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The Blue Bird - a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy

 Read "The Blue Bird" fairy tale for all children. "The Blue Bird" 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 whose wife died and he was very affected. Out of grief, the king locked himself in a dungeon and there he began to bump his head against the walls. So that their king would not be harmed, his subjects placed mattresses on the walls to protect the king's head. They all tried to say words to make him overcome the pain of his wife's death, but none of them managed to get him out of his condition. A cunning woman came to the king and instead of telling him words of relief from the pain, she told him that she had to cry even more, because she was crying for her husband too. After weeping for a long time, the king began to fall in love with the woman and soon they got married. The king had a very beautiful girl named Florine, but the new queen also had a daughter, but she was very ugly. Out of wickedness, the new queen was now trying her best to discredit Florine in front of her father.

"The Blue Bird"
a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy

Once upon a time there was a king who was exceedingly rich both in lands and money. His wife died, and he was inconsolable. He shut himself up for a week in a little room, where he beat his head against the walls in the extremity of his affliction. Fearing he would kill himself, they put some mattrasses between the tapestry and the wall, so that knock himself about as much as he pleased he could not do himself any mischief. All his subjects agreed amongst themselves, that they would go to him and exert their utmost eloquence to moderate his grief. Some prepared grave and serious orations; others, agreeable, and even lively addresses; but none made the least impression upon his mind, for he scarcely heard a word they said to him. At last a female presented herself before him, so muffled up in black crape, veils, mantles and other long mourning garments, and who wept and sobbed so much and so loudly, that he was perfectly astonished. She told him, she would not attempt, as others had done, to mitigate his sorrow; she came to augment it, as nothing could be more just than to lament the loss of a good wife; that for her own part, having lost the best of husbands, she had made up her mind to weep as long as she had eyes in her head; and thereupon she redoubled her groans, and the king, following her example, began to howl outright. He received this visitor with more attention than the others. He talked to her of the excellent qualities of his dear departed, and she recapitulated all those of her beloved defunct. They talked so much of their sorrow, that at last they were puzzled to know what more to say about it. When the cunning ​widow saw the subject was nearly exhausted, she raised her veil a little, and the afflicted king refreshed his sight with the contemplation of this poor mourner, who rolled about her large blue eyes fringed with long black lashes in the most effective manner. Her complexion was still blooming. The king examined her with a great deal of attention. By degrees he spoke less and less of his wife: at last he ceased to speak of her altogether. The widow declared that she should never leave off mourning for her husband. The king implored her not to make sorrow eternal. In fine, to the astonishment of everybody, he married her, and the sables were changed into green and rose colour. It is often only requisite to ascertain the particular foibles of persons, to enable you to creep into their confidence, and do just as you please with them.

The king had only had a daughter by his first wife, who was considered the eighth wonder of the world. She was named Florine, because she was so sweet, young, and beautiful. She was seldom seen in splendid attire, she preferred light morning dresses of taffety, fastened with a few jewels, and quantities of the finest flowers, which produced an admirable effect when twined with her beautiful hair. She was only fifteen when the king was re-married.

The new queen sent for her own daughter, who had been brought up by her godmother, the Fairy Soussio, but she was not more graceful or beautiful in consequence. Soussio had laboured hard to make something of her, but had laboured in vain. She loved her dearly, though, notwithstanding. Her name was Truitonne, her face being covered with reddish spots like those on the back of a trout.[1] Her black hair was so greasy and dirty, that no one would venture to touch it, and oil oozed out of her yellow skin. The queen, her mother, doted on her; she talked of nothing but the charming Truitonne, and as Florine possessed so many advantages over her daughter, it exasperated her, and she sought, by every possible means, to injure the poor princess in the eyes of her father. Not a day passed that the queen and Truitonne did not play Florine some mischievous trick. The princess, who was mild as she was sensible, only endeavoured to keep herself out of the reach of their malice.

​The king observed one day to the queen, that Florine and Truitonne were of an age to be married, and that they should bestow the hand of one of them on the first prince who visited their court. "I wish," said the queen, "that my daughter should be married first; she is older than yours, and as she is a thousand times more amiable, there can be no hesitation about the matter." The king, who disliked argument, answered that he was quite willing it should be so, and that he left her to take any measures she pleased.

A short time after this, it was announced that a visit from King Charmant might be expected. Never was any prince more celebrated for gallantry and magnificence. In mind and person he was charming as his name implied. When the queen heard this news, she employed all the embroiderers, all the tailors, all the work-people of every kind, to make dresses for Truitonne, and requested the king to give nothing new to Florine. She then bribed the waiting women to steal all the princess's clothes, head dresses, and jewels, the very day King Charmant arrived, so that when Florine went to dress she could not find even a ribbon. She knew well enough who had done her this good turn. She sent to purchase materials for a new dress; but all the tradesmen returned for answer, that they had been forbidden by the queen to furnish her with anything. She was left, therefore, with only the gown she had on her back, and which was very much soiled, and she was so ashamed of her appearance that, when King Charmant arrived, she hid herself in a corner of the hall.

The queen received her royal visitor with great pomp, and presented her daughter to him, a complete blaze of magnificence, which only made her look more ugly than usual. King Charmant turned his eyes from her as soon as possible. The queen endeavoured to persuade herself that he was too much struck with her, and was afraid of committing himself. In this belief, she continually placed Truitonne before him. He inquired if there was not another princess named Florine. "Yes," said Truitonne, pointing to her with her finger; "there she is, hiding herself, because she is not finely dressed." Florine blushed, and looked so beautiful, so exceedingly beautiful in her confusion, that King Charmant was perfectly dazzled. He rose immediately and bowed profoundly to the princess. "Madam," said he, "your incomparable beauty renders ​the foreign aid of ornament quite unnecessary." "Sir," replied she, "I own I am little accustomed to wear so disgraceful a dress as this, and I should have been better pleased to have escaped your notice." "It would have been impossible," exclaimed Chamiant, "for a princess so marvellously beautiful to be anywhere without attracting all eyes from the contemplation of any other object." "Ah," said the queen, greatly irritated, "it is pretty pastime to hear you pay these compliments! Believe me, Sir, Florine is already vain enough; she stands in no need of such excessive flattery." King Charmant quickly perceived the queen's motives for thus speaking, but as he was not at all accustomed to constrain his inclinations, he continued openly to manifest his admiration of Florine, and conversed with her for three whole hours.

The queen in despair, and Truitonne inconsolable that the princess should be thus preferred to her, complained bitterly to the king, and compelled him to consent that, during the residence of King Charmant, Florine should be shut up in a tower, where they could not see each other; and, accordingly, no sooner had she retired to her apartments, than four men in masks seized and carried her to a room at the top of the tower, where they left her in the greatest distress, for she saw clearly that she was thus treated in order to prevent her securing the affections of her royal admirer, with whom already she was much delighted, and would willingly have accepted him for her husband.

As he was not in the least aware of the violence that had been used towards the princess, he awaited with the greatest impatience the hour when he hoped to meet her again. He talked of her to the gentlemen whom the king had placed about his person to do him honour, but, as they had been ordered by the queen, they said all the ill of her they could imagine:—that she was coquettish, inconstant, ill-tempered; that she tormented her friends and her servants; that it was impossible for any one to be more slovenly; and that she was so avaricious, that she would much rather be dressed like a poor shepherdess than spend the money allowed her by the king her father in the purchase of rich apparel befitting her rank. During all these details Charmant was suffering tortures, and could scarcely restrain his anger. "No," he argued to himself; "it is impossible that Heaven would permit so ​worthless a soul to inhabit the master-piece of Nature. I admit she "was badly dressed when I first saw her, but the shame she evinced proves that she was not accustomed to be so. What! Can she be ill-tempered and coquettish, with such an enchanting air of mildness and modesty? It is not reconcilable with common sense! I can much more easily imagine that the queen has caused her to be so slandered. She is only her stepmother, and the Princess Truitonne, her own daughter, is such an ugly creature, that it would not be extraordinary if she were envious of the most perfect of human beings."

