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Prince Sprite or The Imp Prince - a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy

 Read "Prince Sprite" fairy tale for all children. "Prince Sprite" story, is a short 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 had only one son and he was ugly and deformed. The boy was as short as a dwarf and as fat as an adult. The boy was named Furibon by the queen, because she believed that this name would inspire respect and fear. Furibon was also very bad, and this was due to the queen, who never scolded him. When the child grew up and needed a tutor, the king chose a prince who, although he could claim the king's crown, had lost all his estates and could no longer claim it. The king then ordered the tutor's son named Leander to submit to Furibon.

"Prince Sprite or The Imp Prince"
a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy
English publications of this tale translated its name as The Hobgoblin Prince, The Imp Prince, Prince Ariel, Prince Elfin or The Invisible Prince.

Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who had but one son, whom they were passionately fond of, though he was exceedingly deformed. He was as fat as the biggest man, at the same time that he was as short as the smallest dwarf; but the ugliness of his face and the deformity of his body were nothing in comparison with the malignity of his disposition. He was an obstinate brute, who caused the misery of every one about him. The king had observed this from the prince's earliest infancy; but the queen doted upon him, and made him much worse by her outrageous indulgence, which too plainly indicated the power he possessed over her. To find favour in the eyes of this princess, it was necessary to vow that her son was both handsome and witty. She was desirous to give him a name that would inspire respect and fear. After long consideration she called him Furibon.

When he was of an age to require a tutor, the king selected a prince who had a dormant claim to the crown, which he might have maintained like a brave man, had not his estates fallen into decay. As it was, he had long ceased to think of it, and applied himself solely to the education of an only son.

Never was there a youth blessed with a finer disposition. High-spirited, and yet most tractable, there was a peculiar felicity and grace in his every expression. In person he was perfect.

The king having chosen the father of this young nobleman to train up Furibon, expressly commanded the prince to be very obedient to him; but Furibon was so stubborn that an hundred floggings would not cure him of a single fault. His tutor's son was named Leander, and everybody loved him. ​He was a great favourite with the ladies; but he attached himself to no one in particular. They called him "The handsome indifferent." All these attacks upon him failed to produce any change in his manner. He rarely quitted Furibon; and that association served but to make the latter appear more hideous. The little brute never spoke to a lady but to utter some rudeness. Sometimes he would find fault with their dress. Sometimes he would tell them their manners were coarse and countrified. He would accuse them publicly of being painted, and eagerly carried every scandalous story he could pick up about them to the queen, who would not only reprimand them severely, but make them fast by way of punishment. All this caused them mortally to hate Furibon; this he perceived, and generally resented it on the young Leander. "You are vastly happy," said he, looking at him askance; "the women praise and applaud you; they are not so indulgent to me." "My lord," said Leander, modestly, "their respect for you prevents such familiarity." "They are quite right," rejoined Furibon; "I should beat them into a jelly to teach them their duty."

One day, some ambassadors having arrived at the court from a far country, the prince, accompanied by Leander, went into a gallery to see them pass. As soon as the envoys saw Leander they advanced towards him with profound salutations, evincing by signs their admiration. Then observing Furibon they took him for his dwarf, laid hold of him by the arm and, turned him round and round in spite of all his resistance. Leander was in despair; he exhausted himself with his efforts to make them understand that it was the king's son they were treating so unceremoniously, but all in vain; and unfortunately the interpreter was awaiting them in the hall of audience. Finding that they did not comprehend his signs, Leander humbled himself still more before Furibon; but the ambassadors as well as the persons in their suite, imagining this was in jest, laughed till they were almost in fits, and filliped the prince on his nose, after the fashion of their own country. Furibon, transported with rage, drew his little sword, which was not longer than a lady's fan, and had certainly done some mischief had not the king advanced to meet the ambassadors, and to his great surprise observed the commotion. He apologised to them, for he spoke their language. They ​answered him, that it was of no consequence; that they saw clearly the hideous little dwarf was out of temper. The king was greatly chagrined, that the ugliness and folly of his son had occasioned such a mistake.

As soon as Furibon was left alone with Leander he seized him by the hair and tore out two or three handfuls. He would have strangled him if he had had the power, and forbade him ever to appear again in his presence. Leander's father, offended at Furibon's conduct, sent his son to a château he had in the country. He was not at a loss for amusement. He was fond of hunting, fishing, and walking; he could draw from nature, read much, and played on several instruments. He rejoiced he was no longer obliged to pay court to a capricious prince; and, notwithstanding the solitude in which he lived, never knew a moment's dulness.

One day, after walking a long time in his gardens, as the heat increased, he entered a little wood, the trees of which were so high and so leafy that they afforded a very agreeable shade. He began to divert himself by playing on the flute, when he felt something twine itself about his leg very tightly; and on looking down, discovered to his surprise a large adder. He took out his handkerchief, and catching the reptile by its head he was about to kill it; but it twisted itself round his arm, and, fixing its eyes upon him, seemed to crave for mercy. One of his gardeners coming up at the time, no sooner saw the adder than he called out to his master, "Hold it fast, my lord, I have been hunting it for an hour, in order to kill it. It is the most cunning creature in the world, and does desperate mischief in the flower-beds." Leander looked again on the adder, which was spotted with a thousand extraordinary colours, and still gazed at him earnestly without making any effort to defend itself. "As you would have killed it (said he to the gardener) and it ran to me for protection, I forbid you to do it any injury. I shall feed it, and when it has cast its beautiful skin, I shall let it go." He returned to the château and put the adder into a large room, of which he kept the key, and had bran, milk, flowers and herbs provided for it, to feed on and sport with.

Here was a happy adder for you. Occasionally he paid it a visit. The moment it perceived him it crept to meet him, with all the pretty airs and graces that an adder is capable ​of. The prince was rather surprised at it; but, nevertheless, did not pay much attention to the circumstance. All the ladies of the court lamented his absence. They talked of nothing but Leander, and wished him back again. "Alas," said they, "there are no more pleasures at court now Leander has left it. That wicked Furibon was the cause of his departure. Must he needs hate Leander, because he is more amiable and more beloved than himself? Must Leander dislocate his own bones, and split his mouth from ear to ear, in order to resemble him? screw up his eyes, and pull off his nose, to gratify this little baboon? who will never be happy as long as he lives; for he will never find any one so ugly as he is."

However wicked princes may be, they will always have flatterers, and, indeed, those who are wicked find more parasites than the others. Furibon had his share: his influence over the mind of the queen made them fear him. They told him what the ladies said of him, and put him almost into a frenzy with passion. He rushed into the queen's chamber in this state, and vowed he would kill himself before her eyes, if she did not instantly find some means of destroying Leander. The queen, who hated the poor youth, because he was handsomer than her monkey of a son, replied that she had long looked upon Leander as a traitor, that she would willingly put him to death with her own hand. She advised Furibon to go out hunting with the most trustworthy of his confidants, that Leander would join the chase, and that then they might teach him how to make himself loved by everybody. Furibon accordingly went out hunting. When Leander heard the hounds and horns in the wood, he mounted his horse and rode to see who the hunters were. He was much surprised at meeting suddenly the prince. He dismounted and saluted him respectfully. Furibon received him more graciously than he could have hoped, and bade him follow in his suite. At the same time, turning to the assassins, he made signs to them to make sure of their blow. He then galloped away, when suddenly a lion of an enormous size rushed out of a cavern, and springing upon him pulled him to the ground. His attendants fled in every direction, leaving Leander alone to combat the furious animal. Sword in hand, he advanced at the hazard of being torn to pieces, and by his courage and skill rescued his most cruel enemy. ​Furibon had fainted with terror; Leander used every means to revive and reassure him, and as soon as he was sufficiently recovered, offered him his own horse to ride home on. Any one but a monster of ingratitude would have been touched to his heart's core by such great and recent services, and acknowledged them nobly both by words and deeds. Not so Furibon. He did not even deign to look on Leander, and availed himself of his horse but to rally the assassins, and order them instantly to dispatch him. They surrounded Leander, and he must infallibly have been slain but for his undaunted courage. He placed his back against a tree in order to avoid being attacked from behind, and, not sparing one of his enemies, laid about him desperately. Furibon, believing he must be killed, hastened to enjoy the sight of his dead body; but a very different spectacle met his eyes. The villains were all stretched on the earth in their last agonies, and Leander advancing, said to him, "My Lord, if it was by your order these men attacked me, I regret that I defended myself." "You are an insolent traitor," answered the prince, in a rage, "and if ever you again appear in my presence, I will have you put to death."

