presence annoys me!"

At this command, the Chevalier made her a profound bow, mounted his horse, and disappeared from her sight, very uneasy at what might be the result of this fresh offence. He thereupon consulted his fine horse—"Let me know, comrade," said he, "if this too loving, too angry Queen, will find another monster to give me up to?" "No other but herself," ​replied the pretty horse; "but she is more of a dragon than the one you have killed, and will sufficiently put your patience and your virtue to the test." "Will she not cause me the loss of the king's favour?" cried he; "that is all I fear." "I will not reveal the future to you," said Comrade; "you must be satisfied that I am always on the watch." He said no more, for the King appeared at the end of an avenue. Fortuné joined him, and told him the Queen was not well, and had commanded him to stay near her. "It appears to me," said the King, smiling, "you are very much in her good graces, and that it is to her you speak your mind, in preference to me, for I have not forgotten that you entreated her to procure you the glory of going to fight the dragon." "I dare not contradict you, Sire," replied the Chevalier; "but I assure your Majesty I make a great distinction between your favours and those of the Queen, and if a subject were permitted to make a confidant of his sovereign, it would be a most delightful pleasure to me to declare my sentiments to you." The King interrupted him by asking him where he had left the Queen.

Meanwhile, the Queen was complaining to Floride of Fortuné's indifference to her—"The sight of him becomes hateful to me," cried she; "he must quit the Court, or I must retire from it; I can no longer suffer the presence of an ungrateful youth, who dares show me so much contempt. What other human being would not esteem himself happy to please a Queen, all-powerful in this kingdom? He is the only one in the world. Ah! the gods have reserved him to disturb the repose of my life!"

Floride was not at all sorry that her mistress was so displeased with Fortuné, and far from endeavouring to oppose her displeasure, she increased it by recalling to her mind many little circumstances, that perhaps she would not have chosen to remark. Her rage thus augmented, made her think of some new device to ruin the poor Chevalier.

As soon as the King had rejoined her, and expressed his concern for her health, she said, "I own I was very ill, but it is difficult to remain so with Fortuné, he is so cheerful, and his ideas so amusing; you must know," continued she, "he has entreated me to obtain another favour from your Majesty. He has asked, with the greatest confidence of success, ​to be allowed to undertake the rashest enterprise in the world." "What, sister," cried the King, "does he wish to fight with a fresh dragon?" "With several at once," said she, "and is sure of conquering—shall I tell you? Well, then, he boasts he will compel the Emperor to restore all our treasures; and to effect this, he does not require an army." "What a pity," replied the King, "that this poor boy should be guilty of so much extravagance!" "His fight with the dragon," added the Queen, "has caused him to think of nothing but great adventures; and what hazard do you run in permitting him again to expose himself in your service?" "I hazard his life, which is dear to me," replied the King. "I should be extremely sorry to see him throw it away so wantonly." "Decide as you may, he is certain to die," said she; "for I assure you his desire is so strong to go and recover your treasures, that he will pine to death if you refuse him permission."

The King felt deeply distressed. "I cannot imagine," said he, "what has filled his head with all these chimeras; it pains me exceedingly to see him in this condition." "The fact is," replied the Queen, "he has fought with the dragon; he has vanquished him, perhaps he will be equally successful in this adventure. I am seldom deceived by my presentiments; my heart tells me his enterprise will be fortunate: pray, brother, do not oppose his zeal." "Let him be called," added the King; "at all events I must represent to him the risk he runs." "That is just the way to exasperate him," replied the Queen; "he will think you will not let him go, and I assure you he will not be deterred by any consideration for himself, for I have already said all that can be thought of on the subject." "Well," cried the King, "let him go then: I consent." The Queen, delighted with this permission, sent for Fortuné. "Chevalier," said she, "thank the king; he grants you the permission you so much desire,—to seek the Emperor Matapa, and by fair words, or by force, recover from him the treasures which he has despoiled us of. Prepare to depart with as much expedition as when you went to fight the dragon."

