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The White Doe or The Doe in the Woods - a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy

 Read "The Doe in the Woods" fairy tale for all children. "The White Doe" story, is a bedtime Story for kids written by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy about a king and a queen who loved each other very much, but unfortunately did not have an heir to the throne. Convinced that the king would love her even more if she gave him a son, the queen began to drink water from some fountains that were much appreciated by the people. One day, the queen asked the maids to leave her alone by a fountain and then began to pray for help to have a child. To the queen's amazement, a crab came out of the fountain and told her that her wish would be granted, but she would have to go to the fairy castle. The queen asked to be shown the way to the fairies, and the crab turned into an old woman and together they went through the forest, on the way to the fairy castle.

"The White Doe or The Doe in the Woods"
a fairy tale by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy or Countess d'Aulnoy or Madame d'Aulnoy
James Planché, author and dramatist, translated the tale as The Hind in the Woods.
Further English translations renamed it The Story of the Hind in the Forest, The Enchanted Hind, The Hind of the Forest, and The White Fawn.

Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen who were perfectly happy together; they loved each other most affectionately, and their subjects adored them; but the regret was universal, that there was not an heir to the crown. The Queen, who felt persuaded that the King would love her still more if she brought him one, went in the spring to drink the waters at some baths that were in high estimation. People flocked to them in crowds, and the number of strangers was so great, that persons from all parts of the world were to be found there.

There were several fountains, in a large wood, that the visitors went to drink from; they were surrounded by marble and porphyry; for every one was anxious to ornament them. One day that the Queen was sitting at the edge of one of the fountains, she desired all her ladies to retire and leave her by herself. She then began to complain as usual. "Am I not very unfortunate," said she, "to have no offspring? The poorest women have some children; it is now five years since I have prayed for one, and I have not yet obtained my wish! Shall I die without this gratification!"

As she thus spoke, she remarked that the water in the fountain was agitated. Presently a large Crab appeared, and said, "Great Queen, you shall have your wish. I must inform you, that hardby there is a superb palace, which the fairies have built; but it is impossible for you to find it, because it is surrounded by thick clouds, that no mortal eye could penetrate; however, I am your very humble servant; if you will trust yourself to the conduct of a poor crab, I offer to lead you there."

The Queen listened without interrupting her, the novelty ​of hearing a crab talk being so surprising. She told her that she would accept her offer with pleasure; but that she could not walk backwards as she did. The Crab smiled, and immediately took the figure of a handsome little old woman.

"Very well, Madam," said she, "we will not walk backwards, I consent to that: but, at all events, look upon me as one of your friends, who would be of service to you."

She walked out of the fountain without being wetted. Her dress was white, lined with crimson, and her grey hair was dressed with knots of green riband; scarcely was ever seen an old woman with so sprightly an air. She saluted the Queen, and was embraced by her; and, without delaying any longer, she conducted her through a path in the wood, which astonished that princess; for, although she had been in the wood a thousand and a thousand times, she had never entered that particular path. How could she have entered it? It was the road by which the fairies went to the fountain, and was generally closed by brambles and thorns; but when the Queen and her conductress presented themselves, roses immediately appeared upon the brambles, jasmine and orange-trees interlaced their branches, to form an arbour covered by leaves and flowers. The ground was mantled with violets; a thousand different birds sang in emulation of each other upon the trees.

The Queen had not recovered from her astonishment, when her eyes were struck by the unequalled lustre of a palace of diamonds,—the walls, the roofs, the platforms, the floors, the stairs, the balconies, even the terraces, were all diamonds. In the excitement of her admiration, she could not help uttering a loud cry; and asked the fine old lady who accompanied her, if what she saw was a dream, or reality. "Nothing can be more real, Madam," replied she. Immediately the gates of the palace opened, six fairies issued forth,—but what fairies! the most beautiful and the most magnificent that had ever been seen in their empire. They all came and made a profound courtesy to the Queen, and each presented her with a flower of precious stones, to make her a bouquet. There was a rose, a tulip, an anemone, a columbine, a carnation, and a pomegranate. "Madam," said they, "we cannot give you a greater mark of our esteem than that of permitting you to come here to see us; but we are delighted to ​announce to you, that you will have a beautiful princess, whom you will call Désirée; for it must be admitted it is a long time that you have desired her. Do not fail to send for us the moment she is born, for we wish to endow her with all kinds of good qualities; you have only to hold the bouquet that we have given you, and name each flower, thinking of us, and be sure that we shall be instantly in your chamber.

The Queen, transported with joy, threw her arms round their necks, and embraced them for more than half-an-hour. After which they begged the Queen to enter their palace, the beauty of which it is not possible sufficiently to describe. They had chosen for the builder of it the architect of the sun; he had executed in miniature all that which is on a grand scale in that luminary. The Queen, who could not support the brilliancy without pain, shut her eyes at every instant. They conducted her to their garden; there had never been such fine fruit: the apricots were bigger than your head, and they could not, without cutting it in quarters, eat a cherry of such exquisite flavour, that after the Queen had tasted it, she never wished to eat anything else. There was also an orchard of artificial trees, which notwithstanding had life, and grew like the others.

To relate all the Queen's delight,—how she talked of the little Princess Désirée, how she thanked the kind persons who announced such agreeable news to her,—is more than I can undertake to do; but, in short, there were no terms of affection and gratitude forgotten. The Fairy of the Fountain received the full share she deserved of them. The Queen remained in the palace till night; she loved music, they entertained her with voices that seemed celestial, they loaded her with presents, and, after thanking these excellent ladies very much, she returned with the Fairy of the Fountain.

All her household were in great distress about her; they sought for her, with much anxiety; they could not imagine where she could be; they even feared some audacious stranger had carried her off, for she was young and beautiful; so that every one was extremely rejoiced at her return: and as she felt on her part an infinite satisfaction at the good news that had just been announced to her, her agreeable and sparkling conversation charmed everybody.

The Fairy of the Fountain parted with her close by her ​own home; compliments and caresses were redoubled at their separation, and the Queen remaining eight days longer at the baths, did not fail to revisit the palace of the fairies with her coquettish old lady, who always appeared first as a crab and then took her natural form.

The Queen returned to court, and was in due time confined of a Princess, to whom she gave the name of Désirée; she immediately took the bouquet she had received, and named all the flowers, one after the other, and forthwith all the fairies arrived. Each of them had a different sort of chariot; one was of ebony drawn by white pigeons, others were of ivory drawn by young ravens, others of cedar and eagle-wood.[1] This was their equipage of alliance and peace; for, when they were angry, they had nothing but flying-dragons, adders which darted fire from their mouths and eyes, lions, leopards, and panthers, upon which they transported themselves from one end of the world to another, in a shorter time than one could say "Good day," or "Good night;" but at this moment they were in the best possible humour.

The Queen saw them enter her chamber with a lively and majestic air; their dwarfs followed them, loaded with presents. After they had embraced the Queen, and kissed the little Princess, they displayed the baby's clothes; the linen of which was so fine and so good, that it might be used for a hundred years without wearing it out—the fairies had spun it themselves in their leisure hours. As to the lace, it surpassed even what I have said of the linen; all the history of the world was represented either in point or in bone-lace.

After that, they showed her the blankets and coverlids which they had embroidered expressly for the princess with representations of a thousand different games that children play at. Since the existence of embroiderers and embroideresses nothing so wonderful was ever seen; but, when the cradle appeared, the Queen positively screamed with admiration; for it surpassed everything they had shown her before: it was made of a wood so rare that it cost a hundred thousand crowns a pound; four little Cupids supported it; they were four masterpieces, wherein art had so far surpassed the material, although it was of diamonds and rubies, that no one could say enough about them. These little Cupids had ​been animated by the fairies, so that when the child cried they rocked it, and made it sleep; a wonderful convenience for the nurses.