Whilst he thus reasoned with himself the courtiers about him readily imagined, from his manner, that he was not best pleased by their abuse of Florine. One, who was more astute than the rest, in order to discover the real sentiments of the prince, changed his tone and language, and began to extol the princess wonderfully. At the first words, Charmant woke up as from a deep sleep. He entered eagerly into the conversation. His features all lighted up with joy.—O Love! Love! how hard thou art to hide! thou art visible everywhere!—on a lover's lips, in his eyes, in the tone of his voice,—when we truly love, silence, conversation, happiness, or misery, are equally demonstrative of the passion which absorbs us.

The queen, impatient to learn if King Charmant was much smitten, sent for those whom she had placed in positions to acquire his confidence, and passed the rest of the night in their interrogation. Everything they reported only served to confirm the opinion she had formed that the king was in love with Florine. But how shall I describe to you the melancholy state of that poor princess? She lay stretched on the floor in the keep of that terrible tower to which the masked ruffians had carried her. "I should be less to be pitied," said she, "if I had been immured here before I had seen that amiable monarch. The recollection of him I cherish only serves to increase my distress. I cannot doubt, but that it is to prevent my seeing him again that the queen has treated me thus cruelly. Alas, how fatal to my peace has been the little beauty it has pleased Heaven to bestow on me!" She then began to weep bitterly, so bitterly that her worst enemy would have pitied her if a witness of her affliction. Thus passed the night.

​The queen, who was anxious to win over King Charmant by every attention it was in her power to pay him, sent him presents of the most costly and magnificent dresses, made in the newest fashion of that country, and the Order of the Knights of Cupid, which she had compelled the king her husband to institute the day they were married, in honour of their nuptials. The badge of it was a golden heart, enamelled flame-coloured, surrounded by several arrows, and pierced with one, with the words, "One alone wounds me." The queen had, however, for Charmant a heart cut out of a ruby, as large as an ostrich's egg; each arrow was made of a single diamond about the length of a finger, and the chain to which the badge was appended was composed of pearls, the smallest of which weighed a full pound. In short, ever since the world has been a world, there was never anything like it. Charmant, at the sight of it, was so astonished that it was some time before he spoke a word. In the meanwhile they presented to him a book, the leaves of which were of the finest vellum, beautifully illuminated, and the binding covered with gold and jewels. In it the statutes of the Order of the Knights of Cupid were written in a gallant and tender style. They told him that the princess he had seen, prayed him to be her knight, and had sent him this present. At these words he flattered himself that it came from her he loved. "How! does the lovely Princess Florine," cried he, "honour me by this splendid and flattering mark of her consideration?" "Sire," they replied, "you mistake the name; we come from the amiable Truitonne." "Truitonne! is it she who would have me be her champion?" said the king with a cold and serious air; "I regret that I cannot accept the honour; but a sovereign is not sufficiently his own master to enter into any engagements he pleases. I know the duties of a knight, and would fain fulfil them all. I would, therefore, prefer foregoing the favour she designs me, to proving myself unworthy of it." At the same time he replaced in the same corbeille,[2] the heart, the chain, and the book, and sent them all back to the queen, who, with her daughter, was ready to choke with rage at the contemptuous manner in which the ​illustrious foreigner had declined so especial a favour. King Charmant visited the king and queen as often as he was permitted the opportunity, in hopes of meeting Florine in the royal apartments. His eyes were everywhere in search of her. The moment he heard any one enter the room he turned sharply round towards the door, and seemed always restless and unhappy. The malicious queen easily guessed what was passing in his mind; but she appeared to take no notice of it. She talked to him only about parties of pleasure; and he returned her the most incongruous answers. At last he asked her plainly, where was the Princess Florine? "Sir," replied the queen, haughtily, "the king her father has forbidden her to quit her own apartments until my daughter is married." "And what motive," inquired King Charmant, "can there be for making such a prisoner of that beautiful princess?" "I know not," said the queen, "and if I did, I should not consider myself bound to inform you."

Charmant felt his anger rising fearfully; he cast an angry glance upon Truitonne, assuring himself in his own mind that little monster was the cause of his being deprived of the pleasure of beholding Florine, and abruptly quitted the queen's presence, which gave him too much pain.

On his return to his own apartments, he requested a young prince who had accompanied him, and to whom he was much attached, to gain over, at any cost, one of the princess's attendants, in order that he might speak to Florine for one moment. The prince soon found some of the ladies of the palace, whom he could venture to admit into his confidence, and one of them promised him that Florine should that very evening be at a little lower window, which looked upon the garden, and from whence she could converse with Charmant provided he was exceedingly careful that no one should be aware of it; "for," added she, "the king and queen are so severe, that they will take my life if they discover I have favoured the passion of Charmant." The prince, delighted that he had so far succeeded in his mission, promised her anything she could desire, and ran to pay his court to his royal master, by announcing to him the hour of assignation; but the false confidante in the meantime went and told the queen what had occurred, and requested to know her commands. She immediately decided to place her daughter at the little ​window. She gave her particular instructions, and Truitonne attended to them all, notwithstanding her natural stupidity.

The night was so dark it was impossible for King Charmant to discover the imposition, even had he been less confident, so that when he drew near to the window indescribably transported with joy, he poured forth to Truitonne all the tender things he would have said to Florine, to convince her of his affection. Truitonne, profiting by the occasion, told him that she felt she was the most unfortunate person in the world, in having so cruel a stepmother; and that she should never cease to suffer all sorts of annoyances till the queen's daughter was married. Charmant assured her, that if she would accept him for her husband, he should be enchanted to share with her his heart and crown; and thereupon he drew his ring from his finger, and placing it on one of Truitonne's, he begged her to receive it as a token of eternal fidelity, and added that she had only to fix the hour for their flight. Truitonne made the best answers she could to his urgent persuasions. He noticed they were not very sensible, and the circumstance would have given him some uneasiness but that he thought it arose from the terror she was in of being surprised by the queen. He left her only on condition that she would meet him again the next night at the same hour, which she promised faithfully to do.

The queen having heard of the happy success of this interview, felt satisfied she should obtain her ends completely. Accordingly, the day being fixed for the elopement, King Charmant prepared to carry off his beloved in a flying chariot, drawn by winged frogs, a present which had been made to him by a friend who was an enchanter. The night was excessively dark, Truitonne stole out mysteriously by a little door, and the king, who was waiting for her, received her in his arms with a hundred vows of everlasting affection. But as he was not anxious to be sailing about in his flying chariot for any long time before he married his beloved princess, he desired her to say where she would prefer their nuptials to be solemnized. She answered that she had a godmother, named Soussio, who was a very celebrated Fairy, and she was of opinion they should go at once to her castle. Although the king was quite ignorant of the road, he had only to mention to his great frogs whither he wished to go. They were ​perfectly acquainted with the whole map of the world, and in a very short time they wafted Charmant and Truitonne to the abode of Soussio.

The castle was so brilliantly illuminated that the king would have discovered his mistake the moment he entered if the princess had not carefully enveloped herself in her veil. She inquired for her godmother, contrived to see her alone, told her how she had entrapped Charmant, and entreated her to pacify him. "Ah! my child," said the Fairy; "the task will not be an easy one: he is too fond of Florine: I feel certain he will give us a great deal of trouble." In the meanwhile the king was awaiting them in a saloon, the walls of which were of diamonds so pure and transparent that through them he could see Soussio and Truitonne in conversation together. He thought he must be dreaming. "How," said he, "have I been betrayed? Have some demons brought hither this enemy of our peace? Comes she to disturb our nuptials? My dear Florine does not appear! Her father has perhaps pursued her!" He began to be the prey of a thousand distracting conjectures. But matters looked still worse, when entering the saloon, Soussio, addressing him in an authoritative tone, said, "King Charmant, here is the Princess Truitonne, to whom you have plighted your troth; she is my god-daughter, and I desire you will marry her immediately." "I!" exclaimed he,—"I marry that little monster! You must think me a vastly tractable person to make such a proposition to me. I have made no promise to her whatever, and if she have told you otherwise, she has——" "Hold," interrupted Soussio, "and be not rash enough to fail in respect towards me!" "I agree," replied the king, "to respect you as much as a Fairy can be respected, provided you restore to me my princess." "Am not I your princess, faithless one?" said Truitonne, showing him his ring. "To whom didst thou give this ring as a pledge of thy truth? With whom didst thou converse at the little window if not with me?" "How then!" he cried, "have I been deceived and imposed upon?" "But no, no, I will not be your dupe! What ho! What ho! my frogs! my frogs! I would away instantly!" "Oho, it is not in your power without my consent," exclaimed Soussio. She touched him, and his feet were fastened to the floor as if they had been nailed to it. "You may stone me to death, ​you may flay me alive," cried the king, "but I will marry no one but Florine. I am resolved. You may therefore exercise your power upon me as you please!" Soussio tried in turn mildness, menaces, promises, prayers. Truitonne wept, shrieked, groaned, stormed, and became calm again. The king uttered not another word, looking on them both with an air of the greatest indignation; he made not the slightest answer to anything they said to him.

