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The Golden Branch - a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy

 Read "The Golden Branch" fairy tale for all children. "The Golden Bough" story, is a bedtime Story for kids written by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy about  king who was not at all good at heart and punished his subjects for the slightest suspicion. He was always frowning and for this he was called King Brun. King Brun had a boy who was deformed but had a good soul and was very intelligent. His father did not love him very much, because he thought of his greatness. The king knew that his neighbor in the kingdom had a daughter as deformed as his son, and he wanted the prince and princess to marry and thus increase their power. But when the little prince saw the portrait of the princess he was to marry, he said he would not form an alliance with this monster.

"The Golden Branch"
a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy
The fairy tale was also translated as The Golden Bough

Once upon a time there was a king whose austere and melancholy disposition inspired terror rather than love. He rarely suffered himself to be seen, and put his subjects to death on the slightest suspicion. They called him King Brun,[1] because he was always frowning. King Brun had a son who was not in the least like him. Nothing could equal his intelligence, his sweet temper, his liberality, and his general capacity; but he had crooked legs, a hunch on his back which was higher than his head, squinting eyes, a wry mouth, in short, he was a little monster, and never had so beautiful a soul animated so deformed a body. Nevertheless, by a singular fate, he was doted upon by everybody whom he wished to please. He was so superior in mind to all around him, that it was impossible to listen to him with indifference. The queen, his mother, chose that he should be called Torticoli, either because she liked that name, or that the prince being actually all of a twist, she considered that she had hit upon the one most appropriate for him. King Brun, who thought more of the greatness than the happiness of his son, cast his eyes upon the daughter of a powerful sovereign, his near neighbour, and whose dominions joined to ​his own would make him the most redoubtable monarch on the face of the globe. He conceived that this princess was a very suitable wife for the Prince Torticoli, as she could not have any right to reproach him with his deformity and ugliness, being at the least as ugly and deformed as himself. She always went about in a bowl, her legs being out of joint; and was called Trognon. She was the most amiable creature in the world. It appeared as if Heaven had been anxious to compensate her for the injuries of Nature.

King Brun having obtained the portrait of the Princess Trognon, which he had applied for, had it placed in a great hall, under a canopy, and sent for the Prince Torticoli, whom he commanded to look with affection upon that picture, as it was the likeness of Trognon, his intended bride. Torticoli cast his eyes upon it, and turned them away immediately with an air of disdain, which offended his father. "Are you not pleased?" said he, in a sharp and angry tone. "No, my liege," replied the Prince, "I shall never be pleased to marry a cripple." "It well becomes you," said the King, "to find faults in this princess, being yourself a little monster who frightens everybody that looks at you." "It is for that reason," added the Prince, "that I object to form an alliance with another monster. I can hardly bear the sight of myself: what would be my sufferings with such a companion?" "You fear to perpetuate the race of baboons," said the King insultingly; "but your fears are bootless: you shall marry her. It is enough for me to command to be obeyed." Torticoli made no reply. He bowed profoundly and withdrew.

King Brun was not accustomed to encounter the least opposition. His son's refusal put him into an awful passion. He locked him up in a tower which had been built expressly as a prison for rebellious princes; but there had been none such for two hundred years, consequently everything was sadly out of order in it—the apartments and the furniture appeared of surprising antiquity. The Prince loved reading; he asked for books, and he was permitted to make choice of any in the tower library. He thought, at first, that permission would be sufficient, but when he attempted to read some he found the language so obsolete that he could not understand a word of it. He laid them down, then took them ​up again, endeavouring to make out something of their contents, or at all events to amuse himself by their examination.

King Brun, satisfied that Torticoli would soon get tired of his imprisonment, acted as if the prince had consented to marry Trognon. He sent ambassadors to the king, his neighbour, to demand the hand of his daughter, to whom he promised perfect happiness. The father of Trognon was enraptured to find so advantageous an opportunity of getting her married; for everybody is not anxious to burden themselves with a cripple. He accepted the proposals of King Brun, and though, to speak the truth, he had not been greatly struck by the portrait of Prince Torticoli, which had been brought to him, he had it, in its turn, placed in a magnificent gallery. Trognon was brought thither to see it. As soon as she had looked on it, she cast down her eyes, and began to weep. Her father, incensed at the repugnance she evinced, took a looking-glass, and placing it before her, said, "You weep, my daughter! Ah! look at yourself, and then admit that you have no right to complain." "If I were in any hurry to be married, my liege," said she, "it would, perhaps, be wrong in me to be so fastidious; but I can bear my shame whilst I am alone. I desire no one to share with me the misery of beholding me. Let me remain the unfortunate Princess Trognon all my life, and I shall be contented—at least I will not complain." However excellent her reasons, the king would not listen to them. She was compelled to depart with the ambassadors who had been sent to propose for her. Whilst she is travelling in a litter, in which she was stuck like a stump, we must return to the tower, and see what the Prince is about. None of his guards dared to speak to him. They had been ordered to let him grow melancholy, to give him bad food, and vex him with all kinds of ill-usage. King Brun knew how to make himself obeyed. If they did not do it for love, they did it from fear; but the affection they bore to the Prince induced them to alleviate his sufferings as much as they could.

One day as he was walking in a long gallery, musing sadly on the fate which had caused him to be born so ugly and so repulsive, and to meet with a princess even more ill-favoured, he happened to look up at the windows, which he observed to be painted with such brilliant colours, and such well-designed ​subjects, that, having a particular taste for such beautiful works of art, he stopped to examine them; but he could not comprehend their import, for they represented scenes in stories which had been forgotten for many ages. One thing, however, struck him, which was, that there was a man in them so closely resembling himself that it appeared like his own portrait. This man was represented in the keep of the tower, examining the wall, in which he found a golden ramrod,[2] with which he opened a cabinet. There were many other subjects which took his attention, and in the greater portion of the windows he saw everywhere his portrait. "By what accident," said he, "have I been made to figure in these scenes; I, who was not born at the time they are supposed to have occurred: and by what fatal idea did it occur to the painter to amuse himself by designing a man like me?" He saw painted on the same glass the figure of a lovely young girl, whose features were so regular, and their expression so intellectual, that he could not take his eyes off it. In short, there were a thousand various subjects, and all the passions were so well expressed, that he seemed absolutely a witness of the events in action, which were only represented by a mixture of colours.

He did not quit the gallery till it was too dark to distinguish anything in the painted glass. On his return to his room he took up the first old manuscript that came to his hand. The leaves were of vellum with illuminated borders, and the binding of gold enamelled with blue, so as to form cyphers. He was much surprised to find in the paintings the same subjects as those depicted on the windows in the gallery. He tried to read the manuscripts, but could not succeed. All on a sudden he observed that in one of the pages where there was an illumination representing musicians, the figures began to sing, and in another page, where there appeared players at at Basset and Tric-trac, the cards and dice were in motion. He turned over leaf, and saw people dancing at a ball; all the ladies in full dress, and of marvellous beauty. He turned ​again, and smelt the savoury fumes of a capital dinner. The little figures were all eating; the largest was not a quarter of an inch in height; and one of them, turning towards the Prince, said to him, "To your good health, Torticoli! strive to restore our queen to us. If you do so, it will be well for you; if you do not, it will be ill for you." At these words the Prince was seized with such a violent panic, (for he had been trembling for some time,) that he let the book drop on one side, and fell on the other like a dead man. At the noise of his fall his keepers ran in. They loved him dearly, and neglected nothing to recover him from his swoon. As soon as he was able to speak, they asked what was the matter with him. He replied that he was so weak for want of proper food that his mind wandered; and his imagination being worked upon, he had fancied he had seen and heard such wonderful things in that book that he was panic-struck. His guardians, much afflicted, gave him something good to eat, in spite of the King's prohibition. When he had eaten, he took up the book again before them, and no longer found anything he had seen in it. This convinced him that he had been under a delusion.