The fairies themselves took the little Princess upon their knees, they swathed her, and gave her more than a hundred kisses; for she was already so beautiful that no one could look at her without loving her. They said that she was hungry, and instantly they struck the ground with their wands; a nurse appeared—such a one as befitted this lovely babe. It now only remained to endow the infant, and the fairies hastened to do so. One endowed her with virtue, another with wit, a third with wonderful beauty, the next with good fortune, the fifth with continual health, and the last with the gift of doing everything well which she undertook.

The Queen, enchanted, thanked them a thousand and a thousand times for the favours they had just conferred upon the little Princess; when they perceived, entering the chamber, so large a crab, that the door was scarcely wide enough for her to pass through. "Ah! too ungrateful Queen," said the Crab, "you have not then deigned to remember me! Is it possible you have so soon forgotten the Fairy of the Fountain, and the services I rendered you, by introducing you to my sisters! What! you have summoned them all—I am alone neglected! Certainly I had a presentiment of it, and it was that which obliged me to take the form of a crab when I first spoke to you, to signify thereby that your friendship, instead of progressing, would retrograde.

The Queen, inconsolable at seeing the fault she had committed, interrupted her, and asked her pardon. She told her she thought she had named her flower with the others; that it was the bouquet of precious stones that had deceived her; that she had not been guilty of forgetting the obligations she was under to her; that she supplicated her not to deprive her of her friendship, and particularly to befriend the Princess. The fairies, who feared she would but endow the child with misery and misfortune, seconded the Queen's endeavours, to appease her. "My dear sister," said they, "let not your highness be angry with a queen who never had an idea of displeasing you. For mercy's sake quit this form of a crab, and let us behold you with all your charms."

I have already said that the Fairy of the Fountain was ​rather a coquette; the praises of her sisters softened her a little. "Very well," said she; "I will not do all the mischief to Désirée I had intended; for assuredly I had a mind to destroy her, and nothing could have prevented my doing so. However, I give you warning, that if she sees the light of day before she is fifteen years old, it will perhaps cost her her life." The Queen's tears, and the prayers of the illustrious fairies, could not alter the decree she had just pronounced. She retired, walking backwards, for she had not chosen to put off her crab's dress.

As soon as she had quitted the chamber, the sorrowful Queen asked the fairies to point out some way of preserving her daughter from the evils that threatened her. They immediately consulted together; and at last, after discussing several different opinions, they decided upon this one; which was, to build a palace without either doors or windows, to make a subterraneous entry to it, and to educate the Princess in this place, till the fatal period during which she was threatened with misfortune should have expired. Three taps of a wand began and finished this grand edifice. The exterior was of white and green marble; the ceilings and the floors were of diamonds and emeralds, placed in the form of flowers, birds, and a thousand agreeable objects. All the furniture and hangings were of different coloured velvets, embroidered by the hands of the fairies; and, as they were learned in history, it had been a pleasure to them to work representations of the greatest and most remarkable adventures; the future was depicted as well as the past. The heroic actions of the greatest king in the world[2] filled many of the pieces.

Here of the Thracian god he bore the mien;
Fierce lightnings flashing from his eyes were seen:
There over France he ruled in peace profound;
Her lot the envy of the world around.
The arts he fosters, grateful for his care,
His form august had pictured everywhere:
To fierce assaults victorious legions leading,
Or, generously, peace to vanquished foes conceding.

These wise fairies had hit upon this mode of making the young Princess more easily acquainted with the different events in the lives of heroes and other celebrated men.

In her palace there was no light to see by but that of wax ​candles; but of them there was so great a number, that they made it one perpetual day. All the masters whom the Princess required to perfect her education were conducted to this place. Her intelligence, her quickness, and her skill enabled her generally to comprehend beforehand what they intended teaching her; and they were all of them in one continual admiration of the surprising things she said, at an age when others were hardly able to pronounce the name of their nurse; but certainly one who is endowed by fairies is not expected to be stupid and ignorant.

If her wit charmed all who approached her, the effects from her beauty were not less powerful. She enraptured the most insensible people; and the Queen her mother would never have lost sight of her, if her duty had not obliged her to be near the King. The good fairies every now and then went to see the Princess; they took her matchless rarities—dresses so cleverly invented, so costly, and so elegant, that they seemed to have been made for the nuptials of a young princess[3] not less amiable than she of whom I speak. But of all the fairies, who protected her, Tulip loved her the most, and most carefully impressed upon the Queen the necessity of not allowing her to see daylight before she was fifteen years old. "Our sister of the fountain is vindictive," said she; "whatever care we may take of this child, she will do it some mischief, if she can. Therefore, Madam, you cannot be too vigilant in that matter." The Queen promised to be incessantly watchful upon such an important affair; but as the time drew near for her dear daughter to leave the palace, she made her sit for her picture, and her portrait was taken to the greatest courts of the universe. There was not a prince who could avoid being struck with admiration at the sight of it; but there was one who was so moved by it that he could never leave it. He placed it in his closet, shut himself up with it, and talked to it, as though it were sensible and could understand him; he said the most passionate things in the world to it.

The King, who now hardly ever saw his son, inquired how he was occupied, and what it could be that prevented his appearing as cheerful as usual. Some of the courtiers, too eager to speak,—for there are many of that sort,—told him they feared that the Prince would go out of his mind; for he ​remained whole days together shut up alone in his closet, where they could hear him talking, as though he had some lady with him.

The King received this information with much uneasiness. "Is it possible," said he to his confidants, "that my son has lost his reason? he has always evinced so much. You know how greatly he has been admired up to this moment; and I do not see anything wild in his looks. He appears to me to be only a little melancholy: I must talk to him; I may, perhaps, be able to discover what sort of madness has seized him."

Consequently he sent for him, ordered every one else to withdraw, and, after several things to which the Prince paid little attention, and to which he answered very indifferently, the King asked him, what was the cause of the alteration in his manner and person. The Prince, believing this to be a favourable opportunity, threw himself at his father's feet, and said: "You have resolved that I shall wed the Black Princess; you will find some great advantages in this alliance that I could not promise from that with the Princess Désirée; but, Sire, I discover charms in the latter, that I shall not meet with in the former." "And where have you discovered them?" said the King. "The portraits of the one and the other have been brought to me," replied Prince Guerrier (for thus he was named after having won three great battles). "I confess that I am desperately in love with Princess Désirée; and, if you do not retract the promise you have given to the Black Princess, I shall die!—happy in ceasing to live, losing the hope of being hers I love."

"It is with her portrait, then," gravely answered the King, "that you have chosen to hold conversations which have rendered you ridiculous in the eyes of all the courtiers? They believe you to be mad; and if you knew what has been said to me on the subject, you would be ashamed of showing so much weakness." "I cannot reproach myself for entertaining so worthy a passion," answered the Prince. "When you have seen the portrait of this charming Princess, you will approve of my affection for her." "Go for it, then, directly:" said the King, with an impatient air, which evidently indicated his vexation. The Prince would have been much distressed at it, if he had not felt certain that nothing could be equal to ​Désirée's beauty. He ran into his closet for the portrait, and returned with it to the King, who was nearly as much enchanted as his son. "Ah, ah! my dear Guerrier," said he, "I consent to your wish. I shall become young again, when I shall have so lovely a princess in my court. I shall immediately despatch ambassadors to the court of the Black Princess, to retract my word; though it should occasion a sharp war with her, I prefer that alternative."