Fortuné, much surprised, recognised in this piece of malice, the excess of the Queen's fury against him. However, he felt pleasure in being able to lay down his life for a King who was so dear to him; and without making any objection ​to this extraordinary commission, he knelt, and kissed the King's hand, who, on his part, was very much affected. The Queen felt a degree of shame to witness with what respect he received this order to encounter certain death. "Is it possible," said she, "that he has some affection for me, and that rather than contradict what I have advanced, he suffers the injury I have done him without a complaint? Ah! if I could so flatter myself, how much mischief would I wish myself for having caused so much to him!" The King said but little to the Chevalier. He remounted his horse, and the Queen entered her chariot again, feigning a return of her indisposition.

Fortuné accompanied the King to the end of the forest: then re-entering it to have some conversation with his horse, "My faithful Comrade," said he, "it is all over. I must die; the Queen has contrived it in a manner I should never have expected." "My charming master," replied the horse, "do not alarm yourself: although I was not present at all that passed, I have known it for some time; the embassy is not so terrible as you imagine." "Thou dost not then know," continued the Chevalier, "that this Emperor is the most passionate of men, and that if I suggest he should restore all that he has taken from the King, he would answer me only by having me strangled and thrown into the river." "I have been told of his violent conduct," said Comrade; "but let not that prevent your taking your attendants with you, and departing. If you perish there, we will all perish together; I hope, however, for better fortune."

The Chevalier, a little consoled, returned home, issued the necessary orders, and afterwards went and received those of the King, together with his credentials. "You will tell the Emperor from me," he said, "that I demand my subjects whom he holds in bondage, my soldiers who are prisoners, my horses which he rides, my goods, and my treasures." "What shall I offer him in exchange for all these things?" said Fortuné. "Nothing," replied the King, "but my friendship." The young ambassador's memory was not overburthened by his instructions. He departed without seeing the Queen. She was offended at it; but he had little occasion to regard that. What could she do more in her greatest rage than she had already accomplished in the transports of her greatest love ​for him. An affection of this kind appeared to him the most dreadful thing in the world. Her confidant, who knew the whole secret, was exasperated with her mistress, for striving to sacrifice the flower of all chivalry.

Fortuné took in the Turkey-leather trunk all that was necessary for his journey. He was not satisfied with dressing himself magnificently; he wished his seven attendants who accompanied him to make as good an appearance: and as they had all of them excellent horses, and Comrade seemed rather to fly through the air, than to gallop over the ground, they arrived in a very little time at the capital city in which the Emperor Matapa resided. It was larger than Paris, Constantinople, and Rome put together, and so populated, that all the cellars, garrets, and lofts were inhabited.

Fortuné was surprised to see a city of such a prodigious extent. He demanded an audience of the Emperor; but when he announced the subject of his embassy, although with a grace which added much to the effect of his arguments, the Emperor could not help smiling. "If you were at the head of five hundred thousand men," said he, "one might listen to you; but they tell me you have but seven." "I never undertook, my Lord," said Fortuné, "to make you restore what my master wishes by force, but by my very humble remonstrances." "Neither one way nor the other," added the Emperor. "You will never succeed, unless you can accomplish something that has just occurred to me. It is, that you should find a man who has so good an appetite, that he can eat for his breakfast all the hot bread baked for the inhabitants of this great city."

The Chevalier was most agreeably surprised at this proposition; but as he did not answer directly, the Emperor burst into a fit of laughter. "You see," said he, "it is natural to return a ridiculous answer to a ridiculous request." "Sire," said Fortuné, "I accept your offer. To-morrow I will bring a man who shall eat all the new bread, and likewise all the stale bread in this city. Order it to be brought into the great square, and you will have the pleasure of seeing him demolish it all, to the very crumbs." The Emperor gave his assent. Nothing was talked of for the rest of the day, but the folly of the new ambassador; and Matapa swore he would put him to death, if he did not keep his word.

​Fortuné, having returned to the ambassador's hotel, where he had taken up his abode, called Eater to him, and said, "Now is the time for thee to prepare thyself to eat bread: everything depends upon it." He thereupon told him what he had promised the Emperor. "Do not make yourself uneasy, master," said Eater; "I shall eat till they will be tired of feeding me." Fortuné, however, could not help fearing the result of his exertions, and forbade them to give him any supper, that he might eat his breakfast the better; but this precaution was useless.