He returned the next day to the gallery. He saw the figures again in the windows, moving, promenading in avenues, hunting stags and hares, fishing, and building tiny houses, for they were very small miniatures, and his portrait was to be seen in every one of them. It had a dress exactly like his own. It ascended into the keep of the tower, and discovered the golden ramrod. As the Prince had eaten a good breakfast, he could no longer imagine this was the work of fancy. "This is too mysterious," said he, "for me to neglect the means of knowing more. Perhaps I may learn more in the keep." He ascended to it, and striking against the wall, he fancied that a portion of it sounded hollow. He took a hammer, and knocking down some of the wall near this spot, he found a golden ramrod, very neatly made. He was puzzling himself to think of what use it could be to him, when he perceived in one corner of the room an old worm-eaten wooden press. He tried to open it, but he could find no lock. He turned it about, and hunted on every side; but it was labour in vain. At last he espied a small hole, and suspecting that the ramrod might be useful, inserted the ​worm of it, and then pulling with all his might he opened the press. But in exact proportion to the age and ugliness of its outside was the beauty and marvellous treasures of its interior. All the drawers were of engraved rock-crystal, amber, or precious stones. When you had taken out one, you found smaller drawers at the sides, above, below, and at the back, separated by partitions of mother-of-pearl. On taking out these partitions and opening the drawers, each appeared full of the most splendid weapons in the world, rich crowns, admirable portraits. Prince Torticoli was enchanted; he was never tired of opening drawers. At length he found a little key made of a single emerald, with which he opened a golden door at the back of the press. He was dazzled by the brilliancy of a carbuncle which formed a large box. He pulled it quickly out of the recess; but what were his feelings when he found it was full of blood, in which was the hand of a man, cut off at the wrist, but still grasping a miniature case!

At this sight Torticoli shuddered; his hair stood on end; his trembling limbs could scarcely support him. He sat down upon the floor still holding the box. Turning his eyes from so shocking a sight, he was greatly tempted to replace the box where he had found it; but it occurred to him, that all these circumstances could not have happened without the existence of some great mysteries. He remembered what the little figure in the book had said to him, that accordingly as he acted, it would be well or ill for him. He had as much to fear from the future as from the present; and finally reproaching himself for a timidity unworthy a great mind, he made an effort, and fixing his eyes on the hand—"Oh, unfortunate hand!" he exclaimed, "canst thou not by some signs acquaint me with thy sad adventure? If I have the power to serve thee, assure thyself of the generosity of my heart!"

The hand at these words appeared agitated, and moving its fingers, made signs to him, the purport of which he comprehended as perfectly as if it had been conveyed in words by the most eloquent lips. "Learn," said the hand, "that thou canst do everything for him from whom the barbarity of a jealous monster has separated me. Thou seest in this miniature the portrait of the adorable beauty, who is the cause of my misfortune. Go straightway to the gallery; ​notice the spot on which the sun's rays most brightly fall; search, and thou wilt discover my treasure." The hand then ceased to move. The Prince put several questions to it, to which it returned no answer. "What shall I do with you?" he added. The hand made fresh signs, by which he understood that he was to replace it in the press. He did so, and shut up everything again; hid the ramrod in the wall where he had found it; and being now a little accustomed to prodigies, descended to the gallery.

On his entrance the windows began to clatter and make an extraordinary movement. He looked for the spot where the rays of the sun fell brightest; he perceived it was upon the portrait of a youth, so handsome and with so majestic an air that he stood enchanted by it. On lifting the picture, he found the wainscot of ebony with mouldings of gold, as throughout the rest of the gallery. He knew not how to remove it, or whether he ought to do so. He consulted the windows; he saw that the wainscot lifted up. He immediately raised it, and found himself in a vestibule all of porphyry, ornamented with statues. He ascended a large staircase of agate, the balustrade of which was inlaid with gold. He entered a saloon of lapis lazuli, and traversing numberless apartments, in which he was enraptured by the excellence of the paintings and the richness of the furniture, he arrived at last at a little chamber, of which all the ornaments were composed of turquoises, and he saw on a bed of blue and gold gauze a lady, who appeared sleeping. She was of incomparable beauty; her tresses, blacker than ebony, set off the whiteness of her skin. She seemed to be uneasy in her slumbers. Her features had an air of melancholy in them, and like those of an invalid.

The Prince, fearing to wake her, approached softly. He heard her speaking, and listening with great attention to her words, he caught these few sentences, broken by sighs: "Dost thou imagine, perfidious one, that I can love thee, when thou hast separated me from my beloved Trasimene?—What! before my eyes thou hast dared divide a hand so dear, from an arm which must ever be dreaded by thee! Is it by such arts thou pretendest to prove to me thy respect and thy affection? Ah, Trasimene, my dear lover! must I never see thee more?" The Prince observed that the tears found a ​passage through her closed lids, and trickling down her cheeks resembled those shed by Aurora.

He remained as if immovable at the foot of the bed, not knowing whether he ought to wake her, or leave her still longer in so sad a slumber. It was already clear to him that Trasimene was her lover, and that he had found his hand in the donjon. A thousand confused thoughts were passing through his brain upon so many different subjects, when he heard a charming melody. It was formed by the voices of nightingales and canary birds, who sang with such perfect harmony that they surpassed the most agreeable vocalists. At the same instant an Eagle of extraordinary size entered the apartment. He flew gently, holding in his talons a golden branch laden with rubies, in bunches like cherries. He fixed his eyes steadily on the lovely sleeper. He appeared to gaze on her as though she was the sun, and spreading his great wings hovered before her, now rising, now sinking almost at her feet.

After some few moments, he turned towards the Prince and approached him, placing in his hand the golden branch with its ruby cherries. The singing birds raised their voices till the notes pierced the roof of the palace. The Prince interpreted with so much judgment the various incidents which succeeded each other, that he concluded that the lady was enchanted, and that the honour of so glorious an adventure was reserved for him. He advanced towards her, bent one knee to the ground, touched her with the branch, and said, "Beautiful and charming creature, now sleeping under an influence which is unknown to me, I conjure you, in the name of Trasimene, to resume all those faculties which you appear to have been deprived of." The lady opened her eyes, perceived the Eagle, and exclaimed, "Stay, dear lover, stay!" But the royal bird uttered a piercing and sorrowful cry, and flew away with his little feathered musicians.

