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The Pigeon and the Dove - a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy

 Read "The Pigeon and the Dove" fairy tale for all children. "The Pigeon and the Dove" story, is a bedtime Story for kids written by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy about a king and a queen who loved each other very much and were an example to any married family in their kingdom. They had many children, but unfortunately they all died, except for a very beautiful girl whom they had named Constancia. One day, the king went hunting, but his horse got scared and fell into a precipice, seriously injuring the king. Unfortunately, the king died, and the queen was badly affected and wished for her own death. The queen called the Sovereign Fairy to her and asked her to take care of her daughter, Princess Constancia. The fairy told him that he would raise the princess as his own daughter, and the queen died peacefully.

"The Pigeon and the Dove"
a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy

Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen, who loved each other so dearly, that they served as an example to all their wedded subjects; and it would have surprised any one to find a disunited family in their kingdom, which was called the Kingdom of Deserts.

The Queen had had several children, but they had all died except a daughter, whose beauty was so great, that if anything could have consoled her for the loss of the others, it would have been the charms that distinguished the survivor. The King and Queen educated her as their only hope; but the happiness of the royal family was of short duration. The King being out hunting one day on a skittish horse, the animal took fright at some shots that were fired, and started off with him like lightning. The King endeavoured to pull him up as he was approaching the brink of a precipice; he reared and fell with the King under him, who received such severe injury, that he died before any of his suite could come up to his assistance.

The fatal intelligence reduced the Queen to the greatest extremity. She could not control her grief; she felt it was too violent for her to attempt resisting its effects; and thought only of settling the affairs of the kingdom in such a manner, that she might die in peace as far as regarded the future welfare of her daughter. She had a friend who was called the Sovereign Fairy, because she had great authority over all empires, and was exceedingly skilful. She wrote to her, with her dying hand, to express her desire to breathe her last in the Fairy's arms; to tell her that she must come quickly if she wished to see her once more alive, and that she had something of consequence to say to her.

​Though the Fairy was extremely busy, she left everything she was about, and, getting into her fiery chariot, which went faster than the sun, she came to the Queen, who was impatiently awaiting her. She consulted the Fairy on several matters touching the regency of the kingdom, begging her to accept it, and take charge of the little Princess Constancia. "If anything," she added, "can calm the anxiety I feel at leaving her an orphan at so early an age, it is the hope that you will prove the friendship which you have always manifested for me by extending it to my child; that she will find in you a mother, who has the power of rendering her much more happy and perfect than I could have done, and that you will select a husband for her so charming, that she will never love anybody but him." "Great Queen," said the Fairy, "thou desirest nothing that thou art not justified in desiring, and I will neglect no means of befriending thy daughter; but I have cast her nativity, and it appears as if Fate, angry with Nature for having exhausted all her treasures in the formation of the Princess, had resolved to make her suffer; and thy royal Majesty must be aware, that Destiny pronounces some sentences so imperatively, that it is impossible to evade their execution." "At least," rejoined the Queen, "alleviate her misfortunes, and do all in your power to prevent them. By vigilant attention, the greatest evils may sometimes be avoided." The Sovereign Fairy promised to do all she desired; and the Queen, having embraced her dear Constancia a hundred times over, expired in tolerable tranquillity.

The Fairy read the stars as easily as we do the new stories that every day issue from the press. She saw that the Princess was threatened with the fatal love of a giant, whose dominions were not far distant from the Kingdom of Deserts. She was fully aware that it was above all things necessary to avoid him, and she saw no better mode of doing so, than by concealing her dear ward at some extreme corner of the earth, so far distant from the territory over which the Giant ruled, that there would be little probability of his coming to trouble their repose.

As soon as the Sovereign Fairy had selected ministers capable of governing the state she intended to confide to them, and had established such excellent laws, that all the ​sages of Greece could not have devised any comparable to them, she entered, one night, the chamber of Constancia, and without waking her, carried her off on her fiery camel to a fertile country, where people lived without ambition or trouble; it was a real valley of Tempè, where no one was to be found but shepherds and shepherdesses, who dwelt in cottages of their own construction.

The Fairy was aware, that if the Princess passed sixteen years without seeing the Giant, she had only to return in triumph to her kingdom: but that if he set eyes on her sooner, she would be exposed to great sufferings. The Fairy, therefore, took every precaution to conceal the Princess from the sight of everybody, and that she might appear less handsome, she dressed her like a shepherdess, with coarse caps always pulled over her forehead; but as the sun darts its long rays of light through the cloud that envelopes it, this lovely princess could not be so shrouded but that some of her charms must be observable; and notwithstanding all the Fairy's care, Constancia was spoken of as a master-piece of the gods, that enchanted all hearts. Her beauty was not the only thing that rendered her a wonder; the Sovereign Fairy had endowed her with so admirable a voice, and such skill in touching any instrument she fancied playing on, that without having ever been taught music, she was capable of giving lessons to the Muses, and even to celestial Apollo himself: she was not dull, therefore, in her solitude. The Fairy had explained to her the reasons she had for bringing her up in such obscurity. As she had great good sense, she comprehended them so perfectly, that her protectress was astonished that any one so young could display so much docility and intelligence. She had not visited the Kingdom of Deserts for some months, as it was always painful for her to leave the Princess; but her presence there had become necessary, as they only acted by her orders, and the ministers were not equally attentive to their duties. She departed, therefore, strictly advising Constancia to lock herself up until she should return.

The fair Princess had a little ram she was very fond of. She amused herself with making garlands of flowers for him, or sometimes with dressing him up with bows of riband; she called him Ruson. He was more intelligent than any of his ​companions. He knew the voice, and understood the commands of his mistress, and obeyed her implicitly. "Ruson," she would say to him, "fetch me my spindle;" he would run into her room, and bring it to her immediately, cutting a thousand capers. He frisked about her, he would eat nothing but the herbs she gathered for him, and would rather have died with thirst, than drink anywhere except out of the hollow of her hand. He would shut the door, beat time when she sang, and bleat in tune. Ruson was charming; Ruson was beloved; Constancia talked to him eternally, and lavished on him a thousand caresses.

Notwithstanding all this, a pretty ewe in the neighbourhood was not less agreeable to Ruson than his mistress. Sheep are but sheep, and the meanest ewe was, in Ruson's eyes, more beautiful than the mother of love. Constancia often reproached him for his gallantries. "Little libertine," said she to him, "canst thou not stay with me? Thou art so dear to me that I neglect all my flock for thee, and yet thou wilt not forsake that sorry ewe to please me." She tied him up with a chain of flowers, at which he seemed very much vexed, and pulled and pulled till he broke it. "Ah!" said Constancia, angrily, to him, "The Fairy has often told me that men are wilful as thou art; that they cannot endure the slightest constraint, and are the most refractory creatures in the world. Since thou wouldst be like them, naughty Ruson, Go, find thy beautiful beast of a ewe! If the wolf devour thee, devoured thou must be; I may not be able to help thee."

The amorous ram paid no attention to the advice of Constancia. Having been all day long with his dear ewe, close by the cottage in which the Princess sat alone at her work, she suddenly heard him bleat so loudly and pitifully, that she felt sure some fatal accident had happened to him. She rose in great agitation, looked out, and saw a wolf carrying off poor Ruson. She no longer thought of all the Fairy had said to her at parting. She ran after the robber, crying, "A wolf! A wolf!" She pursued him, flinging stones, and even her crook, at him without making him quit his prey; but alas! in passing near a wood, there came out of it another sort of wolf—a horrible giant! At the sight of this dreadful colossus, the Princess, paralyzed with fright, raised her eyes ​to heaven for succour, and prayed the earth to open and swallow her. Neither earth nor heaven listened to her prayer; she deserved to be punished for not having obeyed the Sovereign Fairy.

The Giant spread out his arms to prevent her passing, but terrible and furious as he was, he felt the effect of her beauty. "What rank holdest thou amongst the goddesses?" said he, in a voice louder than thunder. "For think not I can be mistaken;—thou art no mortal. Tell me but thy name, and if thou art the daughter or the wife of Jupiter? Who are thy brothers? What are thy sisters? I have long sought for a goddess to make her my wife, and happily I have now met with thee!" The Princess felt tongue-tied with terror; the accents died away upon her lips.

As he found she made no answer to his gallant questions, "For a divinity," said he, "thou hast but little wit;" and without more words he opened a great sack and flung her into it.

The first thing she saw at the bottom of it was the wicked wolf and the poor ram; the giant had amused himself by catching them. "Thou wilt die with me, my dear Ruson," said she, kissing him. "'Tis a poor consolation; it would be much better if we could escape together."

This sad reflection made her weep bitterly; she sobbed and sighed aloud. Ruson bleated; the wolf howled; this noise awoke a dog, a cat, a cock, and a parrot, who had been all asleep, and they began in their turn to make a frantic noise. Here was a strange uproar in the Giant's game-bag. At last, being tired with hearing them, he determined to kill them all; but on second thoughts, contented himself with tying the mouth of the sack and throwing it on the top of a tree, after having marked it, that he might know where to look for his spoil again. He was on his road to fight a duel with another giant, and all this outcry displeased him.

The Princess felt sure that, let him but have taken a step or two, he was already a long way off; for a horse at full speed could not overtake him when he was but sauntering. She drew out her scissors and cut the cloth of the sack, then let out her dear Ruson, the dog, the cat, the cock, and the parrot; and lastly got out herself, leaving the wolf behind, to punish him for eating poor little sheep. The night was very ​dark; it was strange for her to find herself alone, in the midst of a forest, without knowing which way to turn her steps; not being able to catch a glimpse of earth or sky, and dreading every instant to meet the Giant again.

She walked as fast as she could, and would have fallen a hundred times over, but the animals she had set at liberty, grateful for the favour they had received at her hands, would not forsake her, and were very serviceable to her on her journey. The cat's eyes were so bright that they lighted her like a flambeau; the dog by his barking acted as sentinel; the cock crowed to frighten the lions;[1] the parrot chattered so loudly, that, to hear him, you would have thought twenty people were talking together—so that the robbers slunk away and left the road free for the passage of our fair traveller; and the ram, walking a little in advance of her, preserved her from tumbling into some great holes, which he had considerable difficulty himself in scrambling out of.