The Emperor, the Empress, and the Princess, placed themselves in a balcony, that they might better see all that took place. Fortuné arrived with his little retinue; and he perceived in the great square six large mountains of bread, higher than the Pyrennees: he could not avoid turning pale. With Eater it had a contrary effect; for the anticipation of eating so much good bread delighted him: he begged they would not keep the smallest morsel from him, declaring he would not leave a bit for a mouse. The Emperor and all the Court amused themselves at the expense of Fortuné and his attendants; but Eater, becoming impatient, demanded the signal to commence. It was given to him by a flourish of drums and trumpets: at the same instant he threw himself upon one of the mountains of bread, which he devoured in less than a quarter of an hour, and gulped down all the rest at the same rate. Never was greater astonishment. Everybody asked if their eyes had not deceived them, and went, to satisfy themselves, by touching the place where they had placed the bread. Every creature that day, from the Emperor to the cat, was compelled to dine without bread.

Fortuné, delighted with his great success, approached the Emperor, and very respectfully asked if it was agreeable for him to keep his word with him. The Emperor, rather irritated at being so duped, said, "Mr. Ambassador, it will not do to eat so much without drinking, therefore you, or some one of your people, must drink all the water out of the fountains, aqueducts, and reservoirs that are in the city, and all the wine that can be found in the cellars." "Sire," said Fortuné, "you are endeavouring to make it impossible for me to obey your orders: however, I would not mind attempting the adventure, if I might flatter myself you would ​restore to the King, my master, what I have asked for him." "I will do it," said the Emperor, "if you succeed in your undertaking." The Chevalier asked the Emperor if he would be present; he replied, it would be so extraordinary a thing, that it deserved his attention, and getting into a magnificent chariot, he drove to the Fountain of Lions: there were seven marble lions, which threw from their mouths torrents of water, which formed a river, upon which the inhabitants traversed the city in gondolas. Tippler approached the great bason, and without taking breath, he drained it as dry as though there had never been any water in it. The fish in the river cried vengeance against him, for they knew not what had happened; in like manner he did by all the other fountains, aqueducts, and reservoirs; in fact, he could have drunk the sea, he was so thirsty. After such an example the Emperor did not doubt but that he could drink the wine as easily as the water, and everybody was too much provoked to be willing to give him their own. But Tippler complained of the great injustice they were doing him; he said he should have the stomach-ache, and that he not only expected the wine, but that the spirits were also his due; so that Matapa, fearing he might appear covetous, consented to Tippler's request. Fortuné took his opportunity of begging the Emperor to recollect his promise. At these words he looked very stern, and told him he would think of it. In fact he called his council together, and expressed his extreme vexation at having promised this young ambassador to return all he had won from his master; that he had considered the conditions he had attached thereunto were impossible to be accomplished, and quite sufficient to prevent his compliance. The Princess, his daughter, who was one of the most lovely creatures in the world, having heard him speak thus, said, "You are aware, Sire, that up to the present moment I have beaten all those who have dared to dispute the prize in a race with me. You must tell the ambassador that if he can reach before me a certain spot that shall be marked out, you will no longer hesitate to keep your word with him." The Emperor embraced his child, thought her advice admirable, and the next morning received Fortuné very graciously.

"I have one more condition to make," said he, "which is, that you, or one of your people, should run a race with the ​Princess, my daughter. I swear by all the elements, that if she be beaten I will give every satisfaction to your master." Fortuné did not refuse this challenge; he told the Emperor that he accepted it, and Matapa immediately added that it should be in two hours. He sent to his daughter to get ready—it was an exercise she was accustomed to from her earliest infancy: she appeared in an avenue of orange-trees three leagues long, and which was so beautifully gravelled, that not a stone the size of a pin's head could be seen in it: she had on a light rose-coloured taffety dress, embroidered down the seams with gold and silver spangles; her beautiful hair was tied by a ribbon at the back, and fell carelessly upon her shoulders; she wore extremely pretty little shoes without heels, and a girdle of jewels, which displayed her figure sufficiently to prove there had never been seen one more beautiful—the young Atalanta could never have disputed it with her.