The lady turning, at the same time, towards Torticoli, said to him, "I obeyed the impulse of love before that of gratitude. I am aware that I owe everything to you, and that you have restored me to the light of heaven, which I have been deprived of for two hundred years. The Enchanter who loved me, and has made me suffer so many ills, has reserved for you this great adventure. I have the power to serve you, and ​passionately desire to do so. Let me know your wishes. I will use all the fairy power, which I possess in a sovereign degree, to render you happy." "Madam," replied the Prince, "if your science enables you to penetrate the secrets of the heart, it is easy for you to know that, notwithstanding the misfortunes which overwhelm me, I am less to be pitied than many others." "That is owing to your good sense," replied the Fairy; "but after all, do not permit me to incur the shame of ingratitude towards you. What do you desire? My power is unlimited. Ask anything." "I desire," replied Torticoli, "to restore to you the handsome Trasimene, for whom you so constantly sigh." "You are too generous," said the lady, "to prefer my interests to your own. That great work must be achieved by another person. I cannot explain further; know, only, that that person will not be indifferent to you. But do not longer deny me the pleasure of obliging you. What do you desire?" "Madam," said the Prince, flinging himself at her feet, "you behold my frightful figure. They call me, in derision, Torticoli. Render me less ridiculous!" "Go, Prince," said the Fairy, touching him three times with the golden branch; "go, thou shalt be so accomplished and so perfect, that never man before or after this shall be counted thine equal. Henceforth be called Sans-pair; thou wilt be justly entitled to that name."

The grateful Prince embraced her knees, and, by a silence which testified his joy, he left her to guess what was passing in his soul. She compelled him to rise. He gazed at himself in the mirrors with which the chamber was adorned, and Sans-pair could not recognise Torticoli. He was three feet taller; his hair fell in large curls upon his shoulders; his mien was full of grace and dignity; his features were regular; his eyes sparkled with intelligence; in short, it was a transformation worthy of a beneficent and grateful Fairy.

"Why am I not permitted," said she, "to reveal to you your destiny? to warn you of the shoals Fortune will put in your path! to teach you the means of avoiding them! What gratification it would be to me, to add that benefit to the one I have just conferred on you! But I should offend the superior genius that guides you. Away, Prince; fly from this tower, and remember that the Fairy Benigne will always be your friend." At these words the Fairy, the ​palace, and all the wonders the Prince had seen in it, disappeared. He found himself in a dense forest, more than a hundred leagues from the tower in which the King, his father, had confined him.

Let us leave him to recover from his natural astonishment, and look back to see, first, what is passing amongst the guards which his father had placed around his person, and secondly, what happens to the Princess Trognon. The poor warders, surprised that their Prince did not call for his supper, entered his chamber, and not finding him, searched for him everywhere, in great fear that he had escaped. Their labour being in vain, they were in despair, for they made sure that the King, who was so terrible a tyrant, would put them to death; and after thinking over all the expedients likely to appease him, they decided that one of them should go to bed, and not allow himself to be seen; that they should say that the Prince was very ill; that, shortly afterwards, they should pretend that he was dead; and that the burial of a log of wood would get them out of the scrape. This remedy appeared to them infallible, and they immediately began to put their plan into execution. The smallest of the guards was dressed up with a great hump, and put in the Prince's bed. The King was informed that his son was very ill. He thought it was only said to move his compassion, and he determined not to relax in the least his severity. This was exactly what the trembling warders wished for, and the more they said on the subject, the more indifference to it was manifested by the King.

As for the Princess Trognon, she arrived in a little machine which was only a cubit in height, and carried in a litter. King Brun went to meet her. When he saw her so deformed, seated in a bowl, her skin covered with scales like that of a cod-fish, her eyebrows meeting, her nose large and flat, and her mouth reaching to her ears, he could not forbear saying, "Truly, Princess Trognon, it becomes you to despise my Torticoli. Know that he is very ugly; but to speak the truth, he is less so than you." "My liege," said the Princess, "I am not vain enough to be offended at the rudeness of your speech. I do not know that it may not be, in your opinion, a sure mode of persuading me to love your charming Torticoli; but I declare to you, notwithstanding my miserable bowl, and ​the defects I am full of, that I will not marry him, and that I prefer the title of Princess Trognon to that of Queen Torticoli."

The King's anger was exceedingly heated by this answer. "I tell you plainly," said he, "I will not be contradicted. The king, your father, should be your master, and I have become so, now that he has placed you in my hands." "There are matters," answered the Princess, "in which we have the power to choose. I warn you that I have been brought hither against my will, and that I shall look on you as my most mortal enemy, if you attempt to force me into this marriage." The King, still more irritated, left her; and assigned to her an apartment in his palace with ladies to attend her, who were commanded to persuade her that the best thing she could do was to marry the Prince.

In the meanwhile the guards, who feared being discovered, and that the King might learn his son had escaped, made haste to tell him that he was dead. At these tidings he was afflicted to a degree they could never have believed of him. He screamed, he howled, and looking upon Trognon as the cause of the loss he had sustained, he sent her to the tower, in the place of his dear departed.

The poor Princess was as full of grief as astonishment at finding herself a prisoner. She was courageous, and commented, as she was justified in doing, on so harsh a proceeding. She imagined they would repeat her words to the King, but nobody dared to speak to him on the subject. She conceived, also, that she would be allowed to write to her father respecting the ill-usage she suffered, and that he would come and deliver her. Her projects on that score were useless; her letters were intercepted, and given to King Brun.

As she lived in that hope, however, she was less afflicted; and every day she went into the gallery to look at the painted windows. Nothing appeared to her so extraordinary as the number of subjects represented in them, and to see herself amongst them, in her bowl. "Since my arrival in this country," said she, "the painters have taken a strange fancy to depict me. Are there not enough ridiculous figures without mine? or would they, by force of contrast, set off to greater advantage the beauty of that young shepherdess, who appears to me charming?" She then gazed on the portrait of a ​shepherd, which she could not sufficiently praise. "How much am I to be pitied," said she, "degraded by nature to such an extent as I am! and how happy are those who are handsome!" In uttering these words, the tears came into her eyes; then, catching a glimpse of herself in a glass, she turned away suddenly; but was much astonished to see behind her a little old woman in a hood, who was half again as ugly as herself, and the bowl in which she pushed herself along had more than twenty holes in it, so much was it worn.

"Princess," said this little old woman to her, "you may have your choice between virtue and beauty. Your complaints are so touching that I have listened to them. If you choose to be handsome, you will be a coquette, vain and very gay. If you choose to remain as you are, you will be virtuous, respected, and very humble."

Trognon looked at the person who spoke to her, and asked her if beauty was incompatible with virtue.

"No," replied the good woman; "but, in your case, it is decreed that you can only possess one of the two." "Well, then," exclaimed Trognon firmly, "I prefer my ugliness to beauty." "How! you had rather frighten all those who look on you?" rejoined the old woman. "Yes, Madam," said the Princess; "I would rather choose to suffer all the misfortunes in the world than want virtue." "I brought with me, expressly for this purpose, my white and yellow muff," said the Fairy. "By blowing on the yellow side, you will become like that admirable shepherdess, who appeared so charming to you, and you will be beloved by a shepherd whose portrait has more than once arrested your attention. By blowing on the white side, you can ensure your continuance in the path of virtue, which you have so courageously entered." "Ah, Madam," replied the Princess, "do not refuse me this favour. It will console me for all the contempt with which I am treated."

The little old woman handed to her the muff of beauty and virtue. Trognon made no mistake about it. She blew upon the white side, and thanked the Fairy, who immediately disappeared.