Constancia walked at random, recommending herself to her good friend the Fairy, from whom she hoped to receive some assistance, although she reproached herself severely for not having obeyed her commands; but sometimes she feared she was forsaken by her. She would have been very glad if chance could have led her back to the cottage in which she had been secretly brought up; but, as she knew not the way, she did not venture to flatter herself that anything but an especial interposition of Providence could procure her that happiness.

She found herself at daybreak on the bank of a river that watered one of the most agreeable meadows in the world. She looked about her, and saw neither dog, nor cat, nor cock, nor parrot; Ruson was her sole remaining companion.

"Alas! where am I?" said she: "This beautiful spot is unknown to me. What will become of me? Who will protect me? Ah! little ram, how dearly hast thou cost me! If I had not run after thee, I should still be with the Sovereign Fairy, I should neither be in fear of the Giant nor of any unfortunate adventure." Ruson seemed to tremble as he listened to her, and to be aware of his fault. At last the Princess, weary and depressed, left off chiding him, and seated herself beside the ​water; and as she was very tired, and the shade of several trees protected her from the heat of the sun, her eyes closed gently, her head sank on the grass, and she fell into a deep slumber.

She had no one to guard her but the faithful Ruson. Suddenly he trod upon her, and pulled her; and what was her astonishment on waking, to perceive, about twenty paces from her, a young man behind some bushes, where he had hidden himself to see without being seen. The beauty of his form and face, the nobleness of his manner, and the magnificence of his dress so surprised the Princess, that she rose hastily, with the intention of hurrying away. I know not what secret spell arrested her flight. She cast a timid glance on the stranger; the Giant had scarcely caused her so much alarm; but fear arises from various causes. The looks and actions of this youthful pair sufficiently indicated the sentiments with which they had already inspired each other.

They would have remained, perhaps, a long time without speaking, except with their eyes, if the Prince had not heard the sound of horns, and the cry of the hounds approaching. He saw that the Princess was astonished at it. "Fear nothing, beautiful shepherdess," said he to her; "you are safe in this spot: would to Heaven those who see you here were equally so."

"My Lord," said she, "I implore your protection. I am a poor orphan, who has no other course left her but to become a shepherdess. Obtain for me the charge of a flock; I will tend it most carefully." "Happy will be the sheep," said he smiling, "that you lead to the pastures; but in short, lovely shepherdess, if you desire it, I will speak to the Queen, my mother, and shall feel delighted to begin from this day to render you all the service in my power." "Ah, my Lord," said Constancia, "I crave your pardon for the liberty I have taken; I should not have dared so much had I known your rank."

The Prince heard her with the utmost astonishment. He discovered in her, great intelligence and polished manners. Nothing could accord better with her exquisite beauty; but nothing could be less expected from the plainness of her attire, and her condition of a shepherdess. He even endeavoured to induce her to make choice of some other employment. "Have you reflected," said he, "that you expose yourself to pass the ​day all alone in a wood, or on some downs, with no company but your simple sheep? Will the delicate bearing I remark in you accommodate itself to such solitude? Who knows, besides, if the fame of your charms, when it shall spread through the country, will not attract to you a thousand importunate lovers? I, myself, adorable shepherdess, will leave the court to follow you, and what I do, others will do also."

"Cease, my Lord," said she, "to flatter me by praises so far beyond my desert. I was born in a village; I have never known any other than a rustic life, and I hope you will allow me quietly to keep the Queen's sheep, if she will deign to confide them to my care. I would even beseech her to place me under some more experienced shepherdess, and then, as I should be always with her, it is quite certain I should never feel dull."

The Prince was prevented from replying; his attendants appeared on the brow of a little hill. "I leave you, charming creature," he cried, hurriedly; "I cannot allow so many to share the happiness I enjoy in beholding you. Go to the end of this meadow; you will find a house there, in which you may dwell in safety, if you say you come from me." Constancia, who would have been much troubled at finding herself in such a numerous company, hastened towards the spot to which Constancio (such was the Prince's name) had directed her.

He followed her with his eyes; he sighed tenderly, and, mounting his horse, placed himself at the head of his company, and discontinuing the chace, returned to the palace. He found the Queen exceedingly irritated against an old shepherdess, who had given her a very bad account of her lambs. After the Queen had well scolded her, she ordered her never to appear in her presence again.

This was a favourable opportunity for Constancio; he told his mother he had met a young girl who was very desirous of entering her service, that she looked like a careful person, and did not seem mercenary. The Queen was much pleased with her son's account of this shepherdess; she accepted her offer without seeing her, and desired the Prince to give orders for her to be sent, with the rest, to the pastures belonging to the crown. He was enchanted that the Queen dispensed with the appearance of the shepherdess at the palace. Certain busy and jealous feelings made him apprehensive of rivals, ​notwithstanding there were none who could dispute with him, either in rank or in merit. In point of fact, he was less afraid of the nobles than of the humbler persons about the court, and imagined her more likely to take a fancy to a simple shepherd than to a prince who was so near to the throne. It would be difficult to recount all the reflections to which this gave rise. How he reproached his heart—that heart which till now had never loved, which had never thought any one worthy of him, had now bestowed itself on a girl of such obscure origin, that he could never own his passion without a blush. He determined to struggle with it; and, persuading himself that absence was an unfailing remedy, particularly in the case of a dawning affection, he avoided the sight of the shepherdess. He followed his favourite amusement of hunting, and other sports. Wherever he caught sight of sheep, he turned from them as though they had been serpents; so that, after some little time, the wound he had received appeared less painful to him. But on one of the hottest of the dog-days, Constancio, fatigued by a long run with the hounds, finding himself on the banks of the river, followed its course under the shade of the lote-trees,[2] that mixed their branches with the willows, and rendered this spot as cool as it was lovely. He fell into a profound reverie; he was alone, and he thought no longer of all those who were waiting for him; when suddenly he was struck by the charming tones of a voice, which seemed to him celestial. He stopped to listen, and was not a little surprised to hear these words:—

"Alas! I had vowed I would live without Love,
But perjured the God has resolved I should prove,
I feel in my bosom his torturing dart,
Constancio, master he makes of my heart!

"When weary with hunting, oppress'd by the heat,
He sought the cool shade of this tranquil retreat,
Methought, as I breathlessly gazed on him there,
My eyes ne'er had feasted on vision so fair.

"Mute, motionless, lost, in that moment of bliss,
The treacherous archer his mark could not miss;
Too sweet is the pain that I since have endured,
I joy in a wound that can never be cured."

His curiosity prevailed over the pleasure he experienced in listening to so sweet a voice; he advanced quickly. He had ​caught the name of Constancio; but though it was his own, it might be that of a shepherd as well as of a prince; and he was therefore uncertain, whether it was for him, or for some other, those verses had been composed. He had scarcely mounted a little eminence, covered with trees, when he perceived, at the foot of it, the lovely Constancia; she was seated by the side of a streamlet, the rapid fall of which caused so agreeable a sound, that it appeared as if intended to harmonise with her voice. Her faithful ram crouched on the grass, kept, like the favourite of the flock, much closer to her than any of the others. Constancia gave him occasionally little taps with her crook, caressing him with childish affection; and every time she touched him, he kissed her hand, and looked up in her face with eyes beaming with intelligence. "Ah! how happy wouldst thou be," said the Prince, in an undertone, "if thou didst but know the value of the caresses lavished on thee!" Surely, this shepherdess is more beautiful than when I first saw her. Love! Love! what wouldst thou with me? Ought I to love her? or, rather, am I longer in a condition to resist it? I have studiously avoided her, because I knew full well the danger of seeing her. Ye gods! what emotions did I not suffer from the first! Reason essayed to help me, and I fled so enchanting an object. Alas! I meet with her but to hear her sing of the happy youth she has chosen!"

Whilst he thus meditated, the shepherdess rose to collect her flock, and drive them into another meadow, where she had left her companions. The Prince feared to lose this opportunity of speaking to her; he advanced towards her eagerly. "Charming shepherdess," said he to her, "will you not allow me to ask, if the little service I have rendered you has given you some gratification?" At the sight of the Prince, Constancia blushed; her cheeks became tinged with the deepest crimson. "My Lord," said she to him, "I should have taken care to offer you my very humble thanks, if it could have befitted a poor girl like me to approach a Prince like you; but though I have not done so, heaven is my witness that I am not ungrateful for your kindness, and that I pray the gods to crown your days with happiness." "Constancia," replied he, "if it be true that my endeavours to serve you have inspired you with so much gratitude as you ​profess, it is easy for you to prove it to me." "Ah, what can I possibly do for you, my Lord?" inquired Constancia, eagerly. "You can tell me," added he, "to whom the words applied which I have just heard you sing." "As they are not mine," she answered, "it would be difficult for me to give you any information on that subject." While she spoke, he examined her countenance narrowly; he saw she blushed, that she was confused, and kept her eyes fixed on the ground. "Why would you conceal your feelings from me, Constancia?" said he. "Your face betrays the secret of your heart—you love!" He paused, and riveted his glances still more earnestly upon her. "My Lord," said she, "that which interests me so little deserves the attention of a great Prince; and I am so unused to talking while I tend my dear sheep, that I beseech you to pardon me if I do not answer your questions." She made so hasty a retreat, that he had not time to stop her.

Jealousy will sometimes rekindle the torch of Love. The Prince's passion at this moment burst into such a flame, that nothing could ever extinguish it. He discovered a thousand graces in that young maiden which he had not remarked the first time he saw her. The manner in which she had left him, convinced him as much as her words that she was partial to some shepherd; a deep melancholy took possession of his soul. He dared not follow her, great as was his anxiety to renew the conversation. He flung himself upon the spot she had just quitted, and after recalling to his memory the verses he had heard her sing, he wrote them down in his tablets, and examined them carefully. "It is only within these few days," said he, "she has seen this Constancio, who so occupies her thoughts. Must I bear the same name, and be so far from his good fortune? How coldly she looked on me! she seemed more indifferent to-day than when I first met with her. Her chief care was to find some pretext for leaving me." These thoughts afflicted him deeply, for he could not comprehend how a simple shepherdess could be so indifferent to a powerful prince.