The Prince respectfully kissed his father's hand, and more than once fell at his feet; he was so delighted, they hardly knew him again. He begged the King to hasten the departure of his ambassadors, not only to the Black Princess, but to Princess Désirée; and desired that he would choose for the latter mission the most able and wealthy person, as it was necessary that he should appear in great state upon so celebrated an occasion, and possess the power of persuasion in the highest degree. The King fixed upon Becafigue, a very eloquent young nobleman with a hundred millions a-year. He was exceedingly fond of Prince Guerrier, and, to gratify him, ordered the most magnificent equipage and the richest liveries that could be imagined. His preparations were made with all speed, for the Prince's love increased every day, and incessantly he was imploring the ambassador to set out. "Remember," said he in confidence to him, "that my life depends upon it; that I am perfectly distracted when I think the father of my princess may enter into engagements with some one else that he would not be inclined to break off in my favour, and that I may lose her for ever!" Becafigue endeavoured to encourage him, that he might gain time; for he was exceedingly anxious his appearance should do him honour. He took with him four-and-twenty coaches all blazing with gold and diamonds; the highest finished miniature could not compare to the paintings with which they were ornamented. There were also fifty other coaches; twenty-four thousand pages on horseback, dressed finer than princes; and the rest of this grand procession was of equal magnificence.

When the ambassador took his leave of the Prince, he warmly embraced him. "Remember, my dear Becafigue," said he, "my life depends upon the marriage you are going to negotiate for me. Omit no means of persuading and bringing back with you the lovely princess whom I adore." ​He loaded him also with a thousand presents for the Princess, the gallantry of which equalled their magnificence. There were quantities of amorous devices engraven upon diamond seals; watches contained in carbuncles with Désirée's cypher upon them; bracelets of rubies cut in the shape of hearts: in short, what had he not thought of to please her!

The ambassador took the portrait of this young prince, which had been painted by so skilful an artist, that it spoke, and paid the most charming little compliments. It did not absolutely reply to all that was said to it, but it very nearly did so. Becafigue promised the Prince he would neglect nothing that could give him satisfaction; and he added, that he had taken so much money with him that, if they refused him the Princess, he would find the means of bribing one of her women, and carry her off. "Ah!" cried the Prince, "I cannot agree to that; she would be offended by so disrespectful a proceeding." Becafigue made no answer to that remark, and took his departure. The rumour of his voyage preceded his arrival. The King and Queen were enchanted; they highly esteemed his master, and had heard of Prince Guerrier's great achievements, but what they were much better acquainted with were his personal merits, so that, had they sought all over the world for a husband for their daughter, they would not have found one more worthy of her. They prepared a palace for Becafigue, and they gave all the necessary orders for the court to appear in the greatest splendour.

The King and Queen resolved that the ambassador should see Désirée, but the Fairy Tulip came to the Queen and said, "Take care, Madam, that you do not introduce Becafigue to our child,"—it was thus she called the Princess,—"he must not see her yet; and do not consent to let her go to the King, who demands her hand for his son, until she is fifteen years old; for I am convinced, if she quit her palace before then, some misfortune will befal her." The Queen embraced the good Tulip, promising to follow her advice, and they went immediately to see the Princess.

The ambassador arrived; his procession was twenty-three hours in passing, for he had six hundred thousand great mules, the bells and shoes of which were of gold, their housings of velvet and brocade embroidered with pearls. The confusion it caused in the streets was unequalled; every one ​was running to look at it. The King and Queen went to meet him, so delighted were they at his coming. It is useless to talk of the speeches that were made, and of the ceremonies which passed on one side and the other. They can be imagined well enough; but, when he asked to be allowed to make his bow to the Princess, he was very much surprised to find that favour was denied him. "It is no caprice of our own, my Lord Becafigue," said the King, "that induces us to refuse a request which you are perfectly justified in making; but, in order that you should understand our reasons, I must relate to you our daughter's extraordinary adventure.

"A Fairy took an aversion to her from the moment of her birth, and threatened her with some very great misfortune if she saw the light of day before the age of fifteen; we keep her in a palace the most beautiful apartments of which are underground. We had determined to take you there, when the Fairy Tulip forbade our doing so." "Ah, Sire!" replied the ambassador, "shall I have the misery of returning without her Highness? You have given her to the King, my master, for his son; she is waited for with the greatest impatience; is it possible that you hesitate on such trifling grounds as the predictions of fairies? Here is Prince Guerrier's portrait that I was desired to present her with,—it is so like him, that I think I see him before me when I look at it."

He immediately produced it. The portrait, which had only been taught to speak to the Princess, said, "Beautiful Désirée, you cannot imagine how ardently I await you; come quickly to our court, and ornament it by those graces which render you incomparable." The portrait ceased speaking. The King and Queen were so perfectly astonished, that they entreated Becafigue to give it them; he was delighted to do so, and placed it in their hands.

The Queen had not yet spoken to her daughter of what was passing; she had even forbidden the ladies who were near her to say anything of the ambassador's arrival. They had not however obeyed her, and the Princess knew a great marriage was in agitation for her, but she was so prudent that she took no notice of it to her mother. When she showed her the Prince's portrait, which spoke and paid her a compliment as affectionate as it was polite, she was indeed ​surprised, for she had never seen anything to equal that, and the fine appearance of the Prince, the intellectual expression and regularity of his features, astonished her no less than the words of the portrait.

"Should you be sorry," said the Queen laughingly, "to have a husband who resembled this Prince?" "Madam," replied she, "it is not for me to choose, therefore I shall be content with whomsoever you please to appoint for me." "But in a word," added the Queen, "if the chance fell upon him, would you not esteem yourself very happy?" She blushed, looked down, and said nothing. The Queen embraced her, and kissed her several times; she could not help shedding tears, when she thought she was on the point of losing her, for she wanted but three months of being fifteen; and, concealing her grief, she related all that concerned the Princess in the embassy of the celebrated Becafigue; she even gave her all the rarities he had brought to present to her. She admired them; she praised with good taste that which was the most curious, but from time to time she turned to gaze upon the portrait of the Prince with a pleasure she had never known till then.

The ambassador finding that his endeavours to obtain the Princess were useless, and that he must be contented with her parents' solemn promise, which he had no reason to doubt, took leave of the King, and returned post to give an account of his mission to his masters.

When the Prince found he could not hope to see his dear Désirée for more than three months, he uttered lamentations which distressed the whole court; he could no longer sleep; he could eat nothing; he became sad and thoughtful; the brightness of his complexion changed to the pallid hue of care; he passed whole days, lying on a couch in his cabinet, gazing on the portrait of his princess; he wrote to her continually, and presented the letters to the portrait, as though it was able to read them; at last, becoming gradually weaker, he fell dangerously ill, and it required neither physicians nor doctors to tell the reason.

The King was in despair,—he loved his son more tenderly than ever father loved one before. He was on the point of losing him! what an affliction for a parent! He saw no remedy for the malady of the Prince. He languished for ​Désirée; without her he must die. The King resolved therefore, in such an extremity, to go to the King and Queen, who had promised her to him, to entreat them to have pity upon the situation the Prince was reduced to, and defer no longer a marriage which would never happen, if they were determined to wait till the Princess arrived at the age of fifteen.

This was an extraordinary step to take, but it would have been more extraordinary if he had allowed so amiable and dear a son to perish. Notwithstanding, he met with an insurmountable difficulty, for his age was so great he could only travel in a litter, and this mode accorded very badly with the impatience of his son; so that he desired his faithful Becafigue to travel post, and sent by him the most affecting letters in the world, to induce the King and Queen to accede to his wishes.

During all this time Désirée had scarcely less pleasure in looking at the Prince's portrait than he had in gazing at hers. Every instant she sought the room in which it was placed; and, however careful she was in disguising her feelings, her attendants did not fail to discover them. Amongst others, Giroflée and Longue-épine, who were her maids of honour, perceived the little anxieties that began to torment her. Giroflée loved her dearly, and was faithful to her. Longue-épine had always nourished a secret jealousy of her merit and her rank. Her mother had educated the Princess, and after having been her governess, became her first lady-in-waiting; she ought to have loved her better than anything in the world, but she doted on her own daughter ridiculously, and perceiving her hatred to the lovely Princess, she could not wish her well.