Twenty days and twenty nights passed without their ceasing to talk; without eating, sleeping, or sitting down. At length Soussio, quite tired and out of patience, said to the king, "Well, since you are so obstinate that you will not listen to reason, choose at once whether you will marry my god-daughter, or do penance for seven years as a punishment for breaking your word." The king, who up to this time had been perfectly silent, suddenly exclaimed, "Do what you will with me, provided I am freed from this wretch." "You are a wretch yourself," said Truitonne, in a passion. "A petty king like you, with your marsh-bred posters, to come into my country to break your word to me and insult me! Had you a groat's worth of honour in you, could you behave in this manner?" "What affecting reproaches!" said the king, in an ironical tone; "Behold what a mistake it is not to take so lovely a person for one's wife!" "No, no, she shall not be your wife," screamed Soussio, passionately; "you may fly out of that window if you like, for you shall be a Blue Bird for the next seven years!" At the same moment the king's person undergoes a total change; his arms are covered with feathers and form wings; his legs and feet become black and diminutive, and furnished with crooked talons; his body shrinks,—it is all garnished with long fine thin feathers of celestial blue; his eyes become rounder, and bright as two stars; his nose is but an ivory beak; a white crest rises on his head in the form of a crown; he sings and talks to perfection. In this state, uttering a cry of anguish at beholding himself so metamorphosed, he flies from the fatal palace of Soussio as fast as his wings can carry him.

Overwhelmed with grief, he roams from branch to branch, selecting only the trees consecrated to love or sorrow. Now upon myrtles, now upon cypresses, he sings the most plaintive airs, in which he deplores his sad fate and that of Florine. ​"Where have her enemies hidden her?" said he. "What has become of that beautiful victim? Has the queen's barbarity permitted her still to breathe? Where shall I seek her? Am I condemned to pass seven years without her? Perhaps during that period they will compel her to marry, and I shall lose for ever the hope on which alone I live." These various reflections afflicted the Blue Bird to such a degree that he would have welcomed death.

On the other hand, the Fairy Soussio sent Truitonne back to the queen, who was anxiously waiting to know how the nuptials had gone off. When she saw her daughter, and heard from her lips all that had happened, she put herself in a terrible passion, which recoiled upon the poor Florine. "She shall repent more than once," said the queen, "her fascination of Charmant!" She ascended the tower, with Truitonne, whom she had dressed in her richest clothes, with a crown of diamonds on her head, a royal mantle, the train of which was borne by three daughters of the richest barons in the realm, and on her thumb King Charmant's ring, which Florine had noticed the day they conversed together. Florine was greatly surprised to see Truitonne in such pompous apparel. "My daughter has come to bring you a wedding present," said the queen. "King Charmant has espoused her; he loves her to distraction; never has there been such a happy couple." Thereupon they displayed to the princess heaps of gold and silver tissues, jewels, lace, and ribbons, contained in large baskets of gold filigree work. In presenting these objects, Truitonne took care Florine should see King Charmant's brilliant ring, so that not being able to doubt her misfortune, she told them, with an air of desperation, to take from her sight such fatal gifts, that she would wear nothing but black, and, indeed, that she should soon be dead. So saying, she fainted, and the cruel queen, delighted to have succeeded so well, would not permit any one to assist her; but left her alone in the most wretched state imaginable, and went and maliciously reported to the king that his daughter was so madly in love, that nothing could equal the extravagancies she committed, and that great care should be taken to prevent her quitting the tower. The king told her to manage the matter exactly as she pleased, and that he should be perfectly satisfied.

​When the princess recovered from her swoon, and began to reflect on the conduct they had pursued towards her, on the ill-treatment of her wicked stepmother, and the utter extinction of her hope one day to become the wife of King Charmant, her anguish became so keen that she wept the whole night long. In this wretched condition she sat at an open window uttering the most tender and touching lamentations. When day began to break she shut the window, but continued to weep. The following night she again opened the window, sobbing and sighing profoundly, and shedding a torrent of tears. Morning dawned, and she hid herself in the recesses of her chamber. In the meanwhile King Charmant, or, to speak more correctly, the beautiful Blue Bird, never ceased flying round the palace. He believed his dear princess was confined in it, and if her lamentations were distressing, his were no less so. He approached the windows as near as he could in order to look into the apartments; but the dread of being perceived and recognised by Truitonne prevented his doing exactly as he wished. "It would cost me my life," said he to himself. "Should these wicked princesses discover where I am they would be revenged upon me; I must keep aloof, or be exposed to the utmost peril." For these reasons he took the greatest precautions, and rarely sang except during the night. There happened to be an excessively lofty cypress immediately in front of the window at which Florine usually sat. The Blue Bird perched upon it, and had scarcely done so when he heard some one complaining. "How much longer shall I suffer?" said the mourner; "will not death kindly come to my aid? Those who fear him see him too soon—I long for his coming, and he cruelly flies me.—Oh, barbarous queen! what have I done to thee that thou shouldst detain me in this horrible captivity? Hast thou not ways enough to torment me? Thou hast only to make me witness of the happiness thy unworthy daughter enjoys in the society of King Charmant!" The Blue Bird had not lost one syllable of this complaint. He was so surprised that he awaited daylight with the greatest impatience in order to behold the afflicted lady, but before the morning dawned she had closed her window and retired. The Bird, whose curiosity was awakened, failed not to return the following night. It was moonlight, and he saw a girl at a window of the tower, ​who commenced her lamentations. "O Fortune!" she exclaimed; "thou who flatteredst me with the prospect of reigning; thou who hadst restored to me a father's love; what have I done to deserve being plunged thus suddenly into the bitterest grief? Is it at so early an age as mine that mortals begin to experience thy inconstancy? Return, thou cruel one; return, if possible! The only favour I implore of thee is to end my unhappy fate!" The Blue Bird listened attentively, and the more he did so, the more convinced he became that it was his amiable princess who was thus bewailing. "Adorable Florine," he cried, "wonder of our days, why do you desire so speedily to terminate your own? Your misfortunes are not without remedy!" "Ah! who speaks to me," cried she, "in such consoling language?" "An unfortunate king," replied the Bird, "who loves you, and will never love any other than you." "A king who loves me!" rejoined Florine; "is this a snare set for me by my enemy? But after all, what would she gain by it? If she seeks to discover my sentiments, I am ready to own them to her frankly!" "No, my Princess," replied the Bird; "the lover who addresses you is incapable of betraying you,"—and as he uttered these words he flew to the window. Florine was at first much alarmed at the appearance of so extraordinary a bird, who spoke with as much sense as if he had been a man, and yet in the small sweet voice of a nightingale. The beauty of his plumage, however, and the words he uttered, soon reassured her. "Am I then permitted once more to behold you, my Princess!" he exclaimed. "Can I taste of such perfect happiness and not die with joy! But, alas! how much is that happiness troubled by your captivity, and the condition to which the wicked Soussio has reduced me for seven years!" "And who are you, charming Bird," inquired the Princess, caressing him. "You have pronounced my name," said the king, "and you pretend you do not know me?" "How! the greatest monarch in the world, King Charmant!" cried the Princess; "can the little bird I hold in my hand be he?" "Alas, beautiful Florine, it is but too true!" replied the Bird; "and if anything can console me, it is the feeling that I preferred this pain to that of renouncing my love for you." "For me!" said Florine; "ah, do not attempt to deceive me. I know, I know that you have ​married Truitonne. I recognised your ring upon her hand. I saw her blazing with the diamonds you had given to her. She came to insult me in my sad prison, wearing the rich crown and royal mantle she had received from your hands, while I was laden with chains and fetters." "You have seen Truitonne so arrayed?" interrupted the king. "She and her mother have dared to tell you those jewels came from me?—O Heaven! is it possible that I hear such awful falsehoods, and that I cannot instantly avenge myself on the utterers! Know, that they tried to deceive me, that by a base use of your name they succeeded in causing me to carry off the ugly Truitonne; but the instant I discovered my error I endeavoured to fly from her, and eventually preferred being a Blue Bird for seven long years to failing in the troth I had plighted to you."