Fortuné arrived, followed by the faithful Swift, and his other attendants. The Emperor took his seat with all his Court. The ambassador announced that Swift would have the honour of running against the Princess. The Turkey-leather trunk had furnished him with a Holland cloth suit trimmed with English lace, flame-coloured silk stockings, feathers to match, and some beautiful linen. In this dress he looked very handsome; the Princess accepted him as her competitor, but before they set off she had some sort of liqueur brought her, which would strengthen, and give her additional speed. Swift said he ought to have some as well, and that the advantages ought to be equal. "Willingly," said she, "I am too just to refuse you." She immediately poured some out for him, but as he was not accustomed to this water, which was very strong, it mounted suddenly into his head; he made two or three turns, and falling down at the foot of an orange-tree, went fast asleep.

In the meanwhile the signal was given for starting. They had already given it three times; the Princess kindly waited for Swift to awake; she thought at last that it was of great consequence to free her father from the perplexity he was in, and accordingly she set off with wonderful grace and speed. As Fortuné was at the other end of the avenue, with all his people, he knew nothing of what was passing, till he saw the Princess running alone, and hardly half a league from ​the winning place. "Ye gods!" cried he, speaking to his horse, "we are lost; I see nothing of Swift." "My lord," said Comrade, "Fine-Ear must listen, perhaps he will be able to tell us what he is about." Fine-Ear threw himself upon the ground, and although he was two leagues from him, he could hear him snoring. "Truly," said he, "he has no thoughts of coming; he sleeps as though he was in bed." "Ah! what shall we do then?" again cried Fortuné. "Master," said Comrade, "the good Marksman must let fly an arrow at the tip of his ear, to awake him." The good Marksman took his bow, and aimed so truly, that he pierced Swift's ear: the pain woke him, he opened his eyes, he saw the Princess nearly at the goal, and heard nothing but shouts of joy, and great applause. He was at first astonished, but he soon regained the ground he had lost by sleeping. It appeared as though the winds were carrying him along, and they could not follow him with their eyes—in short, he arrived first, with the arrow still in his ear, for he had not had the time to take it out.

The Emperor was so astonished at the three events which had come to pass since the arrival of the ambassador, that he believed the gods favoured him, and that he could no longer defer keeping his word. "Approach," said he to Fortuné, "that you may learn from my own lips, that I consent that you shall take from hence as much as you, or one of your men can carry, of your master's treasures; for you cannot suppose I would ever do more than that, nor that I would let either his soldiers, his subjects, or his horses go." The ambassador made him a profound bow; he told him that he was much obliged to him, and that he begged he would give his orders thereupon.

Matapa, excessively mortified, spoke to his treasurer, and then went to a palace that he had just without the walls of the city. Fortuné and his attendants immediately asked for admission into all the places where the king's furniture, curiosities, money, and jewels were deposited. They hid nothing from him, but it was on condition that but one man should be laden with them. Strong-back made his appearance, and with his assistance the ambassador carried off all the furniture that was in the Emperor's palace, five hundred statues of gold taller than giants, coaches, chariots, and all sorts of ​things, without exception, with which Strongback walked so swiftly, it seemed as though he had not a pound weight upon his back.

When the Emperor's ministers saw that the palace was dismantled to such an extent that there were neither chairs, nor chests, nor saucepans, nor a bed to lie upon, they hastened to warn him of it—and one may judge of his surprise, when he learned that one man carried everything. He exclaimed that he would not suffer it, and commanded his guards and musqueteers to mount, and speedily follow the robbers. Although Fortuné was more than ten leagues off, Fine-Ear told him that he heard a large body of cavalry galloping towards them, and the good Marksman, who had an excellent sight, saw them at that distance. Fortuné, who with his men had just arrived on the banks of a river, said to Tippler, "We have no boats; if thou couldst drink some of this water, we might be able to ford the river." Tippler instantly performed his duty. The ambassador was anxious to make the best use of his time, and get away; his horse said to him, "Do not be uneasy, let our enemies approach." They appeared upon the opposite bank, and knowing where the fishermen moored their boats, they speedily embarked in them, and rowed with all their might, when Boisterous inflated his cheeks, and commenced blowing; the river became agitated, the boats were upset, and the Emperor's little army perished, without a single man escaping to tell the news.

Rejoiced at so favourable an event, each thought only of demanding the reward he considered he had deserved. They wanted to make themselves masters of all the treasures they had brought away, and a great dispute arose between them upon the division.