Leander made no reply. He returned home very sorrowful, and passed the night in thinking what he ought to do, for there was no likelihood of his being able to make a stand against the king's son. He resolved to go abroad and see the world: but when he was just ready to start upon his travels, he remembered the adder, and took to it some milk and some fruit. On opening the door he perceived an extraordinary light shining in a corner of the room, and to his great astonishment beheld a lady, whose noble and majestic air left no doubt of the greatness of her birth. Her dress was of amaranth satin, bordered with diamonds and pearls. She advanced towards him with a gracious smile, and said, "Young Prince, seek not for the adder you brought hither, it is no longer here; you behold me in its place, to discharge the debt it owes you: but to speak to you more intelligibly, know that I am the Fairy Gentille, celebrated for the amusing and dexterous feats I know how to perform. Our race live an hundred years without growing old, without maladies, without fears or pains. At the expiration of that period, we become adders for the space of a week. It is only during ​that time that we are in any danger, for then we can neither foresee nor prevent misfortunes, and if we were killed we should never come to life again. The week ended, we return to our usual shapes, with renewed beauty, power and treasures. You now, my lord, can understand the obligations I am under to you. It is but just I should repay them. Think how I can be useful to you, and depend upon my friendship."

The young prince, who had never before held any communication with fairies, was so astonished, that it was some time before he could speak. But at length, making her a profound bow,—"Madam," said he, "after the honour I have enjoyed of being of service to you, it appears to me I have nothing more to desire of Fortune." "I shall be very sorry," replied she, "if you do not put me in the way of rendering you some service. Consider that I have the power to make you a great king, to prolong your life, to make you still more amiable, to give you mines full of diamonds and houses full of gold. I can make you an excellent orator, poet, musician and painter, the idol of the women; render your nature more ethereal, make you a spirit of air, water and earth."—Leander interrupted her at this point. "Permit me, Madam, to ask you," said he, "what advantage should I derive from becoming a spirit?" "It would enable you to do a thousand useful and agreeable things," replied the fairy. "You are invisible whenever you please, you traverse in an instant the vast expanse of the universe, you rise in the air without wings, you descend to the centre of the earth without dying, you plunge into the depths of the ocean without being drowned, you enter everywhere, though the windows and doors are fastened ever so carefully, and, at any moment you please, you re-appear in your natural form." "Ah, Madam!" exclaimed Leander, "I will be a spirit. I am about to travel; I can imagine an infinite number of pleasures to be enjoyed under such circumstances, and I prefer that gift to all the others which you have so generously offered me." "Be a spirit, then," replied Gentille, passing her hand three times over his eyes and face. "Be a beloved spirit, an amiable spirit, and a frolicksome spirit." She then embraced him, and gave him a little red hat ornamented with two parrot's feathers. "When you put on this cap," continued she, "you will be invisible; when you take it off you appear again." Leander, enraptured, ​clapped the little red hat on his head, and wished to fly to the forest to cull some wild roses he had observed there. In an instant his body became light, and swift as thought he darted through the window towards the forest, soaring like a bird. He was rather alarmed when he saw himself at a great height and crossing the river. He feared he should fall into it, and that the power of the fairy could not prevent it: but he found himself safe at the foot of the rose-tree, gathered three roses, and returned immediately to the room in which the fairy was still standing. He presented them to her, charmed that his little trial-trip had been so successful. She told him to keep the roses; that one of them would furnish him with any money he might require; that by placing another in his mistress's bosom, he would know if she were faithful to him; and that the third would preserve him from sickness. Then, without waiting to be thanked, she wished him a fortunate journey and disappeared.

Leander was exceedingly delighted with the valuable boon which had been conferred upon him. "Could I ever have imagined," said he, "that for having saved a poor adder from the clutches of my gardener, I should be rewarded by the possession of such rare and great advantages!—Oh, how I shall enjoy myself!—what pleasant moments I shall pass!—how many things I shall become acquainted with! I can be invisible,—I can witness the most secret adventures." It occurred to him also, that it would be a rich treat to him, to take some vengeance upon Furibon. He speedily arranged his affairs, and mounting the handsomest horse in his stables, named Grisdelin, he departed, followed by a few of his servants, wearing his livery, in order that the news of his return to court might be more speedily known.

You must know that Furibon, who was a great story-teller, had reported that but for his own bravery Leander would have assassinated him during the chase, that he had killed all his people, and that justice should be done upon him. The king, importuned by the queen, gave orders for the arrest of Leander, so that when he arrived in such a public manner, Furibon was immediately informed of it. He was, however, too great a coward to encounter Leander himself. He ran to his mother's apartments and told her Leander had returned to court, and entreated her to have him arrested. The queen, ​eager to do anything her monkey of a son desired, lost no time in seeking the king; and the prince, impatient to learn the result of the interview, stopped, and put his ear against the door, and lifted up his hair to hear more distinctly. Leander entered the grand hall of the palace with his little red cap on his head, and was of course invisible. As soon as he caught sight of Furibon listening, he took a nail and a hammer and nailed his ear to the door-post. Furibon, distracted, raved and thumped at the door like a madman, uttering piercing shrieks. The queen, at the sound of his voice, ran to open the door to him, and in so doing pulled off her son's ear. He bled as if his throat had been cut, and made a hideous grimace. The queen, inconsolable, sat him in her lap, took up his ear, kissed it, and stuck it on again.

Leander took a handful of twigs which were used for whipping the king's little dogs, and rapped the queen's knuckles and the prince's nose with them. The queen called out she was being murdered, massacred. The king stared, the attendants rushed in, no one was to be seen, and it was whispered about that her majesty was out of her wits, and that it must be from grief at seeing Furibon's ear torn off. The king believed the rumour, and avoided the queen when she approached him. The scene was altogether very amusing. The merry Sprite gave Furibon another good switching, and then, quitting the apartment, he went into the garden and became visible. There he boldly gathered the cherries, apricots, and strawberries, and the rarest flowers in the queen's parterre,—those she took special care of herself, and which it was death to touch. The gardener, thunderstruck, ran to tell their majesties that Prince Leander was stripping the fruit-trees and plundering the flower-garden. "What insolence!" exclaimed the queen. "My little Furibon, my dear poppet!—forget, for a moment, the pain of your ear, and run after that wretch; take with you our guards, our musqueteers, our police, our courtiers. Place yourself at their head, and cut the traitor into collops." Furibon, excited by his mother's words, and followed by a thousand men well armed, hurried into the garden, and saw Leander under a tree, who flung a stone at him, which broke his arm, and pelted his troops with oranges. They rushed upon Leander: but he instantly became invisible, and stepping behind Furibon, who was already in a sad plight, passed ​a cord between his legs, which threw him on his nose. They picked him up, and carried him to bed exceedingly ill.