Florine felt such lively pleasure in listening to the explanation of her amiable lover, that she no longer remembered the misery of her prison. What did she not say to him to console him under his sad circumstances, and to assure him that she would do no less for him than he had done for her! Day dawned, and the majority of the officers of the royal household had risen before the Blue Bird and the princess had ceased conversing. It cost them a thousand pangs to part, after agreeing that they would meet every night in the same manner.

Their delight at having found each other was so great that there are no terms in which it can be expressed. Each, on their own part, offered up their thanks to Love and Fortune; but Florine's happiness was alloyed by her anxiety respecting the Blue Bird. "Who will preserve him from the sportsmen," she asked, "or from the sharp talons of some eagle or hungry vulture, who will eat him with as much relish as if he was not a great king? O Heaven! what would become of me if some of his light and delicate feathers, borne on the breeze to my window, announced to me the dreaded disaster?" This idea prevented the poor princess closing her eyes, for when one loves, fancies appear like facts, and what one would at another time think impossible, seems certain to happen; so she passed the day in tears till the hour arrived for her to return to the window.

The charming Bird, hidden in a hollow tree, had been all ​day occupied by the thought of his beautiful princess. "How happy I am," said he, "to have found her!—How fascinating she is!—How deeply I appreciate the favour she shows me!" The tender lover counted up every moment of the time he was condemned to pass in the shape which prevented his marrying her, and never was the termination of a period desired more ardently. As he was anxious to pay Florine every attention in his power, he flew to the capital city of his own kingdom, alighted on his palace, entered his cabinet through a broken pane of glass in one of the windows, pounced on a pair of diamond ear-rings, so perfect and beautiful that none in the world could be compared to them, took them that evening to Florine, and begged her to wear them. "I would do so," she said, "if you visited me by daylight; but as I only see you at night, you must excuse me." The Bird promised he would contrive to come to the tower whenever she wished; upon which she put the ear-rings in her ears, and the night passed in tender conversation as the preceding had done.

The next day the Blue Bird returned to his kingdom, went to his palace, entered his cabinet by the broken window, and brought away the richest bracelets that had ever been seen. Each was made of a single emerald cut facet-wise, and hollowed in the middle so as to enable the wearer to pass her hands and arms through them. "Do you imagine," said the Princess to him, "that my affection for you can be measured by presents? Ah, how you misjudge me!" "No, Madam," replied he; "I do not believe that the trifles I offer you are necessary for the preservation of your love: but mine will not permit me to neglect the least opportunity of evincing my respect for you, and when I am absent these little trinkets will recal me to your mind." Florine said a thousand kind things to him on the subject, to which he replied by as many no less tender.

The following night the fond Bird brought to his fair one a moderate sized watch, which was encased in a single pearl, the workmanship of which surpassed even the material. "It is useless to present me with a watch," said the princess, sweetly. "When you are absent the hours seem endless to me, and when you are with me they pass like a dream, so that I cannot exactly measure them." "Alas, my Princess," exclaimed ​the Blue Bird, "I am exactly of your mind, and am certain that I feel the pain of absence and the pleasure of return even more deeply than you do!" "After what you have suffered to keep faith with me," replied the princess, "I am bound to believe that your affection and respect cannot be carried further."

As soon as morning appeared, the Bird flew back to his hollow tree, where he lived upon wild fruits. Sometimes he sang the finest airs, to the great delight of all who passed that way. They could see no one, so they fancied it must be the voice of a spirit. This opinion became so prevalent, that at last nobody dared enter the wood. A thousand fabulous adventures were related of those who had done so, and the general alarm ensured the safety of the Blue Bird. Not a day passed without his making Florine some present, either a pearl necklace, or the most brilliant and curiously wrought rings, diamond loops, bodkins, and bouquets of jewels in imitation of natural flowers, entertaining books, interesting medals, till at last she possessed a heap of marvellous valuables. She wore her jewels only by night to please the king, and in the day-time, having no other place to put them in, she hid them carefully in the straw of her mattress.

Two years thus passed away without Florine once complaining of her captivity. How could she? She had the gratification of conversing all night with him she loved. Never were there made so many pretty speeches. Though the Bird never saw any one, and passed the whole day in a hollow tree, they had a thousand new things to tell one another. The matter was inexhaustible. Their love and their wit furnished them with abundant subjects of conversation.

In the meanwhile the malicious queen, who detained her so cruelly in prison, vainly endeavoured to marry off Truitonne. She sent ambassadors with proposals to all the princes she knew the names of: but they were bowed out almost as soon as they arrived. "If your mission was respecting the Princess Florine, you would be received with joy," was the answer; "but as for Truitonne, she may remain a vestal without any one objecting."

These tidings infuriated both mother and daughter against the innocent princess whom they persecuted. "How!—does this arrogant creature continue to thwart us notwithstanding ​her captivity?" cried they. "Never can we forgive the injuries she has done us! She must have private correspondence with foreign governments; she is therefore guilty, at the least, of high treason. Let us act on this suspicion, and use every possible means to convict her."

They sat so late in council together on this point, that it was past midnight when they determined to ascend the tower to interrogate Florine. She was at the window with the Blue Bird, arrayed in all her jewels, and her beautiful hair dressed with a nicety not usual in afflicted persons. Her apartment and her bed were strewed with flowers, and some Spanish pastilles she had been burning diffused an exquisite perfume. The queen listened at the door. She fancied she heard an air sung by two persons, (Florine had an almost heavenly voice,) and the following words appeared to be given with great expression:—

"Oh, how wretched is our lot,
And what pangs endure we not,
Loving thus—thus forced to sever!
But, though deep indeed our woes,
In despite of cruel foes,
Our fond hearts are join'd for ever."

A few deep sighs were heard at the termination of this little concert.

"Ah, my Truitonne! we are betrayed," exclaimed the queen, suddenly opening the door and rushing into the room. Fancy the alarm of Florine at this sight! She promptly pushed open the casement, in order to give the Royal Bird an opportunity to fly off unperceived. She was much more anxious about his preservation than her own; but he felt he had not the power to fly. His piercing eyes had discovered the peril to which the princess was exposed. He had caught sight of the queen and Truitonne. How great his misery to know he was not in a state to defend her! They approached her like furies bent on devouring her. "Your intrigues against the state are detected," cried the queen. "Do not imagine your rank can save you from the punishment you deserve." "Intrigues with whom, Madam?" inquired the princess. "Have you not been my jailor these two years? Have I seen any other persons than those you have sent to me?" Whilst she spoke, the queen and her daughter ​examined her with unparalleled surprise. Her admirable beauty, and the extraordinary splendour of her attire, completely dazzled them. "And whence have you obtained, Madam," said the queen, "these jewels that outshine the sun? Would you have us believe there are mines in this tower?" "I have found them," answered Florine; "that is all I know about it." The queen fixed her eyes upon Florine, with a penetrating look, endeavouring to see what was passing in the very core of her heart. "We are not your dupes," she cried; "you think you can deceive us: but, Princess, we are aware of what you do from morning till night. These jewels have been given to you with the sole object of inducing you to sell your father's kingdom." "I am in a good position to deliver it up," replied Florine, with a disdainful smile; "an unfortunate princess, who has so long languished in captivity, can be of great service, certainly, in a conspiracy of such a nature." "And for whom, then," added the queen, "are your tresses so coquettishly dressed? Your apartment is redolent of perfumes, and your attire so magnificent, that you could not be grander were you going to Court." "I have plenty of time on my hand," said the princess; "it is not extraordinary I should strive to while away a few moments of it in the cares of my toilet. I pass so many in weeping over my misfortunes, that the innocent occupation of the others cannot surely be a subject of reproach." "Aye, aye, indeed! let us see," said the queen, "if this innocent person is not in treaty with our enemies." She began to hunt everywhere, and coming to the mattress she emptied it, and found such an immense quantity of diamonds, pearls, rubies, emeralds, and topazes, that she could not imagine where they all came from. She had intended to hide in some place documents, the discovery of which would inculpate the princess. So when she thought nobody saw her, she was about to thrust them into the chimney, but by good luck the Blue Bird was perched upon it, who had eyes as sharp as a lynx, and who heard everything. "Beware, Florine!" he cried; "thy enemy is committing some treason against thee." This voice, so unexpected, frightened the queen so much, that she dared not secrete the papers. "Madam," said the princess, "you see that the spirits of the air are my friends." "I believe," exclaimed the queen, in a paroxysm of rage, "that you are ​leagued with demons; but, in spite of them, your father will do himself justice." "Would to heaven," cried Florine, "I had only to fear the fury of my father! but yours, Madam, is much more terrible."