As soon as he returned to the palace, he sent for a youth who was his companion in all his pleasures; he was of high birth, and very amiable. He ordered him to assume the dress of a shepherd, obtain a flock, and lead it every day to the Queen's pastures, in order to observe Constancia without ​being suspected by her. Mirtain (so was the young gentleman named) was too anxious to please his master to neglect an opportunity of so doing in a matter which appeared so much to interest him. He promised to obey his commands to the best of his ability; and the very next morning he was ready to proceed to the pastures. The keeper of them would not have admitted him, had he not produced an order from the Prince, in which it was stated that he was the Prince's shepherd, and had charge of his flock.

He was immediately permitted to mix with the rural company. He was very gallant, and easily succeeded in making himself agreeable to the shepherdesses generally; but with regard to Constancia, he found she possessed a spirit so far above what she appeared to be, that he could not reconcile the existence of so much beauty, wit, and merit with the rude and country life she led. It was in vain be followed her; he always found her alone in the depths of the forest, singing abstractedly. He observed no shepherd venture to attempt to please her; it seemed to be too difficult a task. Mirtain made that great attempt himself; he courted her assiduously, and learned from his own experience that she declined forming any engagement. Every evening he reported to the Prince the state of affairs; all the information he gave him had only the effect of distracting him. "Do not deceive yourself, my Lord," said Mirtain one day to him; "if this beautiful girl does love, it must be some one in her own country." "If that were the case," said the Prince, "would she not return to it?" "How do we know," rejoined Mirtain, "that she has not some reasons which prevent her returning to her native land? She may have quarrelled with her lover." "Alas!" exclaimed the Prince, "she sang with too much tenderness the words I heard." "It is a fact," continued Mirtain, "that all the trees are covered with the initials of their names; and as no one seems to please her in these parts, some one undoubtedly must have done so elsewhere." "Ascertain," said the Prince, "her sentiments for me. Speak well or ill of me, thou mayest in some measure arrive at what she thinks of me."

Mirtain failed not to find an opportunity to speak to Constancia. "What ails you, fair shepherdess?" said he to her; "you appear melancholy, notwithstanding all the reasons you ​have to be more joyous than any other." "And what reasons do you consider I have for being joyous?" she inquired. "I am reduced to tend sheep, far from my own land, hearing nothing of my relations: is all this so very agreeable?" "No," replied Mirtain; "but you are the most charming person in the world: you have much wit, you sing exquisitely, and nothing can be compared to your beauty." "Supposing I possessed all these advantages, they would be of little value to me," said she, heaving a deep sigh. "Nay, then," said Mirtain, "you are ambitious; you believe one must be born to a throne, or descended from the gods, to live happily. Ah! undeceive yourself; I serve Prince Constancio, and, notwithstanding the disparity of our rank, I am frequently permitted to approach him. I have studied him; I can see what is passing in his mind, and I know that he is far from happy." "And what disturbs his peace?" said the Princess. "A fatal passion," continued Mirtain. "He is in love!" exclaimed Constancia, with an air of anxiety. "Alas! how I pity him! But what am I saying?" she continued, blushing deeply: "he is too amiable not to be beloved." "He dares not so much flatter himself, fair shepherdess," said Mirtain; "but if you would kindly assure him of that fact, he would have more faith in your words than in those of any other." "It would not befit me," said she, "to meddle in the affairs of a great prince. Those of which you speak are too delicate for me to think of entering upon. Adieu, Mirtain," she added, quitting him hastily: "if you would oblige me, you will speak no more to me about your Prince, or his amours."

She hurried away, greatly agitated. She could not have been insensible to the merits of the Prince; her first meeting with him had never been effaced from her mind, and but for the secret spell which detained her despite herself, it is certain she would have risked everything to find once more the Sovereign Fairy. We might, indeed, feel surprised that that skilful person, who knew everything, did not fly to her assistance; but it no longer depended upon her to do so. From the moment the Giant had met the Princess, the latter was subjected to the influence of the stars for a certain period: her destiny had to be fulfilled; so that the Fairy was obliged to be contented with going to see her occasionally in ​a sunbeam. Constancia's eyes were not able to look at it steadily enough to discover her protectress in it.

The charming girl had observed, with some mortification, that the Prince had neglected her so completely, that he might never have seen her again, had not chance led him to the spot where she was singing. She endeavoured to stifle her inclination for him; and if it be possible to love and hate a person at the same time, I may say she hated him because she loved him too well! How many tears did she shed in secret! Ruson was the only witness of them; to him she frequently confided her sorrows, as if he were capable of understanding her; and when he frisked about the fields with the ewes, she would say to him, "Beware, Ruson!—beware! Let not love inflame thy heart; of all evils, 'tis the greatest: and shouldst thou love, and not be loved in return, poor little ram, what wouldst thou do!"

These reflections were followed by a thousand reproaches, which she heaped upon herself for cherishing an affection for a Prince who manifested so much indifference for her. She had determined to forget him, when she accidentally found him in that pleasant spot, to which he had retired to muse uninterruptedly on the lovely shepherdess he avoided. Sleep had stolen upon him, and he had stretched himself on the grass. She saw him, and her affection for him received fresh force. She could not resist stringing together the words which had caused so much anxiety to the Prince; but what did she not suffer in her turn, when Mirtain informed her that Constancio was in love! All the command she could exercise over herself could not prevent her frequently changing colour. Mirtain, who had his reasons for observing her, noticed and was delighted at it, and hastened to report what had passed to his master.

The Prince was much less inclined to flatter himself than his confidant was. He saw nothing but indifference in the conduct of the shepherdess. He attributed it to the happy Constancio whom she loved, and the next morning he went in search of her. The instant she perceived him, she flew from him as though she had seen a tiger or a lion. Flight was the only remedy she could imagine for her pain. Ever since her conversation with Mirtain she felt she ought to neglect no ​means of tearing the Prince from her heart, and that the only hope of doing so lay in her avoiding the sight of him.

What were the feelings of Constancio when his shepherdess fled from him so abruptly. Mirtain was with him. "Thou seest," said the Prince to him, "thou seest the effect of thy labours. Constancia hates me: I dare not follow her to obtain an explanation from her myself."

"You have too much consideration, my Lord, for a mere country girl," replied Mirtain; "and if you will permit me, I will go and order her, in your name, to come back to you." "Ah! Mirtain," exclaimed the Prince, "What a difference exists between the lover and the confidant! I think only of doing everything to please this charming girl; I have observed in her a sort of refinement, which would ill accord with the rough measures thou art for adopting. I had rather continue to suffer than offend her." As he uttered these words, he turned his steps in another direction, with so melancholy an air, that one who was much less interested in him than Constancia might have pitied him.

As soon as he was out of sight, she retraced her steps to have the pleasure of being on the spot he had just quitted. "'Tis here," said she, "he stood; 'twas from thence he looked at me: but, alas! in every place I find how little he thinks of me. He comes hither but to muse in freedom upon her he loves; and yet," continued she, "have I a right to complain? What chance was there that he should attach himself to a girl he thinks so much beneath him?" She felt disposed sometimes to relate her adventures to him; but the Sovereign Fairy had so strictly forbidden her to speak of them, that her duty always prevailed over her inclination, and she eventually determined to keep her secret.

In the course of a few days, the Prince again made his appearance. She avoided him carefully. He was much distressed at it, and desired Mirtain to reproach her with her behaviour. She pretended she had acted unconsciously; but as the Prince had condescended to remark it, she would not do so in future. Mirtain, much gratified by having obtained this promise from her, informed his master, and the next morning he went in search of her. On his accosting her she appeared speechless and motionless; and her confusion if possible increased when he declared his passion. Much as she desired to ​believe him, she was afraid of being deceived, and that forming his opinion of her from appearances, he only sought to amuse himself by dazzling her with professions which would not be seriously addressed to a poor shepherdess. Nettled by this idea, her pride restored her composure, and she received the assurances of his affection with so much coldness, that it confirmed all his suspicions.

"Your heart is gone!" said he; "another has succeeded in charming you. But I call the gods to witness, that if I can discover him, he shall feel the full effects of my wrath!" "I ask no favour for any one, my Lord," she replied. "If you should ever know my sentiments, you will find they are far different from those you attribute to me." The Prince at these words felt his hopes revive, but they were soon destroyed by the conversation that followed; for she protested to him, that her indifference was not to be overcome, and that she felt convinced she should never love any one. These last words cast him into inexpressible grief; he exercised the greatest constraint over himself to prevent her observing the extent of his affliction. Either from the violence he thus did to his feelings, or from the excess of his passion, which was only increased by the obstacles which presented themselves to it, he fell so dangerously ill that the physicians, not knowing the cause of his disorder, soon began to despair of his recovery. Mirtain, who by his orders still remained in attendance on Constancia, communicated to her the sad tidings. She listened to them with a confusion and agitation difficult to describe. "Do you know any remedy," he asked her, "for fever, and violent pains in the head and heart?" "I know one," she replied; "it consists of simples and flowers; but everything depends on the manner in which they are applied." "Will you not go to the palace and apply them yourself?" added Mirtain. "No;" said she, blushing, "I should be too much afraid of not succeeding." "How!" continued he; "is it possible you will neglect anything that might restore him to us? I believed you to be very hard-hearted; but you are a hundred times more so than I had imagined." Mirtain's reproaches gratified Constancia. She was delighted to be pressed by him to see the Prince. It was only to obtain that satisfaction that she had boasted of being acquainted with a remedy for his complaint; for the truth is, that she knew of none.

​Mirtain went and told the Prince all that the shepherdess had said, and how ardently she desired the restoration of his health. "Thou seekest to flatter me," said Constancio to him; "but I forgive thee,—and I would fain, even though I should deceive myself, endeavour to fancy that this lovely girl has some affection for me. Go to the Queen; tell her that one of her shepherdesses possesses a wonderful secret which may cure me. Obtain permission to bring her hither. Run, fly, Mirtain! minutes will appear ages to me!"

The Queen had never seen the shepherdess of whom Mirtain spoke; and answered that she had no faith in the knowledge affected by such ignorant little girls; and that it was mere folly to think of it. "It is certain, Madam," said he, "that one may sometimes find more relief from the application of simples than from all that is contained in the pages of Esculapius. The Prince suffers so much that he is anxious to test the effect of what this young girl proposes." "Be it so," said the Queen; "but if she do not cure him, I will punish her so severely, that she will never have the audacity to boast of her pretended remedies again." Mirtain returned to his master, and informed him of the Queen's ill-humour, and that he feared the result of it to Constancia. "I would rather die!" exclaimed the Prince. "Return instantly; tell my mother, I entreat her to let that lovely girl remain with her innocent sheep. What a recompense is this," he continued, "for the trouble she would take! The very idea of it redoubles my disorder."