"If I had not won the prize," said the runner, "you would have had nothing." "And if I had not heard you snoring," said Fine-ear, "where should we have been then?" "Who would have awakened thee without me?" responded the Good Marksman. "In truth," added Strongback, "I admire your arguments: who ought to dispute the right of first choice with me, since I have had the trouble of carrying it all? Without my assistance, you would not have had the opportunity of sharing it." "Say, rather, without mine," rejoined Tippler; "the river that I drank like a glass of ​lemonade would have puzzled you a little." "You would have been much more puzzled, if I had not upset the boats," said Boisterous. "I have been silent till now," interrupted Eater, "but I must remark that it was I who opened the ball in the great events which have passed; and that if I had left but a crust of bread, all would have been lost."

"My friends," said Fortuné, with a commanding air, "you have all done wonders; but we ought to leave it to the King to acknowledge our services. I should be very sorry to be rewarded by any other hand than his. Believe me, let us leave all to his will; he sent us to recover his treasures, and not to steal them. The thought of it even is so shameful, that I am of opinion it should never be mentioned again; and I assure you, I myself will do so much for you, that you will have nothing to regret, if it be possible the King should neglect you."

The seven gifted men, deeply penetrated by their master's remonstrance, fell at his feet, and promised him that his will should be theirs; and with this determination they finished their journey. But the charming Fortuné, as he approached the city, felt agitated by a thousand various anxieties;—the joy at having rendered such a considerable service to the King,—to him for whom he felt so much affection,—the hope of seeing him—of being favourably received,—all this flattered him delightfully. On the other hand, the fear of again irritating the Queen, and experiencing renewed persecutions from her, and from Floride, distressed him very much. At length he arrived; and all the people, overjoyed to see the immense quantity of valuables he had brought back with him, followed him with a thousand acclamations, the noise of which reached the palace.

The King could not believe in so extraordinary an event, and ran to the Queen, to inform her of it. She was at first quite thunderstruck, but afterwards recovered herself a little. "You see," said she, "that the gods protect him: he has fortunately succeeded, and I am not surprised that he undertakes that which appears impossible to others." As she uttered these words, she saw Fortuné enter. He informed their majesties of the success of his journey, adding that the treasures were in the park, as there was so much gold, jewels, and furniture, there were no places sufficiently large to put ​them in. It is easy to believe that the King evinced much affection for so faithful, zealous, and charming a subject.

The presence of the Chevalier, and all the successes he had achieved, reopened the wound in the Queen's heart, that had never been quite healed. She thought him more charming than ever; and as soon as she was at liberty to speak to Floride, she recommenced her complaints. "Thou hast seen what I have done to ruin him," said she; "I thought it the only means of forgetting him. An unequalled fatality brings him back to me again; and whatever reasons I had to despise a man so much my inferior, and who returned my affections with the blackest ingratitude, I cannot help loving him still, and I am resolved to marry him privately." "To marry him?" cried Floride; "is it possible?—have I heard rightly?" "Yes," replied the Queen, "thou hast heard my intentions; thou must aid me. I desire thee to bring Fortuné this evening to my chamber; I will myself declare to what extent my love for him will carry me." Floride, in despair at being chosen to assist in forwarding the marriage of her mistress and her lover, tried every means to dissuade the Queen from seeing him; she represented the King's anger, if he came and discovered this intrigue; that perhaps he would order the Chevalier to be executed, or at least condemn him to perpetual imprisonment, and she would never see him more. All her eloquence was in vain; she saw the Queen was beginning to be angry;—she had nothing, therefore, to do but obey her.

She found Fortuné in the gallery of the palace, where he was having the golden statues arranged that he had brought from Matapa. She told him to come in the evening to the Queen. This order made him tremble. Floride perceived his distress. "Oh," said she, "how I pity you! By what unlucky fate did the Princess lose her heart to you! Alas! I know one less dangerous than hers, that dare not declare itself." The Chevalier was not anxious for another explanation,—he had already too much to endure; and as he did not seek to please the Queen, he dressed himself very plainly, that she might not imagine he endeavoured to set himself off; but though he could dispense with his diamonds and his embroideries, he could not get rid of his personal charms—he was still lovely, still admirable, whatever humour he was in. There was no one to be compared to him.