The Princess was delighted at the good choice she had made; and whatever reason she had to envy the incomparable beauty of the shepherdess in the painted windows, she consoled herself with the thought that beauty passes like a ​dream; that virtue is a constant treasure, and an unfading charm, enduring longer than this life. She still hoped that the King her father would put himself at the head of a great army, and release her from the tower.

She awaited the moment to behold him with impatience, and she was dying to ascend to the keep of the tower to see the arrival of the succours she expected. But how could she manage to crawl up such a height? She moved about on the floor of her apartment slower than a tortoise, and, to ascend to any place, her women had to carry her.

Notwithstanding, she hit upon a rather peculiar plan: she knew that the clock was in the keep. She took off the weights, and put herself in their place. When they wound up the clock, she was hoisted up to the top. She looked eagerly out of the window that opened towards the country; but she saw nothing coming, and she retired from it to rest herself a little. In leaning against the wall that Torticoli, or, as we should now say, Prince Sans-pair, had pulled down and rebuilt but badly, the mortar fell out, and with it the golden ramrod, which made a tinkling sound as it fell near Trognon. She perceived it, and after having picked it up, examined it to ascertain its use. As she had more sense than people in general, she quickly concluded that it was made to open the press, which had no lock to it. She succeeded in doing so, and was not less enraptured than the Prince had been, at the sight of all the rare and elegant things she found in it. It contained four thousand drawers, all filled with ancient and modern jewels. At length she found the golden door, the box of carbuncle, and the hand swimming in blood. She shuddered, and would have cast it from her; but she had not the power to let it go, a secret influence prevented her. "Alas! what shall I do?" she cried, sorrowfully. "I had rather die than stay longer here with this amputated hand!" At that moment she heard a soft and sweet voice, which said to her, "Take courage, Princess; thy happiness depends upon this adventure." "Oh! what can I do?" replied she, trembling. "Thou must bear that hand to thy chamber," said the voice, "and hide it underneath thy bolster, and when thou seest an eagle, give it to him without losing an instant." Terrified as the Princess was, there was something in that voice so persuasive, that she did not hesitate to obey. She ​replaced the drawers and the curiosities as she had found them, without taking a single thing. Her guards, who feared that she had escaped in her turn, not having found her in her room, sought for her, and were struck with surprise at discovering her in a place to which they said she could not possibly have mounted except by enchantment. She passed three days without seeing anything particular. She did not dare to open the beautiful carbuncle box, for the sight of the amputated hand caused her too much alarm. At length, one night, she heard a noise at her window. She got up as well as she could, and, dragging herself across the room, opened the casement. The Eagle flew in, making a great noise with his wings to manifest his joy. She hastened to present him the hand, which he took in his talons, and the next moment she lost sight of him. In his place stood a young man, the handsomest and best made she had ever seen. His forehead was encircled by a diadem; his dress was covered with jewels. He held in his hand a miniature; and commencing the conversation, "Princess," said he to Trognon, "for two hundred years a perfidious Enchanter has detained me here. We both of us loved the admirable Fairy, Benigne. I was accepted; he was jealous. His art surpassed mine, and determining to use it to my ruin, he commanded me, in an absolute tone, never to see her more. Such a prohibition suited neither my love nor my rank. I threatened him; and the fair one I adored was so offended at the behaviour of the Enchanter, that in her turn she forbade him ever to approach her. The cruel monster resolved to punish both of us."

"One day that I was by her side, gazing with delight on a portrait she had given me, yet finding it a thousand times less beautiful than the original, the Enchanter appeared, and with one blow of his sabre cut my hand off at the wrist. The Fairy Benigne (so is my queen named) felt more keenly than myself the anguish of this wound. She sank insensible upon her couch, and immediately I found myself covered with feathers. I was transformed into an eagle. I was permitted to come daily to see the queen, without the power of approaching or awaking her; but I had the consolation of hearing her incessantly breathe tender sighs, and talk in her sleep of her dear Trasimene. I knew also that, at the expiration of two hundred years, a prince would restore Benigne ​to the light of day, and that a princess, by returning me my lost hand, would give me back my original form. A celebrated fairy, who interests herself in your glory, ordained that it should be so. It is she who so carefully locked up my hand in the press of the keep; it is she who has given me the power to prove to you this day my gratitude. Wish for anything, Princess, which can give you the greatest pleasure, and instantly you shall obtain it."

"Great King," replied Trognon, after some moments' silence, "if I have not answered you directly, it is not that I hesitate to do so; but that I confess I am unused to such surprising adventures as the present, and that I fancy it is rather a dream than a reality." "No, Madam," replied Trasimene, "it is not an illusion; you will experience the effects, as soon as you please to tell me what boon you desire." "If I asked for everything I should require to make me perfect," said she, "whatever may be your power, it would be difficult for you to satisfy me; but I will confine myself to the most essential. Make my mind as beautiful as my body is ugly and deformed." "Ah, Princess," exclaimed King Trasimene, "you delight me by so wise and noble a choice; but who is able to do that which is already accomplished? Your body, therefore, shall become as beautiful as your mind and soul." He touched the Princess with the miniature of the Fairy. She hears all her bones go crick crack—they lengthen—get into joint again; she rises, she is tall, handsome, straight; her skin is whiter than milk; all her features are regular; her air is majestic yet modest; her countenance intelligent and agreeable. "What a miracle!" she exclaimed. "Can this be me? Is it possible?" "Yes, Madam," replied Trasimene; "it is you. The wise choice you made of virtue has brought about the happy change you enjoy. What pleasure it is to me, after all I owe you, to think that I was destined to contribute to it! But quit for ever the name of Trognon; take that of Brilliante, to which your intellect and your charms entitle you." At the same instant he disappeared, and the Princess, without knowing what coach she came by, found herself on the bank of a little river, beneath some shady trees, in the most agreeable spot on earth.

She had not yet seen her face. The water of the river was so clear that she discovered, to her extreme surprise, that ​she was the very shepherdess whose portrait she had admired so much in the windows of the gallery. In fact, like her, she had on a white dress trimmed with fine lace, neater than any shepherdess had ever been seen in. Her waist was encircled by a band of little roses and jasmine; her hair was adorned with flowers; she found near her a gilt and painted crook, with a flock of sheep that were feeding by the river side, and knew her voice, and even a sheep-dog who appeared to know her and fawned upon her.

What reflections did she not make upon these novel prodigies! She had been born and had lived up to that moment the ugliest of all created beings, but she was a princess. She became fairer than the day, and she was only a shepherdess. She could not help feeling a little the loss of her rank. These various thoughts agitated her till she slept. She had been awake all night, as I have already told you, and the journey she had taken, without being aware of it, was an hundred leagues, so that she felt a little tired. Her sheep and her dog, assembled beside her, seemed to take care of her, and to pay her the attentions she ought to have paid to them. The sun could not cause her any inconvenience, though it was in the full blaze of noon; for the tufted trees screened her from its scorching rays, and the fresh and delicate grass on which she had seated herself seemed proud of so beautiful a burthen. It was there

The gentle violets were seen
Emulating other flowers;
Peering above the herbage green,
To scatter incense round in showers.