Mirtain ran to the Queen, to beg her, in the Prince's name, not to send for Constancia; but as she was naturally very hasty, she flew into a passion at his vacillation. "I have already sent for her," said the Queen: "if she cure my son I will make her some present; if she fail, I know what I have to do. Return to him, and endeavour to amuse him; the state of melancholy he is in distracts me." Mirtain obeyed her commands, and took care not to tell his master the temper the Queen was in, for his anxiety about his shepherdess might have killed him.

The royal pastures were so near the city that she was not long coming, let alone the impulse she received from a passion which generally increases one's speed. As soon as she reached the palace, the Queen was informed of her arrival; but she ​did not condescend to see her; she contented herself with ordering her to be told to take care what she was about: for that if she failed to cure the Prince, she would have her sown up in a sack and flung into the river. At this threat, the beautiful Princess turned pale, and felt her blood run cold. "Alas," said she to herself, "I well deserve this punishment! I spoke falsely when I boasted of my skill; and my desire to see Constancio was too unreasonable to secure me the protection of the gods." She hung her head, and her tears flowed down her cheeks in silence.

The standers-by admired her greatly. She appeared to them more like an angel from Heaven than a mortal maiden. "What are you afraid of, lovely shepherdess?" said they to her. "Your eyes have in them the power of life and death; one glance of them may preserve our young Prince. Come to his apartment, dry your tears, and administer your remedy without alarm."

The manner in which they spoke to her, and the extreme desire she had to see the Prince, gave her fresh confidence. She begged to be allowed to go into the garden, that she might herself cull the simples she required. She gathered myrtle, trefoil, and other herbs and flowers, some of which are dedicated to Cupid, and some to his mother; and added to them some doves' feathers, and a few drops of pigeons' blood. She invoked the aid of all the gods and fairies, then, trembling more than a turtle-dove at the sight of a falcon, she told them she was ready to be led to the Prince's chamber. He was in bed; his face palid, and his sight feeble; but the moment he saw her, his complexion improved; which she observed to her great joy.

"My Lord," said she, "I have for many days past offered up my prayers for the restoration of your health. My anxiety even induced me to tell one of your shepherds that I knew some little remedies, and that I would most willingly endeavour to assuage your pains: but the Queen has sent me notice, that if Heaven does not assist my undertaking, and you should not be cured, I am to be drowned. Imagine, my Lord, the alarming situation I am placed in; but be assured that I am interested in your preservation more on your account than on mine." "Fear nothing, charming "said he; "the kind interest you take in my ​life will render it so dear to me, that I will take greater care for it. I had ceased to prize existence: alas! could I be happy under the recollection of the sentiments I heard you express for Constancio? Those fatal verses, and your coldness, have reduced me to the wretched state in which you see me; but, lovely shepherdess, you have desired me to live! Let me live then, and live but for you!"

Constancia had much difficulty in concealing the pleasure this flattering declaration gave her. Fearing that somebody might be listening to what the Prince was saying to her, she interrupted him by asking, if he would permit her to put on some bandages of the herbs she had gathered. He stretched his arms out to her with so much tenderness of expression, that she hastily bound on one of the bandages, in order that nobody should perceive what was passing between them, and having gone through several little ceremonies, the better to impose on the Prince's attendants, he exclaimed, after a few minutes, that he felt in less pain. It was quite true; he did. The physicians were summoned, and were surprised at the efficacy of the remedy and the promptitude of its effects; but when they saw the shepherdess who had applied it, they ceased to wonder at anything, and said to one another in their own jargon, that one of her looks was a more powerful dose than any in the whole Pharmacopœa.

The shepherdess was so little affected by all the praises they lavished on her, that those who did not know her, took for stupidity what arose from a very different cause. She crept into a corner of the room, concealing herself from everybody but her patient, whom she approached occasionally to press his forehead or feel his pulse; and in these brief moments they said to each other a thousand charming things with which the heart had much more to do than the head. "I trust, my Lord," said she, "that the sack which the Queen has ordered for me to be drowned in, will not be required for so fatal a purpose. Your health, which is so precious to me, is undoubtedly improving." "It depends wholly upon you, lovely Constancia!" he replied; "a share in your heart can do everything for my peace, and the preservation of my life."

The Prince arose, and repaired to the Queen's apartment. When he was announced, she would not believe it; she ​advanced hastily, and was struck with astonishment at seeing him at her chamber-door. "What! Is it you, my son? my dear son!" she exclaimed. "To whom am I indebted for this marvellous resurrection?" "You owe it to your own kindness, Madam," said the Prince; "you have sent to me the most skilful person in the world, I beseech you to reward her in proportion to the service she has rendered me!" "There is no hurry for that," said the Queen, sharply; "she is a poor shepherdess, who will think herself too happy in being still permitted to tend my sheep."

At this moment the King arrived. They had been to tell him the good news of the Prince's recovery; and as he was proceeding towards the Queen's apartments, he caught sight of Constancia: her beauty, brilliant as the sun with its countless rays, dazzled him to such an extent, that he stood some few moments without the power of asking those who were near him, who that wonderful creature was, and how long goddesses had taken up their abode in his palace. At length, recovering himself, he approached her, and learning that she was the enchantress who had cured his son, he embraced her, and politely said that he felt very ill himself, and requested she would cure him also.

He entered the Queen's apartments followed by Constancia. The Queen had never seen her before. Her astonishment cannot be described. She uttered a loud shriek and fainted; casting, as she fell, a look of fury on the shepherdess. Constancio and Constancia were terrified at this event; the King knew not how to account for so sudden a seizure; all the court was in consternation. At length the Queen returned to herself; and the King pressed her to tell him what she had seen to affect her in so extraordinary a manner. She dissembled her vexation, and said it was a fit of the vapours; but the Prince, who knew her well, was exceedingly uneasy. She spoke to the shepherdess with some degree of kindness; telling her that she would retain her near her person, and give her the care of the flowers in her private garden. The Princess was delighted to think she should remain where she could see Constancio every day.

The King, however, induced the Queen to enter his cabinet, and then tenderly inquired what had occurred to vex her. "Ah, Sire," she exclaimed, "I have had a frightful dream. ​I had never seen this young shepherdess, when my imagination portrayed her to me so faithfully, that the instant I cast my eyes upon her I recognised the features. I thought she was married to my son. I am much deceived if this wretched country girl does not cause me a great deal of sorrow." "You place too much trust in things the most delusive in the world," said the King. "I advise you not to act from such motives. Send this shepherdess back to tend your flocks again, and do not afflict yourself unseasonably."

The King's advice was by no means agreeable to the Queen; far from following it, she thought of nothing but how to discover her son's sentiments for Constancia.

The Prince lost no opportunity of seeing her. As she had charge of the flowers, she was frequently in the garden, watering them; and it seemed as if they became more brilliant and beautiful when she touched them. Ruson was still her companion; she talked to him sometimes about the Prince, although he could not understand her; and when Constancio himself accosted her, she was so embarrassed, that her eyes sufficiently betrayed to him the secret of her heart. He was enchanted, and said everything to her that the tenderest passion could dictate.

The Queen, on the strength of her dream, and still more on account of Constancia's incomparable beauty, became so uneasy she could no longer sleep in peace. She rose before daybreak; she hid herself behind the palisades, sometimes in the recesses of a grotto, to overhear what her son said to that beautiful girl; but they were both prudent enough to speak so low, that she could only act upon suspicion. This but increased her anxiety; she looked on the Prince with perfect contempt, thinking day and night that he would place that shepherdess on the throne.

Constancio was as guarded as he possibly could be; but in spite of all he could do, everybody perceived he loved Constancia; and whether he praised her naturally because he admired her, or pretended to find fault with her, in either case he spoke like an interested person. Constancia, on her side, could not refrain from talking of the Prince to her companions, and as she often sang songs which she had made about him, the Queen, who heard her, was no less surprised at her admirable voice than at the subject of the verses. "Just ​Heaven!" she exclaimed; "what have I done, that I should be punished in the most cruel way to me in the world? Alas! I had intended my son for my niece; and to my desperate annoyance, I perceive he has attached himself to a wretched shepherdess, who will, perhaps, excite him to rebel against my pleasure."

While she was thus distressing herself, and forming a thousand schemes in her fury to punish Constancia for being so beautiful, so charming; love was unremittingly making fresh progress in the hearts of the young couple. Constancia, convinced of the Prince's sincerity, could no longer conceal from him her rank or her affection. So tender an avowal, and such a proof of confidence, enraptured him to such an extent, that anywhere but in the Queen's garden he would have cast himself at her feet to thank her. It was not without difficulty he restrained himself even there. He ceased to struggle with his passion. He had loved the shepherdess Constancia: it is easy to imagine that he adored her when he was informed of her rank, and if he was easily persuaded of the truth of so extraordinary a thing (as it appears to us,) of a great princess wandering about the world, by turns a shepherdess and a gardener, it was simply because, in those days, such adventures were common enough; and that he discovered something in her air and manners that warranted to him the truth of her story. Constancio, moved by love and respect, swore eternal fidelity to the Princess, and she vowed no less to him. They agreed that their marriage should take place as soon as they could obtain the consent of the persons on whom they depended. The Queen observed their growing passion; her confidante, who sought as eagerly as herself to discover something which might gain her favour with her mistress, came to her one day with the information, that Constancia sent Ruson every morning to the Prince's apartment. That the little ram carried two baskets which she had filled with flowers, and that Mirtain was his conductor. The Queen at this news lost all patience; she saw Ruson pass; she ran and laid wait for him herself, and despite the prayers of Mirtain, she dragged the ram to her own chamber, tore the baskets and flowers to pieces, and examined them so narrowly that she discovered, in a large carnation that was not fully blown, a little scrap of paper which Constancia had inserted with much ​ingenuity. In it she had reproached the Prince tenderly with the perils to which he daily exposed himself in hunting. The note contained these verses:

"'Midst all my joy, I tremble with alarm
To see thee daily to the chace repair.
O Heaven! wherein consists the wondrous charm
Of tracking savage monsters to their lair?
Leave the gaunt lion, and the grisly bear,
And turn to conquer in a sweeter field,—
The tender heart that but desires to yield."