Leander, satisfied with this revenge, returned to where his people awaited him, distributed money amongst them, and sent them back to his castle, not wishing any one to accompany him who might be acquainted with the secret of the little red hat and the roses. He had not made up his mind whither he would go. He mounted his beautiful horse called Grisdelin, and allowed him to take whatever road he pleased. He passed through woods and plains, over hills and valleys, without number, resting occasionally, and eating and sleeping, without meeting with anything worthy of notice. At length he came to a forest, in which he stopped and dismounted, for the sake of a little shade, the day being very hot. The next moment he heard some one sighing and sobbing: he looked all about him, and saw a man, now running, now stopping, now uttering cries of despair, then silent, tearing his hair, and striking himself violent blows. There was no doubt he must be some miserable madman. The prince, touched with compassion, accosted him. "I see you," said he, "in so pitiable a condition, that I cannot help inquiring the cause, and offering you any assistance in my power." "Oh, my lord," answered the young man, "there is no remedy for my misfortunes. This very day my beloved is to be sacrificed to a jealous old wretch, who is very wealthy, but who will make her the most miserable person in the world." "She loves you, then?" said Leander. "I may flatter myself she does," replied he. "And where is she?" continued the prince. "In a castle at the further end of this forest," answered the lover. "Well," said Leander, "wait here for me; I will shortly bring you some good news." So saying, he put on the little red hat, and wished himself in the castle. He had scarcely arrived, when he heard a strain of sweet music; and on entering the building, it echoed with the sound of violins and other instruments. He walked into a grand hall, filled with the relations and friends of the old man and the young lady. Nothing could be more lovely than the latter; but the paleness of her cheeks, the melancholy imprinted on her countenance, and the tears which occasionally filled her eyes, sufficiently expressed her grief. Leander, become an invisible spirit, placed himself in a corner, to watch the persons who were ​present. He saw the father and mother of this beautiful girl, who in whispers scolded her for the disinclination she manifested, and then returned to their places. The Sprite glided behind the mother, and said in her ear,—"As thou dost constrain thy child to give her hand to this old baboon, assure thyself that within a week thou shalt be punished by death." The woman, terrified at hearing a voice and seeing no one, and still more so by the threat it uttered, gave a loud shriek, and fell on the floor. Her husband asked what was the matter with her. She explained that she should be a dead woman if her daughter's marriage took place, and that she would not consent to the match for all the treasures in the world. The husband was inclined to laugh at her, and treat her as a dreamer; but the Sprite approached him, and said, "Incredulous old man, if thou dost not believe thy wife, it will cost thee thy life. Break off this match, and give thy daughter immediately to him she loves." These words produced an astonishing effect. The intended bridegroom was abruptly bowed out, on the excuse that they broke off the match solely in obedience to commands from heaven. He doubted, and attempted some chicanery, for he was a Normandy man;[1] but the Sprite shouted such a terrible "Aha!" in his ear, that it almost deafened him; and, to settle the matter, trod on his gouty feet hard enough to crush them. So they ran to seek out the lover in the wood. The Sprite awaited his coming with great impatience,—his young mistress alone could feel more. The lovers were ready to die with joy. The banquet which had been prepared for the old man's nuptials, served for those of this happy pair; and the Sprite, resuming his visible form, appeared suddenly at the hall-door, like a stranger who had been attracted by the sounds of festivity. As soon as the bridegroom perceived him, he ran and flung himself at his feet, calling him by every name his gratitude could suggest. Leander passed two days in their castle, and might have remained there if he had chosen, for they offered him all they were worth in the world. He left such good company with much regret.

​He continued his journey, and reached a great city, in which there lived a queen who delighted in filling her court with the handsomest people in her kingdom. Leander, on his arrival, set up the most splendid equipage that was ever seen. He had only to shake his rose, and obtain as much money as he wished for. It is easy to imagine that, being handsome, young, witty, and above all, magnificent, the queen and princesses received him with a thousand marks of esteem and consideration.

This court was one of the most gallant in the universe. Not to be in love was to be ridiculous. Leander desired to be in the fashion, and fancied he could amuse himself by falling in love, and that when he departed he could leave his passion behind him as easily as his equipage. He cast his eyes on one of the queen's maids of honour, who was called the beautiful Blondine. She was a very accomplished person, but so cold and so grave, that he was puzzled how to gain her favour.

He gave enchanting fêtes in her honour; balls and plays every evening; brought her the rarest presents from every part of the globe: but nothing seemed to move her, and the more indifferent she appeared to him, the more he exerted himself to please her. What fascinated him still more was, the belief that she had never loved any one. To be satisfied on this point, it occurred to him to try the power of his rose. He placed it, jestingly, on the bosom of Blondine, and immediately, fresh and blooming as it was, it became faded and withered. It needed nothing further to convince Leander that he had a favoured rival. He felt the mortification keenly, and to have ocular demonstration, he that evening wished himself in Blondine's apartment. He saw a musician introduced, who was one of the ugliest beings possible. He howled three or four verses which he had composed for her, the words and air of which were equally detestable; but she enjoyed them as if they were the finest things she had ever heard in her life. She praised all his frantic grimaces, so much was she taken with him; and finally permitted the filthy fellow to kiss her hand. The outraged Sprite flung himself on the impertinent musician, and, pushing him violently against the balcony, threw him into the garden, knocking out the few teeth he had left in his head.

If a thunderbolt had fallen on Blondine she could not have ​been more astonished. She thought the musician himself possessed by a demon. The Sprite glided out of the apartment without discovering himself, and returned immediately to his own lodgings, whence he wrote to Blondine, reproaching her as she deserved. Without waiting for her answer, he departed, leaving his splendid carriage and horses to his equerries and gentlemen. He paid the rest of his people handsomely, and mounted his faithful Grisdelin, determined never to love again after the trick that had been played him.

Leander rode away at full speed. He was for a long time a prey to grief, but reason and absence gradually worked a cure. He arrived at another city, where he learned that a great ceremony was about to take place that very day, on the occasion of a young maiden being admitted into the order of Vestals, although contrary to her own inclinations. The prince pitied her. It seemed as if his little red hat was given him expressly to repair public injuries and console the afflicted. He ran to the temple. The young creature was crowned with flowers, dressed in white, with her hair flowing on her shoulders; two of her brothers led her by the hand, and her mother followed her, with a large company of both sexes. The eldest Vestal was in waiting at the gates of the temple. At this moment the Sprite shouted, "Stop! stop! Wicked brothers! Reckless parent! Stop! Heaven is opposed to this unjust ceremony. If you venture to proceed you shall be crushed like frogs."

They stared about them without being able to discover whence proceeded these terrible threats. The brothers said it was the lover of their sister, who had hidden himself in some hole to play the oracle; but the Sprite in great wrath took a long stick and inflicted a hundred blows on them. The stick was seen to rise and fall on their shoulders like a hammer upon an anvil. Nobody could doubt that the blows were real. Terror seized the Vestals, they fled, and everybody followed their example. The Sprite alone remained with the young victim. He quickly took off his little hat, and begged to know how he could assist her. She told him, with more courage than one would have expected in a girl of her age, that there was a knight to whom she was not indifferent, but that he had no fortune. Leander shook his rose so much that he left with them ten millions; they married and lived very happily.

​The last adventure he met with was the most agreeable. On entering a great forest he heard the plaintive cries of a young female. He felt assured some violence was being offered her. He looked about him everywhere, and at length perceived four men well armed carrying off a girl, who appeared to be about thirteen or fourteen years of age. He hastened towards them and exclaimed, "What has this child done to you, that you should treat her like a slave?" "Ha! ha! my little lord," answered the chief of the party, "what business is that of yours?" "I command you," added Leander, "to release her instantly!" "Yes, yes; without fail;" they all answered laughingly. The Prince, much irritated, threw himself from his horse, and clapped on his little red hat, for he did not think himself bound to face fairly four men, who were sufficiently powerful to fight twelve. When his little hat was on, they must have been cunning who could have seen him. The robbers cried, "He has fled; it is not worth our while to hunt for him; let us only catch his horse." One remained as a guard with the young girl, while the other three ran after Grisdelin, who gave them plenty of exercise. The little girl continued her cries and complaints: "Alas, my beautiful Princess," said she, "how happy was I in your palace! how could I live far away from you! If you knew of my sad misfortune, you would send your Amazons to rescue your poor Abricotine!" Leander heard her, and without delay seized the arm of the robber who held her, and tied him to a tree, before he had time or power to help himself; for he could not see the person who bound him.

Hearing his cries for help, one of his comrades came running quite out of breath, and asked who had bound him. "I don't know," he replied, "I have seen no one." "That's a story trumped up to excuse thyself," answered the other, "but I've long known thee to be but a coward, and I will treat thee as thou deservest." So saying he gave him a score of blows with his stirrup-leathers. The sprite amused himself amazingly, with hearing him bellow; and then, approaching the second robber, he seized his arms, and bound him to a tree facing his comrade, saying to him, as soon as he had done it, "Now, then, my brave fellow, who has pinioned thee? Art thou not a great coward to have suffered it?" The rogue had not a word to say for himself, and hung down his head ​ashamed; not being able to imagine how he had been made a prisoner without seeing any one. In the meanwhile Abricotine took the opportunity of escaping, although she knew not which way to run. Leander missing her, called three times for Grisdelin, who being in a huny to obey his master, got rid of the two robbers that pursued him with a couple of kicks, fracturing the skull of one, and breaking three ribs of the other. The sprite was now only anxious to rejoin Abricotine; for she had appeared to him very pretty. He wished to be where she was, and instantly found himself in the presence of the girl; who was so very much fatigued that she was clinging to the trees every moment for support. When she saw Grisdelin advancing so gaily, she exclaimed, "Good, good; here is a fine horse that will carry Abricotine back to the Palace of Pleasures!" The sprite heard her plainly enough; but she could not see him. He rode close up to her, Grisdelin stopped, and she jumped up. The sprite caught her in his arms, and placed her gently before him. Oh, what a fright Abricotine was in, to feel herself in the grasp of somebody, and see nobody! She did not dare to move; she shut her eyes, fearing to see some fearful goblin. She uttered not the slightest word. The Prince, who had always the nicest sweetmeats in the world in his pockets, tried to put some in her mouth; but she set her teeth, and kept her lips as close as possible.