The birds performed the sweetest concerts, and the Zephyrs held their breath, fearing to disturb her. A shepherd exhausted by the heat of the sun, having perceived from a distance this shady spot, hastened towards it; but, at the sight of the young Shepherdess Brilliante, he was so struck with astonishment that but for a tree, against which he supported himself, he must have fallen to the earth. In fact, he recognised in her the same being whose beauty he had admired in the windows of the gallery, and in the vellum pages of the illuminated manuscripts; for the reader will not doubt for a moment that this shepherd, was no other than Prince Sans-pair. An unknown power had retained him in this country. He had become the admiration of ​all who had seen him. His skill in all sorts of exercises, his good looks, and his intelligence, distinguished him no less amongst the other shepherds, than his rank would have done elsewhere.

He riveted his eyes upon Brilliante, with a curiosity and a pleasure which he had never felt before. He knelt beside her. He contemplated that assemblage of charms which rendered her perfection, and his heart was the first to pay that tribute to her beauty which none since had dared to refuse. Whilst he was in deep meditation, Brilliante awoke, and seeing Sans-pair near her in a very elegant shepherd's dress, she gazed at him, and instantly remembered him, for she had seen his portrait in the tower. "Lovely shepherdess," said he, "what happy fate has led you hither? You come, no doubt, to receive our worship and our vows! Ah, I feel already that I shall be the most eager to offer to you my homage." "No, shepherd," said she; "I do not presume to exact honours which are not due to me; I would remain a simple shepherdess. I love my flock and my dog. Solitude has charms for me, and I desire none other." "How! young shepherdess, you have come hither with the design of concealing yourself from the mortals who inhabit these lands? Is it possible," continued he, "that you would do us so much injury?—at least, make me an exception, as I am the first who has offered his service to you!" "No," replied Brilliante, "I will not see you more frequently than the rest, notwithstanding that I already feel a particular esteem for you. But tell me where I shall find some respectable shepherdess with whom I may dwell, for being a stranger here, and of an age which will not permit me to live alone, I should be glad to place myself under her protection." Sans-pair was enraptured at being entrusted with this commission. He conducted her to so neat a cottage, that it had a thousand charms in its simplicity. It was inhabited by a little old woman, who rarely crossed the threshold because she could hardly walk. "Here, my good mother," said Sans-pair, presenting Brilliante to her, "here is an incomparable maiden, whose appearance alone will make you young again." The old woman embraced her, and told her, with an affable air, that she was welcome, that she regretted she had so poor a lodging to offer her, but that at least she should occupy a ​good place in her heart. "I did not think," said Brilliante, "to find here so favourable a reception, and so much politeness; I assure you, my good mother, that I am delighted to be with you. Do not refuse," continued she, addressing the shepherd, "to tell me your name, that I may know to whom I owe this service." "They call me Sans-pair," replied the Prince, "but now I will have no other name than that of your slave." "And I," said the little old woman, "I wish also to know the name of the shepherdess to whom I offer hospitality." The Princess told her she was called Brilliante. The old woman seemed charmed with so lovely a name, and Sans-pair said a hundred pretty things about it. The old shepherdess, fearing that Brilliante was hungry, set before her a very clean bowl full of new milk with brown bread, new-laid eggs, fresh butter, and a cream cheese. Sans-pair ran to his cottage, and brought from it strawberries, nuts, cherries, and other fruits; and in order to stay longer with Brilliante, he asked permission to eat his dinner with her. Alas, how difficult it would have been for her to have refused him! She had great pleasure in beholding him, and whatever coldness she affected, she was well aware that his presence was not indifferent to her.

After he left her, she thought about him for a long time, and he of her. He saw her every day; he led his flock to the spot where she fed her own; he sang beside her the most passionate songs; he played on the flute and the bagpipe while she danced; and she displayed such grace, and kept such perfect time, that he could not sufficiently admire her. Each in their own minds reflected on the surprising chain of adventures which had occurred to them, and each became restless. Sans-pair followed her, assiduously, everywhere—

In short, whene'er he found the maid alone,[3]
So well he painted all the rapture known
By two fond hearts in Cupid's bonds united,
That she discover'd shortly that the flame,
To which she scarcely dared to give a name,
By Love himself had certainly been lighted.
And seeing all the danger that she ran,—

An innocent and unprotected creature,—
She carefully avoided the dear man,
Although it sadly went against her nature;
In secret, too, her heart would oft implore her
To pity so respectful an adorer.
Sans-pair, who could not for his life make out
What caused the change he'd not been told a word of,
Sought her, in vain, to satisfy his doubt:
Brilliante was never to be seen or heard of.

She avoided him carefully, reproaching herself unceasingly with the sentiments she cherished for him. "What!" said she, "I have the misfortune to love!—and to love a miserable shepherd! What a destiny is mine! I preferred virtue to beauty. It appears that Heaven, to reward me for that choice, thought fit to render me handsome: but how unfortunate I consider myself in having become so! But for these idle charms, the shepherd I shun would not have striven to please me, and I should have escaped the shame of blushing at the sentiments I entertain for him!" These sad reflections always ended in tears, and her pain was increased by the state to which she reduced her amiable shepherd. He was, on his part, overwhelmed with affliction. He was tempted to declare to Brilliante the greatness of his birth, in the hope that a feeling of vanity might induce her to listen to him more favourably.

But he persuaded himself that she would not believe him, and that if she demanded a proof of what he asserted, he was not in a position to give her one. "How cruel is my fate!" he exclaimed: "hideous as I was, I must have succeeded to my father. A great kingdom makes up for many defects. It would be useless for me now to present myself to him or to his subjects; there is not one amongst them who could recognise me! and all the good the Fairy Benigne has done me, in taking from me my name and my ugliness, consists in having made me a shepherd, and the slave of an inexorable shepherdess, who cannot abide me!—Barbarous Fortune!" said he, sighing, "become more propitious to me, or restore my deformity together with my previous indifference!"

Such were the sad lamentations which the lover and his mistress indulged in, unknown to each other. But, as Brilliante persisted in avoiding Sans-pair, one day, having determined to speak to her, and wishing to find an excuse which would not offend her, he took a little lamb and adorned it ​with ribands and flowers, and put round its neck a collar of painted straw, so neatly made that it was a sort of chef-d'œuvre. He was himself attired in a dress of rose-coloured taffety covered with English point, and carried a crook adorned with ribands and a small basket; and thus equipped, no Celadon in the world had dared to appear before him. He found Brilliante seated on the banks of a rivulet, which flowed gently through the thickest part of the wood. Her sheep were scattered about, browsing. The deep melancholy of the shepherdess prevented her attending to them. Sans-pair accosted her with a timid air. He presented to her the little lamb, and gazing on her tenderly—"What have I done, beautiful shepherdess," said he, "to deserve such terrible proofs of your aversion? You are angry with your eyes for the least look they bestow on me!—for my passion so offends you, that you must fly me. Can you desire one more pure or more faithful? Have not my words and actions been always marked by respect as well as ardour? But, no doubt, your affections are placed elsewhere; your heart is prepossessed in favour of another." She replied to him immediately:—

"Shepherd, if I shun your view,
Should that give alarm to you?
By my flight you sure can tell
I but fear to love too well.
Were my absence caused by hate,
Would my anguish be as great?
Reason would from hence enforce me—
Love from reason would divorce me.
Even now my fluttering heart
Fails me when I should depart.
Oh, when love becomes extreme,
Stern, indeed, doth duty seem;
And how slowly do we move,
When we fly from those we love!
But, adieu! I must away,
Shepherd, from this fatal spot.
Die without you soon I may,
But, if you love me, follow not!"