The queen left her, greatly disturbed by all she had seen and heard. She consulted with her friends, as to what should be done to the princess. They observed, that, if she were protected by some fairy or enchanter, any further persecution of her would only irritate her powerful friend, and that it would be better, first, to endeavour to discover the mystery. The queen approved of this idea. She sent a young girl, who affected extreme simplicity, to sleep in Florine's apartment, under the pretence that she was placed there to wait upon her. But it was not likely Florine would fall into so evident a trap. The princess looked on her, of course, as a spy, and it was impossible for her to feel more poignant affliction. "What, then! shall I never be able to converse again with the Bird that is so dear to me!" said she. "He assisted me to support my misfortunes. I consoled him under his. Our affection was everything to us! What will become of him? What will become of me." Thinking of all these things, she shed rivers of tears. She no longer dared go to the little window, though she heard the Bird fluttering around it. She was dying to open it; but she feared exposing the life of her dear lover. She passed a whole month, without appearing at the casement. The Blue Bird was in despair. What complaints did he not utter! How could he live without seeing his princess! He had never so keenly felt the pangs of absence and the misery of his metamorphosis. Vainly did he endeavour to seek out a remedy for either. After racking his brains, he could find no consolation anywhere, or in anything.

The spy, who had watched day and night for a whole month, felt quite overpowered with drowsiness, and at last sunk into a sound slumber. Florine observed it. She opened her little window and said—

"Bird as blue as cloudless sky,
Hither, hither quickly fly!"

We give her own words, without the slightest alteration. The Bird heard them so distinctly that he was at the window in an instant. What delight once more to behold each other! ​What a quantity of things they had to say to each other! They renewed their vows of love and fidelity a thousand and a thousand times. The princess being unable to restrain her tears, her lover was much affected, and did his best to console her. At last the hour of parting arrived, without the spy awaking, and they bade each other farewell in the most touching manner.

The next day the spy again fell asleep. The princess lost no time in placing herself at the window, and calling as before—

"Bird as blue as cloudless sky,
Hither, hither quickly fly!"

The Bird immediately arrived, and the night passed, like the preceding one, without noise or discovery, at which the lovers were delighted. They flattered themselves that the spy found so much pleasure in sleeping, that she would do so every night, and, in fact, the third passed as fortunately: but on the one following, the sleeper, being disturbed by some noise, listened, without appearing to be awake, and peeping as well as she could, saw, by the light of the moon, the most beautiful bird in the world, who talked to the princess, caressed her with his claw, and pecked her gently with his bill. She overheard part of their conversation, and was exceedingly surprised; for the Bird spoke like a lover, and the beautiful Florine answered him most tenderly. Day broke. They bade each other adieu; and, as if they had a presentiment of their coming misfortune, they parted with extreme sorrow. The princess threw herself on her bed, bathed in tears, and the king returned to his hollow tree. The spy ran to the queen, and told her all she had seen and heard. The queen sent for Truitonne and her confidants. They talked the matter over for a long time, and arrived at the conclusion that the Blue Bird was King Charmant. "What an affront!" cried the queen. "What an affront, my Truitonne! This insolent princess, whom I fancied was so wretched, was quietly enjoying the most agreeable conversation with that ungrateful prince! Oh, I will have such a terrible revenge, that it shall be the talk of the whole world!" Truitonne begged her not to lose a moment, and as she considered herself more interested in the matter than the queen, she was ​ready to die with joy at the thought of all that would be done to destroy the happiness of the lover and his mistress.

The queen sent the spy back to the tower, ordering her not to evince any suspicion or curiosity, but to appear more sleepy than ever. She went to bed early, and snored as loudly as she could. The poor deceived princess, opening the little window, called—

"Bird as blue as cloudless sky,
Hither, hither quickly fly!"

but in vain she called him the whole night long. He came not; for the wicked queen had caused swords, knives, razors, and daggers to be attached to the cypress-tree, so that when he flew rapidly into it, these murderous weapons cut off his feet; and he fell upon others which lacerated his wings, and wounded him so, that with great difficulty he reached his own tree, leaving behind him a long track of blood. Why were you not there, lovely Princess, to comfort that Royal Bird? And yet it would have been the death of her to have seen him in so deplorable a condition. He took no care to save his life, persuaded that it was Florine who had been guilty of this cruel treachery. "O barbarous Princess!" he exclaimed, mournfully, "is it thus thou repayest the most pure and tender passion that ever was or will be? If thou wouldst that I should die, wherefore didst thou not thyself perform the deed? Death had been sweet from thy hand. I sought thee with so much love and confidence—I suffered for thee, and suffered without complaining; and thou hast sacrificed me to the most cruel of women, our common enemy! Thou hast made thy peace with her at the price of my life! It is thou, Florine,—thou, who hast stabbed me! Thou hast borrowed the hand of Truitonne, and guided it to my bosom!" This fatal idea overwhelmed him, and he resolved to die.

But his friend the Enchanter, who had seen the flying frogs return with the car, but without the king, was so troubled to think what had become of him, that he went eight times round the world in search of him. He was on a ninth journey for the same purpose, when, in passing through the wood in which the poor king was lying, he, according to his usual custom, blew a long blast on his horn, and then cried five times, in a loud voice, "King Charmant!—King Charmant! where art thou?" The king recognised the voice ​of his best friend. "Approach," he cried, "this tree, and behold the wretched king you love, bathed in his blood!" The Enchanter, much surprised, looked about him everywhere, without seeing any one. "I am a Blue Bird," exclaimed the king, in a feeble and plaintive voice. At these words the Enchanter found him, without more trouble, in his little nest. Another person might have been more astonished, but he was versed in every portion of the necromantic art. It cost him but a few words to stanch the blood which was fast flowing; and with some herbs he found in the wood, and over which he muttered a short spell, he cured the king as perfectly as if he had never been wounded.

He then begged he would inform him through what adventure he had become a bird, and who had wounded him so cruelly. The king satisfied his curiosity, and told him that it must have been Florine who had revealed the amorous mystery of the secret visits he paid her, and who, to make her peace with the queen, had consented to have the cypress-tree filled with the daggers and razors which had hacked him almost to pieces. He exclaimed a thousand times against the treachery of the princess, and said he should have been happy if he had died before he had known the wickedness of her heart. The Magician inveighed against her, and against all the sex: he advised the king to forget her. "What a misfortune it would be," said he, "if you could continue to love the ungrateful girl! After what she has been guilty of towards you, one has everything to fear from her." The Blue Bird could not remain long of that opinion; he still loved Florine too dearly: and the Enchanter, who knew his real sentiments, notwithstanding the pains he took to conceal them, said to him gaily,—

"Crush'd by Fortune's cruel blow,
Vainly Reason's voice is heard;
We but listen to our woe,
Deaf to sage or soothing word.
Leave old Time his work to do;
All things have their sunny side;
But till he turns it to our view,
Nought but darkness is descried."