​The Queen took great pains to heighten the lustre of her appearance by an extraordinary display of dress; she saw with pleasure that Fortuné was astonished. "Appearances," said she, "are sometimes so deceitful, that I am delighted to justify myself from the charges you no doubt brought against me in your heart. When I induced the King to send you to the Emperor, it seemed as though my object was to destroy you. Nevertheless, depend upon it, handsome Chevalier, that I knew all that would happen, and that I had no other view than your immortal honour." "Madam," said he, "you are too much above me to render it necessary you should condescend to any explanation. I do not presume to inquire into the motives that induced you to act thus; it was sufficient for me that I should obey the King." "You set too light a value on the explanation I wish to give you," added she; "but the time has arrived to convince you of my favour. Approach, Fortuné, approach; receive my hand as a pledge of my faith."

The poor Chevalier was more thunderstruck than anybody had ever been in the world. Twenty times he was on the point of declaring his sex to the Queen, but durst not do so, and only responded to her tokens of love by an excessive coldness of manner. He pointed out to her the numberless reasons for the King's anger, when he should hear that a subject, in the midst of his Court, should have ventured to contract so important a marriage without his sanction. After the Queen had vainly endeavoured to remove the obstacles that appeared to alarm him, she all at once assumed the voice and countenance of a fury; she flew into the most violent passion; she threatened him with a thousand punishments; she loaded him with abuse; she fought and scratched him; and then, turning her rage upon herself, she tore her hair, made her face and throat bleed, rent her veil and her lace; then crying out, "Help, guards!—help!" called them into her chamber, and commanded them to fling that wretch into some dungeon; and ran herself to the King, to demand reparation for the violence of that young monster.

She told her brother, that for some time past he had had the audacity to declare his passion for her, that in the hope that absence, and her severity towards him, might have cured him, she had allowed no opportunity to pass of having him ​removed from the Court, as the King might have observed; but that he was a villain that nothing could alter, that the King could see the extremities to which he had proceeded against her, that she insisted on his being brought to justice; and that if that satisfaction was denied her she would know the reason of it.

The manner in which she spoke to the King alarmed him, for he knew her to be one of the most violent women in the world; she had much power, and she was quite capable of overturning the kingdom. Fortuné's boldness merited an exemplary punishment; everybody was already aware of what had occurred, and his own feelings ought to prompt him to avenge his sister. But, alas! upon whom was this vengeance to alight?—upon a gentleman who had exposed himself to so many perils in his service, to whom he was indebted for peace, and all his treasures, and for whom he had a particular affection,—he would have given half his life to have saved his dear favourite. He represented to the Queen how useful he had been to him, the services he had rendered the kingdom, his youth, and everything that might induce her to pardon him. She would not hear of it,—she demanded his death. The King, finding he could not possibly avoid having him tried, appointed the mildest and most tender-hearted judges, in hopes they would visit the offence as light as possible.

But he was mistaken in his conjectures; the judges were for establishing their reputation at the expense of this unfortunate prisoner; and as it was an affair that would make much noise in the world, they armed themselves with the utmost severity, and condemned Fortuné without deigning to hear him. His sentence was, that he should be stabbed three times to the heart with a poignard, because it was his heart that was guilty.

The King trembled at this sentence as though it had been passed upon himself; he banished all the judges who had pronounced it, but could not save his beloved Fortuné;[5] and ​the Queen triumphed in the punishment he was to suffer—her eyes thirsting for blood demanded that of her illustrious victim. The King renewed his intercessions, but they only served to exasperate her. At length, the day fixed for this terrible execution arrived. They came to lead the Chevalier from the prison in which they had placed him, and where he had been living without a single person in the world to speak to. He was therefore ignorant of what crime the Queen had accused him, and merely imagined it some new persecution his indifference to her had brought upon him; and that which distressed him the most was, that he believed the King participated with the Princess in her rage against him. Floride, inconsolable at seeing the situation in which her lover was placed, took a most violent resolution, which was to poison the Queen and herself if Fortuné should be doomed to a cruel death. From the moment she knew the sentence, despair seized her; she thought but of how to put her intentions into effect. The poison she procured, however, was not as powerful as she desired, for although she had given it to the Queen, that Princess, not feeling the effects of it, caused the charming Chevalier to be brought into the great square of the palace, that the execution might take place in her presence. The executioners brought him from his dungeon according to their custom, and led him like a tender lamb to the slaughter. The first object that struck his sight was the Queen in her chariot, who could not be too near him, wishing if possible that his blood might spurt out upon her. The King shut himself up in his chamber, that he might lament unchecked the fate of his beloved favourite.