As she said this, Brilliante left him. The amorous and despairing Prince would have followed her, but his grief became so violent that he fell insensible at the foot of a tree.

Ah, severe and too cruel virtue! why should you fear a man who has cherished you from his earliest infancy? He is not capable of misunderstanding you, and his passion is perfectly innocent. But the Princess doubted herself as much ​as him; she could not help doing justice to the merits of that charming shepherd, and she was well aware that it is necessary to avoid that which appears to us too agreeable.

Never had any one undertaken such a task as she undertook at that moment. She tore herself away from the most tender and best beloved object she had ever seen in her life! She could not resist looking back several times, to see if he followed her. She saw him fall half dead! She loved him, and denied herself the consolation of recovering him. When she reached the open plain, she lifted up her eyes pitifully, and folding her arms, exclaimed, "O Virtue! O Glory! Grandeur! I sacrifice to you my happiness! Destiny! O Trasimene! I renounce my fatal beauty!—Give me back my ugliness, or restore to me the lover I abandon, without a cause to blush at my choice!" After uttering these words, she stood, uncertain whether or not she should retrace her steps. Her heart prompted her to re-enter the wood in which she had left Sans-pair: but her virtue triumphed over her affection. She took the noble resolution never again to behold him.

Since she had been transported to this spot, she had heard talk of a celebrated Enchanter, who lived in a castle which he and his sister had built on the shore of the island. There was nothing spoken of but their science. Every day produced some new wonder. She thought nothing less than magic power could efface from her heart the image of the charming shepherd; and, without saying anything to her charitable hostess, who had received and treated her like a daughter, she set out on her road so absorbed by her sorrow, that she never reflected on the peril she ran, a young and beautiful girl travelling all alone. She rested neither day nor night, she neither eat nor drank—she was so anxious to reach the castle, and be cured of her love. But in passing through a wood, she heard some one singing. She thought she distinguished her own name, and recognised the voice of one of her companions. She stopped to listen, and caught these words:—

"Sans-pair, of all the village swains
The handsomest in form and feature,
Wore of a shepherdess the chains,
Brilliante by name as well as nature;
By every gentle art he sought
To move to pity his enslaver;
But the poor innocent knew nought
Of love, despite the hints he gave her.

Still in his absence she would sigh
As though of peace fate had bereft her;
It wasn't often, by-the-bye,
Because he scarcely ever left her.
Stretched on the green turf at her feet,
He sang and piped in rustic fashion:
The maiden own'd his piping sweet,
And caught the air, if not the passion."

"Ah, this is too much!" exclaimed Brilliante, bursting into tears. "Imprudent shepherd, thou hast boasted of the innocent favours I have accorded thee! Thou hast dared to suppose that my weak heart was influenced by thy passion more than by my own sense of duty. Thou hast made others the confidants of thy mistaken hopes, and art the cause of my being thus made the theme of idle songs throughout the woods and plains!" She was so exceedingly annoyed by this circumstance, that she believed she could look on Sans-pair with indifference, and perhaps with aversion. "It is unnecessary," continued she, "for me to go further in search of remedies for my pain; I have nothing to fear from a shepherd in whom I see so little merit. I will return to the village in company with the shepherdess whose song I have been listening to." She called to her as loudly as she could; but nobody answered her, and yet she heard the voice every now and then singing very near her. She became uneasy and alarmed; in fact, the wood belonged to the Enchanter, and nobody could pass through it without meeting with some adventure.

Brilliante, more bewildered than ever, hastened to make her way out of the wood. "Has the shepherd I feared become so little alarming to me that I should venture to see him again? Is it not rather that my heart, in league with him, attempts to deceive me? Oh, let me fly! let me fly!—It is the wiser course for a princess so unfortunate as I am!" She resumed her journey to the Enchanter's castle, arrived at it, and entered without any obstacle. She traversed several large courts, so overgrown by grass and brambles, that it seemed as if no one had walked in them for a hundred years. She made a way through them with her hands, which got scratched in several places. She entered a hall, into which the light was admitted only through a small hole. The walls were hung with the wings of bats, a dozen live cats were dangling from the ceiling in lieu of chandeliers, squalling ​enough to drive you crazy; and on a long table were twelve large mice, fastened to it by their tails, each of which had in front of them a piece of bacon which they couldn't reach; so that the cats saw the mice without being able to eat them, and the mice trembled at the cats, while they were famishing with a tempting piece of bacon before them.

The Princess was contemplating the torture of these animals, when she saw the Enchanter enter in a long black robe. He had on his head a crocodile by way of a cap, and never was there seen so horrible a head-dress. The old man wore spectacles, and carried a whip made of twenty long live serpents. Oh, how frightened the Princess was!—how she regretted at that moment her shepherd, her sheep, and her dog! She thought only of flight; and, without saying a word to this terrible man, she ran to the door: but it was covered with spiders' webs. As soon as she had lifted one, she found another under it; and on lifting that, a third appeared; she lifted that, and saw a new one, under which was another; in short, these filthy portières of spiders' webs were innumerable.

The poor Princess was worn out with fatigue; her arms were not strong enough to hold up these webs; she would have sat down on the floor to rest herself, but was quickly compelled to rise again by long sharp thorns that issued from it. She attempted again to escape, but still found one web under another. The wicked old man, who observed her, laughed till he was ready to choke himself. At length he called to her, and said, "Thou mayest pass the rest of thy life without succeeding in thy object. Thou seemest to me younger and more beautiful than the fairest I ever saw. If thou wilt marry me, I will give thee these twelve cats that thou seest hung up to the ceiling to do what thou wilt with, and these twelve mice that are on the table here shall be thine also. The cats are so many princes, and the mice as many princesses. The little rogues, at one time or another, had the honour to please me (for I have been always gay and gallant), but none would love me. These princes were my rivals, and more favoured than I was. Jealousy took possession of me; I found means to entice them hither; and as fast as I caught them, I transformed them into cats and mice. The most amusing part of the business is, that they hate, as much as they formerly loved, each other, and it ​would be scarcely possible to imagine a more complete vengeance." "Oh, my lord!" exclaimed Brilliante, "change me into a mouse; I deserve it no less than these poor princesses." "How! my little shepherdess," said the Magician, "wilt thou not then love me?" "I have resolved never to love," said she. "Oh, how silly thou art!" continued the Magician. "I will cherish thee marvellously; I will tell thee stories; I will give thee the most beautiful dresses in the world. Thou shalt never move but in a coach or a litter; thou wilt be called 'Madam!'" "I have resolved never to love," repeated the Princess." "Take care what thou sayest!" cried the Enchanter, angrily; "thou wilt repent it for many a long day!" "No matter," replied Brilliante; "I have resolved never to love." "Aha, thou too indifferent creature!" said he, touching her; "since thou wouldst be of a particular species, thou shalt for the future be neither flesh nor fish; thou shalt have neither blood nor bones. Thou shalt be green, because thou art still in thy greenest youth; thou shalt be agile and sprightly; thou shalt live in the fields, as thou hast done; and they shall call thee Grasshopper." At the same moment Princess Brilliante became the most beautiful grasshopper in the world, and availing herself of her liberty, skipped quickly into the garden. As soon as she was able to reflect on her situation, she exclaimed mournfully, "Oh, my bowl! my dear bowl! what has become of you?—Behold the result of your promises, Trasimene! This, then, is the fate which has been reserved for me so carefully these two hundred years!—a beauty as fleeting as that of the flowers of spring; and as a conclusion, a dress of green crape, a singular little form, which is neither flesh nor fish, and without blood or bones. I am very unfortunate!—Alas! a crown would have covered all my defects; I should have found a husband worthy of me; and if I had remained a shepherdess, the charming Sans-pair wished but for the possession of my heart! He is but too amply revenged for my unjust disdain. Here am I, a grasshopper! doomed to chirrup day and night, whilst my heart, full of bitterness, invites me to weep!" Thus soliloquized the grasshopper, hidden amongst the tender grass that fringed the borders of a rivulet.