The ambassador who had been despatched to the Black Princess, was not well received when she learned the message with which he was charged. The Ethiopian was the most vindictive creature in the world; she thought she was treated very cavalierly, in being thus politely put off, after engagements had been actually entered into with her. She had seen a portrait of the Prince, with which she was infatuated, and Ethiopians, when they do love, love to a greater excess than any one else. "How, Sir!" said she; "does your master think I am neither rich enough, nor beautiful enough? Travel through my dominions, you will find there are few ​more extensive. Visit my royal treasury, and you will see more gold than all the mines of Peru have ever yielded; and then look at the blackness of my complexion—this flattened nose, these thick lips: is it not thus one should be, to be beautiful?" "Madam," answered the ambassador, (who feared the bastinado more than any they sent to the Sublime Porte,) "I blame my master as much as a subject is permitted to do; and, if I had been placed upon the first throne in the universe, I know very well with whom I should have offered to share it." "That speech has saved your life," said she; "I had determined to commence my revenge upon you; but that would have been unjust, since you are not to blame for the base conduct of your prince. Go and tell him, that I am delighted he has broken off with me, because I abhor dishonest people." The ambassador, who wished for nothing better than leave to depart, profited by it as soon as he obtained it.

But the Ethiopian was too much offended with Prince Guerrier to pardon him. She mounted an ivory car drawn by six ostriches that went at the rate of ten leagues an hour; she repaired to the palace of the Fairy of the Fountain, who was her godmother, and her best friend; she gave an account of her adventure,—and entreated her, with the greatest importunity, to revenge her. The Fairy felt for her god-daughter's grief—she looked in the book that tells everything, and she instantly knew that Prince Guerrier had abandoned the Black Princess for the Princess Désirée; that he was passionately in love with her; and that he was even ill from his impatience to see her. This knowledge rekindled her anger, which was nearly extinguished; and, as she had never seen Désirée from the moment of her birth, it is likely that would not have harmed her, if the vindictive Blackamoor had not induced her to do so. "How!" cried she; "is this miserable Désirée to be always vexing me? No, charming Princess; no, my darling, I will not allow thee to be thus insulted. The heavens and all the elements are interested in this affair; return home, and depend upon thy dear godmother." The Black Princess thanked her, and made her presents of flowers and fruit, which she received with much pleasure.

The ambassador Becafigue posted with the greatest speed ​to the city where Désirée's father resided; he threw himself at the feet of the King and Queen, he shed many tears, and assured them, in the most affecting terms, that Prince Guerrier would die, if they refused him any longer the pleasure of seeing the Princess their daughter: that she was fifteen years old all but three months, that nothing serious could happen in so short a space of time; that he took the liberty of making known to them, that so great a belief in these insignificant fairies was an injury to royal majesty; in short, he pleaded so well that he had the gift of persuasion.

They wept with him at his representation of the sad condition to which the young Prince was reduced, and they then told him, that they must have some days to decide upon their answer. He replied, that he could only give them a few hours; that it was an extreme case with his master; that he imagined the Princess hated him, and that it was she herself who delayed the journey. They then assured him, that before evening he should know what could be done in the matter.

The Queen ran to her dear daughter's palace, and told her all that had passed. Désirée's grief was unequalled; her heart failed her, she fainted, and the Queen became convinced of her sentiments for the Prince. "Do not distress yourself, my dear child," said she, "you are able to cure him. I am only uneasy on account of the threats of the Fairy of the Fountain at your birth." "I flatter myself, Madam," replied she, "that there are some means by which we could outwit the wicked Fairy; for instance, could I not go in a coach so closely shut up that I could not see daylight? They might open it at night, to give me something to eat, and I should thus arrive safely at the palace of Prince Guerrier."

The Queen fancied this expedient very much; she told the King, who approved of it also; they then sent for Becafigue to come to them directly, and they assured him that the Princess should set out instantly—therefore he had nothing more to do than return with this good news to his master; and that, to expedite the matter, they would dispense with the equipage, and the rich dresses suitable to her rank. The ambassador, transported with joy, again threw himself at their Majesties' feet to thank them, after which he departed without having seen the Princess.

The separation from the King and Queen would have ​appeared insupportable to her, if Désirée had been less prepossessed in favour of the Prince; but there are some feelings which can stifle nearly all the others. They built her a coach with green velvet outside ornamented with large plates of gold, and lined it with pink and silver brocade embroidered. There were no glass windows in it; it was very large; it shut closer than a box, and one of the first noblemen in the kingdom had charge of the keys which opened the locks they had placed on the doors.

Around her were the Graces seen,
And Love himself was fain
To follow with respectful mien,
A vassal in her train.
With the most majestic air
Heavenly softness blending,
All the willing captives were
Of beauty so transcending.
In brief, like charms, it may be said,
Did Adelaide reveal,
When hither Hymen led the maid,
The bond of peace to seal.[4]

They selected but a few officers to accompany her, that a numerous suite might not be a hindrance on the journey, and, after giving her the most beautiful jewellery in the world, and some very rich dresses,—after a leave-taking which, I may say, nearly choked the King, the Queen, and all the court, so violently did they weep—they locked her up in the coach, with her principal lady-in-waiting, Longue-épine and Giroflée.

Perhaps it has been forgotten that Longue-épine did not like the Princess at all; but she was much in love with Prince Guerrier, for she had seen his speaking likeness. The shaft of Cupid had wounded her so acutely, that upon the point of setting out she told her mother that she should die if the Princess's marriage took place; and that, if she wished her to live, she must absolutely find out some means to break it off. The lady-in-waiting begged she would not distress herself, that she would endeavour to relieve her pain and make her happy.

​When the Queen sent her dear child away, she recommended her above all things to the care of this wicked woman. "With what have I not trusted you!" said she, "with more than my life! Take care of my daughter's health; but, above everything, be careful she does not see daylight, or all will be lost; you know with what evils she is threatened, and I have stipulated with Prince Guerrier's ambassador, that until she is fifteen, they will place her in a castle where she will see no light but that from wax candles." The Queen loaded the lady with presents, to ensure her most scrupulous attention. She promised to watch over the Princess's safety, and to send the Queen a good account of her the moment they had arrived at their destination.

Thus the King and Queen, confiding in her care, felt no uneasiness for their dear daughter, which in some degree moderated their grief at her separation from them: but Longue-épine, who learnt each night from the Princess's officers, who opened the coach to give her her supper, the progress they were making towards the city where they were expected, urged her mother to execute her intentions, fearing the King or the Prince would come to meet the Princess, and that the opportunity would be lost. So about the middle of the day, when the sun's rays were at their height, she suddenly cut the roof of the coach in which they were shut with a large knife, made expressly for the purpose, which she had brought with her. Then, for the first time, Princess Désirée saw the light of day. She had scarcely looked at it, and heaved a deep sigh, when she sprang from the coach in the form of White Hind, and bounded off to the nearest forest, where she hid herself in a dark covert, there to lament unseen the loss of the beautiful form she had so suddenly been deprived of.

The Fairy of the Fountain, who had brought about this extraordinary event, seeing all those who accompanied the Princess in commotion, some following her, others hastening to the city to announce to Prince Guerrier the misfortune that had just occurred, seemed bent on the sudden destruction of creation. The thunder and lightning terrified the boldest, and by her wonderful skill she transported all these persons to an immense distance from the spot, where their presence was objectionable to her.

No one remained but the lady-in-waiting, Longue-épine, ​and Giroflée. The latter ran after her mistress, making the woods and rocks resound with her name and her own lamentations. The two others, enchanted at being at liberty, lost not a moment in executing their project. Longue-épine dressed herself in Désirée's richest apparel. The royal mantle, which had been made for her nuptials, was of unequal costliness, and the crown had diamonds in it twice or thrice as big as one's fist; the sceptre was composed of one single ruby; the globe which she held in her other hand, of a pearl larger than one's head: this was curious, and very heavy to carry; but it was necessary to persuade everybody that she was the Princess, and not omit displaying any one of the royal ornaments.