At length he took off his little red hat, and said to her, "Why, Abricotine, you are very timid, to be so much afraid of me. It is I who released you from the hands of the robbers." She opened her eyes and recognised him. "Ah! my lord," said she, "I am greatly indebted to you. It is true, I was much alarmed to find myself in the power of an invisible being." "I am not an invisible being," replied he, "but, perhaps, your sight was troubled at the moment, and you did not observe me." Abricotine believed that it must nave been so, though she was naturally shrewd enough. After having chatted for some time on indifferent subjects, Leander begged she would tell him her age, her country, and by what mischance she had fallen into the hands of robbers. "I am under too much obligation to you," said she, "to refuse satisfying your curiosity; but I intreat you, my lord, to consider the speed of our journey of more importance than listening to my story."

​"A fairy, who in science never had an equal, fell so desperately in love with a certain prince, that, although she was the first fairy who had ever been weak enough to love, she did not hesitate to marry him, in spite of all the other fairies, who unceasingly represented to her the wrong she did to their order. They would not allow her to dwell amongst them any longer; and all she could do was to build a grand palace near the confines of their kingdom. But the prince she had married became weary of her. He was exasperated at her fore-knowledge of all his actions. The instant he had the least liking for another, she flew out at him like a fury, and changed the object of his admiration from the most beautiful person to the ugliest fright in the world.

"The prince finding such an excess of affection extremely inconvenient, went off one fine morning with post horses, and travelled a very, very great distance, in order to hide himself in a deep cave at the bottom of a mountain, where she should not be able to find him. He was not successful. She followed him, and informed him that she should shortly become a mother; conjured him to return to his palace; promised that she would give him money, horses, dogs, arms, build a riding-school, and a tennis-court, and lay out a mall for his diversion. All this had no effect on him, he was naturally obstinate and a libertine. He said a hundred harsh things to her, and called her an old witch, and a hobgoblin. 'It is fortunate for thee,' said she, 'that I have more sense than thou hast folly; for I could transform thee, were I so inclined, into a cat that should be continually squalling in a gutter, or into a vile toad sputtering in the mud, or into a pumpkin, or a screech owl; but the greatest punishment I can inflict on thee is to abandon thee to thy own humours. Remain in thy hole, in thy gloomy cavern with the bears, call around thee the neighbouring shepherdesses; thou wilt learn in time the difference between beggarly peasants and a fairy, who can render herself as charming as she pleases.'

"She immediately entered her flying chariot, and departed swifter than a bird. The moment she reached home, she transported her palace to an island; turning out of it all the guards and officers, and taking into her service women of the Amazonian race,—whom she set to watch the shores of the island so strictly that no man could possibly enter it. She ​named this spot the Isle of Peaceful Pleasures, asserting constantly, that it was impossible to enjoy such in the society of the male sex. She brought up her daughter in this opinion. There never was so beautiful a creature. She is the Princess whom I serve; and as all the purest pleasures reign around her, nobody grows old in her palace. Young as I look, I am more than two hundred. When my mistress grew up, her fairy mother gave her the island, with many excellent lessons how to live happily. She then returned to Fairy Land, and the Princess of Peaceful Pleasures governs her state in an admirable manner.

"I do not remember having seen, ever since I was born, any other men than the robbers who carried me off, and you, my lord. Those ruffians told me they were employed by a certain ugly and misshapen person, called Furibon, who was in love with my mistress from seeing only her portrait. They prowled about the island, without daring to set foot on it. Our Amazons are too vigilant to let any one enter it; but as I have charge of the Princess's birds, and accidentally let her beautiful parrot fly away, fearing her displeasure, I imprudently quitted the island in search of it. The men seized me, and would have carried me away with them but for your assistance."

"If you have any gratitude," said Leander, "may I not hope, beautiful Abricotine, that you will enable me to enter the Island of Peaceful Pleasures, and gaze on this wonderful princess, who never grows old?" "Ah, my lord," said she, "we should be lost, both of us, if we attempted such a thing! It is easy for you to forego the enjoyment of a pleasure you never knew. You have never been in that palace; fancy there is none." "It is not so easy as you imagine," replied the Prince, "to root from one's memory things that have so agreeably occupied it; and I do not agree with you that it is certain, that to enjoy peaceful pleasures you must absolutely banish our sex." "My lord," answered she, "it is not for me to decide that point. I will even confess to you, that, if all men resembled yourself, I should be of opinion that the Princess would alter the laws; but as I have only seen five, and found four of them so wicked, I conclude that the bad far out-number the good, and that it is, therefore, better to banish them all."

​Thus conversing, they came to the bank of a large river. Abricotine sprang lightly to the ground. "Adieu, my lord," said she to the Prince, making him a profound curtsy; "I wish you so much happiness that the whole world shall be to you but one Island of Pleasures. Retire quickly, for fear our Amazons should observe you." "And I, beautiful Abricotine," said the Prince, "wish you a tender heart, in order that I may now and then be recalled to your memory."

So saying, he rode away, and entered the thickest part of a wood he saw near the river. He took off Grisdelin's saddle and bridle, that he might graze at his pleasure. He put on his little red hat, and wished himself in the Island of Peaceful Pleasures. His wish was instantly gratified: he found himself in the most beautiful and the most extraordinary place in the world.

The palace was of pure gold; around the parapets stood statues of crystal, studded with jewels, which represented the signs of the Zodiac, and all the wonders of nature, the sciences, the arts, the elements, the sea with its fishes, the earth with its beasts, Diana hunting with her nymphs, Amazons performing their noble exercises, the amusements and occupations of a country life, shepherdesses with their flocks and their dogs, agriculture, harvest, gardens, flowers, bees; and amongst all these various subjects there was not a male figure to be seen, no men, no boys,—not even a poor little Cupid. The Fairy's wrath against her truant husband had rendered her merciless to his whole sex.

"Abricotine has not deceived me," said the Prince to himself. "The very idea of man is banished from this spot." Let us see if he be much a loser by it. He entered the palace, and beheld at every step such marvels, that having once cast his eyes on them, he could not withdraw them without a struggle. The intrinsic value of the gold and diamonds was trifling compared to that of the art which had been employed upon them. In every direction he met with groups of gentle, innocent, laughing girls, beautiful as day. He passed through a long suite of vast apartments, some filled with the finest China, the perfume of which, joined to its fanciful forms and colours, was exceedingly pleasing; others, the walls of which were made of porcelain, so transparent that the daylight streamed through them; others were of rock crystal, richly engraved; and there were also some of amber and of coral, of ​lapis lazuli, of agate, of cornelian; and the Princess's own apartment was entirely of looking-glass, for it was impossible to multiply too much so charming an object.

Her throne was formed out of a single pearl, hollowed in the shape of a shell, and in which she could sit with perfect ease. It was hung round with lustres, ornamented with rubies and diamonds; but all this looked less than nothing beside the incomparable beauty of the Princess. Her infantile air combined all the simple grace of the child with the dignified manners of the educated woman. Nothing could equal the softness or the brilliancy of her eyes. It was impossible to find a fault in her. She smiled graciously on her maids of honour, who on that occasion had arrayed themselves as nymphs for her entertainment. As she missed Abricotine, she inquired where she was. The nymphs replied that they had sought in vain for her; she could not be found. Leander, dying to speak, assumed the tiny voice of a parrot (for there were several in the room), and said: "Charming Princess, Abricotine will soon return; she would have been carried off, but for a young prince she met with." The Princess was surprised at this speech of the parrot's, for the answer was so much to the purpose. "You are a very pretty little parrot," said she, "but you are evidently mistaken; and when Abricotine comes, she will whip you." "I shall not be whipped," replied Leander, still imitating the voice of the parrot. "She will tell you about the anxiety of the stranger to be permitted to enter this palace, and disabuse your mind of the false notions you entertain respecting his sex." "Really, parrot," exclaimed the Princess, "it is a pity you are not always so entertaining; I should love you dearly." "Ah! if to please you, it be only necessary for me to talk," replied Leander, "I will never cease speaking." "Why!" continued the Princess, "would one not swear this parrot was a sorcerer!" "He is more a lover than a sorcerer," answered Leander. At that moment Abricotine entered, and flung herself at the feet of her beautiful mistress. She related her adventure, and drew the Prince's portrait in very vivid and favourable colours.