But what was Prince Sans-pair doing, bereft of his adorable ​shepherdess? The cruel way in which she had left him afflicted him so deeply that he had not the power to follow her. Before he could join her he had swooned, and he remained a long time insensible at the foot of the tree where Brilliante saw him fall. At length the coolness of the ground, or some unknown power, brought him to himself: he did not dare to seek her that day at her own home, and revolving in his mind the words she had said to him,

"Were my absence caused by hate,
Would my anguish be as great?"

He drew from them more flattering hopes, and trusted time and attention might win for him a little gratitude. But what were his feelings when, on going next day to the old shepherdess with whom Brilliante lodged, he heard that she had never been seen since the previous evening! He was ready to die with anxiety. He wandered away overwhelmed by a thousand conflicting thoughts. He seated himself sadly by the side of the river; he was tempted a hundred times to fling himself into it, and to end his misfortunes with his life. At length he took a bodkin, and scratched the following verses on the bark of a nettle-tree:[4]—

"Lovely fountain, river clear,
Smiling valley, fertile plain,
Scenes erewhile to me so dear,
Alas, ye but increase my pain!
The beauteous maid for whom I burn,
To whom your every charm ye owe,
Has left ye, never to return,
And me to weep for ever mo!
When Morning in the East appears,
She brings my spirit no relief;
No sun can dry my ceaseless tears,
No night in slumber lull my grief.
Forgive me, O thou gentle tree,
That on thy breast her name I grave;
How slight the wound to that which she,
The cruel one, my bosom gave!
My steel thy life untouch'd hath left—
Her cipher makes thee seem more fair;
But of his darling's sight bereft,
For death alone sighs poor Sans-pair."

He could not write any more, being accosted by a little old woman, who had a ruff round her neck, and wore a farthingale, a roll under her white hair, and a velvet hood. Her ancient appearance had something venerable in it. "My son," said she to him, "your lamentations are very grievous. ​I beg you to let me know the cause." "Alas, good mother!" answered Sans-pair, "I deplore the absence of a lovely shepherdess who flies me. I have resolved to search through all the world until I find her." "Go in that direction, my child," said the old woman to him, pointing towards the castle where poor Brilliante had become a grasshopper; "I have a presentiment that you will not seek her long." Sans-pair thanked her, and prayed the god of love to befriend him.

The Prince met with no adventure on the road of sufficient consequence to detain him; but, on reaching the wood close to the castle of the Magician and his sister, he thought he saw his shepherdess, and hastened to follow her. She glided away from him. "Brilliante!" he cried, "adorable Brilliante!—stay one instant!—deign to listen to me!" The phantom flitted still faster, and in its pursuit he passed the remainder of the day. When night came on, he saw a great many lights in the castle; he flattered himself his shepherdess might be there. He ran towards it, and entered without any difficulty. He ascended a staircase, and saw, in a magnificent saloon, a tall old Fairy, horribly thin; her eyes resembled two burnt-out lamps; you could see through her jaws. Her arms were like laths, her fingers like knitting-needles,[5] a skin of black shagreen[6] covered her skeleton; yet with all this she wore rouge and patches, pink and green ribands, a mantle of silver brocade, a crown of diamonds on her head, and a profusion of jewels all about her.

"At last, Prince," said she to him, "you have arrived, where I have long wished to see you. Think no more of your little shepherdess; a passion for one so much your inferior should make you blush. I am the Queen of Meteors. I am your friend, and can be of infinite service to you if you love me." "Love you!" exclaimed the Prince, looking at her contemptuously; "love you, Madam!—Am I master of my heart? No; I will never be unfaithful; and I feel that even could I change, it is not you who would ever be the object of my affections. Choose amongst your meteors some influence which may suit you. Love the air,—love the winds,—and leave mortals in peace."

​The Fairy was fierce and passionate; with two blows of her wand she filled the gallery with frightful monsters, against whom the Prince was obliged to exert all his skill and courage. Some had several heads and arms, others the forms of centaurs and syrens. There were lions with human faces, sphinxes, and flying dragons. Sans-pair had only his crook and a small boar-spear, that he had armed himself with when he set out on his journey. The tall Fairy interrupted the combat every now and then, and demanded whether he would love her. His answer was always, that he had sworn to be faithful, and could not change.

Provoked by his firmness, she conjured up the form of Brilliante. "'Tis well!" said she to him; "thou seest thy mistress at the end of this gallery. Think on what thou art about to do. If thou refusest to marry me, she shall be torn to pieces by tigers before your eyes!" "Ah, Madam," cried the Prince, flinging himself at her feet, "I will die with pleasure to save my beloved mistress! Spare her life, and take mine!"—"I want not thy life, traitor," said the Fairy; "it is thy heart and thy hand I demand." Whilst they disputed, the Prince heard the voice of his shepherdess complaining, "Would you let me be devoured?" she asked him. "If you love me, resolve to do as the queen commands you."

The poor Prince hesitated. "Have you then abandoned me, Benigne," he exclaimed, "after all your promises?—Come, oh, come to our aid!" He had scarcely spoken, when he heard a voice in the air which pronounced distinctly these words:—

"Leave all to Fate: but be constant, and seek the Golden Branch."

The tall Fairy, who had made sure of victory through the assistance of so many illusions, was ready to go mad at finding so formidable an obstacle in her path as the protection of Benigne. "Fly my presence!" she exclaimed, "wretched and obstinate Prince!—as thy heart is so full of flame, thou shalt be a cricket that is fond of heat and fire!"

On the instant, the marvellously handsome Prince Sans-pair became a little dingy cricket, who would have burned himself alive in the nearest fireplace or oven, had he not remembered the friendly voice that had encouraged him. "I must seek the Golden Branch," said he; "perhaps that ​will uncricket me. Ah! if I find my shepherdess there, what will be wanting to my happiness?"