In this attire, followed by her mother, who held the train of her mantle, she set forth towards the city. The counterfeit princess walked gravely, not doubting some persons would come to receive them, and indeed they had scarcely made any progress when they perceived a large body of cavalry, and in the middle two litters glittering with gold and precious stones, drawn by mules ornamented with high plumes of green feathers—that was the Princess's favourite colour. The King who was in one, and the sick Prince in the other, knew not what to make of the ladies they perceived approaching them. The most eager of the royal train galloped forward, and judged by the magnificence of their dress that they ought to be persons of distinction. They alighted, and accosted them respectfully. "Oblige me by informing me," said Longue-épine to them, "who are in these litters?" "Ladies," replied they, "it is the King, and the Prince his son, who come to meet the Princess Désirée." "Go, I beg of you, and tell them she is here," continued she; "a fairy jealous of my good fortune, has dispersed all those who accompanied me by a hundred claps of thunder, lightning, and supernatural prodigies; but here is my lady-in-waiting, who has charge of letters from the King my father, and of my jewellery."

The cavaliers immediately kissed the hem of her robe, and hastened to inform the King of the Princess's arrival. "How!" cried he, "she comes on foot in broad daylight!" They related all she had told them. The Prince, burning with impatience, called them to him, and without asking them ​any questions, "Acknowledge," said he, "that she is a prodigy of beauty, a miracle, a most accomplished princess." They made no answer, which astonished the Prince. "Having too much to say in praise of her," continued he, "you prefer remaining silent?" "My lord, you will see her yourself," said the boldest among them. "The fatigue of travelling has apparently altered her." The Prince was much surprised; had he not been so weak, he would have precipitated himself from his litter, to satisfy his impatience and his curiosity. The King descended from his litter, and, advancing with all his court, he joined the false Princess; but, the moment that he cast his eyes upon her, he gave a loud cry, and fell back some paces. "What do I see?" said he; "what perfidy?" "Sire," said the lady-in-waiting, boldly advancing, "this is the Princess Désirée with letters from the King and Queen. I also deliver into your hands the casket of jewels which they gave me on setting out."

The King heard all this in a sullen silence, and the Prince, leaning upon Becafigue, approached Longue-épine—Oh, ye gods! what became of him upon seeing this girl, whose extraordinary figure frightened him? She was so tall that the Princess's robes scarcely reached to her knees; she was frightfully thin; her nose, more hooked than that of a parrot, glowed with a fiery red; never had any teeth been blacker or more irregular; in short, she was as ugly as Désirée was beautiful.

The Prince, who was fully possessed with the charming notion of his Princess, was transfixed and immoveable at the sight of this woman—he had no power to speak a word, he looked at her with astonishment, and addressing himself to the King—"I am betrayed!" said he. "The wonderful portrait by which I was captivated is nothing like the person they have sent us; they have endeavoured to deceive us, and they have so far succeeded that it will cost me my life." "What do you mean, my Lord?" said Longue-épine; "they have sought to deceive you?—know that you will never be deceived in marrying me." Her effrontery and her pride were unexampled. The lady-in-waiting went even beyond this. "Ah! my beautiful Princess!" cried she, "where are we come to? Is this the way to receive a personage of your rank? What inconstancy, what behaviour! the King, your father, will have satisfaction for this." "It is we who will ​have satisfaction," replied the King; "he promised us a beautiful Princess; he has sent us a skeleton, a mummy that frightens us. I am no longer surprised that he has kept this lovely treasure hidden for fifteen years, that he might entrap some dupe. The chance has fallen upon us, but revenge is not impossible." "What outrages!" cried the mock Princess; "am I not unfortunate to have come here upon the word of such people? See how very wrong it is to be flattered in one's picture; yet does it not happen every day? If for such absurdities princes sent back their affianced brides, few would marry."

The King and the Prince, transported with rage, did not deign to answer her; they each remounted their litters, and without further ceremony, one of the body-guards placed the Princess behind him, and the lady-in-waiting was similarly treated; they carried them into the city by order of the King; they were shut up in the Castle of the Three Points.

Prince Guerrier was so overwhelmed by the shock he had just received, that his affliction could not find vent, though it filled his heart almost to bursting. When he was able to give utterance to it, what did he not say of his cruel destiny! He was still in love, and the object of his passion was only a picture! His hopes no longer existed; all the charming ideas he had indulged in of the Princess Désirée had been destroyed; he would rather have died than have married the person whom he now believed to be that Princess; in short, no despair had ever equalled his. He could no longer endure the court, and he determined to leave it secretly as soon as his health would permit him, and seek out some solitary place wherein to pass the remainder of his sad life.

He only communicated his plan to the faithful Becafigue; he felt persuaded that he would follow him anywhere, and he preferred talking with him oftener than with any one of the shameful trick they had played him. He scarcely felt better before he departed, and left upon the table in his cabinet a long letter for the King, assuring him that the moment his mind was more at ease he would return to him; but he entreated him in the meantime to think of their mutual revenge, and still to detain the ugly princess a prisoner.

It is easy to imagine the King's grief when he received this ​letter. The separation from so dear a son nearly killed him. While everybody was endeavouring to console him, the Prince and Becafigue were speeding away, and at the end of three days they found themselves in a vast forest, so dark from the thickness of the trees, so agreeable from the freshness of the grass, and from the rivulets which flowed in all directions, that the Prince, fatigued by the length of his journey, for he was still ill, dismounted, and threw himself dejectedly upon the ground with his hand under his head, hardly able to speak, he was so weak. "My lord," said Becafigue, "while you are reposing I will seek for fruits to refresh you, and reconnoitre the place a little which we have arrived at." The Prince did not answer, he only acknowledged by a sign that he could do so.

It is a long time since we left the Hind in the wood; I will now speak of the incomparable Princess. She wept like a disconsolate hind, when she saw herself in a fountain, which served as a mirror for her." "What! can this be me?" said she. "Now do I find myself subjected to the strangest fate that could happen in all Fairy-land to so innocent a princess as I am. How long will my transformation last?—Where shall I conceal myself from the lions, bears, and wolves, that they may not devour me? How can I eat grass?" In short, she asked herself a thousand questions, and was in the greatest possible grief. It is true, that if anything could console her, it was that she was as beautiful a hind as she had been a beautiful princess.

Becoming very hungry, Désirée nibbled the grass with a good appetite, and was surprised she could do so. Afterwards she laid down on the moss; night overtook her; she passed it in inconceivable alarm. She heard the wild beasts close to her, and often forgetting that she was a hind, she tried to climb some tree. The light of day somewhat reassured her; she admired its beauty, and the sun appeared something so wonderful to her, that she was never wearied with looking at it; all she had ever heard of it appeared to her much below what she now beheld; it was the only consolation she could find in that desert place; she remained there for several days quite by herself.

The fairy Tulip, who had always loved this Princess, deeply felt for her misfortune; but she was extremely vexed that ​both she and the Queen had paid so little attention to her advice; for she had told them several times, that if the Princess set out before she was fifteen, she would meet with some evil. However, she would not abandon her to the fury of the Fairy of the Fountain; and it was she who conducted Giroflée towards the forest, that this faithful confidant might console the Princess in her misfortune.

This lovely Hind was quietly grazing by the side of a brook, when Giroflée, who could scarcely walk, lay down to rest herself. She was looking very mournfully which way she should go to find her dear Princess. When the Hind saw her, she suddenly leaped the brook, which was wide and deep, and came and threw herself upon Giroflée, and caressed her a thousand times. She was quite surprised at it; she did not know whether the animals in this province had any particular friendship for people which humanised them, or whether this one knew her—for in fact it was very singular, that a hind should think of doing the honours of the forest so well.

She looked at it earnestly, and saw, with much surprise, large tears falling from its eyes. She no longer doubted that it was her dear Princess; she took her feet, and kissed them, with as much respect and affection as though she was kissing her hands. She spoke to her, and was convinced that the Hind understood her, but that she could not answer her; their tears and sighs were redoubled. Giroflée promised her mistress that she would not leave her any more. The Hind made a thousand little signs with her head and her eyes, which meant, she should be very glad of it, and that it would console her for some of her troubles.