Whilst the Queen was raving against the shepherdess, Mirtain had hastened to inform his master of the unfortunate adventure of the ram. The Prince very uneasy ran to his mother's apartment, but she had already gone to the King's. "Behold, my Liege," said she, "behold the noble inclinations of your son; he loves this miserable shepherdess, who persuaded us she knew a certain cure for his malady. Alas! she knew one but too well. In short," continued she, "it is love that instructed her. She has restored him to health only to inflict on him greater evils; and if we do not take immediate steps to ward off the misfortunes that threaten us, my dream will prove but too true." "You are naturally severe," said the King, "you expected that your son would think of no one but the Princess you had selected for him. It was not so easy a thing to do. You must make some allowance for his youth." "I cannot endure your prepossession in his favour," cried the Queen; "you can never find fault with him. All I ask of you, Sir, is to consent to his being removed from court for a short time. Absence will have more effect on him than all my arguments."

The King hated contention; he acceded to everything his wife desired, and she returned immediately to her own apartments.

She found the Prince there: he was awaiting her in the utmost anxiety. "My son," said she to him, before he could say a word to her, "the King has just shown me letters from the King my brother, begging him to send you to his court, in order that you may become acquainted with the Princess who has been destined to you from infancy, and also that she may have a similar advantage. Is it not just that you should be allowed an opportunity of forming your own opinion of her merits, and that you should love her before you are ​united to each other for ever?" "I have no right to desire that special rules should be made in my favour," said the Prince. "It is not customary for royal personages to visit each other, and consult their own hearts in preference to the reasons of state which render it necessary for them to contract a certain alliance. The lady you have selected for me may be beautiful or ugly, intelligent or stupid; I shall obey you in either case." "I understand thee, wretch!" cried the Queen, flying out suddenly; "I understand thee! Thou adorest a worthless shepherdess; thou fearest leaving her. Thou shalt leave her, or I will have her dispatched before thine eyes! But if thou wilt depart without hesitation, and strive to forget her, I will retain her near my person, and love her as much as I now hate her."

The Prince, as pale as if he were about to die, consulted in his own mind what course he should take. On either hand he could see nothing but frightful agony. He knew his mother to be the most cruel and vindictive Princess in the world. He feared resistance would irritate her, and that the consequences would fall upon his dear mistress. At length, pressed by the Queen to say whether he would go or not, he consented to do so, with the same feeling that a man consents to drink the glass of poison that is to destroy him.

He had scarcely given her his word that he would depart, when, leaving his mother's chamber, he entered his own, his heart so wrung, that he thought it would break. He confided his affliction to the faithful Mirtain; and, impatient to inform Constancia, he went in search of her. She was in the deepest part of a grotto, where she occasionally took refuge, when the heat of the sun was too powerful for her in the garden. There was a little bank of turf by the side of a streamlet, which fell from the top of a rock of shell-work. In this peaceful retreat she unbound the tresses of her hair; they were fair as silver, finer than silk, and all in wavy curls. She sat with her naked feet in the water, the agreeable murmur of which, together with the fatigue of gardening, insensibly lulled her into a sweet sleep. Though her eyes were closed, they had still a thousand attractions; their long black lashes gave more brilliancy to the whiteness of her skin; the Loves and Graces seemed to hover around her, and modesty and gentleness added to the charm of her beauty.

​'Twas there the enamoured Prince found her. He recollected that the first time he had seen her she was thus asleep; but the sentiments she had since inspired him with had become so tender, that he would willingly have given half his life to pass the other half beside her. He gazed on her some time with a pleasure that suspended his grief; his eyes, running eagerly over her charms, rested on her foot, whiter than snow: he felt he could never cease admiring it. He knelt, and took her hand; she woke instantly, appeared vexed that he had seen her foot, and hid it, blushing like a rose, as it opens to the dawning day.

Alas! how soon did that beautiful colour fade! She remarked an unwonted melancholy in the countenance of the Prince. "What ails you, my Lord?" she inquired, with much alarm. "I can tell by your eyes that you are in some affliction." "Ah, who would not be so, dearest Princess," said he to her, shedding tears which he had not the power to suppress; "they are about to part us! I must either leave, or expose you to all the fury of the Queen. She knows of my attachment to you; she has even seen the note you wrote to me—one of her women assures me so—and without the least consideration for my anguish, she cruelly insists on my immediate departure for the court of the King her brother." "What do you tell me, Prince?" exclaimed Constancia; "you are on the point of forsaking me, and you believe that to be necessary for the preservation of my life! Can you possibly entertain such an idea? Let me perish before your eyes; I shall be less to be pitied than if I am condemned to live without you."

So affecting a conversation could not fail of being often interrupted by sobs and tears. Those young lovers had never yet endured the pangs of absence; they had never foreseen such a misfortune, and this gave additional weight to the blow which had fallen upon them. They exchanged a thousand vows of eternal fidelity. The Prince promised Constancia to return with the greatest speed. "I go," said he, "but to affront my uncle and his daughter, so that they shall abandon all idea of giving her to me for a wife. I will do everything to disgust the Princess, and I shall succeed in my object." "You must not show yourself, then," said Constancia, "or you will please her, do what you will to prevent ​it." They both wept so bitterly, gazed on each other so mournfully, interchanged such passionate promises, that their only consolation was the perfect confidence they had in each other's affection, and that nothing could ever alter such deep and tender feelings.

The time had passed so rapidly in this sweet conversation, that night had already closed around them before they thought of separating; but the Queen, wishing to consult the Prince respecting the equipage he would require, Mirtain hastened in search of him. He found him still at the feet of his mistress, holding her hand in both of his. When they perceived him, they were seized with such apprehensions that they could scarcely speak. He told his master that the Queen was asking for him. Her commands might not be disobeyed. The Princess retired alone through another part of the gardens.

The Queen found the Prince so melancholy and altered, that she easily divined the cause. She would not speak to him any more on the subject; it was enough that he should depart. In short, everything was prepared with so much diligence, that it seemed as if the fairies had had a hand in it. As to the Prince, he occupied himself only with what related to his passion. He desired Mirtain to remain at court, and send him daily news of the Princess. He left with him his finest jewels, in case he should be in want of funds; and his foresight neglected nothing in a matter of such moment to him.

At last he was compelled to go. The despair of our young lovers cannot be described. Constancia then first comprehended the whole extent of her misfortune. To be a king's daughter, rightful owner of immense dominions, and to languish in the power of a cruel queen, who banished her son for fear of his affection for her—a princess who was his equal every way, and whose hand would be ardently desired by the greatest sovereigns in the world! But her star had decided it should be so.

The Queen, delighted at the absence of her son, thought only of intercepting the letters that might be written to him. She succeeded, and discovered that Mirtain was his confidant. She had him arrested on some false pretence, and sent to a fortress, where he was subjected to a strict imprisonment. ​The Prince was greatly incensed at this news. He wrote to the King and Queen demanding the release of his favourite. His applications had no effect: but it was not only by this that they sought to distress him.

One morning that the Princess had risen with the dawn, and gone into the garden to gather flowers as usual for the Queen's toilette, she saw the faithful Ruson, who was preceding her at some distance, suddenly run back in great alarm. As she advanced to see what had frightened him so much, he pulled her by the skirt of her gown in order to prevent her, for he was a most intelligent animal, and she suddenly heard the sharp hissing of a number of serpents, and found herself almost immediately beset by toads, vipers, scorpions, asps, and snakes, that encircled, without stinging her. They raised themselves to dart at her, but invariably fell back on the spot without power to touch her.

Notwithstanding the terror she was in, she could not fail to notice this prodigy, and she could attribute it to nothing except the virtue of a ring made under the influence of certain constellations, and given to her by her lover. Whichever way she turned, she saw these venomous reptiles running towards her. The walks were full of them, and they swarmed upon the flowers and under the trees. The lovely Constancia knew not what to do. She perceived the Queen at her window, laughing at her alarm. She knew directly that she had no hope of being saved by her orders. "I must die," said she, nobly; "those horrid monsters that surround me came not here of their own accord. The Queen has had them brought hither, and there she stands to be the spectatress of this miserable termination to my existence. It has certainly been so sad a one up to this very hour, that I have no reason to cling to it; and if I regret its loss, the gods, the just gods, can testify why I do so at this moment."

Having thus spoken, she advanced, and all the snakes and their companions retreated as fast as she approached them. She quitted the garden in this way unhurt, as much to her own astonishment as to the Queen's, who had for a long time past been collecting these dangerous reptiles with the intention of having the shepherdess stung to death by them. She imagined such a circumstance would not arouse the suspicions of her son; that he would attribute Constancia's death to ​a natural cause, and that she should escape his reproaches: but her project having failed, she had recourse to another expedient.

At the other end of the forest there dwelt a Fairy whose abode was inaccessible, for she was guarded by elephants that unceasingly roamed round the forest, and devoured the poor travellers, their horses, and even the iron the latter were shod with, so insatiable was their appetite. The Queen had come to an agreement with her, that if by some unheard-of chance, any one in the Queen's name should reach the Fairy's palace alive, she would give the messenger something fatal to take back to her.

The Queen sent for Constancia: gave her her orders, and told her to set out immediately. She had heard all her companions talk of the danger there was in passing through that forest; and an old shepherdess had even told her how she had fortunately escaped by the aid of a little sheep she had taken with her, for, furious as the elephants may be, the moment they see a lamb they become as gentle themselves. The same shepherdess had also told her, that being ordered to take a burning girdle back to the Queen, under the apprehension that she would make her put it on, she put it round several trees which were all consumed by it, so that the girdle at last had no power to hurt her, as the Queen had hoped it would.

When the Princess listened to this story she little thought it would be, one day, of such service to her: but when the Queen had issued her commands with so imperative an air that the sentence was evidently irrevocable, she prayed the gods to assist her. She took Ruson with her, and departed for the perilous forest. The Queen was enchanted: "We shall see her no more!" said she to the King. "This odious object of our son's attachment!—I have sent her to a spot where a thousand such as she would not be sufficient to make a quarter of a breakfast for the elephants." The King told her she was too vindictive, and that he could not help regretting the destruction of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. "Indeed!" replied the Queen. "I advise you to fall in love with her then, and weep for her death as the unworthy Constancio does for her absence!"