"I should have hated all men," she added, "if I had not seen that one. Oh, Madam! he is so charming! His air, and all his manners, have in them something so noble, so ​intelligent, and as everything he says is excessively agreeable, I think I have done very right in not bringing him hither." The Princess said not a word about that; but continued to question Abricotine respecting the Prince,—whether she did not know his name, his family, whence he came, whither he was going; and finally she fell into a profound reverie.

Leander narrowly observed everything, and continued to speak as he had begun. "Abricotine is ungrateful, Madam," said he. "This poor stranger will die of grief if he do not see you." "Well, parrot, let him die then," replied the Princess, sighing, "and as thou presumest to talk on this matter like a rational person, and not like a little bird, I forbid thee ever to speak to me again about this stranger." Leander was charmed to see that the words of Abricotine and of the parrot had made such an impression on the Princess. He gazed on her, with a delight which made him forget the oath he had taken never to love again so long as he lived. Certainly, there could be no comparison between the Princess and that coquette, Blondine. "Is it possible," said he to himself, "that this masterpiece of nature, this wonder of our time, should dwell for ever in an island where nobody dares approach her! But," continued he, "what does it signify to me that all other men are banished, since I have the honour to be present; to see, to hear, to admire her, and love her, as I already do to distraction?"

It was late; the Princess passed into a saloon of marble and porphyry, where several sparkling fountains in full play shed around them a delicious coolness. As soon as she entered an overture commenced, and a sumptuous supper was served. On each side of the saloon were aviaries, full of rare birds, of which Abricotine had the care.

Leander had acquired during his travels the art of imitating their various notes; he imitated even such as were not there. The Princess listened, looked, was astonished, and at length rose from the table and approached one of the cages. Leander warbled half as loudly again, and assuming the voice of a canary-bird, he sang the following words to an air which he improvised on the spot:—

Life without love is but a winter's day;
Joyless along its lonely path we stray.
Love, then,—O love a lover who adores thee!
All here invites—e'en Love himself implores thee!

​The Princess, still more surprised, sent for Abricotine, and asked her if she had taught one of the canary-birds to sing. She replied, No, but that she thought canaries might fairly be supposed to possess as much intelligence as parrots. The Princess smiled, and believed that Abricotine had given the birds lessons in private, and returned to the table to finish her supper.

Leander had worked sufficiently hard to have acquired a good appetite. He drew near to the banquet, the odour of which alone was invigorating. The Princess had a blue cat, a very fashionable appendage at that period, and which she was exceedingly fond of: one of her maids of honour carried it in her arms. "Madam," said the maid of honour, "it is my duty to inform your highness that Bluet is hungry." They seated the cat at the table with a little gold plate before it, and a napkin of lace, very tastefully folded. The cat had a collar of pearls to which was appended a golden bell; and with the air of a gourmand it began to eat. "Oh, oh!" quoth Leander to himself, "a great blue tom-cat, who probably has never caught a mouse in his life, and who is assuredly not of a better family than I am, has the honour to sup with my beautiful princess! I should like to know if he loves her as well as I do; and if it is fair that I should only enjoy the smell, while he munches the tit bits." With that he quietly lifted up the blue cat, placed himself in the arm-chair, and took the animal in his lap. Nobody observed him, of course; how could they?—he had on his little red hat. The Princess piled up the golden plate of Bluet with partridge, quail, and pheasant. Partridge, quail, and pheasant, disappeared in a moment. All the court agreed, never had a blue cat been known to have such an enormous appetite. There were some excellent ragouts on the table. Leander took a fork, and holding forth with it the cat's paw, he helped himself to the ragouts. Sometimes he took rather a large quantity. Bluet did not understand joking; he mewed and tried to scratch like a wild cat. The Princess desired the servants to hand this tart or that fricassee to poor Bluet. "Observe how he cries for it!" Leander laughed in his sleeve at this absurd adventure; but he was very thirsty, not having been accustomed to sit so long at table without drinking. He caught hold, with the cat's paw, of a great melon, which a little ​allayed his thirst, and supper being nearly over, he made off to the sideboard, and drank two bottles of delicious nectar.

The Princess entered her closet; she desired Abricotine to follow her, and to shut the door. Leander kept close to her, and made a third in the apartment, unperceived. The Princess said to her confidant, "Acknowledge that thou hast exaggerated in describing to me this unknown; it appears to me impossible that he can be so charming." "I protest, Madam," replied she, "that if I have erred in anything it is in not having praised him enough." The Princess sighed, and was silent for a minute; then, resuming the conversation, "I am obliged to you," said she, "for having refused to bring him with you." "But, Madam," replied Abricotine, (who was a shrewd girl, and saw already the turn her mistress's thoughts were taking,) supposing he had come hither to admire the wonders of this beautiful place, what harm could it have caused to you? Do you desire to remain for ever unknown in this corner of the world, hidden from all other mortals? Of what value is so much grandeur, pomp, and magnificence, if nobody see it?" "Peace! Peace! little casuist," cried the Princess; "trouble not the happy repose I have enjoyed these six hundred years. Dost thou imagine, if I had led a restless and turbulent life I could have existed so many years? None but innocent and tranquil pleasures can produce such effects. Have we not read in the best histories the revolutions of great empires, the unforeseen blows of inconstant fortunes, the wild excesses of love, the pangs of absence or of jealousy? What is it that occasions all these terrors and afflictions? Nothing but the intercourse between the sexes. Thanks to the precaution of my mother, I am exempt from all these crosses, I feel no heart-aches, I cherish no vain desires, I know neither envy, love, nor hatred. Ah! for ever, for ever, let us enjoy the happy indifference!" Abricotine did not venture to reply: the Princess waited a short time, and then asked her if she had nothing to say. She answered, that in that case she thought it had been very unnecessary to send miniatures of the Princess to the courts of several foreign sovereigns, where they would only make people miserable; as everybody would be dying to see her, and not being able to do so, would go distracted." "Notwithstanding that," said the Princess, "I confess, I wish that my ​portrait should fall into the hands of this stranger, whose name I am ignorant of." "Oh, Madam," replied Abricotine, "is not his desire to behold you already sufficiently violent? Would you increase it?"—"Yes!" exclaimed the Princess; "a certain feeling of vanity, unknown to me till now, has given birth to that wish." Leander listened to all this without losing a word. Several expressions gave him the most flattering hopes, while the next moment others seemed to destroy them entirely.

It was late; the Princess entered her bed-chamber to retire for the night. Leander would have been too happy to follow her to her toilette; but, although it was easy for him to do so, the respect he entertained for her was sufficient to prevent him. He felt he ought not to take any liberties beyond what he might fairly be allowed, and his love was of so delicate and refined a nature, that he tormented himself most ingeniously respecting the veriest trifles.

He entered a cabinet, close to the bed-chamber of the Princess, to enjoy at least the pleasure of hearing her voice. She was at that moment asking Abricotine, if she had seen anything extraordinary in her little journey. "Madam," she replied, "I passed through a forest, in which I saw some animals resembling children; they jumped and danced upon the boughs of the trees like squirrels; they are very ugly, but their dexterity is incomparable." "Ah, how I should like to have some!" said the Princess; "if they were less agile one might possibly catch some of them."