They remained together nearly all the day. The Hind, fearing that her faithful Giroflée would want something to eat, led her to a place in the forest where she had remarked there was some wild fruit that was very good. Giroflée ate a great quantity of it, for she was dying with hunger; but after she had finished her meal, she became very uneasy, not knowing where they should retire for the night—for it was impossible to resolve on remaining in the middle of the forest, exposed to all the perils that might overtake them.

"Are you not afraid, charming Hind," said she, "to pass the night here?"

​The Hind raised her eyes to heaven, and sighed.

"But," continued Giroflée, "you have already perambulated a part of this vast desert;—Are there no cottages here?—no charcoal-burner?—no wood-cutter?—no hermitage?"

The Hind indicated by the movement of her head that she had not seen any.

"Oh, ye gods!" cried Giroflée, "I shall not be alive in the morning: even should I be fortunate enough to escape the tigers and bears, I am certain that fright will be sufficient to kill me! And do not imagine, either, my dear Princess, that I regret perishing on my own account; it is for your sake. Alas! to leave you here destitute of all consolation,—what can be more distressing?"

The little Hind began to weep, she sobbed almost like a human being.

Her tears affected the fairy Tulip, who loved her tenderly, notwithstanding her disobedience. She had always watched over her preservation, and suddenly appearing, she said to her,—"I will not scold you, the situation in which I see you distresses me too much."

The Hind and Giroflée interrupted her, by throwing themselves at her feet; the former kissed her hands, and caressed her in the prettiest manner possible; the other entreated her to have pity upon the Princess, and restore her to her natural form.

"That does not depend upon me," said Tulip; "she who has done her so much mischief is very powerful: but I can shorten her term of punishment; and to mollify it, as soon as day gives place to night, she shall quit the form of a hind—but, as soon as it is dawn, she must return to it, and roam the plains and forests like the other animals."

It was a great relief to cease from being a hind even during the night; the Princess expressed her joy by leaping and frisking about, which delighted Tulip. "Proceed," said she to them, "by this little path; you will come to a hut, as good a one as you could expect to find in such a country." So saying, she disappeared. Giroflée followed her directions; she entered with the Hind the path before them, and found an old woman seated upon the step of her door finishing an osier basket. Giroflée accosted her. "My good mother, ​would you let me in here with my hind?—I want a small room."

"Yes, my pretty girl;" replied she; "I will willingly give you shelter here; come in with your hind." She led them directly into a very pretty room, wainscoted with cherry-tree wood; in it were two little white dimity beds, and fine sheets, and all appeared so simple and clean, that the Princess has since declared that she never saw anything more to her taste.

As soon as it was quite dark, Désirée ceased to be a hind; she embraced her dear Giroflée a hundred times; she thanked her for her affection, which induced her to follow her fortunes, and promised her, she would make her very happy the moment her penance had ended.

The old woman knocked gently at their door, and without entering, gave Giroflée some excellent fruit, which the Princess ate with a good appetite. They then went to bed, and as soon as daylight appeared Désirée, having become a hind again, began to scratch at the door, that Giroflée might open it for her. They were both very sorry to be separated, although for so short a time; and the Hind, having plunged into the thickest part of the wood, commenced running about there as usual.

I have already said that Prince Guerrier had halted in the forest, and that Becafigue was hunting through it in all directions for some fruit. It was already late when he arrived at the cottage belonging to the good old woman of whom I have spoken. He spoke politely to her, and asked her for several things his master wanted. She hastened to fill a basket, and gave it him. "I fear," said she, "that if you pass the night here without shelter some accident will happen to you. I can offer you a very humble one, but at all events it will save you from the lions."

He thanked her, and said he was with one of his friends, to whom he would go back and propose their coming to her house. In short, he knew so well how to persuade the Prince, that he allowed himself to be conducted to the old woman's cottage: she was still at the door, and without making any noise, she led them to a room like the one the Princess occupied, and from which it was only separated by a wooden partition.

​The Prince passed the night a prey to his usual anxieties. As soon as the first rays of the sun were shining in at his windows, he rose, and to divert his sadness, he went into the forest, telling Becafigue not to follow him. He walked for some time without taking any certain path, at length he arrived at rather a spacious place, thickly covered with trees and moss. Instantly a hind started off. He could not help following it—his dominant passion was the chase, but he cared less for it since love had taken possession of his heart. Notwithstanding that, he pursued the poor Hind, and from time to time he let fly an arrow at her, which frightened her to death, although she was not wounded, for her friend Tulip preserved her from that; and nothing less than the guardian hand of a fairy could have saved her from perishing from shafts so truly aimed. No one had ever felt so tired as the Princess of Hinds; such exercise was quite new to her. At last she fortunately took a turn by which the dangerous hunter lost sight of her, and being extremely fatigued himself, gave up the pursuit.

The day having passed in this manner, the Hind was delighted when the hour for retiring drew near. She turned her steps towards the house, where Giroflée was impatiently awaiting her. As soon as she was in her chamber, she threw herself upon the bed, quite out of breath, and in a great perspiration. Giroflée caressed her a thousand times, she was dying to hear what had happened to her. The hour for transformation had arrived, and the lovely Princess resumed her proper form. "Alas!" said she, "I thought I had nothing to fear but the Fairy of the Fountain, and the cruel inhabitants of the forests; but to-day I have been pursued by a young hunter, whom I scarcely saw, so hasty was my flight. A thousand arrows, shot after me, threatened me with inevitable death; I am still ignorant by what good fortune I could have been able to escape." "You must not go out any more, my Princess," replied Giroflée; "pass in this chamber the fatal time of your penance. I will go to the nearest city, to purchase books to amuse you, we will read the new stories that have been written about the fairies, we will compose verses and songs." "Peace, dear girl," replied the Princess, "the charming thought of Prince Guerrier is sufficient to occupy me pleasantly; but the same power which reduces me ​during the day to the sad condition of a hind, compels me to do as hinds do—I run, I skip, and I eat grass like them. At such times a room would be insupportable to me." She had been so harassed by the chase, that she required something to eat immediately; she then closed her two beautiful eyes till the dawn of day. As soon as she perceived it, the usual transformation took place, and she returned to the forest.

The Prince, on his part, had returned in the evening, and rejoined his favourite. "I have spent my time," said he, "in running after the most lovely hind I ever saw; she eluded me a hundred times with wonderful dexterity; I took so true an aim at her, that I cannot understand how she could escape untouched. As soon as it is daylight, I shall look for her again, and I will not miss her the next time." In short, the young Prince, who wished to drive from his heart the idea of a being he believed to be imaginary, was not sorry that his love for hunting amused him, and returned betimes to the spot where he had found the Hind; but she took good care not to go there again, fearing a similar accident to the one she had met with. He looked all around him, and walked about for some time, and, being very much heated, he was delighted to find some apples, the colour of which pleased him; he gathered some, and ate them, and almost immediately he fell into a sound sleep, stretched on the cool grass under some trees, which thousands of birds seemed to have fixed on for their assignations.

While he was sleeping, our timid Hind, eager to find a sequestered spot, came to the one in which he was reposing. Had she perceived him sooner, she would have fled: but she found herself so close to him, that she could not help looking at him; and his heavy sleep so emboldened her, that she stood and contemplated his features at her leisure. Oh, ye gods! what became of her when she recognised him! her mind had been too deeply impressed by his charming form for her to have forgotten it in so short a time. Love, Love, what wouldest thou, then? Must the Hind run the risk of being slain by the hand of her lover? Yes, she exposes herself to that peril; she no longer thinks of her safety. She couched down a little distance from him, with her eyes fixed upon him, not turning them away for an instant. She sighed, she ​uttered some little plaintive sounds, and at last, becoming bolder, she approached still nearer; she touched him, and he awoke.