The cricket hastened to leave the fatal palace, and without knowing which way he should go, commended himself to the protection of the Fairy Benigne, and set off without ceremony or weapons, for a cricket fears neither robbers nor accidents. At his first resting-place, which was a hole in the trunk of a tree, he found a grasshopper, so very melancholy she could not sing. The cricket, never imagining that she was a reasoning and intellectual creature, said to her, "Where art thou bound to, neighbour grasshopper?" "And you, neighbour cricket, where are you going to?" she asked in her turn. This reply astonished greatly the enamoured cricket. "How!" said he; "can you speak?" "Why, you speak well enough," cried she; "do you think a grasshopper has less right to talk than a cricket?" "I can talk," said the cricket, "because I am a man." "And by the same rule," said the grasshopper, "I ought to talk more than you, because I'm a woman." "You have then suffered a fate similar to mine?" said the cricket. "No doubt," answered the grasshopper. "But, once more, whither go you?" rejoined the cricket; "I should be delighted to find we were likely to remain a long time together." "I heard an unknown voice," replied she, "in the air; it said, 'Leave all to Fate, and seek the Golden Branch!' I fancied this could only be addressed to me, and without pausing, set out on my journey, though I have no idea whither I should go."

Their conversation was interrupted by two mice, who came running as fast as they could, and making for the hole at the foot of the tree, and flinging themselves in head foremost, nearly smothered neighbour cricket and neighbour grasshopper, who got out of their way as best they could, into a little corner. "Ah, Madam," exclaimed the biggest mouse, "I have got a pain in my side with running so fast. How fares your highness?"—"I have pulled my tail off," replied the younger mouse, "otherwise I must still have remained upon the old sorcerer's table. But did you note how he pursued us? How happy are we to have escaped from his infernal palace!"—"I am rather afraid of the cats and the mousetraps, my princess," continued the large mouse; "and I pray fervently that we may soon arrive at the Golden ​Branch." "You know the road to it then?" said her mousefied highness. "Know it, Madam?—as well as I do that to my own house," replied the other. "It is a wonderful branch; a single leaf of it is sufficient to make one rich for ever. It supplies you with money, it dispels enchantments, it gives beauty, and preserves youth. We must set out to-morrow before day-break." "We will have the honour to accompany you, ladies," said the grasshopper, "if you have no objection; I and an honest cricket whom you see here, for we as well as you are pilgrims to the Golden Branch." A great many compliments immediately passed between them, for the mice were princesses, whom the wicked Enchanter had tied to his table, and the high breeding of the cricket and the grasshopper was always apparent whatever might be their situation. They all woke very early. They set out in solemn silence, for they were afraid some sportsman on the look out, hearing them speak, would catch them, and put them into a cage; and in due time they arrived at the Golden Branch. It was planted in the middle of a wonderful garden. The walks, in lieu of sand, were strown with small oriental pearls rounder than peas. The roses were crimson-coloured diamonds, and the leaves were emeralds; the blossoms of the pomegranates were garnets; the marigolds were topazes; the jonquils, yellow brilliants; and the violets, sapphires; the blue-bells, turquoises; the tulips, amethysts, opals, and diamonds. In short, the number and variety of these beautiful flowers dazzled more than the sun.

Here, then, (as I have already told you,) was the Golden Branch, the same that Prince Sans-pair received from the Eagle, and with which he touched the Fairy Benigne when she was enchanted. It had grown as high as the highest trees around it, and was covered with rubies in the form of cherries. As soon as the cricket, the grasshopper, and the two mice approached it, they recovered their natural forms. What joy, what transports filled the breast of the fond Prince, at the sight of his beautiful shepherdess! He flung himself at her feet. He was about to express to her all he felt at so agreeable and unhoped-for a surprise, when Queen Benigne and King Trasimene appeared in matchless pomp, for everything corresponded with the magnificence of the garden. Four cupids, armed cap-à-pié, with bows at their ​sides, and quivers on their shoulders, supported with their arrows a little canopy of gold and blue brocade, under which were seen two splendid crowns. "Hither, charming lovers!" said the Queen, extending her arms towards them; "come, and receive from our hands the crowns which your virtue, your birth, and your constancy deserve. Your toils are about to change for pleasures. Princess Brilliante," continued she, "the shepherd, so alarming to your heart, is the very Prince who was destined for you by your father and his own. He did not die in the tower. Receive him as your husband, and leave to me the care of your happiness and tranquillity." The Princess, delighted, flung herself into the arms of Benigne, and by the tears which flowed down her cheeks, proved to her that excess of joy had rendered her speechless. Sans-pair knelt before the generous Fairy, respectfully kissed her hands, and uttered a thousand unconnected sentences. Trasimene embraced him heartily; and Benigne, in a few words, informed them that she had hardly ever quitted them,—that it was she who had proposed to Brilliante to blow into the white and yellow muff,—that she had assumed the form of an old shepherdess in order to take the Princess as a lodger,—and that it was she also who had directed the Prince which way he should go in search of his shepherdess. "It is true," continued she, "that you have undergone sufferings which I would have spared you had it been in my power; but the pleasures of love must be bought at some cost."

At this moment they heard some sweet music which floated around them. The cupids hastened to crown the young lovers; the marriage rites were performed; and during the ceremony, the two princesses, who had recovered their forms, implored the Fairy to exert her power to deliver the other unfortunate mice and cats who languished in despair in the Enchanter's castle. "I can refuse you nothing on such a day as this," answered the Fairy; so saying, she struck the Golden Branch three times, and all who had been confined in the castle appeared in their natural forms—each lover finding his mistress. The liberal Fairy, desirous that nothing should be wanting to the fête, gave the whole contents of the press in the keep to be divided amongst the company. The value of this present was more than that of ten kingdoms in those days. It is easy to imagine their ​satisfaction and gratitude. Benigne and Trasimene crowned this great work by a generosity which surpassed all that they had hitherto exhibited. They declared that the Palace and Garden of the Golden Branch should, for the future, be the property of King Sans-pair and Queen Brilliante. A hundred other sovereigns were their tributaries, and a hundred kingdoms their dependencies.

When to Brilliante her aid a Fairy proffer'd,
She might—and much she needed it just then—
Have chosen the rare beauty to her offer'd;
A tempting bait to nine maids out of ten:
Witness the art, the trouble, and the cost
To gain or keep it, of the sex recorded.
But the temptation on Brilliante was lost;
She preferr'd virtue, and was well rewarded.
The rose and lily on the cheek will die
As quickly as the flowers with which they vie;
But beauties of celestial virtue born,
Are deathless as the soul which they adorn.

The End

1. "Le Roi Brun." In my Extravaganza, founded on this story, I took the liberty of designating his majesty, King Brown; but though the translation was literal, it did not so completely convey the idea of the author as the other sense in which the word "brun" is used, namely, that of dark, gloomy, dusky, &c. We say, in English, a man "looks black," when he frowns,—not brown. "A brown study," implies deep thought, but not melancholy or anger. For the reasons I have stated in my Preface, I leave this name, as I have other proper names, untranslated.

2. "Tire-bourre." At the period these stories were written, the ramrod was called "the scouring-stick of a piece," and a "tire-bourre" signified the worm or screw by which the charge was drawn of a gun or cannon. (Vide Cotgrave.) I have used the word ramrod, as the nearest to the original that was comprehensible to the modern reader; the combination of the two instruments at the present day being, I trust, a sufficient apology for the anachronism, if one be necessary.

3. I am at a loss to know why Madame D'Aulnoy ran the following very prosaic lines into rhyme, as they are simply a portion of the narrative. I felt, however, bound to follow her example.

4. Alisier, vide note, p. 28.

5. "Fuseaux" i.e. Fuseaux à dentelle.

6. Peau de chagrin noir. Shagreen is now an article almost obsolete; it was a skin much used during the past century for watch and spectacle cases.

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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