When they had tied Fortuné to the stake, they tore off his robe and his vest to pierce his heart, but what was the astonishment of this numerous assembly, when they uncovered the alabaster bosom of Belle-belle! Everybody saw it was an innocent girl, unjustly accused. The Queen was so agitated and confused at such a sight that the poison began to take extraordinary effect. She fell into long convulsions, from which she only recovered to utter agonising ​lamentations. The people who loved Fortuné had already given her her liberty. They ran to announce this wonderful news to the King, who had abandoned himself to the deepest grief. Joy now took the place of sorrow; he ran into the square, and was delighted to perceive Fortuné's transformation.

The last sighs of the Queen somewhat subdued his raptures, but when he reflected upon her malice he could not regret her. He resolved to marry Belle-belle, to repay her for the great obligations he was under to her, and declared his intentions to her. It is easy to believe she was at the height of her wishes, not so much for the sake of the crown as for the sake of so worthy a monarch, and one for whom she had so long entertained the greatest affection.

The day being fixed for celebrating the King's marriage, Belle-belle reassumed her female attire, and appeared a thousand times more charming than in the garb of the Chevalier. She consulted her horse, as to her future adventures, and he promised her nothing but what would be agreeable; and in gratitude for all the good services he had done her, she had a stable built for him of ebony and ivory, and there was nothing meaner than a satin mattrass for him to lie down on. As for her seven followers, they were rewarded in proportion to their services. Comrade, however, disappeared; they came and told Belle-belle. This loss distressed the Queen, for she adored him; she ordered her horse to be sought for in every direction, which they did in vain for three whole days; the fourth day she was so uneasy, she was obliged to rise before it was light. She descended into the garden, traversed the wood, and entered a large meadow, calling, from time to time, "Comrade! my dear Comrade! what has become of you?—have you deserted me? I still require your sage advice; come back, come back, and give it me!" As she thus spoke, she suddenly perceived a second sun rising in the west, she stopped to admire this prodigy; her astonishment was without bounds to see it advancing towards her by degrees, and in the course of a few minutes, to recognise her horse, whose trappings were all covered with jewels, and who pranced before a chariot of pearls and topazes, which was drawn by twenty-four sheep; their wool was of gold thread and purl,[6] exceedingly brilliant; their traces were of crimson ​satin, covered with emeralds; and their horns and ears were ornamented with carbuncles. Belle-belle recognised in the chariot the Fairy her protectress, accompanied by the Count, her father, and her two sisters, who called out to her, clapping their hands, and making affectionate signs to her intimating that they had come to her wedding. She thought she should die with joy; she knew not what to do, or to say, to prove her delight. She placed herself in the chariot, and this pompous equipage entered the palace, where everything had already been prepared to celebrate the grandest ceremony which could take place in the kingdom. Thus the enamoured King united his fate to that of his mistress, and this charming adventure has passed from age to age down to the one we live in.

The lion upon Lybia's burning plain,
Press'd by the hunter, gall'd by countless darts,
May less be dreaded than that woman vain,
Who sees her charms despised, and foil'd her arts.
Poison and steel are trifles in her eyes,
As agents of her vengeance and her hate;
The dire effects that from such passions rise
You have beheld in Fortuné's strange fate.
The change to Belle-belle saved the guiltless fair,
And struck her royal persecutor down.
Heaven makes the innocent its special care,
And vice defeating, virtue loves to crown.[7]

The End

1. A testimony to the superiority of our locksmiths, even in those days.

2. Forte-échine, literally "strong chine." I have translated the names of the seven gifted servants: Forte-échine, Léger, le bon Tireur, Fine-oreille, l'Impétueux, Trinquet and Grugeon, as they are supposed to be nicknames bestowed upon them by the people of the country, and not their proper appellations.