His surprise was excessive; he saw it was the same hind that had given him so much exercise and that he had been seeking so long a time for; but to find her so familiar appeared most extraordinary to him. She did not wait long enough for him to seize her, but ran off with all her might, and he followed with all his. From time to time they stopped to take breath, for the lovely Hind was tired from having run so much the evening before, and the Prince was not less fatigued than she was. But what caused the Hind to slacken her flight? Alas! must I own it? It was the fear of separating herself too far from him, who had wounded her much more by his merit than by the arrows which he shot at her. He remarked she very often turned her head, as though to ask him if he wished her to die by his hand; and when he was on the point of overtaking her, she renewed her efforts to escape. "Ah, if thou couldst understand me, little Hind," cried he, "thou wouldst not shun me; I love thee, and would cherish thee; thou art charming; I will take care of thee." The air carried away his words, they did not reach her.

At length, after making the round of the forest, our Hind could not run any longer, and slackened her pace. The Prince redoubling his, came up with her with a delight which he could scarcely believe it possible he could feel. He evidently saw she had lost all her strength; she was lying down like a poor half-dead little animal, and only expecting her life to be taken by the hands of her conqueror; but instead of being so cruel, he began to caress her. "Beautiful Hind," said he, "do not be afraid; I will take thee with me, and thou shalt follow me everywhere." He cut some branches from the trees, twisted them skilfully, and covered them with moss; scattered roses upon them, which he gathered from some bushes in full blossom, then took the Hind in his arms, laid her head upon his neck, and placed her gently upon the boughs; after which he sat down near her, seeking from time to time the finest grass, which he gave to her, and which she ate from his hand.

The Prince continued to talk to her, although he was ​persuaded she did not understand him. Notwithstanding the pleasure she felt in looking at him, she became very uneasy as night was approaching. "What will be the consequence," said she to herself, "should he see me suddenly change my form? he will be alarmed and fly from me; or if he do not fly from me, what have I not to fear then alone in this forest?" She could think of nothing but how to escape, when he furnished her with the means himself; for fearing she might want to drink, he went to find some streamlet that he could lead her to. While he was seeking it, she quickly stole away, and safely reached the cottage where Giroflée was waiting for her. She again threw herself upon her bed, night came, her transformation ended, and she appeared in her own form. "Wouldst thou believe it, my dear Giroflée," said she, "my Prince Guerrier is in this forest; it is he who has been hunting me for the last two days, and who, having caught me, caressed me a thousand times. Ah, how untruthful is the portrait they have brought me of him! he is a hundred times handsomer. All the disorder of an eager huntsman's dress, far from detracting from his appearance, gives a charm to it which I cannot explain. Is it not most unfortunate, that I am compelled to fly from this Prince,—he whom my parents have chosen for me,—he who loves me, and whom I love? A wicked fairy must needs take a dislike to me, from the day I was born, and afflict me for the rest of my life." She began to weep; Giroflée tried to console her, and encourage a hope that her sorrow would soon be changed to happiness.

The Prince returned to his dear Hind, as soon as he had found a spring, but she was no longer where he had left her. He sought for her everywhere, but in vain; he felt as much vexed with her as though she possessed reason. "What," exclaimed he, "shall I always have cause to complain of this deceitful and unfaithful sex?" He returned to the good woman's cottage very melancholy; he related to his friend the adventure with the Hind, and accused her of ingratitude. Becafigue could not help laughing at the Prince's rage; he advised him to punish the Hind when he met with her again. "I shall only remain here for that purpose," replied the Prince; "we will afterwards continue our journey."

​Daylight returned, and with it the Princess resumed her form of the White Hind. She knew not what to do, whether to seek the places the Prince generally frequented, or to take an opposite direction and avoid him. She decided upon the latter, and went very far away; but the young Prince, who was as cunning as she was, did the same thing, firmly believing she would adopt this little ruse, so that he discovered her in the thickest part of the forest. She was just fancying herself perfectly safe, when she caught sight of him. She instantly bounded up, and jumped over the bushes, and, as if she feared him still more on account of the trick she had played him the preceding evening, she flew faster than the winds; but at the moment she was crossing a path, he took so good an aim at her, that he lodged an arrow in her leg. She was in violent pain, her strength failed her, and she fell.

Cruel and barbarous Cupid, where wert thou then? What! couldst thou suffer an incomparable girl to be wounded by her affectionate lover? The sad catastrophe was inevitable, for the Fairy of the Fountain intended this to be the end of the adventure. The Prince came up; he was sensibly affected to see the Hind bleeding. He gathered some herbs, bound them round her leg, to alleviate the pain of the wound, and made her a new bed of branches. He placed the Hind's head upon his knees. "Dost thou not deserve what has happened to thee, little runaway?" said he. "What did I yesterday, that thou shouldst have abandoned me? It shall not happen again to-day; I will take thee with me." The Hind did not answer: what could she say? She was wrong, and could not speak; for it does not always follow that those who are wrong will be silent. The Prince lavished a thousand caresses on her. "How grieved I am that I have wounded thee!" said he; "thou wilt hate me, and I would thou shouldst love me." To hear him, it seemed as if some genius secretly inspired him with all he said to the Hind. At last the time arrived for returning to the old woman's; he lifted up his game, and was much inconvenienced by carrying it, leading it, and sometimes by dragging it.

She had not the slightest wish to go with him. "What will become of me," said she, "alone with this Prince? Ah! I would rather die!" She made herself as heavy as she could ​and burdensome to him: he was streaming with perspiration, from fatigue; and although he was now not far from the cottage, he felt that without assistance he could not get his captive home. He went to seek his faithful Becafigue; but before he quitted the Hind, he tied it by several ribands to the foot of a tree, that it might not get away.

Alas! who could have thought that the most beautiful Princess in the world should have been treated thus by a Prince who adored her! She tried in vain to break the ribands; her efforts in doing so drew the knots still tighter, and she had nearly strangled herself with a slip-knot he had unluckily made; when Giroflée, tired of being so long shut up in her chamber, walked out for a little air, and passed by the spot where the White Hind was struggling. What was her distress when she perceived her dear mistress! She could not untie the ribands fast enough, which were knotted in different places; and the Prince arrived with Becafigue just as she was about to lead away the Hind. "Whatever respect I may have for you, Madam," said the Prince to her, "you must permit me to object to the robbery you would commit. I have wounded this Hind; she is my property; I love her. I entreat you to leave her to me." "My lord," civilly replied Giroflée (for she was very polite and gracious), "this Hind belonged to me before she did to you. I would much sooner give up my life than her; and if you would be convinced how well she knows me, I only beg of you to give her a little liberty. Come, my little white darling," added she, "embrace me;" the Hind jumped on her neck. "Kiss my right cheek;" she obeyed. "Feel my heart;" she put her foot there. "Sigh;" she sighed. The Prince could no longer doubt what Giroflée told him. "I restore her to you," said he, generously, "but, I own, not without much regret." She instantly departed with the Hind.

They knew not that the Prince lived in their house; he followed them at a distance, and was surprised to see them enter the good old woman's habitation. He went in very shortly after them, and, urged by a movement of curiosity which the White Hind had given rise to, he inquired who the young woman was. The old dame replied, that she did not know; that she had taken her to lodge there with her Hind; that she paid her well; and that she lived very retired. ​Becafigue asked, which was her chamber. She told him it was so close to his, that it was only separated by a partition.

When the Prince withdrew, his confidant told him he was the most mistaken of men, if that girl had not lived with the Princess Désirée; that he had seen her at the palace, when he was there as ambassador. "What sad recollections you awake in my mind!" said the Prince; "and by what chance is she here?" "I am ignorant of that, my Lord," added Becafigue; but I wish to see her again, and as it is merely a slight piece of carpenter's work that separates us, I am going to make a hole in it." "Mere useless curiosity," sadly replied the Prince; for Becafigue's words had renewed all his grief: and with that he opened the window, which looked into the forest, and sat at it, ruminating.