The Royal Bird admitted the truth of the remark, and begged his friend to take him home and to put him in a cage, where he would be safe from a cat's paw, or any murderous ​weapon. "But," said the Enchanter, "will you still remain five years in a condition so deplorable, and so little suited to your duties and your dignity? For, remember, you have enemies who assert that you are dead. They would seize your kingdom. I much fear you will lose it before you regain your proper form." "Can I not," asked the king, "enter my palace, and govern as I used to do?" "Oh," exclaimed his friend, "the case is altered! Those who would obey a man, will not bow to a parrot: those who feared you while a king, surrounded by grandeur and pomp, would be the first to pluck out all your feathers, now you are a little bird." "Alas, for human weakness!" cried the king. "Although a brilliant exterior is as nothing compared to merit and virtue, it still possesses a power over the minds of men which it is difficult to combat. Well," continued he, "let us be philosophers, and despise that which we cannot obtain: our lot will be none the worse for it." "I do not give up a point so easily," said the Magician; "I still hope "to hit upon some means for your restoration."

Florine,—the wretched Florine,—in despair at no longer seeing the king, passed her days and nights at the window, repeating unceasingly,—

"Bird as blue as cloudless sky,
Hither, hither quickly fly!"

The presence of her watchful attendant did not prevent her; her despair was so great that she was careless of consequences. "What has become of you, King Charmant?" she cried. "Have our mutual enemies caused you to feel the cruel effects of their rage? Have you fallen a sacrifice to their fury? Alas, alas! are you no more? Shall I never again behold you? or, weary of my woes, have you abandoned me to my hard fate?" What tears, what sobs followed these tender complaints! How did the absence of so dear and so amiable a lover lengthen the dreary hours of her captivity! The princess, oppressed, ill, thin, and sadly altered, could scarcely sustain herself; she felt convinced that everything most fatal had occurred to the king.

The queen and Truitonne triumphed. Their revenge gave them more pleasure than the offence had caused them annoyance. And what was this offence, after all? King Charmant ​had refused to marry a little monster he had a thousand reasons to hate. In the meantime Florine's father, who had reached a considerable age, fell ill and died. The fortunes of the wicked queen and her daughter assumed a new aspect. They were looked upon as favourites, who had abused their influence. The people rose, and ran in a body to the palace, demanding the Princess Florine, whom alone they would recognise as their sovereign. The enraged queen endeavoured to carry matters with a high hand; she appeared in a balcony, and threatened the insurgents. The revolt became general; they broke into her apartments, pillaged them, and stoned her to death! Truitonne fled for protection to her godmother, the Fairy Soussio, or she would have shared the fate of her mother. The grandees of the kingdom met immediately, and ascended the tower, where the princess was lying very ill. She knew neither of the death of her father, nor of the punishment of her enemy. When she heard the noise of persons approaching, she had no doubt but that they were coming to lead her to death. She was not in the least alarmed, for life had become hateful to her since she had lost the Blue Bird. Her subjects, flinging themselves at her feet, informed her of the happy change in her fortunes. She was quite indifferent to it. They carried her to the palace and crowned her. The great care that was taken of her health, and her own desire to seek out the Blue Bird, combined to restore her, and she was soon enabled to nominate a council to govern the kingdom during her absence. She then provided herself with jewels to the value of a thousand millions of francs, and set out on her journey one night quite alone, without any one's knowing whither she was gone. The Enchanter, who managed the affairs of King Charmant, not having sufficient power to undo what Soussio had done, decided upon seeking her and proposing some arrangement, under favour of which she would restore the king to his natural form. He ordered out his frogs and flew to the Fairy, who was at that moment in conversation with Truitonne. Enchanters and fairies are on an equal footing. These two had known each other for five or six hundred years, and during that time had quarrelled and made it up again a thousand times at least. She received him very politely. "What would my Gossip?" said she, (it is thus they all address one another.) "Is there anything in ​my power that I can do for him?" "Yes, Gossip," answered the Magician, "you can do everything I desire: it concerns one of my best friends, a king whom you have made very unhappy." "Aha! I understand you, Gossip!" cried Soussio. "I'm very sorry, but he has no mercy to hope for, unless he consent to marry my god-daughter. There she is in all her beauty, as you may see. Let him consider of it."

The Enchanter was almost struck dumb at the sight of her, so hideous did she appear to him; nevertheless, he could not resolve to leave, without coming to something like an agreement with Soussio, for the king had run a thousand risks since he had lived in a cage. The nail on which the cage had been suspended had broken, and the cage, of course, had fallen to the ground with a severe shock to his feathered majesty. Minet, the cat, who happened to be in the room when this accident happened, gave the poor king a scratch on the eye, which nearly deprived him of the sight of it. On another occasion, they had neglected to give him any fresh water, and he barely escaped having the pip. A little rogue of a monkey, who had got loose, caught hold of some of his feathers through the bars of the cage, and spared him as little as he would have done a jay or a blackbird. But the worst of all was, that he was on the point of losing his kingdom. His heirs were daily trumping up some stories to prove he was dead. So, finally, the Enchanter came to an understanding with his gossip Soussio, that she should bring Truitonne to King Charmant's palace, where she should reside for some months, which time the king should be allowed to make up his mind to marry her, and that during that period Soussio would permit him to resume his original form, with the proviso that he should become a Bird again if he ultimately refused to espouse her god-daughter.

The Fairy presented Truitonne with some magnificent dresses, all of gold and silver, then seated her on a pillion behind herself on a dragon, and proceeded directly to the kingdom of Charmant, whom they found there with his faithful friend the Enchanter. Three taps of Soussio's wand, and King Charmant was again the handsome, amiable, intelligent, and munificent sovereign he had been before his transformation; but dearly bought was the reprieve accorded to him. The more thought of marrying Truitonne made him shudder. ​The Enchanter reasoned with him as well as he was able, but made little impression on his mind. The king was less occupied with the government of his dominions, than with devising means to prolong the period Soussio had allowed should elapse previous to his marriage with Truitonne.

In the meanwhile Queen Florine, disguised as a peasant, with her hair all dishevelled and hanging about her ears to conceal her features, a straw hat on her head, and a sack upon her shoulder, proceeded on her journey, sometimes walking, sometimes riding, now by sea, now by land, making all possible haste; but not being certain of her road, fearing every turn she took might be in the wrong direction, and lead her from her amiable monarch instead of towards him. One day that she had stopped to rest herself beside a fountain, whose silvery waters flowed leaping over the little pebbles, she thought she would take that opportunity of washing her feet. She accordingly sat down upon the grassy bank, tied up her fair locks with a ribbon, and put her feet into the little stream. She looked like Diana bathing on her return from the chase. A little old woman who, bent almost double and leaning on a stout stick, was passing that way, stopped, and said to her, "What are you doing there, my pretty girl, all alone by yourself?" "My good mother," answered the queen, "I have plenty of company, for I am beset by sorrows, anxieties, and misfortunes!" and at these words her eyes filled with tears. "How! so young and weeping," said the good woman. "Ah, my child, do not give way to sorrow; tell me truly what is the matter, and I hope I may be able to comfort you." The queen willingly told her all her misfortunes, the conduct of the Fairy Soussio, and how she was at present in quest of the Blue Bird.

The little old woman drew herself up as straight as possible, changed suddenly her whole appearance, became lovely, young, and superbly attired, and smiling graciously on the queen, said, "Incomparable Florine, the king you seek is no longer a bird; my sister Soussio has restored him to his former shape. He is in his own kingdom. Do not afflict yourself; you will reach it, and succeed in your design. Here are four eggs; break one of them whenever you are most in need of assistance, and you will find in it what will be useful." As she ended these words she disappeared. Florine felt much consoled ​by what she had heard; she put the eggs in her sack, and resumed her journey towards the kingdom of Charmant.

After walking eight days and nights without stopping, she arrived at the foot of a mountain, prodigiously high, all of ivory, and so steep that one could not keep one's footing upon it. She made a thousand vain attempts, stepping down every time, till tired out, and in despair at meeting with so insurmountable an obstacle, she laid herself down at the bottom of the mountain, determined to die there, when she recollected the eggs the Fairy had given her.