Constancia had scarcely entered the forest when she saw ​herself surrounded by elephants. These colossal monsters, delighted at the sight of the beautiful ram, who walked with a much bolder step than his mistress, caressed him as gently with their formidable trunks as a lady could have done with her hand. The Princess was so afraid that the elephants would make a distinction between her and Ruson, that she took him up in her arms, although he had already become rather heavy, and whichever way she turned took care to present him to the monsters, and in this manner made the best of her way towards the palace of the inaccessible old Fairy.

She reached it at length, after much alarm and trouble: the place seemed very untidy; the Fairy who inhabited it was no less so. She could not entirely conceal her astonishment at seeing Constancia, for it was a long time since any living creature had succeeded in arriving there. "What is your will, fair child?" said the Fairy to her. The Princess humbly presented to her the Queen's compliments, accompanied by the request that she would send her the Girdle of Friendship. "She shall not be denied," said the Fairy; "no doubt it is for you she desires it." "I do not know that, Madam," replied Constancia. "Oh, but I know it well enough," said the Fairy; and taking out of her casket a girdle of blue velvet, with long cords attached to it, on which to hang a purse, a knife, and a pair of scissors, she presented her with the handsome ornament. "Take it," said she, "this girdle will render you perfectly charming, provided you put it on as soon as you are in the forest."

After Constancia had thanked, and taken leave of her, she caught up Ruson in her arms again, who was of more consequence to her than ever. The elephants made much of him, and let her pass freely, notwithstanding their voracious propensities. She did not forget to put the girdle round a tree, which began to burn immediately, as if it had been in the fiercest fire in the world. She took the girdle off again, and put it on another tree, and so, from tree to tree, until it ceased to ignite them. At length she reached the palace very much fatigued.

When the Queen saw her, she was so struck with astonishment that she could not hold her peace. "You are a cheat!" she cried; "you have not been to my friend, the Fairy?" ​"Pardon me, Madam!" replied the fair Constancia. "I am the bearer of the Girdle of Friendship, which I requested her to give me in your name." "Have you not put it on?" asked the Queen. "It is too fine for a poor shepherdess like me," replied Constancia. "No, no," said the Queen, "I give it you for your trouble; do not omit to wear it: but, tell me, what did you see on your road?" "I saw," she replied, "some elephants, who were so intelligent, and displayed so much ingenuity, that there is not a country in the world where they would not excite admiration. It seems that forest is their kingdom, and that there are in it some that rule the rest." The Queen was greatly mortified, and did not say all she thought, but she was still in hopes that nothing on earth would prevent the girdle from burning the Princess. "Though the elephants have spared thee," she muttered to herself, "the girdle will avenge me! Thou shalt see, wretch, the friendship I bear thee, and the reward due to thee for having fascinated my son."

Constancia had retired to her little chamber, where she wept the absence of her dear Prince. She dared not write to him, for the Queen had spies abroad who stopped the couriers, and she had already, by these means, intercepted her son's letters. "Alas! Constancio," said she, "you will shortly receive sad tidings of me. You ought not to have gone and abandoned me to the fury of your mother!—you might have protected me, or you would have received my last sigh in lieu of my being delivered over to her tyrannical power, and bereft of every consolation!" She went to her work in the garden at day-break as usual; she found in it still a thousand venomous reptiles, from which, however, her ring preserved her. She had put on the blue velvet girdle, and when the Queen saw her gathering flowers as calmly as if she had only a thread round her waist; nothing had ever equalled her vexation. "What mysterious power interests itself for this shepherdess!" cried she; "she bewitches my son by her beauty, and restores him to health by the application of innocent simples. Snakes and asps crawl at her feet without stinging her. The wild elephants become gentle and kind at her sight. The fairy-girdle, which should have reduced her to ashes, serves but to adorn her. I must have recourse, then, to more certain remedies."

​She sent immediately the captain of her guard, in whom she placed great confidence, down to the harbour, to see if there were not any ships ready to sail for very distant parts. He found one that was to sail at nightfal. The Queen was greatly delighted at this, and had a proposal made to the master, to sell him the most beautiful slave in the world. The merchant was enchanted; he came to the palace and was shown poor Constancia in the garden without her being in the least aware of it. He was struck with astonishment at the beauty of that incomparable girl; and the Queen, who knew well how to make a good bargain, for she was very avaricious, sold her to him at an exceedingly high price.

Constancia, ignorant of the fresh misfortunes that were in store for her, retired early to her little chamber to have the pleasure of thinking undisturbed of Constancio, and of answering one of his letters which she had at last contrived to receive. She was reading it over and over again, unable to desist from so agreeable an occupation, when she saw the Queen enter the room. She had a key which opened all the locks in the palace. She was followed by two mutes and the captain of the guard. The mutes stuffed a handkerchief into Constancia's mouth, bound her hands, and carried her off. Ruson tried to follow his dear mistress; the Queen flung herself on him and held him fast; for she feared his bleating would be heard, and she wished the whole affair to be conducted with the greatest silence and secresy. Constancia, therefore, finding no help, was carried on board the vessel; and, as they only waited for her, they put to sea immediately.

We must leave her on her voyage. Such was her sad fate, for the Sovereign Fairy had not been able to move destiny in her favour, and all she could do was to follow her everywhere in a thick cloud, invisible to mortal eyes. In the meanwhile, Prince Constancio, engrossed by his passion, kept no terms with the princess they had chosen for him. Though he was naturally the most courteous of men, he was continually so rude to her that she often complained of him to her father, who could not avoid quarrelling with his nephew about it, so that the marriage was postponed almost indefinitely. When the Queen thought proper to write to the Prince that Constancia was dangerously ill, his anguish was ​inexpressible. He could not stand any longer on ceremony in a matter which affected his life as much as that of his mistress, and therefore returned home with the speed of lightning. Notwithstanding all his exertion, however, he arrived too late. The Queen, who had foreseen his return, had circulated a report some days previously that Constancia was ill. She placed in her apartments women who knew when to speak and when to be silent according to their instructions. The rumour of Constancia's death was then spread abroad, and a wax figure was finally buried as the body of that unfortunate girl. The Queen, who left no means unemployed to convince the Prince of the truth of this story, released Mirtain from prison, that he might attend the funeral; so that the day for that ceremony being publicly announced, everybody came to lament the loss of that charming girl, and the Queen, who could throw any expression into her features she chose, pretended to feel this loss deeply on her son's account.

He reached the city in the greatest anxiety that can be imagined, and on entering it, could not resist asking the first persons he met, the news about his beloved Constancia. Those who answered him did not know who he was, and without the slightest preparation told him she was dead. At these fatal words he was no longer master of his emotion. He fell from his horse speechless, pulseless. A crowd gathered round him—they discovered that it was the Prince; everybody pressed to assist him, and they carried him almost dead to the palace.

The King was greatly affected by the deplorable state of his son. The Queen had prepared herself for such an event, and thought that time and the extinction of his fond hopes would cure him; but he was too deeply smitten to be so easily consoled. His distress, far from diminishing, increased every minute. He passed two days without seeing or speaking to any one. He then went to the Queen's apartments, his eyes full of tears, his looks wild, his face pale. He told her it was she who had been the death of his dear Constancia; but that she would be speedily punished, as he could not survive the loss of his beloved, and that he desired to be shown the place where they had buried her.

The Queen, not being able to combat this resolution, determined to conduct him herself to a cypress grove, in which she had caused a tomb to be erected. When the Prince fancied ​himself at the spot where his mistress reposed in death, he uttered such tender and passionate expressions that no one has ever spoken so touchingly. Even the hard-hearted Queen could not help melting into tears. Mirtain was as much afflicted as his master; and all who heard him sympathised in his despair. All on a sudden, in a fit of frenzy he drew his sword, and approaching the marble which he believed covered the beautiful body of Constancia, he would have slain himself if the Queen and Mirtain had not caught his arm. "No!" said he, "nothing in the world shall prevent my rejoining in death my dear Princess!" The title of Princess which he gave to the shepherdess surprised the Queen. She fancied her son was raving, and would have thought he had lost his senses completely if in all other respects he had not expressed himself rationally.

She asked him wherefore he called Constancia a Princess. He replied, that she was so; that her kingdom was called the Kingdom of Deserts; that she was the sole heir to it: and that he should never have named it but that there were no longer any reasons for secrecy. "Alas, my son!" said the Queen, "since Constancia is of equal rank with yourself, be comforted, for she is not dead. I will confess to you, in order to appease your sorrow, that I sold her to some merchants, who have carried her off as a slave." "Ah!" said the Prince, "you tell me this to shake the resolution I have made to die, but my mind is made up, and nothing can change it." "Then," said the Queen, "your own eyes must convince you;" and thereupon she ordered them to dig up the waxen figure. As at first sight he took it to be the body of his charming Princess, he fell into a deep swoon, from which they had great difficulty in recovering him. The Queen in vain assured him that Constancia was not dead. After the wicked trick she had played him he would not believe her: but Mirtain succeeded in persuading him of the fact. He knew his attachment to him, and that he was not capable of telling him a falsehood.

He felt in some degree relieved, for of all misfortunes her death appeared to him the most terrible, and he could now flatter himself with the hope of seeing his mistress once again. But where should he seek her?—the merchants who had bought her were strangers; they had not said whither they ​were bound. These were great difficulties: but there are few which true love cannot surmount. He preferred perishing in the attempt to recover his mistress to living without her.

He heaped a thousand reproaches on the Queen for her implacable hatred. He added that she would have time to repent the cruel trick she had played him; that he was about to leave her, never to return; so that in plotting the loss of one she had lost both. The afflicted mother threw herself on her son's neck, bathed him with her tears, and conjured him by the grey hairs of his father, and the love that she bore him, not to abandon them; that if he deprived them of the consolation of seeing him he would be the cause of their death; that he was their only hope, and if he failed them, the neighbouring princes, who were their enemies, would seize upon the kingdom. The Prince listened to her coldly and respectfully: but he had always before his eyes her harsh treatment of Constancia, without whom all the kingdoms of the earth had no temptations for him: so that he persisted with astonishing firmness in his resolution, to depart the following morning.