Leander, who had also passed through this forest, knew perfectly well Abricotine must mean monkeys. Immediately he wished himself there: he caught a dozen large and small, and of various colours, put them with considerable difficulty into a great sack, then wished himself at Paris, where he had heard say anything could be had for money. He went to Dautel, who is a virtuoso, and bought of him a little coach entirely made of gold, to which he attached six green monkeys, with flame-coloured morocco harness mounted with gold. He then went to Brioché,[2] a celebrated puppet-showman. He found there two very clever monkeys. The most intelligent was called Briscambille, and the other Perceforêt; they were both exceedingly polite and well educated. He ​dressed Briscambille in royal robes, and put him into the coach. Perceforêt he made the coachman, the other monkeys were attending as pages.

Nothing more elegant was ever seen. He put the coach and the booted monkeys into the same sack, and the Princess was not in bed before she heard in the gallery the sound of little coach-wheels, and her nymphs came to announce to her the arrival of the King of the Dwarfs. At the same moment the little carriage was driven into the room with its monkey-train, and the wild ones played innumerable tricks, which, in their way, were quite equal to those of Briscambille and Perceforêt. Sooth to say, Leander conducted the whole affair. He took the little monkey out of the little gold coach, who had in his hand a box encrusted with diamonds, which he presented with considerable grace to the Princess. She opened it instantly, and found in it a note, in which were written the following lines:—

What beauties, what treasures surround me!
Fair palace, how lovely art thou!
Yet lovelier she who has bound me,
By charms never dreamed of till now!
Peace reigns in this thrice nappy Isle,
But none the poor captive can feel,
Who worships, yet trembles the while
His flame or his form to reveal.

It is easy to imagine her surprise! Briscambille made a sign to Perceforêt to come and dance with him. None of the most celebrated dancing monkeys ever equalled this wonderful pair: but the princess, uneasy at not being able to guess from whom the verses came, dismissed the performers sooner than she would otherwise have done, notwithstanding that they had amused her vastly, and that she had at first laughed at them to such a degree that she nearly fainted. She then gave herself up entirely to her reflections, but without being able to penetrate the mystery.

Leander, satisfied with the attention paid to his verses, and the pleasure the Princess had taken in seeing the monkeys, now thought it was time to take a little rest, of which he was in great need; but he was afraid he might select an apartment belonging to one of the nymphs-in-waiting on the Princess. He remained for some time in the grand gallery of the palace; then, descending, he found an open door. He entered softly one of the lower rooms, more beautiful and ​commodious than any he had ever seen. There was a bed in it with gold and green gauze furniture, looped up in festoons with ropes of pearls, and tassels of rubies and emeralds. It was already light enough for him to examine and admire the extraordinary magnificence of this piece of furniture. Having fastened the door, he fell asleep; but the thoughts of his beautiful princess disturbed his slumbers, and he awoke frequently sighing forth her name.

He rose so early that he had time to grow impatient before the time arrived that she was visible, and looking about him, he perceived a canvas prepared for painting, and a packet of colours. He immediately remembered what the Princess had said to Abricotine about her portrait; and, without losing an instant, he sat down before a large looking-glass, (for he painted better than the best artists of his time.) and took his own portrait; he then drew in an oval that of the Princess, for her features were so vividly impressed on his heart, that he had no occasion to see her for the first sketch. He finished the portrait afterwards from the fair original without her perceiving him, and as the desire to please her gave a charm to his labour, never was there a picture so admirably painted. He had drawn himself kneeling and holding the portrait of the Princess in one hand, and in the other a scroll, on which was written,

Her image is more perfect in my heart.

When she entered her cabinet she was astonished to see the picture of a man. She riveted her eyes upon it in still greater surprise when she recognised her own, and read the inscription on the scroll, which afforded her ample food for curiosity and conjecture. She was alone at that moment, and could not tell what to think of so extraordinary a circumstance, but persuaded herself that it must be Abricotine who had paid her this delicate attention. She now only wanted to ascertain whether the picture of this cavalier was merely a fancy one, or if Abricotine had really seen such a person. She rose hastily, and ran to call her. Leander was already in the cabinet with his little red hat on, anxious to hear what would be said on the subject.

The Princess desired Abricotine to look at the picture, and to give her his opinion of it. The moment she cast her eyes upon it, she exclaimed, "I protest, Madam, it is the likeness ​of that generous stranger to whom I owe my life! yes, 'tis he, I cannot be mistaken. There are his features, his form, his hair, his carriage!" "Thou feignest astonishment," said the Princess, smiling; "but it was placed here by thyself." "By me, Madam!" replied Abricotine. "I swear to you I never saw this picture before in my life. Am I capable of concealing anything from you which it would interest you to be acquainted with? And by what miracle could it come into my possession? I have not the least knowledge of painting—no man has ever entered this island, and yet here are your united portraits." "I tremble with fear," said the Princess; "some demon must have brought this painting hither!" "Madam," said Abricotine, "may it not have been Love? If you think I am right, I will venture to give you a little advice. Let us burn the picture immediately." "It would be such a pity," said the Princess sighing; "methinks my cabinet could not be better adorned than by this painting." She looked at Abricotine as she uttered these words; but the girl continued to insist they ought to burn an article that could only have been brought there by magic. "And these words," said the Princess, "'Her image is more perfect in my heart,' must we burn them also?" "We ought to spare nothing," replied Abricotine, "not even your own likeness." And so saying, she ran off to fetch a light. The Princess turned away to a window, unable to gaze any longer on a portrait which produced such an impression on her heart; and Leander, who did not choose his picture should be burnt, took this opportunity of removing it unobserved by the Princess. He had scarcely quitted the room with it, when she turned to take another look at the charming form which had so fascinated her. What was her surprise at its disappearance! She hunted all round the room for it. Abricotine returned, and was asked if she had removed it. She assured her she had not, and this last adventure completely terrified them.

As soon as Leander had hidden the portrait he returned to the cabinet. It was exceeding pleasure to him so frequently to hear and see his lovely princess. He dined every day at her table with the blue cat, who was certainly not the gainer by it; there was, however, much still wanting to Leander's happiness, as he dared neither speak in his own voice, nor make himself visible. It is rarely that we love those we have never seen.

​The Princess had a taste for everything that was beautiful. In the present state of her heart she needed amusement. One morning when she was surrounded by her nymphs, she observed that she had a great desire to know how the ladies dressed in the various courts throughout the world, in order that she might select the most becoming and tasteful fashion for her own. Leander wanted no other inducement to range the universe. He pushed his little red hat almost over his eyes, and wished himself in China. He bought the richest stuff he could find there, and took copies of all the dresses. From thence he flew to Siam, where he did the same thing. In brief, he visited the four quarters of the world in three days; and as fast as he could load himself he returned to the Palace of Peaceful Pleasures, to hide what he had purchased in one of the apartments. When he had thus collected an infinite number of curiosities, (for money was nothing to him; his rose furnished him with it incessantly,) he went and bought five or six dozen dolls, which he had dressed in Paris; the place of all the world in which fashion has most temples. The dolls exhibited every variety of national habits, and all of unparalleled magnificence. Leander arranged them in the cabinet of the Princess.

When she entered nobody was ever more agreeably surprised. Each doll held a present in its hand; either watches, bracelets, diamond buttons, or necklaces: the most prominent bore a miniature case. The princess opened it, and found the portrait of Leander. Her recollection of the other painting enabled her to recognise it instantly. She uttered a loud exclamation! then looking at Abricotine, said to her, "I am at a loss to understand what has happened in my palace for some time past. My birds talk rationally. I seem to have only to form a wish to have it instantly accomplished. I have been twice presented with the portrait of the person who saved thee from the robbers; and here is a collection of rich stuffs, diamonds, embroideries, lace, and innumerable ether rare and costly things. Who is the fairy, or who is the demon, that takes the trouble to render me all these agreeable services?" Leander hearing her say this, wrote the following lines on his tablets, and threw them at the feet of the Princess:—

I am neither fiend nor fay,
Only an unhappy lover,
Who dare not himself discover—
Pity me, at least, you may!
                                        Prince Sprite.

The tablets were so brilliantly ornamented with gold and jewels that they caught her attention instantly; she opened them, and read with the greatest astonishment what the Prince had written on them. "This invisible being must be a monster," she exclaimed, "since he dares not show himself; but if it were true that he had some affection for me, the presenting me with so touching a portrait shows he cannot have much delicacy. He must either not love me, to subject my heart to so painful a trial, or he has too good an opinion of himself, and believes that he is far more fascinating." "I have heard say, Madam," replied Abricotine, "that sprites are composed of air and fire—that they have no corporeal substance, and that it is only by their intelligence and their desires that their existence is manifested." "I am right glad to hear it," rejoined the Princess; "such a lover cannot greatly disturb my tranquillity."