She took one out of her sack. "Let us see," she said, "if the giver was not making game of me when she promised that I should find help in them in my need!" She broke it, and found inside some little golden cramps, which she fastened on her hands and feet. By the aid of them she climbed up the ivory mountain without the least trouble, for the points of the cramps entered the ivory, and prevented her slipping. When she had reached the top, she found herself in equal difficulty respecting the descent. All the valley was one sheet of looking-glass, around which upwards of sixty thousand women were standing and admiring themselves in it extremely, for this looking-glass was full two leagues in breadth, and six in height. Every one appeared in it exactly as they wished to be. The carroty-haired seemed to have locks of gold; a bad coarse brown appeared a glossy raven black. The old looked young—the young never looked older; in fine, no fault could be seen in this wonderful mirror, and, consequently, it was resorted to by the fair sex from all parts of the world. It was enough to make you die of laughing to see the airs and graces the majority of these coquettes gave themselves. Nor were the men less eager to consult this magical mirror, which was equally pleasing to them. To some it seemed to give fine curly hair, to others taller stature or better shape, a more martial mien or a nobler deportment; the ladies they laughed at laughed at them no less in return; so that the mountain was called by a thousand different names. No one had ever been able to get to the top of it, and therefore when Florine appeared on the summit, the ladies uttered shrieks of despair! "Where is that mad creature going?" they cried. "No doubt she knows how to walk upon glass, or the first step she takes she will break our ​mirror to pieces!"—upon which arose a terrible hubbub. The queen knew not what to do, for she saw the imminent danger of descending by that road. She broke another egg, out of which issued two pigeons attached to a car, which at the same time became sufficiently large for her to seat herself in it comfortably. The pigeons then gently descended with the queen, and alighted at the bottom without the least accident. "My little friends," said she to them, "if you will convey me to the spot where King Charmant holds his court, you will not oblige an ungrateful person." The civil and obedient pigeons rested neither day nor night till they arrived at the gates of the city. Florine alighted, and gave each of them a sweet kiss, worth more than a royal diadem.

Oh, how her heart beat as she entered the city! She stained her face that she might not be recognised. She inquired of some passengers where she could see the king. Some of them began to laugh at her. "See the king!" said they; "ho! what dost thou want with him, my young slut? Go, go, and clean yourself! your eyes are not worthy the sight of such a monarch." The queen made no reply, but passed on quietly, and asked the next persons she met the same question,—where should she place herself in order to see the king. "He is to go to the temple to-morrow with the Princess Truitonne, for he has at last consented to espouse her," was the answer.

Heavens! what tidings! Truitonne, the worthless Truitonne, on the eve of marriage with the king! Florine felt dying! she had no longer power to speak or move. She sank down on a heap of stones under a gateway, her face covered by her dishevelled hair and her large straw hat. "Unfortunate creature that I am!" cried she; "I have come hither but to swell the triumph of my rival, and witness her delight! It was for her, then, the Blue Bird deserted me! It was for this little monster that he was guilty of the most cruel inconstancy! While, plunged in grief, I trembled for his life, the traitor had already changed, and thinking no more of me than if he had never seen me, left me to lament his absence without a sigh!" When people are very miserable, they rarely have much appetite, so the poor queen sought out a lodging for the night, and went to bed without any supper. She rose with the sun, and hastened to the temple. After ​repeated rebuffs from the soldiers and attendants, she succeeded in obtaining admission. There she saw the king's throne and that of Truitonne, whom the people already looked upon as queen. What affliction for so fond, so sensitive a creature as Florine! She approached the throne of her rival, and stood there leaning against a marble pillar. The king arrived first, looking more handsome and more fascinating than ever. Truitonne followed him, richly attired, and ugly enough to frighten everybody. She frowned on perceiving the queen. "Who art thou," said she, "to dare thus approach our august person and our golden throne?" "I am called Mie Souillon," replied Florine; "I come from a great distance to sell you some curiosities!" and so saying, she took out of her sack the emerald bracelets which King Charmant had given to her. "Aha!" said Truitonne; "these are pretty glass ornaments. Will you take a five-sous piece for them?" "Show them, Madam, to some connoisseur," said the queen, "and then we will make our bargain." Truitonne, who was as fond of the king as such a creature could be, and delighted to have a reason for addressing him, approached his throne, and showed him the bracelets, requesting his opinion of their value. The sight of them immediately recalled to him those he had given to Florine. He turned pale, sighed, and remained for some time without speaking; at length, fearing the observations that might be made upon the agitation his conflicting emotions had occasioned, he made an effort to compose himself, and answered, "I believe these bracelets to be worth almost as much as my kingdom. I imagined there was but one such pair in the world; but here is certainly another very like it." Truitonne returned to her throne, seated on which she looked less noble than an oyster in its shell. She asked the queen what was the least price she set upon the bracelets. "You would find it difficult to pay, Madam," she answered; "I had better propose to you another sort of bargain. If you will obtain permission for me to sleep one night in the Cabinet of Echos, which is in the king's palace, I will make you a present of my emeralds." "Willingly, Mie Souillon!" said Truitonne, laughing like an idiot, and showing teeth longer than the tusks of a wild boar.

The king made no inquiry as to whence the bracelets came, less from indifference to the person by whom they were ​presented, (indeed, her appearance was not such as to inspire much curiosity,) than from the invincible repugnance he felt to Truitonne. Now, it is fit you should know that while he was a Blue Bird, he had told the Princess Florine that beneath his apartments there was a cabinet, which was called the Cabinet of Echos, so ingeniously constructed that the slightest whispers uttered therein could be heard by the king when reposing in his bedchamber; and as Florine's intention was to reproach him for his inconstancy, she could not have imagined a better method.

She was conducted to the cabinet by order of Truitonne, and immediately began her complaints and lamentations.

"The misfortune I would fain have doubted is but too certain, cruel Blue Bird!" she cried. "Thou hast forgotten me! Thou lovest my unworthy rival. The bracelets which I received from thy disloyal hand could awake no remembrance of me, so entirely hast thou banished me from thy recollection!" Her sobs here choked her utterance, and when she was again able to speak, she resumed her lamentations, and continued them till daybreak. The king's valets-de-chambre, who had heard her moan and sigh all night long, told Truitonne, who inquired why she had made such a disturbance. The queen answered that when she slept soundly she was in the habit of dreaming, and often talked aloud in her sleep. As to the king, by a strange fatality he had not heard her. Since he had been so deeply in love with Florine, he never could sleep, so that when he went to bed they gave him a dose of opium, in order to obtain for him some repose.

The queen passed a part of the day in great anxiety. "If he heard me," thought she, "there never yet was such cruel indifference. If he did not hear me, how shall I manage to make him do so?" She possessed no more extraordinary curiosities; she had plenty of beautiful jewels; but it was necessary to find something which should particularly take the fancy of Truitonne. She therefore had recourse to her eggs. She broke one, and out of it came immediately a coach of polished steel, inlaid with gold, drawn by six green mice, driven by a rose-coloured rat, and the postilion, who was also one of the rat tribe, was of a greyish violet colour. In the coach sat four puppets, more lively and sprightly than any that were ever seen at the fairs of St. Germain or St. Laurent. ​They could do all sorts of wonderful things, particularly two little gipsies, who, for dancing a saraband or a jig, would not have yielded the palm to Leance.[3]

The queen stood enraptured at the sight of this new masterpiece of necromantic art. She remained perfectly quiet till the evening, which was the time Truitonne usually took an airing. She posted herself in one of the walks, and set the mice galloping with the coach, rats, and puppets. This novelty so astonished Truitonne, that she called out two or three times—"Mie Souillon!—Mie Souillon! will you take five sous for your coach and set of mice?" "Ask the men of letters and learned doctors of this kingdom," said Florine, "what such a wonder is worth, and I will abide by the valuation of the best judge." Truitonne, who was imperative about everything, replied, "Without offending me longer by thy filthy presence, tell me the price." "All I ask," said Florine, "is to sleep again in the Cabinet of Echoes." "Go, poor idiot," answered Truitonne, "thou shalt have thy wish;" and, turning to her ladies-in-waiting, "There's a stupid creature," said she, "to reap no greater advantage from such curiosities!"