The King strove in vain to detain him. He passed the night in giving directions to Mirtain; he confided to his care the faithful ram. He took a great number of jewels, and told Mirtain to keep the rest, and that he would be the only person to whom he would write, and that only on condition that he spoke of him to no one, as he was determined to make his mother suffer all the anxiety about him that was possible.

Day had not dawned before the impatient Constancio was on horseback, trusting to Fortune, and praying her to assist him to recover his mistress. He knew not what road to take, but as he understood she had been carried off in a ship, he thought the best way to find her was to go on board one also. He made all speed, therefore, to the most noted port, and without a single attendant, and unknown to every one, he set about informing himself which was the most distant country he could get a passage to, and what coasts, roads, and harbours the vessel could touch at or put into on its voyage. After which he embarked with the hope, that so strong and pure a passion as that which he cherished could not always be an unfortunate one. As soon as they saw land, he took the ship's boat and rowed along the coast, shouting, ​"Constancia! Fair Constancia! where are you?—I seek for you, and call on you in vain!—How much longer must we be separated?" His lamentations and complaints were wasted on the empty air. He returned to the ship, his heart pierced with grief, and his eyes full of tears.

One evening, that they had cast anchor under a great rock, he landed as usual on the beach; but as the country was unknown, and the night very dark, those who accompanied him refused to advance far inland, fearing they might perish there. The Prince, who cared little for his life, however, set forward, falling and scrambling up again a hundred times; at length he perceived a great light, which appeared to proceed from some fire. As he approached he heard much noise, and the sound of hammers, which seemed to be giving tremendous blows. Far from feeling alarmed, he hastened onwards, and came to a large forge, open on all sides, and in which there was a furnace glowing so intensely, that it seemed as if the sun was blazing in the centre of it; thirty giants, each with only one eye in the middle of their foreheads, were at work fabricating armour and weapons.

Constancio approached, and said to them, "If you can feel compassion, amongst all the iron and fire that surround you; if, by accident, you have seen the fair Constancia, who has been carried off as a slave by some merchants, land on this coast, tell me where I can find her, and ask all I possess in the world, I will give it you with pleasure." He had scarcely finished his little oration, when the noise, which had ceased on his appearance, recommenced louder than ever. "Alas!" said he, "my sorrow moves ye not! Barbarians!—I have nothing to hope from you!"

He was turning away, when he heard a sweet symphony which enchanted him; and looking towards the furnace he saw, issuing from it, the most beautiful Boy that imagination could picture; he was more brilliant than the fire out of which he came. As soon as Constancio had remarked his charms, the bandage that covered his eyes, the bow and arrows that he bore, he felt sure it was Cupid; and so, in fact, it was, who called to him: "Stay, Constancio! thou burnest with too pure a flame for me to refuse thee my assistance. I am Virtuous Love. It was I who wounded thee for the fair Constancia, and it is I who now defend her from the Giant ​who persecutes her. The Sovereign Fairy is my most intimate friend: we have combined our powers to preserve Constancia for thee, but I must try the strength of thy passion before I reveal to thee where she is." "Command, Love! Command what thou wilt," exclaimed the Prince; "there is nothing in which I will not obey thee." "Fling thyself into this fire," replied the Boy, "and remember, that if thou lovest not truly, and one alone, thou art lost." "I have no reason to fear," said Constancio; throwing himself instantly into the furnace. All sensation left him; he knew not where or what he was.

He remained in this trance for thirty hours, and on awaking found himself the most beautiful Pigeon in the world. Instead of being in a horrible furnace, he was lying in a little nest of roses, jasmines, and honeysuckles. He was as much surprised as anybody could be; his rough feet, the various colours of his feathers, and his fiery-red eyes, astonished him exceedingly. He saw himself in a rivulet; and when he attempted to complain of his sad fate, he found he had lost the use of speech, though he had retained the power of thought.

He looked upon this transformation as the greatest of all misfortunes. "Oh, perfidious Love!" said he, in his own mind; "is this the reward thou hast bestowed on the truest of lovers?—must one be fickle, treacherous, and perjured, to find favour in thy sight? I have seen many such whom thou hast crowned with triumph, whilst thou heapest affliction on the really faithful. What hope remains for me under such a form as this?—Behold me, a Pigeon! Could I but speak as the Blue Bird did of yore, and whose story I have always delighted in, I would fly high and low, near and far, through every region, in search of my beloved mistress, and question every mortal creature till I found her; but I have not the power even to pronounce her name, and the only remedy left me for my misfortunes is to precipitate myself into some abyss, and end them with my life." Full of his fatal design, he flew to the top of a high mountain, from which he endeavoured to cast himself down: but his wings sustained him in spite of himself. He was astonished at this; for, having never been a Pigeon before, he was not aware of the undesired help his pinions would afford him. He took the resolution, ​therefore, of pulling out all his feathers, and began at once to pluck himself without mercy.

In this bare state he was about to try another somerset from the crest of a rock, when two girls came suddenly upon him. The moment they saw this unfortunate bird, one said to the other, "Where can this unhappy pigeon have come from? Has it just escaped from the sharp talons of some bird of prey, or out of the jaws of a weasel?" "I don't know where it comes from," replied the younger girl; "but I know where it will go to;" and advancing upon the quiet little creature, "it will go," she continued, "to keep company with five others that I mean to make a pie of for the Fairy Sovereign." Prince Pigeon, hearing her speak thus, far from attempting to escape, came towards her in the hope that she would do him the favour to kill him directly: but, instead of causing his death, it saved his life; for the girls found him so tame and prettily mannered, that they determined to make a pet of him. The handsomest put him into a covered basket, in which she usually carried her work, and they continued their walk.

"For some days past," said one of them, "our mistress has seemed to be very busy; she is continually mounting her Fiery Camel, and flies night and day from pole to pole without stopping." "If thou wert to be trusted with a secret," replied her companion, "I would tell thee the reason, for she has chosen to make me her confidant." "Do, and I will be dumb," cried she who had first spoken; "rest assured of my keeping the secret." "Know, then," rejoined the other, "that her Princess Constancia, that she is so fond of, is persecuted by a giant who would marry her. He has shut her up in a tower, and to prevent his forcing her into this match, the Fairy must do some wonderful things."

The Prince listened to their conversation as he sat in the bottom of the basket. He had thought, up to that moment, nothing could increase his misfortunes; but he felt, with the keenest grief, that he had much deceived himself; and one can easily imagine so after all I have said of his passion, and from the position in which he found himself. To have become a pigeon at the very moment when his assistance was so necessary to the Princess, plunged him into perfect despair. His imagination, ingenious in tormenting him, pictured to ​him Constancia in the fatal tower, subjected to the importunities, the violences, and the fury, of a dreadful giant; he feared her courage would fail her, and that she would give her consent to the marriage. The next moment, his fear was, that she would brave him and lose her life from the rage of such a lover! It would be difficult to describe the condition the poor Prince was in.

The young person, who carried him in her little basket, having returned with her companion to the palace of the Fairy, whose servants they were, found their mistress walking in a shady avenue in her garden. They first knelt at her feet, and then said, "Great Queen, here is a pigeon we have found: it is gentle and tame, and if it had feathers would be very handsome; we have determined to bring it up in our own room; but if agreeable to you it shall be sent occasionally to yours, to amuse you." The Fairy took the basket in which the bird was confined, drew it out, and made some serious observations on worldly grandeur: for it was extraordinary to see such a prince as Constancio under the form of a pigeon ready to be stewed or roasted; and, although it was she herself, who had up to that time arranged the whole affair, and that nothing had happened but by her orders, she was addicted to moralizing on all that occurred, and this incident made a great impression upon her. She caressed the little pigeon, and he neglected nothing, on his part, to attract her attention in order to induce her to alleviate the misery he suffered from this sad adventure. He made her a low bow, after the fashion of a pigeon, drawing back one of his feet a little. He billed and cooed affectionately, and though but a novice, proved himself already as clever at it as the oldest ring-dove or wood-pigeon in the country.

The Sovereign Fairy carried him into her cabinet, shut the door, and said to him, "Prince, the sad condition in which I now see thee does not prevent my recognising and loving thee for the sake of my daughter Constancia, who fully returns thy affection. Blame no one but me for thy transformation. I caused thee to enter the furnace to try the truth of thy love; it is pure—it is ardent. I give thee full credit for an act that redounds to thine honour." The Pigeon bowed three times in token of his gratitude, and listened attentively to what the Fairy said to him.

​"The Queen, thy mother," continued she, "had scarcely received the money and jewels given her in exchange for the Princess, than she had her taken by force to the merchants, who had bought her, and as soon as they had her on board they set sail for the Indies, where they were certain to make a fine profit by the precious gem they had obtained possession of. Her tears and prayers could not alter their determination. In vain she assured them that Prince Constancio would ransom her with all he possessed in the world; the more she convinced them of the value he set upon her, the greater was the speed they made in the fear that he would be informed of her abduction, and that he would overtake and snatch from them their prey. At length, after having sailed half over the globe, they encountered a terrific storm: the Princess, overwhelmed by her grief, and the effects of her voyage, was almost dying. They feared they should lose her, and took refuge in the nearest port; but as they were landing they saw approaching them, a Giant of the most tremendous size. He was followed by several others, who all cried out in a breath, that they wanted to see what curiosities were on board the ship. The first thing that struck the giant's sight, on stepping aboard, was the young Princess. They knew each other again immediately. 'Hah! little wretch,' exclaimed the monster, 'the just and merciful gods have placed thee again in my power! Dost thou remember the day I found thee, and that thou didst cut open my sack? I am much mistaken if thou playest me such a trick this time.' So saying, he pounced on her as an eagle would on a chicken, and, despite the resistance and entreaties of the merchants, carried her off in his arms, running as fast as he could to his great tower. This tower is on a high mountain. The Enchanters, who built it, have neglected nothing that could make it beautiful and curious. It has no door; it is entered by the windows, which are placed very high; the walls are of diamonds, which sparkle like the sun, and are impervious to any force. In short, all that art and nature combined could display of splendour, is outshone by what is to be seen there. When the furious giant had secured Constancia, he told her that he would marry her, and render her the happiest creature in the universe; that he would make her mistress of all his treasures; that he would do her the favour to love ​her, and that he did not doubt but that she would be enchanted at her good fortune in meeting with him. She gave him to understand, by her tears and her lamentations, the excess of her despair; and as in secret I was exerting all my power in her favour, I inspired the Giant with a feeling of compassion, which he had never known in his life before; so that in lieu of growing angry, he told the Princess he would give her a year, during which time he would use no violence; but that, if at the end of that period she did not consent to his proposal, he would marry her in spite of herself and kill her afterwards, so that she might consider which course would be the best for her to take.