In the meanwhile Becafigue set to work, and in a very short time had made a hole sufficiently large to perceive the charming Princess, dressed in a robe of silver brocade, with crimson flowers embroidered with gold and emeralds. Her hair fell in large curls upon the most beautiful neck in the world, her complexion was brilliant, and her eyes were entrancing. Giroflée was on her knees before her, binding up her arm, from which the blood was flowing profusely. They both of them appeared much perplexed by this wound. "Leave me to die," said the Princess; "death would be sweeter to me than the deplorable life I lead. What! must I become a Hind every day, to see him to whom I am betrothed, without speaking to him, without informing him of my fatal accident? Alas! if thou knewest all the tender things he said to me while in my other shape; how sweet the tone of his voice; how noble and fascinating his manners; thou wouldst pity much more than thou dost now my inability to enlighten him as to my fate."

One may easily imagine Becafigue's astonishment at all that he saw and heard. He ran to the Prince—he dragged him from the window, with inexpressible transports of joy. "Ah! my Lord," said he, "lose no time in approaching that partition; you will then see the real original of the portrait which charmed you." The Prince looked through the aperture, and immediately recognised the Princess. He would have died with delight, if he had not feared he was deceived by some enchantment; for how could he reconcile such a ​surprising adventure with the existence of Longue-épine and her mother, who were imprisoned in the Castle of the Three Points, and who had taken the name, one of Désirée, and the other of her lady-in-waiting.

His passion, however, flattered him. We are naturally inclined to persuade ourselves of the truth of that which we desire; and upon such an occasion, one must die with impatience, or obtain an explanation. Without a moment's delay, he went and knocked gently at the door where the Princess was. Giroflée, never doubting but that it was the good old woman, and needing her assistance to bandage her mistress's arm, hastened to open the door; and was much surprised to see the Prince, who entered, and threw himself at the feet of Désirée. The transports which excited him interfered so much to prevent his making any connected speech, that, notwithstanding the pains I have taken to ascertain exactly what he said in these first moments, I have found no one who could much enlighten me on the subject. The Princess felt equally perplexed to answer him; but Love, who often acts as interpreter to dumb people, became a third in the party, and persuaded them both that nothing had ever been said so well, or at least nothing so touching and so tender. Tears, sighs, vows, and even some sweet smiles, succeeded. Thus passed the night. Daylight appeared without Désirée ever thinking about it; and she did not, as usual, take the form of a Hind. Nothing could equal her joy at this discovery; she was too fond of the Prince not to make him the partaker of her delight. She then recited her history to him, which she did with a natural grace and eloquence that far surpassed that of the most skilful narrator.

"What!" exclaimed the Prince, "my charming Princess! is it you I wounded under the form of a white hind? What can I do to expiate so great a crime? Will it suffice to die with grief before your eyes?" He was so sadly afflicted that his distress was painfully visible in his countenance. Désirée suffered more from that than from her wound. She assured him it was a mere trifle, and that she could not help blessing an accident which procured her so much happiness.

The manner in which she spoke to him was so kind, that ​he could not doubt of her love for him. To explain everything in his turn, he told her the trick that Longue-épine and her mother had played him; adding, that he must hasten to send and tell the King his father the happiness that had occurred to him in finding her; for that he was going to war, on account of the insult he believed had been offered him. Désirée begged him to write by Becafigue,—he was about to obey her, when a shrill noise of trumpets, clarions, kettle and other drums, echoed through the forest; they heard also the tramp of many people passing near the cottage. The Prince looked out of the window; he recognised several officers, his own colours and standards. He ordered them to halt and wait for him.

Never was any surprise more agreeable than that experienced by this army; they all imagined that their Prince was going to lead them, and be revenged upon Désirée's father. The Prince's father, notwithstanding his great age, was at their head. He travelled in a litter of velvet embroidered in gold, followed by an open chariot, in which was Longue-épine and her mother. Prince Guerrier, catching sight of the litter, ran to it; and the King, holding out his arms to him, embraced him with a thousand tokens of paternal affection. "And whence come you, my dear son?" cried he. "How could you possibly deliver me up to the grief your absence has caused me?" "My Lord," said the Prince, "deign to listen to me." The King immediately descended from his litter, and retiring into a side path, his son told him of his fortunate meeting with the Princess, and Longue-épine's imposture.

The King, enchanted at this event, raised his hands and eyes gratefully to Heaven; at the same moment he saw the Princess Désirée, more beautiful and more brilliant than all the stars together. She was mounted on a superb horse, which curvetted at every step; a hundred various-coloured feathers adorned her head, and her dress was enriched with the largest diamonds in the world. She was attired as a huntress. Giroflée, who followed her, was scarcely less splendid. All this was the effect of the fairy Tulip's protection: she had managed it all with care and success. The pretty house in the wood was built by her, expressly for the ​Princess; and, under the disguise of an old woman, she had entertained her for several days.

As soon as the Prince had recognised his troops, and gone to seek the King his father, the Fairy entered Désirée's chamber. She breathed upon her arm and cured her wound. She then gave her the rich dress in which she appeared before the King, who was so charmed he could scarcely believe her to be mortal. He said all that one can imagine most courteous upon such an occasion, and entreated her not to delay making his subjects happy by becoming their Queen. "For," continued he, "I am resolved to give up my kingdom to Prince Guerrier, to render him more worthy of you." Désirée replied with all the politeness that might be expected from so well-bred a person; then, casting her eyes upon the two prisoners who were in the chariot, and who hid their faces with their hands, she had the generosity to ask for their pardon, and that they might be sent in the same chariot wherever they would wish to go. The King consented to her request; not without admiring and praising her for her kindness of heart.

The army was ordered to march back again. The Prince mounted a horse, that he might accompany his lovely Princess. They were received in the capital city with a thousand shouts of joy; everything was prepared for the nuptials, which were rendered more solemn by the presence of the six benignant fairies who loved the Princess. They made her the richest presents that could possibly be imagined; among others, the magnificent palace, where the Queen had been to see them, appeared suddenly in the air, carried by fifty thousand Cupids, who placed it in a beautiful plain on the bank of the river. No greater gift could possibly be bestowed upon her.

The faithful Becafigue entreated his master to speak to Giroflée for him, that he might be united to her when he married the Princess. The Prince did so willingly; that amiable girl was very happy to meet with so advantageous an establishment on her arrival in a foreign kingdom. The fairy Tulip, who was even more liberal than her sisters, presented her with four gold mines in the Indies, that her husband should not be able to say he was richer than herself. The ​Prince's wedding festivities continued for several months—each day produced a fresh amusement,—and the adventures of the White Hind were sung throughout the world.

Of the Princess, too much in haste
The pleasures of the world to taste,
And quit a home sagacious Fays
Had built to hide her from its blaze,
The troubles and the transformations
Prove to what perils and temptations
The youthful maid exposed may be,
The world too soon allow'd to see.

And you, to whom Love's liberal hand
Has given charms few can withstand,
Discreetly use your dangerous pow'r;
For Beauty has its fatal hour.
Think not around to scatter darts,
And keep unscathed your reckless hearts;
A shaft may strike on one of stone,
And, glancing, wound to death your own.

The End

1. Vide note, page 179.

2. Louis XIV.

3. This allusion is probably explained by the note to p. 413.

4. Marie Adelaide, eldest daughter of Victor-Amadeus II., Duke of Savoy. A treaty of peace was concluded between France and Savoy on the 4th of July, 1696; one of the conditions of which was the marriage of the Princess Adelaide to the Duke of Burgundy, afterwards the Dauphin. The Princess was received at Montargis by Louis XIV., on the 5th of November, 1697, and the marriage was celebrated at Versailles on the 7th of December following. This allusion shows that "La Biche au Bois" was not written before the close of that year.

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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