Leander was delighted to hear her, and see her so occupied with his portrait. He remembered, that in a grotto to which she frequently repaired, there was a pedestal intended to support a statue of Diana, which was still in the hands of the sculptor. He placed himself on it in an extraordinary habit, crowned with laurels, and holding a lyre in his hand, on which he could play better than Apollo. He waited impatiently for the coming of his Princess, according to her daily custom. It was the spot to which she retired to meditate upon her unknown adorer. Abricotine's account of him, joined to the pleasure which the contemplation of his portrait had occasioned her, combined to rob her heart of rest. She found a charm in solitude, and her joyous disposition had undergone such a change that her nymphs could scarcely recognise their mistress.

As she entered the grotto she made signs to her attendants not to follow her. Her nymphs dispersed themselves in the various avenues. The Princess threw herself on a bank of turf. She sighed and shed a few tears. She even uttered some words, but in so low a tone that Leander could not catch them. He had worn his little red hat, in order that ​she should not see him on her entrance, but he now took it off. Her surprise was excessive at beholding him. She took him to be a statue, for he stood motionless in the attitude he had assumed. She gazed upon him with a mixed feeling of joy and alarm. His unexpected appearance astonished her, but in her heart pleasure soon conquered fear, and she began to admire a figure so lifelike; when the Prince, to the accompaniment of his lyre, sung the following verses:—

What perils lurk in this enchanted spot!
Indifference the heart availeth not!
Vain are the vows I made to love no more;
Hopeless, I give the unequal struggle o'er.'
Why call this realm the Isle of Peaceful Pleasure?
Who treads its shore, a slave thenceforth must sigh.
Vanquished, I cease with Love my strength to measure;
Here, in his chains, I would but live and die!

Melodious as was the voice of Leander, the Princess could not master the terror with which the prodigy inspired her. She turned pale and fainted. Leander alarmed, leaped from the pedestal, and put on his little red hat, that no one might perceive him. He raised the Princess in his arms, and used every means his affection and anxiety could suggest to recover her. She opened her beautiful eyes, and looked around her as if in search of him. She saw no one; but she felt somebody was near her who pressed her hands, kissed them, and bathed them with tears. For some time she did not dare speak. Her mind was agitated between hope and fear. She trembled at the sprite; but she loved the handsome unknown, whose features she believed it had assumed in the statue. At length she exclaimed, "Sprite! charming Sprite! why are you not the person I would have you be?" At these words Leander was on the point of declaring himself, but still hesitated to do so. "If I terrify the object I adore," thought he, "if she fear me, she will not love me." These considerations kept him silent, and induced him to retreat into a corner of the grotto.

The Princess, believing herself to be alone, called Abricotine and related to her the prodigy of the animated statue. That its voice was celestial, and that when she fainted the sprite had rendered her the kindest assistance. "What a pity," she exclaimed, "that this sprite is deformed and hideous, for ​nothing can be more tender and amiable than its manners." "And who told you, Madam," replied Abricotine, "that it is so? Did not Psyche believe that Cupid was a serpent? Your adventure resembles hers. You are not less beautiful. If it were Cupid who loves you, would you not return his passion?" "If Cupid and the unknown were the same person," said the Princess, blushing, "I should love Cupid; but such a happiness is not in store for me. I am fascinated by a chimera, and the fatal portrait of that stranger, joined to thy description of him, has caused a revolution in my feelings so opposed to the precepts of my mother, that I dread the punishment it may entail on me." "Pray, Madam," said Abricotine, interrupting her, "have you not already trouble enough, without anticipating evils which will never occur?"—It is easy to imagine the delight this conversation gave Leander.

In the meanwhile little Furibon, still in love with the Princess without having seen her, impatiently awaited the return of the four emissaries he had despatched to the Island of Peaceful Pleasures. One alone found his way back, and gave him an account of all that had happened. He informed him also that the island was defended by Amazons, and that unless he was at the head of a large army, he had no chance of setting foot in it.

The king, his father, was just dead, and Furibon was therefore his own master, with absolute power over everything. He raised an army of upwards of four hundred thousand men, and marched at the head of them. There was a fine general! Briscambille or Perceforêt would, either, have made a much better. His charger was not half-a-yard high. When the Amazons perceived this great army advancing, they gave notice to the Princess, who lost not a moment in sending the faithful Abricotine to the kingdom of the Fairies to request her mother's advice as to the best means of resisting Furibon's invasion. But Abricotine found the Fairy exceedingly angry. "I am aware of everything my daughter has done," said she. "Prince Leander is in her palace; he loves her, and is beloved again. All my care has been insufficient to defend her from the tyranny of Cupid; she is in his fatal power. Alas! the cruel god is not satisfied with the mischief he has done me; he exerts his influence over the being I loved dearer than my life! Such are the decrees of destiny! I cannot ​oppose them. Begone, Abricotine! I will hear no more of this girl, whose sentiments cause me so much affliction." Abricotine returned to the Princess with these bad tidings. It required little more to drive her to distraction. Leander was beside her, invisible; her extreme distress caused him the greatest pain. He dared not speak to her at that moment; but he recollected that Furibon was very avaricious, and that probably he might be tempted by a large sum of money to abandon his enterprise. He assumed the dress of an Amazon, and wished himself in the forest where he had left his horse. As soon as he called "Grisdelin!" Grisdelin came leaping and prancing to him with great delight, for he had become very weary waiting so long for his dear master; but when he saw him in female attire, he could not recognise him, and feared at first he was deceived. On Leander's arrival at the camp of Furibon, everybody took him to be really an Amazon; he was so handsome. They informed the king that a young lady demanded an audience on the part of the Princess of Peaceful Pleasures. He hurried on his royal robes, and seated himself on his throne, where one would have thought it was a large toad pretending to be a king.

Leander commenced his address, by informing him that "the Princess preferring a quiet and peaceable life to the troubles of warfare, was willing to give him any sum of money he would name, provided he would not molest her; but that, at the same time, if he refused this offer, she should certainly defend herself to the extent of her power."

Furibon replied, that "he was willing to take pity on her; that he would honour her by his protection; and that she had only to send him a hundred thousand thousand thousand millions of pistoles, and he would immediately return to his own kingdom." Leander answered, "that it would take too much time to count a hundred thousand thousand thousand millions of pistoles; but that he had only to say how many rooms full he desired; and that the Princess was too rich and too liberal to calculate so closely." Furibon was greatly astonished, that instead of endeavouring to bargain for a smaller sum, he was actually offered more; he thought to himself he would take all the money he could get, and then arrest the Amazon and kill her, in order that she should never return to her mistress.

​He accordingly told Leander he required thirty very large rooms to be filled completely with gold pieces, and gave him his royal word that he would then retire with his army. Leander was conducted to the apartments selected to be filled with gold. He took the rose and shook it, and shook it, so much, so much, that out of it poured pistoles, quadruples,[3] Louis, gold crowns, rose-nobles,[4] sovereigns,[5] guineas,[6] sequins,[7] in a perfect deluge. There are few things in the world to be seen more beautiful than a shower of gold.

Furibon was in raptures, in ecstasies; and the more gold he saw, the more he longed to seize the Amazon, and catch the Princess. As soon as the thirty chambers were quite full, he called to his guards, "Arrest! arrest that cheat; she has brought me bad money." All the guards rushed forwards to fling themselves upon the Amazon; but, at the same instant, the little red hat was put on, and Leander had disappeared. They thought he had made his escape, and ran after him, leaving Furibon by himself. Leander immediately seized him by the hair and cut off his head, as if it had been a chicken's, without the wretched little king ever seeing the hand that dealt the blow.

As soon as Leander had severed the head, he wished himself in the Palace of Pleasures. The Princess was walking in the gardens, meditating sadly on the message she had received from her mother, and on the means by which she could repulse Furibon; a difficult matter, considering she had no other troops but a few Amazons, who could not possibly defend her against four hundred thousand men.