"After this fatal declaration, he shut up with her some of the most beautiful girls in the world, that they might be her companions, and wile away the profound sorrow in which she was plunged. He posted giants all round the tower, to prevent any one whatever from approaching it; and in fact, should any one have the temerity to do so, they would speedily meet the reward of their rashness, for the giant sentinels are merciless as they are mighty.

"At length, the poor Princess, not seeing the least prospect of relief, and knowing that the year has expired all but one day, has resolved to throw herself from the battlements of the tower into the sea. Such, my Lord Pigeon, is the state to which she is reduced. The only remedy I can see for this evil is, that you should fly to her, carrying in your beak a little ring I have here. The moment she puts it on her finger, she will become a Dove, and you can then fly away together."

The little Pigeon was in the greatest hurry to be off: he did not know how to make her understand him; he pulled the ruffles, and the flounced apron[3] of the Fairy; he then moved to the window, and tapped the panes two or three times with his beak. All this meant, in pigeon tongue, "I beseech thee, Madam, to send me instantly with the enchanted ring to comfort our lovely Princess!" The Fairy ​understood his language, and, responding to his wishes, "Go! Fly, charming Pigeon," said she to him. "Here is the ring, which will be your guide; take great care not to lose it, for you alone can extricate Constancia from the strait she is in."

Prince Pigeon, as I have already told you, had not left himself a single feather. He had torn them all out in his extreme despair. The Fairy rubbed him all over with a wonderful essence, that clothed him immediately with plumage so beautiful and extraordinary that the doves of Venus were not worthy to be compared to him. He was delighted to see himself in such fine feathers again, and taking wing directly, he reached by break of day the top of the tower, the diamond walls of which glittered so brightly that the sun in his splendour could not outshine them. On the summit of the keep there was an extensive garden, in the midst of which rose an orange-tree laden with flowers and fruit. The rest of the garden was very curious, and Prince Pigeon would have taken considerable pleasure in its contemplation had not his mind been occupied by more important matters.

He perched on the orange-tree, holding the ring in his claw, and was getting terribly anxious, when the Princess entered the garden. She wore a long white robe, her head was covered with a great black veil embroidered with gold. It was drawn close over her face, and trailed on the ground all around her. The enamoured Pigeon could not doubt that it was she, had it been possible even for another to possess a form so fine, or an air so majestic. She advanced and seated herself under the orange-tree; and suddenly throwing up her veil, the Pigeon was for a few minutes perfectly dazzled with her beauty.

"Sad regrets, melancholy thoughts!" she exclaimed, "ye are now useless. My woeful heart has passed a whole twelve-month between hope and fear; but the fatal period has arrived. To-day—in a few hours—I must die, or marry the giant. Alas! is it possible that the Sovereign Fairy and Prince Constancio can have so utterly abandoned me? What have I done to them to deserve it? But to what end are these reflections? Is it not better for me to take at once the great step I have resolved on?" She rose with a determined ​air, to precipitate herself from the battlements; but as the slightest noise alarmed her, and she heard the young Pigeon flutter in the tree, she looked up to ascertain the cause, and the bird at the same moment alighted on her shoulder and dropped the important ring into her bosom. The Princess, surprised at the caresses of this beautiful bird and his charming plumage, was equally so at the present he had made her. She examined the ring: she observed upon it some mysterious characters, and was still holding it in her hand when the giant, unobserved by her, entered the garden.

One of the women who waited on her had informed this dreadful lover of the despair of the Princess, and that she had resolved to kill herself rather than marry him. When he heard that she had ascended to the top of the tower so early in the morning, he anticipated some fatal catastrophe. His heart, which till then had never been agitated by any but the most barbarous passions, was so enchanted by the beautiful eyes of that amiable maiden that he loved her tenderly. Ye gods! what were her feelings at the sight of him. She dreaded that he would deprive her of the opportunity of destroying herself. The poor Pigeon was not a little alarmed at this formidable Colossus. In her confusion the Princess slipped the ring on her finger, and, oh, wonderful to relate, she was instantly changed into a dove, and flew off with the faithful Pigeon as fast as her wings could carry her.

Never was anybody so astonished as the Giant. After staring at his mistress, who in the form of a dove was cleaving the vast expanse of air, he stood for some time perfectly motionless. Then uttered such yells and howls that the very mountains shook with them. They ended only with his life, which he terminated by flinging himself into the sea, wherein it was much fitter he should be drowned than that charming Princess. She, in the meanwhile, was flying far away with her guide; but when they had got to a sufficient distance to feel out of danger, they alighted gently in a woodland spot, shaded with many trees, and carpeted with grass and flowers.

Constancia was still ignorant that the Pigeon was her lover. He was exceedingly distressed that he could not inform her of the fact by word of mouth, when suddenly he felt an invisible hand loosen his tongue. In great delight at this, he ​said directly to the Princess, "Has not your heart told you, charming Dove, that you are with a Pigeon who still burns with the flame you kindled?" "My heart sighed for such a happiness," replied she, "but dared not flatter itself with the hope of obtaining it. Alas! who could have imagined it! I was on the point of perishing under the blow of my strange destiny. You came to snatch me from the arms of death, or those of a monster which I still more dreaded."

The Prince, delighted to hear his dove talk, and to find her still as affectionate as he could desire, said to her everything the most tender and ardent passion could suggest. He related to her all that had happened since the sad moment when they parted, particularly his wonderful meeting with Love at the forest, and the Fairy in her palace. She was much delighted to hear that her best friend still took an interest in her. "Let us seek her, dear Prince," said she to Constancio, "and thank her for all the favour she has shown us. She will restore us to our proper forms, and we will return to your kingdom or to mine."

"If you love me as much as I love you," replied the Prince, "I will make a proposal to you in which love alone is concerned; but, charming Princess, you will say I am a madman." "Do not struggle to preserve your reputation for sense at the expense of your heart," replied she; "speak boldly, I shall listen to you with pleasure." "I am for retaining our present forms—you as a Dove, and I as a Pigeon, may still burn with the same flames as Constancia and Constancio. I am convinced that, free from the cares of an empire, having neither council to hold, nor war to wage, nor audience to give, exempted from acting everlastingly an important part on the great stage of the world, it will be delightful to live solely for each other in this charming retreat." "Ah!" exclaimed the Dove, "how much grandeur and tenderness is there in that idea! Young as I am, alas! I have seen much sorrow! Fortune, jealous of my innocent beauty, has so obstinately persecuted me, that I should be enchanted to renounce all the wealth she could give me for the happiness of living only for you. Yes, my dear Prince, I consent. Let us fix on some pleasant place, and pass our best days under this transformation. Let us lead an innocent life without ambition, without a wish, beyond that which virtuous love inspires."

​"I will be your guide!" exclaimed Love, descending from the summit of Olympus; "so fond a design deserves my protection." "And mine also," said the Sovereign Fairy, appearing suddenly; "I came to seek you in order to anticipate by some few moments the pleasure of beholding you."

The Pigeon and the Dove were as much delighted as surprised by this new event. "We place ourselves under your guidance," said Constancia to the Fairy. "Do not abandon us," said Constancio to Cupid. "Come, then," said the latter, "to Paphos; my mother is still honoured there—and they continue to love the birds that were consecrated to her." "No," said the Princess, "we desire not the society of mankind; happy are those who can renounce it! We ask but for a beautiful solitude."

The Fairy immediately struck the ground with her wand, and Love touched it with a golden arrow. At the same moment they beheld the most exquisite wilderness in Nature, richly adorned with groves, flowers, meadows, and fountains. "Live here millions of years," cried Love. "Swear to each other eternal fidelity in presence of this great Fairy." "I swear it to my Dove," said the Pigeon; "I swear it to my Pigeon," said the Dove. "Your marriage," said the Fairy, "could not be blest by a divinity more competent to render you happy. In addition, I promise, that if you should grow weary of this metamorphosis, I will not forsake you; but restore you to your original forms." The Pigeon and the Dove both thanked the Fairy; but assured her they should not invoke her with that object; that they had known too much sorrow as human beings; they only requested her to send to them Ruson, if he were still alive. "He has changed his condition," said Love; "it was I who had condemned him to take the form of a ram; I have had compassion on him, and replaced him on the throne I tore him from." Constancia no longer wondered that she had seen Ruson display so much grace and intelligence. She entreated Love to relate to her the adventures of an animal that had been so dear to her. "I will tell you some day," said Cupid, kindly; "but at this moment I am wanted and wished for in so many places, that I hardly know where to fly first. Farewell!" he continued, "fond and happy pair; you may boast of being the wisest couple in my empire."

​The Sovereign Fairy remained some time with the newly married birds. She could not sufficiently applaud the contempt they had shown for worldly grandeur. It cannot be doubted that they took the surest means to enjoy a peaceful existence. At length she took her leave of them, and it is well known from her account, and from Cupid's, that Prince Pigeon and Princess Dove loved each other faithfully for ever.

Of faithful love behold the destiny,
Cares still tormenting—Hopes but born to die;
Stern trials, sad reverses—'Neath the sun
The course of true love never smooth did run.[4]
Cupid, who links us by such charming ties,
Can lead to happiness in various wise;
The god by troubles oft ensures our bliss.
Young hearts, who sigh o'er such a tale as this,
Know that when Love is pure, suspense and pain
Are but the heralds of his happy reign.

The End

1. Ancient naturalists entertained the idea that the lion was excessively terrified by the crowing of a cock.

2. See note, page 28.

3. Tablier en falbala. The aprons of that day were ornamented with flounces or furbelows (falbalas), with a profusion of which the gowns were also trimmed. Farquhar, in the Inconstant, makes young Mirabel say whimsically, "I had the oddest dream last night of the Duchess of Burgundy; methought the furbelows of her gown were pinned up so high behind, that I couldn't see her head for her tail."—Act iii. Scene 1.

4. The Countess does not actually paraphrase Shakspeare, but the sense of the passages is so similar, that, as in a former instance, p. 104, I felt I could not render the original more faithfully than by availing myself of a popular quotation.

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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