Night came. Florine uttered all the most touching reproaches she could think of; but as vainly as before, for the king never omitted taking his opium. The valets-de-chambre said to one another, "That country wench must surely be mad! What is she muttering about all night?" "Notwithstanding," observed some, "there is both reason and feeling in what she says." She waited impatiently for morning, to ascertain what effect her words had produced. "What," she cried, "has this barbarous man become deaf to my voice? Will ​he no longer listen to his dear Florine? Oh, how weak am I to love him still! How well do I deserve the scorn with which he treats me!" But in vain did she so reason; she could not divest herself of her affection for him.

There was but one more egg left in her sack, to afford her further assistance. She broke it, and out came a pie composed of six birds, which were larded, dressed, and quite ready for eating; yet, nevertheless, sang admirably, told fortunes, and knew more about medicine than Esculapius himself. The queen was enchanted at the sight of such a wonderful affair, and carried her talking pie into Truitonne's antechamber. While waiting for her to pass, one of the king's valets-de-chambre came up to her, and said, "My friend, Mie Souillon, are you aware that if the king did not take opium to make him sleep, you would disturb him dreadfully? for you chatter all night long in the most extraordinary manner."

Florine was no longer surprised that the king had not heard her: she took a handful of jewels out of her sack, and said, "I fear so little interrupting the king's repose, that if you will prevent his taking opium to-night, presuming that I sleep in the Cabinet of Echoes, all these pearls and diamonds shall be yours." The valet-de-chambre consented, and gave her his word on the matter.

A few minutes afterwards, Truitonne arrived. She perceived the queen, with her pie, which she pretended to be eating. "What dost thou there, Mie Souillon?" said Truitonne to her. "Madam," replied Florine, "I am eating astrologers, musicians, and physicians." At the same moment all the birds began to sing more melodiously than syrens, and then to cry, "Give us a piece of silver, and we'll tell you your fortune." A duck that was particularly prominent, called out, in a voice louder than any of the others, "Quack! quack! quack! quack! I am a physician; I cure all disorders and every sort of madness, except that of love." Truitonne, more surprised at so many wonders than ever she had been in her life, vowed it was an excellent pie, and that she would have it. "Come, come, Mie Souillon, what shall I give thee for it?" "The usual price," answered Florine; "permission to sleep in the Cabinet of Echoes—nothing more." "Hold!" said Truitonne, generously (for she was in a capital humour, in consequence ​of her acquisition of such a pie), "thou shalt have a pistole into the bargain." Florine, happier than she had yet been, in the hope that the king would at length hear her, took her leave of Truitonne, with many thanks.

As soon as night came, she requested to be conducted to the Cabinet, ardently hoping that the valet-de-chambre would keep his word, and that, instead of giving the king his opium draught, he would substitute for it something that would keep his majesty awake. When she thought everybody else was asleep, she began her usual lamentations. "To how many perils have I exposed myself," she said, "in search of thee; whilst thou hast fled from me, and wouldst marry Truitonne! What have I done to thee, thou cruel one, that thou shouldst thus forget thy vows? Remember thy metamorphosis, my favours, and our tender conversations!" She repeated them nearly all, her memory sufficiently proving that nothing was dearer to her than such recollections.

The king was not asleep, and so distinctly heard the voice of Florine, and every word she uttered, that he could not imagine whence they proceeded; but his heart, penetrated with tenderness, recalled to him so vividly the person of his incomparable princess, that he felt his separation from her as keenly as he did at the moment the knives had wounded him in the cypress-tree. He began to speak aloud on his part, as the queen had done on hers. "Ah, Princess," said he, "too cruel to a lover who adored you! Is it possible that you can have sacrificed me to our mutual enemies?" Florine heard what he said, and failed not to answer him, and to inform him that, if he would grant Mie Souillon an audience, he would be enlightened respecting all the mysteries which hitherto he had been unable to penetrate. At these words, the impatient king called one of his valets-de-chambre, and asked him if he could find Mie Souillon, and bring her to him. The valet-de-chambre replied, that nothing could be more easy, as she was sleeping in the Cabinet of Echoes.

The king knew not what to think. How could he believe so great a queen as Florine was disguised as a scullion? And yet, how could he imagine that Mie Souillon had the voice of the queen, and was in possession of such particular secrets, if she were not Florine herself? In this uncertainty he arose and dressed himself in the greatest hurry, and descended by ​a back staircase to the door of the Cabinet of Echoes, out of which the queen had taken the key: but the king had a master-key which unlocked every door throughout the palace.

He found her arrayed in a light robe of white taffety, which she wore beneath her coarse disguise, her beautiful hair falling about her shoulders. She was lying on a couch, and a lamp at some distance shed on the scene but a feeble light. The king entered suddenly, and his love getting the better of his anger, the moment he recognised her he flung himself at her feet, bathed her hands with his tears, and felt ready to die with joy, grief, and the thousand different thoughts that rushed at once into his mind.

The queen was not less moved. Her heart seemed to stop beating; she could scarcely breathe. She looked earnestly at the king without saying a word, and when she found strength to speak to him, she had no power to reproach him; the joy of beholding him again made her forget, for the time, the cause of complaint she imagined she had against him. At length, they mutually explained, and justified themselves. Their affection revived stronger than ever, and all that embarrassed them was the Fairy Soussio. But at this moment the Enchanter, who was so fond of the king, arrived with a famous Fairy, no other than she who gave the four eggs to Florine. After the first compliments had passed between them, the Enchanter and the Fairy declared that their power being united in favour of the king and queen, Soussio could do nothing against them, and that consequently their marriage would take place without delay.

We may readily imagine the delight of these two young lovers. As soon as it was day the news was spread throughout the palace, and everybody was enchanted to see Florine. The tidings reached Truitonne. She ran to the king's apartments. What was her surprise to find there her beautiful rival! The moment she attempted to open her mouth to abuse her, the Enchanter and the Fairy appeared, and changed her into a sow, which being called Truye, in French, she still retained part of her name, and her natural disposition to grumble. She ran out of the room grunting, and thence into the kitchen court-yard, where the long peals of laughter with which she was received, completed her despair.

​King Charmant and Queen Florine, delivered from so odious a person, now thought only of the nuptial fête, the taste and magnificence of which were equally conspicuous.

It is easy to conceive how great was their happiness after passing through such prolonged misfortunes.

When Truitonne would have forced that monarch charming
To tie a knot which death alone could sunder,
Regardless of the consequence alarming,
She certainly committed a great blunder.
'Tis possible she did not know, a marriage
Unblest by mutual love is wretched slavery.
But Charmant's bold, uncompromising carriage,
Showed as much prudence, I conceive, as bravery.
Better to be a bird of any hue—
A raven, crow, an owl—I do protest,
Than tie yourself for life a partner to,
Who either scorns you, or whom you detest.
Too many matches of this sort I've seen,
And wish that now there were some kind magician
To step such ill-assorted souls between,
With power to enforce his prohibition,
Vigilant ever to forbid the banns
Where selfish feelings true affection slighted,
And ne'er allowing Hymen to join hands,
When hearts had not been first by Love united.

The End

1. Truite, in French.

2. A highly-ornamented and richly-lined basket, in which presents of honour are still on some occasions conveyed. The corbeille de mariage, in France, contains the jewellery and other gifts presented to a bride.

3. The fairs of St. Germain and St. Laurent were two of the principal fairs in Paris, and their theatres and puppet-shows were much frequented. To the "Théâtre de la Foire" we are indebted for the French "Opera Comique," and the creation of those charming "Folies Dramatiques," which I have attempted to imitate in my extravaganzas. The principal puppet-show was that of Brioché, who is said to have been the inventor of "Les Marionettes." He is mentioned by Boileau in his Seventh Epistle: "Non loin de la place où Brioché préside," which was in the Rue Mazarine. It is of him Leander, in the next story (Prince Sprite) buys the monkeys (vide p. 91). The name of Leance does not occur in the earliest list of dancers I have seen, or amongst those mentioned by the Marquis de Dangeau in his Diary; I am therefore in doubt whether Madame d'Aulnoy alludes to a celebrated ballet-dancer or an equally popular puppet. The saraband was a dance introduced into Spain by the Moors. The jig, from the Teutonic gieg, a fiddle, though of English invention, was adopted in most European nations.

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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