Suddenly she saw a head suspended in the air, without ​appearing to have anything to sustain it; a prodigy which astonished her so much, that she knew not what to think of it. It was still more astounding when she saw the head laid at her feet by an unseen hand. At the same time she heard a voice which said to her,—

"Fear no more, charming Princess, Furibon will never harm you."

Abricotine recognised the voice of Leander, and exclaimed, "I protest, Madam, the invisible being who speaks to you is the stranger who rescued me!" The Princess appeared equally surprised and delighted. "Ah!" said she, "if it be true that the sprite and the stranger are one and the same, I confess it would give me great pleasure to prove to him my gratitude." The Sprite replied, "I will labour still more to deserve it." With that he returned instantly to the army of Furibon, through which the news of their king's death was spreading rapidly. The moment he appeared among them in his usual dress, every one ran to him, officers and soldiers surrounded him, uttering loud shouts of joy. They acknowledged him as their king,—that the crown belonged of right to him. He liberally allowed them to share amongst themselves the thirty chambers full of gold, so that the whole army were made rich for ever; and after several ceremonies, which guaranteed to Leander the fidelity of his troops, he flew back again to the Princess, leaving orders with his army to return by easy marches to his own dominions.

The Princess had retired for the night, and the respect which Leander had for her prevented his entering her apartment. He went at once to his own, for he had always slept in the lower one. He was sufficiently fatigued to need repose, and in consequence forgot to fasten the door as carefully as usual. The Princess suffered from heat and anxiety. She rose before dawn, and descended in dishabille to the lower apartment. But what was her astonishment to see Leander asleep on the bed! She had plenty of time to examine his features without being seen, and to convince herself that he was the person whose portrait she possessed in the diamond box. "It is not possible," said she, "that this should be a sprite; for do sprites sleep? Is this a being composed of air and fire, occupying no space, according to the description of Abricotine?" She gently touched his hair; she listened ​to his breathing; she could not tear herself away from him. One moment she was in raptures at having found him; the next she was alarmed at the consequences. Just as she was most earnestly gazing upon him, the Fairy, her mother, entered with such a tremendous noise that Leander awoke, and started to his feet. What was his surprise and affliction at seeing his Princess in the depths of despair! Her mother was dragging her away, and loading her with reproaches. Oh, what misery for these young lovers! They saw themselves on the point of being separated for ever. The Princess dared not say a word to the furious Fairy, she looked only at Leander, as if to implore his assistance.

He knew well that it was not possible for him to release her from the grasp of so powerful a person; but he sought, by eloquence and by submission, to touch the heart of the irritated mother. He ran after her, threw himself at her feet, implored her to have pity on a young king whose love for her daughter was unchangeable, and whose greatest felicity would consist in rendering her happy. The Princess, encouraged by his example, embraced her mother's knees, and declared to her, that without the king she could never be happy, and that she was under the greatest obligations to him. "You know not the degradation of love," cried the Fairy, "and the treachery of which these gay deceivers are capable. They captivate but to poison us. I have too dearly proved it! Would you incur a destiny like mine?" "Ah, Madam!" exclaimed the Princess, "is there no exception? The assurances which the king gives you, and which seem so sincere, do they not satisfy you that I may safely trust him?" The obstinate Fairy allowed them to sigh at her feet. In vain her hands were bathed with their tears; she appeared impenetrable; and no doubt would never have forgiven them, if the amiable Fairy, Gentille, had not appeared in the chamber more brilliant than the sun. The Graces accompanied her, and she was followed by a troop of Loves, Sports, and Pleasures, who warbled a thousand new and charming songs, and frolicked about like children.

Gentille embraced the old Fairy. "My dear sister," said she, "I am sure you have not forgotten the good service I rendered you when you desired to return to our kingdom. Without my assistance you would never have been received ​in it, and since that time I have never asked you any favour in return; but the moment has arrived when you can grant me an essential one. Pardon this lovely Princess, and consent to her union with the young king. I will answer for his fidelity. Their days will be as a tissue of gold and silk. The alliance will afford you the greatest satisfaction, and I shall never forget the pleasure you will give me." "I consent to anything you wish, charming Gentille!" cried the Fairy. "Come, my children, come to my arms; receive the assurance of my affection." With these words she embraced the Princess and her lover. The Fairy Gentille was in raptures of joy, and all her train commenced singing nuptial hymns, the sweet symphonies of which awoke the nymphs of the palace, who came running, in their light robes of gauze, to ascertain what was passing.

What an agreeable surprise for Abricotine! She had scarcely cast her eyes on Leander when she recognised him, and seeing him holding the hand of the Princess, she doubted not an instant of their mutual happiness. The confirmation of it was the declaration of the Fairy mother that she would transport the Island of Peaceful Pleasures, the palace, and all the marvels it contained, into Leander's dominions; that she would reside there with them; and that she would confer many greater gifts upon them. "Whatever your generosity may suggest to you, Madam," said the king to her, "it is impossible you can make me a present equal to that bestowed upon me to-day. You have made me the happiest of men, and I feel convinced that you will find me also the most grateful." This little compliment very much pleased the Fairy. She was one of the old school, in whose time people would compliment each other all day long on some thing as trifling as the leg of a fly.

As Gentille had thought of everything, she had caused to be transported to the palace, by the power of Brelic-breloc,[8] the generals and captains of the army raised by Furibon, in ​order that they might witness the splendid fête she was about to give on this occasion. She took enormous pains about it, and five or six volumes would not suffice to contain the description of the comedies, operas, runnings at the ring, concerts, combats of gladiators, huntings, and other magnificent diversions, which took place at these charming nuptials. The most singular circumstance was, that each nymph found amongst the brave officers whom Gentille had wafted to these beautiful regions, a husband as passionately attached to her as if he had known her for ten years. It was nevertheless only an acquaintance of four-and-twenty hours, but the little wand of a Fairy could produce effects even still more extraordinary.

Where have ye fled, ye happy days,
When, by the power of a Fairy
Good folks might 'scape a thousand ways
Out of the very worst quandary?_
When, with a cap or flow'r, one might
Mahe any change, play any gambol,_
Invisible, see every sight,
And round the world, through æther, ramble?
Leander a rich rose possess'd,
Which yielded money without measure;
Another rose the wearer bless'd
With perfect health—a greater treasure;
A third he had, which you must know,
I think, was less to be desired,—
The truth or falsehood it could show
Of the fair lady he admired.
Alas! to such a case as this
The old quotation well applies—
In love, if "ignorance is bliss,
Tis," indeed, "folly to be wise."

The End

1. Normandy is libelled sadly in France.

"Faisons tour de Norman;

 Dédisons-nous."—La Fontaine, "Les Troqueurs."

"Le Normand même alors ignorait le parjure."—Boileau, Epist. ix.

2. See note to p. 65.

3. The Spanish gold doubloon, called quadruple in French, because it was equal in value to four Louis, or eighty francs.

4. The rose-noble, an appropriate coin to issue from such a mint, was the old English gold coin of Edward III.'s reign, first called rose-noble in that of Henry VIII., to distinguish it from the new George noble, struck by the latter monarch.

5. The sovereigns here mentioned were Austrian gold coins of the value of thirty-three francs nine centimes, or about twenty-eight shillings English. There was, however, a gold sovereign coined in England in the reign of Henry VII. The modern Austrian sovereign is of much less value.

6. The guinea in Madame d'Aulnoy's days was a new coin. It was first struck in the year 1664, and took its name from the gold of which it was made, being brought from Guinea by the African Company. It was originally only a twenty-shilling piece; its increased value occurring from the subsequent scarcity of gold, in the reign of William and Mary, at one period of which it passed for thirty shillings.

7. The sequin (zecchino) is a gold coin still current in Italy and the Levant, and varies greatly in value. In Tuscany it is worth about 10s. 6d. English.

8. Literally, "without order," "any how," "higgledy-piggledy"—"breliè-breloque," "sans ordre, inconsideremment;" but it is used in this instance as a substantive, implying whim, caprice, fancy, illusion; the term "breloque" signifying a toy, gewgaw, whim-wham; and "berloque," derived from the same root, illusion or confusion of the senses. "Avoir la berlue," is to see double, to be dazzled; and "battre la breloque," signifies to talk wildly, to be confused, to lose one's head,—"être tout dérouté." "Berloquer" is also used to express trifling away time, which some of my readers may think I am doing at the present moment.

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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