3. Gonesse is a little village in the neighbourhood of Paris, which was celebrated for its very white and delicate bread. During the wars of the Fronde, the pain de Gonesse was the luxury the deprivation of which was most regretted by the Parisians. Guy Patin, writing to his friend Spon at that period, when the Prince de Condé had cut off the supplies of the city by taking possession of the principal entrances to it, says, "Corbeil is of importance to us. It will be the first town we shall try to take. After that Lagny, after that we must take St. Denys, in order to get le pain de Gonesse for those who have delicate stomachs, and have been accustomed to it." Gonesse formed a portion of the ancient county of Paris, and was united with the domains of the Crown by Hugh Capet. Even in that early period, it was famed for its granaries. The principal inhabitants of the village were bound to watch "the King's Grange," by turns, every night during the month of August; but this service being construed into a species of serfdom which prevented them from marrying free women, they petitioned Louis IX., who affranchised them. The great King, Philippe Auguste, was born in this village, and was in consequence sometimes called De Gonesse; and Francis I., writing to Charles V. during their quarrels, styled himself ironically, "Par la grace de Dieu, Roi de France; et premier citoyen de Gonesse et de Vanves." So much wealth was amassed by the bakers of Gonesse, that marble monuments were frequently raised to the memory of the men as well as the masters; but very little bread has been made there during the present century, and what is still so called comes mostly from the Faubourgs of St. Denis and St. Martin. I trust the details of this note are sufficiently curious to excuse the length of it.

4. The celebrated composer, Lully, was, at the time these stories were written, in the zenith of his popularity; both at the court of Versailles, and with the public at large. He died in 1686.

5. This punishment of the judges without respiting the accused, is an incident which appears to have been founded on a strange story of Arragonese justice, told by the Countess in her Travels into Spain, "Yet what is no less singular," she says, "is, that justice remains always sovereign; and though the unjust judge be punished severely for his wrong decree, yet it subsists in its full force and is fully executed. If, then, any unhappy wretch is sentenced to death he is not spared, though his innocency be discovered, and made as clear as noonday; but his judges are executed too, before his face, which in my mind is a poor consolation."—Letter IV., dated Lerma, March 5, 1679.

6. Cunetille, Purl, is a sort of gold or silver lace or fringe.

7. Madame D'Aulnoy has in this instance certainly appended a very common-place moral to a very original story. The first four lines are a weak elaboration of the well-known English couplet—

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a fury like a woman scorn'd."
Congreve.—Mourning Bride.

All the Fairy Tales by Madame d'Aulnoy

Babiole - Also known as Babiola

Belle Belle; or, the Chevalier Fortuné

Finette Cendron - Alternate names for the tale are: The Story of Finetta or The Curious Story of Finetta or The Story of Finetta, or, The Cinder-Girl.

Fortunee - Also known as Felicia and the Pot of Pinks or The Pot of Carnations or The Pinks

Gracieuse and Percinet - Also known as Graciosa and Percinet

Princess Belle-Etoile and Prince Cheri

Princess Rosette

The Bee and the Orange - Also known as Tree The Orange-Tree and the Bee

The Benevolent Frog - Also known as The Beneficent Frog or The Friendly Frog

The Blue Bird

The Fair with Golden Hair - Also known as Princess Goldenhair, or The Story of Pretty Goldilocks, or The Fair Maid with Golden Locks, or The Beauty with Golden Hair, or Fair Goldilocks

The Golden Branch - Also known as The Golden Bough

The good little Mouse - Also known as The Little Good Mouse

The Green Serpent - Also known as The Green Dragon

The Imp Prince - Also known as Prince Sprite, or The Hobgoblin Prince, or The Imp Prince, or Prince Ariel, or Prince Elfin, or The Invisible Prince

The Pigeon and the Dove

The Princess Carpillon

The Princess Mayblossom - Also known as Princess Printaniere, or Princess Verenata and Princess Maia

The Ram - Also known as The Wonderful Sheep or Miranda and the Royal Ram, or The Royal Ram, or, The Wishes

The White Cat

The White Doe - Also known as The Doe in the Woods, or The Hind in the Woods, or The Story of the Hind in the Forest, or The Enchanted Hind, or The Hind of the Forest, or The White Fawn

The Yellow Dwarf

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